Archive for January, 2011

A Nightmare Called Thursday!

January 28, 2011

Finally it’s Friday and not a day too soon. I thought I might blog about something other than the nightmare that was Thursday, and leave that mess behind, but then  you’d miss out on the further adventures of the mailbox; the garbage mishap and the computer woes. Now, being the type of blogger that I am, I wouldn’t want you to miss out on that so…

The night before, the recorded message at my trash collecting company said collection on Thursday would go on as scheduled. I dragged my overflowing garbage can to the curb in what had already fallen by 10pm and shoveled out a spot for it to sit level. Well, of course, we woke up to about 14 inches of snow that we had to clean. Remember I posted pics of it yesterday? I did that prior to going outside. The cleaning took about 2 hours, which included having to upright my spilled garbage can; I had called again in the morning and the message said the trucks were running late but pick up would go on a scheduled, and by 9:30 I was all set to get to work and turned on my computer and it wouldn’t accept my log-on password. No matter what I/we tried, it wouldn’t work.  So, outfitted with a bunch of numbers and codes, I braved making the call to customer service.  I’ll spare you how with each failing attempt the guy made being virtually connected to my computer got me sicker and sicker to my stomach and will go right to the part where he suggested wiping the computer clean and starting from scratch as though it were a new computer.

Fast forward to the finale of that mess and when the ether of panic cleared I realized all that I had lost that was still on my computer; pictures, music and other sundry items.  My biggest panic, was the rewrite on my novel’s sequel, but I am happy to report the updates, because I was working on it through my external drive, is still intact. Everything else is thankfully, (and unfortunately) replaceable.  I finally got to work at noon.

I don’t know, they must have imported slush from other counties because at one point, my garbage can had been knocked down and I uprighted it once again. After another hour or so, it had fallen again, this time dumping food and such into the slush in my driveway. But not only that, so had my maibox gotten blown apart. I came to find out that trash collection had been cancelled for the day when I called a third time and a brand new mailbox awaits in my garage to be installed this weekend.

Now, you see all the fun I had yesterday you otherwise wouldn’t have  had I not posted this blog. You’re welcome. Have a great weekend.

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Thursday. Snow. Mailbox?

January 27, 2011

I’m not sure what I’m going to talk about today, but I wanted to post something so I could…talk about forgetting stuff…I have another two pictures, a before and after of the paint job in the kitchen. It took me a while to hunt down the before pic and I actually found it a week or so ago, but something shiny apparently kept distracting me becasue I kept forgetting to put it up. Well, because Ariel needs them for his continuing Powerpoint presentation of the entire shebang from start to finish, I, well, blah, blah, blah.

I know I put up a picture of one kitchen wall but that doesn’t show you the hideousness of what was there. Actually, it wasn’t all that hideous, well, maybe just a little. The concept was good and it worked and the combination was classic… Well, if you’ve been following along since the start of the House Construction Project, you’ve seen green and orange walls in the kitchen. They really looked great together, but for all the time it was there, I was never happy with the orange. Not the color, just the way it covered the wall. It was streaky and blotchy and dark in spots. The only thing is, the before picture is a little compromised because it was taken with my old phone and the “after” with my Droid. I love my Droid. Do you know I can get Sirius satellite radio on it?

 

It’s actually last night that I’m writing this, watching American Idol and peeking every now and then through the window to see if the second onslaught of snow which has the potential of dropping as much as 12 additional inches has yet begun, and to be endlessly paranoid and repetitive, wondering how my mailbox will fare through it all.

You know what’s kind of comical? The way weather people try to mask the nuisance of snow with pretty words; the white stuff, the fluffy stuff, the powdery stuff. Doesn’t make it any less annoying.

And you know what else I found funny? I saw a TV advertisement yesterday hawking a replica of the late Princess Diana’s 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring which now graces the hand of Kate (or Catherine, as the Queen prefers) Middleton since her engagement to Prince William. The replica thing isn’t what strikes me funny, but it’s the tag line in the ad that you can “own a piece of history”.

Okay, so American Idol is over and my favorite of the night was Naima Adedapo who sang “For All We Know” by Donny Hathaway.  And Chris Medina has the all-time most heart-wrenching “tragic” story that American Idol always seems to feature.  From all the stories I’ve ever heard, his brought me to tears. He may not win American Idol, but his death do us part attitude toward his now wheelchair bound fiance proves he’s already a winner.

This just in:  it’s 6:20 am and I finally decided to roll out of bed, knowing the task ahead of me (us) and I’m happy to report that my mailbox is still standing in spite of the 3 foof wall of the white stuff at the foot of my driveway. I can’t say the same for the garbage can that I dragged out at the last minute last night because the recorded message from my trash collecting company said there would be normal service this morning and the garbage gets picked up between 5:30 and 6. So, before I trudge out to move the snow armed with a belly full of hot oatmeal and coffee, let me show you some views around the house. 

  

Looking out my garage door. Those low hanging branches are normally several feet above my head. The view from my front door and of course the patio and that little nub way in the corner is my fire pit which I haven’t seen since the day I put it out there and took pictures the day before Christmas. We have had snow on the ground since December 26 and it’s really getting monotonous. But my mailbox is still standing!

Elementary

January 26, 2011

I don’t know why all of a sudden I keep forgetting details about certain things, like how I forgot to say that we cut down the doors after the carpet went down and how, in the third grade, when we were still being taught how to write in cursive, I was the first person to have Mrs. Albrecht’s permission to use my new skill for my assignments in her class. Just little add-on tidbits I should have included.  Oh, I had such neat handwriting then. Now, it’s more like I write with my feet. I think I’m in too much of a hurry, sometimes I even misspell my own name.

Did you know that too much caffeine can actually cause fatigue? I find that happens sometimes and I can have a cup of coffee near bedtime and sleep like a baby (curled up in the fetal position, blankey securely in hand…..diaper optional!) but if I have a cup of tea, I’m up all night. Is the caffeine different in the two beverages? The reason for the fatigue is that caffeine can act as a diuretic and dehydration can cause tiredness.

This is a slightly old story, maybe week old, but get our your magnifying glasses and get a close up look at this! Anthony Horowitz, the author of stories about teenage spy Alex Rider has been given the green flag to pen the first full length novel concerning Sherlock Holmes since 1915 by the Arthur Conan Doyle estate. No details or even a title have been revealed about the book due to hit the shelves in September. I know of at least one person whose eyes just widened to the size of half dollars at the mere thought of this and has probably already made a note on his phone about it. Right, Ariel?

Okay, well, I have some more house pictures of the second floor revitalization project. Gone are the dingy plain white walls we’ve lived with for the past 12 years in favor of some color and let me tell you, this faux finish kicked our butts. It’s similar to the one we used in the kitchenette, but with a slight twist.  Gone also are the linoleum floors in favor of plush carpeting….sorry Dave! And we kind of rearranged some furniture and artwork and made going upstairs a real pleasure.

   

Starting in the middle room, henceforth known as the Emma room because the bedroom furniture (the bed, night tables, dresser and chifforobe (not in the pictures…hmm) was Grandma’s : from left to right is the corner by the heater and then finished with the fireplace, also Grandma’s (not real) back in it’s place. That closed door leads to the blue room and it should be strung with police barricade tape. Right now that blue room is acting as the attic annex. Enter at your own risk. Then looking over to the closet, unfinished and finished. We fauxed in metallic copper with this awning red and beige.

An extra shot with no “before” just to show some more of the room. I made a discovery about that ceiling light–it has a pull chain that was cut off. We’re going to rechain it after we find a suitable new diffuser for it.

   

Looking out from the Emma Room to the unfinished and finished hallway and then looking from the other end of the hallway. This Precious Emerald was mixed with a metallic gold paint for texture. The gateleg table and the mirror above it were also Grandma’s.

