EVENTUALLY MAKES A LONG LIST – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP SATURDAY : Eventually

Be there anyone amongst us who doth not make lists.

Not all my lists are written, mind you. Some are mental. I have a wedding coming up. It’s a very big piece of my “eventually” list and includes:

      • Can we afford reservations anywhere?
      • Am I physically up to a long drive from Massachusetts to Virginia?
      • Is Garry up to a long drive from New England to down there?

These lists used to be smaller and I used to be better at approaching them. I always did things quickly — just to get done with them and not have to worry. Reservations are probably manageable — one way or the other. Probably the other. I really want to go to this wedding.

When I first knew it was happening, I promised myself I would find a way to make it happen. Which automatically put it on my primary “eventually” list. I did not count on how hard I would find just getting through a normal day. Or how exhausted I would be after even a minimal effort.

Why am I so tired? My back is badly broken and my heart is tired. The back is both broken and arthritic. It hurts. I have better medication than I used to, so that’s a good thing, but the heart is a whole other issue.

The heart is genetic and I never knew I had. Most people who have the problem are unaware of it until it kills them. I was lucky I discovered it before it killed me. I was born with it. Probably so was my father and for all I know, my mother too. I’ve already had major surgery to repair it which involved installing two replacement valves, an electronic (metal) Pacemaker, and surgery which remodeled the entire left ventricle and a bypass.

The problem was my heart walls continue to thicken. The walls become inflexible. It’s harder for the valves to work – which means my red blood cell count drops which probably explains why I’ve had problems with minimal anemia since I was a kid. So far, though, it has never dropped dangerously low.

Can I get there and enjoy it? Can Garry make it? He isn’t good with long drives anymore. He used to love driving. For that matter, I used to love driving!

There are a lot other eventually lists. I’m not sure I can take a long walk to take pictures. I finally use the chair lift because hauling myself up and down the stairs isn’t going to improve my spine or my heart. The heart will get worse until it stops working.  No one will redo the surgery. I figure I’ve got another five years if I’m careful and a little bit lucky. Maybe longer. They keep improving the technology, so maybe they’ll come up with a miracle drug — and it will even be affordable.

The way we were – September 15, 1990

But that’s not so bad, right? I’ve had a full life. Not a super long one, but not cut excessively short either. Eventually is the rest of my life. There is so much eventually waiting for me to get to it.

Sometimes, I think, “What if I win the lottery? Could I somehow manage to travel to Europe and see Paris?” When we hit our 25th-anniversary and I wanted to go to Paris because I always wanted to see Paris (though I think I wanted to see the Paris that disappeared 100 years ago), we didn’t go. If you can’t walk, what do you do in Paris? If you can’t walk through Versailles or the Louvre — or walk those cobblestone streets — what else is there to do?

We went to visit Ben in Arizona and that was actually fantastic. The dry heat improved my ability to breathe and my spine hurt a lot less. I don’t know if I could live in that kind of heat all the time, but winter in Arizona is heavenly.

All my eventually lists are waiting for me. Sometimes, I forget what’s on the lists and by the time I remember, it’s too late. This time, though, I have to deal with it. One way or the other, it’s on top.

BLASPHEMY! – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Blasphemy

Yesterday, or really the day before, I discovered yet one more “website” set somewhere in Asia is reusing a ton of WordPress and other copyrighted material on his/her/their website.

I’ve seen these sites before. I figure if they aren’t trying to sell pornography or illegal drugs, I might as well not worry about it. Because my stuff is all over the Internet and no amount of actual copyrighting or trademarking is going to stop anyone from using the material.

It annoys the hell out of me, but I’m not planning to use the material in a book, so it’s not a matter of “earning a living” and probably, after seven years of blogging, it’s a little late to worry about who is picking up my material to use on their  sites.

Why these sites thrive is completely beyond my understanding.

I did make a few changes to my site. Not that it will make any real difference. Some of these changes I wanted to make anyway. I removed the “reblog button” from my posts. If someone wants to reblog me, they can ask and I’ll let them, but in any case, the presence or absence of the click-button doesn’t make any difference. If someone wants to use the material, all they have to do it copy and paste it.

Essentially, WordPress talks a lot about security but offers none. Anyone can become a follower of any site without anyone’s permission. Anyone can reblog your writing and photographs for any purpose, no matter what official “advertisements” WordPress posts. The blasphemous, felonious, and illegal use of our material is damned near-universal.

So this is what — for whatever good it does — I have done. I removed the categories and tags, which I wanted to do anyway. All they do is make the screen busier. I dumped the reblog button which is just like putting up a neon sign suggesting whoever it is to copy our material.

None of these changes will stop anything. Short of giving up blogging, I’m already doomed and so is everyone else.

