Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I finished a huge order today and I feel like dancing. I learned that miniature easels are very, very labor intensive. I have callouses on my thumb and index finger tips, cuts on my knuckles, and stain under my nails - BUT I AM DONE!

When I order something online I track it obsessively. Like, 6-12 times a day. Am I the only one?

We are mourning the loss of Craig's laptop (formerly my laptop, having been repaired by Dell twice - maybe three times, and without warranty.) The motherboard finally gave it up. So long heavy, huge beast. One less inferior Dell product in my house.

How can it already be September?

We are going on a trip at the end of this month and I'm already having panic attacks about flying. I'm getting myself all worked up. I'm even debating on asking the doctor for some Xanax just for the trip. I hate traveling by plane. It isn't necessarily the flying part - although the idea of coming down suddenly is quite terrifying. It's the security at the airport. Stresses me out. I fear the alarm and the wand. Craig reminded me that we are flying out of Kalamazoo and into Albuquerque and vise-versa (sp?) so it really shouldn't be a big deal, I guess.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Random stuff.

If I won a trip to Chicago on The Price is Right I'd be irritated. It's only a 2 hour drive and I'd have to drive to Chicago to fly to LA to fly back to Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago: we're having Chicago style hot dogs for lunch. Yum.

I wish I could fall asleep at a decent time without drugging myself with anti-histamines. Two nights in a row it's been 4 AM and 3 AM, respectively. I'm exhausted. Taking some Benedryl tonight.

I caught Chewie eating the leaves of one of our trees in the back. He ate a few then proceeded to throw up. So, I put on my shoes to check out what came out (gross, yeah, but you need to know) and he met me at the door and trotted right to the spot - as if to show off his work. Just leaves.

We had a few rainy days last week and Booker was limping around because all four legs and his back were sore with arthritis. Poor guy. Aspirin helped. Today he is back to normal.

When you buy a laptop you aren't told that you have to buy a "chill pad" in order to not burn yourself and your laptop up. (Or is this just an issue with Dell's crappy products?) Anyway, I've gone through 3. The first lasted forever and finally just stopped working. The second lasted a few weeks before we kept finding little black shards of what turned out to be the fan blades all over the living room. The third one - while keeping its blades - makes a grinding noise every time you turn it on until you smack it about 33 times (infuriating). I ordered another one on Amazon since I've gone through all the ones you can buy locally. Hopefully it will last longer than a month.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Security is one thing, stupidity and stubbornness are totally different

So, I had a check electronically issued from my bank to pay mother for watching the dogs a few weeks ago. She took it into her bank in Kenosha to cash it and the teller said she could not cash it because "it didn't have a signature".  Mother* claims she even spoke to the manager.  So I get "on the horn", so to speak, and have an online chat with my ez-pay teller to find out what the problem is (that tellers in Kenosha are stupid, apparently).  Shouldn't be a problem she tells me. Give your mother our phone number and have her bank call us to verify that it isn't a problem.

The text I sent Mother: ###-###-#### have your bank call my bank and they will hold their hand and walk them through the deposit process.

Mother's reply: Dont worry my bank still questions my payee* check afer a year*.

* Granted, she is not the brightest crayon in the box, is a few fries short of a happy meal, etc, etc and could possibly have done something moronic to deserve the check cashing ban. I mean, come on, the federal government doesn't trust her with her social security checks and requires her to have a * payee...

* I tell you what, if my bank were so stupid and difficult to work with, I'd have found another bank a year ago! Or I'd be the crazy who gets so frustrated and furious that I'd end up screaming at them in the middle of their lobby! IDIOTS!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shake...shake...shake...shake...shake... ... ...

We've been tring to teach Chewie to shake for almost 2 years (he is 2 and a half). He has stubbornly refused to lift his paw off the floor even just to humor us. He will sit and plant both front legs firmly on the floor. When we lift one and demonstrate shake it is actually a challenge to get it up because he is resisting.

