Thursday, June 27, 2013

More & Less (of what we need)

I'm supposed to be doing something else right now - something unpleasant and tiresome. Before I get to that, I will blow off some steam with a little (big) rant about people. There are just certain things more people need to be doing more of and other things many of us need to be doing less of. . Of course, all this is just from my opinionated point of view, but here's today's rant:

More people need to spend more time...

  • Getting up and moving around. I'm not talking about just getting up and going to work every day (although that's always good). I'm talking about physically moving your body just to be moving. Take a walk, dance around the house, visit a museum or bookstore. Just do something to keep life interesting. I know people who don't work and still don't use all that free time to live some kind of a life. That's a lot like mental suicide. If nothing else, you are spitting in the face of an ability that some people would give anything for.
  • Learning something. I love the Gandhi quote: "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." You can read tons of studies talking about how lifelong learning is important for staying mentally spry. I'm not elderly (yet), but I'm not very mentally spry. I'm going to do everything I can to work the brain muscles I have left. With the technology we have today, there's no excuse not to take advantage of the opportunities to learn. If you don't have a computer, libraries do, friends do - somebody can hook you up. If you don't have access to a library or friends with a computer, then ask around for help with that or other resources. I bet if you didn't have food, you'd know how to apply for assistance. I'm just saying.
  • Helping each other. Someone you know needs something from you. Maybe some words of encouragement. Maybe they need to borrow your computer! (heh heh) You might be really good at something (cooking or cleaning or math or balancing a budget) that someone else could benefit from learning. 
  • Accepting help and advice. If someone has criticized you, think about the criticism before you get mad and shut down. Sometimes people are just hating, but, sometimes, there's a little truth in a comment - insensitive or not. Don't complain about being sick and tired or depressed if you don't even want to make an effort to get better. Everyone has problems. Not everyone wants to do what it takes to solve their problems.
  • Improving their situation. Unless you are perfect, there is room for improvement. That could go along with any of the previous points. 
  • Being kinder to each other. It is not going to hurt society for all of us to start being a bit more pleasant. When your parents taught you as a child not to talk to strangers, I don't think they meant to turn you into a rude adult. It won't kill any of us to nod, say "hello" or make friendly eye contact with one another. Sometimes I walk through a public place wondering what the hell has everyone so mad or sad. 
If more of us need to be doing more of certain things, lots of us sure do need to stop doing some things. 
  • Stop trying to be "gangsta" or a "hottie" or whatever ignorant, unoriginal thing that happens to be going around. Ever notice that when gangster rap went mainstream, a lot of folks started dressing, talking, walking and having the gansta attitude? You can go into a grocery store and feel crowded out by all the suburban kids trying to be Ice Cube. You want to roll your eyes and shrug it off, but you can never be sure just how far the wanna-bes are willing to go with their role-playing. And don't get me started on the kids running around trying to be the local version of some fake-a-lebrity or reality show idiot. I look at these people talking and acting like whoever is the latest trendy embarrassment with a TV show and think to myself, "What a horrible world." I think to myself, "What. A. Hor-ruh-bull world. Ohhhhhh, yeahhhh!"
  • Stop supporting things that are bad for us, the world, arts and entertainment. If I could wave a wand and do one thing, it would be to stop another semi-talented singer from taking over the world of music, fashion and (in some cases) politics. Just because we live in a time when almost any one of us can do and be anything, that doesn't mean we should want to do or be just anything. Why not be someone promoting positive and worthwhile issues? If I see another influential singer, rapper, actor or whoever promoting a brand of liquor or rip-off debit card, I'm going to puke. The one thing I hate about some entertainment biggies is that once they get above their former life circumstances, they send nothing positive back down the ladder for others. People, stop validating celebrities who have such disdain for the rest of us. 
  • Stop being victims of the latest thing. I remember way back when somebody scalded themselves with coffee from a fast-food place. Everybody fell on the bandwagon. Now, we can't buy gum without warning labels on the wrapper not to get a paper cut. The latest thing is bullying. I wonder sometimes if we don't live under a herd mentality. The first time I heard  of a person feeling damaged from being bullied, I remembered how I was picked on because of my scrawny size in my early school years. Later on, I got teased for being so dark-complected. Eventually, I learned to fight the kids that physically picked on me, then I grew a thicker skin and a stronger self-esteem against the problems. It was maybe a couple years ago that I first read about someone being driven to suicide by bullying. What? Maybe I am not fully aware of the type of problems going on in schools these days, but... There are kids who have to go to school (or just live day to day) in the middle or war zones and famines. When I hear about first-world problems like bullying, I kind of expect people to be just a little bit tougher.  (Please understand that I am not blowing off the fact that people have been hurt by bullying to the point of suicide. If kids in our schools are being subjected to bullying of such an extreme extent, something extreme should be done by authorities or parents before it gets that out of hand. Maybe what's happening today isn't the type of bullying I grew up with.)
There are a lot more things I could rant about, but now that I have this off my chest, I feel better.


