Sunday Frustrations

Yesterday, my oldest and I went over some things on the new blog page and got a bunch of things accomplished.  Included among them was the change in the header’s picture to one I took in France in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1998 and a change from the Blog theme, which was malfunctioning, to a simpler one.  It turns out that many of my issues were related to the cool Blog theme I had chosen.  Simpler is better, lol!

Christian showed me how he was going “behind the scenes” to make changes in the blog that were not happening from the “dashboard” and that helped a lot.  However, this morning when I went to do it, there were radical changes that didn’t allow me to put in my subscription widget.  Adrienne e-mailed me yesterday and asked that with the move, would she automatically get e-mails with my blog entries?  I figured not, that was one of the widgets I needed to add.  When I used the dashboard, as mentioned, nothing happens.  When I went to do it behind the scenes as Christian taught me, the resident technology ghost in my house decided to take charge and mess up my plans.  So at least the new blog is up and running.  Sorry, Adrienne and others, the subscription thing is on my list. In the move from the old WordPress address to my new one, I have lost about thirty of my entries and numerous photos.  That is next on my list of things to do.  The old one is still up and running but today’s entry is the second one that will only be present on this site and not on the last site.

I hope that this move of mine isn’t going to be as inconvenient for everyone else as it currently is for me!

Yesterday, after having Samantha and Christian over and having major haircut day with Mikey trimming my follicularly challenged head and doing Christian’s hair as well, we headed out to see a movie with friends.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, The Eagle, which featured the less than totally respected, Channing Tatum as the protagonist.  The movie is ostensibly about a real event in Roman times taking place in Britain which was then one heck of a primitive, scary place.  The movie kept me awake during its entirety, which for me says that it was pretty entertaining.  I must say that it had some horribly cheesy moments and it was a bit drawn out at times.  What inevitably fascinated me at the end was the fact that it was filmed in Scotland and Hungary, Hungary being a great movie location of late due to the low cost of filming there.  CC and Tony, our friends are always delightful to be with and the dinner afterwards was also good.  CC and I marveled that the movie managed to pull together both of our ethnic backgrounds into a film.  We wondered, as well, whether we would ever find something to match MK’s and Tony’s backgrounds:  Italian (or Swedish) and Slovak!  I think not.  In any case, it was fun seeing a bit more of an “action” film as MK and I are not generally into “couple’s” watching of them, so this was a treat. 

Dinner was at Boston Blackie’s and it was one of those, “We don’t care where we eat as long as it is decent” evenings.  While at Northbrook Court, after the movie, we thought we could stroll over to the “Claim Company” and have dinner, unfortunately, everyone and his uncle had the same idea and the noise and the hour wait wasn’t in our thoughts as being wise, so we went elsewhere.  So it was Burgers at Blackie’s.  Again, doing anything with Tony and CC, who are also our Stratford, Ontario companions, is always a pleasure.  It is a no brainer, always fun, never ever stressful.  The only stress that there might be is figuring out the check because we are on the same wavelength and want to do the right thing.  That is good stress because you never have to worry about trying to deal with an unpleasant situation. 

Today we have a quick birthday party for the three year old daughter of one of Mikey’s good friends who is a talented chef in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He is in town since his parents live here and so we have a quick trip to the bookstore beforehand to get a gift for the young lady.

The rest of the day is somewhat up for grabs though I feel the need to go to the gym.  That is my job at the current time and that was one of my major goals, to get fitter, when I retired from my teaching job.  Our gym is amazing and really, like our local swimming pools, is country club like.  I guess we do get something for our taxes.  In any case, seeing the geriatric issues in our families, I have decided that I am going into this situation head on and I will deal with aging on a kicking and screaming basis.  My sons have repeatedly reminded me that  if and when I get to the point of being geriatrically beyond control that I am going to have a Viking’s funeral set up for me, put on a raft, pushed out into Lake Michigan and having the raft set on fire.  I guess I have my work cut out for me!

The snow has melted a great deal and I continue to watch the progress of the melt on the roof, it frankly worries me.

This week I shall work on bringing my new website up to snuff and seeing how my electronic flashcard app works with the students I am tutoring.  I am planning on working with it a bit with Samantha, doing the numbers for fun..  There is always something and I guess that this is what keeps us young!

Gray day, longer day

It is not even ten o’clock and I have already had a full day.  My first surprise is that I noted when I went downstairs to set up breakfast that the first light of the day was already there.  It is clear the days are getting longer.  I have already noticed that in the afternoon as my two Ikea floor light fixtures that are on timers have been going on when it is still light out.  It is always such a nice feeling when that happens because it is the reminder that winter, although as strong as an ox, is on the way out.

