Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

They're Watching Us: Apps and Conspiracy Theories

Last week I was sitting in the dealership’s waiting room while they put new tires on my Chevy Trax when I got an alert on my cell phone. It said that I had three flat tires and I needed to get my car serviced immediately. Spying devices might know a lot of things but they don’t know everything. That alert still cracks me up. 

From where I live I need to drive along a river to get to most of places I have to go. I’ve always feared sliding off the road and being submerged under water and no one would ever know what became of me. I suppose if I did end up underwater some day I'd get a text alert advising me that driving conditions are too wet to be driving. 

The off topic paragraph: (Have you noticed how often I write them?) Anyway, I was telling the service manager when I paid for my tires that I’ll only be back one more time before I’ll have to find another service center and he asked where I was moving. I told him. He handed me his card and said, “We’re down in the area every day. We can pick up your car and deliver it back to you.” We’re talking a distance of over 25 miles. This thirty-something guy always calls me ‘dear’ and sitting in the waiting room on more than one occasion I’ve paid attention to his conversations with other women waiting for their cars and I’ve never heard him call them ‘dear’. What’s up with that? It doesn’t matter, I would never do that---have my car picked up because I’ve seen those young ‘parts chasers’ that work there. When one of them drove my car from the front of the building to the back and he changed my radio station and moved my seat while driving my car a whole 200 feet. If one of those parts chasers took my car on a 50 mile round trip my Chevy would come back pimped out with a cell phone holder sticking to the dashboard, my Bluetooth setting changed and new faux zebra fur seat covers. Front and back.

Recently I got my Google Maps Monthly Timeline Report which told me I had been to 16 places in March, to three cities, drove 135 miles and spent 10 hours in my car. Intrusive? Yes, but think about how handy that would be for a controlling stalker husband or for old people who forget where they’ve been or you turn up missing because your car has been submerged in a river for weeks. I didn’t include how handy it would be for tracking your teenagers because they’d probably know how to turn off the Google app when they go to places that are not parent approved, then turn it back on again when they leave. Still, I hear there are other apps that will give real-time reports. You could be sitting at home in your underwear watching an episode of Fly Fishing in Alaska and your cell could alert you to the fact that your son and his girlfriend are rocking the back seat of your Ford Explorer in the parking lot of Walmart. “Wally World?” you’d grumble, “couldn't they find a more romantic place to park than Wally World?”

Speaking of spying on people I just read an article about the conspiracy theory regarding Bill Gates putting microchip tracking devices in the Covid-19 vaccines that the likes of Roger Stone and the Russian Communist Party had a heavy hand in spreading. It all started from a grain of truth about a study being funded by The Gates Foundation. It has nothing to do with micro-chipping or tracking people but the study is about the use of a special ink that’s being developed that can hold data and potentially be used like an invisible tattoo given at the same time a vaccination is injected. It would act like a digital certification that you’ve been vaccinated and could hold all the same information that we have printed on our vaccine cards. Welcome to the future where you get your temperature taken and an ink reader held up to your arm before being allowed on airplanes, into the Superbowl stadium or mega-large music venues. Fine by me as long as I get to proof-read the info in the ink before they put the invisible tattoo on me. Every time the doctor's office calls in a prescription I try to get them to correct misinformation in my file about which pharmacy to use and half the time they still get it wrong.

Not to fear, they haven't rolled out this technology yet so no one has been marked with an invisible ink tattoo, however the technology to do it is not far off. But reading about it got me to wondering why they don’t just give every vaccinated person a distinctive mark like the scars we got with our smallpox vaccinations. Mine is still visible after nearly 70 years, but I’m guessing pandemic experts don’t want to trust that some dimwit bubbas wouldn’t fake their vaccination scars thus helping to spread every Tom, Dick and Harry virus that comes along. (Not to mention the fact that those smallpox vaccination scars were caused by using live viruses which they don't make anymore.) 

Pandemics are going to be sweeping the earth more and more often, according to world health organizations, for reasons that have to do with human encroachment on nature and global warming and isn’t that just peachy-keen. There goes the lipstick industry as we all hide behind our masks? Do you think I could get a grant to study how young people will adapt to flirting without the use of their mouths? But seriously, I for one, admire Melinda and Bill Gates for using their money to help improve the health, sanitation, water and agriculture in developing countries---helping them helps us all---and for studying and funding solutions for controlling diseases and pandemics around the world. They are true Humanitarians and don't belong of the Enemies List of the Far Right. And that's all I'm going to say about that. ©

 
I didn't know you could make invisible ink this easily or I would have as a kid to keep my brother from reading my diaries. I did have a bottle of invisible ink that came in a spy kit but it got used up rather quickly. So the Gates ink tattoos really fascinate me.

30 comments:

  1. Well, it's no conspiracy theory that they are watching us, and I for one have no patience for it. Sometimes, the intrusiveness is merely amusing. hen I was having my car issues and was driving a rental, I was astonished to be admonished by a bodiless voice that it was "time to take a break," just as a steaming latté appeared on the car's console.

    On the other hand, any internet search used to overwhelm me with ads related to my search, and if I used my grocery store "savings card" for a new items, I'd be inundated within hours with ads for the same thing, online.

    Big Tech has become as problematic as Big Government, and perhaps moreso: both for workers at the companies (Amazon) and for consumers (the whole bunch). From the beginning, I've seen it coming, and have chosen not to participate: no Siri, no Alexa, no health apps, no more grocery store cards, no 'smart' phone or 'smart' appliances. I'm not a technophone, and I'm certainly not a Luddite -- I'm typing on a computer connected to the internet, after all! But I'm cautious, and I cherish my privacy. Somehow, I'm managing to survive.

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    1. I think we'd all survive a lot better if we had a little less tracking in our online lives. I, too, am careful about what I search and I never, ever click on a Facebook story or do those quiz others seem so fond of sharing.

      My smart phone isn't smart enough to have Siri or Alexa but I love having Alexa on my Kindle and she gets a royal work out each morning when I have her to spell, define and pronoun works when I'm writing. That's amazingly helpful to me and time saver.

      And those health apps! Anyone who doesn't think they will end up effecting your insurance rates is fooling themselves. I, too, don't use the grocery store 'savings cards' because no one needs to track what I'm eating except me.

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  2. Google Maps Monthly Timeline Report? I don't know about those and that's fine by me, but I am fascinated to know such a thing exists. I don't put much stock in any conspiracy theories because people are stupid. [Not you, of course, but most of them anyway.] To have a conspiracy requires smarts which the aforementioned people don't have, thus what we are left with are conspiracy creator wannabes. And I have no time for wannabes.

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    1. When conspiracy theories are deconstructed 99% of them start from a tiny grain of truth that gets blown up, changed and added to. Like the one I wrote about. I think the truth is more fastening than the lie that Roger Stone was spreading.

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  3. If you're online at all, in any capacity, you put up with a They. It's a tradeoff. I don't dwell on stuff like that. I do what I can to secure my privacy and my transactions. But I don't walk on the Crazy Side. We all see what that leads to.

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    1. I agree, if I was all that paranoid about getting spied on, I sure wouldn't be a blogger. Like you said, it's a tradeoff and there are many things I love ab out being online.

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  4. Had to smile about your three flat tires. At least you know that app works. Thanks for the explanation about Bill and the "chip" folks fear. I had wondered how that was supposed to work when I heard about the theories. Like you, I believe he does a ton of good and have no problems with him nor his wife.

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    1. That's exactly what I thought when I got the 3 flat tires text.

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  5. I have an app on my phone that identifies where I sm.in my car. I only turn it in when I'm on the road so my daughter can stop texting me asking how long before I get to her house (or my son the same) but I can see how it would be helpful in future years.

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    1. Apps are like everything else in life. They are not inherently good or evil, it's how they are used and by whom they are used by that makes them one or the other.

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  6. My middle son had AFib last week and his Apple watch was able to take an ECG that he could share with his cardiologist. He went to the hospital for a cardioversion where they zapped his heart to get it back in rhythm. He is back to normal and can check his watch to reassure himself! You are right that technology is amazing when used for good!

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    1. My sister-in-law had an app that was hooked into a bathroom scale and each morning and night it would give readings to her doctor who would then call with an adjusted dosage of a medication she took for her kidneys. Technology like that ECG saves lives! I only wish they'd had that when my husband had his AFib which probably caused is his massive stroke and the aftermath that went with it.

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  7. I hadn't realized that AFib probably caused your husband's stroke. That's heartbreaking because nowadays they might have a more effective treatment.

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    1. I know and five years after he had they came out with that new drug where if you get to the hospital within a 4 hour window of the start of the stroke they can pretty much reserve the stroke's worst damages. I saw a film of a woman getting it a one of Don's therapies and sat there crying my eyes out with the what if's we missed.

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  8. I recall in the 90s when Caroline Kennedy had a book out called Our Right To Privacy. I saw her interviewed about this many many times. She was saying it will only get worse. It has. We will have everything track us and we do now. Our tv programming is watched. If you record something it keeps that info. You shows are tracked through your cable or satellite company. Then of course with the invention of streaming they track what you do. They track you through work, school, everything we do now. There is no way to avoid it. My gosh I went to my GI doctor and she pulled up all my medications and I had never been there before or told them any of this. They had stuff on me that blew my mind when I asked. If any of us thinks there is a way around this other than living with no electricity on a mountain top we are kidding ourselves. Some think staying off social media will help. Nope, they will still find you sadly enough.

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    1. You are so right. Using all cash helps a little bit when you go to stores and restaurants but there is no turning back the tide on all the tracking that goes on. Still, I will not do online quiz's. That just makes it too easy for them.

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  9. Hehehehe! Your post made me chuckle more than once, Jean. Well done. Got my microchip...er...vaccine yesterday and am feeling a little tough today as there is a war being waged inside my body. One that my immune system is going to win. Go, antibody production! Woo hoo!!!

    Deb

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    1. Thank you. Glad your immune system is working. It's a good feeling to feel lousy after your shots. LOL

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  10. Anyone who is on the far right enemies list, you can bet is a decent, kind and empathetic person.

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  11. I'm of mixed feelings on this. Part of me finds it convenient -- I love getting the Meijer flyer with coupons for things I usually buy with good discounts. And really, do I care if anyone knows what I watch on TV or buy? Sure, the email ads/spam gets annoying, but hey, that's why I have a delete button. And as for the vaccine chip -- I figure we are already so tracked, if there WAS a chip that would help us keep better health or alerts (and I don't think there is -- yet) wouldn't I want to know? Besides, if I'm not doing anything wrong, bad or illegal, why would I care? Frankly, I wouldn't mind a few tracking devices when I travel on my own so if I'm carjacked by crazy people, someone might find me while I'm still alive enough to testify!

    It comes down to not making poor decisions, guarding your data appropriately, not answering those fb quizzes (what your favorite color tells about you!) and not falling for scams that may be based on your history. No matter how vigilant we are, tech will be one step ahead of us -- but we don't have to respond to everything of anything we see.

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    1. I pretty much feel the same way. For kids, old people and pets, tracking devices serve a useful purpose. LOL And as long as my food buying habits and my health insurance company are not comparing notes I really don't care if store track what I buy. Same with watch I watch, read or listen to. But I don't like age targeted advertising because I'd rather see it for all age brackets...to know what's out there that's new.

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  12. You bring up some interesting thoughts to ponder. It will be fascinating to see how our culture evolves since this pandemic and what sort of technology affecting our privacy will be incorporated into our lives. I expect increasingly some will have to go along to get along though they may not want to do so.

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    1. Laws to protect us against new technology have always lagged behind their inventions and common use. The best example is probably in the car industry with seat belts. I'm old so I don't mind going along to get along if it's for the public good.

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  13. I long ago gave up thinking "they" didn't know what I was doing. My DD has a PhD in Geography, and when I heard what they are gleaning from cell phone signals downloaded from satellites, well...let's just say Bill Gates doesn't really need to chip us. LOL. Sometimes I find it amusing. Mostly I just consider it the cost of the good side of technology. And I do really like seeing law enforcement track some creep by cell phone data. As for the vaccine, I can see how knowing who has had it could be helpful for all of us. OH, and like Jeanie above, I love getting Meijer coupons for things I buy regularly. :-)

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    1. Those satellite downloads are reason enough for me not to do banking on them. Back when they first put a tower up near where my parents lived, you could sit underneath it and hear conversations people were having. I doubt that's true anymore but I'm talking about a really early tower.

      As for Bill Gates, he's right to think the world is too small not to have all countries using the same system to keep track of who's had what vaccines and we can't trust people not to lose or doctor their paper records. If restricting travel of a few means whole countries are saved from the next pandemic, I'm all in.

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  14. Big Brother IS watching us now... Orson Welles and "1984" weren't far off or far fetched really. Now I'm just waiting for "War of The Worlds" to kick off... or the "Zombie Apocalypse"...

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    1. Kind of feels like the War of the Worlds as just started.

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  15. I try to be careful but not paranoid. Which likely makes me inconsistent in my tech use. I feel better I know I err on the side of caution, but someone somewhere knows a lot about me anyway. Sign of the times....and my younger friends think our worrying is a bit on the silly side. Time will tell.

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    1. Same with me. I was stalked once for three months before the guy was caught and that was before the age of computers. Younger people could get whatever they want to know about us online but no sense making it too easy for them. I'm more concerned with all the stuff those so-called harmless quizzes you see on Facebook. Many of them come from Russian troll farms. Why?

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