Saturday, January 31, 2009

Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done.

Andy Rooney US news commentator (1919 - )

I am not completely sure how much that quote applies to today. I did spend a little time on Facebook, but very little.

I always have such big plans for what I am going to accomplish of a Saturday - today - work on trying to find the family room, turn my mattress and change my sheets, laundry, pay bills, set up a bookkeeping system, write letters, clean the bathrooms and maybe some other housekeeping, run errands, sort meds, and stamp with my new Love You Much Bundle like we did in Ruth's class. - That actually doesn't sound like all that much.

Today was another boys play Halo with Dad day. (Despite Mom's abhorrence of games of violence). The plan was for us to work in the family room for a couple of hours before they left. However, we have reached a point where difficult decisions must be made. There are several old, old, ancient computer bits which I would cheerfully discard, however my chief geek here insists that they each have a wonderful use unique unto itself. We spent some time trying to figure out where to set them up so as to lesson their ugly impact and space hogginess. Somewhat unsuccessfully. If Joseph gets a hard drive enclosure (whatever that is), I think we agreed that we can MAYBE get rid of one computer thing. Maybe. Not that that helps much. It is just a rectangle that a monitor is sitting on.

Argh!!! and alas! Over the course of time, we have gathered up some really repulsive electronic waste which is in a big black garbage bag. We heard about a e-waste collection day, loaded up the car, and headed there immediately after work a week ago Friday. Wrong Friday. Naturally, on the correct Friday, yesterday, I completely forgot until I was listening to the radio waiting at the Light Rail station to carpool home with Joseph. A series of misunderstandings then ensued. It was 5:30 and I thought the collection was over at 6. Not enough time to go home, get the stuff, and drive across town. Also, I was waiting for Joseph. and waiting. and waiting. He thought I knew he was going to the credit union after work. So, I would have had time to go get the stuff, but I didn't know it. Now what I am going to do with it? I think I can take it out to the landfill where they don't put it in, but it is a fair drive and they might charge.

The boys did take care of some tree branches that have been gracing our front yard for a couple of weeks.

I don't know why I think I will accomplish amazing amounts of things with the boys gone. I don't. Some stuff, yes. Among them - I found out we were out of milk. Why doesn't anyone tell me these things? So, I went and got keys made for the guys for the newly re-keyed car, bought a traverse rod for the drapes we inherited from my mom which I think / hope will do nicely for the family room heat-sucking windows, and bought milk. I did do a lot of bill paying, but no bookkeeping setting up. I did manage to turn my mattress and re-make my bed in freshly washed sheets. :) Even though it took me until 8:30 pm to do it. A bit of cleaning in the bathroom, but not thorough both bathroom cleaning. No letters and no stamping!

It is past my bedtime. Family prayer, scriptures, and clean sheets!

Friday, January 23, 2009

On other fronts

While, I have not had a perfect week, some good news has come in from some of my children:

Debi - finally has a signed agreement from the bank on the house she is buying. Good thing, as she is supposed to be out of her current residence in mid-February, if I remember right.

Miriam - just started work for California Department of Corrections after being downsized from her office manager job for a small woodworking shop in September. Her first day, yesterday, went really well. Her job is close to where she lives and not far from where Debi works. They are talking about getting together for lunch sometimes.

and this from Teresa :

I just wanted to give you a quick update on David's exciting (but perhaps not so surprising) news we received this week....

HE PAST THE FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) EXAM, AND IS NOW A CERTIFIED -no I didn't say certifiable- EIT - ENGINEER IN TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the beginning of David's track to becoming a Structural Engineer, which is years and lots of experience away, but he's just taken a huge step in the process. I know, and you know, it was not all that difficult an exam for him...but it is still a huge success, and I just wanted to let you know! Can you tell, I'm proud of him?!?!?!?!?!? :-)

He took the exam in October and we found out a couple of days ago when he opened the small, white envelope and read...CONGRATULATIONS! :-) Whew! We can really throw away all those test prep pieces of junk mail! (We weren't worried....) We have the letter as the temporary certification, with the official certificate to follow shortly. Also...he took the exam during a really challenging quarter, without hardly reviewing/studying for it - I tell you, he's brilliant!! And he came out of the quarter quite well also...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dear Tech Consultants

Among the stolen, was my beloved, mildly ancient Palm Zire 71. A personal digial assistant that remembered everything I am supposed to know, but was not a phone. Which was fine with me.

They don't make them like that any more.

It has only been two days without Palm and I am going nuts. I reach for it time and again, to check something or to write something down. It reminded me to get my oil changed and when to service my car. I had my grocery list on it and tried to organize my gift buying. I had my scriptures on it. All the hymns and some of the childrens songs. Some good games - a boggle like game, solitaire, Scrabble, and a few others. Scads and oodles of memos of information. My overly long To Do list. A great clock application. and calculators that could figure time between dates. It reminded me which password I used where. Boy, did I use it!

In short, I want to replace it. But, like I said, they don't make them like that anymore.

Now they are all phone combos. That baffles me. I often would be on the phone and writing on my Palm. How, I asked, do I do that when they are one in the same. A guy in the hall at work explained to me, "Bluetooth. Speaker Phone." oh, that works.

So what do I look for? Guy in the hall was talking about some wonderful Sprint thing about to come out. But I am with Verizon. Most of my family is with Verizon. In-calling is a good thing.

Does anyone have recommendations about a good Verizon phone PDA that won't cost my mortgage payment?

Or do I just do a desperate leap into the unknown?


Sometimes I mistype and type motherof9. My last little one that didn't make it doesn't want to be forgotten.

I was still in very early pregnancy when I lost him/her (a painful term that insuates that Mom messed up somehow).

My marriage was in trouble - had been for many years, decades even, but I was beginning to really understand that it wasn't just a phase or a difficult period that we were going to work through, that there really was not much hope, so Baby didn't get a second chance. Here. Hopefully went to a good family with an intact marriage.

Oh, Baby, moms don't forget, even if they want to. Even if they do already have 8 children.

I hope you are in a good place.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A True Princess & a Real Prince of a Guy

Look at this email I just got!  Am I blessed with great kids or what?!  I responded that they should cancel the order, but they has been known to be a little stubborn from time to time.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sariah
Date: Wed, Jan 21, 2009 at 3:32 PM
Subject: Happy Mother's Day!
To: Mom Robarts <>

Ryan and I talked, we're replacing your camera for you.  I just ordered the same one you had (I think it's the same one... Sony Cybershot DCSW150 in silver.) and it should get there in a week or two.  So keep your eye out for it, it's shipping from  Datavision Computer Visual (or it might say
Happy Mother's Day! :)
Love, Sariah

Who steals my purse steals trash...

William Shakespeare, "Othello", Act 3 scene 3

I don't think my purse was trash at all, Willie boy.

In fact, I rather liked it. It was a little black backpack purse. (I also had an actual school back pack full of stuff stolen.) I had JUST BOUGHT IT right before Christmas while gift shopping, to replace a similar one that I had bought back when a friend and I were getting ready to go to a week long science camp with our boys which was pretty worn out. I hated to part with it, but did last week. Otherwise I would be using it again now - waiting for the strap to finally break again. But anyway....

I spent much of the morning filing my police report on-line, canceling cards, closing accounts, etc., but things are going along fairly smoothly with all that. I think. I do keep remembering more people I need to contact, so the work may go on for awhile!

In flagrant flaunting of the law, I DID drive unlicensed to my credit union on the other side of town where they issued me some cash, a few temporary checks, and a new ATM card. I stopped by the Sacramento City College downtown office to replace my student ID including Regional Transit pass, the student used bookstore to replace my textbook, the DMV to replace my driver's license (had to go in geographical order - after getting the necessary money), and even the grocery store where I got milk AND ice cream. I have not (yet) eaten any of the ice cream, although I feel like eating conspicuous amounts. I am seriously considering a carcinogenic hamburger.

As I type, a guy is in my driveway replacing the window on my car.

Oh, he's done now. Good. And he even left the window up.

I had thought I might be able to take care of both problems with the window - shattered glass and power up issues - at the same time, but no, different specialties. Then I feared he would leave the window down -we are just getting some much needed rain (I hope we get significant amounts, but it is not expected) - and I would have to spend an hour or so trying to coax it up.

Difficult decisions - can I afford to (because we know I want to) replace my much loved and constantly used Palm (PDA) and also loved new camera. Whom am I kidding? I am going to tap into my savings (for other purposes) and do it. Most likely. I feel guilty. I need to save for Andrew's mission and house repairs. If I don't, I will feel sad and bereft and cheated. I will look at the numbers. I think I can do it.

While not exactly great, it is not the worst day ever. There is much to be thankful for. All my Palm data is on my desktop, so I have access to the information. Nobody was hurt. Only the window was damaged. I am pretty sure I am making all the necessary connections. Being fiscally responsible means there is a little money available for small emergencies. Necessary replacements of IDs etc are being effected. Family and friends give great comfort and support.

Church Can Be a Dangerous Place

The only time I had ever had my wallet stolen was at church on a Mother's Day. I had set my purse up on the window shelf out of the way of the children while I helped in Nursery. Dummy me! The window was partly open and someone reached in and helped themselves.

You would think that should be a lesson.

However, I can now top that.

While our kids were in Seminary (early morning religion class for high school age students), my friend and I walked with my dog around the neighborhood. Leaving my purse and backpack in the car like an idiot! A church parking lot, early morning, another mom napping in a car nearby. But still.

Someone busted up my driver's window and stole my purse and backpack, including all my ID, credit cards, check book, cash, text book, a radio I was going to try at work, my new camera, my GPS for my car, I cannot remember what else and a very good lunch!

Most of which is not covered by my insurance and the rest of which does not probably reach my deductible.

I am a bit distraught.

Also - another word of warning - actually 2.

1- I have often thought and sometimes said, that if I were a pervert, I would "shop" at an LDS church. Lots of really cute kids running around loose, and distracted, busy, parents who think they are in a safe place. The two Seminary teachers, one also a Bishop (head minister of the congregation), said it does happen. The Bishop posts "watchers" in the hallways during Sacrament Meeting (main worship service) because so many people let their kids go out of meeting alone for a potty or water break and there are known offenders in the area. Offenders, btw, are like cockroaches. You may see one, but there are lots more. Watch your children, carefully!

2- Bad guys know that Mormons have long meetings. They break into cars, get information, and have 3 hours in your house without interruption. Be careful what you leave in your car. Be careful going home if your car looks like it has been tampered with.

Church can be a dangerous place, be careful but go anyway!


I cannot go anywhere because my car window is broken and I have no driver's license.
Ok, I can ride my bike.

I cannot replace my license because I have put stops on my credit cards and checking account.

I also lost my work ID, my school ID, which includes my Regional Transit pass, some RT individual passes.

We are out of milk, but I have no cash, credit cards, or checks.

I do have chocolate, but I don't think even that will help right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Car Failed

Andrew had a driver's license test scheduled Thursday.

The examiner asked him to roll down the driver's window.

Andrew told him, "Sorry, it doesn't work."

"Then you can't take the test."

We decided he should roll down the window. It rolls down; it just doesn't want to go UP again.

He put the window down.

"Honk your horn."

The horn did not honk. Tried it with the engine on. Still no honk.

And that was it. No test. Andrew had to reschedule. Next available appointment mid February. I may have him see if there are any dates available at other DMV offices.

So, after going to the Sacramento Community College for the Business Law class I will be taking , we went to AAA to arrange to take my car in.

I dropped Goldie off Friday morning and walked to light rail a few blocks away, reversing the procedure to pick it up after work.

SMOGged, oil change and horn. $250 The window will have to wait. For parts and $450 per window. Both front windows need it, but only the driver's side is likely to get fixed. sigh, it could be worse.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Nathaniel Hawthorne US author (1804 - 1864)

Well, no butterflies alit on our shoulders (there was quite a group of people, some of them very active children), but they did amaze and delight us and lift our spirits.

Saturday, after Scout Committee Meeting, Andrew, Benjamin, and I headed west in search of Monarch butterflies

There is a sheltered tiny little valley in Natural Bridges State Park where Monarch butterflies spend October through March. If it is warmer than 55degrees, the butterflies can fly. Many were flying Saturday.

This is a picture of some of them resting high in the trees taken through the Ranger's telescope.
Monarch Butterflies

Like many State Parks, Natural Bridges only allows dogs on paved areas. So after visiting the Monarchs, we went in search of a dog-friendly beach. Along the way, we enjoyed the beautiful ocean-front homes in Santa Clara. We also saw surfers (although I thought the ocean rather calm), kayakers, sailboats, joggers, lovers, walkers, bicyclists, people on the beaches, one beach near the Boardwalk that must have been nothing but dozens of beach volleyball courts - only a few in use. No skaters, I don't think.

There was no parking anywhere near a beach, so after a brief walk along the beach walk, and some aimless driving around Santa Cruz - including passing by the famous Santa Cruz board walk which I was surprised to see was still and quiet - we headed north along the coast highway. We stopped at a coastal access area and took a nice paved trail down to the beach. With Anna, of course. A little bit of rock climbing, exploring, talking to another beach walker, and it was time to go.

Sunset on the coast


Friday, January 9, 2009

There is nothing like a newborn baby to renew your spirit - and to buttress your resolve to make the world a better place.

Today the Accounts Payable unit hosted a baby shower for their man, Lance, and his new son, Lance. 
I asked my daughters with babies what to give him and they came through.  They suggested a Daddy Diaper Duty kit – with clothes/nose pin, goggles, rubber gloves, etc in either a (diaper) pail, tool belt or daddy apron.


I toned it down a little.  I bought rubber gloves and Joseph donated face / dust masks.  No goggles or clothes pin.  I found a blue laundry soap bucket and labeled it Daddy Diaper Duty.  Put in diapers, balm, and wipes with the gloves and masks amongst tissue. 


I dropped by the shower, put my gift at the gift table, oohed and ahhed at baby Lance – beautiful boy beautifully and peacefully asleep – grabbed some cookies and went back to work.


Several returning co-workers told me that my gift was the hit of the shower.  Lance put on a mask and wore it most of the time, not always on his face, but on his head and/or around his neck.  Anyway, they got a kick out of it.


Lance came, told me that he was "happily mad" at me and then he gave me a hug. 


Thanks, girls!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

We Generally Yell Loudly Enough When Things Are Mishandled

The ticket machines at my light rail station are on the outs.  This morning, the one on the north side refuses to accept tickets.  The one on the south side, first refused my ticket, then claimed to validate it but ATE it and refused to return it.


When I got to work, I emailed Regional Transit customer service about the problem.


How pleased I am to report that I received and answering email this afternoon informing me that they are aware of the problem, working on it, and will send me a replacement ticket for the one that was "eaten."


It is nice to know that customer service is not completely dead. 


Another company also got an email from me today –


I just thought I should let you know about a situation that may have cost you about $500-$600 in sales this Christmas shopping season.


In the store one Friday evening, I noticed that some of your cameras were on sale.  I came back the next morning with my consultant/advisor son.  The sale signs were down.  A store clerk did come by just then and I asked if a sale had just ended.  "No, it ends tomorrow. "  So, why were the signs taken down so early?!  He didn't know or care.  Nor was he helpful with information about the cameras - prices, features, availabilty. 


I went to another store  where the clerk was interested and helpful, and bought a camera each for two of my sons and myself, plus case and memory cards.


I would advise you to train your staff to have appropriate signs up, know a little about your products,  and to act a little interested - but not, of course, hover and harrass.


Yet another company I called and emailed recently about replacement parts for a product, purchased admittedly years ago, was alternately unresponsive, uninformed, and bordering rude.


So, Three Cheers for Regional Transit for a quick and polite response!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I know there’s a family room in here somewhere and I intend to find it.

Over 30 years with as many as 10 disorganized pack rats collecting things that “might be useful someday” or “have sentimental value” PLUS a few additions from deceased relatives - take it before it disappears and hope to sort through it later -and a woman who never quite learned how to be an effective homemaker. My house is buried.

6 of the 10 disorganized pack rats have moved on to other nests. Most of them are no longer disorganized pack rats at all and their nests are neat, orderly and uncluttered. Amazing their ability to overcome both heredity and conditioning!

One child used to love to collect paper. I remember sorting through her papers while she was at school one day. I saved papers she had written or drawn on and papers she could yet write or draw on. Lots of papers. I recycled several bags of papers that were not attractive, or sentimental, or useful She was very upset with me and she cried. Her house is always in perfect order now. I seriously doubt that she keeps a lot of paper.

However, some of their collections remain here to be dealt with and it isn’t all just junk one can dismiss to the local landfill.

The boys and I have been slowly, painfully, dustily trying to sort and sift through the mountains of stuff. I admit sadly, there is more shifting going on than sorting out, but still - the recycling and the garbage trucks come by every Friday morning and by Saturday night, the recycling can is full again and the garbage can well started. We have several large piles of things waiting for the DI truck to come back to the Stake Center.

Time out for translation for my non-Mormon friends:
D.I. - Deseret Industries - the church operated thrift store (I guess you could call it a chain) which provides employment training and opportunities as well as “treasure shopping” opportunities. Sacramento has one Deseret Industries Store/Facility.
Stake Center - a Stake is a geographic group of wards (congreagations or parishes), similar, I think, to a diocese. The Stake Center is the meetinghouse used for most Stake meetings and activities: it is also used by at least one ward. My ward meets in the Stake Center as does one other ward.
Periodically, a DI truck is brought to the Stake Center to make it easier for members to donate to Deseret Industries.

One of the sad things about unburying my house is realizing that it is in even more need of repair than I realized. There is water and/or termite damage in the family room The (flourescent) lights in the family room don't work and the ceiling is ghastly. The hardwood floors are a mess. The kitchen really should be condemned. Almost everything (except the boys' room and one bathroom) needs painting, inside and outside. My house has no gutters, which cannot be good for the foundation. And the yard! If it were not for weeds, my poor potholed front yard would have no “lawn” at all.

I do not know what should be done in what order, how I am going to finance it , or how to DO pretty much anything. Besides the time, energy, and getting to be an old lady factors.. I try not to think about all that except a tiny bit at a time. It would be so easy to be overcome with discouragement. (Part of how we got to this sorry pass)

On the other hand, for the first time in decades, we are actually making forward progress however gradual. The new management is slow and inept, but at least it is interested and trying.

The boys and I actually have joyful, hopeful moments when we see glimmers of what might be.

They have been spending the afternoon and evening with their Dad today - playing non-mother-approved video games of violence. I asked them please to come home “today,” so they still have a couple of hours. I had hoped to impress them with my accomplishments -perhaps even have most of the dining room cleared and a table therein when they returned - but alas! “Most” of the dining room is cleared - they helped with some of that before going - but, not enough. And the table I intend to bring in is still cluttered with office remants.

Two hours left of today. Past my bedtime. Do I take a nice bath and go to bed or try to get a little bit more done?

I think I will go see.