Elder Human Computer Interface and my 62nd birthday

There is a loverly article in Interactions Vol. 13, No. 6 that deftly and gracefully frames the elder human computer interface opportunity and gives it legs. Aaron Marcus illuminates the galactic brain power of the eldest third of the U.S. population.

If I could distill the essence, it would be "Oldest Humans + thoughtful technology = the National Treasure."

The cross-human communication technology opens a new world of functional design necessary through all the stages of human growth. A tumbling arc, a continuum of age.

I've started a list of hard- and software that I anticipate needing in the future if I am to continue to write and communicate, that's a given. Have you started your lists yet?

Hardware: I want an "Enter" key for my left pinkie. It can occupy one half the space of the Caps Lock key. It's kinda like having the low B attachment with it's just a little further out key for your right pinkie. That way, you can access a body of flute repertoire that appeals to me the most. The Impressionists, the contemporary bloom of composition for the flute.

I had the great pleasure of spending four days with friends in Dallas, reuniting with several whom I have not seen since 1974. What made it extraordinary is that some of it was spent in a friend's recording studio (James Neel Music House) with musicians I used to play and sing with. Got a few tracks laid down before a technical glitch shut down the action. I gave 'em a sample of some backup vocal lines. Looking forward to getting a backup group together. I do love whuppin' up a bluesy girl group in close funky harmony more than anything. Unless it's playing me some Poulenc and Hindemith sonatas, or Cage and Castelnuovo-Tedesco flute duets. Yeah.

So, I need a little key revision on my keyboard. Bear with me while I think ahead...at some point, I may have to add some audio technology, and visually, we pretty well know what we need: uncluttered, clear, intuitive, impeccably organized. Perhaps a style guide for techies of any age that describes best practices in communication among all ages. Hmmm...

One of these days I'd like a decent recording sound on my computer, with some voice transcribing software on board. Before I get too croaky to sing. That'll be a while coming, I expect.


Meme tagged by Kay's Thinking Cap

My pal Kay, over at Kay's Thinking Cap, tagged me with a thought-provoking meme. Here's what she asked:

Name five things in your life now that you never dreamed would be in your future when you were 25 years old.

Well, Kay made such a dynamite list she inspired me to do some digging.

1. When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed that age- and appearance-bias and discrimination was so prevalent, even among my friends and lovers--that anyone could reject me just because my body changed shape--after all, it was my mind that I considered my most important asset.

2. When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed I could ever commit to an addictive relationship that would eventually strip me of my soul, my spirit, my self-worth, and ultimately endanger my mental and physical health, or that it would take twenty-five more years to extricate myself,
and another ten to recover.

3. When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed that even though I scorned chauvinism and male domination, it would be years before I finally learned how to break the shackles and become my own woman-self.

4. When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed I would travel the world and sing in wonderful venues, or have so many fascinating adventures abroad.

5. When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed that I would have a natural childbirth at home--a daughter who would grow up to be such a fabulously wonderful woman.

I have to add a sixth: When I was twenty-five, I never dreamed that I would encounter so many paradigm shifts in my life, and question so many basic beliefs--justice, fairness, sense of self-worth, ad infinitum...

Thanks, Kay, I'm going to check out the other women you tagged now!

I'm tagging Cowtown Patty at Texas Trifles, Rhea at the Boomer Chronicles, Pam at Mind Trips, Wintersong, and Dorothy at Boomer Chick: Musings of an Over the Hill Chick.


Koko's recipe for winter evening posole

I haven't messed around with recipes for decades. Haven't followed one for even longer, maybe junior high. I generally make up my own, or wing it. Tonight I made posole, a traditional pre-
Columbian stew
, and it was so good I thought I'd share my version.

Some folks cook up dried posole, which is hominy corn that has been processed. I usually get the canned, already cooked version. Grits are ground hominy, BTW, and are yummy cooked with garlic and cheese.

Back to posole, though. This is a dish that cures what ails ya, especially on a cold winter night with the cedar (juniper) pollen count off the chart. Kinda the Central Texas version of chicken soup. I usually make up a 4 qt. pot, as it freezes well, and seems to improve the longer it has to infuse the flavors.

Traditionally, indigenous New Mexicans make it with mutton or lamb, but you can make it with pork, chicken, or I've even done a veggie version with tofu. The trick is to simmer on very low heat for a couple of hours so the goodness can blend. You'll need a 4 qt. stainless pot or cast-iron Dutch oven with cover, and a large cast-iron or non-aluminum skillet or wok.

2 to 2-1/2 lbs. of mutton, lamb, pork roast, pork ribs, chicken, or hard tofu, no need to cut the meat; tofu is best in bite-sized pieces

2 two-pound cans of hominy (maiz posolero)--I use one can of white, one can of yellow for color,
including the liquid

2 fresh green Hatch or Poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
(or 2 seven-ounce cans of diced green Hatch chiles, with liquid)
(or fresh AND canned, for extra zing and vitamin C)

1 large onion (red is my favorite, for flavor and color)

6-8 cloves of fresh garlic

2 T oil for saute'ing

a quart and a half of chicken or veggie broth

Fresh cilantro, lime, and avocado to garnish.

Brown meat or tofu in 2 T oil in the skillet or wok. Place in large pot or Dutch oven.
Saute fresh chiles, onions and garlic in leftover oil/bits until clear. Add to browned meat/tofu.
Deglaze skillet with a cup or two of the broth. When all bits come off the bottom, add to pot.
If you are using canned chiles, add them to the pot.
Add the hominy.
Add rest of broth, and if necessary, water to within two inches of pot rim.
Simmer on very low heat for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, checking every 20 min. to make sure there is plenty of liquid.

When the meat is falling-apart tender, serve it up, garnish with a squeeze of lime, a couple of T of cilantro leaves, 2-3 slices of avocado, and enjoy! Doesn't need salt, since the hominy will be salted. Just the thing for cedar fever weather--the heat and the chiles help clear out your head.

Photo attribution: Pozole soup served in clay bowl in Cuernavaca, Mexico, December 2006. By Meutia Chaerani/Indradi Soemardjan http://www.indrani.net

Back in the saddle again

This holiday break was wonderful. A white Christmas and New Year's, spending quality time with my baby and her sweetie and his family, and generally ratcheting down from a busy fall semester. I shamelessly did not contact my Boston peeps, for which I will now apologize. I will be back, and I will contact you.

But this visit was all about my daughter and her bf. And enjoying snow for a change. Funny thing, as soon as I got back from Texas, we've had record-breaking hot weather--all the way up to 80 degrees one day. Then down to freezing two nights later. We really are in for several decades of turbulent, rogue weather while we figure out what in the hell we're going to do about global warming.

Following the caucuses, as evident from my last post. Thinking of past campaigns and the state of the Republic at those nexuses (nexii?). Remembering campaign promises made and broken, or kept. Hoping that one day my vote will count as it used to. Like Bill Clinton--whatever his faults, he reminded me more of Stevenson and Kennedy than any other candidate before or since, and that's a good thing, in my mind.

The internet phenomenon is even more evident this campaign. After a shaky start in '00 and '04, it seems to have matured to the point that more people are listening to what the on-line buzz is rather than network TV. Another good thing. I love the badge Ronni Bennett has on Time Goes By that shows a '40's style blue-collar woman with her sleeves rolled up in front of a typewriter: "Blogs are like little first amendment machines." YES! I want that badge in a bad way.

Thus my fascination with gerontechnology vis a vis politics. I am convinced that if we make the internet more accessible to Boomers, we can actually make a difference. Thus my intention to launch a Web site dedicated to two things: making technology available and inviting for Boomers, and offering awards to Web sites that promote and embody universal usability. You heard it here first, folks, that's a long-term dream of mine. Should anyone want to participate, let me know--many heads are better than one in the blogosphere.

So to that end, I am initiating a new blogroll for sites that address gerontechnology issues. The elder blogroll will remain; this new heading is for actual Web sites that advance usability for elders. This is a subject I've been researching for years, and it's time to do something about it.

There are so many great elderblogs out there--I've had a wonderful and enlightening experience visiting every link on Ronni's elderblogroll. You can all expect at least one comment from me in the coming year--it's time to reach out and move forward with vigor!

Thank you all for blogging and enduring. Experience does count, and when we work together, we can make great things happen. Cliched, I know, but true, doncha think?


2008 already?

Time seems to speed up the older you get. When you're a kid, you have eons of days before you. When you get older, you wonder where the time went.

This last eight years have been so depressing, in terms of the larger picture in politics. The Bush team has degraded America to a shambles of what was good and great. The Constitution has been shat upon, personal liberties have been curtailed, and not towards a common good. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and our oil dependency is hastening the end of the globe as we know it.

Frankly, I don't care who gets into the White House next January. I only care that the short-sighted, greedy, hypocritical assholes who have been in power the last eight years are gone and we never hear from them again, unless it is in the context of criminal charges.

As happens with all presidents, at least since Truman, who was in power when I was born, each one of them has looked decades older from the stresses of running, or being run to run the country when they leave office. I find it ironic that Bush plans to spend his retirement at his compound in Crawford, where he has all the latest in green technology, and can survive in any catatastrophe in which the "grid" is compromised. So why the hell didn't he afford the rest of America the technology which he knows is optimum?

It blows me away that there are real human beings for whom material possessions and amassing of money means more than human lives. It's like a rot, no better than the pitiful, power-hungry third-world despots that use people as cannon fodder, or as disposable servitors to accumulate more and more wealth. What the heck are they going to do with it? It's such a disgraceful waste.

Which brings me to the issues of "entitlement," fear of aging, the desire to be "better than," the willingness to abandon all morality to attain an unreal state of something, success? Power? Adulation? Is it worth the trashing of basic values to look two years younger than your neighbor? To drive a car that costs more to procure, maintain, and gas up? To snag a heartless, boring job?

We have become a nation of mini-bullies. The Bully in Chief is simply one symptom of what has gone terribly awry in national integrity. This is way beyond politics. This is a sad side-tracking of the human condition. The real shame is that it doesn't have to be this way. We've got too many brilliant minds, way too much of the world's wealth, and certainly too much democratic freedom to not be able to come up with real answers and action. There is no excuse for what we have become. We could take care of our planet, our various populations, and diseases if we just decide to do it. We have access to all the resources on the planet, most notably the mental capacity to solve the largest of the world's problems.

Why are we taking the low road? Have we sunk to the level of the ancient barbaric civilizations? Are we living out the predictions of old scientific experiments that show that when an environment becomes over-populated, the inhabitants become psychotic and homicidal? We have the resources to take care of overpopulation--this is a sociological, not a moral issue. As is the issue of AIDS.

Where does this all stop? Is it simply a question of relinquishing our individual responsibility? What happened to that wonderful rebellious energy from the 60's and 70's? Complacency? How could we have gotten ourselves into this mess?

What can we do as responsible adults to turn this stupid train around and work towards the good? We have the means to communicate on a massively inclusive level. What are our candidates willing to put on the line to turn America around? Which one is most capable of doing that? Are any of them capable? Is that where the responsibility lies? Who can talk to the Supreme Court? Who can convince Congress? Who can lead the way? Anyone this particular election period? I'm not convinced yet.