Good Morning Ted and Jody:
The trip to Vancouver was uneventful unless you count the fact that we went to the wrong place. When they rescheduled my appointment twice on Friday, they neglected to tell me that it was in an office some 8 miles from where I had my other appointments. I am making satisfactory progress. My lift limit is raised from 5 to 20 pounds. But I am still not to bend, twist or reach too high. Since I am not taking a narcotic for pain, (I never took the narcotic. Ibuprofen worked better the last time I had pain medication than the narcotic, and it seemed to do the trick this time) I can drive. I go back in seven weeks for “a final checkup and release to go back to work.” I figure if I must go back to work after that visit, I might rethink keeping that appointment. (Work, after all, is a four-letter word.)
Yesterday morning I read a blog that echoed what you used to teach Ted, critical thinking. While it is rather long winded, it does a good job of address the consequences of willful ignorance and the willingness of most people to farm out the formation of their views (and passions) to others. His photos are interesting and neat, if you like old cars: https://dispersertracks.com/2017/02/19/elites-intellectuals-reason-questions-and-critical-thinking/ . The regrettable thing is that while he knows what is going on, he is going to bury his head and find ways to minimize the impact on him. I should think the better approach is to try a program of attempting to subtly teach people to think. Better yet, figure out why people are so willing not to use the brains their creator gave them. Then address that issue.
I got up early, as I usually do, and revisited some photos I took on New Year’s Day. The first day of 2017 started foggy and a bit damp. The first photo shows that. An hour or so later it had begun to snow. I did get a massage and during the massage, it continued to snow. After my massage, I took a series of photos one could roughly call, Snow is in the Air. By the time I got home, three hours later, we had accumulated three inches
I see from the weather that my injunctions for you to stay warm have been met with Spring like weather. So, keep staying warm, happy and healthy.
Warmest regards, Ed
016 Alice Confronts the Age of Computers
Fiction in 1455 words by T. Edward Westen, 2017
Alice Beaverton entered the store that advertised ‘Cash for Gold, Diamonds & Guns.’ She walked up to the counter and waited for the clerk to get off the telephone. She had learned about telephones very quickly. People carried them in their pockets and purses. Anytime it made a noise they snatched it out of the pocket and purse and looked at it intently or poked it with a finger and then talked into it. The clerk was using one that was stationary. That is, it was attached to a funny thing on the counter by a curly wire. Finally, the clerk put the telephone down on the funny thing and approached her.
“Good morning, what can we do for you today?” the clerk asked.
Alice opened her hand to show the clerk a solitary diamond ring. “I’d like to sell this.”
The clerk reached out for the ring and moved to a section of counter upon which sat a lamp and a scale. He took a loupe out of his shirt pocket, fitted it in his right eye and looked at the ring and diamond under the lamp. He turned the ring this way and that and finally said, “If I am any judge this is one point five carats and flawless. How much do you want for it?”
Alice held her hand out to retrieve the ring. After the clerk put it in her hand she said, “You are not a judge, for it is two carats. You did not observe the ring is 18K gold. I shall go elsewhere.”
She turned to leave when the clerk said, “You can’t blame a fellow for trying? What about 10 grand?”
Without blinking an eye Alice retorted “15 grand.”
The clerk said, “Done. Whom shall I make the check out to?”
Alice pointed to the sign in the window, “It says cash.”
The clerk replied, “You can’t expect me to have that much cash on hand, now, can you?”
“It’s your sign,” replied Alice. Then thinking for a minute, she asked, can I see one of your checks?”
The clerk turned his check ledger around and pushed it across the counter towards Alice and said, “Look all you want.”
Alice looked very briefly at the ledger and then pointed outside, “That bank is across the street. Go get the money.”
“I’d have to lock up and you couldn’t stay here,” the clerk replied.
“Fine, lock up. I’ll go with you,” Alice said as he headed for the door.
The clerk followed. He put a sign up that indicated the store would be reopened in 20 minutes and locked the door.
When they entered the bank the clerk went to a teller and Alice waited by a tall table that had various slips of paper on it. She watched as the clerk presented something to the teller and then the teller walked away to consult with another woman seated at a table. Both women returned to where the clerk was standing. Alice watched an animated conversation. Finally the clerk came over to her and said, “They can have the money here in an hour or they can open an account for you and deposit it. Either way, they would like to see the rock.”
