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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» Wednesday, December 31, 2008
3 Hours to the New Year...
...in Holiday Harbour.

I wish to all a happy, healthy and successful 2009!

Looks like it's going to be a lovely day for the Tournament of Roses Parade tomorrow.

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» Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Okay, Candy, You Asked for It...
...photos and shopping and other things in Holiday Harbour.

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» Sunday, December 28, 2008
Music to Soothe...
Herein begins my second and last week off. James has Monday through Thursday off, so he is downstairs doing some modeling for a change. I just finished up with the Christmas things I DVR'd and am vacillating between "Holly" on the Sirius XM channels and the Dish Christmas channel. Holly is fine in November until Holiday Traditions starts on Black Friday, then I usually alternate between that and the Holiday Pops channel.

Sadly, Holiday Traditions ended Christmas Day and the Pops channel is back to everyday music. It's not just the newer music I don't like on Holly or the Christmas Channel—I like "Christmas Eve Sarajevo" and "Christmas Canon" and "I Believe in Father Christmas" and several other new compositions, and, alternately, my hair stands on end listening to older stuff like "Pretty Paper" and other bluesy Christmas things—but Holiday Traditions and the carols on the Pops channel are just more to my liking. Yet wonderful things like the Philadelphia Brass doing "Silent Night" and Bing Crosby's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" show up on what's left, too.

At least I haven't heard that unbelievably tripey "Christmas Shoes"!

I'm sitting here trying to figure out where the frippin' time went. Who put the wings on Chronos' feet this holiday season?

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History: On The Hoof and On the TV...
...one historical site and several historical specials equals more Christmas enjoyment in Holiday Harbour.

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Distinctive Signatures
James is playing one of his Christmas gifts, the Steve Canyon DVD set. This series was broadcast for one season in 1958. The theme song is by Walter Schumann, but the incidental music in the episode is done by Nathan Scott, who, six years later, would take over the musical chores on Lassie.

As when I heard Scott's score for the film X-15, I could pick up right away who wrote the score without even checking the credits. It's like John Williams; you can hear a piece of music and immediately know it's his.

Scott uses lots of brass, with stings and emphasis in woodwinds, mostly flutes and clarinets. It was used to great effect on the forest ranger episodes on Lassie, to depict the majesty of the wilderness. works really well for Steve Canyon as well.

[Aieeeeee! At the end of the first disc of Steve Canyon is a long list of aid and acknowledgement names...and there last of all is Brad Linaweaver. Is the man everywhere???????]

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» Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wooden You Like...
...a deer? All this and more in Holiday Harbour.

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Egads!
Jay Leno isn't kidding; NBC is desperate! Tonight they're rebroadcasting the opening of the Beijing Olympics.

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Wish
The gifts are bought and wrapped, the after-Christmas shopping is done. Nothing to bake, nothing to buy.

You know what I want until that alarm rings on January 5? I want the time to go s-l-o-w-l-y. I would like to look at my watch and say, "Is it only one o'clock?" I want the frippin' time to stop moving like a sled down the Matterhorn.

Oh, it slows down at work all the time. But I want it to do so when I can enjoy it, when I can bury my nose back in my book and know I have four hours more of a blissful afternoon to enjoy it. It's an irony of life that when you're a kid time moves like the proverbial snail, but by the time you reach your fifties you might as well be on one of those Japanese express trains.

I wish I could put a governor on the clocks when I want. I even want our party to go by slowly, so I can savor being with friends.

In the meantime we have eaten breakfast, shredded and tossed some trash, cut coupons, and James is wrestling with something in Photoshop. It's supposed to be hot out today, in the low 70s. Tomorrow a cold front is supposed to go through. Let's hear it for a cold front! :-)

[Wow, what happened? The weather lady was going on and on about how it was going to be about 70°F today, and she even bet it would top that number...now the forecast says 56! Of course it's 57 already, but...much better numbers!]

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» Friday, December 26, 2008
Frog Hunting
I finally killed a frog this afternoon.

(You know the saying "If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long"? When I used to hang out on alt.recovery.clutter, we started calling any task we didn't want to do "a frog.")

My sink in the bathroom was slow draining again; in fact, it had been for a while. It seemed every time I wanted to take care of it, there was something else that needed doing first. It got to the point that it was the Christmas cards or the gift mailing or the wrapping, etc. or the drain, and of course the Christmas event took the forefront. So I cleaned it out today.

Someone asked me once how I did it. First I clear off the sink area and put some water in the sink, then plunge it with the plunger. Ugh! All sorts of soap scum and hair comes up; you collect the slimy black stuff with a paper towel and dispose. Then I use a box of baking soda and a gallon of white vinegar instead of harsh chemicals like Drano. You put the baking soda down the drain and follow it with application of the vinegar. It causes a chemical reaction that clears away the remainder of the blockage.

Then you apply the "coop de grassy," as Bugs Bunny would say (or is it Daffy Duck...LOL): a pan of boiling water. Then you clean and disinfect the counter and you're done.

More Christmasy matters in Holiday Harbour.

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» Thursday, December 25, 2008
A Merry Christmas!

There's more stuff in Holiday Harbour.

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» Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Forty Years Ago Tonight
The Christmas Eve Broadcast of Apollo 8

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Marketing in the Morning...
...in Holiday Harbour.

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Wow!
I didn't realize the Orphan Trains ran this late into the 20th century.

He Rode the "Orphan Train" Across the Country"

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» Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Window Shopping...
...in Holiday Harbour.

