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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Kind of Phone Call You Dread to Receive

Thanksgiving Day we went to see relatives and enjoy a wonderful meal. After the wife and I got home, we stayed up to watch some television while the children were in bed. We went to bed about 11 pm. Since everyone was off on Friday we planned to sleep in and then see other relatives later that day.

I tend to be the lightest sleeper in the family and usually get up several times during the night. At 3:30 in the morning I woke up and started to head toward the bathroom when I heard voices coming from the kitchen. I headed out there and heard my sister on the answering machine.

“I need you to call mom and dad. I fell and hit my head on the bathtub. I can’t get up or get anybody else on the phone.”

At that point I was able to pick up the phone and talk to her. She told me that she had tried to call my parents and some other folks that she knows. Due to the crumby cell service in her area, she was unable to complete a call to anyone else. I knew she was scraping the bottom of the rolodex barrel if she was calling me. I promised her I would call my parents and get them to check on her. (They live 45 minutes closer to her than I do.)

I hung up the phone and called my parents. They headed over to check on her. My sister lives about 25 minutes from my folks so I knew they wouldn’t arrive until about 4 am.

After hanging up the phone I finally made it to the bathroom. It was then that the seriousness of the situation hit me. My sister is disabled due to something called Trigeminal neuralgia. This condition is caused by a blood vessel compressing the Trigeminal nerve.

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(More info can be found here Trigeminal neuralgia )

Her situation is severe. My sister is on a variety of different pain medications and seems to be getting worse over time.

I was thinking of her, alone and hurting, needing help that due to distance, I was ill-equipped to provide. I really felt for her and began crying. I was surprised at my reaction but at the time I couldn’t stop sobbing. I went to my bed and started texting some people including my sister that lives in another time zone.

At four, I reached out to my parents via text messaging. (I didn’t want to tie up their phone in case they needed to call for some help for my sister.) They informed me that the gate to the subdivision where my sister lives was closed and they couldn’t get in. It was then I learned that they did not have a key to her house, they did not know her house number or street name and they didn’t know how to get thru the gate.
I know they have been to her place many times and that they are helping to pay for my sister’s place; but they had no info on her actual address! I suggested that they call the county sheriff for a welfare check or 911 as emergency folks could get thru the gate. They refused to do so. They told me this had happened once before and it was probably no big deal. I was told they would go home and then check on her in a few hours!

I’m sorry but such an answer was unacceptable to me. My sister made it clear she was in trouble and the idea that no one would check on her really made me angry.

I took a shower, got dressed and then headed over to check on her myself. I know that she had moved earlier this year and I only knew the subdivision where she lived but I was determined to resolve the situation.

We have a mutual friend that lives on the way to her place. I knew he could help me if he was home and not traveling on this four day week-end. At 5 A.M., I was knocking on his door. About two minutes later, he was at the door. I explained the phone call that I had gotten and he drew a map to my sister’s house.

I jumped into the car and was off to find my sister. When I got to her subdivision, the gate was open. One problem solved and now to find her house. I went to the street described to me by our friend. I couldn’t find the house he described so I parked my car and got out my flashlight and began searching for my sister’s car. It soon became clear that something was wrong. I couldn’t find her place. Then I got a text from my friend and he said it might actually be on this other street. I walked back to the car and drove to the other street.

I found her car right away and then knocked on the door. No answer. I walked around the little house and tried to look into the windows. No luck. I went back to the door and knocked again. I heard something inside and then my sister opened the door.

She explained to me how she had fallen off the toilet and hit her head on the bathtub and where else she had hurt herself in the fall. I visited with her for a while. Since I had a small flashlight, I checked her pupils and they were dilated about where I figured they should be for the amount of light in the room. She thanked me for checking on her and then I left.

On the way to the car, I texted everyone I had tried to contact and told them my sister was bruised but ok.

I made good time getting home and got Chick-fil-A breakfast for the family, arriving at home just after sunrise. It was almost time to begin my regularly scheduled day.

Posted by william on 11/30 at 04:26 PM
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Guiltiest Time of The Year

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when people try to make you feel guilty because you have more stuff that other people. I guess this is the Madison Avenue version of the thing my mom used to say to us as small children, “Finish what’s or your plate. Eat your vegetables. Just think of all those starving people in order countries.”

