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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» Friday, July 31, 2009
Everything In Its Place
Because he worked Sunday, James was off today, but he didn't have much of a chance to relax. First he had a doctor's appointment, then he had to go to the county building to renew his pistol license. When he came home he had lunch and then went downstairs.

For the last couple of weeks he has been rearranging his built model display downstairs. He had one Ikea set of shelving for the models, and one for his strategy games, and decided you really couldn't see the things on the bottom shelves well, so he has redistributed it so that the airplanes are on the top shelves of both units, and the games are on the bottom shelves. He also bought two wider boards for the crosspieces in between (where he has put extra shelves), so he could put extra planes.

I went down there when I finished up with work for the day and he was almost done transferring the models from where they were stored temporarily, and could fold up his big gaming table and wheel it back into the hall. I had him bring the vacuum cleaner downstairs and, by shifting things, got the entire room vacuumed, some kit boxes put in a new plastic container, and boxes of kits piled in a central location so that you can walk around to both sets of shelving, and most of the floor is free, plus he's now using a set of three plastic drawers to hold the DVDs he keeps downstairs (mostly airplane flicks, of course), the John Wayne serial I bought him, and Band of Brothers.

The room will never make "House Beautiful," but I think it's sufficiently acceptable for company. (You know who you are. <g>)

We were down there about two hours and when we got upstairs that should have been the end of it. I was feeling...unwell...this afternoon and had James make me some grilled cheese tortillas for supper. When dinner was finished I went into the bathroom and started running the water in the tub, and to my surprise Willow showed up without being called! She's been "break dancing" on the rug, a sure sign she needed a bath. Usually I have to call her and she comes slinking in, whining, but, as I said, she came in on her own and only made a small show of protesting. She must really be itchy! Not only that, but she was very cooperative under the shower spray, and really enjoyed when I turned the massager on her spine!

By the time she was all clean and fluffy I was ready for a rest and something mindless. There was a special edition of Dog Whisperer called "Chihuahuas from Hell" that was very funny. Talk about little dogs with big attitude!

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Workin' for a Living
Wow. A busy week. I am not feeling quite as frustrated, but I really want to catch up! Wednesday I just went from order to order, and still didn't get them all looked at! I accomplished a lot, if you know what I mean, but I didn't get anything finished. That bothers me. Got lots of things advertised, lots of notes made, nothing completed.

Thursday and today were better. I decided for both afternoons that I would sit and finish some orders. I didn't get as many done as I wanted. Some backup material had taken some time to come in, so the quotes had expired.

One frustrating thing that did happen was that I asked for quotes on an item. It did not have to be the same brand as the item, but it had to have the same specifications. Lo and behold, at least three of the bids did not. A shorter or smaller measurement does not equal a larger or longer measurement. Do they think we will accept something substandard just because it is less expensive?

I was so tired yesterday I ended up taking a nap instead of sitting and having my lunch. I ate at my desk instead. Today I was a little better and sat eating lunch at the table, watching the bird feeder. As I had been warming up my lunch, I saw a goldfinch on the feeder pole! This time it wasn't a very yellow pine warbler, but a real goldfinch, a beautiful male, canary yellow with black trimming! I ran for my camera, but he didn't stay. I guess that's because we don't have any thistle seed. Just as I sat down and began to eat the hummingbird returned. This time I had the camera next to me, but he only stayed a minute, checking that the squirrel-proof feeder had not turned into a nectar feeder, then zipping away toward Susan's house.

Oh, I got to see the squirrel-proof feeder in action the other day: it worked as promised and he could not get to the seeds, even though he had his hind feet hooked at the top, draping himself down the feeder. He jumped to the railing, looking quite vexed. I just opened the door and let Willow chase him.

I have been for a walk two of the three days this week. I'm sorry I thought of this so late. I could have been doing it for a month. The house will be a wreck for the next six or so weeks; I do a lot during lunch.

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» Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Everyday Chores and Extraordinary Finds
I always make the bed every day. I don't tuck the sheets in again, but I do plump my pillows and pull the sheet smooth and the comforter over it. To me it always feels better to climb into bed with smooth sheets rather then them being all rumpled like the dog's bed. If I go into work, making the bed may take place as late as six o'clock. Usually when I telework I let it air good and make it at lunchtime, or whenever I need a minute to think about something I need to write.

Usually James has already finished walking Willow and is changing or even starting supper when I arrive home from work. Tonight he was still getting the mail and Willow romped merrily up to my car, disappearing near the rear wheels. James had to call her to him and make her stay, and she still followed me into the garage.

So we were both changing clothes about the same time when I plumped up the pillows, then pulled the sheet and the comforter up—and James said, "What's that?" and reached for something wedged between the comforter and the crossbar of the footboard of the bed.

Of course. My glasses.

A great relief to know they did not go down the toilet. And a great relief to my nose until the new glasses come in; I have been in horrible pain all day.

And, as I told my team lead, this puts the 450 points on my credit card while I still get book coupons out of it.

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» Monday, July 27, 2009
Life's What Happens When You're Making Other Plans
My plan was to go into work and immediately print out 653 forms and sole source justifications (don't ask). After the alarm sounded, everything took a bizarre turn.

Usually when I go into the bedroom at night I put my glasses on my nightstand, but sometimes I wear them into the bathroom and, when I'm ready to shower, put them on the little divider wall that shelters the toilet. I keep my deodorant on there so I can start getting dressed in the morning, and James always has a book or two sitting on it for what Frank Gilbreth always called "unavoidable delay." As always Sunday night, I set my St. Jude medal on these books, the book book I was reading, and, since I had to wash my hair, the barrette or hair tie keeping my hair back. I know I put the medal and the book on it last night.

We had both just left the bathroom last night when a thump came from the bathroom. James had one of his aviation journals on top of a smaller book and the journal had fallen to the floor. I was beat and just left it there; I would get it the next day.

This morning when I looked for my glasses, they weren't on the nighttable. But they weren't on the divider, either. After squinting and peering at things for about fifteen minutes, while James looked more closely, I found one of my pairs of old glasses, which immediately made my eyes water, but at least things had edges. Well, James and I looked everywhere. He even looked in the refrigerator! Then he had a thought: I had started collecting the trash last night, but sat down after it was almost done and had taken my glasses off to read. James came by with the trash bag to collect the newspaper. Had my glasses somehow fallen in the trash bag? So we went out to get the bag.

At this point I told James to go off to work as there was no use in two of us being late and I have annual leave and he doesn't. I did pull everything out of the bag, but I knew the glasses wouldn't be in there because I remember going past James' computer as I went off to bed last night and reading what was on the screen. I have been known to bump into walls without my glasses on and couldn't have seen the screen with them off.

But where had they gone? I used to walk in my sleep when I was stressed out. Had I done so again after all this time?

Then I went back into the bathroom and picked up the aviation journal and got a horrible suspicion. I found my oldest sunglasses which I don't wear anymore and placed it on top of the journal, then nudged it over a bit at a time until it became unbalanced from being on top of the smaller book and fell to the floor.

The glasses fell in the toilet.

Oh, hell. If my glasses had been on top of the journal last night (even though I don't remember them being there) when it fell, they would have plunked straight into the toilet.

And we had flushed it just a half hour ago.

Son of a bitch.

So instead of printing out forms, I went to the mall with my old, heavy glasses on and shopped for new ones. I found glasses I liked at Sears, but they didn't have an eye doctor appointment until Wednesday. So I went down to VisionWorks, where I had gotten the old glasses, and got an appointment there. I went so far as to look at several frames, and get a quote, then walked back to Sears with the prescription. I think I would have gotten slightly better lenses at VisionWorks, but the frames at Sears fit better. I'd actually been having trouble with the supposedly "drowned" glasses; they hurt my nose terribly, but so do all my glasses. The skin on the bridge of my nose gets more sensitive every year. But I intended to look for them in the fall, not now.

I didn't get finished until 12:15. Let's see...45 minutes to work, and I can only work three and a half hours (since I don't intend to stay after 4:30 and then spend two hours driving home), or I can go home in fifteen minutes and work until James finishes dinner, a total of about five hours. Guess which I chose. Work was still frustratingly slow; I only was able to finish four orders.

And in the meantime I have to wear these wretched old glasses, which are big and heavy. My nose really hurts now, and so does my head. Sears put a rush on the glasses, but he thinks about 10 days. Ten days of this. Oy. And of course they are all scratched, which is why I got rid of them in the first place.

The really, really ironic thing about this whole affair is that not only were we talking on Friday night about the Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last" with Burgess Meredith as only survivor of an atomic blast who now has time enough to read all he likes, only to break his glasses, but last night I had a dream about losing my glasses. That really freaked me out. Maybe it was my mom trying to tell me something, but I just couldn't understand it.

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» Sunday, July 26, 2009
Day of Rest
Well, not much. I did sleep until nine, but after that it was nonstop. I stripped the bed, then grabbed a breakfast bar, stuffed the sheets in the washer, and went to Costco for juice, omeprazole, and Nature Valley granola bars. I also found something for James, and found my interest piqued by a novel of prehistoric fantasy about wolves.

Did stop for a few minutes to look at a new "Images of America" book about Buckhead. Fascinating stuff. I didn't realize the "old yellow-tile building" that I used to work in was so new: there was a photo of the East Paces Ferry/Roswell Road/Peachtree Road intersection in the 1960s and the building wasn't there yet. Another marvelous photo was an aerial view of the intersection of Peachtree Road and Piedmont Road, a pleasant place in 1960 of big old homes and tree-dotted yards, now a clotted intersection with hotels and businesses.

Next, gasoline, and then a stop at Publix for a newspaper and a few other items.

Put all up when I got home, put the sheets in the dryer and then gathered clothing for the next load. I had a "World War II" lunch: a pimento cheese spread sandwich (really—if you read WWII cookbooks, apparently this was a popular low-ration point ingredient for sandwiches for those folks who worked shifts at the war plants; we bought some home-made pimento cheese spread last weekend at the Farmer's Market), with a cherry chaser. While the clothes were washing I gave the shower a really good cleaning out—it took a half hour. I worked with Soft Scrub and also cleaned out the drain with baking soda and white vinegar. It was probably a bad time to do it, for now my elbows and forearms are screaming in pain.

From 2 to a little after five I sat and worked on purchase orders. I'd like to say it went swimmingly well, but I only actually finished three. I didn't know the correct DUNS for one, and didn't have proper info on the others. I did finally find an order my branch chief asked me about on Friday. It's a bugger sorting through over seventy paperclipped packets of paper! :-)

By the time James arrived home I had dried the clothing and had started washing the towels, and was cooking turkey thighs for supper. We had the turkey with mushroom-flavor rice and watched Monday's Animal Cops Phoenix and the latest History Detectives, and then he helped me put the fresh sheets on the bed (our mattress is so big and heavy I can't lift it on my own). We finished this just in time for Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead.

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» Saturday, July 25, 2009
Saturday Tales
We blew off going to the Farmer's Market this morning because James has to work tomorrow and I thought he would appreciate being able to sleep late. Later we went to Kroger and got some vine ripe tomatoes, a cucumber, and more grapes, turkey for tomorrow night's supper, milk, and a couple of other odd things. Made our weekly trip on the way home to see what's going on at "the ditch" (the underpass they're building through Jim Miller Park).

Later in the afternoon James went to his club meeting and I had lunch and watched The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. I've heard about this film for years as being a bit "risque." Today it looks very commonplace. I believe it received its reputation from the incident at the beginning: Holmes is asked by a Russian ballerina to be the father of her child. To fob her off, he tells her that he and Watson are lovers. It has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. I didn't hate it, but it really didn't pique my interest at all.

When James came home we were going to go to Ruby Tuesday at Town Center for supper, but we couldn't find it. Ended up at Golden Corral, which was good because they had carved turkey—a real carved turkey, not just icky turkey breast. So I had some dark meat and a small piece of steak and some cheese potatoes. Buffets are wasted on me.

JoAnn had a "Coupon Commotion" this weekend, so we went there and I took care of two gifts and got some great Debbie Mumm fall/Christmas/winter scrapbooking paper. Stopped briefly at Borders and got a remainder book about the building of Penn Station (the original, beautiful Penn Station that they allowed to be torn down).

Then home for the evening.

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"An Eighth Grade Education in 1895"--Real Exams
Probably, if you belong to any e-mail or newsgroups, you have seen this passed around, and probably also have seen it debunked on hoax sites like Snopes as being not a grammar school exam, but perhaps a teachers' college exam:
Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas , USA.. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph.
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of "lie," "play," and "run."
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 – 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hour 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs, what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per yard?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S.History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication.
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals.
4. Give four substitutes for caret "u."
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final "e." Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying "he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?!


Incidentally, the definition of orthography: 1. The art or study of correct spelling according to established usage, 2. The aspect of language study concerned with letters and their sequences in words, 3. A method of representing a language or the sounds of language by written symbols; spelling.
Thanks to the treasure chest which is Google Books, we may get a hint of what education level the exam may be aimed at. I found three bound copies of a magazine called "The Rhode Island Schoolmaster," a magazine for ... surprise ... teachers. I haven't looked at them all completely, but in most of them there are examples of examination questions.

Here are three sets of examination questions, but it does not specify for what education level (all from the 1874 issue, which also has a long section on pronunciation in the November/December issue):

Questions for Examination: Selected from San Francisco Examinations of 1873

Questions for Written Examination: Selected from San Francisco Examinations of 1873

This one simply says Written Examinations, but part of it looks like a business math exam.

This set is indicated as being at the university level:

Written Examinations: University of the State of New York. Preliminary Academic Examination.

And these as being high school exam questions:

Written Examinations. Fall River High School, May 9, 1874

Then we hit some jackpots--actual 8th grade examinations: the exam for graduation from grammar school (8th grade) in San Francisco (1874):

Written Examinations. Annual examination of first grade pupils for graduation from the grammar schools, and for admission to the High Schools of San Francisco

and for "candidates for high school" (grammar school graduates) from New Haven, CT, from 1864:

Questions for Written Examinations. New Haven public high school--examination of candidates, July 1864

BTW, here are links to the complete issues; great reading of 19th century instructional advice, and occasionally a student blooper:

1856-1857

Year 1864

Year 1874

Incidentally, none of these tests comes as any surprise to those who have read the last few chapters of Little Town on the Prairie where Laura Ingalls Wilder and her classmates put on a school exhibition where they answer oral questions in geography, grammar, and arithmetic, and then Laura recites a history of the United States from Columbus' exploration to the presidency of John Quincy Adams. In the final chapter she is examined for her teacher's certificate and gets a teaching license at the age of fifteen.

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» Friday, July 24, 2009
Fun-filled Frontiers
Had a blast tonight, although it started off on the wrong foot: James got out of work 15 minutes late, so we really didn't leave until almost 5:30. Juanita had the idea that we could go to the Colonnade for dinner, but we wanted to stop by the box office and get tickets first. Well, here it was Friday and traffic was just creeping through midtown, so we figured we'd better find a nearby restaurant instead.

Well, when we got to the Fox, there was a parking lot right next to the theatre for only $5!, so we pulled right in! We ate supper just a block and a half down at the Quiznos. I had soup in a bread bowl, which was really good, but it's a good thing Juanita didn't order it because it has cheese in it and she is allergic.

So we got back to the Fox just after they had opened the doors. We'd talked about going up to the balcony, but when we got up there, it was nearly full! No six seats together at all—and downstairs was all but empty! So we hurried downstairs and got seats in the center three rows from the front. It was a great seat as the screen just filled your view.

The Fox is a beautiful old memory from back in the days when theatres were plush and lovely and people went to the movies in suits and dresses. It is done in a Moorish style with minaret designs and a ceiling that can look like the sky. Even the ladies' room is beautiful; it's downstairs as bathrooms used to be in the larger movie palaces and you first go into a large central carpeted area with armchairs and then a smaller, also plush antechamber before the black and white tiled bathroom that still has an old ceramic water fountain.

The program was great: the playing of the "Mighty Mo" organ (bought in 1929 when it cost the incredible amount of $42,000), then the singalong, some of those dang commercials, then a newsreel (!!! yes, it was from Castle Films and was a set of clips from different years, including Amelia Earhart's flight, the death of Thomas Edison, film of Babe Ruth from when he was with the Red Sox, and a couple more), an MGM "Barney Bear" cartoon (from the fifties, I think it said, very color-shifted), and finally Star Trek. It was a strikingly sharp copy, except in a couple of scenes with Leonard Nimoy near the end, and looked and sounded fantastic. Still love Karl Urban as McCoy best!

Best of all, when the film was over, we just walked to the right, went out the exit door, and there we were in the parking lot. Too cool!

We came home the way we had arrived, through surface streets, as part of the freeway was closed down, and immediately popped the DVR on to watch the final part of Torchwood: Children of Earth. Wow. What a roller coaster of a mini-series this has been. Enjoyable storywise, but quite heartrending, especially if you were fond of a certain character. Jack Harkness has had his heart ripped out so many times you would think he would be dead by now. I'm glad they didn't kill off Rhys first season. I like Rhys. Heck, I married his clone. :-)

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Decompression Day
So needed! Nature called, so sleeping late was not an option. So—breakfast, a walk since it was still early enough and not blazingly hot yet, e-mail, watching the birds through the window. Then I went to WalMart—and forgot the primary thing I went there for: I needed oatmeal for work! Luckily, I don't really need the full supply (one box per two weeks) until next week, so I will just bring a packet with me on Monday and have enough for this week and then take care of the big supply next week.

I had planned to bring the groceries home and then go to JoAnn, but by the time I got out of WallyWorld it was already getting hot. Instead I got undressed and vacuumed the main floor and picked up some spots on the kitchen floor, made the bed and folded my clothes, and finally cleaned up the closet in the spare room. It was really disorderly in there since I have been buying gifts to put away and haven't put them into the boxes; they're difficult to get out. So I pulled out the boxes and put up the gifts, and corralled a dozen bows that had escaped from their bow bag, too.

Had to spray some of the sheet freshener infusion I bought at the Apple Annie craft show last year in the bedrooms when I finished vacuuming. The vacuum gets into fits, like it's gulped something it can't handle, although there were only threads and bits of leaf mould on the bedroom floor, and it starts smelling like—ugh, can't even describe it, like burnt manure. Yeeech.

Then had lunch and watched Ballet Shoes, which I've had for a week, but has been pre-empted by Torchwood. They showed this at Christmas on GPTV, but of course it was badly framed as always and much of the wonderful setting was missing. The British do such great period dramas, and this was just suffused with the 1930s, especially the wonderful jazz soundtrack, and people smoked (I nearly fell over laughing when people criticized the smoking! But, heavens, that's how it was, even in the 1960s—smoke everywhere!). I understand they changed the book some, but I haven't read it and I did enjoy the adaptation. I hadn't seen Miss Potter at that time and when the little girl who played Posy began to speak this time, I wondered why she sounded so familiar, and then I checked IMDb; of course it was the little girl who played Beatrix as a child. The girl who played Petrova looked equally familiar this time and I realized it was the same girl from The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Anyway, I need to get myself moving again, as I need to get dressed and walk Willow. Juanita is coming by at five to pick us up when James gets home and we are going downtown to the Fox Theatre to see Star Trek.

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» Wednesday, July 22, 2009
"'The Heart Has Its Reasons Which Reason Knows Nothing Of’"
Work is driving me positively freaky and I got only about four hours sleep last night because I woke up at 4 thinking "What am I going to do about this?...and this?...and that?" Nevertheless I did take a walk this morning, but was feeling weepy and miserable all morning without knowing why, until I looked at the calendar and realized what day it was.

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» Monday, July 20, 2009
Where Were You? June 20, 1969
In front of the television, of course, with millions of others. I was thirteen that summer, consumed with Moon Madness, abetted by my parents. My dad particularly, was considered a bit odd by his compatriots at work, stolid working-class guys, because he believed there was life "out there." We watched all the space missions together.

It was a hot Sunday in July, particularly notable for us because it was the weekend of the church feast. Summertime was one church feast after the other, St. Mary's, St. Barts, St. Rocco's, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and more. One Sunday on the way home from the beach we even stopped at a feast held in Narragansett. Our own feast was something we looked forward to each year, especially going out on a silky Saturday night when the air was warm and cottony, parking the car as close as possible, and walking to the area where Park Avenue met Cranston Street and canvas-covered booths crowded the side of the road with carnival games and cotton candy and roasting Italian sausages and above it all, the sweet, sweet scent of doughboys emerging from oil and being sprinkled with sugar. Across the street the band concert continued and people rubbed shoulders as they greeted friends and neighbors.

Sunday morning would be the Procession, with the statue of the Virgin Mary carried down Cranston Street from the church, followed by Scouts, Catechism classes, and other members of the community. At the end of Sunday night, as the dark closed around, the crowd made its way leisurely down Cranston Street toward Atwood Avenue. No one hurried. Kids clutching balloons or pinwheels dashed in and out of adults. In yards along the route people were holding parties, backyards lined with Japanese lanterns or Christmas lights, and even though personal fireworks were illegal, Roman candles and rockets popped everywhere. Almost at the corner of Atwood Avenue was Tommy's house; he owned the grocery store where we shopped and he always had a huge cookout Sunday evening, the final night of the feast. We would stop there, say hello, have a bite of watermelon or burger, then follow the crowd to the baseball field near the new Cranston Police Station, where they would shoot off the fireworks.

This Sunday was different, though. We spent it inside, windows and doors flung open to catch the breeze, watching with delight as "Eagle" descended to the moon's surface that afternoon, and hearing the words "Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." (And our favorite line from Capcom, about "a bunch of guys about to turn blue; we're breathing again.")

It would be awhile till the moonwalk, however, so we went for a little while to the feast, but I don't remember much about it, as I had my transistor radio glued to my ear to listen to the media coverage rather than enjoy the evening.

We skipped the fireworks; there were much better ones coming from the moon! We had only a 19" Magnavox television back then, but it was as good as HD to us back then as we watched Neil Armstrong's shadow emerge from the Lunar Module and descend the ladder on its leg, of his light movements until he stepped off the footpad and uttered his now-famous line.

The other clear memory of that mission is a funny one: for days after the moon mission it rained. I mean a gullywasher of rain...it poured and poured. And when you went to the store or the mall there would be some older person commenting darkly that "it was all the fault of those guys landing on the moon."

What a time. Glad I was there. Miss the dreams.

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Day and Night
Day sucked. Horrible day. I don't consider that I accomplished anything. It's more like running in circles. By the time I left I had a headache that was screaming like a jet, lessened only mildly by a couple of Tylenol. I managed to get through dinner and a special on the Lunar Module. Then I went outside to fill the expensive new squirrel-proof bird feeder and dropped the damn thing putting it back up. James fetched it upstairs from the yard and bent the feeder cup back in place, but the spring doesn't seem to be working properly all the time. Bother.

The only saving grace to all this day has been the moon specials. The lunar landing happened just before I left work. I had forgotten, having listened to 40 years of soundbytes trimmed from broadcasts, how much static was in these transmissions! Sometimes you could hardly hear the astronauts or Capcom.

James grilled boneless pork ribs for supper, but they don't seem to have done my agitated digestion any good; despite the Prilosec everything is coming up on me. I finally did swig back three ibuprofin and covered my eyes for about 20 minutes so I could get through the rest of the moon broadcasts without feeling like someone was playing a drum solo on my sinuses. History Channel did a half-hour piece combining CBS News footage of the highlights of the Apollo 11 mission, with a memorial card to Walter Cronkite at the end.

Following is an interesting program: it's a fact-based film called Moonshot, which combines actual footage with scenes filmed with actors. James Marsters is playing Buzz Aldrin with the intensity I understand he had; the encounter after Armstrong purposely rejected an abort in the simulator is pretty similar to the one in From the Earth to the Moon.

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Looney Rabbit
I'm following the wechoosethemoon.org "live" coverage and they've just finished giving the astronauts the morning news, including who won the Miss Universe contest and also this exchange, which also appeared in the From the Earth to the Moon segment about Apollo 11 (and which I remember from one of my moon books, probably We Reach the Moon by John Noble Wilford):
Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the moon because she stole the pill for immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is only standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not recorded.

Collins: Okay, we'll keep a close eye for the bunny girl.
And...drat. Of course, there's nothing on television for weeks and now they all come in the same night. I had Torchwood and History Detectives both set to record on DVR and just found out History Channel is doing an all-new set of moon landing specials tonight, so I'll have to postpone HD to record on Friday. We can watch the moon specials tonight and Torchwood later, without the dang commercials (maybe we ought to watch the entire thing at a later date...wish HDNET was showing it uncut again...).

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I Love It!
Florida Woman, 90, Behind the Same Wheel 559,000 Miles Later

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» Sunday, July 19, 2009
The Beginning
How "That's the Way It Is" Became Cronkite's Tag Line

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» Saturday, July 18, 2009
Long Interlude
Wow. Been a bit since I had a chance to really write instead of just post links. Busy, busy, busy.

Work is really stressing me out. I hate having to hurry. I go too fast, I make mistakes. I like to be methodical on each order and I can't do that if I have to rush. I'm missing stuff when I "triage" and that bothers me. (When I get assigned the orders, I print them out and give them a look, scribble questions on the front: "Did they get a quote?" "This is sole source; where's the sole source justification?" When I actually ask these questions of the end user, or request a quote, or a new quote, my comments get dated.) Or I proceed doing an order that looks good and I realize they're listed twice in our system, with two different DUNS numbers...have to contact them to find out the DUNS, because if I put the wrong one, they won't get paid and we have to do a modification. A delay. A quote's outdated. Another delay. And other things. Sigh. I feel harassed and it makes my emotions bounce from one end to the other.

Wednesday night there was a brief respite: we went with friends to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Good version of the book—again, much left out, but all the important parts left in, including a bit of humor with Lavender and "Won-Won." :-) Jim Broadbent was enjoyable as Horace Slughorn, if he didn't quite fit my image of the character. There was one scene, in the cave, where I knew just what was going to happen—and I jumped anyway. I'm so glad the male members of the cast have gotten over the "long hair" thing—I really hated the Phelps twins and Rupert Grint and Tom Felton with long hair! And, goodness, the ending was very reminiscent of The Empire Strikes Back!

But I didn't enjoy the last hour as much as I could have, because the movie theatre seat was downright uncomfortable. I remember when they went from the old seats to the reclining, cushy seats...what luxury! And now they're back to cramming everyone in the theatre like cordwood (or flying coach). My big problem is I can't really sit still for long periods anymore, and when I do sit, I have proper back support. So sitting there for three hours (movie, plus previews and the sucky commercials you pay $$ for, and they're the same idiot commercials from television) isn't exactly a happy event anymore.

I'm sure I'll enjoy it better from my sofa with the back support pillow. DVDs are wonderful things.

(I do think I want to see the new Sherlock Holmes film, if just to see Jude Law do Dr. Watson—one who is not tottery or blustery.)

Anyway—so I spent all day Wednesday and all morning Thursday doing advertisements. Thursday afternoon was problematic because I'd had popcorn at the movies. Let's say part of me wasn't happy. Time for more cheese.

Friday was the frustrating day because I would start something and not be able to finish, then start something else and not be able to finish. So my pile of completed orders is scant this week. Bother.

We did have a nice supper at Fresh2Order and a good walk around Borders. Also, I tried something different on Friday: since it's too warm to walk at lunchtime, I took my walk right after I got up. It was cloudy, so quite nice. Won't be able to do that long, though, because we will have to be pulled off teleworking for the last month of end-of-fiscal-year. I dread it...all those 40 minute minimum commutes, the warm cubicle, and those damn fluorescent lights giving me screaming headaches.

I thank God I don't have the two-hour torture like some folks at CDC...my new team lead lives south of the Perimeter. On Friday it takes her two hours to get home. Aieeeee!

Today has been a splendid day, however, although I wish I could have slept later. We went to the Farmer's Market, where we received delightful news: this year it is staying open through December, so we will get late vegetables, squash, and pumpkins, perhaps some decorative things for Hallowe'en and Christmas. Also, next week they are doing a Christmas in July celebration downtown.

The biggest surprise was the weather. It was sunny and cool! Probably still in the 60s, with a breeze! The sun was still strong, and I regretted leaving my hat behind, but otherwise it was delightful. We still had salad fixings, so we only bought some ears of corn and some pumpkin spice muffins, and some freshly-made cheese spread and chicken salad.

From there we went on to Hair Day. We go from downtown Marietta to the Butlers via a lovely route, down Polk Street, all older homes, smaller than the historic ones a block away on Whitlock Avenue. We meet back up with Whitlock, then get on Villa Rica Road, which is dotted with smallholdings and homes with some acreage, so it is a delightful country road with the occasional view of horses.

Nice time at Hair Day. We had a Carvel ice cream cake (two small ones actually, "Fudgy the Whale") for Pat's birthday; chicken for lunch with sides of vegetables and baked beans. Didn't leave until after 1:30, dropped the vegetables we bought off at home, then went to the hobby shop with a side trip to Harry's for raw cashews, potatoes, celery and bananas. By the time we left, we only had about a half hour at home before it was time to go to Longhorn to celebrate Juanita's birthday. We had a great time, and then came back to hearth and home, and one very happy terrier and budgie. Watched this afternoon's Colour Confidential and then the always funny Keeping Up Appearances bookending an repeat episode of Castle. (I'm glad the latter will be back in the fall!)

The commercials during Castle are enough to give me heartburn: the newest is called Dating in the Dark...couples meet each other in—surprise!—a totally dark room! They are scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas, aren't they?

Anyway, the weather was wonderful all day for an Atlanta summer: we could still drive with the windows down when we left Hair Day. The only time we actually put the A/C on was on the way to Longhorn at five. At seven it was once again cool enough to go on open windows. If this would only last for the rest of the summer...especially DragonCon weekend!

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» Friday, July 17, 2009
My Mistake--and a Find
As Mike has reminded me, it was Gulf Oil that used to sponsor the NBC coverage of the Apollo missions, and his link to the "Bringin' Home the Oil" song on YouTube led me to this recreation of the commercial.

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Farewell to Walter Cronkite
Former CBS Anchor "Uncle Walter" Cronkite Dead at 92

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» Thursday, July 16, 2009
Moonstruck 2
Remembering Apollo 11 - The Big Picture

Link from Elaine's blog--thanks, these are wonderful!

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Moonstruck
Kids my age grew up in the Space Age.

In the late 50s, before we remembered anything, there was Sputnik, Disney's space-themed programs, Explorer I. Then came the communications and weather satellites—Echo, Tiros, Nimbus, Telstar—the great granddaddies of the technology that is bringing me the NASA Channel as I munch my lunch and uploading my memories to the internet. Funny, primitive communication in beeps and then grainy photos.

Suddenly it was the early 60s and men were going into space, and we were watching it all on television. In our classrooms a black-and-white television on a cart—the school "audio-visual department" along with the filmstrip and movie projectors—was wheeled into the classroom and we watched live coverage of the astronauts.

But this wasn't just a school assignment for me. I was wildly in love with anything space. I remember with great affection a coloring/fact book about the planets that I had. The space missions were an endless source of excitement. Oh, I had the usual kid aberrations—I still was disgruntled if space coverage pre-empted my favorite programs!—but mostly I was glued to the television. My mom even let me "play sick" during the Apollo 12 mission, although I was confined to bed and had to watch the coverage on my 12-inch black-and-white television. (Sadly, we didn't get a color television until after the Apollo missions were over.) Of course there wasn't any coverage of that moonwalk since the television camera messed up after being aimed into the sun, but it was great just to sit there and listen to it.

Most archival footage you see of the moon missions includes Walter Cronkite, whose enthusiasm for the space program was well known. I have to confess, except for changing channels during commercials, we were dedicated NBC-coverage watchers. I mostly remember Frank McGee and I'm pretty sure a young John Chancellor, with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley doing the hosting honors. A peculiar, favorite memory was one of the commercials, most of them with a space theme, but one was for Exxon, with film of a tanker ship and a rousing Irish chorus who sang about "sailin' into Bantry Bay, bringin' home the oil." I found out much later via e-mail correspondence that the singer was the famous Tommy Makem (I believe accompanied by the Clancy Brothers; I've since lost the e-mail).

Of course my love of space was always supplanted by books! I bought John Noble Wilford's We Reach the Moon and Richard Lewis' Appointment on the Moon almost as soon as they were published, a great hardship to my budget since my allowance was 25¢ a week back then and big fat paperback nonfiction books like those cost the princely sum of 75¢! But they were worth it, even if at 12 I couldn't quite understand some the scientific jargon in the latter book. (The Wilford book was more of a narrative for laymen, while the Lewis was more technical, but they were a nice counterpoint to each other since the Wilford book only briefly skimmed early orbital flight and the Mercury/Gemini programs, while the Lewis book was the opposite, going all the way back to Goddard and the V-2s of Peenemünde.)

So I'm really enjoying all the anniversary items that are showing up on the NASA Channel between coverage of the shuttle Endeavour mission, including a neat one about the restoration of the coverage footage, as well as the real-time mission on wechoosethemoon.org, which I've been listening to all day: the launch, the staging, the burn putting the spacecraft on a lunar trajectory, and most recently the separation and docking of the command module with the lunar module. The space shuttle is cool, but there was nothing like the excitement of those old moon missions. I hope I live long enough to see us take the first steps to Mars.

It may be time to pull out "Spider" again, too. :-)

Meanwhile, here's some other links for your perousal:

§ NASA Apollo Pages

§ From Doughnuts to Liftoff, Apollo 11 Launch Was Blast

§ Space Program and Television

And ::sigh:: apparently those original films were erased after all:

§ NASA Marks Apollo 11 Anniversary

The restorations look wicked cool, though!

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"We Choose the Moon" Site
Broadcasting now: real-time coverage of the launch, mission, moonwalk, and return:

We Choose the Moon

It's one hour until launch...

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» Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Surprise Visitor
Oh my golly! Oh my golly! You wouldn't believe what I just saw...I was warming up my lunch and waiting for the microwave to beep and looking at the birds at the feeders and suddenly a little green hummingbird zoomed up. It flittered around both suets and tasted them, and then around the feeder, and finally landed on it, cocking his head and poking his beak at the seed..."Hey, this isn't nectar!"...flew again, pecked at the plastic sides of the feeder hopper, then buzzed away!

