Friday, January 30, 2009

Lost and Found

Have you ever lost pictures? Sure, you get your envelope back from the developer and misplace it, or take some out to put in an album and can't find them later, or take them to someone's house to show them off and forget them, or leave them in the car, or a million other ways to lose pictures.

How about losing digital pictures (which are hard to "misplace" to begin with) IN YOUR COMPUTER?

Yes, I misplaced digital pictures in my computer. They were no longer on my camera, so I know I uploaded them to the computer, but I couldn't find them. For the life of me. And they were really special pictures too: pictures of LB's first birthday party and videos of his first steps! If I had gotten them uploaded to the online photo albums and the video blog and THEN lost them, then that's okay (which is what happened to all pictures taken in the month of May, but IT WASN'T MY FAULT - the hard drive died).

But these pictures and videos had never been uploaded and shared, and I couldn't find them.

Well, I was organizing files on my computer (because there aren't enough dirty dishes in the sink yet to warrant getting out of my chair) and I found them!! (I know, you saw that coming).

I am so glad! I mean, LB's been walking since September, and no one's seen these videos of his first steps! Let alone the minute-by-minute action shots of eating his first cupcake. So the pictures are uploaded. The videos are uploaded. And I'm just waiting for YouTube to finish processing the last video before I can update the video blog. Yay!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personality

Typealyzer.com will analyze your blog and tell you your personality type based on what you've written. Fun! Here are my results for this blog:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors, and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don't like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

This shows what parts of the brain were dominant during writing.


Their disclaimer, of course, says that writing style on a blog may have little or nothing to do with a person's self-perceived personality. This makes sense, since it's only able to analyze the things you choose to share.

Thank to Margot for sharing this!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Large Funnel

Transferring ingredients from one container to another can be messy and frustrating. Who wants to use something that was swept off the counter and dumped back in? And if it's powder and it gets wet, it's wasted. But, I haven't found a funnel that works: the bowl part is too shallow, or it's too small in diameter, or the hole at the bottom is too small to let the ingredient through.

So, I grab a sheet of paper off the printer (usually some test sheet that's destined for the trash anyway), twist it up, and voila! A perfect funnel: it's tall enough to catch all the materials, and the openings are completely adjustable - I can make the funnel bigger or smaller as I need to.




This post has been inspired by Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks In My Dryer. Check out this week's list for more great tips and tricks.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Music

Why is Christian music all mixed up? I tune to the Christian station, and I get light rock, country, rap, gospel... But if I listen to "secular" music, I can choose just country, or just light rock etc. It frustrates me because I enjoy listening to the Christian station, but I don't care for some of the music styles they play. Are there not enough Christian artists or not enough Christian listeners to separate the music into different categories? I can't imagine that's true. It feels like whoever determines what the station plays thinks that as long as the song has a good message (or the artist claims to be a "Christian" artist), it's okay to play on the Christian station. Oh, and doesn't it seem like the Christian stations play more commercials more often too? What's up with that?

My solution: Pandora

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Horsing Around

5 Minutes for Moms is hosting a photo contest of rambunctious kids. The prize is a rocking horse! I know LB would love to have a rocking horse to play with.

Here's a semi-recent picture of LB at play, taken last October. He crawled in the box all by himself and back out too. Pretty good for only having learned to walk two months before! I also took a video of it, which you can see here.

He's such a cautious little thing, this is as rambunctious as he gets! (Case in point: for his first birthday party, we put a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting in front of him. He poked it with one cute little finger. He didn't even try to pick it up, let alone taste it. So Mama had to resort to drastic measures: I picked up the cupcake and held it for him to take a bite. He did eventually get the idea.)

Head on over to 5 Minutes for Moms to enter the contest yourself!

I'd rather be cheap than green

I don't get it.
You gotta BUY these bags (plastic is free).
You gotta buy ENOUGH of them for all your groceries (because you can't mix green and plastic)
You gotta STORE them somewhere
You gotta remember to BRING them with you when you go shopping.

And then you gotta buy plastic bags for all your trash cans.

