SoCS: new editor

Change is good.

Change is difficult.

Change is necessary.

Change is easier when you have a choice about it.

Obviously, many of us have made a lot of changes due to the pandemic, but this is not going to be another one of my pandemic posts. (Silent cheering.)

Instead, it is about being faced with WordPress retiring the classic editor in favor of the block editor. Those of you with newer blogs are probably already using it – and, I’m sure, many of the people with older blogs are, too.

I admit to not being especially tech-savvy, but I learned to use the classic editor well enough to be able to keep Top of JC’s Mind going for six years and counting. I admit that it has been frustrating at times, especially in getting poetry to format properly. White space is not a friend of the classic editor. I had to learn to add photos, but I tend to post text only most of the time. My brain processes words better than images and I don’t like having to think about copyright issues and such when I’m posting.

I did do a bit of experimenting with the block editor a few months back when I began to set up a new website for the Boiler House Poets Collective. [Note to self: Get the site public soon.] I found it very confusing, so I swapped back into the classic editor. “It” in the prior sentence meaning the block editor.

Yesterday, when I logged in to post about the first anniversary of my mom’s death, I was faced with the news that the current classic editor is being retired as of June 1 in favor of the ever-so-superior block editor. I was not in the mood to experiment at that point, although I did read the short article about it and opened a tab with a longer article for future reference.

Later in the day yesterday, I wrote a post scheduled for tomorrow, using the classic editor.

And here I am on Saturday morning, writing this post using the classic editor.

I’m promising myself to read more about the block editor later today. I’m really hoping I can learn to use it without a long and painful learning curve.

If push comes to shove, though, I do have the instructions to revert to something that is very close to the classic editor.

I’ll try not to wimp out and use it, though.

Promise.

Change is good. Right?
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is basing the post on a word beginning with ch. Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/05/22/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-23-2020

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!
https://www.quaintrevival.com/

JC’s Confessions #8

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I have a love/hate tolerate/hate relationship with my smartphone.

It is a perfectly fine Android phone, but I can’t get used to it. I don’t find all the tapping and swiping intuitive. The first call I got on it I couldn’t figure out how to answer. I guess the Verizon Store employee assumed I would know how, although he did know that it was replacing a flip phone.

Before I go further, I should explain that I don’t use my cell phone for general communication. Only family, a few friends, and people who might need to reach me urgently have my cell number. I don’t want to hear from my dentist’s office with an appointment reminder while I am shopping or driving or visiting.

I have learned to use texts. My flip phone could text, but it was so hard hitting the numbers multiple times to get the correct letter that I seldom did it. So, I do text with my smartphone. I just don’t do it very well. I don’t have very big fingers, but the keyboard is so small that I am forever hitting the wrong letter or finding myself in the emoji section when I am trying to type a comma.

I don’t like having to have apps for – well – just about everything. I’d love to delete a bunch of them, but some of the ones that came preloaded on the phone you aren’t allowed to delete. I really, really dislike notifications from apps. I try to turn most of them off, which involves going through a bunch of confusing screens in settings.

I have a lot of trouble navigating and finding things when I need them. When we went to London in December, we sometimes had our travel documents on the phone rather than printed out on paper. It made me really nervous that I would not be able to pull up what I needed. At one point, I was trying to scan a boarding pass to get through a turnstile sort of thing and wound up on some other screen and needed to be rescued by an airport employee to get through the checkpoint. It was disconcerting.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Wow, Joanne must really be a Luddite,” but I’m not totally without technical skills. I’ve managed to keep this blog going since September, 2013. It’s not fancy, but it exists. I do much of my poetry in google docs. I’m decent at researching online and finding reliable sources, instead of fringy ones. I know how to use some keyboard shortcuts. I can even troubleshoot some problems – restarting often works wonders – although I need to call in reinforcements, sometimes. Fortunately, my spouse B has worked in tech for decades and my (now adult) daughters are digital natives, although one is quite a bit more tech-oriented than the other.

I do not, however, feel compelled to be reading or playing on my phone at all times. I don’t need to look up some factoid on whatever subject. I don’t need it to tell me what time it is or when my next appointment is. I don’t feel lost without it.

I will confess, though, that I sometimes need it to tell me the date. My paper calendar is not so good at that…
*****
If you want to read other JC’s Confessions, there is a handy-dandy link at the top of the page. This confession is also part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join us! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2020/01/19/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-19th-2020/

Whose labor?

Today, the United States observes Labor Day, which celebrates workers, especially those who are members of unions.

I heard a discussion on the radio today about jobs that have been replaced by technology and another about the rights of workers who are considered independent contractors instead of employees, which generally means they get no benefits. These discussions also touched on the nature of work and what it means for human dignity and living standards.

One caller touched on a subject that is close to my heart, that people who act as unpaid caregivers are not considered part of the economy at all, despite their value to their families and communities. Most of the tasks that I have done over the years can be paid work, too, such as child care, elder care, driver, cook, laundry worker, and now even grocery shopper. Of course, these occupations are usually low-paying, reflecting the devaluation of caregiving in the United States. Granted, most people with paid employment also have to take care of homes and/or family members, but many of them pay someone to do some of that work.

Caregiving is work and those that do it should be respected and recognized as part of the economy. This dynamic is part of the movement for a universal basic income, most publicly articulated at the moment by Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Having spent most of my life in volunteering and family caregiving, I know that my labor has made valuable contributions to society. It would be nice to have meaningful national recognition of that.

another step

Our family has taken another step in reducing our carbon footprint. We replaced our 2005 Honda Odyssey with a new Chrysler Pacifica hybrid. Having had a minivan in the family since E was an infant thirty-two years ago, we like their versatility for transporting people and cargo. We wanted to keep that utility but cut back on emissions.

As it turns out, the Pacifica is the only plug-in hybrid minivan on the market. It has a full gasoline-powered engine plus enough battery to travel thirty-ish miles. That means that most days, we can run on battery power but have the flexibility to go on long trips without having to plan on stopping at a rapid charging station as we would have to do with our Chevy Bolt.

As it turns out, in order to get the most advanced safety features, we wound up having to get a lot of other bells and whistles, too.  I admit that I am having a bit of trouble adjusting to nearly everything happening by touch screen. Sometimes, buttons and knobs are easier!

It is nice to not have to go to a gas station very often and I appreciate that we have so drastically reduced our transportation greenhouse gas emissions. For those of us who live in places without much mass transit, transportation is one of the most difficult areas to achieve reductions, so I am grateful to have gone mostly electric, especially as most of our electricity comes from our solar panels.

It’s fun to go green!
Pacifica hybrid

*****
Join us for Just Jot It January. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/07/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-7th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

Bolt update

Because we have recently completed National Drive Electric Week, I thought I would update you on our experiences with our 2017 Chevy Bolt.

We still love it!

I wish I could have shown it off at our local Drive Electric event, but it did not fit into our schedule.

Over these last six months, we have learned a lot about electric driving. Air temperature has a big effect on range. When the weather was warm this summer, our projected range with a full charge was 280-300 miles (450-482 km) rather than the listed 238 (383 km). During the winter, though, our range may only be in the 160s.

The type of driving also has a big impact on the range. Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, electric vehicles are more efficient in stop-and-go driving because the energy from slowing, braking, and travelling downslope is used to send charge back to the battery. Yesterday, I drove almost fifteen miles while only having my projected range decrease by two miles because I was driving around town.

The Bolt has a screen that shows how various factors affect mileage in real time. It is a bit of a game to see how much different routes, speeds, etc. affect our kilowatt per mile ratio. In a mixed highway/city session, we get about 4.8 m/kwh, while on an exclusively in-town run, we average about 6 m/kwh. This is much cheaper than running a car on gasoline, especially because maintenance costs on EVs are also much lower. It is even cheaper for us because most of our electricity comes from our solar panels, rather than being purchased from a utility.

My favorite driving mode is L mode, which allows most driving to happen with just the accelerator pedal. It reminds me of using the swell pedal on the organ! L mode makes greater use of regenerative braking without needing to touch the brake pedal, which brings in the use of the disc brakes.

The only real problem we have had is that one of our forward cameras stopped functioning, which meant that we were without pedestrian detection and other safety features for a while as our dealer had to order the parts needed. This wasn’t too great a hardship, given that we had never had these kinds of features on prior cars so we were used to driving without them. Still, it was nice to have them back after the repair.

While we had planned to install a home charging station, we haven’t gotten around to it yet. Given that we usually keep the Bolt within the county and that we have an upgraded home electrical service, it hasn’t been a problem charging slowly with our regular household current, but we will eventually get a home charging station so that we can do a full battery charge overnight. We plan to get a station that plugs into a 220 outlet rather than one that is hardwired.

We are also slowly getting more public charging stations. In August, shortly before L had to return to London, we took ABC to Recreation Park in Binghamton to ride the carousel. We were surprised to see two charging stations in the parking lot. I pulled into a slot and got a few kilowatt-hours in while we rode the carousel. It turned out that the chargers had just been installed. It was fun to see the media coverage, knowing that I had already availed myself of the service.

