Sunday, December 30, 2007

Since I Don't Do Resolutions...

I was going to post about my weekend. But since it entails uploading photos, doing research, and other stuff not conducive to my current level of fatigue, I shall leave you with this, instead:

In 2008, nuj resolves to...
Take evening classes in lost.
Become a better football.
Put fifty dvds a month into my savings account.
Go to the hot celebrities every month.
Be nicer to obieo.
Pay for my movies on time.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dryer Wars 2007

The following is a true story, told by the participants. No facts have been changed to protect the innocent. There were no innocents in this war.

The Dryer: It happened slowly, as these things always do. Conditions down here deteriorated, and those in power were oblivious.

The Owner: All I knew was that my clothes were taking longer and longer to dry. First it was three cycles, then it was four. The dryer is old. I thought we needed a new one.

The Dryer: That infuriated me. I did my job for nine years, toiling away, and all she ever did was load me up again. Sure, the lint filter got cleaned before every restart. But it wasn't enough. It's never enough.

The Owner: A couple of years ago a sock got stuck in the fan, and we took apart the bottom of the dryer to pull it out. It was really full of lint then, so I knew that might be the problem now. But I couldn't find the ratchet set.

The Dryer: There are always excuses by those in power for not attending to those laboring under them. I was tired of it. I wasn't going to take it anymore, not with a lame token.

The Owner: Things were getting worse. I found the ratchet set and cleaned out the completely clogged exit duct, and all the lint loose in the bottom of the dryer. It didn't help. The next load took an entire day to dry. War had been declared. I got out my Consumer Reports articles and ratings on dryers.

The Dryer: Do you know how heartbreaking it is to have hope dashed so completely? It was like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound. I took a calculated risk in complete rebellion, but what else could I do?

The Owner: Plans are no good if you don't implement them. The articles I read said you should clean your ductwork once a year. We hadn't done it since we moved in. Nearly nine years ago. I'd taken measurements weeks before, but Christmas and work and school stuff kept interfering. It was going to be a big job. I even bought all the materials earlier in the week, but didn't break down and take care of things until the end.

This morning I pulled out the dryer, cleaned out the rigid, flat duct that goes behind it, completely replaced the old ductwork, and replaced the vent that goes to the outside, with a new louvered cap over it. It wasn't easy. Just cleaning the floor under the dryer took forever. But in the end, it was worth it, to end the war.

The Dryer: I dried the next two loads in one cycle. The third one, too, the big one of towels. War can be ugly, but sometimes it's necessary, to wake people up to their stupidity. I'm just glad no one was killed in this one.

The Owner: I can't wait to see my electric bill next month.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Limbo Week

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a lovely holiday yesterday (I did) and that everyone who celebrates other things at least got the day off from work.

This week between Christmas and New Year's Day is the most difficult week of the year, I think. I was going to say it's the least productive, but that depends. Today, for example, my kids and I went to the library, post office, mall, and four other stores. My house is a mess, I have the spectre of a GIGANTIC to-do list somewhere ahead of me, and my husband is sure working his butt off at the office, but because so many people are off work at least for a portion of this week and/or next, and the kids are off school, and publishing has come to a grinding halt, and we're looking back at last year and waiting for next year, I feel like I'm in complete limbo.

Over the next couple of days I'll post my Top 10 lists (or Top whatever, if there aren't 10) of the movies, books, and TV for 2007. Then I'll address my 2007 goals and decided whether or not to do 2008 goals.

Part of me doesn't want to. I don't want to keep track of the books I read and the movies I see, or log my weight and exercise routine every day. I'm frankly impressed that I managed to last a whole year doing it.

On the other hand, I definitely want to keep track of my writing projects and how much I write, and I really should keep track of the exercise routine, or I'll fail at continuing it. I think I'm going to take a totally new approach, at the least.

So, stay tuned! Let's see if any of your favorites matched up to mine!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

They Say It's My Birthday...

According to astrology, today is the luckiest day of the year for all signs, but especially for Capricorn, and double for people who's birthday is today.

Yeah, right.

I spent $11 on scratch tickets--bupkis.

But that's okay. Despite that failure, and dreary rain, it's been a good day.

People always ask if I get gypped, having a birthday so close to Christmas. The only thing I've ever been gypped on was parties. Everyone made damned sure I got lavished with love and presents on my day. That's especially true now, with a husband and kids who wait on me and make sure I do no chores.

I always loved this time of year. Now it's about a week, but when I was a kid, it was a solid month of celebration. My grandparents came up one weekend and we had a party (and got presents). Then we had my birthday, then my aunt's annual Christmas Eve, which I did every single year until about 10 years ago, when Number One got old enough that we wanted Christmas Day in our own house and stopped traveling for the holiday. I miss it. It was mostly my uncle's family, but my brother and I were always really close to my cousins, and the traditions--Auntie Mary's wings, handing out presents, the Raffenetti men getting drunk and making lame-o jokes--were huge contributors to a happy childhood. Then, of course, we had Christmas Day at home, and later at my other grandparents'.

Last night we went to my sister-in-law's annual party and had a good time playing games and delighting in the new generation of babies. Tomorrow night Jim and I wrap presents while we watch mediocre movies, and Tuesday we go to his parents' house.

Warmth, family, laughter, loving. It's what December's all about.

That and presents! I got:

  • A 500GB backup drive
  • Parallel Desire by Deidre Knight
  • Tempted by Megan Hart
  • A Patriots steering wheel cover
  • Cool paper clips
  • Cool binder clips
  • A Nerf Patriots football
  • A $25 iTunes gift card
I got breakfast made for me, and pigs in a blanket for lunch, and they're making shepherd's pie for dinner.

Okay. Maybe this isn't my luckiest day of the year, as far as unexpected luck goes. But I think I qualify as luckiest wife/mom in the world, and that's much better.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Blog Year in Review

I stole this idea from Gail, who took it from someone else, who probably got it from someone else. Such is the nature of blogging. :)

The idea is to look at the first few lines of the first post from each month and comment from the current perspective.

January 2007
I've been working on and thinking about my goals all day, and I liked the way one author I know laid hers out, so I'm emulating her. It's quantifiable and means I can do another spreadsheet. I like spreadsheets. :)

I do like spreadsheets. My life is ruled by them. They've made it really easy to see just how far off I am from meeting my goals next week...

February 2007
Thirteen Things I Have To Do Constantly That I Hate

Not a very positive topic, huh? At least they were all minor things. Like dealing with kitty litter. I still have to do all of them, BTW.

March 2007
I'm not going to say "I can't believe it's March first already!" Not only is that cliché, I CAN believe it and I'm GLAD it's March.

Apparently, the shortest month of the year in 2007 felt really long. I can tell you that every single month this year someone said, "I can't believe it's X already!"

April 2007
I tried to log in to my bank today and they have tightened security so it's no longer my access ID and pin, they ask a security question, too.

That hasn't happened again. I removed the question "What is your dream job?" from the list.

May 2007
Thirteen Ways I'm Not Like "Most" Women

Another Thursday Thirteen, another topic with a negative word in it. I wonder how often I did that?

June 2007
MaryF tagged me again. Good thing, too, 'cause I've had nothing to say for too long.

Hmmm. Apparently, that was the year for this.

July 2007
A few years ago, not too long before my mother died, I was picking on her about her "address book." It was probably 20 years old or older.

Will it surprise anyone to know I still haven't gotten a new address book? It's falling apart, some of the sections have no more room, but every time I use it, I remember people I no longer see. Also, I'm lazy.

August 2007
Thirteen Reasons I Haven't Posted In A Week

No comment.

September 2007
I want to know what the hell is up with our commercial aviation system. I mean, out of four flights I took this weekend, every single one was early.

This was really funny, because since I posted this, I've heard at least once a month about what a mess the airlines are, with on-time rates at all-time lows. I guess I just got lucky.

October 2007
I was looking at my tags, or labels, yesterday, and I realized I've been remiss. This is my 450th Blogger post (not sure which for MySpace and LJ) and I have three tags I use a lot: Writing, TV, and Supernatural. But I have 16 labels I've used only once. And that's appalling.

I did manage to get rid of all my one-post labels. Now I have 11 labels with only two posts each.

November 2007
These Made Me Cry: This one, because it was so good and we'll never get to see more (idiot suits):

I had videos of the Veronica Mars episode they pitched around before getting yanked--you know, the one where VM was a rookie FBI agent?

December 2007
These are the last topics that have only one post labeled such, so I'm finishing my boost in one fell swoop.

Okay, so what have we learned from this year in review?

I'm redundant and boring.


Monday, December 17, 2007

She Did It Again!

A message from my former guest blogger, Trish Milburn:

I hope you're all prepared for the holiday season and will be able to enjoy your time with friends and family. Before you bake those final cookies and wrap those last presents though, I hope you can devote a moment to voting in the latest round of the American Title contest, in which I'm one of the remaining six finalists. The two people with the lowest amount of votes this round will be eliminated as of the end of voting on Dec. 30, and I really don't want to start off the new year by having to say bye-bye. :( So check out the latest round here.

Way to go, and good luck, Trish!


Me, I'm finally on my way with the holiday prep. Cards are out (I THINK all of them). Presents are shipped, and some of the non-shipping presents are purchased. Tree is up and decorated. And I have peppermint Hershey kisses in the house. :)

We had an ice storm this weekend. All my friends had power outages and/or damage. We have some honkin'-big limbs down in our back yard, but no damage. *knocks wood* Hope all my readers all over the country weathered the weather okay this weekend--and will continue to do so with the new storms coming up.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

That's Not So Merry

I was just at IMdB, looking up the actor who played Young!Sam in last night's episode of Supernatural, and I saw the air dates they have listed for the rest of the season.

"Witch Hunt" January 3.

"Dream a Little Dream of Me" January

That's it. So yes, we have to wait three more weeks for a new episode, and after that we only have two more before they apparently run out of finished eps. The news reports had all said we should 12 or 13 eps before the strike affected the show, but that's only 10.


At least we get the episode where we learn more about Bobby.

Come on, AMPTP! Stop being so stupid!

Friday, December 14, 2007



I knew I hadn't posted in a while, but I didn't realize it had been more than a week! I apologize to any die-hard reader who kept checking back here and finding the same lame TT from LAST week. Makes RSS feeds more attractive, I bet.

So what has been keeping me so freakin' busy? Nothing interesting. Editing work. Family stuff. Balancing the checkbook-level chores.

I've finally made some holiday progress. I mailed my Christmas cards today, and bought some gifts, wrapped them, and got them ready to ship. Ordered some things online. We don't have a tree yet, which is weird--it's really late for us. But the weather's been so bad, we kept putting it off (plus we still had all the dining room stuff in the living room until last weekend, when we got the new rug). Still don't know when we'll get it. They're all wet right now. We'll probably get one tomorrow and set it up in the carport for a week to dry. *sigh*

Speaking of the weather. It's been weird. Weirder than in 1999, when it was 72 degrees the first weekend in December and we cut down a Christmas tree in our shorts. Well, the tree wasn't in our shorts, we were. Except not me. I was pregnant, and leggings were more comfortable.

Anyway. It has rained every weekend for a couple of months now. I know this because it was always raining when I drove Number Two and her friend to soccer training. It was also raining nearly every Monday night (that's dance class). Last week we had a snow delay. It was nice snow, the light kind that packs perfectly. Great skiing snow. I always notice this, despite the fact that I haven't skied in almost a decade.

Yesterday we had school canceled for an ice storm. Today was warm enough that there was a cascade of ice off the trees in the back yard for about twenty minutes, but then it got cold and windy, and we're supposed to have snow both days this weekend.

None of which is worth complaining about. I just feel like I haven't seen real sun in a long time.

My to-do list is still too long. It has many items I have been putting off for a while, like calling Apple about my frazzled laptop, and calling the vet about the dog's vaccine, and calling our insurance agent...are you noticing a trend? I'm noticing a trend.

Supernatural was new last night, and darned near perfect. The acting was more subdued and natural, like they finally got back into their rhythm. The writing was focused on its usual dual tracks--the hunting evil, and the being brothers. The emotion was more internal, and therefore more impactful. I cried at the end.

I also squirmed a lot! Geez, the torture! Made so much worse by the people doing it. Those two were so natural as the perky, 50s-era grandparent types, even while they were being evil. I love these classic episodes. Sammy getting throttled, Dean hitting the wall. But it was horrible with the little kids watching their loved ones being taken away/killed, and even worse seeing Sam's *shudder* fingernail ripped out.

The lines were great, too. My favorite was the "You fudging touch me and I'll fudging kill you!" Oh, man, I laughed!.

I was delighted they brought back the kid who played Dean in "Something Wicked." He's a talented actor. I could see his brain working the same way I see it in Jensen. He internalized the motivations and the attitude, yet wasn't just copying his older counterpart. He seemed to have really thought about what kind of big brother he'd have been back then.

And how perfect is it that Sam gave him the necklace?

We have another rerun next week. *kicks TV* So let me leave you with this delightful tidbit, found by Vicki:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #22

Header graphic courtesy Write From Karen

Thirteen Techie Things I Love

On My Computer:

1. CTRL+drag

You highlight something, hold down the CTRL button, and drag it with the mouse. Et voila! It stays in the old spot, but also appears in the new spot! Copy without the paste!

2. The expanded "recent documents" list in Office 2007

I used to only be able to see the four most recent files. Then it was nine. Now it's twenty.

3. Pinning files in Office 2007

You know how, in the old versions of Office, most recent documents were listed at the top, and old documents fell off the bottom of the list? If you had to open a bunch of files looking for something, and then wanted to go back to an earlier file, it wasn't handy anymore. Well. In Office 2007, if you want a Word document or Excel spreadsheet to stay put because you use it all the time, you pin it. Each file has an image of a sideways pushpin next to it. Click it, it turns green and is upright. That doc never falls off the list. It's awesome!

4. Word count at bottom of Word

I don't think this was there before. It might have been, and if so, I didn't notice it. I just remember there being page count, and I created a macro to quickly pull up the word count box. Now there's not only word count (very handy) in the bottom toolbar, if you highlight a section of text, it shows how many words in that, too, like 524/34,000.

5. Windows Vista's new ALT+TAB interface

You could always cycle between programs by holding down ALT and pressing TAB until you got to the program you wanted. In later versions a window would pop up showing the type of document and the name. Now, it shows a live image of that screen. So if a web page is loading slowly, or you're not sure if you have any new mail in your inbox, you can do ALT+TAB and check without having to actually switch to the program. Going along with that, you can point to the open item in the toolbar and it will show the same image. I always have a lot of stuff open (right now I have 12 things open in different applications) so I'm constantly using this.

In TiVo/NFL Sunday Ticket:

6. 30-second jump-back

The best feature by far. Didn't understand the line that garble-mouthed character said? Jump back. Wanna watch the big tackle again? Jump back. Oooh, a new Mac/PC commercial! Jump back twice.

7. Recording two things at once

I don't know how I did it before. We had two VCRs, but the cheap one in the bedroom I hated to use. It's a must-have for a two-team NFL family. Speaking of which...

8. Football Fan Gadgetry

On our non-TiVo receiver, you can press a button to see the scores of all the games without switching away from yours or waiting for the ticker to pass through the one you're curious about. You can choose a game that might be six channels away and just flick to it. You can also pull up live stats!

In the Camry:

9. Mileage Meter

There's a meter in the dash that shows the current mileage. It's a real eye-opener. The car averages 33 to 39 mpg overall. But you can get a really good idea of how it breaks down by checking the current meter. Going uphill, it gets 10 or less. Going downhill, of course, it's not using gas and is charging the battery. On the highway, it's one thing to know you're using much more gas going 70 than going 55, and quite another to see the needle drop 20 mpgs.

10. Automatic Rearview Mirror

Instead of having to flip the mirror when you have bright lights behind you, the mirror adjusts automatically. I think there's a gel or something in it, and it turns blue. You have better visibility behind you than a traditional angled mirror, and don't have to keep flipping back and forth, and never get blinded. From the mirror, anyway. Can't do anything about those idiots in the oncoming lane.

11. In-steering-wheel Controls

I like being able to control the radio or make a phone call by pressing a couple of buttons with my thumb.


12. Alphasmart Neo

I've talked about this before, of course, but I still love it to pieces. It has a better thesaurus than Word, quick access to word count, easy management of files, and excellent maneuverability within the document. Plus it's light, fast on-and-off, and never goes on the fritz (knock wood!).

13. Instant Alert

My kids' school district just contracted for this. You put your information into their system, and if there's a weather delay or cancellation, an emergency in one of the schools, or even a notice about athletics or after-school activities, they can put out a district-wide (or customized) alert to the entire district. You can get the alert via e-mail, on your PDA, cell phone (text or call), regular phone, or pager. No more listening to the radio (forever if you miss your county) or watching the crawl on TV or looking it up on the Internet.

Funny story about this. I had to drop by the school today, and the secretary was talking to someone who was obviously irate that they hadn't gotten an alert for this morning's two-hour delay. Thing is, the paperwork was mailed to the parents on Monday. We just got it Tuesday. It says right in the paperwork that a test message will go out to everyone on December 19, and after that, it will be live. Duh.

Maybe someday I'll do a Thursday Thirteen about all the ways people are stupid.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Pets, Plans, and Travel

These are the last topics that have only one post labeled such, so I'm finishing my boost in one fell swoop.

J told me the other night that Number Two wants a kitten for Christmas. We have two cats and a dog. The dog has stained every carpet with florescent yellow bile vomit. The cats have shredded all our wood furniture. Our vet bill, while certainly lower than other people's is daunting.

Then there's the litter box.

We only have one, because when we had two they both just used one, anyway. And since the cats are banned from going downstairs, there's very limited space in which to place a second box. I'm the one who cleans it all the time. Do I really want to have to do it MORE often?

Plus, kittens are a lot more work. They chew things, they climb things, they get lonely and cry all day/night.

But Number Two really wants one. She insisted she'll take care of it (she already shoulders a lot of the feeding duties anyway). But Daddy got her afraid of me. She said she won't put it on her Christmas list, but could Daddy please let Santa know for her? The heart weeps.

I have no plans for December. Well, not true. I have some plans. I want to write a short story so I get to 300,000 words. I want to start editing Behind the Scenes to eliminate the loss of tension at certain points. And I have some critiquing to do (should be doing right now, as a matter of fact!). And, of course, I have vague holiday preparation plans. I need to do Christmas cards, and make a gift list, and go shopping, and figure out what we're doing when. And we need to get a tree and put up the lights. And we have kids' events--dance recital for Number Two, orchestra and chorus concert for Number One.

But other than that, I have no plans.

I didn't travel that much this year. I did the May retreat with my chapter, CPRW, and in August I went to Myrtle Beach for our family vacation. I think that's it.

Next year will be another story. I have plans to go to the NEC conference in April, the CPRW retreat in May, National in July (a serious reach, but I'm not giving up hope), Cape Cod for our summer vacation, and a tour of Ohio so I can speak at the Maumee Valley chapter and visit family in Akron, Toledo, and Delaware (no, not the state, the city near Columbus).

That's a LOT of traveling. Good thing we have a hybrid!