Friday, June 30, 2017

To Sum Up

It's raining again. That's bad.

It's the weekend. That's good.

And my paycheck came in today, just as it should. That's also good.

Also, I didn't lose water again today, which is good.

Though I drove home that way tonight and they're pretty clearly not done, unless it's just that they need to patch where they were working ... either way, that may be bad, but next week. Let's not borrow trouble tonight.

I'm really tired, since I had trouble getting back to sleep after a bout of loud, probably drunk people outside my window last night, which was bad. But I can sleep in tomorrow, so that's good.

Sitting here blinking sleepily at the computer. Off to do something brainless. Good night!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

An Ups and Downs Day

My day didn't get off to the most auspicious start. In a way, it started Wednesday night, when I happened to see (on Facebook) a notice I never got* about how the city was going to be working on a water main near my house on Thursday, and how, while I was not in the "your water WILL get turned off" area, I was in the "water issues may extend along these streets" area. Great! Working from home does require my plumbing to function, for sure, and I was worried about where I would go if the water went off. Not that there aren't places, but I'm a planner, and I don't like last-minute things sprung on me (understatement alert). (Spoiler: I did not lose water today. But they are working tomorrow, too, so keep those fingers crossed.)
*I guess this is the downside of trying not to obsess about always being "caught up" on Facebook: I can miss things I actually want to see. I subscribed to the blog for the city, so now I'll get these things emailed to me, hopefully.

Then there's my ankle, which I apparently aggravated by running a couple of errands last night; even though they weren't arduous, and I was wearing the ankle brace, I noticed it during the night as feeling a little funny, though not exactly painful. I was just aware of it, and it's bothered me a little today, enough that I don't think exercising is a good idea. Which, not that I exactly want to exercise, but I'm paying for the gym membership, and I hate wasting the money by not going. Mixed feelings.

Then, I went to read the newspaper in the iPad this morning, as usual, and it opened the app and offered me ... yesterday's paper. It does that once in a while; I'm sure I've mentioned that much as I respect the Globe as a newspaper, its apps are full of problems. I cursed as I turned to the small tablet, since I prefer reading the paper on the larger one, but then the app there wouldn't open at all. Great. I tried clearing the storage in the iPad version (since I have it set to clear automatically, but it doesn't), to see if that would help, and it worked on that for a while, tried to reload the app, and informed me that I needed internet access to open it. Though it was in fact connected to the internet, it wouldn't open at all. (Spoiler: It opened just fine at lunchtime, so at least I did get to read the paper eventually.)

Back to the water main work: I figured that the best-case scenario would be that the noise of the work would be annoying, but I forgot that Carlos' napping would be disturbed by the noise, and oh, can he be annoying when he wants to. He kept coming to get me, over and over (like, around a dozen times by lunch) to express his discontent with Life In General, until I was ready to kill him. He did finally sleep in the afternoon, but when they were packing up for the day, some Extremely Loud Back-Up Beeps woke him, and he was a pest again. Good thing I love him ... and that he doesn't hold a grudge when I threaten to kill him and leave his body out for the crows.
So far, all downs, right? I mean, small downs, no-big-deal downs, but enough of them to add up to annoying. Well, there was a good up: I checked my bank, and they straightened out the double-payment that had my checking account all messed up last week. They even refunded all but the first of the many charges they had assessed, without my having to ask, which is nice. And I certainly don't blame them for charging me that first one; that's on my company, and I am going to ask them to repay me for it (not that I think they will, but no harm in asking). I'm just waiting to see if I get paid on time tomorrow, because if not, we have bigger problems to focus on.

I did have to make a couple more phone calls about the situation, since my online bill paying got suspended due to all the excitement. But the Nice Young Man got it reinstated easily, it's all even still there in terms of pending payments, no problem. He did suggest that I call the bank (he works for another company, not my bank) and confirm that they are aware that the payment pull-back was a one-time deal, so that they won't retract my payment next month. So I called the bank again, and the guy there put me on hold for a while to talk to the claims department, and says I should be all set and just fine in July.

We shall see. I hope so. I also hope that I get paid tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm going to go make some tuna salad, to celebrate summer, or at least summer-ish weather, at last.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Fighting the Crabby: Early Oakland Thoughts

I'm in a bit of a mood tonight, nothing major, but after writing it on Facebook, and thinking about what I was not in the mood for (leaf-blowers, thunderstorms, exercise, and more I'm sure), I tried to come up with what I might be in the mood for.

