my two cents’ worth

Well, well, well! Two days ago, I put on my best pair of smarty pants to write about receiving the wrong change and the implications. I posted “Correct change, please” on this blog, and within two hours those smarty pants were pulled down around my ankles!

I could not tell you about this, but it is important for me to re-examine the lesson purportedly learned in “Correct change, please”. Call it coincidence, call it the work of Ye Gods righting a wrong, or just call it ironic, but I found myself in the same situation as the cashier at the fast food restaurant who gave me incorrect change. [You can re-read the post for details.]

Ahem! A small group of four came into the museum and walked around to see the exhibits. One woman decided she wanted some souvenirs, and selected a bumper sticker and a magnetized yellow ribbon to attach to her car. One cost $2.12 and the other cost $3.21, for a total of $5.33.

When people buy things at the museum, one has to log the purchase in a ledger as well as make change from a cash register. The ledger is simple enough, but I’ve operated the cash register maybe four times since they got it, always after weeks in between uses. In the good old days, one made change from a cash box, which didn’t take much skill. The cash register isn’t that difficult to use, though I am very slow on it for lack of experience.

There are keys to punch for each type of souvenir. Punch the sticker key, then the price. Punch the magnet key, then…what? No key for that, and people are waiting so they can get on the road..! Stumbling around trying to sort the transaction into a category, I discover “other” on a key. “Other” is a term often used on charts or breakdowns of data to show “there are several unrelated categories combined here that represent a tiny percent of the whole, so I didn’t bother to categorize them for you”.

While doing this piddling around, the woman handed me some money, a $20.00 and $.35 in coins, with the intention it’d simplify the transaction. I hit the total button to open the cash register to get change, then realized – shit! – I should have hit the subtotal key because now there’d be no record of how much she gave me and the amount of change returned. No real issue since the cash will total out the same, but how it got there will be a bit vague, I guess. I took two $.01 coins out to further simplify the transaction, then realized…um! How does that simplify it? I should make change all at once.

Perhaps I should set this up like I did the fast food transaction:

The woman wanted to buy two items for $5.33, and gave me $20.35 to pay for it. Her change would be $15.02, $.02 of which I just gave her. I mentally added the two up, but I couldn’t see the $5.33 on the cash register tape. That gave me a bit of a panic. If there are errors on that, I don’t have any training on what I’m supposed to do.

In past, since I rarely use the machine, I’ve simply left notes to the curator so she could figure it out. There’s no curator at the moment. Confusion. I apologised to the woman for being so slow since I am not that familiar with the machine. In the process, the confusion, I also became totally incapable of figuring out how much she had coming back! (“Take that smarty pants!” Down around my ankles, people. Down around my ankles, and they are my best pair of smarty pants at that!)

Where X is the change coming to the woman:

X = ($20.00 + $.25 + $.05 + $.05) – ($2.12 + $3.21)

[I confused things at this point by giving her two $.01 coins of the change coming to her, telling her that’d simplify it for me!]

X = ($20.35 – $.02) – $5.33
X = $20.33 – $5.33
X = $15.00, so I hand her a $10.00 bill and go blank on what further change she’s owed!

I fumbled around, found a piece of paper to do a manual calculation (!) of the transaction since I stumbled using the cash register. Kind of like the time, after I got used to using a pocket calculator at work, I used the calculator to figure out how much 10 times a number would be. Yes, I actually did that! I was embarrassed that day, too!

She, a bit perturbed by now, curtly noted I owed her $5.00 more. I don’t think I thanked her for the purchase, I was so embarrassed after my very public abuse of the young lady at the fast food restaurant. I was very glad to see that party leave.

Besides, her husband was hacking like he had a bad cold, something that I am too susceptible to because of my weakened immune system. I especially was glad he was gone! He’d been standing too close to us, hacking, during this transaction, which was a distraction on top of my non compos mentis [i.e. “senior moment”] breakdown.

This is what I thought I learned from the fast food transaction where I was shorted $.10: “I told myself not to help the cashier again, and $.10 is a small price to pay for that lesson!” And my moment? So, what, if anything, did I learn from my failure to handle a simple cash transaction?

1. Be patient with people who are just learning how to use tools to do cash transactions. I got zero instruction on the cash register, but sort of understand how it works, thanks to making mistakes every few weeks when I have to use it. The young cashier, clearly new at her job, probably knew how to handle exact cash and cash transactions where the purchase price is subtracted from a $10.00 or $20.00, for example, but the extra change on top of the currency I gave her was just enough different from what she expected that she went into a small panic trying to handle me promptly. I got to walk a bit in her shoes Thursday at the museum!

2. You aren’t making things simpler for the cashier by adding a few coins on top of a bill that’s large enough to pay for the whole transaction. It may save you getting some unwanted coins in change, but it is an atypical transaction. Your intent may seem obvious, and may actually save some effort, but it can also confuse. [“Twenty, twenty-twenty-five, twenty-thirty, twenty-thirty-one, twenty-thirty-two, twenty-thirty-three, erm, and I gave you two cents, so, erm, twenty-thirty-four and -five. Um…that right?!” No, you start counting the change, not the amount given you, stupid! “Ten, fifteen! There you go! Thank you for supporting the museum!”]

3. Be patient with myself. I am comfortable with numbers. I salivate over a well-drawn chart. I find statistics yummy. I know how to count out change. So, don’t let a disease-hacking husband, an impatient wife, and an unfamiliar cash register be cause for excoriating myself. Heck, it is ludicrous to think about, but to show self-contempt by spitting in my face, I’d either have to spit into the wind or tilt my head back, spit up, and wait. Don’t be silly!

And that’s my two cents’ worth. Be kind to each other. Be patient. Be tolerant. You don’t want to be be caught in an unsettling coincidence, a provocation of Ye Gods where they must right your wrong, or catch yourself being ironic. To do so is to risk ruining your best smarty pants!


Correct change, please!

I stopped by a local fast food place yesterday afternoon. I didn’t feel like fixing supper and the restaurant had an old (caloric!) favorite back on the menu for a short time. Had to have one!

I placed an order for the sandwich, a Dr. Pepper, and french fries (the really bad part…), and the total was $4.91.

“Let’s make this easy for the cashier,” I thought as I drove to the pay window. Instead of giving her a $5.00, I’d give her $5.91. Here’s the scheme:

X = ($5.00 + .91) – $4.91, where X is the change coming to me.

It seemed simple enough to me. I trust people reading this post are as smart as I give them – you! – credit for, and realize all I expected back was a $1.00 bill.

I handed the $5.91 to the cashier, who stumbled around, dropped a the 1 cent piece on the floor. She sorted the change into the cash register slots, one $5.00 into the $5.00 slot; three $.25 coins into the $.25 coin slot; one $.10 into the $.10 coin slot; one $.05 coin into the $.05 coin; but (I couldn’t see) I can’t say that the $.01 coin went into the drawer because I don’t know if she found it.

She fumbled around some more, looking confused, stunned, struck between the eyes. As far as I know, her cash register tells her how much money the customer has coming back. Most do these days since most cashiers seem enumerate. Probably can’t tell time with an analog clock, either. I waited some more as cars piled up behind me.

Then she went back to the cash drawer to pull out my change, in coins. Let me finish the equation for you:

X = ($5.00 + .91) – $4.91
X = $5.91 – $4.91
X = $1.00

She handed me these coins:

I may support doubling the minimum wage to $15.00, but some people need to upgrade their math skills first!

I may support doubling the minimum wage to $15.00, but some people need to upgrade their math skills first!

For those who are familiar with US coinage, you see that the change received was $.90, not $1.00, for a shortage of $.10. I told myself not to help the cashier again, and $.10 is a small price to pay for that lesson!

My cats like to help.

