Here We Go Again

That line from the Mary Chapin Carpenter song comes to mind: “And we dwell in possibilities on New Year’s Day.”

I got my new glasses Friday. I should have known better than to get round lenses, never mind that I like the way they look. The frames had come slightly loose and the lenses had turned in the frame. When I put them on, my center vision was fine, but when I tried to read, the bifocal part was not where it was supposed to be. They had to be adjusted. I had a pair of glasses with round lenses before, except they were lined bifocals and easy to readjust if the frames got loose and the lenses got cattywompus. I even got a little screw driver just to tighten the frame (still have it, as it happens). Worth the aggravation, though, not to have to fool with those stupid bifocal lines that drive me nuts.

Overall, though, I like them. They’re gold frames and very slender, light, and unobtrusive. They also have the little “feet” on the nose piece instead of resting directly on your nose. I got the special lightweight lenses and I noticed the difference right away. Lighter frames and lighter lenses. The bridge of my nose is much happier. I’m about 20/450 in my right eye (What chart?), and Coke bottle bottoms are hard to come by anymore. I also got the nonglare coating and the kind that turn dark in the sun. (For what I paid for the little darlings, they ought to sing opera, too.) I have yet to get a pair of glasses that fully corrects my astigmatism, though. I still see a slight double image on print when I try to read with both eyes — which is why I read with my right eye and without my glasses. I’m about 20/45 in my left eye, and between the two of them, I can see perfectly well to do everything but drive. I can read street signs at a fair distance again, though, which is a big plus.

I’m going to try to get a handiwork group started — open to knitters, crocheters, tatters, embroiderers, hand quilters, etc. I’ll have to put a flyer up in the elevators and by the mailboxes in both buildings to gauge the interest, and to see when and where people want to meet. In the meantime, there’s still a knitting group going at the library that has been infiltrated by crocheters and my friend KC has been urging me to attend.

This was my Christmas present from me to me. They’re copper wire around fossil ammonite shells. Found them on Etsy. The cool thing is that I can wear the earrings with both necklaces. I need to get a copper chain for the one necklace as the gold chain doesn’t match. Yes, I have stoppers for the earrings. Better yet, I got the lot on sale almost 50% off. I’m such a magpie. The necklace on the left is by a Ukrainian artist, Lena Sinelnik. I’ve bought several of her beautiful pieces.

In the knitting news, I finally got around to winding the yarn I got for the Scots bonnets and am in the process of swatching. They’re Aran weight, 100% wool yarns and the pattern calls for US 7 (4.5 mm) needles. Since the bonnets are made from the center out and top down, I’ll have to start them on double pointed needles. However, I’ve got to knit the swatch, measure it, felt it, then remeasure it so I can calculate the percentage of shrinkage and calculate how “too big” to make it. Stay tuned.

I follow a comic called XKCD, which is a collection of “one off” cartoons by Randall Munroe which have to do with various STEM and computer-related topics. I found this one particularly hilarious. Of course, in order to “get” it, you do have to know what a Lagrange point is . . .

Because Prednisone

I periodically like to point out odd quirks in the evolution of our native tongue, Ameriglish. Back when people studied English grammar instead of “Language Arts” in school, they were taught that there is this grammar thing called “a state of being.” It is an either/or concept. You are either in that state of being or not; when a thing changes from being to not being (or vice versa), you “become.” “Extinction” is a case in point. A new example of this I have run across is “pregnancy.”

Gratuitous picture of a faun on a unicorn from The Day of the Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

I mention this because sometime between when I attended school during the previous century (The 1960’s. Yeah. That was last century.) and the current time, “extinction” mysteriously transmogrified from a state of being to a destination. Nowadays things go extinct. T. rex has left the building. And lately, I’ve noticed that pregnancy has undergone a similar and mystifying change to I’m not sure what. Nowadays women don’t become pregnant, they fall pregnant — Is that like if a woman doesn’t fall off the bed while having sex, she won’t become pregnant!? (Or, what is much worse, is pregnancy now like falling from a higher state to a lower state, like a fall from grace?!?!)

And prepositions. Prepositions are being quietly murdered and replaced by imposters! Things used to happen “by” accident. But “by” was disappeared and quietly replaced by “on” and now we are supposed to just accept that now things happen “on” accident. No. Just, no.

