Monday, July 20, 2015

Mentors who changed my life - Norman VanDeCamp

I've met people who were so afraid of losing their jobs that they were stingy with their knowledge.

Then there are the people who freely share their knowledge with you hoping to make you a better, smarter person.

There are key people in my past that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not sure any of them know how big a difference they made in my life.

Norman VandeCamp was a junior high school Algebra teacher.  I was a girl in his class at a time when girls "not getting" math was considered normal. Lots of girls took simpler math classes to get the requisite credits for graduation.

But I was smart, I wanted to prove it to people, and I figured that Algebra would be easy for me.

It wasn't.  The whole concept of figuring out 'x' baffled me.  It was a huge blow to my fragile self-esteem.

When I showed a willingness to put in extra effort to learn it, Mr. VandeCamp spent time with me and some of the other kids after school. He kept trying different ways to explain the concept of Algebra to me.

One day, the light bulb came on in my head.

It felt amazing.  Suddenly, I got it.  I could do Algebra.

In fact, I got an B in his class.

Big deal, you say.  Who needs Algebra?

He didn't teach me just Algebra.  He taught me that I wasn't stupid.  He taught me that if I stuck to something long enough, I could get it.

He taught me to believe in myself.

Since that time, every time I've struggled with a problem or a concept and stuck with it, I owe that perseverance to Mr. VandeCamp.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dr. Bogie

I mentioned to a friend that on our last visit to the hospital, Bogie wore a tie with medical symbols printed on it.  I said I was looking for a tie with a stethoscope on it.

He brought me a real stethoscope.

Dr. Bogie, I presume

Friday, July 17, 2015

Typeface Pet Peeve

I noticed some graffiti on the way to work the other day and wondered, Why is it that the graffiti artists don't want people to be able to read what they paint?  Isn't being noticed at least part of the point of doing it? 

This has baffled and irritated me in other circumstances, as well.  

New store, or business of some type.  Why don't I know what kind of business it is?  Because the sign is so artistic that it can't be read.  I might look the business up when I'm on-line, if I could read the name. I'm not curious enough to drive over to it to see what type of business it is.  

Isn't the point of a sign to announce your business to the world?  Maybe it's plebeian and inartistic, but black and white signs in block letters can be read and understood. 

Magazine typeface is another source of irritation.  I wrote People magazine when they published an article with a gorgeous gray storm scene as the background image and used a tan font for the wording. 

I couldn't read one word of it.  Too little contrast. Color and contract are important if you want your message read. 

People's response?  The layout of the article was up to the page designer.  In other words, artistry trumped readability. 

You might shrug this off as the rantings of a woman getting older with diminishing vision.  Not so.  My vision is 20/30. 

I just don't understand why people spend a lot of time and/or a lot of money to put out a message that is indecipherable.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A little at a time

I just finished moving 8 garden carts of dirt from the east side of my yard to the west.  This is a small step in my overall plan to lower the east planter and create a low cactus planter on the west side.

The main motivation for lowering the east planter is to prevent the Great Dane from peeking over the wall and antagonizing the neighbor's dog.  Having somewhere to plant cactus is a bonus.

In years' past, this herculean task would have completely overwhelmed me.  Just the idea of the work involved would have prevented me from starting the project.

If it couldn't be finished in sequential days, I wouldn't do it.

But I've started taking a one step at a time philosophy.  I don't have to build a west planter today.  I have to move two garden blocks.  And maybe two tomorrow.

Sometimes two became 4, but eventually I moved the 22 very heavy blocks I needed.

Now I am working on moving the dirt.  I did 8 cartsful today and 4 yesterday.  The west planter is actually a west/south  'L' and the west leg is done.  The south leg remains.

When that is filled with dirt, I can move the "small" cactus from the kitchen.  I have 5 plants that have outgrown the kitchen window.  They really shouldn't be moved until September so I have plenty of time to move the next 20 carts of dirt.

That leaves too many blocks remaining in the 4th layer of the east planter.  So I plan to extend the west planter until all the blocks are moved.  And then move more dirt.  Eventually.

After that, I intend to take the 3rd layer of blocks on the east planter and place them forward of the planter to create a double tier planter.  One layer of blocks in the front.  Two layers of block in the back.

