Organize? But Why? It’s Hard!

I am by no means a computer genius, but over the years of using them, I have learned quite a few things that others seem to have missed (or not discovered yet).  One of them is the need to organize your files.

A girl I work with tends to leave all her emails in her Inbox, and then searches through the growing list whenever she wants to find something.  When she saves something to her computer, she dumps all the files in a single folder (e.g. My Documents).

Admittedly, that gets the job done, at the most basic level.  But, if you keep more than 50 emails in your Inbox and more than 50 files on your computer, it gets unwieldy very quickly.

In “the old days”, you were limited by how long a file name could be.  It could only be 6 (or 8, I forget which) characters.  Not very many to give something a meaningful name that readily identifies it.  “ltrJoe” tells me it’s a letter to Joe, but when was it written?  What if I know more than one Joe – which one is it?  I quickly learned that you could use the 3 characters after the period to give a little more info, such as:  ltrJoe.Smi   Now I know it is probably a letter to my friend Joe Smith.

However, since then, they made document extensions pertinent.  Word expects to see .doc or .docx files.  It’s how it recognizes them.  Same with .jpg, .pdg, .xlsx, etc.  So that took away the extension as an option, but they did increase the number of characters that could be used in the file name itself, and that is of great benefit.  Now, I can name things like: 


                              I know it was a letter to Joe Smith written on 14 Nov 2017 (Though you do need to be careful that there is no confusion on the year if you often use multiple centuries; in the above you can’t tell if it was 1817, 1917 or 2017.  Sometimes that matters.)

And by how I arrange the name, I can force things to group together.  If I have multiple letters to Joe Smith, the above naming convention will make them sort alphabetically together:




Occasionally, I will want a certain file to sort at the very top of the alphabetical list.  For Microsoft files, they sort:  folders (if any), then numbers, then letters.  So you might see:

               Genealogy  (folder)

               WordPress  (folder)

               Writing  (folder)

               2006 tax return.pdf

               2014 tax return.pdf

               anniversary dates.doc

               covered bridges.doc

               inventory of supplies.xls

               writing_dictionary locations.doc

But what if I often use the file ‘writing_dictionary locations.doc’ and want it to sort to the top of the list so it is easily found?  In those cases, I can put a zero in front of it, to force it to sort first in the above list (of files, not folders).  So you might see:

               Genealogy  (folder)

               WordPress  (folder)

               Writing  (folder)

               0writing_dictionary locations.doc

               2006 tax return.pdf

               2014 tax return.pdf

               anniversary dates.doc

               covered bridges.doc

               inventory of supplies.xls

That also works for the names of folders.  If I wanted the WordPress folder to always sort at the top, I could rename it, thus:

               0WordPress  (folder)

               Genealogy  (folder)

               Writing  (folder)

I can rename as often as I want, so if I no longer want the WordPress folder at the top, I can simply rename it without the 0 in front.  (I can also use X in front to force things to sort to the bottom, if I want.)

And, yes, it is important to set up folders so as to group certain information (both on your computer and in your email program).  If I want to find something to do with my Genealogy, I don’t need to look in those other folders for it.  And I don’t need to have the computer Search for it in those other folders if I don’t remember what I called it.

These things will reduce the clutter and narrow down finding what you are looking for in your files.  You can also create subfolders.  Suppose I wanted to further group information in my Genealogy folder.  I might have something like this:

               Genealogy  (folder)

                              Genealogy Articles  (folder)

                              Jones surname  (folder)

                              Online Search Resources  (folder)

                              Smith surname  (folder)

                              Wilson surname  (folder)

I know taking time to organize your files (whether in your computer, in your email, or even just paper on your desk) is time-consuming and not much fun.  But once it is done, it makes things so much easier and less frustrating.  I know in my genealogy, before I got good at this organizing thing, I often did the same research more than once.  I couldn’t find it so I figured I didn’t have it.  Then later I found I had two or more copies of the same thing.

Save yourself some long-term grief, start organizing now.  The sooner the better.


Eyes Front, Please

When I was in school, after every test there was that group of people who wanted to sit around and analyze every question and how they had answered – trying to decide if they had gotten it right or not.  I wasn’t one of those people.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care about my grades, but rather that I knew that test was ‘done’.  Nothing I did at that point was going to change my answer or change that it was right or wrong.  When I got the test back, then I could review any incorrect answers and try to determine what I didn’t understand.  Sure, a bad test grade would affect my overall class grade, but I still couldn’t change the fact that was the grade I had gotten on the test.  All I could do at that point, was try to do any extra-credit work that might raise my grade, study harder or seek help if I was struggling to understand a concept so I passed subsequent tests, and make sure my work was as good as possible.

Let’s face it, after you’ve driven off the cliff, it’s too late to decide that maybe you should have heeded the speed limit signs and slowed down on that winding road.

Don’t waste time agonizing over things in your past that you can’t change.  Focus on now and the future and make whatever changes necessary so that you don’t make the same mistakes again.  Too much time looking back is when you tend to run into something unseen ahead.  The past is a learning tool, but it shouldn’t be a deadweight.

Grow, learn, move forward.

Seriously, people?

I’ve mentioned that I’m not keen on swearing, particularly when it involves the use of a certain word beginning with F.  I find it objectionable and offensive.  And since swearing is usually used for emphasis or to express extreme anger, over-frequent use renders these words irrelevant to any purpose.

That said, how is it that adults, including government officials who were elected to serve the people, can do nothing but focus on idiotic details like that and completely ignore the larger message.

Frankly, every adult in America is being put to shame by these kids fighting for stronger gun control.  They’re KIDS.  They’re in school.  They shouldn’t have to be doing this because it is our responsibility as adults to be doing it.  Instead, a significant portion of the population of the U.S., including its ‘President’ do nothing but hem, haw, sit on their hands and criticize these kids for every little thing.

It isn’t kids posting photoshopped images to discredit these gun control advocates, it’s adults.  Adults with a vested interest in changing nothing and reaping the monetary benefit thereof.

I’ve long been patriotic.  I’ve long supported our military.  I have no problem with responsible gun ownership.  I’ve even long been a Republican.  But now I am embarrassed, even ashamed, to call myself an American when I see what we have become.

No, it isn’t all adults failing to act, it isn’t all gun owners who are willing to protect gun rights above everything else, and it isn’t all Republicans or politicians who are blind and deaf to an epidemic issue in our country.  This isn’t just happening in schools, folks.  It happens in workplaces, malls, movie theatres or even just on the street.  If you’re sitting there thinking that this problem belongs to the kids, you’re wrong.  It may be you while you attend a concert in Las Vegas.  It may be you while you are driving your car down the road.  Do nothing, and it may very well be you the next time.  And there WILL be a next time again and again unless we do something.

Choosing to attack the messenger because you have no valid argument against the message itself only reflects poorly on you.

I’m Free!

Okay, only for a week, but still…  The hardest part about stay-cations, though, is not feeling like you must be productive.  It’s ‘vacation’ – I get to read, or write, or watch movies or do fun stuff.  If I was actually somewhere else other than home, I wouldn’t be thinking that I should do laundry, or clean the bathtub or any of the other mundane day-to-day tasks that we each have.  I’m allowed to have fun.  Whee!

Sure, I’ll probably still do some of the mundane – I doubt I can help myself in that regard – but I do intend to simply ‘enjoy’ this time also.

Here’s wishing all of you a little enjoyable breathing room as well in the near future.

Now excuse me, but I’m off to cook corned beef and cabbage.  After all, it is St. Patrick’s Day…

Unblock the Blocks

Blogger Hannah Heath has begun doing YouTube videos also.  In a recent one (Oct 2017), someone asked her about “writer’s block”.  She replied that she didn’t believe in it, and went on to explain that too often writers use that excuse for not writing.  In the normal work-a-day world, most of us have paying jobs.  We don’t have the leisure to simply say, “I have CPA block”, or “I have brain surgeon block”, or “I have auto mechanic block”.  We have to show up to work and do the best we can anyway.  Allowing ourselves to ‘enjoy’ the leisure of writer’s block frees us from the responsibility of dealing with it.  Accountants do accounting and writers do writing.

Her point is interesting, and well made.  Writer’s block does conveniently allow us to stop writing for a while, and it sounds so creative and grandiose in the bargain.  But as Hannah points out, instead we need to examine what our ‘block’ actually is, and then actively do something toward removing it, or getting around it.

Are we lacking inspiration?  If so, are we doing anything to gain inspiration?  Research?  Writing out every possible idea we can come up with to see if something workable presents itself?

Are we just burned out on writing and need a break?  If so, are we setting aside a fixed amount of time to take that break, with a firm deadline of when to come back to it?  This would be the equivalent of scheduling your vacation in the regular working world.  At the end of the vacation period you DO have to return to work, whether you ‘want’ to or not.