These few examples are just the tip of the iceberg, folks (another of those pesky non-gendered collective nouns!) A great iceberg of a conspiracy between the American public education system and those Millennials to corrupt our mother tongue.

I mean, Millennials are always being problematic. They even chose a problematic name. First off, it’s a booger to spell. (Aren’t two “L’s” and two “N’s” a bit too, Snowflake?) (And even when you spell it right, it looks wrong.)

Gratuitous picture of a faun on a unicorn from The Day of the Unicorn ©2022 by Manuel Arenas

To be fair, though, one notable contribution to the language the Twitter-pated have made is the “because (noun)” construction. It’s a kind of linguistic shorthand for condensing a long convoluted explanation or long list of reasons or justifications into a very brief synopsis (a Tweet is limited to 140 characters), to save space, time, and/or character count, and not occasionally to level up the irony or sarcasm. Whence the title of this post. This is my brain on a whacking great dose (100 mg) of prednisone. Going 90 mph(145 kph) in second gear. For, literally, days.

(Left turn into a brick wall at race-track speeds segue) So today my 5 tabs of prednisone was the chaser to a bag of rrrrRuffles Cheese and Sour Cream potato chips (rrrrRuffles have rrrrridges!). Cushioning my tum with food first seemed like a good idea at the time — right up until it got to the part about available food choices. (Knocking back a handful of prednisone on an empty stomach is like that first part of the roller coaster ride where the chain is ratcheting you up that really high, really steep hill, and you know you’re not getting off until the ride’s over.)

(No segue at all) In previous posts, I have mentioned the eclectic assortment of gratuitous sound effects my apartment is subjected to at inopportune moments, like the morning jog of the garbage cans to the dumpsters and back. Since I live near the Marsha Sharp raceway, on weekends, we typically have scattered motorcycle attempts at land speed records, particularly in the early morning hours, with a chance of low-flying helicopters. (I live within four miles of three tertiary care hospitals and a level I trauma center, three of which have helipads.) But this Saturday, at about 7:00 a.m., we had a rude awakening. The cover spontaneously fell off the (not so) mini-split in the front room beside my desk.

It made a noise like a giant hubcap being tossed like a Frisbee onto concrete. I was sound asleep at the time, but I am proud to say I calmly peeled myself off the ceiling, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Unflappableness. I haz it.

Somewhat later, at a more seemly hour (11:00 o’clock), I got on the phone to the front desk and called in a maintenance strike, and today while I was having fun with needles and plastic tubing at JACC, Care Bud the Maintenance Man put humpty-bumpty back together again. I am curious to know what the lady in the apartment below thought had caused that noise. It was so loud that I’m a little surprised that Security didn’t shortly thereafter come knocking on my door to politely inquire if my mobility issues were experiencing technical difficulties. (Or if I’d lost the stone out of my diamond ring or something . . .)

Was texting with my BFF Sunday, and humorously remarked about my problems with knitting with a long circular needle while watching YouTube videos on my tablet while in bed, and having video interrupted because the needle cable hit the tablet and started some random video playing. She texted back that the transmission on her car had self-destructed in the middle of the drive home from work, she had to have it towed, and now she is damned if she does have to spend big buck$ to get the tran$mi$$ion replaced and damned if she doesn’t have a ride to work. She only just recently found out (a) she’d had a heart attack at some point, probably last January when she blacked out and did a standing face plant in a parking lot, and (b) that she has foot drop because of nerve damage from the ankle she broke years ago, and has tripped and fallen badly several times since then because of it (She is a self-deprecator because issues, so she just assumed she was clumsy and was tripping over her own feet.) (Speaking of heroes preemptively beating the crap out of themselves . . .) Giving emotional support over the phone is about as easy as giving technical support over the phone and, unfortunately, just about as effective. Remote hugs are rubbish. She lives northwest of Houston, and there’s like 600 miles of TX between us. My arms aren’t that long. Sigh.

