Monday, April 9, 2018

Hey! -- a discussion of language

image from NTU Magazine

Did that "hey" get your attention? Today is H Day in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and although there are many H words and topics, I settled on Hey! I've always been fascinated by the variability of the English language. It changes from country to country and region to region within countries that pride themselves on having English as a common language.

I grew up in Oklahoma which is in the South Central United States -- Southern enough that we were taught in school that the Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a gentleman and the Union General Ulysses S. Grant was not. But not so Southern that we ever referred to the American Civil War as The War of Northern Aggression.

Hey! was rude, a word used to get our attention and immediately followed by some accusation of an error on our part.

"Hey! You stepped on my foot!"
"Hey! She cut in line!"
"Hey! That's my piece of pie!"

If children used it just to get someone's attention, they were quickly corrected by any adult in the area saying "Hay is for horses."

Then I grew up and moved to Southeast Arkansas. Now that, by-the-bye, is truly Southern. Southern enough that the worst epithet you can hurl is "Yankee!" And the worst insult is the accusation "You must be from the North" which translates to "You rude, ignorant piece of white trash."

There the word Hey! was a friendly greeting, synonymous with "Hi" or "Hello." I lived there for a little more than six years and quickly established my own red line about being from the North. I was from a town in Central Oklahoma which is north of Southeast Arkansas, but I refused to be insulted. "Typical Yankee, she doesn't even know she's being insulted. Bless her heart."

I did not, however, live there long enough to be shouted Hey! at without cringing. And I never did take it up as a greeting. I still have an instant of defensiveness when someone directs Hey! at me. Even though now, Hey! is a friendly greeting throughout the United States. Perhaps it's global like okay. I don't know.

But, Hey! I guess that's a good thing.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Facebook and Google -- Opinion

image from

Yesterday was Day F in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge and today was G.

With all the news these days about loss of privacy and security because of our presence on social media F and G were easy--Facebook and Google.

Am I willing to give up Facebook to protect my security. To avoid being manipulated by advertisers and political operatives?

Apparently, I started on Facebook in July of 2008. I'm sure there's a way to find out exactly, but I couldn't figure it out. It's not really that important exactly when. Why is more important.

I was taking cake decorating classes and the instructor said it was easier to share photos with Facebook. She posted pictures of the cakes she did and I wanted to see them. Soooo....

My daughter Grace, a teen at the time helped her internet-illiterate mother open a Facebook account so I could see my cake decorating instructor's pictures of beautiful cakes.

In less than a week I received a friend request from a person I went to high school with. She hadn't said ten words together to me in high school so I couldn't imagine why she wanted to be my friend anywhere, much less on Facebook which could come into my home willy-nilly via my computer screen.

I didn't know if she would be notified if I rejected her friend request. And what would I do when I saw her in Walmart? Our town was small enough that that was possible. Would she be mad at me? Confront me? Vandalize my car? Well, no she wouldn't do that! So I accepted the friend request to avoid any possible unpleasantness.

Then a couple days later that same woman's ex-husband sent me a friend request. He'd never been particularly friendly to me in high school either and I surely didn't want to get in the middle of those two.

The only thing to do was to get Grace to cancel my Facebook account. Cake decorating be damned.

Grace, being slightly more rational than I, reassured me that I could just unfriend her and ignore his request. And that they wouldn't get any ugly public announcements that I had rejected them. She said that they, in fact, would probably not notice and if they did they'd just chalk it up to my flaky inability to hit the right keys and not take it personally.

She talked me into keeping my Facebook account. And I am so glad I did.

My daughter-in-law posts photos and videos of my grandchildren's activities. They live hundreds of miles away from me, and I could easily feel left out of their lives. But, just like tonight, one of my grand's team won first in their state Destination Imagination competition and will be going to Globals next month. Within minutes I could see for myself through the photos and video she posted. Color me included and proud of those beautiful, brilliant, creative young people.

Plus -- my brother lives more than a thousand miles from me. We talk on the phone, but the photos he shares via Facebook make me not feel so far away from him.

And my cousins are scattered hither and yon. We grew up together and were almost as close as siblings but I don't know their children or their spouses or their children's children and spouses very well at all. Facebook has helped me get better acquainted with them.

And my husband's family. Again we live very far away from them, but we're getting to watch the littles grow and keep up with the grown-ups.

My daughter and her partners are our only family close at hand and that will end this coming August when she marries and moves to Houston for grad school. We'll still talk on the phone, but I'm sure I'll depend on Facebook to ease the separation.

And Google? Well I'm sure Google also sells my info to businesses for all kinds of purposes. Like I heard a commentator comment "If it's a free service, my information is a commodity."

I'm a writer and like all writers I need access to information -- all kinds of information. As much as I love my local library, and as extensive as the collection is, it is still limited compared to the world's information. It is still a drive across town while my laptop sits on my desk and my cell phone is in my pocket.

I must admit, that I feel a little uncomfortable when ads for hotels in Washington, D.C., pop up because I've been researching online for an upcoming trip. Or there are ads for dining places that show up because I'm using GPS to find my way. But then access to these kinds of information when I might want to use it is very convenient.

So what can I do? I can take standard precautions -- I keep my antivirus software up to date; change my passwords regularly; turn off the location on my devices when it's not necessary for what I'm doing; avoid apps that request access to my Facebook friends and my email contacts and hope they do the same for me.

I research information for veracity. I even looked up the website that was the source for the image I used at the top of this post. It's a news agency in India.

I don't open forwarded emails. I don't open emails from sources I don't know.

And when I do mess up one of my devices as I have and probably will again, I take it to someone who knows how to clean up after me. And yes I do backups regularly.

I know, the world is a dangerous place. There are bad actors out there who will search out and take advantage of weaknesses. But I will not be cut off from the world. Or the people I care about.

So I'll keep using Facebook and Google.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Deviled Eggs -- Flash Fiction

Without looking up from her laptop, she chirped "Here's one! Ham and egg lasagna. Twelve hard-boiled eggs, ham, Swiss cheese..."

"We had egg salad sandwiches for lunch," he put his tablet aside and got up from the couch.

"I know," she said. "But we need to use them up."

He went to the hall closet.

"The kids had so much fun hunting eggs. How about pickled eggs?" She called after him. "Eight boiled eggs, a jar of beets ...." She sent the recipe to the printer.

He came back through the dining room carrying his favorite day pack. He hoped they'd found them all. He didn't relish finding boiled eggs with the lawn mower weeks down the road.

"Bill? Did you hear? Pickled eggs?"

"Um hum. And beets," he said as he headed for the kitchen.

"I'm glad we didn't get plastic eggs," she said. "Here are a whole bunch of recipes for deviled eggs," she cried. "You like deviled eggs!"

He opened the refrigerator door. "I think I'll take Buddy for a walk."

Hearing his name and the magic word walk, the old Lab padded happily into the kitchen after his man.

"Buddy will like that. Greek deviled eggs. Italian deviled eggs. Mexican deviled eggs."

"Yes, dear," he said filling the day pack from the fridge while Buddy waited patiently at his feet.

"Crab stuffed deviled eggs. Real eggs are just so much more nutritious. Instead of all that chocolate for the kids."

"Nutritious," he echoed with an aside to Buddy, "For the coyotes and foxes and crows and coons."

Buddy pranced a bit in anticipation as Bill closed the refrigerator door and zipped the back pack.

"I just love Easter," she enthused as Bill and Buddy headed to the back door. "The kids do so enjoy dyeing eggs. Avocado Ranch deviled eggs." She hit the send button again and he could hear the printer spitting out yet another recipe for deviled eggs. "And they were so pretty."

"Yes. Very pretty," he said and snapped the leash onto the dog's collar. "They'll look very pretty indeed. Scattered in the pasture south of the neighborhood.

*   *   *

This bit of flash fiction is my piece for Days D and E in the 2018 A to Z Blogging Challenge for which I was too late to officially enter. So I'm just shadowing.

Technically, one is supposed to post a blog every day in April (except Sundays) and each post is supposed to be about something that begins with the letter for that day. April 1 was A, April 2 was B, and so on.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

April Blogging Challenge


Today was  Day in the 2018 April Blogging Challenge.
But Alas, I Belatedly Comprehended
that April had Begun and I Couldn't sign up.
Tomorrow will be D Day