Monday, December 29, 2008

Vacuum Belts, Swedish Candy, and Whoppers

I was right in the middle of vacuuming when I noticed a smell of burnt rubber and saw that the roller brush wasn't moving. I had a hunch the belt had snapped-- one that turned out to be correct. Donald thinks it may have gotten caught on something and burnt through from the friction. I'm not sure what happened, but at least it looks like we'll be able to get a replacement part at Lowe's for a little over a dollar per replacement belt (in a 2-pack).

I'm a bit annoyed that we're having to make any repairs this early in our ownership of this particular vacuum, but at least it's a cheap repair, and one that shouldn't be too difficult.


A Christmas package from Sweden arrived today. (Thank you, everyone!) Donald should be all set for Swedish candy for quite some time to come. (g)

Gelé Hallon:
(These are raspberry-flavored gummy candies. Hallon = raspberry.)

Many, many Bilar:
(These are chewy, car-shaped candies-- Donald's favorite.)

There were also a selection of Marabou chocolate bars. One in particular intrigues me:

Marabou Amigo. "Crunchy corn snacks". Judging by the illustration, there are bits of Bugle-esque corn-flavored "chips" embedded in the chocolate. I've never heard of such a thing. I wonder how it'll taste. . .


Speaking of candy. . . "Santa" brought me some Whoppers (malted milk balls). I'm proud to say that I've held off opening them until this afternoon. (Of course this monumental display of self-control had nothing to do with the fact that there were various and sundry other holiday treats scattered through the house. No, nothing at all to do with that.)

Anyway, I came across one that was soft in the middle. If you've eaten these candies, you know what I mean. Usually, they're crisp-- even sharp-- in the center, but there are usually two or three in a carton that are chewy in the middle. Still tasty, but not an ideal milk ball. They're duds. So then I wondered if that was the origin of the Milk Dud. As it turns out, probably not-- at least not according to anything I was able to find with a quick Google search. (I haven't eaten Milk Duds in a very long time. Maybe they taste nothing like the Whoppers "duds".)

So, while I was doing "research" for information to back up my very interesting Whoppers/Milk Duds theory, I came across some people commenting on how horrible Whoppers are-- and a few who like the candy, but could only eat a few before feeling sick. I imagine it means I lack empathy or something equally awful, but I still find it amazing that there are people with such different tastes from my own. I mean, yes, technically I realize that there are weirdos out there who actually enjoy Julmust. There are even a few poor souls who prefer the lemon-flavored Starburst candies to the cherry ones-- and people who (shudder) don't like any cherry-flavored candy. (Seriously. How do they summon the will to get out of bed in the morning?) I guess I just prefer not to dwell on the darker side of life. ;o)

Was there a point to all this? No, not really. (You're welcome.) Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to include this question I found on Yahoo! Answers:

Yes, Random Stranger, it's ok. (Just wait until no-one's looking.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Oh yeah. . .

Kolby Smiles, too. ;o)
Originally uploaded by MossyOwls

I uploaded some photos I took on Christmas Eve (at my parents' house) to my Flickr photostream. None of them are very Christmasy, though. Just pictures of Mandy and Kolby (their Shelties) and random things around the backyard.

Christmas Recap

We had a very nice Christmas again, this year. The weather did turn out to be fairly gross-- off-and-on rain, pervasive dampness, and unseasonable warmth-- and it's still muggy out there. Of course, it could've been worse, and since our festivities mostly took place indoors, we hardly had to think about the weather.

We got to see family on Christmas Eve (father's side of the family, and later a cozy gathering of just my parents, Kimberly, Carrie & Victor, and ourselves) and on Christmas Day (mother's side of the family). I didn't get everything done that I'd wanted to-- I probably ought to add "as usual" here-- but I got enough done, I guess, and now I can start working on the ideas I didn't get to so that I have things ready when birthdays (or next Christmas) roll around again.

Donald and I shot some video-- which I've yet to even load onto the computer-- so maybe there'll be some short clips, later on. We also have yet to give Molly and Trixie their gifts-- another event to video. ;o)

Donald put in some hours working from home on Wednesday morning and Friday, but we still managed to squeeze some fun in there-- and he got to talk to his brother and mother yesterday. Now we're probably going to spend the weekend being lazy and doing just whatever we please. (So. . . as usual, mostly, though perhaps with a little more luxuriance-- finally able to "do nothing" without a mile-long holiday-themed to-do list in the back of my mind.) I've done precious little housework this whole week, and frankly, I don't intend to start until Monday (except for what absolutely must be done).

