Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Zumba Etc

Today was a typical Monday for this part of my life. The cats work me, asserting that they were starved even though we all knew that the feeding is done in the downstairs apartment by the girls. They cats always try, and sometimes they are rewarded by milk. As Gail Gorud said, I am often a soft touch.
Since I cleaned the litterbox thoroughly on the weekend I usually skip that Monday mornings. After ablutions I make my preferred brekfast of oatmeal and fruit, with maybe some protein on the side. The coffee drips as I make my lunch salad and then I'm ready to go. Shall I catch the early bus, or the just-in-time bus? Today I went for just-in-time, which was late and therefore so was I. Fortunately there was slack time, but I dislike using that.
I like my work well enough; I meet (virtually) 20-40 people a day and solve problems (ideally). Which I could prefer better technology, I like the work itself and take pride in managing the experience which is, after all, often fraught with worry for the customers.
I made it home on time to drive to Zumba - I have not built up the confidence to take the bus yet - and had another excellent class. I have decided I enjoy exercise that doesn't involve being shouted at, and dance is ideal for this. I just need to add a little more strength training and I'm set!
I drove Nessa home from work and we stopped to pick up a last-minute item for support. Kiria made enchiladas fit for the gods, and I farted around on my computer, surrounded by cats, until bedtime. I made sure to have my Toastmasters role well prepared for, checking the equipment and drafting Table Topics so there is nothing last minute
I'm not sure that I made any major progress toward large life goals today, except that I am maintaining and moving closer to the heating system renovation - so there's that. Another day!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Windows 10, Memory Hogging, and the Passage of Time

When the Mac died I decided it was time to give Windows another try. I'd spent extra money getting a premium computer and it died all the same, so I tried the opposite route of getting the least expensive possible.
That turned out to be $179 (plus sales tax) - a 4 Gb of memoryWindows 10 device on sale at Target. At that price it's almost an impulse item, and I needed the computer. I took it home, set it up, and was frustrated because it was unusably slow. For example, I would click on an email to read it and wait more than a minute even for the email's checkbox to activate showing me my click had worked. I gave it a day, then took it back. Target is good about returns.
I decided to just give a heavy sigh and buy whatever was midrange for now. Next up was Costco. Their top performing machine was l6 Gig plus 4 of video memory and had a cute backlit keyboard that I knew I would soon hate; it was labelled as a gaming machine. I guessed that the extra video memory was of no use if I didn't game, which I don't, and the display was only 15". I went instead for the 17" display with 16 Gig of memory. That is what I'm using now, and it seems to perform acceptably.
My first home computer was the noisy Coleco Adam. I say "noisy" because the power supply was embedded in the printer, which ran on a daisywheel so I associated booting up with printer warm-up sounds. For all its faults it kept up with my typing. Next I got a Commodore 64 which was mostly for gaming, although I vaguely remember I justified it to myself for experimenting on  software for helping the developmentally disabled.
The first computer I got that was comparable to those I was using at work was a Franklin 800 from Sears. I went with the dual floppy drives and goes a lot of writing done on it, mostly resumes of course. Thereafter I alternated between DOS or Windows and Apple devices, and noticed that as the features improved the memory requirements went up even faster.
That's just the way it is, I suppose. My parents were of a generation that could still recall when "horsepower" referred to an actual horse, and I am of a generation that could still recall when a megabyte was "a lot" instead of "a little".

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


This morning the Mac quit.
I'd  spent a premium to get a top of the line device, and after about 16 months thus morning, the display shimmered and then went dark. Much of the device continues to function, as if
I press the power button I get the 'power on'  chord, but I can't go far blind.
It's valuable enough that I took it to West Seattle Computers for a checkup. I trust them to do the right thing and not to overcharge, but my being unimpressed by the Mac reached a tipping point today. It's just not the magic box it pretends to be - you have to be looking at it constantly to make it work, and that's just stupid - anyone with keyboard skills can look anywhere to get things done, so the computer becomes merely a tool, not the focus.
I find myself forced to take up the bloated Windows 10. Rather than waste my time going the top of the line route, I got a cheap device with only 8 gig. It is slow but usable.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Toastmasters Training and Kat Dining

Saturday morning was taken up with officer training for Toastmasters. I enjoy getting together with a lotto people dedicated to self-improvement!
For the evening my sister Kat came over, toured the house and then had dinner and gossip cat "Noble Barton". This was really fun.
Sunday I caught up on chores. This may sound prosaic, and much of it is, but it's necessary and useful and I don't regret the time. I rewarded myself by writing memes and planting potatoes that had gone leggy. I do wish the  cats barfed less....

