Leave it to a book to brutally rip the barely scabbed skin off the soul's wounds. Leave it to a book to shine the mirror of truth on one's life. How horrible it must be to be an author. To dare to publish things that can affect people in ways you never imagined in your wildest dreams. There's that often-pinned saying about finishing a book and nobody around you realizes that your life was just turned upside down by a few squiggles on paper. It's true. And we're usually better for having experienced it.

The Wild Road
Tonight we watched the fireflies dance in the backyard from the comfort of our bedroom window. We're all rather sunburned and tired from camping, so indoors time is A-OK for the day. Snoo was watching with me and a raccoon walked across the driveway and stopped. It was watching something, then it carefully made its way to the back of the garage. Thirty seconds later a skunk came tottering through the yard and onto the driveway. He had been eating berries that fell off the mulberry tree. The possum hasn't appeared just yet, at least not that we've noticed, but we've seen the squirrels and birds and cats this day. As they turn in for the night, the others come out to forage.

It was pretty exciting to tell Snoo about the paths the animals travel through our own backyard, and that people who take time to look around them can also see these wild roads. I hope it was as exciting for him to learn that!

Adventures in MVNO land
Who doesn't want to lower their monthly mobile phone bill? We did lower ours by switching from AT&T's contract to one of their MVNOs, Straight Talk. Unlimited talk and text, plus 3 gigs of data per phone for only $45/month/phone. Not to bad, right? Oh well that wasn't good enough for me! No, I had to try to get it even lower.

First I tried FreedomPop as an LTE hot spot with an old phone and Google Voice. Then Voice went away and became Hangouts. And FreedomPop's coverage kinda stunk for drives to another state to visit relatives. And it wasn't always LTE up here. Yeah. That got returned. Actually they sent two units and one hasn't been credited yet. Sigh.

Then I tried Ting. Okay, only $32 for the first month, but there was a lot of overlap with my old Straight Talk phone. Now this month, 4 days into the cycle, I'm at $32 already and the estimated bill will be over $60! Holy carp!

Now that Google Voice is gone, so is our Obi Hai router and our home phones. What's a girl to do? Use Chrome on the Macbook and call from the computer. That's getting old PDQ.

Oh Straight Talk, why did I ever leave you? I could talk and text as much as my chatty little heart desired when I had you. Now I'm stuck with a Sprint phone and a sucky Sprint service that barely worked when we were camping. Oh the humanity!

...thank goodness there's ebay and craigslist to offload crapola that doesn't work, and to choose some AT&T compatible stuff that will work with Straight Talk! Can't wait to go back!

Next time I try to save money, someone remind me of how much I wasted here in this little adventure of mine :|

it's snowing, the kid is asleep, so I decided take the MobileWasher I bought in December for a test run. Earlier this week I worked on FlyLady's old tried-and-true "clean the kitchen sink" routine, and it's stuck for 3 days. Oh we used to be so good with it when we were in the townhouse! We can be again. Anyway, I knew I wanted to try my hand at this big blue plunger washer, and keeping the rather deep kitchen sink empty was a prerequisite.

Fill it up 4-6" deep with water, a half teaspoon of Charlie's Soap, throw in the kitchen linens. Plunge, plunge, plunge, admire the snowfall through the kitchen window, plunge, plunge, plunge, it would be nice to listen to an audio book right about now, plunge, plunge, rinse. It wasn't too hard, but I did feel muscles in my back that I'd forgotten about. The wringing is a big fat nope. If we did this in an apartment, I'd pop for a clothes spinner.

The towels and especially the dishcloths smell clean. This is our hardest hit load and getting the dishcloths clean and nice smelling without resorting to perfume coverups is a challenge. So they are air drying, I think about 6 dishcloths, 3 towels, and 3 or 4 napkins. It will be interesting to see and smell how they do later in the day. For now they are hanging around on the chairs drying under the ceiling fan.