My new all-in-one-machine came today. I had lots of help unpacking it. Andy wanted all the crinkly stuff, and Dougy couldn’t wait for me to empty the shipping box before he tried it out! At one point, Andy ran off with a crinkly packet with instructions in it. He did that with the crinkly packet of instructions for the Dyson DC41 animal vacuum, too. It’s his “thang”! While I chased Andy for the instructions, Dougy prepared to swan dive into the packing box, but I stopped him just in time!

Even with the help from my boys, the installation went reasonably smoothly, as these things go. I didn’t blaspheme even once! (Of course not – this is church stuff in the print queue! I used standard street terms to smooth a rough spot or two. Ha!) It is nice to have a modern all-in-one machine again.

There is a deadline on when my friend needs her bulletins and study materials. I wanted to finish all my printing today if possible. And I did! It is fair to note, however, that Andy continued to help me (see video),

and Dougy freaked out because I made him get out of his box, one that didn’t exist in his universe until today. Really! Who wants cat hair – or butt! – on their church bulletin? It’s the one I saved to keep the printed material neat until I can give it to my friend.

Dougy was so cute, though, pouting like a kitten each time I lifted him out of the box. After I folded the flaps in, he tried to open them up. It concerned me he might do claw damage to the printed materials, so I put the box up high, where I probably will forget it until the friend I did the printing for calls me up and asks, “Doug, did you get that material printed?”

Anyone who’s raised kids won’t feel sorry for me putting up with two nosy cats while I work, but I want all of you who have cats or live alone to sigh, now, and say, “Awww! Poor thing!”

e-mails and blogs

It took me from 7:00 AM till 2:52 to work through all the e-mails and blog update notices today.

Frankly, it exhausted me and I don’t feel much like writing my blog post for today.

I need to change how I handle my computer time. It never was my intention that this machine would become the post-retirement unpaid job it some days tends to be.

Cool cats.

Today, it is 92 degrees F (34 degrees C) outside, but all the kids are back in school, the life guards back in college, the pool drained. Tonight’s paper reported the local swimming pool closed for the season last weekend.

The cat brothers and I are OK with the weather since we have air conditioning if it gets too grim, though I turn it on only when the inside temperature hits the low 80s (27 and over, C). If family were here, I’d probably leave the air conditioning on, but I don’t need it so much as use it when things get too sweaty, when it approaches 100 (32).

I turn it on more for the boys’ comfort than mine. I guess Persian cats need a little air conditioning! They feel cool to the touch, though. Maybe they thermoregulate using that thick hair as insulation from the outside heat. I don’t know. They don’t pant or drink more water than usual, so must be comfortable.

I’ve noticed one thing about cats, though. They are able to find the warmest or the coolest place in a room, depending on the season.

In summer, at night, Andy sleeps by a fan in my bedroom. There’s an open window by the fan, too. Dougy chooses a spot on the floor in the bathroom, which is cool to the touch.

In winter, the boys sleep right where the heat from the radiant heaters is most toasty. Another happy spot is in the pet carriers, which have old towels in them, along with a little security from things that go bump in the dark.

Regardless of season, though, my boys are cool cats!

Nebraska: The World From Above

This is for those who think Nebraska is flat and featureless. It’s also to give me a break from writing anything new! Enjoy! If you ever plan to come through, take a little time to take in the sights (and sites) that make this a unexpectedly interesting place to live or visit.

Here are a couple of links for more information:

No good deed goes unpunished.

It’s an odd thing, that expression. It holds true often enough that I accept it as true.

Since you have a good mind, I won’t ask you to accept the veracity of that saying on my word for it. I intend to establish the fact of it with a tale of woe, my good deed that ran amok.

I gladly agreed to help a church friend make handouts for the annual stewardship drive. It is no huge deal, though it takes a chunk of time to print out hundreds of one-sided and double-sided print jobs, in color. I’ve helped out this way before since I have a decent printer that prints out those double-sided sheets at about 10 per minute or something like that. It’s fast for a home printer.

This morning, I pulled up the first file to print. It needed to be printed in color, one side, 125 copies. It printed out exactly how I wanted, so I set up the 125-count single-page print job. So I thought, or so I intended…!

