|Name Of Column
||News & Events
||Susan Bruemmer, M.S, CCC-SLP
||Emergency Actions for Laryngectomees
||Who/What Has Helped Most?
|The Speechless Poet
||Len A Hynds
||A Christmas Story
||Prose & Poetry
|Bits, Bytes & No Butts!
||Christmas Techie Gift Ideas & More
INDEX AND LINKS TO EACH ISSUE MAY BE FOUND AT: http://webwhispers.org/news/WotWIndex.asp
This time of year, many of us say how much more wonderful it is to give than to receive. Ultimately, I really believe that to be true. There are, however, times when what we receive is so incredible, we become overjoyed and that takes precedence.
My middle class parents worked hard to provide for my brother, sister and me as children. As Christmas approached they would ask each of us what we wanted. I’m not sure what I told them since I really could not think of anything, most of the time. At least that’s the way I remember it. Honestly, among the most memorable of Christmases were those when my parents came up with something unexpected.
The absolute coolest of gifts was in the late 1960’s; I was around 10. A few kids had mini-bikes. They were usually 3 ½ hp little dinky ones. I was blown away at the 5hp Briggs & Stratton Engine bright yellow mini-bike with knobby mud grip tires! It was a total surprise and I rode it that first day and it seems like forever after. There was a track around the perimeter of our fairly good sized back yard where I would just go out and ride, ride, ride, letting all that might have bothered me fall away. Often, I had to be stopped for dinner and didn’t want to quit riding. Gosh, I loved that thing!
Not long after … a couple of years later, 1970 maybe, I was amazed to receive an 8 track tape player, stained wood cabinet with two matching speakers. Again, I was blown away by the surprise of something I had never even thought of, much less expected. Among the tapes I received with it were Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest hits plus Creedence Clearwater Revival and Three Dog Night. Maybe I bought one of those but I do know that I was really impressed that mom and dad got me the ones they did. Surely, they must have spoken to someone and had them ask their kid! I think the day I came home with Janis Joplin’s Greatest Hits was a not so good one for the rest of the family. I never understood that. Her rendition of “Bobby McGee” was and is THE best ever. I recently found her and the others on Pandora and celebrated the memories while driving down the road.
By now, if not a long time ago, you would wonder where I am going with this idea of “The Gift”. Going though chemo and radiation, it seemed like so much was being taken from me - my voice, my weight, health, energy and, as it turns, out, almost my life. With barely the energy to walk at times, I got so tired of being told that I was in “real” trouble with the weight loss. I was doing the best I could and it wasn’t good enough. Seems like I had always just lost something. As if that was not enough, about 3 months later, here came the laryngectomy. Talk about losing or giving up things ……talk about giving.
Wait a minute, what got me through all that was the knowledge that every day I survived, I was receiving a gift - another day. As I continued through the process, I learned to celebrate every day what I had received. I marked treatment dates off the calendar, and looked at my phone to determine (every day) how many days it had been since the surgery that took so much from me, all the while telling myself that I had received another day for which to be grateful and all the while, not realizing the true gift. The Gift was and is life. I cherish each and every day and am just as blown away by the fact that I’m still here as I was with the mini-bike, and the 8 track tape player. Yes, it may be better to give than to receive, but there is a lot to be said for celebrating what one has received. The Gift? Life. Ultimately, that gift grew into Life and WebWhispers. Pat Sanders and each of you were also a gift I didn’t know to look for, ask for, or expect. I love WebWhispers and each one of you.
I sincerely hope that each of you can find enjoyment with family and friends during the coming days and develop a sharp eye for what you are receiving each day.
Enjoy, Laugh, and Learn,
Emergency Actions for Laryngectomees
We could not wrap up this year without first extending a sincere thank you to all those who have contributed to VoicePoints in 2016. This includes you, our readers, along with many brilliant authors, the talented, hard-working and dedicated WebWhispers board, and numerous friends and colleagues who have helped pull it all together with insight, encouragement, and technical support. Your dedication to the laryngectomy community is appreciated and does make a difference. Many thanks to each of you.
In case you missed any of our 2016 monthly issues, check us out online! We covered a lot of ground this year including: an overview of laryngectomy supplies and recent meetings; effects of radiation therapy and prevention of radiation therapy-associated dysphagia; things you might want to consider when contemplating artificial larynx devices; body image changes following total laryngectomy; becoming involved in local, national and international head and neck communities; nutrition for our patients, and lymphedema management. And if you need an extra boost as you complete your last-minute shopping, meal-planning or CEUs, there are recipes (including one for chocolate mousse!) in the WW library under Recipes/Soft Foods:
For further inspiration, I recently asked speech-language pathologist and friend Susan Bruemmer to describe how several professionals and one laryngectomee club collaborated to offer a class on emergency actions for laryngectomees. Below, Susan shares how their hope of spreading the word has resulted in a vision for the future that extends beyond the limits of their own local community.
Happy Holidays everyone! -Kim
Emergency Actions for Laryngectomees
Informing first responders about the needs of a laryngectomee in an emergency situation has developed over the years as our club members continued to hear stories about fellow laryngectomee members having oxygen administered by mouth rather than by stoma. Our club members tried contacting the otolaryngologists/hospitals/fire departments about the locations of laryngectomees in our geographic area as well as the anatomical differences in laryngectomees. Still incorrect measures continued to occur in our area.
When our local club, the Southeastern Washington Laryngectomee Club, was chosen as local host for the annual IAL meeting/Voice Institute in Spokane, WA in 2013, Ed Chapman and I brainstormed with local Spokane ENT, Dr. Brian Mitchell, Spokane County EMS Services Coordinator, Ray Tansey, and Providence Regional Cancer Center, all of whom had great input into how to instruct first responders about the differences between tracheotomy and laryngectomy patients. Since Ed had been a fire chief, he had a unique insight on the kinds of information the EMT’s would need to help laryngectomees in breathing distress. We had many meetings trying to coordinate the information to be presented, how to disseminate the information to the attendees (handouts and/or online access, flash drive) and how to pay for the handouts and advertising for the course. Providence Regional Medical Center graciously donated the handouts and advertising flyers as well as videotaping of the course that is now part of the medical library for all Providence hospitals for their staff to access.
Our hope to spread the word all over the country is being fulfilled as each annual IAL meeting is using our template to inform first responders about the special needs of laryngectomees in emergency situations. We also envision expanding the program to include Emergency Department and hospital staff for situations in which laryngectomees visit ERs and hospitals for emergencies other than related to their laryngectomy such as a mild stroke or heart attack. Taping the program for area hospitals could be used for yearly refreshers for all hospital staff involved in patient care.
Susan Bruemmer, M.S., CCC-SLP
Southeastern Washington Laryngectomee Club, Kennewick, WA
For a full printable article on rescue breathing, visit:
This has been a challenging year for WebWhispers. Pat Sanders passed away on April 19th. She wrote her last column for this newsletter in the March issue just before she was taken so suddenly and seriously ill. I recently re-read “Choosing a New Doctor” and was struck by this passage.
I think I know what I want…if I can get one: I would like a doctor that specializes in the elderly. I am coming to the conclusion that as we age, our needs do change. We sometimes take less medication to do the job we need. The doctor of that persuasion might also recognize symptoms of aging that leave hands hurting or bones aching as something different than a family doc would see. And it is not like I will wake up next week and find the problem cured! Just found that the kind of doctor at this hospital group of clinics uses doctors for the elderly in situations like hospice or palliative care... Nope, not ready for that right now!
Unfortunately she was much closer to needing that type of care than anyone realized. The WebWhispers Board of Directors, volunteers, family, friends and all of us, had to scramble to keep things running smoothly. Pat was a real hands-on leader and there was literally no aspect of WW that she did not scrutinize and oversee. She was WW 24/7. There was no way any one person was going to fill those shoes.
I am appreciative of the many folks who have willingly taken on so many new responsibilities and done so with grace and dedication. Tom Whitworth had the unenviable task of taking over as president under most difficult circumstances. Pat’s son, Scott Schram, helped as much as he could to access computer files and literally the life blood of WW that was stored in Pat’s home office. When we had computer access issues, Ron Matoon stepped in to save the day, more than once. Stacy Spangler who does website management for us has been so supportive and always willing to go the extra mile. Jeff Vanden Hogen, the gentle giant of WW, is such a gem and always just doing what needs to be done without a complaint. I won’t list everyone else who stepped up to the plate and there are many unsung heroes at WW but I do want to give a special shout-out to the writers for Whispers on the Web.
As you may know I have been here for nearly 12 years, since Pat shanghaied me during a WW Panama Canal cruise back in 2004. I will always appreciate and love her for giving me a platform and encouraging my efforts. Over the years we have had some wonderful contributors to WotW and the group writing regularly for us now are among the best.
VoicePoints is a stellar example of a collaboration that addresses both laryngectomees and the medical professionals who help us. Kim Almond is our coordinator and she is a terrific asset to our community.
Speaking Out has become one of our most popular columns since Jack Henslee started it nearly 6 years ago. It is a great way to contribute to the newsletter without having to write a whole column and the questions inevitably provide a range of responses – proving once again how we are all different and yet can all bring something to the table.
Len Hynds unites all of those differences in his charming stories, poems and “True Tales” – the Speechless Poet from Kent in the UK is a treasure.
Noirin Sheahan writes for us from Dublin, Ireland and her column, “Dear Lary” is extraordinary. She only started writing for us recently but her perspective on mindfulness and this lary life is inspiring.
Frank Klett keeps us up to date each month on tech stuff and he does it in a way even I can understand. Plus he has great taste in music and agrees with me on the best holiday shows☺
We are always looking for ways to improve both the WW website and our newsletter. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any and all suggestions/critiques/commentaries.
In closing I would like to share a couple things, “Just between Friends”.
Tonight I am looking at the latest version of “Nanny’s tree” and feeling thankful. Ever since my first grand-daughter was old enough to walk I have had a special Christmas tree cut down to size for them and decorated with only unbreakable, mostly hand me down hand –made decorations, small toys and lots of colored beads and lights. It is your quintessential Dr. Seuss tree that changes every time the girls come to visit and I absolutely love it. The magic of that tree lifts my spirits and calms my soul in these troubled times.
And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
Then he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
And what happened then…?
Well... in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch's small heart
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!
Wishing each and every one of you all the best this season of hope and light.
"What person or organization has been the most help to you
as a laryngectomee or caregiver?
Michelle Mason – Houston, TX
WebWhispers has been amazing, however the most important group in a laryngectomee's life honestly is the speech therapy/otolaryngology group which the person is originally linked to. The care in the beginning can make or break the person and such little detail as the size of the speech therapist hands can make a difference in between a laryngectomee having to surgically replace a prosthesis or being able to do it in the office. I would say Speech group is top of the list ...
Thanks for all you do.
Julius Akemu - Warri Delta State (Nigeria)
The most useful person as my caregiver is my wife she has been so helpful.
Max Hoyt – Lewes, DE
Tina Wehberg was the Head and Neck Cancer Group facilitator for my first 10 years. She was followed by Denise Premo. Together, they taught me how to enjoy life as a Lary. They also taught me how to grieve loss of people in my life.
Annie Humphries - Basildon, UK
The organization which has most helped me in the UK has been shoutatcancer.org which is an organization working for voice rehabilitation post laryngectomy. Its founder, Dr. Thomas Moors, and his colleagues have worked tirelessly with groups of us to regain phonation and strength in our voices and, have inspired us to take part in choral activities and recitals. I personally have gained in self-confidence so much that I have been able to go back to broadcasting and public speaking. A truly remarkable group of people.
Karol Beaufore – Apena, MI
For me Web whispers has been the best organization. I live in a somewhat small town although we have a medium size hospital the people there know very little about laryngectomees. They have argued with me over the fact that I won't get oxygen if they put it through my nose or mouth. Telling me it isn't true that I wouldn't get oxygen if they put in my nose. When I don't really need it I just let it go. They don't know anything about prosthesis. I had to go to other side of town when I wore a SLP inserted prosthesis. I have to tell the doctors what to order on my prescription. If it wasn't for being able to ask questions of WebWhispers I wouldn't know what to do.
David Kelsall – Abertillery, UK
1. By a country mile, my wife. She has redefined patience. Backed up from a distance (probably only a tiny one to you Americans! From Lancashire to Cardiff) by my octogenarian mother.
2. My ENT surgeon, Mr. Passant. Such a friendly, pleasant, helpful genius. He and his team have been wonderful. He's the only surgeon in the hospital who can do my up-coming fake voice box (do you call them TEPs?) insertion surgery, and I'm over the moon it is him.
3. My district nurse. Until I moved house and was no longer in her catchment area, since when I have had no district nurse visits from anyone. But she was wonderful.
5. The nurses on the ward where I recovered for six weeks after my Laryngectomy, partial pharyngectomy and pharynx reconstruction using arm tissue) they were so lovely, even when I took too much senna (dangerous when also on 600mg MST twice daily - I learned the truth of the old joke about not taking sedatives and laxatives on the same night. Twice.)
God had shown me the best of people through making me dependent on their help for a while.
Bless you all.
Barbara Kambitsch - Santa Cruz, CA
My speech therapist has been the most help
Serge Droogmans - Newcastle under Lyme (UK)
I had a very good surgeon with a very supportive group of experienced nurses. The 7 weeks in the hospital were quite ok given that I was always kept informed of what was going on and etc. Post-surgery though the most supportive and helpful people I dealt with were the speech and language therapists. I could see them anytime I wanted to and they were always ready with advice and supplies.
Jo Anne Lohse – Froedtert, WI
Definitely the Web Whisper on Facebook has been the greatest help for me
Karen White - Arlington, Arlington
My hero is Jayme Menier, my SLP at Virginia Hospital Center.
Because my surgery was planned and executed suddenly (within 2 weeks), I had no idea of what to expect. I had never met or even seen a laryngectomee, and no education materials to be accessed, I was bereft. During my 3 week hospital stay (at a different major hospital), no speech therapy despite that my TEP had been placed during surgery. I went home in despair.
A few days later I met Jayme Menier for my first appointment. She also had another laryngectomee there for me to meet and see there is life after a full laryngectomy.
Through several appointments, Jayme got me into right-sized devices, encouraged my speaking, explained safeguard techniques like keeping the puncture open if the TEP is dislodged, supported me through 7 weeks of radiation treatments, recognized symptoms of possible problems and alerted the ENT surgeon. My stoma was shrinking because of radiation and was reconstructed 15 months after original date.
Because of Jayme, I was able to return to work when radiation was completed. This was 2 months earlier than doctors expected. The job included significant telephone use. She had taught me ways to care for my stoma in the dry environment of an office building so I could work full days.
Before Jayme Menier, I was lost! After working with her, I am very functional!
Tom Heiser – Wheaton, IL
Sarah Kramer , SLP and founder of the New Voice Club at Loyola Hospital Maywood Il.
Ron Mattoon – Seattle, WA
This is a really easy question. WebWhispers was one of the first web sites I found and I signed up immediately. The information I got was a tremendous help. I had a good SLP but when I went in for an appointment, I was often a step ahead of her thanks to WebWhispers. One time I went in and she had things set up to teach about HMEs but I had gotten the information from WebWhispers and I walked in her office wearing one. It seemed then that every time I had an issue, someone was talking about it in the emails or there was information to help in the library. About 10 months after my surgery, we went on the WebWhispers cruise to Alaska. I learned more in that week that I had learned in the previous 10 months. I also got to know some very special friends on the cruise that were Laryngectomies and vendors, and they will be friends for life. I owe a lot to the people of WebWhispers and that is why I wanted to get involved.
Terry Duga – Indianapolis, IN
1995, 1997 Partial and total
I would say WebWhispers. I found it surfing the net looking for information on larynx cancer. WW has been a great source of practical information.
Dee Harris – Cape Town, South Africa
My greatest help are my family and my Speech therapist.
Thanking you for everything.
Ian Coates – Manchester, UK
The person who helped me the most was Janice Llang who is the senior speech therapist at North Manchester hospital in the UK. I had my voice box out almost four years ago.
When I came round from the operation she was there and every day until I was discharged two weeks later. I had three operations to have a voice valve fitted that failed for different reasons.
She never gave up and found a surgeon in Sunderland who was doing the operation in a different way. She filled all the many forms in and eventually got the funding and accompanied me to Sunderland for the operation.
It has been a fantastic success and my wife and I owe Janice everything.
Phil Walrond – Roanoke,VA
Dec 5th 2007
Len Hynds – Newtown, UK
I have nothing but praise for everybody in the medical profession, and so it is very difficult to pick one person from my top surgeon to the lowliest nurse in myself adapting and learning this new way of living.
But I have chosen my late wife in the last five years of her life. I had been a laryngectomee for seven years when she suddenly fell ill and I thought we would lose her. Up until then, I had been rushing into our local hospital, either by ambulance or by car at anything unusual happening to me. But when my wife came out of the hospital, she was wheelchair bound, and I became her registered carer, and I looked after her night and day.
I had to learn to do many things quickly, cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, gardening, and guess what, my own troubles vanished completely, I was too busy looking after her, and she taught me so much, in effect, and my troubles were dealt with quickly by myself.
She taught me self-reliance, and I became an expert at many things, including hairdressing, and I no longer go rushing into the local hospital but deal with it myself if I possibly can.
I owe her a lot.
Speaking Out Question for next month is:
How did you acquire your new voice? Did you have therapy, self-taught,
was it immediate, a long process, and was it as hard or easy as you had hoped?
Thank you for your submissions. Edits are used for length, clarity and to keep comments on subject of the month.
Staff of Speaking Out
Close Encounters of the Important Kind
To whom should I be most grateful? The hospital and medical team and all the technology that got me through surgery? My friends who let me stay with them for months afterwards and others who brought me to and from hospital daily during the six-week radiotherapy period? I’m also eternally grateful to the friends who called regularly to give me a massage; I had never known this could mean so much, but their gentle touch brought much of the joy that friendly chatter would previously have provided. And of course thanks to my mediation teacher who saw no problem in my continuing to teach meditation in the centre he runs; his faith lit up the future for me at a time I could only see darkness. And my family were waiting patiently, sending cards, letters, texts and good wishes, giving me all the time I needed to recover.
I was fairly well recovered and back in my own apartment when I came across WebWhispers. I was amazed and heartened to find that laryngectomees had such a vibrant on-line community. And when Pat invited me to write I felt a surge of confidence suggesting that I could find a useful and stimulating niche for myself even without my voice-box. So WebWhispers has a big place in my heart too.
And then there are the hundreds of chance encounters – like the man I met yesterday. I was out for a walk along the sea-front – a crisp cold November afternoon with the sun making pink streaks across the sky. Geese are gathering in the mud-flats in Dublin Bay now, wintering here to escape the artic darkness. I saw the man and his dog ahead of me as I neared my usual end-point where the promenade widens to a grassy patch at the foot of the causeway to Bull Island. A few years ago, I would have counted this more like the start of the walk, as myself and Cara (the most wonderful dog in the world!) would head down the causeway or walk the mile or two to the end of the island before turning towards home. But Cara departed this life a few months before my laryngectomy and nowadays this first stretch is as much as I can do with ease. Anyway the man and his dog were there at the grassy patch and I waved a brief hello as I sat on a bench to rest.
The dog slipped his lead and came running over to greet me. Although muzzled he was friendly and delighted to have his head scratched, and then presented his neck and back for more of the same. After a while the man followed him explaining that the muzzle was because Toby was sometimes nasty to other dogs but never to people. I didn’t reply as some dogs don’t like the sound of an electrolarynx, but worked overtime nodding and smiling to indicate friendliness and understanding. He then said something about his wife not liking the dog in the house and I guessed he was trying to reassure me this wasn’t a ‘pick-up’ in case that’s why I wouldn’t talk to him. I like that strangers can chat to one another without there being a suspicion of some underlying agenda, so I took out the electrolarynx and made some reply. I had a big woolly scarf around my neck and the man didn’t see the electrolarynx and looked a bit surprised saying “Are you hoarse?” I showed him the EL and explained that I could only speak using this. He looked a bit sad and said “What a shame. Does it make you lonely?” It was something I hadn’t really thought about before and I hesitated. He then went on to say lots of positive things about it being great that I was still able to speak, as if he felt embarrassed about his first question. After a while he and his dog went their way and I started back towards home.
Although it was only momentary, I want to say how grateful I am for our short chat yesterday and the many brief encounters with strangers since laryngectomy. Almost all of them have been positive experiences – reassuring me that it’s OK to be different and to talk strangely. I know my family and friends are saying the same thing by their constant regard and care, but it helps to hear the message from strangers too. And sometimes a stranger can ask an innocent question like “Does it make you lonely?” that a friend would shy away from. It’s not an easy one to think about without getting drawn into self-pity, but it’s certainly worth a try and if I get anywhere I’ll report back!
A final ‘thank you’ then to be living in a society that embraces difference such as our strange and impaired speech. We so easily take that for granted. But it’s only a couple of generations since the horrors of the Third Reich where hundreds of thousands were ‘euthanized’ because of mental or physical handicap. And although that regime was an extreme that we hope will never be repeated, it was facilitated by negative or ambiguous attitudes towards disability in most societies at the time. In my own family, my grandmother would not let her brother visit once she got married. The problem – he had a lame leg. In those days, that was a shame for the whole family – almost as if they had been cursed and would bring bad luck wherever they went. And she didn’t want that shame following into her married life. I’m not blaming her. The negative attitude towards impairment was a societal problem she had to contend with in order to give her children their best start in life. But I’m glad those attitudes have changed.
Even still it’s a huge challenge for societies to be fully welcoming to people who, like us, have some form of physical or mental impairment. But Mark Reichenbacher’s story from last month’s newsletter was really heartening, telling how his firm, Lowes, employs and facilitates himself and others with disability. We shall overcome!
As well as the hospitals, doctors, nurses and all who helped me recover, as well as all my friends and family who played their parts so generously, as well as WebWhispers and my meditation teacher who showed me a niche I could fill, I want to give thanks to the civil rights movement which has changed societal attitudes so effectively in the past few generations. Thanks to them, I am not shunned like my Great-Uncle Dan. Instead strangers chat to me and ask good questions and I get to make friends with their shaggy dogs!
~ This column first appeared here in 2010. We re-printed it last year and a number of you wrote in saying how much you enjoyed Len’s holiday story so it is now a tradition- maybe our own “It’s A Wonderful Life”. ~
A Christmas Story
The onset of these darker evenings, and the thoughts of Christmas which is now only a few weeks away, remind me of those halcyon days of childhood which are so strong in my memory. I was seven and could only dream of wonderful presents. I knew that mum and dad could not afford what I so dearly wanted, that wooden fort in the toyshop window. For two years I had stood outside, just gazing at it, and those marvellous Scots soldiers in their kilts, red coats and white helmets lining the ramparts. The youngest of seven children, with very little money coming into the household, you soon realise that your own personal wants are not even mentioned, so I never told anyone of my heart’s desire.
Let me convey you to our darkened bedroom on the evening of that Christmas Day. My two brothers were asleep. I lay between them in our large bed, and being the youngest, I had to sleep at the opposite end between their feet. Charlie was always on my left, and with him being shorter than Alf, I could get a clear vision over the top of his covered feet, so I always slept on my left side. What a day it had been. I loved Christmas; it was always so exciting. And this had been one of the most thrilling days of my life, and as it was drawing to a close, we had been sent to bed.
I lay there, looking over Charlie's covered feet, at the faint glow at the window which was coming from the gas lamp outside. Even Jack Frost knew it was Christmas. He had made his own decorations on the inside of the glass window panes, as our breath froze into the most wonderful shapes. They were like sparkling diamonds, and I wondered what part of that pattern was my own frozen breath, and if it was forming those intricate close knit patterns because we were brothers.
Before falling asleep, Charlie had blown out our candle, but I could still see my present in the faint glow from the window. It was the wooden fort, with its ramparts lined with those Scottish soldiers. I could not believe it when I had been given it earlier that day. I used to stand outside that toyshop for such long periods just gazing in, that nearby stall holders, wearing mistletoe in their woollen hats, and faces glowing from their acetylene lamps, would nudge each other, and say to me, " You'll get it if you’re a good boy".
Well I was good, or so I thought, but would miserably say to myself, ' I can't even tell them what I want.' The man from the toy shop came out and spoke to me on a few occasions, and I asked him what regiment it was, and after peering in, he said, " Why, they’re the Camerons, a Scottish Regiment and they’re fighting in a country called Afghanistan right now."
My sister Kit had read us several stories written by a man called Kipling, and one story was about those Afghans sweeping down the Khyber Pass to ravage and ransack India, and they had been doing this for hundreds of years. As he spoke, I was with that regiment marching up the pass, kilts swirling, bagpipes playing, returning the fire from the mountainsides.
When Dad had carried that fort into the parlour with the soldiers lining the walls, I could not believe my eyes. They were the Camerons. I was so filled with emotion that I felt tears coming into my eyes, but brushed them away, knowing that boys don't cry like girls, but wondered how on earth did they know what I had wanted. Mum said, " The shopkeeper told us what you wanted, and how you had been so good for business just gazing in. He sent you these as a present." She produced another box with a further 12 Camerons inside.
Dad said, " There was this one who had a leg broken in the shop, and was going to be thrown away. I told the shopkeeper that you might like him." As I took this one, the one with the leg missing, I realised that here was a hero. He had lost his leg fighting those Afghans. I looked at my fort in the faint light and there he was, in a position of honour standing to attention in the uppermost tower.
British troops are still fighting those Afghans all these years later, and now they have their American colleagues with greater fire power to stand beside them.
It was the following summer, the exact circumstances elude me, but during a visit to our home by some relation, I was given a whole sixpence to spend, and I went to the market to buy something I had long coveted. As I crossed the road to enter the market, I saw a man sitting on the pavement with his back resting against the wall. A crutch leant against the wall beside him.
The poor man only had one leg, which was stretched out in front of him, and beside it a soldier’s Glengarry cap which had a few coins in it. The poor man was begging.
As I was passing, he picked up the cap to take out the few coins, and I saw the most beautiful silver badge on it. I read the word Camerons. I put my sixpence in his cap.
Windows 10, Chromebooks, Apple Watches, and Christmas Techie Gift Ideas
By now you have had more than a year to decide to upgrade to Windows 10 or to stay with your older version of Windows or some other operating system. We have seen the final Windows 10 (Anniversary Update) introduced in the late summer of this year...and it will be free to all owners of Windows 7 and 8, including 8.1 beyond the original date Microsoft issued of 29 July 2016. It seems the software giant wants to spread its products to the entire tech world; actually there is another unadvertised reason. The sales of PC's has slowed considerably over the past 2 years and the introduction of Windows 10 is just an opening shot at driving that sales number higher. It seems the hardware makers need to new innovations of Windows 10 to create and expand the capabilities of their brand's products.
A great gift for anyone young or (especially) old is the Google Chromebook. It has everything one needs to surf the web, send and receive emails and to putter in the social networks. It is very affordable by hi-tech standards. Most of the very capable systems are under $300 and can be found for less refurbished or used. I also found a used Chromebook on eBay for $100 and it forced me to buy it. This is a fully functional computer capable of just about everything we are accustomed to in a computer. For those of little or no tech savvy this is your ideal product. Anyone who has used the Chrome web browser already knows how to use a Chromebook. All updates are done in the background and it just works. So far there have been no reported hacker attacks on the chrome OS so there is no need for security software to keep your info safe.
Tech gifts are a variable thing, since one's age, experience and interests must all be considered. There are so many choices of available gifts that the "where" to begin is hard to determine. For the younger folks we need to consider not only ability but cost to maintain the gift once it is given. I wanted my older grandchildren to be able to call me whenever they wanted but with the whole herd of them considered getting individual phones and then paying for the plans brought me back to earth. So after thinking things over I went a much more economical route. I found a refurbished laptop on E-Bay for about $150 with everything they needed for a "real" computer. I set it up for them with Google Hangouts, which allows for messaging and video-phone chats for zero dollars...yup free even! I could have used Skype but I have a preference for Hangouts. This actually worked out pretty well all around since I budget $30 per child and this actually saved me a few bucks.
Beware of online scams this time of year and please keep your clicking safe. Read before you click and be sure of exactly what you're clicking on. Remember it is there to entice you and if you really don't need it or have an interest in it ...let it pass. "Better safe than sorry"
Ten Stupid Things You Can Do To Mess Up Your Computer
We have all been there ...pushed a button too soon...not paid attention to the whole question...use our laptop without an anti-virus software. Well, Mr. Bob Rankin has put together a few reminders for us all to keep our PC's, laptops and tablets running smoothly. Just follow the link to read more:
And lest we forget "what we have works just fine...do you really need to change". I struggle with this each time a new innovation is introduced I have to restrain myself from thinking I "really need that". Truth is I don't, but I still need to remind myself. Dave Taylor's newsletter had an article that perfectly summarizes my feelings on waiting to buy the newest technologies.
The really big news for this time of year was the decline for orders of the Apple Watch. Another article from Dave's newsletter and written by Judy Novotny (who I think is an excellent tech journalist)
Judy will tell you all about her experience buying her Apple Sport Watch and her decision to forestall upgrading the watchband for another $249...my my...
Just a bit of music in memory of the composer, Mr. Leonard Cohen!
And just to compare it to other artists’ versions
And the real tear-jerker
For those of you who have lost the Cheat Sheet for Windows keyboard shortcuts here is a link to an article that will get you back in the saddle:
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