condescending twatbags, housekeeping tips, money, politics, sex, silliness, technology, transportation, travel, YouTube

Lime scale, lobsters, lectures, and lost causes…

Today’s featured photo is of the Boothbay Harbor blue lobster. Bill and I visited there for my birthday in June 2011, and I got a picture.

So yesterday’s “boring” post about water and limescale actually generated a lot of comments– for my blog, anyway. I know there are a lot of mommy bloggers out there who go viral and get hundreds of comments on their posts. But they tend to be sunny people who write things like “totes amazeballs”. I’m not like that. But since everybody poops, everybody needs water, and most normal people like to poop in clean bathrooms, I guess yesterday’s potty post resonated! Good for me! And thanks to everyone who read and commented! I probably ought to take a look/see at the bathroom in the basement. I almost never use it, but it also has some lime build up.

There’s still a little buildup, but it looks a lot better than it did yesterday.

And I just looked, and sure enough, that toilet has pretty terrible limescale build up, too. So I treated it with vinegar, and then tried the sink and the water is barely flowing. I have a feeling the pipes have lime in them. I treated it with baking soda and vinegar, but it may need a professional’s attention. This house has pretty terrible lime issues. When we first moved in, the buildup was so bad that we literally couldn’t turn on one of the faucets in the shower. It was completely stilled by calcium. The basement bathroom rarely sees any action, so I guess this is a reminder that it pays to stop in on occasion. Curiously, the toilet on the main floor doesn’t have much buildup at all.

I have a few things on my mind today, so this post is probably going to be multi-faceted. Now that I’ve written more about lime scale, and the payoff from yesterday’s project, it’s time to move on to the next topic. And the next topic is lobster.

A couple of days ago, Bill and I watched some random videos on YouTube. I ran across one about a guy who rescued a live lobster from the grocery store and kept it as a pet. I don’t know what made me decide to watch that video, but I found it absolutely fascinating. It also kind of made me a little ashamed of how much I enjoy eating lobster. This guy brought the lobster home, cut the rubber bands that rendered him helpless, and dropped him in a saltwater aquarium, where he gave him the name Leon and observed his behavior.

This was an unexpectedly fascinating and somewhat sad video… I might not ever be able to enjoy eating lobster rolls again.

I’m sure on one level, Leon is happy enough not to be someone’s dinner. On the other hand, Leon escaped death, but now lives in an aquarium, where he depends on the kindness of the guy who “adopted” him. He can’t really hunt, and he has no lobster friends to hang out with or have sex with… I guess lobsters have sex, and I’m sure Google would tell me if I cared to research further… It might be too early for me to explore the potential joys of lobster fucking, though.

Okay, I have to admit, my curiosity got the better of me. I Googled, and sure enough, lobsters enjoy a rather “kinky” sex life. Apparently, female lobsters attract mates by repeatedly peeing on their faces. And lobsters have urethras under their eyes that evidently make this possible. The female lobster pees on the male, then runs away. Female lobster pee evidently has the magical essence of an aphrodisiac, and after a few days of golden showers, the male lobster gets romantic and loves the lady lobster enough to cause reproduction. Wow… the things you learn on the Internet! And this was all inspired by a YouTube video about Leon, the lobster, who was rescued from the grocery store and now has a job teaching humans more about crustaceans. Leon should be proud. Not everyone has the chops to make it as a YouTube star.

I highly recommend watching the above video, if you’re interested. I legitimately found it informative and entertaining, and it reminded me that the animals we eat are still sentient beings with personality. Sigh… I really should be a vegetarian. Maybe someday I’ll give up my carnivorous ways… live on wine and beer, instead. Which brings me to the last two topics, lectures and lost causes.

Seriously… I don’t like the idea of promoting drinking, but this COVID-19 lifestyle is a real fucking drag. Last night, I had a mild meltdown after reading an article about how Dr. Fauci thinks we’ll be forced to wear masks on airplanes from now on. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. I have a feeling that this prediction of his– while entirely possible– probably isn’t going to happen. Why? Because the world is a big place, and there are parts of it that are still pretty undeveloped. I remember being in Armenia in the mid 90s and seeing that most people there still weren’t wearing seatbelts, even though they have been “required” in most modern places for many years. And I simply doubt that people all over the world are going to embrace being forced to wear masks forever. They are uncomfortable, impractical, and annoying, and while they may save lives, a lot of people are inherently selfish.

