Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blue Moon

I just realized that the full moon tonight is a blue moon (the second full moon occurring in the same calendar month), so, you know, anything that only happens once in a blue moon could, theoretically, have happened today! (Like me writing a journal entry!)

Blogger has made a change to their text editor where "Now Blogger saves your drafts automatically!" (Exclamation point theirs.) So every couple of minutes it saves, and if you happen to be typing HTML, and it catches you in the middle of typing a tag, you'll get a n excited error message on the order of, "Your HTML cannot be accepted due to a broken tag!" You would think they would have taken that into consideration.

I've discovered over the last couple of years that one of the things that contributes to my overall feeling of happiness or unhappiness is whether or not I have a good book that I'm reading, and a good audio book to listen to in the car. Sometimes I do get into moods where I just want to listen to music and sing along while I drive to work, but I'm seldom in that kind of a mood on the way home; the drive home really needs an audio book.

Right now I'm reading The Highly Effective Detective, by Richard Yancey. I picked it up off the "new books" shelf at the library a couple of weeks ago, and just started it last night. It's about a man who receives a small inheritance when his mother dies, and uses the money to realize his life-long dream of becoming a private detective.

He rents an office, buys furniture, and hires a coffee shop waitress as his secretary, then sits back and waits for the clients to show up. One finally does -- a man who witnessed a hit-and-run accident where a big SUV ran over a family of goslings. He takes the case seriously, and (according to the jacket copy) it turns out to be a bigger case than he counted on. I'm not very far into it, but I'm really enjoying it so far.

In some ways, it reminds me of the last audio book I listened to, Traveler, by Ron McLarty. Mr. McLarty reads the book himself. Normally I stay away from books read by their authors, but McLarty is a character actor, and a wonderful reader. I listened to his first book, The Memory of Running, a few months ago, and it was just wonderful.

McLarty has a knack for creating the "everyman" character; it's almost like nothing much really happens in the books, but they're such wonderful character studies that you really don't notice. This one did have a mystery in it. It's about a New York smalltime actor/sometime bartender who gets a call that an old childhood friend has died. He goes back to his hometown and talks with old friends, visits his childhood haunts, and reminisces. Along the way he discovers that his friend's death wasn't entirely natural, and he becomes a sort of detective, eventually finding out the truth.

The title, "Traveler," refers to a bullet that had been lodged in his friend for about forty years; it also, I think, refers to the protagonist's journey back to his hometown and, ultimately, to his childhood.

Both books are excellent. "The Memory of Running" is also about a man dealing with the death of a loved one. In this story, the parents of an overweight, chainsmoking factory worker are killed in an automobile accident, and he finds out that his mentally ill sister has also died, in California. He decides, on the spur of the moment, to ride a bicycle across the country to claim her body and find out what happened to her.

There are flashbacks in this book as well, to his childhood--I don't normally like that kind of thing, but here it's done so effortlessly that I enjoyed it tremendously. McLarty's characters were referred to in a review as "big hearted, warm, and mournful," and that's a pretty apt description. More or less a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people who, in some ways, transcend that ordinariness and become larger than life.

The book I'm listening to now is John Sandford's latest, Invisible Prey. I always enjoy Richard Ferrone's reading of Sandford's work, and I expect to enjoy this one over the next week or so. It's one of a long series, and while I read several of the first ones, I think I've listened to all of them. I find that I actually pick up a lot more of a book when I listen to it. I tend to skim, I think, when I read, so a lot of times I'll buy or rent an audio book even if I've already read the book. It's an entirely different experience.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Trapped like a rat!

Dave went out to lunch yesterday, and he left Jojo with me. I told him he could shut the door, but he said he'd just block it with a chair. I've got this green plastic chair in my office, and he drug it over and put it in the doorway. I said, "She can just walk right out under it!" and he said, "She won't."

And she didn't. She tried really hard to figure it out, but she never did. I guess maybe dogs don't really crouch down and creep under things, or at least she doesn't. Or maybe as sweet as she is, she just isn't the sharpest dog in the pack.

Assessing the situation:

I'm so cute! Won't you please let me out?

Trying to figure it out:

I give up!

I love it when the dogs hang out with me. Simon is pretty much attached to Dave at the hip, and if Dave's out, Simon just lies under his desk and sighs mournfully. Jojo's bereft when he's gone, too, but when he's there and all's right with the world, she's much more gregarious. She'll pick up one of her toys or a bone and walk around and visit everyone. She brought a rope toy in the other day, and wanted to play tug-of-war with me.

She's an awfully sweet dog.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Photo Shoot

Liora left a comment the other day about buying semi-precious stones, and how I wanted to be sure to have a record of what I was buying. I took some pictures of my organizational system, and though I'd post them. I know probably Stefani would be interested. :) (Click each picture for a larger version.)

I have five clear plastic storage boxes that I bought at the craft store. I bought mine at Michael's, but all the craft stores have similar ones. I like these because the bottoms of the compartments are rounded rather than square, which makes it easier to get the beads out.