My printer is older now, and sometimes locks up if you accidentally give it bogus instructions. In this instance, I accidentally failed to select a one-page print field. As far as the printer is concerned, if you don’t select a small section of the whole to print, going against all common sense (if you are human, not the product of a human) you’ve selected the whole spreadsheet to print out! Hundreds of sheets, blank. Thousands of sheets, blank. A lot, anyway.

Of course, I kept my head on straight, and the problem soon disappeared.

Of course, I kept my head on straight, and the problem soon disappeared.

“What’s the issue?” you ask since you are tech savvy, a genuine computer (and peripherals) whizz. Tell it to print out hundreds of blank pages equal to the size of the spreadsheet by forgetting to select a print field, and the little bugger will print out hundreds of blank sheets equal to the size of the spreadsheet! Any idiot knows you just pull up the printer menu and tell it NOT to continue printing the bogus job! Simple, eh!? Or turn it off, and the instruction disappears into the ether. Surely!

My printer has a surprise, though. It won’t interrupt the print, pause the print, end the print no matter what you do. Whine, scream, cuss, pull the power cord off, pour water on the electrical components, remove the ink cartridges, call the President of the US to stage a drone strike: NOTHING stops it!

I discovered a long time ago the only thing that does work in this instance with this printer is to uninstall the driver, reinstall the driver, pour sacrificial sheep blood over the ink cartridges, sell your children into slavery, and vote for Sarah Pallin for President in 2016. Man, you can hand-draw the print job before you WANT TO wallow in that punishment!

I decided to suck it up, just keep my head long enough to get the miserable thing working again.

I know I have a disc somewhere to take care of the reinstallation, but, of course, it’s the one I never find when I need it. I went online to the manufacturer’s help site. I went through the process, tried out the printer. Wow! Not only did it work, it did a bang up job finishing the 125-count single-page print job. Then it did just fine printing up a 75-count single-page print job. I thought I might even finish the whole print job at the rate it was going!

"Where did I put that sledge-hammer?"

“Where did I put that sledge-hammer?”

The next print job required colored paper. This 75-count double-page print job went well, too! “The curse of good deed doing is broken!” I thought, then the damn thing printed out one side of the job on one sheet of paper, and the second side on a second sheet. Static electricity is not our friend! Ask my Persian cats! I even fanned the paper multiple times, all sides before I put the stack in the paper bin.

My problem with the single side printed is this: I barely have enough colored paper to print the job as requested. I decided to leave this sleeping dog alone. As long as it was printing anything, I’d let it finish up on plain paper. Maybe that’d work for my friend, too. If not, reprinting the job wouldn’t be any problem now that I fixed the printer, I told myself.

Oops! Did I say that or just think it because the moment the thought hit the printer – WiFi feature I didn’t know it has?! – it ate the last sheet of the colored paper. I’ll spare you more detail other than to note the printer insists there still is a paper jam, something I can’t verify without a screwdriver or (preferably) a light sledge-hammer. I practically disassembled it to find the offending paper.

My printer is one of those four-in-one machines. Print, copy, fax, scan to your heart’s delight. Nice machine! I’ve had it four years and use it regularly and heavily. I checked my online bank statement, added in some funds I’ll see shortly, deducted a few outstanding bills, and decided I will retire my machine with honors. If someone can make it work, someone who doesn’t collect guns, rifles, bazookas, hand grenades, or other means of small-scale destruction, then he or she can have it. I won’t need it because I managed to squeeze a new four-in-one machine into the budget for the coming month.

I just don’t recommend that the new person use this machine to do good deeds because, as you know, no good deed goes unpunished!

tummy upset and mousies

Dougy had a little tummy upset this morning. I heard him “horking” and tried to get to him before…! Yuck!

My experience with cats and tummy upsets is they always, always gravitate toward carpet to puke. That’s exactly what Dougy did. I cleaned it up, tossed it. Dougy went back to doing cat things, apparently feeling better.

