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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» Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"Tales from St. Nicholas"
My new blog is a month old.

Check here for some old-fashioned tales from the pages of St. Nicholas. As long as I can manage it, I am presenting whatever catches my fancy (and can be edited quickly!) on Tuesday and Thursdays, and a serial story on Saturday (Tom, Dick and Harriet by Ralph Henry Barbour) and on Sunday (The Sapphire Signet by August Huiell Seaman).

I have a couple of neat stories scheduled for Independence Day, including an 1884 story about the Statue of Liberty.

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» Monday, June 29, 2009
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, the Computer Edition
Last night James was doing a search on Google. Oddly, if he clicked on the link to his first result, it went to the correct site. But all subsequent links listed as results on that search went to totally unrelated websites. So he did an AVG scan that turned up nothing. Searches on Google revealed this was some type of virus, but it was bedtime and we didn't have time to look into it.

I spent most of the day (the part of it when I was actually awake) sneezing and coughing and feeling like a slug, so I decided I'd help James out the way he helped me yesterday. When the Trojan invaded my laptop and then tried to get to my desktop, I ran Microsoft's scan on Onecare.live.com and it worked like a charm. So I pulled up IE on James' computer, downloaded what I needed, set a restore point, and ran the scan.

The scan found something called "Obfuscator.ET," and said it found two files in system32 that it could not clean and was certain were viruses. It asked if I wanted to report these two files to Microsoft. I said yes.

Next thing I know, IE came up blank. It said it couldn't find the server. In fact, it couldn't find any server, on any site. Nor could Firefox find any servers. Nor would it download e-mail. It was as if the scan cut off the connection to the internet. Well, that sucks.

I tried running AVG again. Nothing. James came home and I let him know what I had done. He tried various things and nothing helped. Not only Firefox/IE/Eudora was down—now the Windows firewall wasn't working, either! And the restore point I so carefully set didn't work! I even posted a question on a Microsoft discussion group. They directed me to Microsoft live chat. Well, since I got him into this, I could try and get him out. So I talked to the tech and she eventually took remote control of James' computer to look for the problem.

Just as that was about to begin, a thought struck me about when I was setting up the netbook. I checked on the network connections and darned if the scan hadn't completely wiped the DNS values!!! I filled those back in and suddenly Firefox/IE/Eudora all worked again, and the Windows Firewall came back up.

However, Google was still misdirecting links. So the tech worked through remote access. And at the end the Google links finally worked properly. However, we have been escalated to Level 2 service because she still hadn't fixed everything.

And dammit, the Windows Firewall is down again. I had that fixed!

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It Was All a Dream...
The way I feel today, the entire weekend now feels surreal, especially yesterday. I've stuffed myself with anti-inflammatories and cough medicine and Mucinex, but they need time to kick in. In the meantime I have a headache that won't quit, two totally clogged sinuses, a cough. We went to bed 45 minutes early last night and except for the time I tossed and turned and got a half dozen new tissues and had to get a drink, I slept, and slept, and slept, until nearly one o'clock.

I did get on line to work to get one order done—it has to start immediately—and answer a couple of e-mails.

I need to get better. There's so much to do...

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» Sunday, June 28, 2009
Urrrrgh...
I feel like crap. My nose runs, I cough. I've had ibuprofin and Tylenol. Nothing helps. Want to sleep.

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James is a Saint...and Other Stories
We are home. We got home about 3:00. James drove the entire way, starting from our hotel about 11:15.

Last night was a little piece of hell. My nose stuffed up again soon after we got into the motel room. James said he got stuffy, too, but not like mine—he was just blowing his nose a lot; maybe the filter in the room air conditioner needs changing.

Usually what I do when this happens is just leave a tissue where I can grab it, go to bed, and breathe through my mouth. But I had a sore spot on the back of my throat and the moment the air hit it, I would cough or gasp. I was desperate to sleep. I tried my saline spray. I tried drinking water to get rid of the throat itch. I took one of James' cough drops. I got up and down. In an effort not to wake James, I went in the bathroom and read for a while. Nothing worked.

When I did the cough drop thing, I must have swallowed a bunch of air, because every time I lay down, I had an air bubble in my throat. I would just get warm under the blanket—and this is now how I knew something weird was going on; I was cold!—and I'd have to sit up to get rid of this horrible bubble that was pressing on my throat.

About four o'clock as I struggled with yet another bubble, I felt like I couldn't breathe.

I could of course, as I was taking deep breaths, but I felt like I couldn't. I scrambled out of bed and got dressed, couldn't find the stupid door card, and woke up James. Once I found the card I went outside for a few minutes; it didn't really help, and I started to shake. James asked if I wanted to go to the emergency room, but I didn't want to go in a strange place. Besides, I could breathe, I was just now so scared that I was shaking and my mouth was all dry.

After I used the bathroom it all went away, and I was finally able to crawl into bed...I think it was five or five thirty...and sleep.

We got up at nine so we could have the free breakfast. Four hours sleep didn't seem like anywhere near enough and my nose was still almost completely clogged. All I had was a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of dry toast, and a glass of milk since my mouth felt so horrible and I couldn't really taste anything. Then we went to the Russell Stover store for the type of sugarless candy one can't find in the stores here, and to gas up the car and get it cool. We got back to the motel, loaded the stuff, loaded the critters, and drove home, no rest stops, no nothing.

That's it. No more summer trips, ever, unless they are emergencies. We've said this before, but I was lured by James finally getting out early and the chance to be away and do something different. I figured it would be about in the low 80s and we could handle it. Instead it was 95°F every day. Heck, it was still 80 when we finished playing golf last night, at 10:15! James said it reminded me of the night at my mom's when we played miniature golf on the new course near the prison: stiflingly hot with no breeze at all.

I've had the shaking thing, too, before, all other times after I've either eaten rotisserie chicken from a supermarket or wings from a wing place. It almost appears to be an allergic reaction, because the shaking vanishes the moment I physically get rid of the offending remains. I usually avoid both, but we did have a rotisserie last week and I had a couple of wings at Shoneys that they made me without hot sauce that I didn't finish because they were too greasy.

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» Saturday, June 27, 2009
Hot, Hot, HOT!
Whose idea was this?

Oh, yeah, it was mine. LOL. But when I made the reservations two weeks ago I had no idea it was going to be as hot as...well, you know. I was figuring...June in Tennesseee. 80s, tops.

At one point we were parked and the thermometer in the car read 103°F. (After we got moving it went down to 95.) It is also evident that my car needs its freon, or whatever they use now, recharged. It's fine if you start from the garage or under a tree, but cold start after sitting in the sun in 90 degree temperatures, and the A/C never really gets cold.

I managed to make it through the day even though I forgot to take my Claritin last night and have been sneezing and stuffy all day. It got progressively worse as the day went on. Ugh.

So we had our complimentary "continental breakfast" (and Willow lucked out as I didn't realize they had hot water for the oatmeal so I put cold water in it and was going to warm it up, until the lady showed me where the hot water was, so Wil had cold oatmeal for breakfast) and then headed for Gatlinburg. It was about 9:30 and there was plenty of parking in the rear of the stores on the parkway.

So we walked around for the next couple of hours. Visited the Maple's Tree gift shop and got more little prim items, and a couple of gifts, stopped at a knife shop, went to the little "village" with its quaint shops and stopped at the Celtic store to get the Gaelic Storm albums we didn't buy last time and then regretted, stopped and had ice cream at the Mayfield Dairy stand, bought another gift. As it got on toward noon it started to get warm, so we decamped and headed back to Pigeon Forge.

The first place we stopped at was a cross-stitch store called Dixie Darlin' in an area called "The Old Mill." There is actually a mill still there, at the falls, but the water wheel no longer works and it's a restaurant now. The needlework store was in an old house behind the little shopping area. It was a mix of the commercial stuff you can get in JoAnn, like JanLynn, and more exclusive patterns and kits like Shepherd's Bush and Lizzie Kate. I was good and only got two patterns and a fall wreath kit (only 5x5, but with beads).

We made a brief stop at the Book Warehouse, and James got more books than I did. I did buy something about the history of Daylight Saving Time. Then we stopped by the motel to see how the animals were doing and James took Willow outside. Finally, about 1:30, we had some lunch.

Then we went almost back to the freeway, to one of the two Christmas stores I saw on the way out on our last trip. The other, Christmas Done Right!, had closed. (James said dryly, "I guess they didn't do Christmas right after all.") This turned out to be the same folks that have the Christmas store just a few blocks down from The Incredible Christmas Place. I was determined not to buy anymore stuff, but we found a perfect Christmas gift for someone, plus a lovely glass collie ornament, a little resin Scottish tree to go with the Italian tree I got last year, and a little Thomas Kincade house. James got a set of LED Christmas lights for his tree at work.

Then we went up to the fireworks place to get some stuff for next week. I got some sparklers and Roman candles, and James got some rockets and a multipack.

We were going to hit the sugar-free chocolate at the Russell Stover store, but this is where we saw the 103 temp. I figured even in both insulated bags it wouldn't last! We'll stop tomorrow on the way out.

On the way back we stopped at this huge knife store. I mean, huge. They didn't just sell hunting knives and Swiss army knives, but they had swords, and swords based on Lord of the Rings and Klingon weapons, and kitchen knives and other stuff for your kitchen, and grilling, and camping, rocks and minerals, and a bunch of other things. This was on several levels and waterfalls in the middle of the building!

I started running out of gas here because of the allergy attack and we were both suffering from the heat. By now it was about five, and we came back to the motel, turned up the A/C, and I fell asleep for over an hour. Schuyler just kissed at me once in a while. Poor sweetie, I wasn't much company.

We went out for supper about seven. We went to Dennys in Pigeon Forge and I just had soup. For dessert we had something called "pancake puppies" (I kid you not). They are little doughnut holes covered in cinnamon and sugar and you dunk them in syrup. Very sweet.

On the way back we stopped at the Inn at Christmas Place. This is across the street from The Incredible Christmas Place and is decorated for Christmas all year long. It's beautiful! They are always talking about this hotel on my Christmas group and I wanted to see the public areas. The lobby has a huge fireplace, and there is a big tree with stuffed deer, antique Santa Clauses, and even an antique music box. Downstairs is a gathering area where the "Singing Santa" gives a concert every evening. He was just chatting with the audience when we looked in.

I'd like to stay here just once. You can get a plain room or one decorated for Christmas, and all of them have jacuzzis in room.

But we ain't coming back here again until it gets cool. Even with the mountains hovering in the background, it's mind-numbingly, exhaustingly HOT.

My nose had cleared up a bit after the soup, and we'd been passing miniature golf courses all freaking day, so now that the sun was down we decided to stop at "Old McDonald's Farm" and play a round. This was either a good or bad idea, as we did have a great game—I got three holes in one, a mind-boggling event, and we had a good time with the three girls in front of us and the family in back—but it was still hot and humid, no breeze to speak of, and the wait time for each hole was very long because the place was so crowded. It took us 70 minutes to play 18 holes!

But the course was fun; lots of crazy animals, like a goat on an outhouse and pigs on a mud-slide, sheep, turkeys complaining of being "stuffed," one hole like a pinball machine with rabbits' heads sticking out of their holes, and the last hole was the henhouse. The animals "cracked wise" via recordings, and there was even one shot where you shot under the outhouse. At that hole you heard the toilet flush, but a gadget attached to the outhouse also shot water onto another hole every time someone shot the ball under the outhouse.

We got back to the hotel drenched to the skin with sweat and basked in the A/C! Watched the end of "The Tholian Web" on Star Trek and joined chat already in progress.

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» Friday, June 26, 2009
A Day of Extremes
I have mentioned here, briefly, that due to the acid reflux, I ocassionally have certain "bathroom issues." (Anything more than that is TMI.) Well, in the last two weeks I had finally gotten some control over the situation. Almost every day I have a few crackers with ricotta. The cheese has helped. Occasionally I will have a grilled cheese sandwich.

Well, after a grilled cheese sandwich on Sunday, because James is home early now, I forgot the cheese and crackers for the rest of the week. Bad idea. I had several things I wanted to accomplish today, but only managed to clean the bathrooms and work briefly on a project. Aggravating.

But I did get the project finished.

It has to do where we ate supper tonight: at Shoney's.

Well, actually we had a burger at Wendy's before we left.

I'm not sure if there are any Shoney's left in Atlanta. The one we ate at was in Sevierville.

Yep, Tennessee. I had the car half-packed when James got home from work and we tossed the rest in, placed Schuyler in place, and seat-belted Willow in and left about 5:30. Due to rush hour we went surface roads, Macland to Mars Hill to US 41 and then east to I-75 when we reached Lake Allatoona. Mapquest placed us on a nice country road to get us around Chattanooga, and we arrived at the motel about 9:45.

Willow was so good this time. We stopped right before we got back to I-75 to "offload a little water" and she usually cries and whines when James leaves the car and she just sat and panted (it was still pretty warm although we had a spattering of rain for a second; probably still in the low 90s at 7:30. Schuyler has never ridden in the car in the dark before, but she was fine as nine o'clock went on. She even went up in her swing.

We listened to about an hour of Radio Classics and then put on one of the "Big Finish" CDs I bought at Timegate, the first of the UNIT stories, "Time Heals." We really enjoyed it, and it was so nice hearing Nicholas Courtney again!

Wil is sacked out in her crate right now and Schuyler is preening herself, and we are watching Secret America on the Discovery Channel. I brought a tray for her cage to sit on, so she is right where she can see her beloved "teevee." After we got into the room we left them briefly to get a bite to eat and that's when we went to the Shoney's. They have a nighttime breakfast bar, so I had a little potato soup, three French toast sticks, some orange slices, and one slice of bacon.

Really need to take a shower and get to bed; we want to walk around Gatlinburg early tomorrow before it gets hot. Tomorrow is really all we get, although the lady at the desk says we probably can get a late checkout on Sunday if we ask.

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» Thursday, June 25, 2009
We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Program
Goodness, I didn't realize I'd been "off the air" for so long. I've been immersed in purchase orders. I did eight yesterday and two more today, and would have done more, but one I thought I could do turned out to be competitive. Had to send several out for quotes and there's one I need to advertise. I've spent a lot of time counseling one person about further orders needed.

I didn't even read any blogs or my mailing list yesterday...just kept going.

We spent last evening watching Casino Royale. Daniel Craig, yum! although the violence at a couple of points made me quite squeamish (I think anyone who's seen the movie knows the scene).

Oh, and the cow special Tuesday night was kinda fun! It was on GPB, about show cows (like show dogs). The different farmers were talking about their own preferred breeds and about how everyone thinks of cows as big dumb creatures, but how each cow had its own quirks—one was afraid of flags. One woman was scratching a bull under his chin and he was just standing there with his eyes closed, enjoying it so much.

Shocking news tonight, though, while we were already digesting the news of Farrah Fawcett's death...that was one gutsy lady. It's a shame she had to suffer like that. Wow about Michael Jackson, though. Not much of a Michael Jackson fan—I much preferred the Weird Al parodies of his songs—but it's a shame he died so young and very sad news for his family.

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» Monday, June 22, 2009
Evening Calm
I didn't get all my orders finished until 3:45. I had to contact the help desk to get the "jammed" order to complete.

Thunder had been rumbling since 1:30, but, you guessed it, it started raining at quitting time. Oy.

But James had supper almost ready when I walked in: yummy steak and beef rice.

And now History Detectives, a welcome summer return!

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I Can See This Day is Shaping Up to Be Ducky...
When I got in it was already hotter inside than it was outside.

The computer was down for over 90 minutes.

By the time I got booted up again it was time for me to go to a meeting.

I've since been informed that I have to do a mod because one vendor needs something on their order that no other vendor needs.

And I have an order that's supposed to be awarded by July 6 which needs at least three weeks' worth of advertising. Unless I can travel in time, I'm not sure how that one's supposed to even work out.

Oh, yeah, and I got assigned at least eight more orders on Saturday.

Vent over. We now return you to our regularly scheduled program... :-)

[3 minutes later -- arrgh! The database just crashed AGAIN...and it won't allow me to exit the program!]

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» Sunday, June 21, 2009
Simmering on Sunday
Today's weather verse, same as the first. 90s, with a saving grace of a brisk breeze, which at least keeps the air moving, even if it isn't any cooler.

We drove south to the Tanger Outlets today, just for something to do, and I wanted another pack of underwear. We stopped at the flea market at Exit 221 on the way down, but it was so warm in there (it's really just a big metal shed with air conditioning vents which don't work very well)! You used to be able to get tools and purses and all sorts of nice things here, but it's mostly junk now.

We usually walk through the antiques mall section, where I have found some cool things including Five Little Peppers books, but I was getting so sick from the heat I just suggested we leave. We went across the road to Books-a-Million, mostly just to cool off and use the restrooms. Sometimes I can find treasures in the remainder piles, but not today.

So we went down to Tanger. (I'd toyed with having a small lunch at Red Lobster near Books-a-Million, but because of Father's Day it was overflowing.) So we had lunch at the Dennys Diner—the chicken soup wasn't bad, and neither was the grilled cheese sandwich, then just went into the Leggs outlet for underwear and into Harry and David, which even at an outlet mall is overpriced. Otherwise this outlet mall is just about dead useless anymore. Other than Harry and David, the Corning store, the Kirkland store, a pet food store, the Mikasa store, a cookie place, and the "as seen on TV 'museum,'" everything else is clothes or shoes. The music store is gone, the toy store, the book store, and Kitchen Collection, too. Yawn. Just a bunch of discount stores for stuff that was overpriced in the first place.

Stopped at Borders on the way home. We'd seen William Shatner on Conan's show, so for a laugh I picked up Shatner's new autobiography. James got a new David Drake book. I decided to pass on Sunnyside. I can reserve it at the library.

We watched this morning's Clark Howard Show when we got home, then I washed a load of towels while James grilled boneless pork ribs for supper along with corn on the cob. Now we're watching Merlin, which appears to be The O.C./Beverly Hills 90210 crossed with Arthurian legend. It is necessary to suspend disbelief a lot watching this. :-) Otherwise it's..."cute." Eve Myles from Torchwood is playing a baddie, Anthony Head is King Uther, and the future King Arthur is a braggart and a bully.

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» Saturday, June 20, 2009
Unfulfilled Fantasies
James came home sticky—it's hard to air condition that civic center—and dehydrated, and tired from having been on his feet all day. Two of his models placed third.

I was hoping to go to JoAnn to pick up a couple of gifts with the coupons, but he was almost asleep on his feet and I didn't feel like driving. There will be other 50 percent off coupons.

