Fry’s Electronics was a great store for Geeks

When my local Fry’s store opened parking was a challenge despite the large size of the parking lot. They had 20 check out windows and that wasn’t enough. You had to wait in line for fifteen minutes or more to get to a check out window.

To make the store even more fun the store was decorated in an Alice in Wonderland motif. 

The store was the place to go to buy a PC computer. That was about the time the Windows operating system was implemented. Thousands of us wanted that new system. Fry’s offered a wide variety of units and the components to build your own computer.

In addition to computers there were printers, software, and a variety of other electronic components. Weather stations, electronic test equipment of every kind lined the aisles.

They added televisions, sound equipment and cameras in the hope of remaining relevant. However their prices were not particularly low and so there was no motivation to visit the store.

But time has passed and today the novelty has worn off. Computers have become as prolific as televisions. Low cost laptop computers and small portables called tablets are no novelty. In other words these units are just viewed as commodities. Software in many cases is now sent to our computers via the internet.

I have not been in that store in the past two years. Many others weren’t going either.

Like Sears and Montgomery Ward what they had to offer just was not what the public wanted. I am sure the Fry family became wealthy and will go on to other endeavors.

And that’s life.

Why do we sustain life of those who have no chance of recovery?

2003 and no Alzheimer’s disease at my home. She passed away in 2011

My mother had Alzheimer’s disease.  Her last three years was spent in a nursing home.  For most of that time she was unaware of her surroundings.  She did not speak at all.  When I visited her she was unaware of my presence.  When awake she simply stared into space.  Sadly she was a vegetable.  She died two months before he 96th birthday.  She was a smart woman who graduated cum laude from college at 20 years old. She taught school for almost 20 years and traveled in her retired years to many parts of the world.

The question is why do we sustain the life of someone who will never recover from a disease?

This topic was brought up again by this article in the February 1, 2021 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek.  The article is titled “how I helped my dad die”

The article is engrossing.  You might cry.  It starts with these words:

I was finishing up breakfast in New York when my dad sent me a text message. He was ready to die, and he needed me to help.

The request left me shaken, but that’s different than saying it came as a shock. I’d begun to grasp that something was really wrong 10 months before, in May 2019, when he’d come to California from Maine. He was there to meet his first granddaughter, Fern, to whom I’d recently given birth. But he couldn’t bend down to pick her up. He was having trouble walking, and he spoke of the future in uncharacteristically dark terms. We’d traveled to see him in Maine four times since then, and each time he’d looked older: his face more gaunt, his frame more frail.

The entire article is worth your time. Here is the link. “how I helped my dad die”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas

The board that governs the flow of power for more than 26 million people in Texas has been blamed for the widespread outages, prompting the governor, lawmakers and federal officials to begin inquiries into the system’s failures, particularly in preparation for cold weather.

The five board members, who intend to resign at the conclusion of a meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning, were all from outside of Texas, a point of contention for critics who questioned the wisdom of outsiders playing such an influential role in the state’s infrastructure.

The board became the target of blame and scrutiny after the winter storm last week brought the state’s electric grid precariously close to a complete blackout that could have taken months to recover from. In a last-minute effort to avert that, the council, known as ERCOT, ordered rolling outages that plunged much of the state into darkness and caused electricity prices to skyrocket. Some customers had bills well over $10,000.

One of the striking things about the crisis was not just that Texas was hit worse than neighboring states, but that some parts of the state did much better than others. On Tuesday, at the height of the power disruptions, only .04% of households tracked in El Paso County were without power, while the comparable number was 29% in Dallas County, 44% in Travis County (Austin), 41% in Tarrant County (Fort Worth), and 18% in Harris County (Houston).

Texas is the only state that has its own grid, which it maintains in order to avoid federal regulation. The rest of the US is on either the Western power grid (like El Paso) or the Eastern Power grid, like the panhandle and a few counties on the state’s eastern border. (In Bowie County, home of Texarkana, 10% of households lost power.) So when Texas’ supply/demand situation went bad, the rest of the country couldn’t bail them out.

The result was a laissez-faire market design that rewards those who can sell power inexpensively and still recover their capital costs. That keeps prices low when demand is steady. When demand spikes, however, so do prices, which can climb as high as $9,000 per megawatt-hour to incentivize power plants of all kinds to fire up.

Texas lawmakers are trying to find someone to blame.  Republicans are trying to blame Democrats but that will be hard to do in a state that is run by the GOP.  More likely those five board members from outside Texas will be the fall guys for mismanagement.

Water Quality

The issue of dirty water is not new. Texas may be feeling the impact of the Big Freeze but other cities have faced similar issues. Flint Michigan comes to mind as a good example of mismanagement.

I live in Los Angeles. When the city was hit with an earthquake in 1994 we were told to boil our water during the following week. Instead we started buying bottled water. We bought the 2 ½ gallon Arrowhead containers at Costco. We have continued buying bottled water since that time. We consume 5 to 7 gallons a week. I keep six to eight containers in the garage and an additional five gallons in a storage shed.

The city Department of Water and Power (DWP) sends out an annual water quality report. Of course it reports that that the water is safe to drink. I just don’t trust the report. When we re-piped our house in the year 2000 the old pipes were filthy and clogged. Am I to believe that the city’s pipes are cleaner than the 60 year old pipe that lead to my house?

In July 2014 the massive Sunset Boulevard water main break brought geysers of water, a sinkhole, flooding on the UCLA campus — the risks that come with expansive water line systems installed decades ago. The main line trunk that burst and turned UCLA into a swimming pool was 93 years old.

The failure also led to a familiar “Band-Aid approach” that experts say is common when pipes in an aging system fail.

Water main breaks continue in the city every month. That those breaks are a continuing problem says that we have a serious problem that the city DWP has yet to confront. One of the latest was near my home on Topanga Canyon Boulevard. After posting this item another break on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks reported on February 24. These breaks tell me that the pipes are deteriorating everywhere. Anything breaking off inside those pipes that ends up at my house? Oh no they say. Everything is OK.

Contaminated pipes are everywhere. Lead pipes are everywhere.  This map shows where it is most prevalent.

Once again money is the issue.

Never Ending Wars

This seem like a plot I have seen before. Yes a book and a movie.

CNN reports: “The Pentagon opened the door to the possibility of sending more American troops to Iraq as part of a newly expanded NATO training mission to support Iraqi forces and ensure that ISIS does not rise again.”

US soldiers in Afghanistan

So here we go again sending troops into Iraq and Afghanistan. The argument is we need to ensure ISIS and the Taliban don’t overwhelm those countries. The arguments goes ISIS and the Taliban could launch attacks on the United States. They could be worse than 9-11. In 2003 US-led forces invaded Iraq to overthrow President Saddam Hussein and eliminate weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. We apparently still have troops stationed there.

The number of troops in Afghanistan is at least 2,500. The United States military has been engaged in Afghanistan since shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

When will we say “Enough is enough?” How many American lives and how much noney should we spend on this endeavor?

In Orson Wells’ “1984” there is a subplot of the never ending war with Eastasia in a war against Eurasia. The wars the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan seems very similar.

Biden Town Hall

If you missed President Joe Biden’s Town Hall event on CNN Here is your chance to see it all thanks to Youtube. The take-away for me is the man is a mensch. It was a startling alternative to Biden’s predecessor.   A clear calm leader who does not have all the answers but connected to those who asked questions and told of their particular issues.   More of these town hall events would be a welcome occurrence similar to FDR Fireside Chats.

America is Turned Upside Down

The hell of 2020 is now the hell of 2021. It all started with the shutdown of almost everything in March 2020. Five events that happened (or didn’t happen) that cause me to predict that 2021 is just an extension of 2020.

1. A virus but no approved vaccine. Yes you read that correctly. I just had my first Pfizer vaccination after someone handed me some documentation that read the following day. In part the document says (I bolded the last line) “The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent Covid-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent Covid-19.”

2. Conspiracy theorists that have been around since people have had the printing press to promote their ideas. It has now become a mainstream reality that have been promoted by QAnon. While the identity of the original author or authors behind “Q” is still unknown, the history of the conspiracy theory’s spread is well-documented — through YouTube videos, social media posts, Reddit archives, and public records reviewed by NBC News. With most of us staying home more than ever and little to do we are more likely to read and perhaps accept conspiracy theories. Many of those people at the riot at the Capital on January 6 were carrying signs and dressed in what they believed to be part of their purpose. One rioter at the Capital is known as the “QAnon Shaman” now regrets his entry and said after his arrest, “I deeply regret and am sorry that I entered the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. I should not have been there.”

3. A majority of Republican senators and house members have no problem with the president of the United States attempting to overturn the results of a national election. After the acquittal the Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “There is no question – none – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

4. The economy is in shambles. Restaurant and retail workers may never have jobs again because remote work at home jobs have supplanted those people who drove to work and had lunch out and did their shopping during their lunch breaks.

5. Two years after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida not one piece of legislation to deny the mentally unstable to obtain a weapon has been passed by congress. On Feb. 20, 2020, candidate Joe Biden made this statement. “My first day of office, I’m going to send a bill to the Congress repealing the liability protection for gun manufacturers, closing the background check loopholes and waiting period.” It didn’t happen. There is no legislation at this time said the Biden Press Secretary, Jan Psaki.

And you thought things would be getting better in 2021.

Bill Gates Daughter Jennifer Gates

Bill Gates Daughter Jennifer Gates posted this message on her Instagram page.  She definitely has a sense of humor. 

The quip is a reference to her father Bill Gates, the billionaire tech mogul, who has centered his philanthropic efforts with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on improving vaccine technology and access in the developing world. He has also long warned about the possibility of a viral pandemic, well before Covid-19 spread across the globe.
His vaccine advocacy has made him a central figure in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. One outlandish belief is that Gates is using the pandemic to push a vaccine with a microchip that would control people’s minds or track their location.

It’s been over a year since the SarsCOV2 variant emerged, and we now have more solutions, including immunizations, to help protect individuals and communities. 🙏

I am beyond privileged to receive my first dose of mRNA to teach my cells to amount a protective immune response to this virus. As a medical student and aspiring physician, I am grateful it will give me protection and safety for my future practice. I’d urge everyone to read more and strongly consider it for yourself and your families when you are provided the option. The more people who get immunized, the safer our communities are for everyone.

Saying thank you doesn’t begin to describe my gratitude for the physicians, scientists, public health experts, pharmacists and so many others who made this achievement in modern medicine possible. Our healthcare workers have been working tirelessly to save as many lives as possible, and this vaccine will only increase their ability to succeed.

PS I’ll still be wearing my mask (or two!) after receiving my second dose- hope that’s self explanatory, and if it’s not lmk if I can provide resources

PPS sadly the vaccine did NOT implant my genius father into my brain – if only mRNA had that power…..! 😜


Hypocrisy – A Disgusting Example

Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

GOP Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell denounces Trump’s conduct after voting to acquit at impeachment trial.

The only explanation for McConnell’s vote is his fear of Donald Trump. He is not alone as you listen to other GOP senators it is obvious they too fear Trump.  Of course McConnell claimed that the purpose of an impeachment trial was remove someone from office.  So even though Trump was impeached while in office he cannot be punished because he is no longer in office.

Trump Charged with “inciting violence”

It really does not make any difference what anyone says about the incitement on January 6.  Most Republican senators are not going to vote a guilty verdict.  The comments that the Republican Party is now the Trump Party appears accurate.  Trump’s inexplicable hold over the GOP is almost 100%.

But just for the discussion what is incitement, exactly? The dictionary definition of “incite,” according to Merriam-Webster, is simple: “to move to action : stir up : spur on : urge on.” Trump clearly did that, when he directed his supporters to march toward Capitol Hill from a rally held under the “Stop the Steal” banner.

But there’s a much more detailed definition in US law, which is:

“…the term ‘to incite a riot’, or ‘to organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot”, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.”

Federal courts said Trump did not incite a mob back in 2016 when he told supporters to turn on protesters, who later sued the President.

The New York Times has a thorough examination of how courts have looked upon “incitement.” Read that here.

The history of “incitement”: Oliver Wendell Holmes, the First Amendment-protecting Supreme Court justice who pushed the idea that a person can’t shout fire in a crowded theater, built the “clear and present danger” test for speech. He argued Congress could only regulate speech when it represented a “present danger of immediate evil or an intent to bring it about.”

More recently, the Supreme Court has protected all sorts of speech, like flag burning, crude political hyperbole and, importantly in this instance is Brandenburg v. Ohio, which allows advocating crime as long as it doesn’t incite imminent lawlessness.

Trump’s legal team repeatedly cited that case in a legal brief laying out their free speech-focused defense.

Most of this information is from CNN’s Zachary B. Wolf