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And I am Telling You I'm Not Going

I understand that some Facebook users’ data (including mine) may have been accessed
by Cambridge Analytics through quizzes we take and used to attempt to influence us in
the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook is taking a huge amount of heat for this, culminating in Mark Zuckerberg’s two-day
appearance before Congress, who are presuming to pass judgement on something they clearly
do not comprehend. Even I, as old and out-of-touch as I am with advances in modern
technology, understand more about how the internet and social media platforms work than
some of these legislators.

I honestly don’t understand the extent of the outrage leveled at Facebook, given the level of
privacy it allows its users, who pay nothing to use the service.  You essentially need two pieces
of information to open a Facebook account - your name and an e-mail address. You can keep
your profile and accessibility of your information as private as you wish.  You can literally hand-
select who sees any individual post of…
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A Pittsburgher in Paris: Parlez-vous Francais?

As we prepared for our trip to Paris we heard all kinds of warnings about The French People.
The French have a reputation for being unfriendly and in some cases downright hostile, especially towards tiresome American tourists. Well, we couldn’t promise that we wouldn’t be tiresome tourists, but we certainly didn’t have to dress like tiresome tourists.  After reading up on the acceptable dress of the country, we headed to the airport armed with our dark clothing and colorful scarves, and left our Steeler shirts and flip-flops behind.  
As it turns out, when interaction was necessary the people of Paris were actually very friendly.  When it was not they left you alone. They don’t chat with strangers, share personal details of their lives or ask you questions about your life unless they’re a pickpocket or a tour guide.  I presume everyday Parisians don’t really care about strangers’ lives.  Unlike New Yorkers who walk down the street looking angry, Parisians walk down the street looking bo…

On This Day My Child Was Born

It was February 13th.  I was 8 ½ months pregnant and returning to work after my weekly gynecologist appointment.
My doctor said he thought I may come a little earlier than my February 28th due date.  That was okay with me. I had had enough of the whole pregnancy thing- the tremendous weight gain, the sharp pain in my abdomen they called “heartburn,” the inability to sit, stand or sleep comfortably.  I really did Ache All Over. I was more than ready to have my baby.

Snow was beginning to fall as I headed back to work, but I wasn’t worried.  The roads weren’t bad yet, and my workplace was just four miles from my house.  Nonetheless, I was pretty happy when I arrived at work safely, just in time for lunch.
When I stood up after lunch, I felt an unfamiliar sensation.  I realized with a shock that my water was beginning to break.  I calmly called the doctor’s office, and they advised me to return to the hospital immediately.  I wasn’t able to reach my husband, who was making deliveries for hi…

A Pittsburgher in Paris - Escape from Charles DeGaulle

Getting to Paris was kind of like pregnancy- you had to suffer for a while before realizing the ultimate reward you were seeking.  
First of all, we had to fly to get there.  We didn’t seriously consider the alternative of of a week-long cruise ship journey across the Atlantic, so a 7-hour direct flight from Pittsburgh it was.
Things started off pretty well.  We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, got through security, found our gate and settled in to wait to board the plane. And wait we would as we were main cabin section 3 passengers.  We would be the last to board.
While we waited the flight attendants kept making regular announcements asking for volunteers to check their baggage because there would not be enough room in the overhead compartments. Our baggage was already checked so we couldn't help them out.  At the end of their announcement, they always added, rather ominously, “If we do not get enough volunteers we will be checking baggage of section 3 passengers.  So if …

A Pittsburgher in Paris - Preparing for the Trip

This is the first of a series of blogs detailing my recent trip to Paris.  I got so much out of the trip, so I might as well get a few blogs out of it too!

So it finally happened - I made it out of the continental United States and Canada. Mr. Rip and I took our vacation in Paris this year.

Yes, I said Paris.  I couldn’t believe we were going there before we went, and I still am shocked to hear myself say it now, after spending a glorious week there.  

Was it wonderful?  Mais oui.  But first we had to get there. This was so much more complicated than the time we threw some stuff in the trunk and drove the two hours to vacation in Cleveland.
Getting ready was a study in crisis management - imagining the worst possible scenarios and preparing for them all.

First came the deciding to actually go through with it, despite the increased terrorist incidents throughout Europe.  Mr. Rip never wavered, but I did.  To humor me, he consulted with a friend who works for the State Department.  He report…

Walk This Way

Last year I was forced to get a new car and a new computer, because the old models were obsolete and no longer functioning.  Little did I know that neither my new car nor my new computer, which are exceptional in every other way, came equipped with a CD player.  CD’s are also obsolete, the salesmen explained to me.
“But, but, I listen to music and audiobooks on CD’s in my car,” I explained, trembling a little.  “But, but I have all these CDs, and no way to save them on my computer, because it no longer has a CD drive either.”   They told me I just had to use Bluetooth to listen to music or books.
Here we go again, I thought.  I’ve lived through vinyl records, 8-tracks (a trend I missed completely before it was over), cassette tapes, CD’s and now I have to figure out how to use Bluetooth.
Mostly it’s been okay.  I have stumbled my way through downloading music and books, and even borrowed them from the library.  There have been some missteps.  “Missing” audio books I thought I had succes…

Old Folks at the Gym

When I made the decision to go back to the gym, I looked up the fitness club where I used to have a membership.  This was mostly to see if the price of a membership had changed since I was there, but for kicks I thought I would look at the reviews online just to see what they said.
I liked this gym very much when I went there.  Great, knowledgeable trainers and you can set up sessions with them as part of your membership at no additional cost.  Reasonable membership fees. Open 24 hours. Conveniently located. A variety of classes and a pool, for those so inclined.  My biggest complaint was that the people there were so friendly and nice that sometimes you would have to wait for a machine while they sat on one of them chatting with someone.  Not exactly a deal breaker.
To say the least, I was surprised when several of the younger reviewers took a few points off their otherwise stellar reviews because there were so many old people at the gym, especially in the mornings.  REALLY???  
I have…