It has also been fun telling people about our EV and giving people rides. One of B’s co-workers, who has an approximately 120-mile (193 km) daily commute, decided to buy a Bolt from our dealership after talking to B about our experience. We had been the first Bolt sold there and he was the third. We are hoping that the sales of the Bolt and other EVs will expand so that the public charging network will grow, especially rapid chargers that will make it easier to take electric cars on long trips.

This will also make it easier to sell more EVs, which will be better for air quality and climate protection for everyone. As battery prices continue to come down, EVs will soon be priced similarly to gas vehicles without subsidies while being cheaper to run and maintain. Several European countries already have plans to phase out gasoline/diesel only vehicles; perhaps, one day, the United States will follow suit.

Printing

In recent weeks, my printer has been getting increasingly temperamental, until, last week, it decided not to recognize its black ink cartridge altogether. I resorted to printing text in flashy colors, while trying head cleaning and other suggestions to get the black ink flowing again.

Over the weekend, B, who is much techier than I will ever be, tried physically cleaning the printheads, and taking parts out, and whatever, but it appears the old printer is not coming back to life. The cost of the replacement part is almost as much as a new printer, so I set out yesterday to buy a new printer/copier/scanner.

I looked online first and entered the store with my choices narrowed to two. I dutifully looked at the floor samples, which seemed to confirm that the main reason for the price differential between the two was printing speed, but I thought I should ask someone who worked there.

Usually in the tech department, employees wander about asking if you need help, but I had to go find someone. Unfortunately, the someone I found was new and didn’t seem to have a clue about printers! Still, I eventually confirmed the information, chose the slower, less expensive model, bought the requisite ink cartridges, and headed for home.

Ordinarily, B does the tech setup, but he is away on business right now, so it was up to me to set the printer up, or face not being able to print out copies of our tax returns and other important documents that I need this week.

The start of the process was not auspicious, as I needed E’s help to get the printer out of the box.  Those styrofoam forms are tight!

I did manage to follow the instructions, which, fortunately, had sentences as well as drawings. I am notoriously bad at interpreting drawings.

And, everything went smoothly!

Unlike our prior printer which was supposed to be wireless but which I had to have connected by wire to my desktop for it to actually print anything, this printer is operating with just its power cord plugged in. We can put apps on our phones and tablets for access, too, as well as send documents to our printer’s very own email address. Fancy! (OK – I know other people have had things like this for years, but it’s a first for me.)

So, yay for hard copy! Today, I printed a poem that I need for a reading on Friday. (More on that later.)

Maybe, tomorrow, I’ll tackle those tax returns…

Get Smart(phone)

Hmmm….I seem to be indulging my love of parentheses lately.

Warning: I may move on to ellipses next…

Okay, back to the post…

Over the weekend, we went to our wireless store to shop for T’s first smartphone. Given that she is about to head to Missouri to work at a grasslands field research station, she will need GPS and access to databases and such to help with her fieldwork. She also may need it for internet access from the place where she will be living, which does not have broadband available.

They were having a half-price special on an appropriate phone, which the salesperson referred to as buy-one-get-one-free…

So, the next thing I knew, I was getting my first smartphone, too.

It’s quite a step forward in technology for me, given that I was using a flip-phone that was so old the store didn’t have a connector to copy my contacts onto the smartphone. Fortunately, I didn’t have a ton of contacts, although it was tedious to copy them myself. On the other hand, it was a lot easier to type in the names than to push the number buttons the appropriate amount of times for each letter.

It is handy to have E here, as she has had a smartphone for a while and could help me learn how to use my new phone and how to delete or disable apps that came pre-installed, but that I don’t want to bother with. She also taught me important things, like how to silence the ringer.

This probably sounds funny to people who are used to using smartphones and other devices. I realize they are supposed to be intuitive and easy to figure out, but I am not very good at dealing with symbols and swiping and such. I do better with words and manuals with an index that I can read. Of course, those don’t exist any more…

I also don’t use my cell phone as most people do. My landline is still my primary phone number. Very few people have my cell number. I realize that most people want to be connected at all times, but I don’t want anyone bothering me when I am off doing something else. I don’t want a reminder call on my dentist appointment while I am grocery shopping or visiting my parents.

I also don’t text. That may change with T leaving soon for Missouri. I do use g-chat for messaging, so texting is a natural extension of that.

One thing that will be helpful is downloading the apps for some of the stores that I frequent. Recently, our supermarket decided that it would no longer mail out coupons. Having a smartphone will make it easier to download them to my loyalty card.

Who knows? Maybe I will go wild and start taking photos and streaming videos and texting all the time and playing games and such.

Most likely, not…
*****
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/23/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-24th-elusive/

jjj-2017