Posts Categorized: Self-Control

We the Jury . . .

I got this jury notice. I don’t even remember when it came, but I was supposed to report last Monday.

The card always says to call their recording after 5:30 on the Friday before report time, to see if we actually have to report. I called. We had to.

My jury duty history has been rather spotty. When Kevin was a toddler, I got a summons, and there’s an exemption if you have a child at home with no one else to care for him. So I circled that one and sent it back. Then we moved to Lubbock for a year. Then we lived in a rental house for a couple of years. Then we moved into the house we bought. So, I’d forgotten about juries. I guess they lost track of me, as my address kept changing, and, I guess, those cards kept getting returned.

Then, once, when neighbors were out of town and we were getting their mail for them, our mail got mixed up with theirs, I completely overlooked a jury notice. When I found it, I was panic-stricken (thinking they might arrest me or something). I called frantically. Turns out, it was one of those days when the prospective jurors actually didn’t have to report.

Then, 1991, I had to go. And I actually got picked to be on the jury. And I actually served, start to finish, for the only time ever. It was a Workman’s Comp case, and, we the jury, did not think the guy was owed any more money.

I did get picked another time. It took so long that they sent us off for lunch before the trial began. When we got back, and were sitting in the jury room, someone, I guess one of the prosecutors, came in and said that, while we were at lunch, the case had been settled. He assured us that our presence had not been for naught. Our being there and having the jury chosen and the case ready to be presented, made whomever was on trial decide that maybe that deal that had been offered wasn’t so bad after all. He said that our willingness to be part of the judicial process helped the case get resolved. And thanks. And our checks would be in the mail. ($7.50, I think.)

Once, I got a summons and showed up for a case that involved a drunk driver. Oh boy, I thought. I am going to fry this guy. But then the lawyers began to talk about being unbiased and listening carefully to all the testimony and making a good and honest decision, and I felt bad and resolved to be a good juror. And then they asked if anyone was a non-drinker, and I raised my hand and that was that.

Then, more recently, I had a summons. They come a few weeks before jurors have to report. I forgot about it. I felt really bad about it. And really anxious about it.

A few months ago, one Monday morning, so few potential jurors showed up that there barely were enough people to handle the week’s court cases. Needless to say, the judge was FURIOUS!! This was after I’d neglected to show up, but, I’m being more careful and attentive now.

So, I showed up. But I wasn’t quite as anxious as I’d been when I first got the thing. For those of you who haven’t kept up with local legal events here, the first Twin Peaks shooting case has begun. The ladies who were sitting on either side of me in the potential juror room, and I, were all grateful that that’s not the case we’d be hearing. (It started a couple of weeks ago. The shooting happened two-and-a-half years ago.)

So, quite a few people who felt they had legitimate exemptions went up and talked to the judge. Most of them got to leave. Then, they called the names of 60 folks, and told them to leave but to return on Tuesday morning. Then, they called the name of 62 more people (including me), and also said to come back on Tuesday.

I went back on Tuesday. And this time, not to the juror room in the Annex building, but right up to the third floor of the courthouse. At 9:00. I didn’t want to be at all late, and I wanted to be sure I could find parking (which isn’t all that hard, after all), so I arrived at about 8:15. But, I brought some work to do. At around 9:15, I got up and walked around a bit. Actually, around and around and around the big open space that looks down on the rotunda. I stopped and talked to a friend I haven’t seen in many years. And talked. And talked. Finally, at 10:15 or so, they opened the doors and called us, by name, to enter the courtroom. They lined us up on the benches, six per row, all going in in the order in which they had called us. That took a few minutes.

Then, the judge said, “We’re sorry we had to keep you out there so long. And we’re sorry that we couldn’t tell you anything. But if we started talking to you about what was going on in here, then it would have undermined the whole process.” There were several cases on the docket, and all of them got resolved with pleas and deals. And we were done.

And again, the judge was sober and serious about the fact that our showing up and our being ready to be part of a jury had made the process work. Cases were resolved.

I looked at my watch and thought, “Hmmm. I can actually get over to West Avenue Elementary School in time for the Reading Club time that I thought I was going to miss.”

