Sunday, December 28, 2008

Welcome to the Rolling Cooler Diet

OK. It's not really a diet. It's just where we'll be eating from for the next two or three days. Our forty-two month old fridge decided to take a dive. Actually, it started with the freezer. The compressor started making a noise the week before Christmas. I mentioned it to my husband, but he said that was normal. I didn't think so. Then right before Christmas it got louder. Then we noticed that the ice maker had stopped working. Then we noticed that some of the frozen food was getting soft.

On Christmas night, we decided we would call on Monday to schedule a repair visit. We should not have waited.

We came home from dinner last night to a big puddle of water around the fridge. Some of the thawing food had melted into the ice maker door chute. We cleaned it up as best we could, and made an action plan. In the morning we would get a bunch of ice and salvage what we could from the freezer. The fridge itself seemed like it might still be working, but we knew that it was at risk as well. Plus, the repairman might need the whole thing emptied out.

This morning, I purged the freezer. What a scary task that was. It was also depressing. I salvaged some of the food that was pricey and still in good condition. We have a huge rolling cooler. I filled it tight with semi-frozen/still-frozen food. I had a bag of ice and some cold packs that I placed on top. When Goblin got back from his morning class with ice, I put some in Ziploc bags and covered everything pretty well.

He got himself some breakfast, including a glass of milk. He noted that the milk was not as cold as it should have been.

This would happen on a long holiday weekend when our fridge/freezer have never been fuller. Plus, the outside temperature is in the fifties!!! Single digit temperatures would have really been appreciated at this point.

I doubt we can get a repairmen here before Tuesday. If the unit needs replaced we may not have a new one until the weekend.

So it goes. We'll be eating well for the next two days. Duck tonight. Salmon tomorrow night. Welcome to the Rolling Cooler Diet.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A different kind of holiday spirit

One of my favorite things about this time of year is that I get to listen to Christmas music. I have over 50 CDs of the stuff. (Sad, but true.) Every year I pick up a few more. This year I picked up one electronically that is pretty awesome. The a capela Straight No Chaser's Holiday Spirits. Their version of Twelve Days of Christmas is totally awesome.

On the flip side. I got a fabulous holiday CD by goth musicians Nox Arcana. This video is just a shot of the album cover with the song The Carol of the Bells. One of the most intriguing versions of this Christmas classic that I have ever heard.

I already had an earlier CD by them, Dark Manor. However, Winters Knight so impressed me that I've downloaded FIVE other CDs by them. Each of their CDs is thematic. Here are the album covers of my not-quite-comprehensive Nox Arcana library:

Grimm TalesWinters KnightShadow of the Raven
Carnival of Lost SoulsTransylvaniaNecrominicon
Darklore Manor

While Christmas has been fun, I guess my gooey, sticky, warm, pulsing heart really does belong to Halloween.

A semi-useless trudge to Burlington, MA

I had an appointment at the Apple store down in Burlington this morning. As I mentioned earlier my DVD drive bit the dust. Today's appointment was a reschedule from last Sunday's snow storm aborted appointment. The original phone tech who made the appointment for me agreed with my assessment that the drive would need replaced.

Goblin made the 35 minute drive with me. He had the time and I can barely lift the iMac. (It's bulky more than heavy, but I'm broken in so many ways that it's a bad idea for me to try if I don't have to.)

At the appointed time, the tech at the Genius Bar (don't you love that!) had me log into the computer. He saw that I had VMware on my dock and asked me how that was working for me. I said that everything worked just fine except the DVD drive. He made some curious noises and said he wanted to check so things just to be sure that it was a hardware issue.

I often find myself in this situation. I've been dealing with computers for over thirty years (no exaggeration). When I encounter a problem I do my best to diagnose and repair the issue. When I find myself at the end of what I can do, I try to hand my assessment off to the technician I contact to assist me. Inevitably, they assume that I am like every other end user and start from scratch in their assessment of the problem. Eventually, he booted the iMac from an external drive and discovered that the drive was still busted. I could actually see his body physically acquiesce. So than I casually said with a somewhat smug smile, "Hardware, huh?" He met my eyes somewhat sheepishly and said, "Yeah." I said, "Yeah, well. I kind of recognized the sound the drive was making."

He then started taking a bunch of information from me and told me it would be 3-5 business days to fix the thing. I was a bit put out. I mean, it's a standard DVD drive that they use in all their iMacs. He apologized and said that they were out of them and had to order one. He wanted to know if I would be leaving the iMac there while we waited for the drive, or did I want them to call me when it came in.