If you can point to something more concrete than ‘block’, then you have a better chance of overcoming it.  If I tell you “the road is blocked”, you have no idea how to respond.  Is the road flooded, but in time the water will drain and it will again be passable?  Was the road washed away entirely in the flood and no passage will be possible until the road is rebuilt?  Is a tree down and blocking the road, and a chainsaw could quickly remedy the situation?

Finding the source of the block lets you make a plan for dealing with the delay or setback.  It’s difficult to fight against the unknown.

Name your problem, then work to resolve it.

It’s That Time of Year Again

No, not spring – that’s still a little ways off, and spring cleaning with it.  I’m not referring to the Winter Olympics either.  No, I’m looking at you Valentine’s Day.

Sadly, as with many other holidays, this has become a commercial nightmare, but I get the impression that in this case most people are willing to buy into it.  I see ads for things that are probably on her ‘list’, and there are numerous jokes about what happens should some hapless guy NOT get a gift that is big enough or expensive enough to suit the girl’s expectations.  Now, there might be instances of role reversal where the girl falls short of the guy’s expectations, but really retail America is all about the guy delivering and delivering handsomely to ‘show’ his love.

I admit, I have no significant other.  Should I blame the fact that I just don’t see how big, expensive gifts ‘prove’ anything, other than the willingness to spend money which you may or may not have?  I’m afraid if that’s the case, I will continue to be single and ‘unpaired’.  I can think of many ways for a guy or anyone else to show their love for me, but throwing money around isn’t on the list.  Sure, gifts are nice, but being able to buy something expensive just isn’t a major sign of love in my book.  How many wildly wealthy people do we see every day who are incapable of sustaining a lasting relationship?  The money and ‘big expensive presents’ didn’t salvage those.

So, what’s the point of this blog post?  I don’t know, maybe just to encourage lovers to re-evaluate what constitutes showing love.  Stop expecting, even demanding, a lot of money be spent every Feb. 14 or the relationship suffers.  Look for more worthwhile things:  thoughtful gestures/actions, a single flower in the middle of July for no particular reason other than they were thinking of you, treating you with respect, honesty, concern for your well-being.

And it goes both ways.  The burden shouldn’t be entirely on the male to ‘show’ their love; women should be doing it also.  If you can’t think of anything at all to give him, then maybe you seriously need to get to know him better.  There are bound to be things he would appreciate your doing without his having to ask.  If he really loves to watch football games on tv, then maybe prepare a lot of goodies, let him invite his friends over and stay out of the way while they enjoy their guy stuff.  Maybe even have him prepare a shopping list and buy his groceries for him while the game is on, just because you know he hates going to the store.

Yes, romance, flowers and even sex might be included in your Valentine’s Day celebration, but if that is the only thing you can think of as a way to show your love, maybe it isn’t love.  Maybe it’s just lust.  True love involves a great deal more than time in bed.  And true love adds beauty to everything else.  I may not have it, but I recognize it.

Lesson for Today

Guess what!  There is more than one word in the dictionary that begins with F.  Sadly, most of humanity only seems to know that one word, and uses it when expressing anything and everything.

It’s time people learn to use some of those other words in sentences.

Why Bother?

I pass a billboard every morning on the way to work advertising a tv show called The Resident.  It has the tag line “Can one doctor save a broken system?”.  In the picture, we have:

1)  Latin male

2)  white female

3)  black female

4)  older white guy

5)  young handsome white guy

So, let’s guess which of them is the doctor that is trying to save the broken system!  Well, when they don’t have enough room, some of the ad pictures omit the black female, so I guess we can rule her out.  But the others…oooooo, who could it be?????

Give up?

It’s…ta da, the young handsome white guy!

Wow, didn’t see that coming, did you!  (Yes, dear hearts, that is sarcasm.  Lots and lots of sarcasm.)

And this is why we need more writers who are creative and diverse.  I look at that and have no reason to think I should watch, as there is unlikely to be anything said or done that I haven’t seen (frequently) before.  Why would I bother?  What reason have you given me to think you have brought anything new to the table when you are so clearly writing cliché?

I have nothing against young, handsome, white guys – I rather like them.  Even so, they aren’t the only ‘heroes’ in the world.  Others can just as seamlessly carry a story.  Witness recent movies like Rogue One (female, latino, muslim, asian all in one package), The Last Jedi gives us Finn (black, among others – haven’t seen it yet) and in a very nice touch, a movie of several years ago that I’ve mentioned before called Penelope (which had Peter Dinklage as a reporter and his size was completely irrelevant to the story).

If everyone in your story is all one color, you must live in a very colorless world.  People will go to great lengths to create aliens that look and sound different, but will not write people like that.

Let’s get more creative!