Friday, February 29, 2008

Crocheting & Stuff

Cool news in the mail today: the interest rate on our mortgage is going down. Granted, the balance on our loan is extremely low, since the condo wasn't that expensive to begin with and it's over half-paid now. Still nice, though. On the other hand, my shock when we buy a house will probably be extreme, since DH figures we'll be looking at houses that cost around 10x what our current balance is.

Yeah, I'm the one who got a little freaked at signing the check for a Ford Escort. The six-digit numbers on mortgage paperwork may blow my mind.

More good news - I finally figured out which crochet book I'm looking for, and I'm on the wait list for it at the library. I checked out a bunch of crochet books last year, and one of them had a pattern for a bath mat that looked nice. Fairly easy, plus useful and a nice change from hats. Of course I forgot to copy the pattern or write down what book it was in, so I've been trying to remember it for a month or so.

I spent a few hours digging through the library's online catalog, which doesn't often include things like tables of contents, and put a dozen or so on hold to look at when they're finally checked back in. This week, I had time at the library to go up in the stacks and look at every crochet book on the shelf, which wasn't many. (Either 100 books only take up one shelf, or they spend a lot of time checked out.) No luck there. Then I get the bright idea to take my hold-list books and look them up on Amazon, on the chance that I can get content information there.

Bingo! I'm waiting on First Crochet. I'm pretty sure this is the one. The bath mat is done in cotton, I think two strands together, and there's a star done in puff/bobble stitches. I've got all this Sugar N Cream yarn, you see. Michael's had the big 12-oz skeins in fun colors and I couldn't resist. Usually it's just the dinky 2-oz balls, or the big 1-pounders in white or off-white. I got a big skein of Key Lime Pie, variegated greens and white, and I think it wants to be a bath mat.

In the meantime, I've got 34 items checked out (some are El Burrito's) and 18 on hold, including the last 4 books of the Spiderwick series and a dozen or so crochet books. I've gotten pretty good at plain scarves and hats, and I need to find something to do with that Bernat Satin Sport. Lovely stuff, but as I'm not a shawl person and probably not skilled enough to do anything not-square (it's the counting that loses me), I need some inspiration. I'm tempted by the sweaters in More Crocheted Aran Sweaters, but I'm also intimidated by the stitches. Plus, not really a sweater person either. There is a vest, though. And the blurb says it's pretty simple . . . .

And now I'm off to dig through Corel's website and see if there's an upgrade that will convince Paint Shop Pro 9 to read ORF files (the RAW format that Olympus uses). The Olympus software will, but it's very basic and a little irritating. I don't usually use the RAW format, but I do for astro photos on occasion.

Oh, and think of a birthday gift for my brother, since I'll be seeing him this weekend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

El Burrito and the Balloon Adventure

El Burrito had a little adventure today. Or rather, his balloon did.

He got a balloon for Valentine's Day, because we figured he'd get a big kick out of it. He loved the balloon from his cousin's birthday party, but it was latex and didn't last long. Mylar, because they're tougher than the latex ones, and because they'll float longer. And they mostly just leak instead of exploding. This one is still floating, two weeks later.

(I've got this weird thing about latex balloons - I'm always waiting for them to pop. It's a little nerve-wracking, especially when there are a dozen balloons, a ceiling fan, and pre-schoolers involved.)

El Burrito played with it most of the morning.

The boy loves his balloon. He hauled it all over the place. Balloon in one hand, foil-covered weight in the other, and ribbon dangling behind.

Then, just before lunch, we had a little problem. I was checking my email while El Burrito and the balloon were beside me, when I see a balloon floating past me. Uh oh.

It had pulled out of the knot and headed for the ceiling. And of course, it aimed for the high spot - vaulted ceilings have drawbacks. It perched in the 12-foot-up section, where it got sucked over to the return-air vent a minute later.

So I've got a balloon floating in the highest corner of the room, over the computer and file cabinet, and a Burrito who's loudly concerned that his balloon is Up There. I ended up standing on a step stool, waving a yardstick around for a while. I managed to bat it across the room without tripping over El Burrito, and herded it into the hallway, where the ceiling is a normal height.

And then I retied the ribbon with a much better knot.


This was today's lunch:

One 3-ounce Gorton's fish filet (tilapia, char-grilled), half a 16-ounce bag of "California blend" veggies, and some steamed brown rice. The Gorton's isn't bad, I wish I'd bought more when it was on sale. It's a nice change from the peanut butter routine.

And my replacement Chico bag was in the mail today.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another problem

Here's something else I have to take care of. Just noticed it the other night, while updating Quicken.

We returned a rug to Target a week or so ago. They helpfully put the credit back on the credit card, without needing the card.

Fine, or so I thought.

I was looking at the return receipt Sunday night, and noticed a tiny problem. We used three gift cards for part of the purchase, with the balance going on my credit card. One was a Target gift card, and the other two were those pre-paid credit cards, which we'd gotten as a rebate payment from Lipton.

Guess which card the credit was sent to. Yup, one of the pre-paid cards.

