Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Good Cry

Like most people, I experience a wide range of emotions, but for the past years, contentment has been the overwhelming standard. I live a great life, and I'm well aware of that. I keep busy, have many hobbies, enjoy my husband, my home and my view. Life in Colorado is wonderful. So why am I crying?

Trick question. I'm reading another Nicholas Sparks novel. (Okay, so I'm listening to it on audio book.) Many of his books get me to an emotional level where I spend some time crying. (I'll admit I can also cry at some Hallmark commercials.) Sparks' characters are real, and they go through real life problems, choices, decisions, traumas. The one I'm reading now deals with Alzheimer's (The Notebook). I recently read one of his that dealt with pulling the plug on a coma patient (The Choice). 

I once said that my opinion of a movie depends more on how I feel about myself after seeing the movie than on how great the filming was done, or how famous the actors were. Similarly, when I finish one of Nicholas Sparks' books, I feel like I've lived through a difficult decision with people I know and admire, who have made often seemingly impossible choices. With no Hollywood endings in sight, I feel their joys and terrors, and can struggle along with them. I often have a good cry, and when I'm done, I feel good about them, and about myself. 

And yes, John does look at me weird. Here's his wife, emptying the dishwasher or doing laundry, making the bed, or sitting in the recliner, ear phones snuggled tightly to her head and tears streaming down her face. He takes one look and heads in the other direction. Didn't Shakespeare write that old quote, "Discretion is the better part of valor?" Run, John!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Technology Withdrawal

I'll be suffering about five days of what I imagine will be severe technology deprivation, as I send away my laptop for a new hard drive. Whoever would have thought, back in in 1979, when we got our first home computer, that 80 gigs would not be space enough to contain my photos, recorded music and audiobooks, let alone any design work or music transposition I may happen to do? When we bought that first computer, at John's insistence, Tighe was seven years old. He was excited about getting an "electric game," although he thought Pong would be more exciting, since he'd heard of that one. 

John got the TI-994, a Texas Instruments machine that was way ahead of its time. It had a color monitor, and its graphics were unheard of at that time. You could use cartridges or program it yourself on cassette deck, later replaced by 7" floppy discs that stored a whopping 360k. Great care had to be used not to damage those floppy discs. The programming code was tedious to learn, and had to be double-checked line by line before a program would actually work properly. It was a challenge, but fun in a twisted sort of way. 

Within a year there were rumors of "Winchester Drives" that would store 10 megabytes. For those who had an extra $500-600, that was sure the way to go, but with the original system (without cartridges or floppy drive) costing nearly $1500, it was a pipe dream for us. We never did scrape up the money for one, but did eventually get a floppy drive.

I really tried to talk John out of buying that first computer. I said there were a lot of game systems out that didn't cost nearly as much, and he said this wasn't a game. I had no concept of what it really was, but the money was out of our league, and I told him so. It was one of those times when he had made up his mind. "I'm going to buy this, so you might just as well agree and get it over with." That was a long sentence for him back then.
He bought it on a Friday night:  just the basic unit and one educational game, the cassette recorder to store our programs, and a book on Basic Programming. We didn't see him, except from the back, for the rest of the weekend. We watched him set it up and start learning to program it. He put it right in the corner of my kitchen. Then Monday night he went back to work. Tighe went to school. Jeremy, at 3+, played and slept. I was expecting Benjamin. I wasn't going anywhere...

I read the programming book while sitting at the computer. I took out one of the blank cassettes and started to figure out what that little machine could do. I was always careful to cleare off my work before John got home from work. I also made sure that Tighe got time to play with his educational cartridge when he got home from school. But the daytime hours were mine! 

That Friday night John and I had a babysitter come over, and then he and I went to a square dance together. (Having met at a square dance, he and I danced up until two nights before Benjamin was born.) After one of the "tips" he left to get us some punch. The last time we had talked about the computer, he knew that I was really against its purchase. We hadn't discussed it again during the week. I used it during the day, but he didn't know that. He was shocked to walk up behind me with the punch to hear me telling our friends what I had learned to do with my computer that week. Oops. 

I've been in love with computers ever since.

In some ways it may seem a waste to get a larger drive, but I'm constantly trying to figure out what I can delete or move to a backup drive. I figure it will be a good investment in convenience alone for this year. My laptop will most likely be replaced next year after the Macintosh conference in January. At least that's the plan, God willing and the creek don't rise. I know; we don't have a creek. Anyway, we'll save up for it this year. And anticipation is such wonderful fun. 

But this week I'll definitely be in withdrawal.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Almost on the News

Do you ever read the crawlers on the bottom of the screen during the news? I find them very annoying, yet like watching a snake I sometimes find my eyes drawn to them against my will. This morning as I was watching a taped broadcast of last night's O'Reilly Factor, which I hadn't been able to see last night since we were out, I happened to see a really sobering message across the bottom. It's one of those things that make you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Vladimir Putin [President of the Russian Federation since the end of 1999] has warned that "A new arms race is underway." He further stated, "It's not our fault because we didn't start it." 

That's like kindergarden children with nuclear weapons. I sure hope we're all praying about this kind of lunacy.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

What does 60 mean? It's just a number. You should count smiles, not candles, and so I know this birthday was one of my best ever, because it was full of peace and smiles — a quiet birthday spent with John. It was decorated with gentle falling snow, and the the ringing of the phone from friends and family who remembered me today. There was a special meal at the Olive Garden, where I thoroughly enjoyed a meal of stuffed Chicken Marsala that I couldn't finish, and when the sweet waitress boxed it to take home with me, she included a tub of their wonderful soup that I had enjoyed so much. It was a day of little kindnesses such as this.

And then tonight as I started getting tired, I remembered a little poem I had run across this week. As I went through some things in the garage, I found this in a box I had put together from one of our trips to Hawaii. It was in my handwriting; I had copied it from somewhere on the Big Island:

Kimo's Poem
Never judge a day by the weather.
The best things in life aren't things.
Tell the truth; there's less to remember.
Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
Goals are deceptive: the unaimed arrow never misses.
He who dies with the most toys still dies.
Age is relative — When you're over the hill you pick up speed.
There are two ways to be rich: make more or desire less.
Beauty is internal: looks mean nothing.
No rain, no rainbows.

And now I lay me down to sleep. And I'm happy to be 60.