Monday, December 31, 2018

Damn it.

I have been finding that I can get about two years' worth of use out of Acer laptops.

I've had this one for less than that.  I got it toward the end of July of 2017.  And it's already breaking in a way that I won't be able to keep using it for a whole lot longer.

The plastic back, side, and corner of the top of the laptop (around the corner of the monitor) are breaking.  There's a crack extending about four inches from the edge, about an inch up from the bottom, about even with the hinge on the back.  And the side and corner of the front around the hinge are giving way and breaking.

It's been a problem, a growing, worsening problem, for about two months, now.  I haven't been closing the laptop, merely sending it to sleep.  And even with careful handling, it's still slowly getting worse.

I will not get another Lenovo laptop.  When I get another computer in a month or so (when this one breaks past being usable), it will be another Acer Aspire.* 

They last better, and I won't have to adapt for a too-small shift key on the right hand side anymore.

Update: I decided to say to hell with it and ordered the laptop, since it was gonna happen anyway.   Ordered through Amazon.  NOT Office Depot (where I got this hot mess of a fragile and inconvenient machine).

*Yes, it must be a laptop.  Sometimes the brain's capable of working when the body needs to lay down.  No, I don't want a netbook. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Unexpected, but nice.

I got some really unexpected Christmas gifts this year. 

First, another appliance from Odysseus:* a small air fryer, one just big enough to figure out if I'll like a bigger one or not.  I have been wanting one for about a year and a half, but...just never got one.  Not really in the budget for a casual purchase. 

(Now, all I need is a good french fry cutter.  I really, really want to try making sweet potato fries.)

Second, I got stuff from my mom and sister.  I wasn't expecting anything at all from them.  Yes, I gave them a brief list, but also emphasized that I didn't want them to get me anything at all, since they paid the taxes on the place where they're living (21 acres, with two houses, a chicken house, and a large barn adds up) this year.  To pay my aunt back for her paying off my mom's pickup. 

And what I got from them was really, unexpectedly awesome. 

First: I love Parker Quink Blue-Black.  And I tried to order some (bottled) from Amazon a couple years ago.  I ordered the 57mL bottle, and got (from a seller in India) two 1oz bottles of "Quink Blue" that wasn't: instead of it being like my other bottle of Quink Blue, it was...viscous.  And smelled.  It smelled like paint and paint thinner.  And wasn't returnable. 

I rinsed the bottles out and kept them because they were adorable, but I dumped the "ink" out. 

My mom and sister got me a bottle of the Parker Quink Blue-Black.  It is one of my favorite, favorite blue inks.  And now, instead of being down to my last cartridge, I have a whole bottle. 

Now, that would have been awesome enough, but that wasn't all they got me.  They also got me a set of four Wing Sung 3008 pens

I've been curious about them for a while: they're inexpensive piston-fill pens that looked like they'd hold a goodly amount of ink.  Kinda similar to TWSBI piston pens, but with some distinct differences in the ones I was given.  They look a bit like the 580 that I already have, but have a clear plastic feed instead of a black one, have a piston knob that locks, and (unlike TWSBI full-size pens) can be posted. 

Downsides, as compared to the TWSBI 580: the grip section doesn't unscrew for filling the pen with a syringe, and there's no inner cap to seal to keep the nib and feed from drying out if they're not used at least a little every day (which even TWSBI's Eco has).  

Of course, I cleaned one (with tap water), and inked it up with the Quink.  It is an incredibly smooth writer.  Very smooth.  It's also lighter than the TWSBI 580, but heavier (by a little bit) than the Eco. 

I've seen these pens offered on Amazon, with Prime shipping, for under $4/pen (remember: set of four pens).  The TWSBI Eco costs about double what the set of Wing Sung pens costs, and the 580 almost double that (it is double if you get the version with the aluminum piston knob and grip).   They are a spectacular value.  Great pens. 

Currently, I have three of the four inked: one with the Quink, one with a shade of bright green (kinda on the yellow end of green, rather than the blue end), and one with purple. 

I do like these.  I like them a lot.  (So does Odysseus, who's used the one I had loaded with blue ink this week at work). 

No, I really wouldn't recommend them for someone who just wants to try fountain pens for the first time--mostly because you have to fill from a bottle.  You cannot use a cartridge.  And bottle filling is messy.  But for someone who's used fountain pens long enough to get frustrated with the color choice of easily found cartridges (blue or black?  Or blue-black?)?  You betcha.  These are great pens for anyone with even a little experience using fountain pens.

*Again, gents, do NOT buy your other half any kind of appliance for any holiday or birthday, unless you know for a fact she won't kill you in your sleep for doing so.  I am NOT your typical wife.  

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

damn it

I missed the window to avoid a chronic fatigue flare.  And the pixie has been running a fever* since Sunday. 

So much for a peaceful week. 

On the bright side, the heater works wonderfully well.  My house is warmer than it has been since last fall, just before we started having to use the heat pump.  We'll be getting a propane fill-up within the week, and the lady at the company said that we've got enough propane to run the heater until they get to us. 

It's really pretty, too. 

Eventually, we'll put a rug down, add a table between the chairs I've put there, and put a lamp or something there for reading. 

*She's running a virus-type fever, not a bacterial infection-type fever.  Which means she's been home since Saturday, and is going to be home tomorrow, too. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Week two down--now for some recovery time

Monday, the imp had a doctor's appointment.  His dose needed to be adjusted up a little bit; the new 'scrip was picked up on Tuesday afternoon when it was filled.  He started it on Wednesday.  If this dose increase doesn't do the trick, we're going to have to find a pediatrician, and get a stimulant-based ADHD med prescribed. 

However, at this point, it seems to be working.  I wasn't sure if it would, even as recently as yesterday.  Today is, however, a lot better.  His school uses ClassDojo to track behavior and facilitate communication between teachers and parents (and it's a God-send for me with having to stay on top of his grades and support his teacher).  Today's scores look like the world suddenly snapped into focus for him.  I'm just hoping it stays that way.

Tuesday, an installer brought out a little 375 gallon propane tank.  I say little--it's a lot smaller than the tanks I grew up around, but is bigger than the adorable little round ones you see here and there, where a family only runs a water heater on propane because the family heats with wood.  He got it all hooked up, but left us with only a few gallons of propane--enough for the installer for the heater to use to test it. 

Wednesday, I had to stop at the school for a few minutes--the kids had eaten up all their lunch account money, and I had to add more.  The lady in the business office I deal with keeps threatening to take a picture of me as an example of a financially responsible parent...because I keep track of their account and come in before they're overdrawn on it.  She says I should be used to set an example for the other parents. 

This bothers me, on a lot of levels.  Why is it uncommon to keep track of accounts and make payments where necessary?

After that, I paid the last water bill for the old house, and came home.  Managed to get a couple of housework chores done. 

Yesterday, I did the week's grocery shopping.  Usually, I do that on Friday, but I had other commitments for this week (like a heater getting put in). I also made chicken soup,* pasta,** and egg muffins. 

This morning, I got the kids dropped off, got the last of the stuff cleared out of what was formerly dead space between the dining and family room areas, and collapsed.  Then had to get up almost immediately because the installer had arrived. 

So, at this point, I have been running myself on empty for the past two days, and it's caught up to me.  But everything that I needed to get done is done, and I don't have anything to worry about next week, except for a tiny bit of shopping for Christmas (three relatives we haven't gotten everything for, just yet, with the fourth to be shopped for even later, because frozen custard needs to be gotten closer to Christmas).

Now, I just have to wait on the propane tank to get filled.

 *Earlier in the week, I seasoned chicken leg quarters with rosemary garlic seasoning blend from Sam's Club, and baked them.  Yesterday, I took a leftover thigh, and put it in a pot of chicken bone broth (with the broth from the baked chicken leg quarters) with onion, celery, and carrots, and cooked it until the veggies were done, and the meat had come all the way off the bone.  It was delicious, and would have been better if I'd found some wild rice at Walmart like I'd been looking for. 

**Regular spaghetti with meat sauce for the wheat-eaters in the house, brown rice linguini with more leftover chicken and mushrooms added to Alfredo sauce for me.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Week 1 of the two weeks of hell down...

I've been busy nearly every day this week.  I've been sick, too. 

I can, however, definitively state that the Armour seems to be working slightly better than the Tirosint, which was infinitely better than the levothyroxine.  I'm betting I should have been on a T3 supplement as well as the standard T4 all along.  And if the endocrinologist wants to take me back off it and put me back on the synthetic, I'm going to request the T3 supplementation.  Don't ask me why I seem to need it--I don't know.  Unless the CFS is messing with the way I metabolize the T4 into T3, I shouldn't.  Most don't need the extra, but I seem to. 

No, I don't have more physical energy or stamina.  I'm guessing that's going to not be an option for me for a long time, if it ever comes back.

I am, however, able to sleep better,* and I have significantly less brain fog than usual.

Funny thing is that I'd planned on postponing that visit.  Because it wasn't until this time last week that we'd even been able to get a plumber to respond and schedule us.  I wasn't sure when we'd be able to get one in to do the work we needed, so I was planning to postpone my Tuesday appointment until after we'd gotten everything else done.  But Odysseus finally got through, and got scheduled, and told me to not reschedule because the plumber would be out on Monday for the estimate, and Friday for the work.  

So, yeah--not postponing my doctor's visit that I'd nearly decided to do was well worth the extra exhaustion this week. 

Plumber's here again, today.  He's running a line for the propane to come in for the heater that's going in next week.  The propane company will be out to set the tank on Tuesday of next week, and the heater itself will be installed on Friday.

And this is after my imp's doctor's visit, which also can't be postponed.  And next week is going to be rough, between that and the other things lined up.  However, after next week, the big things should be done until Christmas. 

But I'm going to be utterly wiped out by the end of it.  I'm damn near there, already.

I'm just thankful that, currently, the forecast has the winter storm hitting to our south.  We shouldn't be getting much more than a dusting of snow if anything, rather than freezing rain, sleet, and snow. 

*Thyroid issues also cause sleep problems.  Y'know how it feels when you're too tired to sleep?  Yeah, that.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


I really hate bumping a fingertip into something and having a fingernail snap.  It's been nearly three years, and they still can't get the thyroid dose right.  Maybe going to the natural thyroid replacement may work for me.  I certainly hope it does.

What's with all the whinging soy-boys, whining/crooning songs on rock radio?  I mean, belt those fuckers out, children!  Take a lesson from one of the women of rock: Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, for instance.  Pretty sure she has more balls than a lot of those soyboys who think whining lyrics is going to get them tail.  Pretty sure she gets more groupies, too. 

As far as I can tell, the local public school district has done ONE THING to try to prevent another hit-and-run-by-a-semi accident on our busy road.  No, they've not changed how the bus stopping for pickup happens.  They put up signs.  Signs that should have been there all along, alerting traffic that buses stop along this road.  One going each way.  There's no speed enforcement (and some of these assholes tear through here heading toward seventy or more), the bus doesn't actually pull into the trailer park, and only pulls into the duplex/quadplex/apartment parking lots across the road to turn around.  The children aren't considered because it's not the ones that matter to the city council and/or school board living out here.

We have a winter storm watch for this weekend.  We're either getting freezing rain/sleet/snow mix, or just snow.  I'd rather have snow, if I must put up with any of it.*

The Christmas tree goes up tonight. 

Imp is still using my pen for spelling practice.  The pencil I got for him to use at school "doesn't work."  In other words, he doesn't know how to use it properly, and can't figure out what went wrong with it so he can fix it.  Granted, he is only ten, but I do remember being a bit more competent with mechanical pencils at that age.  I'll try sending pencil grips and see if that might help a bit. 

If the mail was running normally today, I'd have had two packages on my front porch, rather than just one.  Because both were turned over to the local USPS for delivery late yesterday, but only one delivered today (probably because of the contract they have with Amazon Prime).  When that second one arrives, I have...three?  Yes, three people left to get Christmas presents for that won't be getting something perishable. 

Not that I blame the shippers.  But I don't recall the USPS taking an unscheduled day off for Regan's funeral. 

No, I'm not in the best of moods today.  But some of these things have been building, and the rest...just...dropped.  All at once. 

*I'd rather not have to deal with winter precip yet at all.  But that's not something I have a choice about.

Monday, December 3, 2018


So, my imp has been having a hard time at school.  Impulse control is shot, and he's still having a hard time with writing (even though the spelling issue has been dealt with--two copies of his spelling list every day from Saturday through Thursday did the trick).  Until recently.  I found something that has helped, at least a little. 

Last week, he begged to use one of my pens he hadn't used before: my TWSBI Eco.  It's got one of the fattest grip sections of any of my writing utensils.  It's actually a little bit bigger than a Sharpie marker. 

And...his handwriting improved.  MARKEDLY improved. 

That pen has been living on my nightstand for more than a year.  Odysseus got it for me for my birthday two years ago (limited edition color of lime green, so it's hard to lose), and it's a comfy pen to write with.  However, since it's a piston fill pen (and a relatively inexpensive one), it does tend to spit up when dropped or jostled a lot.  So, since I love it, and won't retire it, it's been my journalling pen for a good long time.  I had it inked with Noodler's X-Feather, since my journal has pretty bad paper. 

I grabbed it last Tuesday to stick in my pen case, just in case the title company wanted black ink for the paperwork (they wanted blue).  It was still out when it was time for the imp to do his spelling copy.  And he asked to use it. 
It made a difference.  A big difference.  His handwriting is neater, more legible, and smaller than usual when using that pen. 

I considered that it might be just using a new pen, but no.  Repeated experimentation confirmed results. 

He said it was just easier to use the fatter pen, and he'd use the boring black ink if he had to, but he wanted to use that pen.  And could I get one for him, please?

It does cost more than I am willing to spend on him for a pen, at this point: a TWSBI Eco costs around $28-$30, depending on where you order from (and shipping costs may or may not figure into that, depending on where you order from).  I know there are knock-offs, but I'm not certain of the quality or size comparisons between those and my pen.  I am, however, willing to keep that one on my desk for him to use for his spelling copy, since he loves my fountain pens. 

As for pencils...those are still problematic, still a little skinny.  I went to Walmart this morning, and got a pack of grips, and a pack of mechanical pencils (that includes two Bic Velocity pencils--really fat ones).  We'll see if the fatter pencils or pencil grips help with his neatness and control. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

...and done.

Closing the sale of the old house, that is. 

It's done.  The papers have been signed, and money has been deposited.

It's done.  The utilities are closed out (final bills are in the mail), and the insurance policy is closed. 

It's done.  Property tax for the portion of the year we owned the house has been paid. 

Everything is done with the place.  It's off my list of worries. 


On to beta-reading and finishing my own work.  Because the stuff for this place (and doctors' visits) are still coming up, but won't start until next week.

Monday, November 19, 2018


I had to run in to Walmart for dog food, this morning.  I dropped the kids off (to much whining about a lack of time to play in the gym), then headed over to the one four miles away (instead of five).  As I got there, I had to brake to avoid hitting the guy in a wheelchair getting out of a pretty nice and well-maintained Chevy Malibu.  I maneuvered carefully around him and parked to get in the store because it's fucking thirty degrees, with a light breeze that had teeth to it.  I looked back, and the guy in the wheelchair had maneuvered toward the intersection. 

I went ahead and went in, and passed a sign begging people to apply to Walmart.  Starting pay being offered?  $11/hr, minimum. 

I went to go get cat food (they were out of what my cats need to be eating), then around to the other end of the previous aisle to get dog food. 

There was a Mexican couple with a pair of very small girls throwing tantrums.  Little ones looked very tired (mitigating circumstance), and quit the poor behavior immediately when their mama gave them a *look* that I recognized from my childhood.  And that my kids recognize and immediately react to. 

After that, the children were incredibly well behaved.  Whiny, but well behaved. 

The couple were very clearly married, going by their body language and unspoken teamwork. 

Neither spoke English at all.  Nor did they understand it. 

The man's clothes showed definite signs of hard work. 

If they're not here legally, I hope they can get a good job and get the paperwork done properly to stay.  Because they were clearly here to work for a better life, and were trying harder than a lot of  American parents I've seen with small children at Walmart. 

I paid for my dog food and left.  Wind had picked up, and was a bit more vicious with the teeth than it had been when I'd gone in the store.  And I left. 

The guy in the wheelchair was sitting inside the painted lines just outside the concrete barrier that separates the right turn lane from the lane to go straight.  Had a cardboard sign: "Homeless, anything helps, everybody needs help sometimes." 

Yep, the guy who'd gotten out of the nice Malibu.  Which didn't have anything indicating he was living in the car.  Nor did it have rental stickers anywhere.  It did have handicapped tags. 

Anybody remember the stats on the annual income for beggars?   I do.  It averages out to between $40,000 and $90,000 per year, depending on the area where the individual's begging, and their visual appeal/visible disability.  With no taxes coming out.  Even the low end is more than my household makes per year, and I sincerely doubt he was making toward the low end, missing a leg. 

Help.  Walmart's hiring.  Even if you don't want to work at Walmart, there are other places hiring.  Even hiring amputees.  There is training available for anyone who wants to work. 

Help.  Sure.  He didn't want help.

He wanted suckers who can't or won't think for themselves, and let themselves be led around by the feelz and the guilt ingrained by the class-warfare-touting socialist/communist Left.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I really would prefer...

...for the cold to have waited a bit longer.