Moreover, even in so-called “civilized” places, people are still losing their shit over masks. And they are deeply polarizing, with a lot of smug, self-righteous, left leaning all knowers discounting and insulting those who are legitimately terrified of government overreach and tyranny. Look at how many people are freaking out on airplanes. There are a lot more people wigging out in the “friendly skies” these days. Obviously, the masks are causing stress. And don’t tell me they aren’t. In 2019, there weren’t nearly as many people misbehaving on planes. What’s changed? People have to wear masks. THEY ARE AN OBVIOUS PROBLEM for a lot of people, even if some people don’t think so.

The fact is, you may not mind wearing a mask at all, but that doesn’t mean your neighbor agrees, nor should they have to agree if we’re living in a free society. Disagreeing with masks doesn’t give someone the right to be unruly on an airplane, of course. All I’m saying is that telling someone that masks are “no big deal” is disingenuous. To some people, they ARE a big deal. If they weren’t, there wouldn’t be so much bad behavior, violence, and legal morass surrounding their enforced use. And I think that not respectfully listening and trying to understand why some people aren’t embracing face masks is going to help prolong this situation we’re in.

Now… before anybody comes at me, let me state that I realize that masks are necessary for now. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t wear them. What I am saying is that this talk of forcing people to “mask up” (ugh, hate that expression) forevermore, and dismissing their concerns about the depressing prospect of that, as you tell them it’s “no big deal”, is part of what is driving all of this stubborn rebellion. Nobody likes to be condescended to or lectured– at least not when they haven’t paid tuition and specifically asked for a lesson. Telling someone to “get over it” is rude and disrespectful, and it’s not likely to inspire cooperation. And while you may think they’re rude for non-compliance, there are always other perspectives in any situation. I just think the wise person will take a minute to try to understand the other perspectives, even if they seem ridiculous. At this point in time, even ridiculous people can still vote, right?

When I venture into comment sections and someone raises a concern about masking– even when it’s done in a respectful way– there’s almost always a slew of comments from people who lecture, insult, condescend, or outright dismiss those concerns. Those who are anti-mask, or simply have concerns, then get pissed off and more stubborn, and some of them get pissed off enough to vote in politicians who don’t support mask mandates or vaccines. Unfortunately, a lot of those politicians also don’t support other policies that are community oriented or family friendly. So maybe you don’t have a vaccine mandate or mask requirement, but you also have some white, Southern, conservative yahoo who wants to make guns easier to buy and abortions harder to get.

As for Fauci’s predictions about masks on planes… I will state that I think money will be the deciding factor on this. I think there are people who are already looking for innovations that make it harder to contract illnesses in buildings. There’s a lot of money to be made with a solution like that. You can bet someone out there is looking for a way to filter air so that people stay healthy and productive. It’s not necessarily a trend that arises for the public good, either. It’s because there’s money to be made, and money drives a lot of people into action. Healthy people can work longer and generate more money.

Some people don’t want to travel if they have to wear a mask. Just yesterday, I mentioned a dream I had about moving to New Zealand– probably been watching too many Mama Doctor Jones videos. She is moving to New Zealand. Someone on Facebook mentioned that that sounded nice. I said I don’t want to sit on a plane that long in a mask. Flying sucked enough before the masks. The seats are uncomfortable, the fares are high, the food is inedible, and there are a lot of rules to follow. Now, many people have this dystopian “hall monitor” mentality, where everybody is watching and judging everybody else. Personally, I think I’d rather stay home or drive somewhere, than sit on an already uncomfortable flight for hours with a mask on my face. At least in a car, I don’t have someone watching my every move.

