Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Good grief. Watching yet another TV ad for Valentine's Day: The Vermont Teddy Bear Company's montage of sexy babes going orgasmic over being given a stuffed bear almost as big as they are (well, wider, but about as tall). And all I can think is, if anyone tried to do that to me my first thought wouldn't be "Oh, how arousingly wonderful!" but rather "And just where the FUCK am I supposed to PUT that?!?"
Friday, January 15, 2016
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Went to see an ophthalmologist yesterday afternoon, for an itchy eyelid that had been nagging at me, always feeling as if something was in that eye, grumble. Turned out to be blepharitis and dry eye, easily treatable with warm compresses and eyedrops, plus the doc recommended adding some flax oil to my diet since imbalance in fatty acids can contribute to the problem. I tried adding a spoonful to my delicious yogurt stir-ins this morning -- YUM! Well, acceptable, anyway. As part of the exam I got my pupils dilated. I had wrap-around sunglasses with me, as I'd suspected that would happen, but given how dull and overcast the day was, they turned out not to be necessary. "It'll wear off in a couple of hours," I was told. Yeah, right. I got the pupils dilated around 3:00 p.m.; they finally went back to normal a little before midnight. This was not fun. Try proofreading when you can't adjust your pupils to focus precisely.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
As part of the euthanasia process for Ted, my vet's office offered a range of options for his body's disposal. I feel the body is merely a shell for the spirit that animates it and have no sentimental attachment to remains, so chose cremation without return of the ashes. But I was intrigued by one option they let me know about: EterniTrees. It's a biodegradable urn for cremation ashes that's packaged with seeds and nutrients for the tree of your choice. http://eternitrees.com/ Noodling around the Internet, I see that's not the only company offering such services: http://www.thelivingurn.com/ - which provides a seedling rather than seeds And so on -- there are other companies out there offering these and related services. I was tempted, but have no place to plant a tree, so let it go. Still, I'm keeping it in mind, as these companies offer containers for human as well as pet ashes, and it's pleasant to think my corporeal remains might one day nourish, say, a dogwood, or a blue spruce. Certainly beats taking up useless space in the relatively sterile ground of a cemetery, eh? And you can even buy them on Amazon! Maybe I'll invest in one and give it to my executor-to-be brother so he'll have that all set when the time comes. Assuming the seeds would stay viable for another decade or two.... P.S. Can't wait to see what Google and Amazon start offering me after the searches I just ran!
Monday, December 7, 2015
And it's done. The vet examined Ted's gaunt body and found nothing overtly amiss, except a somewhat enlarged liver. Most likely? There was a tumor hidden in there. So we did what was right and he slipped away softly. I came home and threw myself into disassembly of his cage complex; a grubby hard job, but an hour and a half later, it's done -- cages cleaned, collapsed, and stored in the basement, bedding bundled up for the trash, floor vacuumed to neatness -- and a dozen-plus cat toys excavated from under the cages where they'd accumulated over the years. The other cats seemed alternately fascinated and bewildered by it all. I find it strange now, even a bit unsettling, to have so much open space where the cage complex loomed for so long. Ted was a fine cat, handsome, affectionate, easy-going, occasionally goofy. I'll miss him. Where the cage complex sat for those four-plus years, there remain deep indentations in the rug. They may disappear with time. Ted's imprint in my heart will not.
