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.

“COMMANDER? I’VE MADE CONTACT!” – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Contacts

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 email.

I was lucky. I actually read the note they sent that reminded me that contacts would now be available only by clicking a group of small boxes on the right top of the screen which will ONLY be visible if you happen to be using email at that moment. If you aren’t using email, you won’t see the little boxes and you won’t be able to find your contacts. There’s logic in there somewhere, but I’m just missing it.

Company name is no longer a default search column. You have to look under the first name of whoever you are looking for. Like, say, your cardiologist whose first name is John. I don’t think of him as “John.” I think of him as “my cardiologist” or at least, “Cardiology, UMass Hospital.”

You may think I’m picking on Google, but yesterday, 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 physically go. The Pot Shop, assuming I go there for some reason other than to take pictures for a post, is one such place. The grocery store, the bank, all doctor’s offices, and hospital addresses too. There are places where I have to take my physical self that isn’t medical like (for example) the local 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 and the rest is your problem.

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.

REMEMBER WHAT? – Marilyn Armstrong

Every night, I fill up my cup, grab my bag o’ medications, pet the puppies, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house.

After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed to its TV viewing angle. Turn on the television for Garry. He watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my blue-tooth speaker. I put my medications into a cup which is really the lid from a medicine bottle. Convenient and it keeps little round pills from rolling off the table.

I never remember everything. Typically, I forget to turn off the fan in the living room or in winter, turn down the thermostat. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t.

“Ah,” I think. “Thermostat.” I go back to the living room. Turn down the temperature. Pet the dogs. Assure them they are not getting another biscuit no matter how cute they are.

Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. Need to refill antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the big bottle is stored. Fending off the dogs, I limp back to the bedroom. And get the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else.

Ah, that’s right. I left an extra light on in the living room. Up the hall to the living room. Turn off light. I am currently embattled with the electric company about my bill. I pet the dogs again, which with three dogs always involves some kind of weird arrangement of arms and hands. Then, it’s back to the bedroom.

Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. I recently relocated all of our copies of National Geographics and The New Yorker to a shelf in the bathroom. Right in front of the toilet. I suppose I have only myself to blame.

He settles into watching highlights of a Sox game, followed by a movie or three. I turn on my audiobook.

An hour later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy. Everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic sets in.

Which is when I realize all the pills are still in the cup. Where I put them. Like two hours ago. With all the walking up and down the hallway, I never got around to taking them which explains why they aren’t working.

I laugh. Garry takes off his headphones long enough for me to explain why. I got to the punchline, he looks at me and says: “You didn’t take them?” He Laughs — and puts the headphones back.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines, calendars, and Google. If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re less likely to forget. Or fail to remember if we did it today or yesterday. If that fails, there’s Google.

Google is not useful for remembering if I have a doctor’s appointment or whether or not I called in that prescription, but it’s great for all the other trivia of life. All the missing words, titles of books, movies, TV shows, actors, historical events, kinds of dogs.

Actually, I use posts the same way. I may not remember whatever it is, but the odds are pretty good I wrote it down in a post. If I could only remember the title of the post!

The other evening, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right, usually. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy. If I remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog.

Recently, they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be to find simple information. In fact, the whole AKC site seems to be a place to sell puppies — something I find more than a little suspicious.

I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same kind of pooch as the dog Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it.

Search for: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.” Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show. First I had to find the name of the show.

Search for: “long-running comedy on TV about a psychiatrist.” Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first appeared, but I couldn’t remember its name, either.

One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

SHORT DIVISION – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Division

“Mom?”

“Yes. son?”

“We’re learning long division in school. I hate it. What’s short division? Maybe I would like short division better?”

“Son,” she answered, “Short division is what you can do with the fingers of one hand using just five fingers. If it doesn’t fit on five fingers, you will need medium division which uses two hands — ten fingers — after which it becomes long division for which you need a pencil and paper. At this stage, I use the calculator and a computer.”

“Oh,” he said. “Thanks.”

“And son?”

“Yes?”

“If it gets even more complicated? There’s always Google. Never forget Google.”

“You’re a real pal, Mom.”

“I know, kid.”

