Thursday, June 30, 2011

Apple Goes Above and Beyond

I only touched on it briefly back in March, the experience of Mi Manzana (MacBookPro 1.0) having a taste of Riesling and rejecting it. Seriously rejecting it. I tried various tactics of drying it out, such as paper towels in a closed laptop that was stored upside down, then standing it on its end, and taking the cover off of it. Despite being quick in trying to get the liquid out, it did not work.

About a month ago, I tried turning it on and there were signs of life, and it quickly died again. Troubleshooting and noticing that the machine does get power when plugged in, I thought that perhaps it'd need a new battery.

However, I got liquid in it. My Applecare warranty doesn't cover damage of this type. So I didn't take it to the Genius bar, because I really didn't have the funds at the time to fix it (online searching brought up repair costs of at least $350.) Reports I'd read suggested keeping the mouth zipped on the source of the problem.

That didn't work for me. I couldn't come up with a story to justify my Mac going kaput to the point that I bought a new one three days later to do my school work. I couldn't explain why suddenly, my keyboard has a 'condom' on it. Not without lying and I'm not very convincing on that front.

We had occasion to be right up the street from the nearest Apple store tonight (30 miles from our house) and I suggested to Ed that I make an appointment with the Genius bar. Heck, if it's a $350 repair, that's cheaper than a whole new Mac. He's had minor Mac envy since I got the laptop. Mainly because when we started dating, he owned an LC II-he was the original Macfan in our house.

He's now the recent recipient of an iPad, so the envy isn't so great (for him, that is), but I still think that it was worth it to take the Manzana in to see what the Geniuses had to say.

When the appointment time arrived and the Genius called us to the back of the store, I was upfront. We were dealing with a lot of stress that night, Ed poured me a glass of wine, and I pulled a klutz move and knocked the wine glass onto the laptop.

What happened next surprised me. The gentleman handed me a work order to sign: and the charges to me were $0.00, when a Level 4 repair costs double what I had hoped. Even better, they're going to keep my Applecare warranty on the machine.

I am truly blown away. The expectation was that this was going to be a costly repair, but they understood that life happens (the story of our lives the past couple of years) and gave me a pass. They're even going to ship Mi Manzana directly to us after the repairs are done.

Yes, friends have laughed at how gung-ho I've been for the Apple brand since getting my iPod in 2005. I love their products. The second MacBook travels to work with me every day and I find there are things that are soooo much easier to complete on it then on the dual monitor PC sitting on my desk.

So, thanks Brandon Genius Bar. Thanks for understanding that it was an accident that was the topper to a very bad day and doing what you did. It just cemented my high opinion of the Apple brand.




Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Does Not Compute

Joyce and I, in addition to being friends for thirty (eek!) years, have something in common: we have sons on the Autism spectrum. While her son has not been officially labeled with Asperger's, he does have the catch all diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which usually is given when a child shows many signs of AS or Autism, but cannot be clearly defined as one or the other.

Anyway, sometimes having a child a few years older means that I can offer some insights to what she's experiencing, because my family has already been there, done that and has the scars to prove it. She probably will attest to the times where I was a royal pain in the ass to her, because she didn't want to face something that had to be done. (Like choosing a school for her convenience, rather than her son's newly diagnosed needs). Hey, she does the same for me-it's what friends do.

Today, though, she related an experience because she needed to vent and I had no answers, mainly because I live it, too.

One of her friend's sons was invited to spend a day at the beach with a third friend. The mothers are all friendly, knowing each other because their children all attend the same elementary school. The phone conversation was about how parent 'A' was worried that parent 'B' would not be as diligent in watching the boys while they played, it's the beach and it's important to watch the kids, make sure they don't wander off to the water alone, get enough sunscreen, etc.

Joyce admitted to the mom that no, mom 'B' won't watch your child as well as you, because that's not her son. Still, mom 'A' kept complaining and lamenting how she told her son, she'll let him go, but still, she will worry the whole time. As she listened, she grew more and more frustrated, until she finally told mom 'A' that she just couldn't listen anymore.

I get it. Boy, do I get it.

The conversation, one that so many moms have with their friends is one that Joyce and I don't have with others. Why? Our sons do not get invited out for play dates. At 15, GameTeen has NEVER been invited to someone else's house to play, hang out, etc. The last birthday party he was invited to was when he was seven and one of the other children from daycare invited all the kids at the day care to come to his party at the skating rink. Before that, a party when he was four. Other than that, nothing.

Nada. Zip. Zero. Never.

It's one of those things that as a person with Asperger's, he may never realize that this is a normal part of youth that he's missing. I do, though, and the rare occasions that I stop and think about it are frustrating. So, I try hard not to do it and move on with it. GameTeen is pretty happy with his video games, his movies and his obsession du jour, but he will never improve his social skills if he doesn't have friends to practice with.

So, I get Joyce's irritation at the situation, because I have walked that road before. It's a lonely one. The kid is fifteen and he does not have a single friend.

Alas, this time, the only answer I could come up with is one that might help me, not Joyce. I thought that perhaps GameTeen's school can provide class lists with names and phone numbers, so the moms or dads of these socially awkward kids can provide an assist with "Hey, do you want to try calling Billy to see if he'd like to come over and swim in the pool with you?" and then coach the kids through the process of making a phone call and having a simple conversation.

Yeah, I know, that sounds weird. However, to moms like Joyce, me and many others who are not Mom "A" or Mom "B", it's a sad fact of life.



Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Occupational Hazard

While my employment does not require my budding skills as an instructional technologist, the fact that I know how to use these programs does come in handy. For instance, I'm in the process of making something in Photoshop that we'll use with the client base, and the combination of Uncle Sam's 'I want YOU' and one of our staff on a sign with an appropriate message is making all of us giggle.

In meetings, we've talked about issues that crop up, and I suggest a way to work with it (basically, creating simple training materials for the clients) and one of the team wants to run with this. She asked today what programs could be used for this purpose and I ticked off the six I've used, that I've got two available on my laptop and that we can access two of the others without too much effort, through the employer server. I could see the ideas churning and hope that this means we'll be making web content soon. :)

At the same time, I'm being trained on software suites that my employer has contracted. One does not have a systematic way of learning in that the developer never created training modules for a product that is pretty elaborate. My boss asked me to block out time on her calendar for her to show me the features I should know, now that I have access (finally!). Even using my web sleuthing skills did not net much, except that I enrolled in the developer's listserv on training issues.

The other product is quite impressive. It looks like the implementation team at this corporation polled their existing customers and asked "If you could have the perfect software suite, what features would it have?" and it came up with this incredible software. The glitches thus far have been user error (and I was on the receiving end of a user error this morning, but knew exactly what was happening.)

Even more impressive is the depth of training webinars the company has provided. They really invest themselves in providing the information to successfully use these tools. Originally, it didn't look like I'd even be using it, but last week my department realized that it should be part of my role to utilize it.

So, I'm watching the webinars. And thanks to my experience in class, I'm critiquing them. I will say that a functional assessment nets that they've really understood their user base, their skill set and their needs. The execution could be finessed.

It's pretty funny when I looked at the first webinar and tried to suss out which program was used, and then by the third one, could identify what was used (even though the average end user doesn't know this-these products are seamlessly integrated into presentations). The one they used only allows for single take audio at the same time that you're capturing the screen images.

I made a coworker laugh that I could identify all of this and wonder if I'll end up critiquing for the rest of my life...


Monday, June 27, 2011

Es posible que


Mi iPhone es muerte.

Last week, I noticed it wasn't charging with the car charger. Chalking it up to a charger issue, I brought it in and charged it with the USB charger on my Mac. I didn't think it was charging as well as it had been, because it'd die before the day was through. However, I was busy and didn't really put two and two together.

Last night, it went on the charger around 11pm. When Ed went to charge his phone beside it, a couple of hours later, by normal standards, it should have been fully charged, but was showing 7%. He switched which charger it was on.

I got up this morning and it was at 11%. Left the phone at home and took Jane's with me, thinking it's a good thing we have a spare phone until October-but lamenting that I didn't have my contact list in her phone.

When I got home, despite charging all day, my phone was at 11.7% AND it didn't recognize my finger swipe across the screen to unlock it in an attempt to look up our HVAC guy's phone number.

