Monkey-Mind Stress & A No-Monkey Business

fuscia1Hey there! It’s been quite a long while since I’ve had the pleasure of posting anything worth a smile. Not that I’ve been unhappy, but wow, what a year of crazy bumps from one direction to the next with a jungle of surprises around every corner!  I’ll spare you the details and just say that the cup of life had been running over. Much like the fuchsia that hangs in my kitchen, with dripping blossoms that too soon fall to the floor and wait for me to sweep up – so pretty, yet I rebel, “how much is enough “pretty”?

So, I’ve been working on resolving a bad case of “monkey-mind“.  Too much on the brain makes one insane.  I don’t know if that’s a cliche’, but it should be. Sometimes the wheel begins to spin a little too fast in my world, and even though there’s nothing to really complain about, being overwhelmed – good or bad – can be stressful. So, I’ve returned to a daily 20 minutes of yoga and meditation.  I think it’s working. Look! I’m blogging. 🙂

In my last post, I was still recuperating with a broken leg. I’m thankful it all healed well, but by the time I was able to put my leg to use, the city began construction, replacing sewer lines in my neighborhood, and hope was lost for even a brief jaunt to the grocery store in daylight. Fortunately, I work from a home office, so getting to work wasn’t the issue, but getting the work done to the tune of jack hammers, chain saws and heavy equipment was more distracting than trying to relax in a tree full of chattering monkeys. No way could I comfortably write a friendly blog post without relating a few unkind words about my sudden unfortunate situation. It was the summer of hell, to say the least.

roadAs seen in these images, each morning (left) the machines rolled in and dug out the street so the work could continue, and then each evening (right) they’d fill it in again. The non-stop thunderous rumbles, beeps and bangs, while the house vibrated with every bucket drop and roller tamper, drove my patience to the brink. I dashed around the house anchoring every piece of porcelain in its place with poster putty, trying to stay calm, even as I heard bathroom tiles fall into the tub and storm windows fly out of the frames. I endured the misery, hanging on to hope that the noisy chaos would put an end to the mopleakage of mucky water I’d been mopping up in the basement every Spring – then the noise and confinement would be well worth it.  Indeed, this Spring’s thaw brought not a drop rolling down the brick foundation! I did a happy dance with the dry mop and sang a heartfelt “halleluiah!”

During the winter months, I had become overly occupied by a slew of little obligations, as well as new writing responsibilities. Most of my work day is now spent at EmbroideryDesigns.com where I’m happy to be a part of a great support team.  The daily exchange of information with both industry folks and hobbyists never fails to solve puzzles and teach me something new. It then becomes fodder for articles at EmbroideryDesigns.com’s Learning Center.  And the projects I create and post about on my work blog, Stitch and Craft are also an enjoyable task, causing the hours to pass much too quickly.

So, you see, I have been writing, but I’ve missed blogging in my “break room” where I can toss my personal two stitches into the world. Writing keeps my stress factor down – almost as well as lavender, yoga and meditation.  So does food.  Well, the right foods anyhow, and in small frequent meals. Unfortunately, during the past year’s distractions, I ignored the rules I’m to live by. I stuffed myself with momentary good-feeling morsels and neglected the necessities that set my digestive system off on an uncontrollable tangent.

Yeah, that’s what happens in the golden years – your body starts making demands and takes control of that “I’ll-eat-whatever-I-please-and-to-hell-with-nutrition” attitude. On the bright side, I no longer stress over dieting, because if I stick to the health rules, I’m not pillsallowed to count calories or skip meals. Now it’s all a matter of counting vitamins, minerals and glasses of water while timing small numerous portions by the hour. I’ve always known the science to healthy eating, but I must give it keen attention in my old-er age, because if I choose to ignore it, there are physical repercussions. So, I do the list of “14 Foods That Fight Inflammation”  and when I fall short, I reach for the appropriate bottle kept handy on my desk – a display that often provokes the question, “Got pills?”  But snarkiness aside, I’d have to eat twice as much food to get what I get in a few pills everyday, and considering I’m not on the skinny side, it’s a good thing.

Farming Scene by Concord Collections – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I also have been busy this last year, reducing one of the biggest stress inducers I’ve ever experienced – business. First, to clarify any misunderstanding caused by previous statements made here and on other social media, I did not retire from work or stop digitizing, but I did retire my custom digitizing services. I’ve found that “un-marketing” is a feat to be extremely difficult after an online presence of over two decades. Okay, so I have only been one tiny pea in the embroidery pea field, but as the only pea in my pod, I’ve been one helluva busy pea.

No matter how small the business, and no matter how many newfangled things they come up with to help operate one, I’ve come to this conclusion: running a business totally solo without delegating anything is certainly possible, but it’s borderline insane. During buzy-ness you have many responsibilities. During slow-downs, you have the same responsibilites, as well as those you didn’t get done during the buzy-ness. It’s tough to fit in personal time if you don’t choose to hire help. You at least need a monkey – you know, someone who will listen while you plan your week’s agenda or bring you a banana when you need one.

So, to aid in un-marketing, I’ve temporarily closed my web site while I review and revamp, and currently my business domain names are parked at my personal “name domain”.  I will continue to digitize the occasional stock design and deliver private orders while decisions are being made about a new site for Moonlight Design, but until then, in reference to my no-monkey business, I can only say, “to be continued”.

stitches-coverstoryQuoting industry veteran and master digitizer, Steve Freeman of Qdigitizing, who noted in “Back from the Brink”, June’s cover story, pg. 40, in Stitches Magazine, “Sometimes you have to recognize when enough is enough in order to reinvent yourself.”

I suppose that’s what has come about as I’ve tried to un-market, shrink back and just be.  I’m reinventing myself while being content that I remain a part of the embroidery industry.  I will also continue to pop in now and then at Stitches with a bit of “Punching Sense” or whatever else I can offer. Right now, I’m gearing up to participate again as a digitizing judge for this year’s competition and the excitement is building! Do not hesitate to participate in this one, kids – first price is a Melco single-head!

On a closing stitch, to those who are curious, I hope to not let another year go by without posting. I’ve come to the conclusion that venting my two stitches reduces stress – and I’m going with the assumption that working at stress reduction is a lot less chaotic than living with a monkey. Alas, God bless Jane Goodall.

monkey

Baby Chimp by Ace Points – EmbroideryDesigns.com

 

Rescuing a Critter and the Word “Digitize”

treeIn November, one of our cats discovered an unexpected house guest who had bedded for the winter in a potted plant we had brought in for the winter two months before. I was stretched out on the couch with my fractured leg propped up, when I noticed Peter’s gaze, his head motionless and his eyes glued to the plants that are in front of the window. Something definitely had his attention.

Suddenly, he jumped from the top of the couch – his throne, as we call it – and came to an abrupt halt in front of the the plants; his nose daring to sniff at something. I considered it might be a mouse – not an impossibility, but a rarity in a house with three cats, so considering I was in no shape to rise and investigate, I told myself it was just a spider, turning my attention back to the movie running on my Kindle Fire. Through my peripheral vision, I saw his Edward Scissorhands paw reach up slowly, tap gently on the side of one of the pots, much too close to my late aunt’s antique lace curtains. “Nooo!” I scolded, and sat straight up, enduring the sharp pain that shot through my knee, while the Kindle slid to the floor with a thud.  Peter didn’t budge.  Unusual.  Any ding-dong, bang or whistle normally sends him running to his haven under the bed.

But Peter wasn’t attacking as he would a mouse, so it had to be something he found pretty darn curious. Now, I didn’t much care that he was at play with a bug, and would have actually appreciated his effort to send whatever it was to the next world, but the thought of shredded lace was quite upsetting.  I summoned The Man from his Cave.

“A baby toad,” my hubby announced, stretching out his hand to show me thetoad gray, warted little beast.  Don’t get me wrong, I like toads. They keep my veggie garden free of nasty bugs.  But I did not want a toad living in my house!  I looked out the window at the snow falling and back at the helpless critter curled up to the size less than a silver dollar in Kevin’s large palm, obviously too weak to be frightened.  It wasn’t the toad’s fault, really.  I should have run a pencil through the soil of the pot before bringing it inside.  And it’s not like we didn’t have the equipment to offer temporary shelter, having had our share of turtles and lizards (Kevin has a thing for amphibians).  Then I saw the plea in his eyes when he promised, “Just until Spring.”    Geez.   Okay, I gave in, but only if we agreed it was not a pet and it would not get named.  So, he brought out the lizard tank and made a trip to the local pet shop for a few dozen baby crickets.

After about a month I noticed the toad was a little greener some days than others, its eyes were getting bulgy and its legs seemed to stretch out quite long.  Even the tiny warts on its head seemed to flatten and raise again with darker spots coming and going, as well.  One morning, we found it looking very green in one of several puddles on the floor.  No doubt it had made quite a splash when it somehow pushed open the tank lid and escaped with a giant leap to the neighboring, topless, 55-gallon aquarium for a midnight swim.  Okay, probably not a toad, but definitely an amphibian.

PaddyKevin secured the lid and to appease the little critter we put a bigger pool in its tank, replacing the mayonnaise jar top with a recycled frozen dinner dish. It immediately took a swim and jumped to the side of the tank.    Wait a minute.  Do frogs stick to glass like that?    Then I got a good look at its toes – or perhaps “pad-like suction cups” is a better description.  A quick search at some of the web sites where I’d been surfing for emergency amphibian care revealed that the yellow stripes on its legs clarified it was a Minnesota Tree Frog – a species that has warts and changes color almost like a chameleon.  It’s important to know whether it is a toad, a frog or a tree frog to give it proper care.  Although they are all amphibians, they each need a little something that the other doesn’t and if I’m not careful, this rescueTreeFrog operation could turn deadly.  So after four months of calling it “the toad” we began annoying each other with continuous corrections or we would sputter out, “the toad … uh, frog … er, tree … that dang critter in the tank!”

And that brings me to my two stitches for this post:  

I am a digitizer.   I am not a digitalizer.   To digitize is to create a derivative via technology.  To digitalize is to administer digitalis or digoxin.  (Do not ask me to do any digitalizing for you.  I might kill you.)

There is a growing acceptance of using the word digitalize in place of digitize and it has even become the #2 meaning in some dictionaries.  I suppose it’s because everything has gone “digital” in today’s world.  Look up digitalizing or its base word of digitalis and you’ll find a slew of explanations from its original floral reference to the name of a recording studio.  Look up digitize (or digitise, as it’s spelled across the pond) and it has one precise technological meaning.

It’s my observation that the world trends with whatever is most commonly used, I suppose because it becomes tiring and seemingly rude to correct folks.  It’s one thing to not offend a customer, but it’s another to ignore the misuse stated by an industry professional.  While a novice in this industry, I referred to a Melco Digitrac as a “digitalis”, to the repeated frustration of my boss, so I’m not innocent of that error and certainly not trying to judge.  But for the sake of clarity, I’d like to encourage the experienced to kindly correct the newbie.  Don’t let it just slide by.  Maybe my personal plea is a battle I’ll lose in years to come, but eventually, I hope folks will see the value of sustaining a word with one precise meaning and the nonsense of using one with multiple meanings, as well as more syllables than necessary.

In my opinion, if one has trouble getting it right, the word “punching” would be the appropriate alternative.  Although it, too, has many other different meanings, it is quite acceptable, because punching tapes to create an embroidery design was the original method; hence, the original appropriate terminology.

That’s exactly how we are settling our current problem when referring to the critter residing in the lizard tank.  It just seemed to need a word with less syllables than “the tree frog” – a simple, yet more appropriate, word to eliminate confusion (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).  Kevin has named it “Paddy”.     Is it Spring yet? 

