Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #35

It seems I can make a story out just about anything. I played that silly Google game going around the blogs. You input your own name followed by the word needs and then see what Google thinks you need. Several of the responses I got were hilarious on their own but I noticed that a little shuffling and a narrative stitch here and there... Well it might not be Tolstoy but there's plot, character, setting, motive, suspense... Everything but resolution. Much like my life as it is I guess.

Thirteen Things Google Thinks Joy Needs:

1. Joy needs to realise her mistake.

~~You mean there are some I've missed? It seems I already spend every waking and dreaming moment contemplating my mistakes--past, present and future.

~~If I wasn't such an egregious offender in spelling myself, I could just say, Who's he to tell me what I need to realize when he can't even spell realize?

I'm just saying. Or, not.

What do I know, I'm just a mistake machine.

2. Joy: needs to delete files on error due to > stuff

~~Would this cut down on the mistakes or just mental functioning?

3. Joy Needs a Nanny

~~Wouldn't anyone who'd lost that many mental files?!!

4. Joy needs to make bail and get out of jail.

~~So where was that Nanny when I needed her most? What shenannigans did I get up to?

5. Joy, needs, security

~~Jail wasn't security enough?

6. Joy needs to leave her office!!!!!!!!!!!!

~~How? It follows me wherever I go--from bedroom to living room to porch to park....

~~I bet I thought it couldn't follow me to jail. And then realized my mistake. And then followed the imperative to delete files on encountering an error...

~~But I don't know. I can't recall. Too many deleted files.

Here's someone who could share his insight on deleted files and not recalling.

He needs to get away from his office too.

7. Joy needs to spend some serious time in Baghdad

~~Do I really think my office couldn't follow me there? I would think again. If I could recall how.

8. Joyneeds to be planted in full sun in well-drained soil.

~~So that's why I need to go to Baghdad!

9. Joy needs to heal the wounds from her past that are preventing...

~~Umm. If you must know the rest, Google it yourself. If you are over 18.

~~But I think it has more to do with that ubiquitous office.. His, mine and ours.

10. Joy needs a better understanding of the nature of evil.

~~Is that why I have such difficulty creating villains for my fiction?

11. Joy needs funding

~~Good Nannies are expensive!! So is travel to Baghdad. Not to mention, the 24/7 security detail needed to accompany me while there.

12. Joy Needs Prayer

~~Yes. Please. How else is someone so error prone, mistaken and memory deprived supposed to make it? Am I supposed to live on full sun and well-drained soil alone? I would pray, if I could recall how. And for what.

13. Joy Needs You!

~~To leave your comments and links.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Sparky Duck 2. L^2 3. Jamie 4. Tink 5. Wylie Kinson 6. Susan Helene Gottfried 7. RED GARNIER 8. julia 9. Candy Minx

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Congress: Be Our Hero. Give Justice Back To Us

I've been following the story of the firing of the U. S. Attorneys since Josh Marshall and his team began covering it around the first of the year at Talking Points Memo and TPM Muckraker. It dismayed me to see this attempt to subvert Justice so that, long after this administration leaves office, it would still be in the hands of those who would use it dispense favors and punishment based on how it profits those in power rather than a standard of proof based on the merits of the evidence.

This is not only a bi-partisan issue it is a Universal issue.

For what do you get when you remove Justice's blindfold and put out her eyes so that she is not only blind to the social position of the one standing before her but also to the evidence of their guilt or innocence, and put her hand into the hand of one who serves at the pleasure of Power?

You have Justice held hostage, her sword wielded by Will to Power, and her scales by Self-Aggrandizement.

And a People subject to despair and a Nation to Chaos.

So when this petition landed in my email today, I signed it:

Go watch the two short videos by Robert Greenwald and then tell Congress: Be our Hero. Rescue Justice and give her back to the people.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beat By Heat And Sliced By Ice

We had our warmest day of the year so far today. I heard them say that on the local news in a teaser before they went to commercial asking, How warm did it get?. I had just got back to our room from my evening KP with my face still 'glowing' with the heat and steam rising off the dishwater. I already had the remote in my hand to turn off the TV which I'd left on when called to dinner. I clicked it off without hesitation. I did not need to sit through a three or four minute commercial in order to have a number confirm the obvious. It was warm today. I doubt it was a record setter for this time of year. The remarkable thing is that we have gotten to the end of May before we had a day warm enough to remark about the warmth.

Merlin has his own remarks about it. I wish my camera had flash so I could have got a shot of him splayed out on the bed on his back to bare his belly fur to the fan.

I was planning to get busy working on my post for this evening but the heat was enervating me and I'd bruised a finger on the ice while making my iced coffee before I returned to the room. Or bruised was what I thought until that finger slipped on the remote as I picked it up. A closer look revealed a slice about the size and shape of a well manicured thumbnail across the crease on the underside of the ring finger on my right hand. I didn't know an ice cube could slice like a knife or a cat's claw.

After my mother-in-law went to bed, I moved out of our room with the laptop so the light could be off for my husband. It was some better in the living room by then. But after a half hour or so, I decided it would be even better on the porch. So for the first time since early October I moved out to the porch with my laptop. The porch light is on a motion sensor and there is no always-on setting. It is a very bright light. When it is on, I have difficulty seeing what is on the screen. When it is off, I can't see the keyboard at all. I have to sit very still not to trigger it on. But it isn't entirely up to me. Cars driving by trigger it too.

It took me nearly an hour to get acclimatized to the new environment. As, I've demonstrated here often, I don't do change well. I was all nerved up and every little sound startled me. Soon they were just distracting me. Now I think I'm almost relaxed. But it has been awhile since I heard any footsteps or voices. The only traffic noise now is coming from outside the trailer park. Mostly the sound of the big trucks on I5 a quarter mile to the east. The crickets are more shrill than musical. They are just about the loudest sound now that a baby crying several doors down has stopped. Their 'song' reminds me of a Christmas song medley by the chipmunks. A fountain in the yard across the street sounds more like a faucet or garden hose was left running over some gravel than like the brook or waterfall it was probably marketed as.

I can finally say that I am no longer too warm. There is a cool breeze picking up that has put goosebumps on my arms several times. It won't be long before it will start to feel downright chilly out here. Just when I was starting to get comfortable. Oh, well. I need to move indoors where I can see both the keyboard and the screen so I can spellcheck this before publishing.

I confess, I let it get to me today. I woke stiff and sore from a long walk with Sweetie and my husband yesterday. I was going to post about it today but I haven't gotten the pics off the camera yet. The first thing I did after getting my coffee was to finish watching Heroes episode sixteen which I'd had to pause when I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. There was only about fifteen minutes left in it so I allowed myself to start another one. At that time I still intended to get to work after that. But I gave in to the greed for the next one. And the next one. And the next. Until there weren't anymore.

