Verizon – you kidding me?

So, my daughter called me looking for an old flip phone that she could use to replace a phone she got for her daughter to use. She had gotten a flip phone that Verizon offered that is simple with limited functionally.  It can do mobile calls and text message only.  No internet access, no apps and no games any teen wants to play.  It worked well for a parent who wants to limit a young child’s use of technology. This is understandable.  It provides a comfort that they can communicate, but none of the bad attributes that a smart phone allows – addition to their games, screen, or Internet access.

I have a number of old Verizon phones around from my past. Before I searched for them,  I asked her doesn’t Verizon have a free or cheap phone that she could get.  She told me she tried to get a similar flip phone and found out Verizon now charges $160 for what she got for free.  My daughter is a teacher so she is not paid much and felt that was an expense she could handle at the time.  So, I found an old flip phone in my stash of old phone as well as a few older smart phones. 

Then I went to Verizon’s website to see if I the old flip phone would activate on their web site. The message from Verizon’s website said: “This phone is not compatible with our network.”  We know that is not true for it ran on Verizon’s website a few years ago. What Verizon really means is that they don’t want to support older phones. I get that, but why not be honest?  I tried an  iPhone 4s that just two years ran fine on Verizon. It also was ‘not compatible’.  I tried asking the Chat box that pops up on Verizon’s web site. She tried to sell me a new line for my plan.  When I told her it wasn’t for me, she and that I was not going to add a line for to find out if it worked or not, she suggested i got into the store and talk to them.  What? She can’t help unless she can sell something?  I did find my old Samsung III would work, but it is a smart phone. 

The problem with a smart phone is that, by default, they allow access to the Internet on her Mom’s family plan.  Of course, one can turn off Mobile Data, and turn off Wifi, and any remove any apps that have back door access to the internet.  However, a smart child can easily learn how to turn data access back on.

So, if one can’t afford a low technology phone that has limited features, I thought, doesn’t Verizon offer parental controls to manage their kids access?  I found it, but you have to pay $4.99 a  month for it?  Really?  This should be a free feature. 

So, I won’t go into other issues I have had with Verizon, including the difficulty I had in finding out if an older phone was supported or not, and how hard it was to find how much it cost for a feature to place controls on your kids cell phone use.  I also won’t go into many other interactions I have had with Verizon and just how hard it is to do business with them. If I, or my daughter, were rich, we probably would not be so frustrated with them.

For now, I just wanted to vent and let others know, Verizon does not provide free parental controls or make it easy to get limited basic phones.  With all the issues today with young children being always on their phone, you would think that a company like Verizon would not capitalize off a feature that parents should have to limit their child’s phone use.


Rural Internet Speed

I live in the rural part of Western PA. 
I can see stars at night.
Two cars a day drive by my house.
My dogs run loose.
The deer often sleep in my yard.

But my Internet speed sucks.
I have Verizon DSL and pay $37.00/mo for
“high speed internet enhanced”.
You may ask: What is “enhanced”?
And, so do I.

Some days it is really fast – up to 5 meg
(that is a sarcastic statement)
Most days, it is just frustrating.



A dad’s view – first posted on
Walk 2600 miles?

Who want’s to expose themselves to mountain lions, bears, Poodle Dog Brush, heat stroke, dehydration, corneal flash burns, extreme snowfalls, raging creeks, falling off a mountain and a higher risk of dying? 

The people who do these long,  multi month hikes  are called “Thru Hikers”.  You can read about them on the net and in books like ‘Wild”, “A Walk in the Woods” and “Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart”.  They admit to the dangers. There are others.

Who enjoys filter their drinking water from creeks that cows and deer pee in; sleep on the ground exposed to rattlesnakes, rocks, and bugs; walk in the rain, sleet and snow; go days without a shower, a comfortable place to sit, or rest;  eat only what they can carry on their back, mix with water and eat with a spork; dig a cat hole to take a dump, carry their used TP around in their backpack, and dry out their stinky socks while they are tied to their chest?
My son and I have hiked a number of times.   I understand the pleasure of being outside in nature, enjoying the vistas, smells of the forest, magic morning light, wonderful sunsets, night sky full of stars, and even meeting animals in the wild.  But, I can get that 300 feet from my house, I don’t have to walk far to experience this.
My Son will start his thru hike of the PCT on April 19. He plans on walking 2600 miles over 5 – 6 months.

He asked me  if I was interested in joining him.  I can’t imagine spending months away from my wife and home.  Also, since I’m 73, have an artificial aortic heart valve and have limits of my discomfort, I declined.

I will also admit that I don’t understand what there is about thru hiking.  He and I have hiked 30 miles with 35 pound packs on our back, climbed 14,000 ft mountains, woke up to sub-freezing temperatures, and dug our share of cat holes. I even tolerated a mountain goat a few feet away watching, waiting for me to finish. 

But, the longest I have been out on a trail is three days. I knew that any discomfort would end soon.  The discomfort of lost toenails, sore pack shoulders and three days of being dirty, sore, exhausted were enough for me. I looked forward to ice in my Dewars, a shower and real bed.
What drives PCT thru hikers?  Are they nuts, crazy, thrill seekers, suicidal?  We have had many conversations about it. I have read blogs, reports, books, watched V-logs and still do not understand.
When he asked me if I would be his cyber-base support assistant, I agreed. We talked about what message he wanted to communicate or write about. I suggested he help me answer the questions of ‘Why?”  Why do these people do it?
The nature and thrills on the trail has been discussed, recorded, photographed and written many times. You can see many on this blog.
That I get.
What I don’t get is: ‘Why’?
I want him to help me answer that question.
If things go as planned, and they rarely do, future post on this blog may address that question.

Or not.

Edited  in April to post Adam’s response. You can read it at 




Hum, advice?

I was reading articles on the Internet and got caught up with one of those titles that start with a number and follow with something that is interesting.  Titles like “3 Ways to Independent wealth.” or “5 Sure Fire Ways to Fire Up Your Sex Life”.  There must free Internet classes on writing these titles, for they are all over the Internet now. I’m sure they teach that if you put a number first and the word ‘Sex’ in the title, you are assured to get someone to click on your title.

The one that caught my attention was: “1 way to save your marriage”.  If it were not for the obvious fake way to get one’s attention, I would change the title of this blog entry to: “2 things can improve your life.”  You don’t really have to list two things, you just need to say it.  However, since I dislike this technique so much, I’ll not change the title.

This article was about a guy who was having problems in his marriage.  He and his wife were struggling and close to divorce. He had a shower thought that he had to do something different to save his marriage, so he had this inspiration. He woke up one morning and asked her: “How can I make your day better?” 

As I often do, I scanned the article trying to pick up the salient point or takeaway.  So, the next morning we were in the kitchen and ask Rita: “How can I make your day better?” 

She looked at me with this confused look on her face and said: “What?”

I repeated the question.

In her somewhat iterated voice, she replied: “I’m not going to tell you what to do?  That is not something we do to each other. We don’t tell each other what to do!”

I retreated mentally into the fetal position and thought:  “That didn’t work.” 

Our marriage is fairly good and, even thought we have our struggles, neither of us feel divorce is over the horizon.  But, it could be better. Like many couples, we get caught up with life’s busy times, Internet or device distractions and other demands.  So, I filed that idea of asking her how to make her life better on the shelf and didn’t ask that question again.  

But, I did think about  it. I started doing dishes while she made dinner. I would fire up the vacuum sweeper and clean up dog hair and tracked winter debris.  I would start laundry, or fold that she started.  Make the bed, I would suggest we eat out instead of expecting her to come up with dinner ideas at home. I would often think: “What can I do to make her day better?” But, I knew better to ask it out loud.

The jury is still out to see if any of this has any impact on our relationship. But these are things I should have been doing all along. If anything, it makes me feel better, more like a equal partner.  I’ll have to report back on this later. 

Meanwhile, I went back to find and reread the article and do research on the author who suggested this idea. I realize that scanning often misses key points.  He continued to ask his wife this question until she cried and they had a come to Jesus meeting about their marriage. I had missed that point, but happy I did, for I think it would not help us much. 

The author appears to have some credentials regarding writing, but I’m not too sure about his credentials in regards to relationship building or fixing.  You can judge this yourself by doing your own reading by starting with his blog: “How I saved my Marriage.”  I’m not suggesting you try this, but introspection is often helpful.

I have to go now and do some dishes and work on stop scanning things I read. 

