New Year’s Eve and Day

Ron’s investigations with the AT&T store near his office revealed that I could get a new 16 GB iPhone 5C for $100 and a two-year commitment to my contract. And the way the contracts run, which is by phone/number, not by whole bill, we can wait and upgrade Ron’s in a month or so.  The store near home was only open until 5:00 on New Year’s Eve, and the store in Vernon Hills was going to be open normal business hours New Year’s Day, so the plan was to go out in the morning and procure my new phone.

Tuesday night Ron printed up some calling cards for me, while I played around on the computer with laying out short poetry on smallish pieces of paper. I set the type for and Ron printed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat” by Lewis Carroll:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.

Then we went to bed, well before midnight.

Yesterday morning I decided I wanted to procure some patterned paper for bookbinding experiments. The paper crafting store at Deer Park Towne Center was closed for the holiday, but Dick Blick in Schaumburg was open, and there is an AT&T store nearby. So off we went.

I should have called to confirm the hours for the AT&T store. Normal Wednesday opening time is 10:00, but they were opening an hour later yesterday.

It worked out, though, as Robin wanted to hit a fabric store or Hobby Lobby, Robin wanted to get another couple slinkies for print drying racks, and I was in quest of a Monster High doll, and the Hobby Lobby and Toys R Us were both open. Robin got a half-yard of green fleece (instead of felt) for making forest blobs for wargaming, and I found some decent fabric remnants for my costuming thing at MuseCon at Hobby Lobby.

Ron found Slinkies at We Be Toys & Shit, but I struck out on Monster High dolls – they didn’t have any single dolls, only more expensive playsets. Not many Barbies, either – no more Pink Aisle of All Things Barbie. Even Robin was aware that Monster High and other dolls were taking a bite out of Barbie.

On to the AT&T store, and only a few minutes wait for them to open. I got my new phone, without the salescritter wasting too much time trying to sell us UVerse or other things we didn’t want. I got a blue phone, and a blue and green Otter case for it, which was half as much as the phone. And a new cable for at work, since the new phone uses the new tiny connector. A cable I promptly forgot this morning, oops. In the Otter case, the new phone is about as thick and as wide as my old one in its cover, and a little taller.

Had lunch at Olive Garden, then hit Dick Blick. The designated “bookbinding paper” was stupidly expensive ($15 or more for an 18″x24″ sheet{, so I got a couple sheets of “gift wrap” instead (same size, $3.50/sheet). I may be willing to buy the more expensive paper later, but for the first attempts, cheap is just fine, thanks. I also got some pH neutral white glue, bookbinding cloth, and another exacto knife (since one has permanently moved to the printing bench). I did not buy an awl, needles, thread, or bone folder, as we have those at home. I may have to split the linen thread I have down by a ply or two, but that’s OK.

Got home, and while Ron went upstairs to come up with calling cards for Xap, I went hunting for shorter poetry by Kipling. I decided on two Seal Lullabies from “The White Seal” in “The Jungle Book”:

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!

and

You mustn’t swim till you’re six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can’t be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!

I decided to do the first lullabye. I ran into two problems. The first one was that the lines of metal type ended up shorter than the lines in the digital font I used for layout in InDesign. That was relatively minor, it just would have meant a little more fiddling about setting up the press.

The second problem was more serious.

Over the weekend Ron had written a perl script to count characters, but I didn’t run it. I counted the lowercase As in the poem I was doing, and compared it to the count of the font I’d planned to use (metal type for English has a fairly predictable distribution of letters, so they’re sold as x-A, y-a fonts, where x and y are however many of each type of A). I thought I’d be fine.

As you’ve probably guessed at this point, I wasn’t. After the first four lines I was looking at the number of lowercase Es I had left and getting worried. Ron counted Es left in the tray and I counted Es in the last four lines. Then I pouted while putting the type I’d set back away, because there weren’t enough Es left.

I’m not sure if that font has an add distribution of letters, if the poem does, or if I checked the a-count on the other size of that font.

I suppose this means that I should start the quite possibly long tedious process of counting all the letters in all our fonts and entering it into my type spreadsheet. Or at very least, count the upper and lower case As for every font – the fonts we got with the presses we’ll have to do that physically, the ones we’ve bought separately we should have at least the A-counts in the listings. Grumble.

And we probably need to pick one font and buy a bunch of it, so that we can set more than an 8-line verse at one time.  Like these from Kipling:

HARP SONG OF THE DANE WOMEN

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow.
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

LUKANNON

 

 

I met my mates in the morning (and oh, but I am old!)
Where roaring on the ledges the summer ground-swell rolled.
I heard them lift the chorus that drowned the breakers’ song—
The Beaches of Lukannon—two million voices strong!

 

The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons,
The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the dunes,
The song of midnight dances that churned the sea to flame—
The Beaches of Lukannon—before the sealers came!