What if you shop at more than one grocery store? Maybe we have our values a little off (gas is apparently not as important to us...), but we get most of our groceries at Kroger, most of our bulk stuff and cleaning supplies at Walmart, and milk at Food Lion. (Kroger milk tastes funny to me and Walmart milk is the most expensive of the three. Plus, Food Lion sometimes runs a special where you get a "ticket" for every gallon of milk you buy, then you can redeem six tickets for a free gallon. But get this: you still get a ticket for that free one, so really you only have to buy FIVE gallons. And their milk is less expensive. And it tastes good.)

So are we supposed to buy a supply of reusable bags for EACH STORE?? And then. AND THEN! There's no discount or other incentive for using these bags!! I have to shell out money to use these special bags just because it makes me feed good about "saving the environment"??? Sorry. I just don't get it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Diaper Pail Uses

We use cloth diapers and have two diaper pails - one in LB's room (for wet diapers) and one in the bathroom (for messy diapers, because you have to drop the poop in the toilet first). The bathroom also houses the catbox. I used to use cloth liners in the diaper pails (because that's just what cloth diapering mommies DO) but realized that if I used plastic liners, the diaper pails could serve multiple purposes.

One of my chores on Thursday is getting all the trash out of the house (trash pickup on Friday). That includes changing the cat box. I don't remember exactly what I used to do, but it was messy and gross. Now, after I start a washer load for the messy diapers, the empty diaper pail becomes a trash can. I just dump all the used litter in the pail, take out the plastic bag, and put it in the garbage bin. So much easier!! Then I put a fresh plastic bag in the diaper pail and it's all ready for the next messy diaper!



This post has been inspired by Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Rocks In My Dryer. Check out this week's list for more great tips and tricks.

Running Errands

When I was in my pre-teens and teens I used to wish I had more hands. You know, two to hold the book and turn the pages and one or two to pet the cat in my lap. (Those were the days...no responsibilities, and my biggest worry was how long the cat was going to stay.) Sometimes I still wish I had more hands but for a whole different set of tasks! (I'm sure you can relate.)

I was on my way to the post office yesterday to drop off a big box and get some stamps ("Wait, Jennifer, you were running errands yesterday? On a weekday?! You NEVER get to get out of the house during the week! You're usually stuck at home with no car!" "I know, I was happy :)") Sorry, my imaginary friend had to jump in there. Anyway, I was on my way to the post office trying to figure out the logistics of getting LB AND the big box into the post office at the same time and could only imagine the trouble I was going to have.

The box wasn't heavy, but it was big and awkward and there was no way I was going to be able to carry LB and the box at the same time. Or even if I could, once I picked one of them up I wasn't going to be able to pick up the other one. So LB was going to have to walk. And I could just imagine how THAT was going to work! As little as he is, he's already got a mind of his own, and doesn't always cooperate (I'm sure you can relate.)

So I'm in the car, wishing I had more hands, KNOWING it was going to be a disaster (and therefore, something worth blogging about. I think I wrote this post 10 times yesterday) when Someone reminded me to ask for help. It was, like, "Oh yeah! I forgot about Him!" So I said a quick little prayer: "Please don't let LB get hit by a car, or kidnapped. Amen." Because, really, that was the worst that could happen. It occurred to me that although God hears us and is concerned for us, it's possible He'll let us fall on our face so we learn a lesson, especially if we're doing something particularly STUPID. Like trying to carry a large box and drag a toddler by the hand at the same time. At which point I continued writing this post in my head, because I knew it would be worth blogging about. (It did occur to me that other mothers take their children on errands, and I only have one little one to worry about, but that didn't decrease my anxiety.)

You know what, though? It was a total non-issue. Not only did LB NOT get hit by a car or kidnapped, he let me hold his hand and (get this) LEAD him in the right direction!! Our progress from the car into the post office was punctuated by frequent stops, as LB had to pause and smile at EVERY person we encountered (yes, he is a FLIRT. And the behavior is encouraged because everyone smiles back, and if they don't, he stares them down) but we made it inside, dropped off the box and got stamps, and back to the car. And LB walked the whole way. (Such a big boy!)

As we drove to Walmart (I love Walmart...) I was laughing at myself for being so anxious before. Of course God would take care of us! Why was I so worried? I figured I had wasted my time writing a blog post in my head, because there was nothing to blog about in the end. But then I realized that there was even MORE reason to write this post - God took care of us! And I have to tell EVERYONE of His goodness and faithfulness. Even such a small thing as trying to take a toddler to the post office, He cares!

