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 theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Wednesday, January 30, 2002
73 degrees again; swelteringly hot upstairs last night. Outside during the night it was as warm as it is when we reluctantly turn the A/C on in May. Ugh. Tonight we have the attic fan on in self-defense.

I have done some busy things that will not aggravate Mr. Foot: on Monday mending, yesterday coupon clipping, today painting the shelves that will be mounted in our newly redecorated spare bedroom. Two of the five are finished; I must decide whether to give the other three brown ones a second coat. Right now they look like those aged shelves that send decorators in such transports of joy on HGTV. Usually I despise them, but one coat makes them a lighter color and you can still see the grain of the wood.

This afternoon bumbled through putting two short JavaScripts on two of my web pages, and have continued my reading. Last night I finished Route 66: The Mother Road, which was delightful and sad all at once. It must have been fun to go cross country at the time, despite getting stuck behind the inevitable "poke." I certainly miss those individual motels. That and the summery air have made me nostalgic about the vacations I would take with my parents; 98% we stayed at non-chain hotels. Our favorite was always Lee's Motel in Lake George, NY, a pretty place with cabins.


» Tuesday, January 29, 2002
YE GODS! It's 75 degrees! And will be low seventies tomorrow and Thursday. It might as well be summer already, a season both of us despise.


Mr. Foot may be improving. Going very slowly, I managed to "swiff" the kitchen floor. (Sometimes I feel I could do this three times a day and still gather up a small chihuahua's worth of dog's hair.) About 90 minutes later I gave the den a quick, cursory vacuuming. I hope I didn't overdo--my ankle and foot now tingle and the heel feels bruised again--but I couldn't stand those bits of things in the carpet any longer. It hasn't been vacuumed in over two weeks. Shudder.

So, here it is the height of midwinter, almost February, and this is the second day in a row it's been in the high 60's. (I haven't checked the Weather Channel; it could have hit 70, it's sticky enough.) Bugs are everywhere, and I think a slug has gotten into the side door (there's a silvery trail on the floor near the door). Next thing you know the fire ants will be out. It's utterly horrible.

Plus the feral cats are already starting their spring fighting among themselves. I love cats, but these feral ones are terrible. They hang about our back yard, spraying the side of the house so much that, near the doors, you can smell it. Yesterday the toms were fighting and it sounded like small children screaming in terror.

Call Animal Control, you say? I've called Cobb County Animal Control several times, so has our neighbor. The last time I called them, a mother cat had stashed four kittens under our front porch. They were adorable, just at the age where they might have been tamed and given good homes. It is open around our porch, so someone with one of those sticks that Animal Control has, with the noose on the end of it, could have extricated the little guys with no injury to them.

Animal Control told me they couldn't possibly come get them. They had to be "contained," the man there informed me. In fact, that's what they always tell me.

Silly me, and all this time I thought the job of Animal Control was to "contain" stray animals... The only time they bother to come over is if you have a dead animal on your property.


» Monday, January 28, 2002
I'm home for another week. The foot is still not strong enough to bear my weight without hurting for more than 10-12 steps, and, more importantly, it's not safe for me to drive in rush hour traffic. I spent the night thinking about having to brake hard in one of those foolish and inevitable Atlanta traffic jams and either hurting the foot badly or rear-ending the car in front of me. I can just see me explaining to a policeman--and my insurance company!--that I was driving with a bum ankle. Can you say "driving to endanger"? I knew you could.

Sigh. Have I mentioned that the dog is afraid of flies?

This is tremendously odd because she is a prodigious bug hunter. Our den is the former garage and directly on ground level, so the ubiquitious palmetto bugs and crickets can skitter in whenever the door is opened (and sometimes under it). All one has to do is scream and point at the bug and Willow is on it in flash. She plays with it "until it's broken," then rolls in it and...ugh...usually eats it. Ah, well, as long as it's not in my house.

But last spring she developed a fear of horseflies that borders on the pathological. I think one that she was chasing stung her. Now the moment she sees a fly she will cower and whine and roll her eyes until she knows it is gone...or until we kill the creature and show it to her. One day she was walling her eyes and crying at the door. It turned out that while doing some crafts I had gotten a blob of dark paint on one of the slats of the miniblinds, the same size and shape as a fly! I had to scrape it off before she had any peace.

Tonight the poor thing flipped out at a ladybug. I don't ordinarily kill ladybugs since they are aphid-eaters, but I had to fetch this one down from the lampshade and let her kill it before she had any peace of mind. Bizarre...


