Corona Virus Update

Here's another Corona Virus update for all of you guys. I promise, I'll do my best to stay calmer this time around, but it's actually starting to feel real to me now. On top of the fact that the entire states of New York and New Jersey are on lockdown, over 10,000 cases of COVID19 have broken out, in New York City alone! That's just, insane! On top of that, the 2020 Summer Olympics have been officially post poned to take place in the year 2021, and the thing that really hit home for me, was learning this morning post awakening, that the Valley Plazza Mall in Bakersfield, California, has officially closed as of Tuesday, March 24, 2020. I knew it was only a matter of time, before this day came, as the mall isn't an assential service that needs to be open right now while we all do our best to remain isolated and stop the spread of this virus, but the fact that I have a lot of memories of shopping at that mall with my sister, and spending hours in the Apple Store there, just knowing that it's closed indefinitely at this time, is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around at the moment. the mall out where I'm living now, that being, Berkshire Mall, in Lanesborough, Massachusetts, closed down last year in April, for reasons unrelated to COVID19, but perhaps that was a sign of things to come? We didn't know that at that time, but who knows. Target and Regal Cinema Berkshire Mall 10 remained open post the closing of the mall, but I'm pretty certain even those two places are now closed as a result of COVID19, I don't even have to look. I just hope this whole thing passes soon, not just because there are things I want to go do when the weather warms up, but simply, for the future of this country! Business and organizations are going to suffer financially, and it's just, awful! Pretty much, everything I can think of has been stopped as a result of the virus, at the moment, I'm just waiting for all service on Amtrak to come to a screaching holt, and for both, the national NFB and ACB Conventions to be canceled for the summer of 2020, being post poned until the summer of 2021. Everything's going to take me a year longer to complete, and it's just, crazy that we're having to go through this at all! Please, if you're reading this, please, do us all a favor. Stay home, stay isolated, and do your part, in stopping the spread of COVID19. If you don't, our futures of socialization, going to gatherings, attending school, and pretty much, anything you can think of, will be at stake, and forever changed, and who knows who's next on the list to catch this virus. I still have yet to know anybody directly who has been infected with COVID19, but it's only a matter of time, before the wrelm of possibilities, won't be far fetched, and I only hope and pray, that nobody I know, catches this virus. And if you do catch it, I pray you get the medical help you need. I've seen so many reports of people being turned away, simply because they don't have health insurance. It's crazy, and ridiculous that while our country claims to have the best health care possible, when I read posts like that, about how poorly people are being treated, when it's clear they have Corona Virus symptoms, I shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and wonder just how wonderful our health care system, really is. I already hate going to the doctors just for an annual physical, and only go to the doctors when I'm in severe pain, or I'm in a position, where I'm going to need their help to live normally again, such as, being in too much pain to walk for example, and I can give that example as I was in that position once, a long time ago, but I hope and pray that I don't end up a victim of this virus. That's why I'm doing my best, to do my part, by staying indoors, and remaining isolated, until this Corona Virus pandemic, is under control and things start operating like normal again. And well, I believe that's all I have to say for now. Rest assured, this isn't the last you've heard from me, but I hope in another month or two, I'll be able to look back at these posts and say, "Thank goodness that COVID19, is now screwed."

A Quiet, 40th. Birthday Weekend

For starters, I can't believe that I'm old! Yes people, I'm now 40! Can you believe it? I still can't believe it, and I'm the one who's 40. So anyway, how did I end up celebrating this milestone? With the current circumstances of COVID19 going on right now, I'm rather surprised at that, a lovely celebration I ended up having, despite having to stay indoors and isolated. The celebrating over the weekend anyway, as my roommate and I did order out via DoorDash back last Tuesday, for fear of nothing being open by the weekend, and I already talked about that in a prior entry, so won't repeat that here, but as for the actual weekend of my birthday, the fun started late on Friday night. My roommate Celeste did a special show on 98.6 The Mix, the Internet radio station where she broadcasts, where she dedicated that week's edition of Flashback Friday, the program she does, to my birthday. Looking back at requests I submitted through her request page when she broadcasted at The Q Online, she found nearly every request I sent in, between November of 2018 and August of 2019, and played them in chronological order, as much so as she could remember. She even included seasonal requests, like Christmas songs that I either requested during the 2018 holiday season or during the month of July in 2019, when she did Christmas in July on The Grab Bag, which I thought was cool, since I'm one anyway, to play Christmas music, all year round, whether it's Christmas or not. The show wasn't restricted to just those requests I sent in eons ago. I was able to send in requests during the program, and other listeners submitted requests as well. She also did the usual segments where her echo dot participated, and this show was an interesting one, because she demonstrated the ability to create, edit, and remove custom routines you set up in the Alexa app, and even showed off a new routine she created while on air. I had sent in so many requests, that on top of those requests, as well as new stuff that came in, voice breaks, etc. the show ended up lasting a total of 9 hours in length! Celeste and I were tired when it was all said and done, as even I couldn't fall asleep, the music was so good, but we both had a blast, and we'll always have the archive to look back on in years to come. I'm even listening to it via Winamp while I type up this entry, if that's saying anything right there. And if you yourself would like to check out the archive, while it's available on Celeste's podcast page at the time I'm posting this entry, it won't be up there forever due to space limitations at that location, so if it's months or years down the road by the time you read this, if you're interested in having a copy of this archive, please just ask me for it, and I will be happy to share it with you.

While she was on the air, shortly before 4:37 AM Eastern on Saturday, March 21, 2020, which would have been the exact time I was born, as I was born at 1:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time on March 21, 1980, she bought me my birthday present. An iTunes e-gift card for $40.00! As she explained in the little note in the body of the email message, "Here's a dollar for every year you've been alive. Happy Birthday!" I've since added the gift card to my iTunes gift balance, giving me plenty of money to purchase movies and stuff in digital format, as I already had a bunch of money in there, thanks to her Valentine's Day gift of a $200.00 iTunes gift card she purchased for me back in February of this year. After she got off the air shortly before 8:00 AM in the morning, we had some breakfast before passing out. I had some doughnut holes, 2 cherry poptarts, some of my can of pizza flavored Pringles, and some grape juice to drink. Afterwards, we both took a nap, awakening in the afternoon, where I had a snack of a bowl of Froot Loops and a glass of water. Still feeling sleepy, plus it was quite cold that day, as the heater wasn't working, I curled back up in bed, doing another one of my favorite hobbies, that being, sleeping of course, only awakening a couple of times to take care of something on my laptop. I should also point out when I awoke on the afternoon of my birthday to have a snack, I was awakened to a really cool wake up call on the echo dot that lives in the bedroom slash studio. Celeste and I have custom made wake up routines set up on Alexa, and Celeste did a really cool one for waking me up on my birthday. Apparently, I was the captain of Apollo 18, and Lady C was at Mission Control in Houston, giving me the official wake up call that is really given to the actual astronauts out in space, including the local news from earth, and some music, as well as a lovely birthday message. I loved it so much, that I had Celeste help me make a recording of the wake up call to be preserved in our private conversation on WhatsApp, to have forever. Anyway, while I spent the majority of my actual birthday, either listening to Celeste's special radio show for me, or sleeping, I really had some fun the following day.

On Sunday morning, when I realized that Celeste had been passed out for over 12 hours, I had it be my turn to wake her up, with one of my custom made wake up routines for her. I was inspired by a parody of one of my favorite Billy Joel songs that had recently been turned into a parody concerning the Corona Virus, to wake her up to the original by Billy Joel that the parody was based off of, with amessage instructing her to go make us food. She didn't waste any time making us food, she prepared what we would have had for dinner on my actual birthday, had we not slept for so long. I had 2 corndogs, a bowl of barbecue potato chips, and a Coke to drink, while she also had a Coke to drink, along with some strawberries dipped in melted chocolate, and some beef taquitos, originally planning to dip them in cheese sauce, only she took one bite of the cheese sauce, dumping it out because the jar had been in the back of the fridge for over 6 months, making it not taste so good. I'm not a sauce person anyway, but hopefully she learned her lesson, and at least she didn't suffer from food poisoning as a result of that little incident. After the belated dinner, I was in the mood to watch one of my favorite movies of all-times, Apollo 13. However, Celeste hadn't seen it before, and really wanted to watch it in descriptive, which at this time, the only version we've been able to find of that movie with audio description included was on iTunes, so Celeste rented her first movie on iTunes, only costing her a total of $3.99. I tried to get the file to play on her desktop, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get it to play, so in the end, she hooked up her iPhone XR to her desktop computer speakers, and streamed the movie, post getting the descriptive track turned on in the settings for TV under the Settings app on her phone. She enjoyed it very much, and even I got a lot out of the movie that I had missed the other times I had seen it, as that was my first time watching it with descriptive. Some confusion was cleared up for me in terms of what happened in the car on the way to the launch sight, and I better understood what was written on a note that was written in the film, thanks to having the audio description. Celeste even commented how it was nice having audio description when Apollo 13 launched, as it was very visual during that part, so I could see how somebody who's not as familiar with space travel who can't see the screen, might get confused and lost without having the audio description there to help them follow that portion of the movie. It was fun, and I'm glad we got to watch that together.

