june 25, 2014 Lightning Awareness Week

Dear Liz,                                     June 25th, 2014
It is warm and a bit muggy here. We’ve ordered some perfumed dusting powder for Kat (I kind of like the idea of her using it.) We keep alternating between having the front door open for the breeze and shutting it to keep the heat out. The pantry is cooled by having the window open, and we are having to get used to it not being that cool even then, but I still try to keep the door to the pantry shut to preserve whatever “coolth” we can. The problem is that when going out of the pantry, one almost always has one’s hands full, so shutting the door is hard. Finally a problem that is not “first world!”.
We are now no longer buying lettuce, our garden is making all we want, and spinach, chard, the broccoli is coming, and there are a couple tomato blossoms, but I swear the cucumbers are still on their second set of leaves! Maybe in September? Feh.
The wild flowers are looking better than the “tamed” ones. We still have some pansies, bless them!, but almost everything else is “between”. But the yard is full of white asters,  buttercups, campion, chickweed (it looks like babies breath), red clover,  and something pink I can’t identify- could be catchfly, could be cuckoo flower or ragged Robin, but it’s pretty. I’ve got a huge spray of the white wild roses scenting the kitchen. The white rose in the front is blooming too, but they don’t last well when I bring them inside, and Willow has gotten the first Rose of the year from “Miles”.

Sadly, I have actually been cold a few times this week, not because the weather was cool, but because I’m sleep deprived- although I’m trying to work on that. It’s the computer woes slowly resolving from last week. I have spent the week doing almost nothing but trying to renegotiate with the computer. (I did a blog post on it Monday.) It’s coming along. As with other problems, some bits are getting better, and some I’m just getting used to missing. Yesterday I finally got in touch with I-tunes and got my purchased music re-loaded. It turns out that when I set i-tunes up years ago, not having more than one email address, I gave them Willows for a “back up”, so every time I wrote them, they sent the reply to the back-up address. It seems Willow told me that i-tunes was sending her mail for me, but I didn’t connect that with my efforts to reach them. It didn’t even sink in at all. The tech guy said that most people simply have their back-up sent to their phones. Fine. I don’t, so I’m less than a “real person”. (Apparently a supreme court judge seems to think that cellphones are an ubiquitous appendage to humans as well. Well, who cares! I think they are a temporary phenomenon, and will become more accepting when they are more like Dick Tracy’s wristwatch phone, so there!)

Any records for the New Normal that aren’t on my website are gone, which means I’m pretty sure I had someone scheduled for next week, but don’t know who… (eeps!). Likewise, I am so pleased that I have put up a whole lot of the old letters, and some are on LiveJournal. Also Steve brought me up the ones he had stored in his computer again, Gods bless him! Most of my class descriptions should be on the website (not sure how good I am about putting new ones up).  I’ve lost my list of friends birthdays. Yes, I know I generally don’t get to sending cards, but my theory is that I will, or can if I have the birthday, and the physical mail address, which is also gone. (except for the ones in my christmas card list, which I printed out, if I can find it).  I’ve now managed to extract nearly 500 email addresses from my recovered mail. Sadly, they are nearly all from the period 2011-2012, so many are almost certainly no longer functional. I’ve had to download several programs again (I should check on skype for tonight’s show). I also STILL am not in LifeParanormal. They won’t recognize the password or maybe my user name (although I copied it from my password book), and while they say they’ll send me a link to reset, they don’t. I wonder if, like itunes, they send it somewhere else? I’ve lost my pictures. I’m having to reinstall bookmarks, although most of the ones I had are gone forever. By the time my mail was back, I had re-built my collection of “sig lines”. I have to admit I felt odd without them. I guess I don’t deal well with change, but we knew that!
Since Willow found the folder of back-up disks, I’ve got some photos, mostly from 2005-2007, and the ones I recaptured from old letters (and whatever’s on flickr and photobucket- haven’t had time to look there yet). Sadly, despite their having asked if I wanted to exclude duplicates, it’s now full of duplicates that I have to go through and look for physically one at a time. This is complicated by their “organizing” them into “albums” so I can only see the first of a group that was loaded together. I am sure that all these innovations seem like great ideas to the people who put them in, but so many of them just make my life harder. I try to remember that just having computers makes it possible for me to do a lot more than I otherwise would. Considering my ability to lose the hard copies of my records, God bless computers!
Let me tell you about the furshlugginer email. When setting it up again, the tech support guy offered two choices- get mail from now on, or get ALL the old stuff. He strongly advised “from now on”. The problem arises because you can’t get any new email until all the old email is downloaded into your computer. The tech support person also didn’t tell me that I could search backwards on the browser- probably because it is a pain, because it’s not really set up for it, especially when you have 83K in storage, but it’s possible. But rather than depend on everyone I might want to write (for example, people who get this letter), to send me updated emails when they saw public requests for them, I opted for getting the old mail, skimming it for addresses, and deleting it. This went fine for a while, about 300 per batch. But then it slowed to 200, 100, 50, and within a couple days to 1 or two at a time. I called again. They didn’t know why it slowed- maybe my computer was “too full”? I had 40K downloaded already. I started deleting, got it down to 20K, no improvement. Some of their tech support people seem pretty savvy, some seem to be random minimum wage hires with only a script to go on. I reset the computer to get mail every minute, but when you have another forty THOUSAND posts to collect, at about 1500 a day, it would take a month to get all of them in. Yesterday I gave up and changed it over to “get mail from now on”. If I want to keep searching the ones from the last year and a half, I’ll have to manually click back a thousand times. (Last year I’d unsubscribed from “almost everything”, and reduced from getting about 200 posts a day, to 100 a day, but all those spam items are still in there. TDS does NOT ever empty the trash.). First step, I sorted for the word “donate”, almost every post with that word in it was a spam requesting money. Then I took out all the ones from groups that send digests. I think I got rid of 20K with those two alone.
My forearm and wrist hurt from clicking so often for so long. I’m attempting to only do computer reclamation stuff between my usual activities, but it’s hard to look away from a train-wreck, especially when it’s your train, and you are trying to do salvage. On the night of the Solstice I actually stayed up all night by accident. I liken it to playing solitaire on line. There’s always another red 7 to put on a black 8. There’s always another block of stuff to throw out. As the computer reminded me “It’s 12 O’clock…”, “It’s 1 O’clock…”, “It’s 2 O’clock…”,  etc. I kept thinking “OK, last one!” then doing another. And I won’t say I didn’t get distracted by the content. I discovered a button I hadn’t noticed before that lets me save pictures into iphoto. Since the mail is mostly from 2011 it’s after what was saved in 2007. Any pictures recovered are precious! (BTW, I will here renew my requests for you to send me your physical address, your birthday, your phone number, and tell me if there’s a better email to use. I am worried about hitting send and seeing how many of these bounce.)