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fabulous App and the Busstop Buddy

My bus stop buddy Margaret and her husband Phil are moving to 35th, as they've bought a house for their growing family. I'll miss the conversations, especially on sustainability projects run by the nonprofit she works at. But good luck to them at their new location, and may the family flourish! At our most recent chat, she reminded me of an app I was trying ("Habitica") that supported developing useful habits by making a game of it. Using the game mechanic of frequent small challenge and rewards, and progressively more difficult, less frequent but larger rewards, felt like a good idea. I played with Habitica for a while but quietly dropped it during one of my periodic cellphone purges, because I had begun to regard it as a chore. If I chose small daily tasks, it was not fun to tick them off and if I chose large infrequent tasks, the app didn't help. Margaret suggested the app "Fabulous" as a more sophisticated approach; she'd tried it for a few days and liked it. I promptly downloaded it and fired it up. It appears to be preloaded with good habits that it presents over time, freeing me from the work of writing tasks. I'll give it a try - I can always use self-improvement!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Happy Birthday Grill

Happy birthday to me!
My birthday gift was a grill which was a double gift since I had to assemble it. It was a great practical puzzle, with cryptic directions and ultimately a single solution achieved only after solving many micro puzzles. My prize is the capacity to grill dinner + 4 mysteriously leftover bolts.

One of the nice things about this puzzle, er I mean grill, is that the little parts come on a blister pack, so you can see easily what's what - very organized!
The back of the blister pack identifies each screw, bolt, nut, washer and cotter key, with perforations so you can just open little doors to get them, like an Advent calendar chocolate. Nice!
But I still ended up with 4 extra bolts (Part "M" for "Mystery"!)
Happy birthday to me! My birthday gift was a grill which was a double gift since I had to assemble it. It was a great practical puzzle, with cryptic directions and ultimately a single solution achieved only after solving many micro puzzles. My prize is the capacity to grill dinner + 4 mysteriously leftover bolts.

Sunday: Good Bye To All That

Sunday Kris came and took several items of furniture for which I had no use and she had attachment: The fancy Chinese cabinet (converted into TV stand by owners before us), the rice chest (with WW2 Chinese newspaper stuck to the bottom,  and above all the vintage chaise longue from a Colorado whorehouse of the 19th century.  She did't offer any money and didn't bring the promised baked goods. I'm not really surprised.
The only thing left here to which she may have a moral claim is the metal stove in the basement which had with great fanfare been brought over from eastern Washington as a momento of a favored aunt, and the red maple from Larry and Ginger. I texted her, giving them a year which is too generous and if the stove is in the way ... the problem is that it's hard for me to discard things.
Afterwards, I texted what I hope will be our last communication:
"Now that I have gifted you with several thousand dollars worth of vintage furniture, all of which I have the legal right to sell, I think everything to which you might have any attachment is off this property except possibly the wood stove and the maple tree. I would like them gone by the end of the year.
I wish you well in your new house and I offer a word of advice.
As you know, our relationship fell apart because of the mutual mental or emotional issues that we have. On my part depression and the hoarding instinct that came from being raised in abject poverty lead to your feeling repelled by me, and I understand that. This is not something that you were ever able to articulate and that is a problem that can poison any future relationship you may have: your refusal to articulate issues while they are still small enough to be dealt with. Your preference for holding grudges until you can release them with great drama has not served you well, and is a threat to any future relationship.
You may reject this advice, but keep in mind I have no motivation to lead you astray at this point.
The other word of advice is to do something about your alcoholism. At one time you said your mother asked if she had taught you to get divorced and you said no, but in fact the answer is yes. Your bio dad died of his alcoholism, and your mother taught you that drinking heavily is simply the way to be. No doubt she learned that from her father, and you will note that she is completely alienated from her family for no reason that makes any sense except emotional issues that she has.
I have little doubt that you will [not] accept this advice, because that's the nature of the disease, but I have given it and that's all I can do.
Some alcoholics live to a great age, others go like Joe my brother and lie your father. If you value your current or future relationships you should do something about it.
That's all the advice I have for you. I don't think we have anything else to talk about.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Toastmasters: Picnic Table Topics

