Another Ruined Meal

Permit me to rant for a few minutes.

I just returned from what was supposed to be a nice, relaxing dinner out on a Friday night. It was anything BUT.

First off, for some reason unknown to me, everybody and his brother chose the same restaurant. After waiting for a table to be cleared, we sat down to find we were surrounded by families with little kids.

Kids who couldn’t sit still. Kids who hollered and tossed food on the floor. Kids whose parents thought they were oh-so-cute.

Then I went to the restroom to wash my hands and found the door locked.


This is a restroom with private stalls, not a one-toilet affair.

Who needs to lock the door when others could use the facilities and leave?

So we get our salads and try to eat amid all this confusion — people coming in and going out, busboys pushing cleanup carts down the aisles, loud talking, well, you get the idea.

A madhouse.

Just as our food arrives, a young dad at a table near us announces to everybody within earshot that the two kids with him have strep throat.

Strep throat, mind you.

Not a mere sore throat or cold.

Strep throat.

Now the interwebs say strep throat is contagious and caused by a bacteria. They also say people with strep throat need to be on antibiotics and should STAY HOME.

What part of that didn’t these idiots get??

Needless to say, my dinner was ruined, and we wasted good money for nothing, as I left most of my food untouched on the plate in an effort to get out of there FAST.

And the checkout guy dared to ask me how my dinner was.

Next time, I guess I’ll just stay home and eat kibbles with my Sheltie!

In Praise of Technology

I’ve been a Web Designer for going-on nine years now, and it never ceases to amaze me when I read statistics on worldwide yearly Internet usage.

A blog by the folks at Royal Pingdom says 47 million Web sites were added last year alone, bringing the total number of Web sites to 234 million. Doesn’t that just boggle your mind??

Compare it to 1997, when there were less than 500,000 Web sites around the world — oh, and Google, YouTube, Facebook, and the iPod didn’t even exist!

We’ve become so used to technology today that it’s hard to imagine our world without it.

We go on vacation, but take our laptops so we can check e-mail. We punch in our destinations on a GPS so we won’t get lost. We use “windshield time” stuck in traffic to call family or friends on our cell phones, and we wouldn’t think of setting a tee-time without checking the Internet for weather conditions.

As of September 2009, there were 1.73 billion Internet users worldwide; in addition, there were 126 million blogs on the Internet, 350 million people on Facebook,  30 billion photos uploaded to Facebook per year, and 90 trillion e-mails sent last year alone!

Now Apple has unveiled an iPad tablet computer, which I’m sure the company hopes will become the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Available beginning in March (for at least $499, depending on which version you get), the iPad comes with a touch screen and is designed so you can play games, read e-books, connect to the Internet, watch movies, and so on.

Wonder what the future will bring?

Computer shopping

My mom got the bright idea she needs a new computer.

Keep in mind, this is a woman who’d much prefer curling up in bed with a book — not a Kindle, not a Sony Reader — a traditional book, with (preferably!) hard cover and paper pages.

So she started browsing the ads for the best “deal.”

She looked in the stores, too, and talked to some of the sales associates, trying to act as if she knew what they meant when they spoke of RAM, hard drive, hardware, software, wireless routers, and all that.

Here’s the thing — she didn’t have a clue!

Nevertheless, Christmas money was burning a hole in her pocket, and she had to find a way to stop it. Purchasing a computer, she thought, would satisfy her need to spend AND give her something new to learn.

(Everybody knows you have to learn new stuff on a regular basis if you want to ward off Alzheimer’s!)

Finally, after much on again-off again debate, she settled on a PC.

Not a laptop, mind you. A desktop. You see, she already had a monitor she was comfortable with, as well as a keyboard and a mouse, so why not “recycle” them into new life?

We had the tech at the store remove the wireless adapter card from the ancient PC we were recycling, and it became my job to reinstall it on the new PC.

I’m not a computer tech, OK? I’m a Web Designer and while I’ve opened up several computers in my day, that’s not my specialty. Nevertheless, I opened ‘er up and tried to find the right slot for the adapter card.

Three phone calls to the tech later, I admit defeat.

So we hauled the entire thing back to the store, where I watched another tech slip in the card — right where I thought it should go! Reminded to install the corresponding program via CD, we returned home, where I looked — to no avail! — for the disc.

Turns out, mom had tossed it out in one of her cleaning frenzies.

