Coping: With Incomprehensible Notes

I know what’s wrong with America now:  We don’t make useful notes.

A short story to illustrate the point.

As promised, I baked bread Saturday.  While it was on the wire rack cooling, Elaine and I stepped into the “180-room.”  That’s our room, made out of mostly recycled windows, where we can see at least 180-degrees of view.  Maybe I had a cold adult beverage, too.  It was hot in the kitchen baking the bread, after all.  Break-time for “cheffy.”

(Continues below)


While we were reviewing one thing and another,  Elaine came up with a damn-fine idea for an article.

“Hold that thought, darling.  I’ll just grab a piece of paper and write it down as a topic in the Coping section…”

Fast-forward 24-hours.  Now, I look at the note:

I have no idea on earth what it means.  I do remember thinking “Great topic.  I will just tear a sheet of paper out of Ure printer and write it down…”  But, as the scrawls reveal, the pen didn’t work.

The damn pens NEVER work when you need them for something important.

Off to Elaine’s desk and back with a fresh pen.  Which is why the scribble.  I even remember looking at the note “Oh, I can remember the THAT easy…

Except Sunday morning it was gone.  Just some Sanskrit.

Elaine had no idea, either.  Shot of OJ, a morning stack of vitamins, coffee, coconut oil and fish oil…and 20-minutes later?  Still nothing.

Except for the obligatory spousal “This is Ure hare-brain deal, not mine…” look.

So, Our first point of the week?

Especially if you have had an adult beverage, remember to make notes that will make sense the next day.  I flunked this one.  Badly.  Wasn’t even buzzed.  Just not fully present.

Looking back, I’m sure that’s what separates us from the Warren Buffetts of the world.  They probably take good notes.  Even after 8-hours of work and 4-hours of baking on my first glass of Italian vitamins, this should have been cake.

Life ReviewI should have saved, oh, maybe 50 cocktail napkins in my life.  I could be rich, have my Nobel Prize by now, and been on the front cover of People at least twice….who knows?  But I take notes that only make sense until the pen’s put down.

Then?  POOF!

Woefully deficient note-taking is one of my few downfalls.

America would not need to be “made great again” if cocktail napkins only accepted whole words and complete thoughts.  Or, if I’d thought to use the “Alexa take a note” command.

It’s all so horribly obvious on Mondays.

Spare Time This Morning?

We might as well be on a different planet.  Time moving from “daylight” to “unleaded” (God’s time) leaves us with extra time to waste before wasting it at work.

Some ideas how?  Sure, since you asked…

  1. Take a new way to work.
  2. Stop and eat a nice breakfast out at a place you’ve never been before.
  3. Play with the dog or cat.
  4. Try training goldfish.
  5. Sit on the throne and read something.  If your legs go to sleep, find shorter articles.
  6. Work out.  (*This will circle back to #4 with enough treadmill time.)
  7. Post a learned comment to a website.
  8. Clean the coffee pot before work, not after.
  9. Run a load of laundry.
  10. Learn to iron.
  11. Ask Alexa to read to you.  Ask Siri  — if you’re an Apple- or two -a-day type.
  12. Make breakfast in bed for your partner.  (Elaine won’t let me since I try to bring the camp stove and toaster to bed…)
  13. Vacuum.  Monday sucks, right?
  14. Make plans to have lunch with a friend or spousal unit.
  15. Trim your nose and ear hairs.
  16. Sweep the front walk.
  17. Cut your nails and buff them.
  18. Polish your shoes.  This is fun with running shoes, in particular.
  19. Take the garbage out.
  20. Check your tire pressures on the way to work.  You know the formula for tire pressure and hydroplaning, right?

21.  Write a Winter Driving Tip

I wasn’t just a-kidding about the tire pressure and hydroplaning. All pilots know this stuff, but since an hour won’t get you soloed, let’s get in one useful lesson that will increase your odds of what?  (“UrbanSurvival!!!”)

As the FAA explains in one of its publications:

” Data obtained during hydroplaning tests have shown the minimum dynamic hydroplaning speed (VP) of a tire to be 8.6 times the square root of the tire pressure in pounds per square inch (PSI). For an airplane with a main tire pressure of 24 pounds, the calculated hydroplaning speed would be approximately 42 knots. “

Since I will send a “winter safety bulletin” to my kids about this, let’s see what the difference is between 28 Lbs. and 34 Lbs. of tire pressure:

At 28 Lbs. we get 5.29 X 8.6 = 45.5 knots..

Since you could have learned the conversion from knots to MPH (knots X 1.151= MPH close enough) with all the spare time this morning, it means 52.37 MPH is a fair guess at hydroplaning speed with 28 Lbs. of pressure.

However, 34 Lbs. means 5.831 X 8.6 or 50.14 knots which pencils to 57.72 MPH.

Now, this may not seem like a lot of difference, but let’s say you are driving down the road at 57 MPH and the bozo in front nails his/her/it/thems/whatevers’s brakes.

Since you are slightly under hydroplaning speed, you shouldn’t smack into his back bumper.  But brace, because if the person behind you doesn’t have their tires adjusted to winter/wet driving, you might get whiplash.

Bad news?

Oh, no!  Not really.  Cops will generally cite the person hitting the back-end for following too close.

Three ways to avoid this?

  1. Become a drug dealer so you don’t get stuck in traffic.  There is an upside to irregular hours.
  2. Install a small GE or Rolls jet engine on the roof and keep it spooled  up.  Then car-pool with a flight-engineer and have them ready to hit thrust reversers.  This will insure a rear-ender and a big insurance settlement if you survive the fire.
  3. Get old quick and retire.  Then you won’t have to travel, except under ideal conditions.  Exception:  Blizzard Bingo tournaments.  But, some things can’t be helped.

Or, become a writer…

How Much Bread?

Hardly any in writing anymore.  But, Saturday bread-making was perfect.  Nice, crunchy crust, but not quite light enough for me.

Elaine loved it though – and honestly it was about the texture of the “salt rising bread” I remember from the first half of the last century.

Next time, I will let it rise longer.  But you know how impatience works?  Well, I don’t have time to tell you…

Write when you get rich,

36 thoughts on “Coping: With Incomprehensible Notes”

  1. Regarding your scribbled note: “Pet: Friend or Druid?” Hmm….well, it does seem like an interesting topic….

  2. George
    I blame my poor note taking to the fact that taking notes in collage classes killed my penmanship. Trying to get that info from the Prof before he erases it meant that you wrote it down at warp speed and damm the spelling!

    I admire and envey the penmanship of the Founding Fathers. They wrote our founding documents on parchment in beautiful script without any spelling errors.

    • Haven’t been in a lecture hall recently, but I wonder if in some cases the camera phone is replacing the frantically scribbled class notes from white boards. For oral lectures, many students seem to rely on instantaneous transcription into their laptops; into the ear and out through the fingertips, bypassing the thought centers of the brain. Studies have shown such notes provide little in the way of engagement. Students who take notes the old-fashioned way (pen on paper) are more likely to remember the context of the lecture in regards to the material being covered, be able to stratify its importance, and apply it in a test situation. (I learned to take notes at a break-neck pace as part of my varsity debate training. Now that cursive has been allowed to fall out of favor, I wonder how those notes are managed.)

      Official documents, such as the Declaration and the Constitution, were often handed off to professional copyists, whose jobs were to provide those beautiful, finished works. But yes, by and large, our Founding Fathers had much better hand writing than we have today. Other than oration, it was how they communicated to the masses, so they had a vested interest in being legible. I cringe when I see “news articles” comprised largely of copies of dashed-off Twitter posts, full of abbreviations and contractions, and other documents that have been neither spell-checked nor copy edited. I know language is an ever-evolving tool, but I don’t see this as a move in a beneficial direction.

  3. As I got older (now 73) I found it effective to carry one of those small, cheap reporter’s flippy-page notebooks in my shirt pocket at all times. I also keep a Parker T-Ball Jotter (or is it a Scripto?) because since it’s always kept in a vertical position, and warmed by body heat, it is as reliable as a Kimber semi-auto. Literally never fails. I have a page for “BUY,” one for “DO,” one for “MISC,” and one for “BRIGHT IDEAS.” As the pages get filled, just start a new one. I have always had a crummy memory, but this helps a lot.

  4. —Pocket notebook additional:

    I listen to my TECSUN PL-660 overnight, by the bed, with a marriage-saving pillow speaker from CCrane. I keep the shirt-pocket notebook on the nightstand as well. I got tired of not remembering Kool Stuff that I heard about — like websites — and now, I just note them down in the wee hours.

