Friday, July 29, 2011

Catching up

Had lunch with two long-lost friends this week -- actually wanted to type "old" friends but I am older than they. Both were from my days working for the #3 Telecom Company, a job I thoroughly enjoyed.

Wednesday's lunch was with a manager at the company and we had worked in adjacent cubicles. Smart, funny -- and one of the few white men I actually do kind of like . . . probably because he doesn't try to be anything other than a true "white man." Though he's definitely the type who has always believed he was destined to "rule" -- he also is smart enough to know that other folks can ride along side him and he's very open minded about life's issues. I enjoyed working with him greatly -- and also enjoyed getting to know him on a personal level. Luckily for me, he persisted in the friendship, even long after I left the #3 Telecom and through his efforts we remained in touch.

I'm a horrible friend once I don't see folks regularly. I get home and I just veg out. I don't call, I don't write, and I make excuses not to leave my little den to meet and catch up. My intentions are always good -- but then old friends find I'm not communicating and often they give up on me. However, I have a couple of folks who persist -- and Robert has been one of those.

On Thursday I had lunch with my old boss at the #3. She's a woman I truly enjoy and respect -- and the best boss I ever had on both a personal and professional level. I learned so much from my years working for and with her. Smart as a whip, she never lorded her intelligence over her employees. She was a caring person, decent, honest, and very perceptive both in the business world and with her friends and co-workers. She now lives several states over from ours but when she comes in town to visit family, she tries her best to stay in touch with old friends. I appreciate her efforts enormously. She remembers birthdays and has in the past sent on little presents that she was sure I'd like. I wish that she still lived in town.

Thursday was also Hubby's and my 33 wedding anniversary -- 38 years together. I sent Hubby a note on Facebook -- so he remembered -- and got us a cake from the French bakers in town. It was too hot to celebrate more than that. Plus I think we gave each other new spectacles as our present. Even with insurance those glasses cost a fortune.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Now isn't this just the prettiest little grouping of charts you ever did see?

Department Course Course Title Grade Hours

P & Misc
This Semester 0.00 6.00 6.00 24.00 4.0000
Cumulative 0.00 33.00 33.00 132.00 4.0000

I am proud!

See that grade point average in the second chart? 4.0. Only A's for 33 hours of work!

Going to go have a slice of watermelon to silly-brate!

PS -- just called the district office and sent off the E-mail forms for my official transcript -- at 30+ beyond my masters makes for a nice little salary boost as of 9/15. Every added incentive for working through this year does help.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Technology Installed

The title pretty much says it all. The TV has been connected to HD Dish satellite. Everything works. It only took three hours to get all installed.

We needed an HD satellite installed in the yard. Then the tech installed the HD receiver in the house and downloaded everything. But when I asked if any of my DVR recordings could be salvaged, he looked askance and said, "Oh. Did you want a DVR HD receiver?"

I went into my dance. No DVR, no Dish network. Take it all away. But the tech was young and sweet and said he had one in his truck and would contact "headquarters and get the new receiver installed pronto."

Of course, it wasn't pronto. I had to confirm with the home office. Then he actually didn't have a DVR HD receiver and had to go 15 miles away to get one. But eventually all was right in our TV world. And I got my dream of being able to record more than one show at a time.

The new TV is sweet. The newer DVR technology is exactly what I had been hoping for -- and instead of only 100 hours of DVR recordings, I can now save 350 hours. I'm still re-establishing all my timers but by weeks end things should be about back to normal.

We actually didn't need any connectors from the TV to Dish -- they provided everything for us (the $40 of cable can now go back to Sam's). My fees are going up by $6 a month -- and we're locked into Dish for another 24 months -- but I'm happy with the set-up and actually think the new technology is probably worth a tad more money. Hubby is happy with the new TV. We like the High Definition technology -- the picture really is a lot better and on the wide screen, the movie channels look really good. It's almost like being in a theater but we're laying around in bed with the dogs at our feet. We were stunned by pictures of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Installation fees and new equipment fees were nil for Dish and the tech was friendly and helpful. He even stood around showing me all the bells and whistles on the new remote. All of which I have promptly forgotten.

Especially for my sister-in-law

Have I told anyone lately that I love my Kindle?

I LOVE my Kindle!

Amazon is having a sale on Kindle books this week (until July 27th actually) and none are priced over $5.00. The ones I bought were $0.99 and $1.99 -- okay, I splurged and got one (only one, I promise) for $2.99.