Oh. And because I am bouncing off the walls at the moment, this non sequitur is for the orthographically challenged: If the spell check/auto-correct function highlights as misspelled a word that is a simple plural or has a suffix or prefix, the root word may not actually be misspelled. Insert a space between the word and the simple plural (simple plurals add -s or -es to form the plural) or between the suffix (-ly, -ment, -ness, -able, etc.) or prefix (un-, dis-, re-, in-, non-, etc.) and the root word. If the word is still highlighted as misspelled, then it probably is. Spell checker/auto-correct glossaries take up RAM. Therefore many such glossaries only include the most commonly used prefixed and/or suffixed forms of the most commonly used words, and the variant prefix/suffix/plural forms (the exceptions to the basic spelling rules), and do not include the simple plurals. (duh!) E.g., In the paragraphs above, spell check recognized “millennial” as spelled correctly, but not “millennials” and recognized “flappable” and “unflappable” as spelled correctly, but not “unflappableness.”

Stopping now. Must correct misspelled name in the previous post.

* Taking a "bolus dose" of medication is like chugging multiple shots of alcohol all at once.  Only with alcohol, the articulated lorry hits you head-on at 90 mph(145 kph); with prednisone, the eighteen-wheeler only grazes you close enough to snag your suspenders(braces**) on the wing mirror.  At 90 mph(145 kph). 
**this is a British English inclusive and metric-inclusive blog. Bite me. 

Well, Pshaw!

After this round of chemotherapy on Wednesday and the nonstarting of my car, the shot on Thursday, and ricocheting off the walls from Wednesday afternoon til half past Friday, when I finally crashed and burned Friday afternoon, I went from being too strung out on steroids to do anything to too asleep to move. Finally, today I had found most of it and managed to get enough of it back together to try to do something about my car. Battery Joe’s could put a new battery in if I could get the car to their place, but not today. The guys I talked to at Battery Joe’s and Gene Messer Toyota both cautioned that it might not be the battery that was bad, but the alternator or the starter, in which case a new battery would do me little good — and it was a valid point. I also called Messer’s “recommended” towing service to find out that if jumping the battery proved bootless, it would cost me $80 to have them tow the car to the dealership to get it fixed.

So, noonish, I girdled my loins in my big girl panties and called Security to get them to bring their car booster thingie and meet me at the car. While I was waiting for them to come, just for s**ts and giggles, I put the key in the ignition and turned it. The car kind of cleared its throat and started! Several times, in fact. Well, hmmmm! I decided I’d better take it to the dealership where they could check it over, in case something was loose or a belt was thrown, or my “wars” were crossed. I wended my way clear down 19th Street, under the Loop, and out to Gene Messer Toyota, drove it into the service place and sat there in the car for at least five minutes waiting for one of the people sitting around noodling on their computers or talking on their phones to realize they had a customer and come see what I wanted. Finally, I got out of the car and picked one at random and told him I wanted my car looked at and why. (You’d think they’d at least be glad to get my business . . .) We figured out who I was (I bought the car from them, after all), and I told my tale of woe.

After about an hour and a half, the guy comes into the waiting room and says my battery flunked the test, and my cabin filter was dirty (gasp!). It took them another hour and a half to install a new battery and change the cabin filter. That’ll be $188, thank you very much. (I shudder to think what they would have charged if there had actually been something wrong with the car, like the starter was broken or the alternator was shot, or the gazinta had come out or something.) Anyway, the Greyola is fixed now.

Messer Toyota is even farther down the same street than the library branch is where the knitting group meets. Seeing as how I am very familiar with the local landmarks in the vicinity, I stopped at the Arby’s for a Gyro and curly fries, as any normal person would under the circumstances. I was even on the right side of the street to just swoop right into the drive-through lane.

Just as a cultural side note, Arby’s (We have the meat!) sandwiches come with a choice of sauces: Arby’s sauce, or a sauce which contains (among other things) horseradish, which is called, oddly enough, Horsey Sauce. When you get your food order, they ask you, “Do you want Arby or Horsey with that?” — and then put packets of your choice in the sack with your order. I always go for the Horsey.

At the end of March, the maintenance guy reset one of the grab bars in the bathroom because it was coming loose from the wall. A couple of weeks ago, a different guy came to plaster the holes in the wall from where the grab bar used to be. He was supposed to come back and paint the wall after the plaster dried, but never showed. Today, as I was coming up the hall, my Arby’s goodies clutched in my little hot hand, there was a painter at the end of the wal. He was touching up the paint on my door frame and on my door. It was the same guy who was supposed to paint the bathroom. He said he hadn’t come back to paint the bathroom wall because he’d been in the hospital. He’s coming back to paint the bathroom wall tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Homonyms are two words pronounced the same, but which are spelled differently and have different meanings, like “meet” and “meat.” I have long noticed that, even though I know which is which, as I’m typing along, now and again, I would type the wrong one. I’d meat friends who would introduce me to there friends, etc. In rereading the previous paragraph I noted that the guy had come to plaster the wholes in the wall . . . I’ve noticed this has been happening more and more frequently of late. Chemo brain strikes again.

Well, I’ve eaten my Gyro (brought to us by Greek immigrants, and pronounced “Hero”) and my curly fries. Now I’m going to kick back and watch some Philomena Cunk videos from the BBC. Her malapropisms and ‘splanations are just brilliant. Some of her topical humor sails right by me because I don’t have the cultural context to “get” it, but the rest of it is hilarious.

English How She Is Spoke

A living language is a dynamic language. It changes and evolves over time to better fit (and boldly go!) the changing and evolving milieu of its speakers. New inventions and concepts need names so that they can be talked about. (Insert video clip of the Dowager Countess of Grantham ingenuously asking, “What is a ‘weekend’?” here) Words also drop out of common usage because people don’t need to talk about those things anymore for whatever reason. (That’s what makes Shakespeare so difficult. Everyday life has changed rather substantially between his time and ours, and many of the words that described everyday life at the turn of the 17th century have dropped out of “common knowledge” over the intervening 400+ years.) (Ask a Millennial why you refer to ending a phone call as “hanging up.” or what “Betamax” is)

One way we make new words for new things is to combine words in new ways (which English inherited from its Germanic roots), like “hatchback” and “skateboard.” “History bounding” describes the practice of recreating and adapting garments from a particular historical period to make them part of your everyday wardrobe. CosTubers (Costume+YouTube) have whole channels devoted to the practice. This is not to be confused with “Cosplay,” (costume+play), which is the hobby of recreating the costume of a character in film, television or print to wear for fun, or “-core” where a person incorporates aspects of their “core interest” into their daily life (cottagecore, medievalcore, bardcore, etc.). We now have “spheres” or the concepts, practices, and participants to do with a particular interest or activity (the blogsphere, the Twittersphere), and “-verses” — the “fictional universe” in which a particular film, book, or TV series is set (the Potterverse, the Duneverse, the Whoniverse, etc.)

The meanings of words can change over time. A case in point is the word “terrific,” which literally means “causing terror.” It has acquired the additional meanings of “great size, amount or intensity,” and is now used as an exclamation of approval. Terrific! One has only to listen to a Millennial or GenZ to appreciate that the words “sick” and “stupid” have also acquired additional meanings beyond the literal, as has the word “awesome.” (If a Millennial describes your child as “stupid cute,” that is a high compliment.) In addition to its literal meaning, “gnarly” has acquired two other meanings that are exact opposites: awesome and excellent versus gruesome and unpleasant.

Words become streamlined, like “app” (from “application”) and “phone” (from “telephone”). A “fanatic” has been a “fan” for quite a while, but now they congregate at “cons” (from “convention”), buy “merch” (“merchandise”) and there is typically cosplay involved. “High resolution” becomes “hi res” and “low fidelity” becomes “lo fi.” Some phrases get stripped right down to acronyms. “By the way,” becomes BTW, “laugh out loud” becomes LOL, and “in my humble opinion” becomes IMHO. We used to have a US President; now we have a POTUS.

How we use words changes, too. Not so long ago, “extinction” was a state of being. The dinosaurs became extinct. They were no more. Now it’s a destination (“the point of no return”) as more and more species go extinct. We’re doers now. Scientist do science. Mathematicians don’t analyse things mathematically anymore, they do math to it. Pregnancy went from a state of being (you either are or you aren’t) — “she became pregnant,” to something you caught like a disease — “she got pregnant” to the result of encountering a trip hazard — “she fell pregnant.” We used to “set foot” (A virgin forest is where the hand of Man has never set foot.) Now we “step foot” — which has a certain logic to it, I suppose, but not quite the same ring.

