Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Sometimes Electronics Is A PITA!

I'm having electronics problems in my life - little things that are driving me CRAZY. Two major ones right now are the issue with my "N" key on my computer keyboard and a problem with my phone. Both are pretty important. 

It's hard to write smoothly without a
reliable "N: key. It's used in so many words! 

The "N" key on my computer keyboard is working every other time I push it. Hmmm .... Have you ever thought about or calculated how many times the letter "N" is used in the English language? It is the 5th most frequently used letter in English - that's a lot of relying on a key that is wonky. Argh. For now, I'm typing with greater care and a bit less speed and that's catching almost all of the non-appearances, but it a word looks wrong to you, the reader, I might have missed a missing "N". It's not quite bad enough to justify purchasing a new keyboard, though. I'm going to try and hang onto this one for a bit longer. 

I love my phone. I have it with me all the
time. The fact that it isn't working properly
is really bothering me - a LOT. It's getting
worse, so I'm hoping my local computer
repair store can replace the charging
coupling. It will be less expensive than
buying a new phone. 

My phone, on the other hand, is becoming a much different problem and that's always a very expensive thing to replace. I love my Motorola Droid Turbo 2. I've been using Motorola phones for more than a decade and they work really well for me. But the charging receptacle in my phone has gong wonky and I have to fuss and fight to get the phone to accept a charge. I can't be without a phone, so this is a serious problem. 

ARGH!!!!! I adore my electronics, but hate it when they
won't work the way they are supposed to. 

I'm going to take some time at the shop today (provided I can eventually get the phone to charge back up once more), take screenshots of my icon arrangements and notes about my icon clusters, and tomorrow, I'll take a look at phones at my local Verizon store. I am not due for an upgrade until later this year, so I'd have to pay off my "old" phone in order to get my "new" phone. I really don't want a new phone, so I'm also wondering how difficult it would be to get a new female charging coupling replaced in my current phone. The problem with that is I might have to leave the phone, and I can't do that. The phone is my emergency contact for too many things and it's with me pretty much 24/7. 

I'm hoping for a repair, though. I've set up an appointment for 10:00 am tomorrow morning at a local computer and phone repair store, that just happens to be in the same shopping center as my Verizon store. If they can't fix my phone, I guess I'll go down the block and shop for a new one. I really hope they can fix my phone, though. Much easier and less expensive that way. 

When everything works well, it's like music. Today, things
seem a bit discordant, instead. *sigh*

What the heck did we all do before smartphones, computers, and these wonderful communication devices that allow us to make friends across the world? There is so much good that can happen because of those hands reaching out and contacting each other. Of course, not everything is daisies and lollipops - communication is as two-edged as any other sword. But I think the more we know about each other, the fewer monsters live in the closets. So, on that note, have a wonderful Tuesday. I'm hoping I won't be driving on ice to the gym today - we had freezing mist last night, so ice is a distinct possibility. I just might grab a walking stick for extra stability today. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

What About You? What Did You Do?

I had a really wonderful day off on Sunday, listening and watching some of the Olympics, playing Lord of the Rings Online with DH, and generally relaxing. Of course, as usual, I missed the top skaters since they are always broadcasting them live and it's after I've gone to sleep. I'm bummed about that because ice dancing is my favorite part of the ice skating competitions. DH is bored with all ice skating events except ice hockey and curling. It's not for everyone, I'll admit. I'll try to catch some of the performances streaming on my phone later today. I want to see some of it. 

One of the competitions that DH really loved was the qualifying
runs for Women's "Big Air". The snowboard jump is ten stories
high (there's an elevator on the left of the big ramp). It's
amazingly tall, and they're doing some great flips and turns
off the swoop at the bottom - the one that has the Olympic
rings on it. 

When I learned to ice skate, I learned in Aspen during the summers. There was an ice rink in the western part of town (of course the town was pretty small, so walking there and back wasn't a problem). The "Ice Capades" show summered over in Aspen at that time, and their skaters taught skating in their non-practice hours. I'm bad - I don't remember my teacher's name, but certainly remember his wonderful Samoyed dog - Charlie. Every once in a while, Charlie would squeeze through the lobby doors and nudge open the rink gate, to join us on the ice. It was a merry chase for all of us to catch Charlie, and he loved it - playing with kids on ice was his total joy. 