The assortment is amazing. So amazing that I had to coordinate my Kindle with the computer. I'd read about all the hundreds of books on the computer and then order them from the Kindle.

In all I bought (around) 18 new books for my Kindle. Among the assortment:

  • Trader Joe's Cookbook -- I've already read 10% of it and I'm in love; KC just got its first Trader Joe's and the assortment of healthy, low sodium, no additive food is simply astonishing. And then there's the low, low prices! Now I can even cook creatively with their wares.
  • Cafe Luke's -- assorted essays on the Gilmore Girls. I adored the Gilmore Girl series. I own five of the seven DVD seasons and I've re-watched them on the Hallmark Channel.
  • 2 short books purporting to tell strange and odd facts about the Revolutionary War and WWI -- both of which topics I have collaborated on in my social studies classes
  • the autobiography of Chuck Norris -- Hubby ADORES Chuck Norris; I might as well read up on him and the Amazon review sounded interesting
  • a whole heap of cozy mysteries -- just the odd title here and there so I could sample new series
  • some interesting novels claiming to be sweet and funny -- one always needs some uplifting literature in times of stress and disappointment
  • four young adult books that I can read to my students during silent reading period

I could have chosen a heap of religious literature, a lot of books on running and exercise (sister-in-law would never expect me to purchase either type of these), more cookbooks (it seems strange to me to read recipes off the Kindle -- here's where I'd rather have an actual book on my kitchen counter; the Trader Joe's book I can take into the store with me, so ha!), and many business type books but I'm looking forward to retirement. There were also many romances, children's books, histories, non-fiction works, and even some great literature works.

If you have a Kindle this is the time to stock up.

And in a side note to my sister-in-law, I LOVE my Kindle. It was worth every single penny. Thank you! You've given me some great gifts in the past, but I think I'm getting more enjoyment out of this one than any I've received in the past 20+ years.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Involved Story

Hubby and I are TV addicted. We don't watch it all that much (or maybe we really do, I'm not sure how much other people watch) but we have it on ALL the time. In our inner city neighborhood, Hubby uses it as a alarm system -- if the TV's on, surely someone is home. If we leave the dogs at home (like in this horrible heat), we think it keeps them company. Hubby claims he can't fall asleep without it being on. Then neither of us wake up to turn it off, unless a screaming killer kind of movie kicks in and I wake up. I have my shows I record on my DVR. Hubby has his 1950's through the 1980's shows that he likes to watch, repeats be damned. Gunsmoke is his newest addiction (and I hate it -- I never did like that series. Just too dark for me).

We are high paying members of the Dish network. We have been for over 16 years now. We subscribe to all the premium movie channels (but we avoid the sex and pay for view channels). We don't use our TV for the Internet and we don't have a Netflicks account, but our Dish does provide DVR service.

Some years ago when our 1980's TV gave out, Hubby brought home a 36 inch screen model with one of those huge back ends. Flat TVs had just come out on the market and were terribly expensive and Hubby was NOT, under any circumstances, paying over $500 for a TV. This TV was so big that he could not lift it by himself to the top of our bedroom dresser, where all our TVs have resided over the years. Once we had three working TVs but now we have just one and it's in the bedroom. He had to hire someone to put the TV on the dresser.

Two days ago the big, heavy TV (probably only 5 years old) would not turn on. No matter what Hubby tried, it just wouldn't come on. We decided to bite the bullet and go get a flat screen TV -- one under $500, of course.

Best Buy was having an Open Box sale which gave 10% off on the selected items, so we headed out across town in 101 degree heat to buy us a TV. We had about 10 choices from the Open Box items and he and I both agreed on the 43 inch screen. They wrapped it up and we brought it home. That is one B I G TV, let me tell you!

Now. We have all the paraphernalia to that goes with the Dish satellite. And we are part of this "secret society" that puts boxes in your house to keep track of what you are watching, every minute you are watching. We can't admit we are part of this society, as they sternly remind us every time they come and check out their equipment -- but this set up, too, means a lot of cords and wires and plugs and boxes. We laugh about being part of this "secret society" because we clearly aren't on any demographic watch list -- but every six months the "secret society" workers come by and renew the equipment, so we play along. But with all this wiring and "stuff" we couldn't make the new TV work. Hubby got it kinda hooked up to Dish and we kinda got a signal but it wasn't very good. Plus the remote simply wouldn't work at all.

So today, in 107 degree heat we took the TV back. This time we caved in and bought a much more expensive Panasonic in a box (so no discount) and we had to plunk down a lot more money than the $500 we had originally bargained for.

