I fear today’s post will be short. I can’t think of anything to write about now. I’ve spent the morning updating various apps, peripherals, and other assorted shit that is supposed to make my life easier. I’ve rebooted the Internet at least three times. And right now, I’m afraid I just want to get away from my computer until a compelling topic comes to me.
The dogs need a walk, but it’s so cold and damp outside. I’m also waiting for yet another Amazon delivery. I got new smart light bulbs to use in the two lamps that don’t yet have them. Those will arrive today, along with a bottle of citric acid, which I use for cleaning lime stains. I also ordered another Echo Dot for our entertainment room.
Tomorrow, I’ll get new storage canisters for things like grits and cornmeal. Why? Because I’m tired of feeding the moths that take up residence in the cupboard because we don’t use our staples fast enough.
I’ve been trying to learn about the new HomePod Mini I bought that arrived yesterday. If you read today’s post on my travel blog, you already know how that’s going… Suffice to say, I think Amazon has done a better job with home assistants than Apple has. For some reason, I cannot, for the very life of me, get my new Mini to sync with the existing HomePod. I’m sure there’s a trick to it, but I haven’t discovered it. I’m getting tired of trying.
I put a plugin called Yoast on the blog recently that turned out to be more trouble than it’s worth. It had me changing my writing style, making the process of blogging more difficult than it needs to be. The app had red indicators that made me feel negative… like I had to appease them before I could post my content. That, to me, is not what writing is about. I enjoy the process of writing, most of the time. But if I have to satisfy a bot before posting, then it’s a lot less fun for me. So I just deleted Yoast today. Sometimes, I need to write longer sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes using passive voice is best for certain situations. And sometimes, I want to start a sentence with the same word. It’s a matter of style.
I do have a book I need to finish reading… and the weather is kind of perfect for it. So is my mood. So I think I’ll fuck off of the blog today and do some reading. At the very least, maybe I’ll have a fresh book review to write. I just don’t feel like posting about my usual topics today. I’m stuck in a rut and need a change. I’d settle for a nice weekend away, so I can post something on the travel blog worth reading. Bill and I are hoping to go somewhere soon… A lot depends on Arran, our senior, scrapper dog with cancer who badly needs a dental. 😉
Maybe I’ll be back later… maybe not.
The featured photo is of the pool at the Upper House hotel in Goteborg, Sweden. It has a glass bottom and juts out from the building, some twenty plus storeys up… I could use a swim out on a ledge. It might make things more interesting.
Reposts can really pay off handsomely… I know this to be true. I’m sure some readers wonder why I recycle content. In fact, I’m reminded of Sting, one of my favorite musicians, who is quite adept at the rehash. Listen to his songs– often, you’ll find snippets of older songs within them. Sometimes, he reuses lyrics from another song, or maybe a riff. He’s also been known to completely redo his songs, even bonafide hits like “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
It can be a good idea to revamp and rehash. Yesterday, I was reminded why, as I looked at my Amazon.com SiteStripe, not expecting any surprises. I have been an Amazon Associate since 2004. After all of those years, I don’t think I’ve so much as made $200 in commissions. I tend to get $10 payments every few months. My purpose in blogging isn’t to sell things, so it doesn’t bother me that I don’t make much money. However, it is nice when making money happens.
Lately, I’ve written more fresh book reviews. However, since I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress, I’ve been reposting old stuff. Old book reviews are very interesting to some people. Lately many people are hitting my review of Going My Own Way, a 1983 book written by Bing Crosby’s son, Gary. Some have also read my reviews of Debby Boone’s 1981 memoir, So Far, and Debby’s sister Cherry’s book, Starving for Attention.
The biggest surprise, though, was revealed yesterday. Within the past couple of days, someone visited my review of Dian Hanson’s 2011 book, The Big Book of Pussy. The person who visited used my Amazon.com link to purchase a copy of the book. Provided they keep the book (and I’m not holding my breath), I’ll get a $22 commission in March. That’s pretty cool!
I bought The Big Book of Pussy completely whimsically about ten years ago. It’s one of a trio of books I own by Hanson. I first noticed Hanson’s 3D photography book, The Big Book of Breasts, in 2009. It was when we lived in Germany the first time, and I was on a day trip to Munich. I was walking past a bookstore when I noticed Hanson’s book in the window. When I moved back to the States, I ordered it from Amazon.
Amazon was doing its usual “suggestive selling”, and they also recommended The Big Book of Pussy and The Big Butt Book. Since I was ordering anyway, I decided to get those books, too. Then, I reviewed all three of them for the now defunct product review site, Epinions.com. Hanson also wrote books about legs and penises, but I decided not to order those. When we moved back to Germany in 2014, I left most of my books in storage. Dian Hanson’s books are big coffee table affairs, and we had limited funds for shipping our household items. Three big books that I don’t look at often would have taken up valuable space and weight.
At some point, Hanson’s artsy body part books went out of print, even though people are clearly still interested in them. I see that reasonably priced and sized “little” versions are available of her books, but not the big ones like I own. Now, I kind of wish I’d brought them with me, because there’s obviously a market for them. In fact, sometimes I catch myself missing other items I have in storage. I wish we had our curio/china cabinet, for instance. I also wish I had my karaoke disc collection, my photo albums, and my mom’s piano. Of course, mom’s piano is extremely heavy, and I don’t play well at all. But I could learn!
I know that sooner or later, we’ll eventually reunite with the rest of our belongings. I just don’t know when that will be. Right now, Bill wants to buy a house in Europe somewhere and settle here. If we do that, it will mean going to the States temporarily to settle our affairs. If we don’t, we’ll just move back home somewhere.
I do appreciate it when people make purchases through my Amazon links. I don’t expect people to do that, but it’s really nice when it happens. It’s a great feeling when someone finds one of my posts useful, especially when it’s a review. I wanted to share this news on Facebook but, given the recently draconian bot discipline over there, I thought better of it. I’m afraid someone might report me for being too “suggestive” when I crow about selling a rare copy of The Big Book of Pussy. Story of my life… I can’t be completely transparent to most people about exactly where I met Bill, either. 😉
Anyway, if you’ve made a purchase through my blog, thank you very much. Especially if you’re the one who bought Hanson’s rare book, which is going for a lot more than I think it’s worth. I hope the book turns out to be all you hope it will be! And if it doesn’t, and you return the book, I’ll understand. Still, I’ve definitely learned that reposts can pay off handsomely. Oh… and sex sells!
Yesterday was an interesting day. After I wrote my too long and too opinionated review of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, Things I Should Have Said, I waited all day for the Amazon guy to show up with my latest toys. I bought an Amazon Echo Dot for my bedroom, as well as a couple of “smart” power strips that I can’t figure out how to configure. I was inspired to make that purchase because Bill bought me an Echo Dot for my office. I don’t really need one for either place, since I have so many other devices, to include my big desktop iMac computer that is outfitted with Siri. But they are nice to have… and it’s kind of fun when Alexa gives me a notification that turns its ring yellow. Makes me think of all the 70s era space travel shows I missed when I was a kid.
While I was waiting for my delivery, I noticed some exciting news coming out of South Carolina, the state where I spent three years earning my “overeducated housewife” status. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the six week abortion law is unconstitutional. The law has been struck down, as the majority of the five justices determined “that the law that restricted abortions after detectable fetal cardiac activity [is] ‘an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy’.” Thanks to the 3-2 decision, abortion is now, once again, legal in South Carolina until 20 weeks gestation. This ruling comes almost two years after current South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. That law made abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, except in limited situations such as pregnancies that would endanger the pregnant person’s life or were caused by rape or incest.
I was heartened to read the comments by Justice Kaye G. Hearn, who wrote the opinion of the majority. She stated, “Few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. Our privacy right must be implicated by restrictions on that decision.”
Naturally, some people were rattled by Justice Hearn’s statement. I noticed the ones who were quoted in the Washington Post article link I unlocked were all MEN. Governor McMaster tweeted, “Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority. The people have spoken through their elected representatives multiple times on this issue.”
McMaster added that he “look[s] forward to working with the General Assembly to correct this error.”
