Occam’s Razor

Definition:  “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

Or put another way:   “Keep it simple.  The most obvious answer is likely to be the right one.”

Apparently, there’s no Occam’s razoring when it comes to computer issues.   One starts with the most complicated, the direst, the most difficult, the tech-i-est, the most demanding, the most frustrating, the most complex, the most confusing, the most upsetting, the most time-consuming hypotheses possible.

For eight months now, we’ve been living in a world of hurt, confusion, and despair.

All brought on by malfunctioning computer systems.

At some point, I channeled Mr. Occam and suggested that the Mister’s new computer, and its equally evil twin, the printer, simply be returned and exchanged for new ones.  Sort of like an errant blender or bad toaster.   It seemed, to the uninitiated, to be a good idea.  And, besides, I had Mr. Occam on my side.

But, oh no.  That would have been far too easy.

The excuses for not following that simple suggestion were too many to mention.  And way above my pay grade to challenge.

Mr. Occam’s philosophy went unheeded.  Time and time again.

And this is how it ends.  Maybe.

Computer and printer are in the trunk of his  car.  On their way to being returned.  And exchanged.  Simply.  And, I hope, successfully.

Mr. Occam and I are not saying anything remotely like “We told you so” but we sure are thinking it.

 

 

 

LOCKED

On a recent morning the door on one of the upstairs bedrooms closed nicely behind me.  Just like it always does.  The problem was it wouldn’t open when I wanted it to, a mere few minutes later.  Initially, I found the situation amusing.  Three hours later my sense of humor had gotten up and gone away.

I wanted to be the one who got up and went away.  But I couldn’t.  I was locked in.

I was trapped in one room.  Which was getting smaller all the time.  Happily, my screams reached the Mister who tried….or tried to try….to rescue me.

After a frustrating and seemingly eternal period, the locksmith was beckoned. Tiny tools were passed under the door.  Door hinges were removed.  Nothing worked.  Getting me out was his job and it wasn’t going well.

We love this old house but the layers of paint which have been applied to all surfaces during the years did a wonderful job of keeping me securely locked in.

The mind does funny things when it has been denied access to normal everyday things.  It doesn’t take long to get squirrelly.

Everyone else was able to go up and down stairs, to talk on phones, to eat cookies, to drink coca-colas and attend to increasingly urgent and compelling personal issues.  I couldn’t.  And it wasn’t even my fault.

Obviously, we finally freed me.  I knew we would.  Even though I really thought we could have done it a tad bit sooner.

Captivity is not fun.  And, yes, captivity may be overstatement for my predicament, but the only way out of that room, aside from the locked and painted-over door, was a locked and painted-over window.  Two and a half stories above the ground.

In some small way, I take comfort in the fact that it took three hours to get me OUT.   Surely any sensible burglar attempting to get IN would give up long before that.

 

 

Role Models

I’ve had my share through the years. They’ve taught me, inspired me, been there for me when I needed them.  That’s what role models do, even though they don’t necessarily know they’re doing it.  They’re just there.

At my age, I should be the role model, rather than the role model-ee.  That gets us to the issue of age, among other things.    Surely, I’m too old to expect that there’s someone out there….someone actually older than I am.…who can act as an inspiration.

But wait.

My new role model appeared in our town newspaper just this week.   I know I can’t match her feats of energy, strength, get-up-and-go or bravery.  She is, however, someone to emulate and admire.

I’m personally skilled at finding excuses NOT to do those things which I ought to do.  Now, I look to my new role model and try to follow her lead.

She shows me that I really don’t have excuses for my excuses anymore.

I bemoan a little cancer?   She’s survived three.

Blood pressure’s a tad high?  She has aortic valve stenosis.

I’ve got a little tinnitus?  Her face is numb.

Woke up feeling a touch woozy?  She’s been diagnosed with vertigo.

Just feeling too old?   She’s got more than 15 years on me.

So what would she do with all those non-excuses?  She’d pop out and run a half marathon.  And along the way, she’d continue to raise mega-bucks for her favorite charity.

Granted, she’s exceptional.  But that doesn’t keep her from being there for me.  Even though she doesn’t know it.

 

P.S.  The blog itself is a no-reply site.  If you send me something to or on  it, it goes into the ethers, never to be seen again.  If you don’t have my email address, go to the contact page for the blog and write me that way.  I love to hear from people.  I hate it when someone tells me they were in touch and I know that message is out there in never-never land…never to be retrieved.