Charlie loved nothing better than leading the students in a chase
around the ice rink, all of us trying to catch him and put him
back off of the ice. I remember him with great fondness. 

Charlie's owner, who I shall also call Charlie for the sake of convenience, taught me figure skating and ice dancing. I loved ice dancing, but really hated school figures which were still a required part of competition at that time. The older skating fans will recognize what I mean by school figures - those inside edge and outside edge circles on the ice that we had to do for hours at a time. Oy! The worst! In competition, the circles would be judged for how accurate they were, how consistent the edgework was, whether the form was identical from circle to circle, etc. It was a part of the scoring and some good skaters entered into the performance portions of competition already down because of their school figures. 

School or "Compulsory" Figures were a personal hell
for most figure skaters for years and years. Here, Dick
Button works through his figures. Look at the old
pictures and you'll see Peggy Fleming, Dorothy
Hamill, and others of renown working through
their School Figures. These were judged with
rulers and strings. Nasty!!! They were just NASTY!!!

I don't have the greatest sense of balance, so always had a really difficult time with spins and jumps. When Charlie would whisk me around the rink in the basic dances, it was magical. We concentrated on ice dancing for at least one full summer, and I kept up my lessons during the school year the best that I could - a bit harder because it had to fit between my music and my schoolwork. Then I broke my foot, and everything came to a screeching halt. Charlie and the rest of the Ice Capades didn't summer over that next year, and I dropped ice skating from my routine. Sometimes I miss it, but I learned enough to be comfortable on the ice, so a pick-up hockey game isn't out of the question for me. 

The Ice Capades, like many other traveling shows, was founded in
the depth of the Great Depression. It existed for fifty years, even
had a last hurrah under the ownership of Dorothy Hamill. But it
mung up its blades for good in 1996. 

What about you? Was there anything you seriously worked on as a child that you didn't keep up with? Childhood is a time of experimenting - finding out what things are of interest to you and what things aren't. For me ... math and science? Probably not. But music and art? Oh yeah. Those are still my happy things. 

Today I'll just beat the snow as I visit my Chiropractor, and then return to my home suburb. It should start falling around the time I'm at breakfast. Of course, that means DH will be caught it in while he's driving back and forth. That's not a good thing, so I'll be worried about him until he checks in later on. We'll get a few inches out of this one. *sigh* Have a wonderful Monday, I'll be back tomorrow. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Weekend Looms - Huzzah!

As we get ready to enter the final week of the Winter Olympics, I have to say I'm enthralled once again with the Olympics in general. The competition between the athletes is breathtaking, but what I love most of all is the camaraderie shown by the athletes towards each other. Maybe instead of killing the lawyers, as Shakespeare proposed, we should just get rid of the politicians and exist in a world-wide society of celebration of achievement in sports, art, and personal expression. Everyone has something they're good at. Maybe our world should celebrate that instead of pointing out our political differences - emphasize the positive instead of the negative. 

What a good thought! But never saying anything negative
about others is almost too hard for most human beings.
So criticize with kindness, look for the positives, and
greet performance with encouragement. Make the
world a nicer place in which to live. 

A 7.2M earthquake hit south-central Mexico last night, south of Acapulco in the provide of Oaxaca. The area had six earlier earthquakes ranging from 4.2 to 5.8, starting on the 14th. Oaxaca is less densely populated than Mexico City or other cities in Mexico, but there was still damage and I'm quite sure that people lost their lives and homes and possibly their livelihood. I haven't heard any rumblings of "Gee, sorry this happened. Would you like some help?" coming from Washington DC. Shame on us! 

Did any phone calls go from the White House to the
President of Mexico asking this question? You'd think
it would be plastered on the front pages, and I haven't
seen a single word. Hmmm ....

Thursday and Friday I spent most of my workday doing repairs and restrings for customers. I had two of my favorite ladies bring in some really interesting antique necklaces and bracelets that they wanted repaired, so I had some fun for a couple of days getting them looking like new. I'll email each of them today to let them know their items are fixed and that they can pick them up. I love it when my repairs revolve around antique pieces and interesting designs. They kick my brain into high gear and pull my focus from my surroundings into the task at hand. It might not be MY art, but it is someone's, and I have so much fun making their vision perfect once again. 

