Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review

I don't know that I have a whole lot to report. It's been a year. I don't do resolutions, so there won't be any here.

Job and House Update

I'm in the same job, still hoping I'll get to use my training on a more regular basis. (On the other hand, I'm honing my data management and cleaning skills. Just need to work on my motivation to keep going.) I am continuing to pursue other employment though, so perhaps by the end of 2008 I'll be doing something else.

I'm in the same house. Said house now has three new ceiling fans (thanks for the assistance Mom!) and extra insulation in the attic. In the next year I hope to fix some grade/drainage issues at the front of the house so water doesn't pool at the base of the foundation and to replace a couple of torn window screens. I did get the pool open though it continued to torment me all year long and was the source of LARGE water bills due to inadvertent siphoning. Closing the pool seemed to go well, though I won't now for certain until I go to open it in the spring.

Garden Updates
The veggie garden was new this year. I didn't keep up with the weeding as much as I should have, to the extent that I took the weed whacker to it at one point and never did find the pea or bean plants once the peas and beans ripened. Oops. Perhaps I'll track down a source for wheat or oat straw and just mulch heavily next year or I could just do some regular weeding. I didn't get a cover crop planted for the winter, but I do have 1/4 to 1/3 of the garden in lettuce at the moment so that's kind of a cover crop. I also need to track down a manure source for the compost pile. Next year I will plant tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, radishes, green beans, sweet peas, cucumbers, winter squash, summer squash, eggplant and probably kale and chard. I planted most of that this year, but ended up not harvesting much of it due to poor planning and bad timing. For herbs I'll plant basil, oregano, chives, marjoram, tarragon, thyme and dill. The dill and basil will be easy. The rest may give me trouble. I am considering adding another chunk of area to the garden to give me a bit more room with which to work, but that also means more area to weed.

This was the first full growing season for the flowers/landscaping. A late frost killed off the fruit buds for all three fruit trees. The rose bushes on the north side of the house are still there and I still haven't removed the grass from that bed, nor have I moved the hostas to a better location. The front flower beds were better maintained. The existing bed was nearly taken over by coreopsis most of the summer and by daisies at the end of the season. The new bed is still in progress. I kept up with most of the weeding, though the evil Bermuda/zoysia grass did make a big push at the end of the year. There isn't a good plan for the new bed. Some of the plants I put in died. Others didn't perform as expected. The far end of the front flower bed is still nearly all grass, even the part that I de-grassed early in the spring.

The south and west sides of the house remain unchanged. There are iris on the south side of the house and the rose of Sharon plants I brought with me. These are not in formal beds, but just planted next to the house. It would be good to dig out actual beds so as to keep the grass out of it a bit better. I planted some cannas on the west side of the house. They did very well, though again they aren't in a real bed.

At the beginning of the spring, I put holly bushes around the perimeter of the deck. They are mostly doing just fine. I had one die and I hit another couple with the weed whacker, though they didn't actually die. I need to re-grade the lawn on the south side of the deck so the holly bushes don't stay wet all the time. I also need to rake up the sunflower seed hulls from under the birdfeeder.

The reseeding/overseeding of the lawn with bluegrass/fescue continued. I had limited success in killing off the creeping charlie, dandelions and other weeds in the grass. Two applications of non-grass weedkiller didn't seem to make much of a dent. I don't know if I applied the herbicide too lightly or if the weeds just laughed at the "cocktail" I served them.

The poison ivy corner is mostly under control, though it took the application of undiluted RoundUp concentrate to kill it off. There was some diesel fuel/hydralic fluid run-off from the property next door which also helped kill the poison ivy in the lawn. I have planted a couple of daisy plants back there, as well as a few nandinas and some volunteer evergreens. In the spring, I'll add a liberal dusting of coreopsis and daisy seeds. The neighbors with the trenching company have put in a good drainage ditch along the west end of my yard so that runoff from their lot doesn't run through the poison ivy corner any more. I really appreciate that a lot since the erosion was getting pretty bad during heavy rainfall. I thought about planting river cane or some shrubby willows in there, but I don't know if I will get to that.

