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, February 27, 2002
The folks at the Weather Channel need to get a life.

This has been a strange winter anyway. One day it's 60, the next it's 40, then it goes down to 30, then it goes back up to 60. The last week in January we had a mini-heat wave for three days with the temps in the mid-70s.

Monday (2/25) it was 68. Today the high will not be over 35. If that's not bizarre enough, the Weather Channel has a "hazardous weather" banner plastered all over the web pages for this area. Why, because it's actually cold in February like it's supposed to be?


» Monday, February 25, 2002
I'm crossing my fingers that Bandit is better. I let him rest this weekend to his intense dismay and he has flown a few times now without panting or his heart racing excessively. The only two suspects I have are the Glade I sprayed upstairs--but he is downstairs and has never been sensitive to sprays before--and the celery leaf I gave him that morning, washed as always (perhaps there was some chemical on it that did not come off with washing?). Very puzzling. I hope he truly is better.

We noticed that Willow had been "off" all weekend and we couldn't figure out why. We did find a fly in the room very late last night and I killed it forthwith, letting her sniff it. But this didn't seem to be the problem. Then before the night ended I took Bandit's cage cover off (I'd left him 3/4 covered all weekend so he could rest). Miraculously, Willow's mood cleared right up and eventually she was tearing into her stuffed mouse. Now did she sense something was wrong with him, or did our covering him confuse her and she thought it was bedtime? This dog is such a bizarre psychological type! She can be frightened of a fly, yet challenge an Akita walking by the house!


» Friday, February 22, 2002
This was not one of the good days.

I didn't sleep well due to worries (see below), then left for work early this morning to stop by Dunkin Donuts for a variety of the delectable rings. We were having a farewell breakfast for someone I have worked with since I began at CDC in 1988; she had been there about six months when I arrived. She and I were complete opposites: she speaks up for herself while I usually keep everything in, she's outgoing and I'm an introvert. Yet when it came time to say goodbye I was in tears. She was one of the few people leaving I would cry about, and I truly will miss her.

My bad mood was not improved by needing to leave early. Yesterday both James and I--so it was not simply "Mommy-anxiety"--noticed that Bandit was having problems when he flew. For short distances, his cage to the sofa, his heart would beat very rapidly for about ten seconds. If he flew any longer distance, such as the little "stretching his wings" circle of the room that he does when you let him out of his cage at night, you could not only see his heart beating rapidly, but he had his beak open to pant as well. Not good, and it happened three times.

I decided to take him to the vet as soon as possible, since the last time he wasn't well, we waited a day to see if he would improve and instead his condition worsened. It was hard to explain what was wrong to the vet except for the panting and rapid heartbeat: thankfully he is eating, drinking, singing, courting fingernails, and otherwise acting normally. Her examination revealed that his lungs were clear, but he had lost a little weight from when she saw him last February. Finally she told us to let him rest--no flying--over the weekend and then to see what happens. The next step is an x-ray, which can be extremely traumatizing for a bird.

We are trying this, but it's Bandit who doesn't want to be still. He feels fine except that he is breathless if he flies, and he deeply resents being locked up in his cage.

And the rapidly beating heart has awakened a fear in me that something is wrong in that area...


» Monday, February 18, 2002
eBook Fever

One of the things that interested me when I bought my HP Jornada was the concept of eBooks. Mind you, not that one of them would ever replace having a real live paper book in your hand, but--the concept of being able to carry around a collection of something to read in one small PDA was intriguing. I usually carry a book with me wherever I go in case I have car problems, have to wait for a prescription, etc. As I always have the Jornada with me, this would preclude having to carry a book much of the time.

The unit already came with a collection of eBooks, mostly classics, many which I hadn't read, some which I didn't care to read. The ones I had read before and liked, and the ones I hadn't read and wanted to look into, I downloaded from the CD-ROM. But I couldn't imagine actually buying one.

A few months ago I found the University of Virginia's eBook site. They have a collection of electronic documents that range from, again, old classics to documents about African-American history. They are downloadable for personal use. Indeed I did download.

When I purchased the Jornada, I also bought Don Hanttula's Pocket PC Handbook, which, as you can guess by the HP logo on the cover, is extremely Jornada-friendly. One of the pieces of additional software Hanttula recommended was "ReaderWorks," by Overdrive, which will turn a HTML, text, or Microslop Word 2000 file into a Microsoft Reader eBook.

While surfing Overdrive's site, I found the link to a Windows CE site that had a large collection of eBooks, including more that I wanted to read. Again, these are chiefly 18th-19th century books: Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, etc., and I can keep the texts in the PDA instead of borrowing the books from the library.

But the idea of the ReaderWork's software was intriguing. Since I was off for President's Day today, I booted up James' computer (I'm running Windows 95 and it only works on Win98 and upward) and downloaded ReaderWorks Standard, which is freeware. (The professional version allows you to add graphics to the text, index, and contents page.)

But what would I convert? In a bit of whimsy, I pulled up all the fanfiction I've written based on Rupert Holmes' delightful 1940s series Remember WENN, and, through trial and error, converted the pieces to two e-books (one for the short stories and one for the novel-length retro story, The Shell Pendant Mystery). It was a delightful experience! Maybe I'll go looking for books online that I haven't read and haven't been converted to HTML and "do the job."

(You may be amused to know I was using four computers for this process: my own to convert the files to an appropriate eBook form [nothing fancy; just a bit of tweaking and excising of unnecessary HTML code] and save them to floppy disk, James' computer with ReaderWorks to convert the files to a condensed .lit format and save to floppy disk, the laptop which is the computer synched to the PDA, and the PDA itself. Ain't computers fun?)

Incidentally, I'm thinking about buying my first eBook. EBookMall has Stephen Boyett's wonderful Ariel, long out of print, which has a new introduction and new material. Very, very tempting...


Long time, no post. As if you again missed my deathless prose. <g>

The wretched foot is getting better, but aggravatingly slowly. We have our taxes done, thanks to TurboTax and electronic filing, and already have a jump on next year, having been to Goodwill twice already. We'll get this house decluttered yet.

Meanwhile, I've whiled away some time reading:

The Good:

The British Century: Coffee table book James bought me when Wordsworth in Chamblee went out of business. It looked long on pictures and short on brains when I first glanced at it, but the text is remarkably good; have just finished with World War I and the resultant horrors.

The Bad:

The New Century: Another British-oriented retrospective I found for a song on the remainder aisle. This one I know why; the photos are great, but the text is reminiscent of those horrible social studies books from school, replete with graphs and figures and dismissive writing. Urgh.

The Good:

Peppermints in the Parlor: Never adverse to reading a good children's mystery, I picked this one up yesterday at the Discount Book Sale after having heard it mentioned on rec.arts.books.childrens and ended up galloping through it in one night. The author is Barbara Brooks Wallace and the story is a page-turner about eleven-year-old Emily, who expects to arrive at her aunt's and uncle's loving home after her parents die and finds it's become a horrifying place, with her aunt relegated to housekeeper and a forbidding woman running a terrifying home for unwanted elderly people in the house. Great stuff; may have to look up Wallace's other novels.

The Bad:

How I Survived My Summer Vacation: Look, I know this is "only" a young adult book, and a TV novelization to boot, but I've come to expect more from these Buffy the Vampire Slayer books, and this one simply ain't it. It's a series of short stories taking place between first and second season, while Buffy visits her father L.A.: a couple of stories revolve around the young slayer, others are about "the Scooby Gang" back in Sunnydale. I had to quit after three stories. The characterizations were so dreadful I couldn't pay attention to the plots any longer. The New Century had more scintillating narration.


» Monday, February 11, 2002
"Damn spam!"

This is what the bird's been saying for months. Is everyone's e-mail box as spam-attractant as ours? Yesterday we received at least 25 e-mails, one of which was legitimate. It's been going on for about a week, but it indeed seems to come about in waves. I suppose someone has got a new spambot out there somewhere. Earthlink has something called the Spaminator, but you have to manually send all this junk to them, one message at the time, for them to block it. Too much trouble. I've taken to not downloading e-mail on Eudora at all, but going to Earthlink's website where you can check your e-mail and deleting them right off the server, before they even reach me. Certainly I don't read them. Who give's a rat's ass about Viagra, hot teens, "free" cell phones, "free" vacations actually promoting overpriced vacation clubs and condos, jokes of the day, and all that other trash?


» Thursday, February 07, 2002
I feel as if I’m standing ankle deep in icewater.

I swear that no matter what time of the year at work, the air conditioner is always on, at least in the central area where I’m located. I haven’t been near a vent yet in this area during the winter that doesn’t feel as if it’s blowing cold air. Most of the time my hands turn to ice and I’m forced to tuck them under my shirt to get warm. Does anyone wonder why I wear sweatshirts to work? If not, I’d spend the day shivering instead of working, or have to type from the depths of a winter coat. Many’s the day I’ve worn one sweatshirt on top of the other.

Usually I tuck my right foot under me to warm up, but I can’t do that until it is well. So here it sits, propped up on my CPU (tower, sitting on the floor), as chilled as if I’ve been walking barefoot like the Little Match Girl...


» Tuesday, February 05, 2002
Yesterday was a success--sort of. My application for temporary handicapped parking was finally signed and I picked it up. Unfortunately the Cobb Co. License Office is closed on Mondays, so I couldn't pick up the tag until this morning. Of course when I arrived at work there were no handicapped slots available. So I limped in many more feet than I should have and probably compounded my problem by taking the stairs.

I tried, really I did. I went to the elevator and pressed the button. The doors opened with a squeak worthy of Inner Sanctum. Inside it looked the same as it has: grimy, with broken bits on the panel, dark, and breathless. I haven't ridden the thing voluntarily since August of 2000 when the doors stuck on me for a full minute. A minute isn't a lot unless you're as claustrophobic as I am, and this monster has been known to get stuck between floors. I rode the elevator at my HMO yesterday with no problem. Nor did the elevator at the building where James will be taking his upcoming classes bother me. But the one at work gives me the willies. I simply could not step between those creaky doors and instead climbed, slowly.

And when I went to finish the job I had started so long, long ago in January--the file I was using was gone. I hope it's a backup disk somewhere. I put aside other, pressing work with supervisor approval to work on that file for several long days. If it's gone, I intend to be very, very upset.

Yesterday was also a bit of a shock. I had my mother's birthday present with me and determined that if I could find a close parking space at the PO, I would stop to mail it. Amazingly, I did find a space near the door--then whiled away half an hour waiting in line--worse than Christmas! I also had wanted to stop at the Winn Dixie for bread for lunches. They have the best tasting white bread, "Dixie Darling," for a reasonable price; I've tried other markets' sandwich bread and it's usually depressingly dry or nasty tasting.

Surprise! The Winn Dixie was gone, replaced by a SaveRite. Sigh.


» Sunday, February 03, 2002
Hmm. Just found out the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Is there a Star in the East anywhere?


Haven't been on for a couple of days in waiting for my HMO to call me back about the letters I need for a temporary handicapped sticker and a doctor's excuse. I needn't have bothered, because they've never called.

Bet you didn't miss my deathless prose at all. LOL.

Only one thing of excitement to write: I have an interview on Thursday in another area of CDC, for an Editorial Assistant's position. Sounds like it would be something I would like. Of course I hope they like me as well!

This meant I had to shop for some new clothes over the weekend, as my previous set of dress clothing no longer fits. My foot was still tender, but James did a yeoman job of assistance and we accomplished the deed on Friday evening.

And it did finally get cold again, which was about time after sweltering for three days.

Otherwise I have been resting Mr. Foot and reading more. Today we limped around the computer show for about a half hour. I was intensely grateful to go on to Sam's and their little electric carts.