Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.


 Contact me at yetanotherjournal (at) mindspring (dot) com

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» Monday, June 30, 2008
Reminder
Well, at least in the GPB area: new History Detectives episodes begin tonight.

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» Sunday, June 29, 2008
On the Sunset Side of the Street
From 6 through 7 p.m. we had a front go through. It rained some, a little thunder.

About 8:50 p.m. John Adams ended and I got up from the couch to take my pill, only to see a bright light streaming in the front door.

This is the picture I took from the doorway:

Sunset on June 29, 2008

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Busy Sunday
I asked James this morning, "Why is the door to the spare room closed?"

He explained that he couldn't sleep last night and had been online researching places to find converter boxes where we could use our coupons before they ran out on Wednesday. Since we had gone to bed at 3 a.m., he had been up in the really wee hours of the morning. I asked, "Well, if we can't find one with an analog pass-through, what's the best one we can find that doesn't have it? And can we buy it online or do we have to go out and look for it again?"

So as we were waking up this morning, he bounced around a little on his computer and discovered some likely prospects at Best Buy and H.H. Gregg, so even before we ate breakfast, we went there. Both were out of boxes, but at Best Buy I did get a copy of Disney's Johnny Tremain to watch on the Fourth (or the night before).

Then we went down to Ikea as planned and had lunch. I was feeling a bit "blah" and ate my chicken marsala without thinking about it much. We were here to buy a "Benno" CD/DVD organizer, which we did get to replace a "Billy" of the same two out of three dimensions (15 inches wide and 42 inches high) but with a greater depth which is set between the two wider but lower Target CD/DVD shelving units (unfortunately not made anymore).

James had found online that the Target stores around us did not have converter boxes, but the Target in Buckhead had some in stock, one which had gotten a "B" type review, and another, a GE, which was more of "B-." As we emerged from Ikea he asked if I wanted to try and I said I was feeling quixotic, so, sure.

Traffic in Buckhead hasn't changed, but the neighborhood sure has! The big Colonial and ranch-style homes on West Paces Ferry are slowly being knocked down to make room for McMansions. There are more "English manor homes," "Italianate executive homes," and "Neoclassical estates" than ever. When we reached the corner of West Paces and Peachtree Road, my jaw dropped. The line of bars that used to stretch from East Paces Ferry to Buckhead Avenue have been mowed down except for the building on the corner where the newsstand used to be when we worked there and which is now the home of "the Geek Squad." The property is being reconstructed as luxury condos. More restaurants down East Paces were gone, too, like the Rose and Crown. People just aren't going bar-hopping anymore and the people in Buckhead were getting tired of the drunks and the occasional murder.

Anyway, we did get the boxes, but a woman had beat us out of getting both of the same kind. There was only one left of the box that had gotten the better rating; the rest were GEs. So we got one of each.

On the way home we stopped at Costco for me to indulge myself. Last week when we were in Sears I saw the new Panasonic DVD recorder/VHS combo, the DMR-EX485V. It does all what my existing unit does, and it also plays all DVD formats, plays DivX format disks, USB devices and SD disks. Best of all, it it is supposed to play via HDMI and upconverts all DVDs to 1080p format. We have noticed how bad some of our older DVDs look on the new television. They looked fine on the other TV, which was also 1080i, but this one is more sensitive. Even with component cables, many of the professional movies look terrible—The Rocketeer is particularly bad, although reviews of the DVD state that. Anyway, Costco's price was much less expensive than Sears, plus I had a $40 off coupon.

We arrived home wiped out from the humidity (we had some rain later in the evening, but nothing major except a killer sunset—see photo!), but set to work at once. I assembled the Benno and emptied out the Billy and put the Benno in its place and restocked it. Plenty of room for our documentaries and Rick Steves travel videos and the few special videotapes: our wedding, some censored wartime cartoons, Star Trek bloopers, etc., plus the unit does not stick out as much as the Billy did. I moved the Billy into our bedroom next to my 15" wide, 72" tall Billy where I keep my favorite books: all my Madeleine L'Engles, Gladys Tabers, Mary Stewart's Merlin books, The Open Gate, and the Harry Potter and Owly books. This re-purposed bookcase now holds all my to-be-read books—and it's full! I had to put the three annotated Sherlock Holmes books under my nightstand.

While I worked at this, James set up both of the converter boxes, one on the television in the guest room and the other on the television in his hobby room. The pictures are spectacular compared to what we get on regular antenna. He also mounted the behind-the-door rack on the closet door downstairs.

We had "pot lucks" for supper and watched part 2, "Independence," of John Adams. We're great fans of 1776, but of course that is a stage musical with all the trappings of a stage musical, and this was a much more accurate and inevitably engrossing look at how the decision for independence might have gone. I also liked the way they juxtaposed the debate over independence against scenes of Abigail running the farm alone, watching the battle "from atop of Penn's hill," and having herself and the children inoculated against smallpox.

In addition, the score is wonderful. We looked for the CD today at Best Buy, but did not see it.

I haven't done anything with the Panasonic yet, but I have read the manual. Hope it's as good as the one I have.

Anyway, I have finished doing my part in stimulating the economy! It's someone else's turn now.

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Is Willow a Cat?
Here's James trying to type on the EeePC last night. As you see, he had some competition. :-)

James typing with Willow interfering

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» Saturday, June 28, 2008
Saturday Projects
James had his IPMS meeting today and instead of traipsing about wasting gas, I started a long-neglected project: trimming the physical bulk of my pre-recorded DVD collection. These are either in two-DVD or three-DVD cases, both the same size as a regular DVD case as might come with a pre-recorded movie. I am first trying to arrange the DVDs so that more of them are in three-DVD collections. I consolidated three double collections of The American Experience into two triple cases, and about five double cases of various Christmas things into three triples. This involved making new covers for each of the DVD cases, which took the longest, and then updating the DVD list in Paradox. I was also able to toss one DVD, my hideously snowy copy of Eleanor and Franklin: the White House Years.

Once I've "compressed" as many DVDs into triple cases as appropriate, I will then transfer to slim-line cases all the sets that will pretty much stay as double-case sets, like my Brooklyn Bridge episodes. Since there are four disks, I can't consolidate them into triples. The two slim-line cases will take up the space of one regular case.

Hopefully when I get done I'll have a lot more room since my pre-recorded Christmas DVDs are beginning to overflow! :-)

When James came home we went to Sweet Tomatoes for supper—lots of nice salad! Then we hit Bed, Bath and Beyond. I bought the dryer balls as planned and also one of those wire shelving units that mount on the back of doors. We want to store more groceries downstairs.

(James pulled out the older microwave from its shelf on the baker's rack before he left for the meeting and I wiped it out thoroughly, although it was clean. We will take it to Goodwill the next time we go to the hobby shop. We can't use it and it's just taking up room. We put the breadbox in its place and it's amazing what a nice empty space that makes. Now there's more room for food prep.)

Made a few other stops, then went to Sears at Town Center to see if they might have any converter boxes. No dice, and the clerk told us they were hoping for a shipment Tuesday but weren't holding their breaths, because the manufacturers of the boxes are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Nevertheless, we went home by Walmart, which had had converter boxes a few weeks ago, but not the analog-pass ones that James wanted. They were out and had a sign talking about the manufacturing delay.

We even went by the WallyWorld closer to our house. They did have one in stock, but it was the display unit and they wouldn't sell it to us.

So we were finally home and watched the first part of John Adams. Wonderful performances! Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney give me a real sense of a colonial married couple. But I am most staggered by the sets...the first scene with John riding into a snowbound Boston sets the whole mood for the series; it really looks like Boston in 1770. The seaport scenes are stunning. Plus I noticed things like the Adams house; usually these sets are so picture perfect and untouched. In this the paint is worn on the doorframes and the doors and along the baseboards, there is soot around the part of the chimney that soot would be on, the wainscoting is worn...it looks like a home, not like a set. The townspeople have bad teeth.

And tarring and feathering is shown as horrible as it really is.

Some Remember WENN regulars are in the cast. In the first part (and I assume in future parts) Tom Beckett (Mr. Foley) appears as Elbridge Gerry, the gentleman that "Gerrymandering" is named after. John Bedford Lloyd (Victor Comstock) plays a small but pivotal role as a witness at the Boston Massacre trial in which Adams defends the British soldiers. Hugh O'Gorman (Jeff Singer) appears in a future part.

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Veggietales
Well, almost. :-) We did go to the farmer's market on Marietta Square this morning, and decided to look around before buying the luscious tomatoes we saw on the first table. Well, by the time we got around (about 20 minutes), they were gone. Another stand had some less-likely looking tomatoes that would have ripened fine left on the windowsill—also gone. Live and learn. Next time we set the alarm for 8:30 and get there when they open at nine.

