Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Something light (and fluffy, with icing on top)

Well, okay, maybe "light" isn't really the right word. I think that most ideal cakes are supposed to be "light and fluffy", but it feels wrong to describe cake as "light". . .

Hm. Let me start over again.

For a little change of pace, here's a link to a funny blog I just came across this afternoon:
Cake Wrecks!

There are plenty of odd-looking cakes to gawk and giggle at-- and laughter is something I can't get enough of, now or ever.

. . .Now to take the dogs out before they burst my eardrums. . .

Random Things

Over the weekend, our vacuum cleaner vacuumed its last rug. We've had it since we got married (2001), so it had a pretty good run, considering that "they don't make things like they used to". I'll be looking for a replacement, next time I'm out shopping. After talking to Mom about her new vacuum cleaner, I think I'll probably get a bagless machine, this time around. (Not having to buy overpriced bags does have its appeal.)

. . . Probably nothing says "You're Getting Old and Boring" more than feeling excited at the prospect of a new vacuum cleaner. . .

~~ ~~ ~~

Speaking of the vacuum cleaner, over the past few days Donald and I have both accidentally referred (a few times) to both it and the dishwasher as "the lawn mower". There must be some deeper meaning to this odd occurrence, though I don't have any idea what it could be. It is fortunate that no-one was around to see us when I did it, the last time, because we both burst out laughing and would very likely have seemed to have lost a few marbles.

~~ ~~ ~~

Here are a few bits of news from Sweden:

Donald's farmor (father's mother) was recently in the hospital for surgery, but she's doing better, now.

Donald's parents have redone the cabinets (and a few other things) in their kitchen.

This has been a good year for chanterelles. Ingela and Britt-Marie picked over 30 pounds of them on one outing! (I'm not sure how many pounds would be average, but certainly much less than thirty.)

~~ ~~ ~~

I'm over halfway through watching Berkeley Square (since NetFlix finally saw fit to add it to their collection) and have been enjoying it. I suppose it is a little bit "soap opera"-ish, but not nearly as bad (or with such bad acting) as you typically see in soap operas. (Also, it has the benefit of having being finite, unlike real soap operas, which just drag on forever. You can't tell a good story without giving it some sort of conclusion, whether happy, sad or indifferent-- something the inventor of soaps must not have realized. . .) Of course there are much better sets and costuming, too. (Nineteenth-century clothes were so much prettier to look at than what we wear now, however impractical or uncomfortable they may have been.)

So far, only one scene was actually painful to watch, in terms of bad writing and/or acting. (Um, there's a big SPOILER coming up, here. . . SPOILER ALERT! I repeat, SPOILER ALERT! Skip the next paragraph if you don't want the series ruined for you!)

I'm thinking of the bit where Bertie's telling Hannah that she should have saved Charlie (Charley? not sure how it's meant to be spelled. . .) and somehow or other she's supposed to just blurt out the truth (that she has a son of her own). It just felt odd-- more forced than how things would naturally progress. Like the writers needed something to make Hannah tell Bertie about the baby, and this was the best they could come up with. I'd have to watch it again to decide whether I'd lay more blame on the writers or the actors.

Of course, you can't expect perfect acting from a child, and apart from that one scene, I have to say that Bertie is one of those rare "TV kids" whom I like and feel motherly towards. So many TV kids are just bratty or sickeningly "ooh, I'm SO blatantly (falsely) cute that you HAVE to love me-- So there! :P". This one's actually quiet and polite, and he has that starved-for-affection look (emphasized by such big eyes). Definitely more appealing than most of the children I see on TV and film.

~~ ~~ ~~

I've been taking a break from news, again. I can only take so much of it before I'm fed up. When it begins to have a negative impact on my state of mind (not to mention my blood pressure), it's time to take a vacation from "big news". After all, it's not like I can do anything to change the country or the world, right now, beyond what I'm already doing. It's frustrating, though, that the. . . I'll let you supply your own word, here. . . keeps cropping up on blogs and other non-news sites. It's nearly impossible to really block it all. Sometimes I feel that there are just one or two politically sane people on the Internet!

~~ ~~ ~~

On a related note, I'm tired of doom and gloom.
Honestly, World-at-Large, I just don't want to hear it.


Partly, because I don't think things are as bad as some sources would have us believe. Maybe I'm wrong-- or maybe there'll soon be all kinds of horrible everywhere you look-- but for now, I don't want to hear about it, read about it, or-- least of all-- think about it. Unless and until there's something I, personally, can do to improve things, leave me in peace, thanks-so-much.

Again, I may be waaay off, but I get the impression that the average American lives a life of incredible luxury-- a longer life with more creature comforts and less back-breaking physical toil than the average person living at any other period of history.

Or in other words, things could be a lot worse than they are, or are likely to be, assuming we keep our wits about us. (Now if we could only convince so many others that they need to get their act together, too. . .)

I hope I don't live to regret that whole "things could be a lot worse" line. . . ;o) Seriously, though, I think it's best to keep things in perspective and try to remember the positives of "right here right now". And keep in mind, this is coming from one prone to needless worry!

Maybe that's why everything is bothering me so much. Maybe other people can say "This is bad-- that's worse-- and we'll be lucky if the world's still here tomorrow!" then go right back to Life as Usual with nary a backwards glance. Meanwhile, as a natural worrier, I've taken it all too much to heart and am left to brood over it in the back of my mind for days.

Ugh, time to remind myself again: Every day of life is a gift. Enjoy it while you're here! Leave worrying for another time. (A dose of Pollyannaism to counteract the world. . .)

~~ ~~ ~~

Hm. I'm not pleased with the direction this post has taken.
Time for something nice and trivial, right?
But not necessarily positive. . .

I watched the first two episodes of Fringe with hopes that it'd be a fun paranormal escape-- a cross between LOST and the better episodes of The X-Files. (One of the writers behind developed/wrote/had something to do with this new show, too.) As I wrote, I've only watched two episodes, but I haven't been that impressed. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great, either, IMHO. It's probably just as well, though. Maybe I'll spend more evenings reading if there are fewer TV shows for me to keep up with.