I have one that is filled with only semi-precious stones:

One has mostly metal beads, and some crystals:

This one is mostly glass:

This one is a lot of miscellaneous stuff -- some metal, some stones, some glass, some vintage plastic:

This one has some stones, but is mostly charms and findings (ear wires, headpins and eyepins, jump rings, etc.:

This small box holds twelve different colors of seed beads, each in their own little screw-top container:

Sometimes I work at the dining room table, but I usually work at my desk. I stack the bead boxes on the ottoman underneath.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Checking in

Someone wrote to check on me the other day, saying she hoped I was okay since I hadn't written in awhile. We exchanged a couple of emails, and we finally figured out that because of my site move--Bloglines or whatever RSS reader she was using--wasn't picking up any new entries. I had changed the file path for uploading entries, but hadn't changed the path to the RSS feed. That's changed now, so hopefully everything is working once again.

Tealeaves was broken for a different reason -- I wasn't able to get the CGI script working, and technical support at the new hosting company weren't of any help, so rather than just leave it shut down until I had time to either figure out the CGI or re-program it using something different, I redirected it to the mirror on David's site.

I think everything else is working (fingers crossed).

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another lovely weekend

Well, at least I wasn't throwing up this weekend, but it wasn't one of my better ones, nonetheless.

I guess Saturday was pretty much okay, just my normal errand running. In fact, now that I think about it, Saturday was good, because I went back to bed after Bob went to work, and slept a couple more hours, which is always nice. Then I went out, and it was sunny and nice, so that was good.

Sunday, though, was stormy. Thunder and lightning and a LOT of rain. I stayed in and did some housework, messed around on the computer, and kept the television on so I could hear if we had a tornado warning. They kept announcing flash flood warnings, but that was about it -- not something that we really need to worry about, although flash floods in the basement are always a possibility.

It must have been around 4:30 or 5:00 that I decided to go out. I had a package that I needed to mail, and I wanted to get a couple of things at the grocery store, so I braved it. By that time the heavy rain had slowed down, and it was just sprinkling. I got to the post office, went in and mailed my package using the automated self-service station, but when I came out it started to rain hard again.

I hurried to the car, kind of bent over (as if that would keep me from getting wet), and as I approached the car I apparently tried to get in it before the door was open all the way, because I pulled open the door and WHACKED my head with it. Very smooth. The pointy corner of the car door hit me on the forehead right above my eyebrow. I can't say that I actually "saw stars," but it really hurt.

It also blew away any inclination to go to the grocery store; I went directly home so that I could put ice on it immediately. I sat around for the rest of the evening with a bag of ice on my head, and was hopeful that I had waylaid a black eye, but no such luck. The swelling pretty much went down, I don't have much of a lump, but I've got a beauty of a shiner. I wake up every morning anticipating what colors I'm going to see -- I look like a kid took a Magic Marker to my face.

At our Monday morning staff meeting, we go around the table and do show-and-tell about our weekends, so I started mine off with, "I guess I should explain about my black eye . . ."

And then, that evening, I did laundry. Bob has to wear special shirts to work, they're dark green and gave the store patch on them. He can wear either dark denim jeans or khakis or khaki shorts. I washed a load of the shirts with a couple of pairs of his jeans, and when I took them out of the washer to put them in the dryer, saw the parts of an ink pen in the bottom of the washer. Wonderful. This wasn't the first time I'd washed a pen, but I think it might be the first time I've washed a red pen.

I'd checked his pockets, but obviously not well enough. I'm not sure how I missed it, but his shirt pockets are deep, and it was a small pen, so I suppose it could have been lying horizontally in the bottom of one of them. In any event, I missed it. He'd been doing a good job of checking his pockets, too, so I think I'd gotten a bit blasé about it. But it gets better -- in addition to the red pen, I washed a pack of gum. Which wouldn't have been too bad, except I didn't notice it until I checked on the load in the dryer.

Wet gum wouldn't have been too awful; wet gum that had been tumbled in a hot dryer: not so much.

This is the second time we've washed gum. It melts, of course, and then collects fibers from the clothing, and spreads all over the clothes and the inside of the drum. So I had to take the clothes out and scrub gum out of the dryer (much of it having picked up the red ink from the pen). I was afraid that all of his shirts were ruined -- they all had either red stains from the ink or patches of gum. But I pre-treated them with Spray-n-Wash really well, put them back in the washer and hoped, and they came out pretty well. I got the gum out; a couple of them still have small ink stains, but they don't show too bad.

Bob had called in the evening before I did the second wash, and I related the events to him, and apologized and said that I would buy him some new shirts. He said it wasn't my fault -- although I felt like it was, since I was the last person to handle the clothes. Yes, he should check his pockets when he takes his stuff off, but I should check, too, before I wash it. Equally guilty, I suppose.

So I was very glad that I was able to salvage his shirts and wouldn't have to buy him any new ones.

Then, yesterday morning, he called me and asked me where the iron was. I asked him what he was going to iron, and he said he was going to iron patches on his shirt. Now, this had been my job -- he had patches indicating that he had been through training that were supposed to be put on his shirts, but I'd tried ironing one of them on and wasn't successful, and had ended up sewing it on, and the patches are really stiff, and it was a difficult job, so I had only done one. I'd had it on my list for weeks, but just hadn't done it yet.

So I felt guilty about that. I told him that I didn't think he could iron them on, that I'd have to sew them on, but he said that other people had done it, so he was going to try.

I called him later to see how it was going, and he said he had been able to iron them on -- I had apparently not been rigorous enough with the iron -- but the problem was placement . . .

In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to baste them on before ironing. Getting a patch on the arm of a shirt and placing it correctly isn't exactly easy, which Bob found out. In fact, even though I saved his shirts in the laundry, he ended up having to buy a few new ones yesterday due to operator error in patch placement . . .

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Interesting times

I got notice last week that the company that's been hosting my website for the past several years has decided to stop offering shared hosting plans and instead concentrate on dedicated hosting. I can't really complain, since they'd been hosting me for free as a favor to my company since we had been sending a lot of customers to them. But still, it was something I didn't really want to mess with.

I didn't actually have to move for about 60 days, but I decided to go ahead and do it and get it over with. I downloaded the entire site, then uploaded it to the new host over the weekend, and I switched the DNS today. I have a lot of experience in setting up website hosting, but something is happening here that I've never seen before. If you type in just, it goes to the new server, if you type in, it's still going to the old one. However, I can't get to my email on the old server, and my mail is now being delivered to the new hosting company.

I lost all the mail that I had read today using the old webmail application, but I don't think there was anything there that I hadn't dealt with; I don't know, however, whether anything fell through (or is still falling through) the cracks during this interim period. If anyone sent me anything that they think I should have responded to, you might try sending it again, or wait a day or two. Or just leave me a comment here. Things should shake out by the end of the week, hopefully.

There was good news and bad news over the weekend -- the bad news was that I got food poisoning and hadn't done any laundry over the weekend, so I didn't have any jeans clean. The good news was that I got food poisoning and lost enough water weight that I could fit into my skinnier jeans so I had something to wear to work Monday . . .

I don't actually know if it was food poisoning or not, it may have been a 24-hour virus or something. Whatever it was, it was vicious. On Monday morning Bob asked me what time I eventually stopped throwing up and was able to sleep, and I said it must have been around 3:00 a.m. He apologized, and said he was sorry that he went to sleep. I told him it was okay, I was just lying on the bathroom floor moaning, there wasn't anything he could have done. Of course, you don't really want anyone hovering over you anyway when you're that sick, and if I had needed him, I certainly would have woken him up.

Earlier, he had brought me Gatorade, and he would come in and check on my every once in awhile. Usually I try to sleep through something like that, but I didn't have much luck.

I feel fine now, just sore, and wary of eating anything except the most basic, bland stuff.

I probably should have stayed home on Monday, but I had already made plans to be off on Tuesday. I usually try to make my yearly ob-gyn appointment and my annual mammogram appointment on the same day so that I don't have to take off twice, and that's what I did this year. I figured I needed the rest of the day for mental health after doing all of that anyway. I took myself out to lunch and sat and read for awhile, then went to a couple of bead stores.

One of them struck me as kind of odd. They had a lot of beautiful stuff, and I browsed for a long time. I've been concentrating on Bali silver and semi-precious stones, and they had a lot of nice ones. I've found that most bead stores will have baskets of little ziplock plastic bags and Sharpie markers; if you find something you want, you put it into the little bag, and mark the price on it.

I found several things that I wanted, so I went up to the counter and asked if they had any little bags, and they looked at me like I was nuts. I said that I wanted to keep the stones separated. They said, oh, use a beadboard, and I said, oh, um, okay. they also said to write down whatever you want to buy on a sheet of paper--they gave me a little clipboard. A bead board is a plastic tray with a few compartments, maybe four or five separate places. It's used for laying out necklace designs, and has circular grooves. Not really appropriate for what I wanted, but oh well.

I picked out a few beads of Leopardskin Jasper, some Rhyolite, some agate -- I don't remember what all, but probably three or four different kinds of stones, plus a few silver beads.

As I was doing this, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to remember what was what, so I kept a separate list for myself of what I was buying, and tryed to write down things that would help me remember what was what -- 5 - 6mm Leopardskin Jasper beads, 10 Moss Agate Ovals, 6 - 8MM Honey Jade . . .

When I got up to the counter and put down my board and handed them the list, the woman behind the counter started counting and ringing things up, and the other clerk started picking the beads up and was going to put them all into one bag. I stopped him, and asked if he could keep the different kinds separated like I had kept them separate on the board, and again, I was looked at like I was nuts.

I don't know, maybe other people who buy stones just buy them for what they look like and don't care what they are, but I definitely care what they are. There isn't a lot of difference in the appearance of, for instance, Rhyolite and Leopard Jasper, and if they were mixed up, I probably couldn't pick them out with any certainty, but it's important to me to know what they are, what their names are, so I can look them up later.

It seems weird to me that someone would buy a bunch of stones and not know what they are, but that must be the case. Once again, I'm the oddball.

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