We did get one green pepper (neither of us can eat them without getting sick, but they give a nice flavor to chicken and pork cacciatore when cooked in the sauce), some really nice baseball-sized onions, a small jar of honey (we don't use that much, but our last jar was running out), a very small "ladyfinger" baklava for dessert tonight (we'll split it; just one taste was sweet enough), two organic chocolate cookies for another dessert, and a nice crusty loaf of French bread from a local bakery, which we used to make sandwiches with the Trader Joe's chicken salad when we got back home.

There was a gentleman there selling rain barrels and for $25 he also installs them. I think we are going to take up that offer. There's a rain barrel kit at Lowe's which is the same type barrel, except black and you have to install it yourself (although they give you the whole kit). All we would have to buy with this guy's unit is a couple of concrete blocks to put it on, and his comes with two spigots, one at the bottom and one at the top.

I really want the rain barrel now because someone was there selling Japanese maple saplings on behalf of the Boy Scouts. I really want a Japanese maple for our front yard. We can even name it "Tree San." :-)

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» Friday, June 27, 2008
In the Stormy Sea
I'm watching Mother Carey's Chickens, which I recorded ages ago from TCM and never watched. I thought I had seen it before, but I haven't. The story is simple: after the death of Captain Carey during the Spanish-American War, Mrs. Carey and her four children rent and fix up a dilapidated old country house they fell in love with before the death of the Captain.

If the story sounds familiar, Walt Disney filmed it in the early 60s as Summer Magic, with Hayley Mills as oldest daughter Nancy. Some liberties were taken with the original novel, including omitting one of the Carey children, sister Kitty.

This 1930s version includes Kitty, played by Ruby Keeler, whose usual ouvre was musicals, but again takes some liberties with the story. In this version, prissy cousin Julia does not appear, and Nancy (played by Anne Shirley) and Kitty are rivals for the young schoolteacher Ralph Thurston (who initially plays them very carefully off each other, then falls for Kitty, to Nancy's dismay). The Careys open the "Yellow House" (which isn't referred to as that) to boarders, including the schoolteacher; in the meantime they fend off a scheming couple who are trying to buy the house out from under them (the wife is played by Margaret Hamilton, who reprises her Wicked Witch-like role) with help from young Mr. Hamilton (who's a doctor in this outing), who's all in favor of selling the house from under the Careys, until he cures Peter's illness and begins to fall in love with Nancy. But the Fullers are determined to have the house, so Hamilton conspires with the Careys and Thurston to drive them away with tales of the house being haunted.

A child actor named Donnie Dunagan plays the youngest Carey, Peter, who is given a great deal of cutesy screen time the same as Jimmy Mathers in Summer Magic, although Jimmy is more boyish than little Dunagan. (Someone must have been promoting Dunagan as a male Shirley Temple, as the cute moppet even gets the film's fade out scene.) Popular child actress Virginia Weidler plays Lallie Joy (older brother Digby doesn't appear in the story) who is very amusing in a recitation at the Carey's homecoming party and who ends up tailing Gilbert constantly. In addition, Walter Brennan plays folksy Osh Popham, who becomes the Careys' protectors (but not as assiduously as Burl Ives' version).

I was amused to find out this film probably takes place in Rhode Island. The story opens in Newport, where the family is staying at the fictional Ocean House; they hire a carriage to take them out to the country for a picnic. Since they probably wouldn't go much further than five or ten miles away from the hotel (ten miles was considered a good day's journey back then) and there's no indication they took a ferry, it's probable that the "Beulah" of the story is either Middletown or Portsmouth!

Despite the musical interludes and missing child, the Disney version is much more faithful to the Kate Douglas Wiggin novel, down to whole bits of dialog taken from the pages, but this is an interesting artifact of family movies of that era. It's very much akin to the Five Little Peppers films, where the names remained the same but the plot was changed radically.

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Certs Walmart
Yes, two, two, two Walmarts in one morning. I went to the one on Powder Springs Road and the East-West Connector, only to still have to stop at the usual one on the Connector and Floyd Road. The first one didn't have the three things I went there especially for: the low-carb whole-wheat tortillas, my favorite flavor yogurt, and the Carb Countdown chocolate milk. Phooey.

Incidentally, the low-carb whole-wheat tortillas we found at Kroger were horrible, dry and papery, with no flavor at all. James made thin-sliced beef last night and we had them in these tortillas. Ugh. $4.19 a package or no, I tossed out the last three. No one should have to eat anything that tastes that bad.

There is a farmer's market on the Square this weekend, from nine to noon. We should investigate.

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» Thursday, June 26, 2008
New Things
We belong to this survey thing called "E-Rewards." We get notices of surveys via e-mails and take them. If we don't get kicked from the survey for not being appropriate, we get the full amount of money as a credit for E-Rewards (sometimes it's worth up to $30); otherwise we get a token amount like fifty cents or a dollar.

The E-Rewards themselves vary. We originally signed up because they give you $15 in "Borders Bucks," but you can only get the $15 once per year. Other prizes are percentage discounts at certain websites, magazine subscriptions, food coupons, Blockbuster coupons, and Frequent Flyer miles.

The one problem with it is that there is so much we are not interested in: foodie magazines or sports magazines, even one on telenovelas, and the coupons are usually to stores where I say "Who cares?" like ones for handbags. We're not sure if it is worth it to get the 1000 flyer miles...how many of these miles do you actually need to buy a ticket anyway? Plus if you have points saved up in January that you don't spend, on February 1 they take 80 percent of them away. This is how I ended up sending a subscription to a golf magazine to an online friend and why two of our friends got a subscription to Computer Shopper from James. We also got a Computer Shopper for ourselves as well as Smithsonian magazine, and a few months ago I subscribed to Hallmark Magazine as well.

Anyway, I've been watching the points rack up again, and noticed something halfway decent for a change: Woman's Day. Then I saw that TV Guide was available again. TV Guide is pretty much a dead loss these days, but I do buy it occasionally when they do a House article. It's worth what I will pay for it—nothing.

Also, I decided to sign us up for Netflix. Our first DVD is scheduled to arrive tomorrow: the first part of John Adams. After John Adams I have The Adams Chronicles in the queue, and have also popped a bunch of British mysteries in: Rosemary and Thyme with Felicity Kendal, the first two seasons of Waking the Dead, season one of Jeeves and Wooster, and Peter Davison's The Last Detective

Plus I loaded WordPerfect Office X3 on the desktop today...well, WordPerfect 13 at least, and Paradox 11, at least; not interested in Presentations or QuattroPro...and my online organizer and the new version of AVG Free as well, and downloaded the new version of AdAware to my laptop.

Temps over the weekend are supposed to only be mid to low 80s; maybe its time to sling the bikes in the trucks and take a try on the Silver Comet Trail...

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Even Here!
Gosh, an article in the New York Times about Russell T. Davies: The Man Behind the New Doctor Who, Changing British TV

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::snort::
James stopped at Sears on his way home, since I didn't seriously expect them to call me.

They now say they have none.

I think the people in the stock room are claiming the darn things for themselves.

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Raiders of the Slow Lunch
Grrrr. Both Sears and Kmart (since they're the same entity now) told us to call Tuesdays and Thursdays to see if there were new converter boxes in. I forgot to call Tuesday, but was happy at 10:30 this morning when Sears told me they had five converter boxes in stock. I specifically asked if they were out on the shelves. Yes, ma'am, I was told. And if I come there now they will be on the shelf for me to purchase. Yes, ma'am.

So I decide to take an early lunch, get into better clothing, run to Sears. Shelves are empty. Helpful clerk checks computer for me. "Yes, ma'am, the computer says they're in stock." "But I was told they were on the shelves not fifteen minutes ago." He looks a bit nonplussed and repeats, "They are in the computer," adding "We just had a delivery truck come in. They must have been on the truck and are checked in." He then did take down my phone number and offer to call me when they finally got shelved. I'm not holding my breath. Phooey.

I'm not angry because they told me they were in. I know the minute merchandise is offloaded from the truck, it is checked off and immediately shows up on the computer. What made me angry is that I specifically asked if they were on the shelf and I was told yes. Twice. This means the guy who answered the phone didn't even bother to get off his tush and actually check the shelf, which is about seven or eight steps from his telephone. Thanks for nothing, sport.

So the trip wasn't a total loss I went next door to Costco for omeprazole, since I'm completely out and would like to eat without being sick today, plus some loretadine, the milk, and James' cranberry grape juice. Unfortunately they had no decaf tea that I could find (I couldn't find tea, period, after walking all the aisles), so that goes back on my Walmart shopping list, which gets longer by the day. There are so many things we can find nowhere besides Walmart, like the carb countdown chocolate milk James likes and the low-carb whole wheat tortillas at a reasonable price.

So now I'll have to work through my lunch hour instead of having leftover pork chops accompanied by Rick Steves and finishing the laundry.

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» Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Things You Wonder About
I bought myself a 10-pack of BIC ballpoints for use for telework. (I hate gel pens for work; they smear if you have to use highlighter on them.)

Isn't the cap over the pen supposed to keep the pen point from drying out?

If that's so, why is there a hole in the top of a BIC pen cap? Hrm...

