Archive | September, 2009

Rules of Thumb

September 29, 2009


I’ve been seeing that “mythbusters” and other such shows and websites are very popular these days. Looks like there’s an ample market for it, judging by the urban legends and other wacko stories that clog my email inbox every day. :S

I found a cute website called Rules of Thumb that some of you readers may enjoy. It’s basically a website of stories, trivia, and myth-busting facts about commonly-believed ideas. I like how the site is compiled, and they also inject healthy doses of history in with their tales.

A rule of thumb is a homemade recipe for making a guess. It is an easy-to-remember guide that falls somewhere between a mathematical formula and a shot in the dark. A farmer, for in­stance, knows to plant his corn when oak leaves are the size of squirrels’ ears. An economics profes­sor knows from sad experience that inviting more than 25 percent of the guests for a univer­sity dinner party from the economics depart­ment ruins the conversation. Rules of thumb are a kind of tool. They help you appraise a problem or situation. They make it easier to consider the subtleties of the topic at hand; they give you a feel for a subject.

A hundred years ago, people used rules of thumb to make up for a lack of facts. Modern­ day rule of thumbing is rooted in an overabun­dance of facts. The average person, confronted with the Internet’s oceans of data and multiple overlapping Ph.D. dissertations, often is as perplexed as a pioneer chemist trying to whip up a little gun­powder without a formula. A pilot in a tight spot doesn’t ask questions about aeronautical en­gineering; a pilot in a tight spot asks “now what?” There are times when you don’t need to know the best way to do something. These are times for ballpark figures, for knowing what you probably can get away with.

some things are kind of cute. Like this one:

Try this: Count the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, and add 37. No, you didn’t just calculate your age in cricket years – you measured the temperature outdoors in degrees Fahrenheit. You just used a rule of thumb.

I do take issue with the statement: “A hundred years ago, people used rules of thumb to make up for a lack of facts.” I don’t see where this has ended; people still use rules of thumb to make up for lack of facts! I mean, look at evolution! Now THAT’s one urban legend I love to see dismissed. 😉

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Ethernet Cabling vs. Wireless Internet

September 28, 2009

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When I gutted and rewired my living room, I installed ethernet cabling (four jacks for the perimeter of the room). It was an added expense to an already very tight budget, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway. The work wasn’t difficult, but it required me to study up to make sure I was doing it correctly, and the parts and components are pricey (it cost me an additional $100 to rig up four jacks in one room).

Cat5 jack wired

Modular Face Plate

And BOY am I ever glad I did! You see, I’ve been struggling with our wireless connection and security here are the homestead, and the constant hassles drive me NUTS. My kids have laptops upstairs, and of course there’s no ethernet cabling upstairs (heck, there’s hardly any electricity upstairs yet!). So we rely on wireless for their machines. Their laptops are old and new, with a mix of Windows XP, Vista, and Linux Xandros. I am the chief IT person for the family… and the CONSTANT hair-pulling problems with wireless have me screaming in frustration sometimes!

(If you need a well-written article on the properties and differences between ethernet and wireless, see this very good post here at

Of course, you don’t need to have ethernet cables inside the wall cavities to work. You can buy ethernet cables at any store, and plug them in to your router and string them across your room to the computers. But there are a few problems with that, obviously:

  • You can only buy cables less than 100 feet long, or your connection quality diminishes.
  • You have cables hanging all over the place.
  • You can’t string the cables across windows and doorways.
  • It all looks just darn ugly .

Well, I have decided that I am going to install ethernet cabling in EVERY room in this house, once we gut it. The problems with the wireless system is driving me crazy! Not to mention that having wireless can cause security problems within your network. EVERY network should be secure (see this post about securing your wireless network), but wireless security is an oxymoron. Hackers are figuring out how to get past the encryption codes to get onto your network, where they can make all sorts of trouble and even get you into trouble with the law. So, essentially, a completely wired system is best. And that’s what I’m doing when I can. Wired is better!

P.S. Remember, before you undertake any project with electricity, or go tearing out your home’s walls, check with a professional and be thoroughly read-up on the projects. Some older homes have toxins like asbestos, lead, etc– Take extra precautions to know what you are doing, and to be safe in doing it! 😀

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A Cool DIY Fly Trap

September 25, 2009


I forgot to post about this earlier in the summer, when the bugs were proficient. Still, bugs are bugs and they are a nuisance. While surfing blogs and finding loads everything from DIY maple syrup making to whatever, I found a really nifty DIY fly trap. It’s at a neat DIY blog, ecobites. This would probably make a terrific home craft project for the kids. And I am all for repelling/zapping pests without the use of chemicals, pesticides, and those horribly sticky fly-ribbons.


See the site for detailed instructions. Very cool!

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Find the Kitty Friday for 9/25

September 25, 2009


Find the Kitty Friday

Can you Find the Kitty! 😉 You may need to enlarge the photo for a closer look.

Find the Kitty 12

P.S. Yes, this is my messy office where all the amazing stuff happens. :-p Although, my desk is somewhat hidden in this photo. And I have rearranged furniture AGAIN. 😀

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A Room’s Best Friend

September 23, 2009

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I whole-heartedly believe that a room’s best friend– especially an older home with lots of old rooms with old floors– are high-quality area rugs. I just LOVE area rugs. They conceal a floor’s many blemishes and unevenness, and look so classy at the same time. I am not a big fan of wall-to-wall carpeting. I used to like it, and it does have a warming effect during our long, cold winters here in Upstate New York… but wall-to-wall carpets are difficult to clean, bland, rather ugly, and require professional installation (or advanced DIY skills). I much prefer area rugs. Whether the house is old or new, area rugs just ooze CLASS and beauty.

