myBLOG-Online

Google my Business: what exactly is the point of verification?

Google my Business, what is the point of being verified when your edits are immediately rejected?

I have to deal with Google much more often than I would like as part of my work as an online marketing specialist, and I have expressed frustration on many occasions with Google’s practices including how their review system works, and their canned responses, seemingly not at all reading the support request, in that case, in regard to verifying a property without an onsite mailing address, which is still unresolved.

In this situation, I really question the point of verifying ownership of a business. I have been having issues with changing office hours for a single property, I have been verified and authorized to represent the property for seven weeks, but I am unable to change the office hours, from no hours to the actual hours.

I log into my account, select the property I want to edit, edit the office hours, click apply, and it shows as “Under review“, but when I return to the Google my Business dashboard for the property five minutes later, I see the changes have been rejected, highlighted in orange, and at the top of the page, it reads “This location has updated information from Google users or other sources. Review these published updates to make sure that they’re accurate“, and my only option is “Accept all for this location“.

Google my Business rejected hours

I used the GMB support page to send a message detailing the issues I was having including screenshots, and after days of waiting, a canned response comes back, which is available on their self service help website. I reply to this email, reiterating the issues I am having, and that the canned response does not help. I wait another couple of days, and another canned response arrives, which, of course does not help, as I am unable to reject the Google updates, only edit again, which gets rejected minutes later.

I sent a reply to the second canned response, further expanding on the issues I am having. This time including that I am having the same issue with another recently verified property, asserting that this is a system problem, as I doubt that a human has reviewed and rejected my office hours change in a matter of minutes. Today, I recieved a third message, saying that my case has been escalated to a specialist, let’s see where this goes, it should not be this difficult to make a simple change to a verified business profile.

For me, the point of being verified is that you can make instant changes to your Google presence as required, not having to jump through the hoops of simply suggesting an edit, which can be done by anyone. You would think that Google would want accurate information on their search and maps websites, yet, on two properties, information is far from correct, and I cannot believe that I’m the only person having this issue. How many people edited their hours and didn’t go back to check that those edits had been applied, assuming that being verified would mean edits would automatically go live.


Windows 11, why not support 4+ year old CPUs?

Windows 11, why not support 4+ year old CPUs

Windows 11 was officially released on October 5, 2021, but many people will be disappointed that only AMD Ryzen ZEN+ (2000 series), or Intel 8th generation or newer processors will be actively supported. Not to say you cannot do a clean install of Windows 11 from USB on older hardware, but Microsoft is unlikely to provide updates for people running Ryzen 1000 or Intel 7th generation CPUs.

These CPU compatibility recommendations confuse me as Microsoft’s official system requirements for Windows 11 is 1Ghz+ 64-bit dual-core processor, 4GB RAM, 64GB, or larger storage, DX12 compatible graphics, and a 720p display, in addition to UEFI secure boot and TPM (trusted platform module) 2.0.

Windows 11 minimum specifications

All AMD and Intel Core CPUs made in the past 10 years exceed this specification, the only issue I see is that motherboards that support older processors may not support TPM 2.0. In my case, my Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero motherboard does support secure boot and TPM 2.0, yet my Ryzen 1800X is not supported despite exceeding the minimum specification by 3.6 times based on the base clock speed.

Anyone with experience with new Windows releases knows that the first few iterations of the operating system have stability and functionality issues, knowing it’s best to wait for six to twelve months before upgrading. I would not recommend installing Windows 11 on unsupported processors IF Microsoft will not allow for security, stability, and functionality updates, as you’ll be stuck with a dodgy build of the OS.

I think this is a mistake on the part of Microsoft, as people are not upgrading to newer hardware as frequently as they used to because CPU improvements have been incremental, giving minimal improvements in performance over several generations. My 4 ½ year old Ryzen 1800X is still more than meeting my needs, even with the latest Adobe updates, I see zero slowdowns or problems.

The question I ask Microsoft is what is in the Ryzen 2700X that is not in my Ryzen 1800X that might cause damage to my system? the Ryzen 2000 series is evolved ZEN architecture with a 2nm die shrink.

