Thursday, January 29, 2009

Living the "Fully Alive" Life

Do you know what a 6-pack of Diet Coke looks like in the back seat of your car in -35 degree weather? That’d be 35 degrees BELOW zero. If you guessed that the cans would be imploded with hundreds of little Coke-colored icicles clinging to the ceiling of the car and other surfaces, you’ve either seen this similar phenomenon or are just a good guesser. Some years ago I’d been visiting friends in Vermont at their ski house and, sleeping soundly in a cozy featherbed with a down comforter, I had no idea the temperature had plunged that low. True, it had been negligent of me to leave the Diet Coke in the car in the winter time. But I had a long drive ahead of me in the morning and this beverage has always been something which helps me stay alert at the wheel if I’m driving for a few hours at a time.
It was quite a shock to step out into such frigidness early that Vermont January morning. My car wouldn’t even humor me by making any noise at all when I turned the key. Nope. I wasn’t going anywhere until the weather warmed a bit. At least I was able to pluck out all the frozen cola before it thawed, leaving no trace of my messy mistake.
In the past week or so, there have been several below zero mornings here. There is a particular rigid silence when it is that cold. Just looking out at the trees covered in snow and ice with nothing moving, seemingly all turned to stone in such frozenness, there’s no need to see a thermometer to know it’s below zero. Such stillness was surprisingly broken one morning when a bright streak of bird song loudly broke the silence. It was like a rebellion of sorts. How could anything, especially one lone little bird, draw such breath and produce a vibrantly loud jubilant song amidst these icebound surroundings? It was remarkable! As if to mock the utter stillness of this Arctic frozenness, the bird song continued for some minutes. I was amazed. What a contrast to all else which was totally, solidly paralyzed in the cold.
These few minutes at the window, listening to the lighthearted bird singing boldly in an Arctic-like landscape made me think of the book PJ and I are currently reading. The main focus in John Eldridge’s "Waking the Dead" is drawn from this quote: “The glory of God is man fully alive” (from St. Irenaeus, an early church writer, a manuscript from 185 AD). Think about it for a moment. In our hectic, task-driven world, how “alive” are we as a whole or, more personally, are you? Typically we rise, do our quick morning routine of grooming, dressing, and maybe a little breakfast before hitting the door with possibly a few words of prayer tangled in the middle of getting ready for the day. We are consumed by thoughts, barraged by images, requests, news, complaints, anxieties etc. Often our inner dialogue is composed mainly of self-criticisms about why we can’t get something done faster, better, why we’re not exercising, eating better, losing weight….you name it. Seldom is our mind and even more importantly, our heart, quiet enough to hear what God is trying to say to us. So, in other words, we are nowhere near living a “fully alive” life.
At first blush the quote above might seem a little, well, too lofty and high-minded a notion for Christian people who are supposed to live in humility, giving praise and glory to the Lord for everything attained/experienced in life. BUT, when you consider this quote from Jesus, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), isn’t that a big part of God’s whole idea? And as we are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26) and He is all glory, then wouldn’t it follow that to be “fully alive” is our best gift to God? The fulfilling of His intention for us?
Ok, so how do we approach this? It takes time, willingness, awareness, and practice. The benefits we reap in personal peace and joy are more than worth learning a new attitude and mode of living. Basically we need to first break all the agreements we’ve made (and continue to make) with the Evil one that we are bad. All those ideas suggested in our minds, those critical thoughts, those condemning remarks --- they are not from God. It is important to remember that the father of lies, the Evil one, seeks to disrupt anything that would bring us the fullness of life and happiness that life in Jesus promises. If you think about it, really it is mostly us agreeing with these critical thoughts which make up a tremendous part of our picture of ourselves and colors the emotions we experience every day.
I am NOT saying we do not make bad choices, select unhealthy options etc. Yes we do, and we reap the consequences of them also. However, this is separate and apart from how we view ourselves and then also see others as well. Those critical little judgmental thoughts that creep into your mind about someone….where do you think they come from? Who do you think they come from initially before we agree with them? Yup. Freedom comes from recognizing this and saying stop! Proverbs 23: 7 says that how we think is how we are: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is”. If we’re thinking unkind, critical, judgmental toxic thoughts, they’re going to soon turn into how we’re feeling as well. As this may seem a bit daunting, here’s a quick filter through which to test things if you’re wondering if they’re the thoughts which get in the way of being “full alive”, living with peace and joy. It’s Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”.A-ha! Gottcha! If something happens to be true but it is NOT “lovely, admirable, praiseworthy” then it would follow that dwelling on it means taking on everything else that goes with it --- yucky thoughts produce yucky feelings. This Lent, why not take the opportunity to consciously renew your mind, become like the rebellious little songbird in the frozen winter and seek to be “fully alive” and reap the joy and goodness that Jesus came to bring us all. Amen!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Close to my heart

Ok. I'll share something several have asked about over the years. "Are you a...some kind of....well, like...sort of... a monk-ess or something....???" is a question that every once and a while someone asks me. And I try to describe that, kind of, yes. Since November of 1986 I have been a member of the Fellowship of St. John, which is part of the *body*, but in a different format indeed, of the Society of St. John the Evangelist. The picture above is of my "order cross" which I received when I was received into the Fellowship. I used to wear it very often, but I haven't in the past few years as I have not wanted it to be a distraction or confusion to others in my participation in ministry here at the United Church of Penacook. The message in this cross, though, is universally Christian, as inscribed around the center are the words of Jesus, "Dwell in me as I dwell in you".

The SSJE is the oldest religious order for Anglican men. HOWEVER the Fellowship of St. John includes BOTH men and women, clergy and lay people, married and single. At our profession of membership in the Fellowship, our vows are different, of course, than those of the men who become monks and live in the monastery. But we do strive to live by a "rule" of life which strengthens us, gives us accountability (though there are no SSJE "police" who check to see how well we're doing :-)and a sense of order in a life filled with busy-ness and many responsibilities to others. It provides a reminder and a means to keep some kind of balance among all the other things which constantly pull at us in the world. It is also an ongoing connection to a community that has long been an extended family to me.

Amid the wide (and sometimes drastic) veerings of the Episcopal church (the main expression of the Anglican Communion in the USA) I have been grateful that the SSJE has maintained a more "orthodox" Anglican view embracing traditional Biblical stances on things like marriage and, well, I'm sure you all read the news or can't escape it on TV. But they manage to do this always with love and graciousness. The warmth which envelopes you the moment you enter either the chapel for worship from the outside (all services of worship are open to the public), or the guest house for a retreat is both refreshing and instantly relaxing. Well, it's WAY more than just *relaxing*...for me, it has always been a profound sense of coming home and being welcomed with open, expectant arms which are happy to see me. It is a place of deep restoration and healing.
From my first retreat there, I knew this was a special place, an extraordinary group of people with several wonderful missions in the world. The brothers are not "cloistered", living only in the monastery and enclosed, but instead they live what is called a "mixed life". They teach, preach and do all sorts of things in helping spread the gospel and minister to many kinds of people throughout so many different places. But they also gather (whenever possible)for prayer in the chapel, often hastening to put on their habits (black cassock with rope belt, and black scapular) over their clothing as they hurry to gather from wherever they've been.

The music is sublime! and the food is delicious. The guest rooms are comfortable and the monastery is close to Harvard Square and right across from the Charles River, as it's located on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, MA. The quest for an ever deepening relationship with Jesus is set within wonderful worship and simple services of prayer throughout the day and into the evening. I am always renewed and strengthened when I am there (it's been way too long since I've been....this year I just MUST schedule a few days there).
If you have time, click on the link to their web site and wander a while through the pages of tours of the monastery's simple chapel (it is so 360 degrees you can even see the inside of the high vaulted wooden ceiling!)and guest house, listen to some of the music and perhaps book mark the web site to come back and read even more. NOT that I'm trying to recruit anyone...just sharing what has always been sweet, cool deep water for a thirsty spirit and warm love and joy for a weary heart. Enjoy!