We try to use Booker as an example of what we expect from Mr. Chew. When you say shake to Booker he jets out his right paw with delight. If you have something really good (a piece of hot dog or a bully stick) he will do the "double shake" and give you both paws.

Chewie has stubbornly refused to shake - and I mean refused. We're sure he's refusing just to spite us. He's an exceptionally smart dog, he's used the "potty paw" (an electronic "I need to go out" device that is essentially a wireless doorbell that he stomps on when he wants out) since he was a few months old. [Then he abused the potty paw and we took it away - stomping on it every few minutes whenever he didn't get his way got to be very irritating.]

Well, yesterday we tried again with some new treats. First he tried his default response, the scoot. He sits on his butt and sort of scoots so his back legs stick out. Quite cute, but certainly not a shake. our shock, after a few more requests (and us stubbornly refusing to release the treat), his paw gently, limply lifted from the floor. Not quite a shake, but his paw left the floor! A fluke?

We got another treat and tried again. Again after about 15 requests he bored of us and limply lifted his paw.

Hope lives on.

Monday, June 09, 2008

NOW begins the boycott of all things Dell.

I haven't mentioned the demise of my laptop (again) because we have the old one and we also have desktop systems which I can use. HOWEVER, I have had it with Dell and I want to spread the fact that they sell inferior products and have inferior customer service. I am sick of paying for a product and not receiving what we pay for.

Several years ago we bought our first laptop from Dell. Within the 2 years of owning it, it needed to have the motherboard replaced - twice - for a known issue which they were being sued for. This was a nightmare which I won't go into (you can read about it here.) When the warrenty was up we decided to order a new one since the old was limping along.

The new system arrived and was wonderful for 6 months. In March it became virtually non-usable due to a faulty video card that Dell apparetly retrofitted (and destroyed in the process) so it would fit in a smaller case. Long story short, we have had to re-install Windows a minimum of 12 times in order to keep it functioning. I have sent it to Microsoft (via my brother-in-law who works for Microsoft Technology Center in Chicago) for a rollback to Windows XP in hopes that XP would be compatable with the video card (initially it was thought to be a Windows Vista problem). I have dealt with Dell Tech "service" for months via email. Craig just spent 5 hours via Dell chat tech service.

Tech service has had us jump through hoops (all of which we had already jumped through on our own). After 5 hours today Craig was informed that the problem was "being elevated" and he would receive a call from someone withing an hour.

Craig received the call. He was informed that they "are working on a patch"! When Craig told them that this answer was unaceptable and would affect our choice to purchase a Dell in the future the tech asked if Craig would like the service call to be "elevated" again. UMMM, YEAH!

So, as it stands, Dell has done nothing to solve the ongoing problem. They have offered no refund, no replacement, no fix after a minimum of 10 hours of communication with tech service. Our warrenty expires in 3 months, which I suspect is what they are waiting for. I am currently searching online to see if there is another class-action lawsuit for this known and ignored problem. I will never purchase a Dell again and would suggest others (especially others with limited computer knowledge who cannot argue with them in their tech speak) also avoid Dell.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I got a few shots while mom and dad were out finding worms after the rain today. There are a total of 4. It looks like they may start flight school this weekend while we are out of town unfortunately.
4 baby robins

The Old Lady

I LOVE my Dyson vacuum. The one regret I have is the color. I always feel like I am pushing a Red Hat Society lady around my living room.

The Old Lady

Alright, two regrets, I wish we would have spent the extra $100 at the time and gotten the Dyson Animal. The dog hair in my house is OUT OF CONTROL! I could really use the attachment to vacuum the
furniture. I just vacuumed on Sunday and it's only been two days. I had to empty the canister two times going around the living room.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I have radishes!

And a nesting robin!
Momma Robin

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meme x 5

Five things I was doing 10 years ago:

1. Getting ready to get married in a couple weeks.
2. Making my wedding dress and my sisters bridesmaid dress.
3. Baking many, many layers of French vanilla cake
4. Putting together all the flower arrangements.
5. Still working full time and going to classes full time at NMSU.