Well enough of that! Back to what we laughingly refer to as “real life”! I think I’d mentioned we’d put up thePre-pennsic Project calendar early this year to avoid a crunch at the end. I’m afraid nothing that was on it for this past week got done. (Heck, the kids have been cooking!) Yesterday I redistributed the stickies with the projects I’ve been ignoring across what’s left. Looking at that prompt, I realized I’ve lost the reference pictures for the portraits I’m supposed to deliver at the war. Sadly, I’ve also lost their address, so I can’t tell them until I see them! Well, we’ll see what I can do at the war!

Over the weekend our neighbors, the Wosniaks, had a wedding. We heard the banging of driving stakes to put up a big pavillion on Thursday, then Friday we woke to the vanilla scent of bug spray wafting over from their yard. They had come by to let us know about it, and I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for the computer crash, I’d have headed up to Maine to visit Liz. She offered to finish the tables for us, and that and avoiding the wedding music was really tempting. The music started around two, and was still going at midnight when I went to bed! It was the usual mix of music- even if they had a band for a few hours, most was recorded. The kids had their windows aimed across the street, and luckily liked most of it. I have no idea how late it lasted. Having only napped from about 5 to 8, I went right to sleep. When I woke my first thought was how relieved they must be to have it done! Big celebrations are lovely but they are SUCH a project!
Speaking of Projects, apparently the camp is going to need the back porch fixed, the dock rebuilt, and the building leveled this year. Oh the joys of homeownership. Thank goodness it’s a shared obligation! Liz is chasing down estimates for us, bless her! As I recall, the crib for the dock was built and filled in the 60s. A half century underwater would probably not be good for most wood.  Ah well- maybe we can spread these projects out a bit (probably not fixing the dock or leveling the building). dock long view

I don’t think I mentioned that Kat had had a hard time giving blood last week, and she wonders if it hit some “pressure point” or meridian because this weekend her wrist started hurting a LOT. She’s been wearing a brace and can’t do anything that requires rotating the wrist. We are verging on checking with a doctor even though such problems are notoriously difficult to diagnose. All of us are exhausted. The Palio was a big weekend, and we really haven’t had a lot of rest since then; and the stress goes without saying.