Cardiologist visit

Last Wednesday I had my 6 mo Cardiologist checkup.  It has been 18 months since my Aortic Valve replacement surgery.  I was dreading this visit for my weight was up and I knew he was going to comment on it. I also wanted to have a conversation with him regarding reducing the dosage of the beta blocker I was on, for I felt it was limiting my hearts ability to respond to strenuous workouts, mainly treadmill work.  I knew this was a sensitive topic for him.

I was pleased my blood test results showed that my triglycerides was down significantly. This, I think, is due to my not drinking for the past month. I was wanting a ‘atta-boy’ and got a ‘of course, drinking messes with test results and the calories are bad.’ 

As expected, the visit was disappointing. My blood pressure was up, he didn’t like that.  He did comment that I needed to loose weight.  He basically scolded me for not working out more, “what’s keeping for exercising?”  I didn’t have a good answer other than winter, which was a lousy reason.

When I tried to talk to him about reducing my beta blocker dosage he scoffed at thought that the beta blocker was limiting my workout ability telling me that I didn’t need to work out that hard.  After all, I was 74 years old.  He told me to forget about training hard, eat less and exercise more in moderation.

He also thought I may be depressed and that I needed to fix that.  Why am I trying to work out so hard?  I should accept that I’m 74 and can’t do things a 20 year can do.

He did say my valve sounded good and to call him if I had any chest pain. 

He is a typical guy, doesn’t listen well.

I left depressed.

After Shower Thought – 1/10/2018

Clean out the closet

I was looking for a pair of pants to wear after my shower this morning. I stood in my closet looking over my paints. I wanted something comfortable, leisure like, not business casual, not old-IBM formal black, but also not working in the garage ragged-like.  I didn’t want jeans with knees worn out and stains on them, nor khakis with the cuffs worn to threads. 

I had been thinking of my weight and how hard it was to loose that 10 – 20 pounds that I have been trying to loose for years.  Two summers ago, I had gotten down to 170 lbs, but that took open heart surgery to make happen and by that winter I was back up to 180.  Now, 18 months later, I was struggling to keep my weight under 190. I asked myself, maybe it was time that I admit I will never weigh 170 again. Maybe I will never fit into a 34 inch waistline. Maybe I should just stop worrying about weight but keep on eating more healthy and staying active.

Maybe I should clean out my closet. 

Keeping paints that I can’t wear only gives me a false sense that I have a large choice of pants to wear. So, I tried on all 14 pair of pants that were on hangers.  Many of these were many years old and some of them were purchased at the consignment store.  Of the 14 pairs, I could only fit into 7.  

So, I now have a pile of pants to get rid of.  If feels good to do this. Tomorrow, I may tackle the shirts.

It feels good to stop trying to do something that constantly disappoints me.  I may or may not get down to 170 lbs, but I am going to stop worrying about it. 

I will still continue to cut out sugar, fats, meat, to play the piano, write, learn things,  exercise, and have wishes, goal and dreams.

For now, it is time to clean out the closet in my my bedroom and in my life.





Shower thought of the day – Jan 5, 2018

Today as I showered, I thought of the term: “Farmer Technologist”.  It was a label my company’s UPS sales woman called me.  I think she met it as a compliment, but my insecurities questioned that.  Farmers are creative, innovated, MacGyer-like people that have to fix things around the farm that break with only material they have available to them – like bailing wire, band aids and duck tape.  Also, farmers, today, often have PhD’s in how to get the most from an acre of land with the least amount of work and resources.  They have to figure out how and when to invest, how to deal with major crisis and nature’s fury.  They have to negotiate with big businesses, big government, and the stigma of being stupid.  So, if I put my own insecurities aside, being a Farmer Technologist may be a good thing.

Then, I wondered if that applied to being a philosopher.  Could I also be a ‘Farmer Philosopher”?  A self made Aristotle, Plato, or Ann Rand?  An Ann MacGyer Rand? Then I got side tracked and wondered why Plato and Aristotle had only one name.

Later, after I dried off, streaked to the bedroom to fetch underwear, and dressed, I read email and got jerked back to reality by a technology problem at the company I support.  The backup program had a message that implied something didn’t work correctly.  A hour later, I concluded it was what I titled: ‘planet aligning technology’. This is where certain multiple technologies or software happen to be in a certain state such that they interfere with each other causing one or more of them to not work correctly.  I also found it was not worth the time it would take to prove it. 

Such is the world of today.  Sad, but true. It was not worth the time to prove it.

Is that a philosophical thought? A farmer technologist philosophical one?

