Tag Archives: mylife

manual override

I love coffee. I love it so much I make a pot of it every morning. But, I’m at war with coffee machines. I hate most electric drip coffee makers because they are big, bulky and expensive. They never get the coffee hot enough and no matter how much money you spend on them, after two years they all either start leaking or stop working all together. Having to replace an appliance, especially an expensive appliance, every two years makes me very angry because I really dislike shopping and spending money. I hate shopping more than I hate being ripped off.  
wait. same thing.

a little historical interlude…
Growing up, my family mostly made coffee on the stove with a percolator-type coffee pot. Somehow, my mother, aunts, and grandmothers were able to make really good coffee out of these always boiling over pots and cans of stale ground supermarket coffee. Also, since I’m from an Italian family, we all had those little stovetop espresso pots that made tiny amounts of espresso, but that’s a different story and anyway, we only made espresso when important company came over.

Since we’ve lived in this house, I’ve gone through three or four coffee machines. The first expensive one was a Cuisinart, which after two years just stopped working for no reason. Got up, ground the coffee, filled the machine, turned it on and nada. Just sat there, staring at me as if I were invisible and not in great need. I cursed the machine, broke out mom’s old percolator, made coffee no where near as good as my mom’s, drank it, cursed some more, and went out and bought another coffee maker of the same brand but better (we’re talking around $200). Since the reviews for this machine were good, and it did make a good tasting cup of joe, I figured the first machine was a lemon.

Two years, almost to the day, with no warning that things were not going well, the 200 dollar machine turned it’s back on me and quit making coffee. This time I break out the french press and say, “Fuck you machine, I will not buy you again.” But then my sister came to live with us and brought her even bigger, better, and more expensive coffee machine, which was not yet two years old. Shortly afterwards, her bigger, better, more expensive, now definitely two year old machine started leaking. A lot. My sister hates french press coffee, so I went to K-Mart and bought a cheapo Mr. Coffee drip coffeemaker. Not the most cheapo one, but the middish cheapo one for just under $50.  It’s been about three or four years (cheaper lives longer) of drinking not so great coffee out of a leaky pot, but I’m too cheap to buy a better pot every two years.

But, the leakage is now so bad that I spend half the morning mopping up after the damned thing. So, that’s it — I’m done with these stupid machines that just want to suck the money and life out of me. Instead, I have decided to resurrect my mother’s old “dripolator” style coffee pot that is actually kinda retro-cool looking.  I think she got it when I was about 3 or 4 years old (hardly ever used it because, well, the percolator) so that definitely qualifies as retro. Maybe even antique. Anyway, here’s a pic:

coffee pot

My mom’s “American Stainless Kitchen Thermalloy” drip coffee pot from mid-1950s

The pot has two chambers. The top has a compartment to hold the grounds. It has a fine mesh screen and also an inner lid to keep the grounds in the chamber. You pour the water in the top which then slowly drips through the ground’s chamber and into the bottom. Because it’s all steel, it can be set on a burner set to low to keep the coffee hot.

Pictures of the innards:
drip coffee pot



This pot makes the best tasting coffee I’ve had in quite a while. And the coffee is HOT. I forgot how good HOT coffee is since the stupid drip machines can never get the coffee hot enough. The only down side to this pot is that it only can make six cups at a time. Considering the size of mugs (does anyone drink coffee in the old little coffee cups anymore?), that’s not enough for three people who habitually drink 2 mugs each in the morning.  So I’m going to need to figure out some way to make more than that without dumping and regrinding more coffee beans. Maybe just topping off the old ones after pouring a couple cups and running a bit more water through? An experiment will commence tomorrow morning.

Right now, I’m drinking tea.


suddenly, the world moved over here

well, not the whole world, just the small part of my world that was on livejournal.

There was no real reason for this move except that I haven’t bothered posting publicly on Livejournal for quite a while. No real reason for that either. I just lost the habit I suppose. And then I got notification of the yearly fee for my journal and well, since I’m hardly ever using it anymore, it seemed reasonable to do something else. So this is something else. WordPress seems like a decent blogging atmosphere and somehow more “grown up” than LJ. Plus it has a nice import feature that enabled me to get my stuff from LJ copied here. Nice feature!

