Opinion

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

I was thinking recently about how we live in such a technological society these days and how something that is cutting edge one day quickly becomes outdated the next.
I remember when battery-operated, hand-held calculators seemed so advanced. Suddenly we could do all sorts of amazing mathematical calculations on these little gadgets that fit in the palm of our hands.
Wow! Just about anyone could afford one of these. This was high-tech stuff indeed.
Somewhere around that time, everyone and his brother started having CB radios installed in their vehicles, pictured above right. Each CB owner had to have a “handle”, which was like an identifying name. Some were straightforward, and some were just plain funny. Almost overnight we all became truckers.
Except me. By the time I got around to considering installing a CB of my own, the fad seemed to be over. Make that “Over and out”.
In the late 1980s, car phones appeared on the scene. These weren’t cell phones – that was still a good way off.
Car phones had to be installed in a vehicle and that wasn’t cheap. Neither were the phones. I remember because we gave our son one for his birthday, with the understanding that he was responsible for the monthly bill for this gift.
I have to admit there were some advantages to our son having a car phone. If he was going to be coming home late, he had no excuse for not calling to let us know. Even better, if he didn’t call, I needn’t hesitate to call him. And a few times I did just that.
Occasionally, I had to borrow his car. There I was, the typical soccer mom, cruising Palmer Highway in Texas City in a red Camaro, calling up my friends. And that, as they now say, was just how I rolled. Literally.
But, several years later, cell phones appeared on the scene and car phones were out of date – so yesterday! Remember how big those first cell phones were? But we all thought they were the greatest invention since sliced bread. We were no longer tethered to our car if we wanted to make a call while away from home.
The new cellular phones were much cheaper that those built-in car phones and could be used anywhere there was a cell tower. Who cared how clunky they were?
All you could do with them at that time was make telephone calls, but who cared? We were once again using cutting-edge technology. Right up until the smart phones came out.
Now we have iPhones and droid phones. You can get directions to where you’re going, text other folks, take photos, check the internet and talk to Siri – or whoever your phone’s computer is. You can send e-mails, check the weather or the stock market, play games and – are you ready for this one? – use the built-in calculator!
That’s right. We are right back to a hand-held calculator just like we had in the 1980s. But, this time, it comes with all sorts of bells and whistles and costs a bunch of money. Progress can be a mixed blessing.
Contact Nicky De Lange at info@thepostnewspaper.net.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Coming home from vacation with a few souvenirs is nothing unusual. Unless the souvenirs aren’t your run-of-the-mill remembrances of a visit to some tourist spot. That best describes what I brought home from our trip to New Orleans last week.
I came home with four stitches above my left eye, some bruises and an impending shiner.
Did this really happen? Would I make up a story like this? I don’t have that much imagination.
The worst part of this tale was that it happened in the French quarter. We’d gone to Café du Monde on Saturday morning with our son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.
We had a wonderful time scarfing down beignets with tons of powdered sugar, then wandered around the quarter. Finally, we parted company to head for the parking lots where we’d left our vehicles.
Just as my spouse and I were a few feet from the lot, I tripped over my own feet (graceful as ever) and slammed head first into the sidewalk. It must have been a spectacular sight because, by the time I tried to sit up, a crowd had gathered.
I tried to brush off all the kind concern I was receiving, saying I was just fine. But when I put my hand up to my face and it came away covered in blood, I knew I had a slight problem. And I was extremely embarrassed.
I hate to admit it but my first thought was: “Oh, no, they’ll think I fell down because I’m old!” (I’m not really old, but you know how people think anyone over 60 has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.)
My second, equally horrifying thought was: “They’ll think I’m drunk!” Remember this happened in the French quarter.
I have to admit I was more worried that people would think I was old than that they’d think I was drunk. Shallow? You betcha. And also vain.

