Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Survived

I can't believe it has been 3 weeks since I last posted; it feels like just the other day. In that time, we got hit with an ice storm, which wasn't supposed to be as bad as it turned out to be. The boys missed their last day of school, mainly due to power outages more than icy roads or whatnot. Ours was out for about 8 hours; kudos to Jackson EMC, as this is the longest we've ever been without power since we moved here, and that was a pretty short period compared to a lot of people. I thought for sure the boys would make up that day, either on Friday (still too many power outages, I think), or at least on Monday - we are still 2 days behind from the stupid hurricane/gas crisis days our governor thought would be a good idea. The big kid had finals that day; considering his grades, he probably needed the finals to help his quarter grades out. I wonder how that will work out? Public schools - what a joke. Maybe they'll make them all up at the end of the year, so they can actually be in school part of May.

I managed to get my bead order in, and was missing one thing, though not vital for Christmas gifts. Spent that entire Sunday and Monday furiously putting beads together; I had 7 things to make, start to finish. Saturday was out, as that was our company Christmas Party. By the time I got home from the store and got all that taken care of, I had enough time to lie down for an hour, then had to get up and get started on the Big Hair, to go with the fantastic red dress I got off of ebay this year. Oh, and I decided the night before that I didn't have any jewelry to wear with it, so of course, I had to make something; I whipped up 4 strands of red twister beads Friday night. Earrings I had, and a bracelet crossed my mind, but the kind I wanted to make I didn't have a clasp for (I used up all of my clasp stock), so I just didn't bother with a bracelet at all. All in all, it worked out well. I should've taken the time to get my hair cut, because it really didn't do what I wanted it to do - too much of it. If I wait 2 more weeks, it will be 1 year since I last had it cut (not counting when I trim the bangs so I can see where I'm going). It is just now starting to look raggedy, though, so I guess it's still okay. When I do go, a LOT is coming off.

I had my shopping all done, except for a couple of stocking stuffers and such, when I shipped out-of-town stuff on 12/19. Christmas cards went out on 12/17. DH took me and his bonus to Wolf Camera on 12/17, and I am now the proud owner of a new Panasonic DMC-FZ5. I have just begun to play with it, but it is really cool, so far. It has a macro feature, which is imperative for my bead pics, as well as the simple no-frills setting, which I will most likely use when I'm not taking bead photos. I have come to the conclusion that the lights I have in my light box are not the kind I need; everything has a yellow cast to it, which I thought I would avoid using halogen lamps. Apparently, I was wrong. I will have to get some full-spectrum bulbs of some kind, like the light I have for cross stitching, which is made by Ott. I am not sure that particular lamp will work for this - it is not very bright, but that may be just my perception. I need to try it, except that it's a big, heavy floor lamp, so it's not terribly easy to just move around the house when I need to. And as it was $200, I don't foresee me buying a second one. Maybe a smaller, desktop version, if it does indeed work better. Maybe over the coming weekend, I will have time to experiment.

DH did his Christmas shopping on 12/23 and 12/24, as usual. He actually got everything wrapped, too. Now why, if I was done so much earlier, was I sweating getting the wrapping done? I guess because I have to do all of my "Santa" stuff in secret. And on Christmas Eve, the eggheads went to bed at 6:30! I am not too sure what they were thinking, but they came out every 1/2 hour and asked what time it was, instead of just coming out and watching a movie with us or whatever until it was time to go to bed. Needless to say, they just got more and more wound up, and the little kid finally fell out about 10:30; the big kid was still awake, but he knows the secret, thanks to his dad, so I just closed the door and started doing Santa's work. I didn't get to sleep until after 1:00 am. And the eggheads were up, the first time, at 4:30!!! I wanted to cry. We sent them back to bed, but of course, they weren't going back to sleep. They came back out at 5, and told Dad that it was 6, so they came in my room (Dad always sleeps out in the living room on Christmas Eve, so he can "keep an eye on things"), flipped on the lights, and told me to get up, Dad said so. I yelled "It's 5:00, not 6:00 - go back to bed. Now." So they went back to big kid's room and made a bunch of noise for another hour, though I did manage to get a few winks in before they made me get up for real. And an hour or so later, it was all over.