 

I met my mates in the morning (I’ll never meet them more!);
They came and went in legions that darkened all the shore.
And through the foam-flecked offing as far as voice could reach
We hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.

 

The Beaches of Lukannon—the winter-wheat so tall—
The dripping, crinkled lichens, and the sea-fog drenching all!
The platforms of our playground, all shining smooth and worn!
The Beaches of Lukannon—the home where we were born
!

 

I meet my mates in the morning, a broken, scattered band.
Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land;
Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and tame,
And still we sing Lukannon—before the sealers came.

Wheel down, wheel down to southward! Oh, Gooverooska go!
And tell the Deep-Sea Viceroys the story of our woe;
Ere, empty as the shark’s egg the tempest flings ashore,
The Beaches of Lukannon shall know their sons no more!

THE POWER OF THE DOG

 

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

 

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

 

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair,
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

 

When the body that lived at your single will,
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!),
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

 

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

THE RETURN OF THE CHILDREN

 

Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs’ dove-winged races—
Holding hands forlornly the Children wandered beneath the Dome,
Plucking the splendid robes of the passers-by, and with pitiful faces
Begging what Princes and Powers refused:—’Ah, please will you let us go home?’

 

Over the jewelled floor, nigh weeping, ran to them Mary the Mother,
Kneeled and caressed and made promise with kisses, and drew them along to the gateway—
Yea, the all-iron unbribeable Door which Peter must guard and none other.
Straightway She took the Keys from his keeping, and opened and freed them straightway.

 

Then, to Her Son, Who had seen and smiled, She said: ‘On the night that I bore Thee,
What didst Thou care for a love beyond mine or a heaven that was not my arm?
Didst Thou push from the nipple, O Child, to hear the angels adore Thee?
When we two lay in the breath of the kine?’ And He said:—’Thou hast done no harm.’

So through the Void the Children ran homeward merrily hand in hand,
Looking neither to left nor right where the breathless Heavens stood still.
And the Guards of the Void resheathed their swords, for they heard the Command:
‘Shall I that have suffered the children to come to Me hold them against their will?’

Weekend Report

As so often happens, we spent Saturday morning running errands, arriving home just barely before Ron’s sister Alisa and her son Kevin arrived.

It was nice seeing Alisa and Kevin again. Kevin is a year or two younger than Robin, I haven’t seen him in several years.  Pippin and Elrond approved – Alisa didn’t object to Elrond snuggles on the couch, and Kevin was a new toy in Pippin’s opinion.

We had filet mingon for lunch – cut from the tenderloin we started working through on Christmas Eve (I roasted the last of it for dinner Saturday night), and I made a not-too-large batch of mashed potatoes.  After lunch Robin and Kevin packed the lampworking supplies and equipment into Alisa’s car, and they headed back to Iowa.

Sunday Xap and the kids came over, and I made a darling little dress tunic for Wash. The side gores would have been sufficient, I should have skipped the front and back gores. Oops. It should be fine tucked into his kilt, though. The tunic is blue with black trim, and as I was working on the neckline facing, I had a feeling of deja vu. Ron confirmed that I had made a tunic for Modelmaker in the same blue and black, particolored.

Yesterday Ron picked me up a bluetooth headset, since starting tomorrow hands-free cell-phone usage will be mandated by law in Illinois. I’ve got Ron and Robin pretty well trained not to call me when driving, but the occasional emergency-ish call from one of them happens. Paired it with my phone last night, confirmed that it worked, then turned it off and plugged it in to finish charging.

This morning it drove me nuts, announcing the battery charge level every 30 seconds to 2 minutes, and dropping (and recovering) the connection to the phone 3 times between turning it on just before I left the house and arriving at the office. When I tried a visor-clip bluetooth widget mumble months ago, it was even worse about staying connected.

When I got to work I tried re-setting to factory settings, and re-pairing to my phone. Still chanting battery status. I shut off bluetooth on my phone and paired it to my iPad. No battery status. Just quiet, unless I did something with my iPad that would make it go “bing” or “click” or turned on the music. Going to the restroom, I got most of the way there when it announced the battery level, and a few steps later disconnected. Coming back I had to get closer to my office before it re-connected, but still a decent distance away.

My diagnosis is bluetooth issues with my phone. Rummaging around, I registered it with Apple in February of 2010, and the warranty (1 year) has expired by now. This and the previous attempt at hands-free widgets were, IIRC, my only attempts to use bluetooth devices with the phone, so I wonder how long the bluetooth has been iffy. Not that it matters. My current phone is a 3GS, 16 GB of memory. For comparison’s sake, that’s the most basic iPhone 5C. I don’t really see a reason to get much more, as I still have 6.5 GB free on the phone. Checking our upgrade eligibility on-line (AT&T), the pricing makes no sense, so  Ron’s going to stop by an AT&T store and see if he can get rational answers.

