On Being AWOL: The Great 80 Day Internet Disconnect

You may have noticed that I have been absent a while — there are two reasons for this. The first was losing my internet lifeline — the first storm of the season rendered our already stressed internet connection null and void. 13 kilometers of line had to be replaced along with some of the electricity lines.

There is no rush here in Portugal to undertake such work — SAPO who own all the lines and infrastructure are next on the privatization list and do not want to invest in capital at present — the internet providers who have to use the infrastructure, and pay to do so, quite understandably have no desire to fix a problem that is not theirs.

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When Google Burps, We Swallow

Yesterday, I was checking out the “new and improved” Google Now feature on my iPhone, and when I pulled up the weather card, I was met with this remarkable temperature:  125 degrees in the light rain in Jersey City at 11:18 in the morning.

What?

Huh!

I quickly checked my other favorite weather site — forecast.io — on my iPad, and learned the actual temperature in Jersey City was a balmy, but humid, 75 degrees with scattered rain.  A 50 degree bogus increase in temperature is a really bad result from a company you pay to trust.

It was a little alarming to see how bluntly and boldly Google Now delivered the absolutely wrong — and dangerous! — temperature.  Sure, mistakes happen, but there was no subsequent notification, or even acknowledgement later, that the 125 degree temperature was a hiccough in the Google world — and that should concern us all.

When Google burps, we all involuntarily swallow.

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You Love Everything!

For some reason, I tend to do a lot of street talking with my local mailmen.  After our old carrier retired last year, our new carrier is even older, and perhaps, kinder, and he is a traditional Indian gentleman Sikh who wears a Dastar that matches the pewter blue color of his official United States Postal Service uniform.  He is very proper and absolutely resolute in everything he does.

We’ll call our new mailman “Jerry” to protect his privacy.  I always run into Jerry on the street, and I warned him when he first started that I would always say “Hi” when I saw him on the street just because I’m from the Midwest and that’s how we operate and I can’t help myself to pretend I don’t see him.  Jerry seemed to be okay with that, and we often exchange pleasantries on the street and oftentimes we stop and chat a bit.

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Reflecting on Hurricane Irene

We were warned about it for days — the impending hurricane that could cause untold destruction in New York. We were told through the newspaper to stay home and that some people would have to be evacuated to save their lives. In the end, Hurricane Irene turned out to be Tropical Storm Irene by the time she reached New York but I think we learned a few things.

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Why I Could Never Live in California

When you grow up cold in the Midwest, one of the first impulses is to flee from the gloominess and the misery surrounding you:  No oceans.  Few lakes.  Lots of ponds.  Faraway mountains in non-neighboring states encapsulate you and make Summers stiflingly hot and humidified.  When we reach the age of consent in our time of reason, many of us bolt West to Los Angeles or East to New York.  Not many head up North to Minneapolis or Chicago and, fewer still, move Southward to Kansas City.  If you are a tender Californian, I urge you to stop reading this article right now.  You will not be happy with the continuation of my argument.

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The Delta Disaster of May 9, 2010

Sunday, May 9, 2010 was shaping up to be an excellent end to my honeymoon. My wife and I had spent a week in Disney World and were looking forward to getting home. Our flight was set and we were waiting by the gate. All of the hard work had been done — going through security, getting frisked electronically, and finding the right gate. All we had to do was wait until the time for boarding and go home — or so we thought.

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