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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Photo Supplement

Today was "youth day" at church, so I took the digital camera along in case Phil did anything chip worthy. Unfortunately the 4s & 5s didn't do anything at all (just the 6-11s), so no church pix.

I wound up taking some photos anyway, at lunch after church and then some more back at home.

Phil was rewarded for last week's good behavior (okay, for responding to threats when his behavior was sub-optimal) with Sunday lunch at Papa's Pizza. The play area shots didn't come out well, but here are a couple others:During our mandatory Sunday Freddy's visit, I got Phil a new pair of shoes (he's already nearing size 11; a couple more and he's in adult sizes -- ok, very small adult, but still...):
Phil is fond of doing the campfire flashlight thing where you put the light below your chin and make scary faces and say "Mwaaah-ha-ha-haaaah!"

Here's how that looks: 1   2   3

So, how was your weekend?

Mikesell : 8:41 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, February 26, 2005

New Blogs I Read

I just added a couple more blogs to the blogroll over to the right and down a ways.

Here's a couple quick links:
Check 'em out.

Mikesell : 11:55 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, February 25, 2005

Philip the Wonder Seal, er, Boy

Phil was watching Ice Age on DVD this evening and called me in to see what he could do.

Now you can see it, too.

Mikesell : 10:35 PM : 0 snarky remarks

In Re: Dark Cloud Press

The other day on my writing blog I mentioned Dark Cloud Press, a new publishing company targeted toward the part of the market to which I hope my novel will appeal. I got an e-mail from them today announcing their new logo (check it out) and a request to spread the word about DCP.

Being a team player -- well, hoping someday to be on the team -- I'm cross-posting to the writing blog entry and suggesting if you haven't already checked them out, do so now.

(To be balanced, I'll probably cross-post on the new workstation over at the writing blog this weekend.)

Mikesell : 8:55 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Brush Your Hair, Clean Your Dentures - It's Time for New Adventures

Pre-school was cancelled yesterday due to the holiday (technically it was never scheduled), so after sleeping late Phil and I headed in to town. Phil's first school holiday.

We got to Gateway Mall (the "green mall" in Philspeak) and bought movie supplies at Target (Jelly Bellies and Bottle Caps). The Rated-E-for-Everyone version of the Incredibles Mac/PC game had dropped $10, so we got that too.

Candy stashed in the various pockets of my jacket we headed down the mall to the dollar theaters (technically, $1.50). Just outside of Target is a market research place where people with clipboards ask if you want to take surveys. Usually I avoid making eye-contact and say no, but this time the girl asked if I wanted to make $23 taking a survey. I said, sure - 23 bucks is 23 bucks. So the deal is they pay you $3 to answer questions regarding snackfood consumption (a topic on which I have plenty of experience), then they send you away with a bag of "new" snackfood ("new" as in yet-to-come-to-market, not as in "not used," although it wasn't that, either) and at the end of the week you call in your opinions and they send you a check for $20. Good deal, and since the new snackfood is put out by Sun Chips I'm thinking theres a better-than-fair chance it won't suck.

So, Phil and I continued down to the theater, bought tickets to The Polar Express (with our newly-acquired $3) and had Mongolian BBQ in the food court. We would have had hot dogs, but the independent vendor that operated out of the food court had gone out of business (along with an independent cookie vendor). As we sat and ate, I noticed that the independents were all having a hard time, even the hippy-dippy smoothie place. Meanwhile the Subway and Carl's Jr. had huge lines (Taco Time and Sbarro were doing well, also). Nice diversity, Eugene. The Mongolian BBQ was good and got Phil to eat some veggies.

Lunch over, we went in to get situated at the theater. Unlike the Heffalump theater, there were maybe 20 people there when we arrived (the place would eventually fill up well over half). About five minutes after we arrived a couple teenagers came in, moved all the way up to the front and started groping. Phil's comment: "This is not a love scene; they shouldn't be doing that." Now that I have blogged this, it'll be online in another dozen years when he's the kid in the front row playing smootchieface.

The Polar Express was good, better than I had expected it to be. I'm not thrilled with the animation, particularly lip/voice syncing, but hopefully as time goes by the technique will improve. Tom Hanks' train-riding hobo was the best; I also liked the conductor's surprise hairstyle.

