New Gadetry

So Lorna got a Samsung Galaxy S7 yesterday. She wants to be the one to do all the work on it. Like, remove the bloatware, figure out how everything works, all that. I’ve walked her through a lot of stuff and let her do it all herself. She was really hands-off with her S3. And I do mean really really hands-off. I’ve had to do a few things, though, because I had to look them up and fiddle with it for a while. Like get rid of that blanketyblank visual voicemail thing (fancy name for voicemail to text on the screen because we are too damn lazy to dial 1 and listen). I wouldn’t want it if it were free so why the heck would I want to pay for it? The app is annoying because the notification won’t go away and keeps insisting you pay attention to it. So I did. And I told it…well, you can imagine the colorful terminology I used as I used my Google Foo (to no avail) then figured it out myself how to turn the notifications from the app off. You can’t turn it all the way off or you aren’t notified AT ALL that you have voice mail. Pain. In. The Ass.

Anyway…

When I started looking for her a new phone, I was hesitant to get the S6, even with as few apps as she has. The S6 was teh stoopid because it did not have the expandable memory. I wince at the non-changeable battery concept (if I wanted an iPhone, I would have gotten one!) but I draw the line at the lack of memory (again, didn’t want an iPhone). I also knew I didn’t want the S5 (poorly designed), and knew I didn’t want to go all the way back to the S4. When I read the S7 brought back the expandable memory (but not the interchangeable battery, dammit), I was hoping I could talk her into it. Lorna’s not a technophobe but she’s not all that friendly with them either. So a brand new, made this year phone? Good luck, I thought. It actually wasn’t that hard. She was so tired of her S3 and it’s crankiness.

The S7 is brand spankin’ new (just came out in early March) but that newness comes with both good and bad. Good ’cause freebies! We got a free wireless charging dock thingybob whatsit. And a big discount from Sprint. And because we had to upgrade her half of the plan (Sprint was so weird a few years ago: we have two lines on the same plan but we each had different “plans” within that plan), we actually are now going to be paying LESS each month! That doesn’t happen often.

The bad is there’s some weird quirks with the S7. Heat issues have been reported. It did get hot as it was charging and updating but that’s expected. It is something she will have to watch for this summer when she is on the mail route. Her S3 overheated a few times and turned itself off just sitting there in the car, out of the sun. The other weird thing about it makes me glad this is not my phone. For example, let’s say you have 5 pages/screens. With our other Samsung phones, you swipe from 1 through 5, you then swipe again, and you are back at 1. It was like a loop. As someone who has the max pages/screens allowed, I loooove that. You could do it in the Apps and in the Widgets, too. Lorna’s new S7 wouldn’t do it and I thought it was a setting. I couldn’t find it so I went to the wonderful peeps at Android Central and asked about it. It’s a Samsung thing and they done took it away. I’ll be keeping my Note 4 for a while!

The other gadget I talked her into (and have been for probably two years now) is another tablet. She’s been using her Nook that I got her for her birthday 4 years ago. Then Barnes and Noble stuck their heads up their ass, said it was dark, and began messing up a good thing. I have downloaded all her books from their website (they took away the download buttons and links so I cheated) and removed the DRM via Calibre (which I heart muchly). Now we can put her “Nook books” on any device and read them there. So when her Nook finally died (and no, I didn’t help it along although I was tempted) she finally agreed to getting a tablet.

We got a Galaxy Tab 2 (8″) and I think she likes it more than her phone! Setting it up was a little trickier so she let me do a lot of it. I got it updated, installed a bunch of apps I use on my tablet, and then gave it back so she can arrange it the way she wants. And what is she doing? Not reading ebooks, nope. Watching Netflix. Sigh.

I like her little Tab but it is too small for me I think. And I like the pen function of my Note 10.1 (2013 edition). But she’s loving the small size and the light weight. She is also loving her new phone. They didn’t have the screen protectors in stock so I got a “folio” case for now. She didn’t like the idea but, HA, she actually likes it! She likes that it is also “grippier” than her Otterbox case she had on the S3. And as we all know, as long as she’s happy, that’s all that matters!

Fenced In

We need to rebuild the dog lot fence. It won’t be in the same area but on the other side of the house, going down into the garden (or what once was the garden). That means the pear tree has to go. We’ll start measuring soon, deciding the size. Then calling around for estimates. The original dog lot was HUGE. The dogs miss it muchly.