I’m hoping to talk more about art, wildlife and nature in general and maybe not so much about the personal stuff that seemed to makeup the bulk of what’s over at Livejournal (but, ya never know, at least I don’t).

A few things happening now that I’d like to share….

My husband, his friend A.C. Wise and I have put together a new online magazine called The Journal of Unlikely Entomology of which the first issue has garnered some rather nice comments.

We created the journal to be “a new literary market for fiction that delves into the world of things that creep and crawl and explores the limits of what it means to be human” (from the about page). The Journal will be published biannually in May and November, with the possibility of an additional “roving mini-issue” some time during the year. There’s also a blog associated with it, Grump’s Journal, if you are interested in finding out more about the contributing authors and artists. The blog will include announcements, calls for submissions as well as guest bloggers.


Today is the opening of The Wayne Art Center’s student show, in which I have one small sculpture. I’ve included a picture of it below…but if you are local to the area, please drop by the center and take a look at all the works. There are a lot of very talented people working at the center, and the gallery space at the center is really quite nice.

anyone care to venture an interpretation?

of this spread…My question was how will this thing end with my dad — I’m facing going to court with the landlord who wants to hold me to an entire year’s lease.

cards from 1-10 are:

Ten of Wands-reversed
King of Wands
The Tower
Six of Wands
Queen of Wands-reversed
Eight of Cups
The Emperor
The Fool
Eight of Coins-reversed
Ten of Cups

So, have fun with my life!

eta: westlinwind asked me to pull another card to cover/clarify the eight of cups. The card was the Five of Swords.

the best year ever

I’m happy this year is almost over. To end the year less than auspiciously, the following has occurred in the past couple weeks:

i lost my good glasses. the expensive ones that actually looked ok on me and were so light they felt like a kiss on my nose.

i broke my camera lens. the automagic one that worked for most everything. it no longer zooms.

my back is even more broken than it was before the cortisone shots. my advice: don’t get cortisone shots in your spine. they make you older.

i found out that no matter how well you think you know someone, they can always surprise you, and not necessarily in good ways.

So, I end my year unable to read without a yard long arm, unable to record the big picture, bent over, and with fewer friends. There are lessons here, I just don’t feel like sorting them. I do know that this has not been my best year. In fact, it’s hovering down at the bottom of the heap with 1989 when my mom died and 1977 when my world broke into bits and I lost it all.

Recently, someone told me that I need to declare next year, “the best year of my life.” She read this in a book, I think by the same name. I’m dubious about this sort of declaring of things. It’s possible that to declare something to be the best or the most beautiful or the *est of anything, you could be limiting all the rest to a lesser place. You may end up having a terrible year and that year, being declared the best, will be the benchmark for all the rest–past and present. So, if something wonderful were to happen, since you’ve already had the best, it would be doomed to dim to something less. Or that perfectly poignant thing that happened long ago would be tarnished, not by age, but by a misapplied word.

I find this sort of thing disconcerting and dangerous and I don’t think I’ll be declaring anything in advance. In fact, I won’t be declaring anything after the fact either. I think I’ll just let it be what it is and let the future unfold as it will, maybe even with a surprise or two.

At any rate, I’m not hoping for the best or fearing the worst. I’d kinda like things to just end up even.


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spelling, time, travel and the meaning of life

spelling is one of those things i have managed to get compulsive about…spelling, grammar, punctuation. i kid myself that my obsession comes from the fact that i work in the field of higher education but the real reason is that i’m insecure, have an alarming lack of self-esteem and i am incredibly adept in the art of worry.

you wouldn’t think this with the lack of capitalization and the overuse of ellipses wouldja? well, i do this on purpose. it has, in a way, become my convention (one that i’m slowly abandoning, but i’ll leave that for another time). years ago, when i first got online, i found the politics list on a “board” at work. after posting awhile, i decided to dispense with caps. i have trouble with shyness and for some reason, typing in lower case made me feel less conspicuous. sure, i could pretend to be doing it out of some strange cosmic connection with ee cummings, but that would be a lie. i quickly realized there were others who did the same thing, but their reasons were different. one man did it because he was a programmer and he wanted everyone to know that. another woman did it because it was for her a sort of artistic expression of defiance. and brni typed in lower case also. after all these years, i admit i don’t know why he typed this way, but it was our first discernible link to each other. maybe he’ll tell me why after he reads this.

