Monday, June 30, 2008

Not MacBook compatible

I was doomed before I started.  My MacBook would not read the installation instruction disk.  It is set up for a PC.  I had to call on the services of my youngest brother, who is a self-proclaimed nerd and came over with his portable PC.   It seems, for the time being, that I don't need the new modem/router.  Apparently, when I called the Internet provider's local office they sent me a updated "packet" of information (with new IP addresses) and things seem to operate properly now.  The real test will be when my hubby is back here with his laptop.  His is lots pickier about connecting than my MacBook.

Oh well, I'll have to feed my ego another way, another day.

Poor Excuse for a Pioneer

I admit it, I would have made a lousy pioneer. I wouldn't even have been a good city slicker in the 1800s. I'm way too fond of my conveniences--like electricity. The power went down for a while yesterday and that always reminds me of how I've come to expect things to work. Do you, when you know the power's off, walk into a room and automatically hit the light switch? Do you think, "I can't cook with the range, so I'll use the microwave?"  Tried to turn on a fan because the air conditioner is off?  Have you ever picked up a portable phone and tried to call someone to ask about why the power is out?   I've done all those things at one time or another.

My brother called yesterday to see if I had power because he still didn't. Mine was back on and he said that in about 5 more degrees his family would be up to visit me. It was about 100 degrees at the time. I think his kids were also suffering severe television withdrawal. His power came back, so he didn't need to evacuate to my house--although the company may have been fun.

I'm afraid the Internet is also become vitally important to me. We've had some problems the last couple of days getting and staying online. After talking several times with the provider's tech support, I guess it's our combination modem/wireless gateway. My MacBook manages to connect sporadically (thus this post), but hubby couldn't get his IBM to connect at all. So, today, I'm trying to get a new one installed and working--all by myself. I'm on the bottom edge of computer savvy so this might be messy, but think how cool it would be if I can do it! Hey, I replaced the guts of a toilet for the first time earlier this year, so maybe I have more undiscovered skills. It does seem unlikely at this stage of the game. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Getting there.

[Sky+Watch+Friday.JPG] This is the view from my permanent/retirement home.  It's only 300 miles south (and 2000 feet less in elevation) away from the temporary city location, but the landscape is much different.  Not a cloud to be seen today.  Thanks to our Sky Watch host, Tom Wigley.

My post about spelling opened a couple of teacher floodgates about some of the things we think are important for children to learn.  I always told students that they should try to learn as much as they could about everything.  There was no predicting what information would be needed or when.    People are often sad about things they didn't learn and opportunities that were missed because of it, but I've never heard of anyone unhappy because they learned something they didn't turn out to need.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Spelling troubles

It's no wonder that lots of young people (and some older ones) have trouble spelling.  Look around at all the things that are spelled incorrectly on purpose.  Almost all kids eat cereal sometimes, and lots of them look at the box while they do: Trix, Kix, Froot Loops, Chex, Cap'n Crunch.  Maverik gas stations are everywhere, and there used to be a lot of Rainbo stations too.  There are Kustom Cabinets, Nick at Nite, Rite Aid, and Kool Aid.  Oh, and there's a company called Disaster Kleen Up.

If I took some more time I could think of more; you probably can too.  I know that it is often to make a product or store unique, or to save space on signs, but it makes it tricky to encourage careful spelling.  And I happen to think spelling matters, but I'm probably part of a shrinking minority.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nice people too

Sometimes I think it is good to be reminded that there are many kind, thoughtful, wonderful people in the world.  The media show us all that is wrong: people who cheat, those who hurt, and others who lie without remorse.  We are inundated with representations of the vicious, nasty things people are capable of doing to others.

I made a quick trip to my local grocery store today.  I mentioned to an employee that I had been in a couple of days ago and foolishly left part of my purchase sitting on the counter.   I didn't even notice until after I had gotten home and unpacked.  He didn't even quibble.  I had some of the same things in my cart, and he just gave them to me.  He didn't ask for anything.  Admittedly, I've been going to that store for many years and long-term employees know my face, but I felt like he simply believed me.  