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» Monday, December 22, 2008
Forty Years Ago This Week
I remember watching all this live on television. How I miss those great space missions!

Apollo 8 Astronauts Remember Historic Voyage

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Driving Myself Crazy...
...and other tales of Christmas preparation in Holiday Harbour.

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» Sunday, December 21, 2008
When the Wind Changes
There's good news and bad news. The good news is that it got cold again. The bad news is that it will be warm again by the end of the week. Pity. I had such a good sleep—finally!—last night.

First, of course, we had to make it through another cloudy, humid day on Saturday. Since we were going to be out all day today, I didn't want to spend all day shopping, but we ended up doing so anyway. James always gets some little aircraft for a couple of his co-workers, so we went to Hobbytown to get them. While we were there, I bought another animal for the library tree: an Airedale to be Junket: The Dog Who Liked Everything Just So (by Anne H. White). We also stopped at Cost Plus World Market to get a tiny jar of clotted cream for Christmas day breakfast.

We visited the hobby shop for a while. On the Saturday before Christmas they always have some goodies for the regulars. We brought home a nice slice of sugar-free chocolate mousse cake.

Borders had a 40 percent off any book coupon, so James wanted to get the newest "1632" novel. Unfortunately, the Borders at Parkway Pointe didn't have it, but we had it reserved at the store in East Cobb. I bought Christmas cards for next year.

We stopped to get gasoline at Costco and then went inside. I'd had only a bowl of oatmeal, a cup of mandarin oranges, and a plain junior Wendyburger all day and by now it was four o'clock and I was so hungry I was getting lightheaded. We noshed on a couple of samples, got the milk and some lunchmeat, and stashed the things in the insulated bag and walked to Fresh2Order for supper.

Finally at home! After a brief sit, I had to wrap all the gifts we were bringing with us tomorrow. I wanted to get that done so we could sit down and watch Get Smart, which we've already had for a week. Netflix is going to think we ate it. :-)

I wasn't quite ten years old when the original Get Smart series appeared. I knew the star of the series, Don Adams, only as a voice—a character on a television series I couldn't watch because it was on after my bedtime (Byron Glick on The Bill Dana Show) and of cartoon character "Tennessee Tuxedo." I fell in love with the series the moment it appeared. Don Adams was the first actor I ever had a crush on. I can still remember Max and 99's anniversary (November 16). And when Time-Life released the series with all the trimmings last year, I was first in line with the money in my hot little hand.

Needless to say, I was very ambivalent about the movie. I knew of any comic actor Steve Carrell could probably carry Maxwell Smart off. On the other hand, I'd read about the script, and there was a lot not to like in it.

So I was pleasantly surprised when we finally played it last night. Now, nothing will ever live up to the series for me. And so many of the stunts in this movie were totally unbelievable. Nobody could live through that crap; it was like a Warner Brothers cartoon (which was quite apt since this was produced by Warner Brothers). One minor one is when Max keeps shooting himself with a tiny arrow. About a half dozen of them go into various parts of his face and hands and there is no blood and no marks. The rest are more outrageous.

If you could get past the cartoon junk, and the fact that one of the bad guys is telegraphed practically from the beginning of the film, it wasn't bad at all. Even Agent 99, who in the film is a tough, rude cookie who comes around to Max's side in a realistic manner, was better than I expected. Max (who in the film is a clever analyst who writes 700-page reports and speaks multiple languages; he's just not ept as a field agent) has a surprising sweetness and insight to people since he used to weigh 300 pounds and was always the butt of jokes. He manages to get through the movie by showing understanding to several people who are also taunted because of their weight. Alan Arkin is quite funny as the Chief; I read that several people were angry because he said he never watched the series. The Max/Chief dynamic is different in the film, so it was probably best that he didn't.

The filmmakers also tucked references to the series almost everywhere: there are two gags right out of the series, photos and references here and there, Hymie the robot appears at the end, and all three of the cars featured on the series appear in the movie, plus Bernie Kopell (Siegfried) has a cameo. And the puppy who plays "Fang" is adorable.

I also loved the two computer geeks, Bruce and Lloyd, who were Max's friends. A pity, though, that they had to turn nebbish Larrabee into a jerk.

Anyway, I'm going to try to hunt up an inexpensive copy.

Later on, on chat, we had our eleventh annual joint viewing of the Remember WENN Christmas episode. This was Jen's first time and, as they say, a good time was had by all. You know I'd never noticed the poinsettias on Mackie's tie????

Anyway, this is the way Sunday usually works. We stay up late Saturday night, but even if we end up in bed by three a.m., James wakes up some time right around nine a.m. and I murmer, "Where are you going?" and he says, "I can't sleep."

This morning, the morning we were heading down to Warner Robins (and we had to go cross town to pick up his copy of 1635 to boot!), he didn't wake up until 10:10! So we had to scramble to get ourselves and the gifts (thankfully all packed for transport) and some Christmas CDs into the truck. By the time we got on the freeway south it was almost noon and I was dreading going past Southlake Mall, the shopping center in McDonough, and the Tanger Factory Outlets.

There were cars backed up on a couple of the ramps, but no stop-and-go traffic whatsoever. Talk about a sign the economy is on a downturn!

