Back to the big city and cell phones, traffic and noise

This is our last morning in Door County. It's been a great trip. Not only have we all been productive, 

we went to a wonderful play (Tom Stoppard's Heroes) visited two spectacular gardens and spent some time at Kathy's house in the woods. Only Sandy, Jan and I came up this year; Sue couldn't make it. Kathy joined us part of the time, but she hasn't been well and didn't have energy for all of it. So this year it was three of us and Anita, our hostess.

We went back to the Garden Door, the master garden we visited last year, but the really spectacular treat was Overbeck's, a nearby private home and garden. This is a living work of art; the garden and the house being embellished with mosaics, stained glass and carved wood in amazing, tasteful ways, not at all exemplified by that website. 



Between the book workshop last week and art camp this week it's been the best two weeks I've had all year. Nothing like a little stimulation to make me forget all of my health problems. My week in Chicago should be equally good.


Friday and Saturday were filled with my ESL students. My Somali refugee is scheduled to take the citizenship exam next month. I think he's pretty well prepared except for the writing part of the test. He seems to have all of the 100 questions and answers memorized; maybe he even understands them. I think he will be able to pass the reading exam. I'm worried about the writing component. For both reading and writing he has to get one of three sentences correct. I don't know if they count spelling; that will be the crucial point.

Friday afternoon I went shopping with my Swedish Russian friend. We do lots of talking but no obvious teaching. She's taking ESL classes at the community college so I think the best thing I can do for her is conversation practice. She's doing very well. Her grammar is good–just needs more vocabulary.

This afternoon I took my Chinese doctors, along with one of their wives, on a little tour of Frick Park and the Frick Art and Historical Center. We also stopped and looked at Chinese graves in Homewood Cemetery. Unfortunately the weather wasn't very good for all the outdoor stuff.

After all of my teaching duties Robin and I went to the Verizon store where she got a Droid phone. After she tests it for thirty days, I'll decide what I want to do. I'm still vacillating.


We are still looking at phones. I think Robin will get the Verizon Droid. We'd both like the iPhone but the AT&T network is the problem. We have a family plan and we think Eli and Charna would have problems in Chicago. Charna asked her friends who are on AT&T and didn't get favorable answers.

I still haven't decided what to do; get a smart phone or just a telephone phone and maybe another netbook. I gave the other one to Eli; I never loved it. I really appreciate the comments from Kathryn and Karen. They both make the iPhone more tempting. Verizon has a 30 day trial. I suppose I could do that then change to an ordinary phone if I find I have too much trouble reading on the small screen.


I almost turned off the computer without posting. I guess it wouldn't be a tragedy, but I'll try to hang in there.

No classes today. I took a two mile walk. It was beautiful when I began then the sky slowly began to cloud over and it got cooler. I wasn't properly dressed, having decided I'd be warm enough without a coat. When the bus conveniently arrived I got on, cutting a mile off my walk.

I've gone through about six chapters in My Stroke of Inspiration. I can't say I love it; I'm not sure why it was recommended, but it has an excellent description of a stroke. Since this is what my doctors are always warning me about–high cholesterol and afib–and since I frequently don't understand what constitutes a medical emergency, it's good to read about this in detail. After I fell a couple of months ago I realized it had never occurred to me to use my cell phone and get help. It didn't matter, since help came my way fairly quickly, but I feel remiss that I never gave that phone a thought. I'll write more about this book when I finish reading it. I feel like there are important lessons to be learned from it.

New phones

Robin and I went shopping for new phones today. We would both like an iPhone, but we don't want to go on the AT&T network. So we went to look at the Droid. Maybe tomorrow I'll go back and look at the iPhone. I'd really like to talk myself out of the whole thing. I'm trying to figure out if I really need it, or just need a new phone (I don't want to buy a new battery for the old one), or maybe I want another netbook and never mind the iPhone.

So what do I want to do with the phone, besides making phone calls:
1. access the internet just to read things.
2. post to the blog from the phone. I often think of things I'd like to write when I am out, but how much would I write with that tiny keyboard?
3. take pictures with the phone and post them directly. I have this fantasy about sneaking those shots I don't take now. Probably won't do it, or not very much.
4. GPS or map directions–very handy.

Anyone out there have any good reasons for why I should or should not spend all this money? Help would be appreciated.

Traveling again–Just a little trip

Traveling with my toy again; on the train; just to New York.
This is my first trip since I returned from Japan and I really wasn't prepared
for it. I had a very hard time packing last night. I still haven't found a
couple of the things I put away before I sublet my apartment, including the bag for
toiletries I always took with me that has now become useless on airplanes.
I'm sure I didn't toss it, but I have no idea what I did with it.

 The last time I was on this train, almost a year ago, I
spent the entire trip contemplating my mortality. This was just before the
pacemaker, and I had no idea what was wrong. I am finding I have a little
trepidation about repeat visits to the places where I was sick. I'm sitting on
the other side of the train, looking left into the train; that seems to make it easier. Not too much deja

 Another place I was sick, but never talked about it, was San
Francisco. I don't think we are going again this year. I'd like to, but I also
have mixed feelings about it.

 BTW, the doctor changed one of my meds. He wanted to just
double it, but would have had to get authorization from the insurance company,
so he changed to something comparable—both generic. Would someone please
explain to me why the insurance company needs to bless my medications? I don't
blame the doctor for not wanting to mess with them, but of course, it leaves me
wondering whether the new stuff will do the job as well as the other one. The
good part is that I can easily reach the doctor by cell phone and get a new
perscription filled wherever I happen to be—one of the few blessings of having
the same services all over the country. 

 Yesterday, as I never spoke to Robin all day, I thought
about how cell phones have changed our leave-taking. Going away was a big deal.
Everyone got together to say goodby, sometimes making a going away party. Then
that phony long distance call on arrival, assuring the folks at home you made
it. Today I can call her from the train, or from New York, or wherever. My cell
phone is actually a New Jersey number: so is hers. We never bothered to change
it. Before I left I forwarded my home phone to my cell—a long distance call
each time. All of these are services are payed for on a monthly basis, whether I
use them or not, so essentially free. What a different world this is. What I
really want now is a satellite internet service, so I could surf the web from
the train. It's out there—I just can't afford it.