Thursday, January 12, 2006

I am typing this accompanied by maniacal laughter coming from the most bizaare video game ever created, Killer 7, currently being played by my S.O. (Gambit is getting fiesty so there are also some "no"s, "bad"s, "don't bite me"s and other interjections interspersed.) The game is seriously twisted, extremely violent and strangely compelling. Disjointed but intriguing world building and highly stylized graphics make the annoying but fitting sound track worth putting up with as I watch Alan wend his way through the game. I thought I was over the flu but it hasn't let up its hold on me, yet. Every time I excerpt myself at all, I end up with swollen lymph nodes and chills. I'm off all day tomorrow, or at this point I am at least, so I plan on resting up. I spent part of the week working on two different Access databases which was fun for a change of pace and will bring in a little money. I spent Tuesday evening learning about and making insluated window inserts with an old childhood neighbor. I might help them out as they build their business. The inserts are a great alternative to window replacement since they... excuse me for a moment as I try to get the dog to release the cat's face for the fourth time in less than ten minutes. He's sitting there with white fur hanging out of his mouth looking at the apple Alan is holding out to him but obviously deciding that the cat is much more interesting. This is what we get for not taking him to the dog park today. It was a busy day, though, with the Access consulting and, more importantly, a vet visit for said cat to have a lump on his leg checked out. While we were there, by the way, another cat was having his bent leg fixed. You guessed it, their puppy did it. The lump on Tora, the cat, was not a puppy related injury and unfortunately not a cyst like I hoped. It is a tumor but the vet said we had a 50% chance of it being benign and even if it's not, it looks like it's still limited to the dermal tissue. So, the cat needs to have it removed and tested, a huge chunk of leg for a marble sized lump, next week. The puppy needs to be fixed in the next three weeks. It's going to be an expensive year for vet bills. I am able to type this because we've allowed the dog to keep the top of a cardboard box he somehow got that I was using for our need-to-be paid bills and he's busy shredding it into confetti. I was going to write about the window inserts which I was going to order for our basement on the advice of my brother and saw they were looking for help and, needing flexible work, offered, etc., but I'm going to have to do a quick walk with the dog, if only for our poor aspirated cat's sake. The website is: Energy $avr in case you're fighting leaky windows and need an affordable but good alternative to replacing all your old windows. Good night!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Via my Digital Divide Mailing List:

Google has an interesting new Firefox extension, Blogger web comments, that allows you to check for blog posts about a website. It gives me a little pop up listing excerpts from the comment sites. It appears to be based on their link: search. This definitely has some research possibilities.

Speaking of Firefox extensions, I was just able to update my Web Developer extension for the latest Firefox version. I probably use it more than any of the other extensions. Anyone else have any extensions to recommend?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy belated holidays! I'm behind in everything (e-mails, gifts, thank yous, calls) but hope to be caught up by the end of the week.

Alan spent most of the week leading up to and Christmas ill with a nasty virus. I ended up with it the whole next week. So, we had very mellow holidays this year. When we weren't in bed, we spent lots of time on the couch, watching movies and playing very-little brain needed video and computer games. While the alternating illness was a bummer -- I was sick all of Alan's vacation -- it probably helped keep the dog from destroying the house. (While we were sick, we didn't have enough energy to care -- "What is that thing making the crinkling noise that he's chewy out there? I should get out of bed to check. Blah." -- but we would have payed for it later.) We're both better now, although we continue to feel like we need endless amounts of sleep. How do parents handle it when they're both really sick at the same time? It's got to happen to some families. I don't remember my parents ever being down concurrently. I do remember feeling really tired the week Alan was sick and knowing I was coming down with something but not having the time for it since I was doing all the shopping and sewing and dog sitting. Maybe our continuation as a species is due only to the power of one parent living in denial until the other one recovers.

Alan was able to make the present giving part of Christmas Day but slept all day Christmas Eve. I joined my dad and brother at my brother's house with our two dogs for oil and cheese fondue. Despite a watery, then clumpy cheese fondue (bad recipe - made worse with my attempts to fix it) we had a great time. In a weird sort of coincidence, the next day my brother gave me the huge The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated (the America's Test Kitchen people.) No recipes for fondue but that's the only thing I've found missing. I don't think I've spent time alone with just the two of them in years. My brother's sweet chocolate lab, Buck, was pretty tired of Gambit by the end of the evening but I think he still enjoyed the company. Gambit proved that he is not ready for visits to other people's houses by leaving little spots on the carpet even though I kept giving him opportunities to do his business outside. What is family for, though, right? We don't have carpeting, I wonder if that's part of the problem.

Before I got sick, I bought an $80 Singer sewing machine and spent the week before Christmas making some neck warmers and door draft snakes with beans and fabric remnants for some of our gifts. My mom wanted snakes that were taller than the ones you usually buy. I figured I could make ones that were prettier, too. Unfortunately, taller means wider, so they each take a lot of beans. No drafts will be getting by these babies. In a happy coincience, the beans are also often used in the neck warmers. Alan got his early, plus a little square one for laps and feet, and we both used them during the chills phase of the virus. Two minutes in the microwave and they stay toasty forever. I would love to make them for all of you living in colder regions but the shipping costs with the beans would be outrageous. If you'd like one or two, just shoot me an e-mail (with color ideas) and I'll make and send them empty. You can fill them with rice or beans. I used navy, pinto and kidney beans for the draft snakes since they were on sale and the smaller and more comfortable navy beans only for the warmers. I'd been carrying the idea with me that I'd be making curtains for our living room and my basement work area for the past year. After finding out how much it would take to fix up my grandmother's old machine, a new one seemed a better option. The $80 was well spent and I love this machine. It has all the stiches I'll need and has proven itself with denim, fleece and thinner fabrics. My sewing machine skills are not great, though I've been getting pretty good with straight seems. Despite my one required and one optional semester of Home Ec in Junior High, I only remember two things, how to measure Crisco using water and how to wind a bobbin on a sewing machine. I remember a lot more from Shop class. I was one of only two girls during the second, optional semester but my teacher loved me. He inspired in me a love of power tools. (To this day, I crave a drill press even though I'm not sure I'd ever use it.) I've decided a sewing machine is just another power tool but one with a gas pedal. Winding the bobbin is so much fun. I can almost picture myself in an old castle attic, getting ready to prick my finger.

As for the other major focus of my life lately, the puppy has shot up a few inches which seems to put just about everything within his reach. He also discovered that the couch is more comfortable than anywhere he's supposed to be, even the nice new bed I made him for Christmas. We were given the all clear for contact with other dogs, just in time. Almost daily trips to the wonderful nearby dog park at Battle Creek have been necessary for everyone's sanity since he's only gotten more hyper the past few weeks. The park has a main area where the dogs can socialize, lots of trails with a couple of ponds, pine and hardwood forest and a meadow, and very friendly owners. At least twice each trip, Gambit's wanted to take off with someone else but we've learned that a small piece of a chicken jerky dog treat will bring him back. The first visit, people told me to bring "stinky treats" so he figures out who his mommy is. He's starting to get it which makes the trip a lot less stressful for me. Hiking around in snowboots the past weeks has been very good for any of the remaining flab that the virus didn't get.

I've been doing a lot of reading since you can only sleep so long. I need to start doing mini reviews although the books I've just finished are well appreciated already. Thank you to Rick Bowes for his time rangers, Gene Wolfe for his knight, and Paul Park for his princess for getting me through the tough times this holiday season. I owe you all big time.