But I knew that anyway. The good news? My screen looks a lot tidier.

The bad news? Anyone who wants my stuff can use it and no doubt will. At least I’m old and not trying to make my living off this blog!

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG? – Marilyn Armstrong

Mid-Week Word Prompt – Haywire

We have a guaranteed way of making everything go haywire. All you have to do is say the following words:

I absolutely guarantee should you speak these words prior to any planned event … the universe will conspire to prove exactly how much can indeed go wrong!

These are the “haywire” words. You should never say them and if possible, don’t even think them!

EXACERBATE — NOT THE SAME AS EXASPERATE – Marilyn Armstrong

Daily Word Prompt – Exacerbate – 06/18/19

A long time ago, when Garry and I still lived in Boston and both of us were working, we used to get both Boston newspapers delivered daily to our townhouse in Roxbury. I mostly scanned them and read Doonesbury, but Garry pretty much read both papers cover to cover, but always from the back to the front because the sports and entertainment were in the back. He was dedicated to the news in a professional way, but he was personally dedicated to sports and entertainment. So he started with the fun stuff and moved frontwards.

Happy kidneys

I was doing what I did for a living which was writing or editing manuals — or doing both — depending on the size of the project and how each job was defined. I was in “auto-correct” mode and often found myself unconsciously correcting errors in the newspapers. Usually, these were typos, misprints, incorrect tenses, or clumsy writing. I forgave most of it because people who write for the news — any news service be it TV, radio, or press — are under constant deadline pressure. They have to get it right and on time.

So there I was, reading the Boston Herald. Not my favorite newspaper, but it had better comics and a bigger sports section, which made Garry happy. The Boston Globe had better writers. Or, perhaps, they were encouraged to be better writers at the Globe, while the Herald prided itself on being “down to earth.”

There had been an unfortunate event. I think it happened during a police training camp for upcoming recruits. The weather was very hot and the training instructor refused to let anyone stop for a drink of water, even in nearly 100-degree heat.

One of the recruits had a kidney problem, unbeknownst to the drill sergeant and the heat and lack of water caused him to die of kidney failure. It was quite a scandal and it ultimately changed the way recruits are trained.

In the Boston Herald, they wrote: ” … and with the weather so hot, the young man’s kidneys, which were already damaged, became exasperated causing the recruit to die.”

Unhappy kidneys

I know it was a tragedy. Truly, it was. And I realized that this was probably an autocorret error. Autocorrect had decided the writer couldn’t possibly mean “exacerbated” and must have meant “exasperated.”

I had a sudden weird mental image of his kidneys throwing up their hands or whatever kidneys throw into the air and saying, “That’s it. I’ve HAD it. I’m outta here.”

The poor young man suffered from exasperated kidneys.

I’m not sure what the moral of the story is except if you are writing for the news, you should probably turn off autocorrect.

GRATIS (PLUS SHIPPING AND HANDLING) – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Gratis

I love late night local television advertisements. Garry and I sometimes sing along with the text. It’s remarkably similar from one ad to the next, regardless of what is being sold.

“It’s free! Gratis! All you have to pay is shipping and handling!” The price for which is usually more than the item is worth. For a while, this was the thing on auction sites. The price? One cent. Shipping and handling were a mere $19.95.

“And if you buy one now, you can get a second one free. Plus shipping and handling.”

I get the shipping, which is a lot less than they are charging … but what’s the handling thing? Picking the item up and sticking it in a box? Adding a label? Collecting the money?

Maybe you are being charged “extra” because they have to drive to the bank with your money?

“And even better: But NOW and you can have three — that’s right! — THREE of these amazing (knives, shampoos, weight loss products, tire pressure gauges, ad nauseum) for the same low, low price of nothing except the minor cost of shipping and handling!”

They never tell you the price of the shipping and handling. With good reason! Is this how people buy those weird gifts you get at Christmas? In those bright boxes that say “As shown on TV”?

My first professional writing job that wasn’t for radio was writing these advertisements. They appear in print, too. You’ve seen them. They are full-page ads in cheesy magazines. They used to show up in the back of comic books. They pay about $800 for each ad. If you do them often, you can create a boilerplate for them and churn out a dozen a week.

Ah, I bet now I’ve got your attention!

I’VE MADE CONTACT! – Marilyn Armstrong

SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THOSE WHO NEVER GOT THE MEMO FROM GOOGLE AND CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THEIR CONTACT LIST

Google is always changing the browser. As soon as you get used to it, they do something to “fix” it. The most recent change was that “contacts” are now a separate section, not part of the email application.

