Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My NOW Series

During my week of being unplugged, I started thinking of words for which NOW could be an acronym.  Here's what I have so far.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outgrow Beginners Mind

I took the past week off to meditate, and read books by meditators.  Many ideas were useful – I’ll cover them in future blogs.  But first I want to comment on one that jarred me: The idea of beginners mind as something to be cultivated.

The standard argument says something to the effect that in the beginners mind all problems have many solutions, but to the expert mind, there are few.

In my experience, it has been the opposite.  When I was a beginning home owner, and my air conditioner wouldn’t turn on, I had only one idea – call the repair shop.

The repairman came over, instructed me to put new batteries in the thermostat. He waited, while I did that, obviously going over in his mind what to do next if this step did not produce the desired results. Voila – new batteries – the air conditioner turned on.

The folks who write these books for beginning meditators offer proven techniques and advice based on experience.

The beginners mind is a necessary stage, but as I see it, the beginners mind last only as long as necessary, until we become more adept.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Prosthetic Floats

The owner at my gym asked me if I had a bikini for summer.  I think he was teasing, and he’s been hitting on me lately, which I think is totally inappropriate. So, I took this as an opportunity to give him a straight line and possibly turn him off at the same time.  “Of course. I need one to hold my prosthetic.”

I’ve tried the one-piece mastectomy swimsuits.   After the suit is thoroughly wet, the prosthetic sinks down and down, closer to my waistline.  With a bikini, there’s no place for the prosthetic to go.

Or so I thought.  I swam my quarter mile plus 2 laps.  As the swimming season goes on, I become stronger and more vigorous. I climbed out of the pool, and took off my goggles. As I was walking to the shower, I saw the 20-something lifeguard starring at my chest.  This man can’t even be bothered to watch people swim, and here he was looking at a grannie chest?   Something wasn’t right here. 

I looked down.  Half my swimsuit top was empty.  Back on with the goggles. Back into the pool.  Slowly, I did breast stroke up and down the lanes where I had been swimming freestyle, so I could keep my face in the water.  Nothing.  

My swimming prosthetic is clear silicone.  I asked another woman who was swimming to be on the lookout for it.  She asked, “Does it float?”  I told her, “I don’t think so.”

Meanwhile, my husband, the alien, was scanning the pool as he walked along side it.  He pointed at a rather large looking bubble about 10 feet from me.  I swam over to investigate.  “It floats!”

I guess I gave the swimsuit a rough ride, and the prosthetic bailed.   Now I have to find my bottle of water-proof glitter and paint spots on it, so I can find it more easily if it escapes again.

And the company needs a new slogan: The Prostheic that Floats.  I stuffed the fake boob back into its pocket, and climbed out again.  I never did tell the lifeguard what happened. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Drunks in the Hood

There are two bars on my block, and several others on nearby blocks. So, when I wake up to find my flower box half-way down the block with dirt dumped out and flowers torn, I don’t know which bar overserved.  At least I know that the drunks weren’t driving, unless they ripped up flower boxes while meandering toward their cars.

It’s never just my flower box.  It’s flower boxes all the way down the block.

Yesterday was the first time for a new neighbor.  He asked how often this happens.  I told him about twice a year.

This morning was unusual.  I couldn’t get out my front door because a drunk was sleeping on my stoop.  He didn’t respond to having his arm wiggled. But he was breathing.

I called 911.

While we waited for the police, he awoke and sat up.  He didn’t answer questions like “is there a friend you’d like us to call?” Or, “Are you hurt?”

We gave up and went back inside.

Next thing we knew, he was pounding on our door and trying our door handle.  

We called 911 again.

6 squad cars arrived. 4 officers got out. They questioned us.  Did we know this man? Did we know how long he’d been there? Had we ever seen him before?

Finally an officer told us the man was drunk and took him off our door step so we could leave our home.

The city will do that much for us – let us leave our home so we can go to work and pay taxes to support the police.  But when we ask that a local bar be denied an outdoor serving area or be required to turn down their microphone volume after 10PM, we don’t get help.  These activities also bring in revenue for the city.  That seems to be the only motive of our city government – enable those activities that bring in taxes.   So, why won’t they legalize drugs?    

Friday, July 25, 2014

Crazy Client of the Day

Some of my computer clients ask me to do the simplest things, like download a file from the web.

That’s what this client said she wanted.  She’s an out-of-towner, so she brings her computer to my house.

She asked what time she could bring her computer over. I told her 9 AM.  

She said she’d be here at 8:30.

I told her I’ll be back from my morning errands and dog walking at 9 AM.  I’ll need to leave at 9:30 because I have a 10 AM appointment downtown. If she brings the computer over at  9 AM.,  that will give us half an hour to start the download.  Once the file starts downloading, it can finish by itself.  She also had to be downtown, so she said this would work.

I was home at 9 AM.  She wasn’t there. 

At 9:20, I emailed her telling her that there was no longer time to start her download and we’d have to reschedule.  

At 9:28, she arrived.  No, she didn’t know the name of the file she wanted, or the URL where I could download it. She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t reschedule the rest of my day in order to get her file, now.  But she’d email me that information in the afternoon.  She left her computer in my living room.

She did send the email.  It detailed a multi-step process.  The file was a computer program from her job.

The email said she needed to log into the website from her work computer, enter her home email address and pay a fee with a credit or debit card.  

She would then be sent an email to her home email address with the download link.

I emailed the client back – there’s nothing I can do for her until she has the email with the download link.  Her job is in another city.  I can’t log in for her from her job.  I don’t even know where she works.

She has not replied to my email – but maybe she can’t.  I have her computer.  She’ll be by tomorrow to pick it up.  She is going to be unhappy that I have not performed a miracle.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vegetarian Propaganda Backfires

Our local library offered a free vegetarian cooking demonstration – which means watch us cook and get a free meal.

My husband, the alien, and I went.  It was a sales pitch and we came home with the “wrong message.” 

The cooking lesson was a chance to show a captive audience photos of captive animals.  Our saleswoman kept asking – if you had a choice, would you rather be kind to animals or cruel to them?  She said that this is one thing most Americans can agree on – they’d rather be kind to animals.

Her answer was to become not just vegetarian, but vegan.  She won’t even eat honey.

The dish of the evening was gumbo made with vegan imitation sausage and vegan imitation fish. It was okay.  I was surprised that these vegan purists cooked with white flour.  Why not whole wheat? The main thing I learned was that gumbo file is really ground sassafras.

I also learned that Whole Foods has a meatless Monday program.  For $8 you can put as much food as you can fit on a plate and take it home.  This Monday they had a delicious chili made with ground mushrooms instead of meat.  They had dolmathes and several delicious salads and a fake chicken that wasn’t half bad.  I managed to put enough food on that plate for the two of us and have leftovers for a 2nd meal.

By the time we ate, we’d seen so many photos of cooped up animals, I knew I never wanted to eat such miserable creatures. They must be full of adrenaline.  But I was not convinced to become a vegan or a vegetarian.  Instead, I decided it was worth the extra money to get free range eggs and free range meat and chicken.

Yes, this will mean eating meat less often, but we eat beans and grains anyway. And meat can be spread out with more veggies to make more meals.

Those imitation meat products don’t taste as good as the real thing and they cost more.  So, compared to that kind of a vegan diet, I’m saving money.

I’ll be putting ground walnuts in my next lasagne.  Nobody will know the difference.

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Computer

Several times a week, I hang up on folks who call claiming to be Dell Technical support. They claim to know some nonsense about my having an infection in my computer that isn’t a virus and can’t be caught by my antivirus program, but that this mysterious person has managed to detect without even knowing what kind of computer I have.

But this time, the caller didn’t feel dishonest. And I had written to Dell about when to expect delivery on my new computer.  FedEx hadn’t logged it in for 5 days, and it had missed its expected delivery date.  So, I asked the caller, “Are you really from Dell or are you trying to sell me something?” 

I know. Dumb questions.  So, of course he said, “I’m really from Dell.”  

I asked, “Why are you calling?”  He said he was calling in response to my email.  Dell Technical Support really does make phone calls. 

He didn’t know about all the fake Dell phone calls.

He didn’t know any more than FedEx did about where my new computer was hiding.  But if FedEx didn’t find it in the next day or two, he’d authorize a trace.

Within minutes of delivery the next day,  Dell Technical Support called to ask if it worked.  I hadn’t even opened the box yet. I promised to email them when I had it up and running.  

I used to think happily about how nice a new fast computer with new capabilities would be.  But that maxed out about a decade ago.  Now, a new computer means I have to find all my backups and program disks and restore them to the new drive.

And before I can do that, I have to uninstall the programs on the old drive so the license will be free for reinstallation.

My hard drive is dying.  The registry is corrupt.  Uninstall doesn’t work.  I found a Mr. Fixit program on the Microsoft website that did manage to uninstall most of my programs.  BUT, it didn’t send word to the companies, so when I reinstalled, the programs said I had already used my license.  Now, I have to phone the companies, and talk with bored humans who must spend all day listening to 36 digit registration codes.  This is not going to be an easy or short process.  

I’m hoping my dying hard drive lives long enough to finish this process.  I am buying my old computer a new hard drive to give it years of more use.  But this computer eats hard drives at least once a year, and it is now out of warranty.

At least Chrome browser remembers my passwords and my bookmarks.  And I no longer have email on my hard drive. Some of the drudgery of moving to a new computer is gone.  But I have files going back to 1983.

In fact, I have things on my hard drive that I don’t care about any more. Funny and beautiful videos friends sent me in emails.  Audios of webtalks that I never want to hear again.  
Picking which files go into my new computer is like cleaning out my file cabinet.   Will I regret throwing that out?  Will I regret keeping it around?  Looking at my hard drive is both a record of my creativity and my time wasting. 

Everybody acts like having things neat is supposed to be easy. I’ll probably wind up keeping things I’ll never look at again.