Died on a Fourth of July

Phillip on the Left, Matt on the Right
Phillip on the Left, Matt on the Right

This is my brother. Today is his birthday. He would have been 43 today.

My brother died on a Fourth of July from a fatal dose of lack of healthcare.

He had been diagnosed with Melanoma that went unchecked and untreated for almost a year.

In the last year of his life, my brother didn’t fight his cancer. He fought a medical system turned against the poor and the uninsured. He fought hospitals that kicked him out for not being able to pay. He fought a system of bureaucracy and financials that guaranteed health care only for the wealthy or those tied into a company insurance pool.

In one of the last memories I have with my brother, we sat together in a waiting room with several other dozens of people. All of us, together, staring up at a television to keep us occupied. It was a county hospital, so the only thing they were licensed to televise was C-span, and C-span was hosting the senatorial debates leading up to the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Some old senator’s face filled the screen. Some graying, balding, withered old senator, saying: We don’t need this bill! We don’t need to do anything! This is America. We already have the best healthcare in the world! When people are sick, we take them to the hospital and we take care of them. It’s what we do!

The freezing chill of the contrast of me sitting in a room full people desperately seeking health care while seeing this man and hearing these words come from the top of my government was a physical sensation down my back.

Hours passed, my brother was seen and sent away with nothing except for a written prescription for one week of chemo pills. When we went to the pharmacy to get those seven pills we were given a bill for over ten-thousand dollars. We bought gummy bears instead and went home.

Now from what I understand, this Jesus Christ fellow of yours gave away free healthcare. He tended to the blind, the lame, the sick and the malnourished. And not only did he not demand any payment for his services, but he admonished his followers to give up all their wealth and serve the people.

And yet, YOU~ you the Republicans, you the Religious Right, you, the Moral Majority – the Party of Christ – you denied us a public option and you refused to give us universal healthcare. You fought and resisted and whined and lied through the whole ordeal of simply trying to provide healthcare to everyone. And you so thoroughly butchered the Affordable Healthcare Act, and empowered Right-wing states to refuse it, and formed it to serve your purpose – That if you couldn’t stop it from being passed into law, you could muck it up badly enough to justify automatically killing it. Which you’ve tried to do now, well over fifty times. In legislation and in the courts and in the states you have tried to kill this maligned baby for which you yourselves are responsible.

And that is the spectacle my brother was entertained with in lieu of healthcare for the last nine months of his life.

My brother died on a Fourth of July from a fatal dose of lack of healthcare. Had his cancer been treated when it was discovered, he would be 43 today. Happy Birthday Phillip! If there really is a Heaven and a Hell, then these hypocrite bastards will be joining you shortly. 😉 You know what to do…

Just Host Web Hosting Review

Are you looking for hosting?
Are you thinking about hosting with JustHost.com?

Then you will probably want to take a moment to read this 100% genuine JustHost.com Tech Support Trouble ticket that I received when I reported trouble with my website’s e-mail server.

I did take a moment to privatize the text by obscuring my full Name, URLs, ip address, email address and phone number, but all of the text is 100% accurate as to what was posted by me and received from Just Host tech support. I have not altered / added / edited or deleted in any way.

While it is certainly not outrageous or offensive, the sheer disconnect is amazing, and after a 2-day wait for a response – I might add.

I have an original screenshot presenting the actual ticket logged in (click it for the larger view), and a text version below for easier reading.

CLICK FOR A LARGER VIEW

Just Host Trouble Ticket
Just Host Trouble Ticket

Just Host Support History

Created: August 25, 2014
Updated: August 27, 2014
Subject: Contact me: Email Questions
From: mxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxo.com
To: support-email@helpdesk.justhost.com
Date: Mon Aug 25 10:04:03 2014
IP: 20xxxxxx1.xx8

Hello, the email server under URL lxxxxxxxxxxxxxet.com has become slow and unreliable. Some days lately the email server won’t respond, other days emails are coming in up to a day late. I’ve double-checked mailbox sizes, everything seems fine. Can you take a look at it and maybe restart the services? let me know. Thanks! Matt Xxxxxxxxx. mattXxxxxxx@xxxxxxo.com 2xx-xxx-xx07

Subject: Re: [#CRB-74231-334] Contact me: Email Questions
From: Justhost Support Team
To: mattxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxo.com
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 13:30:13 -0600
Hello Matt,

Thank you for contacting technical support.

I apologize for the trouble you are having with site slowness.

I see your site is taking less than one second to load. You can review the site scan by clicking on the following link: http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/#!/BV7Df/loxxxxxxxxxxxxxt.com

If you are still experiencing this problem please follow these steps so that we can quickly narrow down the problem.

First try clearing your cache and cookies.

To clear your cache and cookies, please follow the steps for your browser: http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=32050

You can also try flushing your DNS resolver cache, for instructions on how to do this see: http://www.whatsmydns.net/flush-dns.html
Once done reload the page. You should see fresh content taken directly from the server.

I’m not sure if you were ever made aware, but we offer a backup and restore utility directly from your cPanel (cPanel – Files – Site Backup and restore).

We offer a FREE version with every account that allows you to restore your whole site all at the same time. This can be done from 1 of 3 dates that are the scheduled backups (Daily, Weekly and Monthly).

If you would like a tool that has the flexibility to restore individual files, folders, and even individual database tables at your convenience without contacting Tech Support and doing the dance of verification and explaining directories and filenames, you can purchase the Site Backup and Restore PRO tool for a little under two dollar per month, and its available in the Upgrades tab in the cPanel. Just last week I sat down and made about 9 hours of edits, broke one file and couldn’t find the mistake, and without the PRO tool Id have to overwrite all of the progress I made instead of the one file which broke the site.

* The Backup and Restore Pro utility upgrade is about: $2/month. The price is prorated so you will only need to pay for the remaining extent of your account (e.g. if you only have 6 months left on your hosting you will only need to pay: 6 months @ $2/month = $12 total).

I have added these services to your shopping cart. If you would like to proceed with them, then go ahead and log into your account and click on the shopping cart, and click “checkout now”

We appreciate your business. If you need further assistance with this matter, please feel free to reply to this email. If you have other issues we can assist you with, please open a new ticket.

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Thank you,
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Web Advisor
Justhost.com
888.755.7585

Most questions can be answered by articles in our knowledgebase, and video tutorials:

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Normandy 2014: Day 11 – France Has Cute Cars

I had noticed on my trip out to France 2 years ago that France had some cuter small cars, but I hadn’t thought about it much afterwards.

A Car Pic from 2 Years Ago in France
A Car Pic from 2 Years Ago in France

When I was in France this year, particularly after I had been window shopping small cars in the US the last couple years, I realized that France has many, many hot small cars to choose from, while in the USA we have, like, five to choose from, and a couple of smallish SUV sport jobs.

Citroen DS3 White Top Red Body
Citroen DS3 White Top Red Body

This model is the Citroen DS3 and it is a special favorite of ours and you will see many of them here in this post. They are ordered online in any custom color and scheme and you’ll see a few of the custom color combinations in our pictures.

Peugeot 2-Door Sports Car
Peugeot 2-Door Sports Car

This sharp Peugeot RCZ is like an Audi TT from the profile with a sleek dual-domed sunroof reminding me of a seagull’s back or an old corvette.

Citroen 2-Door White
Citroen 2-Door White

When Valerie asked me why we didn’t have such an awesome selection of small cars in America, I said, “Because, the gasoline driven industry in America is so big-car driven, they deliberately make smaller cars ugly, tell people that smaller cars are ‘less-safe’, make any of the small cute cars we do have horribly overpriced, and continue to push hybrid technologies for larger cars and trucks. It’s psychological warfare against small cars and has been for decades.”

Peugeot 4-Door Silver
Peugeot 4-Door Silver

Even the older small cars are years ahead of our small car design.

Citroen DS3 White Top Black Body
Another Totally Hot Citroen DS3 with White Top and Black Body

Not completely convinced with the conspiracy-heavy rhetoric of my answer, Valerie mentioned to her brother – who speaks no English and can’t communicate with me at all – that America does not have the awesome selection of small cute cars like they do in France.

“Of course not,” her Brother answered in angry, bombastic, French. “The gasoline driven industry in America is so big-car driven, they deliberately make smaller cars ugly, tell people that smaller cars are ‘less-safe’, make any of the small cute cars we do have horribly overpriced, and continue to push hybrid technologies for larger cars and trucks. It’s psychological warfare against small cars and has been for decades.”

I can’t speak any French, but I could tell by the look on her face that he was singing my tune.

The Adorable Citroen DS3 Blue Top with White Body
The Adorable Citroen DS3 Blue Top with White Body

There were so many cars that I really loved that I didn’t get pictures of, like the Renault Clio TCe 5-Door or the RS.

Peugeot 2-Door White
Peugeot 2-Door White

They’ve got the Chevy Spark in France, but next to all the fluid, small sporty hatchbacks on the road the Chevy Spark looks like a 2-ton 4-door sedan after shrinking badly in the wash.

Citroen DS3 with Black Top and Sky-blue Body
Citroen DS3 with Black Top and Sky-blue Body

I saw other car brands in France that I recognized with car models that I hadn’t seen in the States, and then this little Ford popped up, proving that Ford could make a small sassy car, just not for America.

Ford 2-Door KA in Magenta
Ford 2-Door KA in Magenta

And in the vein of “brands we get in America, but not the cool stuff,” I present the Audi A1 TDi.

Audi A1 TDi 2-Tone
Audi A1 TDi 2-Tone

And there’s lots of occasions for the strange and unique, so I’ll leave you with a pic we were lucky to get while driving through an intersection.

France Old-Time Roadster
France Old-Time Roadster

Normandy 2014: Day 10 – Mont Saint-Michel

Disclaimer: Today’s post will be photo-heavy, pun-laden booger-journalism.
If you really want to learn something about today’s topic, I recommend a brief read here before starting.

After driving over five-thousand, four-hundred seconds in a car across tens-of-thousands of meters, we arrived on the bordering fields of Belgium, where taking a picture back to the West makes all of France looks like a big stack of tiny churches in the distance.

Mont Saint-Michel in the Distance
Mont Saint-Michel in the Distance.

I’m kidding – of course – that in the background is the French Death Star.
All of these pictures that you’re about to see are thanks to my lovely wife Valerie. She’s the one on the right in blue.

That’s no mont. It’s a space station.

Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel

We opt to take the 40 minute walk from the parking lots to Mont Saint-Michel (as opposed to riding on the free shuttles), arriving on foot like the pilgrims and the monks of the 12th century seeking cheap plastic Chinese manufactured toys, fridge magnets and pizza.

Mound Saint-Michel
Mound Saint-Michel

Along the way we survey the progress of the modern, elevated foot-bridge they are building and various construction materials that they have on site to accomplish this feat. I took a picture of this huge mound in preparation for my blog pun-fest.

Mont Saint-Michel with French Flag
Mont Saint-Michel with French Flag

My darling wife took two shots of this close-up of Mont Saint-Michel as we approached. I liked this line up of the buildings, but the other photo had the better shot of the flag. So in full disclaimer I will admit that I Photoshopped this flag onto this shot. I hope your body image can take it. Don’t expect your flag shots to look this good.

Mount Shopping-Michel
Mount Shopping-Michel

The first ground level streets and alleys are tight, crowded passages of shops and shops and shops. Everything from replicas of weapons from medieval time to smartphone covers can be bought here. In its defense – the postcards and magnets were no more expensive than I had seen anywhere else, and the pizza that we had was the same price we had paid at other places and of really great quality – the 2nd best I had eaten in Normandy. So if you avoid buying a bunch of needless junk, you do not have to spend a lot of money when you come to Mont Saint-Michel. In fact you could easily bring your meal and have a picnic at one of the many areas to sit and rest.

Mont Saint-Michel Street Light
Mont Saint-Michel Street Light

44 people live here and 3.5 million people visit annually. So not only does it have to be a functioning city, but it has to serve residents. So it’s interesting to see little fixtures like street lights and fire hydrants knowing that even in a place that’s popular like Disneyland, people have got to receive mail, purchase goods and services, and have lit streets.

Mont Saint-Michel Post Office and Hotel
Mont Saint-Michel Post Office and Hotel
Matt Saint-Michel
Matt Saint-Michel

Seriously, the puns get worse.

Mount Sun-Michel
Mount Sun-Michel

From here we can see quite clearly that despite all of our climbing the little gold dude at the top is really not getting any closer.

Mont Saint-Michel Murder Holes
Mont Saint-Michel Murder Holes

Before this place was a monastery it was a military strong-hold and often through the course of development it served as both. Here we see Murder Holes where soldiers could pour hot oil or pee down onto invading wall climbers. Actually, that’s not true – I made up the part about the pee; They really call them Murder Holes.

Mont Saint-Michel Tiny House
Mont Saint-Michel Tiny House. This image links to full-size file for wallpaper.

Looking at these homes gives new meaning to tiny house. This image links to a hi-res desktop-sized image.

Mont Stairs-Michel
Mont Stairs-Michel

More stairs to keep climbing. Many tourists were photo-chopped in the making of this photo.

Mont Spires-Michel
Mont Spires-Michel

No, I am not even trying at this point.

Mont Saint-Michel Lilac Tree
Mont Saint-Michel Lilac Tree

The purple lilac tree stood out in the long row of green and could be easily seen from many of the higher pathways. Its huge purple presence became a navigation bearing-point as we ascended.

Moss Saint-Michel
Moss Saint-Michel

I warned you.

Mont Saint-Michel Bird Perch
Mont Saint-Michel Bird Perch. This image links to full-size file for wallpaper.

When you’re looking down on the birds looking down on the town, you’re getting up there. This image also links to a hi-res desktop-sized file for wallpaper. The detail is incredible.

Mont Saint-Michel Square
Mont Saint-Michel Square
Birds of Mont Saint-Michel
Birds of Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel

The people in the distance below serve as scale for how high up we’re getting.

Mount Saint-Michel Hobbits
Mount Saint-Michel Hobbits

When I see this picture I think “That’s where the town hobbit lives.”

Mont Saint-Michel High
Mont Saint-Michel High

This is as high as I can get without paying. [Rimshot] That’s me on the left, with the bag on my back. Around behind me to my left is the cathedral where you must pay money to see inside the church and go higher.

Flowers from Stone
Flowers from Stone

Seen along the walls are many assorted wildflowers and grasses that grow out of the stones.

 Mont Saint-Michel Tippy-Top
Mont Saint-Michel Tippy-Top

This is as close as we could get to the top without a helmet and a cape with a Red Bull logo. Or without paying the 9 euros to get into the abbey. I did pay 50 cents to use the toilet, which says a lot about my priorities.

Till next time~

Normandy 2014: Day 9 – Low Tide!

From our condo windows you can watch the tide go out. Here is a picture of the window-fog smiley-face low-tide mascot, “Limpy”.

Window-fog Smiley-face Low-tide Mascot named Limpy
Window-fog Smiley-face Low-tide Mascot named Limpy

Low tide, of course, is part of that whole “moon-effecting-how-much-water-is-in-the-ocean” phenomenon that makes it scientifically possible to film from beach sand normally 5 feet under water.

Thanks to the Moon flushing the ocean’s toilet once a day, we’re able to film this panoramic from 5 feet below sea level. Taken at Langrune sur Mer, Normandy, 2014

In the video where I pause and say, “there’s the condo”, we also end the video with a shot of the condo, and to help out, here’s a friendly info-graphic.

Our Condo Windows
Our Condo Windows

Till next time~ keep it low tide.

Normandy 2014: Day 8 – Holy Sheep!

On the drive out to Mont Saint-Michel, we drove past a field of sheep so vast in depth, so spanning in presence, I immediately turned around in the middle of the road without second-thought or hesitation, and pulled into the parking area with picnic tables that thoughtful sheep farmers had provided for this picturesque scene. In all the world, in all my travels, I have seen nothing quite like it.

Sheep grazing on the saline grass pastures near le Mont Saint Michel
Sheep grazing on the saline grass pastures near le Mont Saint Michel

If you click on the image above it will link to the panoramic file. Your browser may require you to click on the image again to load the full size version, which you can scroll with your browser from left to right. The image at full-size is over 6,000 pixels wide and may take a moment to load.

Valerie told me, and searches on the internet later confirmed, that these sheep are particularly delicious for meat-eaters, as the sheep spend their lives grazing on this especially salty grass of the flood plains of the Mont Saint-Michel. Proving once again that you taste like what you eat. I taste like a great big bean and guacamole’ burrito.

The allegedly delicious - but much cuter uneaten - sheep of Mont Saint Michel
The allegedly delicious – but much cuter uneaten – sheep of Mont Saint Michel

While I was standing, solemnly, quietly upon the rise, carefully spacing my photo shots for the panoramic, a small luxury car spun up and parked with quick, halting precision, and a cadre’ of young Asian women piled out, cooing and cheering the sheep. They ran to the forefront of the fence, yammering quiet loudly, took a bevy of selfies with back-facing smartphones and group hug glamor poses, waved to the sheep – I swear to god, it was of particular note to me, they waved goodbye to the sheep – and piled back into the car and drove off in no matter of 13.8 seconds. I have never witnessed a more colorful display of cliche’. Telling the story now it occurs to me, I should have taken a picture of them taking pictures of themselves in front of the sheep.

I take pictures of wild flowers while waiting on young giddy tourist to disperse.
I take pictures of wild flowers while waiting on young giddy tourist to disperse.

As we got back into the car and drove away Valerie asked me quite earnestly, “How many sheep are there?” Not wanting to dissapoint, and not missing a beat, I answered, “ten thousand, seven-hundred and forty-two.” She looked out the window at the sheep passing by and then looked back and asked seriously, “how do you know?” Not wanting to miss another beat I answered. “Google Maps.” And then with a slight pause and a nod I added, “I knew you would ask, so I counted.”

Duh…