Saturday, February 28, 2009

Life Is Good

It amazes me how much my life is surrounded by technology considering I only really started using a computer in 1996. I finally gave up my beeper (remember those things) for a cell phone in 2003, and that was only because I had a 5 hour daily commute.

I'm typically a late-adopter when it comes to technology, though that has been less and less true since I began working as a web editor in 2007. Since then I've acquired and become nearly inseparable from my iPod, joined Facebook, set up blog readers and news aggregators for myself, uploaded pictures to Flickr, begun using semantic web apps, and yo, started my own blog.

As I've become increasingly wired, I've also become correspondingly impatient—at least with the wired things.

As my computer seems to become increasingly decrepit, moving more slowly with each day and crashing at will, I need to keep this in mind. I've never heard of Louis CK, but he's funny.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Use #26

So, I brought more soup to work today for lunch, and I think use #26 for dryer sheets could be shove one in your 'roos to control gaseous odors.

Gas Mask Required

So, Scoob's rash has not cleared up, and he did not make a doctor's appointment. I stopped on the way home on mom's advice and picked up some cortizone cream for the itching. He's going to try wearing a long sleeved shirt the next few days to eliminate contact with whatever may be causing the rash.

Mom's other piece of advice was to stick my hand in the litter and then rub my hand on the back of his knee (a sensitive area) to see if he has the same reaction there. The thinking is we could either confirm or rule out the litter as a cause.

The other theory is that she may just want to torture Scoob. I don't currently have an open bag of this litter, and I'm not sticking my hand in the used litter and rubbing it on my sweetie. Scoob's a tolerant man, but I'd be put up for adoption if I tried that. Well, maybe while he's sleeping.

In other news, reviewed a bunch of travel websites over the weekend and our new site at work got a pretty good review, "sleek, user-friendly site..., great maps..., inspiring 'activities' section and unique destination advice," and the reviewer really seemed to like our authors' blogs. Not to toot my own horn, but having had a lot of influence on the elements of the site, and how it looks and functions, this review made my day. Not too shabby for only having the site live for 42 days. (Who's counting?)

On a less exciting note, I'm doing laundry because I was a lazy slug and didn't get to it on Sunday like I usually do. Actually, I wasn't lazy, I was working on the website, but still, how much effort does it take to load the washer? Well, seeing as how I'm outta 'roos, I needed to run it tonight. 'Roos is short for underroos, which is what we call underwear (both panties and boxers) around here.

Anyhow, running the laundry made me think of this article, 25 uses for dryer sheets. I've used dryer sheets for #3, 6, and 11 (oh boy, #11), and considering the mad gas I had today I'm also considering #22 and 23. I made a bean soup for dinner last night, which I also had for lunch today—it was tasty, but I need to fine tune the recipe before I post it. I'm also thinking, gas or no gas, #18 might not be a bad idea.

I don't think the cats would tolerate #7. Actually, I think Tank would be down-right offended if I even suggested his natural odor was unpleasant. And who the hell would ever want to use dryer sheets for #17? That musty paper smell is part of a book's charm, dammit!

I was reading TIME magazine's article about the 25 best blogs for 2009 (no, a wayward life did not make the list, sheeze) and I was just annoyed that I had to click through 25 pages to get all the information. If you want to know what TIME had to say about each of these blogs, you'll still have to visit the main article, but here are the blogs in a "slick, user-friendly" list format:

TIME does recommend a few blogs that I've read on more than one occasion, but clearly, we do not have the same tastes in our blog fodder, though I may need to give a few of these another look-see.

Here's an update on the Facebook privacy brouhaha I posted about last week. I dunno. I'm still not sure if I trust them. This article really hits the nail on the head, the information people put up on Facebook about themselves is much more personal than anything else that might be out there on the web. Well, except for those exhibitionists.

Since I know she's been doing this, here's a quick funny for mom.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Itchy Edition

Well, it looks like the folks at Hewlett-Packard are beginning to get the picture. A month back I posted about HP CEO Mark Hurd's reported $42.5 million compensation in 2008, all while HP laid off 25,000 employees. Last week, HP announced salary cuts.

Unfortunately, the pay cuts are across the board. The CEO will take a 20% cut, other execs will see a 15% cut, and managers a 10% cut. All other employees will receive a 2.5 - 5% cut. Given that Hurd's salary is only (ha) $1.5 million of that $42.5 million figure, I'd rather see a total compensation cut at the CEO and exec levels. But even Hurd's cut will mean about 5 more people 20 more people like Scoob will get to keep their jobs.

Speaking of Scoob, he's seriously stressed out about all this. We're in the middle of trying to refinance the house and a pay cut doesn't help matters. Add to that the fact that property taxes are due, and it's just regular tax time as well, and the poor guy is about to implode.

