Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another Crane Accident

Seems as if this is the Year of the Crane Accidents. Just a couple days ago, August 28, 2008, this one occurred in Dallas, Texas. Click here or here to read more about it. If I'm counting correctly (and I think I am) this is the third accident to happen in Dallas this year.

I've mentioned the seemingly numerous crane accidents before. And since those posts, there have been a couple others in the news that I have not mentioned here.

Some genius out there could make a fortune by designing and producing a computerized module incoporated into the crane itself that would figure in all the factors involved in a given crane effort, a module that would immediately ring alarm if any one factor gets out of whack...if the item being moved is too heavy, if the wind is too forceful, if the angle of lift is way offfff in regards to safety. And surely, it might be a good idea if all persons non-essential to the task were outside of the radius of a potential fall.

But then again, perhaps a committee is already in place to avert or prevent further accidents. Surely??? Somewhere???? Someone?????


How Fast Can You Type?

I worked 33 years as a secretary. I guess I could say typing is my forte. I took this little test and found that I can still type 90 words per minute. How about you? 90 words


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farewell, Trusty Friend

I'm in a dilemma. I have to make a decision. Some decisions are easy but this one means I will have to let go of sentimentality.

It's my cell phone. I've had my old simple, basic cell phone for several years. It's the one that I accidentally dumped into the ocean while visiting Maui almost three years ago. I grabbed it out of the shallow water as quickly as I could and it began buzzing frantically due to the salt water shorting out its circuits. Fortunately I was smart enough to hastily remove the battery. Then I went online and googled (Ah! Another rescue by Google!) how to salvage my cell phone.

Here is a quick synopsis of how to save your cell phone if you drop it in water...just in case you are ever on the beaches of Maui and careless with your phone. (Or if you are elsewhere and drop your cell phone in the toilet -- or the kitchen sink -- or wherever)
  1. Briefly rinse phone and battery under the kitchen faucet to remove any salt (or other crud). The idea is to remove salt but not to soak it further. This baby is already wet. Rinse it only long enough to remove the bad stuff. Be brief but thorough. Swish it quickly and go to Step Two. (If your phone has a memory card, remove and rinse it as well. And if you dropped it in plain, non-salty, CLEAN water, disregard this step.)
  2. Dry with a kitchen towel. As thoroughly as possible, including any crevices and ports. Wick that moisture out with a corner of the fabric or a Q-tip!
  3. Find a warm dry spot. (I turned on my oven for a short 30 seconds to warm it...the rack should be warm but not hot to the touch. Then I turned on the oven light to keep it warm. Warning! Do Not use a Hot Oven and Do Not Leave the Oven ON!) I've heard of people placing their phones on the dash of their car and letting solar energy provide the warmth to dry it but it would seem that might get a bit hot if you live in Death Valley or some such place...use some sense here.
  4. Place the phone and its battery in this warm spot AT LEAST 24 hours before re-connecting the battery. Forty-eight is even better...if you can stand the suspense that long. If you re-connect while your phone still holds moisture you run the risk of shorting it out completely and your end result will be a dead phone.
  5. In my case, I waited about 36 hours before placing the battery back on the phone and it worked fine.
My phone has been performing faithfully ever since. And part of me wants to keep it to see just how long it will continue to work. But my Hubby has provided me with a RAZR which has more features that bedazzle. It is with reluctance that I say "goo-bye" to my old trusty phone.

And now I'm going to read the instruction book on the RAZR. After all, I'm a woman, and women always do that. Read instructions. Don't they? Or am I the only one???

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mother's Jewels Home for Orphans in York, Nebraska

According to this website Mothers' Jewels Home was established in York, Nebraska, in 1889 by the Women's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The intent was to provide care for orphaned and abandoned children in the central United States. Over the years the home provided care for thousands of homeless children.

My grandmother lived there for some time. I've been playing with genealogy and found her listed in the 1910 census as an "inmate" at the orphanage along with 74 other "inmates".