Back to the store goes the PC — only this time, she decided she’d rather have a laptop after all!

You just can’t please some people.

Dog Obedience

Everybody knows one of the first things you’re supposed to teach a dog is how to come when called.

It’s hard to do that when you have a fenced backyard and never take your pooch outside the yard off-lead.

Sure, I realize the “Come here” lesson could save my dog’s life one day; at the very least, it could save me a lot of frustration and time.

But I failed to insist my Sheltie learn it, and I paid for it yesterday.

We’ve been having lots of wet weather — melting snows, freezing fogs, etc. — and the backyard, frankly, looks like a muddy mess. We normally have the spaces between our shrubs covered over with mulch, but mulch doesn’t last forever. You have to keep adding it, or you wind up with bare spots — that become wet dirt.

And wet dirt sticks to puppy paws and fur.

Yesterday, my Sheltie went outside and found all sorts of interesting things to do. He chased birds and squirrels, he raced from one corner to another, he danced through the melting snow, AND he refused to come in when I called him.

I watched as his fur became filthier and his white paws became a nasty shade of brown, yet there was nothing I could say or do to convince him to give up his fun.

Eventually, we lured him inside with a cookie. Then I began the lengthy process of throwing him in the bathtub, washing him down, shampooing, blow-drying, and brushing his fur.

None of which had been on my planning schedule, of course!

So I’ve done a bit of research on this “Come here” command and guess what? I’m as guilty as the next person for actually teaching my dog that “fun times” don’t include me!

Yikes, what have I done?

According to Perfect Paws, my Sheltie thinks:

1) I’m ruining his fun by calling him in, or

2) I’m going to punish him for turning into a mud-dog

Perfect Paws advises that I should never let my dog off-lead (and I suppose this includes his own backyard) unless and until he can reliably come when called.

I have my work cut out for me — he’s become lazy and spoiled, and I can just imagine him looking at me and saying, “You want me to work for a kibble, when all I have to do is look cute and somebody will feed me people-food?”

It promises to be a fun-filled experience.

Where would we be without friends?

One of my writing friends from Cincy suggested I try something called a neti (or netti) pot for my sinuses.

Having never heard of such a thing, I was skeptical. I mean, I use “ocean spray” or saline on a daily basis, as recommended by my doctor, but a neti pot?

Visions of the hookah pipe scene from “Star Wars” flashed before my mind, and I could imagine how everybody in my small town would carry tales if they heard I was into something like that!

But Kathy doesn’t seem the type for extreme weirdness; in fact, she’s a nurse. Never one to leap before looking, I did a bit of research on neti pots and learned nasal cleansing originated thousands of years ago in India.

Wow, I thought, they must be safe, or I’d have read of somebody dying after using one.

Unless there’s a mass neti pot conspiracy, which I doubt!

According to WebMD, research shows neti pots really do work to thin mucus from the nasal passages. And users all over the Web swear by them as a way to lessen congestion and sinus pain.

But how hard is it to learn how to use one?

It’s actually fairly simple. You mix some specially-made neti pot salt with lukewarm tap water. Then you place the end of the neti pot into your upper nostril, lean over your sink, and let the saline flow out the lower one. Repeat on the other side, turning your head in the opposite direction.

Hmm, I could do that.

But where could I find this “miraculous” contraption?

Back to the Internet, which listed a whole bunch of places, including some drug stores we have right here in town!

I went to my Walgreen’s, bought a neti pot (which looks kind of like Aladdin’s lamp), and gave it a try.

Wonder of wonders, it worked!

I can breathe from both nostrils again!


Remember, you’re never too old to learn a new trick — thanks, Kathy!

There are some days. . . .

Sometimes, you’re better off staying in bed.

I went this morning for my routine dental cleaning and checkup, and I learned I have a cavity.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m OCD about my teeth. I brush four times a day, floss every day, and see my dentist twice a year.

It’s a schedule indoctrinated in me when I was a kid, and I never really considered rebelling against it.

So it goes without saying that I’m thinking, “Me? A cavity? How can this be?”

Turns out, it was a spot my dentist has been watching for awhile. In all fairness, he did tell me he was watching it; I just never dreamed it would become a problem.

As if that weren’t enough, I finally broke down and scheduled a doctor appointment to check on my “cold.”

