A Dollar Fifty. All For a Dollar Fifty.

Posted by Kathy on November 2nd, 2015

TOLLBOOTH-BASKETI just got back from a whirlwind weekend visit with my friends Julia, of the we-desperately-miss I Do Things blog, and Lin, of Duck and Wheel with String. So fun!!

I traveled with my sister Ann, of the We Can Travel Everywhere with GPS and a Rental Car philosophy.

It rained buckets all day Saturday, so we decided we’d at least get some walking in by going to an outlet mall with Julia and her hilarious and delightful boyfriend, Steve. We took separate cars due to a switcheroo we planned later in the evening.

Ann and I hopped out on the highway and all went well until we hit a toll booth along the way. A toll booth without an attendant and that required exact change. Change we did not have.

I just want to say here that we hate Illinois for all their toll booths. I thought Jersey was bad. It felt like we were paying tolls every other mile. Illinois, we find you very annoying and we’re never coming back.

OK, so we’re sitting at the coin basket, which is waiting for us to hurl six quarters into it. We had just four.

We’re digging in every possible nook and cranny of our purses for extra change, but none is materializing.

Meanwhile, I look over at a woman in a nearby lane who is also doing the holy shit, why isn’t there an attendant here I don’t have any money except bills is that a quarter on the floor oh my God this is stressful routine.

I decide I would open the car door and wave around a dollar bill in the hopes that nearby drivers would have enough quarters to make change for me so we can get on our way. Quarters? Quarters? Anyone got quarters?

I look behind us and there is a man in a pickup truck losing his mind that we are not moving. He is actively screaming at us and waving his arms all around. I’m relieved he’s not waving a gun.

I quickly get back to the scrounging for quarters, cursing Illinois procedure, while Road Rage guy is having his meltdown. I again wave a dollar bill out the window to indicate “I don’t have quarters, I only have this bill, can’t you see????”

I hear the guy scream “Pay it online! Pay it online!” and we finally decide it’s our only option. We are devastated. We are Catholic. We are rule followers. We are about to blow through a toll without paying the required dollar fifty. Dear God, please forgive us and have mercy on our souls.

We reluctantly gun it past the stop light, knowing we are going to hell for our scofflaw behavior and now instantly worry that cops will pull us over, we’ll get an extra fine from the car rental company and that Ann’s credit card will get charged not only for the $1.50 toll we skipped, but for every toll along the parkway because how else will they know where we got on and off? FYI, Catholics’ brains cannot function in any other way.

We eventually get to the outlet mall and meet up with our friends and the first thing we blurt out, because it’s the most important thing in our honest, rule-following lives right now, is “We didn’t pay a $1.50 toll!!!!” Julia and Steve care nothing in the least.

“Don’t pay it. People skip tolls all the time. They can’t track all of the people who do it. You’re crazy for worrying about it,” Steve says.

But worry we do. We are a hand-wringing, anxiety-ridden sort of people, convinced Ann’s going to jail because of our criminality.

So the next day, we set out to make right on the toll.

We use my iPad to get to the Illinois toll website because I can use VPN on it and we want to make sure the transaction is secure. We back track through the GPS directions to find the toll we missed and provide all the rental car information, along with the time that we committed our crime.

Because we are still deathly afraid that Hertz Car Rental is going to find out what we did, we document payment of the toll in no less than four different ways: sending ourselves an email link of payment, taking a picture of the iPad payment with Ann’s other iPad, taking a picture of the iPad payment with Ann’s iPhone, and ensuring she has an email alert of her credit card payment of the toll.

We have rock-solid proof of payment now and if Hertz gets notified by the State of Illinois that we failed to pay one dollar and fifty cents at a toll, we have ample proof that we did and we can sleep well knowing our parents raised us right and we are not actually going to hell now.

The guy behind us at the toll booth? He is going to hell. And his hell will consist of him having the correct change and perpetually being stuck behind out-of-towners who don’t. Serves him right.

No, Kathy, That’s Not a Tumor

Posted by Kathy on September 25th, 2015

250px-Xiphoid_process_frontalHow well do you know your own body? I don’t mean the stuff you can actually see, like fingers and toes.

I mean the stuff lurking inside.

For the last few months, I’ve noticed a “thing” at the top of my rib cage, under the skin, that I could only guess was a golf ball-sized tumor. Because that’s what you always think weird new things are that show up on your body.

I’d notice it after a shower when I raised my arms to put on deodorant.

Hmmm. Right. Probably a tumor and I’m dying.

If you’re like me, and you think you have a tumor and you’re dying, what do you do? Well, you wait months thinking the tumor will just go away.

Then when it doesn’t, you turn to Dr. Google.

You enter things like “What’s that knob above your rib cage?” Or, “What organs are protected by the rib cage?” Or, if you think Dr. Google will understand your meaningless symptom, you ask “Do I have a tumor? It’s golf ball-sized. Am I dying?”

You will, of course, get no results you want to read because they’re all about people with actual tumors and how they found them and then you get all sweaty and nervous and end your relationship with Dr. Google immediately.

Then after weeks of continuing to ignore it, you finally have a wellness visit with your doctor.

I went yesterday.

“So, doctor, I have this thing. It’s probably a tumor. You’re going to tell me I should have come in sooner for this and that because I didn’t, I am now actively dying from it. Here, have a look-see.”

