Archive | March, 2011

OH. NO.

March 31, 2011

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What the heck is this?!??!

Sheesh! And I saw robins today, for the first time this season!!! Man!

Come on, winter, end already! Nobody wants you around!

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Home Entertainment Ideas

March 31, 2011

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Is it any surprise that home entertainment has made tremendous advances in the past ten years. Remember WAY BACK when, about 15 years ago, when we all had one of these?

But now, there are these:

Yow. I have the first TV but certainly not the second. Actually, I’d purchased a newer, fancier model with a flat screen just a few years ago, only to be completely outdated by the plasma, HDTV, super fancified models. I feel so old.

TV really isn’t all that important to us. I still have a barebones tube TV (we picked it up off the curb, for pete’s sake), but I have a very high-end, high octane computer and an iPad for watching stuff. It’s all a matter of priorities.

As a family, we like to watch DVDs and Internet documentaries during dinner, but since we have no television reception, we are limited to watching movies on my small laptop screen. I’ve been investigating my choice for a few months (I take forever to make sure decisions), and am leaning more toward optimization-world.com HDMI cables or a converter to rig the laptop to the TV. Getting the cables or converter at Optimization-World.com is WAY cheaper than buying a digital TV. They also sell nice VGA cables for computer to monitor connections.

So I’m pleased as punch that there are affordable options out there for old fogies like me. 😀 Maybe I’ll even write a tutorial once I finally get the ball rolling on the project….

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Finding Good CFL Bulbs

March 29, 2011

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The Old House Journal has a terrific article at oldhouseweb.com/blog/how-to-find-energy-efficient-bulbs-that-dont-suck-nutrition-facts-for-light-bulbs.

Starting in January 2011 light bulbs are required to be labeled with lumens, watts, kelvins and efficacy. Greek to you too? Not worry. The label is now clear, easy to understand and full of fun colors.

It’s good news to me. Here in New York State, we will be forced to use only CFLs (or LEDs) for lighting. I have discovered that not all CFLs are created equal, and have often wondered why the differences seems so enigmatic. I had no idea about kelvins and lumens and all that jazz. I recently purchased some “full spectrum” bulbs for our desk lamps, in the hopes that these bulbs would give us a little energy perk and cheer up our spirits on the gloomy days that New York often suffers. I’d heard that full spectrum bulbs simulate sunlight and therefore help improve mood and make you faster than a speeding bullet and etc. Honestly, I don’t rely on light bulbs to cure diseases! But if full spectrum bulbs give us a little psychological boost, then, hey- why not? Honestly, I can’t say I have noticed a huge difference. Maybe. I’m a pretty chipper person, anyway, especially when I’m at my desk. 😀

Anyway, now we have a little guide for choosing CFLs. I like it. Here’s what Old House Journal said:

1. Bedroom and Living Room: Pick a bulb in the “yellow” range as close to 2700K as you can get.

2. Garage, Basement, Laundry and Utility Room: These are rooms where mimicking the sun is okay. So, look for bulbs in the “white” range and have a high color temperature of about 5800K. Don’t go too much higher than that or you’ll end up in the ugly “blue” range.

3. Computer Screen: There is a great free program I use called F.lux. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

For more specific information, see the lightingfacts.com/Downloads/Performance_Scale.pdf U.S. Department of Energy’s CFL lighting facts chart (opens as a pdf document).

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Incandescent vs. CFLs

March 28, 2011

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In 2012, sales of incandescent light bulbs in New York State will be illegal. The bulbs nominated to fill the void: Compact Fluorescent Lights, or CFLs. The government’s Energy Star website says that CFL bulbs use “75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer.”

Honestly, I’ve been using CFL bulbs for certain rooms, and I haven’t seen any big difference between them an incandescent bulbs; CFLs may last a LITTLE longer than incandescent, but NO WAY not 10 times longer. Maybe 1.5 times. As a matter of fact, I filled my living room chandelier with CFL bulbs in December, and already one has blown. :-p These suckers are pricey, too. No one ever says that they COST 20 times more than incandescent. If you know of a website that offers some statistics, I’m curious.

