Never Thought The Weather Channel Would Be So Shady

Everyone who owns a smartphone probably has the Weather Channel app installed on the first few pages of their screen. I personally refer to it several times a day because I’m always interested in the weather in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and London. I have family and friends in those locations, so I’m curious if they are experiencing hot or cold weather.

The weather is so unpredictable. Guess what? So is the weather channel app. We just found out that the app, owned by IBM, has been secretly tracking our every step and then selling the information to third party sources for profit.

The app has been downloaded 100 million times. That means others now have information on all of us that we don’t necessarily want anyone to know about.

Most of us have been tricked into turning on the locator option that tracks our every move. People who you never met know how many times you have gone to the hair salon, bank, psychiatrist, gym and other places you wanted to keep confidential.

Find out what some users are doing to combat this. Look at the video.You may want to join forces with them.

A PR Coup

I know that many of you must be wondering what the Bird Box challenge is all about, and why it is constantly being talked about on the Internet. It took me a while to understand what was going on, but when I did, I wanted to explain it to you.

Bird Box is a movie on Netflix about a woman, (Sandra Bullock), and her small children, who are forced to make it through a forest and river blindfolded in order to avoid supernatural sightings which cause people who see them to die by suicide.

The movie is quite morbid and scary. Wikipedia explains, “It’s a 2018 American post-apocalyptic drama thriller film directed by Susanne Bier from a screenplay written by Eric Heisserer, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman.”

Netflix warns everyone that the Bird Box challenge is a dangerous trend. It went viral because it was started by a number of popular YouTube creators like Morgan Adams.

Watch the above video.

The Bird Box challenge is to wear a blindfold at all times, inside and out, for 24 hours. Learn what it’s like to be blind. Individual challenges have different times. Netflix has issued a statement on Twitter asking viewers not to hurt themselves. “We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but we just have one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”

Netflix doesn’t have any ownership of the challenge. It’s just one of those things.

Fun Facts

Thank you Jon Erlichman, anchor of BNN Bloomberg’s morning program, The Open, for these interesting facts.

1-Here’s how old these companies will be in 2019:

Snapchat: 8 years

Uber: 10 years

Twitter: 13 years

Facebook: 15 years

Tesla: 16 years

Google: 21 years

Netflix: 22 years

Amazon: 25 years

Apple: 43 years

Intel: 51 years

HP: 80 years

Disney: 96 years

IBM: 108 years


2-Microsoft starts this year as most valuable tech company for 1st time since 2010:

Microsoft: $785 billion

Apple: $748 billion

Amazon: $734 billion

Google: $723 billion

Facebook: $377 billion

Alibaba: $355 billion


3-Netflix subscribers on New Year’s Eve:

2018: 146.5 million

2017: 117.6 million

2016: 93.8 million

2015: 74.8 million

2014: 57.4 million

2013: 44.4 million

2012: 33.3 million

2011: 23.5 million

2010: 20.0 million

2009: 12.3 million

2008: 9.4 million


4-Apple’s first quarter revenue:

Q1 2019: $84 billion*

Q1 2018: $88.3 billion

Q1 2017: $78.4 billion

Q1 2016: $75.6 billion

Q1 2015: $74.6 billion

Q1 2014: $57.6 billion

Q1 2013: $54.5 billion

Q1 2012: $46.3 billion

Q1 2011: $26.7 billion

(*Apple’s new guidance for Q1)

Is Amazon Taking Over The World ?

Why are seniors grouchy about Amazon? In the last few days, I have heard a few people my age making negative comments about Amazon’s recent announcement to aggressively expand Whole Foods around the United States.

The food chain has 475 US stores in approximately over 60 cities today. They also want a Whole Foods in Idaho, southern Utah and Wyoming.

The basic idea is to make sure more Americans enroll in Prime Now so they can get the two-hour delivery time bring offered by Whole Foods.

Friends of mine who are loyal to Whole Foods feel their favorite food chain is being abused. Is it a specialty food store, not just another Amazon fulfillment center.

Personally, I don’t see the problem with Amazon double dipping. However, some seniors I spoke to, feel strongly that Amazon should not alter the Whole Foods concept. They don’t want to see any kind of storage and delivery concept mixed up with the place they go to for quality food. They fear the concept for lots of quality choices will be diluted.

Read about it in the Wall Street Journal.

Never Stop Learning

I’m going to have a busy 2019. Between listening to all of the books I want to on my Audible list, I’m adding Master Class to my daily routines. There are just so many areas of interest I want to know more about: book writing, chess, film directing, fashion, and comedy.

MasterClass, an app on your smartphone, offers online education. You can access tutorials and lectures pre-recorded by very well known experts in various fields. Some of the biggest names in the business are teachers.

Years ago these notables never would have considered teaching courses like this, but then it became totally acceptable. You really should take advantage of this opportunity. The best thing about these courses is that they give you insight into the area you are most interested in. Then you can decide if you want to delve further with other online courses, or adult education classes.

The idea is too keep your mind active.

We are living in a time when these opportunities are available to us. Let’s not take them for granted.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Podcasts Are Turning Into Movies And TV Shows

I’m not sure you are aware of it, but many of the new TV shows you are watching were derived from podcasts. A podcast is a digital recording of music or the spoken word downloaded from the Internet to a portable player. The term originated from P.O.D meaning Portable On Demand and cast relating to the term broadcast.

This is a whole new resource for material for the small (TV) and large screen (movies). This is going to be interesting in the years ahead. Your child, your grandchild, or your neighbor next door, who has been producing a podcast, can easily become the next big star in Hollywood.

Some of the new shows are:


Alex, Inc.

2 Dope Queens

The Read

Streaming Now

Throwing Shade


Comedy Bang! Bang!

Be sure to watch the video for a full explanation.

Eliot has been shredding paper for days now. Another trip to the incinerator. Thank goodness for digital files.

A Letter From An Old Friend

Walter Salm

The following letter comes from a gentlemen I used to share an office with over 40 years ago. We were exact opposites. He was a serious technical writer and I was a chatty news reporter. I usually get an annual holiday letter from Walter just around Christmas time. In recent years his letters are delivered by email.

This year his letter talks about some of the most devastating challenges facing many Americans today. I asked him if I can share the letter with you because I want everyone to remember the difficulties many people are facing everyday. He gave me his approval.

Chico, CA, December 2018

To all of our friends and family:

Two events have overshadowed our lives as the year draws to a close: My wife. B.J. , fell and broke her right femur near the hip on Oct. 25; and on Nov. 7, the horrific Camp wildfire burned most of the city of Paradise and part of Magalia to the ground. We have both friends and family who lost everything to the blaze, and are now living in temporary quarters: shelters, trailers and RVs (frequently borrowed) and other peoples’ homes. The city of Chico is bursting at the seams housing and hosting many thousands of fire victims. Now that the fire is out, most of the nearly 7,000 firefighters have left along with their hundreds of fire engines. They established a containment line, stopping the advance of the fire only two miles from our house. The air was thick with unhealthy smoke for nearly a month, and filter masks were necessary when venturing outdoors. We no longer see dozens of fire trucks parked cheek by jowl in the vacant lot next to Costco. Our daughter Lenna lives in a part of Oroville that was under threat and evacuated with her two dogs to David’s house in Meridian. She’s back home now. The fire did not reach her house.

Chico’s population jumped from 110,000 to about 150,000 with many, many fire refugees living in emergency shelters, or with family or friends, or in trailers and RVs, some RVs rescued from the fire, others borrowed. Housing was already in short supply in Chico before the fire. There had been six or seven mobile homes for sale in our mobile home park, and they have all been snapped up. Parking lots everywhere are full, the traffic has become brutal, and many parking lots contain numerous RVs. There are still people camping in tents in spite of the rainy and cold winter weather in the large vacant lot next to WalMart. They are learning some basic survival skills from Chico’s approximate 2,000 homeless, who are quite willing to share their knowledge. There isn’t a single empty hotel room in Chico and surrounding communities. Our oldest granddaughter Paige and her husband Tyler, lost everything and are now living in a borrowed trailer in her father Phil’s back yard. Andy’s mother, Theresa, was burned out and is now staying in Andy’s house in Chico. We met Paige’s next-door neighbors, a young couple with three children who had also been burned out and are now rebuilding their lives in Roseville (near Sacramento). I met them at a Black Friday get-together and dinner at son-in-law Brad Pierce’s house.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up in the vacant Toys R Us store; the empty Sears store has become headquarters for FEMA and dozens of booths for insurance companies, realtors, etc. Parking there is at a premium. The East Avenue Church has set up a large, comprehensive shelter with lots of volunteer services available. This has also happened at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has absorbed the burned out St. Nicholas Church in Paradise. A new shelter has been established at Chico’s Silver Dollar Fairgrounds (next to Costco) which had been used as the staging area for all of the thousands of firefighters.

B.J. missed most of the excitement, residing in the comfort of Enloe Hospital’s Rehab Center, after having her broken limb treated with an implanted titanium rod. Chico’s 300-bed Enloe Hospital absorbed many patients from the hurriedly evacuated and burned out 100-bed Feather River Hospital in Paradise. Other patients were sent to the hospital in Oroville. Some of the overflow was pushed into the Enloe Rehab Center, where B.J. was a patient until November 29, when she finally came home. She is learning to get around with a 2-wheel walker, but still has trouble mounting the 4 stairs up to our house. She has lost even more weight and we’re trying to fatten her up now. I keep offering to give her some of my excess poundage, but so far have not been able to work out a transfer.

Before the fire happened, our three granddaughters, Paige, her sister Jazmin, and their cousin Letty all came to visit B.J. at the rehab center. Paige and Letty have both had their stomachs removed because of the mutated CDH1 gene. Jazmin had received the incredibly good news that she does not have the bad gene. Grandson Atty was home for a week or so on leave from his duties as a U.S. Marine. He visited B.J. twice and was at the Black Friday family fest. He has since returned to North Carolina pending deployment. His wife Lindsey, also at the family get-together, is pregnant and will present us with a great-grandson next Spring.

Finally, I have been busily working on writing my memoir, calling it “Half-Life” since it only covers my first 44 years at which point I married B.J. The other half-life is another book, which I have already partly written. All this is possible because I am now fully retired. Here is a quote from my Author’s Preface:

“I have one primary discomfort today — a fear that an old man’s failing memory will rob me of the ability to retell these many minor adventures. I am periodically reminded of my age when I reach for a specific word and cannot remember it, even though I can picture its precise meaning. I am a wordsmith; I should remember it, but I don’t. I do all the typical things joked about by old timers — walking into another room and then forgetting why I am there; getting into the car to run errands forgetting all my necessaries: my partial dentures, keys, wallet, cell phone, shopping list, Nook book, the correct glasses, wrist watch. Each one of these may require a special trip back into the house, since I seem to remember only one at a time. Yet I marvel and comment to friends that I still have three or four brain cells that are connected and functioning.”

Here’s to a New Year filled with recovery and hope, and remember to give your special someone a good hug and remind them how much they are loved.

Walter and Elizabeth (B.J.) Salm

Music Connects People Of All Ages

Did you know that Michelle Obama’s maternal grandfather was an audiophile?

In the early chapters of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, I found out that he wired the house, in the south side of Chicago, from top to bottom, for music. “He put speakers in every room, including the bathroom. In the dining room, he built an elaborate cabinet system to hold his stereo equipment, much of it scavenged at yard sales. He had two mismatched turntables plus a rickety old reel-to-reel tape player and shelves packed with records he’d collected over many years.”

Everyone in the family had to talk loudly over whatever he put on the stereo, because the music always dominated. Michelle’s family celebrated most major life events at his house which meant that over the years they unwrapped Christmas presents to Ella Fitzgerald and blew out birthday candles to Coltrane.

“According to my mother, as a younger man he made a point of pumping jazz into his seven children, often. He would wake everyone at sunrise by playing one of his records at full blast. His love for music was infectious. I’d pass whole afternoons at his house, pulling albums from the shelf at random and putting them on his stereo, each one its own immersing adventure. Even though I was small, he put no restrictions on what I could touch. He’d later buy me my first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, which I’d keep at his house on a special shelf he designated for my favorite records.”