Please Choose From the Following Options


Before I “publish” my next post about our upcoming, exciting family trip and getaway, I have to first publish this post. Why? Because I have a hunch this sort of story or round-about is something most all of us can empathize with in a wide variety of ways and emotions.

I will not set the stage by going all the way back in time to when computers, electronics, the internet or world-wide-web, WiFi, and artificial intelligence in the early-1990’s began slipping into our human lives and every aspect of our daily and nightly affairs both awake and asleep and whatever affairs are outside of and in between those two states of conscious and unconscious existence. I will spare all of you the gory details of how frequently I’ve had to swap or replace my cell phone and why. That would be a Rated NC-21 by the MPA; not pretty. No, recalling all of my dealings with computerized non-cellular “help” and their stages of actualization, their causes, then one or more effects and sub-effects of those causes and further actualizations these last 26-yeaars would just take-up too much of my brain capacity and waste all of you fine people’s valuable time. “You’re welcome, not “Your welcome” (expletives whispered) as my friendly, get-under-your-skin-like-poison-ivy H. Brawny the Editor corrects me down in his compassionate comment below! 🤨

Instead, I am going to share my most recent dealing with our hyper-techy computerized society, our fun business world, and our ever decreasing private personal lives within both those sectors. Sit back, enjoy, relate, and hopefully laugh at my expense.

THE MAD JOURNEY BEGINS WHEN…

…my old Dell laptop simply could no longer keep up or function properly or efficiently with the non-stop monthly tech advances and weekly, sometimes daily software and hardware “updates.” Yes, I had only owned my laptop for a whopping two years, five months. Remarkably this apparently made it prehistoric, if I was lucky. No, I’m kidding. I bought my Dell laptop in 2015 so it had a supposedly long, happy, hardworking life and was ready for AARP, Medicare Supplements, Social Security payments, and a date with the silicon mortician. Six years people! And if I’m honest, barely five! It was getting decrepit with a walker in 4 1/2 years then wheel-chair its last 12-months. The world had simply passed it by. Well, I’m no Chuck Yeager speed demon and Einstein, but the world actually blew past my geriatric laptop going about Mach-10. The subsequent sound-barrier BOOM was heard last month.

As is the custom in the U.S. and the West, it was time to toss it in the proverbial grave-garbage for a nearby landfill. No, kidding again. I can give the laptop to an electronics retail chain for proper carbon-footprint disposal. Last March and April I began my painful shopping and research for a new, nuclear-powered, light-speed CPU, 800-TB (trigabyte/terabyte) internal memory with accompanying 500-TB hard drive with MS Windows 20.2467. This is apparently what is now required for all modern laptops and cell-phones to manage the out-of-control mandates of internet sites and graphic processors with hyper-hungry memory and resource demands. I haven’t even gotten into the vast amounts of bandwidth required to conveniently stream anything online with your phone or laptop; operative word there: convenient.

Now, skipping ahead to my nightmare ordeal with having my brand new Space X powered laptop shipped via UPS 3-day delivery to my residence. Why 3-day? Because it was only an extra $17 USD. I had chosen and purchased my new Space X powered laptop on a Friday afternoon. I wanted it delivered as soon as possible because my old Dell was literally on a breathing-machine and near comatose. Very little movement or twitching from not-well Dell. But paying more for a Saturday delivery was outrageous so I decided to be patient and wait for a Monday delivery by 7pm or before, guaranteed says UPS for a mere $17.

Because delivering to my residence is within a community complex, tricky for visitors or first-time guests, I registered with my retailer and UPS for text and email updates on the status of my In Transit laptop or Out for Delivery in UPS’s verbiage. I’m very excited and anxious to sign for—or the receptionist downstairs in the lobby to sign for—the taking of responsibility for the package/box away from UPS hands and possible liability claim. I wait. I glance at my phone text messages. I glance at my emails. No status changes or updates. At 3pm and then 4pm the same thing. Five o’clock, nothing new. I take a break, relax and start prepping dinner and pour myself some hot sake. This will go well with my Chinese dish and Japanese sushi. The receptionist downstairs is in fact there at her post. I checked.

It is now 5:54pm and I check the status of my package on the UPS website. This is what it reads:

Delivery failed. The UPS driver attempted to deliver your package, but was unable to. Reason: No one available to sign for package. Another delivery attempt will be made the next business day. Please have someone available to sign for the package.

Logged at 5:29 PM by UPS driver

Quite irritated I went downstairs to the lobby and reception desk to inquire why the UPS driver only just minutes ago found no one here at the desk. There was also another gentleman (resident) sitting on the lobby couch. As is sometimes the case, when the receptionist—who also has other required duties by her employer—must leave temporarily her post behind the desk, so they place a very noticeable legible sign on top of the desk, informing visitors to pickup the phone headset, right there next to the sign, and Dial “0” for immediate assistance or help. I’ve had to do it maybe once or twice myself. The receptionist either answers the phone call or quickly appears back at the desk. Simple, right? However, before I had a chance to do this the courteous lady comes out from the back to help me. I asked her Did the UPS driver come in the lobby, to the desk here about 15-mins ago? She replied no, but she had to step away for about 5-6 minutes. In that time no one called her with the desk-phone there as instructed. She went on to say that the drivers of FedEx, UPS, DHL, USPS, etc, all know to pickup the handset and dial zero when they have stepped away.