Everything you were taught can be put into a few words:

Respect and obey God!
This is what life
    is all about.
God will judge
    everything we do,
even what is done in secret,
    whether good or bad.

Ecclesiastes 12: 13, 14 (Contemporary English Version)

I guess if God’s doing the judging, a jury of my peers might not be all that reliable. They might have a bias.

 

 

 

“Come! Come! I Want to Show You the Pictures!”

That’s one of my new favorite sentences. (Along with “Your GFR is 43!“) My retina guy said it to me. (Yes, I have a retina guy. Well, he’s a Retina Specialist, to be completely accurate.)

I’ve been seeing a retina specialist for several years, in addition to my ophthalmologist (the spelling of which I always have to look up). Diabetes causes problems with, well, most parts of one’s body, but the blood vessels of the retina are particularly vulnerable. So, for quite a while, I’ve been going to the retina place, and a few years ago, the doctor said, “I’d like to try an injection to help with this problem.” Now, you might be thinking that he meant a regular ol’ injection, like a flu shot, or something like that. Well, yes, in that a needle is involved. But, really, we’re talking about my retina, so the injection involved is, yes, indeedy, in my eye. (Try to take a deep breath. Don’t freak out. And, really, try not to get diabetes.)

He explained, oh, so carefully, that they numb my eyeball. And then they put in, umm, some round thing, that keeps me from blinking. I guess it’s the same thing that they put in when one has cataract surgery, to keep that eyelid open and that eyeball exposed. Then, he says, “Look way over at the wall,” which exposes the maximum part of eyeball white, while keeping my eye from seeing that big needle approaching. And there’s a little bit of pressure, but really, it’s not painful. The worst part is that sometimes the injection creates temporary, dark floaties in my eye, which, at present, keeps looking like I have a strand of hair in front of my eye. But, it’s actually a little dark thing, floating around inside. It’ll go away. They always do. (Once, one type of injection caused a swarm of tiny gnat-like things that floated around for ages! They didn’t impair my vision, they were just a little annoying. And not painful.)

Anyway, back to the pictures. Each time I go to the retina place (which is monthly, these days) the first thing I do is go and sit down, put my chin in a cup sort of shelf (to hold my head steady) and look at the blue dot shining in front of me in a machine that takes pictures of my retinas. Actually, now that I think about it, the first thing I do is get my eyes dilated, so they can take those pictures. Those pictures, generated on a computer, then get sent down the hall to be looked at and evaluated by the doctor and staff, I presume for them to decide exactly which kind of injection I’ll need. I’ve seen copies of the pictures before. I don’t understand them. I believe what I’m told about them, and I believe that the retina staff does understand them.

Last Monday, I was sitting in the chair, in the examining room, when Dr. Castillo came in. He held out his hands to me and said, “Come. Come. I want to show you the pictures.” He led me out to the hallway, where a couple of other staff were standing, looking at the pictures on the screen. “Look! Look!” he said.

I looked. “I don’t really know what I’m looking for,” I said.

He pointed to the line of pictures on the left. “See. See these big, black spots. That’s what we are trying to shrink. Now, look here.” He pointed to the line of pictures on the right.

I did see. There were black spots, but they were flatter and smaller. Much smaller.

TA-DAH!!

And then I had to go sit back in the chair and get another injection. But, seriously, the bleeding, seeping spots are getting smaller. That’s preserving my eyesight. It’s a win/win.

As I got up to go, I thanked him for working so hard to help my eyes. And he said, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me treat you!”

“Do some patients not let you treat them?” I asked. He sighed and shook his head. “Yes, many.”

I just don’t understand. Okay, injections to your EYE!! It sounds horrible. What’s more horrible? Not being able to read. Not being able to drive. Not being able to understand what’s happening on the television/computer/movie theater screen.

I don’t understand my podiatrist’s patients who won’t wear their orthopedic devices, or do wear shoes that cause blisters which cause abscesses which leads to amputations.

I don’t understand my nephrologist’s patients who won’t stop eating foods that are hard for kidneys to process. Yes, bananas and tomatoes and potatoes and fresh oranges and pears and peaches are yummy (and, nutritious). And salty, crisp potato chips and corn chips are so very delicious. Sausage! Hot Dogs! I could go on and on and on. Not eat those things! HORRIBLE. You know what’s more horrible. Having to go to the dialysis clinic three times a week. Every week. For the rest of your life.