Same goes for cruising. Some people don’t mind wearing masks on ships, but others won’t like it. I think of the ships Bill and I tend to frequent, where booze flows freely. A person could sit and drink all day, if they wanted to. I have also personally witnessed people on ships getting drunk and belligerent. I remember hearing about v-loggers who were on SeaDream last year, documenting the trip, which was supposed to be “maskless”. People got COVID on that trip, and the v-loggers mentioned it, causing SeaDream to force passengers into masks again. The v-loggers were on the receiving end of a lot of anger, mainly because SeaDream cruises are very expensive and people were wanting to escape the COVID rules for a bit. No such luck. I know I don’t want to drop ten thousand bucks on cruise fare for an experience like that. There ain’t enough free flowing Prosecco in the world.

I think about how Royal Caribbean just built several HUGE ships in the last ten years or so, and now they’re in the news because 48 people tested positive for COVID on a recent cruise. Having such huge ships is bound to become a liability, especially if people are turned off of traveling due to draconian rules. Cruising will be probably less popular if people have to wear masks as a general rule. One of the things that makes cruising fun is socializing, and a big part of socializing is seeing people’s faces and non-verbal communication. Masks make it hard to forget the troubles of the world. They are a visual reminder of how fucked up things are. One of the reasons cruises are appealing are that they allow people to forget things that are stressful. So I think forced masking from now on will probably not fly in the long run.

It may not be a bad thing, though, if people travel less. It will be better for the environment. But it will also force some people to find new ways to make their livings. Again, I think money will be what drives this trend. If enough people decide to stay home, the policies will be amended… and/or someone will come up with a way to make traveling maskless safer.

Either way, I think people should try to be more understanding, patient, and willing to listen to other viewpoints without turning shitty. We’re in an unprecedented era for most people who are living, but don’t forget, this is NOT the first deadly pandemic of humankind. One hundred years ago, Spanish Flu killed lots of people. Masks were a thing back then, and I’m sure the thinking was eerily similar that things weren’t ever going to be normal again. But they eventually did go back to “normal”, although we came away with more knowledge.

To take it a step further, think of all of the crazy stuff that’s happened in the last hundred years. I wonder how people felt during World War II. Did they think the war would go on forever? Did they think the world was going to end? Some people probably did… but as you can see, they were wrong. There will be life beyond COVID-19 for those who don’t die from the disease. And I think it will more like it used to be, which may or may not be a good thing. Some of the COVID changes haven’t been bad, after all.

And finally… I think it’s inevitable that most everyone will end up with COVID at some point. But it will eventually be less deadly, because it’s not in the virus’s best interest to kill everyone. I still think getting vaccinated and staying away from other people is the best way to go. And if you have to be in a crowd, masks make sense. But I don’t think they should be something we strive to normalize forever, and I don’t think they’re the end all be all of fixing this problem. They’re just one facet of the solution. This is a problem that needs to be solved, not “lived with”. Fortunately, history shows that some human beings are very good at finding solutions. So that’s what keeps me going, for now…

But, I will admit, sometimes I envy those who have already peaced out of this life. As extraordinarily fortunate as Bill and I are, I find today’s world frightening and depressing, and I wonder what the point of it all is…

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dogs, funny stories, technology

Healthy habits spurred on by butt sniffers and smartwatches…

I have a couple of issues to address today. They aren’t really related, but I don’t feel like composing two posts. I hope you’ll bear with me, anyway.

Our dog, Noyzi, who came to us from Kosovo last fall, has really been turning into quite a charming beast. When we first got him, he was pretty terrified of most things. He was used to living outside with many other dogs, so he’d never encountered glass before. He bumped his head several times on the glass door before he learned that he couldn’t go through it. Now, he knows how to deal with the door and the mesh fly screen we put up earlier in the spring, although that scared him at first, too.

When Noyzi first joined us, he didn’t really know how to walk on a leash. I gave him a few lessons in the backyard before we took him out for his first walk around the neighborhood. He now walks on the leash like a champ and, in fact, even seems more secure when he’s on a leash than when he’s not. He’s become very civilized in that regard, willingly walking behind or beside me. He never pulls or barks, although sometimes if he’s excited or scared, he will freak out a little bit and backpedal. But those incidents are becoming fewer and further between.

Noyzi is a perfect gentleman when anyone rings the doorbell. Almost all of our other dogs, save for C.C. the beagle/husky mix, have barked like crazy when someone comes to the door. Now, Arran barks as usual, but Noyzi stays quiet. He doesn’t rush to the door, trying to get out or greet the stranger. In fact, he really doesn’t bark much at all, except for when the next door neighbor’s Labrador, Tommi, is outside. I have rarely heard him utter more than a few high pitched yips, which I feel pretty sure aren’t the extent of his full on barking capabilities.

