People are sooo… interesting. I love to listen to people and their stories. I talk to authors, musicians, play writes, , factory workers, and other people who inspire me. Sometimes I meet people through mutual acquaintences; some I meet in restaurants, standing in line, or taking a vacation. If you know someone interesting, please send them my way.
Fourteen years ago, Dr. P diagnosed Dad with liver cancer. Sometime in the next six months, the six months we had before we said goodbye, Mom told Dr. General she had chest pains.
“It’s probably just stress,” he told her, his kind brown eyes reassuring her.
I could have lost both my parents that year. But no one knew just how strong Mom really was.
“I walk to the mailbox, and I’m just fine,” she told me. “But when I turn around to come home, my chest hurts. I walk over to the neighbors’ with no problem, but when I come back, I can hardly breathe.”
It sounds like a broken heart, avoiding an empty house. Dad was the love of her life. Until death do us part was the truth they both knew.
A family full of people in the health care professions: three nurses, a pharmacist, a physical therapist, and a regulatory affairs professional, we finally talk Mom into seeing Dr. General again. He schedules an angiogram.
By the time the test gets scheduled, Mom feels better. Mom’s artery is so blocked the test cannot be completed, nor could an angioplasty be done to clear the blockage.
“The good news is that you created your own by-pass,” says Dr. Heart. “No need for further treatment.”
“Looks like you have work left here on Earth,” I tell Mom. She rolls her eyes. She misses Dad.
Mom joins the Senior Center, plays pinochle, and begins to play the drums in the community band. She never played the drums before, but she did play violin when she was a girl.
Silent heart attacks are more frequent in women than men. Doctors are more likely to chalk them up to anxiety; Dr. General knew Mom and Dad for years, losing your life partner of more than 50 years, is one of the most stressful events Mom ever experienced.
Women are more likely to dismiss the symptoms. According to Go Red for Women:
“People who have these so-called silent heart attacks are more likely to have non-specific and subtle symptoms, such as indigestion or a case of the flu, or they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back. It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms,” she says. “Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.”
Ten years later, in April, Mom has by-pass surgery. She prepares us all in case she doesn’t pull through. She still misses Dad.
By July she attends our annual camp-out, and climbed the sand-dunes with some of her great-grandchildren.
She wants to get the most out of that expensive surgery. As my brother tells her, “Looks like you’ll be around for another 20 years.”
She hopes so, she just had a knee replaced.
My sister-in-law took this picture of my brother, her husband. That’s our grand-nephew cuddled up with a book. (Is grand-nephew the correct term for my sister’s grand-child?)
Now I ask you: Can you get this kind of comfort and closeness with a video, a board game, or a joystick?
Books are the best. Yesterday, I heard that reading alters our state of consciousness in much the same way as mind-altering drugs. Surely, books take us to a whole new dimension. If we’re lucky, we take someone with us.
I feel warm and cozy inside just looking at this scene.
Core Curriculum is the new anti-Christ! Or so it seems. I hear about how it’s dumbing-down our kids and sucking the creativity out of their souls. After meeting three local teenagers, all I can say is: If this is how Core Curriculum changes education. Thank-you!
“The proof is in the pudding,” as the old saying goes. Or in this case, the proof is in the prediction. Calvin Breseman, Tanishq Dubey, and Gustavo Farias proved to their classmates at Prairie Grove High School that the can accurately predict snow days using their homegrown Android App, Snow Day Calculator.
“Don’t do your homework, snow day tomorrow,” Calvin posted on Facebook.
Since that day, people downloaded more than 3000 copies of the 18 year-olds’ free app with near 100% accuracy for over 60 metropolitan areas around the country.
Curiosity made me search these guys out via Google+. We sat down together at the local StarBuck’s to talk.
Calvin and Tanishq developed the app after taking a college class in programming. Their teacher, Mr. Burger, taught them how to program in JAVA, which is what android apps use. The class gave them the basic foundation. The app required 400-500 lines of code. According to Calvin that is “not that much.” They also used Android Studio to develop the app.
Okay, but that’s the back-end of the work. First Calvin and Tanishq developed the algorithm. Tanishq did most of the programming, while Calvin worked on design aspects.
They share the spreadsheet through GoogleDoc, which makes it easy to update.
It probably helped that they thought of the idea in the wintertime. Cold, dark days and nights, hoping for snow days, drove the duo to the computer starting in 2012. The algorithm takes into account wind speed and snowfall rate. Their original prototype also required temperature, but they soon found that skewed the results, and led to inaccurate prediction. They gathered data from noaa.gov for in-depth, hour-by-hour data collection, then input the data into their spreadsheet. In order to be accurate in different parts of the country, the algorithm takes into account the average snowfall per year for the area with the assumption that the resources devoted to snow removal is proportional to the inches/year.
So what is Gustavo’s role in all of this? He came late to the game, as the app promoter. He’s the “people person” of the budding business group.
“I’ll get the Northwest Herald to cover you,” he said.
Calvin and Tanishq just laughed, “Yeah, right.”
Gustavo came through, and then some. The AP and NBC5Chicago picked up the story.
Once they decided to build the app, the young men took a systematic approach that they learned in the high school engineering class.
- First came defining the problem. The class devoted the first two weeks just to problem definition.
- Next, came developing the tool, which required many versions of the spreadsheet so that the same conditions in different cities like Detroit, Chicago, Boston, and Seattle, gave accurate results. They created the first version in 2012 and refined the formula until 2013.
- Finally, they developed and tested the app. They removed back doors, and dead-end code.
Due to their diligence, not a single app-crash occurred in the 3000 downloads to date. And the app is the Number One GooglePlay app for predicting snow days: That’s Snow Day Calculator by Boreas Applications.
Not to rest on their laurels, Tanishq, Calvin, and Gustavo continually refine the app based on user feedback. Because of the various screen sizes different models of smart-phones, some users had trouble with navigation. The young men get annoyed with bad reviews, but they assess every complaint and respond to their customers’ needs. Sometimes people put in bogus data, like snowfall of 100 inches in an hour, and then complain about the results, which is triple-annoying.
The obvious question: What about an iPhone app? Tanishq and Calvin learned from Gustavo that iPhone users have different interface expectations than Android users. Developing iPhone apps requires specific Apple tools, which they don’t have right now. They are hoping to borrow the tool, so they don’t have to buy them. Plus, they are working on a version that will glean information using the GPS so the entry is automated. That will make life easier for the users, and eliminate some of the bogus entries.
The teens’ enthusiasm for the app really got me excited, too. I had a hard time getting them to talk about something other than the app. But I did get a bit of personal information out of them:
- Gustavo was a foreign exchange student from Brazil last year, but transferred as a permanent student for 2013-14. He wishes to study economics or marketing. He may go back to Brazil for college or preferably, attend Madison, University of Wisconsin. He plays football, and is involved in the theatre group at Prairie Grove High School. This summer, Gustavo will be a translator at the World Cup soccer games. He has one brother, a quiet 12-year-old, still in Brazil. He advises other kids his age to grab the opportunities that you see and try to be a part of them. Don’t think that just because you are in high school that you can’t do it.
- Calvin has three brothers and one sister, all younger than he. He works with his architect dad during the summer, helping collect measurements and design data. He plays Baseball in the spring, which requires about 30 hours a week. Notre Dame accepted his application, but he’s got some other schools he’s waiting to hear from: John Hopkins University, University of Illinois, University of Pennsylvania.
- Tanishq began programming when he was eleven years old. He is one of five Senior Class Presidents and a Mathlete. He is also part of the theatre tech group for the spring play. Tanishq has one younger brother. He credits his dad for fostering his interest in programming. He plans to go to University of Illinois and major in computer engineering. Tanishq’s advice: Don’t be discouraged by failure; start small and work up.
This might be the year for distraction.
I planned to write something about Downton Abby and what’s going on in the economy right now.
First I talked to Mom. For an hour. She makes me laugh. We talked about hooking up/shacking up, and the changing face of society, and divorce, and Texas, and driving in a snowstorm. We could have talked longer, but her arm hurt, and my ear got sore.
Wrestler #2 texted me to let me know his mother-in-law is back in the hospitol. Oh no!
DeeDee texted me an urgent request to research re-occurring strep infections.
Plus, I must fit in some time to find a good copy-editor and incorporate some suggestions from my beta readers.
So, here’s some fun stuff I did yesterday. It’s kind of sciencey… well, experimenty.
I blew some bubbles in the sub-zero weather and watched them freeze.
That was fun.
A friend told me she threw some boiling water outside and it froze instantly. So I gave that a try with some tea, so I could see the color.
Oh snap! That’s no good. Now I have a dirty sidewalk. I hate messes.
That reminds me. I forgot to meditate this morning.
Yup. This is the year for distraction.
Maybe I’ll sit in front of a fire and read a book this afternoon.
By the way, if you know a good copy editor, please leave a comment. Or tell me what’s going on in your neck of the woods today. I kinda like going with the flow. Oops! Here comes Ducky’s hubby. He needs help finding his watch.
No not that first time.
A sister blogger nominated me for an award. It’s the first time.
Thank you, Laurel. I love your blog: Alphabet Salad. For one thing, we are roughly, roughly in the same demographics, for another thing, we both blog about a bunch of stuff. Our minds are like honeybees: at first glance, there’s a randomness about us, but underneath it all, we are busy, busy with purpose.
So today, I’m busy, busy, responding to Laurel’s questions and nominating a few favorite bloggers of my own.
- Provide a link to and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
- Answer ten questions.
- Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read.
- Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know they have been nominated.
- Include the award logo within your blog post.
- Your favourite colour: I love color, I can hardly pick: If I must: summer-sunset-red, no morning-glory-blue, no semi-sweet-chocolate-brown. Okay, summer-sunset-red, that came to me first.
- Your favourite animal: Macaws, but only in the wild. Captured macaws make me sad. They mate for life, they raise one chick at a time for 18 years. Macaws live for about 80 years. Plus, all that color!
- Your favourite non-alcoholic drink:Tea (brewed hot or iced)
- Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
- Your favourite pattern: Uneven plaid
- Do you prefer getting or giving presents? Giving anonymously
- Your favourite number: Irrational (Pi anyone)
- Your favourite day of the week: Monday is filled with such potential
- Your favourite flower: Wild flowers, especially the thistle (but not in my backyard, those things are impossible to contain. Hmmm…)
- What is your passion? Family
- Five in Tow
- Sassy Piehole
- Stars Rain Sun Moon
- Elleroy Was Here
- The Suburban Jungle
- My Life in My Sixties
- The Beautiful Due
- Chaotic Zen (oh, I hope it’s okay to nominate one man for The Sisterhood.)
I could go on and on and on some more. So many great bloggers to pick from.
Please take a few minutes and visit each of these bloggers. Who knows – you might make a new friend!
This gallery contains 4 photos.
This fall devastating tornadoes ripped through the middle of the state I live in. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to care what time of year it is, or who she runs over. She’s wicked like that.
Donating the American Red Cross is one great way to help. With crowd-sourcing networks, it’s possible to help a specific family. I prefer giving directly to the people in need because it avoids the overhead. Either way, I’m careful, so I check out charities through Better Business Bureau “Wise Giving Report and I prefer to know who I’m helping if I choose a person or a family. Okay, yes, I bring a little cynicism along with my generosity.
My friend Britt suggested we help restore a destroyed home of one of the victims of the tornadoes instead of exchanging our usual Christmas gifts. My niece’s student, little girl named Suzy, lost her home, her toys, her clothes, her every thing. Suzy’s is the family Britt and I decided to help.
On Christmas Day I’m giving Britt a dove lapel pin, just a token, to remind her of her generosity this Christmas. The dove pin was a gift to me a few years ago. I’m having a little trouble saying goodbye to my dove. Not as much trouble as Suzy, I’m sure of that.
This time of year, I get very busy making: Making time for all the holiday activities. Making jammies for the grandkids. Making time to gift to those less fortunate.
This time of the year makes me think more than usual about ways to give back or give to those less fortunate. Maybe because the cold weather reminds me that some people are homeless. Maybe the overstuffed feeling I carry around during the holidays remind me that some remain hungry. Maybe it’s the thought of a baby in a manger being gifted by strangers.This week I’ll share some ways of giving that I find fun and personal. Putting it out there is a little stretch for me. For one thing, I like to keep my giving anonymous. You probably know the saying:
when you give… do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret…
Sunday, Duckie and I went to breakfast at our favorite place, Benedict’s La Strata. Loved One said he couldn’t wake up, so he stayed home. I was a little miffed, but then he texted me that he was not joining us for breakfast because he was doing laundry and cleaning the house. Perhaps he felt the need for some self-inflicted penance. At any rate, the blessing was on me. Whee!
A couple, younger than me, but not young, got up to leave. Okay, maybe they were my age. The woman helped her husband fasten his coat and secured a belt around his waist. A young man from the table next to them asked if they needed help to the car.
Snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even… (Good King Wenceslas)
The young man left his wife and daughter to walk the older couple around the block to their parked car.
I picked up the tab for the young family. (I got to see them smile.)
A small thing. Especially in the face of famine and war. Still, I felt like I was in one of those feel good, pass it on commercials.
I finally learned how to insert a button into my post. I’m linking with Elleroy! Yay me! Yay Elleroy! (I really Do like Mondays, it’s Sunday night that gives me the sweats.)