Anyway, we had a nice trip down, relaxed at James' mom's watching the Patriots' game (wheee! look at the snow!), exchanged gifts after Sabra and Jason showed up, and had a late dinner of spaghetti and salad. The "kids" had to leave just before four to get a new water heater installed, and we left to spend a couple of hours shooting the breeze at Ann and Clay's house (and coping with three excited dachshunds!) before hitting the road again at six. Listened to more CDs, then I remembered to turn on the new Sirius channel which will be broadcasting from today through Christmas: it's called "a Bing Crosby Christmas" and appears to be all radio shows starring Crosby and concerning Christmas (or at least close to Christmas as one of the things we heard was a radio presentation of The Bells of St. Mary's).

Arrived home to have some soup and watch What's My Line? and just chill out.

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» Saturday, December 20, 2008
Dear Cold Front,
Would it help if I came up to Tennessee and PUSHED?

Roastingly yours,
Linda

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» Friday, December 19, 2008
"I Could Walk It Blindfold"
As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields on either hand. The city had entirely vanished...

"You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit.

"Remember it!" cried Scrooge with fervour -- "I could walk it blindfold."
[The original title for this post was "Sentimental Journey," but I thought A Christmas Carol more appropriate to the season. :-)]

Urgh. Last night was not conducive to sleeping. even with the fan on and a breeze coming from outside I was hot and sticky. It might explain my mood today, which has been seesawing between happy and depressed, sometimes at a speed which would cause whiplash.

My original plan for today was to bake wine biscuits, but damned if I was going to make the house any warmer. I had noted Wednesday when I took photos of the library tree that it was still looking rather thin at the right side, so I decided to drive into Buckhead to go to Richard's Variety Store. The last time they were there, they had had a Zorro figure, and the character of Zorro, although made very famous by Walt Disney's series, is originally from a book.

I chose to go the old route to work, via West Paces Ferry Road. Although the traffic was aggravatingly stop-and-go as it often was on the way to work, I miss going this way; no freeway at all and watching the seasons ripen and then pass on in this neighborhood of large lawns and multiple trees and hedges was always lovely. More "McMansions" are being erected; West Paces, which also is home to the governor's mansion, has always been a high-priced neighborhood, but it gets more pricey every year.

Buckhead as I knew it is pretty much gone: they razed all the bars on Peachtree Road and are now excavating for yet another high-rise apartment to join the others like mushrooms after damp days. The ugly yellow-tiled building I used to work in is now all glass and concrete, with a toney restaurant, the Capital Grille, at the top.

But on the way down to Richard's, I made a stop at the Buckhead Barnes & Noble and it was if the clock not only had stopped, but had rewound itself ten years. Not much about the place had changed—the graphic novels were in the place of the science fiction books, but the travel books and maps were still at the far window, next to the bargain shelves, the magazines were in the same place, as were the children's books, and the entire place was still overlaid by the heavenly scent of coffee. If I could have broken that wall as in Somewhere in Time, I could have almost walked out the door, gotten into my Neon and driven back to the battered little parking lot on Buckhead Avenue behind our building and parked under the shade of the tree in the middle of the restaurant patio next door.

From there I went to Richard's, in the same shopping center where the original Oxford Books was for so long. I remember those Saturday nights going to Oxford at eleven, or even midnight after the Phoenix Science Fiction Society meetings because we just weren't tired and Oxford was open until two! The space is now a lawyer's office.

But Richard's remains unchanged, even though the merchandise is of a new vintage. Anyone from fifty years ago could walk in—heck, even Addie Mills would find it familiar—and recognize the metal and wood shelves, the glass dividers, the checkerboard brown linoleum floor, and feel at home. The place has definite "Woolworth vibes," if you know what I mean.

Anyway, after searching, and searching, and almost giving up and searching once more, I found one Zorro left in a welter of other figures. Richard's has these bins in the back filled with plastic figures, people and animals, some from history, some from fantasy, some just wild animals: pirates, cowboys, Indians, fantasy figures, knights and dragons, zoo animals, wild animals. Along with Zorro, I got a Little Red Riding Hood figure, a Merlin the magician (for the Sword in the Stone), a wolf (Lobo from Wild Animals I Have Known), and a lioness (how I forgot Elsa from Born Free, I'll never know). I also found 3-way 30-70-100 Reveal bulbs for so much cheaper than Kroger that I bought five. [I no sooner had these in the closet than the three-way bulb in the living room floor lamp blew out completely. How do they know?]

Proving that I was now under the influence of Christmas spirit, I drove directly up Peachtree Road and past Lenox Mall and Phipps Plaza in the tangled welter of lunchtime traffic to get to Borders. Had a nice wander about the store, drooled over several history books, sampled some gingerbread/eggnog cake, and bought a gift before heading out to Peachtree Road again.

Since I was on this side of town anyway, I decided to stop at the used bookstore on Clairmont Road; went past the old site of Peachtree Garden Apartments and ascertained the site is now something called "Town Brookhaven," which appears to be two more high-rise apartment buildings with really ugly attached parking garages.

The bookstore seemed alive with cats today: a calico, a shorthaired black cat, and a longhaired black cat who reminded me of my best friend's cat "Zipper" back during our high school years. I had a great time surveying their collection of series' kids' books from the early part of the century. They have Ruth Fielding, Betty Gordon, Judy Bolton, the Dana Girls, and of course Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and even books for the younger set like Bunny Brown, the Five Little Blossoms, and of course the Bobbsey Twins.