I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 108:3-5 (New International Version)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Double the Refund

We have an online business for selling family and Christian board games and card games. The best time of year for us is, of course, the holiday season. Where we normally have 10-20 visitors a day (usually closer to 10...), during December we were averaging 50! One buyer purchased a $12 game and paid $70 to have it shipped to Mexico. I guess he really wanted the game.

For some reason, eBay had calculated the shipping way too high. When we calculated the shipping ourselves we determined that he had overpaid by $30. Being the good and honest sellers that we are, we refunded the excess. But it wasn't as simple as that. We travel during Christmas, every year. To three different places. All those places have internet, but one of them only has dial-up.

Don't get me wrong, I have great affection for dial-up, as that is what we had while I was in high school and I got C's on my finals one semester because I was spending so much time in AOL's chat rooms. And that's the only type of connection that was available to me when I was in France for my junior year. It worked for me and I couldn't complain. Now I'm spoiled with high-speed at home, at my in-laws', and at my parents'.

But a dial-up connection is nothing but trouble when one is trying to take care of an online business (or trying to read comics). And it was while we only had access through dial-up that I had to take care of this guy's refund.

I got the shipping process started for the game to go to Mexico, and I emailed the buyer that he had overpaid for shipping and should expect a refund, then I logged into Paypal to get the refund going. By now I had been at it for a good hour (in the cold, back room all by myself while everyone else was in the warm room with the fire), and I couldn't do anything else while waiting for pages to load except play Solitaire. Over and over and over....

I think I clicked the "refund" button, but there was no indication that anything was happening. I waited a moment, still nothing. So I clicked it again.

You know exactly what happened: I had sent the refund twice. It took 15 minutes to load, but when the transaction page came up, there it was twice: $30 and then another $30. Crud.

What could I do? There's no way to cancel a Paypal refund. Once you click that button, it's done. My only choice was to send an invoice to the buyer, try to explain what happened, and hope he sent us $30 back. And if he didn't, we'd just have to eat it. Yay for us! I wasn't too grumpy about it, I mean, it was ALL MY FAULT and I couldn't blame ANYONE ELSE. So why get grumpy? It was actually kinda humorous.

I returned to the warm room with the fire and thawed my frozen fingers while I regaled anyone who would listen with my tale of woe. This sparked a "topper session" in which each person tried to top the previous person's story with a worse one of being screwed by eBay, Paypal, or both. It was good fun. (Actually I love both eBay and Paypal, you just have to be careful)

EPILOGUE
Yay, this story has a happy ending! The buyer sent us our $30 back. Either he understood our situation and is a good and honest buyer, or he doesn't speak English well and was afraid if he didn't cooperate we wouldn't send him his game. He may not have realized that the game was already on its way and we couldn't stop it if we wanted to (we don't hold the inventory ourselves). And he gave us positive feedback, which we reciprocated, of course.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Coincidence Schmoincidence

DH witnessed a car accident this afternoon that may have been caused by one of the drivers having a seizure. One car was sitting in the left turn lane and was hit by an oncoming car that swerved into it. From where he was, DH could very clearly see that the driver of the car that swerved was having a seizure. I asked him if the guy was shaking all over or jerking about, and it occurred to me that very few people would know to even ask that kind of question! If you don't know, the only reason WE know about seizures is from LB's episode last fall. We know that God had some purpose for putting us through all of that. Was it so that DH could be in the right place at the right time today to help someone else? (Because he recognized a seizure, DH was able to tell the emergency operator that the driver was having a seizure, and the operator was able to send out the appropriate vehicles/personnel for that situation.)

I don't believe in coincidences. I believe that everything we experience is according to His will, and our trials are to prepare us for future events, in one way or another. We experienced a lot of anxiety and worry last fall, but we also gained knowledge and experience. Perhaps the emergency personnel who responded to DH's call today were that much more prepared because they knew what to expect, and we are drawn closer to God because we are reminded that He directs all our paths and are in the palm of His hand.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Global Warming: heating the world, one house at a time

LB loves to push the TV buttons and turn the machine on and off. It was on television mode this morning and we found ourselves watching the weather (just WATCHING because the sound comes through a different machine that LB isn't allowed to touch, so it was still off).

According to the picture on the screen, the outside temperature was 21 degrees. Brrr!

I looked at the thermometer we have on the outside of the sliding glass door. It said that it was almost 40 outside. What?

Then DH explained that we are losing that much heat through the glass! That's not good.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

<Insert Title Here>

I was over at a friend's house last night for a couple hours. She has three kids. One thing I noticed in particular is that she wasn't afraid to continue what she was doing even though there was a kid demanding her attention. I have a tendency to not do much in the way of chores when LB is awake because he interferes (and I only have ONE little one running around!) But then when he goes down for a nap, it's such a relief to have time to myself, that I still don't always get all my work done! So, I'm going to try a different approach: I'm going to be more productive when LB is awake (unless he's irritable or he wants to read books or play with blocks or something else with me) and then when he's napping, I can enjoy "me" time with less guilt.

<pause>

She changed her baby's diaper on her lap! She's done it before and it blows my mind. It would never occur to me to do that! I've changed LB's diaper on the floor and on an airplane seat and in the back of the car, but never in my lap. Not that the idea grosses me out (remember, I play with poop every day), but it just seems like you have less control, especially if the diaper is messy or the baby is particularly squirmy. Does she do it because she has three kids and just doesn't have the luxury of using a changing table or other surface? Are disposable diapers that much more convenient? Or are baby girls simply more compliant?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Learning From Your Children

Never trust that because your child is being quiet and you can see the top of his head over the couch that all is well. I was enjoying my coffee, surfing the internet (okay, reading blogs), and LB was quietly sitting on the couch. I should have known better!! When he got bored of whatever he was doing and I had to stop him from climbing over the couch into the forbidden computer area, I saw what had occupied him so long: he had gotten hold of a container of Vaseline and its contents are now smeared all over the couch. Eww!! I am SO grateful that we have a cover on the couch! (I was grateful before, because it's not a very pretty couch, but now I'm even more so.)

Next up on today's Parade of Daily Activities:
take a shower wash couch cover

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Movie Reviews

I'm a Jane Austen fan. I read Pride and Prejudice in high school and liked it a lot, but I didn't really count myself among the fan ranks until after we saw the movie Becoming Jane, which made me want to read all of her books. After doing so, I wanted to see the movie adaptations (mostly because I love the 1995 tv mini-series of Pride and Prejudice so much.) We subscribe to Blockbuster Online - Blockbuster's version of Netflicks. (We like Blockbuster Online better because the movies they send us in the mail act like coupons in the stores, so we get to watch twice as many movies!)

Anyway, my sister-in-law is also a Jane Austen fan (I borrowed 4 of her Jane Austen books to read) and we had promised to give her our reviews of the movie adaptations. I thought it would make a good blog post, since all the work was already done, so here it is!

The names of the books link to the Wikipedia articles, for your convenience, while the names of the movies link to their descriptions on Blockbuster.com. They will NOT open in a new window, because that takes more effort than I'm willing to exert at the moment, so I suggest you right-click and select "open link in new tab" or "open link in new window".

(WARNING: these reviews assume you've read and are somewhat familiar with the books.)

Emma
We’ve only seen one version so far: 1996 with Gwenyth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. We liked it very well. It followed the book very well except towards the end. In the book Harriet stops pining for Mr. Knightley first (like in Clueless). In the movie, Emma has to tell Harriet that she’s marrying Mr. Knightley before Harriet realizes she prefers Robert Martin. The 1996 made-for-tv adaptation is in our Blockbuster queue and there’s also a 1972 version.

Northanger Abbey
The 2007 version with Felicity Jones and JJ Field was MUCH better than the 1987 version. Let’s just say “80’s music” and leave it at that. Blockbuster does not have any other versions (at present).

Persuasion
The 1995 version with Amanda Root and CiarĂ¡n Hinds was better than the 2007 version. The newer version wasn’t too bad until the end when they had Anne running up and down the streets, Capt. Wentworth made her beg for a kiss, and then Capt. Wentworth purchased the estate from Anne’s father, which is completely impractical and would have been illegal per the laws of the time. And, I liked CiarĂ¡n Hinds' portrayal of Capt. Wentworth in the ’95 version better ;) The 1971 version is in our queue.

