Category Archives: Technology

I Can Spell That Word in 3 Letters

“A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the other one.”
Baltasar Gracian

Baltasar Gracian was a Spanish Jesuit, writer and philosopher who lived in the first half of the 1600s. There are many wonderful quotes by him but when I stumbled across this one yesterday, it made me laugh.

I type A LOT for my job – letters, agendas, rosters, briefing notes, website information – in addition to the day by day routine of emails to suppliers, clients and internal teams.   Over the years I’ve had  trouble typing various words correctly.  Some of these problems with words resolve themselves after a few years but a few of them have been with me for as long as I’ve been doing this:

Deposit
Worldwide
Rolls
Accommodations
Hors d’oeuvres

Unfortunately there aren’t good synonyms for some of my words, at least not that are accepted throughout my industry. Hors d’oeuvres is a good example.  I can’t use “canapes” because that actually means something specific .  “Appetizers” is more work to type and I can’t really go with “morsel”, “tidbit”, “finger food” as these would throw my hotels and supplier for a loop.

That means I have to have work-arounds. For “hors d’oeuvres” I have an auto-fill set up – when I type “hors” and a space, then the computer fills in the rest, spelled correctly every time.  Typing in “accom” will get me to “accommodations”.  I also have an auto-correct so that any time I type “rools”, the computer changes it to “rolls”.  “Deposit” and “Worldwide” I just have to struggle with as they are too similar to other words, so the shortcuts are just as long as slowing down and typing more carefully.

Any words defy spelling for you?

 

My Groupie

When I was in the market for a new car four years ago, I delegated the research to YA. She recognizes car makes and models; she knows all our friends’ and neighbors’ cars.  She is definitely a car person.   I gave her my requirements (hybrid, 4-door, red) and off she went.  Her research came in the form of a chart with the five cars that she had identified as possibilities.  One was axed due to being the wrong color and two were eliminated by their price.

We went and test drove the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. I’d never heard of an Insight before but since I’m definitely NOT a car person, I didn’t think too much about.  I love my Insight but it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t the only one who had never heard of an Insight.  Nobody had ever heard of it.  In four years nobody has ever recognized my car, even car people.

So imagine my surprise today, when a guy coming out of the gym as I was getting out of my car, stopped and said “how do you like your Insight?” He had purchased his Insight in November.  We had a nice talk about the mileage (great), the cost of filling up (teeny) and the blue/green light that tells you whether you are using gas or electricity (mesmerizing).  As I went into the gym and he headed to his Insight I thought “this must be what it feels like to be a car person”?  Then when I came out of the gym I’d forgotten where I parked.  Oh well.

We all have our special areas of interest. Do you have comrades in arms?

The New Pot

Photo Credit: Krystal Kwok on Unsplash

I succumbed. You all probably knew it was inevitable.  I started seeing the new electric pressure cookers about 18 months back and have talked myself into and out of getting one repeatedly in that time.

Last week I got my monthly notice of how many award points I’ve earned at work. Award points can be used for the various merchandise that my company uses as incentives and rewards (we have a massive warehouse).  Except for State Fair tickets and Renaissance Fair passes, I haven’t spent award points on anything else for a couple of years so I have a big build up.  Any resolve I’ve had about not getting more kitchen toys dissolved pretty quickly.  The will-call ticket came to me on Thursday and I went over to the warehouse at noon to pick it up.

I spent an evening looking up cookbooks on the library website but to tide me over, I printed off a bunch of recipes off the internet. Six cookbooks now in transit.  And despite the fact that we didn’t really need a bunch of food prepared, I spent Saturday afternoon in the kitchen.

I did macaroni and cheese , a big pot of Spanish rice (and I mean a BIG pot) and then a really spicy black bean soup. It was easy and fun.  I figure I can probably get rid of my old pressure cooker that has sat unused in the basement for at least 10 years.

What was the last really unnecessary toy/gadget you’ve added to your world?

Virtual Wanderlust

One of the interesting parts of being a writer, advertising my books, and having an active website is tracking from where my website visitors come. Thanks to Google Analytics, I can see (approximately) each visitor’s log-in location. I initially expected most visitors to come from the Owatonna area and Minnesota in general. To a large part, they do live in those areas. But over the last three years, my biggest number of “fans” hailed from someplace called Samara, Samara Oblast in Russia. And this is #1 by a huge margin out of more than 840 locations that have been detected on my website in the last three years.

Samara is a large city (3 million +) southeast of Moscow on the Volga River. Lest you think my books have been translated into Russian and become wildly popular in a town not too far from the NW border of Kazakhstan, the real reason for my seeming popularity is probably something else.

I probably was the target of an intense robo-campaign to hack into my website by a company or an individual who mistakenly thought I had anything of value on my author website like credit card numbers. Fat chance. I don’t handle ANY transactions on my website and don’t intend to! The “Samarians” haven’t checked in with me in the past year or more, which further points to a hacking campaign that was eventually discontinued.

Nevertheless, it got me to haul out my world atlas and start looking up all the strange places where people come from who have checked out chrisnorbury.com for one reason or another. Because I’ve been in love with map reading since I was about four years old, this is a fun diversion for me. I can page through an atlas for hours, noticing towns, states, bodies of water, islands, and mountains that stir my imagination and get me wondering what a trip to that exotic (or not-so-exotic) place would be like.

So I’ve wasted lots of time wondering about other locations that show up on my Google Analytics dashboard: St. Petersburg, Russia; Vienna, Austria; Naples, Italy; Kailua, Hawaii; and Hull, England. All are places in the top 70 locations that have landed on my website over the past three years.

That leads to my question: With what places do you have a strange or unique connection that is not physical OR personal (as in having relatives or friends who live there)?

Zippy the Wonder Car

With a nod to Anna, who started this discussion a couple of days back….

I bought my first car, a Toyota, when I was living in Northfield. I had spent the first winter after leaving school riding my bike out to the Country Kitchen on Highway 19 and didn’t want to do that again.  It was pale blue and got me through several winters before giving up the ghost.  I didn’t name that car; giving a name to a car didn’t even occur to me.

Then I met a woman who called her little car “Zippy the Wonder Car”. To this day I’m not sure why I thought this was so enchanting but I did, so when I purchased my next car (back in the 80s), I decided she should have a name.  She was a Honda Civic and when I discovered that the Italian word for flirt was “civetta”, I was hooked.  I had Civetta for almost 15 years.

I let Child help me name our next car, which made the process a LOT longer. This car was a Saturn Ion and we eventually settled on Ivy.  We usually called her by her whole name – Ivy the Ion.  Not quite as much fun as the Italian word for flirt, but it stuck.

My current car is named Brekke. She’s a Honda Insight and I couldn’t find any “I” names that I really liked.  Brekke is a character from one of my favorite sci fi authors, Anne McCaffrey.  Brekke is one of a few characters on the dragon world of Pern who have the ability to communicate telepathically with ALL dragons, not just her own.  If I were to live on a dragon world, that is an ability I would certainly want.

Have you ever named an inanimate object?

If not, what name would you choose for your current mode of transport?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change

I am sorry to inflict yet another tale of my work place on the Baboons, but this is something big. Tomorrow marks the end of an era where I work. We are transitioning from the computerized medical records system we have used since 1999 to a completely new one. The new one is complex, completely different, and incompatible with the old one, and is still being tweaked and altered as we speak. We go online at midnight tonight.  We were supposed to go online a year ago, but they decided it wasn’t ready. Well, it still isn’t really ready, but it is starting anyway. It will be used by all the human service centers and the State Hospital. It will be the system by which we document all our all our progress notes, evaluations, assessments, billing information–all the records of client services at our agencies.

All our old electronic records are to be transferred to the new system by midnight. It is interesting that none of the private pay insurance information transferred, so the business office folks have had to manually enter all the insurance information for all the open clients.  I wonder what else didn’t transfer. They had a trial run of the system a couple of weeks ago, and the whole system crashed when the hundreds of employees  tried to log on to it.

In 1999, many employees retired so they wouldn’t have to start using an electronic record system. We haven’t had mass retirements, but the anxiety this change is causing is palpable.

Oh, change in the work place can be hard. We are prepared for a wild ride.

What major changes have occurred in the workplace for you in the last 20 years. How do you deal with workplace change? What changes do you worry about for the future?

Attention Span

While I was standing next to my car last week, filling up the tank, I realized that the screen embedded in the fueling station didn’t just have some pop-up ads showing but an actual video stream of a basketball game. TV.

At my gym, there is a speaker OUTSIDE that plays music as you are approaching/departing the building. Equipment like bikes and treadmills all have individual tv screens and for the weight-lifting machine there are big screens hanging from the ceiling.  There is even a TV in the locker room.  In most airports you can’t find a space that doesn’t have something blaring at you. With everyone glued to their phones these days, it seems a waste of electricity.

It made me think that we have become a society with such a limited attention span that we need 24/7 entertainment. There are several folks here at my office who use earbuds all the time – even when they are away from their desks and I often see people walking along, looking like they are talking to themselves, but of course they are on their phones.

In college I had a professor who had memorized all of Paradise Lost by John Milton.  Today he’d have it downloaded to his phone so he could access it whenever he wanted!

What the largest thing you have memorized?