Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Technology - Why do I try?

Try My Product!

Matt and I take daily medications for thyroid and high blood pressure. Unfortunately for Matt, he never had high blood pressure until he met me, but that's another story. Since we don't have prescription insurance, I thought it would be a good idea to go online and see if I could purchase them cheaper.

After two days of surfing the net, I found a site where the prices were unbelievably low. I was thrilled that my tenacity seemed to be paying off. I plugged in the names of the medicine and the dosage, and began the ordering process, complete with credit card information. Then the re-cap came up. I hadn't ordered anything but a year-long “membership” to a Mexican pharmacy.

I'm fairly sure that the pharmacy has my photo up on their wall, complete with a large inscription, “Mujer tonta, el Internet es para ninos” ("Silly woman, the Internet's for kids").

Swell, now I'm an international idiot. I had to call Matt in on this one.

Matt's normally an easygoing guy. Not much bothers him. But I don't think I've ever seen the veins on his forehead bulge like that in our 26 years of marriage. On a purely educational bright side, should you ever hyperventilate around me, I'm fairly equipped to handle the situation. Still, it took him more than a month to un-do what I'd done in less than five minutes. He wasn't amused when I said that every boy needs a hobby.

Still, I'm trying to learn; it's not fun being the butt of familial jokes. Whether or not the learning sticks is a whole other story.

You can imagine my happy surprise when shopping at a second-hand store. I came upon a stack of DVDs from the “Video Professor” (most famous for his TV infomercial in which he says “try my product”). On the covers of the discs was his smiling face, and he promised that he could take me from a novice to a professional on just about anything computer related. I bought them all.

When I got them home, Matt actually complimented me. Both he and the kids thought it was encouraging that I had taken the initiative to learn at least a modicum of computer technology.

I was anxious to soak up as many morsels of the Video Professor's wisdom as I could. I even got up early the next morning to begin my enlightenment process. I grabbed the first DVD and eagerly approached the television. I just knew I was going to be programming computers in a week.

A few hours later, I still hadn't managed to see the Video Professor's wise, smiling face from my very own television. Problem was, with four different remotes, I couldn't figure out which one turned the DVD player on. After trying unsuccessfully to find the correct remote for the DVD, I called Boy. He took the DVD, looked it over and walked from the television set to my laptop and popped a button. Out came what looked like a miniature CD player. He inserted the disk.

I had no idea my computer had that. I was learning already! Turns out, the disks weren't meant for television viewing, as the next thing I knew, the Professor was smiling at me from my computer.

Boy looked at me and said, “Good luck, mom. You're going to need it.” In my mind, all I could think of was how proud I was going to be when I was designing websites and zipping around the Internet like a pro.

It's a good thing I'm an optimist.

I decided that my first lesson was going to be, “Learn the Internet.” After the prescription debacle, I figured that would probably be a good place to start.

About five minutes into the presentation, I started getting bored. I looked at my watch and noticed that it was almost 4pm. I should be thinking about getting dinner ready.

At about 4:03, I began to wonder if I'd taken anything out of the freezer. A few minutes later, I thought I'd better check to be sure there was something to cook. While I was in the kitchen, I figured I'd better put some baked potatoes in. Then I remembered that I didn't have any fresh vegetables, so I took another dive into the freezer.

When I got back, the Professor was saying “so now you know the danger signs.” Wait, what? What are the danger signs? Oh, no! I'd missed something vitally important. I may not be technologically inclined, but my ears perk right up when the word "danger" is thrown around.

Desperately, I tried to rewind. Of course, I couldn't figure out how. When you think about it, if I had no idea I had a CD disky thingy in my computer, I pretty much had zero chance of knowing how to rewind it.

I hung my head and headed back to the kitchen to fix dinner, and quickly forgot all about Internet danger signs.

The next day, the Professor was going to teach me to navigate my computer's file system. I can't remember why he said it was important, but he seemed to think that it was. I got a pen and a piece of paper to take notes.

As he droned on, I began to doodle. Then, while I had the paper and pen, I thought I should take a moment and jot down my “to do” and grocery list. Before I knew it, the Professor was complimenting me on keeping up with him and asking boy, wasn't I glad I can navigate my file system? I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I just nodded in agreement. Since I'd taken the time to write my grocery list, I figured it would be a good time to go out and get the items on it.

The next day, I was going to learn about databases. As I watched, though, I noticed that there was a little bit of dust on the desk and there was a smear on my monitor. How could I become a computer master when I could barely see the screen? I spent the next half hour dusting, and then realized that I should probably do some other chores.

The next morning, at the stroke of 11:30am, I toddled out to find out what nugget of wisdom the Professor was going to bestow upon me. Today's lesson was learning how to write HTML.

He started saying things like, “All lines of code must be put in tags. You have to be sure to open the tag, insert the command, and then close the tag.” But what he was calling tags were greater than and less than signs that don't resemble tags at all. I've been shopping for a long time, and I know tags. Those weren't them.

As I tried to soak up the wisdom that was coming from my computer screen, I caught movement from the corner of my eye. There was a pretty red bird on the deck, looking in. I had to go get my camera and take a picture. I mean, how many times does one have a bird on their windowsill trying to watch your computer? Maybe he was interested in learning how to surf the net.

He'd probably be better at it.

Finally, I realized that no matter how good the Professor was, I was better--at getting distracted. In fairness to him, he really did break things down and make them easy to understand. But he'd never come up against someone with such a short attention span; or general lack of interest.

On the bright side, my mind isn't cluttered with technological information that I'll never understand or use. I've got room for more important things like writing my book, learning a new beading pattern (*), planning a get together with my friends, or . . . . . .

Ooh, look, a rainbow!

(*) When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was told I would undergo the maximum amount of chemotherapy that they give at one time. Since I’m a magpie and love all things sparkly, I wanted to have a way to count down the rounds until I was finished. I decided to make chemo countdown bracelets, which were nothing more than pretty beads on a stretch cord. I had never beaded a thing before, so stringing them on a cord was pretty easy. I made one for each round, and wore the bracelets until I was done, removing one as each round was over. Women at the chemo ward noticed them, and soon, my friends & I were busy making tons of chemo countdown bracelets. We left them in a basket with a note explaining what they were, and inviting patients to take them for their own countdown – free of charge. My friends are pretty awesome that way.

One day, an elderly woman (who was battling cancer for the third time) told me that she would be turning 79 soon. Knowing that she enjoyed the bracelets, I looked online to find an easy pattern to make a necklace for her. I found one, made it, and when I presented it to her, she cried. It touched me that something so small would bring a smile to a woman who was in a fight for her life. And that was the beginning of my love affair with making, and giving away, beaded jewelry. I’d make a necklace or bracelet, wear it to either radiation of doctor visits, and gave them to whichever patient noticed it. I only made them – they found their owners by themselves.

I’m now opening an Etsy site, where I can actually sell my jewelry so I can buy more beads to make more jewelry to give away. I’m calling it “Funny Girl Lucy”, but the site isn’t live yet. Of course I’ll tell you all about it as soon as it is! In the meantime, here’s some of my work.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

You Might Need Spring Cleaning if . . . .

You come across a full sized lamp that you were sure you lost years ago, and "Hoarders" and "American Pickers" are vying for the right to film you.

Okay, okay, it's not really that bad at my house. Still, we've stopped using spring cleaning to describe our yearly ritual. We call it winter purging. After this long, long winter, we have so much stuff to get rid of we may even need to get a special permit from the township.

You see, I, sadly, am a pack rat. Well, I prefer "collector of rarities." My husband, Matt, is the exact opposite. I call him a neat freak, but he prefers the term, "minimalist." If not for Matt, I'd probably still have the burned out nub of a candle from our first candlelit dinner.

I'm sentimental that way...and it smelled good.

I have a tendency to start projects, get bored and stash them away. I still have a ceramic coyote that I began working on almost 20 years ago, wrapped in a bunch of netting that was going to be a canopy for our bed and nestled in a box that also housed old fabric paint left over from a Christmas project. Actually, I don't think they can be called fabric paints at this point, since they're so dried out that they resemble brightly colored concrete. Projectile objects might be a better description.

One time, I decided to pick up knitting. I went to the craft store and purchased skeins and skeins of yarn. They were on sale. Well, that's what I told Matt, anyway.

I actually made a scarf, which encouraged me to continue. To this date, I have only the one scarf to show for my efforts. I also have two half-knitted blankets, three halfway done scarves, one almost finished doily, and a box full of yarn in a rainbow of colors and a cornucopia of textures.

