Month: November 2012

Sisterhood is powerful! Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

I could not resist the opportunity to join the Sisterhood of World Bloggers. It’s not for the award, though awards are nice. It’s for the pleasure of sisterhood, something in which I believe with my whole heart. Throughout my life, my greatest supports and warmest relationships … and my most long-lasting relationships … have been with women.

Women have supported me, encouraged me, consoled me, and protected me. They have commiserated and rejoiced with me during the best and worst of times. I would be honored to be part of such a group. I am, not surprisingly, hoping to link up through my fine friend Sharla Shults at CatnipOfLife … a woman who deserves all the honors she gets and more.

There are rules for this award which are basically the same as for most any blog award received. The last part, deciding on recipients for this award, is exceptionally difficult. How does one choose from all those who have visited and provided support for catnipoflife? To me, you are all my ‘sisters’ (of course, there are ‘brothers’ too but their honor will need to come in a different form). For a sisterhood, why should some be selected while others are left out? Since there is no other criteria for selection other than choice and even though this is not exactly the intention of the rules, it is the decision of catnipoflife:

All of my ‘Sisters’ are Welcome to the
Sisterhood of the World Bloggers!

Acceptance is contingent upon the following:

  1. Leave a comment that you would like to be a member of the Sisterhood.
  2. Grab the badge for posting to your blog, thank whoever gave you this award and provide a link to her blogsite.
  3. Answer the following 10 questions in your blog posting.
  4. Nominate and provide the links to 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read OR follow the same procedure as Catnip and I have used. [If you choose to bestow the award on special sisters, be sure to kindly let the recipients know they have been invited into the sisterhood.]
  5. Return here as soon as your posting is complete to provide a link to your blogsite. Those links will be added to this posting as comments of completion are received.

Here are the 10 Questions

  1. What is your favorite colour? Red
  2. What is your favorite animal? Dogs but I could as easily say horses, cats, tigers, lions, or ferrets … If it’s furry and four-footed, I love it!
  3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink? Coffee!!
  4. Facebook or Twitter? Neither. Can you email me at fivedawgz@gmail.com?
  5. What is your favorite pattern? Black Watch Tartan
  6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? Giving unless it’s something really cool :-)
  7. What is your favorite number? 18, which in Hebrew means ” Chai” or life.
  8. What is your favorite day of the week? Wednesday because that’s the day the social security checks come in.
  9. What is your favorite flower? Lilacs
  10. What is your passion? Reading, writing, and photography … and learning. Because learning is living and when you stop learning, you stop really being alive. Thus I have always been.
DoingforOthers1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections – Smooth Water Like a Mirror

No news isn’t good news. It’s just no news.

My husband was a newsman for his whole career, more than forty years. Through him I learned that a busy news day is generally a good thing if news is your business, though the news is rarely good for anything but higher ratings.

Now I find myself in a sort of newsy business and I realize the true meaning of a “slow news day.” I’m beginning to recognize that there is such a thing as a slow news week, maybe month. Not that nothing is going on. It’s  just that nothing is going on that anyone is going to find particularly interesting or entertaining.

I don’t cover, as Garry did, breaking news stories, but I like writing about current issues and events. Big events that impact everyone include me. The presidential election — such a vicious, contentious, nasty election — with so much at stake during my first few months of blogging let me grab a piece of the momentum of events. I had the opportunity to weigh in on  “hot topics” that put me on the blogging map faster than I really deserved. It was interesting and there was so much to write about. Controversy and big news improves readership.

And then … one day …

The election was over. It took a few weeks for the winners to stop gloating and the losers to stop pouting, but most of them seem to have gotten the message and have gone off to lick their wounds or celebrate in private. So newswise, it got really quiet in a big hurry. The weather is back to being the biggest part of the news … and of course, football. A bit of snow … ooh …. pictures to take, something to talk about. Trades in the baseball off-season … can the Sox pull themselves out of the septic tank into which they fell by the end of last season?

We had barely finished counting the votes before Thanksgiving was upon us. Now the rest of the holiday season is bearing down on us like a freight train with failing brakes. instead of solving the problems of the world, we are back to dealing with family politics, wrapping paper and sticky tape, celebrations and money, guest lists and travel plans. Instead of frothing at the mouth over national politics, we are banging our heads against our empty bank accounts.

