Not Quite Wordless Wednesday

Cropping for Effect
 This was my mom's dog Kandi.  Or Candi - should've let the name be spelled the way she wanted!  i think i was the actual photographer, using one of the Instamatics.
Here's the original.  i wouldn't cut the actual photo, because the chair is An Important Historical Detail, and the library table likewise (you might recognize it, or not, from blog pictures of  Duckpond in the Life on the Computer Farm series).
Anyway, the doggie kinda gets lost in the entire photo.  The smaller, peekaboo shot is maybe better.  It's about the cute doggie.

Or how about this one?  It's kind of a weird view, but tells a different story.  Offhand, i don't remember where i used it, somewhere on this blog, but this seemed a reasonable way to use an onhand photo to convey the message:  i'm here, i'm telling you stuff, but not everything, still some privacy involved.

Cropping for effect.  A tool to use.

Life on the Computer Farm: Those Printers

First we had the HP.
  Actually we still have, i believe, the same HP.  It's clunky and boring, while being too complicated to understand; replacing the ink cartridge is worth a week's groceries, it only does b&w, but it gets the job done.
  i've seen what looks like the same model in banks.

  Then we got a Dell.  It was worth more than we paid for it - free, for all MyGuy thought of it as junk.  It scanned.   It faxed.  It did COLOR.  i could use lots of different weights & sizes of papers & cardstocks, as long as they were no more than 11" wide.  You had to manually turn the pages over to print on the back, but that wasn't too hard.

  For my birthday last year, MyGuy got me the Epson.  It is a Really Super Fantastic Printer, though, as usual, he didn't listen to all i wanted.  (but how often will i really need to print or even scan a 12x12?)  It scans.  It faxes.  It does COLOR.  It  even prints ON CDs.  i don't even know all it does yet, it's so complicated.

  Right now it's annoying me.
  That boring HP printer will keep printing to the cartridge's last breath.  We get some pretty interesting, pale, stripey pages, but if we can put up with what we get, the HP printer will keep printing everything we ask it to.
  Not so the Really Super Fantastic Epson.
  It has six ink cartridges.  Cyan, Yellow, Lt. Cyan, Black, Magenta, Lt. Magenta.
  At the moment, the Magenta is nearly full; the Lt. Magenta and Yellow are at half.  Cyan, Lt. Cyan, and Black look very low to me, but i think i could print more with them.
  Epson has made an executive decision that the print quality would not be good enough, therefore i may not print anything.
  Not only that, i may not SCAN anything, until i replace the Cyan, Lt. Cyan, and Black cartridges.  Nor may i receive faxes, even if i do not wish to print the fax but rather store it in my computer.
  Presumably i could send faxes, if i the document was already in the computer.  But i've never wanted to fax a document like that, only paper ones.  Which would need to be scanned.

  Did i say this printer is annoying me?  That's an understatement.

More on Executive Function

   It occurred to me that what i'd said before about executive function wasn't strong enough.
  We think of Donald in his tower office, overlooking the city, telling his underlings to make it happen, and it happens.
  We think of Captain Picard, or Captain Kirk, saying, "Make it so!" and worlds move.
  But how does it happen?
  There's the lowly secretary, the little ensign, making the phone calls, pushing the right buttons, saying the right things to the right people - and all sorts of things going even MORE behind the scenes.
  i have a friend who's an executive secretary.  She once walked into a new job and was handed a list of overdue accounts.  Apparently the company had written them off.  She called each firm and asked, "What can we do to help get this taken care of?"
  The bills started getting paid.

  We don't even know all the layers of stuff going on in our own brains to get something done. But it happens.  Usually it happens smoothly.
  Donald or JeanLuc or Tiberius probably don't have a clue.
  And neither do our kids.

  A lot of days i don't either.

Rainy Spring Day Random Thoughts

  1. Max had a good dental checkup.
  2. In his progress report from school, his teacher had said that, when he obsesses about going home in the middle of the day, he can get over it when she tells him that he will go home on the bus at 2:30.  So today, when he was obsessing about going home instead of to school after the appointment, i told him he would go home at 2:30 on the bus.  It short-circuited the usual loop about No, sorry, can't do that, i heard you, but no.
  3. On another note, i guess i am committed to MyGuy.  i just re-signed with the drug store that he can manage my prescriptions until 2048.
  4. i'm excited.  In a few minutes, my friend Sharon and i are going to hear Eustacia Cutler, aka Temple Grandin's mom, speak. 

What's in the Lower Case?

  If you have read my blog very long, you have probably been hit in the face by my unrelenting use of a lowercase i as first person singular.
  If you've been reading attentively, you will have also noticed that i rigorously capitalize that first person singular when quoting, or "as if" quoting, and that i also capitalize pronouns referring to God.

  These are not unrelated.

  Nor are they any indication of feelings of inadequacy, though possibly attempts to remind myself to be humble.

  In studying foreign languages - maybe a lot for an American, but not actually very many, and all VERY rusty - i've not found a single other language that capitalizes the first person singular.
  French, je.  German, ich.  No capitals.  If i remember correctly, Latin even subsumes the pronoun into the verb.
  Anyone got an example, or counterexample to add?
  i used to know more, but they all worked the same way.  No capitals.
  German capitalizes the formal/plural version of the second person pronoun.  We know that one as "you."

  Why is that?  What makes English different?

One of my selections in Stories from the Heartland is an expansion of this blogpost.

Wordless Wednesday: Ball o' Cat

Do I see this the right way?
This is Leapin' Lena  who belonged to MyGuy and me before we had kids, until Boom was about 10.  She looks a bit like Michael, aka Too Handsome.

Scrapbook Magazines Old & New: 4 Quick Thoughts

  i've bought and subscribed to scrapbook magazines since 1997.  Probably 300 have come in, and very few have gone out.
  So, while it's not exactly a New Year's Resolution, i'm looking through them and trying to thin the herd.
  Here are some observations about the magazines over the years:

  1. Magazines before 2000 are mainly of historical value.  And that maybe only to me.
  2. The best ones are about 2000,2001 to 2005 or 2006.  There's a lot of fresh, informative editorial content.  i don't read an article every time i open the magazine, but many of them, i get more from now than when the magazine first came in.  The page ideas have moved beyond "sticker sneeze"and endless shapes & silhouettes to well-conceived designs, but the artists have not yet become enamored with dimensional embellishments.
  3. From 2006 on, the  best reason to get a magazine is to see what your fellow artists are doing, as far as i can see  The photographs are phenomenal, but there's very little to read, and the page ideas aren't as inspiring as earlier issues.  It's mostly photos and captioned how-tos with shout-outs for the jazzy websites.  Most of the captioned how-tos are for party decor, but no games or fun stuff that would make the heart of a party.  What few articles there are, and i mean artcles with any word count to speak of, are rehashes of what i've seen in earlier issues.
  4. That said, if you want to keep up with the latest products, if you are a scrapbook fashionista, you will probably think differently on this than i do.  Likewise if you are of the plugged-in generation and prefer video presentations to pages of thoughtful text, there's no point in looking for someone's garage sale older editions.

Watching Old TV: Four Things to Like About Family Affair

  Recently we've had several different old sitcoms out of the library.
Our 1960s TV
  Flipper was fun, but i didn't really see anything worth talking about in it.
  However, Family Affair seems to transcend a mere sitcom.  There's  a depth to it without being heavy.

  In no particular order, here is hopefully a quick list of four things that make Family Affair exceptional:

Here phishie phishie

sheesh how dumb do phishers think we are?

As dumb as experience proves i guess.
This afternoon i got a threatening email my on my non-gmail account. It claimed to be from the provider of that account.
The email said that as there is "congestion in all Yahoo! Mail user accounts, there shall be a removal exercise of all used and unused Yahoo! Accounts. Yahoo! Inc would be shutting down several accounts", and if i do not want mine to be among them, please click the provided link so that they'll know i'm real.


That is, in the first place, a standard phishing ploy.

Here phishie phishie, come and give me your private information so I can catch you.

If you're skilled at reading "headers," you might find it interesting to click your View tab & see what you find.  That drops a menu.  Here one of the choices will be Headers, with choices of Normal or Full, something like that.  A full header will have tons of gobbedlygook, meaningful to pros and geeks, but if you look carefully anyway, non-intiates might see that a suspect message comes from some unexpected place.  Like a US firm is sending from overseas or unknown origin.

In this case today, i didn't have to open up the header.
My would-be phisher thoughtfully used his gmail account.
If this threatening email were genuine, which it wouldn't be, the sender would have sent from an account of the company threatening to disconnect my service.  (Anyone at Google  or Yahoo want to know more?)

The internet is like a highway.  Stop, look and listen.  The bank account you save may be your own.

You can find many phishing information links online, with advice on how to not be phished.  Just now i found 1,580,000 links by googling "phishing protection".  Here is a Wikipedia description of the technique tried on me.

Tips for the Homework & Organization Impaired, Part 4:

  The article i've been discussing, sort of, has been about helping your autistic kid with homework.  It is actually a good article, with points relevant to folks on and off the spectrum, and i'm only discussing it, sort of, in passing.  
  Point 2 in the author's ten point list is Motivation.  She tells us that motivation plays a larger role than many realize in lack of organizational skills, then lists some conventional motivating factors to point out to kids:
       -  Others will see you as more hard-working.
       -  You will get better grades.
       -   You'll feel better about yourself. 

"This is too hard!"
  At this point she wisely points out that spectrum kids will need sooner success than others might.  This is worthwhile to know, but she overlooks something very important.
  Suppose the kid's reaction is, "Why should I care what someone else thinks about me?  Grades are stupid!  I'm already awesome - what's to feel better about myself?"

  In other words, the motivations offered are extrovert motivations.  These objections are introvert motivations.
  Actually there are simple, logical answers to these objections.  To take them in reverse order, they are:  
  "Of course you're awesome.  Yes, grades are stupid." (Yes, they are.)  "And you care about what someone thinks about you because people who like you are more willing to do what  you want them to and make life less difficult  for you."

  And you'll still need the other Tips and it won't be easy - i'm still struggling with organization, and that makes life harder for Max, since he actually LIKES to have things organized - but it helps to understand something about introvert/extrovert motivation.

  We do think differently.

Tips for the Homework & Organization Impaired, Part 3

  In the past couple   posts, i've been talking about the recent  homework post at The Autism Support Network.
  The author, Michelle Garcia Winner, is a highly qualified professional who is passionate about helping challenged people develop social skills..
  Something i've  noticed about such people, though, is that they tend to forget that not everyone knows the terms.
  Now i'm a fan of big words.  i tend to lose people too.  The thing about big words is they actually say what needs to be said more compactly than small words.
   i needed an entire post to explain about executive function while the original article made it part of one paragraph of three syllable words.
  But a lot of people find the large words scary.  Some need a second run at them, and others just, for whatever reason, will not get them.
  Many of those people are the ones we need to talk to, the ones who most need the three-syllable word information.
  i wonder how many people like my friend came to this article and found themselves roadblocked by the complicated words.  i wonder how many of those people came back to find the really good information in the article.

  i think most of the big-word roadblocks are in that critical first paragraph.  The actual Ten Tips in the second half of the article are pretty straightforward and don't have very many big words, at least not any that won't appear in an average office environment.
  Again, i highly recommend taking a look at the article.  Let me know what you think.
  Tomorrow i will discuss the motivation factor, item #2 in the article, possibly one of the most misunderstood aspects of the problem.

Tips for the Homework & Organization Impaired - Part Two

  Last night i reshared this article from Autism Support Network, but spent so long introducing what i wanted to say, that i couldn't really talk about the article.

  Today i want to discuss one of the jargon terms used in the opening paragraph of the article.  It's a very important one, and, though the author explains it, the term doesn't stick very well.
  Executive Functioning.
  How's that for a mouthful?
  The author uses one paragraph, of mostly three syllable words to define this, buries some excellent examples, before settling into calling it "EF."

  Well, if you take it slowly, it's comprehensible.
  But this is much too important a term for those of us with organization deficiencies to take chances.  Let's take another crack.

  Executive.  Like "executive order," that's getting it done.  What's needed to GET THE JOB DONE?  The CEO (Chief EXECUTIVE Officer) and his highly capable administrative assistant break the job down into its parts and make it happen.
  Functioning.  In a hospital, we talk about the kidneys functioning, the lungs functioning, how well an Alzheimer's patient is functioning.
  How well are the parts working to make the body's work happen?

  Executive Functioning skills.  They're our planning and organizational skills.  And they don't come naturally with intelligence.  Whole different skill set.

Like learning to tie shoes or any other complex activity, managing homework is a skill that can and should be taught.  The tendency, however, is to just toss kids into it, thinking that a few years of practice at spelling out some static tasks ("Write your name at the top of the page.  Pass your papers to the front."  Two static tasks.)  will be enough for everyone to get the idea.

  For some, it is.

Then there's the rest of us.

Tips for the Homework & Organization Impaired - Part One

  i admit it, i have trouble organizing my life.  i'm one of those exasperating people who never had 

to study in school because i just did the homework & got the grades.  And my mom's thoughts at the time were, study was first priority, so i got to read all sorts of stuff just for fun.
 Instead of learning household management skills.
 Or working harder because my classes required it.

All of which is a long-winded way of backing into sharing this cool site, which a friend shared on Facebook.

  She said she'd bookmarked it for future reference, since she knew she needed it & couldn't absorb it at the moment.

HP tower & keyboard; Samsung monitor
Epson Printer
  i wish i could absorb things online. If they're complicated, i find i have to print it out and read it somewhere else.

  Okay, so here's my first tip.  Might not work for the plugged-in generation, but i need paper stuff.  (Note to MyGuy: this could be an argument in favor of an e-reader.  Or not.  Something to take away from the computer table w/o killing trees?)

  So, back to that useful link.  i read my printout today, discussed & it with MyGuy.  The article does have good tips, not only for those on the spectrum, which may or may not include me, but also for those with ADHD, or anyone who's organizationally impaired.  Which definitely DOES include me.

 It also has jargon.  The author explains, but somehow the explanations don't stick.  Tomorrow i'll write more about the actual article and see if i can tease out anything.

about one of the big word terms
about big words in general
about motivation

In it for Life

  Yesterday morning the San Francisco Chronicle carried a sad story.
  Newspapers always carry sad stories.  This one, however, has many similarities to what could be me.
 The mom was about my age.  Her son, a delightful, communication-impaired young adult with autism, was about the age of my son..
  Actually, her son was 22.  He had attended the local autism center "until late last year," which tells me that mandated services (school) likely ended and he had since then been home full time.
  You might want to see the SFC's shocking story at this point.

  How did things come to this point?  i cannot begin to tell you, though i can see it clearly.  It's partly a matter of money, of course.  Who is going to pay for the day services to give mom the chance to be someone other than mom?  The folks at the center said they wished they had known things were so desparate, because they would have helped, but i wonder about that.  Yes, they would have meant well, but there's always this, and there's always that. . . .

  We have ultimately our own load to bear.  If we can communicate the need, if we can make arrangements, though, we might be able to ease the burden of it.

  Is Max a burden?  i hate to think that.  But in a real sense, he is not exactly like you'd expect a 21 year old to be.
   Yesterday we had a Whole Big Deal about what could have been a relatively simple solution to sharing two vehicles among three drivers, just becaue we didn't want to leave Max alone in the house for a half hour.  (The solution involved Grumpy Dad allowing  Heedless Mom to drive his Precious.  The things we do for our kids!)

  At this point, i can say no, Max is not a burden.  i want to never say he is, i want to never feel like the Sunnydale mom.
  But i can understand her clearly.
  And i weep for her,her husband, and her son, who was a happy, loving young man.

Words on Wednesday: The Night Sky, by Maria Sutton

Blogger's Serendipity

  A few weeks ago, i was most astonished to open an email from a stranger.
  Maria Sutton told me she  had read my profile and wondered if i would be interested in reading the book she had written.

  She wrote of several topics i am passionate about: history, particularly family history, and travel.  Included with the tale is a mystery.

  Well, what was not to like?

The Book

  We corresponded more; i gave her our post office box number, and she ordered a copy of her book, The Night Sky: A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back, as a gift for me.
Bavaria, W.Germany, 1976
near Dachau/similar landscape

Searching for Dad

  When the book arrived last Thursday, i was very excited.  It is a real page turner - i had it finished by Friday evening.  i am fascinated by Maria's search for her birth father, and the opportunity to learn of a life very different from what i have known.

  It opens with some of  young Maria's  memories as a DP (displaced person) with her family. In one of the early scenes, we learn that the man she has called her father is in fact her stepfather.

Pages from scrapbook
of my 1976 trip to Dachau
region; please click
to enlarge!

Rethinking History

  We think of the Holocaust as affecting only Jews and those who protected them, but Slavs and others were persecuted also. Maria's mother was a young landowner in Ukraine when World War II began.   As a healthy young woman, she was torn from her dying mother and too-young sisters, to be taken by cattle car to the work camp Dachau.

  Maria tells her tale on two timelines, dextrously moving from her own search for clues to  mother's young life.  Transitions are clearly marked with dated section heads.

Breaking Through the Brick Wall

  Geneaologists are familiar with the term "brick wall," referring to a generation where there seems to be dead end, with no more information to be found.  Maria discovered that her husband's family had lots of information on their heritage to pass on to their sons, but everywhere she turned,  Maria, a skilled federal investigator,  found brick walls in searching for her birth father and her mother's family.

  If the world stayed the same, Maria might never have connected with her family.  However, several things, on a large and small scale, did change.
  As years passed, her mother shared more details about her past life.  This opened more avenues to investigate.
  The Iron Curtain fell.
  Biggest of all was the invention of the internet.

  Brick walls crumbled as Maria turned the internet to her advantage, and, finally, hired a retired KGB agent to track down the remaining unfound family member.