Digitized by Oklahoma Embroidery - EmbroideryDesigns.com

Digitized by Oklahoma Embroidery – EmbroideryDesigns.com

 

Good Intentions – Dusty, Hoppy Endings

by Concord Collections – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with family and friends! Personally, I ate a scrumptious plate of turkey, with all the fixin’s that my husband handed to me when he returned from his family’s dinner. There I sat in the middle of the kitchen on one of my office chairs, devouring every little morsel, deeply grateful and not even noticing that dear hubby had dashed down the stairs to the Man Cave to get his football fill; nor did I care that the three cats were circling around me, hoping for a share. Ah, yes, exciting as it does not sound, it truly was a grateful moment for me!

Now, I know that might sound a bit odd, so let’s back up a few days to the previous Sunday. It was a glorious morning. I felt great and eager with a well thought-out plan. By golly, this Thanksgiving Eve was not going to be a terror trying to get things done! I was determined to get the house cleaned, bake a few goodies and maybe even put up the Christmas tree – something I normally don’t do till December, but since it fit on the agenda, why not?!

I finished a brief, early morning shift as customer service rep for EmbroideryDesigns.com, and closed the office door with a to-do list in my hand. First on the list was to fetch my grandmother’s holiday dishes she used for cookies down from a top shelf. I recently acquired them after finding them on Ebay (among those finds I previously blogged about). I climbed up one step of the step stool, found the dishes and set them on the counter. Then I noticed what appeared to be the top of a salt shaker that had been lost for years and took another step up to get a better look. Cool! I grabbed the silver top, along with a few plastic straws that didn’t belong there and descended by taking one step back down.

The straws flew from my hands; one straw landing inside one of the toaster slots and I immediately worried that hubby may have just used that for one of his favorite breakfasts of French Toast Bagels. But thoughts of a melted plastic mess disappeared, while an excruciating pain shot from my heal to thigh, forcing my knee to buckle.

With my right leg still in the air, my body came down in what felt like slow motion, while a million thoughts raced through my head. No! Don’t break the fall with my hand and arm! I don’t want another shoulder wound! Last time it took almost two years of diligent Yoga to heal – I couldn’t type, I couldn’t digitize, I couldn’t do anything without pain. Think! what to do? The answer came from somewhere in the recesses of my mind, stored from a 1960s gymnastics class.Tuck and roll!

Well, I couldn’t completely tuck, and rolling was certainly out of the question, but I managed to bring my head down and pulled both folded arms inward to my chest. The outside of my right shoulder hit the linoleum with a THUMP!! and my right leg hit the stool, which toppled to the side with a crash, coming to rest on the left leg. I heard the silver shaker top bounce on the floor and land – somewhere. I listened to the reverberating tinkle as it came to a stop, and then I zeroed in on my shoulder. Immediately, I began to massage it with a little prayer, and after a few seconds realized no pain. Whew! Lucked out!  I then decided it best to lay still a minute to be sure and rested my cheek on the floor. Oh, geeez, look at all the cat hair and kitty nibbles under the counter cabinets – I’ll tackle that later. Now, where did that shaker top go?

by Embroidery Patterns – EmbroideryDesigns.com

I turned in the direction of where I’d heard the shaker top drop, getting as far as laying on my back. Check: back is okay. I tried to move my left leg that was now trapped under the stool, and let out one helluva yowl. Egad! The possibility of a broken lower limb had not crossed my mind. Maybe it’s just bruised. I pried the stool up with my right foot and wriggled away, as a sharp pain raced upward, closing my left eye and then the right. Anger exploded.  Nooooo! Dammit!  I had also just recovered after limping for a year with broken toes on this same leg that then put stress on the other leg, causing my PAD to flair. After heeding to a healthy diet and Yoga, I had just gotten to where I was finally walking on two legs again and feeling spiffy.

I tried to calm down, acknowledging that anger can make one sick; while on the other side of things, gratitude induces healing.  As well, smiling has its benefits, even if pried by a pencil clenched sideways in the mouth. … sigh … well, it was a nice last few months of balanced walking, thank you God; at least I’m used to this. I smiled, teeth clenched.

Obviously, I wasn’t going anywhere, yet – not in a vertical position, anyhow. Just a little traumatized and likely bruised, but I better get Kevin to help me up. I wonder where he is. Surely he felt the house shake when I hit the floor!  I gave a shout to dear hubby who, as usual, was downstairs in his Man Cave watching football (something he loves more than life itself, but I knew that going in.) I’ll rest a minute and I’m sure he’ll be up at the end of the play. And as long as I’m down here, I can check around for that shaker top. Holy cow, the bottoms of the stove and fridge really need scrubbing!

Not seeing the shaker top and getting tired of staring at the red dots of some sort of food that somehow ended up on the ceiling, I gave another shout for help. Maybe he’s napping. Well, I can’t lay here all day. I propped myself up on one elbow and reached up to the counter, dragging the wounded leg – smiling, teeth clenched, eyes shut. I managed to get up on my right knee when the pain produced a loud, angry, guttural scream, followed by, “Where are you, you son of a … no … now, don’t get angry Bonnie, this is your own fault, so chill.”

As I returned to the floor I opened my eyes to look at what was making my hand stick to the side of the counter. Chocolate milk. HA! And he said he cleaned that mess up.

I decided to make my way to a kitchen chair, crawling like GI Jane, dragging one leg, grunting with each “step” forward. (What is it about grunts that just seem to help?) By the time I got there I realized I couldn’t get myself up on the chair alone.  What to do?   If I headed for the living room couch, I’d never get up again and I had work to do, so I figured if I’m going to get on any chair, it best have wheels on it.  I slithered on down to my office at the end of the hall, looked inside and realized no way was it possible to get one of those chairs out through the narrow paths between desks without lifting them.   This sucks.   And good grief! Look at those dusty cobwebs between the two desks where all the peripheral cables are tucked!    Hey, there’s that pen I was looking for!

I crawled back down the hall to the sewing room where two other mobile chairs resided and opened the door to see the big box of Christmas ornaments I’d brought upstairs earlier. I also noticed the sun streaking in right down upon six cones of thread that I was using on my last project and had neglected to put back on the shelf. Oh my, that’s not good, but I can’t do anything about it now. I can’t get past this blasted box!   I started to cry.  And then, because I’ve never been a whiner, another loud scream of total frustration.  Wait!  I saw the floor vent at the end of the hall.  I crawled nearer to the vent, yelling for Kevin as loud as I could – and whispered a few expletives.

by Digital Giggle – EmbroideryDesigns.com

Through the cross-hatched metal I could see him in front of his computer, playing Texas Hold ‘Em and I could clearly hear the football game on TV. Intensely staring at the monitor, he began to smile and his right fist came up with a shout, “Royal Flush!” His head jerked up to view the TV and his left fist came up, and with both fists pumping he shouted “YEAH!! Touchdown!!”

Oh lordy. I’m about to really crap on his day.

I sat up and leaned against the wall. Check: I can sit, no problem.  But I refuse to sit in this hallway till the end of his games!    Look at that track of dust that the vaccuum misses along the floor boards!    Suddenly I pondered the cost of contracting a “help-I-can’t-get-up service” but quickly banished the idea. I don’t need that yet –do I? Well, I can’t afford it anyhow.  I took off my right shoe and started banging on the floor vent. Kevin turned down the TV volume and finally heard my plea, rushing to my rescue with a worried expression. Oh, he does care. Now, don’t get snarky, at least not till you’ve got your butt in that chair.

He brought the chair out to the hallway, and then asked if I broke anything while lifting me with his hands placed under my arms. The seat of that chair was so very close, when he suggested, “See if you can put any weight on it.” So, I did. And when the pain shot from toes to nose, my knee buckled and I screamed.  He backed away.  I dropped to the floor.  I looked up at him with that expression of what the hell is wrong with you?  He shrugged apologetically, saying, “I thought I hurt you.”

Go figure … must be the crashing rush from winning games to a sadness when realizing I wouldn’t be making cookies. “Just hold the chair still, no matter how loud I scream,” I demanded, making a painful climb into the chair.

He then insisted on X-rays, which I put off until the next evening after finding that even with the help of the R.I.C.E. treatment I couldn’t ignore the pain while trying to work. Our little journey to the clinic could take another blog post to write, so I’ll brief it up to no fractures, perfect blood pressure and no sign of arthritis in the knee – a plus report for the money. But, unfortunately, I indeed bruised and ripped something and wouldn’t be walking for awhile.