“Rock?” Alice asked.
“That is just slang for diamond. It is a mineral and a rock you know,” replied the clerk. “Anyway, they would like to see the rock that I’d pay 15 grand for.”
Alice followed the clerk to the counter and opened her had to show the two women the two carat solitary diamond ring.
The first teller said, “What happened honey, the louse run out on you?”
Alice was confused and asked, “I don’t know what you mean? Can you explain louse and ran out.”
The first teller said, “Sorry Honey, I assumed this was an engagement ring and the young man changed his mind.”
Alice blushed, and said, “No nothing like that. This ring is one of several pieces I inherited. I can only wear so many at one time.”
The first teller said, “Gosh, no offense. Would you like to open and account?”
“How do I do that?” asked Alice.
“We will need your full name, Social Security number, driver license, address and sample signatures’” replied the clerk.
Alice said, “Not today, I don’t have all of that with me. I’ll wait for the cash. Actually, I’ll be back in an hour.” She turned to the clerk, “I’ll meet you in your store in a little more than an hour.”
Alice left the bank and as soon as she was outside the stopped a man walking a dog. “Can you help me. I lost my Social Security number and need to get it replaced, where do I go in this city?”
The man said, “You mean you lost your Social Security Card? “
“You are in luck, there is a Social Security Administration office two blocks east,” he said as he pointed.
“Thank you,” Alice said and hurried off in the direction the man had pointed.
At the end of the second block was the Social Security Administration Flied Office. Walking across the street and narrowly being missed by a city bus, she entered. There were two people waiting, so she sat down to wait. One of the women waiting, held up a small piece of paper and said, “You have to take a number,” as she pointed to a machine with something sticking out of it near the door.
Alice got up and pulled on the protruding paper and it came off. She lifted up the small piece of paper for the woman to see and said, “Thank you.”
‘At least there is a place to sit. When I got the birth certificate, I had to stand in line. What ever this Social Security Card is it must be much less important than birth certificates,’ Alice thought.
“106,” a voice called out.
Alice looked around and the two women ahead of her were both sitting talking to someone across a counter. She looked at her piece of paper and it read ‘106.’ Realization hit, “That’s me,” Alice said and stood up. She looked around and a woman seated behind the counter beckoned her to come over.
Alice sat down across from the woman who asked her, “What can we do for you today?”
“I need a Social Security Card,” replied Alice.
“Did you lose yours?” the woman asked.
Alice shook her head no and said, “No, I never had one.”
The woman raised an eyebrow and said, “That is most unusual for a woman your age. We usually give them the children in the first year of their birth. Your parents would have needed one for income tax filings.”
Alice bit her lower lip. Then she said, “My parents died in a fire when I was four months old. My aunt came from China and took me back to raise me there. I stayed with her until she died of old age.” Alice lowered her head and then shook herself. Sitting straight again she said, “Now I am coming home.”
The Social Security Administrator sighed, “Do you have anything to prove who you are?
Alice handed the woman the birth certificate of Silvia Chu from 1978. “My aunt thought to get this before taking me to China.”
“Give me a moment,” the Social Security Administrator said as she rapidly entered information with her keyboard. “You are right, your aunt never got a Social Security number for you. Let’s fix that right now. What is your address?”
“The Hilton Hotel,” Alice said and she pointed in the direction of downtown.
The woman entered more information on her keyboard, looked up, smiled and then hit a single key with a flourish. A printer behind her neatly deposited a thick piece of paper in its tray. The woman picked the paper out of the tray folded it a couple of times and tore two pieces off. Handing one to Alice she said, “Sylvia, this one you need to present to employers, banks and other financial institutions. Please sign the front.” Then she handed the second and said, “This one you keep for your records in case the other one is destroyed or lost, bring it in and we can issue you a duplicate in a matter of minutes. Keep it in a safe place.” She then looked at Alice and said, “Remember, sign the first one, and handed her a pen. Then when you get a permanent address come back and file that with us.”
Alice signed the small stiff paper “Sylvia Chu.” Alice looked at the woman and gave her a broad smile. “Thank you very much.”