The second try at ordering Robin kilts from UT Kilts arrived last night. He’s happy with them, but I’m not entirely – I’d asked for sizing help given his hip size, and been told that a 44 would have plenty of room. Well, no, they don’t. But Robin doesn’t want a large size (which would be way too big in the waist), and he’s the one who’ll be wearing them, so I’m not going to argue.

Our plan for tonight is to stay up until at least midnight, GMT (6:00 pm CST). Most likely even a couple hours later. Because we are party animals, rahr.

Pluming, Music, and Beef Daube

Plumbing

For a while now our water pressure has been slowly dropping. Prime suspect is that the pressure vessel has vibrated itself to a lower pressure setting. Other possibilities WILL NOT be mentioned, because naming a demon gives it power.

One problem with the drop in water pressure is that the valve built into the tub faucet to switch to shower has been getting more and more finicky.  Ron finally got sick of it and declared he was just going to cap the faucet pipe.

I asked if we could instead just install a proper ball valve. He went with that. So, for under $20 and a little time we have a better shower again. OK, the faucet is now a brass ball valve and L, but “functional” describes a lot of the house. I don’t care how it looks, it works.

One nice side effect is that the ball valve completely shuts off water, vs. the leaky valve on the old faucet, so we’ve now got better water pressure out of the shower head. And less noise.

Music

I’ve finally bit the bullet and am switching to synching my iPod on the desktop. I started with my first iPod using my laptop, which I rarely use any more – my iPad has pretty much replaced it. So today I re-created several of my playlists, and have started the long, slow process of re-loading my iPod.

One of these days I do need to boot up my laptop, check the playlists I’ve done so far, and see which ones I want to re-create.

Beef Daube

Friday Ron had a craving for pizza, so we ordered from TreAmici, and haven’t done the risotto.

Yesterday we had Beef Daube, a stew that comes out amazingly like beef stroganoff without mushrooms.

The short version is that you cook 2 pounds of stew beef with onions, herbs, a can of whole peeled tomatoes, and a 750 ml bottle of dry white wine. Then reduce the liquid, and add creme fraishe or sour cream to make the sauce.

Wait, what liquid? Ours was pretty dry, so we added a little more wine and sour cream. We were supposed to take out all the chunky bits before reducing and adding the dairy to the sauce. I was using our 5-quart sauteuse pan, so I just pushed things to the sides to make a space in the center and made the sauce there. We served it with wide egg noodles, as suggested.

Oh my Ghu, did it have twang. Not unbearably, but it certainly had character.

Next time I won’t bother with the canned whole ‘maters, which I don’t usually buy. I’ll just stick with petite diced, since I expect having to fish solids out to reduce sauce isn’t going to be a problem.

Yesterday we also made the stew portion of the Beef and Roasted Garlic Pie – which is a fancy name for Shepherd’s Pie. I’ll probably make the mashed spuds today, and then we’ll have it for dinner tomorrow or Tuesday.

I think for today I’m leaning toward either Chicken & Coconut Curry or Chicken, Leek, and Potato Gratin.

Un-Planned Day Off

The Cause of My Day Off – Car Issues

Yesterday morning I discovered that the battery in the Kia was dead, as a result of leaving the headlights on all night. D’oh!

Robin remembered that the battery charger unit we use to power the winch (for getting Otter Necessities’ road cases up and down the ramps to the porch) is also a jump-starter.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the hood unlatched.

Fortunately, Robin had time to bicycle to Harper before his first class.

Ron came home around mid-morning, and got the hood open. The cable/latch needs to be lubricated, and Robin and I hadn’t pulled the release lever hard enough (afraid of breaking it).

With the help of the larger charger/starter unit we could jump the car, confirming it was just the battery.  Then Ron switched to the little trickle charger, which can be tucked under the hood (along with the connection between its cord and the long extension cord), so we don’t have to worry about rain, etc.

So what to do with the rest of the day?

Musical Instrument Appraisal

I checked with a couple local independent music stores, neither bought used instruments. The local Sam Ash store, however, does. We took my two clarinets and Ron’s bugle and flugelhorn.

As the guy was checking things in, he made a comment that the plastic Yamaha clarinet looked to be worth more than the wooden Noblet (possibly a Selmer Noblet). I remarked that that was odd, I always though that the wooden one had a much nicer tone.

Went off and got lunch while the guy did research, talked to his manager, etc.

Not interested in the clarinets. The first reason given was that the manager didn’t want them because both had non-original mouthpieces. Headdesk, headdesk, headdesk. I made a comment that I knew I’d bought a good mouthpiece for the Noblet, and then he said  that they already had eight (presumably used) clarinets on hand. Ok, *that’s* a reason that makes sense.

We decided to pass on the offer on Ron’s brass. They’re only student models, but the offer still seemed awfully low. Since we didn’t really need to sell for money reasons, everything’s back on the shelves in the spare bedroom.

