Saturday, June 29, 2013

Along the Way—My great-uncle's memoir

I have just finished a reading marathon: a memoir by my great uncle, Col. William Neill Hughes, Jr., who was born in 1878. His 278-page, double-spaced and self-typed manuscript written in the mid-1950s is called  Along the Way: Incidents—Anecdotes—Episodes—Adventures.  I tried to read it as a young woman because I adored my Uncle Billy, but it seemed dry and difficult. War "stories" weren't my "thing." I set it aside for—let’s see—almost sixty years.
Wm. Neill Hughes, Jr.--Uncle Billy, 1963

Sitting at my kitchen table (where the light is good and the chair comfortable), I became immersed in the politics of war—both the Spanish American and WWI—as described by this man who enlisted in the army at age nineteen (leaving behind law studies and a job working for the railroad in Pennsylvania), following in the footsteps of his career-army father. He retired from the army in 1921 as a Colonel as Chief of Staff of the 42nd Division (Rainbow).

He worked as a civilian for a period, then reentered the army at the invitation of General Squier, the Chief Signal Officer of the Army, to become chief signal officer of the 7th Corps (comprising Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa and Minnesota). After being ordered to report to Washington D.C. as the assistant to General Squier, he retired again—this time for good. His subsequent business career in New York and Chicago was focused on banking, particularly the overseeing of businesses in receivership due either to poor management or the Great Depression.

Uncle Billy’s memoir is anecdotal and reads, in part, like a Who’s Who of the army, including personal encounters and episodes involving Generals Pershing, Billy Mitchell, George Squier, Charles Rhodes, and two McArthurs, Arthur and Douglas. His first-hand tales of near assassination and near-misses from rifle and artillery fire are hair raising. His depictions of the hardships soldiers endure are among the most memorable I’ve ever read—probably because I knew the writer. For the first time in my life, I am in awe of the logistics of moving a Division of 25,000 troops from one place to another—not to mention procuring them sufficient food, clothing, and ammunition to stay alive.

In my late teen years, after meeting Uncle Billy for the first and only time (he lived in the southeastern United States and we lived in the Pacific northwest), I became his devoted fan. The two of us carried on a correspondence that began in my late high school years and lasted thirteen years until he died in 1970. We wrote to each other about many topics, but I never had a full understanding what had made him who he was—until now.

If anything has made me believe even more strongly in the legacy of anecdotal history (not to mention incidental, episodic and adventurous), it is this wonderfully rich memoir written for the author's descendants. If anything has made me believe in the need for maturation before reading certain works, it is this fascinating tale written by a man two generations ahead of me. If anything has made me want to meet up with a long-dead relative in the hereafter, it is my recent immersion in another person's life, thanks to the dedication and self-discipline of my Uncle Billy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting out the door--then and now

Remember summertime when you were seven- or eight-years old? The freedom factor?

I would like to think that I, as a seventy-three-year-old, have as much freedom (or more) as I did when I was seven. I’m doubtful, however, when it comes to getting out the door on a summer morning.
 That 1947 little girl would wake up,
  • leap out of bed,
  • throw on her clothes,
  • eat breakfast,
  • brush her teeth, and
OK, she was supposed to wash her face and wait for her mother braid her hair, but what stood between her and the joy of the day really didn’t amount to much. Now look at what it takes to leave the house on a summer morning.
This 2013 old woman has to wake up:
  • stagger out of bed,
  • drink coffee, 
  • read parts of two newspapers,  
  • check three e-mail inboxes,
  • eat breakfast,
  • brush her teeth,
  • take a shower,  
  • rub on body lotion,
  • select an outfit,
  • blow dry and style hair,
  • check chin and eyebrows for straggly hairs,  
  • apply lipstick,  
  • swallow assorted over-the-counter vitamin and joint supplements,
  • wash her eyeglasses,  
  • insert her hearing aids,  
  • switch orthotics into the appropriate shoes,  
  • hunt down a hankie or tissue packet,
  • locate her sunglasses,
  • check the stove burners and the front door bolt,  
  • gather belongings—purse, cell phone, keys, and finally,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Earth Comfort Woman

Actual clothing worn by Earth Comfort Woman
on the day the title was bestowed
So much for fancying myself as a fashion icon for seventy-somethings. Yesterday I had an experience that wiped that possibility off the slate.

Fashion has never been my thing, but I strive for a well- groomed and coordinated look. After I retired, even though comfort took precedent as the essential factor in my clothing choices, I have continued trying to look—some days more successfully than others—“put together.”  At the very least, I imagine myself as a woman who curtsies to fashion, even if she doesn’t embrace it.

But after yesterday, any self-delusion must be put aside. I walked into the bank where I’m a regular customer, due to my role as Treasurer of my Homeowners’ Association.  The three middle-aged female tellers always look up to greet me, which is a pleasant change from the supermarket where I have shopped for dozens of years and spent thousands of dollars annually without a glimmer of recognition from a checkout clerk.

One of the tellers called out, “Hi, there! You look great today . . . so summery and comfortable.”

The second one echoed, “Yes, your clothes are always so nice and, uh . . . wholesome looking—so comfy.”

The third woman topped off this cozy welcome with, “You should probably know," she said as she nodded at the other two, "we refer to you as Earth Comfort Woman."