Movie over, we moved on to Fred Meyer for an hour of unsupervised playtime ... I mean an hour of Phil being supervised by someone other than myself, while I roam free tipping 20 oz. Diet Pepsi bottles to find the winning iTunes caps. I moseyed over to the furniture department where I've been speculating on the notion of an idea of buying a computer workstation for the past month or so. For the past month my laptop has been on a catch-all card table in the computer room. It's worked okay, except for the fact that everything got piled on the table and staking claim to two square feet of it was a daily chore. When the purpose of the table is to catch everything, you can hardly fault it for doing its job; still it wasn't a very good working relationship. That arrangement also meant that I had to do my proofreading over on the couch, balancing loose pages and notebooks in my lap, and then clear another square foot of space to key the changes in. So, in the spirit of new adventures, I bought the table and managed to set it up last night without expressing myself with colorful metaphors (although I'm going to be keeping an eye out for an allen-wrench attachment for my socket set).

Here are a couple pictures:As the second photo shows, the keyboard tray makes a handy space for the laptop when I'm dealing with paper. There are two small shelves on the outside of the the desk legs that are designed for CPU and printer storage, but I've got books and magazines on them. I'm thinking of rigging some hooks to the metal honeycomb grid on the legs and back of the desk store camera and PDA cables when they're not in use. The only disadvantages I've seen so far are that a) the glass desktop was not sprayed with a fingerprint/smudge resistant chemical before it left the warehouse (note to self: buy stock in Windex) and b) the optical mouse doesn't track on glass, so I'm using an old Dell mousepad which clashes with the Apple Powerbook. The glass does dissapate the heat generated by the laptop, so I suppose that's a good tradeoff.

The desk was only half finished when Phil went to bed last night (he went to bed so I could finish the desk without using any colorful metaphors -- he doesn't get the whole "you can help me by not helping me" Zen koan; good thing we're not Buddhists). But he did get one more adventure in before bedtime; I read him An Adventure With Oscar Otter, a favorite pop-up book.

How was your Presidents' Day?

BTW the blog title comes from this Daniel Amos song

Mikesell : 2:53 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Friday, February 18, 2005

I've Been Framed

Last December 1st I downloaded my "winner's" certificate from the NaNoWriMo website. I passed the file along to Dina as she has access to a color inkjet printer and I don't. Before she left yesterday, she presented me with a framed copy, which I hung on the wall beside my PC.

Here are a couple pictures:

Mikesell : 12:53 PM : 0 snarky remarks

15 Free Songs Gone

I noticed last night that Spike by Elvis Costello had been added to the iTunes Music Store. It says it was released 2/8; I double-checked the "Just Added" list and noted that it wasn't there.

I wonder what else has been added that I haven't seen yet. Mark Heard's Satellite Sky? Nope. Dang.

I'm back down to 14 free songs.

Mikesell : 12:02 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Educational Opportunities Abound

Tonight Phil discovered that if he has gas while he's taking a bath it makes bubbles.

And they say kids aren't learning these days.

Mikesell : 11:10 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Private Viewing

Today Dina flew off to Florida for the annual ACA convention. So after we dropped her at the airport, Phil and I ran a couple errands and then went to see Pooh's Heffalump Movie.

We arrived at 1:45p and the next showing was at 1:55p, so we skipped the usual trip to the Target candy aisle for contraband, and went on in (the next movie wasn't until well after 3:00p). I've been to theaters where it's you and a couple other people, but this time it was just the two of us.

The movie was so-so. Carly Simon singing the songs instead of the characters seemed pretty lame to me. The best part came at the end when they showed snippets of Lumpy the Heffalump and the 100 Acre Wood characters playing. I liked the one where Lumpy gets stuck in Rabbit's hole (a la Pooh in the original Milne stories) and all Rabbit's friends and relations come to lend a hand.

I hope reviews of Because of Winn-Dixie are good. We might go see that in the next week or two if it doesn't turn into a downer like My Dog Skip did.

Mikesell : 9:48 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Free Books

Or at least book-like audio recordings. Or an audio recording based on a movie based on a book and another dramatized reading of a book. maybe a short story, I don't know. Hey, they're free.

