Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Conversation with India

As a prefese, I would like to state that my house is totally geeked out with six computers all networked together on our own little home intranet. We even have three copy machines – but you don’t want to get me started on that topic. When two engineers get married that sort of thing seems to happen sometimes.

But my husbands favorite pasttime is harrasing telemarketers, so this is a conversation I overheared last night. Needless to say I was rolling on the floor in uncontrolable laughter as my husband did a great job of performing the part of the worlds stupidest American.

US: Hello

India: Hello, my name is Mr. Wilson, I am calling from XXX company. We provide computer assistance services.

US: But I’m talking to you on the phone not the computer.

India: Do you have a computer?

US: Yes, but I’m on the phone right now.

India: How long does it take your computer to boot up?

US: My computer doesn’t get up, it stays on the desk where it belongs.

India: Are you using your computer right now?

US: No, it’s turned off. And the phone cord doesn’t reach far enough for me to get to it.

India: My company can fix your computer.

US: Are you going to come to my house and fix my computer? That is a long trip from India.

India: Noone is coming to your house. We’ll fix it remotely.

US: So I have to send my computer to India for you to fix it?

India: No your computer never has to leave your house.

US: You are going to come hook a truck up to my house and take it to India? Why would you take a mobile home over the ocean just to fix a computer?

India: Nobody is going to move your house, or your computer. We will access your computer via the internet. The world wide web.

US: Oh, I don’t have the internet.

India: You don’t have the internet?

US: No, I got to the library for that. Does that mean I have to take my computer the library for you to fix it? But you said that my computer didn’t have to leave my house?

India: You don’t have the internet at your house?

US: No, I use the internet at the library. So do I have to take my computer to the library for you to fix it?

India: You have a computer but not the internet?

US: Yes.

India: What do you use your computer for then? Do you use it for games?

US: No, I don’t like games.

India: Then what do you use you computer for?

US: I write.

India: What do you write?

US: I write books.

India: What are your favorite books?

US: I haven’t read very many books from India, but I do know of one, it has really great pictures in it. It’s called the Kamasutra. That is a really good book. My wife likes that book a lot too. The pictures are very helpful.

India: Who is your favorite author?

US: Me.

India: Who?

US: Me. I like the books I write a lot.

India: What books have you written?

US: None have been published yet. Maybe someday. Who is your favorite author?

India: Tolstoy

US: Oh, that Russian guy. I didn’t know people from India knew how to read Russian.

India: Tolstoy’s books are available in English too.

US: Ok. I just have one other thing to say to you. I’m on the federal no call list, so if you or anyone else from your company ever calls me again I will take legal action. It was nice talking to you though. Have a nice day.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Horrible Homonims

I really hate homonims. Needing to memorize which spelling is used for each case is seriously annoying. Why can’t there just be one spelling for each word? There are a lot of nasty homonims in this world. Here are a few of the most annoying ones:










Even though I hate pure homonims a lot! I hate near homonims even more. I’m talking about the words that have different sounds but similar spellings and very differant meanings. When I misspell these words, I tend to look like an even bigger idiot than when I misspell homonims. And I hate looking stupid – even though that tends to happen rather frequently.

These are a few of the worst wannabe homonims:









I’m sure there are many many more homonims and near homonims that I misspell on a regular basis. Unfotrunately, I am so bad at recongizing homonims, that I just go about misspelling these words all the time without even attempting to select the correct word.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Audio Bookworm

I know this is my third post about books on tape in five months. But I just love the things so much, I can’t stop talking about them. On February 10th, I mensioned that wonderful entity called RFB&D. I can honestly say that RFB&D not only enabled me to make it through college, they also kept me highly entertained for years. But you have to be blind or dyslexic to use there services, so the standerd reader is at a bit of a loss when hoping to make the cross over to listening.