I spent half of last night tossing and turning, stumbling between my bed and the Lazy-boy recliner, trying to get some needed sleep — and failing.

With another weekend upon us, I figured I’d better have a professional take a look.

Wouldn’t you know I’ve got a sinus infection, not just a common cold.

I soo like being special!

I begged her NOT to give me antibiotics — the last time I was on them (2006), I was told to take two rounds of antibiotics and developed a condition called c.diff.

For those who don’t know what that is, two words — explosive diarrhea.

Never wanting to see that again, I’ve managed to steer clear of doctors, and I never insist on getting an antibiotic.

But this time, I’m afraid my sinus infection won’t clear up on its own, so I’m stuck with the drugs. I dread the side effects — nausea, etc. — but I’m able to look on the bright side.

At least I succeeded in getting her to only make me take them for 5 days, not the usual 10!

Time to Count my Blessings

I came back from Christmas vacation with the same cold I had last November — ugh!

So, instead of belaboring my runny nose, stuffy sinuses, coughing, and general misery, I’ve decided to put on my “Little Mary Sunshine” persona and count some of my blessings. Here goes:

1) My Job. I can do Web Design whether I’m sniffling or not. I can schedule client meetings for when I feel less contagious, take care of the drudgery (filing, etc.) that has piled up, and teach myself new tricks — all from the comfort of my sickbed.

2) The Internet. Who says a sick person can’t shop?? Not me!

3) My Novel. Since I’m up to my ears in revisions, I’m not having to come up with new scenes (for the most part), connect the dots between plot lines, make sure my timeline is reasonable, etc. Plus, being sick gives me an “excuse” for foggy-thinking.

4) Beading. Working with many-colored, many-shaped beads is relaxing and offers another creative outlet. And I get to wear or sell some of the stuff I make!

5) My Sheltie. Dogs love you unconditionally. I’m sure they notice when you’ve always got a Kleenex at your nose, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I think what matters to them is the lackluster look in your eyes when they bring you a ball to toss!

6) NoteTabs. This cool product by Avery lets you write, mark, and highlight, right on the tabs! They’re more substantial than “sticky notes,” and they come in more than two dozen styles and colors.

7) January Thaw. Today, it was above 40 degrees!

8) My Family & Friends. They bolster me up, make me laugh, and turn my world into a warmer, cozier place. Thanks, everybody!

9) My Bed. Pity the poor people in Haiti who are suffering through the aftermath of an earthquake. Everything looks like it’s in ruins; kind of reminds me of what the Gulf Coast looked like after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

10) Faith. God never gives us more than He and we can bear. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Shivering in the Deep Freeze

Anybody miss me??

I took a couple of weeks off so I could visit with family and friends in the supposedly warm South over the Christmas holidays. Was I wrong or what?

The temperatures were hanging in the 20-degree area and that, coupled with the notorious dampness that descends over big bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico, made the “feels like” temperature even chillier.

But I’ve got to hand it to them — at least, there was sunshine. Lots of sunshine. And somehow, that makes the cold more bearable.

If cold is ever bearable!

I tend to be a warm weather kind of person. Probably it hearkens to living in the South and Southwest for so many years. At any rate, I know what they say, “You can always put on clothing, but there’s only so much you can take off before it becomes indecent.”

Well, have you ever tried to work in a coat and mittens?? Have you?

Not so easy.

And even though you’re all bundled up, try shoveling snow when the thermometer reads “5 degrees” and a stiff North wind is slapping you in the face!

I take small comfort from the fact that most of the U.S. is now suffering what the Weather Channel calls an “Arctic Blast.” After all, this is winter and it’s supposed to be cold, right?


It’s NOT supposed to be this cold.

Florida is NOT supposed to get snow and ice, for Pete’s sake!

To top it all off, I’m having to haul My Favorite Domer back to South Bend in time for Spring Semester classes to start on Tuesday.

You’d think they’d consider postponing students’ return, in light of what can only be considered treacherous road conditions. You’d think they’d be worried about kids (and parents) traveling from across the country. You’d think they’d take a cue from local elementary and secondary school districts, who factor in “snow days” when they prepare their calendars.

Wrong, again.

I called to check if classes would resume on time. Oh, yes, they said. Absolutely.

So everybody listen up. Be careful out there! And if you see me creeping along the icy roads, steer a wide path around me.

I might be slow to get there, but I want to get there in one piece!