Anyway, I just finished a fascinating folk-study book called Christmas in Pennsylvania, about the unique Christmas celebrations stemming from the heritage of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The book was originally written in the late 1950s and recently updated by Don Yoder, who includes some recommended Christmas books. Noted:
Of recent Christmas studies by British and American scholars, William Sansom's A Book of Christmas (1968) is a readable treatment of the English and American Christmas celebration, with some comparative data on continental European Christmas customs. The book is written in a pleasant essay style that is a pleasure to read, and the illustrations are in many cases new and rare indeed.
Which was why, when I finally strolled by the antique table where they had their Christmas books set out, I did a double take, because there on top was William Sansom's A Book of Christmas—a nice oversized hardbound book with a not-too-tattered dustjacket for only $7.00 (and it was 15 percent off to boot).

Alas, if only the time travel effect from Barnes & Noble was still in effect as I drove home: it would have been nice to be able to turn into the shopping center on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and find Kudzu [the remainder bookstore] or, even better, Woolworths, still there. What I wouldn't give for a Woolworths right now.

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» Thursday, December 18, 2008
Raise Your Hand...
...everyone who's tired of hearing about the conversion to digital television...

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Decor Delights
Christmas decoration photos (part one) in Holiday Harbour.

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» Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Take the A Train Again
This sounds so neat!

Catch a Ride on the "Nostalgia Train"

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Lunch Luck
Great lunch!

Oh, not what I ate. I've had a sandwich bun. No, I had to go out and get some milk. Over the weekend we were in Kroger twice and forgot to get milk both times. (At this point, my friends are pinching themselves over the incongruity of the thought of myself forgetting to get milk...) So I decided to also run to Borders. Their 30 percent off coupon is only good through tomorrow and I wanted to pick up Mercedes Lackey's Reserved for the Cat.

I went to the Parkway Pointe Borders and nipped into Linens'n'Things [almost] next door, which has six days to go in its liquidation sale and is literally on its last gasp. There is some ugly framed art left, some sheets, some curtains, a few bed pads, car air fresheners, bits of this and that, and not much more. I was able to find another set of drawer dividers, and for 80 percent off got a lovely fall wreath of fall flowers and berry stalks.

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» Tuesday, December 16, 2008
What Happened to the Big Wooden Horse?
To be honest, I'm not sure.

One of our computer-saavy friends suggested I install "Avast!" as it had a Virtumonde killer. I did, and it didn't seem to do any good. In fact, on its first scan, it didn't even find it. However, on Friday it started giving me alerts that it was finding threats. I did as it instructed and vaulted them. All of a sudden, the warning messages I was getting from Windows Updater disappeared and I was able to download all my Windows updates. Apparently this thing had been doing the rounds because one of the Windows updates suddenly swatted another bit of the virus. I rebooted, and my laptop was running faster.

However, when I went on Firefox I was still getting the occasional popup and if I went into Internet Explorer I would get redirected to a page that was supposedly a virus-blaster (you had to buy it, natch) but which actually puts another worm on your computer.

First I realized that although I had downloaded Firefox 3, I wasn't actually using it. So I fixed my links and got rid of 2. Plus I also went into the Registry as Jerry suggested and cleaned out all the "Browser Helpers" or whatever it was. Avast! isn't picking up any more signs and I'm not getting an IE redirect or a Firefox popup anymore. If it's still there, it's hiding out. No way to know.

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» Monday, December 15, 2008
School Days
A very frustrating morning! I had a training class today and was eager to print out and submit the three purchase orders I had done last week. Fat chance. Again, my computer took over 20 minutes to boot up and then it did not want to print on my assigned printer. I finally began to print, but was only able to print two of the three sets of paperwork and had no time to assemble the folders for signature before it was eight o'clock and I had to get to Executive Park.

The class was on customer service and the instructor was interesting, amusing and informative, but frankly I could have best served my customers by staying at my desk! There were several things in my e-mail box that I would have loved to have gotten to today which will need immediate attention tomorrow.

Leaving Executive Park was fun...not. It took me ten minutes to go less than one tenth of a mile. Thank God we didn't move here last year!

When I got home I found a nice surprise: a package from my Cousin Debbie. She had included a Christmas card and two small packages, but the best inclusion were some photos of her daughter's wedding. I set the packages under the tree after I finally set out the manger set.

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» Sunday, December 14, 2008
I Am Successful (Yellow)
This was a long, long weekend, and Friday was the first of two long, long days. But in the end we had a Christmas tree and proper lights for the village.

Friday I went back to Lowes for the bench and the plant table I had seen on Thursday. They weren't all that heavy, so I just tipped them into the back of the car (and paid for it later). I went to Target looking for yellow bulbs. None could be had but I did find slippers for James and myself, so it was a win anyway. Following was an unsuccessful search at Home Depot. I would have kept searching, but I hadn't eaten lunch yet (it was almost two), and I had other things to do. But I was determined to get those yellow bulbs now if I had to mail order them. The white bulbs just do not work on a 1940s village. The white bulbs make it look like there are fluorescent lights, which aren't period.

(Reputedly, the most stubborn Italians come from Calabria. I'm not sure why this is supposed to be so, but when an Italian wants to call another Italian "hard-headed," he usually accuses him of being "Calabrese." Lou Monte used to bandy around that word frequently. My mom claimed that, after the Calabrese, the people from my dad's paese—Quarchina—were the most hard-headed. When he got stubborn about something, she would shake her hand at him and mutter "Quarchinese!" Which is why while I'm hunting these yellow bulbs I keep hearing her voice saying "Quarchinese!" LOL.)

James hadn't been able to get the tree upstairs Thursday night or Friday morning, so I figured I would prep everything for tree decoration. After eating lunch and watching Rick Steves' European Christmas, I cleared the area and vacuumed, and cleared off the coffee table so I could bring up the box of ornaments and have all the boxes and bags open and ready. In this way I was able to separate out James' airplane ornaments and would be able to put up the little airplane tree in the downstairs hall.

First I had to assemble the plant stand. This came with a little metal wrench and no instructions, but it was really easy to assemble. Next came the piece of material we had picked out to cover the stand: a royal-blue yard of cloth with glitter scattered on it like stars in the sky. I had pinked the edges so it wouldn't fray and ironed it smooth. Next came the little silver tree. I placed all the little airplanes and one non-flying object, our Hallmark Snoopy in his French flying ace outfit, on the tree and put a thin, curly garland around the branches. It's red and green, like the navigation lights on aircraft, with gold in between. At the top is a wire star I had.

It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself! :-)

We had supper in (pizza). James was in a bit of a morose mood (more about that later), but he brought up the tree and I commenced to decorating. This is when I found out I shouldn't have carried those boxes, however light they seemed, because boy, did it hurt after awhile. I started at eight and ended sometime after Conan O'Brien started blathering.

In the meantime James was looking critically at the village. "It looks like it's on fire." Yeah...sigh...I know. Earlier I had been surfing the web for yellow C7 bulbs and found a company that supplied them in, of all places, Alpharetta, GA, not far from Fry's. Since we had to go to Fry's anyway for a new computer keyboard and they had showroom hours on Sunday, we thought we would try that.

Yesterday we had "Hair Day." The main course was chicken; in an uninspired mood we just brought French bread and some dessert things, but the cake slices and brownie bites were well received. It was Neil's birthday last week, so they had a cake for him, but they had my name, Lin's name, and Oreta's name placed on the cake as well, for the rest of the December birthday crowd, which was sweet.

We left a bit after one and James dropped me off at home to go to the hobby shop. I wanted to tidy up the living room after the great tree trimming—there were fake needles scattered everywhere—so I vacuumed the living and dining room and also the stairs and swept the foyer (again), and then took some ibuprofin and lay down for a nap since we were going to be out late.

About 5:30 we left to drive out to Birmingham for Shari's Christmas party. We didn't go last year because gasoline was so expensive, and since we usually only see her once a year, we had missed it. Neither of us had eaten dinner, so we made one brief stop on the way for a single Wendy-burger, but that was only stop on a road which is mostly pretty bleak except for a couple of large shopping centers after you get west of Arbor Place Mall in Douglasville.

It was a great party. Shari's co-workers, theater friends, and family all come to this party, so it is a great mix of personalities. Plus she loves to cook—her fantasy is to open a combination teashop/bookstore—so we are well fed as well. We had a good time, but by the time midnight came we were both about to turn into pumpkins, and I was becoming a sneezy one to boot. You see, the Butlers have cats, and Shari has cats, and the combination of two households with cats played hob with my allergy. So my eyes were itching and watering as James drove home accompanied by some Yuletide radio programs: Fibber McGee and Molly doing early Christmas shopping, Phil Harris and Alice Faye encountering a Christmas miracle, and a dramatic playlet called A Daddy for Christmas where a wife tries to make her husband into something he isn't.

We arrived home at 2:30 and went directly to bed, as you can imagine—even James slept late this morning! We were so late getting started (and then we had to stop at Kroger again) that we decided to go to the Christmas store first, as we tend to dawdle when we're in Fry's.

This isn't a "Christmas store" per se; it's a lights and tree display business in an industrial park that has a very small, plain "showroom floor" with different models of trees and some garland. So I bought a box of yellow C7 bulbs (they only had opaques, not clear, darn it—I wanted to try both) and we also bought a blue Moravian star.

When we drove up to my mom's right after we were married, we were driving through North Carolina and noticed that so many of the houses there were decorated outside with the white Moravian stars. James and I thought they were so pretty! Naturally we jumped at the chance to have our own, especially in a color that matched the blue lights out front.

Picked up the new keyboard and a couple of other things, including something to put away for Valentines Day, at Fry's, then came home. James assembled and put up the light immediately. It's very pretty, if a subdued blue next to all those bright blue mini lights and LEDs! He also assembled the bench tonight. It's not only nice looking but nicer than it looked in Lowes, and appears darker, too, which was what I wanted.

I had soup for supper to soothe the last of the allergy symptoms, since I've had a nagging cough and sore throat all day. I was wondering why it made me so queasy when I realized what was bothering me was an odd smell. It turned out to be coming from the newspaper, from the Michael's ad, specifically. I don't know what they printed the ad on, or with, but it literally stank. I finally had to cut the coupon from it and ask James to take the paper out with the trash. I can still catch a whiff of whatever it is from the coupons. Ugh. Whoever printed these should be forced to smell burnt honey all day.

We watched a cool special tonight on TCM: The Age of Believing, about Walt Disney's live-action films. Several of the actors from the films appeared, including "little" Karen Dotrice from Mary Poppins and Thomasina, Kevin Corcoran, Hayley Mills, and Glynis Johns, who looks damn wonderful for 85 years old!

And as for those yellow lights, they look Just Right. :-)



(The reason James was in such bad spirits was that late Friday afternoon everyone at work got an e-mail announcing a 10 percent pay cut effective the next day. Merry Christmas indeed...)

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» Thursday, December 11, 2008
All Around the Town
Oooh, what a birthday gift! There's a new book of Valdemar short stories out and there's a new Valdemar novel coming out...wait, it's already out! Funny, I haven't seen it... (Sadly the reviews don't look like much.)

As the mice say when approaching a piece of cheese, let's start from the top. :-) (Apologies to Rankin-Bass.) Well, first there was a nice late sleep, and then hot oatmeal. Then I went off in hunt of yellow nightlight bulbs and blue garland.

The blue garland I found at Garden Ridge—but boy has this place been scalped! (Not to mention getting depressing: they already have the spring stuff out. Ugh!) They had one small bookcase-sized rack with Christmas bulbs and all C-9s and that was it. But blue garland they had, and some candle ring wreaths for two doors downstairs, plus I found two decorative boxes. They had a box of $1.99 DVDs and in among the collection of cheap cartoons I found a Bob Hope USO show and also The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, which is corniness itself, but also 1960s nostalgia wrapped in a big bow (besides, it's Paul Tripp). (I also had a run of luck on DVDs at CD Warehouse; I found an inexpensive copy of Prince Caspian and also the DVD of the Radio City Music Hall Spectacular.) I also picked up a couple of things at JoAnn and then went to Lowes.

Lowes had a set of "gold" bulbs, which I figured would be too dark (and they were), but they should hold things until next year. I know someone sells yellow bulbs and I may find them yet. I also stocked up on suet for our voracious flock at the feeder.

But it was Borders that provided the real surprise: the new Valdemar short stories book and a DVD called The History of Christmas. It is actually four History Channel presentations: Christmas Unwrapped (which I had recorded), a documentary on Santa Claus (it may be the Biography of Santa Claus), something called It's a Wonderful Time to Be Weird (odd Christmas decorations and customs), and Christmas Tech.

When I got home I had some luscious leftover turkey thigh with some bread for lunch, put on the Radio City DVD, and then set about decorating the mantel. As I said, the "gold" lights are too dark, really orangy, but it's better than the white, which I felt was stark. If nothing else, I think Bronners sells actual yellow bulbs. I could always mail order them for next year. I also sat and watched The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, which comes with the original Italian titles, but is in English.

Anyway, I finished decorating downstairs (the lighthouse and some extra geegaws here and there). All that's left is the tree.

I forgot to mention that I have finally found my bench! I want a nice simple bench for the foyer, one you can sit on to put on a pair of shoes. All the benches I have seen were too fancy-shmancy with a price to match. Well, there is a nice, simple country-looking bench at Lowes for about $68. Best of all, it's on sale for 25 percent off! They also have a wooden plant stand that would be perfect for downstairs.

When the mailman came, more riches! My 40 percent off season 6 set of Make Room for Daddy had arrived, as well as the book The Christmases We Used to Know, published by Reminisce and containing stories from the magazine previous to 1996. I found it on e-Bay for a couple of dollars.

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» Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Miracles Do Happen!
It rained all day, although it never again did get as dark as this morning when the Christmas lights switched on! The humidity made the entire house sticky and the noisome odor of burnt honey persisted until I lit the gingerbread candle.

Oddly, they are talking about this rainstorm having a snow chaser! It snowed in Houston and in Mississippi.

Since I was using a computer today that actually works properly, I was able to do three orders and get two others prepped to go. As afternoon wore on, I pulled out my Christmas cassettes. Had a nice variety of music, with Mannheim Steamroller, a brass album, a Revels album, my London Weekend Christmas tape, and others.

And then the miracle appeared. James called and said they were "overbooked" for telephone coverage during New Year's week, so he could take Monday through Wednesday off if he wanted. Well, cool!

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"And When the Sky Was Opened..."
How it does rain! Oh, we need the rain. Lake Lanier is drying up again, even though we received more rain than last year. But goodness, what a racket and what a mess. It's so warm we had the windows open, but I had to close half of them because they were awash in water. The racket from the rain thundering through the downspouts and drumming the deck floor is deafening. Every once in a while comes a rumble of thunder and Willow is clinging as close to me as she can. It was so dark before James left for work that the sensor tripped the timer outside and the porch Christmas lights came on.

(Gosh, look at the radar! This storm system stretches in a big diagonal line, from New Orleans all the way to Prince Edward Island. What a whopper!)

The acrid scent of the burned honey still hangs over the house, especially around the microwave. James boiled the lemon skins in a cup of water in the microwave last night (we have heard this is an air-freshening tip), and it barely has touched the scorched scent. And I thought the burned smell of popcorn was bad! Now I know why they tell you not to let the sugar scorch the pot if you are making candy. Ugh. I have left the kitchen window open despite the rain since it's right next to the microwave, and have the microwave door open.

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» Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Cloudy Days and Ways
Lordy, what a day. Sunday the high was 48°F, today it got up to 65 and was humid and sticky, the sky overcast and low all day except for a few moments midmorning when the sun broke through. My coughing slowly faded during the morning—unfortunately it was replaced by painful bathroom visits by the time lunch came. Gah. This coupled with the glacial movement of my computer today—it took me an hour this morning to get the damn thing to work properly—meant I only got one order finished instead of the three I anticipated. At least I got them started. Phooey.

Thankfully the rain held off until after rush hour. I was able to come home and decorate the miniatures ornaments tree in the foyer. Made some rice for supper just before James got in. Tiresomely, the stupid Trojan is still on my laptop (there is no truth to the rumor that Firefox 3 isn't affected by Virtumonde), although I have some advice to treat it. (Thanks, Jerry!) It doesn't bother me much when I'm surfing; I can just close whatever pops up. But it has disabled Windows Updates and also AVG making its scheduled scan every night at ten.