I have yet to see Noyzi be food aggressive or aggressive, in general, at all. He patiently tolerates Arran’s figurative rolling pin waving antics. Arran bitches Noyzi out regularly, trying desperately to cling to top dog status, which he never really had when we had Zane. Arran could really only dominate Zane when Zane wasn’t feeling well. But Noyzi, who is several times Arran’s size, puts up with Arran’s bossiness like a champ. I have noticed a little eye rolling, now and again, and Noyzi will sometimes sneak upstairs even though Arran often bitches at him when he tries to invade. But, for the most part, Noyzi quietly and patiently respects his place in the hierarchy and doesn’t make waves.

I couldn’t have asked for a more naturally obedient and intelligent pet. Noyzi doesn’t counter surf, and his begging for food is minimal and endearing. Noyzi didn’t even need to be house trained, which was a hugely pleasant surprise! It was like he was born to be an indoor dog, despite his size. He even enjoys being bathed!

The one thing Noyzi does do, however, is something that is taking a little bit to get used to. You see, Noyzi is the tallest dog we’ve ever had. He’s almost as tall as my hip. That puts his head at just the right place for sticking his nose right in my ass. He doesn’t do this every day… it’s mainly when he’s wanting to take a walk or be fed. Noyzi, like most of the dogs we’ve ever had, now knows how to tell time, more or less. He knows when he usually gets fed or walked.

Noyzi enjoys part of our longer walking route, thanks to the other monitor in my life… Our local Rewe does its part to encourage the bees to do their jobs.

Usually, Arran will come and tell me when it’s time for either of those activities, if I haven’t already gotten started. But now, I’ve noticed that when I go and get dressed for a walk, Noyzi will come upstairs and wait. Then Arran will lead the way downstairs, stopping and pausing on the way to make sure I’m following. Noyzi will station himself behind me and stick his nose where the sun don’t shine. He does it to Bill, too, though not as often as he does it to me. Sometimes, he also gooses me in the ass when I’m putting on my shoes. It’s like he sees my butt as a target… a funny smelling target… and sticks his nose there to light a fire under my ass, so to speak. It’s kind of like a G rated canine version of the “Shocker”. If you don’t know what the Shocker is, Urban Dictionary is your friend.

I probably shouldn’t allow or encourage this behavior, but honestly, I find it kind of funny. Like I said, in the past, we’ve always had medium sized beagle mixes who have been too short to engage in such antics. This is the first time we’ve had a dog large enough to be a legitimate “ball sniffer” or in Noyzi’s case, “butt sniffer”. George Carlin had a hilarious comedy routine about such dogs… Behold:

Noyzi doesn’t do circumcisions… yet.

I guess as long as Noyzi doesn’t push me as I walk downstairs, I’m alright with being spurred on to success. I did manage to get a cute animation from my new Apple Watch the last couple of days. I’m not sure I’ve dished much about my latest toy, and I originally didn’t realize Noyzi and Arran had anything in common with the watch. But now that I think about it, it occurs to me that the watch and the dogs do have something in common. Both the dogs and the watch are spurring me on to take better care of myself. I don’t think either of the dogs do it for my sake. They spur me on for their sakes. But my taking the dogs for a walk is a mutually beneficial and healthy activity for all of us.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago, when I was sitting here at home alone, I decided to order an Apple Watch. I don’t really even need a regular watch, let alone a “smart” one. I don’t have anywhere to be, so I don’t need to know what time it is. Besides, I usually have my phone or iPad with me, or I’m sitting at the computer. Still, I’d been reading about all the nifty stuff on the Apple Watch and decided to order one as a TDY consolation prize/early birthday present. Since we haven’t been traveling, I had the money mostly saved.