If this turned out to be a usual thing, say in an apartment, I'd slash the amount of kitchen linens drastically. Honestly, why do we need more than 2 or 3 washcloths and 2 or 3 towels? Now napkins, yeah, that stays at a high number. 8 at least. Keeping it at a very small weekly washing load would be the way to go.

I'd take the elevator to the basement for bed linens though!

Security Talk
Hackers are bold, and internet security has been on my mind since before the holidays. Today I changed some passwords. The hierarchy of change amused me. First up, things with a huge financial liability like credit cards, ebay, Amazon. Immediately following that, Steam.

I'm a dork!

Laptop Talk - things I like about this one, things I want for the next one
Love about this one:

  • Sturdy build quality, both Lenovos have been dropped so often yet they keep going

  • Touch control panel for mute & quiet fan mode (night time use)

  • HD display, makes movies better

  • Number pad (gotta have it for Civ and spreadsheets)

  • Discrete video card

  • HDMI port, we've played things thru to the TV off this before, 'course now with Roku we just drop it on a thumb drive....

  • VGA port, I do use this for homeschooling stuff at the church

  • Quiet keyboard, though his has a more mechanical key feel to it and I loathe the sound it makes

  • Also it's a roomy keyboard

Want for future ones:

  • Backlit keys

  • IPS display with matte or anti-glare finish. Holy cats. For real here!

  • Magnetic power cord, or at least one that doesn't have a 90 bend in it

  • SSD

  • Better speakers

  • Blu-ray drive, because really, I'm not going to rip all of those movies and sometimes we want to watch one in bed

  • USB 3.0

  • Still need a VGA out converter of some sort for the church's AV system, adapter will likely be required in the future

  • Larger touchpad, but not if it will crowd out the keyboard and give me small keys

  • I wish laptops had ergonomic keyboards :( Miss my old MS Natural.

  • Better battery life

  • Lighter weight, please, oh please.

  • 802.11 ac wifi, which of course means I'll need a new router

Much of what I do could be done at a desktop. I could have a better keyboard again (oh Microsoft Sculpt, you look so shmexy and sleek, I want to touch you, feel you, press your keys and not hear you feedback one bit, but you will be TOO SLOW for gaming! I know you will! That's why all gamers have wired keyboards but I don't want the wires, do you hear me world? Do you hear and feel my lament? Oh but the separate number pad for Civ, oh couldn't I just try it? The SLOW will be my undoing!)... well that was supposed to be a longer sentence but I interrupted my thoughts with that paragraph sized digression.

Yeah, back to where I was. I like using the computer in the Ekornes recliner. My neck doesn't like looking down and my wrists hate the angle of awkwardness for typing. So a desktop could serve me well. Way better for gaming, I could finally get that media server going, one-stop printing because I'm too cheap to re-buy printers with wireless, on and on. If I hooked up the NAS again, at least one printer can be wireless though. Also, I'd be more likely to play some tunes. Our house is too quiet. All the stereos are gone or have croaked, so the only thing we have are extremely sub-par phone and laptop speakers upstairs. There's a decent soundbar on the TV downstairs with bluetooth, but it's DOWNSTAIRS.

Could I do most computing at a desk for better ergonomics and just use the phone for other stuff? I may spend less time on the computer if I don't have a laptop. But I do have to keep one for the AV system. Well I can't finish thinking about this today. My wrists are tired of typing.

I'd probably spend a lot more money if I didn't analyze future purchases like this from every angle possible, then inside out and all over again.

Hello, 2014!
There is a blizzard outdoors, so we're inside for the day. Not that we would be out anyway, though I did see a special at IKEA. Apparently they are open. Kiddo is playing dolls, 3DS, and Magnatiles. We just finished lunch--lemon dill salmon, some veggie quinoa from Trader Joe's frozen section (meh), salad, yeast rolls, and chocolate cake.

