Sunday, July 31, 2011


“Technobabble: technical jargon incomprehensible to non-specialists; -- sometimes used derogatorily of discussions using unnecessarily technical terminology and intended to impress or confuse, rather than inform, the listener.” From

My husband announced today that he will be attending a webinar on Thursday. “Webinar,” I exclained! “What is it and where?” “You don’t GO anywhere”, he patiently informed me. “It’s on the web and you simply log on and learn.” This explanation came on the heels of a TV commercial I had just seen, where a 5 year old boy was holding a flash drive in his hand, letting everyone know that THIS particular gizmo was just what he needed for school. I think it was actually on his school supply list. Wow! I thought to myself. This is big. It’s a whole new way of communicating and I am falling seriously behind. Thinking it might be a neat topic for my blog, I asked my hubby to give me ten unsual blogosphere vocabulary words that I could pass on to my readers. He looked at me blankly, then brightened. “Just log on to the internet. You’ll find out what you’re looking for.” So I did, and here are a few interesting bits of modern “techno speak.”

For starters, forget encyclopedias, my old tried and true method of getting information. Now it’s the webopedia that you want. I typed in “latest technology terminology” on the Google search bar, and up popped page after page of entries from which to choose. I didn’t get past the first page, as my eyes latched first onto “NetLingo – The Internet Dictionary” and then on “Webopedia: Online Computer Dictionary.”

I casually perused a few entries and realized that a different languge is now being used. For example, in the not so olden days, I believe “social scoring” might have referred to some guy hitting on a girl at a party. Not today. According to one on-line definition, social scoring, a.k.a. your social score, is “the act of rating a person’s level of influence based on evaluating one’s followers, friends and postings on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.”

Next I checked out NetLingo. What a fascinating site, but way TMI to go into here. I have decided to share a few examples, then encourage you to expand your technological horizons by clicking on the sites I have listed.

Feeling in the need of a bit of humor after the constant barrage of depressing congressional budget haranguing, I found several lists writen by Erin Janson, writer, publisher and contributing editor for newspapers, television and online articles. Her top 50 funniest terms used in the online world. was just what I needed Here are ten you might enjoy.

1. “Assicons” - a funny take on emoticons. Boobiecons, like assicons, involve another body part.

2. “Cluster funk” - when a multitude of things go wrong on a computer system.

3. “Corneo gumbo” – a visually noisy or over-designed web site, usually with too many graphics.

4. “Double geeking” - when you use two computers at the same time. “Triple geeking is using three computers.

5. “Fram” - spam sent to you by your friends or family

6. “Grok” - to “get it” or understand something so that you absorb it.

7. “Open your kimono” - Silicon Valley slang for revealing your business idea to someone after he or she signs an NDA.

8. “Seagull manager” - a manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps over everything, and then leaves.

9. “Word of mouse” - gossip or information spread via the net, usually through e-mail, blogs or newsgroup postings.

10. “Shareware girl” - office jargon for the coolest girl in the company.

For those who feel hopelessly out of touch with your kids, she has 50 acronyms every parent needs to know. Here are another ten examples:

1. CD9 - Code 9 - it means parents are around

2. P911 - Parent Alert

3. NIFOC - Nude In Front Of The Computer

4. KPC - Keeping Parents Clueless

5. TDTM - Talk Dirty To Me

6. PIR - Parent In Room

7. POS - Parent Over Shoulder -or- Piece Of Sh**

8. RUH - Are You Horny?

9. 420 - Marijuana

10. ASL - Age/Sex/Location

Other top 50 lists include, Top 50 Popular Text & Chat Acronyms , Top 50 Popular Text Terms Used in Business , Top 50 Newbie Terms Everyone Needs to Know , and Top 50 Tech Terms that are Now Common Expressions

For many of my generation, all of these lists exemplify a form of technobabble. A kind of blah, blah, blah that no one can or wants to understand. I, on the other hand, find changes in the way we communicate, updating the dictionary, and learning new information as an important way to keep relevant in this increasingly complex world. With this philosophy I’ll try to keep you abreast of future trends and bits of interesting trivia. I want to be seen as “with it” when I show show a 20 something year-old that I know full well that discussing velveeta is not referring to cheese! Have I piqued your curiosity? Go check one of the Top 50 lists to become informed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in
order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate
our personal life; we must first set our hearts right." Author unknown

We had a family gathering two weeks ago, drawing together relatives who had not seen each other for months or even years. The drawing card was meeting nine Swedish relatives most of us had never seen before, and giving them a warm welcome. We did that in spades, and I think we all felt the richer for our efforts.