The national economic calamity we were told to expect, that  dreaded “fiscal cliff”  vanished as a paralyzing wave of commonsense swept over congress. Our democratic process did it again: the people spoke, the defeated far right GOP agenda having been soundly rejected by the electorate created a wondrous atmosphere of coöperation and compromise. Barely a week ago our nation was about to fall off the mountaintop. Not only the U.S. economy, but the economy of the entire world was going to be swept  away and we would be reduced to a stone age barter economy, trading beads for chickens. Yet now, oddly enough, the cliff is not a cliff; disaster is not looming.

Go home Chicken Little. The sky is not, after all, falling.

Chicken Little (2005 film)

So there’s no news. No fresh disasters or huge controversies. A few sleazy scandals, but nothing anyone will remember a week from now. The donut hole in my Medicare prescription coverage is much the same as last year; I still don’t know how I’m going to both eat and get my meds, but I’m not surprised.  I’ve still got a mortgage that exceeds the value of the house and as I have done for years past and I guess will do forever, wonder how we are can survive on a fixed income while prices keep rising.

Ho hum. Same old, same old. I have no idea how we are going to manage but we will, somehow. Or not. Besides, 2012 has a month remaining. Maybe the Mayans were right and I don’t have anything to worry about because we aren’t going to be around to greet the New Year. Is the end of days New Year’s Eve?

No news. Just the everyday struggles of a tired population hoping things will get better and wondering what will become of us.

In a strange way it made my entry into blogging easier because we were in the middle of a violent acrimonious political upheaval, massive destructive storms, and all that distracting, fascinating stuff. It was such momentous, monstrous news that everyone got to forget for a while that for most of us, nothing changed.

We have the same problems we had before. We were unemployed before, we are still unemployed. Our health was poor and hasn’t improved. Our bills are bigger than our budgets and no one is giving us any money to pay them. And it’s Christmas, time to figure out how to make it festive but somehow cost-free.

A new year is going to start, Mayans aside. And we are back to the very unthrilling business of, to quote Tom Lehrer, “sliding down that razor blade of life.”

It’s that damned wormhole again …

2013 is the 50th anniversary of my high school graduation. That’s five zero. Half a century.

After so many years, one might suppose my memories would be fuzzy enough that I could delude myself into believing I had fun in those opening years of the 1960s.

This has come up because a few of the people with whom I apparently attended high school want to have a reunion. Not the entire graduating class of more than 1200 people. This is a smaller sub-group of people who claim to actually know me and want to see me again. They say they remember me and all the neat stuff we did together.

I think they are deranged. Whatever they think they remember, as far as I can tell, didn’t happen. I do not want to go to the party.  I said no when I was contacted by phone, but they keep sending me invitations by email … endless variations of the same thing. Lists of names I don’t recognize. I know I’m not young, but I’m not senile either. Who ARE these people?

I am considering the possibility I slipped through a wormhole and am in an alternate reality, which would explain how come they know me, but I don’t know them. Yeah, that’s probably it.

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I was not a popular high school student. Even amongst the unpopular students, I was unpopular. Fortunately, by the time I had survived junior high, now known as “middle school” but back in those good old days, referred to simply as Hell, I had learned to be invisible. Attending a really huge school helped. It was so big and crowded, you could slither through all three years (10th, 11th and 12th grades) and if you kept your head down, no one would know your name. I only got attacked by junior thuglets once (not bad considering what an oddball I was) and participated in group activities only if dragged screaming and kicking, usually because someone needed an accompanist and I played the piano.

A klutzy young thing, I avoided the traditional humiliation of the athletically challenged by claiming I didn’t know how to swim. When I showed up, the swimming coach would say “You again? Just keep out-of-the-way,” and thus I got an hour a day of private swim time alone in the deep end of our Olympic-sized pool. I think I was on the swimming team, but I didn’t actually ever swim in an event. I was a bench sitter. And, apparently, the only girl in high school who didn’t care if my hair got wet.

So all I had to do was get decent grades, try not fail my math courses, and then I could go to college where I heard I might actually meet people who I’d like and might like me too. It turned out to be true, so surviving high school was probably worth it. But now, like a malevolent spirit,  fellow graduates of Jamaica High School want me to come to their party. They even think I should pay for the privilege.

