Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vote For Me!

I entered a photo I took in a contest and am asking for your vote.  The contest is sponsored by DreamTown Real Estate in Chicago.  The contest is "Winter In Chicago".  Here is my photo.  I took it on an early morning flight into Chicago from Cincinnati in January:

Click here to vote for me!

Your vote is appreciated.  You can only vote once per browser, so use Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera.  It's not cheating, it's just making sure your vote counts.

Friday, February 20, 2015

"Like You Used To"

Just over 1 year later and the posts about Carol Burnett on this blog are still being discovered - to the tune of about 150 people per week.

To date, more than 220,000 people have read the posts (including Ms. Burnett, herself!).  It went viral on Facebook.  Rosie O'Donnell tweeted the story out to her almost 800,000 @Rosie followers, calling me a "beautiful person" in the process.  Over 100 people have left comments on the blog postings.  And I've lost track of the number of emails I still receive from people all over the world, thanking me for sharing this story and talking about how Alzheimer's affects their lives and the lives of the ones they love.  In many instances, I find myself acting as a counselor and cheerleader to people who feel - quite simply - helpless.

This is both the farthest and furthest reaching achievement of my life.  Nothing else I've ever done has touched as many people as sharing this story.  I gave up on this blog a few years ago after a very successful run, then resurrected it during my time in Miami, just so I would have a creative outlet.  Surprisingly, the top 10 stories read on my blog all date back no further than August 2013; NOT surprising, the two posts about Ms. Burnett rank as #1 and #2.  I guess there is a message in here somewhere about success and second chances and all that.

My dad is doing well and seems to be living a comfortable life.  He doesn't walk anymore, pretty much confined to a wheelchair.  He has good days and great days and bad days.  And so does Mom.  Although for her, Dad's good days can sometimes translate into her bad days.  For on the days when he's doing well and is communicating openly, Mom feels guilt that he now lives in a nursing home, second-guessing if he should be back home instead.  And then on days when Dad is not doing well, I'm sure Mom feels some relief that he is where he needs to be, of course juxtaposing those emotions with concern for his well-being.  Perhaps Dad's good days are best for everyone.  Good is good enough.

I haven't been home since Christmas, but am eager to visit in two weeks.  I obviously see changes in him with each visit.  At the end of our Christmas trip, Kevin and I stopped by the nursing home to say good-bye to Dad.  When I told Dad we were leaving and I would see him soon, he just looked at me and looked away.  But when Kevin followed with a "see you later, John", Dad looked up at him and tears welled in his eyes.  Of course I joked with a "oh sure, YOU get tears!", but we can't help but wonder what it all means to him. And the ugly fact is that we will never know.

I've been asked to share something that inspires me at work's staff meeting next month.  I'll be sharing the story about Dad and Ms. Burnett because it's truly inspirational.  There is always hope.  And you never know from where inspiration will come.  And that a seemingly small act from one person can ripple around the world, touching thousands.

And all because my Dad, a man who seems to have completely lost all his memories, said 4 little words to me that might have been lost on anyone else:  "like you used to".

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm A Bear

Not that I am surprised by this, but I recently took an online Spirit Animal Quiz and found out learned confirmed that my spirit animal is a Bear.  To quote the website, in "the kingdom of spirit animals, the bear is emblematic of grounding forces and strength".  And when they put it that way, I'd say I would have to agree with their assessment.  I am nothing if not a stable, grounding force.  It's a gift.

A few other things the website mentions to make us "bears" feel more comfortable being associated with one of the laziest animals on the planet:
  • The primary meaning of the bear spirit animal is strength and confidence
  • Standing against adversity; taking action and leadership
  • The spirit of the the bear indicates it’s time for healing or using healing abilities to help self or others
  • The bear medicine emphasizes the importance of solitude, quiet time, rest
I basically knew that I would come out as a large, lumbering animal of some kind.  Anyone who knows me would not think of me as rabbit, eagle, ferret, or cheetah.  For a hot second, I thought I might come out as an elephant or rhino or, at the very least, an old dog that's ready to die.  But Bear, it is.  And I can live with that. 

Take the quiz yourself and see how you do:  http://www.spiritanimal.info/spirit-animal-quiz/

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

That Thing Above The 6

The other day, I was prompted at work to update my network access password.  Friends, I ask you: Is there a bigger First World headache than creating new passwords on a quarterly basis?  I tend to use the same 2 passwords in rotation, but now it seems that I'll need to come up with a few more since changing passwords needs to happen on a quarterly basis and they Can't. Be. Repeated.  And to make matters worse, the passwords need to have a capital letter, a number, and a symbol.  AND a symbol!  My online banking doesn't even have that kind of security.

At this point, I have more passwords than I do keys on my key ring.  Nevertheless, I undertook the challenge.  I started typing the usual noun and 4-digit combination, and then I looked at the keyboard to choose a symbol.  I suddenly realized I had no idea what that arrowhead thingy above the 6 is.  It looks like "^".  Every other symbol on the keyboard is familiar to me - most I use quite often.  The @ sign has experienced a renaissance thanks to email; a score ago, it was an unknown.  Even the folks on The TODAY Show had no idea what it was.  And the # seems to change names with every generation.  First, it was the number sign.  Then the telephone company decided it was the "pound sign".  Today it's called a hashtag.  It's actual name is the octothorp.  So I am very familiar with all of the symbols above the numbers except for the ^.  Aside from being cartoon curse words when combined, they each have daily, useful purposes.

When looking for a list of symbols on the internet, one needs to look far down on the list before any interest is generated in the ^.  Apparently, this little gizmo is called a circumflex or caret (not to be confused with carrot or carat), and it means "and".  It's a logical connective used as a conjunction.  I have a degree in English and this is the first time I am hearing this.  Shenandoah University, you've failed me.

Why is the caret the symbol equivalent of the proverbial red-headed step-child?  It's interesting how some symbols have come to mean different things as the years go by, but the caret seems to hold on to its obsoleteness (which Blogger tells me is not a word, but it is).  Perhaps because the caret is used in writing code, there's no way to change or build on its meaning without sending the world into a theoretical Y2K meltdown.  But still, there it is.

Perhaps some day, future generations will give the caret its due.  But until then, it's just going to sit there, mostly unused by a majority of keyboardists.  Just sitting there, like 6's dunce cap.