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." (Plato)

"For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others." (Sam Levenson)

(both quotes from Good Reads.)

Speaking of Learning

Since I mentioned my hopes of getting into the field of coding, I thought I would pass along links to the different sites I've been seeing. Whether you are looking to learn something, or find (like me) a new career path, or are just interested in learning for its own sake, here are some resources:

For coding -
  • Codeacademy (nicely set up for the beginner to track learning progress)
  • W3Schools (self-described as "the world's largest development site)
  • Udacity has an Intro to Computer Sciences that looks organized & practical.
  • Hackety Hack is a downloadable program to teach you to... program. 
For app development & other -
  • Coursera offers free courses of all kinds, including those in computer science. Check to see which courses are open for which dates. 
  • General Assembly offers courses both online and in classroom. The Mobile Development and  Web Development courses look interesting.
  • Sitepoint offers to show how to design apps without having programming skills. (Should I be worried?)
  • Mozilla offers a tool to help you get creative while Google has a learning spot for developers interested in their products. (Now that Google has surpassed Apple as the most valuable company, it might be nice to jump in on the learning.)
There are tons of courses and classes and intructors to be found on the web for just about anything you want to learn. For this post, I listed sites that I have seen mentioned more than once in articles and reviews. I also tried to list only free courses, but some sites offer a choice of free and paid, so read the small print. Most of all, have fun learning something new. At 50-and-change, I am just trying to keep up with the kids.


Monday, June 24, 2013

New Things

So, I am still on what I am calling my "Discovery Tour." I'm trying to discover a new career path. Actually, I'm pretty open to a new life path! (My sister says I am just having mid-life jitters, but more on that in a moment.)

Since I loved my last job, I hope there's a way I can get back to it, but... There would have to be some modifications and I don't know how well that would go over. My next option would be a business, but I am too much of a dreamer and my pockets are too flat right now for that avenue. Finally, I come to the option of learning something new that will keep me motivated and employable.


I want to learn to write code. For someone who has days where remembering how to write her name, this might sound ambitious. It is, I guess, but I have made up my mind. I only have a couple anxieties about it right now: this kind of crap and the fact that I might not get the encouragement I need from the folks at Vocational Rehab. Another worry - from inside my own head is - about my ability to learn and retain the necessary information. I've always been a quick study, but I haven't always been "over 50" or struck with any serious illness.


I have made up my mind to give this my best shot. I want to start with writing code and progress to programming.* We will see how it goes. I hope that one day this will apply to me:


*As a programming teacher, one thing does irritate me: the persistent misuse of the word “programming” when the author means coding. Programming is creating the logic, coding is translating that logic into code. Many students come into class able to code, but almost none come in able to program — that is, create the logic. They think sitting down and making spaghetti code is programming.

Tom Fordham (Yep)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Money in Your Jammies

I've had the worst past few days. EVER. I won't soak your shoulder pads with all my tears, but just to give you an idea:

My computer is being crazy. I might have to reset it and start over.
Even when my PC was behaving, my internet service wasn't. Shame on ACS!
My phone has decided to cop an attitude...
For the last few days, I have felt (physically) like a microwaved turd

Yeah. Just... Yeah.

But I am considering it a blessing that I am here to complain. And here to share something with you.

You ever wondered if there was something you could do to make your downtime work for you? Not me, but I have wondered if I could maybe make some money until I am back on a "real" job. Let me tell you, any and every piece of monetary metal would be a blessing over here. I can't remember how I found the first site, but once I did, I scouted out a few work-via-the-internet leads. Without further ado, here you go:

I am not doing reviews of the sites because I haven't tried any yet. Those listed above, though, do see to have the most positive commentary by other bloggers and forum members. There are ton more that I heard of or found:
Just for kicks and snickers, I did a search and came up with so many sites: getacoder, guru, getafreelancer, scriptlance, ifreelance... ~shrug~

I sure hope that some of these sites are worth your time to check out. Times are a little tight for a lot of us. Sure would be nice to score some income without having to put on your good underwear.