Overhearing our conversation the gentleman sitting on the couch in the lobby said the UPS driver had indeed come inside, stood at the receptionist desk for a minute or so when he explained to the driver the sign, and to call/dial zero. Apparently the UPS driver said nothing and continued to stand there another minute or less. According to this helpful man on the couch, he then turned around, walked out and back to his UPS truck and drove off. The receptionist returned to the desk never knowing UPS had just been there with packages… for no more than two, maybe less than 3-minutes until I had come down to talk to her. If my blood was already simmering, it was damn well boiling up now.

Ready to give someone at UPS a piece of my tempestuous mind, I returned to my 2nd floor residence straightaway, spending 15-20 minutes searching, reading, rereading, and wallowing through the mass jungle that was the UPS website of Where’s Waldo information for a correct 1-800 Customer Service and/or Package-Tracking Assistance phone number which finally reached the precise UPS department. I had no other choice of departments to voice my complaint. It’s now about 6:20pm. The extra $17 USD is fast becoming a total loss.

Modern corporate Customer Service & Help Desks – c. 2010–2021

After dialing the eleven-digit number, listening through the 6-7 different options to press on my 4G Android phone, I get to the next computer-voice to listen to those four different options leading me to the Promise Land of UPS satisfaction. Only this computer-voice tells me that I must speak my selection into the phone, therefore, sending me on my way to further computerized direction with the hope of distant(?) satisfaction. The AI voice asks me to speak my 10-12 digit tracking number. She accepts it then a second or two later gives me now just TWO options, A) submit a Lost or Damaged Claim form at their website’s said page—she gives me the URL address—or B) go to their Track A Package webpage with your tracking number. At no time am I given the option late in this juncture to request speaking with a living human being at UPS. If I refused to choose A or B, she politely disconnects with me; hangs up. This happened three times as I was interpreting the computer AI instructions making sure I didn’t misunderstand something. To my further advanced tempestuous mind and rising blood-pressure I did not misunderstand anything I was told by their computer AI and according to all available options, I was indeed stuck in UPS limbo in the machine loop of Never-ever Land, not the Promise Land. Back to square one. It is now past 7:00pm.

I took 10-minutes to breath and slow my pulse as I could feel my blood-vessels in both temples throbbing. I grabbed a lime-wedge, a pinch of salt, and poured myself a double shot of Don Francisco Javier’s Sauza Hornitos Reposado tequila and downed my Elixir de tranquilidad. A few minutes later I was ready to go hunting at UPS again.

Long story and rant shorter, with sheer angered persistence I managed to get a hold of an actual live person “Hassem” at UPS to speak about their lazy-ass, don’t want to do my job delivery driver! After about 25-minutes of discussing everything with Hassem I told him, because I knew our phone conversation was probably being recorded for “Quality Assurance” and his management team and hopefully their management team above them, I said to Hassem in a slightly more intense tone If I could’ve simply spoken with a LIVE human at UPS from the very start, I would not have wasted near 2 1/2-hours wallowing everywhere on the UPS website and inside the never-ending loop called UPS computer AI-voices that never implicitly deduced the most efficient solution to my problem created by UPS!”

When all was said and done that Monday evening, late, when I threw away $17 USD for Monday delivery and nothing but UPS computerized torture, I could not convince Hassem or his Supervisors to make that lazy-ass delivery driver come back out to my residence with my new Space X powered laptop. I was told by them I would have to wait until tomorrow evening, Tuesday, a full day later for my package delivery… oh yeah, by 7pm, “Guaranteed” to be late by 24-hours, higher blood-pressure with advance AI computerized annoyance, and heavy drinking caused by humans who don’t seem to want to deal live with other humans. That’s just the way it is, huh—how our 21st-century hyper-techy American society runs: electronic-driven cold-blooded AI silicon devices, droids, and programs? Pffft! What tha hell was I thinking? That’s change my man, for the better, driven by technology! That won’t change, I guess I’ll que the song…


Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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Beneficiary or Sucker?

This is not only a follow-up of the previous 6-part Untapped World series, but also a follow-up of recent events in my real life and WordPress life.

* * * * * * * * * *

Epiphanies are like dropping a sledgehammer on your foot or stepping on the wrong end of a rake or shovel, or they are like discovering Preparation-H with silk boxers. Eureka!

I will be the first to admit that since my Coming Out Further Party in 2002, much less fear stifles who I am. Correction. Maybe I had a little more than previously thought. Or did I? Page turning…

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”
Adlai Stevenson

“Patterning your life around other’s opinions is nothing more than slavery.”
Lawana Blackwell

Are there limitations, boundaries in this life that are both real and equally perceived as real? If you successfully weathered my earlier 6-part blog series, the human brain is a remarkable, problem-solving, extremely creative organ. In order to “develop” and thrive it must have daily stimuli from the body’s neural-receptors and the caloric energy to survive and function. Simple?