On the subject of reading, I'm 100 pages (or so) into To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis. I was intrigued by the blurb. Comedy of manners, sci-fi time travel, Victoriana, mystery and romance? Oh, and also throw in references to Three Men in a Boat and other literature? Yes, count me in (even if I'm ten years behind everyone else)! It's enjoyable, so far. I'll be surprised if it's one of those books I end up rereading time after time (à la Jane Eyre, for instance), but I'm certainly finding it a pleasant read.

~~ ~~ ~~

Fast forward to today-- Tuesday, Sept. 30th. (Yes, this is another of those "a bit at a time" entries.)

At about 10:30, Donald and I were walking Trixie up to the road to put something in the mailbox. We'd paused for a moment-- probably to coax Trixie to keep walking, because she's still not completely used to the concept of a leash. I looked further ahead along the easement and saw a snake stretched out across our path. (I'm a poor judge of distance. . . It was maybe twenty feet ahead of us? Far enough that we were safe, at least.)

As usual, it took a moment for me to process what I was seeing. I pointed it out to Donald before I'd even fished the word "rattlesnake" from my memory. It was fairly large-- five or six feet long, and pretty hefty-looking, with the unmistakable diamond pattern emblazoned across its rough scales. (It had a rattle, too. Fortunately it wasn't feeling threatened enough to rattle at us, but we saw it.)

It was making its way off my grandparents' property, toward an old fence and the scrubby wooded area beyond, so we didn't think there was any point in going back to call someone about it. (Yes, I mean calling someone about maybe coming to kill it. Sorry, conservationists. Hate me, if you must, but I don't want to lose one of my dogs to a snake, if I can help it. Neither do I want myself or a member of my family to suffer a painful and potentially life-threatening bite because we might get too close to a snake before we see it.)

It was quickly across the road and no more to be seen, beyond the fence, so we cautiously continued to the mailbox. I figured we'd see no more of it-- for today, at least-- but on the walk back, Donald spotted it well ahead of us on the easement. Apparently, it had come back onto the property further south along the road-- closer to our yard. While we watched, it went back through the fence again. I got the phone and walked back out to see if it had come back, but it was nowhere to be seen.

I hope it'll stay that way. . .
But this is still frustrating! I'd been letting my snake-guard down, already. Silly of me, really. It hasn't been that cool, yet, and snakes are obviously still out on the move, around here.

~~ ~~ ~~

Well, enough clickety-clacking. Time to get up and do something useful!

Friday, September 26, 2008

More Musical Nostalgia

A week or two ago, I happened across a couple of songs by the Alan Parsons Project that I instantly recognized, but hadn't heard in a very long time. I don't remember specific times that I listened to these songs (as I do for some music), but they definitely take me back to childhood. . .

Here's the one ("Time") that particularly sent me spiraling back through the years:

Melancholy, huh? But beautifully so.

I have no idea how to describe exactly what I mean here, but the little thing where the violins slide from one note to a higher note in almost a whiny way? Is it just me, or is that a very "late 70s/early 80s" thing? Most of the song doesn't seem to me to be "stuck" in any particular era, but that one bit just feels very "Little House on the Prairie" to me. . . Anyway. . .(g)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Last Night's Dream, or Buy Your Own Food ;o)

(Yes, I am about to write about a dream I had last night. I know that you aren't supposed to pester people with your dreams, but seeing as this is my blog, I think it's allowed.)

I think the subject of my "angry entry" (from a couple of days ago) must still be on my mind. Here's the relevant part of last night's dream:

I come home one afternoon, and as I get out of the car, a truck stops by the driveway. The driver explains that his vehicle isn't working. Somehow or other, another truck is suddenly pulling up, too-- friends of the first guy. But now there's something wrong with their vehicle, too, so they (3 or 4 men in all) need to wait for another friend to come and help. Also, it's suddenly raining, and they have to come inside to wait. (Strange how the weirdest things make sense in dreams, huh? Why couldn't they just have waited in their trucks?)

Anyway, I let them inside, because for whatever reason, I know that (though they're a little rough-looking) they won't do anything to me. After going off on my own for a few minutes, though, it suddenly occurs to me that I probably shouldn't leave them alone in the house. (They won't hurt me, but I wouldn't put it past them to pilfer odds and ends from around the house.)

I find them in the kitchen. One of them is dumping a can of soup into a pot on the stove. Another is helping himself to leftovers from a casserole dish. A third is making a sandwich with ham "lunch meat". I'm outraged to find that these perfect strangers have just helped themselves to our food, and I tell them about it.

"If you'd just come and talked to me about it, first, that would've been different! You could've said, 'Wow, I'm suddenly really hungry! I haven't eaten anything since lunch. I've been working hard all day, and I usually have supper about now." You could've hinted that anything-- just a slice of bread-- would have been welcome, and maybe then I would've offered you something to eat. But no. Instead you go through my refrigerator and take food without even asking!"

I show the ham lunch meat guy that he's ruined a whole, brand new package by tearing it open with his teeth. (There are a couple of holes chewed through the plastic. Evidently Lunch Meat Guy doesn't know how to open things with his hands.) I tell them all that they'll have to pay me for the food. They can take whatever's left of what they've now bought, when they go, but they will pay. I'm requiring that much of them. They listen, not seeming to see what the big deal is. As I go about my business, I overhear one guy tell another that he doesn't have enough money to pay for the food; can he give him a loan?

Next, we're all sitting in the main room (not of this house-- just some random house that's ours in the dream), with the TV on. Again, I overhear one guy tell another to ask me to put some different channel on in the little "picture-in-picture" box.

(Incidentally, is it my imagination, or has that once-popular feature fallen completely by the wayside? Maybe it's still out there, but it seems like you hardly ever hear about it, these days. It was probably a fad. I never really saw how it would be of much use. If both shows are worth watching, you're going to be constantly missing things by trying to watch both of them at the same time-- and if one of them isn't that important to you to begin with, why bother? I enjoy television, but thank goodness I'm not that much of an addict. (g))

So, as I was saying-- I overheard his request. I turn to him and tell him that our TV doesn't have that feature. He seems truly shocked that anyone living in this day and age could not have a TV set with picture-in-picture-- especially someone with such a well-stocked fridge and pantry. This instantly sets my teeth on edge, and I irritatedly explain to him that the reason we have food, etc., is that we don't waste money on things like picture-in-picture televisions. (Apologies to owners of picture-in-picture TVs. ;o) Honestly, I bear you no ill will.) I can tell that he's still not "getting it", and the dream fades out. . .