The birds are so funny...since we put the new feeder in the cardinals have been bullying the others away...this morning when I went out to refill one of the little brown-headed nuthatches was so hungry he dive-bombed me twice!

I still can't believe the hummingbird...he looked like the very first one I ever saw, when we were on vacation in 1976 in Williamsburg (I told my dad we had to go somewhere historic, since it was the Bicentennial, so we went to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown)...it was just buzzing around the flowers in one of the lovely garden spaces they have in Colonial Williamsburg...I'd never seen one before and for a minute I thought it was some weird kind of huge green bee.

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» Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Cabbages and Kings
By the time I was in my late teens I had a considerably large collection of Readers Digests. We were getting them by subscription from the late 60s and every time I went to yard sales or flea markets I bought old ones; you could get some for a dime apiece. Eventually I had a collection from the late 50s all the way through the 1970s.

(After I left home Mom had them up in the attic until the one day she called me and said she was trying to clean up there. Could she get rid of the Digests? Oh, how I didn't want her to! There were lovely articles on the space program, and Corey Ford's wonderful pieces, and marvelous book sections, like The Triumph of Janis Babson and On This Night and Time Out for Happiness (about the Gilbreths of Cheaper by the Dozen). But at that time I didn't have anywhere to keep them, so I told her to go ahead. Only to find out later she tossed my Readers Digests and kept stuff like six dozen drinking glasses and old sheets with holes in them. Sigh.)

One of my favorite "Humor in Uniform" shorts from one of those issues was the story of a man who had been sent to a remote Pacific island. It was a dot in the ocean, with nothing to do there when you weren't on duty. One day he took a walk on the beach and wondered what time it was. He came upon another sailor who was wistfully staring out to sea and asked him the time. "July," the sailor said mournfully.

Oh, how I relate! July. Mid-July, in the midst of the soul-searing sadness that is summer. From May through September all I want to do is hibernate, to escape from the sweltering sun that gives me headaches and rashes (Gawd, my right shoulder itches) and the claustrophobic stuffy cubicle that takes over my life from June through mid-September. End-of-fiscal-year and summer seem to go together in more ways than one.

I am literally homesick for fall, breezes, cool air outside and cool blankets inside. I have brought home a nice box so I can dismember my fall magazines and toss the recipes and the cute kid stories and keep the fall scenes to dip into when I need them for refreshment. Maybe I'll burn the gingerbread candle tomorrow while I try to determine just how many advertisements I need to do (you have to advertise procurements over $25,000). I think there's ten. A long, long trail a'winding indeed.

At least there are "hibernation breaks." We had one for Timegate, and the unfortunately wonky weekend in Sevierville, and the nice cookout/fireworks launch for the Fourth. And coming up are Jen and Meg's visit in three weeks and later Dragoncon followed by the Yellow Daisy Festival and a Blue Ribbon Affair, and then, maybe, please God, a little bit of cool?

In the meantime—Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince tomorrow night with friends—but still, how much nicer it would be if it wasn't summer!

In the meantime I came upon something called Moonwalk One on the NASA channel tonight, from 1970, narrated by Laurence Luckinbill. Really trippy special...not just moon footage, but film of the crowds watching the moon landing, commentary by ordinary people, footage of celebratory parades, and then a rather lyrical ending about the analysis of moonrocks and where we belong in the universe, accompanied by otherworldly music akin to The Andromeda Strain (the real one, not the remake!). Some neat film following, and there's supposed to be an Apollo 11 special on later on GPTV. Hope to see lots of cool moon specials in the next few days to celebrate the 40th anniversary, and I am reading Andrew Smith's Moondust as well.

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» Sunday, July 12, 2009
Sunday Shops and Storms
We had a very lazy Sunday morning, equal parts oatmeal and computer. :-) Then excitement: a trip to BJs for Chex mix! Ooooh. Of course ended up getting several other grocery items as well as ibuprofin. Then couldn't find any double papers; came home with one.

Later, we put up the new pole and hangers to go with the squirrel-proof bird feeder we bought. More in Autumn Hollow.

We finished installing it and speaking to the neighbors via "deck to deck" communications, then James grilled a steak for dinner which we had with leftover rice. It was cloudy and getting dark—radar proved that some popup thunderstorms were coming our way—when James called me out on the deck to see the fireflies. This pleasant interlude lasted about a minute, just as a ginormous bolt of lightning struck to the south and the thunderclap followed a beat later.

Time to go in now. Heh.

Watching Merlin now...

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» Saturday, July 11, 2009
"The Name is Mannix"
I'm always amazed at the late bedtime of the younger people I know. Some of my friends' children were staying up until 9:30 back when they were seven or eight years old. I had early bedtimes; at eight I still had to be in bed "by my age"...wasn't allowed to stay up until 10:00 until I was going into junior high...and then only on Friday and Saturday nights.

Which is why my folks—well, my mom; dad was usually snoring on the sofa by that time—started watching a new detective series in the fall of 1967, but I never saw it until one wonderful week in July.

When my dad was the only one working, our yearly vacations in July were taken with relatives in Massachusetts, but once my mom went back to work my folks decided we could venture further afield. Our very first vacation "afar" took place in Lake George, and I fell in love with the entire place, from lakeshore to Fort William Henry to all those lovely miniature golf courses to the late theme park Gaslight Village.

It was the first time I ever remembered being in a motel (I was three the last time we had stayed anywhere else but home or a relative's home), and this was a little cabin, a place that's gone now, the Fort Gage Motel. I was enchanted, and until we went on vacation the next year, I thought all motels were like that. I was so disappointed when I saw the standard room with beds and TVs and a bathroom off the side!

That first day we were there we wandered all about the lake, found an Italian restaurant that took us hours to get into (and then the food wasn't that good!), and wandered about the village at night. I'd never been to a city bigger than Providence, or any amusement place larger than Rocky Point and I was absolutely dazzled by the lights, the concession stands, the souvenir stores, and the late-night activity. We probably returned to the little cabin about eight-thirty or nine o'clock, washed up for the evening, and sat down to watch the black and white television.

Back then there was no cable and television reception up in Lake George was chiefly achieved with rabbit ears. If you were lucky you found a motel that had a big fringe antenna on a tower at the back of the property. The channel that came in best was 3, a CBS affliate, from across Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, so that's what we watched, and that's where I saw my first episode of Mannix.

Joe Mannix (Mike Connors) was a tough, no-nonsense private eye who got involved with rough-and-tumble cases (he usually ended up being coshed over the head once in each episode; one wonders if he didn't have brain damage by the time the series was over). For most of the run of Mannix, Joe operated on his own, with his faithful secretary Peggy Fair, played by Gail Fisher, who was one of the early African-American performers in a co-starring role in a series who wasn't a domestic like Beulah. (Julia, with Diahann Carroll, started that fall as well.) But during the first season, Joe worked for a computerized security firm called Intertech, and he reported to Lou Wickersham, played by Joseph Campanella. I always loved these episodes and I was disappointed when the new format premiered in September. I remember specifically a two-parter centered around Wickersham's character, who was suffering from blackouts and was acting erratically, because the two channels in our area, Providence's WPRI and Boston's WNAC, pre-empted the second part! Somehow I managed to tune in Hartford's CBS channel on my little rabbit-eared television via a skip image, although most of what I remember is snow!

Anyway, after never having been rerun in the Mannix syndication package, a DVD set of the first season was released, and I got the first disk from Netflix today. We sat and watched the first four episodes tonight (one with a cameo appearance by Neil Diamond as a coffeehouse singer), and the beginning of a delightful, nostalgic chat between Joseph Campanella and Mike Connors, in which the latter revealed he broke his left wrist and dislocated his right shoulder during the filming of the pilot.

But what I loved most was listening to Lalo Schifrin's wonderful theme music accompanied by the Mondrian-like Mannix title graphics...because when I closed my eyes I could see that little cabin again, clear as day: the little living room with the sofa and the chair and the big TV on the far wall near the big front window, the little passage that led between a closet and the bathroom, and the bedroom with the two double beds and sturdy maple furniture. Because if I kept them closed it all came flooding back: the scent of popcorn and cotton candy, the whistle of the "Minnehaha" excursion boat from the lakeshore, the cannon fire from Fort William Henry, "Around the World in 18 Holes" and "Around the U.S. in 18 Holes" (and the other tiny mini-golf course inside the arcade), the souvenir shops that smelled of the cedar they used to make the little knicknacks labeled "Lake George," the Crooked House and the Music Hall show in Gaslight Village, the rides at "Storytown" right down the road, even the Catholic church my mom found, up on the hill where the permanent residents lived, with an open-air service. For a moment or more, I was twelve again, with my diary tucked in my suitcase and the whole world before me...

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Saturday; Including Squirrel Wars, the Sequel
First order of the day was to get stuck, so after the ritual "airing" of the dog, we were off to Kaiser. I was the only person in the laboratory and didn't even have a chance to sit down with my book. Next, breakfast at the IHOP.

Now it was time for the fun part of the day: the Hallmark ornament premiere! We have a Hallmark shop we have been going to for a couple of years now, the one next to Publix, near MicroCenter. Lo and behold, when we arrived there, it was gone! I realized we hadn't gone by there since we were still wearing jackets, so it's had plenty of time to disappear.

Ah, well, off to Merchants Walk and Betsy's. I actually didn't buy anything for the main tree! Bought the locomotive miniature, the Snoopy and Woodstock one, and the "festive Santa," which will all go on the foyer tree. The Marjolein Bastien ornament will go with the winter garden. The Rudolph ornament will go with the Rudolph tree. And the "Ralphie" ornament will go on the library tree. James bought this year's airplane—it's a Cessna, same model as Sky King had.

On the way to the hobby shop, we stopped at the bird feeder store, in search of hot pepper suet and ended up with some new equipment for mounting the squirrel-proof bird feeder we bought. What we have isn't working very well anyway; the supports are coming loose. I've been putting up with the squirrels for too long. We have one now that not only raids the feeder if I don't put pepper into it, but is taking samples out of the suet feeder, even though I bought one with a smaller mesh. When he can't get into the metal seed container, he pees on the lid. Plus he comes up on the deck and sunbathes!!! This is our deck, not Cozumel for squirrels!

The hobby shop was our last stop, and then we were home early. I'd like to say we did some marvelous home remodeling project, but we didn't. Rick Steves and Burt Wolf were both on, so we took a trip through Paris and environs, and then to Burt's favorite hotels—Prague looks lovely, Tina! Later we discovered that RTN was running a second season Banacek episode. I've always loved this series. George Peppard was so imperturbable, and there was always Felix and his wonderful shop and Jay the chauffeur with his crazy theories. Plus many eps with Boston in the background!

We also watched an episode of Dragnet with Friday and Gannon trying to find two dogs who bit a little girl, since there is a possibility they might be rabid.

Oh, I did put the bird feeder at least out. The rest of the assembly will take James, the drill, and the three-inch deck screws. :-) It was empty for about an hour. Then we heard a strange bird call and there was a blue jay on the rail. We don't often see jays near the feeder, and it didn't really go near it. Perhaps it was checking it out. Then a chickadee appeared, and soon the male cardinal and the brown-headed nuthatches showed up.

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» Friday, July 10, 2009
Vet Records
(Not the animal kind.)

One of the e-mails that was killed last night was a link James had sent me for getting my dad's veteran's records. So I hunted up the site again, filled in all you can fill in on the website, and then got to the signature page you have to send in. Ooops. Did it on the laptop; no printer. But they said you could handwrite it out, so I did. Just needs a stamp.

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Palpation and Pages
I've just come home from the doctor by way of Food Depot and Borders. :-) Hadn't had a physical in a good long while. I'm trying a new doctor, Ledeaux. I liked Dr. Foster-Payton, but I felt like I couldn't talk to her easily. Not her fault; she was always very attentive and efficient. I had to see Dr. Ledeaux for a refill on my pills a few months ago, and she asked a bunch of questions, and let me try something new for my acid reflux (which didn't work, but at least I'm not saying to myself, "if only I could try that I might feel better"), and I just felt very open with her. It didn't hurt that she reminded me of my cousin Debbie and everyone from the Sepe side of the family.

So we chatted about a few things during the exam, like the arthritis in my neck which is really giving me more and more headaches, especially when I work. She pretty much said the only remedy is Tylenol, but is willing to refer me to a physical therapist who will show me some exercises and treatments that I can do on my own. I also addressed the panic attacks—because the one I had getting the mammogram really wigged me out, since I've been having the darn things for nearly 20 years now and they never bothered me. Had the technician not been so perceptive I could have seriously hurt myself.

My blood pressure is okay, as is my EKG; she didn't say anything after she palpated me, so I trust the only thing she found was all that nasty fat. The notification for the appointment I got didn't say anything about fasting; I was wondering if I should and then ended up having the oatmeal and yogurt anyway, so I have to go back tomorrow morning before breakfast to visit the vampires. So we'll see how that turns out.

When I got done there I wanted to do something fun, so I went by Borders. It wasn't open when I got there and I stood with my nose pressed on the glass like a kid in front of the candy display. :-) I didn't have my coupon, since Avast ate my Inbox, and James never did get a coupon (I checked again this morning). It was a good coupon, too: 25 percent off your entire purchase, not just one book. I knew the guy behind the counter—it was the fellow with the British accent—and told him the whole improbable story. If he thought I was making it up it must have amused him, because he gave me a coupon. Good thing, too, because Madelyn Alt's new "Bewitching" mystery was out (odd; they usually come out in December), and I was able to get that and the Dan Patch book, and a book about dogs.

Since it wasn't 80°F yet I took the opportunity to buy more sugar-free ice cream bars on the way home.

Ah, well, I need to go take the Independence Day decorations down before the sun gets to the front porch...

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» Thursday, July 09, 2009
Damn Viruses!
Downloaded e-mail a little while ago and Avast detected a virus in an incoming e-mail, something about my St. Nicholas page—the same "HTML" virus that it spotted in my domain pages. James was in the chair, so he told Avast to put the virus in the vault.

Damn. It killed every single message in my inbox, including ones I had with URL references.

I wonder if this is the same virus they were warning about on the news the other night. Supposedly it exploited a hole in Internet Explorer, but if it's an HTML virus, any message that comes in with HTML coding in it, like the Borders Rewards e-mails, is vulnerable.

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» Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Bird With a Lucky Rabbit's Food Somewhere...
Amazing Rescue as Pet Budgie is Plucked From Rough Seas By Diving Club

Thanks for the link, sweetie!

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We May See Murder Yet
I am fit to be tied. I have just wasted my entire lunchtime due to some "clever hacker."

A few days ago when I went to my main domain space I noticed a couple of tiny grey blocks up in the lefthand corner. I thought something funny had gotten into the code and checked my original copy. But that was clean. Since it didn't appear that way on another computer, I thought it was just some anomaly.

Sunday, I think, I had occasion to go back to the page and my Avast popped up saying something about a virus. What? How could I have a virus on my own web page? I had clicked the link to my domain page from another page I had never been to before and assumed the Avast warning was for that previous page.

Well, at lunchtime today I wanted to check something on my domain page. Again the Avast warning, and again those little boxes. So I looked at the source code and nearly had a fit. Next to the code where I had the background and link colors described, was a damn line of script with a bunch of pluses and stuff in it so you couldn't find it and defining the area of the little grey boxes! I went immediately to FTP and uploaded a clean copy of the file and no matter what I did, this corrupted file came back up. Not only that, but every single file of that name (all the main file pages have the same name in each domain or subdomain) had this wretched script attached to it!!!!!!!

Jeez, I don't want people getting viruses from my site! So I finally tried renaming one of the pages to another acceptable name and that worked. So I had to rename all these files and then upload them and delete the offending files with the original name.

Youbetcha I shot off a nasty note to 1and1.com. Their response was to direct me to Symantec's site and suggest I change my FTP password, which I have done. My FTP password was the most complicated one I have, random letters and numbers in different cases. It's a little difficult to believe that someone managed to guess the mess, then go into every single file of that name and add the malicious code in the very same place! What a royal PITA.

If I ever catch whomever does this kind of crap, like there's ever any chance of it, I've planned appropriate revenge: tie him to a chair and force him to watch television commercials...and not the clever commercials, either. Maybe all those wretched Progressive Insurance commercials, night and day, until he or she turns into a gibbering wreck.

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» Sunday, July 05, 2009
A Short Sunday
Well, all Sundays are short...LOL...especially when you sleep late.

In contrast with yesterday, today was cloudy with intermittent rain. When it rained it was cool; otherwise it was like a steambath.

James needed some shorts, so we went to WallyWorld. Found a good deal on them, too, and picked up a couple of other grocery things. Stopped by the house to get the Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons we forgot and went to buy a new frying pan. James was looking for a clip-on fan for his cubicle and didn't see one in either WalMart or BB&B. Linens'n'Things always had them. It figures: the better store was the one that went out of business.

We also stopped for a few minutes at Barnes & Noble. Notice there's a new "Politically Incorrect" guide, one on the Founding Fathers.

Came home to do one more necessary chore: change the A/C filters. They were both quite furry.

Otherwise what we ended up doing was watching the Little House on the Prairie miniseries they did for Disney a few years ago. We didn't see it from the very beginning, but missed the Big Woods part; came in as the Ingalls were headed west quickly so they could cross the Mississippi before the ice cracked.

I'm ambivalent about the production. Please note this had nothing to do with the television series, which was based on Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek, but called Little House on the Prairie because it followed a very good television movie by that name that covered the same plot as this miniseries: the Ingalls family moves to Indian Territory (which was mostly Oklahoma, but included a strip of Kansas, which is where the story is set) on land which they think is available for settlement. At the end of the story, the government throws them off the land because they are illegally settled there.

I have to admit this looked really good. The beginning was excellent in showing the hardship of the wagon journey. Some other "natural" parts, like Pa in the woods, the prairie fire, etc, were well done. They took pains to get the Osages not to be cookie-cutter clones of other Plains tribes, and they weren't deified or vilified. Charles Ingalls had a beard like he was supposed to. Mr. Edwards was bearded, but otherwise the "wildcat" from Tennessee. Much of the miniseries followed the book except that once again Jack the dog was the wrong breed: an Australian shepherd—they never can do the proper breed of Jack, who was what we would now call an American bulldog. But that doesn't really affect the story. Dr. Tan, the black doctor who was a true character, appears in the story.

On the other hand, they Hollywooded up many of the scenes, including the episode where the Osage are having a convocation to decide what they are going to do about the settlers. They turned this into a big siege scene. The incident where the big "loafer wolf" follows Pa and his horse suddenly includes Laura and turns into a big fight scene between Pa and the wolves, who don't attack him after he falls in the water. Nonsense. Pa is also attacked by a mountain lion.

But there were little things that were so irritating: the Scott family who helps the family is sort of a buffoonish elderly type and poor Mrs. Scott is a garrilous glutton to boot. No one ever combs their hair! Not only does Caroline wander around most of the time with her hair down and blown in her face, which married women never did, but Laura and Mary always seem to be in disorder with their hair in their faces. They wear straw hats instead of sunbonnets, which were de rigueur in the books. There are numerous scenes where Laura sneaks off and spies on the Indian camp, and she even plays with the children, something that Pa and Ma Ingalls would have never allowed. Ma allows Laura and Mary to say things they never would have said in the first place.

I found the music to be irritating most of the time. It had these spells where it went into ethereal fits with angelic humming in the background, which really didn't fit the time period. Even worse, it was a devotee of the "shakycam" school of filmmaking. The camera tilted one way, then the other, and there were weird shots from above, or underneath where the first thing you saw were horses' butts, fantasy sequences, nightmares, etc. There was a lot of scenes of Laura standing gap-mouthed looking at things, like the prairie fire, where the angle of the shot would rapidly change, dart in and out. Annoying as all get-out.

Pity they couldn't have cut out all the artsy-fartsy cinematography and put more period-appropriate music. It would have made the story must tighter and easier to watch. The cast was okay, but the actress who played Ma seemed more like a 20th-century kindergarten teacher than Caroline Ingalls. She probably would have done okay if the conventions of life back then were actually followed.

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» Saturday, July 04, 2009
The Glorious Fourth
Time to kick back and enjoy freedom...so we slept late and then had lunch for breakfast.

LOL. I mean it: James made me a grilled cheese sandwich. I didn't have my oatmeal till late afternoon. We messed around on the computer, James rolled our boneless pork ribs over (they were marinating in soyaki sauce from Trader Joe's), and then a little after noon I put 1776 on. This time I amused myself, along with watching the story, with watching the reactions of the other actors to the ones speaking.

And of course James and I always hook fingers during "Yours, Yours, Yours, Yours." :-) Sentimental cusses we.

The hour after the movie ended seemed to fly, and then it was hustle, hustle, hustle to wash faces, get dressed, and pack up the brownie bites, key lime pie, and the pork ribs to go to Alice and Ken's house. The grill was already fired up and the guys were outside around it when we arrived, so James and the ribs remained outside while I went inside and placed the desserts on the table.

We had a great time. Juanita and Jessie, Juanita's mom and Ken's parents and sister and brother-in-law were there, and Aubrey's friend Isabel, Mel and Phyllis, John and Betty (with news of their new dog, a stray they found in a parking lot), and some neighbors of theirs who I wasn't familiar with. The pork ribs came out tender and juicy. We chatted and the girls goofed off, and we told stories about our pets. Poor Juanita had a terrible sunburn, though.

We left just as it was starting to get dark, came home, James took Willow out, and then we shot off our fireworks. James had bought a great deal of rockets, but they were almost more trouble than they were worth: some color and sparkly tails, but not a lot of boom for the buck. And you had to go chasing the little wooden tails not to leave trash behind. The Roman candles were great, and so were the fountains, and even these little things that spun around like tiny flying saucers and turning different colors. And then I had my sparklers.

Because we bought $40 worth of fireworks, we got a "finale" firework that looked like a big cereal bowl. James debated whether to set it off, so I surveyed the street for the rocket sticks and he used the hose to soak the other fireworks down.

And then he set it off. There were two godawful reports and then we had fireworks overhead! About eight of them, chrysanthemums and stars, just like real fireworks, only just about forty feet up! Cool!

Folks were shooting up things to the north and south of us, including some big Roman candles over in the church parking lot, and colors popping up behind the trees, plus lots of firecrackers. When we got in Willow was pathetically happy to see us. James had to cuddle her for a few minutes before she calmed down. I was recording the Boston Pops on the DVR and we restarted that. Of course they start in the middle of the flippin' "1812 Overture" anymore. Neil Diamond was the guest star, and then we had the singalong and finally the fireworks. WOW. I saw a report on WBZ's web page that they had a new fireworks company this year. They put on a terrific show, even with CBS's spotty coverage. There are new colors this year: aqua, a lime green, magenta as well as purple, and I even saw orange at one point. At at least one point, the design looks like Queen Anne's lace. And there are big umbrella ones that are one color on one side, and another color on the other. Also the cute hearts and smiley faces.

Once we were done watching that show, I shut off the DVR and the rebroadcast of A Capitol Fourth was about one third of the way through, so I left that on. Aretha, sweetie, where did you get that dress? It does not flatter you at all. But she was good, as always, and Barry Manilow was fab, as was the piano duet on "Rhapsody in Blue" (though I'm sorry, I can't hear that song anymore without thinking of Mackie Bloom), and they had a nice fireworks show sprawled behind the Washington Monument, with a nice band accompaniment.

And when that ended, WSB-TV was showing the Lenox Square celebration repeat broadcast and just getting to the fireworks...this was done as a long shot over the mall, facing up Peachtree Street, we thought, and as in the Washington, DC, fireworks, you could see other fireworks shows going on in the distance. In the Washington skyline, there must have been about six other shows going on back there! I couldn't tell which were which during the Atlanta show, but I would have guessed Chastain Park and Stone Mountain.

I'm used to watching fireworks on television. My dad avoided big holiday crowds the way women avoid mice, so we never saw live fireworks on the Fourth. We got our fill of them at all the church feasts. There was one pretty much every weekend of the summer: St. Mary's, St. Bartholemew's, St. Rocco's, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, etc. I think these were the last shows at which I saw ground fireworks. Does anyone still remember ground fireworks? They'd be on a platform, and be lit up in the shape of the flag, or the Statue of Liberty, or some other shape, or you might still have Catherine wheels that spun round and round as each firework on a spoke shot off, and St. Mary's always had one that was in the shape of the church.

We made our own ground fireworks tonight. LOL.

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!


Independence Day postcard


Some decorating photos in Autumn Hollow.

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Well, THAT Sucks
I just opened my mail. Borders and Chase are ending their partnership on August 31. After that I get a new credit card that earns me points that I can spend at an "Ultimate Rewards Mall." Phooey. I only got the stupid card because it got me books. This new thing says you can "redeem for travel, millions of products, gift cards and cash rewards," and it appears that Amazon.com may be one of the vendors. If it's just yucky clothes and sucky shoes and crap like designer purses, they can keep their stupid card. I'll start charging things on my Amazon card.

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» Friday, July 03, 2009
"We Are the Sons...the Sons of Liberty"
Our second- and fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Grady, used to train student teachers. I have long forgotten any of the second-grade teachers, but the first of our fifth-grade teachers will stay in my memory forever. She was young and fashionable, with the "pixie" haircut of the late 60s, and wore miniskirts (well, as short as the school board might allow), and her name was Miss Greenberg.

One day she told us she wanted to try something different with us. Every day after lunch, she was going to read to us. She had already chosen the book.

We were ten and eleven years old, and we were rather indignant. Reading to us? But only babies were read to. Our moms and dads had read to us before we knew our alphabet. Did she think we were little kids?

On the other hand, it was some time when we didn't really have to think. No quizzes to do. No sums to work. No dates to memorize.

So after lunch Miss Greenberg opened up a hardback book and began to read thus:
"Chapter One: Up And About

"On rocky islands gulls woke. Time to be abut their business. Silently they floated in on the town, but when their icy eyes sighted the first dead fish, first bits of garbage about the ships and wharves, they began to scream and quarrel..."
What she had begun, of course, was Esther Forbes' 1943 novel Johnny Tremain.

A class of normally active boys and girls sat to listen, and some magic was worked on them. As Boston awoke, so did we, and soon we too were up in the attic with Johnny and his fellow apprentices, heeding the call to rise from below. After a few days we started to beg Miss Greenberg to read more when she stopped each day. There were two copies of Johnny Tremain in the school library and after a few weeks both were not available, taken out by one student after the other. I begged my mother to get me a copy for Christmas. At that time the book was not in print, and Mom had to scramble to find me one, which turned out to be a teacher's edition with questions in the back.

When Miss Greenberg finished Johnny Tremain, she started another book about the American Revolution, Hay-foot, Straw-foot, but we never did quite like it as well as the first.

Even if I had never read the book again, the wonderful characters would still be vivid to me: arrogant but intelligent Johnny, swinish fellow apprentice Dove, demure Cilla (my favorite character), spoiled little Isannah, saintly Mr. Lapham, Mrs. Lapham and her other daughters, Madge and Dorcas, the exciting Rab, Paul Revere, the snooty Mr. Lyte and his fascinating daughter Lavinia, handsome Lieutenant Stranger, the men of the Sons of Liberty, the Lyte cook Mrs. Bessie, Uncle Lorne the publisher of The Boston Observer, and Johnny's beautiful horse Goblin, part Narragansett Pacer, all moving about among the historical events of the past, not flat names in a history book, but living, breathing real people. I think Johnny was one of the things that awakened my love of history.

I didn't see the Disney film until much later and I was so excited—until I did. It's not a bad film, although very 1950s in its black-and-white outlook at history. It tries very hard to live up to what the book does: make historical characters and events live, but it's stagy enough that it really never succeeds. It even makes major historical errors: in one scene they are hanging lanterns on the Liberty Tree after the Boston Tea Party takes place, and the tree is covered with leaves. But the Tea Party took place in December. I guess you can say it's just being symbolic, but to anyone who knows a little bit of history, it's kinda silly.

Whole swathes of characters had to be left out in the 80-minute timeslot: Isannah, Dove, Madge and Dorcas, Stranger, Sgt. Gale, Lavinia...where some of them didn't matter, like Madge and Dorcas, both Dove and Lavinia Lyte were integral parts of the story. (Selznick's adaptation of Gone With the Wind left many characters out of Margaret Mitchell's book, too, but the film managed to hit all the right notes.) Although the book hints at a little puppy love between Johnny and Cilla, they are fourteen and thirteen when the book starts, and not all romance-y like Johnny and Cilla in the movie. And the movie changes the ending of the story, which is probably fine for those weepy ones with crushes on one of the characters who meets a sad ending at Lexington, but it ruins the point of the book, which was that people were going to die for liberty, people who were beloved fathers, sons, brothers, friends...but that liberty was worth fighting for, despite the cost, that, as James Otis says, "A man can stand up."

As a basic introduction to the Revolutionary War, the movie is okay...but the book offers so many gifts that after it the movie is like expecting a necklace of precious gems and getting a Cracker Jack ring instead. (Pity, too, because the "Liberty Tree song" is really catchy...)

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Books, Props, Gifts, Groceries--and a Tiny Bit of Serendipity
How nice to sleep late! How nice for the dog not to bark before nine o'clock, too. :-)

We didn't have a lot planned for today, but were going to take care of our grocery errands since James had to go to Kroger for prescriptions anyway and we were looking for something to grill out at Alice and Ken's tomorrow, and we also needed to stop at Lowes for new A/C filters (the upstairs one, at least, is decidedly furry).

We started out at the hobby shop, though, where we chatted about our trip last weekend. It would have been nice to go this weekend, though, although I'm sure the place is going to be packed: they are having a re-enactment of FDR's September 1940 motorcade through the city during their Independence Day parade (which takes place at midnight), complete with vintage cars, costumes, and David Keith portraying FDR. [story here] Majorly cool.

Picked up a little lunch at Wendy's and started on the errands. We went by Hobby Lobby to see if I could get something to finish up a birthday gift. It was entirely possible because, except for one wall of Fourth of July stuff, there were copious amounts of fall decorations out, with Christmas ornaments even appearing further back in the store. Zowee! It was so nice to wander among the fall decorations, garlands, picks, and swags, and china and resin pumpkins, and scarecrows...there is hope of a better season around the corner. I did pick up the small piece I needed, and we went on to Borders. There was a 25 percent off coupon and Tasha Alexander's new book was out in paperback.

Ah, and there were those enticing bargain book bins again.

The dictionary defines "serendipity" thus:

ser·en·dip·i·ty
n. pl. ser·en·dip·i·ties
1. The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.
2. The fact or occurrence of such discoveries.
3. An instance of making such a discovery.

A few weeks ago I was invited to join Amazon Vine. Each month Vine sends you a list of books; most are advance reading copies. Usually you can pick up to four of them. You receive the books free, but in return you must review them. Until you review 75 percent of what you were sent, you can't ask for any more books.

At my last choice I picked an offbeat mystery novel called The Unscratchables and a historical mystery/romance called The Counterfeit Guest, which takes place in 1797. It was a sequel to The Blackstone Key, a book I had not read, but I hoped Counterfeit would stand on its own.

So I sifted through the bargain books today, found a humorous book about regional candy called Candy Freak and one of Kate Kingsbury's Pennyfoot Hotel novels.

And darned if The Blackstone Key wasn't in there, too. For $4. How serendipitous can you get?

(Oh, and the new Yankee was out, too!)

Picked up the filters and also some sand and PVC pipe so James can shoot off the fireworks we bought safely. Then went to Kroger and found some boneless ribs to marinate for the grill, the rest of the groceries, and I bought a Healthy Choice dinner for supper. It was pretty good, although the "red potatoes" included in with the turkey "medallions" melted smack into the gravy after three minutes in the microwave! I had it with a few slices of baguette.

Now I'm taking a page out of John Kenneth Muir's book and watching "America Rock."

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» Thursday, July 02, 2009
Whisk, Whisk, Whisk Those Orders Away
Seven done today...could have done eight but one was suspended and there was no one around to un-suspend it. (Sigh...it doesn't do to knock them out fast, as I got assigned at least four more...) Plus purchase authorizations and other fun things.

Instead of stopping for lunch I took a break about 10:30 and put up the Independence Day decorations. It was a lot cooler then! Also found a place for the little fall prims I bought last weekend; two of the others ended up as decorations on the table for now.

A surprise this afternoon: they usually give us 59 minutes of comp time the day before a holiday, but our own branch chief, mindful of the fact we are already doing fourth-quarter level work in third quarter, gave us another 59 minutes. Zowee! I didn't actually take all the time, since I had to finish those authorizations, but I was able to wash the kitchen floor, vacuum the upstairs and the stairs, iron my clothes for work, and start the towels washing in that "free time," all but the stairs before James got home. He grilled some burgers, which we had plain with a salad.

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» Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Putting the Fix on It
Lo and behold, Microsoft did call James back tonight about his computer, about seven o'clock. They did several things within Windows to try to clear out the malware and did finally get the Windows update and firewall back up, but Google search was still misdirecting.

It turns out this is some virus called "Skynet," which my search says is "relatively harmless." Well, that's true, it doesn't send out spam or pop up porn, but it's a PITA if you're searching for something.

The Microsoft lady kept trying to kill this Skynet thing, but every time she got rid of it, the moment you opened the browser and tried to search, it repopulated itself. Clever little bugger, that. She finally had to load something in Windows, then had James reboot into DOS and cleaned it out that way.

And about 9:30 it finally worked. LOL...Windows, Windows, Windows, and it was DOS that cured the problem.

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"Sloggin' Along, Singin' a Song..."
Ergh. While I'm nowhere near as sick as I was Sunday or Monday, I am definitely not doing as well today as yesterday, although yesterday was probably just sheer willpower on my part, knowing I had to get that one order and the modification out and wanting to get the other nine orders out as well. I didn't even take lunch yesterday because I didn't have energy enough to go down the 44 steps and then come back up them again. Today, despite sleeping an hour more and going to bed earlier, I feel like the Sandman ran me down. It's a continual struggle to keep my eyes open. I've tried salty stuff, having a bit of a go on the exercise bike, doing the laundry, concentrating on proofreading a statement of work...the eyelids still feel like warm butter is being rubbed into them and they are sooooo heavy...

Ooookay...I've finished the order for the collection of ticks and am going on to the order for the lab incubator..."one foot in front of the other..."

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Happy Canada Day!
[waves to everyone up north]

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