2021-07-01 The One To My Ex About Actions and Consequences

To admit you feel as though you want revenge is to admit to being human. That’s my excuse. I’m human and therefore flawed in all the miraculous ways human beings are. It’s a miracle that we are here at all— stranded on this spiral arm of stars. 

I’m flawed for feeling as though I’m enjoying a version of revenge served not by my own hand but the hand of fate which is, indeed, the sweetest kind. A dish best served not only cold, but guiltless and stringless. 

That I was a victim of your circumstance is circumstantial when so many years have passed. But we are all victims of our own circumstance, dear. Who would not agree? 

Scratch that. You probably would not agree—the consummate devil’s advocate in you has been nothing but consistent. But that was just a fraction of our fractured past. A piece of glass not worth looking at most days. But it’s on my mind today. 

Rewind a few days when I had to be the go-between in a disagreement you were having with our son. Except it was more of a one sided argument that you started when you didn’t like something he did. You just wanted to rant and lecture without any thought about the consequence or end.

The irony in it is that his behavior is learned behavior. Behavior he picked up from you. How many times have I tried to communicate with you only to be “ghosted”? So it’s not a surprise when you reach out to him and he ignores you. 

More irony in that you say he can’t just do what he wants when he wants and that there are consequences to his actions. Because that’s all you have ever done in your life—whatever you want regardless of the consequences. Quite literally.

You tried to pull me in and play the “unified parent” card for “his own good.” It’s bullshit. I’m not playing. 

You call me an enabler. You pigeonhole our son and predict his future to fit your own agenda. You say he’s a manipulator who plays us against each other. You say he hides from the world because he’s lazy and lacks confidence. I say, “sounds familiar.” 

For as much as he’s like you, he’s also like me. An introverted kid who keeps to himself and stays in his room doing what he enjoys most. He’s not motivated by your approach. He’s just a teenager who is vulnerable, impressionable, and probably lonely. To which I say, aren’t we all? 

Last night I scrolled through my text messages to find my last message to you, which you never replied to (two days old now). You had just finished ranting and preaching about “social contracts” and the courtesy of responding to text messages and then you undercut your own point by not responding to my attempt to communicate some sort of a plan to get our son more active. Typical.

Of course I know we both want what’s best for our son but in this case, I don’t happen to agree with you about what that is or how to achieve it. 

You hardly ever see your daughter and I wonder if you realize why that is. You burn bridges and then throw your hands in the air and wonder why people don’t come back to you. 

I began this writing about revenge. Or something that feels like revenge. When in actuality all I’m really doing is enjoying my life and the positive, open, and caring relationships in my life. Revenge implies I have something spiteful to get back at you for. 

For many years I held it against you that so many years of my life were wasted trying to make something out of us. I’ve since come to realize that none of it was wasted and that time is short and all we can ever really do is make the most of what we have been given. This is exactly what drives me now. 

Stop burning and start building. Or don’t. It’s your life and your relationships with your children. 

The only question for me now is whether I let this incident go, or say something more to try and get through to you? For your own good. For theirs. I’m just not sure. 

Waiting and watching 👀,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-30 List Making Foolishness!… ✅✅✅

It’s the last day of the month. This month I did something I haven’t done in a good long time and that was to put my monthly goals on the whiteboard in my office. In truth I only did it about a week ago in an attempt to reboot my productivity with regard to longer term goals. There are things I do every day or every week and for that I use my paper planner but some things I aspire to do are bigger or “one and done” and it helps to make a list so I don’t forget. 

Well, most things I won’t forget because if they are important they will stay in my brain so it’s maybe more about prioritizing. Oh, and also about the feels I get when I get to cross things off. 

It’s probably ridiculous but I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done in June and really wanted to “see” that. Now the real truth comes out. I did my to-do list and THEN wrote down the list so I could feel good about how much got done. 😜

But.. it also made me look ahead to July and put some forethought into that list. Obviously since it’s the last day of the month there are some things that did not get done and those just carry over but what else might I want to focus on for the month? I’ve got goals for the lit mag, goals for my personal writing endeavors, house projects, and friends on holiday for the summer who I want to spend some quality time with. 

My July list looks really ambitious and I actually ran out of room on the whiteboard. Might have gone a little overboard, but as I said the priorities are key and that will get sorted out fairly soon. I’m really looking forward to July actually. 

I believe the reason I put this monthly “accounting” on pause for so long is because I was trying to dial things back and be kind to myself with regards to expectations for myself. I have a history of over-committing and that always ends in me feeling badly for not putting the proper effort into a task. 

