Friday, February 29, 2008

Lion or Lamb?

It is just past midnight on March 1st. The wind is blowing but not as hard as it has blown most of this winter. I don't know what the forecast is for the morning and the rest of the day. Will March come in like a lion or a lamb? I am not even sure if the groundhog saw his shadow on Feb 2nd. In my neck of the woods, the sun was hiding behind clouds all morning, but came out later in the afternoon. Does that mean the groundhog was out for half the day then went to hide back in his burrow for the rest of the day? Does that make it 3 weeks more of winter instead of 6, or instead of spring weather arriving early? Well, we are just going to have to wait until morning is really here before we know, I guess.

Grandparents (from my email today)

(Taken from papers written by a class of 8-year-olds)
· Grandparents are a lady and a man who have no little children of their own. They like other people's.
· A grandfather is a man & a grandmother is a lady!
· Grandparents don't have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn't play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the shops and give us money.
· When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
· They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn't step on 'cracks.'
· They don't say, 'Hurry up.'
· Usually grandmothers are fat but not too fat to tie your shoes.
· They wear glasses and funny underwear.
· They can take their teeth and gums out.
· Grandparents don't have to be smart.
· They have to answer questions like 'why isn't God married?' and 'How come dogs chase cats?'.
· When they read to us, they don't skip. They don't mind if we ask for the same story over again.
· Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us.
· They know we should have snack time before bedtime and they say prayers with us every time and kiss us even when we've acted bad.
· It's funny when they bend over, you hear gas leaks and they blame their dog.Aunts are like grandparents too!! Kids need em!

If You're Looking For a Wii, Please--Don't Call Me!

Telephone technology has advanced tremendously since the days of going through the operator to get your next door neighbor, and, oh, those party lines! Being an employee in a call center, I have to keep certain secrets of the trade, but it might be good to have a clue how to talk on the phone in these times of electronic world-shrinking. You will first notice that I have listed my job title as a call center HBA. HBA stands for Home Based Agent. I get to do my job from the comfort of my living room. No battling bad weather to get to work. But the really interesting thing is that the company I work for has agents all over this country! And probably most of them, if not all of them are HBA's.

Businesses all over the United States and even the world are now tapping into the idea of using call centers to cut down on telephone usage within the businesses themselves. When the call centers can be equipped with enough information, they can answer questions from clients or customers up to 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (or 366 as in this year). Some of these businesses have employed call center staff from countries outside of their own country. That means, it could be that the person talking to you on the phone might be in his or her own country of origin and not living or working in the country you are calling from. It's just another way the internet has made this world smaller and brought us all closer together--if not physically or socially--at least through our telephones.

The next time you try to call for tech support for a computer program, for example, the person you are talking to might not be anywhere close to the location of the main address of the business you are calling. That also applies to stores, government offices, and many other business entities. Most of the time, the scripts used by the call center staff keep it unknown as to whether these people are located right inside the business or at some remote location. The businesses don't hide this information to be secretive. I think they have the idea at this point that the general public just isn't ready to understand it all and that they won't be happy not being able to talk to someone directly in the building. It is kind of like talking to one of those automated systems that can't understand what you are trying to tell it. We don't like them. I think businesses will think we won't like call centers either. Having worked in a call center, I have an inside view. With all the information we have at our literal fingertips via the internet and our computer keyboards, and with all the efforts the businesses put into making sure the information is available and kept up-to-date, the call center employee, whether located inside the physical business building, or in their own home somewhere on the other side of the country or the world, is able to answer your questions and help you find what you are looking for. If we don't have the answer, we know how to transfer you to the person who does have the answer.
So why do we have to deal with these call centers at all? Think of it this way. Call centers keep the phone calls out of the way of the actual staff on the floor of the business so that those employees can devote more attention to the client/customer who is standing or sitting right there in front of them. Just like all other forms of technology, call centers and how to talk to them is something we will all be learning how to adjust to. And as we get used to it, just like all other technology, things will change again and there will be something else to adjust to.
But, without giving away secrets of the trade...if you are calling to find out how to find specific hard to get items, don't get mad at that person on the phone if they tell you they don't have or can't tell you any information about them. They are just as frustrated as you are, and they have to stick to the scripts they have been given. Everyone knows these items are hard to find. If you want them bad enough, you are going to have to break down and do some driving, or some finger walking through the internet. And that is good advice for anything you are calling about.

To end on a humorous note, do you know we also get telemarketing calls? To make that even more funny, when we try to hang up on them....they don't go away!!! Today for example, I had one telemarketer--in a recorded message--continue calling and ringing into my phone line, even though I was continuously hanging up on him. If someone out there knows what kind of technology they have that keeps them connected even after you hang up, let me know. I am curious. Just don't get too technical in your explanation. I am not kidding. This recording just kept going and going and would just pick up where it left off as I kept hanging up on it. Today was the first time I had to actually get off the phone lines for a few seconds to stop the cycle. Be glad when you get your calls from telemarketers, that you can hang up once and that is the end of it. But, if you get a call from a telemarketer who is not a recording, be nice. Like me, they are just doing their job, reading their script, and probably getting pretty tired of saying the same things over and over again. It is paying their bills just like your job is paying yours.

It's Sadie Hawkin's Day!!!

It's early morning--really early--like 1:30 a.m. I am up a bit longer than I usually am. That is because I took a long nap this afternoon, so I am not as tired as I should be by this time. So I have been playing around with my blog layout and getting things set up a to be a little more fun and interesting.
Talking about interesting. This is the beginning of Leap Day 2008! That means it is Sadie Hawkins Day. How many of you had a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance at your high school? I think I was in 8th grade if I remember right. So, if you never had one, what is it? It is one of those backwards things where the ladies ask the guys to be their escorts for the dance.
For those of you who, like myself, who didn't know who Sadie Hawkins was or how this Leap Day became Sadie Hawkins Day, check out these links for more information. And if there is some special man somewhere in your life, and you would like to ask him's your chance. Well, nowdays, there isn't the big issue about having to wait for the man to ask the woman. But if you are still the old fashioned type...this is your day.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Genealogy Trivia Games and Chat

If you know me at all, you know one of my biggest interests is working on my family tree. I recently found a genealogy chat room that I really like being part of. It is closely monitored and the stupid and sometimes nasty stuff that goes on in many chat rooms is not allowed in this room. I enjoy the people there and more than that, I enjoy the different ways they have to enhance the fun of genealogy. One way they do that is by hosting a genealogy trivia game twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday night at 9:30 EST). They do this by one of the chat members writing up 30 questions plus a few tie breaker questions and presenting them in the trivia room. (They have several rooms within the main chat program, all devoted to different areas of genealogy.) Then all the players try to be the first to give the correct answer. The winner must then schedule their own chat game for later in the month or next few months. I have not won any games yet, but I decided to try to find out how hard it could be to make up a trivia quiz. I volunteered to be a trivia game host one night and loved it. So far I have give two games, and have yet another one scheduled. I don't know many of the answers for these games, but writing the quizzes helps me learn more about my country and my ancestors' lives. Playing the games is just plain fun. My second game was last night. I thought it would be hard. It was full of questions I could not have answered. But the group did great and our imaginary player named "no point" only got 3 out of 30, which means that there were only 3 of my questions that no one could answer. Both of my trivia games have been in the style of Jeopardy, and kept the players on their toes remembering to put their answers in the form of a question. They like that kind of style once in awhile. But next time, they asked me for a regular game. I guess I have worn them out, along with some others who have begun using the Jeopardy style for parts of their games. I am trying to come up with some other style just to be different. One of the games last week I came very close to winning. I had, I think 6 correct answers, which beat my former record of 4 correct answers. My competition is to try to keep at least one point ahead of "no point". Sometimes that isn't easy.
If you are into genealogy and would like a fun place to relax and just get to know others who share the same interests, give us a try. Come to Genealogy Lookup Forum at and maybe you will find a connection to your ancestors. In addition to the trivia games, they also host other educational chats throughout the week. You never know what you might learn about your ancestors.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Indian Cooking Lessons