However, this has got me thinking, maybe I should upgrade to a Zen 2 based processor, the 3000 series. I can buy a Ryzen 3800X (8 core, 16 thread) for around $320, or a Ryzen 3900X (12 core, 24 thread) for $430. It would be great to be able to upgrade to a Zen 3 (5000 series) processor, but that would require a motherboard upgrade too, my ROG Crosshair VI Hero board only supports up to Zen 2 processors.

I will still not be installing Windows 11 even if I do upgrade to ZEN 2, I use this machine to earn a living so I cannot be taking a risk on an unproven operating system when Windows 10 has been very solid.


Pending charges disappear, return the funds, then post 2 days later!

Is it normal for debit card charges to appear as pending then disappear only to post up to 3 days later?

After this weekend, we have found ourselves overdrawn on our Meritrust checking account, due to charges suddenly appearing out of nowhere. These charges are genuine, but I did not see them until yesterday, giving us the impression that we had more funds available than we actually had.

This has happened a number of times over the years causing us to go overdrawn. The charge will initially show as pending with a release date, showing our current balance, and available balance, the latter showing our balance including any pending charges. However, after 4 to 12 hours, any pending charge will disappear from our statement, showing a balance, which does not include the pending charges.

Is this standard practice for banks, or is this specific to Meritrust? Not all charges show as pending, some debit charges are immediately posted, which is how I would think it would work as it’s a direct digital transfer of funds. I cannot think of a good reason why a debit should not post immediately.

I wouldn’t mind if the charge remained pending until the release date, before posting, we’d know how much money we have available. it’s the fact that the pending charge disappears, the money is refunded, only to post 2 days later, making managing a budget difficult when your base information is incorrect.

The issue is that I don’t check our online banking daily, so sometimes, my wife will buy something, I never see the pending charge, then days later, a charge comes out of seemingly nowhere, which becomes a problem when you are running low on funds. My wife always checks the balance on her phone before spending, but if the balance is incorrect because of the vanishing pending charge, what can we do?

We have thousands of dollars in funds being deposited into our checking account within 36 hours, despite this, I fully expect Meritrust to hit me with a $32 insufficient funds charge before that time.


More school issues + sleep issues for my daughter!

Rejected for online school after five weeks. now, our daughter is unable to attend her ‘neighborhood’ school!

At the beginning of the school year, due to insane policies from USD259 – Wichita Schools, not requiring masks in schools despite rising cases of the COVID-19 delta variant in the city, we elected to not send our daughter to her physical school, opting for an online school, in this case, USD259’s Education Imagine Academy. But after five weeks of waiting, we find out our application for our daughter to attend Imagine Academy was denied due to overwhelming demand for the school district’s online alternative, which we can only assume is related to the initial lack of mask mandate. Even with a significantly expanded class for 2021, there were still not enough places for all kids wanting a place in Imagine Academy.

But it gets worse, now we know our daughter cannot attend Imagine Academy, we called up her regular school, Gordon Parks Academy, which like so many schools in Wichita, is a magnet school, for which, your child has to be accepted, which she was. But, apparently, after 2 weeks of school, that offer is rescinded and handed to the next child in line. We were told by Gordon Parks staff that we should reapply for Gordon Parks, but also apply for her “neighborhood” school, which is nowhere near our neighborhood, it’s on the other side of the city, there are literally half a dozen middle schools closer.

I did apply again for Gordon Parks as instructed, which seemed to be the only option on the online enrollment system, I saw no option to select another school. The issue now is that I have a pending application for Gordon Parks, and I cannot apply for Hamilton middle school, while the application for Gordon Parks is still active. We don’t really want our daughter to go to Hamilton due to the distance from our home because our daughter has been diagnosed with Autism with severe anxiety, we don’t like the idea of being so far away, should she have an episode.  This is why we chose Gordon Parks, as she already knew the school, as she attended there in elementary, and it’s walking distance from our home.

Moving onto the secondary issue, our daughter does not have any motivation to do anything during the day, only getting active when her friends are home from school, where she wants to play. I cannot keep her awake during the day, I literally drag her out of bed, stand her up, and she just moves to another room, lays down, and falls asleep again. She will literally sleep all day, which has a knock-on effect of meaning she is awake all night. Even when we get her back into a regular sleeping pattern, within a day, or sometimes two, she’ll sleep all night, then all day, waking up at 4—5pm, expecting to go out and play.

I’m at home, but I work a full-time job, which keeps me very busy, I don’t have time to keep track of what she is doing constantly. This sleeping issue has been an issue since school went remote, often falling asleep during school, so we have been dealing with this for close to 2 years now, and we cannot seem to break her of it, despite her being twelve years old in a few months. She always likes to pass the buck, blaming everyone and everything else, instead of taking responsibility for her own actions.

In an effort to break her of this behavior, I have stopped her from going out to play with her friends if she sleeps all day. Of course, she is now upset with me, because I turned her friends away when they came to our front door. This is where issues #1 and #2 are related, if we can get her back into physical school, hopefully, being around other kids will break her of this sleeping all day, to motivate her to be active, but we would like to not have her seven miles away, but at this point, I don’t see another option unless a magnet place opens up at Gordon Parks, which is unlikely as we have gone to the back of the list.

MINI RANT: I don’t understand why so many schools have become magnet schools, so many, that neighborhood schools are literally half a dozen or more miles away, with parents often having to drive, or have their children bussed to neighborhoods across the city, just to attend school. It defies logic, to have to drive past half a dozen other middle schools on the way to their neighborhood school!

UPDATE (SEP, 24 2021): RESOLUTION!

After 1½ hours on the phone to schools and USD259 administrative offices, we finally got our daughter into Gordon Parks, the school which we were told the offer to attend had been rescinded by school staff. It seems like most government entities, the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

First, I called our neighborhood school, the closest none magnet school, Hamilton Middle School, asking about enrollment, who directed me to parentVUE, to complete enrollment, I explained that I could not do that as there is a pending application to Gordon Parks. The person at Hamilton told me to call Gordon Parks, and ask them to deny the application, so I am able to complete an application for Hamilton.

I called Gordon Parks, and I explain that I need to withdraw my application for our daughter to attend Gordon Parks. The person who deals with enrollment was not in the office, so the front office person suggested I call the magnet office, which I did not know existed until that moment.

Finally, I called the magnet office, explained the situation for the third time, requesting either denial or removal of our application for our daughter to attend Gordon Parks, so we could get our daughter enrolled in Hamilton. After explaining the whole sad story, the person at the magnet office said she would look into it and give me a callback. After 15 minutes, I get a callback, with good news, our daughter was not actually removed from Gordon Parks, and that I had to complete the application I had started, which I had already completed. It turns out that she was looking at the wrong screen in their system, once she realized that she was on the wrong screen, she saw the completed application and approved it.

While I am relieved to have resolved the situation, I am also pissed off that our daughter has had to suffer, missing six weeks of school, due to either a lack of training in the use of their computer systems or simple incompetence. Either way, this is totally unacceptable, USD259 has failed our daughter.

FINAL WORDS

The 2021/22 school year has been a clusterfuck from day one, from announcing there would be no mask mandate for staff and students days before the start of school, to reversing that decision one week later, but deferring enforcement for another week, to this sad situation getting our daughter into school. If the mask mandate was enforced from day one, we and many other parents would not have even applied for Imagine Academy, Wichita Schools online alternative, and had our kids in a physical school.


F1 Italian GP 2021: Verstappen Vs Hamilton, the new Senna Vs Prost?

Hamilton Vs Verstappen, Senna Vs Prost 30 years on?

The F1 driver’s title protagonists, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, like Silverstone, the last race where we had a sprint qualifying event, collided at turn one on lap 26, this time, both drivers were out of the race.  Meanwhile, McLaren claimed a 1 — 2 finish, their first win in nine years, as incredible as that sounds, and it was Daniel Ricciardo who led Lando Norris home, for his first win since Monaco 2018.

I’m so happy to see McLaren back at the top, even if it’s just one race, it’s crazy to think that a multiple title-winning team like McLaren has not been on the top step of the podium since Brazil 2012 when Jenson Button won the race. Daniel Ricciardo has been struggling since he joined McLaren, being outdriven by his young teammate, Lando Norris, but today, Daniel won the race on merit, he got a better start than Verstappen to lead from the first corner, where he stayed for the entire race. And for good measure, his McLaren had pace in hand, as he claimed an extra point for fastest lap on the final lap.

McLaren stablemate, Lando Norris took full advantage of the restart after the safety car caused by the collision between Hamilton and Verstappen. Norris got better drive out of Variante del Rettifilo, to overtake Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc on the inside of Curva Grande to make it a McLaren 1 — 2.

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had a stormer of a race, after qualifying on pole, by winning the sprint “race” on Saturday afternoon, he took an engine penalty to start from the back of the field, which put Verstappen on pole. It was a supreme drive from the Finnish driver,  there was a time during the race where he was 1.5 seconds a lap faster than the race leaders, but Red Bull’s Sergio Perez put a stop to Bottas’ charge, but ultimately stood on the podium as Perez was handed a five-second time penalty for overtaking Leclerc while off track, the stewards judged “Car 11 left the track in turn 5 and gained a lasting advantage“.

Briton, George Russell, who was announced as teammate for Lewis Hamilton for 2022 at Mercedes earlier in the week impressed again, despite being out-qualified by Williams teammate, Nicolas Latifi, finished two places ahead of Latifi to claim 2 points for himself and Williams, finishing in ninth place. With Russell taking Bottas’ seat at Mercedes, the Finn will replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo for 2022, that’ll definitely be an adjustment after driving for the leading team for the past 5 years.

I’m looking forward to seeing what George can do at Mercedes against Hamilton, it has been reported that Russell has been promised he will receive equal treatment, but we’ll see how that works out. Hamilton claims he relishes a challenge for the win, but in my opinion, he’s a whiny bitch, we’ve seen it this season with the challenge from Verstappen, George will be more of a challenge than Bottas, for sure!

Time to get to the meat of the story and title of my write-up, the collision that ended the race for both Verstappen and Hamilton at turn 2. Let’s start with the red mist for Verstappen, the Dutchman was displeased after his pitstop was significantly delayed, spending 11 seconds stationary in his pit box, causing him to drop to the lower ranks of the top 10 after running in second before entering the pits.

Red Bull’s slow stop is what brought the title rivals wheel to wheel at the first chicane, Hamilton leaving the pitlane, while Verstappen was at full speed approaching the end of the main straight into Variante del Rettifilo. Verstappen was very late on the brakes to be alongside Hamilton as the pair went into turn 1, Verstappen was forced onto the sausage curbs, which launched the Red Bull into Hamilton’s Mercedes, ending in the Red Bull flying over the top of Hamilton’s Mercedes, taking out his roll hoop camera, before hitting Hamilton’s halo, which almost certainly saved Hamilton’s life in today’s scary incident.

I personally, like all the former racing drivers on the Sky Sports F1 team, called it a racing incident, but the stewards decided otherwise, putting the majority of the blame on Verstappen for making the overtake attempt too late. Like the incident at Silverstone, which I also thought was a racing incident, when going wheel to wheel, contact is always a possibility, health & safety F1 is ruining the spectacle once more.

The punishment for Verstappen is a 3 place grid penalty for the next race in Russia. Which, I believe to be disproportionate, given that Hamilton took out Verstappen at Silverstone, got a 10-second time penalty, and continued on to win the race, while Verstappen was in the barrier with a destroyed car, also costing him a power unit, which teams only have three of for the 2021 season before penalties are issued.

For sure, this is only going to escalate, much like the Senna — Prost battles in the late 80s, hence the title I chose. What concerns me is the stewards and their decision-making. If anything, the track design with the sausage curbs was the reason for the collision, when Lewis squeezed Max, it was the sausage curb that launched the Red Bull into the Mercedes. If those sausage curbs were not there, Verstappen probably would have taken the lead, and would have needed to yield back the position to avoid a penalty. This is a racing incident, two drivers racing hard, coming together into a tight chicane.

What gets me is that the stewards said in their ruling, that Hamilton “could have steered further from the kerb to avoid the incident”, which in my opinion puts equal blame on the Briton, racing incident. I wish that the FIA would let drivers race, crashes happen, stop ruining the spectacle that Formula 1 should be.

Ending this write-up on a positive note, well done Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, and the entire McLaren F1 team, it’s amazing to see the woking based team back on the top step of the podium, it’s been way too long since the last occurrence. Also, well done George Russell and Williams, I have always had a soft spot for Williams, despite George leaving for Mercedes at the end of the season, I hope that Williams, under new ownership, can continue to improve to become a front-running team once again, it was painful seeing the Grove based team languishing down at the rear of the field as an also-ran.


President Biden playing hardball on COVID-19 vaccinations

 President Biden playing hardball on COVID-19 vaccinations

With over 1/4 of Americans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, almost 80 million, being unvaccinated, President Joe Biden gave a televised address to the nation concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that almost a quarter of America is still unvaccinated, despite the vaccine being free, easily accessible, and FDA approved, the final thing, FDA approval, being what many cited as the reason for waiting!

A year and a half since this pandemic hit the US, and we are back up to the numbers of January 2021, with the most recent seven-day average being 136,558 new cases, 11,754 hospitalizations, and 1,077 deaths, according to the CDC. In my opinion, nine months after the vaccine was released, this is too high, especially with the vaccine being free, and available in many locations without an appointment, you can literally go to a Walgreens or CVS, pick up your regular medications and get a COVID-19 vaccine.

President Biden has said he will sign executive orders which will force healthcare workers, whose facilities receive money from Medicaid and Medicare, federal executive branch employees and contractors who work with the federal government, to get vaccinated, and will require private companies with 100 or more employees to either enforce vaccinations or weekly testing for COVID-19 for their employees.

Of course, the GOP is screaming FREEDOM from the rooftops, calling on people and companies to rise up against the Tyrany of the radical left, which is a joke, Biden is nowhere near the far left, he’s a centrist through and through. We are 19 months into this pandemic and the COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death stats are trending upward once again. So, I applaud President Biden for his harder stance, this is a national emergency, and without firm action, it’s going to get worse. How many deaths are acceptable? 659,000 Americans have already died from COVID-19, increasing by 1,000 – 1,200 per day.

School districts in California are poised to require that all students eligible for the vaccine, get vaccinated. We already have mandates for vaccinations to attend school for children’s illnesses like mumps, measles, and rubella. So, why not mandate vaccination for a virus that has killed over 650,000 Americans, including children? I’m not sure whether it’s possible, as schools are locally administered, but could the federal Department of Education hand down a mandate to vaccinate all children old enough for the vaccine?

I hear from many people, including media personalities like Tucker Carlson, that forcing your child to wear a mask is child abuse. You know what is child abuse, not doing everything you can to protect your child from this deadly virus. Wearing a piece of cloth over your mouth and nose, and getting a vaccine where available, is a small price to pay to know that your child is as protected as possible.

Call me a member of the radical left, but my view is that if your freedom is putting millions of people’s lives at risk, your freedom needs to be put on the back burner, I value people’s lives over your freedom.

Of course, we know that legal challenges to Biden’s executive orders are coming from the right, and we will see how that goes. Hopefully, judges will throw their challenges out, but we’ll have to wait and see. What is the truth is that with one quarter of Americans unvaccinated, COVID-19 is going nowhere, whether or not, Biden’s orders survive the legal challenges, it’s the right thing to do, clearly people cannot be trusted to use their best judgment, because they have all drunk the right-wing media Koolaid

On a personal level…

I got my second dose yesterday, so I am now fully vaccinated, should I have gotten it sooner? yes, but I work from home and rarely go out, probably not the best justification for waiting, but I always wore a mask and was socially distancing whenever I did have to venture out. My wife and son are also fully vaccinated, although we did have a scare recently with our son, who got sick with symptoms of Coronavirus, thankfully, after being tested, his test came back as negative. It’s scary that in these times, when anyone gets sick with a garden variety virus, our immediate thought is that it is COVID-19.


Drug me up, baby!

Drug me up, baby

A few weeks back, I developed a very nasty staph infection on the back of my right leg just above my knee. It started with a burning, itching sensation, which started to swell up, before filling up with blood and puss. I simply covered and wrapped my leg, hoping my body could fight it off. But, it was not to be, I broke down and visited the doctor’s office, where I was given some Mepilex silicone absorbent foam dressings, an antibiotic shot, and was prescribed a 10-day course of Sulfameth/Trimethoprim antibiotics.

This is the first time I had been to see a doctor in more than three years, my previous doctor’s office felt like a cattle call, I never felt like they really cared, and that I was a walking dollar symbol, often not getting seen until 30 to 60 minutes after my appointment time. Ultimately, because my employer changed insurance providers, I was no longer able to see that particular doctor, as he was now out of network.

But, this doctor’s office, Healthcore Clinic here in Wichita, is much different, I feel like they care, they take the time to listen and diagnose my physical and mental health issues, and I get seen within a few minutes of my appointment time. And, they have a sliding scale billing system, so I will not be bankrupted by a doctor’s office visit, which is an issue in the US, medical care is crazy expensive, a 30-minute visit to the ER for a spider bite cost close to $3,000, thankfully, this is being covered by workers compensation.

Getting to the title of this blog, I already knew I had type 2 diabetes, which has basically gone untreated, mainly because of my own stubbornness, but also due to fear of running up significant medical bills when we are already drowning in debt. But we also found out after some lab work, that I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, so now I am on Metformin, Lisinopril, and Atorvastatin, in addition to Levofloxacin antibiotics as my leg infection has not fully healed after the previous 10-day course.

I always make sure my family’s health needs are taken care of, while neglecting myself. My wife keeps pointing out that I can’t look after them if I don’t take care of myself. She’s right, but my stubbornness has probably caused significant damage to my body. This infection has been a wake-up call, I need to see a doctor, take my meds, especially as all these issues I am taking medication for runs in my family.


CDC eviction moratorium extension vacated by US Supreme Court!

No more eviction moratorium

I’m going to start this write-up by saying, I have sympathy for those who have fallen on hard times due to COVID-19, it’s a crappy situation for tenants and landlords alike in these unprecedented COVID times.

As someone who works in property management, I have seen firsthand the hardship that landlords have experienced due to the eviction moratorium, some not receiving any rent for 16 months, while still having to pay for the upkeep of their properties, mortgages (please note, that the moratorium, only applies to federally backed mortgages), property taxes, utilities, etc, from their savings, or by acquiring debt. We have seen long-held rental properties being sold, instead of continuing to hemorrhage money.

I hear lots of anger towards landlords and management companies, with such phrases as “they make lots of money”, and “they can afford it”. But, the reality is, especially in the midwest, the vast majority of landlords have a handful of single-family home rentals or a single property with 100 units, NOT making a lot of profit. Yes, there are some massively profitable national corporations who own tens of thousands of units across the nation, but most are small landlords trying to make a living from renting homes.

There are a lot of people who genuinely are unable to pay, or are not able to pay the full rental rate amount, but there are also others taking advantage, based upon comments from some on social media. For example, tenants have received thousands of dollars in stimulus checks from the Trump and Biden administrations, which was spent on technology, or a new (to them) car, but nothing for their landlord. The issue is that many seem to think that it’s free rent, eventually getting evicted, and just moving on. The reality is very different, as soon as they apply for a new rental home, they’ll find that the prospective landlord will deny their application because of the eviction and a delinquent balance elsewhere.

I don’t often agree with the conservatives on the Supreme Court, but in this case, I do agree with them in regard to the vacating of the CDC eviction moratorium. Clearly, Congress is not interested in passing legislation to create a new eviction moratorium, and/or further assistance for renters, they’ve had plenty of time to write and enact a new law, but instead have sat with their thumbs up their collective asses.

It’s an untenable situation, extending the moratorium, just kicks the can down the road, it does not fix the issue, if anything, it makes it worse, their balance increases, making paying off that rent balance near impossible. Clearly, the government and CDC have no plan for the future. In many states, much of the $50 billion in rental assistance from the federal government still has not been disbursed five months later.

Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its third wave, with infection rates back to winter 2020/21 numbers, and some states, particularly Texas and Florida are experiencing their highest number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since this pandemic started a year and a half ago. Dr. Anthony Fauci is now saying if people wear masks and get vaccinated, we could have Coronavirus under control by Spring 2022, but with a third of the US being anti-mask, anti-vax, or both, that is being optimistic.

Circling back to the CDC eviction moratorium, if it is to be extended consistently due to COVID-19 infections still rising across the United States, no landlord would get another cent, until people’s attitude to COVID-19, masks, and vaccinations change, COVID-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

I see plenty of tweets from US Congresspeople calling out the SCOTUS decision, saying they are on the wrong side of history, while Congress, as a whole, consistently passed the buck, watching the Moratorium expire at the end of July, before the CDC’s unconstitutional extension of the moratorium.

So, Congress, are you going to act to help renters and landlords? the ball is in your court, stop passing the buck, looking around for someone else to act! The Supreme Court has acknowledged that Congress has the power to create legislation to extend the eviction moratorium and force states to immediately distribute rental assistance,  rental assistance is useless sitting in states coffers, collecting interest.


Wichita BOE reverse course, mandate masks after 8 school days!

Wichita schools mandate masks indoors after just 8 days of school

13 days ago, I wrote an irritated blog explaining our reason for not sending our 11-year-old daughter back to in-person school, after the Wichita Board of Education, shortsightedly, in my opinion, chose to just “strongly encourage”, not mandate wearing a mask. A recommendation, which, from what I can see, the majority of students are ignoring, my high school senior son told me that maybe 1/4 of students wear a mask, and you have to wonder, how many of those maskless students have been vaccinated?

At last Monday night’s USD 259 BOE meeting, the board unanimously voted for a mask mandate starting next Monday, August 30, 2021. Earlier in the day, Gov. Laura Kelly urged Kansas school districts to mandate wearing masks, driven by new figures which show Kansas COVID-19 hospitalizations higher than we have seen since the start of this pandemic, putting a massive strain on the state’s hospitals.

The board listened to advice from Gov. Kelly, state and local public health experts, and opinions from parents, before voting 6 — 0 in favor of a mask mandate. Which, in my opinion, should have been the decision 13 days ago, given the stupidity of many in our community, who are anti-mask, and anti-vax, we cannot trust these people to do the right thing and get vaccinated and wear a mask around others.

The inevitable backlash has started on social media, with the anti-maskers vowing that they’ll unenroll their children if they are forced to wear a mask, claiming wearing a mask is child abuse. I say, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”, We pulled our daughter out when we realized that masks were not to be mandated, our daughter is 11 and unable to be vaccinated, and my wife is immunocompromised, that’s an unacceptable risk for us. in Wichita alone, 194 students and 51 teachers have tested positive for COVID-19, and 1,600 students are in quarantine, and that’s after just eight days of school.

If you, as a parent, risk your child’s life because you feel your freedom is being infringed, that is child abuse! In my opinion, wearing a mask is better than wearing a ventilator or laying in a casket. I’ve heard people claim that wearing a mask is an infringement of their constitutional rights! Is wearing a seatbelt also an infringement of your constitutional rights? Is being forced to have your children vaccinated for regular childhood viruses, to attend school, a constitutional infringement? If you, the parent want to die on that hill, go ahead, but don’t force your children, and other’s children, to die on the hill with you!

The bottom line, we are still in this pandemic because of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, which is ironic, as if they wore a mask, got vaccinated, maybe we would not have needed this mask mandate? But, instead, right-wing media have publicized dubious “scientific studies”, including the likes of Fox News, indoctrinating millions of people, who then parrot those fake talking points, radicalizing more people.

So, I now need to talk with my wife about possibly returning our daughter back to school next Monday. A mask mandate may be in place, but how effective will it be? if the child holds the same beliefs as their parents, I have no reason to believe they will keep their mask on, or even rip my daughter’s mask off. During this pandemic, this sort of behavior has been rare but has happened, it’s been caught on camera. Literally, people have been abused for wearing a mask, by Karen’s and Ken’s, so much for freedom, eh?

Addendum (Aug, 25 2021, 14:25)

Our friends, who have their children in the neighboring Derby school district, found out last night that their eldest daughter had potentially been exposed to COVID-19 after one of her classmates tested positive. The exposure date was last week, and the school district only notified them yesterday, five days after the potential exposure. Clearly, school districts are not equipped to handle in-person school during these COVID times, how many other children were indirectly exposed while their daughter was still attending school? It’s affected our household too, as my wife and daughter were at their house over the weekend, now my wife has to take time off work, while she waits for her COVID-19 test results.


Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK!

Mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, UK

In the US, where I have lived for 13 years, mass shootings are commonplace, in the neighborhood where I currently live in Wichita, Kansas, I hear gunshots ring out 2 to 3 times each week. But to hear the breaking news on Thursday, that there had been a mass shooting in my hometown of Plymouth, in the southwest of the UK was shocking to me, because the UK does not have a gun culture like the US.

Thankfully, none of my Plymouth-based friends have been harmed in the incident where five people have died as a result of the shooter, whose motive seems to be because he was an incel, i.e. involuntarily celibate. An idealogy that women are to blame for their inability to form relations and have a sex life.

The five victims were, first, the shooter’s mother, Maxine Davison, age 51, who on social media he had labeled “vile, dysfunctional and chaotic”, followed by father and daughter, Lee Martyn, age 43, and Sophie Martyn, age 3. The final two victims were Stephen Washington, age 59, and Kate Shepherd, age 66. The sad thing is that the final four victims were in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a parent myself, the murder of a 3-year-old is heartbreaking, even more so, when the shooters’ actions were due to not being able to get someone to have sex with him, a senseless reason for the death of five people.

Clearly, there were mental health issues, most people who are 22-year-old virgins don’t go on a murderous rampage. A Daily Beast article, reports the shooter was denied help, with the NHS using their lack of staff as a reason to not treat the shooter, and local Devon & Cornwall Police failed to do a welfare check, at the family’s request. Clearly, there were failures, we cannot use mental health as a scapegoat, it was a failure of the system, a failure that could have saved six lives, including the shooters.

Compared to the US, the UK has tight gun laws, where handguns are outright banned, and shotguns and rifles are strictly regulated, where a person needs to have a specific reason for owning a firearm, such as for sports or work-related reasons, followed by many other background checks including talking to the applicants’ doctors, family and friends, looking for red flags, clearly this failed on this occasion.

In the days after the shooting, it has been revealed that the shooter had his gun license revoked in December 2020, after he was accused of assaulting a 16-year-old boy at a local skate park, only to have his gun license reinstated in July 2021 by D&C Police. I hope a full investigation is forthcoming and changes made to the system to stop this from happening again in the future. Shootings are rare in the UK, but clearly, the system failed at some point, we need to identify and fix the procedure that failed.

Devon & Cornwall Police have said that it was not terror-related, but others have suggested that a reevaluation of what is considered terrorism is needed, due to the increasing number of violent attacks around the world by self-identified Incels, a group of people, whose politics often lean right, and are misogynists, believing that women owed them sex, a clear mental health disorder in my view.

As I eluded to in my opening paragraph, mass shootings in the US are so common that unless 10 or more people are killed, it doesn’t get reported by the national media. We are so desensitized to gun deaths that unless a dozen people are killed, it’s just part of life in the USA, and we accept it as an everyday occurrence. The shooting in Plymouth is so shocking as I don’t remember a single shooting in my 45 years in my hometown. My thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims of this senseless crime.