Thursday, August 28, 2008

Old Home Week

For about a year I've been a member of Facebook. It wasn't until recently that I did much with it. I'm also on other social networking sites such as for all your past school chums, and Stumble Upon which is for social web surfing.

A couple of days ago an old friend from high school, Mike, sent me a note through Facebook and is now added to my friends. He has a MySpace page so that link has been added to my list of friends on the sidebar. Check his place out if you have the time. I found his writing interesting and moving.

Then I went over to get updates on my nephew's Facebook page and discovered that my niece recently joined. Now she and I are connected as friends. Wow, life changes fast doesn't it?

If that wasn't enough connecting, the prayer group I joined when I worked at Kruger sent out an "its a new semester" email. I popped back a note telling them how glad I was to see them in my inbox again. The group owner, Bob, emailed back. He's the choir director at Kruger and does a wonderful job teaching middle schoolers how to do outstanding vocal work. Turns out he blogs too so I've added that to my friends list also. You may notice it's titled in Spanish. He also teaches that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Newsy Bits

Church of Reconciliation Episcopal, my church for the past 6 years, is having their 40th birthday party in December. We held the organizational planning meeting yesterday. I'm on the liturgy committee. Celebrations will last almost a week and there's an air of excitement all around.

My poor kitties who've been fighting off flees, Hyram more so than Hooboo, are seeing the Vet on Wednesday morning. Before then I've got to get Hooboo his own carry case. He's smaller than Hyram so I guess it can be smaller than his.

There's a scoring job at Pearson lasting 2 weeks in September. I'm signed up for it and get trained for a half day tomorrow. Productive activity! Yay!

Last night I finished reading "The Joys of Love" by Madeleine L'Engle. It's a pretty good coming of age story. Overall the feel was less complicated than her other fictional writings. The writing seemed more straight forward and the ending while adequate was almost, but not quite, abrupt. I wonder why she didn't publish it. From what I read about it's publishing, it was kept by her for a long time and her granddaughters are responsible for its being published now. If you'd like to visit her website go here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scrabble Online or How to Survive Without TV

Sandi and I are playing Scrabble online. This is FUN! We're using the Scrabulous website and playing by email. If the two games we've played are any indication, we are pretty evenly matched. But I gotta tell you, I really worked hard for my win!

Playing Scrabulous is free, easy, and addictive. Sandi and I played the first game slow, over a couple of days. The next one we pretty much sat by our computers waiting for the emails to come in. Being the antsy sort, I kept clicking on "refresh screen" to learn her next move. The only equipment I'll need, besides my computer and the internet, is possibly a Scrabble Dictionary. Merriam Webster is on my computer but I don't think that is considered official. It helps though. When Sandi spelled "xi" I had to look it up. That's when I learned you could use the spellings of Greek letters in play. Amazing! It's been years since I last played and we were pretty simple with the rules then, no proper nouns or foreign words. That was about it. Guess I need to reacquaint myself with the rules.

Sandi being good at this isn't surprising. Looking online for the above image, it's from Wikipedia, I learned that most of Britain is in love with the game. She probably played every other day when she lived there. Another thing I learned was that scrabble is available for cell phones. That sounds like fun!

Scrabble is helping me deal with not having a TV. Mine died Friday. I'm not ready to invest in a new one yet. So I'm looking for things to do to fill in the hours I used to spend watching "So You Think You Can Dance?" and "Numb3rs." This is doable. I've got a friend who only recently got satellite to watch. Before that she and her husband did other things. They did have a TV, but, not liking the selection of available shows...or the ads that go with them, they watched DVDs of series they'd heard good things about instead. The summer we landed on the moon my family went on a month long camping vacation. I survived that with no TV and I can survive this.

There are blessings to be had from going TV-less. They are electricity hogs. Yesterday I unplugged it, along with the DVD player, the digital converter, and the powered antenna. That should cut con$umption a bit. The activities I hope to fill the time with will, I think, make my life richer and more productive. I'll read more, listen to music, and practice my guitar. Maybe I'll get some yarn and try crocheting or knitting. I might even go outside for an evening walk. Cooking, cleaning, playing with GIMP and the photos I've taken, there's lots I can do. One thing I'd really like is to find myself spending more time with people. So I think I'll try to make one or two of the evening events at church.

Peace! Hope! & Joy! And with that Peace some Quiet!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Tea Taste Test (Can you say that 5 times real fast?)

Tea Embassy in Austin, TX had a page on rooibos (red bush) tea and its health benefits (If interested you'll need to scroll to the bottom to read all of it). Rooibos tea is an herbal tisane made from the red bush which grows in South Africa. They said it's becoming popular in the US. It's on the fair trade list, so if I bought one with the fair trade stamp I would be making a contribution to the economic welfare of another country. The page spoke authoritatively and persuasively, so I decided to try some.

There were several brands in the grocery store I went to (Sun Harvest), including one that was both organic and fair trade. That brand was the most expensive costing almost $6 USD for 15 teabags. Rooibos seems to come blended with stuff a lot, and in two different colors. There were both red and green varieties. Sun Harvest didn't have many blends, although Tea Embassy's web page has quite a few. One I did see was rooibos mixed with honeybush. Numi had a plain variety, and I wanted to know if I liked the basic herb, so that's what I bought. Numi's packaging attributed an "earthy vanilla" flavor to it. Tea Embassy said the tea was slightly sweet.

Well, I've just had my first cup and.....hmmm. Took a whiff and it smells like Camphor. A very tentative first sip didn't taste sweet, but, as had been promised, with its low tannin content it didn't taste bitter either. It tasted better than it smelled. Next I sweetened it and that was an improvement. What I got was a kind of minty vanilla taste. That's not bad, the mint was a surprise though, no mention of it on the box. There is a hint of earthiness that's hard to describe. Its a faint darkness that sits on your tongue, a little heavier than smoke but too light to be substance. Rooibos wasn't an instant hit, but it's intriguing and it's growing on me. Halfway through the cup I found I liked it better cooled.

If you've got experience with this tea and any of the variety of blends I'd like to hear your take on it. Which is the best blend? Should I have gotten the green variety?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Minor Manipulations

If you look to the right you'll find that I've turned the player off and changed it's color. I think the new color is less "in my face". Hope others like that too.

The reason I turned the thing off was that it was getting in the way of other functions on my computer. It slowed my dsl way down. It's a constant source of music/noise. The player uses Java which doesn't seem to like having multiple applets running at the same time. Add a mail browser to that and things get even worse. It took 10 minutes to check my email this morning. To load the daily jigsaw puzzle required closing two tabs. If performance doesn't improve the thing goes. Does anyone know if there are some Java settings I can adjust to make things work better?

My PC is very knowledgeable about computers and software. He suggested some free photo manipulation software, GIMP, that is open source and works on multiple platforms. I installed it today and tried out a few of the filters. There are tutorials and books showing how to use all the features it has. Those will come in handy as I'm finding myself in need of a digital terms dictionary.

And while I'm thinking about it, it's raining here today. The lovely soft pitter pat of raindrops hitting on surfaces and the smell of damp. Totally peaceful!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My All Time Favorite Music Video

Where's the screen? Sorry, I couldn't embed this one. It's the real thing and YouTube cooperated with the publishing company.

Way back in the 1990 I started taking ballroom dance lessons. I was so excited about getting good at all kinds of dancing. I was exploring all kinds of music and MTV was the big thing in music TV. This video was the first music video I ever recorded. It's Paula Abdul when she was much younger and a cute cartoon sidekick dancing across the screen to Opposites Attract. If you want to watch my all time favorite music/dance video you can see it here. Enjoy!

Fun Puzzle Share

Click to Mix and Solve
Some jigsaw puzzles seem easier to work than others. Perhaps that's because getting clues from the broken up visual perspective can be easy or hard depending on how your particular visual logic structure works. This puzzle was just plain fun to do! Easy? You bet! Enjoy!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Eco-friendly and Economical

From Yahoo Green, the Huddler's Green Home blog presented me with ways to cook green. I was pleased to find I already use one of the most eco-friendly methods of boiling water for my tea, the microwave. However, things can almost always be improved So, based on their suggestion, I'm going to try to find a short power strip chord that has a switch so that I can turn it off without getting down on my knees and reaching behind the bakers rack it sits on. I think I'll start unplugging the coffee maker too. Who needs three clocks in the kitchen?

