Category: Politics


2022 Week 30 – The Little Robot That Could

black and red canister vacuum cleaner on floor

Looks like we’re finally getting a break from the heat this upcoming week. That should be good news for the expected protesters that will be downtown as Indiana lawmakers return for a special session starting tomorrow. The focus is on Abortion and what, if any, change Indiana will be making to their existing law. VPOTUS is coming to Indy tomorrow as well so it could get interesting. I’ll be sure to have the scanner with me in case something happens.


I was happy to see Amazon had a Roomba i7+ listed at 50% off during Prime Day(s). I’ve had one of the original Rumba Vacuums for years and it works pretty well but it randomly wanderers around the house bumping off walls and furniture as it does its job. The only way to contain it is to close doors or put up battery-powered “walls” that projected a beam of light.

The new Roomba Vacuums are a huge upgrade. Not only can you control it with your phone over WiFi, it maps out your house and allows you to label each room. It can handle up to 10 floorplans (each level of your house is considered a floorplan). The advantage of this is I can tell the Roomba to clean the Living Room and it will go directly there, start cleaning, and return to its charging base when it’s done. Oh, and it cleans in straight lines, not random patterns!

The Plus version I purchased has a self-cleaning base that sucks the dirt and hair out of the Roomba into a bag that only had to be changed every 30-ish days (depending on how much it picks up). That was one of the downfalls of the original model, you had to empty the bin each time and clean the rollers every 2nd or 3rd use.

I’ve been VERY impressed with the cleaning ability of the i7+ and the self-cleaning function is a game changer. There are newer (and more expensive) models, such as the j7+, but the i7+ works perfectly for me and I’m really happy I was able to pick it up at such a discount.


And finally… Kevin Hunter The Homework Guy had a great video about the environmental impact of electric vehicles. Kevin is an ex-car salesman and has a ton of great tips to help you purchase your next vehicle. If you’re in the market for a new car you should watch a few of his videos and get up to speed on the current sales “tactics” being used.

2022 Week 27 – Odd One Out

There were several large protests in downtown Indianapolis last weekend and even more this past week. All were regarding the Roe vs. Wade reversal, and all were peaceful, which s a lot better than the mess we had downtown a while back. I’ve grown up in a conservative household and have always considered myself a conservative, but as I get older, I start seeing myself siding with some liberal issues. I think I’m a Centrist, and I’m OK with that. As an example, I’m Pro 2nd Amendment as well as Pro-Choice when it comes to women’s reproductive rights. I’m not a fan of Big Government, but I also understand the need for subsidies, where needed, for the greater good. I’m a proud American, and I appreciate the freedom we have to exercise our right to protest and use our vote to produce change peacefully. I’ve left a long career with a very conservative (politically and financially) privately owned company and moved to a more liberal, not-for-profit organization. Within the first month, I opened my eyes to some things I would have never noticed before. It will be a wild ride, and I’m looking forward to growing my understanding of the “other side.”

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Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels.com

I had to get a new phone when I left my last employer, so I upgraded from an iPhone 12 Pro to a 13 Pro. I haven’t had to pay for a cell phone for 20+ years & was a little surprised at the cost of a non-enterprise line and phone! I decided to purchase the iPhone 13 Pro outright to give me flexibility should I want to upgrade at a future time and trade this unit in for credit. You get a surprisingly decent amount of money for used Apple products when you trade them back into Apple.

The 13 Pro has slightly better battery life, a better camera, and screen than the 12, but that’s about it. I had been upgrading my work phone every two years and was on the “Even Cycle” of phones (8/10/12) vs. the “Odd Cycle” (9/11/13). The Even cycle of iPhones always seems to have the most significant technological leaps, with a rumor that the iPhone 14 will switch from Lightning to USB-C for its power connector. Of course, Apple could remove the connector altogether and be a true wireless phone.

Luckily I get a decent stipend from the new job to cover the cost of my cell phone, but it’s nothing like having it provided for free as an employee perk. I find myself being much more careful with this $1200 device than I was when it was standard issue equipment as part of the job. I’ve also never been one to use a screen protector, but after finding what looks like a small scratch on the screen of my new phone, I ordered some tempered glass screen protectors from Amazon. We’ll see if they make a difference or not.