So, anyway, that was the dream.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pretty Neat Video

(Ok, so maybe I'm posting this mainly so that my last, angrier entry will be pushed further down the page, but I do genuinely think this is "pretty neat". (g))

Just sit back and watch as patterns and words emerge from carefully synchronized drops of water. . .

Here's another video with a little background on this technology:

Sounds like it's been around a few years, at least, but I think this is the first I've heard or seen of it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

We pay the price for the idiocy of others. As usual.

I've been purposely avoiding news and radio for a while, now, because lately it either depresses or infuriates me. Today, I listened just a few minutes, and already I feel I could cheerfully condemn any number of people to the fieriest pits of. . . well, you get the point.

I know life's not fair. I know I have so much to be thankful for that I should probably just shut my mouth-- or, er, still my fingers-- and be grateful for what's good and right in my part of the world. But I can't help it. It fills me with incredible wrath to think that we're going to be punished for the idiocy of others.

We are responsible. We pay our bills. We save for what we want and need. We don't thoughtlessly grab every little (or big) thing that attracts our interest. We make careful decisions based on what we can afford. And for what? So that we can now be forced to help others pay for their foolish-- selfish-- impulsive choices?!

Charity should be a matter of free choice. No-one should be forced by the government to pay for someone else's poor planning. I might be more moved to help others if I didn't whole-heartedly believe that it will just be wasted-- and if it could be my choice, for my part, to help or not to help.


I think I'd feel so much better if I could just punch someone a few times. . . ;o) (Maybe I ought to take up kickboxing for exercise. (g))


It's been a few months since my last Google Analytics post, so I thought another one was due. It got a little long, so you may not want to read the whole thing. If you want to see just my favorites, skip down to the bottom. :o)

Here's what people were searching for when they happened upon this blog (since the last Analytics entry):
  • Once again, most of them involve rag quilting, with 44 hits from "denim rag quilt(s)" along-- not even touching on all the (many, many) variations on that theme: "rag quilt bag" (9), "rag quilt video" (8), "flannel rag quilts" (5), and so on. (Maybe it's time for me to start actually working on that quilt again. ;o)) To avoid boring you completely to tears, I'll skip the rest of the quilt-related searches, unless something particularly interesting pops up.
  • "borderline narcolepsy"/"borderline narcoleptic"-- 5 hits
  • "trollstigen weather"-- 3 hits (Ah, Norway. . . I don't miss the crazy roads, but the views!)
  • "racing down trollstigen"-- 1 hit
  • "trollstigen road raised"-- 1 hit (What does that even mean?)
  • "trollstigen youtube"-- 1 hit
  • "birds attacking cats"-- 2 hits (Poor Skipper. I think I mentioned this after seeing a bird dive-bomb him. . .)
  • "cockapekapoo"-- 2 hits
  • "itchy hands after mowing"/"hands itch after digging in the yard"/"hands itch after mowing the lawn"/"mowing itchy"/"my hand vibrate after mowing"/"my palms itch after mowing the lawn"/"numb fingertips after mowing lawn"/"vibrations from lawn mower hands to itch"/"why do i get itchy hands after mowing the lawn"/"why do my palms itch after mowing"-- 11 hits (Obviously it's a common occurrence!)
  • "after crocheting finger numb"/"crochet numb finger"/"crocheting numb fingers"/"numb finger crochet"-- 4 hits (Again, clearly I'm not the only one. Not that I thought I was. . .)
  • "numb fingers more:causes risk factors"-- 1 hit
  • "numb finger after striking"-- 1 hit (. . .After striking what, exactly. . .?)
  • "jared polis"-- 2 hits (This is from a question in a meme.)
  • "odds and ends abbreviation"-- 2 hits (Is there such a thing?)
  • "sarah michaels extra thick body cream"/"sarah michaels milk and honey"-- 4 hits, total
  • "curly sue soundtrack"-- 1 hit for this and all that follow, unless otherwise noted
  • "emily of new moon: dean priest"
  • "grey skin"/"blue gray skin color"/"gray skin"/"grey skin from well water"/"grey skin man"/"grey skin pictures"/"guy with grey skin"/"man with gray skin"/"man with grey skin"/"skin turned a permanent shade of blue-gray after consumption of nutritional supplements"/"the man with the gray skin"-- 11 hits (I guess people are still interested in this story. . .)
  • "polymer clay + jewelry"
  • "sziklai pair"/"adrigole"/"anoglypta" (This is what happens when you do that silly, random Wikipedia meme. . .)
  • "yellow-bellied water snake split"
  • "cassandra wilson - lovely"
  • "7 inch granny square"
  • "another name/ word for all knowing"-- 2 hits
  • "b&w techniques"
  • "baldwinreport"
  • "canon xsi"
  • "coastal fabric designs"
  • "clouds moonlight flickr"
  • "decorated cake ballerina"/"plastic ballerinas"-- 2 hits
  • "dicey name pronounce" (I know the book they're thinking of, but I haven't read it-- yet-- myself, and I don't remember mentioning it or this character in my blog. . .)
  • "eilert pilarm swedish elvis" (Donald was just talking about this again the other day. I'd forgotten about it.)
  • "felt cake slice pattern" (Again. And I've never even posted one, as far as I can recall. . .)
  • "flickr children's vintage fashion" (& related queries)-- 5 hits
  • "vintage retro scans"
  • "hejsan pronounced" ("Hay-sawn"-- or something like.)
  • "how to make a bag out of a button up shirt" (I'm not sure, but it shouldn't be too hard to do.)
  • "how to use variegated ombre yarn"
  • "husqvarna correct pronunciation" (Hm. . . As far as I know, it's "HOOSK-varna", but I'm no expert. . . (shrug))
  • "ike is gonna strike"/"wheres ike"/"wheres ike gonna go"/"wheres ike now"-- 4 hits
  • "ipod wailin jennys"/"wailin jennys song meanings"-- 4 hits
  • "it is beautiful the world we live in"/"its a beautiful world we live in"-- 4 hits (Agreed.)
  • "lawn mowing gloves" (Again, is there really such a thing as gloves made just for lawn mowing?)
  • "woolfardisworthy" (At first, I was all "Wha. . .?" And then I remembered this entry.)
  • "leveson loosen" (See above.)
  • "pronunciations odd spellings fanshawe" (Yep, one more for that entry.)
  • "michael strang mowing" (No idea how this one got here. . .)
  • "mike oddsandends"
  • "moonbeamers cartoon"/"the moonbeamers cartoon"-- 2 hits (I remember it, vaguely. I more remember that my sister and I each had a Moonbeamers "action figure"/doll, and their hair glowed in the dark. I think one of us had a Moonbeamers lunch box, too, one year.)
  • "trixie-o designs"
  • "muskmare" ((shudder) Nasty things!)
  • "ombre pattern cloth in photoshop" (I'm not sure what they meant by that. . .)
  • "open slatted patio cover photo" (You're joking, right? Our patio doesn't even have it's "floor" in place, yet. Need to work on that. . .)
  • "paw print rag quilt bag" (Hey, that's a neat idea!)
  • "personality trait of l.m.montgomery" (I could name a few, but you're probably better off looking elsewhere.)
  • "photo crochet"
  • "pin cushion"/"pin cushions with mason jar lids"-- 2 hits
  • "peewauket" (Another reference to that book I haven't even read. I can't figure out where I mentioned these things. . .)
  • "scan cyoa books"
  • "seizures/weather conditions" (I guess they might be linked, somehow?)
  • "sewing"
  • "sewing kit in a jar"
  • "sharpshooter shovel"/"shovel handle refitting"-- 2 hits
  • "spelling widget for computer" (Why would you need one? Seems like most programs have one already built in. . .)
  • "sweded movies wikipedia"
  • "youtube gameron guiron" (Oh, how I hate that movie.)
I saved my favorites for last. They're a little more interesting-- and/or amusing-- than the ones listed above.
  • "children's book on dog fashion" (Intriguing. . .)
  • "how do I pronounce st john rivers"/"st john pronounced sinjin" (Yes, it truly is pronounced "sinjin". Weird, huh? But admittedly, it's much easier to say than "saint john".)
  • "how to crouche granny squares" (Yeah, it's just a spelling error, but it looks funny.)
  • "how to prevent finches from defecating in birdhouse" (Is that even possible? I think you just have to clean out the house, at the end of the nesting season. That, or let the next bird who comes along take care of it. (g))
  • "mood killers" (LOL! I wonder if they were looking for a definitive list. And why? Seeking inspiration?)
  • "shoe mcan logo resemblance with allah in bangladesh" (I can't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.)
  • "mom, i'm nearsighted, and need glasses" (This one actually strikes me as kind of sad. Was this person worrying about how to tell "mom" that s/he needs glasses. . .?)
  • "mother hubbard etsy golden" (Added to this list because of the sheer weirdness of this seemingly unrelated string of words.)
  • "odd style fashion for kids" (Kids, prepare for some good old-fashioned school-yard teasing. . .)
  • "rag quilt clog washer" (Uh oh. ;o) Yeah, they say that can happen. Best to take precautions. If possible, wash it the first time or two at the laundromat, and maybe wash it inside a bag, to catch the fluff.)
  • "two striped walking stick sprayed in mouth" (Oh, you poor, poor person! Don't worry, though. It shouldn't cause any long-term damage.)
  • "unblur a purposely blurred photo" (And just why do you need to do that?)
  • "voortman cookies coloring book" (So, is it a coloring book full of drawings of cookies?)
  • "i look through the camera viewfinder with my left eye. is this incorrect?" (Dude, relax. Just do whatever feels right. I promise, no-one's gonna call the camera police on you for putting your left eye to the viewfinder. I do it all the time.)
  • "koink oil" (What is koink oil?)
  • "lawn mowing vocabulary" (There will be a quiz tomorrow, so you'd best study.) ;o)
Well, that concludes this quarter's episode of "Giggle Goofily at That Keyword". ;o) Better go see about doing something slightly more useful. . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wasting a little time. . .

