Monday, August 24, 2009

"Heat Wave" Part II

This run of 100+ degree days in Austin continues....we are now up to 63 days this year!!! The fact of the matter is this shows no sign of cooling off any time soon.

What I haven't mentioned is that not only is it HOT, it is also DRY. As in no rain. I can't remember when we last had rain that lasted more than 20 minutes! Lake Travis (which is really the resevoir created where the Colorado River comes through), the streams, smaller rivers, and little lakes are nearly dried up! You can actually see islands in the resevoir! This is NOT GOOD!

The LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) has just issued mandatory restrictions on certain things related to water use. We can now only water lawns every five days. Fountains and waterfalls all over town are being turned off. Grass is brown. Trees are brown. Wind is blowing soil around. Dust devils are popping up all along the roadways in less urban parts of town. Corn stalks are brown and stunted. I can't imagine how bad it must be for the farm animals or wildlife. People are cranky and are running out of patience with the heat and each other.

Droughts don't last forever, I know this to be true. I suppose the 100+ days will go away fairly soon, even if it doesn't rain. So eventually the "Heat Wave" will dissipate; but without some serious rain, and I mean a bunch of frog-stranglin', cats and dogs, just short of flood stage, gulley-washer rainstorms, we've got a much larger and more devasting problem. Everyone depends on rainwater in one way or another. Anybody know where to find a good Rainmaker?? :-)

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Friday, August 21, 2009

"Sisters, Sisters"

One of the great mysteries of the world to me is how two children of the same parents, living in the same household, with the same upbringing can turn out to be so utterly and completely different! Over the years I have had multiple occasions to ponder this when Little Sis and Big Sis (that's me) have discovered yet again that we are nothing at all alike.

My sister is a lot younger than I (the first strike against her!) I'm sure just that fact alone is responsible for many of the differences. I didn't have an older sister when I was growing up. She didn't have a younger sister. Also our folks were older, the world was changing, etc. Those kinds of things were just the way it was.

Our temperments differ so much. I am a spendthrift, Little Sis is frugal. I love to sing, dance, act, perform in public. Little Sis would rather be in the audience. School came easy for me, she had to work at it. Yet she is a professional (pharmacist), I was a glorified secretary. I am not at all a homebody. Little Sis is a soccer mom, a band mom, crafter, and outdoorsy. I despise sports and outdoorsy things and I have thousands (well, several) unfinished craft projects lying around. I am independent, totally willing to travel by myself, be alone, drive across county. Little Sis hates to eat in a restaurant by herself, doesn't enjoy being alone, and would never drive any distance by herself lest she get lost or fall asleep on road trips. I'm assertive, even confrontational, and want to work out differences immediately. Little Sis would do almost anything to avoid conflict, any conflict. She doesn't yell. She rarely shares her opinions out loud. People take advantage of her, but she doesn't fight back. She drives me crazy sometimes and I drive her crazy sometimes.

Still, despite our differences, we love each other very much. No one can make me laugh the way she can and vice versa. We tease each other, support each other, listen to each other, commiserate, reminisce, and sympathise with each other. She and I are very different but in one thing we are exactly alike....we are "Sisters" and nothing comes between us, ever!

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"Its a Small World"

It used to be that most people pretty much lived their whole lives in one place. Multiple generations would be in the same place for decades. The place they were born was the place they stayed. Not so much anymore. In fact, many of us move to other cities and other states for business, adventure, marriage, school....lots of different reasons. One of the main offshoots of that is losing touch with people you care about, not just friends but family too. At some point you realize you have no idea what ever happened to "old so and so". Can't write a letter because you have no address. Can't even send an email. Thus, they drift out of your life.

That is changing, big time! Thanks to "Classmates", "Facebook", "Twitter", and the like, more and more of those missing friends and family are showing up on-line. All you have to do to reconnect is agree to be "friends".

Sometimes it happens in even more roundabout ways ~~ to wit:

Now this is a little complicated so bear with me. I met Al in Chicago when we worked together way back in the early 70's. He's a great pianist/ accompaniest. We did a show together and became good friends. I lost track of him when he moved away. Then I met Jean in the late 70's through our mutual involvement in community theater. We became good friends, but drifted apart when I moved away in 1991. (You with me so far?) OK, about 3 years ago, I stumbled onto Al on "Classmates" work places section. He's living in Phoenix (where my sister also lives!). We started emailing jokes and such. Then about 3 or 4 mos ago, Al sent me a joke. In his distribution list was someone with the same name as my old friend Jean. So I asked if it was the same person and of course, it was! Turns out Jean & Al went to high school together in Chicago long before I met either of them!! Now I'm in TX, he's in AZ, and Jean's still in Chicago. We're all back in touch and friends again!