Is this Book for You?

  i find i want to write so much more about this book.  It adds greatly to any study of World War II, personalizing it in the way Anne Frank's or Corrrie tenBoom's or your own grandfather's war story does.
  i join with previous reviewers in recommending it to people interested in Ukrainian and Polish history.
   In addition,  i would recommend it as vital reading for anyone who wants to comment on current immigration issues: notice where these people started, and where they are now.  It's not the focus of the story, but it's there for all to see.
   Global history, family history, travel (yes, Maria traveled a lot to find her family), and a genuine mystery too.
  i would've liked to have seen maps, but we know where Poland, Germany, Ukraine are, right?
  Like i said before, what's not to like?

  Disclosure: Maria gave me this copy - thank you, Maria - but i would've liked it anyway. 
   If i had found it.  And i am VERY glad i did!

Litter to Life, or a Tail of Two Dogs

  i was thinking how early experiences shape us.
  My dog, Puppy, was originally in a large, loving, rowdy family.  But she's not especially assertive.
  She comes to life with the notion that People are Good - Doors are Evil.
  i think she was the last one out a few times and, unnoticed, got hit by the door.
  People, in her world, come in three varieties:
               - Friends/Fans she knows
               - Friends/Fans she doesn't know yet
               -  and What's the Matter with You?
                                         (gotta be you - it can't be Me???)

  Today in PetSmart, the customer behind me had a well--behaved pitbull type dog.  The dog was well-known to the two staffers behind the counter.  The owner shared that his dog had obeyed "down" for him, and the staffers, rejoicing over their pupil's progress,  debated which of the two trainers the dog had done that for first.
  The owner told me that the dog had been rescued from a dogfighting ring.

  i don't remember the rest of the converstation.  It was short and upbeat, circumstances being what they were.  i didn't mention my dog.
  But as i left, i thought how "Lucky" was not only well-behaved (four on the floor at all times!), but totally uninterested in any of us mere humans.
  Maybe because of the prior treatment from humans?

  Hardly profound thoughts today, but i found them vividly illustrated in these two canines.

Saturday Sisters - Esther

In the occasional series ~~~
aI trust in God.  I praise His word.
I trust in God.  I will not be afraid.
What can people do to me?
Psalm 56:4 NIrV
The story of Esther is
a fascinating one.
Doesn't every woman want to be the beautiful heroine who saves the day?

   So many times we read the Bible and, if we think about the time involved at all, think the events took place in the amount of time it takes to read about them.  

    Like in the book of Esther. There was a feast; the king got mad, and so he divorced his wife. 
                  But, now he was lonely.
A man needs a wife.

His advisors prescribed a kingdom-wide search for a royally beautiful girl, a beauty contest whose like had not been seen before, and - bang!

Esther was queen.

    Then next month she saved her people, right?

 Well, not exactly

There was a feast; the king got mad, there was the divorce and beauty contest.
     But Esther had been married over five years when she learned of her people's danger. 
    Her husband had not seen or spoken to her in several months. She wasn't just risking his anger by approaching him. The law granted the king the right to execute her. x
xxWith the loving guidance and truthful conviction, Esther’s relative, Mordecai, spoke the words that resonated in Esther’s heart, prodding her to risk her own life for the life of her people:
And who knows
but that you have come
to royal position for
such a time as this?
Esther 4:14b NIV
And what was Esther’s reply:
. . .And thus I will go
in to the king,
which is not according to the law;
and if I perish, I perish.
                                    Esther 4:16
Be gracious, O God,
for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.
When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You. 
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid. 
What can mere man do to me?
                                                                                  Psalm 56:1,3,4
Esther accepted the risk of the path God had chosen for her and she stepped forward in faith with prayer and fasting and action!
When trouble surrounded me, I cried out to the Eternal;
    He answered me and brought me to a wide, open space.
  The Eternal is with me,
    so I will not be afraid of anything.
    If God is on my side, how can anyone hurt me?
The Eternal is on my side, a champion for my cause;
    so when I look at those who hate me, victory will be in sight.
It is better to put your faith in the Eternal for your security
    than to trust in people.
It is better to put your faith in Him for your security
    than to trust in princes
             Psalm 118:9,10The Voice

He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” 

 so that we confidently say,
The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.
What will man do to me?”
                                 Hebrews 13:5b-6 NASB

In 2012 Purim begins March 8.  In this Purim 2012 Guide, you will learn about a Scripture reading for today, the Saturday (Sabbath) before Purim begins, and a traditional Jewish way to celebrate what God did for the nation of Israel in Esther's time.