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» Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Stalked
Going bike riding involves coming out the front door, taking a few steps to the garage, wheeling out the bikes, and zipping off to make circles of the neighborhood to the eventual tune of a couple of miles, stopping back in the driveway, wheeling the bikes back into the garage and going inside. At no time do I go on the lawn or under a tree or anywhere else "wildlife" could be lurking.

So will you tell me how when I get inside I end up having a honking big ant crawling on the shoulder of my shirt?

I swear they stalk me. :-)

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Some Women Buy Shoes...
...I buy software. Yes, I was bad. I went out and bought myself a copy of WordPerfect Office X3, Student and Teacher Edition.

It's a win-win situation; I not only get WP13, but I get a new version of Paradox, too. WP OfficeX4, which just came out, doesn't have Paradox. It has Corel Visual Intelligence instead, to "[t]urn complex spreadsheets and databases into highly visual charts and graphs that are easy to interpret." Oh, yawn, make PowerPoint clone pages. ZZZZZ. PowerPoint, the curse of the universe.

(There was a pair of shoes in the June Brit edition of Country Living for £183. Three hundred sixty six dollars for a pair of shoes you'll have to throw out in a couple of years because they're worn out? Egads!)

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Six Months Till Christmas Eve!
And, appropriately, the 2008 Hallmark Christmas Dream Book is out; check out the details in Holiday Harbour.

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Cool! Look What I Found!
Sadly, it seems like AMC will never do a legitmate release of Remember WENN. I was surprised to hear that they had turned down DVD companies who came to them asking to release the show! I can't figure out why they wouldn't take the opportunity to make some money out of an old property, since there are folks out there ready, willing and able to buy legitimate sets (which they are doing from at least half a dozen bootleg DVD outlets already). Very puzzling.

Anyway, if you miss the series, check this out:

Remember WENN: "On the Air"

If you click "More from User" at right, it appears this person has uploaded all the episodes. They are sized a bit small, but can be watched comfortably at double size in Windows Media Player. (I suspect upload speed might have something to do with the size. I remember it took me what seemed like years to upload three Lassie radio shows...and those were only 3MB!)

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» Monday, June 23, 2008
A Smarter Smart
I hadn't intended to go see the Get Smart movie after what I heard about the script, but I've heard enough reviews from other series fans that I might just want to catch a matinee. Basically it says to just let go of the series and watch it "as is." If they had to get someone to play a new Maxwell Smart, Steve Carrell certainly fits the bill. And, since it's 2008, I expected the updates that included a more sexual tone (although I could still do without the bathroom humor they say abounds—what is it with bathroom humor lately; are all today's movie and television comedy written by fifth grade boys?).

Besides, it has Alan Arkin in it...

(Some folks on the Get Smart discussion group were a bit upset that Alan Arkin said he had never watched the series and did not watch any episodes to get a handle on playing the Chief. Frankly, I'm glad. For one thing, the Max/Chief dynamic is different in this film and it would be senseless to imitate Edward Platt's Chief. Second, when you imitate sometimes you end up doing the character a disservice...can anyone say "Dean Stockwell in McHale's Navy"? [Granted, that was a mess anyway, but Stockwell's imitation of Joe Flynn was too awful for words. And I like Dean Stockwell!])

Steve Carrell makes some very nice remarks about Don Adams in this interview: Get Smart Stars Tell All.

And here's CNN's review.

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Well, Damn...
Award-Winning Comedian George Carlin Dies

And Dody Goodman as well. :-(

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» Sunday, June 22, 2008
That Was Ice
About seven o'clock we got about five minutes of pea-sized hail. It was thundering in a quite lively manner. No green skies or high wind, thankfully.

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The Tacoma Bounce
(Well, we were in James' truck all afternoon. LOL.)

We started out the morning with a trip to Food Depot for sugar-free ice cream bars. We ended up hitting both Dollar General (next door) and Food Depot and bought a lot more than we needed than ice cream, including a likely looking round steak to cook on the grill to go with the ears of corn we need to eat. We did notice there is now a little post office station next to the Dollar General; probably only open weekdays but very useful.

After we had the ice cream safely stashed, we started the bounce bit:

• Publix to recycle the plastic shopping bags

• Goodwill to donate the old bicycle, lawn mower, and scanner; once James gets it out, we will also donate the second microwave which we can't use

• Kmart to look for converter boxes; like Sears at Cumberland Mall, they are all out—we again are told to call Tuesday or Thursday since that's when shipments come in

• Trader Joe's for the usual, including the delicious chicken salad; we also got some soy/pineapple marinade for the steak tonight

• Fuzziwig's for watermelon candy; I ration these by eating no more than one a day, but was almost out—the guy was very nice and took the bin down and helped me pick through the other flavors...if Jolly Rancher hadn't quit making the solo watermelon candy packages you could get in the supermarket, I wouldn't have to "graze"

• The other Sears that used to be a Kmart (you can tell because they still sell shampoo and books)—same story, down to the Tuesday and Thursday

• Home a different way so we could stop at MicroCenter and I could finally buy a tripod (I found myself staring at $30-$40 tripods and exclaiming, "But I don't want it to take the picture for me, I just want a plain one," and I did find one for $10); also got an organizer program, some rechargable batteries, and a 4GB flash drive

• Finally Costco for gas and home to read the paper

We are having a thunderstorm right now, of course as James gets the grill warmed up!

Just found out a book Madeleine L'Engle wrote in the 1940s but could not get published has been released! Very exciting!

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» Saturday, June 21, 2008
Solo Saturday
The local branch of the International Plastic Modelers Society had a model show today, so James was up at the crack of 8:30. Well, actually, it was the power failure that woke both of us. We have these stupid pinpoint power failures every weekend, either on Saturday or Sunday morning. The power goes off for less than a minute, but it means I have to reset all the wretched clocks in the house.

James dug his camera out of the bureau drawer, only to find that both the battery and the spare were dead. That figures since he hasn't used the camera since DragonCon last September. So with great grace I offered him mine, only to feel like I was sending my child off to boarding school for the first time. LOL.

In the meantime I checked e-mail to pass a message on to someone who is trying to get on the Remember WENN chat and had some milk and a SlimFast meal bar because I wanted to get moving. I had two packages to mail at the post awful, some media going to a friend and a copy of the Ikea catalog for my mother-in-law, who has requested one four times from Ikea and hasn't gotten one yet. We forgot to take it down to her when we visited for Mother's Day.

The phone rang and it turned out to be a friend of ours who has, like us, tons of books. He was interested in just how adjustable the "Billy" shelves from Ikea were because he wanted to use them for paperbacks. I remembered I'd taken pictures of the library and we searched online together until he was able to see them.

Then it was off downtown, only to find I couldn't go straight through the square because it was blocked off for what looked like some sort of carnival. Stood in line with about a dozen others—why do they only have two clerks at the PO on Saturdays when they know there is a line out the door?—and had a convivial conversation with a guy who used to live in the Midwest and a lady who was a transplant from Los Angeles. I asked them if they knew what was going on up the street and the lady said it was a marketplace and it was now happening every Saturday. I wondered if they had fresh veggies, but I didn't stop to see because I had other things planned.

Got gas at Costco (3.869) and then went to JoAnn with my 50 percent off coupons (it was the last day of "Firefly Frenzy"), but I couldn't use them on their nice lawn chairs. I got two flameless candles instead since I've been fascinated by them since I first saw them. From there I cut up US41 on my way to Acworth. It started to rain, but didn't continue, just sputtered off and on. Drat.

On the way I stopped at a Hallmark store because I had heard a rumor that the ornament catalog might be out. It wasn't, but I saw a display case full of some neat-looking resin figurines and investigated. They turned out to be "Mary's Moo-moos," black and white Holstein cows dressed for different activities or for different seasons/holidays. They were on sale for 40 percent off.

Well, one of them just took my fancy. It was a Christmas piece, with a nightlight bulb in it like a Christmas village house. The light represented a fire in a fireplace, over which was a mantel covered in typical family memorabilia: a photo, a statue, a clock, a little barn, a milk bottle vase with greens in it, a miniature Santa and reindeer, and pine cones and greens surrounding all. Of course the photo, statue, and Santa's face were all of cows. In front of the fire slept a cat, and next to the fire, in pajamas, is the bull "Dad" with the calf "Son" on his shoulder. It was all about 5 inches high and 6 inches wide.

There didn't seem to be a corresponding cow "Mom" but they had a cute little figurine of a cow in a nightgown with a quilt over her that matched, so I bought both units. Since they didn't have the box for the fireplace unit I got it for half price. Cool. The quilt has a John Deere logo on it, but I figure I can cover it with a sticker or paint it, and the white bulb in the fireplace is too stark; I will replace it with a yellow one, or, even better, one of those flickering bulbs.

I made a quick stop at the Dollar Tree for toothbrushes and sunflower seeds, then hurried across the road to Books-a-Million. Everything was 20 percent off today to members. There wasn't much I wanted, but I did get the new Kit book and also the new Main Street. Naturally they didn't have the new issue of the British Country Living!