Off to luxuriate, then! ;o) (While trying to ignore the pain I've had in the right side of my neck for a few days. And, which is much more difficult to do, trying to believe-- not just repeat to myself, but persistently believe-- that it's just an irritating pain and not a sign of something serious. Stupid hypochondria!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Do Androids Munch on Electronic Moonpies?

Oh my.

Still can't believe it? Here's another video:

Having one of your major claims to fame being Mardi Gras is bad enough, but now this? I'm sorry, but that thing just looks silly, and I can't believe it's costing the city of Mobile $9000. Seriously, there's no way it should cost that much to make a giant fake moonpie decorated with white Christmas lights.

Counting Down to Christmas

It was cold yesterday-- well, cold after a week with highs in the 70s. Yesterday, it wasn't supposed to even reach 50! (That qualifies as "cold" to me. (g) Also, I'm not completely sure if the forecast turned out to be correct. I really need to get an accurate thermometer for outside, one of these days.)

Personally, I prefer a little chill right around Christmas. Snow is usually way too much to hope for, but there should at least be a little nip in the air. Unfortunately, we're forecast to have warmer temperatures (and rain) by Wednesday and Thursday. Oh well! We'll just have to make the most of it! But this might mean no after-meal stroll. . .

Online, everyone seems to get quiet right around this time of year. Too busy with Christmas preparations and early celebrations to blog, I guess. I am, too, but Molly and Trixie woke me earlier than usual, this morning-- too early to warrant starting any big, before-breakfast projects.

Of course, now that I'm here, I can't think of much to say, because the main thing on my mind is what I've managed to finish from my gift-making list and how much is still left to accomplish. And I can't very well write about that here, where some of my family are likely to read it.

Shall I also admit that I have nearly all my wrapping left to do? I was waiting until I had absolutely everything ready to wrap. Well, that's alright. Gift-wrapping is one of those things that put me in the Christmas mood. It's as good as Christmas music!


Donald was excited, earlier this month, to discover that World Market is carrying a Swedish Christmas treat. In years past, World Market has been a source for genuine Swedish pepparkakor ("pepper cakes", gingersnaps) and glögg (mulled wine, though I think ours was a nonalcoholic version). (The pepparkakor are yummy; the glögg is. . . not, in my not-so-humble opinion.) This time, Donald found Julmust:

Julmust ("Christmas Must") is a special Swedish soda usually only sold around Christmas. (From what I've read, it sounds like they're expanding and selling it for other holidays and seasons as well, but I think it's mostly a Christmas tradition.) According to Donald (and Wikipedia), Julmust outsells Coca-Cola during the Christmas season-- with Coke sales sometimes dropping by as much as half!

My observations? First, it's extremely foamy when poured from a freshly opened bottle. Second, it looks just like Coke, aside from the thick foam, which eventually fades away.

When Donald said I "had" to taste it, at first I wasn't entirely unwilling. Despite my experience with glögg, I didn't see how any cola could be that bad. Still, better to err on the side of caution, so I gave it a tentative sniff. Hm. Distinctly medicinal. Not a good sign. I knew that nothing that smelt that way could taste good, but I took a sip anyway. Yep, just as I'd feared-- another nasty-tasting concoction. It tasted a little like beer smells-- possibly because hops and malt were on the list of ingredients. (Incidentally, I think it's funny that the ingredient that makes malted milk balls and malted milkshakes sooooo delicious is also in beer and whiskey, which seem kind of gross to me.)

My final verdict is "yucky", but apparently Swedes love the stuff. Wikipedia says that the country of about 9 million consumes 45 million liters each December-- about half of the total soft drink consumption for that month.


