Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekend Assignment #291: It Didn't Work!

Catching up with the Weekend Assignment I couldn't remember last week:

Weekend Assignment: #291: Sooner or later, everyone buys, is given or otherwise acquires something that just doesn't work as expected. Tell us about that useless, broken, fraudulent, glitchy, disappointing acquisition.

Extra Credit: Did you eventually end up with something that worked?

I thought of this originally because a week ago Thursday at St. Michael's, I finally installed the new Accounting module of a program called Church Windows, replacing the old Financial module. The Accounting one is much more Windows-ish, with lots of icons to click on, very much like recent versions of QuickBooks. It had taken me months to finally get caught up enough on my work that I was able to do all the preparatory reports and backups, and finally click the menu option to make the transition.

And when it finished converting all the databases and such... I could not open Church Windows on my computer. At all.

Alicia and I struggled with the thing for maybe half an hour, rebooting our respective computers and even running a database repair routine. No change. I came in early the next morning to call Support, but they don't talk to you instantly, and I was due at work for the last day of my other (temp) job at 9 AM. I was told they couldn't possibly call back before I needed to leave, so the Parish secretary, Nancy, got stuck talking to Support for over 15 minutes before she ran out of time and had to get on with other work. It wasn't fixed.

So Monday morning I was back. I placed the Support call and waited two hours for the call back, doing web stuff in the meantime. I was on the phone with them for an hour before the techs figured out what was wrong and fixed it. (It was a firewall issue, as I'd suggested twenty minutes earlier.)

But at least it works now! I've had other things that never did what they were supposed to. A few years ago in a previous Weekend Assignment, I wrote about this thing:

This is the Igia Ultra Advanced Hair Removal System. Yeah, right. You know what it really is? A pair of electric tweezers. Seriously, that's what it is. You plug it in and it supposedly delivers heat or vibration or a low-level electrical current to the hair follicle, so that it comes out easily and doesn't grow back as soon as it would otherwise.

Can you pull hairs out with these tweezers? Absolutely. Does the electrical current do anything whatsoever to help the hair come out or discourage it from growing back? Almost certainly not. I'm not convinced the power does anything except light an LED on the side of the thing. The sad part is that I plugged it in and used it for about six months anyway. Ah, well!

And then there are the light up collars and tags I've bought for the dogs over the past year. Some of them worked for a few weeks and then died, some failed to light up right off the bat, and the most recent purchase was simply too dim to be seen in the dark from more than a foot away. Darn it! I want to be able to find my dogs easily if we're in the dog park after dusk. But so far, PetSmart has yet to stock a reliable product that does that.

What about you? Did you buy some non-compatible bit of software or hardware for your computer? A toy or gadget that broke down in the first 30 seconds? How about that gift that went back to the store the next day due to excessive lame-itude? Start thinking about these minor disasters in your life while we catch up with last week's WA responses.

Last week Weekend Assignment #290: Sick! I asked whether you get colds and flu and such very often, and how you cope with them:


Funny you should select this topic. I'm at home while the guys are out to lunch today. I'm nursing a 7-Up and running a low-grade temperature. It's the crud. Again. I've been fighting it off and on all fall, which is sort of typical for me. Some years are worse than others, and this seems to be a worse year. Why? It's a rainy fall. The mold counts are way out of sight. As a result my sinuses go into overdrive. I think that fighting that makes me a little more susceptible to the garden variety crud.

Florinda said...

It seems to me that I got sick more when I was younger. I remember missing school for a week at a time a few times a year, but rarely for anything extremely serious - just a combination of symptoms that made staying home a lot more comfortable. The worst illness I can recall during high school, which probably was some form of the flu - I remember fainting a couple of times, and serious intestinal distress a few days later - hit during Christmas break.