The internet made it possible to track down and send a general invitation to all family members who had e-mail and were able to attend one or more events. We are talking about nearly seventy people! They all learned about several planned gatherings--a July 4 beach picnic with fireworks, an elegant dinner buffet, and several continental breakfasts in Whatcom County, followed by the usual sightseeing, a typical urban style outdoor dinner and a lot of shopping in Seattle. Also in the plan was the Duck Tour a visit to Pike Place Market and time spent absorbing the sights and sounds of downtown.

I should mention here that ours is a complex, multi-faceted family which has seen its share of marriage, divorce, remarriages, blends of all kinds, and a fair amount of personal drama. It became clear through various conversations that the same could be said for our Swedish guests.

The visit produced a few interesting results. On our side, some old wounds were healed, some opinions were changed, and some real communication took place. Beyond that we were exposed to another culture by well informed, well educated, typical Swedes who spoke excellent English. This made it possible to fully understand each other. On their side they were amazed at the warmth and caring by Americans in general from New York City where they began their vacation, to the Pacific Northwest. They were particularly enthralled with Winthrop, a cowboy-like western town on the North Cascades Highway. On that side trip they also went to Leavenworth which most of us enjoy because it makes us feel like we're in Switzerland. Since they had been to the real Switzerland I think they looked at Leavenworth as a tourist heaven.

One late evening we enjoyed a conversation about our political systems which highlighted our countries' mutual concerns. I had always had the perception that Swedes in general were very happy with their social democracy, and that although their taxes were high in order to have free medical care and free higher education, they believed in resulting benefits. These folks were worried about the direction their government was going, the quality of their schools and their immigrations problems, with "foreigners" taking jobs from Swedes, etc. It sounded familiar. As a teacher, one bit of information interested me. Children with special needs were not served as well in the public schools are are ours. These children often found educational homes in schools like Montessori.

Their English speaking ability was phenomenal, from the 13 year old twins and their 16 year old brother, to the two older girls, ages 22 and 27, and their parents. This is not uncommon in Sweden. I am a little jealous that they learn more than one language at school from a young age.

I think we Americans could take a lesson in civility and courtesy from our northern friends across the ocean. They came bearing wonderful gifts for several family members who would be entertaining them. We received beautiful Swedish crystal and wall hangings. Unusual food appeared out of suitcases to tempt our palates - tasty cheeses, herring, caviar and those wonderful large round crackers called knakkebrod. Constant offers of help and expressions of appreciation were made. Although at one point all nine were at our small beach cabin and at the one next door, their polite and unobtrusive presence made the time enjoyable.

We waved goodbye eleven days after they arrived, as they headed for the airport and the last two legs of their journey - first Los Angeles and then San Francisco. It was a bittersweet moment, because even though promises were made to get together again soon, experience tells us that travel and economics make frequent visits impossible. The wonderful technological gift of skyping will, however, allow for virtual visits.

I did not want to let go of the excitement from all of our get-togethers, and the chance to really get to know many relatives I saw only occasionally. I polled a few people in the family to see what they thought about having a monthly or quarterly newsletter about our family to keep this new closeness alive. Everyone I talked to thought it was a great idea. I was most impressed by the answer of my niece who has had a challenging but successful life. Against great odds she has raised twins as a single parent, and is now going for her master's degree in communication. She thought a newsletter keeping us all informed and allowing us all to be "reporters" of our news was a good idea. Having studied law, societies and justice as an undergrad, she believes in the importance of communities. Really, by getting to know each other better, and accepting our various lifestyles and belief systems, we are building community in our family. Her view is that if we can't have successful relationships within our family, how can we expect to have them in the world at large. It's a great point. Robert M. Hutchins said "A world community can only exist with world communication, which means something more than extensive software facilities scattered about the globe. It means common understanding, a common tradition, common ideas and common ideals." Surely that's a goal within our grasp.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow." Gilbert Chesterson"

It rained today....again! I mean, really, haven't we had enough? I have been trying to keep a positive attitude about our weather, to look for a silver lining, but today I went over the edge. It is July 17, traditionally the best time of the year in the northwest, and it feels like winter. Just to be sure, I decided find out if it had really been gray and wet, or if it just seemed like it. I went to a site that gives monthly weather summaries, and Yup! It's been gray and wet.

In April there was one sunny day with sixteen rainy and the remainder cloudy days. In May there were three sunny days, with the remainder cloudy and rainy. This month we have had four sunny days with the rest cloudy and wet. This is what says about our weather:

"No, it does not rain all the time in Seattle. Many large cities on the USA east coast (i.e., Atlanta, New York, Washington D.C.) receive more annual precipitation than Seattle. However, when it stops raining in these east coast cities, the sky clears. In Seattle, when it stops raining, the sky stays overcast. The rain in Seattle is usually a light or fine misty rain. The normal average annual precipitation total for Seattle is 37.07 inches."