Last week a co-worker gave me a lemon. Tonight James used it to make a sauce for turkey thighs. He wanted to add some honey, but it was crystallized, so he put it in the microwave to soften. He set the time for too long.

Oh, god...the honey burned. I mean burned black. It even bubbled up and charred. There was acrid smoke everywhere. Good thing it was warm out. We threw open all the windows and vented with two fans and it still took the smoke about an hour to clear. There's still a nasty smell near the bedrooms where we didn't have the windows open. I have a coffee-scent candle there now. (James ended up using some other honey and supper was quite good!)

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» Monday, December 08, 2008
Well, This Sucks
The power supply blew out on my desktop. Boy, did that stink! James is installing a new one. We'll see if it fried the motherboard or not.

I am still with Virtumonde on the laptop, despite following Daniel's directions.

(Later: New power supply worked. However, it hasn't helped my keyboard. A few minutes after I wrote a note on it, several of the letter keys quit working completely. We have a spare keyboard, but I like this Microsoft one.)

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Who Let That Big Wooden Horse In?
My laptop appears to be Trojan'd by something called "Virtumonde." The last time I used the laptop was Friday. When I booted it up yesterday after we got home I noticed it was running slowly. At one point my icons all disappeared, and Windows kept saying I didn't have Updater running. Well, I do, I just don't have it on automatic updates. I have it tell me what updates are available and then I install them. When I checked automatic update, it was indeed on.

Anyway, when I surf on Firefox I get other websites just pop up. I know they are about to open because suddenly something is asking me about setting a cookie; I always do this to say no to sites I don't want to set a cookie. Then a web page pops up. It can be anything from sports to porn sites to search sites.

I have a couple of things I do do in IE because it just works better on those sites and that's when the problem really starts (my research shows me that part of this Trojan hangs out in IE files). It says I have a virus and I should download something called "Antivirus 2009." Of course I don't do it because I know nothing about this program. It probably plants more spyware on your computer (according to research, that's what it does). But you can't even stop it. Even if you hit cancel you get popups. And you can tell they're not legitimate because they're full of typos. One even says "You need to install this if you want your PC to remain unsoiled." "Unsoiled"? ::snort::

When it first started last night, James said, "Run AdAware." I did, and it pinpointed the Trojan. But when you tell it to remove, it doesn't. I even uninstalled and reinstalled AdAware to make sure I had the latest version. I ran AVG on it; the first time it didn't even see anything. The second time it found something, which it said it removed. Still the same problems.

A friend says he uses Avast and that has a squelch for this "Virtumonde," but I downloaded it and it scanned the entire machine before it started up and didn't even indicate anything. I set it to scan again and it's scanning stuff like peer-to-peer applications, or stuff like IM and MSN Messenger and all this other communications stuff, none of which I have on the laptop. I don't even have an e-mail client on it; I check mail on the desktop or via a website if I'm on the laptop. I'm pretty sure I got this Trojan via a group I read on Yahoo, not from downloading anything in e-mail.

I'm quite flummoxed.

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» Sunday, December 07, 2008
On the Second Weekend of Advent...
...thespians, tours, and travails (with lights, joints, and cyber snoopers) in Holiday Harbour.

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What About That John Charles Daly Announcement?
History tells us that thousands of Americans were listening to a concert when the voice of future What's My Line host and then CBS newsman John Charles Daly broke in with "We interrupt this program..."

Well, that's not quite how it went. Here, from a 1999 NPR broadcast, is Robert Trout's recollection of that day:

Pearl Harbor Anniversary

(Trout says it seems surprising that all broadcasting was not cancelled and full coverage given to Pearl Harbor. That's because at that point there was very little known, what news there was was being filtered or censored, and radio newsmen didn't get on the air like they do today and blather the same thing over and over. They reported when they had news.)

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» Saturday, December 06, 2008
Sigh...Ain't It the Truth?

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» Friday, December 05, 2008
Labels Are Only The Beginning...
...in Holiday Harbour.

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» Thursday, December 04, 2008
Where Does The Time Go?
"Today psychiatrists would call Mama a compulsive housekeeper. "She would get up at 6 a.m. mumbling, 'Here it is Monday, before you know it Tuesday, and Wednesday just around the corner, and Thursday running into Friday, and I haven't done a stitch of work yet.'" (Sam Levenson, Everything But Money)
I feel like Sam Levenson's mother. Summer crawled by, then all of a sudden it was October and then November, and now it's December and before I know it it will be January and then February and by the end of the month the trees will start to bloom and I wouldn't have had a chance to enjoy the cold weather at all and it will be sucky summer again. I've barely any Christmas decorations up and here it is December 4!

"How fast the earth spins!"

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Gloom and Groom
Grey, heavy skies, temps in the 40s, wind rattling the brown leaves left on the trees, rain spattering and pattering on the deck and the sidewalk; such a gloomy day that after I finished eating lunch Willow abandoned any pretense of being companionable and has retreated into the warm den of her crate. I should put the fire on, but while I'm working I can't enjoy it, so I have settled for lighting the gingerbread candle. So here I sit as I "groom" purchase requests so that they become neat little purchase orders, and while orders are building or things are printing, I whisk the last bits of Thanksgiving and fall away, so the house may be groomed for a Christmas makeover.