I think rugs are a room’s best friend. Rugs add warmth, style, and comfort to a room. Area rugs are an excellent choice for all types of flooring.

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Flossing Foibles Solved

September 22, 2009

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I am a FIEND when it comes to dental hygiene. I nag nag nag my kids to brush and floss, constantly. You see, I didn’t when I was a kid, nor did we see a dentist, so by the time I was 20 years old, my teeth were a disaster. I went through a lot of suffering because I hadn’t taken care of my teeth as a girl. I am a freak when it comes to brushing, now, and I make SURE that my kids do the same.

They are all good brushers, but when it comes to flossing…. the boys are not too keen on it.. It’s a tedious, boring task, I know. But still, it must be done! I try to give the kids every thing I can to make the task a little less tedious.

One cool tool I have discovered is DenTek’s Fun Flossers. Even my older kids like them! They have a strip of floss on a colorful, grippy handle, and are angled to reach all the teeth– they are the perfect kids floss tool. So even the boys will use them. It took some haggling to convince them— we made a cute video about our Flossing Foibles… take a peek! It looks like the Fun Flossers really are fun!

Now isn’t that cute!! The kids have such a good sense of humor!!

Check out DenTek. Kids like colorful (and easy to do) stuff, so if you’ve been having a hassle getting them to floss, DenTek will help!

Remember, I’m a pro-blogger and I am sometimes compensated with stuff or money to review products! This was one of them. You can read more about my blog policy on my “About Us” page.

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The First Find the Kitty Friday

September 18, 2009


My Find the Kitty posts, as goofy as they are (since the kitty is so easily discovered in most cases), have become somewhat popular. So I decided to make Find the Kitty a meme! Feel free to post your own Find the Kitty photos for Fridays. Look I even made a banner for it!


Here’s the latest. Can you Find the Kitty? 😉

Find the Kitty 11

If you are interested in playing along with the meme, you can download this little banner for your own use. If you are handy with Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, you can even add a cute photo of your own kitty to the banner. 🙂 You can link back to here if you like: Find the Kitty Friday.


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How To Win a Bet Every Time…

September 17, 2009

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Got some extra nails laying around after that remodeling project? I found this video and it is amazing! LOL!!! How to balance ten nails on one nail head. Very cool!

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My Bread Machine Broke AGAIN

September 16, 2009

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I don’t know WHAT it is with me and kitchen appliances! They hate me! It doesn’t help that I *tend* to get the cheapo stuff– but I am getting better at that! Well, my one-year old bread machine broke, in same area as the last one- with the seal ring that holds the paddle at the bottom; it came out. I knew it was acting up when the last batch of dough had a ton of lubricating grease in it, from the paddle area. YUK. Will someone please tell me why bread machines have paddles at the bottom of the dough bucket?! They wear out so quickly, and the dirty, greasy spindle is in direct contact with the bread dough. My daughter brought up an interesting point: Why don’t they make bread machines with the paddle at the top? That way, the rotating mechanism won’t touch the dough; only the paddle will touch the dough.

😐 Yeah, why don’t they?!

I responded, “Well, honey, what you’d have then is a stand mixer.”

And then I thought: HEYY!!! Maybe that’s what I should get! I checked out the sales going on at, and whittled it down to two choices (I think): either get a heftier bread machine, or try a stand mixer for making dough. Both look good, and I can’t decide.


So I’m asking your advice. I need a bread machine to make dough– I don’t make bread with the machine, only dough. But do mixers make good dough? Do they perform well? I’ve also heard of horizontal bread machines; do they make good dough, are the paddles at the bottom?

Stand mixers are another matter– holy cow, the Kitchen Aid are upwards of $200, 300 bucks! I found a nice Sunbeam Stand Mixer for $135 and free shipping. (I love!!!) If the mixer is a better appliance (I can do more things with it besides making dough), the money spent would be worth it.

If you have any opinion on either bread machines or mixers, please leave me a comment. I need to get something soon, before Thanksgiving. Thanks!!

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Remuddling, In Which I Feel Better…

September 15, 2009


….about my own home’s plight.

“Remuddling” is a term that I think was first coined by the magazine editors of Old House Journal. It was a section at the very back of the magazine, a one-page photo and description of a house, submitted by a reader. It was my favorite part of the magazine, because it always makes me feel SO MUCH BETTER about my home. Mu home has absolutely been remuddled– from the asbestos-cement siding slapped on top of the original Greek Revival wood siding, to the plumbing pipes held up by garbage bag twisty-ties… but there are definitely worse out there! And it’s a little comforting to be aware of that fact!

Here are some photos I found off the web, in case you are feeling a little “down” about your home, too.

Yes, this A-frame addition is attached to the house. Wow.

From That Home Site.

Whoa. This one sure needs to trim down a bit!


From Ugly House Photos.

From Country Joy Crafts.


From Old House Journal.

There’s something called the “ignorance is bliss” when it comes to homebuying– unless the home has been completely updated and modernized CORRECTLY, you can thank God for the “ignorance is bliss”– that is, that no one remodeled (remuddled) the home up until you bought it. My house is something like that. The siding is bad, and the plumbing and wiring and flooring and kitchen are all atrocious… but the rest of the house has been left alone. All in 1855 condition! :S A mixed blessing to be sure. But at least I won’t have to undo someone else’s messes… not entirely, anyway.

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