Housebound For A Day : An Observational Study of One

Today was a very windy, somewhat showery day.  There have been wind warnings and 21,000 homes in our area have lost power.  I had no need to leave the house and thought I’d spend the time on a variety of activities, many of them overdue.  One thing about re-wirement is you have more time to be an observer of life’s ordinary moments.  Here are my observations of a day of being housebound.   Fair to say there were 6 or 7 things I thought I’d get done today.  How could the day be summarized?

Everything takes longer than you think.

  1. A planned 30 minute DVD on exercise takes almost 60 minutes when I can’t get the DVD to play immediately.  It may be a generational thing (i.e. I am, as some might say, getting long in the tooth). where remotes are not intuitive.  I’d like to think it’s a technical problem, not of my making.  
  2. A plan to fill out a form online, a PDF form, ends up taking a looooooong time when I wasn’t able to enter any characters into the form.  Off I go to Google to search what the problem might be.  Look at the tool bar, look at the settings, look at things I didn’t know existed and in the end I gave up.  Convert it to text…or was it Word and muddle through it. 

I fell far short of the things I thought I’d get done today.  I did a number of things that I hadn’t planned as one thing lead to another.  A day is sometimes like picking up a thread and following it around corners and down stairs and into nooks and crannies when you should have just left that thread untouched on the floor.  

Now that I think of it, this day is not all that terribly different from days in the workplace.  At the start of the day you have great plans to accomplish a number of things but by the end of the day you realize a number of things will be carried over to another time.  The beauty of today is I didn’t have to go out in the howling wind to be inefficient.  I could do that without stepping out our front door.

Do you have advice for me on how to be more productive?  Some tips and tricks you use in your daily routine?

Anything But Syndrome (ABS)

Background

Mankind is bent on discovering and labelling its activities and observations.  Take the weather-and all the terms you hear now that you never used to hear.  They aren’t necessarily easy to understand-a plain language course for some people who think these things up might be in order. Here’s a few in the weather vein (pun intended):

  • distant precipitation (aka I can see it’s raining over there)
  • micro-burst (aka boy, that was a short but heavy shower)
  • plough wind (aka a huge wind came through)

And so on.  

Context

Then there are terms for the human condition, for maladies, for behaviours.  And if you look into the history of the condition, you can usually find who initially coined the phrase.  I figure why should I be left behind.  It came to me recently that I have a syndrome…it’s the Anything But Syndrome-shortened of course to its acronym ABS.  I plan to bring this up at parties and family gatherings.  It should flow nicely.  A conversation often might move towards an illness (someone has RA-rheumatoid arthritis or have you heard about the increase in the diagnose of ADHD-attention deficit  disorder) and I’ll slip in and say “and I have been having quite a time with my ABS”.  I should get credit for initiating the phrase-I googled it and it doesn’t show up yet. So it’s mine.  And the neat thing is the acronym is adaptable.  It can have subsets.

Anything But Syndrome (ABS)

It’s not clear just how long I have lived with ABS.  My life now-beyond full-time work has granted me opportunities to observe things I haven’t observed before.  There just wasn’t time before to notice it.  It hit me like a plough wind recently.  My cousin Cliff and I decided it would be fun and high time to hold a family reunion.  We got together in November 2011 and I agreed to do the next bit-contact some family members from each of the branches on the family tree and so on.  It wouldn’t take long.  We thought August 2012 would be a good time to hold the reunion.  And I had LOTS of time to contact people…there are 9 months between November and August.

ABS- in this case it’s ABR

I didn’t forget I had committed to contact people.  I thought of every other thing I could instead.   I asked people about their experiences in organizing reunions (let people know early , they said).  I didn’t have phone numbers, there were other things to do and so on.  The months passed and finally one day when rolling out of bed, I thought-there’s only 6 months left before a reunion no one knows about!  I had a full-blown case of ABS..more specifically ABR- Anything But Reunion.  That got me going and to make the rest of the story short-planning is underway and hopefully we will have a good turnout-despite one of the organizers’ living with ABR.