Actually, I think the stress has caused him to break out in hives. On Friday he started getting strange bumps on his forearms. Given his allergies, at first we thought it was a feather pillow, but he's been using that pillow for years. I haven't changed laundry detergent, or fabric softener. We did recently switch bar soaps, but he hasn't used a new one yet.

The only real recent change in the house has been the litter box and the litter we use in it. All I can think of is that the cats have trace amounts of something from this litter on their coats and it makes contact with Scoob's arms when he pets or holds them. We made the switch about 2 weeks ago, so this seems like a very delayed reaction.

Anyhow, he's been using calamine lotion to help with the itching and an anti-bacterial ointment to prevent infection. I convinced him to take a benadryl tab last night just in case it is an allergic reaction. But he got up this morning and took another--so he's going to be pretty much comatose for the day.

He mumbled something about being hungry around 10:30 so I made him something to eat. But I couldn't get him to wake up enough to eat it, and that was 3 hours ago. I've made him agree to make a doctor's appointment if the bumps haven't cleared up by tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Of Girly-Men and Wusses

It's been raining here for nigh on 5 days. And I mean raining—none of that drizzly or sprinkly stuff that makes fashionistas and girly-men squeal for fear of frizzy hair. We have been down right lavished with water in this deluge.

Thankfully, there weren't as many befuddled drivers out, at least not when I was on the road. Though I did nearly rear end a highway patrol car this evening as he was making a traffic stop. The person he was stopping was cutting through traffic to try and pull over as quickly as possible, so the CHP officer followed, also cutting through traffic, and nearly caught my front bumper in the far right lane. *sigh*

So, I've posted a few times about Blackwater, the private security company that has been under fire for their operations in Iraq. Well, it appears as though Blackwater is no more.

Truthfully, they're still here. They just changed their name. Blackwater Worldwide will now be known as Xe, and the subsidiary, Blackwater Lodge & Training Center (which is the entity that's has been in Iraq), will henceforth be called U.S. Training Center Inc.

The company claims that the name change comes with a change in company focus—Blackwater (I mean Xe) will shift away from providing personnel protective services and instead focus on training and logistics. Not a bad decision considering Cheney isn't in office and won't be continuing to shovel private security contracts their way. And chances are that the new administration will move away from privatizing the military all together. I wonder if they'll ever shake the name, and stigma, of Blackwater. Not likely.

Blackwater is included in the Girly-Men and Wusses post because if they truly feel they did nothing wrong, there's no need to be changing their name. Companies shift focus all the time without changing names.

In other news that pisses me off, Republican Senator Judd Gregg, despite having pledged to "support, embrace and move forward with the president's agenda," withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary, citing ideological differences with the president's stimulus plan.

There are two main reasons this pisses me off. One, Senator Gregg knew what the president's positions and goals were before accepting the nomination. And two, even though Gregg doesn't agree with President Obama, he could have stayed and provided a much needed fiscally conservative voice. As it is, he has deselected himself, and his position, from being heard at the cabinet level.

Senator Gregg makes the Girly-Men and Wusses post because he backed away from a real, and necessary, challenge and doesn't have the cojones to do the job he said he would do.

Lastly, social networking powerhouse Facebook changed their Terms of Service yesterday. As before, when you post content to Facebook you grant Facebook license to use said content for whatever purposes they like. The new part is that deleting the content no longer revokes Facebook's license to use the content. Incidentally, deleting your account won't revoke the license either.

In case some of you were wondering, this is the reason I haven't been participating in the various Note memes on Facebook lately, like "25 Random Things about Me." Be careful what you post.

I wonder how many users would have deactivated their accounts to opt out of the new Terms had they been given advanced notice of the change. Facebook makes the Girly-Men and Wusses post for pure mendaciousness.

UPDATE: Facebook responds to users' privacy and content ownership concerns here and here. As the Mashable article says, Facebook's position seems to be "trust us, we won't do anything bad." Facebook stays on the Girly-Men and Wusses post.

By-the-by, Scoob chose the title.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh, the Joy!

Well, the hard part is done and the organizer is installed. Now I just have to figure out what to do with it. We have lots of ideas and we just need to make a decision and start. But as you may remember, decision making is a rather fraught process in the Wayward house.

So here's the before:

As you can see, we keep the litter box in this closet. But the front of the box sticks out past the doors, so we were unable to slide the doors to access the other half of the closet. Also, the bathroom counter is only about a foot from the doors on that side, which made it difficult to access even before we started keeping the cat box there.

And here's the after:

Ta Da! Actually, this is probably the half-way point since I still need to put things away in the closet and find and hang some kind of curtain.

