what i'm reading


I have a horror of landing someplace without a book or streaming device or a way to write — a way to distract myself with a story. The more tired I am the simpler the distraction must be: an Instagram feed works well. Embarking on a 20-hour trip to Shanghai, I have 3 physical books, 5 novels on 3 platforms (Hoopla, iBooks, Scribd) and episodes downloaded to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Good to go.

technology the complaint department

10 Things I Hate About You (Spellcheck)

Oh Spellcheck and your even pushier cousin Autocorrect. You two are bullies, replacing your words with mine. Spellcheck, you unhelpfully underline words with that jaggedy (oh I guess you think jaggedy isn’t a real thing when it’s totally understood by absolutely everyone) red squiggle. So judgy (also not a word, per you) and wrong-headed—I did not mean “jigged” or “judger.” Autocorrect, you just straight up make changes and if I don’t reread what I’ve written, I’ll have to send one of those *corrections, which are annoying to me and the recipient (green underline here, why?). Eight additional bad things about you two:

  • That bad-grammar jaggedy (sigh) line doesn’t help at all, forcing me to try “that” and then “which” and then commas inserted all over the place and when none of that works, recasting my sentence entirely.
  • Can you be a better guesser when it comes to your suggestions? “Reowned” is not at all what I meant when I misspelled “reknowned.” And now I’m going to have to go with “esteemed” not because it’s a better word but because I know how to spell it.
  • How do you spell reknowned (as in “world reknowned” bass fisherman?) Not one of my things, I just want to know this.
  • Sometimes I use French words, not because I’m pretentious but because…I don’t have to explain myself to you, just be OK with it, OK?
  • Sometimes writers like a two-word sentence. To emphasize. To focus the reader. We do not want them underlined.
  • I don’t like alt spellings for common names (Hey, D’iane) anymore than you do, but it seems really judgy to call them out as wrong.
  • Hah! In that last one, I misused the word “anymore” (s/b any more) and you didn’t catch it!
  • Go away, both of you.
the complaint department writing

did you ever …

not blog for so long that they change the interface up on you — and you can’t figure out how to do it, even when you have something really interesting to say?

dementia good death

Dementia speaks

Proud Mary

Here’s are some of the things Mary, my mother-in-law, said to me while I sat beside her in the rehab center:

I think I’m going to have a feel a big feel

Would it be wrong if I just walked out

OK but don’t get in the garbage

No he’s not at all .. 

Every time I see one dressed as a Bar… I can’t believe it

Do you want me to tell you about Capelina?

Would you like to take this one?

She is churching, Marjean, churching

Her bossy, Proud Mary (as I’ve always thought of her) manner of speaking is the same: full-throated, declarative, emphatic. And the sentences start off as something you want to listen to. But then they quickly lose their meaning. Is she searching for words she can’t find? Does she finish the thoughts in her head? Does she imagine she is speaking to someone else, someone who is actually conversing back, which would explain the pauses, the redirection, the listening-look she has on her face.

He has the cobell

He has the coball

What are you saying

That won’t work

He’s always last

O.K., don’t worry about it

I rarely ever see him

Do you have everything, anything

It’s the hideon. He’s the hideon

What else to say about Proud Mary? Never remarried after a mid-life divorce, Mary sold used cars, holding her own against an all-male sales crew. She had that deep, loud voice; a full-bodied figure, at once mannish and womanly; fiery red hair. She was an at-home mom who could have been a professional actress but settled for grabbing all the good roles in Milwaukee’s community theater productions. She could be sharply critical; was quick to anger. She mixed margaritas, disco-danced at parties. “Susie Homemaker, she was not,” my husband, who had a complicated relationship with her, says.

The thing is, Mary’s still alive. Somewhere within her wasted body mind and dementia-fogged brain, Proud Mary’s still in there. But, oh the indignities she suffers! Oh the (to me) horrors of her memory care unit at the assisted-living facility! I say “to me” because it’s unclear whether she feels anything (frustration? embarrassment?) when the nurse’s aid changes her adult diaper or spoons pudding into her mouth. And now I’m back to thoughts on end-of-life and good death, more of which is here.

technology the complaint department

automatic things that are not at all helpful

The iphone’s autocorrect functionality (famously)

Self-scanning at the grocery store (makes me want to steal stuff)

Google’s autopopulating search field (so much criminal intent/content)

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addictions technology what i'm reading

the always available elsewhere

“When you sense that a lull in the conversation is coming, you can shift your attention from the people in the room to the world you can find on your phone…You can put your attention wherever you want it to be. You can always be heard. You never have to be bored,” From the NY Times article, “Stop Googling, Let’s Talk.”

We see families at restaurants or even — if we’re honest —in our own living rooms lost to their own devices. In each others’ company but communing with others: texting, posting, Instagarmming. The Times laments the rising generation and its inability to converse. But it’s just as prevalent among my generation and in the company of my own husband. He needs to know something that, in his mind, will add to the conversation, bringing up a relevant fact or YouTube clip. But it’s distracting and even the kids hate it: “Stop Googling,” they say.


Cyberspace is littered with…

Abandoned blogs, unused twitter accounts (@dianedico, for one), once-loved-now-reviled myspace pages, aol accounts that got replaced with hotmail accounts that got replaced with gmail accounts. And that’s not even counting the Facebook pages established for people who either got a real life or died.