Weekend Catchup

Cleaning:

Saturday Robin was a lot of help cleaning up the dining room, more natter about that and pictures on the Otter Blog. Part of that project was going through the things I’d evicted from the kitchen a week and a half before, most of which did not return to cluttering up the counters. That in turn ended up extending to going through the stash of spices and seasonings. I threw out a bunch of McCormick bottles of great age and dubious remaining flavor.

I wasn’t able to bring myself to be quite so ruthless with the stuff from Penzey’s, but I did end up with  a big pile of empty Penzey’s jars to wash, which one of these days we need to refill from the stash of things still in zippy bags.

Sunday morning we picked up the living room. It still needs a date with the vacuum cleaner, but the mess has been beaten back a bit.

In the last week my side of the bedroom has been overwhelmed with clean laundry in need of folding. What fun.

Other Natter:

Had a MuseCon meeting Sunday. When it came time to discuss how MuseCon sponsorship of the Cafe went, I think a couple people were surprised to hear Ron, Xap, and I, wearing our Capricon hats, pronounce it not a perfect success. The food was great, and several people put in amazing amounts of time and effort running the fan table, demos, etc., but there were some bugs in terms of staffing for the regular Cafe operations.

Ron and I had yesterday off. Ron spent some time in the morning and bits of time in the afternoon working on getting the shopping cart system set up for this year’s MuseCon classes. I worked on a leather project.

Van Dyke socks (toe-up) are up to the heel turn. Being sport-weight and a pattern that was fairly easy to memorize they move pretty quickly, when I’m not distracted by leather projects.

This morning Pippin stole one of the sandwiches Robin had made for his lunch. I believe the sandwich had been left, unwrapped, on the kitchen counter while Robin went upstairs for something, so I wasn’t terribly sympathetic.

I have checked out and read an e-book from the library, and have several more on a wish list on my library account. The web interface they use (Overdrive “My Media Mall”) is not the greatest, and as of last night was driving Ron around several bends and up and down trees, but at the same time free is good. I also had to install Yet Still Another E-Reader on my iThingy, which is also somewhat annoying, and sign up for an Adobe account. Ron has an Adobe account, which is what I usually use, but I thought it might cause issues to try to tie the same Adobe account to two different library cards/accounts.

Food Recap:

Friday dinner: Aloo Gobi, which in the Indian cauliflower and potato dish I referred to Friday. Rendered shocking yellow by tumeric, it was mild, and tasty. Marmaduke was over for dinner, so it ended up being a side dish with bratwurst.

Saturday dinner: Finally did the stuffed shells. Filling was ricotta and spinach, with some nutmeg. Italian-ish food without garlic just seemed so wrong, so some garlic paste also snuck in. I used Prego mushroom red sauce, which was too sweet. I stuffed the shells with a spoon, which was a mess. I should have put the filling in a big zippy bag, cut one corner off, and used it as a piping bag. But I didn’t think of that until for too late. I could have cooked the shells a bit longer before stuffing them, but they finished off in the oven OK.

Sunday dinner: Thai Brisket. The sauce had some Thai flavor, but the meat alone was just . . . brisket. Not bad, just not memorable. We also did salad, mostly ignoring the instructions of “Salad of the Day” and making our own dressings. I re-discovered that mustard oil has kick, by putting too much on my salad.  Oops. Mayonnaise helped, but I didn’t quite finish my salad.

Monday dinner: Coconut Curry with Winter Vegetables. A vegetarian curry, with winter squash, sweet potato, and I substituted potatoes for celery root, as Ron and Robin weren’t any more enthused about trying celery root than I was. We added onion, as it seemed Just Wrong not to have onion in curry. Squash was butternut instead of delicata (which is an acorn variant, I think?). Just before serving lime zest and juice were added. We used an entire 4-ounce jar of red curry paste, instead of just two teaspoons, because the red curry paste was anything but spicy. Interesting, a little sweeter than I expected, definitely more Thai flavor than the brisket. We ate it over rice, Ron and I took leftovers today.

Dinner tonight is probably chickpea curry. Stopping at the grocery store for chicken, because I don’t think I can do vegetarian two dinners plus plus the breakfast and lunch between all vegetarian. Or maybe we’ll do Thai grilled lamb salad (which I need to get lettuce for, so I’m stopping at the store either way). Yeah, we seem to have hit a south-Asian-ish streak in the recipe books, considering we’re skipping things like Tentacles ala Somebody or Other and Fancy-Schmancy Scrambled Eggs (aka Cheese Souffle – I made a cheese souffle once. Tasty scrambled eggs, but a hell of a lot of work).

Bonus Food Things:

Friday night I threw together a breakfast casserole, mostly of Capricon baking binge or Cafe leftovers: eggs (only not-leftovers), buttermilk, bacon, cheese, and bread cut into cubes, which we had Saturday morning. Usually I include onions, but that was more work than I wanted to bother with.

Sunday afternoon I made scones, with some some fairly dried out currants we’d found on the cleaning binge. Just a single batch! My right shoulder complained at me. Well, one giant scone, that we broke pieces off of and nommed. Apparently I was not scarred, other than shoulder grumpiness, by the pre-Capricon scone binge. The currants re-hydrated and the giant scone was yummy. We ate it as snack before the MuseCon meeting and as dessert in the evening.

Blech – sick

The middle of last week I came down with an Upper Respiratory Thing, aka A Cold. Blech.  Although I made it to work Thursday and Friday, I wasn’t exactly in top form. Saturday I slept in, took a nap, then we went out for dinner with Xap and the Xaplings, then to “The Pirates of Penzance” at Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre. It was much fun. Many thanks again to Xap for getting the tickets! Bits of the Modern Major General song and the Constable’s song (can’t remember the proper title) were updated, amusingly. The production was in the round, and worked really well. It was fun evening all around.

The purpose to celebrate impending graduation for Robin and X1, but Robin’s name is/was mud, grade-wise. We shall speak no more about it at this time.

Friday night I declared I wasn’t cooking (actually, I haven’t had anything to do with meal preparation since Thursday), we didn’t want pizza or thai (best delivery options), but pancackes sounded good, so we went to Walker Thingies. After that we went to the Apple Store for my birthday present and Ron’s.

Yes, this is a little early for Ron’s birthday, but it makes sense – we got iPod upgrades. We got a new 64GB iPod for Ron, so he can play with photography stuff, and I got his almost-new 16GB iPod. My not-so-new 1st generation iPod was passed on to Robin. Yes, I understand that you may be experiencing some cognitive dissonance with the grade issues (ok, we’re speaking about them again I guess), but he realizes that he’s only getting my old one as a hand-me-down, not as a “Robin gets an iPod”.

Anyway, still suffering from this cold, on Sunday I slept in, took a nap, went to bed early, and still didn’t have trouble sleeping. Yesterday I got up at the normal time, stayed home and almost but not-quite napped, and generally was a lump until Ron took me to the grocery store. Then I came home and was a lump some more.

Such excitement.

Less dopey today. In part I switched from Mucinex DM to straight Mucinex, which doesn’t have the makes-you-sleep cough suppressant, but still not fully awake.  I suspect by the time I get home tonight I’ll be back to the “lump” status.

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.

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).

This, That, Other Things, and Books

Got the MuseCon book burned to a CD this morning, Ron’s going to sneaker-net it to the printer a little later today.  Looking at our numbers we’re not going to have the pocket schedule professionally printed, we can take care of that in-house.

Been having acid reflux issues for several days now.  Usually it’s a transient thing that seems to be caused by too much of this or that in my diet (or certain NSAIDs), but I’ve had a persistent case once before.  Time to see if a couple-few days of a bland-ish diet helps, so I stopped at the grocery store and got un-exciting soup, some pre-cooked heat-and-serve long grain and wild rice, and Ritz crackers.  I probably should stay away from carbonated beverages, too.

Trying to decide what to get for dinner tonight besides mashed potatoes.  We’ve had both burgers and brats in the last few days.  There’s always chicken, but I usually liven up chicken with garlic and other spices.  Unless I go to Eurofresh or Heybeck’s, pork chops/roasts are Right Out.  Ham?  Possible.  Meat loaf shouldn’t derange my digestion, but it would take a while to cook.  Perhaps we have some suitable meat in the freezer . . . no, but Ron had planned to stop and get the stuff for Kraft mac & cheese with ground beef and cream of  ‘shroom soup (it tastes better than it sounds). That’ll do.

Wondering if part of my tummy upset is related to sinus drainage.  I think the sinus infection is pretty much gone, and that now I’m dealing with an attack of “normal” weather/seasonal allergies.

I’m definitely liking Google+.  It may be obvious, and/or trivial, but one thing is that the Circles paradigm does away with calling everyone “friends”, and acknowledges that on-line interaction with people varies depending on your relationship with them, and allows for as much or as little sorting and filtering as you want to do.

I haven’t really sat down and groomed Eowyn intensively this spring/summer, she just doesn’t have the patience for it any more.  But between quick attacks with the slicker brush and plucking the obvious tufts out she’s looking reasonably respectable.  Elrond . . . not so much.  His coat needs some attention, his sides are starting to look white, or at least light gray, from all the loose fur.

Finished the first series of “Sherlock”, which was only three episodes.  Definitely a winner.  I might re-watch the third episode, which combined “The Bruce-Partington Plans” and “The Five Orange Pips”, as I was distracted by finishing up the MuseCon book.  I’m thinking it would be fun to watch “Sherlock” episodes back-to-back with the classic Jeremy Brett episodes.  But which to watch first?

Season 4 of “Eureka” has a crossover with “Warehouse 13” and the DVD set includes the “Warehouse 13” episode. It looks like it has possibilities.  Maybe I’ll get Robin to stop at the library on his way home from school tomorrow and see if they have any “Warehouse 13” on DVD.  Or check the on-line catalog (what a novel concept!).

On the iPad I’m currently reading “Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin” by Timothy Snyder.  The Bloodlands being the area of Europe where Hitler and Stalin did a lot of their mass murders.  For instance, I had no idea of the scale of Stalin-induced famine in Ukraine pre-WWII.  Not a light book, I can only do so much of it in a day.

For contrast, I’ve been reading Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Mary Yonge on my phone.  I’m also interested strangely by the complete loopiness I expect in “JFK & UFO: Military-Industrial Conspiracy and Cover-Up from Maury Island to Dallas“, but I don’t think I can bring myself to actually, y’know, pay real money to get it. And I really hope the library hasn’t.

I had also started “The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families After World War II” by Tara Zahra, but I seem to have stalled out.  I suspect I’ll be able to pick it up again once I finish “Bloodlands”.   So far it isn’t nearly as dark as “Bloodlands”, but it they’re both dense.

I’ve apparently been on a modern history binge, in the last couple months I’ve also read:

Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure“, by Paul A. Offit, who also wrote “Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases“, which I read last year?  Early this year?  Whatever.

The Great Starvation Experiment: Ancel Keys and the Men Who Starved for Science“, by Todd Tucker

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin” by Erik Larson

The State Boys Rebellion” by Michael D’Antonio, the title of which do sucketh.  Not so much a rebellion, as change in attitudes in society, etc.; and my reading was that the State Boys had much less to do with forcing reforms from inside than the description of the book implies.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel & Bret Witter.  I don’t think I’d have complained if this one were longer, the authors covered a *lot* of ground, and they didn’t even get to Monuments Men work in Italy.  That’s another whole book the authors are working on, and which I’ll be keeping an eye out for.

and earlier this year:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million” by Daniel Mendelsohn

All of the above were on the iPhone/iPad, I just linked to Amazon for descriptions because it’s easy.  They were all good, with the exception noted about “State Boys’ Rebellion”, which was well-written, if badly-described.  Nor are most of them exactly light entertaining reading.  “The Monuments Men” is probably the most upbeat of the bunch.

Monday Again

Oh look, it’s Monday again already.

Last week was . . . a week. School happened. Dinners happened. Work happened. Dog excavation both happened and was averted. Dishes happened.

Took Eowyn to the vet to see what’s up with water consumption. Blood work and urinalysis says one kidney enzyme on the high end of normal, one slightly elevated. Get a first thing in the morning urine sample, please. And try to see how much she’s actually drinking vs. what a dog her size should go through in a day (around 10 cups). At least the vet did acknowledge the difficulty of that last one in a two-dog house. Some signs of arthritis in the back legs, but otherwise healthy for a dog her age.

Saturday afternoon Ron, Xap, and I went out to The Fold to get a bag for the Lendrum spinning wheel. I didn’t mean to buy anything else, even though some merino/bamboo had called me the last trip. But then we found a ginormous skein of yarn that said it wanted to be another pair of kilt hose for Ron. And I do mean ginormous – pound of worsted-weight yarn. (Mountain Colors Weaver’s Wool, 1450 yards/lb., I don’t remember if it had a colorway listed).  And a 4-ounce braid of merino/bamboo followed me home.

After that, I went to FedEx to pick up my order from Paradise Fibers.  I’ll have to post a picture of the crossword puzzle that came with the punis (rolls of cotton), I’m totally stuck.   The Black Welsh Mountain top is indeed coarse, but that’ll be fine for sheep puppets.  The “oatmeal” BFL is nice and soft, just like my chocolate cherry BFL roving.  Oatmeal is a good discription – not quite brown, not quite grey.  I also got a naturally sagey-green cotton roving.

After getting a pouch I was working on to a point where glue had to dry and doing some dishes, I finished spinning the second ply of a batch of the  chocolate cherry, wound it onto a bobbin, then plied and skeined it.  This one went much better, I think I had only one knot in one ply.

Then I played with cotton.  I spun one puni, then tried plying it.  Breakage and breakage and breakage.  I think, in retrospect, that I needed more twist.  I thought I was putting enough twist into it, based on what I’ve been doing for the BFL, but the cotton staple is shorter.  A lot shorter.  Yesterday I threw that first cotton skein out (which is about what I expected to do with it).  I had tried doing this hand-plying trick again, which has worked reasonably well for wool, but I’m wondering if it was also continuing to my issues.  Next time I’ll wind off onto bobbins.

Yesterday I snagged the charcoal grey pencil roving that Ron hadn’t used, and played with that.   It comes as a pair of strands, so I wound a pair of golf-ball sized balls spun without drafting, then plied them back together.  Ron hadn’t been able to successfully spin a single ply of roving, the pull on the wheel was too much for his skill level at the time.  I didn’t have that problem with the charkha, but by the time I wound it onto bobbins, I think I had it over-spun, parts of the two-ply are still twisted pretty firmly.  It came out about sport-weight, and I wanted fingering to lace-weight.   Looking at and playing with the un-spun roving, I don’t think it’s going to draft very well, so I’ll either continue with the process of splitting it into two plies for sport-weight, or spin both together and then ply for heavier yarn.

The spinning experiment with the pencil roving was after dinner.  Earlier in the day Ron, Xap, and I had gone downtown to visit a friend in the hospital.  Nice view of the lake!  On the way there I worked on the socks I started for myself out of the yarn left over from Ron’s kilt hose.  While we were at the hospital and on the way home I did the toes for my Very Loud socks (crazy zauberball, to go with my Very Loud Dress).  My leftover-kilt-hose socks are ready to be cast off and the ends darned in, but I didn’t feel like doing that last night.  Maybe tonight.

Ron was pouting that since I started my Very Loud socks, he’ll have to wait for ever and ever for another pair of kilt hose, but I pointed out that either of the next pair of kilt hose use different size needles, so maybe I’d start them before I finish my socks.  Hinting that somebody could help by winding kilt hose yarn into balls was apparently too subtle.  🙂

Ron is really liking Zinio for magazines on the iPad.  It is nice, although he’s been reading more magazines than I have.

Last week I finally read _Minight in the Garden of Good and Evil_ which was interesting.  I was poking around the Wikipedia “Southern Gothic” entry, and decided to re-try Cherie Priest.  A while back I started _Boneshaker_, but despite being nominated for Hugo and Nebulas, it just didn’t do it for me, and I stopped about halfway through.   But her Eden Moore books looked pretty good, so I gave the first one a try.  When I finished that one I went and grabbed the second and third.

The odd thing about this is that I don’t do horror any more (I used to read Stephen King before he got to big for his britches and editors stopped editing him).  Except Lovecraft, yes.  OTOH, these aren’t exactly what I tend to think of as horror, either.  They may stray over into Urban Fantasy, I suppose, but they aren’t really that, either.  But they’re good.

A while back Robin was looking at _Leviathan_, another of Cherie Priest’s, set in the same steampunk-ish milieu as _Boneshaker_, and I’d told him I’d pooped out on _Boneshaker_ (which I was reading on my phone), and he decided not to get _Leviathan_.  I told him I was enjoying her horror books, and _Boneshaker_ had been nominated for this and that, so maybe he should give it a go (in paper).  And he decided to, so if he likes it I may try again.

As Wikipedia notes in the link above, the Eden Moore books may be billed as a trilogy, but each one is a standalone story.  I’m sure it helps to get all the earlier references to things that happened in previous stories, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

After Elrond was Cruelly Tortured by being forced to only go out on a cable last week, Robin staked down some hardware cloth over the wonderful-to-dig-in spot.  Hopefully rain, time, and re-growth of grass will render that spot boring.  His nose was out of joint that Eowyn got to go for a ride to the vet’s Friday night, but Robin took him out for a run up and down the street, which probably helped.

Finally saw the new “Tron” movie.  It’s pretty good, as far as action-adventure goes.  Also saw the original, I think for the first time since it was in the theater.  Ouch.  I may be a child of the ’80’s and still like the music, but the clothes and some of the dialogue are sooooo painful.

Monday, blech

It’s a Monday. I can’t say I’m enthused.

OTOH, we did get the taxes done yesterday, e-filed, and receipt has been acknowledged by both the state and feds. I do have to copy and mail Otter’s tax forms, since as per years past I don’t feel like paying $50-100-ish for the version of Turbo Tax that will handle putting lots of zeroes in the partnership forms for me while stepping me through all the requisite questions/steps to do so.

We’ll be getting extra money back this year, as a result of choosing the high-efficiency furnace. Which I think means that the tax return should cover the repair of the exterior stair pit wall that we should have done last summer, but never arranged financing for. It may even extend to getting a patio installed to replace the back porch which we’ll have to remove to do said stair pit work.

Meanwhile, Ron finally got a much-delayed annual review and raise. It isn’t a big raise, but the retroactive money for it is going toward a miter-every-which-way chop saw. The saw is not entirely necessary for construction of a new side porch, but will make the job a lot easier. I asked Robin on Friday how plans for the new porch were going, and pointed out that the weather is finally warming up enough to start work. It would be nice to use the side door again.

Elrond seems to have caught construction fever, and has put himself in charge of excavation. He’s dug the occasional small hole over the years, but this one is special, and big. He started it Saturday afternoon, has been caught thinking about it several more times, and this morning came in with very muddy paws, from more digging around the large rock Robin put over the original hole after backfilling.

Hopefully being put in his crate, being thrown bodily into the bathtub, then getting wet all over (I gave up, for various reasons, on trying to only get his paws wet), and being kept off of the bed and couch will be enough to turn Elrond off digging. But I’m not optimistic, so he’ll be going out on the cable, which doesn’t go out as far as the hole, for a while.

Impressive lightning last night. It was flashing so much around 9 pm that I thought there was an emergency vehicle or some other strobe light out front (west). Even after looking outside and hearing what I thought was thunder, I ended up checking Weather Bug to be sure. And Mr. Courage the Cowardly Dog ended up in bed with me, I think for about half the night. Fortunately, he does share fairly well.

Found a very neat app for the iPad – Zinio, a magazine (and book) reader. We now have subscriptions to “Saveur” and “Digital Photo Pro”, and Interweave’s “Knitting Traditions”, and Ron grabbed single editions of “New Scientist” and a tea magazine. It turns out “Knitting Traditions” is a special edition of “Piecework”, this is only the second one, and IIRC the first came out about this time last year (but I didn’t dig out my print copy to check) but the cost for the single issue was the same as a 4-issue subscription. So, we’ll see if they’re going to start publishing it a little more often, or if I have 3 more years of it. 🙂 Several of the magazines we looked at were set up so that you might as well just subscribe as only get one.

There’s also desktop and iPhone version of Zinio, but not all the magazines are available for the phone. The iPad version is fairly good in terms of navigation and zooming. I’d like a simpler way to go back to the cover/first page, but it’s a minor thing. With some magazines you can choose to go to a view that’s just the text, instead of the page view, which is nice. I haven’t played much with the phone or desktop versions, so no opinions on those yet. The same account will work for the iPhone, iPad, and desktop versions. We’ve been on my phone and the iPad at the same time, it seems happy with access from multiple points at once.

I need to clean up my laptop, the hard drive is getting full (although nattering about Zinio reminded me, it’s an unrelated topic). I have a bunch of Gutenberg documents I’ve downloaded to possibly read in the future, my plan is to delete them after making a list of titles/authors. I’ll also probably get rid of a bunch of digital photos – they’re already on the drobo, I don’t need duplicate copies of all of them on my machine.

That was the weekend that was

Visit from my parents went well.  Saturday night Chere and I went to Williams-Sonoma, and a cake pan followed Chere home and then moved into my kitchen.  It’s a “pull-apart” pan that makes little hexagon cake sections, with honeycomb and bee designs on them.  W-S was selling a honey bundt cake mix with the pan, but it was a honey cake only inasmuch as it used a honey glaze.  So that didn’t follow us home.

Pulled out a chocolate bundt cake mix, haven’t made it yet, as Ron’s tummy was upset Sunday evening and yesterday.  Perhaps tonight.  Yes, chocolate honeycombs will look funny.  Ask me if I care…

Anyway, Sunday morning we all went out for breakfast, to Ace for footwarmers for Chere and looking at the Weber goodies there, and then to Eurofresh for tailgating supplies before they headed back to Evanston for game two of the Northwestern/UofM ladies’ softball series.

Sunday afternoon I took my iFruit to visit the Apple store, and it came home with a new battery, as expected.  In the afternoon I also plied the first batch of chocolate cherry yarn, then spun another two quills full on the charkha.

Ron and I were both feeling ooky yesterday, so we stayed home.  Ron did work-work, I searched for the clipboard with information I needed on it, never found it, finally found the information on-line, ranted, and finally wrote the paper that’s due tomorrow.  The missing information on my clipboard was the assignment for the paper, and the two essay questions and an extra-credit essay for tomorrow’s final.  Fortunately, they were available on-line.  Unfortunately, I remembered this morning that part of my final project is also on the clipboard.  If I don’t find it by tomorrow I’ll explain to my instructor that it’s gone missing and ask her to make a note in her grades that she did see it two weeks ago (which she did), in case it doesn’t turn up before the final project is due.  I can replace the bit that went missing, but it won’t have the appropriate scribble on it that she looks for.

By the time I finished the paper Ron suggested that perhaps I should wait and do the essay questions today and tomorrow, which would be plenty of time (since the exam is set up to allow enough time to do them then), because my rationality was in question.

I agreed, and plied my yarn.  And then after dinner last night I washed the big pile of yarn we’ve been accumulating.  I snapped the skeins before hanging them up to dry, but didn’t weight them.  And I took pictures this morning.  First up, you may remember the kinky skeins:

Even though this isn’t a great picture, I think you can see that this skein is still kinky, but not as exuberantly as before washing.  It now looks like a skein, not a floofy bracelet.

Here’s two skeins of the bluish-purple:

The upper skein is one of Ron’s, the lower is one of mine.  Ron’s is about worsted-weight, I think.

And here’s all the chocolate cherry I’ve spun so far:

My attempts to get colors to line up have somewhat fallen by the wayside as being beyond my skill at both splitting roving into equal sections, and spinning.  But I like how it’s coming out.

I think all the yarn of mine in this post is in the fingering weight neighborhood, with possible forays into light sport or laceweight.  Works for me.

This weekend I also found my stash of little bits of brightly-dyed alpaca that came home from Ron’s parents’ wrapped around some of Robin’s miniatures.  I think some of it may have bits of suri alpaca or silk blended in.  There won’t be a lot of any one color, but that’s ok, I can use it for colorwork.

I found instructions for “hand plying” on knitty.com that allow you to ply a not-too-long length of singles back on itself, kind of like working from both the outside and inside of a center-pull ball.  So I can just spin as much as I can get out of each bunch of alpaca, then make 2-ply from it, and it will come out even.

Tonight I have to sew a leather book cover together, no spinning.

Oh, I remember now, Saturday morning Ron went out to see if he could figure out why none of the colonies made it through the winter (starvation, cold, disease), and it turns out the east hive is not quite dead!  He opened the top, saw live bees, and shut it right back up.  We’re guessing the others froze, as there’s honey left.

We are liking the iPad.  Figured out that it wants a high-power USB port to charge from, which the hubs on Ron’s desktop aren’t.  But he freed up a slot on the machine.   That explains why its charger wall-wart is bigger than the iPhones’.  We’ve got it set up so that we can both check our various e-mail, facebook, and other accounts without logging each other off, which is convenient.  Managed that through setting up mail for multiple accounts, and then judicious install and setups of various apps and bookmarks in browsers.

Weekend Continues

We have an iPad!

However, we eschewed the MacFanboy-ness and did not join in the feeding frenzy for a 2nd-generation iPad. This is a 1st-generation model. Which wasn’t exactly easy to find. 16 MB (seemed to be plenty based on phone memory use), Wi-Fi only. AFIK the plan is it will live here at home most of the time.

Visit from my parents went well.

But Ron just notified me that the tub is available, Wolff I go.

This and That are Not Mutually Exclusive

I think almost every discussion I’ve seen relating to e-books has somebody popping up saying that “they will get my paper books blah blah blah cold dead hands”.

Err…WTF?  We were discussing e-book pricing.  Or which software deals with which formats.  Nobody said anything mean about paper books. What’s up with the e-book hate?  Is there some secret anti-paper cadre marauding the countryside threatening reader happiness?  I’m confused…

Look, just because I like e-books doesn’t mean I’m anti-paper.  Or that because I don’t like knitting socks with two circular needles I think everybody should use double-points.  Fuji apples and Honeycrisp apples, *and* oranges, too!