I did find all three of Lauren Willig's Eloise Kelly books on discount for $4 each. I had seen one at the BAM in Owensboro and thought it looked interesting.

Came home by the Kroger on Mars Hill Road, where I did find low-carb whole wheat tortillas. At $4.19 a package!!!!! Yow! Still, I got one just to tide us over so we wouldn't have to go to WallyWorld this weekend. I sauntered by the meat counter to look at the discount/sale meat and salivated over the T-bones, realizing we were going to need something for our Independence Day cookout. I was going to buy one big one, thinking we could share it. Then I though, screw that. It's Fourth of July! I bought two small ones and we can each have a lunch leftover.

Because I had the meat and not the large, insulated bag, I headed straight home, had some lunch, watched National Velvet (just because I felt like it). James arrived home around five having helped with the judging all day. He had brought some models with him and one of them won a silver medal. Also, he was laughing about a diorama that was built by Paul Crowley, one of the reporters at WXIA Channel 11 (or as folks like to call it, "11 dead or alive"). It was a reproduction of a news photo that was called "Khrushchev's Plane at Idlewild" (from the visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the United States in the 1950s, the one where they wouldn't allow him to go to Disneyland for security reasons). Parked near the plane Crowley had placed a New York police car of the era, with two patrolmen, one tall and thin, one short and plump, next to it. The number on the car was "54."

I nearly laughed myself silly.

::cough:: If you don't get the joke, I refer you to this Wikipedia page; check out the entry "theme song."

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Sadness
Tasha Tudor has passed away. She did the most beautiful artwork. I particularly remember her lovely illustrations for The Secret Garden and The Little Princess.

Tasha Tudor Memorial Website

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» Thursday, June 19, 2008
Nanny State
This morning, James pointed out some printing on top of the gallon of milk.

It says "Tilt and pour slowly."

To paraphrase Jay Leno...how stupid are we supposed to be getting that we can't figure out how to get the milk out of a plastic jug? Yeesh.

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» Wednesday, June 18, 2008
No Room at the Inn
Here's an article about the Mystery Festival in which Rupert's Remember WENN was a part. Attendees—and the organizers of the festival!—found out the host hotel was closing right before the event took place.

This was the hotel we decided not to stay at because all the reviews were so bad, although the woman profiled in this article seemed to like the place. Usually I find that there are always one or two bad reviews of every hotel, but this place had such uniformly terrible reviews that we were put off at once.

Big E's Closure Doesn't Stop Mystery Fest: Visitors Find Alternate Hotel Accommodations

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The Electronic Press
This caught my eye since a friend of mine brought her new Sony reader with her to Timegate, and another person there had a Kindle.

Are We Spell-Bound by E-books?

I've been reading e-books for ages on my PDA, which I've had for nearly six years now, but I get my books for free on Munseys.com (formerly Blackmask). Naturally, they are not new, but are old kids' serial books, pulp novels, and classics now out of copyright. I enjoy the portrait of society back then that these stories give me, even if some of it (the casual bigotry, odd ideas, etc.) isn't all that palatable.

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» Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Wheelin'
We went back to our bike riding tonight, having been pre-empted on Sunday by my fever and on Monday by James not getting home from work until 8:40; by the time we had supper it was already dark. There was a nice breeze rather than the warm pall of air of the past two weeks, so it wasn't as bad as its been. We did nearly two miles. I think we may be ready to take the Silver Comet in small doses; pity we have to get into the truck and drive there (but I wouldn't trust any of the roads from here to there, even if we had the stamina—really no room for riders on the side of the narrow roads and people just drive too darn fast).

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A Decent Format
Anyone love the film 84, Charing Cross Road based on the Helene Hanff book? TCM is showing it at 4:15 a.m. on August 7, and they are having it in its proper ratio. I bought my copy as a region 2 DVD, which was letterboxed, unlike the US release, but here's an opportunity to get a decent copy.

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» Monday, June 16, 2008
Turning Down the Heat
Well, the fever seems to have abated. Wonder where I got the bug? Sure put a damper on part of the weekend. Sleeping late and ibuprofin probably helped.

My temp is actually "normal" (98.6), which is odd because I'm usually more like 97.something due to my allergies.

Watching more of When We Left Earth...holy cats! Look at this color footage! Gemini color footage! Training footage! Wow, wow, wow!!!!

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» Sunday, June 15, 2008
A Happy Ending, Sort Of
The trip ended happily, at least. Schuyler chipped and chirped the whole ride, Willow rode pretty nicely, we were able to stop and stock up on sugarless candy at the Russell Stover store south of Nashville (we also found gas there for $3.819, so we filled up again!), and the house was okay when we got here. Me, I'm in less good shape. When we stopped at the Georgia Welcome Center, I developed terrible stomach cramps and nausea. We made it to Acworth before I had to hit a bathroom again for a few minutes, and have been in and out since we got home. It doesn't seem to have to do with the acid reflux/food sensitivity issues this time...I came home with a low-grade fever and now my temp is almost 100°F, so it seems I have picked up some sort of bug.

We had no trouble packing up this morning, although you should have seen Willow's face when we collapsed the breakdown crate. We have been accustoming her to it since we bought it, but she seemed to consider it a punishment to have to go into it. However, when we set it up in the hotel room, with her usual towel and fleece for padding, and a towel over the top to make it into a den, she went right inside, understanding it was her place. (She also liked it under the bed!)

Incidentally, we had a pretty nice room, although our reservation said we were supposed to have a king-size bed. James claimed it was a full and it didn't look like a queen, but we didn't bump together or hang on the edge like we do in a full. It was a handicap access room on the first floor right near an exit door (though our card keys never worked properly in it), so we had a shower with all the handles and a seat, and a removable shower head, which I loved. I don't know if they don't have water-flow restrictions there or this was a special shower, but the water pressure was excellent. The room was clean and neat, and although the rug was a little worn, everything else was nice and they had new, flatscreen HD LCD televisions (Schuyler was happy!). The free breakfast was very small, but did have mini muffins, waffles, bread for toast, tiny Danish, regular oatmeal, orange and another kind of juice, three kinds of cereal, biscuits and gravy, and egg patties. So we were pleased, even if it wasn't the Drury Inn. :-)

We had a pleasant time "revisiting" the parkway that led to Bowling Green since there was little traffic. Makes me wonder if wild carrot is Kentucky's state wildflower, there is so much of it along the roads.

We swapped off at the Tennessee Welcome Center, where Schuyler didn't even exhibit any panting behavior as on the inbound leg, nor did she exhibit any stress upon loading this morning. Maybe she's finally getting the hang of this? It was a good thing we swapped off because just south of Nashville I got a phone call from a friend I hadn't heard from in ages and we had a delightful chat (James even got to chat when I finally remembered how to turn the dang speakerphone on). We had no trouble with "Bonnaroo" traffic (apparently this is some sort of famous music festival). Then we stopped at the Cookeville (TN) Russell Stover store (I got a cute "sisters" photo of Willow snuggled up next to Schuyler's cage while James was in the store) and finally entered Eastern time again just west of Chattanooga.

I started driving again in Georgia despite the bathroom annoyance and we got home a little after five despite the stops.

The only fly in the ointment of coming home was discovering a note from the place we purchased our converter boxes. They are not going to be able to sell them after all. They are not charging anything to our card and we can reuse the coupon codes...but we have to find the coupons; I know we put them up, but where I don't know.

We watched America's Hanger from the Smithsonian Channel, which we recorded on the DVR, and are now watching the first part (also on the DVR) of When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions on Discovery HD while the next part records. Wow! Super color footage of the Original Seven and Mission Control.

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Well, It's Time...
...to pack up and get this perambulating ark on the road.

Hotel report later, if it matters. Now it's our job to get home safely and back to real life, which keeps us doing the things we like to do.

See you on the other side.

Safe trip, Rodney, Cindy, Maurice and Diane, Jen and Michael.

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"After the Ball is Over..."
We just arrived back at the hotel from the show. The entire night was super fun.

We headed for the theatre and the parking garage about four thirty, but were still a bit late for dinner because we forgot the tickets. We hurried back as fast as we could considering the lights were badly timed (you'd get through a green to find a red, which would turn green just as the next light turned red, ad infinitum, and then found the road blocked complete further on). But we met Rodney just as we arrived in the garage, and walked to the restaurant together. We were meeting Cindy and Jen (who flew in all the way from Seattle) that we knew, and also at the table were a couple, Maurice and Diane, from Chicago. I'm not sure how they all got together, but we had a great time talking about Remember WENN, television that we watched, what we did for a living, etc. The restaurant's name was "Famous Bistro" and the food was indeed as delicious as advertised. I looked with regret at Maurice's penne pasta in marinara sauce; after this afternoon I didn't dare have anything that rich. I had the chicken marsala instead, and was surprised at how moist they had managed to make the chicken breasts.

