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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When Home Isn’t There Anymore This Is What You’ll See

This is what curiosity, based on nostalgia, will get you.

On a whim, while using Google street view to see what my doctor’s new office building looks like, I entered the address of where I grew up as a young child.

I was only thinking about my early childhood home because my dad’s modest medical office was on the first floor of the building, and we lived in the apartment above the office.

[Different times, eh?]

When I found the photo of where the building used to be I started laughing.  I mean, I haven’t been back to my hometown in over a decade, maybe longer, but when they say you can’t go home again, who knew it’d be literal for me, an English major educated to think figuratively?

However, be that as it may, getting to my point here, as the photo below proves, there is no house to go to anymore.  Of course, considering my family is long gone the loss of the building seems insignificant to me. Funny, even.

No doubt they’d laugh, too, if they saw this photo.

I’m sure that this just goes to show you something, but I’ll be darned if I know what that something is.

All I can tell you is this photo made me smile thinking about how everyone else shares lovely pics of the house they grew up in, but me?  I have a photo of a blank space.

Uh huh.

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Question Of The Day:

Have you ever searched online for a photo of where you used to live? If so, what did you find? If you’ve never tried searching, why not?  

How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 1 of 2]

Watching The Donald make an ass of himself while attempting to intimidate Hillary reminded me of this story from my childhood.

My father, a genius, did not suffer fools easily.

He had zero patience for stupidity combined with malice.  It’s from him that I learned how to shut down anyone who gets out of hand by flaunting his or her willful ignorance &/or bad manners in my face.

Be forewarned.

However, as a kid I was not naturally inclined to defend myself.  You see, I was a shy, bookish child with poor coordination, no siblings, and thick eyeglasses.

Bullies used me for target practice, because I was physically weak and because I was a girl and because of my legal first name.

In the first few weeks of kindergarten one bully, Karl, an oversized-oaf with pale blond hair and a need to be noticed [sound like anyone in particular?], started bugging me on the playground and in the classroom.

I was upset and didn’t know what to do.

When I told my mother, an introvert, about what was going on she gave me her general advice about people: “just ignore ’em.”  This, as you can imagine, was of no help to me in this situation.

Kindergarten is not the time for taking the high road.

So I turned to my father.

He listened to my problem then told me exactly what to do.  I didn’t understand what he wanted me to do, but I knew, even at a young age, that this guy had a way of dealing with people, so I did exactly what he said.

[Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.]

A Recipe For A Heart-y Dinner, So To Speak

Do you want to be happier about where you are in life?

Then I recommend you read the following recipe which will quickly make you incredibly content to be living in the modern world.

The recipe is from The Something-Different Dish, by Marion Harris Neil, Cookery Editor of Ladies’ Home Journal and author of this cookbook, published in 1915, a mere 101 years ago.

[She also wrote The Story of Crisco around this time. But I digress…]

Please keep in mind that a respectable cookbook published this recipe because [presumably?] people were eating things like this.

That they made at home.

Not that long ago.

So considering this reality, might I suggest that when you start to feel down about your life here in 2016, you need to remember that things could be a lot worse.

You could be eating Love In Disguise for dinner tonight.  😉

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X Is For XXXX Sugar, Top This Sort Of Excellence

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.04.48 AM“Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch, you know that I love you.  I can’t help myself, ‘cuz I love you and nobody else.”

These are the lyrics of a classic Motown song by the Four Tops, who have sung this song for decades.  This song mentions sugar, but we do not know if that sugar is XXXX [powdered] or granulated.

Now do we?

This means that for purposes of this A To Z Challengewhich never seems to end, I believe that the sugar mentioned in the above quote is of a fancy XXXX powdered variety, and not merely your everyday granulated sugar.

It could be true.

 So please, my gentle readers, indulge me as I snap my finger and wink my eye, sharing, what I’m going to say is, a perfectly acceptable post regarding the letter “X.”

Top that, people!

What Say We Try Kindness?

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 7.27.09 AMI’ve blogged for a long time.

In fact, while messing around the other day in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine for something unrelated to this blog, I found a logo from 10 years ago for an online group of bloggers who committed to using words kindly.

Although I’d forgotten about it, I was part of that group.

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We were an optimistic bunch.

We sincerely thought that blogging would evolve into a source of respectful understanding and positive connections among people in this world.

I’m charmed by the naiveté of it all.  Especially in light of the past few week’s endless noise on FB and vitriol on Twitter.

But of course those social media didn’t exist when this group formed, so we had no idea about what was coming.

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I rarely long for the good ole days.  

I realize that it’s easy to idealize remembrances of times past, and that these remembrances are often irrelevant when it comes to the issues of the day.

I’m a realist.  What was, isn’t.

But in this one case, regarding social media, I’m going to suggest that stepping back from how we as a society now do things would be a good idea.  The 24/7 insatiable need to be noticed and adored, which is how social media works currently, is not the best way to connect.

In contrast, looking back to 10 years ago, I remember how early blogging worked.  It was a heady experience that focused on authentic connections with other people, rather than the care and feeding of your ego.

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I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.

And that my small voice of reason is going to be drowned out by the selfie-absorbed, the narcissists, the haters, the trolls.  But occasionally I like to believe that I might influence someone in a positive way that encourages him or her…

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.05.09 AMTo re-connect with their heart.

To cool it with the focusing on what’s wrong with other people.

And instead, perhaps even– to say something kind to, and about, someone else.