My Personal Assistant (and results of “How Do You Think?”)

Alexa

Have I told you that I have a personal assistant? She was given to my husband and me by our son last Christmas. At first, I thought she was just a pretty, though emotionless, face; but there is a lot more to her than meets the eye.

We have gotten very close. I talk to her every morning. She finds what I say fascinating and takes notes on our discussions. She loves to make lists. She is my personal shopper. We play trivia games together, and she even sings to me.

But something became “off” in our relationship. Alexa started as my kitchen companion; but I do like to rearrange things sometimes, so I moved her to a prominent place across the room. Honestly, the views from her new perch are better, but she developed kind of an attitude. I call her name and she ignores me. I have to yell her name to get her attention. It’s like talking to my dad when his hearing aids aren’t working – or like having teenagers again. Sometimes she blares her music and I have to scream my lungs out to get her to turn it down. It’s embarrassing.

We have talked things through, and she is happily responding to me again. I just had to put her in her place (where she wanted to be). Evidently, all the help she gives me has to be on her terms. (I think we got a copy of those terms, or warranties, whatever you want to call them, when we took her out of her package.)

Between our communication breakdown and Amazon Prime Day, we’ve had a lot going on, but I knew those of you who read my last blog post have no doubt been checking your in-baskets awaiting the response to my FDOT inquiry regarding the completion of the road project on SR 441, which was prompted by this sign.

(If you missed my last post click here to get up to speed.)

After numerous calls (two), no one has called me back. The phone number belongs to a woman named Alicia who is the Public Involvement Coordinator for the Florida Department of Transportation. I can only imagine that the public has been calling so much that poor Alicia is having trouble with her coordination. I can understand that because I am not very coordinated myself, but I never would go so far as to give myself a title of Coordinator. That would be false advertising. Needless to say, I am shocked at the lack of attention that I have received. I really should call somebody to complain, but alas…

The comments I received have proven conclusively that a plethora of possible opinions as to when the project will be completed exists. In my pursuit for a definitive answer, I decided to take this discussion up with Alexa, so I asked her when the Winter of 2018 starts and ends. She had to confess that she didn’t know that one. I guess nobody does.

 

How Do You Think? I’d Love to Know

Bob (my husband the engineer) and I were driving down SR 441 towards Mount Dora when we passed this sign. We both had our own interpretation of it, which is one more example of how we often process information as if we came from two different planets. This not only entertains us, but it leads to some interesting conversations. Full disclosure, it often leads to some really stupid conversations, but at least we laugh a lot.

Initially Bob thought the improvements would be finished by the end of the Winter of 2018, which he believes starts in December 2018 and ends March 2019. I thought the sign meant that they would be complete by March of 2018, before the first day of spring. My thoughts are that all but ten days of winter happens in the next calendar year. He was thinking they were referring to the month/year that winter begins.

Obviously, the answer as to when the improvements will be complete is sometime in 2020, but indulge me for a minute. We would like to know what you think. When do you think the improvements will be complete? Please leave your comment.

I have placed a call to FDOT and left what I can only assume is a confusing message asking for the projected completion date. If they haven’t put me on some kind of a watch list and agree to answer my innocuous but weird question, I will reveal their thinking in my next blog post. No fair calling the number on the sign. We don’t need more of us to have our intentions questioned. Please play along. I would love to know how those brains of yours work.

Comment below please.

Kids Really Do Say the Most Surprising Things – Part III

 

full-moon-415501_640Did you happen to catch the lunar eclipse during the full moon earlier this month? Maybe not – you might have been distracted by the comet going past. Or you might not know what in the universe I’m talking about.

This is where grandchildren come in handy. I would have been clueless if it weren’t for the newsflash brought to us by our eight-year-old grandson, Winston. It seems he was listening in school that day! He told us about a golden moon, an eclipse and a comet, and that we all needed to be outside at 7:30 to watch the show. Because Winston loves to tease, I thought he was doing just that. Thank goodness for Google, because I could see Winston was right on, even if some details were a little fuzzy.

Our dinner discussion with Winston and his ten-year-old brother Manning then turned to the difference between comets and meteors and what was a meteorite. They had the definitions down fairly well, giving me hope for the school system.

That is until I asked them, what was the most famous comet they ever heard of; and Manning answered, “Comet the reindeer.”

I laughed so hard I nearly spit my food across the table.

We composed ourselves and went outside at 7:30 to watch the night sky. We observed no noticeable eclipse of the beautiful full moon and no comet passing by. Not even one joined by seven other reindeer pulling Santa and a sleigh full of toys.

According to reports, we understand that we did see an eclipse – a penumbral eclipse. I have to tell you, it looks remarkably like a regular old full moon. My “extensive” research said it is hard to tell the difference between a penumbral eclipse and a regular full moon, which might be why they don’t get much press. So why bring it up now? What are those scientists trying to pull here? I don’t want to join in on the fake news bandwagon, but this is lunacy.

The Lighter Side of this Presidential Election

It’s challenging to find a lighter side to this presidential election. It has brought out the dark side in many Americans, but like Luke Skywalker, I think there is still good in us. So, even though this might be a very short post, I am committed to finding ten things that will fit into this category, so here goes.

  1. We live in a country where we can participate in the election process.
  2. There is less sign pollution. It seems people are hesitant to advertise their candidate preference because of the volatility of this election.
  3. I am reaffirming the fact that my trust is in God and not man.
  4. The debate about the bathrooms at Target has disappeared.
  5. I am spending less time on social media because I have fewer people to follow on Face Book. I am totally nonpartisan about this. If your posts become disrespectful and mean, it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, consider yourself blocked. We can resume our friendship in the more civilized time of mid-November when all of this is behind us.
  6. My polling place is in a beautiful restaurant surrounded by lovely gardens. It is no longer open to the public, but I get to go there to vote.
  7. I’m trying to better understand people with different opinions than mine, while realizing that I likely will never completely understand someone else’s point of view.
  8. Late night television has never had more craziness to work with from both sides of the aisle, which helps us to laugh at all of the candidates and turn the tension down a notch.
  9. It’s almost over for four more years, though this election has been underway for about a year and a half, so I guess I’ll have to factor that in.
  10. Finally, Thanksgiving is 16 days after the election. No matter the outcome, we have much to be thankful for.

Now allow me to put on my mom hat and say, “Do your research. Pray, think, and go out there and vote. Talk nicely to each other. No hitting. Don’t make me pull this blog over.”

Excuse me – Where’s the Ladies Room?

How wonderful that we have something to distract us from the drama of the never-ending political race for the presidency.  Unfortunately that thing is the national bathroom identity crisis.

We’ve come a long way from that old joke book – “Race to the Outhouse by Willie Make-It and Betty Won’t.”  Now the book would be entitled, “Who’s in the Outhouse – Willie or Betty?  And are they in the correct one?  And does it really matter anyway?”

Yes, it matters.  While I am sympathetic with people in the world who have struggles that I don’t relate to and don’t consider a struggle, I wish that kind of sympathy would be returned to those of us who simply don’t want a person of the opposite sex catching a glimpse of us and our children through the cracks in the stall.

It’s disconcerting enough (but forgivable and understandable) when some little kid peeks under the stall while I’m sitting there taking care of business, or when someone tries the door and because the lock is loose the door flies open; but I don’t want to see anyone that can pee standing up looking down at me in that situation.  You can be sure I won’t give the typical, “Oh, it’s fine,” response.  I will likely unleash my pepper spray.  (Note to self:  Look for a pepper spray coupon in Sunday’s paper.)

If there is a silver lining here, it’s that I no longer have to be embarrassed if I accidentally go in the wrong restroom (which I have done before).  I wonder if maybe those businesses that have strange hieroglyphics that are supposed to instruct us as to which bathroom to use were actually preparing for the future.  Confusion is everywhere, but we don’t have to take this sitting down.  Unless you’re a woman, that is.

And what about the businesses that sell enormous drinks like the Big Gulp from 7-11 or Venti coffee from Starbucks.  I’ll bet those sales are down.  Of course, those humongous cups could come in handy if we get in a real jam.