What lesson were my parents trying to teach me by making such statements?
• Keynesian economics?
• For me to be fed some other child must go hungry?
• The butterfly effect? For me not to eat broccoli was to cause famine in Asia?

Now when I go to the grocery store or local fast food place, I am asked to give even more to feed the poor. We have had a “War on Poverty” since 1964 and somehow, after trillions of dollars are spent, we have the same percentage of poor folks in our country as we did fifty years ago. Under Obama, it might even be more.

The claim that really frosts me is the “just one dollar can feed ____ number of people”.

In the local Taco Bell you will see many signs that read, “One dollar can feed four people”. OK, so how come my three tacos and a drink just cost me seven bucks? At those prices feeding my family of four at your restaurant would cost me almost $28.


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Sign in Taco Bell


At the grocery store today, they had coupons that I could presumable buy; one coupon for each meal. A dollar can feed four for breakfast, three for lunch and two for dinner. Really? What kind of banquet and where can I get it for my family?

At your local government school, your kid can get at least two meals a day and it doesn’t even count against your welfare check.

What do you mean there are starving people in our country?

I’ve been to other countries. The poor in our country are better off than most of the middle class people in any other place on the planet. Most middle class in other countries don’t have PlayStations, flat screen TVs, DirecTV, two cars, and kids in the junior soccer league. This is standard equipment for the “poor” in the United States.

I think our definition of “starving” is lacking some truth and transparency.

In our society, most folks in poverty are there for bad choices not because they are “down on their luck”. I’m all for “teaching a man to fish” but when the producers supplement others to the point where the beneficiaries of their hard work don’t want to fish, clean, cook, or do dishes, then the society is broken. “The haves” are not the servants of the “have nots”.

Sometimes I think we are close to the world of Atlas Shrugged; if the producers quit then what would the rest do? Somehow, I can’t see them clamoring for the return of John Galt.

I plan to enjoy my Thanksgiving meal with my family. I’m grateful to God for what he has given me. For me Thanksgiving is not about guilt or greed, but somehow that seems to be the dual themes on television this time of year.

Also, Thanksgiving is not an official holiday so you can work-out your retail strategy for “Black Friday.” What we need is not better deals at the Maul or easier credit terms so our gilded cages are crammed full of more junk. If we really want a “Black Friday” it should be one involving sack cloth and ashes that is dedicated to repenting for our open rebellion against God. Until the spiritual direction of the country changes don’t expect things to get better.

Have a great Thanksgiving and count your blessings; then thank God for them not yourself.

Posted by william on 11/25 at 02:06 PM
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Painless DMV Visit

My wife spends too much time on social media. A few weeks ago, she found this car for sale on Facebook. Yeah, not my first choice either but the car was priced to move at $800.

We ended up contacting the owners. The car was drivable and had some cosmetic issues but to did run. After agreeing to buy it, we did have to remind the owners that state law requires the seller to get the vehicle smogged. Not surprisingly, it failed the first time on visual inspection. The owners replaced a hose and then go it to pass the emissions test.

We paid them for the car and then my wife went on the internet to make an appointment at DMV.


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$800 car found on Facebook


Our appointment was for 9:10 AM. When we got there, the line was literally out the door. There were 12 to 18 people just waiting to get into the building. We got in the appointment line—which was much shorter. After waiting a few minutes, we got to the check-in counter and told the lady why we were there. She gave us a form and clipboard and we waited our turn. A few minutes later, my wife and daughter were at the counter doing the paperwork for the title. After paying fees, taxes and registration, my daughter was out $166 on an $800 car and we were leaving to go home. The whole process was over in about twenty minutes.

I know state workers want to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving so considering that they were shorthanded, I thought things went well. Moral of the story, make an appointment; it will lower your frustration level and save time.

Posted by william on 11/24 at 03:07 PM
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Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Windows 10 Mobile Build 10586

After reading the reviews on this Build, I decided that maybe I should again try running Windows 10 on my phone (Lumia 640). I tried running an older version last spring and uninstalled the software as soon as I could. It was a mess. The reviews on this build gave me just enough confidence to try it again.

A version of Build 10586 is supposed to be available to the public next week so the build is at or very near RTM. (Release To Manufacturing). I figured things were much improved so I started the upgrade last night on my way to bed.