Today's entry over at The Short of It (a short-story-related blog) has a link to the Thrilling Detective 'zine website where you can get a recording of a Maltese Falcon radio broadcast starring Bogart & Company. (click "listen" on the lurid Maltese Falcon book cover, then save the file to your hard-drive)

And for those of you with iTunes (whether or not you have an iPod, you can still download and listen to iTunes files from your PC/Mac), there's a free dramatized reading of Louis L'Amour's "Merrano of the Dry Country." (Scroll down to the bottom of the initial music store and see the "free downloads" box on the right. Apple updates their "free downloads" every Tuesday; this is the first audiobook I've noticed there. Nab it and maybe they'll give them away more often.)

Mikesell : 5:33 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Monday, February 14, 2005

No Short-Bus Jokes, Please

Bus jokes that are short are fine.

This afternoon Phil took the school bus home from pre-school. He actually started his adventure at around 11:30a, but didn't get dropped off until 12:15p Most kids live one to a long winding street, so it takes awhile. There were still 2-3 kids on the bus when Phil got dropped off; at least he didn't have a lonely ride home. Here are some pix: And the father put down the digital camera and gathered up the boy in his arms. "O frabjous day! Calloo! Callay!" he chortled in his joy ... no, wait, wrong story.

At any rate, it was the boy's first bus ride without his parents. If anyone wants to spot him Greyhound fare, he's ready to come see you now that this milestone has passed.

Mikesell : 3:34 PM : 9 snarky remarks

(Closer to) A Room of My Own

When you start out with a ranking at Amazon, say #234,000, you're not really in 234,000th place. You're in 234,000th place with several hundred other people, you're in a cluster. As I've accrued more "ranking points" my clusters have become smaller and smaller. Right now my rank is 2,142; 23 other Amazon reviewers share this rank.

The next step up is 2,122, a cluster of 20. Clusters seem to be in the 5-20 range from here on up to the 500s. I've got a ways to go yet, but the gradual reduction in space will help me avoid claustrophobia when I (finally!) get a rank all to myself.

Mikesell : 11:38 AM : 2 snarky remarks

Friday, February 11, 2005

New Book Review

I met a guy on one of the websites I hang out on (faith*in*fiction) who had his first novel, Forgiving Solomon Long, published at the beginning of this year. Hoping he'll buy my novel if/when it's published, I bought his (thanks Borders 25% off coupon!), read it, and posted a review over at Amazon.

Why you should read my review of Forgiving Solomon Long: Most of the reviews I write over at Amazon are there because I want ranking points to lift my ranking score. This is one of those few reviews I wrote actually hoping that someone who read it would be influenced to buy the book. Don't wait for it to show up at Goodwill. Don't ask to borrow my copy. Buy the book.

Okay, I also said it was a "breakout" novel, so y'all've got to make that part come true. It'll be good practice for when my "breakout" novel comes out one of these days.

Oh yeah, don't forget to vote ... I still want ranking points even if that wasn't my primary reason for writing the review.

Mikesell : 5:04 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Two Firsts

Today is a day of two firsts.

First the first: I received my One-Thousand-and-First "helpful vote" at Amazon this morning.

First the second: Today was Philip's first day of pre-school. He'll be going three days a week (M/W/F), and will probably start taking the school bus home this Friday or next week. The preschool is located at the Triangle Lake School District campus (K-12 at the same site, although there are multiple school buildings).

Once he gets settled in I'll ask his teacher to take some digital photos, so stay tuned for that.

Mikesell : 3:23 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

You Could Be the One

My "helpful votes" at Amazon has hovered at 999 for the past two days.

So close. So close.

Mikesell : 4:00 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, February 04, 2005

Free Time with Cereal

Do you like Kellogg's cereal? Do you like Spongebob Squarepants & gang? Do you need a new watch? If you answered yes to most of those questions, then check this out.

So far we have watches 2, 3, 5, 6 & 8 (I have Plankton (#3) & Mr. Krabs (#5); Phil has dibs on the rest, though Dina has borrowed #2 a couple times). We're looking for Sandy Squirrel (#7) so Dina can have a watch of her own.

We also have far too much Cinnamon Krunchers cereal. <burp>

Mikesell : 9:51 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Just Working

I meant to blog on this earlier in the week (or late in last week), but it kept slipping my mind when I sat down at the computer....

One of Apple's selling points for their computers is that they "just work." Plug it it in. Get your work done. No fooling with drivers and settings and control panel radio buttons. Plug in, get done. I had two such experiences at the ECCC conference last week with my Apple Powerbook.

As you may recall, there was free wireless internet in the big common room (dining hall/lounge). The first afternoon we were there I pulled out my laptop, powered it on, clicked the Airport icon and got online (I think I had to select their network, but that was it for setup). Meanwhile a woman at the table next to me was becoming increasingly frustrated at her PC laptop and eventually gave up without getting online. (There were plenty of people at the conference who had PCs that were able to get connected (and this woman eventually got hers online), but mine "just working" at the same time the PC so very wasn't brought Apple's slogan to mind.)

The second incident occured two nights before the conference ended when some of the guys wanted to project hunting/fishing slideshows/DVDs on the wall. They started with the projector hooked up to a Dell. After failing to get the projector to recognize the PC (or vice-versa), they tracked down the CD with drivers on it and installed the proper one. Then the PC and projector spoke to each other, but we never could find how to get the PC to switch to "clone view" so what appeared on the screen also appeared on the projector. The projector appeared as a second, adjacent monitor, so we dragged the "picture viewer" program off to the right so it appeared on the projector, made it as large as possible, and manually advanced through the slideshows.

When that was done we hooked my Powerbook up to the projector. We needed to use an adapter to get the projector's VGA plug to work (thanks Jack), but beyond that it was smooth sailing: the projector was immediately recognized and with the push of an F-button on the keyboard switched to clone view. An audio cable from the headphone port to the projector and we were in business. Fishing and hunting videos aren't my thing, but they sure looked good.

So there you have it: my "it just works" stories.

(Someone from Apple, please read this and offer me some goodies in exchange for my testimonial. Thanks!)

Mikesell : 9:20 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Two for a Song

Right now I have three (3) buy-1/get-1-free bottlecaps from the iTunes/Pepsi giveaway.

If you have a music code cap (or three) that hasn't already been entered in and want to swap, let me know. You send me a code. I verify it's good. I put the b1/g1 cap in the mail. Easy as cake.

Yes, I know I could redeem them at the store myself - except that I haven't done that, I've just kept them on top of my PC where they're collecting dust. I'd mail 'em to ya. Really. No "you throw me the idol, I throw you the whip" nonsense. Honest.

Mikesell : 8:10 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Government Freebie

I just e-filed my federal taxes. For FREE!

Here's how you can get in on the scam (it's actually not a scam, but for the sake of feeling like you're getting away with something, play along):

Go to the scam site (it's actually not a scam site, it's the IRS ... come to think of it, maybe it is a scam site after all).

Read the info, and if you feel comfortable e-filing your federal return (and not paying for it), click the "Start Now" button.

Then select an e-filer from the list provided. The organization seems to be randomized so at some point they'll all show up at the top of the list; you might want to scan through until you find a service that you're comfortable with. I chose a service I'd used before, actually having paid them to file my federal/state returns in previous years. (oooh, I scammed 'em good this year!)

Then go through the process of filling out the info on the site of your choice and send it in. If it's a site you've used before, some of the information may be able to be forwarded from previous filings. A fee may apply for state returns, but you should be given the option of not filing the state paperwork through whichever service you've chosen. I chose to e-file the state because 1) now it's done and B) the refund be directly deposited in the bank. Maybe you can get direct deposit with a paper return these days - I don't know - if so, see point 1, above.

Now the waiting game begins ... has the refund been deposited yet?

How 'bout now?

Mikesell : 6:55 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Another Borders/Waldenbooks Coupon

Save twenty-five cents on the dollar at the heartless corporate non-Starbucks-selling bookstores with this coupon.

Then print out another and do it again (or as many times as you want before 2/10; U.S. cheapskates only).

Mikesell : 3:18 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Three More California Phil Pix

Before we left my folks' place, we took some pictures of them with Phil. They look like this:

Mikesell : 1:41 PM : 0 snarky remarks