Big kid has lots of new games and such, though I have since found out that I have to do some upgrades to his computer to get a couple of his new pc games to work; what a pain in the butt. And of course, he's hounding me every hour on the hour about it - I guess he thinks I keep processors and memory on hand, and it's free. I understand the disappointment in a new thing not working right out of the box, but when you have 10 new things, and 2 don't work, try working the other 8 before you ride my ass about the two, which can't be fixed right away regardless. Little kid got a Robosapien robot thing; it's pretty cool. He also had lots of Lego and Lego-like things for me to put together (DH says I buy those for me, not them - uh, I don't recall playing with them after I build them the first time, so I disagree), and DH got both of them air soft guns. Oh Joy. So now I have those damn plastic pellets all over the house, even though they have both been told 100 times, by both of us, to do that outside. They don't listen very well. And the weather outside has been off and on since Christmas, so they have been outside when possible; just not long enough.

I have another bead order coming tomorrow; I needed to replace all of my clasps, and get the missing items from my group buy, as well as order some Ornela hanks for multi-strand necklaces. One of the girls here at work has ordered one, for a new outfit she just bought, and I wanted a red one and a pearl-like one. I will be able to make the two turquoise necklaces I have been waiting on for over 2 months - hopefully have those done by the time I go back to work on Tuesday, after the New Year's holiday. I finally got a floor stand for my cross stitch scroll frame, and have jumped back on the pumpkins I put down when the beads got going; I plan to have that done before 2006 gets here - I'm damn close. I want to get back to my castle and get that done. I am going to give stretching my work a try - one of my Yahoo groups has a great guide on how to do it, so maybe I can save myself some sticker shock at the framers next time. I will try it first on these pumpkins, when I get them done, once I get some acid-free board from my framer. If that goes well, we'll see what else I attempt. It's taking me a little time to get used to the floor stand - DH keeps making stupid comments about me getting into my spaceship. We'll see what he says after I get him to make the necessary modifications to it; I'm betting he won't make so much fun of it then.

We seem to have lost a kitty in the last couple of days; KiKi went out Tuesday afternoon, and we haven't seen her since, though DH has called for her 1000 times, including not sleeping much Tuesday night. She's been gone for a couple of hours before, but not this long. I don't know how hard he has looked for her, but he knows she would go across the street, so she might be smashed up on the main road. Or someone could have her locked up; Ripley was catnapped by a crazy person in the neighborhood a couple of times (I wonder if those people are still there?), and was even vetted/fixed by the nappers, which was fine by me, but as they did it without my knowledge or permission, I wasn't about to pay them back, or thank them , to be quite honest. I guess when you take an animal into your home that may or may not belong to someone, and he begs to be let out (especially if he can hear his people calling him, and gets frantic), then maybe you should just leave well enough alone. Of course, they are probably those kind of people you hear about on the news; for whatever reason, some official goes to the house, only to find 100 or more mistreated/malnourished/diseased animals living in filth. Because the owner is crazy. There's a name for that, but I can't recall it right now. And it's not always little old ladies, surprisingly enough, though they seem to make the news and CSI episodes more often. Anyway, we keep hoping KiKi comes back. It's kind of a mixed thing, because the other feline residents were NOT happy about her being there, and were demonstrating their unhappiness in the ways male cats do, so her not being there right now seems to have calmed the other 3 down some; but then again, I think Booger has been looking for her, too, and though I have tried not to like her, because of all the crap with the other 3, she was kinda cute. For an ugly, cross-eyed, rat-like, clumsy old cat. All I can say is, if she does come back, she had better not have kittens - we were going to get her to the vet right after the holidays and get that taken care of, but didn't think it was of immediate need (not sure how old she is - maybe 6 months?). I've never lost a cat before - hell, I can't get them to go away, regardless of what I do to them. Just like the stupid goldfish from the fair 4 years ago that still won't die; their tank is so dirty right now, you can barely see them. They are still alive and well, as far as I can tell. Since when do 25 cent fish live 4+ years? I didn't sign up for that.

Since I doubt I'll get back here before, Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Crazies

Well, it's that time of year again; the weather is flaky, the roads are crowded, and people are just totally out of their minds. I did something this year that I have never done before - I went shopping early on Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving). I was up and out the door at 6:45 - DH about shit. It's hard enough to get me up to go to a game, or, you know, work, that early, but shopping, my least-favorite thing to do? And way back when, when I worked at the jewelry store, I swore I would never participate in Black Friday and do that to the poor sales people; people were always so damn nasty to us down there on Salem Avenue. "What do you mean you don't have any of the Doorbuster Specials? It's right here in your ad! I want to talk to your manager RIGHT NOW!!!!" For some reason, my reply about "when shopping in Cracktown, be careful what you ask for" didn't seem to make much of an impression with the screamers. But this year, I wasn't seeing too many deals, and I was in serious need of some deals - long list, small balance in my Christmas account. It worked out pretty well; I don't think there were any spectacular deals, but I did get done (except for 2 more gift certificates I need to pick up), and it was actually kinda pleasant. Of course, I was home by 9:30, and on the evening news that night, they were showing all the local knock-down, drag-out fights that occurred in local malls. Just reinforcement for my theory that people are retarded.

