When Your Phone Is Too Helpful

Hi how can I help
photo credit: techspot.com

It started a few days ago. Every so often, I would hear the notification “plink” sound on my cell phone. Instead of it being someone I knew sending a text/message, it was some random notification about the weather or the news or some other thing I didn’t need to know. Why am I getting these messages? I wondered.

The question was answered when I read my e-mail. “Congratulations on having your phone updated with Google Assistant”, the e-mail read. It went on to tell me now much it could help me, based on what it thought I was interested in after reading my e-mails and looking over my internet history.

Well, I don’t want their “gift”. So I tried to uninstall the app, only to find that there is no way to remove it. I was, however, able to turn off the notifications. Here’s how you do it:

Go to the app section of your phone. Tap on the Google app (the multi-colored G).
Touch the three lines in the upper left corner. That will bring up a page with your name, e-mail address and some options.  Touch “settings”. Near the bottom of the settings page, touch “your feed”.


Some phones will have one switch to turn off the feed entirely, but mine had a list of categories that they wanted to send me notifications about, and I had to switch each one to off.


So my phone should be quieter now. But that really doesn’t do anything about the issue of Google constantly snooping around in my e-mail and internet browsing. That seems to be a losing battle.



Found: Joy

2017-10-03 dishsoap Joy

There’s something about a gray sky, drizzly rain, achy joints, and scanning family photos of a family member that has died, that makes me feel – well, not joyful. So many pictures to scan. They remind of good times and bad, of old age and disease that takes away so many, and times in life when we didn’t do things well. With melancholy descending, it’s time to stop scanning and go do something else.

So I go off to a different grocery store from my usual two, because this month my credit card will give me five percent back of whatever I buy there. (Yes, I do love exploring ways of stretching the family dollar.) Some things on my list are a good price there, and are added to my cart. But other things on the list are slightly higher, so I pass on those. When I roll down the cleaners aisle, I see something not carried by my regular stores for years – Joy dish detergent!

So now I’m home again, with Joy. Okay, so dish-soap can’t actually bring joy, but it reminds me that God promises to bring “joy in the morning.” He’s always there, and yes, He is always good!

Just Scratching The Surface Of Artprize…

Tomorrow is the last day for the public to vote in the first round of Artprize. Although I have only scratched the surface of Artprize, 35 entries impressed me enough to get me to cast a vote for them. (Each person is allowed to vote for as many or as few as they want, until tomorrow at 11:59 pm.) Here are pictures of some of my favorites:

2017-09-27 Artprize The Orchid Tree
“The Orchid Tree” by Dale Cote

Its wood comes from the branches of five different trees. The flowers are made from metal soda cans that the artist cut, painted, and attached to the branches! Mr. Cote spent about four years making this masterpiece, but unfortunately he passed away about a month before Artprize began.


2017-09-27 ArtprizeMotor Bot And His SpRe Parts Buddies
“Motor Bot And His Spare Parts Buddies” by Anthony Lazar

This artist was born just a few blocks from the sidewalk he had his display on, and is a homeless artist who makes metal creatures out of discarded metal from cars, bikes, pipes, etc. Some of his pieces are actually stands to rest a Kindle or iPad on. (He sells these for $50 if you’re interested in purchasing one.)


2017-09-25 Artprize Early January On The Pearl Street Bridge
“Early January On The Pearl Street Bridge” by Melodee Jackson
Porcelain stoneware with a local bridge scene.


2017-09-27 Artprize Close To Family Jonathan
“Close To Home” by Jonathan D. Lopez

The artist created a tiny house inside an actual post office box, for a family of clay mice. There’s the mama cooking supper, papa supervising the young-uns, and grandpa giving advise. The detail of the facial expressions, the hardwood floor, the brick wall, and household appliances is amazing! It reminds me that no matter how small your dwelling is, if you’re with the ones you love, you are truly home.


2017-09-27 Artprize Food Fight
“Food Fight” by H.J. Slider

This is a scene made from wooden shoe molds, cooking utensils, and other wooden objects, representing people of all ages and groups looking for food.


2017-09-27 Artprize Jesus Wifes My Tears
“Jesus Wipes My Tears” by Tracy May Fouts


2017-09-27 Artprize Connection
“Connection” by Bruce Koster

A picnic table and benches made from a treasured tree.


2017-09-27 Artprize Whimsical Reef
“Whimsical Reef” by Pam Jernigan

Aquatic scene using shells and various fabrics that has a 3-D feel about it.


