Gene Who?

Last Saturday Diane told me that Gene called and left a message littered with a lot of descriptive adjectives regarding my heritage and failure to communicate with the older generation of Cates. Diane told me every day since then that I needed to call Gene back and find out where he learned all those words. Today I finally called back to talk with him but totally forgot to ask that critical question. We just talked and reminisced about the Good Old Days.

Normally when I capitalize things like that I make it an acronym that would allow me to use it elsewhere in my post without having to type all those words. In this case, however, I won’t because using GOD for good old days just doesn’t seem right to me. So, I won’t.

The good old days for Gene extend well beyond what I remember because he’s well into his 90’s, and his bride, Shirley, is 90. He told me that this evening so I’m fairly sure it’s true. They live in Mesa, Arizona. I’m pretty sure.

Regarding all those words Gener shared, and where he learned them, baused me reflect on Gene’s educational career. He wasn’t a teacher, or a professor, as far as I know, but he was a professional student for a long time. During that career he gathered many Master Degrees in various disciplines. I once asked him why he never took any of those disciplines to the doctorate level.

He told me he didn’t do that because doing so was expensive and the net gain just wasn’t worth it. He was just fine lingering around with Master Degrees and they served him well both in his work history and as a topic of conversation.

While some of that the info shared in that last paragraph, most of it is fiction because I just made it up. Even so, the act of doing that may have unlocked knowledge hidden in the deeper folds of my brain where I keep stuff I don’t think about very often.

Gene is a source of vast knowledge about our family history. Today he told me that our Aunt Maude’s granddaughter, who’s name is currently unknown at this time, has the Cate family history back to the 1100’s. That interests me a great deal. Though it’s incredibly unlikely this young lady will stumble across this post, and contact me, it could happen. The world is, after all, getting smaller every day thanks to internet magic.

So, young lady, who reportedly lives in the midwest, your Grandmother was my Aunt Maude, my Father’s sister. My father is James Lynn Cate Sr. He was born in Hebron, Nebraska in 1900 and passed from this plane of existence in St. Helens, in 1992. That’s enough history for now.

Back to Gene … my family has a history with him and his family that goes back decades. I won’t bore you with a lot of details. Just a few.

While Diane and I were stationed on Guam in the mid 70’s, he worked for the Micronesian Trust Territory and lived on Saipan. Figure the odds.

We had an opportunity to visit Saipan and visit with Gene and his family for a long weekend over one 4th of July. I have lots of pictures from the parade we attended on that little island but they are stuffed in a box somewhere. Waiting for us to find them and digitize them so we can enjoy them again.

Having family close at this time was great because when our daughter, Jennifer, was born in 1975, Gene’s daughter, Kathie, came to live with us for a while to help Diane take care of Jeff who was 3. And me. Yes, I needed to be taken care of. I’m sure all the women in my life will agree that I’m the one that needed Kathie’s attention. However, it was great that she came to us. Not only was she immensely helpful, we formed a strong bond that’s lasted, gee, right up to this very moment.

A lot has changed since the 70’s, but we’ve retained this strong family connection. So, as I age I need to make sure I remember that and call Gene more often. Like weekly. I need to do it that often so he’ll remember who I am. Like I said … he’s well into his 90’s.

I’m fairly safe smack-talking about Gene because not only does he not read this blog, he doesn’t know how. I did, however, give Shirley the address so she can look me up and catch up on all the gooy stuff that’s drained out of my brain over the years. Shirley knows how to use her computer so I’m actually knowingly throwing myself under the bus about all this beause Gene will read this.

So, hi, Gene. Hi, Shirley.

Did I mention that Gene was a Marine?

Small World Stuff

Considering all the not so good things that have happened over the last couple of weeks, this last week has restored a semblance of normalcy and happiness to our lives.

The good stuff started on Thursday the 14th when brother Jack had his aortic valve replaced and he came through with flying colors. He’s been waiting for this since he was about 9 years old, I think. That’s a guess, of course. I really don’t know when it was determined to be necessary. The point is, at this time, he got it done, he’s home, and it’s all good. Wynette didn’t actually say it but I’m sure she’s convinced he’s good for another 20-30 years. Makes me happy.

Then, on the 19th, sister Ruth had back surgery, not her first rodeo, and it also went well. Last I heard she was still in a little pain but at a lower level of normal than she’s experienced over the past many years. We’re happy she got some relief.

On the 20th it just kept getting better when we loaded up the RV and headed south to Keizer, Oregon to visit with our old Winnebago friends Terry, Carolann, Susie, Cliff, Les, Sophie, Pete, and Jeannie. We were invited to spend our time in Keizer at their Elks club RV park. Getting in was no problem and we submitted the required funds and got set up.

That first night we all gathered for dinner at Les & Sophie’s house for the traditional pot luck. We could do that because Les & Sophie actually live in Keizer, unlike the rest of us. Pete & Jeannie live just a short drive south, on the other side of Salem. Pete and Les are brothers. The rest of us are from other various parts of the country and aren’t, to the best of my knowledge, related to each other in any way. But, you just never know.

The next day we all went shopping. Diane took the girls, and Les took the boys. I would have driven the boys but before leaving home Diane forgot to remind me to put my wallet in my pocket so I drove the RV hundreds of miles without a driver’s license on my body. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and no one ratted me out, so the police weren’t involved.

When we returned to our respective RVs from shopping, we discovered that during our absence Diane, me, Cliff, and Susie had been evicted from the Elks property because of a new rule that prohibits members from inviting guests to stay there. We aren’t Elks members. It was a little later in the afternoon when this happened, but Diane was able to secure a couple of spots at a nearby Good Sam park for about twice the price. But, we had a new home for the next couple of days. And it was a really nice one at the Phoenix RV & Storage Park.

That second evening we returned to Les & Sophie’s home to celebrate “Friendsgiving”. We did that since we knew we would be apart for Thanksgiving. It was a very good substitute, and one we can celebrate whenever we get together. We did it with all the normal Thanksgiving trimmings and it was terrific. I had to sit at the kid’s table for this meal. I’m not sure why. Apparently I was a little unruly at the pot luck the previous day.

On the 22nd we guys visited Harbor Freight to pick up some necessary “stuff” then went back to the Elks RV Park where Terry & Les raced their electric scooters. There was a lot of posturing and chest pounding leading up to the race about how Terry’s new seat cost more than Les’s shooter (which doesn’t have a seat). When it was all said and done the rig with a seat was the clear winner.

Sadly, that didn’t stop the chest pounding and only primed the pump for cheaper and faster scooters. This could really get ugly. Since we’re all connected I might know what’s happening and can share results.

Now for the small world stuff … after the shopping was done we all descended on a Taco Del Mar for lunch and had a nice visit. Men in one booth, women in another. Kind of like a high school dance. While listening to Terry relate a story to Less he mentioned someone named Pinkston which caused my ears to perk up.

Diane should have been closer because she loves it when my ears perk up. She says it makes me look like a little chihuahua puppy. Makes your heart melt a little, doesn’t it?

I waited for a reasonable pause in Terry’s story to ask about the Pinkston reference and to discover if he knew Adam Pinkston. He said “sure, He’s married to Alicia and they have a bunch of daughters.” I responded, “Huh” because I also know Adam … Alicia is my cousin.

Small World.

Compounding this baffling revelation is that Daniel and our daughter Jennifer invited me and Diane to lunch with Adam and Alicia in Warren just a few days ago. You see, Adam has applied for a job at Daniel and Jennifer’s church in St. Helens and they didn’t remember the family connection until the a little memory from long ago caused Daniel to ask me if Adam was a cousin.

Very interesting.

I love this small world stuff. In this expanding world it’s getting us closer and closer together all the time.

How fun is that?

So, I ask that you pray for the leadership at Grace Baptist Church in St. Helens to make the right decision to hire Adam. He’s the right guy.

Now, about the lack of photos …

I really did try to add them but, sadly, I upgraded my MacBook to the new operating system and when I open my photos application it initiates a procedure to update my photo library. It’s a brutal process. I let it run for 3 days and it got all the way up to 75% complete before I lost patience and terminated Photos. I thought that maybe if I turned my computer all the way off and did a hard restart something different would happen. But it didn’t. It was still painfully slow. Now I’m convinced there’s a bug in the bush that I must discover before I can access my photos on this machine. Once I figure it out I’ll revisit this post and add some color.

I’m sure there are other alternatives but they will have to wait until we return home.

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful, safe Thanksgiving celebration. Keep us in mind when you think about all those other people who choose to wander around on potentially icy freeways at this time of year.

Pinterest

If you have been sucked in to the mind-boggling world of Pinterest, raise your hand. I’d wager that the majority of you caught yourself just before actually doing that, but you really did raise your hand mentally. Pinterest is addictive. It’s a terrible affliction and I suspect it won’t be long before someone comes up with way to wean us away from all those incredible projects that ‘other’ people do. Either that, or some lawyer will come up with a way where we can sue whoever created that creative web site so we can pay a therapist. The therapist, no doubt, will also be hooked and needs that money to help pay for the material needed to realize their dream of building that solar collector out of soda cans, or an owl out of unwanted eating utensils and jar lids. It just looks so easy.

Now here’s the problem. There just isn’t enough time available for me to expend the energy needed to focus down on just one thing. My head is usually full of a rat’s nest of mostly incoherent thoughts and looking at any Pinterest email feeds my frenzied synapses. Consequently, feeding the need to look at all the Pinterest related information I receive does not leave ANY time to feed the desire to actually accomplish something.

Speaking of Pinterest emails, although I enjoy them, they add to my inability to extract myself from in front of my computer long enough to get pretty much anything done. Thankfully, with Diane’s help, I’ve found a way to schedule in bathroom breaks and she brings me food. Sometimes when I’m on the way to the bathroom she intervenes with a “Hey, since you’re up …” and diverts my attention to some household thing that really needs to be fixed. Once that’s done, I’m released from the hypnotic grip of looking at the result of other people’s creative talents, who obviously have more time to do them, or maybe they just don’t have a computer.

Hey! Now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe it’s the computer, not the emails. Should I just turn it off and see what happens? No, that wouldn’t work because I have a phone. And an iPad. I’d have to power down all that stuff and that would be devastating because I use both of those things to read books.

And play Sudoku.

So, I don’t have a solution for my personal dilemma short of sedation. I’m stuck in this loop and it’s actually kind of fun. However, I feel a bathroom break coming on and suspect that Diane will interrupt my trip back to the keyboard with “hey, while you’re up …” that will probably take the remainder of my day. See ya later…

Google Chrome

OK, I did it.  I downloaded Google Chrome on my iMac. It was done under duress because my bank decided to update their bill pay service and failed to consider that many of their customers use Safari. It worked OK right up until you pressed the button to actually send money to pay a bill. Then it went to a white screen and stayed there. Like, forever.

Very disturbing.

I’ve fought this conversion for a long time because I was rebelling against all those notices I received to upgrade to Chrome and I didn’t want to be forced to do it. “They” found a way to do it anyway. Thankfully, Chrome works well with my bank, just like the folks on the their help desk said it would. Also, it’s pretty speedy which upsets me because I didn’t want to like it. I just wanted to pay my bills, ya know?

Now, after using it for a few hours, I have to admit that I kinda like it.

I guess I’m a Chrome Convert.

Dang!

Appliances That Talk To You

Today I’m going to get excited about techie stuff. I’m doing that because I love inanimate ‘things’ that are capable of sending emails. Like our smoke alarms, for instance. Yes, they talk to me on a regular basis.

We have three of them in the house and they are all part of a Nest network that includes an internet connected thermostat, and a camera.

The smoke alarm that’s in charge, the one in the basement, I think, sends an email once a month to alert me that it’s going to test the system and to not be alarmed. It’s only a test. But, the will be noise. A few minutes later each of the three alarms are activated, one after another, with a lower volume than normal.

The thermostat doesn’t talk but it allows me to change settings from anywhere in the world. I’ve been known to fiddle with the temperature when one of the kids are house sitting for us during one of our infrequent absences from the premises. Keeps them on their toes.

My newest addition to my smart appliances is my CPAP. Yesterday morning, much to Diane’s delight, I had a 0730 appointment at the VA Medical Center in Portland for them to check my CPAP. It was routine visit at the end of which the tech gave me a new machine. I’ve had the old one for well over 10 years but it still works so she let me keep it as a spare should the new one fail. That was good because now I can just leave the old one in the trailer and not worry about having to move it from the the house. Moving it isn’t a big deal unless I forget to also move the power supply. Which I’ve done. More than once. Let me tell you – that isn’t a good thing to do if you’re trying to impress your spouse about how hard you’re working to ensure her vacation is going to be stress free, and quiet.

