Ponderings and Musings

This!

I know most will not agree with me, but I found this segment of today’s Apple presentation to be the most compelling, and the most important.

There’s a lot of snark online about Apple and their devices and their features and all of that. I know, your flip phone could do everything plus bake a loaf of bread back in 1972. Your “blarrrrgggggghhh” tweets/Xcrements from your Android phone could wipe the floor with anyone and everyone that works at Apple. I know, I know, you need your superiority.

You know what’s superior? Taking care of the planet. Listening to Mother Nature. And Apple gets it right. And it shows, right here.

This was the most important message of today’s presentation. Let’s do everything we can to be carbon neutral, as fast as we can.

And let’s face it, Octavia Spencer is one fine Mother Nature.

Flag.

Neighbor’s flag.

A few of our neighbors have American flags in their landscaping and/or front yard. All do the proper thing and have solar powered lighting to keep the flag illuminated during the night. The previous owner of our home had a flag hanging over the garage but I didn’t see anything indicated it was illuminated.

It was well into my adulthood that I realized hanging a flag like this was much more of American thing versus patriotic displays in the rest of the world. Of course too many folks take this to extremes and wear the American flag on their underwear, hanging off their car, etc. which I think is a bit too much, though I do have an American flag top I bought in 1990 from International Male.

I don’t wear it anymore since it’d look like a crop top today and it was never intended to be a crop top.

Second Thoughts.

When I was in elementary school I was a pretty strong student, hitting the honor roll on a regular basis. Presented with the opportunity to take a test or a pop quiz or the “Iowa Tests”, which were a standardized battery of tests given near the end of the school year, I generally finished any of these tests first and would silently wait for everyone else to finish. I wasn’t one to check my work; I either knew it or I didn’t and over 90% of the time I knew the answer and hence ended up on the honor roll.

This all changed in sixth grade. My sixth grade teacher, a man in his early 30s that all the girls went gaga over (I liked his mustache but that was about it; I was still bitter about my much more “enrichment” teacher being let go at the end of the previous school year), he would have us put our tests or quizzes on his desk when we were done and then we’d sit down watching everyone else do the same thing. As usual I was always first and my grades would show it, usually 88 to 92. That’s what I did. A few weeks into the school year he pulled me aside to tell me a few things. First of all, I had to stop making my penmanship “too pretty”. I wasn’t putting hearts or stars over the “I”s and “j”s or anything, I just had a little bit of a loopy flair to the way I wrote and I didn’t see any harm in it. The second thing he mentioned was that I was racing through my tests way too fast and I should slow down and recheck all my work before handing it in.

This started my tendency to second guess myself.

My grades on exams went down a bit and being as literally minded as I can be, I didn’t blame it on going against my nature of just “I know it or I don’t” but rather, I was doing something else wrong and if I just kept checking my work I’d be fine. I took his words to heart and for the rest of my school career I slowed my natural thought processes down and became a merit roll student. I clearly remember watching students take their tests up before me and counting them so I wouldn’t be in the top three or top five, and I would change answers that I second guessed so he could see I was checking my work. I don’t blame the teacher with the mustache for the drop in grades, he thought he was urging me to slow down and check my work like every other student, but that just didn’t work for me. This is what I get for growing up in the tail end of the “one student is like every other student” era. It would have been easier to go metric.

And my penmanship can still be a little loopy but no hearts or stars for the dots.

Admission.

There has been something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while, and after several weeks of pondering on this, I have decided to go for it and make this bold announcement right here on my blog. That’s right, you’re hearing it here first.

I bought the official Apple Polishing Cloth.


There it is in glorious color, positioned at a jaunty angle atop the original packaging.

I mentioned this fact a few weeks ago on an Apple centric Reddit channel and was promptly chastised and mocked for having made such a purchase from an extravagant $19.00. Apparently I can go to the dollar store and buy some knock off wipes called Sham-Mee or Sham-Wow or something and accomplish the same exact task, the desire to clean finger prints from my M2 MacBook Air in Midnight, with the same ease instead of buying into Apple’s rapid and vapid commercialism and capitalism and paying a whopping $19.00 for a polishing cloth.

After all, in this era of buying $9 coffees (Mocha-Chocha-Woo-Woo-Zaire-Lite, no whip please) with more calories that an African nation, how dare I spend money that will make Tim Apple a billionaire.

I like my polishing cloth. It feels good on my hands, it completes its task quite well, and I’m so delighted I’ll probably buy another one to whip out at Starbucks.

Mocha-Chocha that.

Guest Suite.

I don’t spend enough time admiring the work Chris and Mike have done to make our guests comfortable in their suite when they visit. The guest suite is showing as the “Solarium” on the blue prints. The room features large windows on three walls, with a door out to the roof, which was suppose to have deck at one time.

The previous owner built a makeshift closet across the landing shown in the photo with our “guest iMac”; the closet had a garage fluorescent light, some utility shelves and a makeshift wall to actually mark it as a closet. If you look close behind the back, right hand desk leg, you can see a break in the molding where the wall used to be. After the previous owner put this closet in, they raised the price of the house $30K so we always referred to it as “the $30K closet”. We all hated it and when we did the monsoon related damage renovations at the end of last year that closet was one of the first things to go. The space is much better.

The door that goes out to the deck that doesn’t exist does provide a nice view of the Rincon Mountains and Redington Pass.

There’s also an in-suite bathroom with walk-in shower. Chris and Mike spent many hours painting and such to make it very nice for our guests.

It’s good to know they’ll be comfortable when they visit.

Thoughts.

This is me as I write this.

I’m sitting my in home based work office playing around my iPad Pro that is simultaneously charging. Since resurrecting the original Smart Keyboard Folio purchased for my 2018 iPad Pro back in the day, I’ve been inspired to do more writing and make more content instead of thumbing through social media sites and going down doomscrolling rabbit holes.

Last week I tried my hand at a few social media sites I hadn’t been on in a while, and while Bluesky seems interesting, it doesn’t really compel me that much, outside of the Bodega Cats account I’ve been following. I really like Bodega Cats.

I’m still not interested in resurrecting my presence on Twitter (or whatever it’s called these days) so while I still have my dead account on there I’m not doing much with it.

The bulk of my social media experience has been through either Mastodon or Facebook, with the two serving very different purposes for me: Facebook to keep the family up to date and Mastodon to interact with folks that share common interests with me. For some reason I feel less inhibited on Mastodon than on other places. I know inhibition is a strange thing in the world of anonymous screaming and screeching, but since I tend to attach my real name to my posts I try to keep it reasonable.

With all the driving we’ve done this past weekend I’ve had a good amount of time to think and assess of where I am in life, where my mind is at, and how I’m feeling about the world. During our ride to Phoenix yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I was not thrilled with the idea of voting for Joe Biden again but that unless something much better comes along I’ll vote for him. I’m really, really ready for the older generation to move aside and Gen Xers and upcoming millennials to start taking the reins in government. It doesn’t mean it’ll make things better but hopefully it means we can swing the pendulum controlling this country in a different direction.

As I get older I find that I lose focus faster, especially at work, and that’s something I need to get railed in. Everything is going fine at work and I’m doing great at my career. My team is performing very well and together we produce great results for the company, but I’m never satisfied with my performance. I always feel like I’m one notch away from where I should be, and that’s mostly because of my brain chemistry and just seeing the world different than most. Everyone can see in the box. If I can find the box it’s usually in another room and I feel like I’m peering in while looking the other direction and hanging upside down from a lamp or something.

I’m still excited about my aviation adventures and flying with my husband from place to place but it is becoming very, very expensive. Even as an accomplished private pilot with a few ratings attached to my certificate, I find it very expensive to fly an airplane for fun; fuel costs are high and insurance costs are ridiculously high. I don’t know how much longer the piggy bank will last for this adventure.

Speaking of money, I am sitting here in my office where it is quite warm because our main air conditioning unit bit the dust last week. That scenario is all under control and folks will be here to start the installation of the new system tomorrow. I’m happy we’ll be able to get things cool again by the end of the week, where Mother Nature is showing more record temperatures in the forecast. I know how very blessed I am to have a solid job and a husband that has made smart financial decisions for us over the years. I don’t know how many folks do it with the prices of gas being outrageous and the prices of groceries being ridiculous and all that. In the past I have contributed to a couple of folks on Patreon that were putting out interesting video content but I’m not going to be able to do that much longer. This makes me feel bad. The folks I support are putting out content different than the dribble found on TikTok or influencer stuff, and I want to continue to support them, but the budget just isn’t there anymore.

Chevron station in Phoenix, Arizona.

I don’t enjoy this economy. I don’t blame Biden for it. I blame everyone in government for where we are today. I blame the two party system and the idea that voting has become some WWE exercise and the cults of politics and religion.

I am really, really, really tired of stupid people and having to tolerate their willful ignorance.

To end this random post on a positive note, here’s a photo of an old MasterCharge sign. It hearkens back to a time when folks didn’t need to rely on credit cards to eat and companies weren’t doing everything and anything possible to garner all money and personal data possible from the consumer.

A big MasterCharge sign at NuTowne Tavern in Phoenix.

I’m smiling. I hope you are as well.

Quickly.

So it’s the last day of August and honestly I don’t know where the “summer” has gone. If we still lived up north we’d be looking forward to the cooler days of Autumn, and while it looks like Monsoon Season is winding down right on schedule next week, we’ll still have plenty of warm weather. It’s the reason we moved here.

I feel like the Summer of 2023 really never kicked into high gear for us. While we endured record heat in July and August, it’s been a relatively low-key summer for us. But then again, when you’re in the middle of the desert in the middle of summer you don’t really do as much outdoors like in other parts of the country.

I am looking forward to the heat retreating a bit so I can get back to hiking in the local National Parks and doing more outdoor activity. Up until last week I was relying on Beat Saber for my cardio exercise, but over the past week I’ve been able to go for walks at sundown, which is nice.

This weekend looks to be cooling off quite a bit as the monsoon winds down. I’m hoping for a spectacular lightning show at least one or two more times before Mother Nature settles down.

Experience.

One of the things I enjoy about my annual storm chasing trips is experiencing other areas of the country, solo, without a safety net. I try really hard not to play it safe; one of my fondest memories from my trips is sitting with a bunch of strangers at a bar, eating supper and having a beer or two, in Liberal, Kansas. I chatted with the bartender, a couple of guys next to me struck up a conversation, and while they clearly thought about the country from a different point of view than the way I see the world, it was still a good conversation. They were cordial. They quickly figured out I was from out of town and when I told them I was from the Lake Ontario Snow Belt they were curious about that part of New York State. I was curious about their corner of Kansas.

It’s good to get outside our bubbles. It’s good to hear the viewpoints of others. It’s OK to have conversation.

A Conversation.

I have no idea how the Tucson Unified School District works. I know that even though we live in the city limits (our properly line is against the city line) we do not live in TUSD, but rather we live in the Tanque Verde Unified School District. It seems there’s a high school every three blocks in Tucson, mainly because there’s charter schools and magnet schools and public schools and private schools. Students appear to start school at the end of July in these parts, but only if you go to certain school districts. When I look at nationwide ratings, Arizona isn’t high on the list.

Thank god we don’t have kids.

I try to strike up a conversation with my husband about the education system here in Tucson and how I compare what I see here to what I experienced growing up in a small town in Upstate New York. There was one school district in our town of 3000 or so people. If you wanted to go to Catholic school or something, you still went to public school but every Monday afternoon you walked over to a different building to go to “Religious Ed”. I don’t know what happened there but I like to think there were nuns beating on students with rulers for writing with their left hand or something. If you went to private school, and opted out of our public school system, you were shipped away to a far away land to join the military or be rich. Toward my senior year there was rumors of home schooling and some religiously oriented students moved from a neighboring district to our school system, but otherwise it was PACS all the way.

My eccentricities and incredibly accurate, while highly selective, memories of my school years put a smile on my face and give me points of conversation. After 27 years of discussing these things with my husband I’m surprised he can’t tell me what room I was in for grade one. (It was Room 104 with Miss Kania).

When we were recently at the movies, a local elementary school was advertising on the big screen to entice elementary students away from the public school system and into their “traditional school”. I don’t really know what that means but I assume there’s highly curated curriculums, uniforms, and God.

I wouldn’t trade my public school education for the world.

When it was time for college I wanted to go to a private college for my music education degree. I didn’t really want a music education degree but I had been convinced that was all I could do so I went along with it. My parents couldn’t afford the private college so I applied at two state schools, auditioned at one twice, and got in on the second try. I didn’t even try that much at the SAT but I pretty much aced my ACT and that got me in. Also, the fact that I played tuba and no one else did made it easy for me to get into music school. I flunked out in express fashion by the end of my freshman year. I don’t blame my public school education for this. I don’t blame anyone for this, outside of my lack of interest.

I can think of a dozen or so classmates that started kindergarten and walked down the auditorium aisle for graduation, the likes of us attending all 13 years of public school together.

Many are friends on Facebook. I really don’t know why but we are.

And even after typing this blog entry I still can’t figure out how Tucson Unified School District works.

Amen.