Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

DVD Player Without Remote – Free to a Good Home

February 28, 2018

Let me make it perfectly clear at the get-go here: I am not hormonal. My body is well past menopause and I no longer succumb to hormone-induced fist-slinging mood swings or irrational outbursts. Right?? Think ‘mellowed’ … ‘calm’… ‘collected’.

Unless something happens that totally, rationally, logically, and justifiably pisses me off. Then, well, you’d better get out of the kitchen.

So yeah, I suffered a meltdown recently. Over a Samsung DVD Player we bought not even a year ago – Wi-fi, HDMI compatible, high definition, with remote. Except, somehow, we lost the remote (not going into it). And the player doesn’t function without a remote. Well, there are two buttons on the front of the device, ‘on/off’ and ‘eject’ but every other function, for example, ‘play’, ‘fast forward’ ‘stop’ – is controlled by the remote.

“No problem. I’ll just go buy a universal remote and hook it up.” I said, ever so calmly.

Drove to Best Buy, bought the remote – not bad – 15 bucks!

Problem solved!

RCA. Made in America. Simple and EASY to Use. Okay!

Get out the instructions.

Step 1: Manually turn on the device you want to control.

Yeah, sure. How about YOU turn it on? Our DVD Player has no power indicator light – giving you no clue as to whether it’s ‘on’ or ‘off’. If it’s ‘on’ vs. ‘off’ shouldn’t a little red indicator light turn on, or something, telling you that, yes, indeed, the device is on? I pick the thing up – look all over it – is the light on the side, the bottom? Surely there’s a power indicator light! Nope, there isn’t:

Is it ‘on’ or ‘off’? You tell me …

Oh but maybe you can’t open the sleeve that holds the DVD unless the device is turned on? Nada. No help. Even if the player is ‘off’ – you can still open the sleeve for the DVD.

Here, I took this demonstration video of our DVD Player (note: the root word in demonstration is ‘demon’):

There. You see. You plug it in – push the ‘power’ button and nothing happens. You plug it in, push ‘eject’ button -and ‘Ta-da!’ the sleeve pops open, even though the machine is ‘off’. But there is no “play’ button, so what the heck good is that? YOU NEED A REMOTE!

Well, whatever, I’ve got the remote now. So where was I??…

Step 2: Find the Code List that came with the remote. Find your device and brand in the Code list – Circle the codes for your brand and keep them handy:

The Samsung DVD player codes are handy

Check.

Step 3: Press and hold the device key (VCR key on the remote) – hold that key down and use other hand to enter the first five-digit code for your brand in the code list …

Okay. This I can do.

Then there’s Step 4. Here – I took a photo:

Short version of step 4:
‘Prepare for meltdown’

Okay, to review, you turn on your DVD player manually. (Problematic in this case.) Then hold down the device key on the universal remote, while entering the code for your brand of DVD that you got off the code list. To test whether the code took, you point the remote directly at the DVD player and press POWER on the remote, DID YOUR DEVICE TURN OFF?

WELL, I DON’T KNOW IF IT TURNED OFF, DO I? WAS IT EVEN ON?

If the remote hasn’t turned off your DVD player, then you try the next code. If that code doesn’t work, then you enter the next code, and if that code doesn’t work then you enter the next …

Note the tip in fine print at the bottom of step 4: TIP: Because there are so many codes, you may have to press the POWER key many times – possibly hundreds of times.

WHAT?

Did you notice the number of codes on the code sheet for the Samsung DVD player?:

10 different codes for Samsung?

How many hundreds of times will I need to push the power key, and HOW DO I KNOW WHAT CODE WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T SINCE THERE IS NO POWER INDICATOR LIGHT ON THE FRIGGIN’ THING SO I DON’T KNOW IF AND WHEN THE SORRY-ASSED-&%*$%*& DVD PLAYER IS ‘ON’ OR ‘OFF’!

I was screaming this at the inert DVD player sitting on our kitchen counter, when David walked in from upstairs.”Do you have a problem?’ I sucked in a gulp of air and attempted to explain to him, using a seething inside voice, how I got to this moment and the horrible situation I was in with this crappy DVD player with no power indicator light (who bought this thing in the first place?) which rendered it impossible to connect to a universal remote where one of ten codes might work and I would probably figure out which one did if only I could communicate telepathically with the DVD player about whether it was ON, or OFF, couldn’t the DVD player give me some kind of sign?

“Why don’t you violently stab the front of the DVD player with an ice pick, honey?” I said. “Smash some holes through front panel to expose the mother board so at least maybe sparks will fly out of it when we turn it on.”

“Spare yourself, Jody, and buy a new one.” David suggests. “They don’t cost much.”

I headed back over to Best Buy. Gave the strapping male clerk an earful about the last DVD player we bought here – how ridiculous! No power indicator light! Had he heard other complaints about this? (No. Not a one…) Well, it was a Samsung DVD player, and while one is interested in such features as HD, wireless, HDMI compatible, and such, who would even think you’d have to ask for a POWER INDICATOR LIGHT! What a rip-off! So what else do you have – NOT buying Samsung again! It must cost maybe a penny to add a tiny little indicator light, don’t manufacturers in Korea understand human nature?!! How can I be assured the new one I get has an indicator light? Oh. I see. From the picture on the box.

