Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Library Day!

A breezy day for a library trip.

We returned I think 4 books and a CD today (and a couple on Saturday), and checked out 4 books. Totals now are 33 items out and 7 on hold.

Then we spent $10 at the sale carts. Half of that was for El Burrito, who got a couple of Easter books, 3 Pooh books, and a book about Biscuit the puppy. The other half was books for me and for DH, mostly historical stuff, mainly sailing-related.

And El Burrito looked at the Biscuit book while I downloaded 350MB of podcasts on the library's amazingly fast Internet access. Wish they'd get some decent mice, though.

Monday, March 30, 2009


As promised, pictures:

"Building a word" at the library. (Complete with the "bloop bloop" sound effects.)

The waterfall at Shelter Garden is running again. No koi yet; still too cold.

Renovation of the Rose Garden: Two metal arches which I think will end up as rose arbors with benches underneath (there's a concrete slab under each arch, so no roses there). The hedge of Knock-out Roses along the sidewalk has been replaced with the triangular evergreens on the left.

New statue in the pond in the Japanese maples. Until last year, this pond had a fish standing on its tail, spouting water. This year the fish was replaced with this dragon. He doesn't spout water, but the pump outlet is in a slightly iffy place.

Crocus blooming in the Japanese maples.

DH fishing El Burrito's cars out of the water cascade in the Fern Garden.

New walkways in the Rock Garden.

More decluttering

There's a mild form of spring cleaning going on.

I cleaned one shelf of the fridge last night, and proved that we aren't the pickle-crazy fools we thought we were. (That, or just that we shouldn't shop with coupons when we're hungry.) I'm sad and slightly embarrassed to say that I tossed 5 and a half jars of pickles in the trash. The half-jar was dated 1999. The full jars were slightly fresher, but still a couple years past their prime. Luckily today was trash day, because the pickles were still pickle-scented.

The partial jar of Spanish olives is still in the fridge. Oddly, it has no date anywhere on the jar, lid, or label. We're also still the owners of 2 partial jars of dill relish and a jar of hamburger pickles.

This is why we keep a Sharpie in the kitchen now and put a date on anything food-like when we buy it.

After the fridge cleaning, I changed the filter in the furnace (kind of a pain to do, since you have to perch on the clothes dryer to reach the filter), and cleaned off the shelf over the washer & dryer. Nothing got tossed other than some dust bunnies, but the handful of laundry samples is dust-free and ready to be sampled. Today I used the Tide Cold Water sample, which seems to work pretty well.

I also tested another tip for getting rid of static electricity in the dryer - tossing in a fist-sized ball of aluminum foil. So far, it seems to be effective, although the higher ambient humidity could be affecting things. I think it also left some silver scuffs on the dryer barrel, but they'll go along with the blue-jean stains on the back of the dryer. I also use Downy sometimes (diluted to about 25% of the recommended usage) and half-sheets of Bounce, plus distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle. I don't care much for the Downy's scent, and we take long enough to use a bottle that it goes kind of sludgy at the end, in spite of being watered down and shaken up.

All of that is only used on clothes & blankets, though. The bath & kitchen towels only get vinegar, so they stay absorbent. Using softeners on them sort of defeats the purpose. Plus, a rough towel is good for exfoliating. :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring is close!

It's got to be almost spring. I've been on generic Claritin for 3 weeks, and switched over this week to generic Zyrtec. It seems to keep a better lid on the so-itchy-I-can't-stand-it eyes. Not as cheap as the loratadine, but I'll pay to not scratch my eyes out.

El Burrito skipped storytime yesterday. I was late going back to wake him up, and he wasn't in any hurry to get up anyway. He's been off his feed all week for some reason - allergies, cold, new molars, who knows. But definitely not his usual appetite. On Thursday, he had 3 bites of Cheerios for breakfast, 4 bites of cottage cheese and some goldfish for lunch, and 2 spoonfuls of applesauce and some teddy grahams for dinner. Plus a lot of milk.

So, since he was under the weather and we were already behind schedule, we skipped storytime. He didn't catch on until later, when he told me very bluntly to change my shirt, change my pants, and change my socks so we could go somewhere.

We did go over to Shelter Garden around lunchtime, since it was a nice day. They've filled up all the ponds and fountains, although the koi and goldfish aren't out yet. That'll be another few weeks, I'd say. Someone - I'm not naming names - tossed his toy car in one of the little waterfalls, and was a little put out that we wouldn't fish the pennies out for his bank.

