Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Belted By Solar Rays - Part 2

Recap: The key to my parents' house wouldn't work. Wouldn't turn left. Wouldn't turn right. Couldn't get in through the garage or the bulk head. I just wanted to get in do a little more sifting and sorting and get out. I left restrained  "I'm not happy" voice mails on Himself's cellphone and office phone. I also sent an email for good measure.

Meanwhile back at the college, Himself was about to show his chemistry students a video demonstration. All his materials are housed on a virtual classroom site. For some reason, the video wouldn't  run. No problem. He had saved the link to the demo in an email. He called up his email and this is what appeared on the projection screen for all to see:

I hate the effin weeble* house! The effin key doesn't work. I made an effin wasted trip. I couldn't even break in through the effin garage!!

Call me when you get this

Me not happy

Imagine Himself trying to close the preview pane as quickly as possible. He didn't hear any giggling and he's not sure if people weren't paying attention to the screen or didn't know what to make of it. He called up the video link and went on with class as if nothing happened. He was embarrassed. I thought his reaction was hilarious.

*weeble: used to describe old people as in the Fisher-Price toy: weebles wobble but they don't fall down.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Intestinalus Pesticus

This little guy ruined our day and my blog post topic for today. Sunday, we had planned to go see the Pompeii exhibit at the Museum of Science. Unfortunately, The Eldest woke up with a stomach virus. We knew it would be a fast mover as Himself brought the pest home from the Germ Factory he works in. Over and done in one day. Two down, and two to go.

The little bas...bug seems to incubate in four days. Since I have plans to spend Thursday with a friend, odds are, I'm next.

Has this little pest made a visit at your house?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Search Engine

Google has announced it's changing its privacy policy.  On the surface, the policy changes seem harmless enough. They are meant to simplify the Google experience across all Google platforms: Gmail, Search, Youtube. Google wants to give each user a personalized experience. In a nutshell, users will be tracked to provide them with ads based on searches or preferences.  So what, right? That's what I thought until I read tech guru, Tod Maffin's article about why he stopped using Google to search the Internet. You should read the article, too.

Now I don't mean to be a Chicken Little, but privacy issues are something to give serious thought to. Facebook has launched the new Timeline which will list all of your Facebook stuff from the time you joined Facebook. Users can also add pictures and things going back to their birth, if they desire. Again, it seems harmless. Users also have the option of blocking or deleting status updates though you have to go back and look at each one. Maybe in a fit of not thinking, you uploaded a silly picture of yourself or made a rude status comment, or something you wouldn't want an employer or potential employer to see. (Though you really shouldn't be posting things that could come back to bite you.)

What to do? First, make sure of your privacy settings. Do you want to share all about you with the world or only with friends? What about search engine tracking? Tod has suggested using another search engine, Duck Duck Go. Duck Duck Go is ad free and your search results aren't tracked and reported to third party companies.

I gave Duck Duck Go at test run by searching on my name. Pleased to see that my webpage and LinkedIn page, and blog came up at the top of the page. Even a search for Pony Express yielded results though I had to scroll to the very bottom of the page. (Who woulda thunk there were so many Pony Express sites!)

Duck Duck Go doesn't offer the option to search just for images the way Google does. I miss that feature. Perhaps, Duck Duck Go will offer an image search as more and more people use their search engine.

And Duck Duck Go has followed Google's doodle idea by changing their logo. The handsome, incognito duck is reminding you today is Data Privacy Day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Friday Five

This little gal was one of the treasures in Ma's curio cabinet. Five things I love about the little fishie

1. She is cute in an ugly sort of way or ugly in a cute sort of way depending on your point of view.

2. She always made me smile

3. She made her appearance at all the holy day of obligation ( family holidays) or other events.

4. Imagine her with toothpicks studded with black olives and sweet gherkin pickles as she graced the table

5. My job was to skewer the olives and pickles and arrange her "scales"

But now what to do with her? She has only sentimental value even though she is some 60 years old. The holes aren't big enough for pens, nibs or brushes. Other than a dust collector, any ideas on how to repurpose her?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Belted by Solar Rays- Part One

Tuesday. The plan was to spend a couple two or three hours sifting and sorting through things at my childhood home. On the 45 minute drive, I thought of the area I would attack, what to keep, what to toss. After 68 years of marriage, I can't believe the amount of sh...stuff my parents have accumulated.