Over the years I now recognize several subsets of ABS in my own behaviour.  I have lived with ABC (Anything But Cleaning), ABS (Anything But Studying) and ABP (Anything But Practising) for as long as I can remember.  

I am likely not alone in living with ABS.  Perhaps we could start a support group.  Do you think you might be touched by the syndrome too?


2011 Blog Stats

Happy New Year one and all!  Time to pull out the pants with the elasticized waist bands and to consider the purchase of an elliptical trainer or a long-term gym membership.  

WordPress sent me an “annual report” for the past year…well it’s actually 3/4 of a year since the first blog was March 31st.  The report follows.  Thank you for reading the blog.  I really appreciate comments on the blog-some come via the comment section and some come direct to me as email.  It seems this year people were particularly interested in the retirement blogs and the matching of scotch and chocolate.  I won’t be able to repeat the retirement from an almost 40 year career in 2012 while another go at the scotch and chocolate thing is much more likely. 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Christmas Greetings and IT Solutions

It’s That Time Of Year

The above is a line from one of the many Christmas songs we hear on the radio at this time year.  For many of us this time of year is filled with shopping, cooking, visiting and sending greetings to family and friends.  The tradition of sending Christmas cards has waned from years gone by but it is still ever so nice to get mail that isn’t junk or bills.  That said, at this house we’ve left it too long to do much in paper-at least anything that would be on time, so I thought I’d do something in the electronic media.

You’ve Heard of Drug Interactions.  

It is my experience there are adverse technology interactions.  Just as you shouldn’t take drugs together unless you have gained knowledge of the expected outcome, the same goes for using too many new-to-you programs, websites, mouse clicks and such in any one project.  Anything that says “easy to use” is likely not.  If you have questions about taking drugs-ask your lovely, knowledge and trusted pharmacist.  If you have questions or problems about mixing the instructions of one program with the information from another website-you’re pretty much on your own.  Frustrated and on your own.

Off I went, then to do something simple but hopefully a little creative for our Christmas greeting.  I used the Movie Maker/Xtranormal site to make a little movie.  That wasn’t too bad.  I’ve used it before. Then I thought I’d try to find some stationery.  I found Pages on my iMac and played around with the templates and found something that could work.  

When Is A Download Not A Download.

Linking the movie into the Christmas message shouldn’t be a problem.  I add links to this blog all the time.  Not so.  There should be standardized ways of linking-world wide standards.  If we can all agree on the shape of a stop sign, surely the way we add links could be standardized.  Add to that my inability (until I read Q&A’s and chat forums) to effectively download the movie in a reasonable format and well, let’s just say, I was feeling challenged.  I was to not simply download but it had to be a HQ Download..oh yeah…well what’ s that?  And there was something about an MP4 file-remember I’m the one who still owned the now-recalled 1st gen iPod and now there’s MP4?

All’s Well That Ends Well

Here’s the Christmas message, ultimately.  I will spare you the Pages document.

Breakthrough IT Solution!

When I stepped aside from full-time work earlier this year, one of my special gifts was from an IT colleague who was more than aware of my IT (in)abilities.  This gift sat next to my computer desk.  Good think I had taken a picture of it before embarking on the Christmas message-it’s gone missing.  My husband mentioned something about removing from the computer area, any objects that might be used to pummel technology.

Universal IT Problem Solver
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and May All Your Technological Efforts Be Effortless in 2012!  Please tell me I’m not alone.

Woodworking is Simply Quilting….with Wood-Part I

Drugs vs Joinery

I estimate I have gone to dozens and dozens of conferences and large meetings and symposiums (I wondered how to spell the plural of symposiums and this is what I found).  At first I thought I could say hundreds but that’s likely an exaggeration.  The topic of conferences has been largely the profession of pharmacy, the world of pharmaceuticals, the evidence to support their effectiveness and how they are used.  Add to that symposia about how we could better work together provincially, nationally and internationally and I am now thinking I should have kept a list.  I’d be up for some sort of badge-if they gave badges for this sort of thing.  I have given presentations (always telling a true story during the presentation), introduced speakers, chaired sessions and acted as a “discussant”.  I had to ask what that was…besides someone who discusses things.  For all those conferences, my husband and in years gone by, my daughter often attended and they did their own thing and joined me for various social functions during the conference.

