Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fussin' and Cussin'

My computer is almost two years old. It's a good computer, I always get the hairiest chested machine I can afford, but it's getting bogged down with the detritus that accumulates with use. I recently upgraded to Netscape 8 and made the mistake of letting its AdWare destroyer scope out my drives. Now I'm getting weird messages at boot up. Dang!

I just bought myself a new 500 Gig hard drive for a killer price. I have a 21 inch monitor that I've never used (I got it right before the first flood last summer kicked me out of my office and I don't have enough space for it where I'm set up now.) The Engineer gave me a Mac mini,
http://www.apple.com/macmini/, for Christmas then squirreled it away someplace for safe keeping.

(Okay, here's a little of the fussin' mentioned in the title of this blog: Why does the Engineer hide my presents? It doesn't make sense to me. Christmas a year ago it was a hot little Shimano reel my niece gave me. Have I seen it since Christmas of 2005? Nope. He put it "someplace safe" for me. Same with a set of towels and some flatware from this past Christmas. Safely put away. Will I ever see them again? Who knows. He says when the construction on the house is finished, but at the rate it's going, I'll be lucky to get to play with my presents in the nursing home.)

Now back to the main topic, my computer.

Even though I'm not back in my office yet, and have no idea as to when I might be, I've about come to the point I have to do something drastic with my computer. With all this lovely new hardware I have, I should be in Nerd Nirvana, but I have no space to tear into my machine and rebuild it. I think I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm going to install that honking big hard drive, reformat my existing hard drive, partition them both to suit my fancy and reinstall all my software. Then I'm going to twist my Beloved's arm until he ponies up my Mac mini, dig the KVM switch out from under the bed and have at it.

Why now? The Engineer's headed out of town for a full week, and I prefer to do this when he isn't around. He doesn't like the way I work.

I suppose I've had bad influences throughout my life. When I was in high school, my boyfriend and I would go bowling occasionally. Every time he released the ball, he would begin to cuss. He would continue emitting the blue streak until the ball hit the pins. He said it helped knock them down. Seemed to work pretty well. I also worked for several years for a plumber -- I know 200 words for doo-doo. His guys thought cussin' helped get the job done. Seemed to work for them too.

I do my best work in the evening hours which is when the Engineer wants to be fed and wants attention. He also gets distraught if he hears me cussing away as I work. And since we are currently living in one room, he's gunna hear me, and I sure as heck am gunna be cussing while I reinstall software. He doesn't understand that it's an essential part of putting together a new system. How is the PC to know I'm serious if I don't cuss it severely? Macs, of course, being more user friendly, do not require ferocious cussing, so I will have to watch my language around the new mini. It will be the last component to go on, though, so as long as the KVM switch works as advertised, I shouldn't need to use foul language.
There you have my pre-excuse, my, "Gee, the dog's looking pretty hungry," explanation for my possible silence for a few days.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Rose Garden Tonight






"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."
-- Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The "Well, duh!" Epiphany

They say Archimedes was the father of "Eureka!"

What could be more wonderful than a Eureka moment? After struggling with a problem, beating your head against that proverbial wall, suddenly a pellucid light shines upon you, choirs of angels sing hallelujah and the solution is there, full blown and complete.

And you feel brilliant.

Unfortunately, my epiphanies are more often of the "Well, duh!" type. The kind of realization that would make my mother say to me, "If it was a snake it would have bitten you." Or, to use another old saw, "As plain as the nose on your face." When the solution to your problem finally clubs you over the head and you realize you should have seen it all along.

"Well, duh!"

I've had a few too many of those moments lately.

My computer monitor has been getting weird, transient color shifts up at the top of the monitor. Couldn't figure out what the heck was causing them. Until just now when Kitsu was standing by my keyboard and leaned against the monitor. The magnetic cat door key on her collar clonked against the monitor screen and that area of the screen turned green.

Well, duh! Kitsu loves to sleep on top of the monitor. When she hangs her head over the edge to see what I'm doing... color shift.


I got a really comfy new bra, nice cotton knit instead of slickery nylon. Wore it for quite a while before I noticed that my tops were fitting funny, tending to climb up and make a roll over my boobs. It didn't do it when I wore a shiny silk top, though.

