Jun 30, 2010

My Digital Legacy

A co-worker of mine recently mentioned that a facebook friend of his died.  The friend's page is still up and running and getting activity.  Mostly farewells and tributes from the deceased's friends.  He said it was very odd to have these pop up on his FB news feed, bringing memories of his friend when he least expects it.

The digital age has changed things in so many ways.  How we interact and communicate.  How we are entertained. It's changed our language.  Now it may even impact what our families need to do after we're gone.  I know it will for me.

My e-mail account - How long would it continue to collect junk mail if nobody turned it off?   Indefinitely?  Come to think of it, I'm sure I have at least five or six accounts I've set up over the years in an attempt to keep my real mail free of junk.  A futile exercise, by the way.   Will these accounts just keep waiting for the log-in that never comes?

My facebook account -   I think I'll ask my daughter to post a tribute update.  Something along the lines of "Mom's final update...... It's been fun, see you all on the other side!"

My blog - I don't trust the digital world to maintain my blog for the long haul.   I am going to start printing it out as a backup.   Not because I think it is super significant in any way but because it's important to me.  I also think it would be a good way for my future progeny to get to know great-great-great grandma Christine.   I wish I had my ancestors' blogs to know what they were all about.     

My WOW character - As in World of Warcraft.  You know, the on-line role playing game.  Sounds silly I know but I have a lot of time and effort put into Falana.  Scientist have done studies of the brain while people are playing "avatar" based games like WOW.  They found that the areas of the brain that are activated when somebody is controlling their character are the same as when people are asked to think about themselves.   These digital personas become like extensions of ourselves.   I am entrusting Falana to my guild leader, Tony.  He would do right by her.  My family, not so much.  They don't get the whole WOW thing.

All of this is assuming we make it past 12/21/12.  As my sister says to my niece.  None of it will really matter if the Mayans were right and we are going to get fried by some solar flare anyway.   Just in case, maybe we should be sending our digital personas into space....  wasn't that a Star Trek episode?  The one where Picard lived another life on a planet that had a dying sun.   The one where he plays the flute he finds floating around in space even though he never learned to play the flute before.  Not a Star Trek TNG fan?  You should be.

Jun 25, 2010

Tired Routine

Girls/women can be so mean to each other. For some it seems to be hard wired into their DNA. Most of us have had “that” friend. She’s the one that somehow managed to wrap a punch to the gut around every compliment she ever gave you. Or sometimes it was just a nagging little lilt in her voice with the hidden message that you are not as pretty, smart, funny or “fill in your own adjective here” as her.

Some of us were lucky enough to have strong women in our life who taught us about these emotional vampires. We learn that their cruelty isn’t about us. It’s about them and how they feel about themselves. We leave these girls/women behind and seek out friendships built on mutual respect and acceptance.

So why, after 30 years, can a person like this pop up and stir the same emotions in you that she did when you were an insecure teenager? How did she learn your buttons so well and remember how to use them after all this time? Or does she use the same, old tired routine on everybody?

Ignore her.  She doesn’t know me anymore. I doubt she ever really knew me. Let it go. Move on.

Photo credit:  Just Let It Go by Kotama Bouabane

Jun 16, 2010

Hang a Left at the Giant Jesus

I, like most women, navigate by landmark. Men, on the other hand, usually navigate by direction, north, south, east or west. Test it out if you don’t believe me.

If you ask a man how to get to the airport you’ll get “Go West on Michigan Ave. then South on 275 and East on Eureka to the airport exit on the south side of the road.”

Women will say, “Take Michigan Ave that way (pointing) then go south on the freeway, take the Eureka road exit left. You can’t miss it. It’s right past the airport landing lights that run along the side of the freeway. Then there’s a big sign on the right side of Eureka for the airport entrance.”

I do have a good sense of direction.  Even after many turns I can generally tell where I am in relation to where I started.  But it's not a north / south thing.  I’ve never understood why someone needs a compass in their car. I only see two situations in which a compass would be handy. Lost at sea or lost in the wilderness and you have to make sure you don’t end up going in circles trying to find civilization. Do people really decide which way to turn at an intersectin by consulting their compass?

I used to regularly drive from our tech center in Michigan to our plant in Ohio. Four hours of driving down I75 through corn fields, boring/flat Ohio landscape and truck stops. If you weren’t careful you’d be mesmerized by the boredom and find yourself in Kentucky.

Fortunately, right next to my exit off the freeway, the Solid Rock Church built one of the most distinguishable landmarks I have ever navigated by. A giant Jesus. I’m not talking about a big Jesus. I mean a GIANT JESUS. He was pure white, outstretched hands to heaven, with the upper half of his body emerging from a man made pond. Just so you don't mistake him for John the Baptist, a big cross lays in front of him.  No possible way to miss it. From there it was right at the prison, left at the ice cream shop, left after you cross the bridge and then the first right. For the life of me I couldn’t tell you the name of one of those streets. But I trust that I could get you there time and time again.

That is, until today. My friend told me the bad news. The Giant Jesus was struck by lighting and burned to the ground. The church promises to “resurrect:” the statue. I wonder who came up with that line, the church or the journalist.

I can’t help but secretly think this is divine intervention. Some higher power trying to tell them that such an in-your-face symbol of Christianity isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. A message from on high to "Tone it down".

Their plan to rebuild the Jesus is a "testament" (see, I can do it too) to their commitment to bold statements of faith. As a precaution against another lightning strike I think they should give Jesus a lightning rod to hold over his head. Or would they worry that a lightning rod laid witness to their lack of faith and trust in God?



Jun 10, 2010

Lake Michigan

Dogs love beaches too.  Daughter, me and husband along with Maize, Chance and Mario.  Memorial Day weekend.

photo credit to my son-in-law Luis

Jun 7, 2010

My own worst enemy.

I went ahead and did it.  Even after all my big talk about the sanctity of the written word on paper.  I bought an e-reader.  I'm a sucker for a bargain and woot.com had refurbished Sony E-Readers at a price I couldn't resist.  I have to say, I actually kind of like it.  I bought two ebooks and am about a quarter of the way through the first book.  I like that the other book is sitting in my reader's memory patiently waiting for me to get to it.  My written books on the other hand sit on the shelf looking at me accusingly, wondering when I will get to them.  Wait til they see me with the new ereader.   I'm never going to hear the end of it.

I've come to find out that my purchase has sounded the death knell for book stores the world over.  Including the behemoth Border's Books.  This is not a good thing.  Besides the fact that I love Borders, I have a personal interest in its survival.  Albeit a small interest. 

I convinced my husband a few months ago to let me play around a little bit with the stock market.  He agreed, while making it clear he thought it was more like gambling than investing.  I said that's OK.  I'm a gambler.  I bought a miniscule number of two stocks. 

The first is Activision, game company responsible for Guitar Hero, Modern Warfare and World of Warcraft.  How could this go wrong?  Not long after my investment the developers of one of their most popular games walked out and they are now embroiled in a nasty court battle over royalties.  Strike one. 

The second stock I bought is Borders.  The price dropped to record lows so I figured it was one of those opportunities to buy low and sell high.    The stock initally increased but has since plummeted to even lower record lows.  Not much room left until rock bottom.  Lots of reasons why, financing, getting too big too fast, etc.  I also read that the rapid increase in the number of ebooks is doing quite a bit of damage to book sellers.   Damn, I'm at cross purposes again.  I have to rethink my idea about selling stacks and stacks of my books on half.com.  I don't think Borders can take anymore pressure.

Jun 4, 2010


I attended an HR briefing about the Health Care Reform Act. Every time I attend one of these I learn something new. HCR has loads of new provisions, most of them using terms and general standards that have yet to be defined. It's mostly general concepts.  As in most things coming out of Washington these days, it's not so well thought out.

The intent of this reform is admirable and there are certain provisions that will make an immediate and meaningful difference for the un(der)-insured in this country. But I can’t help thinking that we missed the mark on this one. Overly complicated, bureaucratic and not aimed at the real root of the problem. 

It’s like health care is a henhouse.  We are going to spend a lot of time and money patching holes and putting chicken wire over the whole thing to keep the chickens safe. The one thing we forgot to do though was get the fox out of the henhouse. I’m talking about the companies making assloads of money off of health care, the insurance companies and brokers and pharmaceuticals. They are profit driven. Any additional costs they incur will be passed on to the consumer. That's exactly what's happening with health care reform.

Stupid. Why did we create a system that hides the cost in a million different places? Why didn’t we just institute a national health care system funded by a new tax?

Today's speaker at the briefing perfectly illustrates what is holding us back from making such a bold change. He owns a brokerage firm. Oh, pardon me…. “benefits consulting” firm. He makes money from the insurance companies on commissions for policies he places with them. I knew what to expect the minute I took in his $1000 suit and gold, monogrammed cufflinks. 'Oh boy. This ought to be good' says me to myself.

His opening… “The good news is that the major elements of this law will not take effect until 2014. That’s two election cycles where we have the opportunity to put more business minded people in power.”  Who is this "we" he is talking about?

On increasing the dependent age out to 26..... "So now we have to cover your slug of a kid who can't manage to leave the basement and find a job."  Have you seen the unemployment statistics you moron?

On eliminating the pre-existing exclusion......"Anybody who finds themselves sick and in need of insurance can now get coverage even though up to that point they weren't doing the responsible, adult thing and buying insurance." Doesn't he realize how many people find themselves in a position of choosing between insurance and food?

Gratuitous references to his own wealth....... "I view chiropractic care as "essential" to my golf game." "I own the building my company is located in and rent space to many small businesses. How will they pay for rent and health care?"

This schlub had no sympathy for anybody who finds themselves in a position without health insurance. Stereotypical response from people of his ilk. He delivered the entire hour and a half presentation with a smug, little smirk on his face. After all, why not? He's secretly very happy about this change. Higher premiums means more commissions for him.

Health care won't truly be reformed until it becomes non profit. Heck I 'd even settle for "reasonable profit".