Finally it was getting close to show time, so we decamped and headed for the theatre. Our particular performance was held at the Jody Berry Theatre within the complex, which has a larger theatre for plays, function space, classrooms, and even a bookstore. I didn't realize until after I'd bought the tickets was that this was going to be presented as a radio play; at least half the plays presented were done as radio plays, so in the end it was like attending an ARTC performance. So we took our seats and waited and...the magic began.

We had been told the story was a combination between "Armchair Detective" and "The Ghost of WENN," and indeed, CJ's name was in the cast list, but the latter plot did not appear. We understand Rupert was writing the show right until the deadline. Instead, we are shown Betty's arrival at WENN with some additional lines and changed situations (for instance, Eugenia has a speaking part and Celia is already at the station), and some situations tossed in from other episodes, including Betty "saving" Hilary by singing "I Gotta Sing." Then the story segues into the "Armchair Detective" portion of the story.

The end was very bittersweet. Jeff speaks about an odd-looking invention with a screen the size of a postage stamp arriving at the station ten years after he began working at WENN. You watched a blurry figure of a man read the news. Then each of the characters starts talking about how different everything became once television entered the scene. How once they could play different parts, younger or older, but on television Hilary ended up playing Beaver's grandmother and Mackie goes from playing all the loves of Mavis Baxter to having to settle for being the clown on a kids' birthday show. How we lost being able to create fantastic images in our head, volcanos, palaces, etc. and had to settle for what we saw on the screen. Very bittersweet, working in the ensemble ending from "Christmas in the Airwaves" which includes the "that's what radio does to strangers, it makes family of us all" line. Then "Betty" concludes the story by singing "Remember WENN."

Yeah, I blubbered through the entire finale.

Oh, also very interesting, Victor Comstock was played by Gary Sandy. Yes, Gary Sandy from WKRP in Cincinnati. He didn't play Victor with quite as much passion as John Bedford Lloyd. The young woman who played Betty, Amy Walker, was excellent. She didn't quite have Amanda Naughton's voice, but she was a good singer and sincere, the perfect picture of a country girl from Elkhart, Indiana, who won a writing contest. Major points went to the gentleman who played Mr. Foley (the program's in the car and I can't remember his name; physically he kind of resembled David Tennant), who, like Tom Beckett, endlessly provided wordless counterpoint to the actors performing nearby. One scene, which was adapted from "Close Quarters," had him fall asleep under the table; the whole sequence was fun just to watch him.

We wandered out of the theatre, said goodnight to Cindy, and talked a little more to Maurice and Diane before they wandered on. Then James, Rodney, and Jen and I went out along the Riverwalk where they were going to be showing a sneak preview of the new Journey to the Center of the Earth which stars a local boy, Josh Hutcherson, the one who played Jess in the new version of Bridge to Terabithia. He was present at the Mystery Festival and was met by a complement of shrieking girls.

The bridge that crosses the Ohio River is right next to the theatre complex, so it was stretched in the background behind the makeshift movie screen they had set up, dotted with lights against the dark sky. It was very pretty.

We all needed to get back to our respective hotels as we all need to head home tomorrow, but we couldn't quite give up being together for a while yet, so we stood talking outside, and then since we were thirsty, went back inside and sat chatting near the water fountain for some time longer. We talked about the old days on chat, of Joanne and the infamous Nadine, about Dana, and Rupert's music, and...oh, so many things.

And then Rodney started the Carol Burnett closing song and we all joined in as we headed for the parking lot and said good-bye.

"I'm so glad we had this time together,
Just to share a laugh or sing a song.
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say so long."


And then it was back to mundanity, filling up on gas at a very lonely IGA gas station and placing our purchases at the back of the car in prep for tomorrow, and finally returning to the hotel...to log onto chat and talk to Rodney again. LOL.

Like Kermit the Frog, we'd like to come back here someday. :-)

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» Saturday, June 14, 2008
LST Dreams
We made it to Evansville without incident and went on the LST 325 tour. This craft was built in a Philadelphia shipyard during 1942 and initially ferried supplies to Sicily, and then to Salerno. It was transporting supplies and injured soldiers on the second day of the Normandy Invasion, and after a refit was on her way to the Pacific when the A-bomb ended the war. After a short period in mothballs, it was recommissioned in to take part in the Inchon landings in Korea, and was then used to haul equipment and supplies to build the Distant Early Warning radar (DEW) line during the mid fifties. The ship was then transferred to the Greek navy where she served another 30 years. A group of former LST crewmen then got permission to retrieve the ship make her seaworthy and sail her back to the US.

Evansville was chosen as her new homeport as several hundred LSTs were built there. This ship is unique as it is the only restored WWII vessel that can still run under her own power, and makes an annual cruise up and down the Ohio and Mississippi. This year's cruise will take place in a few months.

Part of the above was written by James, since I have been in the bathroom. The barbecue last night was great, but I think too rich for my system and I was interrupted several times during the night. However, I felt okay when I got up this morning and did fine touring the LST despite the sun. We also visited a small hobby shop. We intended to get back to Owensboro and perhaps try to hitch up with Rodney or Jen for lunch, but when we stopped back at the hotel to give Wil a walk and check on Schuyler (she's been chirping and quite lively today), I found myself trapped in the bathroom. It may have been that being in the sun. I don't do well in sunlight since the radioactive iodine treatment and it just gets worse as I get older.

We did go find our way to the theatre and had some lunch to be able to make it to supper, and found the other little gaming shop that we couldn't find yesterday. James found a game he could no longer find at home.

In the meantime, I've read about half of Mr. Monk in Outer Space, which is filled with rather bad fannish stereotypes (but then it wouldn't be humorous if real-life conventiongoers were portrayed).

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Better?
I think Schuyler is better. I managed to catch her and check her; she doesn't seem to have any swellings or problems that I as a layman can tell. She seems livelier and has...produced. Maybe it was stress.

We are leaving her half covered and going to an LST for a while. More later.

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» Friday, June 13, 2008
Crossed Connections
We tried and tried to get ahold of Rodney, but the line at the hotel was, oddly, always busy. We went to a rather neat store called "Coolections" that sold mostly comics, gaming material, and collectible figures and toys, but upstairs they had a black light miniature golf course. Yes, it was completely lit with black light and painted round the edges and all the barriers painted in black light paint so it glowed. Cool.

James was starting to crash, so we figured we couldn't wait for supper any longer. We went to the Moonlite barbecue place and I kept phoning Rodney, but kept getting a busy signal. The restaurant was quite busy, but we got in immediately. The food was quite good. I enjoyed the mutton barbecue, but I'm afraid pulled pork will always be my first love.

As we got done with dinner, I suggested to James that we go to Rodney's hotel, which was a few exits down on the freeway. I thought we could leave him a note, or perhaps find him there. Well, just as we were passing the hotel (we overshot the exit), Rodney called. The thunderstorm we had had earlier had knocked out the telephones and the hotel had just discovered the fact. If you called in, the line was always busy, and if you called out, just the same. He never got the two voicemails I'd managed to leave, either.

Well, guess where he was. Yes, at our hotel. So we got together, and he still hadn't eaten, so we were going out when I noticed that Schuyler was scratching herself quite frantically. I won't go into all the details, but I finally told Rodney he should go off to eat. I'm still not sure what is wrong. She has done this before, and it's usually a feather that won't come loose. But I noticed she hadn't had any droppings in a while. I was worried about her and I rather flipped out for a while.

I think she's all right. We'll see in the morning. There are vets around, but I don't want her to be sick.

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Out and About
After getting cool, we went out to hunt up a gaming store James had found. It was in the mall, and was not very extensive. However, the guy was nice and gave James the name of two other gaming/collectors stores, including one that has a mini-golf course in it!

We also stopped in the shopping center next door to go to Hobby Lobby and Books-a-Million. Why is it our Hobby Lobby always reminds me of the line from "Gift of the Magi": "It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad"? This one had so much stock, including wonderful glass jars. I found a nice fall piece that I did not want to risk not finding when we got home, and also a unique Independence Day garland that I had never seen in our store.

I also found a gift for someone in Books-a-Million, so it was a win-win visit.

Now we're waiting to hear from Rodney. We're supposed to go to an award-winning barbecue place for dinner.

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Landing
Well, we're chilling out right now in the Sleep Inn in Owensboro, KY. It was a nice calm ride, except for Willow being anxious from home to Nashville. She was having trouble with the harness until we stopped at the Tennessee Welcome Center to adjust the seat belt, and then it went better for her. I think the plain junior hamburger from Wendy's helped, too. :-)

We were up about 6:30, having been woken by a combination of nature's call and the trash collectors. We "snuck" the rest of the luggage downstairs to no avail, for Willow had seen the suitcase last night and began panting and whining.

Schuyler, bless her heart, panted a bit as we loaded her cage into the backseat and belted it in, then fluffed and began to preen before we had gotten three miles. She spent the trip "arguing" with "Swing," the smaller of her two swings which she snuggles with occasionally, since it kept bumping her as she sat next to it.