Vision loss and amputation and dialysis may very well be in my future. But I’m going to push that particular future as far away as I can.

and I praise you
    because of
the wonderful way
    you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
    Of this I have no doubt.

Psalm 139:14 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Meanwhile, on the fingernail front:

I also went by the dermatologist’s on Monday, to have the stitches removed.

…By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Possibly there are folks out there who don’t recognize this partial quote. (The title of this post) It’s Shakespeare, from the play Romeo and Juliet. The longer quote is:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

The speaker is Juliet, and she’s unhappy that the young man with whom she’s recently fallen in love is from a family on the outs with her family. Her point being that his last name doesn’t matter; she loves him anyhow, in the way that the scent of a rose is going to smell just as nice, even if we called it, for example, “stench-plant.”

The name “Romeo” has come to mean a lover, a ladies’ man, etc. (you can look it up). I don’t know what Shakespeare meant by it; maybe it was just a common name in those days.

But … moving on. A while back, I kept reading in the newspaper’s television page about the program TURN, the story of George Washington’s spy ring during the Revolutionary War. Like: “Tonight on TURN, the spy ring finds a new ally.” That sort of thing. Finally, during season 4 (the final season), I got interested and discovered that the library had DVDs of the first three seasons. (Yes, I know. We’re archaic. My kids think we’re ridiculous because we don’t have Hulu.) I watched all those videos and then watched the fourth season on the AMC website.

Then I found, also at the library (how old-fashioned am I!), an audiobook edition of the book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. I’m listening to it. All 13 hours and 19 minutes of it. I’m a little more than halfway through it, but sometimes I have to go back and start a chapter anew. When I’m listening to an audiobook, I’m almost always doing something else, like working in the yard or doing housework, and, at some point, I realize that I’ve been thinking about herbs and not paying attention to patriots, and I have to skip backwards a little bit. And, for this one, a book of Revolutionary War maps would have helped. And a complete list of all the characters. And which side they were on.

Which brings me to Benedict Arnold. The only thing I knew, and pretty much still know, about Benedict Arnold is that he was a traitor during the American Revolution. I think that may be all that most of us know. And some of us probably don’t know that much. But the name means “traitor.” As in: “That which we call Benedict Arnold, by any other name would still be a traitor.” Even knowing more about him and the positive things he did during the Revolutionary War (before he changed his mind about us), he’s still famous/infamous for trying to sell us down the river, almost literally, and would have, if the plot hadn’t been discovered. And the British guy he was working most closely with, John Andre, got captured and hanged. Arnold slipped away and got himself to a British ship and fought with those guys until the end of the war. And then, afterward, in England, tried to stir up things anew! Give it up, Ben!

It’s interesting, at least to me, maybe you, too, that there are names out there, that, when bestowed at birth may just have been names that parents liked, but they’ve come to mean something that no one might have imagined. Like Benedict Arnold. Like Adolph Hitler. Like Benito Mussolini. Like Josef Stalin. Like Caligula.

And there were other names, that have come to mean something that the name-givers (or name-takers) might not have expected. Or, maybe they thought, all the time, that those named would become so significant. Like Mother Teresa. Mohandas Gandhi. Martin Luther. Marie Curie. Johann Sebastian Bach. Alexander Graham Bell. Anne Frank. Francis I.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (New International Version)

A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold. (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 22:1

 

I guess “a good reputation” is what scripture means by “a good name.” Our actions, our behavior, and our attitudes, are what make our “names” good.

 

 

Fashion-notsta

It’s a miracle that the folks at Target let me purchase clothing any more. The number of things I return far outweighs the things I keep. The challenge is that I prefer to try on clothes in my own bedroom instead of the dressing rooms at Target. More space, better lighting, and the presence of things I already own, like shirts and jackets and skirts and tops, that I want to try on with the new items, to see if they work well together.