The only thing that's out of the ordinary is a small crack on the bottom of the phone, just above the charger insert.


Like I said, it's a good thing we have a spare, but now I don't know how to get my stuff out of this one!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

It's summer, so time for some favorite summer songs:









Enjoy!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Recipe, S'il Vous Plait (RSVP): Drinks!

Okay, so these aren't my drink recipes. That said, summertime barbeques call for froufy drinks and these all can be made (or mostly made) in a pitcher for your gatherings.

Bacardi's website gave me these, after enjoying them at a local resort:
Bomb Pop

1 shot Bacardi Razz
1 shot Blue Curacao
1 shot Bacardi Limon
3 oz lemonade
3 oz sprite or club soda.




Florida Sunset (not 100% sure on all the ingredients)
1 shot Bacardi Dragonberry
1 shot Bacardi Razz
2 oz pineapple juice
2 oz orange juice
1 shot sour mix
1 shot grenadine



I'll add a kick-butt sangria recipe that will kick you on your butt once I find it. That is one to please a crowd, because it makes a GALLON.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Paint Along Studios

Look what Meghan and I did tonight (well, she made her own):

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bombshell

Are you following the Casey Anthony trial?

I've been following it, because three years ago, it was impossible not to see and hear the news about the missing toddler. Early on, when she was supposedly missing, a blog I followed had a bunch of us discussing it and how unbelievable Casey Anthony was. We were all convinced that the mother killed her child and hid the body-long before Caylee's remains were found.

Living here in Central Florida, there's a lot of coverage of the case, and I'm following it through several recaps every day, mainly because I cannot sit through the coverage.

However, her bumbling lawyer (who got his Juris Doctor from Lawyers R Us, IMO) promised a bombshell. Today it was delivered, in Casey's mother perjuring herself, contradicting the depositions she gave and several statements she made to law enforcement at the time.

Her demeanor was a complete 180 from what she displayed a couple of weeks ago when she testified for the prosecution as a broken woman, devastated that her granddaughter was dead. Now, she's a nervous, jittery person who is resolute in recalling things now that she couldn't three years ago.

So, which is it, Cindy Anthony?

I'm thinking the mother will now have an adjoining cell to her sociopath daughter, thanks to today's testimony. She lost her granddaughter, doesn't want to see her daughter on death row, so she's willing to lie under oath and spend time in jail herself to create reasonable doubt.

I sure hope the jury is good at sorting the lies in this case...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waterloo


I had high hopes for three classes this semester. We didn't have the Jane stress, it'd be pretty simple.

Then I got a job. Then I couldn't get my butt in gear because I was so fried from all that had gone on since late December.

If I'd started working on this class the first day of the semester, (which I couldn't w/o a syllabus) I might have been okay. The syllabus didn't show up until a week later.

The other two classes are heading firmly into the A category, but I'm so far behind that even being 150 pages into the 744 pages seen above, it'll take a lot of sleepless nights to catch up-to get a C.

I want to spend time with my family. I want to get good grades in both of my remaining classes. I want to kick butt in this new job.

So, the white flag goes up, and Web Programming gets pushed back until the fall semester. Fifteen weeks to get the same assignments done will be a less insane pace.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Disconnected

We don't have a land line in our house. We ditched having one several years ago, when we realized that several months would go by before picking it up to make a call. The cell phones are always handy, and even with the lowest family plan, we rarely used our minutes. Enough of our family and friends had the same carrier that we wouldn't burn through minutes. (The only time we went over minutes was the month my mom passed away.)

As a result, we got Chef a cell phone of his own two years ago. His best friend had the number, Ed, me and Jane. That's it. The annoying thing about that phone is that if it is charging, it does NOT ring. So, half the time, you try to reach the kid and you can't, because the phone is on the charger. It is annoying. As the contract is up on that phone, we'll be replacing that Sony Eriksson phone for just that ONE quibble-other than that, the phone is great.

So, if Chef's best friend wants to call him and can't reach him, who does he call? You guessed it. And 11 year old boys don't seem to get the concept that if a person hasn't answered the phone, perhaps they are not available? Napping, studying, WORKING, or maybe have the ringer shut off because they don't want to be disturbed?