New Year – 2018

It is a rare person who can start a new year and not think of making some change or resolution. 

I tried to not do this.  

Then I got on the scales. 

I didn’t like the number and to avoid making the resolution that is almost assuredly to fail, i.e. loose ‘x’ pounds, where ‘x’ is an imaginary number, I just decided to eat more healthy and responsibly.  Since both those terms are loosely defined, I have lots of room to eat ice cream, popcorn, and other things I love.  

Then, as I was in the shower this morning, I thought: “It is a wise man who knows when to throw away an old tee shirt”   I often have these crazy or deep thoughts while showering.  As I toweled myself off, I had a further thought that I should capture these thoughts.  Why?  Well I suspect it is because few of us humans have rational thoughts in the shower.  That is probably why so many sing the shower.

So, I thought, would it be interesting if I could, or would, write something every day of the year. Then I realized I already missed the 1st and 2nd.  

That is why one should not think of making resolutions for the new year. 

Nor, should they place any merit for thoughts in the shower.

I’m now going to the garage carrying an old tee shirt that will become a new rag.  

One year later…

How do you mend a broken heart?

July 25, 2016 – around 2 or 3 am

She was a beautiful black woman.  She was around 5 foot two inches, smooth skin, large loop ear rings and her hair cut in a buzz cut, nearly bald. Her skull was perfectly shaped.  She carried herself with an aura of pride, strength, and coolness.

Being annoyed at being probed, prodded, and woken up a number of times already that evening, I asked what do you need?  Most likely I was fairly abrupt, for I do that without really trying, even before open heart surgery.

“It’s time for your bath.” She replied softly.

Wondering how that was going to happen, I asked: “What do I need to do?”

“You just need to lie there and relax. I’ll take care of it.” No smile, all business was in her tone of reply.

She went to the keyboard on the computer that was near my bedside, somehow she pulled up YouTube, keyed in something and I heard soft blues sole music started to play. 

She proceeded to wet washcloths in a basin of warm water and started at the foot of the bed.  She pulled up the sheet and laid it just below my crotch.  She removed my socks and proceeded to wash my feet and lower legs.  She hummed softly to the music as she worked.  The music was some kind of soft blues played by a soul brother.

I laid back and let her work.  I wondered to myself:  Just how thorough of a job is she going to do?   

She was a beautiful sexy woman and I told myself this was not the time to test my ability to get an erection after open heart surgery.  All I wanted to do is to enjoy her beauty, listen to the soft music and make her job easier.

After she finished my legs, she then moved to the top of the bed.  She helped me sit up and removed the hospital gown, and after washing my back, she asked me to lie down again.  She then folded the top of the sheet down over my crotch. With fresh washcloths and something she squeezed from a bottle she started washing my chest and incision area.  The song on YouTube changed.  I recognized the song: “How do you mend a broken heart?” by Al Green.

I grinned to myself, thought about it, then said: “Nice, appropriate, selection of music you made.”

As she started to wash the dried blood from my stitches, she replied quietly in a smooth sweet voice: “It helps me past the time.”  I could have easily gotten lost in her brown eyes and in another time would have loved to touch her smooth skin.

I laid back and let her clean my incision. As words of mending broken hearts played in my head, I thought of the suddenness of the decision to have surgery and the relief that I was not going to die today.

As she finished my chest, she swapped the bloody washcloth for a clean one and moved to my arms.

Somewhere between her gentleness and  the lyrics:  “Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again”, I found myself fighting back tears.

When she was done with my arms, she took a fresh, warm, washcloth and in a single motion removed the sheet covering my crotch and covered my genitals with the warm cloth, never exposing anything.

 I didn’t get aroused and then wondered if that part of me stilled worked.  

She finished quickly, covered me with a clean sheet and helped me put on a clean gown.  I don’t remember her ever making eye contact, and I think the only other thing I said to her was ‘Thank you’.

Then she was gone and the music stopped. The normal hospital sounds of beeping monitors returned.

She was the most mysterious woman I have every encountered and I wondered if she enjoyed her job or just toiled through it.

Of all the nurses I saw in my four days at Shady Side, she was the gentlest of them all. I only saw her that one time.

Days later, when I got home, I wondered if she were real or was it just a dream. 

To this day, one year later, I can’t listen to “How do you mend a broken heart” without fighting back tears. I’m still trying to figure that out.