I have noticed, in the recent seasons (spring and summer and, coming up, fall), that some dresses I brought home, expecting them to work, have not. There seems to be a trend to long skirted dresses. Not all, but some. And, I like a longer skirt. As a senior adult woman, I like my skirts to at least make it to my knees. And I rather like the ones that hit me mid-shin. I’ve brought home several of the longish dresses, and taken them all back. Here’s the problem:

They’re all too long. Seriously too long. As a senior adult woman, I know that I’m a little bit shorter than I was as a young adult, but I’m still on the tallish side. Then I figured out what the problem was. I’m wearing the wrong shoes.

So, that explains things. I’m sure those long dresses look lovely on those young ladies who are walking around in those tall, tall shoes. I hope they’re saving up their pennies for their podiatrists. Well, when they have to get a podiatrist.

 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,

Psalm 92:12-14 (New International Version)

 

I’ve had three doctors’ appointments in the past three weeks. And the urgent trip back to the doctor about those pesky, stinging bugs (seriously, I can still see the puncture marks!). I’m only seeing the kidney guys once a year, now, and the podiatrist said, “six months away” for the next appointment, instead of the usual four. At the primary care doctor, she was looking over my lab work and said “creatine (a kidney-related number) is 1.2.” “That’s good, right?” I asked. She looked again, at my GFR, which is my kidney function, which tanked five years ago at 15.7%. “Your GFR is 43%” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” So, five years of: no bananas, no tomatoes, no potatoes, no anything-else-that-is-tasty. Apparently it’s working.

 

Learning Curve? It’s More Like a Learning Ski Jump!

My most recent phone. It's pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

My most recent phone. It’s pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

I dug my heels in for a long time, avoiding a mobile phone. I just didn’t feel that I needed to be only one touch away from having to talk/listen at any time in any place. Until Kevin and April got iPhones and brought them to show us, and I was overwhelmed by what all the “phones” could do. They’re really less phones than little bitty computers that I can carry around. And take photos with. And look up stuff with. And get directions with. And, really, it’s not anything that you or anyone else, worldwide, don’t already know about.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that I can’t actually recall how many phones I’ve had. Only one had to be replaced because I dropped it. Several times. Once on concrete. The others I’ve just gotten because some family member has said something like, “You’re due for an upgrade,” or, “The new phones are out!” That sort of thing.

All that said, I still struggle with knowing exactly how and what to do for one thing or another. For example:

Two or three weeks ago, I went online one Thursday evening to put up the week’s blog post, and I couldn’t get onto the website. That’s the sort of thing that I absolutely do not know how to navigate, so I phoned Jeremy in a panic. He tried from his computer in Brooklyn and had the same result–can’t get in! He said to hang up, and he’d work on it and call me back.

I opened up a word processing document and started writing so that, when he figured out what to do, I’d be able to cut and paste the post into the web site. I was pounding away (actually, it’s not really “pounding” any more, is it; it’s keyboarding, or inputting), writing out words, making paragraphs that I hoped I’d be able to post. And, while I was typing, I thought someone next door must be mowing, or edging. The sound was so loud that it created a vibration strong enough that I could feel it in my fingers, as I typed. I reached out and touched the window sill, but it didn’t seem to be vibrating.

Here's my desk. This is what it looked like, while I was waiting for Jeremy to phone me back. The phone was RIGHT THERE!! Next to me on the desk.

Here’s my desk. This is what it looked like, while I was waiting for Jeremy to phone me back. The phone was RIGHT THERE!! Next to me on the desk.

I typed on along, and then I heard a text ding and saw the text slide across the upper corner of the computer screen. From Jeremy: “When one is expecting a call, one generally stays by the phone. Or brings the phone with them.” I picked up the phone (which was indeed vibrating, which is what I had been feeling in my fingers on the keyboard).

“IT DIDN’T RING,” I said (a little loudly). “It’s right here on the desk next to me and IT DIDN’T RING!!!” (This is an issue I often have with my up-to-date, modern children. Sometimes, often, the phone doesn’t vibrate when it’s in my pocket, so I don’t know when they’ve called. And now, when I was anxiously waiting for a phone call, it did. not. ring!)

“It’s there next to you?” “YES!” “Screen up or screen down?” he asked.