Build 10586.11 updated smoothly. It seems faster and more responsive than Windows 8.1 I have yet to find any bugs or things that don’t work. The phone kept most of the settings for things that I use daily. Yes, a few apps were not compatible and are no longer listed as installed on the phone. I had five errors on apps but they were not things that I needed. I know at least two of the five were replaced by features in Windows 10.

Here was my punch list of things to adjust after the upgrade.

• Bluetooth was off and needed to be turned on when I got in my car.

• The Music app tile on my phone was not directly linked to my music library any more. I ended up removing it and replacing with the Groove Music tile. The Groove Music tile will often be the album cover of whatever song is playing. This is cool.

• Missing from my main screen was Data Sense. I was able to find a new one in Settings and added that to my screen. It retained my settings and usage numbers after the upgrade.

• Web pages that I had attached as tiles opened mobile versions of the pages when I expected to see full desktop versions.

• I had to re-pin the Weather app to my main screen.

After upgrading, do a restart of the phone and then check to see if there are further updates.

Two issues that I am aware of were causing problems for some users.

• First, the unified mail box was removed due to inserting a bug into phone performance for some users. I think this feature will be fixed and available soon.

• Second, Nokia’s Here Maps was disabled. Here Maps was recently sold to a consortium of European auto manufacturers and this might be a factor in the app being turned off. This should only affect people upgrading from Windows Phone 8.1 It is recommended to use Windows Maps. Mapquest, gMaps, and the regular map program all seem to be working.

The people app is still linked with Facebook. I thought this might break after upgrading since it no longer works on my Windows 10 desktop computer.

So far I’m a happy camper with this Build. Try it, you’ll like it.

Update 11-21-2015

After looking thru the phone further, I found that some items did not upload themselves. I have noticed no performance hit because of these. They might be relics that are normally hidden or not fully uninstalled.

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Also, I had to delete my Hotmail account and set it up again to get it to sync.

Based on feedback from others, as a rule nothing Nokia related is likely to follow to Windows 10. Whether it works or not after an upgrade will probably vary for each user.

I don’t use Skype at all and rarely use Facebook but both ended up needing some love to insure they were happy. Skype, must be installed on you phone and not SD card. You may have to adjust you storage setting to get it to install. As you can see, I did have a few lingering problems. I have seen many fantastical claims on how to work thru these issues on the Internet but they are unproven and many involve resetting phone to factory setting. My problem with that is then why did I upgrade if I need to reinstall everything anyway?

Posted by william on 11/20 at 08:54 PM
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Monday, November 16, 2015

Awkward Questions for Dad

Yesterday was one of those awkward days for being a parent. I took my son to the Dollar Store to get stuff for his shoe box for Samaritan’s Purse. This is a great charity and I’m happy to support it. He is doing it as a school project.

While we were at the strip mall, I thought it would be a good idea to check-out the used book store across the parking lot. After looking around the store, he decided he wanted to get a book on mythology. Of course, this happened to be one of the few new books for sale in a place with thousands of used books.

I relented and agree to purchase the book for my son so we go to the counter to pay. Surrounding the counter are many new books for sale. At his eye level is a book that gets his attention so he asked me about it.

“Dad, what’s 50 Shades of Grey about?”

Awkward.

I said, “It’s about people that want to have sexual relations without consequences, but there is no such thing. It’s against God’s rules.”

Hoping I dodged a bullet on that one, we are starting to drive out of the parking lot as he looks at the table of contents for the mythology book. He then asks, “Dad, what’s rape?”

Awkward.

Not knowing where to start, I say, “It’s something that happens a lot in war. A bad guy will kill a man and then force the wife to have sexual relations with him; since she doesn’t want too, its rape. But sometimes it happens here in our country… It’s against the Bible… I think it’s one of the sins that can be punishable by death.”

I know he’s eleven now but I’m not in any hurry for him to grow up.

Posted by william on 11/16 at 06:56 PM
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Sites Reservoir Talks Surface Again

Before I comment on this news report, I wanted to cite the source and some relevant paragraphs because news reports often get dropped off websites after a short time.

A proposed reservoir project in Western Colusa County would help keep more water in Folsom Lake, according to Rep. Ami Bera.