If I could remember any of them, I might consider it. No, that’s a lie. You’d have to drug me then drag my unconscious carcass there before I regained consciousness.

High school wasn’t a fun time. Not for me. Fifty years later I can’t think of a single reason to revisit an experience I would as soon have skipped in the first place.

And now, a word from our sponsor:

The End of the World in 2012 | Top Secret Writers

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

End of Days. Ragnarok. Armageddon. We have heard all of these terms before. These are the terms used throughout the generations to describe the end of the world.

Men and women have been prophesying about the end since the beginning. Each “prophecy” claims a new era will be ushered in through massive change and, usually, massive loss of human life.

The first of these theories started to appear with the emergence of organized religion. It seems that every major religion as an end of the world theory. Even science as had its own end of the world theories, such as millennium bug, giant asteroids, and global warming.

The newest theory is the 2012 theory. This theory states that the world will end or, at the very least, drastically change on December 21, 2012. The end of the world in 2012 theory is based on the 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mayan Long Count calendar.

The calendar, widely used on Mayan and other Mesoamerican monuments, uses a modified base-20 count to identify a single day by counting the total number of days that has passed since the creation. This creation is given in detail in the Mayan book Popol Vuh.

However, this end-of-the-world in 2012 theory is not detailed anywhere on the Mayan Long Count or in the Popol Vuh. The “end” referred to in these Mayan writings simply mark the end of one count and the beginning of another.

The end of the world theory derived from these is actually a modern interpretation. However, this modern interpretation has split into to factions. One faction interprets the “end” as new era where the world and the beings living in it will experience a change equivalent to a new enlightenment. The other faction is not so optimistic. It is this faction that receives all the media hype with its tales of global destruction and mass human extinction.

Who’s right? Well, mainstream science and most Mayan scholars agree: neither. Mainstream science actually views the theories that the Mayan Long Count will usher in a world ending cataclysm are contradicted by simple scientific observations.

Mainstream Mayan Historians view theories as a gross misunderstanding of Mayan history and culture. Mayan writing and documents are very hard to come by and the ones that are available do not shed much light on the subject.

Neither science nor Mayan history seems to view December 21, 2012 any more significant than December 20 or December 23.

The only significance that December 21, 2012 holds is that it marks the date of the winter solstice. On this day, the shortest day, longest night, and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is at its lowest can be observed. It could be possible that this was a day of celebration for the ancient Mayans. The winter solstice is a day of celebration for many cultures (ancient and modern) around the world. However, there is no such celebration in present day Mayan culture, and modern-day Mayans do not view the day as significant in any way.

Modern day scientists and scholars say that the end-of-the-world in 2012 theory is nothing more than a sensationalized rumor created to sell books, newspapers, and television ads. Believers of the 2012 theory argue that science has been wrong before and December 21, 2012 will throw the Earth and its inhabitants in a period of change and destruction.

Who should we believe? Should we go on about our daily lives? Should prepare for the end? With all of the contradictions and hype, what is the average human being to do?

My advice: remember Y2K.

See on www.topsecretwriters.com

First snow, just a dusting …

It’s like an early warning system. It’s not really cold enough for snow to stick around, though it’s cold enough after the sun goes down to cling to tree branches and  unpaved surfaces.

Like powdered sugar dropped on our cake, the world is lightly covered in white. It’s not the real thing and it will be gone by afternoon. Not enough to shovel or even to disrupt traffic, but it’s a bell ringing that says “winter is on the way … ” Shake out the sweaters, find last year’s boots and coats. It’s coming … but for now, it’s just a nudge, a suggestion, a hint of what lies ahead.

Everyday goodies that make a difference …

I write a lot about computers and computer-related equipment. I also write a good deal about photography and photographic equipment. Strangely missing from my writing are the many “low tech” items on which I depend and many of which are so integral to my life that I don’t know how I would manage without them. Most of these were reviewed on Amazon, which for a variety of reasons, is my shopping site of choice. Most of these items are available elsewhere, but not around here.

