The Competency Crisis

This will be an ongoing topic for posting observations of a noteworthy aspect of societal collapse.

As a start, I offer this tidbit from yesterday.

At 5:30 PM I went into Lowe’s to get a wafer lock key duplicated. Although there were dozens of employees in the store, the last person who could use the main key duplicating machine had left.

But it gets stranger. There are two machines. Both are more modern than anything I have used. And I have made my own keys at Home Depot when no employee was available.

The main machine is a slightly more automated version of a traditional automatic machine. They added a touchscreen to walk the user through the process. The main remaining manual aspect of it is that you have to obtain the key blank from one of the many racks and external carousels nearby. But it can cut a broad range of available key types.

Although this particular machine had a self-service mode, that was disabled and an employee pin was needed to start it. Instead, there was a smaller, purely self-service machine that was fully automated. It had an automated internal carousel of just the major residential door lock type keys. But you were out of luck for other keys.


This topic will be, I predict, most worthy and interesting.

Here is yet another typical interaction - with the state (at PA level in this case) DMV. It was time to renew our car registration. Naturally, the annual fee w Now, I had just renewed our ent from $36 to $50. There was an option to do two years for exactly double the price - no discount.

The renewal form arrived by USPS. The instructions included a website to enable online renewal. New, we had just renewed the (mandated) auto insurance and received the new cards, which one must present to law enforcement if stopped for any reason. The fun began here. Among the required information were the beginning and end coverage dates of the insurance policy - along with the name of the company and it NAIC number (mine is 8 digits with a dash). So, my newly issued insurance card had a begin date of 04/25/2024. I had already made one trip to the garage to get the card and find the present mileage.

So I tried to enter the information by filling in all the fields. However, the NAIC datum box only allowed 5 numbers, not 8. So, I tried leaving off the three digits prior to the dash. It seemed to work on the third try. I then entered the dates on the new insurance ID card. “REJECTED - the ‘begin’ date must be later than today’s date”. So, I went back to the car for the old card, the one officially still in effect until April 25, the renewal date. I entered 04/25/2025 - the date the card indicated the insurance ended. “The term of the policy may only be a maximum of 6 months”.

Well, “technically”, my two sequential 6 month insurance policies are combined into one calendar year, shown accurately on the state-mandated ID card. By paying annually rather the every 6 months, I save over $100 in premiums. Well, the state cannot tolerate such flexibility which inures to the benefit of the citizen. So, in order to satisfy the state, I must lie on the form by reporting an incorrect, 6 month earleir end date of the policy.

So, I finally gave up, put the mail form back in the envelope, and returned it to my “To Do” box marked - After April 25. I wasted - with the aggravation meter beyond the max limit - about 20 minutes of my time (which has been extra busy since the diagnosis of my wife’s cancer). The galling part of this is the fact it is typical of online dealings with the state at all levels. However confusing and ridiculous the hard copy version, it is always worse in the online version; the function is non-linear. Difficulty and attendant frustration of using online government forms seem to increase exponentially. The underlying theme is quite clear: They say “jump!”; you respond “how high”? kind sir. This circumstance is merely one reminder that we serve our “public servants” rather than the other way around. To add insult to injury, their idleness, incompetency and power lust are known by all. Not yet widely known is the fact that their salary and benefits (like immunity from ever being fired or laid off) significantly exceed those of the private sector for comparable positions.

Welcome to the progressive rendition of “Our Democracy™”, the “land of the free” whose hallmark is the “consent of the governed”. I just can’t remember when I consented to pay benefits for millions of illegal border invaders (who don’t like us very much, but will nonetheless VOTE democrat [who will stop them in say, NY, DC or SF?]; and among those entrants are surely thousands of Middle-Easterners who came specifically to do us harm). In some of the cited cases, mere incompetency could be understood. What we are really observing, though, is the slow-ish killing from within of what was once the exceptional “American Experiment”.


DMV employees like every state employee are union. The combination of government employee plus labor unions has been and will continue to be a nightmare catastrophe. There is a better description than mine.

Labor unions in private sector are bad enough. Public sector unions are beyond unconscionable.

FDR opposed public sector unions.


I had to decide between the one involving the IRS and US Post Office or the new security app installed by my HOA.

The app is a shorter story. The company that manages our HOA decided to upgrade the locks on all the facilities used by the members.

If your email is registered with the management company, they send you a link to get registered with the company that provided the Bluetooth enabled locks. You have three days to use the link.

They have my wife’s email, but not mine so she was getting the correspondence. She was forwarding it to me, but I was installing hardwood floors for the week so wasn’t reading my email.

My wife tells me she cannot log into the app. Yep. I uninstalled the app on her phone and tried again. Nope. I tried on my phone. Nope.

When logging into the app it redirects you to a website. Because Apple will try to use safari on redirects and I can’t figure out how to make it stop doing this, I think maybe this is the problem with the redirect. It happens often when the IOS tries using safari that safari responds with the message I have no internet connection even when I am on WiFi and have 4 bars of cell signal. So I try going directly to the website without the app using my computer.

I can log into the website by bypassing their app and it shows my wife has an account. But this site is not the app that has the ability to use Bluetooth to unlock the new locks. Typical software company. A web page of frequent questions and an email address, but no phone number. I can tell by the FAQ that the site is for the customer that installs the security system not the employee or customer or hoa resident using the app as a key.

But I write them an email with my issue. They reply that I need to contact their regional sales person.

I contact the salesperson who tells me I need to contact the contractor that installs the locking system, but he doesn’t know who that is.

I contact the hoa management company. Inform them of the problem and request the contractor info.

I get a reply to uninstall and reinstall the app and follow the instructions.

The next day I drive over to the address of the person that is managing the hoa hoping to have a in person vs email exchange, but she is in one of our hoa buildings that can only be accessed via the new security lock system.

Finally, my own incompetence. In frustration I tell my wife that I will deduct the percentage of the hoa facilities I use but cannot access from the hoa dues. After some back and forth, I say I don’t know why they have to put this stupid Bluetooth system in. Bluetooth is flakey. It doesn’t always connect to devices and this is exactly what the app reviewers said about this SATO system. If I ever get it to work.

I wish I could just keep my fob. My wife says “oh you can get a new fob for 25 bucks”. I haven’t been able to access the facilities I use almost daily for two weeks while I mess around with this and now you tell me. She says “it was in the email I forwarded”.

  • Settings

  • safari or any other browser

  • default browser app

Unfortunately, there is no setting to just let each browser app open its own links.


Interestingly, when my default browser is Safari, DDG opens links in Safari. But when it’s DDG, Safari still opens links in Safari.


I toggle between DuckDuckGo browser and Brave. Occasionally Firefox.

I boycotted DuckDuckGo for a few months in 2022 when they tampered with searches related to Ukraine