We had SNOW yesterday.  More than predicted.  Initial prediction was a dusting to an inch.  That kept creeping up.  The prediction Saturday night was that we'd get 2-4", and that it wouldn't stick.  It was also predicted that we'd get light snow, just that it'd be wet and heavy and big flakes.

Woke up yesterday morning to HEAVY snow.  Small flakes.  Coming down fast, occasionally sideways, and fast and thick enough to build up.  Yeah, the ground was warm enough (at first) that it was melting from underneath, but we still had more than 2" accumulate.  And stick. 

The town got, overall, around 4"+.  Some parts got 6" or more.

The kids didn't have school.

Today, we woke up to low teens.  I let the dog out at 6:25, checked to see if the kids' school would be starting on time (there were a few in the area that started late because of melt and refreeze on the roads), then got the kids up and breakfast started.  I had the imp feed the dog inside (no, she didn't eat all of her breakfast), then let her out for a poo break when I ran the kids in to school.  Figured I'd get her back in right after I got home.

The imp's car door (rear passenger) was frozen shut.  I had trouble yanking it open, and only managed what the imp failed to do because I was able to stand on the far side of the ice patch right below the car and yank hard.

The car's dash thermometer read 17 degrees when we left.

It takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic, to get the kids in to school, let off at the gym entrance, then get home.  It was the long end this morning, because I didn't want to risk a loss of traction when I was trying to get into a normal sized gap of traffic.

And the dog...wasn't ready to come in.  Usually, when I ask if she wants in, she nopes over to the far corner of the yard and dances by the gate, as far from the back door as she can get. 

Not this morning.  There's still a solid 2" of snow in the back yard, with a crust of ice over the top where we got freezing fog yesterday evening.

The dog dashed over to the opposite corner of the patio, and danced. 

I gave her ten more minutes while I did a couple things, then tried again.  She was willing to come in, that time, but only stayed in the house for about an hour.

Yes, I have since tried to get her in the house.  No, she has not been willing to come in.  She hasn't even stayed on the patio, on the straw bale or her insulated bed out of the wind.  Instead, she's been making snow-plow circuits* of the yard, barking at everything.  No, it isn't yet above freezing.  It's not supposed to get above freezing today.

We're still running the heat pump.  With as high-efficiency plug-in heaters as we can get to supplement.  Because the propane company's due out on Thursday to tell us what size tank we'll need for a 30,000 BTU heater that's going in the fireplace early next month.

So, yeah, I'd prefer for the global warming to take a break and let us get back to the normal-for-the-area 40s and 50s for early/mid November.  This shit's not supposed to hit us in SW MO until late December/January.

*Scotty-dog snow-plow: bury nose under snow until it's touching the ground, then run around like a maniac, flinging snow in all directions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mistakes were made

Some by me. 

Friday nights are pizza/movie nights.  Always.  We get a take-n-bake pizza, then put in a DVD of something for the kids so Odysseus and I can have some peace going into the weekend.  My pizzas are gluten-free crusts acquired ahead of time, then topped.  And those...aren't cheap.  At.  All. 

I mean, yeah, I do try to make my own.  When I can.  When I haven't used up my energy doing other things like shopping, cleaning, child-wrangling (homework time can be an utter bitch).  But sometimes, I have to fall back on crusts.

And my Walmart has stopped carrying the Udi's crusts.  They do carry another gluten free crust, a Mama Mary's brand.*  I got a package.  One was fine.  Not good, by any means, but edible.

Last week's...wasn't.  Last week's was contaminated with wheat flour (it wasn't good enough for an "oops--we put a regular crust in the package, instead of a gf crust). 

I spent Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really suffering for it. Last night wasn't great, but I was able to sleep mostly comfortably.  The only thing buggering my sleep last night was worries about yesterday's election. 

Yes, I voted.  Despite feeling really horrible, and having no energy because of wrangling a very unwilling monster through doing most of his homework, I voted.  I voted nearly straight libertarian...and we still managed to boot Claire McCaskel out of office (the asshole voted in isn't any better, sadly).  We got an amendment to the state constitution passed to permit marijuana to be used for medical purposes.  We even passed the one that taxed it at 4% rather than 15%.  We also managed to defeat a 2 cent per gallon increase in fuel sales tax. 

Sadly, that's where the good news ends. 

We passed an amendment aimed at "keeping out of state money out of Missouri elections" which includes a nasty rider that puts a "non-partisan individual"--not a committee, by my reading--in charge of gerrymandering.  This is not good.  The money part is, but the gerrymandering thing is a definite poison pill that's going to fuck us in the short and long term.

We also, sadly, passed a MASSIVE minimum wage hike. 

Which means EVERYTHING is about to become more expensive.  And jobs?  Yeah, unskilled work is going to go bye-bye.  No more jobs for teens for us!  They're just not worth $12.60/hr (where they might be worth taking a chance at $7.65).

I think one of the biggest mistakes this country ever made was passing universal suffrage.  Because the idiots were out in force, yesterday.  And there were about 1.5 million voters in MO that need to be institutionalized in group homes and sheltered workshops instead of being allowed to vote, judging by those two things. 

Another mistake I've made is not getting my imp in to see his doctor sooner.  I'd noticed his behavior (and his grades) starting to spiral downward.  I should have got him in last month--he's gained weight, so I think his meds need to be adjusted.  I didn't.  I've been frustrated, his teacher's been frustrated, and he's been...really unable to control himself.  I've got him an appointment for tomorrow morning. 

It doesn't excuse the poor behavior, but it does explain it.  And I feel guilty because I've dropped a rather important ball in my juggling. 

This week has been stupid-busy.  Next week will be a little better, but not a whole lot, and I still feel like I'm forgetting something...

...and the week after Thanksgiving, we have a tentatively scheduled closing on the old house.  Keep your fingers crossed and send up a prayer that nothing FUBARs this attempt at a sale, please. 

*Udi's only makes gluten free products.  They don't work with wheat at all anywhere in their manufacturing.  Mama Mary's...does.  They do regular (if bad) crusts as well as the gluten free ones.  I'm not surprised this happened, just painfully disappointed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What ever happened to *buying* programs?

I seriously hate Microsoft.  HATE them.

I had to buy a new laptop in July 2017.  It had Windows 10.

I detest Windows 10.

I like the stability, and the fact that it doesn't tend to crash, but I hate the auto-update that cannot be turned off.   I hate that I keep having to turn Cortana back off, and turn the microphone back off, and tell it to not report my location after random updates (not every update, but frequently enough that I've had to do it more than half the times it updates).  I hate that it does this without warning, and doesn't let me put it off.

This last update has really fucked everything up for me.  Firefox is running slower (even after a troubleshoot delete/reload), and everything is...jerky.  I can type faster than it can keep up, which I've never been able to do before.  It's really bad.  It's not just internet issues, either--I have the same issues with word processing.  Even when I'm using nothing else but that program (yes, I checked). 

It's actually worse with the USB keyboard I have.

And, with this update, Word has locked down to where I can't use it. 

Granted, I'd been using Word for free for years.  While I was working for Nameless University, I had the privilege of using the university's license for Office.  And I do like Word's functionality.  If I could buy a copy of ONLY Word, I would.

But no.

I can rent Office for an affordable price for a year (uh, no.  I don't rent programs), or I can buy the whole suite, licensed for one computer only (and then have to do it again when I have to have a new machine).  Or, I could buy a pair of bifocals for about the same price.*    Guess which has higher priority. 

My now-unlicensed copy of Office has locked down.  I can open old docs in it, but cannot modify or add to them.

Which sucks, because I'd had a friend's manuscript almost done in Word, and now I have to start it over with a program I need to get familiar with, because it's going to be what I'll be using for the foreseeable future.

I wish this had at least waited until after I'd finished the manuscript I was editing.  LibreOffice's Writer program's editing/change tracking/commenting is...not precisely user friendly, if not as impossible as Open Office's is.

And I wish I had the focus and brain capacity to learn Linux.  Because Windows 10 is complete and utter shit, despite the stability.  

*I've seen Office (older versions) on Ebay for prices I can afford, but I don't trust that I'd actually get a copy that hadn't already been installed on someone else's computer. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Those weren't mud-balls...

Life has a nasty, bitchy habit of lobbing mud balls at you to catch while you're juggling. 

We got the offer on the old house.  They contracted the same inspector we did.  He's good, but...damn, he overloads you with literally EVERYTHING that you MIGHT need to fix, with no distinction over whether it needs done now, or can wait--that, he leaves to the home-buyer to decide. 

Which...scared our buyer to the point they withdrew from the contract. 

Yeah, there were some serious fixes, but the report was several tens of pages long and listed everything from overhanging branches that needed trimmed to knob-and-tube wiring that wasn't hooked up to anything and wasn't active (or a danger) to the need for a moisture barrier between the floor and the crawl space, and flooring that needs some work. 