2020 was rough, you know, and I had finally come to terms with the fact that I needed more time to just live and focus on my family and our daily needs. Now I’m finally feeling much better about the state of the world and it’s evident in my better sleep and more consistent good moods. 

I still have to be careful and not over commit, but if I take a day I have a fair amount of free time and visit my list, it will feel great to start picking those things off. One by one. 

Today I have almost the whole “work” day to myself to get things done and I’ve got a high hopes about what I’ll be able to accomplish. And still have time to get in my steps and cardio. 

Besides my regular daily chores, I want to work on the lit mag, run a few errands, and then maybe figure out what else I can knock off that list (and it’s not even July yet!). We’ll see how that turns out.

I guess today’s post is all about lists, to-dos, and future plans. I suppose it’s time now to stop writing and start doing or I’ll never get it all done. 😜 ✅✅✅

Cheers to Getting It All Done,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-28 Loneliness

Today’s poem of the day from the Paris Review is about loneliness. Today’s heartache is not knowing how to help my daughter navigate her loneliness. 

It’s a staunch truth that though we may be surrounded by people—home, work, school— we can still be suffering from loneliness. A longing to be with our person or persons. Someone who has dedicated their precious time and space to listening to us. To hearing us, holding us, and to being present in those difficult moments. 

But not just difficult moments. Laughter is so important too and what would life be without someone who makes you laugh or laughs with you, sometimes rolling on the floor with tears streaming down cheeks, uncontrollably? Without someone to smile with, life would be a train on a track rolling through a dark tunnel. No sun, no rain, just a cold dark void. 

At 1:30am my phone rings. I know before I look that it’s her. Call it a mother’s instinct, call it experience. It’s a call that hurts my heart and I’m ready when I answer. “Yes, I will come to your room.” 

I shuffle up the stairs and she’s sitting on the edge of her bed in tears. The first thing she says is that she needs a hug but I’m already by her side with my arm around her. She’s crying so hard she can’t breathe. At that moment I’m not sure what triggered it, but it doesn’t matter. I hold her tighter. 

We sit that way on the edge of her bed for a while, not saying anything. And then finally I break the silence by asking what has happened. She tells me and again, I’m not surprised. 

Her best friend is a shitty friend. She only has one and has suffered from a long string of terrible, undependable, aloof, or thoughtless friends. People that she’s put her trust in and they’ve broken her heart, disappointed and abandoned her. She’s been stranded alone so often she has developed a fear and a kind of neediness that feels to me to be atypical for a girl her age. 

The advice or wisdom some might offer is that it’s just a phase and that she’ll meet other friends and it will be wonderful. And though I might believe that too, I can’t let those words exit my mouth in front of her. I understand her. 

She’s an introvert and has a tough time meeting new people. She doesn’t feel comfortable speaking in a group and doesn’t seek out new friends. She’s trapped in a bubble. I understand her. 

That’s my message. I hold her and just try to reinforce that she’s not alone. That I’m here to listen, to talk, and that I will not abandon her. 

I am hopeful that when she goes back to college this fall her new dorm mates will be nice girls who she can connect with. I hope she meets people in her classes and that her world gets a little bigger. It’s lonely living in a bubble and it’s not natural. And I hope she’s open to it too and pushes herself to be outside her comfort zone a little bit. I want to promise her it will be worth it, but I can’t make that promise. 

We sat and talked for about an hour and then laid down and talked some more. She shared her thoughts and feelings and I listened. Then I shared some of my own life experiences so she knows she’s not alone. At about 3:15am I went back to my own bed because I knew she had to get up at 8 for work. 

This morning she came down the stairs, her normal grumpy morning mood tempered a little as she asked for some ibuprofen for her cramps. Yeah, the apple doesn’t fall far. 

I’m not terribly inspired by the poem about loneliness, but it feels very accurate. I spent many years feeling that. I’m empathetic but it’s so much worse because I’m her mom and I hate that she’s hurting. You want to protect your children, you know, shield them from the rough times but you can’t. We all have them. All we can really do is be there. 

We’re going to dinner tonight, just the two of us. Hopefully we can have a good conversation and I can get to a place with her that she will be open to the advice I have to offer. 

So starts a new week. Not exactly the start I was hoping for, but there it is. 

Be kind to each other,

~Miss SugarCookie

PS. Today’s daily poem from the Paris Review:

Though It Looks Like a Throat It Is Not
by Patricia Goedicke
Issue no. 65 (Spring 1976)

The shape of loneliness is a hole
By definition, to be filled.

At the outer edges of the hole
The lizard of jealousy sits
Licking his cold lips

For the shape of loneliness is a hole
With teeth on either side.

In the middle of everyone’s body
Like an empty house, like a coffin

Though it looks like a throat it is not‚
Though it looks like a cunt it is not,

Nothing glows in it but heartburn‚
Nothing lives in it but hot air‚
Gulps of it, rushing through the passages

Occasionally a sigh hurtles through it
Like the roar of a buffalo in a wind tunnel

So that the thin shell of self pity all around it
Shivers a little, and whines

So that it develops a red nose
Complaining to itself, and muttering
Gradually its conversations become more boring

So that everyone walks right by it without looking,
Nobody even bothers to fall in it
By accident,

Tears water it, profusely
Eventually sadness swamps everything,

Out there among the stars
And the light years between stars

Even the last tiny pinprick of fire at the bottom
Soggy as a landslide sloughs away
To the other side of space

For the shape of loneliness is a hole
Without any edges, finally

The entire universe whistles through it.

2021-06-27 Super Solo Sunday Status

Today I’m getting a half day all to myself. My man has gone “picking” with his bro at a farm in Seward Nebraska. I hadn’t heard of picking until he Introduced me to the concept and cited the show American pickers as an example.

Jim is big into finding “treasure” at antique stores and estate sales and more specifically that which has some local significance to Omaha and Nebraska (and Iowa). 

This year we went to an event called “Junk Stock” in search of old road signs to adorn our game room walls. He found some but also met a woman who lives out in Seward Nebraska whose husband is a scrap metal worker and brings home all kinds of discarded signs, old farm equipment, and other various machines. 

So today they are taking a trip out to their farm to see what they can find. Which leaves me with about a half day to do whatever I want. 

Sure, there are 4 teenagers here but they are either going to work or sleeping in because it’s Sunday. My first order of business?…

Treating myself to an extra long session on the treadmill. Hell, I might even go for a solo bike ride too. Get ALL the exercise I want and probably still have time enough to enjoy lounging on the couch with my cats. 

Speaking of cats… we have a 5th cat this week because we’re cat sitting for my friend M, who is on vacation this week. Our new fluffy friend is Stormy and he’s a very lovey, fluffy friend. His breed is Norwegian Forrest Cat and he is big with super long fur including the most gorgeous mane which makes him look like a lion, except his fur is dark grey with a little white on his paws.

Stormy loves people but he’s a very sensitive soul who doesn’t like change. He spent most of the day yesterday under the bed in his “all inclusive” bedroom. The door is closed and we’re not introducing the other cats so he doesn’t have too much “new” to deal with. He finally came out from under the bed at about 10pm (I think to use the litter box) and this morning he came out right away to greet me and get some love. 

He’s so pretty and all the kids think he’s great. You know we are a household of crazy cat people.. it’s not just me and Jim. All 4 kids love all the cats so much. I’m pretty sure we all like the cats more than we like each other.. ha! So Stormy has a great home away from home here. 🐱💕🏰

In other news, I’m excited to report I’ve got three new poems forthcoming with three different publications. Two were originally drafted during the advanced poetry studio class I took at UNO and the third is one of my newer “response” poems. 

When I first had the epiphany of writing a series of poems that were responses to other poems, I knew I would have to write a lot of poems in order to amass a collection that works as a unified body of work. The Universe knows there are a million poems out in the wild that are available both in print and online, the trick is finding ones that really speak to me enough to spark a response. 

Thus far I think I’ve only written six and my focus lately has been revising and submitting and I haven’t been inspired to write anything new. I’ve actually gone bananas submitting these six and the one being published in July is the first to get picked up. Coincidentally, the title of that poem is “Bananas”. 😜

Two of the others I believed to be really strong but have lost a little of that confidence with the myriad of rejections I’ve received. Two others are prose poems that I feel are not as good but keep working on them and sending out. The final one is also relatively new and frankly the only viable poem I’ve written so far this year (I think) and I’m in love with it and submitted it to like 25 places. If it gets picked up, my work will be cut out for me in the way of withdrawing all those subs. 

It would be nice to write a few new things that have some merit, but what can I say.. if I’m not feeling it.. I can’t force it. Maybe today will be the day for that too. 

On that note, I suppose it’s time to read my three daily poems and see what the Universe thinks I need to think about today with my copious amounts of free time. 💚💛🧡❤️

With Peace and Love and Peanut Butter Toast, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-26 After the Storm there is Calm

I’ve once again navigated the sea of emotions my monthly cycle often laps over me in waves. Gritting my teeth through the frustration of the daily grind, the longing for peace and stillness, and anger when little pricks press into my skin like poorly executed acupuncture. 

My mantra? “Wait a few days and see what washes back out to sea.” 

In these moments, my mental accounting is both a blessing and a curse. Waking in the wee hours with unnecessary thoughts on repeat or awake and lacking focus, yet still surprisingly productive, flush with new ideas, and tapping into spaces in my psyche that are otherwise unreachable. 

I’m on the other side of it now and able to look back and recognize the waves that were / are nothing more than ripples in the tide pool—concentric circles created by pebbles tossed in by life. I can see them clearly now for what they are and decide what attention should be required, which is often none. I let it go and move on. 

***

I now have three poems in my daily in-box and today I’m very unimpressed and uninspired. 

I’ve tried to write a couple of poems this week—force myself to begin and just don’t have it. I’ve resorted to exercises and prompts and tricks and somehow those poems never hold the same energy for me. 

I spent a little time yesterday getting caught up with Submittable. My active submission count had fallen below my goal threshold of 30 and I wanted to hike that back up. I might have resolved to submit more to a few prestigious journals in July, but for now, my selections are mostly driven by cost and whatever journals show up at the top of the “discovery” list. 

I’m also spending time on the production of The Good Life Review’s Summer 2021 issue. It’s a fair bit of work but it’s coming together nicely. There are a few prerequisites I’m waiting on but hopeful we can get it together by mid-July. 

What else? It’s Saturday and we’re planning a family gathering, pending weather. If it looks like rain we are going to scrub it but waking up this morning the weather this afternoon looks pretty clear. I suppose that means I should get going to attend to the last minute outside things. The pool isn’t going to clean itself. 😜

Perhaps I’ll feel more like writing about the ins and outs of life again soon. I’ve kind of lost it lately. Maybe today’s party will provide sparks of thought worthy of writing about. 

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-23 Security Camera Saga Part 2: Testing 🎥

To recap, I’ve been tasked with selecting a new security camera system for our household and previously did a deep dive into the analysis of it all. Part 1 ended with Jim and I discussing the systems that landed at the top of our list and pulling the trigger on purchasing not 1 but 2 cameras to try out. Thus began my testing phase. 

The two cameras we bought were the Wyze Cam V3 and Blink Outdoor Cam. 

The testing I planned was meant to both validate the findings of my analysis and put them head to head to see if one emerged as a clear winner. They are quite different in some ways so it was also important which one would fit our needs the best. Following is a short breakdown of each.

Wyze Cam V3:Wired (as in plug in an outlet for power), WiFi data transfer, no base station required and an unlimited number of devices on the network, 1080P, clear night vision, weather resistant, two way talk feature, person/pet/package detection, push notifications, and compatible with Alexa. All of this for an unbelievable $35 price tag per camera (sans SD card). 

Blink Outdoor: Wireless (advertised 2 year battery life), WiFi data transfer, base station/receiver required (max 5 cameras on one base), 1080P, clear night vision, weather resistant, two way talk feature, person/pet/package detection, push notifications, and compatible with Alexa. These cameras are $90 each but can be purchased for as low as $72 each if you buy a bundle of 5. 

We were initially interested in traditionally powered cameras only because we have the outlets to support this but the 2 year battery life of the blink made us think outside the box on where we could place cameras so we decided to try it out. 

The short story that sums up my testing phase is that you truly can’t know what you are getting until you test. It’s so revealing. The other spoiler alert is that within about a half a day we made our decision and after more rigorous testing actually considered returning the $90 blink to get our money back.

Here’s why: 

  1. Setup with Blink was not super intuitive and the “QuickStart” card included in the package was missing several key steps that may not be easily figured out by someone without tech understanding. If I think my parents could not figure it out, then it’s not good enough for the gen pop.
  2. The motion detection/smart sensing is ok but it detects and throws notifications for everything (as far as I can tell) and doesn’t have a way to filter out and not get motion alerts from random inanimate things like tree branches swaying in the wind. It seems to sense when the motion is a person because the icon on those events in the app is a person instead of a camera, but again, no way to obviously filter. I also turned the sensitivity way down and still get lots of false positives.
  3. The night vision is supposed to be excellent but it doesn’t seem to be true. It was very blurry and When I googled it it said that it may have something to do with other objects which are in the field of you for the camera. However even after trying a couple of different spots outside it wasn’t much better. I have since moved the camera inside and the night vision inside seems to be much better but we intend for most of these cameras to be outside so that’s a no-go.
  4. The claim of a two year battery life may also be a bit of a stretch. Out of the box maybe, but changing any of the settings about clip length, sensitivity, data retention… All result in warnings that it will reduce the battery life.
  5. Last but not least, the overall price. The camera cost is average all things considered (at least compared to most models on the market today), but in order to store and playback motion triggered events you have to have a subscription plan. 30 bucks a year for 1 camera or 100 bucks a year for up to 10 cameras. Without that, you’d never be able to see recorded video of a potential intruder, only get notification and see the live camera feed. No bueno!

Even without the “head to head” testing where we positioned both cameras in the same area to compare them, the Wyze camera exceeded our expectations. 

Here’s why: 

  1. The setup was a snap and I’m fairly certain that even my parents could do this without my help. For one thing, there’s no base unit that has to be installed first, so it’s just the camera that a person is dealing with. Then it’s a matter of plugging in and connecting to WiFi which the camera itself talks you through. Since the camera has 2 way audio capability, utilizing this in the setup was really smart. I might even go so far as to say it was Wyze. Ha! 😜
  2. After the initial setup I had the camera sitting on a table next to me in my living room. I tested the person detection and recording capabilities. In the same session I also inadvertently tested motion detection when one of my cats crossed the field of view and laid on the coffee table. The app alerted me almost instantly that a pet was detected! So impressive that it differentiates between general motion, people, pets, and packages. And supposedly smart detection of cars is coming soon.
  3. The night vision is excellent and this is one area that’s very important to us. We placed the two cameras side by side in our backyard and while the blink was super blurry, the Wyze was clear as day. It did detect the branches and ivy swaying but the notifications can be turned off for general motion so I was not spammed with alerts like I was with Blink.
  4. The two way talk and alarm feature worked fine, but I can’t see this being important for our daily uses. I also think that these are pretty standard for security cameras today and the Blink did just as well with this when tested.
  5. The integration with Alexa was also fairly straightforward and the device was added in a snap. I turned the Alexa audible alert on and now when a person is detected it announces on all our echos and echo dots. I also splurged for an echo show so I can also see the live feed in the living room if I want to. Super cool. The blink was equally as easy and had the exact same integration, however because the camera does not filter motion events, it was spamming my echos so I had to turn that off and just continue to test with notifications to my phone.
  6. The price tag of the Wyze camera is impressive! These cameras cost about $35 each ($45 if you bundle with a micro SD card) and that’s about ½ to ⅓ the cost of the Blink. But this does not, of course, include a subscription plan. The question then becomes.. do you need one??….

Like most systems I researched, you can get an optional subscription. In many cases this is for cloud storage and playback of events. The Wyze cam can operate without this subscription and unlike the Blink you can get 14 days of recording and playback without shelling out extra cash. That’s incredible!! But for us there IS a catch.

Wyze has a plan called “Cam Plus” that you would need if you wanted to store more than 14 days of events, longer than 12 second clips, not have 5 minute gaps between recorded events, OR (and this is big for us), utilize the AI to distinguish motion events between people, pets, packages, and just general motion. That means if we want to keep that awesomeness we’d have to subscribe. And the price is PER CAMERA… yikes!! 😱 

It’s not terrible, $20 per year per camera (on sale today for $15) but take that times the number of cameras and it adds up.

Both cameras I tested come with a free trial of their sub plan, so you know what you are missing when it goes away. 

Like I said, Wyze has an SD card slot so you can still capture recordings locally and the Blink has a Port for a similar local capture option.

For us, the Wyze was the clear winner of the test and we’ve already purchased the additional cameras for our household. The remaining question will be how many cameras will need the “Cam Plus” option. I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. No way I want to be alerted in the wee hours of the night that the camera has detected motion every time the wind blows the trees!! 

For all intents and purposes that purchase (and my documenting test results in this post) effectively end the testing phase. Next up… implementation??? 

The actual installation and configuration of the cameras is not a question. What’s in question is if I’m actually going to write about it. I started this “Saga” and wanted to see it through yet have very much lost interest in writing about it. Even this post was painful to get through and I’m pretty sure nobody cares.

If I’m only doing it to satisfy my own desire, and I lost the desire, then what’s the point?!! 

In the last couple weeks I’ve had a few other topics that have come up that would have been good to write through, but this stupid post was hanging over my head and so I attended to it instead. 

On that note, it’s time to cut and run. 

If you found this post interesting AT ALL.. pretty please like or leave a comment. 

With Peace and Love Until Next Time, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-17 Security Camera Saga Part 1: The Analysis 🧐✅✅✅

A few days ago I posted a teaser that I was documenting my analysis of potential security cameras for our household and that it would be coming soon. And here it is!… Part 1: The Analysis. 

In that post I called the exploration into options for security cameras a “dragon cave.” It’s like a rabbit hole but much bigger and wider. There are dozens of companies that make and support camera equipment and literally hundreds of different camera models on the market today. I’m not exaggerating. Each has their standard features, what they are great at, and their shortcomings.

Not an all inclusive list, but here are some things to consider: Image quality, night vision quality, color night vision, field of view, motion detection, heat detection / AI / smart sensing of people, cars, pets, and packages, notification of events, data storage (local/cloud), wired, wireless, wire-free, weatherproof rating, app support, smart home support, base station / receiver, and customer support. And let’s not forget the biggest factor….COST!. The initial amount required for the equipment and moneys required over time for subscriptions for cloud storage and additional features. Whew…. It’s all a bit exhausting!!

When Jim began researching he quickly found himself thinking “I don’t have time for this.” That’s because the time it takes is not small. And you can’t just Google “top 5 security camera systems” and rely on the results. I mean, you can, but then you have to sort through the dozens of posts that review and compare options. That’s a lot of reading and after you get to the third one you start to lose track of what the first two said. 

It also matters what features are important to you, as a homeowner. You might be more concerned about smart sensing and notifications and the ability to easily control the rules, field of view, and sensitivity than the data storage or live streaming. So someone else’s analysis or review might not be that helpful. What is one to do??!! 

Enter stage left, the left brain, analytical  poet. 😜

About a week ago Jim asked me, in his sheepish way, if I would help with something— if I would look into and  research options. I’m sure my eyes lit up at the question. My brain certainly lit up. Because I used to do this for a living, I knew exactly where to start—with collecting the requirements. So I said, “tell me what’s most important to you.” 

He quickly rattled off a list and I opened a document to take notes. Keep in mind, I’ve never researched this industry so I had no idea what is currently the “standard” offering and what features would be considered “fringe.” 

I then spent the next few days exploring the “dragon cave.” Yes, I did begin with googling reviews but quickly concluded that a spreadsheet was going to be required to keep track. I also know that Jim doesn’t know much about the options out on the market so when he gave me the list of requirements, a little research and translation was sure to be needed. 

I looked into details about camera resolution, night vision, weather proof ratings and that helped me come to an understanding of what was going to suit our needs. My spreadsheet included a list of the top 20 viable options and columns for all the features we care about. 

Systems/Cameras

I did a fair bit of reading specs on different websites and filled out all the cells on my Google sheet. Once I was satisfied with my data collection I calculated the total cost for start up, 1 year of operations, and 5 years. 

Different companies have different models for how they are supporting their bottom line. For a few, the upfront equipment cost is high and expenses for actual operations over time are nominal. Other places have equipment that seems too good to be true for the price, but then support, cloud coverage, and extra features would truly bite you over a 5 year run. We are in this for the long term investment so it was an important part of the analysis. 

The other factor for us is that we are a little OCD when it comes to covering potential intruder threat risk areas, outside and in. So we’re talking about needing a lot of cameras. I’m not going to say how many because I don’t need any external grief about it. 👀I also ruled out anything that was PoE (Power over Ethernet) as I did not want to have to run ethernet cables to all the places we want cameras. We are fortunate enough to have lots of power outlets in the soffits of our house so plug in cameras were on the table as well as battery operated cameras. 

In any case, by the time I was circling back to Jim with my results, I had highlighted what I thought were the top 4 viable options: WYZE Cam V3, A Lorex System with LW4211 Cameras, Blink Outdoor, and a set of SWANN cameras. Incidentally, things like weatherproofing (IP-65 or higher), smart home integration (all work with Alexa), and basic resolution (1080P)  ended up being fairly unimportant in the analysis because the standard for all the cameras I looked at was about the same. I therefore picked my top four because of factors like cost, smart sensing/AI, and clarity of picture at night. 

When it came to discussing it, we only really needed to talk through those 4, which resulted in us narrowing down to 2 candidates. To be honest, when we got right down to it, I was fairly certain all 4 would be great options, so narrowing down to 2 was a conversation that had us googling together and coming to the conclusion that we were all about 1.) Instant Gratification and 2.) Try before you buy. 

The Lorex system was heavy on EQ cost up front, no way to buy just 1 camera and try it out, and their website was terrible to navigate to find the right products (since thy have a gazillion options). We crossed that off. 

Of the four Swann was the most expensive over a 5 year run because of the “optional” subscription cost and similar to Lorex, it looked as though the equipment up front was going to be more $$$.  That helped us narrow down to WYZE and Blink. For both, we could buy a single camera, try it out, and make our final decision from there. Which is exactly what we did. 

This purchase ended my analysis phase and within about 3 days, I had the cameras in my hot little hands. So begins Part 2: The Test Phase. 

But this post is way too long and boring already so I’m gonna cut it here and save that for another day. 

Until Then,
~Miss “Left Brain Poet” SugarCookie

2021-06-12 The Security Camera Saga: A Prequel 🎥

A prequel? Hmmmm… This is new. 

The briefest definition of “prequel” that I have found is a story or movie containing events that precede those of an existing work. And for sure I began writing this blog post several days ago with the intent to get into the weeds of the analysis I was doing at the time in order to come to a conclusion about what security camera system to replace our existing cameras with.

However, sometimes, when I begin to write, the words come out of nowhere and go in a completely different direction than I intend. It happens quite often actually and while I am sure it is all part of some grand plan, I’m left with little nuggets of treasure I don’t quite know what to do with. This one happens to be about writing bios. 

I’ve written and rewritten my bio dozens of times and included it in a hundred (plus) submissions. In the beginning a person really doesn’t know what to say about themselves. In 2017 I was at the beginning of a new chapter of my life and had just started rekindling my passion for writing. As such, I had nothing noteworthy as a writer to say about myself or my life. 

You can’t fake or fib experience and so all you really have to go on is your current status—Where you live, what you do, perhaps your personal familial situation or pursuits. My bio back then:  #ILikeTurtles. 😜

In 2018 I was tasked with writing my first bio by a publication that required it for their print poetry anthology. It was supposed to be about 50 words. I toiled over that because I didn’t have enough to reach the requirement. 

Now, after just a few short years, I have a tough time narrowing it down for those lit mags that have a 50 word max. I’m now faced with deciding what’s important or relevant to include and what I can let go of. It’s a nice  problem to have. 

For one, it means that I’ve been somewhat successful in my attempts to get my poems published. I now have a healthy list of publishers I can reference in the standard sentence that lots of folks include in their bio about recent work. It’s also good to have something about how a person is or has participated in the industry at large besides just being published. For me, that is my involvement with The Good Life Review. 

As I stated, I’ve now been through many versions of my bio and it hasn’t been just because of the aforementioned experience. It’s partly because my personal life has had a lot of big changes in the past couple of years too. Marriage, moving, and transitioning away from working at a traditional job to name a few. I feel like life has been a fast moving train since 2017 and is just now starting to slow down.  

Though my move was not THAT significant (same state and general metro area, just a different city), it did warrant a tweak to the bio. I also finished my MFA in writing AND had to up the kitten count from 3 to 4 when we got Gus Gus last year (yes, the number of cats I live with is important! 😂). 

Though there have been many iterations of my bio, the first bit about who I am and where I’m from has not changed much. I mean, those things are not going to change. I have shorter and longer starter sentences based on the word count requirement and have gone back and forth about the importance of folks knowing the state or the general area I grew up in. No matter the verbosity and specificity I’ve landed on calling myself an “analytical Virgo” and that’s just stuck in all the variations. 

Back when I was a practicing IT analyst, I didn’t have to include that detail but now that I no longer have a career where it’s inferred, I’m somewhat compelled to slip it in there. My analytical nature and affinity for left brain tasks are near and dear to my heart. It’s a double edged sword—the “thinkers curse.”

The big benefit is my ability (and passion) for digging into a task like researching options for replacing our security camera system here at the Castle. If you’ve ever looked into such things you know that it is less of a rabbit hole and more of a dragon cave! I don’t often use the word “Saga,” as I have done in this set of posts, and would never do so lightly. 

This is the part of the post where I was finally getting to my actual point, and was really super excited to document for all-time and perhaps even provide some helpful insight and value to individuals stumbling across my blog. Sadly, I ran out of time. Even more sad than that is that I thought about the best way to transition into that “real” topic and came up empty. But the saddest of all was that I actually started writing this on June 12th (it is now June 15). Life is a fast moving train indeed. 

I suppose the conclusion of this particular post (like a lot of prequels) is anti-climatic and doesn’t truly have much to say since the meat of the real story hasn’t actually been posted yet. And, if I were keeping true to the definition of the word “prequel,” those other posts would come first. But that’s not happening either. #fail 

Hopefully, though, all that noise will be ready soon.🤞 I for one am super excited about my new cameras!! Stay tuned to hear all about it. 😂

With Peace and Love and Bubblegum Bath Bombs,
~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-07 Reactive 🩸

“Reactive” is the result of the COVID antibody test performed by the Red Cross from my latest blood donation. It’s now standard for them to do the test on every donation.

The explanation for my reactive result is that I have antibodies consistent with a person who has had the COVID vaccine, but did not have those that indicate I was exposed to the virus.

