Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Heartwarming Moment

As I was leaving the grocery store this afternoon, I saw an old beat-up car pull into the row in front of me.  A young man got out; he was maybe in his late teens or early twenties, dressed in old NASCAR regalia. He walked around the car, opened the passenger door and a female hand reached out. That's what got my attention. It's been ages since I've seen a young man open a car door for a woman.

He pulled a couple of times but the woman did not emerge. I expected to see a heavily pregnant young woman get out, given the tender effort he was putting into trying to help pull her from the vehicle.

To my surprise, what emerged was not a fertile young thing, but an ancient crone, with an enormous dowager's hump and a twisted spine that looked painful even from a distance. Her hair was a mess from her efforts to get out of the car and she tried to smoothe it down, looking at her reflection in the windows of the car parked next to them. The young man helped her, gently stroking her hair.  It was still a mess, but she smiled up in gratitude and he smiled back with genuine affection.

She turned away from the car, took a moment to steady herself, and reached out for him, like a toddler reaching for Daddy.  He took her hand in his, and together they walked slowly across the parking lot.  She struggled to maintain her balance and forward momentum. He struggled to match her snail-like pace. 

As I drove by them, he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and smiled as if to say, "Whaddya gonna do?"

I smiled back with what I hope he perceived as admiration and respect, maybe even reverence.  

Blessings be upon you, young man.  You made my day! ..... and hers.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home Improvement

I totally and completely hate home improvement projects!! Once when I was a kid, I volunteered to help my dad paint a railing around our porch. It was awful! I managed to avoid any other similar jobs around the house as long as I lived at home, other than gardening, which I hated, but which my parent made me do for my good and to help the family save money.

When I got married, I knew I hated yard work and gardening, so I told my Dear Husband I had allergies that would preclude me from working in the yard. I haven't worked in the yard in a quarter of a century. (I have no idea if I have physical allergies to yard work; I sure as hell have emotional allergies to it.)

We learned early on that we did not work well together. We approach projects differently. We have different work styles. If we have to collaborate on a project, we usually work separately. He does his part, while I find someplace else to be. Then, I do my part while he goes away.

This weekend we embarked on a floor tiling project. DH has tiled several rooms in our house before. Previously, he did the floors while I was at work. These days, he is very busy at his job and didn't have the luxury of working on the project while I was not home. We chose this week to tile the living room because Daughter Dear is on vacation.

He started today. I can't just sit here and watch him work, so I offered to help, hoping to God he would tell me to get lost. I hate working on home improvement projects (as in HATE IT, HATE IT, HATE IT). As cheap as I am (and I am truly the cheapest person I know), once I decide to do something around the house (which I don't decide to do until the situation is truly and positively a dire emergency), it is with the assumption that I am willing to pay someone (who knows how) to do it. Unfortunately, DH did not see this project in the same way. He did most of the work, but he had me help him move the furniture and carry in the tile. Then he had me down on my knees sponging grout and drying it. I may skip my visit to Curves tomorrow!

We don't know what we're doing and our home projects always end up looking like crap. Granted, in addition to being cheap, I am anything but "particular" about my house, but it bothers even me when things look positively shitty. Right now, our house is a nightmare for even me!

I guess no matter what it looks like when it's done, it'll be better than the totally awful carpet (that I never liked) which the dogs have destroyed.

I just wish I didn't have to help.

God, I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but I'm a writer and an office worker, not a home decorator.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dog Blogging

Little dog likes the new 'puter.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oops! Bye Bye, Windows.

I guess something I did while I was trying to resize the drives erased Vista.  Someday I may try to get it back, but in the meantime, I've got a boatload of space in Ubuntu.  How cool is that?

This is what you could call diving in to the deep end. 

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, America

I recently read the book The Great Upheaval  by Jay Winik.  Right now I'm reading American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson  by Joseph Ellis. That's appropriate reading to contemplate on Independence Day, even knowing that the Revolution was already under way by the time they got around to signing the Declaration of Independence, and the outcome was anything but certain.  That odd cast of characters ranging from little Jimmy Madison to wise old Ben Franklin, and with guys like Washington, Adams, Jefferson in the middle -- not to mention Hamilton, whose genius was on some other plane entirely -- did the impossible. 

My God, it gives me chills just rattling off their names!  Men with a crazy  idea, or, more accurately, men with a whole array of conflicting crazy ideas but all of which revolved around the preposterous notion that people should not be subject to dictatorial rule by a king.  If that wasn't insane enough, these particular folks happened to be subjects of the greatest imperial power on the planet at the time (Catherine of Russia might quibble about that).  In any case, it seems to me the American Revolution was something akin to American Samoa declaring war on the United States! King George must have laughed his ass off when he first got wind of the idea. 

But, a few people with courage, passion and a big dream can change the course of history.  It's been done many times.  One of those times occurred in the American Colonies in the late 18th century.  It still astonishes me every time I read a new book about the period. Maybe that's why I've read so many of them.

For me the most remarkable thing about the period was the pantheon of dazzlingly amazing people who were alive at the same time , and who all had influence over one another (on which, by all means, read The Great Upheaval). Reflecting on the giants who gave birth to our country is both inspiring and a little depressing. I'm inclined to wonder where the greatness in our country is now. 

It would be easy to be frightened for our future when the country can come so unglued over the death of a really sick, sad and pathetic person who happened to be a musical genius while seeming not to care at all about the needless deaths and suffering of Americans and Iraqis in a war half way around the world.  It would be easy to get all self-righteous about the abysmal state of leadership in our country when I read about the antics of clowns like what's-his-name from South Carolina or Sarah Palin.  It would be easy to do, but it would be unfair, because there were corrupt and horrible leaders in the 18th Century as well.  (On which read the charges against King George enumerated in the part of the Declaration of Independence that nobody reads.)

Our country seemed to have taken a tiny step away from the brink of self-destruction when, in what I still consider to be something of a miracle, we elected Barack Obama to be our president.  That event still can make me a little weapy.  It won't be easy to turn the ship of state around, and the president can't do it all by himself.  He has to have the help of the Congress and the support and cooperation of We The People.  Considering what a motley crew we are, that's going to take some bodacious leadership on his part.  

My faith in our system and our potential for continued greatness remains strong, at least it has most of the time since the Bush Brothers left office.  But, beyond our political leaders, I hope and pray that the everyday folks will continue to serve as the backbone of our republic, doing what needs to be done when it needs doing and taking care of business.  I'm a liberal wacko, but I'm also a capitalist and a republican (note small "r").  

As a general rule, I don't go in for patriotic displays because most of it is sentimental mush, but I make two exceptions:

On Veterans Day and Memorial Day I buy a Buddy Poppy (and I keep one in my car, one in my purse and one in my office) to remind myself to be grateful for the sacrifices of our veterans. 

On the Fourth of July, I stop to ponder the wonderful miracle of the American Revolution and to be grateful for the courageous (and crazy) men who signed it, and (in a phrase that rarely is quoted), who were willing to "mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

 The Document is here.  Bios of the Signers are here.

Ubuntu - Day 2

Well, I spent all evening last night and a good chunk of today trying to figure out how to resize my disc partitions to give Ubuntu more room. It installed itself on only 2G of my 140G hard drive. I've spent hours reading instructions and trying several different utilities to resize the partitions, so far without success. That's a bummer, but I know that (a) I'll figure it out eventually, (b) it works just fine as it is without all the other crap I was going to download and install anyway, and (c) I store all my files on the DATA drive anyway, which has a lotta Gigs just waiting for me to get creative.

I get frustrated when I can't figure something out, so I dig in and get determined to figure it out, or else. Right now, however, I am taking a time out from my "IT" work to play around with my new computer so we can get to know each other. So far, I like what I see. I like the way the menus are arranged and the ease and speed with which I can move from program to program. Most of all, I like the speed. I'm so looking forward to the legendary stability of Linux, too (after twelve years of watching Windows crash periodically and always at the worst possible moment).

I'm still stuck with Windows as a backup until I find a way to have Ubuntu recognize my printer, but that is a problem I can live with. For one thing, I rarely print anything at home and, on the rare occasions I do, I have three other computers in the house that I can use to print from, plus a fourth one most days when Wonderful Boyfriend brings his over to do homework.

And so now, I have the rest of the day to simply play around, and maybe do some actual writing. Dear Husband is braving the dangerous heat and potential storms to go sit outside with a hundred thousand of his best friends to watch cars careening around in a circle (technically it's a tri-oval, but I have no earthly idea what the hell that means) and wrecking into each other. I was kind of thinking about going to the Race with him until I saw the weather forecast.

I am staying put, inside with the A/C cranked up, playing with Little Smoke, and comforting the dogs while the neighbors set off fire-works again tonight, as they have been doing for days.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I have been saying for years that my next computer is going to run on Linux because I hate all the quirks that are built into Windows. After setting up Daughter Dear's computer with Vista, I was pretty sure I didn't want any part of it. It was my intention to buy a computer with Linux installed instead of Windows. That wasn't exactly how it happened. I got such a great deal on this computer, I bought my new computer in spite of the fact that it was pre-installed with Vista. Given the huge savings and my general cheapness, I figured I could manage to learn to love Vista.


After only a couple of hours of sitting around waiting for the computer to respond, I was ready to send it back or throw it out the window. Since I had done no customizing yet, I decided to download and install Ubuntu. I figured if I didn't like that, I could restore the original settings. The downloading and testing out was easy. I liked what I saw.

I logged off from the trial version and tried to restart the computer, but something had gone terribly wrong, and the computer seemed to be totally dead. I thought I was going to have to send it back, but I got online on my old computer and found instructions from Acer's website for a "power reset." That did the trick and I was soon back in business ... not without a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

Ubuntu does not support my printer, so instead of overwriting Vista, I installed Ubuntu along side of Vista. That means I can run either one. I'm betting that if I want to print something, I'll use my old computer that runs on XP and boots up in less than a half hour, but at least I have the choice to run either Vista or Ubuntu.

The good news is that Ubuntu came with Open Office already loaded, saving me the hassle of downloading it.

I am still exploring and getting acclimated to the Windows-free Universe, but so far I like it. It's FAST! I like fast computers.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lots Going On

My new 'puter arrived yesterday, but I was so distracted by work issues I didn't even open it until tonight. I have spent the evening watching the computer set itself up. (Yawn.)

New computers are totally fun ... and scary.

I can't wait to use it for fun stuff, but right now, I'm spending the evening watching it set itself up, and burning backup discs.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have a chance to use it.