I did a little bit of poking around on-line, and found a clarinet website with estimates from 2011 for various better clarinets, including Noblets, based on where/how they’re sold, vs. insurable value/replacement cost.  Given a replacement cost of X, the typical price for a used instrument through a music store that had refurbished, etc. was roughly X/2, and auction sites were anywhere from X/25 to X/8.  They had older numbers for Yamaha student models, but I have no memory of what they were.

I may poke a bit on Craig’s List, which I’m assuming would be comparable to an auction sites, and possibly put the Yamaha up and see how it goes, never having sold anything there before. I’d probably list it in the $100-125 range, given that I picked it up on e-Bay for $100-ish, and haven’t played it that much. Or maybe I’ll poke around one of these days and find another possible venue to sell them.

Doggy Chaos

When we went to bed last night we forgot to block the bedroom dog door. I remembered it sometime in the middle of the night, and finally did something about it in somewhere in the early hours of the morning.

This morning Robin asked me what I’d done with the bananas I bought last night. I said that they were on the counter. He said that no, they weren’t.

“All of them?!?”

“All of them.”

Yes, there are the sad remains of 5 bananas out in the yard. Pippin seems fine. After the banana discussion, I heard Robin calling Pippin a bat-eared husky-shaped piggy.

Bike Woes

Robin called when he was done with class yesterday to ask for a ride for himself and his bike in the truck. Somehow the back tire on his wheel had gotten bent. We took the into Mike’s Bike shop, and the first thing the guy said was “that’s a sorry sight”. I didn’t think it was that obvious that it was out of round, but OTOH it’s not something I look for.

Music Progress

Monday evening I attempted “Jamaica Farewell”. It went pretty well, as it’s only three of the first chords I learned, and I’m familiar with the words from our Harry Belafonte CDs. Last night Ron and I tried playing and singing it together. Not quite so successful, but there’s hope.

IIRC I’m up to almost a dozen songs I can play with more or less success. Some even to the point I can sing along with them! Woo hoo!

When we were at Sam Ash I noticed they had a new display of the spiffy iPad brackets like Ron’s, and was hoping I could get enough for the Yamaha clarinet for one or do a swap.  I still have lust. Propping my iThingy up on the bed or a table is not nearly as nice as using the bracket.  One of these days.

Er, I Guess it Wasn’t a Quiet Weekend After All

Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter Madness Infects Family!

Last week I mentioned the Reaper Miniatures Kickstarter campaign that Robin had pledged toward. Well, Ron decided that he wanted to get in on the deal too.  The campaign ended on Saturday at 5:00 pm (our time). It passed the minimum funding point early on, before Robin pledged, so “will it succeed?” was not a question. But, throughout the campaign they kept adding goodies, some of which cost extra. And it looked like it was going to be very successful.

So, Friday night we engaged in some Kickstarter-stalking. Saturday morning we got worse. Saturday afternoon . . . we obsessively watched Kickstarter. I made an attempt to ignore it and practice ukulele, but I wasn’t entirely successful. I also did some updates to “my” pledge as a couple really good goodies were added.

In the end, the Reaper Bones campaign was stupidly, insanely, wildly, ludicrously successful. As in Kickstarter’s 3rd-best project. Ever.

Kickstarter page for the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-an-evolution-of-gaming-min?ref=live

Kicktraq (tracking site) graphs here:  http://www.kicktraq.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-an-evolution-of-gaming-min#chart-daily

Fortunately, I did our last update before the load on the Kickstarter servers brought the site to its knees. 10-15 minutes before the project ended the servers just laid down and cried.

To give you an idea how crazy it was to watch, here’s a comparison of some numbers from an hour before the end, and the final numbers:

Pledged, 4:00: $3,312,748       Final: $3,429,236   (the servers were so pounded that number kept going up a couple/few hours after the campaign was officially done)

Backers, 4:00: 17,371     Final: 17,744

Yeah, almost 400 new backers in that last hour. And one of them, if my notes are correct, was at the $1000 level.

16,475 of the backers were at the $100+ “Vampire” level. Kicktraq says the average pledge was almost $200.

FWIW, Ron and Robin are each getting a Vampire package (although I’m pretty sure that only is counted as one Vampire level for stats), plus extras, for about 250 miniatures each, at an average of something like 67 cents/miniature. And some of those are big – one of the dragons or Cthulhu is 6-8″ tall. Yeah, gonna be a lot of minis in the house next spring.

The boggling, we had it.

Other Cool Projects Found While Obsessively Kick-Stalking the Reaper Project

I must love my husband. He’s pledged toward this project, a quick-change lens-holding system for Nikon or Canon lenses:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1022605159/quikdraw-an-innovative-lens-holster?ref=category

It hasn’t made the minimum goal, but the Kicktraq projection is favorable. Ron’s mentioned it on G+, he’d really like it to succeed.