I took off my shirt and bra and raised my hands over my head.

“See it? Tumor, right?”

He felt around. I waited for the ax to drop.

“No, Kathy. That’s your Xiphoid process.”

“The Xiphoid what?”

“Everyone has one. Here, feel mine.”

My doctor gestured to the same area above his rib cage where my knobby thing is located and he asked me to press it. His was harder than mine. He probably has a tumor.

He went on to call up the Xiphoid process on the Internet and show me pictures. In a nutshell, the Xiphoid process is a small cartilaginous extension of the lower part of the sternum which is usually ossified in the adult human (which means it creates new bone over time).


I then asked my doctor when he goes out to happy hour with his doctor friends to please not mention the “stupid patient who came in today and doesn’t know jack about her body.” But he probably will and he probably should because hell, I would.

The only reason why I figure I noticed this now is because I’ve lost over 50 pounds in the last six months and I’m guessing my Xiphoid process had previously been concealed by a thick layer of fatty fat.

So, folks, you have stuff in your body you may not know about. And you have a Xiphoid process that you might want to poke around for just for fun. Do not be alarmed. When you find it, it’s not a tumor. Probably not.

Admirable or Insulting?

Posted by Kathy on September 21st, 2015

So today as I was changing clothes after my lunch time walk, I noticed this as I was slipping on a new pair of jeans I bought this weekend.

Right there on the inner waist band is a declaration from Lee Jeans that I am beautiful.

You are Beautiful Lee Jeans

At first I was like “Aw, that’s nice.”

And then I was like “Waaaaaitttt a minute.”

I’m not inclined to appreciate my jeans company tossing me compliments every time I put my pants on.

I’m more inclined to be annoyed that it’s basically a marketing ploy to make me feel good about myself, and perhaps by extension, the company that thinks I’m beautiful. You know, so I buy more jeans that love me.

I’m onto you, Lee!

And question – did they put these cutesy reminders in the waist bands of mens jeans, I wonder? Like, “You’re one handsome man!”

Do men need a reminder how wonderful they are, or just insecure women who hate trying on jeans and having them not fit right and then feel like crap about themselves? What’s the message to woman here?

Let’s have it. Tell me how you feel about “You are beautiful” in the comments. Love it or hate it?

Spotted the Coolest Technology Today

Posted by Kathy on September 16th, 2015

iphoneEvery day at lunch, I take a 2.5 mile walk through campus at the university where I work.

It’s especially hectic right at the Noon hour when classes let out and students spill out from every building and converge on every square inch of sidewalks, streets and walkways.

Often, I’m battling trying to either pass slow walkers or not get run over by students, heads bowed and oblivious, reading their smartphones.

Ugh. Smartphone walkers. They’re the worst!

Today I noticed one student in particular who was walking along a pathway, reading from a very different kind of device. So cool!

You can hold it in one hand or two. In his case, he was slowly walking with it in his left hand.

The device opens fairly flatish and his was medium-sized, on the order of an iPad.

He walked along reading it and then when he needed to advance through the material, he swiped his right hand along the right half of the device and part of it physically moved! Came right up off the device and covered the material on the left side.

It was amazing. It didn’t appear to need batteries and he didn’t connect ear buds to it.

He just keep reading it and turning it and enjoying it. It didn’t make a sound. Didn’t ring. Didn’t beep.

It just displayed non-illuminated words permanently affixed to what I assume to be paper.

That’s right. This student was actually reading a good, old-fashioned book and it made my heart sing.

Thank you, random student, for reminding the world that some things can still be engrossing, yet not one bit digital.

How refreshing!

I’m Convinced All Product Designers Are in Their 20s With Perfect Vision

Posted by Kathy on September 14th, 2015

Huge rant on the way. Buckle up.

A couple weeks ago I turned 50 and as a sort of gag gift/serious gift, my sister Marlene gave me a magnifying glass.

Har har. You’re old and blind as a bat. But you know what? I am and the gift is extremely helpful. I used it twice at work the following week and then again today.


Because people who design product packaging all have perfect vision and I’m fed up with how hard it is to read anything.

Ingredients on food, instructions on medicine bottles, expiration dates and product codes. How is anyone over my age supposed to read important information without a magnifying glass?

By the way, isn’t it pretty?


I used it last week to get serial numbers from the backs of computers and today to read an expiration date on a cup of yogurt.


Why on God’s green earth is it helpful to make everything tiny? On the Dell computer product label, they save, what? One one-hundredth of a cent on ink and making the label smaller?

On the yogurt label, the designers print the expiration date in blue on purple background. Black on white, people. Black on white.

I want to be invited to a focus group on how to make packaging easier on the eyes of older people. But nobody cares about us. No one thinks how they can develop and produce things with universal design in mind so that everyone can use a product or device, disability or not, with ease. What’s the harm in doing so?

The reason I had to determine whether my yogurt was expired was because I opened the container and it was all liquidy and weird.

Next time, if I can’t read the label, I’ll just eat it anyway, get sick and wind up in the ER, where I’ll be given prescriptions when I leave that I also won’t be able to read. How do the elderly get their meds straight if they have to read them? OMG!!!!! Someone fix the problem!!

[/rant over] Carry on.