After the movie ended, I was starting to get hungry, and on Friday, both, Celeste and myself received text messages stating that Liberty Pizza was open for carry out and delivery, to call them directly to place an order. Craving some pizza, I did just that, and they answered. I ordered a medium pepperoni pizza, an order of curly fries, and 2 twenty ounce bottles of Pepsi to drink. Because this was my belated Birthday dinner, my roommate and best friend Celeste not only went down and picked it up, but she paid for it too, which I thought was sweet. Even her mom has been very understanding in this difficult time. She offered to have us come over for a birthday celebration at her house, but understood when Celeste explained to her that I wanted to stay home and isolated, decreasing my chances of catching the Corona Virus, and Celeste's mom even offered to pay for our dinner. We had enough money on us at the time to pay for it, so to keep her safe, as she's of the age with the highest fatality rate when it comes to catching this disease, Celeste and her mom worked it out to have her mom pay her back later on when things calm down, and any type of birthday celebration I'm going to do with her entire family, has also been post poned until things calm down as well. Anyway, our dinner from Liberty Pizza was delicious, and I couldn't have asked for a better ending to a quiet birthday weekend. I then passed out early that evening, not awakening until Monday morning, and as I sit here, remaining in isolation, I can at least look back on my birthday weekend, with a smile on my face. Thank you Celeste for making it so special, in tough times like this, she knows how to make me smile, and for that, I'm grateful. Now I hope and pray that if we continue to remain isolated, I can be around to turn 41 next year, but perhaps Celeste and I will be able to go out and do something special outside our tiny mansion next year on my special day. Only time will tell, but for now, I'll be glad I made it to age 40, and continue doing what I've always done, with that being, living my life, one day at a time.

Corona Virus, Corona Virus, Corona Virus All Day Long

Corona virus, Corona virus, Corona virus all day long.
The world has a virus, tell everybody so long.
We're screwed!
We're screwed!
Virus virus virus. Blah blah blah.
Virus, virus, virus, virus, virus oh yeah.

Okay, I was quoting and doing a bit of a parody of an old dectalk song that my buddy Patrick from New York wrote years ago, but let's face it, the Corona Virus, is going to destroy us all! Okay, so let me explain. If you made it through my long entry I recently posted concerning what I've been up to since I last wrote in this thing since May of 2017, you may have noticed I was sounding uncertain of events in the current year, like would I ever get to visit friends in Virginia, or ever see a baseball game again, even just the World Series on TV. Well, at the moment, things are looking pretty grim. It all started back in late December of 2019, early January of this year, when an outbreak of a disease known as the Corona Virus, or COVID19, broke out in China. Apparently, it's transmitted by animals, and now that it's in humans, nobody knows how to stop it. The disease then spread to Italy, and it's now spread across the entire world, and it's currently baring down on us in the United States, and even up to the north of us in Canada. However, the scary thing about this virus, is because it's only in humans for the first time, doctors aren't sure how to cure it, and the incubation period for this virus is 2 weeks, which means, you'll have it for that long and not know you have it, as it takes 2 weeks for symptoms to appear.

To make matters worse, the media isn't helping, claiming everybody is going to die from this disease, and to help decrease the spread of this virus, everybody has been required to stay home, and gatherings of 10 or more people are not allowed. There's no sports of any kind on TV right now, nor are there any games going on that people can attend in person. The NBA, NHL, and other sporting teams that still have a couple of months to go have all ended their seasons early, and the Kentucky Derby has been canceled, as well as the Eurovision music competition. MLB has delayed their season's start date to mid May, and musicians have canceled concerts and tours. Broadway is dark, Disney Land and Disney World are closed, and no restaurant is allowed to seat people, only takeout and delivery is allowed. Bars are closed, as well as movie theaters, malls, and practically any place where crowds gather, and schools, some of them extended their spring breaks for a couple of weeks, while schools in the states of Kansas and California, are shutting down for the remainder of the school year, not reopening until next fall. Everybody has been advised to do the most cringeworthy phrase known to man, "Social distancing." Girr piss, I hate that phrase with a passion! And while this is all happening, I still hear traffic on the street out my window, and I went grocery shopping the other day, where the store was so packed, you'd think it was Christmas Eve or the day before Thanksgiving or something! And forget about going to Canada, the Canadian border has been closed to people from outside the country who aren't citizens, wishing to visit there.

Now, I understand why all of this lockdown and social distancing is happening, but I don't understand how it's going to slow down the spread of the virus. I mean, people already have it. It only takes one person going to the store, and unless they live by themselves, they could transmit it to their roommates and other family members, without even knowing it for a couple of weeks! Yeah sure, even if we wash our hands as instructed, and avoid hand shakes, the darn virus isn't even transmitted through the skin, one must cough on another to transmit it. And if we're suppose to be decreasing the crowds, then we should close grocery stores too, as surely that crowd I saw there the other day, was way more than 100 people, let alone 10. One of the stores in my area has given an hour dedicated for senior citizens to do their shopping, since they're one of the groups most severely effected by this virus, with a higher fatality rate, but again, what are the odds that somebody doesn't have this virus already?

How are kids going to do with 6 months of summer vacation? Sure, they might enjoy it, until next school year, when they're having trouble keeping up in class. What about kids who live in abusive homes, who can't get away to school where they felt safe? And the homeless, they have no place to go. With businesses closed, those people are going to lose money, even in the sports industry, nobody is getting paid. And then there are friends of mine who work for the IRS, who are still having to go to work, despite working in crowded buildings, nor are their jobs assential to stopping the spread of Corona virus. The only people who should be working right now, are the medical people at hospitals, the Police, Fire Department, and anybody who's going to make sure we're kept safe out of this virus's harm's way, assuming such a thing is possible.

There's no church, no nothing! And I've received so many emails from Uber, Spectrum, my electricity provider of Eversource, and other such things claiming that our services won't be disrupted, but that they're taking precautions as a result of the concerns over this virus. Hello people, we're not concerned over this virus, we're fearing it! We're so afraid it's going to kill us all, that we're stopping practically everything under the sun, as if practically nothing exists anymore. Sure, we have plenty of things to keep us entertained on the Internet, and there's things like Facetime and Teamtalk to talk to our friends, but my roommate is unable to get takeout from her favorite restaurant, Flavours of Malaysia, and Liberty Pizza, which can barely seat 6 people comfortably in the restaurant, and where most people opt to get their orders delivered or do carry out, has closed as well! Just, Girr piss! I hate this!

And while at this moment, I'm fine with the lockdown, because it's still very much winter where I am at the moment, only in the mid 30's to mid 40's today temperature wise, what's going to happen in a couple of months when the weather warms up? Will there be a baseball season? I have friends in Canada I want to visit, will I even get to go, or attempt going to visit them, even if I get in via help from my roommate, who has a passport? See previous entry and you'll better understand why I phrase it like that. And what about local events in Pittsfield? Will Third Thursday happen? Will there be a 4th. of July parade? And will there be concerts at Tanglewood? I'm worried that my summer is going to be ruined before it even has a chance to start, all because we're fearing a virus that has killed less than 10% of the total population in this entire country.

I did hear recently that China is finally getting things under control, and they're slowly getting back to normal, but even that took roughly 3 months to reach. Will it take us that long to get back to normal? I certainly hope by May, I'll see hope that my summer won't be as blah and boring as my winter was, but you bet, if there's no hope by then, I'll be back with another rant, possibly much uglier than what I'm posting here, but yeah, it's awful!

Due to all of these closings, my roommate and I celebrated my 40th. birthday early by treating ourselves to lunch from DoorDash on Tuesday, my roommate settled for something from Panera Bread since Flavours was closed, while I opted for lunch from McDonalds, getting a 20 piece chicken nuggets, a large French fry, a large Coke, and an apple pie for dessert, and boy, you bet I made sure to enjoy every last bite of that meal, because I'm pretty sure that's the last meal I'll be eating out, for a very long time. Luckily, we stocked up on over 2 weeks of groceries, so we're good there, but even the stores have been running out of stuff. Just yesterday, Celeste's mom found us a 12 pack of toilet paper, after not seeing toilet paper on the shelves for over a week!

And if this virus is so contageous and deadly, how come nobody I know has the virus yet? I'm hoping nobody I know does catch this virus, but how long will that be? In some respect, I'd like for somebody I know to catch it, just so I can really get a good idea what this virus entails, how severely ill they get, and how long it takes to get over the virus, or are they stuck with it forever. And I'm really really hoping, that come summer time, I'll be able to watch sports again, I'll be able to travel again, and just, be able to live life, without being reduced to what I have at home. Not that I don't have plenty to keep me entertained at home, I have most of the streaming platforms, as well as everything Spectrum has to offer, including the movie channels. I have plenty of music to listen to, and Internet radio shows aren't going anywhere. However, I can't get my Liberty Pizza, and I want my pizza and one of their good burgers and fries from down stairs dang it!

Yeah, can't you see I'm piss about this Corona virus thing? Well, I am, and I just want this stupid virus, to go the Hell away!

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say for now. Assuming I don't end up catching the Corona virus and end up dying from it, I'll come back to post another entry, someday. For now, as much as you may hate it, wash your hands and stay home, so we can hopefully, stop the spread of this virus, and I can watch baseball and go on adventures again.
  • Current Music
    Billie Jean by Michael Jackson

A Long, Overdue Update

Wow! Has it really, been that long? I'll give you the short version of that answer and say, yes, it has! I was recently looking back at my journal, not only amazed that this platform still exists, but the fact that I haven't written anything in here since May of 2017, is something! I have nothing but time on my hands, and the reasoning behind that, I'll talk about in more detail in a separate entry, as that's something I want to rant about on its own, but for now, let's take a trip back in time, and catch you up, in the best way I know, of what's happened with me since I last wrote in this thing. For starters, that issue I last wrote about in here, concerning T-Mobile, has long since been fixed, but don't ask me how it got fixed, or when it happened, because that was nearly three years ago, it's fixed now, and that's all that matters. As for what happened to me throughout the remainder of 2017, let's see... During the summer, I attended my second ACB convention in Reno, Nevada, but my fifth ACB convention overall. Once again, I stayed at The Nugget Hotel, one of my favorite hotels in this country, and had a really good time. Later on in 2017, exactly one year to the date of when I traveled in October of 2016, I took another trip to San Diego, where I visited my brother, and took another trip to the Mexican border. Looking back at my LJ entries, I see I never wrote about either one of those adventures in here, so I'll briefly explain both of them in a nutshell. One of those trips, I went with my brother and his girlfriend to a wedding they were attending. I have videos of this on my Facebook, but to put it simply, we made it there for the reception, and I learned just how loud my niece could scream, as she was barely a year old at this event. We crossed back over into the U.S. shortly after 1 in the morning, since the place we had hoped to stay overnight fell through, but it was a fun evening spent in another country regardless. My other trip to Mexico was my one and only solo trip to date, because nobody was available to accompany me on the adventure. I took the Blue Line on the San Diego Trolly, to the Tijuana entrence. It was interesting because they have announcements in both, English and Spanish as you approach the border, to let citizens of both nations, know that they're getting close. I got off there, and stopped off at the McDonalds that's just 10 feet from the border. After getting a bite of a 10 piece chicken nuggets, medium fries, and a large Coke, I dared to do the impossible, as I didn't have a passport at the time, and still don't to this day. I walked up to the Mexican border, and went through. Of course, I did get a long lecture from the officer there, but he let me through, and I had a good time. I ate in Mexico at their Carls Junior, and still have the Mexican pesos that I got back in exchange for paying for my meal with a ten dollar bill, since I didn't have an opportunity to go purchase Mexican currency, since I wasn't sure if I was going to make it into the country or not, and on my trip back into the U.S. they let me bypass the line entirely, and I made it home to see one of the last World Series games that season. The end of 2017 was mostly uneventful, other than the shocking sad passings of 2 friends of mine. The first, being Toonhead, who died of cardiac arrest on 10/29/17. I was talking to one of his roommates shortly after his death, and wasn't sure what to think for a while. It was pretty sad what happened to him, especially since I came close to getting to meet him back in 2015, but sadly, had to cancel my trip due to an expired ID. If that wasn't enough, roughly a month later, on 11/17/17, we lost another member of the blind community who was also very much a geek like myself, Rich Cavalaro, who died of complications of Pneumonia. I wasn't nearly as torn up about this death as I was over toonhead, but a good buddy of mine from Long Island, New York was quite crushed by his passing, as they had been good friends for many years, and I remember hearing him on a few of his radio shows. Even freakier? Both, Rich and Toonhead died in Richmand, Virginia, which tells me if I ever make it there, I'd better be careful, and make sure I don't end up needing to be admitted to the hospital in that city. As for everything else, again, nothing all that eventful to wrap up 2017, other than having the one Thanksgiving dinner I'll ever have outside. I spent it with my friend Michelle and her army of 50 people in Palmdale, on what had to be the warmest Thanksgiving day to date, with the weather a bomby 82 degrees outside! I'm not kidding! It was indeed, that warm that day, and getting to eat Thanksgiving dinner outside, is something, I'll never forget, as we usually only experience temperatures reaching a high of 60 at that time of year. Christmas was another quiet one at my sister's in Bakersfield, as I flipped through the radio dial on my Chinese radio, checking out what stations were playing Christmas music, and then, comes 2018.

So another year starts, and I hope to get to Florida early on. Sadly, the timing wasn't good for the friends I hoped to visit down there, so had to push that trip back. I did get to attend my second air show in March of that year, and in July, I went to Reno again, but not for a convention, rather, to visit my friend who had moved there from Oregan sometime prior. We spent two weeks together, and had a blast. I then returned back to Bakersfield to my sister's, where things would start to get, let's simply put it, interesting. I guess it was on August 10, 2018, when I was up early in the morning, and saw that one of my friends on Twitter was doing a radio show, so decided to listen and talk to them on Teamtalk. Little did I know it would be this friend, who would change my life forever, but more on that later. A couple of days later, I needed some help taking a picture of my photo ID to get something approved online, and had no way of doing it. My sister was out of town for the weekend, so reached out on Twitter for any advice. It was this particular friend who referred me to Aira, which to put it simply, is Be My Eyes on steroids, and I got my own plan, which would remain intact for the next 6 months. This friend and I started talking over Facetime, WhatsApp, and even shared a Dropbox folder, where she sent me every show archive, both of her own Internet radio shows, and other shows she had collected over the years, totaling 255 gigs in size! Like, wow! I've never seen such a large collection of Internet radio archives, in my entire life! However, while this was all fun and games, I was still itching to go visit friends in Florida. I got in touch with them again, and it looked like September was going to work out. Little did I know that this could turn into a huge transitional point in my life.

While in 2009, I flew to Florida, this time, I decided to take Amtrak to make the trip, riding the Southwest Chief on the first leg of the journey, getting me from Bakersfield, California to Chicago, Illinois, and then, changing trains in Chicago, where I'd head to Washington D.C. and then, change again, to complete the final leg of the journey to Florida. Once in Florida, I took a bus to my final destination, and it was quite the trip! I had fun checking out signal coverage on Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, which I had both carriers at this time, on iPhone 8+'s, and I now better see why Verizon is my main carrier. Even in some of the weakest spots on my cross country trip, Verizon worked better than T-Mobile, proving how reliable their network is. The only downside about the trip would have to be, due to delays, I missed my connection in D.C. having to wait there for 6 hours. Had I known that was going to happen ahead of time, I could have arranged to at the very least, go do a bit of sight seeing in our nation's capital, but oh well. Hopefully, that's something I'll get to do eventually, now that I'm more or less, permanently on the East coast, but again, that will all depend, and again, that's coming in a separate post. So I get to Florida, and visit 2 friends, over a 6 week period. My first week there was spent with my friend Vicky, and her husband Ricky. It was here, I got to play with Amazon Alexa devices. Now, I had seen one at a house my brother was rennovating, but because it wasn't his, I didn't really get to play with it. At Vicky's though, I got to play with this one, and it was really cool! One of the coolest things I remember doing with it, was playing a game called Eighties Letters, where you have to name artists that were popular in the 1980's, and you can't name off anything that Alexa has already said. It is fun, but it made me realize just how little I know my artists, as much as I love music from that time period. I introduced my friend who referred me to Aira to this game, and she absolutely loved it! So much so, that she would be buying her first Amazon Echo device at the end of the year, shortly after Christmas. Aside from playing with Alexa devices, I took my first boat ride, which Vicky even got to steer the boat part of the time, and despite being totally blind, she didn't do a half bad job, if I'm still alive to tell the tail today, and I also attended a gathering put on by her church. If that wasn't enough fun, I spent the next 5 weeks with my friend Kira, who had moved to Florida earlier that year, along with her fiance and 2 daughters. I always have fun with Kira, as she's so sweet, but I'd have to say my highlight of this portion of the trip, was getting to go to the beach. Unlike in California, where the ocean water is freezing, the ocean in Florida is warm, feeling like bath water as it hit my bare feet. I was sorry we didn't get to stay at the beach longer, as I could have enjoyed that all day! We also witnessed a scinario where the power went out, but only on one half of the street, based on observations we discovered while driving around, and discovering that while we had no power at Kira's place, people across the street, had perfect working electricity. However, my time in Florida would soon come to an end, come mid October, as I'd head north, to New York, and then, to Massachusetts.

So we'll start, with the trip to New York. My buddy Patrick lives there with his girlfriend and her family, so I flew to New York JFK International Airport on the morning of Friday, October 19, 2018, though not without having to take a detour to get to the airport because of an accident that caused the bridge in Tampa, Florida to collapse. Thankfully, I made it just minutes before my flight departed, just barely making it in time. While in flight, I played with my radios, seeing what I could pick up from 30,000 feet in the air. I know, I know, they advise against such activity, but obviously, I made it to my final destination, and we didn't crash, or else, I wouldn't be here right now, telling you all about it. Boy was I in for a surprise when I got to New York City though. For starters, while it was in the 80's in Florida when I left, it was 40 degrees cooler in New York when I arrived, making me glad I was wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and brought my jacket, because it was quite chilly! The second thing I noticed, was how big the terminal I came into at JFK was. It was huge! Put it this way, it took me a good 20 minutes to get from my gate, to the other end of the terminal! Now that's something! If the ACB ever wants to hold their convention in New York City, I'm not kidding, there'd be enough room to host it in JFK International Airport, it's that big. Feeling hungry, I did grab me a bite to eat, consisting of a burger, and took my first cab in New York to Patrick's girlfriend's office on Long Island. I had a little bit of trouble communicating with the cab driver at first, but he did get me there, and after that, I'd spend the next 5 days, in the city, that never sleeps.

Sadly though, I didn't get to do any sight seeing, because the people I was staying with, didn't have time to do such things, but I did have fun, geeking out with Patrick, playing with his equipment, and getting to be a guest on his weekly radio show, Things and Stuff, where I guess the question of the day was, "What does the cough button do?" If interested, I do have the archive, if anybody's interested in listening to it. I also only got to spend 5 days there, because of other stuff going on that was kind of personal, so won't get into that here, since it had to do with the family I was staying with. I was hoping to go visit my friend on Long Island, the one who had lost a good friend a year earlier, mentioned earlier in this post, but he got sick, so had to scrub that mission all-together. Hopefully, I'll eventually get to visit him on Long Island, but at the moment, that has yet, to be determined. Getting out of New York City was interesting, after I learndd of the history my friend's family witnessed, from seeing the Twin towers collapse from their window back on 9/11/01, to having a plane crash 2 blocks away from their house, in November of that year, I then saw to leaving bright and early on the morning of Wednesday, October 24, 2018, where I took a cab, followed by 2 fairies, followed by an Uber from 34th. Street to Pen Station, and then, an Amtrak train to Newhaven, Connecticut, where I transferred to another train, that took me to Springfield, Massachusetts, where I had a layover of 3 hours, allowing me to get a bite to eat at Subway, until I took my final leg of the journey on the Lakeshore Limited to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where at that time, I was only going to spend a week-and-a-half with my friend who lives out in these parts. This was the same friend who referred me to Aira. She use to have a journal on this platform, known by the name of celrock, only that journal was deleted back in 2014, so for the remainder of this entry, I'll refer to her by her real name, Celeste, which I'm sure she won't mind.

When I found out I'd be coming to visit as early as 10/24/18, she went out to the store the day before I arrived, and stocked up on food I'd like to eat. We had a great time together, as she not only helped me get the archives I had received from her organized on my laptop, yep, the same laptop I talked about in here back in April of 2017, which, I should mention, it still works as good today as it did the day it came out of the box. Anyway, she helped me get those archives organized on my laptop, which then went up to OneDrive, the account I have through my old college, as well as giving me her entire music collection, as well as the tools for broadcasting again, such as Station Playlist Studio, and the associated JAWS scripts for making it accessible. I got to be on one of her radio shows, as at that time, she broadcasted on Friday mornings on The Q Online, which, I didn't realize was still around after all of these years. We watched the 2018 World Series together, which featured The Dodgers and Redsox, and included the longest game in World Series history, totaling 7-and-a-half hours and 18 innings, not ending until after 3:00 AM on Saturday morning, and I have digital copies of several movies of her's on DVD, including all 7 Harry Potter movies, and the complete TV series of Full House in iso format. I also met her parents and her nephew, who live locally in town, her parents living only 3 miles away in an upper part of town, while Celeste lives in downtown Pittsfield, just a couple of blocks away from the transportation center, where local bus service, and services on Greyhound, Peter Pan, which is a more state wide bus service like Greyhound, and Amtrak come through. I attended one of her nephew's swimming lessons, and got to see how Aira Live works, as she had an agent describe the lesson to her, while I listened to the feed through my Aira app, without having to use up any minutes, which was really cool! Then, at Halloween, I accompanied Celeste to her family's place, where we passed out candy to the trick or treaters, and stayed to have a bite of chilly for dinner. Then, on the same day I was a guest on her Internet radio show, back on 11/2/18, I also attended a concert her father was playing flute in at the Colonial theater, a local theater where live performances take place. The concert was awesome, featuring both, The Eagle's Big Band and The Eagle's Concert Band, and if interested in checking out that concert, I recorded it in 2 parts and put it up on my youtube channel. We then went out to dinner at Patrick's Pub afterwards, and no, it's not owned by my friend in New York, but despite that, the food was very good. I know Celeste had some kind of salmon dish, I'm pretty sure I had a burger or something. Also while visiting her, I got to eat pizza from Liberty Pizza, which is literally, downstairs from her apartment building, on the corner of the block where she lives.

However, while I thought I'd be off on my next adventure come early November of 2018, Mother Nature had other plans. We got bad weather on the day I was suppose to leave, and due to other circumstances beyond my control at the time, I got my first taste of seeing just how generous, Celeste really is. She let me stay with her for as long as I wanted, and so, that's what I did. We celebrated Thanksgiving, her birthday in December, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day of 2019, and my 39th. birthday together. To sum up all of these events in a nutshell, let's see... I experienced my coldest Thanksgiving to date, with it being 12 degrees outside, and liking everything at the dinner other than a couple of the appetizers and salad, getting an entire pumpkin pie to myself because nobody else was interested in it. At her birthday, I met her local girlfriends, Krystal and Kerry, and we went to see Wreck-It Ralph II, Ralph Breaks the Internet, followed by pizza for dinner at this place called Vivaldi's Pizza Ria. At Christmas, I introduced Celeste to my tradition of listening to Christmas music on terrestrial radio, checking out what this area had to offer. That year, I settled on WTBR, 87.9 FM, a station run out of one of the local high schools around here, and on Christmas day, I received a USB headset from Celeste that had been recommended to me by another Internet radio buddy earlier that month, and her parents gave me a winter coat, hat and gloves, as well as an iTunes gift card. I was also introduced to Little Debbie's Christmas tree cakes, liking the vinilla ones of course, not being able to get enough of them, while Celeste likes the chocolate ones, and we celebrated New Years, by watching Rockin' New Years Eve and ordering out from Liberty Pizza. Our Valentine's Day was quiet, though I did have my fair share of conversation hearts, and to celebrate my 39th. birthday in March, I awoke to a baseball game on TV, being played in all places, Japan! Celeste's mom then took us out to lunch at another pizza place they like called Arizona Pizza, where I got a pizza and some fries. We were then suppose to go see a movie I had been wanting to see called Wonder Park, but sadly, the movie theater and associated mall where it was located, was closed down due to water damage. Little did I know, that my trip to that mall back in December to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, would be my last trip to that mall, before it closed down for good, as it did close down for good, with the exceptions of Target and the movie theater remaining open, the rest of it closed in April of 2019, and hasn't opened up since, remaining closed indefinitely. Also during my extended stay in Pittsfield, I left my own Aira plan in February of that year, and started sharing minutes with Celeste, saw to getting the highest package that Spectrum has to offer, getting Celeste all of the movie channels, and the highest Internet they were offering at the time, as well as adding a third mobile carrier to the 2 I already had, getting on her Sprint plan, with an iPhone 10SMax. She also introduced me to one of her favorite TV shows, The Loud House on Nickelodeon, while I introduced her to a great tool for backing up your files online called Backblaze, adding her to my account, and while staying there and for the couple of weeks post returning out west, I brought my radio show, Monty's Grab Bag back to the Internet radio tubes, broadcasting on The Q Online on Saturday afternoons from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern. I did 18 episodes while in Pittsfield, and my final 2 episodes in Bakersfield, but quit after that, due to lack of listener interaction, and a lack of teamwork from the staff at the station. Internet radio is nothing like it was back in the days when I use to broadcast at ACB Radio Interactive, but that's a rant I'll save for another day. I did receive a $15.00 iTunes gift card from Celeste for my 39th. birthday, and a month prior to that, after checking out Celeste's Amazon Echo that she bought with money from her uncle after Christmas, and seeing that you could call both, telephones and other people with Amazon devices on it, as well as drop in on people who gave you permission to do so, acting kind of like the old, auto answer feature with Skype, I decided I'd get my own Amazon Echo device. At the time, Celeste had the Amazon Echo 2nd. Generation in her living room, so I got me the Amazon Echo Dot, 3rd. Generation, and put it into the bedroom where I was sleeping at the time, that being, Celeste's bedroom, since she only has one bedroom at her apartment. While things went pretty well for a while, other than her ancient radiator heaters not always working, being thankful for blankets to bury under on days when it got wicked cold, such as the coldest day to date that year, reaching a low of -11 degrees outside, back on Martin Luther King Day in January of 2019, and experiencing water logged carpet in the bedroom, family drama started to break out in late March shortly after my birthday. Without getting into too much detail, let's just say, that I didn't wish to make the situation worse by remaining present. Luckily, the weather was starting to slightly warm up come April, averaging in the 50's, so on 4/12/19, I packed my bags and headed back west, taking a combination of the Lakeshore Limited and Southwest Chief on Amtrak, from Massachusetts, back to California, at that time, not ever planning to return to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, ever again, little did I know how much that would change later on that year.

I got into L.A. Union Station at around 7:30 AM Pacific time on the morning of Monday, April 15, 2019, and then got on to Metro Link, where I headed up to Palmdale to visit some friends for a couple of days, before heading back to Bakersfield, where I'd spend the next nearly 5 months at my sister's. Before leaving Pittsfield, Celeste did sell me her old iPad Air which she was no longer using, so I gave it to my sister as a nice surprise, and she enjoyed it, very much! Sadly though, while I had escaped the family drama Celeste was going through, I faced other problems of my own, which are pretty personal, so won't go into detail about them here, but it did impact my summer in a negative way. Despite this though, Celeste and I continued to remain friends, talking most days on this chat line I discovered in mid May that pays you if you build up enough minutes in your room. Over the course of the summer months, while I didn't get to attend Field Day in 2019, I did treat myself to Taco Bell that night, trying out a new food delivery service for the first time called DoorDash. It took a little bit for my order to be delivered, but I received it warm, with no errors, so highly recommend you give this service a try if you haven't already. I was so pleased, that I even referred Celeste to the service, and while it would take her 4 months to finally order from them, it did result in my eventually, ordering my cheapest order from McDonalds ever, only costing me a total of 98 cents! Like, woe! Without my credit, I don't believe an order from McDonalds has been that cheap since the 1960's! Other things I did over the summer, was continue to listen to various Internet radio shows I like to listen to throughout the week, as well as Celeste's radio show on Friday mornings, as well as a new one she did on Saturdays for a while called The Grab Bag, taking the place of the show I did, where she incorperated the use of the Amazon Echo devices, as she got a good deal from Amazon, allowing her to get her very own Amazon Echo Dot 3rd. Generation to put in place of my dot in the bedroom slash studio after I left. On Independence Day, I listened to the 4th. of July parade in Pittsfield, MA through the Internet streaming feed of WTBR, as well as experienced an earthquake that day, that had its center in Richcrest, California, but could be felt in Bakersfield, just enough to notice it. Nothing like what happened the following day, shaking so much, that the aftershock freaked my sister out tramendously, and while Celeste was gone celebrating Independence Day with her family in the evening, with the ability to drop in on her Amazon device in the living room, I asked her to leave the television on, and using the Spectrum app remotely on my phone, I was able to watch a baseball game on the upper 700 channels, as I had ordered Extra Innings before I left to go back west in April, not realizing at the time I'd be leaving so soon. Thank goodness she gave me this option, because you can't watch those channels in the app, and local games in the coverage area are blacked out, so in her case, she couldn't watch Redsox games. Again, another rant I'll go on some other time, assuming I ever get to see another baseball game again, something that will be discussed in the post to follow this one. As for other things I did, in mid July, I got to listen to the mission control to astronauts feed in real time of Apollo 11, just as it was 50 years ago. Celeste even listened to it with me, and even streamed it from her computer speakers tuned into it on the Apollo 11 in Real Time site or on Youtube via telephone to the little chat room we had at the time, which was really neet when I was banished to my sister's bedroom for much of the time, not having to be in her way, using my laptop at her dining room table to listen. Only thing I'm a bit girr pissed about, is sleeping through Lunar Orbit Day on the third full day in space, fourth day of the 9 day mission, but I made up for it later on, when listening to a podcast, which I'll talk about later on in this entry. Despite my boring summer, checking out Apollo 11 in real time, and getting to hear Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldron walk on the moon, just as it happened, 50 years ago, lifted the space nerd spirits in me, and I turned Celeste on to space a little bit, as shortly after that, I introduced her to one of my favorite documentaries to date, Moon Shot, which is available on Youtube if interested. I use to own it on video cassette, if that tells you how old it is, but to put it simply, it covers the entire space program, from its start, all the way through the Apollo missions, and talks in great detail what was involved in those missions, and getting NASA started. Come August, I went to the Plazza Valley Mall in Bakersfield, on the most crowded day to date, because it was the day before school started. I think I even posted a short recording on my Youtube channel with my Sprint phone of the stereo effect of how crowded that mall sounded, being in the Apple Store at the time, and my god, you could barely hear me speak in that recording it was so crowded. Just go check it out for yourself and you'll see what I mean. Later on that month, I took a trip to visit my friend in Reno, Nevada, though that trip ended up lasting shorter than I had ever expected, and it almost didn't happen at all, when I missed my first connecting train from Sacramento, California, to Reno, Nevada. I was able to catch another train a couple of hours later, but my trip only lasted 36 hours in total. While that was a bit disappointing, I did get to stay at The Nugget, and eat at Rosie's Cafe, so not all is doom and gloom, though it sure would reach that peak not longer after returning to Bakersfield.

While I was away in Reno, my sister did get Internet at her place through Spectrum, which I thought was awesome, no longer having to rely on hotspot, which I had been doing up to this point, and out of the 3 carriers I had at the time, at my sister's place, Verizon Wireless works the best, with Sprint coming in second, and T-Mobile coming in third, only working well at nighttime. Yeah, pretty blah for a geek like myself, but I'd soon be leaving that place for good. Come September, shortly after Labor Day, my sister did some things that, while she's done them before, she reached an all-time low in her acts, so much so, that I truly saw just how generous Celeste was. She didn't have to do this, but she quickly saw to getting me out of that situation, when nobody else would help me out, desperately wanting me to come back to her neck of the woods. Eventually, I did get out of there, once I had my new debit card, as I had recently changed banks because I was displeased with the accessibility of the IOS app for the bank I was currently using, and was still waiting for my debit card to come in the mail. As soon as it arrived though, I packed my bags, never to return to my sister's place, ever again. One of my local friends took me down to the train station, where I caught the bus, which got rerouted to Barsto, because the bus to L.A. was delayed. I then arrived in Barsto, with just enough time to grab me a bite to eat at McDonalds, before getting on board the Southwest Chief once again, to take that long hull journey to Chicago. However, I decided to take a detour, stopping off in Ohio to visit some friends on the way. Turns out in the end, this was a good thing, since Celeste had some stuff going on at the time, including grieving over the loss of a long-time friend of her's, so in the end, it all worked out for the best. I got to Cleveland, taking an Uber over from the train station to the bus station, and then taking Greyhound to Ackrin, where I visited my friend Shane through the weekend. At his place, I added him to my Backblaze, as well as checked out Google Home devices for the first time. While they can't do nearly as much as the Amazon Alexa devices, and because I was stationed in the living room, I didn't have nearly as much freedom to play with them, the Google Home Max, which is this huge speaker, produces some of the best sound I've ever heard! Someday, if I ever get a bigger place, I'd so like to get myself a Google Home Max, just to be able to listen to music on such awesome speakers. I also ordered my largest order from McDonalds, consisting of a Big Mac, a 10 piece chicken nuggets, a large fry, and 2 apple pies, along with a large Coke to drink, being in disbelief I finished that entire order. The following day, Shane and the person in his crew who is their designated driver, drove me down to Youngstown, Ohio, where I visited another friend of mine, Jo for the next week-and-a-half. It was fun, but between her being busy with school, her on campus job, and taking care of her 2-year-old daughter, I didn't get nearly as much downtime to hang out with her as I had hoped. I did get to enjoy some pizza from Little Ceasers, as well as trying this restaurant in her area called Oh Charlies, which was awesome, so the trip wasn't a total loss. Come early October, when I had my money for the month, I saw to finishing my journey, getting to where I'd hibernate for another winter, but first, I had to have my biggest adventure to date. Oh, but before I go, I'll let you know that in the places where I was stationed in Ohio, once again, Verizon Wireless rules supreme in best coverage, while Sprint and T-Mobile were, okay. There, now that the geek inside me is done talking, time to get back to my big adventure coming up, as I saw to leaving Ohio and heading to Massachusetts.

So on the afternoon of Thursday, October 3, 2019, I saw to getting my Uber to leave Youngstown via Greyhound to get to Cleveland, where I'd catch Amtrak the next morning, taking the Lakeshore Limited line to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In the end though, my Uber driver offered to drive me to Cleveland, when she saw there was hardly anybody at the bus station. So I took her up on her offer, despite it being an 87 mile trip, and I made sure to tip her well at the end of the journey, giving her a $21.00 tip, as GPS is pretty messed up in Cleveland. The train station is listed as being in the middle of the highway, a very dangerous place to be let off by public transportation. Luckily, my driver went out of her way to get a hold of the police, and get me to a safe spot before heading back to Youngstown, hince, why I gave her such a large tip, and following this adventure, I sat all night long, on what ended up being the deserted steps of Cleveland, with hardly anybody passing by, being unsure where I was. Celeste did talk to me on the phone for a time, until I noticed a train coming in, but it was further away from me, and my battery started getting low. She did have her radio show to do the following morning, so let her go so she could get some sleep, and saw to contacting the police, who eventually found me, which wasn't easy, since there was a fence separating me from the public, really making me feel, well, deserted. The police officer escorted me over to where I needed to wait, and I caught my 5:50 AM train out of Cleveland, arriving in Pittsfield shortly after 4 in the afternoon. I had never been so relieved to make it on to the train, and then to my final destination in my entire life. Post arriving in Pittsfield, I headed to Liberty Pizza, where I had Celeste come and meet me, and we ate dinner together. We then spent the next week, quietly relaxing together, while I finished off some chips she had on hand, as well as corndogs and taquitos in her freezer, because she had headed to the store before she knew I was coming, so graciously understood the lack of food this time around. Come the following weekend though, she did have to go to the store, and it was at that time, that I reunited with her mom again at least. I visited for another 2 weeks, before heading to Springfield, Massachusetts to visit a friend of mine who is attending school over there.

While in Springfield, I visited my friend at her college and ate lunch there, and then, stayed at the Red Roof Inn, as well as went shopping at the Holioke Mall, visiting both, the Apple Store and Best Buy, being disappointed it was so late in the month, that there was hardly any money to buy anything. Thankfully though, because the mall wasn't nearly as crowded, like it was the day I went back in August in Bakersfield, I was able to get help from the security guards, and had fun playing in the Apple store, getting to check out an Apple TV, and finding out that you could get a 10 terabyte external hard drive at Best Buy for only $130.00! Unfortunately, I still don't have either one of those items, but maybe someday, at the very least, the 10 terabyte drive, as 2 of them would be just perfect, for getting my ripped Blue Rays and DVD's moved on to, freeing up space on my 4 terabyte drive, which is nearly full. I also liked that one could ride the local buses in the area for free, so long as you were blind or visually impaired, and had proof of this, like a white cane in my case. While Springfield was fun, due to the fact that my friend was very busy with school, I made a difficult decision, but one worth making, if I wanted to live in peace and feel safe. I went back to Pittsfield, and decided to make a permanent move there, living with Celeste, in hopes that no family drama would unfold again.

To my pleasant surprise, Celeste was thrilled to have me move in with her, and once I explained myself to her family, they've been much nicer to me since I returned. As for the ancient heating system, other than one leak we had in late January, which did get fixed in February, but because the maintanence person forgot to open up the valve, cutting off heat to the bedroom, for the most part, we've had good luck with the heat working in at least one room of the apartment throughout the winter, and weather wise, it's been a much milder winter, with the record low so far, only reaching to 1 degree, and a record high of 64 in late January, for one day, which even surprised Celeste, who's been living in Pittsfield since 1993. As for the various holidays that have come and gone since I've been back, Halloween was kind of ruined because of a bad rain and wind storm that delayed Trick or Treat by 2 days, causing Celeste to decide to not go, and I skipped the concert at the Colonial theater, because I didn't feel well that evening, but Celeste went and had a wonderful time. I did attend the Eagle's Band Christmas concert both, in 2018 and in 2019 in early December, and both of them are available on my Youtube channel if you wish to check them out. Thanksgiving was also quiet, only watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving Day of 2019, because it was easier for Celeste's family to have dinner the following day on Black Friday, because over the summer, her nephew moved out of town, only being able to come the day after. No big deal, the food was just as good, and her folks remembered what I didn't like from the year before, so I only consumed what I did like, and got another pumpkin pie to myself a second year in a row. Also, the temperature was only 35 degrees opposed to the 12 degrees I witnessed the previous year, which was a huge help. I did get to enjoy more Christmas tree cakes during the holiday season, and Celeste's birthday in December was a similar celebration to the previous year, only this time, her brother and nephew also attended the movie with us, which this time, we went to see Frozen II. Come Christmas, I went to the celebration again, after enjoying Christmas music on the radio, though sadly, I had to listen on a different station this time, because WTBR stopped playing Christmas music at midnight on Christmas day, and the station I found, kept looping their playlist, causing me to hear several songs repeatedly throughout the night and early morning, ending my benge listen sometime in the afternoon before heading to Celeste's parents place. As for presents, Celeste received quite a few things, with the biggest surprise of them all being, an Apple Watch, series 5! While she enjoys it, as much as I'm a fan of Apple products, because I'm not a big fan of watches, this is one product I don't see me getting in the foreseeable future, but I'm glad Celeste enjoys it. As for me, I received both, the complete TV series of Knight Rider on DVD, as well as the complete series of Star Trek, the Next Generation on DVD, which took until the end of January to receive a complete copy, because discs were missing and duplicated the first two copies. My initial copy had 2 copies of seasons 4, 5, and 6, with seasons 1, 2, and 3 missing, while the first replacement, had two copies of seasons 1, 2, and 3, with seasons 4, 5, and 6 missing, and in both cases, I did receive a copy of season 7 in both sets. Third time's the charm though, as all 7 seasons were there, and I have both series ripped to my friend's external hard drives, which combined, have more space than mine has at the moment. Celeste also got a copy of the complete TV series of Home Improvement on DVD as a combined birthday slash Christmas present from one of her cousins, which was quite the surprise, since we couldn't find it anywhere, and, it came in this really cute tool box, which we've since emptied, and are now using it to store accessories for our computers and phones for the time being. To ring in the 2020 new year, I watched Rockin' New Years Eve again, and we split a Hawaiian pizza from Liberty Pizza, and Celeste filled in for a DJ on the Internet radio station we've been a part of since 11/20/19 for me, and 12/13/19 for her. She left The Q Online in mid October, after being disatisfied with management over there, and I believe I was silently let go after not doing anything over there for 6 months, so we both ventured over to 98.6 The Mix, where I now do Monty's Grab Bag on Wednesday afternoons from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM Eastern, and Celeste does Flashback Friday on Friday evenings from 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM Eastern, or until she runs out of playlist, whichever one happens first lol. Then, come Valentine's Day, I got to enjoy more conversation hearts during the months of January and February, and we were invited over to Celeste's parents place, after we treated ourselves to lunch from Flavours of Malaysia and Subway via DoorDash earlier that afternoon. At Celeste's parents place, we enjoyed dinner from McDonalds, and I received a Braille valentine from her mom, as well as 2 packages of conversation hearts, allowing me to enjoy them literally, to the very end of February.

Since I've returned to Pittsfield, I've been enjoying listening to the Pittsfield Fire Department, and even recorded a couple of fire alarm events when it went off in our building, I continue to enjoy excellent coverage on all 3 of my phone carriers, and still have the highest package that Spectrum offers, which went up by a couple hundred megs since I last had it back last winter and early spring. I also left Digital Ocean, where I use to have a server, and am now on Linnode, where I'm running both, an Icecast server, as well as a Teamtalk server. And oh yeah, my friend Celeste has picked up the daily mint tradition that my sister did when I lived with her, giving me one Winter Green Life Saver mint per day, at very random times and in very creative ways I might add. Oh yeah, and earlier this year, I checked out a podcast called, 9 Days in July, which discusses in great detail, stuff that went on during the Apollo 11 mission, as well as giving biographical information of all of the people involved, as well as what lead them to being a part of the Apollo 11 mission in the first place, and what happened to them afterwards. This podcast sparked a roller coaster of emotions, looking at each day of the mission, and if you're a space nerd like myself, or at the very least, find the history of our first men on the moon fascinating, then I highly recommend you check out this podcast, which I know is for sure, available on Apple Podcast, and it wouldn't surprise me if it's available on other podcasting platforms. All-in-all, other than what I'll be discussing in my next entry to follow, life is pretty good at the moment, even this year's Super Bowl was better than Super Bowl 53, where the Patriots creamed the sleeping Rams on the field. And as for the 2019 World Series game, no extra long game like the year before, but of what I caught of it, the games weren't half bad, good thing too, since who knows if there will be a world series game in 2020, again, more to come about that in a future post. As for the radio thing, as in the Internet radio thing, Celeste has completed a total of 14 consecutive shows, while I've done 16 shows, and over at 98.6 The Mix, I'm getting a lot more listener interaction than I ever got at The Q, not only from Celeste, but with a new online friend of ours from Illinois, as well as a friend we made over the summer who lives in Santabarbra, California, he's been quite a loyal friend to the both of us since we all started talking back in April of last year, and if I should ever get back out west again, I hope to go meet him in person. I've also been enjoying a new streaming service called Disney+, where I benge watched all of Hannah Montana, and Smart Guy, and Celeste introduced me to a few more movies that some of them, are on the Disney+ platform, while others, are exclusively on her video cassette collection, those being, Smart House, Life Size, and a few Christmas movies, including The Ultimate Christmas Present, which is available on Disney+. We also watched all 3 Santa Clause movies to wrap up the Christmas season, and other than that, I can't think of much else to say. I'm sure I've forgotten things, after all, I did have nearly 3 years to catch you guys up on, but if you follow me on Twitter, or are friends with me on Facebook, or if we chat via WhatsApp, and you check out my streams on Dabel, along with this here post, you should know everything about me at that point. That's probably why I don't update as much in this journal anymore, because I have so many social media platforms to choose from, that I tend to go for the more popular ones, but I can't abandon this platform entirely, after all, it's still around, so might as well use it. Anyway, thanks for reading, and hope you're having a nice day.
  • Current Music
    409 by The Beach Boys

Annoying T-mobile iPhone issue with some apps

The issue I'm about to discuss is one that I first discovered a few months ago, and the issue was fixed in iOS 10.3, however the problem has fully returned in 10.3.1, which at the time of this writing is the most current version of iOS for the iPhone.
Basically the problem is that on a T-Mobile iPhone, certain apps absolutely refuse to work when connected to the cellular data network, even though the phone is set to allow all apps to use cellular data. The apps load just fine, but when they try to do anything requiring network access, it's as if it's not even on the network, when the phone clearly is on the cellular data network as evidenced by the fact that other apps work with no issues!
Most notably, one of the apps experiencing this annoying issue is called iTeamtalk, a high quality voice chat app. It refuses to connect to any teamtalk server when on Cell data. However, this is not the only app I use that's experiencing this problem. I've discovered at least 3 apps that will not work via T-Mobile cell data. In all cases, the apps act as though they are totally offline and will not connect to anything. For example, the Magic Jack app, an app that allows one to make calls to telephones, will not connect to the magic jack server, and thus cannot register itself to allow the user to place a phone call.
Transmit is another app that won't work via T-Mobile data connection. Transmit is a file transfer client that supports FTP and SFTP file transfers. When trying to connect to any server, be it an FTP or SFTP server, transmit immediately throws an error stating connection timed out or server hung up. It's as though it's not even trying to connect at all. Even stranger still, another app that can do file transfer via SFTP and FTP among others, is file browser, and that app can connect to anything I tell it to when on T-Mobile cellular data without issue! And as if that wasn't strange enough, it gets even weirder! If I enable personal hotspot on my T-Mobile Device, then connect to my T-Mobile hotspot with my Verizon iPhone 7 plus, which has the exact same apps on it, I can use all the apps such as transmit and iTeamtalk via the T-Mobile hotspot with no issues whatsoever! I can also use these apps when directly connected to Verizon's cell data network without any issues of any kind. I want to know what's causing these 3 apps, and possibly more, to simply not work if being used directly on a T-Mobile iPhone on the T-Mobile data network? It makes no sense at all. Why do these apps not work, but others work without problem? When I use cell data, I expect every app I have to not have an issue using cellular data!
This is quite an annoying issue, and since I cannot diagnose the problem any further, I'm unsure if the blame is with T-Mobile or apple. I do know that I'm not the only user experiencing issues with apps refusing to connect to the internet when on T-Mobile data directly! At least 2 other friends of mine in totally different areas of the country are experiencing the same issues as me, and the only common factor is T-Mobile. I'd be curious to know what other apps may not work via T-Mobile directly. The fact that the issue was briefly fixed, then broke again is rather curious as well. Anyone that has thoughts or comments on this I would welcome them.

loving new computer

For the first time in about a year, I've once again got a computer, after selling my old mac last year around this time to a family member. This new computer I got from Costco, and it's quite a nice laptop. It's a Lenovo Y520 series laptop with an incredible 16GB of ram, and it has 2 drives, a 2TB storage drive, and a 256GB SSD which of course is where the operating system and programs live. With the extra storage of 2TB separate from the main operating system drive, I'm able to if necessary, format and reload the operating system, and not lose data files at all! Pretty sweet. Of course these days, I've got plenty of places to store stuff off site as well. These storage options include, 1TB of storage at both Dropbox and Onedrive, 100GB at Google, and unlimited storage, currently totaling 1.7TB and counting at Amazon. Plus for temp storage, I've got some virtual servers with about 60GB total capacity as well. Yeah I should be good for a while. So yeah this laptop is awesome so far. And oh yes I bought it here in Oregon where I'm visiting friends, so the price I saw would be the price paid, no sales tax to worry about, yay.
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DDOS attacks, why bother?

Welcome to 2016 everyone. Recently, over the past week or so, since at least Christmas 2015, VPS hosting provider Linode has been suffering from long duration distributed denial of service attacks on it's entire network, and I don't mean just 1 datacenter either! These attacks seem to be targeting linode as a whole, with attacks occuring in just about every one of their datacenters. Now in most cases, when a distributed denial of service attack or DDOS attack occurs, it's targeted at a given website or group of related sites. That's bad enough, but now we've got multiple attacks targeting an entire company itself it would seem. This company is a hosting provider, and as such, they host a wide variety of content. Everything from web sites, to VOIP phone systems, to streaming audio and internet radio stations, to databases, and just about anything else you can think of are hosted at Linode's various datacenters. With such a wide variety of stuff hosted, what the hell would cause someone or a group of people to launch a DDOS against an entire provider like that? Clearly it's deliberately targeted at Linode and everything it does, since pretty much all of their geographically diverse locations have been targeted multiple times throughout this ongoing event. I don't currently have anything hosted at Linode, but I know people that do, and I feel bad for them, as they can only wait this out and hope it'll clear up soon. When I did have stuff hosted with Linode, they were a good provider with very good network connectivity and speed, so again I'm mystified as to why whoever or whatever wants to cause this DDOS against an entire provider. What did they do to them? And just how exactly do you prevent attacks like this from effecting other VPS hosting providers or any internet provider for that matter? I hope everything calms down soon, and hopefully we may find out why this attack was initiated to begin with.
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    frustrated frustrated
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An iCloud mail mystery

This is an issue I've had I think ever since iCloud was released some 4 years ago now, but as I'm no closer than I was then to solving it, I'll put it out here on my blog, and see if others may have ideas. Part of a user's iCloud storage is used for their iCloud email account, should they wish to make use of it. I do use my iCloud email account, though not all that often. Currently, when I check to see how much storage various things in iCloud are taking up, most make sense, except for mail. Let me explain. My iPhone backup currently takes up about 609 megabytes of space, which sounds about right, since I do have several voice memos, and various other audio apps that I keep data backed up in iCloud. Plus, I believe iCloud keeps the most recent 2 backups I think it is, so all that data added up would come out to the figure I mentioned above. The mail portion of my iCloud storage though makes no sense whatsoever. At the moment, my iCloud mail contains a total of 4 messages, 3 of which are normal simple plain text emails, that should only be a few kilobytes each. The 4th message does have 2 .xml files attached to it, as well as a plain text description of what the attachment of the message contains. The attachments in all total around 50KB in size. I'd estimate that all my iCloud mail combined should take up maybe 100-300KB total, when you factor in header information, along with the message overhead for the attachments. There's no way for me to see the exact size of the individual messages themselves to be sure, so I'm just estimating based on the message contents. So, if my total iCloud email size is let's say 300 kilobytes, then why does it say that mail is taking up 10.7 megabytes of my iCloud storage! Yes you read that right, with nothing at all in my junk or trash folders, or my sent folder, the 4 messages I have stored in iCloud which are quite small themselves, are somehow taking up a crazy 10.7MB of my space! A while back, I tried to dig into this issue, back when my iCloud settings showed that my mail portion of storage was using an insane 147MB of space. I primarily use my iCloud account on my phone, but when I cleared out all messages from there with no noticeable change, I brought up mail on my mac, and cleared out stuff from there and that did seem to help, as my mail was then only using a few kilobytes of space. I also discovered that notes that you create with the notes app are actually stored in the mail portion of your iCloud storage. This may be different now with iOS9, though I haven't yet tested to be sure of that. Anyway, with no mail at all in iCloud, and with the only thing taking up the mail portion of my storage being my notes from my notes app, the size of mail storage used looked right, at about 90 kilobytes or so. I then sent myself a simple test plain text email, which even with header information and all should be just a few kilobytes in size, and after receiving the message, I was shocked when I looked at how much iCloud mail was taking up, and it had jumped from 90KB, to over 5 MB! Remember that I had not sent myself any attachments whatsoever. I'd literally sent just 1 message with a subject of testing and body of "this is a test message." There's no way in hell that message alone, even with header information and such, would've been 5 megabytes by itself! That message couldn't've traveled through so many mail servers, so as to make the header info of the message 4 or 5 megabytes! I did then send myself a message with an attachment of around 1.5 megabytes, and the storage used after receiving that message jumped up to over 10MB. The message itself again including all headers should have been less than 5MB. I still have no explanation as to why mail storage space is so way off the mark. And as I said, at this very moment, I have 1 message that contains 2 small attachments, and 3 other plain text emails, and my mail storage should not even be close to 5 megabytes, let alone the 10.7 megabytes that it's showing right now! Does anyone have any idea what on Earth is going on with this? I'm not running out of storage or anything, I'm just curious why mail storage seems to store more data then should be there, and what that data could be. It'd be like me withdrawing $60 at an ATM, only to discover my account showing I withdrew $120, even though I know for a fact I've got 60! Strange stuff, and if anyone has ideas, I'll take them.
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    confused confused

Can blind users upload multiple items to anymore?

Hi everyone. Today I'd like to upload a couple of collections of audio recordings to the internet archive. Years ago, I did this somewhat regularly, and those recordings of mine are still archived for all to enjoy. Back in 2011, and before, when I'd upload to, which is the home of the internet archive, the process for uploading was quite simple. You basically would tell the site you wanted to upload some files, you'd then be assigned an FTP server to connect to and upload your files, then you'd return to the site to finish editing and making your items available. This process was easy and perfect for a blind computer user using a screen reader to get the job done, as I obviously would be doing. However sometime in 2011 or 2012, the internet archive did away with their FTP upload option entirely, in favor of their in browser upload option. This in browser upload option uses flash, and near as I can tell, it's totally inaccessible to screen reader users! They have a non-flash alternative as they call it, but that option gives you no progress on your upload, nor does it allow for multiple item uploads, such as what I would be uploading 100 percent of the time. One collection I want to upload are my recordings from the American Council of the blind convention in 2014, which I attended. This collection has 61 items in it. When the FTP option was around, as it was in 2011 when I last uploaded to the archive, it would've been no problem uploading all 61 items at once, as I'd just connect to the FTP server I was assigned, upload all items at once, then finish editing the description and title and such on the site, and all was good. However now, the task of simply uploading my items to seems all but impossible! If I try with the flash method, I get an unlabeled button, which I assume is an upload button, but pressing enter or space on it does nothing, and nothing is ever uploaded. I'm very disappointed in the internet archive for doing away with the FTP method of uploading content, especially when it seems like their are no options to allow a screen reader user to upload content to the site now! The FTP method worked, and worked well, why totally get rid of it! And I'm sure not going to upload 61 separate times to the site, that just seems crazy. So my question is, is their any way at all for a totally blind user using a screen reader such as Jaws or NVDA, to upload multiple files to the internet archive at all? I like the internet archive, since it allows me to preserve recordings I've made over the years, while at the same time making them available for anyone to enjoy. I'd like to be able to upload content to the archive again, but I need a good reliable way to upload multiple items at once, as I did many times in the past with the FTP option. Is this possible at all? I sure hope so. The process of uploading content to any web site, should never be inaccessible! Any ideas or comments on how I can get my content up to, I'd appreciate them!
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T-mobile does have a hard 4 hour single call duration limit

After doing numerous tests with my T-Mobile service since obtaining it back at the beginning of May 2015, and doing a little research, it seems T-Mobile's network as a whole does have a single call duration limit of 240 minutes or 4 hours. In other words, if you are on a call, no matter if it's T-Mobile to T-Mobile or not, the call will always drop around 240 minutes into it, and you or them will need to call back. If using wifi calling, the duration is 4 hours exactly, but I've found if using the cellular network, the maximum call duration is slightly less than 4 hours, usually between 3 hours 51 minutes and 3 hours 55 minutes. Most users I'm sure will never hit this limit on a single call, but for those times where you may want or need to have a long chat by phone, such as when I was trying to troubleshoot a friend's server issue a few night's ago, it's good to know what the limit for a single phone call on a provider is, since it's never documented. I've done tests on Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and magicjack, and can report the following results. T-Mobile as stated above has a maximum single call duration of around 4 hours, MagicJack has a maximum call duration of 1.5 hours or 90 minutes, and both Verizon and AT&T are truly unlimited, as I've had phone calls up to 9 hours, 10 minutes on Verizon and over 7 hours on AT&T. I also have google voice, and so far, I've had a 3 hour 5 minute long telephone call via Google voice, but I need to do more tests to see what the limit of GV is, if any for a single call. I do wish providers if they choose to have a limit per call, would document this limit somewhere, rather than making users wonder why their calls drop after a given amount of time. After all, they do advertise unlimited voice minutes, so they should in my view state there are maximum per single call duration limits. One nice thing about the VOIP provider call Centric, is that you have a single call duration limit, but it can be configured on a per user basis. So mine I think is currently set for 1 hour, but I can adjust that whenever I please all the way up to a max of 8 hours. And, there are other providers, such as vitelity, that are unlimited. As I learn more provider call duration limits, I'll update everyone.