Thursday, January 28, 2021

Isolated and Alone? Want to Feel Better, Volunteer!

 On the street corner of a large City stands a Man though we are not sure what he is waiting for. Walking along comes another man who reaches into his pocket, pulls out a ten dollar bill and hands it to the waiting Man. The Man getting the ten dollar bill is excited, and does not know what to say other than say thank you.

This scene repeats for some weeks until one day the Man giving away the ten dollar bill doesn't show up. The waiting Man changes from expecting the money to being angry. "Where is that Bum with my ten dollars!", he thinks to himself.

In some ways, we are that man. Before the pandemic we did what we did, and it became an expectation we would keep doing it. Now that we can't do those things we used to do, we rail against the air. Some of us are unhappy, others depressed, feeling the weight of isolation weighing heavily.

Our feelings are a result of the choices we either have not made or refuse to make. We do not need to feel isolated. perhaps we can not do all the things we were doing a year ago, but life goes on. Life changes, circumstances change. We need to change and adapt too. If we refuse to change and adapt we become extinct, sometimes literally, as some people see suicide as an only alternative to their lost pre pandemic life.

In a world of constant change, it is surprising how entitled we can feel and anti change we become. We can't do a few things we used to do, and we refuse to do things we can. We blame the pandemic because our world has changed and we have not.

If you are in the group that feels lost and isolated, you can make changes in your life to replace many things you used to do. The best way to break a habit is replace it with another habit. The best way to bring value back into your life is to create positive change. You do not have to sit in a proverbial dark room feeling lost and alone.

One simple way to feel good about yourself and your life is to Volunteer. As silly as volunteering may sound, making changes in another's life, makes a world of difference to our own lives and feelings of self worth. Become a pen pal either through email or snail mail and brighten someones life who may be shut in for reasons besides the pandemic.

Being a Pen-pal only takes a few minutes of your day and the satisfaction of making a friend, puts your life in perspective. Pen-pals can easily be found by doing a search for, "Pen Pals" on the web. Look through the list of sites and check a few sites out. Being a Pen-pal, you may make a connection at a deep level with someone like you.

If you want something more people oriented, check out the world of volunteering. Being a volunteer is both satisfying and rewarding. I have been a volunteer computer instructor, IT department, English as a second language, and a mentor for grade school and high school kids. Volunteer requirements have changed a little with the pandemic, but the need is still there. Someone needs you in their life.

Doing something for others feels good, I won't lie. If you have certain talents, share them. If you can cook or bake, taking part of your day and make something, and share your creation with a neighbor or a stranger on the corner. This opens up a world of possibilities.

Someone you share your food with may receive from you the only real food they will have that day. A few cookies given to neighbor may lead to life changes you never imagined. You may find yourself being offered a position you never dreamed of. When I was a computer tutor, I was offered a job of running the Computer Center. Who would have thought?

If you do not know what you want to do, but want to do something, web sites or phone calls to your local American Red Cross is a great option. You may end up volunteering for a non profit organization doing something you always wanted to learn, to a much needed virtual support volunteer position. Use the web to help find something you want to do. Search using, "Volunteering" to find local and national web sites that may have something that sparks your interest.

If you do not feel any of these choices are you, create your own search. Volunteering for animals may be a comfortable option for you to try.  Volunteering with Animals can be as expansive or exclusive as you want. You may be doing anything from cleaning and maintaining, photography, socializing, exercising animals, or animal outreach programs. You could be a volunteer at your local Zoo. You may also have the choice of being part of a group or working as an individual.

There is no reason to feel alone and isolated, unless you choose to be alone and isolated. The world is always changing. If you have not change with the, you are missing out on levels of personal satisfaction you never new existed.

Do not limit yourself and your options as to what you can do. Almost any interest you have needs Volunteer help. If you have many interests and a lot of free time, you can be a Pen Pal on Mondays, a Dog Walker on Wednesdays, a Tutor on Tuesday and Thursdays using Zoom or other Social media. This is a great time to expand your horizons and try something new. Be a Volunteer!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Focus on Linux, Debian, EndeavourOS and Linux Mint

 I had a spinning cursor issue with Debian a few months ago. It had something to do with Firefox and Pocket. If I moved the cursor over the Pocket articles, the mouse started spinning and would not stop. Thunderbird was also affected after Firefox started the spinning.

Some time later, Debian updated Firefox and the spinning cursor issue went away. Not sure what Firefox was doing as it wasn't obvious. In the mean time, I wanted to use a Linux that was not having the spinning cursor issue. I was fairly sure the spinning cursor wasn't a security risk, but I prefer not to find out the hard way.

I had installed Mint Linux on a few other computers for new Linux users, and I liked Mint, so I installed Linux Mint LMDE. Linux Mint LMDE, even though it is Debian based did not share the spinning mouse cursor syndrome. I was happy with Linux Mint and used it for about a month. I think Linux Mint is a fine Distribution and would recommend Linux Mint to anyone who wants a easy to use Linux.

I am a big fan of XFCE, even though XFCE generally looks a little course and outdated. For me, XFCE is a matter of convenience. Using Linux Mint, it is move to the menu button, click, scroll to what I want and click again. XFCE on the other hand is right click anywhere on the desktop, scroll and click, done.

Being so picky about the desktop feels a little petty, but Linux spoils us. I prefer clicking anywhere on the desktop to mousing to the menu icon and clicking, scrolling and clicking again. As with anything Linux, we have choices. If I could get Linux Mint with the right click anywhere on the desktop, I would be a very happy camper.

I wanted an XFCE desktop, but not another Debian based as I didn't want to do an install and have the same spinning cursor issue. That made me wary of Mint LMDE even though Firefox ran perfectly.  I also did not wish to go through the tedium of script writing, correcting and rewriting.

I started using Linux when I found Suse Linux on several 3.5 inch floppies. Over the years I have installed and used Suse, Slackware, and other distributions, which at the time needed script writing or script editing to function well.

This go 'round, I ended up on Arch as the best solution. Arch minus the configuration that is. I did an offline install using EndeavourOS which is an XFCE desktop.

I won't bore you with details of the install process for each Distribution. I do think Debian needs the most work to get it where you want to be. However Debian is easy to install, and like Arch, puts you more in control of your system if that is important to you.

Once these three distributions are up and running, Linux is Linux is Linux. Each Distribution having its own few little oddities. On my PC, Debian doesn't like to hibernate even using NVIDIA drivers. Linux Mint is the same. EndeavourOS hibernates just fine, though sometimes does not want to connect to WiFi when I wake it up. All minor issues and not deal breakers. The perfect Linux does not yet exist.

The real difference between these three Linux distributions is simple:

Debian: turn on computer, enter your information. In a few seconds, Debian is ready for use.

Linux Mint: Turn on computer, enter your information. In a few seconds Linux Mint is ready to use. In the next few minutes you may get an update notification.

EndeavourOS, turn on computer, enter your information, wait a few seconds, open terminal and enter: sudo pacman -Syu to complete the upgrades that are going to be waiting for you.

Each of these three distributions are fast and stable. There may come a time when EndeavourOS, now Arch for all practical purposes, fails to load, or freezes. It is manageable, and a learning experience. So far it has been a smooth ride.

So, the big question, which of these three Distributions do I recommend? I recommend whatever Linux Distribution you want to use. For myself, I prefer almost any Linux with an XFCE desktop. Almost anyone who thinks they can install Arch Linux, Linux From Scratch or Slackware, probably can. So all avenues are open for you from those above to the almost plug and play mainstream Linux distributions.

In my experience with the Linux world, unless you are a developer, or have other special needs only a certain Linux distribution can fill, and do not need to have some esoteric bragging rights, choose any of the easy to install, easy to use Distributions with the desktop you prefer. What Linux Distribution you use, you will find, is like getting out of bed. Eventually, you figure out, no one really cares except you.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Media Driven Racism and Blaxploitation in America 2021

So this is rewrite number something or another, as what I want to write is not flowing very well. 