The old fence was put in, wow, how many years ago? Long time ago, that’s for sure. Fifteen maybe? The part that attaches to the back porch was done later. And the Dog Deck was done back in ’09. Yeah, time flies when you’re pouring money into an old house. Which happens a lot here.

We have decided to hire a company to put it in versus us doing it ourselves. We could have a fence party, which is how the first one went in. It was a blast! But now all our friends are as old as we are. Instead, we’ll have a fence opening party and folks can bring their dogs to pee on every post. Having someone else put one in will cost more but hopefully will last longer. Before the limbs fell, most of the posts were being held up by sheer determination and honeysuckle vines.

Anyway, this is a Google maps pic of the house. The red line is where the fence used to be. Well, technically it is still there but parts of it were smashed. The yellow is all they have left and includes the Dog Deck. The pink line is about where we’d like to put it.

Another reason we need a dog fence? We have three big dogs. Mike is the smallest at 60lbs, Whisper is around 75lbs, and Sam at 85lbs. And sometime in the spring, we’ll be getting a puppy. They’ll all need space to stretch out and run.

Yes, you read that right. I’ll be getting a puppy. We’ve talked about it for a while. It’s still not written in stone final (I owe Elena an essay) but we’re getting things done that need to be done, even if the puppy doesn’t happen. Dog fence tops the list. Next is lift for truck. If I am to get a puppy to train as a Service Dog, then I need to go places more. That’s the whole point, to get me out of the house. And I can’t do that because I can’t load the chair by myself. After that is more general house arrangement stuff. You know how it goes. One thing leads to another. You can’t get one thing done until you get this other thing but you can’t get that one done until that one over there is done and….yeah, old houses. Gotta love ’em.

Moths, Shoulders, Chairs, and the American Way

A few months ago, I wrote about the pot smoking moth living in my attic. We’ve decided it’s switched to rolling its own cigarettes using whatever is on hand. This explains the smoke we smell every night between 9pm and 1am. Most of the time it smells like someone is burning trash. Nasty smell, by the way. I did have one moth actually land on my arm. I screamed like a girl and hit reverse while swatting it away. It landed under the monitor and when Lorna got finished laughing at me, she went to find it (I was out in the hall way). She never found it. I know it is under there, staring at me, waiting until my attention is diverted and then WHAM, it will land on me again. They like hearing me scream, by the way. Apparently “FUCK!” screamed just right is like crack to them.

My shoulder is no better. No worse, either. I guess that’s good. I can type longer now because I have everything so supported. A towel flat here, a rolled up towel there, lean in that direction…blah blah blah. I can type and that’s all I care about. We’ll be calling the doc about medication changes and probably going to see a massage therapist or whatever.

I am also due for a new wheelchair. I went the other day to the seating clinic where they measured and discussed what I am eligible for. And since Medicare probably won’t be around for much longer (depending on how the election turns out), we’re pushing to get as much done as we can, while we can. The big difference is we are going to try and get power leg lift. Meaning the leg rests raise and lower at the push of a button versus a bend to the side, pull out the knob, push down with feet while also pushing up or down. Pain. In. The. Ass. Monster Blue (my current chair) is a Permobil C300. The new one will be a Permobil M300. No clue what happened to D through L. Oh, and it will be silver with grey mesh seat covers. The M300 is a true mid-wheel drive vs the front wheel drive I have now. It turned better corners because there’s not wheels sticking so far out the back. And it goes in a very tight circle. And it will be silver.

And the American Way. It’s election year. Yay. All I’m saying about that. Except this: vote. Don’t care who you vote for (well, I really do but…) just as long as you vote. You don’t vote, don’t bitch later.

Oh, okay, one more thing on the election. All I hear is how the Medicare cuts won’t be affecting those over 55. That’s all cool for them but what about the rest of us? Primarily, what about those who are on Medicare because they are disabled? I dream of being able to return to work (not happening unless I am miraculously healed by a Bible wielding snake handling mouth foaming Pentecostal brethren named Brother Bob). I dream of writing enough books (and selling them!) that I earn enough to be considered gainfully employed. Hell, I’d love it if I could be put on Lorna’s insurance and get off of the limiting, embarrassing, controlling, bloated, paying-far-too-much-for-stuff Medicare.

