Monday, October 31, 2011

Facebook, I Really Want to Dislike This!

One of my major frustrations with Facebook, is that there is no way to contact them directly. When I had the annoyance of my house listed as a location, there was only a report box, and no listing of department emails or live chat or even a way to Tweet them. (OTOH, I had a Twitter question, posted an @Twitter on their feed and had an answer in 20 minutes.)

Yeah, so that lack of direct contact is annoying, but most of the time, it's not a big deal.

The latest dislike, the one you may not have noticed is that in the last two weeks, is that every post you make, or picture you place on your wall now has a location on it. Last week, I posted a picture of my new chair, and it took four tries and about twenty minutes on my phone and computer to finally post a picture that didn't have that 'near Tampa' when I was at school or 'near mytown' when I was at home. I hadn't even noticed it until my ex-husband's sister posted on my wall and sent me a message to remove the location. (One of the many reasons I adore Mary-she has my back on that front.)

So, after fiddling around with the new IOS settings on the 4S, which are different from the previous IOS settings, I finally got the location services on the phone, camera and Facebook changed (as opposed to the old IOS, where you only had to shut off one thing). The Mac was a different story.

Ed discovered that when you upload a picture, there was a little 'x' underneath the browse box, located next to the location, and with that, I clicked it and my location disappeared from my pictures. My general posts didn't have locations. Okay, we're good.

Until today.

I posted something this evening about Halloween candy and didn't realize that Facebook reverted back to placing my location on my posts. Then I looked at everything else I posted today and surprise, they all list a location, after I'd specifically deselected it.

In searching Facebook for a fix to the initial discovery, all of their information talked about 'show all your friends where you're posting from' as a positive enhancement to the Facebook 'experience.' What gets me is that, once again, something that affects privacy concerns was rolled out without any announcement or a page to show you how to opt out of this 'great benefit'-the user has to do that on their own.

So, I am adding pictures of what there is and how you can remove them from the Apple IOS 5 phones and on your Mac running Firefox. If you're running a Windows based machine and/or another browser, I can't speak to how you can remove your location from your posts, but I'd hazard a guess that it is somewhat similar process.
Next to your city (on the bottom), hover your mouse and a 'X' will appear. Click it to remove location.

Once you've done this, you'll notice there is no city listed. However, knowing Facebook, you'll need to check this regularly to ensure they haven't changed your settings with one of their 'upgrades'!When you select 'Settings' on the iPhone 4S, this is the screen you will see. Touch the 'Location Services' bar to get to the screen that allows you to change things. (Or you can completely shut off locations, but I like allowing some apps to know where I am)

Now, to fully remove my location from my pictures, I deselected location from both camera and Facebook. I'm not taking any chances...

And Facebook, you need to understand, when you add features that can affect privacy concerns of your users, first announce it, and provide an easy way to opt out of the feature. You know, since your service does not provide a way to directly contact anyone who can fix these issues.

That said: if you have a direct contact resource, please, please, please, write a comment and share it with others! If we had that option, I'm sure there are many of us who would tell them we dislike this feature.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breaking Tradition

For a while, I've had this nagging urge to do something different for Thanksgiving. Really, the urge was to get the hell out of Dodge, but I knew that wasn't feasible with Ed's work schedule. Still, the voice in my head was telling me to go away for the day.

It wasn't until a friend asked what culinary delights I was planning to prepare for Thanksgiving that I put my finger on it. His comment was 'but you LOVE to cook!', along with some comments about the things I'd prepared last year.

Ding ding ding, we have arrived at the reason why I want to do something different. Last Thanksgiving was a fiasco and I want to erase that memory. Spending the whole day cooking, only to schlep it to Jane's apartment (because she refused to come here), only to get there and find no surface to put the food upon, let alone eat, was frustrating.

Let's just say that all day cooking marathons take a lot out of me, what with all that standing. To have to clean off tables to put food down, then a coffee table so the kids had someplace to put their plates, then wash plates so we adults could eat soured my feelings of gratitude for family.

There were other events of that day, the last we'd spend as a family with Jane outside a hospital, that I want to erase. I want a do-over, and since we won't get one of those, I want a holiday so outside traditions so that the enjoyment of the day can be restored.

Thing is, I have no idea where to begin on going somewhere for a holiday meal! A coworker suggested a very nice country club buffet about 45 minutes away, and she is a person who I can trust to steer me right on fine dining. However, I'm wondering if there is something closer to home that measures up. We had a fine meal years ago at the Branch Ranch, over in Plant City, but the restaurant has since closed down.

At least I've got four weeks to figure out a different holiday for us.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red, Red Wine-The Shellac Edition

As much as I love Shellac's new Hotski to Tchotchke, it would be bad to wear it all the time. I'd be bored. So, the current plan is to switch back and forth between another color that that awesome, awesome teal metallic.

Yesterday, I went in, and for the first time, had to peruse the colors Katie has to decide, which is when she pulled out the layering effects samples to give me more options.

The first one was a winner. It's Decadence on the bottom and Rock Royalty on top. It looks like a glass of burgundy or merlot and has such a rich shade that stands out. I love the look-and the fact that I am not hiding my nails anymore. (The only down spot is the one torn nail that popped up, despite an ample coating of nail glue.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

The King and His Throne

My chaise was delivered Wednesday afternoon. I'm looking forward to studying in a seat that elevates my leg and supports my neck and shoulders. Now I'm on the hunt for something like a hospital patient table to use when I'm studying and have the books and laptop at the same time.

