Thus Far My August Has Not Been The Best

Here we go…

GOBSMACKED.  My car, parked legally on our street, was in an accident.  I found out about this when a neighbor, then a police officer, came to our front door to tell me that someone had rear-ended my vehicle.  Was it another car? A truck? A van or SUV? A person on a motorcycle?

No it was not.

It was a man on a bicycle who was going so fast that when he lost control he propelled himself through my back windshield, shattering it to bits.  And hurting himself so much that he had to be airlifted to a hospital across town.

[I have no further information on his condition at this time and my car is in the process of being repaired.]

DISAPPOINTED.  When Google Reader shut down a few years ago, I started using Feedly as my RSS reader.  I was thrilled with their straightforward, fresh and easy-to-use format.

In fact, as one of the early community members I told everyone I knew about this service because there was no fuss when reorganizing your feeds, no distractions when reading your chosen content.

Earlier this spring, I graciously consented to take a few in-house Feedly surveys, each of which had about a gazillion questions.  In my responses I praised what the company was doing, telling them that I appreciated how they were staying true to the idea that simplicity is best.

Well, Feedly didn’t listen to me.  And last week they changed their simple box-oriented organizational format to a cluttered mess of feeds, shown in lists overburdened with distracting data.  When I asked Feedly what the heck was going on, they told that the community wanted this.

Really? Hmmm. Not everyone.

[Therein I will leave this story, wiser to the truth in the old saying: if you aren’t paying for it, you’re the product.]

EXHAUSTED.  Our 3 to 4 week remodeling project, that started on June 5th, is now into week 10.  We’re still waiting for the rest of the decorative tile to arrive– and now we’re waiting for the second custom frame for the shower doors to arrive.

Why?  The first custom frame, measured correctly, was then created in the factory incorrectly.  This first frame, when installed in our bathroom, was too short for the doors.

So until a new frame arrives, sometime before Christmas one hopes, we have shower doors leaning against the wall in the bedroom, rather than serving, what I would believe to be, their intended purpose in the bathroom.

[This project has had more unanticipated screw-ups than even I could envision– and I’m pretty damned creative & fretful when planning anything.]

SADDENED.  It is with sorrow that I share with you, my gentle readers, that Fuzzy the Squirrel has passed away.  I’d been seeing less of him around the deck this summer, and when I did see him he was moving slowly, not even bothering to swipe a few tomatoes from my pot.

Last week while watering flower beds out back of the house, I found his almost lifeless body, under a bush near our lower level patio.  He glanced at me, then rolled his eyes upward, as he twitched his right front paw in the air.

Shortly thereafter he was gone from this world.  However, Fuzzy will be remembered forever in the pages of this blog.  May he RIP.

[All stories about Fuzzy the Squirrel are here.]

Apparently You Cannot Motivate Me With One Written Word

To thine own self be true…

LATE LAST WINTER I STUMBLED on an article that was about how to be more productive.  I wasn’t looking for an article on that topic, but for some reason when I saw this particular article I stopped to read what it had to say.

The gist of this article, that I did not save the link to, told me that if anyone [who reads English, I’m assuming] sees the word ACHIEVE while working at any task, then that anyone will be more productive.

So being a curious open-minded person who happened to be bored on a winter afternoon, I wrote “Achieve” on a post-it note and put the post-it note where I’d see it when I sit at my desktop computer every day.

The premise of this idea seemed a little woo-woo to me, but I thought: Why not? I’ll keep the note where it is for spring and then when summer arrives I’ll evaluate what has happened.

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SUMMER IS HERE NOW SO it’s time for me to weigh in on the efficacy of this visual aid: that is, have I been inspired to new heights of productivity because I see the word ACHIEVE every day?

As much as I want to say “yes, this ezpz solution has helped me be more productive,” I’m going to be honest and tell you, my gentle readers, that I don’t think I’ve been any more or less productive since I put this post-it note in my line of sight.