Yeah. He called EIGHT times in a half hour on Friday. I was studying and had the ringer turned off, then saw eight missed calls and one message from the same unfamiliar number (Which I usually don't answer, anyway.) That message was, based on the times shown on the phone, the eight phone call, with an exasperated 11 year old leaving a message.

I called him back, said this weekend was not a good time, so perhaps Tuesday would be better.

It's Tuesday. I'm at work and again, my ringer is shut off, on the off chance that I'll have cell phone reception at my desk. When I left work, many missed calls from two numbers, one I know is the best friend's and the other unfamiliar, but after all these calls, that number has a message from the best friend again.

It's 5:30 when I get the message, and a little late to coordinate a sleepover for tonight. I call back and make arrangements for tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a slow burn. Jane was also notorious for this, calling numerous times without leaving a message, then leaving one with a pissed off tone when I don't answer the first five times she called. To say that it cheeses me off would be an understatement. Even before Jane started doing it to me, but that just conditioned me to be extremely negative when someone else does it.

Am I wrong for being annoyed with someone who does this?

When the 11 year old boy is here tomorrow, I will politely explain that if he leaves me a message the first time he calls, I will call back when I am able to do so. I will also explain that I don't call back any missed calls that don't have messages.

Is this a sign of the times?



Monday, June 20, 2011

Things I've Learned About JavaScript in the Past 48 Hours

1. It doesn't seem to like me coding it in Dreamweaver split view.

2. It doesn't show up in my Safari browser window because, apparently, Safari 5.0.5 is incompatible with it.

3. I'll have to downgrade my version of Safari to 4.0.5 to fix this issue.

4. JavaScript was native to Netscape Navigator, and as such, the textbook we're using for class recommends coding and debugging in this browser.

5. Netscape Navigator hasn't been around since 2007, which gives you an idea how old this book is.

6. The textbook also suggests utilizing a text editor named Homesite, as it's the author's absolute favorite for coding JavaScript.

7. That website and associated product has been gone since 2009.

8. That this *slightly* outdated textbook would have cost $443.00 to print out, had I chosen to do so via Staple's website.

9. In store, with the THREE binders and 744 pages printed, it cost just under $80.00 to have a hard copy of the textbook that I could mark up and highlight.

10. It's a good thing, too, because I would have bought myself a 16 gig iPad instead of paying that kind of money to print my $15 e-Book.

11. Unlike the HTML assignments I did in the spring, if I try to view source on the demo assignments my professor put on Blackboard, I only see the names of the source codes, which don't give me the slightest clue how to build frames.

12. That despite it not liking the native Mac OS or browser, there are many wonderful resources out there for Mac users to code in it-if you know who to ask (and my friend Jill and her lovely significant other Brian are my lifeline on that front!)

13. Even though it's really frustrating me right now that it's not so Mac friendly (yet), I really like the logical nature of it.

and 14?

It's far easier to deal with when you've had more than three hours sleep.










Good night.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Time Marches On

I'm starting this off with a confession that I'm pretty sure I've shared before: I can't stand Bruce Springsteen. His voice and horrible lyrics just turn me off. It is better to listen to Bruce's songs covered by other artists, mainly because I cannot stand his voice. (To my New Jersey friends: I know it's a law that you all like 'The Boss,' but I've never resided in the Garden State and am therefore exempt from the legal ruling)

However, from the first Bruce song I ever remember hearing (Tenth Avenue Freeze Out), the thing that always stood out was that saxophone. As I didn't like The Boss, I never made an effort to find out who was blowing that sax so fine. It was that instrument that made all of Bruce's songs great. Can you honestly imagine 'Born to Run' or 'Rosalita' without it?

In the mid-80's, a song came out and got heavy rotation on MTV, in the days when they actually played music videos. I watched, because Jackson Browne was a staple in my house as a kid. It was then that I found out the Sax Man was Clarence Clemons.

I feel for Bruce and the rest of the E Street Band, because the man's contribution to the music was just phenomenal. No one can fill those shoes musically, and from what I understand, that song from the mid-80's summed up the man's way of walking through life.



I hope you got a nice new saxophone, Big Man.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Refining

One of the classes this semester is Educational Research. Normally, it's slated for the last semester of this program, but with the flukey issues in getting the classes that I was supposed to have, I decided to take this one now.