I haven’t pledged to this spiffy drawing board/paper roll manager, but I’m thinking about it – both Ron and Robin like it too, so if we pledged enough to get one it would probably be used:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/antonreinig/sketchboard?ref=category

There’s a couple more things I’ve got reminders set on: a knitting book that I don’t think has any hope, and another miniature company campaign that Robin likes, but isn’t going to pledge to unless he gets a job before it ends.

There’s one project that I would considered pledging to, if it had been structured differently. An early-teen-age beekeeper is trying to raise money to buy her own extracting equipment. The problem is, she set her goal way too high (IMO, obviously), and it’s not looking good. She set her goal as a pretty nice set of motorized/automated equipment – over $6K worth. My approach would be to set  minimum goal (ie: the if you don’t hit it, you get $ZERO point) lower, to get extracting equipment like what we’ve got – a hot knife for uncapping, hand-crank  or smaller-capacity motorized extractor, and extras; and then state that if she gets to $X, $Y, and $Z goals she can upgrade to this, that, and other even better equipment.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1766386210/the-story-of-a-blossoming-honey-business?ref=live

On the one hand, I’d like to see this girl succeed, but OTOH, I think the goals are . . . not entirely realistic. If you choose your basic equipment right, you can upgrade/supplement without obsolescence. I think that’s a much better way to plan for business growth than the all-or-nothing approach the campaign appears to be taking.

Drums in the (Semi-) Dark

Saturday night we finally got to the “4th Saturday” drum circle that’s held at the Palatine UU church again. Since last time we’ve missed it because of cons/SCA event conflicts, and several times we meant to go but spaced out until it was too late. D’oh!

This time the group wasn’t as big or high-energy as the first one we went to (which IIRC was 30+ people?), but it was still fun. I ended up with Ron with his big 18″ djembe on one side, and a guy with the 16″ version on my other side. Hello, welcome to the bass-beat basement!

Actually, it wasn’t that bad. And a steady bass beat seems like it’s a necessary thing for the improvisers to play around. But a couple times I switched to my little drum with the tambourine-like jingles just to break out of the bass thing.

Somewhat Kickstarter-Related Ukulele Fallout

Yesterday Ron had a headache and the weather had me feeling very unmotivated to work on the Otter Necessities books or projects. So I poked around looking for open music stores to get a converter to go from the 5/8″ diameter threads to 3/8″ ones, for microphone stands. Ron got this nifty iPad holder (I have lust), a tabletop little tripod, and adapter (we already had one mike stand), but realized another adapter would be useful.

direct link to iPad holder: http://produkte.k-m.de/en/Multimedia-Equipment/Holders/19710-iPad-stand-holder-black-3-8

Unfortunately, there are not many music stores open on Sundays, and none of those had the adapter (we’d also checked Sam Ash and Guitar Center on Saturday). But we decided to go to Player’s Bench Music (http://www.playersbenchmusic.com/) in Crystal Lake anyway, because they were actually open, and looked like a cool store and we were bored.

It is a cool store. It’s in an older building, and has character, including creaky wooden floors, and somewhat oddly placed partitions and benches.

They also have ukuleles. Soprano ones. Nice soprano ones. And one less nice soprano uke than they did yesterday. Er. Um. No, I didn’t actually plan on getting a uke yesterday.  I blame Ron wanting to spoil me in return for spoiling him via Kickstarter.

My plan is that if we ever get to the point where we can play a song together, I’ll play the soprano. If I’m playing by myself, I’ll probably stick to the tenor.

Other Musical Stuff

Saturday we went looking for a  strap for my tenor uke. Couldn’t find the style we wanted, which hooks onto the bottom of the sound hole, goes under the body of the uke (or guitar), and then up and around your neck. So I got a regular guitar strap and button that they hook to.  I didn’t watch while Ron drilled the pilot hole yesterday, even though the block he had to hit is large and there was almost no risk of serious failure. But everything worked out fine.

Finding a strap at Sam Ash was interesting. A tenor ukulele is not exactly heavy, even if it is challenging to hold it and chord with one hand, so I didn’t need a big wide strap, or one with lots of padding, blah blah blah. Fortunately, I found one with a red brocade fabric. Pretty and not too overkill FTW!

Sunday we did find the other type of strap, and got one. But I’ll probably more or less re-build it, or at least wrap it in other fabric, as it’s made from a very scratchy plasticy nylon or something (also kinda ugly). But it was inexpensize, so even if I toss everything but the hardware I don’t mind.

Thinking of selling my clarinets. One is a decent but unexceptional plastic model, the other is a nice wooden one. The wooden one deserves to go to a new home where somebody will appreciate it and play it, which is highly unlikely to ever be me when it comes to playing it.  Not positive yet I’m going to send them on, but if I decide to I’ll probably take them to The Music Room, rather than dealing with selling them myself.