I'm typing so that I have an excuse for not washing dishes right away. ;o) Let's see if I can come up with enough to justify posting. . .

~~ ~~ ~~

Today was Donald's first day of (non-freelance) work at home. He did go into town for a couple hours this morning, but most of the day's been work-from-home. Because this was the first day-- and because there's still a certain unsettled tentativeness to arrangements-- it's obviously too early to make many observations. However, I don't think I can go wrong by stating that not having to wake up at 6 a.m. every weekday is nice. (We set the alarm for 6:55, and I almost made it. I ended up getting up a few minutes before that.)

~~ ~~ ~~

Donald's gotten into a routine of running, over the past several weeks.

When one half of a couple decides to get into better health by exercising, the other half is probably always somewhat torn. On one hand, you're happy that he's doing something good for himself. On the other hand, it brings into sharper focus the uncomfortable fact that you're not doing enough of that, yourself. (g)

You won't catch me running long distances without a very good reason. I can handle sprinting short distances-- or walking longer distances-- but running miles at a time? I can't see myself doing it for the long haul, unless my very life depended on it. (And even then, I think someone would have to keep reminding me: "Hey, you! Yeah, you with the candy bar in one hand and the remote control in the other. Get out there and run or you die!") So many runners say that they never thought they'd last, in the beginning, but now they look forward to it-- can't imagine life without it. (Obviously, running messes with your brain. ;o)) Maybe I'd love running, too, if I ever got into it, but right now, I find it extremely doubtful. Extremely.

(Back again after a while. I'm kind of disoriented, as far as this entry goes, but I'm going to finish it anyway!)

So, I don't want to run, but I would like to find something I can do instead. Preferably something that doesn't feel like a punishment (though that may be asking too much). I think I'd like dancing (in the privacy of my home). . . Maybe a type of aerobics that incorporates dance moves-- or at least can be set to music with a decent beat. Just something to make exercise a little more interesting than "get from Point A to Point B in X minutes".

This morning I spent some time on the stationary bike. At first, I tried reading, but it wasn't enough of a distraction. I kept wanting to either put the book down or just be still so I could focus on the words in front of me. Maybe the fact that I was starting a new book-- still trying to tack down the basics of who's who-- made things worse, but I'm not sure I can focus on a book while I'm biking, even under better circumstances. Finally I just switched on the TV and watched the antics of the Cosby family. TV's a pretty good distraction. Music can be, too, but it has to be the right kind. . . Books on tape might work, if I can keep focused on what's happening.