The new Apple Watch does indeed have a lot of nannyism health gimmicks that remind users to take care of themselves. For instance, this watch is capable of checking my blood oxygen levels. It prompts me to take a moment to breathe deeply and will pause the exercise if I’m not focused, still, and breathing properly, and encourages me to try again. It reminds me when to go to bed and get up, not that I need any help with that, being married to a man whose brain goes down with the sun (seriously, Bill is practically comatose by 9:00pm, and he’s always up by 5:00am… consequently, so am I). Today, I got a chastising message when I neglected to wash my hands for a full twenty seconds. The watch wanted to know why I hadn’t scrubbed for the right amount of time– was it just a rinse?

Your Grace! Isn’t it nice to be addressed respectfully? I’ll probably subscribe to Apple Fitness+ once my three months are up.

When I take walks and forget to tell the watch I’m “working out”, it will buzz my wrist and ask me if I want it to record my walk. It’s already been recording, mind you. If I answer affirmatively, it will show the time of the walk already in progress, so I don’t miss those precious early minutes before I asked the watch to count the walk as exercise. The new watch comes with three free months of Apple Fitness+. There are three wellness ring goals that it encourages me to meet every day: exercise, standing, and moving (which seems kind of strange, since I mostly stand and move when I exercise). As I get closer to meeting the goals, each ring– light blue for standing, maroon for moving, and light green for exercise– get closer to closing in perfection. I get a cute animation as I meet each goal and a really exciting animation when I reach all three. And if the day is closing and I haven’t moved, stood, or exercised enough, the watch will send me an encouraging message, reminding me to get up off my ass.

Aww… thanks for caring, Apple Watch. Maybe it’s time I named you.

I also get a warning if my heart rate is dangerously high, or the noise in an area is too loud and could damage my hearing. I got a message yesterday asking me if my period has started yet, since it’s overdue… but I am getting old and will soon turn 49, so I expect that my once Swiss watch regular cycles will go horribly awry soon. I read yesterday that the next incarnation of the Apple Watch will even be capable of checking blood sugar.

Of course, I could disable some of these features. I think if I had real life things to attend to, like a job or a child, the constant reminders for every little thing might get very annoying in a hurry. It’s bad enough that the watch reminds me when it’s time for me to play Words With Friends or sends me notices when some strange creep on Facebook wants to “connect” with me. I probably will start to shut down some of the “services” as I get to know the watch better. I probably will keep the exercise reminders, though, because it’s encouraging to keep track of how much I move… and it’s good to be reminded to move.

I’m sure Arran and Noyzi also appreciate that the Apple Watch gives me a reason to take them for a slightly longer route, since the weather is better. I wish I’d had this watch when we lived in Jettingen, where our walks were twice as long, because we were next to a huge forest. I would have definitely had no problem meeting and exceeding the exercise goals there.

Anyway… I appreciate the help and concern from my dogs and Apple Watch for helping me maintain my physical health, especially since I haven’t seen a doctor in about ten years. But I might need one if Noyzi pushes too hard as he herds me toward the door for his daily walk or victuals. I might fall down and bust my ass or break my face. At that point, since this watch is also capable of sending and receiving phone calls (once I connect it to my cellphone plan and pay the fees), it might automatically call 112 for me (Germany’s equivalent to 911 for an ambulance).

Not that I expect anyone to click the link before buying an Apple Watch, or even to buy one from Amazon, but that would sure make a nice birthday gift in sales commissions from Amazon. 😉 As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from Amazon on anything purchased through my site… and my birthday is on the 20th!

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disasters, modern problems, technology, transportation, travel

Get back on the bus, Russ?

This morning, I read an article in The New York Times indicating that many people have quit using trains and buses in cities around the world. Ridership has gone so low that there’s concern that public transportation systems will fail and there will be many related disasters. One of the biggest worries is that there will be a severe effect on the environment, since more people will be driving their own cars. I expect that with more people opting for private transport, there will also be bigger traffic jams and less available parking. However– I don’t think that consequence will happen unless life gets totally back to normal, if and when the pandemic ever ends.