I had the disappointment of having to deal with emptying the dishwasher and setting up the coffee this morning.   I must have been out of it last night to have forgotten the coffee!

When I got in my car after warming it up a bit, I noticed that the winter filth is annoying me more.  I cannot wait to get it cleaned up a bit!

Samantha withdrawal today as she is spending the day with her mom.  Somehow, this doesn’t make it feel like Friday!

I am a bit worried about the massive ice on the roof and hope that it doesn’t find its melting way into the roof area as it dissipates.  I really don’t want to have to deal with that.  I even have warming cables above the kitchen where I have had a problem but the ice is massive.  Supposedly a warming trend is coming in the near future.

Technologically, other than my success with the flashcard app, I had a disappointing blog day.  At present, my blog is appearing simultaneously on two web addresses.  I have not had the luck with the new address in that I still don’t have all the pictures and I still don’t have all the blog entries.  I have some work to do there as I am missing December 15th through 31st.  I talked to Christian at the gym (we are all being good about exercise!) and he gave me some ideas and will sit down with me and help me go about things from a different angle.  We shall see.

There is a load of wash in and I am about to start putting in vocabulary for the first year French students. 

I am already hungry and it isn’t time for lunch.  I guess the green tea I am drinking just isn’t staving off my hunger. 

More to come later…

Samantha and the iPad

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Samantha is no stranger to technology and that certainly is normal for a child growing up in this world.

Mary Kay noted this information from The Week magazine recently. To recap what she put on her Facebook page, she said that twenty percent of the two to five year olds can do smart phone applications. 

The other day, Samantha asked us to pull out either the iPhone or iPad to see one of the apps.  She has consistently enjoyed Talking Carl, an app that repeats what you say and things like Wordbag, which features Pim, who speaks in French if you so choose and introduces everyday item words and pronounces them, or Peekaboo Barn, which when you tap the barn door produces an animal and the word for it. 

My mind was wandering as Samantha poked at the iPad (which was readily available in our vicinity) and I noticed right away that she was able to see that I had filed the kiddie apps in the game folder and then she tapped on the Peekaboo Barn app.  She continued until she had viewed all the animals.

The next day she noticed I had my iPhone in my hand and we went through the same process, this time she did the same thing but noticed that the apps were in a folder called “Jeux” since, geek that I am, my phone is in French.  She went for the Wordbag app and “Petit Pim” appeared. “Pim” is the panda who is multilingual. She started tapping on his backpack so he would introduce the everyday items.

Am I the typical Grandpa, or plutôt the Papi who thinks his Granddaughter is just the smartest kid in the whole wide world?  Yes!  Wait a sec, is that what I really want or think?  Perhaps not, I know that Samantha is a well-adjusted young lady and I believe that our family will provide her with a stable network to get her through life’s trials and tribulations, but I also know that she, like anyone else has certain gifts and then probably areas where she is less gifted.  It is hard for me, as Papi, to currently recognize any flaws because, wow, she is just the “bee’s knees” to quote my mom. 

At present, Sam is playing Papi like a violin, and I must admit it is darn cute.  When she comes to “Papi House” as she calls it, she now plays quite the coy, coquettish young thing and makes me work for her affection.  If I don’t get the immediate hug and I go into a sad funk, she will run to me and put her sweet arms around me and give me that hug and kiss.  But sometimes she just makes me wait.  In her world, she has her ducks all in a row and knows she is loved and cared for by so many people.  Since I am a “certainty” in her life, she can most assuredly play the game and make me seem like a secondary fixture at moments.  I know better.  I know my place and her momentary putting aside Papi’s feelings doesn’t bother me one iota.

When I was younger and less self assured and had three children I learned a valuable lesson from MK who was often treated like Samantha treats me by the three boys, who for some reason must have deemed me needier in the emotional area.  They were right, I was.  I watched as they played the Samantha game and MK never flinched a bit.  I think I may have even mentioned the time Christian decided to go to school with me one day when he was quite young.  I told him that he couldn’t because I wouldn’t have time for him while I was doing my job.  He told me that I would have to because he couldn’t stay with Mommy because he liked me better!  Parents need to understand that these commentaries cannot be taken the same way they would be if they were coming from an adult.  Sometimes, that is easier said than done but as kids are feeling their way through emotional development this is often what ensues.