Anyway, we'll see how it goes.

~~ ~~ ~~

So, if I got up 45 minutes or so later than usual (for a Monday morning), how come I'm sleepy earlier than normal, tonight?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Color IQ

Here's a "color IQ test" I saw some folks tweeting about on Twitter today: FM 100 Hue Test.

(Basically, you have to unscramble little swatches of color until they smoothly bridge the gaps between four pairs of colors.)

I have perfect color vision!

Hurray! ;o) That's more than I can say for my vision in general, but at least my nearsighted eyes can decipher color variation. (g)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More "Doings"

More things I've been doing (again, apart from "the usual"):
  • Enjoying the wind again, last week (even if it was an Ike by-product). Wind is something of a rarity in our summers, except for right before thunderstorms. It's so much more pleasant to breathe when there's a little circulation going! ;o) (Incidentally, our area also had some mild coastal flooding due to Ike. Poor Donald's drives across the Bay were worse for a couple of days because the Causeway was closed.)
  • Looking at Trixie. She definitely has biscuit cream markings on her face and ears, and behind one ear in particular. I'm not sure if they've "settled", yet. I've tried to photograph them, but so far haven't had much success. (They're just not that distinct from the white fur.) Last week, her left ear was up, while the right continued to flop. It would've been adorable if they were to stay that way, but I think they're both more or less standing up, now. And she's still pretty cute, in my biased opinion. ;o)
  • Finding out what kind of a nerd I am. ;o) Turns out I'm an Uber Cool Nerd. Don't believe me? I was a bit skeptical, myself. Even I don't honestly think I'm "uber cool", but NerdTests.com does! See?

    NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

    A different quiz on the same website ranks me as "Lightly Nerdy". I'm satisfied to leave the "Heavily Nerdy" ranking for those nerdier than I. ;o)

    I am nerdier than 51% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

  • Playing around with a new Photoshop technique. I'm still a beginner at layering textures and patterns over photos, but so far I'm having fun with it. (I see a texture photo expedition in my near future. It's too much trouble, having to credit sources. And besides, it'd be fun to know that everything in the finished product was originally captured by little ol' me. Yeah, I never was much for team sports, either. . .) I get the feeling that this is another of those things that other people will shrug about (g), but if you're interested, here's a link to my set of textured photos.
  • Going on a disc golf outing, last Saturday. One of Donald's coworkers arranged it, and we decided to bring Trixie along so she could meet a few more new people. She's definitely at the "I know no strangers" stage of life! Anyone who showed an ounce of interest in her was an instant best friend. She really wanted to run off and meet the dogs and people who weren't part of our group, too. (g) As for the actual disc golf, Donald participated in the game while I wandered around with Trixie, listening to music and taking some photos. That was our first time in Chickasabogue Park. Interesting spot, but probably a little too far of a drive for us to go very often.
  • Counting down the days of Donald's last week at his old job. Only Thursday and Friday are left! I wonder what next week will be like, as we begin adjusting to a totally new set of circumstances. . . Definitely something different!
  • Getting Donald a new office chair, as I think I mentioned before. It's here now, and we'll/he'll probably assemble it tonight. Though I could probably figure it out on my own, I'm going to wait and let him be the head of that project, seeing as it's going to be his chair and all. . . ;o) Here's what it's supposed to look like when it's all put together:(adopting a fake foreign accent) Ees beautivul, no? ;o)
  • Finishing Anne of Windy Poplars. The end had more of a bittersweetness than I'd remembered. It's kind of sad that there could be no references to all those characters in most of her other Anne books, since all but Anne of Ingleside were written prior to AoWP. One of the problems with writing a series "out of order", I guess. (g) As for any references to Katherine Brooke, Rebecca Dew, et al. in AoI. . . There may be some, but I don't remember them. It's been a long time since I read AoI, which isn't one of my favorites and hardly even counts as an Anne book, as far as I'm concerned.
  • Waiting to see where our (most likely to be) new neighbors will choose to build. Again, as far as I know, the proverbial stone hasn't yet been graven, but it's looking more and more like a certainty!
  • Hoping not to pick up any ticks. Twice now Mom and Dad have found multiple ticks on themselves after walking over the newly-cleared land (where they may be building). The "newly-cleared" part is what worries me most. You expect that you might find a tick on yourself after you go walking through tall grass or shrubby wilderness-- but to get them just from walking over open land? Gives me the heebie-jeebies! What's particularly annoying is that it's nearly the time of year I most want to go "wandering". I wonder if spraying our shoes and legs with Deep Woods OFF would keep them away? I don't really love bathing myself in large dosages of DEET, but I'll do almost anything to keep mosquitoes and (shudder) ticks at bay. . .
  • Throwing-- and rolling"-- the frisbee for Trixie. She enjoys chasing it and (sometimes) barking at it before picking it up and (again, sometimes) bringing it back to us. If only we were all so easily amused.
  • Writing this entry in dribs and drabs over the course of days. And now I think I've finally collected enough "dribs"-- and maybe even one or two "drabs"-- to post it on my blog.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another musical interlude ;o)

Apparently, I'm now on a Ray Lynch kick. . .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things I've Been Doing

(Apart from the usual stuff, of course. And the puppy stuff.)

Lately, I've been. . .
  • Trying to come up with at least part of my Christmas gift list. I know I'll probably still end up scrambling at the last minute, but the plan is to have lots done before the tree goes up. ;o)
  • Shopping for computer chairs with Donald. If he's going to be putting in (even) long(er) hours seated before the home computer, he wants something more ergonomic than what we presently have. (Especially after the problems he's had in the past with pain that was most likely associated with sitting for extended periods.) We were surprised to see how little obvious difference there was between the chairs in the stores we visited. For instance, not one of them required you to bend your knees around a padded bar or sit in a kneeling position. (g) Then again, maybe those really kooky models from a few years back were never available in the local stores. . .
  • Hoping for summer to finally back off a little more and begin to mellow into autumn. (It's been breezy today, which is nice, but the humidity and temperatures are still summery.)
  • Being thankful that Ike isn't coming here, but also thinking about the people I know in Texas who might have to deal with it instead.
  • Explaining to Donald that we really need that stash hundreds of tealight candles that we ran into when we were emptying the dining room cyborg. He's threatened to blog about it, if/when he ever starts blogging regularly, so I decided to beat him to the punch. ;o) Tealight candles are emergency supplies, silly! Everyone knows that! Next time we're left in the dark when the power goes out (which admittedly doesn't happen very often, these days), you'll be glad I thought to stock up on economically-priced light sources! Just wait and see!
  • Watching a few shows that are back for a new season-- and some that are brand new. Mostly, though, we're still waiting for the new episodes.
  • Slowly re-reading my way through Anne of Windy Poplars. I always think of it as an autumn book. It isn't all set in fall, of course, but it begins with autumn (and that old, familiar back-to-school atmosphere of excitement), and some of the most memorable passages seem to have an autumn feeling. Also, there are two chapters that showcase LMM's flair for ghoulish tidbits. (I'm thinking of the cemetery stroll and the visit to Tomgallon House.) Both seem suitably spooky reading for Halloween, so they contribute still more autumn flavor. I still enjoy portions of this book very much, but the whole "Anne can make anyone do anything" theme begins to wear on my nerves after a while. (I like Anne as much as the next fan, but come on! She's much more sympathetic when things aren't always going her way and people aren't constantly payiner her pretty compliments. Like when the Pringles are still against her. . . and when that girl whose name I forget storms in and accuses Anne of trying to ruin her engagement.) I'm almost finished with this reread-- just Little Elizabeth's story to finish up-- and I'm itching to start something new.
  • Devising new ways to fill the dogs' Kong toys. (We broke down and got one for Molly, too. It really wasn't fair for Trixie to have one and Molly not-- even though Molly is often exasperating, lately. Still jealous of the new "intruder", I guess.) Right now, my favorite way is to mix peanut butter with kibble and some small bits of bacon-flavored treats. This way they aren't eating quite so many treats per Kong, yet they think the kibble's "special", since it's all coated (lightly) in peanut butter. Peanut butter and bacon seems like an odd combination, but so far there have been no complaints. ;o)

Oh, nostalgia!

Found this on YouTube, and the nostalgia was strong!

ETA: The volume's a bit low, especially to begin with, but it gets better later on in the song.

This (along with Enya's "Aldebaran") always makes me think of two things: drifting through space with stars everywhere-- or being beneath the surface of a calm ocean, looking up through millions of tiny bubbles glinting in shafts of sunlight. Anyone else, or is it just me? (g)

Monday, September 8, 2008


I accidentally published prematurely. Sorry about that!

There's a pretty big change coming in our life, about two weeks from now. (And I really hope the two weeks part tipped you off that it's not a baby. Seriously, I have my hands full with Trixie. No human babies need apply until my "fur baby" is at least housetrained.)

. . . Where was I? Oh yes, the big (non-baby-related) news.

Donald has formally resigned from his position at the company where he's been employed since 2001. Instead, he'll be working for a different company that he "met" through his freelancing.

(To anyone who feels that they ought to have heard about this before now, I promise I haven't really been keeping it a secret! I just didn't want to say too much-- i.e. jinx it ;o)-- until it was fairly well settled, and since then there hasn't been a good opportunity. Anyway. . .)

Only time will tell how things work out, but we both feel that this new job has lots of potential. If nothing else, he won't have such a long commute every day. In fact, he'll probably be spending at least some (maybe even many) of his days working from home! (Quite a change from his daily drive to and from Mobile!) The "work-from-home" element is one of the things that time will tell about. (g) How much time he spends in the home office vs. in the office-office or out at meetings will of course depend on what works out to be the best solution, but in any case, he should be putting in many fewer hours behind the wheel, and that's something I think he's looking forward to!

So, I think that qualifies as a pretty big change. (g)

The other change is just a possible change. It's still not completely decided, but it looks like we may be getting some new neighbors, one of these days. (It's my parents and youngest sister! Shh! [I don't think it's a real secret-- I hope not, since I'm blogging about it now ;o)-- but it's more fun to pretend it's a bit hush-hush.])

Again, nothing's set in stone, and even if they do decide to move here, their new house will have to be built (not to mention septic, well, etc.), so it won't be for months to come. . . But still! (Thinking about a new house is always so exciting, even if it's not your own. (g))

With settled and possible changes-- a new puppy to train-- and a change in season just around the corner, too-- there's definitely more excitement in the air than usual. :o)

News of the Trixibou

Note: This is yet another puppy-only entry. Feel free to skip if you aren't interested in the minutiae of the doggy element of my life. ;o)

Poor Old Cyborg!--

Weeks ago, Trixie did some light chewing on a couple corners of the dining room cyborg, but late last week she moved on to gnawing on various knobs. The time had come to evacuate the cyborg to the main room, where it will be safe from chewing teeth. Of course, it looks a bit odd to have a cyborg standing just a few steps from the TV and sofa, but it can't be helped.

P.S. We call the dining room sideboard a cyborg because, well, we just do. (g) I think it started when Donald misheard me.

Shopping Spree, Puppy Style--
After watching a "You and Your New Puppy"-type orientation DVD, we decided to give the whole crate training approach a try, so we went shopping for a few puppy supplies:
  1. Soft treats in small pieces, so that we can easily reward her for good behaviors. She likes her Milk Bones, but they're just not quite as tempting-- or as easy to dole out a bit at a time.
  2. A crate. We got one large enough (we hope) to accommodate a full-grown Trixie, and in the meantime, we can block off part of it to make it small enough for Puppy Trixie.
  3. A Kong toy. We hope this will help her pass the time she spends in her crate-- and maybe distract her from non-chewables scattered throughout the house, when she's not in the crate. (Cyborgs, for instance. And window sills.)
We have begun the process of getting Trixie used to the sight, sound, and smell of the crate. This is our first experience with crate training, so we're learning as we go.

So far, she seems to like the crate pretty well. She'll go in there and stay for a while, even with the door open, and today she was in with the door shut for ten or fifteen minutes without crying or trying to get out. (A freshly filled Kong was enough to keep her interested for a while.)

(Note: In these photos, you'll see that I haven't yet portioned off part of the crate to make it the right size for a puppy. I'll be doing that today.)