Came home with a new player with all the current technological bells and whistles for 70 bucks. You can see from the photo on the box, it’s most precious quality – a power indicator light. Whoopee!

I still have the Samsung player. I hate to donate it to a thrift store, even though it’s practically new. Someone will buy it for almost nothing thinking they’re in DVD heaven, all they need to do is program a universal remote to operate it. Yeah. I don’t want my actions to impel some poor soul, maybe already living on the edge, to drive him/herself off the deep end trying to figure out whether that DVD player is ‘on’ or ‘off’.

Get to Your Eye Appointment!

March 31, 2017

Three years have passed since I got my last pair of glasses. I decided maybe it was time to visit the optometrist, have my vision checked, and consider getting new glasses. Of course in terms of pleasure or motivation, visiting the eye doc ranks second to say, getting a root canal. Short of walking around in a blur or in a constant corrective squint, suffering from double vision, or enduring stinging or throbbing eyeballs, who would willingly schedule a visit with the eye doc?

To begin with, there’s the mandatory ‘puff of air’ eye test where you plant your chin on a machine and position your eye a toothpick’s width away from the source of the pressurized puff, then hold your eye wide open to receive the spontaneous blast of air thrust directly onto your eyeball, startling you off your seat, first the left eyeball, and then, before you can gather your bearings, ‘Poof!’ the assault to the right eyeball. The puff of air holds the unique distinction of traumatizing nearly every civilized human being from early childhood through adulthood, a test you can’t get out of no matter the excuse, unless you have fallen into cardiac arrest, because the puff of air checks eye pressure. And then there’s the eye drops, which you can’t get out of either, however, if fast enough, you can slam your eyes shut so the drops hit sealed lids, sabotaging the drops’ ability to penetrate and dilate your pupils. (I learned this from one of our kids.)

They’ve come up with a new test, I learned at my visit this past week, involving a machine that measures your peripheral vision. Per the usual optical assessment machine, you set your chin in the fixed metal chin support and affix your eye on the vision field while holding a clicking device. Once you are in position the technician alerts you that the test has started. A feint blob of pale squiggly lines appears at random places and time intervals on the screen and every time you see it you hit the clicker. All set up and ready to go, I was suddenly afflicted with a nose itch so intense I wanted to yell “Abort!” and pull away to engage in a scratch-and-rub orgy with my left nostril. But the technician has already declared, “The test has started!” and I’m scrambling to get up to speed blurting out loud that I have a nose itch, to no avail. Blood pressure rises as I manage the distraction of the itch against the task of clicking at what I perceive to be the sight of this feint blob of squiggly lines popping up on the screen, sometimes not peripherally, but in the middle of the screen, hey isn’t this a peripheral vision test? Mind overload here. Need to scratch my nose!

I managed to pass the peripheral vision test while also confirming my inability to multitask with a nose itch. This same phenomenon occurs when I’m in the dentist chair. I can hardly hold my mouth open, coping with a nose itch. To my hygienist’s credit, she allows me at first signals of distress to raise upright from my dental cleaning position to scratch my nose. The nose itch phenomenon occurs nearly every time I get my teeth cleaned.

Have you ever considered the bedside manner of your optometrist? Exactly. No you haven’t. Your optician or optometrist is at the other end of the optical machine flipping incremental vision correction lenses or some such thing. The conversation goes like this:

Which is clearer, 1 or 2?
2?
3 or 4?
uh…
3 or 4?
I think 4
5 or 6?
5 … maybe
7 or 8?
8?
9 or 10? Tell me when they look the same
They look the same! (all the while wondering how much your answers have screwed up your glasses prescription and when you can be done so you can scratch your nose.)

I’m happy to report that after all was said and done the tests revealed relatively good news, that is, my long distance vision got a little worse, enough as to warrant a new pair of glasses, but hardly significant since I’ve been legally blind since grade school anyway. Since the biggest E on the sight chart is only readable to me without my glasses at 6 feet away, my distance vision appears to be about 20/800 meaning, without my glasses I can see at 20 feet what a normal 20/20 sighted person can see at 800 feet. Plus I have stage 1 cataracts that appear not to have worsened over the past three years, plus various peripheral specks and floaters and whatnot, ‘incident to age’.

So yeah, I got the drops. Two installments. I know my enormous black pupils probably weren’t bulging out of my eye sockets but my brain had me convinced they were. I tried to go trendy on my new frames, you know, large, round, dark purple or maybe dark red plastic frames like what Meryl Streep wears to the Oscars. Boy did they look ridiculous on me. Maybe I need the glittery gown, hairdo, stage, and jewels to complete the look.

But hey, driving home in those dark plastic disposable sunglasses you have to wear to protect your super-light-sensitive dilated pupils?

I was cruising down Hollywood Boulevard.

On-the-Job Flu Vaccine Protection

October 1, 2016

Our daughter Megan has a delightful job as a volunteer at one of our local hospitals. A few hours a month she and I together take a food cart around to the surgical waiting room and into patients’ rooms and offer complimentary drinks and snacks. We also meet the families of newborn babies and take complimentary photos of the babies. It is a wonderful job and Megan and I feel very fortunate and privileged to have this job.

This past Thursday the volunteer supervisor asked us, “Have you had your flu shot?” Although most states do not require healthcare workers to get the flu vaccine, a growing number of hospitals and health care facilities are mandating it as a requirement for employment with the stance that the flu vaccine is the best way to protect immunocompromised patients from getting the flu.

However, according to this article in Health Impact News, a meta-analysis study published by the CDC reveals that flu vaccinations among healthcare workers offer no evidence of protection to the patients under their care.

There are an estimated 200 viruses that have “influenza-like” symptoms, and the vaccine only protects against 3-4 strains of the flu. According to this article by the National Vaccine Information Center, The CDC is admitting that flu shots don’t prevent influenza most of the time. In fact, studies show that a history of seasonal flu shots can even make people more susceptible to getting sick with a fever, headache, body aches and a terrible cough that hangs on for weeks. A lot of people also get and transmit influenza infections without showing any symptoms at all.

A properly conducted (randomized, placebo-controlled, and double-blind) study of the influenza vaccine has been completed and the results published. Check out this link.

To summarize the article, in this study 115 children were randomized to receive Vaxigrip Vaccines, or placebos, administered in Nov and Dec, and the subjects were then followed for 9 months and monitored for illnesses. Laboratory analysis determined the type of virus present, in case of illness. The results were not good for the vaccine. The rate of influenza infection was almost exactly the same on both groups (4.3% vax vs 6.5% unvax). Most significant of all, 29% (20) of those receiving the vaccine got a non-influenza illness, compared to 6.5% (3) of the unvaccinated.

The most common non-influenza illnesses were due to rhinovirus and coxsackie virus. These viruses are generally mild, but can cause serious harm in susceptible people. Also, other respiratory viruses were reported.

“Vaccine recipients may lack temporary non-specific immunity that protected against other respiratory viruses.”

Also, many flu shots still contain thimerosal, a form of mercury used as a preservative, which is a known neurotoxin.

Inflammation caused by immunizations poses a special risk to pregnant women. If flu shots were mandated for all healthcare workers this would place these babies at risk.

Well, you’ve probably guessed by now, Megan and I are not getting the flu shot. I have never gotten a flu shot. I took Megan to get a flu shot about 10 years ago thinking it was a smart choice – before I did any serious research. She has not had another flu shot since.

Back to our local hospital … “If you choose not to get a flu shot then you must sign this waiver saying so. Plus, you must wear a face mask in the hospital.” Okay!

The face mask is not exactly the sexiest nor the most glamorous face accessory, but we do love our job and we will comply:

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I was telling my sister Lisa about it. She said, “Why don’t you customize the face masks to make them more interesting?”

Hmmm. She was on to something….

Even a sticker added interest…

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Let’s go scary-creepy for Halloween! A spider will do…

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Or how about Hannibal Lecter-ish … The Silence of the Lambs…

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Okay that’s too creepy. “Volunteer wearing customized face mask causes patient heart-attack.”

Let’s go with bunny-face

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Rudolph:

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I know! How about dog face?

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Awwww, cute.

A mustache is in order:

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Add a goatee:

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With Megan in a beard and me in a mustache, we could enter patients’ rooms as Cheech and Chong.

Okay, just trying to make light of the situation. Not trying to get us fired. Which, BTW, health care workers are being fired for their personal choice not to get the flu shot. In early 2012 a hospital in Indiana fired eight workers, including three popular veteran nurses, because they declined to be vaccinated. Over a two-month span at the start of the following winter, at least 15 more hospital workers in four states were let go for the same reason.

We are grateful that we can keep the wonderful volunteer job. Masks it is!

We just won’t get the flu shot. Not this year, not ever. I think we’ll do fine.

If you want, you can check with me again on this, say, in ten years? I’ll fall into the ‘randomized, placebo-controlled group’, in case you’re gathering statistics.

Robins, Warblers … Part 2

July 13, 2016

So I thought I was done telling this warbler story, you know, those little yellow birds, quite cute actually, flitting around right at our front door, leaving droppings on the stoop and making a huge mess.

When David, Megan and I were first discussing how to deal with the warblers, we decided an owl might scare them off. But where, pray tell, do you find an owl? Download an owl photo off the internet? Print it out and tape it to the front door? I had considered that option.

Then David scrounged up Herbert, our life-like wooden jointed cobra snake, from the basement. He set him out there right against the front door and, sure enough, Herbert has done the job.

Herbert, admiring his reflection

Herbert, admiring his reflection

The birds quit their ‘peck-peck-pecking’ out front but are still regularly spotted in the back yard.

Except, it’s been unnerving opening the door to Herbert, having him out there 24/7. He constantly startles us; we’re just never quite prepared for the sight of him.

Then there’s this problem of people stopping by. This past Sunday I spotted an old friend charging up our walk to the front door. I wanted to stop her, warn her about Herbert, but she backed off the step with a start and inquired about the snake as soon as I opened the door.

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I’m just not keen on having to calm visitors and explaining the ‘snake-vs-pooping warblers’ situation to everyone who knocks on our front door. We really have to come up with another way to scare off the birds.

Enter, uh, the Universe, I guess. Because later Sunday afternoon Megan and I decided to park by the Snake River in Idaho Falls and walk the greenbelt. I swerved toward the curb into this parking space in the shade. Noticed a small stuffed animal sitting along the curb there, but what’s the harm in running it over, I want this spot!

We climb out and Megan looks under the car, hey, mom look! It’s a little baby owl! Seriously. We retrieve it and I suggest we leave it in the grass in case whoever lost it comes back looking for it. No. Says Megan. We can use it to scare the warblers! Oh! You’re right Megan! It was in great shape other than a few tire marks and, well, it’s eyes were a bit scratched up:

Maybe Winslow can do the job!

Maybe Winslow can do the job!

First thing yesterday morning Megan made sure we relieved Herbert of his duties.

"Herbert has to go, mom"

“Herbert has to go, mom”

Although Herbert’s done a good job it was just too creepy making eye contact with him every time we opened the front door. Enter: Winslow

Winslow's scratched up eyes make her spookier!

Winslow’s scratched up eyes make her spookier!

Herbert’s a gentle snake, though

What to do with Herbert?

What to do with Herbert?

It just seemed a travesty to exile him back into his dank corner in the basement. Let’s let him loose to explore the house a bit…

Oh boy, he’s in the poinsettias!

Master of disguise

Master of disguise

Better keep an eye on him, he’s wily. Where’d he go?

Peek-a-boo

Peek-a-boo

Herbert meets spider.

Herbert makes a friend

Herbert makes a friend

Spider has been living in the potpourri ever since last Halloween when he escaped the box. I blogged about spider here, our new permanent house guest who’s taken up residence in the downstairs bath.

Oh boy, Herbert’s headed up the stairs… Man he moves fast!

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Straight to Megan’s bedroom. No Herbert, it’s not gonna fly, you posing as one of Megan’s stuffed animals

Bedtime disaster

Bedtime disaster

Herbert makes another friend. He has big dreams

Herbert finds a mate

Herbert finds a mate

No, Herbert, you are not falling in love and starting a family. And certainly not up in Megan’s bedroom!

Herbert needs a purpose. We could give him a new assignment. OUTSIDE. I know! He’s great at scaring off the birds, let’s see if he can keep the birds from eating the tomatoes!

Herbert finds a new calling

Herbert finds a new calling

There. He looks happy now.

As for Winslow, she’s been on her watch for 24 hours. It’s a kinder, gentler creature now that greets you at the front door.

Winslow saves the day

Winslow saves the day

And we aren’t startled opening the front door…

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No more explaining to frightened visitors.

Of course, now we’re on high alert for that ‘peck-peck-pecking’ sound. When do yellow warblers migrate south for the winter?

Goathead Encounter

June 25, 2016

A few nights ago David, Megan and I took a long walk after dinner. Whereas, on my walks I’ll typically circle the same route on neighborhood streets, David likes to explore. With him in the lead we’ll charge off through a field toward train tracks or some distant warehouse, hey let’s check it out! On this particular walk the warehouse turned out to be the Pepsi Distribution Center. The delivery trucks were all parked and abandoned for the day. The doors to the warehouse were open, and it was stacked to the ceiling with Pepsi products. Man that’s a lot of pop!

When we returned home I shed my shoes right inside the front door. Pooped, I just left them there.

Don't leave your shoes in the front entry

Don’t leave your shoes in the front entry

Then about 5am the next morning the dog wanted out. I dragged myself up zombie-like to follow him down the stairs to the back door. (David and I take turns with the dog. It’s my turn.) I stumbled down the stairs behind the dog and then bumped into my shoes in the front entry. OW! OW! Hop. What the heck! I swear, one of my shoes bit me! I stood there in the dark while the dog was doing his business, rubbing an itchy wound on the inside of my foot by my ankle.

When I got up later to start my day, my first order of business was to pick up those shoes and put them by the back door where they belonged. I had an appointment I needed to race off to. Quick, get in the shower! I come racing downstairs wet and barefoot and suddenly – OUCH! Something impales my foot! I reach down and jerk out a large thorn lodged in the ball of my right foot. I leave a splotchy trial of blood on my way to the bathroom where I wash the wound, rub it with neosporin and slap a band-aid on it to stop the bleeding. Then I limp into a pair of flip-flops. Ow! That puncture wound really hurts. It throbs for the next hour.

So what the heck is it? I’d obviously picked that thorn up on our walk – through the field. It was still lodged in my shoe when it bit me at 5am. Then it fell out when I picked up my shoes to move them. And sat there in the front entry just waiting to impale its first victim …

Here I took a couple pictures of it:

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'goat's head'

‘goat’s head’

Then I did an internet search on plants with thorns. … and found it. It’s this weed that grows in rough patches of grass ‘Tribulus terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris

Tribulus Terrestris

Looks innocent enough. Yeah, well within five days of blooming its dainty yellow 5-petal blossoms morph into a ‘fruit’ that easily falls apart into five nutlets. Nutlets? How about, burrs with 2-4 razor-sharp spines. These nutlets strikingly resemble goat’s heads. Thus, the name ‘goathead’. Other common names for this weed are devil’s thorn, devil’s weed, devil’s eyelashes, or ‘puncturevine’ (no kidding).

These devil’s horns are sharp enough to puncture bicycle and lawnmower tires. ‘Nature’s miniature version of a tire spike,’ is how one caption describes it. Why would such a vile creation of Nature exist? This is such a mystery that the Bible attempts to explain it. The Book of Genesis claims the creation of thorns as one of the punishments for the original sin of Adam and Eve, you know, alongside pain in childbirth.

Maybe give God credit for more noble intentions: The Scottish thistle became the national emblem of Scotland founded on the story of an invading Norse Army that was thwarted by an encounter with a thistle in the dark.

Obviously thorny plants and bushes strategically planted below your windows would be a good defense against burglars. This could help explain the knee to waist-high weeds sprouting up along houses in your neighborhood. These neighbors aren’t derelict, they’re smart! All the more reason for would-be burglars to target your house, with your pest-free, manicured, greenhouse gardens and lawns.

If, perchance, you have patches of goatheads or puncturevine sprouting in your lawn, not planted intentionally to keep wayward kids, cats, dogs, skunks, rabbits, marmots, and burglars off your property, don’t worry. For ways to cope with and/or eradicate this noxious punctureweed go to this website: Goatheads.com

If, for example, you have patches of devil’s eyelashes sprouting in your fenced yard where you keep your dog, then purchase their ‘Ouchless Faux-Paws dog shoes” to keep your pets’ paws safe from those loathed stickers. Though, since these thorns can puncture bike tires, you might want to get a written guarantee on those shoes … just sayin’.

Goathead gloves protect your hands when pulling puncturevine, but again, you might rather opt for extermination plans ‘b’ and ‘c’ offered on the same website: puncturevine-eating weevils, or … propane torch. Or maybe just sell your house and move … in the winter, when the goatheads are covered in snow, to hide the surprise for the new owner.

And you know, instead of building a wall along our southern border to staunch the flow of illegal immigrants (yeah, right, Frump-head), how about we just propagate puncturevine, goatheads, devils weed, Tribulus Terrestris, say, for the first 200 yards of terrain all along our southern border. That oughta do it. Yea.

And stop using Round-up! Although I suspect goatheads are resistant to it anyway.

‘Hello Kitty’ goes Gluten-Free

April 16, 2016

Recently I was in line at a music and video store to check out some movies. Of course your eyes wander to all the literal ‘eye candy’ and stuff you would buy on impulse… at adult eye level you see batteries, lighters, playing cards, gossip celebrity news and other rag mags. On the lower shelves, boxes of small toys for kids that they can grab even before you’ve secured your position in line. And of course, candy.

A particular bag of candy, hanging at shoulder level, caught my eye while waiting in line, Hello Kitty gummies! Now, I’m not a Hello Kitty fan, but I could just picture myself in line with my 5-8 year-old daughter, granddaughter, niece, or any female friend of theirs, who might love anything and everything Hello Kitty. They might have a ‘Hello Kitty’ themed bedroom. I wondered how long the ‘Hello Kitty’ brand had been around, so I did a little research – here’s a Google link with her biography.

Hello Kitty was born in London in 1974 ‘for the pre-teen girl in every girl’ – invented by the designer Ikuko Shimizu by the Japanese company Sanrio. The original idea was to create a new character that could be decorated on a plastic coin purse.

‘Hello Kitty’ turned 30 in 2004. She has been around for over 40 years! More research on Hello Kitty revealed how ubiquitous the brand really is. Sephora sells Hello Kitty makeup. Someone in an online chat mentioned you can even take a ‘Hello Kitty’ themed flight. Could this be true? Yes. Boeing 777 Planes are now flying the Hello Kitty skies. Check out this link! for photos of the Hello Kitty flight experience. Houston is now the seventh North American destination for EVA, joining Los Angeles, New York JFK, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.

I also read comments such as, “I know a 50-year-old woman with Hello Kitty stuff. She is my Pinterest friend. I had to block her Hello Kitty page on Pinterest, it was driving me crazy.” Another comment read, “Judging by the girls on my son’s (high school) math team, Hello Kitty is plenty popular at that age.’ – also, “In Japan newborn and up, definitely girls into their 20’s, even older.” Another: “My 48-year-old friend has a Hello Kitty toaster.” There appears to be no age (or product?) limit on ‘Hello Kitty.’

By the way, according to her bio, Hello Kitty’s favorite things include ‘candy, stars and goldfish.’

Back to the ‘Hello Kitty’ candy beckoning the shopper in the check-out line, here, I took a photo:

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Hmmm. They have the candy down to a science! Uh, the marketing of the candy that is. Your daughter spots the candy, looks at you longingly, “Oh, buy it, Mom, please!” It’s not enough that so many pre-teen girls in every girl already love anything and everything Hello Kitty. Lets let it be known scientifically, it’s a healthy food choice!

99% Fat Free! Gluten Free! Vegetarian! Vegetarian? Seriously? Here’s the ingredients listed on the back…

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The first four ingredients are wheat syrup, sugar, maltodextrin, and corn syrup. (Sugar, sugar, artificial sugar, sugar). How can wheat syrup be gluten free? Well, as another form of high fructose syrup, it is so highly processed and purified so as to eliminate any trace of gluten. Maltodextrin is an artificial sugar, also known as a polysaccharide.

Oh, but the candy also contains potato protein and hydrolysed pea protein! (Guess that’s the ‘vegetarian’ part?)

So how to explain the proliferation and enduring popularity of “Hello Kitty?’ It’s a very, very well-marketed brand.

Other brands are in tune and up-to-date with their health conscious marketing strategies. Later that same day we were eating at a local bar/restaurant when I spotted this sign:

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And I cheered and my heart jumped out of my chest! I can finally get a drink with gluten free vodka! Come on!!! Is there a vodka out there that isn’t gluten-free? I Googled it to make sure and confirmed, “all distilled spirits are gluten-free unless it is added after distillation.” (Yeah, let’s add gluten to this vodka just to mess with celiac sufferers!)

Check out this article about vodka marketed as gluten free, from Scientific American. It states:

“After a 2012 Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) interim ruling, gluten-free labeled vodkas hit the market this year, including National Basketball Association legend Shaquille O’Neal’s gluten-free “Luv Shaq.”

“But that guarantee is not necessary,” according to Steve Taylor, one of the country’s leading gluten testers. Taylor calls gluten-free vodka a “silly thing. … All vodka is gluten-free unless there is some flavored vodka out there where someone adds a gluten-containing ingredient. I know that many celiac sufferers are extra-cautious. That is their privilege. But their [vodka] concerns are usually not science-based.”

In other (my) words, vodka is a pure healthy choice, all by itself, even if you adhere to a gluten-free diet.

“… It’s not just alcohol, of course. The new FDA label guidelines allow bottled water, vegetables and fruits to be labeled gluten-free even though these products do not naturally contain gluten.”

“The new labeling has created a marketing frenzy that may become a $6.2-billion gluten-free product industry by 2018…”

Yeah, I’ll be growing some gluten free tomatoes in my garden this summer. But we’re passing on those Hello Kitty gummies or whatever that ‘food’ is. Of course, there’s no urges at our house to pacify a pre-teen girl (inside of us or otherwise) with any and all things ‘Hello Kitty.’

Idaho for Bernie!

March 23, 2016

Last night, March 22, Idaho held its Democratic Presidential caucus. As one of the most conservative states in the nation, Idaho has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Any Democrat running for local or state office holds a very slim chance of winning.

Idaho already held their Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, March 8, supporting Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate for President.

Anyone who voted in the Republican Primary could not participate in the Democratic Caucus. So large numbers were not expected to caucus last night for the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Except Bernie Sanders came to Idaho just before the caucus. He held a rally at Skyline High School in Idaho Falls this past Friday, March 18. The crowd of about 3000 filled the school gym to capacity. People were turned away. Here is a photo of the Saturday headlines from our local paper:

'Feel the Bern!'

‘Feel the Bern!’

Bernie also rallied in Boise on Monday, March 21, and drew a crowd of about 7000 people. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, never visited Idaho. Okay, so winning our state only netted 27 convention delegates …

My brother Eric, and I caucused for Bernie Sanders in Bonnevillle County, a county with about 100,000 residents. The caucus was held at Skyline High School, in the same gym where Bernie held his rally. The doors closed at 7PM. We got there about 6:30. Wow! No parking left! We had pre-registered and stood in line to fill out pledge cards. Hillary supporters were directed to one side of the gym, Bernie supporters to the opposite side. We found seats near the top of the upper bleachers on Bernie’s side. I took a photo from my seat:

We're settled in

We’re settled in

It took a good half hour for everyone to settle after the doors closed. Here’s a picture of Hillary’s side, across the gym from where I’m sitting:

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I climbed out of my seat and walked to the side of the gym to capture the ‘Bernie’ side – to my left …

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Just below you see the ‘Undecided’ and again, to the right, the Hillary supporters:

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Meanwhile the pledge cards were counted, tallying up the exact numbers of supporters for each candidate:

Bernie – 947
Hillary – 209
Undecided- 82

Then we filled out the first ballots – pink ballots. These ballots were your first vote, but not your official vote. The Democratic party vounteers had made ballot packets except, they were a couple hundred short! The folks on the row behind us got their packets, we, in the row in front of them, had to wait…

Finally all the pink ballots are distributed. Then collected….

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Hey, wait for mine!

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The Hillary side chanted cheers for Hillary and stomped their feet. Followed by a roar and stomping on our side for Bernie.

Meanwhile, the volunteers had to count those first pink ballots, over 1200 of them, one by one … Sitting around a table on the gym floor below us. That took a while…

People got antsy and thirsty and got up out of their seats looking for restrooms. Parents with infants, filed toward the exits (diaper changing table anywhere?)…

Eric, I’ll take your photo!

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Then we heard speeches – three total, one for each candidate and one for the Undecided. Bernie’s speaker was a Cuban immigrant, passionate but difficult to understand. They were all a bit difficult to understand over the din of the crowd…

The Undecideds had to decide which candidate to swing to. The majority appeared to go to Hillary. That side of the gym would break out in cheers as the Undecideds filtered in, four at a time. Bernie won some too, but we were already a raucous horde.

Second ballot, blue. This was your official vote. You know, maybe you changed your mind. Blue ballots were distibuted.

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Filled out with pencil, and collected. There was a third ballot, maybe to elect the delegates, but we were ready to go. The crowd had already thinned greatly by the time we got our blue ballots in.

Home again by 9:45 (since it’s about an 8-minute drive from my house to Skyline High School).

I caucused for Bernie!

Bernie Sanders won Idaho by 78%. According to the Idaho Statesman, statewide results gave Bernie 18,640 votes (78%) to Hillary’s 5,065 votes (21%). The enormous turnout in Boise delayed the start of their caucus by two hours. At one point the line stretched more than four blocks with waits of three hours to enter. Over 9000 votes were cast in Boise, making it the largest caucus in U.S. history.

I’m proud to have participated in the political process!

One among the 10% of voters registered as Democrats in ultra-conservative Idaho.

Word problems, Red Lobster and Schizophrenics

March 20, 2016

Part 2 – (‘Siderodromophobia’ and Other Word Problem Woes)

Okay, dear reader, I hate to keep you in suspense any longer as to the solution to the word problem I blogged about in my previous blog….

My hubby, David, solved it. I had also sent the problem out to my kids – all grown, via text on their phones. The discussion went like this:

Solve the word problem

Solve the word problem

“Can you solve this word problem? I
couldn’t. But your dad did. That
second sentence is the foggiest of
any sentence I’ve seen in my 62 1/2 years”

Meredith, our daughter-in-law, answered back within 5 minutes …

“30.333333 for her, 60.333333
for him….?”

Me: “‘A’ for speedy response.
He must have robbed the cradle
for sure..”

Meredith: “Sugar Daddy.
I think my decimals are off tho…
Math gives me question marks.
Oh, duh, 30.5 and 60.5
Wait, no, that’s not it either. I’m
bowing out and leaving it to the scientists”

Me: “I hear you Meredith. I’m into
pulling numbers out of a hat
here and seeing if they fit. Yet,
more inclined to think about this
relationship, why they are
together in the first place and
assuming money is a factor”

Then son, Ben pipes in:

“He is 52 and she is 39.
Pretty simple system of
equations.” (Ben has a Physics degree)

Meredith: “LOL, Jody. I guess we’ll just have
to stick to sparkling narratives”

Ben: “Kind of crazy that they were
born on the same date, and
today is their birthday.” (HUH?)

Meredith: “Maybe that’s what brought them
together … they met at a Red
Lobster where they were both
getting a stupid birthday song
with their all-you-can-eat shrimp.”

Son, Adam (married to Meredith) joins the conversation:

“Nice try, Ben, but it’s a trick
question. He’s actually a
schizophrenic and there is no wife!”

Meredith: “Hahahahaha”
“Oh I love you”

Ben: “LOL”

Okay, so here’s the solution, the set of equations that describe the word problem, per my husband, David, the physicist:

“If you add the age of a man to the age of his wife, the result is 91”

x (his age) + y (her age) = 91

“He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now” (HUH?)

Okay, since the difference in their ages is a constant, (x-y), when he was her age, y, she was (x-y) years younger.

So mathematically that statement is written as:

x (his age now ) = 2 [y-(x-y)]

To solve:
x = 2(y-x+y)
x = 2(2y-x)
x = 4y-2x
3x = 4y
x = 4y/3

Substitute into the first equation: x+y = 91 (where x = 4y/3)

4y/3 + y = 91
4y + 3y = 273
7y = 273
y= 273 / 7
y = 39

So, …. x + 39 = 91

x = 91-39

x = 52

So he is 52 and she is 39. (Yes, he did rob the cradle.)

And now, somehow, when I think about this problem I can’t get beyond the vision in my head of me at Red Lobster, smelling shrimp, with a bunch of employees around my head singing “Happy Birthday”, surrounded by schizophrenics.

‘Siderodromophobia’ and Other Word Problem Woes

March 8, 2016

I was recently on a 45-minute Delta Airlines flight from Salt Lake City to Idaho Falls. I had finished my book and decided to do the puzzles in the back of Delta’s Sky Magazine. The Sudoku puzzle was just too tiny to mess with. The second puzzle was a word problem:

Solve it before we land!

Solve it before we land!

Yes, surely I can solve it before we land.

I’ve always prided myself, that if I spend enough time with a word problem, break it down, tease out the relevant information, simplify the logic into equations, then I can solve it.

So let me see here…. Uh, his age plus her age equals 91. Okay. Read the problem again. “He’s twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Huh? “He’s twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” I feel my heart now, beating against my chest. Anxiety? From trains. Remember? Those word problems with trains students try to solve in high school?

Example: Two trains are driving toward one another. The first train leaves Town A at 5am traveling at 60 miles per hour. The second train leaves Town B at 7am traveling at 70 miles per hour. The distance between Town A and Town B is 455 miles. What is the EXACT time the two trains collide head on?

What? They collide? I don’t know! That’s awful. Hope they aren’t passenger trains! OMG! Could exposure to one too many of these train word problems bring on siderodromophobia? Yes, there does exist in humans a fear of trains (siderodromophobia), the single biggest cause of which might be Algebraic word problems.

Here, a similar word problem, involving trains, with a bit of extraneous information, you know, for extra brain exertion:

Three girls shopping for prom dresses board a train and head to the next bigger city 200 miles away where they have a mall second in size to the Mall of America. This first train is going 60 miles per hour. A second train, carrying eight mothers with screaming infants headed to the same mall, leaves the same station 30 minutes later on a parallel track, going 75 miles per hour. How long does it take the second train to catch up to the first train?

Whew. After telepathically signaling to the girls buying prom dresses that the trip really isn’t worth it, you breathe a sigh of relief that at least the two trains are on parallel tracks. Then you wonder how much room in the aisles the diaper bags and strollers are occupying on train # 2, how long before the babies fill their diapers, and whether the passengers on train 2 have thought to bring ear and nose plugs. I dunno. How mathematical is your brain?

Back to the word problem of the day, on my Delta flight. I have 20 minutes to solve it. “His age plus her age equals 91.” x + y = 91. “He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Say that again? “He is now twice as old as she was when he was as old as she is now.” Huh? Say it out loud. Say it in simpler terms. How? My brain just won’t make any sense of it whatsoever. For those of you who just love this problem, solved it, and you eat this stuff up, here is a link where you will find three more word problems – involving trains and same direction travel, round trip travel and opposite direction travel.

One last practice strategy for solving word problems is to look at the answer and work backwards. Doesn’t work in this case, as far as I can tell, but here – you can have at it:

The answer is: ‘He is 52 and she is 39.’

Yeah, right. Prove it? Is it true, or did those ‘trick’s on you, passenger!’ Sky Magazine puzzle makers just pull those numbers out of a hat?

I don’t know. The plane landed. Safely. Guess that puts things in perspective. Thank you Delta Airlines. I do wish those Sudoku’s in the back of your Sky Magazine were 5 times bigger and, excuse me, but, is that word problem really solvable through any method except trial and error? Is that answer you gave even correct?

In Idaho Falls we do have an airport, but the nearest Amtrak train depot is in Twin Falls, 138 miles away. At least I can rest assured I won’t be involved in any head on train collisions anytime soon.

Please, Delta Airlines, don’t be making up word problems for your Sky Magazine involving same direction travel, round trip travel, and opposite direction travel with airplanes. (Ever heard of ‘aviatophobia’ or fear of flying?)

P.S My husband, David, (a physicist) just announced that he solved the Delta Airlines word problem. What a kill-joy. I guess I’ll have to share his solution now in another blog.

So, never mind. Think I’ll go buy a prom dress or something …

New Roof!

August 8, 2015

Our house was built in 1966 with a fabulous cedar shake shingled roof. I loved the roof. But at 50 years old, it was at the end of its life. Over the past 15 years (since we bought the house) we’ve had to make lots of repairs.

our 1960's shake roof

our 1960’s shake roof

David has been up on the roof about every summer dealing with leaks.

Rudy pointing out a leak

Rudy pointing out a leak

We’ve hired roofers to make repairs, we’ve oiled the roof. Shingles blow off, exposing the felt under the shingles, which practically flakes apart. The shingles themselves, about an inch thick, could probably last another half century:

the original 1966 shakes

the original 1966 shakes

But the felt under the shingles is shot.

So this summer we replaced the roof. (Ouch!) I so loved the look of our shake roof.

But you can’t buy those shakes anymore. The shakes we could get to replace our roof aren’t nearly the quality they were in 1966. We’ve heard some bad reviews, like they curl after a couple of years and within five years you are already making repairs. So we decided to go with asphalt shingles.

We did lots of research, looked at roofs all over town, and found an asphalt shingle that has a 3-dimensional look: ‘Grand Canyon’ in Black Walnut. The roofing company, Wright Roofing, had us in their queue by early May, and would give us a few days notice that they were coming. I was dreading the call.

The call came Friday, July 24. They would be here the following week. I had this long convoluted nightmare Sunday night that the new roof looked hideous, it completely clashed with our brick and shutters; we’d have to completely change the colors of the house to go with the new roof. Awful.

Tuesday, July 28, about 6:45 AM, we hear voices. I raise up from my sleep and peer out the window. Roofers!

Roofer invasion

Roofer invasion

Soon they’re lined up on top of our roof like carpenter ants, ripping off shingles.

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They flung the bulk of the shingles into their massive trucks parked alongside the house. Shingles were also flying onto tarps in front of the house.

yes, it's a mess

yes, it’s a mess

The crew is back on the house at 6:45 am Wednesday morning.

6:45 AM!  Rise and shine..

6:45 AM! Rise and shine..

Needless to say, we’re up too. What are they doing? It sounded like 500-pound boulders with protruding nails being dragged across the roof, right next to our heads.

The foreman said it was the dirtiest roof they had ever done in the 40-plus years they’d been in business.

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Huge messes accumulated by the end of the day…

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By the end of the second day, the roof was stripped and prepped for the new shingles, with a new layer of plywood over the existing roof.

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Thursday morning now – The shingles have arrived!

Here comes the shingles!

Here comes the shingles!

Each bundle of shingles weighs 60 pounds. They must have unloaded 90 bundles from the conveyer belt along the top of the roof.

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Pulling the belt back down now…

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Roofers are exhausted!

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Soon they get busy. Part of the crew on each section of the house. The pattern is taking shape!

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view from across the street

view from across the street

I’m happy to be the observer.

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This is how I imagine it feels on the roof!

Whoa!

Whoa!

I’m loving the three dimensional look of our new roof:

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Roofers laying shingles on the back side:

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Rudy steps in to help

"Hey, I can hammer!"

“Hey, I can hammer!”

Hammering the last shingle now…

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Blowing debris off the finished roof

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Final cleanup begins

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Rudy dashes in to assist

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Rounds up the rest of the crew to pitch in

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Boy the roof looks great

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Rudy dismisses the crew. Job well done!

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A couple of days later, we notice burn spots in the the grass left by sun-baked asphalt shingles…

Rudy assesses the damage

Rudy assesses the damage

That jack-o’-lantern face on our front lawn creeps us out when we glance at it from our upstairs bedroom window

Hope it's gone by Halloween

Hope it’s gone by Halloween

But the house looks great.

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“The roof’s a keeper!” I allow.

“Well, I should hope so!”

(Yeah, like we could change our minds, rip it back off and start over.)