My Achilles Heel

Ever since I as a little kid with allergies, my sinuses have been my “Achilles Heel.” I remember the doctor having to suction out my sinuses because the mucous was so thick that I couldn’t blow it out.

When I was teaching back in the 70s, I was always sick because of the chalk dust in the air. Teary eyes and a runny nose ruled my Springs and Summers. Over the years, even two rounds of allergy shots (20 years apart), and what must have amounted to millions of allergy pills, never made much difference.

A dozen years ago, an Otolaryngologist discovered that I had a badly deviated septum. I opted to have it surgically fixed. I blogged about that back in July 2002.

Last November I came down down a sinus infection that no amount of nasal irrigation, allergy nose spray, and other non-presription treatments affected. So, back to an ENT, another CT scan, and a diagnosis of scar tissue blockage on one side and a re-deviated septum on the other. Three rounds of three different antibiotics, prednisone, and cortisone nose spray didn’t do a thing.

Surgery, again, done three days ago. Packing and splint, antibiotics, and Vicodin.

I got the packing and splint out today, and I have no doubt that surgery was the right thing to do. The scar tissue blockage had caused puss to back up high into my sinus cavities. And there it remained stuck until the surgeon cleaned it out and removed the scar tissue. While he was in there, he fixed the deviated septum on the other side.

They totally sedate you for the surgery, so that was a piece of cake. These three post surgical days, however, were something I had to make up my mind to grin and bear. (Well, not really grin; it was very uncomfortable.) No bending down or lifting anything up. No nose blowing. No hair washing. You just have to stay at home and do nothing. Even reading is hard because your eyes keep tearing up.

I slept in my recliner, blitzed out on Vicodin. Last night, even that magical drug didn’t make it possible to sleep, so I spent the night looking through old photo albums and removing the pictures that I want to scan in to keep for posterity. I had to distract myself from the fact that I could only breathe through my mouth, my throat was getting sore, and my head hurt.

After he removed the packing today, the ENT vacuumed out what was left in my sinuses, even the ones high up over the eye. That wasn’t fun, even though he sprayed lidocaine in first.

It’s going to take me a few days to catch up on some sleep, and even longer than that to get my digestive system back on track after the antibiotics.

Do I think it was worth it? Being able to breathe freely and not feel sick all of the time from the sinus infection is definitely worth it. Hell, yes.

The Stubborn Roots of God-ism

OK. This is a rant. Not about religious fanatics or extremists. It’s about reasonably intelligent and educated people who don’t take the time or make the effort to examine and understand the difference between freedom to practice a religion (or not) and the separation of church and state.

It’s all there, folks, in the Bill of Rights and Constitution. There’s no mention of god. There is only the First Amendment, which prohibits the establishment of a national religion.

How much more clear can that be.

But there’s something about people who are devoted to their religion and their version of god that makes them want to insist that it’s a universal truth. It seems to have something to do with the brain and the stubborn roots of god-ism.

Our research team at the University of Pennsylvania has consistently demonstrated that God is part of our consciousness and that the more you think about God, the more you will alter the neural circuitry in specific parts of your brain.

But that’s a rant for another time.

Even those many who believe in the freedom to practice the religion of your choice only seem to go along with that as long as that all-powerful god is part of the equation.

As a secular humanist, all of that is irrelevant to me until they insist that, somehow, America belongs to that god, that in god we must trust, that god blesses America.

I don’t know how to educate such folks. I think the roots of god-ism that religions infuse into the brains of thinking people take such a strong hold in the temporal lobe that it can’t be budged by logic or facts.

The wonderful thing about the internet, and the dangerous thing about the internet, is that once you have put something out there, it pretty much stays there (unless, of course, you cite some researched document that gets eventually pulled from its server.)

A FaceBook discourse that I have been having with my religious family members is out there but is not being accessed in my timeline. From their end, there is a lot of “one nation, under God,” and “In God We Trust”, and offers to send me reading material. They obviously don’t read what I have written in my comments. (“Don’t confuse me with facts; I know what I believe.”)

From my end is what, I think, are cogent explanations the position of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, along with links to more highly developed sources than I.

Since they are not being shared on FaceBook, I am sharing them here. Because I can. Because this is a crucial educational discussion. Because I’m scared to death that such well-meaning (but un-informed) folks will rise to the majority and destroy the foundations of My Blue America.

So, I am herewith repeating my comments to their god-ist urgings. Because I can and because I don’t want to lose my links and arguments. You can tell from my responses what they must have commented. These are my responses to a jpg of “One Nation Under God”:

— We need to go BACK to being one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all, regardless of religious or secular beliefs. What matters is The Golden Rule.

— No, if I meant the commandments, I would have said so. The “under god” was inserted into the pledge in 1954 during the Cold War with Russia by a Congress afraid of “godless” communism. This country was founded on a separation of church and state by the wise men who thought it all out originally. I documented it all here, in a history lesson worth knowing about:

— Hey, whatever works for you, I get inspiration from my hummingbirds. But that has nothing to do with the way this country functions; it’s totally an individual thing, and American history informs how that is supposed to work. If you google “The Golden Rule” you will find that just about all religions have that as a basis, as does secular humanism. That gives us a common ground that does not require a belief in god to be good. And I respect your PERSONAL beliefs and lifestyle, but I think you do need a lesson in American history so that you don’t try to impose your version on the rest of this country — which pretty much is the definition of the kind of Sharia Law practiced in some Islamic countries.

— Absolutely. Informed discourse is crucial to the maintenance of a democracy. The problem arises, however, when an “opinion” gets legislated by those who have the power to impose that “opinion” on others who do not share that “opinion.”

— Christine, read my historical documentation. Religion/God and our government were separated right from the beginning. They were never meant to be combined, as they are in Muslim countries. It’s a historical FACT. And it is documented over and over again in what our founding fathers wrote and signed. The Pilgrims did not create the documents that are the laws of our land. And the Pilgrims are hardly good examples living by the Golden Rule. Again, read my researched piece — even though some of the links are so old that they have disappeared, but googling will unearth similar factual documentation.

The Mayflower Compact was a PRECURSOR to what became our Constitution. Because it stressed the “civic values of justice, equality, and responsibility,” the founding fathers built on those values BUT also recognized that the religious part of the document was not a good thing to impose. So they purposely did not include any of that in our Constitution of Bill of Rights. Nowhere in those documents is god mentioned, and I will link to that info in the next comment.

— Excellent piece by PBS:
God In America – People – God and the Constitution

— Ladies, it’s never to late to learn the truth: Quote from the above piece: With Madison’s guidance, the First Congress approved the First Amendment to the Constitution that begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The amendment applied only to the federal government, not to the states. Some states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, continued to use taxpayer money to support established churches. In 1833, Massachusetts became the last state to end such support. [I guess, according to the law, maybe you could establish your own state and have your own state religion. And I guess that would apply to Buddhists, Muslims, etc. But then, that’s not what America is about, is it?]

— Well, then, you you really don’t understand what this country is about. And let me clarify my position on religion, in general. If it works for you to help you be a good person, fine. It doesn’t work for everyone. Some of us can be good without god. That’s a different issue from separation of church and state in America. America is not a country founded on “god” or his/her laws. It’s a country founded on secular human values (which, in truth, are shared by all religions). So, Trust in God all you want if that helps get you through the day. But that trust and belief is irrelevant to the laws of our land, despite what you would like to believe.

I am frustrated by the refusal of smart people to accept that they might be wrong about separation of church and state in America. It has to be the result of those stubborn roots of god-ism and the way the brain works. Science will tell.

My Annual Mother’s Day Tribute to My Kids

(I first posted this in 2006.)

Some women take to mothering naturally. I had to work at it. And so I wasn’t the best mother in the world. I would have worked outside the home whether I had been a single mom or not. But because I was, mine were latchkey kids, with my daughter, beginning at age 12, taking care of her younger brother, age 5, after school. I left them some evenings to go out on dates.

Oh, I did cook them healthy meals, and even cookies sometimes. I made their Halloween costumes and went to all parent events at their schools. My daughter took ballet lessons, belonged to 4H (but I got kicked out as Assistant Leader because I wouldn’t salute the flag during the Vietnam War). I made my son a Dr. Who scarf and took him to Dr. Who fan events. I bought him lots of comic books and taught him how to throw a ball.

But most of all, I think/hope I did for them what my mother was never able to do for me, — give them the freedom to become who they wanted to be — to explore, make mistakes, and search for their bliss. I think/hope that I always let them know that, as far as I was concerned, they were OK just the way they were/are. (Me and that dear now dead Mr. Rogers.) Not having had that affirmation from my mother still affects my relationship with her. I hope that my doing that right for them neutralizes all the wrong things I did as they were growing up.

So, you two (now adult) kids, here’s to you both. You keep me young, you keep me informed, you keep me honest, and, in many ways, you keep me vital. I’m so glad that I’m your mother.

Never in a million years could I have foretold where my kids would be today.

My daughter home schools my grandson, now 11. This is her bliss, and he is all the better for it. She sometime writes about her experiences as a parent who home schools on her blog walkinglabyrinth.com, as well as on Facebook. I live in the home she makes for the four of us. That’s a surprise, too.

My son, currently between jobs, lives in Portland OR and is the co-owner of and social media manager for nonprofit The Belmont Goats. As always, he maintains a strong internet presence.

Whatever they learned from me over all of those years, I am still learning from them and enjoying having them in my life.

when blogging was personally new

This is something I posted during my second month of blogging back in 2001. I wrote some great stuff back then. I had posted a “best of Kalilily” for those early days, for which the links don’t work. So when I fix them, I’ll reprise the post here.

Big Picture, Little Picture
So, there are some discussions going these days on about the purpose and value of weblogs. Oddly enough, the other night at my bi-monthly group meeting, I mentioned that I had begun a weblog, and I was asked to explain what that was and why I was doing it, and why I just wasn’t keeping a journal. As I’ve said, I’ve unsuccessfully tried keeping journals before and I write so much slower than I think that I got frustrated and quit. I can type almost as fast as I think (I got used to doing that at the job from which I retired last year, which involved mostly whipping out quick documents for others to share and claim as their own.) So, it’s easier to do it on the computer. And why don’t I just keep a journal on disk, I was asked. The truth is, I admitted, is that I’m used to writing for an audience. And I like having an audience. Even my poems are usually written with an audience (sometimes of one) in mind. It’s why I ballroom dance. I’m a performer at heart. I need ways to say to the world: this is who I am. Look at me. Pay attention. It seems to me that that’s at the heart of why everyone else who keeps a blog does so. In a world where we all have to live up to expectations and assume roles for survival purposes (our own and others) — caregiver, mother, employee, citizen — it’s so satisfying to have a place where one can BE who one is. Or in some cases, where one can BE who one wants to BE. It really doesn’t matter. We can create who we want to be or be creative with who we are. Either way, one has an identity, a voice. In a way, it’s kind of a new art form — or at least it can evolve in some cases into such. How cool is that!

discovering Inner Peas

I don’t read many blogs any more. I did in the early days, when we were a seedling community, all just starting out and feeling connected by our shared fascination with exploring the reaches of this technology, with sharing love of writing and our willingness to be open about who we are. We wrote with fire and shared with ferocity.

So I’m delighted when I stumble across a personal blog that I wish I were able to write, myself. It’s good writing. It’s honest feeling.

Inner Peas.

What great name.

I never found my niche

I enjoy reading mystery novels. Even more if the main character is a female. Even more if the plot involves some kind of “headology” — that intriguing mish-mash of psychology and shamanism, magic and wishing. (Granny Weatherwax is what I consider to be the model for practicing headology, but I’ve posted about her before and that’s off the topic of this post.)

I am thinking about niches and headology (two rarely connected topics) because I just finished the novel Night Angel, which applies various kinds of headologies to the process solving a murder mystery that involves a group of former 1960 Haight-Ashbury roommates.