After just a little playing around with video, I've already come up with this list of reasons why photography-- particularly macro photography-- is easier (for me) than videography:
  • Photoshop is so much simpler than the video editing software! (Of course, this is because I'm more familiar with Photoshop-- or at least with the parts of it I use.)
  • Processing photos doesn't require long waits. Rendering video sometimes does, especially if you try to use fancy effects. Fancy effects applied to photos take no time, by comparison.
  • (Macro) photography is extremely focused. You find one "beauty spot"-- even in the midst of ugliness-- and in the end product, that is all that's visible. The other people viewing the photo have no idea whether that flower was growing in a woodland glen surrounded by hundred-year-old oaks or by the littered shoulder of a noisy highway. It's easier to idealize the world through photography, and that's generally what I like to do with the camera. (I'm sure it's easy for some people to do that with video, too, but I'm not at that point.)
Most of the problem is inexperience, which can be remedied with practice. Once this Christmas rush is past. . .


Ok, enough chit-chat. Back to the top-secret stuff. ;o)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Molly gets in on the fun. ;o)

Another video! Both dogs are in this one that Donald shot during the weekend. It's a very short one-- under one minute long.

(I still know just the bare minimum to get the videos online-- lots to learn, yet-- but I guess that's technically all I really have to know, at this point.)

Molly and Trixie from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.

Also: I suppose I shouldn't complain too much about a site that hosts my videos (500MB a week, at least) for free (Thanks, btw!), but I don't like the way that Vimeo fibs about how long it's going to be before my video is converted. Someone doesn't understand how time works. . . Of course, I haven't tried any of the other video hosting sites out there. They may be just as bad (or worse) about that. Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. :o)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Actually, the tree's been up a while, now, but it wasn't until last week that I felt like photographing it-- and then I had to get around to uploading the photos. . .

Christmas Tree 2008

There are a few more photos (close-ups of ornaments, mostly) on my Flickr page, if you're interested. I know how exciting it is to look at photos of someone else's Christmas tree. ;o)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trixie in Action

YouTube was taking forever to do anything today, so I finally decided to use another video hosting site-- Vimeo. Vimeo ended up taking longer than I expected, too, since I had to wait "in line" forty-five minutes to have the video converted-- and then another ten minutes once the conversion began. Not that I had to actually stand there and wait, of course. . . But I'm impatient to see how it turns out, because this is my first time ever uploading a video. It's a clip of-- you guessed it-- Trixie. And you thought the endless stream of photos was bad! Now I'll bombard you with pictures that move and bark! Mwahahahaha! ;o) (Well, this one's been dubbed over with music, so yapping not included, but one of these days you'll get to hear her bark, I'm sure. Lucky you!)

Anyway, here it is!

Trixie at Play from Michael Johansson on Vimeo.

Snippets du Jour

Here is yet another handful of snippets.

You're used to them by now, right?
You've come to expect them.
Actually, you've even grown fond of them, and you'd be disappointed if I were to start writing long, cohesive, essay-like blog entries. "This is a fine treatise on the role of technology in the modern home, but. . . where are the snippets?" you'd whisper tremulously, your eyes widening in disbelief. Because you love snippets. You're not sure why, but somehow they simply make you happy. Deep down inside, where it really counts.

. . . Right?

Just pretend, and eventually it'll be true.


I hate to admit it, considering some of the things I've written before, but after reading a recent Cake Wrecks entry, which included a link to this story, I wonder if maybe (in some very rare cases) there should be someone keeping an eye on the naming of American children. . . (I still can't support the idea of every name being subject to some agency's approval, though. Surely there are other methods of addressing this kind of problem, rather than giving the government even more control of our lives.)

What a sickening pair of parents! So many people simply shouldn't be trusted with the care of children, and this is a prime example of that fact.


My parents discovered yesterday that their house is now visible through Google Map's Street View feature. And not only is my paternal grandparents' home visible, but you can also see my grandfather and his dog out in their front yard! (g)

As for our house, our mailbox and the spot where the easement meets the road are there, but they didn't go down our little dirt road. And for some reason, they're missing a tiny bit of the main road, so you can only catch a distant glimpse of my maternal grandparents' home.

I still think it's a little weird, seeing familiar places (and pets! and people!) on these maps. . .


Ready for another instance of technology being a little creepy?

Last night Donald shopped around for tickets to and from Sweden (to attend his grandmother's funeral and visit a while with his family). Then this morning, while reading some random blog, I was stunned to see an Orbitz ad with a clickable link for flights from Mobile to Gothenburg. Obviously, this ad was based on his searches, but. . . is it just me, or isn't that kind of creepy?
I'm just silly, probably, but I don't quite like it, though I suspect it's a trend in online advertising.

