Monday, December 31, 2012

Let's End the Year with Some Laughs and Blog #100

I have a friend who told me last week that I was close and that I needed just a few more writings to get to 100 blogs this year. I hadn't realized this but it motivated me to take the time and compose some more pieces. With this blog I have officially reached number one hundred for 2012.

I'm going to cheat a little and share a website for some fun. Many people know that I am a stickler when it comes to grammar and spelling. That's not to say that I don't make my share of errors. I do. (Don't start searching through my blogs now either) I do not however, make many basic, obvious or stupid mistakes.

I confess that I'm dismayed when I read a newspaper and find ridiculous errors which have not been caught. What ever happened to editors? Where are the proof readers?  I have often been tempted to walk into a news office and offer my services. Why is it that papers require their writers to have journalism degrees, but not a good working knowledge of English sentence structure, grammar or spelling?

I came across an amusing newspaper headline on facebook recently and I wanted to read the entire article. I "googled" it. What I found instead was this site. Hilarious. Enjoy and Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Les Misérables & As the Gut Churns

Director Tom Hooper has done it again. Surely he is poised to take over James Cameron's title of  "king of the world". Never, in my career as a movie goer have I experienced over two hours of such intensity. My neck ached, my body quivered and my stomach heaved by the end of the movie "Les Misérables.

The story, by Victor Hugo of Hunchback of Notre-Dame fame, takes place in France during the early 1800's. Life was difficult during that time. It was just after the French Revolution and people were either very wealthy or destitute. There was not much middle ground. The protaganist, Jean Valjean, was a petty thief who was released after almost twenty years of hard labour.

The opening scene is magnificent and all consuming. It sets the stage for the rest of the movie. Hundreds of prisoners, some waist deep in water are pulling on ropes, hauling in a massive ship and singing "Look Down , Look Down". It gave me goosebumps.

After Valjean is released, his life takes a new direction when he has an encounter with a benevolent priest. Valjean changes his name, eventually opens a factory and becomes mayor. Circumstances cause him to make a promise to a young woman, Fantine that he would always look after her daughter Cosette. He is hounded throughout the film by his relentless enemy Inspector Javert.

There is some comic relief provided by the innkeeper and his wife. There are scenes of violence during the student riot. There are scenes which are shocking, scenes that are disturbing, and scenes which will make you cry. The experience is an emotional roller coaster.

This movie combines big name actors with some new, talented, unknown faces. Nevertheless, there is no one, outstanding individual in this film. I think this is a prime example of teamwork, of an ensemble cast that deserves as much recognition as can be given. The vocals are adequate. The singing is of secondary importance. Hooper's idea of having the performers sing "live" as they acted the scenes helps to give the production authenticity. The cinematography is excellent. In the close up shots, the pain, anguish and raw emotion of the characters is obvious. In my opinion, the producer, Tom Hooper is a genius and is academy award bound.

I have never been fortunate enough to see the stage version of the musical "Les Misérables". I'm fairly confident that now, I'll never need to. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Technology, Pins, Usernames, Passwords and When Did I Get So Old?

I'm almost ready to throw in the towel. This is exhausting. I have expressed my thoughts about technology innumerable times.  I've attempted to keep up with the latest and I've been hanging on by a thread. My brain is currently on overload. I think life would be much less stressful if I just quit trying.

I know of people in their forties and fifties who have given up. They don't own a computer and some don't even bother with cell phones. I've seen older people at banks trying to use interac and being taught by bank personnel. Technology comes easily and seems commonplace to the young, as it once did for us. As everything becomes more complex, it is increasingly challenging to keep up. I'm currently being challenged.

From what I can see, my new, larger cell phone performs the tasks of my old one, only less efficiently. The "apps" have not yet endeared themselves to me. I have not had a sudden urge to google, look up my hotmail, investigate facebook, do my banking, or watch a movie on a teeny tiny screen. Nor do I feel compelled to use this device at church, in a restaurant, while visiting friends or in the WC. On a recent car trip, I fiddled with the phone until I located traffic reports. By then, hubby had already heard them on the radio.