I watched "Lassie's Gift of Love" at lunchtime while whisking things away since the incidental music has been running through my head since last night and I could hardly resist its siren call. As an adult I can note all the "things not right" with the scenery—I know the "snow" is wet soapflakes (you can see it dripping off the trees) and the woods are a soundstage and the cave where Lassie finds the wolf cubs looks fake—but it always works its magic and by the time Ruth utters the last line "It's the happiest night of the year," my eyes are misting up. "All is well."

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Decorating One Step at a Time...
...in Holiday Harbour.

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» Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Speared
I don't believe it. Now Today was waffling about Britney Spears this morning, and one of those innumerable celebrity shows was blaring stuff about her birthday party. I mean, is she dying or something? Is this her last birthday ever? Why on earth is there so much fuss about a person's birthday party?

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» Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Tick--VG!
There! The cars are registered. I decided to pay them with my Amazon card rather than my Borders card, to get the points up where I would get another certificate. Surprise! I already had enough points, so I have sent off for a $25 Amazon credit and am building a new set. Yay. Also finished signing the Christmas cards (and the Hanukkah cards—I found the cutest Hanukkah cards) and am pretty much done with the letter that goes in with some of the cards. Just need to print it out on the stationery I purchased.

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Ah, Allergies...
Allergic and Wheezing, But Still Keeping Pets

This is the same thing Dr. Freedman told my mom so long ago: there is no such thing as a "hypoallergenic" pet. You are not allergic to the dog's hair; you are allergic to the dog's dander. It doesn't matter if it has curly hair or no hair or is only single-coated.

However, medications have changed. Perhaps if we'd had non-drowsy allergy medications like Claritin, I could have had a dog as a kid. But it just wasn't around then, and the stuff I did have to take knocked me flat.

There are also certain precautions you can take. Never touch your face and eyes after petting a dog or cat; always wash your hands instead. (People always looked at me funny when, even at the age of eight, I would go straight to the bathroom to wash my hands if I petted a dog or cat. It was the price I had to pay for any contact at all.) No hugging the dog or letting him lick you. If the cat (or the dog) sleeps in your lap, you have to change clothes and make sure the "pet saturated" clothing is washed before you wear it again. I can't hug James after Willow has sat with him in his chair, because he's been "dogged." :-)

Claritin (and previously Allegra and Seldane) have made things so much easier. I remember when I used to visit my best friend on Saturday nights when she was home from college on the weekend. She had a dog and two cats. I would get home, wait on the enclosed but unheated back porch (even in the dead of winter when it was in the 20s outside) and knock on the back door. Mom would bring me a change of clothes and I would change out there on the dark of the porch. The clothes would stay on the porch all night to air out then they would be washed. Once I had my clothes on I would go directly to the bathroom and wash my hands, arms, and face again, and I would take my allergy pill before bed (because if I took it then I would conk out asleep within a half hour).

Sometimes I still had an allergy attack the next day, but it was the price I paid for visiting with Mitzi, Twiggy and Zipper.

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Slowwwwwly I Compute
It's as if when the clock hit 11 the bandwidth narrowed to capillary size. All of a sudden applications were opening, closing, and printing in sloth time. As of course this occurs at the same time I am printing out new orders, it is freakin' aggravating.

When we're at the hobby shop, Rusty or Corley or one of the other guys always apologizes for swearing in front of me, or won't tell an off-color story because I am there. I wonder what they would say if they heard me swearing at this benighted piece of outdated computer equipment with its crappy Microslop applications!

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» Monday, December 01, 2008
[eyes roll]
Isn't Good Morning, America a news show? Or at least didn't it start out that way?

Obviously they aren't any longer, because I have been "treated" to a series of commercials this evening where they are trumpeting about tomorrow's "event": celebrating Britney Spears' birthday. God, what rubbish.

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We Have A Winner...Uh, Winter...
My gosh...it's sleeting out...wish it would stay this cold for Saturday!

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Retention is Great
Evidently I was paying attention in both government and economics class in high school.
You answered 28 out of 33 correctly — 84.85 %

Average score for this quiz during December: 76.1%
Average score: 76.1%
Civics Quiz

Tip o' the hat to Daniel.

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Another One Bites the Dust
I've been steadily cancelling credit cards I seemed to have accumulated through various sources (including the MBNA one I ended up with because I was sick and made the mistake of answering the phone and said yes just to shut them up and get myself back to bed). Looks like I won't have to cancel the Circuit City one—it's gone. Another one down.

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Nothing Worth Dying For
Wal-Mart Death Preventable, Union Says

Was WallyWorld partially responsible? Maybe—wasn't there and don't know. But I do remember the last and only time we went to a big box store for a deal: it was so long ago that we considered getting a VCR for $70 a real deal. We joined a line of chatting, friendly people in line at 5 a.m. Best Buy employees were helpful; they passed out maps of the store and coupons for the limited items. And then, WHAM! when the doors opened, a bunch of people who weren't even waiting in the line jumped the line and pushed their way in ahead of everyone who'd been waiting. The Best Buy security guards couldn't do a thing about it; there were just too many rude bastards who had to be first. They couldn't be bothered to wait and they couldn't be bothered to be polite. That new computer or PDA or DVD player was just too damn important.

So maybe that WalMart didn't have enough security, but if people had bothered to be polite and in control, it wouldn't have happened in the first place.

It just gets worse every year. Do parents teach their kids self-control anymore? It's all "I want, I want, and I don't care what I have to do to get it!"

It's just STUFF, people! It's not worth hurting anyone over.

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