I never lived that hippie life except in occasional free-flowing fantasies that I knew would probably not be as satisfying if played out in reality. But that didn’t stop me from fantasizing.

In the 1960s, I was married with children and living in a rural suburbia; I believed that had I not been living the responsible life, I might have been on some Magical Mystery Tour of my own, taking the Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. But I never even had a puff of pot back then. (Oh wait, yes, once, when a cousin who was married to a prison guard gave me a joint to try. Never having even learned how to smoke a cigarette, it was a failed secret experiment for me.)

If housewifery was not my niche, neither was hippiedom. Decades went by without the feeling that I had finally found where I was supposed to be in the world. I simply made the best of wherever I found myself. I guess that I am still doing that.

I look back and see myself as sort of a wife, sort of a mother, sort of a poet, sort of an activist, sort of a bureaucrat, sort of a dancer …. so many sorts, but no real niche, no place of grounding.

Maybe I found this Night Angel novel intriguing because each character seemed to have his or her own consistent niche.

My late once-husband had a very definite niche: He was a writer. He once said to me that everything else was just sawdust. He lived to write. He had found his niche.

Alongside my new La-Z-boy recliner is a box with 700+ pages of a typewritten novel of his that our son is self-publishing for him posthumously. It will be available soon to the public.

I want to read it because he often wrote with a strong sense of the power of headology, and his female characters were always forces of nature. But at the moment there is something in me that is envious of his niche — resentful, even. His niche has manifested into legacies that will go on without him.

You need a niche to leave a legacy.

I never found my niche.

Unless it’s late night blogging.

Insomnia

It’s one of those nights when my body can’t lie still.  So it’s a good time to try out blogging from my new phone pad — lying in bed, Simon and Garfunkel playing in the background because I’m feeling nostalgic for a time that I romanticized even more then than I do now. 

It’s too slow going on this flat screen keyboard. If I’m going to do this I’m going to have to get a little keyboard.

I’m wondering what ever happened to Art Garfunkle.

This is a test. 

chatting with China

[NOTE: If you have landed here before reading the previous post, please go and read it first.]

This post tells the end of the story I began in the previous post. It is a story with an ending that I didn’t expect, a story with an opportunity for learning on all kinds of fronts. I begin this post by saying that I cancelled the PayPal claim. But that’s not the end of it all.

There are three participants in this chat — me (the American consumer), staff of UPlay (the manufacturer of the unique phone/tab I bought), and staff of JSXL Technology (the online distributor from whom I bought the device). Two of us, I think, came away from this “chatty” business deal a little wiser about how to communicate with others and how to do business in a way that satisfies both consumer and product provider/s.

The communication issue here was not triggered by national culture or language. It was about attitude and trust. It was about civility. It was about respectfully listening and responding. It was a lot about good business practices and how to build and keep a customer base through good customer service (or the opposite). It also was about how to behave as a decisive consumer who doesn’t always know the right questions to ask when it comes to technology.

I am not a distributor or a marketer, but I am a thoughtful (if somewhat impatient) consumer. In many ways, I am a good example of today’s global consumer: I have a good idea about the product I want; I know how to use the internet to research my options; I expect complete and accurate product and ordering information on e-commerce websites; I order online from a global market. And, like the usual “shop-from-store-to-store-and-deal-with-store-clerks shopper, I expect my product questions to be answered thoughtfully and politely.

I could have been better at my consumer chatting; UPlay staff could have started off better; JSXL Technology has a big #FAIL, right up to the very end when I was still figuring out if and how I should return the phonepad I ordered from them. Bad attitude and bad customer service does not build a business or consumer trust.

JSXL Technology is a brand new e-commerce site, less than a year old. (My bad for not noticing this right away, but they were the site that offered the UPlay phonepad I wanted. The UPlay site itself did as well, but I gave up trying to figure out how to order from them.)

While JSXL might have a good website and know technology, they are worse than worst at knowing how to run a consumer-dependent business. They have a lot to learn and obviously (as demonstrated through their email conversations with me, their consumer) know less than nothing about how to deal with their customer’s questions. My advice is to not buy from them until they have more experience as an e-commerce business; they are hell to deal with.