Madam Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Honored Guests…..

Table Topics is the time when we practice extemporaneous speaking. 
We do not prepare speeches or even know in advance about what we will speak.

This can be frightening. Extemporaneous feels like “unprepared”. To dislike being unprepared is not a bad thing.

But, my friends and fellow Toastmasters, extemporaneous speaking is something we have all done. Our first words ... "mama" or "papa" or - in the case of my 3rd ex, "forsythia" - were all unplanned. 
And ever since, every day we have spoken extemporaneously with family, friends and co-workers. 

You are good at this.

For example, at last Saturday’s Toastmaster’s picnic I heard brief talks - chiefly stories - by everyone there. None seemed rehearsed or prepared. Each arose spontaneously and organically from the inspirations of the moment.

(Maybe John had something prepared, I don’t know …)

Drawing on the happy success of that event, I bring this bag of picnic inspirations. 

I ask you to bring out of this bag a picnic object. Then, talk for one to two minutes about a memory it may evoke, a plan it may inspire or simply about what it may be.

Come step up!

Who will take the first picnic table topic? 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Weekend Update: Toastmasters Picnic, Pegasus Books

This week was packed with obligations and opportunities that all seemed to come together at about the same time, but with the aid of my trusty Planning Chalkboard I managed to be on time for everything and get everything done.
Saturday starts with a class at the Y. For the past couple of years it's been a barre class, which has been excellent for my core. I'm actually stronger than I was 10 years ago, using objective measurements. I don't seem to be getting ahead in the gradual appearance of aging, but that's the Tao I suppose.
The weekly DAV meeting was dominated by a re-reading of the Bylaws, which had been given some minor charges at the Departmental level. An under appreciated reason for brevity in Bylaws (and accomplishing as much as possible through Standing Rules under the Bylaws instead) is that the waste of time of 30 grown adults listening to a re-reading which they will do nothing about and will promptly forget.
I slipped out shortly after noon to take Arthur in to the doctor for his monthly eye drain. It has to be done at the office because the whole point is maintaining a sterile environment - the slightest infection in his eye would be Very Bad. This is really not much of an inconvenience now that he's accepting the procedure without a majorly fight, so he doesn't need anesthetic.
Then it was off to the Toastmaster's picnic, atop a building in West Seattle. Great company, nice views, roasting sun. I really do enjoy this group of people and feel grateful to be admitted to their company. I heard great stories from around the world and shared a few aphorisms or cryptic comments that seemed to amuse.
I went home and took a three hour name. I'm really not made for direct sunlight.
Sunday I went to Harbor Freight to get  brush chipper. My yard generates branches and blackberry vines; my choice is to pay for a yard waste bin or to chip them to use on the gardens. Let's try the localizing solution first.
I met with a former pro bono client and we discussed the possibility of further action using some new whistleblower legislation. This is entirely new to me and the big problem seems to be figuring out what is in the best interest of the client and of the client's interests  - which are not always the same thing.
Finally I went to the last day of the West Seattle fair (or whatever they call it) at the Alaska Junction. Pegasus was donating its leftover books to the Hospital if I could move them. Nate came through with his SUV and the load took less than half an hour!
I also addressed the financing issue for the heat system. I had put off actually filling out the paperwork because of the usual reluctance about major fina commitments, but I feel good about this decision having chewed it over thoroughly.
I feel I got a lot of things done - and am now ready to go back to work!