We went to Chattanooga via I-75, then switched to I-24 heading for Nashville. We thought we might have some trouble here, as there were signs for a "burgaloo" going on at exit 127 and there were state troopers everywhere. But there was no slow traffic at all except for slight slowdowns in Chattanooga and bypassing Nashville.

From Nashville we rode I-65 to Bowling Green, then came up a lonely parkway to Owensboro. There was nothing much on the road except patches and patches of Queen Anne's Lace (wild carrot) on the verges, trees at the side, and miles upon miles of farmland, mostly growing corn. It was quiet and pleasant, but we'll make sure we have a full tank of gas before getting on that stretch again!

We ran into a few rainshowers between Bowling Green and the halfway point to Owensboro, even some lightning and thunder and pouring rain, but it was chiefly partly cloudy and not bad a drive; even the "mountain climbing" between Chattanooga and Nashville was pleasant. I noticed looking at the map that Bowling Green is quite close to Mammoth Cave; perhaps that will be a good trip some time. It looks as if it will be gorgeous up here in the fall and part of the route has antique shops, something called the Dairy Barn, and a vintage drugstore with a 1930s soda fountain.

All I know is it was a good thing that we mapped this out on Mapquest because the GPS unit seemed to intend us to go all the way up to I-65 to Louisville and then double back; our intended arrival time was 5 p.m. Well, no wonder! We actually got in about 2:10 our time (it's Central time here). Schuyler went into pant mode as we came in the room (the A/C was off and it was warm, but I placed her cage near my side of the bed and she fluffed and settled down and I just saw her preening. She's probably really sleepy since she sleeps in the late morning and the early afternoon, and this has thrown her schedule off.

But she has her "teevee" back and feels better now. Willow too has settled a bit, has had food and water and a "cookie" and actually went into the breakdown crate without being ordered (it is padded with an old bath sheet and a folded up fleece, with another old bath sheet over the top to make a cozy den for her).

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» Thursday, June 12, 2008
Short Trip with Small Dogs
I needed to get gas today, so decided to try out Willow with the new harness we bought her for the car. I spread an old bath towel on the entire seat and then put the seat belt through the harness. Wil wasn't quite happy about being back there by herself, but she eventually lay down for most of the trip.

When we got to the gas station, I was astonished to be panhandled by at least two people! One guy told me he needed 75 cents so he and his son could take the bus and would pump my gas for the 75 cents. I said no and he got the money from someone else. It wouldn't have been so strange if I hadn't seen another man at the bus stop across the street with a big cooler. Granted, they could be taking the cooler on the bus, but it looked more like they were sitting there cadging money. Plus he told me he was trying to get to a Winn Dixie; we don't have Winn Dixies in Atlanta anymore!

Then a lady walked over and said that because something on her mother's van didn't indicate properly, she wasn't able to pump gas into the car properly and could I give her some money so she could get some gasoline. When I told her I didn't have any cash she said that was okay, I could just come over and use my card! Can you imagine the nerve?

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» Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Beaming Our Way Again
Satellite box is back; UPS delivered it after I had lunch, so I put it aside and set it up after we watched Jeopardy. Of course I had to call up Dish again, because the setup routine simply does not follow the printed instructions. According to the paper that comes with the Dish, you are supposed to make sure you have a satellite signal first, then you are supposed to get a signal to download software, then you call up to activate the box. This is twice, and it hasn't happened. Seems backwards to me, anyway—shouldn't you activate it before you download software to it? Kinda like trying to download the Weather Channel before you get your internet connection set up. Whatever.

Then had to do all the tiresome channel programming again, then going through the programming to get channels to change before new episodes of Animal Precinct, Animal Cops, etc. There is a new version, Animal Cops South Africa, that we completely missed last week.

I still have the antenna set up, though, 'cause I've gotten rather fond of Retro Television.

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"So Glad We Had This Time Together..."
Had to call up my insurance agent this morning on a non-critical matter and was surprised with an answering machine message saying they were in the process of merging with another agency. I asked him to call back and found out he's really leaving the insurance business to start a new job computer programming. He says the "mom-and-pop insurance offices" just don't succeed anymore and he's finally getting out.

I'm sad about this—this was the insurance agent I switched to when I moved to Atlanta (not realizing they were all the way across town from myself then; they're even further out now) and I was very fond of the whole bunch there. When I started there 20 years ago, my agent's father ran the business, his mother worked in the office, and they also had a super agent named Deborah who supported me through all sorts of miseries, including my car catching fire after Tune-Up Clinic botched a fuel filter change and the clothes dryer catching fire when the drum stopped rotating. I remember having to call Deborah about the car fire right after Merlin died, and she commiserated with me for some time although I know she probably had other things to do.

Everything went seamlessly passing from father to son and we've had no trouble (well, except for that house inspection thing that caused us to refinance to be able to put sidings on the house, and they weren't responsible for that). So it's a little depressing that this nice relationship is coming to an end.

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» Tuesday, June 10, 2008
"'Taint Funny, McGee"
Now I remember why we had satellite.

Searching for some amusement on broadcast television last night, we settled on The Bill Engvall Show. We love Bill's comedy routines, from "Here's your sign" which made him famous to his observations on daily life. Bill's not vulgar, or stupid, or far out, just fun to listen to.

The series, on the other hand, is another story: it's not totally awful, just another formula sitcom. Bill's a therapist, your typical sitcom schook dad, married to Susan, a nurse. They have three kids, Lauren, Trent, and Bryan, two typical teenagers and a geek little boy respectively, who bear, without the more nasty sarcasm, a remarkable resemblance to Nick, Janie, and Michael in the British series My Family. Last night, Bill and Susan are waiting for Bill's best friend to arrive so they can go to a big game to celebrate Bill and Susan's anniversary. Friend gets delayed by listening to his sexy-voiced GPS system [eyes roll], so Bill and Susan start telling the story of how they met: Bill broke his ribs falling over a coffee table while waiting for his present girlfriend to show up to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their relationship, and when he went to the hospital Susan was the emergency-room nurse. Then Susan gets into a snit because she discovers Bill did not break up immediately with his girlfriend when he started dating her. (This all took place eighteen years previously!) Supposed wackiness ensues when Bryan falls and hurts his arm and Bill and Susan end up making up in...guess where...the emergency room.

If this plotline was a tomato, we would have bushels of them stretching to the horizon to represent how many times it's been used as a storyline in a sitcom. It's the same old tired story of the therapist/psychiatrist/counselor who's great at helping others but can't fix his/her own life. The little genius kid is cute but the same as every other precocious ten (or whatever) year old out there (I was having flashbacks of Danny Partridge, without the business saavy). The best friend is sweet but bumbling.

I thought it was just me, but when it was done, I looked at James and he made a face.

I'll stick to Engvall's stand-up routines, thanks. There I know I'm going to have a good time.

However, there is good broadcast news on the horizon: PBS's History Detectives starts new shows on June 30.

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Second Life
Retailers Giving Vinyl Records Another Spin

As someone who has a rack full of records and bought a certain brand of stereo because it came with a turntable to play them on, this news makes me smile.

I remember when the "Coop" in Boston had the best selection of international records I ever saw. Was very sad to see them gone in later trips.

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» Monday, June 09, 2008
Evening Events
Well, I'm writing this on the laptop, which appears to be working again. For the moment.

If I had any idea why, I'd say so. I fiddled around with it from when I got home from work, tried this, that and the other thing. I set up something called VPN, which James said we don't have and which didn't work. I think I unhitched myself from the network at one point, then reattached. It's funny because it said it wasn't connected, but then it was, but the static IP address was gone. When I typed it in again, all of a sudden the internet connection was back.

The interesting thing is that now I can actually see the network, i.e. the other computers. Before this breakdown, I was connected to the Internet, but couldn't see the rest of the computers. If I tried to click on the network in Windows Explorer, it would lock up on me.

It's actually worked through one reboot, so who knows what will happen. Still don't know how it disconnected, and certainly not sure how it reconnected.

We have thunderstorms presently crawling up to the west of us; it sounds like the growl of perpetual artillery outside. James went out for a few minutes and says the lightning is constant and quite vivid. Willow is creeping around with wide eyes.

We've also discovered another difference between analog and digital channels: when you have a thunderstorm, the digital channels lose signal for a second just like satellite.

[11:10: Just came inside from being on the front porch watching the lightning show, which is all to our west—mostly sky illumination, but horizontal, vertical, and even squiggling bolts as well. There was a delightful breeze that at times had the flag and the spring banner bellied out like pennants on sailboats.]

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Oh, Joy
We set a June record: 98°F today.

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Sigh...
Heat affecting the computers. Mail server is doing its carousel horse imitation. ICE keeps dying in mid-operation. There are people running around looking like they have done a workout in a gym.

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How You Can Tell It's Monday
You wake up with a migraine starting, so you take something, go back to bed for fifteen minutes. When you arise again, the headache is better, but last night's dinner is coming up on you. (It didn't bother you last night, but there it is this morning. No more roasted Chinese pork from Harry's, that's for sure.)