That leads us to the other chatters and what we might have learned.

I have learned that I have to be more patient and accurate about explaining what it is I am asking about. Part of the problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know. And phrasing a question about a technology problem in a way that will get you the answer you need is severely hampered when you don’t know what you don’t know. (You know?) I don’t know what I can do about that, but I think I might want to get into my more patient “educator” mode when dealing with unhelpful, arrogant, (supposedly) consumer support staff. This time I lost patience, stopped trusting, and entered my warrior mode.

Lastly, UPlay staff, who resolved the whole issue by finding a way to return the phonepad for a reasonable postage cost.

And so here is the unexpected end to the story:

I have decided to keep the phone/pad — despite a really wonky boot-up process and the problems with time-outs when trying to download anything. I still don’t understand why the “Android drivers” come up as downloaded but uninstalled (Code 28) and don’t know if the mobile phone component will work when I eventually get to T-Mobile and get a SIM card and a plan. I’m hoping that the UPlay staff will explain what I still don’t understand and will answer future questions should they come up.

Meanwhile, I have successfully installed an SD card and used the camera; the GPS works; I have downloaded Words With Friends, OverDrive Media Console, Kindle for Android, and a few other apps I use. All of that is working. I am trusting that it will continue to function as I need it to. And I am trusting that UPlay consumer support staff will give me some advice if I run into function issues.

It’s a very cool little device, a whole lot cheaper than the ones I read about that soon will be reaching the American market.

I have not yet tried to download into the phonepad what I need to blog through WordPress. While I’m writing this on my HP Pavilion Notebook with a 17 inch screen, who knows that but soon I will be blogging from my 7 inch UPlay phonepad gen 3. (But first I will have to buy a keyboard case to make it easier; I found one, online, of course.)

I’m the kind of consumer you want to be nice to, young JSLX Technology. I hope that this all has been a valuable learning experience for you.

It has for me.

[UPDATE: Countless email back and forth with uPlay did not provide any solution to the problem of why, even sitting right by the wifi router, connecting to websites and downloading continued to frequently fail. They didn’t know why; I should send it back and they would check it out. Instead, I decided to do a “restore to factor settings.”

And that solved the problem.

It makes me wonder if the folks at the seller’s site put in a setting or something that wound up causing a problem. So, the uPlay phonetab is in play. I haven’t yet activated the mobile phone part of it or purchased a smartphone data plan. I’m still experimenting with all the features of the tablet component, which are impressive.]

patience, persistence, PayPal and the Yellow Brick Road

Let me begin by saying, upfront, that this is all about the unlocked Uplay phone/tablet that I bought online from JSLX Technology. It is a global market, after all, and, while I usually buy from American companies, this device was just what I was looking for at a price I could afford.

This story has a beginning and a middle; it does not yet have an end, and I’m hoping that posting this on my blog might help to end this frustrating saga in a just and fair way. Any advice from techies or others, after reading through this whole post, will be greatly appreciated.

I have spent the past two weeks attempting to, and finally actually, contacting both the seller and the manufacturer because the damned thing has a variety of issues, mostly, I believe (and so does the computer repair place I brought it to) because the drivers, while downloaded, are not installed and the tablet offers no way to install them.

So, I am now on that interwebs Yellow Brick Road, slogging through e-mailing territories lined with various conversational pitfalls, detours, dead ends, and side paths that are designed to wear me down. BUT, as that Lilith logo in my right sidebar proclaims: “She is that which will not surrender.”
Lilitu

Yes, I could send the device back to China, but, according to DHL and UPS, it would cost me $180 to do so — more than I paid for the damned thing. And that’s how the company asks you to send a return. So, that’s not an option.