 

 

 

“Scar tissue is a good thing.”

So says the author of a new book: “The Vanishing American Adult.”

There was a time when you would’ve had to go a long way to make me think that was a true statement.  For most of my life, I’ve walked around with a scar on one arm and hand, due to a fire when I was quite small.  I never, ever looked at it as a positive.

Fortunately, like many things, the scar and my self-consciousness about it, have faded with time.

I now know that scars are almost always symbols of survival of one sort or another.  I wish I had understood that earlier.

But enough about me.

Our Siamese cat, an elegant example of his species, recently had serious surgery.  A post-surgery pain patch had to be removed quickly and unceremoniously to save his life.  The narcotic was, literally, killing him.  He was going down and going down fast.  That chunk of elegant fur and soft pelt under the patch had to go.

Now he has a scar.  A big one.  A big black spot where the patch was ripped off.  No fur will ever grow there again.  He’s flawed.  He’ll never win any beauty contests.

The thing is that he doesn’t even know about the black splotch.  The scar. He’s oblivious to his flaw. He’s healthy, feels great.  Life is good.  He’s loved, fed, petted, kissed and appreciated.

He has a story to tell, even though he can’t.  It’s a good story.  One of love, a lot of pain and confusion on his part, good medical care and, ultimately, survival.  We look at that big black patch and remember his ordeal.   I think he knows how much we admire him.  He’s sweeter and more loving than ever.

Scars, if understood, add character.  They add substance.  They don’t detract.  They have interesting stories attached to them.  You can’t say that about a whole lot of things.

Perhaps scar tissue is a good thing after all.

 

 

 

Waste not. Want not.

I just put my little brick away.  The one I use to squish every last dib-dab of toothpaste out of its tube.  I’m following the old adage: “Waste not; want not.”

When it comes to things in jars, jugs, tubes or bottles, I WILL get that last drop out.

Those vessels get watered-down, shaken-up, q-tipped, turned upside-down, drained  and swathed to a fare-thee-well.  Waste not; want not.

I cut face cleaners in half; I don’t get dirty enough to merit a whole one each night.  I’ve kept every gift bag that’s ever come in our door.   Little scraps of paper get stapled together to make note-pads.  Wrapping paper and ribbons get ironed and reused.  Waste not; want not.

But, having said that, I own more than one pair of shoes that have never met the floor.  I’ve bought sweaters that were worn once, maybe, and I’ve purchased other things I knew I’d never use just because I felt like it.

Things die in the refrigerator and not always by accident.  Pantry items go past their use-by date all the time.

So the adage doesn’t apply to everything and all the time, at least for me.

I wonder why that is and, frankly, I have no idea.

Ah, sweet mystery of life.

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Woman; Hear Me Weep

I’ve said that this  little blog would not be about politics or health.   It’s just about stuff.  Or nothing. Take your choice.  But politics and health collided with such a resounding thud last week that I simply can’t ignore it.

It was announced on Friday that the GOP Senate Health Care committee is comprised of 13 men.  51% of our population is not represented at that table.  Tell me how that makes any sense at all.

Not one of those men has given birth.  Not one has suffered a miscarriage.  None have gone through menopause.  Or lost a breast or two to cancer.

Goethe said many years ago: “If you don’t feel it,  you’ll never get it.”

So how on this earth, in these United States, can we expect this bill to compassionately and effectively address those elements which affect 51% of us when its designers can’t possibly “get it?”

 

 

 

My Pre-existing Condition

A friend told me, many years ago when I was too young to understand, that “the older you get, the more like yourself you become.”

What rubbish, I thought.  But, she was a wise woman and I now know that statement to be true.

See, I’m an introvert.  A born and bred, dyed-in-the-wool, card-carrying introvert.  I’ve always felt I had a black “I” emblazoned on my forehead.  And the older I’ve gotten, the more like myself I’ve become.  More introverted…if that’s possible.

It’s taken years to accept that but now, it seems, I have no choice in the matter.  I do, indeed, have a pre-existing condition.  Not covered by insurance, alas.  This year or any other.

Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” is known as the fairy-godmother of introverts.  Her research extols us!  Gives us permission to celebrate our introversion.  She even says it’s “cool” to be introverted.  Who knew?

