Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In and Out of Focus

I am now officially old. When I went to the eye doctor last week she suggested reading glasses. In addition to my regular bifocals.

I've worn glasses since 6th grade and am legally blind without them. But lately I've noticed a hard time reading. I thought it was the bifocals and the fact that I need to hold both the book and my head in this perfect alignment of planets in order to see the pages. But no, turns out I need reading glasses too.

To save money I just brought in a pair of old frames and asked them to put new lenses in. So today they were ready and I now have the problem of switching between two pairs of glasses. I refuse to become one of those crazy old ladies with pearl glasses holders and eyeglasses hanging down her bosom. But I'm not sure how to live with the two pairs.

I can read with my regular glasses, so I don't need to carry two pairs, luckily. But for long reads, I guess I'll just have to get used to putting on the new specs and taking off the old ones...and remembering where the bifocals are because I can't see very well with the reading glasses beyond a foot or so.

When I tried them on in the doctor's office my first thought was "they gave me the wrong glasses." Everything was fuzzy. But then the guy handed me a card with writing on it and the world became clear. Vivid. Wildly vivid. Suddenly words on a page were jumping out at me as if animated.

I predict a series of headaches while I get used to them. First off looking at a book is now like looking at something under a microscope -- it's so clear and perfect that it almost hurts the brain. Too much stimulation. Plus whenever I look away, I can't see a damned thing. But I think it'll be nice to go back to marathon, multi-hour reading sessions without feeling like I need a magnifying glass.

Yeah, I'm old. But it's better than the alternative.

In other news I went to the local Apple store and found out that it will cost over my limit to get my laptop fixed. Before going in I decided if it cost over "X" then I'd just bite the bullet and get a new one. So I'm getting a new one. Luckily I have many friends who work there who can get me their discount, so within the next week I expect to be a technocrat again. It's been lovely of Husband to let me use his, but I want my own back.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tonight's Playlist

Just home from KZSU and my weekly world music radio show. For those who are interested, tonight's playlist is now available on Zookeeper our online music database.

I was all over the map, as usual, tonight. Everything from Duke Ellington to the latest from Rachid Taha. From 101-year old ukulele master Bill Tapia, to fairly new on the scene artists such as Yuka Ito.

And remember you can always listen to my show live via the wonder of the Internet from 6-9 pm (Pacific) on Tuesday nights.
Patricia Neal

I was saddened today to learn of the death of actress Patricia Neal. In spite of her Academy Award for Hud she always struck me as sadly underused and under-recognized. She didn't have the typical leading lady beauty, although I think she was a gorgeous woman with an outrageously sexy voice. She's one of those actors that I wish had made more movies.

She had a tough life and her career was sadly shortened by a series of strokes. But in every movie she did she left a stamp of quality.

I loved her toughness and the underlying sweetness she seemed to bring to every role. In In Harm's Way she plays a military nurse dealing with personal problems and WWII. And she acts rings around poor John Wayne who plays John Wayne. She's so subtle and quiet in the face of his cowboy persona it's easy to overlook just how little work she's doing (in a good way). She manages to be strong enough that you believe her as a woman of force in a man's world, but you also see the compassion and soft heart. And in almost every role there's this little twinkle that seems to say she knows more than everyone else, but she's not telling.

I admire'd her talent and her courage. Coming back from one stroke is hard enough. She came back from three, learning how to walk and speak again and even pursuing acting roles in the face of setbacks that would have ended most careers. And in everything she did, even crappy guest appearances on Murder She Wrote she was shining.

Thank you, Ms. Neal, for your graciousness and talent. You will be missed.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Photo of the day: Coco

This is Coco, a member of our tiniest litter. Coco and her sister, Cream, weigh in at about half a pound and are doing quite nicely, thank you. The only photos I have on Husband's computer are the kitten pictures I took at the nursery today so I decided to share one with you. Coco is a total charmer and will be quite a handful once she's bigger. She's just starting to explore a bit and do more than just eat and sleep. Today she wandered all over the table, played with her first pipe cleaner, and managed to jump (not fall) onto my lap.
Techno'd Out
My laptop has died a sad and tragic end. It's been fading for a while, the screen occasionally turning itself into what looks like a barcode. Yesterday I tried (rather stupidly as it turns out) to update the software and it didn't come back. So don't expect much from me for a few days. I'm typing this on Husband's computer but I don't like to use his. We also have a desktop, but I'm spoiled and like to be curled up on the sofa while I'm working. Anyway, I'm not sure how much posting I'll be doing for a bit. I can't go cold turkey...and we can't afford a new laptop so I guess I'll have to get over my laziness and actually move into the office and dust off the desktop for a bit. And use Husband's when he's not busy.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

In Praise of Volunteering

As regular readers know, I volunteer at a local animal shelter. But it's not my first volunteer gig. I've had a history going back a while, mostly in AIDS organizations. But I've also volunteered at a local museum, doing writing/editing for a few non-profits, picking up trash, delivering meals, and various other positions.

In my case I am unemployed by choice. When I got fed up working for an international fruit-named high tech company, I knew I wanted a complete change. And here I am. Broke and loving it. Of course I couldn't do this if it weren't for the support (both emotional and monetary) of my wonderful Husband. But even when I was working full time I made sure to give back to the world. Sure back then I wrote more checks and logged fewer volunteer hours. But I suppose I've always wanted to be one of the good guys.

The one thing that never fails to amaze me is how hard people will work for no money. Those of us who work at the shelter do it because we love animals and we want to help them. Many of my fellow volunteers have been there for over ten years. This marks my third summer there and I can't imagine ever giving it up. The volunteers there do everything from the easy (playing with cats, taking dogs for a walk) to the hard (maintenance work, fence building, laundry, carrying 50 lb. sacks of food around). They give freely of their time and normally work longer and harder than they need to.

We occasionally get free cookies and leftover pizza, but other than that our only pay is in purrs and licks. And the satisfaction of seeing an animal find a home. And every time I get tired and think I've put in enough time, there's always someone there whose been there longer who makes me want to stay so I can be just like them.

Organizations like the one I work with wouldn't exist without volunteers. There's no way these groups could afford the salary to hire the workers necessary to do all we do. In this case, they certainly wouldn't be a no-kill shelter. Problem dogs and cats would most likely be euthanized rather than given special attention. So, in many ways, we save lives when we go in and do what we do.

I've often said this is the best paying non-paying job I've ever had. Sure I hate being broke. And I feel bad because I'd like Husband to have an easier life and would like someday to afford our own house. But right now I wouldn't change a thing. I don't need 20 pairs of shoes or a new car (OK, maybe I'll need one soon. Mine is 12 years old with 170,000 miles on it.) I'd rather do without than do without the care I can give to these critters in search of a home.

So to all of you who volunteer, thank you. You make miracles happen. You keep the world fed, cared for, and loved. You inspire me. And I want to be just like you when I grow up.
Photo of the day: HItting the Bricks

The walkway of a neighbor's house is brick. For some reason, I liked the pattern. Yeah, I'm weird.