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Sunday, October 30, 2011


If these are hard times, and I know they are, I have just one question:

Why is the Apple store always jam-packed with customers?

I went for my “One-on-One” class.  And had to almost wade through the customer lines to sign in.  Afterwards, while I waited to pay for my two purchases (a new iPhone screen cover (two for $15) and a new iPhone case (ugly orange, $30)  I got to talking to another woman, middle-aged, somewhat frazzled (basically a lot like me) who also was waiting to spend her money.  She had been playing with a display iPad while planning to make several purchases from her Christmas shopping list at the Apple store.  She was afraid to wait to purchase the items until November for fear they would be on back-order by then.  So much for a recession going on.

I have an old version of the iPhone.  And have been trying to resist the new iPhone 4S, the latest Apple toy.  I also own a relatively new Mac Air laptop.  When I bought my laptop, for an extra $100, I signed up for a year’s worth of One-on-One class.  I am still learning boatloads of new information about both "toys" at what are essentially individual tutoring sessions.  In theory during the one year I can take an unlimited number of classes.  But I can only schedule one class at a time.  For example, after I finished my class I registered for the next available class, a little over a week away.  On average I attend at least two classes a month, sometimes as many as four.  At that rate I am paying no more than the cost of a cup of coffee for a fifty minute session with a private tutor. 

At the session I had a list of questions and issues.  One was the extreme slowness and sometimes unresponsiveness of my old iPhone.  Some Apps don’t want to open.  Sometimes the camera is sluggish. And so on.  I told the instructor I recently had replaced my iPhone’s screen protector, the cling-on film to keep it from getting scratched when I stash it in my purse or a pocket.  The protector I used was one of several in a package I had purchased at the same time I bought the iPhone. So the screen protector, in terms of technological stuff, was really old. I also had two iPhone cases, one basic black and one white in a 2-pack box bought at the time of my original iPhone purchase.  After several years I had tired of the dingy white case so I replaced it with the other case, a similar, rubberized "sock", using the original hard shell that snaps over the rubbery sock, forming a two-piece case.

Rather than agree with me that my old iPhone was past its prime, and that I "needed" to buy a new iPhone, the One-on-One instructor (this one, a woman about my age who somehow had mastered the finer points of Apple stuff) suggested a couple of simple solutions.  

The first tip was one I had learned a long time ago with my PC: shut it off and turn it back on. 

I’ve gotten so used to leaving my iPhone all the time I had forgotten this basic sure-fire, all-purpose, well basically only high-tech solution I know when a technological thing won’t work right.   Turn it off.  Then turn it on again.  Apparently rebooting is a thing of beauty for all things high-techy, even an iPhone.

The other two tips: buy one of the newer model screen protectors that don’t interfere with the touch technology. And buy a new case for my old phone.  The old case, even though I had used it for only a few months had sat around in my desk since the time I had first bought my iPhone.  And the rubbery stuff no longer held its shape.

I did not have to pay another $200 for the latest model iPhone, I did not have to pass Go and try to transfer everything and re-learn the few tricks I finally now knew about my iPhone.  I was paying $45 for a few small pieces of plastic, one of which is an ugly orange case. (They only had three styles for an iPhone as old as mine.)  Nevertheless, they made me feel like a winner.

Sometimes I do feel I am playing the game “Monopoly” when I go to the Apple store.  But when a company is this good at what they do, I suppose they get to take my money to the bank.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Schatzie resting after a night of baseball and blogging.Why doesn't this collar come in red? Do they think dogs are color blind?,

Pillow of Pleasure Beats Cone of Shame, Paws Down

Dorothy’s Idea of the Day:
After a late night of staying up to watch the Cardinals win the World Series I decided to let my dog write my Blog today.  Here's what Schatzie wrote.

Ordinarily I give the “Two-Legs” in the family, as I like to call them, credit for some sense.  They keep my water bowl filled, my food bowl refilled twice a day, and also take me to the park regularly.  But after a recent visit to my doctor, where he completed the removal of some pesky thing that had been growing on my leg (I had gotten a good portion of the removal process started for him) he sent me home with what I refer to as the “Cone of Shame.”

Dignity and mobility are two very important traits to keep, especially as you age.  My owners did not seem to realize this when they left this cone-shaped plastic device around my neck.

First, it is hard plastic, uncomfortable to lie in, impossible to see around and don’t get me started about what it is like trying to navigate stairs or your water bowl.  I was careening into unseen objects everywhere because the stupid cone blocked all of my side vision.  Two nights in a row I had to get the Two Legs out of bed to help me go up and down the stairs or around the furniture.  And then they had to sit with me for hours while I calmed down.  Frankly I don’t think my heart can take this much excitement at my age.  And I have to say the Two Legs were pretty sluggish in their walks in the park the next days.

Finally my owners came to their senses and removed the Cone.  But they apparently were still convinced I was going to try to save them a trip back to the doctor to remove the stitches.  And yes, I had been thinking about that.  Because they then placed the pillow of pleasure around my neck.  Its official name is the “Kong Cloud”: an inflatable pillow that looks a lot like the neck pillows Two Legs use to rest their heads. 

Now I can walk around without bumping into things.  I can drink or eat in comfort.  And I don’t even mind being seen wearing the fashionable blue collar.  My owners bought it at Feeder’s Supply for about $25 and it was worth every dollar they spent.  As it says on the package, “Your dog will love you for it.” I guess the collar does not come in Cardinal red.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Cardinals' Rally Squirrel Plays Great Baseball

Who would have thought in August that the Cardinals would be in the World Series, let alone the World Champions. What happened?  Commentators talk about probability vs. destiny. Well, they pulled off the win in seven thrill-packed games, up and down, back and forth.

Tonight's game was the not the nerve-racking nail-biter last night's was. But it was a great game. And maybe there is something about momentum.

For now, I an sort of glad baseball season is over for this year.  I need some sleep.

Ok, for the record I take back “Coneheads in Mudville”

What a game last night!  The Cardinals are the original come-back kids.  I don’t know if they are going to win the World Series tonight.  Or if it will be as exciting a game.  It hardly can be.  But I have to say the Redbirds and the Rally Squirrel delivered an evening of world class entertainment. 

By the way, our dog is no longer wearing a conehead, my infection is small enough to cover with an ordinary band-aid, and the autumn colors suddenly are in their orange-gold glory.  Why did I ever doubt this would be a great October?  If the Cardinals can win the World Series AND keep Albert Pujols on their roster for next year, it won’t get any better than this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coneheads in Mudville: Let's Hope Not

The autumn colors are subdued this year.  The reds are dull.  The yellows are yellowish-green and yellowish-brown.  And more browns and dull greens and bare limbs than colorful leaves.  None of the trees so golden they appear to sparkle.  None of the orange-gold and flame-red.   

And subdued is a good description of my mood now too.  Sure the Cardinals are now in the World Series and they are going back to St. Louis for the final part of the Series.  But they are down, two games to three.  The threat of the Series being suddenly over hangs over the remaining game(s).

My thirteen year old dog is bumping around the house with a cone over his head.  He had what looked like a “hot spot” on his leg when we left him at the kennel to go to a couple of the championship series games.  When we picked him up he had a nasty-looking wound we knew required a trip to the vet.  The tumor/ cyst (whatever it was we do not yet know; still waiting on the biopsy). But he bumps around the house, giving us sad looks—like “How can you make me look so ridiculous?  And at my advanced age?”)  His owners are feeling a little subdued after paying for his surgery and all the tests.  Do they have a health savings account system for pets?

About the time our dog had surgery, while I was exercising at the gym, I discovered a nasty bump on my leg that hurt and was inflamed.  Looked like a spider bite to the two experts I consulted, a friend at the gym and my husband.  I applied cortisone cream.  Then the bump started bleeding and I applied an antibiotic cream.  Today I went to an actual expert, a dermatologist.  Turns out I have a staph infection: a nasty germ, typically acquired at gyms.  The doctor gave me a prescription for some high-powered antibiotic since I am allergic to the usual medication used for staph germs.  Maybe I also need to wear a cone (on my hands? or leg?) to keep from scratching the infection.

The leaves on the trees will continue to drop from the trees as we move into late fall.  No matter who wins the World Series, there was joy in seeing Albert Pujols, a phenomenal baseball player and an apparently all-around nice guy, tie Babe Ruth’s and Reggie Jackson’s records for three home runs in a World Series games. 

Soon either the Cardinals’ or Texas Rangers’ fans will be celebrating their win at the final game of the World Series.  Soon our dog will get his sutures and his cone-head removed.  And soon I should be healed and able to go back to the gym for my hour of escape from any serious considerations.  But if Albert leaves the Cardinals for a better-paying ball club there will be a lot of “subdued” among Cardinal fans.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Apple Picking Or Tree Chopping

Steve Jobs was especially good at getting us to always want the next thing.  Sort of like  the gangster Johnny Rocco, played by Edward G. Robinson, in the classic Humphrey Bogart movie "Key Largo".  When Rocco was asked what he wanted, Bogey suggested to Rocco that Rocco always wanted "more".  Rocco agreed.  And Rocco also agreed he never got enough.