I hope I can adjust to the heat before too long. I can't continue to coddle myself like I did today. It is only going to get worse. I doubt it topped ninety today and the mid nineties is where we can expect it to park for most of the summer. It will hit triple digits at least a few times in August.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Monday Poetry Train #1

Implicate Order
by Joy Renee

We surf the waves of the virtual all,
Falling into the event horizon,
Tumbling within the quantum quandary,
Leap rejoicing upon the Dark Matter.
Where we encounter Implicate Order
Enfolded in chaos--complicit
Desire abounding in the boundary
Layer, bounding among the founding ways--
We supplicate the Imminent Mentor:
Ancient of Days daze us, amaze us with
Bold profligacy, craze us with cold fires.
Laze with us among the sounding waves.
String us along with electron thread.
Tether us with ether bonds. Set us
Spinning oblique courses. Attract us
Strangely with proton flux. Protract our
Longing with peek-a-boo awe. Seek us Strongly
With weak forces. Cradle us with ozone
Arms. Baptize us in stardust. Light the way
To our exodus. Claim us as Your song.

I wrote the first version of this in 1998 after reading a number of books on cosmology written by physicists or those who studied the work of physicists while I was concurrently reading books by Jung and by Joseph Campbell. Is it any wonder I tried to narrow the abyss between their world-views so that they could almost hear each other's whispers?


Leave your link in comments and I'll add it here:

1. Rhian / Crowwoman 2. RED GARNIER 3. Susan Helene Gottfried 4. Christine 5. julia 6. Lillian Feisty 7. Jamie 8. L^2


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Sunday Serenity #7

I can't put this off any longer. I haven't been able to get the pics for the post I wanted to do and now it is after noon on Sunday. I was also having trouble coming up with an alternative. That is so me. Hard time switching gears. Especially when I am really focused on one vision for a project. What often happens when the way towards that vision remains blocked is a 'temporary' setting aside of the project that then becomes so long term calling it 'temporary' sounds like a joke or a lame attempt at irony.

My husband did replace the batteries for the digital camera and that did solve the problem. But I didn't immediately drop what I was doing..getting my Thursday Thirteen visitor's links posted to the front page and returning any visits I hadn't yet returned. It was just a matter of minutes before I was done but by then my husband had started a major project that involved both the yard and the living room. He is rebuilding the platform that the swamp cooler sits on as it was rotting. He had to lift the cooler into the living room and in order to do that he had to move the couch out on a diagonal into the middle of the floor. There is a way around but it is an obstacle course with sharp edges and with my visual impairment not one I want to negotiate even once let alone repeatedly. He thought it was only going to take an hour or so but that was almost two hours ago and it doesn't look close to done.

Setting up the photo shoot that failed yesterday was a matter of five or more trips from the bedroom to the front porch. I considered, briefly, going out to the back yard instead. But my mother-in-law is doing her laundry. Anyone familiar with the typical floor plan of a single wide trailer house knows that one of the likely places for the washer and dryer hook up is right by the back door. The hallway that links the living room with the master bedroom in the back goes past our bedroom door before it goes through the laundry room. So I am essentially trapped in our room until the living room is safely back to normal.

Oh, I could go ahead and start moving stuff out to the back yard. It is not like my MIL is going to be standing between me and the door every second. But I have this intense anxiety associated with fear of getting in the way, of being any more of a hinderence or burden than necessary. It is probably overblown. But it makes me clumsy and accident prone. And it increases the time it takes me to get things done. I would be worrying more about that than about the project and what it needs.

So I was frantically trying to come up with a theme for Sunday Serenity that didn't involve taking pictures online research which is notorious for taking ten times longer than the time intend and I am out of time. What finally came to mind was: Writing.

Writing is after all one of the things I do to invoke serenity.

Writing about my dilemma is also helping me calm down instead of getting trapped in the infinite loop of thoughts that tend to escalate the anxiety.

Why is it that eighty percent of the time, I prefer the confines of this room where I am free to think and free to be myself and free to give all my attention to the project de jour but the second I realize that I really shouldn't leave barring an emergency, suddenly I find a dozen pressing needs to leave. I am hungry but the kitchen is on the other side of the living room. I suddenly have six important things I want to discuss with my husband. I need the bathroom which is on the other side of the laundry 'room'. Well at least that last is just a matter of listening close for the cycles of the machine and my MIL footsteps to catch the right moment....

And the same goes for ducking out the back door with a book and our cat Merlin. Which I am free to do as soon as I click Publish Post.

I'll take the camera too and try get a pic that relates to the theme of this post. It won't be the one I had in mind but flexibility is something I need to practice. And I bet flexibility is directly related to ability to achieve serenity.


Leave your link in comments and I'll add it here:

1. Jamie 2. Candy Minx


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Announcing the Debut of Sunday Serenity Hub

I started posting things that evoke serenity for me every Sunday over a month ago. I'd hoped it would catch on as a meme. But I don't know what made me think it would without some serious promoting on its behalf. Promotion. That thing that comes as naturally to me as sunbathing to bats.

My husband suggested I start a separate blog for a hub on the model of Thursday Thirteen and then he would help me promote it. He got so excited about the concept, he went into my blogger account and created the second blog this morning before my eyes were even focusing yet and then spent an hour or more doing some promo for it before he and his folks left for the dirt track races. So one of my projects for my hanging alone Saturday was to tweak the layout, write the intro post and then the first edition post.

I had hoped to have my own Sunday Serenity post prepared by now as well so that when I opened edition one for participant's comments, mine would be ready to link to. But the thing I had planned did not work out. At least not yet. It depended on some photographs I wanted to take outside. When I set up to do it, my nearly new digital camera wouldn't work. I am hoping it is only dead batteries.

Now I've either got to come up with a new plan or wait until my husband can replace the batteries tomorrow morning. I probably shouldn't count on it being the batteries though and come up with a new plan regardless. Arrrrgh!!! It's a Snoopy day.

I'm not going to sweat it for now. For the next few hours anyway. I've had a busy day with setting up the Sunday Serenity hub, laundry and a shampoo and the set up for the photo shoot that never happened. The latter involved lugging a bunch of stuff outside onto the porch and draping lawn chairs with blankets for backdrops. Then, of course, lugging it all back in when I couldn't get the camera to work. I have to take stuff outside to photograph them as my camera doesn't have flash.

My plan for the next couple hours is to watch two or three more episodes of Heroes. I'm about to start episode eight. I had promised myself an episode over my coffee this morning but started the conversation with my husband about Sunday Serenity and before my first cup of coffee was gone, he had the new blog up and his enthusiasm had rubbed off on me. After he and his folks left this afternoon, I moved my laptop out beside the PC and set up the PC to watch TV episodes on so that I could do other things with the laptop. I am always multi-tasking. I push my RAM to its limits with multiple aps and windows running. But streaming video pretty much hoggs the RAM.