In 48 hours, Scamp seems to have the idea that we bought this lovely huge chaise as HIS chair. I woke up the morning after it was delivered to find him laying on it. Once he saw that I was watching, he rolled on his back to show his belly in the 'aren't I the cutest cat ever?' pose. (Good thing I selected 'Scamp' as the color of this thing!)

Tonight, after coming home from being out, he was splayed on the chair and got off to greet us. He shot laser eyes at me as I got myself situated in my lovely new seat. As if I was stealing his throne.

Do I need to find a cat-sized version of this thing for him?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feel the Burn

A day later and a lot stiffer.

I did too much, though at the time, it didn't seem too bad. At least I'm not in as much pain as doing an aerobics class or weight training.

It just tells me my body wants me to move, because when I keep moving it, it doesn't hurt.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I think I've mentioned in the past that I work as a secret shopper for a small company. (No, not one of those that fill your inbox with spam, a local enterprise that's been around for a long time.) Most of the shops I perform are observations at bars and restaurants, but sometimes I get sent to check out seminars and well, very occasionally, I am asked to 'shop' a fitness chain.

Yeah, I know. Me + Fitness Chain = epic fail.

The shops are as a prospective member, so it's not like I'm trying to fake the ability to do a Zumba workout or take a spinning class. More like, I go do some calisthenics in the pool, talk to some people, take a look around and write up a report.

Anyway, they tend to call me in a pinch to do shops, especially when it's the end of the month and reports are due and no one else has taken the job. Which is how, every couple three months or so, I'm asked to pinch hit a location. That's what happened this week.

This one, though, required participating in a class, and well, there was only one class that I have medical clearance to attend, yoga. So for the first time tonight, I participated in a yoga class.

I went into it, fully expecting to wash out in about 10 minutes. I am no longer flexible, my body doesn't move the way it should and well, I hurt most of the time. My balance, an important component of yoga, is pretty crappy on a good day.

The first fifteen minutes were torture. It was all standing, with much of the time spent putting 90% of our weight on the heel of one foot. The rest of the exercise was fine, but the feet were screaming. In the middle section, I saw an opportunity to sit and still do the upper body portion-so I did and still got a decent amount of stretch out of it all.

Then somehow, I don't know exactly HOW, the hour was up. Maybe someone played with the hands of the clock when I wasn't looking, because the last thing I knew, we were 25 minute in and I blinked and the instructor thanked us for coming.

Maybe because I went into it expecting to do poorly, I surprised myself. While I am not as limber as I once was, I still was able to keep pace on everything. I never got out of breath or so far into pain that I had to leave. Modifying the tree pose and doing floor work isn't bad for my first time ever class.

And now, I'm trying to figure out how I can get back, because if I could keep pace as an out of shape, balance and flexibility challenged person, what can happen if I keep going?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Love Siri

When they came out with the iPhone 4 almost two years ago, I made fun of the FaceTime app. Then I ate crow when I got the iPad and found the app was actually more useful than the insipid commercials for it when the phone was launched. (Let me tell you, it has helped Chef's sanity while Ed's been in the hospital.)

Anyway, one of the features touted with the iPhone 4S was Siri, a voice activated 'assistant' that fortunately, escaped the dumb commercial route. However, I really didn't play with 'her' until someone mentioned online that you get some interesting responses to the question "Where can I hide a body?" Let's just say that it's pretty funny, along with asking Siri how she likes living in my phone, what her age is and anything else that implies that Siri is human.

Well, over the past couple of days, I've really used Siri for 'her' intended purposes and I am really pleased with her skills at understanding speech and the AI 'she' uses. (I wish I could use the voice packs like they do with the various GPS devices, because I'd love Siri to sound like Darth Vader).

For instance, I put the phone to my ear and tell Siri to call Ed-and then I have him on the phone. A text comes to me while I'm driving and I can tell Siri "read me the new text message" and she does, then asks if I'd like to reply. So far, the replies I've dictated have been spot on.

Ed had asked me if I'd used the turn-by-turn navigation that Siri provides, but that's probably one feature I *don't* need. That said, Siri has proven to be an excellent addition to the iPhone.

Now, if only they'd offer Siri for the iPad, because there are plenty of uses for 'her' on that device. Hopefully soon, Siri will pack her bags for the thinner, but bigger quarters of an iPad 2.

I'll be waiting for her tell me where to hide a body.

Monday, October 24, 2011


The term 'snowflake' has been around for several years, but some people I know haven't heard the expression. Usually it's accompanied by special, or 'speshul snowflake.' The term refers to a child who is so unique that mom or dad must pave the way for the child to go through life. It is not a compliment.

As an example, the parent of a snowflake might call the teacher and say "Suzie is already burdened with homework in Mrs. Jone's class for a whole half hour each night, can you please reduce the amount of homework you send home?" Mind you, Suzie is a 7th grader and each subject should have homework every night.

You get the picture, right?

Now, imagine a college student's mom or dad making their appointments OR making appointments themselves to speak to professors or academic advisors. Yep, it happens, and far more than you would think. Mommy calls and says "Suzie needs to come see her advisor, but I'm at work until 4:30-can we have an appoinment for 5:00?"

This is not a 12 year old 7th grader, but a 20-21 year old upper classman we're talking about. There are enough of them that one has to worry what the workforce will look like in twenty years!

