Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tools, Gadgets, and Widgets - Keyring

In the register line at Michael's, I fumbled for the rewards card I thought was in my wallet. I have the Michael's app on my smartphone to get their coupons, but didn't have the loyalty card with me.

 I've often thought the marketing companies should just put a chip in our earlobe much the same way naturalists tag animals. Your wallet wouldn't bulge with all the rewards card, nor would you have to carry a giant, jailer's keyring to keep the cards on. The clerk could just scan your ear, and marketing could get all the data needed about shopping habits, and the consumer could get instant reward points and coupons. 

The register clerk scanned the coupon code from my phone and then told me I needed Keyring. Keyring is a free app for smartphones that puts all your rewards cards in one place. You scan all your rewards cards into your phone using the app. When you're out shopping, you scroll through your list, show the bar code and the clerk can scan in the code or manually enter the number. No more bulging wallets or cluttered key chains. Brilliant! And it hurts a lot less than have a chip embedded in your ear.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Friday Five

To the woman in the white car in front of me at the tollbooth at exit 11A, Mass Pike and I-495 on Wednesday.

1. The Mass Pike is a toll road. Your car was tagged with the old, red, rear- only plate. That means, you've lived here long enough to know the Pike is a toll road.

2. Sitting in the middle of the tollbooth is not the time to start hunting for pennies in your seat cushions to pay the toll.

3. If you don't want to pay a toll, you can take an alternate route. I-290, Route 20, and Route 9 all intersect with I-495. None of these roads are toll roads.

4. Shame on you for arguing with the toll collector. Your failure to plan and be prepared is not her fault. She gave you a form and instructions. Take the form, do what the toll collector told you to do, and move on. Have some consideration for the people in the 6 cars who had the misfortune to be behind you.

5. Thank your stars I exercised great restraint and didn't lean on the horn. I did call you an idjit, though. The phraseology could have been worse.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Know Nuthin' 'Bout Birthin' Apples

That was my silent, first reaction when I was asked to sub an adult class about blogging using Blogger. Wasn't the Blogger part that had me in a Prissy. (If you have no clue what I'm talking about watch Gone With the Wind to get yourself edumacated). Nope, I was worried about the classroom of Mac computers. Silly, really.

BC, before calligraphy and before children, I was a computer programmer. I began my career in the late 70s. Computers, no longer the size of a house and for government use, were the size of a full-sized Buick automobile and took up the space of a bedroom. These systems were known as mini-systems and were made by companies like Prime Computer, DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), CDC (Control Data Corporation, where I earned my computer programming and operator certificate) and Basic 4, the computer system I mostly worked on. IBM was the industry standard. When Big Blue spoke we all listened. Microsoft and Apple were just the dreams of two young men.

Even though the boxes that housed the electronics were different outside, inside they all functioned the same way. The CPU (central processing unit), ALU (arithmetic logic unit),  Core memory (before memory circuit got cheap and small enough to be RAM (random access memory), boiled down to a bunch of circuit switches that were either 0 (off) or 1 (on). So I took a deep breath and relaxed. This would be the same way. It also helped the instructor answered some questions I had about booting the system, logging on, using the projector, and his lesson plan for the second class. No worries. I also had a back up plan as any self-respecting, computer programmer would have in this situation. I'd have the safety and security of a laptop.

I arrived at the computer classroom early just so I could familiarize myself with the machine. I put my stuff down on a table, approached the main terminal, and gave the mouse a wiggle. Nothing. No buttons or switches on the front of the terminal and there didn't seem to be a CPU tower. Nope, this was a sleek, elegant, minimalist all in one, monitor and CPU. No buttons, red, blue, or amber lights to indicate an On switch. Step one, check to see if the beast is plugged in. Yup, plugged into a power strip, and the power strip was on. I ran my hands around the edges: top, sides, button. Zip. I took a sip of water to swallow a moment of panic. It wasn't really not knowing how to turn on the machine, but the students wouldn't be able to follow the bouncing cursor on the projector. The projector worked by pushing the power button on a remote control. That worked just fine except for the glaring No RGB message projected on the wall.  Another crawl around the terminal. From the back I could see a small, almost invisible ring,on the lower right side. A stupid place for a power button, I thought. A push and voilá! The main terminal lit up and was projected on the wall.

I settled into my command chair, took a sip of water and read the instructor's syllabus. It was amusing when the students began to file in. First, there was that shocked look that they had entered the wrong classroom and then several of them told me they didn't know how to use a Mac. No worries, I told them. I didn't tell them I just learned how to turn the box on 20 minutes earlier.

Andy, maybe you can put a small sticker on the back of the terminal above the on/off switch. Label it PhD. Push here, for us PC-uddites.

Have you done anything lately to step out of your comfort zone?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Down Side

of getting used to new prescription eyeglasses is motion sickness. Does this ever happen to you?

Monday, March 26, 2012


Got me new specs on Friday, and they are awesome in their blueness. A bit Poindexter in looks, but they are blue.  Because my prescription can drain the bank what with the no-line bifocals, the prisms, and anti-glare coatings, a pair of prescription sunglasses is out of the question. I had been getting magnetic frames which came with a sunglass clip. They were ok, not a lot of choice as to style and colors. The eyeglass shop solved that problem with being able to embed small magnets in the lenses and then getting a sunglass clip that would fit the frame. Any frame! And I could also  have a mirror finish put on the sunglass lenses. I'm prone to migraine and light is one of my triggers. Bright sunlight, sunlight reflecting off of pavement, snow. The magnetic frame eyeglass clips were never quite dark enough. The new clip is polarized and has a silver mirror. And the mirrors give me a  Gort-esque look. Wicked!

If you wear glasses do you also get sunglasses in your prescription?

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Friday Five

While cleaning my mother's dresser, I found a small newspaper clipping. There was no date on the paper, but I know the date is 2. April 1949 as it is The Brother's birth announcement.

1. The bold article title announces, Waltham Hospital Greets 6 Arrivals. Five babies were born this morning and one yesterday. The article lists the names of the proud parents and their addresses. Four baby boys and one baby girl were born. One baby boy was born on the first of April.

On the back were used car listings like

2. 1938 Ford Convertible club coupe, excellent condition both body and motor.

3. 1939 Hudson convertible club coupe. Two new springs, new clutch, price $245

4. 1948 Nash "600" Car looks and runs like new. Has radio, heater, foam cushions, seat covers, and chrome wheel discs. Car is privately owned. Mileage 10,800. Price asked $1530. To appreciate this car you should see it.

The clipping listed the phone numbers with exchanges that began

5. Waltham 5 or Lasell 7. Sounds like something out of an old movie. Operator, get me Lasell 7-1234. The exchange at my parents house was Olympic 3.

I found the image of the Nash 600 from Wikipedia. Can you just see that gleaming beauty of a tank barreling down the road? According to Wikipedia, the Nash 600 was supposed to be able to go 600 miles on one 20 gallon tank of gas or 30 miles per gallon! The lowest gas price I can remember was in the early 1960s at 27 cents per gallon. Gas  yesterday where I usually fill up was $3.77 per gallon. My Ford Taurus wagon gets a dismal 19 miles per gallon.

How much are you paying for gas, and how many miles per gallon do your wheels give you?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Godzilla Ate My Blog Post

Godzilla, Himself, ate my blog post! Well, Himself didn't eat the post, but he ate the prop that was to go with this post. We had lunch at Five Guys the other day. Real hamburgers, real French fried potatoes, and all you can eat roasted peanuts. My first time at Five Guys, I was so blinded by the lust light of bacon on the Little Hamburger, I missed the peanuts. Not this time. Perfectly salted peanuts you dish yourself into a cardboard tray. Peanuts to be enjoyed before the hamburger. Leftover peanuts to be taken home and savored later. Except Godzilla got to them before I had a chance to take a picture of them. All that Himself left were the skeletal remains of the peanuts shells!

Moral of the story? She who hesitates is snackless and without a nice photo for a blog post.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dancing with the Stars

Have you seen it? No? You're missing a spectacular dance. After sunset, go outside, face west (the direction of the setting sun) and look up.  You'll see two bright "stars" in conjunction with each other. The stars are really planets, Venus and Jupiter. What makes this year's show so special, is Venus and Jupiter can be seen for several hours after sunset and, they appear pretty close together.  As an added bonus, if you turn in the opposite direction (East), you'll be able to see the red planet, Mars.

If you miss the show this March, you can catch it again in May though the planets won't be visible for as long or appear as close.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Fever

Spring Fever. Yup, I got it bad. I needed some color and some whimsy. While waiting for the grey, cool weather to disperse, I dragged out the metal tree I used when I was creating and personalizing Christmas ornaments at craft fairs. (Actually, Himself dragged the tree out as the storage box was in the garage where the spiders dwell. The garage is not a Little Princess place to visit.) The Seuss-like tree was my design from armature wire, nuts, and metal washers. Himself made it so. I turned it around so the cardinal with holly and berries design on the pot doesn't show. Green paper grass covers the stone weight. The limbs are perfect for the plastic eggs, glass chicks, bunnies, carrots and lambs. A stuffed Peep nests as the topper.