As I read the article about how cities around the world are grappling with the low numbers of fare paying travelers and governments are having to bail out bus and train systems, I couldn’t help but shake my head in wonder. It seems like it would only be natural that people aren’t wanting to use public transportation right now. Here’s a list of reasons:

  1. Most of us have been instructed NOT to travel unless we must.
  2. Many people are working from home, which eliminates the need to commute (and is probably better for the environment, too). Where I live, most businesses are closed, so why would I go anywhere?
  3. Who wants to ride in close quarters with a bunch of strangers, some of whom aren’t practicing social distancing or wearing proper masks?
  4. Who wants to ride on a bus having a bunch of people watching your every move and giving you the stinkeye if you aren’t wearing a mask the way they think you should?
  5. Isn’t it nicer not having to smell other people’s farts or halitosis? How about vomit, urine, poop, smoke, or booze? Or not being smushed standing up on a bus while some yucky guy cops a feel? That happened to me more than once in Armenia, where the buses would be filled until people were literally almost hanging off of them.

To me, it makes perfect sense that fewer people are taking public transportation. I think there are a lot of reasons why they aren’t using it. Some people, who were once bus or train riders, have opted to buy a car. According to the article, used car sales are up, and so are their prices. But some people are walking or riding bikes instead of using public transportation. Isn’t that a good thing, both for their health and the environment? Riding a bike is pretty low impact in terms of causing air pollution. So is walking.

The article makes it sound like the world will end if people don’t get back on the bus. And, I guess, if everyone suddenly starts driving a car instead of getting back on the bus, there could be serious problems. Mass transit systems are valuable sources of employment; they cost money to maintain, and they provide an efficient way of moving people that eliminates the need for parking spaces or sitting in traffic jams. However, more people than ever are working from home. Quite a few folks find that they like working from home and their employers are discovering that working from home is a viable option. They have lower overhead, the employee can handle minor personal business, and there’s no need for a commute. That means the employee can potentially sleep a little longer in the morning and maybe doesn’t have to spend as much money on work clothes or gas.

I read some of the comments about this article. So many people were writing that they don’t want to ride public transportation because they are concerned about anti-maskers spreading diseases. But there are probably just as many people who find riding on public transportation with militant mask enforcers just as unpleasant. I would rather ride privately in a car to avoid both types of people– the ones who don’t comply with the rules and engage in racist tirades, and the ones who act like mask cops and pay their kids to publicly call out rule breakers.

I have repeatedly stated that I won’t be willingly flying or cruising anywhere until the pandemic is under control, and I don’t have to be forced to wear a mask for hours while sitting in a cramped seat, being surveilled by flight attendants and other passengers after I’ve also been groped by airport security and had my bags searched. That just doesn’t sound pleasant to me, even as I understand why masks are important. I simply don’t want to spend money on that experience. For that reason, we’ll drive if and when we can travel. Mrs. Merkel did decide not to do the “hard” lockdown for Easter, but as it stands right now, most places I would want to go to aren’t taking visitors anyway.

I think, ultimately, the answer to this problem is mass vaccination and changing the way we do things. It sucks, although I do think that some of the changes could turn out to be positive. The article in The New York Times predicts disaster if the public transportation systems fail. But if people stop traveling so much for work and leisure, it seems to me that there could be a positive effect on the climate. If more people are able to work from home instead of clogging up the roads every day at rush hour, that could mean less air and noise pollution and less wear and tear on the road systems. And if people refuse to get with the program and get back on the bus as it is now, then perhaps the systems will evolve so that they are more appealing for riders. Hell… maybe more car manufacturers and municipalities will embrace electric cars instead of gas fed ones. That would be good for the environment and reduce noise pollution somewhat.

One thing I have noticed since we moved to Wiesbaden and live close to two Autobahns is that I can really hear the traffic here– both from the massive roads and the flights coming in to Frankfurt. One thing our homes in BW had over our home here is that it was a lot quieter (at least when the landlady wasn’t yelling at me about something).

I did think this article in The New York Times was interesting reading. If you have access to the NYT, I do recommend reading it for a look at how public transit systems around the world are coping, as people have stopped moving around as much. I think the people working in that industry are going to have to come up with creative and cost effective ways to make the system more attractive to riders. And that will mean they might have to consider why people are opting not to ride the bus or the train and adapt as necessary.