Though, I have to say, I am so glad that my mom and dad raised Giggles and I (mom's #7 and #8 child) to be self sufficient at a very young age. Some examples:

I learned to cook starting at 3, and made dinner nightly by the time I was 12.
I had chores like drying dishes (6), washing dishes (8), doing my own laundry (7-ish), cleaning the living room, raking leaves, mowing the lawn and shoveling snow while still in elementary school.

When I started going to the orthodontist at 10, part of the reason why we chose one locally is so that I could ride my bike to his office, which I did every month and made my appointments. (There were quite a few bikes outside his office, btw.)

When my wrist started acting up at 14, my dad took me to several doctors. The first one we saw was at a hospital that was 7 miles away. The follow up appointment conflicted with my dad's own appointment in Manhattan with an oncologist. I figured out the bus route (no Internet back then) and took two buses to get there, and then back to school.

By the time I started college, my parents had paved the way for me to chose the school, get myself there, get a job myself and do all the things a responsible adult should do.

I sometimes feel like I'm letting my kids down by doing the things that I do, but then I look at these snowflakes and realize that while I do a lot more for my kids than my parents did for me (partly because times are different), there are many more things that my 12 and 15 year old do for themselves that more than a few college juniors do not.

It's a shame that while I thanked my Mom and Dad for the things they did, I don't think I ever thanked them enough for raising us to be self-sufficient by the time we finished high school. As I look a the impending snowstorm of special snowflakes, I'm so grateful that I was handed a shovel early on and shown how to clear the path full of snow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lessons in Letting My Son Use the Computer

He likes Mangas. He likes Pokemon sites.

He doesn't get the fact that people build malware into many of these sites. They look fine to him. Nevermind the fact that Ed and I tell him over and over that he cannot download anything, that we should probably check out each new site to determine its safety.

The Toshiba is still my laptop, for the rare occasion that I need to use software for class that doesn't work on a Mac. Like now, for instance-my final project uses Articulate and Atlas.ti, two programs that are only available for PC. I need to do screen caps tomorrow for the group project storyboard.

Gameteen has been complaining for a little over a week that he doesn't want to leave the laptop, because it will shut down. Ed and I both told him we need to look at the machine, as this is a sign of a virus or malware. He refused. Tonight, he didn't want to give it to me when it did this again, he was upset and said I'd probably be mad at the sites he's been using.

This tells me he downloaded something.

Whatever he downloaded, it shut the machine down. I'm trying to restore from a previous version, but I'm 25 minutes in and it's still trying to repair.

I'm thinking NetNanny goes on the machine before he gets to use it again, because he disobeyed the rule of no downloading.

I saw a 60 Minutes segment tonight on Autism and iPads. It was interesting, in that there are studies that parallel what I wish to explore with computer based curriculum. For a moment, I thought that perhaps getting him an iPad would be good, because he'd be less likely to damage that, and the proliferation of apps to help him would be beneficial.

We shall see, because I'm not sure whether the money I'd use for that might have to go into repairing the Toshiba.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011


Because this has been one tough week.

I'm so fried, I can't even think of anything good to post. My thoughts center around getting my head and pillow velcroed together as soon as possible. Just as soon as I get the cat relocated off my legs.

He lays on my bags to ensure I don't escape, failing to realize that as soon as I stand up, he's off like a shot, trying to get out onto the lanai. So, he started a new thing of laying on my feet. He ends up there for about 20-30 minutes.

He needs to move...

Thursday, October 20, 2011


My family has been doing something for several months now that it's assumed that we'll always do this. Game Teen's doctor's office is in Tampa, not five minutes away from an amazing German restaurant, Mr. Dunderbak's. We like German food, heck, we even enjoy the traditional German festhaus music and seating.

It's gotten to the point that I think the kids are conditioned that if we're going to the doctor, they're getting spaetzle, bratwurst, jaegerschnitzel or sauerbraten. It just is. Several weeks ago, Ed even asked if Game Teen's appointment was this month, because he couldn't wait to go during Octoberfest.

Alas, Ed's in the hospital and will probably be there through the weekend. The kids will likely ask to go, but it will feel weird to be there and not have someone to help me eat all the German delicacies.

I wonder if I can talk the kids into something else tomorrow and save the trip over there until Ed's able to join us?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No Thank You!

I've got enough going on with crazy idiots flooding my mailbox, a rough semester, sick kids, and a husband who is really sick without having more thrills.

My plate is kind of full on thrilling stuff right now, let me tell you.

Anyone want to take this fortune off my hands?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


So, I have had a couple of extremely stressful days, and will see at least a few more. Which is probably why I came home from class tonight and completely forgot about the batch of chili I need to make for work.

Tomorrow morning.

Guess I'm not going to sleep anytime soon, and this is probably the first night in the past three where I am actually tired around midnight!

Monday, October 17, 2011


Today would have been Mom's 80th birthday.

I'm sure it would have been a day of celebrating, as she loved to make a big deal of other's birthdays. I would have enjoyed making sure that her party was just as much fun as the ones she put together for others.

Miss you mom. Every day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Down Side to Auto Racing

Many times over the years, I've mentioned how much my other half loves auto racing. Modify that to anything with wheels and an engine will be watched if they're broadcasting it on television. (that modification is needed because I ended up watching lawnmower racing with him one time.)