Sense and Sensibility
We liked both versions (1995 with Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman and 2008 with Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield). The 1995 version was better with relationships while the 2008 version was better with dialog/explanations. We love Alan Rickman’s depiction of Col. Brandon in the 1995 version; however, we like Dan Stevens’ depiction of Edward Ferrars in the 2008 version better than Hugh Grant’s. The 2008 version included the scene where John Willoughby comes to visit Marianne when she’s ill – the scene is completely missing in the 1995 version. The 1981 version is in our queue. (Although after that 80’s Northanger Abbey I have reservations about it, lol.)

Mansfield Park
We’ve only seen one version so far: 1983 with Sylvestra Le Touzel and Bernard Hepton. It followed the book extremely well, and the acting was very good. However, it felt like watching a recording of a live performance: the sound quality was horrible and some of the costumes/hairstyles were a little funny. The 1998 version is in our queue.

Pride and Prejudice
We own the 1995 tv mini-series. The 2005 Keira Knightly version is not as good as the mini-series, no contest. The 2005 version creates too big of a difference in wealth between the Bennets and Mr. Darcy/the Bingley's. So it doesn't make sense when Elizabeth refutes Lady Catherine and says that she's in the same sphere as Mr. Darcy. Also, in the 2005 version, we don't understand what Darcy sees in Elizabeth. The 1995 Elizabeth is obviously a cut above most of the other women in the movie, while there's nothing particularly special about Keira Knightley's portrayal.
There are other versions: 1940 and 1980, but the mini-series is so good (oh, and we own it) that we haven’t bothered to add the other versions to our queue.

Now that you know which versions to buy/rent and which ones to avoid, would you help me? I would like to add critical editions of Jane Austen's works to our library, but I don't know which ones to buy/ask for. If you are a Jane Austen reader and have an opinion, would you tell me which edition you like/recommend or don't like/won't recommend? A critical edition has notes through out the text explaining things that may not make sense to modern readers, and there should be some essays on the text. Thank you!!

Three Cheers for DH!

I promised DH I would write a blog post about him. Somehow I made it sound like an honor, and he was pleased. I better make sure it reads like an honor then, right?

Seriously, though, I do want to love on him a bit. DH took a disaster-in-the-making and turned it into a most delicious meal last night. I was trying to make dinner. It was a really simple meal: chicken dipped in egg and then in crushed crackers, in a baking dish at 350 degrees for 25 minutes plus a salad. Easy! We had found a foil-wrapped package of meat that looked like chicken in the freezer while cleaning it up yesterday (it keeps thawing and re-freezing, so there's a constant puddle of something no longer frozen at the bottom. REALLY frustrating.) So, I've got the egg whipped up in a bowl, a plate of crushed crackers, a greased baking dish, and the oven's preheating. I was so with it! I start trying to unwrap the foil package, but it is absolutely frozen solid. I'm sure you've tried to unwrap frozen foil. It doesn't unwrap well - it shreds. I was getting frustrated, not only by the uncooperative foil, but also by the little body that had positioned itself between me and the cabinet and was pushing me away from the counter with all its strength. At the moment that the foil shredded into little bitty pieces, LB lost his footing and bumped his head on the way down, which naturally led to tears. I lost it. I was so grumpy at DH for just sitting on the computer while I was obviously losing my sanity in the kitchen. (Never mind that he was supposed to be working) I mean, if HE were cooking dinner, I'D be looking after Little One, but when I'M cooking dinner, I'm supposed to look after Baby Boy AS WELL??

<big breath>

So DH took over cooking dinner. He put the foil package in boiling water to thaw it a bit. As he started getting the foil off, he realized that it wasn't chicken - it was pork! My mom must have wrapped it up and put in the freezer when she visited last October and we had forgotten. If it had been me, I'm not sure what I would have done, but it might have involved fast food. But not DH. He not only kept his cool, but he cooked up a most delicious stir-fry, using up some items in the freezer that may not have survived another thaw-refreeze cycle. He scrambled up the egg, put the crushed crackers in a bag in the fridge, boiled up some rice, and even threw together a sweet-and-sour sauce (ok, I helped with that. I had cooled down by then). I admit I was a little skeptical about the dinner - it didn't look particularly appetizing, mostly due to the limp and almost colorless frozen veggies. But then we sat down to eat it and I was most pleasantly surprised! I told him so and that's when I told him I'd write a blog post about his victory. I mean, when a guy succeeds at being the knight-in-shining-armor in the KITCHEN, he deserves to be extolled over all the internet, no?

