The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me

Early this morning, after thanking God for another day, Maddie and I both wolfed down our usual breakfasts: hers consisting of kibble and a few small pieces of cooked chicken breast; mine a bowlful of Cheerios and strawberries, accompanied by lots of coffee.

After breakfast I kissed Diane goodbye and joined Maddie on her morning walk. When we returned I gave Maddie a treat (see photo); afterwards she sat beside me in my chair while Diane and I watched the local and national news. Saddened by the strange stories the networks choose to air as the most important, I turned off the TV, glanced briefly through the morning newspaper, and then read one of Saki's short stories.

This is not my typical morning routine, but today, thanks to Irma, our parish church has no electrical power. Life, then,  has become much slower. It's also my birthday, so I have an additional excuse to take it easy.

At a little after 10 a.m. I filled my coffee cup once again, entered my little den, and turned on the laptop to check my email. It boots up directly to the Google search page, and what do I see? Google wishing me a Happy Birthday with this animated GIF file.

Now, I can't speak for everyone, but I find it more than a little disconcerting that Google apparently knows so much about me. And they're not alone. On my birthday I usually receive cards and phone calls from family and some close friends. These are always welcome, but I also receive quite a few birthday greetings from those I don't know. The dealership from whom I bought my last car sent a card. So did one of the banks that keeps track of my limited funds. I even received a card from a local funeral home, an organization that would probably prefer that I not celebrate another birthday. And this doesn't include all the online email cards from other companies and organizations who believe that a birthday card will make me love and patronize them. In truth, I'd be far happier if their goods and services just cost less.

I find it all a bit weird, and can see why some folks go, as they say, "off-grid." It seems that many of our largest tech firms are driven by a compulsion to enter into every aspect of our lives. Am I a wee bit paranoid if I suggest that their ultimate goal is control, that they consider our lives open to manipulation? And this just because Google wishes me a Happy Birthday? Maybe. But one thing is certain, these companies have extraordinary power over the minds and hearts of those who rely on them completely for information and news about our world. Mildly scary stuff.

But for now I intend to forget about all the world's weirdness and just enjoy the day. Diane and I are going to celebrate my 73rd at a local restaurant here in The Villages. Some friends are joining us and because the restaurant has outdoor "dog-friendly" seating, Maddie gets to take part in the festivities. Woof, woof.

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