It's one thing for Amazon to keep track of what I search for and put related goods on "my" version of their homepage. I'm used to that kind of thing within a single website, but once I leave that page, I don't expect them to keep following me around with personalized ads (beyond e-mail, of course).

is like. . . Imagine browsing the books in a ("real life" brick-and-mortar) shop, only to be accosted on the street (the next day!) by some stranger with an assortment of related titles. "Hey! I saw you were looking at books about American Eskimo Dogs the other day. Have you ever read Eskies and the Women Who Love Them? Or how about Take the Pesky Out of Your Eskie? I recommend that one particularly, because I also saw on your blog the other day that you were complaining about your puppy destroying socks. . ."

Well. Maybe it's not that extreme. Still a strange sensation, though.


Ha! I just read that "Sugar" from Survivor: Gabon (Yes, I watch Survivor. You wanna make something of it? ;o)) is actually an actress. As opposed to, you know, your friendly neighborhood "pin-up girl". (I know, I know. What can I say? This show is one of my guilty pleasures. Much of what's available on TV these days qualifies as a guilty pleasure!) She was even in a few episodes of Gilmore Girls! I don't know why I'm surprised, but I am. . . Oh, reality TV, you're so not reality.


The weather here is unseasonably warm. On the other hand, it's very quiet outside. I hadn't thought about it until I watched a bit of video we shot in September (I think). The sound of insects humming was so loud! During the summer, the humming, chirping, and buzzing never seems to cease, but by mid-December, the insect noise is greatly reduced, and I'd forgotten all about it. It doesn't take long, does it?


Better call that done. . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sad News from Sweden

We learned over the weekend that Donald's farmor ("father's mother") had passed away.

The family had been aware of her failing health, so at least it wasn't a total shock for anyone, but of course you're never completely prepared for the reality of losing someone from your family circle.

I'm keeping her family in my thoughts and prayers, hopeful that they find solace in the fact that she lived a long, full life.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now, *that* will wake you up. . .

Living in a house where there are only adults and dogs, you don't really have to worry much about what comes into the house via TV, radio, and so on. Every now and then it crosses my mind that something I'm watching would require sending kids out of the room-- or waiting until they were asleep-- but most of the time, it's just not something I think about.

Sad though it may be, I think most people have come to expect that there will be (lots of) things that aren't "child-appropriate" or "family-friendly" on broadcast TV at night. However, despite the changing mores of our society, I was still surprised (before 8 a.m. this morning) to see nearly nude photos of Jennifer Aniston blazoned across the TV as I ate my cereal. That's not what I expect or want to see on the morning news. I pictured my (theoretical) kids: One minute they're happily (or groggily?) munching their breakfasts while a weather map dominates the screen. (Ah, weather. My favorite thing to watch in the morning. So soothing. . .) The next, they're looking at photos of a woman wearing nothing but a tie. That scenario makes me mad, and I don't care if the tie was strategically placed.

Call me a prude, if you like, but it just seemed completely unnecessary. But then again, so does most of what's on those stupid national news programs. . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Oh, the joys of dog ownership. . .

A white dog and red clay don't mix, but try telling Trixie that. . .

Why, you dirty dog, you!

Whut?  You got sumthin' to say about it?

Quizzes and "My Day So Far"

First, some pointless quizzes to disrupt the tedium of a rainy day:

Saw this quiz on someone's blog today: Is you cat plotting to kill you? (I feel like I've seen it before, which probably means that you all have, too...) Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this particular problem, but for you cat-owners out there, it might be worth your time. ;o)

Dog-lovers: Click the image below to take the "Name That Dog Breed" quiz.

Name That Dog Breed

I only got one wrong, and wouldn't you know that the one I'd miss would be the cocker spaniel? (g) (Sorry, Molly.) I knew it was some type of spaniel, but guessed Brittany spaniel instead, because. . . I don't know why. I guess I didn't know what the Brittany looked like. Now I'll spend the rest of the day with my head hung in shame. ;o)

One more quizzy link:

Name That Candy Bar

I'm thinking that this is one of those quizzes where the lower your score, the better. ;o) I was altogether too familiar with many of these candy bars. (Honestly, though, I haven't had most of those in years. Funny how I can remember what's in a candy bar I haven't eaten since high school, probably, yet I forget where I put my jeans half a year ago!)