He warmed up the rotisserie chicken we picked up at BJ's yesterday and had it with Ramen noodles. Later I put on the movie I'd gotten from Netflix: Nim's Island.

Warning: spoilers:

Nim Russo, age 11, lives on a volcanic tropical island in a cool treehouse (fitted with solar panels and satellite phone/internet) with her father, a marine biologist obsessed by plankton. He's trying to discover a new species which he promises to name after Nim. Nim's mother died when she was small; an oceanographer, she died when she was "swallowed by a whale" (Russo's tale to Nim). Nim, a resourceful, ingenuous child, has three friends, Selkie, a sea lion; Freddy, a bearded lizard; and Galileo, a pelican, and lives vicariously through the books that come with supplies sent monthly to the island, especially those adventure tales written by Alex Rover, an intrepid explorer in the Indiana Jones mode. (Nim was originally supposed to have imaginary friends in the guise of Huck Finn and Alice [in Wonderland], but theese were removed and the scenes refilmed.) Russo goes off for two days, leaving Nim behind because she is concerned about sea turtle eggs. A storm comes up, leaving Russo adrift and Nim increasingly afraid, especially when a "pirate ship" called The Buccaneer appears to be invading the island. So, using their satellite e-mail, Nim sends a desperate note to Alex Rover, who earlier wrote to Russo for some information about the island's volcano, and pleads with Rover to come help her. But "Alex Rover" is really Alexandra Rover, an agoraphobe who hasn't left her house in over 20 years, not even to get the mail. Can Alexandra conquer her fear and help Nim?

Sounds exciting, no? Well, it was disappointing, which was sad because Nim (Abigail Breslin) was a great character and the storyline promised a rousing adventure. Sadly, Alexandra's efforts to leave her home, and then to make her way to Nim, unlocking her own life, are mostly played for laughs. Dad's plight is sort of suspenseful, but he's got help since the pelican keeps bringing him tools to help him (the animals are slightly anthropormorphized, which is annoying). The "pirates" turn out to be a cruise ship crew looking for a lone island on which to host a luau for a bunch of fat Australian tourists. (Apparently what the book explains that the movie doesn't is that Nim's mom died because a bunch of rowdy tourists from a cruise ship frightened the whale she was studying, which is why Dad told Nim to beware of the ship.) Nim's ingenious "solutions" to drive away the tourists includes having Selkie fart after eating rotten fish and launching Freddy and his lizard friends as bombs. Alexandra finally makes it to the island, doesn't help Nim at all, but is there when Russo returns, and the two apparently fall in love at first sight. Sigh...I know this was supposed to be an adventure/kids' fantasy, but the plot at least needs to make sense, have suspense, and above all the movie should have a little heart. Nim's relationship with her dad and her animal friends was sweet, but not enough to carry the movie. We're not sure why we should care about Alexandra, unless it's just because of her disability. Several exciting things happen, but only about half of them are really suspenseful.

Frankly, I enjoyed all the making-of shorts, including a neat one with Breslin befriending the sea lions, more than most of the movie.

YMMV...but I wouldn't pay for it. Borrow it from the library or Netflix.

We started our new chat schedule tonight. Way back when Remember WENN was still on the air, we used to start at nine, with those on the West Coast joining later. As the years have gone by, chat has gotten pushed back and pushed back until we were starting at eleven. Since James went on his new schedule, I asked if we might start it at least an hour earlier, if it wouldn't disadvantage those on PDT. But they said it was okay, so we started at ten.

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Saturday Shopping (Again)
James was up bright and early to go to the hobby show at the Cobb County Civic Center. It's his club that's throwing the show, so he was involved in setup.

I stayed in to get better acquainted with my feather pillow. :-)

After some oatmeal and an e-mail check, I did the unwanted task of going to WallyWorld. Why? Well, because I was out of oatmeal both at home and at work. Why Walmart? Well, oatmeal is $2.88 there. It's $3.89 everywhere else. I've got good places to put that $4.04...not to mention the 54¢ I saved on yogurt and the cash I saved on the other things I needed to buy.

Meanwhile the temperature rose even in the short time I was in the store. The only relief is that there is a breeze. Otherwise it's heading up to a fry meter score of the high 90s.

From Walmart I went to Costco by way of Borders (since I wanted to have a little fun this afternoon). I wandered about and was intrigued by a new novel called Sunnyside, about Hollywood during the World War I era. Charlie Chaplin is involved, and also a young man who later goes by the name of Lee Duncan and who goes off to war only to rescue a German Shepherd puppy, one who later becomes famous as Rin Tin Tin. It looked like it had some great period color.

But I couldn't decide, and Franklin and Lucy was out in paperback, so I got that instead.

Came home by Costco, where I bought milk, more omeprazole because they had it for the cheapest price I have seen, and more of the bath soap. I'm really happy with this bath soap. Thirteen bars (I'm using one for my face) have lasted over five months with us both showering every night, and the French-milling is wonderful; it doesn't leave glops of soap everywhere. It's totally vegetable based, too.

Came home to have a little lunch and vacuum, then sat down to cool off and watch more Remember WENN. I put the first four episodes on the other night and of course have become lassoed in by the characters all over again. It's a pity we never got that fifth season, even the truncated season five that AMC originally wanted before the "new regime" pulled the plug.

What a dismal disappointment. I haven't watched AMC since, nor do I intend to.

Incidentally if you are interested in viewing episodes, try here (click "more from user" on the right for the rest; these are small, but viewable at original or double size) or downloading episodes here.

(Arrrgh! It's 94.6 on the deck...in the shade!)

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» Friday, June 19, 2009
Hot, Hot, Hot
I was doing pretty well today working—got lots of things done or advertised, except for one last order. The person had sent me some paperwork I needed for one last order, but when I started doing it, I realized they had sent me the wrong paperwork. Ooops. Well, so much for that.

I had to take something out to the mailbox around noon and it was already hot; it was up to 80°F by ten o'clock. By the time I took Willow out, a little after four, the air was hot, still, and breathless. An hour after that, when James came home and we went out to dinner, you probably could have cooked something on the front porch.

We had twofers at Ruby Tuesday, so went there, then went up to Town Center. We got 40 percent off coupons for Borders today. James got the next book in the "Destroyermen" series and Schuyler and Willow (via Mom, of course) bought him the third book in the series for Father's Day.

We made a brief stop at the house for coupons for BJs, and then went there. We needed toothpaste and had a coupon, and James got some Jamaican meat patties, along with the granola bars and canned mushrooms we needed, and some boneless pork ribs to cook in the crock pot. I got more multivitamins, too.

Coming out of BJs was the worst. Ever walk into a bathroom after someone has taken a hot, steamy shower? That's what it was like, without the mist, with a very strong scent of decaying vegetation. Yuck.

We went home a bit out of our way to get a twofer cone of ice cream at Baskin-Robbins. I discovered one thing I do like about summer—fireflies! The weather is just perfect for them. All along the road from BJs to Baskin-Robbins, and then along the road home, especially in grassy areas next to the trees, the ground was filled with quick bright flashes. It was a "firefly frenzy" for sure, and not at JoAnn! (LOL) There were even fireflies winking about our front lawn when we got home.

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» Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Trojan War - Microsoft Attack
Would you believe AVG found another threat while I was scanning and nothing else was open!

Since I was still getting into all web pages, unlike yesterday, I went to Microsoft's onecare.live.com site and ran their free scan. They found the same two Trojans that AVG had found, one irregularity, and a bunch of wonky registry files. I ran it in the background while I worked and restarted after I finished.

So now it's a matter of "we'll see."

Meanwhile, washed towels, watched Designed to Sell during lunch, and stayed the hell inside, since it's in the low 90s outside. Ugh.

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The Trojan War - Skirmish
Just before I went to lunch, I got another Trojan alert. This was one of the same files as last night, "Biskit." I clapped it into the virus vault and then emptied the vault. First I made sure I could update AVG, which I could and did. (This is the third time they've updated since this morning, so I figure they know what's up.) I've shut everything down and am scanning again.

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The Trojan War - Peace Declared (We Hope)
So the first thing I did this morning was run AVG again. This time it didn't find anything except those dang tribalfusion tracking cookies.

BTW, listen to Elaine (comment in last post). Don't go to websites if you suspect there's malware on your computer. The trouble is, I didn't know when I first went to my bank site. And when I went the second time I just thought something was wrong with Firefox, since I told AVG to zap the virus when it warned me of it. Every once in a while Firefox will shut me out of websites, or say I'm not connected to the internet (I think my computer gets in a snit with the network; usually I reboot and it works again).

One thing I did do, however, that I won't do again is that when AVG warned me of this trojan threat, I clicked on AVG's link for more information. The link opened a tab and never did come up.

Something else interesting that I noticed this trojan did is that when I clicked on My E-Bay, which is just a summary page of what you have bought and what you are bidding on, instead of giving me the page, it asked me to download a file called "ebay(something).dll. You can bet I clicked "no" on that in a hurry. Once AVG quarantined and killed the Trojan files, I was able to get back in this page again without it asking me to load anything.

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» Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Trojan War
As I said, this morning I was in Firefox when AVG alerted me about a possible Trojan attack. I told AVG to kill the file, but apparently it had already installed itself. Thank God my work connection stayed stable, but some connections disappeared. I could get into my bank, my 1and1.com connection, and a couple of other things. Some websites came up blank and only came up if I reloaded, and reloaded, and reloaded, sometimes coming up in text format.