In February, at about the time I made that post about RFB&D, I set a goal for myself of listening to every single audio book available at the Hillsboro Public Library. I listened to all the books at the Lake Oswego Public Library when I was a kid. How hard could it be? Before I even began, the method of systamatically working through all the audio books in alphabetical order seemed fool hardy. I know how to read, and am perfectly capable of reading the dust jackets and picking out books I think I might possibly enjoy.

I have managed to listen to a few good books this way, but the really great books are always checked out. I go to the library about once a week and look over the audio section. There are quite a few books that I’ve noticed once, then never again. Sure I could put them on hold and add my name to the waiting list. But if my goal is to listen to every book, settling for a book that’s actually there feels a lot easier.

I haven’t completely abandoned reading. In the past six months, I’ve “listened” to 22 books. I have also “read” 7 books. Most of the books I really want to read aren’t available in audio format at the library, so I’ve just been borrowing them from friends, or picking them up at Powells. But now I have a new format for aquiring audio books, and I am stoked. I recently joined audio book worm. It is basically netflix for books on cd. You put together a que of books you want to listen to, pay a monthly fee, and the audio books are mailed to your house. When your done, you just mail it back and they send you the next book.

I love this new program and am of course coming up with titles to add to my que much faster than I can listen to them. Audio Book Worm doesn’t have every book ever published in audio format. They only have like 300,000 titles. When I searched the winners of the national book award for the last five years, none of them were available. Apparently there aren’t that many listeners interested in good literature. But they do have the Twilight Series, so I’ll finally be able to hold my own in discussions of pop culture.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The human desire to collect things is a peculer thing. Nobody needs hundereds of anything. Yet there are enough collectors in the world to prove that when people find something they like there is a natural desire to attempt to aquire more of it.

When I was a kid I collected broshures. Everytime my family would ride on a farry or stop at a rest area, I would examine the banks of brotures in search of a flier from some local travel destination I didn’t have yet. My broshure collection didn’t take up much room, I just rubberbanded my stack of advertizements together and stashed in on a shelf in my closet.

One of my friends from college collected Planters Peanut parifinalia. His collection began as he saved old peanut jars and stashed verious small toys inside. Then his dad found a Mr. Peanut apron at a flea market and desided to get it for him. That started the obsession. As a college student my friend regularly checked ebay and cregs list for peanut parifinalia. He had a storage unit full of the stuff, and even attended peanut conventions with other peanut pals. I did find my friends peanut enthusiasm a little odd. But he was a cool guy when he wasn’t talking about nuts, so I tried not to let it bother me.

I guess I have come to accept the need to collect. On my very first date with my husband he told me that he had collected tractors as a kid. Not model tractors, but large pieces of farm equipment, perfurably the kind that didn’t run so he could rebuild them. Fortunately, I live in Oregon, and all of his antique machinery is off at his parents house in Pensilvania. I probably should have viewed this as a warning sign and run away while I still had the chance. But I didn’t. Instead I found this cute tractor enthusiast fascinating. I didn’t know anyone who collected tractors, and figured I would have lots to learn, and therefore lots to talk about.

The problem is that I am now married to a collector of rusty metal. We don’t actually own any tractors. My hard and fast rule is that we can’t own a tractor until we own land to tract. Since we live in suberbia, the treasures in our back yard are limited to a fork lift, an oister shell grinder, two steam engines, a hit and miss engine, and a giant wood shop with every power tool imaginable inside.

Last week we went on an 8 day, 3000 mile road trip that lead to the aquisision of a milling machine, a universal machine, a tenon machine, and a band saw. These tools are all in various stages of disrepare and will need a lot of TLC before they become opporational. Naturally, my husband is just as excited about the act of restoring these machines as he is about one day using them.

The sad thing about this voyage of rusty metal is that we got all our new treasures from my realatives. My uncle is a junk collector by trade. He specalizes in buying old broken lethes and restoring/rebuilding them before selling the off. Naturally my husband was like a kid in a candy store as we wandered my aunt and uncles acrage staring at falling appart pieces of old broken down machinery.

