Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
Most of the time I don't enjoy being out in nature (bugs, heat, cold, wind, sunburn, etc.) but I love taking photographs of nature - especially Nature at her finest. The blue ocean bay at the height of summer with the sun glistening off the tide; the amazing fall foliage; the snowstorm that brought 2 feet of snow, with the evergreens hanging onto what snow didn't make it to the ground. I appreciate beauty, and I love to document it. At various times, I have been know to stop the car so I could take a picture of a scene that took my breath away.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
A rare sheet of 10 stamps depicting Audrey Hepburn fetched euro430,000 ($606,000) at a charity auction in Berlin on Saturday, two-thirds of which will go to help educate children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The mint-condition sheet of 10 stamps featuring Hepburn, a coy smile on her face and a long, black cigarette holder dangling from her lips, brought a profitable outcome to a botched stamp series that should have been destroyed years ago — and evokes Hepburn's starring role in the 1963 thriller "Charade," in which the characters chase a set of rare stamps.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Don't expect anything original from an echo. ~Author Unknown
Anyone who can be replaced by a machine deserves to be. ~Dennis Gunton
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. ~Henry David Thoreau
"Do your work as though you had a thousand years to live and as if you were to die tomorrow" so they [the Shakers] used to say. Work was an intrinsic part of their spiritual lives, thus its integrity was part of its appeal.
What is it like to think your job could be replaced by a machine? That scenario has become a reality to millions of people through the ages, starting as soon as the first machine was invented. After all, think of the many chores that have been eased for us as a society for which we used to have to labor with great difficulty. I can tell you with deep sincerity that I'm thankful I don't have to sew a dress completely by hand, that I don't have to wash dishes by hand or wash clothes by hand. But even in machines there are human brains behind them.
Let's take a washing machine, for instance. In the first place, a human had to imagine the existence of such a machine when there were none to see, and then the inventor would have to try over and over, with succession and failure, creating various prototypes and learning from them what works and what doesn't. Human brains even had to build the machines in the factories which helped produce the washing machines in great quantities. After all this human work, the washing machine lands in my house. I still have work to do. Sure, I only have to push a few buttons, but decisions are made by my human brain every step of the way. What items are going in? How are they separated? Considering the fabric, what cycles should be used? Hot or cold? Long or short? Heavy or delicate? What kind of detergent? Are there stains that need special attention? Should I take an item out to line dry or put it in the dryer? So far, at least, a washing machine has not reached my house that, when I dump a basket of dirty clothes on the floor in front it it, the machine sorts the items, makes all these decisions, opens its own door, sucks the laundry in, and cleans everything according to directions. My brain is still involved.
....As it is with medical transcription. It tickles me when non-MTs, upon questioning what I do all day, say, "What's the big deal? You just type what you hear." Oh my, if that were the case, there would be some very strange and incomprehensible medical records! Frequently the dictator will misspeak, and just as frequently my ears will hear something erroneously that the dictator did not say. The focus one must have for this job is incredible. The MT is driving along, sometimes down a familiar road, sometimes a totally new and unfamiliar one, and every second the MT is looking ahead to envision what is around the corner, at the same time looking in the rearview mirror to make sure everything was OK on that end, simultaneously trying to block out visual and auditory distractions as well as brain waves that would rather think about her personal grocery list or what to get her nephew for his birthday. And believe me, for most MTs, this car is speeding crazily down the interstate, not ambling down some lazy country back road.
If a machine can truly duplicate my job in a perfect way, then I'm not doing something right, because my human brain is my greatest asset in this job. As long as I never fall under the rule of "verbatim," a ridiculous (in my opinion) instruction to send the brain on vacation and type exactly and only what you hear, no matter how wrong you realize it to be, I am happy in this job. (Fortunately, I've always been allowed to use my gifts and my brain is always an active participant.)
I've heard that the Shakers had a philosophy of doing their work with integrity and to the glory of God. No matter if they were washing a plate, making a chair, or cooking a meal - they knew the integrity of what they were doing, and the importance of what they were doing, no matter how simple or how mundane it appeared to be. They used the same heart and soul and intent when they weeded the garden as they did when they designed a beautiful cabinet. The brain was engaged, the heart was engaged, their whole beings were engaged. What a beautiful attitude!