When the original Star Trek series was released. Michelle Nichols played Nyota Uhura. Uhura is a translator and communications officer in the series. Star Trek was a serious show and Lt. Ohura played her part, as serious and professional as any other actor. Star Trek was starting at a time when there were very few mainstream serious Black Actors, male or female. The world of Black America, actors and not was starting to change.

My (almost) total exposure to Black America back then was one boy my age in school and the old movie, Gone With the Wind. Stereotyping was an unknown word in those days. Needless to say, my Black Friend and Gone With the Wind were in complete contrast with each other. I had been around other teenage Black Boys more or less my age, and never thought they were any different than myself. A few years later, I started hearing the word, Blaxploitation and had no idea what it meant.

Looking back, it is obvious. Black Actors were forced to take parts where their character was silly and questionably funny. Not college professors, Doctors, or white collar workers. Usually some conceived character who was the inner city version of a Hillbilly who was funny in the end. Blaxploitation arrived on the scene, and I think everyone in America understood immediately what the Blaxploitation was. Blaxploitation it felt was stomped out in a few years. With a few exceptions as it never left the media completely.

Jump forward to today, 2021 about we to see Senator Kamila Harris sworn in by Chief Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor. Senator Harris has been mentioned during most of 2020 as Senator Kamila Harris, "a Woman of Color" as if a forty year old term should still apply.

I really find the add on to Senator soon to be Vice President Harris, unneeded and demeaning. I never heard of President Obama referred to as Senator Obama, "a Man of color", or President Obama, a Man of Color. For that matter, I never heard of Chief Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor referred to as , "a Chief Justice of Puerto Rican descent".

As far as I am aware, the added, "Woman of Color" was added on mainstream news and talk shows recently. It was being used as casually as, the Weatherman talks about a cold front passing through. Is there anyone in America who is the least informed, not does not know or care Senator Kamila Harris is, "a Woman of Color"? Of those who do care, they were represented on January 6, at the Capitol Building. There is an older form of Blaxploitation showing up in the media. After several decades self proclaimed, "America's Favorite Gameshow", has a still of a Black Woman in a funny but stereotypical Blaxploitation pose. This never would be a White Woman's picture.

An insurance company that advertises to excess has taken Blaxploitation to an even higher level. The are airing a commercial where two Black Rappers appear in a Black Woman's kitchen rapping about making ice cream sundaes. The Woman is so excited by the rap, she starts dancing. The Woman's daughter and significant other walk into the scene. The Man is so taken, he also starts dancing. The Daughter sees no humor in the situation and leaves the scene. This commercial would never have been made with a White Woman and her family.



We have a hordes of active racists protesting, invading sacred spaces, and threatening the overthrow of our country, and the networks and media in general seem to believe Blaxploitation is not only acceptable, but completely normal. This leads me to one conclusion with two outcomes.

With Black Lives Matter making a presence such as when Martin Luther King was alive. We have groups of Active Racists mixed in with the other mostly white groups threatening to over throw our county. We have mainstream media practicing Blaxploitation.

Perhaps I am so far out of the mainstream that I am the only person to find this distasteful. Am I overly angered and frustrated over lack of empathy for Black Lives Matter and angered about Blaxploitation. Am I too sensitive about how some of America has once again chose to be callous and indifferent on two of the most important issues of the last and probably this decade?

BLM and Blaxploitation are obviously issues Black America does not have enough of a say in to make permanent change. That leaves the rest of us to take a stand with Black America. I am not saying we need to get out there and march in the streets, and attack Police Barricades. I am saying, an email or phone call only take a few minutes and sends a message that shows Americans care about Black America and all America enough to make our voices heard.