Epilogue: the chicken dinner is slated for tonight, and I already have the frozen chicken breasts (which are unmistakably CHICKEN) out of the freezer and in the fridge so they'll be thawed when I start cooking. I am so with it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Cards

It's so much fun to receive Christmas cards in the mail! I love seeing pictures, especially of little ones - they grow so much! And knowing they thought of us enough to have us on their Christmas mailing list. I don't enjoy the letters quite as much - too much information about people I don't really know THAT well. I think most of those letters are written either for themselves or for grandparents. That's okay. I skim them. I like sending Christmas cards too. Our way of saying "We're thinking of you. Here's what's going on with us (just one paragraph, no more, I promise.) What's going on with you?" Yes, it costs time and money, but it's worth it.

Here's the frustrating thing though: we sent out 64 cards this year, but have only received 16, as of yesterday. That's 25%. Only a QUARTER of the people on our list have us on their lists. Why is that?? Are we sending out too many? Many of the people who receive from us but don't reciprocate are in my extended family: aunts & uncles, cousins, etc. (Both of my parents had 4 siblings, and all of them had children - that's a lot of people! We don't send to all of them, btw) (There are some on DH's side who don't send cards to us too.) We also send cards to friends from high school, both DH's and mine. Many of them don't respond either. Is it a "married thing" to send Christmas cards? Most of those friends are single. And then there are the family members we see often who don't send them to us. My mom's twin sister, for example. Every time we go to the Ranch we see Aunt Jane and her family, but we have never received a Christmas card from them. (How do I know this, you ask? Well, in the previous post you read how we catalog our movies in an Excel file. We also keep people's addresses in an Excel file, along with who we've sent Christmas cards to and who we've received them from. Duh. How else do people keep track of such essential information?? j/k) Perhaps she's trying to keep her list from getting too big, and she knows we know she loves us. It's just puzzling to me. (She sends one to my mom, btw.) Oh, and SIL! She was putting her Christmas newsletter together while she was here with us in early December. Her folks received one, but we didn't! Isn't that weird??

It doesn't really bother me. I just wish I understood why. Those who don't send out cards at all make sense - it's a universal cold shoulder (j/k!) But those who send them selectively don't make sense. Oh well. It won't really change how many I send out next year.

Keyboard 101

I spilled coffee on my keyboard yesterday morning. I would like to blame it all on DH, but he insists I take my share of the blame. I grabbed some paper towels and started cleaning up. I could see coffee down between the keys (on the lower left side, from Caps Lock to F and down to Ctrl, Start, and Alt). I used the edge of the paper towel to absorb the fluid until the towel wasn't picking up any more fluid. I felt very clever. Then DH recommended I tip the keyboard on its side. When I did, so much coffee FLOWED out of my keyboard! I was astonished. I had to get more paper towels. I suddenly didn't feel so clever.

When no more coffee was dripping out I threw away the paper towels and tried to get back to what I was doing (entering our movie collection into Excel. Yes, we are geeks. DH's entire immediate family is composed of geeks, which they are proud of, and I fit right in, much to the chagrin of my liberal arts family (j/k) (In other words, his family received B.S. degrees while my family received B.A. degrees. Not liberal as in the political spectrum) By having our movie collection in Excel, we can easily organize it by length, leading actor, director, or any other element, and choose our evening entertainment quickly and easily. DH was helping me, and he stacked too many DVD's too high, they fell, and bumped my coffee mug over. Which is why I blamed him. But he insisted that I gave the OK to stack them there and therefore the accident was my fault.)

So, we're entering information into Excel, I tried to copy something from one cell into another and my window minimized. Very strange. DH recommended I save before we lose all our work. I tried, and my window minimized. Very strange. Now, if you're not familiar with keyboard shortcuts, let me give you the missing piece to this puzzle. The shortcut for copy is Ctrl+C or Ctrl+X (Cut) and the shortcut for Save is Ctrl+S. Have you solved the mystery? The Ctrl key was not cooperating. Every time I pushed it, my window minimized. DH recommended (he's very good at giving recommendations, isn't he?) that I unplug the keyboard and let it dry. I reminded him that he has taken apart his keyboards before, couldn't he please do the same for mine?

He did:


Have you ever seen a naked keyboard before? I didn't know you could pop the keys off like that until I was dating DH. (He had taken his apart and washed the keys in the bathroom sink. Then he left the keys in a pile on the floor. If you didn't remember they were there, you were certainly reminded when you stepped on them in bare feet. Ouch!)

The picture may not be big enough for you to see well, but the keyboard is FILTHY. There's all manner of cat hair and grit, the coffee has mostly dried and turned into a gicky brown substance, and, yes, that is a paper clip on the right (between where Shift and Enter normally are).

This morning DS "helped" me clean it. All he wanted to do was play with the keys that were still attached. (We never let him play on the computer. Computers are expensive, delicate machines! Of course, we had no problem letting him play on everyone else's computer while we were on vacation. "Of course we'll fix anything he messes up! No worries!" Now he expects to play on mine. Oops.) It took me several wet q-tips, pressurized air, and a dust buster, but I finally got the coffee cleaned up and the worst of the cat hair out. Then it was time to put it together.

DH went to work this morning and took his laptop, which means I had no other keyboard to look at. My computer requires a password to log in, so I couldn't use it to help me. Do you know where all the keys go on a keyboard, without help? Not easy. I got most of it, but the parts I didn't know, I really didn't know. And I didn't want to put things in the wrong spot. As much fun as that would be as a practical joke, I didn't feel like playing it on myself. (No matter what the little plastic key says on it, it will be whatever it's SUPPOSED to be when you push it. So you could make the top row read AZERTY, but it will type QWERTY (unless you go into the software and switch it, which you can, btw)) I finally had to call DH and ask him to read the keyboard to me. The bottom row is what totally stumped me. ZXCVBNM?? Who ever came up with that crazy combination??

Actually, I've heard different theories on why our keyboards are organized the way they are. One is that it's organzied to best facilitate fast typing. Letters that we use alot are placed in easy reach, while less frequently used letters are harder to reach. This would explain why we use QWERTY, and France (for example) uses AZERTY. Other explanation I heard more recently is that it was organized in such a way as to prevent typewriter keys from hitting each other while typing and we're still using the same configuration. I suppose I could jump on Wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge) and find out, but I don't feel like it.

Suffice to say that my keyboard is working perfectly again. It's cleaner inside than it was (I didn't say spotless), the keys are all back in their proper places, and no unexpected actions occur when I push the keys.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Yay, we're back home now. It was so nice to walk into a clean house!! If I can help it, I will never leave a messy house when we go somewhere for an extended stay. We had a little extra motivation this time, having the house on the market. We had to leave the house ready in case a potential buyer came to see it. My mother-in-law keeps her house perfectly tidy (she still had some cobwebs and she never dusts, but there's no clutter.) I kind of watched her this trip, to see how she does it, and it's a constant thing. She doesn't let things sit around "to take care of later" like I do. FIL teases her about "painting the kitchen" when we're trying to get out the door, because she's always finishing up last minute stuff in the kitchen. We used to get grumpy that she'd start the dishwasher before coming over to the couch to watch a movie (we lived with them for a year), but I understand, now, why she would do that. (The dishwasher they had in their old house didn't have a timer feature, so if she didn't start it, she might forget to run it before going to bed. This new dishwasher has a timer, but she hasn't adjusted her routine.) Anyway, the lesson was to be constantly vigilant about keeping surfaces clear. As I type this, the island in our kitchen, which was perfectly cleared off when we got home, has already got clutter a foot deep on it. Hmmm. I have my work cut out for me!

Clean house aside, it was such a relief to get home! Not just because traveling with a little one is tough, but being a guest in other people's houses, sleeping in a different bed every three nights, and living out of a suitcase is tough. And our kitties are here!!! I missed them. Of course they left surprises for us, which are not pleasant, but they wouldn't be cats if they didn't, so I try not to mind too much.

Did you catch that bit about sleeping in a different bed every three nights? I'm not kidding. We were gone for 2 1/2 weeks, stayed in three different houses, and slept in 5 different beds. Glad to be home!