When I am finished, I will have a low planter along the west wall of the yard and a tiered planter on the east wall of the yard.  I have no idea what I will plant in the east planter.  Right now it holds some bedraggled orange jubilee that the hummingbirds like.

I don't have to decide now.  I can chose what to plant when the planter is done.

This year.  Next year.  Maybe even the year after.

There is no rush.
The original east planter.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Maybe Bogie finally got the idea?

Bogie is pretty well trained.  98% of the time.

The exception is whenever he sees a running cat.  I've learned from painful experience that I am better off letting go of the leash.  After all, he comes right back to me.

Until he didn't.

We were out walking pre-dawn when he saw a cat.  The cat ran over the wall of the last house on the street.  Bogie hightailed it around the wall to catch the cat behind the grocery store.  I raced to catch up with him.  He was near the end of the parking area, but was tearing back to me. 

Then he swerved and took the driveway to the front of the grocery store.  As I turned the corner, I saw him clear at the other end of the parking lot disappearing from sight. 

He eventually came back to me.  Sans collar and leash.  But I was freaked out.  What if he had taken off down the street?  What if he had gotten lost?

Someone suggested a shock collar.  I ordered one with 100 levels of vibrate and 100 levels of shock. I set the collar on vibrate 65.

The collar had a remote, but it slept after only 2 minutes.  For two weeks, I put the collar on him and carried the remote in my free hand, checking the remote frequently, waking it up periodically so it would be ready if the situation arose. 

And for two weeks, we saw no cats. 

Finally one morning, he saw a cat and took off.  I pressed the remote.  He didn't seem to react.  And he didn't stop. He chased the cat until it disappeared over a wall. 

I think the collar worked,  Before coming back to me, Bogie stood and stared at me.  Like he was saying, why did you do that? 

Yesterday, we were out walking.  Something piqued his prey drive and Bogie took off.  I pinwheeled, trying to get my footing, and let go of the leash. 

"No!" I yelled. "Dammit, No!'

And he stopped.  In mid-stride.  Just stopped.  

He stopped so fast that the leash spiraled around his legs.  He was only about 8 feet away, but he came back to my side.

Maybe that one session with the shock collar was enough to make him realize that I didn't like it when he ran off.  

Maybe the light bulb finally went off in his head. 

I hope so. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bogie styling in a Bogie tie

If I haven't mentioned it, I do Pet Therapy with my Great Dane, Bogie.  For Christmas last year, I thought it would be festive if he wore a tie.  It was a big hit.

The next time we visited sans tie.  And the staff wondered where his tie was.  So now he has a tie collection.

Yes, a dog with a tie collection.

I thought it would be funny if he had a custom tie with himself on it.  The guys at work thought it was hilarious.  Not everyone at the hospital saw the whimsy.

But those that did were tickled.

I've considered putting this picture on a tie and taking a picture of him wearing that.

But I'm afraid that might create a wormhole in time and space.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Names do hurt, even years later - Baby Huey

Growing up, I was a short, thin child, and no more naive than any other 10-year-old. 

My father took to calling me Baby Huey, 

Baby Huey was a gigantic, naive, and bumbling duckling cartoon character.  

I took this to mean that my father thought I was fat and stupid.

I don't know if that was his intention.  I challenged him on it when I was an adult and he denied ever saying it.

He couldn't remember calling me a name that scarred my self-esteem for years.


He also didn't remember telling me I would never be able to drive a car with a manual transmission "because you won't be able to shift in the corners".  I challenged him on this one when I started driving a semi-truck with 13 gears. "I never said that," he claimed.

I still drive a stick shift.  And I still occasionally think about his comment when I'm driving around a corner.

What's my point?    

Off-hand remarks can scar.  Maybe I was an overly sensitive child.  Or maybe I was just a child wanting validation from her father.

I was devastated for years by remarks that my father didn't even remember making.  It still bothers me that I don't know what his motivation was.  

Did he think he was being funny?

Did he truly think I was stupid or incapable? 

Or was he just drunk?  And does that excuse it?  

 And why, 50 years later, does it still, sometimes, bother me?

Wikipedia link to Baby Huey