Guess what we did with the pre-paid cards after we used the $10 balance? Uh huh, we tossed them. At the store, if I recall correctly.

I wonder how long it will take to explain this one to the Target customer service person?

(And how did they decide which card to issue the credit to? Because the card that got the credit was the second of three "credit cards" on the receipt. Why not the first "credit" card, or the last one, or the one that had the majority of the purchase on it? )

So, next time I'm in Target, I'll be standing in line and wondering how best to explain this one. Luckily their CS people seem to usually be pretty experienced. Unlike a few newbie cashiers who were stumped by coupons and those checks from the baby formula companies. But it'll still be more complicated than saying "This didn't fit, I want to return it."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cold ?

Here's a puzzler: Last night, while the thermostat registered the usual 73 degrees (we let it get down to 71 overnight), DH was cold.

Now, understand that this is the same hot-natured man who wears short-sleeved shirts all year, and usually sleeps with one sheet over him while I've got two or three (thin) blankets. Very odd situation, in other words. He thinks it was related to the niacin-induced flushing reaction that he had last night (cholesterol meds), although the chill part hasn't been this bad since the first time he had the reaction. The reaction that had us going to the ER on the coldest freaking night of the year. He was so cold then that his teeth were chattering, and not just from the weather.

So last night, he got one of my blankets, plus the polarfleece Incredibles freebie blanket, and stayed under them both all night. And I had just one blanket. Which is why, at 3:15 in the rotten morning, I was up scrounging blindly (no contacts!) for another blanket. Because it was still warmer than usual in the house, and I was still freezing my toes off too. I ended up with a baby quilt, because it was the best I could find.

It was just weird, because it wasn't colder than usual in the house, but we were both cold. I'm stumped, especially since we've got draft blockers on all the doors. I know our thermostat is a little inaccurate, but that was just odd.

I wonder if this is a sign that I should start working on that afghan I've been planning to use the Ebay yarn for?

Library day

Today is Tuesday, and therefore library day. So El Burrito and I got our act together and went out into the wind. (Proof of weird weather - 50 yesterday, 30 today, 60 this weekend. Oy.)

Returned: 2 DVDs (one of which I need to re-request, I forgot to look at the coloring pages) and 1 book.

Checked out: 3 crochet books, an Andre Norton novel, and Ancient Egyptian Cross Stitch, which has some beautiful designs. Of course, they're probably complicated enough to stop me in my tracks, but I can look at the pictures and dream of the day when I'll have enough time to do cross stitch again. The "Regal Falcon" and "Tutankhamun" are especially striking, but I don't know that I'm ambitious enough to try Tut's 21 different colors of floss.

Right now, as a matter of fact, I'm digging through the online catalog in search of a crochet book I checked out a while back. It had a pattern for a bathroom rug, done I think in two strands of cotton, with a star motif done in clusters. I apparently didn't copy the pattern or write down the title, so I'm just looking at every crochet book in the catalog. Needle in a haystack. El Burrito and I went up into the 2nd floor stacks today and I checked every crochet book on the shelf. No luck, so the one I'm looking for must be checked out. (And the collection is skewed towards knitting - 3 or 4 shelves of knitting books, 1.5 of crochet. Unless the crochet books are always circulating.)

We hit a small jackpot at the book sale - we bought 5 books from the "Sesame Street Book Club" for $1 each, and left 3 or 4 behind. Also, a Tigger board book, a Pooh book, and Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Grand total $7. (I meant to pick up the Archie digests that they had, but oh well.)

The only reading lately of any substance was finishing A Walk in the Woods. An insanely funny book at times, but also really depressing during the parts about environmental changes along the Appalachian Trail and related topics. It's one of those things that bugs me because I wish I could do something about it, and don't know where to start. (See also, my weight, lack of friends, and house-hunting, for starters.)

Monday, February 25, 2008


Can I just say, our weather lately has been positively roller-coaster-ish? For the past month or more, we've routinely had freezing daytime temps and balmy-for-February temps in the same week. This week for example - the high today is 50, the high tomorrow is 29. What fun.

Some things were accomplished this weekend, but (as expected) not everything. Oh well.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Progress and planning

Today's progress:

  • I took half of my vitamins already (and one of them, possibly the fish oil, is doing that odd slightly-nauseous thing that it does).
  • I brushed my teeth once already - one of my goals for this year is to get back to the 2x/day routine. My dentist would be much happier, so would my gums.
  • I got a reply from Chico, and they will happily replace my tote bag.
  • I went through a stack of newspapers and a few magazines today.
  • we took down the playpen last night. It's been a toy corral for a month, and now we have enough floor space for the Cars playmat. Yes, this place has space issues.
  • vacuumed part of the living room - the playpen had a lot of crumbs in the bottom
Now I just need to make a to-do list for the weekend, while playing with a post-nap Burrito. Which needs to include all or part of the following: (because I'm sure it won't all get done)
  • Fuel up my car
  • Sort out the coupons
  • a trip to Target
  • possibly a trip to a hardware/home supply store for a hinge and Plexiglass (El Burrito stuck a CD - with case! - in the VCR last night. We're buying an entertainment center with a door when we move, but until then, we need plan B.)
  • get the Chico bag ready to mail
  • Email some comments to the local paper
  • take the old laptop battery to Circuit City and drop it in their recycling bins
  • pay the bills
  • cash in our Coke Rewards points
  • box up some more books for the move (whenever it is)
  • work on house-hunting criteria
  • change the batteries in the crib music box, because El Burrito just turned it on and it sounds really pathetic
  • test the Sansa MP3 players from Woot
  • pay for an online purchase
  • ponder what to do regarding an email I got from the seller I left a negative feedback for a w hile back. They want to do something unspecified to "make it right" and hope that I will withdraw the negative. We'll see.

