Thursday, August 31, 2006


Bob and I went out to eat tonight (Jason's Deli) and then we were going to stop at Target for a few things. As we drove onto the access road, I looked over at the water rentention basin, and saw a swan. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to see geese, they're everywhere, but it seemed kind of unusual to see a swan. I told Bob, and he turned around and parked, and we got out to go see.

There were three swans that we could see, swimming lazily around in the pond, sticking their heads underwater to pull up -- weeds, I guess. Dinner, anyway.

We stood and watched them for awhile, then, as we were heading back to the car, one of them honked, and it gave Bob an idea. He had a snow goose call in the van, and he got it out, and stood in the parking lot and talked to the swans. And they talked back. I asked him what he said, and he said he just said "hello." He called to them several times, and every time, they answered.

Which reminds me of something about the cats. Dinah has always been a talker, but Pyewacket never was. For the first few years we had her, she never made a sound (I started to type "said a word"). She could be shut up in a closet or bathroom, and would never make a peep.

But after Dinah came, she started talking a little bit, and now she talks quite a lot. But it's mostly just announcing her presence ("I'm here!") or complaining about something, like when she wants to sit on your lap, and you put her down. She also has a little secret language that she's started using when she plays by herself at night. After we've gone to bed and the lights are out, we can hear her out on the landing batting around one of her little wads of paper and talking to it, or to herself.

The first time she did it, we both jumped out of bed and went to check on her, because really, it sounds like something is eating her. It's just the craziest noise. Now, though, we know what it is, and just lie there and listen to her, and laugh to each other about it.

Dinah doesn't do that, but you can have a conversation with her. In the evenings, when we're getting ready for bed and she comes up to be brushed, we have long talks, which just tickles me. I can sometimes make Pyewacket answer me once, but that's it. She's not one for long conversations.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Too good to be true

Friday night we were having thunderstorms, so I shut down the eMac, knowing full well that that's what I did the last time it wouldn't come on. But I thought, well, it was shut down at the Apple store, and it worked when I came home, and frankly, you know, you're going to have to shut it down at some point, right? So I shut it down and went to bed, and of course, in the morning, it wouldn't come on.

It would power on, the apple screen would come on, then it would flicker a few times, and the video would go off. I restarted it a few times, with the same result.

I did some more research at the Apple site's support section, and I guess this time I used the right search terms, because I found that certain eMacs have a defective part that causes the video to act exactly the way mine had been acting. I checked the serial number, and mine is within the range, so even if I didn't have the extended warranty, they would fix it free of charge. Of course, that begs the question of why the Apple tech didn't know that (or didn't mention it) when I was in there, since the recall was dated mid-June.

So anyway, that evening I told Bob, and he tried restarting it a few times, tapping it (which is what made it come on the first time it did this), but no luck. He said he thought we should leave it on for awhile and see what happened, so I did. It would occasionally flicker, and I got my hopes up, but it was flickering with weird random lines and colors, and it eventually settled on this:

After leaving it that way for awhile, I thought maybe it wouldn't be good for the monitor, so I went over to shut it down, and then decided to try restarting it one more time for good measure. This time it came on. So weird.

It's been fine ever since, but I know it's only a matter of time. I need to take it in again, but of course the problem is that the store isn't at a convenient location, there's no guarantee of close parking, and the thing weighs a TON. And it's not just heavy, it's awkward. But one of these days I'll get back down there with it.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kitty stories

Last night when I got home from the gym, I needed to use the bathroom, so I went into the guest bath downstairs. We seldom use that one, and we keep the door closed, so every time we open it, it seems like one or the other (or both) of the cats rush in to check it out. Pyewacket darted in this time, so when I was finished I just left her in there, and left the door open while I went and ate dinner.

Later that evening, when I was getting ready to go upstairs to bed, I noticed that the door was open, so I went to close it, checking first to see if either of the cats were in there, so that I didn't lock them in (which I've done before). This is what I saw:

She likes to lie in the sink--she does it all the time in our bathrooms upstairs--but the thing was that, this time, there had been a couple of hand towels lying on the vanity, and she'd pulled them into the sink to make a soft bed. She's not the sharpest tack, but she's no dummy.

I don't normally put really large photos up, but this one showed her coloring so beautifully that if you click on the photo, you'll get the enormous, larger-than-life-size version of pretty Pyewacket.

At night, Dinah sleeps on the outside of the bed next to me, then me, then Pyewacket in the middle, then Bob. The only time Dinah ever gets in between us is if she wants Pyewacket to give her a bath--it's even money whether Pyewacket will or not, but Dinah still tries.

Last night in the middle of the night I was sleeping on my side facing the center of the bed; Dinah climbed over me and laid in the middle. She never does that, but I put my arm around her and snuggled in, and thought, well, will wonders never cease. About fifteen minutes later, as I was drifting off to sleep, Bob turned over and touched her, and she was off the bed like a shot! I laughed and said, "That was Dinah!" and before he went back to sleep, he said he had thought it was Pyewacket.

A few minutes later I felt Dinah get back up on the bed; this time, she started picking at the t-shirt I was sleeping in with her claws -- pick, pick, pick. She'd hook her claws in and pull the shirt toward her, let it go, do it again.

I knew what that meant--the lying in the middle thing hadn't worked out all that well, but she still wanted some cuddling, and wouldn't I please turn over and do it the right way?? So I turned over, she settled in, and all was right with her world.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Mac mojo

Cello and I went to the Apple Store Thursday after work. You can't just walk in, you have to make an appointment, so it isn't the easiest thing in the world to do. I mean, you can walk in and buy something, of course, but if you need to talk to someone about a repair or something, you can't.

He needed to take his laptop in, and he offered to go with me if I wanted to take the eMac in at the same time. I jumped at the chance, mostly because the eMac is SO heavy that, while I can pick it up and move it (and have, but just from the desk to the table), it's way too heavy for me to carry any distance. And the store is on the Plaza, so finding a close parking spot is definitely not guaranteed, and I didn't want to end up having to carry it a couple of blocks from a parking garage.

So a couple of weeks ago I brought it in to work with me, pulled up to the back door and called Dave, who came out and carried it into the office for me, where it's been sitting since.

Getting it fixed wasn't really an emergency, since I have the iBook, so I just waited until it worked out for Cello. And since he was going to have to carry it, I wanted it to be on his schedule. So anyway, we met there Thursday evening, he carried it in for me, and we waited probably about twenty minutes until we could see someone. He showed the "genius" his laptop (I'm not being sarcastic there, they're called geniuses, and the place where you go is called the "Genius Bar." Kinda silly, but memorable . . .

The guy asked me what the story was on the eMac, and I told him that it would power on, but it didn't have any video. So he got out a power cord and plugged it in, and got an external monitor to see what was going on. He pressed the power button, it started up, and Cello and I both gasped as the monitor came on! The genius said, "You're kidding, right?" The monitor was facing away from him. We said no, it's coming on!

He restarted it three or four times, and it worked like a charm.

Way back a month or six weeks ago, when it stopped working and we took it in to CompUSA for it's two week stay there, Bob had said, "Before you take it anywhere else, let's try plugging it in again, just to see." But I'd done that so many times, restarted it so many times, spent so much time on the phone with Apple support, that I just didn't see the point. But now I see that maybe he was right.

So I went and got the car and doubleparked in front of the door, and Cello carried it back out to the car for me, and I drove home, and Bob carried it into the house and I plugged it in, and it worked perfectly.

I have no idea what was wrong with it, or why it spontaneously healed itself. Cello said maybe it was his Mac mojo. The guy at the Apple store said maybe it was just his magic touch. David said maybe it was the prospect of an internal examination that scared it into cooperating. Whatever it was. it's perfectly fine now. I used it all weekend with absolutely no problems.

I'm very happy to have it back! It's much easier to do actual work at the desktop -- I like sitting with the iBook (and a cat) in my lap, too, but the trackball and larger keyboard makes it easier when I really need to do some programming, or work in Photoshop. And that means I can play my Sims, too! I have the game on the iBook, too, but the last time I tried to play it, the display kind of freaked out--I think I don't have enough memory on the laptop. I talked to the guy at the Apple store about that, too (memory), and I'll probably take the laptop in there soon and have them put in some more memory.

So, at last, some good news!

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Trapped like rats

Last night I was walking past the dining room and saw flashing lights and movement in front of the house. My first thought was that it was the police or fire department. I called up to Bob, "What's going on in the front of the house," as I went to peek out the blinds. He said, "Probably the road crew," and I saw that it was -- it was some kind of big truck with a flashing light on top that was driving slowly down the street, and just as I looked out, a man walked up to the front door and hung something on the doorknob.

They had resurfaced one side of the street yesterday, so they were coming back to tell us that they were going to resurface the other side (our side) today, and not to park on the street or drive on it from 8:00 this morning to 6:00 tonight.

I was just glad that I had noticed them; if I hadn't, we wouldn't have known and could theoretically have been trapped! Like rats!

We had gotten a letter earlier in the summer that they were going to be doing the work, and that they would give us advance warning so that we could move our cars out of the neighborhood; I don't really think 9:00 the night before could be considered "advance warning," but oh well.

I normally leave the house around 8:30, but I got going this morning early, and left about 7:55. Bob had already left, and when I walked past his office I saw his cell phone plugged in beside his chair. It was a dilemma -- do I leave it there? Do I take it with me? I couldn't exactly call him to ask. I was thinking, if I knew where he was, I could take it to him, but all I knew was that he was going to the bank, then he said he would probably go to Quik Trip, but I didn't have any confidence that I could find him. I knew he was playing golf in the afternoon.

So I left it there, and drove to work, and it wasn't until later that I realized that it wasn't like the street was quarantined -- he could park off the street and walk to the house.

Which he did, as I found out later when he called at around 11:00 to tell me that they hadn't started working on the street yet! So I coud have slept in. I wonder now if they'll even do anything today; we may have to go through the whole thing again tomorrow. Oh well. Not that big a deal.

It rained on me a little as I was driving to work, so I suppose rain might keep them from being able to do the work.

When I turned on the windshield wipers this morning, I looked up and saw that I have a crack in my windshield! My poor car. I washed the car on Sunday, so I know it wasn't cracked then; I guess it could have been dinged, and then the crack spread with the temperature change . . . All I know is, it's cracked. I need to call the insurance company and find out what to do. It's big enough that I imagine they'll have to replace the whole windshield. I'm not looking forward to that.

As I mentioned before, since I'm in between audio books, Los Lonely Boys are getting me to work in the morning. During the day, if I need to concentrate and there are too many things going on in the office, I put my headphones on. This week I've been listening to Adam Ant's album, Wonderful.

Driving home in the evenings, I don't need quite the level of energy that I need in the mornings, so I tend to listen to something quieter. Lately it's been Lowen & Navarro. Eric Lowen was recently diagnosed with ALS ("Lou Gehrig's Disease"), which he talks about in this article. It's things like this that really put your own problems in perspective.

I'm working on a lot of medical stuff at work now, and one of the guys who's helping me with it came in this morning to get a new article to work on. It happened to be one about rheumatoid arthritis, and we marveled at the pictures of the advanced disease and expressed hope that something like that would never happen to us. I don't think it will, but you never know.

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The right tool for the right job

Last night was, um, interesting.

At about 9:30, Bob suddenly got worried about the build-up of lint in the dryer--the lint that you can't get to by cleaning the lint filter. I bet you didn't know that there was other lint, did you? I didn't. He thought it might be keeping the dryer from working well; he said that there is a special tool, something like a bottle brush, that you can use to snake down into the dryer and pull out the lint.

We don't have one of those tools, however, of course, so he tried to use a spatula.

Which he dropped. Into the dryer, down in the hole where you stick the lint filter.

I suppose if we were talking about something like a toaster, he could have picked it up and shook it, and the spatula would have fallen out. However, we're talking about something just a little too large to pick up and shake. He actually handled it very well. I stayed out of the way except when he called me to come hold something, and I heard very little cursing. He just pretty calmly took the whole dryer apart until he could get to the spatula (which he subsequently flung across the room).

While the dryer was pulled out of the alcove, with the front of it taken off, and all the insides exposed, he went upstairs for something, and I heard some kind of a noise, like something hitting something metallic. I went out to investsigate, and didn't see anything untoward, although, as I said, the front of the dryer was off.

I peered inside, thinking maybe that one of the cats was exploring in there; there wasn't a lot of room, but I could easily see one of them getting inside (after all, Pyewacket once crawled into an open trash bag and got taken out to the curb, so anything's possible).

I could see Pyewacket in the living room, so if anyone was in the dryer, it was Dinah, so I just made a mental note to mention it before Bob put the front back on the dryer. When he came back downstairs, he had the same thought, apparently, because he said, "Where's Dinah?" I said I didn't know, and he said he just wondered whether she might be inside the dryer, and then we heard her cry.

"Dinah?" he said, and she answered, but we couldn't tell from where. "Dinah? Where are you?" Another cry. He said to me, "Call her," and I went out in the hall, but before I could say anything, he said, "She's up there," and pointed to the laundry room cabinet. The one above the washer. The "metallic" sound I'd heard must have been Dinah jumping up to the top of the cabinet from the washer.

She's done it before, but always before the dryer was there, too, and she could jump down onto the dryer. Now, though, there was nothing but empty space, and she didn't know what to do. She crawled out onto the clothesrod and stood there, but was unsteady, so she backed up back onto the top of the cabinet. I stepped into the laundry alcove and reached up to her, trying to get her to come down to me, but she wouldn't, and frankly, it's probably good that she didn't, because what was I going to do? Catch her in mid-air? Without losing an eye? Unlikely.

She kept crying piteously, obviously scared and unable to get down on her own (without breaking a leg), so Bob went and got an ottoman, and I stood on that and reached up and grabbed her and hauled her down. She immediately started purring.

By the time Bob got the dryer back together and put back in place, it was nearly midnight, and he was hungry. We made a midnight run to Taco Bell, the only place we could think of that would be open. Not your typical Saturday night, although with us, anything could happen.

Over the weekend I got the most wonderful box in the mail from Liora -- bubble bath, a back scratcher/massager, a couple of bottles of nail polish (purple and orangy-red), two books ("The Memory Keeper's Daughter" and "Shopgirl"), two bracelets with blue wooden beads . . . was that all? I can't remember, there was so much stuff. She sent a lovely card and said it sounded like I needed a little pick-me-up, and boy, did she provide it!

I tried out the bubble bath last night--Strawberry Margarita. Lovely.

I keep forgetting to mention that two author websites that I designed and built have gone live in the past month or so, one for Karyn Witmer (aka Elizabeth Grayson):

And the other for Suzanne MacPherson:

A couple of gratuitous cat pictures:

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

But I'm not gay!

I heard (I guess I should say overheard) an interesting conversation at the beauty salon this morning. I went in to get my hair colored and cut, and while I was getting it cut, there was a guy sitting in the chair next to me having his hair cut. I didn't hear the first part of the conversation, because it apparently took place over at the shampoo station, but from what I heard, I deduced that he'd been out the previous night and some guy had hit on him. He was saying to the (gay) hairdresser, "But I'm not gay!"

He was saying that it wasn't the first time it had happened, and he didn't know why. He said he'd asked his sister, because she "knew a lot of gay guys" -- unfortunately, I didn't hear what his sister said. The hairdresser said, well, you're self-assured, and confident, and they feel comfortable approaching you -- which didn't make any sense at ALL to me. Just from his looks (and I know that's a snap judgement), I would have thought he was probably gay, too.

He was slender, wearing jeans and a tight black t-shirt, and when he spoke to the hairdresser, he leaned over close to him and covered his mouth with his hand and practically whispered in his ear.

He said to the hairdresser, "Did you think I was gay when you met me?" and the hairdresser said, "No, but I wished you were!" and they laughed, and I thought, yeah, right, you're not gay.

A few weeks ago I bought some instant green tea in individual servings (the ones that you pour into bottled water and shake up) at Target because they were on the clearance aisle. I thought it looked kind of intriguing, but frankly I was a little afraid to try it, so it just stayed up in the cabinet. I finally tried it, and I love it! It's Lipton Green Tea To Go -- I like the Mango Mandarin and the Cherry Blossom; I haven't tried the Lemon and Honey flavor. (I was afraid that it was on clearance because they'd stopped making it, which would be just my luck, but apparently it was because they've changed the box.)

I'm usually not crazy about iced tea, and I really don't like instant tea, but this is very light, slightly sweet, and really nice. I've been drinking a lot of it. Target had it on sale this weekend -- $1.99/box of ten, which probably isn't that great a deal if compared to brewing tea with a teabag, but not bad if you take the convenience factor into account.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


At the gym last night I was walking on the treadmill and watching House; the woman on the treadmill next to me was watching Fear Factor, or that's what I assume it was. I was trying desperately not to look over at it. That's a hard thing to do, though. It's like telling someone not to think of an elephant--you just really can't help it. And I normally look around anyway, of course, just to see what's going on, particularly during commercials.

Not last night, though. I kept my eyes firmly on the television in front of me. How can people watch stuff like that? Why do they want to? It's a complete mystery to me; I'll never understand it. I don't even want to know about it.

Although I don't watch reality tv (except for What Not to Wear, which doesn't really count), I can sort of understand the trainwreck factor of some of them. They embarrass me and make me feel uncomfortable for the most part, and some of them are so stupid that if I happen across one, I turn it off in disgust, but Fear Factor takes disgust to a whole new level. How can that be enjoyable? Anyway . . .

And yes, I know that House can be disgusting sometimes, too, but it's in small increments, and I can look away (although not last night!). And of course, it's not that I really even care about the medical parts of it, strangely; it's the human relationships that interest me (I imagine that's a woman thing).

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


My drive to work now is so stressful.

Until last week I could just get on the highway, point the car north, and it was a straight shot all the way until I got off a couple of blocks from the office. Now I have to drive on three different highways, merge, change lanes, cross the river twice on scary bridges, figure out which lanes are exit only when I don't want to exit, and which ones aren't exit lanes when I do want to . . . And it's through a major industrial area, so even though there isn't a lot of traffic, what traffic there is is made up of huge trucks and cement mixers and tankers and all kinds of big equipment.

I'm sure in a week or two it'll be second nature and I won't even have to think about it, but right now I'm not enjoying it at all, to say the least. And the bridges! It's not as bad as it could be, these aren't the big suspension bridges that really scare me, these are big, but I can get into a center lane and try not to think about it or look around too much, and I'm okay.

I don't know what it is, exactly. I know, like most phobias, it's irrational. It's not a fear that the bridge is going to collapse, it feels more like I'm afraid that I'll suddenly spin the wheel and drive off the edge, lose control.

I guess I'm not the only one: Bridge Phobia

Gephyrophobia: An abnormal and persistent fear of crossing bridges. Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. Their fear may result partly from the fear of enclosure (claustrophobia) or the fear of heights (acrophobia). Phobic drivers may worry about being in an accident in busy traffic or losing control of their vehicles. High bridges over waterways and gorges can be especially intimidating, as can be very long or very narrow bridges.

Later . . .

I wrote that, I think, on Sunday night. On Monday, having finished my latest audio book and without anything else to start listening to, I filled up the car's CD changer with music. I merged onto the highway and hit the "play" button, and the first notes of Los Lonely Boys' Seniorita filled the air. That song just makes me grin, and I turned it up loud and sang along, and it really made me happy.

I'm not saying that my palms didn't start sweating when I saw that big scary bridge coming up--they did--but it wasn't as bad as I expected. I'll get used to it.

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