This is just so weird. After my formerly "late" marvelous Toshiba Satellite was CLEARLY and CONSISTANTLY going eternally "bye-bye", giving me just enough time to get a new one at an amazingly bargain price, my mother suggested perhaps after not being used for a while, the old one would work again. Like our TV which was almost totally "kaput" and then spent a year in a somewhat damp garden shed, but which is now working just fine....amazingly, against all odds.
Now, I know computers and TVs do not have *souls*, therefore the concept of resurrection (unless you deliberately do something like rebuild the things) just does not apply.

HOWEVER, today while considering the new Operating System, Windows 7 and playing with the idea of thinking about installing it on this machine......if I could get it to boot or something, I plugged in this (I'm writing from the formerly *done in* Toshiba Satellite even now) laptop, fired it up and worked! I've been using it all day and it's been working perfectly! No screen freezes, no crashes.....fine! And, I re-thought the idea of installing an operating system which is still in beta form, guaranteed to have "bugs" and glitches and which will completely stop operating on August 1. Reason kicked in and said this is just not a good idea. There are enough stressers in life without reaching out and purposely asking for some more.

But still, this machine continues to work! It is an enigma. Oh I'm not going to take back the new laptop.....uh uh....nope. That would most certainly set the re-demise of this machine in motion again. All those "my days are numbered....caution....caution" signals this was giving me for weeks were real. I don't expect this little honeymoon of sorts today to continue endlessly. Yet, isn't it strange?

Over time, I've had the opportunity to converse at length with various brilliant computer people (they could build them, program them, fix them.....all that) and not one of them really knew the inner actual *thing* that makes these incredible machines really work. It has made me, a totally self-taught computer user feel a little better at all the things I don't know about them myself. Mystifying, isn't it? How like us, in many ways. The Bible says we are "fearfullyly and wonderfully made" and isn't that the truth! That we could have the intelligence to invent these things in the first place, and then develop them over the years to the extraordinary extent they are now. From the early days of DOS where you had to type things in EXACTLY correctly or you'd get bupkis....nothing (and the computer wouldn't give you a hint what you did wrong or how to go on from there) to the "point and click" world of Windows. Amazing. I think back to the extraordinary concept of even having a computer that would sit on your desk without being the size of a trailer or something, as in the original computers which needed huge cooling resources. The breakthrough of the Personal Computer was amazing (trying not to "date" myself here...I was really young). But now, where it has gone from there, making that older technology so incredibly obsolete, just think about the "evolution" of the computer over the years.

Whoops! About that "e" word, evolution. I'm not hinting that I believe in Darwin's theory...I learned my life science of taxonomy to be Life: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species; and that living things evolve WITHIN their own species to survive, or they become extinct. I do not believe we humans were ever sharks or fish or any of that drivel (respectfully speaking for those who do believe this) because we haven't jumped a species. We have evolved and changed to survive within our environment. But that's about living, breathing life...not electronic stuff made of plastic, metal, wires and electricity and cannot evolve without a person making this happen to/for them (the computers).

So, here I am. I enjoyed going to to watch the most recent episode of "Grey's Anatomy" in HD on this lovely screen, listening to the sound through the nice Harmon Kardon stereo speakers. Everything about this laptop has just been humming along beautifully all day. Go figure. It's an enigma. Who knows about tomorrow or whenever, though. I'm grateful to have the new Toshiba laptop sitting on the shelf. So very much like life. Just when you think you have something completely figured out, sometimes there's a surprise which had previously seemed not possible. But isn't it nice to be prepared? Even if that preparedness is just an illusion, too. Relax. We need to plan, prepare and keep ourselves pointed in the direction we've chosen for our lives. But remember: we're not in control of very much at all. Just breathe, do your best, and enjoy the ride :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

There is Comfort

Today surprised me. It’s the nineth anniversary of my father’s death and out of the blue I feel like the Empire State Building landed square on my chest. And no, it’s not a cardiac issue. It’s just that I’ve made it through the previous 8 years on this day without such sorrow. Sad remembrance yes, but not to this extent. Oh this is hard and teary. I guess I’ve been so busy taking care of my mother’s feelings and needs that I’ve just not thought about my own. Something inside must have clicked open though, that secret place which will have its say, sometimes unbidden if left closed away too long. So, today I will sit with this and hope it goes away soon. I’ll honor my father and seek comfort for me. I wish the words God spoke to me early on when grief was fresh, to sooth the rawness and renew my hope, would still have the same impact they did back then. It was a real moment of not only clarity, but true sweetness…and I heard the words ring in my heart as well as through my mind when they came. It could not have just been from me, my imagination. I was at such a different place and trying to do so many things for which my responsibilities of course continued. I absolutely knew it was the Lord. And after those words came and embedded themselves, I turned a corner then and moved forward. Until today, I thought it was all *fine*. Maybe if I re-remember them, those simple profound words, it will ease things. God said, “Spring will come again.” And it did. A new “Spring” in my heart, long before the buds began showing on the trees. I haven’t written any poetry in a long time. I feel a poem coming on. It doesn’t sound like any of my usual styles of writings, but we’ll see what happens. Perhaps it might be a blessing for someone.

Nine years ago my father died,
A sad day, but I never cried.
My mother and I through three hard days had stayed by his side.

There couldn’t have been any other way,
It was a blessing God took him that day.
No “getting better” was possible for him,
The thought of more future here would have been terribly grim.

No more debility, no more pain,
Just release into a heavenly plane.
The space he left is too huge to fill,
His own unique place is somehow living still.
Into the early sorrow and empty pain,
God spoke to my heart, saying,:
“Spring will come again….”

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas: a movable, ongoing feast

Tonight, at long last, after snow and ice storms, massive power outages for days and just lots of life happening since Christmas, my two dear friends and I (20 years of friendship and prayer partners) FINALLY got together for dinner and to share Christmas with one another. Although it's been some time since all the "trappings" of Christmas have come down, the spirit and love of the Christmas season flowed richly among us as we shared simple good food, wonderful conversation and laughter and gave one another our Christmas gifts. Despite it being January 13, nothing at ALL seemed odd about this. My friends and I have many responsibilities, involvements in our churches, families, work, and variables in our lives over which we have only limited (if any) control. So, it's not unusual that our birthday and Christmas celebrations have sometimes been "extended" like this. That's how we feel about them. Reality might say these festive holiday get-togethers have been "delayed", but in our hearts, they are simply *extended* --- that the joy has just expanded and certainly nothing is lost in celebrating significantly long after the rest of the world has put Christmas away.

On the drive back home, I gave some thought about how this is really how it should always be. Oh, I don't mean that people should purposely *extend* or wait longer before they celebrate Christmas, but that we should keep a Christmas heart all year a Christmas life every day. Oops....this doesn't mean multiple trips to the mall and more presents. Nope. Jesus came to us, born anew in our hearts at Christmas and our response is to spread the word and do the "work" of Christmas all year long.

The late Dr. Howard Thurman wrote a wonderful poem, "The Work of Christmas" which describes this perfectly. As we step further into the New Year, let's think about this and carry Christmas along with us in what we do as well as how we are with one another. Here's the poem,

"The Work of Christmas"

"When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To release the prisoner,
To teach the nations,
To bring Christ to all,
To make music in the heart."

Now, wouldn't the world, or even just our little corner of it be so much brighter, lighter, and happier if we were to do this all year long? :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nifty computer things to occupy time.....

Another snow/ice event has been happening outside for hours and hours now, actually since before the day began. Ick. But it is January in NH, after all, so it's to be expected. Plain snow is much easier to deal with, of course, but weather's just another thing over which we have no control. We've had to be out and in this a few times today and haven't been plowed out yet, so....triple ick. Heavy, icy, wet snow. Ick ick ick.

So, there's been some time wasting going on over here (that'd be by me) at the computer. I spent a ton of time doing extra work yesterday, so I rationalize a little computer play time today as the weather has put major wrinkles in what I'd otherwise be doing.