Now I got me a craving for Peeps. No, not to eat. They're disgusting, but they are amusing when you nuke them in the microwave. Be sure to put them in a sealed plastic bag first or you'll have a huge mess to clean.

What's your cure for Spring fever?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Friday Five

I had an eye doctor appointment this week.

1. I hate the puff test for glaucoma. It feels like someone shot a bb through your eyeball and out through the back of your head. I usually blink in anticipation so the test has to be repeated and repeated. But, they have a new machine! A very gentle puff. The technician got the results the very first time!

2. The field test machine, aka the Star Wars Game (press the button when you see the pinpoint of light), was new, too. The machine was a lot quieter and faster.

3. Without glasses, can you read this tiny line of print? I had to trombone my arm. Yes, I can read the line if you hold the page up and go out into the hall.

4. Better or worse? What E? When the doc put a prism in front of me, the sky cleared, and I heard a heavenly choir. I can see!  Praise be!

5. I got to opt out of the dilated fundus test. You know the one where eye drops are put into your eyes to dilate the pupil to the size of a dinner plate? Then your pupils stay dilated for four days and your eyeballs can absorb light from Alpha Centauri. While your vision is still blurry, you're sent across the hall to pick out your new frames. You can't read the price tag so you end up picking out the most expensive frame. Not this time! And if the frame was expensive, it's because I was dazzled by the blue awesomeness.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Look Who's Up

I spotted this little fella poking his head up through the grass by the edge of the driveway. Big deal. It's a crocus, right? Right, but normally this would still be buried under a couple of two or three feet of snow! We had an unusually mild Winter in the Northeast. No complaints, mind you. And Spring seems to have arrived early as well. Temps were close to 70 yesterday! Still not complaining. Wonder if we'll be in for an April Fool's Blizzard? Ceej knocks wood three times before she jinxes the weather.

What's it like in your neck of the woods?

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Computer

The new computer arrived all shiny and new. Too bad the glowing red light doesn't oscillate. Would look like I had my very own Cylon (from the original Battlestar Galactic tv series). Having it talk would be very cool, too.

Don't you just love new toys?

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Friday Five

 I thought I heard or read no new pennies would be minted. Himself brought home some change and showed me a bright, shiny 2011 penny. The humble penny was given a makeover.

1. The head of a coin is called the obverse. The penny still has the familiar portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

2. The tail side of a coin is called the reverse. The new penny design bears a shield with scroll, and the motto E pluribus unum.

3. The new design is a reflection of the country as a unified nation, what Lincoln struggled to do during his administration.

4. The copper penny isn't made of solid copper. It's really copper plated zinc.

5. Obverse of the coin still bears the In God We Trust. There was an amusing line from The Big Valley episode, The Brawlers. Some Irish immigrants were trying to get credit at the local general store. The store owner refused to extend them credit. Having been burned from customers not paying their bills he stated: In God we trust, all others pay cash.

Have you ever taken a penny and laid it on the subway rail to see how thin it would get when the trolley ran over it?

Thursday, March 8, 2012


The second Strathmore workshop on watercolor began last week. One of the assignments was to do a watercolor sketch in your journal. I had no clue what to paint until some friends and colleagues were having a discussion about dandelions. One point of view was dandelions were weeds and needed to be eradicated. Another was dandelions are misunderstood. They bring needed nutrients to the soil, can be made into wine, and the greens eaten.

I've always loved dandelions. I'm not much of a gardener, but can grow bumper crops of yellow blooms. One thing I miss, now that my girlies are young women, is chubby fists clutching bouquets of sunshine.

What's your take on dandelions?

Watercolor, Pigma pen

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 75 Safest Massachusetts Towns

According to Channel 5, the FBI has released a list of the top 75 safest towns in Massachusetts. And the town I live in isn't on the list! I live in a small, rural community with a population a little over 9,000 residents. There's a town green with a bandstand., three churches, and three gas stations. There's a strip mall on the highway with a post office, dry cleaner, Edible Fruit, a packie (liquor store), convenience store, US Agriculture offices, a hair salon, and a bank. There's another bank across the highway. There are two sets of lights, one that controls traffic on the highway, and the other, a flashing yellow light which controls traffic on one of the main roads leading to the town center. We have a pizza place that doesn't deliver.  I typically don't lock my car when I run to the post office, bank, or to pick up pizza. I don't lock my car when I go to town hall or the library. The town hall, police station, and fire station are in the same building. The library is in the basement of the town hall. You would think a place that has a state reservation called Purgatory (Purgatory Chasm) would be safe. Sadly, we did have one violent crime several years ago where a worker at one of the gas stations was murdered. My only consolation is that the towns of family and friends and didn't make the top 75 either.

How safe is your town?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Caveat Pinner

Follow Me on Pinterest Recently, I enthusiastically extolled the virtues of Pinterest. Pinterest is a social media site where you create virtual bulletin boards and share them with followers. As you surf the web, you pin pictures of things you like to your bulletin board. You can also view your followers boards and pin their pictures to your bulletin. It's a happy, little time waster.
I created boards for color inspiration, ideas for gardening, collecting quotes, but over the past few days, I've read several articles about Pinterest's use and terms of service that have waved red flags. PCWorld and artist, Traci Bunker are two of the articles I read. The issue that sets off whistles is copyright.
Pinterest encourages users to pin images to bulletin boards. The image is snagged with the URL of its source to give credit. Sounds harmless enough until you look at the fine print.

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content

Bascially, users grant Cold Brew Labs, the company that owns Pinterest, exclusive right to the images posted to do with as they wish. And users are responsible for any copyright infringements, not Cold Brew Labs. Did a chill just run down your spine? It did mine.

Pinterest has offered a "fix" if you don't want your images to be pinned. Add this line of code to the header on your website:

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin"/>

Users will see "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!" The fix will  prevent most pinners from taking content, but won't prevent all as there are ways around the code.

For now, I've deleted my Pinterest account. If I want some gardening ideas, I'll do it the old-fashioned way and browse through copies of Better Homes Than Yours.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Friday Five

Five things about the month of March

1. Meteorlogical Spring arrived on the first. The weather dudes consider March, April, and May to be Spring months. Spring came in like a lion around here on the first, but forecasts for next week look like temps might get up into the upper 50s or 60s!

2. My Dad's birthday is on the 17th. He'll be 93.

3. St. Patrick's Day which means the annual cooking of a corned beef.

4. The Young One will be on Spring Break next week. Himself will be on Spring Break starting the 17th. Means I'll be able to drag extra hands to help with the clean out of my parents' house.

5. With the sun at a high angle, sunny days can be spent working in the sun room.

I'm having trouble coming up with a birthday gift for my dad. He has Alzheimer's, doesn't see very well, and resides in a nursing home. Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Theatrical Experience

When I was a sophomore (18 or 19 yrs. old) at Boston University, I was in Equus starring Brian Bedford and performed at the Shubert Theater. That is, I was in one performance.

My friend, Teague, was a theater major at Northeastern University. She asked if I wanted to see the play Equus. She could get us special student tickets which allowed us to sit on stage. We would be medical or psychology students seated in an amphitheater and listening to the psychiatrist (Bedford) describe his treatment of a disturbed young man, Alan. Perfect! I was born to the role as I was a pre-med student studying psychology. We arrived at the theater and were shown to our seats on stage.  We sat on risers with other students. I didn't know the play, but it was very exciting to not only watch the performance, but to be "in" the performance. Until...

Jill, a stable girl, entices her co-worker, Alan to go into the stable late one night. Jill pulls off her sweater and peels out of her jeans.

 Okaaay. I squirmed a little in my seat. It's nothing more or less that I haven't seen before.

And then Alan takes off his shirt.

 I fidgeted a little more which earned me a hiss from Teague. Sit still!

Alan fumbles with the waistband of his jeans.

Ohmygawd, he's not going to...And then my parochial school training kicked in and I was repeating small prayers (coincidentally called ejaculations). Jeez Louise! He's not wearing his Holy Fruitofthyloomies! Jeeze Louise! He's Mother Buck Naked.

I could feel the heat rising to my face and my ears were burning. My eyes were bugged out of their sockets like a cartoon character, the pupil detached from the iris, which was detached from the eyeball, all stretched beyond the character's nose. I was sophisticated. I had traveled to Germany. I was a pre-med major. I had studied Anatomy and Physiology. I owned a Merck manual.  I'd seen the diagrams of the male anatomy.  But the young man on stage didn't resemble those flat pictures, and he was obviously excited to be on stage.

Understand, this was Boston founded by Puritans. Boston where Hey, Little Suzie by the Everley Brothers was banned. Boston where I had attended parochial school,  where the nuns wouldn't allow us to sing Louie, Louie because of the suggestive lyrics.

I didn't know where to look, and I was sure my eyeballs were going to burst into flame. Then an angel saved me. In the first row of the mezzanine, I could see a man in a dark suit and white turtleneck. I focused my attention on his turtleneck until the scene ended eight days later with the psychiatrist mercifully wrapping Alan in a blanket.

So ended my theatrical career.