That is me and maybe you, when it comes to the latest Apple product or the latest electronic device.  I have a vague feeling all the "more" I crave has a downside: from mining rare earth elements, all the way to the third world land fill where the dead devices ultimately land.

Now a theatrical performance, "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" hits this troubling nail on the head according to a review in today's NY Times.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Second Coming or the World Series--Neither Yet

The crowd goes wild—all 46,000 plus.  Many have paid at least a day’s wage for their seat.  But few are sitting.  Most are standing, clapping and shouting.  Waving flags.  All are wearing and/ or carrying signs.

Have we found the ultimate Statesman who can thrill a crowd to this kind of frenzy?  Is it a mesmerizing religious leader who has drawn followers to leave their comfortable homes and gather together for a sacred event?  Is it the Second Coming?

Well, yes and no.  The venue: Busch Stadium.  The crowd: St. Louis Cardinal fans.  The event: the fifth game of the National League Championship Series. 

At the last Out of the game (the Series now will go on to Milwaukee for the best four out of seven) the noise becomes deafening.  I am afraid I have suffered permanent hearing loss.  And my vocal chords have sustained at least a temporary strain.  Because yes, I too have been screaming.

A crowd this size, no doubt, more politically and religiously diverse than any group gathered in our theaters, conventions centers or churches.  The stadium is filled with young and old, black and white, Hispanic and Asian.  Old and young.  Families with babies and small children in tow.  Singles in groups or alone.  Older couples, some with walkers and canes.  I sit next to a blind woman with a cane, on the Metro link light rail train after the game.  A particularly speedy way to and from the game.  The woman is bedecked in Cardinal finery

Granted St. Louis is a baseball town.  But if the Cardinals get into and win the World Series, I can’t imagine how the crowd will get any louder than tonight.

If we could harness this type of energy for the greater good of the nation, the human race, the planet there is nothing we couldn’t do.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Perfect Pair

Dorothy’s Idea of the Day:
I have a tip on what is sure to be the latest fashion trend: mismatched earrings.  They will be selling mismatched “pairs” in all the stores just as soon as the Christmas shopping season is into full swing. 

But, you can beat the rush by “pairing up” your own earrings. A long dangly one with a faux diamond stud; a bright and brassy earring with a genuine stone in a contrasting setting. The combinations are endless. 

And you don’t really have to buy new pairs. In fact, you can make your own pairs by breaking up the pairs you already own, or you can “match” the odd onesies you, like everyone else, have stashed here and there. You could start your holiday shopping early by “pairing" up some of those odd ones into clever combinations and assemble your own holiday presents.  

Another perfect opportunity this fashion trend delivers is for the ambivalent but fashion-conscious sports fan. You are rooting for one team, your spouse, best friend, or significant other is rooting for the opposition. Don a blue UK earring in the right ear, a red U of L earring in the left. You are set to go to any and all booster or tailgating events.  Just remember which side to turn to whom. Turn the other cheek and you will always be a winner.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

If Todd Snider Were a Dog

Todd Snider is to musicians what the Irish setter is to dog breeds.  Fun and free wheeling.

Todd is someone you sort of feel at home with referring to by his first name. A gifted songwriter, unpretentiously funny story-teller, with apparently unlimited enthusiasm and energy.  He half-shuffled on stage at Kentucky Country Day School Saturday night, wearing a floppy hayseed hat, a dark vest over a denim-colored shirt, rolled up at the sleeves, and half-tucked into over-sized baggy blue jeans.  The jeans rolled up at his bare feet just enough that he wouldn’t trip over them.  If he tried for the laid-back look he put a lot of effort into his appearance. My guess is he just got dressed and turned out that way. 

Over the next two hours, Todd sang, played guitar, harmonica, and piano, told long, very funny stories, stirring wild enthusiasm from his followers and charming the rest of the audience.

Like Josh Ritter, another very gifted singer/songwriter, Snider appears to genuinely enjoy performing.  And that type of enjoyment is contagious.  From the raucous, good-humored “Beer Run” Todd had the audience singing along, hooting and hollering all the way to the “Conservative, Christian, and Right Wing Republican.”  Something a tad ironic, yet perfect about the entire audience at the upscale, private, suburban school joining in on the gentle yet counter-culture lyrics Todd wrote and sang. 

Todd claimed he was not trying to send a message but wrote the words he did because “they rhymed.”  Yeah, sort of like letting your Irish setters run through your well-appointed house because they matched the d├ęcor.  You have to love it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Big Head" and Skunks

“Big Head Todd and the Monsters” opened for John Hiatt at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati last night.  We had come for Hiatt, the man with the sweet voice and poetic songwriting talent who has penned such classics as “That Thing Called Love”, Crossing Muddy Waters”, “Riding with the King”, “Slow Turning”.  Well the list could go on and on.  As could the list of successful musicians who have covered Hiatt’s music.  But hearing the original songwriter is a real treat, especially such an energetic performer with such a beautiful voice.

However the real surprise was the opening act, “Big Head Todd.” and the crowd that came to see him and his band.  My husband tells me Todd does indeed have a big head.  I couldn’t tell.  A very enthusiastic crowd stood, or should I say danced, near their seats during most of their hour and a half performance and “Big Head’” music was very danceable, with a strong beat and good guitar work.  I remained sitting during most of the performance but could not keep my toes from tapping.

The really interesting part was the crowd, a few of whom overlapped for both musical groups, but most of whom obviously had come for one or the other performance.  Both crowds were baby boomers for the most part.  And both crowds were mostly clad in folk-concert attire—denims and t-shirts.  Most distinctive about select portions of the “Big Head” crowd were their odoriferousness, if there is such a word.  And that, unfortunately is not in a good way, at least to my sensibilities.  Such as the gentleman next to us in clean denim but reeking of body odor.  

Or the two youngish women who had taken great care with their sparkly denim duds and heaped on the musky scent.  When the two ladies entered the venue you could smell the musk from across the lobby.  I said a silent “thank you” to whatever gods may be, when I saw the “skunk goddesses headed for the front of the auditorium, far, far away from our z row seats.  Often I lament being seated in the rear of a large auditorium where viewing is difficult, particularly when the crowd mostly stands.   But not last night.

 I don’t know if Todd enjoys “eau de skunk” but having a back row seat at this concert, similar to a “Blue Man Group” or ballet performance where you see and smell the performers fluids, was a real benefit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lost iWay of Life

Many folks no doubt are mourning the passing of Steve Jobs, calling him a genius and wizard.  With his elegance and vision he may even have been the Da Vinci of our time.  Have you seen the Da Vinci exhibit with the clever folding bridges, sleek carts and amazing inventions?  He was more than an artist. Though for the artists in the crowd it may be a sacrilege to compare the iPhone to the Mona Lisa.  

Like millions of others, I have an iPhone and have had one for several years.  I bought mine for $200 with a two year contract with AT&T (full disclosure, AT&T is the company that gobbled up my previous employer, BellSouth, thus allowing me to take an early retirement and waste my time and yours with, among other ventures, my writing).  

Less than a month after I paid $200, a new iPhone was released.  One that did a lot more for the same price as the iPhone I had just bought.  And the iPhone I had just bought was then reduced to $100. Talk about losing value when you drive it off the lot.

Recently, I also bought the Air Mac computer.  It cost more than double what net books of its size cost (it weighs less than two pounds).  But it is elegant and accomplished and finally meshes perfectly with my iPhone, something my old PC would never do.

I have started keeping a list of writing ideas as well as a “To Do” list on my iPhone.  When I travel I use my iPhone as a GPS, an alarm, a camera, a flashlight, and for email and text messages.  I also now keep my calendar, my contact list and my photos on my iPhone.  And on occasion I actually use it to make phone calls. The last is the only thing it is not all that good at.  

Kind of scary: if I lost my iPhone I would be totally in the dark, literally and figuratively.

In a few days the new iPhone 4S, will be released.  although it does not look outwardly all that different than my old, old, iPhone, I understand from my brief research that it has many improved features, including accepting voice commands on a scale reminiscent of Hal, the murderous computer, in the sci-fi classic movie “2001, A Space Odyssey.”

Steve Jobs and Apple have helped to turn a certain segment of the population into all-consuming creatures with a need for the latest i-Invention.  The need to go out and buy the latest and greatest, even if what we have is still quite serviceable. 

With my ownership of two i-Devices I have to admit I have been hooked by the elegant design and utility Steve Jobs created.  As much as the astronauts in 2001 were dependent on Hal.  The iPhone has become a nearly indispensable tool, or should I say crutch, in my daily life. 

But despite that, or maybe because of the hassle of transferring data and learning the new twists, I am not ready to go upgrade my current iPhone (which has barely any memory remaining nor the new special features) for the latest improved iPhone 4-S.  Not to mention the $200 for something I already have that still works quite well.

I am left with a couple of questions:
1) Would Da Vinci still be as famous if he had not been satisfied with the Mona Lisa and in a few years was out peddling the mLisa4?
2) Is the next Steve Jobs at a university or perhaps still in diapers? 

I’m not worried; he or she is out there somewhere.