i also decided to type as i speak because i was (and still am) very self-conscious of my writing ability. i don’t feel i have a natural talent for it. i agonize over words, sentence structure, spelling mistakes, commas, semi-colons, parenthesis, nested parenthesis, and just exactly when the question mark falls inside or outside the quotation mark. typing as you speak is a great excuse to misspell on purpose…didja, owell, ack, argh, ya’all, whodathunkit, etc. it’s better than artistic license and it makes people think you are savvy in the ways of the internet….one of the “ins” of the internet.


i still have trouble. it’s ok when i misspell on purpose, but only when it’s OBVIOUS that it’s on purpose. when it just happens…when it’s a mistake, i feel like crawling into a hole and not even peeking out to see who noticed. it’s not so bad when there’s an editing function as with livejournal, but omygod, if i send off an email and there’s a spelling mistake, or godforbid a mistake in grammar, i feel that i should send off an apology… an errata…and in fact, i’m sorry to say, i have done so.


i am actively trying to remove this anal aspect from my personality, and not just about spelling. years ago it was all about time. i was always worried about being on-time and with the advent of digital clocks, things got totally out of hand. i was making myself and my family insane with worries of being late, not just by mere hours or minutes, but by seconds!


this couldn’t go on. i had to find a way to stop this. so, i devised a way to ween myself off of time. i began by removing my wristwatch on the weekends. no time-checking while not at work. this was MY time and it was important to just let time flow naturally without the artificial segmentation of it into hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds. and when the battery went dead i didn’t replace it. instead, i dug out my old wind-up watch and wore that at work. the watch was old-fashioned with roman numerals instead of arabic numbers and there was no second hand. i liked hearing the tick tock and knowing that when it was first wound up, it would count time faster, slowing down throughout the day until it stopped counting time altogether. for some reason, that was comforting. soon, i began saying things like, o, it’s about half past 8 instead of it’s 8:28 pm.

later, i started forgetting to wind the watch on mondays. then i started actively forgetting it on other days until i stopped wearing the watch altogether. ahhh…this was nice. time was free to move on it’s own without help from me.


even though i’m not wearing a watch on my body anymore, i still obsess about being late. i plan and plot out all sorts of things when i’m getting ready to take a trip…what time to get up, how much stuff to have packed and ready the night before, the day before, the week before. it goes on until i have to mentally bitch-slap myself out of it. to overcome this problem, i have instituted a method of inaction. i do not physically pack anything until the last minute (granted, my last minute is probably 12 hours before anyone else’s last minute, but hey, this is a process!). so, all the planning is going on behind the cranium, but the actual physical manifestation of getting ready just sort of floats out there in front of my third eye, palpable but untouched until compulsion loosens its death-grip around my throat. oyeah, this is all really really visceral for me. we are not talking philosophy here.

and then there is the problem of getting lost. planning must always factor in getting lost time. multiple maps and directions from various sources (mapquest, yahoo, AAA, better world club) are imperative to minimize getting lost time. still, a system must be in place to compute lost minutes-to-distance ratio. this usually results in showing up early which can be just as problematic, but much easier to deal with than being late. if you’re early you can simply pull over and sit for however many minutes it takes until you are on time.

but it really is getting better and i really am beginning to relax about time and being prepared for every little thing that could possibly happen on the way to wherever.

(and btw, i’m not at all convinced that time is linear, so obsessing over the minute by minute management of it might well be a a colossal waste of time, which makes this whole thing rather silly, no?)

so, back to spelling…

new rule: unless it’s for publication, i refuse to use spell checkers and i’m trying extremely hard to stay away from online dictionaries. it’s hard, but…spelling is not the measure of the quality of a thought, idea or opinion. a misplaced, dropped or transposed letter does not change the meaning of the thing. typos do not define the worth of a human being.

o, but even this is a problem. i hate rules and here i am making them so that i can live without them. heh. i’m sick of rules ruling my life, my actions, my very thoughts. why do we have so many rules? what are we afraid of? spontaneity? creativity? originality? mistakes? oyeah, baby! mistakes! not fitting in! BEING OUT THERE FOR ALL TO SEE AND DOING IT WRONG!