As I pulled into the driveway, my cousin called. The call ate into my schedule, but it was nice to have an ear to whine to. She didn't judge me for what I did, what I'm doing. She understands because she went through it.

Phone call done, I climbed the front steps and made a mental note of the yard cleanup that will need to be done to give the poor old place some curb appeal. Inserted key in the lock and turned the key to the right. Nothing.Turned it to the left. Nothing. What the? Pulled the door. Pushed the door. Turned the key. Nothing.

I thought I could go through the garage to the little porch and into the kitchen. The door to the porch is flimsy. I was pretty sure I could break in. I've easily gotten through the back door before. Himself showed me when I was a kid and forgot or lost my front door key. Only the door from the garage had been unlocked.

The garage door was heavy to lift. Heavier than I expected, and it wouldn't stay up. The coil was broken.I had raised the door to my chest, but couldn't lift it with enough force to heave it up over the curved portion of the track. Bracing the door with my shoulder and elbow, I managed to grab a pitchfork that was in the corner. I used this to prop the door open. It seemed to hold steady so I ducked low under the door being careful not to touch the pitchfork or brush my back along the bottom of the garage door. I'd seen enough Supernatural episodes to know the house was haunted and out to get me. One false move and the garage door would come crashing down decapitating me. I know. Not bright, but I was desperate.

The door leading to the porch was a lot sturdier than it looked. I found a garden tool, but wasn't able to get the deadbolt to budge.

Make my way to the front door. (Very carefully!) The mail truck slowed in front of the house. The mailman hasn't delivered mail to the house since July as I had my parents' mail transferred to a PO box at my local post office. I was sure the mailman would call the police. The neighborhood was quiet. No one was home. No one to identify me. I only hoped that Sgt. S would be on duty. He had picked Dad up a number of times in the dead of night as Dad was wandering around town. I had many, many conversations with Sgt. S. Tried the key again. Nothing. I rattled the door latch.

 I ran around to the patio. Maybe the bulkhead was open. No such luck. On the other hand no sirens. Back to the garage. I braced the door, moved the pitch fork within easy reach in case it was needed again, and slowly lowered the garage door.

One more time at the front door. I passed through frustration, anger, and then rage. The eff word was echoing around my brain. I clenched my teeth to keep the word from bursting out my mouth in a sonic boom. Wasted trip. Wasted day. I wanted to rip the storm door from its hinges. I wanted to crash through the front door leaving a Hulk-shaped hole.

The mail truck rolled slowly past. I jangled my keys in a great show of I belong here. I took my phone out of my pocket. I hoped the grimace on my face looked like a smile. I looked at the calender hoping beyond hope Himself had an office hour scheduled. He was teaching at the community college the next town over. Only 20 minutes away. He had an office hour schedule, but at 2 pm. I didn't feel like waiting three hours. I called his office and left a very reserved message about my predicament and ended the call with "I'm not happy." I left the same message on his cellphone voice mail, and for good measure, I sent an email. The Professor doesn't always check his voice mail.

I was still seething as I took the 45 minuted drive home. I wanted to scream the eff word so the echo would reverberate through space for millenia.

I heard on the evening news, there had been a huge solar eruption, the largest in several years. CJ Kennedy belted by solar rays, turns in to the Hulk. It was a good explanation. I'm calm now. All the animals have gone back into the forest.

Later, that evening, Himself told me how my chain of events effected him.

To be continued....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


What is  Pinterest? It's another social networking site where you collect images onto virtual bulletin boards as your surf the web or browse Pinterest.  The image is tagged with the URL where it was found. Your boards can be about any subject: arts, crafts, cooking. People use the boards for inspiration, plan weddings, or collect recipes. You can also follow other Pinners. It's a happy, little, time waster. Lots to look at and lots to pin.

Have you discovered Pinterest?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, January 23, 2012

National Handwriting Day

Today is John Hancock's birthday and National Handwriting Day. To celebrate the day, why not send someone a handwritten letter? Letterfu has clever templates you print out, write your letter, and when folded your letter forms its own envelope secured with the stamp.

How will you celebrate?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Toosl, Gadgets, and Widgets - iPad 2

One of the tools I'm relying on for day to day use is the iPad2. When we first got it, I thought it was going to be more or less a toy, but it's turned out to be so much more.

The calendar feature syncs with my iPhone so I no longer have to connect to the computer to make sure the calendar is in both places. And, if I'm at the computer, I can view the calendar in The Cloud, a sort of virtual desktop accessible by all the devices. The calendar can also be shared so now Himself can look to see what's going on if the Wizards decide to go out without calling me to ask if there's something planned.

There are tons of apps to download. I'm a huge list maker and there are several list apps. Again, I can make the lists on one device, and they are updated to the other. I usually make my lists on the iPad since my sausage fingers prefer the larger key pad. This feature came in handy while attending a meeting. I had made a list of topics I wanted to discuss, and I was easily able to go down my list. 

The portability of the device is one of the best features. I've downloaded some mixed media tutorials. I can access while I'm at the drafting table without running back and forth to the computer. Handy for looking up recipes while in the kitchen, too. I can check social media sites from the sun room, or can launch angry birds at smarmy pigs while watching TV. The tablet is lighter and smaller than a laptop and no mouse to deal with. Just a swipe of the finger turns pages, launches birds, or crosses items of a list.

The iPad has an app to access Nook and Kindle books. We have a Nook Color that we shared between us as we tend to read the same books. If Himself wants to read something on the Nook, I can read something else on the iPad.

I haven't given up the computer just yet. It's still an important device. I still prefer to blog from the computer as the blog features are a bit buggy on the iPad. If I have a long email to send out, I prefer the computer keyboard to the tablet keyboard as the tablet keyboard isn't set up as a true QWERTY. I type faster on a traditional keyboard. Old dogs and new tricks.

Do you have a tablet? What applications do you use it for?

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Friday Five

Cleaning out the old homestead is making me wax nostalgic. Five things I wanted to be when I grew up:

1. A cowboy, like that's a shocka.

2. A teacher.

3. I wanted to be a biochemist just like the grad student who babysat me the summer I was 10. I had no clue what a biochemist was, but I wanted to be one.

4. Heavily influenced by Dr. Kildare, I wanted to be a doctor.

5. A writer. As close as I got was writing Heath stories (Big Valley fan fiction) for the amusement of high school friends and  writing computer programs.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What A Maroon!

I forgot I had signed up for the Strathmore Online Workshop Series. The first workshop, Doodles Unleased with Traci Bautista started 1. January. The saving grace is the workshops are self-paced, and the classrooms are open until 1. August. Whew! So I have plenty of time to catch up.

Oh, and did I mention the workshops are free? Strathmore's online classroom has video instructions as well as instructions to download (I've downloaded the instructions to the iPad so I can have the reference at the drafting table without having to jump back and forth to the computer). There is also an online discussion where students can ask the instructor questions and a Flikr group to upload the assignments.

The first exercise involves creating layers of doodles beginning with stencils. It's a chance to experiment with new materials and techniques.  My little aquarium is not as abstract as the instructions. Couldn't help it once I found the fish stencil the piece evolved on its own. Nearly done, I want to add a layer of lettering, but trying to figure out how to make the lettering fade into the background, but still be prominent and easily read.

Have you ever started a project thinking you were going in one direction, but found you ended up in an entirely different direction?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mark Your Calendar

Want to get out of the house this Thursday night? Sure, you do!

Come to the Worcester Art Museum Adult Classes Open House and Student Exhibition Reception.  19. January 2012 from 5:30 - 7PM. Meet the faculty. Watch live demonstrations. Enjoy some light refreshments, and see the amazing artwork students from the Adult Fall Classes produced. Get inspired and sign up for a class or two. Adult classes begin on 30. January 2012. The event is free!

Don't want to go out on a cold winter night? Practical Calligraphy will be offered Saturday mornings from 10 to noon. Classes start on 24. March 2012 (hopefully, the cold weather will be long gone)  to 5. May, 6 sessions. (No class 21. Apr).

If you can't make it to the Open House, you can sign up for classes on line or call the Education Desk at (508) 793-4333 or (508) 793-4334

If that's not enough excitement for Thursday night, Third Thursday After Hours will be featuring The Linda Dagnello Quartet along with a tour of  In Search of Julien Hudson. Admission is free for members and $14 for non-members. 5:30 - 8 PM in the Museum Cafe.

Hope to see you Thursday night.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Friday Five

Telephone calls in the middle of the night usually aren't good news. No one calls at 3:30am to have a chat. Share a glass of whine with me about calls in the dead of night.

1. Don't know about you, but running to get to the phone starts my heart beating so fast I feel as if I'm having a heart attack.

2. Yes, it's a relief to hear the news is not dire, but...

3. Now, I'm wide awake, and can't get back to sleep.

4. I also start to feel a little nauseous when the adrenaline starts to wear off.

5. And when I wake up, I'm out of sorts and cranky. On the plus side, I have a blog topic for today, but I think I need a nap.

Do you have anything you want to whine about?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


While cleaning out my dad's office (formerly the attic), I found a lost treasure. Not gold. Not wads of cash stuck in a suitcase. Nothing that would let me into the Antiques Roadshow. I found my old Sprirograph set! Ma didn't give it away or toss it out!  I loved this toy. Spent hours playing with it. The boxed set was tucked safely in the bottom of a storage box. Only one small wheel is missing, and I'm pretty sure that happened on my watch a long time ago. The four colored ballpoint pens (red, green, black, and blue) are long gone, but as tested this morning, an ultrafine Sharpie markers works perfectly. Big smile.

Did you play with a Spirograph?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I've been using Ancestry.com to piece and research my family. While searching for information about my great uncle Manny, I happened upon another family tree that had "my" Manny listed. How could that be? The researcher for the other family contacted me, and we swapped some information. Turns out, my great uncle Manny was her great grandfather. Uncle Manny was married and had a son. His wife died a year or two after their son was born. Manny later married my great aunt. His first son was raised by other relatives but kept in touch with Manny's wife and children after Manny passed.

Yesterday, I sent the information about Manny's son and the eagle. She had heard he worked on the eagle and fountain, but didn't have any proof. She had seen the article about the fountain and knew the eagle was at Boston College.  She told me she showed the photograph of the eagle to a cousin of hers. The cousin's husband told her he knew the fountain, and he remembered seeing the eagle while he was on a job at BC. Turns out, the photograph was taken the day her husband was working at BC. His truck is in the background! Coincidence or not?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Piece of the Puzzle

I am enjoying piecing my family tree, sometimes cursing myself that I was not interested when I was younger and could get information from the aunties and uncles. It's a slow process, hunting,  following threads. Sometimes they seem to end, but get picked up later on.

I'm still trying to find information about my great uncle Manny, the stone carver. Yesterday, the Torre le Nocelle (the town in Italy where my father's family is from) blog posted a small article about one of Manny's sons, and mentioned his father and one of his works, the Eagle Fountain at St. Anthony's Church in Revere, Massachusetts. Which lead me to pick up the thread and search the web for information about the church and the fountain.