Once I finished up work, I attempted again to get AVG to update. It was saying it was missing a control file. So I uninstalled AVG, then reinstalled it, asked it to update—and it again said I was missing the control file.

Since Avast helped the time I had a Trojan on the laptop, I tried to download that. But whatever this thing was, it was keeping tight control on my web access. It kept saying I had a 404 (File not found) error. James finally had to download the file on his computer and put it on a thumb drive.

I installed Avast, ran its scan—and it found nothing!

I went looking around online and there was a suggestion to use Windows' scanner. Unfortunately, it only works in Internet Explorer (thanks a lot, Bill!) and I couldn't get that site to come up in Internet Explorer. IE couldn't even find microsoft.com. Gah.

In the meantime AVG did do its nightly scan, and found nothing. That told me these Trojans were brand new and were blocking the update of the virus definitions so I wouldn't be able to kill them.

One more solution presented itself: on a blog I found a reference to this problem. It directed you to go to AVG's website and find the two .bin files that were missing, manually download them, and then direct AVG to update using a directory rather than online. So I downloaded them via the laptop and saved them on my computer via the network connection, told it to update via directory...and it did.

When I ran the scan again, I found ten instances of Trojan infection, including the one AVG had warned me of this morning. There were two .exe files in Windows, Id09.exe and freddy(some number).exe, and something with the name of BIUK and one with ALYW at the end. With its new update, AVG killed them all, or at least it looks like it when I rebooted. Firefox appears to be working again. I didn't try IE.

I just hope this thing wasn't able to harvest any info from the sites I could get to, like my bank!

I wonder where it came from. James said just because it triggered in Firefox doesn't mean the file came from Firefox; he went to the same website (Comics.com) and wasn't affected. It's possible it was something downloaded from e-mail. My sister-in-law sends me these cute little e-mails with singing and dancing graphics...I wonder if the trigger was hidden there. I'd better warn her tomorrow about what happened.

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OMG...
...how long has "Ross the Intern" been on Days of Our Lives?

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What The Heck?
I took a break to read the comics this morning, and when I got to Comics.com I got a popup saying that AVG had found a possible Trojan horse. I told it to kill the file.

Everything went haywire. Now AVG says it can't update because the control file is missing. Firefox barely works. Some pages come up blank and I have to reload and reload them before simple text versions of the page come up and then the correct page. If I can get into Google AVG is no longer scanning my files; same with Eudora incoming e-mail. I couldn't get into my work files for a few minutes. If I try to get into web pages besides my work page it tells me Internet Explorer can't find the page. I can barely get in to AVG and the file download page comes in nowhere else, not on James' computer and not on the laptop. Luckily James still has the .exe file on his computer, so I can reload AVG later.

I guess I will have to reload Firefox as well. Don't know what to do about IE; maybe it will work properly once I load AVG. (Maybe Firefox will, too.)

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» Tuesday, June 16, 2009
All Things Great and Small
Continued restless this afternoon. For some reason I was in a funk. If anyone tells you you don't have mood swings after menopause, don't believe them! I might as well have had "my friend" today.

On the way home I saw something cool, though. I forgot to check the traffic map, so took a gamble on going south on I-85 and then turning north at I-75 at Brookwood. Once I had done so, I had just passed Northside Drive and was between Northside and Howell Mill Road when I looked up to my right, up the retaining wall, where there was a grass verge and some trees and bushes, and there browsing on one of the young trees was a doe! I didn't know deer came so far intown.

Five minutes later I was sniffling over Perry Como singing "And I Love You So" (one of my mom's favorites) on "Escape," and by the time I was closer to home "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" was playing and I was remembering the day in Boston that the bunch of us—Mary B, Mary Fall, Deb Walsh, Gail and I (the years are getting to me; can't remember if Terri was there or not)—went to see Somewhere in Time. Gail fell in love with the music, and we went to Strawberries on Washington Street to see if there was a soundtrack album. One hadn't been released, but she did find a classical record—or maybe it was a tape—with "Rhapsody" on it.

James made what I call "pork glop" for supper tonight; it's actually delicious. You take ground pork, mix it up with an equal amount of TVP, add some minced onion and chunky peanut butter. He also put a little bit of curry powder in it. We had it with low-carb whole wheat tortillas and more of the salad from last night.

We finished watching the first disc of Danger Man tonight. This was the original series Patrick McGoohan did that later became Secret Agent. The last episode on the disc featured a pre-Doctor Who Patrick Troughton, which amused us.

The penultimate episode featured Donald Pleasence as a mousy civil servant, which gave me an idea: I put on Fantastic Voyage. I don't have the new version; I ought to get it...there's commentary and a documentary. I saw this movie for the first time on the last day of school in...1969, I think. It was junior high, anyway. We used to see a movie in the auditorium on the last day of school and on the last day of school before Christmas vacation. We saw Fantastic Voyage, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Hello Down There—and the one we didn't like, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. (Musicals were lost on kids our age. When Howard Keel started singing "Bless your beautiful hide..." everyone broke out laughing. We joked about that line for weeks afterwards.)

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Sit! Stay!
I am so restless today; it's all I can do to stay in my seat. At the same time my eyes hurt and I'm sleepy. So my head wants to go back to bed and my feet are all for spinning the chair around. Talk about conflicts of interest!

I can't tell you how odd it is for us to be getting up together. I think the last time we did so was over twenty years ago, when we were both working at Robins AFB! James has always had a later schedule than me since we were married. The worst was when he was doing support for Packard-Bell and worked two to eleven. I would come home, eat supper, watch Jeopardy, then crawl upstairs and try to sleep for a couple of hours so we could have some time together during the week. In hindsight I should have skipped supper and crawled into bed when I got home, because that's when I'm actually sleepy. My eyes hurt from the computer screen, the fluorescent lights, and the sun by the time I get home. When I worked at Trifari I used to wear sunglasses during the day to protect them from the lights, but I can't make out things on the computer screen with sunglasses on.

Last night we were done with supper by six thirty. Wicked bizarre, I'll tell you.

Schuyler met me with that same shell-shocked look this morning. She looks like an anime version of a budgie when she does that.

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» Monday, June 15, 2009
New Routine
So the alarms went off this morning about simultaneously. I let James get up first and then wandered into the bathroom after him. The only bad thing about this arrangement is that he turns the overhead light on in order to shave; I've always done everything to the light of a nightlight bulb, partially to keep the brighter light from seeping around the bathroom door to awaken him, but mostly because strong light and my eyes don't mix well in the morning.

I turned the light on in the living room and approached Schuyler's cage, calling her name, and heard her hop down out of her swing. You should have seen her face! "You mean you guys are getting up early?"

When I left the house there was a grey cloud cap over the sky, like a monk's tonsure, and when I turned up Spring Road a scarlet-orange sun was peeking out from under it. By the time I reached the freeway exit the clouds were southbound as if God were sweeping them out of the way for the day. But I drove back into them as I went south as well, and now it's cloudy again. All right with me...Mr. Sun and I do not get along.

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» Sunday, June 14, 2009
On a Sunday Afternoon
Mr. Headache did not cease after I ate breakfast. I took two Tylenol and laid down on the futon for twenty minutes and not only didn't it get better, it was worse. I finally had to get back into bed for an hour and almost fall asleep before my neck muscles relaxed enough to let it go.

Finally I was able to get dressed and go up to JoAnn as I had intended. On the way I stopped at the QT for a paper. They had another JoAnn coupon to add to the two I already had.

Most of the stuff I bought was already on sale: a red-white-and-blue bell for the Fourth, some cute recycled scrapbooking papers I can use for cards, a cross-stitch magazine, and some sampler packs of unusual glitter colors. I also got a combination 4-in-1 corner punch/embosser, double-sided tape, and a little recipe book that I may gift or keep.

Came home through the park (Kennesaw National Battlefield). Despite the fact that it was already 2 o'clock, some people were still arriving with picnic baskets. Took the usual right turn to go down Kennesaw Avenue to discover it was blocked about halfway down for more bridge construction. (And when they say the bridge is being replaced, they mean it—there's a dirt pile there right now.)

Got home to finish cleaning up downstairs: vacuumed inside the closet and also in the library, put the cases of vegetables under the coats, swept the hall and the laundry room and then vacuumed up the sweepings, vacuumed the hall rug and then put everything back in place; tidied up a couple of other things, too.

Finally, in a belated tribute to the digital changeover, I decided to sit down and watch The Big Time, a movie about the early days of television that aired on TNT back in October of 2002. It was a prospective pilot for a series that didn't make it, and here nearly seven years later, I'm still sorry it didn't happen. I would categorize this movie as "a television version of Remember WENN," as there were similar plot points: a brilliant, driven manager; a naïve (but not stupid) young woman from the Midwest who has come to the big city for a job; and a go-getter who's not above wheeling/dealing and going behind people's backs.

There were several plots going during the movie. The first is the arrival of Audrey Drummond, who becomes secretary to R.T. Sloan, "the Colonel," who runs the day-to-day operations at Empire Television, a smaller network competing against the big three of 1948: NBC, CBS, and Dumont. Empire is owned by "Doc" Powers, the millionaire electronics genius, played by Christopher Lloyd in a well-done serious role. Powers is late showing up at Empire and when he arrives, he does so with a surprise companion: a bottle-blonde, new young wife named Marion, played by Molly Ringwald, whom everyone assumes is a golddigger. In the meantime, young floor manager Walt Kaplan (who's dying to direct) and advertising agent Timothy Wilkison are involved in a live broadcast of Thornton Wilder's Our Town with prima donna radio actor Vaughn Clay (played delightfully by John DeLancie), who's never worked in television. Yet a fourth part of the story involves African-American jazz musician Joe Royal and his quintet, who audition for a spot on Empire and unexpectedly get the chance to perform on something more than the sign-on musical interlude every morning.

Oh, and comedian John Byner had a small part as Ed Wynn, and does a nice job of imitating him.

There was so much to be explored had this gone to series: Audrey's rising involvement in working in television, the hidden facets behind Marion Powers, Joe Royal's experiences with the bigotry of the time (already evidenced in the film where Powers chews out Royal about something he does during an emergency), and the secrets behind Sloan (the movie very gently hints that Sloan is gay, in an era when the exposure of that secret would have cost him his career). It's a pity we never got a chance to learn more about these characters, especially Marion, who is definitely not who she seems to be!

(TNT hasn't shown the film in years, but they still have the page up about it: The Big Time. The Q&A with the cast and writers is interesting, although I laughed at something Michael Silver says—he refers to Walt as a former fighter pilot. No...he says he flew B-17s and then a Liberator; those are bombers. And here's a photo of Doc and Marion, and a review of the film

James was home promptly at five. We had chicken thighs basted in wine and fried-rice flavor Rice-a-Roni.

Oh, cool...we haven't missed the final Wallander...

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Poor James. I bet he only got about four hours sleep last night.

But he dutifully got up at 6:30, or whatever, and went off to work. I woke up again at 7:20, and then managed to sleep till quarter till nine. Evidently during the last hour I had my neck in an odd position, because I woke up with the arthritis in my neck giving me the dickens in the form of a headache.

By the time I got done in the bathroom it was nearly 9:30. We still can't water between 10 and 4, so I pulled some clothes on and went outside to finally wash out that dang plastic storage box in the garage that I want to use on the deck for the grill equipment. I was still headachy and didn't realize until I had wet one of the Xerox boxes in the garage that I was spraying in there. The water doesn't appear to have leaked through to the inside. I should swap out the box, though. Sigh.

It was nice and breezy and the sun was on the other side of the house, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to use the hedge clippers to cut down the bushes a little more. The guy that does our lawn trims them a couple of times a year but he never cuts them as short as I want, and it's getting hard to see St. Francis anymore. So I plugged in the heavy-duty cord and plugged that into the clipper...and nothing happened.

At first I thought something was wrong with the clipper, as it looks like some boring insect has methodically bored holes in its plastic handle. Then I thought perhaps the breaker on the outside plug had been tripped...although it was fine when we used it for the Christmas lights. Finally I did what we used to have to do in the old house to use the power cord in the front yard (since the idiot who built the old house put an outdoor power plug in the back, but not in the front), bring the cord inside to plug in. I tested it out first on the clippers, then on something I knew worked, the nightlight down in the library.

Dang. The cord's deader than the proverbial doornail. (Like Charles Dickens, I don't know what's so dead about a doornail, but...)

Phooey. By the time I could get dressed, get to the closest hardware or discount store that sold new cords, and get back, it would be freaking hot again...and I still hadn't had my breakfast yet and still had the damn headache. Talk about "best-laid plans."

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» Saturday, June 13, 2009
Shopping and Shelves
No sleep for the weary...or for the Farmer's Market attendees. However, it was still coolish and I wore my floppy hat, so it was nice. Not much to buy today as we still had things from last week. The flower seller had the most beautiful long-stemmed flowers for bouquets: big sunflower type flowers, the most lovely gladioli, and other brightly-colored flowers. Almost made me sorry I was allergic...but I wouldn't spend money on cut flowers anyway.

James had forgotten to add tea to the grocery list, so we ended up going back to BJs. Picked up the rice, too, and some canned chili. Then we stopped at Kroger for my bread, bananas, and other odd things. We got some chicken thighs on sale, which I will cook for supper tomorrow night since James has to work. This Kroger has completely remodeled and everything is scattered from where it used to be. There are big signs at the ends of the aisles now saying what is there, and people stand in the middle of the aisle looking bewildered.

Once all this was trucked home and mostly put up, we took James' one shirt to the cleaner and then stopped at the hobby shop. I mostly sat working on a story in the meeting room.

Then we went to Lowes. James and I have been talking about adding more shelves to the "pantry closet" downstairs. So we went to Lowes and bought some 4 inch pine boards that we had cut into two-foot lengths, plus some L brackets, some for the center with braces in them, and the rest just plain (the brass-plated ones were cheaper, so we got those). It took us a couple of hours, but we got four put up and they are nicely stocked with cans of veggies and soup. James also put one up in the laundry room, which has Lysol and other non-food things in it. Now the wire racks on the door have much lighter boxes, with pasta and soup mixes. There's still canned stuff on the old DVD tower, and also boxes of peas, beans, and corn on the floor.

We still have three boards left and there is room for at least another in the closet.

By this time we were both ravenous, having had small breakfasts and small burgers for lunch, so I called Dragon and we went to pick up Chinese food (yes, without peas and carrots...sorry, running gag...) and that was our supper, while we looked fruitlessly through the television for the news and found only baseball.

James had only minimal time to relax at the computer and then go downstairs for a bit of modeling before he had to come upstairs to get ready for bed. I watched the Colour Confidental recorded from this afternoon and sat Schuyler next to me so she wouldn't be lonesome. Also reading Linda Lear's Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature and enjoying it very much.

Anyway, have some "exciting" news: James starts a new shift Monday. After all these years he has finally gotten them to change it from 9:30 to 6:30 to 7:30 to 4:30. Wow. On Monday and Tuesday he will actually get home before me. And we should be able to eat before six o'clock. My stomach won't know what to do with good food that early.

We were discussing vacation today, too (that is, if things don't get so bad that he gets laid off...sigh...one of the reasons we're stocking extra groceries). He should have more days coming in the fall. I was thinking I would finally love to see Philadelphia. Of all the historical sites I have seen, I have never been to Independence Hall. James says the USS New Jersey is berthed across the river in Camden, NJ, and the USS Olympia is nearby. I didn't recognize the name of the latter ship until he reminded me by quoting "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." It's Admiral Dewey's ship. Cool, I'd love to see that. I'd love to see Reading Market, too; have read about it and also seen it on one of the Rick Sebak specials. Perhaps Emma would be able to come into Philly and visit with us one day, too.

I'd also like to stop a couple of days in Lancaster/Penn Dutch country to show James Roadside America and see the National Christmas Museum.

Well, we'll see. Right now we just have to adjust to a whole new sleep schedule...

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» Friday, June 12, 2009
Adventures in Analog
Most people my age say "childhood television" and remember a big brown wooden box. It was considered a piece of furniture, just like the big freestanding radio sets that came before it, and much care was taken in not only choosing the model of television, but the finish: light wood to match oak or birch furniture, darker to match walnut or maple.

Our earliest set, which I remember only because it sat in the basement for several years before Dad hollowed it out to make shelving units, was an Andrea television/radio unit, small screen to the left, radio with sliding tuning bar at the right. The actual set of my youth was a big dark-brown General Electric, topped by a pair of Bakelite-based "rabbit ears." It was parked next to the stairway to the attic and in later years a thick double-line of antenna cable ran down the stairs from the attic to connect to it, with the antenna mounted on the chimney. The top half was the screen, and the bottom half, covered by some roughly woven material with gold thread highlights, was the speaker. Directly under the screen was a narrow horizontal panel with one large knob covered with numbers from 2 to 13 (the tuner), and smaller brown Bakelite buttons, one to turn the monster on and off, the other two for the vertical and horizontal holds. Parents of toddlers and small children often removed the knobs and either just put them on at night when everyone was watching, or left a pliers on top of the television to change the channels (invariably if you took the knobs off they got lost and you ended up doing this anyway) via the metal knob-mount.

(Here's a 1950s GE, but it has knobs to one side of the screen, not underneath. Otherwise our TV looked a lot like this one. Check out the Andrea model on the left; ours probably looked a lot like this; not sure we had the doors.)

Today you just switch on the television (and the cable or satellite box) and there's nothing left to do, unless you still operate with rabbit ears. Back then getting a picture might involve a complicated process. First you had to get up to turn the knob to the proper channel. Remote controls existed back then, but most had long cords to attach them to the television--something called "infra-red" remotes were around, but they were all, corded or not, hideously expensive. For middle and lower class folks, there was an alternative remote control: it was called a small child. LOL.

Even when clicked to the proper channel, you might have to mess with the white or clear plastic "fine tuner" that surrounded the tuner knob. You turned it one way or the other to find the best picture. Fine-tuning frequently also involved turning the rabbit ears, extending or compressing one of the aerials, putting one up and one down, pointing them at different angles, etc., until the picture was clear. Until then, you got various degrees of "snow" (those fine particles that told you the station signal was going out of range) and skew. Occasionally the picture wouldn't stay adjusted unless you stood there at a weird angle, holding the little round ball at the tip of the antenna. If you wanted to see the program badly enough, there you stayed. Sometimes aluminum foil on the tips helped.