Well, duh! Nice comfy cotton knit bra and nice comfy cotton knit turtleneck top cling together, they don't slide over each other.

I was laid up for most of last week with a strained neck. The pain was incredible, I could hardly move. I couldn't lay down because the weight of my head was to much for my neck unless the head was carefully balance directly on top. I couldn't eat because if I tried to chew my jaw muscles went into spasms. The right side of my face was so swollen I looked like a greedy chipmunk. I had to drop the cat food onto the floor because I couldn't bend over. I sure as heck couldn't drive because I couldn't turn my head at all.

This wasn't the first time lately that my neck had given me fits. The day before the skiers arrived I'd had a sore neck too, though nowhere near as bad. It lasted for about three days before departing and was just a pain in the neck, not crippling. This kind of thing had never happened to me before.


I had no idea what was going on. Yes, my posture at my jerry-rigged computer desk is abysmal. Yes, I cling to the edge of the bed and jam my head against the headboard when I sleep (the Engineer's a bed hog.) Neither was anything new. True, I'd slipped on a flight of stairs and caught myself with a sharp jerk on the hand rail, But still, this horrendous pain was all out of proportion.

What was different?

Of course my Engineer was out of town. I finally called a cab and went to a clinic and begged for drugs. Got codeine and a muscle relaxant. After not having eaten for a couple of days, to say that taking them made me a little goofy would be a major understatement. But the drugs got me over the hump, in a few days I could lie down again instead of sleeping sitting up in my recliner. (Talk about a relief!)

Monday I had a follow up appointment with my regular doctor. He had put me on a hypertensive/diuretic combination because he felt my blood pressure was a bit too high (well, duh, like the past eight months of house disasters wouldn't drive anyone's blood pressure up, at least I wasn't beating on people or inanimate objects with my baseball bat.)

So my doctor asked, "Have you experienced any side effect?"

Me, "I don't think so. What kind of side effects might the drug produce?"

Dr. B., "Dizziness, muscle cramps..."

Well, duh! Or as Dr. B. said, "Don't take that drug any more."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Eating Weird Stuff

My BelovedEngineer accuses me of having no sense of adventure when it comes to food. Not so, I may not like pickled eels, but at least I tried them. I may prefer my grape juice unspoiled and inexpensive rather than in high dollar wine bottles, but I've tried wine. I will admit to never having tried sauerkraut -- how can anyone get that nasty stuff close enough to their nose to put it into their mouth?

I have eaten plenty of weird things in my life. Grass, of course. What kid hasn't tried grass. The little soft area at the base when you pull a segment out of the lower segment is pretty tasty. When I was really little one of the neighbor kids had a wooden wagon that her dad made for her. It had a little wooden cargo box built onto the back with a stray nail poking up. During crab apple season, we would pull each other around, filling the cargo box with crab apples, then puncturing them and sucking out the sour juice. It was a double contest to see who could suck the most crab apples and make the horriblest face while doing it. Lotsa fun and I imagine we got our day's iron requirement, plus some, from the rusty piercing nail.

I have tried Milk Bones -- not bad, though rather dry. Chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers -- the ants were too sour, but the grasshoppers were a little like a very robust Nestle Crunch bar. I like calamari quite well, especially the crispy little tentacles.

I tried a new food last week. I often do that when I see something strange at the grocery store. This time it was the grain, quinoa. I bought about a cup of it from the bulk food aisle.
qui·noa /'kinw?, ki'no??/
noun -
a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the goosefoot family, cultivated in Peru and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple.

Or, if you'd like more information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa

The seeds in the little plastic bag looked like something a bird would eat, small, round light grayish brown. I decided to go basic and steamed it using two parts water, one part quinoa -- just like rice or oatmeal -- for about 15 minutes.

The quinoa about doubled in size during cooking and became translucent. It also developed what looked like little tails wrapped around the grains. At first munch it had an interesting texture but not much flavor. Eating a little more brought an odd after taste to my attention. I don't think I will eat it again, but it was an interesting thing to try.

My sister has me beat however as far as eating bizarre food goes. She went to the Philippines with Youth for Understanding when she was in high school. Her host family was very proud of her because she was the only American kid who would eat balut.