Real info overload for especially a first-time HUD-loan homebuyer.  So, the attempts to sell the house start again. 

The imp's birthday was a week ago yesterday.  I didn't have his spelling list until Sunday night after he'd gone to bed, so we didn't get started on spelling until Monday.  And it was a review list, so he should have done mostly okay.  I mean, writing the lists out twice every day takes for-fucking-ever for the child, but it was working (mostly).  It had taken his tests from D's to A's and B's.  Despite his issues actually getting what he knew in his brain to come out his fingers. 

Last week's test was a C.  Mid-C.  

And this week is a short week.  And a hard list.  I guess I'm going to have to work him harder.  Because being able to communicate in writing (and take notes and be able to READ THEM LATER) is incredibly important.

And this coming week includes post-first-quarter parent/teacher conferences. 

I'd signed both kids up on Tuesday--the pixie at 5:00, and the imp at 5:30.  And then, the imp's teacher sent out a mass email, saying she had to postpone the conferences to Thursday, and Friday (which they have off).  So, one child's conference is at 5:00 on Tuesday, now, and the other one's is at 5:00 on Thursday.  Instead of having both on one night, and no more to worry about. 

I'm also going to have to find another plumber.  Yes, another one.  A year after we'd found a decent, reliable plumber that responded quickly to calls, and didn't overcharge.  Because the guy that owned the company is up on federal charges of making and distributing child porn. 

Thank God his employee was the one we dealt with most often. 

But we need that plumber soon, because we are definitely going to need a new propane line run into the side of our fireplace (instead of the middle of the back) for a new propane insert.  Because winter's well on its way, and a heat not good for heating in this part of Missouri.  We had giant electric bills last winter, and I do not want those again. 

Yeah, I'm pretty sure those were horse apples life was throwing at me for me to catch and add to my juggling.  And I missed either catching or deflecting. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I think I'm done (in) for a while.

Last weekend was my imp's 10th birthday.  Saturday.  Ten years ago, he arrived at the world pissed off and screaming--which was a delightful sound, considering he was eight weeks early, and they weren't sure his lungs would be developed enough by that point to scream. 

His feet were literally the length of my thumb: about an inch and a half. 

Thursday evening, he came to me and showed me that his toes had no room in his shoes, so I got him a bigger pair Friday morning when I did groceries.  I wear kids' size 3 in shoes.  He now wears youth size 5. 

From feet the size of my thumb, to feet bigger than mine in ten years. 

So, Saturday morning, we went to his paternal grandparents' house for his birthday dinner (lasagna, Italian bread, spice cake, and ice cream).  And presents from them (an old tackle box spray painted silver that will be perfect for storing Hot Wheels, and a couple of books he already loves). 

And Sunday, we grabbed a rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, and a salad from Sam's Club ($16.98 to feed four adults and two kids!), and went up to my mom's after they'd gotten back from church.  The kids each had a chicken leg and my sister made mac'n'cheese.  And another spice cake (with rye flour, which I could eat) and cream cheese frosting.  He ate half the three inch square piece of cake they cut.  I ate my piece, then the other half of his. 

The boy made out like a bandit, where food's concerned. 

I spent yesterday exhausted, and chair-bound.  Didn't get anything done, because my brain wouldn't work any better than my body would (and my body said "newp--you're sitting back down as soon as you've gotten your drink/gone to the bathroom/grabbed a snack-type lunch, because you did too much this past weekend"). 

Felt a little better when I woke up this morning...and then the kids happened. 

I got them chased around through morning routines, and...couldn't find my keys.  They'd gotten put back in the wrong pocket of my purse. 

Found keys.  Got the kids out and into, they refused to get into the car.  "Oh, Mom, it smells awful!"

Got to the car, and found out they weren't exaggerating.  Pixie was gagging, imp had hand over nose and mouth, and both were backing away from the open doors.  Because it smelled like something had died in the car. 

Got the windows down, and got the kids in the car regardless, and got them dropped off at school.  Got home.  Sorted through the detritus in the front floorboard (not much), then the back (about six inches per side). 

There was nothing dead in the car.  There were, however, jackets that they'd played in the rain in, then left wadded down in the floorboards.  They'd soured.  To the point that they smelled like something had died in the car. 

On the plus side, I got the car mostly cleaned out.  However.  I think that may have been my limit of "I can do that chore" for today.  And it finished off a half-full trash bag of kids' graded school worksheets picked up over the last week or so.

Thank goodness taco casserole is easy to throw together.  And that the kids will help with that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


We put the old house on the market about...two months ago.  Had some interest, but no serious offers (really, who offers HALF the asking price?). 

Yeah, the house needs some work.  Mostly it's cosmetic, though.  Not structural.  That little house is well-insulated, and stout.  But, keeping in mind that it's an old house, and not particularly pretty, we did price it low for what it is.  And still weren't getting offers.  Not real ones, anyway. 

Until Friday.  Got an offer for about $4500 less than asking.  Met them sort of in the middle in the counter offer. 

This morning, I got a call from the realtor that the buyer had accepted the counter offer.  Closing is the fifteenth of next month. 

This is such a huge load off my mind. 

Yes, we're selling for less than we paid for it, despite having put in a second bathroom, new kitchen cabinets, and a privacy fence around the back yard.  But the reason we'd wanted to move in the first place was because the neighborhood was kinda running down.  People who were...not suited to anything better than a trailer park by their behavior bought the house next door.  In the neighborhood where it is, it's actually lost value over what we paid for it in '06, rather than gaining value like it would have done elsewhere.  We did a lot of work, but it still needs a lot more done, which we neither have the cash nor the inclination to do.*


I will not be paying more than one more water bill.**  I will not be paying for insurance for another year on that house.  I will no longer be paying property taxes.  I will no longer be paying electricity on two houses.  

I'm done worrying about that house.  I'm done paying bills on that house.  And when it closes, we'll be able to do the things for this house that we need to do. 

First and foremost: we definitely need a primary heat system for when it's really cold.  A heat pump does not do the job when it drops below about 40 degrees.  Found that out the hard way last year when the emergency elements yielded us an $800 electric bill.

But that's for later.  Right now, I'm going to relax, edit a friend's work, write on my own stuff, and celebrate. 

*Our home needs work, too.  I'm a lot more inclined to spend the money we can on fixing the issues where we live.  Doing more at the old house wouldn't have netted us much more than we got.

**Our home is on a well.  I don't pay a water bill, here, just a trash bill. 

Friday, September 28, 2018


So, apparently, the tragedy yesterday has a whole lot of fingers to point. 

The little girl in the trailer park on the south side of the road was running late.  The bus had already picked up from that stop (allegedly), but she missed it, and was trying to catch the bus at the turn-around. 

And a big rig, likely doing fifty or better through here, hit her.  It was 6:55 a.m.  The sun was starting to come up, it wasn't dark, and the sun wasn't up far enough to be in the driver's eyes, either.  He said he saw the bus, and thought he hit a mailbox (all of which are set so that he'd have had to go in the ditch), and lied about hitting a deer on the interstate to not get in trouble with his bosses. 

He was arrested more than fifty miles from here, in Strafford, after debris left at the scene was matched to his truck, and evidence on his truck matched back to the little girl.

I don't recall the bus ever stopping in the road out in front of my house.  I don't recall the bus doing pickups from the road in front of the house.  I am not sure if it turns into the trailer park.  But yesterday morning, it was in a driveway across the road from the trailer park, facing the trailer park.  Bus driver claims to have seen the whole thing. 

I'd say the city has a good bit of culpability in this, too, depending on their school bus policy and enforcement of such. Like I said: the speed limit isn't enforced out here, and there's no "school bus stop" sign anywhere.  There's at least that much fault to be assigned to them.  Hell, where that's concerned, maybe the case could be made that the county sheriff and/or highway patrol's partially at fault, since speed limits aren't enforced and it happened just outside city limits.

The little girl's mother...has already been punished.  I'm not going to dogpile on her like some of the locals have.  And they have.  And who knows?  My almost-eight-year-old is damn fast, and is often out the door and most of the way to the car before I can yelp on mornings we're running late. Maybe the parent(s) didn't have a chance to prevent it from happening. 

I will say that this is rage inducing.  I can't imagine why this wasn't avoided, even counting out the lying, careless son of a bitch that murdered a little girl by his negligence.  The city's policies should have prevented it.  The bus driver...unless they were not following policies set in place when they did as they did, I don't see how they have any responsibility for what happened. 

But the wouldn't be the first child their school district has killed through their negligence.

And knowing the way the city council/school board works, this likely won't be the last child killed through their negligence, either.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


At 7:00 this morning, when kids are out near the ends of their driveways, waiting on the bus, one of the kids near where I live got hit by a semi.

I don't know a whole lot.

I know that there's no curbs.

I know that there's no sidewalks.

I know that there's a 45mph speed limit in front of my house.

I know that there's a whole lot of duplexes and other apartments across the road from me.

I know that a lot of kids live over there.

I know that there's no sign warning drivers of a bus stop.

I know that the big rig driver was eastbound, and likely had the sun in his or her eyes.

I know that the driver didn't stop.

I know that the highway patrol caught the driver.

I don't know if the kid survived.  I don't know if it was a boy or a girl.  I don't know if it was the little boy my kids are fairly well acquainted with--my neighbors' grandson.  I'm waiting for further information.

This day sucks.  

Update: Highway Patrol says that the child was an eight year old girl.  She didn't make it.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Adventures in parenting

Yesterday, I got the kids up at the usual time.  Got everybody hustled around, got sat down and started to work, and got hit with a nasty headache (got one starting now, too, damn it).  Got back up, got something to eat warmed up so that I could take something for said headache, and the phone rang.  It was the kids' school (and about 10:00 a.m.). 

The pixie had been hopping down the stairs on the bleachers in the gym before school, and had fallen.  She'd bumped her head a bit (no signs of concussion--they really need to check their bleachers for damage caused by her hard little head), and hurt her arm.  She tried really hard to power through, but by 10:00 a.m., it was becoming impossible for her to keep trying and writing.  It hurt too much. 

Yes, I went and got her.  She had a nasty, deep bruise starting to form on the outside of her hand, between her pinkie and wrist.  I gave her some Tylenol, and lunch.  And then I watched her for the day.  She did some of her work, but didn't get all of it done because her hand and wrist started hurting worse after the Tylenol started wearing off. 

So I sent her to urgent care with her daddy.  I probably should have taken her earlier, but I really thought the bruise on the hand was the extent of it. 

She's in a brace today.  The doc on call (was an asshole) said that it was likely a sprain, and he didn't see a break in the x-ray, but the radiologist would double check him.  He also upset the pixie and scared her half to death with a long monologue of everything that it could be, complete with complications, and a lack of concern for how a not-quite-eight-year-old girl would be able to mostly understand him, and be upset by his words and attitude. 

She went to bed at her usual time last night, but woke up after about an hour, unable to sleep because the brace was uncomfortable.  She tried for about an hour and a half to go back to sleep without any success, so I gave her some Benedryl, as much for the congestion and sniffles as anything.  But by that time, it was 9:30. 

We were slow getting around today.  And I don't know how her day's going. 

The imp...has been his normal, spazzy self.  And we think he may have a learning disability related to writing.  We already know about the ADHD and the difficulty paying attention to details, but that there was another disability that may be at work was a little bit of a surprise. 

About halfway through last year, his spelling grades tanked.  Seriously tanked.  As in: he was spelling the words correctly to me verbally, but was getting 70% and lower on tests.  Stupid mistakes, leaving out letters as he was writing words, writing too big and illegibly...the teacher adapted his spelling tests, and his grades came up. 

This year, there was no grace period.  No point at which his spelling was doing well.  We've had two tests out of five with decent to good grades--the rest have been like the latter half of last year.  Same problem. 

He may have a writing disability. 

However, that means he just has to work harder to achieve the same results as his classmates.  No, he doesn't want to.  However, I'm no longer giving him a choice.  Last week, he was having trouble spelling two words, one of which was "adjective"--which is understandable, but still.  Verbally, he was on with every other word.  Written, for the test?  He missed spelling something like a third of his list correctly, instead of only the two I was expecting. 

The week before, we'd managed an A. 

The difference was in how he'd studied.  The only difference was in how he'd studied.  He'd gone from writing the entire list two times every day to studying it verbally for ten minutes every day. 

We're going back to what worked. 

Even though it's harder for him.  Writing a list of 20 words twice takes him almost an hour, and there are always at least two errors per list that he has to go back and fix, which is an additional three minutes per error.  He has that hard of a time with it.  (By contrast, his sister takes ten minutes to write out a list of fifteen words twice, with everything coming out correctly.)

I'm also teaching him home-key typing on a netbook purchased just for him and the pixie to learn things like this on.  Because that's one of the suggested work-arounds for the specific learning disability that we suspect. 

He knows the words.  He knows how to spell them, and has an utterly phenomenal memory for these things.  He just can't get every one of the letters properly pushed from brain through fingers onto paper. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pets...such a joy.

I had a weird cat day with Shadow, yesterday.  Seriously weird cat day. 

It started out at breakfast time. 

I woke the kids and started them on getting dressed, then went into the kitchen to let the dog out and start warming their breakfasts.*  Shadow decided to follow right at my heels, and thumped the dog when she asked why (seriously--dog leans around my legs to just LOOK at the cat, and the cat slapped the dog on the nose).  Then stuck to my heels until I dropped a bacon crumb to get her to get out from behind me so I could step back without fearing stepping on the cat.

After I dropped the kids off at school, I got sat down at my desk, pulled up the current project, and started to get to work.  Shadow got...squirrelly.  She dashed from the laundry room through the kitchen, dining, and family rooms, then around the corner into the library where I was working, past the kids' homework table, up onto the boy's office chair.  Then across the table to where Cricket (the other cat) was sitting in the open shelving between the library and family rooms.  Sleeping.  Peacefully and inoffensively. 

And offended by this for some reason, and bopped her on the head.  Not once, but three times. 

Which, of course, scared the wind out of Cricket (I heard her fart from across the room), and made her fall off the shelf.  I don't think she landed on her feet in the family room, either, judging by the scrabble-thud. 

Then she decided that she wanted a lap.  Like right then. 

Or so I thought. 

I had my ergonomic keyboard in my lap, headphones on, working.  And then suddenly, when I moved my hands away to get a drink of coffee and stretch, I wound up with a keyboard full of cat, and half a page of EVERY KEY mashed at least once.  EVERY key.  INCLUDING the number pad keys. 

Okay, then. 

I picked up the cat, deleted her masterwork, then moved the keyboard and held her for a while.  Then put her back down, and tried to go back to work. 

Nope.  She was back in my lap before I could pick the keyboard up. 

Okay.  Pet the kitty some more, and scratch her and tickle, to get her to go away because she's revved up and ready to play. 

Didn't work. 

So I got up and went to go get some more books out of the garage.  There are holes in my bookcases where I've moved inappropriate-for-kids books out of the library into the bookcase in the bedroom.  The kids are almost 10 (next month is the imp's birthday), and almost 8 (two and a half more months for the pixie's birthday).  They're getting interested in science fiction and fantasy, respectively.  So they raid my shelves (Oh, John Ringo, NO!!**) when they get bored with theirs. 

Shadow followed me.  And refused to come in when I did. 

So I shut her out there for a few minutes.  In the dark. Started organizing books in the bookcases in the living room.  Went back out to try to get the cat in. 

She was sitting on the bottom step in the garage, head cocked, watching the door.  And did the funny silent meow kitties do when they know they're being naughty. 

I left the door open and walked away.  Called. 

And she damn near took my feet out from under me, charging past. 

So, I sat back down and got back to work. 

And wound up having to delete ANOTHER half-page of gibberish when she jumped up and flopped on the keyboard again. 

At that point, I gave up, moved the keyboard out from under the cat, and started doing other things (math things regarding last month's pitiful take from Kindle, and household budget work) that didn't require both hands and the keyboard in my lap.  Because the cat wasn't moving.  She'd conked out. 

I wound up getting up about half an hour later to get more water, and set the cat down.  When I came back, she'd gotten up in my office chair and was defiantly curled up in it.

It wasn't my lap she wanted.  It was the chair.

So, I moved myself and my laptop back to my recliner, and let her have it.  And got some work done.  Not as much as I wanted, but better than I'd hoped.

That wasn't the end of the cat-weirdness for the day, but that, I think, is enough to be going on with.  

*One child eats french toast sticks and bacon for breakfast every morning; the other eats egg muffins (let me know if anyone wants the recipe) with salsa and bacon.  Takes about two minutes, total, to warm up breakfast for them, and half an hour for them to eat it. 

**I've removed the Paladin of Shadows books from the library the kids can access...Hamilton's Anita Blake series, some of Heinlein's books (including, but not limited to, most of his Lazarus Long books), Carey's Kushiel series...and the list goes on. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Needed more salt.

Yesterday, I tossed a pork loin in the crock pot.  I added a few things, and then shredded it and put it back before serving.

It was delicious.


It desperately needed more salt than the recipe I used called for.  Next time, I'll salt the damn thing first, then put all the stuff in with it.

Tex-Mex pulled pork

at least 3 lb pork loin
2 tsp, piled up a bit, minced garlic
1/2 c tequila (use a decent quality)
1/2 c chicken broth
2 cans Ro-Tel
1/2 c chopped, fresh cilantro
1/2 c chopped green onions

1. SALT the pork loin first.  Then put it in the crock pot.  2.  Drop minced garlic along the top.  3.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  4.  Cook on LOW for 6 hrs, then shred, then put back in crock pot to simmer in juices a little bit.  5.  Serve, warm, on tortillas, in taco shells, or over tortilla chips, with desired toppings.

