Sunday, February 27, 2011

Week one without a newspaper

As I said in Experiment in printless news, I put my newspaper on vacation hold for two weeks to see if I could live without what is, for me, a tradition and habit combined.

So how did it go?

Day One - doesn't really count because my vacation hold didn't.  Hold, that is.  My paper was delivered as always.  While I walked the dogs I remembered how thorough and engrossing the coverage had been of the Tuscon tragedy.  Would I have wanted to miss that?   And in the paper I read an interesting article on the Big Horn Sheep overpasses on the highway by the Hoover Dam.  This article was listed on my iGoogle, but I don't know that I would have been as interested by the headline without the photo. 

Day Two - this time the vacation hold held.  I had no paper intentionally for the first time in at least 20 years.  AHHH!.  Moment of panic.  With my breakfast I read a fascinating article in the Smithsonian on the various wavelength telescopes that are perusing our universe. The article included some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen. 

At work, I skimmed my iGoogle headlines, but nothing caught my interest.

Day Three - ate my bagel breakfast while catching up on Twitter on my phone.  I tried to read comic strips on my phone but the print was way, way too small, even with readers on. 

Again, the iGoogle headlines interested me not.

Day Four - in Smithsonian magazine I read an interesting article on Samuel Eliot Morrison, a World War II historian that wrote a fifteen volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.   

News?  What news.

Day Five  - for some reason, in my driveway there is a copy of the East Valley Tribune.  I flip through it with breakfast, thinking it will curb my news hunger.  I am not impressed.  And it carries hardly any comic strips.  I abandon it to pore through a Leanin' Tree greeting card catalog.

At work, I overhear a conversation about Charlie Sheen's spectacular, incoherent rant and check it out on-line.  Maybe news by water cooler can keep me current?

Day Six - I am starting to feel uninformed and disconnected.  I miss the columnists I read daily and weekly.  I soothe myself with the new issue of SyFy magazine. 

Day Seven - Sunday.  I am lost without my paper.  The Sunday issue is full of fluff and folderol that I don't read, but it has my Sunday comics, the Brand column (which I can't find on-line), and the pet of the week.  I read part of Mental Floss magazine with breakfast. 

Afterward, I decide to order the net book I have been contemplating.  Perhaps I can use it to read the news with my breakfast.

Printless does not have to mean news less.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Experiment in printless news - Day Zero

So I took the plunge, or rather the mini-plunge.  I put my newspaper on vacation hold starting tomorrow to test whether living without it would throw me into a panic.

I like to read when I eat, but I have other items to read; magazines, short stories, news on my phone.  Will this be enough?  Will I be able to keep up with the news on-line?

Today, the last delivery day, I made a note of all the things I dislike about my newspaper.  Besides the previously blogged lack of content  The disappearing newspaper, I dislike - front page foldovers, advertising stickers pasted over the headline, ungrammatical sentences or speling errors that *any* computer should catch, and the shrinking size of the comics.

Add to that, I have never forgiven them for swapping out the Parade magazine on Sundays for USA Weekend.  Plus, recently some of my newspapers have been scented which aggravates my allergies. And they have a tendency to exclude the weekly columns I like whenever the mood strikes them.  

Lastly, a particular pet peeve is they charge me extra for the Thanksgiving Day issue because it is such a large edition.  It is large because it contains tons of extra advertising inserts - that the advertisers paid for.  That the newspaper now charges me extra to receive. 

Writing this all down makes me wonder why I have continued to subscribe to the paper for so many years.

Let the experiment begin!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How old are YOU?

Courtesy dictates that people do not ask a woman how old she is.  But still the question comes up on forms and applications, and occasionally, from the socially awkward.

And in those cases, the question always means, what is the chronological time you have spent on this earth?  Since I was born in 1954, my chronological age is 56.

But if instead the question was, How old do you feel?  Well, then the answer would depend on what day, and what time of day, the question was asked.

Some mornings, when I roll out of bed, my muscles stiff and sore from working out or gardening, my hands stiff and swollen from who knows what, I feel - 90, worn out and worn down.

When the dog and I chase each other around the yard, with me breathless from laughing, I feel - 10, young and carefree in the barefoot days of summer.

When I walk into a room full of people I don't know, I feel - 13, walking into junior high on the first day of school.

When I solve a difficult problem at work, I feel - 20, grown-up but idealistic, ready to conquer the world.

When I successfully cope with a household crisis or handyman emergency, I feel - 30, experienced, capable, confident.

Only rarely to I remember that I am 56.  That usually happens after I realize that 2012 with be my 40th high school reunion.  Or that my quiz book was published 32 years ago.  It is hard to keep thinking of yourself as 25 when those facts pop up.

So how old do I feel?

I feel ageless.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is no dark at my house.

At night, with all the lamps in the house turned off, I have no trouble navigating the stairs in my house.  A street light shines in through the upstairs bedroom window and the neighbor's porch light shines in through the upper dining room window.

But even without either of those, I realized last night that my house is never truly dark.  A surfeit of caffeine kept me awake and I walked through the house cataloging all the lights that stay on.

Master bedroom - green light from the smoke alarm
                            red light from the phone extension charger

Master bathroom - very bright green light from the sonic toothbrush charger (which is why it is turned to the wall)

Front bedroom - green light from the smoke alarm.

Hallway -green light from the smoke alarm

Glass studio- green light from the smoke alarm
                    green light from the battery charger for my buffer

Loft/Office - green light from the smoke alarm
                  red light from the phone extension battery charger
                  3 green and 1 blue (pulsing) light on the wireless router
                  4 green on the modem
                  large green square on the thermostat control

Family room - green light from the smoke alarm
                     red light from the phone extension battery charger
                     white clock numbers on the stereo receiver (why does a stereo need to know the time?)
                     1 yellow, 1 green light on the satellite receiver

Kitchen - the worst room of all for lights and there isn't even a smoke alarm.
               3 red lights on the phone answering machine
               white LED on cell phone charging on the counter (it's always there, so it should count)
               green digital clock numbers on the stove
               green digital clock numbers on the microwave (which is just above the stove)
               2 very bright blue temperatures and 3 bright blue symbols on the refrigerator, which are reflected in the kitchen window to double the brightness.

I'm not sure what committee decided everything we buy needs to light up.  I've looked at manuals trying to find instructions for turning at least some of these off.  And not just because I would like to eliminate vampire energy.

Sometimes I long for a little dark.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Videos can ruin or improve a song

Music has the ability to evoke mental images when you listen to it.  I've found that watching a video after hearing a song I like can enhance or ruin the song for me.

The video for Sugarland's "Stay" evokes such powerful emotions that it made the song even more emotional.  It's a simple video of Jennifer singing into the camera with no special effects. The emotions are so raw, it makes you want to cry with her.

The humorous videos Brad Paisley does for his songs make the songs even more fun to listen to afterward.  'On-line' is a hilarious take on internet chatting.  "I'm Gonna Miss Her" told the story of a fisherman's wife who tried to put her foot down.

Sugarland took a risk with "Stuck on You".  The first time I heard the song I thought it was a sweet love song.  The video was a hilarious ode to a stalker and her dedicated side kick.  Although I sometimes visualize the video when I listen to the song, I still can visualize the sweet love song that first attracted me.

Another video that successfully took a risk was Eric Church's "I Got a Brand New Girlfriend".  The song is an ode to a quick recovery from a break up.  Or at least it was when I heard it on the radio.  In the video, the recovery is a little slower since the girlfriend is the plastic variety.

Two songs that were ruined for me by the video are Joe Nichols' "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" and Toby Keith's "Bullets in the Gun".

When I heard "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off", I visualized it as the story of a man fondly commenting on his young wife's eccentricity.  I also imagined her coming home mostly clothed.  So I was disconcerted when the video portrayed the woman in the song as an older aunt, who stripped naked and streaked when she had too much tequila.  Unfortunately, that visual has overridden my original idea. 

I took "Bullets in the Gun' as sort of a Bonnie and Clyde allegory where the guy and girl meet, commit a crime, flee, get caught and go out together in a blaze of gun fire.  In the video, the girl he meets escapes getting shot, takes the money, leaves the guy to die, and drives away on his motorcycle.  Girl taking advantage of guy is a whole different flavor.

These are just a handful of examples of how videos can go right or wrong.  And others may not agree with my evaluation.  I just know that it annoys me when a song I like is ruined by the video.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I joined a gym - again

I belonged to a gym about 5 years ago.  I lifted weights, used the elliptical, and the weight machines.  I got into pretty good shape. I was never interested in the group classes that were offered.  I was too shy to walk into a class where I feared I would be the only person who didn't know what was going on.

About 4 years ago, I hurt my neck, stopped going, and lost my motivation.

Last January I started taking a Bollywood dance class.  I have always wanted to learn to dance and this seemed like an inexpensive way to learn, have fun, and get a little exercise.  I was a little concerned about not knowing anyone, but I got over it and had fun.  And the class motivated me to start using my treadmill again.

This year, the instructor changed the day of the class and the new day just didn't work out for me.  I kept walking on my treadmill, but I knew that alone wasn't enough.

Last week, Fate nudged me into taking action.  I stopped at the lab to have blood drawn for my regular doctor visit.  While I was there, an 86-year-old man came in.  He was bent over with dowager's hump and each step that he took covered only 4".  Now, I commend him for being up and about and without a caretaker.  But I don't want to end up like that.  I aspire to be like my former mother-in-law.  She is 96 and still drives "the elderly" to their appointments. 

That was a small nudge, but not enough.  Then I went to Target.  Now, Target is not my normal shopping venue.  So it was fortuitous when I ran into a friend from Bollywood.  We chatted and she mentioned that she belonged to my old gym, but didn't go any more.  She said if I started, she would go with me to classes. 

The next day, I went to the gym and reinstated my membership.  The day after that, I took my first class.  Alone.  It was a yoga like class and it emphasized to me how out of shape I've gotten. 

But I felt really, really good about myself when I completed the class.  And I realized that if I hadn't been in a class with several other people, I would have quit much sooner.  So the structure of the class works for me. 

Last evening, my friend and I did our first class together.  I would have skipped class if I hadn't promised my friend I would be there.  So the buddy system is working as a motivation for me. It was a weight lifting class.  I've never done barbells before, but it was a great workout. 

I have become a convert to group workouts.  I find the variety and energy, and the enforced time period, to be very motivating.

I hope I can stay enthused.  I want this to be a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix.