Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pavlov and my iPhone

My friends, all senior citizens, meet regularly for lunch. If I'm late I can call any one of them to tell her so. But one of them can't call me, because I never want to wear out the battery on my Tracphone (aka Crap phone according to my son-in-law.)

They can show off their grandkids' antics on their smart phones. I have to lug around my iPad. 

(Forgive the whining--it's all about establishing mood.)

My daughter can navigate from the GPS system on her phone. I use a non-talking paper map.

My sons-in-law speak their appointments and do-lists into their phones. I search for pen and paper to write down the things I need to remember.

I recently learned I could join my kids' phone plan and afford my very own smartphone. It's great for lots of things, but the very best is the ding that indicates an incoming message. Where ever I am, I jump up and hustle to the phone. 

The positive reinforcement is strong. 

This message from one of the grandkids, age 7, is even better than being there.

Her: I am gouging bulging with my frind.
Me: What is bulging?
Her: Where you throw the hevey ball and try to nock down the bluing pins.

Or, sitting in my comfy reading chair, legs up, the shiny "ting" beckons. I throw back the lap robe and hurryto the phone. My reward is a cute photo in "real time."

It only took about 2 days and I was as conditioned to the stimulus as any of Pavlov's dogs.

Ding! What trick do you perform at the prompt of your device?


Thursday, January 22, 2015

High Security Alert for your Girl Scout Cookies

It's Girl Scout cookie time, and that means you need a security strategy to protect yours!

About the third time I went for an after dinner Thin Mint, and found a crumpled, EMPTY cellophane sleeve in the box we called a family meeting.
We'd already decided that everybody could have two cookies a night, to keep it fair. The public trust had been breached!

We are second generation cookie monsters and we demand equity. My side of the family operated on  a principle my dad brought back from his time in the Marine Corps, "never check up short." In other words:  know what your fair share is, and it's up to you to get it. 

The Glovers had a stricter policy. My mother-in-law made thick, fudgey, nutty brownies and cut them into precise 1.5" squares. They were placed in a pyramid formation, each layer separated by waxed paper, in an old metal cake carrier. The lid had metal arms that stretched around the lip of the plate, and snapped into place to keep the contents moist. 

Norene ruled you could have one gooey block of rhapsody each night. None at lunch. Heaven help you if you got caught sneaking one. The wrath of the entire family came down on you and you were "docked" from the next night's allotment. She didn't actually count them, but she could spot any funny business.  My father-in-law grumbled that she might as well shellac them so they'd last forever.

Back to the cookie meeting.  I presented each family member with his or her own box of GS cookies to eat as they wanted. We wrote our names on the packages, and I stuck mine in the freezer to keep them in mint condition (pun intended.) It worked well. 

Work places have tried a similar strategy with mixed results.

Food snatching is a common problem at schools which explains why mini-fridges in classrooms have popped up like mushrooms.  In the good ol' days, our faculty shared a common "lounge" into which we crammed our bagged lunches. I usually labeled mine, hoping it would make a potential thief hesitate. No one ever nabbed my leftovers. 

Lounge etiquette, unstated but generally understood, allowed anyone to help themselves to snacks left out on the table. When there were unmarked treats in the lounge, word traveled like bad news on CNN. There could well be a stampede to get a goodie before classes began.

One lunch time my heart bounced like a kid hopping through a hula hoop. There was a big white bakery box in the middle of the table, lid flipped back to show the remains of a chocolate sheet cake. I scrounged through the drawers for a plastic fork, pulled the paper towel dispenser twice to create a napkin, and scooped up an edge piece full of extra frosting. I re-covered the box and read the curse scrawled on top.  "Go ahead and finish it you vultures!"

Whoa! Maybe the poison pen had dissuaded other late-to-the-table colleagues from trying the plundered dainty. ("dainty", a 13th century French word meaning delicacy, pleasure.) As my colleagues drifted in for lunch we pieced  the story together. This cake had been in the middle of the table (originally without the note) intended for a specific celebration. The general population hadn't been invited. Someone, innocently perhaps, took the first piece. When the cake-bearer came to fetch it for the special event, it was desecrated, thus the nasty note.

Our faculty was a pretty easy going bunch, so I wondered who had written the note.