and probably other things I can't recall right now. Which is why I have lists everywhere. If I don't write it down, I tend to forget it.

And, woohoo, the spellcheck is working again!

DVD Review - Happy Healthy Monsters

El Burrito and I watched the Sesame Street DVD Happy Healthy Monsters this morning. It was better than I expected, given the cover photo (Elmo, Zoe, and Grover). I was worried that it would be Elmo-centered, with Grover & the other Muppets getting a few seconds of screen time.

(You have to understand that my personal preference is for the older Muppets. I really dislike the emphasis on Elmo that seems to have taken over the Sesame merchandising department. Just try to find non-Elmo videos or toys. Elmo-centered merchandise outnumbers the rest by at least a 2:1 ratio, and that's grouping all the other Muppets together. Pampers diapers have Sesame Street Muppets on them, and while I haven't counted, the Elmo diapers are at least twice the quantity of the others combined (the others being Ernie, Cookie Monster, and very rarely Bert). So, what I'm trying to say is, I prefer to spend my money and time on things that aren't Elmo-Elmo-Elmo.)

So, on to the review. The main portion of Happy Healthy Monsters is about 50 minutes long. There are also some bonus features - 3 clips from Sesame Street, some coloring pages (if you have DVD-ROM access, a "Chef Cookie" game, and previews of about 20 other Sesame Street videos, running about 1 minute per preview. The "plot" is that Elmo, Zoe, and 4 non-Muppet characters are watching an exercise program on TV. The exercise program, called "Fuzzy, Blue, and Healthy Too" stars Grover and two other Muppets (Sissy, a purple girl, and Bobby, a tan "surfer dude" type guy). Cookie Monster and a Jumping Cow also appear.

Cute parts: Grover bouncing across the screen on an out-of-control yoga ball. A thirsty Cookie Monster chasing a talking glass of milk, telling it "Resistance is futile!" Grover in general.

Not-so-cute parts: Okay, my main beef, and maybe I'm seeing things, is that Grover is made to look a little dumb. Grover & friends start jumping, and Grover says (paraphrased) that jumping makes you taller for just a minute. Then Elmo says No, that isn't right, etc. I may just be a bit anti-Elmo, but that seems to be making Elmo (supposedly age 3) smarter than Grover (Global Grover, SuperGrover, my favorite Muppet). Or not.

This DVD gave me my Cookie Monster Quotes of the Day:
  • "Resistance is futile!"
  • Me an enigma, wrapped up in a riddle, covered in chocolate sprinkles.
Overall, I really liked it. Elmo and Zoe weren't being shoved in my face, and Grover & Cookie got a lot of screen time. That alone is enough to make me like it. Sure, the exercise part was mostly jumping and stretching, but for the age they're probably aiming for, that's probably all right. The previews were pretty helpful, I thought, because I can use the 1-minute clip to at least know if there are any Muppets other than Elmo in a video.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse photos & other stuff

Well, it's finally stopped sleeting here (for now, at least). There's enough sleet to cover the pavement outside, and make a good attempt at covering the grass. Lovely weather.

Last night was clear until after midnight, so we did get to see the eclipse after all. We saw the beginning of it as we went out to dinner and did some grocery shopping. I took this photo with my Olympus FE-120, which doesn't have any focus control, and isn't that great at moon pics.

After we got home, I added a layer of clothes and went out with the tripod and the SP-510, which is much better at night photography. This is the moon with Saturn on the left and Regulus (part of the constellation Leo) above.

And this is the moon alone. Not as sharp as I'd hoped for, but between the breeze and my shivering, I'm not surprised. Plus, no telescope with tracking capabilities, so with any exposure time over a few seconds, I start to get star trails.

I only stayed out 30 minutes or so, because it was darn cold here last night. The low was 10 or 12 degrees and there was a steady breeze to go with it. Even with a hat, scarf, and two layers of gloves, it was too cold to stay out much longer. has some eclipse photos, and a neat part of their site where you can look at a global map and see where photos have been submitted from. It's pretty interesting to see photos from different parts of the world.

Progress-wise, I did finally decide what to order from L.L. Bean. I ended up with a flannel-lined "barn coat" from their sale section, about $35 after shipping.

