Passwords…they are such an important part of our technologically driven world. We need them to safeguard and use our computers, cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices.  Terms such as “shazam” or “open sesame” or even “abracadabra” come to my mind.  Think “genie in the bottle” kind of passwords.  However, for those of us who have short term memory issues, remembering a password is a challenge.  Never mind multiple passwords for multiple accounts. I once worked in an office that required employees to change passwords on a quarterly basis.  I never did and no one ever noticed.  So much for workplace edicts. 


I have my “standard” password that I like to use. This password is a term that is an integral part of my life, yet it is an uncommon word that one wouldn’t think to use.  It works for most of my “accounts,” like for comments sections where I usually blast the article or commentary written and it will suffice for some of the utilities accounts.  It is a simple one and that is part of the problem, it is a simple. 


Now I understand that for security reasons, some passwords must have upper and lower case letters have a number or some symbol and be of a specific length. This can be annoying, especially if the caps lock on the keyboard is stuck.  I cringe at the sight of “case sensitive” when one is entering their special word to access their account.


Since I am also one of those people who have “selective memory,” (I remember useless and trivial stuff at the wrong time), I write all my passwords down on index cards and keep them together on a metal ring.  I also note the date that I “opened”  said account on whatever website it may be.  I share this stack of index cards with my husband.  He knows that if he has to access the gas and electric bill on the utility’s website that the password will be in the batch labeled with both our names.  Never mind that all the accounts are in his name, I am actually the person who goes on the site to pay the bill, or check the household monthly usage or whatever else one does on utility company websites.


While I admit that this isn’t the most secure way of managing passwords, it works for me!  My husband has a system as well.  He has a folder in his computer aptly titled “Passwords.”  Now this is a great system until he forgets the password to actually use the computer.  That event HAS come to pass, and well, let’s just say that I now also write down all of HIS passwords on an index cards.  My system is looking better all the time, isn’t it??


To add to the items that are now clogging my brain, let’s add in the “user name” for some of the world’s websites. I have fairly common first name in America; at least it was in the mid-1960’s when I was born.  The utility companies use merely request a valid email, however there are lots of sites like “Pinterest” which require a user name AND and email.  Let’s not forget the “comments” sections of news (and pseudo news) sites.  Some only require and email and a password, but those sites that use Disqus as a moderator, require a user name, a password and screen name.  Haven’t I done enough thinking up a password of acceptable length and using the appropriate mix of letters, numbers and symbols? Apparently, I have not.


My solution is simple: I use my full name (see, I told you I like simplicity!). However, it’s not the English language version.  I am fortunate enough to have a name that fully translates into a little used language in Europe (thanks Dad!). I type in that “name” and voila’ I have a user name!  Woo Hoo.  Now, I realize that this won’t be helpful to all the Sallys and Sues and Toms and Harrys, but hey, it works for me.

And from my perspective, problem solved!

vintage social networking

A picture IS worth more than a thousand words! Very, very clever!

Wrong Hands

vintage social networking

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I also wish every parent understood that they are their child’s first teacher!!

an educator's re-education

Dear Parent/Guardian,

I am your child’s teacher.  My role as educator extends far beyond the walls of my classroom.  It is my profession, what I practice.   I have chosen to devote the better part of what will be the years that make up my life to educating your child. I take it very seriously and I should; I am a stakeholder in your child’s future.

And so are you. You take it seriously also.  You take your role in your child’s life more seriously than probably anyone else ever will.  You have spent countless hours modeling empathy and kindness, teaching right from wrong, helping your child learn how to navigate through an increasingly complicated world and spending time to understand who your child is and where he/she is coming from.   You do this in order to help guide your child down the path to who he/she will become…

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Yet another reason why I love my country.

Waffle House

I have been having an affair.  For years now I have been going behind the back of my first true love, for the dirty, grimy, and greasy mistress.  The shame I felt over the last several years has finally culminated into this article, this declaration of my love/hate relationship.  I love mediocre food.

After a long week of cooking every meal, maybe going out to a good restaurant, and eating food that is generally good, my relationship with food goes dark and I reach for a distraction.  It’s hard to explain exactly why, but sometimes I feel the undeniable pull of a gas station hotdog or an assortment of greasy Waffle House treats.  I know that they are bad for me, I know that they are unhealthy, I know that the enjoyment I’ll feel will always be followed by guilt, but

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Homily or Infomercial?