Sunday, December 6, 2015
My tribe of seven felines is probably going down to six this week. Ted, my eldest, is 17, and I've had him since he was four months old. For the last four and a half years he's been living in my living room in a gigantic cage complex because he's an inveterate house-pisser. He was happy in there, safe from some of the other cats stealing his food and bullying him, getting plenty of attention from me, charging up and down his tower for play, chilling with his friend Peanut snuggling up to him on the other side of the bars. I'd take him out periodically for snuggles, claw-clipping, brushing, and he'd be anxious to get back to his castle. Now, though, he's going downhill. For the last several months he hasn't been diligent about grooming and I've had to de-mat him a couple of times. His fur has that old-cat look to it. He was never a voracious eater; once he no longer had to compete with the others, he preferred to eat a bit, go away, come back to it; cleaning his dish usually but at his own pace. He gets wet food at breakfast and supper and always has a mix of dry foods available, much to the greedy cats' thwarted envy. Over the last month or so his appetite's become erratic, gradually diminishing, till now in the last week he's hardly eating anything; still drinking, though. He's getting gaunt; no longer jumping up to the third level of the tower in his cage complex, just spending most of his time in his lair. I’m going to take him to the vet Monday or Tuesday, and unless this is something easily fixable, with no treatment distress for him, I don’t think I’ll be taking him home. He's old and frail and fading away. I’m not going to keep him alive till he’s outright miserable, just because I'll miss him terribly. I owe it to him to do the right thing. The history: Why Ted went into prison; how he adjusted; his first set of slammer digs; the creation of his current realm: http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/teds-in-slammer-and-it… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/ted-held-hostage-day-t… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/…/finally-floodgates-ope… http://exurbanmusings.blogspot.com/20…/…/teds-new-tower.html
Friday, November 27, 2015
My shredder quit working. Yes, it was plugged in. Yes, the head was seated properly on the bin. No, it refused to work when I turned it on. Sigh.... Off to the store for a replacement. I don't need it often, but I do need it. So Wednesday I got a new one, hauled it upstairs to the office, and left it in its box till after Thanksgiving. Today I decided to move the dead shredder to the basement pending finding out how to properly dispose of it. I took hold of the cord and began to lift the head.... And the furshlugginer "on" light blinked to life. Oh, come on -- really? Yes, really; it ate the sheets I fed it. I turned it off; turned it back on; it lit up again. So I guess I have two shredders now; one old but still functional machine, one sitting in its box awaiting its turn. Oh, and remember the scanner/printer that stopped printing for a while, then magically healed itself? It stopped printing again. Still worked fine as a scanner so I left it by my downstairs workstation. Then it had to get piled in the recliner seat during the window installation. When I put it back and turned it on, it hummed, buzzed, clanked, whined, made other carriage-moving sounds -- then seized a sheet of paper and began its little in-and-out alignment dance, ending with ... a printed page. And it's been printing ever since. I daresay it will eventually quit on me again, but this time I have A Plan.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Ben is a happy horse today. He was turned out in his paddock with his lady when I got to the barn, his midweight blanket already off thanks to the warmth of the day. I put him in the indoor ring for some (relatively) wide-open spaces time. As I'd hoped, after puttering around for a while looking for just the right place, he rolled -- in a far corner close to the wall, of course (in the vast expanse of the arena, he always goes to roll there), and he managed to find the one spot, the one sole, solitary spot, in the whole ring with a road apple pile to roll into. I wasn't worried about him getting cast against the wall, since he never, ever, rolls all the way over; no, he folds down onto one side, does his wallowing, heaves himself upright, paws, and drops again to to the other side. I left him there while I went to pick some of his paddock. There weren't any horses in the stalls that flank the ring, and although he could see some turned-out horses through a window I knew he'd eventually decide he'd been abandoned to the wolves. Sure enough, after several minutes: "NNNNEEEIIIIGGGGHHHH!!!" Pause. "NNNNEEEIIIIGGGGHHHH!!!" I stopped what I was doing in the paddock and walked over to the gate, trying not to laugh (too much) at the long worried face that greeted me. The poor thing was so relieved to get back to his paddock and his tiny herd (Dora his lady, Levi across the fence). I finished cleaning part of the paddock, then clipped the leadrope onto Ben, led him into the fourstall and put him on the crossties for a long, dusty grooming -- well, dusty over most of him except for the mucky patch on his left shoulder where he'd rolled onto the road apples. He got curried, body-brushed, his forelock and mane brushed out, and a final going over with the soft brush, finishing with his face. Ben adores such pampering; he was totally relaxed and happy by the end. Also very shiny, even in his fuzzy winter coat. I put him back in his paddock, fed him his last horse cookies, and departed in a miasma of stinky horse dust.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
What a way to start my morning. So there I was, lying on my side in bed, half-awake as I wait for the alarm buzz. The bedside TV's on and the early news is droning softly but my eyes are shut. Sally's curled into my belly; Pumpkin's doing library-lion on my hip. All is peaceful.... Chaos erupts! Shrieking yowling exploding cats! A frantic hind paw slashes the side of my face as Sally bolts! I jerk upright. No cats to be seen, not even the sumfabitch (Stan or Schooner, take your pick) who'd made the sudden lunge from the floor that spooked my bedmates into panicked flight. And I'm bleeding. Oh, not very much, point-source ooze, really, and a quick lurch to the bathroom, cleanup, antibiotic dabs, and Band-Aids take care of it -- even the ding a quarter of an inch from my (shudder) eye. The alarm goes off while I'm in there working on my face, so I get to listen to its whiny beeps while I repair the damage. This is not how I'd intended to start my day.
Monday, November 16, 2015
I was visiting a friend living in Paris back a couple of decades ago. It was a time in Europe when some group or other was occasionally carrying out terrorist attacks. We were having lunch outdoors at a cafe somewhere, don't recall where, in the heart of the city, when a sudden BOOM at some small distance jolted us and the diners around us. People looked around, wondering. There were nervous titters, some neck-craning in the direction of the blast. I exchanged a grimace and shrug with a woman at a nearby table. Then we all quietly went back to our meals. Because, really, what else was there to do?
Monday, November 9, 2015
So what did I do today? I rode a horse, that's what I did. I rode Finnegan -- Finny to his many friends -- one of Hilly's schoolies. I hadn't thought I'd ever get on another horse after Royal, what with the massive collection of issues I have about riding these days, physical and mental, but Finny has a sterling reputation for safe, safe, SAFE. Plus he's only about 14.1 hands high. In his winter coat. If you don't pick out his hooves first. He's got a red-brown pinto coat complete with long red forelock on a Fjord-style body (but maybe rounder in the barrel, I kid you not). So, not very far to the ground, and he's built round and stumpy-legged and sturdy, well up to my weight, plus my Aussie security-blanket saddle fits him perfectly. So, firmly tamping down the usual butterflies, I groomed Finny, tacked him up (let Hilly bridle him since he can be a bit of a pill about that), then took him in the ring and got aboard. He stood politely for mounting (well, Hilly was at his head, but he didn't give her an argument about it) and walked off when requested. I liked his walk; it wasn't Ben's spider-legged big but it was larger than Royal's had been. After a bit I tried some trotting. Now, I'd been warned that Finny has an amazingly big trot for such a tiny tub, a sort of downsized-Warmblood effect, and he certainly had a lot of energy in it. I found it to be more vertical than forward, though Hilly told me he does tend to dog it in the ring and moves out more on the trail, but I could easily post to it, in fact I found it just as easy to sit to it despite its vigor. He was fun! After ten or fifteen minutes I asked Hilly if we could ride out, and off we went -- down the driveway, along the road, and up a small side street as far as the driveway up to Yellow House field. Walking all the way, since I was getting a bit tired by then and in any case we were on pavement, but Finny was solid and sensible and clearly wanted to stick right by Hilly's shoulder. Well, as we neared the turn-around point he did try two or three times to see if I'd let him turn for home, but submitted without fuss when I legged him back in line. He also gave me one tiny spook -- one quick head-up step to the side a rank beginner could ride through, then back to placid. He's very good off seat and leg and stops Right. Away. when told "Whoa." I like that in a horse. By the time we got back I'd been aboard for about 25 minutes, and even at mostly a walk my fat old self had had enough -- but what a delightful ride it was! I definitely want to do this again. Oh, and Hilly took a couple of photos with her phone of me aboard him but hasn't sent them yet. I'm going to take a camera to the barn tomorrow and try to get a shot or two of him. He's really adorable.
Monday, November 2, 2015
I’ve got horse stuff. Lots and lots of horse stuff. Years and years of accumulation cluttering up my basement and garage that’s in fine shape but will never be used by me again. So today I wiped down a bunch of tack, dusted off a bunch of other horsey stuff, and drove it all over to Windrush Farm to donate. To wit: three English saddle pads one foam pad five English bridles with snaffle bits two Western bridles with snaffle bits two leather English girths one pair of stirrup leathers one plastic tote of summer weight breeches (around eight) one plastic tote of winter weight breeches (around six) one pair winter insulated overall pants one barn jacket one rain jacket one fleece vest one heavy winter horse blanket two rain sheets one fleece stable blanket one fleece cooler sheet two bucket heaters one hay bale bag No partridge in a pear tree – wouldn’t fit in the car. The woman who helped me unload all this from my car was thrilled. She said a lot of the breeches could be used for their clients who didn’t have/couldn’t afford pants for riding, and most everything else would be useful in their program too. What isn’t can go to an auction to raise money. And I’ve still got enough stuff that another trip isn’t such a bad idea. It was a lovely drive through lovely New England fall color back country, after all.... Windrush Farm: http://www.windrushfarm.org/
Monday, October 12, 2015
Ben is a bad boy. Behind that innocent obedient facade lurks mischief. I visited Ben today, pulled him out of his paddock for a long, relaxing grooming, fed him cookies, and put him back out. Then I sat for a while in my car, doing stuff, when.... Bang. Bang. Not loud, not fast, but bang... bang... from the direction of Ben's paddock. I looked out the windshield over toward the paddock gate. There was Ben, standing parallel to the fence, pushing his nose in between the gate and gatepost, shoving at the gate. The chain and snap fastener held, though the gatepost wobbled with each shove. I'm told that Ben makes a habit of testing his gate to see if it's been left unlatched, and has been spotted more than once ambling about the barnyard, nibbling grass or headed for his stall, where he knows there's hay waiting. Apparently (I've never been there to witness it), being an elderly fellow who cares more for fodder than freedom, he doesn't take off running when he's escaped, just goes in search of food. This behavior is even more clever than you'd at first think, since the gate opens inward and he'd have to figure out how to maneuver it out of his way, rather than just shoving it forward. I wonder whether Ben bothers when there's snow covering the grass.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
The window man is coming on Thursday to final-measure the windows for manufacturing; I’ll also be able to discuss with him exactly what needs to be cleared away for the installers to work. But why not get a jump on that? I’ve already taken down the blinds, after all. What’s next? What’s next, yesterday, was hauling out from under the living room windowsill a small three-shelf VCR cartridge storage thingie; plucking out the few tapes I wanted to save; bundling up the rest to chuck out; hauling all the chuck-outs and the shelves to the basement. Then it was on to the tall narrow black bookcase where I kept more VCR tapes. I took them all out and dragged that to the dining area on the front side of the condo. There I pulled out a three-tier wicker corner shelf from where it nestled next to a three-tier glass-front bookcase; took everything off it, sorted out the keeps/chucks, cleaned it, and found it a new home in a niche next to the china cabinet. (It just fit!) I pushed/pulled the glass-front bookcase and the two-shelf open bookcase next to it (without removing the books) a few inches along the wall, slid the black bookcase into the vacated space, carried all the saved tapes from the living room to the dining area, sorted them into categories, and reloaded the bookcase. Did some dusting and cleaning of every thing and area I’d worked on, and there it was! More prep work done, and the attacked areas looked more open and airy and light. I looked at the dining table. Hmmmmmmm..... But no. Not right then. Had other things to do and I was tired anyway. Today, though; today I decided to go ahead and take the central leaf out of the table. After all, it’s just me here, right? It’s not like I’m throwing dinner parties, after all. So I cleared away all the stuff that had accreted on the table (it’s such a convenient place to put stuff down when I come in, after all), wiped it down, then tugged the sections apart and heaved the heavy leaf out. Got it propped next to the closet, then turned back to reassembling my now circular little table; put a judicious selection of stuff back into place; disposed of or rehomed other stuff; and put the two least-damaged chairs back under it. Ah, yes; least damaged chairs. I inherited the dining set from my mother, who did not have cats. The seats are upholstered, now sadly stained, scratched, and cat-haired; the backs had once had woven wicker inserts, now more or less shredded. Time to replace them! I’ve found an all-wood, hopefully catproof set online at a reasonable price and will be ordering them: Arlington side chairs, black back and legs with a java seat. The veneer on the table is either walnut or dark-brown fruitwood, so they should look okay with it. So I horsed the two immediate-reject chairs over toward the basement stairs, then turned to put the leaf into the front entry-area closet, opened the door, and.... Half an