WHERE THE HELL ARE MY CARKEYS? – Tom Curley

First off, this isn’t a blog about “Senior Moments”. You know, like when you get up and go into another room and the second you enter the other room you can’t for the life of you remember why you’re there.

drz.org
drz.org

The annoying part is that the only way to remember why you went in there is to go back to the room you started in. As soon as you do, you immediately remember why you got up in the first place.

“Oh right. I really have to pee.”

No, this blog is about memory and memories. Why does my brain work the way it does? Why do I remember some things and not others?

Let me explain.

I went to college. I was a biology major and pre-med. I took lots and lots of science courses; biology, physics, math, and chemistry. I got good grades. All A’s or B’s.

I learned lots of stuff. I knew calculus. I knew what a derivative was. No, not the financial thingies that caused the global crash of 2008. But equations that started with dy/dx, or something like that.

Notice the past tense in these last sentences? I “knew” all these things. Today, all that information is gone! Vanished, like I never took any of those courses. Actually, I do remember that there was something called the “Krebs Cycle.” It had to do with respiration or metabolism. I know it’s something we all do that’s very important. If we don’t do it, we die. But that’s all I remember.

Yet, with no effort at all, I can recite all the words to the theme song to the 1960’s TV show Mr. Ed!!!

mr ed
Youtube.com

“A horse is a horse of course of course, and nobody can talk to a horse of course. That is of course, unless the horse, is the famous Mr. Ed.” I could go on to the second verse.

But I won’t.

Hell, I can even recite the words to “Car 54 Where Are You?” And I didn’t really watch the show that often!

Youtube.com
Youtube.com

“There’s a hold up in the Bronx,
Brooklyn’s broken out in fights.
There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights.
There’s a scout troop short a child.
Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild.
Car 54 where are you?”

 

I swear I wrote those from memory. They flowed effortlessly from my brain, like crap through a goose. I didn’t Google them.

Which brings me to my next point.

We live in an amazing age. We have all the knowledge of the world literally at our fingertips. Any question you could possibly think of can be googled. It’s gotten so easy that you can type the most rambling of questions and still get the right answer.

For example, a while ago I got into a conversation about time travel and it reminded me of a movie I’d seen a long time ago. It was about an aircraft carrier that went back in time to just before Pearl Harbor. I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name so I typed the following sentence into Google:

“There was this movie a long time ago about an aircraft carrier that goes back in time to just before Pearl Harbor and ….”

google-search-screen

At this point, Google popped up “The Final Countdown.” It listed the cast, the plot, and where I could buy it. All before I could finish typing a full sentence! Wow!

imdb.com
imdb.com

It made me realize something. I could use the internet to bring back all that science knowledge I once had!

But I don’t.

I use it for far more important stuff. Mostly, finding out the name of the actor my wife and I are currently watching on TV. We know we’ve seen him or her on some other show. But we can’t for the life of us remember either his/her name or the show’s name. Google it! Go to IMDB!

“Oh, right! She was the head doctor on that show we used to watch back in the ’90s!”

“Right! She was married to … what’s his name?  He was on … what was the name of that show?”

Back to Google.

So in the end, I still don’t know why my brain works the way it does. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the Kreb’s Cycle.

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

When I started reading it, I actually remembered most of it. Although I gotta admit. It was pretty dull. Mr. Ed was a lot more fun.

Hmm. Maybe I do know why my brain works the way it does.

MEMORIAL HALLS – Marilyn Armstrong

Every night, I fill up my glass with juice, grab my bag of medications, pet the puppies, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house.

After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed to its TV viewing angle. Turn on the television. He watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my blue-tooth speaker. I put my medications into a cup which is actually the lid from a medicine bottle. Convenient and keeps little round pills from rolling off the table.

I never remember everything. Typically, I forget to turn off the fans or the lights. Or something. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t.

“Ah,” I think. “Didn’t change the dogs’ water.” I go back to the living room. Wash the pot, refill it with clean water. Pet the dogs. Assure them they are not getting another biscuit no matter how cute they are.

Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. Need to refill the antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the big bottle is stored. Fending off the dogs, I stroll back to the bedroom with the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else.

