Kroger Star Trek Fantasy

I remember the first time I used a computer. Yes, I belong to the predigital age, an era when dinosaurs roamed the earth and people lived in caves. Maybe it wasn’t that long ago in the hoary past, but I do still own a black body Nikon camera with 35 mm film. I take seriously my antique credentials and flaunt them. You’d be surprised how many folks today have never seen a “real camera,” since they only have one on their phone.

Changing the film on the steps of the Acropolis in Athens, I happened to draw a crowd. You’d think they would be more interested in a building from 2,500 years ago than in a tool from 50 years ago, but technology moves so quickly today, many had never seen a film camera. The tourists saw two archaic sights in one site that day.

My first experience with a computer was as a teacher when I had to input the class grades. Finding the ON button was my first challenge, but after twenty minutes, I discovered it hidden on the back. “If they want us to use it, why not make it easy to turn on?” Perhaps only those with secret gnostic wisdom are allowed access to this strange machine, but we didn’t have the internet of things yet. Openness wasn’t a theme.

Once inside, my 1982 brain could easily make the data entry to fill in the blanks of student names and grades. This was just typing in another format. I took typing in high school because I would need it in college and in business later on.

Over the years, I’ve learned the computer skills for word processing, spreadsheets, blogs, page making, newsletters, bookkeeping, and photoshop. If I needed a new skill, I went out and acquired it. Most of the time, I downloaded the program and began working in it. I learned as I went. Taking a class was too slow or not available. The online tutorial was good enough for me.

I happen to be an early adopter of media because I have confidence in my learning abilities. Since I was a teacher, I teach myself. I figure I can’t mess it up. And if I do, it’s not the end of the world. Besides, I practice frequent “saving.” This means I’m always able to revert to a prior good version of my work. (What? You don’t do this? Maybe you should! You can learn something from us old dinosaurs.)

My local Kroger now has the new Scan Bag Go system. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and came back for a second go round. I found it easier this time, perhaps because I’d had some practice. Also, my store had been rearranged on my first visit, so I had to travel every aisle to find my usual items.

On my second visit I cut 30 minutes off my original time. I usually take an hour to 90 minutes because I chat with folks. I’m not a task focused shopper as some are. I tend to socialize and offer help to people I meet. It’s part of who I am, and anytime I can help add to the well-being of our community, I’m glad to do it.

The little ray gun is fun to zap the bar codes of the foods I put into my grocery cart. I have my Star Trek fantasy as I put my phaser on stun and immobilize the vegetables before I take them over to the weigh scale. When I shoot the bar code, the scanner tells me to put the broccoli on the scale, it determines the weight and price, asks if I want to pay this amount for it, and I click YES. Then I weigh the next fruit or vegetable the same way. I engage the engines of my starship and take off for another part of the galaxy or my local Kroger.

I have friends who will not ever use this system, since they think real people will lose jobs. The checkout clerks I talked to think they can be used for higher and better purposes, such as pulling groceries for people’s click list orders, helping people in store, stocking, and customer service. My friends who won’t use it are mostly people who don’t like technology or aren’t familiar with technology. They’re also middle aged or older. Younger people see the writing on the wall–they know they need to train for flexibility and change in the world to come.

In the last 40 years computers have changed our lives so much. Once we waited until the newspaper landed on our front porches to hear the news. Now we know in minutes when Twitter blows up with someone’s rant or a school shooting happens. While news can happen instantly, we cannot process it immediately. Our lives cannot heal from the trauma of the pain to which we’re exposed daily.

As we age, one of our tasks is keeping our brains limber by learning new skills. Neuroplasticity is the scientific term used to describe the process of maintaining, repairing, and creating new neural connections in the brain. Keeping to the same old path is a recipe for losing our minds, or dementia. If we want to live with a positive attitude, with our minds intact, adopting new technology as it comes down the pike is one way to train our brains for keeping a healthy outlook on life, even if we cling to our old fashioned cameras.


Restorative Power of Real Food 

Cornie’s spaghetti sauce with baby spinach

I live in a tourist town, so I’ve access to many wonderful restaurants for fine dining, as well as many mom and pop diners. I have friends, who also live here, who swear by Blue Apron and other fresh meal delivery services, while many others eat out almost every meal. 

Our condominium was built in 1965. The GE electric ranges, now over four decades old, are still going strong! The only reason I replaced mine, I was tired of lifting a full casserole dish above my noggin to reach the upper oven. Having a bottom oven of a real stove works so much better! The reason these stoves still work so well is most weekenders and vacationers ate most of their meals in restaurants. 

Many of my friends believe eating out is as cost effective as buying groceries. The same holds true for my friends who buy the fresh meal delivery services. Cost is one way of looking at your food. Value is another. 

Blue Apron menu item 800+ calories, small portion

Value includes not only the cost, but also the quality of the food, it’s healthfulness, but also if it was grown responsibly and if the farmer got a fair price for it. (I’m big on this last part, having a nephew in the organic farming business.)
In CORNIE’S KITCHEN, I’m also for the largest portions for the least amount of money. My mother was always trying to fill up the “hollow legs” of us growing children with real food. She had a degree in home economics, which sounds quaint and old fashioned today, but it was the science of home health for intelligent young women of her day. 

The top photo is Cornie’s spaghetti sauce with baby spinach. This is very filling. You won’t need garlic bread, unless you have a man sized appetite. Ladies who don’t exercise won’t eat this much. It sticks to your ribs. 

sparkpeople nutrition log: cornie’s spaghetti & meatsauce, spinach

The question of expense varies. A fast food meal may average only $6 per person, but the value is so low because of the high fat, carb and sodium contents, it’s too unhealthy to make a consistent habit to pursue. Eating in restaurants may be a tad better, if you practice portion control and bring home half the meal in a doggie bag. Otherwise, overeating makes this a poor choice. This can make an $18 tab into a credit card bill for the next size of clothing. I once had a daily doughnut habit that sent me twice in one year to Dillard’s for my expansive tastes. 

I believe in the restorative power of real food, cooked in real time, for real people, and shared together. Our families are our first communities. Here we learn to speak our piece and learn to keep our peace. We can share our hopes, our dreams, our pains, our schemes, and our stumbles around the ones who care for us best. Around food prepared with love, we can lift one another up through the hard times, until the times are good again. 

When I go to the grocery store, I get to touch the food. I can select the best pieces. While I no longer have my family at home any more, I carry on the tradition of selecting the best, for I’m still worthy of care. I still have others to love and to encourage. I take care of myself so I can take care of the friends who visit in my kitchen. The value of grocery shopping for me is the privilege of small talking with others as I navigate the aisles. You can’t put a cost or price on that.