Mike said...
I don't think I get sick that often, but my frequency has increased since we've had kids. They are little bacteria and virus factories. When I do get sick, though, I get sick. Like, incapacitated sick. I don't know why, but I'm useless. I just want to curl into a ball and die. My head will hurt, my back won't let me stand up straight, basically I look like an 80 year-old man who was born without a spine.

Thanks, folks! I'll catch up with my commenting in a bit!

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, November 6th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."


Sunday, October 25, 2009

EMPS: Monochrome

For Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, for which I've missed the deadline again. I've got to stop doing that! The theme is black and white photography.

Naturally black and white, sort of, except for the lights.

A wall of St. Michael's that is missing its adobe surfacing.

The color version for comparison.

Mountains in the rear view.

Black and white except on the right.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekend Assignment #290: Sick!

I had a great idea for the new Weekend Assignment, which I was writing in my head on the way home yesterday. Only I can't remember what it was now. See, this cold of mine is stirring itself to new heights of head-filling, lung-clogging obstreperousness, and my brain just isn't functioning very well right now. So let's do this instead:

Weekend Assignment: #290: Are you one of those lucky people who hardly ever get sick, or do you tend to catch every cold or flu or virus that comes along? And when you do get some infectious disease, do you stay home, or try to keep going?

Extra Credit: Are you getting a flu shot this year?

It seems to me I probably get a cold or the flu about once a year, if that; but once I get it it hits me fairly hard. This one snuck up on me. I thought I was just having allergies, which had been troubling me for a few weeks. But I hardly ever get a sore throat from allergies, let alone a cough, unless it's asthma-related coughing after exposure to cats. So when I started coughing a week and a half ago, I knew I had a cold. I probably caught it from a friend who has pneumonia. Fun, huh? Now my ears are ringing and my cough is turning into a dry hack, and I know I'm in it for the long haul. Again. For whatever reason, it always takes months for a cough to leave me completely.

But the good news is that it is a cold, not flu. There is no high fever, no body ache, no nausea, just a very light fever and dizziness from the congestion. I only missed just over a day of work; being only a temp in the last days of my assignment, I didn't want to miss any more work than I had to. So I headed back to work on Monday with my Dayquil in (frequently-washed) hand. At lunch I took a chance on putting the medicine in my purse. The child-proof cap promptly came off, and emptied the sticky orange liquid into my purse, which dripped onto the restroom counter and floor. Yuck! After that I switched to a generic of Mucinex DM. Less chance of a mess!

I say it's a low fever, but I don't actually know that, because I haven't managed to find either of our thermometers. I don't want to buy another one just to indulge my curiosity. But I know what a real fever feels like, and this ain't it.

Flu shot? I got one a few times when my mom was alive, and the autumn of 2007 when I worked for Beaudry and they had them for $25. I've sort of fallen out of the habit of getting them in the years when the supply was spotty. It was difficult to keep track of when Walgreen's or Safeway was scheduled to have a clinic.

This year, though, every Walgreen's seems to have flu shots available every day. I'm not sure that matters, though. A lot of people in Tucson have the flu already, and they're saying on the news it's H1N1, the seasonal flu not having arrived yet because of the warm Tucson weather. I don't even know where or when an H1N1 shot may be available. If there's a shortage, I doubt I qualify as a high-risk person who should get one. But I could be wrong. I am over 50, after all.

But I'll look into it. I promise! Back in college the first time around, I had a "killer" flu once. I was in my dorm room, wearing a parka I think, my electric blanket turned up to 9, and shivering. My friend Howard came in and told me his class had been canceled because his T.A. had died of the flu. Not what I wanted to hear at that moment! I also had some unspecified virus once in my Worldwide Travel days that dragged me out for about a month. I'd rather not repeat the experience.

What about you? Do you get sick frequently, hardly ever, or somewhere in between? Tell us about it in your blog, and I'll link to your entry next weekend. Instructions are at the end of this entry.