I love this as nachos, topped with a lot of cheese, sour cream, and olives.  Odysseus likes it rolled in a flour tortilla with cheese (doesn't care for sour cream or olives).  The pixie likes it on chips with melty cheese.

The imp doesn't like new foods.  ;)

Do be aware, this is really rich.  The alcohol cooks out, but it's really, really rich, and may make you sick if you overeat. 

Monday, September 10, 2018


I'd shifted back over to my desk, last night.  I'd been working, and being productive today.  I had lunch, then re-positioned a little bit, and crack.  My knee popped.  Then screamed.  And then I screamed.  Then Cricket screamed (the silly black and white cat with a dick-face). 

I am now back in my recliner, with that knee angled a lot better than I can mange to get it at the desk.  It's still throbbing.  But I am still working.  I've got a chapter mostly written long-hand, and all I have to do is type/revise, not think through the pain of popping a bad joint in a bad way. 

As if the brain fog wasn't enough, damn it. 

Standing in line to pick up the kids is going to be...not fun.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Worth a try.

I've had the devil's own time trying to find a tolerably good pair of headphones that I can afford.  I'd LOVE a set of top of the line audiophile headphones, but I use mine ALL THE TIME.  HEAVY use.  Because I listen to music while I'm writing, from the time I drop the kids off in the morning to the time I go pick them up in the afternoon during the school year, and while they're watching kids' programming or DVDs.  I'd wear a set out so fast it wouldn't be worth the money that could nearly pay a mortgage payment. 

My $50 headphones had really good sound for the price point.  Better than most I'd dealt with to that point.  But.  They only lasted me two months past the cheaper headphones I'd been using up to that purchase.  Not worth it (it would have been if they'd lasted me four months longer than they did). 

I tried the same brand, but a generation older.  Shitty sound, and the band was too big for my head, even on the smallest setting.*  A retread of a wired pair I'd liked two years ago turned out the same.  That pair got returned.

I asked Odysseus to get me a $5 p.o.s. pair from Walmart while I hunted for a decent pair in my price range.  The sound was crappy, but what do you expect from these

Then, about a week ago, I found these.  Wireless or wired (means the audio cable can be replaced when the wire breaks), decent sound...$16.  Sturdier built than the Altec Lansing set that broke at the band above the hinge. 

So far, I'm pretty pleased with these.  And if they break before the 12 month mark, I'm only out $16, not $50, and can afford to replace them pretty much immediately. 

In the meantime, I'm back at work on Gods and Monsters...a bit over halfway done.  I've topped the 50K word mark, and with the kids back in school and the outside editing project done, I've picked up and started transcribing the next couple chapters that I already have written out in my little green Walmart notebook in fountain pen while waiting on the kids' swim lessons (which ended the first week of August, right before the back to school shopping rush started). 

And even better, I'm back at work with music: Avenged Sevenfold, Halestorm, Mettalica, Fall Out Boy, and In This Moment. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018


I missed my ten year anniversary of being a blogger.  I wrote my first post on August 10, 2008, less than two months before my son was born.  I was getting frustrated with being silenced in the department offices because I have a little thing called common sense, and didn't think it was at all right that the oil companies made 11 cents per gallon on gas but the government made almost 50 cents per gallon. 

Life has changed a lot since I started blogging.  I have changed a lot. 

I've become a mother, twice over.  That was...a lot more of a change than I thought it would be, and I never thought it would be anything other than massive. 

I've been a writer my whole life, but started publishing my work in 2012. 

I started teaching in '03, started teaching for my alma mater in '05, shifted to online classes from mid-fall '08 to Fall '14, when I went back to campus because the kids were starting kindergarten and preschool at a place I trusted not to teach them hippy shit. 

Got hit with pneumonia in January '15, then something else in February, which triggered the onset of a chronic condition I'm still learning to manage. 

...which led to me gratefully accepting that the department I'd taught for for twelve years didn't want to employ me anymore. 

And gave me back the energy to write. 

Will I pick up the blogging frequency?  Perhaps.  I don't know yet.  I am writing, though, and discovered that a lot of the burnout on teaching came from dropping writing when my energy dropped. 

I do know that I don't plan to stop blogging. 

After all, if I've been doing it this long, why stop now?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Editing work

I have an editing commission.  Former student wants me to edit his novella for him.  In the first page--first paragraph--I've had to fix punctuation mistakes, and sentence parallel structure.  Oh, and a couple of spelling mistakes. 

He's great with detail, and with story flow, for literary fiction (which this is).  The rest is just mechanics. 

I'm hoping he does well.  He's got it formatted for submission to a publisher, rather than for indie publishing.  I hope he's able to sell it after I help him polish it. 

However.  I'm absolutely earning the rate I charge.  And if I start getting more editing jobs for people outside my beta reading group (they do mine, I do theirs), I'm going to have to start charging a bit more. 

When I'm doing editing work, I'm not writing.  And I do have a couple more chapters of the current project rough draft done in longhand to transcribe. 

Well, anyway.  Back to work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back to cheap pairs...

My $50 headphones broke.  Not at the cord next to the jack--that could have been replaced (and had been, by that point).  No, they broke at the headband, just above the hinge to fold them, right above the right temple.  Just...snapped.

I am...not happy.  They only lasted 8 months.

So, I ordered these headphones.  Much less expensive, and the same brand.  They arrived Sunday.  They...didn't fit.  The headband was a lot wider than the last pair, and they slid around on my head and ears.  The sound quality was lacking on the bass side of things, too.  I wasn't happy, and was just about ready to send them back.

However.  Odysseus's headphones broke Sunday morning.  I will say this: we'd had them for more than 18 months, and he said they were spectacular for watching video.  Good noise-deadening so that he could hear his videos over whatever the kids were watching/doing.  They broke just above the hinge after a year and a half of heavy use.

He'd mentioned wanting a set of wireless headphones.  So I passed the others over to him to try.

And then I ordered these.  I had a blue set just like it two years ago, and it was one of my favorite pairs of headphones for sound quality.  I'm not terribly picky about color, so the green won't bother me, and they worked for about six or seven months.  Before the wire broke at the jack.  Which, with those headphones, the wire's integrated, and I can't just replace it.

However.  It didn't work out much better with the more expensive headphones I bought in January. 

If I'm going to have to replace headphones frequently, I'd rather not replace expensive ones frequently.  And I'm better off doing a $15-$20 pair twice a year than a $50 pair twice a year.  And with this pair, I know what I'm getting with sound quality.

The new headphones will be arriving with the mail today.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I mean, yeah, I could listen to my music on my laptop speakers, but they're crap, even by the standards of laptop speakers, and easily drowned out by the kids playing in one of their bedrooms with the door closed.  Or outside. 

UPDATE: They're going back.  Too big, and shitty sound quality.   I guess quality for price has dropped in the past two years. 

And damn it, that means I'm stuck without music for a bit longer.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Moar books...

Friday was a lot of fun.  The pixie'd been begging us all summer to take her to the George Washington Carver National Monument, just a little ways southeast of here.  Odysseus took the day off Friday, and we went.*

It was a really great spot to explore.  They've got a lot of hands-on stuff at the visitor's center (including a reproduction of a one-room schoolhouse), and a 3/4 mile walking trail around the Carver farm.

And then we went to a used bookstore.  Both kids had gotten into The Magic Treehouse book series, and we found several (and several nonfiction companion books).  Got them a stack of books about 8" high.

(You know you've done things right when the kids are jumping and excited when you pull into a bookstore parking lot, then settle down and make a bee-line straight for their section at a fast walk.)

Didn't get any for the adults, though.  We're gonna have to limit us to the KU subscription we've got.

That said, we've got a lot of choice.

We recently read Jim Curtis's latest, and I finished Dorothy Grant's latest, last night (and will likely spring for a copy when the budget permits).  Next up:

Cyn Bagley

First one's a short story/novella, second is the first in a two-book (so far) series.  I plan to read both books, because the concept looks really fun.  

William Lehman

L. A. Behm

Pam Uphoff

Not my usual fare--I typically do NOT like other women, even in stories--but...pirates.  Hopefully getting their asses kicked.

Lot of others that are interesting, but I can't afford to purchase, given that both my and my other half's headphones failed within days of each other, and they're not KU.

Damn it.

*I've been paying for it since, but it was worth it.  But now, I need books for me. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Library monsters

We now have a large bookcase in the bedroom.  I'm sorting through my library bookcases, thinking about all of the books on terms of suitability for kids reading them, because the kids' library is a hair young and small for them (they were thrilled because their one bookcase has grown to two, because they know that means Mom and Dad will fill it for them), and some of the grown-up books are looking...interesting.

Now, YA is not my thing.  I really don't care for coming of age stories in general, and haven't for a long time.  But I need to start stocking those (and nonfiction books for a boy who loves science and history), and other kids' novels. And I've spotted a few that look good.

The kids already have a copy of my children's book in their bookcase.  I'm planning on adding a couple of Robin McKinley's novels, too, once I'm sure my little library monsters are going to be careful enough.  My copies of the Little House books, however, are NOT going on their shelves--they're sentimental, and fragile (they belonged to my maternal grandma, who passed away the year the imp was born).

I've been looking for new books by indie authors to go on their shelves.  I've got a few picked out:

The reviewer says this one reads a bit like the Little House books.  It's going first on my list of "to reads" when I'm done with my current KU borrow.

Then there's this one:

The blurb reminds me of a book I'd read while in college.  The title escapes me, but I remembered liking it, and if I recall correctly, it had some inappropriate for kids material in it.  If this one is as good, I'm sure the kids will love it when they find it.

And a pair of medieval fantasy novels that I think my daughter would enjoy immensely:

I think these, with what will remain on the main library shelves, will be enough to get started with for now.  I may well spot more in the future. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Best Christmas Present EVER!!!*

Odysseus got me a PowerCooker for Christmas.  I'd been eyeballing them for a while, and just before Christmas last year, they were marked $20 off their usual price at Sam's Club for their Advantage members.** 

Fast forward seven months. 

It's hot as hell.  I don't wanna cook and heat up my kitchen.  Lots of baking's been done on the propane grill, and some skillet cooking (the lovely thing's got a side burner).  But I ran out of frozen roast slices.  Which I love for fast lunches with little bother.*** 

Even the crock pot heats the kitchen up a bit. 

Since I hadn't been cooking, I'd had some energy to do some work in the kitchen, cleaning and rearranging to free up a grounded plug in (this house doesn't have many), and only two of the plugins in the kitchen proper are grounded.  And only one of those was really accessible. 

Yeah, I got the counter cleared, got the pressure cooker pre-cleaned, and read the directions.  And then I made roast.  And then I cleaned it up again, and made another one.

And then I made my version of chicken fajitas with brown rice.  Which...didn't turn out quite as well.  Because apparently, you gotta have a heavier hand with the seasoning with the pressure cooker than you do when you make the same dish on the stovetop to get the meat to taste right.  But.  The chicken was so tender that when I tried to cut it up after I'd cooked it (from frozen), it just...fell apart.  Totally.  This thing is going to make killer pulled chicken in salsa.

And then...then Odysseus asked me, "Would that make the stew meat turn out that tender in the stew meat fajitas?"  Turns out, that was the only reason he didn't really like those as well.

The yes.  Yes, it does.  Very much.

That was delicious.

And makes four days' worth of lunch for Odysseus for next week, instead of sandwiches every day.

PowerCooker Beef Fajitas

1c brown rice
1lb-1.5lb beef stew meat
2 cans ro-tel
1/2 c water or broth (I used Sam's Choice Beef Bone Broth)

Put meat in pressure cooker (if yours has a saute-function, you can brown it with the seasoning first--I didn't bother.  Add rice, ro-tel, and liquid, stir to mix.  Fasten lid.  Use rice/risotto button, and then add time (needs about 25 minutes).  Turn around, walk out of kitchen, and wait for beep.  Go back, use the safe-release valve to release the pressure, then stir. 

If there's more liquid than you like, you can either let some of the liquid simmer out, eat it like soup (which was good, by the way), or use a slotted spoon to serve.   

*Gents.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT get your wives/girlfriends/significant others any type of appliance for a birthday or holiday unless they ASK FOR IT for that holiday.  Your safety depends on this.

**The $100/yr membership at Sam's Club has some significant advantages: frequent discounts on things you typically get anyway (like $2 off cases of ro-tel, or Nutella, or peanut butter, or other groceries), and gives you a cash reward at the end of a specific period.  We haven't paid for our Sam's Club membership out of pocket in about five years, now.  

***Fast lunch: pull out slice of leftover roast, nuke it, slap it on a Wasa cracker with some flavored mayo and cheese, and eat.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Changing the focus

Recently, I've noted some really, really, really irritating songs.  The two worst offenders are both from Papa Roach, and they are straight-up diametric opposites: "Help" and "Born to Greatness." 

The first one is naval-gazing, whining, and turns having feelings into a need for someone to help him.  Depression.  Yeah, it happens.  It happens to everyone.  It's--get this--being sad.  There are a lot of people out there who are sad.  Not as many have a genuine chemical imbalance in their brain that must be medicated for semi-normal function. 

Don't get me wrong, those people exist.  And those with chronic, clinical depression cannot function without the right medication to trick their brain into providing its own needs, or to provide the chemical needs for the brain that cannot create its own. 

However.  I'd say that the vast majority of people are simply feeling disconnected, and just need family or friends (or a talk-therapist, in a pinch, but family or friends would be better), rather than their electronic device that's creating the distance between them and others. 

The other one...yeah.  That one.  Talking about the generation of twits thinking they're entitled to anything they want, without having to work for it, just because they exist, and Mommy and Daddy think they're the best thing ever since time began.  That they, and ONLY they, can make the world better, nevermind that they're naval-gazing twits that follow already-failed theories and ideologies.  That the people that are in favor of keeping this country a republic aren't being fair, because we're arguing about what's on the menu and refusing to be eaten, while being backed up by force of law and force of arms.

Okay, then.  The most interesting thing about this is that the "Help" generation and the "Greatness" generation are the same

The scary thing is that they could be a massive force if they changed the focus.  For good or ill.  If they'd change from "what's wrong with me" to "how can I get through this to do what I need to do to get what I want," they'd have a lot more power--mostly over themselves. 

I have the distinct impression that a lot of them would look at the controls that the "feelz" types want to put on the "thinking man" and be disgusted. 

I know I was. 

When I was about fourteen, I read Orwell's 1984.  It...resonated.  This was during the period the state was using my mom as an unpaid foster parent from whom I could be removed if she so much as sneezed without permission.  I spiralled into depression, because there was literally nothing I could do--at that point--to change my situation.  I read Dune, and saw parallels between the way people worshipped the main character and the way certain types had replaced God with government, and felt worse. 

I'd seen the trap I was in.  What I didn't see was the exit.

When I was 15, I developed ulcers started having really debilitating panic attacks.  I...detatched.  I dove head-first into reading, and retreated as much as I could from reality, and the ulcers healed and didn't come back.  The panic attacks didn't.  Any time I surfaced, they were there.  So was the feeling of being trapped and overwhelmed by my reality.

Keep in mind, at this time I was still forced into weekly "supervised visits" with my abuser (and the supervisor was one of his allies).

When I was 17, I was diagnosed with depression triggered by learned helplessness.  And the counselor who figured this out?  Pointed out that I was damn near 18.  Argued to the court that I should be allowed to choose whether or not to "visit" with my abuser. 

My grades shot up.  And my panic attacks tapered off in frequency, but not severity.  But.  I learned to deal with them, and get through them.  I learned how to push them off until I had time to let it happen and get through it. 

And I got through college (with the help of my then-boyfriend for the first year of college, now-husband).  In spite of continuing panic attacks.

Without medication, since I reacted incredibly badly to it.*  Or, since I'd aged out of the system, further "professional" help. 

Because my focus had changed.  From "what's wrong with me" to "let's do this in spite of what's wrong with me."

I have the feeling that if the "mental health" industry would refocus from drugging those seeking help to teaching coping tactics (after they dope-slapped the self-absorbed out of their own egos), the far, radical Left currently throwing public tantrums would be far, far smaller. 

Although...that might be why the meds and crippling sympathy are all that's handed out.  People blinded by their self-absorption don't see the strings being tied onto them by the puppet-masters.

*Most anti-anxiety drugs made things worse.  So did anti-depressants.  And the oldest one, Prozac, removed almost all of my self-control and increased my rage to near-homicidal levels, and it took seven or eight years for me to stabilize after that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Not sure why charges were even considered.

Last week, we had an incident in the town where I live (large town--about 75K people living in the town proper plus the bedroom communities).  A pedestrian decided to try to cross one of the busiest streets in town.  Not at a cross walk.  Against the lights. 

The inevitable happened. 

The individual driving will not be charged. 

Thing is, I don't see why that was even considered.  The street in question has a 45mph speed limit, two lanes going either direction, plus a left turn lane in the middle.  Most of the people who live here don't like crossing that road.  But for whatever reason, the pedestrian decided to not just cross that road, but jaywalk through traffic.

Yes, they died.  But it was a result of their own stupidity. 

I don't know, maybe they were on a cell phone and not paying attention...but that doesn't make it any less stupid.