Goblin thought this was hysterical. I was instantly uncomfortable. Do without my iMac for most of the week??? Bah! Goblin started teasing me in front of the tech. I did acknowledge that I did have three other computers on my desk. The tech started and grinned, "And I thought I was bad."

We all came to the conclusion that it would be best if I took the iMac home and trekked it back down to Burlington when the part came in. I might still have to live without it for a day or two. But, that was much more tolerable.

Bear in mind, if they had paid attention to my assessment, and the fact that my appointment was postponed six days, they could have had a drive in the store. Grrrr... Then again, maybe they were out of drives due to holiday stuff. Who knows?

So, the iMac (BTW, her name is Matilda) is sitting in its rightful place on my desk. I have an external CD/DVD drive that has come in handy in the last week. So, all is tolerable in my computing world right now.

We did take the opportunity to cruise Burlington mall a bit while we were there. I picked up some half-price holiday cards for next year, along with a half-price audio book I've been contemplating. We had a lovely snack at Au Bon Pain, and then hit the ATM on the way home.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Goodbye dear friend

During the mid-1980's I purchased my first and most favorite cookbook: the twelfth edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, in a mass market paperback edition. It was the most comprehensive, yet diminutive, reference in my cookbook library, a library which grew quite large over the intervening decades. At just over a thousand pages, it was doomed. Paperbacks that large, and that well used, simply don't hold up very well. Last year the spine finally split.

I was heart broken. I did not want to part with my beloved cookbook. I knew that newer editions of the book were available but I could not imagine that any were up to the standard set by my edition. If for no other reason than their smaller page count.

But, I did my research. At 896 pages the 100th anniversary (13th) edition of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook seemed like it might suffice. I was certain that it would be lacking some of the character of my old friend. However, the old book was literally falling to pieces more and more each time I used it.

I put the new edition on my Amazon wish list, and my beloved mother-in-law made sure that the tome appeared under my Christmas tree.

While I'm just beginning to get acquainted with my new friend, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But before I could part with my old dear friend, I thought I owed it this send honor-filled send off.

Thanks for all the years of wonderful service!

Happy Xmoose

I hope that everyone is having a pleasant Christmas Day with their loved ones.

We got up around 7:30. That is sleeping in for us. We don't have any little children in the house anxiously itching to see what Santa brought them. However, I am not a good sleeper, and one of our cats starts yowling from the basement around 6 when no one comes to feed her and let her loose.

While I'm pleased with most of my gifts, I am most pleased with the present I got for our cats. I ordered a motion-activated cardinal from National Geographic. It tweets when it senses movement. I found a retro wire bird cage on ebay to go along with it. Viola! Perfect present for the entire family to enjoy.

Our younger cat was the first to be intrigued by the thing.

When the older cat tried to get close, he chased her off.

She came back later though.

A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Another improvement with the next administration

While most Obama supporters are looking forward to serious changes in Washington, there are some not so serious changes to look forward to as well. For example, won't it be nice to have a young, healthy somewhat buff, good looking leader for a change? (grin)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The doldrums of television, sans a writers' strike

For the next four weeks, none of the shows that we like will be on. NONE!

Yes, I realize that television is considered by many to be a complete waste of time. Yes, there are plenty of other activities I could engage in. Why, during this dearth of programming I could find that I enjoy having more time to pursue other more positive activities.

Yeah, right. What I will actually end up doing is watching more movies and odd ball shows, courtesy of TiVo.

After work, my brain cannot handle anything other than non-participatory video-driven mush. I really enjoy vegging out for a couple of hours before bed. Does this make me a cretin? I don't think so.

I read. I try to keep up with major news issues. I have an intellectually challenging job. So, by the time 6:30 rolls around, I want to put my brain on 'stand by'.

Some of the shows that we watch are mediocre in quality. That's ok. My expectations are pretty low. Some aren't too bad. Here's the run down of shows I've been watching this year (including one that's coming back in late January):

  1. My own worst enemy

  2. Sanctuary

  3. Sarah Connor Chronicles

  4. Heroes

  5. Fringe

  6. True Blood

  7. Bizarre Foods me, not hubby

  8. One Tree Hill me, not hubby

  9. ER me, not hubby

  10. Ultimate Fighter Hubby only

  11. UFC Fight Night Hubby only

  12. Whale Wars Hubby only

  13. Lost coming in January

We're still waiting for our BBC SF shows to come back, some haven't even scheduled their next filmings (Torchwood, Dr Who, and Sarah Jane Adventures).

