Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cold bound

Last night, despite the frigid temperatures (which gave me an excuse to work from home), I was forced to leave my cozy house: haircut, jump start for my SO, library drop-off, milk pick-up, grocery run. As I backed the car out of the garage, I tried to remember the last time I drove or even left the property. I think it was last Thursday, when I worked at work. Five days of house (ar)rest.

I wasn't totally isolated during that time. The granddaughter came to stay with me for a few hours on Saturday, so I saw both my daughter and son-in-law then. The weather and an impending cold/virus thing spoiled the usual get-together with my SO on Sunday, but we were in close contact. Monday the electrician stopped by for a pre-remodeling consult (everything is fine). And when one has the Internet, one is never really alone. (Hi, NSA!) I *could* have gone somewhere one of those days, but there was no need, so why bother?

Unlike some, I don't mind long stretches with only myself for company. The pets offer their own special companionship. With the marvels of technology, I'm not cut off from human intercourse. I see and hear my neighbors as they come and go. And with my myriad hobbies, there is always plenty to do. Since I wasn't feeling too perky to begin with, a couple of days on the couch, knitting and reading and napping, with the occasional foray to the bird feeders and mail box, seemed nearly ideal. Of course, it helps that I wasn't very sick and we never lost power and no pipes froze.

Now that I have stocked up on toilet paper, dairy products, fresh fruit, and chocolate, I am ready for the next wave of winter weather.

How are you surviving the polar vortex?

Monday, January 20, 2014


I was one of those people who shopped at Target during the holiday season. There was no suspicious activity on my account, but my credit union was extremely proactive about identifying those who were vulnerable and replacing their cards. After reading a NY Times article on just how lax Target's IT security is, I now use only cash while shopping there.

A few days ago, I received an email from Target, offering me free credit monitoring. At least, the email *looks* like it is from Target. There are no links in the email to take me to god-knows-where, but I don't know *how* Target would get my email address or would know that I had shopped there during the time in question. The only legitimate answer is, my credit union shared my email address with them. Illegitimate possibilities abound, though.

It is not unusual for the ads in FB and Yahoo and other sites to reflect my online browsing and shopping, so I don't think I am being paranoid. Or am I?

Monday, January 06, 2014

Decluttering side effects

This past Thanksgiving, while my little family was all gathered together, I dragged my music collection out of the closets and cupboards. There were 50-year-old LPs, 25-year-old cassettes, 5-year-old CDs. My SO had already taken the few LPs he was interested in, so I let my son and son-in-law pick through the rest. The son-in-law is into vinyl, so he took *all* the LPs. (I told him if he sold one for $1 million, he had to split it with me.) My son helped himself to various and sundry cassettes (his car is old enough to still have a cassette player) and CDs. The leftovers will go to the local library and Goodwill.

I enjoy music but it is not something that is central to my life. When I do listen, it is with Pandora or through other online sources. Once, I borrowed a turntable to play some of those LPs and rediscovered the annoyance of that background hiss, of all the scratches, of having to flip the record after 20 or so minutes. The cassettes were nearly as bad. And my stereo system is so old that the disc changer frequently would not release the CDs. So I saw no reason to hang onto all that junk.

What surprised me was my (internal) reaction to releasing all that personal history. That is what our crap is - a record of who we were and where we've been, especially the LPs and cassettes. The LPs are from my teen and college years and 20's, the cassettes are what I listened to as I commuted back and forth to my new career in my 30's. The CDs were purchased post divorce. When that music when out the door Thanksgiving night, I felt like I was losing something vital.

Over the next several days, I fretted and regretted, but eventually forgot about it. I don't notice the hole in the closet the LPs filled because, quite frankly, they were in the way. The cassettes and CDs were in a cupboard I rarely access, so there is no visual reminder of them, either. All that remains is a paper grocery sack of the rest, that gets shuffled around until I eventually shuffle it out the door.

My reaction helps explain why I have closets full of old computer equipment. Another significant period from my life was the year I was self-employed. I started my own software development business while still working and continued it when I returned to the regular workforce, but eventually the clients dried up. I'm glad I tried it, do not regret its passing, have deposited the software printouts in the recycle bin. The hardware itself has been more difficult to deal with.

Even though I have not even powered up most of those old PCs for 15 years (and wonder if they would even start anymore), they continue to take up space in my storage-challenged house. The oldest computer is at least 20 years old, has a Bournoulli drive and multiple parallel and serial ports, as it became my utility computer. There is a slightly newer desktop that connected me to the Internet. There is a notebook I carried to the clients' offices and used for development; I backed up my work to a Zip drive.

One complicating factor to getting rid of all this stuff is I want to check the hard drives for mementos, like the early emails between my SO and me. How I would get this precious-to-me information off the hard drives is a problem, as they predate the USB era. I may have to print them out; I think I have a cable that will let me do that.

Yes, cables. Lots of cables of one sort or another, with connections of various types, with "gender benders" for mixing and matching the innies and outies. There is probably a modem or two, too, with their own multiple cables. And mice and keyboards and peripherals and god knows what else. It is all there, in my closets. It is probably a good thing I don't have a basement or an attic.

When my children were little, I would go through all their old clothes on an annual basis, to pick stuff out for garage sales. Some long-outgrown items remained behind each time, until their hold on my heart released. Eventually, it all went, as will all that I have now, if not today, then some day, when I am gone, too.

Part of me says, It's my crap and I'll keep it if I want to. But I really don't want to. It feels like so much dead weight. Starting with the newer equipment first, as it is not imbued with such power, would be easier. Once I start, it hopefully will become easier to let go of the past. What feels vitally important to me won't matter to anyone else down the line. It really doesn't matter all that much to me, except as a dim reminder of someone I used to be.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

That time of year again

I searched my blog(s) for last year's resolutions, but all I found was this back-patting post. Nothing special was promised, but I am happy to report that I am still jogging, and MORE. My employer provided us with FitBits and mine has actually helped me become more active. In fact, most days I hit my 10,000 step goal. It is not hard to do, but it is also easy NOT to. I wear the thing constantly so every step counts, even middle-of-the-night trips to the john. Still, I have to make an effort everyday.

The result is, I feel more sure on my feet (which should help prevent anymore falls like this one) and my cholesterol numbers are improved. I am also insufferably smug (on the inside). Over xmas break, I even inspired one of my neighbors to get out and walk the nabe.

Another resolution was to declutter. Better late than never, I started that effort just last week. The room my granddaughter sleeps in is now relatively kid-proof and de-yarnified, and has room for the crap she keeps here at my house. I improved the state of the West Wing by moving the spinning wheel and its accouterments to the other spare bedroom which has become my new yarn room. The treadmill has been relocated to the family room, the better to make use of it now that the weather has turned nasty (I watch Netflix on my Nook while walking about 2mph - steps are steps). Two garbage bags of this, that, and the other were delivered to Goodwill. There is still more to do, but this is definitely progress.

This year's resolutions are more of the same: eat less, exercise more, keep house better. Re eating less, this requires constant vigilance. I gained back a few pounds over the holidays - could have been worse. Re exercising more, I got off track this fall with my shoulder PT exercises, so there is room for improvement there. Re the housework, I would like my house to be clean and tidy enough that, should someone stop by unexpectedly, I am not embarrassed. It doesn't have to look perfect - after all, I live here - just reasonable.

What about you? Any new goals on your horizon?