Invariably, either when you'd just gotten comfortable in your chair or on the sofa with some knitting or had a custard cup of ice cream in your hand, an airplane would fly over and the picture would start to roll vertically. Eventually you would have to put whatever down and mess with the vertical tuning knob. You would nudge it minimally one way or the other until the picture stopped rolling, sit down, pick up the knitting...at which point the effects of the airplane that just flew over dissipated and the picture started rolling again. Aieeee!

Only occasionally did horizontal hold button manipulation become necessary...the picture was much more likely to roll than skew sideways into jagged-edge lightning bolts, so that the screen looked as if someone on drugs was viewing it.

Both vertical roll and horizontal skew happened along with the snow when you were getting out of range of a station. Invariably this led to an upgrade of antenna. The rabbit ears on the top of the big box were exchanged for a spiky metal antenna on the roof. They came in small sizes for people who just wanted local stations, and huge outfits called "fringe antennas" that got reception for those out in the country. The antenna wire was a pair of copper leads wrapped in a flexible dark brown rubbery casing. To put the antenna on the television, there was none of this screwing in a cable nonsense. You pulled the television away from the wall and found the two small screws that were the antenna connectors. Then you took a small knife (paring knives were best) and made a slit in the rubber between the two wires as far down as you needed. Then on the tips of the two ends you now had, you slit into them gently until you exposed bare copper wire on each (it was easier if you twisted the wire as you took the rubber off, so it was neat, but you had to be careful not to break the strands) until you had enough wire exposed to wrap around the screws. (You could attach the wires to little hooks and then put the hooks around the screws, but most people just did the wire-to-screw maneuver.) If you could put on an antenna wire without cutting a finger, you had mastered it. I mastered the maneuver at twelve.

Tuning in that much-desired outdoor aerial—ohboy, more channels!—for the very first time was another trip. It invariably involved dad up on the roof, yelling down to a child on the lawn or the driveway, "Ask your mother if it's okay." Child would run to the door or the window: "Dad wants to know if it's okay." "We're getting Channel 12, but not Channel 10." Child stepped back some feet to relay this info to dad. Dad would twitch the antenna a few degrees to the right or left. "How about now?" Child returned to door or window. "How about now?" "We're getting 10 and 12, but not 6." Back went the child: "Mom says we're getting 10 and 12, but not 6." Twist. "How about now..." Always there was one channel, often the one with mom's favorite series or dad's favorite sports broadcast, whose broadcast tower was on a 90-degree angle from all the other stations. You either put up with the fuzzy picture in order to get a brilliant picture on the other ten channels, or you finally gave up and invested in an antenna rotor, which motorized the aerial and was controlled by a box on the television with a big knob that pointed to all directions on the compass. When it moved the knob lit up and the gadget let out a god-awful thumping noise which led to the instruction "bump that thing over to Channel 6, will ya?" and then later "bump it back to Channel 10."

The back of one of these old televisions were almost as interesting as the front. The rear was covered with some sort of thick, unbendable board that was rough-woven like fine burlap on one side and smooth on the other. There were evenly-spaced holes in it so the heat from inside the television could vent. The rear of the big picture tube stuck out of the middle of this board, covered by some dark hard plastic. If you undid the screws in each corner, you could take the backing off the television and see its innards: not circuit board like today, but rows of little tubes that looked like elongated light bulbs marching in short columns. If you were semi-knowledgable in electronics and something went wrong with the television, you could take out the appropriate tube and bring it to any hardware store, where they had racks of little replacement tubes. Failing that, it was a call to the television repairman. Back then there was one on almost every streetcorner.

Mid-1960s televisions had something called "the red button" (nice technical term!) in the rear. Pressing the red button was something reserved for catastrophe. If you turned on the television and the sound or picture, or sometimes both, didn't appear, you pressed the red button. It was some type of reset button, not unlike rebooting the computer today when Windows locks up, and often it worked. Of course (go figure), the repair we did most often on our annoying Magnavox (successor to the GE) was repair of the red button itself, which shorted out at inopportune times.

In the early 1960s, the Federal Communications Commission passed a ruling that all new televisions had to have a UHF tuner (channels 14 through 83) along with the VHF one (2-13). (There never was a "Channel 1." The frequencies contained within it were used for police radios.) So when we junked the beloved GE in 1964 (Dad took the innards out of that one, too, making Mom some shelving near the washing machine to hold her detergents) and got the Magnavox I always hated, we gained a UHF dial. This one operated differently than the VHF dial, in that, instead of clicking from channel to channel, it turned freely, leaving you to tune in various channels by minute manipulation of the knob. It was common while watching a UHF station for a long period of time to have the channel "slip" and you had to go back to the tuner and feather-flick it to get it back on signal.

Everything interfered with television pictures in those days, whether you were on rabbit ears or outside aerial. If Mom was using the blender or Dad the drill you would see a horizontal line or dots running across the screen. Sometimes even the sound would hum. If the guy next door was using a big electric drill to do some woodworking, you might get the same effect, if a bit fainter. When airplanes flew over the picture faded in and out and shimmied for several seconds. For a long time we received police calls on one of the channels, over the soundtrack of whatever program was on.

If two channels were close to each other, like Channels 36 and 38, the stronger of the two channels might cause "ghosting" on the weaker one. You would see an off-framed faint image of the stronger channel superimposed on the picture you were watching. In certain weather, you might not even be able to make out the weaker station for this "ghost."

The neatest phenomenon was something called a "skip image." The television signals, sown over a large area, would hit reflective areas in the atmosphere (ionosphere?) and "skip," often to areas way beyond their intended range. This began with AM radio, and it wasn't surprising during certain atmospheric conditions (like snowstorms) to be able to hear Chicago radio stations in New England. (On one memorable occasion Dad turned on the car radio at 9 p.m. during our vacation in Williamsburg, VA, and was receiving WBZ from Boston.) But skip images on television were less common and it was always a cool thing when you got them. We were too far out of range of the CBS station in Hartford, CT, to regularly watch it, but one memorable summer Saturday evening I managed to watch an entire episode of Mannix, which was being pre-empted on the Providence and Boston stations (naturally it was the second part of a two-part story), via the Hartford channel on a much-welcome skip. The coolest one was on the morning of a snowstorm when I made out some twisted, fuzzy, soundless images of The Phil Donohue Show on Channel 3. No station in the New England area showed Donohue at that time and I was surprised as all get-out when for mere seconds a station logo came up out of the static-clotted television screen for a Miami, FL, station!

It was actually possible to wake up in those days to nothing on television. Nowadays stations just stay on all night, filling hours with programs shilling for useless exercise items, appliances, and geegaws. Back then TV stations came on in the morning. First there would be snow, then the infamous test pattern. In the black-and-white era you might get lucky and see the famous Indian head test pattern. Many stations had their own test patterns, with their own logo and a photo of a station personality. Then usually a man would announce the beginning of the station's broadcast day. He might use their call letters, even their frequency, and state the station's ownership. Next you might have a prayer and/or the National Anthem, before seguing into a farm report, early news, a children's program. At night the reverse happened: after the last credits of the last program rolled, you had the national anthem played over some film of a flag flapping the breeze, and the announcer intoning "This ends our broadcast day." The station usually signed off with a high-pitched hum that made you hastily turn the sound down before it went to noisy snow.

Today that all passes forever. Now more than ever, you sit in a chair and grab something about the size of a deck of cards, but twice as long. You press a button. The television comes on and you watch in comfort. If the program coming up isn't a favorite, you use the remote control to change the channel. Even the folks left with dials and buttons will have to use the remote to access their converter boxes. No skip images, no ghosting, no snow, no electrical interference, no rolling, no skew. Kids will never know the trouble we had tuning in the beast...

...or all the fun.

"This ends our analog broadcast  day era."

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Endless Errands
Started out at Publix this morning to see if they had twofer oatmeal...no luck. Did get Wheat Thins, K cereal, juice for James, elbow macaroni...and cherries and ricotta were on sale. I have been trying to eat a little ricotta every day to help with my digestion problems.

Since there was no oatmeal on twofer, I went to Walmart. The oatmeal at Publix and Kroger are both almost $4 a box and only $2.19 at WallyWorld. Needed other stuff there, so it made sense to go. Except they had no low-sugar oatmeals at all, in any flavor. Gah. Was able to grab some diabetic socks for James and my yogurt. Damn. Now I have to pay $3.89 or go to another Walmart.

Next went to BJs. Wow, they have great prices on DVD season sets...but would I really watch all this stuff? They have all the seasons of McHale's Navy.

Bought gas, stopped at the Austell Borders to see what "transformation" they wrought since last weekend when they said they'd be remodeling. Yep, the movie and music sections are gone. I feel a bit bad, as I have bought a few movies and some music at Borders, but their selections were getting smaller and their prices higher. I'll miss the Christmas CDs! (Unless they just stock some at Christmas.)

On the other hand, the store now looks more like the original Atlanta Borders that used to be at the Tuxedo shopping center on Roswell Road. They had books, remainder books (reeeeeaaaallly good bargain books, too), and unique greeting cards and some novelty candies. I preferred their old coffee shop, instead of Seattle Coffee (it's not Starbucks; Starbucks is in Barnes & Noble), but Seattle Coffee's Cocoa Trio is delicious.

Mr. Monk is Miserable is out in paperback—yay! There's also a Sherlock Holmes book I'd like to get.