I, of course, have no way of verifying my finding because I have no baseline level of productivity from which to start my study, so my conclusion is entirely subjective… rather like the idea in the article that prompted me to try this experiment.

But what I have learned about myself from this little foray into the land of inspirational signage is that for me the desire to do things has to come from within, and cannot be supplanted by one random word… no matter how clearly or often I see that word.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Do you find yourself motivated when you see an inspirational sign with one word on it?

OR

Do you find yourself to be motivation-resistant to one word signs like I am?

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Say What? Botox & The Fine Art Of Conversation

HERE’S A NEW-TO-ME PROBLEM…

I’m Botox-free, but have a micropeel at the skin care department of a doctor’s office every couple of months.  I started doing these peels about 15 years ago, on the advice of a doctor who told me they’d reduce my acne.

And they did.

Now I continue to have them because they keep my skin looking clear and healthy. Plus the peels kind of reduce wrinkles. Sort of.

I admit to being vain, to a point, so I’m not going to stop using them any time soon.

BUT HERE’S THE THING…

I’m beginning to interact with people in my real life who have availed themselves of the other services that this type of doctor’s practice provides.  That is to say lately various people who I know have wrinkle-free frozen faces that seem to be the result of using Botox.

I’m talking about people as young as their late 20s and as old as their late 60s whose faces suggest to me [or sometimes they tell me*] that Botox is part of their regular skin care routine.

To be clear here, I’m not writing this post to pass judgment on whether anyone who does this medically approved procedure is more, or less, beautiful because of it.

Do what you want, that’s cool by me.  Be pretty in your own way.

No, what I’m getting on about here is the fact that these people suddenly appear to be devoid of emotions.

AND IT’S THE DARNEDEST THING.

I’m an above average communicator with the ability to read people… if they give me something to read.  Yet I cannot, for certain, tell you if when speaking with these Botox-ed people if they understand what I’m saying, or asking.

There’s no emotion.  There’s no feedback.

And to be honest, as an introvert interacting with seemingly non-empathetic people who lack expressions, I feel more alone than usual.

And a little bit scared.

Because without some visual clue from a person about what’s going on within their mind, I’m left to parse their words to determine if what I said was, at least, heard– and then, possibly, understood.

I mean, suddenly I’m conversing with people who are most likely distracted, complicated, perhaps even not the clearest communicators to begin with– and now I have to guess what they’re feeling, too?

Groovy.  Just groovy.

* So are they confiding in me?  Or are they telling me I need Botox, but they don’t want to come out and say so?

Out For A Walk: “Love You, Annie”

IN ANTICIPATION OF A haircut appointment tomorrow, I’ve been trying to decide what to do about my graying blonde hair. “Gronde” as it’s known in hair salon lingo.

Out for a walk yesterday I was lost in my thoughts, contemplating this very important issue, when I walked by a property under construction.  There were men working on the outside of the building.

As I walked by I heard one of them shout at me: “Love you, Annie.”

This made no sense to me but I smiled, waved my hand at him, and continued on with my walk.

ABOUT HALF A BLOCK later it occurred to me in a hey-wait-a-minute moment that I may have misheard what the guy shouted at me.

That what the man shouted at me was: “Love you, Granny.”

Meaning that from afar I appeared to be, of all things, a grandmother.

Peeved and dismayed as I was by this disturbing realization that shook my ego to its core, it dawned on me that I had my answer about what to do about my gronde hair.

Hence, tomorrow’s hair appointment will include highlights, lowlights– and any other lights available– to reduce the grayness in my fading blonde hair.

Because Granny?!

Me thinks not.

No Horses. No History. Just Happiness Courtesy Of The Blue Sky Above.

When it’s a glorious day outside and it comes to finding something to photograph, I’m nothing if not persistent.

•  PLAN A: HORSES  I drove to the horse vet wanting to photograph the horses that are usually standing around in his fields. However, when I got there not one horse was anywhere to be seen, so I kept driving.