The Men's Figure Skating was Yuzuru Hanyu's to lose, and he skated
brilliantly. The talk of the night was Nathan Chen's SIX quad
jumps, though. The pressure was off the USA Champion and he
relaxed and did an amazing performance. Still Hanyu got the gold,
and well done! 

On that note, I'm closing this off and heading out to the pool. We're supposed to get anywhere from 3-8 inches of snow starting tomorrow night, just in time for my bi-weekly Chiropractor appointment. I hate driving in snow, and it looks like that's the way it's going to be on Monday. Oh well, I'll enjoy my weekend up until the flakes start falling. Have a wonderful weekend and I'll be back on Monday, (although my Monday blog might be very short since I'll have to shovel before leaving for the pool). Have a fun weekend and go watch some Olympics! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Competition - It's In The Blood

So either the producers of Project Runway All-Stars realized they would be competing against the Winter Olympics and pushed things off for a week, or (and this is probably more likely), they scheduled the next show so that it wouldn't conflict with New York Fashion Week, which is in full bloom right now. Every day my in-box is crowded with more photos of fashion collections, most of which I look at with "meh", a few of which I look at with interest. Of course, I'm middle America and I'm over 50 - it's a hard demographic to design for and usually designers appearing during NYFW won't bother with my demographic. 

US Figure Skater Vincent Zhou landed a Quad Lutz, the first time ever
in international competition. Pretty awesome. 

Since I had a night off from fashion, I watched the Olympics with DH for a couple of hours. He was happy to have my company and I was pleased to be able to share some time with him. Of course, I hit my wall just as the Men's Figure Skating Short Program was getting to the top contenders. I was in bed and asleep before the warm-ups stopped. My wall is pretty dramatic and doesn't leave any wiggle room. I'll be watching clips today, and catching repeats of the better programs, but it was disappointing to miss the beginning of this stage of the ice skating competition. 

International piano competitions exist throughout the world. I can't
imagine how anyone can actually choose one or the other. 

Competition is blood deep in humans, isn't it? I wonder if it runs as deeply in other species - dogs, cats, the deer in the forest, the magpies in the trees. Among humans, if we don't have a competition, we seem to invent one. Artists gather their works together in varied competitions, out of which have come some stellar pieces and also some strong disappointments. France was famous for the artistic competitions held in the late 1800's and early 1900's. 

Art competitions can be school-wide, local, national or international. They
can be age-specific, or media specific. There are thousands of art
competitions - one for every aspiring artist. 

Musicians also have competitions, often centered around one particular instrument. Piano and violin come to my immediate thoughts, but I guarantee there are competitions for almost every instrument, including the human voice. Often winning these competitions can mean employment, grant monies, or a fast-track to fame and fortune on the concert stage. 

Kids race against each other all the time. It may not be formal, but
it does seem to be genetic, or at least cultural. 

If there is no formal competition, humans will tend to invent one. "Race you to the street", was common in my neighborhood as I was growing up. "Bet I can hit the ball farther than you", is also common as a pick-up competition. When the one-on-one competitions of youth are transferred to business and the board room, corporate competition ensues and, sometimes, humanity benefits (or totally crashes and burns). Sometimes all is sacrificed for the purpose of winning the competition. 

So, as an only child who has a competitive streak, I look at where we are in the world today and I know that a great deal of what surrounds us is a result of competition. It's basic - that desire to go one more step, find out one more thing, crest one more mountain or forge one more river. I wonder if competition goes as deeply as the cellular level ... 

Have a fantastic Friday. It's the first Friday of Lent, so I'll be picking up McDonald's Fish Sandwiches for Friday dinners for a few weeks. I love the stupid things, so even though I don't walk that religious pathway, I'll participate in the food deal. It's all good! Be back tomorrow ...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

V-Day, Olympics and Fashion

Yesterday was my day off, which revolves around grocery shopping, house cleaning, my weekly conversation with Aearwen, and laundry - several loads of laundry which take most of the day to do, fold, and return to the appropriate drawers and closets. When I went upstairs yesterday morning to gather DH's pile of clothes and towels, I found a sealed large pink envelope sitting atop the pile. After getting the laundry into the washer, I settled down and opened my valentine and it was so sweet, it actually brought me to tears. Yeah! That was a good one! 

There are a LOT of Valentine's Day cards out there, but
out of all of them, DH chose well - REALLY well. It's
not often that a card will make me tear up. His choice
this year did exactly that. 