I honestly can't bring myself to feel sorry for the pedestrian.  Their family, yes, but not them.  That kind of stupid really shouldn't be let out on its own.  It's one of the reasons I'm trying to brainwash my kids to call stupid what it is, and to not participate in it. 

No, the person I feel the worst for is the driver.    Because they have an accidental death on their conscience, through absolutely no fault of their own (given traffic on that road, they may have saved lives by not hitting the brakes and causing a massive pile-up--even if they had time to stop, nobody around them would have been able to avoid hitting them).

The only negligence I see is that of the pedestrian, and they've already paid for that. 

Charges for the driver shouldn't have been even a brief consideration, given the rest of the facts.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bit of a rant.

I've seen a lot of people screeching incoherently about children being ripped from nursing at their mothers' breasts, and separated and put in *gasp* concentration camps!!!

What these fucktards are conveniently forgetting is one simple thing these parents could have done to prevent this from being done to their families:

Don't.  Come.  Here.  Illegally

Fucking duh

American parents who commit crimes are ripped away from their children and sent to prison.  If there are no family members available to take custody of the children, they're put into situations worse than most can comprehend: the children get stuck in limbo, in state custody and control.  They may be put into a good foster home, or they may be put with abusers who might rape them or murder them. 

And nobody screams about that. 

No, they're just screeching like fucking psychologically disturbed brain damaged monkeys about the people who shouldn't be fucking coming here in the first place, getting their children removed from them. 

Well, dumbasses, I can see another possible solution: start shooting the human smugglers on sight.  Shoot any male who crosses the border on sight.  Turn any female around, and make sure she knows there are guns aimed at her until she's well and truly back in the country she tried to cross from.  They'll stop, or they'll die out.  Either is fine by me.

No, I'm not saying I think the situation is right.  I'm saying the situation is wrong, starting with the actions of the so-called parents putting their children in the danger that the fucking window-lickers are screeching about.

I think that, along with shooting the smugglers and adult males crossing (especially those with specific tattoos), we need to publicly prosecute any hiring manager of any company that hires illegal aliens (not immigrants--immigrants are legal), and every employee of any temp agency that deals with them.  Every hiring manager needs to be sentenced to a mandatory ten years per illegal alien hired, no parole possible, consecutive sentencing only.  We need to sentence the construction companies picking up day laborers from the Home Depot/Lowes/whatever parking lots the same way. 

Hell, I'm in favor of sentencing those pushing the DACA act with the same guidelines.  

We need to make it hurt for those attracting the parasites. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Adventures in parenting

I found out, this week, why my son hadn't been using his Kindle Fire, in spite of adoring the silly thing: it had somehow gotten de-registered to the account, and the WiFi was switched to airplane mode.  NO clue how. 

I also have no clue how I managed to figure out how to fix it.  I am a barely competent user of MS Word, and of some aspects of Firefox.  My personal Kindle is a Paperwhite (which I dearly love, and which is very much uncomplicated).

Also, this week, the kids had day camp at their school: a 2 hr/day, 4 day class on using iPads.  And playing coding games. 

Yep.  Coding games. 

I am inclined to get the kids a netbook and make the home page Khan Academy.  I want them to learn to take care of their tech better than I've learned, and earlier. 

(there are also a few touch-typing game sites I'd be setting them up with) 

Other than that?  They've been playing outside with water pistols, watching TV, and doing normal kid summer stuff this week. 

Including complaining of being bored and pushing boundaries. 

I need to find something else to have them do--swim lessons, VBS, something.  I got them sidewalk chalk and Popsicle molds today (which have been filled and stuck in the giant upright freezer in the garage).  But they need more, especially while we've got mid-90s (or more) highs, and no lower than 60% humidity daily, with not enough wind to offset that.

I've got two more months and they go back to school. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Love it!

So, back in January, I got m'self a new pair of headphones.  Spent more than I usually do on headphones on them, too--around $50 for the one pair.  They're wireless-capable, but also have an audio cable jack. 

Which is why I bought them in the first place. 

Previously, my headphones had failed right where the wire goes into the jack on the end that plugs into the computer, somewhere between the three and six month mark.  The headphones themselves likely would have kept working, were it not for that one spot.  Every time. 

My headphones' audio cable broke day before yesterday.  So I unplugged the audio cable, set it up to listen to music wirelessly, and put in an order for new cables from Amazon--5' cables, rather than the dinky 3' one that came with the headphones. 

These headphones are very good in sound quality: balance of treble and bass is very good, and everything is just crystal clear.  They're incredibly comfortable, too--I have, in the past, worn them all day without winding up with my ears sore from pressure.  And, if the kids are watching something utterly obnoxious (a frequent occurance), I can unplug and just wander around doing housework with the headphones blocking out the crap they like watching. 

The replacements arrived today, and the 5' length means it's easier to work at my desk.  An extra two feet of audio cable means I don't have to sit hunched forward to listen to music.  I can lean back and stretch without either taking off the headphones voluntarily or getting them yanked off when I forget how short three feet is.  Best yet?  Four cables from Amazon (at about $8) was less than a decent set of cheap headphones (at least $15, going sharply up from there) that won't last but maybe six months. 

And then, when all four of the cables have broken, I can get another set.  Because I really doubt the headphones themselves will have worn out by then. 

And when you consider that the headphones themselves are vital writing equipment?  Massively good deal, here. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dumb dog.

So.  Yesterday, we got up as usual on weekend mornings, and found that the kids had let the dog out (also like usual on weekend mornings).

What wasn't like usual was that either the imp or pixie had messed up.  The gate was ajar.

And the out.  And vanished.

We looked for her, ran the mower (partially because it needed it, partially because we thought it'd bring her out of hiding), looked for her again, left a message with the humane society.

Found out from the neighbor that the dog catcher had been just east of us, very early yesterday morning.  So I checked the Humane Society's page again, where they post pictures of lost pets.  Sure enough--she was there.

They're closed today.  Sad dog in doggie jail's gonna have to wait for her bail-out until tomorrow afternoon.

And then, directly following, she's getting a bath and shorn like a kid going into boot camp.

Maybe not a dumb dog...maybe she planned it?  Because the bath and haircut were on the schedule for yesterday. 

Update:  Dog has been bailed out, and is home sleeping on her patio.  She rode home in the back seat of the Subaru, alternating which child's lap she was in at any given moment.  Lots of giggles and doggie kisses.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pens! And Ink! And Paper!

I've been craving new pens for a while.  And new, pretty inks.  It wasn't helped by Odysseus suggesting that the next volume in the Liquid Diet Chronicles (to be written after I finish the current project of the 4th, but CLEARLY not last Modern Gods book, at this point in the writing process) should be done in a burgundy or dark crimson.

Anyhow, I resisted the temptation...and then I gave in.  Odysseus told me to go ahead and make the order I was considering from Goulet Pens, and I did.  I ordered a Platinum Preppy because I've heard a lot about the silly little $4 pens (yeah, they're cheap, and kinda ugly, but damn do they write well), a TWSBI vac mini (it posts, was a little bit less than the full sized one, and something I'd been really wanting for a while, now), a sample of Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses (gorgeous, water-resistant red burgundy), and a full bottle of their Red-Black (which looks like you wrote in blood, and it dried).

I hadn't ordered pens or ink for myself in about a year.  And Odysseus told me that this was my early (but not by a lot) anniversary present.*

I also ordered a set of Jinhao shark pens for my imp, who held his grades to all A's and B's (with the exception of his handwriting, which is still better than his daddy's).  My imp, who loves snitching my fountain pens, and requests a few inked up with his favorite colors every so often, gave me one of his set of seven pens, and gave the pixie another.  And the dumb little things are absolutely spectacularly nice writers.  The little black shark in Chinese fine (finer than European fine) is incredibly smooth.

In any case, my fingers are ink-stained a bit, I have spatters on my left shin from where I dropped an ink syringe that I was using to fill a converter from a sample vial for the pixie, and I couldn't be happier.

In other news, my local Walmart had finally restocked their smaller Pen+Gear brand smaller 5-subject notebooks.   Hadn't happened in a while, and my current favorite is that particular notebook that I'd written out the rough of Bite Sized in (I'm excited--that book has eight reviews, more than any single one of my other books, and all are 5-star), and am working through drafting Gods and Monsters in the second section.  Walmart had three left.   


I now have those notebooks in mint green (my old one), royal blue, red, and black. 

I also snagged a package of their top-spiral memo books and mini-comp-books (same size as the little spiral books)--at $0.88 cents a pack (three in the comp book pack, four in the spiral memos), it was worth a try.  I'm shocked and thrilled by how well they stand up under fountain pen ink, and am now questioning my choice to give the kids one of each out of the two packages to go with their new composition books.

Hi, my name is HH, and I'm a pen and paper nerd.  And I share the voices in my head with anyone who wants a listen.  

*I've already collected part of his Father's Day gifts, and know what I'm doing for his anniversary presents.