On the bramble front, the blackberry bush(es) that came with the house is doing well, though will need some containment soon. The garden should probably be moved further away from it so weeding the garden and trimming the grass will be less hazardous. The raspberry starts I brought with me didn't do as well. They're growing, but not terribly fast. That might have been due to the heat and drought this summer or they don't like the soil here, which is also possible.

The acorns I picked up this fall are still hanging out in the garage. I need to put a bunch of them in the ground and make me a bunch of baby oak trees. It would be good to add some trees to the property. The big oak tree out by the garden shed is actually failing. It's developing heart rot and will eventually fall over. It'll take about 20 years before a seedling is even half the size of that tree, but it wouldn't hurt to get a start on the new trees now.

Health/Exercise Stuff
My training for the 2007 marathon never really got off the ground. I'm still struggling with daily exercise. I am doing a lot better at eating well, however. I should be able to keep that up since I've figured out how to keep it simple and yummy. I also learned to limit the size of things I cook so that I don't have too many leftover servings that I lose interest before the food is gone. Now that I've got the food part of things managed, I ought to be able to figure out the exercise end of things. I turn 40 in a year. I would like to be a fit 40 year old, not the same old (lack of) fitness level I've had since I was in high school. Now I just need to get out of my chair on a regular basis and keep moving toward that goal.

Other Stuff
I didn't actually complete the NaNoWriMo goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I did, however, start a completely different book, though I haven't really worked on it since. I would like to spend a little bit of time each week on this book, but so far I haven't managed that on a regular basis.

Website work is at the same level it was at the beginning of the year with my managing or updating two commercial sites, though I switched out one site for another partway through the year. I still need to develop my own sites more fully and learn CSS. I have set myself a list of goals with respect to websites and computer stuff, with the intention to work on those goals a little each week.

I have figured out that little bits of work done regularly add up to getting a lot of work done over time. My previous method of approach was to attack something hard for as long as I could stand it until I got burned out or stuck, then I'd sort of half-heartedly work at said project until I gave up making progress. This rarely resulted in a completed project, but did result in frying myself mentally and sometimes physically. I seem to make much more progress with the smaller step approach. I'll work on applying it more broadly and see how far I get with various goals.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Week in Review

The super secret ninja re-gifting was a complete success. The recipient wasn't at her desk when I left the re-wrapped book and her stand-in didn't notice either. Later on I was specifically asked by the recipient if I had left it or if I knew who had. Of course, I said, "no". (Yes, it's a fib, but it sure seemed to make her day so I'll cheerfully take the bad karma for that one.) The recipient raved about receiving the book and that she'd heard very good things about it and the author. Yay!

My shoulder is much less ticked off at me at the moment, having had a four day break from data entry, plus a steady intake of ibuprofen. I can now sleep comfortably on my right side, though I still can't sleep with my right arm over my head or under my head. Still, this is an improvement over last week. Hopefully the trend will continue. I'm taking regular data entry breaks and trying to reduce the movement in my right shoulder.

Friday at work was less tense and stressful than I had expected. Even today at work was good. No major disasters over the holidays, unless you count the botulism-related recall of #10 cans of green beans. So far there aren't any human cases of disease. The highlight of my day today was alphabetizing a bunch of paperwork in preparation for the data entry. With any luck I'll be able to hammer through a good chunk of the data entry tomorrow, then next week I'll work on the next missing data list. I think I've given up on ever getting the missing data, but I'll send the request anyway.

The big box o' cookies arrived at its destination. I didn't think the oatmeal toasting bread would be nearly the success it turned out to be. I was nearly positive the cookies would go over very well and they did. The assortment included chocolate chip, oatmeal scotchies, snickerdoodles and chocolate-peanut butter chip. The chocolate-peanut butter chip cookies have been added to the regular rotation and have already been requested for SciNet 2008.

My car was apparently feeling neglected on Sunday so it flipped on its check engine light. It ran a bit rough, but I figured that might have been due to the extremely cold weather. Turning the car off and back on, then letting it run until it warmed up completely didn't make the light go out. So, bright and early on Christmas eve, we take my car in. The mechanic gets it connected to the diagnostic computer and the light goes out. The trouble history indicates the light was never even on. He and I both saw the light on, so we both know it really had been on. Best guess is that there might be some sort of impending trouble, but until the light goes on and stays on there isn't anything they can do to fix it. And since they didn't do anything to my car, the kind mechanics didn't charge me for the diagnostics. Yay!

