Archive | November, 2008

November Snows

November 17, 2008

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I hope you aren’t sick of my snow photos– it’s only November! But I love the snow. For the first four months or so, anyway. After January, it gets kinda old.

But right now it’s November, and we’re getting snow today! It’s so cozy. The coffee is fresh, the furnace is humming, the kitten is snuggled in her blanket, and the kids are busy pushing their pencils (math and history today). The only thing that would make the day more complete would be a turkey in the oven. But that will have to wait until next week! I can, however, bake an apple pie, today, hmmm.

November Snow

Warm Fuzzies

She got up shortly after my photo to look at the snow. See how big she’s getting? Unbelievable!

Livvy Peeking Thru Blinds

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What’s Inside the Keyboard?

November 15, 2008

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Have you ever wondered what your computer keyboard looks like inside? I have. Today I decided to open it up and check it out.

It all started when I saw Apple’s new Aluminum Ultra-Thin keyboard. Oh, it’s a beautiful looking thing. I like flat keyboards. Because I sit at a computer all day, I’m quite fussy about my keyboard (and mouse). The Apple is a little beyond my price range ($80 at BestBuy, $50 from Apple) and I’m not sure how it would function with a PC, so I am waiting for a Windows thin keyboard. I’d read that you can take your own keyboard apart and make your own flat one. I don’t necessarily want a flat shell, I want flat keys– that’s why I like the Apple so much– the keys are shaped like Scrabble tiles, only thinner. It’s very nice to use.

Well, all this dwelling on keyboards brought out the screwdriver and camera. We took apart a very old HP keyboard that went to our Windows ME we got almost ten years ago now. My, how time flies!

keyboard 1

keyboard 2

Inside the plastic shell are three layers of plastic. Two of the layers are very thin sheets. The top protective layer rests on top of the key matrix, which has small gold dots and lines. The electronc pulses course through the lines and dots. They are activated when you press down the keys.

keyboard 3

keyboard 5

Behind all this is a thicker layer of rubbery plastic with small plastic pads. The pads are directly correlated to the keys above and the gold dots on the key matrix. This kind of HP keyboard is a rubber dome switch kind. It resembles bubble wrap, in a way, but the plastic is more rubbery and the little domes are firmer. When you press on a key while typing, a small mechanism pushes these little rubber domes down. It works as a plunger to touch the point on the key matrix layer. Your computer registers it all as letters, numbers, and symbols. Pretty amazing, huh?

keyboard 4

Some geeks have used only the key matrix as their keyboard. They keep the circuitry intact (I dismantled mine, so that I could see it all in pieces). Then they plug in their flat keyboard and press the gold dots with their fingertips.

keyboard 6

I can’t see how a homemade flat keyboard would be very comfortable. I don’t mind the shell, it’s the shape and size of the actual keys that matter to me. But after this, my curiosity was sated! Cool, huh?

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Isn’t She Too Young For This?

November 14, 2008

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My kitty Olivia has discovered……. ooo how I hate to admit it…. she’s discovered the delights of TOILET PAPER! Nooooooooooooo! One of my daughters walked in the bathroom to see this:

Livvy Discovers Paper 1

Livvy Discovers Paper 2

I did wonder when she’d get around to it. She’d been eyeing the toilet paper mechanism for about a week now. *SIGH* My other cats never did this (not that I recall anyway), but there’s something about Livvy that makes you think she’s going to be a handful. And she has now proved it. She’s only 3.5 months old!! Isn’t that too young to be ransacking the house?!

She already stalks the cockatiel, runs and jumps (with claws fully extended) onto an unsuspecting person’s back, and eats carpet fuzz.

Livvy Discovers Paper 3

But she’s so durn cute. Sheesh.

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They Caught Their Man

November 12, 2008

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I drove my husband to work very early this morning (4:30am) and on the way to the city, we saw several police cars parked on the side of the road. Policemen were walking around with flashlights and one had a German shepherd on a leash. Living near a city has its advantages, but this isn’t one of them — the police were obviously searching for a fugitive. It’s happened a little too often around here, lately.

Armed with the knowledge of a fugitive running around the area, driving into the city was kind of creepy. The streets were empty except for a few cars (crazy people who have to be at work so early in the morning!), and, believe it or not, quite a number of pedestrians on the sidewalks. After dropping my husband off at his workplace, I considered going back home through that same route. The curiosity was burning in me– what happened? Did the cops get their guy yet? What had he done? It was so tempting to go back there! But… I resisted. It would be dumb. And for all I knew, maybe the police would have the road blocked, and I’d wind up having to double-back and drive twice as far to get home again. So I went a different route. On the way, a police SUV passed me. We were the only two drivers on the road at that time. As he passed, the cop gave me a very close and uncomfortable inspection. Hey, officer, I didn’t do anything wrong!!! Why was he looking at me so funny?!

Later that morning when the news got rolling, I read that the police had locked down all the schools in the area and cancelled all activities, because they believed the fugitive was “armed and dangerous.” I just cannot imagine what it must be like to be a student in this day and age of lockdowns, shootings, and other terrors (not to mention the horror of living without universal health insurance! Oh the disgrace!). The cops even had police helicopters combing the area. Really, wow, those poor kids.

Well, I read in the news tonight that the cops (finally) got their guy this evening. It was a young man who had been wasting his life away at a bar last night, got into an argument, and stole a vehicle with an alleged shotgun in it. The jerk crashed the car on the road shortly before my husband and I passed by at 4:30am, and that’s where the police were looking. The guy was eventually discovered in another town, about 11 miles away.

Apparently, the guy has had some major problems with the law in the past: he and a gang beat up a woman earlier this year, and he was arrested for cocaine possession a few weeks ago. I am flabbergasted that he was walking free. Beat a woman and get off?? I hate to read about young people destroying their lives. 🙁 Hopefully he will learn his lesson. I have a feeling he’s going to see some jail time with this.

On the news story online, the website allows for comments. Referring to the part where the cops were still searching and unable to find the fugitive, one guy commented, “they would have a better chance of capturing him if they let the hockey moms out after him.” ROFL! So I’m glad they caught him. And I’ve had enough excitement for the day!

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Is the House Floor Plan Software Worth It?

November 11, 2008

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I’ve always preferred drawing my house plans and ideas on graph paper, by hand. As much as I love the computer, and as much as I have incoporated a lot of my tasks to it, I just can’t seem to leave the age-old tradition of graph paper and pencil (and for me, a big eraser). I have seen some pretty fancy computer software in stores recently, that promise to help you design, plan, envision, and do everything for your home plans. I tried one of these programs, about 10 years ago, and I hated it. Software has come a long way, I know, but… is the software really worth it? Has anyone tried it and liked it?

The software is pricey, too– I’ve seen it listed for over $50 and some is as high as $100. Consider that when you realize that graph paper is $3 for 50 sheets, and pencils are just pennies (and if you are really cheap, you can always grab some of those promotional pens that businesses give away, for free).
The only problem with hand-drawing a floor plan are the multitudes of changes that you make on the paper. I like my plans to look neat; and a paper can only take so much erasing. So I have drawn tons and tons of floor plans, each with various changes. I’ve lost track of them all. :S Software has the benefit of instantly saving everything. But the software programs just don’t seem to be precise enough, unless things have changed and programs have realy improved. I have to recreate another floor plan for my first floor and I’m dreading having to draw it all over again. But on the other hand, I really wonder if software will be accurate and if I can learn the program quickly enough. What do you think?

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Seasonal Tune Up

November 10, 2008

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This is the time all my domain names and web hosting renews. It’s also the time of year that I try to do a “review and refresh”: that is, I go through my blogrolls, check my template for errors, spruce up my database, and shop around for webhosting companies. I’ve been doing quite a lot of the latter lately. I recently purchased a new domain (more coming up on that later), and I’m wondering if I should add it to one of my existing web hosts or find another.

It’s wise not to pack all your domains with one host. I use two different hosts, but I’d still like to have another. You see, if one host has server problems, usually ALL your blogs on the host go down too (and I HATE that!). With my two-host plan, I can at least have one account up while the other is having technical problems. Of course, having a selection of various web hosts can be a little expensive. That’s why I shop around! One of my favorite sites to keep tabs on prices, new hosting companes, reviews, and other geeky-like articles is WebHostingGeeks.com. They have the best- by far– listing of companies and price guidelines. And I like to browse their articles on understanding SEO, which is something new I’m learning about and trying to improve for my blog.

WebHostingGeeks.com is the best! If you are dabbling into web hosting, or just curious about the topic before you delve in, this is definitely a site to check.

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Funny Church Signs

November 10, 2008

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My daughter sent me this video. It is so funny! It is a slideshow of hilarious signs outside churches. It’s nice to know that so many Christians have such a great sense of humor. Man oh man, these are so much fun! Be prepared– have nothing in your mouth while watching this, that is, unless you WANT to have it come shooting out your nostrils. Hehehe.

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Can’t Get a Skylight?

November 10, 2008

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This is a totally, totally amazing gadget! Can’t install a skylight because you don’t want to hack a hole in your roof? Get a virtual one!

skylight

It’s called the Ambient SkyCeiling. It’s actually an LED panel (some are flourescent), and they illuminate the images from behind. They are absolutely gorgeous! I think they’d be neat for Upstate New York, where skies are almost always cloudy and dull. Imagine coming in to the house and having sunshine and a bright blue sky over your head! And so bright! You wouldn’t need lamps to read your personalized books by. Nice.