“Screen down,” I said. “Well, Mom,” he said sort of gently, or maybe just amused. “People put their phones screen down when they want to not be disturbed.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” I said. (I was pretty irritated by everything and yelled rather a lot that evening.) “ALL THE TIMES I’VE SAID TO YOU GUYS THAT MY PHONE’S NOT RINGING AND NOBODY EVER THOUGHT TO TELL ME THAT?!?!?!?!”

I really, seriously rely on the computer/phone intelligentsia in my family to help me navigate through all the iPhone problems. Because, despite what they say and think, it is not intuitive for me. Even after all these years. I can do all sorts of things on the phone. I am stymied by all sorts of other things on my phone.

“And why does it do that,” I went on with Jeremy. “Putting it screen down seems natural to me.”

“That’s because you’re old,” he said. And he’s right. On several levels.

When I think about how I used to hold a phone receiver (you know, the kind that’s attached by a cord to the big ol’ dial-on-the-front phone itself), when I said “good-bye,” I took the receiver from my ear and put it, business-end down on the phone. Which is the natural motion for me to use when I’m done with an iPhone call. I pull the phone away from my ear and put it, business-end down, on the desk/table/bed. And then, unbeknownst to me, it goes into “do not disturb” mode.

My most recent phone. It's pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

There’s a solution to this. When Kevin and April and Jeremy were here for Independence Day, Kevin took over my phone for a few minutes and diddled around and handed it back. “Call her,” he said to one of the others.

See that small, dark circle in the phone’s top left-hand corner? That’s the viewer of the phone’s camera. The little white circle next to it is the flash, in case a shot needs extra illumination. Whatever Kevin did makes that light flash like a strobe when I get an incoming call. It’s a little hard to miss.

And that is what those intelligentsia are for.

 

Good judgment proves
    that you are wise,
    and if you speak kindly,
    you can teach others.

Proverbs 16:21 (Contemporary English Version)

I guess I need to work a little bit (or a lot) on speaking kindly, even when I’m frustrated. Or feeling stupid. Or overwhelmed. Or mystified. Or … I could go on and on.

 

Years ago,  Kevin and April got new phones that had Siri (the app that you talk to, and who talks back to you, for answers to questions and for information). Kevin was really enjoying asking and getting responses and showing us what all that Siri-girl can do. At one point, he said, “Hey, Siri, text April and tell my wife I love her.” And Siri said, “Texting April to tell my wife I love her.” Okay. There were some fine points to figure out.

The next morning, he and my sister and I were up, and he was still enjoying his new phone friend. I asked what was the difference between the iPhone 4 and 4s, and which one did they have (I do pay a little attention to ads and commercials). All full of his computery self, Kevin picked up his phone and said, “Hey, Siri. Tell my mother what the difference is between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s.”

And Siri said, “I do not know who your mother is.”

iPhones are a lot of fun.

 

Whistle While You Work! Tra-la-la-la-la-la-lah!

I can’t actually whistle. But sometimes I sing while I work. And, a lot of the time, I listen to an audio book while I work, which means I sometimes have to go back and relisten to whole chapters, because I’ve been thinking about what I’m working on, instead of listening, and I discover I have no idea what’s going on, in that audio book that’s been pouring into my ears.

Meanwhile, my sleep cycles have been rather awry lately. I think it was Bible School. We have Bible School (which we call Children’s Bible Club) in the evenings. I’m accustomed to being more busy and active in the daytime. I work in the yard. I work in the house. I walk on the treadmill. In the evenings, I’m more likely to be doing stuff on the computer or watching television or reading (and maybe I walk on the treadmill). Quieter stuff. And I stop drinking tea at 6:00 p.m.

Even when Peter’s here (which he happened to be, during Bible School), I’m not at all busy with him later in the day. The instant David walks in the door after work each evening, Peter becomes an appendage, and I might as well not be here at all. So when he’s here, my daytimes may be busy, but my evenings are restful. I’m thinking, then, that the evening-time hubbub of Bible School a couple of weeks ago sort of re-set my regular rhythms, and I’m having trouble sleeping. Or, staying asleep.

Tuesday morning, verrrrrrry early … well, it was really more like Monday night still, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. And, I kept thinking about what all I needed to get done before holiday company arrives on Saturday, and what sort of food preparation and house cleaning and laundry and general readiness and, well, you understand. So, I gave up and got up.

