Category Archives: Personal Articles

Annoying Zoom Behaviors

Ah, the age of Corona and Zoom meetings. I think we need to look at our online, face-to-face behaviors. I freely admit I’ve been guilty of many of the behaviors in this list (that’s what got me thinking about making the list!). I’m learning. I try to not be annoying. Here’s a few tips.

Being late. When a meeting is called for 5:00 p.m., log in a couple/few minutes early. Check EST, CST, MST, PST. Nothing bugs me more than “waiting for the late people.”

Trouble logging in. This is new technology for a lot of people, a learning curve for us all. But if you can’t get in successfully within a few minutes, give it up. Don’t make 30 people wait and waste 15 minutes trying to get YOU in. If you are not sure of the technology, ask a few friends to help you with a few dry runs. Practice…muting, unmuting, screen on, screen off, wax on, wax off.

Background noise. If you’re not talking, mute! I don’t need to hear your TV, your radio, the conversation in the kitchen, or your ‘hmm-ing’ or ‘yeah-ing’ every few seconds. Copernicus called – you’re not the center of the universe. So mute yourself.

Background. My background is a Welsh flag, but it’s not flapping in the wind from the highlands. Don’t have lava lamps, blinky-blinky things, or other distracting flappy things.

Your animals and kids. Yeah, they’re cute. We all love cats, we all love dogs, we all love kids. But not when we’re trying to have a meeting. It makes for cute out-takes on the news, but these distractions are not helpful when we are trying to talk and concentrate on serious subjects.

Alignment. Can you align your face in the frame? It’s pretty simple. I would like to see all of your face, not just the top part or the bottom part or half-face. And I prefer not to be looking up your nose. If you need to, prop the monitor/screen/laptop on a few books to look straight into the camera.

Adjustments. If you insist on being seen, stop the constant adjustments. People moving their screens, aligning their phones, repeatedly, moving up down, in out, forward back. Pick an agreeable alignment and leave it. Or pass around the Dramamine.

And here’s a novel idea! If you’re not the main event, why even bother with video? You can turn it off. Try it.

Speak up. On a call about two weeks ago, I had to ask the other person to speak up numerous times (as in about a dozen times, to the point I just gave up. I would have tried to lip read, but I couldn’t see her mouth). Speak clearly, speak slowly, speak up.

The type/chat window. I guess it’s there for chatting, but must it be used constantly? If you have something to say, try this… “I have a question” or “I would like to comment.” And then wait for the facilitator to acknowledge you. The chat window doesn’t mean you have to type/chat throughout the entire meeting.

Getting up, sitting down. Stop it. Sit, pay attention. Stop fidgeting! It’s distracting and annoying. We know you don’t have ants in your pants, because none of us are wearing pants.

Speaking of pants…please, no panty or brief shots. Ga!

Bodily functions. Just no. I don’t need to hear any of these sounds. This ain’t your daddy’s frat party.

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Filed under Personal Articles, Social Networking

I don’t want flowers.

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I don’t want flowers, or a card.

I want real people, real time.

I want you to come to my parking lot and toss a football or baseball,

To meet me at the park and walk, apart, but together.

So I can see you from afar, and take video,

So I can watch it again and again.

I want you to remember me,

Remember I’m lonely and scared.

I want you to know I distance,

because I care about you, myself, and others.

I want you to know I hope to see you again,

that I imagine…

I might never see you again.

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Filed under Personal Articles, Prose & Poetry, Uncategorized

The spirit of Christmas

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Two young boys, huffing and puffing, drag a Flexible Flyer up worn wooden steps, banging and scraping. The boys are dressed like dark woolen snowmen from their watch-capped heads to their over-sized snow boots.

Mother stood over Little Sister, dressing her for the occasion – knitted cap tied under chin with a scarf, multi-layered clothing, and hand-me-down boots.

The three siblings slurged through heavy snow in the driveway, past the mint and white Chrysler with its push button start, into the snow drifts. The children are on a mission; they have their assignment.

They trudged a couple hundred yards – past the now-bald monkey ball trees – until they set foot on the school grounds, then ‘round the back to the dumpsters.

The school’s Christmas tree adorned the large lobby of Lora Little Elementary. After final classes marking winter break, the tree was dragged from the lobby and tossed unceremoniously out the loading dock doors. The tree is forlorn now, marked by several bent and broken branches and bent and wrinkled tinsel.

True to the elementary school tradition, this tree is twelve feet tall and wide as a 1950’s Buick. The Flexi Flyer is a scant few feet long, but none of the logistics mattered. If they did not rescue this tree, they would have no tree.

The three siblings dragged the tree past the sledding hill where one brother would break his leg, past dead weed-choked fencing where the other brother would contract poison oak, past the school’s towering metal and chain swing set where sister would jump, fly!, and dislocate her elbow.