Of course, they are pricey- this one is $50 a square foot. And then there’s the cost of energizing it. But still, pretty cool.

Photo courtesy of Sky Factory.

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Preparing for Winter

November 10, 2008

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There’s a cold front expected to blow this way this week in New York. We haven’t quite finished our winter preparation, and boy we’d better finish it before it snows! As I was thinking of our list, I thought it would be nice to blog about it. Maybe my list will give you some ideas, and perhaps you have some ideas that would help me that you could leave in the comments.

1. Rake the leaves.

Why do we bother raking all those leaves?! Leaves on the grass suffocate the grass. You don’t want to kill your turf, because weeds will take its place. We used to have a beautiful front lawn of green turf, but one year I didn’t rake, and then a few years we had massive flooding (which covered the grass with silt and weeds seeds). Now my yard is all weeds and I am trying to get the turf back.

2. Turn off all outdoor hoses.

The hoses must be turned off (most houses have a turn-off valve in their basement). If you don’t the water will freeze and the pipes will burst. Yeah, that happened to us one year, too. Oops. In New York, it’s very hard to remember this– we might have snow and bear-freezing temps for a week or two, but then the temperatures will bounce back up to the mid-60s and stay that way for a few weeks. We might still need the hose, for washing the cars, cleaning out the wheelbarow, etc. And then, BLAMMO, a hard freeze. I just hate having to turn off the water… but I hate replacing burst pipes even more.

3. Take down small gutters.

We have a small gutter system in the front of the house. And our house has a gabled roof with two steep pitches. All the water and snow from the front of the house careens down that pitched valley, right in front of the steps. I have NO IDEA why the home builder did this. In order to walk up the front steps to get to the door, you have to pass by this 3-foot by 10-foot icicle that stands next to the steps. That icicle takes our gutter system down every year (usually in the middle of night). So now, we remove it.

4. Clean up the garden beds. Make note of any new plants you’ve put in.

I have the kids weed the vegetable garden before winter. And then we dead-head just about everything. It looks nicer in the winter, and in the spring. And it makes us more motivated to get the garden thing rolling when the snows melts. Who wants to start a garden when you have to clean up the sloppy, watery winter mess? And I also have this problem of forgetting what new plants and bulbs I’ve planted. When spring rolls around, unless I’ve made notes of what I planted and where, Ihave forgotten; I practically have to do DNA testing to see if it’s a weed that must be pulled or a new plant I can leave.

5. Place outdoor furniture and appliances in storage.

Sounds like a no-brainer, but I have actually forgotten to do it. We have a barbeque, six chairs and a table, a lawn mower, countless games and toys, and more… winter preparation occurs at a busy time for me (school starts, insurance recertification process, the holidays, etc) and I forget. I have found that if I have the kids survey the entire yard, and then I take the time to do it once, we manage to tidy the yard and garage before snow hits.

6. Make sure your winter tools are working– BEFORE the big Nor’easter hits.

Our shovels used to last us a good 6-7 years. Now it seems they break every year. Is it cheaper manufacuring?! Nonetheless, I have to check all our shovels and make sure they work. It’s nasty to have 5 feet of snow in one day and not have a working shovel in the place. Same thing goes for boots, gloves, etc.

Those are the main things I do before winter hits with all its force. How about you? Got any tips?

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Is It a Cat… or a Pig?!

November 9, 2008

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This cat is going to eat me out of house and home, I tell ya.

I’ve never given my other cats canned cat food. But Olivia is my *BAY-BEE* and she’s spoiled. Well, Olivia has discovered that Friskies isn’t as good as “people food”! My daughter made the mistake of not standing up to eat her meal– Livvy was right there to munch from her plate. This was, by the way, after Livvy had eaten her large breakfast of yummy canned Friskies and Kit n’ Kaboodles dry cat food. I had a front row, home theater seating show– I whisked out my camera and caught it all on tape! When she’s older I’m going to show her how young and foolish she was as a kid! (the cat, not the daughter).

*mew* I want some, too!

Hungry Cat 1

Please?? PWWWEEEASE?!

Hungry Cat 2

I’m a growing kitten! I need my nutrition. Bagels are loaded with nutrition!

Hungry Cat 3

Finally! nomnomnom

Hungry Cat 5

(two seconds later)

More? *bats eyes and mews pitifully*

Hungry Cat 4

Ahhhhhhh. Yum. *burp*

Hungry Cat 6

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