Archive for September, 2005

Let there be light?

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Now it seems that enough folks are up in the night hours to want the neighborhood lit up like day. Why? I can’t figure it out. Another street light was installed recently on the street along the apartments beyond a row of lofty Ponderosa pines a few hundred feet from my house. That’s another light to make my star gazing more difficult and I am annoyed.

There are always rumors of theft that multiply as they spread but to make night into day is impossible. The galvanized wash tub stolen from my back yard years ago could have as easily been taken in broad daylight. Anyone cruising along the paths in the pines would know by frequent passing when I was away and judge the length of my absence.

We have lost our ability, at least our desire, to see in the dark. Long, long ago our ancestors developed keen eyesight to find their way. Fires kept predators at bay, perhaps, but exploring was done without light. And certainly land was conquered and population spread without it.

Every room in my house is lit well enough by the digital lights of technology so I don’t need to switch lights on in every room. The neighbors’ glaring porch lights almost blind me making it difficult if not impossible to identify an intruder in the yard if I had to.

As winter approaches a bright porch light welcomes morning paper deliveries and lights their way along the streets. I don’t begrudge them that amenity. And you know what? I can’t move into the open country for a lot of reasons so I will shade my eyes and appreciate the light when I need it. But I do hate to give up the stars.

Is touch typing useful?

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

Last week I thought about what made computerwork easier and surprisingly the most basic skill that came to mind was touch typing. Many times executives who input all their reports for secretaries painstakinly use the hunt and peck method with forefingers on both hands. What a time waster! Imagine a CEO or a manager at any level, who makes an awful lot more money than the secretary or clerk who files the information, taking time to hunt and peck instead of adding creative and innovative ideas to save money for investors. Maybe the words being put onto the computer are exactly those innovative ideas and should be put into verbal directives toward action.

So what’s my point? Touch typing is the point. The alphabet placement on a keyboard has not changed since the introduction of the typewriter so learning to type with ten fingers has been a skill taught for more than fifty years. Shop classes were opened to girls in high school and cooking classes were opened to boys making gender no longer an issue in generic skills. Many crossovers occurred. Sometimes classes were taken to raise the percentage of contacts between boys and girls. One of the many such occasions where the boy chasing girls paid off was in the programmer field. Imagine how much the programmer who could touch type had the advantage over one who had to hunt and peck!

Typing skills may have more uses than meets the eye but I’m promoting touch typing for everyone who can spare a few months to learn. My lack of skill was an embarrassment to me when I went back into the workforce at age 42. I interviewed for a position of graphic artist and presented a formidible portfolio of my art work. The interviewer was mildly impressed and casually asked, “Can you type?” Of course I said yes because I had taken a typing class twenty-five years earlier. I didn’t think it was important to add that I passed with a “D” or indicated that my skills scraped the bottom. I was interviewing for my artistic ability, after all.

At the time, charts and graphs were drawn by people who had bonafied
AA degrees in the graphic arts and a typist added the callouts, the identifying
indicators on the drawings, with a typewriter outfitted with a special
font. I was put into a group of artists as a temporary employee. This
was and still is the practice of trying out not only the technical skills
of a new employee but also the personality and people skills for a good
“fit” with the regular staff. Within two months I became a “permanent”
emplyee and a month later it was announced that a new unit was being formed
in a different location. Well imagine my disappointment when I was placed
in that new unit as the typist.

Because it was an untried location, the graphic artist and I had few clients to begin with so I had time to reacquaint myself with the keyboard – I hadn’t touched one in twenty five years – and I had almost completely forgotten the touch method which I had not learned well in the first place. The position was a challenge which I met satisfactorily. Luckily new technology came along and my real skills were recognized so I moved away and up in the company where I remained for twenty years.

I was probably lucky that I couldn’t type. I saw proficient typists take different paths within the communications department and I’m glad I didn’t go there. It has taken years to gain a touch typing skill mostly because I am compelled to write and need word processing skills as never before. Learn the skill. You’ll never know where it might lead.

What a difference a day makes

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

It’s true – a day can make a difference. Yesterday I woke up in Richland, Washington, faithfully ate my oatmeal and fresh vegetables, went about puppet practice, after which I picked up my packed bags and walked out the door, locking it securely behind me. Al whisked me away in a gas guzzling contrivance to an International airport and the next thing registering on my brain, is waking up to another day in Ventura County, California. Sounds quite simple doesn’t it? Or maybe a little mysterious? Like capricious extraterrestrials stalked in, had their way with me, and faded into the canyons or middle earth or the cosmos,

But I am here – in California with the same sunny outlook and the 50’s temperature I thought I left in the northerly latitudes. Oh, well, like the gambler remarked, “you can’t win ’em all!” Putting natural environment aside, I did gain immeasureably – the company of my son, daughter-in-law and two tall and equally gorgeous grandchildren. Boy oh boy, what genes will do for one! Can’t beat all the good stuff that heredity brings out when you’re as lucky as Sherer’s!

I crashed in a daybed in the computer room which sleeps the best! Really wouldn’t have gone vertical if nature hadn’t demanded. After a bit of visiting during breakfast the family went their separate ways and I was free to wonder at the backyard zoo. You should see the fat sassy squirrel licking water from the leaking sprinkler. It made its way across the lawn quite at home. When the California bunny made an appearance a different atmosphere desended. The squirrel went up the corner post quivering at the menacing confrontation of Captain in command. How extraordinary to see a precocious land based rodent send a distant relative up a tree and out of here, NOW!

From this day forward new and different adventures will undoubtedly occur. I can hardly wait!

Wildlife at Coldwater Cove campground

Tuesday, September 6th, 2005

Great weekend experience in Willamette National Forest of Central Oregon! I arrived at Coldwater Cove around 1330 on September 2, 2005, and registered for campsite number 4, half price with my Golden Age Passport. Tim arrived shortly thereafter. We visited over beer and generally became acquainted with the area, a site developed around 1937 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. I relaxed from my four hour drive by watching the wildlife – several furry tailed squirrel types with which I am unfamiliar. Two came at different times, both very dark brown/black with creamy to yellow underbellies. Tim had planned for tacos, had the ground turkey cooked and seasoned, with the new