    I listen to mostly AM DX — Cincinatti, Philly, WASHDC, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Nuevo Yorko, and many others.

  5. I have a particular problem with waking up ‘in the middle of sleeping’ with a great idea (or at least just a thought), writing it down and either not knowing later what I meant or can’t read it.

  6. Well I broke down last week and bought me one of those $137 refurbished computers with the window 10 on it.
    I have to say I was amazed I really like the sticky note.
    So after Plastering the whole screen with full-length sticky notes and I was wondering while if I could just take that with me on my cell phone when I go shopping.
    So what I did was take a picture of it.
    Then as I was carrying the cell phone around I came up with other ideas on some of the sticky note list and what I did was I just edited the picture with labels.
    After I save the picture with labels it actually made a second picture from the original so it’s save the original and it made a second one with the labels put on it so for the next hour or two I thought of more ideas and just kept adding more labels on the picture that had a label before and it keep adding pictures to your phone.
    And because the computer screen had about four to five long sticky notes plastered across the screen I took one photo of that so each time that I want to add something to a list I can go back to the original picture or I can go back to any of the other pictures that has labels on them on the cell phone pics.and add more labels around a core idea. Or just change ideas in mid course and it is all saved.

    • Anyway this procedure that I’m using has saved me hundreds of dollars already because of the reorganization of ideas and consolidating the ideas into one idea which enables me not to have spend money on all these different separate ideas when I can put all the ideas into 1 idea and I did. Get the idea, lol.

      • So you lost the pre-computer skill of writing a shopping list?

        Perhaps a writing class would help your communication skills, no matter how many ‘digital posts’ you make, the ‘point’ or ‘idea’ that really comes across is a scatter brained and rude person who likes to post lengthy non-sensical diatribes.

      • See if any of these jog elaines or your brain .
        the idea is a picture that reminds also which lacks of money due to scarity.
        To run out out of steps of O.E. suddenly ask Eric T to run out of steps of the original equipment suddenly and it’s kind of a medic

      • Thanks over digitalize for responding at least I’m thankful that I will be remembered for who I was and you’re one of the few lucky people in the world to remember that. How’s the east coast doing

  7. “Ask Alexa to read to you. Ask Siri ”

    The curiosity is absolutely driving me more eccentric than I already am.
    But I have always wanted to know..
    Have you ever tried to get. Alexa and Siris to debate an issue. You know pick one that can have two or more right answers..
    Then see how far they will go…

  8. I sometimes get inspired in the middle of the night and don’t want to turn on a light to write. So, I bought one of those dandy little USB stick voice recorders. It is simple enough to use when drowsy and gives really clear playback. Carry one on your keychain or in your pocket. Great little gadget.

  9. As an engineer, I’d have thought you’d be printing everything! Perhaps your right brain and writing has got the better of you. Most engineers print in block letters for everything(I do). Even the worst scribble is decipherable with effort, but cursive is cursed to never be read again.

    • Maybe the intent was to be block letters as you say but were under such an influence of sleepiness that those blocks become cursor automatically so understanding that what we would do is Tri each letter of the alphabet with a certain State of Mind and that will give us a decipher ation

  10. iPhones have a voice memo app built in. I assume android phones do too. One less gadget to tote around.

    I am beginning to see the future of personal tech differently, after clearing out an historic 19 room building, in the family for 80 years. Ledgers, paper punches, typewriters, carbon paper, dictaphones, phonograph records, envelopes, notary stamps, telephones, TV sets with tubes, portable fax machines with curly paper, weighing only 25 pounds in their cases, thousands of law books, some never opened, thousands of old client files, not digitized, reams of stationery with a soon to be obsolete address or sender, an assortment of typewriters dating back to the early 20th century, with ribbons and spares, office desks weighing hundreds of pounds, dozens of tubs full of photographs, clippings, letters, negatives, and souvenirs, old tools, etc. The collected treasures of four or five generations.