Last week for Weekend Assignment #289: Quitting Time I asked for tales of times you quit something you cared about. Turnout was light, but Florinda in particular made up for it with multiple stories:

Julie said...
This was several years after the job I didn't quit, but it was hard to let this one go because someone at this non-profit was responsible for getting me that job. (The job was the best I'd ever had until the company was sold and new owners took over.) I felt some loyalty for that. And yet, I felt I was constantly banging my head against the wall. Personalities had taken over to the point where ideas were approved or shot down because of the person presenting it rather than on the merits of the plan. I was reduced to playing that game I hate: office politics.

Florinda said...
Don't call me a quitter; I don't call myself one. Having said that, I've done my share of quitting at one thing or another. There have been times when bailing on something was the right decision - sometimes you just have to cut your losses and move on, but sometimes it's felt good and sometimes it hasn't. There have also been times when I didn't do that soon enough - I hung on longer than I should have, trying to fix something broken, only to give up the effort much further down the line. And regrets? Oh, I've certainly had more than a few...

Thanks, you two!

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, October 30th* at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."
I'll try to get my next entry up tomorrow. *Cough cough!*

*I see I posted this as the deadline last week. Oops! I was a week ahead of myself!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

EMPS: Mountain Views

Ack! I forgot to do my entry for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, Perspectives!

The Santa Catalina Mountains from South Alvernon Road near Ajo Way.

From the Alvernon-Golf Links corridor, at 50+ mph

From Golf Links and Wilmot, almost completely obscured

And from my street!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekend Assignment #289: Quitting Time

If you like, you can attribute the lateness of this entry to my being sick with a cold that seems to be getting worse instead of better. Be that as it may, let's get started:

Weekend Assignment: #289: Sooner or later, we all quit something that was once important to us: a job, school, a club, an addiction, a relationship, and probably other things I haven't thought of. Tell us about something you quit, and why you did so.

Extra Credit: Did you ever regret your decision?

There was a period in the early 1990s when I was working full time and also editing several fanzines at once: TARDIS Time Lore, The Observer, The Hologram and the compilation of a serial I'd written (Paradox: Two Doctors in Time) into a single volume. I was getting stressed out and burned out, but I didn't see a way out. Julie B kindly took over The Hologram, and the fan novella was a one-time project, so those weren't a major problem. But the two club newsletters, one for our local Doctor Who club, the other for our international Quantum Leap club, were not so easily disposed of. I had a somewhat misplaced pride of ownership and a heavy emotional investment in both zines, and worried that they couldn't go on without my frequent all-nighters, writing and editing. There didn't seems to be anyone in the wings to do the work instead, maintaining the quality of the final product. Oh, yeah, I had hubris to spare.

Now, I don't remember the exact order of events, which zine I quit editing first. But I think I stepped down from TARDIS Time Lore first. Over the next several years three other editors were elected by the club. One never edited anything, another managed to produce one issue before quitting over club politics, and one produced several issues, usually with covers that overshot the "fair use" principle in copyright law by quite a bit. Still, the zine did survive for several years without me in charge.

My most ambitious fanzine cover ever!

As for The Observer, I was so stressed out about it at one point that I mentioned it to my doctor at the time, the non-HMO D.O. who helped me with my weight (very successfully, for a while) and my allergies (ditto). Oh, and for a herniated disc. He practically ordered me to give up editing the zine, but that didn't even sound like an option to me. I think I may have cried a little, I was so upset.

But later that day, I talked it over with John, and contacted Margaret from the fan club. I soon learned that Sharon Major was willing and able to take over editing The Observer. Well over a decade later, she's still doing it. I've contributed the occasional article, but mostly not in recent years. I feel a little guilty about that, but not enough to do more.

Do I regret it? Do I miss it? Well, I'm kind of sorry that the Who club and its zine ran out of steam by 2000, but no, I don't really regret giving up all that work. I could not have saved the club, not with Doctor Who off local tv at the time and many of our members having moved away. My editing the zine would not have helped one bit.