2017-09-25 Artprize Music Box
“Music Box” by Dihan Mao

No, this is not an actual casket, but a very unique music box (note the handle crank on the end).


Artprize Seeds Of Change by Ben Graham
“Seeds Of Change” by Ben Graham
Photo credit: http://www.artprize.org/65737

The artist began with the word “WAR” clearly in the grass, but as he offered seed to each person that visited the venue, and they sprinkled it on the bare ground, grass quickly grew, making the ugliness of war fade away.


Just a few of the many fantastic things I saw at Artprize.




Where’s The Cracklin’ Oat Bran?

2017-09-21 Junk cereal a

It’s hard to find a cold cereal that doesn’t leave your stomach rumbling an hour or two later. The majority of the breakfast aisle at the grocery-store is cereal that is sugar and air and little else. Like the boxes in the picture above. And the pictures below.

2017-09-21 junk cereal c

2017-09-21 Junk cereal b

One exception is Cracklin’ Oat Bran. It does have a fair amount of sugar, but it also has some solid ingredients, and carries you most of the way to lunch. But lately, it’s been in sparse supply. First it was moved to the top shelf at the store, above eye level, but at least there were two stacks of it. There there was only one stack. Then it started being entirely absent about every other week. Today was the third week that the shelf has looked like this:

2017-09-21 empty cracklin oat bran cereal shelf

I sighed and asked the friendly store employee re-stocking the shelves if she had any more Cracklin’ Oat Bran. Sadly, she did not. She said the Kellogg’s company has eased back on their production of it, and they won’t be getting any more till October 7.

What a shame. I guess we’ll keep eating Cream Of Wheat.

Those Old Photo Albums – part 3

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart Denmark pictures

Who are these people? The pictures are beautiful, with their soft worn edges and sepia coloring. They came from my father’s side of the family, but he had no idea who they were. He kept them for the same reason I keep them – they are somehow family. We are connected to each other by the threads of time and genealogies.

Danish picture 3 front side possible Howard's grandparents

These folks looks absolutely nothing like anyone in the family. I imagine that the woman is thinking of something funny and trying not to laugh. Her husband is trying to remain perfectly still for the photographer. Lovely people to get to know, I think.


Danish picture 2 front side

Oh, would I love to go to the “old country” and see this little cottage with its fruit trees and flowering bushes in the front yard. More people I don’t know. Is the man in the uniform a postal carrier or a constable? Hmmm.


Danish picture 1 front side

This picture puzzles me. It almost looks like a postcard, but there must be some reason it was kept in with the family pictures. Was someone in the family the pastor of this church? Maybe there’s a cemetery beyond the brick wall where our relatives are buried. Or maybe men in our family constructed the church with their hands, and wanted a good picture of what they helped build.

If there’s one thing I’m learning from this scanning project, it’s:
Write the date and the name of the people and places on the back of the pictures!







Those Old Photo Albums – part 2

picture from 1970's all orange and pink

Amazing how terrible the color is in many of our “color” photos! I find myself trying to adjust the color of pictures that have a hideous green look, purplish faces, red-as-a-beet skin tones, or a bizarre orange/pink look (like the one above). Some pictures can be improved by adjusting the color balance, but sadly, I have given up on many and simply changed them to black and white.

picture from 1970's all orange and pink converted to black and white

I also found blurry pictures, pictures that cut off half of someone’s face, and pictures with eyes closed. Why did we keep these pictures? I guess it was because years ago, every photo counted. There were 24 frames in a roll of standard camera film and you paid to get them developed, so you felt obliged to keep all but the absolute worst. And let’s face it, because we didn’t have a lot of practice with picture-taking, some of our shots were pretty bad. But even so, those photos document a time and a place in our family history. So on I go with the scanning.




Those Old Photo Albums – part 1

2017-09-08 photo album falling apart

Several weeks ago I passed by the neat row of family photo albums and thought: hey, I should finish scanning these pictures. Some had already been scanned into the computer by our youngest son, but many had not. So I grabbed the first one and carried it over to the scanner. But as soon as I opened it and started flipping through pages, the pictures – as well as the plastic covers – started sliding out. It seemed that somewhere along the years, that lovely stickiness on the pages had lost its stickiness.

I sighed and started scanning. Each day I try to do a little scanning, but I can see that this project is going to take way longer than originally thought.