Anyway, I’m mainly against CFLs because they contain mercury, one of the most toxic neurotoxins known to man. Currently, there is no system for disposal of the bulbs that we will all be forced to use. Oh, there are a whopping total of THREE recycling centers in New York State (all near Albany) that accept CFLs from residents only (at the time of this writing, to my knowledge). But what are homeowners to do with burned-out CFLs? Throw them in the trash for the landfills? Imagine all the mercury polluting the environment, seeping into the water system. Ugh.

Some experts recommend that we save all our CFLs until the state figures out how to dispose of them all.

Uh, hello? We are supposed to stash old bulbs in bags under our beds until you guys figure out what to do with them?! You mean you didn’t have this all planned out BEFORE you passed such a law?

*rolls eyes*

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

How about you? Is your state regulating CFLs? Do you see a noticeable difference between them and the incandescents?

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Find the Kitty Friday, Saturday Night Edition 3.26

March 26, 2011

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OOPS. Friday escaped me again. Holy cow, Saturday is nearly gone and done!!

The kids and I started a bit of spring cleaning on Thursday and Friday (even though spring temperatures are NOWHERE in sight right now, lol!!!)

Well, as is her custom, when we are up and about and doing things, Livvy must pitch in. When we washed the little fridge, she thought she’d inspect the work.

FTK 3.26No1

She spent quite a bit of time inspecting the interior. This is her Friskies box, you see. It’s a tiny thing, but it’s very convenient to have a second fridge.

FTK 3.26No2

She also hopped into the big fridge, but by the time I got to the camera, she had seen enough. It smelled too much of vegetables and onions, I suppose.

So what do your kittehs do when you clean the house? Do they try to pitch in?

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Domestic Cat Chart

March 24, 2011

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I stumbled across a really neat chart recently. It’s the Domestic Cat Chart. It’s a guide to housecat coats and colors. VERY COOL! Where does your kitty add up? You can check out the flickr.com/photos/74875296@N00/5557665456/sizes/l/in/photostream image. Click on the largest size possible to read all that print.

I’m sorry, I can’t remember where I found the chart. 🙁 I would link to it if I knew. If you own the original site and want attribution for the chart, please leave me a comment. I’d love to give you credit!

I guess Livvy is a “mackerel” print. She’s half Siamese, half tabby. She’s got a lot of the Siamese personality (she’s like a family member– very lovey and personable), but she has inherited a bit of the tabby look.

Livsnow4

She had a lot of white to her when she was a baby. OH how I miss those days.

Scratch Post 1

Here’s a good photo of her mackerel stripes. I don’t think she would mind being compared to a fish. Not as long as she could eat some for dinner, too.

TheChairThief

This is her Sphinx look. SO Siamese.

siamsphinx

My baby is special. 😀 And I love her to little bits.

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Find the Forlorn Kitty Friday 3/18

March 19, 2011

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Poor Livvy. Photo taken two weeks ago, when we had a snowstorm that dumped 22″ on us. It took the kids ALL DAY to shovel. It was wet, heavy snow fueled from the Gulf of Mexico, not the delicate lake effect snow that we usually get. Livvy was a wreck that day. The house was soooo quiet. She sat by the back door, waiting for the kids to return.

Livvywaitingforkids

OK OK I know I’m a little late (again) with the Find the Kitty this week. I just can’t seem to catch up on my schedule. I’m struggling to maintain all that I have to do AND still cook and clean. Unfortunately, the cleaning has had to go. My house looks like a tornado hit it. It’s unnerving, because I am a neat freak. I’ve never had such a messy house. :-p I’m seriously thinking of hiring a band of housecleaners for a few weeks.

We never really got settled in after the renovation. We just dumped all the boxes and furniture back into the house and left everything there. I have been waiting for a few days off to be able to organize everything, but it just ain’t happening, folks.

Oh well, spring has only just started… here’s hoping I can squeeze some time in!

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Real Estate Still Best Investment

March 19, 2011

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I still think real estate is the best investment you can make in the United States. I don’t care what the doomsayers are saying about the housing market. The brokers are biting their nails to shreds, worried that they can’t get Americans to buy buy buy this year. I read some news story (sorry, I can’t locate it the exact article now, nuts) that the U.S. housing market is at its worst in decades. But then I read local stories from around the country where their housing market (and economy) is just fine.

