Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Revolutionary Thanksgiving - Celebration of Independence

Freshly Prepared Thanksgiving Food At Jabez Smith House, Groton

I am spending my first Thanksgiving holiday in many years in the USA.  I am spending my first Thanksgiving of many many more years with my parents in their home.

Whether I was in Algeria, Malaysia, Thailand, Canada, Brasil, or Vietnam, I always managed to celebrate this special holiday.  There is something about celebrating that has a universal appeal and relevance no matter where in the world that you find yourself.  It is a holiday that transcends national sensitivities.

Ham, Chickens, and Corn on the Cob Over An Open Wood Fire

Recently I attended a local event here in Groton.  The event was a "Revolutionary Thanksgiving" and was held at the Jabez Smith House.  Participants reenacted a traditional late 18th century holiday celebration complete with traditional foods and methods of cooking.  The participants are ordinary people who have a passion for American Colonial history.  They dress and re-enact daily early American life at special events throughout the year.  I had first encountered some of them at the event which recognized the 230th anniversary of the Fort Griswold Massacre also known as the Battle of Groton Heights.  Besides dressing, and demonstrating skills from the past, the people are a source of information regarding daily colonial life.  It is always nice to see young children at these living history events.  It is an opportunity for them to see some of what they read about in schools.  In this area besides these events there is Mystic Seaport and Old Sturbridge Village where history comes alive.

Documenting the event and listening to the reading of personal diaries from Colonists as well as French soldiers who had come to assist them in the War of Independence, I could not help but be impressed with the self sufficiency of the people.  During that age, men were more of "jacks of all trades" rather than the specialists that we have evolved into today.  A man was a hunter, fisherman, carpenter, farmer, tailor, as well as doctor to ensure his and his family's survival. Women were also fully engaged in multi-tasking with activities such as sewing, weaving, cooking, gardening, helping with the farming and caring for the animals, as well as educating the children. The women also were involved in doctoring and preparing medicinal herbs for the family's use. In Colonial times there was little time to be bored.

Today it is all too easy to rely upon others for our safety, welfare and comfort.  Yes we need to rely upon the knowledge and skills of others for many things.  However, it is often too convenient and the path of least resistance to place our blind trust and welfare in the hands of the others - often misguided.

The financial collapse of so many prominent investment firms in recent years as well as swindles like that perpetrated by Bernie Madoff should lead us to question just how smart these "experts" are or were.  I have always handle my own investments and done acceptable.  I have made spectacular returns but then again I have not been swindled or wiped out like MF Global.  The point is that today with the wealth of resources available to us on the Internet, we should never blindly accept and follow the advise of financial "experts".  If you don't understand it from your own research or understand from the advice of an "expert", you should not invest in it.

The same is true with Doctors.  When I was younger, all Doctors were held in unquestionable esteem - an air often cultivated by the Doctors themselves.  Having lived overseas, you learn to question and evaluate the advise that the doctors give you.  It is important to realize that WE are our own Primary Health Care Provider.  In our culture, doctors only fix what is wrong with us once something happens.  It is our responsibility to prevent that something from happening in the first place.  I know a woman who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis by the best doctor at the best hospital in an upper class city in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Through a fortunate circumstance she ended up in a third world country where she contacted Amoebic Dysentery.  She was given standard medication for the dysentery and soon noticed that her colitis symptoms had disappeared.  Research into her travelling companion, "The Merck Manual" strongly suggested to her that she had "Antibiotic Induced Colitis".  Interesting enough the medicine for curing Amoebic Dysentery is the same for Antibiotic Induced Colitis.  The doctor in California was notified of the possible misdiagnosis but stood his ground and stated that the Ulcerative Colitis would return.  Fifteen years later she is still awaiting the return of the Ulcerative Colitis and she no longer takes a prophylactic antibiotic prior to dental work.  I am certain that had she remained under the care of the experts she would now be dealing with the ravishes caused by prescribed steroid treatment for Ulcerative Colitis.

The aforementioned can also be said with dealings with lawyers.  Do not just take their advice without first doing your own research and asking yourself as well testing their advice to determine if it makes sense - for YOU.  For you - yes because in the end you will have to live with the results and consequences of their work along with their advice that you take.  They will earn their fee and move on to more clients.  You will live with the results for the rest of your life.  back in Thailand a vast majority of issues between people are dealt with directly rather than acquiring the services of a lawyer.  Matters such as purchasing land, homes, automobile accidents, divorces, and name changes are handled by the involved parties with the appropriate government agencies merely recording and maintaining documents related the resolution as in the matter of real estate, divorces, and name changes.