Everything nowadays needs to be done online. Not that I have a problem with using a computer, but on the rare occasion when you need an actual person, it's impossible to speak with one. Example, I recently discovered that there are government offices which have been closed except for the one employee hired to sit at a desk in front of an elevator and inform people that the office is closed. "Do it online".

I also found out that there's some magical mystery way of emailing money. Note to self...go to the bank, find a person (I know for a fact they still have some) and learn out about this. How does one email money? How does aforementioned emailed money know into which account to deposit itself ? Is this anything like the emails I get from countries far abroad saying that I have received a gift of a million dollars? Another senior mystery. I'll report back.

Every time I turn around, it's necessary to have a new pin, username or password. Get a cell phone, need a password. Try to retrieve voicemail, need a password. Get an email account or try to register for anything online, need a username and password. Get a satellite dish, need a password. Open a bank account, need a pin number. Three bank accounts? Don't even get me started. What about those credit cards that get mailed along with a secret number in a separate envelope? Don't write it down. It's not safe. Shred it, or better still, eat this paper after memorizing your four digit code. Oh, by the way, you can change the code anytime you another pin. Do not use, 1234. Do not use your birth or other significant date and definitely, do not use your telephone number! Experts warn that you shouldn't use the same pin for all your accounts and credit cards. Your identity could get stolen along with your many dollars. Most likely the ones that have been sent in your email.

"It's no problem retrieving passwords either is it?" I ask sarcastically

It's not as simple anymore as "what was your mother's maiden name?" You have the option of making up your own question, or responding to one of a myriad of potential offerings designed to keep potential crooks baffled. How would a thief ever know what your first car was? I don't even know what my first car was...a question clearly designed by the male of the species for the male of the species. My first school? Well, let's see. Should I select the first one I attended? The first one I attended in Toronto? The first one in which I taught? It doesn't matter. No matter which one I pick, it'll be the wrong one when it comes time to retrieve my password. What about ridiculous choices of questions like "What's your pet's name?" Yeah, right. Like that's top secret information. And of course, it is always recommended that you combine upper and lower case and at least one numeral. Good luck with that.

I never thought I'd be the kind of person who would reminisce about "the good old days". There's a lot to be said for technology. I admit, however, that I do sometimes long for a time when one gadget performed one function, when there were no passwords, usernames or pin numbers and when people were not at the beck and call of their electronic devices. Life was simpler then.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I have to laugh. People are totally getting to know me. I can tell by their gift giving. This just goes to show that it's not true what they say about seniors. We don't have everything and need nothing. I can honestly say that prior to this year, I did not own any of these items. Not only that, I am using or will use every last one. As one of my friends said, "old people don't only need items that have medicinal properties."  How true.

A gift from hubby. This bug is a garden ornament but is so great that I couldn't wait until spring. It now adorns one of my houseplants.

A sleep mask and handwarmers that look like pigs. Who doesn't need these wonderful and unique items? My friend presented them to me. Then we tried to think of as many pig expressions we could..."when pigs fly", "pig in a poke", and "this little piggy..."

I love the socks from my stepdaughter. In fact, they match my favourite nutcracker earrings. I have to ask though, "Do these socks make my dog look fat?"

My son knows that I'm an English language stickler. He got me this book full of amusing photos with captions demonstrating the correct and incorrect use of "quotations". Funny, entertaining, and yet, sad.



And now for the more elegant items. This is a great Terry's boutique string scarf. It has several uses and can be worn many ways. Besides converting to a belt, it can hang down, be tied loosely, knotted tightly and more. The strings contain my favourite colours. It has sparkle and sheen. I've already had compliments on it and I will be wearing it often.

This table cloth and a matching runner came from another friend. Lovely and seasonal.

I hope that everyone has been as blessed as I to have such wonderful friends and family that know me so well. Continued happy holidays to all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

What Do You Want for Christmas?

As I go about what appears to be an unusually hectic schedule of late, the words "What do you want for Christmas?" are a recurring theme. I went to the mall where people were asking their friends, "What did you ask for? What do you want?" At my hair appointment, I overheard "What do you hope to get for Christmas?" I noticed that the response was never anything intangible.
I am not being judgmental or critical. I am not being anti-consumer. I like presents too. They don't have to be huge. One or several small tokens of people's admiration and affection are certainly sufficient for me. After all, we're all kids at heart. Who doesn't love gifts, giving or receiving?
I have a friend who prefers to give gifts. As she says, she doesn't need presents to store away in her cupboards. She buys whatever she needs and wants for herself. She doesn't support causes or want donations on her behalf. Instead, she enjoys giving and making others happy. She likes cooking and baking and sharing her goodies. She loves seeing children's faces during the holidays and witnessing their enthusiasm and excitement. She feels blessed to be in a career where this can happen.
Some couples purchase a common gift, for their home, for example, a shared item which can also be useful for both.
I met a woman in town recently, a bit older, who also said she doesn't need or want anything. She and her friend were giving each other opera tickets, so that they might attend experience enjoyed with a friend.
I suppose as we age, so does our idea of gift giving. I remember when my son was five. He received a snowsuit from his grandparents. He immediately voiced his disapproval, "That's not a present!" he announced loudly. A child's idea of a gift is of course, a toy. Now that he's twenty eight, he had no problem accepting the gift of a vacation from mom, even if it meant going with mom.
Naturally, hearing all these conversations and thoughts have made me think. What do I want for Christmas? It didn't take me long to decide.
I want the gift of time. I want time to spend with my husband and with my family. I want time to spend with my good, loyal and patient friends. I want time to pursue hobbies and do things that I like to do. I want time to enjoy so many more experiences. At this stage of my life, this would be the best gift.
So, what's your answer? What do you want for Christmas?
Wishing all my wonderful friends and family a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
And remember these words. "He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I Was Published

Hubby suggested I send my "thief" blog (November 24th), to the newspaper. He said, "It's current and it's timely."

It was published in the November 30th newspaper, a fitting ending to November's blog a day month. Since a large picture of me showed up under my article along with the words "thief", I hope that residents of my town read the whole article and don't just think it was a mugshot.

I've had a few comments about it...all positive.

NorthumberlandNews Article: A thief by any other name is still a thief

I mentioned to a friend today that the last time I won a prize was in January. I was published then too. She assured me there was no correlation between my recent Christmas tree win and the article in the paper. I suppose that's true. Nonetheless, it's an interesting coincidence.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Computer Chaos, Gmail , Blogs and Obsolete Junk

For various reasons which shall remain semi new cell phone...picassa photos...and more, I was forced to create a Gmail account. This account has now taken over my life. In fact, it's a miracle that I was able to get into my blog page at all. Well, actually, not much of a miracle. I used a different computer and was very sneaky. Computers know. Computers communicate with each other. Computers try to get you.

Just to clarify, I'm not paranoid. I am just realizing how many connections are missing...not from the computer but from my brain. So why does my trusty laptop now think I'm a totally different person wanting to create a brand new blog? I don't know. I don't want to try to find out. Basically, it won't let me back into my three year old blog. I might have to start over someplace else soon.

I have developed an old person's perspective. I am entitled. I've seen technology come and go and come and go. Can you say slides, 8 mm, super 8 film, betamax....? The list goes on and I have previously written about much of it.

Hubby recently told me that I'd better get my blogs printed off before they disappear. The thing is, I could save them on a stick, I could save them in a cloud, I could save them....on paper! Paper, what a novel idea. With all this technology changing daily, who's going to bother with other methods? To me, if it's tangible, it exists. If it's on little gadgets, cartridges, sticks or lost in space somewhere, who knows?

Yesterday, my daughter and boyfriend came over. We watched video cassettes of when she was a baby. Video cassettes...something else that will soon create more landfill junk as the capability to view them will no longer exist. Fortunately, we still have a player. Unfortunately, the picture was blurry and distorted on our high def t.v.

So, I shall spend some time printing my old blogs and placing them in a binder. It's not that they're of any huge value to anyone once I'm gone. But the thing is, I might want to amuse myself by reading about my escapades when I'm in "the home". By then, I surely won't have the capability or the opportunity to locate them through some future electronic method.