Tag Archives: writing

Mixing it up and using the creation option

18 Aug

I tend to get single minded about things sometimes.  While that can be a good thing, there is also a tendency to go overboard, perhaps.  The truth of the matter is, too much of anything is not a good thing.  So, focusing on variety being the spice of life, I have mixed up things a bit more around more.  I do at least two things every day, and which two things can vary.  I write, almost every day, in one form or another.  Other days, it might a whole list of options that are considered.  One that has been at the forefront has been the act of creation.

Something about creating something, whether it is written text or an object  of some kind, seems to give me joy.  It’s even better when it’s something that gives other people pleasure.  This act of creation is a fantastic outlet for me.

So I have been busy with that creation stuff.  Like I made a trio of simple skirts for my niece’s oldest, along with matching hair barrettes.  I altered the pattern to be more creative and use that creation option too.  Several skirts for my granddaughter have come out from under the needle of my machine.  I tried my hand at a bit more fussy sewing with a set of mother-daughter aprons (shhhh!  She hasn’t gotten them yet, it’s her birthday gift, and I’ll deliver them tomorrow!) and a lined messenger bag with specially sized pockets, also for my daughter’s birthday.  The messenger bag was an act of determination, multiplied by dynamic creation, and infused with love too.

I don’t know if I’ll ever sew another apron requiring miles of bias tape.  I also don’t know if I will EVER make another lined bag.

Now I know from years of sewing that free patterns, whether from magazines (in the old days) or online (the modern day), does not mean quality patterns.  Anybody can post a pattern, and that does not mean it’s a good one.

This wasn’t a particularly good one.  The directions gave me headaches, and the finished example used to illustrate the article looked somewhat…sad.  I should have known better, right?

Yeah, well maybe I missed the brain train.  Lord knows the pain train pulls into my station regularly, I may have been confused that day…

I’ve also had serious computer issues.  I use a laptop (long story) and my “new” one took a dump and quit on me about 6 months ago.  Without being able to afford a repairman (it’s not a simple issue, it won’t power up at all) it has sat, waiting, after Greg removed the harddrive and cloned it onto another one, which ultimately went into my old laptop, which he had repaired from it’s near-fatal blow from some kind of malware attack I had received via a chat client I used to use.  (I don’t anymore, btw.)  So, I was happily working away, although regretting the loss of the faster computer with more RAM and thus better able to cope with my continual multi-tasking, and just dealing with the occasional freezing that such a tendency induces in older and underpowered computers.

On Saturday morning, I had a notice on the laptop that it had received a Microsoft update and had restarted.  Okay, no big deal, right?

It told me it was personalizing my desktop, and stayed that way.  Nothing we did resurrected it—it would not boot up.  I was on the verge of a melt down and we’ve not managed to drink our first cup of coffee yet.

Greg’s pretty patient, except when I’m melting down on him, then he’s not a very happy camper either.  He managed to pack me off to the office with my sewing machine, and he proceeded to try and solve the issue.  I took a nap.

A really long nap.

I guess melt downs wear me out?  It also gave him the peace he needed to work on solving the problem.  According to the flashing light on the cap lock, it was telling him that the CPU had crashed and burned.  That’s not a quick fix either, especially since it’s a laptop, which is really hard to work on.  We have no parts, nor do we have diagnostic tools to work on a laptop.  With Greg though, there is no such thing as defeat.  He also says there is no living with me without a functional computer AND my files, so he had a plan b to work on while I was snoring away.

He dug out his old laptop, which he had finally managed to repair.  (It was also damaged, but much more severely, by malware via the same chat client.)  It was the same brand as my old one—a Compaq.  He popped the harddrive from the laptop I had been using into the new one, added some RAM, and booted it up.  There were a few things to tweak, but soon, I was awake and had a computer I could use again.

But it had a really odd looking screen, and that was a clue as to what was coming next.  The video card driver on the harddrive was not compatible with the actual video card in the new old machine.  Should be an easy fix, right?


HP’s repair gizmo won’t install. Drivers for the video card don’t seem to exist.  Okay, I can live with an oddball looking screen, distorted pictures and all.  But that wasn’t the end of the video card driver problems.

The blue screen of death.

Yeah, we’ve all seen it.  The trouble was, I was seeing it often, and then the new old computer wouldn’t boot up either.  I was starting to feel like some kind of computerized jinx.

I’m testy, and I’m sent back to the office to talk to my sewing machine and play with my Kindle.  I start dreaming of embroidery machines and new laptops, but Greg manages to save the day despite my frazzled nerves.  He also attaches an external harddrive so I can back up the critical files: documents & pictures.  We even worked out a way to get it done easily without me freaking out and getting frustrated over complicated procedures.

Like the Cloud.

He couldn’t understand my objection to using the Cloud for backing up files, but Comcast, in their usual manner, managed to illustrate it in living color.

Our intermittent outage issues had been plaguing us all day on Sunday.  Sunday night, however, it’s a total no-internet-at-all situation resulting in a call to Comcast, where he started off the experience with a 30 minute wait to get to a human.

Keep in mind, we’re paying by the minute for this privilege, despite Comcast’s continual offers of telephone service (they can’t get the internet right, how would they get telephone right?) and then he gets “service is out in your area due to an accident.  It should be restored by 7 am on Monday morning.”

Now he knows why I do not like my files on the Cloud.  I cannot access them when the internet is down.  Just like I couldn’t access anything when I had no way to get to my harddrive and the data it contained, only with no cloud access, my computer is working just fine.  Sure, the cloud is fine for a general back up, but that’s not where I want my files kept.

He was thrilled.  Seriously thrilled.  But now, he understood what my objections were and why they were something that I was so adamant about.

But that sent my brain off onto another tangent too.

If a woman could sue McDonald’s for a cup of hot coffee scalding her, can I sue Comcast for frustrating Greg to the point of giving him another heart attack via their crappy customer service?

That’s the kind of thing I start to wonder in the wee hours, as I look at a screen that thinks it’s really a 16” CRT monitor but is really an LCD laptop screen…I think it’s a 17” one? (Heck I can tell you the model number, and have no idea what size the screen is.  Sad, huh?)  So, now I’m going to mix it up, wander off, and try to take a photo of the lovely messenger bag.

Or not.

I might wait and do it tomorrow, along with the aprons, when I have a model.  Actually 2 models.  Beautiful Daughter & her Mini Me, the spitting image of her mother, only with better hair.

See that’s another side of me too.  I am an official grandmother and I’m every bit as gaga as any grandma could be.  Plus, she’s my one and only, so I am seriously gaga about that little girl.  I have to keep a firm hand on myself to prevent me spoiling her excessively.

Yep, there is an “excessive” point when you are grandma too.

But she is a darling, most of the time.  When I see that less-than-endearing version, I am so disappointed too.  After all, as MY granddaughter, she is supposed to be perfect, right?

And since I do have to get up early to go see my darling, I’m going to leave it at that.

So tune in again tomorrow…or listen to me on the radio from 8-10 pm Central at bit.ly/uprn365  Oh, and go buy a book or two at bit.ly/giabooks  I’m trying to fund my project development for the next book, and could use some extra sales.

Just don’t forget–I really appreciate everyone who reads my blog posts, and for that, you deserve an atta-boy and a creation bonus point.  Create something, even if its something small.  It can be food or art or crafts or a really great poem or the best lawn mowing job that has ever hit your neighborhood.

Creation can be many things.

Here’s a cover of one of my books–my daughter and granddaughter were on the cover.

Kindle Parent handbook cover

You can find it right here.

Don’t forget–I’m moving my blog to www.exogenynetwork.com at the end of the month!



Tassimo saga continues…

22 Oct

I really need to go and edit the article I wrote reviewing the Tassimo and Keurig single serve coffee machines.  I was pro-Tassimo at that point, as I had never been so unfortunate as to have to call Tassimo customer service.  The saga continues today, so read on!