Then, after loading the few things I had in my car, I turned to take the cart to a cart-return and a young man walked up and asked if he could do that for me.  He wasn't an employee, just another shopper.  He didn't need the cart, just saved me some steps and put it away himself.  My first thought was that he was just kind, then I wondered if I looked like I needed help.   I guess it doesn't really matter.  It did remind me again that there are lots of good people, even some with rings in their lips and tattoos on their legs.  I try to be one of those people (minus the tattoos and assorted piercings).  I try to smile and visit with cashiers, hold doors for others or thank those who hold for me, and help others when I can.  I would like to be someone--like that young man today--who helps remind others that thoughtful people are everywhere, they're just not in the news.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living by mountains

Normally, my internal compass works pretty well.  There are a few places, though, where I have been "directionally challenged" and I've never been able to readjust my compass.  Maybe that is partly because I grew up in valleys, and I always knew which direction the mountains were.  All I had to do was look around and my compass was set.  

As I have traveled a little, I've found places with curving roadways and no obvious landmarks difficult to maintain a directionality.  New Orleans was a tough one.  Funny, but no one I asked seemed to know either.  Directions to them were "lakeside" and "riverside."  When one cannot see beyond the trees at the sides of the highway, you never know the compass direction.  I'm very proud when I sometimes ask "Which direction are we going?" and it feels the same way to me.  Hooray.  I know it doesn't sound like much, but I need to have a map of sorts in my head to feel comfortable.

Another thing about living next to mountains: the ski resort just 30 minutes from me still had 69 inches of snow yesterday and people are skiing today; the temperature in the valley yesterday was 98 degrees.  What a difference a little elevation makes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

What to do, what to do?

I heard someone say once that the things you have to do expand to fill the time you have to do them.  I didn't really understand the reality of that until, for the first time in 38 years, I had lots of time. In years past I would stop by the store on my way home from school; it took 20 minutes or so.  Now I can spend 45 minutes and buy exactly the same number of things.  

I used to decide what to prepare for dinner and have it on the table within about 45 minutes.  Now even thinking about what to cook takes ages longer than that.  I have to admit that I do like the dinner prep time.  I think the meals are more often better too.

It takes ages longer for errands because I don't have to hurry--no one cares.  I have decided that I probably need a new, interesting hobby.  I read like crazy (thank heavens for our fabulous county library system); I can knit and crochet but I like to have a purpose and I need to be in the mood; I'm not interested in learning to quilt or scrapbook; I've taken water color lessons but didn't love it enough to do it on my own; and I had to give up horse riding when we moved to the city and sold my mare.  I'm thinking about taking classes in various things, but right now I travel between cities so it's kind of tricky.  Maybe once I'm in one place, things will pop up.  Any other suggestions?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sky Watch First Time

My first experiment with Sky Watch.  I'm not sure I know what to do exactly, but I'll try.

This is out the front door.  One of our local ski resorts is still open this weekend, yet it's 85 degrees outside.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's like annoying...

Being near a few young people for a minute--passing in the store--it was like annoying.  

"She was like bugged by somebody who was like telling her dumb stuff.  It was like duh, don't I know that? Then she like yelled at me and I like told her to like go away.  I was like 'You're just being dumb.'  And she said, 'Like what do I care?' So I like walked away."

I don't know how this "like" thing started, but it seems to have stuck.  I know very intelligent people--even some in their 30s and 40s who still tend to do it a little.  It seems to be an all purpose descriptor.  I think if people were to hear themselves speaking, maybe they would recognize how often they say it and how odd it is.  To some of us it's just like silly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's fair?

I've been thinking today about fairness.  What exactly does that mean?  In classrooms, it's vitally important that students perceive things as being fair.  But in life, what does that mean? Politicians always promote their own brand of fairness: the rich should pay more so we can give money to the poor, or businesses and the wealthy should be taxed less so they can use their money to create opportunities for people.  Which is more "fair" will depend on who you ask.   

I've often heard people say that life isn't fair.  What would need to happen to make it fair?  Everyone would need to have the same level of intelligence, the same work ethic, the identical support system, the exact physical appearance, equal health status, the same education, and identical powers of creativity and initiative.  That might be fair, but where would be the opportunity for some to excel?  Who would have the notion to create things that others wanted to buy?  What would happen if we all had the same amount of money? What if we all had exactly the same skill at math, the same grasp of language, identical abilities at writing?  Who would be the astronomer?  The author? The microbiologist?