I surprised my ambulance buddies on Saturday morning by joining them for breakfast at the hospital. I also chatted with one of the ER techs after breakfast. I hadn't seen her since before I moved. We might get together this spring when she's in Memphis taking her kids to see their grandmother (her ex-mother-in-law).

Work will now be a fully wired sort of experience. I now have not only an iPod to amuse me, but also an mp3 player so I can listen to audiobooks. I managed to get three books loaded on the mp3 player tonight. I certainly won't listen to 15 hours of books in 7.5 hours of work, but I can certainly make a good dent in it. The books I have checked out are a Debbie Macomber mystery (at least I think it's a mystery), a collection of H.P. Lovecraft horror short stories and Cesar Milan's latest book. I'll have to look for more books to check out over the weekend.

The cold weather in Chicago was *wonderful*! I got my cold and snow fix. The high temperature on Sunday was about 26 degrees F with 30-40 mph winds. I had to wear both my fleece and my shell, plus gloves. It felt good. The roads were clear the whole way up, though Saturday night there was some freezing rain after I was already at my destination. The trip back south was sunny and warm until I got to the TN border, when it started to rain.

In observance of the winter solstice, I wrote down a number of things I wanted to get rid of or let go of on scraps of paper and then burned them. Fortunately it was quite warm and pleasant outside for this exercise. The moon was nearly full and fog was creeping across the field behind the house. The coyote pack ran up the creek howling and yipping too. All in all, it was a beautiful night.

That's all I have for now. I actually wrote quite a bit while I was traveling, but I don't have the notes with me. I'll probably re-write this entry and/or put up the philosophical musings generated by sixteen hours in a car. Given that I have four days off this weekend, I ought to be able to manage that *and* the re-tidying of the house. (I have never been able to figure out how returning to an empty house somehow results in a very messy house, but it certainly does.)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bad iTunes! No biscuit!!

iTunes ate my playlists and my right shoulder got all kinds of pissed off yesterday from the data entry stuff. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the whole data entry thing I'm doing is pointless. Yes, it's good to have the information in the computer, but spending hours to compile missing data requests are wasted. I've sent out one nearly every month and they seem to get ignored. I asked for a couple of lists of information that they should already have prepared at the beginning of the week and haven't heard a thing. Supervisor suggested giving them a deadline and then we'll go down there and get the information from them. I am incredibly tired of this going around in circles doing what amounts to busywork. (If we actually got results, it wouldn't feel like busywork, but we're getting next to nothing.) Fortunately I will have five days off from work here shortly. Perhaps when I return my frustration level will be back to a manageable level.

In the meantime, I need to practice not saying anything unless I can say something nice and probably ought to mostly practice biting my tongue anyway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Conundrum....

So, this morning at work I found a Christmas present sitting in my desk chair. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but Christmas isn't a holiday that is part of my belief system. Yes, I exchange gifts with family and close friends at this time of the year, but it's NOT a religious thing, at least it's not for me. Frankly, the over-emphasis on the presents is part of the reason why I don't care for that particular religious tradition, among other reasons.

Anyway, back to the present at work. It happens to be a book. This is not a bad thing. Except that it's a book of Christian devotional reading and according to the book jacket is full of stories about how various persons became brainwashed converted to evangelical Christendom. Fortunately everybody in the office got one, so I'm pretty sure it's not a commentary about any individual's status with regard to eternal damnation.

The conundrum is what to do with the book. I don't want it, but I'm not willing to just throw away a perfectly good, useful book. I am debating giving it back to the person who gave it to me, with a note saying that while I appreciate the thought, the gift would be better appreciated by someone who followed that religion or was interested in being converted to that religion. This will, of course, label me even further as a heathen outsider. I'm also not sure that I could return the gift without causing ill feelings/uncomfortableness since the giver is at least trying to be inclusive, which is a nice gesture. I'd like to think that this person realizes that pushing religion on people has no place at work, but maybe not. I'm not sure I could get the point across without causing more problems and very little benefit. My co-workers do not seem to be capable of being open-minded and non-judgmental about religious matters. Once they find out that I'm NOT "saved", they might look upon me as a project who just needs to have it explained more clearly so I will convert and I'd really rather not have to deal with that.