During my childhood I loved talking to my grandmother. She was a bouncy, cheerful soul. She loved chatting and laughing with me. It was Grandma who taught me how to knit and crochet. She could whip out a knit shawl in record time.

Grandma made the niftiest crocheted fly-swatter covers. She stitched a three-dimensional flower to one side of the swatter. Perhaps you don't know what a fly-swatter is. Perhaps you don't have flies. Perhaps you're too young to remember hot sweltering days in the kitchen (before air-conditioning) when an open screen door was an open invitation to 20 million flies. Believe me, 20 million flies in the kitchen with the cook meant someone had to DO something. And so whichever one of us was not directly working toward the meal was assigned the fly-swatter routine.

Several fly-swatters hung on a nail on the kitchen wall. One was 'decorated' with Grandma's crocheted flower. It was for decoration only and hence, unused. Whoever was assigned the task of reducing the fly population would grab one of the 'working' swatters and go to work, counting success out loud -- one, two, three. To hit two flies with one swat was a real hoot! But back to Grandma.

Her mother and her twin sister died when Grandma was born. I don't know if the twin was ever named but Grandma was given the middle name of "Late", indicating that she was the second of the two girls. She had at least two older siblings. (There may have also been a previous wife and half-siblings...I'm still researching that.) Their father remarried after Grandma was born and she told me that their stepmother was kind to them and life was good.

Life took a turn for the worse when Grandma was seven years old. Her father became ill at the railroad roundhouse where he worked. His supervisor sent him home and he died some hours later. He was 48 years old. Someone walked to the school and brought Grandma and her sisters home to hear the news. They were orphans. And even though they had a stepmother, the girls were sent elsewhere to live. Gramma ended up at Mother's Jewels Home as an orphan-inmate. You can click on the 1910 census image for a close-up and see that the children were classified as Inmates therein.

I don't know much about Grandma's life during those next few years. She did speak of leaving the home at some point and working as a "mother's helper" in a home where she was ill-treated. I don't know the story of how she met and married my grandfather. But I have visited the homestead where they raised their family of five. Standing in front of the now-abandoned home I think this must have been a good place to raise a family.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

There are a Lot of People Wanting Your Money!

Seems like it's just one crook after another. Or perhaps it is just the way today's business world does business. For my previous rants about debit and credit card fraud and unauthorized withdrawals from checking accounts read here.

Today I'm looking at another possible scam. A family member called and said she had received a bill in the mail for a subscription to Fitness Magazine. The funny thing is, this person never ordered the magazine. So she went online to find out if others were being scammed in a similar way. Sure enough, she found similar complaints here. (Isn't Google a lifesaver!) By the way you can find a toll-free number at that same site in case you, too, have been a victim.

It's so convenient these days to use 'automatic bill pay' or to go online to pay bills or to use debit and credit cards for purchases. These all make it easier to navigate through our days without carrying cash or writing checks. However, it also makes it easier to be scammed by crooks who know how to cheat the systems and how to steal your identity. Whether you are young or old, the crooks want YOUR money! Be Wise!

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's So Impersonal!

We live 45 minutes from a large city and sometimes when I am up there for other business I stop at the Wally Mart to pick up items that I cannot find in our small town.

Recently I'm beginning to think it's not worth the effort. Frankly, Mr. Wally, I detest your self-checkout lines. The machines are slow, the instructions confusing, and the bagging system stinks. Worse, your people clerks are slow as well! Still...if I have my druthers I'd rather deal with them than the self-checkout. At least I feel that by doing so I'm helping someone else maintain a job for whatever that is worth.

Somehow I'm offended by your self-checkout. It's so impersonal. It's offensive. It's as if my good-will is not important enough for you to 'wait on me' as I exit your store.

It's offensive enough that I'm already approaching my hometown business asking them to stock the items I need. My home town gets my $$$, I save walking the length of a football field to pick up a carton of soymilk and I don't have to deal with your self-checkout.

Oh, Please, Mr. Mike of Hometown Business, PLEASE do not install self-checkouts! PUH-LEEZE!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It Looked Like a Major Disaster Scene!!