My gift to him was a replacement hot chocolate mug - replacing his favorite mug that broke last fall, and a small box of dark chocolate covered caramels sprinkled with sea salt. They're one of my favorite chocolates, so I picked up two - one will go to the shop for special treats for myself. I deserve little treats too - LOL. 

Dark chocolate covered caramels with sea salt are one of my favorite
chocolate treats. It's the perfect combination! 

One of the articles in our local newspaper revolved around "dream dates" and it got me thinking. On the spur, I didn't come up with a tremendous dream date - I think DH's idea of a few days in Santa Fe, New Mexico, visiting places we used to hang out and having some amazing meals in one of the best food places of the country, sounded much better than my Maine Lobster dinner and fancy brunch on the East Coast. But I'm curious. What would your dream date be? Money and distance is no object for dream dates - so think outside the box for this one. 

The Canada v Great Britain men's curling match was hotly
contested and there were some incredible shots made.
Canada prevailed, but it wasn't easy. 

Finally, we're continuing to watch the Olympics. It's such fun. Yesterday's men's curling match between Canada and Great Britain was really excellent - some incredible shots there. The Women's Giant Slalom was finally able to get into the books, and there were some wonderful times, and I really enjoyed the Nordic Combined in the late afternoon - combining ski jumping and cross country skiing. 

Mikaela Shiffri pulled off the win with a gold medal performance
in the Giant Slalom. Although slightly behind after the first run,
the event is based on a combined time of two runs and she made
up for the deficit in a stunning second run down the mountain. 

Tonight is a Project Runway All-Stars night, though, so the Olympics will be shelved for an hour while I dive into fashion. I've been looking through collections shown for New York Fashion Week over the past two days. There have been some interesting pieces walking the various runways, and some horrid clothing as well. Interested in see what's out there? Probably the easiest link is Harpers Bazaar. Just click on the link and flip through the photos. And life goes on - LOL. Tonight's challenge is Avant Garde and I'm really looking forward to seeing what the designers come up with. Can they manage to think outside their comfort zones? 

Have a truly excellent Thursday, be kind to others, and I'll be back tomorrow - at least, that's the plan. Watch an Olympic event or two - it's a lot of fun. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentines, Family and Competition

Today is Valentine's Day. Do you have a sweetie (two legged or four or maybe winged) who will be getting a special kiss or treat from you today? Although I'm not cooking anything out of the ordinary for tonight's dinner, I do have cards and a small gift for DH. 

Have a happy Valentine's Day, spent with those who love you,
human or other. Don't forget your pets - sometimes it's their
unrelenting love that can carry you through those hard times. 

I also received an unusual email in my in-box this morning.  I don't have much of a family; most of them were killed during the Shoah - the formulaic murder of Jews and others by the Nazis during WWII. However, there were a few survivors in my Dad's family, and one of the cousins started gathering family information many years ago. There was a reunion five years ago in Prague, Czechoslovakia, which I heard about after the fact. Now there is another reunion coming up, this time in Germany. The email contained family trees and other information, and suddenly I have family! It's a bit of a shock when all is said and done. I'm so used to going at things solo or with DH and his family. I'll take some time today to look things over with greater care, and I'll also reply to the email. I won't be able to attend - this time - but would love to stay in touch. 

It's rather amazing to realize that I have a whole lot
of relatives living throughout Europe. I'm not used
to thinking that I have much family, but it appears
that I have hundreds of people I've never met. 

DH and I are still glued to the Olympics. Last night was a channel changing clicker marathon flipping between "The Curse of Oak Island" and the Olympics, but since most of Oak Island seemed to be the history of the Knights Templar, and since we're already pretty well acquainted with that, we spent most of our time watching the men's final in the half-pipe competition. Wow, those guys really caught some serious air! Amazing to watch. 

Shaun White pulled some major air in the half-pipe to end up
with the Gold Medal in this hotly contested event. It was
really fun to watch, and the outcome wasn't a given until
the very last run. 

During the day, although I am not watching while at the shop, I do have the Olympics on in the back room and I listen. It was a fun listen when curling came on. There's nothing that sounds like that sport. The yells and instructions are unique, and I could recognize the sport just by the sound of it. I finally had a chance to listen to the final match of mixed doubles. Congratulations to Canada for the first Olympic Gold Medal in Mixed Doubles Curling. It was well played and there was some stiff competition from Switzerland, even if the final score didn't reflect it. 