Last weekend, when we switched the cats to a new box, we also switched their litter. Previously we had used a clay litter which left everything with a fine coating of dust, especially the coats and jackets we kept in this closet. When we ordered the organizer we hadn't even thought about switching the litter. We had decided then that we didn't want to hang anything in the same closet with the cat box, which is why there is no clothing rod.

We're always complaining that we don't have enough space in this house, it's 950 sq. ft. Since it doesn't look like we'll be moving anytime soon, hopefully this will help us use the space we do have more to our advantage.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In the Closet

So the whole "quick and easy installation" of this closet organizer is a load of hooey. We spent the better part of yesterday saying, "Huh?" and drilling (and then patching) holes in the back wall of the closet.

As it turns out, other than finding Scoob, I'm apparently challenged when it comes to finding studs, and Scoob's not much better at it. After we finally figured out that our Stanley stud finder was just not working, I made an evening trip (7pm) to our local OSH and picked up a plain old magnetic one for about $4.

Once we were able to find the studs, things started to pick up speed and we finally got the main support rail up. We called it quits after that since we figured our neighbors who share that wall with us probably wouldn't appreciate our continued drilling and hammering into the night.

I've since decided that the closet doors are coming off and that I'll put up an inexpensive tension rod and lightweight curtains to use as a door. It should make half of the closet that is difficult to access easier to get to, and it'll be a nice way to introduce some color in that space too.

Oh, and it looks like there will be some painting involved. We recently repainted the bathroom, but not the interior of this closet, so there's this lovely stripe where the eggshell finish paint on the walls meets the flat finish paint of the closet. Since I've now decided to take the doors off, I'll be looking at this stripe every blessed day. I'll be painting this afternoon. Talk about mission creep.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope every one is all set to enjoy the 3-day weekend. At the Wayward house, we're still planning to install a closet organizer. Fun times. Charging the power tools as we speak.

Scoob is such a dear. He went to the grocery store this morning before I was even out of bed. Yes, I realize that I'm not the earliest of risers; but he went to the grocery store! Happy Valentine's to me, woot!

And he came home with flowers.

Friday, February 13, 2009


So as soon as I posted yesterday's entry, I saw that it looks like the House has agreed on a stimulus package and we can look forward to a vote sometime today. I can't actually get the text of the bill, but I'm guessing it's House Resolution 168 since that's what they were working on at midnight. (UPDATE: Looks like the text of the bill is available now, though I was mistaken. The stimulus package is actually H.R. 1: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.)

This article offers some details on the negotiations that made it into the stimulus package. It looks like some pork found a home in the bill, but aside from a bit that enables some businesses receiving government bailout funds (along with many other businesses) "to use current losses to claim refunds for taxes paid when times were good," the pork seems appropriate to the goals of the bill.

Well, that other bit about quadrupling the amount of money for constructing high-speed rail lines to $8billion seems questionable. Yes, it will create jobs, but the government is already subsidizing Amtrak. Long term, does it really make since to lay new passenger rail track?

We might be better off to set some of that $8billion aside for the assistance claims we all know are coming from Nadya Suleman, the now infamous octuplet mother. I've been completely fascinated and outraged by this story. Did you know she's already got her tin cup out? I totally understand wanting to help when high-number multiple births happen unexpectedly, but she planned this.

IMHO, I actually think the doctor and clinic that performed her in vitro should have to support these 8 children, and the 6 children she already had because the arrival of the new brothers and sisters will definitely place a burden on resources for them as well. Though with all the book and television offers she's been receiving, who knows, she may not need as much help after all.

Did Someone Get the Number on That Truck?

Oh. Gawd. So much for not getting sick. What started out feeling like a sinus infection last Thursday ended up as what I can only assume was the flu by Sunday evening. I was knocked flat for 5 full days. That never happens.

Even though Scoob wasn't feeling so hot himself, he really pitched in when the fever hit. I think the hardest thing for him was keeping me in bed (not a phrase I thought I'd ever say). I kept getting up to get juice or feed the cats or put a movie in the DVD player and he read me the riot act each time. I've started calling him my Nurse Ratchet. He's not mean, though, just strict. And yes, mom, he did make some hot 'n sour soup—my favorite when I'm sickly.

I would have gone back to work on Tuesday, but Nurse Ratchet barricaded me in the bedroom, so I took one more day of bed rest and spent it watching all 5 of the Harry Potter movies. Again. I know they're supposed to be kid movies, but I don't think I'll ever get tired of them.

So Wednesday was my first day back on my feet and at work. It took me a while to wrap my brain around things and I think today was really my first day back up to speed.

What with being buried under a mountain of tissues and blankets, the closet organizer did not get installed last weekend like I'd hoped. I'm beginning to think it sounds like a good couple's bonding project—you know, for Valentine's Day.

Oh, but in other exciting news, we trained the cats to a new litter box this weekend. Yeah, thrilling news, huh. It was quite easy really. I was too sick to get up and scoop the old box, so they had no choice but to use the new automatic one. Now the old one is washed and stowed away until we need it as a spare when we go out of town.

Last week seemed so long ago, but a few items stuck in my mind from before The Crud of 2009 visited.

One of the biggest news items for me was Justice Ginsberg undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer. I hope the surgery is successful, but of course speculation has already begun regarding who President Obama would nominate to replace Ginsburg if needed. Most of the chatter seems to agree on one thing, Obama will be under immense pressure to appoint a female Justice to the court.

A clear front-runner for the potential nomination is Judge Sonia Sotomayor. First of all, she's female, she's also Latina, she's generally viewed as being a moderate, and she was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by George H.W. Bush, which would hopefully help with a quick confirmation process should Sotomayor get the nomination.

Another name that has been mentioned is Elena Kagan, which I find surprising since she has never argued a case at trial and she's President Obama's current nomination for Solicitor General. Actually, seeing as it is the Solicitor General's job to argue the government's position before the Supreme Court, having had very little courtroom experience may make her better suited to the more philosophical nature of Supreme Court Justice. But of the two, I think Sotomayor is the better option.

In other political news, Keith Olbermann has diarrhea of the mouth. Again. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Cheney supporter. In fact I agree with much of what Olbermann says, but the bile Olbermann spews is nauseating. And saying Cheney needs to leave the country because of things he has said is beyond the pale. Ummm, Keith, yeah, it's the United States, dude.

No matter how off base, infuriating, or crazy Cheney's comments may be, he is entitled to the same protections under the Constitution that Olbermann has been bitching about being systematically taken away the past 8 years. From his tirade, it would seem Olbermann feels that because Cheney has said, and continues to say, things that in his opinion strengthen the position of terrorists, Cheney should be denied his rights under the Constitution and banished from the country. No, that doesn't sound at all un-American or Bush-esque. What's next Keith? Shall we waterboard him too?

Olbermann had his moment (several years of moments, actually) when he openly said on air what millions of Americans were thinking, and I enjoyed watching him then as much as anyone else. But it became shtick long ago as the Bush Administration progressed through it's lame duck term, and unlike Stephen Colbert or John Stewart, Olbermann is not funny. Now that the Boogie Man is no longer in power, Olbermann's continued bile-filled rants at him seem more and more disconnected from reality.

In fact, what went through my mind as I watched the video was, "My God, he's become the liberal version of Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly." Olbermann has become just as disturbing as the people he rails at.

I have the vague recollection that Olbermann used to report the news. I wish MSNBC would put him back on that job and stop airing his "Special Comments." Though, he's probably lost all credibility as a newsman now since he has dropped all pretense of being unbiased. He's a caricature of his former self and it has become pitiful to watch. It's not inspiring, enlightening, or even entertaining any longer. But I keep watching; hoping to find a gem.

On a lighter note, it was kind of nice to read that even at the White House, they have to deal with some of the same things the rest of do—masked intruders. We have raccoons at our house too, though other than the one that climbed up to our second story patio, they seem to keep to themselves.

Actually, I remember seeing my first hedgehog while I was interning in D.C. It was huge. I had always thought of hedgehogs as being about the size of a guinea pig, but that one was the size of a medium bulldog! And in the middle of D.C. Judging by the picture on that article, they also have problems with beavers. Who knew?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I don't know if it's the crud or allergies, or both, but Scoob is outta commission. And between taking care of the sickly man, trying not to get sick myself, and keeping up at work, I'm finding fewer and fewer minutes to blog.

Interestingly, I ran across an article on Monday that said allergy season was starting earlier here in the Bay Area due to the warm-ish and dry winter we've had so far. It's supposed to rain a bit this weekend, so hopefully that'll get some of the pollen out of the air. Scoob has year-round allergies, and spring is usually just brutal. I revisited that herbal cough remedy from November and whisked up a batch for him tonight.

We ordered a closet organizer thing a week or so ago--it was one of Amazon's deals of the day, so we got it on sale. It arrived today. Depending on how Scoob is feeling this weekend we may tackle the project. My goal is to take two nearly useless closets and make them useful again. I'll let you know how that goes.

One thing I did notice was that Blackwater security forces have been banned from operating in Iraq. Hopefully, now that Cheney is out of office, this ban will be more effective that the banned issued in September 2007. Clearly, this is not a new issue.

This video is very cool. I think it's a music video, but it's a unique take on sleepwalking. I wonder if the cat dreams like this when his legs twitch.

Also, I like the video-jokes here. The "Broccoli" joke made me laugh out loud. And the purpose for making the site and videos is interesting. Note: There are a couple f-bombs, so turn down your volume or put on your headphones if you don't want little ears to hear.