Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Menopausal Computer

Did you know computers are females.? I know this because mine is definitely showing signs of menopause. Not only does my computer feel hot lately, but she refuses to work until she cools down. My computer’s mood swings the past few weeks have been making it almost impossible to get my work done. For the past month, many times when I hit a key, there is a delayed reaction until the letters appear on my screen. The other day when I went to write a blog, my curser froze and I had to shut down and pray the mouse would work when I rebooted up. Was she mad because I was away and never checked my messages?

I took hormones when I hit menopause. The equivalent of hormones for my computer seems to be a daily virus scan. Every morning when I boot up, MacAfee warns that I need to scan my computer. This takes time – usually the time I have allotted to write. Now what? Trade it in? My husband didn’t trade me in during my mood swing period. He was patient. I’m trying to be patient, but I didn’t prevent Hubby from working.

Maybe the slow down is more than menopausal mood swings. Lately a sign in the bottom right corner keeps flashing that the computer’s virtual memory is low. It tells me where to click, and when I do, I get no response. Does this mean my computer is finishing menopause and starting Alzheimer’s?

I’ll nurse my faithful friend until I can find a computer doctor who can diagnose her problem. Hopefully, the stubbornness is only menopause. There is life beyond that stage of a woman’s life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shh! Only My Facebook Friends Can Know

To me, Facebook is a socially acceptable way to snoop on my children and grandchildren’s lives. I know there are lots of up things about using Facebook to stay in touch, but the snooping part still amuses me. The same teens who lock themselves in their rooms so no one listens to their private conversations, think nothing of posting most of it on Facebook. I’ve learned there are some rules I must follow. Once I commented on something my teenaged grandson wrote. I thought my comment was funny. He deleted it. I got the hint. Grandkids don’t want their friends to know their conversations are being monitored by anyone over 16.

My son posted on his Facebook wall details of his overcommitted boring schedule for the day: chauffeuring his 2 teens from place to place all day. Moments after his comment popped up on my wall, his daughter posted about all the fantastic plans she had for that day. Identical schedule, different point of views. Her aunt, who has a keen sense of humor, wrote a comment and asked my granddaughter if she was going to also post when she brushed her teeth. I wondered if my granddaughter would delete it as her brother deleted my comment. I also wondered why her aunt didn’t write the same comment to my son.

It has not ceased to amaze me the minutia highly educated, overly committed adults write on their wall for all to see. One friend writes either about how blessed she is to have two fantastic and beautiful teenaged-daughters or about her minor medical ups and downs. Like my over-committed son, this friend finds it easier to post about her day-to-day life than to make a phone call to her many friends and relatives.

Another friend keeps touting how perfect her almost middle-aged daughters are and how blessed she is to have these two caring daughters. Sometimes the stuff she writes about her “girls” is so personal, I feel as if I am listening in on a party line.

Today, when she posted for all to read how miserable her day was, she wrote, “Daddy’s office was flooded.”

Since her own father passed away over 30 years ago, I commented, “Daddy???????”

One of her daughters followed my comment with, “Ma, don’t you realize all of your Facebook friends are reading these messages?”

Hmmm. Now how many other people don’t realize the difference between Facebook and email and does this explain why some of them post stuff that only immediate relatives or friends really care about?

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Shortest Love Affair

I woke this past Monday wincing with lower back pain. It was too acute for me to drive the hour to my old neighborhood to the doctor who usually gives me the magic shot that calms the spasm caused by a couple of degenerating disks. The time had come to try the local orthopedic doctor.

I called his office as soon as it opened and his appointment giver’s response was predictable. She asked the standard, “How fast can you get here?” question. I learned years ago that unless the patient answers “immediately,” the appointment is put off for a month. I was given a mid-morning appointment.

After the x-rays were taken, the doctor saw me. He rattled off the name of my condition, which was not news to me. He agreed with my old doctor’s diagnosis. He told me he was giving me the magic shot to reduce the inflammation – also expected. He then fired away new orders – orders my previous doctor never uttered. He explicitly told me I could not bend my back – no bed making, no laundry, no cleaning bathrooms – nothing that could put a strain on my lower back. “Total rest for a week and the spasm will be gone.”

