Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Childhood Games

We were talking the other day, husband and I, about how we spent our summers when we were kids.
Forget TV. There was only one channel for the longest time. And one TV in the house.      
Forget computers. The stuff of science fiction.
Forget cell phones. These existed only in the comics and in science fiction.
Forget any kind of on-screen games. Truly science fiction!

We didn't need any kind of gadgets that could get you hooked and hold you hostage. No, we spent pretty well every waking moment outside. And what did we do outside? We ran, jumped, skipped, and played team games.

– Red Rover – The more players, the more fun. Two equal numbered teams [minimum three players each] inked arms and faced each other. One team yelled, "Red Rover, Red Rover send [usually who they perceived the weakest], Cathy over!" Cathy ran toward what she thought was the weakest link in the opposite team and tried to break through. If she succeeded, she took one of the players and returned to her team. If she didn't, the usual case for Cathy, she joined the team she tried to break through. The object of the game was to get all the players on one side, which became the winning team.

Because there were so many kids in the neighborhood, we always had 6 to 8 member teams. And we played on the front lawn of our house, certainly trampling and killing what grass there was. My parents weren't fussy about the landscaping [not with six kids] so we did a lot of playing there.

–Eevy Ivy Over , also known as Eevy I over or Anny I over, or any number of other names.
Again, two teams of players, one on each side of the house. Team one hollered "Eevy Ivy Over" and threw the ball over the roof of the house. Players from team two, on the other side of the house tried to catch the ball before it hit the ground. If they did, they raced around to the other side and threw the ball at a player from team one. If the player was hit, he had to join team two. If not, the player who missed had to now stay with team one. However if no one caught the ball when it was thrown over the roof, then that team threw it back over, hollering the words again. And again, the object of the game was to get all the players on one side.

– The block one street over was undeveloped and grassy. We called it "The Field" and got our friends together to play baseball there. Fewer players – we played scrub. Lots of players – we made teams and played softball. We had permanent bases and paths to run. Every once in a while someone would hit a homerun and the outfielders, usually Cathy among them, had to hunt through high grass and shrubs to find the ball. If we lost the ball – game over. And someone was in trouble with their parents. Usually only one person had a bat and a ball. Most everyone else had baseball mitts, often borrowed from their brothers.

If we couldn't make it to The Field, and there were only three or four of us, we played scrub on an empty lot four houses away from mine. Handy and quick, within earshot of parents, it was a great place to play on an early summer evening before dark. When it got dark, and if the sky was clear, we would sit on a hill there and watch the stars, looking for constellations, for shooting stars, and for Sputnik to orbit past. It seemed we could see the Milky Way from one and to the other. A most thrilling sight, which I'm sad to say I haven't seen in years because of all the light pollution surrounding us.

Time marches on, things changed. We kids grew older, found different interests, went to junior high, then high school and on. The Field was developed. As was the lot at the end of our block – the hill was flattened, a church was built. 

Olden days, my kids would call it. Did any of them play the games we played when we were young? I'll be asking.

– Cat

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Happy Canada Day!

Happy 151 to the best country in, if not the world, then North America!

Thank you Mom and Dad for choosing Canada as our home.

— Cat

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A learning experience

The child is three years old. It has been a learning experience watching her learn words.

Mama and Dada came first, easily. Followed by Pa and Ma [Grandpa and Grandma].

The name of objects also came easily – show her something new, or she brings an item, a question in her eyes. Tell her the word for it and it seems she holds the word in her mouth as if tasting it. She repeats it once or twice out loud, and is done. She will remember.

An interesting part of this process was witnessing her learn and understand abstract concepts: time, space, quantities, qualities.

She learned her numbers to the teens. I think learning by rote, like singing a song repeatedly until you know it [baa baa black sheep...] becomes automatic after a while. But knowing the words of the numbers is not the same as understanding them. 

One day, two grapes lay on her table. She raised one finger, said the word "one," then raised a second finger. "Two." It was as if something clicked, because she has been counting ever since.

About the same time, she began speaking in terms of, well, time. She now knew the greater the number, the more time was available. Bedtime. "Two more minutes?" became "five more minutes." She began saying "later" "tomorrow" "next time." These are things she did not learn by herself but heard others say and pieced together their meaning.

"Too far!" She said to someone who was, well, too far to catch the ball she was throwing. "Ready!" When she was prepared to catch the ball.

She began using what I call "degree words" when eating her dinner. Ask her how something tastes, she'll either nod enthusiastically with two thumbs up, make an "ugh" face, or say "not bad." Ask her if she wants more she'll say, "a little bit." Ask her if she's done, "almost."

It came so fast – the multisyllable words, back and forth conversations with the rest of us or with whichever toy is talking to her. 

Parents are the major influence when it comes to children learning words, then grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins. Then there's that big influencer – television. And an iPad her parents set up for her with kids' learning games, music and songs, and some of the thousands of child-related websites. 

Learning is never finished, though. There will always be something new. But I have a feeling this child will do well in school, and life.

Earlier, she stood on a kitchen chair, flung out her arms, and announced, "I'm King of the world!"

Well, maybe she will be.

— Cat

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bring on the robots –

Sex robots. I guess those inflatable dolls aren't good enough. Too much one-sided action.

I couldn't find anything on Snopes, but I did find the article that was on the news about it. Even so, I'm still a huge skeptic.