The other option would be to anonymously give the book to someone else or donate it to the library. That would eliminate the hard feelings that might be generated by returning the gift, though it wouldn't address the point that I don't need/want to have other religions pushed on me, no matter how kindly it was intended. I've already told at least one co-worker that I don't celebrate Christmas and another that I don't celebrate Easter. When I return from my trip next week, I might have to point out that I don't celebrate Christmas in reply to being asked if I had a "good Christmas".

Thinking about it, I'm not sure that everybody is completely closed-minded at work. It appears that at least a few of my co-workers think about the unusual things I say and then ask questions or comment on them a day or three later. I might slowly expand a few of their minds a wee bit. Hopefully they won't just snap back to original size after I'm gone.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, that wasn't so bad....

The office holiday lunch went well. There were vegetarian things to eat, including some delicious eggplant parmesan and two pasta salads. The green beans were a bit salty, having been apparently cooked in a generous amount of soy sauce. I didn't get a chance to try the peach cobbler, but it looked like it was made from canned peaches or canned peach filling but with no spices so I might not have missed much. (Though several people said it was quite tasty.) The clinic doc once again picked up the tab.

The clinic staff decided doc can't dress himself and bought him some shoes, a shirt, jeans and a belt. He likes the shoes and immediately put them on, which was immediately met with derision since they didn't "match" the clothes he was already wearing. He offered to drop his pants and put on the jeans, which shut them up for a bit. Next they'll be parading women past so he'll hurry up and get married, despite him saying that he's rather happy being a contented single man. You'd think it was impossible to be happy or contented without being married. Then again, it also appears to be acceptable to get married just to have someone who will cook/clean for you. I'd hoped that the women here would be a bit more in touch with the modern world, but apparently not. o.O

In Other News....

The Spinners', Weavers' and Knitters' Housecleaning Pages website is shutting down in February. The owner of the site is burned out and didn't get the financial assistance she needed to keep the site running. A member of one of the Yahoogroups weaving lists is hoping to keep it going at a different site and I've volunteered to help with the technical end. With any luck, the site owner will share her files and we can just migrate and redesign the site before relaunching it on a new server. We could start from scratch, but that would make things more difficult and time consuming. So, if things go well, I could end up providing website support for both the Antique Pattern Library and the Housecleaning Pages.

Next step: to start bringing in some paying webdev/maintenance jobs. :o)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another Good Idea Spawned...

Of course, it wasn't an idea directed at me or my life, but at someone else's. Taitano posted to the UserFriendly board about his knack for tracking down good restaurants. I asked him if he was available for hire. Turns out that he's not. Yet. He's decided he needs to go into business once he graduates and gave me credit for the idea. w00t! I hope it worked out for him.

Now, to work up some of the ideas I've been accumulating in my little red book. Speaking of books, I need to find another one. My current little red book is nearly full! I'm not entirely certain where I got my little red book, but it was probably the UI bookstore. It's a 3x5" Clairefontaine clothbound notebook with ruled pages.

Amazingly Productive

For some reason I woke up early today. I even got out of bed and through the shower pretty early. Had breakfast at Perkins and started to work on some website stuff, but the connection was rather slow and then the restaurant got busy. I didn't want to hog the table so I headed over to the bookstore. I had intended to keep working on the websites, but the bookstore cafe doesn't have wi-fi and I was unable to get a network address assigned by the private network I hacked into. (Note to the public: change the default passwords on your routers and people will be less likely to steal your bandwidth.)

Once I got home, I wrapped all the presents I have to wrap, replaced the two burned out light bulbs in the garage, vacuumed, cleaned up the kitchen and rearranged the plants. I need to add a plant light to the top of the bookshelf or I fear the Boston ferns won't get enough light to survive the winter. Now I'll make a pot of hot tea and curl up with my knitting. I'm hoping to get 1 1/2-2 inches finished on the Spiderman Hat.

Other than packing and getting the oil changed in my car, I'm all set for the trip north. I've decided to wait on getting tires until after the new year. I've got enough tread to do that safely.

Now I need to quit procrastinating and get knitting!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

E-mail Client Aggravation

I have given up on using Eudora. After updating my OS to service pack 2, I began to experience fatal exception errors and crashes with Eudora 7.0.xx. I figured upgrading to Eudora 7.1 would fix that. It didn't and in the process of upgrading, Eudora failed to actually move the current mail files, filters and address book over to the new version. Needless to say this annoyed me. In addition to not fixing the fatal exception errors, I also discovered that Qualcomm is no longer supporting Eudora although Mozilla is working on an open source version of Eudora.

So since the current version of Eudora doesn't work properly for me, I decided to switch to Mozilla Thunderbird. Got the latest version downloaded and installed. When it asked if I wanted import my files/settings, I said yes and expected to be asked to specify which directories were the source. I wasn't. Thunderbird decided for me which mail files I wanted. It chose....poorly. It pulled messages out of an archive directory and now I only have access to e-mail messages from 2003-2005, which will make replying to last week's messages a bit tricky. I also can't find the current stuff or my address book or the mail filters.

Not an ideal situation, but workable. So I set to work getting account information loaded, re-arranging e-mail into appropriate folders and deleting a whole lot of junk. I saved the information (the only options are to click "ok" or "cancel", so presumably "ok" saves the settings). I ended up re-starting the computer due to other updates and fired up Thunderbird again. And was asked if I wanted to import my mail information again. None of that information I had put in there earlier (which took about 2 hours all told) had been saved.

Needless to say this is not making me very happy. I got pissed off enough I felt the need to go shopping. In the rain. One week before Christmas. So I picked up another two bundles of insulation. I even got it installed, which has thoroughly pissed off my right shoulder/humerus. Just one more bundle of flat, faced bats and I'll be done, except for the 24" wide segment. I'll look into what unfaced 24" insulation costs over the next week and overlay the mashed down parts of the blown insulation. I hope this whole exercise will result in some energy savings with my heating/cooling bills. The tax rebate will certainly be good.



Now I'm hungry and I really need to get the knitting started for the day. I've got eleven days left and about 120 rows of knitting to do. It's a good thing there are good movies on this afternoon and that it's too cold/wet to do anything fun outside.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another Weekend Arrives

If things go well, I should spend an hour or two in the attic laying insulation tomorrow. I'll make an early trip in to Lowe's to pick up two more bundles of insulation. Hopefully it won't be raining. I also need to get to the post office.

Today was the office holiday party. I took a big tray of homemade cookies. Everybody said "Yummy!" and exactly none of them were eaten. :-(

I was also reminded that I'm really not part of the group of folks working where my cube is located. Apparently what matters most is not where I physically work on a daily basis or with whom, but what the organization chart says. Because of that attitude, which I discovered about a month and a half ago, I have decided to not contribute to the clinic staff Christmas gifts. I would rather not be in the position where all I'm actually wanted for is money. (I actually wasn't allowed to contribute to the clinic director's birthday gift and was told it was just for people who worked for the director. Perhaps that's their approach this time too. I'm not going to ask.) I don't get it. You'd think since we work together on a daily basis that this wouldn't be a problem, but apparently it is. I guess since I'm not a nurse, have way too much education, and am not a local that there's something wrong with me? I don't know.

I suppose I ought to finish wrapping presents. To do this easily, I need to clean off the kitchen table so I have a surface on which to wrap. Otherwise, I'll be kneeling on the carpeted floor and trying to wrap things. This doesn't work very well on top of being awkward. Once I get things wrapped, I'm done with gifts, if I recall correctly.

Movie Weekend
TNT is showing all three Lord of the Rings movies this weekend. Of course, they're in full screen format, they're edited for time and they're not the extended versions, but it's a good thing to have in the background while knitting. It could be a whole lot worse.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

If vegetables didn't have protein, how would elephants grow so big?

I was asked today at work if I'm vegetarian. (When asked where I thought we should go for the office holiday lunch I said I didn't care as long as I wouldn't have to eat meat/fish/poultry.) I said that I was pretty much a vegetarian. Another co-worker asked what I did to get enough protein. I was good. I didn't tell her that the protein needs of a human are significantly lower than what the beef/pork/poultry industries would like you to think. I did point out that there are more grams of protein in 100 calories of broccoli than in 100 calories of steak. I also pointed out that elephants grow very large and very strong while eating a vegetarian diet. She said she hadn't thought of it that way.

I really need to work on just saying "Yes" when people ask me if I'm vegetarian. I don't care much for the taste of meat/animal products anymore. Yes, I used to eat meat, but I don't now. I think I avoid the subject because I don't want to have to debate/defend my choices. I'm already twitchy about being vegetarian here in the land of "meat and three", given the nasty comments which have been made about vegetarians by people who don't know my eating preferences.

Winter Has *NOT* Arrived
The high temperature today was in the 50s. The radio guys this morning were bemoaning the arrival of winter. This is not winter. Winter is when the high temperature doesn't get above freezing. For days or weeks on end.

And rain does not make the roads "horrible". It makes them wet.

Speaking of Roads and Driving
Apparently there was a driving oopsie at the corner by the local gun/convenience store. One of the street signs was mowed down and the fire hydrant was lying in the ditch. I'm not sure how they managed that, but they did a good job of it.

And as long as we're talking about mowing things over, for some reason the big yellow cement pillars marking the driveway at the south end of the Sam's/WalMart parking lot have once again been run over and knocked down. There are four or five of these 4-5" diameter pillars on each side of the two driveways. And on both driveways the pillars on the outgoing side of the driveway have been hit and knocked askew. I seriously hope that nobody managed to do that with a passenger vehicle. If they did, they need to lose their driver's license.

Recent Reading
I've been reading a couple of books by Michael Stackpole recently. The first is A Secret Atlas and the second in the series is Cartomancy. I'm having a little bit of trouble following all the story lines in Cartomancy (there are about 8 of them, I think), but it's very engaging. Lots of scheming and plotting going on by various princes, bureaucrats and others with a couple of invasions by barbarian hordes and some sorcery/magic to keep things interesting. There is a third book in the series, but I don't think it's out yet. One of the characters is apparently experiencing a past life, but I haven't yet been able to figure out who he is in this altered reality. Although there are many concurrent storylines in the book, each chapter is fairy short, which means I can actually end my lunch at the end of a chapter, instead of being left hanging until the end of the day.

Next to read are Making Money by Terry Pratchett and Boo Hiss by Rene Gutteridge. Mr. Pratchett announced today that he's been diagnosed with a rare and very early form of Alzheimer's disease, which is a bummer. He will apparently keep writing as long as he can. I found my copy of Neuromancer by William Gibson, which I still haven't read, so that's moving up on the "To Read" list as well.

The "To Read" list at this moment includes (in addition to the three aforementioned books): Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, A Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin, and Sweater Design in Plain English by Maggie Righetti. That's just the books I have in my personal library. I am, of course, highly susceptible to being seduced by books at the library. :o)

Bad Shoulder
I have managed to do something bad to my right shoulder. I suspect it's an overuse injury due to moving my arm from the keyboard shelf to the desktop (and the mouse) when I was spending 7 hours a day cleaning my TB data files. Now my shoulder aches and I find it uncomfortable to sleep on my right side. This wouldn't be a problem if I didn't do most of my heavy lifting with my right arm. I'm trying to stay away from daily dosing with anti-inflammatory meds, but I may have to break down and self-medicate. I'm also doubling my daily dose of chondroitin and reducing the amount of time I spend cleaning data each day. Hopefully that will give my shoulder a chance to heal over the next month or so. Now if only my knitting won't aggravate it too....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Francis Likes Cookies!

I found Francis the Ladybug munching on a cookie this morning.

I didn't think to offer him a glass of milk. When I got home, he was just hanging out on the cooling rack, but by dinnertime he was back on the cookie again.

I Reject Your Reality and Substitute My Own
I had to tell a well-meaning person this week that they could not copy part of one of my websites and re-post it on a different site. Somehow she believes this is adding some value to the information. While she did take the material down, she told me that many people had told her that her site was very useful and that she hoped that I would consider putting a similar webpage up at the existing site--the site from which she took the information to begin with. It has been suggested that I call her and ask her what added value she thought she was supplying, but I'm not certain that conversation would be at all productive or constructive. It certainly wouldn't do anything for me but frustrate the daylights out of me. She did graciously pull down the information I asked her to remove, so that's good.

