myBobLog


Leaving Las Vegas
March 23, 2015, 11:17 am
Filed under: myCulture, myLifestyle

wpid-iu-8-2015-03-23-11-17.jpeg

Leaving Las Vegas is a powerful, yet tasteful portrayal of alcoholism and love. Nicholas Cage plays a businessman who, through the over use of alcohol loses his family and his job. As a self-confessing drunk, he becomes brash and obnoxious. With no friends he heads off to hurl himself into the grandest human-made pit in the world—Las Vegas.

Amide the splendour of bright lights and a soundtrack of music including Sting and including My One and Only Love, we travel with Ben as he discovers a world where he can let go and fall into the pit of gambling, prostitution, drugs and, of course, alcohol. He takes a room in a seedy hotel and wanders his way into a stupor.

Elizabeth Shue plays a prostitute who befriends Ben and she eventually takes him in. Sera and Ben have an unexplainable bond and a non-sexual relationship. She is beautiful, yet showing wear from her life in prostitution, he is middle-aged with thinning wiry hair and gaining a growing gaunt look from not caring for himself and too much alcohol. Drawn closer by love, Sera spends her nights working the streets while Ben travels down his road of destruction. During the day they enjoy short bursts of being together.

While Ben is entirely out of control throughout the movie, Sera is also trapped by her life of prostitution. They accept each other, yet seem to long for each to find their own way out. Ben had instructed Sera, “You can never, ever, ask me to stop drinking.” She replies in agreement “I know.” Yet later she says, “I want you to see a doctor.” “No, no doctor,” replies Ben.

It is difficult to identify what takes a person down particular destructive roads. Ben can’t understand why Sera can care for him and calls her his angel. Someone tells him that, drinking is a way of killing himself; to which he with a smile replies to the man, “Killing myself is a way of drinking.”

I found the movie to be tasteful in showing the deep extensive darkness of a world where most of our society thankfully never venture. In a scene, where Sera is beaten and raped by some young college men out for a thrill in Vegas, we see only enough to understand the painfulness of such an experience. Yet, it is not enough pain for Sera to get away from her slavery to that world.

In depicting alcoholism, there are no stops. Cage plays the battle with stark and shocking realism. I awoke in the morning realizing that, as we came to believe and understand, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

We all live trapped lives to some extent and the deeper pits are always waiting just around the corner for us to fall into. It happens to so many in our society and world. On the merry-go-round and downward spiral, it is difficult to get off. We may reach the point where we think, ‘Stop the world, I want to get off.’

My favourite jazz musician is cornet player Bix Beiderbecke who lived in the 1920s amide the early days of jazz and bathtub gin. His life was one of spiralling into the pit of alcoholism from which he never returned. His music is always clear, inspired, full of energy and life. It stands in striking contrast to his life, never hinting to the true pain he lived with.

Yesterday, I played my cornet in church with the choir. I had never done this before and never played that type of music. It was a challenge and exhausting both physically, mentally and musically. Musically because of the key signatures and the variety of sheet music, or lack of for some songs, ranging from choral arrangements to lyrics and chords, from the seventeenth century to the present.

I think it was physically and mentally challenging because I have not really played much since I was young as a kid. I was a record collector of vintage jazz and swing from the 20s, 30s and 40s. I spent a lot of my time buying records and hanging around jazz.

While living in the US to go to college, I met many musicians. I once took in a fellow who I found in a jazz joint; kicked out of his house and with no place to go. He had been a child prodigy trumpet player who ended up playing in Las Vegas. Because of dentures, he had switched to flugelhorn. He became a regular sitting-in with the band and then became a bartender there. When I would walk in, a drink would immediately land in my hand. He died before his time.

wpid-iu-9-2015-03-23-11-17.jpeg

I bought my cornet from a fellow who I was listening to regularly. He was leaving town for a new opportunity and sold it to me for $100, including a new hard case. It was the top professional cornet from the manufacturer. He is still playing. He informed me that the other owners I also knew well. Two of them have passed before their time.

The history of human existence is littered with the stories of those who fell into a pit and were unable to crawl out. They struggle, become numb, lose traction in life and succumb. They become lost; there is only one way out for them. I fell into that pit. Over thirty years ago, I was lifted out. I know with all surety that the pit is just one step away. Leaving Las Vegas is a realistic and shocking reminder.



Yet another long break, but I’m back again

It has been yet another long while since I added anything here. Now that I am back, I’ll tell you a bit about where I have been.