I toyed briefly with finding a new knitting project (having a 6+-hour plane ride to look ahead to will do that to a knitter), but was rapidly overwhelmed by it--sometimes you're willing to dig through the endless possibilities and other times it's kind of, well, overwhelming--but I decided to play around with other ideas for this trip to California that my mother and I will be taking later this year, to visit my brother. I've mentioned this, yes? In passing, anyway? We're going to see him and the house he bought a few years ago, in Oakland. We visited him in San Francisco in 2014 (just before he bought), and I've visited him there many times over the years, but we only spent a little time in Oakland, so it's much less familiar to me.

We're actually not planning to do all that much--we're going to see him, after all, and the house, the garden, the cats--but we'll be going out to eat, and maybe fit some yarn store visits in there, and who knows what else. We have our flights booked from here to there (using miles! which felt like quite the achievement), but the rest is pretty much up in the air. Which is fine for now.

In terms of the yarn, I'd be happy to go back to A Verb For Keeping Warm, and Piedmont Yarn & Apparel sounds good too. I looked on Ravelry, and there's one in Berkeley called The Black Squirrel, which sounds fun, and in Alameda, there's a crafting consignment store, of all things! It's called The ReCrafting Co., and I am quite curious about it.

In non-yarn things, there's a place I came across called Barlovento Chocolates that, unsurprisingly, sounds delicious (the caramels, the marshmallows), and although this review of the "store" is from 2012, something tells me going might still  be a small adventure.

Otherwise? Well, I am open to suggestions. Restaurants? Sights? Hotels/motels that are basic/clean/in a safe area/don't cost the earth? We're not going until September, so if you think of something, pass it on!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Not Following the Modern Timeline: Florida At Last

I've noticed that, as most of my friends use social media like Facebook, they will often be putting up pictures from their vacations or wherever they are for the day, in the moment, that kind of thing. And there's nothing wrong with that, of course. But it does make me feel a little old-fashioned to be writing about my vacation days or weeks later. It's such old news by now!

But hey, I went to Florida, let me show you some of it.

It rained, a lot. The day I arrived, they ended up having something like 14 inches of rain. In one day. Which is the sort of thing that turns a lawn into a lake. (By design: they make it a low point to try to keep the flooding out of the buildings.)
There was a lot more rain while I was there, if not quite that much, and even when it wasn't raining, it was more often cloudy than sunny, but we got our moments in, eating outside when we could. (Which is a contributing factor to how I got so many bug bites, I know, but I can't resist.) (We ate so very well, I can't complain about that, either!)
And sometimes, watching others eat as well. Dive!
Taking advantage of one of those lakes.
The weather made for some dramatic skies.
I mean, really, the alligator head?
But they too are lovely in their way.
I never tire of the light on the water.
I guess it's a good thing I didn't get any sunburn, since I had the several dozen bugs bites plus a nasty bout of either a cold or (I think more likely) allergies, giving me sinus pressure and congestion that often made me cough--and really, that was enough to deal with. The bug bites are fading memories now, but the allergies are still with me, and for the love of god, when are they going to stop? (Sorry, today has been a bad day for the sinus pressure, I'm snapping at the cat and all.)

Let's finish up with a few fun photos. A shirt of my mother's:
And one she got for me:
A statue? Piece of art? Whatever you call it:
And this old car. Who ever heard of an OSCA?
I hadn't!

Finally, my welcoming committee, the day after my return:
Happy again.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sun On A Weekend

All things considered, it's been a really good weekend. The part we're not counting is going over my checkbook, given that I'm still in the red due to the little screw-up when my company paid me late; let's all bend our heads and pray that Friday's check doesn't have the same problem, okay? Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease.

But other than that? It's been good.

Yesterday Mary Ellen and I went on a small adventure, since a yarn store up north was having a trunk show, which I of course saw as an excuse for lunch at Woodmans (though who needs an excuse, right?) as well as to look at lovely yarn. And the lunch was so good, of course, and so was looking at the yarn, though none of it jumped into my hands and demanded to come home with me.

Then, since the day had been improving from the morning's rain and resultant humidity, we got cold drinks and sat in the shade outside, knitting and chatting and enjoying the breeze, and it was perfectly lovely.
Then we walked over to a nearby used bookstore that each of us had been meaning to look into, and although we didn't stay long or look thoroughly (pretty hot day, remember, and it was not 100% air conditioned), it looked like a good place to get books. Though did I buy a book? No. I bought a knitting project bag. Because of course I did. It turned out that the woman at the register both crochets and sews, and makes some bags to sell there.
I'm quite happy with it. And, as a friend pointed out, supporting local business!