In a surprising turn of events, my daughter, Aubrie, took to knitting like a magpie to a mirror. She's knitted mittens and scarves for her brother and sister, always completing her projects. She even knitted a hat that looked like a fox, which she has since sold world wide. I tease her that she has her own empire; and I'm not far from wrong. She definitely gets that "finishing the job" stuff from her dad.

I admire that gene. If I ever had it, I ignored it and it died from indifference.

I'm also a collector of pots, pans and knives. Every year we go to the Poconos on vacation and I have to visit the Crossings Factory Outlets. There are three or four "gourmet" places that I have to visit or my vacation isn't complete. Matt loves to hold my hand as we peruse the stores - he's afraid if he lets go I'll buy everything.

I've amassed quite the collection of chef's knives, skillets and pots, and a variety of glass cups. I also purchased tiny porcelain bowls, the type that restaurants use to put salad dressing, expensive olive oil for dipping and other assorted condiments in. I think I used them once--as Easter egg holders.

And thanks to the children, I've added animals to my "collection." At any given time, the menagerie has included dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, mice and chinchillas.

Currently, we have two large labs, two cats and a ferret. As such, gathering animal hair is a daily cleaning nightmare. It's amazing what these beasts leave in their wake. I could knit sweaters from the amount of fur collected on a daily basis. Then again, I'd probably get bored and stash the project away.

As any owner of a pet can tell you, keeping the fur from flying whenever you walk into a room requires constant vigil. Getting it out from under couches and other pieces of furniture, however, is an ordeal most often saved for the vernal equinox.

One day last spring, I was in my bedroom when I heard the leaf blower. I thought it was awfully loud and presumed that Matt was blowing leaves outside our window.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the sun room to find my husband wearing safety goggles, sporting a tool belt to which he'd attached Windex, paper towels, a squeegee, a sponge and other cleaning supplies, wielding a leaf blower and grunting like Tim the Tool Man Taylor.

He'd been outside mowing the lawn, cleaning exterior windows and blowing leaves when the thought had occurred to him--the leaf blower would make getting all the fur out from under our couches possible in record time. I thought he was crazy until he demonstrated his invention.

I have to point out, though, that if you have a powerful leaf blower, check under the couch before turning it on. Ferrets don't weigh much so you can imagine his shock at being blown clear across the room.

The problem was, after Ferret Bueller recovered, he thought it was a game, and began dancing around Matt, wanting another ride. We ended up locking him in a room until the job was done, both for his safety and because we'd blown half the fur off of him.

Having a ferret, we didn't only find pounds and pounds of fur. We found hidden stashes of old Christmas candy, bottle tops, bobby pins, ribbons, scraps of yarn and a myriad of beads.

If I'm being honest, I kind of knew he was stealing the beads. I was in the middle of making an intricate necklace and it was driving me crazy. I figured if he stole enough of the beads so that I couldn't finish it, I could stop without having to admit the truth. I'd completely lost interest.

Spring cleaning is a way to welcome the sun and wake up from a seemingly endless winter. You open windows, wash drapes, get rid of things you haven't used in years, and occasionally find things you thought you'd lost. But sometimes, spring cleaning turns into a spring 'replace everything'.

For example, you've washed the windows, when you notice the room needs to be painted. You paint the room, only to realize that the curtains look shabby in comparison, so you have to buy new ones. You sanded and polished hardwood floors, but then the throw rugs look dingy and need to be replaced.

It's kind of like shoveling the walk in the middle of a blizzard.

But, everything smells nice, clutter is removed and things have their place. And if all else fails, I'll let "Hoarders" have at it.

I smell an Emmy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Upper Perkiomen Relay for Life

Tomorrow, I'll be speaking at the Upper Perkiomen Relay for Life; I'm scheduled to begin my story at 6:00 pm. Posted below are links to part of the series I wrote for AOL about breast cancer. However, I wrote a condensed version on my blog telling the difference between pink ribbons & pinkwashing. If you want to read just one, that would be the one I'd recommend.

ANYWAYS, feel free to come out & see me!

Pink Ribbons/Pinkwashing - There's a Difference  (This sums up Pinktober)

Pink Ribbons = Big Profits;

Pink Ribbons = Profit for Charities, Too;

Two awesome websites to look into are:

Think Before You Pink

Breast Cancer Action

And finally, I made this photo collage to go along with my story on Patch as well as on my cancer blog. I think it sums things up pretty well, don't you think?

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.