Saturday, October 16, 2021

Friday 5 for October 15: We learned more from a three-minute record, baby - Long Reply at the End

 Friday 5 for October 15: We learned more from a three-minute record, baby: From Scrivener's weekly Friday 5 blog.

1. Who needs you? 

My special friend Lisa who is disabled, always needs me. I try to care for her best as I can within my limited resources.

2. Who runs to you?

I don't have pets or kids, and it is good that no one runs to me. I usually run from people that I want to avoid.

3. Who forgets you?

I wish some people would forget about me. I know others have, and that is a good thing. I generally like to be under the radar.

4. Who keeps you hangin’ on?

See #1.

5. Who’s watching you? 

This is a huge question with a song that is more timely today than ever. It's not only "who" is watching you, but "what" is also watching you. 

Your smartphone is tracking your every move online and even in the physical world. It can be an iOS device or an Android or something else. The darn things are spying on you. 

Installed apps, the operating system, the internet, the entities behind the apps you install and your cell phone service provider are all watching you... tracking EVERYTHING you do on that cell phone and often when you are not on it. It's creepy.

I reluctantly became a cell phone owner in 2014 and have owned at least 4 phones over the past seven years. Currently two of them have active service, one is semi active as a wifi only device, the others are less functional due to their older operating systems and fading 3G technology. Still to some degree, all have the power to track you through bluetooth, wifi, cell phone data, GPS and tower triangulation.

Law enforcement and many governments like the fact that most people carry a cell phone everywhere they go. Commit a crime? First thing law enforcement checks is your cell phone and social media accounts. Government? Lately with COVID-19 they want you to voluntarily install apps to "keep safe". From what? Don't! Even though they say they don't track you... never trust the government.

Then there is the private sector. All the big tech players love it when you use their phones, apps and operating systems. We are talking about Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and thousands of other entities that use the "free" apps to track you. They want to learn about your whereabouts, online browsing habits, what you buy, what you engage in, etc., etc., etc. Just thinking about it is overwhelming.

So what do I do? I can't totally eliminate tracking as long as I carry some cell phone or another. Since my heart attack in 2015, I feel I should at least carry one phone that can do at least 911. All phones that are 4G LTE can call 911 whether they have cell service or not. Older 3G and 2G phones can still do 911 but their days are number as the major cell phone service providers will turn off the older networks by next year.

So minimally I carry my Alcatel flip phone with me. It is 4G LTE with limited internet functionality running on KaiOS, a fork of the now defunct FirefoxOS. Kai OS is a popular low cost cell operating system found in many third world countries. A few of the devices are available in the U.S. What attracted me to KaiOS was the low price for the device ($20 at target) and low price for the Tracfone service (approx. $22 a month for unlimited talk and text with bankable data of 1GB per month). Upon getting this phone, I cut my landline which cost about $35 a month with taxes and fees.

Most of the KaiOS apps are vary limited, web based extensions. Many are not mainstream for the model of phone I have. Their tracking is very limited. None of the Hawaii government apps can work on my phone. That is good. I installed only a small handful of third party apps on this device that mostly handle podcasts, internet radio streams, offline games, and an RSS reader. It also has a built in FM radio that does not require any data stream since it just picks up signals from local towers. The phone came pre-installed with a lousy web browser, utility apps, calculator and note taker. The worst thing about the phone is T9 texting and anything else you have to type with a 9 function keyboard.

I do have two smartphones... one is the Pixel 4a which I bought mainly for its camera functions and the fact that I can still use Google Photos for free with any image I shoot with the camera / phone. Plus it is a modern smartphone with 4G LTE and does everything all other smartphones can do. I don't do any banking or online purchases with this thing. None of those types of apps reside on the phone. Since the phone was unlocked and not tied to any carrier, it only came with core Google apps, many of which I deleted. I try to keep third party app installations at a minimum. No games. No social media apps. Most social media can be browsed using Chrome or my favorite browser, Duck Duck Go. Definitely no government apps installed here. At the current time this phone is connected to T-Mobile on a shared senior plan.

My third cell phone is the Samsung Galaxy J7 that I recently retired from active service. It is now a stay at home only, wifi device where I still have several third party apps installed such as Pluto TV, Prime Video, YouTube Music, Spotify, Audible, Stitcher and several others. Since this phone goes nowhere now, I think it is relatively safe enough to use those types of apps. If I do take it out, it can at least call 911 when needed, and with a couple of wifi only phone apps, I can do a phone call if I can find free wifi. I do no banking or online purchases with this.

That is where my Mac and Chromebook comes in. These devices stay at home 99% of the time and I do most of my computing on that. Sadly all of the concerns I have with phones, privacy and tracking apply to computers.

As long as we are hooked up to the internet in some way, we are always being watched, tracked, nearly all day and all of the time. Someday when I can be more settled, I'd like to once again be cell phone free. Perhaps someday I will turn off T-Mobile and just use a dumb-phone as my main and only mobile device.


Friday, October 1, 2021

Friday 5 for October 1: Accessory to cinema

"Hello, and welcome to this week’s Friday 5! Please copy these questions to your webspace. Answer the questions there; then leave a comment below so we’ll all know where to check out your responses. Please don’t forget to link us from your website!"

1. What’s your favorite weapon in a movie?

I have a top 5:

  1. Death Star - Star Wars - annihilate entire planets. Yay!
  2. Borg Cube - Star Trek TNG movies - similar as above
  3. Photon Torpedoes - For smaller scale combat, Star Trek movies
  4. Phasers - multiple settings - stun, kill, whatever - Star Trek movies
  5. Guns of all types - generally deadly, in many movies

Under consideration - Bombs, nuclear warheads, etc. - fairly obsolete when you can blow an entire planet up with a Death Star. But the force and good luck can destroy a Death Star... so it is what it is.

2. What’s your favorite car in a movie?

Again another top 5.

  1. Batmobile - varies as to which movie it's in. Some were cool, others were not.
  2. 1982 DeLorean - The only car used in time travel "Back to the Future" movies
  3. Aston Martin - old car in old James Bond movies from 1962 to 1964.
  4. Herbie - VW Beetle in the "Love Bug" comedy movies
  5. 1970 Dodge Challenger - in movie "Vanishing Point"... Boom!

3. What’s your favorite cat or dog in a movie?

I don't know... maybe Soylents red, blue, yellow, brown... but not green. In 2022 the earth was overpopulated, food was in short supply. The Soylent company sold all of these snack crackers of different colors. Quite likely pets were repackaged as crackers.... and of course you know what "Soylent Green" was!!!! Muhahahaha!

I like cats but they don't make many cat movies that I can remember. Dogs... ugh!

4. Who’s your favorite sidekick in a movie?

R2D2, the little droid that could... and even fly!!! Most of the Star Wars movies.

5. What’s your favorite painting or sculpture in a movie?

I can't think of any except for the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man in "Ghostbusters."

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Friday 5 for September 24: Gripe session

Rainbows are way too overrated! 

The questions, as usual comes from Scrivener's Friday 5 Blog. Check it out.

OK... the negativity built up as I answered these questions. You have been warned. After all the topic is about "gripes". I'm full of 'em. Train!!!!!

1. What complaints do you have about this weekend?

Laundry and it's always too short.

2. What are your grievances with yourself?

Too many to list here. Plus you know, it is personal. Sometime don't you think these questions are mining our personal information? Hopefully none of you are into data harvesting. Be selective of which questions or even Friday 5's to post to. The host is probably not data harvesting but our answers are out there. There could be bots mining our information. 

Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, the government. We are products to be sold to the highest bidder... whatever. Makes you want to go back to the analog age. Paper, pencils, pens, typewriters and ugh.. underlining text!!!! Plus no internet. Heh.

3. What are your objections to rainbows, flowers, and puppies?

Too rosy, sappy, and disappointing; especially that legendary pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that have been elusive for all our lives! Today these objects are used for marketing kids stuff like My Little Pony. Oh.. and I am not a fan of dogs. Don't get me started on that.

4. What are your criticisms about your domicile?

Rules that I don't want to reiterate here. If you live in a building or community governed by Home Owners Association rules, be prepared for surprises. HOA boards are generally rigid and inflexible. 

5. What’s your beef with excessively negative people?

None because generally I am kind of negative myself. I am not one that is optimistic filled with visions of rainbows, flowers and most of all puppies. Yes I take photos of rainbows and flowers, and generally they make you feel good. Most of the time, flowers are pretty but when they dry up... well they are not photogenic at all. 

Puppies? They grow up to be dogs that require way too much attention, maintenance and cleaning up of their poo. Some of the aggressive dogs snarl, bark and may bite you. Plus I hate owners who feel they can just waltz into some retail establishment with their mutt, especially when you can clearly see that they are not a "service animal." 

Stores need to ENFORCE their no pets policy. 

Also did you know dogs and other pets are prohibited from Ala Moana Beach Park? You know dogs... they poo... and maybe in the sand??? Ugh. Why aren't the rules about animals not enforced???? 

All photos in this post Copyright 2021 Melvin Ah Ching Photos.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday 5 for September 10: Wolf!

Scrivener's weekly Friday 5 questions. Let's see how this goes. 
1. When are you the tortoise, and when are you the hare? 

I usually plod along with what I am doing, sometimes coming out ahead and sometimes behind. I am not very fast as I age. I wasn't fast when I was young either.

 2. When are you the grasshopper, and when are you the ants? 

I stock up on key items such as toilet paper, canned foods; stuff for emergencies. With a small place it is hard to keep much stuff stored.

3. When were you the lion, and when were you the mouse? 

I can roar like a lion when I am angry and sometimes I do get stuck. I have been known to be helpful to people I like.
4. Are you more like the town mouse or the country mouse? 

Even though I grew up in the country during the early years of my life, I can be considered more of a townie today. I love the convenience of being able to get food and other stuff when I like, even though danger is greater today as you have to avoid groups and standing near people due to COVID-19. Ugh!

I do like simple meals as they tend to be cheaper. I am not much of a gourmet food buyer since those types of foods are expensive, even if you have to make them. 

5. Which fable told in your childhood has resonated with you through the years?

I don't know if it is a fable, but I always liked Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling. ,

Friday, September 3, 2021

Catching Up With the Last Two Friday Fives

From Scrivener's weekly Friday 5 blog are these questions and these questions:


1. What did you do too much of this week?

Spent too much time watching YouTube (mostly music videos) and other streaming video sites. I stay at home, away from maddening, potentially COVID diseased crowds.

2. What did you not do enough of this week?

Clean my house. I need to get rid of excess stuff, clutter.

I hate these big ass cockroaches.

3. What surprised you this week?

An intrusive, invasive, B52 sized cockroach that trespassed into my living area the other night. Could not do anything else until that bastard was cornered and killed. I hate when they fly. Ugh! Disgusting creatures.

4. What elated you this week?

Nothing really. I don't get excited about much these days. 

5. What happened this week that’ll lead to something good next week?

Nothing significant that I can think of. I will eat, sleep, do stuff (hopefully) and repeat the cycle over again the following day. Being thankful that I did wake up to see another day, everyday is a good thing.

I have plenty of cameras in my collection.


1. What item do you own more than one of, while most people own exactly one?

I have plenty of cameras, flashes and other photography gear. Most people today who are not photographers, are satisfied using just their smartphone as a camera.

2. What item do you own none of, while most people own exactly one?

I haven't had a TV since my CRT one died in 2011. That is the same year I cut my cable cord. I now just stream everything that is TV or video related of my Mac and Chromebook computers, and occasionally a smartphone. 

I certainly don't have a CABLE TV subscription either. I subscribed to cable TV in 1984 and discontinued in 2011 when more streaming options became available. Plus the price of the standard TV package went up annually and frankly most of the channels offered in that bundle were ones I never watched like CNN, Lifetime, all sports, shopping, and music channels that morphed into stupid reality TV show channels. Why pay for crap you don't watch? 

So streaming via the internet became a good option even in 2011 when the only options were plain old YouTube (which was free) and for me Amazon Prime video which just came with Amazon Prime. So there.

Over the years many new, free streaming TV options have showed up and I use them all from time to time. When I am not paying for channels I don't watch I don't care.

PLUTO TV is the best FREE streaming option since they have close to 300 live channels on various subjects and genres. I like the news channels, some of the older show channels like all Star Trek The Next Generation. Other free streaming options I like include TUBI TV, Peacock (their free tier), the free YouTube service (grand-daddy of video streaming), and many others.

I'm still trying to figure out how to get free over the air TV signals on my computer without having to buy expensive gear. I guess I could buy a TV for that, but I don't want a smart TV with built in apps... just a dumb TV with a tuner that can get free over the air digital signals.

I also subscribe to two services: Amazon Prime (long time), Hulu ($2/mo. special to the end of November) and Apple TV (free one year promotion through T-Mobile). 

  1. 3. Among stuff you own, what item is most likely to be borrowed by an acquaintance?
Bluetooth speaker.

4. What item are you most likely to borrow from an acquaintance?


5. What did you most recently purchase and not use?

At this point in time, everything I recently purchased has been put into use.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday 5 for August 13: Scattergories Part 11!

This year I am going to do the one different letter per question method as generated by that Random Letter Generator, which I am kind of surprised is still in business for more than ten years. Most certainly the guy hosting that is not making any money on it... oh well... let's roll with this Mr. Scrivener..... My letters are in the graphic above and text below.


1. What’s something that recently exceeded your expectations?

C - COVID-19... and how it has gone from bad to worst. Our dystopian world continues with new proposals on dividing and conquering the placid population here. This is all due because of the new Delta variant of the virus. I guess we are all doomed to either obey or die. Often I think it is cheaper to die.

2. What snack from your childhood would you love to have right now?

T - Starting with that letter it would be a THREE MUSKETEERS chocolate candy bar.

3. What ailment do you suffer from?

W - Worries about all kinds of stuff. Life is stressful.

4. Which musical artist would be fun to hang out with?

F - Fleetwood Mac. I have no idea what that would be like. They always have tension within that group. I did meet Mick Fleetwood and hung with him and Steven Tyler for a few minutes way back in 2013. 

5. What’s something you’re looking forward to this weekend?

U - Uninterrupted video streaming of a movie or TV show I want to watch or uninterrupted sleep are things to look forward to.

OK until Scattergories next year have a great C T W F U day!

Friday, August 6, 2021

Friday 5 for August 6: Make it simple to last your whole life long

The five questions are garnered from Scriveners weekly Friday 5 blog.

1. What kiddie song do you still like as a grownup?

As I get older, I like this well known kiddie song less and less for every year that I age... roll the drum please...

1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU - Various Artists: It's probably the most sung and most popular song ever.

2. C is For Cookie - Cookie Monster / Sesame Street*

3. Yellow Submarine - The Beatles (Paul McCartney said it is a children's song)

4. The Hokey Pokey - Various artists first version by Ray Anthony

5. The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Time is Here) - The Chipmunks (David Seville)

6. Sing - The Carpenters

7. Jingle Bells - Various artists over the years.

8. The Bunny Hop - Ray Anthony / various artists for kids

9. Itsy Bitsy Spider - Various Artists / Carly Simon

10. Puff the Magic Dragon - Original by Peter, Paul & Mary

I was already too old when Sesame Street with all The Muppets premiered on TV... but I am familiar with the songs since my younger sister and brother watched it. Cookie Monster was and still is my favorite character on that series.

Click on the link below to get a short sample of all the songs on this list, or click on the graphic to listen to the entire list on Spotify.

2. When did a new* song most recently* get you excited?

There's plenty. I keep a blog of my Current Top 20 songs at this link. But for this week only, debuting at #15 on my chart is the kids punk rock band The Linda Lindas and "OH!". It's a shallow but fun song with all the right hooks in my book.

I participate on a message board system where other users publish their weekly charts of current songs. Fun stuff... I've been off and on through the years.

3. What song were you introduced to via television ad or as background in a movie or TV show?

Most influential song introduced to me when I first saw the movie? Of course it has to be STAR WARS, the opening theme by John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra. From the time I first heard it back in 1977, I said to myself, this is a GREAT song along with a GREAT score that clearly delineates the difference between good and evil. I mean Darth Vader had his own theme going which carried through the entire series, as well as Princess Leia and the other characters we all learned about in one of the most enduring movie series ever.

Every time that theme starts I can always reflect to when I first saw the original Star Wars back in the day for many times at Honolulu's Cinerama Theater from 1977 to 1978. Movies back then only cost $3.50 to see. Great times!

My second most favorite movie song has got to be THEME FROM JAWS also by John Williams. Lately I thought about taking a big boombox to the beach and playing this song. That would be funny.

The best TV theme song of all time is HAWAII FIVE-0 by Mort Stevens. The Ventures took this song to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. When I was going to high school we played it for school band. It remains a very popular marching and pep song at ball games in Hawaii and elsewhere.

My second favorite TV theme song is THEME FROM MIAMI VICE by Jan Hammer. That record is the last instrumental song to top the Billboard Hot 100 at #1. This was way back in 1985.

Best TV ad song that I remember:

I'd Like to Teach The World to Sing - Coca Cola (1971) - The New Seekers made this a top 20 hit back in 1972.

4. Which song’s opening lyric do you especially love?

When I was a kid the one song that caught me was "Sweet Nothins'" by Brenda Lee and the sexy, spoken word opener.... "Aha Honey... All Right" and then the song starts,"My baby whispers in my ear... ooh Sweet Nothins'"... This song was so gutsy at that time for my childhood ears (released in late 1959).  

It went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1960. I love the entire album this. song is on, Brenda Lee. Been loving Brenda Lee's music ever since.

Back when I was in college my room mate and I would always laugh at the beginning of this song: "Sucking wind.. slipping down the back road once again..." The title of the song is "Over the Hill" and it is on singer/guitarist John Stewart's most famous album Bombs Away Dream Babies, which features both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. This album came out in 1978. Nicks and Buckingham were busy after 1977's Rumours working on albums for their friends. These include Not Shy by Walter Egan and French Kiss by former Fleetwood Mac singer and guitarist, Bob Welch.

After all of this they re-grouped as Fleetwood Mac to record Tusk. Oh and they were also on tour in 1977, which included a concert at Honolulu's Blaisdell Center that I went to that December.

5. With which five songs would you begin a weekend-themed playlist?

I have hundreds if not thousands of playlists spread out over a number of devices (iPods, Mac computers, 4 Android phones (only one has active service), and Alcatel flip phone (not bad for a $20 MP3 player that can hold 32 gigs of music on a micro SD card... whop your jaws Apple!), various online services (YouTube Music, Spotify, Amazon Prime and, and about 100 cassettes that I still have in my home, most all mixed tapes made in the 1980s and 1990s.

So I have a playlist for any mood, any kind of music genre, and era that I want listen to all of the day and night, every week, month and year... oh boy.

That all said, I have no specific list for this weekend.

Here... sample or listen to my Spotify list of this week's Current Top 20 Hits according to Mel... These playlists are mostly rap and hip hop free zone. Enjoy.