My thought was, I've had a lot of foundation in Psychological research, so much of it would be familiar. That was an accurate assessment, as the class is about 60 to 70% familiar material, and 30% that either expands on research terminology I knew or introduces the educational components.

This class, unlike the other five I've either taken or am currently enrolled in, has a midterm and a final, as well as a term paper. The term paper excites me somewhat, as we are asked to apply knowledge gained in the class to come up with a 8 to 12 page research proposal. We don't have to go into the actual research section, just describe the type of research, what methods we plan to use, compare what we plan to do to existing literature and explain why it is important.

Apparently, it's unusual to have a dissertation topic before entering the doctoral program, but it happens. The textbook (this one is really good, BTW) describes choosing a topic to explore as "something you MUST be passionate about." In fact, the whole chapter on conducting research underscores this point over and over. In a good way, I think.

Meanwhile, I knew as soon as I decided to go this route what I planned to explore. Then seeing that Dissertation proposal defense helped me clarify what points I needed to address to get approved for research. That experience helped me greatly, because I don't need to do nearly as much work as anticipated.

So, reading the chapter helped me define that I want to conduct quantitative research in a quasi-experiment condition (because I'm utilizing a school where it will not be completely random participants), that I want to utilize two classrooms, one with the experimental condition and the other with the control and that it'd be ideal to observe over one school year.

Then, I realized that if I'm able to secure grant funds to do so, it'd be ideal to partner with the school to hire two masters Special Education students to lead these classes. They'd spend a month before the school year with me refining the lesson plans for four core subjects being measured to ensure the same curriculum was being used in both situations. A bonus is that the school has extra staff for non-core subjects.

It adds an element that I knew would be a possibility, but knowing that I need to drum up grant funds now will help me to draft a grant proposal, too. I'm happy that I've got a couple of years to formulate that part of the research package, instead of realizing it at the 11th hour and ending up stalled until another school year starts.

The readings I've been doing all week culminated in the midterm exam today-one I thought I was woefully unprepared to take. I was wrong, as I've probably walked away with a high B/low A on it. The best part, though, was that I spent some time talking with the professor afterwards about the paper and my plans. He agreed that there isn't research for that topic and there needs to be-and that he's really curious to see what I will find. I jokingly said "well, I need members of my doctoral panel," and he said "I'd be happy to do it."

Sweet! His class is helping me to narrow my focus AND I've got a committee member, too! Now I just need three more, and I know where two of them will come from-the last is a choice outside my research area that I hope will agree.

It feels really good that out of the stress of this week's efforts comes a better sense of direction.

Now, if only every test had that outcome!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shellac by CND, Thoughts and Pictures

Does a Shellac manicure really last two weeks? Take a look at the comparative image I made in Photoshop:


When you wear a dark color and your nails grow quickly (like mine), you'll need to re-do them every two weeks. You'll be able to stretch out a lighter color longer.

I had visions of hell for the removal of the first coat of Shellac. Mainly because what's out there talks about the acetone on your skin and how it burns. Heck, I had a cut cuticle and it stung a bit, but overall, it wasn't painful at all. Seriously, not painful. The thing that impressed me is that the acetone was on each nail for about two minutes and with a cuticle scraper, Katie was able to get about 95% of the Shellac off of my nails.

When my nails were naked, I took a look and couldn't believe I was looking at my own nails. They looked healthy and seemed strong. I'm definitely keeping up with the Solar Oil 3X a day, because this is the best they've looked in years.

We talked about layering the colors, which you can do, but ultimately, I chose another dark color, because if I've got nails, I want people to see I've got nails. Yet again, one of the colors looked a lot darker on the CND website and it's much nicer in person. Witness Masquerade:



In our initial email exchanges, Katie had told me she had all but one color, and there's a color that's been reported to be back stocked. She joked that she even had black and she could do mine up with it, no waiting. I think that's what endeared me to her, the fact that she'd cracked jokes about giving me the goth treatment.

(Which flashes me back to my brother Socrates wife, who has worn black pinkie fingernails for over 20 years now. All. the. time.)