Now for some thrilling snippets that I like to call. . .

My Day So Far:
  • Rain, rain, and more rain. Woken early by lightning & thunder. Now things have calmed down, but it's been raining off and on all day. Usually, a little rain is ok, but today, I'd actually have preferred dry weather. (Also, see next item.)
  • Trying to keep the puppy satisfied with staying in her crate as much as possible, which isn't so easy, now that she's gotten used to being outside much of the day. Leaving her loose in the house isn't feasible, at this point, unless I can watch her like a hawk the whole time.
  • Putting away cleaned dishes.
  • Picking (and tossing over the fence) a crop of (inedible) mushrooms that had sprung up in our yard. This was an effort to keep Trixie from sampling them. I don't think she would-- and I don't really know if they'd hurt her, even if she did-- but I thought about removing them, and having thought it, knew that if I didn't, I'd never forgive myself if she actually ate them and was poisoned. (Plus, there were quite a few of them-- big ones, some with red caps-- and I thought she'd be likely to notice them.) And then of course Trixie saw what I was doing and was possibly more interested in them than if I'd just left them where they were. (sigh)
  • Putting away the boxes the Christmas decorations were in. Still need to arrange the nativity and a few knick-knacks.
  • Run out in the rain to get something from the mail lady. (It wouldn't fit in the mailbox.)
  • A couple loads of laundry (towels and whites).
  • Made the bed. (Always harder this time of year. All those layers add up-- especially on a king size bed-- and it's hard to get them to budge.)
  • Tidied up a messy jumble of boxes and packaging stuff. (Had to, to get past them to the closet where the Christmas decoration storage goes.)
  • Lunch. (Ham salad sandwich. Pretty good, if I say so myself.)
  • Trying to clear off the table and counter so that I can put on a seasonally appropriate table cloth and a few decorations. Those surfaces are almost always cluttered. Very bad habit-- but hard to break, since they're so conveniently placed by the door. . .
  • Vacuuming much of the house.
  • Asking Trixie why she's barking. Does she want to go outside? Not particularly. But I put her out there anyway. (g) (Don't worry-- it's not even raining right now.)
  • Feeling stressed out by all the things I need to do this month. . .
  • Etc.
(Incidentally, I know that my list isn't "parallel". I've just decided to break as many of the rules as I like-- and that's one I can certainly do without, today.)

Now. Back to the de-cluttering. . .

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This & That

The other day, I pulled out the scrapbooking stuff for the first time since August (I think). There were a handful of pages with everything in place but the captions, which I'd left off until I could make sure I got the locations right. (These were pages of photos from our trip to Norway, which was extremely unstructured-- the type of trip where we didn't know much about what we were looking at, sometimes. It was so beautiful that we didn't really need to know anything to appreciate it, but now, I'd like to put names to some of those unidentified places. It took me a while to pinpoint a few of them, but that just made it more exciting when I finally did.)

I'm almost ready to start on completely fresh pages, now that I really ought to be focusing my energy on my Christmas list. (Such as, you know, making one. I'm not that great at figuring out what people might want or need-- always second-guessing myself. . .)

^^^ ^^^ ^^^

Speaking of Christmas, a couple of local radio stations have been playing holiday music 24-7 since before Thanksgiving. Now that it's finally the Right Time for Christmas music, I decided to tune in while scrapbooking.

The first little bit was nice and cozy. Maybe they weren't all my favorite songs, but it was pleasant to have a random mix of songs that I myself hadn't carefully chosen. Even with the mp3 player on "random", I know exactly what's in the pool to begin with-- so it's not quite the same experience as listening to the radio.

However, as time went on, I began to see a pattern-- one which became more obvious when I listened to the radio again, another day or two. Apparently these radio stations have a very limited number of Christmas songs available. Either that, or they only really like about 30 songs, because they play the same ones over and over and over again. (I seem to recall this from previous years, as well. . .)

