Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Buying A New Car Has Become An Ordeal

Good bye, Acura TLX. You were in many respects a very fine car. You were fairly attractive and you had lots of bells and whistles. You were very peppy, handled well and had a very good ride for a small car. But there were issues also.  Leaving Sandi stranded a couple of times was not a good thing.  Also, we underestimated just how small you were.  Getting just two sets of golf clubs into the trunk was a challenge. So even though we still had 6 months left on the lease, we bid you farewell.

Now begins the ordeal.  Unless you have a pile of cash and a car you can easily trade in, you're going to be doing a lot of running around. 

First we had to determine the procedure for turning in a lease which actually turned out to be fairly easy.  It was the long drive to the dealer that was a pain.  Because this is tax season, Sandi was busy so I had to impose on my son to follow me to south Norwalk, wait around, then drive me home.  That pretty much killed the morning.  Then there was a problem transferring the plates.  The leasing dealer said we couldn't use them because they didn't belong to us.  The new car dealer said baloney. Of course we can use them.  We went with the second opinion and will now wait to see how the town screws up everything at tax time. 

Next is arranging the financing.  Again, thanks to Waterbury Teachers Federal Credit Union, that procedure was pretty easy too.  It just takes time.  Gathering information, making the trip to the closing, etc.  Then it was necessary to get a bank check for the amount we were putting down.  All easy tasks but time consuming.

Thanks to my son who is also our insurance agent, everything was handled well on that end. 

It's amazing how many documents you sign when you buy a car.  It's closing on a house-well, maybe not quite but close.

So anyway, we are now the proud owners of a new Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd.  I still have my trusty pickup. 

By the way, Wetmore's Jeep and Dodge in New Milford was fantastic.  Good people, good service and great cars.  A win win win!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

You and Facebook

Have you ever heard of Cambridge Analytica?  Me neither until recently.  It's a company that uses all kinds of data to devise strategies to influence voters.  It has been in the news lately because apparently it used a significant amount of information taken from Facebook to help Trump win the election.   Since then people have been outraged at Facebook for allowing this to happen.

I'm of two minds about this issue. On one hand there's no question that Facebook has an obligation to protect our information.  No one should have access to anything about us without our full knowledge and permission.  But then there's the other side to the story.  Personal responsibility coupled with a healthy dose of common sense.

When you have a company like Cambridge invite you to take a personality test and tell you in the fine print that it may be made available to others, then all sorts of red flags should go up.  That's what happened.  Millions of people took the quiz and lo and behold the results were used to target certain voters.

The upshot of all of this is first, Facebook, get your act together. Be on the lookout for these kinds of things.  Second and more important, individuals need to exercise far more caution in what they're putting out there about themselves. 

I recently went to my profile to see what apps are following me on Facebook and I was amazed.  I had no idea I had participated in so many seemingly innocent things.  They ranged from a variety of quizzes, math puzzles, games, you name it.  Every single thing you do is noted by someone somewhere.  We were all hoping it was just our 'friends' but that's not so.  Use common sense.  Be careful what you do.

Facebook is not going away nor should it.  I for one enjoy it but you can be sure I'm going to exercise far more caution.

By the way-you can eliminate those apps that are following you.  There are instructions on the web on how to do it so do it.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

RIP Toys Are Us

Boo hoo. Poor Toys R Us.  According to them the internet is what's responsible for their demise.  I think I know at least one other reason: Most of the stuff they sell is over priced low quality poorly made crap!  Now that's a business model sure to succeed, isn't it?

It is my belief that most people will pay a little more for good quality products made by a customer service oriented company.

I can't begin to tell you how many things we bought from there for our grand children that were broken in a day or two.  Like so many others we finally did the logical thing-went somewhere else.

No great loss as far as I'm concerned. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen W. Hawking, January 8, 1942-March 14, 2018

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge. He has died at the age of 76.

Hawking is an extraordinary inspiration to all people.  He has shown us to the nth degree how to overcome disabilities.

He is noted for a huge contribution to theoretical physics but he also knew how to reach ordinary people like me.  His book A Brief History of Time is an example of this.  Here are a few other insights:

 Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.
The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.
I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.
Life would be tragic if it weren't funny.
I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.
People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.
We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,
Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.
The world will miss you, Stephen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Arm teachers?

Just when I thought the Trump administration had hit bottom with absurdly stupid decisions, they top themselves with another.  The latest? Responding to recent tragedies in schools, it has been proposed that teachers-or at least some teachers-be armed.  To add insult to injury the individual selected to spearhead this effort is none other than the totally clueless Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos-an individual who has barely set foot in a public school.  DeVos's agenda is not to identify the needs of public schools across the country.  In fact it's exactly the opposite.  She's looking to destroy them. 

But I digress.  Back to arming teachers.  How stupid is that?  Instead of finding ways to keep guns OUT of schools and OUT of the hands of lunatics, Trump, NRA, Republican congressman and all who support them seek to make guns even more abundant.  Hell, let's arm everyone, right?

And what about Trump's cavein to the NRA?  One minute he's talking about strengthening background checks and the next minute he does a complete 180. 

This whole thing is such a mess, it's unbelievable.  (Actually it's entirely believable given who we're talking about.)  More's the pity.  Let's hope there are massive changes when the midterm elections roll around.  That's the only way we're going to restore some sanity to government.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Some observations on powerlessness

Powerlessness-No, not the feeling that one gets when they feel they have no control.  I'm talking about the kind that comes through electric lines at almost the speed of light, aka electricity.

I haven't posted anything in a while because we had no electric service for the past several days.  It took me over a day to resolve a problem with our generator transfer box but once that was fixed, we had limited service for a few hours a day.  On top of that we have a wood burning stove and an ample supply of firewood so we kept warm.

But even with the generator and stove it was a pain in the rump.  Every morning I'd be up early, back the car out of the garage, move the generator into position a few feet from the garage door, start it, run down stairs where the transfer box is located, flip all the circuits from 'line' to 'generator', run back up stairs, make coffee, flush toilets, etc etc etc.  You get the idea.  All this before my first cup of coffee!

After that morning routine I filled the wood boxes and got on with whatever else needed to be done. I would let the generator run about 4 hours in order to keep food frozen.  Then every afternoon I'd run it some more for whatever else I needed.

Other inconveniences were things like sitting in candle-lit rooms at night, no TV or internet although my iPad does have cell service so I could use that.  Evening meals had to be either cooked on the wood stove or gas grill-or more often than not we ate out.  Our kitchen range is not connected to the generator.

We're back up and running now and if it happens again any time soon I'll have a more efficient routine in mind.

This was the first time we've used the generator.  We bought it 5 years ago but didn't need it until now. All that time there was a wiring problem I didn't know about until of course we went to use it.

But anyway, that's all resolved.

A friend of mine commented on how hard it must have been for pioneers but at that time there was no electrical service so a person's life was much different.  Things like hand pumps, outside bathroom facilities, cold rooms for food storage, etc.  No one knew enough to miss the convenience of electricity.

Anyway, on to the next challenge-another nor'easter coming this Tuesday. Yuk!