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Just elsewhere. Please friend me on Facebook if you wish...

I will make a renewed effort to manage my time better going forward and visit my friends' LJs.

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First, hello to everybody who might still follow this-here. I know it's been ages -- I blog elsewhere, and there's also Facebook and Twitter...  But I do come here to keep up with my friends. And the best LOLcats on the web.

So hi. Here's a scribble of what I noted to myself this a.m., offline:

Well, I'm gonna make the mortgage payment "by the skin of my teeth," as Mom would have said. I remember all the times she panicked over this type of thing saying "They're gonna take my house away!" and I'd visualize our turquoise-painted Cape Cod loaded onto the back of a trailer, disappearing down Hempstead Turnpike. I remember saying, once, "Don't worry, Mom, they won't take it. It's too heavy to pick up. I tried it myself just yesterday!" Apparently, my thinkful-wishing worked because my parents stayed in that house for 31 years until they retired to Florida. 

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Pardon the baby talk, but...

 I love my leedle keety. She take her medicine like a googirl!!!

In two days she's going in for some extensive dental work under anesthesia.  The original plan was to get her spayed, but it's been over a year since we found her in the church parking lot, so waiting  a few more months won't make that big a difference (she doesn't go out).  She's got terrible tartar and gum inflammation that's affecting her entire body -- when she licks her paw to clean her face it gets into her eye, etc. She's on amoxicillin now to prepare for the surgery and it's easy to see that her mood has already improved.

So think happy thoughts for Precious.  She's our bay-bee.

Precious

My Godpuppy

One of the mechanics where I work told me, just before Christmas, that he wanted to adopt a German Shepherd puppy.  Unlike me, he does not spend most of his waking moments on the internet, so he was uncertain as to how to go about finding a breeder.  It was pretty easy to bring up a list of local breeders (and wow, there were a lot to choose from).  Over the holidays he found a puppy --  he was surprised at how very young it was ("It looked more like a ball of pizza dough than a puppy!" he said) but apparently he and the little one took to each other very readily.  Not hard to believe; he's a very good-natured guy, a "gentle giant" type.  

Yesterday I came in to find a framed photo of "Gucci" (a pseudonym), dozing under a huge Santa hat.  She is just over a month old and already weighs 10 pounds.  Her paws are enormous, according to my co-worker.  "She's gonna be a bruiser!"  The photo is a thank-you for helping him get adopted by Gucci.  It occupies a place of honor on my desk, near a photo of Precious, my sweet kitty.

I have never had a godpuppy before, but it feels nice.

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NQTPPoD

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, do you have any favorite TV shows or events that you associate with this holiday? If so, why do you love them?

Not Quite Trivial Pet Peeve of the Day:

People who walk past your house in the pre-dawn hours and yell something loudly enough to wake you (as well as all the local dogs) 30 minutes before the alarm clock comes on.

This phenomenon is unique to neighborhoods such as mine.

My computer luurves me again...

 My computer and I have been together 4 and a half years.  We have a good relationship, considering that the machine is huge and clunky and obsolete and highly unfashionable.  I even have a CRT monitor (gasp!).  

This is probably the 5th computer I've owned since the early 1990s when this internet thing caught on.  I think anyone who's owned more than one can relate to the learning process you go through.  When you're young and/or inexperienced with the internet, you're going to click randomly on any bright, shiny thing that gets your attention.  Things that say "Someone has a crush on you" or "You've just won!"  etc.  

Then your system crashes bigtime; you take it to the shop where they clean out the viruses and perhaps throw in a little advice about antivirus software, firewalls and what not to click.  You remember this and apply it for the next computer you get.  But there's always something that can bring down your system; the evildoers work tirelessly to screw the unsuspecting user.

But by the time you get into your 30s and/or power up your 4th or 5th computer, you've become a lot savvier and more cautious. I credit this process with the fact that my computer is still doing well and causing me very few moments of panic.

I had a moment like that this morning.  I use Google Chrome as a web browser. If you've never tried Chrome, I heartily recommend it.  So much more user-friendly than Explorer and much less temperamental and full of itself than Firefox.  