I was lucky. I (entirely accidentally) read the single note Google sent to tell everyone that contacts would now be available only by clicking a group of small boxes on the right top of the screen which will be visible only if you have the email page open. If you aren’t using the inbox or you are, but another page is open, you can’t see the little boxes. Your contacts remain invisible until you realize that you have to have the inbox visible to see the other stuff.

I’m sure there’s a logical reason why they’ve done it this way, but I haven’t worked it out. Yet.

Even if you know how to find your contacts, you may not be able to find the contact you want. This is because you can’t categorize anything by company or profession. Everything is listed by the first name. This becomes a bit of an issue if your doctor’s name is “John” and so are 75 other people on your list. When I’m trying to find my cardiologist, I don’t remember his first name. I may not even know it. These days, it’s possible I don’t remember his last name either. What I remember is “cardiologist.”

Also, there’s nowhere to write addresses. You have to go into a section titled “more” and “advanced.” Within that section, search and thou shalt find a section for “address.”

Apparently, we don’t need addresses anymore. We can list as many emails as we like — but no physical address. This is inconvenient when it’s a place you need to go. Physically go. Like — the cardiologist, for example.

I should mention that they’ve made the calendar similarly inconvenient and I didn’t get a note about that one, but I wasn’t surprised. You have to keep those developers busy!

The company’s name is no longer a search column. The only way you can use it is to substitute it instead of the name. Otherwise, it’s the first name of whoever you are looking for. Period. No choice. A bit bizarre, but hey, it’s still free. That’s something, right?

You may think I’m picking on Google, but it took close to 45 minutes to enter the local pot shop information into my contacts form, including their email address and physical address. Fortunately, they still consider the phone number part of basic information, but who knows for how long?

So, just to back up a little bit, yesterday, in a fit of enthusiasm for Uxbridge’s newly opened Pot Shop, also known as “Caroline’s Cannabis Uxbridge Marijuana Dispensary,” I decided to add their address to my contact list. This was when I made the remarkable discovery that the contact list no longer automatically includes a physical address section. You have to ask for advanced material and then you get an insanely complicated bunch of stuff.

Is it me? Isn’t there supposed to be a physical address to go with a contact’s phone number? For that matter, you need to go into “advanced” for the website address too.

Although I don’t go out as much as I used to, there are places I have to go. The Pot Shop is one such place. The grocery store, the bank, all doctor’s offices, and hospital too. There are places where I have to take my physical self that are not medical — like (for example) Home Depot.

Apparently, no one goes anywhere anymore, so getting somewhere to write down a physical address is an “Advanced Contact Item.”

Seriously?

One of the things I learned about writing software is that developers put information wherever it fits conveniently on the screen. They don’t actually care whether you — the user — will find that location useful or convenient. They say “Oh, there’s an empty space in the  “color droplet” menu, so I think I’ll put the leveling control there.” They have no idea how you will use the software and they really don’t care. They know how it works (or think they know). The rest is your problem. And now that there is no manual either … good luck with that.

No one would ever look there for a leveling tool since it has nothing to do with all the rest of the items on the list, but that’s where they put it and that is where it still resides. I had to do a deep dive into Google to locate the function.

It is for this reason that I have a little paper booklet in my bag that has basic information about places I go in it. Addresses, names, and a few little directions. Because my body needs to get there, too.

FANDANGO’S PROVOCATIVE QUESTION #27 – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #27

The question this week is exactly the kind of question I do not ever want to answer. It might be a question nobody wants to answer unless they are a medical researcher with skin in the game, so to speak.


“If you could choose one — and only one — particular malady, condition, or disease for which a safe and effective treatment was available, what one condition would you choose to treat and why is that your choice?”


As someone with more maladies than I care to list, some likely to kill me, others just likely to be a serious pain in my back, exactly how would I pick?

I have absolutely no idea what I should pick. Cancer? It has managed to kill about three-quarters of my closest family. Heart disease took the rest — and I’ve already had both, big time. Or maybe I should vote for arthritis? Unlikely to kill me, but very likely to make living increasingly unpleasant.

I’m pretty sure they are doing significant research on all of these diseases. Cure them? Who knows? But they have come a very long way in treating both cancer and heart disease. Arthritis lags behind, likely for a couple of obvious reasons the first being that almost everyone gets it.

It probably is not preventable unless old age is preventable. Also, it isn’t lethal, which means it doesn’t generate the money for “cures” that more fatal diseases garner.

I’ve got it! Let’s cure aging!

I don’t mind going gray or wrinkly. But let’s dump arthritis, exhaustion, bad hips, worn-out knees, loss of memory, and insomnia. While we are at it, cure dementia and Alzheimer’s. Add a little zip to our steps so we can be old, wise, and energetic. So we can still be who we have always been — right up until that last breath.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

And please, while you are at this curing business, make sure everyone has full access to medical care, no matter what is wrong with them.