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Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com

And finally… CNBC had an interesting YouTube video about Amazon. It’s a combination of several pieces, so there is some redundancy, but it does a good job explaining what happens when you return an item to the shopping behemoth.


2022 Week 12 – Where There’s Smoke…

silhouette of people in musee d orsay clock

There was a HUGE warehouse fire at the Wal Marl Distribution center in Avon last Wednesday afternoon. All 1000 employees made it out safely, but the debris field stretched for miles as hazardous particulate in the smoke dropped from the sky miles to the north.

Warehouse fire in Avon as seen from Downtown Indy – 2022-03-16 @ 14:03 (IndyScan)

Amazingly enough, there was ANOTHER warehouse fire in the area the next day, but this fire started from welding sparks falling into foam insulation during construction.


Hot on the heels of the latest Daylight Saving Time (DST) change, the Senate passed legislation to end it. It still needs to be passed by the House, so we’ll see if it will happen. It’s not the first time the U.S. has tried ending it. At the end of 1973, Nixon signed a law that would end DST.

The experiment was supposed to last for two years, but it only lasted eight months, and Congress reverted to standard time in the fall of 1974.

https://time.com/6157915/daylight-saving-time-history/

I was running errands the other day & saw that the Saraga International Grocery store in Castleton (and old abandoned Target) had had a facelift. A nearby billboard is saying they are opening this Spring. It’s no Jungle Jim’s (in Cincy), but it’s better than anything else in the city. I hope the nearby ethnic stores aren’t impacted too much when this place opens.

And finally… The Wall Street Journal has an interesting video on Youtube called “What America’s Supply-Chain Backlog Looks Like Up Close.” The Video was posted in October of last year, but it’s pretty interesting and shows what’s been going on at the shipping ports in the U.S.

2021 Week 48 – You ARE Being Watched

I took some time over the long holiday weekend to finish a book I had started a few weeks ago and promptly start another related one.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden is an eye-opening tale centering around a late 20-something NSA contractor who exposes the US Government’s mass surveillance system created after 9/11. Love him or hate him he brought to light the vast data collection of US citizens by their government.

No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald starts up with his interview of Snowden while he hides in Hong Kong before his trove of documents is released to the public by various medial outlets. Meanwhile, Laura Poitras films a series of interviews for her documentary Citizen Four. It goes into incredible detail about the surveillance systems in use around the world, by many countries, and details just how far they have gone to invade your privacy.

If you have any interest in this kind of stuff it’s well worth your time to seek out these books or at least watch the full documentary (available on YouTube with Ads (that will track you, haha)). It will chill you to the core and make you think about what you do online going forward.

As I wrote earlier this year everyone needs to be using a Password Manager application. My favorite continues to be Bitwarden. The free version is more than enough for most people but the $10 paid version adds some advanced features and helps support the development. Getting started with a Password manager is NOT difficult and is NOT a good excuse for NOT using one. Bitwarden for Beginners is a great place to start.

NordPass just released their annual Top 200 Common Password list. It shows what people are actually using to secure their private data as well as how long it takes to crack and gain access. If your password is on the list you should assume your accounts have been compromised because you probably use the SAME password in multiple places. The benefit of a Password Manager is that you can use a different, unique, password for every account and only need to remember ONE (secure) master password/phrase. The tool generates and documents the login details for you.

Another security tool you should consider using, especially if you use your devices in public, is a personal VPN account. This tool encrypts your traffic and protects you from anyone wanting to access your data. Sounds a little overkill but it’s not uncommon for someone to sit on a public network and watch for unsecured traffic to exploit. In fact, as far back as 2013 AT&T and Starbucks encouraged it! My personal favorite is Private Internet Access (PIA) which works on all devices including your phone and tablet. An annual subscription is $39.99.

I think that just about wraps things up for this week. It’s hard to believe 2021 is 90% over & we’re getting ready to settle down into the winter months. At least I have a stack of books to go through while hunkering down inside for the next 3 months. See you next week!

2021 Week 2 – One Down, 51 to go!

After almost 2 weeks off work in December I’m ready to get back to work and make it a productive year! This week was going to be heavy on Sports until the attack on the Nation’s Capital. I thought I had seen it all in 2020 and this just topped it. I can’t believe the protesters made it all the way into the gallery. There was talk about an elected official who was part of the crowd so it’s going to be interesting to see if he was the one who opened the doors to get people into the secured areas…

The college football championship was set last week. Notre Dame was blown out by Georgia and Ohio State showed Clemson who’s boss. The Championship game is Monday evening & it’s going to be a good one. My $ is on Ohio State to take home the trophy.

