Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Last night was strange. I got home and pulled into the driveway, and hit the electric garage door opener, but it wouldn't open. I thought maybe the battery was getting weak, so I tried it again, and then I held it up to the windshield and pushed it, but no luck. So either the batteries were too weak, or the door was broken. So I parked in front of the garage door and walked around the house to let myself in the front door, and hopefully open the garage from the inside.

When I opened up the front door, I reached in to turn on the light, but it wouldn't come on. The house was completely dark. I thought, aha, the power is out. We had had a pretty severe storm early in the day, so that made sense. So I walked back out to the car and got my computer and purse, locked the car, and came back inside the house. As I walked up to the house, I looked around, and it looked like there were lights in other houses, so it wasn't a neighborhood-wide power outage, anyway.

I knew where a flashlight was--on the table in the living room where Bob drops his keys--so I got that and looked around. The clock on the coffeemaker was on, and the clock on the microwave, and I opened up the refrigerator, and it was on, too. But no lights. I thought I might as well go down in the basement and try flipping the breakers, and as I started down the stairs, I tried the light just for kicks, and it came on. Hm. So I came back into the main part of the house and tried the lights there, and nothing came on.

Okay, so I had power in the basement, and some things were working in the house, but no lights. I went upstairs--we had power upstairs, the lights came on, no problem. So there was power in the basement, and power on the second floor, but nothing on the main floor. Or, no lights. Since it seemed so random, I went around and tried things, and the lamp by my chair where I normally sit came on. But that was the only light on the first floor that would come on.

I called my dad--Bob was working late--and asked him if there was anything I could do besides flip the breakers, and he said to look for a reset button on an outlet somewhere. He also suggested I call Bob's dad and ask him, since he had built the house, so I called him, and he said to try flipping the breakers, and also there should be a GFI (ground fault interrupter--I looked it up) somewhere in the house and I should try resetting that. I knew there was one on the first floor half bath.

I took my flashlight into the bathroom and tried pressing the reset button, but nothing happened. I pressed it a few times, then gave up, and went down to the basement--nice now that the lights were on--and flipped all the breakers, but nothing happene there, either.

So I sat down in my chair by the one light on the first floor and read until Bob got home. He had called to say he was on his way, so I told him what was going on, and when he got home he tried all the things that I had tried with the same result, nothing.

Bob said that he thought maybe the GFI had shorted out, so he was going to try replacing it, but by then it was about 10:00, and too late to go buy one. We were standing in the kitchen talking, thinking about what to do, and I was saying how odd it seemed that the coffeemaker, microwave, and refrigerator were all working, and I just idly turned the knob on the electric stove to see if it was working, too, and the lights came on. Um. Okay. I turned the stove off, and the lights went off. I turned it back on, and the lights came on.

Not really a long term solution, but interesting. Bob went back in the bathroom to try the GFI, and it worked now, and the lights stayed on, without having to turn the stove on. There was still something weird, though. When I ran the garbage disposal, the kitchen lights flickered; it reminded me of the old Frankenstein movies when Dr. Frankenstein flips the switch on the monster and all the lights flicker and blaze.

Bob was off today, so he bought a new GFI and installed it (and he said he only got a little electrocuted), and now everything seems fine. I don't know whether something got struck by lightning or whether it was just a coincidence, but it was sure weird.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

I can work tomorrow

I stayed late at work last night to finish up some stuff. We normally have a staff meeting on Friday afternoons at 3:00, then everyone starts leaving when the meeting is over. We didn't have a meeting yesterday afternoon, so I used that time to try to get some work done in the quiet, without the telephone interruptions. I usually don't work late when Bob is waiting at home for me, but he went down to the lake this weekend, so it seemed like a good opportunity. By the time I got home it was nearly 8:00. I was looking forward to making a sandwich and sitting down in front of the television for some mindless entertainment, but there was nothing but static on the television.

Frankly, at first I thought I'd hit a wrong button on the remote, I've done that before, so I checked the television upstairs and it was just static, too. And there was no internet connection. So I called the cable company and after some investigation, they said that everything looked fine until about 4:00 Friday afternoon, when we suddenly lost connection.

The guy on the phone asked me if we'd had any yard work done or anything like that, and I said I thought from the chemical smell that they'd fertilized today, but I didn't think they'd mowed the grass. In any event, something had happened, so he said someone would call me today, Saturday, to make an appointment to come out and fix it. He said it might be Monday before they could get out.

Today I was out having lunch at Chipotlé when my phone rang. It was the cable company saying that they could have someone out between 5:00 and 7:00, which was great, since that meant I wouldn't have to stay home from work on Monday. I ran some errands, and got home a little before 5:00. The doorbell rang at about 5:30, and when I answered the door, the guy on the porch said, "Cable Guy!"

He went out back and looked around, and called me to come look. There was a new wire running across the yard that I hadn't seen before; apparently our neighbors had had something done and the wire was running across (and apparently going to be buried in) our yard. After a little more investigation, the cable guy came back to tell me that it looked like another cable company had come in to install cable at our neighbors' house and had simply disconnected everyone else that had cable running through the box behind the houses and just left it that way. The way he described it, they just pulled out all the cable connections--three other households--and connected up theirs.