Mysteries and No Wonders

Caught a glimpse of something shiny on the carpet. Found this on the floor beside my dining table. No idea what it is or where it came from. My best guess is that somebody lost it, and it was on it’s way to Plainview (where all lost things go to be found) and it overshot the runway. . .

I had just woken up when my brain broadsided me with this scene set in a story in progress. Didn’t dare wait for the desktop to boot up. Just grabbed a piece of paper out of the printer and a bp pen to put it someplace where I could find it again. No wonder word processing is so much better than writing in longhand.

Thinky Thoughts on Writing Knitting Patterns

I really like how the Sweet Irene shawl turned out. I like the shape, the drape, the thickness of the fabric that sock yarn on a US6 (4.0 mm) produces, and the lace borders.

I had seen the Paris Toujours pattern by Isabell Kraemer, gotten it, and started it in this Premier Serenity Sock Yarn (colorway Violas). But it’s a variegated yarn with a relatively short color repeat and that yarn with that pattern just did not spark joy. So, I frogged it and went with Berroco’s Modern Cotton DK yarn in a solid color (blue) instead and like it much better.

But I kept thinking about that poor Premier Serenity Sock yarn, its colorway discontinued, its hopes of being something dashed, languishing all forlorn and alone in stash and I decided to write another pattern for it based on the Sweet Irene shawl. For starters, I wanted to modify the lace borders to incorporate that nifty new sl1 wyif (slip 1 with yarn in front) detail I had learned from the Paris Toujours pattern, and I liked the fabric that the seed stitch produces on the Short, Sweet and Nubby shawl and wanted to use that instead of garter stitch in the body of the shawl.

I learned on Short, Sweet and Nubby that the key to making seed stitch WOL-proof was to work it over an uneven number of stitches. That way you don’t have to keep track of whether you started the previous row with a knit or a purl. You can start every row with the same stitch (p1 in this case) and it automatically comes out right. So there would need to be an uneven number of stitches in the body of the new pattern.

The Sweet Irene shawl has a short (2-row) pattern repeat, which is easy to memorize, with the two different border patterns worked on alternating rows. Both border patterns are worked over the same number of stitches (the last 6 stitches of every row), which again makes the pattern easy to memorize. I wanted to carry that simplicity over into the new pattern.

In the Sweet Irene shawl, the increases were all on one side of the work (above left), giving it an asymmetrical shape, which I liked. I wanted the new shawl to have the same shape. On Sweet Irene, the lace border with the increases is worked: (kfb x3), p1, ssk. Those three kfb’s give you an increase of +3 stitches. The ssk is a decrease (-1). +3 -1 equals a net increase of +2 stitches every other row. The sl1 wyif detail is worked over 2 stitches, so I’d have to add stitches for that. But that would make the increase border worked over 8 stitches, and I don’t like the number 8. By eliminating the p1, I could get it down to 7 stitches: (kfb x3), ssk, sl1 wyif, k1. OK. Got that bit.

To get that asymmetrical shape, the other lace border (above right) needed to have a net increase of 0. This means the increases and decreases have to exactly cancel each other out. That border was worked: kfb, yo, k2tog, p1, ssk. (You have increases of +1 from the kfb and +1 from the yo, and a decrease of -1 from the k2tog and -1 from the ssk, for a net increase of 0.) But again, adding the two stitches for the sl1 wyif edging ups the number of stitches to 8. I fiddled and finagled and finally got it down to 7 stitches: kfb, yo, sssk, k1, sliwyif, k1. Because I left out the ssk, I changed the k2tog to an sssk (slip 3 stitches and knit them together through the back loop) to get rid of that extra stitch and get the net increase back to 0. Ok. Got that bit.

What took me the lion’s share of the 8+ hours (plus a good deal of swearing and frogging) that it took to get the pattern to the final version was working out how to get from “cast on n stitches” to the 17 stitches it takes to establish the pattern (7 stitches for the left border plus an odd number (3) of stitches for the seed stitch body, plus 7 stitches for the right border). That row and the row that works the edging on the other side are the “rows x and y” that you repeat until the piece is the size you want. The starting point is not quite as curly as Sweet Irene’s but judging by what I’ve done so far, Waves on a Wine Dark Sea is going to be another winner.

Again, I’ll be able to carry that right border around the corner and use it as a knitted on border to finish off the long edge of the shawl by changing the kfb to k2fb. And, this point is going to have a tassel.

Oops! I Did It Again!

Wrote another shawl pattern based on the Sweet Irene shawl pattern, but incorporating that nifty edge thing from the Paris Toujours shawl by Isabell Kraemer. Only took about 8 hours and about 15 false starts to get the numbers to come out right. (I have a “renmant” ball of scrap yarn I use for pattern testing. When the end of it gets too frayed from being frogged and reknit too many times, I just cut it off and throw it away. Once I’ve got the pattern how I like it, I switch to the yarn I intend to use for it.)

That poor variegated mulberry sock yarn was so disappointed when I frogged out the Paris Toujours start I did using it, and I felt so sorry for it. (And if you believe that, I can get you a great deal on this low-mileage, one-owner bridge in New York . . .). Anyway, I’m giving the new pattern a real artsy-fartsy name with a classical Greek reference — “Waves in a Wine Dark Sea”. It has that nifty edge detail on both sides, not just on the one side like the Paris Toujours

I’m moving right along on the Short, Sweet and Nubby shawl. I’ve decided to put a “self” triple knotted fringe on each end. I have two more regular pull skeins of that yarn, as well as a “super skein,”so I ought to have plenty of yarn for it

I think that kind of fring will look nice on it. I’ll have to find something of appropriate diameter to knot the fringe around to insure all the knots are uniform. That’ll be a fun project when I get to that point.

Today was one of those days when I wish I had magical powers like Samantha on “Bewitched.” Just wriggle my nose, bwika-bwika-bwika! and have it all done.

While I was at the computer working on the above shawl pattern, I looked over at my clock and the clock’s thermometer showed it was 82 F (27.7 C) in my office. Shortly after that, the AC came on, which means it was 80 F (26.6 C) in the hallway by the AC thermostat. I’ve already got one of my pedestal fans set to blow across my bed. Guess I’ll have to go get one of the other ones out and set it to blow across the chair at my computer desk. Stand by for electric bills that are higher than giraffe’s ears again. At least we made it to May before we started to get consistently hot weather.

Well., I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Although all I’ve done all day was sit and knit, my poor little grey cells have gotten quite a workout.

Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone.

Yes, I’m having another “ooooh, shiny!” moment, but what a way to start a bittersweet, socially-distanced Tuesday . . .

There is a reason why the music of camel cultures is rhythmically different than the music of horse cultures.  (The music of Spain is a blend of the two cultures.)  Horses walk by moving the hind foot that is diagonal to the front foot that just stepped — left front, right hind, right front, left hind.  This gait produces a steady 1-2-3-4 beat = 4/4 time.  It meshes seamlessly with the 1-2-1-2 = 2/4 time of a person walking.  You hear this rhythmic pattern all through the music of Western culture.  But there are three animals that have a unique walking gait — they walk to the beat of a different drum, if you will.  The front and back legs on the same side move instead of on the diagonal — right rear, right front, left rear, left front.  Those three animals are the giraffe, the cat*, and — the camel.

Compare the rhythm of the horse:

with the rhythm of the camel:

Horses rock with a front to back motion as they walk (just like a rocking horse); camels sway with a side to side motion as they walk — riding a camel for the first time actually makes some people seasick!  But listen to the sway in the deep drum beat.

Compare it to that good-ol’ Human two-step:

*Remember that Henry Mancini Pink Panther theme?  That da-dum da-dum figure that keeps repeating throughout --  It's the rhythm  that a cat's feet would make if you could hear their silent tread.

Random Bounces Off The Wall

OK.  Microwave controls vs. food package instructions.  If you cook something in the microwave for 1 minute, the microwave timer counts down from 60. So, if the food package says to cook something for, say, 4-1/2 minutes, do you set the timer for 4.50 (half a minute = 0.50 minute) or 4.30 (half of 1 minute (60 seconds) = 30 seconds)?  Somebody in the food industry (or the microwave industry, not sure which) has really dropped the ball here.  You’d think they’d put the microwave times on the package directions the way you should punch them in on the microwave controls, for crying out loud!

Had to share this because priceless.



Wish I Was There

As long-time readers of this blog will know, I have a “double barreled” setup — a desktop PC with two 21-inch monitor screens.

Let me digress:  I was a medical transcriptionist (typing reports dictated by doctors for hospital medical records) for nearly 30 years before I hung up my foot pedal.  I worked “in-house” for the first six of those years — went to the hospital to a room in medical records that had a large computerized dictation machine that was hooked to word processors and a pair of printers.  I worked from 2 pm to 10 pm, put on makeup, dressed professionally, packed a lunch, drove to and from work, etc.  But then, entrepreneurs took advantage of these large computerized dictation machines to set up companies with server farms that could connect through the phone lines to serve hospitals all over the country.  It also meant that they could hire people all over the country to connect to the server farms over the phone lines and work from home to type up the dictation and send it back to whichever hospital they were working for at the time.  For most of my working life (until the advent of DSL), I had two home phone lines and my computer had its own phone.

This was back in the day when the internet still went SKWEE SQUAW tweedle-deedle-deedle.  For the vast majority of my working life, I worked from my back bedroom (tough commute!), with kitties sleeping either on or by me, from 9 pm at night to 5 am in the morning.  Because I  worked from home, I didn’t have to worry about walking alone through dark parking lots at night so I could work those hours that nobody else wanted to work (evenings, nights and weekends), the hours for which companies paid extra (shift differential) as an incentive.   I could forget about makeup, wear whatever I durn well pleased and didn’t have to worry about “looking professional.”  (This was why  when I traded in a  1987 Toyota Corolla in 2014, it only had 48,000-odd actual miles on it!).  I worked from home for years before working from home was even a thing.

Because of my work, I had to have a word processing program to do the actual typing on, plus a transcription company program that would send and receive sound files and text files within an encryption envelope, plus another transcription company program that would enable me to play their sound files, plus the proprietary software I needed that would enable my computer to use a foot pedal to manipulate those sound files, plus a web browser. (I was using Google before most folks even knew what a search engine was.  I found out about it from an article in Discover Magazine.)  I also had to play back the dictation over headphones (and later, earbuds) to protect the privacy of the patients because all this dictation I was typing was somebody’s person healthcare information and could have been overheard by somebody else if I played back the dictation over speakers.

Then I found out about a switch (it’s called a KVM switch, BTW) that worked with Windows 7 that would enable me to hook two monitors to the switch and hook the switch to the computer’s monitor port and toggle back and forth between screens by tapping the ESC key twice.  Having two screens made juggling all those programs so much easier than having all of them open on the task bar and shifting between windows by clicking with my mouse.  I used that KVM setup for years.

Toward the end of my working life, I discovered a little cord gizmo that would let me hook up a second monitor directly to the computer without having to install a second monitor board/port (It’s called a VGA splitter, in case you’re interested).  I could then extend my display across both monitors and have access to both monitors all the time without having to click a switch.

My current setup is a legacy from my working life.  Because I have two monitors,  I can have a knitting pattern open (which I am either writing as I go, or following) on one monitor and a YouTube video open on the other.  I can have a word processing program open on one screen, and a dictionary program and a “character board” of pictures open on the other.  I have a set of speakers, but they’re put up in the closet somewhere, because for 30 years I sat down at my computer and put on headphones/earbuds.  I have an extension cord with an earbud jack taped to the underside of my desk that lets me plug in a set of earbuds just under the front edge of my computer desk.

Because I’m me, and because I can, I have a wallpaper program with a whole folder full of pretty pictures that changes the wallpaper on the two monitors every 10 minutes.  A while ago, this painting was the one being used as a wallpaper.  My monitors are 21.5-inch diagonal size, so I could get a good look.

What would it be like to live in houses like that?  How would you make your living if you lived there?  What would the rooms in those houses look like?

A while later, this painting appeared.

What would life in this picture be like? What would the building be?  Why would these boats be there? What kind of society would build a place like this?

See where I’m going?  This is how you play mind games with yourself.   You find some internet radio music you like, google yourself a painting or photograph you like, kick back and wish you were there . . .