As a result of this passion of his, I've become more educated about the motorsports than the average wife. I know the drivers, usually the series they drive for, can probably tell you if they've won a race or a championship, can identify their voices when they're being interviewed (from the other room) and just generally 'get' his love for the sports.

Today, we had to go somewhere, but he was watching the start of the final IndyCar race of the season. The final race, as I commented to Ed, can sometimes be boring, especially if the championship has already been determined, but this was going to be down to the wire, what with Dario Franchitti and Will Power (a name that always makes me think of Sky High) separated by the thinnest of margins.

In the pre-race coverage, they showed Dan Wheldon and mentioned that the previous Indy Car champion stood to win a cool five million if he came from starting last to actually win the race. The fact that this could even be considered a possibility says something of the man's skill.

The race started and not very far in, while I'm surfing the web, I hear the intake of breath from Ed, the sign that things are not good on the television. It is what is known as 'the big one' in racing parlance, and those are especially scary in open wheel racing, because the driver's head is out in the air, and debris doesn't hit a windshield, it hits the driver. Two cars are on fire.

I worried about one of those drivers, because it looked like he was having a hard time getting out of the cockpit, but he was okay. The replays from in-car cameras were scary, the debris on the track looked like several cars exploded and the red flag thrown. It was going to take a while to clean up this mess.

Then, we see a car on the track and it's got a yellow tarp on it. This is not a good sign. In open wheel racing, where you can see the driver, the need to cover the car signifies that someone is severely injured, possibly dead. We didn't know which car it was and the announcers weren't saying. Not good.

Then, they start talking about who has been released from the infield care center and these drivers are getting interviewed. The word at this time is that Dan Wheldon, the guy in last place, is among the injured. They show Will Power getting onto a golf cart. He's fine, his car is toast and Dario Franchitti is determined the champion, but the mood is somber, all the competitors worried about their colleagues.

One of the drivers comes out of infield care and as I'm saying to Ed that everyone is very careful about what they say, and it's rough to be in that situation, knowing what happening inside and having to hide feelings, one driver comes out and says "My prayers go out to Dan, Susie and the kids." To me, this says that if Dan survives, he won't be racing anytime soon.

Among those interviewed is Danica Patrick. She's moving over to Nascar next year, and Dan is supposed to replace her in the GoDaddy car. Danica mentioned being nervous today, but at that time, early in the interviews to fill air time, I don't think she knew what was going on. They later cut to her talking with her husband and I think the wife of the car owner. She's clearly upset, they quickly pull her under a canopy. It was at that point I think she was given the news.

Minutes later, all the drivers are called into a meeting, where they get the sad news that Dan Wheldon, airlifted to the hospital, succumbed to the injuries he sustained when his car went airborne and hit the wall in the wreck.

The race is over and the champion named, but the drivers all decide that they want to race five laps in tribute to Dan Wheldon.

It's a risk they take, getting into those cars. They all know this, but when it comes down to it, they'll get in those cars again to honor those who have died doing what they love best. And today, their sport lost a class act.

RIP, Dan Wheldon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Where Women Create at the Southern Women's Show

Last week, the lovely Loralee of Loralee's Looney Tunes (a blog I've been reading for a little over three years, thanks to Lotus) put out a request on Facebook "Is there anyone who is willing to work the social mediums in Orlando next weekend?" Get to meet this funny lady, make crafts and take pictures to post on the Internet? Heck, yeah, Count me in on that one!

Yours Truly and Loralee
Oh, right. You may not know Loralee. She's the social media manager for Where Women Create, a website and magazine for people who enjoy all manner of crafts. (Where Women Cook, the sister magazine, consistently makes me drool.) So, this request was because she wanted to get the word out about this event, which is one of the first consumer events in which they've been asked to participate.

As an attendee at more than a couple of these in the past twenty years, I think they hit it out of the ballpark with this stage. They had engaging presenters, fun crafts and (save for a couple) the presentations were absolutely FREE! Even if I had to pay to do these, it would have been worth it.

In addition to the pictures here, there are tweets available that I posted in real time (@Suzannadanna). A side bonus is that I got to know my new iPhone
very well in four hours of tweeting and Facebooking. Speaking of which, the improved antenna on the 4S is really and truly improved. Usually, convention halls are the pits for getting more than a bar of reception.

The 4S had Twitter based hiccups, and I had 3/4 bars the whole time I was inside the building. A friend called me, my son called me and I was able to take both calls and the only limitation was how loud it was in the convention center. No more "I need to stand in this exact spot, otherwise, my call will drop."

If you're going to one of the Southern Women Shows, check out the event schedule at the Where Women Create stage. I'm sure you'll find something fun to do and if you're like me, you'll soon plan to visit the local craft store the next day for supplies to start a DIY of your own.

The first presentation came from Kathy Cano-Murillo, also known as the Crafty Chica.

While we painted silk fans, Kathy told stories of craftastrophies from her life. The expert advice she shared from life experiences included: don't order a bridesmaid's dress two sizes too small, cracking an egg on the head of a news anchor is bad, and always check the sizes on shirts before you attempt to wear it on national television.

Every picture I took of Kathy had this huge smile.

The fan started off white, got spray-painted in a lavender tie dye effect, then we used black (in my case, blue) markers to paint patterns centered around a flower. Next, we colored them in and Kathy later sprayed glitter on the finished product. I was a little busy with the social media part, so I didn't get mine glitterized, but the effect looks really cool.

My fan, which I actually colored in later in the day. A must for Floridians.