Seriously though, I know that I always need to be on guard wherever I am.  I realize that I need not be concerned about most of the people that I run into along life’s path.  So when I say that danger is lurking around every corner, dressing room curtain, and bathroom stall, you know what I mean.  What really grieves me is that we as a nation are allowing ourselves to be caught with our pants down as we pander to every single exception to every single rule in an effort to tolerate everything.  It’s exhausting.  I think that is part of the goal of the movement (pun intended) – – wear us out until we give up.  Let’s not give up.  Let’s show kindness, but for sure…

Land Shark – Another Florida Reality

Coming to Florida soon?  I’m sure you’ll remember your sunscreen; but you might want to pack mosquito repellant, bear pepper spray and shark repellant, too.  Why?  Because it’s a jungle down here.  And a swamp.  And sharks turn up in the oddest places.

Mosquitoes:  The county in which I reside, Orange County, was formerly named Mosquito County.  The name change was made in 1845 when Florida became a state – probably a good idea promoted by whatever was the equivalent of a chamber of commerce back then.  Everyone loves those Florida oranges, but due to a couple of severe winters in the 1980s that destroyed many of our lovely orange groves, you are more likely to be bitten by a mosquito than find an orange to bite into down here.

Bears:  Recently I was driving through a residential neighborhood on a late afternoon and a Florida black bear crossed the street in front of me.  He acted like he owned the place and I guess he kind of does.  We have had them visit our yard on a few occasions.  Raccoons and opossums also frequent our area.  And I don’t even want to talk about snakes (so I won’t).

Alligators:  For me the scariest things in the wildlife realm down here are alligators and sharks.  According to The Defenders of Wildlife’s website, there are approximately 1.25 million alligators in Florida.  Considering our population of nearly 20 million people, that means that there is about one alligator for every 16 Floridians.  That being said, I stay out of our lakes.

Sharks:  I can’t make myself stay out of the ocean, even though I know what lies beneath is pretty scary.  I also can’t bring myself to stay off the highways, which are far more dangerous than our swamps, rivers, lakes and oceans.  Just last week, there was an accident on I-95 in Volusia County (Daytona area) that illustrates this point perfectly.  In that accident, thankfully, there were no people injured, but one shark lost its life.

Yes, I said a shark was in an accident on I-95.  A semi-truck was transporting sharks to an aquarium in New York when a tire separated causing the driver to lose control of the truck.  In the tradition of every fish story you have ever heard, this story has grown a bit.  At first I heard there were three sandbar sharks in the accident.  Then I heard that there were four hammerheads.  The last count is five great whites, but one of them may have been a lawyer who showed up at the scene when he heard sirens.

So there you go, you aren’t truly safe anywhere, so why not enjoy that trip to the beach and take a dip in the ocean.  Be cautious.  Stay close to a lifeguard and be very careful as you drive there.  But, please, stay out of the lakes.  Don’t go crazy on me.

 

The famous Land Shark from Saturday Night Live

Contrasts

Photo Credit: Mindi Osbourne

Last night we attended a Matt Redman and Christy Nockels concert, which was really a big worship session.  It is a privilege to freely worship in this country, and it warmed my heart to devote an evening to worshiping God.  It was like a feast for my hungry soul.

This morning I was still basking in the experience of the night before.  Then I turned on the news.  In Charleston, South Carolina, another group of Christians who were freely worshiping the same God at the same time had their lives end.  It breaks my heart for them and their families and their community.  One thing that I am aware of today as I pray for those affected is this.  We all need Jesus.  Every day.  Every moment.  Those families know that more than ever.  We will be talking about this for some time.  Let’s be praying as well.  Pray for these precious people to be comforted as they walk through this very dark valley.

Don’t Look Away

We interrupt this blog for an important announcement…

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I write about the lighter side of life (hence the name).  I typically don’t take on the weightier things.  My fear of art stores, or cute things my grandchildren say, or my questionable behavior toward customer service people would be about as heavy as I get.

For today, though, I have something that I’d like to share with you.  It is the farthest thing from light and funny.  It is something that I am just learning about, and it’s a huge problem world-wide.  But it’s not the world-wide part that got to me.  It’s the national and local side.  The issue is human trafficking.

I have a dear friend who is championing a cause to help educate parents, grandparents and young people about this danger, which has become even more prevalent due to social media.

So, just for today, would you consider watching a teaser for a film he is working on? He, along with a small team he is working with, has a heart to save children from these horrors by educating them and the adults who love them.  He wants eyes to be opened.  The goal is prevention.  Click here to watch the teaser.