When I was a college freshman attending a Political Science class, the Professor made what turned out to be a prophetic comment. He said something to the effect of: 'As adults in America, if you do not make your voice heard over issues you care about, your silence will be taken as an, "it is okay with you". Are you comfortable with your silence being taken as, "it's okay with you"?'

Whether it is a re-showing of Buckwheat and the Little Rascals, or Senator Harris introduced as, "a Woman of Color",  is stereotypical and an insult of our fellow Americans and must no longer be tolerated. The "Talking Heads" may have an issue with someone's race, however it is not your problem. Make your voice heard. Letting your voice be heard only takes a couple of minutes at most, and carries a lot of power with companies who seem to not be doing business in 2021. The extremists who attacked the Capitol Building on January 6, have certainly been making sure their voices are heard. Should they have the last word? 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Friendliness is Humaness, the Better Choice in Most Situations

 I was out walking yesterday, something I try to do everyday as there is a walking path in the park close to the house. Friendliness is healthy in public environments and that extends to walking. Regular walkers know each other and most say, "hello", as they cross paths. I raise my hand and say "hello" as people walk by or I walk by them. I smile too, but smiling is no longer applies in a mask.

As I was walking along, greeting my fellow walkers I passed, only some of them I knew, most replied with a wave or a verbal hello of some type. Yesterday, a short way ahead was a Woman with a Child of about ten, walking in the same direction as I was. She was short, and they were walking slower than I was. They were also in the oncoming traffic left side of the lane, so I thought they were not regular walkers.

She had long shiny hair almost down to her waist. She did not wear the dress of a young girl, so I thought she was the Mother. In about thirty seconds I caught up. A normal response if I was on a bicycle would be, "Passing on the left", to let them know I was there. When walking, it seems kind of silly and they were walking on the wrong side,  to the left of me.

Friendliness is only Human

The woman and boy are on the left side of the walking path, the oncoming traffic lane. I am in the right side, as I pass them.

Me: "You have beautiful long hair. I know at least half the Women that see you are jealous of your hair."

As I looked at her, I think oh, oh, maybe she is a Sister and not the Mother. However, she looked to be in at least her mid twenties.

Me: "If you don't notice that yet, you will when you get older."

Her, in a biting, hostile tone: "I don't know you, and I don't think I should be talking to you."

Me, surprised: "Why not? We are over six feet apart, on a walking track with people in front and back of us."

No comment.

Me: "Maybe I should be scared of you? If you do not want the compliment, you do not have to accept it. It doesn't matter to me."

On I walked, perplexed by her behavior. It should be obvious to her, I am old enough to be her Father, if not her Grandfather. The walking path was busy, and she had the young boy with her. I wondered how she grew such a chip on her shoulder that she could not be civil or accept a simple compliment?

'Thank You", would be an appropriate response. That was what I expected to hear from her. Even the boy looked surprised by her reaction.

I find people interesting. I find it normal that young people here at least, almost as a whole go out of their way to be polite to their elders, family or not. They treat people who are older than their parents with respect.

What was going on with this young woman, I did not understand. Has life been that hard on her, that a compliment is an act of aggression she needs to protect herself from?

Perhaps my first thought was correct, she had a chip on her shoulder and everyone in her life was going to know it. Going through life with a chip on your should makes for a hard life, yet some people live that way. Estranging people before they ever move past being strangers.

I also thought in some possible way, she saw that as flirting? If I were her age, perhaps, but not with the obvious age difference. When I see a jogger for the second or third lap, I raise both thumbs up and say, "Looking Good!". No Woman jogger has been offended by the comment, and they seem to receive my shout out as intended.

Maybe she was trying to show the Boy how to act around strangers? If it were a demonstration, it was a poor one. The young Woman acted with an aggression that was not called for. This aggression was out of place, and in some cases stronger aggression is a common response. If she was trying to teach a lesson to the Boy, she failed.

Finally, I thought, perhaps it was a cultural thing. Maybe in whatever her culture may be, they do not talk to Men who are strangers? If so her response was also improper. If that is her culture the Woman and the Boy were in an environment where her culture was non existent.  If it was cultural, she could have said so.