I had a pretty laid-back evening. I'm still finding it odd not to have hockey to watch; the draft was this weekend, so that's it for televised hockey stuff until fall. But I watched some favorite Doctor Who episodes (Blink, The Empty Child, and The Doctor Dances, specifically), while knitting. I finished turning the heel on the sock, then went back to the shawl, which is getting close to done. And despite the Extremely Loud Party in the neighborhood, I got a decent night's sleep, eventually.

Since the sun was shining, I knew today was a day to eat lunch outside. I sat in the sun, and yes, it was hot. I was dripping sweat, in fact, though every now and again a puff of breeze would lighten things. But we've had so little sun recently that just being in it felt marvelous. I've been saying that my batteries are low, and today I was like Wall-E charging. Marvelous.

After that, I ran some errands, including getting more peas at Wilson's, which was a madhouse--or, oddly enough, the parking was a madhouse, though inside was just fine--and I've been eating them since I got home. I also got a delightful thing from the bakery, which I ate perhaps a quarter of, so there's more of that in my future. And the future is now!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Early To Bed For Me

So, yeah, I'm really tired again today, and decided to skip swimming and have a quiet evening and an early night (Carlos approves this plan). I have tomorrow afternoon off thanks to the extra hours I put in earlier this week, and that plus the weekend should (hopefully) put me right in terms of energy etc. I did go to the store last night to get the good allergy drugs, the ones you have to go to the pharmacy and show ID to get (good lord, people, it's just sudafed, what on earth are the criminals doing with it?), so the sinus pressure was better today at least.

Meanwhile, I just spent a very enjoyable dozen minutes watching this:

It's already six years since the Bruins last won the Cup! Crazy. I was disappointed this year that Nashville didn't quite pull it off, but last night Bergeron won the Selke award for the fourth time, tying with Bob Gainey for the most wins, which was very nice. The draft starts tomorrow night, and not that I expect any fireworks from the Bruins, but I'll turn the TV on for the first round in case anyone else does anything interesting.

Actually, NBCSN was showing one of the NHL Top 10 shows before the awards last night, and while I've seen them before and been only mildly interested, this one was on the Top Ten Traditions in the NHL, and it was really interesting! To a hockey fan, anyway, and is anyone else still reading this after the video?  :)  Happy Thursday to you if you are.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

All I Can Give You

On my second day in Florida, I had a bit of a sore throat, which lasted about two days but was followed by the kind of congestion hanging around the back of the throat that makes you cough, and sometimes makes you cough, and cough, and cough. It's possible it's a bug I picked up on the plane, or it might be allergies, who knows, but it hasn't really gone away--I had a cough drop in my mouth most of last night, in order to sleep--and today, whether from this bug/allergy/whatever, or from side effects of the various things I have been taking for it (none of which has helped, damn it), I am seriously dragging. Stop the sinus pressure already, please.

But I can give you something: go watch this video of street life in New York City in 1911. It's amazingly clear and sharp, and I want to watch it with an expert telling me all about everything. And the reactions of the people to the cameras! Some puzzled, suspicious, amused...

If you want a taste of it, look at the screen shots on the Boing Boing post about it. That bored girl in the chauffeured car slays me.

Or hey, here, have this. Just because it amuses me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Not That I Really Had To, No

I started writing this before my trip, but thought of finishing it tonight, when I wore my old sandals to the gym, and discovered that, first, no, they don't work with the ankle brace, and second, yeah, that bruise I picked up on my foot yesterday? The sandal hit it like a target. Ow. What a thing it is to be graceful.

I kind of wanted to say that I "had" to go shoe shopping, but of course that isn't really true. However, I did want to, since I'm wearing the ankle brace pretty often to support my twisted ankle, and want to be able to keep it on for a while; and other than sneakers and slippers, none of my shoes play nicely with it. And since neither slippers nor sneakers are, you know, a professional-looking choice, and I was planning to go into the office on the day I left for Florida, so... I went shoe shopping the weekend before my trip.

I looked at flats online, and was happy to find that DSW's website would let me search by not just type of shoe, but also by size and what's in stock at my nearest store (very handy for those of us with wide feet, who look at the vast store and then try to search for anything, anything at all, that might come in wide). I found a flat that I thought might work, but when I got there and tried them on, no, not so comfortable. I looked around a bit more, including at the clearance area, and was on my way out of the store when I passed a sandal that made me look twice.

It's from Ecco, and is called the Jab Sandal (why? who knows), and what caught my eye was that, with the toggle lacing system, it would be very flexible. After all, it's not like I want to buy shoes that will fit over the ankle brace and then be far too big once I take that off. I tried them on, and they're seriously comfortable, and have a decently grippy, not slippy sole, too. If only they weren't expensive, but you can't have everything. Like so many things, they're available and cheaper from Amazon, if I decide I need another pair.