Katie thinks my nails are suited for black, and she thinks she'll wear me down to put the black on for Halloween. I dunno, two weeks of black?

In any event, I'm really pleased with the results and won over to the Shellac way of life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On the Other Hand

The textbook for my Educational Research class is an easy read. That probably is due to all the psychological research study I've done in the past. This course fleshes out concepts that I'm very familiar with, throwing in a new term here and there.

I feel well equipped for Saturday morning's mid term



Oh, and I got my nails Shellac'ed again. Masquerade this time. When she took the old polish off, the nails underneath looked better than I've ever seen them. Kudos to Shellac and the solar oil!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Life With RSD, the Suzanne Edition

There are things about RSD that one never gets used to, or thinks they've figured out, only to find they were wrong.

To whit:

The hair on My Stupid Leg barely grows. I have to shave it every few months for the couple dozen dark black hairs that show up on my pasty white skin. The other leg doesn't have this issue, in that the hair grows normally and is a very light brown.

Saturday, I noticed a patch of black hairs and decided to shave and instead, sliced my leg. I had a 2 inch long gash that was bleeding like a stuck pig (and didn't seem to clot very well for someone with a clotting disorder!) and after a half hour, it'd stopped enough that I could put a few band aids on it.

They'd get replaced daily, with the adhesive irritating the heck out of me (yet another stupid allergy). Finally, yesterday, I decided that I'd air the gash out, in the hopes of healing quickly.

Nope.

It's been a while, but I forgot that RSD + drying wound = intense pain, a la Vern Troyer stabbing my ankle with a machete pain. This time, it was my calf. Yep, my leg freaks out when I try to do something normal for healing.

I went and got bigger bandages and Neosporin with pain reliever in it, not that it could do anything for this pain. Twenty four hours later, it's starting the same routine, so I need to redress this stupid thing.

Just when I think I know my RSD, it reminds me of what I forgot!

Oh, and I decided to tweeze the few hairs that were there after I injured myself and found that is not a good idea, either. Normally, I don't have a problem with tweezing hair, but this was bad.

I think I'm going to let my leg get as hairy as a gorilla's after this.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Cool Addition to My Job Description

In my touch base with my boss today, we were going over things I need to do. Shredding, filing, still waiting on IT to give me access to the software I need to do a large portion of my job (and help me to do a great purge of old files, too.)

She tells me "one of our goals this year is to set up a blog, and I want you to do it." Really? Me?

I restrained myself, because jumping up and down about getting to do something I really enjoy and get paid to do it would have irritated My Stupid Leg more than it's already messed up. Meanwhile, I set about starting the Facebook page and will show her tomorrow our blogging options.

Then I'll hit up everyone in the department on topics they thing should be addressed. Hopefully, that'll give me plenty of fodder to get things rolling. Unlike this one, that blog will probably be posted weekly to be a resource for those we assist.

Still, I've really been enjoying what I do, and this is like the cherry on top.

Sweet.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Heigh Ho

We bank with Disney's credit union, Partners. It's a carryover from when I worked for the mouse, their service is top notch and well, since everything is done online, there wasn't much need to open accounts elsewhere.

It's very unusual for us to actually have to visit a branch, what with the ability to deposit checks at other credit unions, which we have several of in town. However, today, we needed to travel over to Orlando to do some business in person.

Last time we visited the branch at the Team Disney building, they were doing a lot of renovation work. If you've never seen the building, it was designed by Arata Isozaki and is supposed to be evocative of a large passenger ship. To complete the effect, there were large man-made ponds in front of the building.

An architect's rendering of Isozaki's vision:


Today, we went over and discovered that renovations were long completed. The ponds gone, replaced with grass. The main entrance had a circular planter, but it's been modified:


It was so cool to see an update with a nod to the fact that this building is utilized by 99.5% Disney employees. (the bank branch gets the odd non-CM, like us).





Sunday, June 12, 2011

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Bonus Tracks

Do you remember back before our cars had CD players, we had iPods and adapters to use them in multiple locations, how we used to tape our favorite music onto cassettes to listen to on the daily commute?

I had dozens of them. Even my dad got a few (Basia and Grayson Hugh on one, until he confessed that he fast forwarded it to hear Basia, so I made a new one with the same album on both sides.)