Before I headed to NBC's Heroes site on the PC though, I headed to ABC first to see if I would encounter the same problem installing their new streaming video software as I had on the laptop. It installed without a hitch so that eliminates the theory that my laptop was too ancient as it is younger than the PC by two years. So it must be the AVG resident shield or some other thing I did to block malware during the last month which is preventing installation of the ABC streaming software. So I can relax about being able to catch the episodes I missed since the beginning of this year. I expect my husband or I will eventually figure out how to get the media player installed on the laptop but meanwhile, they will be available whenever the PC is available. Which is 9PM til 5AM most nights and Saturday's from 2PM on until October whenever dirt track racing isn't rained out.

Anyway, I was about to start watching a Heroes episode over my dinner about six but I'd also signed into my instant messenger on the PC and my sister logged on with hers and IMed me just then. By the time she had to go, I realized I would loose the light for photographing outdoors if I waited another hour. Then followed the failed photo shoot and a shampoo and a third load of laundry shuffled through the machines.

Well, this post went off on a tangent or two. It was supposed to be a simple announcement about Sunday Serenity hub and instructions for those interested in participating. OK. So the instructions are simple enough. Post something on your own blog that evokes serenity for you then visit the Sunday Serenity hub and leave a comment with a link to your post in the current edition which I will aim to have posted by early evening Pacific Coast Time each Saturday so it will be available for early risers in Europe and points east. Oh, and spreading the word to your blogging buddies to help build the community in this early stage would be very appreciated.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Down Time

Guess you could say I took the day off today. Not sure how long it has been since I allowed myself to spend this much time at something not related to research, content creation, site promotion, malware warring, or file organizing and back up. Probably not since October before NaNoWriMo.

This morning, after my husband left for work, I decided that I wanted to watch something completely entertaining over my coffee before I got busy. I remembered it had been a couple of weeks since I caught up with Medium on the NBC web site and the last episode I'd seen had been continued. So I headed off to check it out. Sure enough there were two new-to-me available. I watched them back to back.

This took somewhat less than two hours with the limited commercials. Maybe fifty minutes each. I intended to get busy after the second one. But a button promoting Heroes was on the page and I went to see what was on offer there. See, once, months ago, I stumbled onto a Heroes episode in the middle. On TV. Got interested but felt completely lost. Checked it out online hoping I could catch up from the beginning but they didn't have all the episodes available online. So I have checked back every once in awhile. No more than every six weeks or so. I tend to forget about it if nothing reminds me. But, I guess you can guess where this is heading. I found they had the whole season available. I started with episode one and watched straight through episode four before I came up for air.

It ended on a cliff-hanger and I have had a hard time keeping my mind on the other things I'm supposed to be thinking about. I almost forgot I needed to get a post up before midnight if I didn't want to break my nearly two month streak. I was all set to hook up my ear buds and click on the next episode as soon as my husband started snoring when I remembered. Then spent half an hour trying to come up with a topic that wasn't this one. I hated to admit I spent nearly an entire day in such a frivolous manner. I have nothing to say about the series in terms of a critique other than it has gripped me on some level, I cannot yet articulate. In terms of story structure, I am still in the beginning where character development and plot lines are laid down, foreshadowing is over layered and so forth but it is too soon to know how well the promises implied by these will be kept by the writers over time.

I like the complexity of ensemble cast stories like this. I like the fumbling idealism of each of the potential heroes, their misfit status and eccentricity even without the 'special talents' in their repertoire. Their lack of cynicism is refreshing. I also like the sci-fi elements and one of the things that had intrigued me about the episode I saw months ago was the fascination with Star Trek of one the mysterious character Hiro. As a long, long time Trekkie myself, that was hard to resist.

I've never been much of a fan of the comic book hero genre though and had given this a pass in the first place, thinking that's what it was. But it doesn't feel like a typical comic book story. It even seems to be trying to reflect on the genre and its impact on our culture more than to be of the genre itself.

I really can't afford to add another series to my list of favorites. I gave up all of the stories I was following after the winter rerun season because of the looming library closure and the need to focus on using the resources I was about to loose indefinitely. I hoped I would be able to catch up with most of them online after April 6th. But at some point I discovered that ABC had stopped posting more than the previous three or four episodes of each of the stories I was hooked on. And by the time I discovered this, I was five or six episodes behind on all of them. So I took a gamble and chose to wait until the end of the season, hoping they would put up at least the entire spring season soon after the season finales.

When I went to the ABC site to check on them the other day, I discovered they had upgraded their streaming software and required me to download and install it. But after some twenty attempts, I still haven't gotten it to work. I suspect it might have something to do with one of the barriers we put up against malware in the last month. I don't know if I dare let down any of those guards just yet to test that theory. So now I don't know if I will get to catch up with Lost, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty and Six Degrees among others.

I told you I couldn't really afford to add another series to my list of wanna sees. And that was just the tip of the iceberg of what I used to watch regularly. I have actually appreciated not being tied to the TV for all of these months. It is probably why I was so much more productive this past winter than most. I may have spent nearly as much time watching videos online or DVDs from the library as I would have spent watching those stories on prime time TV but I wasn't controlled by the TV schedule. Which meant I didn't have to interrupt a project to tune in a show or worse yet put off getting started in a project until after eleven on a given night.

Maybe I won't remain enthralled by Heroes. I sense from the pace of the storyline and elements of foreshadowing that it is getting close to the episode I caught a piece of. Maybe once it reaches that point, my curiosity will have been slaked enough to let it go again. That was the episode when a certain cheerleader defied the grounding by her Father and went to a school function--prom? homecoming? Halloween party? I told you, I surfed into the middle of an episode. There was a handful of characters who seemed to think they had a mission to 'save the cheerleader and save the world' and it had something to do with a painting of the clock tower on this high school campus by an artist who claimed to paint the future. I got the impression that the cheerleader in question had already died and the attempt to save her involved going back in time, or stopping time or even that there had or would be repeated attempts to interrupt what was about to happen or had already happened to her. It is all kind of vague after all of these months. Part of me wishes I'd left it that way. Part of me can't wait to get back to see what happens in episode five.

Any Heroes fans or Heroes haters out there feel free to weigh in. Will I be able to quit after I reach the point in the story I stumbled onto before? Is there any culturally redeeming value in this story or have I fallen hook, line and sinker for one big gimmick?


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Quiz: Which Famous Photographer Are You?

Which famous photographer are you?

Jerry Uelsmann: Known for multiple imagery and surrealism

"I think of my photographs as being obviously symbolic, but not symbolically obvious.”

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

While preparing my TT below, I had to Google the Bible verse, My sheep hear my voice, to be sure I quoted it exact. This landed me on a page from Claire Joy's blog Flavor of the Month where I encountered this photo in her most recent post. I experienced a frission--goosebumps and a kind of dilation of the inner eye--at how many images in this photo related to the images invoked by the memories from items one and two in my TT list. I lusted for that photo to accompany my post. But the only way to get the right to it was to take the quiz and hope I got the same result. And I did. Else I would have waited until tomorrow to post the result.


Thursday Thirteen #34 Remembering Daddy

Because Tuesday was my Dad's birthday and this weekend is Memorial Day, I am remembering my Daddy with today's TT. I open with a repeat of the picture and poem I wrote and posted for him on the anniversary of his passing last September.