But my good friend Google kept crashing on me, giving me warnings that start with "Oh, Snap!"  It happened 3 different times until finally I simply  hit restart.  When the system came back up, I went into Control Panel/Add & Remove Programs.  This is a very good and inexpensive way to help clean up your system if you suspect that "something's gotten in there" to cause problems.  Sure enough, I found a few things I didn't recognize.  I ignore anything that starts with Dell, MIcrosoft or Intel but carefully scrutinize anything I'm not sure I installed myself.  I even took out a few things I knew about, like TweetDeck, which requires Adobe Air, and which annoys me more often than not.  I can live without it for now.  

Once this was done, yeah, the system was back to normal.

Hope this helps if you're in a similar situation.  The holidays are coming up, and Mercury is going retrograde until the end of December, so we might as well be prepared for some battles.

Cheers!

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TTPPoD: There Ain't No "Local" Anymore

TTPPoD is short for Totally Trivial Pet Peeve of the Day.


Here's a homepage from a newspaper containing a story a friend referred me to:

http://dailyitem.com/homepage

The friend didn't mention the location; he was merely sharing the reactions. But as I continued reading, my curiosity grew regarding just where this incident had taken place.

I like to know these things. Maps and orientation are important to me. My father taught me how to read a map before I started kindergarten, and have been known to rewrite quickie directional maps that people draw, to put "North" at the top of the page. A lot of people haven't the slightest idea what "North" means and they get annoyed at me when I do this, but too bad. Americans who have never traveled anywhere don't realize that our easy access to maps, globes, atlases and GPS systems is not universal. If you lived in China, you might never see a map for sale in a store, and GPS systems would be used by the authorities to track you, not to help you find a travel destination.

So getting back to this online newspaper. I kept reading the story, which mentioned Middleburg, Mt. Pleasant Mills, Routes 11 and 13, Liverpool, "the state line," Newport, and Northumberland County.

I still didn't know which state it was, though I surmised it was the U.S. because it mentioned a state line. The name Middleburg sounded like Pennsylvania to me, but Newport could be Virginia, Mt. Pleasant could be Michigan, and Northumberland could be Pennsylvania, Virginia, or New York.

My next click was on the "About Us" page, which gave a long history of the newspaper, but again, nothing more specific than "Sunbury and The Valley."

Finally, I clicked the weather section and got "Sunbury Pennsylvania."

I supposed sports-minded readers (which does not include me) would have nailed it sooner, since "Penn State results" appears at the top of the page, even more prominently featured than the "About Us" blurb.

My point is, I encounter this on a regular basis. I start with CNN quite often, and get directed to the local sources of stories. It's amazing how frequently CNN won't give a dateline, and the local online paper they refer to shows NO identifying information as to what town, city or state they're located in. It's always something generic like "NewsChannel 9 -- Keeping You Up to Date." I think every metro area in the country has a "NewsChannel 9" or an "Eyewitness News" or a "News-Courier, since 1886"

Attention newspapers and broadcast media:  It's the 21st century and just because most of your audience is local, this is changing as aggregators such as CNN, HuffPo and Fark pick up your local man-bites-dog story and share it with the world. It would be really helpful to prominently mention where you're based so that readers don't have to go searching for it.

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 Have I ever mentioned that I love my doctor?  He's my hero.  He's a member of an organization I'm involved with, and I like to think that this is why I can ALWAYS get an appointment or a prescription with a minimum of fuss. 

He's so smart.  Doctors are *supposed* to be smart, but some of them don't give that impression at all.  This guy, however...very knowledgeable; follows the literature avidly.  He was the first ever to mention Vitamin D, which has become all the rage in the last 2-3 years.  I had begun "arming" myself with snippets from online articles to ask him about during my appointments.  He could sit and chat about medical literature for the better part of an hour.  He never gave the impression that he was ruled by his appointment book, and actually, the most difficult thing you could do in his office was just expect him to "fix" a problem.  He always took the long view, wanting patients to understand that what seems like an isolated issue is really part of a much larger continuum, and it won't do to address 5% of your physical health while taking the other 95% for granted.

That having been said, when I last saw him, about five months ago, he did have to focus on an isolated problem.  It was one of those "I'll-die-of-embarrassment" type things that everyone hopes they'll NEVER have to contend with.  He got the synopsis from the nurse, and was already gearing up to take his usual "wide-angle" approach.  It was only when he got a good look that he realized that this was one that couldn't be discussed out of existence.  He decisively snapped on those rubber gloves, got out the instruments of his trade and said "Okay, hop up on the table.  Better here than in an O.R. somewhere."  Within minutes, the embarrassment had been replaced by awe and a profoundly grateful sense of having been looked out for and taken care of.  I actually looked forward to my next visit, and this week, with one of my prescriptions in need of a refill, I cleared some space in my calendar and called his office to request the meds and an early-morning appointment for the beginning of next month.

A stammering nurse is never a good sign.  "Ummm, er, I'm sorry Ms. Mod, but we're not making any appointments or filling prescriptions.  Dr. Swafford is on medical leave."  Wha?  Because I know him from other venues, my first feeling was that of concern.  "Is he okay?" was the question that his staff, bound by professional standards, was unable to answer.  But the fact that there was no other doctor on call and they assured me that my insurance provider could "get" me another doctor, did not do much to alleviate my worries.  

Then came the annoyance, blessedly forgotten after all this time, of trying to set up an appointment with another practitioner.   Yes, yes, I freely admit that calling a medical office at 4:58 pm is probably not the best move, but I hadn't been paying attention to the clock.  It was busy at work, and it wasn't until everyone else had left that I finally got the time to call the insurance company and collect a few phone numbers.  I'm a grownup -- I can handle being told by office staff that they are about to close and could help me more effectively if I called the following morning.  Instead, they asked me to hold "a moment," which turned out to be just long enough to switch the phones over to the answering service, and then disconnect my call.  When I called back I got the service.  Ever notice how every medical answering service hires people who sound exactly like "Sergeant Schultz" from Hogan's Heroes?  "I know NO-THING!  NO-THING!"  Fine.  So I vented anyway, letting know that what the staff did was tacky in the extreme.  

I know enough gossipy people to get the scoop, sooner or later, on what happened to my beloved Dr. S.  Please let his leave be short and temporary.  The world needs that brain.
 Really, I DON'T spend my entire life griping, it just seems that way because I tend to post my gripes here!  

But here's the thing:  

Two nights ago I ended my daily 72-mile commute, not at home, but at a local deli.  The occasion was a kickoff meeting of a committee formed to explore solar-energy conversion at our church.  

These are not strangers by any means.  We've all known each other over 3 years and served on plenty of committees and other groups together.

During those three years, I believe it SHOULD have become apparent that I show up to things.  Plenty of people don't.  They either don't RSVP, or they suddenly have something else to do and no-show without calling, or they forget.  I do not do any of these.  I put the event on my calendars, and show up for the thing.  And if something does come up at the last minute (boss visiting, must work late / got sick midday / stuck in traffic / car won't start), I WILL call and let someone know, with an apology.  But one way or another, I'm either present or accounted for.

Okay.  So I get to the place a little early, call the organizer on my cell, advise via VM that I am at the deli and will go in and get us a table, since there will probably be quite a few of us.  I do this, sit down at the nice big table with a pretty view, get menus and order a drink.  Then, not having heard from Mr. Organizer, I call his wife.  She answers; I go into my spiel about how I'm here, I got us a nice table, and anyone coming in will be able to find it upstairs.  

A pause.  

Then, "Oh, Mili..."

Uh-oh...

"The meeting was LAST night."

"It wasn't the 21st?  I put it on Google Calendar, which automatically finds dates...?????"

"Yes, but didn't you get the other email about the date change?"

"Don't know.  Maybe it got into my spam filter."

But at any rate, no, there was not going to be a meeting, so I cancelled the drink order and slunk back to my car, feeling pretty foolish.  And hungry -- by that time of the day, you best not be standing between me and the fridge!  I hit a fast-food joint on the way home (the deli is upscale and since there was no reason to be there, I wasn't interested in a $20 sandwich, TYVM).  

Apparently, the change-of-date email got past me.  It was in my in-box but I didn't see it.  Maybe because the subject header was "Update," rather than "Change of date," which I definitely would have noticed.  Okay, my bad.

But here's what I'm mad about:  Half a dozen or more people who KNOW me, and nobody picked up a phone Tuesday night and called, wondering where the hell I was?  If they'd called me Tuesday I'd have been at home, and I could have gotten over there in about 20 minutes.  I'd have missed part of the meeting, but they took minutes.  

I could have been in a wreck, and yes, they know about my interstate commute to work.  But nothing.