Suede from season five of Project Runway (and Nicole from Simplicity Customer service) did a presentation about his fashions, many of which are now available in Simplicity fabric patterns. He worked with Simplicity because they believe in using fabric that is readily available at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's, Michaels and Hancock, but especially because they stand behind their customers.

Two people who really know sewing!

If you are stuck on a project, all you have to do is email Simplicity and Nicole or Suzanne from customer service will email you back within 48 hours. Sometimes, they've even mailed samples of projects to people who are really stuck. How many businesses will do that?

I think at this point, we were talking about the fact that Suede's shirt has Swarovski crystals on it. That he bedazzled. And he says bedazzling something really, really hurts, but that's the price you pay for fashion (and having sparkle).

Suede's designs are all about versatility. There are three looks in his Simplicity pattern collection: Edgy, Classic and Flirty. The coolest tip they shared was one skirt that had what looked like it was black piping. Nope, it was the soft side of velcro and you can make strips to add, such as a grommeted leather, ruffle, rhinestone strip, braided rope, etc.

There was a cool jacket that was done up in fleece with a detachable hood. (the purple jacket in the picture.) The suggestion was to make multiple hoods for multiple moods, then switch out the looks. Another piece of news for fabric fans-WalMart will be reintroducing fabric departments to all their stores in 2012. If yours lost theirs, it is coming back.

I was really impressed with Suede, he was friendly, approachable, and seemed very down to earth. There was great camaraderie between him and Nicole as they talked about the patterns and Simplicity's approach to them. Speaking of which, if you get one and it frustrates you, email them. They want to know-Nicole spoke of modifications they've made in the past, based on the feedback from customers. (and I'm bummed because apparently, I didn't seat my lens on the camera right and lost all the Nikon pictures of Suede and the clothing they showed us.)

The next presentation was Crocheting with Fabric. Fabric, really? I came away from the experience wanting to get a hook and some cute fabrics, so major kudos to Drew Emborsky, the Crochet Dude.

After seeing what this guy does with crochet hooks, I am most impressed!
How he got into crocheting as a full time job is probably his most frequent question. Drew is a talented artist and found the solitude of painting pet portraits too boring, so he went back to something he learned as a kid. Even more impressive to me is how in 20 minutes, he was able to guide the group in how to take three strips of fabric into this:

Okay, it's one strand, but I did this. Me, the woman who made a single 3 foot row with knitting needles back in girl scouts because I didn't know how to cast off. Oh, wait...
I am a lefty, and I was able to crochet that. Color me impressed. Once again, Where Women Create brought a presenter who was fun, engaging and approachable. While we were waiting for the presentation, another visitor and I were talking to him and he was telling us how a famous writer keeps mistaking another guy for him-even though they don't look anything alike. Too funny.

The last presentation filled up early (Drew's also had a full house), and though the description didn't get me, the packets they were giving out to do the craft did: resin rings. I have a handbag hanger that is lacquered, so it started to make sense, plus the picture on their flyer was really cute. It seriously has me thinking I need to find blank handbag hangers to make gifts for friends. See what happens to you when you come to these shows? Gifts for my friends that are not food, that's what happens. (don't worry, friends, I'll still make the peppermint bark!)

I really like the model's ring in the picture, which means I can find smaller blanks. I'll be scoping magazines for art to lift, too.

The O'Neil's, commonly known as Running with Sisters, are crafting divas. They also released a brand new book, Steampunk Chic. Kitty and Jennifer (and their sister in law, too) were sold out! Rather, they had to turn people away because they made enough kits for the 50 or seats in the Where Women Create stage area. In 25 minutes, each of us had a pretty resin ring. Resin is a quick craft, as it dries in 15 minutes of direct sunlight.

Jennifer led the presentation, while Kitty and helpers moved through the audience, providing supplies and assistance. This was a lively group all around, with table mates talking and sharing supplies.

The very talented Jennifer O'Neil
When they placed supplied on the table before the show, I wondered why I got a piece of foil. It ends up that we were asked to loosely ball it up to use as a work surface for the ring. Ingenious! They also gave out swag bags at the end, which I missed in tweeting. Next time, I'll grab some swag, then tweet. :)

Foil as a holder for a project in progress.
Instead of singing how I bless the rains down in Africa, I think I'll start singing "I glued my key to Ethiopia," but that's why I don't have a hit song and Toto does. My classmates all turned in pretty representations, which made their way outside after our activity. We were asked to come pick them up in an hour, because it was an overcast day.
You know you're looking at these and thinking how you would have paid $10 bucks at the flea market for one of these!
Terri O, who was showing off cool paper cutting techniques that would actually make me into a scrapbooker, not a scrapbook paper hoarder. :)

The next presentation was one of the few that wasn't free, but it was a great deal. Terri P took her full crowd through paper crafts with the supplied kit. Attendees paid $25., but got over $100 of supplies.

Why is it that I suddenly have the urge for grape soda and vanilla ice cream?
The bags had Purple cows on them, and this guy walked through their presentation.

Soon, my day at the show was over and I had to come home to hungry men folk, but I made sure to stop by the Where Women Create booth to look at the goodies for sale and say goodbye to Loralee. (Bonus: I got to meet Jo Packham, the woman behind all the wonderful magazines and things I saw today.)

This show is definitely on next year's list of things to do!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Phone and a Lesson

I ordered my phone last Friday and was told I'd definitely have it today. I do, but not without a bunch of questions.

See, I was at the AT&T store at 8:10 am, made my purchase and the salesperson told me it'd be shipped directly to my house job (which is why I went to the store, instead of ordering it online. Hassle free, right?

I am an avowed package stalker. I want to know exactly where my stuff is and when I can't, well, I get antsy. So, starting on Tuesday, I went onto the AT&T site, where there was no record of my order, by phone number, by receipt number, by zip code, nada. I called 611, and I was told they don't have the records, I have to call the store. The receipt gave a website, but when I entered my TWO digit order number, it obviously thought I was on crack and said "call customer service."

So, yesterday, after hearing of people checking their status and even someone getting one in hand, I called the AT&T store and was told "Oh, you won't see your phone for two weeks. They didn't anticipate the presale volume." Say what? I was there ten minutes after your stores opened on the East Coast for preorders and I have to WAIT? There were some unsure comments about being able to check status in the morning.

This morning, I call the store back. I get a nice young gentleman, and I explain that I can't check my order status, and someone told me yesterday, that despite me ordering one first thing, I wouldn't get one for two weeks. I was told they were sold out, that people had lined up at 5 in the morning. I was UP at 5am, I could have gotten my butt down there if it meant I'd have a phone.

I explained that I had washed my 3G iPhone and was using a Sony phone that doesn't even recognize Gmail as an option to set up mobile email. He suggested purchasing a phone on Ed's upgrade, then returning it when my phone arrived. Not doing that to Ed, he's out of town and would have no phone.

Realized that I might just have to suck it up, when he sensed my disappointment that I did everything I could to have my phone today and frustration with the situation, but not him. He said, let me see if we have any in the back that I can release. I told him I'd ordered a 16gig black, but I'd even take a 64gig white if it got me one today (though I really was cringing at that idea). "May I put you on hold for a few minutes?"

When he came back on the line, he said "I have your phone." I responded that I'd be there when I picked up my son from school, and then asked what we'd do when the other one showed up. He then said "No, you don't understand, I have YOUR phone. It has your name and phone number on the box."

Seems the young man who helped me last week, and the salesperson who answered the phone the day before were not aware of their SOP, that pre-ordered phones always are delivered to the store. So, about a dozen people may not have been told to come get their phones. If I'd known, I would have been there at 8am this morning. Instead, I drove right by.

And for six months or so, I'll have the cutting edge iPhone.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Good News, Bad News

The good news: My repair will be about $400 bucks.

The bad news: My transmission is most definitely in need of replacement, but my mechanic told me to get medieval on VWoA's butt, because I have complained since the car was still in the break-in period that this was a problem. The slam into 2nd is a known defect.

Seems my comment to the salesperson when I sat in the dealer's lot was accurate. I was lamenting the fact that I loved the color, but the car was automatic and said "It should be illegal for VW's to be automatic." Apparently, VW does a crappy job on them. The manual transmissions are probably the best the mechanic sees, very few problems, but without fail, if it's a VW with an automatic, he will be doing transmission work on it.

The interesting part: the average mileage for this repair is 60k. Mine just turned 130k, so I got more than double (well, about double, honestly) when this became a big problem.

I'm already fired up from other fronts, so the pit bull phone call to VWoA will be quite interesting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shift Bang

Since the day I got my Beetle, it had a quirk. When cold, it would 'slam' from first to second gear.

Every time I visited a dealer for maintenance (there have been three that have serviced my car), I brought the issue up, explaining it only does it when cold. Several times, I left my car overnight to ensure it was cold when the mechanic would take the car out through the paces. Every time, "failure to duplicate problem" would show up on my repair invoice.

Until my car went out of warranty, that is.

I've been less than thrilled with the dealership service departments locally. You can say I was spoiled by the VW dealers I went to in Maryland, but I think it may just be dealers in general nowadays. It's more about seeing how much money is on the 'payment due' line than forging a lifetime partnership with a customer. At least that's how it has felt, which is why I only go to a dealer when the mechanic a friend suggested tells me he can't do something.

So, about 6-8 months ago, that engine slam got worse. Instead of just a slight buck, it became more of a whiplash quality slam, and it'd last past the point that the cold engine light went out, which is what it used to do. Finally, the finances and time situation are working in my favor, my very busy (awesome) mechanic is available and my car is sitting outside his shop tonight.

What I like about my mechanic is that he does his research. Ed went to him with the van last month and gave him the heads up about this issue, and his comment was "not the Beetle, she LOVES that car." He gets it, he knows that for many of his customers, we learn to appreciate our cars quirks. We can describe exactly what they're doing that just is not right, and he takes the time to listen.

We get each other, so tonight, I went and did some research to hand off with my car. What I found is that many other VW Beetle owners (from 2003 to 2007, apparently) also had this transmission fault. VW has had many reports, but refuses to issue a recall around the Tiptronic transmission that is in my 2.0 automatic engine. As a result, many other owners have experienced the run around with VW of America, some spending more on a new transmission than the Edmunds or KBB price for their cars.

However, the jury is out on whether it is the transmission itself. Several reports indicated that people replaced their entire transmission, only to have the same exact problem after their dealer return the car to them as repaired. It may be the valve body, it may be a transmission cable.

All I know is, the response reported from VWoA is strangely similar to the one I got at three dealerships, almost as if they're being told by the parent company to brush off any complaints of this problem so that they don't have to deal with the NHTSA imposing a safety recall on five model years of VW Beetles. Thankfully, I have a mechanic who is not beholden to the party line at VWoA. If I'm telling him there's a problem, he will figure it out.