turns out, this is the easiest of all my obsessions to get rid of. i hate rules so much that i find a sweet, subversive delight in ignoring them. not breaking them so much, just paying them no-nevermind.

it might just be the fact that i’m getting older. i just don’t see the point in all the structure anymore. as gravity is breaking down my physical structure…bringing me literally (at least parts of me) closer to the earth, the source…grounding me…i find i have little time to indulge in these pointless obsessions. they are becoming mere annoyances and i’m becoming a bit more casual about many things. my interests are turning to broader things in nature, fluid things, invisible things, things with no straight edges or right angles. i’m hoping that one day all the lines will bend, angles will soften and i will become so careless about the everyday stuff in my everyday life that time will stretch forever and the meaning of life will reveal itself freely, without boundaries or rules to inhibit the joy of it all.

or maybe not.
who needs meaning anyway?
just let it be…

refreshing bits

Every three years Villanova “refreshes our pc’s.” Refresh, as you may have guessed is their euphemism for replace. Why they have to rename replace refresh is something that only a true alliterist can figure out. I think maybe it makes people running departments feel special.


It’s a rather daunting undertaking considering how many faculty and staff are employed here. UNIT (UNiversity Information Technologies) started coordinating with departments many months ago, sending out broadcasts over email, voice-mail and even paper charts and such for us to indicate what we had and what we needed. This month they started the actual replacement procedures and have been conducting 2 classes a day on all the new software, applications and features. They even have a FAQ page on the web where they post glitches, bugs and work-arounds. One lovely woman updates this FAQ every evening as refreshing new problems and fixes are reported.

I must say, they’ve come a long way over the years. I lobbied for two years before I was given my first computer in 1990. I was extremely excited when Greg showed up with my beige 8088 IBM with a 20MB hard drive and a 2400 baud modem which I had to plug into the phone jack to check my email. I had a 12″ monitor with an amber display, a keyboard and a dot matrix printer. Greg from UCIS (which is what UNIT used to be called before they refreshed their name) came over, set up the computer, gave me my new email address (saboe@vuvaxcom.bitnet) and told me to have at it. “Where’s the manual?” I naively asked. “Manual? There’s no manual.” “How do I learn how to use the computer?” I asked, feeling dumber than I look. “You play,” Greg laughed and then left. This was the extent of Villanova’s user support at the time.

I doggedly poked at the keyboard until things happened. I asked people how they did whatever it was they did, learned how to use Dos, figured out that the black screen was where you actually started typing in WordPerfect and learned how to use Kermit to get into my email. I wrote the first unofficial email user’s manual for anyone on campus who was interested. The guys from UCIS asked me for copies to give out to people. I think I still have a copy of that manual somewhere in my desk. I learned much by typing the word “send” over bitnet to “talk” to distant friends and even participated in a remote internet demonstration without my prior knowledge or consent or that of the presenter….but that’s another story.

So today, I have been given a shiny new Dell computer. Because I do a lot of graphics for the library, I was given Option 2. Option 2 has a faster processor, 74 gig hard drive and 512 mb of ram. I connect to the network over a 100Mbps connection and my 19″ monitor has millions of colors besides amber. Option 2 is a tad faster opening Photoshop, but not by a lot. A few of us are going to lobby for more ram as soon as the virtual dust clears.

I’m old enough to be astounded by the changes and the fact that all the speed, space and memory available now never seems to be enough. Every now and then I google “bit.listserv.politics” just to poke around and read the posts from the old politics list I used to run. When I’m feeling really old, I just pull the book, The Internet Starter Kit for MacIntosh that Adam and Bill wrote, off the shelf and read the contributions my friends and I wrote for the first edition. Our pieces were on the order of “how has the internet changed my life?” It really did change our lives in many ways. We grew, exchanged information and ideas, formed friendships and even married people we never would have had occasion to meet if it wasn’t for those connecting bits and packets that I used to love to watch hop from Villanova to Princeton to Towson to…

ahhh…how I miss the old days of bitnet…when the internet and life itself was a bit more refreshing.

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