My husband and I went to Saturday evening Mass tonight, as is my usual routine. It was short one altar server, but the Deacon was present and provided the homily. At least it was supposed to be the homily. Rather than relate the Gospel reading to everyday life, he said a few words asking all to pray for the retiring Pope and for the Cardinals in the upcoming Conclave. That actually made some sense, but then he launched into the discussion of death, cremation and the Church’s views on the matter. We were all advised that upon death we should be buried, not cremated. The Church has allowed for cremation since Vatican II, however, those who are cremated should have those ashes interred in a Catholic cemetery. Anyone who has ashes of loved ones in their homes should consider removing them from their home and interring said ashes in a Catholic cemetery. For anyone who needed any information regarding funeral planning, the representative from the local Catholic cemetery was available after all masses this weekend.

As I sat favorite pew listening, I was quite shocked and completely unsure what to think. While I know that planning for this eventuality is important, was this really an appropriate topic for a homily?

As we walked out of the church, I noted that the rep from the cemetery was sitting behind us.

My late parents were both cremated. Their respective ashes are in a “companion” urn that resides on the mantel in my living room. My mom had wanted to be cremated and have me keep her ashes with me to spare me the necessity of visiting her grave in a cemetery. Mom was never able to visit her own mother’s grave. She passed away first and my dad died four months later. He had told me that he also wanted to be cremated and his ashes were to be with my mother’s and I was to keep the urn with me forever.

Are my actions sacrilegious? Perhaps to an ultraconservative Catholic, they may be but I do not agree. I see this as following my parents’ wishes and keeping the commandment of honoring thy mother and father. While I fully expect to spend some time in that lime gelatin with pineapple chunks that is purgatory (for reasons that have nothing to do with cremation), I highly doubt that failing to inter my parent’s urn in a cemetery will send me to hell.

Lent and the Gospel of Matthew

Lent has begun again and the simple reminder that only God needs to know of your good works.  “…But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right hand is doing…” Matthew 6:1-6, NAB

 I recall being told this many times by my late father.  He believed that when you give of your time and/or money, you should never attach your name to your efforts. You know and God knows and sometimes you have to tell the IRS if you need that tax deduction, but overall, no one else really needs to know.  Why is that, you may ask?  Well, as I see it, to attach your name or “blowing your own horn” diminishes the whole point of the efforts.  In my almost fifty years of time on this planet, I find that humans have a hard time with this concept. 

It is everywhere in society…it is all about the world knowing what you did or that it was your money that paid for such and such building or funding some social program and the like.  It is a frequent occurrence in the higher education world.  A really good example is the university I attended.  Keep in mind; this is a Catholic school that was founded by a religious order.  Whenever someone donates money that builds a new building, their name goes on it and we all know who paid for that building.  Is that really necessary?  This particular school has also renamed buildings when a donor has given money to “upgrade” an existing structure.  They just recently renamed an athletic field that was originally named for a long-time coach to someone else’s name.  Why? Money was donated and as a “perk” (or possibly a condition of the donation) the donor has their name slapped on the sign outside the field.

 On the other hand…I suspect that people who make large donations don’t subscribe to my belief that good works are to be a quiet effort, such as the individuals who have buildings named for them at my alma mater.  I also note that this doesn’t apply to the corporate world.  Now, I am not speaking of the local dry-cleaning establishment sponsoring a softball team, but in terms of advertising.  For example, the sports arenas around the country that have corporate names on them.  These change so fast that I do not even keep track of them anymore.

 I have made a concerted effort to instill “quiet giving” to my daughter.  I think it is an important personal value to have and be part of one’s daily life.  I think she “gets” it and I am sure that my dad is watching from heaven and is pleased.

Please pray for these families and the lost innocents. Thank you.

Robin Coyle

Today’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School as left me feeling legless.

Are you like me and want to help the families of the victims of today’s senseless shooting rampage, but don’t know what to do? I want to give each of them a hug, and while not a religious person, I want to say a prayer on bended knee with them.

Our friend, Paula Action, shared the school address with me. While far short from a comforting hug or shoulder to lean on, sending a card or letter expressing our sorrow, support, and condolences is at least something. The nation mourns alongside the community. Knowing that we do might help them a bit. As Paula suggested, writing a note would be a lovely thing to do with the family tonight. Excellent idea, Paula. Oh, and pass the word to your friends and family.

The school’s address is:


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Need vs. Want, that is the question.

A dear friend has the most recently released iPhone.  They appear quite complicated with their touch screens.  It rang (well, it actually played a song) and since my friend’s hands were wet, she asked me to silence it. I looked at this phone and I had not a clue how to answer since there were no visible buttons to actually push.  My phone still has visible buttons to push to answer or ignore the call (I always answer).  I just touched the screen and her husband’s name popped up as he said “hello.” My initial response was to jump.  I was surprised that my simple action of touching the screen would connect the call.  I awkwardly told my friend’s husband that she would be “right there.” 