I find McMaster’s wording very intriguing. He wrote, “Our State Supreme Court has found a ‘right’ in our Constitution…” That’s right, Henry. It is a RIGHT. I lived in South Carolina and worked in maternal and child health and healthcare policy there. I know about South Carolina’s moronic and ineffective approach to preventing unintended pregnancies… Just tell the girls to abstain.
Well, it’s not their public health approach, really. I found the public health folks working at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to be quite intelligent and informed on the issue, including why it’s important that women have access to abortion healthcare. It’s the right wing MALE legislators who have their heads firmly lodged in their asses. These same folks have no desire whatsoever to do anything to help people who find themselves unintentionally pregnant. They don’t give a damn about making sure those babies are born healthy to people who are prepared to raise them. It’s all about fear and shame, and telling women to keep their mouths closed and their legs crossed. Ridiculous… and completely unrealistic.
I don’t see how McMaster’s comments square with what happened to our federal rights to have abortions. For fifty years, women all across America had that right, and it was unceremoniously taken away from us by Trump’s trio of pro-life “activist judges”. Now, McHenry is accusing his own state’s Supreme Court judges of “exceeding their authority”, simply because he doesn’t agree with their interpretation of South Carolina’s Constitutional law. They were doing their jobs, Henry. You should do yours, and work for the betterment of ALL South Carolinians, not just your hyper-male, conservative, Republican buddies. 😉
The other quote in the article comes from another Republican male, Jeff Duncan, who says he’s “extremely disappointed” with the decision made by “activist judges” in South Carolina. Sounds to me like these judges are compassionate, Jeff. Do you have the same level of compassion for women who, for whatever personal, private reason, do not wish to be pregnant? Do you value the right to privacy for all people? Why should a woman who finds herself unintentionally pregnant have to justify terminating her pregnancy to ANYONE? It’s her BODY, Jeff; not yours. You will never face this choice. You will never have to deal with the multitude of changes that happen when someone gets pregnant. So kindly develop some compassion for the already born, and do what you can to make life better for them. Maybe then, your constituents might not feel like they need to have an abortion for reasons you don’t deem “acceptable”.
It seems to me that people who don’t like abortion should simply not have one. They should not lobby to take that right away from other people. Developing embryos and fetuses don’t have a concept of abortion, nor do they experience pain until quite late in pregnancy, beyond when the vast majority of people would consider having an abortion. And those who do, almost universally do so because the alternative to having one would be much worse.
Even MAGA idiot Donald Trump has recently opined about the foolishness of being extreme about taking away women’s abortion rights. He was recently complaining about the Republicans’ poor showing during the midterms. He said on his very own Truth Social:
“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the midterms.” Then he added, “It was the ‘abortion issue’, poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters.” Then he finished with, “Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”
Those comments are now prompting anti-abortion groups to fire back, and indeed, a bunch of Trump’s former supporters are turning on him. I guess they’re finally seeing what some of us have noticed all along. But, in this case, Trump is actually right. A lot of people in the United States are legitimately angry about abortion rights being taken away. And many of the pissed off among us are women who would ordinarily vote Republican. Those women, many of whom are business people whose livelihoods could be adversely affected by unintended pregnancies, don’t want to be forced back into the kitchen. Quite a few of the rest of them are, like I am, disgusted by the idea that they would have to explain to anyone why they want or need to have an abortion. It’s, quite frankly, no one else’s business, no matter what the reason is. And basic privacy is, if not a right, an expectation, especially when it comes to healthcare. Abortion is healthcare for the already born women who need it, even if it’s not for the developing embryos or fetuses who have the potential to be born.
I, for one, am so ready for this issue to be settled, once and for all. This constant back and forth ping ponging about abortion is ridiculous, and it’s preventing actual work from being done to help the rank and file already born people who are actually struggling to survive. When a person is having trouble paying their bills, the last thing they want to be is unexpectedly pregnant, especially when they live in a state that is notoriously stingy about funding social welfare programs. And I am SO SICK of MEN inserting themselves in this issue, especially since a lot of them don’t even know the first thing about pregnancy or even female anatomy. They just want control over women. It’s plain and simple. Of course, some of the idiot Republican males who are claiming to be “disappointed” about this decision would not hesitate to provide access to and pay for abortions for their knocked up daughters or mistresses, would they?
