Letters From Home

Life looks at infmom / infmom looks at life

April 16, 2013
by infmom
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Yet more changes

I’m still trying to make the blog better and more secure, so bear with me. Things may look even more bizarro than usual for a while.

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March 21, 2013
by infmom
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A family history in three boxes. I think.

Today, I did something that I had been planning for a long time.

4-generationsMy mother left all my grandmother’s diaries and journals to me in her will. I had had them, along with a lot of other stuff from my mother and grandmother, in our storage room for a long time. But I didn’t know they were to be mine till after my mom died.

At one point, while my mom was still alive, I went through all the stuff she’d left with us when she moved back east and put it all in new boxes. She’d had to move in a hurry and a lot of things were just thrown into any old box she could find. I wanted them to be stored neatly and properly, and shipped back to her. At one point I talked with my youngest brother about getting them shipped, and sent quite a pile of new boxes with him, with that in mind.

Well, circumstances changed and the boxes stayed at my brother’s house. I was pretty sure there were three boxes of journals and I was pretty sure they all went with him. So, last time he and the family were coming to visit us, I asked if he could bring those boxes back.

He brought back two boxes, but only one had journals in it according to the label on the side (the other said it was manuscripts). It turned out that I had one box of journals still here in our storage room. We have a vintage glass-fronted bookcase in the bedroom and it had long been my goal to put the journals all in there, but quite a bit of other furniture reshuffling had to be done before that was possible.

So we’ve reshuffled, I moved the books that were in that bookcase, and went to open up the boxes of journals. The one my brother brought back had only a few journals in it. The rest was just miscellaneous books. I brought in the box from the storage room and found journals from 1940 to 1983 (the year Gran died). I know there is another box with pre-1940 journals in it. I wish I knew where that one went.

Good incentive to clean the storage room, and I guess I’d better check with my brother, too.

Although I’ve skimmed through several of the journals to find references to important family events, there’s a lot more that I haven’t explored. Reading her handwriting is going to be… fun. ¬†ūüôā

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March 16, 2013
by infmom
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What if…

I’ve always been a fan of alternate-history books. As with most genres, some are far better than others (Mike Resnick’s anthologies are a good place to start if you’re a newcomer, because he picks stories of high quality, and they’re short enough to be satisfying without committing yourself to a really long read). Last week I picked up one that was a little different from most, and I’m here to sing its praises.

Then Everything Changed, by Jeff Greenfield, has a simple enough premise. Starting with real events, what would have happened if the outcome had been different? What if Jack Kennedy had been killed by a mad bomber in 1960, what if Bobby Kennedy had survived in 1968, what if Gerald Ford had won the 1976 election?

The stories, based on real history, real personalities, and real events, will keep you guessing till the end. Yes, things most certainly could have happened this way, and what a different place we’d be in if they had.

I didn’t expect it to be a page-turner when I checked it out, but that’s what it turned out to be. I was entranced from beginning to end.

It’s not science fiction, it’s… ¬†history. After just one thing changed.

[amazon asin=0425245330&template=iframe image&chan=default&localise=0&search_link=0&multi_cc=0&live=0]

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

March 11, 2013
by infmom
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Lots of changes, same old blog

My favorite theme is no longer supported, so I’ve put this one in place for now. There’s clearly a lot of work to be done, but it’s a start!

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

February 12, 2013
by infmom
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A free and easy Valentine

If you’d like an unusual Valentine’s Day gift, I am offering my two novels Closed Circuit and Dutchman’s Puzzle free, in any e-book format of your choice, from Smashwords. The coupon codes are good through Sunday, February 17.

Smashwords wisely filters out all books listed as having “adult content” for first-time visitors, and Closed Circuit does have some adult content (one sex scene) so that book will not appear if you just search for my name. The scene is included in the last part of the chapter “Broken Glass,” which you can skip if you prefer not to read such things. Dutchman’s Puzzle has no adult content.

To download the books, follow these links: Closed Circuit and Dutchman’s Puzzle. The coupon code for Closed Circuit is VF53D and for Dutchman’s Puzzle QG57N.

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

January 6, 2013
by infmom
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A new year

I have been really terrible about updating my blogs for the past couple years. I have so many other writing projects that this and my tattoo blog have really fallen by the wayside. I’m trying to work out ways to remedy that in 2013, including writing a book. We’ll see how well I do.