Meanwhile, they're comfortable, they're not bad looking, and they fit. Plus I didn't notice them hitting that bruise, last night...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

To Start At the End

As usual, my mother and I had lunch at the airport on the day I left. And also as usual, there was a luxury car parked inside, for what purpose I don't really understand. Marketing, I guess? We went over to see it after we ate.
Perfectly nice looking, right? I mean, it's not an economy car, but how much could it cost?


It's a Rolls-Royce.
Having trouble with the small print? Me too. Here.
Three hundred and eighty-nine thousand eight hundred and fifty-five dollars.


And if you were wondering about the "Gas Guzzler" fee listed there, here is the full info sheet. See the gas mileage?
I know, it's a bad picture. That's 14 miles per gallon highway, 12 in city driving.

In 2017.

The rich really are very different.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

After a Great Trip, Not a Great Day

So, yeah, kind of went silent there, didn't I? Sorry about that. I had thought I might blog from Florida at least a few times, but I forget that when it's a working vacation, I want to spend all my non-work time with my mother, on the lanai, or both. And I'm not apologizing for that, of course! Pictures and stories to come.

I got home, in the door, at just before 9 last night. It was supposed to be earlier, but my flight was delayed a bit (that runway that they're working on at Logan had better be fixed mighty soon; my flight down was delayed too, to the point where instead of the hoped-for dinner at Outback, we ran into McDonalds). Carlos greeted me with VERY LOUD MEOWS, letting me know that I had been away MUCH too long. He accepted all cuddles and snuggles and scritches, and purred and drooled and shed, and did not want to be far from me while I got ready for bed. He then woke me a few times in the night, letting me know that he had left the bed and now OH WOE IS ME, I AM ALONE, WHERE DID YOU GO. Doofus.

This morning I didn't even try to work at the desk, but set myself up on the couch so he could sit with me. I managed to stick with the couch or bed most of the day, though by late afternoon I just missed the extra monitor and keyboard too much, and set it back up. I keep visiting him, but I need the real setup again (plus I am just maybe a little less sympathetic to him, after listening to him whine all day). The little laptop screen seems to shrink as time goes on.

So I was tired today, and a bit disoriented after the trip, suitcase half-emptied and mail and newspapers all over the table. Then my manager and I were discussing how the report I've been working on part of, recently, the one they haven't quite finished writing yet, is such a high priority to get done that I may do some overtime on it (well-compensated, trust me), at least once they finally turn in the last part of it already, and the cat was fussing and it's sunny out but blowing chilly in, so what I'm saying is that my mood was okay, but not great.

And then, we got an email with the subject line "Payroll" saying that hey, yeah, your pay wasn't in your accounts today, no, there was a "technical fault" and it should be there tomorrow, "apologies" and "thank you for your understanding."

Uh-huh. With all the many, many quirks this company has, pay has never been late, in the almost four years I've worked for them (in two stints), and I never seriously thought that I would have to consider that as something that could happen. So now I will be learning what my bank charges for bouncing a check, since I haven't done that before. Oh, maybe thirty years ago I did, but that was a different bank, and a long time ago. This is something I could have done without learning, certainly.

At least tomorrow is Friday. Plus, I miss my mom and Florida, but I'm back with my little looney tune. Who at one point today was sleeping with his tongue sticking out.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Always Listen to Your Mother

Some time back, my mother told me about how she had, to her own surprise, been captivated by a nature series about birds that she happened to see on TV; as she put it, she practically doesn't watch TV, and she doesn't particularly care about birds, but she just loved it. The topic came up again when she was here in April, and she asked me if I would see if it was available on DVD, so that she could see it again and could also share it with others (starting with me). I looked into it, found that it was a BBC production called Earthflight*, and yes, it's on DVD. Sometime after that, I got around to ordering it.
*That link is to the BBC page, but the Wikipedia entry has good info on each episode all on one page, if you want to know more; I found that easier than clicking around the Beeb site.
The weekend before last, I watched the first few minutes of it when I was in a bad mood; I found some of the shots of tons of birds taking off dizzying, and then the squeak of bats in one scene creeped me out, so I stopped. Fortunately, I tried again when I was in a better mood, and (although I still had to look away from the motion now and again, and I don't like the sound of bats, or starlings as it turns out) it truly is amazing. I caught up with it on non-hockey nights (yes, hockey is still going on, but it's the finals, so there's a day or two between games, of which there at most four left.)