This constant repetition of songs gets old in a hurry. Yes, there are only so many Christmas/holiday melodies to begin with, but there are plenty of different versions of them available!

Pointless complaint, but oh well. There it is, anyway.

^^^ ^^^ ^^^

Remember how I was complaining about how none of the pants that used to fit me fit this year? Well, part of that mystery's been solved.

While dressing yesterday morning, I thought I remembered, somewhere in the back of my dimming, nearly-thirty-year-old brain, a particular pair of jeans. That memory triggered one of another pair, and so on. But. . . where were those pants? I couldn't find them in any of my usual hiding places for out-of-season clothes. Finally, I walked back to stand in front of the chest of drawers and realized that, hey, there are four drawers there, and I haven't looked into the fourth in many moons! (Gosh, I sound ditzy. I think I am getting ditzier as time goes by. Scary.)

So, until now, despite several weeks of "pants weather" and searching each morning for something to wear, I'd just never noticed that fourth drawer-- the drawer, it turns out, where I was keeping most of my comfortably-fitting pants, the last time it was cold enough to need them.

The good news: I now have several more pair of wearable pants. Though I still want to lose a little around the waist, at least I have something to wear in the meantime.

The bad news: Apparently my memory is faulty. How could I walk by that dresser several times a day and never realize that there was a whole drawer I wasn't (currently) using? Is this how it feels when you first begin to lose your mind? I'm going to at least pretend to believe that everyone does this-- that it's due to being such a creature of habit that I simply cease to see things that I don't use on a regular basis. (Maybe this could also be an excuse-- er, explanation for clutter and unfinished projects. . .)

^^^ ^^^ ^^^

Earlier, I was enjoying a rare peaceful and quiet morning at the computer. Usually, Trixie can only go fifteen to thirty minutes in the morning without barking to either go outside or be played with. Today, she was already outside, and for some reason, she wasn't yet barking or "bouncing the door" to tell us that she was ready to come back in.

Uh oh. That sent up a red flag. (Just like parents always say about their kids, any puppy owner knows that too much quiet usually indicates that mischief is afoot, somewhere.)

I betook myself to the back yard, looking for her, and soon enough, here she came bouncing toward me. As soon as she saw that I'd seen her, she turned and ran back to something she'd left on the lawn. Something dark and longish and oh-my-gosh-is-that-a-snake?? I called out to her-- pointlessly, as she had already reached it. (Yes, believe it or not, my frantic call of "Wanna go inside?! TREAT?!" went unheeded.)

I had just enough time to think, "Well, it seems to be still. Maybe she's killed it..." before she lifted it and I saw that it was a piece of fabric. Fast-forward a few minutes and some toy-squeaking distraction efforts, and I'm holding a soggy black sock. She's always had a fondness for socks, but this was the first time she'd had her way with one since her baby days, and she took full advantage of it. Now it's not so much a sock as it is the new, trendy, sock-y equivalent of the fingerless glove. Everyone will be wearing them, soon! ;o)

Oh, Trixie.

^^^ ^^^ ^^^

We put up our Christmas tree over the weekend. I have yet to put away the boxes and vacuum all the needles and bits of glittery garland that fell around the room in the process of putting it up-- and until that's done, no photos!-- but it is good to have the tree up. Christmas is sneaking up on us early this year. Or at least that's what it feels like. . . So much to do, so little time!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Now We're Cookin'!

I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please stop hitting me with that oven mitt! I tried to resist the Cliché Title urge, but I was weak! ;o)

The new range (which we ordered during an after-Thanksgiving sale) arrived today, and the old one (long may it rust) was carted away.

Here's the "before" photo:

Old Range

And here's the "after":

New Range

(If you like, you can click either of those photos to go to the photo on Flickr, where I have notes for each.)

After we gave the surface a "protective coating" of the cleaning stuff that came with the unit (like a good little girl and boy, because the instructions told us to (g)), Donald wanted to try out the "Turbo Boil" feature.

Look! The burners glow red when they're on!! Kewl! ;o)

And yes, the water boiled! ;o) And pretty quickly, too, which was nice, seeing as it is a Turbo Boil burner. . .

Ignore our giddy joy at the boiling of water.
Y'see, we're jist not used to these newfangled indoor cookin' contraptions. (g)

Anyway, now I have to become a great "cooker girl", to live up to our shiny new range. How hard can it be, right?

A Kinder, Gentler Prison Sentence. . .

Good grief.

I just read this entry at "A Swedish American in Stockholm"*, a blog I stumbled upon a few months ago. This particular entry is primarily his reaction to the news of a convicted murderer's escape in Stockholm.

The facts of the case are these:
  • The man was convicted of murder and attempted murder.
  • He was sentenced to 14 years, but would've been eligible for parole in July, after serving only ten years.
  • He escaped while he was out shopping with a couple of "guardians"! (Yes, you read that right. A convicted murderer still serving his sentence was out running a shopping errand!)
  • The "guardians" were surprised that he ran away (ha!), because apparently he was a model prisoner on his eight previous supervised temporary releases.
Let me reiterate: Good grief!

Well-- but really, it makes perfect sense. You can't keep someone cooped up like that without the occasional treat. You know, a little trip now and then for some variety. A chance to stretch his legs and mingle with society at this most festive time of the year. Keeping him shut away from the rest of the world without a holiday now and then would be inhumane. I mean, it's not like he's a murderer or something. Oh, wait. . .

The article closes with a reassuring message from the Stockholm police representative: The escaped prisoner is not considered dangerous. Well, thank goodness for that, at least! If he'd been one of those dangerous murderers-- one shudders to think what could happen! Of course, you brilliant people didn't think he'd try to escape in the first place, so who are you to say he's not a danger?

Well, I guess it's worth risking an occasional. . . "incident" like this, if it means those cherished prisoners are treated in a kinder, gentler fashion.

*The author of the blog is the son of an American woman and a Swedish man. As he puts it, "born in Sweden, raised in the US", he's now living (and "exploring his roots") in Sweden. His blog is mostly about his experiences as a cultural foreigner in a country where he is technically (not to mention genetically) a citizen. As someone whose potential children could someday be in the same situation, I find this subject interesting. Besides, I'm always entertained by people's reactions to and insights into Sweden. (These days, at least. Before I knew Donald, of course, that wasn't the case. But you'd already surmised that, so why am I still typing?)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

"Uh-oh. She's talking to the TV again..."

One little note before I commence grumpin' at the TV. ;o)

Earlier this week, you may have heard, the moon, Venus and Jupiter-- the three brightest objects in the night sky-- were very close to one another. Apparently this was big enough of an "event" that it was in the news, but the funny thing is that Donald saw it and called me out to look at it before we'd heard about it. (Mom, your e-mail about it went to the junk e-mail folder, so I didn't see it until today. Probably because it was empty except for a link. Guess I need to check that folder more often!) So, yes, it was pretty impressive, to just catch his attention like that. Too bad we'll have to wait until 2052 to see it again.

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Things the TV has made me wonder about lately:

Does no one dare tell Bill O'Reilly that "plasma" is not pronounced "plahh-smahh"? Maybe it's just me, but that pronunciation of his drives me up the wall!


Why are "they" getting rid of Pushing Daisies-- something completely different from anything else on TV right now, that I know of-- instead of one of the numerous medical or crime shows? I mean, I like a good "procedural drama" (as "they" call 'em) as much as the next person, but there are so many of them! And the medical shows can all go away, as far as I'm concerned.


Don't the news people (anchors and reporters alike) get tired of doing variations on the same set of stories every year? For instance: It's now winter, so bring on the carbon monoxide poisoning stories and segments stressing the need to buy carbon monoxide alarms! I guess that if they didn't do this, they wouldn't have enough "news" to fill their ever-expanding time slots, so they probably can't complain.


Why in the world are we expected to want to watch award shows (and now, even the nominations for those awards!) that honor actors and musicians? Upon catching a very odd glimpse of the Grammy nominations last night, Donald and I were commenting on how there seem to be more and more of these programs.

The really weird thing is that many people do seem to actually care. It baffles me. Yes, I watch movies and TV, and I listen to music. There are even a very, very few actors and musicians whom I admire or think seem to be decent, semi-normal people-- but how does it follow that I must want to see them get all dolled up and congratulate one another on how wonderful they are at their "craft"? If we're going to watch award ceremonies, shouldn't they be honoring people who make a real difference in the world instead of those who merely entertain us in our spare time?

I suppose it was inevitable that it should happen this way. What group of people would want all this fuss, drama, and glitz for their sakes, other than the "stars"? And of course, the ones who make the decision to broadcast these lavish displays are more closely connected with those same "stars" than they are with the people who truly deserve nationwide recognition.

So, maybe inevitable, but still irritating and enough to make you weary of the world and the celebrity-obsessed.

This was nothing new to you, I'm sure, but I needed to get it out. Now that it is out, I can wash my dishes in peace. Thank you. ;o)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Only a month late for Halloween. ;o)

This morning, I happened upon a Flickr group for "Vintage Spirit Photography". I didn't know such a thing existed. A few of these photos seem meant more for fun than anything else. Some feel like they were used as "dramatizations"/illustrations of spiritualism. But others. . . Having recently read To Say Nothing of the Dog, I wondered if these types of things were ever used to trick people who were seeking comfort after losing loved ones, and it appears that they were. (The ones with the "ectoplasm" coming out of people's noses, mouths, and ears are disgusting. So weird!)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stuff Done

Done today:
  • Laundry-- sorted, washed, dried, folded and put away: clothes, towels, and two small rugs
  • Unloaded/reloaded dishwasher
  • Cleaned out/reorganized two messy kitchen cabinets
  • Put contact paper in those same two cabinets
  • (Helped Donald) put nicer frosted glass shades from our old bedroom ceiling fan on the living room fan
  • Added to "give away or donate" pile
  • Did a little touch-up painting on furniture
  • A little vacuuming
  • General cleaning/decluttering (though you wouldn't know it to look at the place-- much more to go)
Also, played with Photoshop a little. (Hey, a girl's gotta sit down sometimes!) I spotted a couple of nice photos in the "Commons" section of Flickr and thought it'd be fun to layer some of my own photos over them. (You'll find links to the original photos in the captions in my Flickr photostream, if you're curious. And as always, you can click images here in this blog to see them larger.)

I doubt their times were really any simpler than ours, but I do envy them just a little. . . even if they didn't have Photoshop or the Internet for entertainment. ;o) I like imaging their reactions if I could go back and tell them, "One day, years and years into the future, almost anyone living in a modernized country will be able to hit a few buttons and look at this photo of you!" Would they believe me? Would they care? (g) I wonder what they'll be doing with our photos, hundreds of years from now. . .

Why the Christmas Tree Still Isn't Up

Yesterday, we started out thinking we'd put up our Christmas tree, but (it seemed to me that) one thing hinged upon another so much that we needed to get a few other things done first. So, though our tree is still languishing in its box (yes, it's artificial), the dining room is back to rights, now. Sure, it still needs a little tweaking from a decorator's point of view (table cloth, etc.) and a little sanding and touch-up paint where Trixie chewed things she wasn't supposed to chew-- but the cyborg/sideboard is out of the living room, and our foyer feels huge after being cramped for months with table and chairs.

We also reorganized the laundry/utility room so that it's roomy enough for Molly to sleep in there at night (instead of the dining room). The plan is for her to become a mostly-outside dog who comes in to sleep at night (maybe eventually only on cold nights) and possibly on miserably rainy days. We'll see. . . Part of me just isn't up to the challenge of house-training two dogs simultaneously, but I still feel guilty for thinking about training Trixie for more indoor living than Molly-- especially when, for the moment, Molly's actually more reliable than Trixie. . . I don't know what we'll end up doing.

As Donald pointed out yesterday, I'm looking at this from a human perspective-- indoors = good and outdoors = bad. So long as the weather's decent, I imaging most dogs would rather be outside than cooped up in the house. The problem is that when they're outside all day and are we are inside most of the day, they don't get enough time with us. (And that, I think, contributes to my awful nightmares of finding neglected, malnourished or dead infants that I was supposed to be caring for.) Of course, one solution for that problem would be for me to spend more time outside. Goodness knows the yard needs some attention! I could also be better about scheduling time for just playing with the dogs-- running around with them, playing fetch, taking them on walks down the easement.

If only I were as good at executing plans as I am at making them!

So, that's why the tree isn't up, yet. We were sidetracked. (Or I got us sidetracked.) Maybe this evening will be the Right Time.