Pictures later.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Library tripping in the rain

It was raining cats and dogs (and small rodents) for our library trip. And we don't have raincoats. <>

We returned 4 books and checked out two, so I've now got 36 items out and 5 on hold. I've finished all the Lois Meade mysteries that are out (written by Ann Purser) and started on The 39 Clues today.

Then we spent a whopping 50 cents at the sale cart - El Burrito got a Snoopy book.

And he managed to get soaked from the knees down on the way home - he stuck his foot under the water running off the carport. Thought it was fun. :) Yeah, and his Lightning McQueen shoes aren't waterproof. He was asking me to "wipe off my pants" when we got in the house.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Last Battlestar

Warning: if you haven't seen the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, and you don't want to know what's going to happen, then don't read this!

On to my brief and slightly disorganized notes on the last episode.

Overall, it wasn't the depressing, bloody, high-body-count finale I was expecting (along the lines of Forever Knight and Angel, where the survivors were outnumbered by the corpses). Of course, they'd killed off a substantial number of main and secondary (and tertiary) characters in the last four seasons, so it's not like everyone survived the whole series. (RIP Dualla, Billy, Cally, and too many others for me to list here.) Other than President (ex-President?) Roslin, the only other casualties were red-shirts and Cylons. The Big Battle ended with 45 minutes left before the end, and I sat through a commercial break wondering what they were going to do to fill the time. It actually ended on kind of a happy note, with finding another Earth, setting up settlements, and the idea that they survived to have descendants 150,000 years later.

Random notes, not in order:

  • Did NOT need the Adama drunken barfing scene - we were eating dinner at the time!
  • So their Earth 1 was not our Earth, but then Starbuck led them to our earth, 150,000 years ago. Meaning that the nuked "Earth" wasn't our Earth.
  • Surprised at Cavil's end. (Apparently that was Dean Stockwell's idea, according to an interview I read.)
  • Never found out about the 7s and their hypothetical connection with Starbuck and/or Daddy Starbuck.
  • Who is Lt/Adm Hoshi? I haven't watched Razor yet, which probably would fill in some gaps. May have to buy/rent/borrow the DVDs for the whole series, if we ever have time to watch them. Our library doesn't own any (yet), so I may have to suggest them.
  • Was Starbuck an angel or whatever, a la Head-6 and Head-Baltar? Cylon? Asgard with a transporter? I was really wanting to find out how Kara found her own corpse.
  • I'm glad that Galen took out the bitch that killed Cally. I know a lot of fans didn't like Cally, but I did.
  • Is Adama going to starve to death beside Laura's grave? He didn't seem to have packed any supplies before he flew off into the sunset with her.
  • Glossed over the whole getting the fleet to Starbucks random jump location.
  • What happened to Nicky & his bio-dad?
  • Lee's all alone now (Starbuck, Adm. Adama, Dee all dead/disappeared).
  • Did we really need a Ron Moore cameo at the end?
  • Awesome Cottle/Roslin scene.
  • Viva President Lampkin! Finally with a real live (presumably?) dog.
  • End robot footage too cheesey/obvious/unsubtle?
  • Really loved the theme from the Original BSG music when the Galactica was falling apart.
And that's about it for the first viewing. I recorded it and plan to watch again. I'd like to watch the last three hours at once, but that seems unlikely to happen these days.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Library Trips

We've been to the library twice this week, and sadly, I haven't managed to get any computer time yet this week.

Tuesday, we returned 2 books, checked out 3, I think, and spent $6 at the sale. El Burrito got lucky and found Little Lamb's Easter Surprise - it's one of a set of 4, and we have 2 of the others. I was hoping to pick up the next Lois Meade book by Ann Purser, but it's apparently been misplaced on the Hold shelf, since they couldn't find it today, either.

Today was Storytime day. Last week, El Burrito played with another little boy, and they actually shared and swapped toy cars for a while. Surprised me, because he hasn't played a lot with other kids (except for older cousins), and he was very good about letting the other boy play with Miss Sally, his favorite car.

When we stopped at the library on Sunday, he was asking where his little friend was. Had to disappoint him and tell him that the other boy wasn't going to be at the library every time we were there.

Today after Storytime, his buddy was there again. And they played happily, swapping cars, for about half an hour before we had to leave. Another car-crazy boy came over to play too, so it was pretty fun for them all, I guess. It was hilarious, though, when El Burrito was walking around calling his friend's name (after I reminded him what "That Boy"'s name was), and he was looking right at him. That's my boy - good with names, lousy with faces. But I'm glad he's found some kids he likes to play with, and seems to be okay with the sharing.

He's actually doing some unprompted sharing, too. He was sitting with me in Storytime, holding his two cars. Pushes his cars over toward the little girl sitting next to us, and says something along the lines of "Here, Little Girl. You play with them." He may have called her Baby, because he's been calling every little kid Baby instead of Girl or Boy. (There's also some gender confusion - everyone's a Boy lately.)

Plus, El Burrito found a nickel on the floor at the library. He's on a roll - found a penny at the library last week (and held it in his fist all the way home, even with a Post Office stop), and found a whopping 86 cents at the grocery store last week. Three quarters, a dime, and a penny, all by the floral department. I never find quarters. :(


Turns out, Wil Wheaton is just a few months older than me.

Which seems wrong, for some reason. Not sure why, or if some part of my brain is stuck in old TNG reruns and thinks he should be younger than me, or what.

It's just a little disconcerting today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sci Fi -> SyFy

Tell me, what does "SyFy" look like to you, and how would you pronounce it?

Apparently this is the new name for the Sci Fi Channel, with the lame reason that "Sci Fi" isn't trademark-able. Their new tag line is "Imagine greater" or some such dreck. SyFy to me just looks like someone forgot to spell-check. It'll also mean the end of their "iF" commercials, which stinks, because I like some of those (although not the one with the balloon dog).

Off to put "Complain to Sci Fi" on my To Do list. Not that it will help, after they've spent truckloads of money buying the SyFyPortal domain name. Besides, it's not like they've got anything left worth watching, other than Eureka.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yard sale fun

No, not my own yard sale. That's happening when we move. I left El Burrito and DH in bed this morning and had a couple of hours "alone" (surrounded by other shoppers).

Today was the big spring book sale for the Friends of the Library, as well as a fundraiser yard sale for a local preschool. Last year I scored a Puzz3D of the Titanic for only $2 at the preschool sale. This year it was smaller, but I still found some goodies. Spent a total of $5.75 ($4.75 early, then $1 later during $1 a Bag time). I found a leather belt, 3 stuffed critters (Snoopy, Paddington, and a Beanie elephant), 8 books, a nice Disney puzzle, and one of those foam floor puzzles that'll be about 2x5 feet when it's together.

At the Friends sale, I got 3 big bags of books, a couple LPs, 2 CDs, a Roy Rogers DVD, and what appears to be a foreign-release VideoCD of Star Wars V. All for under $40. Some good books, too - I found a Quantum Leap info book that I hadn't seen before.

And just now, I screwed up an entry for an online contest, and have apparently ordered 12 issues of Redbook for $6.44. Have to call next week and take care of that, I guess.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gardening Stuff - I tried

There are some forsythia bushes along our sidewalk, which I may have mentioned here before. Sadly, they've never bloomed well that I recall, because we live in a condo complex, and the management hires the lawn care out to some folks who - when it comes to shrubs - have no clue. Everything gets the same treatment - a good serious pruning every winter. Take a few inches (or more) off the top, ignore the overgrown mass in the middle. Treat it all like a hedge. Not the thing to do if you want your forsythia to look like the gigantic bright-yellow balls of happiness that they can be. They have to be pruned after they bloom, otherwise the pruning takes the potential blooms off.

So, when the annual newsletter in December mentioned the pruning, I took some action. I emailed the management company and asked them to tell the grounds guys to not prune the forsythia. Lo and behold, they listened. The forsythias look nice and gangly, and were on track to be nice yellow bits of brightness in a gloomy spring.

Except that it's been uncommonly warm lately - the high yesterday was 68. And things were starting to attempt to bud out. Which would have been fine, if it hadn't been for the cold front yesterday, which gave us a low last night of 20. Yep, a 50-degree drop in about 12 hours. And now, I'm just hoping that the forsythia are more cold-hardy than I think, and weren't far enough along that this will squash them for the year.

I ran out last night after the 10:00 weather and clipped off a few foot-long sections, hoping to force them if nothing else. Only one of them looks like it has buds, though, so I have some more hope for the bushes themselves. I meant to go look at them today, but didn't get a chance.

Hope, hope.

I may have to write the management company again. I'm thinking of suggesting that they get some sort of list or map of what shrubs and perennials are here, and do a little more focused job of the pruning and care. Things like pruning times, dividing hostas, etc. Not sure how it'll go over, since it'll probably not be cheap. On the other hand, the county Extension has a Master Gardener program, and possibly someone might take this on as a project.

Then there's the indoor gardening. You can tell it's the end of winter.

My poor sad purple oxalis looks like toast. The green oxalis look better, so I'm not sure what's wrong.

One of my presumed Christmas Cactus has decided to put out one single bloom. No other buds. Given the unusual shape of the sections, I'm wondering if this one is an Easter Cactus instead.

And I managed to break a clay saucer, just by picking it up. Not sure how that happened, I've never seen it before, in a saucer that hadn't been dropped or stressed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Library Day craziness

Interesting trip to the library today.

First, we got there early enough that I grabbed 5 minutes of computer time and downloaded about 2.5 hours of podcast stuff (the new YarnCraft, plus a couple weeks of archived 365 Days of Astronomy 'casts from last month). And El Burrito was cooperative for that, which isn't always the case.

Then, the book-cart sale. Where El Burrito wasn't crazy about standing near me, got a compliment on his beautiful blue eyes from the woman at the coffee kiosk, and then he found a book. Not just any book, or even a kid-level book, which there were plenty of. No, he latched onto something he found on the History cart, and insisted on having it.What did he buy?

Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Volume 4. Vintage "Everyman's Library" printing from the 1960s.

I kid you not. Only 50 cents. And in a fuchsia and white paper dustcover, which might have been the attraction.

(Now, I'm definitely not of the "buy them something in every checkout line" school, or even of the "buy something to prevent a meltdown" camp. At least not usually. But this time, I gave in.)

That's my boy. Go for the oddball stuff.

We returned 4 books and checked out 2, so right now we have 33 items out and 6 on hold. And we need to go through El Burrito's stack again, since it's got my stack outnumbered.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Another discovery

I signed up for the JCPenney Rewards program a while back, after getting a lot of emails from them about it. Basically, you earn points for what you spend there, and get a $10 gift certificate after you spend $250. I don't buy a lot there, but we do get shoes there, and some toys at Christmas (they carry Breyer exclusives). I thought over time, I'd eventually earn $10 or so.

Turns out I didn't read all the fine print. I got my monthly email statement today and noticed I didn't have any points. As it happens, they don't roll points over from month to month, so unless you spend $250 in one month (*), you won't earn anything. Guess I won't be getting any Rewards anytime soon.

(*) If you purchase something - anything - at JCP one month, you apparently get double points the next month. So I may accidentally earn a Reward someday.

Daylight "saving" time

A quote from Yahoo Buzz:
Why do we have daylight-saving time?
Some folks believe it helps us save energy. With longer daylight hours, there's less of a need for folks to turn on the lights.
Notice the part I put in italics? It's not true, and it bugs me. We don't get more hours of daylight with DST. There isn't an extra hour of sunlight that we magically get starting tomorrow (except for Arizona, Hawaii, and assorted other non-continental U.S. areas). The amount of daytime we get is getting longer now, but it's nothing to do with DST. We will have practically the same number of minutes of sunlight tomorrow as we do today. It's just that we're all changing our clocks, so there are more daylight minutes in the afternoon, and we think that the day is longer. It's lousy science and fuzzy math. It's a trick, people.

Thus endeth my rant for the day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Computer issues

All right, I'm ready to bash my Internet connection flat, with something large. Asteroid, perhaps.

It's been like this for a week or so. Constant time-outs, repeated use of the Reload button, scores of Page Load Errors, Address not Found, random disconnects by the modem. It's made my online time about half as productive as a bad day, which is why I've got 900+ unread emails in my Yahoo inbox. I'm expecting that I'll have to try to post this at least three times, given the "Could not contact Blogger.com" that I see on the screen already.

I thought I had it fixed. I deleted a Firefox toolbar that I installed a week or so ago. I deleted the 12MB photo that someone emailed to a list I'm on, which was clogging up my email download. I also found out that my local dial-up modem number had changed (WHY don't they tell people when they change the dial-in number???????). Seemed to be fixed last night, but right now it's back to abnormal. Sigh.

Other theories - AT&T/Prodigy is having issues that they won't fess up to. Or they've oversold the capacity of the local modem pool. Possible spyware on the PC, in spite of an expensive subscription to McAfee, which I'd check if I could get to a website to check with. Issues with the modem itself, which is fairly new.

Either way, I'm ready to smack something. I don't get a lot of focused internet time (thanks to El Burrito and "real life"), and spending what time I do get hitting Reload endless times is trying the little patience I have left.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Library Day!

We had a fun trip to the library today, and El Burrito scored a stack of Sesame Street books. We spent $11, El Burrito got to see his buddy, and I may have to go back tomorrow for another look at the sale tables. Someone doesn't have a lot of patience for Mommy's book shopping.

We didn't return anything today, and checked out three books, so the totals now are 38 items out, 3 on hold. And 19 of the 38 are El Burrito's books.