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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

I hope everyone is having a joyeous day and the kids have found all the candy and eggs.  Really, find all those eggs.

One year I re-hid all the eggs after Easter so I could have another Easter hunt, and didn't find one of them for several weeks.  My closet never did smell good after that.

I also wanted to announce that the hummers have arrived by posting a photo.  We saw our first hummingbird Thursday, feeding at the salvia greggii.  I immediately ran to the kitchen to mix up some sugar-water and got the feeders out of the shed.  (Note:  Don't put away your feeders without cleaning them.  Ewww!)

I hung it in front of my kitchen sink and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, one showed up but instead of going to the feeder, he hovered in front of the window watching me.  When I reached for the camera, he zoomed off.  Every time I spotted one (or the same one) at the feeder, he zoomed off every time I moved for the camera.

So I have no photo of a hummingbird for you, just the feeder.  Hope you can use your imagination.




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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Favorite Things Friday, Cat in a Carrier and Friskies

I don't usually post a Favorite Things Friday because I never can remember to do it. But I have been waiting for this moment for a very long time, for over a month in fact, so I couldn't wait to post about it. If you recall, the last time I had to take Buddy to the vet, it took me almost five hours just to get him sedated enough to get into the crate. If you missed that experience, you can read it here. I decided that day that I would never go through that again, and the next day I started carrier training. Since it was Buddy, the hardened, trap wary, former feral cat, the training would have to slow and devious.

I took the carrier apart and put just the bottom under a table in the garage, with the self feeder for his dry food in it. At first he was really jumpy, but a hungry cat has to eat, so he stretched in as far as he could, grabbed some food and got out. Since he was so trap wary, he would only do that when we were far away. But he soon loosened up and I gradually added one side, then another, and another. By the time I had the top on, he was staying in there to eat and would let us pet him while he was in there. It spooked him when I put the gate on, and he went back to stretching over to the food, but that didn't last long and soon he was walking in and sitting down to eat. You can't see it, but the gate is tied back so it can't close on him.



The self feeder is in the very back of the carrier, turned sideways to make it harder for him to get. That worked well, but he only went in when he wanted to; I needed him to go in when I wanted him to. Then I started giving his treats in there. The first treats I ever bought for him were Temptations.  He likes them really well, and I never felt the need to try anything else. But one day there was a little package of Friskies treats in the bag of Friskies cat food I bought. I didn't think he would like them since he was happy with the Temptations, but I was so wrong. These things are the greatest treats ever, or so thinks Buddy.



Where he would see the Temptations in the carrier and stroll in to eat one or two, he became excited the second he saw the Friskies package and rushed into the carrier before I could even get all of them out of my hand, gobbling every morsel until they were gone. Friskies calls them Crispies. We call them Kitty Cocaine.

I'm linking up with Shay's Favourite Things Friday.

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for the mention of any products on this page nor do the companies mentioned even know I wrote about them.

I have a question for fellow quilters.

I have decided that my little Janome sewing machine is just not going to cut it for piecing quilts. I told Lil I would give it to her as it will be fine for things like making curtains, or learning to sew and I would keep mom's old Pfaff (1983) and get a new sewing machine better suited for quilting. But I was shopping at JoAnn's today and looked at the sewing machines there for a few minutes. That's when I remembered that one of the reasons I was talked into this little Janome was because of its size and weight. I thought it would be easier to carry to classes and stuff. I've never used mom's machine because it needs to be serviced and I haven't found a place to get that done.

Now I'm thinking maybe I should give dd mom's Pfaff and I keep the little Janome for travel. Then rather than pay for servicing the Pfaff, I could put the money toward a new machine. What would you do? And which machine do you like best?


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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ah Spring, Why Must You?

I've been sitting here in my just-out-of-bed stupor, reading emails, checking out new blog posts, and watching funny videos. There has been a background noise that I've been hearing, but not hearing, if you know what I mean. After another late night where sleep wouldn't come on it's own, I woke up sluggish and groggy. And in this state, that noise didn't register with me. It was a vibrating noise, a buzzing, familiar noise. Fifteen minutes of this and it dawned on me that I knew why the sound was familiar. It was a wasp trapped between the blinds and the window. I hate wasps, their bugged out blank eyes and their limp, hanging legs as they hover. And of course, the evil stinger, curling and flicking as it warns of its power.

This hideous thing was inside the room, in the window next to me. I wanted to shut the door and leave it for Hubby, but I need to be in this room right now. So I took a deep breath and reached for my big girl panties. But big girl panties wouldn't fit over my tennis shoes and jeans, or kill a wasp, so I reached for a fly swatter. Carefully, I pulled the cord, raising the blinds until I saw him. He was walking along the edge of the glass, and I swooped in with my swatter. Flaaap! flapflapflapflap! FLAP!