All right. That’s enough for now.

Oh! Crap! I forgot one thing. I broke 100K on the novel! Of course, barely half of it makes sense but still. So I raised the goal to 120K. Editing will be fun.

Organization Part Do

See the pun I made?

Anyway, I worked for a grand total of 24 minutes before my back and hip was hurting to the point I could no longer bend over or lift.

Let’s see how long it takes me to recover so I can work some more.

And the problem with cleaning house is I usually make more of a mess than the one I was cleaning up. I now have several piles.

– To BestBuy (they recycle electronics for free)
– To Look Through (WTF is this for?)
– Stuff to Keep (Ah! That’s where that went! WTF is it for?)
– Magazines (do I really need that 2007 Diabetes Cooking magazine? The subscription we cancelled after just two issues?)
– Cardboard (everything is in boxes that is haphazardly stacked)
– Trash Can One (stuff that can be thrown away directly)
– Trash Pile Two (stuff that needs to be dealt with. Like the box with a huge mouse nest made out of two years worth of QST magazine. Why didn’t they use the Diabetes Cooking one?!)
– And a little pile of “Lorna Stuff”. Mostly stuff from pre-2000 that can safely be thrown away now. Right?

Organization

If anyone knows me, they will know I am not organized. I’m a complete mess. I am kinda a hoarder, too. I keep everything with full intentions of filing it. Someday. I have old computers that I kept for parts and to ‘some day’ build one for my ham shack. And speaking of ham shack, all of my ham stuff is unused, on a shelf, waiting for ‘some day’ to come along and me set up a space for my ham stuff.

Sometimes, my disorganization bites me in the butt. Like the reason for this post. I cannot find my contract I signed with RCE way back in 2006. I can’t find any of my RCE stuff prior to mid 2010. Where the hell did I put all of it? All of my royalty statements and receipts are missing.

Our dryer goes unfixed because I cannot find the receipt to prove we have a warranty. A dead car is in our driveway because I can’t find the title so we can donate it to some charity.

I am a digital hoarder as well. My WIP file (that’s Works In Progress) is huge. I save every version, even if I it is basically identical to another I also have.

I am really, really into writing right now. But I can’t because I really gotta clean house. I have a shredder. And I have three boxes of “Stuff to be Shredded”. I bet when I finally get around to it, I’ll have three boxes of shreds. Mulch, yes, but I then have to remember to use it. We don’t have closets and have very little shelving. So a ‘place for everything and everything in its place’ doesn’t work since not much as a place to be placed in. On. Whatever.

It is like last night. I went to the kitchen to get a drink. On my way, I saw the laundry basket in the Cat Room (room between rest of house and the kitchen) that needed to go back to the bedroom. So I did. Along the way, I realized it had gotten dark and I ought to turn on the hall light. Then I remembered I needed to turn on the kitchen light, too. Which reminded me of my drink. So back to the kitchen I went. As soon as I got there, I realized I was hungry so I made a sandwich and left the room. Partway through the Cat Room on my way to the Rose Room (office), I remembered the light so I went back to turn it on. Then I realized I didn’t have a plate for my sandwich so I turned around and went back to the Cat Room to get it. I am almost back to the office when I remembered my drink so I went back to the kitchen. I got the drink but stumbled over stuff in the Cat Room because, you guessed it, I’d still not turned on the light.

Meanwhile, Mike had been following me. At some point, he just sat down in the Cat Room to watch me go back and forth. Sometimes I wish I knew what was in their heads but at that moment, I was glad I did not.

Tales from the Office

To start off this tale, I must make a confession. Perhaps a re-confession because surely I’ve mentioned this before. I’m a tough butch. Except when it comes to moths. Spiders, I’ll scream like a girl but moths? I break out in a sweat and run. I’ll pull sticks out of wounds, dig in a dog’s mouth for something they shouldn’t have, and I pull off the large ticks that Lorna just won’t touch. But moths? I am so out of there.

We moved my office into a room we call the Rose Room. We call it that because, when we bought the place, that room had this fugly wallpaper with these huge roses. Lorna says they are cabbage roses. Whatever. It was peeling, ugly, and pink.