I didn’t view the massive piles of useless equipment with quite as much enthusiasm. Instead I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball and seeing my own future. I’m married to a collector. I don’t have a stack of broshures sitting on my bed side table, and I don’t have a storage unit filled with peanut jars. But 30 years from now, I will probably have a dozen acres of land that’s covered with tractors that don’t run and bushes built out of antique machinery. Oddly, I think I’m okay with that.

Monday, July 6, 2009

America the Beautiful

As the nation celebrates its independance, it seems that most Americans attempt to express their patriatism by blowing things up. I know fireworks are popular in other countries too, but blowing things up has always seemed very American.

I'm not a huge fan of blowing things up, and this year skipped out on the fireworks scene all together. Instead, I have been camping. For me, emersing myself in the natural splendor of the rugged United States feels far more American than watching the rockets red blare, the bombs bursting in air. Oddly, not very many American's share this tie to nature.

I am actually writing this post from my aunt and uncles house in Colorado. To get here, I spent July 2-5th on the road. Along the way I made stops at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho, Antelope Island State Park (in the center of the Great Salt Lake in Utah), Dinosaur National Monument on the Utah/Colorado boarder, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.

I think I saw more Moose on the side of the road in Rocky Mountain NP than I saw people in Craters of the Moon and Dinosaur National Monuments combined. I expect that parks like Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and Yosemite were crouded on the 4th of July weekend. But I can tell you from personal experience, many of our national treasures were completely empty.

There were thousands of people crouding the shops in Estes Park Colorado, just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. But the park itself had a limited number of sight seers. I guess it is more important to buy the proper mountain gear, than to actually see the mountains.

In a way, this is probably a good thing. If people were flocking to our natural areas by the thousands the wild places would quickly disappear. I still think it is sad. That so many Americans can rush to outlet malls and movie theaters, and have their closest encounter with nature the waterfall screensaver on their computer.

Still on this celebration of our nations birth. I am proud to be a citizen of this beautiful land filled not only with subdivisions, but also with buffalo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Big Ending

For the past 2 ½ years, I have been volenteering as a big sister for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. My little sister is a percotious teenager that’s highly skilled at the art of getting herself into trouble. I often joke that being a big sister is great birth control – as seeing an obnocious teenager once a week is all the motivation I need to put off having kids of my own. But I have still loved the time I’ve spent with my little sister.

Our weekly visits have lead to me seeing every Zac Efron movie ever made and spinning around on carnival rides until I threw up my elephant ear. And my little sisters gotten to see Mt St Helans, Multnomah Falls, and she once gave Brandon Roy a high five (definately a bigger deal than viewing an active volcano).

Now my little pest is setting off on a new adventure without me. Her family is moving to Kentucky. I think the move will be really good for her, and her family. They are going to live with some friends, which means she will have a support system in place as soon as she gets there. But that support system will no longer include me.

My little sister isn’t a perfect kid. She has managed to get herself into a lot of trouble over the past 2 ½ years. And I’ve often wondered if watching “Hanna Montana” and eating Chinesse food was making a difference. But I’ve witnessed enough subtle changes in her attitude to stick with her, and I honestly believe she is better at making healthy choices now then she was when we first met.

As I was saying goodbye to my little pest and her family, her mom told me something that made all the carnival rides and trips to the zoo worth wile. Apparently when faced with pear pressues and unforgiving friends, my little sister has often made the comment, “Kate never does that.” I haven’t done anything great or nobal. I’ve just paid for a few slices of pizza and sat through some cheezy movies. And I’ve been there. Once a week for 2 ½ years, I’ve been there. And now I have to say goodbye.

I know I will never forget my little pest, and I hope that she never forgets me. I hope she remembers that it’s okay to act like a goofy kid sometimes, and that she doesn’t have to grow up to fast. And when the time does come for her to grow up, I hope that she knows she is special, that she is loved, and that she is capable of making strong and healthy choices for herself.