Random thoughts:
  • Each episode looks at one geographical area (North America, Africa, etc.), and they follow a few different bird species as they move around their areas, or migrate, or sometimes just as they're interacting with animals or sea life, and wow. 
  • The photography is stunning.
  • The way some of the birds work in concert with animals on land or sea, the hazards that they face ... it's simply amazing.
  • I loved the dance of the flamingos, and also the rays doing back flips.
  • My personal squick-o-meter did not go into the red zone, though it flicked into yellow a few times. Hey, it's nature, nature can be gross.
  • And yes, you do see some birds get caught by animals, or the birds catching and eating fish, or whatever. It's a touch upsetting, but not heartrending. (On the other hand, I have completely blocked out such scenes from The March of the Penguins, as Mary Ellen reminded me, so my perspective on this may not match yours.)
  • It's narrated by David Tennant, whose voice I love, although since he didn't use his natural Scottish accent when he was Doctor Who, it is a little surprising sometimes.
  • For the American audience, you can catch certain non-American terms, which is a chance to widen your perspective on a very small scale. For instance, I didn't know that what we call "the wave" is called "the Mexican wave" elsewhere. And noting a feral cat is not your typical "moggie" is not something I'm used to hearing.
  • The final episode, a behind-the-scenes about how they got the shots they did, is fascinating.
In Conclusion:
The moral of the story is, of course, listen to your mother.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

A Phone Story

Point the first: I don't have a smart phone, I have a dumb phone, or as the nice young man at the store called it, a "texting" phone.

Point the second: Every night, I turn my cell phone ringer off, so that if it rings or beeps in the night, it won't disturb me. I used to turn it off completely*, but it annoyed me that if I got a text while it was off, it would tell me the time it was received, meaning the time I turned the phone back on, rather than the time it was sent. So I switched to just turning the sound off. And I usually remember to turn it on in the morning, once I feel awake enough to deal with it.
*Years ago, visiting my parents, I did that and forgot to turn it back on until the next afternoon, when I found three messages from a very drunk guy who thought he was calling his girlfriend. Phone, or at least volume, off at night, check.

Point the third: Just about every day, I get a call or two or three that are junk, the ones where if you answer it, a recorded voice starts telling you cheerful stupid things like that they are calling from "your credit card company" or the IRS, or it might be a live person who says hello after you already said hello, and it goes on that way, and basically, if you call me from a number I don't know, or have saved in the phone, or that comes up unavailable, I don't answer it. I will look at the phone and, seeing that it isn't a call to answer, I will touch the "silent" button so I don't have to listen to it ring.

Point the fourth: When I touch the "silent" button, it is replaced by a "ring" button in case I change my mind.

Point the fifth: One morning, when I was turning the ringer back on, I didn't realize that I only put the volume up as far as vibrate (which I don't normally use, because it's annoyingly loud). I only found that out when a call came in, and it vibrated, and I looked at it and touched the silent button. Which should have thus switched to a "vibrate" button, using logic, but someone, somewhere seems to have gotten mixed up.
Because "vibrant" does not mean the same thing.

I called myself, to be sure of what I'd seen, and had the camera to hand. Seriously? Vibrant?

Friday, June 02, 2017

Comparison Photos

There was a very pretty sunset recently, that I hurried to get pictures of before it faded. And in fact, I snapped a shot with my camera, then decided to get it with the tablet too, so I could put it right up on Instagram.

This one was taken with the camera:
And this one with the tablet:
And if I crop that to a similar orientation to the first one:
So, unsurprisingly, the camera does a better job. I like having the flexibility of the camera in the tablet, but am sometimes let down by the quality of what it produces. The price you pay, I guess. I was hoping that, since the weight of the tablet means I'm less likely to carry the camera with me on a daily basis, that it would make up for not having the camera with me, but it doesn't really. Not completely, anyway.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

There, That's Better

Not my ankle, exactly, but dealing with it. Since I twisted it, I've been periodically wrapping it in an ace bandage as part of the whole RICE thing, but that's kind of a pain to deal with, wrapping it around and around and around only to decide five minutes later that it's too tight. Plus those clips are pointy, man.

So I got an ankle brace*, and it seems to be providing better compression and support. It's easier to adjust, and the ankle seems, maybe, possibly, to be hurting less. It's also made of neoprene, aka wetsuit material, so I'll be able to wear it in the pool (which is closed this week for maintenance, but after I get back from my trip I'll try it and report back).
*I actually bought two, since according to my measuring I was between the two sizes. But the small really wasn't big enough. Anyone want a small/medium ankle brace, worn for approximately ten minutes?

Baby steps, so to speak. If the pain isn't going away fully and immediately, and I guess it won't, then improvements in dealing with it still count as improvements.