I said, well, I guess you'll be coming out to repair the others, too, and he said he supposed he would. After he was finished connecting everything back up, and I had checked to be sure the televisions and internet were working, he went back to the truck and got a disposable camera to document the evidence. He said that was so we wouldn't get a bill for the repairs. Hard to imagine that people do stuff like that, but I'm sure it happens all the time.

Since I couldn't watch any television shows, I watched one of my Netflix DVDs -- The Rocker. I liked it. It wasn't a great movie, but certainly enjoyable. The other Netflix DVD I had in the house was M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" about a family fleeing from a deadly virus. I only watched about ten minutes of it before jumping up and turning it off; I don't know, maybe it would have been okay, but the first part of it looked so gruesome that I didn't have any interest in waiting to find out.

I looked through my own DVDs to see if there was anything else I wanted to watch, but decided to take a book up to bed instead.

Today, not knowing if I was going to have television and internet or not, I went to the library and checked out a stack of DVDs:

  • Feast of Love
  • Martian Child
  • P.S. I Love You
  • The Girl in the Café
  • Happy Accidents
  • No Reservations

I have freelance web work I should be doing, but I think I'll go watch a movie and work tomorrow!

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Monday, September 07, 2009


People had recommended Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" novel series to me before; my hairdresser being one. I'd resisted them, mainly because when I read the jacket blurbs they sounded so wacky, and I'm not really a fan of wacky. Or, I don't know, maybe I am, but I think maybe the sounded like the kind of southern-fried wacky that I'm definitely not a fan of. Like Fannie Flagg, maybe, or the cozy mysteries that are just too far off the top, and reading the jacket copy of the Plum series--Grandma Mazur and Lula and Ranger and Diesel--makes them sound awfully silly.

I guess, like anyone, I have my own standards of what kind of things I read, and what I would consider wacky. I'm sure my reading style would be considered very wacky by a lot of people. I like vampire or werewolf novels that don't take themselves too seriously--I love Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse "Southern Vampire" books, and I used to love Laurel K. Hamilton's books until they turned into softcore porn. A recent favorite is Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series. Mercy is a werewolf (actually a "walker") who owns an automobile repair business. Another favorite series is Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" series about Rachel Morgan, a witch who, along with her living-vampire partner Ivy and sidekick Jenks the pixie, runs a private detective service in Cincinnati.

Oh, and Julie Kenner's "Demon Hunting Soccer Mom" series about a woman who gave up her demon hunting vocation to become a suburban mom, but is dragged back into that world again and again. I've also read a couple of Kenner's young adult books, "The Good Ghoul's Guide to Getting Even" and "Good Ghouls Do," both dealing with a teenage vampire and how she deals with her day to day existence.

And I guess I should mention the Twilight series, of course, although really, those are more teen angst than vampire novel, although I confess I still haven't made my way through the first one. I have all four of them on my iPhone in both ebook and audio book form, I just need to get through them . . .

Anyway, Stephanie Plum. It's one of those times when I'm truly happy to never have read a series, because of the run I'm having going through it now. I've been listening to the audio books of the series all summer. I started with "Seven Up" in June, just finished "Finger Lickin' Fifteen," and am currently listening to "Plum Spooky," a "between the Plums" book, all of which have been devoted to specific holidays ("Plum Lovin'" for Valentine's Day, "Plum Lucky" for St. Patrick's Day, and "Visions of Sugar Plums" for Christmas). Being a huge fan of fiction set at Christmas time, I had listened to the Christmas one a year or so ago, and enjoyed it, but just never got into the whole series until now.

Reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I see that a lot of people criticize the novels, saying that they're "all the same." Frankly, I kind of like that. I like the familiarity of the characters, and the comfort of knowing, more or less, what's going to happen. You can be pretty sure that one or more of Stephanie's cars will either catch fire or blow up, that she'll either move in with Joe or move out, that Grandma Mazur will cause a scene at the funeral home, and that Ranger will come to her rescue at least once, and she still won't sleep him.

I still have the first six to read or listen to, but they're not narrated by the same person (Lorelei King), so I'll probably just read them rather than listening. After three months of non-stop Lorelei King as Stephanie Plum, I don't think I could listen to someone else.

I was looking at the Audible.com website tonight and see that Ms. King also narrates the Mercy Thompson books, which was a nice surprise. Maybe I'll spend my next Audible credit on one of them.

Here are the release dates for some of the series books that I'm looking forward to in the coming months:

  • Rough Country - John Sandford - 9/29/09
  • A Touch of Dead - Charlaine Harris - 10/6/09
  • Demon Ex Machina - Julie Kenner - 10/6/09
  • Evidence - Jonathan Kellerman - 10/6/09
  • Nine Dragons - Michael Connelly - 10/13/09
  • Grave Secret - Charlaine Harris - 10/27/09
  • U is for Undertow - Sue Grafton - 12/1/09
  • Black Magic Sanction - Kim Harrison - 2/23/10
  • Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs - 3/30/10
  • Changes - Jim Butcher - 4/6/10

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