I raised the swatter to see if he was dead, but he wasn't under it. I looked all over the window and the sill, but he wasn't there. I lowered the blinds and pulled the string that opened and closed them and he wasn't between the slats. Then I heard a little buzz and looked down. He was climbing my leg! One wing was crumpled, but he was trying to straighten it with the other wing, and upward he climbed, looking at me with those bugged out, blank eyes. I jumped backward while brushing my free hand across my leg and flapping with the swatter in my other hand (an athletic agility worthy of Extreme Sports under normal conditions), and then stomping every dark spot on the carpet, of which there were several. Darn quilt clippings. Then I stopped and looked for it as I caught my breath, listening for the slightest sound.

I found his lifeless body next to the chair and breathed a sigh of relief. Then it started twitching as he tried to crawl towards me. Again and again I stomped and when I lifted my foot this time, I was sure he was dead. So once again I reached for my big girl panties which I used to pick up the dead wasp and his still powerful stinger and threw him in the toilet with a "Hasta La Vista, baby" and pressed the lever.

But this is spring, where wasps are bumping under eaves looking for a dark corner to build a nest, where Mayflies hover around porch lights, and anoles perch on the doorframe, all waiting for the chance to get in. Ah Spring, so lovely with your fresh green sprigs of grass and blooming flowers, but must you let these pests out at the same time?

Disclaimer: You do know there really aren't big girl panties, right? I used a paper towel too pick up the wasp.

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Disqus Comments, Good or Bad?

I'm noticing more and more blogs using Disqus Comment System. So far, I am not thrilled with it. I know it is great for people who want to comment from Twitter and Facebook, but for regular bloggers, I think it's going to be a disappointment.

On the blogs using it that I have commented on, I have typed in paragraphs, only to have it submit in one big paragraph.

I just commented on one of my favorite blogs who must have made the switch in the last week. There is supposed to be a place to opt out of signing up for Disqus when commenting, but I had to leave the blog and come back three times before it would let me do that. And at this point, I really don't want to sign up for anything else, especially something I would rather not use.

But what I really dislike about it, is that commenter's blogs are not linked to their name. That's one way I find new blogs. Cut that out, and it will be much harder to seek out new blogs. And a lot of bloggers use the comments section to promote their blogs. I don't know what they will do. I guess it will cut down on spam though.

What has been your experience with Disqus? Do you like or dislike?

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Thirty Minute Attitude Lift

The weekend, which started full of expectation, soon turned dour. Part of it was the brusque wind which howled through the trees and pushed against the house which creaked and groaned in protest. Hubby was determined to plant the garden Saturday and I wanted to go to the Home and Garden Show. I'd rather be dreaming of planting a garden than actually doing it in that wind. The other part was frustration with the lack of organization in my life. I needed a plan. I needed some energy. And I needed some goals.

While updating my budget last night, I came across some daily planners I had made years ago. Aha! A plan! I also thought of what I'd like to be doing ten years from now, five years from now, and even six months from now. Goals! And the first step was to change my sleeping patterns so I can get up with enough energy in the mornings to put the plan into action. That's where it all fell apart.

I went to bed early, tried to think relaxing thoughts, read a boring book, and listened to the rhythmic sounds of the ceiling fan as it whirred overhead. Still, sleep would not come. I looked at the clock at 2 a.m., sank back into the pillow, and tried to count sheep. Too much concentration. I tried to think of nothing. Have you ever tried to think of nothing? The more I tried, the more stuff I thought of. It seemed like I just dozed off when the alarm rang at 6:45 a.m. Ugh. I turned it off, rolled over and closed my eyes. I dozed, but not for too long. In the back of my mind I kept thinking I needed to get up to get on with my plan. And so I rolled out, stretched my tired muscles, and picked up my daily planner.

Number one on my plan is exercise, well, after getting dressed and all the essential stuff. I only walk outside naked in my dreams. I have found that only the first five minutes of my walk are painful, after that, it's really enjoyable, and the perfect cure for depression. How can anyone take a walk on a beautiful day and remain depressed and lethargic? On my walk, as my heart, lungs, and muscles aired out, I could feel my spirits lift too. I also began noticing all the spring blooms that are just a blur when I'm driving. If only I had my camera. By the time I got back home, I had reached that plane where I feel I can walk for hours, so I grabbed my camera and retraced my steps. Either my point and shoot is getting cataracts along with me, or the editing software on this computer is washing out the photos, so I tried to enhance a couple of the lighter photos on fotoflexer. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did this morning.

First bluebonnet blooming in a neighbor's yard.

Daffodils and Creeping Phlox

Swallowtail just emerged from chrysalis

White iris blooming and blue iris budding.

Neighbor's dog who came up to have his ears' scratched.

Texas Mountain Laurel with a heady scent of purple bubblegum.


Wisteria, whose fragrance will soon overpower the neighborhood.


Redbud tree in neighbor's yard.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Perplexing Issue of Pinning and Copyright

For the past two weeks, I've been struggling to make a decision for my blog about pinning and copyright. The problem is, I don't really know how I feel about it. On the one hand, I'm flattered that so many people want to pin something I've made, and I did put it on my blog to show other people how to make it. On the other hand, I'd like to have credit for it, and if someone is going to make money off of my photo, I'd just as soon it was me. Some people, artists in particular, are adamantly opposed to Pinterest, Indulgy, and similar sites, and if I were an artist creating a picture to sell online, I probably would be too. I wondered if my feelings about it even matter when copyright infringement is obviously wrong? And I wondered if my policy, whether for or against pinning, would have a ripple effect? If I endorse pinning, am I culpable of encouraging copyright violation, and making it harder for those who take a stand to protect their copyrights? If I denounce pinning, will it serve to educate pinners, and result in improvements at pinning sites which are fair to both sides? Or does it matter what I do at all?

To most people on the internet, copyright isn't an issue they've ever considered. A lot of people don't know what copyright means, or don't care. They think that if something has been placed on the internet, it is free for them to take. And a lot of it is. But a lot of it isn't either. I'll admit, after first getting online fourteen years ago, I didn't give it a lot of thought. If I typed "Free clipart" or free anything into a search engine, I didn't check to see if the website offering it really owned it. I just saved it onto my computer and used it whenever I wanted on the forums I frequented. Everyone else did so it was okay, right?  Yes, I was a lemming.

But then I had a personal experience with copyright theft. About ten years ago, I created a genealogy website at geocities. Remember geocities? It was free, and free was the only thing I could afford back then. I put my entire family tree on it, with photos of me, my husband, kids, everyone in the family for whom I had photos. I really never thought of anyone searching out any of the names in my tree, or ever seeing my website. Search engines weren't as good then and geocities itself was hard to search. But one day I was searching for more information on my great grandmother, and I came across my entire tree and a lot of the photos of my ancestors and living relatives. To say it freaked me out would be an understatement. I did get my photos removed from that site, and I removed all my family photos from my website. What I didn't know is that while the person removed my photos from their personal website, they kept the photos on their computer, and they pop up from time to time on Ancestry trees which can be copied over and over so many times that no one knows where the photo originally came from. It took several years to get the photos of my living relatives off Ancestry, and I'll never know if they are gone forever, or just for now. Eventually, it won't matter as I have few living relatives left, and I will never put my photo on the internet again.

So when I started blogging, I was fairly careful of the photos I posted. Most were my own, and I made sure all the others were in the public domain. But I didn't know that attribution was necessary even for those photos, so I have taken off all those too since I don't remember where I got them. And through the years, I've noticed that my blog photos have sometimes been copied to other blogs and to facebook.

And that brings me to Pinterest. I first heard about it almost two years ago, but didn't really understand what it was, or why it mattered. If I wanted inspiration, I just searched google images. If I found an image that interested me, I clicked it, went to the website and bookmarked it. The bad thing about bookmarks is that you have to open every one to find the right one, or the links get broken, or the images get removed, or as I experienced, the computer crashes and it's all lost. Then I started a blog just for projects I liked so they could be easily found with a link back to the original post for all the details. But that took a lot of time because I only featured projects after getting written permission from the author, and a lot of people I ask never respond. I don't know if my request went to their spam folder or what.

So I looked at Pinterest again, signed up, and pinned a few things. Then, I saw a segment on our local tv station about Pinterest violating copyright law. You can watch the video here. It bothered me to the point that I took most of my photos off Pinterest. If I couldn't find the original source of the photo and see written consent on the website to pin the photo, I took it off. That left me with two photos. Well really one legal photo as I couldn't find the source of one photo. It had been pinned so many times that it's source was unknown and I couldn't find it through an image search either. It's an important photo to me and I'll share why in a future post.  I have it on there in hopes the owner will one day find me through it. I've since added two more photos that had written consent of the owner. But locating the source and written permission is time consuming, and most people don't care enough to do that.

I get enough hits off pinterest that I know some of my photos are pinned and repinned regularly. Yet, up until now, my posted policy has been that all rights are reserved and I have never had someone ask to pin or copy any of my photos. I spent thirty minutes one day searching for just one of my photos and found it pinned on hundreds of boards. One board, owned by a home improvement store (who should certainly know about copyright infringement), had the photo pinned with over a thousand repins. Some pins had a link to my blog, and others had links to google, to another blog, or it would say "uploaded by user" which I think means that the user saved it to their computer and then loaded it to Pinterest. So much for my policy.

I began making a mental list of pros and cons, watching other blogs to see what they did, and reading articles online to find out the legalities and why so many were so against it. Most are either similar to the tv news segment I linked, or so emotionally charged that it was hard to see any logical reasoning behind it. There was one extremely well written and easy to read article by Anile of Girlfriday on the Ethics of Pinterest that explains every salient point against Pinterest. I encourage you to go ahead and click on the link, it is placed here with her permission. It will come up in a new window so you can read it now or come back to it when you finish this.

Both Anile and the tv news story I linked say that Pinterest discourages self-promotion, or pinning your own stuff while at the same time saying you can only pin things to which you own copyright or have obtained permission. However, soon after that article was written, Pinterest changed the policy on self promotion, and also removed a clause about selling pinned items. You can read that in this BizJournal article and here in Pinterest's current Terms of Service. While I was poking around Pinterest, I noticed that Disney and Mackenzie's Child boards do pin their own items. I haven't been a fan of Disney in recent years, but I was impressed to see that in all their boards checked, they had not pinned anything that didn't belong to them. Well done, Disney!

I also corresponded with several well-known bloggers I follow, to see how they regarded pinning of their projects. Some thought it hurt their sales because pinners pinned off other boards instead of coming to their blog, some said they didn't care as long as there was a link back to their blog. One told me she thought pinning helped them through the number of hits she received every month from Pinterest because her advertisers paid her by the number of blog hits as well as the number of clicks to the advertisers website. I wonder about that last statement though. I average 500 hits a month from Pinterest according to Google Analytics. Those are just the ones who are curious enough about my projects to want more information. I would guess there are three times as many who just repin and go on. I can't see that those Pinterest hits have helped or hindered my blog. I don't think it has resulted in more comments or more followers. Most of the Pinterest referrals stay on my website for a minute or less, and don't visit other pages. But I doubt it would be any different if they came from a google search except it might take a little more time to pin the photo.

One blogger I corresponded with said that one of her photos had been taken off her blog and used on another site where it went viral. You can read her story here She was upset that a) someone was claiming the photo was hers, and b) she was losing out on the income generated by those hits. She acknowledged that photo theft is common on the internet and takes precautions now, but this was a photo posted before she started watermarking.   This happened to me also.  I found my headboard bench photo on another blog. I tried to contact the blog owner through the comments but I don't think it worked and their contact information is not available on their blog. My only alternative was to post a comment on their facebook page asking them to remove it, and they removed my comment. I was not contacted for permission to repost my pictures or my content. Very frustrating.  I finally resorted to contacting the owner of the web host and they contacted the web owner and got it removed.

And speaking of watermarking, I used to just put my name or the name of my blog on my photos, but now I put the blog url so if my photo is posted anywhere else, people will know where it came from. It's a shame that we have to do that. It's a shame that people can't respect the property of others, whether it is jewelry locked inside your home, your car parked in a parking lot, or intellectual property posted on your own website.

In some of the articles I read, the writers complain that Pinterest loads a full size photo of the item rather than a snap shot like Google. That may have been true about Google at the time they wrote the articles, but now an image search on Google results in the page of snapshots, and clicking on a snapshot brings up the full size photo. Someone can save the picture right there, or with another click, go on to the website. I agree with those writers that it would benefit Pinterest, Google, and bloggers if Pinterest and Google only loaded a snapshot which, when clicked, brought the user to the blog of the original photo. It would leave little doubt where the photo originated, give all parties a chance to make money from the clicks, and encourage the pinner to read the copyright policy of the photo owner.

Pinterest does seem to be making some positive changes since I joined a year ago. At that time, when I pinned from someone's board, there was no attribution information, and now that comes with the repin. And it comes with the original pin too. Since I haven't made any pins directly from a website because I never downloaded the pin grabber, I don't know if it's always been that way or not. As a test, I found a couple of my pinned photos linked to google instead of my blog. I emailed Pinterest and asked them to take the photos down, citing the link on my blog, the fact that the pinned photo had my blog name on it, and gave them my name and my blog name. Within thirty minutes I had a response from Pinterest. Unfortunately, they wanted a lot more information from me before they would remove the photos. Another blogger told me that when she finds her photo pinned without a link back to her blog, she pins a comment to the pinned photo giving the correct link. As another test, I pinned a comment to one of my pinned photos, and while that will work to notify anyone seeing the comment, it will not follow if the photo is repinned, nor does it notify the original pinner, so in my opinion, it does little good. I think if you want your photos to be linked to you, you need to contact Pinterest when you find one that is not linked correctly. You'll find everything you need for that here at their Copyright Policy page. They do act on the requests quickly when all the required information is sent. Indulgy, however, tends to ignore the requests entirely when sent by email.

So for me, these questions remain: what decision do I make about pinning and will it adversely affect anyone else?  1 Corinthians 8:9 says "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling  block to the weak."

The verse is talking about eating food that was sacrificed to idols, which the Christian knows is not a true sacrifice, but a new Christian would not understand that difference.  In the same way, my freedom to allow people to ignore my right to own my photo may cause them to ignore the rights of others who do want to remain sole owners of their photo.  That is my moral dilemma.

I can revise my policy and ask that people link back as other blogs do, though if they didn't read it before, they're not going to read it now. I can add a Pin it button to each photo to make it easy for people to copy the photo to their Pinterest and increasing the odds that photos will be linked back. Or I can add code to my blog to disable the Pinterest image grabber.

The choice that seems right for me is to add a Pin it button to photos with a prominent copyright notice. At this time, I don't make any money from visits to my blog and probably never will. Like I said before, I did put the photos on my blog to show people, and it is flattering when people like them. If I have something that I would like to use for my own profit, I simply won't post it to my blog. I'm sorry if that is a disappointment to people who are fighting against copyright infringement and I do wish you well. I'm just too busy and too tired to tilt at windmills.  The best I can do is report the pins which aren't linked back and put a strike against the pinner.

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If you are going to pin, pin responsibly:

  • Pin from the source
  • Pin with permission
  • Respect the rights of the copyright owner
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If you don't want to be pinned, or don't want your photo linked to another's blog, beware:

Some big name bloggers feature other bloggers and put a pin under the other blogger's photo, which means the pinned photo is then linked to the big name blogger's blog.  (Yes, I tested them to see what happened)

Some linky parties have a notice to the effect that whoever links agrees to allow their photo to be pinned by others.  (I didn't check those to see whose blog they linked.)

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Other links you might be interested in:

How to add code to add to your website to keep your images from being pinned.

How to add a Pin It button to your blog.

Pinterest Alternatives

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Edited March 18, 2013 to add: I just added a pin button to my headboard bench and was shocked to see that it has been pinned 64,000 times, four times the hits I am getting from Pinterest from all my pinned projects. So, yes, I do think pin sites are hurting more than helping.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

I Found My Header, But Something is Wrong With It

I've been locked out of part of my blog pictures since the crash of 2012, but all the stars aligned yesterday and Chrome finally let me open that album. I went through my photos and found my header photo, but it doesn't fit the template the way it used to.

I'm going to leave it up a few days until I either get it fixed or make another header. If you have any idea of how to stretch it, let me know.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Attention Gardeners, The Yummies Are Here!

Seen at both Home Depot and Lowes. Hubby bought the last two at Home Depot and I put in a call asking when the next shipment is due to arrive.

If you have never grown or tasted a Yummy, it's a small, sweet, bell pepper. Sweet isn't even the word for it. They are the candy of all vegetables, sweeter than a lot of fruit. The picture on the peppers Hubby bought don't look like the peppers we grew several years ago. Those were tiny red peppers, about the size of a strawberry. The photo on these is of a larger, yellow pepper.

The Yummy pepper we planted before grew very slowly, and never had more than three peppers on it at one time. So if you can find these plants, buy at least four of them. We haven't been able to find them for the past two years. I collected seed from our last pepper, and tried to grow it, but of course it was a hybrid so I didn't expect much. It grew all summer and never produced a single pepper. That first year we grew one, the first peppers on it ripened just before we were to leave on vacation so Hubby picked everything in the garden and took it to work. The guys dug into the bag and after tasting these little peppers, they said they were the best peppers ever and wanted to know if there were more. So we were anxious to get a taste when a few more finally ripened. And like I said, they are like candy. Hubby doesn't even like bell peppers and he loved these.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ok Kids, The Deed is Done

I am now state of the art, au courant, and totally up on the current trend in cell phones. It did take two trips to the local AT&T store and one trip to the Apple Store in Dallas, but my new iphone is finally working. I can call, I can text, I can photograph, and I can surf. All it will take now is someone to show me how. lol

Right now I'm struggling to find the menus and tap the letters in the correct place so the right one comes up. I seem to be erasing more letters than I am leaving right now. But about the time you have your iphone 9 or 10, I should like this one just fine.

So let the fun begin. Tell me how to take a picture.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hubby Thinks I'm a Grouch

Actually, he thinks I'm too negative. I think it hit him when I yelled at the new computer for the tenth time, or the two thousand and tenth time. However, when I pointed out his negative moments, he reluctantly admitted being a fellow naysayer, and then we agreed that we're both too negative. So we've spent the weekend trying to be less negative. It's hard. There's a fine line between pointing out a negative fact and being negative. It doesn't help that negative comments are much funnier.

Saturday, we went to The Woodworking Show at the Fort Worth Convention Center so we had a lot of together time. And a lot of time to point out the other's negative remarks - in a teasing way of course. The show was a big disappointment and the weather was not cooperating, so we had a lot of opportunities to avoid being negative. And we slipped up a lot too. By the end of the day, we were both doing much better at curbing our tongues. Today, we've spent time working apart, so we haven't been talking to each other (or to ourselves) very much.

Now the hard part - being positive. I'm reminded of the list of positive sayings we had on the fridge when the kids were young. Things like "way to go", "you're the best", "keep up the good work". It also reminds me that I am more positive with the cat in his carrier training than I am with Hubby or others. I tell Buddy "good boy" with a scratch behind the ears at least twice a day but I can't remember the last time I scratched Hubby behind the ears. (That was a joke.) What I mean is that I haven't been an encouragement Hubby or he an encouragement to me.

So here is a new beginning, and I'm going to start by telling all of you, and my family who is reading, that I value your support and think you're the best.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It Took Two Computer Crashes in Two Months, but Lessons Learned

Most of you already know about this, but for those who just happen across this post, this is my recent history. And let me start by admitting that I know almost nothing about computers. I am the antithesis of a geek, a technophobe even.

My computer of 7 years crashed right before Christmas. The hard drive failed and none of the files could be saved. I lost tons of photos, some genealogy stuff, budget spreadsheets, and who knows what all. The computer repair place I use told me if it had been a solid state hard drive they would have been able to get my files off, but most computers have a hard drive with moving parts and when it goes, everything in it is toast.

I bought a cheap Toshiba from Best Buy and had trouble with it from the get go. It had Windows 8 and every time I took the computer back to Best Buy, it would either work right or they would tell me it was a Windows 8 thing, and I did find plenty of complaints about the same thing and all blamed Windows 8. So last week, I turned the thing on, and a screen came up saying it couldn't find the drive. I took it in and they said the hard drive had failed. 2 months to the day that I bought it. Luckily, I learned my lesson with the other one, and didn't put any files on it. I had saved a bunch to Favorites and saved some photos of things I want to make, but the loss was minimal. Best Buy said they would send my computer off and have a new hard drive installed but since I didn't have the hard drive backed up, I'd have to buy a new operating system for around $200, and I told them I'd rather not have that lemon at all. So they gave me a credit for what I paid, less $50 and I bought an Asus. I just got it going this weekend, so Monday was really my first day using it. So far so good, but it has Windows 8 too, and I'm not loving that. But try to find a computer at Best Buy without it.

I've spent the last 2 months dealing with computer issues, trying to rebuild files, and trying to blog regularly. I've also been trying to work on projects around the house. I've been sick twice, Hubby had the crud that lasted a week, and I still haven't taken my Christmas iphone out of the box. Maybe tomorrow.

We bought the computer from our local Best Buy but had to pick it up from a store in the city. Before picking it up, the Geek guy showed me how to create a recovery disk of the hard drive before downloading the security software and Microsoft Office. But when I got the computer home, and began following his directions (which I had written down), the Recovery app wasn't where he said it would be on the All Apps screen. I searched the net for directions to find it, and all I found were more questions on how to find it. I thought Windows 8 had been around long enough for there to be at least ten tutorials on eHow and youtube. But there was nothing. So I took the computer back to Best Buy and my favorite Geek, James, found it.

 If you found this blog while searching for the steps to create a Recovery disk on an Asus computer (mine is a Q500) with Windows 8, here it is.



From the Start Screen, right click anywhere on the background.



A popup will appear at the bottom. Click on All Apps in the corner.



Scroll to the right end.  (Scroll appears at bottom when you mouse over). Click on Control Panel.



Click on Recovery.



And there you are.  Click on Create a recovery drive, and follow the directions there.


Lessons I learned from all this:

1.) Back up your hard drive, even if you don't have anything on it. Then if your hard drive crashes, you only have to replace the hard drive and not the operating system, which is also a couple of hundred dollars. I backed up the new one on a 16G flash drive for $14. If I can remember where I put the flash drive when the time comes, I've got it made.

2.) Put your files twice on any of these, external hard drive, CD, flash drive. I've put floppy disks in the computer before and have them unreadable. Haven't had it happen to a flash drive, but I've heard of it. Buy a computer with a solid state hard drive if you can afford it, but it's much cheaper to buy an external hard drive and a few flash drives. Much cheaper.

3.) If you buy a new computer from Best Buy and have any problems at all, take it back within the first 30 days. Every month afterward, they deduct a percentage from the refund amount.

4.) Best Buy has a Geek plan for $199 per year, or $99 with the purchase of a new computer. With that, they will work on 3 computers, even if you didn't buy them there. They will remove viruses and malware, remove added junk that slows down the computer, and just about anything that isn't hardware related.

5.) If you happen to get the FBI Moneypak Ransomware Virus, take it to a reputable computer repair place, or Best Buy to get it removed. A friend of my mom's was on Facebook and a box popped up. He thought it was a message box from a friend so clicked on it, and it was that virus. They demanded $200 and shut down his computer. He wired them the money. Best Buy charges $150 to remove it, which is cheaper than the ransom plus it is removed, and the virus is probably still on that guy's computer. While we were buying my new laptop, someone came into Best Buy with a computer locked down by the Ransom Virus. If we happen to get it, we have the Geek plan so can get it removed for nothing extra.

6.) Again with the Ransom Virus and other malware. Don't click on anything you aren't 100% sure about. By the time you see the Ransom popup, the virus has already infiltrated your computer from some link you clicked on earlier. The links are usually in an email but some people say they never clicked on a link in an email. Even links on websites can be tampered with by the virus, putting a link in a post or on a website that the original writer did not intend to do and knows nothing about. Mouse over the link before clicking on it, and look at the bottom of your screen to check out the url first. You can't do that with tiny urls, which has always been a bugaboo of mine. And watch out for popups.

7.) The Geek at Best Buy said to use the browser Google Chrome as it gets fewer viruses (so far) than the others.

8.) If 2 computers die on you and everyone in the house gets sick in the same two months, check your karma.

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Cat, and Why You Should Never Tie a String to a Cat

I don't know if all cats are like ours. Maybe Buddy's early life on the dodge made him a little neurotic, or maybe all cats are neurotic. Take for instance the way he acts when he is out in the yard with us. He sprawls on the deck or in a chair, basking in the sun or cooling in the shade, looking like a perfectly domesticated cat. But when he thinks he is alone, he creeps furtively, hugging the side of the house or shed as he makes his way to the grassy back yard. When he reaches a corner, he pauses to study the grass in front of him before he moves, and then slowly and stealthily, he crosses the grass to the deck and disappears under the steps. When I next see him, his head emerges from the foliage of the crinum lilies and once again he studies the, deck before jumping onto it.

Even though he has clean, filtered water in the garage, he prefers to drink from the pond, and while hunched over the rocks, he drinks and watches the fish swim beneath the surface. The fish are wary, and seldom come close to the edge; visits by the blue heron trained them well. After drinking his fill, Buddy walks around the pond and crouches on the edge of the deck overlooking the cannas. Hubby and I wonder if he caught something there one time, or smells the scent of a mouse path.

Buddy loves the tall grass in the meadow area, though he usually stays on the edge of the mowed paths. He knows the meadow larks and rabbits like to hide in the tall grass and have to cross the mowed paths eventually and he is patient. But not patient enough. He looks around and the bell on his collar jingles, warning birds and rabbits that he is nearby. Then he stands up as if he meant to do that, and he walks into the grass and out of my sight.

When I call him for dinner, many times he comes streaking across the next door neighbor's front yard. He must have been visiting the neighbors on the other side. He doesn't want me to see where he came from and stops at the row of photinias, where he stretches as if he had been snoozing there all afternoon.

I'm curious where he goes and what he does during the day. But I'll probably never know. There are at least two of his breakaway collars laying somewhere along his journeys.

I've always been curious about my roaming cats. When I was a little girl, I had a male cat I named Mr. Muffin. He was a big, beautiful, tom cat with long black and white fur. He loved our little dog, but made the other neighborhood dogs walk on the other side of the street. One time I tied the end of a ball of string to his collar so I could see where he went. I pulled out a section of string so it would be loose and then I watched as the string pulled away. I waited as patiently as an eight year old can wait until the loops of string stopped moving and then I followed the string. He went straight to the back of our yard, climbed over our back fence, and crossed the alley to Mrs. Northern's fence.

Mrs. Northern was a crotchety old woman who screamed at us because our swing squeaked (she stood on our gas meter so she could see over our fence); she screamed at our next door neighbor because their fence was patched, and she screamed at my mother for not mowing the middle of the alley, even though they never touched the middle either. They had a lattice style fence and lots of shrubs around the perimeter of the backyard. And the string disappeared between the boards of her fence. Peering through the lattice, I saw a tangled maze of string wound around the trunks of shrubs, criss crossed over itself, and finally wrapped several times around the trunk of tree where it ended, tied to the collar of my very annoyed cat.

I shinneyed over the fence behind a tree that blocked the view from Mrs. Northern's house, and crept through the underbrush until I reached Muffin. After I broke the string, he ran in one direction and I ran the other, both of us anxious to get out of that backyard. Later that evening when Mr. Muffin finally came home again, my mother saw the string on his collar and asked why it was there. I plastered an innocent look on my face and repeated the mantra known to kids the world over: "I don't know."

I don't know what Mr. or Mrs. Northern did when they found the labyrinth of string in their shrubs, but apparently they never suspected me or my brother or I am certain I would have been confronted. But at last I knew what Mr. Muffin did when he left our yard, or at least what he did when he left our yard with a string tugging on his collar.

Blessings, Marti

Friday, March 1, 2013

Firmoo Glasses Review

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Antonio at Firmoo, offering me free single vision glasses if I did a review on my blog, good or bad.   If you haven't heard of them yet, Firmoo is an online company that sells frames and lenses for teens and adults, single vision, bifocal, computer distance, sunglasses, and more, and all at prices the tightwad in me loves.  With Firmoo, new customers get the first pair of glasses free, so you can get a free pair also and you only have to pay shipping. See the link at the end of this post.

From Firmoo:

The old opinion that glasses are only necessities for people with vision problems has already gone. Glasses are increasingly becoming a fad and must-have accessories for celebs and fashionistas. Everyday we can spot millions of non prescription glasses wearers and we are constantly fascinated by many noted film stars’ signature non prescription glasses.They instantly upgrade your look of modern,sexy, vintage or geek by wearing different styles of frames.

Any hot glasses/sunglasses /goggles frames you want can be found on Firmoo, and all are available for both prescription lenses and non-prescription lenses. Are you desperate to have a new look? Now here is the chance, Firmoo has launched a First Pair Free Program to people worldwide. You will absolutely fall in love with the excellent quality, affordable prices, fashionable designs, fast delivery and the good service after trying them with paying shipping only! You even can get a refund/exchange if you are not satisfied with them. It's totally Risk free, so why not have a try?

To be honest, when I got the email, I sent it to my spam folder.  People with big name blogs get offers to review products, not me. But then I started thinking about it, and decided to see if any other bloggers had gotten the same offer, and if so, what they had to say about it. Well, I was surprised (and pleased) to see that the offer was legitimate. 

There were a few details to work out, like getting a new glasses prescription, what kind of glasses I could use since I wear bifocals, and how I would photograph their glasses since I don't post photographs of myself online.  But after all that was worked out, I filled out the easy form on their website.  To see what glasses are going to look like on me, I could either upload a photo of myself or choose one of their face shapes.  I used one of theirs and I must say, the glasses are a perfect fit and look good on me too.



The glasses came today and they are pretty nice. It was eight business days from the time I placed the order until I received the glasses, which is remarkable considering the distance. My local optometrist glasses took five business days.  (I bought bifocals locally.)  The pair I got doesn't seem to be available anymore, but there are some on the website now that I like even better. The glasses came in a hard shell case, with cleaning cloth, replacement screws, and an extra pair of nose pads. I didn't get that much with the glasses from my local optometrist.   I was also surprised that they fit perfectly, which is also more than I can say about the pair from my local optometrist.  Their website does have a virtual try out. I didn't upload my photo, but picked a face that was shaped like mine so I thought they would look good on me, and they do.

I decided to get a pair of glasses with distance correction to use while watching tv.  If you wear bifocals, you know how hard it is to watch tv while reclining.  You have to push the glasses down on your nose so you can see through the top section.  And even though I got them just to watch tv, I couldn't resist putting them on in the car after I pulled them out of the mail box. I could see perfectly, without that annoying glare I get from the line on my bifocals. Again I was surprised because I could also easily read the speedometer and radio screen and I hadn't expected that. The speedometer is a little blurry with my single vision contacts. I think these will be my driving glasses as well as tv glasses. Oh and about the tv watching with them? Pure heaven.

In case you are thinking I am giving a good review for these glasses because they gave them to me, you're wrong. Antonio at Firmoo said to give an honest review, good or bad, and it just so happens that they are very good.    Believe me, if they had been crap, I would have told you they are crap.  I even spent a few minutes exchanging my new Firmoo glasses and my new optometrist glasses. The distance lenses are identical.  The frames seem sturdy, but a little more lightweight than the semi-rimless from my local optometrist.  Time will tell how well they hold up, and I'll report back to this post if anything changes.

I've gotten glasses and lenses from optometrist offices and Wally mart, and now online. And of the three, these were the best value. You can get a free pair too as Firmoo offers the first pair free to new customers. All you pay is shipping. You probably have more questions, and you can find out more at the FAQ page of their website. And I'll answer any questions you might have too.

It's been two weeks since I wrote the above post, and while I'm still pleased with the glasses I got from Firmoo, I don't think I would ever buy bifocals online.  I bought two pairs of bifocals from my local optometrist, and have had quite a time getting both of them adjusted.  On the straight line pair, the near vision bifocal part wasn't right and had to be redone.  On the progressive pair, the near vision was placed too far down on the lenses and they had to be redone.  I'm supposed to pick them up today.  All in all, bifocals can be a hassle, and I'd just as soon keep that hassle at a local office.

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Disclaimer: This review was done in exchange for a product. The opinions are my own.