I didn’t necessarily want to spend time on the computer, reading Facebook posts or doing crossword puzzles or jigsaw puzzles, because screen time is supposed to negatively effect sleep. I didn’t want to do anything noisy (like getting a jumpstart on the vacuuming), because David might find that annoying, in the middle of the night. But, there was some cleaning up that I should do in the guest/sewing/overflow stuff room. I went there and shut the door and turned on the light, and thought about what a disorganized space the armoire was.

I keep my sewing stuff in there. Years (and years and years) ago, I got a set of Tupperware containers that I use to keep all the sewing stuff organized. Sort of. I find myself searching among the containers for what I need, and the boxes get disorganized and I can’t always find what I want, and things get stuffed in anywhere, and, so on and so on. Also, there was stuff in a chair and on the sewing machine and on the bed, and I was feeling frazzled about it.

Stuff all over the bed and the ironing board.

Stuff all over the bed and the ironing board.

I found all sorts of stuff, like these tiny envelopes that have spare buttons from clothes I've bought. Very few of them are labeled, so I don't know what clothes they belong to, or even if they belong to clothes I still have.

I found all sorts of stuff, like these tiny envelopes that have spare buttons from clothes I’ve bought. Very few of them are labeled, so I don’t know what clothes they belong to, or even if they belong to clothes I still have.

So, at 1:15 a.m. on Tuesday, I took all those containers out of the armoire and got to work. I opened them all up and spread everything out on the bed. I re-arranged and made sure that the same things were together. (No zippers with the interfacing. No elastic with the ribbon.) I tried to be bold about getting rid of things I don’t use or want or like any more. I consolidated things. I threw away things. I made a Goodwill bag. And long before I finished, I became really sleepy and thought I should go on to bed while the urge compelled me to, and while I could get at least a little bit of sleep.

I had to put the project on hold for a little while, trying to get some other tasks done (like making homemade ice cream for July 4th!) and getting other spaces in the house also ready for company. But I got back to it Thursday afternoon. Everything got tucked away into a container. I stacked them all in the armoire, and remembered how frustrating it has been to find exactly what I was looking for. So, I did what I’ve planned to do for, oh, fifteen years? I labeled the containers. Yes, I know, it seems like a simple thing (and it was). I just never got around to it.

 

As I went through, somewhat, the drawers, I found this Hawaiian quilt square that I started (and I am not exaggerating) forty-four years ago. The figure is appliqued on and I had begun to quilt it, but the top got skewed from the lining, and I put it away and didn’t get back to it. A few years ago, I pulled the quilting out. Monday night, I separated the batting from the top and bottom. I threw out the old batting and ironed the front and backing. It’s ready for me to think about starting over.

The bird’s eye maple armoire is the only piece of furniture that I remember from my maternal grandparents’ home. I’m very glad to have it, for sentimental reasons, and because it does such a good job of keeping all my sewing stuff organized!

 

Everything on earth has it’s own time and its own season. There is a time . . .

for throwing stones
and gathering stones,
    embracing and parting.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2a, 5 (Contemporary English Version)

I’ve been doing some throwing and gathering. In just a couple of days, there’ll be embracing, and then, a while later, some parting. And, every now and then, I’ll go and look in the armoire, to see how nice it looks!

The Square of the Hypotenuse . . . or, A Useful Thing I Learned in Math Class

Here, it's the slanty side, labeled "c." In Right Triangle Land, the hypotenuse is always "c."

Here, it’s the slanty side, labeled “c.” In Right Triangle Land, the hypotenuse is always “c.”

I don’t know if it happened in some regular math class, or in Algebra or in Geometry, or in all of them, but at some point I learned the term “hypotenuse” and what it meant–which is: In a Right Triangle (which is any triangle that has a right angle [90°]), the side opposite that right angle is called the hypotenuse. And I find the idea useful when I’m walking in parking lots.

When I’m shopping, let’s say at Target, and I leave the store with my bag(s) and maybe a cart, I’ve got to walk across two lanes of parking lot traffic to get to the parked cars. The drivers in those lanes are, of course, or at least we hope of course, driving pretty slowly. One: they’re trying to be careful of pedestrians entering and leaving the store. Two: they’re trying to find good parking spots. Hmm. I think finding the parking spots might be their first priority, and the shopping public a little further down their list of concerns. But, ordinarily, no one is speeding in that space in front of the store’s entrances. (And, there are a couple of stop signs, too.)

When shoppers leave the store, they usually head precisely toward the spaces where their cars are parked, because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (also a Geometry fact).

 

IMG_4212Let’s say that some guy parked his white car in the spot that’s way over on the left side of the photo. He may have parked there because he’s got to return something, and the Customer Service counter is by that closest door, the one at the front of the right-hand side on the photo. He returns his merchandise and then thinks that he might like to have a latte from the Target Starbuck’s, so he walks on down there. Then, he thinks he’s hungry, too, and a pretzel would be tasty. The snack bar is right beside the farther door, so he gets his pretzel and walks out that door. Then, he realizes that he’s gone out the wrong door, but it’s early in the morning and not blazing hot, yet. So he starts walking toward his car. He walks in a straight line (that being the shortest distance), from the door to his car, i.e. diagonally across the whole length of those lanes. And, if I and someone else are driving up towards him, and a couple of other cars are approaching from behind him, we’ve all got to stop and wait for him to make that long walk. We might be able to inch up some, but basically, at some point, his walking is slowing down both lanes of car traffic. Instead, the more helpful route would have been to leave the building and walk straight across that lane where cars drive (see Side a, above). Then, he could walk down Side b, towards his parked car, still having to cross the distance between the lines of parked cars where vehicles might be driving, but there wouldn’t be quite as much traffic slow-down. Or, he could have walked all the way down the sidewalk in front of the building (side b) and then across the busier lanes (side a). And, obviously, at 8:30 in the morning (photo time), it’s not much of an issue. But, on a Saturday afternoon. Ollie, Mollie, Gollie. It really would help a lot!

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Same thing at the HEB grocery store. There is a much wider space for cars driving back and forth, coming and going, searching for the best place to park. But the grocery store shoppers often have filled-to-the-brim carts and sometimes lots of family members, some of them rather short. Walking straight across instead of opting for the lengthier, diagonal route, would be safer.

 

In Math Classdom, the hypotenuse is famous for its place in the Pythagorean theorem, which Wikipedia defines as:

In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem, also known as Pythagoras’s theorem, is a fundamental relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. The theorem can be written as an equation relating the lengths of the sides a, b and c, often called the “Pythagorean equation”:[1]

 a^{2}+b^{2}=c^{2},

where c represents the length of the hypotenuse and a and b the lengths of the triangle’s other two sides.

The example we got in Math class was a triangle where side “a” was 3 inches and side “b” was 4 inches and the hypotenuse was 5 inches. So: 3 squared (9) + 4 squared (16) = 5 squared (25).

(If you’re at all interested in reading more, and who wouldn’t be, here’s the Wikipedia link.)

 

The inside of the Lord’s temple was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high.

1 Kings 6:2 (Contemporary English Version)

The hypotenuse of that space would have been about  94.87, as per the Calculate the Hypotenuse of a Right Triangle website.

IMG_4208And, something that is not at all germane to this conversation, but look what I found on the front sidewalk this morning. It’s a cicada. It didn’t seem very healthy, but it was early in the morning, and he might have just been fresh out of his little pupating shell. I’ve seen several round holes in the side yard, by the ferns. Maybe it’s cicada coming-out-party time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Your Mailbox is Full”

IMG_3339Sometimes, when I look out the little window in the front door, to see if the mail has come, there are a couple of pieces, so small that the mailbox lid is down, and I can’t tell if there’s actually any mail in it. Other days, there’s a catalog and a magazine and several bills, and pieces of all sorts of ads and circulars, and sometimes even some actual mail. And I’m glad I’m not a mail carrier, because if everyone gets the amount of mail I do on those busy days, then I’d be too worn out to deliver mail. (Maybe it evens out over the course of several days.) Plus, I’d probably end up sitting in my freezing mail carrier truck in the winter, and setting fire to pieces of mail that I think not one really wants anyway, just to try to stay warm.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 4.48.02 PMThese days, some of my mail is electronic. Two or three days a week, coupons appear in my inbox, and I can scroll through them and choose which ones I’d like to print out, to take to the grocery store. I get offers, almost daily, it seems, from the Groupon people and the Living Social people. Amazon.com reminds me periodically that I bought some vitamins from them a while back, and would I like to order some more? And, yes, thank you, I’m almost out and would like to order some more.