Today, I got a reply from SanDisk about the case for the Sansa m240 that I was inquiring about. Turns out they don't sell replacements for the case that comes with the player. They do sell a $15 (retail) silicone case, in a variety of colors, but that case doesn't protect the screen at all, which is the only reason I wanted it in the first place. The CS Rep's only suggestion was to look into generic cases at electronics stores. Gee, thanks. Like they don't have dozens of the flimsy clear cases hanging around somewhere.

Still no reply on the DVD replacement.

And now I've got another replacement to inquire about. DH noticed last night that the bottom seam on my Chico bag (a gift from my sister) is starting to tear. I've only had it since November, and the heaviest thing I've put in it is a gallon of milk. I love that bag otherwise, so this is a little disappointing, since the website says it has a 20-pound capacity. They have a 1-year warranty, but since Sis got it at a trade convention as a giveaway, I'm not sure what they'll do about the date-of-purchase bit.

Also, we got a rebate ready last night (deadline is tomorrow), and I submitted a photo to an online contest.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Replacement Fun

My fun for the past hour has been tracking down contact information for Sandisk and Alliance Atlantis.

I got a pair of MP3 players from Woot (which I blame on Jan - her talk of a Wooted Tivo is what started my daily Woot check). These are refurbs, so they didn't come with the clear case that our full-price one did. Which is why I spent close to an hour digging around on Sandisk's website, trying to determine if they sell replacement cases or not. I never did figure it out, so I emailed their tech support.

Then I got back to work on a little project from Christmas. Back just before Christmas, I sat down with some Due South DVDs while I wrapped gifts. Which is when I found out that one of the discs on the first set is defective. I bought the set in 2002, all the way from Canada. Yeah, and I'm just now discovering a defective disc, with glitches smack in the middle of one of the best episodes. I contacted Amazon Canada soon after that, but of course it's way beyond their return deadline, and they recommended contacting Alliance Atlantis, who produced the show and the discs.

I did some reading on the Alliance Atlantis website a month or so ago, but today I found out that the companyhas been sold since then. CanWest got some, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners got the rest. Which makes it difficult to figure out who to contact about replacements for faulty product. I found what I think are contact emails for both companies, sent them an email, and then checked Amazon Canada again. Turns out that the set I paid $70 (Canadian, so about $50 US back then) is now listed for $21.56 at Amazon Canada (and an astronomical $104 at That's a big change. The exchange rate isn't as favorable any more, but I may be buying another set from Canada soon, if I can't get the companies to answer my emails with any productive help.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


So, what am I doing today?

Well, I'm trying to find something on the L.L. Bean website to buy, since I've got this $10 gift card that expires today. I didn't think it would be this hard, but apparently it is.

I'm looking into a few Ebay alternatives, since their new pricing scheme stinks (to put it mildly). And their "only positive feedback for buyers" is really insane.

I'm hoping that the skies are clear tomorrow night for the lunar eclipse - the last one for North America until late 2010. It'll be too cold here to sit outside for the whole thing - 12 degrees F, 15 MPH wind - but I may pop outside for a few pictures. I was hoping to let El Burrito watch it, since he's crazy about the moon, but at those temps, I think not.

It would also be cool to get a glimpse of the spy satellite that's in a decaying orbit. Spaceweather has a photo that someone in MO took last night. It's pretty neat. However, it doesn't look like it'll be easily visible here.

We went to the credit union meeting last night and had some fun. It's the employee CU for DH's employer, and they have a good annual meeting - door prizes and refreshments. They hand out $1 coins as you walk in the door, but the good prizes are in the drawing after the meeting. They've been doing gift certificates the last year or two, plus prizes for the kids. They usually have enough gift certs for at least half the attendees, then they start giving away the company-logo hats, shirts, and golf balls. And then it's a $15 credit on a "company wearable" (T-shirts, jackets, etc.). Everybody gets a prize, it's just a matter of how fast they draw your name.

This year, we came home with $75 in restaurant gift cards, a piggy bank and matching keychain (shaped like a pig), a folding kid-size chair, and $3 in dollar coins.

There was a new twist this year that I liked. The last two names drawn got a wrapped box - the last person got to choose which box. One box had a $100 gift card, the other had a $50 card. Much better than being the last person and having a choice of another baseball cap or a dozen golf balls (especially if you don't play golf or need a hat). I was one of the last drawn last year, and I still haven't spent my $15 wearable credit.

Tuesday's Book Post

Recent reading:

I finished Beast Master's Ark this week. It's an interesting series and this was one of the better books so far, especially since I'm reading out of order. However, I'm not sure if it's Andre Norton or Lyn McConchie, or just an editor who wasn't paying attention, but the sentence fragments keep distracting me. Might not catch my eye as much if it was in the dialogue, but it's in the non-dialogue parts and I keep having the urge to get a red pen and do some editing. Too many college writing classes, I guess.

For example: "She picturesd the lighter gear, the feel of it. The pleasure of riding together, sharing abilities." That's just the first one I could find without re-reading, but there were a lot more. I like the series overall, I just wish that either I could ignore the fragments, or that there weren't so many of them.

Right now, I'm reading The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and how to see them by Fred Schaaf, and Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods (which is hilarious at times). Yes, I'm reading more than one book at a time. I've done it for years. (I can also read in the car without getting carsick. A talent, but not a financially-beneficial one.)