The fountain was designed by the Ardolino Brothers of Revere. (Eduardo Ardolino was a famous sculptor. I've suspected for awhile that Manny worked for the Ardolino Brothers and is a possible relation. ) The fountain was to be sent back to Torre sort of a grateful thanks for our start in the New World, but the fountain never made it to Italy. I'm betting World War I put the kibosh on that plan so the fountain went to St. Anthony's.

Sadly, in the 1940's, the fountain was dismantled to make room for the growing parish. There's some hint that the fountain was not working and the cost to fix it would have been too expensive. The eagle was saved and sent to Boston College, a gift from one of the 1940s classes.

I have some letters to write. One to the historical society of Revere and also to the Archdiocese to find the location of Manny's grave. I've heard a story that Manny carved his own headstone. I'll take a trip to BC to see the eagle, and later plans for a cemetery hop to visit Manny and a bunch of my other relatives.

Where has your genealogy search led you?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Friday Five

Every once in a blue moon, I like to take a look at my blog statistics. I don't put a lot of stock in them, but find them amusing to look at. This week, I decided to see how people found my blog. The top five search choices for the month:

1. 100 foods to eat (before you die). Not many answers to the blog post, but people were hugely interested in this topic.

2. Gort. As in Gort, the robot, from The Day the Earth Stood Still. Since this is my favorite movie off all time, and I've blogged about the movie about a 100 times, searchers are led here. This search terms has been consistently in the top five on my blog. I love it!

3. Bus going left or right. Again a fun topic about a simple drawing and the logic preschoolers used to determine the direction of the bus.

4. Alice in Wonderland watch. I've used a White Rabbit graphic from time to time. One of my favorite images.

5. People seem to search for a 55 speed limit sign. I used a 55 speed limit sign as my Wordless Wed. topic in 2010 to celebrate my birthday.

Do you check your blog statistics?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

100 Foods to Eat Before You Die

How many of these have you eaten? Results say most people will have eaten fewer than 20 of these.