Out of the schoolyard and down the home street, sliding down the driveway, around the house and into the back yard.

Much like Paul Bunyan, Older Brother dispatched his Boy Scout ax from its leather pouch and commenced to chop the tree to a manageable height so it would fit in the rec room.

They set the tree in a teensy, dented tree stand. They re-arranged the leftover tinsel then added their own stored decorations. Paint-flaked ornaments with misshapen hooks, delicately and laboriously placed upon bent and broken branches, until the tree brought the spirit of Christmas into the home.

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Filed under Personal Articles, Uncategorized

My history with horses

For the last four years, I’ve been involved in politics, protests, and purpose. I know more about this president’s* administration that I ever thought possible. It’s been a lot of bad news, punctuated occasionally with positive news for the side of good and for human rights. It’s been rather exhausting.

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Just last week, I saw this picture (above) of a horse and young rider, nose to nose. The picture is not epic, just a girl and her horse. But something happened to me when I saw this photo. I started to have flashbacks; I was brought to tears. I realized what I’ve been missing is HORSE.

I exchanged messages with the originator of the post, and it turns out – that family is from North Dakota!

I remembered a lot of incredible experiences I’ve had over the years, hence…

My History With Horses

Sally Starr 

I remember watching this Philly-area TV show when I was about 5-6 years old. I remember Mom and Ang buying me a Sally Starr costume – vest, skirt (complete with fringes) and boots. I wore that outfit to bed. Mom didn’t want me to wear the boots to bed, Ang said, [sic] “Let her.”

Patches in the backyard

When I was about 8 years old, Ang rented a pony for my backyard birthday party. We had a pony in the backyard in suburban Wilmington! People came from far and wide. The pony’s name was Patches (skewbald or piebald, can’t remember which). But he was in my backyard.

Truitt’s Farm, Suburban Wilmington, Delaware

Just a mile or two from our home, there was a riding stable. The trail was short, but there was a barn with ponies and horses. Ang was scared of horses, but she took me anyway, probably because I begged. I rode. One time, I said I wanted to go bareback. She thought it was a bad idea. She was right. At the first turn in the trail, I lost my grip and fell into a pile of horse—t. I ruined a sweater.

Racetrack, in Maryland

I remember a time I went with Ang to a racetrack in Maryland, guests of her boss. Ang told me, “You pick the horses, I’ll place the bets.” My picks were personal –  because I thought the horse was pretty, or I liked the name listed in the program. I picked seven winners (win, place, show) that day. Ang kept the bills and she gave me all the change.

Pony Club, Suburban Wilmington

Ang’s boss (same one from the racetrack) at the DuPont Company had some muckity-muck position in the DuPont Pony Club. I think Ang pulled strings to get me in, because otherwise, we’d never be able to afford it. I attended the DuPont Pony Club for three summers.

I learned about breeds, how to care for horses, how to curry, brush, comb horses, pick hooves, how to bridle and unbridle and saddle and unsaddle, and how to care for tack and barn equipment. Total bliss.

Maine Draught Horses

I lived in Maine briefly in the late 70s. A neighbor had two Percheron draught horses, and I was able to visit them occasionally. I got on once – with the aid of a stepladder. Those beasts were so huge, I felt like I was doing a split.

Carousel Farms, Delaware

Formerly the DuPont Pony Club mentioned above, now trail rides and instruction. It was nice to ride, but carefully orchestrated so not as fun as free range.

Thoroughbred in Maryland

I once rode a retired racehorse somewhere in Maryland – the Where and Why and What-fors are sketchy. I mounted, and it was like zero to a hundred in a car, only no seat or seatbelt. Actually, no steering wheel either – I lost the reins. Come to think of it, I lost both stirrups, too. It was terrifying and thrilling.

Campbell Soup Heiress

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Somewhere in my late 30s/early 40s, I worked for a Campbell Soup heiress in Pennsylvania (filthy, stinking rich). Our crew cared for over a dozen horses, all with fancy, snooty show names. I never got to ride there, but it was good therapy, to curry, brush, bathe. And muck. And one of the most physically exhausting jobs I ever had.

In New Mexico

I hadn’t been on a horse in over a decade (probably closer to two decades). I went on a ride with a private owner, up around Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid). I remember we rode through town, right down the main street. Again, the galloping scared me, but I’d been out of practice for quite a while.

For those who have exercised muscles believed long dead, my thighs had a fire-breathing vengeance against me days later, and I thought I’d never walk normally again.

Painfully Lovely

I’ve been bitten by horses, I’ve been stepped on and kicked, I’ve been squished up against the stall wall, and I’d still rather spend a few hours with a horse than with most people.

 

Do you have any experiences with horses? Share pictures!

Do you prefer English or Western? 

 

 

 

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