As for The Observer, there's no way I could have kept my dedication and interest going all these years, as Sharon clearly has. The newsletter is in good hands, and I'm glad. I don't have to worry about it. If and when Sharon in turn quits, The Observer will find a new editor or it won't. If it doesn't, it's still had a good run, four times as long as the tv series that inspired it. I am content.

What about you? Have you found yourself in a position where you felt you had to quit something? Tell us about it, either in your own blog or in the comments below. Next weekend I'll highlight your responses, thus:

For Weekend Assignment #288: Columbus and his Day, I asked for your opinion of Columbus Day. Here are excerpts from the responses:

Cheryl B. said in comments:

I stopped by your blog to verify that you were still hosting your Friday "theme day".

In case you aren't sure why I would do that, please first go here:

and then read this one:

I see that you still are, so I shall leave you on the lists :-D

Should you wish to contact me for any reason, feel free to do so via: pink bunnies (at) sbc global (dot) net

Cheryl B.

Florinda said...
I can't remember when I last lived anywhere that observed Columbus Day, to be honest. School is in session locally, and it turns out that even the banks will be open today, although I'm not sure about the post office and government offices. Therefore, I've almost forgotten that it is a holiday. And I can't prove it, but even in places where it's observed, I suspect not much thought is really given to why it's a holiday or what it means; it's just another three-day weekend (and, in some cities, maybe an excuse for a parade).

Julie said...
I'm not inclined to believe this is a good reason for a national holiday. Yet, I'm not too keen on the idea of tossing out a replacement holiday. In these times fraught with division, it seems a safe bet that such a discussion would turn into an all-out brawl.

Mike said....
Yes, I think it still does merit a holiday. Sure, he wasn't a perfect man, but we do owe a lot to him. If someone else had discovered it, would things be different? We we be the same nation we are today? Who knows, a lot happened from the first time he came this way and the time we actually became a nation. (That was in 1776 in case you weren't sure). But, since he is regarded as the man who discovered America, we should celebrate his day. It only makes sense.
Thanks, all!

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, October 30th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."
I'll try to get my next entry up tomorrow. *Cough cough!*


Round Robin: Mostly Dogs After Dark

It's Round Robin Time! This week's topic, Shooting In Low Light (Indoors And Out) was suggested by Terri of the blog "Ways I See The World."

Shooting in low light conditions is an ongoing struggle with me. My camera and I don't seem to be quite up to the task, which is a shame considering how often I'm called upon to do it. As the unofficial parish photographer of St. Michael and All Angels, I'm always taking pictures in a church that isn't exactly well lit, of people who aren't exactly close to where I'm sitting or standing. At home I'm forever wanting to take indoor pictures of the dogs without flash, because of what the flash does to their eyes in the photos (plus they don't like it). Our finances being what they are, I still don't own a tripod. I might be able to coax better indoor shots and night shots from the camera if I learn to use the manual settings, but so far I haven't had the patience to try.

Cayenne on the couch.
From Night Shoot

All that said, I really like the way the dog photos I took indoors tonight came out. They're grainy and the color is all wrong, but that just makes the photos more interesting. The washed out color gives them a nice retro moodiness, and Cayenne in particular looks like a completely different dog.

The obligatory "goofy" picture.

Look at that face!

This photo could easily have been taken in 1960 - but it wasn't.

Pepper assumes a cone shape.

Pepper's strangest poses all happened when I didn't have camera in hand.

Now let's go see what everyone else did with this Challenge!

Linking List
as of 9:58 PM PT, 10/17/09

Ways I See The World

Sherrie - Posted!
Sherrie's Stuff

Carly - Posted!

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Mommy's Treasures

Shutterly Happy

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Suzanne - Posted!
SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Hip Chick - Posted!
Hip Chick's Photos

Betty - Posted!
A Glimpse Into Midlife

A Cappuccino A Day

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Sandy**Welcome, New Member** - Posted!
From The Heart Of Texas

Peggy - Posted!
Holmespun Fun

Eva Cathrin-Norway **Welcome, New Member** - Posted!

CarolynUSA - Posted!
Ford Family Photos

Quiltworks **Welcome, New Member!** - Posted!
World Through The Eyes Of The Fiber Artist or

If you enjoy playing the Round Robin Challenges, please try our other memes:

Weekend Assignment
I post a new topic to write about each weekend, usually Friday but sometimes on Saturday. I should have the next one up this afternoon.

Monday Photo Shoot
Carly posts a new Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot assignment each Monday morning!

And watch for a special announcement on the Round Robin blog tomorrow night!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Assignment #288: Columbus and his Day

I've been dithering since last night (well, that and reading), trying to come up with a topic for this Weekend Assignment entry. Let's try this one:

Weekend Assignment: #288: Columbus Day seems to have become a largely disregarded and maligned holiday in recent years, as the dark side of the explorer's legacy has made inroads in the public's perception. Do you think that the voyages of Christopher Columbus still merit a national holiday? Why or why not? And if not, what holiday would you propose to replace it?

Extra Credit: Did you even get Columbus Day off from work or school this year?

It's a testament to the power of a catchy jingle that every year at this time I remember, and sometimes sing, a ditty I learned in elementary school:

Christopher Columbus
Sailed from sunny Spain,
Crossed the mighty ocean
Through the sun and rain.

Christopher Columbus
Now we honor you;
You found our dear country,
So we all thank you.
As we now know, he didn't exactly find "our dear country," but he definitely sailed from Spain, sunny or otherwise. I distinctly remember Dan Cheney showing me his models of Columbus's ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and earnestly explaining that only the Santa Maria survived that first voyage. My memory is wrong, however. According to Wikipedia, it was the Santa Maria that ran aground. Furthermore, the names by which we know the other two ships were only nicknames. All in all, I'd say that very little of what I learned about Columbus as a child was actually true.

Based on what we know now, does Columbus merit a holiday? Tough call, I think. He may not have reached the North American continent itself, and he was not the first sailor to believe that the Earth was round. Furthermore, he was directly or indirectly responsible for the spread of at least one deadly disease and the enslavement of vulnerable natives. Still, he was far from the most brutal of the Europeans to visit our hemisphere, and there's no denying that his voyages changed the world, for better and for worse. I guess there's no harm in acknowledging that with a holiday - but only if kids are no longer taught the sanitized version I got in elementary school.

And yes, I do get Columbus Day off from my temporary job with a local manufacturer. It is not a paid holiday. But I will use the time to get stuff done at St. Michael's instead, so it's no great loss.

How about you? Do you still find value in Columbus Day, or is it just another day when the banks are closed? Give us your opinion on the matter, either in your own blog or in the comments below. Next weekend I'll highlight your responses, thus:

For Weekend Assignment #287: On the Move, I asked whether you've moved very often in your life, mostly stayed put. Here are excerpts from the responses:

Florinda says...
While the mechanics of moving are an undeniable pain in the butt, I actually don't mind the experience of it all that much. There's a sense of excitement and possibility in settling into a new place. However, I won't mind if the next move - or two, or however many there are - is another local one, since my long-distance moves average out to just about one per decade of my life.

Julie says...
We tend follow the boring route and not move around. We found a nice apartment before we got married (Paul moved in and I joined him on our wedding day. See? Very boring and conventional) and we stayed there until we found Stately Barrett Manor.
That's all the participants we had this week. But I do, as always, appreciate what Florinda and Julie have to say!

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, October 16th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."
Eventually, I may or may not explain to you all about what I was doing last weekend, and why. This weekend promises to be far more relaxed; I may even get around to last week's commenting! :)


Thursday, October 08, 2009

EMPS: The River, the Bats and the Bridge

What shall I show you for Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #58: Bridges And Walkways? In past Round Robin Challenges and other entries, I've already posted photos of my favorite old bridge in downtown Tucson and the walkway beside it, the Diamondback Bridge and the walkway leading off from that, the little blue bridge over the Alamo Wash, a stone bridge in Sabino Canyon built by the CCC, the bridge over Pantano Wash during the monsoon, and the bridge with the stylized lizards on it. Most recently I showed you just one shot from the hundred or so I took of the underside of the bridge over the Rillito at Campbell Ave on Bat Night. I think this is my cue to show you more from that event.

Just an ordinary overpass, seemingly, except for an extraordinary sky.
From the Picasa album Bat Night 2009

Batman makes a personal appearance on the walkway along the river's north edge.

Thousands of people gather in the riverbed. The river is dry most of the year.

Once upon a time, the Rillito was a "real" river. As recently as the 1930s, I think, there was water in it year round. Then people came, watered their families and their livestock and irrigated their fields.

Balloons represent the falling water table.

When air conditioning hit the market in the 1940s, Tucson's population exploded and the water table dropped precipitously. Now there's only water in the river after a major rain storm, or when whatever snow falls on Mount Lemmon melts away again. During the summer monsoon, though, a storm can cause a major flash flood to fill the river and others like it, washing away the occasional car and, at least once down near Marana, a building.

People costumed as bats.

But this was September, and the monsoon was over, making the riverbed a safe place to gather. Bat Night is a chance for people to see bats, real and otherwise, and to learn the history of the river and what humans have done to it. Part of the event involved these folks, rather bizarrely costumed as bats.

People watching real bats.

The main attraction of the night was a colony of about 40,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, mostly female, flying out from under the bridge at sunset for a night on the town. As the name implies, they spend their winters in Mexico, but they migrate north to Tucson to breed. They eat mosquitoes and other bugs, and are thus highly beneficial from humans' point of view.

Bats take to the skies for a good meal.

A speaker from the Rillito River Project outline's the river's sad history.

Members of the departing crowd cross the bridge at sunset.

Unlike Carly, who just get some great ones at the zoo, I never got a really good or close-up shot of the bats. But Bat Night was still an amazing and visual experience.


Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Complete transcript of a phone call that took place about 5 minutes ago:


"Hi. We're trying to locate Mark Johnson."

"We don't know any Mark Johnson."

"He put you down as a relative. You're not Ruth Anne Johnson?"

"Ruth Anne Johnson died in 2002."

"Thank you for your time." Click.

Flora M Johnson, Ruth Anne Johnson and cat, circa 1990

I didn't get a chance to ask what the heck it was all about. Who is Mark Johnson? It is barely possibly that he is (or was) a relative of mine. My mom, Dr. Ruth Anne Johnson, had only one sibling, Flora D Johnson. Aunt Flora had just one child, Vereene, whom she gave up for adoption. As far as I know, Vereene, whom I've never met except in emails, is my only living relative on my mom's side of the family.

From Family photos

But my maternal grandfather, Ambrose Alexis Johnson , could well have had siblings. My brother Steve would probably know. He's the only one in the family who tracks this stuff. So this Mark could be a cousin once removed or something. I should ask him.

Or perhaps there is, or was, another Ruth Anne Johnson in the world. Johnson is a very common name. There could be a number of them. And Mark Johnson, possibly Marc Johnson? There must be thousands of those in the U.S. Is one of them my second cousin or something? Maybe. Do I care? Not really. But for the moment I'm intrigued.

So all the best to you, Mark Johnson. I hope they're tracking you down so you can inherit a pot of money from another obscure, distant relative of mine.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Weekend Assignment #287: On the Move

This slightly delayed Weekend Assignment is a companion to last week's, inspired by the fact that I spent many hours today helping a friend move. And we're not done yet!

Weekend Assignment: #287: Do you tend to settle in one place and stay there, or do circumstances or inclination dictate that you move fairly often across the street or across the country? Do you feel you've found your "forever" locale, if not your "forever" home?

Extra Credit: To the best of your recollection, how many times in your life have you moved?

When I was four years old, my family moved from York Road in DeWitt, NY to a newly-built house on Fayetteville-Manlius Rd in nearby Manlius, NY. That was in May, 1961. I lived in that house until 1976. That's when my parents' marriage broke up, and I moved into a dorm on the Syracuse University campus, specifically Haven Hall.

I moved at least once within Haven Hall that semester. My roommate, Monica, objected to the buildup of tissues when I was in bed with a severe case of a killer flu, and wanted to room with a friend instead. She asked me to move, so I did. I ended up living in a double all by myself, which kind of made up for the social discomfort of being rejected. I think the next year I had a single, which was a bit smaller, obviously.

In the summer of 1976, I helped my mom move to Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then to pick out a condo in Satellite Beach south of the Cape. My dad married Ruth and moved to Nob Hill apartments, which was my legal residence for a time. I only really lived there for the first half of the summer of 1977, during which I worked as an enumerator, sort of a private census taker for R.L. Polk, which published the City Directory. The second half of that summer, I lived for six weeks in a dorm at Michigan State, where I attended the Clarion Writer's Workshop and began the process of falling in love with fellow Clarionite John Blocher.

For 1977-8 school year I roomed with Evelyn in the Vincent Apartments, which belonged to the University at the time. The complex had a great labyrinthine basement connecting the buildings, perfect for "live" D&D campaigns. John and I lived with his friend Kal on 13th Ave. in Columbus, OH for the summer of 1978. My job that summer was at a variety store called Monkeys Retreat. No, really.

My senior year at Syracuse University, I finally lived off campus, in a rooming house on Westcott Street. It belonged to an old boyfriend of mine, but he was in the process of selling it when a judge condemned the place in a fit of pique. There was also a fire, the Sunday morning near the beginning of Spring Break.

We got married in May, 1979 and moved to King Ave. in Columbus, a place where the basement could not be relieved of the smell of cat pee. I consequently was miserable all summer with allergies. From there we made our way back to 13th Ave, next door to Kal this time. We were there for seven years. Stability at last!

At the end of January, 1986, we put everything in storage and drove around the country, looking for some place where it wasn't winter. We considered moving to Gallup or Albuquerque, but ended up in Tucson instead. John negotiated the terms of our first-ever home mortgage over the pay phone at Gilbert Rey Campground. That was for the house of Grannen Road.

But John was trying to make a living as a writer-editor-publisher, and after a year of doing the same I ended up renting out videos for $3.75 an hour before going on to travel agent school. The money ran out, and we had to sell the house on Grannen. We then lived for a year in a big house on the far east side, another year in a place so small and depressing I called the The Shoebox, and I think a year and a half in a semidetached condo on Estes Lane. Shortly after landing a bookkeeping job with Worldwide Travel in April, 1993, we bought a house on Calle Mumble, later to be called Casa Blocher, the Museum of the Weird. That's where we still live, 16 1/2 years later. Is it our forever home? I kind of hope not, but it may be.

So what does that add up to? 17, I think, but I may be missing one of the dorm moves. But notice that it includes three long stretches of stability, broken up by two nomadic periods. All in all, if the place I'm living isn't too small or too smelly, I'd rather stay put!

How about you? Are you a nomad or a homebody, or had that status varied with circumstances? Tell us about it in your blog, and don't forget to leave a comment below. Guidelines are after the wrap-up of last week's topic:

For Weekend Assignment #286: Far Away, I asked about places you've never been and would like to visit. Here are excerpts from the responses:

Julie says...
I'd love to visit parts of Asia. In particular, the Taj Mahal in India and the Great Wall of China. I want to return to England someday.

Florinda says...
I really don't have big ambitions to see the world, which is pretty sad when I think about it. There are a few European countries I'd like to visit some day - Italy, Switzerland, England - but if I never get there I don't think I'll have any lasting regrets over it.