No, we will NOT culture the daycare.
Ok, the MRSA panic is getting out of hand. If one child develops a MRSA infection, the entire day care population should NOT be tested for MRSA. For starters, a third of the US population is an asymptomatic carrier of MRSA in their noses or on their skin. Second, there is NO treatment for asymptomatic carriers of MRSA. You only treat it if it causes an infection and symptoms. The only way to eradicate asymptomatic carriage of MRSA is heavy doses of antibiotics to destroy ALL the bacteria in the body. If you've ever had diarrhea as a side effect to taking antibiotics, imagine doing that for a week or more. And there's no guarantee that you won't end up picking up MRSA from the environment again after you finish the antibiotics. MRSA is present in the environment--on door knobs, railings, handles, telephones, counters, money and anything else that people pick up. It is generally kept in check by the immune system. It only needs to be treated if it causes an actual infection, whether that be in a wound or an invasive infection.

Take a deep breath folks. It's just a bacteria and it's only resistant to ONE class of antibiotics (methicillin). It's treatable. Your best bet is still to wash your hands regularly and have infected wounds treated by your healthcare provider, especially if the redness around the wound spreads and/or develops streaks or you become feverish. If you have an infected wound, it needs to be kept covered with a clean, dry bandage so as to prevent spreading infection to others. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before and after changing the dressing. It really is pretty simple to manage.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Rather Odd Impulse Purchase

Insulation. Yes, you read that right. I decided on a whim to purchase insulation for the attic. I picked up two bundles of faced R-30 batts for the area over the garage which has zip-doody-bupkis for insulation. (In case you're wondering, zip-doody-bupkis has an R-value of zero.) I got 3 1/2 joist sections out of two bundles and I have ten sections left to go. So 6 more bundles and I'll be finished. I can fit two bundles into my car at a time and avoid the delivery charges as well. I can get away with two rolls of unfaced batting for the already insulated area, I think. That should cover up the thin areas pretty well. Having read up on installing insulation over existing insulation on the Owens-Corning website, I've decided that I will rake the insulation out so that it is mostly level and then put the batting down over the top. I will have to do something about the bathroom fans venting into the attic/insulation before I put the insulation down though. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised the fans don't vent to the outside.

Dinner Dinner!
It's Sunday, so I'm having pizza. This week it's just plain cheese pizza with lots of oregano, basil and crushed red peppers. It'll last me the rest of the week for dinner. I also roasted the last of the summer's tomatoes. I fixed a pot of bean soup yesterday so I have soup for lunch all week. I'll have to come up with some plan for meals after next weekend and actually make a grocery list. At the moment I'm completely winging it from the veggies I have on hand, though that's working quite well so far. I can always fall back on pasta and marinara sauce if nothing else.

A New Routine
After finishing up the holiday shopping for this year, I headed over to Perkins with my laptop for a bit of lunch. I had noticed last week that a banner advertised the Perkins as a wi-fi hotspot and thought I'd give it a try. It works like a charm. The staff even know which tables have outlets near them for folks who need power. I went with a full battery and didn't bother with asking for a powered table, though next time I will ask for one. I had a pot of decaf coffee, some hash browns and a short stack of pancakes. I tried the fruit/berry syrup and it was pretty tasty. I did get some work done on the revision of the Antique Pattern Library website. You can see the existing site here and the new site here.

I think I'll make the Perkins breakfast/brunch a regular thing, even if I don't quite get there every weekend. I can have breakfast early in the morning and get some web work done, then go run my regular errands and be back at the house by lunchtime and before the stores get really busy. This ought to get me up and going, but not allow me to get sucked into reading e-mail in my PJs and getting a late start on the weekend.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Every Halloween the trees are filled with underwear. Every spring the toilets explode.

Yes, Animal House is playing right now. Delta just got put on double secret probation. The horse should be arriving in the dean's office soon. I had forgotten that Tom Hulce (better known as Amadeus) was in this film. It's definitely one of John Belushi's finest works.

I'm spending the weekend baking and knitting. All the errands and miscellany are out of the way. I should do a bit of housecleaning, but I think I'll save it for tomorrow. I'll need something to interrupt the monotony of folding the laundry anyway.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This means *WAR*!