(And to +Alex Taller+Sandy Sandmeyer+Kim Barnes+Spencer Bryant+Marla Hughes & +J.D. Hughes and so many of the sweethearts over on G, I will be back soon to check up on all of you!)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Song, Many Feelings

You all know that I love music. I think it's one of the most wonderful gifts from the Creator.

One of the greatest songs ever, ever, ever recorded is, I believe, Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." But not  as sung by Cohen. Or Rufus Wainwright. Or anyone else I've heard sing it - although this version is pretty in a self-conscious way. Bless Cohen for the lyrics that try explaining love, but it's the Jeff Buckley version that moves me to a beautiful place.

The song is on my mind because it's one I use to set the tone as I work on one of my on-going stories. Sometimes, when I need a good memory of love, I play the song in an loop for hours. Listening to it when I've been assaulted by thoughts of my lat relationship is like taking a shower after rolling in mud.

I felt so strongly that Buckley made the most perfect version that I spent a few minutes searching some information. According that bible of secular wisdom, Wikipedia, I'm in the majority. And I find it lovely that Buckley himself was able to put words to a thought I had when he described it as a "hallelujah to the orgasm." Not just a physical exclamation of the senses, but that spiritual sort of sealing of a bond we make with someone we love. It's a pretty powerful song.

Here's Rufus Wainwright. I found his version nice, but not intimate or sweet enough for the words being sung.
And the lyricist Cohen. This version made me feel like I was being prayed over by a fire-and-brimstone minister.

And Buckley, who sang as if he truly understood what it would mean to sing the words only to someone who deserved hearing them.

As you listened, did you find yourself holding your breath?


Monday, June 10, 2013

Polish, Oil & Cleanse (the body, that is)

Since I have been having such a suck-y couple of weeks, I decided to treat myself to something special after the gym today. Instead of my usual mad-dash shower at Planet Fitness and sun-drying on the way to pick up my sister, I came home and pampered myself before getting back out in the sun. Here's the treatment, if any of you are interested in trying it (guys too!):

  • Salt Scrub (salt ground down to a consistency slightly finer than table salt) I use this salt scrub from my health food store: 

    A dead sea-salt scrub $5.99 at Natural Pantry
  • Oil (I prefer coconut or olive, but that's just me. I supposed a good cooking oil cook do...?) This is what I have a HUGE bottle of that I got on sale: 
  • Warmth. I turned the heat up and barricaded myself in the bathroom with the hot-water shower running for about 10 minutes to get it nice and steamy.
If you are using your own salt and oil (and not a pre-mixed scrub), first put the oil on your skin, then add the salt. I did my legs and torso - front and back. Massage the salt and oil gently so as to exfoliate skin. Let the oil and salt rest on your skin for a while as you sit in the humid heat. When finished relaxing, shower with water only. After your shower, apply some oil and lotion all over.

When I finished this treatment, I couldn't stop touching my skin. It really felt nice, especially while I was applying my lotion/oil mix. I suggest that, unless you are going straight to bed, um, naked, lightly pat yourself down with a towel so that you don't stain your clothes. (Even though, I've heard that coconut oil is a natural sun-block, I use a 100 SPF on my face anyway.

I left to pick up my sister, looking great - all smooth and dark brown and shining like new money! LOL

By the way - the "cleanse" part of this is something that +Marla Hughes & I had a giggle over. It's cucumber water. Just a big tall glass of it. But ONLY when you are going to be near a restroom for several hours. The first time I drank this water, I was at the gym. I had to get off the treadmill, wipe it down (because of gym rules, not because I peed on it!) and do a Jesse Owens getting to the bathroom before I embarrassed myself. TWICE in an hour and a half. I finally gave up my workout and went home. 

Cucumber water is easy (and thanks to my niece, +Gabrielle B for telling me):

A cuke, sliced very thin, put into a BIG pitcher of water. Leave overnight and - you got Cuke Water. One good-sized cucumber produced a pitcher and a half of water for me. I drank the first pitcher half-way until the water got too "strongly" flavored, then I added more water for the next day. Gabby says she adds a little sweetener to hers. I drink my sugarless. I read here about the benefits of this water. I wish I could find again the page saying cukes are nature's strongest diuretic... I did find this page of benefits of cucumbers. Here is another source of info. (This is the www, so grain of salt, folks.)