We left Scott home yesterday and joined some friends to see Frozen at the theater. The snow started while we were inside. We ran to Target for some supplies and I kept wondering why the Out of Milk app didn't have the things I added to it the day before. Turns out I completely ignored Scott telling me that he was going to the store. Maybe I was playing Ys I. Maybe. Why do people even try talking to me while I play games? I hear nothing! Nothing! So we have way more bread than any small family can handle. And double hot dog buns.

So what are we doing thus far in 2014? Rearranging the kitchen, doing some light cleaning, cursing at our foster kittens, and I did a huge decluttering on Pinterest.

Damn. We are boring! LOLOLOLOL

The winter I lived in long underwear
This winter season is easily shaping up to be The Winter I Lived in Long Underwear. It's cold! It snowed before Halloween, which was okay I suppose, but we have had accumulation on the ground a couple times already and it's not even January. On the upswing, we have a great shot at a White Christmas.

Last year was The Winter It Snowed Every Other Day. The year before that was The Winter That Never Came.

New car for a new snowy season. Car with much more mass for a new snowy season. I'm not thrilled with the snow performance of low rolling resistance tires. It's like wearing heels in the snow--expect to slide! I'm not rushing out to buy a set of snow tires, we'll let it ride and I'll plan to be home until the roads are cleared. Side streets were no fun Sunday during the snow.

At least we have some foster kittens to keep us warm during this uncommonly bitter December. The heat is cranked to 74 and I dread our next gas bill. All the kitties are getting over a respiratory illness, so warm is best.

Break out the crayons, paints, and cocoa; it will be a stay indoors kind of winter!
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An ode to keeping my cats indoors.
Our cats are wild beasts. They relish going outside and eating grass, hiding under the deck (where wild animals live!), rolling around on the filthy driveway, then coming indoors to puke aforementioned grass. Sometimes certain cats slip away from us and go on an adventure.

We have only two cats now, the rest have lived their lives with us and died. They're buried in that great outdoors--the back yard. Sushi and Trillian tolerate each other but do the smackdown dance several times daily. They do the tail dance, rubbing against each other when canned food is involved and they sometimes show mild affection towards each other. When Trillian fell off the bannister and we thought her leg was broken, Sushi attacked Scott while he was stuffing a screaming Trillian into the cat carrier. See? She does care! But when they are outside, Trillian gets mouthy and chasey and hissy and smacky.

Two weeks ago Sushi ran off for a 2-3 hour adventure. We searched for her, called kitty kitty, talked to neighbors. I worried about a great many things. Other cats hurting her, catching an illness from the wild cats, a car killing her, being trapped in a garage. Many other things I don't care to recall. What I didn't think about was hostility from Trillian when she returned, and she did return. It took nearly a week, some nights Trillian was locked up in the basement, but they're almost back to normal. I don't know what got into Trillian. She was bad. She was mad. Now she's getting the smackdown as Sushi is reestablishing herself as the alpha cat.

There must be some other way to let the cats be wild beasts without the dangers of going outdoors.

Harry Potter and Hairy Cats
Once upon a time, we had a magazine basket in the bathroom. Yes, we did have magazines, but we also had books stashed in there. The cats rubbed their faces on it and the liner was permanently stained with Simba essence. It collected furballs and dustbunnies. When the kiddo took baths, we had to move it. Water from our hands dripped onto the books when we used the hand towel. Yet, it was useful. There was always a Bathroom Reader or two in there for diversions during well, pooping.

It was also during the time before our lives were filled with Kindles, iPhones, Androids--you know, electronics. Okay, sometimes the laptop came in the bathroom too, but that was rare. Now we take a phone with us, sometimes the 3DS. Kiddo takes the Kindle Fire to play games. I'm the only one who takes a proper Kindle to read.

Today I loaded a small storage crate with some random books to see if they will get any love in the bathroom. I've been hankering to re-read all the Harry Potter books, so I threw Sorcerer's Stone in there as well. Will I read the hard copy? My instincts say no. I can't stand packing books around. If I throw my Kindle in my purse, whatever I want to read is with me, no matter the physical size of a hard copy. And let's face it, I don't want to pack Deathly Hallows to park days.


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