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Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16 Ounce Capacity
Price: $7.99

Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16-Ounce Capacity (Kitchen)

Copco 2510-9963 Acadia Reusable To-Go Mug, 16-Ounce CapacityEver since Dunkin Donuts “improved” their cups, I have been looking for travel cups with a screw top that are big enough (16 oz.), will fit in my car’s cup holders, and will help me not spill my coffee into my computer keyboard. I have very specific preferences in lidded cups. I hate handles and the pressure fitted lids that explode all over the place when you open them.

I was actually searching for a new coffee machines — not finding what I wanted — and there were these cups. I read other reviews, then ordered 4 of them.

I don’t know how I lived without them. They are solid and the screw tops have a rubber gasket inside the lid that, assuming you get the lid on straight, keeps the coffee in the cup and off your clothing and equipment. It also keeps your coffee warm much longer than most of these cups.  They required just a quarter turn to open or close and you don’t have to jiggle it around to get it to fit on straight. They don’t have handles to get in the way and they fit comfortably into auto cup holders. They are not bad-looking, either. AND they were very reasonably priced.

Well designed, right-sized, and a great price! I haven’t drowned a keyboard since I got these about a year ago. That’s a record.


Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087)
Offered by LLYtech
Price: $14.71

Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087)Logitech Wireless Mouse M310 Dark Aces (910-002087) (Personal Computers)

I have a lot of computers in my home, 8 or 9 at last count. I have 4 of these mouses (don’t argue; mice are fuzzy and squeak, mouses are electronic and point). One lost a foot after heavy use and has become a back up  … but it still works. These never die from use. If you drop them often enough, they might break, although I can’t count the number of times I’ve dropped mine and it doesn’t seem to mind … but wear out? Not in my experience.

I’ve had many mouses from many manufacturers and my favorites have all been from Logitech. Of the many Logitech mouses — and they certainly make a wide variety from ultra high-tech to basic and compact — this model is my favorite, not only mine, but everyone in the house. It’s a good size for any hand, large or small. It’s comfortable, accurate, and it doesn’t have any bells or whistles which for me is a big plus. The transmitter is tiny; you can leave it in your laptop. It won’t get in the way when you pack the computer in its case, even if it’s a tightly fitting case. Its one of the ones that theoretically you can use to operate multiple devices, but I’ve never succeeded to making it perform properly and inevitably wind up using a receiver for each device. It works without special software. It has what you need, no extra doodads, wheels, or buttons to annoy me. I have had fancier mouses and hated them. I always return to this model.

It comes in more colors and designs than I can count and at least one of them is always on sale. If you aren’t picky about the color, you can find what you one  at a price you can afford. If you’re picky, you can pay more and get something that will match your computer, your decor, or your shoes. This one tickled my fancy. It’s a bit girly, but I’m a girl. I gave my husband the solid red one, which was okay with him and took this one, which he felt was a tad feminine for his taste. My granddaughter has a blue striped one. My son has a grey one with some sort of design. Other than the color on the casing, they are exactly the same and work precisely the way you want a mouse to work.

I love Logitech products. I have Logitech keyboards, mouses, speakers, and other accessories. They are well made, reasonably priced, and last forever. You can’t ask for more.


Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles
Price: $29.99

Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles

Lodge Logic L8DOL3 Pre-Seasoned 5-Quart Dutch Oven with Loop Handles (Kitchen)

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Stuck as I am with an electric range, the Lodge series of cast iron solve so many problems. Their flat bottoms work fine on my smooth top stove. I’m sure it would work just as well on a gas range. Great cookware.

You can keep a pot of chili or pasta sauce simmering without scorching for hours … and there is nothing easier to maintain than cast iron. Treated with even minimal care, these will last forever and are as non-stick as Teflon without the side effects.

It’s easier to clean than even the best stainless steel, better quality and a more durable almost anything … certainly more so than fancy and much more expensive brands.  I’ve owned all kinds of cookware over the past 40 years and finally, came back to where I started: nothing is better than cast iron and Lodge makes excellent cookware in all the right shapes and sizes. Whatever you need, they make it and you can probably afford it. It doesn’t get better than this.

If there is a fault, it is that it is very heavy. This pot, when full, weighs a lot. NOT something to pick up with one hand!

That being said, I have a whole set of this cookware and I love and use every single piece of it. It’s the best.


Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker
Price: $29.99
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Lodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo CookerLodge LCC3 Logic Pre-Seasoned Combo Cooker (Kitchen)

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Talk about useful, this is as close to a pot that will do everything as any pot possibly could. Chili pot, frying pan, dutch over, stew pot … that and more. If it has a flaw, it is the problem with all good cast iron … it is heavy. This is a very substantial piece of cast iron and when it is full, even heavier (obviously). It can be difficult for someone with weak wrists to lift. That being said, its advantages hugely outweigh any problems. It heats evenly and keeps an even temperature. It works very well on my flat-topped electric range because it has a flat, smooth bottom. No small thing if you are stuck with using an electric stove. I should think it would work even better on a gas range.

It holds enough to feed a family, if not a crowd. It is the perfect pot for a couple and is my go-to pot for just about everything. Season it properly, treat it as cast iron requires and you will have a lifetime of use from it. Best pot I’ve ever owned and that includes some absurdly expensive pieces from big name manufacturers. The frying pan top is relatively shallow and you can use it as you would a griddle. Great for eggs … or pancakes. Or anything else, actually. I recommend this without reservation.


Dial AA and AAA Battery Storage Box
Offered by MMP Living
Price: $4.04

Dial AA Battery Storage BoxDial AA Battery Storage Box (Kitchen)

It’s exactly what it says it is … and just what I need.  After I made the big move to rechargeable AA and AAA batteries, figuring out what to do with them so they wouldn’t get lost became increasingly urgent. You’d think it would be no big deal to find a convenient and inexpensive box in which to store your charged batteries … but you would be wrong. Most of the boxes are fancy, expensive … overkill in the extreme.  Then, I found this and the problem went away. Light, small, closes securely.

Good rechargeable batteries are expensive, so you don’t want to lose them. You can pay a lot of money for something fancy that does the same thing, but this works, holds both AA and AAA. It’s the no frills solution.  Sturdy and worth the money.


OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder
Price: $19.99

OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder (Kitchen)
OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Utensil Holder

I like to keep utensils within reach while I’m cooking. This means next to the stove on the counter top. I want to be able to grab things I use for daily cooking without searching. Many times, I’d just as soon not leave whatever is cooking, even for a couple of minutes, so having things within arm’s reach and visible matters.

I’ve used all kinds of containers to hold the spatulas, wooden spoons, and those myriad hand tools I use daily, but none of them enabled me to keep them in any kind of order so that I could grab what I wanted without dumping everything all over the place. This container is the best looking container I’ve found, but its design is also practical. It fit in a narrow space, yet it holds a lot of utensils and keeps them upright and separated. It contains everything I need and with room for more. I thought I was being self-indulgent when I bought it, but it has turned out to be a big improvement in “kitchen dynamics.” Easy to clean, too.


Eco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler – Double Wall 16 oz. Capacity – Smoke
Offered by California Tools
Price: $2.99

Eco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler - Double Wall -16oz. Capacity - SmokeEco To Go Cold Drink Tumbler – Double Wall 16 oz. Capacity – Smoke

I am always toting a drink around with me, usually fruit juice. It’s next to me when I travel, watch TV and most importantly, work at the computer. I am not the most graceful individual and have knocked over a lot of drinks over the years. I get particularly twitchy about having a glass of liquid next to the computer and have been looking for a cold drink cup with a good cover for years. This is IT. It’s big enough, solidly made, keeps stuff cold, is easy to clean and sturdy. It fits fine in my car’s cup holders too. And finally, with 3 dogs in the house, I spend a lot less time worrying about a wagging tail sending my drink flying! The screw on lid fits on easily and the rubber gasket forms a nice, tight seal. It is NOT dishwasher or microwave safe, but I don’t care about that. I have plenty of other glasses and cups that I can nuke. These are GREAT cups. The clumsy computer user’s best pal.


Case Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-Black
Price: $5.98

Case Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-BlackCase Logic JDS-6 USB Drive Shuttle 6-Capacity-Black (Personal Computers)


Always losing your flash drives? This may help. It’s got 6 slots, it zips shut, it’s a nice little case and gives you someplace to put them where you may actually find them again. Before I bought this case, I lost my flash drives almost as soon as I bought them. Since I got this simple little case, I can find my flash drives. Sounds like no big deal? Do  you now where your flash drives are? I do.

So many things, so little time … I’ll post more soon.

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