Who knew we needed fidget spinners? –     May 3, 2017 – Daily Chronicle 

Am I the last person to learn about fidget spinners?

I like to think I am abreast of the times as I read the newspaper (at least the headlines) and catch the highlights of newscasts.

But this latest craze somehow escaped my detection.

I know a new version of the smartphone is just around the corner, although I don’t really understand what a smartphone does.

I am delighted to live in this technology era, even if much of it is beyond my comprehension. How do they come up with these things? To think that there is a need for so many items is a source of wonder to me.

I’m not quite on a par with the person who saw a Thermos bottle for the first time. When told it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, he asked, “How does it know?”

Youth takes all this gadgetry in stride. While I am not exactly of the horse-and-buggy era, I have seen so many modern improvements, it never ceases to amaze me what the human mind can dream up.

A writer recently said, (and I quote), “”I must have spent the last month in a cave 500 miles from the nearest child.”

Granted, I am surrounded by elderly people my own age and considered out of the mainstream of life, but they are erudite retired college professors, teachers and people who still lead active lives.

We have kept up on some of the technological inventions such as computers, iPads, cellphones, etc.

We are part of the generation who fought wars, built factories and highways when the horse-and-buggy days ended, and there was a need for better highways and other improvements that are taken for granted now.

We may not fully understand a lot of the devices we use and appreciate.

But fidget spinners? Come on! What happened to just twiddling our thumbs?

Please bear in mind that this was written by an elderly female curmudgeon who thought they’d never improve on the Edison phonograph. (Just kidding, of course)

Bring on the new smartphone. I’ll be first in line to buy one if it will screen all telemarketing, surveys and other nuisance calls.

Is anyone working on ridding us of all the bleeping commercials on television and radio besides the mute button? That would be real progress.


A Less-Than-Awesome Start to a Career – April 14, 2017 – Daily Chronicle


April 26, now called Administrative Professionals Day, was previously called National Secretaries Day.

Years ago, before I retired, the nomenclature changed, but the duties remained the same – dictation, typing, filing, etc.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a secretary upon graduation.

After taking stenography and typing, I became a secretary in the high school superintendent’s office during study periods.

Other gals also worked for him, but the superintendent appointed me his No. 1 secretary. It was a no-pay job, and we earned extracurricular points for performing clerical duties.

I shared the outer office with a football player who had broken his leg in football and could not navigate the stairs to the study hall.

When the superintendent announced that I was to be his No. 1 secretary, he said one of my duties would be to dust his desk each day. (Whoopee.) I was just 17.

I eagerly leaped to the task, knocking his Parker 51 pen off his desk! I can still see it stuck in the oak floor!

I picked it up and replaced it in its holder (although the point was now ruined); snickering was heard from the football player.

Next, the superintendent asked me to add up the figures he called out to me. The adding machine (pre-modern calculators) was an old relic that had a total button that you depressed while pulling the lever toward you to clear the machine. The lever came off and fell clattering to the floor; more chuckling from the football player.

Next, the superintendent dictated a letter that I took down in shorthand. Preparing to transcribe my notes, I twirled paper into the typewriter. When I hit the carriage return, (no automatic wraparounds back then) the typewriter plate sailed across the room.

More snickering. By now, my embarrassment was total.

Upon graduation, the football player presented me his photo, upon which he wrote “I’ll never forget you, the pen, the adding machine or the typewriter.”

I learned later he was responsible for the pranks, loosening the screws that held the adding machine lever and the typewriter plate on.

I confronted him at a high school reunion years later. Ironically, he did not recognize or remember me. But I never forgot him!

I’m happy to report, my secretarial career became a reality, despite the rocky beginning.

Happy Secretaries Day!

(Sorry, it will always be that to me.)

Great Thoughts about Little Things – April 4, 2017 – DeKalb Chronicle

            I’m taking a break from today’s more serious problems of the world, and offering  something superficial.  These are my own personal observations, in no particular order.             I hope they take your mind off of more serious current  events.

             Picture yourself lying on your back on a grassy hill watching white puffy clouds floating by against an azure sky. Let your mind wander.

            A radio commercial asks if we would like to have our personal debt cancelled.  A phone number is provided for further details.  The first thought in my head is, what about those who pay their debts promptly? How do they feel about this?

            Another scenario is a mother and daughter being told they look like sisters!  The mother beams. But how about the daughter who in all likelihood is at least about eighteen years younger than her mother.  How does she feel about the comparison?

            While carrying a full cup of coffee across the room to my computer, I find that if I look at it, I spill a little, but if I don’t look at it — no spill.  Why is that?

            If you speak to someone in a whisper, in all likelihood, they will also whisper.  In high school I had a sore throat and could not speak above a whisper.  I whispered to the teacher, “May I be excused today?”   He whispered back, ”Why?”

            Why hasn’t anyone invented a shoulder strap for handbags that stays on our shoulder?  Same about bra straps.

            Try this:    Ask a woman what color lipstick she is wearing and note, she will lick her lips before answering.

            When I can’t hear someone speaking to me, I raise my voice.  How does that help?

            When calling the theater asking for the start time of a movie, the time is not accurate because we are subjected to an endless showing of advertisements that go on and on long before the actual movie starts.

            We elderly tell the history of a piece of jewelry or garment we are wearing when someone compliments us on it.  Why do we do that?

            When someone asks “how are you?” we seniors reply by telling them more than necessary. Remember, “How are you” is a greeting.  Don’t tell them about your indigestion.   It’s a greeting,  Not a question.

            These are examples of things that puzzle me.  How about you?  Space constraints prevent adding more.

Quitting to Gain Self-Improvement – March 14, 2017  – Daily Chronicle

It is customary for some people to give up something during Lent.

I don’’t recall it being Lent back on March 5, 1956, but that was the day I quit smoking forever.

Back then, as a secretary, I worked among men who were free to smoke at their desks.  Women, however, were not allowed this privilege.

This was prior to the women’’s liberation movement in the 1960’s and most of us just accepted it.

I recently read a report that “tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease, even secondhand smoke.”

Reason enough to stop smoking.

That life-changing morning around 9 a.m. I left my desk to go to the ladies’ lounge to take a few quick puffs. I was preparing a monthly four-page legal-size financial statement for our parent company.  I could ill afford the time away from my desk, but the habit was strong.

As I took a few quick puffs, I thought “”this is silly,”” and put out the half-smoked cigarette and never smoked again. I gave away a half a carton of cigarettes, ashtrays and a lighter I had received as a gift. I told everyone in the office and all my close friends I was quitting.  My statement was met with derision. No one believed I could do it.

The reason I broadcast the news was, if I failed, I’’d be too embarrassed to admit it.  As time passed, I was often asked how I did it, “cold turkey.”

If you try and fail, at least those days you stick to it, it’’s good for you.

The habit was so ingrained in me that after three months when I was offered a cigarette by someone, I actually accepted it, leaned forward for a light, until a close friend grabbed it from my mouth, reminding me I had quit.

My late husband teasingly said, “”People quit one bad habit, and substitute it with another: “boasting about it.”” Not true. I only talked about it when people asked how I did it.

If you put your mind to it, you can do most anything.  Why not try it?

Even if you don’’t smoke, is there anything else you could give up in the way of self-improvement?

Worth a try. Good luck.

Just don’’t ask me to give up my email, iPad and computer.

The Difference Between Knowledge and Wisdom — February 27, 2017 — Daily Chronicle

When I was a young pre-school age girl, I used to accompany my father on his errands around our small town. Whenever we met people they’d ask how old I was and when I’d start school.

My doting father would say,  “Oh, she’s already so smart.  She won’t have to go.”

In my naiveté I believed him until that first fateful day when he walked me to school.  I cried all the way, reminding him of what he always said.

He explained how wonderful it would be to learn to read and get an education.

Learning to read was thrilling for me, even though I didn’t comprehend everything I read.    I may have sounded intelligent as I repeated what I’d read, without really knowing.  A talent to remember is a good thing.  But does not necessarily denote intelligence.

My dictionary defines knowledge as “The state or fact of knowing.”  And wisdom is “An understanding of what is true, right, or lasting.”

Knowledge is fleeting.  Wisdom lingers.

You may know it would not be smart to jump from a plane at high altitude without a parachute.  But wisdom keeps you from doing it.

An instructor once told us, we can’t know everything…but knowing where to seek answers is the first step to wisdom.

We have much data in books, the Internet, Television, etc.  But do we have more wisdom than our forefathers?

Old age does not necessarily endow us with wisdom and good judgment, much as we’d like to think it does.  We seniors sometimes feel we know better in all things.

A by-word of the elderly is, “We never used to do it that way.”  This indicates a reluctance to change anything.  I give you the saying,

“The definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

War is a good example of insanity.

It is good to take away only what is important from any experience.

Mark Twain observed we should get out of an experience only the wisdom that’s in it.  A cat may sit on a hot stove lid once and know not to do it again.  But it also will not sit on a lot of cold ones in the future either.

A final thought:

My late husband said “It’s what we learn after we think we know it all that counts.”

What’s in a Name? — February 8, 2017 — Daily Chronicle

Donald Trump is the first “Donald” elected to the presidency.  I discovered six presidents were named James (“Jimmy” Carter, Garfield, Buchanan, Polk, Monroe and Madison) –  more than any other first name.
Five presidents named John (Adams, Quincy Adams, Tyler, J. Calvin Coolidge, Kennedy).
Four presidents named William (Harrison, McKinley, Taft, “Bill” Clinton).

No other presidents were named Donald, even though Donald ranks 440th as a popular name in the U.S.

One of Walt Disney’s famous cartoon characters is Donald Duck.  No political implication here on my part.

The Gaelic name Domhnall means ruler of the world.  (From the trusty Internet)

I wondered if any president changed his given name like so many movie stars did?  Would changing one’s name make one more successful?

Would Joan Crawford have made it as Lucille LeSueur?

Would Cary Grant have been the romantic idol he was as Archibald Leach?

Hedy Lamar was originally Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler.  But she was more than just a beautiful actress.  A not-so-well-known fact is that she was also a brilliant scientist and inventor.

When a baby is born, we have no way of knowing what type of personality it will have.  Do they become who they are later in life due to their moniker?

Baby girls are sometimes given masculine names. Does she become more masculine because of that?

Your name can also reveal your age.  I was once introduced to someone by my full name (Mildred) and when he heard my name, he said, “You must be about 50, right?” He endeared himself to me immediately — NOT.

Did I mention this happened years ago?

The Bible is often used as a source for names too.   The first name I thought of is Mary, of course.  Then there is Sarah, Ruth, Mathew, Mark, and the afore-mentioned James and John.  No Goliath though.

Is our personality influenced by our name?

Would I be different if my name were more glamorous?  I guess not when you consider “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Only works on the infamous rose.

I guess we are who we are.

Do you know why you were named as you were?


Conversation Starters – January 23, 2017 – Daily Chronicle


If it weren’t for the weather, 90 percent of the population could not begin a conversation, someone once observed.

We have often heard that we should not discuss sex, politics or religion in polite society. So what’s left?

I have been a longtime admirer of TV journalist Barbara Walters and her ability as a premier interviewer. In her autobiography, ”Audition: A Memoir,” she lists these suggestions as conversation starters:

Question No. 1: If you are not doing the work you are now doing, what would you most like to be doing?

I loved my work so this is a no-brainer for me.

Question No. 2: If you could live at any time in history, in which period would you have wished to live?

I love living in this technology age. Period.

Question No. 3: If you could be any person in history, who would you be?

I’d want to be Eve and tell that snake to go slithering off under some rock, and then I’d make an apple pie for Adam instead of leading him astray and getting us banished from the Garden of Eden.

Question No. 4:  If you were given $1 million that you could only spend on yourself, what is the first thing you would buy?

A painless spinal cord that modern medicine could come up with.

Question No. 5: Who would you want to be in the bed next to you if you were hospitalized for three months?

The obvious answer is the best doctor in the world. But aside from that, I’d like to have one of the great philosophers of long ago, such as Aristotle, Plato, Socrates (because he was deemed by one of the oracles to be the wisest of all men because he knew how little he knew).

Or historical figures such as Washington, Adams or Jefferson.

Humorists, such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers. Humorists who once met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, such as Dorothy Parker, or Robert Benchley.

My list is endless. I can’t just pick one.

I will put the names in a hat and draw one.

Try this at a social gathering. It could prove interesting, and more fun than charades.


A New Year and a New Miracle Diet – January 9, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

          I once came across this quote:  Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.

          With a New Year beginning, how many diets were begun on January 2?  Only 8% of the population achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, according to statistics.

          Depressing when you think of the high hopes everyone began the year 2017. There’s something to be said about new beginnings.  The slate is clean.  There are 365 days in which we can do some self-improvement – not just in cutting back on food intake.  Do you enjoy gossip?  Give that up and say nice things about everyone.  Or nothing at all.  That’s another way toward self-improvement.

          That is easier to accomplish because it’s not necessary for life but eating is.

Our social lives are geared toward eating and drinking together.

          During my working days, it seemed there was always someone having a birthday, bringing cake or other goodies to the office.  It’s difficult to resist at those times especially when we’re hungry.  Plus risk offending the celebrant.  That’s the excuse I used.

          I’d bring some tasteless cardboard-like treat that most often ended up in the circular file and was replaced with the strawberry whipped cream concoction that was passed around.

          When we are stressed, we like to reward ourselves by indulging in a cigarette if we are trying to give up smoking or a dessert.   It’s no small coincidence that the word “stressed” can be re-arranged to spell desserts.

          If we resist that temptation, there is the constant one on television with a myriad of ads showing delectable burgers and fries, milk shakes from the fast food chains.

          Isn’t it amusing that right after seeing people gorging themselves with these gourmet delights, there is a commercial for a new miracle diet plan you can join?  Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

          I joined a group diet plan one time and on the way home from the meeting, we stopped for a milk shake and other delights, despite the leader’s advice, “The diet starts TONIGHT.  Not tomorrow.”

          A parting cheery note:  The 2nd day of a new miracle diet is the easiest.  Because by that time, you are usually off of it.  So take heart and if you don’t succeed, Lent is coming up soon and you can begin anew.

          Good luck.

The One-room Schoolhouses of Yesteryear – December 25, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

While recuperating from a health issue, I discovered reruns of the TV series, “Little House on the Prairie,” stirring memories for me and some of my peers.

Most of us received our early education in a one-room schoolhouse where one teacher presided over our first eight years of formal education.

Located on the outskirts of the small town in Minnesota where I grew up, there were about 30 students in my Lutheran parochial school, including some from surrounding farms.

After Thanksgiving we began practicing for our Christmas Eve program in church. It was always such a relief for an unprepared student when the teacher announced we would begin practicing and to put away our books, pencils and writing tablets.

We were given a small scrap of paper on which he had written a Bible verse for each of us to memorize and recite at the program.

On Christmas Eve, we marched into the church singing “”Oh come all ye Faithful,”” on the way to our assigned seats.

The first Bible passage began, ““And it came to pass …”

We stood up from our front pews and turned to face the congregation as we recited the story of Christ’s birth. I remember fidgeting in my seat as I awaited my turn, so I could locate my parents in the back pews.

We were told not to turn around while seated, and most of us adhered to that command because we did not want to risk the wrath of our teacher. I had a deathly fear of him as he was a very stern taskmaster.

These recitations were interspersed with singing various Christmas hymns, accompanied by our teacher on the organ. At program’’s end, breathing a sigh of relief, we awaited the distribution of a paper bag filled with goodies from the local merchants for each of us.

An orange or an apple, some hard Christmas candy, peanuts in a shell and a few assorted nuts, and my favorite of all –a – writing tablet (remember those blue-lined tablets?) and a new No. 2 lead pencil.

Oh, the stories I planned to write! Letters to my cousin residing in a neighboring state.

Probably not good enough for a TV series such as “Little House on the Prairie,” but how I wish I could resurrect one of them.

What was on my young mind? I’’ll never know.

Merry Christmas.



Everyone Needs a Happy Place  – December 5, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

Most of us can remember a happy place (memory) that we can visit in our imagination.

When we are under stress or facing a crisis, if we think of a happy place or time, it may help us get through it.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a virile, athletic young man and an excellent dancer before he was stricken with polio. How difficult it must have been for him to adjust to relying on a wheelchair. He used a ritual while sleepless or under stress, imagining he was a youngster, accelerating his sled down a steep hill in the snow to a wooded bluff below.

Coincidentally, Bob Dole, in his autobiography, “One Soldier’s Story,” also used this device. As he lay wounded on the battlefield, awaiting a medic’s attention, he thought back to his boyhood in Kansas, where he was a track star.

Use your imagination to escape momentarily when you are in an unpleasant situation.

During the heat and humidity of summer, picture snow piled up higher than our heads when the snow plows cleared our parking lots and streets. Sounds simple, but it could help.

Conversely, during the winter’s frigid temperatures, picture construction workers perspiring in the blazing summer sun, or yourself sitting on the patio enjoying a glass of iced tea.

Just imagine yourself at another time or place. Such as when you met and fell in love with your significant other.  The joy at discovering that the other person felt the same way about you.

Remember how you wanted to stop strangers on the street and tell them how happy you were? Happiness is to share, but sorrow we often bear alone.

You may laugh at these simplistic measures but they actually can help see us through many trials.

If you can’t think of a happy place, go out there and create a happy memory (place) now with Christmas soon upon us. One you can visit in the months ahead when things aren’t going well.

Washington Irving (a 19th century author of the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”) said, “It is the divine attribute of the imagination that when the real world is shut out, it can create a world for itself.”

I had a chance to check out my theory recently due to health issues, and it does work.

Imagine that!