Now, the problem with not taking the new CPAP wherever we go is that by using the old unit I won’t get credit for using the new one and it sends me an email, every day, to tell me how great I’m doing. This thing even has an Airplane Mode so you can use it on an airplane. I have to admit that I would have never been tempted to do that.

The thing about having the Airplane Mode is that the unit automatically connects to the internet. All by itself. I find that interesting because our internet at home requires a password, but it connects anyway. So, I’m thinking that the NSA may have something to do with the people who own the company so they can keep tabs on me. The tech told me that the unit only transmits via internet, but it cannot receive. She told me that when I voice a concern that someone random hacker could get to my CPAP and suffocate me. I think she was truthful, but you never know.

I think that’s enough of that.

Today has been another good day because it’s almost supper time and I’m still wearing my pajamas. The reason I’ve been allowed to remained dressed in this manner is because I elected to (finally) do our taxes. I took it as far as I could but can’t finish until I get a question answered by one of the financial institutions with which we do business.

Now I’m going to get engaged with March Madness and watch basketball games.

Jerrie

 

My Stupid Computer – Phase II

I’m just here to report that I outsmarted my old computer. Yessir, I did that. Using helpful information I found on the internet I figured out how to make a USB boot drive that allowed me to erase and reformat the hard drive, then install Apple OS X Sierra. That task required that I dive deep into my past and reacquaint myself with the wonderful world of UNIX. It was a fun trip. I made it back alive.

Now the computer works just fine. When I told Diane that the failed computer now works, she asked if I was going to take the new one back. I told her “no” because I know, deep down in my heart, that if I did that the newly resurrected computer would fail again and cause me just that much more grief. So, the new one is staying right here.

As for the old one? That’s up in the air right now, but I’ll figure out something. I’m thinking about setting both of them on my desk, side by side. That probably wouldn’t work because they are both 27″ units. My desk isn’t big enough. But, I have some wood ….

Anyway, thought I’d just share something meaningful for a change.

Stupid Computers, Ears, Lions International, Jerrie, and Popcorn

Before I get carried away here, I need to add something about my trip back to Best Buy to retrieve my old computer. You know, the one that broke? Well, when the Geek Guy tried to refund the $80 because they couldn’t find any data to transfer he ran into a problem that required help. I won’t bore you with the details, like normal, but will cut right to the chase. The problem he was having was that when he brought up the purchase Best Buy’s computers had reworked the totals because the computer I bought the day before was on sale that day. So, in addition to the $80 refund I got an extra $200 due to the reduced price. What a deal, don’t you think? It almost made me want to go out and buy something else that I could return. But, I didn’t. I counted my blessings and left happy.

Here’s another update on the computer problems. I may have mentioned that I had perfectly good back ups on a 4TB drive I used for that purpose, and that the failed computer, as it gasped for life, felt the need to inform that backup drive that it was leaving and that no more backups were in the works. As a matter of fact, it told the backup drive that the backups it had could be summarily dismissed. So, bowing to the superior knowledge of my Apple iMac computer, my 4TB Western Digital My Cloud drive somehow made all those back files just disappear. Stupid My Cloud. Why would it believe a dying computer?

But – the new computer, the replacement, could access the drive, but I wasn’t going to trust it for future backups. Nope. Not a chance. Instead I set up the new Seagate 1TB drive that I purchased for the Geek Guys to use for transferring data. It works great and it’s dedicated with a direct connect with a USB 3.0 connection. Also, since the new computer so easily found the My Cloud drive, it also was able to drill down to the ‘Jerrie’ folder where there just happened to be a “Documents” folder that still had all the documents I thought I’d lost. Literally hundreds of them including one folder that holds a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the years. Those files were there because I apparently had the foresight to manually copy them from the old computer before it started losing it’s memory.

Life is so much better now that I have my Documents back. Sadly, the other thing that would have come in really handy is the Key Chain file which held all the passwords for pretty much everything I access. I’m guessing I’ll survive without it, but I really like all those passwords. Some of them I’ve had for years.

Last Wednesday I attended my first Church Council meeting in a year. Prior to that year off I served on Council for six consecutive years. For some reason I agreed to return for another round of abuse and was at Wednesday’s meeting to see what was in store for me.

The main order of business was electing new officers. Before any nominations could be made I spoke up and volunteered to be the new Secretary. One of those going off council was the Secretary and I can take notes. And I can type. I did this to also eliminate any possibility that I might be nominated for a position that had responsibilities. The ploy worked and I avoided getting a real job. Lucky me.

On Thursday I skipped coffee with the guys at the Kozy because I needed to study for a mess of tests I was going to have at the Vestibular Lab at Good Sam. I’ve mentioned this previously, I think. It’s all about the body’s system that helps keep us vertical, and makes us spatially aware. It’s pretty important, I hear. The testing took 2.5 hours and I appeared to pass them all. In the end I left with the knowledge that mechanically I’m kind of OK, so whatever it is that’s making Jerrie almost fall down is probably something going haywire with my tiny little brain. The Doc didn’t actually say that, but there’s really not another option.

During the vestibular testing I learned some amazing things about what they test and how they interpret the results. Bottom line, these folks can perform their non-invasive tests on newborns and discern if the child has any kind of hearing impairment. Really. A newborn. That just blew my mind. They do it with puffs of air, clicking noises, water, and stick on monitor terminals. One of the tests that checks the ability of the Cochlear to convert sound waves into electrical impulses that can be interpreted by the brain. My doc said they used to do this by sticking a needle through the ear drum then used that needle to induce the needed sound waves. Thankfully, there’s a new toy in town that does the same work simply by sticking a ‘thing’ in the ear canal.

OK. Enough of that. I’ll learn more at some point in the future after Dr. Brown reviews the tests.

Yesterday was a long one. I mentioned that Ahmed, our Pakistani Grand Son, a foreign exchange student staying with our daughter, Jennifer, gave a stellar presentation at our last local Lion’s meeting. Because he did such a great job, he was invited to attend the Oregon Convention in McMinnville. It was an all day affair that required we leave home at 0630 in order to be there by 0800. One of the first things that happened during registration was we all received stick on mustaches. I’m sad that Diane didn’t wear hers for the photo. Nifty, huh?

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Many people spoke, some of them were very good, we had lunch, and we (Diane and I) voted for new officers for District 36-O. Another thing that happened was all the First Time convention attendees were forced to go to the front and stand in a row so folks could look at us. Hank captured us.

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As the day wore into afternoon, and our time away from the house entered the danger zone for leaving the dogs alone for so long, we bid our adieus and headed out the door. We missed the entertainment, I hear, but we also got home before dark.

My Lion sponsor, and past District 36-O Governor, Hank, received an award. I got to document that. On the left is the Lion International Director, then Hank, and the current 36-O governor (the reason for the stick on mustaches).

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On the way to our vehicle Ahmed had to stop and get a photo with his new best friend who was sitting on a bench outside the facility.

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Now, for som totally unrelated information that may or may not interest you. First is a photo of our youngest Grand Daughter, Jerrie Anne Diane, (my and Diane’s namesake) during a class event on Valentines Day. Jerrie is sitting on the floor in front of everyone. That’s my girl.

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Next, and last, is a photo of popcorn we had the other day. Diane has become addicted to popcorn for her evening snack. Although it’s theater microwave popcorn, we put butter on it anyway – half a cube for a bag. Then it’s really good. Sadly. our microwave is losing it’s mind, probably because it was hanging out with my old computer during the night. Anyway, it cycles through all of it’s options, just for fun, while we sit in the living room. That wouldn’t be so bad except it beeps every time it changes something. Sometimes it gets really busy. We’ve been waiting for it to quit totally, but it still perks along. Even so, it seems to get confused with the ‘Popcorn’ button once in a while, popping the corn for only a portion of the allotted time at something other than full power. The result is a bag that only half popped. That happened the other night so Diane added some more time and just let it run until the popping stopped. Doing this pretty much fries all the corn that’s already popped. So, I popped her another bag which worked just great, and I ate the burned one. It wasn’t too bad.

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That’s all I’ve got.