Fargo, North Dakota, is actually seeing a boon. usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2011-03-16-north-dakota-census_N.htm USA Today reports that the population and economy has surged to record levels. I’ve read similar stories for a few other areas, too.

But here in the Rust Belt, the economy is poor because of TAXES not because of lack of home buyers. The mathematics of trying to sustain a top-heavy public sector by an over-taxed, aging private sector always pans out to be a negative. It’s still too early to tell if any of these states (New York, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, etc) will really change their ways. So people are “voting with their feet.”

But the folks who are left are snapping up the properties left behind (although, in urban areas, the governments are buying vacant properties). I was recently talking with an acquaintance who has– in the last 5 years— purchased a dozen properties. He’s rented them all out and become a landlord. And he’s been so successful that he no longer needs to work his regular job anymore. That’s pretty neat.

As for me, I’m just “small fry.” I like owning one home (I have enough to do around here!) but if I ever got a windfall with money left over, I’d probably invest in real estate. I’d probably rent it out to tenants or even as a vacation home (according to Forbes, vacation rental properties are VERY hot right now, especially in cities). It’s an interesting shift.

So I don’t give a whole lot of weight to the constant nay-saying that the housing market and US economy (which is built on the housing market) is going under. People are just shifting priorities. People don’t need to constantly build build build new houses. I am very much in favor of making do with the houses we have. 🙂 So the “house-building boom” of the late 1990s is over. That doesn’t spell the end of the world. There’s a WHOLE market out there of renovators, people who want to fix up their old homes and spark the economy in that way. But sales and income taxes are too high in some areas. Let’s see what happens….

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The Kitty Finders

March 15, 2011

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Oh yeah, Find the Kitty. I left you in terrible suspense on Friday, didn’t I? Haha! Lin just can’t contain herself– WHERE’S Livvy? Were your guesses correct?!?!

Sorry if I haven’t been around. Since I got some new wheels, I’ve been zipping around town with my newfound FREEDOM, baby! Booyah!!! We have a travel vehicle once again! I think it would be SO cool. I actually will be getting some New York Traveler t-shirts for us to wear when we visit museums and such. 😀

OK OK enough teasing. 😀 Here’s the original photo of Livvy.

livisland1

She’s hiding here. Under the island.

livisland2

Please excuse the dust bunnies. They are taking over the house. :-p

livisland3

She literally SQUEEZED under the island. It was funny watching her. I only had a split second to snap a photo with the cell phone, so that’s why it’s a little blurry.

So you guys were RIGHT!!!!! You’re all professional kitty finders, you are!

When it comes to getting promo stuff, I REALLY ought to market the cat. I think she’s more popular on the Internet than I am. :-p

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Very Cool Signs!

March 15, 2011

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Besides being a clock freak, I LOVE signs. I love retro signs, safety signs, traffic signs, goofy posters, everything. I’m just as happy having a framed copy of the U.S. Constitution next to my tin sign “DRINK COFFEE! Do stupid things faster with more energy!” 😀

Finding funny signs is another matter, though. I have located a very few online stores that sell retro signs, but they charge an arm and a leg!! But I just found a new website called safetysign.com. This is neat! They have EVERYTHING– parking signs, stop signs, facility signs, recreation signs, OMG the lists are endless. AND I can create my own sign! *snicker* So I can be as eccentric as I want, and they’ll make it for me. This is very cool. Hm, I’m currently looking for a “Toxic Waste” sign for my kitchen, lol. Or maybe hang it over the dog’s area. :-p

I liked this one. Ha!

Oh, this would be PERFECT over my desk!

And I’d put this in all the kids’ rooms. (And in mine, ai chihuahua).

So there’s a sign for every body for every situation, lol. I there are a gadzillion different signs. The prices are actually pretty good, and you can order U-Channels Posts with mounting hardware in different colors. VERY COOL! Because I need to place a few “DO NOT PARK IN PRIVATE DRIVE” in my front yard. I live near a popular ice cream store, and all summer long I am asking people to please move their cars so I can get out of my driveway.

Check out the site! It’s cute. The site has mostly safety signs and such, but if you like quirky decor, or are in need a of gentle reminder for traffic passers-by, it’s a great place to get some signs!

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