So, is Samantha brilliant? I am her Papi and she is the most amazing young lady in all aspects and has a beautiful future ahead of her.  Will I feel the same way about Samantha’s future siblings and cousins?  You are darn right I shall, that is what a good Papi is for!

Oh, and by the way, thanks for all the comments on how cute Samantha is and how she is growing into a beautiful, intelligent young lady.  (Papi is beaming!)

Travels for Mikey, Days One and Two

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Add this experience to my list of odd travels in my recent past: a trip to California to move my youngest back to the Midwest. On Wednesday of this week, I flew out of Midway using a ticket we had purchased for Mikey from Southwest Airlines for his return flight. The ticket had been put in cold storage when Mikey revealed to us that he was in need of help and was remaining with us. The ticket was easily redone to accommodate two of us (at less than the cost for Mikey!), so off I set with one of my sons.

We flew into Ontario and Super Shuttled to Redlands where we quickly took up our hotel room and headed to Hertz to pick up the rental car we had arranged.

In researching rentals, we found out that there is a huge difference between renting at the airport and renting from a municipality when it comes to taking a car from one point and leaving it off at another. The price of renting from the airport was literally twice that of the one we got!

Car procured, off to visit Mikey’s friends/colleagues to get some of his items and the keys to the warehouse. Luckily, I was provided with a list from Mikey and was able to go down the list and make sure we had all the important items. That was important as although helpful, they had a very lackadaisical California type attitude about things. This was especially funny since they are not California natives. It wasn’t easy but I finally got everything from Mikey’s list.

The warehouse was living hell. We had asked Mike’s colleagues to get his papers and important things. Apparently, in doing so, it was literally ransacked. In order to find what we needed, we had to clean/organize the whole scene. We actually did so in less than two hours. We had purchased six large plastic containers from Wal-Mart and packed them carefully. We threw out a lot of stuff that was pretty unusable.

After cleaning out the warehouse, I went to return the keys to the guys. I finished up the list of things I needed from them. That was comparable to pulling teeth in some respects despite their desire to help me out. Although they knew I was coming, they hadn’t detached things, set them aside, or anything, Despite e-mails, texts, etc., nothing was really ready for us. The oddest was when I asked about Mikey’s speakers, they said they knew nothing about them. I looked down and said, “Aren’t those speakers his?” They responded, “Oh, those? We guess so.”

So, this morning, Thursday, at 7:00 am, we departed Redlands. I am writing this as we drive on my iPad in the car. I am actually taking a rest from driving, unusual as that is.

We are already nearing Flagstaff, Arizona and can see its peaks in the distance. There is snow on the ground in places and I may have to pull out the winter jacket I brought, my wool Pendleton shirt has sufficed until now.

Last night we took some time to get online with Mikey’s Mac and figured out that we would get in a quick hike or so in the Petrified Forest of Arizona. The nearest city with hotels that we can deal with are in, would you believe, Gallup, New Mexico. So, away we go…more later!

Okay, it is later. We ended up getting to the Petrified Forest and had a nice walk and drive through the park. We then drove the last hour or so to the town of Gallup, New Mexico. We had “Yelped” with the Yelp app to see about where to have dinner. After reading reviews, we stopped in a place that got high recs and even one where a guy was going to go one hundred miles out of his way to eat there. It turned out to be totally true. Everything from food to service was above and beyond. So, if you are ever in Gallup, go to the Badlands Grill!

Resting up. We have decided to land in Tulsa tomorrow. Never been to Oklahoma, this could be interesting.

What is happening?

Got up in my pretty usual mode of being totally awake and unable to stay in bed, so, I did the right thing, I got up.

After brushing my teeth and such, I went downstairs, started the coffee process, and then went into the family room to check on the progress of the upgrading of my iPhone software.  I am convinced I have an iTunes/laptop issue and it was still “processing” just as it was when I went to bed.  So I force a shutdown and reconnected.  At this point it said I needed to do a “system restore” which was just what I expected.  I tried more than once and now it says there is some unknown error.  This is why I don’t like to update, this has been happening since my previous phone and it is making my laptop (which I am writing on) look more suspicious.

Once Mikey gets up I am going to grab my netbook, used mainly for travel, and see if I can find success restoring my iPhone with its iTunes.  Since Mikey’s possessions are still in California, I have lent him this computer for the time being, it was just sitting around anyway since I am no longer working much for the language lab company, if at all.  It has iTunes on it so maybe that will be the answer to my issues.

I can only hope so.