I was in seventh heaven, delighted in my decision not to travel to see old reliable. I had found a perfect doctor. I wished Hubby was with me because I doubted he would believe this new magic cure. Dream doc ruined our perfect relationship when he added, “And you need to loose 20-30 pounds.”

He pointed to my “Seniorville 20” - the spare tire I put on around my waist this past year. He explained that the weight dangles from my hips like a lead weight and strains my disks, especially when I exercise or tie my shoelaces.

I think next time my back is in spasm, I’ll go back to my old doctor. His spare tire is bigger than mine is.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Case of the Passover Potato

If you know the story of Passover, skip to the second paragraph. If not, read this paragraph first. Passover is the Jewish Holiday when the elders in the family retell the Biblical story of Exodus to the guests gathered around the table. The process of telling the story is called a Seder, and unless you are very Orthodox and don’t deviate from the “script,” each family has their own traditions when it comes to conducting the Seder and the specific recipes used for various traditional foods served. The Exodus story is told in two parts – before and after a huge holiday meal. Foods used to represent various aspects of the story are pictured in many editions of the Hagaddah, the book that contains the story. One ritual is the use of a small dipping bowl filled with salt water to represent the tears of the slaves. Green vegetables are to be dipped into the water so all those hearing the story can be reminded of the tears the Israelites shed while they were slaves. The dipping part occurs almost at the outset of the 1-5 hour Seder – the length depending on the traditions of each family and how many details of the Passover story they retell. And now to my anecdote.

When I was little, I was always confused because my grandmother used a boiled potato for the green vegetable we dipped into the salt water. My Hagaddah had a picture of parsley for the green vegetable, yet I placed a potato in my bowl of salt water before eating it. I was glad we had the potato instead of parsley because that tasted yucky when raw.

My mother and aunts continued to serve the potato at their Seders after my grandmother passed away. The first time I shared the Passover holiday with non-immediate relatives was after I was married and moved to Florida. It was then I learned that all my new Floridian Jewish friends served a real green vegetable – usually celery or parsley. No one ever heard of serving a potato for a green vegetable. Curious me phoned my older sister who was then living in D.C. I asked why our family used potatoes, and she explained with complete authority that “Grandpa and Nanny were from Poland and they probably had no fresh green vegetables to serve during Passover – it was still winter. They probably used the potato as a substitute and continued the tradition in this country.”

Her answer made sense. And since it was my job to peel the potatoes and my average Seder had 20-30 people, I felt no guilt in messing with my Nanny’s Passover menu if it meant less work for me. I stopped serving potatoes and started serving celery. Unlike my mother and grandmother, I had no help in the kitchen while preparing all the other foods to be eaten. My brother, who flew down from NY with his family for the holiday, complained bitterly that I was not respecting a family tradition. I told him if he wanted potatoes, he was welcome to peel them and wash the pot after they were cooked. That incident occurred about 35 years ago, but his wife still serves the potato at their Seders.

Last week, my cousin, 7 years my senior, informed me that my sister was wrong. First she reminded me that my grandmother came to this country as a toddler and my grandfather was around 14 – which blew my sister’s Poland theory of what my grandparents served in Poland. Then my cousin explained that my grandmother served the potato because all the men (usually 5-7)) were coming to the Seder from work and were hungry. She wanted to fill them up so they wouldn’t be cranky from hunger after a day’s work and would be able to “last” until the meal was served – at least an hour after the dipping in the salt water ritual. (In those days guests would not dare to tell the Seder leader to read faster because they were hungry.) My cousin then told me she hasn’t served potatoes in years – she places a plate of cut up vegetables for her guests to dip and nibble until the meal.

I repeated this story to a friend. She said, “Okay, then why did my grandmother serve the potatoes?”

Probably for the same reason as mine. Unfortunately, this is one question we can’t Google.