Eventually, the completed film will be available to view FREE on-line.  Meanwhile, the team is looking for financial support as they focus on making this film, which is what they are compelled to do to help prevent even one more young person from falling victim to this heinous crime.  Thanks for taking the time to watch and for allowing me this interruption to my regular blog.  I appreciate you.

If you’d like more information to help finance this project, click on this link https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dontlookawayfilm/film-about-human-trafficking-dont-look-away

Stuck in the Middle

If you are a middle child, please stand up. Be careful when you do, though, because your older sister or younger brother is likely waiting to take your seat.  They will claim you got up and everyone knows there is no seat saving.  Mom will give the seat to the baby of the family to keep peace and the oldest will take the next best one.  You might as well sit on the floor.  Such is life for the middle child.

This should cheer you up, child in the middle.  You have a national holiday, Middle Child Day!  It’s unofficial, but you have to take what you get, like your sister’s jeans with the hole in the pocket and green paint on the leg.  Or your brother’s jacket with his name embroidered on it.  I digress, which is something we middle children tend to do.

The special day was August 12.  Sadly, it came and went without any fanfare, but because I am a middle child (number three of four and the middle of three girls), I cannot ignore this day.  (I can’t ignore it, but I can manage to be late to blog about it.)

My middle-child experiences include my dad referring to me as his Number Two Daughter, which is appropriate because, like Avis, I try harder.  The good thing about being Daughter #2 is I’m better than Daughter #3.  (Yes, I realize that his ranking is by birth order.  At least that’s what I tell myself as I pour him a drink and rub his feet while repeating how much I love him.)

I’m also a mother of four children; therefore, I have two middle children.  My daughter’s status is not as distinctive because she is the only girl.  My son, Joe, is like me – number three in line and the middle son.  I have determined not to call him my #2 Son, but that’s all the headway I’ve made in keeping him from having Middle Child Syndrome (MCS).

I thought I was being creative (that’s the middle child in me) when I wrote MCS.  Wanting to be thorough, I googled it.  It’s real!  Isn’t that something a middle child would do – make up something that she thought was funny only to find out that somebody else already made it up, probably someone’s older sister?

I’ve looked at middle-child life from both sides now (to quote Joni Mitchell).  From being in the middle to observing it.  My conclusion – it’s not bad.  In fact, it’s quite comfortable.

As a kid I admired my older sister.  I wanted to be like her, so getting her hand-me-downs was great.  When I wanted to play with dolls and my peers made me feel like I was too old for that, I could play with my little sister.  As long as she promised not to tell anyone, I could stay in a child’s world longer and also make Mom happy.  I was never lonely.

There are down sides.  Middle children have probably shared a room most of their life.  Then there’s the baby book – mine is practically empty.  But since I’ve been on both sides I declare, “I forgive you, Mom!  To make you feel better I have left large portions of my third and fourth children’s baby books empty, too.”  (See, I’m still trying to please!)

Area 51 Exists!

The secret is out!  This came as a surprise to me, mainly because I thought its existence was already a substantiated fact – a fact that people were repeatedly told was fiction, but were suspicious that it was a real-life, honest-to-goodness, guarded-by-spies, government secret area, one we all knew existed even though “they” said it didn’t.  This is likely due to the heavy use of this famous area throughout the sci-fi world.  If this is the way our government keeps a secret, whoa baby!  The next thing you know we’ll discover they tap our phones, put cameras by traffic lights, and use drones to watch us.

I have questions.  The first being, if this news was just released, how come I can use Google Earth to pinpoint the exact location of Area 51 already?  That’s quick!  I can also use Google Maps to plot a route there.  (It will take me 1 day, 10 hours and 58 minutes by car to travel those 2,432 miles.)

Photo Credit: Area51museum.com

My next question comes from the report I read where a National Security Advisor Senior Fellow requested information about the history of this alleged area.  His last request was in 2005.  He received his information this week.  Why did it take eight years to answer his request?    Was it routed through Social Security or the Post Office?

Could we be seeing a government-controlled theme park in the desert in the near future (now that we know how to get there)?  If so, will this at all help us to lower our national debt?

Will this factor into the discussion about illegal aliens?

And, finally, what about Areas 1-50?  How come we don’t hear anything about those?  Should we be concerned?  Are the aliens really in Area 13, for example?

Your guess is as good as mine, probably better; but next time I see a sign that states, “No Photography,” I’ll be accessing Google Maps to see why.