Sadly, there is nothing to do but grin and bear it, then count our blessings. We are not in a two year drought like Somalia. We do not have raging forest fires like the recent one in Arizona. We can have beach fires and fireplace fires without worrying about a burn ban. We have not suffered devastating, destructive tornadoes like those in the south. We are not baking like the midwest and the northeast. And most important of all, we still have our spectacular scenery, snow capped mountains, rivers and waterfalls, parks abundant with flora and fauna, and prolific flower and vegetable gardens.

I need an attitude change, and writing this blog is helping to bring one about. Since we can't do anything about changing the weather except to move elsewhere, here is some lemonade from our weather's lemons.

1. Grab an umbrella (no need for sun screen) and go for a walk in the rain.

2. Smell the pure air and be glad that you don't need to stay inside with a noisy, irritating air conditioner running.

3. Make a fire in the fireplace and curl up with a good book

4. Check out the latest movies and choose one that will make you laugh.

5. Go to a restaurant with a view and have a glass of wine and an appetizer. Anthony's Hearthfire in Bellingham, Washington is a favorite. An outdoor waterfall presided over by a fiery torch predicts the magic inside, where one's eyes take in a decor featuring blown glass, warm colors and the view outside. If you are on a budget, or if coffee is your drink of choice, try Wood's Coffee. This delightful coffee shop is perched on the edge of Bellingham Bay in Boulevard Park. It has an unobstructed view of the water, and an outdoor seating area for when the sun finally pops out.

6. If you're lucky enough to have a hot tub, sit in it with the rain coming down. It's fun.

7. Get some friends to come over for an afternoon of cards or games.

8. Bake a cake or pie and take it to someone who would be surprised and overjoyed to see you. (My sister came over today with a friend and brought a Papa Murphy's Take and Bake Pizza. It was unexpected, delicious, and made my day.

9. Find an activity in your area, and participate in it, despite the rain. For me it was the Birch Bay Parade, where my sister was the Grand Marshall. I never personally knew a Grand Marshall before and it was fun to see her listed as such in the lead car as she waved to those of us watching, umbrellas held high.

10. Try making something old-fashioned and tasty, like homemade fudge. Click on this Hershey fudge recipe which my husband swears by, and about which everyone who tastes it raves. If chocolate can't chase the blues away, what can?

Finally, to really think positive, look for a rainbow or a cloud with a silver lining. I saw one briefly today, and it must surely be a sign of better weather tomorrow. At least, with my new attitude adjustment I am thinking positive. You should too. It really works.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


In recent years we have been hearing the phrase “value added” when referring to how well a student, teacher or school is performing. The Analytic Quality Glossary on line defines it this way: “Value-added refers to the enhancement of the knowledge, skills and abilities of students and the empowering of them as critical, reflective, life-long learners." With respect to teachers, an on-line article by Marc Holley says The central premise of "value-added assessment" is that it is possible to measure the contributions that a teacher makes to a student’s academic achievement gains.

It is my opinion that the term should also apply to parents and what value they are adding to their children’s overall education, assisting them to become “reflective life-long learners.”

My family is in the midst of an extended visit by two Swedish families – relatives of mine – who started in New York City, are presently here, and will be concluding their three week trip with visits to the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. We had a first hand look at value being added to the lives of the Swedish young people involved – 13 year old twins, a 16 year old boy, and two adult children, ages 22 and 27. During the visit so far, they have experienced family life on Long Island, a fourth of July parade, fireworks on an Indian reservation with all its splendor and excitement, bonfires, s’more making, several picnics as American as apple pie, and interactions with more than fifty relatives, all of us having grandfathers/mothers or great grandfathers/mothers in our common ancestry.

Today, before going downtown for a Seattle Duck Tour, several of us went to Fred Meyer and Value Village for another taste of typical America, and a few tourist dollars were dropped along the way. I have been impressed with and proud of my relatives – their interest in all they see, their respectful and polite manner, their enjoyment of each other, and their amazing ability with the English language.

It’s my feeling they represent many European families who travel extensively and understand the value of such experiences. Granted it is easier to do if you live in Europe. Our country is so large and it costs so much to travel any distance, that many of us do not see the opportunities in front of our noses.

We may not easily go to Europe, Japan or China, but we can take advantage of small weekend adventures that bring the world to us. For example, this weekend in Seattle we could visit our international district, and participate in the dragon festival with its great Asian foods, entertainment and music. In Ballard a street fair gave everyone a taste of Scandinavia, with various ethnic foods, music and entertainment. A little further north the Edmonds Art Festival, one of the Pacific Northwest’s oldest festivals, delighted adults and children alike with everything from painting and photography to art glass, yard art, homemade toys, activities and food booths. Later in the summer there will be a Tibetan festival, a Greek festival and, of course, Bumbershoot.