10977-band-aid-sticker-s
A kind lady, a nurse, stopped, helped mop me up and bandaged my head. Then I overheard a bystander ask: “Should I call an ambulance?”
To my horror, I heard myself say: “Do you know what an ambulance costs???” (Heaven forbid I have to pay $1,000 for a ride to the ER!)
My spouse and the nurse’s husband got me on my feet. The nurse said I really needed to have “that gash” on my face looked at.
Gash? Oh, wonderful. And on a summer Saturday in New Orleans? Good luck with that.
My husband spent the next half hour insisting I go to the ER and off we went on our quest. We drove all over before going to his sister’s house for directions.
I have to say that was the best ER care I’ve ever gotten. A few minutes’ wait and four pages of forms later, I had a terrific doctor saying: “Yes, you really do need stitches.”
A little lidocaine, some skillful sewing and one tetanus shot later, we  headed back to have dinner with family.
Because our grandkids (18 months and three years old) would be there, I got the clinic to put a brightly colored band-aid over my stitches so they wouldn’t think Nana was seriously hurt.
I got to choose between Tweety Bird and hot pink. I’ve never liked that annoying bird, so I opted for pink.
Did I mention it went with my shirt very nicely? I know how to accessorize.
So, if you see me looking like I’ve been in a fight, just remember that I won, not the sidewalk.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

As promised last week, today’s column will wrap up our tour of Texas City’s Moore Memorial library and its 2015 summer reading program.
This year, the library is opening a brand-new, first-time-ever program for adults. Finally, we get to join in on the fun that the kids have been having for decades.
All you have to do is drop by the library, which is next to city hall on Ninth Avenue, and go to the reference desk. There you’ll pick up your summer reading log.
The rest is easy. You just jot down the title of the books you read and the number of hours you spend reading them.
When you’ve completed your personal log, you just turn it in, and the library will post a circle with your initials in it on its Sir-Read-A-Lot board, which is next to its reference desk. What better way to enjoy some good books and inspire younger readers to do the same?
And, yes, I have got my log and intend to do exactly that.
Now for the really fun part of the adult reading program. Or, as I love to say, “But wait – there’s more!”
This summer, the library, above right, is challenging adult readers to find out more about the history of their city. All you have to do is use information you can access from the library’s local-history websites to navigate through an online scavenger hunt.
By tracking down clues, you’ll learn more about Texas City’s history and you could even win a free book when you complete your hunt. The book is Texas City: Images Of The 20th Century by Collier Campbell & Susie Moncla.

Moore Library front Photo by Michael Durisseau

Did I mention that this and all the other Moore Memorial summer reading programs are free?
For more information on any of the programs, call the library’s circulation desk at 409-643-5977.
Now, I bet you thought we were through at  the library. Not so fast there.
Do you know about Texas City Reads? Like Galveston and other cities, Texas City has its own citizens’ reading program and its book for 2015 is The Martian by Andy Weir. It’s the story of one man marooned on Mars, struggling against astronomical odds to survive.
Weir, a first-time author, originally self-published his work as an e-book, putting each chapter up on his website at no charge to tits readers. He finally sold it for 99 cents a book on Amazon.com.
The book sold more than 30,000 copies in less than three months. After that, it was sold in several formats in an expanded version. Eventually, in 2014, The Martian wound up on many best-fiction lists and now it is the Texas City Reads book selection.
The library has several copies available for checkout at its circulation desk. Why not give it a try? Then you can also enter it on your reading log and earn credit for the time you spend reading it.
Support your local library and expand your horizons at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

