Writer’s Workshop: (Not) Swimming

Not me. Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I can’t swim. I have an excuse now, being disabled, though I have spent time in a pool recently for physical therapy, but as far as swimming is concerned, I can’t.

I sort of could when I was younger. I could get in the water and more or less propel myself through it, and I had no trouble playing in the water, but by the time I reached high school, forget it. We had swimming in sophomore year, and on the first day they asked us to jump into the deep end of the pool and swim to the other end. I didn’t make it; they had to pull me out, fortunately before I needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. At the end of that class, they split us into four groups: Dolphins, Sharks, Tunas, and my group, the Anchors.

Image by schneich from Pixabay

I didn’t feel too bad about it: a few players from the football squad were Anchors as well. They’re good to know sometimes.

Fortunately, in junior and senior year, we got to choose what PE activity we wanted to do for two months, and any time swimming was offered, I didn’t take it. I usually took hiking with the head of the PE department, who looked a lot like Fred Flintstone.

One time, my family had a picnic at the home of one of my second cousins (or cousins once removed; I can never get that straight). They had a pool, which of course I didn’t go into. My grandfather, who was a fairly good athlete in his day, swam for a while, then got out and wouldn’t go back in. “All those kids have been in there all day, and not one has gotten out to go to the bathroom” was his explanation.

I’ve been in several pools since then, not so much to swim as to enjoy the water. My knees have been bad for a while, and walking around in a pool is good, because it takes some of the stress off of them. My company had one of their annual midterm meetings years ago. The first day was one of the typical boozefests, and naturally we were all feeling a little rough the next day. The facility where we had the meeting had a pool, though, and I found that standing neck-deep in the water was very good for a hangover.

Once when I was traveling, it was miserable, hot and humid, and I decided to take advantage of the pool at the hotel. Which reminds me of this….

Naturally, I just stood in there; I didn’t swim.

Writer’s Workshop: Cum On, Feel The Noize

I don’t generally get into podcasts. If they’re longer than ten minutes, I get antsy and want to listen to something else. One podcast that doesn’t make me antsy is TMSoft’s White Noise Sleep Sounds podcast.

Source: TMSoft

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that I have a problem with tinnitus, a constant ringing in my ears (particularly the right one) that can keep me awake at night, or that can interfere with my thoughts while I’m sitting at the computer. My solution is to play white noise at bedtime or while I’m trying to work. What I call “white noise” is background noise; it can be anything from the sound of rain to the sound of a crowd, from fire crackling to a cat purring, the sound of the highway as you drive along on the open road or the roar of the engines from inside an airplane or the constant clickety-clack of a train. When I was in hotels, the sound of the TV in the room next to mine made excellent white noise. Fans and appliances are particularly good at generating it, as is an AM radio that’s tuned to the static between stations.

TMSoft has an app called White Noise, which comes in a pro version that allows you to record your own sounds and download sounds from their market for free (as well as removing the ads). Their podcast is an hour-long sample of one of the sounds that’s featured in their extensive library. While I’ve been writing this, I’ve been listening to a sound called “Dishwasher Rinsing”; next up is “Amazon Jungle,” though I might skip that and go to “Rain on Car Roof.” It’s nice to have variety.

There are lots of white noise apps available for iOS and Android phones. For that matter, there are at least a dozen websites that generate white noise (my particular favorite among them is MyNoise) and a lot of YouTube videos that play white noise, some of them for 8-10 hours. Try some and see what you think.

By the way, the title of this post is a song by the band Slade

Oh, the garbage we listened to in the ’70’s… we loved it…

Writer’s Workshop: Instagram Faves

I follow almost 3000 Instagram account and a few hashtags as well. Here are a few of them.

Pete’s Chicago Pages

Pete Kastanes is from Chicago and frequently (almost daily) posts a picture of some product or business that no longer exists. He has an identical page, Vanished Chicagoland, on which he posts the same thigs, but for some reason I follow both. Maybe because he’s a friend I’ve never met, a kindred spirit who misses the Chicago I remember. He has a YouTube channel and has put together some fantastic videos.

