Feb 17 2010

Tech Geek 16 February 2010

Computer Gaming

Many people ask me what I do for fun. The answer is not as common as one may think. I like to play games online. I like to play multiplayer games that your spouses and children may play. The computer can be a very fun place to visit. Since the dawn of the internet connection, which actually goes back to the early 80’s, one of the most widely used application was video game access. I remember, back in the 80’s, using a telephone like modem to access games from a service called CompuServe. If my memory serves me, the cost of this service was $12.95 per hour. Obviously that was not something that I did very often. But the online gaming world had begun. Years later, I rediscovered the internet when the costs came down drastically. I believe when I rejoined the connected word, the price averaged $2.95 per hour. That was with AOL. I played occasionally, but preferred the whole internet browsing thing. Prices still were too high to utilize this as my social life was far too important to me. I would rather be out in the world then home browsing the virtual one.

Move forward to 1998, the year I moved to Florida. The internet became a part of my life then and has yet to be disconnected. With the internet prices down, dial-up was affordable. 20 bucks a month. Not too bad. We found the internet to be both a haven of information as well as a source of relief from the daily stresses of life. 2002, I discovered cable modem access. My speeds went from tortoise to hare in seconds. That was the moment of clarity for my online gaming endeavors. Not only can one play board and parlor games online, one can play PC games of all sorts against other people around the world. That was the beginning of a hobby that not only I entertain, but my husband and son do as well. Both of our systems are gaming systems. That means we built them from the ground up putting video cards, Mother Boards, RAM, sound cards, and the most important item, liquid and fan cooling. You may wonder why we dedicate our time and energy to this hobby. Well, it is just plain fun.

Some of you may wonder how does this affect my family. Considering that my 8-year-old is fully capable of utilizing a computer and put together a Power Point presentation, unaided, could say something. Not only does he know the software of the computer, but he is fully aware of the hardware and the inner workings of the computer. He has been on a computer since the age of 3. My younger one since 4. They both have their own laptops and have certain things they must do before playing any games. There is an excellent website out there called www.starfall.com. This is a free site dedicated to the early learning of reading and phonics. My oldest would go through this site and learn different things as well as supplies that were purchased through the Starfall site to enhance the learning experience. I partially credit that site with my son’s penchant for reading. As a hands on mom, I believe we are responsible for much of our children’s’ education. We need to provide them with some basis for learning prior to the beginning of school. As a reward, my boys both had the ability to play games on pre approved sites. They only were taught what sites they could visit.

You may ask about internet safety. I think that also belongs to the parents. There are a plethora of sites dedicated to the teaching of internet safety. My oldest has that lesson twice a year, as redundant as it is, he knows the importance. There are several items on the market as well for parental controls for free as well as for money. I do not have a need for this on my older son’s system. He knows where and where he cannot go. I trust that he makes the right choice. There are no computers in the bedroom, so the centrally located computers make for a constantly supervised environment. He still has to ask permission to play and he is limited to the time he spends. He is required to spend at least 2 hours on personal reading every day. I lessen it to an hour a day on school days. I will have to admit, he does like to use my Kindle, an electronic reader. I guess technology never seems to leave us.


Feb 17 2010

Dancing Avocado Kitchen 12 February 2010

Date night. We had the most fabulous evening. A local church in our community, which we do not belong to, had the most creative idea for Valentine’s Day. They have a group for the young girls in the congregation called the Girls of Grace. They do various things around the community to help others. This month, the group held a private dinner for those in the congregation, friends, and others. It was by invitation only. Our dear friends, the Pastor of said church and his wife, gave us this invitation to have a date night. They offered to watch the kids and sent us on our way. What a fabulous and thoughtful thing to do~!

Many of us, too easily, get caught up in the daily rituals of our own lives, we rarely deviate from our comfort zone. Tonight, we deviated. This evening proved not only a great meal, great conversation, and great fun, but a greater sense of appreciation of others in the community. Our dining companions we met only this evening. All aspects of this dining experience were carried out by the ‘Girls of Grace.’ The food was perfect, ambiance fantastic, and everything down to the heart-shaped croutons was planned with forethought. Words cannot epitomize the renewed appreciation of the human race.
Whatever is going on outside in the world today, is usually met with cynicism. Most people are very self-absorbed and have lost faith in others. Not I. Not today. I had become so jaded by the general consensus of people as self-centered that I forgot how wonderful they are. The owner of this eating establishment, Dancing Avocado Kitchen, donated his restaurant to this cause. He provided everything to the church group and allowed them to impart a gratis five course meal. A date night for Valentine’s Day.

What did you do today? For me, it was something down the proverbial ‘Road Less Traveled.’ I’ll be sure to explore that road more often~!