I suppose its not that unusual anymore but it does prove "its a small world" and getting smaller everyday. I hope I find more people soon. Its great, now have lots of "friends"....Facebook says so!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

"Try to Remember"

When I first began working (back in the Dark Ages), it was still the days of mimeographs, typewriters, adding machines, Dictaphones, and carbon paper. At the time, they all seemed like great ways to accomplish the work that needed to be done. They were state-of-the-art business machines. I learned how to be an office professional in that environment and my salary showed it! I thought I was well-paid ~~ I earned the grand total of $2.50 an hour! Honest!

I didn't have much to recommend me. I was a high school graduate, with a few college credits, but that was about it. No advanced degree, no business school certificate, nothing to "prove" I could do the work. Times were different then; I don't think anyone even checked to be sure I actually had a diploma. What I did have was a good work ethic, a willingness to learn, and the ability to write a simple, declarative sentence with all the words spelled correctly!

It must have been enough, because I kept doing essentially the same kind of work for the next 31 years. At the time I retired after this very long career, things had changed! Boy, had they ever! No mimeographs, now its typewriters, now its adding machines, now its calculators and Excel....and no one even knows what a Dictaphone is anymore!

All along the way technology kept changing almost constantly. In order to keep up with it all we had to keep learning and transitioning into the new stuff and one by one the old standbys disappeared. Who needs carbon paper? Just print out multiple copies of your correspondence and send one to everyone in the company from the janitor to the President! Forget posting announcements on the bulletin board down the hall, just send an e-mail or better yet an e-vite! Its a whole new world.

Outside of the office, computers gradually became a way of life for more and more people everyday. Each new innovation brought more applications to reel us in. How did we ever survive before email? I haven't held a deck of cards in my hand since the advent of Online Solitaire. Way too many folks, kids especially, rely on Wikipedia for research (~~ put those poor door-to-door enclyclopedia salesmen right out of business!)

So here we all are. Pretty much wrapped up in on-line games, on-line shopping, on-line information, e-mail, on-line headlines, blogs, You Tube, Twitter, FaceBook, and millions of other ways to wile away your free time, and then some. Before you know it, your eyes rarely leave your computer screen for anything other than the real "necessities" of life. (If there are people out there who actually take their laptops into the bathroom with them, I really don't want to know!!)

I'm retired now and I have lots of time to do the things I've always wanted to do! So what do I do with all this time? You know the answer to that. I'm here -- writing a blog that no one reads....playing a make-believe game with make-believe old friends I haven't seen in decades whose lives have no particular bearing on my life.

We can't help it, you know. The technology is there and its easy to use. Its even actually fun sometimes. But as one of the true dinosaurs still walking the earth, I can say with great sincerity, that we all need to try to remember that it wasn't always like this.

Some years ago I read a science fiction short story (sorry, I can't recall the author or the title) about a society eons into the future. The story told of a civilization in which computers were in charge did just about everything. The discovery of a young man who said he could Add Figures in his Head was astounding! Not just simple things like one + one, but complex multi-digit numbers. No one believed him. They said it couldn't be done; only computers could add. He was tested against the computer and he always got the right total! The powers that be said it was a trick, or sorcery, or a fluke, or a lucky guess. He tried to explain how he did it, but he was never believed. Impossible! Man was not capable of such a feat. They called him names, they tried to discredit him, they tried to hide him, they treated him as a threat to civilization and ultimately, they had him killed. No one knew or could remember that Man had created the machines and once, everyone knew how to add and how to do all sorts of miraculous things ~~ before they let the computers take over because the technology was there, it was easy, and it was even actually fun sometimes.

Try to remember. It's important. Really!

Friday, August 7, 2009


Just so you know, I don't cook anymore. I used to cook but that was a while ago ~~ a long while ago! My mom didn't like to cook either, so I come by it honestly. While I can handle a recipe or make a simple meal, I really don't enjoy cooking. So when Ratchlet went off to college, Mikey and I changed our eating patterns and he did most of the actual cooking.

This worked pretty well, but as the years went by, Mikey started working nights and then last December after working for 35 years, I finally, officially took early retirement. (Pensions are a great thing!) Now there is no one to cook for but me. I didn't like cooking for the family; cooking for just myself just doesn't seem worth the effort. Most nights I would just skip it entirely and eat cookies or chips! Well, you can get really tired of cookies, believe me.

I solved the problem by visiting several of my favorite restaurants frequently. Eating is so much more interesting when someone else prepares the meal, brings it to you, refills your iced tea, and cleans up after you! (Remember, I told you I was basically lazy!) Yes, it costs a bit, but instead of sitting home alone, forcing down a dry sandwich while I watch some tired re-run on TV, now I get mostly balanced meals, have people to talk to, somewhere to sit and read after the meal, and no work! For me its worth the money.

I'll probably get tired of it sooner or later, then I'll have to come up with Plan B. In the meantime, I'm happy and well-fed and suppertime is no longer an exercise in angst! Whoo-hoo!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Heat Wave"

Well, it is now official. 2009 has been the hottest summer ever recorded in Austin (i.e., longest stretch of hot!) We are now up to 42 days with triple digit temperatures. Even I agree that's a wee bit on the warm side~~~~ sizzle, sizzle! After all, we're having a "Heat Wave"!

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