When you get to work it's 83°F in your cubicle. You start up your system, prepare to print off the items you worked on last week (you can't print them out after you do them because then the dates in DCIS won't match the signature date), and your network printer is jammed. You search where the printer tells you to look for the jam for ten minutes. Your supervisor and someone else searches, too. No one can find the jam. You try to print on your alternate printer, but it's out of toner. There's no one to ask about the toner, and even if you knew where it was, you wouldn't know how to install it because these are new printers. You originally used to print to an old printer, but evidently the IT people changed designations on them when they got the new printers.

You try to set up another printer, but the printers on your floor do not come up in the dropdown list. Instead you are presented by a list of printers in places including Dallas and Pittsburgh.

You try to call the IT help desk and the phone tells you all circuits are busy; please try again later. So you e-mail them...and then have no options left because they won't issue you a personal printer, although everyone else has one.

And the day isn't even four hours old yet.

I love Mondays. Not.

[Later: IT support called, have printer connection again. Original printer is still whining about a paper blockage. And I'm not the worst off in cubicle/office temps here: the folks that have the window offices, which are a privilege ordinarily, could use them for hothouses. Or maybe not, because even orchids kept in my team leader's office right now would be wilting.]

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» Sunday, June 08, 2008
Non-Speaks
Having an "interesting time" with the laptop this afternoon. Yesterday we took it with us on our errands to make sure that it would connect with available wireless connections. We connected successfully with the Smyrna Library signal, and also to another signal at the hobby shop, although this one was so faint it would not actually work. I was worried that when we came home it might not reconnect to our own wireless connection, but it did so flawlessly and I was on chat with it or online with it all evening.

This afternoon has been another story. The signal is fine. The laptop sees the router. But when I try to get on, it has operating state as "associated with access point" and in connecting gets as far as "Renewing IP address," but stalls out and then quits at "Waiting for IP configuration." Since no one changed the IP configuration, don't know what's going on. When I click "help me fix this," it gives me an error 31 and states "The DHCP server on this network failed to respond to the request your system made for automatic IP address configuration." In the few minutes he had to talk, James was puzzled. He said he disabled the DHCP server and wasn't sure why it was asking that.

Well, beats me. I even contacted the Linksys Live Chat hoping they could help me, but when she directed me to an IP address in IE (the router's address?), there was a password on the system. James set this all up, so I don't know what he set it to. Oh, well. I was hoping to get by without bothering him tonight, since he won't get home till 9:30.

We did have one of those stupid one-second power blips early this morning, like we usually have on a Saturday or a Sunday morning (usually about eight o'clock. I'm wondering if that's mucked up the router somehow.

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The Dish Saga
I called them between my trips out. They said the box should arrive Tuesday. I asked why, if they shipped it Wednesday, why it was taking so long. The rep said he didn't know. He did give me the tracking number.

The reason it's taking so long, according to the UPS site, is because they shipped it Friday, not Wednesday.

Let's say I'm not impressed.

(Someone on one of my groups asked why I just don't change to cable. Uh, because the cable company treated us even worse?)

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Home Alone
Well, as alone as you can get with Schuyler scolding occasionally and Willow looking pathetic because James isn't here.

He went off to work while I went back to get Mr. Monk in Outer Space and also Murder in Chinatown, the new Victoria Thompson Sarah Brandt mystery. On the way home I stopped at CVS with my Cares coupon, which was about to expire. Got a paper and some healthy nibbles for the upcoming trip: Kashi granola bars and "Tasty Little Crackers," to go along with the Odwalla bars I got yesterday at Harry's. We have bottled water to keep us hydrated without having to take advantage of junk.

When I got home I gave a sour look at the fuzzy television picture Schuyler was watching and went through the menu to find the autoprogram for the channels. It zipped through and...amazing...now all the High-Def channels are showing up, and in excellent reception. The only HD not showing up is Georgia Public Television. I was surprised at this as they are always talking about being HD. According to Antennaweb, it's because the transmitter is in Athens. Well, great. Unfortunately WPBA is doing fundraising, so there's no relief from them.

However, I did find something on one of WSB's alternate channels (I don't know what they call these things...side channels?...they're at .1, .2, etc.). It is showing something called Retro Television Network; this afternoon I have watched Wild Wild West, Emergency, two episodes of The Monkees, and now Marcus Welby is on. They also show Matlock, Magnum PI, Mission Impossible, Cannon, Love: American Style, Bonanza, Rawhide, The Fugitive, Hogan's Heroes, Get Smart, and a bunch of other detective, Western, and comedy programs.

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Why Can't the Programs Be This Funny?
Turned on the television this morning just as a commercial begins. A rather diffident-looking, sour woman pulls a plastic-wrapped piece of meat from the freezer, pulls out a hammer from a tool drawer, pounds the steak a couple of times, then uses the hammer to toss it in the frying pan. The legend then says: "If you cook with electric, there's no point in caring. Treat your food right. Use natural gas."

ROFL!

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» Saturday, June 07, 2008
Only Mad Dogs and Georgians...
...run around in the noonday sun, but that's what we did today, despite the temp hitting 95°F, since James has to work tomorrow and we had to get all the shopping done today.

First we went to JoAnn. I wanted a light piece of fabric to put over Schuyler's cage in the car. The flannel cover we use at night is too heavy for a sunny ride. Since she is partially white we have to worry about sunburn and budgies aren't supposed to sit in the sun anyway. We also stopped by Costco for gas; not as crowded as you might expect, but still long lines.

Went to Harry's—hadn't been for quite a while, so went quite wild to find cherries and nice firm peaches. Bought some salad and Chinese pork slices for supper tomorrow, while James got barbecue brisket for his dinner at work. Of course, we stopped at the hobby shop. Rusty was telling us about their Memorial Day visit to Helen; gas prices had rendered any holiday crowd almost invisible. He and the family visited the Currahee Military Museum and Rusty ran up the mountain as the soldiers used to do in training.

Later we stopped at Borders, where I discovered to my delight that the "sheep mystery," Three Bags Full, is finally out in paperback. Discovered that the next Monk novel, Mr. Monk Goes to Outer Space, has been released as well, and there's a new Penderwick novel out, too. Cool.

And of course there was Costco and Kroger, and finally a chance to come home and cool off. We had stopped at the mall and hit Radio Shack before going to Costco, and came home with an antenna for the big television. No better reception on the big one than on the small one, but at least we could wheel that one back into the spare room and get it out of the way. We saw the news, then I put The Rocketeer on. I wish Disney would reissue this with a better print. It's really quite bad. Then pulled out the second season Hogan's Heroes set and watched one episode, then the extras on that set. Presently am listening to the radio interview Bob Crane did with Richard Dawson and Chad Everett right after the Hogan's Heroes pilot was filmed. Dawson sounds so odd. I know he affected a Cockney accent as Newkirk, but he doesn't even sound like he did on Family Feud. It's almost as if he's doing one of those fake American accents from Doctor Who.

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Jumping Into the Digital Age
Since we still have two "regular" (and perfectly good) televisions in the house that we don't intend to attach to cable connections, James sent for our converter coupons a month or so back and we received them recently. Since then we have been searching for suitable boxes, because James wanted to get the boxes that still received analog signals as well. It is only the larger stations that will be forced to convert to DVD next February; the small-signal stations will be allowed to continue for some time longer.

We found different brands of boxes at different places, but none of them were the boxes that also accepted analog signal. Finally, earlier this week, James went searching online and found that Sears/K-mart had a $50 box that also received analog signals. With the two $40 coupons, the boxes would be $20, plus tax.

Then he found something better: a company called FreeDTV.com has digital/analog boxes for $42.50. Shipping is a flat rate $10. So we ordered them, two for $15.

Be interesting to see how they work.

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Photos!
Timegate 2008

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» Friday, June 06, 2008
In the Doghouse
That's Dish Network, right now.

When the new satellite box died on Wednesday morning, the person I spoke to said it would be shipped that day and I would get it on Friday. She said Friday twice. Specifically.

The UPS guy had come so early on Tuesday that I got concerned early in the afternoon and called up Dish. The tech that answered the phone waffled on so much with "I'm sorry" that I asked to speak to a supervisor. I didn't get to the supervisor, but she came back with the news that she had spoke to a supervisor, they had looked up the package, and that yes, I should get it today. I did not, I'm afraid, ask for a tracking number.

::insert sound of crickets chirping::

About five o'clock I called UPS, just to ask how late deliveries came. He said the usual delivery hours are between nine and seven, but if the load had been particularly large, they would deliver as late as nine p.m.

At seven o'clock, after a frustrating ten minutes ordering a pizza for James to pick up (I swear the girl was on drugs; I had to repeat everything at least a half dozen times and in the end, they still got it wrong...we got a thick crust instead of a thin and they put cheese on my side of the pizza—to their credit, James said it was hotter inside the store than outside, where it was still 91°F and the employees were drenched in perspiration; I supposed I'd act drugged, too), I phoned Dish, where an employee spent fifteen minutes apologizing and looking up things. James arrived home. I asked to speak to the manager...again. When the rep said they couldn't find the tracking number, I turned the phone over to James.