Milo’s Sanctuary

Our days of being cat parents are coming to an end (although, please God, not anytime soon) and I’ve decided that the best way to cope when that day comes is to watch kitties through the Internet. I have a special place in my heart for older, sick, or cats who are “broken” in some way–abused, missing eyes or limbs, “developmentally challenged” (there is a feline form of Down syndrome, apparently), or with birth defects–and so do the people at Milo’s Sanctuary in beautiful downtown Burbank, California. Pictured is one of their stars, Sir Thomas Trueheart a/k/a Tommy. Tommy was abused (I won’t say how) and taken in by the folks at Milo’s, where he lives and thrives.

Lamebook

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Nothing but quality for the queen

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This is the Instagram account of Lamebook.com, which promises “the funniest and lamest of Facebook.” I never fail to get a laugh from it.

Timothy Miller (tenorlion)

Timothy Miller is an operatic tenor and professor of voice at Morehouse College in Atlanta whose avocation is singing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch at Sunday home games when the Braves are in town. He shows up in tuxedo, no matter how hot it is (and it can get very hot in Atlanta), and brings down the house any time he sings. Braves fans love him, and he loves the Braves and their fans.

Boop My Nose

Just something silly I started following. And yes, I boop the dogs on the nose.

Marvin Freeman

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Command and Changing Speeds makes Pitchers, Pitchers!

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Marvin is a retired pitcher who played for the Phillies, Braves, Rockies, and finished his career for hometown Chicago White Sox. He was a fan favorite in Atlanta, and since retiring has opened a pitching school for prep players. He shares pitching lessons, videos of himself as a player, and pictures of himself and other former major leaguers. Marvin grew up in Chicago and worked for Lyon & Healy making violin bows when he was in high school.

#chitecture

Nothing could convince me to move back to Chicago, but I do like seeing pictures of the place and remembering what it was like when I lived there. The hash tag #chitecture is for pictures that focus primarily on the architecture of the Windy City, a city that has some of the most interesting architecture in the world.

DGIM Studio

I follow a lot of graphic artists, many of whom share videos of the process of creating a logo or drawing. Even when my right hand was working, I couldn’t draw to save my life, which might be why I like to see the fruits of their labor.

Aeroflot

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Знаете ли вы, что в авиации есть особый алфавит?🤔 Каждой букве латинского алфавита присваивается слово, которое используется при произношении сложных кодов и сочетаний букв. Это необходимо для того, чтобы избежать искажений и путаницы. С помощью международного фонетического алфавита важная информация передается точно и однозначно независимо от родного языка тех, кто участвует в радиообмене👨‍✈️ Вы тоже можете воспользоваться этой системой обозначений, например, при обращении в контакт-центр, когда необходимо назвать код бронирования: COURTI – Чарли Оскар Юниформ Ромео Танго Индия 😉🔠 #Аэрофлот #Aeroflot

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I follow a few airlines, most recently Aeroflot, the Russian airline. Don’t forget their slogan, “На Аэрофлоте летный фильм смотрит на вас!” (“On Aeroflot, inflight movie watches you!”) I love Google Translate…

Jeopardy!

Yes, my favorite game show posts regularly to Instagram, as well as to Facebook and Twitter.

What are some of your faves?

Writer’s Workshop: Keyboard Follies

Image by Daniel Agrelo from Pixabay

I bought a MacBook Air a few months ago, and I really like it, but I’m still learning its quirks. At home I use a Mac Mini with a PC keyboard and wireless mouse from Amazon for a couple of reasons:

  1. Apple’s mouse and keyboard are really expensive. I can get a PC keyboard for about $15 and a PC mouse for about $10. The same combination from Apple costs about $100.
  2. Apple’s mouse only has one button. Press it and it’s equivalent to a left-click on a PC. If you want the equivalent of a right-click, you have to hold down one of the Command keys (the equivalent of the Windows key) before you click. I only have one functioning hand (thus the name of the blog) and thus doing this is difficult at best. On the other hand, if I use a normal two-button mouse (three if you include the scroll wheel), it functions the same way as on a PC: right-clicking brings up the context menu, which I just happen to use a lot.

The MacBook has pretty much the same problem as any laptop, namely the position of the trackpad that many users use instead of a mouse. Out of necessity, I have to turn it off, because, since I type with one hand, my hand is always sliding back and forth across the trackpad, moving the cursor with it, and it’s a real mess. Fortunately, the PC mouse works great on the MacBook, too, and the operating system will shut off the trackpad if it sees I’ve attached a mouse.

One of the other problems, and the thing that drove me crazy, is that there’s no Delete key on the MacBook keyboard. There’s a key marked “delete,” but that’s a backspace, namely, pressing it deletes one character to the left of the cursor. On my keyboard at home, there’s a key marked Delete that deletes a character to the right of the cursor, in addition to the backspace key. I use both keys pretty much the same amount, because I change my mind on what I’m writing, and sometimes I decide to insert something in the middle of a line that means I can delete everything after the insert.

I’ve lived with this for a few months, remembering to position the cursor at the end of what I want to delete and backspacing. Today, I decided that was a pain in the ass and set about finding a way to delete characters after the cursor, so I DuckDuckGoed “mac delete forward” and discovered that it’s a common issue MacBook users have. I had to go through the first ten links to find the answer I was looking for. Those ten links brought me to forums where people asked it, and were told either to purchase a keyboard-remapping application that sold at the “cheap at twice the price” cost of $36 or to “suck it up, buttercup! You’re on Mac now, and that’s just the way things are! If you don’t like it, go back to a PC! All hail the late Steve Jobs!” Still others questioned the sanity of wanting to delete something you hadn’t typed yet.

Finally, I got to an official Apple website that told me to hold down the Fn key (which is in the lower left-hand corner of the keyboard) as I press the delete key (in the upper right-hand corner). Which would be fine if I had hands like Paganini, who had Marfan syndrome and could reach about ten frets on the guitar, or if I had use of both hands, which, as we’ve discussed previously, I don’t. I kept looking, and discovered that there’s a second and far easier method to do the delete: press the Control and D keys. And I tried it, and it worked like a charm. I can do that very comfortably. Problem solved; crisis averted.

We need a song. From 1961, Patsy Cline (one of my favorite singers), Willie Nelson’s “Crazy.”

Writer’s Workshop: It’s Not The Heat…

Image by Raphael Schaller from Pixabay

This week’s question asks “what’s the most humid place you’ve ever been?” That’s an easy one: Houston, Texas.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

I swear, every time I’ve been to Houston, it’s been humid. I was there in the winter, which isn’t that cold, but it was still humid. What makes things worse is that, in order to deal with the humidity, everyplace is air conditioned to the point where the relative indoor humidity is about 10%, which makes it feel colder than a penguin’s backside, even though the temperature holds steady at 72° (22° C). See, when you come in from the heat and humidity you’re warm and sweaty. That’s a real shock to the system. I spent a week training at Enron (to give you an idea of how long ago it was) and went from the hot and humid to the cool and dry at least three times a day every day. By the time I got home, my immune system was weak enough that I picked up an upper respiratory infection (courtesy of the kids across the street: Mary spent enough time with their mother that she picked up the cooties and passed them along to me), which ruined the next week, which I had scheduled as a vacation (or staycation, because we weren’t going anywhere), and carried over to the following week, when I was in Hawaii for work. Have you ever flown when you had an upper respiratory infection? Trust me, you don’t want to.

Anyplace can be humid, especially if a river is nearby. Atlanta, with the mighty Chattahoochee River running through it, gets very humid, as does Pittsburgh, which sits at the confluence of the Allegheny, Ohio, and Monongahela Rivers. I spent a good portion of the summer before I moved to Atlanta in Miamisburg, Ohio, just outside Dayton, which you wouldn’t think would be that humid until you consider the Miami River nearby. And, while we’re on the subject of Miami, it gets plenty hot and humid sitting on the Atlantic Ocean, but almost every afternoon a thunderstorm pours it all back on the city, cooling it down until tomorrow.

My international winner? Singapore.

Source: Pixabay

Singapore is a city, a country (a city-state, if you will) and an island that sits one degree north of the equator. So yes, it gets hot and humid, and there is the daily thunderstorm to deal with. For some reason, though, it’s not as uncomfortable as you might think. I guess they’ve worked out the whole air conditioning thing a little better than Houston.

So, what’s your nominee?