I can state that when I lived in Yerevan, public transportation was not comfortable. Riders were expected to cram in as much as possible, and it was not pleasant or safe. Today, I would imagine those buses that used to be stuffed to the gills with passengers are not so much, thanks to COVID-19. But in the 90s, when there wasn’t a pandemic, I remember having my crotch and my breasts explored by someone’s hands as I was mashed up against a stranger who hadn’t bathed in awhile (due to a lack of running or hot water in those days).

Public transport in Germany, pre-pandemic, was generally not that extreme, but I do remember some really crowded rides on the U-Bahn or city trains in Stuttgart. I remember there not being enough seats and almost falling on my face as the trains moved, because I had to stand in the aisle. Believe me, I have had my fill of public transportation. It’s a necessity for cities to have it available, but honestly, if you can arrange your own transport, why wouldn’t you? At least you have a say in how you will ride without having to deal with other people’s bullshit or bad behavior.

Even flying is less attractive these days. I remember how, about five years ago, a young pilot on Germanwings (now Eurowings) decided to kill himself and everyone else on the plane because he was so depressed. He deliberately crashed the plane and killed 150 people. Given how deadly COVID-19 is as it’s begun to mutate, perhaps the odds are becoming riskier for public transport users. Maybe 150 people on a bus won’t die because of COVID-19 spread, but for those who get the illness, it could mean long term disability and a permanent change of lifestyle.

Incidentally, my comments on not wanting to spend money to ride planes, trains, buses, or cruises don’t mean that I’m an “anti-masker”, either. I do follow the rules. A person can agree with the necessity for wearing masks, yet still hate the goddamned things and do what they can to avoid having to wear them. My need to travel is not so great that I have to get with the program, but I understand that I write from a place of extreme privilege. I know most people don’t have the choices I have. My point is, nowadays, since there is a pandemic, one really does take his or her life in their hands when one uses public transportation. City transportation experts should probably consider that, and act and change accordingly.

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humor, royals, technology

God bless Queen Elizabeth II…

I don’t have much to write about today. I wrote about how we spent yesterday on the travel blog, so if anyone is interested in that, click here. Other than that, I just have one more thing to write about, and that is the mighty Queen Elizabeth II and her annual Christmas speech.

I never used to consider myself an Anglophile, even though my earliest memories are of England. As I’ve gotten older and have had a chance to visit my ancestral homeland a couple of times, I find myself more appreciative of England and its immediate environs, to include Ireland, even though Ireland is definitely not England.

This morning, my ex shrink, who is now a friend, shared Queen Elizabeth’s annual Christmas message. I decided to watch it, and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t moved to tears by it. Queen Elizabeth still looks fantastic, and I am awed by her fortitude and attitude of service. She’s 94 years old!

“God Save The Queen”… the band on horseback and the healthcare workers singing were highlights, besides Her Majesty’s wise words. She really is a remarkable woman.

After I watched this video over breakfast, I sat at the table sniffing back tears. At the end of the Queen’s speech, there’s a lovely version of “Joy To The World” sung by NHS workers that made me all weepy. The older I get, the more scenes like this make my heart fill with emotion. It’s nice to be able to cry because I’m moved, instead of because of someone or something hurting me. I love the way the Brits celebrate tradition and pomp and circumstance, and I love the music and humor of Britain. It makes sense that I’d love the Brits, though, since I would have been a Brit if my people hadn’t moved to America. They’re kind of my people.

Then Bill showed me the very cool and pointed “deep fake” version done by Channel 4. Bill earned a master’s degree in cybersecurity a couple of years ago, so he’s particularly interested in this stuff… I thought it was brilliantly done, although I’ve heard that the folks who made it got some flak. It’s a good reminder, though, that things are not always as they seem, especially online.

Always verify your info and double check your sources. What you’re seeing might not be real.

It’s pretty scary how technology has made it possible to alter messages and create disinformation. I, for one, plan to keep this in mind in 2021. Well done, Channel 4! They managed to make this valuable and entertaining message without being mean spirited or preachy. And yes, I laughed after the Queen made me cry.

And if you’re interested in seeing how this was done, check out the video below!

Fascinating! I like that they’re reminding us about how technology can be used to trick us.

Hopefully, in 2021, there will be some sense of normalcy restored. Until then, I’ll keep following Queen Elizabeth II. She’s a wonderful lady and I admire her very much.

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