Colts make the playoffs! It was a game that was a LOT closer than it should have been but the Indianapolis Colts are heading to the playoffs!

Update: Their game against the Bills yesterday was a disaster. Some really questionable plays that will most likely be a topic of discussion for fans in the weeks to come…

Finally the NCAA Tournament is going to be played in its entirety in Indiana. That’s a huge win for the city and state. It’ll be nice to see Indy in the National spotlight again.

21st century predictions. They were close to what we have today!

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this week & what I took isn’t anything that any of you would find interesting. I’ll try & do better next week.

Finally, I’ve been playing with a new (to me) distribution of Linux called “Elementary.io“. I installed it on my old 2012 Mac & it’s brought new life to the old hardware. If you’re used to the Mac OS and have an older MacBook not being used this is worth checking out. Installation is very easy and you can be up and running in 20 minutes.

Stay Safe Out There – Help is Available!

Hi Everyone, I hope you’re all taking precautionary measures & staying safe. It’s going to be a rough couple of weeks but I’m positive we can overcome this and become stronger as a nation.

If you’re a small business owner or an employee of one impacted by the Pandemic I urge you to look into programs being put together by your local and regional Chambers of Commerce (even if you’re not a member). They can help you in these trying times by connecting you to resources providing assistance.

The Government is, at this time, close to approving a HUGE financial assistance program aimed at those that need it the most. It’s been a struggle to get it passed because of infighting and partisan politics. When passed the influx of cash into the economy will hopefully provide relief, however brief, and start the process of healing and recovery.

As of midnight tonight Indiana will be on a lockdown, similar to a lot of other states in the nation. I hope this helps combat the spread of Covid-19. I’m also very glad it’s a “hunker down” request so we still have the ability to go to work (for those who have essential jobs) and get groceries, etc. Everyone seems pretty calm right now, as opposed to 2 weeks ago, so I think this is a good sign.

We’ll see how things turn out in a day or two. I certainly don’t think we’ll be back to work as a Nation by Easter but if we are I’m not go to complain!

First it Was Cell Phones, Now This?

 

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U.S. Postal Service Logging All Mail for Law Enforcement [Link to NY Times article]

Cell phones are tracked, Internet usage is tracked, Cars are tracked, now we find out Snail Mail is tracked…  These must be some unbelievably big databases and data centers to store this kind of information.

Guess it’s time for me to pull the shades, break out the frequency counter, and start looking for the bugs around the house…  I have nothing to hide & this still scares the hell out of me!  Anyone have a cabin in the woods they’re looking to sell?

Happy “Independence” Day everyone!

The Impossible “Literacy” Test Louisiana Used to Give Black Voters

I read this in Slate the other day & it’s been really hard to forget…

Back in the early 60’s this test (PDF FILE) was given to anyone in Louisiana that could not prove at least a 5th grade education and wanted to vote.  Test takers had 10 minutes to complete the test and ONE wrong answer would result in an immediate failure of the test.

Take a look at the test & let me know how you think YOU would do!

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Original Slate Article Here

No Saturday Mail delivery? Fine by me!

Postal-truck-crash

Earlier this week the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced it would stop Saturday mail delivery in August and that’s just fine by me.  I say cut it down to 2-3 days a week.

I go to my mailbox a few times a week and it’s full of advertising inserts, credit card offers and stuff I never even look at.  I pay my bills online and I rarely, if ever, send any kind of written correspondence, and I’m sure I’m not alone.  As a matter of fact, I hate all of the waste generated by direct mail marketing.  I didn’t ask for this stuff but I have to take care of getting rid of it…

The USPS is supposed to be able to pay for itself with the fees it charges to use its service but after being “forced” to take a HUGE loan to pre-fund its union pension program it’s become under water to a tune of $15-billion.  Yet another example of how unions are not good for business anymore (that’s another post all together).

So far I have not read a lot of complaints about the USPS decision.  I think it’s just a sign of the times and probably not the first reduction of service we’ll see in our lifetime.

Daylight Saving Time Explained

One of the best explanations to date:

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