Spring 2014 April 16 Wednesday

35 degrees this morning….. all time low is 30 degrees in 1950!  I went ahead and did my exercises routine, not too bad.  Sunny day this morning.

Working on “iMovie” on the Mac, have another instruction period at the Apple Store today.  While I  rarely watch videos, I think I need to learn how to compose smoother and better quality videos. It is amazing what you  can do with just the basic “iMovie” structure.  (Notice, I said “you” not “I”, at least yet.  I actually got pretty good with Keynote (Apple’s PowerPoint) and enjoyed doing it, but there wasn’t a lot of demand for slide presentations!  I do use it for business and sometimes just for fun for myself.  It is like a lot of things, the more you learn the more you know you don’t know.

I have probably mentioned this before, but the app “WeChat” is truly amazing. The main restriction (like Apple messaging and FaceTime) is the other person needs the program, but the app is available for any cellphone platform.  You can message, call, walkie talkie, video etc.  I am still learning it.  So many apps promise a lot more than they deliver (or there is really no purpose to the app, or other apps or programs simply do it better), it is always fun to find an app that delivers and actually has a purpose.

Tax day is past.  Computer programs have really saved time on taxes . Plus the fact that Aliene is so will organized, I spend very little time on fling taxes.  I always enjoyed preparing tax returns, and the computer takes away a lot of the paid.(still don’t help on the pain of paying the taxes!)

The Tennessee City Managers Association (TCMA) is having a session on “Lincoln’s Leadership Lessons” at its Spring Conference.  I am looking forward to these sessions.  The Conferences have become a lot more informative and valuable since the current Executive Director (a retired City Manager) took over.

It is so nice to look out my back window and see the “forest” greening up again.  It seems like forever since they were last green.  This has truly been the “Winter of our Discontent” and a long, hard winter, both in actuality and in spirit.  Spring is coming!

That’s it for now.


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Spring 2014 April 15 Tuesday

41 degrees, 17mph wind this morning, it was cold out there!

Normally, I like birds, but this morning one bird started some very loud chirping (or whatever you call it) right as I was settling down for my morning nap (that I always take after I exercise). It has happened several times lately, but this bird was extremely loud. I think it got in under the patio (due to the cold?), and it echoed. I opened the back door and it stopped.

I used to take a 17 minute nap after my exercise, but I increased it to about 27 minutes (I set my timer for 31 minutes, but that includes setting up coffee, etc.) I like to take one mid day (although about an 11 minute nap) and an early evening one (normally about 15-20 minutes. Except for my morning nap the others I can substitute closing my eyes etc.

Had an offer on the house, one we will consider. See what happens.

Heavy rain yesterday, hope the weather improves soon! Looks like it is sunny this morning, but cold. I will see what the “record” cold is for this date, it couldn’t be too far from it. Planned on going to a Memphis Redbirds game today, but it isn’t any fun in cold weather!

Hopefully my laptop will be back from the hospital soon Writing on the desktop and even the iPad hasn’t been that easy, but it was certainly easier than I was afraid it might be. I need to tackle setting up a VPN so I can access everything from China.

Making up business cards for the China trip. Printing two sides, one with English and one side in Chinese. I know I could never learn written Chinese, but (except the tonal quality, which is key) verbal Chinese is relatively easy (not that I’m any good, but at least I feel like I am learning a very basic version). Probably no one can understand me, but at least I’ll know what I’m saying and I”m listening to some Chinese books so I can get used to the sound and don’t go into complete cultural shock when I arrive in Shanghai.

It is strange to be living in a never-never land, with the house for sale, waiting for responses to job applications etc. Somehow it has become normal life, perhaps with a jolt when a job offer is made and accepted.

That’s it for now.

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Spring 2014 April 14 Monday

61 degrees this morning, light rain (probably after heavy rain last week).

Listening to my Chinese language tape, I am somewhat surprised to learn that in the Chinese language, America means “beautiful land”. No reason I was surprised, I just was. May mean that America was discovered by Chinese explorers! Actually the basic simple spoken Chinese language (with the tones, which of course is something I will never learn) is fairly simple. Of course, remembering what to say at the right time is more difficult!

This morning I read an article with the term “Grey Ceiling”, to represent ageism in hiring and other personnel actions. Four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed it, or at least not understood the full prevalance of it. Not me as such, but horror stories I have heard.