Saturday, June 08, 2013

Peace Amid the Books

There is no place like a library, is there? Even with all of our electronics that allow us to read "books" on our computers, phones, tablets, phablets, Kindles... there is something about a library.

My mind has been playing Jumblina on me lately. I can't concentrate long enough to work on my story. I can't hold thoughts long enough to finishing thinking them.

The library was a nice place to be yesterday. When I couldn't work on my manuscript, I just sat there and enjoyed being alive and in the presence of what other writers have accomplished. Told myself that everything will soon be alright.

God bless Mr. Loussac.

The *Ann Stevens Room (view 1)

The Ann Stevens Room (view 2)

* Ann Stevens was the first wife of the late Senator Ted Stevens.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

We All Laugh As One

I needed - and I mean needed - a good, refreshing laugh today. This video, shared by +Susan Lewis on G+ did it for me.

I have nothing else to say. I couldn't talk right now if I wanted to. My mouth is too full of laughter. (By the way, this explains what set off the giggles.)


Monday, June 03, 2013

Death, Stephen King and Other Musings

I was surprised (at least a little) by this article on Stephen King and his belief in intelligent design. What surprised me is not that he believes in a Creator, but how interesting his view is. He admits that his beliefs are inconsistent. Not many people will cop to that. Most of us will swear that we have never had a doubt in our minds or hearts about what we believe.

Some Christians (me, me, me!) are pretty hardcore about what we will admit when it comes to our faith. I think that's because we want others to see our choice as sweet and easy. "Wade on over here to the Ark, folks! Don't worry, the water's fine!" We try to sell the Christian life as a luxury cruise and not a journey in the hold of a slave ship. The truth: it's kind of both. Depends on which moment of which day you are in the trip.

(Let me borrow some of Stephen King's honesty here and say this: I believe in God, but I sometimes doubt my faith.)

My niece and I were having a conversation about life and death and God and faith. We got caught up in the old wages-for-a-day vs wages-for-a-few-hours dilemma. I don't care how strong my faith is, there are times when I just have to pray hard about that. (By the way, I'm talking about how we all get the same salvation, no matter how early or late we ask Jesus for it.) My niece and I were also questioning the whole issue of whether or not suicides go to Heaven.

For years, I was so staunch and expert (hah!) on all things MY FAITH. I had my very set ideas about how God handles things. All things. I've read the Bible, therefore... I can tell you everything about how God will judge others, but I know He will make exceptions when it comes to me. So there.

Seriously, though, as I told my niece, I know what God says is right and wrong in most general situations, but we are all going to judged individually - not in groups, pairs or on a friends and family plan. I truly believe that, when it comes to how we live our lives - as sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, friends and lovers - when we die, we are all going to have our own conversation with the Lord.

Just because I might know how a person lived, who am I to say what was in their heart when they died? Who am I to understand God's conversation with you about your sin when I am still trying to have my own discussions about my own problems?


Sunday, June 02, 2013

Cleaning Day (Flashback) Music

This is not my usual day to clean house, but got all caught up in the writing yesterday. And, because I am sort of neglecting the blog, I'm doing a cheat post.

I went all "Old School" on it. Here's what I'm vacuuming, mopping, dusting and dancing around to as I try to pull this disaster area of an apartment together:

Can you tell that I LOVE Klymaxx?

Have a great day, all. Let's try to get it together for the week coming up...


Saturday, June 01, 2013

For The Glipho Group

I was talking to a really nice guy over at the social blogging site & really wanted to explain the beauty of Alaska to him. I'm talking about the beauty that we can see just driving around in our cars - not having to fly out over the mountains or get a guide...

So, here is a photo post by someone is not that great of a photographer!

Just a sunset I caught while riding around midtown Anchorage

This is out at Beluga Point. Friend & I drove out one day. 

Can catch a great view even from Walmart's parking lot!

On drive to Beluga Point

Campbell Creek, running next to my family's house

The Homer Spit. Went with fam so they could do fishing charter for the day

Houses sitting on the mountainside at Beluga Point.

Was a beautiful walk in the fam's neighborhood today!

And here are some webcam views

So, yes, Anchorage is gorgeous when she wants to be, but the winters are getting too long for me. I need some heat!