One thing I've noticed is that she sometimes chews on the wire "bars" of the crate. I'm not sure what to do about that. . . I try telling her not to do it, but she usually ignores me or stops for only a moment. Distracting her with toys and treats is only a temporary deterrent. Maybe she'll just get tired of it and eventually stop on her own. Seems like she'd rather chew on her toys than the crate! As long as the doesn't hurt herself or ruin the crate, I guess it's not doing any harm.

Puppy Plans--
Short Term:
I want to get Trixie on the road to being truly house trained. The crate should help with that. It's just a matter of time, practice, and patience. Also, I want to teach her to stop biting, nipping, and chewing inappropriately. (That's a biggie. It's hard to enjoy your time with a puppy when you're constantly having to scold her. I don't want to be the bad guy all of the time!)

Long Term:
I'd really like to eventually have both dogs trained so well that they can be all-house dogs, if we so choose. I can't tell you how sick I am of cardboard barriers around the house-- and yet I don't want to put up baby/puppy gates everywhere, either-- certainly not as a permanent solution!

Right now, I just don't trust Molly enough to let her run freely through the house. She usually behaves well in the confines of the kitchen (and occasionally the breakfast room), but when she and Daisy "escaped" the kitchen in the past, they managed to do some bad things before they were discovered. Also, since she knows she's not usually supposed to be in the rest of the house, she's more likely to submissively urinate when she's out of the kitchen area. (TMI? ;o) Sorry.) Add to that the fact that she's been somewhat less manageable since we brought home Trixie. It's only to be expected, I guess. She's more stubborn about not following commands to go outside, and she's just plain jealous. She's jealous mainly of the toys that Trixie has but that Molly is too big to play with, but probably also of the attention that Trixie gets. (On the positive side, she's getting along better with Trixie, now. They're still not fast friends [despite Trixie's best efforts], but I guess I can't blame Molly for being annoyed when Trixie touches Molly's feet, for example. She doesn't like for anyone to do that. [sigh])

Meanwhile, Trixie's of course too young (and untrained) to be trusted on her own, either. I can only handle so much at one time, and I want to take advantage of Trixie's increased impressionability (as a puppy), so she's first. Once she's better under control, then we'll see if Molly can handle more freedom, too. . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Where's Ike Gonna Strike?

(Sorry. I couldn't help myself. It was either that or "Take a Hike, Ike!". . . Oops! I was supposed to keep that one to myself, for fear of running off the two or three of you still reading. . .)

It hasn't been long since I was obsessively checking the latest computer models of Gustav. (Can you believe I just had to stop and really think to remember that name?! Yeah, it's after ten-- getting late for me-- but still!) Now there's Ike.

I captured this screenshot (from Wunderground) an hour or so ago:

Now they have a new one up-- one that puts it further to our west, which is better news for us, but not so good for Louisiana and/or Texas. . . Of course (as always) it's still up in the air. (Ha ha. Little meteorology humor for you, there. ;o)) Ike could go almost anywhere in the Gulf, as far as we know.

For now, I'm just keeping an eye on the forecasts and hoping we're spared a bad storm.

Gender Guesser

Note: This looks familiar, so I've probably seen it before. Whether I've gotten around to writing about it is another matter. It's unlikely to interest anyone but me, so don't hesitate to skip it. :o)

I happened upon a "Gender Guesser", recently. No, it's not based on appearance. (If it were, I'd be mightily offended. Read on to see why. (g)) I won't try to explain how it works (because I don't really know), but basically you plug a chunk of writing into this program, and it tries to guess whether the author is/was male or female. There's one "score" for formal writing and another for informal writing. It's an interesting concept, so of course I had to give it a try. (And then another. And another.)

First, I tried my last entry (barring the part where I briefly quoted someone else). Results for informal: weak female. (No, that doesn't mean that I lack strength or moral integrity. ;o) It indicates that, according to the program, my writing style registered as female, but not emphatically so.) The "score" was 1009 female vs. 828 male, to be precise.

(It strikes me as odd that the "formal" score for that same text scored as weak male, meaning if I'd written it for something other than a casual blog-- as an essay, for example-- they'd guess it was written by a male. I wonder why would that be. . .)

Next, I went one entry further back, to the story about the trials and tribulations of life with Trixie. Results for informal: 607 f to 1186 m, male. Formal: 744 f to 717 m, weak female.

I skipped a couple of entries, then, because they were under the recommended 300-word minimum. So next up was a bulleted list. Very informal. Informal score: 336 f vs. 644 m, male. (The formal score was weak male.)

(By now, I was obsessed, so I kept going, even though the notes on the Gender Guesser page indicate that numerous texts written by the same person are likely to yield similar results. (g))

Entry about Gustav, Trixie and car tags:
Informal: 1120 f vs 1573 m, weak male
Formal: 941 f vs 846 m, weak female

"Disconnected Thoughts" entry:
Informal: 855 f vs 1271 m, weak male
Formal: 693 f vs 653 m, weak female

"Pupdate" entry:
Informal: 589 f vs. 588 m, weak female
Formal: 777 f vs. 416 m, female

"Random / what else is new" entry:
Informal: 3078 f vs 3606 m, weak male
Formal: 1947 f vs. 2230 m, weak male

So. . . Most of my "informal" results are male (albeit a weak male ;o)), while the "formal" results tend more toward weak female. Either my "informal" writing style should be classified as "formal" or I have a somewhat masculine style of writing.

Then there's the whole European English vs. American English element: "In general, if the difference between male and female weight values is not significant (a "weak" score), then the author could be European." Of course, obviously I'm not European, so. . . (shrug)

There's also this: "Professional female writers (and experienced hobbyists) frequently use male writing styles." I'm by no means a professional writer, but maybe I qualify as an experienced hobbyist.

Anyway, however unreliable it may be, the program served as a nice little amusement. :o)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Peer Pressure

This week's prompt from Booking Through Thursday:

Have you ever felt pressured to read something because ‘everyone else’ was reading it? Have you ever given in and read the book(s) in question or do you resist? If you are a reviewer, etc, do you feel it’s your duty to keep up on current trends?

Hm. . . I haven't really felt pressured to read anything just because other people are reading it.