Thanksgiving dinner in my house, of course, was cancelled, but thanks-giving was not. By Thursday, I had become so very grateful for so many things – a verdict of no broken bones and no need to miss work, a couch that I could comfortably sleep on next to my laptop and a cordless phone, a bathroom so small that I can use the vanity counter and the towel rack to hop to the important place, a dust pan and brush set and a Swiffer brush in every room, chairs on wheels, an excuse to not do heavy housework, a mother-in-law who’s kind enough to send me delicious food including cookies made during their family tradition, a husband who has made sure my office coffee pot is ready to go before he leaves for work, a porcelain Christmas tree light of my grandmother’s (another Ebay find) to light my way in the dark, while offering a little cheer, and (perhaps from the help of Vicodin) many things to smile about. I even found that little silver shaker top (again) in one corner when sweeping up the kitty nibbles.

Yep, as I sat there on the office chair, eating my Thanksgiving meal with my fur family, laughing about my stupid move of not thinking before stepping, I acknowledged things could have been much worse. I concluded that life is perhaps a bit dusty, but very, very good, for which I am very, very thankful. 🙂

Inspiration in the Woods

© 2012 B. Landsberger“Look deep, deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything.” – Albert Einstein

During sunny seasons I want to lay in a patch of violets and clover, look up through the trees at the blue sky and watch puffy, white clouds float by. But I know better. My allergy problems are so unpredictable during the warmest seasons and I’ve had to accept that “smelling the roses” is not always the wisest activity for me. I allow myself to get caught up in the daily indoor grind, while stifling the feeling of being cheated out of outdoor pleasures. It’s not until the temps drop to the 60s and leaves © 2012 B. Landsbergermorph from the deepest greens to earth tones of orangey-reddish-browns that I’m pulled outside uncontrollably with the hope to find something remaining of Summer’s splendor.

Last week my big break finally arrived and I dashed out for a © 2012 B. Landsbergerwalk in the woods, camera in hand, hoping to capture the sustaining summery stuff. And indeed I found a few flowers, bees and a bunny or two that scattered faster than I could point and shoot. Startled by my rare presence in their domain, they sprang from under fallen branches and dove into the surrounding brush or below another pile of fallen branches. © 2012 B. Landsberger

© 2012 B. LandsbergerThe storms and flash floods in recent months have certainly made their mark. Splintered branches are dangling overhead, tethered by spiraling grape vines as thick as the branches they entwine. 

Many of the stately trunks bare scars that © 2012 B. Landsbergercause the mind’s eye to see faces with expressions frozen in time, revealing the pain endured when their branches were ripped away.  Their scars display the © 2012 B. Landsbergerstruggles that they had no other choice than to push through, and push they always do. I imagine it’s one reason they can survive for hundreds of years.

Some “tree expressions” take on a more extra terrestrial appearance after woodpeckers have their way, digging for bugs and creating coves perfect for winter nests – one of many ways Nature takes care of herself.

© 2012 B. Landsberger

Nothing goes to waste in Nature. That which falls to the forest floor is always put to good use as shelter for a variety of critters or it serves another purpose, as the fallen leaves that blanket the wild grasses, insuring the forest floor will return in Spring.

And there’s just something special © 2012 B. Landsbergerabout dead wood. Not one piece looks like the other; each with its own unique details of © 2012 B. Landsbergerlines and dots in a swirling grain of marbling tones.  I could meditate, ogling these images for hours, studying the shapes and flows of colors as the inspiration is absorbed.  It takes me on a non-drug induced, artistic high, reduces my stress factor, while at the same time, ideas are born … peaceful, yet motivating. And of course, I even ponder how these wonders might be digitized for embroidery or how to describe them in words. I find each piece of dead wood unique with a “story” that is incredibly fascinating.

So too is the bark of a living tree that continues to stretch and crack, evolving into vignettes of merging images only the mind’s eye can see.