This week I had the "experience" of dealing with technical support related to my computer VOIP service.  As people sometimes reply if they are involved in a relationship, "It's complicated".  A long time ago I had Internet service through SBC =, a spin off at the time of AT&T.  Like the theory of the Universe that it expanded at the time of the Big Bang and will eventually contract, SBC merged into AT&T once again.  AT&T developed a special working relationship with Yahoo which lead me to use Yahoo Messenger. Yahoo Messenger developed a premium service called Yahoo Voice - Phone Out which allowed me to call phone numbers from my computer at very good rates i.e. call cell phones in Thailand for $0.10 USD a minute rather than around $8.00 a minute using a traditional land line in the USA.  I have forgotten which came first, remember I wrote that it was complicated, but two things happened AT&T and Yahoo stopped their special working relationship and the servicing of Yahoo Voice - Phone Out was taken over by a company named Jajah.  Jajah was recently taken over by Telefonica something or other - just to show how complicated finding someone responsible has become in the tech world.  Any how, life was good using Yahoo Voice - Phone Out.  For the past six months I had been getting messages that I had an outdated version of Yahoo Messenger.  I ignored it until earlier this week when I succumbed to the fear that I might be missing out on something - foolish me or perhaps greedy me.  I downloaded the latest version of Yahoo Messenger and promptly lost access to my Voic-Phone Out Account.  I sought help through the programs and kept getting into FAQ that answered nothing close to my personal problem.  I tried AT&T and got referred to Yahoo.  I decided to call Yahoo support on the phone and after punching some numbers and waiting, found out that they do not do support over the phone.  I ended up contacting Jajah "Live Chat" support.  At first over texting they tried to pawn me off with my problem to AT&T.  I spent a great deal of time in a painful noxious texting ordeal going over my problem with a rep to the point that I thought that I was dealing with either a robot or a computer.  It was obvious that we were going through a standard troubleshooting routine oblivious to any statements that I had previous conveyed to the rep.  Some of her solutions recommended had absolutely nothing to do with my problem.  I thanked her for "help" and got away from her.  I did some more Internet research and found serious issues with Jajah support for the past three years.  Undeterred I contacted support via Live Chat once again - guess who?  Yep it was Zoe once again.  Luckily or rather more indicative of her consciousness she did not seem aware of my previous comment that "I am sure that you may be a nice person but you are absolutely of no help to me. I am signing off"  Well we started down the same road once again - after awhile I just hung up.  I tried a couple of things on my own to no avail.  I went back to tech support and got a man who was more on the ball.  I never suspected that he was either a robot or a computer.  He gave me a possible solution which in the process of implementing required me to shutdown and restart my computer thereby losing contact with him.  His solution did not work so I contacted tech support once again only to get a third "expert".  We went down the same path as the previous times and had no success.  After 7-1/2 hours dealing with Jajah tech support the last rep wrote that he could not solve the problem and that he would refer the problem to their "Software Engineers" and that I could expect an email from them within 24 hours (110 hours ago).  I have yet to get that email. I found a website that would solve my problem for $48.  It appeared to have been a Yahoo website but I am not sure - I was having trouble seeing through my rage at that point.  I was sure not going to pay Yahoo a penny let alone $48 to solve a problem with their software which I had upgraded to at their request.  I also did not like the fact that only after you wrote about your problem did you find out that it was a pay for solution site.  Flustered that I could no longer cheaply call my wife back in Thailand, I did what we should all do , I voted with my feet and pocket book - I went and set up an account with Skype.  In less than 30 minutes, I was on the phone with Duang and able to make unlimited calls around the world for the next three months - cost?  Around $39 for the three months. I was still left with the issue of almost $20 remaining in my Yahoo Voice- Phone Out account.  After cooling off for a couple of days I decided to try to solve the problem on my own.  From the Tech "Experts" it had been determined that I still had a valid account but for some reason my new version of Messenger did not connect or recognize the account.  I decided to go to the library and see what happened if I logged on to Yahoo Messenger from a different machine - Voila (There it is) I was able to access my Voice account from the library through an even older version of Messenger than when I started this fiasco.  I went home optimistic that I could solve the problem.  I uninstalled Yahoo Messenger like I had done at least 8 times previously as instructed by the "experts".  However this time I was not going to rely on the software to remove it for me.  I went into my hidden files and removed all folders associated with either Yahoo, AT&T, and Yahoo.  I then used Norton 360 Premium to clean up my registry file - sure enough it found 65 lines of code associated with Yahoo even though it had been uninstalled automatically.  Only then did I upload the latest version of Yahoo Messenger.  To my delight, it recognized and accessed my Yahoo Voice - Phone Out account.  My point being is that we have the ability to solve our own problems most of the time.  We need to trust in ourselves and not blindly follow those who are called "experts"  "Experts" are like any tool, they can be used by us to achieve a goal but on their own they can not resolve our issues.  We have to take the responsibility and live with the consequences to solve our problems.

So on this American Thanksgiving in 2011 let's reflect upon all that we have been blessed with and let's strive to be more self sufficient in our lives just as our ancestors were during the Revolutionary Thanksgivings.  Let's all be especially grateful for our ability to think for ourselves and to make our own decisions - truly blessings to be appreciated and used every day.

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