Speaking of criminals, I always get angry when I read about a group or individual that own the majority shares of a business company (usually a “hedge fund”), who borrows a lot of money to issue a “special dividend” to themselves (I have seen as high as 3 billion dollars!), they then “spin off” the company to unsuspecting shareholders and the company is unable to operate under the debt load (which unjustly enriched the previous owners) and declares bankruptcy. I guess in addition to wondering why these criminals aren’t in jail, why do the banks (or whomever) loan the money in such a scheme? I assume it is greed, the loan is probably high interest and they think “this time” the loan will be good. How is this any different than looting a company of it’s cash and leaving town? I get angry than realize I can’t do anything about it (other than avoid their stocks) and don’t worry about it. However, I can state my opinion. Lands End is the latest of these capers and I just read about it. Probably the less I say about my feelings about this the better since I am sure they are well covered by contributions to lawmakers.

I discovered an app “WeChat” (actually the person who we are consulting about our China trip told us about it, apparently it originated in China. We will be able to make phone calls on it on wifi without using the very expensive international minutes. I have used it a little and it works well. “Whatsapp” is another one. (I think that was the one purchased by Facebook, so who knows what might happen with that). Of course, the other party needs to have it also and I haven’t been able to get on my iPad.

I’m debating bringing a camera with me. The iPhone camera (or iPad camera) works so well, but it does have some limits.

Probably a rainy day today. Made my first “Memorial” pictures of some hats that I am going to give/throw away (so I remember the event). Trying to decide how to proceed after this, as far as where to post. I really like this idea.

Making up some business cards in both English and Chinese for my trip, and for use afterwards. I always have fun working on a project like this and probably spend a lot more time than I should on it.

That’s it for now.

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Spring 2014 April 13 Sunday

70 degrees this morning. Still a slight chill (with the wind) but was nice. Looks like rain and a cold front coming in (sigh).

Met with a local Chinese Native yesterday to review Chinese customs, some light Chinese language, possible notecards etc. for emergencies etc. It was very interesting.

We set up “Whatsapp” and “Wechat” so we can communicate with her when we are in China and also with a Chinese person who is actually living in China in the event of an emergency.

I really didn’t realize that Mac keyboards can be set up (as I’m sure others can) so that you can type Chinese (or many other languages) by type English into the computer. A very valuable capability!

Writing this on my iPad. Not bad. the key board, of course, is a little compact, but ok. I think I will start using a keyboard with my iPhone (a bluetooth keyboard) I may use my phone more for writing in that case, at least when I can drag a keyboard around.

The remains of the Sunday paper are beside me, tempting me to finish them. I have a lot of fun (or at least I do it rather I have fun or not) looking at the Sunday paper. I like the New York Times section on wedding announcements and the little stories they have on some of the couples (usually not more than 3) of ” how we met”, the Review of Books, and of course all the ads, which I review to find items on sale, make plans to look at the items on sale I am interested in, and then promptly forget about until the next week.

I hate to think about moving to an area without home delivery of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal etc., although where-ever that is (we don’t know yet). We just (as I am writing this) got an offer on our house, although it is not what we want. One of those times when you have no idea what is the right or wrong decision.

That’s it for now.

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Spring 2014 April 3 Thursday

73 degrees this morning.  Finally!  Still a slight chill in the air.  Some clouds, expected thunderstorms and possible tornados this afternoon.

One little guilty pleasure I have each day (besides my music videos early in the morning and my naps) is the “comics” in the newspaper.  I read almost all of the comic strips in the Commercial Appeal.  I don’t read two of them at all, I seriously follow or read about ten and the set are kid of hit and miss.  I prefer the comics where the characters can change, get married, die etc.  I guess for a brief period each cay I can enter a realm (or realms) of unreality.  

Sat outside on the patio for while yesterday planning on sitting out these some today.  Soon this all will be a distant memory and I want to experience it while I can.  It is strange to think that (probably) in the near future, the last 12 years will just be a  distant memory and I will wonder at times if they really happened.  One “real” aspect of this is some of the people I have met, dealt with and been friends with.  Both Aliene and I will early miss the friends we have made here and just many of the people we don’t know as well also.

I say all of this as a result of listing our house yesterday.  It (the listing plus we already have an offer) really made the concept of leaving real.  I grew up in areas where the people were generally friendly and neighborly.  I have to say that the residents of this area (Memphis area/Lakeland etc.) are some of the best and most hospitable people I have ever met.  I know a lot of people won’t believe me, but the drivers are the most courteous drivers I ever meet.  When I  visit in other areas, I notice the difference (more hostile etc.) immediately.  As far as the quality of the people, I can’t say enough for that.

Back to the comics, sometimes when I feel time pressured, I think I need to skip them, but I always read my favorites.  I don’t read the “peanuts” reruns, and there are several murky ones I don’t read.