But then again, I may be weird that way. I was one of just about two or three girls in my sixth grade class who didn't like New Kids on the Block-- a "boy band" from the late 80s/early 90s. Or at least I was one of the few who didn't at least pretend to like them. (shrug) I was also never "peer pressured" into smoking, drinking, or doing drugs. Whether this is because I've always been a strong-minded individual who refuses to be made to do what I don't want to do or merely because no-one wanted to "peer pressure" me, I can't say-- but obviously I prefer the former explanation. (g)

(As far as the alcohol and drugs go, it probably helped that I was never in a situation where underage drinking and drug-use were happening, as far as I can recall. Frankly, I probably would've been scared to death, if I had been, so thoroughly had it been pounded into my brain that those things were dangerous.)

With that said, I have read (do read and will read) books that I see are popular. I figure that if that many people enjoy them, I might, too. However, I don't feel obliged to pretend to like them, myself, if I don't-- and I'm likely to be more cautious with praise of a popular book than I am with something more obscure.

This holds true for other things, too. For instance, I like some Beatles songs, but I'm less likely to ooh and ahh over The Beatles than, say, The Wailin' Jennys. Why? Someone has to act as a counterbalance for all the silly people who worship things simply because everyone else is doing it. ;o)

Oh, and I'm not a reviewer, so maybe I needn't bother with that part of the question, but no, I don't feel that it's my "duty" to read anything I don't want to read. Maybe back in school, this was more of an issue, but as things now stand, no.

. . . I think this wandered far enough from the original topic. . .

"Why, you little--! If you weren't so cute. . ."

Written on Tuesday:

Trixie must be one pretty cute puppy, to still be alive and kicking after this afternoon. ;o)

I go into "her room" (dining room, minus the table, chairs, rug, and floor-dwelling decor) and see that there are. . . things waiting to be cleaned. Oh well! Such is the life of a puppy owner, etc., etc. With a philosophical sigh, I get to work.

I begin by consolidating her stuff-- toys and blankets-- into the non-messy corner (where she sleeps, and therefore where she never leaves a mess), because she has them strewn all over the place.

Her "stuff" includes her cardboard box, which was originally meant to be a place for her to sleep-- then turned into a barrier between her corner and the rest of the room-- and lately has been "repurposed" into a giant chew toy that she frequently drags into the middle of the room.

So, I go to move the box, only to make a gruesome discovery. Apparently there were other. . . things. . . waiting to be cleaned, before Trixie began dragging and pushing her box around the room. Things that have now been artistically smeared across both floor and box.

I summon Donald to come and occupy Trixie, because clearly this job has just edged up two or three notches on the Gross-O-Meter, and it will require my full attention. (Cleaning a huge mess with a puppy biting your ankles and trying to play with the mop and rag is not exactly efficient. It's not healthy for my blood pressure, either.)

I'll mercifully skip ahead a few paces (leaving the gory details to imagination). The box is on its way outside to the burn pile, and the floor is once again clean. (For the umpteenth time. I tell you, I'm wearing through the vinyl! Lately, if someone were to ask what "scent" I'm wearing [happens all the time, ha ha (g)], my answer would be "Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner", and my exercise equipment of choice is the Libman Wonder Mop.)

So Trixie is returned to her room. The first thing she does is make a new puddle!!

Grumbling, I go right back to cleaning, wondering what her next trick will be. I can't really complain too much, after all, as it is my job to house-train her, and so far I haven't done much toward that goal.

(By this time I've come to the conclusion that my mopping solution isn't quite as fresh as I'd like, but I try to strike while the puddle is new, to prevent the little darling from accidentally stepping in it and tracking it over the whole floor. I add "change mop water" to my mental to-do list, though. . .)

And then I see them. Chew marks on the windowsill. Both corners.

Utterly infuriating! After all the trouble I've taken to put up as much furniture protection as possible! After weeks of rushing in to check on every mysterious chewing sound I hear!

It's not exactly the first time she's turned her little demon teeth on the furniture (and one wall!!) of the room (not to mention us), but coming right on top of the other annoyances--!

Good grief, that's infuriating!

I just keep telling myself that one of these days she'll grow out of the biting and chewing stage. . . One of these days, she'll be well-behaved. . . And we'll have earned that well-behaved dog!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Little Trixie Pupdate

She's still growing. (g)

She's still not house-trained, but that's more my fault than hers. So far, it's just been easier to clean up after her than to try to teach her where to go. Though today, when we tried to get her to "go" while we were outside (so we could ooh and ahh and plant the seed of knowledge, etc.), she stubbornly refused, even though we both walked in little circles while I said (in a sing-song voice) "toilet! toilet!". You may laugh, but I've read that it works-- and it has worked-- inside the house. Just seeing someone else walking in a circle seems to make puppies think, "Oh, yeah! That reminds me, I really need to go potty right now." Something along the lines of the "contagious yawn" theory. ;o)

Her coloring continues to gradually change. The freckles on her toes getting darker, and she may be getting a couple of new freckles on her snout. Also, some of the fur around her ears and face is now more of a biscuit cream color than a pure white. Daisy was all white (as far as we can recall-- except for those times she was getting a little dirty, of course), and I think Skipper is pure white, too-- but we knew that biscuit cream fur was a possibility with Eskies. Funny, though, how the biscuit color didn't become obvious until she'd gotten a little older.

I need to take more photos, as I'm sure she's changing day-to-day. I also want to put together some photos for comparison purposes. Who has time for laundry and general house-cleaning when there are such more important things to be done?! ;o)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wet & windy, but not too wild.

The feeder bands we got from Gustav haven't caused us much trouble. Sure, it's been pretty rainy and windier than usual, but that's about it. So far, the worst Gustav's done to us is make us a little bit sleepy all day, what with the rain and general dreariness. We've had barely any thunder and the power never even flickered (though the Internet is a bit sluggish right now, for some reason). All in all, we've gotten much worse than this from run-of-the-mill afternoon thunderstorms. (That's not to say that other people in the area haven't had some damage, of course.)

Now I'm just wondering how folks west of us have fared. . . I'm sure it wasn't quite so easy for some of them, but I've yet to check the news. The last time we had our local TV news on, some of the anchors were being irritating-- basically making a mountain out of a molehill-- talking about danger on the roads when the video clearly showed that the roads aren't any worse than they usually are after a rainy day. When things aren't truly bad, they have to make them out to be worse than they are. It's embarrassing.

But anyway, I'm glad to report that we're all fine, here. :o)