I have walked in some very rough parts of big cities. I have walked alone in questionable areas while in foreign countries, where after I came back, someone at the hotel would tell me how dangerous the local area is even though it looks nice.

Never in my travels, have I ever seen anyone respond in such a manner. I am used to people pretending they did not hear my greeting. I am used to people being or pretending to be self absorbed in their cell phones, which by the way is a dangerous behavior, akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

If I had acted aggressive with the Woman and the Boy, even though foolish, her response would be understandable. In a public park in a bedroom community, she is an enigma. No matter how I ponder, I can not come up with a reasonable answer to her appalling behavior. "Thank you", is appropriate in almost all situations. "Thank you", is an acknowledgment, "Thank you", says I see you as a human being, and "Thank you", is a conversation closer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Thank You 2020

 It is now 2021 and most people are ready to forget 2020. 2020 is seen as a bad dream or a bad memory. 2020 doesn't rate as a year to remember fondly. People bemoan the lack of physical social interaction, anxiety, boredom, and frustration with the way they are forced to live.

I think 2020 gave Mankind some of the best gifts any generation in several hundred years have enjoyed. Life has slowed down. We became family-centric rather than using family as down time spot between functions. We are able to make serious and personal choices about friends and acquaintances. Do those 300 Facebook friends really make a difference in our life?

On a personal level, we have the opportunity to make any number of small to major changes in our life. We spend more time with our family. By default we spend more time with ourselves. We spend more time either getting into or getting out of our heads.

As we spend time with ourselves, we have time for real introspection. If we were daring enough, we can look at who we really are. We can see what our life means and how we complete our family and friends lives.

2020 Be Gone!

We have the opportunity to understand our dislikes, from eating Brussels Sprouts to our feelings about alternative life styles or the color and cut of someones hair. We have time to learn why we do not have all the answers. We have time to learn older family members have wisdom we have not yet achieved.

We have the opportunity to change the direction of our life. If we want, we have the opportunity to expand our education. Some of us may be back in a formal educations system, taking formal online classes. Others have the opportunity to explore ideas, information, and topics we may not normally pay attention to.

For those who are parents, life took a turn from finding outside ways to fill your children's time, to being a part of your children's time. We now spend time together as a family unit, instead of doing a family drive by.

The freedom 2020 gave us will rarely be enjoyed in future years. Slowly we are found ways to live with ourselves. Found ways to fill our time. We go outside to enjoy being outside. We go walking, running, on picnics, take impromptu trips to local parks. I see families bicycling, roller skating, playing catch, batting, fielding and catching a soft ball together.

The biggest non financial issue we learned to adjust to is change. We were forced to change our lives, change our habits, and learn how to enjoy wearing a face mask, cooking at home.

All in all, 2020 is a gift for the human race. Life slowed down, family and relationships became more important. We had time to know the people we spend a majority of our time with each day. We learn we are not the only person with doubts and faults. Perhaps the best of 2020 is many distractions are removed, and we see each other as we really are. Perhaps we see what we can be if we choose. 2020 gave us choice.

Newest "Angel of Death"

Yahoo News  ran an AP article where this quote was obtained: "Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg, “He’d formed this belief they were unsafe,” Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said during a virtual hearing."

What I find more alarming, is the possibility of Brandenburg's regular customers receiving prescription medications which Brandenburg may have changed or modified before he was arrested for making doses of Covid-19 vaccine unusable? 

It is plausible that Brandenburg may have determined some medications were not the best choice for his customers and changed or modified what medications they were prescribed.

I wouldn't normally think this was plausible, except hospital staff over the years have been convicted of murdering patients in hospitals. This is not too extreme to ponder whether, "Angels of Death" may be at work other places than hospitals.

Holdem, Get Some Money without Losing Yours Part 6

Poker Friends, Poker Foes, Collusion, Lending and Borrowing No matter where you play Poker, there are going to be people who know each other...