Is it fair that one person becomes a heart surgeon and another an auto mechanic?  Is it fair that someone drives a newer car than I do?  Is it fair that someone's house is bigger than mine?  I hear ads saying, "Get the things you deserve."  Who has determined what each of us deserves?   What did we do to deserve it?  It's a mentality that frightens me.

Do we expect the same from everyone?   When I need a mechanic, a surgeon is useless. When my bathtub leaks, an attorney is no help.  I have a brother who graduated in math and a brother who hated math in college, and yet they are both successful adults.  Different is good, even if it's not exactly fair.

This is not what I started out to say, it just sort of grew on its own.  

Monday, June 16, 2008

Signs, signs

I've been thinking a little lately about some of the signs I see.  Driving between our two residences there was a sign about a "prescribed burn" so "don't report."  The sign was out of date because there was nothing burning, but I wondered why it was "prescribed"?  The dictionary says one of the meanings of prescribed is "a rule that an action should be carried out."  So I guess the sign was saying the "burn" should occur... so I guess it did?    I have a few actions that I'd like carried out, can I prescribe something?  Would anyone care?

Another sign we chuckled about was "professional detailing" for automobiles.  Doesn't one become professional simply by receiving pay for doing something?  I think I'd like amateur detailing--much cheaper.

The most common sign that makes us laugh is "For Sale by Owner."  After all, who else has authority to sell?  I'd like to see a sign that said "For Sale by Neighbor" (to get rid of annoying dog owners) or "For Sale by Close Personal Friend" (because someone didn't repay that friendly loan).   Those would be interesting signs to read.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Being alone is okay too

Someone was telling me about a wife that was distressed because her husband was away for a few days.  She missed him terribly.  I have to say I laughed a little.  Fortunately the lonely wife didn't know I laughed, but I couldn't help myself.  I enjoy it when my husband is gone for a few days.  I like the time alone.  I eat when I get hungry, fix whatever I feel like eating, watch the programs I like (with full control of the remote), sleep when I want, stay up late reading, whatever. When you live with another person, you have to coordinate, compromise, adapt.  Not when you're alone.

It is nice to know that he'll be back.  We'll adjust to being together again.  I know I enjoy his absences more than he enjoys mine, but that's because the basic household duties (cooking, laundry, shopping) have always been mine, so his routines differ more than mine do when we're apart.  We're likely to be apart more for the next year as I move into our retirement home more full time and he continues to work several days a week in the city--flying back and forth.  It will be okay.  Occasionally I'll leave him a big pot of stew or  chili, or homemade things we can freeze and reheat.  We've done this kind of thing before and it may have been good for us.  After all, we've been married 40 years (we were babies).  Maybe a little break now and then makes us more appreciative of the time we can be together, then again, maybe it's just the break we need to stand each other--hard to tell.  

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Getting creative

My Gen -X friend is going to tell me how to put up a more creative, unique background.  As soon as I figure it out, I should be very stylish...or strange.  Anyway, I know that I can always change back if I end up thinking I went overboard.  

My teacher friends (May 15, Shared History post) and I are having a difficult time getting together for our monthly dinner.  We seem to be pulled in all different directions.  One of our group had the idea last month to take our picture.  We were only missing our youngest colleague, but we'll have to get her too next time.   It was a thoughtful thing to do and she sent us all a copy.  Sara is on my left (still in the teaching trenches), Sheila is across from me (working with kids in a whole different environment), and Becca is on her right (working in district administration).  We vent, laugh, share, and laugh some more.  

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Driving Entertainment

I had to make a 3-hour drive today and listening to the radio was my entertainment.  I was thinking about language and how it changes.  

What does "pre-order" mean?  If one does that doesn't it mean they are ordering something--just before it is released?  Do we need to pre-order before we order?  I understand how a car can be "pre-owned."  It's just a short-cut for previously owned--nicer than "used."  But pre-order?

If we use Direct Buy, things will cost "almost half" of what they would cost at retail.  I think the original idea may have been that one would save almost half, but something got switched writing the commercial to fit the time available.  Isn't a cost of "almost half" kind of a strange thing to say, like it would be even better to cost "half"?

I also think "evaluating an investigational medication" seems redundant.  If we are investigating a medication, isn't it also an evaluation?  Is that too simple?  Not enough legal language?

I haven't even mentioned the subject/verb disagreements that I hear all the time, especially with compound subjects.  That's fodder for another day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Learning the technology

As I have found new blogs to read, I notice how many seem to have such comfort with computer technology.  Many have pictures--lovely pictures--with captions every day.  Some have clever formats and backgrounds, with sections for other information, some have music (although I'm not crazy about that).  I'm not sure how to do any of that.  I've been blogging for just a few months and I have learned a few things: I've edited my profile, changed my format a couple of times, and added links and a few labels.  There is still a lot to learn. 

I think the advantage Generation X has (there are lots and lots of them in the blogosphere) is a lack of fear.  They are not worried about breaking the computer or doing something that cannot be fixed. I'm about half as brave because I'm not worried about breaking anything.  My mother and mother-in-law, however,think even using a computer is frightening. My grandchildren are so comfortable that they want their own laptops, more memory, faster drives, and better video.  Too bad I don't have them nearby; they could help me make my blog more interesting.  I'll keep bravely plugging away.  It's good for "mature" people to challenge their brains.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Points of View

I ran into a new blog today, but I'm not certain I'll go back.  It was written by someone proclaiming to be a "proud Democrat."  This person then spent time complimenting someone who shares her view and railing against those who do not.  Now I know people who claim to be Democrats, just like I know people who claim to be Republicans.  Most of these people do not, however, choose to be identified by their political leanings.  People whose descriptions contain political notations are too intense for me.  I am many things, but my political beliefs do not describe me.  I have always thought it was amazing how people can claim to be champions of understanding and polite debate, then resort to name-calling when disagreed with.

I am worried that the county I love is in trouble, economically and emotionally.  I am going to hate the next four months of campaigning (thank heaven for TiVo), but I will take more time to study the candidates and vote for whichever I believe will be the best for America.  I am afraid that neither choice is as good as it could be,  but running for President is a grueling fight and often a thankless job.  I wouldn't want it. 

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Horse Racing

While I was growing up, my grandparents were involved in racing thoroughbred horses.  They only raced in local races, never leaving the western states.  They had horses that were well-known locally, some of which won prestigious races.  But racing was never their whole life; it was a hobby, something they enjoyed, and they loved their horses.  The horse most locals remember (the over 50 crowd)  was also one of the sweetest.  There is a picture of he and I standing together (I was holding the lead rein) when I was about a year old.  

I watched the Belmont Stakes today, hoping that Big Brown would pull it off and be the first Triple Crown Winner in 30 years.  It was not to be--again.  The announcers kept talking about how something must be wrong with him; he must be hurt.  It's almost as though they forgot that horses aren't machines; they are living creatures.  Some days they feel better than other days.  They have personalities, moods, and opinions.  Big Brown's trainer may come out with reasons why he didn't run the way he could.  Those reasons may or may not be accurate, Big Brown is the only one who really knows.  It's too bad that today was the day he didn't feel up to par, but that's horse racing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Too old for cold

Have you noticed that children don't seem to feel the cold?  Parents nag about wearing coats, they buy hats and gloves, and kids discard them on the playgrounds.  Visiting at my mother's a couple of weeks ago, it was cool outside.  My young nieces would put coats on their children, only to pick them up off the lawn later.  The children didn't think it was uncomfortably cold. I had on two t-shirts and a jacket--I thought it was.  I have had students whose winter coats (and this is northern Utah--we hosted the winter Olympics) were sweatshirts (hoodies).  

Maybe something happens to our metabolism, maybe our brains finish developing, maybe age creates a shrinking comfort zone.  Whatever.  Sometime along the way we begin to feel the cold and choose to dress accordingly.  Personally, I am part lizard.  Anyone who knows me knows that if I am warm, it is warm!  I don't get properly comfortable until about 77 degrees, I never wear short sleeves before mid-June, and I don't complain about the heat. In fact, I think I'll go outside and soak up some sunshine now (but not without a little sunscreen for my skin).   