2012 was a good year, all in all. My daughter and her partner traveled to NYC to get married, and my husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary. My small business is making a small profit. I completed NaNoWriMo for the fourth straight year, and now have 150K+ words written on what will be my third novel. I am determined to get that into good enough shape to send to agents by my birthday at the end of this year.

Tybalt D. Cat is still with us, and will be 19 years old in May. We are dealing with his health problems and count every day we’ve still got him as a blessing. His last remaining sister died this past summer, so he’s now the only one of Caliban’s children left.

The men in the family got my Vespa fixed as my birthday present. I had despaired of ever being able to ride it again. My husband also arranged tickets to Disneyland for my birthday and our daughter treated us to lunch at Blue Bayou, which I had never thought we’d be able to afford. Getting my picture taken with Minnie Mouse remains the only thing I have never done at Disneyland that I wanted to do. I have no idea if we’ll ever go there again, but if not, I’m still happy.

In October I signed up for a pilot program that the American Diabetes Association is running with Weight Watchers. I had never considered Weight Watchers before even though my daughter had been quite successful with their online program. I thought it was too expensive and the program was too restrictive. I’m still of the opinion that it costs a tad more than it needs to (thus keeping many people from joining up) but I have been amazed at how easy the program is and how few changes I really needed to make in my life to be successful. And I have indeed been successful. My weight has gone steadily down and I’m now using half the insulin I once did. ¬†The LA Times had an article about diabetes control in today’s paper (link below) and their reporter certainly hit the nail on the head.

It wasn’t all good news. Our sewer pipe finally clogged up completely right before Christmas and we had the joy of using a porta-potty for a week while the plumber got things sorted out. On the bright side, the job ended up costing less than we thought it would. I had hoped that the money I’m going to earn assembling some rack mount computers would pay for a new MacBook Pro, but it’ll have to go to fixing the sewer instead. That’s a pretty minor first world problem, when you get right down to it, and I can keep saving up for the MacBook and get it next year.

I hope all my readers have high hopes for good things in 2013. I certainly do.

http://www.latimes.com/health/la-me-clinic-diabetes-20130106,0,2996357,full.story

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December 9, 2012
by infmom
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The perils of assembly

I took on the job of assembling a bunch of computers for my husband’s office. Not so quixotic as it might sound, because (a) I used to work as a computer tech and (b) I’ve built plenty of computers and (c) they’re going to pay me.

SATA power cable

Of course, as with any computer-construction job, sometimes the instructions don’t quite match the reality. In this case, I was told to attach SATA cables to the hard drives after they’d been installed in their little cages. As it turns out, my hands are neither that small nor that nimble (the space was pretty darn cramped). So, although I didn’t hear or feel it happen, one SATA power cable got broken. (For the non-geeks among us, those are the cables that bring the power from the power supply to the drives, and their connectors are unaccountably fragile.) Result: first computer no workee. In fact, once I got it booted up and went to take a bathroom break… when I came back the thing was stone cold dead. ¬†AIEEEEE! I’ve never had a computer just flat-out commit suicide before. This was rather distressing, to say the least.

However, I resolved to have a positive attitude toward the second one, plus assemble it slightly differently so that those fragile connectors were never in peril. And this I did, and lo, the second computer went together in much less time and lo, it looked perfect upon completion.

Except… ¬†when I turned it on, the monitor screen flashed briefly and then went blank. SAY WHAT!!!

I re-checked everything and found nothing wrong. I asked my husband to come check everything and he found nothing wrong. We swapped the video cable. No change. Then I said “Oh, all right, I’ll go get the monitor off the Mac from the office” (we were using a really beat-up monitor my husband had scrounged from someplace at work).

Now, excavating the Mac’s monitor from its place in the office was an adventure unto itself. When we re-did the office we pretty much wedged things into the available space. Efficient and space-saving, as long as nothing had to be moved afterwards. Now I had to move something, and it wasn’t pretty. ¬†After pulling ¬†the keyboard table out, moving the bookcase, moving the power bar, untangling the cables and pulling everything apart, I was finally able to carry the monitor out to the kitchen table where the assembly process was in progress.

I hooked it up, crossed my fingers and flipped the switch. And oh, hallelujah, there was the login screen. If I hadn’t been certain it would have damaged the floor I would have jumped up and down.

I enjoy putting computers together. I’m sure I’ll enjoy putting the rest of these together now that I know I’m actually capable of doing it right.

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

November 3, 2012
by infmom
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Once more unto the breach….

 

Yes, I’m tackling National Novel Writing Month again. It seems to be the only sure way to get me to sit on my fanny and WRITE. ¬†ūüôā

Are you a fellow NaNoWriMo addict? I’d really like to hear from you!

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

October 31, 2012
by infmom
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Get off my lawn. And take the computer with you.

Today, I sallied forth to the mall, to look into buying a second Roku box at Target and to see the new Microsoft store.

Ordinarily, I like being the age that I am. However, being my age and my gender almost invariably brands me as a techno-idiot to the kiddies who sell tech stuff these days (and on a heck of a lot of tech web sites as well). I’ve sometimes thought of getting a t-shirt made that says I WAS USING COMPUTERS BEFORE YOU WERE BORN or I WOULDN’T EXPLAIN THAT TO ME IF I WERE YOU or something similar. Once or twice in the past I’ve whipped out my A+ computer technician certification card and said “Let’s start over with the assumption that I do know what I’m talking about,” but today’s techno-kiddies don’t know what an A+ certification is.

I don’t really fault the Target kid for not knowing what a Roku box was. He did immediately call someone who did know, and told me where to find them. However, when I got to the shelf, I found that Target doesn’t carry the model I wanted. So much for instant gratification.

Then I went to find the Microsoft store. Which turned out not to be an actual store, but a glorified kiosk in the area of the mall where they usually have Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, in season. There were several employee-looking young men milling around, and people were walking up to see what Windows 8 looks like (not as ghastly on the screen as it is in book illustrations, I must say) and to play with the new Surface tablets that were out on display.

The Surface tablet intrigued me, so I stepped up to check one out. It was flashy but a lot slower than I expected. I looked around for someone to ask about this and none of the employee-looking people were even near me, nor were they checking for people who might need help. I tried typing on the keyboard (which was bright pink) and wanted to ask if they bundled it with the tablet or if it was strictly a separate purchase. ¬†Again, no one showed any interest in my corner of the kiosk. I folded my arms, stood back a little, and waited. Apparently tubby sixtysomething ladies are this year’s blend into the carpet model. Not one whisper of help did I get.

In order to wash the taste of that out of my mouth I went directly upstairs to the Apple store, where I was greeted immediately by a cheerful young man who didn’t even blanch when I told him that I really wanted a MacBook Pro but could not afford it at the moment. He showed me the one with the retina display, and when *I* blanched at the prices, cheerfully took me to the non-Retina model (with which I have decided I am in love) and told me to play with it as much as I wanted and seek him out if I had any questions.

Before he went, I thanked him for simply being helpful and told him that Apple clearly eats Microsoft for lunch.

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.

October 30, 2012
by infmom
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Farewell, my friend

In years gone by, people could be great friends without ever actually meeting each other, by exchanging letters through the mail. Anyone could have a pen pal, and many of my friends did while we were growing up (I had a short-lived correspondent with a young man in Japan when I was in high school; his school connected with ours to help its students practice their English writing skills).¬†I’m sure the long-time pen pals of days gone by would understand perfectly how strong a connection can be that’s sustained only by the written word. It is a mind to mind connection that does away completely with the distractions of the “package” that the mind comes in.

With the advent of online networks, the opportunity for rapid expansion of one’s circle of friends took off exponentially. I signed into CompuServe for the first time sometime in the spring of 1983, and quickly got into the swing of conversing with a wide group of acquaintances in the Forums. ¬†(It was also possible to do live chat in those days, but networks charged by the hour and I could barely afford a few hours a month online as it was.) As I moved from network to network I made more friends, and did get to meet some of them in person. Most, however, remained online only and we never even talked on the phone.

Finding a like-minded friend and ally online is something to be treasured. One of my first online friends, George Brickner, remained my friend until he died two years ago. I was privileged to meet him in person once. I still miss his “Good morning, FB and Twitterverse!” greeting every day.

Yesterday another of my long-time friends, teachers and allies died after a long struggle with multiple illnesses. We knew that he didn’t have much time left, but still, the shock was profound. ¬†John Kruszka was a bright light, especially in the Books and Writers Forum on CompuServe (and in all its predecessors as well) and it was always a joy to read his messages, whether he was dismantling some nonsense he’d seen in another message, or displaying his lovely sense of humor, or even just commenting on how he was managing, these last few months.

Even though we never met or spoke on the phone, he was my friend for nearly 20 years and it’s going to be a very different world without him.

Hope you'll recommend my posts via your favorite social media. Just don't copy the material as your own.