(I’ll keep an eye on him the rest of the day, however….)

Yesterday, I put on the right shoe of a pair I’d not worn for some time. My toes struck something, which I shook out of the shoe: One of the boys had cached a kitty toy in my shoe! It’s odd-looking. No idea what it’s supposed to be.

I showed the toy to Andy. He grabbed it with his mouth and ran. For the next several minutes, Andy ran with the toy, head up, ears back, and Dougy chased after him trying to capture the toy!

Here’s a video of the boys, a week short of three months old, playing with the famous mousie toy.

The last time I saw that specific behavior, the boys were weeks old, and the toy was a little mouse that was almost too big for their mouths. They looked so cute and “grown up” with the mousie in their mouths.

It kept them busy for long spells each day until one of the boys cached the mousie behind some things stored in a corner. That’s where I found the toy last week. This week, after amusing the boys for a few days, the toy is cached once again, to stay out of play until one of the boys or I stumble on it. Or it turns up in my shoe!


Dougy just stopped by the computer to stretch and greet me with a hearty >meow<. He feels better, and I feel better about him!

pet peeves

Some pets don’t lower blood pressure….

I started to write about blog peeves I harbor but writing about pet (“petty”) peeves is an indulgence. Instead of wallowing in the madness of pet peeves I have about other peoples’ blogs, I’ll tell you what I hope to do to make my blogs more reader friendly. I mean, I worry about your blood pressure!

1. I’ll break long blocks of text into paragraphs because more often than not there are points in all text blocks that break naturally into new paragraphs.

2. I’ll post once a day most times, though some topics (my recent five-parter on pain related to shingles) start out as one post but grow into something too long to contain in one post.

3. I’ll re-edit everything I write until I simplify text into something readable. I am notorious for needlessly complex, drawn out sentences. If I can’t read it out loud without stumbling or running out of breath, a sentence is too long or complex and needs a re-edit! For example, the last sentence.

4. If I don’t have anything to tell you or share with you on a given day, I won’t post anything. It sounds obvious, and it should be if I respect you and your time!

5. I’ll use re-blogs sparingly. This is a variation on Number 4.

6. Another vice I’ll try to contain is excessive use of parenthetical asides, especially inside a sentence. Most times, a re-edit of such sentences results in clarity and improved readability of the text. Let’s take a look at Number 2, above:

I will post once a day most times, though some topics (my recent five parter on pain related to shingles) start out as one post but grow into something too long to contain in one post.

Here’s a re-edit:

I’ll usually post once a day unless I write about a complex topic that needs multiple posts. A recent example, the five-parter on pain related to shingles, started out as one post. It grew into something too long for one post, so I broke it into parts.

7. I won’t blow off reader suggestions to improve content or readability of this blog.

8. I’ll try to avoid excessive use of favorite punctuation, especially the exclamation point! [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! – There! Oops. I have some work to do to get it out of my system for today.]

9. When all else fails, I’ll post a cute picture of Andy or Dougy. Better yet, I’ll post a video!

andy  as baby
=(^+^)=>>>>>>>This ain’t no kitten. It’s a “pet peeve”.<<<<<<<=(^+^)=

cloudy days

The sun barely came out a moment ago. Just enough to scramble my thoughts on cloudy days, which I like.


It will be hot today, but today will be shorter than yesterday. Soon, trees will color, and the frame of clouds in the sky will add to the drama.

stratocumulus clouds east of alliance

In the meantime, this is a season of thunderheads dominating the landscape. Scary. Stunningly beautiful. Big. Dangerous. Something to behold!

Hot Springs sd aug 29 2011_edited-1

These aren’t the soft clouds of June, a light mist in the air, but “scare-yer-pants-off-end-of-the-world” crash bangers!

wrath of god red_edited-1
Something like that.

Naw. More like this. “Scare-you-to-Jesus” clouds!


Don’t despair! After the storm comes the light. Look hard enough at a cloud, and you can see the bunny rabbit.