You may be aware from looking around here or on my other blogs, that I have been working on a book about ‘being human and living in a world of technology—the Technojungle’ called The Future Never Arrives… at least not as expected and it always brings baggage. I have been working on the book for over a year now.

It began as a pretty simple project. I had articles I had written here that seem as if they could be part of a book. So I embarked on the mission of writing a book taking material I had written and building on it. As I got into it, I found that it is a deep sea of technological change out there. It was not long until my book about the Technojungle was looking like a jungle itself.

wpid-technojungleblogheader-2015-03-17-10-07.jpg

I refocused a couple of months ago and decided that some material could be left for a second book, should the first one ever get finished, published and become somewhat successful. I also began a program I now call, ‘write a book in an hour a day.’ It is true. I never moved my book along more efficiently than after I just worked at it for an hour a day.

What does that mean? It is exactly what I am doing now to write this post. I sit down at my computer and type for no less and usually not much more than one hour. No, that does not include research or editing. It means writing. I found I could bang out, when slow, 750 words, and at the most, about 1,400 words. Usually, I can do 1,000 words in one hour.

I do this four times a week and can usually count on a minimum of about 3,500 words. That is around 10 pages. I can get 10 pages of rough text per week. When I discovered this little secret, I realized that a book could be written in less than half a year.

There is more to writing a book though. I have some other activities that I do. As I go about my days, I dictate notes into my iPhone. I also meet once a week with a coach and we discuss ideas, which I record. Then I sit down and transcribe all the recorded notes. This is actually the most time consuming activity. I would like to shorten this process, however, I realize that I have a lot of notes I can draw from in the future. Doing this also probably means that, when I do sit down to write, I not only have somethings to write about, but I am writing about some things I know about. I have thought things through and chewed on them for a while.

So, it does take more than an hour a day. But, it is easy to accumulate information. This is part of what my book is about. We have become very good at creating and accumulating information. This is not what make a book. A book is about taking the accumulation of information and telling a story that other people will find interesting. Hopefully, it will affect, even change their life in some way.

So, when I say that you can write a book in an hour a day, that is the actual writing. Writing is a craft using skills that need to be developed through exercise. The hour a day is the exercise and needs to continue every day. I have talked about the preparation of material through notetaking and discussions with others. Once you have a rough manuscript, the editing process begins. This is a long arduous process that involves other people.

So now the good news and the reason I am now able to write this piece. I have completed my first rough draft of 54,000 words. It is in the editing stage. I am entering some unknown territory now; not that I don’t know about editing, I am just not sure how this is going to pan out for my book. I am expecting that it will take a long time. I will need a thick skin, since it well involve the critiquing of my baby.

Once I have the book edited and ready to be published, I will be ready to enter more new territory; not that I don’t know about publishing, I don’t know what happens once it is laid out for printing. It is not that I don’t know about printing, I am not sure where and how my book will be printed. You see, I have worked in the printing industry and can do the prepress myself. I might even be able to produce an eBook. I can find a printer, I’m sure.

What is really unknown for me is the way the publishing world works today. The preparation work, printing, distribution and sales can be all tied together. I have decided to leave those concerns for when I have a finished, fully edited manuscript ready to go. I guess I am sort of thinking that by the time I get there, some doors will be available and I may have some choices for my next steps.



Help me win a camera—you too could win!
February 17, 2015, 12:32 am
Filed under: B.O.B.s | Tags:

My camera desperately needs upgrading please help by entering yourself to win:

http://froknowsphoto.com/giveaways/froknowsphoto-super-mega-giveaway-extravaganza/?lucky=81008



Jazz videos
November 3, 2014, 10:27 pm
Filed under: myCulture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The other day, I ran across a video I had not seen for years of Billie Holiday on a TV show with a band of the greatest. It is a real classic, but is only part of a full hour-long TV show from 1957. It never occurred to me to go look for the entire show. So, tonight I did and what a treasure. The Holiday part is somewhere in the middle.

It is a great intersection of jazz and blues and the vehicles bring elements of many types of jazz and blues from so many eras going back to the beginnings. There is a heavy leaning on the Kansas City and Chicago styles. I particularly like the way the cameras caught the musicians at their best, both playing and enjoying each other playing and from very artistic angles. Keep in mind, the cameras in those early days were huge bulky things on wheels and shots from above were done with cameras on special cranes. The equipment was not easily moved around for various shots and the cables must have been huge too. It doesn’t get much better than this from 1957.

Note: There are a couple of versions on YouTube. I chose one that has an extra segment on the end.



Halloween—why would someone do this to a child

I was gathering our mail from the mail kiosk at the townhouse complex we live in. As I pulled up, I noticed what looked like parents taking their small children trick or treating. All the children and the parents were dressed up and the townhouse was decorated with the traditional unfriendly decor.

All the attention seemed to be on a small child dressed in a black outfit with tiny yellow ears. I could only see his back. This child was obviously very unhappy and it seemed like the parents were trying to coax the child into the house as they all seemed to be friends. The child would not go. The man who answered the door was dressed as a pirate. He bent down to make a friendly gesture to the child and ease his fears. Then he squatted down to be level with the child. By now, a young girl, slightly older than the scared child, dressed in a blue princess or fairy costume, came out and was rubbing the back of the younger one.

It was a no go for the little one. The pirate man began, one by one, to take off some of his outfit, checking along the way, as if to say, “See, it’s only me.”

As I watched, I began to wonder what sort of memories this poor young child was going to come away with on this Halloween night? Is this really what we want to do to our children? Oh, I’m sure a lot of candy can sugar-coat the experience and all will eventually laugh about it. Really, come on. The frightening experience will be buried and covered in a grave of celebration of evil. But, no memory is completely erased.

I looked for an image to add here, but the overwhelming numbers of evil images made me think twice. Who really can believe in ‘Happy Halloween?’ Can celebrating evil actually be fun?

Think about it!



An $11,000.00 Compromise

From May 2013:

Last week I found out I was attacked by identity theft.

I was doggie sitting for the weekend and was in Safeway to get some milk when I received an automated, not human, call from TD (Toronto Dominion) VISA informing me that they had flagged some unusual transactions on my account and asked if I had made a certain large purchase. When I said, ‘no,’ I was asked to stay on the line, presumably for a real person, or I could call back. A grocery store was not the place to deal with this. When I called back, I discovered that someone had racked up around $11,000.00 in Toronto during three days. I was told that I was not responsible for these charges and that my card had been cancelled. I just got it not long ago, so I was not reliant on it. The charges will remain while they launch an investigation. The girl was very nice and made me feel comfortable that this would not be a huge inconvenience to me. I suppose, in the back of my mind, I knew this was just the start of trouble.

wpid-iu-2014-10-30-17-04.jpeg

One other time, I had another card just canceled out of the blue. Their explanation was that the number of my card fell within a range of numbers that they suspected might have been compromised. Just to be safe, my card was cancelled and I had to wait for a couple of weeks for a new one. This is a good reason to have more than one card, otherwise one would have to resort to cash or some other form of transaction.

Just exactly what compromise really means is a bit unclear to me. Do these thieves get just my card number, or can they get other information? These days, there is so much information out in the abyss of the technojungle. One piece of information can easily be linked to other information. Just with a name and city, one can get addresses and phone numbers. That represents your physical footprint. You also have a digital footprint that can start with your E-mail or your social media links. We should have great concern for privacy and security.

The attack on my identity was not isolated to my VISA card. They tried to open an account with Rogers. Since I already have an account with Rogers they decided to not issue another account and promptly sent out a letter to me. When I called them, I was told to call their fraud department. That department was closed for the day, so I called the next day. I was advised to check with Equifax and TransUnion.

My first call was to Equinox, since I had heard the name before and understood that they had something to do with credit ratings. I entered an endless phone tree. It was completely automated. I could order a copy of my credit rating, get various reports and access a variety of other services. I got frustrated and hung up.

My next call was to TransUnion. I began the same endless journey through the phone tree. At one point, the voice stated, “If this is about fraud, say fraud.” The words had hardly left my lips when a real human voice came on. The heavy accent and poor pronunciation alerted me to the possibility that this person was not in Canada and probably did not have much authority, and that this might actually turn out to be more frustrating than the call I had made to Equifax.

He looked into my account/profile and said that Rogers had made some sort of request and then he asked if I wanted to report the Rogers request as fraud. I said no. Why would I do that? They told me to call TransUnion because of a fraudulent request made to them. We entered a conversation circle during which he must have asked me at least three times if I wanted to report the Rogers request as fraud.

Not far into our conversation and after mis-pronouncing my last name as Grawhome, he decided that he needed to verify some information. “Do you live at XXXX Rygeawood?” I told him that we have moved. He repeated and I insisted that we no longer live at that address and had moved some years ago. He told me I had to have the information updated. OK, I agreed, let’s do it. Not so fast. He informed me that I would need to send a registered letter and $5 to have the information changed.