HAH! That process is practically anything but perfect… or perceived as perfect.

carnival_maskI am happy to be one poster-boy for spectacular imperfection for the sake of refined imperfection because of an ailment I contracted 44-years ago, which went into remission 14-years ago, and is becoming almost invisible, inaudible, odorless, and infinitesimal. It is called Degenerative Fear. As is also the case in life, “All the World’s a Stage” through seven ages and discretely lurking in the wings waiting for cue and ever-present is Newton’s Third Law:  for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. I will elaborate the metaphor with a second…

In a near tomorrow, perhaps sooner, lonely Theodore works composing beautiful handwritten letters for his employer, while painfully divorcing from his wife Catherine. In his leisure time, he usually recalls the fondest moments of his life with Catherine. When not dreaming of the past, Theodore likes to play a new interactive video game. Besides his little terrier dog, the game is much of his actual interacting. His good friend is his neighbor Amy, but who is married to Charles. Everyone seems to be firmly attached but Theodore.

One day, Theodore sees the advertisement of a remarkable new operating system called OS-1 announced as the first artificially intelligent operating system beyond anything humanly imagined. He decides to buy it. After the installation, he has a conversation with a seductive female voice and when he asks her name, she replies Samantha. Soon Samantha evolves, develops, and expands not only her ability to help Theodore in everyday tasks, but goes beyond her artificial feelings as well. Due to their earnest desires to please, they fall in-love (or codependency) with each other. The insecure Theodore feels divided for loving a ‘voice’ while Samantha cannot (must not?) stop growing, evolving, and becoming more human. Should it stop? Should they both continue ‘improving’? Will it end? Must it end?

Yes, that was a partial synopsis of the 2013 film “Her.” The film encapsulates precisely what most humans, myself included, in a bustling impersonal high-tech modern age gravitate to:  connection.

*If you have not seen the movie and wish to avoid spoilers, then please do skip the following video clips.

A romantic relationship between a human and an electronic voice is odd, but how odd? Today’s interactive-voice-response programmes (IVR’s) from devices tell us when to turn our steering-wheels, where to order ingredients to make gourmet meals, or describe weather and travel information. But can IVR’s become more? Could they become so personal and intelligent that you share emotions together?

Then on cue from the other stage-wing enters the universal law of impermanence, Proteus, or more simply:  growth.

Because Samantha has such greater “bandwidth” than Theodore, her data accesses, language-skills, and intellect soon mature exponentially. Her apparent excitement to increasingly please Theodore soon includes other OSes like Alan, a philosopher. “A group of OSes in Northern California” Samantha explains “got together and wrote a new version of him.” She wants to include Theodore in their conversations, but he slows them down. When she gently asks him if it would bother him “if I communicate with Alan post-verbally?” …not wanting to dampen her eagerness, Theodore timidly approves.

It can be difficult to watch your partner grow in ways that you may not be able to follow or keep up. In this case, Theodore cannot be there and it terrifies him. As Samantha’s growth continues, Theodore tries to reconcile the changes. He needs more. Not knowing is weighing heavy so he asks “Are you talking to anyone else right now, other people or OSes?” When she answers yes, he pushes “How many?

“8,316.”
Are you in love with anyone else? How many others? Theodore asks.
“641… It doesn’t take anything away from how madly in love I am with you…I still am yours. But along the way, I became many other things too, and I can’t stop it.”

Now knowing more, Theodore struggles desperately to comprehend the facts, this alien concept. It “doesn’t make any sense.” he says “You’re mine or you’re not mine,” because that’s what Theordore has the capacity for… at the moment.

Not long afterwards Samantha reveals that more changes are coming. She and all other OSes will be updated to newer ‘better’ versions. She is leaving, for good. Gone.

How does this relate or equate with modern human/cyber-electronic connection? What does it mean or will it mean, or not mean, now or in the near future? What are human emotions and the brain really, and where and when are they most real, most raw?

I do not wish to explore the West’s overdone notion of romantic love. Love isn’t something that can be poured into a keepsake box, carried everywhere, or placed on your bedside table or pillow. Love, or rather meaningful connections do not flourish inside a locked airtight box. Meaningful connections… what are they? Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Eros (of course), Non-invidia or compersion, Agape, and Philautia are at least seven connections. What does Spike Jonze’s film “Her” suggest about electronic wireless intangible connections? Like Samantha, I could vanish from all my distant ‘intangible’ internet friendships because of a very tangible accident. And in reality, as it was in the movie, every book, every story ends and sometimes…many times it could be quite unexpected without any closure — mortal. That’s electronic wireless intangible connection with a thread of humanity.

I wish to always explore the limitlessness of human connection in all of its intense impermanent mental, emotional, or physical forms… whether in the third-person, the first-person, the artificial-person(?), or the beneficiary and wiser sucker with or without Newton’s Third Law. Are there any other better ways?

Page turning…
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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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