Thursday, May 29, 2014

Dueling, Dulling Technology

This past weekend was the battle of the iPads.  And technology.  And the battle of wills--the humans vs. the tablets.

Setting up an iPad goes in cycles: you love it, you hate it, you love it, you hate Amazon, you love Apple's Genius Bar, you hate your WiFi.  And on and on.  Here are the highlights:

• an iTunes account with a deleted email is a nightmare.  But after a trip to the Genius Bar, and then 90 minutes on the phone the next morning with Apple, the problem was [finally] solved.
• two iTunes accounts in one family are fine, but now Apple puts a 90-day moratorium on switching between the two.  In practical language that means that I could log into Account A, download those purchased books, then log out, then log into Account B, download those purchased books.  But then you can't "read" on account A's books (see above, 90-days, etc.) unless you are willing to call Apple back and pull the card that says "my mom is 86 and my dad is 88 and you're telling me that I have to tell him that he can't read his books?"  Strings were pulled.  Problem was solved.
• there are certain apps that Apple insists you have to have on the iPad, period.  But they can be moved to a "back page."
• Amazon will download into the most recent iPad device.  Even if it is not the right iPad device.  Which means that you have to log into Amazon, delete the devices you don't need, then re-send the purchased book.  Which means that the human better know what the machine is up to.
• Dragon Dictation app is brilliant.  While I could suggest a few improvements, on the whole, I love the app.
• It's easier to read email through the Mail on the iPad rather than on Gmail, especially if there are attached photos. They are hard to enlarge in Gmail.  A cinch -- and an outward pinch -- on the iPad.

Generally speaking, and with only a few minor remaining tweaks, I think the humans won this round.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Strong's Canyon

 I head out early in the morning to the 29th Street Trailhead, my goal the bridge over the brook through Strong's Canyon.  New signage directs me to a slightly different path and I snap photos of the blooming flowers as I walk to the brook and back.

 When I go anywhere, and have my camera in hand, I tend to focus in on the details, see the smaller parts of the bigger landscape.  I'll take a photo of the doorknocker, while my husband (with his camera) will take a picture of the street.  I'll find the flowers in a canyon, and he'll take a photo of the vista.  

 So it was no surprise that when I got home and was reviewing my photos to find only one landscape photo showing a dark winding path with a mountain sunrise far away.  But there were multiples of flowers, grasses, a bent branch, the brook -- both upstream and down -- and quite a few shot of paths descending and ascending into thickets.  So I always comment that to get the full picture of anywhere my husband and I are taking photos, you need both of us: one for the big picture and one for the small details, a perfect duo.

I've been here at my parents' home for a couple of days now, and they have a marriage that is nearly sixty-six years strong and still going.  Like our paired photography, one of them might see the big picture and the other, the details.  At other times, the detail person catches the view, and the other notices the flowers on the path.  It's a truth that most good marriages require this dance, this partnership, and it's always enjoyable to see them, at 86 and 88, still negotiating their way through.  I do love coming round a corner and finding them sitting together, her hand in his.  Or when doing an errand, he points out the drop of the curb, and landscaper's hose across her path, guiding her so she won't fall.

They allow me this intimate look into their lives knowing that I will take it into my own life: even with my camera in my pocket, in image after image and detail after detail, the bigger picture reveals their friendship, a canyon's worth of brooks and flowers and small gestures and larger shared concerns, grown deep over a lifetime. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Celebrate With Honor


Tonight I smell fires, something usual in my neck of the woods, but unusual for here, two states away from home.  But Dad says "It's just barbeques."  For several years on Memorial Day morning, we've gone out and stood on the median in the large, broad street near to our house and waved flags and flashed peace signs at all the patriotic motorcyclists in West Coast Rolling Thunder, a parade of choppers that goes on for nearly an hour.

 But this year I'll be down at the Apple store with my parents, trying to get all the iClouds and iTunes and iPads and their accounts all massaged into place.  It used to be I'd just turn off the computer and turn it back and that would pretty much fix anything that was wrong with a Mac.  But now it's getting waaaaay too complicated, with all our iSystems, Syncing, passwords (we are carrying in a sheaf of passwords) and user names, and we need a genius or two to help us out.  

It's Memorial Day, a day of decorating graves (two done earlier this morning, the rest done last Thursday).  A day of remembering not only our own ancestors, but those who died fighting in wars, hence the West Coast Rolling Thunder, a parade of aging Vietnam War Veterans who are finally getting their due and their own honor.  

I love this holiday, for the traditions of my parents placing flowers on graves, for all the memorials around the country, and for the barbeques that make my room at night smell like the countryside is on fire. Happy Memorial Day, 2014.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Name Change Chame Nange


In the past year the President of our College has presided over the opening of the library (slightly before her term, but only just), the demolition of the old library, the opening of the Aquatic Center, the demolition of a few more buildings, and new lights in some of the parking lots.  An auspicious beginning, for sure.

We recently received a Letter From the President where she outlined that according to committee we will now change the name of just about every building on campus.  My favorite change was the Aquatic Center's morphing over to the Kinesiology, Health Education and Aquatics Complex.  Everything is a complex now: West Complex, Central Complex, and East Complex.  But the Science Building to Canyon Hall?  The Cafeteria to Crafton Hall?  It's bad enough that the name of my college sounds like a boys' prep school, but we certainly are going to a high register level of language on the naming.

I wonder if I mailed out a Letter From the Adjunct, thanking everyone for their support, and announcing sweeping new changes in an area or two, if anyone would read it?  No.  The name of the Adjunct Game is Keep Your Head Down.  And now that I've used up my supply of upper-case letters, and the prose is flattening out, it's time to move from my Johns Hopkins Sewing Studio into my John Q. Harvard Living Room.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Doctor's Visit


 Annual Tune-Ups today at the doctors' offices.  As I get older, I'm always weighing the need to be truthful about all my body's quirks with the need to put up with the hassle of seeing specialists, confessing bad habits (eating too many Mother's Day chocolates), and venting about the aches and pains that are a daily fact of life.  I already see a dermatologist and an oncologist (told today it would be for a total of TEN years, not the five I was thinking it would be), and am hoping not to enlarge that circle.  So I was happy that the Primary Care Physician gave me a clean bill of health.

Then, as she was leaving, she said, "But I'm glad I'm not in charge of your skin."




Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Buckle

So when school is over for the semester, is it buckle down to work?  Quiltwork? Housework? Clean-out-the-garage-work?

Buckle up a car seat belt? as in it a time for travel to see grandchildren, trips to Daiso Japan, the store that sells "mochilato," or a local fabric shop?

Or is it just a time to buckle, as in a buckle fracture, the bone collapsing under stress like an accordian? 

Can I do all three?  I gave my "final" yesterday, showing up ostensibly for 20 minutes, but ending up talking to a young (nearly 30 years old) man for nearly an hour, before I collected my things and bid him farewell.  ("Keep in touch!" the final parting phrase.)  I also was given a bag of Ghirardelli Chocolates from another young (nearly 35) man, who I'd had in a previous class.  It was good to see him, and this time he earned an A from me.

I've kind of flopped around in the interim between my last class a few days ago and this "final" and wondered if I'd ever get the energy to begin on some quiltwork, let alone the other kinds of work.  I feel like my brain is flabby too, having expended a ton of brain cells on a post on the quilty blog about copyright, and my recent quilt that is subtitled "High Drama, Prima Donna, Cloak and Dagger Quilt."  I feel more like the cat up there, from the Mutts cartoonist.

The trick is to be content, to look like that cat. . . rather than messing with a bunch of buckles.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Category One

We received an email in our school emailbox announcing a "Post-Graduation Celbration" with the following flyer:
(Our college is nowhere near a beach and who is Matthew Roberts, anyway?)

There's been a lot of interesting developments around campus lately, beginning with the jubilant (!) announcement (!) of our 5-buck raise.  Per hour.  But it is retroactive for a year.  If they tripled that we would still be in the lower 25% range of adjunct raise.  I may be making that number up, but it feels about right.  I know we're not in the top 50% nor at the bottom of the heap, either. This news is about a Category One level on a scale of 1-5 (one being the lowest), but I'm happy to have any kind of  pay raise, especially since we've had our wages frozen for several years.

We're also getting the parking lot by the lower level of the library that should have been put in when they built the library, creating parking headaches. But next semester's parking woes will be Category Five on a scale of 1-5 as they are closing one of the main parking lots to build our new College Center, which is billed as a "center for the college" but when you look at the space usage, it's really just new offices for the Administration, while the faculty offices are still in pre-1970s buildings, dark and dank and woefully small.  But then, they aren't really hiring new faculty these days -- just administrators, with a few adjuncts -- so I guess new faculty digs aren't needed.

One student appears to have stopped coming to class, now that we have 4 weeks left, another student was caught plagiarizing and I sent her name up the admin ladder, and still another student seems to have no regard for the start time of class for when he does come in it's like he's the only person in the room, standing, talking, flailing through his backpack as he settles himself. 

Their major paper of the semester is due in two weeks and I've put the screws on them to get cranking.  One student is calmer than a summer lake in the morning, while others are Category Ten on the panic scale of 1-5.  You can see it in their eyes, their inability to find anything in their backpack or folder, the stepped up visits to Office Hours which I hold at a table in the library, since the Adjunct Office Conditions are about a Category 12 on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being most suitable), as compared to the Faculty Offices.

We are all tired.  The students are tired, teachers are tired and the staff barely move from their rolling chairs when you ask them a question, their fingers poised over the keyboard while they barely move their eyes from the screen to your face in order to see if you are a Category One person or a Category Ten person on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the least important. If it's awarded on power, the only power I hold is a fully-paid up parking pass for a Faculty/Staff slot and an ability to award grades to the deserving and undeserving alike.  If it's on looks, I am always fully dressed.  If it's on brains, mine generally show up at the time I need them to. But with having to sign a paper every semester acknowledging my non-renewable contract and lowly status, it's really not a hard question: I'm a Category One, most definitely. 

Which is why I'm taking an unpaid sabbatical leave next semester.