» Sunday, January 27, 2002
Day 10 with a "sore paw." Put the splint and boot on and went with James to Sam's; took one of their little electric carts. Foot was smarting quite a bit after only a few steps and was still pinching and sore after a few hours. Advice nurse at the HMO wasn't much help. I don't want this thing to take ages to heal, so I'm afraid of using it too hard too soon.


» Saturday, January 26, 2002
Tape Recorders With Feathers

I've had budgies (aka parakeets) most of my life. All of them but the short-lived Pip were prodigious talkers. When some folks get over being surprised--"Parakeets talk?"--they most often ask, "How do you get them to talk?"

As far as I'm concerned, how do you keep them from talking? Budgies are psittacines, members of the parrot family, natural mimics. But that's only part of the equation. You have to talk back! No sticking them in one room away from the family, or leaving them to be decorative. A budgie thrives best being what he is, a small feathered person, talked to as if you would talk to another member of the family.

Once the little guy is comfy with you, you can of course try to teach him to say something. It may not always come out the way you planned. My mom, I have recounted, tried to teach Frisky to say "I love you" and what he learned was "What?" I instructed both Sylvester and Merlin in "Merry Christmas"; both said "Merry Chrisbird" instead.

And of course they really don't usually know what they're saying. Merlin managed to figure out "Hi" was a greeting word, but that's not the norm.

Bandit has continually surprised me. He picks up words easily and willy-nilly, like a tiny tape recorder. When we have to discipline the dog and send her to "time out" in her crate, we say, "Willow, go to your box!" Bandit now says "Go to your box!" Occasionally Willow will vanish and one of us will say "Where's the dog?" Bandit now declares as we do when we find her, "There she is!" Before leaving in the morning, I tell him "I've got to go earn seed." He now tells me, as well as "It's time to go s'eep!" when I reach for his cage cover. We have talked so much about our overflow of junk e-mail that he pipes up "That's spam!" And when he learns a new word, you will hear it sometimes up to ten times in a minute. They practice, too!

So when we decided this year to stay home for Christmas, a great deal of our conversation revolved around the "all dark-meat" turkey we were planning to have (legs, wings, and thighs). At least we must have talked about it a lot. Bandit's new favorite word is now "turkey." And I wish he wouldn't say it so much--he's making me hungry!

While he never did venture into "Merry Christmas" (or "Merry Chrisbird"), the one thing I did teach him to say was "I am not a chicken!" There was a time he got downright vociforous about it: "I'm not a chicken! I'm not a chicken! I'm not a chicken!" The funny thing is that sometimes he plugs a different word in one of his phrases--and what is really odd is that he never plugs in the wrong type of word. Nouns always replace nouns. I've never heard him say "I seed not a chicken." He earns seed.

And he has not been, in turn, a computer or a budgerigar--or spam--besides not being a chicken.

(The first time he said, "I'm not spam," I didn't blink an eyelash. I simply replied, "Of course not, sweetie. Spam is pork. You're poultry.")

So it didn't surprise me at all, but I did laugh, when I covered up his cage last night, when he solemnly told me, "I am not a turkey!"

The one thing a budgie is truly dull.


Day 8. Took the foot out for a test drive today. Ironically I did not really use it a lot. I limped into Airsoft Atlanta to use the "powder room," and into the Chinese restaurant [China Inn, two doors down from Kudzu Book Sale on Peachtree Industrial; good stuff]. At Kroger I took the little complementary electric cart to get my groceries.

It's throbbing its little heart out now. Ouch.

Here's a funny. James bought himself a new computer keyboard last Saturday. When he tried to install it he discovered it had a PS/2 plug. (When did they start making keyboards with PS/2 plugs? They used to have their own very unique plug.) We had an adapter, but it was "backwards"--PS/2 to the old keyboard plug. So during one lunch hour he trundled off to CompUSA to see if he could get a proper one. He found the adapter.

CompUSA wanted $20 for it! He only paid $10 for the keyboard!

In any case, he needed the new keyboard immediately, so he bought another. This was $20--and came with the adapter CompUSA wanted $20 for alone! [Eyes roll.]

One of the places we stopped today was Delta Computers, nee Delta Electronics, which sells discount computers and discount parts so you can build your own units. James found the self-same adaptor in a bin. It was marked $6. When he got to the counter to pay, the cashier said it was only $1!

Yep, for the gadget CompUSA claimed was worth $20!

Now that I've used up my quota of exclamation points for the day...short book reviews:

Our Man in Washington, Roy Hoopes. Murder mystery set in the Harding administration involving real-life characters in a fictional investigation: writer and language maven H.L. Mencken and author James M. Cain (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity) try to solve the murder of a member of the President's staff. Included in the action: a sexy redhead, the President's mistress, Teapot Dome, the Hope Diamond, and lots of illicit Prohibition drinking. Much chat and period references; the Mencken quotes are delightful.

Timeline, Michael Crichton. Historical researchers are tricked into going back in time to Medieval France using a quantum particle device invented by a Bill Gates-clone CEO. Lots of Crichton neat sounding but confusing pseudo-science and some of his usual stock characters, but interesting material on the Middle Ages. I guess the critics would sneer. Mind candy, but fast paced. I liked it.


» Wednesday, January 23, 2002
Day 6 of Enforced Couch Rest. Lying down makes you tired, which must be why I was so sleepy during the morning. I've spent a lot of the afternoon updating some of the software on my laptop. I've also added something called "Ad-Subtract" which zaps all those unamusing little within-page banners and advertisements (I have "Pow!" for the ever-more annoying Pop-Ups). Maybe the Weather Channel won't take so long to load now.

Meanwhile, here it is the end of January and its raining and almost seventy degrees. What horrendous and bizarre winter weather.


» Tuesday, January 22, 2002
What's In Good Taste Anyhow?

Something troubled me Sunday morning.

James took me for breakfast at Waffle House. Because of my crutches, we tried for a parking space that appeared to be coming available in front of the door. After several minutes we abandoned that idea because the occupant of that space was busily chatting on her cel phone.

As a short aside, may I ask in all seriousness what this fascination about yapping on cel phones? Everywhere I go I see people with these little plastic parasites stapled to their ears. I have a cel phone, but it is mainly for emergencies. Occasionally I have called from a traffic jam to say I am going to be late to work, or called "the mister" to ask him a question about something to buy when I am in a store. These calls have lasted at the most three minutes. What I tend to see, though, is people carrying on long animated conversations everywhere, including, sadly, driving down the interstate at 70 mph (isn't it bad enough they are tailgating at this speed without being distracted by talking on the phone?). Why? It seems to be epidemic.

In any case, we found a parking space almost as good and I began crutching my way to the door. A well-dressed woman entering the store jibed to me, "Honey, next time hit him with something that doesn't hurt you!" "The mister," coming up behind me, blinked. He has been unfailingly helpful since Friday despite his own bad knees.

When we got into Waffle House proper, one of the counter personnel made a similar joke, and upon exiting, the same well-dressed woman who had commented initially repeated the same hoary joke again.

I'm not touchy about things like Ralph Kramden's "to the moon, Alice," but all the remarks struck me in bad taste. Is it still funny to make jokes about spousal abuse?

And had "the mister"--or any man in that restaurant--made the same joke, would the women there have thought it was funny? I certainly didn't.


I have just wandered by TNN to see the infamous "black bar," a black strip that obscures the bottom tenth of the screen with the series title on the left and their ID "bug" on the right, "The new TNN." People rave and rant themselves into a froth about the thing all over the television newsgroups. Annoying as all these little ID logos are, I don't count the black bar as anything all that horrible. At least it's waaaaay at the bottom of the screen, unlike the horrible, brightly colored "bug" that Discovery Kids uses that obscures a sixth of the screen. Or the little "popups" that several channels use during a documentary to refer you to their website. I count it worse that TNN is very apparently using some type of time compression. The program airing when I surfed by was The Waltons and in one scene where Miss Emily Baldwin showed a young man to the table to eat, it looked as if it were an old Keystone Kops comedy, it was that speeded up. Ugh!


Day 5 of Enforced Couch Rest. Thank God for satellite TV--if I had to watch network TV I would go mad. This way I can go from M*A*S*H reruns to HGTV, back to M*A*S*H and then to BBC America to watch Ground Force and Changing Rooms.

Despite not being the fussy housekeeper type, I have ventured into the arena of home decor. My favorite type is the simple country style: Shaker furniture, cozy ginghams, that sort of thing, not the Mary Engelbreit cutsey country with the ruffles, hearts, and little dolls and teddy bears. (When I look through decorating magazines I believe I am the only woman on earth who doesn't go crazy over teddy bears. I have only two bears I like: one that looks like a real black bear, which was bought for me up in one of my favorite places in the world, Lake George, New York, by my husband, and the other was given to me by a dear friend before I went into the hospital many years ago. Otherwise, the teddy bear craze leaves me cold.)