Ah, that’s right. I didn’t turn off the living room lights. Back to the living room where I turn off a couple of lights. Pet dogs and go back to the bedroom. Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. He settles into watching highlights of the whatever sport is being played, followed by a movie or three. I turn on my audiobook.

Forty-five minutes later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy. Everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic sets in.

72-scotties-073016_034

Which is when I realize all my pills are in the cup where I put them. With all the walking up and down the hallway, I never got around to taking them. Which probably explains why they aren’t working.

I laugh. Continue laughing. Garry takes off his headphones long enough for me to explain why I’m laughing. I got to the punchline, he looks at me and says: “You hadn’t taken them?” He smiled. Nodded. Put the headphones back.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines and calendars. If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re less likely to forget. Alternatively, we may not be able to remember if we did it today, yesterday, or the day before.

Duke’s glorious tail – Photo: Marilyn Armstrong

The other evening, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right, usually. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy.

The Duke

If I remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog. But they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. I wish they’d stop fixing stuff that isn’t broken.

 

I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same as the dog Frasier had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it.

Search for: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.”

Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show, either. So I first had to find the name of the show.

Search for: “long-running comedy on TV about a psychiatrist.”

Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first appeared, but I couldn’t remember its name, either.

One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

SPYING

So I’m looking through my news feeds again — there are so many these days — and I come upon Daily KOS. I like them. They are pretty accurate and mostly, they write well. Of course they are always out for donations, but everyone is. And there’s the headline:


Marilyn, on Thursday the House voted to reauthorize section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which is a “backdoor” to allow the U.S. government to spy on citizens. This section is the basis for the NSA’s largest domestic surveillance programs, which serve as an end run around the Fourth amendments prohibitions on unreasonable search and seizure of citizens.

We don’t have much time. The House has already passed this bill. The Senate vote is scheduled for January 16, right before the current FISA authorization sunsets on January 19. If you care about protecting your rights to privacy–free from government interception– please use the link below to contact your Senators immediately. 


I’m walking around laughing. This is just the most recent invasion of our privacy. This month, the government. Next month? Cable news? Google? Windows? I don’t know who it will be, but it will be someone. They are all spying on us.

But our government spies on us more than anyone else and they are never going to stop. You knew that, right?

Last night, when we were tucked into the most comfortable bed in the world, I said to Garry, “Can you think of any government anywhere, or any time in the history of humankind, during which governments have not spied on their citizens or subjects?”

He honored me with a thoughtful few seconds before answering (or maybe he was just twiddling with the remote control). “Nope.”

And I said “I think the way it works like this. We invent heads of state. Kings, presidents, emperors, whatever. Then they invent a special police force to keep an eye on us. The only thing that changes is technology. And the quality of the dungeons.”

“Yup.”

“I think it’s a mistake to try and monitor all those emails and phone calls. I mean, they are just going to be buried under data. Lots of jabbering kids yakking with friends, people arguing with customer support, and boring conversations by people like us. We never say anything interesting on the phone. We hardly talk on the phone at all. Our email is pretty dull too.

“Yup.”

Traffic cameras in Brookline

Americans have an ongoing need to be outraged. It’s our thing.  We require a constant level of civic hysteria. Scandal keeps ratings up and gives talk show hosts something to joke about. It gives liberals and conservatives something to accuse each other of doing, even though every administration has done pretty much the same stuff and always will.

Spying never gets old.

Possibly the only traffic camera in our town. At least the only one I could find.

Nothing will change. Governments spy on citizens. Citizens are outraged. The outrage is ignored. Everyone moves on, until it comes up again.

I remember Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover. I know there are traffic cameras tracking me everywhere, even out here in the country. If anyone is looking for me — or you — I’m sure they’ll have no trouble finding us. My government spies on me. Corporations spy on me. Everyone collects my personal data and uses it without my permission.

Fedex truck on Aldrich Street
No cameras here. No streetlights, either. That’s how you know you are in the country!

It’s the price I pay for being connected and computerized. I suppose I could go live in a cave where no one would find me (is there such a place?), but what fun would that be?

Spying on citizens is as old as government. It will never end. You knew that too, right?