So, is this someone's fantasy to fill a void in their life? Husband and I asked each other a number of questions pertaining to such a robot. Does she talk? [Or just moan?] Is she warm to the touch? Is she interactive, that is, is her response aggressive, passive, hot to trot? Surely she can be programmed to play different personas?

We had other questions, and comments, not fit for public viewing.

I imagine they would come in all colors – hair, eyes, skin. And all sizes, because some men prefer petite, others curvy.

And my big question – do they make a man sex robot? Now I grant you, many women already have a small sex robot that works fine. But some might prefer to cuddle with a handsome, lifeless, souless bot who will listen but never comment, who follows every order, who exists to please.

And yes I discovered they do have them. Interesting article in GQ about their skills and how good they can be for a marriage.

Watch them fly off the shelves. Both sexes. That is, if they're real. And if not, it was a good joke. [Can't believe anything on the news – it's all likely fake, given us by Russians or maybe North Koreans.] 

In an age where there are so many problems, isn't it nice to see that researchers are tackling all the important issues first?
— Cat   [the articles I referred to may not show that they are linked, but they are. Just click the word 'article'above, there are two of them, if you want to read further.]

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking – 1942 – 2018

                                                      RIP Stephen Hawking


                                                                January 8,1942 –  March 14 2018

                                                          You are my hero!

– Cat

Friday, March 09, 2018

Oh that fun computer!

A series of blunders

A few weeks ago I succeeded in deleting an important folder from my desktop. I don't know how it happened, only that it did. Could not find the folder in the recycle bin or anywhere on the computer.  Wasn't worried at first because I have an external hard drive backup system. Should be no problem restoring the missing folder. Right?

And now I'm ashamed to admit that in the four or so years I've had this backup I never learned how to use it. I didn't have a reason. So it was a complete mystery to me.

It took me three days to find the folder. Just getting into the external drive was hard enough. Then, I could not find my folder, or anything else in fact, because the stupid thing only backed up my C drive. Programs and settings. The D drive, all my data, was not getting backed up. For a whole year!

Last year, on February 2, 2017, a computer geek brought me a new computer and used the external backup to transfer everything from my old computer. I paid no attention to how it was done and only knew that it did the trick. Everything was transferred, and the geek set up the external hard drive to backup my new computer. [So it was his fault, right?]

Thankfully, my old computer data until February 2, 2017 was still on the external backup drive,  And there was my missing folder [minus, of course, anything I added and 2017].  Just as I was ready to grab that folder the lights on the external drive began flashing like crazy.  Then the flashing stopped. And it seemed the drive no longer existed, no longer showing on the computer.

Before I could get through cussing, the power suddenly went out, the house, the neighborhood, were totally dark. Great. Just what I needed!

I read by candlelight for about an hour, and then like magic the lights came back on. And the external drive was back, lights and all, intact. That missing folder is now on my desktop again!

I downloaded a recommended recovery program to search for any 2017 files from the folder, but because I didn't know that I should not have used my computer until I recovered the files, they were overwritten and unrecoverable.

Learn something new every day.

I decided I had better figure out how to setup the external drive to back up all my data.  More bad news. Clickfree, the maker of the external drive, was no longer in business. I could find no information, no help, no support, only a bunch of dissatisfied customers.

Doing some research on which external hard drive/backup is easy to use and comes with support.

So there went 3 to 4 to 5 days of aggravation and worry. And then the other shoe dropped.

A day or two later my speech recognition program suddenly stopped working. Not a problem, I thought. This happened before. Uninstall the program. Reinstall from a disk. It took about 45 minutes, and everything was humming, then a message popped up that setup failed due to corrupt registry keys or drivers.

I may try to fix it myself, or I may just hire a tech expert to do it for me. In the meantime, I'm using windows speech recognition, which works OK, but is not really user friendly. And because I'm still running on windows 7, it's about eight years old and needs an update badly. Which will never happen.

I'll need to throw in the towel and get windows 10.
But not before making sure everything is backed up!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sparrow's Journey

As they have done for the last few years, sparrows have chosen one of our hanging fuchsia plants in which to build their nest and get on with the business of life.

We don't know if it's the same pair of sparrows who return year after year, or if it's one of their offspring. They busily collected twigs and sticks, and for several days flew into and out of the plant.

Finally the nest was complete, and on May 10, the nest became a nursery.

The sparrows continued to fly into and out of the planter, usually approaching from underneath. On May19th we noticed the eggs had hatched. Mom and Dad sparrow were now busier than ever. Insects, worms, bird seeds – constantly feeding the little ones.

By May 24…

And the work of the providers continued. Back and forth, back and forth Mom and Dad sparrow flew to keep the hungry little birds fed. By May 29…

The babies had feathers! In less than a week they learned to fly, left the nest, and never came back.
At least we think they never came back. Maybe they returned at night and slept there. Maybe they just grew so big we didn't recognize them, couldn't tell them apart from their mom and dad or any other sparrow.

Baby birds don't stay small for long. We learned this one year when crows hatched some eggs in a nearby tree. Those babies cawed and cawed  all day, it seemed. I had the mistaken expectation that crow babies would be cute, at least for a little while.

But when I finally saw one that had fallen from the nest, I got a reality check. The baby was as big and ugly and temperamental as any full-size crow.

Well, that's nature. Hatch the eggs, feed them fast, throw them out of the nest. What birds do in two weeks takes humans 20 or more years  to accomplish with their young.

It's nice to know these birds feel safe enough to nest in our presence.  [The abundance of bird seed holders we have might also factor into their decision. A regular bird smorgasbord!]

– Cat