Critters

After looking at the weather report, we decided to defer extracting honey to this coming weekend. The weather Saturday was ok, but Saturday mornings usually are clobbered by one thing and another.  And Sunday was Right Out. Opening a hive when its rainy is just asking for cranky girls.

Next weekend also has the advantage of more possible days to accomplish setup, extracting, and cleanup. No, we’re not going to WorldCon. Just not interested.

Loyal dog is loyal: Even though he could have joined Ron and Elrond in flopping on the beds in the air-conditioning, Pippin stayed downstairs, snuggled up to me on the couch, while I played my new uke yesterday afternoon.

I’m getting the feeling I’ve missed something, but I think this is enough of a novel as it is – and I tried not to go step-by-step through our weekend!

A Response for Modelmaker

Yesterday our friend Modelmaker posted to his blog about e-book pricing (http://www.pensbykris.com/ponderings/?p=155). I was going to leave a response there, but I’m running into some odd issues with doing so (his WP blog wants me to log in to leave a comment, but it won’t accept my free WP login, and I don’t see a way to create one for his blog), so I’ll post my comments here.

First up, Modelmaker said “I would guess (I have done no research) that the profit margin on an ebook is MUCH higher than the printed version.”

From what I’ve read, mostly during the Amazon/MacMillan spat, the cost differential between paper and ebooks is in the 20-25% range: the cost of paper, printing/binding, and warehousing/shipping is something the big publishers have been dealing with for a very long time, and so they’ve figured out how to get it down to a surprisingly (to me) small fraction of the total.

Why would a publisher charge $2 more for an ebook than a paper book? Because the market will bear it – or at least they think it will.

Although some of us geeks have been reading ebooks for a decade (Project Gutenberg on my Palm Pilot…), in terms of the mass market and the general public the ebook market is a fairly new thing. Both sides are still trying to figure this new thing out. As such, publishers and distributors* are trying different price points to see where on the curve the optimum is.

To break it down to the simplest interpretation: If the majority of ebook purchasers won’t buy ebooks that are more expensive than paper, ebook prices will end up below paper. If the majority are like me, who don’t compare to paper prices and just go by “looks reasonable”, ebook prices may end up being higher than paper books.  Where will prices end up?  My WAG is that the market will settle down to a model where ebooks are around hardback price on first release, eventually dropping to about paperback price.

My profit margin on belts is greater than that on pouches. Should I drop the prices on belts so that they match the profit margin of pouches?

* People knowledgeable about the industry say that Amazon is more interested in selling Kindles than ebooks, and so are willing to sell ebooks at a loss in order to drive Kindle sales.

Nope, Not Fallen Off the Face of the Earth

Been busy with Otter stuff, mostly. Commando-shopped for a new trailer Saturday morning, did some grocery shopping, then came home and started working on taxes. Sunday I cleaned the dining room/work room.

Woke up yesterday with a sinus headache and just generally feeling like not enough sleep, so I stayed home, and mostly puttered around on the computer.

Depending on how Ron feels we may go see the new Studio Ghibli “Arietty the Borrower” movie tonight.

Today is the official release day for the first book in Seanan McGuire’s new “InCryptid” series, “Discount Armageddon”. I’m afraid I’ve been behaving like a bit of a fangirl about it. I bought the ebook this morning, but I think I did manage not to squee.

On a not-unrelated note we’ve been watching DVDs of “Sanctuary” on and off. On and off because Robin likes it, too, so we’ve been watching when all of us are available. Also the newest-is-the-US set (19? 20?) of “Midsomer Murders”, which we found Saturday. On that same trip Ron ordered the complete set of “Space: 1999”.

Music-wise, for the last couple-few weeks we’ve been going through my iPod, alphabetical order by artist. We have skipped a few audio books and Christmas music, currently we’re into the Ms. It’s an interesting method of choosing music, and you get some definite paradigm shifts without conceptual clutch.

Fire Mountain Gem order is scheduled for delivery today, Robin was teasing me about what I was going to do when I get home – read “Discount Armageddon” or play with stuff from Fire Mountain (currently a Seekrit Project, to be revealed tomorrow on the Otter Necessities blog). Such a kind, loving son.

Eowyn continues to be under foot. Elrond continues to be a fluffy doofus. After cleaning the dining room (and rearranging it so that it’s almost impossible to use the doorway to the front entry) I consulted with Ron and Robin about adding it to the dogs’ daytime access area. Robin vetoed it as still having too many interesting things to get into.

That was Capricon

Thursday Robin and I went to school/work, and in the evening baked chocolate-chip brownies and oatmeal-craisin bar cookies, and I worked on pouches.