Changing the Thoreau quote above for my career, "It's not what you hear that matters; it's what you interpret." It's logic, it's experience, it's ear training, it's brain training. The letters, words, and sentences flow out of my fingers through my brain, through all my life experiences, every book I've read (even non-medical ones), every person's voice I've heard in my lifetime, nuances of speech, my education in French - and it all adds up to much more than a machine throwing back echoes. Through my complex brain storing my life experiences and learning, through my dependable quick fingers which follow the flow, through my heart which aches for the dying, celebrates with the newly born, and follows the courses of patients with their personal challenges and fears, through my very being, my job unfolds. I would like to think, yes, I do think, that that cannot be totally and in true essence replaced by a machine. I only hope the medical world realizes that and makes its decisions accordingly.
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Friday, October 01, 2010
I enjoy most foods, although I draw limits at things like escargot, eel, oysters, squid, and octopus. Then there are things that I could eat if I had to, but I just don't like. For instance, I detest rye bread, swiss cheese, and corned beef, and sauerkraut isn't my favorite either. A few years ago, however, I tasted a Reuben sandwich for the first time, and I immediately fell in love with it. Now tell me, how can I hate these four main Reuben ingredients individually, yet when you put them all together, my taste buds rejoice?! It just doesn't make sense, but I swear, it's true. Who knows why? Is it the addition of the thousand island dressing? Is it the grilled bread? Is it the chemical reaction of the various components? Who knows?
Friday, September 24, 2010
Something remarkable happened to me this week. As I was driving to work (before sunrise), I was taken aback by the beauty of the bright gold harvest moon in the sky straight in front of me. A few seconds later, I turned on the radio to our local classical music station, and within a few notes I recognized the piece being played - the lovely Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. That song holds precious memories for me, for its first movement was one of my favorite piano recital pieces as a teenager. Listening to the Moonlight Sonata while watching the gorgeous moon just seemed serendipitous.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
As I mentioned in July, we recently downsized and traded two cars for one (a Subaru). After about a week of driving the new car, I realized a major difference in it and my old Toyota: On the Toyota, the number right up top center on the speedometer was 60, and in the Subaru, the number in that same position in 80. As I drive mostly highway miles on my commute, I have always been used to seeing the arrow point straight up to 60; now if I go only by the arrow, I would be speeding at 80. I can't just look at the arrow for guidance anymore; I will have to watch the numbers until I get used to the new setup.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Had he lived, my father would have been 95 years old next week. As I’ve mentioned before, he died when I was 25 and my sister was 23. Of course, I think about him a lot, but especially around his birthday, and I am filled with regret that I didn’t get a chance to learn about him more. You just take for granted that your loved ones will be around for a long time; after all, my great aunt Bessie and my maternal grandfather outlived my dad. But Dad, being the most interesting person that he was, left before I could pick his brain. When he died, my sister Joy and I were just coming into full adulthood ourselves, and though Joy did enjoy some time working with Dad on some genealogy research, we never did get to spend the quality adult time that kids crave with their parents, when parent and child can join as equals.
For those of you who still have loved ones or close family friends who are getting on in years, now is the time to “pick their brains.” Some people do this in a documentation form, either videotaping/audio taping an interview, or having the older person write down some of their thoughts. Some, of course, just sit down and talk.
If you’re lucky, the elderly person will want to talk. Some, like my mom, become kind of uncomfortable discussing much beyond relating what she had for dinner, what her weather is like, and so on. Occasionally, she will come up with a childhood story, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth.
