Category Archives: Media

Stamping

Big warehouse stores don’t do it for me.  While I have a huge house, I’ve never found it convenient to buy massive quantities to keep the price a bit down.  (With the exception of toilet paper, of course.)

However there is one thing that I use a lot of: postage stamps.  Most months I send out 10-12 birthday cards and then there are the anniversary cards, get well cards, sympathy cards, thank you cards and then all the other things that I feel the need to note. At least one card a month goes overseas. 

So when I noticed a news story about postage going up (it increased yesterday), I thought maybe stamps was one thing I would load up on.  Apparently I’m not the only one to think this…. a couple of the stamps that I like were out of stock at my local post office.  So I chose some others and then came home and ordered a bunch more online.  I figure I won’t have to buy stamps until August!

What do you never like to run out of?

How Cozy

Normally I don’t pick up the BookPage supplement that the library sets out every month.  More ideas about what to read are NOT necessary in my life.  I have lists and lists.  People suggest books to me all the time.  This isn’t a problem, it just means I don’t need to go looking. 

Last week, while the kitchen project was happening, I spend all day every day sitting on the sofa, so that I could be available if needed.  I wrote blogs for the trail, looked at Facebook, read a lot.  When I picked up a couple of books from the library, I grabbed not just the regular supplement but also a “Looking Forward to 2023” special edition as well.  Seemed like a good project for a week of sofa-surfing.

It was surprising to come across a page devoted to “Cozy Mysteries”.  Believe it or not, I have never heard this phrase before, although in reading through the blurbs, I knew immediately what they were talking about. Protagonist (99.9% women), mostly small town settings, a murder that only the protagonist can solve. I spent over a year reading tons and tons of cozy mysteries; I couldn’t get enough.  I’m not sure what was driving this but after about a year, the desire to read more of them simply vanished.  But I never realized that these stories had garnered a genre all to themselves.

When I was in the bookstore, it was pretty straightforward.  Fiction, nonfiction, children’s.  Fiction was split into fiction, science fiction, romance and mystery.  Non-fiction was historical, self-help, cooking, biography/memoir.

Now we have debut fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, mystery, cozy mystery, horror, thriller, literary fiction (this one slays me), young adult, graphic novels, biography, autobiography, memoir, true crime.  I could actually keep going but….

I guess all this micro-categorization can be helpful to folks when they are looking for something to read but since I tend to read across a lot of genres, it doesn’t matter so much to me.  I do still read an occasional cozy mystery; I can’t stay away from Susan Wittig Albert.  Knowing that this kind of work now has a name of its own name seems charming.

Anything in your life that you like to micro-manage?

Odd Couples

Husband drives to Bismarck for work every Tuesday night, and returns home Wednesday night. He is usually pretty tired on both drives, and cranks up music on the radio to keep himself awake.

The other night he listened to the Sinatra station, and heard what he thought was one of the oddest duets he ever heard. It featured Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin singing What Now, My Love.

I have to agree with husband that this is quite weird. I can’t imagine what possessed the Queen of Soul to sing that with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Their styles are so different and not really compatible. Sort of like Ozzy Osbourne singing gospel music with Amy Grant.

What music keeps you awake when you drive? What are your favorite duets? What are some duets you wouldn’t want to hear?

Favorite Words

I look up lots of recipes on-line, and I somehow got signed up for the free delivery, multiple times a day, of recipes from a German-based Instagram site that sends me baking recipes. The recipes show up in German, and then are translated into English when I click on them to read them. The site is called Einfach Backen, which means Easy Baking.

I love the German descriptions of the recipes. One yesterday was:

Kirschpfannkuchen-Wie bei Oma. Soo fluffing & aromatisch!

I think that means cherry pancake just like grandma used to make, light and tasty. I don’t speak German, but some of the words are easy to figure out. I have never made any of the recipes. I just like trying to figure out what they are before they are translated into English.

The other day, one of the recipes was described as being blitzschnell, which I take to mean lightening fast to prepare. I just love that word! Our terrier is very blitzschnell, Husband less so. He is amused when I say “Mach Blitzschnell!!” when I want him to speed it up. I love it!

What are some of your favorite non-English words? What are your favorite English words or phrases? Learn any new words lately!

Soak It In

I am a Neil deGrasse Tyson buff.  I’ve read several of his books, follow his current podcast (Star Talk) and own a t-shirt with a NdGT quote and a bracelet that I saw on his website of the planets in order.  (I actually made my own bracelet based on his design and I added Pluto – he may be smart, but Pluto will always be one of my planets!)

One of the things that I admire most is his ability to take difficult concepts and to distill them down so that most of us can understand them.  I was re-listening to his description of how the tides actually work/exist and wondered what it would be like to take a class from him (an entry-level class of course – I’ve encountered some of his work that is NOT distilled down and it is way over my head).

My favorite classes in college were always lectures.  I don’t need any small discussion groups or multi-student projects – just let me sit in the presence of great professors while I soak up their knowledge.  Between Carleton and Metro State I took five Shakespeare courses from two different professors – fabulous.  There was a spellbinding Chinese Middle Kingdom class and the professor who taught my King Arthur in English and American Literature (yes, a real class for which I got credit) held my attention like no other.

But based on YA’s master’s program experience, the current trend in education is all about self-teaching, small group projects and collaboration (I detest this word).  Her description of every single class she took for her MBA made my skin crawl, so I guess I probably won’t be going back to school in my retirement.  I’ll have to remain self-taught in the areas that appeal to me.  I’m still doing my online Italian class; I’m almost at 900 days straight.  I’m still working my way through biographies of the English monarchs as well as the American presidents.  Banned books are high on my list of interests as well as reading on Black Lives Matter.  Science is also a love of mine although I would say I have a broad science curiosity  as opposed to a deep curiosity. 

If I were to take any classes, my first choice would be anything taught by Tyson; it’s possible he could do wonders from my understanding of physics.  Add a course covering the history plays of Shakespeare.  I’d like an economics class that specializes in the real world and does not discuss guns or butter.  Literature courses of just about any kind.  No math (I got through trigonometry by the skin of my teeth) and no classes where anything has to be cut up!  

What were your favorite and least favorite classes in school?   

Crop Art Budgers

One of the things that Steve and I had in common was our love of crop art.  I’m not dissin’ other kinds of art, but crop art is just amazing.  Seeing how crop artists can blend grains and seeds to make beautiful works wows me every year.

Normally I visit the crop art on one of my alone days at the Fair but this year YA consented to go with me.  For those of you who haven’t seen the crop art at the Minnesota State Fair, the exhibit is along the far wall of the farm crop room in the Agriculture building.  Because everyone likes to look at every piece of art on the wall and table, there is almost always a line.  If you squeeze through, you can stand behind everyone else as they peruse the art.  Unfortunately most of the folks who squeeze through then push their way to the front which makes the wait for those in line even longer.  Why people will stand in line politely (more or less) for a slice of pickle pizza or a pronto pup, but they can’t bring themselves to wait for crop art, I don’t know.  Maybe if we called is crop art on a stick…

I’ve waited in line every year and experienced this phenomena over and over again.  I don’t like it, but I can’t see that it’s something I can fix.  YA had no such compunction.  When she noticed people trying to bypass the line, she stepped next to me (instead of in front of me), blocking the bypass.  Then she turned her back to the oncoming traffic  – two folks actually tried to get around her – she was immovable.  I was considering that she was taking Minnesota passive/aggressive to new heights when she said, in a voice just loud enough “crop art budgers”.   I think she may have just taken the title “Queen of Passive/Aggressive” from my mom!  From now on whenever I see somebody cut in line, I’ll be thinking “crop art budger”!

Anyway, the header photo is a red ribbon winner this year but I know that Steve would think the same as I do… it’s a blue ribbon winner in our eyes.

Did you ever glue macaroni to construction paper as a kid?

Henry?

I like to read the historical events that happened on particular days, and one of today’s I found very silly indeed.

On this day in 1889, the Second International Electrical Congress adopted the joule as a unit of energy, after James Joule, the watt as a unit of power, after James Watt, and the quadrant as a unit of electrical inductance. Inductance is the tendency of an electrical conductor to oppose a change in the electric current flowing through it. The flow of electric current creates a magnetic field around the conductor.  What I found so silly is that the name “quadrant” was later changed to henry. The henry (symbolized H) is the Standard International unit of inductance . One henry is the equivalent of one kilogram meter squared per second squared per ampere squared (kg m 2 s -2 A -2 ).

Henry? Why not Flora or Sylvester? This got me started renaming things. “Yep, husband drove 90 Biancas to Bismarck last night. ” Or “I lost 10 Elliots with my new diet.”