 I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of options available just by touching the screen.  What if I had disconnected the call?  What if I had damaged the instrument in some way?  Part of me would love to have one and the other part of me is hesitant.  How much would my life be enriched by the having one of these gadgets?  Do I really need one?  Do I really need access to the internet on my phone? Do I need to have “an app” for that? Talk about advertising placement!  That phase has made its way into dictionaries! (well, a few lexicons, at least.)  Do I really need to update my Facebook page with “check-ins” at every place I go? Do all my FB friends need to know when I check in at the grocery store?  More importantly, do they care?  Sure, it would be cool and I’d be a “hip mom” according to my daughter, but I always come back to the question of need.

 Adding in to the justification for the need, is this something that I can really afford?  I often worry about paying the bill for the cell phone I already have! Do I really want to add to my worry and increase that bill for what may be a passing whim?  Some folks can always justify this part of the equation as want and need being the same thing.  However, I do not.  Not being a person with an endless supply of money to meet the costs of all my bills, let alone my whims; and my conscience always playing a role in all my purchases, I simply cannot fathom a need for a phone with a constant connection to the internet.  It would be nice, but it would also be nice to have a housekeeper, a chef and a person to drive me around, yet I don’t need them!  I am able to do all of the work those folks would do myself and just think of all the money I would be saving!  If I need to look up something on the internet, then I can wait until I get home.  Look at all the money I’d save!

I could also justify getting a new cell phone by thinking of it as boosting the economy.  That is something that is a plus, but would I really be helping the local economy or make some already rich shareholder richer?  I realize that this is a stretch, but it is an economic truth.  I did that two years when I actually upgraded to a better phone instrument.  It’s a perfectly good phone that is still in excellent condition.  I am far better at caring for phones than my husband.  He is the reason why cell carriers have insurance and actually make money on it.

After much thought (and household budget review), an new cell phone is out of the question.  I mean, I’m looking online for coupons for stuff I need, how do I think I can afford the luxury of this phone?  I don’t.  Maybe by the time I can afford one, the price will drop.  That is an economic reality.  Patience IS a virtue. 

December 7

It is Pearl Harbor Day.  On a Sunday morning, 71 years ago, the world changed forever.

It is also the reason why I am on this planet.  This event that took place 24 years before I was actually born, but it was the event which started a chain reaction that culminated in me.  But for Pearl Harbor,  my father would not have joined the United States Marine Corps.  In turn, after his stint in the war, he was sent to his last duty station in California.  There, he married his first wife, my older brothers were born and they later divorced.  In the meantime, my mother emigrated to the U.S. from Canada, following her parents who already immigrated the previous year, 1960, specifically. My parents met and not long afterward I arrived.

I could also point out that my mother’s involvement as in coming to California had as much of a role in my existence.  Well, it is true, since one needs both parties to exist, particularly since this was long before IVF.  However, I digress.  The reason my mother came to California from Canada was to follow her parents and younger siblings. The weather here was better for my grandfather’s health.  He had been a flier for the Royal Canadian Air Force and was badly injured during the war.  Same war, different theatre.  He needed to be in a warmer climate than the damp cold of Canadian winters. 

Given the addition of the latter scenario, I could also say that but for Germany invading Poland, I wouldn’t be here either.

Regardless of the reason(s) for my personal existence, I say “Thank you” to every single Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine who died on December 7, 1941.  Thank you for defending my country and my way of life.  And I wasn’t even a twinkle in my father’s eye yet.

Wanted: Focus

That’s my title and I want some.  Focus, that is.  I have been feeling unsettled and I’m not sure why I am in this current state.

In assessing my current faculties, I think that my thoughts and emotions are out of kilter due to some changes going on at home.  My husband is in transition with his work and money is very tight.  My daughter is in her last year at her present school and preparing to apply to a private high school.  I’m not sure if I will be able to continue in my current “job” next year. 

Now, add this to my already-in-progress-mid-life crisis, and I am really feeling out of sorts.  I suppose that I could factor in the beginning of menopause to this mix, just to round out the symptoms. To sum it up:  I’m feeling out of sorts.

Reviewing this self-diagnosis tells me that I need to really assess what is going on in my life and how do I treat the symptoms to heal my emotions and settle down.  Focus on eliminating or adjusting parts of my life that I can that create the feeling of being unsettled.  I suppose that “goal setting” or something similar would be part of this cure.

I guess I had better get busy.