Here is a conversation I’d have with my dad today: Tell me some stories of when you were growing up. What kind of games did you play? What kind of books did you read? What was an average day like for you? How did you handle being an only child? What were your favorite and least favorite parts of school? What kind of courses did you take? Do you feel you made the right career choice? What are the most favorite and least favorite parts of your job? If you had been able to go to college, what would have been your concentration of study? How did you feel when you first became a parent unexpectedly after 12 years of marriage? You had 2 girls; did you ever wish for a boy too? What were your greatest fears and worries? What would you do over if you could? What is some wisdom you could share about marriage? How did you come into your faith? Are there parts of your belief system you question, or have curiosity about? What was daily life like during World War II? The Great Depression? How were you treated in the army when others learned you were a pacifist? What did you never learn or do that you wished you had? What is your greatest disappointment? Tell me more details and stories from the traveling you and Mom did before you had kids. What were the difficulties in having your elderly, sick mother living in our house when Joy and I were growing up? What are your ideas about death and heaven? What important ideas and values do you want to make sure to pass on to future generations? How does one best handle the aging process? Why do you consider yourself to have always been a “maverick?”
Through Joy’s ongoing genealogical research, we are still putting together bits and pieces of Dad’s life, but the deep, important things that made him the remarkable man he was are hard to ever discover now that he is gone. I believe it was Tennyson who wrote “Too late, too late, ye may not enter now.”
I certainly don’t want to end on a depressing note. I did have many wonderful, enlightening conversations with my dad, and he made us well aware of his ethical code, his basic understanding of what his role in life was, his call to serve God, his priorities, his social conscience, his willingness to speak up when others wouldn’t. What I wouldn’t give, though, for one last long, poignant conversation.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
H! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave. 'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath, From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,-- Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
There's a new man in my life. He doesn't care if I'm thin or fat, he doesn't care if I have a bad hair day, he doesn't care if I have wrinkles or sagging skin or a face without makeup. He doesn't care that I can't cook, he doesn't care if I don't sing as well as I used to, he doesn't care if the quilt I made for him has crooked seams.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
“Your days are your life in miniature. As you live your hours, so you create your years. As you live your days, so you craft your life. What you do today is actually creating your future. The words you speak, the thoughts you think, the food you eat and the actions you take are defining your destiny - shaping who you are becoming and what your life will stand for. Small choices lead to giant consequences over time. There’s no such thing as an unimportant day.” - Experience Life Magazine July/August 2010.
We’ve all heard it - “You are what you eat.” The proteins, fat, carbs, minerals, vitamins, fiber, etc., are all “building blocks” for the body. Whether these blocks are constructed wisely and build a foundation for health, or whether these blocks are constructed haphazardly with inferior materials and result in disease, fatigue, and body system malfunctions is always our choice. Of course, the problem with those choices is that they have to be made every single day, several times a day. You can’t just make a decision to eat healthier once and for all and expect everything to be smooth sailing from there on out. It’s not some kind of decision like what college to attend or whether to have kids or not - something that’s a done deal, decision made, case closed. It keeps coming back and back, every meal, every bite. It’s a decision that has to be made, remade, over and over and over.
The quote above from an article in Experience Life Magazine was really thought-provoking for me, for it takes the adage “You are what you eat” and expands it to encompass every decision of how you spend every second of your entire life. We are not just physical beings, and while we are creating building blocks that affect our health, we are simultaneously creating building blocks that involve our spiritual selves, emotional selves, mental selves - basically the wholeness of our souls and bodies. Every choice we make contributes to the structures that we call ourselves and the lives we will end up with.
That’s not to say everything runs in a perfectly straight line and can never allow for mistakes. Thank goodness there are second chances, changes of heart, do-overs, and such. We can undo some of the damage our choices have done to us, our bodies and souls and relationships. But in the end, our decisions and experiences are part of the whole package. They can be improved upon and repaired, but they can never be deleted. Yesterday makes us who we are today, and today makes us who we will be tomorrow, and the cycle is always in motion.
Those who know me are aware that I have written my own obituary. I will be 56 in September and I realize that I have more of the sand on the bottom of the hourglass than at the top. The process of creating and updating one’s obituary results in mortality staring one in the face. Each time I think about my obituary, I have to reevaluate my life anew. What do I want the final portrait to be? What is my legacy? What good changes have I brought to the world? I’ve heard so many people say that we miss the Big Picture in life, but what makes up the Big Picture? The tiny small pixels. Small pixels that on their own look meaningless and unimportant, but when put together finally reveal the complete portrait of a life.
You may want to join me in adopting this motto that I have selected to start each remaining day in my still-evolving life: “Small choices lead to giant consequences over time. There’s no such thing as an unimportant day.”