   

The master bedroom before and after. Same old dingy no color walls redone with Blue Ocean and metallic silver. That silver was extremely thin and runny and made quite a mess so it took a second day to tone it down. Note of interest, the TV set in the first picture is approximately 30 years old, between 25 and 30. But we thought the room needed an updated TV. The viney sconces on the wall behind the cabinets were from our room we stayed for many years in Provincetown and were given to us by the former owners when they decided to redecorate the room. Over the bed, is a bric-a-brac cubby that held a bunch of junk and naturally blened in with the rest of the room and then of course finished.

Note to faux finish painters out there…allow TIME. It’s not as easy at it  might look but the results can be very impressive. And the best part is you can “fix” spots you don’t like. Just don’t get carried away and screw up a cool pattern you really love by getting overzealous.

The Disappearance Of…

January 25, 2011

The Common Core State Standards had omitted cursive writing from its standards, standards that represent a set of expectations for a student’s knowledge and skills that high school graduates need to master to succeed in college and careers. No inference is made that cursive writing is such a standard and has already begun to disappear from some classrooms and in the next few years could be completely phased out in most school systems.

It’s because today’s youth spends most of their time texting or typing on the computer or other such communications device and one teacher in an Athens, Georgia school said she’s had to stop writing in cursive on the board because a lot of her students aren’t able to read it and she has to print.

Perhaps they should also do away with English class and learning how to speak. I mean, it’s becoming such an isolated society anyway…  A prime example; take  the mother and daughter duo I witnessed one night when we were out to eat who sat across from each other, each on their phones, texting away and either completely ignoring each other or maybe they were communicating between themselves with their phones. Who knows?

But what happens when the bottom falls out and computers around the globe crash and cell towers are felled like dead trees and no one can get a signal–how will we communicate? I guess a fingerprint or an iris scan will be the way we’ll identify ourselves since there will no longer be person’s unique signature. I can see it now, running into a celebrity and asking, “Can you fingerprint my autograph book?”

I forgot to mention in my blog yesterday that along with putting the rooms back together after the carpeting went down, we had to cut down 7 doors. Thankfully I just happen to have a table saw tucked away in my bag of tricks. We considered having it done, but at $35 per door, we figured we could do the job ourselves.

You know what else might be on the way out? The use of credit cards. More and more, people are using their iPhones, Droids or Blackberrys to pay at the cash register (now there’s an oxymoron sort of). They can even lend a friend some money by bumping phones. It’s just as well anyway, because who will be able to sign the charge receipt? Michael Abbott, the CEO of Isis, a new mobile payment network told CNNMoney “This is a chance to bring payments forward from the plastic age and the vinyl records age to the digital age.” What happens if your battery is dead? Or you can’t get a signal? Or you’re walking along texting and fall into a fountain like Cathy Cruz Marrero. Come on…..really?

Here’s an aside: the woman has a criminal record and she still has the audacity to threaten the Pennsylvania mall with a lawsuit for untold humiliation after the now fired security guard leaked the footage that has been views more than 3.5 millions times in one week. So, what now?  A ban on texting while walking? Can no one use any logic anymore?

You know what’s NOT disappearing? The snow! Looks like we’re in for more starting tomorrow night and we could get as much as 1-3 or 4-8 inches by Thursday morning. Now how is that for a prediction? Looks like the repair job I did on my mailbox will get an official road test. Maybe I shouldn’t say “road”.

And what’s so bad about vinyl records, Mr. Abbott?

Colder Than A Witch’s…!

January 24, 2011

If I make any typos in this blog it’s because my fingers are frozen. It’s a balmy -8 degrees here in my lovely ‘we care about our residents’ little hamlet. That’s a direct quote from someone in charge of ‘Mailbox Repair Due to Snowplow Mishaps’ department of said hamlet.

The carpet was installed on Saturday in just over 3 hours, even into one closet we decided not to have done because it was too overwhelming a stuffed mess, but because of their timing and sheer determination, we got it cleaned out and the crew was tipped handsomely for their extra work. We began putting the upstairs back together after they left and continued into late yesterday afternoon and then I spent who knows how long trying on the clothes I’d forgotten I had that was stuffed into that second closet and found that 7/8 of it no longer fit me, which will help keep that closet clean. And of course there’s the main closet in the other room which also went on a much needed diet. Let’s just say Fibber McGee no longer lives here. I have to take some ‘after’ pictures and will post them shortly.

One of us–I won’t mention who, but his name rhymes with Brian–decided that sure, maybe ought to paint downstairs so everything will be fresh and new and get it over with. I really have to have a long talk with me about stuff like that. But it’ll be done and behind us and we can other things to look forward to.

We got our tickets for the Rod Stewart/Stevie Nicks concert for March 26 at Madison Square Garden. On the Ticketmaster website they have a feature so you can get a virtual point of view glimpse of where your seats are.

Jack LaLanne died. I didn’t get the points for him. 96 years old. Gosh (gosh? really?) I remember watching him when I was a kid on the black and white set.

And here, courtesy of Ariel, is a feel good video to get your week started.

Oh, yeah, about the mailbox, workers converged in my driveway to investigate why it kept flying away when the snowplows passed. I watched as they wiggled the box for a brief few seconds then got back in their trucks and drove away. The main guy returned to my door to tell me they checked it out, without realized I was watching all the while, that they deemed the box secure. Funny, I thought, considering it was being held down in the same fashion it has been since it was installed. They didn’t want to mar the sleek design with unsightly brackets so if it happens again, call and we’ll make sure it’s taken care of. I’m going to use that same ‘gosh? really?’ line I used above. Later in the afternoon I went out armed with my drill, some brackets and some screws and secured my mailbox. And if you’re not looking for them, you don’t see the brackets I put on. Hmm.

Pretty Foxy

January 20, 2011

First stop on our foxy blog for this Thursday is Belarus.  A hunter with no name, at least not that he’s admitting to, ended up in the hospital after a hunting expedition in the Grodno region. He shot his prey, a fox, and a scuffle broke out…with the wounded animal. The hunter with no name approached the fox with the intention of finishing it off with a blow with the butt of his rifle but the animal “outfoxed” him and resisted and I’m assuming the gun fell to the ground. During the scuffle the fox’s paw landed on the trigger, the rifle went off, blasting a bullet into the hunter’s leg. Missed his shot? Was going to bash in the fox’s head? Got shot by the fox? One or more is probable cause of his secret identity.

Let’s move on to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. A pair of foxes have taken up residence on a snow-covered roof top. And they’ve become so comfortable in their wintertime digs, they’ve begun to ignore the hordes of onlookers, some equipt with cameras and have even decided to mate. I guess one’s a female and the other is a male. They leave their little roost and forage for food and a while later they return. Seeing foxes roaming around Charlottetown is not unusual, it’s like seeing a dog or a cat, but, as biologist Randy Diblee says of the rooftop foxes, ‘It certainly is a very unusual situation, unique in some respects.’

Then on to New Jersey, which was the setting of American Idol’s Tenth Season audition premier show; the Fox Network (my fox trifecta) is the connection here. Welcome new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler to the circus otherwise known as singing superstar hopefuls. A refreshing facelift from the staleness that had become ‘the Cowell show’. As the show opened, my first thought of Tyler was that his rebel yelling, mouthing along with some contestants’ auditions and keeping time by pounding on the newly designed desk would be an annoying distraction, but as the show went on he calmed down and became more tolerable. It took Jennifer Lopez a few painful auditions to become more critical about what was happening before her, getting down to business and offering helpful advice. I’m thinking it’s gonna be a good season. Even Randy seems to have more to do this year that parrot what everyone else says, having shifted his under’dawg’ to the lead position. Oh, yeah, and there’s no Kara either. Yeah, it’ll be a good season.  And, with her “God Bless The Child”, Devyn Rush from New Hope, PA is my favorite of the night.

Send These, The Homeless….

January 18, 2011

There was a disheartening story on the news yesterday that saddened me. A Houston, Texas couple, Bobby and Amanda Herring have been operating their “Feed A Friend” program, which fed the homeless, between 60 and 120 nightly, for more than a year has been shut down by Houston Health and Human Services Department. The reason? No permit. The food was donated by local stores and prepared by volunteers of the mission in their own homes, not a licensed kitchen with a certified food manager which the city requires. And when the food was finished, all trash was picked up and there was reportedly no incidents of violence.

Kathy Barton of the health department says, ‘Poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care’.

The first thing that came into my mind was how much safer bits of food some really destitute people who live on the street might find in trash cans.

Besides the cost of bringing their program up to city code, the Herrings would have to have a permit that would cost $17 per each day of operation, similar to event vendors. The couple may be able to continue their charitable work out of a church or some other eligible location in the city without having to obtain their own costly permits.

Real quick update: over the course of the weekend, beginning on Friday after work, we washed down the walls and ceilings in the three upstairs areas we wanted to paint, Saturday beginning at an ungodly hour until an ungodly hour we painted the ceilings and got the faux finish done in two of the rooms. It was between midnight and one in the morning when we finally cleaned up and crashed and finished early Sunday afternoon before we had to go out to a wake. We have some touching up to do, no sense in not having it the way we’ll like it and we want to get it done before the carpet goes down on Saturday.

And tomorrow is the big day, the new season of American Idol starts with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joining Randy Jackson at the judge’s table. I’m actually looking forward to a Simon-less show. I think he got too full of himself and carried his acid-tounged criticisms too far. As long as they don’t try to have someone mimic that style, which most viewers claim was the beauty of the show, it should be okay. And I also understand that the contestants won’t be allowed to rely on musical instruments. I never liked that addition anyway; it’s a singing competition, not a guitar strumming contest. So, we’ll see what happens.

Another Runny Egg

January 14, 2011

Seems like I’m a day late and a dollar short yet again with a certain news story. You know, it’s no wonder why the state of New Jersey is so often ridiculed and we residents often angry. The latest idiotic bill proposal, which thankfully got withdrawn, was that New Jersey bicycle riders would have had to register their “motor vehicles”, from tricycles to mountain bikes at a cost of $10 a year with the Division of Motor Vehicles. Riders would have been required to attach a licence plate that read BICYCLE to their bikes to prove it was actually registered. The bill wasn’t meant to impose a burden or and additional cost (ahem…10 dollars?) but, according to Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, who initiated the proposal, it was meant to protect elderly pedestrians who swamped her office with calls with complaints about kids on bikes. Hmm, well it seems to me, with or without a license plate, kids will still be on bikes and there will still be elderly pedestrians. Were the bill to go through, bike owners would have had to provide year, model, color, weight, serial number, owner’s address, date purchased and the amount of sales tax they paid on it. What’s next, paying for the air we breathe?

Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks have announce their Heart and Soul Tour which kicks off in March in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. They’ll be at Madison Square Garden on March 26. Guess who’s going to try like hell to get tickets? They go on sale January 21 at 10am.

Recently I’ve been getting email notifications about a website that lists some very vital information about you, from your address to your yearly income. But you can get yourself off this site. It’s called Spokeo. Spokeo.com. I heard about this a while back from The Radio Chick, who is currently on hiatus from her interactive internet radio/tv show to promote and tour with the resurrected Gong Show. Anyway, if you go to Spokeo .com and type in your name and search. A list of names will appear on the left. When you locate yourself, click on it and then click on the address bar to highlight the info–this is your URL–, right click and choose copy. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and find “privacy” in the run of options that include “about” “blog” “directory”, “privacy”. This will open a new page. In the URL line, right click and choose paste, then put your email address in the appropriate space and type in the Captcha Code and click on the REMOVE LISTING button. I don’t remember if you get a confirmation email to activate your deactivation; you might, so be prepared. They say it could take 24 hours to take effect but when I did it, it was immediate.

I think I’ll go have a runny egg. That, for those that don’t know, serving runny eggs here in the Great Garden State was against the law back in ‘92, punishable with a $25-$100 fine, before it was rescinded.

What Was New Is New Again

January 12, 2011

You know what else drives me a little batty? Watching people, alright, actors, on television drink something from a cup, like coffee. Not all, but some, just can’t make it look natural. They just hold their lidded paper cups from the local beanery (that’s right I said beanery…oh! that reminds me…wait I’ll get to it) at weird unnatural angles and it’s obvious the cups are empty. They just don’t tip them enough to look like they’re actually drinking. I guess it’s kind of like crying or laughing, some can pull it off and make it look real and others, you just know they’re trying too hard.

So, what that reminds me of, is that, well, does anybody out there remember in a land far, far away in a time almost forgotten, ages before a Starbucks overran every possible tract of real estate in just about any city there used to be the Chock Full Of Nuts coffee shops? Well, the chain is being resurrected with it’s first shop that opened Chelsea in New York back in October (and I haven’t been there yet, what’s with that?) with plans for 50 citywide in the next 15 years. Finally, a coffee shop I would enjoy going into.

Speaking of the snow, I just have to say that all the flap over the Christmas Weekend blizzard; who did and didn’t do what and when and why that caused everyone to be well prepared, to have people and machines and salt and GPS’s and pretty much the eye of the Almighty making sure there was enough preparedness got me to wondering…. was that Christmas snow the first time we ever had a blizzard? Why all the hubbub? It took me an hour this morning to do my complete driveway, front walk, back walk and a path to my mailbox (which thankfully was still perched on its post) and I saw plow after plow cruising by, yet the street is nothing but a slushy mess. 

Well, I’m pretty certain it wasn’t as much snow on the ground twelve years ago on this date as we have today thanks to the current raging snowstorm we’re having, but I know it was January 12, I know that. And today, being January 12, it’s our 12th anniversary here at Leaning Pines. Back then, everything was all new, well, new to us and here it is all new once again. And the newness isn’t ending. Yesterday the rug measurer guy was here and if anybody is able to make it to rug headquarters because of the snow, we’ll hear today about the price (to see how close the estimate came the other night) and to set up an installation date. This coming weekend, like I already said, we’ll be painting the upstairs. As far as downstairs goes, we need to make a final decision on colors and that will happen during the next painting jag.

 

Hello, Muddah. Welcome Back, Parent #…?

January 11, 2011

Alright everybody, cool your jets, and that includes myself, but I’ll see what I can do to find something to gripe about anyway, you know me. I was all set to jump ugly about the State Department’s decision to replace the terms “mother” and “father” on U.S. passport applications with the more gender neutral “parent 1” and “parent 2”. The changes, or rather the “improvements” were being made to more accurately describe “a child’s parents, in recognition of different types of families.” Oh, brother…really?

Now, here’s some reasoning I don’t quite understand. Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Equality Council says the change allows different types of families to apply for passports for their child without feeling like the government doesn’t recognize their family. Excuse me, but is this the same thoughtful government that refuses to grant the equality of marriage to same-sex couples because that would ruin the sanctity of the family unit and now it’s worried how families address themselves?

Enter Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who ordered that “mother” and “father” remain on the passport application forms. The forms will now read “mother or parent” and “father or parent” which, if you ask me, is stupidly redundant or possibly “mother or parent 1” and “father or parent 2”, which, if you ask me, is stupidly assenting.

So, while I was glad to read that mother and father would be maintained, I still couldn’t help but think that if they needed a change to reflect the times, why couldn’t they just decide to simply have a line on the form that asks for the parents’ names whether male/female, male/male or female/female without being so alienating as who was number 1 and who was number 2? Who would make that decision and how insulting would it be to parent number two when he or she might have felt like a shoe in for that coveted number 1 spot?

And whatever happened to parent or guardian like we used to have on permission slips to go on a field trip in school? See? I still found a way to gripe!