•  PLAN B: HISTORY  I drove to a tiny 200-year-old village that, when photographed while standing on its bridge over the river, would make for an interesting photo.  However, when I got there the river was high, the sidewalks were muddy, and the wind was gusting.  Standing on the bridge didn’t seem safe to me, so I decided to go someplace else.

•  PLAN C: HAPPINESS  Dreamed up on the fly, I decided to drive to the canoe rental place and walk the bike path that runs by the canoe rental place, using the opportunity to photograph the blue sky above and whatever might be underneath it.  As the following four photos show, this plan worked.

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The Beginning Of My Life As A Purposeful Procrastinator

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-8-15-02-amTwenty years ago this month Zen-Den and I bought a dial-up modem that we used to connect our home computer to the World Wide Web– and our lives changed forever.

For a few years before this, we’d been using a home computer to keep track of finances and to make a recipe book– well, one of us was making a recipe book.  These uses of a home computer seemed modern enough to us, but with a snazzy new modem we had the luxury of the WWW in our home.  Imagine!

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I knew about email because in college I had an email address.  That was only because I was part of an early academic study on how strangers interact with each other on the World Wide Web.

[Back then, the answer would be formally, as if writing a letter and responding back to each other on a weekly basis.]

I also knew a little bit about getting information from the web, although my experience had been with college librarians who were the only people with direct access to computers that connected to the WWW.

[Back then I’d give my query of keywords, perfectly parsed a la Boolean logic, to a librarian who then input my query into a computer.  Hours later I’d get a printout of where to go in the bricks-and-mortar library to read whatever it was I was researching.]

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But what I didn’t know about the WWW was how much I’d fall in love with it, and its ability to provide information and conversation instantly.

Now, of course, it seems completely normal. Pedestrian.

But I tell ‘ya when we first went online at home in 1997, I never dreamed that the World Wide Web would be the making of me.  And that the screechy sound of our dial-up internet connection was heralding my quirky future as a purposeful procrastinator with a blog.

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Questions of the Day

When did you first get connected to the WWW in your home?

How has your life changed because of it?

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The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher

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{ tweet by @ericweiskott }
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So which public school teacher inspired and encouraged me the most?  Who had, and still has, the greatest influence on who I am today?

{ drum roll please }

My answer would be: Mrs. L——-, my high school sophomore English teacher.

She was the first teacher to ever tell me I knew how to write.  All the other teachers before her, many good women and men, assumed we kids didn’t know what we were doing.  But not Mrs. L——-, whose first + middle name was Clover May.

By the time I had Clover May she was nearing retirement– and didn’t give a rat’s tutu about what she was supposed to teach or how to teach it.  She’d done this teaching gig for so long that she intuitively knew how to get kids to write.

So instead of closely following any textbooks or lesson plans, Clover May would tell us funny little stories from her own life*, then have us tell a similar story from our lives… in writing.

She believed anyone could write.  It wasn’t a big deal.  All you had to do was talk about what happened & BE SPECIFIC.  Details like grammar and spelling could always be adjusted after you wrote down what happened specifically.

Yes, Clover May believed in all of us and our ability, perhaps yet untapped, to write a good story… as long as you were specific.

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* One of Mrs. L——-‘s funniest stories had to do with her given name.  From day one she insisted that we kids know her full name.  While decorum dictated that we call her Mrs. L——-, she believed we should know her first + middle name because this was an example of how to BE SPECIFIC.

So when Mrs. L——- discovered that one of her less-than-enthusiastic students could not remember her name correctly, she was ready to be perturbed.  However, she couldn’t be upset with this kid, who apparently lived on a farm, because the way he confused her name was so clever that she had to laugh.

You see, this kid, who had been sort of listening to what she said, thought that Clover May’s name was… Alfalfa June.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

If you went to public schools, who was your favorite teacher? And why?

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