hour later, the closet floor was swept, the leaf was propped up inside, the Shark vacuum was back in place, and several years’ worth of old plastic UPS delivery-protection bags (you never know when they might come in handy!) were out, either stuffed into one bag for recycling or stuffed with the jackets, scarves, gloves and so forth I’d hauled out of the closet, decided I’d never wear/fit into again, and bundled up for the St. Vincent de Paul collection bins at the church just down the street. I threw all the bags down the basement stairs, then horsed down the chairs one by one. Now the bags are in the car, the chairs are in the back of the basement waiting for their turn on trash day (only one large item other than the barrel per pickup, so I’ll be doling stuff out for a while), and I am done. Well, except for tweaking the area rug under the dining table, trying to get rug, table, and chandelier all aligned just right. But other than that, and deciding to wait till tomorrow to vacuum.... Holy guacamole, what a difference in the dining area! So much more room! So much more open and airy and bright it seems! The table looks tiny and I’ll have to get used to that, but it’ll be good discipline to not let stuff accumulate. Not sure how the cats feel about it, though. Some of them like to perch on top of the china cabinet, and to exit therefrom by leaping down to the table. That’s not going to work so well now – it’s a smaller target and farther from their launching pad. Oh, well.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
I'm going to have seven double-hung windows replaced in my condo, 30+ year old windows that desperately need it. The sale's been made, the installer will be coming out shortly to take final measurements, and then it will be about eight weeks to get them fabricated to be installed in probably mid-December. Meanwhile, six of the seven are in pairs with blinds that I inherited from the previous owner. Those blinds would need to come down before the new windows can be put in, and the installers don't do that. Given the privacy of my location, sun direction on either side of the building, and so forth, I don't really need them, so might as well take them down now. I kind of dislike them anyhow -- not the bitter hate I have for the old windows, drafty gaps, difficult opening/closing, clumsy metal storms and all, but a casual contempt for their dust-collecting uselessness (the cats have chewed half the cords into oblivion). Now, taking them down would be a pain in the butt, awkward, and not easy for my fat old self. So I called a contractor who did some minor job for me a few years ago to ask if he'd do it. Sure, he said, but I don't have my appointment book here. I'll get back to you. Yeh, right. That was several days ago. Screw that. I'm tired of obsessing over it; I'd like to move on to some new target for my OCD, please. So this morning I hauled the stepstool out of the garage, brushed the cobwebs off it, grabbed a couple of screwdrivers, and DID. IT. MYSELF. It was indeed an awkward pain in the butt, a strain for my fat old body, I’m sneezing from all the long-neglected dust, I need to change my clothes, my hands are still trembly from the effort – but it’s DONE. The windows are revealed, the hanging plants are back up, and the carcasses are tied up into one long filthy bundle in the basement, awaiting disposal. I just hope the trash truck will take them away tomorrow morning.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Self-indulgence tonight: I'm treating myself to some aged Gouda. Very aged Gouda. Gouda so aged, it's firm and crumbly when you cut into its intense yet soft orangeness inside the rind; smooth and yet crunchy with crystallization; and the flavor? Deep, rich, complex, worlds beyond any common supermarket Gouda you've ever had, a vintage wine compared to grape juice. I eat it in tiny nibbles, to stretch out the ecstasy as long as possible. This... is Gouda for the gods.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Two weeks ago this once-feral kitten teetered at death's door: nine weeks old but the size of a kitten half that age, thanks to starvation and the infection burning in the stumps where his lower hind legs should have been -- limbs most probably chewed off at birth by his mother as she bit through the umbilical cord likely wrapped around his feet. He should have died then; he should have died any time in the weeks that followed; but he refused to quit. He was mere days away from dying when rescued, a feeble, frightened, grubby bag of tiny bones somehow hauling himself through the forest; nursed back to health by his incredibly dedicated fosterer and her equally devoted vet; and now? Now he's getting pudgy. Now he's bright-eyed and fluffy and playful and throws tiny tantrums when his human mom leaves him. His stumps that oozed pus from skin broken where bone poked through are healed over and he scoots along on his two front feet with pushoffs from his right stump, almost as fast as a normal kitten. He's discovered stair-climbing. And now he's learning a new skill, thanks to great-hearted well-wishers who made him his very own tiny wheelchair. And yes, I teared up watching this. I've been following his progress since he was brought in to his foster home, scared, bewildered, in pain, and near-moribund. It still beggars belief that he survived at all, let alone came to thrive. He still has far to go on his recovery, but now I believe he'll make it to a happy, healthy life. Because he doesn't know he's handicapped. He just knows he's fed, sheltered, loved, and having lots of kitten fun.