The Elk Grove Democrat announced on Thursday his support for the Sites Reservoir project. The announcement came as state park rangers took Bera on a tour of the dry bed of Folsom Lake.
http://www.kcra.com/news/rep-bera-says-planned-reservoir-would-help-keep-folsom-full/36418428


Later in the article

Bera joins fellow Democratic Rep. John Garamendi and Republican congressmen Doug LaMalfa and Jeff Denham in supporting Sites.

In a statement to KCRA 3, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said she believe Sites “could be a piece of the puzzle in solving California’s water crisis, but there are important financing and operational details that are still being finalized and under my consideration.”

My grandfather used to tell me tales of the Sites Reservoir Project back when Ronald Reagan was Governor of California. The land earmarked for this lake included the thirty thousand or so acres owned by my great grandfather. We used to go deer hunting on the property when I was a kid. In fact I killed my first deer at age ten on this very property.

After my great grandfather died, the estate was thoroughly screwed-up by the Bank of America and then the IRS. As a result the family had to liquidate the property. The new owners promptly came in and cut down every single oak tree on the property. It was horrifying to behold thousands of acres denuded by bulldozers and chainsaws. Somehow cutting all the trees was believed to be a benefit to the cattle that the new owners introduced to the property.

Concerning the Sites Project, I find it a real stretch of credibility that any Democrats would claim to support the construction of Sites were we not in a drought; especially since they are the ones that oppose any new water storage anywhere in the state. Clearly the Sierra Club has not gotten to these folks or perhaps they are remaining quiet in hopes that we will forget these quotes by Democrats hoping for re-election.

As a newcomer, I can somewhat excuse Bera for his remarks; however, John Garamendi and Doris Matsui are without excuse; especially Doris. It was her husband Bob that singlehandedly worked to block the Auburn Dam. It was special interest groups in his Sacramento congressional district that coordinated the campaign with Matsui to kill the dam project.

The proposed Sites Project was well known to Matsui, Garamendi, and other elected officials in California. This project was old news in the 1970’s. Oh, yeah. Jerry Brown knew about it before he ever served his first term as governor. If these folks wanted Sites for water storage, it could have happened decades ago.

Unfortunately, much of this is lip service to current conditions and not a genuine concern for California’s future. After all, a politician’s chief job is to get re-elected.

Posted by william on 11/13 at 07:22 PM
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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Scott Jones in for 2016 Congressional Race

After months of rumors, it appears that Sacramento County Sheriff, Scott Jones, will be the official Republican challenger to Congressman Ami Bera. Jones will supposedly make this official next week. He was recruited by the NRCC.

My thought is that if NRCC isn’t ready to spend at least five million on the race that Jones shouldn’t bother. Congressional Republicans have lots of first term people that need defending so why get involved in CD-7? Unless they’ve calculated that running Jones will pin down lots of Dem money that can’t be used elsewhere this doesn’t make much sense.

Bera has proved to be a prolific fundraiser and formidable candidate. Plus Republicans have run lousy campaigns against him.

Doug Ose lost last time as soon as he ceded Elk Grove to Bera and chose not to put a headquarters in the south county. This was about March of 2014. The campaign was statistically doomed from that decision forward.

I do think Jones could win but the demographic winds for keeping the seat are not favorable. Too keep the seat, Jones will have to do something no Republican has done in decades, use his office and influence to build the party. I wish Jones all the best in his campaign.

Posted by william on 11/10 at 03:56 PM
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Friday, November 06, 2015

Why Both Parties are More Alike

As time goes on, it seems that the Republicans are becoming more like the Democrats. There is less and less difference between the two parties.

Ronald Reagan famously said that he didn’t leave the Democrat Party, they left him.

I‘ve been feeling that way about the Republicans for the last few years. In our current political climate does anybody think Reagan could get the nomination of either party? NO. Most Republican office holders claim the legacy and heritage of Reagan but the reality is that they despise everything that he stands for.

As part of a study at church, I had to dust off my copy of Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto. Ironically, it was written early in the first term of the Reagan Presidency. Thirty odd years after it was written, it seems a summary of where we are today:

“…we must remember that although there are tremendous discrepancies between conservatives and liberals in the political arena, if they are both operating on a humanistic base there will really be no final different between them.”
Francis A Schaeffer
Christian Manifesto Chapter 6; 1982

Schaeffer’s thesis is that Christianity is in a struggle with Humanism over the hearts and minds of men—especially in the West. It’s worth a read if you want to know what went wrong.

Posted by william on 11/06 at 03:32 AM
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