Simple Is Best

Yesterday two things happened to re-confirm what I have long felt: the simpler, the better. We awoke to hear – and feel – our furnace fan blowing. Continuously. The heater was not running (it is summer, after all), and it’s not hot enough to run the central air conditioning. After trying everything with the thermostat, we called a repair service.

Repair guy arrived and found several things wrong. First off, we had the wrong type of air filter in the furnace, he said. I was surprised, as it was supposed to be one of the best kind, filtering out all types of allergy particles and more:

furnace air filter

Repair guy said they work so hard to filter out everything that they keep the air from moving through freely, and so over-tax your furnace! He suggested we toss this one in the trash, and get the cheapest, simplest filter we could find. Then he opened up our thermostat and found a faulty relay wire in the new computerized thermostat that was only three months old. The faulty part was sending the message to the furnace fan to run continually, which would eventually have ruined the motor in the fan. So repair guy put in a very simple thermostat with no special settings or scheduling programs – just off, cool, or heat.

The second thing that happened yesterday was a frantic call from my mother, saying that her electric lift armchair had abruptly stopped working. There is no manual override lever to put down the footrest, just what looks like a remote control gizmo on a cord. She pushes a button to recline, a button to tilt the whole chair to help her stand, a button for everything. But yesterday it just decided to stop working, leaving her stuck in a chair that looked like this:

electric lift recliner

The repair service from the place she bought the chair came out this morning, was unable to pinpoint the problem, and hauled it away to be examined elsewhere.  They left her a loaner chair. I should mention that this computerized chair my mother has is not even a year old!

Enough said.

Simple is best.

 

Are Church Libraries Dead?

church library
photo credit: http://www.churchofisrael.info/office.htm

I can still remember the church library of my childhood (well, middle school, actually). It was fairly large, with well-stocked, orderly shelves and two dedicated volunteers every week. Often I would get there before the doors were unlocked, and would wait with several other people for the wooden doors to be opened. Once inside, I was lost in the rows of titles that beckoned me. What should I pick? One or two books this week? Sometimes it would be something already read, but that didn’t matter. It was like greeting an old friend. I loved the smell of the wooden shelves and the book ink, the feel of the soft pages under my fingertips, and the hushed sounds of people checking out or exclaiming over a book they found. The library volunteers often had to hurry people out as the worship service started up.

As an adult, I’ve attended a variety of churches, and few of them have libraries. My current church has a tiny library, which has been going for about 30 years or so. It’s only about ten feet by ten feet, with bookshelves along the walls. There used to be a lot of people who stopped in it to grab some reading material. There were even middle school and high-schoolers who came in and picked out books. Biographies, encouraging non-fiction, Bible study books, and tons of Christian fiction. Yes, business in our little library was booming.

But churches and culture have changed dramatically in the past twenty-five years. Now we have 250+ channels on TV, Amazon Prime movies, Hulu Plus, Netflix, video games, Facebook, cell phones, and Youtube on high-speed internet. These pastimes have introduced us to sensational, fast-paced excitement that is difficult to match with a book. Even among the people that still read, they seem to want more language and smutty content. They’ve gotten used to it in their movies and tv shows, and they now find “clean” reads too boring.

These days, our little church library is barely used, which I don’t think is unusual. Church libraries seem to be on their last mile, just a step behind the Christian bookstores that have gone out of business. We are told that churches have to be willing to change and adapt to reach the newer generations of attendees. That is true. We can’t live in the past. Out with the old, in with the new. But still – I feel great sadness for the demise of church libraries.

Books For Dogs?

dog with headphones
photo credit: http://dogsome.net/company-introduces-books-dogs/

When I first heard someone say there were books for dogs, I thought it was a joke. Turns out it’s really happening. Audible, the company that offers tens of thousands of downloadable audio-books, is now expanding into the dog world.

Audible partnered with Cesar Millan to start a line of audio-books that will keep dogs company while their owners are off at work. They stay calmer and happier if they have the same voice talking to them, so audio-books can work better than music to sooth. In fact, your dog may be better behaved if he’s had a book to listen to during the workday. If you want to look into this new idea, just go to audible.com.

So hey, why not? I find audio-books quite relaxing myself. I’m not sure that you need to buy one from Audible that’s specially for dogs, though. Just try a book from your personal collection, or check out a few from your local library. Try different readers, and hopefully you can find a narrator that leaves your dog feeling as mellow as the one in the picture above.