The Summer I was seven.
Those Were the Days
by Joy Renee
Those were the days
When the sky blushed blue;
When the grass grinned green;
When birds sang true.
Those were the days
Love groomed my heart;
Trust bloomed my spirit;
Joy grew unfettered.
Those were the days
My soul sang Gloria;
My eyes saw clear;
My dreams soared.
Those were the days,
I was Daddy's delight;
I was Mama's eyeshine;
I was little brother's guide;
I was baby sister's glee.
Thirteen Memories of my Dad and me:
1. I remember standing in my crib repeating after Daddy: My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me....and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
I remember him accompanying the words with a motion of plucking something invisible out of one palm with the fingers of his other hand and then putting it back.
Dad would probably have been completely befuddled to have known that I thought he was speaking in the first person singular. That he had sheep who heard his voice and followed him about like Mary's little lamb. I also imagined I was a little lamb who could not be plucked out of my Daddy's hand.
2. When I was about three our family went camping with his brother's family near a lake. I am remembering the name White Horse for some reason but I don't know if that was the name of the lake, the camp ground, a nearby town or a toy one of my cousins had with them that day. It was somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, most likely southern Washington or Northern Oregon. This was in the early sixties.
I remember this grassy slope and feeling perfect delight in it. My cousins were rolling down it, which I had been forbidden to do. So instead I started running. Ah, the joy of running down a hill. Possibly my joy in running began that day. It is certain that it is my first clear memory of associating delight with running.
I remember the sound of my Daddy's and my Uncle's voices calling to me to stop. I remember intentionally ignoring them. I was getting close to the bottom where the ankle high grass suddenly got taller than me when suddenly I was swooped into the air and was looking down on my Daddy's face from over the top of my Uncle's head.
I remember feeling disconcerted that I could not interpret Daddy's expression. But from today's adult viewpoint, I am pretty sure it was a combination of emotions vying for dominance along with the exertion of running, for he hadn't quite caught up with his taller, more athletic brother. Fear and relief were probably the two strongest. for I can now interpret the view I had from atop my Uncle's shoulders. A shimmering carpet of sky and clouds rolled out from the other side of that tall grass which I had not quite reached. That tall grass which was probably growing in the water at the edge of that lake.
3. A year or so after that incident, I was running circles around my Daddy who was lying on the living room floor shortly after arriving home from work. I was trying to get him to play but he was groaning that he was too tired. I remember hearing Mom's voice coming from the direction of the kitchen, calling out that someone was going to get hurt.
I remember Daddy reached an arm up to grab me but I dodged it and then tumbled to the floor. My screams catapulted him off the floor. He carried me into their bed. I saw tears in his eyes. Shortly he was bundling me in the quilt off my bed and handing me to my mother in the front seat of the car.
I remember them showing me the X-ray of my collar bone which was shaped like an A and somebody saying it looked like a broken pencil.. It was my left shoulder and I had to wear a sling for weeks. This event taught me my right from my left.
4. I remember the ritual of unlacing and pulling Daddy's work boots off in the evenings and giving him a foot massage.
5. I remember kneeling as a family around Mom and Dad's bed for bedtime prayers.
6. I remember carrying asbestos shingles one by one from a pile on the edge of the carport roof up the slope of the peaked part of the roof and handing them to Dad who laid them in place a drove nails into them. Not sure of my age but those shingles were longer than my arms, which made lifting them high enough not to trip on them as I walked up the slope quite a challenge.
7. I remember a snowball fight with Daddy in the front yard. My sister was a toddler in a red one piece snowsuit so I couldn't have been much older than nine.
8. I remember playing softball on week-ends in the high-school parking lot which abutted our back yard.
9. I remember driving lessons with Dad when I was sixteen. The car was a Buick Electra and handled like the Star Ship Enterprise in dry dock. Dad's nervousness escalated mine.
10. I remember Dad taking me out to a fancy restaurant for my sixteenth birthday and being served a crab cocktail which I'd never heard of before.
11. I remember standing in a huddle with my siblings and Daddy on the furnace grate in our living room on cold mornings with the hot air blowing up my night gown as we all waited for Mama to call breakfast.
12. I remember the sound of Dad's adding machine, accompanying my attempts to sleep, deep into the night as he did the books for home and church.
I remember from as early as fifth grade, operating that ten-key mechanical adding machine, inputting, as Dad dictated, the numbers and command functions--plus, minus, times, divide--and pulling down the handle and reading off the answer. And No, he did not let me do my math homework with it. *sigh*
13. I remember the long talks Dad and I had on numerous occasions throughout the early nineties as we both attempted to come to terms with the implosion of the fundamentalist sect which my Mother and I had been raised in and he'd been involved with since high-school. As we each embarked on personal spiritual quests, we shared angst and anger, verses and insight, questions and contemplations and prayer.
Our paths diverged in the late nineties to the point where it became difficult for me to continue those talks--I thought out of deference to Him because I had removed my assent from more doctrines than he had and feared being an undue influence on him. Or as we would have put it: A stumbling block to another's faith..
But if I have one regret since his passing, it is that I stopped encouraging those talks. I came to understand it was partly out of fear of disappointing him. And I suspect the cessation of those talks were a bigger disappointment to him than knowing the truth about what I believed would have been. I also suspect our paths had not diverged as much as I thought.
I'm so sorry Daddy.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. The Rock Chick 2. Susan Helene Gottfried 3. Kristin 4. L^2 5. Jenny McB 6. Rhian / Crowwoman 7. Tink

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Am still not feeling good. The mystery bug has turned out to be a recurrence of a tooth abscess. Home remedies that have worked before aren't working this time. My mood and energy levels have been soaring and plummeting like a swing on a rubber chain. I keep swinging between berating myself for not sticking to the plan and therefor proving myself uncommitted to my work and therefor unworthy of it etc etc and the opposite extreme of thinking 'give me a break I'm sick already what more to you want from me'.

One development on the backup front should be making me feel better but all I feel is confused and ambivalent. When my husband came home at noon on Tuesday because there wasn't enough work on the shipping docks, he wanted to take the opportunity to work together on our web site project. I then told him that I had been denying myself the 'right' or 'privilege' to work on that project until I got my files backed up. He suggested we go ahead and back up now and not wait until I finish getting the AOL emails transferred to text files. His theory was that since we were probably not going to have to reformat the hard drive, I could take my time getting the AOL stuff salvaged. Not that I should relax completely and let it slide or anything but that I could at least be assured that the ninety-some percent of my files that were ready to go were safely backed up. That would include all of my creative writing files, my web site files, my correspondence files and my daily journals. That was the majority of the irreplaceable stuff. Once the back up solution was in place It would, theoretically, be easy to keep everything backed up on a regular basis.