I must have been feeling like getting aggravated.  I hadn’t received that replacement Tassimo machine yet, so I called Tassimo again.

It’s guaranteed to aggravate.

I couldn’t understand his name or much of what else he ran together while answering the phone, so I responded in kind to each question.   Later in the call, I ask for his name, which turns out to be Obi.    We are working on two months now to replace a machine that I was supposed to receive a replacement for in 2 weeks.  My warranty is about to or has expired while I’ve been waiting for this replacement.

I’m not changing my opinion of Tassimo customer service much.  Today’s representative was courteous and spoke understandable English, but apparently previous reps were flat lying to me…or else he was.  SOMEBODY was not telling me the truth.  Today’s story went as follows.

I called on September 22, and the defective machine’s replacement was arranged.  However, there was missing information so the claim was not processed completely.  On October 8, this missing information was apparently miraculously produced, and the claim was processed.  On October 14, I called again, and was told a different story by Mia, which included assurance that I would receive the machine in 1-2 weeks.

From Obi, I learned the following.  The new machine was in fact being shipped, despite my doubts about any machine ever arriving.  It was coming from Pennsylvania somewhere and would arrive via FedEx, UPS, or USPS.  I should receive it today, Monday, or Tuesday, but if I do not receive the machine by Tuesday, I should call again.

My opinion at this time?

I seriously doubt whether I will ever receive a replacement machine from Tassimo.  I think the ruse to get me to call back on Tuesday is merely that Obi doesn’t work on Monday or Tuesday, therefore I will be screaming in fury at someone else.

So…did you know that Keurig machines and K-cups are carried almost everywhere now?  Sams Club has them, Walmart has them, I’ve seen the K-cups in the grocery store aisles right alongside the plastic containers of Folgers.  Reading the reviews of the Keurig machine is a much more positive experience too–few of them are rants about the defective machines and horrible customer service.

Oh why on earth did I get a Tassimo?????????????

Because I needed the aggravation over a cup of coffee?

Okay, for those who missed previous entries, to keep it simple, here they are:

September 1

September 10

September 22

October 14




Emergency preparedness, games & writing

25 Apr

Tonight, I’m working on book 2 of the series I’m writing.  I had to do something so I quit tweeking at the first one, and once it’s finally edited, I’m going to solicit publishers.  Yes, I know that’s the wrong way, but at the time, I had the time to write, a story to tell, and it was screaming to get out of me.  So…I wrote.  Everybody who had tried reading it so far has liked it.  Greg is waiting for the final edit before he reads it, I think sometimes he’s afraid to read it for fear it might be awful or he hates it.

In the meantime, that’s what I do when I’m in the mood…write.  I’ve discovered a few things too.  I’m more likely to write late at night.  I’m not going to write when I’m seriously worried about anything.  If I’m stressed, I’m apt to play silly games and wind down before I try to focus on writing.  What kind of games?  I’ll confess–it’s Facebook games.  The best wind down games for me are Mahjong Dimensions, Collapse, and Bejeweled Blitz.  All of those are 1 minute games.

I play some others but they’ve grown rather tiresome: Farmville, Zoo World, Cafe World, Mouse Hunt, Pet World and Yoville.  When they start being more work than working a job, they aren’t fun.  When game developers start changing the rules, it also isn’t so fun.  I had played other games, but I’ve dropped those, and just accept “neighbor” requests and the like for friends who do enjoy them, like all of the aquarium games.  I just don’t have the time and energy to use on them anymore, or maybe my need for diversion is not as intense.  I’m not sure how some of these people have any kind of a life except the games on Facebook though.  I have people on my friend list who must play well over twenty different games, all of which can easily eat an hour a day.  It amazes me!

On the food front, we dined on leftovers served with thick pan fried potatoes.  It was my answer to “I am not turning on the oven today.”  I sliced them (they were small reds) into about 4 slices per potato, laid them out in the skillet, and sprinkled them with Greek seasoning and browned them.  Perfect with the Greek style chicken & veggies.  I ate one of my horded gingerbread biscotti with my coffee this evening and enjoyed every coffee-drenched bite too!  I really should attempt to master making biscotti, it is the one thing I have seldom tried and never succeeded in making, and it shouldn’t be that hard.

On the camping front, I did order two inexpensive backpacks that should be more comfortable than the ones we currently have.  I had Greg put on the one he has, with the normal emergency load it carries, and there is no way he could walk two hours carrying that thing.  It rides entirely wrong on him.  I guess I can’t complain, it wasn’t purchased to do that anyhow, but rather as a pack to use on day hikes and grocery store walks, etc.  It’s fine for that stuff, without much bulk or weight, on either one of us.  With about 20# of stuff in it, it’s useless on him.  MM has one identical to it that I gave her with some emergency supplies.  Emergency preparedness is essential when you live in hurricane country!   It is something I’ve been advocating on the air and on our website for ages.  Check out the pages for it.

There’s a LOT of companies out there that sell emergency preparedness stuff.  There are a lot of books out there that tell you how to do it.  I’ll tell  you, just like most real experts will, that beyond having a few essential items, true survival is really all about mental preparedness.  That means thinking about those “what if’s” and practicing scenarios in your head, so that when the what if scenario really does happen, you are mentally prepared to figure out what your next course of action really should be.  I do some things people think I am a bit nuts for.  I have life jackets in my closet, one for each person and one for each dog.  (Cats, sorry to say, were told to talk nice to the dogs!) You wonder why?  I live surrounded by levees that protect me from water, and I’m talking BIG water.  Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River are neither one to take lightly.  If something should go wrong, I may have little to no time to prepare.  If storm surge should ever hit here, same thing…no time.  Those life jackets are to buy us time, because even though we can all swim, how well can we swim in debris filled water while terrified?  Perhaps in the dark, with howling wind or rain?  I jokingly refer to it as “real flood insurance.”  At least it’s less expensive than “flood insurance” is–I spent under $100 for all of them, and they are good for at least a decade since they are protected from deterioration by UV rays from the sun.

Now you wonder who I actually bought the cheap new backpacks from?  I got them from Be Prepared.com They aren’t expensive ones, and a friend had ordered one from them last year.  Not super well made, I think I can repair any ripping out seams, and I could afford to buy them from this company.  Two internal frame packs, and including shipping, it came in just about $50.  I bought one like the one the friend had, and one less expensive one to take a look at.  If nothing else, I think they will be great additions to the camp gear, able to carry our clothes, etc.  I’m a bit out of shape to consider real backpacking, but I should work on that too.

And moving right along to camping, a few weeks ago, I came across this blog from a young couple who are bicycling around the world, camping most of the time as they do so.  They have already been on the road for over a year, and the blog is an excellent read–it’s the ONLY blog I regularly read and always wonder what is going to be in the next installment.  They have spotty internet connections now that they are in Eastern Europe, but do take a look at it.  I spent an entire weekend enthralled as I read through their first year’s journey.  Over the year, they have improved their blogging immensely, and I’m sure they’ve learned a number of other skills as well.  I highly recommend this blog as a good read as you share Tyler and Tara’s journey with them.

One thing I have been advocating quite loudly, on the air and on our website, is emergency preparedness. It isn’t about an “end-of-the-world” mentality, it is about common sense. We have seen natural disasters in the USA strike over and over again, from Katrina to snow storms, leaving people on their own with no help immediately available. Protect yourself and your family, as well as the lives of your potential rescuers, by being prepared to take care of yourself. No one should be without the essentials for a minimum of THREE DAYS.
It isn’t just about fires, floods, snow, rain, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. It’s about job lay offs, furloughs, unexpected financial woes too. Even emergency evacuations due to chemical spills can cause problems. It can be a neighbor, friend or relative who loses their job or home. Be prepared, for everyone’s sake.