We decided to let Robin miss school Friday, so he and I got to the hotel about 10-ish. I spent most of the day in the Cafe, Robin was here and there and everywhere, as he was Tech second

Robin spent Saturday and Sunday night at the hotel, so I came home alone Friday night – with a bag of plain chicken sandwiches and burgers for me and the dogs. They’ll forgive a late supper for people food (which they also did Saturday).

Saturday I worked in the Cafe, at the MuseCon sale table, and helped with setup for the MuseCon party. Nachos didn’t go well, I think partly people missed them. We’ll give them another try at WisCon, and the plan is to have a nice LED-lighted sign to help publicize them. Much interest in MuseCon

Sunday I um, bought another corset, this time one that goes over the bust. So did Ron – for back support. I think I left the hotel 4:30, decided I wanted Real Food, stopped at EuroFresh for stuff to make a curry stew, and came home and started work on that while Roon followed Dave and Robin to the locker to help unload A/V equipment. I think it was about 8 by the time they got hom

Robin worked his kilt off, both for Dave and in the Cafe, so we gave him today off, too.

The Borg brought the iPad up from Champaign, Thanks Muchly Borg! Doing this entry on it, which is entertaining because I can’t actually see the (expletive) cursor. Which is also why this entry is so brief. Perhaps blogspot will behave better….

Life Lurches Along

Last Sunday evening I uploaded the WindyCon program book to the printer, so last week I kinda had a life again.

Except that Robin has karate Monday night, and then I have class (Variable Data Technologies – aka personalized Junk Mail 101 ) on Tuesday nights.  Skipped VS on Wednesday, Ron’s tummy was off.

Thursday was Robin’s 18th birthday. Insert mother-of-18-year-old angst here.

We were planning to go out for dinner to celebrate this weekend, but things got in the way.

Friday Ron and I both stayed home with oogy tummies.  Ron’s is/was diverticulitis, with a whopping-great side of antibiotics for said diverticulitis (or to prevent infection because of it). Saturday was continued tummy unhappiness, although in my case eating very small amounts of bland food seemed to be forcing mine into submission. Sunday was more of the same for Ron, although my tummy seems to be better. So we’re postponing dinner at Lal Qila (Indian/Pakistani place) for a week.

And this morning Robin called me when I was about halfway to work, now he’s feeling green.  🙁

But the weekend was not all upset tummies and boredom.

Friday night we went to the school play, “Harvey”. They did a good job, it was enjoyable.

Thursday I went to The Drum Pad to get one of the new heads they’d ordered put on the Darbuka I’d bought. None fit. Comparing it to theirs, we suspect it isn’t the brand it was claimed to be.

As a consolation, Ron took me back to the Drum Pad on Friday and a different drum followed me home – not a darbuka/doumbek, but one like an oversized tambourine. I believe this particular one is supposed to be Brazillian, but drums-with-jingles are a worldwide thing.  While we were there Ron tried the 18″ djembe he’s eyeballed several times.  That was a mistake, it followed us home on Saturday.  It’s the big-big-brother to my djembe.  And much deeper.  Come summer and open windows I think the neighbors are not going to be in any doubt that there’s drums in the house.

Saturday and Sunday was back to the WindyCon Publications Salt Mine. Making a low-res PDF for on-line was easy, but  making EPUBs was a lot more time consuming. Even the one that’s all the same contents as the PDF requires converting everything to single column, some reformatting, then figuring out the conversion in CS5.5 – Things have changed since CS4, complicated by issues with I suspect were related to the beta of the Lion-compatible version of Adobe Digital Editions crashing and burning, which the shutdown-restart  between Saturday night and Sunday morning resolved. Also, iBooks is fussy about extra non-breaking spaces, and bitches about them, a find-and-replace script I was running wasn’t pulling them out like I thought it was, which we tracked down yesterday.    I also made a schedule-only EPUB, which required more cutting (and a bit of pasting). Hopefully those will be shipped off to be posted to the WindyCon website soon.  Then I can start on the pocket program.  I’ll be glad when I’ve got all the pubs done, it really seems to be a drag this year.

Small cooking binge yesterday – rice pilaf with chicken for me and Robin, and mashed potatoes for Ron. At least that was the plan, but Ron and Robin each had both pilaf and potatoes.  🙂  I also put together legume soup for tonight –  chicken/apple sausage (in big enough chunks Ron can eat around them), carrots (although why I bought and used canned instead of the fresh in the fridge is a mystery…), canned zucchini in tomato sauce, Veg-all (yes, I was feeling lazy), red split peas, yellow split peas, lentils, chicken stock, Rogan Josh seasoning, ground cumin, I think maybe some Fox Point seasoning (or was that just in the pilaf?) and probably something else that escapes me now.  I didn’t add the chicken stock until this morning, when I put the crock pot on. Hopefully I didn’t over-lentil it.