Feb 17 2010

Fortune Cookie 31 January 2010

 Understanding the nature of change, changes the nature.

This was written on a tiny piece of paper inside my fortune cookie.


Feb 17 2010

11:09 PM 30 January 2010

51 minutes to the first day of the rest of my life. Looking over the past two years, I have watched myself grow so much. On 01.02.08, my mother, the only parent I knew, lost her battle with cancer. Thinking that I would spiral into a miasma of emotional demise, I surprised not only myself, but those around me. Not knowing me personally, you may think I was being dramatic. I can assure you, I was not. The pillar of my existence, or so I thought then, was crumbling down. Losing a loved one is very difficult for anyone, but being the only child of a single parent, seemed to me, the end of the world. I was being left in the world, all alone. But I was wrong. I dealt with the closing of her life, not only with unexpected acceptance, but almost with a hint of true maturity. My mother was a strong woman. She fought tooth and nail to the end. But when she finally accepted her fate, it allowed me to also accept mine. I promised her, while in the ‘deluxe suite’ at the local Hospice Center, that I would grant her every wish. I told her that I would move on and be a better mother, wife, and person. I also told her to do the same. I said it, only half believing that I would rise above her departure. Well, obviously I have. Weeks before her death, we talked more than we had ever talked before. We laughed, we cried, and we even got mad. But I learned so much more about my mother in weeks, than I had learned over the previous 36 years. The funny thing about it, was we both believed that she would survive. I knew otherwise. I think she did as well.

Several months had passed, and her husband, who is not my father, held on to the cremains. Out of respect for her marriage, I never once asked for them. He called me up one day and informed me that I may have her. That I am her daughter and that I deserve them. I gladly accepted and proceeded to dream up ways to honor her. I finally settled on a creative way to honor her wishes. She requested that she be cremated and have her ashes placed in the ocean so that she may travel the world. Dumping all of her ashes in the ocean wouldn’t do. It would be a disservice to her. She wanted to travel the world. Not the ocean but the WORLD. Then it hit me. Why not have a little bit of her be spread in various locations all over the world. Before I knew it, everyone I knew who was traveling, offered to take Jane with them to their destinations. I couldn’t open that box. I found my self unable to let go of her. I waited. She waited. Her soul had been released into the heavens, but her ashes, they were ‘grounded.’

As the months wore on, several friends’ travel plans came and went. I had to give my mother this one wish. Being selfish, I wouldn’t do it. I still did not want to let go. At the time, I just saw it as a reasonable delay. Today, I see it as the last part of the grieving process, letting go. One day, a neighbor was telling me all about her upcoming excursions. I am the animal sitter, so I need to know these things. Obviously at this point she didn’t ask about the ashes. So many times I had said that I wasn’t ready, she gave up. This day was different. I said, can Jane go with you? My neighbor was excited about the upcoming endeavor. They would go around to some spots in the US, travel to Germany, Austria and so on. I think she was more excited than I. That is when my path to self discovery truly began. I viewed it as an adventure. As a stay at home mom, travelling to far away destinations was not on my calendar. Two kids, a husband, and one income can only go so far. So it began. The trips, to places far away. The people offering a ‘ride’ for my mother to their vacation spots. I realized so many things. My view of humans as self-serving creatures had been all wrong. The friends that have taken Jane around the world took time out of their schedules to find the perfect spot, take a few pictures, and leave a bit of mom where they found beauty. Another person took her to the South Pole. How cool is that?

The trips keep coming, and she is now on 4 continents and in one ocean. I am going for all of the continents by the end of 2011.

This unfolding of events serve even a better purpose. One that selfishly serves me. One of growth. One of maturity. One of truly letting go. So even if I never complete the travel itinerary for my mother, my journey has far exceeded both our expectations. It is one that most people strive for, personal growth.

I sit here realizing that no matter what happens today, that the next day will always be the first day of the rest of my life!


Feb 17 2010

7 January 2010 44.6 F

We now have a cold front. We are even anticipating snow on Friday. Not that it will stick. We are in Florida for Pete’s sake~! The holidays have come and gone. What a great season! Lots of love to go around. And here we are in 2010. Wow~! Cold, but awesome. New friends, new diet, new year. The first day of 2010 was a very steady and clensing rain. Rumor has it that, when it rains the first day of the new year, the year is supposed to be a good year! Full of positive energy. I look forward to watching it unfold.


The last several weeks have been a bit odd for me. I must be in one of those midlife crises, or some type of 7 year change. Things I never liked are suddenly becoming more tolerable. I am feeling quite feminine as of late. I am a girl, but a tomboy. Always have been. Pink to me is like the plague. Now I have a certain proclivity for that ‘girlie’ color. Weird. I have also found a new perspective on things. I figure I should investigate further. I also have expanded my tastes in reading material. I have one of those coveted Kindles by Amazon.com, and I have been downloading a myriad of genres instead of my routine thrillers. Could 38 being a stepping stone in the quest for the meaning of life? Perhaps. Maybe I am just developing a larger penchant for broadening my perspective. For some reason, maybe incorrectly, I assumed that as one ages, their taste for things narrow. I must have deduced that the older you get, the more set in your ways one becomes. I am quite energized at the prospect that my tastes are expanding rather then subsiding. Life is good.


Feb 17 2010

81 Degrees on 11 November 2009

I am so anticipating the impending ‘cold front.’ Some of you may be dreading it, but down here in the south, a cold front is a welcome event. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the weather here for the most part. Heat and hurricanes included. I just wish that I could feel the crispness in the air. How can one really get in the mood for the impending holiday season without it? Unless you are from Australia~! Moving south was a great idea and the only thing I really miss is the changing of the leaves. Where I am from, the leaves turn colors you can only dream about. The amazing pallate scintillates the senses with every turn during Fall in Pennsylvania. I am adapting well to the new colors I see. The blues and greens of the ocean, the reds and oranges of the fish, and even the greys of the shark, manatee, and manta rays.


I am sure many of you are wishing it were 81 degrees today, and I say, it is always 81 somewhere. I, too, envied those southerners that relished in the warmth while I froze in the north. But now I am looking back over that fence longing for the crispness of the north. While I am pleased that I have started my family in the south, I think most people long for their hometowns once they move away. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Today, despite the minutae on the weather, is Veterans’ Day. I never realized the importance of this day until my soldier went away to Iraq and fought for this country. How sad is that? I wonder how many of you do not realize the magnitude of the sacrifices made by our men and women of this country? I am sure those of you with a soldier in your life realize it, but many of us do not until it hits home. So to all the veterans and their familes, I salute all of you!


Lastly, I must share with all of you the weirdest theory on how I figured Stonehenge was built. Oddly enough, it came to me today. I have never heard of this theory, but this is it. I figured that the early settlers in the area dug holes and slid each of the large stones in the holes. Then they placed the top pieces over the top portions of the stones to form the top. Then they removed the dirt around it. Very crazy, but just a bizzare theory. I figured you could laugh for a moment


Feb 17 2010

Orthodontia (Originally Posted 10.19.09)

Wow, what a money maker! Today is the day I find out how much money is to be made through orthodontia. Please don’t get me wrong, my kids always come first. I cannot complain, my kids are pretty healthy and cost effective. They do not wear anything but undies or PJs if allowed. I only insist on wearing clothes any time they walk out of the house and if someone comes over. The oldest claims this saves on laundry, somehow I do not buy it! It seems that with a household of 4, laundry is the main course. The younger one insists that he lives his life in PJs. I call him Little Hef. He does not yet know the meaning of that name, however, he is a boy and will soon understand who Mr. Hefner is. Getting back to the topic at hand, orthodontia. Back in my day, getting braces was a curse. A travesty only compounded by some wacky headgear needed to be worn at night. On top of that, the retainer, the dreaded apparatus that is the bane of one’s existence for several months after the metal is removed. I, myself, have not endured the pain nor the embarrassment of such cosmetic enhancements, but I am sure at one time or another I have uttered the dreaded ‘brace face’ to some poor soul who just was trying to improve himself. What surprises me now is the excitement of metal to a kid. My oldest seems to be excited about the impending yearlong process. He promises to wear the appropriate items at the appropriate times. He promises to endure this in order to get ‘colored’ braces. I think this is actually refreshing. I am not sure he is totally aware of this process, but he claims that he is. I do know that he is quite self-conscience about his slight crossbite and his spacing issues, but to actually be excited about this….WOW~! I am so pleased that his maturity at this age seems to better many people my age. I would be less than pleased with it at his age. So we play the waiting game. 6 months until the event. Doc wants to wait for the canines to erupt and, in my opinion, to give us time to save for this endeavor. What I cannot fathom, is the difference that 20 years can make. When he was informed of his need to wear glasses, he jumped at the idea to pick out his frames. I guess we are evolving to be a more patient and tolerant bunch of folks. And this is in our youth. 8 is a funny age, maybe I need to do it again. However, I would like to do it for a lot less than $3,ooo~!


Feb 17 2010

Top of the Eighth 16 Oct 09

Waiting for the Phillies to walk away with a win. Finding my niche in the world. I am typing furiously in order to get it all down. I hear so many interesting things on a social networking site and some things puzzle me. I am still wondering why any woman would give up a chance for a weekend in Palm Springs~! Not me, but some divorcee in LA who could enjoy a wonderful weekend in a wonderful place with a decent guy. Hey, what do I know? Hope he convinces her to ‘live, live, live.’