It was totally random that I reviewed Jamie Lynn Spears’ book yesterday, and she is now participating in a new Fox reality show called Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test. I heard about the show yesterday, which also includes actress Beverley Mitchell, gymnast Nastia Liukin, Kate Gosselin (who has already washed out), and Dr. Drew Pinsky (also already eliminated). The first two episodes dropped on Wednesday, so I downloaded them yesterday and watched. I have to say, I found the show kind of boring and hokey. But… the cast mix is kind of interesting, given that it’s a mix of a lot of different kinds of people, to include reality TV stars, Olympic athletes, and actresses. I’ll probably watch the whole series and groan the whole time.
Happy Friday, everybody! As I wrote in today’s travel blog post, we had gorgeous weather yesterday. We went to the weekly market, since Bill is pretty much done with COVID. Afterwards, we came home and listened to the last of Bob Woodward’s Audible book, The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump. I must admit that I was glad to hear the end of the book, not because I don’t think Woodward did a good job, but because I hate listening to Donald Trump. And because this is an Audible book, it doesn’t exist in a print version. I can understand why it’s not in print, as I don’t think people would get the same experience from reading text as they do actually hearing Trump speak, but I still find listening to Trump a very painful experience. However, I am not sorry I bought Woodward’s first solely Audible effort. It was very educational.
—“I’m doing something here that I’ve never done before, presenting the lengthy, raw interviews of my work. In the fall of 2019 through August 2020, I interviewed President Trump 19 times for my second book on his presidency, Rage. I had also interviewed him in 2016 when he was a presidential candidate. I decided to take this unusual step of releasing these recordings after relistening in full to all 20 interviews. As I listened to them again I was stunned by their relevance to understanding Trump. Hearing Trump speak is a completely different experience to reading the transcripts or listening to snatches of interviews on television or the internet.”—Bob Woodward from The Trump Tapes
While I can’t speak for everyone, I know that Trump’s effect on my attitudes regarding politics has been remarkable. Just a few short years ago, I was one of those people who didn’t pay a lot of attention to politics or politicians. I didn’t care who people voted for, and I mostly didn’t care who ran for office. I mean, sure, in my 40s, I cared more than I did when I was a young woman. But I mostly didn’t think it mattered much who was in office. Trump’s time in the White House changed all of that, and now I find myself watching political pundits on YouTube and CNN. I find myself deeply resenting unhinged, extremist politicians who seem to be hellbent on destroying democracy. And I think Donald Trump is the main reason this has been allowed to happen. While I do appreciate that he’s made me a less apathetic American voter, I despise Trump. I did hesitate before I downloaded Woodward’s project, but ultimately decided that it was something Bill and I could share. So, over the past three nights, we’ve been listening to Woodward’s interviews… as best as we were able to, anyway.
I’ve read a few books written by Bob Woodward, who has enjoyed a long career as a journalist for the Washington Post. He is an excellent writer and researcher, and he’s a very good, patient interviewer, as he obviously had to be to have conversations with Trump. The Trump Tapes was released on October 24, 2022, and the work represents twenty interviews the ever patient and professional Woodward had with Donald Trump, before and during his presidency. Woodward has interviewed many politicians and former presidents, as well as our current president, Joe Biden. He is well qualified to undertake this project. I think he did a good job, although I know this project will obviously not be a hit with everyone. Trump still has his cheerleaders, after all.