Mike says...

I've been trying to think about the number one place I want to go. For some reason I've been having trouble coming up with the numero uno place. For a while it was Hawaii, but we went there about nine years ago. Then it was Australia, but not so much anymore. I still want to go, but I'm not looking forward to two days traveling. That is a long time in an airplane.

Here are the guidelines if you'd like to participate in the Weekend Assignment:
  1. Please post your entry no later than Friday, October 9th at 6 PM. (You can also post your response in the comments thread, but a blog entry is better. )
  2. Please mention the Weekend Assignment in your blog post, and include a link back to this entry.
  3. Please come back here after you've posted, and leave a link to your entry in the comments below.
  4. Visiting other participants' entries is strongly encouraged!
  5. I'm always looking for topic ideas. Please email me at mavarin2 on if there's a Weekend Assignment theme you'd like to see. If I use your idea, you will be credited as that week's "guest professor."
I have much to say about my activities this weekend, but that's a story for another time.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

Round Robin: Move It!

This week's Round Robin Challenge: In Motion comes from suggestions by Vicki of the blog Maraca and Terri of the blog Ways I See the World. I initially hoped to show you pictures of bats in flight, from a cool event last month called "Bat Night," but bats are tiny and fast! The best shot I managed is the one that adorned the topic announcement in the RR blog:

Bats leave a bridge over the Rillito at sunset, Tucson, AZ.

So let's take a more random approach, and explore some other recent pictures I've taken. How about water in the street during a storm, moving as the cars plow through it?

From the Picasa album Round Robin Photo Challenges

There's a lot of movement in the ritual of High Mass at St. Michael's, and not a lot of light to help my camera achieve a high shutter speed. So a lot of my pictures from church show more motion than I'd like!

How about the motion of a battle against a dragon? No, really! Well, sort of. Last weekend was Michaelmas, the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Part of the Michaelmas celebration at St. Michael's was the slaying of a dragon pinata by the kids of the parish, commemorating a symbolic battle between St. Michael and the Dragon in the Book of Revelation. I'm not personally fond of that part of the Bible, but it made for a good picture, and a lot of fun for the kids!

And finally, let's take advantage of one of the many times when one or both of my dogs failed to sit still for the camera:

Now let's observe the movements of our other Robins and their photographic subjects!

Linking List

Vicki - Posted!

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

Carly - Posted!

Mommy's Treasures

Nancy - Posted!
Nancy Luvs Pix

Suzanne R
SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Sweet Memories

Outpost Mâvarin

boliyou - Posted!

Carolyn **Welcome, new member!**
Ford Family Photos

Lana G - Posted!
Above the Clouds

Facts from a Fact Woman

ellen b. - Posted!
The Happy Wonderer

Teena - Posted!
It's all about me!

Peggy - Posted!
Holmespun Fun Memes and Themes

And don't forget these other memes:

The Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot - hosted by Carly every Monday
The Weekend Assignment - hosted by Karen every Friday (or, er, occasionally Saturday).

EMPS: In the Weeds

For this week's Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #57: Weeds., Carly wants to see weeds. Well, I am very anti-weed at the moment, especially in the horticulture of Tucson.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, I'm just not a flower fan. Sorry. Second, contributing heavily to that first reason is the fact that I'm allergic to most flowers and grasses. On the day I took these pictures, I was about a little over halfway through an allergy attack that lasted about 24 hours. So I tend to resent the plants that are likely to contribute to my suffering.

The third reason is that very few weeds on the desert floor are especially pretty. The desert can be beautiful, but the little patches of desert scrub one finds in the city don't measure up to that standard. It's all sage and creosote and buffelgrass, and a few pale flowers overwhelmed by their own stems.

Nah. I don't like weeds.

My RR entry is coming. The Weekend Assignment will have to wait for later this morning.