    One takeaway is that a smartphone and a computer can replace, by weight and volume, far more than 90% of this stuff, and the very location of this building, which has been a mansion, hotel and office, over a century, is now best suited as an event center at the heart of an historical district. My new office in the woods 100 yards from my house, is far nicer, and requires 50 pounds of equipment, including the big screen monitor/tv. The antique furniture outweighs everything except filing cabinets. I am toying with the idea of digitizing those as well, but have more pressing projects.

    We literally are approaching the point where being semi nomadic is an option available to most. I can do 98% of my work with a laptop and cellphone, if there is a cellular signal. The container holding my notary public gear has the same volume as my laptop and phone. I can store all new documents, books, records, etc on a private network server, backed up in many ways and places.

    The compression of technology has been astounding and is accelerating. As Bucky predicted, using Mind, we progressively do more with less and cheaper materials and energy.

    Old guys like me ought to take a breath and consider what paradigms that reality is changing.

    • Most all those items will deteriorate and crystals which are computers if not very deep into a protective barrier will knothole the remains of what was put on there. And as mankind has recognized that the electronic age is not the most secure that brings us up to another point which is the Stone Age where they rip things in stone and they placed the stone in the area that wasn’t weathered by rain when hell and other infractions coming in through the atmosphere.
      Thank goodness thank whoever you want but thank goodness information regarding the establishment of the universe has been kept and stored on computer but mainly crystals that have to be protected from outer space business

  11. You simply ask Alexa or Siri to take a note. Welcome to the 21st century. Apple created Siri and both Notes and Reminders for exactly this purpose.

    I told my friend that we dictate our shopping list into our phone to eliminate the paper, which we forget or lose half the time. He promptly whipped out his phone and showed me the picture he took of his shopping list.

    When you pick up a smartphone, you have all the information in the world right there in your hand, if you know how to use it.

    If you were an employer and had a complex piece of machinery, you would make damn sure a new employee was trained before he was allowed to use it. The same goes for smart devices. How many of you have even perused everything on the device to see what it can do, looked at the section headings in an online manual, or even watched a video. It’s unfortunate that they got labeled as phones. The latest iPhone has more computing power than the first Cray supercomputer. There are millions of applications in the App Store, and there is at least one that will improve the quality of your life. If you have serious health issues, there may be one that could save your life.

    As I used to say about computers, some people look at the screen and see letters and numbers and pictures. Others look at the screen and see infinity.

    • Where was Zeus when this conversation was taking place? Perhaps you and Elaine were contemplating an Alexa-style app that could be utilized by pets.

      Unless, of course, you are once again messing with us by posting something nonsensical in order to get us to embroider the canvas with potential content for you.

  12. Note on bread:
    More water/liquid=lighter
    Less water/liquid=heavier
    Too much liquid=good rise but collapse @ baking
    Not enough liquid=small, heavy loaf

    Salt regulates yeast.
    More salt for french bread with multiple punch down long rising time.
    Less salt for pizza dough & other single rise rolls, breads, etc.
    Adjust salt to get more or less bubbly texture.

    Personally, I prefer to dump the ingredients in a bread machine. A square french bread is fine with me.

    • I had hoped making bread in a bread machine would produce foolproof results, but, alas, it appears I’m the fool. I’ve yet to produce a loaf with a decent flavor, despite using different flours and recipes.

      It seemed so easy when I was a kid. Of course, we did it all by hand then, so that’s the next obvious step.

  13. Re:the note “Pet, friend or druid”.

    The subject, I strongly suspect, is your Alexa gadget and it’s place in your life.

    I highly recommend Fisher Space pens and Rite-in-the-rain notebooks. Works every time, everywhere.

  14. Further to your observation that there is less bread in writing than once upon a time, I wonder if a growing, more than we realize, proportion of reading material in the marketplace is bot excreted. Perhaps it’s time for labelling that would identify content as human-crafted for a single storyline.

  15. Someone else remembers salt rising bread! The toast from that kind of bread was the best. You need unpasteurized milk to make it though, and that is hard to come by. What a nice memory.

  16. As a wee one growing up in the 50’s Grandma would trek to a bakery in a neighboring town to buy a couple loaves of salt rising bread for Sunday breakfasts. When I was in a college biology class I remember a professor discussing the process Clostridium perfringens that was the same as that of making salt rising bread. A quick google search leads to;

    Read the second paragraph and you will lose any and all interest in the subject of salt rising bread and try not to hurl.

    Jim AD0YQ

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