             1. Abalone     
             2. Absinthe    
             3. Alligator    
             4. Baba Ghanoush     
             5. Bagel and Lox  - Do I get 1/2 a point for this? I have eaten bagels. Don't care for lox    
             6. Baklava   - yup   
             7. Barbecue Ribs - yup       
             8. Bellini        
             9. Bird's Nest Soup   
             10. Biscuits and Gravy - yup       
             11. Black Pudding    
             12. Black Truffle       
             13. Borscht    - Borscht or beet soup. I've had the Polish version called barscht. Tomato, Tomahto
             14. Calamari  - yup
             15. Carp        
             16. Caviar      
             17. Cheese Fondue   
             18. Chicken and Waffles      not together
             19. Chicken Tikka Masala     
             20. Chile Relleno      
             21. Chitlins    um, no
             22. Churros   
             23. Clam Chowder    - yup, and I hope they mean New England clam chowder
             24. Cognac   - yup  
             25. Crab Cakes   - yup        
             26. Crickets   - my nose is turned up.
             27. Currywurst          
             28. Dandelion Wine  
             29. Dulce De Leche  
             30. Durian     
             31. Eel        - even though this was one of the traditional fishes for Christmas Eve, no way!    
             32. Eggs Benedict     - fancy name for eggs and cheese on an English muffin. Does McD's count?
             33. Fish Tacos           
             34. Foie Gras 
             35. Fresh Spring Rolls           
             36. Fried Catfish       
             37. Fried Green Tomatoes    - yup
             38. Fried Plantain      
             39. Frito Pie  
             40. Frogs’ Legs    - These were to be served for dinner on the first night of our honeymoon cruise. I had been seasick when we left port and didn't want to chance it. Too bad for me, I lost  a point.     
             41. Fugu        
             42. Funnel Cake  - yup       
             43. Gazpacho
             44. Goat        
             45. Goat’s Milk         
             46. Goulash   yup
             47. Gumbo    
             48. Haggis   - No way   
             49. Head Cheese       - ick
             50. Heirloom Tomatoes  - I suppose this does not mean tomatoes that have been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks?        
             51. Honeycomb         
             52. Hostess Fruit Pie - apple, cherry, blueberry, you betcha
             53. Huevos Rancheros          
             54. Jerk Chicken       
             55. Kangaroo
             56. Key Lime Pie    - yup   
             57. Kobe Beef           
             58. Lassi        
             59. Lobster   - yup  
             60. Mimosa   - yup
             61. MoonPie  - yup
             62. Morel Mushrooms           
             63. Nettle Tea           
             64. Octopus  - turning green  
             65. Oxtail Soup         
             66. Paella       
             67. Paneer     
             68. Pastrami on Rye  - with yellow mustard
             69. Pavlova   - no but I have the recipe
             70. Phaal       
             71. Philly Cheese Steak    - yup     
             72. Pho          
             73. Pineapple and Cottage Cheese   - yup
             74. Pistachio Ice Cream        - a favorite
             75. Po’ Boy   - if they mean a sub, yes, if they specifically mean a New Orleans sub, no.
             76. Pocky      - yup
             77. Polenta    
             78. Prickly Pear         
             79. Rabbit Stew        
             80. Raw Oysters       
             81. Root Beer Float - yup  
             82. S’mores   - yup
             83. Sauerkraut           
             84. Sea Urchin          
             85. Shark    - yup    
             86. Snail        
             87. Snake      
             88. Soft Shell Crab   
             89. Som Tam 
             90. Spaetzle   - yup
             91. Spam    - I'd rather die    
             92. Squirrel    
             93. Steak Tartare       
             94. Sweet Potato Fries    - yup       
             95. Sweetbreads    - See Spam     
             96. Tom Yum
             97. Umeboshi
             98. Venison  - Yup  
             99. Wasabi Peas        
             100. Zucchini Flowers   

I scored a 28. What's your score?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Auld Lang Syne - Translation

Robin from Pink House Studio asked for a translation of Auld Lang Syne as she never heard the other verses, and if you weren't an English major and had to study 18th c. British Poets, you probably haven't either. It gives me a chance to show off my near graduate level research skills. Nah, I just dug out my copy of The Norton Anthology of English Literature (vol. 2) c. 1974. because I needed the gloss for "gude-willie waught"

Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) first of the Romantic poets and considered Scotland's national poet. His best work is written in Scots, a northern dialect of English and spoken by the country folk. ( Rabbie was a farm boy sometimes called the Plowman Poet.) He also wrote songs which he set to traditional Scottish tunes. Auld Lang Syne is probably his most famous work. Robert Burns died from a heart condition at the age of 37. The portrait of him was painted by Alexander Nasmyth in 1787.

Auld Lang Syne (Long Ago) 1788-1796

beginning with the second verse:

We twa (two) hae (have) run about the braes (slopes)
And pu'd the gowans fine (picked the daisies)
But we've wandered mony (many) a weary foot (mile)
Sin' auld lang syne.

We twa have paidled (yup, just like it looks paddled) in the burn (stream)
From morning sun til dine (dinner or from sun up to sunset)
But seas between us braid (broad) hae roared
Sin' auld lang sine.

And there's a hand, my trusty fiere (friend)
And gie's a hand o' thine (and give us a hand of yours)
And we'll tak a right gude-willie waught (a real good swig)
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye'll be (pay for) your pint-stwop (pint cup)
And surely I'll be mine.
And we'll tak a cup o'kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Haggis anyone? ('Spect I'll pass.) Have you been first footed yet?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

My wish for all, though mostly for me, is a less stressful year. I suppose if the Mayans are correct, all bets are off. Shall we practice some deep breathing exercises, just in case?