I looked for a picture of balut. Found quite a few. Decided they were way too gross to post up on my blog. Also found a blog that made my food adventures seem as homey and mundane as granny's rocking chair. Here's the URL for Deep End Dining, it goes straight to their balut page.

http://www.deependdining.com/2005/09/balut-video-rated-sg-sorta-gross.html

Might be a good idea to keep one of those airline barf bags close at hand if you go view this...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Laundry Day

I am down to one clean pair of underwear.

Dang.

The laundry machines await me in the basement. As you might guess from the first sentence, I have no particular love for them. They are an infinity better than going to the laundromat though.

I remember the olden days when I was living in a fourplex in North Carolina. I had no car, just a bike, and I was chronically broke. But I will not now, nor would I then, recycle a pair of underpants. Once I take them off, they're off for good and into the laundry hamper. None of this turning them inside out and wearing them again. (I won't name names, but you know who you are and your ears are turning bright red as you read this.) Same with socks or panty hose -- one wearing, that's all, period, paragraph, end of story.

Which means my laundry frequency is dictated by the number of undies I currently own. (You have your parameters, I have mine.)

I don't have to worry about the Engineer. He has more underwear, socks and shirts than Imelda Marcos had shoes. He could go for a month and not run short. I only have about two weeks worth, so tomorrow it's down to the basement for me.

When I was broke and living in the fourplex, I used to load my laundry into a plastic laundry basket and ride to the laundromat with it balanced on my handlebars. The basket I used had a convenient hole right in the middle of the bottom that fit over the big nut at the top of the handlebars and helped hold it steady.

No matter where I've lived, if I've had to use the laundromat, a particular family has always followed me there. The family consists of Mom, Dad and three kids.

Dad is majorly P.O.'ed that he has to come to the laundromat. He'd rather be watching football and drinking beer, but since they only have one car, he has to chauffeur (crap!) So he slouches in one of those chairs fixed to a rail on the wall. If there's a TV, he turns it to a sports channel and watches, if not, he stares into space growling occasionally.

Mom meanwhile collects all of the carts and sorts her laundry and moves it from washer to extractor to dryer -- why are there NEVER enough dryers at the laundromat? -- ignoring her three kids as she works.

The three kids, an argument for birth control if there ever was one, are in brat heaven. The littlest is about 18 months old and in one of those baby bumper car affairs. You've seen them, the baby sits in a sling seat in the middle of a round ring that's supported by an aluminum framework. It has casters on the bottom so that the baby has full and instant mobility in any direction by running her feet like she was in Fred Flintstone's car. She is not, however, required to use her feet because her big brother and sister (ages 9 and 7) grab on to the back of her baby cart ring and use it as a semi-guided missile. They run at top speed, whooping and hollering, crashing their little sister into anything they can get at (especially the backsides of innocent laundry doers.) Every time they smash into something, the baby shrieks. Loudly. With great glee.

This merriment continues unabated while Mom tries to get the laundry done, occasionally calling to the children to behave themselves. Dad goes outdoors to have a smoke. Then the big sibs shout, "Tunnel!" and try to run the baby under a folding table. Which might have worked had baby sister grasped the concept of ducking...

I won't even try to describe the ensuing carnage. My ears ring from post traumatic shock just thinking about it. It was at that point that I would stuff my clean, but sopping wet, laundry back into my plastic basket and ride for home like all the demons of hell were after me. The water would leak through the hole in the bottom of the basket, dribbling on to the spinning tire and spraying everywhere. But it was clean water and it was silent. When I got home, I would hang my laundry on the line out back and hope it didn't rain before my towels were dry. But even wet towels were better than staying at the laundromat long enough to use the dryer.

I guess I'll go downstairs and throw in a load. Somehow it doesn't seem nearly as onerous now as it did a few minutes ago.

Excuses, excuses...

March is nearly half gone and this is only my second blog entry. Dang! I'd planned to be a more prolific blogger in March than in February (figured more days would give me a leg up on that goal.) I guess I just got thrown off stride with the spring skiers coming.