Most of my favorite decorating series are on HGTV. If Walls Could Talk captures my interest because it mixes old homes and American history. Decorating Cents makes sense [pun intended] because of their limited budget. Our spare bedroom, which is now "Not Pink" <g> due to much work on it in November and December, was decorated on sales/discounts except for the paint: a desk from Big Lots furniture, existing bookcases/dresser, a futon bought when Waccamaw went out of business, an old microwave cart now serving as a TV stand, a pawn shop TV, an after-Thanksgiving sales VCR, and numerous items bought 40 percent off with coupons at Michael's and 50 percent off with coupons at JoAnn Etc. Joan Steffend would love us.

Room by Room is probably my favorite, if not for the tips, certainly for the antics of Matt and Shari. I would not do half of the wall projects Shari attempts, however--too much work!

There are those we won't touch on a bet. We formerly watched Room for Change just to see how Joanne Liebler would ruin a room that week, but the new hostess is as dull as matte paint. Then there's the world's most boring decorating show, Interiors by Design. I like watching Designing for the Sexes, too, just to see how far apart the man's and the woman's tastes are, but "the mister" hates the host.

Two shows even "the mister" enjoys are BBC America's Changing Rooms and Ground Force. Both now have American counterparts, the CR clone being TLC's Trading Spaces, which has gained a following. IMHO TS is just too darn slow. We watch it occasionally and enjoy the pace on CR much better (it's done in a half hour while the American version is an hour). And of course CR has the cute hostess with the Scottish accent, and "Handy Andy" is a definite plus! (Not to mention their cute little "working theme" used at the end when they are running out of time!)

We love Ground Force because they rarely put a lot of grass into their "garden" redos. Host Alan Titchmarsh loves rocks, patios, decks, fountains, and plants. If they do include grass it's usually a small manageable patch rather than the damnable endless lawn fixation that the average American yard seems to have. We wish the GF crew would do OUR back yard!

And then there's M*A*S*H, which never seems to age. Like every series it has its bad episodes, and the last few years definitely ran out of story ideas. But I've begun to collect the series DVD sets because the majority of the episodes are gems, and I know they will never be seen uncut again. Syndication chops out some of the funniest bits, or mangles the episodes with "bugs" and time compressions as I mentioned in another entry.


» Monday, January 21, 2002
What else was I going to talk about?

Oh, yes, books.

I have a web essay where I talk about books. Poor Mom. She hoped I'd grow up to want lace curtains and nice furniture instead of wall-to-wall books. But I can come home and see all the books and feel rich--and no furniture and curtains would ever do that.

At the advanced age of forty-six, I have finally read all of Maud Hart Lovelace's "Betsy-Tacy" books (including the three Deep Valley books). I've been charmed for years by "old fashioned" books, although there are those I won't touch, like the utterly unctious "Elsie Dinsmore" novels (which, to my surprise, have been re-released as some sort of chronicle of Christian virtue for a new generation of children). I can't say I enjoyed Betsy as much as Alcott or Susan Coolidge or Lucy Montgomery, but it was an enjoyable read. I just can't imagine how Betsy and the others in "the Crowd" passed their subjects in school with all the partying and picnicking they did!


So here I am, recovering from torn ligaments in my right foot, an injury foolishly incurred by descending the stairs into what was supposed to be a nice long weekend. Instead it turned out to be a nice long Friday afternoon waiting multiple hours at my overburdened HMO, while harried-looking medical personal tried to wedge me and my swollen foot between too many patients and not enough staff. (At least the clerical help seems to have improved. There was a time I thought they were hired for their stupidity.) The fact was not lost on us that we could have gotten out faster if I'd gone to the emergency room.

Ah, well, enough whining. You must have enough already to go with your cheese, no? So why am I here? Partially led here by two friends Daniel and Jerry, partially because I have been keeping journals since age 12 and it's an inveterate habit, begun by the person who gave me a diary for Christmas that year. The line of little locked diaries from Woolworth's continued, to graduate to the red-backed journals sold in stationery stores, and, finally, when my typing-addicted fingers couldn't handwrite fast enough anymore, onto floppy disk courtesy the original delight of my word processing life, WordPerfect (starting with the still-beloved version 5.1).

Then in 1996 I discovered the joys of HTML, probably the finest thing Federal Government employment did for me. We constructed a simple, text-edited page in "Internet II" class, I bought Paul McFedries' Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating an HTML Web Page, and like a budgerigar who sees a sprig of millet, I was off. I had a web page ready four months before we had an Internet provider. One web page multiplied. I bought more webspace. Then I took the plunge: a domain.

Combine the web and a journal: voilà! (or "Viola!" as Snagglepuss used to say)! Weblog.

Frankly, I don't know what I'll talk about here. But my chatty fingers should love it.

But now...sigh...back to put my foot up.