It’s great to be appreciated, if only in literature.  But in reality it doesn’t change much.

Introverts need peace and quiet to re-charge.  The older we get, the dearer that time becomes.

Socialization becomes extreme sport to “mature” introverts.

Coping in crowds?  Well, with age, that goes from the maybe-we-can-do-this to no-way-that’s-happening.

The good news is that we are cheap dates.   Noisy restaurants, big parties, festive events, big galas are all on our no-no list.   Consider the money we save on clothes, mani-pedis, shoes, hair fluffing.

On the other hand, we surely miss out on a lot of fun.

It’s a toss up.

And the older we get, the more like ourselves we become.

Prom

It’s not just a dance anymore.

Personal perspective right up front:  I never went to a prom.  All-girl’s schools didn’t do that.  With good reason.

So, as I listened to a young-ish parent’s concerns about his daughter’s upcoming prom, and its many stressors, I muttered to myself: “Surely this is much ado about nothing.”

Until.

Until I listened more closely.

Getting a bill passed in Congress is surely duck soup in comparison.  The navigating, negotiating, politics, and maneuvering through the plans and pitfalls of today’s proms require a law degree (with a specialty in mediation), a psychology degree, an MBA, and a steely hand.  Mere mortals such as mothers and fathers need not apply.

The committee structure is just the beginning. That might include Wardrobe, Hair, Makeup, Food and Beverage, Travel, Decorations,  Budget, Protocol and Photography.  Other sub-committees may become necessary as the event and its demands loom closer.

Now we have the “Promposal.”  A new word for a new world.  Apparently, the young man no longer simply asks the young woman to accompany him to the Prom. No, these days that invitation should be  jazzed up in unique, special, creative, even secretive, fashion.  And it better be good or the answer could well be “no.”

Then there are the after-parties.  And the after-parties-after-parties.  Now the issue of alcohol comes into play.  Serious, scary stuff.

Of course, there’s Breakfast.  Where, who, what and when?

Toss in social media and it starts to be overwhelming.

Fueling all the angst, of course, are those raging teen-age hormones.

All I can do is listen and take deep breaths for the family.  We just ask that they call us when it’s over.

And not a moment before.

 

 

 

Image courtesy of Clipartfest.com

My Cousin Joe

(Please click on image for a larger picture)

My cousin Joe and I grew up together in the same small town.  We were almost exactly the same age.  Neither of us had siblings.  We had a close relationship for many years.

Eventually, our lives took different turns and we lost touch.

He became an internationally-known journalist and made his mark globally and personally.   Obviously, I didn’t go down that path.  Our wildly disparate lives kept us  apart for over 30 years.

A few years ago, after he’d returned to the states, we re-established contact and got to know each other again.  Sadly, he died in 2013, in a most mysterious way.  We’ll never know exactly what happened.

Last week I received an invitation from my college alma-mater for a reunion luncheon, scheduled for early June.  The cover of the invitation is quite beguiling.  It’s a black and white photo of college kids, in 1960 or so, doing the “frug “or some kind of awkward dance we did way back then.

The photo was clearly taken at a “mixer.”   For those not quite old enough to know about “mixers,” they happened when bus-loads of boys or girls were shipped from one single-sex school into an opposite single-sex school.

Something made me look at the photo several times.  I have no idea what I was looking for but, suddenly, one face in the crowded room popped off the page and took my breath away.

I’d put money on the young man at one side of the picture being my cousin.

Joe wasn’t as tall as most of the boys.  His khakis were always a tad bit too short.  He didn’t  conform to dress codes. He was handsome.  Just like the boy in the picture.

Now I can’t take my eyes off the picture.  Or him.

I’ve called the school to see if they can source the photo.   Maybe they can tell me where it was taken.  I doubt they know the names of the kids in the photo.  But perhaps I could put two and two together.

Part of me wants an answer.  Is it Joe or isn’t it?

The other part of me just wants to hang on to the long odds that his picture simply arrived in our mailbox.  Mysteriously and curiously.   Just like he died.

Please Just Leaf It Alone.

There it is.  I see it.  It’s one leaf.  Blowin’ in the wind.

Well, actually it’s blowin’ in the man-made wind.  The man behind the blower doesn’t seem to know where he wants that last leaf to go.  I could tell him where to put it but that would be inappropriate and he couldn’t hear me even if I tried to tell him.

I think I understand the problem.   People are hired and wages may be determined by time spent on the job.  Work hours are important and so are salaries.  I get that.

It’s the noise pollution, of course, that gets us.

Beautiful days when you’re trying to talk to your neighbor across the fence.

Sunny days when a lie-down on the chaise is just the thing.

Painting a plein air scene on the banks of the river.

A card game on the porch.

The joy is sapped from all those things….and many others….by the leaf blower, the lawn mower, the tree trimmer.   Blow, Mow and Go.

It’s always that last leaf that seems to be the problem.   The clock ticking so the salary can be earned and the family can be housed and fed.

Conundrums?  Yes.  Solutions?  I don’t see any in the foreseeable future.  I hope I’m wrong.

 

On Friends

Sometimes chance provides an opportunity to assess and evaluate what’s most important.

Such was the case this last week when, through another friend, old friends from Ohio happened into my blog and, subsequently, onto our porch.

There was ample wine, much laughter, even political chit-chat….and what fun it was.

Later that night I got to thinking about what seems, to me at least, to be most important in having good friendships.  So, here are those thoughts, unfiltered, as usual.

I’d like to know what you’re thinking; not where you’ve been.

Please tell me what you’re feeling; not what you’ve done.

I’d like to know who you are; not who you were.

I’d like to know what you love and why.

I want to know what makes you cry and why.

And, finally,  please tell me what makes you laugh so that I can laugh with you.

That laughter thing may be the most important of all.  If you can get there, it’s all good.

A Trip to the Cinema

For most people, going to the movies would not be an “alert the media” moment.  But, for us, it is.

So.  Please.  Alert the media.   We actually went to a movie theater.  And stayed for the whole movie.

It’s been years since that happened.

See, one of is seriously allergic to the aroma, the vapors, the mere presence of popcorn.  (That, in and of itself, is so sad.)

We have, many, many times, paid for tickets, settled into a seat and watched the screen for five minutes before the popcorn attack arrives.  We leave abruptly.  There’s really no choice.  We forfeit the fee and are grateful for the fresh air.

So we don’t go there anymore.   To the movies.

But, we were tempted by “Sully.”   Tempted seriously enough that we actually got in the car and drove to the theater.  Paid our money.  Went in and….now you can alert the media….stayed for the entire film.

But, the other one of us….not the popcorn averse one….nearly lost her mind with the ads and movie previews, all accompanied by screaming, pounding, pulsing sounds, pretending to be music.  So much so that we were concerned that we were going to have to leave prematurely again… popcorn notwithstanding.

For some, noise is good.  Very loud seems to be better than sort of loud.   Sounds that deafen are best.

We are reminded that we are no longer the “target” audience.

Our ears are too tender.  Our eyes get too watery.  The violence is too graphic.  It’s all too much.

The movies have morphed into the ultimate sensory-overload experience.

I know it’s wrong to long for Doris and Rock.  Fred and Ginger.  Bogie and Bacall.

But isn’t there something in-between?

 

 

Photo of enthusiastic movie-goers courtesy of union.wisc.edu

Leggo My Eggo

Actually, you can have my Eggo.  Just keep your mitts off my Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle.

Don’t touch it.  Don’t get near it.  Don’t even think about helping me with the clues.  There will be a price extracted for any of that.  Just ask anyone who’s been around me when that happens.  It’s not pretty.

The NYT Crossword people just celebrated their 75th year of publishing crosswords.  I’ve been addicted for almost 50 of those years.

I buy anthologies of NYT crossword puzzles.  I still fill in every blank, knowing full well that I’ve done most of them more than once.   I have just as much fun now as when I did them the first time. Of course, a little memory loss enhances that second-or third time around experience.

For many years, summer Sundays were spent poolside with like-minded fiends, hovering in the shade with the Times puzzle, making sure no one was looking over our shoulders as we filled in the squares.  No sneaking a peek at anyone else’s puzzle. No whispering.  No colluding.  We were on our own to get the thing done.  A.S.A.P.  And the tennis people thought they were competitive!