© 2012 B. LandsbergerToo often I overlook the most brilliant beauty around me, believing if I don’t see what I yearn to see, then the beauty must not exist. But when I recognize the beauty that does exist – when I really look – it’s amazing!

“Look deep, deep deep into nature.”  What do you see?

[I see many things in the bark of this tree — turtles, faces, snakes, butterflies, Leprechauns, Angels, Jesus and more.]

all images © 2012 B.Landsberger ARR

Blog on Snooze

Absence makes the heart grow fonder … right?

Recent months have been just too impacted with this and that, making for very little blog time. Seems it’s when I have so many things to chat about that I don’t have the time to get it written.

Such is life. I’ll be back soon. Till then, wishing you fun in the summer sun and many, many smiles!

Annoying Technology & Click Ripples

The last time I posted anything other than photos was the end of May and now it’s July. What happened to June?! Well, it certainly was a month to write about – quite eventful for me.  But I have to tuck most of those events and photos away as fodder for a number of future posts. Too many stories and too little room to cover it all in one post.  Besides, I’ve always found moving forward a much better idea.

That’s what I told myself when I realized technology had me by the consumer butt once again. I must move forward with technology. I was digging through the refurbs looking for an inexpensive replacement for my personal laptop and couldn’t find what I wanted;  The laptop I have still works just fine, but it’s mostly dedicated for graphics/photo use now and things are getting a bit cramped for writing.  I was in search of one with a WinXP OS because it’s not complicated and I’m happy with it, but it appears that it has become the new dinosaur in the refurbished choices, with Vista not far behind.

I often buy refurbished/recertified computers because I’ve found that they usually last at least as long as the 3-year expectancy of a new one, as well as the current operating system. It really makes no sense to me to buy new, especially for personal use, when a new one isn’t going to last any longer. When electronics are refurbished, they have simply switched out the bad part(s) and then they are tested and re-certified, bringing them back up to the manufacturer’s standards of new. Sometimes (though rarely) there’s a little cosmetic damage – a scratch here or ding there on the external case – but that’s okay. It saves me the pain that occurs when I make the first scratch myself.

I didn’t want Windows 7 even though it is supposedly faster, because WinXP and Vista are more familiar to me, and I’ve never believed either to be slow when properly maintained (delete the cookies and unnecessary files, and scan for bugs routinely).  I have noticed that Windows 7 loads a little faster, but I never thought WinXP or Vista to be slow.  (Why do people need to move in lightning swift blinks, anyhow?!  A brain should pause now and then.)  But there are very few computers available with anything lower than Windows 7 pre-installed, now that Windows 8 has been on the scene awhile.  Windows 8 appears to have been created with a focus on accommodating touchscreens – something I doubt I’ll ever have a use for on anything larger than my Kindle Fire screen.  But the way technology moves, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ll all be forced to use a touch screen eventually, with hand input peripherals antiquated. (Well maybe not.  Artists who are not fond of finger painting would rebel.)

I’ve had Windows 7 on one of my work computers for the last year and I’m just not fond of all the bells and whistles – a bunch of stuff to simply pretty up the view and frustrate the stitches out of me. When I decrease the size of a window and move it up close to the edge, I want it to stay small and out of the way – not blow up to cover the entire desktop. It might be a fast undo with a short slide of the stylus across the top bar, but it’s a stumble that drives me up the wall.  And when I pass the cursor over the top of a minimized window in the task bar, I don’t want to be startled by little windows popping up. Okay, I admit that one is a great feature at times when I need a lot of documents minimized, but that situation happens only for a brief time during my work day and usually never on my personal laptop.  …  So where, oh where, is the option to switch to Classic Windows?  Or is there one?

Well, there’s not much I can do about technology advancement – some is great, some is bad – but the continual change is annoying.  Right after I’ve learned something well enough, they just switch things up again. So, after searching through the refurbs at Tiger Direct, I gave into buying an HP with a Windows 7 OS for $299 (priced new at about $500). At least the price didn’t hurt, considering it included a 2.3 GHz Pentium processor, 320GB hard drive and 3 GB DDR3. It even has a web cam – though I’d only use it for Skype and only to call my son. (I do not want to spend an hour with hair and make up to call clients and I do not want to scare people.)

As well, it has a 64 bit processor. Now, I’ve been looking at that phrase “64 bit” for some time considering what that exactly meant for me. I know the advantages: increased memory support, enhanced security features and increased program performance (albeit only for those programs written for 64 bit). I’d never wanted a 64 bit, because it meant much of the old software I use couldn’t be installed without a lot of tweaking with new drivers and/or other adjustments as noted at Microsoft support:

What to consider when you install a 64-bit version of Windows Vista

64-bit device drivers may not be available for one or more devices in the computer.

Device drivers must be digitally signed.

32-bit device drivers are not supported.

32-bit programs may not be fully compatible with a 64-bit operating system.

It may be difficult to locate programs that are written specifically for a 64-bit operating system.

Not all hardware devices may be compatible with a 64-bit version of Windows Vista.”

But I decided that I shouldn’t find too many conflicts, because I won’t be installing anything except what I need for writing – Firefox for surfing, Thunderbird for email, both free from Mozilla, and the free download of Apache Open Office software. (No offense Microsoft, but I do not like you or your price.)

Now, if I could just disable the “pen feedback” to stop the “ripple effect” every time the stylus hits the Wacom Bamboo pad, I’d be ecstatic. Each click causes tiny little ripples that look like rain drops hitting the water surface – very annoying. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened on computers I have my design systems on.  (Thought of horror: digitizing between the ripples.)  I don’t like using a touch pad and I find using a mouse is like holding a potato, so after I had discovered the comfortable freedom when using a stylus for my digitizing, I installed a Wacom pad on every computer I use for any length of time during my day.  (And bye-bye carpal tunnel syndrome!)

In recent years, when click ripples first appeared on the screen of one of my PCs with Vista and then on another with Windows 7, I found a way to disable the pen feedback. I even blogged about how I fixed it, but the same directions I used then now disable the Wacom pad (something is different or else I’m missing something).  I’ve tried all the forum tips found online, but they appear to be outdated and those that are current are unanswered complaints, such as mine. I’ve heard it’s not a Wacom issue, but a conflict with the pad caused by Windows touch screen features, and at this point I’m not sure whose side of the fence the responsibility lies. (If you have the answer, please comment. The ripples are driving me mad!)

I’m wondering if an easy solution to this aggravating ripple feature (that no one seems to like) has been included in Windows 8. Perhaps, I need to consider taking advantage of the $14 upgrade I was offered from Windows to buyers of a computer with Windows 7 pre-installed. (I’d include the link, but apparently it’s only available currently via my purchase.) The offer is good thru January 31, 2013 so there’s plenty of time yet to find peace with Windows 7. Then again, it might be a good idea to keep moving forward – if I can keep frustration at bay.

For now, I think I’ll just send my complaints to My Granny Geek and then go find a happy place – somewhere very far away from dripping ripples.

Take a break – feel the ahhhhs …

I have so many things I’d love to blog about, and unfortunately, at the moment life is getting in the way of writing. But I won’t leave you with nothing. While watching a slide show of photos captured on a nature walk a couple weeks ago I decided, perhaps, it would be a good time to share a few in the “break room”.   … Enjoy

The purple phlox and yellow wildflowers are in full bloom, carpeting the woods in every spot where the rays of sun reach through the trees.Butterflies fluttered and danced from one blossom to the next in the warm sun …Viceroy butterfly

Black Swallowtail butterfly

Nessus Sphinx or Hummingbird Moth

When I first saw this moth (above and below center-left) I assumed it was a baby hummingbird until I saw no beak and it had antennae.  About half the size of a hummingbird, it jets and halts between each blossom and drinks while arching its back and pushing its tail forward.

A beaver has been busy doing what beavers do …

And other critters have been busy …

A pair of Mallords enjoying the peace of a gentle flowing river …

Taking a break to stretch and preen …

And then it’s back to busy …

Oh, to be a duck …

Till next time, many smiles! 🙂