Two years ago today my former mother in law passed away. I hadn't seen much of her before that after 1998, but I still love her. We didn't always get along well, but we tried. You see, we came from two different cultures, two different parts of the world, and two different generations as well. We had language barriers. We had religious differences. But we had lots in common as well. For example, we both loved her son. And we both loved our family. And we loved eating! Mummy was the one who really taught me how to make Indian food. No matter how much I try I have never been able to duplicate the taste of the food she cooked. I ate Indian food from a lot of different cooks, but I can't say that any of them were any better than Mummy's cooking. I still love Indian food and for the most part, it is my favorite kind of food. There is an Indian restaurant I like to go to when I get the chance, but even there, the food is not as good as what Mummy cooked. I will blame it on the language barriers that keeps me from cooking as well as she did. (NOT--I just couldn't get the hang of getting the spices combined properly.)
When my husband and I first got married and I tried to make Indian curry for him, it usually turned out okay, but this odd shade of olive green. Then I started collecting Indian cookbooks, which helped somewhat and gave me ideas about other things to cook. Our first apartment had a small size stove right next to a wall and when we left that apartment, we also left a yellow/green steam stain on the wall where I cooked my curries. It wasn't until Mummy came to live with us temporarily that I found out how to make my curries the proper color of brown. And it was such a simple thing. She taught me a lot of little simple things that helped me get my feeble attempts at cooking to turn out a lot better. I will never be able to compete with Indian women who have been cooking this way since they were young, but I can make a pretty good substitute when there is nothing else close enough to call a curry.
I really love Indian breads. I can make those pretty well when I have the opportunity. To do a good job I need lots of counter space and I don't have that luxury at this time. One of my favorite memories is watching Mummy making her Roti (Chapatti). She gave me one of her special rolling pins and later her round bread board she used to roll her round Roti's on. I never could use that board. But watching her fascinated me. Her hands moved so quickly as she would roll the dough, then turn the board, then roll again, then turn the board again, all to make her Roti as perfectly round as possible. Next, she would put the bread in the dry skillet, which was not a skillet as we know it. She would fry the bread on one side, spinning it around in the pan with her fingers, then when she knew it was done enough on one side, she would pick it up, again with her fingers, and flip it over and spin it until finished. One day she told me that she placed the finished Roti properly on the serving plate (covered with foil so as to wrap the Roti later) so that the first side cooked was on top. The reasoning she gave was that the first side cooked was nicer looking than the other side and should always be placed on top to make the serving plate look better. Also, the breads needed to be placed on top of each other evenly so as to make it more pleasing to the eye. Shoot, I couldn't even get my Roti to be round the right way. I remember the first ones I made looked like footballs. But, I could make mine puff up like they were supposed to do while cooking. And forget using my fingers to do the frying. I used a spatula.
I still have that rolling pin, round bread board, and even the frying pan. The handle disappeared from the frying pan years ago while we all still lived together. I can't even remember the proper name of the pan. But I remember cooking with Mummy and that is something I will never forget.
Someday soon I hope to put some of the good recipes I learned from Mummy here in this blog. Until then, and until next time....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Learning How To Blog

Blogging should not be too difficult for me. I love to write. I have kept a journal ever since I was 17 years old, and diaries before that. When I write letters, be they snail mail or email, they can look like booklets because I write so much. It is hard to keep me quiet when it comes right down to it. I like to talk, sometimes, when I am with the right people--people I feel comfortable around. So, taking the next step to blogging should be a piece of cake. At least I hope so. Thankfully I enjoy internet research so researching about blogging is keeping me busy now. There haven't been many opportunities in my life for me to find an outlet for my creativity...especially in the job world. The best career I had was when I was an Activity Director in nursing homes. There I was able to be creative in all types of ways, from playing games, to fund raising, to crafts, and to writing and editing the facility newsletters. In fact, I have already been thinking about how I could start yet another blog focusing on topics relevant to Activity Directors.
But now I am no longer able to work as an Activity Director due to my health. So I work from home and I love that I can do that. If you can imagine waking up in the morning and not having to put on your business casuals, get outside, start the car, scrape the ice off the windshield, maybe dig your car out of the fresh snow that fell overnight, all to get to work...working from home is fabulous. PJ's, blue fuzzy slippers, cozy afghan make up my daily work attire. I commute all the way from my bedroom to my living room and I have arrived at work. Yes it is a bit on the cold side first thing in the morning, but once the furnace gets a jolt from the thermostat I have just turned up, it starts warming up. The only thing is, after almost 6 months of this job, the constant noise pounding in my ears for 5 hours a day is driving me crazy.
Then I found this cool website, thanks to the suggestions of a friend, about working from home. Guess what?? This is not your everyday work from home website!! This is a message board. It may be more, but so far I have been glued to the message boards reading messages from people like you and me who are working from home in all kinds of ways. Believe it or not--blogging has become a career!!! Who would have thunk it??? What an idea for someone who tends to write too much!! And in the process, maybe it will unlock my creative juices that used to flow freely to encourage me to write for children. In the meantime, I just want to try it out and see if I can't have a little bit of fun. Want to know the website that has inspired me so? It is which I think stands for Work At Home Mom. But I have read messages from the work at home dad's too. And I am sure I am not the only work at home grandma on that site.
Now I am reading and studying and learning all the ins and outs of blogging and of how to make an income with blogging. Hey!! While you are all reading this, and I hope someone out there is reading this...look at my profile...and when you see the random question this program puts to me, after you read my answer, why not put your own answer to the question in the comment section here? So far some of these questions have done a little to spark my creativity. I would love to read your responses. That frog question really made me think. Ribbit.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fantastic Day Today!!!