Last week I had an assortment of things to take to a local thrift shop where proceeds benefit the hospital auxiliary. In the pile was a red wool jacket, and I sez to myself, "Why not felt this wool and use it for some crafty project?" I think I'm pretty crafty (as in clever) to come up with this nifty recycling idea.

So I read instructions on how to felt wool fabric and tossed the coat into the washing machine, turned on the hot water, and headed upstairs. I returned to the basement some time later. I reached into the machine to pull out the jacket to toss it into the dryer. It was Sopping Wet! The machine must have become unbalanced during the spin cycle and shut itself down.

Well! When I pulled that jacket up out of the machine I splashed water all over the place (thankfully, not on me!). This was not just plain, ordinary water. No, Sirree! This was Blood Red water. I felt as if I was in the midst of the First Plague in Exodus! Blood-red water splashed everywhere making my washroom look like the scene of a major homicide! Anyone else might have called 911 but I'm a cool-thinker and managed to avoid pushing the panic button.

I've prewashed fabrics for my quilting ventures. I've prewashed RED fabrics before and have had to toss only one or two pieces that simply would not stop bleeding. There are some red fabrics that will never be safe to wash with other fabrics. No matter how many rinses. No matter how many attempts to use vinegar or some commercial product that is supposed to bind the dye.

Nope. Wasn't going to even THINK about re-washing! Nope. Tossed that little red jacket (it was little now...the idea of felting is that the wool shrinks!) into the trash. Minus three black buttons which I salvaged for my button jar.

Maybe I can use the buttons to teach the grandkids how to make a Button on a String.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


When the headlines hit the news last week that a body of Bigfoot or Sasquatch had been found and was to be soon revealed to the public I just muttered to myself about the gullibility of people.

Now I wish I had said "THERE's NO SUCH THING!" right here on my blog.

It would have been the perfect opportunity for me to come back today and say, "I Told You So!".

But other than make some silly comment to my spouse at the time I neglected the chance to refute ahead of their game.

So here it case another fool foists another it here right now...There Is No Such Thing as Sasquatch!"


There, I've said it.
You've read it.
Right Here!
Don't blame me if you fall for the next one!
She said with a giggle!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Dolly Has a Vintage Postage Stamp Charm Quilt

I love quilts. And in particular I love vintage quilts and the fabrics used in them.

A couple years ago I found these vintage shirting fabric samples in a box of linens purchased at an auction. A tiny tag indicated they were samples of fabric sold by Davidson Brothers Company, a department store established in Sioux City, Iowa in 1884. The potential buyer (who probably sewed nearly every shirt and dress worn by her family) could thumb through the samples and choose which ones she would purchase. These samples probably date to about 1900 or thereabouts.

The samples in this little bundle were perfect for a postage stamp quilt. I carefully washed, pressed and trimmed them to a uniform size. From old quilt blocks and scraps I selected other fabrics including indigo blues, black fabrics, and the burgundy or magenta reds from the same era. Then I stitched them together using my treadle sewing machine (I have multiple old sewing machines and love using them!)

In keeping with the vintage theme I decided the backing should be vintage also, so I dug down into my stash of strange items and found an old cotton flour sack. The binding was pieced from vintage scraps, too, some of which were only a few inches in size. The batting is 100 percent cotton.

I'm not a doll collector but this American Girl doll was such a bargain at a yard sale that I couldn't resist bringing her home. She has two more dresses in the basket.

The blanket looks as if it were made for her, don't you think?

Don't forget that you can click on photos for a closeup view.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Isaac Newton Revisited - According to Barry Newman

I like to figure out how things work. My mind likes working with mechanical things and knowing how this gizmo causes that watchamacallit to push that thingamajig to cause the whole apparatus to function in some fancy fashion and produce a desireable output. (Phew!...that was a longggg sentence!)

If your mind works that way, too, you will enjoy this article by Barry Newman on how the Dive-Cam was developed for filming the Olympic diving competition. And you can see a graphic visual here on how the camera works.

The camera system we're talking about is designed to capture the entire dive, including the moment the diver enters the water as well as the moments underneath the surface. Way Coool. Especially for those viewing the Olympics on television.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Was One of the REAL "Children of the Corn"

Oh, My Goodness! They're remaking Steven King's 1984 horror film, "Children of the Corn". Click to read more about it.

Just a little note here...I and all my friends at school were truly Children of the Corn. Every summer we spent weeks in the cornfields, detasseling seed corn. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work. But it paid well since we not only got minimum wage (Oh, Wow!) but we also worked enough hours that those $$ added up to a paycheck large enough to buy school clothes or provide spending money through at least part of the school year. It was a lot better than picking up old pop bottles for 2 cents a bottle! Our second year in the fields we signed up for Social Security numbers and we began paying for our retirement. Children of the Corn we were. Hot, sweaty, tanned and blistered. Children. Beginning to pay our own way. Moving into adulthood at age twelve! But let's move on.

I'm such a name-dropper. I mentioned once before that I once worked for THE Howard Hughes. (I was a lowly lab assistant, fresh out of high school and I never saw the man the entire time I worked there!) That was eons ago. (An eon is a huge number of years.) And I think I've told you that I once toured the locker room of the Denver Broncos. I've shaken hands with Chuck Colson of Watergate and Prison Fellowship fame. (No, I'm not a politician!) And last week I ate dinner at a small steak house and watched George McGovern at the next table over. The world is a small place and I've dropped enough names...let's get on with this corny post about Children of the Corn.

I grew up in the small town in western Iowa where "Children of the Corn" was filmed. I had already entered adulthood by then so, no, I did not appear in that film, either as a major star (I jest!) nor as a lowly extra. I did some previous acting in a one-act play in high school (I had to play "Chopsticks" on the piano...Oh, Yeah, THAT was an experience!) but had no yen to move into the film world. Besides by then I was busy, raising a daughter, working, living. I barely knew the movie was being filmed just up the road a ways.

Besides having no yen to act, I also have no yen to watch horror movies. No, horror movies don't thrill me. And this one wasn't all that highly rated anyway.
The film received two thumbs down from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Both found the film extremely distasteful. That's how I view horror films...distasteful. (I'm such a wimp!)

I was thirteen years old when I saw my first horror movie. Everyone in school was talking about it. The local theater (remind me to tell you about the theater sometime) was featuring Steve McQueen in "The Blob". How's that for a moniker for a Horror Movie! The Blob! (Two words. Accent on the second. Draw it out in a deep baritonevoice. The Blahhhhhhhbbb.) It was Halloween and word got around in spite of the fact that texting was yet non-existent and half of us lived in one phone area and half in another, which meant that phone calls to half our friends would be the dreaded "Long Distance" which meant an extra ten cents on the phone bill. Nobody called Long Distance except in events of greatest emergency such as death in a family. (People knew how to be frugal in those days!) But somehow word got around and Everyone knew that EVERYone would be there. So when my oldest brother got permission to drive to town we younger ones got permission to tag along. We were all suitably scared, of course! "The Blob" was, after all, a Horror Movie!

As for "Children of the Corn", I have never seen it. I probably never will. I've seen only one Stephen King movie, "Carrie", and that pretty much eliminated any desire to see more. (Sorry, Mr. King! Nothing personal! It's just that I'm not a fan of this genre!)

So when the remake of "Children of the Corn" comes around I think I'll pass. Maybe, just maybe, if the remake were made again in my old home town, then I just MIGHT go see it. Maybe. Just to see if the old street still looks the same.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mr. McGovern Goes to Dinner

Two days before this editorial by George McGovern appeared in print we were sitting in a smalltown steakhouse having dinner with family. (In his editorial McGovern speaks out against the Employee Free Choice Act and FOR employees. It's a short read, so if you have time, click and read.)

But back to our evening at the restaurant. Mr. McGovern and his guest were sitting at a small table at the side of the room while our rather large family was gathered at a long table. Most of our family had traveled long distance to celebrate the upcoming wedding of one of our granddaughters. The wedding was still two days away and we were saying our first "hello" after arriving in Mitchell. (We're a noisy bunch she said under her breath).

One of our great-grandsons was present...a quietly sweet, less-than-two-year-old, tow-headed tyke of bashful demean. He's well-behaved and towards the end of the meal, his mother put him down on the floor and let him "wander". We had noticed Mr. McGovern when he entered the room but none of us had made much to-do about him, just quietly mentioning him to each other, then averting our eyes and letting him have his privacy. (I don't know how much privacy he experienced under our loud laughter, she said, again with a smile.)

Our great-grandson slowly sidled away from his mother's side, testing the territory, glancing back now and then at his mother, enjoying his freedom, edging unknowingly close to Mr. McGovern's table. Mr. McGovern and his guest each chuckled and smiled and said hello or some such thing to him. Our quietly sweet DGS, taken aback by friendly strangers, scooted back to the safety of his mother's side.

I wish I had a photo for his baby book. His first encounter with a famous face.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Robots May Be Taking Over SOON!!

We seldom get phone calls from telemarketers, but yesterday we did. The caller purported to be representing a business from whom we MAY have made a purchase eons ago. His bait was "you have a credit from a previous transaction with us". Mind you, if there was ever a transaction, it would have been at least a decade ago.

My normal mode with telemarketers is to politely ask them to remove me from their calling list, then hang up. No ifs, ands, or buts. I recognize that the callers are simply working a job, but I am simply trying to get on with my day. Plus, I recognize that these chance calls are an excellent opportunity to be duped or scammed.

But he mentioned a credit. And silly person that I am, I listened as he continued in a smooth, cultivated voice. I listened intently, and it wasn't long before I began to think this was a computer voice...certain words and certain intonations. So I laughingly interrupted with "Are you a computer or are you a real live person?"

The voice on the other end immediately responded with a slightly amused sounding "Am I really that bad?" And before I could blink the voice shifted again to the rapid spiel of comments and leading questions.

He just about had me fooled for when I asked him to take me off his calling list this "computer person" simply continued with his script...the same questions he had previously asked...with the exact same intonation and inflection.

Computers are getting very, very good. Or else this guy has been at it long enough for his sing-song spiel to be computerly rote. Either he has almost become a computer or the computer has become almost human.

The entire conversation amused me so that I almost wish he would call back. If this was computer voice, it was a very, very good imitation of a real live person.

I'm warning you now, the robots may be taking over soon.

She said with a grin.

Friday, August 1, 2008

These are the Words of Him who...

One winter we spent several weeks in a small apartment in southern California. During those weeks I read through and studied the book of Revelation. I don't claim to understand everything in that book, but the letters to the churches in Chapters 2 and 3 struck me and I read them again and again.

The letters each follow a similar outline...first, an introduction of "The words of him who...". And each letter ends by stating a reward for "him who conquers" or as some versions say, "overcomes". In the body of the letters are comments on the past and present condition of the churches as well as praise and/or admonition.

I took the letters apart and read all the introductions together as one. I did the same with the endings. It was fascinating.

Here's how the introductions picture Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is God (John 1:1-5, 14).

The words of him who...
Revelation 2:1...holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
Verse 8...the first and the last, who died and came to life.
Verse 12...has the sharp two-edged sword.
Verse 18...who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Rev 3:1...has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Verse 7...the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
Verse 14...the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation.

What a picture of the risen Christ, the One who sits at the right hand of the Father, the One who has triumphed over evil and death and Who gives life eternal to those who are His!

Here, then, are the descriptions of those who are His.

To the one who conquers...
Revelation 2:7...I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Verse 11...will not be hurt by the second death.

Verse 17...I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Verse 26...and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.
Revelation 3:5...will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Verse 12...I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
Verse 21...I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

Each of the letters includes, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

There are parts of Revelation that are complex and difficult. There are multiple interpretations out there, some of which are spurious at best. But these verses give a marvelous picture of the triumphant Christ and are an equally marvelous encouragement to those who belong to Him.

And as the very last verse of Revelation (and the Bible itself), I will add, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."