The sad thing in this situation is that since 1988 (except for 6 months), I have owned a VW. The lack of integrity they've displayed over this and another service issue with another known defect have lead me to the sad realization that when I do go to buy another car after I finish all this schooling, it won't be a Volkswagen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


People who know me well tend to worry when I'm quiet. I'm just not a quiet person, talking about anything and everything, contributing to class discussions and department meetings. So, when I don't do that, I don't realize that people expect it.

Tonight, I got called out by my professor during lecture-'Are you okay?' I was listening, but quiet. (Actually, I was Googling a psychologist to get a statement to go along with what he was sharing with the class). Subdued.

I made a statement about being in pain, which got a concerned look, but he went on with the lecture. I think he took quiet for not paying attention, because that's just not me.

Hoping some sleep restores some of my loquaciousness tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Is way too addicting.

I need to figure out how to pin things I find on the net, and add a button to pin here on the blog.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Dr. Evil's Cooking Show

If Dr. Evil were tasked with a cooking show, Sweet Genius would be it. This man is creepy and weird, and makes the contestants put weird combinations together.

Candied apples and wheatgrass in a chocolate round?

Salt and vinegar potato chips and brie in a frozen dessert round?

Bubblegum and rainbow carrots in a baked dessert round?

I'm still scratching my head...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

AT&T is Loving Us Right Now

I ordered the 4S yesterday. Actually, I was the first person into the AT&T store that wanted the phone, after trying unsuccessfully to purchase it online the night before (order it from the Apple Store on your iPhone-nope) and about an hour before (wouldn't let me change shipping address to my office).

Meanwhile, Chef's phone has been out of contract since April and I knew we'd get him a newer phone. We talked to visiting the AT&T store a few nights ago, but got distracted. So, I took him over this morning. My idea of a phone 'just to use our texting plan' wasn't really going to work, as the options were severely limited.

Hello, smart phone for my younger child.

Insert the lecturing about no downloading to the phone if you're not at home, stick to playing games on road trips, where if you feel the urge to browse, ask Mom or Dad for their phones with unlimited data plans. Meanwhile, I think the browsing might actually take a backseat to playing video games, because it is the phone that basically has an integrated PSP.

Otherwise known as the 12 year old boy's dream phone. So, now I have a new phone (well, hopefully it will be here Friday), we got Chef on the same contract cycle as planned and he has a Droid that plays games.

Next up, Ed's new phone. He's thinking Droid, too, but the Samsung Galaxy. I don't know when he'll actually get around to making the purchase, but I'd like it to be in this billing cycle.

So would AT&T!

(and after spending several hours browsing, I decided there wasn't an offbeat enough case to go along with the Etch A Sketch iPad case, so I went with a simple Speck case...)

Friday, October 07, 2011

Only You, Times 3

I recently won a gift certificate to an excellent Cuban restaurant, and today, I enjoyed a nice lunch with that prize (Chimichurri beef, which is really Argentinian, but the sides were most definitely Cuban). It's nice, I get to speak a little español and listen to latin pop music.

Today, though, a melody sounded very familiar, so I listened to the lyrics and realized that I was hearing in Spanish (and translating into English) was a song from an album I played to death in high school.

Solo Ti, or Only You, by Yaz.

The original:

There was an awesome a capella cover about a year later from the Flying Pickets:

But today, Enriqué Iglesias had a turn with a favorite, and now I can sing those harmonies en español!

I should see if Enriqué covered some other 80's favorites.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Car Rider Line Courtesy

One thing that has always been a puzzler for me is how the rules of the road apparently do not apply to school car rider pick up lines. This is readily apparent when I pick Game Teen up from school four days a week, and sometimes when I drop him off as well.

So, some observations and rules that maybe we can all live by:

1. It is a drop off/pick up line. This means that we do not park our cars in it to go retrieve our students. Do you park your car in the McDonald's drive through, then go into the restaurant for your food? Same principle.

2. If the parking lot is set up with angled parking spaces, please only drive your car down the lane in which it would be easy to pull into a spot. Yes, I know there are no arrows, but if you've got a school aged child, odds are good that this isn't a new concept.

3. If you'd like to have a conversation with your child's teacher, pick up time is not the time to do this. If you must, then please park your car and go into the school-let's keep the line moving.

4. You know those huge signs "DO NOT BLOCK INTERSECTION" that you see at side roads that let out onto busy streets? They're put there so people can actually turn onto the busy road. Please use that same concept for the rows of parking spaces, because some parents want to park their vehicles to accomplish number 3 above.

5. The two entrances to our campus are wide enough for two vehicles: one coming in and one going out, with a little extra on each side! Please leave enough room for someone to use the opposite side of the driveway. This happens to me nearly EVERY morning, with an offending vehicle 3/4 of the way over into the incoming portion of the driveway.

6. Recognize every other parent here in line is just like you-they want to get their child quickly and get home. Let's help each other get this done by following these simple rules.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Before Ed and I started dating, he earned the moniker "Mr. Incompatible." Most of our friends got VHS camcorder, he bought an 8mm. We all bought PCs (286s and 386s), he bought a Mac(LC II). It took a long time to realize that he had the right idea.

Quite a few years later, a group of my online friends (YaYa sisters) started getting iPods about a year after they'd come out. The more my friends talked of their iPods, it sounded like a really cool device. I wanted one, the idea of putting many of my CDs onto one portable device just seemed like a great way to kick my butt into gear on exercising again.

That Christmas, Ed bought me one. While most of my friends had Nanos, Ed got me the a big one, 30 gigs. A few months later, he confessed that he was convinced I would grow bored of this gadget and I'd proved him wrong, because my iPod went everywhere with me. After my hard drive on my HP crashed (probably from the flash MahJongg game), I even bought MahJongg and played it on my iPod, as well as uploaded some videos.

For our anniversary, he got an 80 gig. Then GameTeen asked for one, and we got him a refurbed Nano for his 5th grade graduation. Chef got a refurbed shuffle for his birthday. All was good for a while, we each had a device.

Then came the iPhones. The fine folks at Apple put everything I could want into one portable device. Anyone who would listen would hear my raves about getting emails and blogging from anywhere. In a remarkable show of restraint, I didn't get one until they'd been out almost two years. Within days, we both had one.

And so it went. Steve Jobs and the design team created products we craved. We visited the Apple stores when we happened into malls that had them, promising to clean up the drool before we left.

I added the tag 'Steve Jobs is my pusher' to my blog, because in six years, we've amassed quite a few products that were created with his guiding view of what users NEEDED as well as what they WANTED, the most recent being a pair of iPads.

On top of the wonders of Apple we've enjoyed for almost six years, Jobs had his hand in Pixar, then Disney. There seemed to be a common thing, in that Jobs tapped into people's enjoyment, whether it was two hours in a movie theatre or many hours sitting in front of their computer.

In his 56 years, he accomplished so much that others didn't dare to try.

Godspeed, Steve Jobs. Thank you for the gift of your imagination and vision. You will be missed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Apple Calling

Last month, since were in the last month of Jane's iPhone contract, I canceled service on that phone. At the time, the representative was trying to get us to keep that contract, because it had the unlimited data plan that AT&T no longer offers.

Then he realized, hey, the contract is up on ALL of these phones and did a good job at trying to talk me into upgrading to the iPhone 4. I countered with the question I'm sure all the reps have been hearing for months "When is the iPhone 5 coming out? Because I'll be really ticked if I upgraded my phone and found out a week later that the new ones were being released!" I was told 'cough cough' that because I asked, expect a new phone on October 15th.

Okay, well, he was a day late and a version short.

iPhone 4S comes out on the 14th.

Perfect timing, since I washed my phone over the weekend.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Fall Has Arrived

It is finally the time of year where we open the windows in Florida, hang out on the lanai and just enjoy sub 90 degree temperatures.

Fall always was my favorite season, but now it's because I can shut off the A/C!

Sunday, October 02, 2011


In life post My Stupid Leg (trademark pending) and the Chiari diagnosis, I've learned that to minimize my pain, I have to modify things. For instance, the wearing of the ugly but comfortable Crocs, having an ottoman under my desk at work and various other modifications.

Since returning to school, I've yet to have a comfortable studying situation. I need to keep the leg elevated, the neck and shoulder need to be supported, but achieving one was nearly impossible without irritating the other. We got ottomans to replace the coffee table and it was a 'meh' solution. So, I'd sit at the table and the neck and shoulders would get some support, but the leg would swell. My usual nook would be the couch, where the leg got the support, but the neck would be aligned poorly.

For over a year, I'd toyed with getting a chaise lounger. There had been one when I worked at Pottery Barn that was perfect, but the $1,200 price tag was not. However, this semester, in the budget, I earmarked money to get a 'study' chair that met my needs. I hadn't had the time to visit the various furniture retailers to do it.

Lately, the pain from stress we're dealing with has made it impossible for me to study. It's a vicious cycle. I hurt, so I don't study, so I stress that (on top of everything else) I can't study. It's pretty bad when I decide to take something for it and the medication does absolutely nothing (except give me an upset stomach).

Yesterday, I decided it was time to try to do something about the comfortable study chair, in the hopes that it would at least help on some level. There were four local retailers that had chairs that were possibilities, but when you're buying it to resolve pain and make sure it provides the needed support without aggravating the tender spots, sitting in them is required.

My first stop was a store that didn't have prices listed on their website. In fact, I'd emailed them in early August for a price quote and never got a response, so I wasn't optimistic. Imagine my surprise when the salesperson listened, took me to the catalog to make sure he was clear on what I was describing, had me try out the other chaise in the collection (they had one as part of a sectional, not an individual chair), then quoted me a price that fell at the low end of my intended price range.

Even better, everyone else's chairs only came in one color, but I had a choice with this one. Let's just say it will be 'Scamp' colored. Alas, it will take about four weeks for it to show up, but at least I know the relief is coming.
The coolest part? I walked out of that furniture store about 20 minutes after I walked in. That may be a record for making a furniture purchase.

I've been warning people that I will pull a Sheldon on them if they try to usurp my chair. The cat, however, will probably try to claim it when I'm not around, which is probably why I tried to get the closest color to his fur.

Saturday, October 01, 2011


Yesterday, I forgot about a milestone. It was six years ago yesterday, spurred on by a friend, that I started the blog.

Here I am, 2,000 plus posts later, writing something every day for the past three of those and if it hits 11pm without a post, I get antsy.

Thank you for reading, for (occasionally) commenting and putting up with what I have to say.

Here's to many more.