Yes, the manufacturer and seller could possibly send me a driver installation disk or some instructions on how to install the drivers, but they are refusing to do so. I don’t know why, except that they keep insisting that there is nothing wrong with the device and there are drivers downloaded in it. (As you will see from the screen images posted below, the drivers are there but they are not installed and the device offers no way to install them, making the device function like something out of the very early ages of this technology.) Even with an excellent wifi signal, trying to download anything via the browser takes so long that the servers time out. Navigating anywhere in the device is worse than trying to get to the Land of Oz. That’s certainly not what their website PR indicates. This is a young company, and it surely needs more work before it can compete in the global marketplace.

I started a PayPal dispute and got nowhere, so I escalated to a claim, which is under review. One reason for this post is so that I can send PayPal the URL and give them all of the details that way.

The devil is, indeed, in the details, and the details are in the screens that come up when I connect the UPlay phonepad with my HP Pavilion Notebook PC so that I can see what’s in the tablet’s folders. These are details that can’t be argued. (What can be argued, and are being argued, are my experiences not being able to download stuff like the Kindle Android app, and of other downloading efforts timing out even though the wifi signal is excellent. Maybe it’s that driver problem; maybe the device is simply a LEMON.)

So, what I am doing is documenting, via screen images, attempts to prove to the seller and manufacturer that the Android drivers that are supposed to be installed are NOT INSTALLED.

Any techies (American,Chinese, Indian…whoever…) reading the following — please tell me if I am wrong and, if so, what I might be able to to do get this problem fixed.

The first thing I do is go into Control Panel, and then Devices. This is what the UPlay phonepad appears as. There is a yellow exclamation point by the device, which comes up as an MP3 player. (My iPhone comes up as a camera, so I understand how that works.) I’m assuming that the yellow exclamation point means “Whoa! There’s some problem here! Check it out!)
1device

So, then I click on the device and see that there is no general information for it. Well, OK. I go on from there.
2devicegeneral

Next is device functions. There’s a whole list of Android drivers listed ALL WITH YELLOW EXCLAMATION POINTS. There are also other functions without the exclamation points. Obviously, there has to be some reason why the Android drivers are highlighted as problematic, right?
3devicefuntions

AHA! Click on an Android and you get a CODE 28 MESSAGE THAT THERE IS NO DRIVER INSTALLED!!!
4driversCode28
Here is information about the Code 28 message, which includes:

Code 28 is a device manager error indicating that the drivers for a given hardware device are not installed. This error means that a previous attempt to update the driver failed or a driver was uninstalled for a given device but was not replaced/updated. This error prompts you to reevaluate your driver installation and reinstall the driver if necessary. In most cases, reinstalling the driver will fix the problem

OK. So, let’s try a fix.
6apply_fix

UH OH. NO STRAIGHFORWARD FIX. Windows can’t find a way to install, and the internet can’t find a way to install.

Well, maybe there’s a file somewhere in the device that’s an installer.
7browsefiles

Hmm. There are two drivers listed.
8android_install

OK. Let’s click on Android Driver. Well,that’s all well and good, but where do I go from there to install.
9install_android_driver

This is where my expertise wanes. I don’t know what these files are, but I click on one that looks promising, anyway.
11cant_open_file

Hmm. Let’s try this.
12free_file_opener

No, I don’t think I want to take a chance and go this route. Here’s where my knowledge of this stuff stops. So now what?

It is the responsibility of the seller or manufacturer to provide me with the capacity to install the drivers. Otherwise, the device is defective and they are the liable parties. IF they do that and the drivers are installed and the device still doesn’t work, then it is a LEMON. Do I have to suck up the cost as a bad purchase, or are they still liable?

ADDENDUM: After another unhelpful response from the seller, I will explore some cheaper cost of returning the device. They do have a return policy: will pay between $9 and $25 toward the return shipping cost. I believe that should get the $25, but their decision will be based on whether they think anything is wrong with the device or if I am returning it “just because I didn’t like it.” By now, I don’t trust them to care at all about fairness or truth.

I waged my battle as though with the wind. There’s no getting any satisfactory fix from them.

And the truth is that this is a device that looks good on their website but is a real lemon. And their customer service sucks as well. AFLE for me.

[NOTE: Go to the next post to read the end of the story.]