Grande Communications is our e-mail provider. When I’m away from home and need to check my mail, I go to the Grande site. When I’m at home, I use the mail app on my computer. (This will be important later.)

Wednesday morning, when I went to check my mail, I saw that nothing had come in since afternoon the day before. That seemed odd. I tried clicking on the “Get Mail” icon, without success. I tried sending a message to Kevin, to ask if there was something amiss and how could I remedy it, but I couldn’t send anything out, either. So, I called him. Wednesday is a work from home day for him, but he had a knotty work issue to sort out, and couldn’t get back to me for a while.

So, I did the sensible thing and called Grande. After listening to several recorded options, I finally got a human. I explained the problem to him, and very quickly he was able to identify the glitch. “Your mailbox is full,” he said.

Hmmm. While I do indeed delete some of my e-mail messages, I’m bad, I admit, about thinking, “Oh, I’ll go back later and read that ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ piece …” but I rarely do. So there are several of those lying around in my mailbox. And some devotionals. And some other stuff, like coupon offers, and things I needed to save, like the worship service volunteers in preschool, for this quarter, but then I didn’t go back and delete the one for the quarter before that, and the quarter before that, and well, you know.

mailSo I said to the nice young man from Grande, “Hmm. So I need to go back and delete stuff. Lots of stuff?” And he said, and I’m including the print out from the Grande web site, so you’ll believe me, “You have seven thousand, one hundred, ninety e-mails in your inbox. That’s 99.97 per cent of your capacity.”

“So, it seems I need to do some deleting, then,” I said. And he agreed. I also asked him, just out of curiosity, if this was the largest email box percentage he ever seen. “Yes,” he said. Up til now, the highest one he’d seen was 96% full. “You should get a plaque,” he said. “Or maybe a trophy.”

I called Kevin, and got him (knotty work problem was resolved, which is pretty much Kevin’s job description–solve those knotty problems). I laughed and explained the Grande situation: full mailbox, 99.97% full, time to delete. And Kevin was astonished and began to look into things. And, to shorten a very tedious, hour-long story, Kevin ultimately discovered the trouble.

Because I have a Mac and use the computer’s e-mail program, when I delete an e-mail, or a hundred e-mails, they disappear from my computer, but they do not disappear from my Grande account. When we looked at my Grande mail page, it showed (after you scrolled and scrolled and scrolled) every e-mail I’d ever gotten, except for a few that I’d deleted after reading them when I was someplace else besides at home, and deleted a message from the Grande page when I was working on some other computer.

Kevin discovered that, if he deleted a message from my Grande account on the Grande page, it did not disappear from my computer’s e-mail. There was a button, on the Grande page, that said, “Delete All.” And, since we’d learned that the computer email and Grande’s email aren’t on speaking terms, he tested out his theory, by deleting some messages from my Grande website e-mail list. They disappeared from my Grande account. But, they did not disappear from the computer e-mail application that I use regularly. He was able, then, to go to the Grande site and hit “Delete All.” They all disappeared. From the Grande page. But, on the Mac mail application, they were there. Well, a sensible number of e-mails were there. Not seven thousand, one hundred, ninety of them.

 

Christ gives me the strength to face anything.

Philippians 4:13 (Contemporary English Version)

 

I understand that this verse really refers to spiritual matters, but I think it also applies to all day, everyday challenges–the things that trip me up and frustrate me and make me lose time and energy and patience. Modern life keeps on slapping me in the face; every time I think I’ve gotten a handle on something, someone pops up and says, “No, you can’t go that way. That’s a one way street;” “Hey, that’s not the right way to do that! You have to go through this door first, then that door!” “Of course you can’t access your e-mail. YOUR MAILBOX IS FULL!!!!!!******” (Insert appropriate emojis here.)