Sunday, March 19, 2023

How A LIberat Arts English Major Became A Techie

 Greetings friends!  

I'm opening this blog to Facebook, where I have been posting lots of very long posts.  Kind of a diary, if you will.  Lately this blog has been used by a group of bloggers to discuss a  (monthly) topic on writing.  That will continue.

So here is the first diary-type post.

A recent New Yorker magazine had a long article on the demise of the English major and "liberal arts" majors in general.  Wait a minute! I was an English major who spent 25+ years in technology.  

When my kids were in junior high and getting ready for high school, I took stock of my suburban life. A pretty good one.  Lots of friends;  lots of organizations and volunteering for non-profits.   Tennis, fencing, business and social entertaining.  I thought nothing of cooking for ten or fifteen.  Once we had an open house for 100.  I re-read all of Proust.  

But something was missing.   After some thought, I knew I wanted to get a job.  the problem was, I had plenty of skills, but none of them marketable.  Thanks to my degree in English. 

After asking around and doing a bit of research, I discovered computer people were in great demand.  Especially programmers.  Business programmers.  I bought a book to find out what this was all about.  Interesting but not exactly compelling.  Then I discovered that the  nearby Lake County Junior College offered courses in systems and programming.  A junior college?  With my degree from Rice University?  Seemed like a huge step dowm.  Nonetheless. Registering for classes was traumatic.  I had to use a computer.  Everyone seemed younger.  They appeared to know what they were about.  Gaaa!

It was summer, and I signed up for the most basic course:  Computer logic and Flowcharting. I bought a flowchart template at the college book store.  Nervous as a cat, I attended the first class.  The friendly approachable instructor gave us an overview and explained what we would cover in the class.  

With notes, my template (which is knocking around here somewhere,after lo, these many years), I completed the first assignment.  Not really all that hard.  Warm summer nights (we had no AC in the Chicago area) I sat at the kitchen table and drew my flowcharts.  It was rather fun! I aced the course and enrolled full-time  for the fall semester. COBOL, systems analysis, business, accounting, and something else.  

Once my husband and two sons realized the laundry would still get done and that food would be on the table, things fell into place.  What I had never anticipated was the variety of people who would be my classmates: welfare mothers, teachers wanting to find a new occupation, scruffy students.  We were all in this together. It was a new life, but a good life.  

Coming on next:  I realized I was "technical."

Saturday, December 31, 2022


 From (2011)   No longer available on web. This is terrific.  

Fresh Cranberry Cake with Orange Glaze

  •   prep time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook Time 60  minutes
  • Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. softened butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 T. finely grated orange zest
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  •  2 T. all-purpose flour  
  • Orange Icing

    • juice of 1/2 orange (3-4 Tablespoons)
    •  1 T. finely grated orange zest
    • 1 T. butter, softened
    • 1 1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar


    Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt cake pan.

    In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl in between adding eggs.  Add the vanilla and orange zest; blend well. 

    In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture along with the sour cream, beating until blended.  Slowly beat in remaining flour mixture until smooth and blended. Toss the chopped cranberries with 2 T. of flour; stir into the batter.  Spoon the batter into the prepared Bundt cake pan. Bake for 40 minutes, then reduce the oven temperatur to 325 degrees. Continue baking for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes.  Invert onto a serving plate to cool completely.  Drizzle orange icing over the cake or dust with powdered sugar. 

    For Icing

    Combine juice and orange zerst with butter; stir in sifted confectioners' sugar until desired spreading consistency is reached. Add more juice or sugar as needed. 

    Bon Appetit!