Come up with some silly names for units of measurement.

Drilling

Based on my junk mail the last few months, I should now be the proud winner of at least 300 Makita Drills.  I don’t open these junk emails but I do see the subject lines and the first few words of the messages; there are at least 2 a day.  Occasionally it’s another kind of drill or a barbeque grill but for some reason the Makita just keeps showing up.  If other folks are getting all these emails, then Makita would be bankrupt from all the giveaways.

I was thinking that if I actually accepted all these drills, I could open a drill store of my own and make a small killing.  If my junk emails are any indication, I could probably get a cheap storefront for my new business at Camp LeJeune!

What would you like to win this week?

The Old Stuff

As I’m counting down my last days at work, I’ve tackled a few projects that have to be put to bed before I’m gone.

One of these projects is, as I refer to it, “the old stuff”.  At my company, we back up our systems every night but GETTING to that information, if you need it, is cumbersome at best and impossible at worst.  You’d be surprised how often you might want to access information from an old program so about 25 years ago, we (or more accurately, I) started downloading our programs onto floppy disk.  You remember those, right?

Then after a few years, as we were changing technology, as I did the annual download, I started downloading to diskette.

You know where this is going… we eventually moved to CDs.  This annual download was accompanied by an updated spreadsheet of what programs were on which CD as well as name of client, location, date, etc.   I was the keeper of the spreadsheet but we had paper copies sorted by either client or location, since those were the two most needed search criteria.

Fast forward through another technology change (which meant you had to use a portable CD reader to use the CDs), a fire in our building (which destroyed the paper files), pandemic (during which nobody was in the building to get to the CDs), data migration to a cloud based system during my furlough (which despite assurances to the contrary, caused the loss of about half my desktop files, including the spreadsheet).   

Bottom line is that for the past 18 months, I’ve had two boxes full of unusable CDs under my desk.  Nobody has asked about them since I got back from furlough.  Even if they did, without the spreadsheet, finding any data would be nie on impossible.  And nobody knows where the portable reader is anyway.   Rather than asking any more about it, I just informed my boss last week that I was dumping them.  Luckily we have CD/DVD recycling at my company AND I personally have a use for the plastic cases that many of them were stored in.  Took me about an hour to separate the CDs from the cases and/or sleeves (header photo).  Broke two fingernails.  And all the while I was thinking about how the technology changed to the point where the data was lost to us.   

And it’s changing fast; YA doesn’t even know what a floppy disk is!

What bit of technology would you not like to do without? 

I Missed It

Boris Johnson resigned?  When the heck did that happen?

I know I’m not thrilled reading the news these days but I do check in every few days.  Yesterday I saw a couple of things on Facebook that drove me to CNN.  Lots of news about the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assassination but nothing about Boris.  So I thought I’d check out BBC.com.  Absolutely nothing.  Thinking it was a fool’s errand, I just typed “Boris Johnson” into Google and finally found the news.  Seems as if four days later, it isn’t a headline any longer.  Like you shouldn’t blink or you’ll miss big chunks of what’s happening in the world.

The year after I graduated from high school, I spent 8 weeks living with a family in Mexico (their 2 daughters had spent the summer with us the year before).  Back then – yes, when dinosaurs roamed the planet – no BBC.com, no CNN.com, no streaming.  Just the daily newspaper, which in that corner of Mexico really did not carry any international news at all.  I felt a little cut off from the rest of the world while I was there – I’m assuming it’s how those bio-dome folks must have felt.

I came home from Mexico on a bus through Nogales to Albuquerque – stayed in a hotel one night and then flew home the next day.  That morning in Albuquerque I took a long walk and before returning to the hotel, I stopped at the corner drugstore and bought copies of several news magazines (Time, US News & World Report, Newsweek, even the Atlantic Monthly).

Apparently while I was in Mexico, there was a problem between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.  Despite having the top news magazines of the day in my hands, I couldn’t really figure out what had happened.  If you don’t read the first news stories, it’s hard to “catch up”.  To this day, I’m not really 100% sure exactly how it all played out although I know that Cyprus is divided by a Green Line with the Greeks in the south and the Turkish in the north. 

I’m a little worried that this is how it will be for me and Boris Johnson.  I’ve found a few op eds and I THINK I’ve got it down, but am still a little surprised at how fast the story came and then went!

Anything gone missing in your world this week?