I returned 3 books, a video, and a DVD to the library today, and came home with 2 books and a DVD. So the library stack is getting smaller over time. I also spent $4.75 at the sale - a handful of Jughead & Archie digests for me, a historical sailing novel called All Sail Set for DH, and a Time Warp Trio book and a Hank the Cow Dog book-on-tape for El Burrito.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weekend stuff

So, did I mention the latest surprise that El Burrito came up with?

He can count now. To ten. He'll be 21 months old this week. We are going to be in soooo much trouble trying to keep up with this one. He's already caught on to my trick of making things "disappear" while he's asleep - usually toys with small parts that he doesn't need to have yet.

Anyway, the only "work" we've done with numbers is opening his number puzzle last week (one of the tray puzzles, but without the pegs) and watching a Sesame Street video. And he's got this LeapFrog table that counts and sings the alphabet and stuff. So, sometime pre-dawn (!!) last Friday morning, he woke up crying. After a dry diaper and a sippy cup of water, he ended up in bed with us. He rolled around for a while, then sat up, counted to eight, and started talking about a truck that was going zoom zoom. Sunday morning, while DH was getting El Burrito's breakfast ready, he came into our bedroom, looked out the window, and started counting to ten. All unsolicited, mind you. We were a little surprised, but then we figured out a while back that the boy's pretty sharp. Takes after his parents, I guess.

Anyway, I did get a few things done over the weekend. DH went in to work for 4 hours or so; prepping for a meeting he had today. The "fun" part of being a project-manager workaholic. I set up the new aquarium filter, which does move water a lot faster than the old one, and watered the plants. Including the amaryllis bulbs, which hadn't been watered in at least 6 weeks, probably longer, and which may all be dead. Yeah, having a kid has been really hard on the tropical jungle I used to have. The catnip died, the redwood is probably dead, and one of the Chinese evergreens is looking severely pathetic.

We also went to DH's niece's birthday party Sunday. Two hours of driving, and it was my least-favorite sister-in-law's kid, so not a lot of chit-chat on their part.

I found it very interesting that the family who opted out of the Christmas gift exchange for the past 5 years or so (a gift exchange that would cost them $100 at the absolute max), because paying private-school tuition for 3 kids is so expensive, now has a big flat-screen TV in their basement. And I mean big - the thing is 3 feet wide at least. That can't be cheap, given what I've seen in the Sunday sale ads.

And that's the only catty thing I'll say about it. But I will say that least-favorite SIL got in another dig about El Burrito. His grandma was telling her how many words he knows from his alphabet book, and her reply was "It's about time." I bit my tongue, but sheesh. And after I had to listen to the story about her oldest knowing what a chameleon was when he was 5 or something, over and over, and didn't say a peep.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A little El Burrito update

Well, the boy finally got his third lower-front tooth this week (the right one). That makes 10 teeth now; maybe it's time to update the baby book (if I can find it). He's been walking around for months with the center pair on bottom, but no sign of the ones next to them. I was starting to wonder. :)

He's started saying mommy and daddy, along with mama and dada. Not sure if I like the change, not that I can do anything about it.

He's discovered a real enthusiasm for Charlie Brown videos. We watched Charlie Brown's All-Stars twice yesterday, and Spring Training today. They boy has good taste. :)

His favorite "book" this week is his "tractor book" - a Fastline magazine (tractor classifieds) that his Papa brought him. He looooves that magazine. He took it to the mall Thursday, he's slept with it, sat on the couch to read it, everything. The cover fell off today, so I need to do a little taping while he's asleep.


Another crochet project in progress. This time it's a hat for Dear Sister, who is currently freezing her ears off in Michigan. She thought El Burrito's earflap hat was cute, and asked for one just like it. I had an extra ball of the same yarn, so if she's lucky, there'll be enough for her hat too. I had a bit left over from the first ball after El Burrito's hat was finished, but his was a smaller size and I left out a few rows to make it fit better. If I run short, she may get earflaps or a pompom in a different color. I think she'll live. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Video & book reviews

For anyone who cares, and to help me remember later:

We've been watching Sesame Street videos from the library, and I'm keeping notes about which ones we may want to buy later. (Basically, I'm going for things that aren't Elmo-centric. Because that song is worse than Achy Breaky Heart as an earworm.) This week, we saw Sing Yourself Sillier at the Movies and the 25th Anniversary Musical Celebration.

Sing Yourself Sillier . . . isn't bad, just not what I was hoping for. Lots of songs for the kiddies to sing along with, but not much of the Muppet characters, other than Telly & Oscar doing their Siskel & Ebert routine. We may buy it later if El Burrito gets a fascination with singing or something.

The Anniversary special, though, may get put on the birthday list or something. It's got a lot of the classic Sesame Street songs (27 total, I think), but Elmo isn't front and center like he is on some of the more recent stuff. (It's strange to think that this video was made 15 years ago.) It is a "musical celebration" - most of the hour is songs, with just a little bit of non-musical setup to string things together.

Bookwise, I read Hounded to Death by Laurien Berenson and Monica Ferris' Knitting Bones, two more mystery-series novels. Quick reads, both of them, and probably not something I'll re-read (although the Needlecraft series is a possible), so I got them from the library.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wednesday, Wednesday

What a day. Busy, but nothing accomplished in any major way. No condo lunch (we missed Houlihan's, again!) because my parents had the day off (no school due to ice) and came up for a visit. El Burrito gave Grandma the highlight of her month - he started saying "grandma" yesterday instead of just "Mmmmah".

And Mom set a date for her first knee replacement, finally. Sister and I are working on a plan to send some pre-made dinners, because Dad & Brother can cook, but not that well. They'd probably live on burgers and lunchmeat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Books again

Not book-related, but I was surprised to hear that Roy Scheider died yesterday. I'm not the biggest fan of the Jaws movies, but I liked his work in SeaQuest DSV. At least the first season, anyway - it got dumbed down awfully fast, but the first season or so was good. The prehistoric crocodile and the man-eating plants didn't show up until the second season.

This being Tuesday, it's time for another book post.

First of all, I spent $8.50 at the library sale today and came home with Stephen Lawhead's Pendragon trilogy in paperback (Arthur, Merlin, and Taliesin), a book on water gardening, and four books about the Moon for El Burrito. The boy is a big moon fancier. The "Moon in my Room" that he got for Christmas is a hit, by the way. (He also got to have lunch with Dada while I ran to the library, since it's too cold here to drag him out for a short trip. And I had to return the Sesame Street video that our VCR ate.)

So, what am I reading these days?

Today I finished Willow Hill, by Phyllis A. Whitney, which I picked up at the last big paperback sale. It's an old teen-fiction book, written in 1947, about race relations in a high school. The main message is that we should think for ourselves and not follow others blindly. (Kind of timely for an election year.) It was a good read, although I'm still puzzled by the main character calling her father by his first name.

The Purrfect Murder, most recent addition to the Mrs. Murphy mysteries, which I bought at B&N a couple of weekends ago. I like this series, but the recent books seem to read so fast that I'm reconsidering my habit of buying them in hardback as soon as they're released. I may go back to the paperbacks, or just wait for the used hardbacks to hit

Another mystery, Sweet Revenge, the latest Goldy mystery by Diane Mott Davidson. Again, a good series, but they're a very quick read (or I'm reading faster these days). Plus, a lot of the mystery series seem to fall prey to the Jessica Fletcher problem - wherever the main character goes, you know someone's going to die, and you wonder why the police don't just follow them around. :)

Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo - non-fiction for a change, and a good story that isn't all gloom and doom. Although I wish there had been more information on the herd of Arabian horses.

Food Not Lawns - another non-fiction, picked up from the "New Books" shelf at the library. Not what I thought it was going to be. Instead of being an introduction to gardening in lawn-type areas, with information on good plants to start with as far as yield per plant and tolerance of lawn conditions, it ended up going off into some more-radical areas (advocating trespassing and some other minor illegal acts, along with "what to do if you're arrested during a protest").

Good service

For the record, I've gotten some good service lately.

Fisher-Price sent us replacement batteries and an AC adapter for our baby monitors, free, when the first two adapters stopped working. No charge, and they arrived today (I called last Tuesday). I haven't put the batteries in yet, but I'm assuming everything will work as planned.

My local library, which I will miss terribly if we move out of the county, is awesome. I put in a recommendation (online) last Wednesday, for them to purchase the first series of Slings & Arrows. (They had seasons/series 2 and 3, so having series 1 seems like a logical thing.) Within two or three days, it was on my Holds list, and I picked it up today. That's very fast, so fast that I suspect it may have been ordered before I suggested it. But I love the online catalog, the ability to recommend purchases or request Interlibrary Loans online, and the fact that if I recommend something and they do purchase it, I'm automatically put on the waiting list for it. It's great!

I ordered a pair of horse figurines online a while back. Limited edition of 50, and they sold out in 3 days. The first pair shipped early in January. And never arrived. After a month, the seller sent a second pair, which they'd saved for me after learning about the MIA pair. The second pair arrived in 3 days, so I don't know where the PO has lost the first ones. But the seller could have just refunded my money (the box was insured) instead of saving a second set for me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend fun

I think it may be a productive day. We'll see how it finishes, but I've gotten a few things done today. Mainly 4 loads of laundry (as of now), but also

  • I ordered a power filter for the aquarium today. The current one wasn't working when I fed the fish this morning, and did the same thing last Friday. It started working after I unplugged it and plugged it back in, but I thought I'd be prepared. I ordered from PetSmart online - better prices than or the local Petco. I upgraded to the next-biggest filter, which is rated for a 20-30 gallon tank. Right now, the tank is 20 gallons and I'm using the 10-20 gallon filter. The bigger filter cost $2 more, and I'm hoping that the increased water flow will help keep the nitrates/nitrites controlled until I can re-home El Squiggo. And I paid an extra $4 to speed up the shipping, because it would be pointless to buy online if the other filter dies permanently tomorrow and I have to go to Petco anyway.
  • Then I waffled for a while before succumbing to Woot's deal of the day - Sansa m240 MP3 players for $10 each. I got DH one for Father's Day last year, and he likes it, although he hasn't been using it lately as much. So I bought 2 today, one silver and one pink. With the FM tuner, I can keep one in the car or my purse, or in an emergency kit, as we have no other battery-powered radio.
  • We changed humidifiers over the weekend, from a Holmes to a Relion. The Holmes was good, although filters were pricy and it was a pain to clean. Whoever thought a toothbrush would dent the water deposits on the heating element were delusional. However, my screwdriver method, while effective on the deposits, had a side effect. Yeah, the heating element didn't do too well after being chiseled at. So we're trying out the ReliOn that we got as a baby shower gift. On the up side, the filter only has to be replaced every season (assuming you only use it in the winter, and assuming further that the manual was written by someone with a clue).
  • We put a compact florescent bulb in the other track light fixture. And this time, I'm keeping track of when we put the bulb in and how long it lasts. I'm not tracking it to the hour, but I'd estimate those lights are on 8 hours a day or so (because the lighting in this place is crap). If these bulbs burn out in a month or so, I will be going through the replacement/refund procedure.
So, on to the weekend fun. DH took a half-day of vacation Friday, El Burrito spent the evening with Mmma (he uses his kiss noise as a Grandma name) and Papa, and DH & I went to a concert. The university was hosting The Pipes & Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoons and the Band of the Coldstream Guard. Yes, possibly the longest name for a concert group that I've seen in a while. And yes, I'm weird - I like bagpipe music.

It was a great show. Bagpipes, drums, the Highland Sword Dance, a military band with horns, woodwinds, and some strings, a "musical tribute" to the United States, all sorts of fun. Where else can you hear "When the Saints go Marching In" played by a military band with bagpipes? The band did some impressive marching maneuvers on stage, considering that the stage was only 20 steps wide and about 20 steps long. They were mostly restricted to marching back and forth, with some half-circles thrown in for variety. I'm sure that on a full field, they could make some impressive figures. Other neat parts - big furry bearskin hats, the drummers twirling their drumsticks, kilts, leopardskin on the bass drum.

The dancers, kilts and all, were selling programs in the lobby before the show, and the whole group wandered through the audience at intermission. I wish I'd taken a picture in the lobby, just for a memento. They were selling a few souvenirs (we bought the CD) and taking donations for a support fund - their units are deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq right now, and the fund is for the widows/widowers/survivors. (The Dragoons are the only cavalry in the Scottish army, although they drive tanks instead of horses now.)

In short, it was an awesome show. If they're in your area, you should take a chance.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I really wish my mother would get a hobby. Or that my younger brother would get married and have a kid or two. Maybe then Mom would have something else to focus on.

I got an email from her this morning, with an update on my cousin's baby. And asking, by the way, if we're really sure we only want one baby. Because El Burrito is such a good boy and needs a brother and/or sister. And we're such good parents. And I'm not too old for another one.

Yeah. And because her brothers and sisters all have multiple grandkids now (except for her youngest sister, who has one daughter in grade school - yeah, there's a generation gap or something going on when Mom has a niece and grandson about the same age). And there's some weird competitive thing going on there.

Whether I do or don't have another baby, I AM NOT doing anything either way until we're in a HOUSE. And now I'm going to go have lunch and try to stop gritting my teeth.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bad gadget luck

Not so much luck with electronic thingies lately.

Two nights ago, while trying to recharge the receivers for the baby monitor, we realized that the AC adapter was futzed up. Not sure what happened to this one; it looks like the plastic inside the adapter jack melted or something. The other adapter (we got the dual receiver model) just quit working a few months ago. Luckily, Fisher Price's phone support was beyond helpful, and the CS rep is sending us an adapter and two replacement batteries. I just hope his "7-10 business days" delivery estimate was an overestimate. One receiver is tapped out, and the other one isn't far behind. It makes showering during naptime a little problematic.

Last night the VCR staged another rebellion, and tried to devour a Sesame Street video from the library. Joy. I managed to get the tape out, after removing the top of the VCR, but the tape is slightly torn now. We'll see how the library handles these things. The DVD version is only $9 at Amazon, though. The irritating part is that I got the video so we could watch it and see if we wanted to buy it. Not gonna happen now, I guess.

Irritating Part Number 2 is that we decided to open the combination DVD/VCR that we bought before Christmas. It was intended to be a gift for my Mom, to replace her cantankerous old model, but she beat us to the punch, so we thought we'd just keep it for ourselves to replace our rebellious VCR. Turns out, we can't use this one. At least not without some more cables and such. Sony, in their infinite wisdom, made a VCR/DVD that you can't use without a cable box or satellite convertor. If you've just got an antenna, or cable via coaxial input, you're up a creek. We've got cable, but with a coax input. I swear, I don't know anyone with a cable box these days, and I'm not about to rent one from the cable company just to hook up this insane VCR. Yes, the manual offers that you can run the cable through another VCR and into this one, but that sort of defeats the purpose, now doesn't it.

Besides, that little shelf doesn't have room for a DVD player, a VCR, and another DVD/VCR combo. Twits.

So we'll just have to find the receipt and see what Target's return policy on slightly opened electronics is.

And then today, I may have killed the humidifier while trying to scrape the lime scale off the heating element. Yeah. I don't remember the element wobbling like that before. It's a nice humidifier (a Holmes from Sears), except for the expensive element filter whatsits ($5 each, and they only last a few weeks). And the hassle of chipping the scale off. The manual suggests using a soft toothbrush, but they're obviously from some other planet where the water's actually soft or something. The water deposits here? They laugh at a toothbrush, and aren't that intimidated by the flat-head screwdriver and utility knife method that I've been using.

So I guess I'll be researching humidifiers and VCRs when I get a chance. And VCRs are getting scarce. I hate to spend a lot of money on one, since we'll (theoretically) be getting a Tivo-like device when we move. And doing something with the video archive under the TV.

(And what's up with the spellcheck?)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rain Rain and Books

It's been raining here all day, enough that there are flood warnings out for the area. Not that I'm against some rain, we can use the precipitation. But all day long is getting a bit much. Of course, since it's a good 20 degrees cooler than yesterday's 60s already, it won't be raining much longer. The forecast is calling for snow tonight and tomorrow. Only an inch or so, they say, but I've heard that before.

Anyway, it's been a dark, damp, gloomy day. So of course this is the day we had to go out and about - to the Post Office at the mall, Target, the library, and then to vote in the primary. It's a sad thing when voting seems to be more a question of "who can screw up the least" rather than "who will do the best job" - I need to find out which of the Founding Fathers (or whoever) was against professional politicians. I think they were onto something there.

Bookwise, I finished The Irish way by Robert Emmet Ginna It's a pretty good book, and it's the kind of travel experience I wish I could have. Unfortunately, being pretty shy and not good in social situations makes that kind of hard. Our trip to Ireland was fun, but if I hadn't been cold the whole time, I might have had even more fun. (And if we hadn't based everything on Rick Steves' driving times, because the man must drive way faster than we did.)

We scored some good books at the library sale today, for a total of $9. El Burrito found A Visit to the Sesame Street Museum, which he held on to until we went back out in the rain. I found the first two Percy Jackson books (50c each!), a Denise Austin fitness book, a book on water gardening, Barbara Damrosch's Garden Primer, and an interesting-looking teen fantasy, Legend of Burning Water, that's unfortunately the 3rd in a series.

And then we came home and found a 12-pound box of goodies in the mail. My sister and brother-in-law in Detroit went to the big car show, and sent El Burrito a box of promo literature from the show. He's read his Car & Driver magazine until the covers fell off, so we need some new car stuff to look at.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Crazy weather

It's got to be over 60 degrees outside, because I've had the doors open for three hours and it's still 76 degrees inside. That's not right. And with a cold front coming through tomorrow, I'm just hoping we don't get another round of tornados and storms like we did last month.

Anyway, to enjoy the weather, El Burrito and I went out on the porch and blew some bubbles after his nap. He had a good time, but he'd like them better if he could hold them, I think.

And now for an update on El Burrito.

The boy can spin in circles and walk backwards. I'm impressed. He's got nine teeth, but still waiting on the two teeth next to the center teeth. His vocabulary is getting bigger, and he's started putting together two-word groups. (The main one being "pictures Burrito" when he wants to look at pictures on the computer. Hopefully the vanity isn't a permanent thing.) says the "typical" 20-month-old has a 12-15 word spoken vocabulary. I think he's at least double that, and I'm not trying to brag. It makes up for the late walking and the fact that he's still on the low end of the height/weight charts. And proves that the 95th-percentile head is, indeed, making room for brains. :)

And now, back to deciding what to do with the primary election tomorrow. Talk about a headache.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Goings On

The "to do" list is getting longer, but a few things are getting marked off. I started a Flickr account to go with the Ravelry account, and I'm looking into Ebay alternatives.

Found out a cousin of mine had a baby this week. Unmarried, baby's father is in Iraq until April, and the baby wasn't due until March. And she has no insurance. And, to top it all off, she only told her parents a few weeks ago that she was expecting a baby. My poor uncle; he got soo much crap from my grandparents when his 2nd daughter got a divorce, and now this. He'll never hear the end of it, and it's not all his fault. But then my grandparents (on Mom's side) are like that. A couple of my cousins have divorced or broken up with someone, and the grandparents, Grandma mostly, will blatantly take the side of the non-relative, sometimes for no good reason.

But now, maybe certain relatives will finally get over the fact that I wasn't taking out newspaper ads as soon as I found out I was pregnant. Yes, we waited until Christmas, when I was all of 4 months pregnant, to tell our parents. I didn't want to spend the holiday get-togethers answering endless repetitive questions, and I didn't want to give my mom another reason to go overboard on the shopping, especially when she was worrying (needlessly) about finances and Dad's retirement.

And now I'm off to work on something. Who knows what, but something.