And, since I've discovered 3 intriguing new (and free....that's a requirement) fun things to play at on the computer, of course I just had to share :-) Perhaps everybody has known about them for a long time and just I'm among the last folks to find out. Who knows. In any event, if you don't know about them, they're kinda fun. They're not interacting with other people kinds of things, but creative sorts of things. Two of them I really enjoyed and the third, well, despite reading what a "wow" it is as a game, and be careful or you'll be spending all your time playing this.....well, I'm not seeing what all the jazz is about. To me, it's just OK. Others may love it.

The first is this way to make colorful sand pictures on your screen just by manipulating your mouse (or touch pad). It has a kind of soothing feeling to it as well. Seeing the sand drifting down and being able to move around where it goes, change the color at will....a quiet sort of contented fun. Very nice on a dreary "icky" stormy day like today. You will find this activity (it's really not a *game* score, you just make your own sand pictures) at:

A blank screen will open. Just double click someplace and you'll see this sand drifting down. Move your mouse (or finger) around and you'll move the sand around as well. Press your letter "c" key and you'll get a multiple shaded/colored screen. Move to the color you'd like to select for your sand and double click again. Zappo. You're back to your sand picture and sprinkling that color of sand! There are a few more things to do with this, but it's fun to discover on your own :-)

The next fun thing involves a way to "paint" with your mouse (or finger) Jackson Pollock-like pictures. Very nifty and more active than the sand painting thing. This is found at Go to this site and again, you'll encounter a blank screen....UNTIL you begin to move your mouse/finger around and the wild blobs and lines begin to happen wherever you move your mouse. Double click on the screen and presto....a random new color happens. This is very jazzy indeed. Even the most artistically challenged folks can make some cool stuff happen on the screen with this. Despite this not being a favorite style of art for me, it's somehow rather exciting and feels a bit empowering to make all this happen under your fingers. Like venting with art without making a mess!!! Now, who among us wouldn't like that?

The last thing, the thing which apparently lots of people find "addicting" but was just *OK* as far as I'm concerned is a game called "Boomshine". The music which goes with it is rather nice (happy sounding piano music with other instruments which join in....nice....pleasant), so when you give this a try, make sure you have your sound on. You'll find this at

So, if you have find yourself with some time to occupy while at your computer, here you go! Three kind of cool things to try. Have fun! And stay safe in this icky, icy weather.....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My best electronic gizmos of 2008

Last year (although I'm FIRMLY looking FORWARD in 2009) was a banner year for fabulous and affordable, practical, enjoyable electronic finds for me. Above is a picture of an incredible gizmo called the ClickFree automatic backup and restore system. It's an external hard drive, yes, but it's designed to simply plug into a port on your computer and instantly back up your computer however you want. It knows how to separate all your different types of files (documents, pictures, music, videos, saved email, etc) and it truly does it all by itself! You can back up several computers and it instantly recognizes which one you're dealing with at the time. Also, most helpful, is you can use it to restore or transfer files to a different computer, too! I love this thing and it really saved my bacon when I had to purchase a new laptop due to the demise of my former one. Easily I put all my important stuff onto the new machine and I can access it, like, presto! It's lightweight, doesn't require a power source, comes with it's own don't even need to install any software to run it! They come in different sizes.....I think mine is 165 GB. It's designed to be able to deal with the contents of up to 10 different computers. I can't recommend this gizmo enough. OH could I forget! It was INCREDIBLY reasonable to purchase and now, of course, it would cost even less. And when you think of the importance of all your material, how can you not have something like this for when your computer ultimately bites the big one? We do know that's a matter of "when" and not "if". Being prepared is such a secure feeling :-)

This is an amazing thing which is SO beyond just being an electronic "reader". It's the "Kindle" by Amazon. Even before adding any additional memory (via a memory card) it will easily hold the contents of 200 books. But can do so much with this thing, it's truly astonishing. It comes in it's own little binder thing, but knowing I'd need to be able to keep the binder closed with this in my purse, I purchased an upgraded one. So it actually "looks" like a book. However, you can ALSO go online with this thing! It uses something called "whispernet" (a form of cell phone type technology supported by Sprint) which requires NO subscription or fee to use at all...even if you have no relationship with the Sprint people --- which I don't. You can Google stuff, go to lots of sites, get the weather for anywhere, read blogs.....incredible. The QWERTY keyboard, albeit small, is easily negotiable and the thing is totally intuitive to easily learn. Yes, the screen is in black and white, but basically, aren't most of the books you read? Additionally and wonderfully, there's a "Kindle store" which you access with your Kindle and the cost of books in this format are SO MUCH less than in hard copy. Plus, if you want to subscribe to any of SEVERAL newspapers or magazines, they are extraordinarily inexpensive and each edition is instantly, automatically delivered to your Kindle. Weighing 10 oz, this little gizmo is a dynamic wonder. It has so many more features to make your reading/browsing experience, especially on the go, just a delight. Oh! Also, you can load your music onboard and listen to it (with ear buds) as an MP3 player as well! OK, if you go to the Amazon site, you'll see it's pretty pricey. But if you're an avid reader, the books are SO much less expensive. I was very fortunate to able to purchase mine via a huge coupon together with an amazing special promotional sale so it put it within my price range (which, as a pastor's wife, is, well, stuff has got to be as inexpensive as possible). It charges quickly and holds the charge for HOURS and hours. It's just simply fabulous!!
Although this LOOKS like an iPod, it so totally is NOT. It's a Sansa e280 MP3 player. What makes it different from an iPod? Oh simply tons of marvelous things! First, it's way less pricey, plus it's not nearly as delicate, being a flash player with no moving parts. This model with 8 GB of storage, will hold thousands of things: more music than you could imagine (and you can organize this into play lists by album, artist, genre etc), pictures and videos and has a built in radio receiver as well. The color screen is very attractive and the battery life (rechargable) is amazing. It has a wonderful equalizer so you can adjust the sound settings for your music to suit your specific taste in sound. And the quality of the sound it produces? WONDERFUL. This is my second Sansa MP3 player, the first having been a 1GB model which required a AA battery. The e280 is an upgrade for me and my former Sansa is alive and well and living with a friend I gave it to who'd been so wanting an MP3 player. Also, I can simply plug this one into my car and it will play directly through it's sound system! Yay! Plus, not being an iPod, you're not locked into iTunes for your downloadable music and can purchase it anywhere to download to your computer and sync it onto the player (as well as music you've ripped from CDs, of course). If you are into researching for the best prices, find great sales, you'll be able to find this for an affordable price. It's sleek, light weight, attractive, reliable and just totally amazing.

If you have an MP3 player, doubtless you've wished for the ability to listen to your music (and share it with others at the same time as well) without ALWAYS being tethered to earbuds or earphones. This is the GPX Music System with iPod docking station which is compatible with other MP3 players as well. Those 7 odd little things in the picture are just adaptor dealies for different models of iPods so they can "dock"/click into place. For other MP3 players, you simply use a cable the type of which I can't instantly recall (RCA cable?) but had on hand and presto --- you're in business. The quality of sound is GORGEOUS and there's quite a bit of cable for each speaker so this could easily be a bookshelf stereo system. I have mine with the speakers right next to the central unit (which also has a nice clock) on the table next to the bed. Additionally, this system has a marvelous AM/FM radio receiver with an additional unobtrusive wire antenna which provides for fabulous reception. And the price? I got mine for a smidge over $25.00, including the shipping. Oh...and did I mention it even has a remote control? Yup. How can you miss! LOVE this thing.

So, there you have them! The 4 fabulous electronic gizmos I acquired in 2008 which really DO make life easier and more fun and will last for a long, long time. When you find things as great as these, you just HAVE to share the info! Enjoy!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Requiem for my old Toshiba Satellite

Well, it had to happen some day. I mean, computers crash and that part's not really such a big deal, if you've saved what you've been working on. Usually we learn that big "IF" thing (as in saving) the hard way, and hopefully only once. But we also know that electronic gizmos only work just so long, despite how well taken care of they are and mine lived a careful life of cautious luxury. NEVER did anything "untoward" happen to it. But the crashes became more frequent, the screen freezes really more unpredictable and frequent, necessitating having to do the just-turn-it-off thing by pushing the button instead of what it much more prefers, the normal shut-down process. Like many of you computer folk, I had TONS of music on there and even more documents and other important stuff. Thankfully last year I bought this GREAT thing (more about it in my *favorite gizmos of 2008* post yet to be's just the best thing in this category and SO reasonably priced, even I could afford it) called the ClickFree which is an external backup system that's simply amazing. I had everything backed up on there and on a cigar drive as well.