Promises to be a busy day, have several appointments etc.  plus bad weather is supposed to be coming in.  

Several days ago, I noted I was starting to lose track of what day it is.  One major factor is when the stock market is open, it definitely adds some pizzaz to the day. Not that I have much invested, it is just interesting to watch.

That’s all for now.  I noted I seem to have a lot more energy early in the morning than late at night.

That’s it for now.

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Spring 2014 April 12 Saturday

56 degrees this morning, but expected to reach 80. Spent yesterday in shorts and scandals, may well today except for a meeting

Sitting in my “Second Place” (Starbucks) writing this on my iPad. As mentioned, my MacBook Air is in the Apple hospital, getting a new screen and who knows what else. I didn’t really notice anything but it cutting out for a short period, but thought better safe than sorry. I depend on it too much, although the iPad isn’t bad to write on, but nothing like the MacBook Air.
Spent a lot of time in my “Third Place” (Apple Store) yesterday, working on iMovie. It isn’t hard, just learning what to do when. It will take me a while to learn it. It is fun to work with and I’m trying to designate a small amount of time each day to work on it.

I started using “Yelp” in January of 2013 and I sporadically remember to “check in” when I am at a business. I am amazed at the number of times i have been in various businesses, especially since I frequently don’t remember to check in. (38 times at this Starbucks!). Steak and Shake is the highest.

One really good thing about the keyboard is the touch screen, especially for correcting spelling. Maybe the next MacBook Air will have a touch screen.

I just read an article where they argue Apple Computer has lost in innovation, due to the death of Steve Jobs and indicated by lawsuits over patents rather than innovation. Who knows. I just know they work for me and Samsung hasn’t. I tried a Google Chrome and frankly wasn’t too pleased. Cheap is cheap.

Talked with a Chinese native this afternoon who filled us in a lot on Chinese customs and is helping us with some simple (very simple) words.  I am working on getting some business cards.

Wonderful day today.

That’s it for now.

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Spring 2014 April 11 Friday

66 degrees this morning.  A “cool”  66, but it’s getting there. The sun is shining and the trees and grass are greening up.

Starting to take pictures of some of my “things” that it it time to get rid of.  I am starting on some hats which have long seen their useful life.  I wear them for exercise etc., but I have many more than I will ever need.  So a picture will maintain the “event” status of the hat (and in the future t-shirts, even books etc.) but I won’t have to lug it around anymore and hopefully someone else can use it!  I haven’t decided where to post them yet, I will keep them in a folder on iPhoto until I decide.

Had a physical this morning.  It was interesting, a technician actually came to my house and did the physical.  Overall it was good.

I am considering starting a “writing” business, if I can decide how to market it and if there is even a demand for it.  I enjoy writing letters etc., and I can (I’ll brag on myself a little here) can whip out a letter or document in several minutes that takes others hours.  Maybe there is a niche I can fill someplace and supplement my income also.  It would take a while to build a clientele, but it may be worth a try.

Preparing for the China trip has been fun.  I even downloaded some Chinese language lessons for my iPod and I will listen to them while I walk instead of my usual books and maybe in the car etc.  I have also read several books about the Chinese culture (including “On China” by Henry Kissinger, which have been fascinating.  As part of the conference and pre-tour, I will get to visit with Chinese officials of several cities etc. which ought to really be interesting.  We are also taking some side tours, assuming this will be our one and only trip to China, although you never know!   We area also meeting with a Chinese native who will review the culture and language with us.  We are also eating at the only “true” Chinese restaurant in the Memphis area to get familiar with the food, especially with Aliene’s eating restrictions.

Strange how chance plays such a major role in life.  I was mulling over the China Conference when I went to a “breakfast” sponsored by the Memphis Chamber.  There, I happened to sit with a person who owned a business that worked with local companies on helping international workers become familiar with the US culture, English language etc.  I mentioned to her we were considering going to China and she encouraged me to do so.  When I decided to go, I contacted her company, which advised me of the restaurant and the person who could help us adjust to the culture.

We have probably spent more time planning the trip than the trip will take, but it has been a lot of fun!  We completed most of the details yesterday at AAA as far as tours and in country flight.  (We are going to Shanghai, XI’an, Beijing, Wangzhou and then Shanghai before we depart!

Going to the Apple Store this afternoon for follow up work on iMovie.

(Later):  In my “third place”  (the Apple Store) doing open training (meaning I work on my own until I get stuck, and then there is an expert there to unsnag me.  I do love this place!

That’s it for now.


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