Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Georgia-Confederate Flag of 2003

Georgians, it is time to really fix our flag. 

Just in case anyone is confused about whether Georgia's current flag is a form of the Confederate flag, take a look.

Below is the first Confederate Flag (The Stars and Bars), adopted November 28, 1861. 

Below is the Georgia State Flag, adopted in 2003. 

Here are the two overlayed. 

And just to avoid confusion, we're not talking about the Battle Flag of the Armies of North Virginia, and other Confederate states. 

So, to recap, we in Georgia currently fly the Confederate Flag with the seal of the State of Georgia stuck in. 


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Elderly Friendly Places to Visit in Atlanta

Looking for places to take your (very) elderly loved ones in Atlanta with no hassle, that everyone will actually enjoy? This post is dedicated to what we discover. This is based upon our personal experience, and speculation where noted.

Note: When I started this post, I was determined to try anything and everything that might appeal to my mother.  Our needs are/were specific - places that my now 90-year old mother would find appealing, and where she would be accommodated.  With Mom living with us, we have been very interested in finding ways for her to socialize outside the home.  Mom has advanced dementia, so not every day is one that we can go out and about, but when we do, it is great for her. I have since added a new criteria, and that is how elderly-friendly it is. By this I mean, literally, are people friendly to old people, or will my mother feel out of place? I have to say, I still haven't found where very old people hang out (other than nursing homes, that is.)


1. Accessibility
Handicap parking near the door, even pavements, wide aisles, comfortable, stable seating. Both walker and wheel-chair friendly.

2. Stimulating environment, but not too much
Low sound levels, not to much overlay of sounds or background chatter. Sun, comfortable decor, engaging stuff around. No chaos, not too fancy.

3. Recognizable
Yes to Gardens, No to Tech Stores.

4. Has times of day when there are people, but not crowds

5. Understanding, supportive staff who don't roll their eyes when you show up with an elderly person.

6. Inside the perimeter

7. New criteria: Welcoming to the elderly

8. New criteria: The opportunity for assistance


Athens Pizza on Clairmont
We've had the best luck here. The layout is simple, and easy to wheel or walker in. The staff is friendly and accommodating. The menu is a little confusing for Mom because she is not familiar with Greek food, so I end up ordering spaghetti or lasagna for her.

Tin Drum - Atlantic Station
It was fine.

Thinking Man Tavern
It was fine. Mainly I like that the food is recognizable to a nonagenarian.

Bambinelli's Northlake
Really good; the staff was friendly and accommodating. There are tables and booths, and the food is good, recognizable, hearty fare. It is family style, with a very comfortable atmosphere. It isn't a really long way from handicap parking spot to the front door, so Mom can walker in.


Atlanta Botanical Gardens
We love the BotGar! It just has to be a warm day. We wheelchair around the paths (some of which could be of a smoother pavement), and enjoy the people and plants. Going inside the buildings is a little harder as the exhibits have narrow pathways. Not impossible, but definitely to be avoided on a busy day.

Atlanta Zoo
We've been once. It is highly accessible with good, smoothly paved walkways. I got a major workout wheeling Mom around because some of the

Atlantic Station
Good. It is very wheelchair accessible, has lots of variety for window-shopping or people watching, and yet it is not overwhelming. We also visited the Dillards while there and I think we were a little too scruffy for them. But, Mom did seem to enjoy looking at the stuff.

Stone Mountain
Kind of good. Mom wasn't interested in the village, but she did kind of enjoy driving around the park. I imagine someone with more energy would enjoy wheelchairing some of the paved paths, or a picnic.

Central Dekalb Senior Center at Mason Mill
Extremely disappointed that this was clearly not for us. This is for senior citizens who are still pretty active, who wish to play bridge, learn stuff, get together for lunch. Now, all that is truly fantastic, and the facility is really nice, but my mother just isn't that active. I was hoping to connect to other families who are taking care of their elderly parents at home, but no go.

Northlake Mall
Pretty good. We park at the handicap parking at the Sears entrance. Sometimes Sears is enough for Mom before she gets fatigued, but sometimes we wheel all around. Again, it is just a chance for Mom to see other people of all ages.

PAWS Atlanta
Mixed, with great potential. I actually went through Volunteer Training so that I could bring Mom and we could pet the small dogs. She loved the idea. Not very accessible, but we did get through to the outside area in back and I 'checked out' a couple of small dogs. Mom ended up wanting to take them all home so it was actually a little confusing to her. Others might find this a wonderful outing.

Mom actually enjoys going to the grocery store. It is a very familiar, almost comforting place for her, and she feels that she's contributing something. Logistically though, it is difficult. It is too far for her to walker, but when she's in the wheelchair, there is limited place to put the groceries. I put a basket on her lap and put a few light things in it, then sling a few grocery sacks over the handles of the wheelchair and fill them up. Awkward, but it gets the job done. I have a feeling that if we went during off times, and asked for assistance, they might provide someone to walk a cart around for us.

Decatur Square
Pretty good. We've gone on off days, but there isn't any place we would go in to, so it is a little pointless.

Dekalb Library in Decatur
Two years ago, we went a few times, and perused the Large Print section. A library is a familiar place for Mom, and we see a wide variety of people. People in libraries are generally nice, friendly people, so when Mom says hello to everyone, most people answer back.


Neighborhood Festivals
Very mixed results. We went to a festival in Linear park, which Mom initially enjoyed. Drop off and pick up were a very big pain. The walkways are very narrow, especially where the booths are. Mom enjoyed seeing people, but I did feel like we garnered a surprising amount of attention. Not necessarily good attention. Also, with narrow walkways, people basically had to part to let us through. Later, Mom asked me why everyone stares at her, which broke my heart. Honestly, I don't know the answer to that except that I guess people aren't used to seeing frail 90-year olds. The experience scared me off and we haven't tried any other events like that.

Christmas Lights at Atlanta Botanical Gardens
It was cold, but Mom was game, so we bundled up. She is a tough critic though, and seemed disappointed with the exhibit.


Since starting this post, my mother has become more frail, and the dementia has advanced. Now our outings are very rare, and if she does have the energy to go out, we just drive around for a bit. I do hope that the information is helpful to someone though.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Entertainment for Persons with Dementia

My mother, 88, with moderate dementia has come to live with us. One of our challenges is finding appropriate entertainment for her, i.e. television and movies. We've discovered that shows with troubling themes or events can enter her mind, and cause her a day or more of anxiety. For example, after watching Gone With the Wind, she became worried that she was losing her home. After her aide watched a crime drama channel for several hours, she had anxiety about being involved in a robbery. So, this entry is dedicated to what's working and what we've learned.

First, a summary of types of shows

1. Ambient TV / Video Postcards
Hidden Gems. When narrative is too engaging, and we need something calming to focus upon and change mindsets. Example, impending anxiety state, full-on anxiety state, low-energy time, before bedtime wind-down. Nice to have on in the background, can be enjoyed in silence, or as a conversation starter.

2. Nature Shows
Same as above, but when the energy level is high enough to really engage. Simple narrative, slow, beautiful, enriching.

3. News
NO LOCAL NEWS. Its too full of accidents, murders, beatings, child-abuse, and other general complaining. National news seems to be okay, depending upon the day's news. Mom likes the family time of watching it together.

4. Reality Shows
Nope. Can't think of one that she'll enjoy. I even avoided the obvious super-trashy ones and tried "Under the Gunn" but Mom didn't have enough frame of reference for this to be interesting.

5. Movies & TV shows

See breakdown below. Her energy level needs to be high enough to engage in a narrative.

6. Silent Films
Has all the things we need. The plots are simple and easy to follow, the characters are relatable, the acting is writ-large, the title screens with large text help too. Downside is that if she's doze-watching (you'll either know what this means, or you won't), she misses the plot.

  • A small number of characters 
  • Characters that her generation can relate to 
  • A linear plot or narrative
  • A somewhat slow pace 
  • Clear dialogue
  • Bad vibes (anger, yelling, arguing, violence, gritty dramas, snarky talk shows, the news) 
  • Scary life events as plot points (losing your home, being robbed, being attacked, being destitute, being murdered) 
  • Violence of any kind to animals or humans 
  • Too much activity, noise, craziness
  • Rapidly shifting scenes
  • Rapid dialogue or accents
  • Big, explosive special effects
  • Shifting between multiple plot lines

TV & Movies that Worked

Nature Shows
Lately, movies and TV shows have too much plot, and she has a hard time following. However, she can follow nature shows and they are inherently visually stimulating, interesting and slow paced. Occasional violence.  Loving David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals. Watching these on Hulu.com despite the annoying interruptions and occasional signal failure.

Ambient TV 

When silence is too boring, a nature show is too engaging, and a movie is too stimulating, there's ambient TV. Hulu and ATT U-verse have a few, but The Window Channel on Amazon Prime is tops. 30 minute scenes of beautiful places in the world in HD. Delightful. Titles include "Harmony" "Mountain Streams". ATT U-verse also has channel 1800 which has half-hour segments entitled "Furry Friends", "Sunrises and Sunsets", and the 

She has loved this for years, and even though it always starts with a murder, it doesn't seem to worry her. Thank you Hulu for having all seasons. <Update: Seems that the murders and police are too much. Must use Monk more sparingly.>

Mrs. Brown 
Judi Dench plays a grieving Queen Victoria. Billy Connolly plays a wild Scotsman who protects her and irritates her into getting out more. Mom related to both characters, and their quiet, emotion-packed dialogue.

Girl With a Pearl Earring 
Beautiful and slow, small number of characters whom you can understand.

Mary Poppins 
Of course. Over time, Mary Poppins has been responsible for a total reset from distant, disengaged, anxious Mom to engaged, happy, laughing, talking Mom.

Same as Mary Poppins - delightful, engaging, irresistible.

A Christmas Story 
Because she's seen it so many times? Its pretty wholesome, and easy to follow.

White Christmas
Back in the day when men were men and girls were cabaret acts. I personally can never watch this again.

The Rankin-Bass Christmas stories 
(Rudolph, Santa Claus)

To Catch a Thief
Pretty scenery, pretty people, easy plot.

Winnie the Pooh 
That was worth two happy watchings. We've returned to it a few times, and she especially likes the songs.

Return of the Pink Panther
Got real belly laughs out of Mom. Then we tried The Pink Panther (dud), and The Revenge of the Pink Panther (got some laughs, but a bit violent), and On the Trail of the Pink Panther (got some laughs despite the choppy plot).

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (movie)
Got good laughs.

Golden Girls (TV)
An old favorite.

Snow White (original Disney animated feature)
Engaging, but not for a high anxiety day.

The Sound of Music

This worked well, although it is long.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
This worked well, Mom seems to really enjoy the musicals.

I remember my parents watching this, so maybe it is familiar territory. Mom enjoys it and probably because the characters are exaggerated, everything is telegraphed large, but the plots are really simple.

The Goldbergs
Recognizable time period, setting, family dynamic. Funny, with simple, straight plots.

The Good Earth
She loves this story; apparently she and my sister watched it a lot years ago. Despite the themes of poverty, sexism, spousal neglect, and a plague of locusts, she really enjoyed watching it.

The Roosevelts (Ken Burns documentary)
Lots of things were recognizable to her and she seemed to really enjoy remembering, until the episode about the depression. It upset her and we had to turn it off.

The National Parks (Ken Burns documentary)
Just a wonderful series, particularly the first 2 episodes. She keys into this and watches and listens with rapt attention.

Sleeping Beauty

Movies and Shows that Didn't Work

Gone With the Wind 
Despite this being one of her favorites over the years, it seemed to cause anxiety. War, slavery, difficult childbirth, murder, fear of losing your home, death of a child, losing your loved one.

Downton Abbey 
Too bad, but she didn't care for it. Accents? Can't relate? Don't know why.

Love Actually
A large cast and swiftly cut, interlocking scenes just can't be followed.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
I thought we had it made with this one, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but she lost interest.

Monarch of the Glen
Turns out they're about to lose their house too. Otherwise, this series is delightful; simple plots, funny characters, beautiful landscapes. The Scottish accents may be difficult for some.

Black Beauty
After we started watching it, I started questioning the treatment of animals during the making of. I ended up reading ahead on the plot on Wikipedia and turned it off as soon as Beauty and Ginger are traded to the snooty family. I see no call for showing Mom an hour of animal abuse even if there is a happy ending.

Miss Potter
A delightful movie, simple plot, well acted. However, someone dies, so use with caution.

Toy Story, Up
No interest in these. 

Good Shows That She Watched But I Can't Tell If She Really Liked

A Philadelphia Story
The Importance of Being Earnest
The King's Speech
Shakespeare in Love
Mansfield Park 
Big Top Pee Wee
Serena (original)
The Secret Garden
Nanny McPhee (can you tell I'm an anglophile?)
My Fair Lady
Modern Family
Wheel of Fortune
Sherlock Holmes (the Jeremy Brett version)
Cinderella (2015)

Shows We're Going To Try
Jeeves and Wooster <Update: Hard to tell; will try again later>
Sense & Sensibility <thanks, Tennille>

Suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fear of Wordpress

A couple of years ago, I thought that Wordpress would usher in the demise of the freelance and small Web designer and dumb down the design of the Web. While that may have happened to some small extent, the enterprising designer seems to be jumping on the Wordpress bandwagon, recognizing that it is a great solution for small business Web sites, and adopting it as a tool rather than simply being replaced by it.

A Wordpress site can now be made to look more like a grown up Web site rather than just a linear blog, and can be styled to look just fine, thank you very much. Where designers would spend hours and days designing and implementing a small Website, then perhaps have a small income through maintenance, now design and implementation can be done in a matter of hours. And maintenance? Putting maintenance squarely in the hands of the small business owner may take a few maintenance dollars out of the designer's pocket, but is that really what you wanted to be doing anyway? Wouldn't you rather be free to make design dollars (as opposed to the lesser maintenance dollars) on new sites and new clients?

What was a threat to Web design, now seems like a boon by creating a low-cost, simple alternative that can be part of your suite of offerings. Its an easy way to put the least interesting, least paying work in the hands of the business owner themselves so you can focus on what you do best.

Suffice it to say, I plan to take advantage of Wordpress to support a basic offering for my new business. Technology and application thereof will continue to change exponentially, and business people will always need specialists to demystify the tech world for them, so bring on the time-saving technological advancements in design!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

See Where That Gets You?

Right after writing the previous blog post about my path toward a new professional/creative life, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole. Not the kind where you start on Pinterest and three hours later you're researching wine country near Budapest, the kind where you start with a blog post and three hours later you've started a small business.

My husband said, "Do you want to come with me tonight to Connect?" and I responded, "Yeah, let me finish registering my LLC." And so it was.

To track back, I think that I created a "to do" for today to write a draft of a business plan, or at the very least, start fleshing out ideas for a mission statement and services for my small business idea. Well, after writing that in Penzu, I decided to post it to my URL and learn something new about CSS. Multitasking is the name of the game. One thing lead to another and soon I had posted a simple, one page business statement to silverspringexperience.com, a URL I've been sitting on for several years now. Then I somehow turned a corner and decided to investigate creating an LLC in Georgia. An hour later, I've purchased a new URL "silverspringinteractive.com", applied for an LLC online, and voila! It was so easy. After several years of feeling wishy washy about starting a small business, this feels right, easy, clear and imminently doable.

Another cool thing that is happening is that each time I talk to a friend about this idea, they give me another piece of the puzzle. Thanks Beth for the kick to focus upon small business, thanks Alisa for the quick mobile site maker and connection to the social content company, thanks John for helping me sound out the small business community idea, and thanks new friend Chris for pointing me toward yet another small business sector.

Now all I need is a logo, right?

Toward a Cultural Creative

Last week I was laid off from my faculty position at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Totally knocked side-ways, I am still puzzled how the institution can lay off its only User Experience Designer when they're planning to restructure the curriculum and have a UXD track. But, I guess that's their problem now.

For me, in terms of being laid off, it comes at an auspicious time. Never before have I been closer to living the life of a cultural creative, and it is my intention to take this opportunity to build that lifestyle. By cultural creative, I mean someone who is fortunate enough to use one's resources to advance oneself both creatively and financially. I.e., I plan to make money off of being me. Making pursuit of my interests financially rewarding and creatively and intellectually stimulating.

How does that play out? By becoming a Renaissance woman. Having multiple interests, and multiple irons in the fire. Having multiple sources of income rather than a full-time job. Those multiple sources of income representing different facets of my interests or areas of expertise.

Some of the options:
* Freelance UXD
* Small Business Idea To Be Revealed at a Later Time
* Teaching
* Blogging for Cultural and Technical Interests
* Performing Research
* Making Art

Clearly, some of these are going to make money and some are not. But, as long as some of them are generating income, I should also be able to do the rest.

Anyway, I'm embarking on this effort, and I'll be writing about it more here. Wish me luck.

Carol Bales