The boys are out of school for the year on 12/15! Damn, why do I even bother sending them? They go to school between 11-18 days a month - no more. Wait, I think one month, they actually make it to 21 days. And they wonder why no one in Georgia (except SE Asian immigrants' children) can pass any of the tests. UH, maybe because they never go to school, and when they do, more time is spent on Good Touch, Bad Touch and Why You Shouldn't Join a Gang than on teaching math, English, social studies, science? I so wish I had the money to get my kids out of the public education system and into a good private school, which are pretty non-existent down here. There are lots of Christian schools, but those are no good, either; I just don't think Fire and Brimstone comes up on the SAT or any college entrance exam. We do have a new Catholic school being built right now down the street, and if I had the money, they would apply there. It is a sorry state of affairs, public education. I actually think mine was pretty decent, between the two systems I was in. Some of these teachers my kids have just absolutely astound me; how they ever got through college themselves is anyone's guess, and now they are passing on their retardation to others. Oh, joy! Of course, with the liberal bullshit being labeled as college education these days, I guess it's not really any surprise. It's not what you know and how you relay that information, it's how it makes you feel [insert a whiney Diane Sawyer here], I guess. Because I'm all about how people feel, you know. Bastards. What the hell happened? Some days, I think I should go finish my teaching degree, so there will be at least one voice of logic and reason out there, but in the current environment, just how long do you suppose I would last? Not very, I'll wager. It all comes down to picking my battles; the easier battle is teaching my kids myself, in my copious amounts of free time. Take the bits of information they are given and put them into context for them. I think that's what is missing in today's education - context. It's all trivia if you don't know how to use it.

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day; did you see anything on the news about it? I didn't. Of course, I don't watch the news, so maybe that's the problem. Anyway, my point is this: 52 years ago, 2 years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, had we forgotten about it? Were we screaming to get our soldiers out of Europe and the Pacific? Okay, I wasn't there personally, but I don't think we were. So what the hell is the deal now with Iraq? Germany did not attack the US, but damn it, we had to go over there and take care of business, didn't we? Japan had it coming. Iraq didn't attack us, but the Muslim world did, you know, on 9/11. And when somebody is obviously being a bastard and killing people (see Saddam "Nutcase" Hussein) just because he can, somebody needs to take care of business. It's pretty obvious he's crazy, and his kids? Apparently, he had a crib sheet for the Reproduction Certification test. People keep harping on the no-WMD thing, because that is the only factor involved in the decision to go over there, again. We haven't found any to date; what, do you want to pull out and give them time to get their shit together, then go back and take care of it then, hopefully before they blow up half the planet? If they had managed to get them, and say they made a mistake with one, and blew up, oh, the Sinai Peninsula, for instance, who do you suppose would be expected to lead the clean-up and rebuilding effort? The Good Old USA, of course. Even though we could be reasonably sure that their booboo was meant for us, we would still be held responsible for making everything okay for them again. Mess, mess, go away; come back to blow up the US another day! Anyone who thinks there weren't, at the very least, the beginnings of WMD stockpiles, are in total denial of the world we live in. Just because we couldn't find any - how many times in a week do you lose a remote control, in your own house, placed by your own hand? It eventually turns up, unless your house elves were making a special point to dismantle it and hide/destroy the parts. People, we need to finish what we are doing, and in all reality, shouldn't the decision to leave things undone be left to the people, our troops, who would be doing the leaving? Nobody wants to go to war (well, okay, some of those gung-ho types, but I mean your every-day GI), but that doesn't mean it doesn't have to happen sometimes. The main stream media needs to get a grip. Every newscaster currently employed should look up the phrase "For the greater good", and write a 5000 word essay on what that means to them. Then they should be submitted to the world for judging, and the one voted the best gets to keep their job - all the rest have to become janitors (cleaning shit shouldn't be much more taxing then shoveling it). People kill me. Turn off your TV's, people!!! It's crap!!! Unless they create a Johnny Depp network, of course. All Depp, All the Time! UMMMM, Tasty!