I did get an e-mail from George Washington (my former boss) regarding some training that he wants me to do in Batavia, far west of the city.  He had asked me if I had heard from the teachers.  Originally I had and fielded their issues by forwarding their concerns to the IT people working for the company.  Of late, that is something I do frequently.  Then I had heard nothing from the school.  He wants me to contact them.  I told him I thought we should wait a bit, I know they are anxious to get back to work now that their Windows 7 vs. the language lab software issues are now in check, but they are usually good about contacting me when they need help. I reminded him that it is final exam time, so that is probably why they aren’t following up on it.

Anyway, this morning is not exactly promising to be a fun day.

I may have to hit the Apple Store, once again to deal with those issues if I am unsuccessful with my netbook.  The good news here is that today is the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  I am probably one of the few males around who has no major plans to sit in my easy chair and spend time watching the progress of that contest.  I am not into watching sports on TV, something that inhibits my conversations with fellow males.  I am finally at a point in my life where my inability to have a conversation about something that doesn’t interest me is no longer an issue. I am who I am.  I am remiss here; however, “inability” is the wrong choice of words.  I usually just have “passed over” doing somewhat of a fake when I respond to the typical sports’ related questions.  I have gotten darn good at it.  My sons pretty much follow my path but they do it far better than I do.  They have learned just enough to be able to do it more convincingly. Due to college, they might have some interest, anyway, in their alma mater’s teams and actually do watch occasionally. They also have a much better version of the “I really don’t care what others think” sentiments than I have had in the past, but I am much better at that than ever before.  Somehow, I sense there are more guys like me out there than anyone might realize!

Did I mention that this is not going to be a fun day?  Well, just about thirty minutes ago, the phone rang and I picked it up.  It was the local police calling to speak to me.  They asked me if I was Mary Nylund’s son.  They even got my first name wrong.  Given the amount of times they have called and that we have had the same conversation, this surprises me.  Then again, it doesn’t, because I remember what and whom they are dealing with, my mother-in-law.  Poor soul that she is, at the age of ninety-one and a half, living alone in an apartment less than a mile away, suffering from dementia and the other mental issues she has had most of her life that were never dealt with, and we get the news that once again she has fallen and is being taken by ambulance to the hospital.  At the risk of seeming to be cold-hearted, I must say that my mother-in-law’s hobby has always been her health related, medical issues.  They are the driving force of her existence, her claim to fame, and her way of getting attention. Years ago, this phone call would have elicited a different response from us, but the frequency of the, as I call it, “hangnail/911/Emergency room” calls has changed our reactions.  Through the years we had asked my in-laws to please call us before dialing 911, but that was rarely the case.  They were the local 911 “frequent flyers” and so when I received the call today, Mary Kay and I agreed that we would wait a bit before going to the hospital.  My father-in-law, God rest his soul, enabled the poor lady and by taking care of her real and perceived needs not only paved her way to being Queen of Highland Park’s ER but also undid himself and frankly undid his own fragile health.  He has been gone for over a year, my mother-in-law still calling us frequently to ask where he is. She incessantly thinks he is out drinking with our oldest son.  Amusing since I never saw him have more than two beers at a sitting and that was only when we “forced” them upon him at our house since he wasn’t allowed to have anything but non-alcoholic beer at home.  I say “forced” because that way “Nana” pretty much had to leave the situation alone since we had instigated it.

Mary Kay did receive a call from Nossi, the sweet caretaker (who my mother-in-law, despite her dementia, and still having a wicked streak, calls “Nazi”) who told us that she was currently in the apartment and felt that my mother-in-law was fine.  We figure she will be out of the hospital by early afternoon.

We needed to get over there anyway as the lovely Senior Apartments have been undergoing renovations on an apartment by apartment basis for years.  We know that since, until about a year ago, my mom had a beautiful apartment there as well and we were acquainted with the situation.  The kitchen is getting redone and we knew that we had to get over there to remove everything from the cupboards so that they could do the work. 

So, despite the fact that we thought we had a calm day here, between my silly iPhone issues and my mother-in-law, we are going to have fun.  Really?

How early is it appropriate to have a glass of Scotch?  The funny thing here is that I am about as close to a teetotaler that you can get and I ask this question!

Oh, wait, where is my blood pressure checking equipment?  I need to check that, but perhaps I should wait until later.

I just went to find the granola for breakfast.  I realized that some may think that I have made up these stories.  The scary thing is that they are only the tip of the iceberg.

Did I mention that Mary Kay is doing crossword puzzles right now?  Are we coldhearted? 

Later…