In addition to The Annual New Year's Skiing House Party, for the last couple of years we have also hosted Spring Skiing in March. Lucked out this year. The weekend they came was the best weekend for skiing of the whole winter, Northern Utah had a cold snap and a wagon load of snow just in time for their enjoyment. They decided to ski high on the hog too: Deer Valley, where the serving lads tote your skis for you and polish your behind if you fall. Not that I've ever experienced any ski resort first hand. I don't ski. I find the thought of strapping two pieces of fiberglass to my feet and hurtling down a mountain at high speed absolutely terrifying. My role during these ski events is support staff. I make the airport runs, keep the living accommodations up to snuff, prepare the food, make reservations for those nights we eat out, etc, etc, etc...

The skiers weren't the disruptive part, not as far as the blogging was concerned. I'm a night time blogger and the skiers tend to collapse in exhaustion after dinner, drinking and maybe a couple of games of cut throat Eucher. Then they get up early in the morning so that they can make first chair on the ski lift. I do not get up with them, I leave them good and nourishing things they can nuke for breakfast -- smoked salmon quiche, home made muffins, breakfast sandwiches, french toast casserole, stuff like that.

This spring, though, just like New Years, the house was (and is and seemingly forever will be) uninhabitable. We are still living in one room (I am typing in the dark with the Engineer snoring like an elephant with colic beside me) with no place to put guests. Okay, I admit, one guy who arrived a day before everyone else got to spend the night on a mattress on the floor of what used to be, and may eventually again be, the dining room. Fortunately Chuck is one of those durable and good natured men whom nothing ruffles, probably why he's been friends with the Engineer and the Engineer's identical twin brother (there's a scary story for another time) for umpteen bizzillion years, despite the twins having tried to kill him several times.

But I'm wandering. This is supposed to be an excuse for not blogging, something a little better than, "The dog ate my homework." So anyway, since the house wasn't livable, I arranged a rental condo in Park City. Three bedrooms, three baths, full kitchen, gas log fireplace, outdoor hot tub, it was pretty cushy. Chuck, of course, ended up sleeping on the sofa. He also got up before dawn two mornings and cooked bacon and eggs for the whole crew. Chuck is a champ.

Anyway (again), the Engineer and I stayed up at the condo with the skiers, but while the skiers were skiing, I traveled down the canyon, back to the house, to take care of the cats and do any necessary errands. But since I do my blogging at night and I was up at the Park City condo nights with no computer, no blogging was done. And since then, I just haven't gotten my you-know-what together until tonight.

And now, since there hasn't been anything the least bit titillating or salacious in this blog entry, here's an entertaining URL:
http://www.trunkmonkey.com/content/view/57/51/

And if you like the Trunk Monkey commercials, just go back to the home page on the above site and you can find the archive of Trunk Monkey videos.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Instinct

Cats are hunters. You can't change it, it's their nature.

Sachi had never really been outside except for in her carrier on her way to or from the vet. I decided she would be a indoor cat when I realized shortly after she came home that she was deaf. She also had a cold and infected eyes. The medication for those problems cleared up her hearing as well. I'm not sure how well she hears now, but, thinking an indoor cat was a safe, long lived cat, I figured she could stay indoors forever.

Don't think it's going to last. She made a break for it last week. Bolted out the door as I was coming in and scampered away when I called her. Fortunately, it had snowed about 6 inches the day before. She looked at the weird white stuff. She sniffed it. She touched it with her paw. Then she tried to walk on it and sank in up to her armpit.

Eeek! Scary! Gross! Wet! Cold! In house good!

I held the door open and she ran right in.

Since then I've taken her out and stuffed her in through the cat door a couple of times so that, in case she does get out, she'll know how to let herself back in. She can't get out through the cat door because she's not wearing a magnetic key like Kitsu (tricky, eh?), but in is available to anyone/anything small enough to fit through the hole and willing to push.

One of her hobbies is a true cat hobby. She sits on the window sill, skulking behind one of the uprights, watching the birds at the suet feeder. Her intensity is frightening. She quivers, she lashes her mighty kitty tail. When she can't hold it in any longer, she utters strange staccato noises and tries to teleport through the glass.

How does she know what birds are? How does she know that she has to catch them and rend them feather from feather?

Instinct. It's amazing. Frightening too.