Much wrath was then wroth. Turns out the tracking number they had found this afternoon was for the box that had "blown up" on Wednesday morning. They had the correct Return Authorization number, which said the unit had been shipped, but they couldn't find a tracking number for it. (I'm not surprised, since this is utterly typical of UPS anyway.)

The manager finally told James if we didn't get something tonight or tomorrow morning (????), to call back. You betcha.

I'm thiiiiiiiiiiis close to telling them to come get their damn dish and dead box (and give me back the $75 I paid for the worthless thing) and calling DirecTV (and you know how I feel about DirecTV...).

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» Thursday, June 05, 2008
Oh, Joy!
While we were out biking, the temperature dropped ONE WHOLE DEGREE!

It's now only 85°F.

Urgh. I'm gonna order a pair of these.

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In the Summer, When It Sizzles
I can't believe this. (Or actually I can.) It's only the beginning of June and we started straight low 90s all the way through next Tuesday (it was originally predicted as through next Sunday, but now it's lengthened). What miserable weather. I have got to replace the cracked bowl out on the deck so those poor birds can get some water. I won't even begrudge the squirrel some of it.

It was, surprisingly, almost nice when I went out there this morning to refill the feeder because there was a nice cool breeze and the sun was still behind the trees. But that soon palled; I went out at one o'clock during lunch and it was already like a griddle.

(I dashed over to Fred's to see a short CD "bookcase" that was on sale last week, possibly back to full price this week, but it wasn't all that expensive. If they had one and it was shorter and with less depth than the one we are presently using, I was going to get it, but although I did find the sign for it, the units themselves were not there. I did find small containers to hold pills in my wallet, which I have been looking for for ages. I just want to keep a few Prilosec in case I forget to take one before going out to eat and an emergency heart pill, and all I could ever find were bulky round or square things.)

We are trying out Willow in the new breakdown crate we bought for her. I put her foam bed inside it with her fleece, but to say we have to coax her in is an understatement. We lured her in last night with a dog biscuit (even "cookie" didn't delight her) and today I did the same thing, and also tried it with the leftover mandarin orange cup. She slinks in as if she is being punished, poor thing, even though I praise her and only keep her in there, right now, a few minutes. Tonight we need to let her stay in it while we are biking, so she will be used to staying in it for longer periods when we travel.

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» Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Express Laughs
Well, one thing good about the box being out is that we watch DVDs. :-) We pulled the little television out to watch Jeopardy, then had our bike ride. According to the odometer, we did about a mile and a half, which was amazing considering it was still 86°F and quite smothery.

James put together the breakdown crate we bought for Willow and had her lie in it for a while, giving her a dog biscuit as a reward. Then we put something funny on: Futurama. I can't believe Fox cancelled this and kept The Simpsons.

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You're Not Going to Believe This
The satellite box is dead.

We had a power blip; one of those minute things where the lights don't even go all the way off, but it shut off the television and the box, but the television came back on and the box didn't. I let it cool off about 20 minutes and then tried plugging it back in, even plugged it back in to another plug. Silence.

And, before you ask, yes, it is (or was) plugged into a surge suppressor.

[Update 06/07: Actually, I realized after calling up Dish that it was not a power blip. All the other appliances in the house that usually flash clocks at you when the power goes out were still working fine. Only the circuit the television/box/computer are on flashed. I think the satellite box "exploded" and caused the momentary dropout.]

Nuts.

[I find it interesting, incidentally, that this box "blew up" almost exactly the same time of day the other one did last week, except there was no power blip that day; it just turned itself off and quit working properly.]

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» Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Joy in "Birdville"
Schuyler has her "teevee" back! She gave a contented tweedle and is busily preening rather than looking depressed.

Yeah, I spent my lunch hour setting up the satellite box.

It was delivered yesterday, but no one was here and UPS needed a signature. So I'm here working today. I was pissed yesterday because when I pulled into the driveway there was no box on the porch and no notice on the door, so I went inside and immediately called Dish Network as I clipped Willow's leash on and took her outside (ain't cell phones useful). Just as the rep came on the phone and I started to speak to him, I spotted a piece of paper on the other side of the driveway from the porch, about six feet behind the mailbox on the grass. It was the UPS notice!

I called up UPS and (mildly) gave them a piece of my mind. Of course they averred that their driver would never do that. It was very strange, though, since the notice was not only where it shouldn't be, but looked like someone had crumpled it up and torn the edge.

When the driver showed up with the box this morning I asked where he had left the notice. He said on the door, and that he hadn't left the box because it had looked like it was going to rain. (Better anyway; I wouldn't have wanted it sitting in the sun all that time.) I had my DVD from Amazon (If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium) delivered yesterday. What, did the mailman crumple it up and toss it? Weird.

Anyway, followed the setup instructions implicitly and still had to call up Dish for help. I was supposed to check the transponders first but it told me I wasn't getting any signal. Of course it was telling me that even after I started getting the little setup video onscreen, too. This lady tried all options with me and we finally got the software to download and the program guide to download and now all I had to do was mess with the channels again.

What the heck? The Sarah Jane Adventures are over already? Yeesh.

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» Monday, June 02, 2008
Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues
Just too blah today. Cubicle at 82°F. Simmering 87 outside. Ceaseless fan roaring in my ears (otherwise dead air is like a hot pall on my skin). Computer is moving like honey kept in the refrigerator. Probably doesn't help that I didn't sleep well last night.

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» Sunday, June 01, 2008
Tribute Cinema
We've taken an intermission after Twister—I've gathered the trash, swept the kitchen, put new towels in the bathroom (none on the floor yet since when I was sweeping in there earlier I spotted an ant; I immediately swabbed the floor down with white vinegar to destroy the scent trails, and splashed some on the doorstep to the deck as well, and have Northwest's phone number programmed into my phone for when they open tomorrow; they'll have to send Scott out early—probably an ant bed near the house foundation like there was last year). James has prepared the strawberries I bought for desserts for the rest of the week (he puts the overripe ones in the food processor with a little grape juice, then slices the rest and we will have them served plain, no shortcake, with a little whipped cream), started the dishwasher, and made tea and lunches.

And now we're having a tribute...raise a glass and toast Hedy...that's Hedley!...Lamarr!

Thanks for the laughs, Harvey.

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Sunday Heres and Theres
We went back to WalMart this morning so that James could get a better bicycle seat. He also bought a bicycle-repair multitool that can be fastened to the bike. I purchased a little carry pouch for mine, as well as a speedometer/odometer/clock, plus a hand pump. We also stopped at Lowes to get some safflower seeds to put in with the birdseed we bought at Kroger, and then had lunch at Longhorn. Since we had hickory barbecue marinated boneless pork ribs, layered with sliced apples, mushrooms, and onions, marinating in the crock pot, we only ate half our 8-ounce "Renegade" steaks and brought the rest home.

Then we had to go back to Lowes because we forgot to buy the breakdown pet crate. We have been considering buying one for a few years, since she rides so nicely in the car sitting between us that I think it's being stuck in the crate that makes her vomit early on trips.

I reminded James that we also needed to buy Wil a travel harness so we can safely seat-belt her into the car, so we bundled her into the car and went to PetsMart. You can't try the newer travel harnesses on any longer, though; they're packaged in that idiot blister pack. So we made a best guess in choosing one, then walked through the store. There were quite a few dogs there today, and Willow did pretty well. She even went nose-to-nose with a Lhasa Apso. She had less luck when we passed by the big dogs up for adoption—Wil was frightened of them and they knew it, setting up a barking chorus.

Before we went home, James went into H.H. Gregg to see if they had certain decoder boxes. We have the coupons that will upgrade our little televisions to digital and they expire at the end of July, but James is looking for the decoder boxes that also get the analog signals of the smaller stations. Gregg only had one brand of box and it wasn't one of the boxes that get analog.

When we got home I fitted the harness on Willow; it's on the smallest adjustment I can do, but it fits her very comfortably. James pulled out the bicycles to work on them, only to find the multitool didn't have what he needed to get the seat off. So we had to go back to WallyWorld where he got a universal socket wrench. We also looked for converter boxes, but they again only had one brand which didn't do analog.

So James installed his new seat and raised his handlebars, but had less success fixing his rear brakes. I installed the speedometer gadget to my bike myself: there's a magnetic screw that fastens to the spokes, and you position the transmitter on the fork so it is close to, but not touching the magnet. Then you fasten everything on and you try it out. Just around the neighborhood I was doing between 6 and 9 m.p.h., with an average of seven. James also lowered my handlebars, which is great; I finally feel like I am in control of the bike and don't have my elbows in the air any longer.

Finally we came in to cool off, listen to a movie show on the radio, and eventually to eat a pork dinner. (While we were out I had a Spanish station on for Schuyler the music was lively and it seemed to perk her up.) I perused the movies and wondered which would be the best to see in widescreen. I finally put Twister on. Yes, widescreen and surround sound make a good companion. :-)

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