When the name was revealed, I wasn't really surprised. She had a usually-contained disagreeable side I had seen one other time, but this fit. The vitriolic note didn't keep me from enjoying the cake.

The wider lesson of the story is: if your ambiguity will leave an opening for someone else's license, for both parties' sake you'd better make the label large and clear, and hope for the best.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

I don't know how well Benjamin Franklin took his own advice. I certainly don't.

But the other day work required I leave the house very early. I was delighted by this ring around the moon. 

Later that night, it had moved to the other side of the house and shone through the stark branches of a tall tree. 

My day began and ended bathed in the moon's silver brilliance. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A tradition in time for 2015 Birthdays

This young lady inspired a very special birthday tradition.  I share it with you now so you'll have time to pass it along in your family.

On the big day her grandmother circled up the celebrants, and gave the birthday girl a smooth stone etched with the figure of a bear. She told her granddaughter an (invented) Native American legend that wishes made for another person while holding the stone would come true. 

Nan Jan folded the stone between her two hands and made a silent wish then passed it to the next person. The girl's aunt then voiced her own wish for the niece to have some exciting adventure during the coming year. 

When handed to the cousin, he squeezed his eyes shut and pressed the rock in one hand while mumbling under his breath, desiring that a new friend be added to her relationships. 

Grandpa hoped she'd have a fantastic time at her first week-long camp away from home. And so on around the circle until it came back to the young lady.

The bear of course was just a means to affirm a beloved child. Placed on the shelf above her bed, she'd look at the stone and remember the people that loved her and rooted for her success in every endeavor. 

Like the old fashioned blessing from a patriarch, pastor or priest, the ceremony confirmed her value as part of the family, and within the wider world. It was a confidence builder. 

Don't we want every child we know to receive those gifts! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Checkin' in on TODAY

TODAY  I am mindful of my "one Word" quest.

I read another blogger's advice: 

"And what do you do with this one little word?
You live with it. You invite it into you life. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads."
 TODAY I am going to the symphony. TODAY I am going to enjoy beautiful music no matter what else happens. 

Here's to TODAY!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cleaning the car to pay for gas

No fog, no rain, just sun, sun, sun.

 It was a 1970 summer San Francisco day so perfect it insisted my friend and I hop in her car before our afternoon work shift, and ride up and down the hills to the beach.

The windows were down, and our glossy long hair blew back off of our faces. We sang "Here Comes the Sun" along with the Beatles on the radio.  I beat out the rhythm on the outside of the car door ignoring Mother's habitual warning that my arm could be cut off if we were in an accident. She was a thousand miles away and couldn't see me! My smile was as big as a giant slice of watermelon. 

This was before reserve gas tanks and blinking icons on the dash board, and without notice the car just quit. My friend glided to the side of the road. THEN she noticed the dial registered the big E.

We had neither cash nor a credit card, so it was time to scrounge for change. The glove compartment was crammed with stuff but only coughed up $0.07. We jerked out the wide back seat and sifted through dried snack bits, a couple of chewed up pencils, and scraps of paper to find a nickel and five pennies.  We had enough for a half gallon since gas was only $0.35 a gallon.

Giggling at our great fortune, Megan ran across the street (more good luck) to a service station. The attendant,  "Chuck" according to his uniform, carried over the gas can and poured it into the tank. 

We gave him a wave, slid into the front seat from opposite sides and slammed the doors at precisely the same time.  Back over the hills to work, we had to run from the parking lot to the time clock. We were  a few minutes late but the adventure was worth the scolding we received.

I was nearly giddy at this price for gas today. 

But buying it has never again been as much fun as it was that day. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Road Vanity

If you had too much time on the roads during the holidays, you can probably add to my collection of vanity plates.

Watching for them was better than playing the alphabet game. Here's what I spied between home and Newark, Delaware. See if you can match the vehicle with the plate.

CLSYLADY                          1980's black small Toyota pickup

GODNGUN                          10 year old blue van

K8SGRAM                           big black pickup with a snake painted
                                                             on the side

MYCEDES                           Ford Taurus

Violin 1                                red BMW convertible

DAVZGRL                            Toyota sedan

LORYDER                            red Mustang

BIBLS4U                             silver Mercedes