I like the sigil for Curling used at the Olympics. Apparently
there are "curling stone pillows" being sold in the
souvenir shops as well. LOL

The wind is throwing some serious kinks into the skiing schedule. Tuesday's women's slalom had to be postponed because of wind and events are getting compressed into the late days of the schedule. This is not only bad, but could end up being dangerous because events are starting to stack one on the other without a lot of down time. 

So, I'm ready to start my "day off" which, as usual, will be filled with lots and lots of stuff. We're having a single "warm" day today too, which will be pleasant. Here's hoping you have a terrific Wednesday and I'll be back tomorrow ... at least, that's the plan. Have a very happy Valentine's Day. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Snow Sports Have Grown Up

Snow sports have come a long way from the time when I was a kid. When I grew up the choices basically revolved around ice skating (figure, hockey or speed) and snow skiing (downhill or cross country). Oh, and I can throw snow shoeing in there, but that usually wasn't considered to be recreational. Skis were long and heavy, made of solid wood with metal edges, and they featured cable bindings - no snap in/snap out bindings yet. Ice skates were pretty much the same, at least they were still a short boot attached to one of three blades - the long blade of speed skating, the smooth toed shorter blade for hockey and the toothed blade for figure skating. 

I own hockey and figure skates and DH owns hockey skates. Were
you aware that skate blades are ground so that the edges are longer
than the interior core of the metal? It's very precise and allows
for more or less grip on the ice. 

I grew up in the Colorado mountains, so of course I wanted to try snow sports. My parents were NOT sport oriented - they didn't participate in or watch sports. In fact, it's a bit of a miracle that I grew up enjoying sports as much as I do. Nonetheless, they supported me when I wanted to participate in snow sports - paying for figure skating equipment and lessons and allowing me to borrow old skis from my godmother's family to learn skiing in Aspen/Snowmass when I went up in the winter to visit my godmother and my cousins who lived there year-round. 

Aspen and Snowmass were coming into their own
in the 1960's ad early 1970's. I learned to ski on
Aspen's slopes and I can't ask for much better
than that. I learned OK, but never really took to
the sport. My bad. 

Skis were long, in the days of my youth, and my skis probably weren't the best length for my height, and certainly weren't the best weight for me to learn with. Still, I managed to get up and down the mountain on the "bunny" slopes, and took the chairlift up to ski down the beginner's slopes. But I never felt comfortable with skiing. I wanted a shorter set of skis - something that didn't come into common useage for a few more years. Although I did ski throughout my college years, I never truly enjoyed it because I never felt very confident on the slopes. When I badly twisted my knee on a college outing to a nearby slope, I tossed the skis into the trash and called it quits. 

I stopped skiing after my knee incident, and a decade later,
moved to the Frozen Northlands. They have skiing
up here - on hills. No mountains around here. I laugh
when people downhill ski up here - there's no height, so
how can they downhill? I can understand cross-country
skiing up here, but I don't see how people can downhill
 without a good vertical drop. 

I look at today's snowboarders and wonder if I wouldn't have embraced either shorter skis and/or snowboarding in my youth if they had been an option. I've always lived where there is snow, and it's silly to not embrace it. I still ice skate on occasion, and in the Frozen Northlands, during our winters, we have outdoor neighborhood skating rinks everywhere. If I wanted to (and if there wasn't an informal pick-up hockey game going on) I could skate outdoors every day during the deep winter. But I'm old now, and have brittle bones. 

Although most organized ice hockey takes place on indoor rinks in our
many ice skating arenas, during deep winter there are smaller outdoor
rinks available 24/7 for anyone to use. Some of them don't get used often,
others are always busy. Outdoor rinks are also used on many of our
frozen lakes for hockey tournaments, etc. Embrace the cold and it's
not too bad (but also dress appropriately). 

So I watch the younger people skate, on ice and on in-line skates during the non-snow months, and I envy them in many ways. I used to love going fast on blades or wheels. It's not as much fun to just watch from the sidelines. Watching the best in the world, though - that's fun! I adore the Olympics, and I'm really having a great time watching the current Winter Games. 

Well, off to the pool to do something I still can do - swim my daily mile. Happy times for me. Have a great Tuesday and I'll return tomorrow.