Outwardly smiling, I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or laugh on the inside. Self-image is one thing; conveyance of that image to others is an entirely different animal. Earth Comfort Woman is not a bad image, really . . . but one I never would  have tagged myself with. I finished up my banking as quickly as possible.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain about my anonymity at the supermarket.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Renewing domain registration Google

NOTE: Before you go to the trouble of reading what's below, check out the June 22, 2014 post for a GOOD tip that could save you HOURS of angst. sg 6/22/14

I wish I could give exact instructions on how to renew a domain registration through Google. Unfortunately, I cannot, but I can tell you what I eventually did to renew mine.
First, here is the UNHELPFUL e-mail I received June 2, 2013 from Google Apps.

Per our records, your domain registration subscription for the domain has been set to NOT auto-renew. As a result, this domain WILL NOT auto-renew on June 25, 2013. If you do not enable auto-renew, your domain name registration will expire, your Google Apps account will no longer be associated with your domain name, and you may lose all data associated with your Google Apps account. Therefore, if you’d like to continue using Google Apps we recommend turning auto renewal ON. Please do not reply to this email, replies are not monitored.

All I had to do was to check the box for “automatic renewal” but there was no way to get to where that button was.

After about three hours of sitting at my computer that day—searching and searching for a way in to Google Apps, I began seeking outside help. That saga, extending over six days of fretful frustration, is covered in my June 3 post called “Google Hellp.” Eventually, I was able to restore an old file containing the original e-mail, which I saved in 2009 (the file having been overwritten when I downloaded a “new and improved” upgrade from my Internet Provider a year ago). Of course, I had no idea that was going to happen when I agreed to the upgrade.

The idea for looking for the link in the original e-mail was a solution reported online by others in the same boat. But WHY wasn’t the link contained in my June 2 e-mail? And why—on GOOGLE itself—wasn’t the Google Apps I needed crossed referenced so a search would find it easily?

 When I located the original e-mail sent out by Google when I first purchased my domain, I was able to just click the link provided in that e-mail and “Voila?”  It’s a unique link for my domain, however—and it isn’t going to work for anyone else. The beginning of it is: followed by 34 characters in a mix and match of numbers, alphas, and symbols with lower and upper case particulars. When I received the original e-mail in July 2009, I was instructed to go to a help center identified as which now appears to be a useless address.

Here are two addresses in my original e-mail that might  help someone who is in the same boat:

My only advice is to SAVE YOUR ORIGINAL E-MAIL when you purchase your domain, as following Google’s instructions results in a BIG nothing! Good luck, and may you never ever have to repeat what I went through.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Whole New Meaning to "Missing Link"

Thanks to a whole lot of people who had ideas ab out my blog domain crisis . . . the day-saver was none other than Hubby who helped me locate a missing saved file on my P.C. that contained the link I needed.

I learned, after combing myriad help sites online, that hundreds and hundreds of other domain owners are having the same horrible problem with Google Apps that I had.  Most of those people concluded that the ONLY way to reset the renewal was to use a link initially sent from Google when the domain originally was purchased. My Internet provider had upgraded my service a year-and-a-half ago, and wiped out my old stored e-mails in the process.  Even its helpline could not help me find them.

Enter Hubby! He recalled an earlier way he and I backed up saved e-mails, and--after he sat down at my computer, found and restored the old e-mails--I was able to locate the e-mail from July 2009 containing the missing link.

I am still furious at Google, but at least I have Beats Talking to Myself for another year. And believe me, I have made so many backups of how to do it in the future that I will have to be totally senile to have a repeat of this trouble.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Google hell(p)

I write tonight oozing with frustration. Google has me completely flummoxed. I want to like Google because it supports my blog, but tonight I am not liking Google, even a little bit.

I love my blog--its name, as well as the opportunity it gives me to comment on anything at all. Over the four years I've been writing it, more than 25,000 people have seen it. No doubt some of those hits were from readers trying to find something or someone else, but it's still satisfying to see the readership numbers increase monthly. Tonight I am hoping one of those readers (you?) will be able to help me.

The problem: I have received a notice from Google ("Do NOT respond to this e-mail) that my blog domain will not renew without intervention from me. If I don't intervene by the end of June, I will lose my domain--the name "Beats Talking To Myself." And, I have to confess, that even people who hate blogs and never read them on principle tell me they like the name of my blog. I cannot imagine having a blog by any other name. No, it would NOT smell as sweet, Mr. Shakespeare.

All I have to do by way of this intervention is to change one check-mark in "Manage My Domain" section of the administrative part of my blog. Problem is, I cannot access that area. I have searched Q&As online; I have driven to Best Buy to talk to a Geek Squad member face-to-face, I have accepted help from a knowledgeable young veteran who overheard the Geek Squad conversation; I have asked a former neighbor who used to work for Google; I have tried every possible Website referenced and cross referenced by others trying to do the same thing. I even did everything a second time as Hubby sat next to me to validate my attempts; I have talked to another tech squad on an 800 line.

The answer is always: ASK GOOGLE. But there's the rub (thanks, Mr. Shakespeare--that works)--there is no way to ASK GOOGLE!  Even after the Geek Squad man gave me a telephone number and an e-mail address, there is no way. I have to be a business with employees to get a response from Google. No help is provided otherwise. (I even tried faking up a business, but that didn't work.) I would be happy to pay Google for advice, but there seems to be no way to do that, either.

The sad thing is that when a domain expires, Google doesn't keep the blog around. The content disappears. I have always considered my blog as a legacy, of sorts, for my primary audience--my grown children. So this is not just maddening, it is traumatizing to the motherly corner of my heart.

If anyone who reads this can help me, please . . . the comment section on the blog has a large capacity. Thank you.