Not only have I not had much time to watch, I fear our DVD player is dying. For the last month or so, it’s even odds whether any disk we put in will play (and it may play when we try again later). Also, it seems that the disc drive on my computer isn’t working properly either. I SO don’t want to go visit the Apple store again, especially as I suspect that they might need to open it up, and that would cost money. Kat says we could just buy another external hard drive (other than the back-up, now happily installed), for less than a repair would cost. Still, I have watched a few things. I tried one episode of the TV show American Horror Story. I wasn’t impressed enough to bother with more. I was impressed (if depressed) by the movie The Book Thief. I’ll admit I first went for it because the narrator is Death, and he reminds me of Death from Diskworld, quite fair, and rather kind within the parameters of his work. As it must be for a great book, the visuals enhanced the story. The pallet of the visuals was amazing, it appeared to be nearly black and white except for the red Nazi flags, and occasional other bits of color. The performances were wonderful, and I loved that they showed how people could go along with the building horror simply to protect those they loved. This, I felt, raised it above Rabbit-Proof Fence, because there was something beyond the depressing story, a bit of that “triumph of the human spirit” that’s so often mentioned with depressing stories. I also watched a “comedy” called The Incredible Burt Wonderstone  which was pretty much a waste of time. I really don’t like much with Steve Carell, although I usually like Steve Buscemi. Jim Carrey’s character was initially attractive, although he got less and less so as the movie continued. The best part was Alan Arkin as the old magician. It’s your basic “jerk learns to be a human being” story, with special effects. (I liked the dove coming out of the salt shaker.) And I totally agree that just doing something gross and dangerous is NOT theater. Do something that clearly takes skill and looks impossible, whether on stage, or in a circus, or wherever.
I did finish Skin Game (when I woke up Saturday). I was very satisfied with Butcher’s latest (although I can’t pick out one of the Dresden books I didn’t like). They’re all good. The problem is, that as stated in The Last Action Hero, it seems that the writer is simply looking for something worse to do to the poor hero in each sequel. After 15 books, this gradual trend of problems get incrementally worse has led to his having some really bad days! Since he’s a good guy, my heart goes out to him. This is worse because I do tend to believe that anything believed in by a lot of people becomes real in some dimension. Thus, somewhere there is a Middle Earth, a Hogwarts, a Disc World (clearly somewhere that physics as we know it is radically different). It seems very hard on Harry to have him challenged so severely for our amusement. Maybe if it inspires us to be a bit better, a bit more true to our ideals when they’re under pressure, he’d find it worth it. “A little bit of Harry in the night…” I would love for him to simply be able to get some of the comfort and joy that his efforts should have earned him.
I also finished the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Magic, I’ve been reading that one page a day for several months. It’s good, although I am not sure I learned anything really new. Now I’m doing that with The Making of England, a museum catalogue on Anglo-Saxon art, getting the details on two or four artifacts a day. I’m hoping to pick up enough about the Salin style 2 to come up with good authentic designs to trim my garb.
Other than that I’ve been reading books for my summer SCA workshops: Alfred the Great: war, kingship and culture in Anglo-Saxon England, Alfred the Great and the Saxons, Studies in Anglo-Saxon Institutions, Æthylstan: first king of England, Barbarian Tides (the migration age and the later Roman Empire), AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY OF BRITAIN: THE ANGLO-SAXON AGE, Anglo-Saxon Pottery and the Settlement of England, The Earliest English Kings, The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons, and of course, other books from my not inconsiderable Anglo-Saxon library. Given my focus on my own time period, I am learning a whole lot of new things about the kings from later periods. I have enough contrarian in me to have been ready to dislike Alfred because he’s the only “the Great”, and because of his seemingly excessive piety. He had in common with Gildas three centuries earlier to feel that his kingdom was being invaded because the people weren’t being sufficiently devout. And, to a certain extent, he was a “youngest child”, so I rather expected him to be somewhat spoiled, expects other people to do things for him. But at the same time, he was a problem solver; probably because of having watched each of his elders die in the job, when he got it dumped on him, even if he did “feel that everyone else was more capable”, he figured out how to find workable solutions. I am somewhat less impressed by the “First” King of England, although somewhat bemused by people trying to figure out if he was gay because he never got married. Seems to me that he may have been like Queen Elizabeth who chose to not marry to keep herself in a position of power. Or maybe, as the eldest of 13 children (2 of whom were kings after him), he thought there were enough Æthlings around. I’m actually more amused by the ones who actually were caught misbehaving (they say that Eadwig was caught “covorting with Ælfgifu and her mother ” when he was supposed to be at his coronation feast. He was, I think, 17 at the time, and later married Ælfgifu, but Dunstan annulled her.  He could hold a grudge. It will not be at all hard to come up with an hour’s worth of good stories about these fellows!
I have cut out, and now have to finish putting together- and adorn- two new outfits for Pennsic. I’ve got one more I want to do as well. We’re sorting the trim bin. We should have done that before Midsummers. I’ve always got a long list of things I want to do, but know I don’t have enough time for all of it.
Signing off- time for a quick supper before tonights show: Mike Smith on the New Alexandrian Library. I love that this coalition of pagans are building a library. We may not have much in common, but a love of knowledge is certainly included! Sorry I haven’t got much by way of pictures, but I need to get a new card reader too.

P. S. Oh, and if you are getting this and didn’t want to, let me know. If you know someone who used to get it and I forgot to send it to, let them know I’ve just lost their contact information. All I could get out of the old email was some addresses. I’m sure I have lost lots of real addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, as well as current emails. Help is urgently needed. Thank you!

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Steve Jobs

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