Friday, September 4, 2015
I haven’t done much cooking in many years, preferring to subsist on salads and the superb prepared foods I can get at the Ipswich Shellfish market, and I was but an indifferent cook when I did do my own meal prep, but lately I’ve ventured into something so simple even I could do it: frittatas. Armed with “The Good Egg” cookbook, a previous impulse purchase that had been gathering dust for some time, I made my first attempt in an old Joyce Chen pan that was supposed to be nonstick. It wasn’t, alas, at this stage in its life, and I ended up with something far more akin to scrambled eggs, but tasty, filling, and surprisingly easy other than the stuck-on residue. I did not, needless to say, try flipping my frittata, just scavenged a lid from some old pot to cover the pan for finishing. (Why, yes. Yes, I do have quite an assortment of kitchen stuff – after all, I’ve had decades to accumulate cookbooks and gear for my random spasms of cheffing.) So – fast, easy prep, fast easy cooking, and good to eat, but that pan just wasn’t doing the job. I needed something better. Once again, Google was my friend, Amazon was my connection, and today I received my prize: a Cuisinart frittata pan set, two interlocking nonstick pans to make cooking and flipping your frittata a snap! The pans: http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-FP2-24BK-Frittata-10-Inch-Nonstick/dp/B0078P9D5S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441337680&sr=8-1&keywords=cuisinart+frittata+pan And a heck of a good buy they were, too, less than half of list price. I’d used a wooden spoon so far but that was clumsy and not the right tool, so with the pans I bought an Oxo omelet turner: http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Omelet-Turner/dp/B00A2KD8LQ/ref=pd_sim_79_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=0JGQ0SQP4JWGBK0FK6FG&dpSrc=sims&dpST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_ And so, geared up properly at last, I set about making a frittata to my own recipe: chopped scallions, chopped mushrooms, matchstick carrots, diced sun-dried tomatoes in oil, and a small chicken sausage, also chopped, sautéed together in a bit of olive oil, then covered with the beaten eggs and gently cooked. And it worked! Nothing stuck! The Oxo omelet turner had just the right flexibility to slide along the curve of the pan’s side under the hardening egg, just the right stiffness to manipulate it, to let liquid egg flow out from the center under the raised edge. Shortly before the frittata was ready to flip I sprinkled it with grated Parmesan and some chopped avocado, cooked it another minute or so, then fitted the second pan on, flipped the whole thing over, and voila! The frittata spiked the landing. A bit more time on the fire, and it was done. And it was PERFECT. Also delicious. And the pans cleaned up in a jiffy. That “Good Egg” cookbook has quite a few frittata recipes to explore. Why, armed with my magical Oxo flipper, I might even try making an omelet!
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Oh, Peanut! You poor thing! He was lying on top of Ted's cage annex with Squash, stretched out on his side, oozing, oozing over the edge.... And fell with a massive THUD flat on his massive side. And lay there looking stunned for a bit. Then rolled onto his back ("I meant to do that"), then sat up, and has just leaped back up to snuggle into his buddy, purring loudly. Some few but sufficient inches from the edge.