The article is a wealth of information on earth friendly and cost saving options, as is the entire Yahoo Green site. Below is the snippet about power and the microwave. If you're interested in going green and/or saving money I encourage you to visit via the links provided.

  • Your most environmentally friendly cooking option- the microwave. Microwaves use between one-fifth and one-half as much energy as conventional stoves. If you have a countertop unit (rather than a wall mounted unit), consider unplugging between uses to save on vampire power.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More Tunes

Went tune sleuthing again today. Sleuthing because, for all that I love music, I'm horrible with names of songs or artists and usually just remember the lyrics. While typing in various memories of single key words, hoping against hope that it would get me a clue, I kept wondering if I was trying to redo a certain decade. But as much as there seem to be 60's numbers in the list, there are also 70's 80's and 50's. And I think I covered most of them with the 5 songs that joined the playlist today.

Going way back to the TV variety shows, I found Mr. Sandman performed by Glen Miller and his Orchestra accompanied by the Andrew Sisters. I've got an album with Miller's greatest hits. Awesome dance tunes. Having found that I thought it'd be fun to put up some really old hits from the Lucky Strike Hit Parade albums. Alas, it wasn't to be. Try as I might I simply couldn't find Jambalaya (On the Bayou), at least not by the artist on the album and after you've heard that one you're spoiled to the rest. Bummer, there are at least two friends who'd have loved that one. I also tried for The Lady in Red. Nope! Not to be found in a version that was before the 80's. Would you believe I have actual vinyl albums of those songs? No turntable though.

Next I found Longer by Dan Fogelburg. That song hung in the charts for a really long time. It was just SO romantic. I even learned how to play it on the guitar. Then I found Stray Cats Strut by Stray Cats. If I ever had an album of those guys I wore that song out. There's some real sway to the chorus. Have I mentioned that I like songs that make me want to move? (G)

In 1968 the rock opera Hair came out. At 16 my mother thought it was too racy for my innocent eyes. But it turned out to be so popular that I learned most of the songs. I've still got original sheet music to the title song. It's performed by the Cowsills if you haven't heard it before. If memory works, 3 musical operas came out during those years. The other two were Jesus Christ Superstar, which I did see, and Godspell, which I didn't but also had an album. The best songs from those two, at least in my opinion, weren't the title songs. And what they did to JC Superstar in that movie is a crime beyond punishment.

Having gotten back to the era of the Beatles one of their songs had to go on the list. Nowhere Man has always been one of my favorites. The summer I was 17 I hand wrote lyrics and chords to it. I think my dad has a photo of my sister and me playing our guitars the second summer we went backpacking. So there you go. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

For Paschal

With a single paragraph my good friend Paschal, over at Murat11, pointed me towards a writer who is as fascinating as the stories she writes and as imaginative as the words she uses. Muchas gracias, mi amigo!

And for my friends who also write, JS, Alt, Sandi, San, David, Jeni, Susan, and the list could go on and on, "Please sit for awhile and listen to this fascinating story read by its author, Aimee Bender, and take note of anything she says that you might find helpful."

As JS commented on the Randy Pausch lecture, I watched the whole thing, takes about 50 minutes. Worth it!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

New Songs Added - Sixteen Tons

Three new numbers got added to the playlist today. While looking for On a Clear Day, I found The Summer Knows by Streisand. That's a pretty seductive number. Among the list of different versions was a duet of her and Michael Crawford singing Music of the Night. It was good but I wanted the original London cast recording. That's one awesome piece of vocal music. I also wanted something really old, so I went looking for Tennessee Ernie Ford and found him singing Sixteen Tons.

That one takes me back to my very early childhood. Our family has a home movie of my younger cousin Annie Laurie singing the chorus to Sixteen Tons. Imagine, a little blond girl with a milk weed in her hand singing "ooh ooh ooh muscle and blood." She couldn't have been more than 4 at the time. When I was taking a US history class at college a couple of years ago I learned why the song was sung. What it describes are the atrocious living conditions of miners who were literally bound by debt to the company that they worked for. The company paid for everything, even their preachers. So what do you think the preachers preached about? Company loyalty of course. The business practices the mine owners followed hasn't been an uncommon throughout history. I think I remember something related to geisha training being similar. But it worries me that in some places people might still be living like that despite improved labor laws. I found the first video easily enough but this second one took me back. What it shows is what the song was talking about. Hope you've got time to watch them both.

That's quite a difference isn't it? :-|

On a Clear Day

"What song brings you the best memories?" was David's question for today's Weekend Wandering. I couldn't have told you until I read the responses already posted. Retired and Crazy sent us to listen to "I Can See Clearly Now" and that reminded me of how much a Barbra Streisand movie had caught my imagination. Way back in 1970 I fell in love with "On a Clear Day". That movie was so exciting! It took me through a lot of different mindsets. I was young, just into college, and kind of identified with Daisy Gamble (lead female role). It appealed to my love of history, of the dramatic (Melinda Tentrees was certainly that!), and a curiosity about psychic phenomena. It was also funny, romantic, wonderfully musical, and inspiring. Best of all, it opened me up to dreams of being more than I thought I was.

When looking for a video, I couldn't find a decent clip from the movie. That's okay, I like this one, from Barbara's 1994 concert, better. She took the time to talk about the meaning behind the song. That appeals to me. What she thinks about it also fits with what I've been learning about life and happiness these past few years. So you won't see Barbara in that cute orange dress and white hat running through the gardens. Instead you'll see the mature, happier, and wiser woman she has grown to be. Which is wonderful, even if (as she said) it took her many hours on a sofa and a ton of money to get there. :) Guess which movie just moved to the top of my shopping list?


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Moments Close to Christ

Every couple of weeks I get together with 3 other women to have our Cursillo Reunion Group meeting. We are a close bunch and I love all of them for their strengths and and their differences. But mostly I love them for the way they love me. This is my first ever women's group and I wonder how I ever grew up without one.

When we do a reunion we share our spiritual lives according to a formula. We remember the things we do to worship God. We discuss books we are reading and how they help us learn to be closer to God. Sometimes we are studying something other than printed words. I study people and the way we all interact a lot. We mention and pray about people and what we hope to be able to do as God's representatives on earth. And we talk about when we've felt closest to Christ.

Friday was our reunion meeting. I brought my guitar and played a song. We talked about loss, which tied into the last session where we first discussed it. Then we went through our sharing ritual. We open with prayer holding hands. This time it was kind of funny. We were stretching our arms across two tables to hold hands to pray. Our shortest member was up on her feet to stretch across that distance. We teased her about that.

When it got to my moment closest to Christ and study I was on a roll. My friends both in church and here in blogland have given me several moments closest to Christ. Paschal and Sandi have both brought me God's love this week. I feel so blessed by them that it tickles me pink.

In an earlier post I asked a career oriented question and got an answer that had so many affirmations of my skills that I was overwhelmed by joy. Paschal waved his magic wand and made me aware that I had talent in both creative and informational writing, photography, and design. Wow! I'd never thought of the memories I share as creative writing. Then I remembered that story telling is an art. :) The idea of design had never even entered my head. Blogging is just something I do. Wow! Am I going to follow his advice? You bet!

Four days ago I put up a playlist and had fun writing about it. Putting it together was the best part. I love doing technology stuff. The next day Paschal put one up! His is really cool! And Sandi asked for help to do hers. So I sent her the directions and she put an awesome one up. Then she went and posted my directions. I'd been concerned that her feelings might be hurt because some folk didn't like music on blogs. I needn't have feared. My friend Sandi is stronger than that. Then I was sitting there and thinking about how they had done it right after, and possibly because of, me. Gee whiz, guys! I was never a leader as a child. And now I have friends who seem to be delightedly following my example. What greater compliment can you give someone than that?

This is such a blessing that it still brings tears to my eyes. So to my two moments closest to this past week I want to say, "Thank You! Paschal and Sandi, you have brought a lot of love into my life this week. I'll be eternally grateful for the kindness your actions and the love you have shown me. God bless you both!"