Anyway, I made a tape with the two October Project CDs that got played over and over, to the point that both boys can sing along with them. The limitations of a 45 minute cassette required me to shave a song off each album to fit the format.

So, now when I hear those two songs, as I haven't heard them nearly as much as the rest of the album, I think "Hey, an October Project bonus track!"

The two tunes that are my 'bonus tracks'

Be My Hero from October Project


One Dream from Falling Farther In


How about you? Do you have tracks that got shaved from the cassette for the car?


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dry Reading

I am a voracious reader. Cereal boxes, nutrition information on soda cans, textbooks, newspapers, you name it, I'll read it (except for maybe Harlequin Romances.) Heck, I look forward to reading research papers, which most people dread.

The majority of my reading is textbooks and those research papers. For the most part, they're okay. I've found a couple of textbook authors that I enjoy. This semester though, I've hit upon a textbook that I find horrible.

The subject: Curriculum Theory. Interesting subject, great professor and the supplemental readings and research studies are thought provoking. The textbook? Is like trying to run through a tar pit.

The author takes 40 pages to say what probably could be accomplished in 20. This is not due to excess verbosity, no, it's because he uses the same sentences thirty different ways in each chapter.

For a reader like me, it's jarring. "The focus of instruction for this student population is to share the intrinsic nature of the subject," or something like that. Then five paragraphs later "The focus of instruction for the student (worker), is to share the basic nature of the subject," ad nauseum. I end up stopping many times in each chapter to ask myself "didn't he just say this?" Yes, he has, just slightly differently.

So 40 pages in a chapter, which would normally take me about 2 hours of solid reading, now takes 8 because I can't just sit and read for meaning, then write notes about it. I have to stop and process what I just read before reading another sentence that says the same thing, just slightly differently, which is too distracting to process appropriately.

There's only 150 pages left of this garbage. Surely I can get through that before I want to destroy the book, right?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Providing What Was In the Past

At work, I'm at a desk that was previously occupied by an employee who has been moved to our other location downtown. Who that was, I'm not sure, as fifty people moved there, but her mark has been left. (While not a receptionist, my desk is in a reception area and I do check in some people.)

All day long, I'll get requests for the things she did before, like "where's the candy bowl?" and "what happened to the music?" I take them in stride, and explain that my superiors haven't provided the former and well, my computer couldn't help me provide the latter. Not with 1 meg of ram and no Senuti to transfer my iPod library, that is.

Last week, tech support upgraded me to 4 gig, so I could actually open my Outlook email and not wait ten minutes for it to load. This mean that perhaps I could actually have other windows open-you know, like the product name implies? Yesterday, I finally got around to creating a Pandora account to use on the job because a friend climbed under my desk and determined why my speakers weren't working.

That was fun. My personal Pandora, used for a few years now, has definitely tweaked itself to my eclectic tastes, some of which probably would not be well received in an office environment (Pandora knows my like of some songs in the heavy metal realm, my coworkers don't). As I was creating, the friend asked if I liked Jazz. This resulted in me launching iTunes on my MacBook and sampling some of the artists in that genre for him.

Typically, my laptop stays silent while I study, or I cycle through songs over and over on iTunes to the point where they become soothing instead of distracting (the same Russian chant, for instance), so working with music going is no longer familiar.

We'll see how it goes-and how Pandora reacts to my likes and dislikes...


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Shellac by CND, One Week Later

Last Friday, I got a manicure with Shellac by CND. The product really intrigued me, because it provided the benefits one would get from a layer of gel or acrylic nails, but wouldn't buff down my already very soft nails.

For me, the other options weren't good either. With the cooking (and clean up) I tend to do, a regular manicure would probably last 4 or 5 days. Silk wraps helped me years ago to get stronger nails, but users are discouraged from letting them sit in water. The above mentioned clean up, plus the pool would water log those wraps. Pass.

Here we are, one week later and I am amazed. Take a look for yourselves:



Why?

My nails look like they were just done-shiny, chip free and in this case, sparkly. This color is Baroness and it looks like a Candy Apple red car. I've maintained my usual activities, which results in at least one or two broken nails a week due to being so soft. I added a marathon cooking session, which always broke nails-I still have ten ravishing red nails. And the best part?