And that bothers me.

The only thing to do with that anger (other than confront the parties involved, who would most likely reply, "What, you're not a grownup?  You expect us to babysit you and keep your calendar?") is to use it going forward.  Anytime I'm in a group of people and somebody no-shows, I AM GOING TO CALL AND CHECK ON THEM.  I had the opportunity to do this yesterday at work:  One of our sales reps, who's a bit older than me, was absent in the early morning, when he's usually on hand, greeting the rest of us and making coffee.  Midday, I checked on him and learned that he was making a lot of calls all morning...BUT HE APPRECIATED SOMEONE CHECKING TO BE SURE HE WAS OKAY.

It really is okay to "babysit" people you care about once in awhile, and it would have been nice to know someone cared enough to check on me Tuesday night.  And no, I probably will not go forward with the solar-search committee.  I don't believe in "signs" as a rule, but I think that was mine.

Three Wishes

Back in elementary school (most notably 4th grade), I had a host of problems in adapting to the learning environment.  Math was a weak spot, but language, social studies, music and most other subjects were well within reach for me.  My problem was relating to other people - "being in my own little world," and preferring to daydream and fantasize, rather than deal with concrete reality or engage in the back-and-forth of conversation.  

My teacher, who was lauded far and wide for his "great" teaching skills, had a big problem with me.  Looking back now, I suspect that he entertained some fantasies of his own:  He wanted to make Teacher of the Year or something along those lines.  And a student who didn't listen, pay attention, or behave the way he thought I should, was just messing up his rhythm, I guess.

So, he sent me to the school psychologist, Dr. Irving [not exactly his real name].  I had been sent to him back in 1st or 2nd grade, but remember little about that.  I think it was one session with Dr. Irving, and then I was referred for speech therapy.  I had a tendency to say things like "I were cold this morning" and pronouncing "L" as "W."  As I recall, these irregularities were corrected easily enough.  

But in 4th grade, there were quite a few more sessions.  Having worked for a psychologist a couple of decades later, I discovered that the "three wishes" question is standard, especially when interviewing a child.

I still remember the three wishes I gave, all those years ago:

I wish I could fly
I wish there were only cats in the world
I wish it would rain for two weeks.

Oddly enough, no one ever asked me why I wished these things.  The doctor merely responded to the first item by asking me to clarify whether I meant flying in an airplane or under my own power.  Heh, heh...guess which one it was...

I could easily have told them, even back then:

I wished to fly because it represented freedom.  I often dreamed of flying when I was young, and Superman was one of my favorite fictional characters.  

I wished there were only cats in the world because cats were simply easier to relate to.  We always had cats when I was growing up.  They were quiet, funny, affectionate, and uncomplicated.  A cat's presence was soft and soothing, unlike people, who made a lot of noise and a lot of demands.  I found people scary, weird, and largely incomprehensible, almost without exception.  

I wished it would rain for two weeks so that I could stay inside.  I didn't mind being outside in my yard, but anywhere else, there was a chance of running into mean kids from the neighborhood, or falling off my bike and getting hurt, or being challenged to do something physical, which I would most likely suck at.  Back at age 9, I didn't have to worry about driving.  If the road was flooded, the car would make cool waves that reminded me of the opening credits to Hawaii Five-O.  Inside the house, the sound of the rain was soft and soothing as it fell on the roof and the trees outside the window.  Indoors was an environment I could control, though my backyard was acceptable for most decent weather, even though Mom usually had to coax me to go out.

So those were my three wishes at age 9.

What would they be today?  Oh, so much more predictable and mundane!  

1.  I wish I could win a lottery jackpot.  Really.  You have no idea.  Once I got the (overflowing basket of) basic living expenses taken care of, I'd start a charitable foundation and quite possibly my own business.
2.  I wish I could travel back in time to those awkward, difficult years of elementary school, with today's perspective pre-loaded.  Once I grew my way back to age 51, I'd have to take stock as to whether I'd used this second chance wisely.
3.  There are morose moments when I wish my parents hadn't spent the first 17 years of their marriage attempting to become parents, finally succeeding in producing me.  As a slightly less Nietzschean alternative, I wish that they'd found a way to avoid their addictions to cigarettes and alcohol.

Here's to The Present...may we all remember that it IS a gift.
 

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