Wait a minute. I explained that I never engaged them in any service agreement, that the company was keeping information about me without my permission and selling it to corporations and back to the individuals they track and now they want to charge me to have them correct information that they have wrong. I’m sorry, I don’t think that is right. If I had engaged their services and neglected to send in an address change when I moved, as I did with all the other services I was using, I could understand charging me to make a change. I was frustrated and hung up.

It seems like every couple of days we are hearing of breaches in security due to cyber crimes and yet, we are encouraged to do more online and adopt more technology. Wouldn’t this normally fall under the definition of insanity?

If we look carefully at our society, we find that our behaviour might well be explained by an addiction fed by large-scale multinational corporations that literally have no regard for us as humans, but only to forwarding their own agenda that has ‘make money’ at the top of the list. It would also follow that ensuring most of the ‘problems’ associated with a technology should not be publicized so users’ confidence would not be diminished. In other words, don’t tell people what goes wrong, just recoup the costs through higher fees and make sure more people use more credit cards more often so that we (the corporation that is) can make more money and the corporation will grow. Never mind that a large number of customers are never able to pay their balance off and feed the corporation even more through paying interest.

A credit card is a perfect example of technology that has inherent problems that, not only inconvenience people, but end up creating greater costs. To think that I am not responsible for the transaction is somewhat false. If the costs are not recouped from the perpetrator(s) of the crime, then someone has to pay. VISA is not going to cover the costs. They are out to make money. Do they have some sort of insurance? No matter how you look at it, the costs of fraudulent transactions most likely get passed on.

If you pay a fee for your card, then that fee probably goes toward covering losses. The same could probably be said for merchant transactions. Every time you use your credit card, the store pays a fee. Oh, and let’s not forget interest on unpaid balances. If the losses to the credit card company increase due to fraudulent charges, they will most certainly pass the cost on to us. If transaction fees to merchants need to increase, that increase will be reflected in higher prices to consumers.

VISA is not telling me that I don’t have to cover the fraudulent charges directly, I have to cover a portion of all the fraudulent charges on all the credit cards issued by VISA.

Think about it. The fraudulent charges on my VISA card amounted to more than I spend on the card all year. Now how does that work out? This may be the reason cash could be with us for a long time.

We all need to look at protecting ourselves. I don’t know how my credit card was compromised. Nobody has been able to tell me, so I don’t know how to plug the hole. Did somebody hack into a database somewhere? Was there a card reader device of some sort used to read my card when I used it somewhere? What happened?

The card did not have an RFID chip. I keep my chip cards in a protective wallet. Chip cards can be scanned without having to insert them into a machine or tap them on a reader. They can be scanned right from your pocket.

The truth is that this type of crime is becoming so common place that many people in our society just take it for granted. As I talk to people, they all have some sort of story about what happened to them or someone they know. Should we just let this become part of everyday life in the technojungle?

While personal identity theft is a big problem, corporate cyber attacks are a huge problem. If we only knew what really happens out there, we might lose confidence in more that just the banking and financial systems.

Update:

It took many weeks for the charges to be removed from my account. In the meantime, I was charged interest. Finally, I was sent an affidavit to sign stating that the charges had been removed. The problem, they missed six of them. I even noticed that charges were made even after the card had been cancelled.

As the weeks passed, I discovered I did not have enough accounting skills to figure out what they had done and where my account stood. I was on the phone many times. I had been told to list the missed fraudulent charges on the back of the affidavit and sign anyway. I was very reluctant to do that and protested, however, they convinced me to sign anyway.

In the end, I called again and complained that I was not an accountant and had no idea of what they had done, but I would accept the $183 positive balance on my account anyway.

I think I could be quite comfortable going back to using only cash and making transactions in person with, what, a real human being. Nowadays, that would be quite a novel thing.



Composing with Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters

Dave Grohl, an ex(?) punk rocker from the band Nirvana and now of his own band Foo Fighters, set out on a project of discovery and found the interconnectedness of many popular forms of music from blues and jazz to country and rock. He was tremendously affected by New Orleans where he connected with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and partook in a traditional Sunday jazz march through town. To me, it is interesting that a Punk Rocker discovers Jazz.

Watch the 60 Minutes story:

http://www.cbsnews.com/common/video/cbsnews_video.swf

Be sure to watch all the associated videos.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: