A rude awakening

In more ways than one.  Last night our friends from NC arrived, parked their SUV in front of our house and came inside.  They’d had a long drive (10+ hours) and got settled, had some conversation, a few drinks and went up to bed.  As is my custom when I’m on vacation, I don’t always go to bed at a ‘normal’ time, it may be 3 or 4 am before I turn in.  I used to work 3rd shift for close to 20 years, so to me, night-time is just as good as day time to get things done on the computer, or in the house if I’m quiet enough.  No, mowing the lawn at 2 am isn’t one of those things.

Even after going to bed at 3:45 this morning, I only managed about 4 1/2 hours of sleep before getting up.  Seeing as I use a CPAP machine, I got some good REM zz’s and felt good enough to get up around 8:30.  Upon leaving the bedroom I could tell the guests were already up and about as the scent of bacon had wafted up the stairs and encountered my nostrils.  So they (as usual) were able to fend for themselves and were getting ready to start their day.  My wife and I headed downstairs, morning greetings were made and so on.  They headed outside to get to their car, and I settled down to accomplish some things for today and tomorrow.

Within a few minutes they were back in the house and calling for me and my wife.  Apparently upon opening their car door, they discovered someone had ‘broken into’ the unlocked car overnight and had rifled through their things.  Opened the glove compartment and had made it pretty clear they were searching for valuables.  The wife mentioned that the only things they discovered missing were a pint of strawberries intended for her sister-in-law, and a Garmin GPS unit.  After being rather saddened and shocked that they’d become the victims of thievery here, (in 18 years of visiting us, this is a first) I offered to call the local police, but she insisted that she wasn’t going to file a report, since she didn’t think her items were going to be recovered, and they were already late for going to where they needed to go.  So, waiting for the police to ‘do their thing’, wasn’t going to do much good.  (As it turned out later, the GPS unit was found in a side pocket of one of the seats, so really all the perps got away with was the strawberries)

All in all, it reminded myself and my wife that we’re not completely shielded from crime here.  Certainly I see in the police blotter at times about a home burglary here and there, or even a murder somewhere in the vicinity, but just over the weekend someone I knew in passing was killed crossing the street by a drunk driver.  Crime happens everywhere, that’s for certain.

We certainly (for the most part) take the time to lock our car doors when we park the car somewhere away from home, even at the local grocery or department store, but I don’t even think twice about locking the car when it’s sitting in our driveway.  Yes, the house is locked, but there have been times I’ve left the garage unlocked even when I made sure the small door next to it is locked, which seems rather stupid when you think about it.  There are pricey items in my garage that someone could easily wheel out of it overnight and I wouldn’t be the wiser until the morning, even then.  I don’t always make a survey of my garage when I’m leaving for work. If the car was missing, that’s one thing, but I could easily overlook the roto-tiller, or the lawn mower when I’m rushing out the door.  Not to mention some of the other items that are around my property.

In the last six months we’ve purchased security cameras, but I hadn’t had the time to put them up outside.  With the thing that happened this morning, that changed.  I’ve already put up three of them so that the main entries to the house are covered.  While we were out this afternoon doing some shopping and getting dinner, one of them got a hit when the UPS driver dropped off a package at the front door.  I’m still tweaking the system little by little, changing the angle of what’s being monitored and changing the sensitivity of how the cameras are triggered.  It’s a bit of a trial and error process, but within a few days it should be all set.  The system takes pretty good video, has infrared and night vision capability, although with the nightvision, things are a little more grainy, so it might be a bit of a chore to get someone’s features to make a positive ID if that became necessary.  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Time for me to start curing the problem.  I have several more cameras that need to go up.

Hello, Censorship!

I received a notification from Facebook yesterday morning when I turned on my phone, informing me that a comment I’d made back on April 26 had been deemed ‘Hate Speech’ and been removed from the post to which it had been associated.  The comment at worst was a flippant remark about an article from Buzzfeednews.com that had been referenced by a friend of mine.  Hardly incendiary and in no way (in my apparently amateur opinion) should have been considered something hateful or inciteful.

FB’s algorithm (or someone else) disagreed and it was censored/removed from public view.  FB did allow me a chance to have the comment reviewed again to see if it was censored in error, and I pushed that button heartily after reading their corresponding link about their ‘Community Guidelines’ they so thoughtfully provided me.  Nothing whatsoever in what I read suggested that what I wrote was either wrongful, hurtful or in violation of what they insisted was the problem.  About an hour later I received the expected update.  Request denied.

As is the case with people who have encountered ‘Facebook Jail’, when they’re summarily removed from the site for a number of days up to a month, there’s little recourse in getting the powers that be there to change their minds.  They’re holding all the cards, it’s their fiefdom and we’re just guests there, allowing them to use our data and information for whatever they wish to use it for.  It’s not a multi-billion dollar company by accident.

Admittedly, this is really only the second time I’ve run up against this sort of peccadillo.  The last time was a couple of years ago, and it touched upon BDSM, though I don’t completely remember the reference.  What I do recall was, as in this case I wasn’t able to plead my side of the case, to their mind I wasn’t permitted a side, the decision was made whether I liked it or not.  Honestly, for the most part I don’t use FB all that much.  I keep in touch with some people I went to HS with, my birth mother, some of my cousins and that’s about it.  While I have 250+ friends listed on my profile, the vast majority of these people I haven’t seen in more than 35 years.  So if I got kicked out tomorrow, it wouldn’t take me more than a couple of hours to pick up the pieces.  If that.  So nothing much really would be lost by me.

Bottom line, this irked me.  And I don’t like feeling irked.  I’m not thrilled with being censored either.

The unblinking eye

camera-eyeLike many people these days in the US, I’m a bit concerned about security when it comes to my home, my domicile.  Granted I don’t live in an area that is especially rife with crime, but from reading the local newspapers I am aware that it does indeed exist here as well as places in this vicinity.  Wherever there are places that are semi-affluent, there are going to be places on the other side of the coin, that don’t have sufficient funds, and there are going to be people wanting to take what they don’t, or can’t have on their own.  Consequently, I’ve been considering upgrading our surveillance here at the house.

Rather than going the ‘whole hog’ and purchasing a subscription to an entity that does the work for me; ie: installs the cameras, sets up window and door triggers and monitors the house and grounds 24/7 (it can get expensive, no matter what the TV ads tell you) I opted for something a little less pricey.  Amazon recently purchased a company that made/makes security cameras and my wife about 6 months ago was able to score a 3 camera deal with hub (that controls the cameras) for a good price.  Within the last month, Amazon dropped the price on extra cameras (to add to the system) to where it wasn’t going to break my budget to buy a few more.

So now, I have somewhere between 5 and 10 cameras to put up and around the property.  Obviously I’m not going to say exactly how many, suffice it to say there’s enough to have a pretty good view on every angle that needs to be looked at.  Naturally, like the US nuclear triad theory, simply hanging cameras on all corners of the property and house isn’t going to deter thieves, but if their activities are going to be recorded for posterity, they might think twice about breaking and entering.  Too, cameras aren’t the only thing I’ve been thinking about, working on and planning for, but it’s a necessary step for home security.  Certainly not something that my parents would ever have considered necessary 40-50 years ago, but where I lived then, we didn’t lock our doors at night for probably the first 10 or so years we lived in that development.

Someone suggested a moat with mutated sea bass, with laser beams on their head.  Sounds a bit too Austin Powers to me.