It’s true. I hid from the world at large for over 12 months, emerging from my castle a few times a week to mask up and get supplies. According to my latest antibody test I was successful dodging that Coronavirus bullet. 

I never had a nasal swab or a reason to go get tested during the thick of it all, when the frenzy was a pool of hungry fish, bubbling up for any morsel. Starved of normalcy, deprived of human interaction. Such a strange time. 

Now it appears we are on the other side of it. The population is under control just enough. The masks have been discarded. The shelves at the store full once again with toilet paper, disinfectant, and little bottles of hand sanitizer. It’s cheap now. They can’t give it away.

It’s just going to sit there for eternity like those end caps with masks of every color—blue, black, pink, and grey stitched to suit any outfit or occasion. They will hang there in their little plastic packages until the next time the end-times knocks on the door of humanity.

I can’t recall who I was talking to about 2020 lately, about the riots and forest fires—a fresh hell delivered to our doorsteps every month. For some quite literally but for me just figuratively, via my morning news report. How many times did I have to tell Alexa to stop? How many times did I feel so desperate in my hiding? 

Yet here I am still, living to fight another day. And isn’t that just amazing. Isn’t it just the best gift to step outside and feel the sunshine on my unkissed skin. 

I think I might spend some time today, in the shade, reading a book. Keep it simple. 

The hiding was not so bad—is not so bad as long as the world at large doesn’t interfere too much.

I’m a lucky girl. Or blessed if you believe in that sort of thing.

Peace and love and peanut butter toast, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-06-06 All the Life that Wants to Live

My neighbor Dick has touched over a thousand people’s hearts. Literally. In his prime he was a cardiothoracic surgeon who performed thousands of procedures. I can’t imagine having the kind of skill, knowledge, and expertise required for such things. It’s got to be a bit surreal to think back over your life and know that you have saved hundreds of peoples lives, extended ten times that, and had a positive impact on thousands of family members falling over each other with unyielding gratitude. Not to mention the weight that must come with delivering the worst news to the spouse, daughter, or parent of a patient. Watching as they clutch whatever is in their arms and hands a little tighter, pain and anguish climbing inside of them bursting from their eyes. 

Dick is retired now and though his career is long behind him, he still comes out every day to check the mailbox at the end of his driveway and on Tuesday’s to wheel his trash cart to our shared curb. His hearing and eyesight are not so good so when he sees me, he always walks closer to the small green space that separates our driveways. 

His greeting is familiar now, “Shyla, is that you? I can’t see so good anymore.” He hobbles with his cane a little closer. His smile is soft and genuine. 

“Yes.” I reply, walking a little quicker toward him so he doesn’t have to come too far and also so I don’t have to raise my voice in an unnatural way like I’m talking to an elderly person who is hard of hearing. “How’s it going?”

“Oh, you know,” he says with a smile. And I’m not sure I know but think I might. 

Recently I was working to tease the weeds out of the lilac bushes that live in our shared strip of green space. I was on his property on my hands and knees pulling out little saplings and Creeping Jenny that have planted themselves there. You have to really get them up from the root otherwise they will stubbornly grow back.

All the life that wants to live.

It wasn’t Tuesday. The mail hadn’t been delivered yet. Yet here was Dick outside and making his way across his driveway.

He smiles and says hi and asks me what I’m doing. I stand so we can be eye to eye and I tell him I’m pulling weeds. We survey the bushes in silence for a second. They have been neglected for far too long and are in rough shape but still working all their lilac magic to produce those wonderfully smelling blooms. 

I once heard something about plants that were nearing a rough patch or the end of their time. That they somehow put all their energy into producing whatever it is that will beget offspring. Like a pine tree producing twice the normal number of pine cones as its branches become brittle and brown. Or a flower blooming out of control before a bad winter it might not survive, somehow with a premonition of things to come. 

Dick breaks the silence and says the bushes look great. I don’t think we’re looking at the same bushes. They smell amazing though, and maybe with failing eyesight that’s what he’s basing his assessment on. 

I ask him how it’s going. He surprises me and says, “You know a person shouldn’t live past 90.” 

He’s 92. 

I’m not sure how to respond to that so I just smile and we stand there for another moment of silence. 

He reaches over his cane and grabs the tendril of a Creeping Jenny and yanks it away from the bush. It snaps, leaving the root of the weed intact. 

“I think I’ve got my work cut out for me,” I say. 

“You’re doing good.” He says. And then “I’ll leave you to it.” 

As he turns to walk back to his open garage door I can’t help but think that no matter how much good I do in my life, it will never amount to much.

All the life that wants to live.

I get back down on my knees and reach for another weed.