I have determined that I’m only buying ebooks through Kobo as an absolute last resort. They do use the same DRM scheme as Sony, which means we can get them into iBooks. OTOH, they never mention that their desktop software requires Adobe Digital Editions (see rantlet below), and we had issues actually downloading the file.

On the one hand I totally understand why authors, publishers, etc. want DRM – they don’t want to get ripped off and deprived of their income by pirates.  Which is why I don’t hate DRM, and will buy DRMed books. I want authors to get paid so that they can keep writing. OTOH, I’d really like to be able to (re-) read all my ebooks with the same application, not have to remember which one this or that book was in.  Sooo, it may happen from time to time that things happen in our house to get books into the reader of choice, and if I want to loan an ebook to someone, that means loaning them the device to read it.

Related to that, Robin’s Literature course this semester (or whole school year, I forget) is all SF. Currently they’re running through some of Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” books, they did “The War of the Worlds” earlier, and I forget what else.  So Robin has finally been sucked into the world of ebooks, by using one of our Sony Readers for the public domain titles.

Oh yeah, the Adobe Digital Editions (Adobe’s ebook software) Rant.  It’s actually a rant to both Adobe and Apple: The Venn diagram for your customers has a really big overlap.  Learn to play nice!  Get your carp together and coordinate OS/software updates so we’re not left with software that won’t run!  And nooo, the trial of Digital Editions 1.8 does not run under Lion.  I’ve uninstalled, deleted, emptied the trash, shut down, restarted, re-installed, and it still crashes on startup.  Mutter mutter mutter, damn kids, get off my lawn!

And to finish up, here’s a picture of Robin on his birthday, in the new kilt that was his present. He cleans up rather well, I must say. Even with bed-head.  🙂  Click to embiggen (very big).

Dribs and Drabs and Stuff

School starts for both me and Robin tomorrow.  Insert standard “can’t believe he’s a Senior” thing here.

Computery Things

After letting Ron’s iMac count its fingers and toes several weeks ago, most of the Adobe CS4 apps were working politely.  Except InDesign.  Saturday we decided Lion Server wasn’t really getting us anything useful, and in fact seemed to be causing the machine to seize up for a few seconds every now and then.  So we found instructions on how to deactivate Lion Server and re-installed InDesign for the Nth time.  Yay!  Success!  InDesign works again!  We may be buying CS5.5 as soon as Friday, but it’s nice to have it working.

We will be picking Lightroom 3 up on Friday, so Ron downloaded the trial version, and gave Robin the Lightroom 2 disc(s) to install it on his Mac.  Robin is working on a big project for a contest on a Games Workshop fan website (Dakka Dakka), which includes taking lots of pictures, and Lightroom is better than Photobooth, or whatever the native Mac photo app is called.

Side Porch

As reported over on G+, we are finally making progess on the side porch.  Last week the foundation holes were inspected and approved, and today we poured concrete.  We were done before lunchtime so Ron went in to work, but I stayed home with a tummy that’s been doing flip-flops since probably 4-ish this morning.

Next weekend we should be able to get the framing up, after which we need another inspection, before the actual decking goes on.

Otter Necessities

I’ve actually been posting on the Otter Blog again.  You might guess that this is because I’m actually working on Otter stuff again, and you’d be right.  I’ll probably go natter there next.

Dogs

Not sure what we’re going to do with Eowyn during the day.  Last school year even though she couldn’t make it through the day she could usually push her blanket to the other end of the crate and stay clean (she’s got a really big crate).  But we still had some accidents that required bathing.  Unfortunately, as she continues to go downhill we really don’t like the idea of putting her in the bathtub and the rodeo and falls that ensue, and I’m afraid she’s going to have a harder time staying clean.

Frail and inconvenient are not sufficient reasons for euthanasia.

I looked on-line at prices for the doggie daycare place just down NW Highway.  Er, no.  Well over what I paid for Robin’s daycare, even as a baby.

I’m thinking that once the side porch is done we’ll get a couple more baby gates and let her stay in the kitchen.  It still isn’t perfect – she sometimes needs help getting up steps, although the 3-5 steps up into the house usually are easier for her than getting all the way upstairs.  If nothing else, it will make me keep the kitchen cleaner.

Housekeeping

I think everything MuseCon related has been put away at this point.  And I know Robin vacuumed the living room last week, but it’s hard to tell.

The dishes are being reasonably kept up with, but the top of the stove needs help.  At the moment, however, the stovetop is in use so that won’t be happening at the moment.

Entertainment

Ron picked up “Despicable Me” a week or so ago.  Much fun!  Now I want some little yellow minions! I’ll even feed them bananas and bapples.

We also found two Poirot sets we mostly didn’t have – one included “Murder on the Orient Express” which we do have, but the price for the other two longish (TV-movie length?) episodes was worth it.

Robin put the live-action “George of the Jungle” on a little bit ago. At least he doesn’t get hyper when he watches it any more.