Five things on my To-Do list today:

1. Laundry (today is blue day).
2. Cull the carrots in the garden (way too many in the space).
3. Mow the lawn.
4. Stain/paint 74 miniature frames.
5. Lament the fact that I am unable to pre-order Wii Fit anywhere online and I'll just have to wait until next Wednesday and see if it's in stock anywhere.

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Buy my sister a "green" graystone in Chicago.
2. Own a vineyard.
3. Set up a dog rescue.
4. Visit friends and family more often.
5. Build a "green" house that functions "off the grid".

Five of my bad habits:

1. Nail biting.
2. Picking at my psoriasis.
3. Lazy.
4. Apparently I am nearly perfect because I can't think of anything else.
5. ?

Five places I've lived:

1. Madison, WI
2. Kenosha, WI
3. Las Cruces, NM
4. Rantoul, IL
5. Portage, MI

Five jobs I've had:

1. Sandwich Artist at Subway.
2. Bugs Bunny Land attendant at Six Flags Great America.
3. Library aide.
4. Cricket (chirp, chirp) sales.
5. Webmaster.

Five books I've recently read:

1. The Time Traveler's Wife
2. Schuyler's Monster
3. Zen Cart
4. Do blogs count?
5. National Geographic and Bon Appetit

Five people I'm going to tag:

None. I'm not saddling someone with the list. Do it if you want. Don't if you don't want.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Absence apparently DOES make the heart grow fonder (and forgetfull)...

What I learned this weekend after spending 72 hours listening to put-downs, insults, and mindless banter delivered in the falsetto voice of a Viennese choir boy wearing the grin of a patient at a mental hospital. Ahh, Mother's Day (weekend).
  1. No matter who does something she dislikes, she will remember it as her eldest daughter doing it to her... and hold a grudge.
  2. Her eldest daughter can do something nice for her and she will retell the story repeatedly... except the main character in the story is changed to her youngest daughter instead - or better yet the apple of her eye, her nephew.
  3. Brownies are ok to eat as breakfast if you have diabetes.
  4. Spilling large amounts of liquid on carpet is ok if it's "only water". (Don't bother to clean it up, it won't sink into the pads and ruin the floor.)
  5. It is fine to hang your flag-sized underwear in the shower of the house you are staying at as a guest.
  6. Listening to a unending dialog of questions about every item in your house, it's use, the location you obtained it, the date you obtained it, and the motive for obtaining it is enough to make your brain explode.
  7. Oprah, Martha Stuart, Dr. Phil, and Woman's Day magazine are gospel.
  8. You can hear about the pregnant man one two many times.
  9. No matter how many times you tell her the dogs view her as the lowest member of the pack, she will wave the ham sandwich around and be surprised when he walks up and takes it.
  10. When viewed by the dogs as the lowest member of the pack it is not a wise idea to go anywhere near the food or water dish (or plate of food on the table). The dog believes you are not worthy of said food and will strongly object if he has no R-E-S-P-E-C-T for you.
  11. You will not earn the respect of the dog if you sing "no" to them with the afore mentioned grin on your face.
  12. No matter how hard I try to grin-and-bear-it because I am trying to be a good daughter it is all I can do not to completely lose it with her.
  13. Knowing someone is purposely pushing your buttons does not make it any easier to deal with.
  14. 3 hour visits are the maximum in the future.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


The plan.


The start.


The progress.


Saturday, March 22, 2008


I figured I should either update this blog or delete it. I haven't had much to blog about. Same ol', same ol'.

About the only change has been that I quit my job. My last day is April 1st. Not April Fooling.

All our snow melted last week. We got another 14 inches yesterday.

Meh. Nothing more to say today.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Let There Be Light!

After a 64 hour blackout from storms last Thursday, we again have power! Electronics, oh how I have missed you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Such Addictive Fun!

I downloaded the web browser Opera yesterday just to see what that one was like. It has this thing called widgets (much like the google desktop thingies you can have).

I added SimAquarium and have found it quite addictive.

You should try it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


A while ago I posted about a local restaurant website that was so horrendous (the website, not the restaurant) you could barely stand to view it.

They've made a few improvements again and it is much better. For one thing, there are no spelling errors on the first page - which is a huge improvement!

Now what's the problem? Music on the site. And not good music either. It doesn't make you fancy, it just makes your site irritating to use.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Brain Damage

I haven't mentioned going to a Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) concert in June. My sister and I bought tickets for my dad and step-mom for their birthdays. We were in the 14th row and let me just say that it was (one of - note: husbands don't appreciate your wedding day being put as a close second to a concert) the BEST. NIGHT. EVER!

(Warning, this is SUPER loud. It was taken on my camera phone at the event.)

Anyway, my point, every time I hear Floyd on the radio - in particular Brain Damage/Eclipse from Dark Side - I am filled with a quiet sense of joy from remembering how awesome the concert was. I turn my radio up just a little and smile to myself while sitting at my desk at work.

It's Back, Baby!

I was home for lunch today when DHL delivered my fixed laptop! It took Dell only 4 days, including transit times, to get it fixed. That's good enough that I can't even complain. Except about one thing... The return address had Apt 1B listed on it - which confused the DHL driver because we live in a neighborhood with lawns and (picket fences) houses, not apartment buildings. Strange. I guess I should be glad they got the address close enough that it got delivered. And I am. I have so missed the laptop.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Why I Hate DHL

So, I have referenced my complete disgust in the shipping company DHL in past posts. I work at a cricket farm and my main job is to process the orders for shipping. I.E. I decide upon which shipper to use and what shipping method to choose (ground vs. 2nd day air). In order to get the crickets to the customer alive, they (generally) have to be delivered within 2 days of when we ship them. If out for 3 or more days, especially during the very hot or very cold seasons, the crickets will arrive D.O.A. and we will have to issue a credit or reship them.

Without going into more details than anyone wants about what makes us choose which shipper, suffice to say that when it is hot we often choose DHL because they have smaller delivery vehicles which often have climate control inside for the drivers. The UPS trucks are big and brown and not cooled or heated so we have trouble getting the crickets to customers alive (although at LEAST they get them!!). If not for this, we would probably rarely ship via DHL because their transit and delivery is so completely unreliable that we never know if the shipments are going to be delivered on time.

I have started to track every package we ship via DHL and file claims for each one that doesn't get delivered within the quoted transit time they post on their website. I do this every Monday now for the previous week, simply out of principle.

They make it a habit of denying my claims for a list of rediculous reasons. Last Friday, I had been pushed over the edge and this is the following email I wrote - which, by the way, has still not been replied to or addressed by DHL:

I have now spent close to an hour total trying to receive credit on this one shipment which was not delivered on time according to the DHL quoted transit times for this location. Additionally, my coworker spends hours checking every shipment on our bill every week because the DHL billing system is so inaccurate. When shipping a live product, we choose the shipping method based on the quoted time in transit. The DHL transit times have become so unreliable that we will soon be forced to choose our alternative shipping company for most, if not all, of our ground and second day service shipments. The fact that we have to spend considerable time bickering with DHL service employees regarding credits when DHL fails to provide the service they promise will only hasten our decision to switch carriers on a more permanent basis.

On a weekly basis we ship an average of 125 2nd day service and 125 ground service packages via DHL. I'm certain you have customers who do more business than we do and I am not dropping numbers to impress. Out of these shipments we have an average of 40 or more packages weekly which do not get delivered to our customers withing the quoted transit times for their locations. When the packages are in transit longer than the two days maximum we depend upon, our product DIES. Of these shipments we usually must reship - at our cost - the product, often using a next day service - again at our cost. We do not EVER as for reimbursement for the product or shipping materials. We understand there is a nominal risk shipping a live product and are reasonable about what we ask for as credits. If we were shipping sweaters, believe me, we would not be so concerned with receiving the service we are promised by the companies we choose to ship for us.

I find it exceptionally frustrating getting the run around by several levels of customer service representative regarding credits for service failures. Often, the fact that the shipment was delivered several day outside of the quoted transit time is completely ignored and we are given ridiculous reasons for denial such as "hazardous materials" and "excessively large dimensions". These are, once again, DHL errors. We never ship hazardous materials and the maximum dimension of any shipment which leaves our facility is 24x12x18.75 inches. The average package size is 12x12x6 inches.

Below is a copy of the latest denial request I have had forwarded back to me. PLEASE pass this along to any superior who can take care of this (these) issue(s). Our customer service representative does the best he can and is very helpful, but often finds his hands tied by the red tape and jumping through hoops required by DHL bureaucracy. I am, by no means, complaining about the service we receive from him.

While investigating this request (Service Adjustment Request: xxxxxxxxxxx, Airbill Number: xxxxxxxxxxx) please look into these other two which I am certain will have the same email sent back to me telling me to contact your department.
Service Adjustment Request: xxxxxxxxxxx, Airbill Number: xxxxxxxxxxx
Service Adjustment Request: xxxxxxxxxxx, Airbill Number: xxxxxxxxxxx

Thank you for your time regarding this matter.

Mr. Haskins Is Dead!

Dell replied promptly and addressed me by my own name! They are sending a DHL box for me to ship my laptop out for repairs (yeah, I could rant about that, but they didn't bicker with me for 3 days and make me call them before they decided it indeed needed repair, so I suppose I can stand to send it DHL. It'll probably take 7 weeks to get delivered and Dell will probably not get a credit for the shipping failure, but [shrug] that's their problem).

R.I.P., Mr. Haskins. R.I.P.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Return of Mr. Haskins.

My laptop is acting up again. Same deal from last December. It overheats and shuts down. Same deal as referred to in the lawsuit against Dell here.

Same problem Mr. Haskins was supposed to have gotten fixed in December of 2006. Mr. Haskins is AGAIN not pleased. Mr. Haskins just sent Dell another tech request. Mr. Haskins is curious to see who Dell replies to this time. Will it be Mr. Haskins? Will it be Melissa? Will it be a new alter-ego I apparently have? We shall see.

I Got...SSSteam Heat.

The window unit has been in for about 2 hours now. The temp has gone from 86* to 83*, which may not seem like much, but the humidity is coming out of the air so it really is making a difference. At the least, the dogs are no longer panting. They aren't active (which is actually a hidden blessing) but they aren't miserable anymore.

As The Sweat Trickles.

So, furnace is "unfrozen", if that was the problem, and still not coming on. It now will kick on when you flip the switch and blow glorious air for about 15 seconds, then shut off. (When you are sitting in a 85*F room with the humidity close to 70% it is all you can do not to cry when it stops running; especially after a night of no sleep.)

The dogs are quite displeased by the whole thing. Poor Booker is a panting fool. Chewie crawled (squeezed) under the bed last night and proceeded to whimper and pant until about midnight. I finally got them up and took them to the dining room where the sliding door to outside is and left the door open so they could come or go (from hot and muggy to just as hot and muggy). I gave them their bowl of water with (bonus!) a tray of ice cubes in it. Chewie proceeded to pluck the ice cubes out one by one, trot them back to where he was laying, set it down, run back to get another, and so on until he had them all out and surrounding him. Then he started crunching and guarding. How DARE Booker think he would get even one of The Chew's cold squares!

I drifted in and out of having my eyes closed but never quite sleeping until 6:30 when we went back to bed to make sure Craig got up for work. Craig is putting the big window A/C unit into the living room so the dogs and I don't melt. We'll be calling the repair guy today, I guess. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How Hot IS IT?

Yeah, yeah. We don't live in the deep South so we really shouldn't be complaining about the heat. BUT. Today when I got out of the car after lunch, my glasses fogged up it was so hot and humid outside!

And then tonight when we had been home for an hour or so, we noticed that it kept getting warmer and warmer in the house. A quick glance at the thermostat said it was 83*F in the living room. We then noticed that the blower was no longer blowing. The AC unit outside was chugging away, but the big fan thing (like my technical terms?) in the basement wasn't doing its part. We think (hope) it has frozen up from the humidity and constant running over the last 2 weeks of 90*F plus temps (it hums when we flip it on, it just isn't blowing). So, we've turned it off and put a fan in the bedroom window for a long, uncomfortable, night of - I suspect - very little sleep.

Tomorrow, if it still won't kick back on then we call the repair guy and get out the box units from the garage so we (i.e. the sled dog and his black furry brother) can stand it until the repair guy can make it over. We may have to shave the dogs.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Shall Now Rant About an Electronic Superstore

Today we brought our reasonably new camera back to Paramount Purchase to see if they could "fix" (i.e. exchange for another) it. It has the ability to record video and recently the ability has been waning. The video plays perfectly on the camera but the video playback on the computer is about triple speed, no sound, pixilated, with great square blobs of green throughout. I downloaded the video onto 3 different computers (yes, we have 3 computers for the two of us), used different methods of file transfer, removed the memory card and recorded directly onto the camera hard drive, blah, blah, blah. I am not so electronically challenged that I don't know the basic tests the "professional" will do.

We pack up the camera and trot on down to Paramount Purchase - extended warranty in hand. To the service desk we stroll. The girl at the desk takes one glance at our problem and refers us to the Nerd Posse. We go over the issue with Nerd Posse Employee. He stares blankly at us and mumbles something about needing to ask if he needs to "send it in". He toots off to ask Nerd Posse Member Two in the back room. He strolls back and asks, "So you say the playback is fine on the camera but not fine on the computer?"
"You need to bring the computer in."
"We have tried it on three different computers and it does the same thing."
"It is a data transfer problem not a problem with the camera."
"We have transfered the videos off the camera using multiple modes of transfer and it does the same thing." (i.e. not using the camera at all, and pulling the file right off the disk using a card reader; using the dock as a drive rather than a transfer port, etc, etc)
"You'll have to bring the computer in."
"We have the dock. Why can't you plug it into one of the 10 computers I can see right there behind you and test it out right now?"
"I can't, we don't have your software."
"But we just told you that we have moved the files directly off the camera without using the software to make sure the software wasn't the problem."
"You need to bring your computer in."
"So, you are telling me we have to go home, pack up one of the three computers we have tested it on, bring said computer into the store so you can try what we already have tried."

We calmly walk out of the store before I start shouting about how disgusted I am. I haven't used the video on the camera since May because we haven't had time to take it in to the store. We are going to the zoo this weekend and I wanted to have the option of taking video.

So, we storm home - stopping at Culver's to pick up some custard to sooth our nerves. I release the hounds and follow them out to take a video. Craig takes the video off the camera and watches it. Tech junky that I am, I have about 4 different video players on the main computer. It plays poorly on Windows Media Player, but it plays fine on another program I bought to convert video from my cell phone.

The big question is: Will our videos that I take at the zoo play fine or will they all be corrupt? We shall see. Needless to say, I am still disgusted by the Nerd Posse and if my videos from the zoo are ruined, I will stomp my way back with my camera and my laptop and heads will roll.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dead Man's Chest

So, yesterday we got a package in the mail and it wasn't for us. It was for a previous owner of the house. Not even the last owner of the house. The one before. So, what's the big deal? Nothing really, except that I know he is recently deceased. For some reason that bothers me.

(We bought the house from my co-worker, they bought the house from her step-grandfather. It has been at least 5 years since he lived in the house.)

It bothered me enought that I trotted the package up to my friend's house (she only moved a few blocks away) and dropped it off last night, just to get it out of the house...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Little House on the Prairie 2007

So, this weekend we decided, on a whim, to make butter. It was awesome!


Plus this...

Turns into...

And then... TA DA! FRESH BUTTER!!!