We were thinking of canceling HBO now that True Blood is over for the season. However, we'll probably wait until the end of January now since there's nothing much on otherwise that we would like.

Angst and trepidation - delayed

Drat! The snow storm arrived earlier than anticipated. The roads were too crappy to drive 40 minutes in safely. So, I had to reschedule my "Genius Bar" appointment.

I did try to go. I figured that the big roads would be plowed. However, I called the Apple store first to see how the weather was down there. I told the young woman who answered the phone that I had an appointment in 50 minutes and that I wanted to know how the weather was there since I was coming from New Hampshire. She said, "It's pretty bad down here. So, do you think you'll be late?"

She was serious! So, without thinking I said, "Probably, since I haven't left my house yet." We discussed getting the bulky machine from my car into the store. Apparently they will come and get it from your car. This numbed my brain momentarily so I ended the call.

As I drove out of my neighborhood to our local Dunkin Donuts, I could see Daniel Webster Highway (a relatively well-traveled road). It was still snow covered and more snow was falling, albeit slowly. As I pulled onto DWH I realized that driving down to Massachusetts to get my CD drive replaced was a fools errand on such a day as this. So, I turned around and went back home.

I called the Apple store to tell them that the roads were too bad and that I would not be coming today. I spoke to the same young woman. She offered to reschedule my appointment. The next convenient and available appointment is next Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

Let's hope that it doesn't snow THEN!

Angst and trepidation

I have an appointment at 10 a.m. tomorrow to take in my iMac for a CD/DVD drive swap. I'm ticked that I have an issue like this with a (very expensive) computer that has only been in my house for a month. However, I really just want to get it fixed.

My appointment is at a mall 40 minutes from my house. We just got a foot of snow dumped on us. We're supposed to get another 8 or so inches dumped on us tomorrow afternoon. So, timing is everything.

Also, my iMac is a pretty cumbersome affair. I don't do well with heavy/bulky objects. I'm concerned that I may not be able to carry the machine into the mall. I hope to dig up a luggage cart that I used years ago, sometime before I go tomorrow.

I'm also quite attached to my iMac. I have it working (minus the CD/DVD drive) just the way I want. I already have much of my life tied up in this machine. I am crossing my fingers that none of my data or configuration settings gets jeopardized by tomorrow's adventure.

What a way to spend the better part of a weekend: worrying over a computer.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter has arrived in New England

As of this morning, NH still had nearly 50,000 homes that still had no power after last Thursday's ice storm. And, great news ... we're getting our first serious snow storm of the season tomorrow afternoon. Expected accumulation: 6 to 12 inches. Then, we might just get another storm on Sunday.

Wait. Winter doesn't supposedly start until Monday. Right? *sigh*

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

wahhhhhhh.... Hardware is still hardware

While I really really love my iMac, it has developed AN ISSUE. It looks like the super drive (aka DVD-RW/CD-RW drive) has died. The system is less than a month old, so it is totally covered. However, this is going to be a beaucoup pain in the butt to deal with. I am totally addicted to my iMac. I'm hoping that I can just take it into the Apple store down in Burlington and have them swap the drive. This will mean blowing the better part of a Saturday, no doubt.... and that would be the last Saturday before Xmoose...

Yeah ... this'll be fun. More on this fiasco later.

Ga. judge jails Muslim woman over head scarf - Yahoo! News

Way to show how backwards Georgia can be: Ga. judge jails Muslim woman over head scarf - Yahoo! News.

While I am totally on the woman's side, I do think she weakened her position a bit after the bailiff told her she could not enter the court with the hijab on, she told him that she "had been in courtrooms before with the scarf on and that removing it would be a religious violation. When she turned to leave and uttered an expletive..." After which the bailiff handcuffed her and took her before a judge.

Still. Georgia: Wake up.

Next medical chapter... me

While waiting for Goblin's surgery to complete on Monday, my left eyelid began to bother me. Over the course of the evening it got more sore and more inflamed. Apparently, I was developing a zit right on the edge of the eyelid. Yesterday, it not only hurt but began to itch. Over night, the goo sealed my eye shut. This morning, it's very swollen, sore, and somewhat itchy.

So, guess who's off to the doctor today?

P.S. Our schools are still closed as a result of last week's ice storm. And ... last night we got our first real snow (about 2 inches or so). Remember folks, Winter begins next week!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Medical mumbo jumbo

As Goblin and I suspected (and the reason I held off posting on the situation for so long), modern medicine is not an exacting science. It's more about guessing and playing CYA in case there is finger pointing to be done.

My husband was experiencing some 'digestive difficulties'. This is not uncommon for him, but it had gone on a very long time, so he sought a medical opinion. Said medical opinion eventually involved an MRI and blood tests. The MRI showed some 'masses' in his abdomen. The blood tests did not show any of the flags for cancer, but they wanted to biopsy the masses to be sure.

When Goblin was three years old, he had his spleen removed after a car accident. Today's surgery showed that some of the pieces of the spleen had escaped and were enjoying a happy existence sponging off his bowel and other abdominal organs. These spleen cells are apparently not causing him any harm, so they decided to leave them as they are.

Forty five years after the supposed removal of his spleen, Goblin is still playing host to colonies of spleen cells in his abdomen. The doctors were very happy that it wasn't lymphoma. They were also very intrigued at the happy existence of these independent spleen tissue masses living in his abdomen.

I guess Goblin officially qualifies as a medical freak at this point. No one seems worried about these masses now. My only question is why it too forty five years for anyone to notice. He was in the hospital for a digestive issue when he was 19 or 20. No one noticed then. Then again, maybe 'technology' wasn't up to noticing then. Or, maybe, the colonies were too small to notice at that point.

Maybe by the time Goblin is seventy, he will have completely regrown his spleen! Then, he can go into the medical history books.

A minor drama I've been holding my tongue about

So, I've kept quiet about this long enough.

Goblin is having exploratory surgery today. He was having some tummy trouble after Thanksgiving. He had several medical appointments and one of them turned up some enlarged lymph nodes in his abdomen. The blood screen for cancer came back negative. Also, he doesn't have a spleen, so any infection can lead to over-active lymph nodes. However, the surgeon he consulted with did not want to wait until after the holidays (which Goblin wanted to do since he has no leave left for this calendar year).

I'm sure this is all an exercise in medical CYA, that it's all traceable to his lack of a spleen and the fact that he's been fighting a recurring skin infection for the last couple of months. However, keep your fingers crossed for him any way.

Size 10 hero

I thought this headline had to be a misprint: Bush says Iraq ware not over, ducks shoes. However, while in Baghdad, an Iraqi reporter threw shoes at Bush. The man was swarmed by security guards and taken away. Bush and Al Maliki were not hit by the shoes. But, hey! It's the thought that counts.

Bush made a joke about the incident afterward saying that the shoes were size 10. So, hooray for the size 10 hero!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

This is a test of the emergency redundant emergency system

With the power still being out to large swaths of our town, the school board decided to cancel school for Monday. This is not a huge surprise. What was a huge surprise is the two different automated phone calls we got about it within the space of an hour.

Let's think about this. At least eighteen hours before schools are set to open, the town decides not to open schools the next day. Many town residents are without power. Many residents rely on electrically powered phone systems in their homes. Many residents aren't even in their homes because of the power situation. OK. Let's not rely on traditional radio, television, and newspapers to inform parents that there is no school tomorrow. Let's call them. Twice.

Maybe the kids can afford the day off from school tomorrow (after having Friday off). I think that the administration needs a day of education though, or at least some brain-boosting supplements.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

We were lucky (follow-up to the emergency)

While we had a minor power hiccup Thursday night, it was estimated that 90% of our town woke up without power on Friday morning. See: Merrimack hit hard by ice storm

We live on the Nashua/Merrimack town line. So, I guess that's why we lucked out. Today, I drove north into the main part of town on my way to Bedford. Most of the traffic lights were out between here and Bedford. I drove back at dusk. It was eerie how many homes and businesses along the main road were dark.

Oddly enough, on Friday night we called up the local Dominos and got no answer. We figured they were too busy to answer all their lines. However, I passed the store this afternoon. Black.

Authorities say it may be Monday or even Tuesday before all the power is restored. Wow! Who knew what a little bit of ice could do. I can't wait for the blizzards to start up!

Dumb dogs have the most fun

Great holiday music to accompany the antics of one hilarious dog.

Friday, December 12, 2008

State of emergency

We had a wicked ice storm late in the day yesterday. It knocked down trees and took out power. Hundreds of roads are closed. So, not only were most schools in the state closed, but Governor Lynch declared a state of emergency.

Early this morning, I was sitting at my computer when I heard a brief crashing sound, like someone slamming a large car door VERY hard. It was still dark outside, so I couldn't see anything unusual from my window. About an hour later, I was startled to see a firetruck pull up outside our house (we live on a court of townhouses). I looked out to see that a huge tree across the street had fallen onto several cars.

The firetruck couldn't help the car owners. Eventually, the guy who works for Service Master called some co-workers who came by with a chain saw and helped extricate these cars.

Uploaded a while later:

And, later still, the fate of the fallen tree:

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hero dog in Chile

This is pretty amazing. It's too bad that the 'rescued' dog was no longer alive. Still ...

Full story

Monday, December 08, 2008

Perhaps I'm becoming a Socialist?

I understand why Washington feels that the financial and auto industries need bail outs. The failure of either industry would be catastrophic to our economy, and would take decades to recover from. What I don't understand is how the government can pour billions of dollars of tax payer money into these industries without insisting on some huge strings and oversight on how the money is spent and how those industries are run.

The reason these industries need help is because their management failed to run their businesses in a sustainable manner, pure and simple. So, they blew all of their capital and now we're giving them more money to mismanage without sufficient oversight to ensure that the funds are used wisely. Sounds like OUR MANAGEMENT (aka the Federal government) may soon be looking for a bailout from some mythical big brother after they squander our capital and resources.

Free market proponents argue that the market should be allowed to repair itself, that business knows how to take care of itself. Well ... um ... didn't they just prove that they don't have a clue?

So, if we're going to hand industry any money there should be massive strings attached to the deal. Minimally, the BoD's of recipient companies should have voting Federal representatives on them. Depending on the level of funding we need to infuse in these concerns, I am not adverse to a complete Federal takeover of the business. Yes, that smells like 'nationalization'. Yes, that smells like Socialism.

If Nanny is going to put a bandaid on your knees and elbows, Nanny should also make you eat your vegetables and tell you when to go to bed. If you don't want to be told when to go to bed, don't ask Nanny to fix up your scrapes.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A political appointment I can definitely live with

While I was not initially supportive of Obama's choice of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State, I have adjusted to the idea. The final event that will make it more than all right is that it looks like Clinton's Senate seat will probably go to Caroline Kennedy. I have admired Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg over the years for staying out of the public eye, and then for coming forward when she found herself inspired by Obama. I did kind of question her credentials when she was put on his VeeP selection committee. However, I think Joe Biden was an excellent choice.

I have been impressed with some of Obama's other cabinet appointments (and not so much by others). Though many of his choices seem like he is resurrecting the Bill Clinton White House, others will inject new perspective into the Executive Branch I think. Now I have even more reason to read Dorris Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Let's hope that this team of powerful, and powerfully opinionated, people remember who their boss is and stick to his vision. Obama will listen to their experienced voices, but they will all need to follow his lead when the rubber hits the road.

The next four years are going to be very interesting.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Is Bush The Worst President Of The Past 50 Years?

In front of a live audience, pundits debated the point: Is Bush The Worst President Of The Past 50 Years?

The audience was polled before and after the debate. Even with Karl Rove on hand to make Bush's case, the number of people in the audience who agreed with the question increased by the end of the debate.

Both sad and cool.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Song viruses

My little red 16Gb iPod arrived today. You can only get the red ones directly from Apple. Also, when you buy an iPod from Apple's online store you get free engraving. I had my name put on mine along with "___'s private world and cure for song viruses".

What's a song virus? It's a tune that you can't get out of your head. Usually it's just a few bars. Often times it's put in your head by someone else humming or whistling a bit of a song that you are very familiar with.

Years ago, a beloved co-worker of mine (let's call him Monkey Pants) and I constantly tried to song virus each other. One of us would sneak up behind the other and sing a few lines from a very popular, and usually annoying, song. It usually worked very well. The recipient of the song virus was usually burdened by the tune until they could bludgeon it out of their head with another tune.

I think having an iPod handy might combat any unwanted song viruses. It's good to be prepared.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Separate beds

As many of you know, I am a chronic insomniac. On the other hand, my husband can fall asleep at the drop of a hat with the added benefit of being a consummate snorer. This is not a good combination. The last few nights neither of us have gotten much sleep. His snoring wakes me up, and then I poke him to make him change position. We are both having some other health issues that are exacerbating this situation.

Tonight, when Goblin came home, he took a bunch of blankets and sheets into his office where he has a futon couch. I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had ordered an anti-snoring device but, until it comes, he is planning on sleeping on the futon.

Hopefully, we'll both sleep better. *SIGH*