Getting the new TV home, we still couldn't hook up all the equipment. Hubby then realized that this new TV didn't come with all the plugs / cords you need to hook it into whatever system you are using. But because the TV we took back had had all the right cords, he was determined that Best Buy was going to give him the cords he needed. The cords from our behemoth TV wouldn't fit either of the new TVs.

Another trip back to Best Buy. We didn't take the TV with us but I saw in Hubby's eyes that if he didn't get his cords, the next thing was that we weren't keeping this unit either. Best Buy was as adamant as Hubby, of course. They don't give out cords.

Hubby stormed out of Best Buy; me trailing sadly behind. In the car, as Hubby huffed and puffed, I meekly suggested that, though I understood the principle behind his disgust, it really was hot . . . and maybe TVs today just didn't come with all the cables one needed to hook them into whatever system the buyer was using.

Hubby drove out of that parking lot and straight into Sam's Club where he started reading TV cartons and TV literature -- to prove to me he could get the cables he needed if he'd just purchase the right unit. I asked for a TV tech and Sam's sent us an older gentleman, who patiently showed Hubby what cables he would need -- and yes, he would need to buy them. And because our new TV is HD, he also sold us HD cables but explained that our Dish box would need to be replaced.

Back home, now in 110 degree heat, Hubby reads the manuals, pulls out all his plugs / cords and tries his best to make the new TV find the Dish signal. No luck. When I suggest we call Dish, Hubby storms off, because he's told me "ten thousand times we don't have the right cables."

But back in the computer room, I hear him talking with Dish. Now they aren't thrilled and they balk a bit, but after 45 minutes and a chat with a supervisor and the supervisor's supervisor, they nicely agree to send us a tech, between noon and 4 tomorrow (that's Sunday guys!) who will bring us an HD connector box and all the correct cables and will make the new TV work.

I honestly feared Hubby was going to stroke out in this heat -- or have a heart attack -- which is why I kept dragging along. Luckily, we and our marriage has survived -- so far. Hopefully things will get better tomorrow if and when the Dish network people show up and make things work.

Still -- we (the public) are paying an awful lot of money for things that have become so complicated we can no longer deal with them without technical assistance. I wonder how really old folks do when they need new appliances and how do they get them installed without paying several hundred more in fees. Buying this TV was very, very frustrating. I can't imagine that it's going to get easier on us as the years go by. I can only hope that when the next major appliance goes out, it's in April or October so the weather will be a whole heap nicer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Slow Recovery

When the heat index is at 111 degrees -- and the actual temperature is 101 degrees -- it stands to reason that one should NOT have to cook. But when vacation and heat have taken huge tolls on your life, then, yes, you need to cook even if it heats up the house and plays havoc with your AC electricity bills.

Hubby went to his cardiologist yesterday and returned a pretty unhappy guy. His family could have told him it was coming but some people are just stubborn. Hubby took his vacation as a time to eat things he should not. He had ice cream -- several time, two huge scoops in a cup each setting. He had tiny cups of ice cream in the middle of the night -- to keep the heat at bay. He ate hot dogs. He ate salami sandwiches. He ate sausage three times for breakfast.

The heat was awful in Annapolis. We hadn't expected it to be so very, very hot. Family showed up and stayed around. None of us were happy about it -- but how do you tell a 94 year old older brother he wasn't welcome? Cousins made plans to visit that disrupted our plans for a relaxing weekend, the only one we had actually planned for.

The driving in DC and Maryland was awful and we kept running into road accidents, both on the highway going and returning and while in Maryland, that sometimes caused road detours on roads we didn't know or just huge traffic jams. Hubby did almost all the driving -- 4280+ miles worth.

I was tired when we started and it didn't get better as the week progressed. Sister-in-law had dietary requirements and headaches (though she manfully refrained from talking about them, we did not notice that as the week wore on she was taking more and more meds). The dogs, who had played gleefully in the fenced in yard two years ago, had no interest in going outside because it was too hot. Hubby got stressed. He ate badly -- even though he did some cooking at night, even then he ate baked beans and potato salad.

The cardiologist yesterday was incredulous. "You have been exercising in this heat?"

"Well, the heat has been causing me problems. I thought if I could get stronger . . .and I didn't get to exercise on vacation. I just want to feel a little bit better and if I could feel more like my old self . . . "

"STOP IT NOW! That's an order! You are to stay completely out of the heat! Did you hear me? No going into this heat until your blood pressure comes down."

Hubby came home defeated -- and looking just as ashy as he had on our arrival in KC on Monday morning. "I'm grounded," he moaned. "My blood pressure was 181 over 96."

The first thing I had done on Friday after getting home (and filling the dogs' water bowl) was thaw two chicken breasts. I had baked them that night -- but the truth is that Hubby fed most of his to the dogs. Then I'd tried baked lean butterfly pork chops. Hubby ate half of one and a honeydew melon. Sunday we gave in and ordered a vegetarian pizza (with hamburger). Hubby ate half the pizza before I took it away to the kitchen. It was the first meal he'd liked since getting home.

Monday we went back on the chicken regime. I found a new spicy barbecue sauce in Kentucky and that seemed to help him eat at least half of his breast. Yesterday I drove myself to the newly opened Trader Joe's (it opened July 15th -- and the place is still is freakin' zoo!) and loaded my cart with low sodium, no preservative treats.

Today I've baked bacon (it's really good baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes) -- bacon that has no MSG, no nitrates, no preservatives -- and 4 slices of bacon only account 270 grams of salt (Hubby can have up to 2400 a day) for a BLT sandwich -- minus the lettuce, but lots of tomato.

Hubby still looks ashy but his blood pressure is down to 141 this morning. Of course, he's out doing his "chores" in this heat but when he returns, he'll have a lunch / dinner that he will enjoy.

I don't have clue what's on the menu for tomorrow -- except I have a lovely pot of brown rice steaming on the stove (more heat for the old kitchen) and a pound of ground round in the frig. Inspiration will undoubtedly strike.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sticker Shock

We got home on Friday from our trip to the Northeast. The two things that shocked us the most:

1. The heat was incredible. Two years ago we could sit on the deck and enjoy the bay. This trip -- not at all. The beach house is big and the back part where our room was did not cool sufficiently to our frigid likes (everyone else in the house -- and yes, there were other people there which was rather a disappointment to us -- thought the house was chilly most of the time). Because of the heat we simply didn't get to do all the things we had planned.

2. Gas prices have more than doubled since our last trip. Hubby fills the tank so I don't get the sticker shock during the year, but I had saved the receipts from the last trip so I knew how much we spent on gas from two years ago. We more than doubled that cost. The entire trip, just for gas, cost us $590.70 -- now that's hefty! Two years ago we could fill the tank for around $25 (same car size). This year we had a couple of tanks that only cost $45 -- but if we had let the tank empty we never saw a bill under $55.

But we're home safe -- and the heat here is also incredible. It's just that our little house has a huge AC and we keep it set at around 76 on the high heat days -- so we're feeling a lot more comfortable than we did in Maryland. Sometimes the purpose of a vacation is to make one glad to get home.

Monday, July 04, 2011

For the Next Two Weeks

Hubby on the deck of the beach house, 2009, Chesapeake Bay beyond the gate.

Computer Ease

I love the convenience my Internet service provides. So many things are done more quickly and with less stress on my part. I used to hate bill paying -- writing the checks, balancing the checkbook, finding the envelops and addresses and stamps. Now I click and click and all I need do is remember passwords. I LOVE IT.

Finally, when the water company got on board, I have been able to pay every single one of my bills automatically. No wonder the post office is going broke.

And speaking of which, I just put a hold on my mail for the duration of our trip by going to:

and doing a search on "hold mail." A slick little form came up, I filled it in, and bingo! Even got a confirmation # that my mail for this address is now on hold. How easy was that? I used to have to stand in an interminable line just to turn in a form.

Since I now subscribe to the daily local paper through my Kindle, no need to put a hold on that delivery. Seems if I can get motivated to pack, we actually will be ready to leave town tomorrow morning. If only there was an application on the web that would coordinate the clothes and dog accoutrements and pack them neatly. Oh! and pick up and pay for the rental car. We always rent for long trips since we drive very, very, very old heaps that cost little to no money to purchase (only to upkeep). However, traveling in a big luxury car (we go Lincolns now that Cadillacs have become so small only sporty people fit in them) is a wonderful treat (all those toys to play with on the long highway straights).

PS -- I'm taking the Mac laptop but I doubt that I will have any Internet access at the beach house -- it's owned by a 89 year old gentleman who has never touched a computer in his life. This blog will lie fallow for the next two weeks. Hope you all have a grand 4th and a cool, breezy (and rain free -- we've got enough flooding in the Midwest) two weeks. See ya soon. Chesapeake Bay here we come! Yippee!!!!