There are only two minor blemishes that no one else would notice. I know one came from scrubbing a pot with a brillo pad. It wasn't noticed until yesterday after I took pictures. I'm not sure what caused the other one, but I was messing with the copier and files at work yesterday, and the blemish is on a nail on the left hand, so it's likely that was the culprit.

The negatives to this are completely my own doing. My nails have always grown very fast, so the new nail underneath is already visible. At quick glance, though, the average person is not going to notice this. I'm curious to see how much my nails really do grow in two weeks, since the Shellac has not chipped at all.

I'm a picker. If there's a rough edge, I'm going to fidget with it until it's smooth. So there are some uneven edges at the bottom of two nails because I couldn't leave them alone. With the nails growing out, a third one started to annoy me last night, but I went and got my nail buffer and smoothed it that way. The cool part of that is the nail still shines, even though I rubbed it down (admittedly with the lowest grit I could).

Katie, my nail tech, suggested using top coat if the nails didn't look their best, but I only did that last night to the one nail that had a blemish. If I took a picture of all ten, I'm not sure you'd be able to identify which one has top coat and which are the original Shellac-ed nails. Seriously. (Maybe I'll get someone to take a picture later and post it as a test!)

If you're wondering about the value of a Shellac manicure, my opinion is it's worth it. To cook, do dishes, and go about my daily tasks without destroying my nails is taking some getting used to, but it's a new development I like. Heck, I'm looking over the colors to decide which I'm getting next week.

(As I did with the first post, I'll add day by day pictures to this one to show the longevity of the manicure.)

Day 8:
It looks like I have a small crack in one of my nails. The index finger had a black line running up the right side. I'm not sure if I scratched it on something or if it happened itself. If you look at all of them, the nails are fine

I did put a layer of top coat (INM Out The Door) on it to prevent any further cracking)

Overall, though, they still are strong and shiny.


Day 9:
Ed looked at the nails last night and commented "Hey, they still look great, but you'd never get more than two weeks out of them!" Darn fast-growing nails!

Another benefit is that Katie had said that this treatment can dry the nails and cuticles, so be sure to use Solar Oil or other nail mosturizer daily. I normally don't, and usually have ripped cuticles or an occasional ingrown nail. Since I've been doing this, the cuticles have been much better behaved. I've got Beauty Secrets Nail Matrix next to the laptop and Seacrets Cuticle Oil (that was in some skin care kit of Jane's that she'd only use the body lotion out of) in my desk drawer at work.

The recommendation is to treat the nails once a day, but I am an excessive hand washer, so I'll do them three times a day. You can tell that I hadn't done that yet today when I took the pictures, though!



I figured out why the Shellac cracked, and it has nothing to do with the product and everything to do with me. What I'd forgotten is that one of my nails is slightly warped, and it gets worse the longer the nail gets. To get an idea, take a look:

Whenever my nails get really long (rarely), this is extremely obvious. The difference is that regular nail polish isn't as hard or durable as the Shellac, so it just would roll with the nail.

I'll ask Katie what I should do about this in the future, as this nail has always been warped. Perhaps it got slammed in a door or something when I was really little. (One of my big toes is warped and has a scar from being slammed in a supermarket door and a friends front door the same week. Ow!)

Day 10:
I did a lot of studying yesterday, so the nails didn't get a workout, other than all the typing I did. (That may be part of the reason why they grow fast, as the same thing happened when I played piano all the time.)


Shopping later this afternoon, though I don't see that as being too taxing on the nails...

Day 11:
Or 'the day where you start to notice the color wearing away' day.


Still, there's so much shine on my fingernails that it's only noticeable in pictures.

Impressive.

Day 12:
I absently picked at the bottom of one of the nails, so now it's ragged. Other than that, all that's happening is the nail underneath is growing rather fast.



New manicure Thursday...

Day 13:
I'll take pictures in the morning before heading out for the manicure, but I don't expect much change from these that I just took at 7pm at night:



This product is definitely worth the money I spent. Now, to decide what color I'm getting tomorrow!
Day 14:
Going for a manicure in a couple of hours, and this is what they look like before: