Vinegar and Dawn

I don’t know why I came so late to the discovery of vinegar. It is a most amazing product and now we go through so much more of it than ever before.

One of the things we love is our Dirylite ‘gold’ silverware. It was a treasured possession of my parents and one that my aunt now in California had as well. Originally made in Sweden, my mother proudly received a service for eight from her mother-in-law, Anna Koerner. She had seen it in the window of a jewelry store in Cleveland, Ohio.

The issue with dirylite is that it tarnishes and its usually bright gold appearance is lessened. Polishing it is time consuming and not always easy.

I added to the service when I realized that a couple pieces were missing and now, thanks to eBay, we have enough for the entire family and even have dirylite candlesticks.

This brings us to vinegar. I soon realized that although copper cleaner does work somewhat on cleaning dirylite, it is not the greatest. I also noticed that if we clean the dirylite quickly and dry it as well, that it fares better. The grandkids love to use it and often, when helping to set the table, love to grab it from the drawer of the dining room hutch.

I now keep a bottle of vinegar with some Dawn dishwashing liquid on the counter for cleanup and for a quick job on copper, the acidic vinegar works well with some salt on the copper. In a pinch, I often even use lemon or lime. I found that it works equally well on the dirylite. This has made it easier to use the dirylite and keep it clean.

A stubborn stain? I add some salt, which acts as an abrasive but doesn’t scratch.

Simple, easy, and found on the kitchen counter, this is a winning situation.

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Thoughts of a dinosaur

Today’s snow shoveling job.

I am seated by the hearth, listening to the movement of fireplace air, hearing a crackling every now and then. I just got in after an hour or so of snow shoveling, yes, snow shoveling.

Ironic that a man who has a son with a snow plowing business does shoveling, but I am a dinosaur. I pride myself, in most areas, of not being backward thinking, but frankly I don’t think I am in the area of snow removal. I had planned to go to the gym today but will not since I have had my hour or so outside. I got a nice workout.

My son’s business had plowed us out in the front of our gate (which seals up the back yard). Unfortunately, the massive Deerfield snowplows had made a huge mess of the driveway near the street and it had to be attended to.

I hate snow blowers with a passion and hate even more the gasoline smell that often accompanies their usage. Their polluting qualities are also bothersome. In my yard, I avoid gasoline operated implements as much as possible.

I am getting frighteningly close to my seventies and my plan is to go down kicking and screaming. I don’t want to be relegated to canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, if they can be avoided by anything I do physically to ward them off. My mother always said, “Exercise is for the young.” I heartily disagree with that statement. Exercise is easier for the young, that is the difference.

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” – Toni Morrison

Tony Morrison is far from my favorite writer, although I truly respect her craft. Her writing style is not one that appeals to me. Her quote, however, sums it up so well. Water, like fire, is quite the potent element and able to keep things alive as well as kill. Take a roof and one finds that it is almost impossible to keep water from coming inside. Add climate into the mix and you have water that expands when it freezes and searches for places where it can penetrate and freeze, little by little, and work its way in.

Shoveling snow by hand is like being active water, you have to find the path of least resistance to remove the snow and put it elsewhere. When I shovel, I have to have a plan in my head for snow placement. In my life, I have often had situations that require me to pick up a load of snow and walk it ten, fifteen, or even twenty feet from where I got it and unload it, like a human dump loader. I find the best place to unload it and the best place to start. Not only is it exercise, it actually requires the mind.

I am a stubborn guy in some ways. I know there will be a day when I cannot do this, but for now, shoveling is still my thing. It is hard to break some habits.

Posted in Life in general, Snow and snow removal, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

The Lessons of History

Stewie in his Border collie glory, just hanging out and gathering some of nature’s dandruff.

We started out the day with a great movie, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’ We had decided the night before to see the movie early on Saturday and I thus purchased the tickets ahead of time.

The movie is very beautiful, well done, a love story, and once again depicting the havoc the ruling white class has wreaked upon people in our country.

Seemingly, prisons in this country were meant to keep down part of our population. That war between the North and South just keeps rearing its ugly head. It just won’t go away and the racists in all elements of the country just refuse to give up their evil ways, often even hiding behind the guise of religion to maintain their evil.

I thought about writing more of my thoughts and I realize that I am preaching to the choir. We whites just haven’t a clue and as much as we try, we are so alien to the experience of the minorities in this country.

One wonders where it is all going; one wonders when the shoe will drop and the nightmarish events hailing back to 2016 and even beyond will start reversing. Frankly, I personally look back on Ronald Reagan as a forerunner, a self-proclaimed populist spokesperson, for the beginning of all of this. He, himself, is nothing like what we have, but he kind of opened up the ‘God and country’ things and helped fuel the religious right. It continued evolving and pushed us all into a tailspin of negativity, hatred, and attempts at destroying any sense of progress we have made in the area of equality.

My thoughts center on France after WWII and women having their heads shorn for having ‘danced with the enemy.’ I keep wondering how we shall treat those who collaborated, lied, cheated, and were involved in treasonous activities. Will we shave their heads and parade them around? I hope that we are better than that although I must admit, I have more of an understanding of the feelings of doing so.

Those who are involved are seemingly that narcissistic and interested in self-aggrandizement to the point that they totally forget that history will judge them for what they are and that it will not be pretty.

Posted in Cinema, Equality for All, Life in general, The Scandal of the 2016 Presidential Elections, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Technology Frustrations and the smell of Venison Goulash

I was slow to get up this morning, so much that MK was actually downstairs before I was, which hasn’t happened in the longest time.

I came down and had a leisurely moment after walking the dog and having breakfast. I decided I would call the Oakton ‘Helpdesk’ to see if they had any idea when I might be able to update the Microsoft Office that is plaguing me and they said they had no idea. I reiterated that I get it, that it is beyond their control, but that I am not happy that a faculty member can e-mail them and they don’t answer. When I originally went to the online community college website, there was no phone number to call, just an e-mail. I finally got an e-mail, well over a week after I sent it, and saw a phone number. I now have it. I went online and saw that there is a phone number listed so it makes me wonder how I missed that. Nonetheless, they are less than responsive. Today’s conversation pushed me to spend the some $150 to get an updated version of Microsoft Office. It appears that the e-mail response time is between 10 and 14 days. Seems that something is awry there.

Since I was buying it from Microsoft, I thought I would avoid issues, but I spent several hours spinning my wheels before calling and then I had to deal with robotized responses. I finally found an online ‘chat’ that got me help with the chap I was communicating with, ‘Iankielm,’ who finally took control of my computer. I watched as ‘he?’ took control and removed all remnants of Microsoft Office before restarting my laptop. ‘He?’ didn’t explain what I needed to do but I assumed that I just needed to reinstall and that is what I did. It worked.

Mike and I went to my gym so that we could reinstate him at the gym and get both of us a better price. We were under a ‘time gun’ and only had fifteen minutes of exercise before coming home. I then went to the store for some provisions so I could make Venison Goulash with just over three pounds of venison from a recent local ‘bow and arrow’ kill of deer. There is a large estate belonging to a former Chicago newscaster that needs deer culling to keep deer from starving and destroying plant life. He is well known for his grass fed beef. That deer ended up in my goulash pot.

I am writing as it slowly simmers on my stove and the smell is overwhelmingly pleasant. What an improvement on my morning!

Posted in Bow and Arrow, Goulash, Hungarian cuisine, Life in general, Oakton Community College, Thoughts and philosophy, Venison | Leave a comment

The Helpless Desk

A gray day on the North Shore…

I always mulched my Christmas tree and used the center pole for plants. I have gotten lazy with that, however. I still do as my grandparents and mom and throw my coffee grounds in the flower beds though.
[/caption]I guess that one of the downsides to not being in a large high school is that professional privileges like having a less expensive or even free access to something like Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.) is no longer available. Since late November, I have been trying to get answers from the local community college where I work as an Adjunct to see about updating my Microsoft Office 2011 (that I totally bought on my own), which is no longer receiving updates and support.

I have found that that the ‘helpdesk’ at the college is certainly not helpful. I e-mailed them (the college website only had an e-mail posted, no phone number) and it took over a week for an answer. When I did get an answer, it left me hanging, and I wrote them back and over a week later I have no response. I went into the e-mail and found a phone number and called them yesterday.

I found out that they used to have a site and code for a download of Microsoft Office at the college. For whatever reason, they seem to be (what I can glean) to be in negotiations or waiting for information. The Helpdesk told me that they would put me on a waiting list and that I am one of many. All of this is not helping me as I don’t know how long this is going to take and I don’t even know if it is happening.

While talking to them, I tried to explain to them that as confusing as all of this is regarding the Microsoft office, my big gripe is that this supposed Helpdesk cannot be of help if the helpdesk does not respond to inquiries and that as a person who has dealt with Helpdesks for my entire professional life, I have never encountered such a ‘Helplessdesk’ in my life. I also went on to compliment an IT person at the college who is one of the best IT people I have ever met, not wanting to sound like a total whiner and also just wanting to promote this incredible individual. As it turns out, this IT person is one that I contacted in the first place about the Microsoft Office and she told me she was contacting the Helpdesk and she got the same non-answer that I have been getting.

It left me with the Microsoft Office 365, which is free, yes, but can ONLY be used while on Wi-Fi access (as I found out), which means that I cannot just sit down at my laptop somewhere where I have no Wi-Fi access and word process. Of course, the Microsoft Office 365 info makes it sound as if you have a relatively normal program.

At this point, I am not sure which direction I want to go in. I feel really bad as I can afford the program I need, but I think of the Adjuncts, many of whom are living pretty much hand to mouth, resorting to all sorts of ways of getting by, often teaching part-time at more than one community college to get by and without appropriate insurance. Do I continue to be a thorn in the side of the ‘Helpdesk’ or do I just give in and buy the program. Right now, it is the principle of the situation. Situations like these make good people feel disrespected and frustrated.

Let’s see…

Posted in Academics, Adjuncts and their issues, Life in general, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment