Two-point-five years ago!

computer frustration

Not again!

I can’t believe that it has been 2.5 years since I last posted on this site! Worse, it’s hard to believe that I’ve had nothing important enough to share about learning to navigate one’s own life.

Within that time, I have turned 80, I have undergone surgery to replace my left hip joint, thrown out most of my shoes and replaced them with well-fitting MEN’S Skechers athletic shoes, and gotten a free gym membership as a benefit of my new Medicare Advantage Plan–but I still need to use a walker or cane to get to and from my car, which I can still drive.

The next challenge may be having to learn to use Windows 10. I still have a desktop PC with a “tower” running a Windows 7 OS. In January there will not be any more updates, and Microsoft is starting its sales campaign now to sell every Win 7 user a new computer, because it’s so much easier to get a new one with Win 10 already installed. But they want to sell everyone a laptop, since “everyone” uses them now. Not me–for several reasons a laptop is not a good choice for me. Besides, I have an excellent Lenovo machine that is only 6 years old, and has never given me any trouble.

My monitor is even older, and I’ve had no trouble with that, either. So no touch-screens for me! If I must use Windows 10, I’ll want to load the shell program that makes it look like Windows 7 or 8. I even still use a wired mouse and ergonomic keyboard.

However, IF my wonderful Lenovo machine should begin to malfunction, there will be nothing I can do to avoid buying something at least as good as it is, with Windows 10 installed. I will also need a new Office Suite, since the Office 2007 program I am currently  using has also stopped being updated. 🙂

I don’t need to connect my computer to my TV. It wouldn’t work, anyway. My TV is a 2003 model CRT with a 27″ screen. We had to use an RCA cord to connect it to the set-top cable box when Spectrum digitized all our channels. I’m lucky to be able to watch TV at all, in a letterbox format stretched across the screen, but the picture is still excellent.

I watch Netflix on my computer. I also now have to play all my CDs and DVDs with the computer, because the RCA cord is what used to be connected to my DVD/CD player.

(And I will not pay for streaming through iTunes or Amazon or All Access!)

Oh, and I also still use a flip phone! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…

Posted in Count myself lucky, How did that happen? | 4 Comments

Lost Purse Story

Several months ago, I thought I had left my purse in the shopping cart at the grocery store. I had my keys in my pocket, so I had been able to get home and open the door. I had put the groceries away and had sat down in my desk chair in front of the computer. Needing something from my purse, I turned in the revolving chair to get it from its customary place on a bench behind me. But I was shocked to find that place empty, I began a search through my small room, and found nothing. I looked in the car: nothing!

I drove back to the store and asked at the Lost & Found: nothing. A security guard suggested that I call my cell phone, which was in the purse, but I had to go home and use my landline to do that. By this time I was frantic. In that small purse was every form of ID that I had, all my credit cards, cash, and my cell phone! I didn’t know what to do. But when I got home, I did pick up the landline and dialed my cell number. And I heard it ringing!

It took a little while, but finally I found the purse hanging by its handle on the adjustment knob on the back of my swivel desk chair. Swiveling around from the computer to reach for my purse, the knob on the back of the chair had silently caught on the handle and carried the small purse around behind me!

"Lost" Purse

“Lost” Purse

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Life with1952 Technology

In 1952 I was 14 years old and lived with my parents in a rented house (2-room + bath with sheet linoleum on the wood floor) in Carlsbad, NM. It seemed big to us, since we had been living in a 28 ft. trailer since 1947 when we left the cold, damp climate of Pennsylvania, pulling our home behind us with Dad’s old, but powerful Lincoln Zephyr, with a homemade dolly between it and the trailer to take some of the weight and make it easier to turn.

Dad and his Lincoln Zephyr

Dad and his Lincoln

  We had lived for 8 months in Mobile, AL, then 3 years in Ft. Worth, TX, but the humidity seemed to follow us. Finding the drier climate that we needed and a job as an auto mechanic for my dad in Carlsbad, we had lived in a trailer park called “Dun Roamin’” until school was about to start. Dad managed to sell the trailer and we rented the 2-room house from a couple whom we met at the small Methodist church we had found.

It was within walking distance of my school and our church, which were pretty much the institutions around which our lives revolved at that time. Both of the rooms in the house served multiple purposes, of course. Half of the front room served as my parents’ bedroom with one closet that was back-to-back with mine in the back room. The other half of the front room had a sofa which could fold out as a bed, and an old studio piano that my dad had bought for me the previous year.

The back room had an army cot for me on one wall beside the window, with just enough space to open my closet, which had 2 racks for hanging clothes and a chest of drawers for knits and underwear. The rest of the back room was a kitchen with table and chairs for meals or anything else we needed a table for. Dad used to roll his cigarettes there out of pre-cut papers with one glued edge and Prince Albert pipe tobacco, on a small manual machine. I used to roll them for him sometimes, too. My mother must have had her wringer washer there, but since she was friends with the landlady next door, she often used her new automatic washer. (I don’t think we ever had anything new, except for our clothes, since Mom was an excellent seamstress.)

Between the two rooms was a hall no longer than 8 ft. On one side was the bathroom with toilet, sink, and shower. (When I graduated to high school, it was too far away for me to walk. So we moved to a slightly larger rented house where we had private bedrooms and I could still walk to and from school if I had to.)

But while we were living in the 2-room house, I had just started 9th grade when we received word that my grandmother in Pennsylvania had died. Back then, nobody questioned a request for 3 weeks off from school for a death in the family out of state. Nobody that we knew got on an airplane and flew across the country and back for a funeral, and even though my dad had once earned a pilot’s license for single-engine planes, he had neither the money nor the trust in a plane that he could not fly himself, to make the trip by air. We loaded his beloved old Lincoln Zephyr with suitcases and food, and we drove for 5 days each way, to spend about a week with family that we had not seen since 1947.

Old TV

(Not the Actual TV Set)

On the way back, we carried one of the first TV sets ever made: a Dumont black-and-white model with a 9-inch round screen. It sat in the corner of the front bedroom, so we could sit on the couch and watch it. The set was connected to a large antenna on a pole just outside the corner window. In those days, the antenna had to be turned in order to receive signals from the 2 or 3 stations that were available, which was tedious if you had to go outside to do it while someone else monitored the picture on the screen. So my dad rigged a system of gears and a bicycle chain through the bottom of the wooden window frame, with a locking handle that he could turn from inside the house while looking at the TV screen. (I often wonder what he could have achieved if he had not left school after the 8th grade.)

There was no cable TV in 1952, so our viewing was limited to local news or events and recorded shows that the local stations bought. Sometimes enormous antenna towers were erected in an effort to receive distant signals. (Compare that with present-day satellite systems which can relay signals from around the world.)

But one Sunday, my dad became a celebrity, and was written up in the local newspaper because he had been able to tune in on part of a World Series baseball game by way of a signal received in Mexico City reflected off a massive low overcast sitting over just the right area to “skip” to our antenna. The broadcast was in Spanish, though the game was being played in California, USA.

We were not yet living in New Mexico when the UFO crash-landed near Roswell, about 70 miles away from Carlsbad. We heard speculation about it, but I can’t recall that anyone I knew talked about it much. It is a much bigger deal now than it ever was then.



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Now You’ve Done It!

“Now You’ve Done It!”

This is an expression I’ve heard in Texas several times, and once ascribed to the nation as a whole on 9/11 in the form of an angry eagle superimposed on the World Trade Center. It is a call to action, since we have “had it up to here” with some behavior that has been carried on to the point where it can’t be tolerated.

A few years ago, I worked for “Big Company Home Health” in the  Texas Piney Woods. It was not unusual for one of us to be sent to a distant town to see patients for another nurse or therapist who was ill or was on leave. This required rescheduling one’s own patients, usually with little or no notice.

One morning I was handed a work schedule in the city of Tyler (25 miles away) upon arriving at my office, and found it more than I could have completed even if I knew these patients and how to find them. While this is certainly not in a league with having one’s office building bombed by an aircraft colliding with it, I felt about the same level of shock and disbelief. 