New Years Eve day I decided to do the thing that personally I hate to do because it's so time consuming (meaning you have to reinstall everything afterward) --- totally erase/restore your machine...wipe off everything that you put on there after it came from the factory and start from scratch to restore it to how it was when you first took it out of the box. This was after doing multiple scans for viruses, malware etc. and having a truly clean machine --- just one that was on it's way out.

I was convinced that all that labor would have FIXED my Toshiba and it'd be FINE. I so hated the idea of having to buy (gulp) another one, especially after having become so attached to all the great features of that laptop. This had been purchased for me at such an amazing bargain through a friend in California (the ONLY way I'd have been able to afford such a great laptop) and I was dreading having to go backwards in quality of screen etc. Since my Satellite was a little more than 4 years old, of course a newer one would be faster etc. But so expensive......

Well, from the title of this post, you already know that all this effort was futile and in the wee early hours of New Year's Day ( before 5:00 AM) I began researching prices for new Satellites. Yow were they all over the map! Joyfully, though, I discovered a REALLY good model that's had GREAT technical and user reviews at BestBuy on sale for $499.99 (yes, it's $500...that "99" stuff somehow makes it a tad easier to swallow). Of COURSE they didn't have any in the store closest to us, and they were totally sold out online. But phone calls led us to make a harrowing drive down to the Manchester BestBuy because literally they were flying out the door while I was on the phone with the salesperson. And we really didn't want to have to drive further on down to Salem or over to Nashua in pursuit of this laptop. We got there just in time, because we purchased the very last one!

No it doesn't have a webcam (I particularly enjoy the fact I can be online in my robe or in bed or whatever and I'm not interested in anybody catching that view) and the stereo speakers aren't the best, but I've got some external ones if I'm really wanting to be listening while I'm online. But it's REALLY fast, has tons of RAM (I mean way more than necessary to run Vista....I could take up "gaming" if I were so inclined) and a HUGE hard drive, terrific optical CD/DVD RW drive as well as lots of actually good software included. And the screen....oh I'm so happy about the screen :-) I could play HD DVDs on here if I wanted to and the screen quality for just every day stuff is pristine, bright, crisp and sharp. Love the screen. Really nice large size screen, too.

So after setting it up and then finally moving everything (photos, other graphics, videos, documents, other stuff) from the former Satellite onto here, I am up and running again. I even find I prefer this keyboard. I am SO grateful to have been able to find this at the sale price just when I needed it and had squirreled away the "just in case" funds to be able to get it. All in the nick of time.

My mother suggested that now I've purchased this machine, perhaps after a little rest, the old one will take on new life again as our upstairs TV did. That thing was totally done for (you know the signs: purple weirdness on the screen, wavey streaks of green and magenta that never go away...the signal that the TV is going to quit at any time). We lugged that thing out of the house and it spent more than a year in the shed (it's kinda big and we hadn't figured out yet how to throw it away). When my stepson had been here he inquired that if he brought it in the house (that thing is HEAVY) and if it turned out to work, could he use it in the guest room where he was staying. Of course we said sure, but thought this was only going to result in some physical exercise for him. We were all stunned that the thing worked just fine! It's STILL working just fine! Oooops......I shouldn't be thinking/typing this might hear me and decide to fink out again once and for all :-).

So, I guess we'll see. But at least, my "old" laptop served a wonderful purpose for me and I made some great stuff with it. It had been a floor model at a computer store in Thousand Oaks, California, so who knows how much use/abuse it endured even before I received it and then used it for who knows how many hundreds of hours in the 4+ years it served me well.

Now, there's the challenge of learning Vista. I really like some stuff about it, but it's going to take some time just to find "normal" things I'd been accustomed to instantly locating on my XP machine. It's a new year,'s good to learn new things :-)