Okay, that's not really what I had in mind for this post, until I saw it down in B&W. I don't think I said what I meant very well, but that's okay for now - that's what the EDIT button is for. The words may change at some point, but the gist is the same. We led them to the voting booths, and they voted all on their own; let us finish cleaning up, and we'll see if they can take care of themselves after that. And if they can't, well, I don't want to hear somebody in a few years' time screaming "Why doesn't the most powerful nation on earth do something to help these people? Are they too selfish?" Just like when the tsunami hit last year; it didn't matter what we did, the US was criticized. But when the hurricanes wiped out the gulf coast this year, who knocked themselves out to help? We had to rely on ourselves then (yes, we got donations and assistance from our friends, but the names and dollar amounts involved weren't front-page news all over the world, were they?), and I really think it's high time some other people start taking care of themselves. The US is damned if we do, damned if we don't, so why doesn't everyone shut up, stop pointing fingers and playing the Blame Game, and just take care of the business at hand? Bunch of freakin' babies.... Someday when I am President of the earth, I'll see what I can do with this situation. I'm takin' my toys and going home; you all can just play with yourselves. PPPFFFTTTHHHH!!!

On the home front, indoor soccer has already started. The little kid had his first game last week, and the big kid has his this weekend. We thought for sure they wouldn't start games until after the holidays; no such luck, it seems. That's okay - at least they are all home games, no day-long adventures to the Sticks. Little kid won his game, 6-0. I couldn't pay a lot of attention to it, though, so can't give you any specifics about it; I was sitting with all the chatty parents, and my obnoxious 12-year-old and his obnoxious 13-year-old friend. They played a girls' team, and those girls were pretty big, but they just couldn't finish any of their shots. I was a little preoccupied with freezing my ass off on the metal bleachers in the building - there is no heater anywhere in that building, and it was very cold and wet out. This week, I'll bring a blankie to sit on/wrap up in.

I have 20 finished bead projects laying on my table, and my light box is built and ready. Now, I just have to get the camera thing settled. DH borrowed his work camera (Big kid needed some pics for a school project, too, so that worked out well), a 2.1; no good. I got the color okay now, with the lighting, but there is no detail in the beads at all, just color blobs. So I borrowed my IT guy's 3.2 again, and tried them again; still, no good, same deal. So I broke out the antique film camera last night and finished off the roll that was in it. If I can get it processed and digitized in the next day or so, I'll know if that's the way I need to go for the time being. They sure looked good through the view finder. I just have to get them done this weekend, because they all have to be delivered/shipped/packed, whatever, early next week, so they can get where they are going before the Big Day. And I still haven't gotten my big group-buy bead order; it's in the mail, somewhere between CA and here, and I really need that ASAP - three gifts are in that lot, and uh, I need to put them together when they get here? Hopefully tomorrow or Saturday it'll be here, and I'll have what I'm supposed to have. Our buy lead has been MIA lately, and not communicating at all, due to a crisis at her work, so this whole buy has kind of gotten pushed to her back burner; it started 2 months ago or more, and here we are, 2 weeks before Christmas, and I don't have my stuff yet. It's not all her fault, as our supplier and PayPal both caused huge problems to begin with, and it's partly my fault that, because I had a large order, I got moved to the back of the shipping queue (I actually think that should be reversed, but that's just the way I work best - get the hard shit done and out of the way). The real test will be if the post office can get my box here, in its original condition; my post office is pretty consistant with the disappointment, so we'll see.

4" of snow in Ohio right now, and we are supposed to get sleet here; I have two little boys who think they won't have school tomorrow - see my paragraph above. What do I have to do to get to Arizona? I can live my life without ever seeing snow in person again. I guess it wouldn't bother me so much here, since it is short-lived, but people absolutely lose their minds when we get a "flurry" (and by flurry, I mean 3-4 flakes fall out of the sky somewhere within 100 miles of Atlanta). The news is all "Winter Storm Warning", updates every 15 minutes on nothing, and the stores empty out of bread, milk, and toilet paper (nothing to eat but bread and milk - where's the toilet paper coming in? Or is everyone here lactose-intolerant?). It's totally insane. It never occurs to anybody that it was 80 the other day, and it's not like the ground is frozen - let us get snow or ice or whatever; it'll be gone in a day or two. Though I don't like the ice storms; since all of the power lines and such are above ground here, they do more damage than what would happen other places I've lived. When you live on a giant piece of granite, what're you going to do?

Enough - I had a whole other paragraph all done, but I failed to save it; it must be your lucky day :)