The topic of my column last week was things to do during the summer here in Galveston County. One of the activities I highly recommended was local libraries’ summer reading programs. It’s been a lo-o-ong time since my son took part in one but I signed him up every summer from first grade until junior high.
Today I want to share more information about Texas City’s Moore Memorial public library’s 2015 summer activities because things have really expanded since that era. It’s no longer limited to elementary-school children. Today, this library also offers a program for teenagers.
When you hear what’s planned for our teens, you might be jealous and want to pass yourself off as a much younger person.
For instance, 12-year-olds and teens up to 18 can sign up for a program tomorrow, Thursday, called How To Survive A Dystopia. It’s a program aimed at young people who are fans of the Hunger Games, Divergent and a lot of other Dystopia books. They’ll get to compete to live in a live-action dystopia game and win prizes.
But, as they say on all those infomercials, there’s more! Teenagers can also opt for the library’s DIY tech class. There, on July 9, they’ll learn to make their own flashlights, projectors, electromagnets and more. (Now, if some one could just teach them to make their own beds…)
And there will be a really interesting program on July 25 about making super short films. How cool is that?
Then, on July 23, there’ll be a crazy quiz in which the teens can find answers to seriously silly questions and perform ridiculous stunts to win prizes and bragging rights.
So far, all the program’s I’ve mentioned will run from 2:00-4:00pm but what about all those other Thursdays – June 18, July 2, July 16 and July 30? There will be craft programs, with materials supplied by the library, from 2:00-3:00pm on those dates – the perfect activity for the teen with creative talent.
And then there are the Fridays from this week until August 7. The library will host gaming afternoons in its Holland meeting room, with games it says teens will have never played before. Here’s a sample of just a few: The Phantom Society, Survive!, Forbidden Island and several other intriguing board games.
For budding builders who like robots, the library will offer Lego Mindstorms for 13-17-year-olds. The library will supply the kits and the teens, working in teams of two, can build, program and test their robots in a series of challenges.
This activity has an already-filled four-part class in June, but it will be repeated in July. Teens who want to participate must sign up and the session is limited to 10 spots. Sign-up is open throughout June, so call the library’s reference desk at 409-643-5977 for more information.
Last but not least, there will be a teen-scene reading club. You can also call the reference desk for details about it.
I wanted to tell you all about the library’s adult summer library programs but I’m running out of space. I’ll try to get it into next week’s column. If you can’t wait that long, drop by the library to sign up or call those poor reference librarians, the ones you call for the above-mentioned teen activities.
In between checking out books and movies and answering all kinds of questions (some of which you would not believe!), I’m sure they’ll be glad to fill you in on the adult program.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki           Nicky De Lange

It’s June. That’s officially summer in my book.
This is Texas, after all. It will only get hotter and more humid in the next few months. If that doesn’t make it summer, I don’t know what does.
And, with summer’s arrival, we have all sorts of things to look forward to. For parents, that means finding ways to keep kids busy, out of trouble and entertained.
Luckily for the folks who live in Texas City, that’s not such a hard thing to do. Even though my son is grown up now and has two children of his own, I still remember all the things I found to keep him from getting bored each summer.
The first thing I did, once he learned to read, was sign him up for Moore Memorial library’s summer reading program. What a blessing that was! Many years later, the library is still coming up with all sorts of ways to entertain children as well as get them to enjoy reading.
I definitely owe my sanity – such as it is – to our local library for keeping my youngster busy and giving me a badly needed break every summer. And, yes, he does enjoy reading to this day.
One of my favorite ways to fill those long summer days was to pack up a picnic lunch and some beach toys and head out to the Texas City dike with my son, another mom and her children.

Moore libraryMoore Memorial Public Library courtesy photo

We’d go out to the far end of the dike, where there was a nice, sandy beach where vehicles were prohibited. We’d drag out lawn chairs, blankets, pails and shovels and spend a few hours relaxing. Of course, being moms, we knew to keep an eagle eye on our offspring.
The worst danger out there was when a ship passed by the end of the dike. This always caused the water to go rushing out, then come flooding back in. To this day, my son remembers the rule “when I say ‘ship’, you be way up here by me!” We all knew about the undertow the ships created even though they were way out to sea.
The best thing about spending those hours on the dike was that the kids always came home tired out and promptly crashed for a nice long nap. Fresh air, exercise, sunshine – the secret formula for getting a nice mid-day break for a parent.
Another great thing each summer was the parks and recreation department’s summer sports-camp program. The children spent a week working on a sport they liked or wanted to try out, with plenty of supervision. Again, they usually came home pretty tired out. And they weren’t complaining: “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do!”
All of these activities still exist, not just in Texas City but in other areas of Galveston County too. Many of them, like the library reading programs, are free. You just have to ask around to find out about them.
Call your chamber of commerce, city hall, local library or recreation center. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at all the things there are for kids to do during summer vacation.
Not to mention it’s an investment in saving your own sanity.