Like Scarlett O'Hara, I decided to think about the oatmeal tomorrow. I still have some. And drat, I forgot to buy rice at BJs.

Had an "entertaining" afternoon doing the toilets and cleaning out my sink in the bathroom, as it's clogged up again. I think it is from the soap I use for my face. At one time we had lots of coupons and bought lots of Jergens soap, which is very soft. I'm going to try using one of the regular bath bars, which still has moisturizers in it, instead, and see if that helps.

Then wrote another note to Dish Network. This time I took photos of the television screen. They are mis-framing the HD programming on both the Atlanta PBS stations. (All the other local stations' HD programming comes in in the proper proportion.) The last time I contacted them about this, they had one of their dweeby little technicians answer that I probably wasn't using the "format" button on my remote properly. (The format button stretches and zooms the picture.) Oh, please. If I watch it broadcast, it's widescreen. If I watch it on Dish, it's fullscreen with each side (and sometimes words and logos) chopped off. I know how to work the remote. Duh. You must be confusing me with someone who can't figure out how to install his converter box.

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» Thursday, June 11, 2009
I've Been Tagged
by Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

4 movies you would watch over and over again:
Galaxy Quest
Auntie Mame
Journey to the Center of the Earth (with James Mason, of course)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

(I won't list the Christmas movies...it would be unfair)

4 places you have lived:
Cranston, RI
Warner Robins, GA
Atlanta, GA (Brookhaven)
Smyrna, GA

4 TV shows you love to watch:
Lassie
Get Smart
House
The Good Life (Good Neighbors)

4 places you have been on vacation:
Lake George, NY
Boston, MA
San Francisco, CA
Disney World

4 of your favorite foods:
Pork fried rice (with no peas and carrots...LOL)
Chicken broth with rice
Chicken cacciatore
The "Renegade" at Longhorn

4 web sites you visit daily:
My bank
Blogger.com
CNN.com
FoxNews.com

4 places you would rather be right now:
Boston
Brenton Point in Newport
Gatlinburg
Lake George

4 things you want to do before you die:
Visit England
Write a book
Take a cruise to Alaska
Go home again

4 books you wish you could read again for the first time:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy
Any of Gladys Taber's Stillmeadow books
A Christmas Carol

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Meeting the Neighbors
We had our second association meeting tonight. This was held in the neighborhood and a couple of more people showed up. We had a nice chat, had elections, talked about doing some things (a block party maybe, "Yard of the Month," neighborhood watch.

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Too Quiet...
Yikes! How dark it's gotten. Just went outside and it's still and mostly quiet, a couple of birds sounding off, but not the usual clamor. And the weather radio just went off.

On Lassie it would be about time for the spooky music to start... <wry grin>

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» Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Oh, Good...
This means I can finally wash out that empty plastic storage box in the garage without having to remember to go outside after midnight on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, so we can put the darn thing on the deck where we need it.

State Of Georgia Declares Drought Is Over

Looks like they will still have watering regulations, which is good, or everyone will be watering their damnfool lawns for hours at the time. Amazing how people water their lawns during midday when half the water evaporates in the heat!

Me, I don't intend to water a darn thing: we keep the lawn cut and neat, and we have TruGreen to keep the weeds down. The good Lord can keep the lawn watered as nature intended.

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Night and Day
That's yesterday and today. I have no idea if the yeast infection meds precipitated yesterday's bad feelings, but be assured I won't use that again. Today I've been busy at my computer and while building an order started a load of clothes and got rid of some cardboard boxes. When I went to get more water I refilled the bird feeder and there's been traffic since then: three chickadees, at least one perky titmouse, and the cardinal couple. I have a "sun'n'sand" Yankee candle burning...so reminiscent of Coppertone!

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» Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Long Day
Gah. Woke up with a headache, went back to bed for an hour with ibuprofin, hustled off to work, printed this and that, made calls, received calls. Felt sleepy and my eyes hurt all day. The nap at lunch helped a bit.

I took a different medicine last night, than I usually take, for a yeast infection. I'm wondering if it bothered me. An allergic reaction, perhaps?

Can't move without hearing about the digital television countdown now. I don't get it. It's not rocket science. If you have put a VCR or a DVD player on your TV, you can put on the converter box. Is anyone even listening to the news reports? There was an amazing story on the news tonight about a recycling center simply brimming with televisions, and the reason they are getting them is that people think they won't work anymore! (LOL...unless there's a bunch of guys getting new televisions to watch sports by buffaloing their wife into thinking their television won't work after Friday.) Or maybe it's just an excuse to get a new television?

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Woohoo!
It's Official: Futurama is Reborn!

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Santized
This is something I've heard on other health pages. Indeed, normal handwashing with regular soap will take care of most germs. Antibacterial cleaners just encourage resistant strains of bacteria.

There is learned speculation that the burgeoning allergies that kids have—who heard of peanut allergies in the 1960s?—are caused by children's immune systems basically not having enough work to do.

Too Clean for Our Own Good?

Heck, I remember drinking out of the hose instead of going in the house, having eggnogs made from raw eggs (every morning for twelve years of school!), and other practices that would horrify mothers today. And my doctor complained that my mom "sheltered" me too much. LOL.

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» Monday, June 08, 2009
Wow
Slave Soldiers Honored, called "National Treasures"

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Will Miracles Never Cease
I walked into work this morning, dreading every step, as I'd woken up once every 90 minutes last night and was prepared to face the blast of hot air that came from the building being shut down over the weekend.

Surprisingly, it was only 78°F when I got here, and I could feel cool air coming from the vents (well, not the one in my cubie, but around me, at least!). So either someone left the A/C going all weekend or they've finally fixed something.

I suppose next Monday will show that.

The left side of my jaw is still painful. Yesterday, after we had eaten breakfast and gone to Kroger, we were planning to go to the movies—finally—but that wasn't for another hour or so. So I washed some towels, made the bed, read e-mail, the usual lazy Sunday stuff. Finally my stomach growled a bit, so I made a peanut butter sandwich with some of the French bread we'd bought Saturday.

Well, French bread is always chewier the day after, so I had to put an effort into chewing each bite. About halfway through the sandwich I bit down, and it was if my jaw dislocated. I saw several stars and I think a comet. My teeth are fine, nothing's swollen or misshapen, but now the joint of my jaw hurts and it's hard to chew, and I can't grit my teeth without it hurting like a muscle cramp on the left side. I took some ibuprofin but it barely cut the throbbing.

Anyway, we went to see Star Trek finally, and I'm not sure what to say. On a whole I enjoyed it, although the relentless pacing of the film is wearying. The pace is necessary lest you ask questions like "Where did the big canyon in the middle of Iowa come from?" or "Who on earth did Mrs. Kirk remarry that has little Jimmy so f***ed up?" or "Okay, so they made Scotty into a humorous character, but WTF was that thing with the water tubes all about?" (it was filmed at a Budweiser factory, actually) or "What's with these damn catwalks in spaceships with no safety rails?" Let's not even touch some of the science or the weirdly insane villain. There were nice touches—loved the reference to Admiral Archer's beagle—and most of the casting was good, although Winona Ryder was wasted mostly wandering around looking wide-eyed. My favorite character was always Dr. McCoy and Karl Urban had him spot-on; even if I had enjoyed nothing else his McCoy would have done it for me. Nice to see Leonard Nimoy again—goodness, he's sounding so old. And as usual in an action flick these days—wonder what Gene Roddenberry would have thought of that aspect—lots of explosions, etc. Enterprise looked good and Spock had an interesting vessel (the "eggbeater ship" we called it).

At one point on Vulcan I was looking at the landscape and thought it looked familiar: darn, doesn't that look like Vasquez Rocks? (For the non-Lassie-philes out there, the later Timmy episodes filmed repeatedly at a California geological landmark called Vasquez Rocks. They had been pushed diagonally by uplift and the layered rocks were very distinctive. The Martins lost sheep, goats, and even falcons—and Timmy—up there with unnerving frequency.) So when I got home I was paging through the trivia, goofs, etc. featured on the IMDb...and damn, if it wasn't Vasquez Rocks...photos of which were run through the computer and duplicated to form part of Vulcan's landscape. Well, now we know Lassie could have found Young Spock! LOL.

Oh, yeah, and that link between Star Trek and Doctor Who: Scotty picks up a little alien in his travels, who is played by Deep Roy, who did guest star roles on Doctor Who, including most famously the "Peking Homonculous" in the episode "Talons of Weng-Chiang" (the episode in which the Doctor dresses as Sherlock Holmes, and Holmes is quoted in Star Trek...well, everything is connected to one another, isn't it?--LOL).

Had chicken strips in salad last night and watched Waking the Dead, this one about the death of two sexually abused boys at a facility that was supposed to help them. Some of these episodes are particularly creepy, and this certainly was one of them.

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» Saturday, June 06, 2009
A Sequel to "Font Conference"
"Font Fight"

Sadly, not quite as clever, but thanks to Ron for finding this!

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Sausage-O-Rama
We picked up the apples for today's lunch centerpiece after dinner last night and James spent most of the evening cooking up the chicken apple sausages with mushrooms, onions, and apples, and a little bit of maple syrup. He had to do a little extra cooking as two of the people coming to lunch are our friends who are Jewish. I checked the sausages when I bought them and, although they were chicken sausages, they had a pork casing. So I also bought some boneless skinless chicken thighs, which we needed anyway, and James cooked up one package of them in the same manner as the sausage.

This morning it was hard to get up at 8:30, but we shook ourselves awake and went to the Farmer's Market for fresh corn on the cob and cucumbers, as well as French bread. We sampled some chicken pot pie and walked by the greyhound rescue folks and let the big-eyed dogs sniff our hands.

From there we went directly to the Butlers. We had a very small crowd today as some folks were not feeling well, and even Colin was still in the hospital. Poor kid is going stir-crazy. However, we still had a great time, and the sausage was well-received.

Afterwards we took the other container of sausage home, then went to the hobby shop and out to Trader Joe's. We didn't have anything else planned, so we came home and I dubbed off Jay Leno's last Tonight Show as long as various things from the last two weeks of his shows: the last animals appearance, the last "Headlines," the best of "Jaywalking" and "Pumpcast," all of Arnold Schwartzenegger's appearance and all of Billy Crystal's.

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The Longest Day, 65 Years Later
Some of them were only boys. Their parents questioned their odd taste in music. Dad disapproved when they smoked too early. Mom wasn't sure about the new girlfriend their boy brought home. They left jobs, colleges, small towns, big cities, football games, clean rooms, drugstore soda fountains, record stores, cuddling with a date on Saturday night and went into a world of screaming shells, unexpected bullets, filthy foxholes, and the ever-present figure of Death standing too close by. On that day some of them didn't come home.

65 Years After D-Day, Normandy's Gratitude Toward US Has Not Faded

In Pictures: D-Day Commemorations

In Pictures: Remembering D-Day

Obama Hails D-Day Heroes at Normandy

Obama's Gramps: Gazing Skyward on D-Day in England

On D-Day, Remembering A Humble Hero

D-Day Remembered at World War II Museum

Video Interview: The Longest Day Remembered, an interview with Huston Riley, the gentleman in this famous D-Day photo by Robert Capa.

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» Thursday, June 04, 2009
A Rainy Thursday
Slept soundly for the first night in awhile, to the point where James has to say "Are you getting up this morning?" Well, yes, since the modification I have been waiting to do for months had finally arrived.

Sigh...and then I couldn't do it because the funding wasn't approved (despite my getting an e-mail some weeks ago saying it was).

About eleven thirty someone rang the doorbell. I don't answer the door when I'm alone, but peeked out the window and saw it was the UPS truck. It turned out to be my other book from Amazon Vine, which is a World War I novel. Looks interesting, although other reviews say they thought the language was too modern.

During lunch I made a quick trip to Costco to pick up the chicken sausage for Saturday (it's our turn to do the lunch centerpiece at Hair Day). On the way I stopped by Borders with my discount coupon, Borders Bucks, and rewards coupon and bought the Rebecca set.

Sigh...why is it people with fish symbols on their cars seldom bother to use turn signals?

By the time I got home it was raining in earnest after having spit and pattered all day. I even heard thunder once. In slight interstices of drizzle the birds gathered at the feeder. One titmouse fled when I came near the window, but the chickadee just pecked on as if to say "Big deal, it's only a human."

Once I finished work for the day I went out to fetch the mail and there was my WPA guide to Rhode Island. It's ex-library and pretty well-worn, but readable, and I was amused when it opened itself up to a section about natural resources and coal mining in Rhode Island, because some people look at me funny when I say I recall the coal tipple that used to be near Sockanosset Road, on land that is now part of Garden City Shopping Center: they talked about it, as well as mining coal on Laurel Hill Avenue near Cranston Street, as it explains the steepness of the hill!

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Happy Ending for Mother Duck

Sadly, the firemen couldn't get two of them, but they did the best they could.

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OMG...
Actor David Carradine Found Dead

I remember Kung Fu being the Big Show among the guys in my high school. I surveyed 100 people, 50 girls and 50 boys, in their television watching habits for a project in 11th grade journalism class and all but one or two of the boys stated that Kung Fu was their favorite series.

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» Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Screwed--In a Good Way
I woke up this morning with my nose still throbbing. Who thought a stupid zit could hurt this much? Of course it's a huge thing, almost as bad as the awful ones I had back in the early 1980s, where the doctor finally had to give me a roll-on sulfa drug to use on them because they were so huge and painful. This one has felt like someone was shoving a needle through my nasal cavity for the past two days.

Finally I gave up and very carefully dipped a small finger into alcohol and dabbed it on the damn thing and waited until it dried, then irrigated my sinuses again. I think that has done the trick; it has dried up a bit and doesn't feel like someone is trying to pierce my cartilage anymore, although it still hurts when I wrinkle my nose. Stupid thing.

The low-grade fever I had this afternoon seems to have dissipated as well. About time. Three days of feeling like my brain was stuffed with cotton was quite enough. We'll see what happens tonight.

When I finished up work for the day, there were surprises in the mail. One was one of my two books from Amazon Vine, Escape Under the Forever Sky, the adventures of a kidnapped teenager in Africa. It's a pretty neat adventure, even though the girl's hardheadedness caused the danger in the first place.

The other was a screw.

You see, last fall I bought a stool at Linens'n'Things. It was to use as extra seating for parties, but ended up also holding my woodland Santa and tree at Christmas. When Linens was going out of business, James and I found another stool of the same type with the clearance items for only $10 (original price $35). It was labeled that it was missing assembly instructions. Since a monkey could have put the thing together, we bought it and brought it home.

A few weeks ago I tipped it out of its box to assemble and realized the other reason it was on the clearance pile: it was missing a screw. And not just one of the small screws that held the crossbars on the legs, but one of the longer screws that fastened the seat to the legs.

So I looked for the manufacturer's name and found them online and sent them a note and had a short correspondence with someone in their customer service department. Two weeks later, voìla! we have replacement screw and now we have stool. Cool.

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Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Cold
I'm pretty sure what I have now is some type of cold or sinus infection, especially as I have had a low-grade fever most of the afternoon. Ironically, I'm not as stuffy, as it seems to have settled in my glands. It's not quite as bad as an allergy attack, but it makes it hard to concentrate. I find naps at lunchtime, rather than food, work wonders.

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» Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Mucinex
I woke up hour after hour, trying to breathe, or having to get another Kleenex. About six I started coughing. I didn't want to wake James, so I went into the spare room and fell asleep on the futon. I remember Willow coming in to touch my hand and James saying something to her. Next thing I knew it was 11:35.

I noticed last night that my glands were swollen on the right side. They still hurt. Took more aspirin and had breakfast. Remembered the last time this happened: Kaiser's prescription was Mucinex and Robitussin for any cough, so I found the Mucinex. Still good, so I took some with the approved amount of milk and sat down to watch Disney's Treasure Island, which I recorded a couple of weekends ago.

I've never been a pirate fan. Not sure why people like smelly, often drunken men who rob people. I know there's a romantic factor to them, the "freedom of the seas" and all that, but it holds no romance for me. We had to read Treasure Island in seventh grade and I was frankly bored by the book. Not to mention that even at twelve I wanted to smack Squire Trelawney for being such a nitwit. Disney's version at least "cuts to the chase" and just does the exciting highlights. And of course Robert Newton is Long John Silver, down to his scurvy hide. Arrrr! It is definitely worth watching, unlike the 1934 version with Jackie Cooper. Cooper played Jim Hawkins as if he were about six, with this wide-eyed precocity that was terribly cloying. Ugh!

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» Monday, June 01, 2009
Okay, I Have to Admit...
I've never been a Conan O'Brien fan. I found his humor was pretty appropriate for 12:30, when it's late and you're a little punch-drunk anyway. Not sure it will work for 11:30, but then times have changed.

However, I have to admit his opening tonight was hilarious: opened with the NBC peacock and a radio report of Conan's show, while we see him brushing his teeth and consulting a list of prep for the new show, which included "Build new set" and "Write jokes"—and ending with "Move to L.A." Conan looks out the window to see the Chrysler building...he's still in New York. He runs outside, hails a cab, is ignored (it is New York after all), and begins to run. He "runs" cross country, across the George Washington Bridge, through Amish country, to Chicago where he runs across the infield at a Cubs game, through the midwest, the Rockies, Monument Valley, Las Vegas, and finally into L.A. and to the studio—where he realizes he left his keys back in New York. So he uses a skip loader to "break into" the studio. Pretty funny!

Five minutes later he was using a Leno joke. LOL.

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Swollen Node
Hurts. Bleah.

Working our way through the last few What's My Line? and To Tell the Truth episodes we recorded from GSN.

If there is one positive thing about GSN not showing both of them anymore is that I don't have my 1950s nostalgic viewing interrupted by some guy intoning "MALE ENHANCEMENT!" (gah!) or the two young women and the older woman cooing over Trojan's tiny vibrator. TMI is TMI!

Anyway, I am trying out a new web page tonight: Tales from St. Nicholas.

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Stuppy and Niffly
My "node" is all clogged. How annoying. I can't tell if it's my allergy or I've caught a cold from somewhere. This is made more annoying because I have a pimple forming inside my nostril. It hurts like the dickens when I try to blow my nose and hurt so much last night it woke me in the middle of the night.

God knows if I need warmth I'm in the right place, although the temperature in my cubicle has finally gone down to a chilly 80°F (well, that's chilly for this place). A former co-worker who has returned to work in another branch stopped by my desk this morning to say she sees they still haven't fixed the heat problem in the building (she's been gone for over a year, but came back temporarily last summer to help with end-of-fiscal-year).

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