Here you see the heating vent in the hallway bathroom.
The pink fluffy stuff in it is insulation. The only place in my house where there is pink insulation is around the duct work. This means the *mice* are still not quite dead in the attic *AND* they have chewed their way into my ducts. I don't like this for two three reasons. First, it means I am now heating the attic (and thus not heating my actual living space). Second, it means there are fiberglas fibers blowing into my house, which I don't like given that they're a lung irritant. Third, it means I am breathing in dust contaminated with mouse droppings and urine, which is a risk factor for a lovely respiratory disease caused by hantaviruses. The last bit is the one that's really bugging me since I noticed over the weekend that my chest hurt when I took a really deep breath and on Monday (before the insulation observation) it felt like my chest was a bit tight.

So this evening, I got out my ladder, my trusty roll of foil tape and my assortment of mouse baits, then went into the attic. It wasn't as cold as I thought it would be. It turns out that I already covered the holes in the ducts when I was up there during the Thanksgiving break working on the ceiling fan installation. I suppose I ought to replace at least one of the ducts, but that won't happen this week.

I'm not sure why the insulation appeared yesterday. Unless I had taped a mouse INSIDE the duct and it's trying to chew its way out now. If that's the case, I can only hope it won't die inside the duct and start to stink.

Speaking of deceased rodents, I really need to go through the attic and pick up the ex-rodents. I saw three or four, but didn't really want to mess with them at the time. Also along the lines of cleaning up after the rodents, I am considering having the blown insulation removed and replaced. It's full of tunnels and is matted down in places, so it's not insulating very well. It's also full of mouse droppings so it's a potential health hazard. I could just install fiberglas batts over the top of the blown insulation and not mess with all the droppings, but I don't know how well that would work. If nothing else, I need to put insulation over the garage since there is none. If I get it put in by the end of the year, I can take it off my taxes too.

So, I'll be extra vigilant in baiting the attic. I'll put bait up over the garage tomorrow after work. So far nothing is eating on the bait stations *in* the garage since I blocked the gap at the bottom of the wall by the water heater.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Forgettable Week Continues

I was good on Thursday and remembered everything I needed to remember, as far as I know. On Friday, I left my lunch at home. *sigh*

Friday itself was fairly forgettable. It was apparently a "hang out at work and gossip" day. I was trying desperately to get a list of missing data produced for the prison, so was nose to the grindstone. I did at least get asked why I wasn't participating. I did NOT say it was because I didn't care to join in a discussion over the proper frequency of leg shaving. I replied that I had work to do and went back to it. It was mildly annoying when the loudness of the gossip peaked when I was on a business phone call trying to sort out some software issues, but I got through it.

I'm trying to not get grumpy about the Christmas music and the apparently mandatory Christmas gift donations. It's funny that I'm not allowed to sign the gift cards that go to some gifts because I don't work for the communicable disease clinic, but I'm expected to contribute money to the gifts themselves.

Speaking of Holiday Gifts....
I need to get the last of my gifts taken care of tomorrow. I will need to mail gifts next weekend, for those gifts I cannot deliver in person. Probably ought to get my baking planned too. There is a "lunch" at work for which everybody has been asked to bring snacks or sweets. I figure I'll take a tray of homemade cookies, since I'm baking cookies to ship anyway. The cookie menu this year will include: chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-peanut butter chip cookies, oatmeal raisin, gingerbread, anise seed biscotti, lemon clove cookies, Russian teacakes and possibly coconut macaroons. If I get creative or bored or have more time than I think I have, the list may grow.

Why I Might Be Tired....
Today I mowed my lawn. (It needed it since the bluegrass/fescue areas are still growing. I also wanted to munch up the leaves.) I also burned off the garden, except for the lettuce area which is still producing plenty of romaine each week, and collected about 2 gallons of acorns from my favorite oak tree. It's a apparently a very good year for lettuce and acorns. I'm going to plant a lot of the acorns in the poison ivy corner and once I get seedlings that are of good size, I'll transplant them to their final locations. I'd like to add a dozen trees to my yard, though this is about the slowest possible way I could accomplish that. I also washed the lawn mower thoroughly, treated two house plants for insect and mold problems, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen and did my weekly grocery shopping. I'm going to try to sleep late tomorrow morning, but I suspect I'll be wide awake by 6:30 just like I was this morning. That's ok. I've got plenty of things to do tomorrow too.