Many of these offerings are free or minimal in cost, and those parents who are availing themselves of these various cultural and entertainment activities are adding immensely to the lives of their children, their fond childhood memories and the bond that takes place when families play together.

So check out the event section of the paper or go to internet sites like . Pull your kids away from their Game Boys, X-Boxes, and other video games and introduce them to the world in our backyard. This is a great way for parents to add value to their children’s education, empowering them and helping them to become lifelong learners.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


On July 4, 2010 I wrote a poem called, "Happy Birthday USA, the Fourth of July is your day." I liked what I wrote and you can check it out if you are interested in my patriotic poem. In the meantime a year has passed with all our country's ups and downs, and I find myself wondering where we are going, what will happen, and whether I should be optimistic or afraid for the future?

One thing I do know is that some people become so passionate about our country and where it is headed that civility goes out the window. Each side argues loudly and vehemently, and we see poor behavior modeled for us on talk shows and in congress itself. One side thinks we are " going to hell in a hand basket," and our forefathers would be " rolling in their graves" if they could see what has happened to the intent of the constitution. Another side says our country and life today is now so dramatically different that modern problems could not have been imagined or addressed in the 18th century. What would the founding fathers say? Surf the internet and you can find an opinion to match every position.

One person I know is so bonded to the original constitution that he nearly froths at the mouth when hearing about it being called a living document. In simple terms he feels that people should go live in one of the countries that have welfare-like states if that's what they want. Another might say in return, hey, if you don't like all the benefits gained by higher taxes, and the security provided by laws and rules, you go to a third world country where there are no taxes, roads, mail, internet, or schools, and see how you like it. It's unwinnable, because we have so many different people with as many differing viewpoints. Without common ground there can be no understanding.

I guess the words "common ground" are key here. Our common ground should be a love and appreciation of our country and a caring for each other. Recognizing that our constitution, whether one believes in a living or traditional view of it, is the oldest written constitution still in use is truly amazing. If you research what life was like then as they attempted to wrestle with the problems of the day, you might have an "aha" moment, thinking it sounds like what's going on in the USA today. Below is a snippet from Wikipedia you might find informative and enlightening.

"Congress could print money, but by 1786, it was useless. It could borrow money, but it could not pay it back.[8] Under the Articles, Congress requisitioned money from the states. But no state paid all of their requisition; Georgia paid nothing. A few states paid the US an amount equal to interest on the national debt owed to their citizens, but no more.[8] Nothing was paid toward the interest on debt owed foreign governments. By 1786, the United States was about to default on its contractual obligations when the principal came due.[9]

Most of the US troops in the 625-man US Army were deployed facing British forts on American soil. They had not been paid; they were deserting and the remainder threatened mutiny.[10] Spain closed New Orleans to American commerce. The US protested to no effect. The Barbary Pirates began seizing American commercial ships. The US had no funds to pay their extortion demands.[11] States such as New York and South Carolina violated the peace treaty with Britain by prosecuting Loyalists for wartime activity. The US had no more credit if another military crisis required action.[11] In Massachusetts during Shays' Rebellion, Congress had no money; General Benjamin Lincoln had to raise funds among Boston merchants to pay for a volunteer army.[12]

Congress was paralyzed. It could do nothing significant without nine states, and some legislative business required all thirteen. By April 1786, there had been only three days out of five months with nine states present. When nine states did show up, if there were only one member of a state on the floor, that state’s vote did not count. If a delegation were evenly divided, the division was duly noted in the Journal, but there was no vote from that state towards a nine-count.[13] States, in violation of the Articles, laid embargoes, negotiated unilaterally abroad, provided for armies and made war. [14] The Articles Congress had “virtually ceased trying to govern."”[15]

For people who like to argue about a living versus traditional constitution, click on this article from to get opposing views.

It seems that the founding fathers had a great deal of wisdom, but no crystal ball. They did the best they could and their work has stood the test of time. Realizing that there might be changes needed, they made room for those changes through the amendment process. Since its inception there have been the first ten amendments which comprise the Bill of Rights followed by twenty seven other ratified amendments plus some which are not ratified. Certainly, from a feminine point of view, the amendment which made it possible for women to vote, was huge.

Our forefathers would be filled with "shock and awe" at our life today, but probably wouldn't have solutions. Our job is to make the best decisions we can with society's complex problems, and treat our constitution with respect. Freedom is a fragile thing, and I think those who would destroy us cheer our divisive and sometime destructive behaviors. Let's understand that our unparalled freedom is fragile, and not cast in stone. Let's guard it zealously, accepting our differences and making life better for all our citizens, even if we have to make amendments to our own positions and viewpoints.