Meeting a new cousin was really a lot of fun. We shared lots of photos, compared notes, and ultimately got new directions of which way to go in our mutual searches for our long lost ancestors. We didn't come up with any real new facts, but the information we shared was really interesting. We spent over three hours chatting, enjoying our good restaurant meal, and getting to know each other. After we finished with our meeting, Sue and I decided to continue on to the library in the county where all these ancestors lived to dig up some more information while our new cousin mosied on over to her county library to do some digging of her own.

Walking is a challenge for me these days due to arthritis, and the close parking at the library was only for 30 minutes. They don't have their own parking lot so it is understandable that they need to maximize the ability for their patrons to be able to get in and out. But you just cannot do genealogy research in 30 minutes. So I gave up my close handicapped parking space for one across the street to the side. I got a lot of walking in today, which is good for me, but will probably have me aching the rest of this week. Sue handed me this great big least three or four inches thick while she went through some other books. Sue picked the right book for me to go through. It was full of information about the one person I have been researching the most this past year. I found his land purchase information, tax assessments of his land and personal property, what they were all worth, etc. Basically, he was not a poor man with a poor family. They were not wealthy by any means. But for their time period, they were comfortable. At least at that specific time period. And they had done it in only ten years, starting with just their 80 acres.

Genealogy can be frustrating, especially when you run into those stubborn brick walls that just don't seem to want to budge. But it can also be a lot of fun. Especially when you are meeting lots of interesting people along the way. A few years ago, when I first started working on my family tree, I didn't really know what I was doing. I have to admit that I still don't know what so many others do, but I am learning. Back then, I was meeting people who were helpful, and some who were not. After a particularly difficult period, I set genealogy aside for awhile and only picked it back up again last year at this time. Somehow in that time, some of the fog cleared and ideas began flowing fast about this ancestor or that and how to find more information. With help from others online I got more information. All that lead to this meeting today. Oh yeh, and while Sue and I were at the library, this guy walks in and he has one of the librarians there helping him with something when he mentions the name he is looking for. It was one of our same names!! Another possible connection. We don't know yet because he is just starting out. Isn't that wild??

Overall, this day was a very productive. I drove an hour to get to the brunch meeting, then drove another probable half hour to the county library, then another half hour back home. It was a big crooked square (or circle), but the weather was favorable (we were supposed to have rain this afternoon and didn't get it). When I got home I was too tired to even think straight, let alone deal with fixing supper, so I ordered Chinese delivered, got comfortable, and relaxed. Now, I think I will break out of my usual routine yet again and go to bed much earlier than I usually do. I am exhausted!!! (And showing my age a bit, I think.)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Figgerin It Out

Well, here it is, day 2 of my new blog. I have been reading and researching about blogging professionally and it has been an interesting study. Time will tell where all of this takes me. For now, I just want to enjoy the learning process.

Tomorrow I may have some new and interesting things to talk about. One of my cousins and I are going to go meet with someone we have never met before to talk about our mutual ancestors. Genealogy has been a cool hobby over the years, but when you have a big brick wall to bust down and suddenly there is this woman out there, living not too far from you, and you find out you are distant cousins, the hobby becomes so much more fascinating. I cannot wait to compare notes tomorrow, share old photos, and take some new photos. Will there be a family resemblance? Will we all get along? Will a new family relationship begin to grow and flourish from this meeting? Stay tuned and read the update.

Here We Go

Well, here are the first words of this blog. This is new to me and I am pretty nervous about what to write and how to say what I might want to say. Pull up a chair and get comfortable. Let's get to know each other. Don't let this just be me talking about whatever is on my mind each time I write. Tell me about you. Tell me what you think. Just keep it clean. If you wouldn't say it in church, please keep it to yourself.
I am excited about this blog. Some of the ideas I have about what might show up here in the near future include the fun of being a grandma, cooking, changing lifestyles of aging, genealogy, other hobbies, music, and who knows what else! Look out. I am known to be wordy. I like to write. And I like to speak my mind.
Now it is too late at night to go on. It is my bedtime and I have to get up early in the morning. One of my topics could be my current job. I work at home part time. It keeps me afloat in combination with my disability benefits. So, I am going to bed and maybe think about some of the things I might write about down the road. Good Night!