Category Archives: Technology


The deadline for renewing our State psychology licenses looms large this week. Husband and I sent in all our papers and fees for renewal a couple of weeks ago.  Imagine Husband’s surprise yesterday when he received two  notifications from “Google ” telling him that he had better renew his license immediately, along with a link to do so.

I am happy to report that Husband didn’t fall for this apparent phishing attempt.  He had already received confirmation from  our Psychology Board office that everything was in order, and that any communication from the Board was directly from the Board, not from Google.  I contacted the Board office to report this scam attempt.

It amazes me how clever scammers are. It also surprises me how easy it is to fool people. Our State Government IT office sends State employees fake emails at work to try to teach us to spot suspicious communications, and a special button to click to report an email as either fake or suspicious.  It is pretty easy to spot them, I think.  Our agency IT guy told me, though, that 50% of the fake emails are actually opened by staff who don’t suspect a thing or are too trusting.  That is a big concern given how devastating it would be to have our system, with all our clients’ confidential information hacked or compromised.

I hope none of my fellow psychologists are duped by these phishers.  It is an anxious time around the renewal period, and anxiety makes it hard to be wise sometimes.

What are your experiences with scammers or hackers?  How do you keep yourself safe?

Spiralize – A Verb Whether We Like It Or Not

I often feel like I own every kitchen toy possible. Then I get another catalog in the mail or see an ad on the internet.  My latest acquisition is a spiralizer.  Dreadful if completely accurate name.

It has 3 different blades so you get 3 different widths of spirals and you can use it on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (zucchini, onion, potato, pears, apples, carrots, beets). Pretty much if you can stick it onto the machine, you can probably makes spirals.  Before I bought it I checked out several books from the library to see what kinds of dishes could be prepared – ended up purchasing two cookbooks as well (and yes, I did get rid of two old cookbooks when the new ones arrived).

Of course, the day I had time to mess with it, I didn’t want to go shopping so I just made up a recipe using ingredients I already had in the house.

Sherrilee’s First Spiralized Chilied Potatoes
1 large yellow onion, spiralized
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and spiralized
2 T. butter
1 can of Chili Beans
1 can of tomatoes w/ chiles
1 pouch of Taco sauce
1 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

Saute onions in butter until translucent in oven-proof skillet. Add potatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes until they get soft.  Add beans, tomatoes, taco sauce and spicing to taste.  Top w/ cheese and heat in 350° F oven for about 15 minutes until cheese gets nice and melty.

YA loved it. Good recipe for a cold, rainy weekend even if I feel badly for participating in “verbing”!

What new verb do you detest?


Fall Back

It’s that time of year again; Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we all (well most of us anyway) in the U.S. get to fall back an hour.

Apparently in all the years that we’ve had DST (starting during World War I and then reinstituted during World War II), no one has been able to do a definite study that proves one way or the other that DST saves energy. It’s a bit of a pain; way too many clocks if you count all the electronics and the clock on the stove is very finicky. Last spring it took me almost 5 minutes to get it changed.

There is one big benefit of DST at our house; we use it as a reminder to change the batteries in our smoke detectors and our carbon monoxide detector. Because of this we know that the batteries are always in good shape.

What are you going to do with your extra hour?  (apologies to Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, USVI, Guam and Samoa)

Promises, Promises

Husband and I are in Minneapolis attending the Association for Play Therapy annual conference.  It is a very well attended conference with typically wonderful workshops. This week we will attend 25 hours of lectures related to all aspects of play therapy, and browse the terrific vendors of  therapeutic toys and supplies.

Today we sat through 6 hours of a lecture that was quite disappointing, and not at all what was represented in the conference prospectus.  The presenter had a very ambitious agenda, and was very knowledgeable,  but wasn’t feeling well, and got off track and was distracted by questions from the audience. There were five objectives listed, and only the first two were addressed by the end of the day.  Husband and I were drawing funny cartoons for each other  by the end of the presentation.

I have higher hopes for tomorrow.  My workshops go from  8:00 am until 6:30pm. Husband gets off easier,  and only goes from Noon until 6:30pm.  I hope we won’t be misled like we were today.

When have you been disappointed by false advertising?

They All Fall Down

I found this on You Tube yesterday – got to it from one of my favorite science blogs.

This is amazing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, it’s not just the work of laying out all the dominoes.  You don’t just come in one morning and start randomly setting up dominoes.  Something of this complexity needs to be mapped out ahead of time and I means seriously mapped out.  You have to know exactly how much space you need, you need to know how much time it takes for domino trails to fall, you need to know how many of each color, you need to know how to set them up so you know what they’ll look like when they fall down… a pretty long list.

But I think one of the most amazing things is that you don’t really get to test this. It took a team of 19 individuals from around the world a week to get it all set up.  There is no test-run.  You pull the first string and then you hold your breath for the 12 minutes it takes.  You really have to have confidence in your abilities to take part in something like this.  I’m not sure I have enough obsession or emotional strength for it!

What feat of engineering do you admire?


Ship Ahoy!

Today’s post comes from  Steve Grooms

When I was a boy the most romantic and impressive form of transportation was the train. I grew up listening to the lonely nighttime screams of passing trains. A kid in my school was so involved with trains that he memorized data on all the train travel in Iowa. You could ask him any kind of question about trains. He’d barely pause before reciting details of train schedules.

I’ve never had that kind of mind. I’m a “big picture” guy, not a detail guy, someone more attuned to forests than to individual trees.

The closest I ever came to developing an esoteric interest was when I fell in love with a hand-carved carousel built a century ago. I was smitten to the point of reading a lot of background knowledge about carousels. It is a topic I can talk about at length. But in the end, I could not work up enough interest to become an expert about all the various makers of carousels in the country. A true lover of carousels would be fascinated by obscure little carousels that just look garish and cheap to me. My deepest affections were for one splendid carousel, not the whole category.

This comes to mind because my daughter is in the early stage of becoming immersed in a new interest for our family: ship watching. My son-in-law grew up in a lovely old home on the US bank of the St. Clair River. The St. Clair is deep enough to host the biggest ships sailing the Great Lakes. The river is, in fact, the only connection between the upper lakes (Superior and Michigan) and lower lakes. Any ship traveling far in the Great Lakes must pass close to John’s home, “close” meaning about a hundred yards. Now that our family lives in Port Huron, Molly has become fascinated with the ships we see here.

The photo heading this column is one I took in late September. The ship is the Federal Seto, a particularly lengthy “saltie.” It is owned by a shipping company based in Montreal. Since I took its portrait the Federal Seto steamed through Lake St. Clair, passed through Lake Erie, and then through Lake Ontario. After running the length of the St. Lawrence Seaway, today the ship has just entered the Atlantic Ocean on its way Rouen, France.

The major distinction between different bulk freighters on the Great Lakes is between “salties” and “lakers.” Salties are shorter than lakers and have higher sides. They move freely from lake to lake but also across oceans. Lakers, many of which are about a thousand feet long, cannot fit in the locks that connect the Atlantic Ocean with the Great Lakes. They work hard but always within the Great Lakes. In addition to being shorter and taller than lakers, salties are younger. The salty water of oceans is extremely corrosive, so salties rarely live longer than 20 years. By contrast, because lakers are not subjected to all that salt they can live many decades, even longer than a century.

Ship watching is popular hobby in this area, and there are many resources. Web sites track the movements of these ships. Many museums educate visitors about the shipping trade. There are books on ship watching, and newsletters. If you want to know the precise location and sailing plans for individual ships, “there is an app” for that. There are, in fact, several apps for smart phones that track these majestic ships at all times.

I was surprised by my daughter’s surge of interest in shipping. She has always had an active mind, but this is the first time she has immersed herself in a topic like this. Molly knows a great deal about Great Lakes ship traffic. She has favorite boats that she tracks with interest. She is highly excited by the fact a new ship being built in Europe will soon join the fleets of freighters already working the Great Lakes, and she will be sure to be on the porch of her mother-in-law’s home the first time it travels the St. Clair River.

Have you ever developed a fascination with an esoteric topic?

Keyboard Kitten

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay.

A day ago, a couple of letters on my keyboard wouldn’t work, so I took it to the Apple Store, a twenty-minute drive. The tech said I’d need a new keyboard and their repairs are backed up, so it could be a week. A week without my laptop would threaten my mental stability, so he offered to call me when the repair backup was down to a day or two. I’d used the little keyboard drop down before, and since only my “o” and “l” weren’t working, I took it home and thought I could just muddle by clicking the missing letter on the drop down until the repair schedule opened up.

I brought it home and suddenly a half dozen letters wouldn’t work, as well as my “.” I rushed back to the Apple Store and they said that I could buy a new laptop, then return it after my keyboard was replaced BUT they’d have to transfer all my data to the “loaner” for it to be useable for me.  I thought, “Wow! I’ll still have a computer while my old one’s being fixed!

I left the old laptop there all night, then went to pick up the new laptop with my data transferred into it. When I got it home, I had the very same problem as I had on my old one. The very same letters wouldn’t work.  I again rushed back to the Apple Store to raise hell. On the way, I got a call from them saying, “Your computer’s fixed”. Huh? Did they get a new keyboard installed already???

When I got there (my 4th round trip), they told me that it was just a minor software issue and not a keyboard problem. I inquired about how this problem arose in the first place. They said that I must have held down the option key too long.

Then, I remembered leaving the kitten’s room, which used to be my bedroom, and coming back to find one of them happily sitting on my keyboard, enjoying the sounds it was making.

The next time my keyboard isn’t working, I’ll just take it in for a brief Genius Bar correction, but my first words will be; “Whatever’s wrong, consider that a cat sat on the keyboard, and take it from there!”

What have you had to tolerate from your animals?