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Old as Dirt

I got thinking, after yesterday's post, that I had wanted some of the things that were not really available when I was a youngster.  I forget sometimes how old I am.

There was no such thing as dental floss when I was a kid.  I could have brushed more often though.

There was also no sunscreen.  I was never much of a sunbather, because I just freckled, but baby oil was all I remember putting on my skin.  I did, however, spend lots of time outside.  I guess there was good in that--lots of exercise.

I have sometimes spoken to students about my youth: dresses to school, no microwave, no cell phone, no video games, black and white television (when I was a little older) with three channels, record players (what are those?), no hand-held calculators (much less computers), Saturday matinees with a newsreel, cartoon, and serial (I had to explain), no curling irons, no blow dryers.  Then I'd tell them that the dinosaurs had just died off so it was okay to play outside.  

Okay fellow baby boomers, what have I forgotten?  Those of you under 45 will have to think of your own list.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Taking care of yourself

I'm not planning to dwell on this too much, but I just got back from the dentist and my upper lip and nose are numb--I hate a numb nose.  

About the time I was into my early 50s, I realized that there are a few things that--had I known then what I know now--I'd have taken better care of.  (I realize that people, like me, who care about grammar would be distressed by that sentence, but I'm leaving it.)  There are lots of physical and mental attributes that can be adjusted at almost any time in life.  But, there are some things that the carefree attitudes of youth can alter forever.  I can think of two things that I wish I had cared for with greater diligence:  my skin and my teeth.  I am very fair-skinned, freckled like crazy when I was young, and easily sunburned.  I wish I had used more sunscreen and moisturizer.  I'm dedicated now, but the wrinkles are there to stay.  I was very lucky that my teeth have always been quite straight, but if I had brushed more often, and flossed daily when I was young maybe I wouldn't have so many fillings and crowns.  Although now people get a mouth-full of crowns or veneers just so they can have an extra-white, dazzling smile.

The third thing that I think people should be more careful with when they are young is hearing.  Fortunately, my hearing is still very good (my husband calls it bionic), but lots of my friends and relatives have lost acuity.  I'm afraid with the iPod we'll have an entire generation of people with hearing loss in their 30s and 40s.  You don't realize you're hurting it until it's gone.

Someone once asked my sister whether she'd rather be blind or deaf (who knows how that conversation came up).  Cindy, in her straightforward fashion, said she'd rather be blind.  She said if someone is blind, people try to help them; if someone is deaf, people are just annoyed by them.  I think she has a point.

Skin, teeth, hearing...three things to take care of when you're young, so you can enjoy them when you're not.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Reading Obituaries

Lately I have found myself looking at the birth dates of people in the obituaries.  I'm surprised by the number who are younger than I am.  I don't think of myself as being anywhere near death--but I suppose a lot of people who died didn't either.  

It would help if families who write the obits include the cause of death.  Some do: "massive heart attack," "valiant bout with cancer," "automobile accident," etc.  But when someone in their 20s to 50s dies, and no cause is listed, I wonder.  What tragedy cut that life short?  If it doesn't say, I'm left to speculate:  drug overdose, suicide, HIV related causes, something out of the ordinary that took a life way too soon and embarrassed a family.  Obviously, thirty-something-year-olds don't generally die peacefully in their sleep.

Funny thing is, I have been at death's door twice.  The first time I didn't really believe it. Even when the doctors explained how sick I was, it didn't register.  I always planned to get better and did--quickly (partly because I didn't realize how sick I was before).  The second time, I knew I was in trouble.  I even got my surgeon to move up our "appointment" because I was afraid I couldn't hold on any longer (he later told my husband that they had already waited nearly too long--I was a mess).  But again, I planned to heal.  I still had a teenager at home who needed me.  Looking back I can see how very lucky I am to be this old.

Still, I think I'll try to make sure I write my own obituary (if reading the newspaper is any indication, I need to do it now).  My sons or hubby may want to edit a little, but I'll make sure it includes the cause of my death so readers like me don't have to speculate.  I'm hopeful that it will just be "causes incident to old age."