For several minutes I walked around in a daze, telling one person after another, “I can’t do this.” All I got in response were shrugs. Then I noticed that I had begun to feel dizzy and my face felt hot. I sat down, but the feeling did not go away. After a few minutes, I walked into the Director’s cubicle and said, “I don’t feel very good.”

She looked at me and said, You don’t look very good, either. Your face is red. Let me get you some water.” Then she asked a nurse to get a blood glucose testing kit. Since my glucose was found to be normal, she then took my blood pressure. It was much too high. It was, in fact, at stroke level. Instead of going to work that day, I was sent home to see my doctor, after the Director made an appointment for me.

I was started on an angiotensin II antagonist, which was less likely to make me too sleepy to drive, but would reduce the effects of stress on my blood vessels. In a few days I began to feel better, and no one said anything about my working outside my area for a while. But I knew it was time to look for a different work situation. By this time I had officially retired and had begun receiving Social Security benefits, though not enough to live on. I needed home health work, closer to home, on a part-time basis of not more than 20 hours a week.

I updated my résumé and took it to the office of Mr. D, a PT in Palestine (where I lived) who had agreements with every Home Health Agency in the area that did not employ its own therapists. I was told that there was no opening for a PTA at that time, but they would keep my paperwork on file and contact me if something came up. It was weeks later, and I had almost forgotten having put in my application, when I received a call at my office on my cell phone asking if I was still available to work for “Mr. D.” Taking my phone outside, I answered, “Yes, I am!” And we set up a time when I could come to his office and discuss the work I would be expected to do.

It turned out that Mr. D was an easy-going fellow who finalized an offer of employment with a handshake, and did not use contracts. I knew that he was a good man, well-liked and respected, and that he had owned and operated his own PT Clinic for at least 20 years. We came to an agreement of how many hours I would work, that my mileage would be paid at the rate set by whichever Home Health Agency my patient was with. I did not need any other benefits, since I had Medicare and my own IRA. So it seemed that I would be a good fit in this position. We shook hands on it, and when I turned in my resignation at BCHH-Jacksonville, the Director said she was sorry I was leaving, but she knew I would be working with a very nice boss, and she was “a little jealous.” So I actually left there on good terms, though I knew that some other poor soul was going to be handed a schedule of patients out of her area until they found someone permanent to take my place. But I did not worry about it. I was free!

Now You've Done It!

Now You’ve Done It!





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Why Do We Misremember with Age?

Short answer: The compression process removes spaces!



If we wonder how human memory can contain so much data, we must realize that the data is compressed, just as it is in my computer, in the server that sends and receives transmissions, and in the process of transmission to another computer. Programs are needed to compress and encrypt this data, and to decrypt and decompress it at its destination, so that it can be read and produce an image in the human brain.

In the compression process, spaces are removed. There is a loss of quality and details, and that is why details are missing and time is distorted. What seems like 6 months ago may actually be almost 2 years ago, as in my current case: stuck in a grocery store parking lot with a full load of groceries in  the trunk of my car, and the engine cranks, but will not start–just like the last time in front of a Pizza Hut (which was a much more convenient venue!) In fact, while I was waiting for a tow truck that time, I thought that I could have been stranded at the bank, the doctor’s office, or worse case scenario: in a grocery store parking lot with frozen food in the trunk! Honestly, I did not wish for this to happen! I felt blessed that I had a pizza to eat in a cool restaurant while I waited!

But this time, while I was waiting for the tow truck, and a friend to come and help me get the groceries home, I thought that this was going to be a warranty job on the fuel pump and filter that had to be replaced last time–and it surely couldn’t have been longer than 6 months ago that I had forked over $500 to have that done! However, going over my own records at home, I discovered that the fuel pump and filter had been replaced almost 2 years ago! Unbelievable! How can my memory play such tricks on me? Yes, I know I forget names, and why I walked into the kitchen, but how does time shrink like this?

Compression! Besides getting a new battery and a new set of tires, nothing much had been done to my car since the Pizza Hut incident, and there was a lot of empty space in the document/image where I kept data about my car. An image the size of my computer screen can be compressed to the size of a thumbnail file for storage, and it takes up a lot less space–on my computer and in my brain. And all the unused space goes away to be used by something else. No wonder it seemed like only 6 months!

Unfortunately, I will have to pay full-size price for whatever work needs to be done to fix the car this time. But I’m lucky to have the little green lizard providing my roadside service! 🙂


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Caring Seniors Seen as Targets by 501(c)(3)’s

Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy Logic

Let me tell you what happens when an old lady living on a “fixed income”  sends a few dollars (sometimes as little as $3 or $5) to a worthy cause, as what she is led to believe is a “one-time gift.”  Her name and address are sold to other marketers, who may also re-sell the name. Every request from a charity, whether local or national, that she responds to, puts her on its mailing list, which may again be sold.

As a result, this old lady is soon up to her neck in address labels, notepads, decals, calendars, “blankets,” certificates, tote bags, greeting cards, native dream-catchers, copies of hand-written thank-you notes, and dimes, nickels, and pennies enclosed as an inducement to open the letter. In the space of one year, this old lady found herself receiving envelopes containing one or more gifts from 5 veterans’ charities, 4 charity/research hospitals, 3 specific disease charities, 2 Indian Schools, plus a local food bank and The Salvation Army, with suggested donation amounts requested.

They each start out as a one-time gift, but it isn’t long before they are suggesting “convenient monthly withdrawals from your checking account,” or scheduled payments charged to your credit card.” (I don’t think so, you say.) Then they send you a plastic card and ask for an “annual membership renewal” donation of $100 or more! (Huh? I didn’t say I wanted to join anything.) This is a practice also employed by political parties and their many special-interest groups and PACs. Even the AARP Foundation sends a “statement,” and practically demands an “annual membership renewal fee” if you send them even one donation a year. And many suggest ways to leave them money in your will!

The old lady in this story is real. Her brother died of leukemia. One other relative had cancer. Her son is a veteran. And she votes, at least in all national elections. She cares. But she has had to tell callers to take her off their lists, cut up and return (at their expense) unsolicited membership cards, and tear up their repetitive “registered surveys.”

I know this will hit home with most people my age. Unless you are much better off than I am, you need those dollars, which add up to a horrifying amount over a year, to support yourself!

Tip: Don’t start. Or only write checks to donate to your church. Give to local charities in person, in cash, or household goods.

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What’s Up with Internet Explorer?

computer frustration

Not again!

It’s bad enough that people now want to downgrade from Windows 8 to  Windows 7, the last OS that actually worked for the Desktop user who does things besides post on Facebook, play games, and download music and videos. Now Internet Explorer 11 doesn’t work more than half the time.

I liked XP and its Outlook Express mail program, but it’s not going to be supported after April 2014. I also could not use Gmail without being told that I had an outdated browser (IE8) which would not display Gmail properly. Since IE8 could not be updated in XP, I installed the Google Chrome browser to run Gmail, and as an alternate way to access certain important sites when I was having trouble with IE. That worked well until my nine-year-old hard dive disk began to show signs of imminent failure, so I shopped for a new desktop with Windows 7 and all the RAM I could afford.

And I was happy with my new Lenovo until Windows began to update versions of IE9 (which wasn’t bad), then 10, which was annoying because it often, for no good reason, was “unable to download” files that I needed. And then came “Spawn of the Devil,” IE11, which, many users are finding, stops running suddenly several times a day. And it puts up a small window telling you that it has stopped working. Although it (by default) restarts right away, it may stop again within seconds, no matter what one does, or else the functions on the page will not respond to mouse clicks or Ctrl+ commands.

I finally got fed up and began using Google Chrome to open all my favorite and necessary sites, leaving IE only to use Office Outlook and a few other sites that do not seem to affect its operation.  I even have to open my Yahoo mail program in Google Chrome! Sometimes I wish I’d learned to use a Mac before I got too old to unlearn all my PC habits.

Anyone else having trouble with IE11, or know what to do about it (besides switching to Chrome or Firefox?)

Fuzzy Logic

Fuzzy Logic

PS: I don’t really have a cat! Fuzzy logic, maybe…

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