One of my dearest treasures is a handwritten note from Eugene Maleska, NYT puzzle editor from 1977 to 1993. For a crossword puzzle maniac, that’s like getting a letter from the Dalai Lama.  I had written to the editor asking for help on a puzzle I’d solved but had no idea what it meant.  Apparently, there were many who were equally confused.  In those days, there was no Xeroxing, no faxing, no emailing, no robo-response.  Just a handwritten letter of apology to each of us.

I do the NYT puzzle during the week.   Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are usually do-able.  Thursday starts to challenge and, most weeks, Friday and Saturday are over my head.

And then there’s Sunday.  A lot like Thursday, a little bit bigger and always thematically fun.  I fill in the squares, just like I always have.   And I enjoy it, just like I always have.

And yet, in my mind, I’m back at the swimming pool, surrounded by children playing  Marco Polo,  fellow puzzlers toiling away and, yes, those annoyingly competitive and  sweaty tennis players.

I miss that part.  A lot.

 

Help is on the Way. Maybe.

I’ve recently had cataract surgery and as the song says, “I can see clearly now.”   It’s truly a modern miracle.  Clock numbers are there again.  Street signs are legible.  I can see birds in the trees.  Flowers in the garden.

That’s all good.  Wonderful, in fact.

However, I can now see things on my face and hands that others may have noticed earlier but have had the decency and self-discipline not to tell me about.

All of a sudden, this isn’t adding up.  I spent perfectly good money so I could see better.  Now I have to spend even more money to hide what I saw.

All those splotches, dark areas, deep creases and puffy-nesses are now abundantly clear and visible to the naked (i.e. corrected to 20/20) eye.  And the eye is not happy.

Accordingly, I took myself to our local cosmetics emporium.  I had but barely arrived when I wanted to leave but their bright lights and mirrored walls encouraged me to stay the course if I were ever to have a shred of self-respect.  Or the confidence to appear in public, now that I was seeing what others have seen for who-knows-how–long.

I wandered in that glitzy, shiny, over-stated, beguiling never-never land all by myself for a while before I begged for assistance.   As it happens, there was more than one person who was eager to help me.  There’s good and bad to that.  Was I that needy or were they just naturally helpful?  Turns out, I think it was both of those things.

I was there for quite a while and won’t bore you with the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the trials, the patches, the promises and assurances.  Suffice it to say that I spent money.  More money than I’d planned on spending.  No one was less surprised at that than I was.  Those people are good.  They’re skilled at being optimistic, positive and flattering.

What I bought stays between me and my mirror but I will tell you that one of those nice people sold me a “face lift in a box” and told me that I will see “amazing” results in five to seven days.

Even I know better than that but hope has to spring eternal.

 

A Small World

(Please click on photo above for a full image)

In a recent publication of the Bluffton Sun, the editor shared a few of her  “small-world” and “six-degrees-of-separation” experiences.  We all have them.  One of ours relates to our life here, in this house, originally built in 1795 on the May River.

When we moved into this old house, we were acutely aware that no one outside the Huger-Gordon family had lived in it for the past 130-plus years.  To say we felt like aliens and interlopers is an understatement.

In the process of acclimating ourselves to the house, we sought out stories about its past inhabitants.  We hoped to feel closer to the family through those memories.

We learned that a patriarch of the family, Hugh Gordon, senior, was, among other things,  a highly-respected global aviator and the chief pilot of Pan Am Airways.  In fact, he was the chief pilot aboard the airline’s inaugural 747 trans-Atlantic flight from New York to London in 1970.

That flight, Pan Am Flight 2, carrying 342 passengers, was certainly no ordinary flight.  The New York Times described the airplane as the “epitome of plushness… a luxurious auditorium some genie had wafted aloft.” A passenger told the Times reporter that the 747 looked like “Radio City Music Hall with wings.”

We can imagine that the champagne flowed generously that day. That everyone was dressed to the nines.  That Chief Pilot Gordon was truly the man of the hour, if not the year.

Certainly, no one aboard that flight was likely to forget it.  Ever.

Now here’s the fun thing.  That small-world thing.  That moment that connects us, the outsiders, to this house.

See, we already knew all about that flight.  We’d heard stories about it for many years.  We’d had vivid first-hand reporting from two of its passengers:  my husband’s parents.

We hadn’t connected the dots until we moved here.  We didn’t even know the dots existed.

Small world.

Roger that.  And, as they say, over and out.