I agreed with him altho it was hard to let go of my check list but I realized that was inflexible thinking. But I also knew how easy it was for me to get off track once I let myself be flexible. But he made sense plus I hated to waste the rare opportunity of working together on the new project while he was home and still energetic. But the project of finding a place online to back up my files took the whole afternoon and the process was frustrating because it highlighted our two different working styles and made them seem too incompatible to overcome. I really started to wonder if I was a fool to think we could make a business plan work if we couldn't even get on the same page on this one simple task.

One of the major sticking points was his attitude toward file names and user names and passwords. He thinks of them as alplanumeric strings with no meaning. I need to feel emotionally connected to them. It helps me remember them for one thing. But in the case of my stories and essays, the naming of the file is as important as the naming of the piece--its title. I said that naming my files was the equivalent of naming my children. He was completely flummoxed by this. he doesn't get it. I can't switch to thinking his way. At least not all in one day. He says I can't expect to make it in a web site managing business or any computer dependent business if I'm going to spend five to fifteen minutes stewing over it every time the tasks of creating file names, user names or passwords arises.

I'm sure he is right. In fact I am so sure he is right, I am more than half way to convincing myself that I don't belong in this field and should get out before I invest more than I can afford to loose. But that is probably as much the bug I am fighting talking as it is anything resembling reason.

The result of yesterday's endeavor tho was to get the folders containing my original writing backed up. It is a stop gap measure as it isn't a matter of a few key strokes to keep them backed up regularly. My husband is going to keep looking for a better solution. But meanwhile I can relax to the extent that the majority of five years worth of my writing projects are safe. But I mustn't relax to the extent that I get complaisant and let things slide again. But I should give myself permission to work on creative projects again while maintaining some kind of regular schedule of working towards getting the rest of the files important to me backed up.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On My Mind

Today my Dad was on my mind. This was/would have been his birthday. It is the second one we celebrated without him. The photo was another of the treasures I found while cruising through my files to prepare them for backup. The original picture was taken on the road to the last family reunion near Bend, Oregon the last weekend of July 2005 and then emailed to me by my sister two different times. Mom was in the picture with him, of course, it was hard to get pictures of Dad by himself in that last year. Or at least that was the impression I got from those that were sent to me. I cropped the picture to put the entire focus on Dad for this occassion.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Bug Fighting Of Another Stripe

Couldn't figure out what was going on with me ever since Saturday afternoon. I fought what I call nap-attacks all day Saturday--the irresistible need to give into sleep. For someone whose usual complaint is insomnia, it is disconcerting when this happens. I kept whipping myself with guilt and shame, accusing myself of trying to get out of finishing the backup project, of giving into boredom rather than stay committed to the respect for my work which I have been blogging about for the past two weeks.

I fought the need with extra caffeine and frequent walk-abouts the house and yard on Saturday. I especially hated to give up one single hour of race-day Saturday. The one day of the week during dirt track race season when I have unfettered access to the whole house and yard and can have my work station in the living room beside the PC and keep both computers active with separate but equal projects. All this while doing laundry, hanging with Sweetie, my in-law's Australian Shepard/Border Collie, playing music of my taste at my volume, etc. etc. All those things that those of you who live in your own homes probably take for granted.

But even though I could have continued working at both computers while having the luxury of sitting in an office chair instead of the edge of the bed right on through to seven or eight Sunday morning, I gave up just before eleven. Even before my husband and his Mom got home from the races. I was already moved back into the bedroom and working at getting both Saturday's and Sunday's posts up when they got home and ready to have my light out and close the laptop lid within minutes after my husband had started snoring.

This especially frustrated me in light of the fact that I had slept most of the hours between dinner Friday evening and noon Saturday.

I slept until seven-thirty Sunday morning. Was feeling much better and ambitious but was up against the fact that my laptop was in need of a restart which takes nearly half an hour to complete. And then the AVG daily scan starts at eight and lasts until ten.

So I used those hours to hang out with my husband and discuss plans for a total revamp of my other two web sites with an addition of another we have been planning to add to the mix. This discussion got him enthused about experimenting with graphics programs for use in that project and, with my blessing, he took over the laptop as soon as the scan was done. I looked over his shoulder for the next four hours. It wasn't time wasted. I learned a lot and the two of us got somewhat synchronized as to taste and tactics for the upcoming project.

A project which I am forbidding myself to start working on until I get my files backed up. I know myself too well. I tend to hyper-focus on a single thing until my attention gets dragged to another thing. I have been forced on multiple occasions to drag my focus back to the need to organize and back up my personal files only to have my attention dragged away before the project is completed. This last scare, invoked by the malware attack was alarming enough that memories of it are helping to keep me goaded toward the goal this time. Even though it was tempting to relax when my husband decided that it probably wasn't going to be necessary to reformat the hard drive after all.

When my husband quit working on the laptop about three-thirty Sunday afternoon, did I grab it up and get busy once again with harvesting my email off the AOL software, the last of the sub-tasks before the files are ready to be bundled for backup? No. I gave into the nap attack I'd been fighting for the last hour or so of his goofing around with graphics and WYSIWYG and databases etc. He quit only because he was slated to help with a BBQ. He had to call me for dinner at six. I crashed again as soon as the dishes were done.

And slept until seven Monday morning. Most of twelve hours. I woke with the hint of a sore throat, but blamed it on snoring and dehydration. But by afternoon, I had a stiff neck just like the one I had when I had mono the week I turned seventeen and which plagues me with every bug my body fights to this day. So the mystery was solved. I wasn't lacking in character re the commitment to the backup project and thus to respect for my work. I was fighting a bug and should be grateful that the usual insomnia was not preventing me from getting the healing rest my body needed for the fight.

I crashed again after dinner this evening and woke at eleven in a fever sweat. Which explains the blurred vision aggravating everything else over the last couple of days. I had suspected a low grade fever a couple of times Sunday and Monday but could not confirm it as I have not replaced the mercury thermometer I busted over my cat, Gremlin's, head in the summer of 2005 when she leapt into my lap as I was shaking it down.

I guess I can give myself a break from the self-flagellation. But I have to figure out how to do that and maintain my commitment and focus on the backup project. These are exactly the kinds of distractions that can drag my attention away from important projects indefinitely.

It helps that I put this project into a task manager which started alerting me about the Saturday deadline at midnight Friday morning and keeps popping up with reminders at every boot up and every midnight and other occasions that seem random but probably aren't. I could get rid of the annoyance by clicking 'clear' the next time it pops up. But I won't. I am sooooo close to the finish line.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Serenity #6

Coastal scenes always invoke serenity for me.
Even when there is a stiff breeze and the surf is anything but calm.
This picture was taken by my father-in-law somewhere near Newport, Oregon.

Update: had to change the title after discovering I had two #4's. Need I explain further? I did the same thing with Thursday Thirteen once, and didn't catch it for several weeks. What a pain that was.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Hanging With Sweetie

Saturday is Hanging With Sweetie Day for me throughout the dirt track race season. Sweetie is my in-law's dog and very well named. She apparently thinks that my name consists of a series of mysterious letters that involve smacking your lips repeatedly.

Today was dirt track racing Saturday so I was home alone. Except for Sweetie, my in-law's dog. This year that means I have access to both computers at the same time. So I was logged onto my MSN software on the PC, making myself available for IM with my family, listening to Air America and occasionally playing a game of Bejeweled 2.

On the laptop, I continued plugging away on preparing my files for backup. My eyes are about done for today. I'm not going to make the deadline I was aiming for. I do have everything except the AOL mail from the laptop ready to go though, so that is major. I spent most of today on that and am nowhere near done. Mostly I was working my way through the two folders of incoming and outgoing mail that had automatically been saved on the computer as they were opened or sent. I had never bothered to clean them out. there were over 2000 items. More than two-thirds of that were news letters, ads, and spam.

I started with these two folders this time because when working with the PC email, I had not discovered them until after I had dealt with all the mail in the individual family and friend and web admin folders. Then I discovered that some of the pieces of the 'conversations' that I had noticed were missing as I had copy/pasted them, and thought were lost forever because I had forgotten to save them to their folder, were available after all. But to find them I had to weed through thousands of non-relevant stuff which really distracted me. It also meant that, instead of having a single text file open as I zipped through a single 'conversation' in chronological order, I had to go back and forth between conversations and then hunt inside them for the right date stamp to see if the item had already been pasted and if not insert it. That made working through those two folders take longer than working through all fifteen or more of the other folders combined.

So this time I went through those two folders first, deleting the newsletters and junk and sending the family, friend and web admin stuff to their appropriate folders. This will mean there will be quite a bit of duplication but it will be easier to delete a duplicate as I work through a conversation in chronological order then to hunt for the missing pieces later.

Anyway. That is where my big project stands tonight, as we close in on midnight. I am going to get my Sunday Serenity post up and then get some sleep. I've worn out my eyes. The pictures for both this and Sunday's post were both taken by my father-in-law. I ran across them as I riffled through folders on the PC. These were kept in the Shared folder because they were in the screensaver slideshow.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Respect Your Work And It Will Belong To You Willingly

So Blogger now has auto save. Yay! How many times would that have saved me from hours of lost work? The latest being just three weeks ago this coming Sunday morning when I lost the post I'd been working on for twelve hours--the post giving a play-by-play of the ongoing malware attack that began in the wee hours of that Saturday morning.

How ironic that I discover this as I am preparing to post about the ongoing backup project I've been engaged in for two weeks now. The very project put in motion by the expectation that a reformat of the hard drive would be necessary to clear out the burrowing malware. That reformat had been scheduled for tomorrow morning. We now have hope that it won't be necessary. It has been a full week since I've seen any suspicious behavior. But I swore that I would not let a reprieve regarding the reformat stop me from completing the backing up of my files off both the PC and the laptop.

If the reformat had still been on the agenda, it would have had to be postponed until next weekend most likely as I am not quite ready. At least I won't be ready by Saturday morning when my husband has the largest block of available time. I am still pushing to be ready by Sunday morning.

This is the to-do list I'm working off of (the Xs indicate a completed task):

X Get AOL emails off PC.
X Collect PC files into ALL ABOARD file
X Move ALL ABOARD to PC shared files.
X Move ALL ABOARD from PC to Laptop.
Get AOL emails off Laptop.

Collect Laptop files into ALL ABOARD.
Bundle files by type into folders 250MB or less and/or Compress files.
Determine destination for each file:~~DVD, CD, Internet storage site. (No printer available else hard-copies would be on this list)
Move bundles to back up location(s)
Make note of locations and any URLs or passwords in several physical and virtual locations!!
Schedule a repeating appointment in a calendar or task manager application.

I am working on the second four items almost simultaneously but the most involved is the AOL emails again. That entails opening each email one by one and then saving its contents by whatever method is most helpful. For most that means a tedious copy/paste process.

As for that next to last step. You would thing that would go without saying. But we learned that lesson the hard way once. My essay, Goats Will Eat the Darnedest Things, was written in 1998 after my husband had stored all our personal files online while he reformatted our PC hard drive after its registry had been corrupted. The only place he saved the password to those files was in the email from that site's admin--which had been backed up along with everything else on the password protected site. For nearly three weeks, I feared the worst:

Among the material locked away from me was two years of my daily journal.
Stories, novels, essays and poems finished and in progress. Notes and outlines
and character sketches and various writing exercises. Altogether about two
million words of my own text. Enough to choke a goat. And more. Letters and
e-mail both personal and to do with the business of this site. A data base and
address book which I managed for a local Blind and Visually Impaired support
group. A collection of URLs and commentary on their sites harvested for this
site’s Resource page. My browser favorites file. Every project I was working on
for this site was missing crucial parts. There was a real possibility they were
gone for good. Like a whisper on the wires--gone. Along with my confidence in my
tools and in myself and in the validity of my vision. Goats will eat the
darnedest things!

I am pleased to say that after a fierce struggle with private demons,
horned and goateed, I retrieved those last three things and confirmed my
commitment to this project, determined to meet the originally planned deadline
to publish the monthly update on the last day of September. That was the morning
of the 21st, nineteen days since I’d last seen my directory. Ten days until the
thirtieth. I began to plan how to get it done with what I had to work with. The
words in my head and the keyboard, mouse and screen. The word processor, the
WYSIWYG and the browser. All the tools were in fine working order and I was
still a writer. Some things even goats have no appetite for.

Then, that night I was e-mailed a miracle--a replacement password for
the site where my data was stored. A few hours later I was busy counting files
and folders and bytes and words. And as I looked in on certain files for the
first time in months, I knew I wouldn’t let them languish alone for so long
again. Nor be so miserly with ink cartridge and paper. I began to feel a greater
respect for my work, for both the talent and the tools that make it possible.
This time the tools just got my goat. But I got the message: Respect the tools
and they will serve you reliably, respect the w#000080ork and it will belong to
you willingly.

My fingers are itching to fix the glaring mistakes in the above. But then it wouldn't be a quote would it? And I might as well leave the evidence of neglect of both work and 'lesson learned' in place. This is the first time in months if not more than a year that I have looked in on that particular essay posted on Joywrite. I can't believe I never caught that mutilation of the word 'work' by the intrusion of HTML code inside it. Can't blame anyone but myself either. In 1998, my husband did all the HTML work related to Joywrite and Joyread. But when I put them up again in 2004, I had to learn to handle most of it myself as my husband had little time or access to the computer or Internet that year.

Ive been done next to nothing with them since news of my Dad's rapid decline in the summer of 2005. My beginner's facility with the HTML was too fragile to survive the months of no practice. I have dozens of text files ready to convert to HTML pages which this backup project has brought to my attention as I cruise through my files to identify them by type and size. As I cruised past HTML tutorials and HTML applications, peeking inside to determine their relativity and usefulness--the files to determine whether to back them up and the applications to determine whether to put them on the list to download again after the possible disk reformat--I discovered that I have remembered more than I thought, that getting back up to speed would probably entail only five to ten hours of focused attention and practice. Not nearly as formidable as the forty-some hours I've already devoted to this back up project in the last two weeks.

It boggles my mind to think that the incident related in Goats Will Eat the Darnedest Things, happened nearly nine years ago! And that all those files and everything that had been added to them in the following three years were lost when that PC was abandoned with the rest of our belongings in a storage shed on the outskirts of San Jose, California. I hadn't learned my lesson unequivocally.

This month I've once more been forced to see how thick-headed I am. And how much hard work I nearly lost again due to negligence of a tedious task. But it wouldn't have been so tedious if I'd been doing it regularly and I might have been doing so if I'd had methods in place to make backing up a matter of a few key strokes and the task entered in one of the task managing applications available to me. So that is part of what I'm taking into consideration as I bundle the files for backup. Which adds to the time and tediousness of if, but I hope will insure that I don't neglect the task in the future. Or at least not give me the excuse that it is too hard or tedious or time-consuming.

Part of me is feeling very discouraged and ashamed as I'm brought face to face with the evidence of my repeated failure to exhibit respect for my work and stay committed to the various projects. But part of me is also feeling amazed at how productive I can sometimes be and at how much I still like many of the works in progress I've allowed to languish for months or years. The fly-by peek-a-boos I've been giving my files as I prepare them to be bundled into easily backed up chunks, have been stimulating my imagination and making me eager to reengage them.

But not until I have them bundled up and backed up. This time, I am not going to get distracted from that task. I truly hope I never need to be taught this lesson again.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #33

My mood has been in the toilet for the last twenty-four hours and I didn't want to lay it on TTers by doing my TT on what's on my mind. (See Monday and Tuesday's posts below if you're curious.) But then I remembered that as I was salvaging two years worth of email off the PC this week, I came across several old forwards. You know the ones I mean. They have some kind of story or joke or list of interesting facts, or quizzes etc. I remembered that I had seen several that I thought would lend themselves to a fun TT and thus had copy/pasted them into the Misc document along with interesting links and quotes that had been sent to me.

The files from the PC were still on the PC though and I wanted to do my TT on the laptop this week. Because I am organized to do it on there and because this week I am sure I can count on the laptop to cooperate as it's been several days since I've seen any hints of malware activity.

The PC files I wanted to back up and also to move onto the laptop were all collected into a single folder and that folder had been moved into the Shared Documents on the PC. Via the WIFI, I can access the folder from the laptop.

The folder had been ready to go since Tuesday morning just before I left to walk my ballot over to City Hall. The laptop was busy with a scan so I couldn't move it then. it was still busy when I got home and since it was already four hours past my usual bedtime, I needed to lay down. My afternoon and evening were consumed with other tasks and topics.

The laptop needed a restart when I woke up Wednesday afternoon and after I was logged onto my desktop again I started to head to the PC folder to retrieve that file but I got sidetracked exploring the laptop file tree as I looked for the place I wanted to park the PC files. I started peeking inside folders to remind myself what was there, to get an idea of what I still needed to get done to prepare them for backup. That kept me busy right up until I was called to dinner.

So the first thing I did after finishing the dishes was to head for that PC file again. This time I was ready to move it. I had never done this before so I wasn't sure what would happen. When the transfer started it was accompanied by a dialog box with a progress bar and the estimated time was three minutes. I lay down so Merlin would cuddle with me. He's not much of a lap kitty. I watched the progress bar for a time and glanced at the clock. At the three minute mark the bar was only two-thirds full. In that last couple minutes, I must have dozed off. I didn't get to start work on TT until after ten.

I had to do a major rewrite of the joke I chose to feature today as it was only a nine item list. I added and divided and shuffled a bit from the original.

Warning! Beverage spew alert!

Speaking of toilets........

Thirteen Steps To A Clean Toilet--The Fun Way:
1. Put both lids of the toilet up.
2. Add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
3. Walk through the house and yard, calling "Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty."
4. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
5. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids.
6. Stand on the lid.
7. Wait as the cat self agitates making ample suds.
8. Never mind the noises coming from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
9. Flush the toilet three or four times to provide a "power-wash" and rinse.
10. Have someone open the front door of your house.
11. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
12. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
13. Watch the cat rocket out of the toilet, streak through the house, and run outside to dry himself off.
Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.
The Dog

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. whenn 2. Gattina 3. Susan Helene Gottfried 4. Miss Frou Frou 5. Mz Jackson 6. samulli 7. Fence 8. L^2 9. Mercy's Maid 10. Dana 11. Toni 12. Tink 13. Nicole 14. Rhian / Crowwoman

(leave your link in comments, I'll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It's easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Help! I Don't Know How To Be Without a Library.

From the Jackson County, Oregon web site, the final update for the night was posted just before midnight:

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 51) . . . . . . . . . . 51
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . . 58,588
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . 52.80%

15-75 Local Option Tax for Public Library Operations

Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . 24,253 = 41.74%
No. . . . . . . . . . . . . 33,852 = 58.26%
Total. . . . . . . . . . . 58,105

We got the first half of the fifty-fifty requirement: The better than fifty percent turnout of registered voters. But for the second time in under a year, Jackson County, Oregon has said a resounding NO to a library funding levy.

It is going to take me a few hours, if not days to assimilate the understanding that I'll be without library resources for at least several more months. The earliest another measure can get on the ballot is September.

I don't know how to be without a library in my life!

My first memories of visiting the library are from the time my baby brother was still in a stroller. He was 22 months younger. So those memories go back to age three. I have very vivid memories of receiving my first library card at age five and then upgrading to a 13 year old's card with 'upstairs' privileges in the adult stacks. That was in Longview, Washington where I lived until I married just after my 21st birthday and since then I have lived and held cards in Oceanside, California,, Longview again, Jackson County, Oregon, Longview again, Sunnyvale, California and Jackson County again. During the late eighties I had a card with the Southern Oregon State College (now Southern Oregon University) in Ashland as well as the county card. In Longview in the late nineties I had a card with the Lower Columbia Community College as well as the city card.

Remind me again how I am supposed to do this. I know I worked out a plan and nothing has changed to alter its parameters, though there was a close call this past two weeks with the malware attack putting my laptop and relatively unhindered access to the Internet in jeopardy. Maybe I'll feel a bit better by tomorrow night, after I've had a chance to adjust to the let down of the slim hope I was holding onto; after I've had a chance to review my plan for how to live and continue my work for a time without library resources. It isn't a long-term plan though. If this is still going on a year from now I'll have to be reminded why I want to continue living in a community where vested interests are holding access to knowledge hostage and the majority of those who care enough to vote about it are A Ok with the idea.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Turned my library levy ballot in here this morning. Phoenix City Hall now occupies the building which was the Phoenix Library a year ago. Our new library is being built on the lot where City Hall used to be. But will it ever open its doors?

Today is D-day for the library levy. Ballots must be turned in by 8PM which is less than three hours out now. To pass there needs to be better than a fifty percent turnout of registered voters plus better than fifty percent in favor. Word on the local news at five is that turnout is running at 48%. Close enough for hope but not close enough to relax. No word yet on how the votes are falling. Opinion on both sides has been strong and outspoken.

Nobody needs to guess where I stand.

I walked my ballot over to City Hall in Phoenix this morning, dropping it in the box just before nine. To do this, I had to stay up way past my usual bed time of late. I had hoped not to be leaving it to the last minute like that. The ballot arrived in the mail the same week the malware attack hit my laptop. Possibly the same day thought at the moment I can't quite remember whether the ballot arrived on Saturday the 28th or Monday the 30th. I will never forget the moment my laptop started blitzing the screen with browser windows and pop ups faster than I could close them. Just before 3AM that Saturday morning.

For over a week, I feared that I was about to loose access to the Internet and my files at the same time I was loosing access to the library. Panic is not a strong enough word to describe my state of mind. Over the next twelve days my laptop got at least as much attention as a newborn in intensive care. After a week of playing Whack-A-Mole with the malware, my husband was at his wits end and told me to start preparing for a probable reformatting of the hard drive. By which he meant for me to collect my personal files for back up. Since some of my files needing back up were still on the PC, I started working with them during the times the laptop was busy with scans or restarts.

One of the biggest backup projects on the PC was my email corrospondence trapped in the AOL software. I had discovered only after I had been using my laptop for three months that transferring AOL mail files from one computer to another would overwrite the files on the destination computer. I would have had to choose between the two years preceding my Dad's death while I was in Phoenix communicating with my parents and siblings three to five-hundred miles north of here, or the three months following his death while I was in Longview, Washington communicating with my husband here in Phoenix. Then there was the email related to web site admin on both. No way to choose. Thus the only way to salvage the PC email files was to copy and paste them into text files or save them as HTML pages.

I knew that project was going to be huge which was why I procrastinated on it so long and because it was hooked in my mind with the whole issue of backing up my files it tended make me avoid thinking about it. But this latest scare has really got my attention. I hope I never need another lesson in the importance of backing up your important files regularly. A lot of the stress of the last two weeks would have been avoided if a few keystrokes could have backed up my files.

I had been estimating that the PC email retrieval was going to take two or three night work sessions. Access to the PC for me is limited to between 9PM and 5AM. Or I can get back on it after my husband leaves for work on the days his mother also works--Tuesday through Friday. Which is what I did this morning because I had to stay up until I could walk the ballot over anyway. I had come very close to completing the project before five but had a couple dozen more emails to sift through and some double checking with my photo folders that I had already copied the pictures over to them. That took me a bit less than an hour after my husband left for work this morning. I estimate that I put in close to thirty hours on that project alone over the last ten days.

The email was the last of the files on the PC needing to be accounted for and organized for backing up. Now I can focus on the files on the laptop. And the good news is that the laptop is cooperating at the moment. The aberrant behavior has been nearly zip since Friday evening. There is hope we will not have to reformat the disk after all. But I refuse to loose the momentum or the motivation on the file back up project. I am still hoping to hit the target my husband set a week ago which was this coming Saturday. The day he was going to take the hard drive back to its out-of-the-box state.

But for the next several hours my focus is going to be on following the election returns on the local news. The fate of ballot measure 15-75 holds my fate in its hands. Life will go on without library access but wouldn't be a life I would recognize or feel at home in.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Plugging Along

I wanted to be able to make this post all about celebrating that I had finally gotten one of the pressing tasks I've been talking about done. But with less than a quarter hour to go, before midnight, I can see I won't make it. I am speaking of saving two years worth of AOL email correspondence off the PC. It covers between January 2004 shortly after news of my Dad's cancer thru September 2005 as I was walking out the door to catch the bus up to be with my family as my Dad's passing drew nigh. That also covered the year I put up my three web sites and thus all the emails relating to administrating them were involved as well.

I keep thinking I am about done and then find something I missed. I had kept folders for each 'conversation' labeled with the name of the family member or friend and saved into them each of the emails both from and to them. If I had been diligent about always putting the proper email in the proper folder, this job would have been much easier. But I kept coming across a side of an exchange that did not have it's predecessor or its followup. At first I thought I was out of luck, but then discovered that a lot of those could be found in either the Incoming Saved folder or the Sent Saved folder where they had automatically been saved as they were opened or sent. But those folders were full of everything. Since I had never even peeked in them, I had also never cleaned them out of the junk--the newsletters, ads, silly forwards, spam, admin related to my websites etc.

When I was dealing with a folder that contained only the exchanges between me and one other person which were listed in chronological order, it was easy to just keep clicking next and then copy and paste the dateline to a Word Pad file and then copy and paste the body of the email. Unless it contained photos or active links I wanted to save and then I would have to use an appropriate method to save that info in another format. But even with occasional extra steps like that involved, I zipped though folders at the rate of about two per session except for the ones for my parents, my sister and the web admin stuff.

I finished the last of said folders about 3AM Monday morning and was about to dance a little celebratory jig in my chair when I spotted those other folders in the tree. I don't know why I hadn't noticed them before. Probably because I was leaning too close to the screen and not looking above the part of the folder tree I was interested in. It wasn't that I had never known of their existence, just that I haven't worked with AOL mail since last September and the folders on the PC since December 2006.

So I took it into my head to start looking through them and seeing if any of those missing parts of certain email dialogs were in there. But now instead of working with one Word Pad document at a time I have to keep going after the one that pertains to the 'conversation' in question, then scroll through it until I find the time stamps that match, see if it was missed and if so, paste in the time stamp and then the body. In the process, I ended up with five or six Word Pad documents open at once and several times I got confused and pasted the wrong email into the wrong conversation or the right conversation into the wrong place in the queue. Like once I put a whole string of spring 2004 emails into the middle of a spring 2005 conversation.

Meanwhile the fonts in the AOL folders--the links to the emails with their address and subject etc--were probably 9pt and really hard on my eyes. And I am so out of practice with a mouse!!! It only took me a few minutes the first session to get versatile with the mouse again but after a couple hours I was up against the old problem of hand and wrist pain and fatigue which had been such a part of my life before the laptop and its touch pad.

Well, it looks like I have a couple more hours worth of weeding though the saved incoming and outgoing folders before I can call this project done. Once it is done that is the last of my personal files on the PC that I have left to organize to prepare for backup, which is the main project this is just a small piece of. I am waiting on completing the collection of AOL email off the PC before I start the same project for the laptop as I don't want to have to create the same set of files and folder twice. I am going to send the PC folders over to my laptop via the WIFI connection I can access the shared folder on the PC from any desktop on either computer so that is where I have been stashing the copies of the files on the PC I need to back up.

This project was set in motion when it began to look like we were going to have to reformat the hard drive on the laptop. There is hope now that won't be necessary. We are holding our breath after two full days with no further evidence of malware behavior. We shall see. But I am not going to let that hope slow my momentum on this project to back up my files. But you can see why I have been procrastinating on it so long.


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