Jackfruit And Parmesan Cheese

2017-08-04 Meijer jackfruit

I have been seeing this unusual fruit in the produce section of the grocery-store lately. But for the first time, I noticed directions attached to it. They say: “Wear latex gloves, cover the cutting board with plastic wrap.” I wondered if something that you had to protect your skin and your cutting board from was something you should be eating. After watching a you-tube video online, I found out that 1) it’s very sticky and hard to remove from surfaces, even from the knife you use (the chef recommended coating the knife with oil), and 2) it takes about 20 minutes of careful work to get this monstrous fruit cut up. Hmm, don’t think I’ll be using this in my fruit salad anytime soon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFEhvs3yA20

 

2017-08-04 Meijer parmesan cheese unrefrigerated

The other thing I noticed while shopping was that the grocery-store has moved all of their Parmesan cheese from the refrigerated area to the regular shelves. Curiously, the Kraft brand containers were still in a box that said in large red lettering: keep refrigerated. So I checked Kraft’s website, and they said it was safe to store unopened grated Parmesan cheese in the cupboard, although temperature variations might affect the quality. In fact, it’s even okay to leave it at room temperature after it’s opened. And all these years I’ve been storing mine in the fridge. Ha, you learn something new every day.
http://www.kraftcanada.com/brands/kraft-parmesan-cheese/grated

Great Reading Month

Summer Reading
Photo credit: http://www.christianstudentsoncampus.com/

July was a really, really good reading month for me. I just couldn’t seem to stop reading, and whipped through nine books, doing book reviews on seven of them. Books from my local library, downloadable audio-books that I listened to on my phone, even one book that was fetched from the Melcat state-wide lending program. Yes, it was a very good month!

The only thing wrong with a great reading month like July is when it ends. Tuesday morning I turned over the kitchen calendar page to August. Suddenly we’re starting to focus on the kids going back to school, and doing those projects we’ve been meaning to do this summer. In a few weeks, the easy-going lifestyle of summer will switch to a more rigid routine. Routine’s not a bad thing, and keeps us from inertia. But as I like to say, there’s always time to squeeze in a good book.

The Death Of Walk-In Stores

Best Buy

I don’t often stop in Best Buy, but today my 10-year-old external DVD burner gave up the ghost. Ah well, I thought, no gizmo lasts forever. So I popped onto Amazon’s website to see how much a replacement would cost. Hmm, so many of them looked cheap. And why did they all seem to have no power cord? I wanted a burner that was sturdy and didn’t need to siphon power from my old computer. After looking at different brands and models, checking the requirements for each, and reading feedback from customers, I decided to stop in an actual store, and took off for the closest Best Buy.

The store was surprisingly empty. Memories flashed through my mind of times when I had taken the kids there years ago. That was in the days before Hulu and Netflix, tv on demand, and high-speed internet. Yes, a trip to Best Buy was a treat! We would look at the new video games, check out the DVD section, listen to music with the display headphones, and drool over the large-screen TVs. (Wow, look at that huge 44-inch screen!) The aisles were crowded with others having the same fun experience. Happy store clerks bounced around, asking if they could help us find anything.

But today, when I pulled into the parking lot, there were so few cars there that I wondered if they had just closed for the day. Only a handful of customers floated about, and the staff seemed lethargic. I looked over all the burners, and selected the one that would work with my older computer.

Then a young clerk asked me if I needed help finding anything, so I asked him if they had any fire-wire cables. His mouth hung open, and he said he didn’t know what that was. (Really?) Another clerk walking by heard the conversation and jumped in to tell me no, they didn’t carry old stuff like that anymore, but check online. He asked what I used a fire-wire cord for, and I said it went to my external hard drive for back-ups. The clerk advised me to simply back up my files to “the cloud”. I wanted to say: hey, what happens when those cloud storage services get hacked or they lose your files? But I was polite and refrained from giving a commentary on internet safety, as well as privacy concerns.

Well, I took my sturdy DVD burner home and unpacked it. Much to my surprise, it had its own power cord! Ha – the store clerk said they didn’t have burners with their own power source anymore. Maybe he needs to take a closer look at the inventory they sell. I tested out the new burner, and it worked flawlessly, without hassle, just as old faithful had.

I don’t really mind shopping online, but sometimes, just sometimes… I get nostalgic and want to walk into a store and have the experience of yesterday. But that is unlikely to ever happen again.

 

59% Really Okay With This?

BBC news

 

Yesterday I read an article on the BBC’s website about the first company in the U.S. that is in the process of putting RFID chips in their employees’ hands, and shared my thoughts on the topic:
https://alwaysreading1.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/doing-things-by-hand/
Today I noticed the same story on the front page of a local news website, WOODtv.com. WOOD offered a survey to see how people in our area felt about being chipped at work. A whopping 94.19% said they would have concerns about it, while only 5.81% said they would do it! (See screenshot below.) This is a sharp contrast from the company in the BBC article, in which 59% of the employees were willing to be chipped.

 

WOOD-tv survey b

 

I’m pretty sure that there’s something we’re not being told in the BBC article. Either a) the employees have been promised a bonus, b) they think it will lead to advancement in the company, or c) they are just plain crazy.