This week for the second time in our 36 year marriage, the shoe was on the other foot and I rode shotgun while my husband attended the Woodworking in America (WIA) conference in Covington, Kentucky.  

Compare and Contrast

I walked over to the conference centre a couple of times and here’s my observations of the differences between conferences about drugs/pharmaceuticals, the profession of pharmacy and a conference about woodworking-or joinery as some call it.

  1. There is a great deal more facial hair at the WIA conference.
  2. There is more denim and plaid and vests worn….far more.
  3. You don’t hear much discussion about mortices and tenons at pharmacy conferences.
  4. You do hear about keeping things sharp at both conferences.
  5. Both fine woodworking (joinery) and the profession of pharmacy are at the crossroads.  I was intimately involved in the associations representing the profession of pharmacy for over 10 years and the profession was at the crossroads the whole time.  It still may be.  It’s a phrase I came to dislike…a great deal. 
  6. Passion is evident at each conference-and that’s a great thing.  People sharing the same interests and goals coming together-contacts and friendships made that will last well beyond the fleeting days of the conference.
  7. It’s great when your spouse indulges and supports your interest (I am so indebted it will never be an even split for us).
Do you have thoughts about attending conferences and are there difference and similarities across the board?  How would you spell the plural of symposium?

Four Thousand Views-One Hundred Seventy Five Days

I started blogging some 175 days ago when my friends at my workplace set up a blog site for me as a farewell gift.  I then moved on from the sphere of full-time work and am now 5+ months into what I am calling my Next Chapter.

My ignorance of blogging knew no bounds as I began blogging and some might say there’s been little change in my level of understanding.  If you blog, the literature suggests you are encouraged to pick a theme.  I read a blog that is all about baking and eating and it’s very good-I have baked from her recipes.

I started out thinking the blog would be focused on my experience of eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti, a local coffee shop/bistro in Little Italy, Ottawa, Ontario. Well, the best laid plans of mice and man… the blog morphed pretty quickly into more of a life-beyond-full-time-work blog.  It’s not gone viral-like some of the things we hear of that have gone viral…and that may well be a good thing.  But it’s been a chance for me to observe and report of a life’s experience when not in the workplace full-time.  In retrospect, it’s not surprising I don’t have a single theme, like gardening or golfing or cycling or quilting or cooking or Simply Biscotti or hiking or cross-country skiing, or, or because there are so many things to experience when you are writing a new chapter in your life.  In a way my career was a bit like that-when people would ask me about my career I would say my resume looked like I couldn’t keep a job.  I was always looking for something new after a while-a new adventure, a new horizon and only once did I stay long enough to get a 10 year pin.  I’m proud of that (although my manager had to work a bit of magic to convince the powers that it really was 10 years).

But back to the blog and the stats.  In the 175 days there have now been over 4,000 views!!  While not viral, there are people having a look.  I know people are looking because there are things like Site Stats and Akismet Stats that tell me how many views per day and which blogs are most frequently viewed.  I know because people have left comments and a number of sent emails directly to me.  I am thrilled that you and others have looked once..or twice…or maybe routinely. My husband says the views are likely made up of my own 3,900 views and the 6 times he has looked and a few miscellaneous viewers who stumbled on the site by mistake.  Well he didn’t really say that but that was the gist of it. I showed him the bit on Word Press that says they don’t count my views on the site.

Another friend who has more experience in blogging posted detailed stats about his blog recently.  I don’t know how to find those stats yet but I plan to learn over time.  I do know though that the blog titled Scotch and Chocolate keeps getting viewed.  And I see now that Carol Anderson of GrapeScot who led the scotch and chocolate tasting has provided a link to my blog through one of hers….this is the world of blogging. I wonder if I could do a blog about drinking scotch and eating chocolate after cycling to the garden and then finishing the day with a treat from Simply Biscotti.

Any thoughts on what I should write about next?

Green (sometimes) Thumb-Chapter Nine-Fall is Approaching

It’s always easier to look back than it is to look ahead.  I just had a quick peek at the bits I wrote about our garden earlier this year.  There were 3-4 blogs about gardening before we put a seed in the ground and now, here we are, technically it’s still summer but everybody knows what comes next.  Fall.  Although the season isn’t over and we have yet to sit down and conduct an objective “lessons learned” review of our community garden plot-here’s some initial observations (objective or not).

Gardening by the numbers:

  • 102-number of days between the day we started planning and today.  That’s days for germination to harvest to date (some plants were supposed to have been started weeks before we got seeds into the ground….sounds like I am rationalizing-and I am)
  • 2448-number of hours in the 102 days for rain, sun, wind, humidity and other forces of nature to embrace our bit of dirt
  • 1000-square feet in our plot
  • 2-number of friends who have dug, planted, bent over, cut, pruned, weeded, tenderly handled, hoed, covered, perspired, commiserated and enjoyed the past 102 days
  • 1,298-at a minimum-the number of potato beetles we sent to their just reward

Gardening by the adjectives

  • Beautiful-the few flowers that graced our land.  There were Shasta daisies earlier in the year and now sunflowers.  Those sunflowers ended up being robust plants-to the point that they provided too much shade in some areas. We know that now for next year and we will adjust.

  • Marginal (economists love the term)-the overall yield we harvested this year compared to our hopes.  If I remember correctly we had dreams of bountiful crops-lots for us, lots for friends.  Don’t get me wrong it’s not that we haven’t enjoyed produce along the way.  A recent article in the Globe and Mail “Cashing in on an Urban Garden” mirrors our experience to some degree-except her yield was bountiful.
  • Adequate-our yield-enough for several meals but not a winter’s keep-recently we dug up carrots, onions, potatoes and took home more swiss chard.  But fair to say compared to some neighbours our harvest was meagre.  There are more vegetables yet to be harvested -this gives you an idea of our “take”.

Gardening accident-what are the chances

  • After digging up the vegetables you see above I took the fork and shoved it into the ground and took off my gardening gloves.  There-we got that done!  I need a statistics expert to help me to put the accident in context.  Now there are 144,000 square inches in our 1,000 square foot plot.  There are 4 tines on the garden fork-each no longer than 1 inch wide.  Our garden hose is 3/4 of an inch wide.  What are the chances then, that when I plunged the fork into the straw and the ground that one tine would go straight through our garden hose!! Excellent…that’s what the chances were-excellent.  We are starting our list of purchases for next year-a garden hose is on the list.

Gardening  wisdom (learned this year so far)

  • Gardening takes time….lots of time.  Don’t take on a 1,000 square foot garden unless you will be able to dedicate time to keep on top of things.   
  • Next year holds great promise.  Next year we’ll start sooner.  Next year we’ll do this differently, next year we’ll do that instead of this.  Next year the weather will be different. Next year.
  • It is about the experience.  Time with a friend, time to chat (while hunched over a row picking weeds and bugs).  Meeting gardening neighbours and learning from their experience and their wisdom.  It’s the smell of the dirt, the joy of watching things grow and the discussion about why they aren’t (usually we pin the lack of success on the soil and the weather this year-not on the two of us who are tending the soil).  
  • And from our neighbour Kahlil who has tended the same plot for 30 years.  He is there day after day convening with nature and visiting with neighbours.  From him came perhaps the wisest of statements.  “Every year I put in $1,000 and I take out $500!”  

For those of you who have gardened, who garden now or know things about gardening, we welcome all advice and commiseration.  Are there great references or on-line forums we should be checking out?  We are all ears and we didn’t even try to grow corn.