As we listened to the eleven plus hours of content in The Trump Tapes, I noticed that at the beginning of his political “career”, Trump seemed a lot more rational than he does today. The first interviews start off sounding somewhat sane and sensical. By the end of the book, Trump talks over Woodward, interrupting him constantly, spews lies and obvious untruths, and makes some truly ridiculous comments that are easily disproved. He honestly sounds like a deranged maniac by the end of the book, and I couldn’t help but really appreciate Woodward’s ability to stay cordial, congenial, and professional as he struggled to cover his subject. Woodward has what sounds like a strong Midwestern accent, and it’s obvious to me that his strengths aren’t necessarily in narration. Still, I had no trouble understanding him, except in a couple of interviews when the audio quality wasn’t as good due to the circumstances of when and where the recordings were made.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post, when I mentioned The Trump Tapes, that Trump is very friendly and forthcoming to journalists who convince him that they’re “on his side.” Woodward manages to stroke Trump enough to get him to speak in an astonishingly forthcoming manner, which as an American citizen who also has a tendency to be outspoken, was shocking even to me. Trump speaks to Woodward as if they’re old buddies, casually referring to him as “Bob”, while Mr. Woodward deferentially calls Trump “Mr. President.” You know that Trump was LOVING and expecting that “respect” and deference, right?
Hats off to Mr. Woodward for his incredible patience, which allowed him to achieve that impression of respect for Trump. I think that’s what made it possible for him to deliver the goods in the form of a hell of a story. That’s a true gift, in my opinion. I don’t think I could have done it. Trying to interview Trump is obviously extremely frustrating. Listening to him is frustrating, too; but I think that was Mr. Woodward’s point. A person who is running the United States shouldn’t act or speak like Trump does. There were times, especially toward the end of the book, when Trump sounded a bit like a lunatic. And yes, as to be expected, Trump constantly self-aggrandises and congratulates himself. It’s infuriating, yet illuminating.
I see that a lot of reviewers on Amazon are polarized on the subject of The Trump Tapes. Woodward is, after all, preaching to the choir. People who like Trump aren’t going to buy and listen to his blather as put out by a journalist who obviously has a negative opinion of their orange Jesus. In fact, those of us who agree with Woodward might not want to buy this book either, because we don’t want to listen to Trump. I know I paused before buying for that reason. I did notice that a lot of people who clearly didn’t buy the book left one star reviews and accused Woodward has having TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Frankly, I think if anyone is deranged, it’s the people who doggedly defend Trump, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of what and who he is.
I certainly didn’t need to hear Trump’s unhinged bullshit to know that I won’t ever be voting for him or his acolytes. However… I am actually glad that Bill and I listened, because it confirmed what we already know, and I gained new appreciation and respect for Mr. Woodward’s skills as a journalist. He might not make a lot of money on this project, but I think he’s done a great service for the nation. Truly. Some people are saying that maybe these interviews were “edited”. I don’t think so. I’ve heard enough of Trump to know that he’s as bad as he sounds. I suspect that some of his supporters, even in the face of actual recordings, don’t want to believe that they voted for someone this corrupt. It’s a hard thing to admit. We all make mistakes. I just hope some people will open their eyes and make better choices before it’s too late.
One person complained that this book is only available on CD or on Audible, which they said they didn’t want to join. I want to comment that I don’t make a habit of buying Audible books. The only title I have, besides this one, was James Taylor’s book Break Shot: My First 21 Years, which was only available on Audible. I didn’t have to “join” anything to get these books. I just bought them on their own. I double checked my Amazon subscriptions, and I’m still just a member of Prime. Maybe Audible is included in that. I do see that people can join Audible Plus, which I guess offers books for a monthly fee. I prefer to read rather than listen, so I wouldn’t want an Audible Plus account. I don’t know. I do have an Alexa device, so maybe that was also an issue for the people who complained. The commenter also asked who has a CD player these days. Actually, I have one of those, too. In storage, I have several hundred CDs, so I’m going to keep my equipment for as long as it functions. I also still have a VCR, but I’m not sure if it still works.
I wouldn’t want to subscribe to Audible Plus just for this book, but I am glad that I was able to download it. I’m also glad I’m done with it and don’t have to listen to it again. As important and valuable as I think Woodward’s book is, I don’t want to subject myself to it again. I’m hoping I won’t need to, as Trump someday rides off into the sunset… or finally passes away, as even he must mercifully do at some point.
Below is a screenshot I took of an Amazon review that I think pretty much sums up what I think about the content, only she says it better than I can. I will admit that we were a bit distracted as we were listening; I didn’t take notes, either, so the experience is a bit of an aural blur. What I do remember is that a lot of his emphasis was on the stock market, money, and whether or not people were with him or against him. In other words, it’s nothing we haven’t heard before from Trump, or any other obvious narcissist.
Should you listen to The Trump Tapes? Well, that depends. As I mentioned, I didn’t find listening to this book particularly pleasant, nor did I pay attention with rapt concentration. But I did hear concrete evidence as to why I can’t ever vote for anyone affiliated with Trump or his minions. A lot of innocent people suffered and died due to Donald Trump’s insatiable greed and complete lack of regard for the citizens of the United States, particularly during the height of COVID crisis. He is an irresponsible, arrogant, incompetent, and uncaring man, and he has no business serving as an elected official. I knew that before I listened to The Trump Tapes, but now I am even more convinced. Basically, we had the Wizard of Oz in the White House for four years. It’s time for us to wake up and elect someone who cares, and actually wants to deliver something to every citizen, not just the super rich and powerful elites. If you need further proof as to how disastrous Trump is, then yes, you should listen to The Trump Tapes… if you can stand it, that is.
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Yesterday was a somewhat exasperating day. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, I had to call USAA because of their heavy handed fraud alert system. I think it was triggered on Sunday night, when I decided to buy some underwear from Amazon. I use Amazon a lot, but because I had been traveling and had set a travel alert, I guess USAA’s bots figured I shouldn’t be ordering underwear. I’m wondering what would have happened if I’d tried to use my debit card in France.
I didn’t realize I had tripped the fraud alert until I went to order some brandy from my favorite Armenian brandy retailer, another vendor I use pretty often. I went to pay for my order, which included a bottle of apricot brandy for a local friend, when I realized the payment didn’t go through. Then I saw an urgent automated email from USAA telling me that they’d “tried to contact me” and I hadn’t answered. I didn’t answer, because I wasn’t wearing my Apple Watch and didn’t have my phone with me. I didn’t realize I’d need those items for buying underwear from a vendor I use all the time.
I got really pissed. Why? Because this happens ALL THE TIME. Several months ago, when I was trying to book hotels for our trip to Croatia, Austria, and Slovenia, I got the same annoying fraud alerts from both USAA and PenFed. And because I live several hours ahead of USAA and PenFed, and it was the weekend, I had to wait hours before I could call them and straighten out the situation. It used to be that USAA would send me an email or text asking me to verify things. And I did notice that they sent texts this time. But again, I didn’t have my phone with me, because it was just underwear.
You can’t send USAA an email, so I complained on their Facebook chat. “Jason” responded with apologies, but I never heard from him again. Thanks for nothing, Jason. I can see that I did the same thing in October, when they blocked my card as I was trying to book lodging. I complained then, too, and even spoke to someone who called me while we were traveling. Fat lot of good that did.
Yesterday morning, as I was composing my blog post, I got an automated call from USAA. I answered it and verified the charges. The automated voice on the other end of the line said that my card was open and I didn’t need to do anything else. Wonderful. So I went back to the Armenian brandy purveyor and successfully completed an order… which tripped the fucking fraud alert system again. But again, I didn’t know I had tripped the fraud system, so I downloaded a couple of albums.
A couple of hours later, I was walking the dogs, and I got another fraud alert on my phone/watch. I tried to answer the watch while juggling my dogs. I had to give up, though, because it was impossible to walk the dogs and answer the phone. I checked my iPad and noticed that Apple had sent me a message that my card was declined. So I called up USAA and spoke to a very pleasant representative. Really, she was very nice… much like the representatives used to be, when USAA was still customer service oriented. I expressed my frustration at having to make international phone calls every time I need to unblock my card(s). I told her that I was strongly considering changing banks because of this issue.
I do have an account with PenFed. I used to have a checking account with them, but closed it because they charged a fee if the minimum balance wasn’t high enough. Last night, I started an application for another checking account with them, just so I have an alternative to USAA. But really, I think it may be time to migrate our business elsewhere. PenFed is also a bit of a pain in the butt about fraud alerts and shutting down access to things. I’ll have to call them later today to verify my identity because of the checking account request I made last night.
USAA really has gone downhill… and not just because of these customer service issues, but also because I suspect it’s a very culty kind of a place. I remember when Bill was looking for a job in 2014. He spoke to people at a USAA job fair and they asked him if he knew anyone who worked at USAA. He said he didn’t, and it became very clear that not knowing someone there was the “kiss of death”. It didn’t matter that he’s a retired veteran with about 30 years of service, or that he’s been a member of USAA since 1984, or that I’ve been a member for 27 years. I remember writing about that incident on my original OH blog, and USAA’s public relations goons stalked that post for months. If it had been up to me alone, I would have ditched them years ago.
Another thing I noticed last night was that, unbeknownst to me, Amazon put my underwear order on my credit card when the debit card was declined. That isn’t a huge deal, since the order was for less than $100, and I have a huge credit line. I’m just very particular about what I charge on my credit cards. I usually only use them for large purchases or travel. I did make a big payment this morning to cover our trip to France, though. I guess I need to remove that card from Amazon so they don’t do that again.
And then, after I straightened out the USAA blocking issue, I got an alert from Corona Warn, which is a German app where one can upload vaccine certificates and monitor the COVID situation in Germany. I also have a German app called CovPass, which is what I used exclusively when we traveled. We had to show our vaccine certifications at our hotel and in restaurants. The Germans and the French have different procedures. In Germany, we had to wear FFP2 masks and show the QR code, as well as our IDs. In France, surgical masks were okay, and after we showed our vaccine certifications, we were allowed to unmask.
So anyway, even though I didn’t use Corona Warn when I showed my vaccine certs, it was monitoring my location. And yesterday afternoon, I got a message from them, letting me know that I was exposed to COVID-19 sometime on March 2, 2022. It was either at a McDonald’s I went to when I needed to pee, or it was at the restaurant in Stuttgart where we had lunch. Either way, the exposure was five days ago, and we have been in France for most of those days.
Now… I don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19 at all, and I pretty much lead an isolated existence as a general rule. I don’t use public transportation, and once we got home from our trip, I have stayed at home, with the exception of a very short walk I took with the dogs yesterday as I was trying to deal with USAA. But when I got the “red tile”, as they call it, I went to the app to find out what I’m supposed to do now. I found information that was posted in December 2021. According to that info, I’m supposed to go home, check for symptoms, call the health department or my “doctor” (which I don’t have), get tested for COVID (supposedly free of charge), and if I have a positive result, isolate and share my test result.
I should mention that Bill doesn’t have Corona Warn on his phone, so he did not get an alert. However, since we were together the whole time, I guess he would get a “red tile”, too, if he had Corona Warn, which was silently monitoring me based on my cell phone’s location and bluetooth technology. While I understand how this works, it’s a little creepy that this app was monitoring me, even though I wasn’t using it when I showed my certifications.
The instructions on what to do are kind of confusing, depending on a person’s vaccination status. Because I am fully vaccinated, it’s supposedly not compulsory for me to quarantine. But the exposure happened six days ago, anyway. And if I hadn’t had it on my phone, I would never have gotten this alert at all, tardy as it is. I had to make a separate Apple account for the German store to even get these apps, since they weren’t available in the US store last summer, when I downloaded them. That was a bit of a pain, too. I have heard that CovPass, at least, is now in the American Apple store. I’m not sure about Corona Warn.
The tile will turn green again on March 16th. Fortunately, I don’t think we have any big weekend plans… Bill says he’s going to do the taxes. I’ll probably work on my latest jigsaw puzzle… or maybe we’ll clean up the backyard and bring up the furniture for the forthcoming warmer weather. And maybe we’ll enjoy some of the Ukrainian vodka I just ordered. My German friend says she knows a lot of people who get the “red tile” and never get sick with COVID. It’s just a very sensitive app that lights up if you’re even in the vicinity of someone who has tested positive and shared that information with the app. Obviously, not everyone does that, though, so really, I could have been getting red tiles for months.
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