Friday, August 28, 2015
This is my living room proofreading setup, established in the months leading up to my hip replacement in early 2013, when sitting in a task chair for hours in my upstairs office became too painful. It began with one laptop and one printer/scanner and has grown to this -- all of which gets used; it's not just OCD spare-hoarding. That's Schooner in the recliner, right where he insists on burrowing even when I'm in there, though with me he prefers lying on his back, the better to snag my arm for attention. That blue cylinder next to him is the pillow he reposes on when I'm hogging most of the seat. My lapdesk and the pillow it rests on sit atop my proofing draft pile (not much in this photo) on the old revolving bookcase scavenged from a family attic many years ago. The rear laptop runs the printers/scanners and sends/receives jobs; the front laptop handles the Google research, backs up email, does photo editing, and in general is surf city. It can also run the printers/scanners if necessary. The printer/scanner in this June photo's foreground is the infamous Epson, so prone to scanner failure and eventual demise, now banished upstairs to mere rarely-used backup printer existence. Its replacement is the Lexmark it traded places with, yes, the very machine whose printer function died, then mysteriously revived sua sponte. Why, yes -- yes I do have a lot of hardware. Well, why not? If it needs replacing but is still useful for something, why throw it out? This is why I still have an XP desktop in the upstairs office, vintage 2004, no longer online but still faithfully performing a handful of tasks. In the lower left corner is a corner of Ted's cage complex. And yes, that's a TV remote on the chair arm; my television sits opposite me, and the kitchen is only steps away. It's true I still find it uncomfortable, even now, to sit for long in the upstairs office, and the afternoon sun streaming in through its west-facing windows makes it hot in summertime, but that's not the only reason why I continue to do most of my work here.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
You'd have to be of a certain age to remember this -- in-ground garbage pails. We had one by the back door of the house I spent most of my childhood in, and used it until eventually installing what my grandmother called "the pig in the sink" -- a garbage disposal. Now, after decades of using a disposal, I save all my food scraps in a countertop collector for the town's compost program, scraps which join the litterbox gleanings in a wheeled bin to be picked up weekly, and am loving it -- but it does amuse me to think on how retro it all is, in essence. Here's a neat short description and image of garbage pails I found online: http://www.dorchesteratheneum.org/page.php?id=2591
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Windows 10: Should you accept the free upgrade of your current OS? I bought a lower-end ASUS notebook on deep discount with 8.1 on it, just to test it out before potentially borking any of my Win7 workhorses. Good idea. I learned a lot, including: 1. I hate Windows 8.1. I had a helluva time finding anything, I couldn't get email to work at all, the supposedly prepaid year of Office 365 refused to recognize it was allowed. No preloaded antivirus showed up when I started using it, so I downloaded and installed AVG -- and then, finally McAfee (it had to be McAfee, of course) showed up and started nagging me. Getting anything configured the way I wanted it was a tedious struggle. I put Classic Shell on it, which helped, but it was still a pain to use. After a while I was able to get Windows Livemail working, so there was email, and I did get a Kindle reader and my e-library downloaded to it, at least all the unread volumes. 2. So after a few days of picking away at the thing, I tried downloading and installing Win10. And failed twice because there wasn't enough free memory (9 gigs!) to do it. So I toddled off to Staples to get a thumbdrive -- 16 gigs for 12 bucks, such a deal -- plugged it in, and tried again. 3. Success! Well, eventually. The process took so long that I got an apologetic "This is taking a bit longer than normal, but..." message after a while, but eventually it finished. I turned it on, to a much handsomer welcome screen than before, logged in, and started checking it out. Stuff worked. Classic Shell came up immediately when I logged in instead of the execrable Start screen with all those excitingly asymmetrical icons. I played with it for a bit, then turned it off and unplugged the thumbdrive; turned it back on.... And it would not function. "Internal log-in failed" or some such message appeared on the Black Screen of Doom. I tried variations of with/without thumbdrive, turning on and off, got the error message a second time, then even worse -- a BSofD with a frozen cursor that would not go away when I pressed the on/off button. Just sat there staring blankly back at me, thumbing its useless thumbdrive at me. I called Staples tech support, since that's who I bought it from, and after a while got a real live tech to unburden myself to. As we talked, I tried yet again to turn it off -- and off it went! I turned it back on, and there it all was, functioning just fine, thankyouverymuch. The tech and I agreed it probably will have to live forever with the thumbdrive stuck in it since its factory-born memory just hadn't been enough. 4. So now it's cruising nicely. When I log on I'm taken right to Classic Shell. Livemail works fine. Firefox works fine -- although I still have some issues with bookmarks and toolbars, but nothing I can't live with. If I get around to hooking up Sync that could solve them, in fact. Just one little problem: I turned on the upstairs desktop this morning for the first time since before noodling with the notebook yesterday... and discovered a number of emails I should have received didn't arrive. I knew I'd gotten them on my laptops, so why? Turns out, when I dug deep into the notebook Livemail settings, that the box for "Remove emails from server after deleting" was checked -- and the missing emails had indeed been deleted from the notebook inbox after I'd checked that Livemail worked. So I unchecked that box, made all same-same as the laptop I was checking settings against, and forwarded what I needed to so that the desktop could receive them. Hopefully it's all good now -- and I don't plan to do email on the notebook any time soon, just in case. So, bottom line, after all that? I will be noodling around some more in Win10, see how I like it, but barring any more nasty surprises, it seems to work well. Still, I don't think I'll be upgrading my Win7 machines any time soon; they suit me just fine as is, and I'm not sure they'd have enough free memory to do it without adding thumbdrives to them, too.
Monday, July 27, 2015
I have a Lexmark S515 printer/scanner, pretty good at the scanning part though it does occasionally eat a page, an ink hog, as most inkjets are, but a decent printer otherwise -- or it was, till I started getting error messages that there was something wrong with the printhead, and that function quit working. I looked up the error message and followed the manual's cleaning instructions. Nope. I Googled and discovered this model has had a widespread problem with its printhead. The recommended solution was to download and install a firmware fix. Downloaded, installed. Nope. Same error message, but at least I could hit the "OK" button to dismiss it and the scanning function would still work. In desperation, I looked for a replacement printhead. None available from Lexmark since this model has been discontinued, but I did find some aftermarket parts online. I knew even as I ordered a new printhead that this would probably end in tears, but dammit! I had, of course, just bought several new ink cartridges for the thing just before it went wonky on me, so what the hell. The replacement printhead arrived. I transferred the ink cartridges to it, noting that they seemed somewhat looser in their wee slots than in the original, then installed the printhead. Yikes! Never mind getting an error message that there's a problem, see instructions; now, with a despairing screek, the printhead carriage jammed in place and I got a new message that the printhead can't move at all. Well, duh, I noticed that. Not to mention, now the whole thing seized up and nothing on the machine would function. Sigh. I took out the dud, stuck the cartridges back in the old printhead, and reinstalled it. Still got the first error message, but at least I could dismiss it with an "OK" and the scanner would work again. So we went on, my scanner/not-printer and I, turning it on each day, getting and dismissing the same error message and scanning with it -- until today. Today, as it warmed up, it made a lot of unfamiliar noises that went on and on beyond the usual warmup time. And what's this message? "Aligning the printhead - paper may move in and out - do not turn off printer"? Wait, what? And! Paper fed into it. And!! It did indeed move in and out. And!!! It printed. It printed! All those little rows of boxes, in black, in color! Well, in fact, it cycled twice through its alignment dance, then rested, done. Could it be? Could it have healed itself? I set up a draft and asked it to print one page -- just one page, baby, can you do it? YES! I told it to print the other 107 pages, and away it went. The print was a bit defective for the first 40 or so pages, then it paused, made odd noises (cleaning its nozzles, perhaps?), and when it resumed the print was perfect. I was, and still am, gobsmacked. Machines just don't get better on their own. But this one did! Delayed-onset firmware fix? A kindly gremlin passing by? Dunno, but I'll take my miracles where I can find them, you betcha. Of course, now I'm afraid to turn it off.
So proud American patriots are taking up arms to stand guard outside recruiting offices, defending them against dastardly attacks. What could possibly go wrong? Well.... http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/07/23/recruiting-center-shot-fired.html Methinks if somebody's looking to light up another recruiting office and sees one of these guys out front, that'll be his first target, taken by surprise and most likely blown out of the way before Our Hero can react heroically, adrenaline jag spurting through him as he pumps bullets in the general direction of the attacker. Not that these guys are going to last more than a handful of weeks before the waning adulation/attention of passerbys and growing boredom of it all thins their ranks to oblivion. For damn sure ain't nobody gonna be out there in the north in January.