The Rose Room is in the back corner of the house. We’d never really used it for much. When we first moved here, it was a guest room. We said it was my room (in case anyone asked; but remember, this was 1992. AIDS and homophobia was a huge deal then; and our first home insurance company dropped us for no reason after a house “inspection” six months after we moved in. We later found out that they had a policy to not insure any homosexuals.). After a few years we said fuck ’em and it became a storage room. Someone else needed the bed so off that went. We used to foster critters and when we had cats, that’s where they stayed. It had no outlets and no light switch. The huge windows were held in place by spider webs and cracked caulk. We took the wallpaper down on two walls but finally gave up. We counted about six layers of wallpaper including this silvery metallic stuff we have found all throughout the house. It must have been lovely (she says sarcastically). One one wall we found the Saturday Evening Post from 1903. On another wall, we found old newspapers from the Asheville Citizen Times. We peeled off a huge chunk that turned out to be the entire front page. It declared “President Harding is Dead“. We have samples from the newspaper and magazine in storage. Some day we’ll frame them and up them up in here.

Like I said, we hadn’t used it much in a very long time. Now I’ve had my office in here for just about 2yrs. We are in the process of moving it again but that’s another story. Over that time span, I learned a lot about this old house. It creaks, groans, clanks, and thumps. So much so that I started saying we have someone living in our attic. It’s a fairly large space so it would be possible (except they’d cook in the summer).

Now back to the moths. Last summer, one got into the house and came to where the only light was: the office. It was a huge thing. It came charging into the room, hit the wall near me, and thudded to the floor. I hit reverse on my chair and was trying to get out without squishing it (don’t want moth guts on my wheels!). Mike comes over and is investigating it while I’m sweating because I just KNOW that son of a moth was going to jump on me. Then it does it’s buzzing thing and Mike goes charging out of the room. The damn thing starts ricocheting around the room, smashing into walls, the ceiling fan, and the window. At that point, I make it out and go get Lorna. It is, like, 2am and bless her heart, she was sleeping. I had slammed the door shut when I left so I knew the damn thing was in there. But we couldn’t find it. We looked everywhere. Lorna was thinking I was imagining things except Mike won’t come back into the room. He stood in the hall and peeked around the corner. That’s my big brave boy.

She finally goes back to bed and I go back into the office. I am wired by then and am thinking if I sit in here all innocent-like, it’d come out of hiding and I’d smash it. I had shoes now. I finally go to bed but shut the door hoping to keep the beast in there. After I get up, I go in and it starts buzzing again. I grab Lorna and we find it. It was HUGE. It was one of those moths with the harder and much larger body. Not as big as a Luna moth but still damn big.

With me so far?

Also last summer was when I started smelling something strange. Something I had smelled before but not in a long time. Marijuana. Either something else had that smell (no, it wasn’t my moth killing shoes) or we had a neighbor smokin’ the wacky weed. Although how the smell traveled all the way to the house, I dunno.

This is where I put all the clues together.

I decided that there was a pot smoking moth living in my attic. Seriously. It fit the profile! Noise, smell, and the size of that moth. Add it together yourself.

We’ve never had another moth like that one come in (thank jeebus). I think it’s because the things are too stoned.

Dog Ramp Revisited

We did some work on the dog ramp again. Nothing major, just added a railing. But the railing is about shin high to us so it is odd.

Joella does this thing we call “the bunny hop”. She barks and raises up so her front feet leave the ground. It’s just an inch or two. The more excited she is, the higher she goes. It’s funny to watch. Anyway, I was out back, on the side of the house with the dog ramp, and she was up there watching me. I can’t remember what I was doing. Anyway, she starts doing the bunny hop thing. She stumbles and her front foot slips off the top of the deck and she almost falls off.

We recently got a new riding mower (insert Tim Taylor ‘more power’ grunt) and I’ve been parking it in the back of the house. Joella loves to chase the lawnmowers and, not surprisingly, so does Mike. So I was using the new mower in the back near the dog ramp and saw Jo jumping and barking at me. Then she stumbled and almost fell off the edge again.

Then, a few days later, she is trying to come into the house but the boys are playing and they hit her. She falls down and nearly goes over the edge again.

We took the hint. We got some decking to make a nice wide railing and we put it up today. We wanted it high enough she could not fall but low enough they could see over it. We may later add a higher railing for human use but it’s not anything we are rushing to do.

This is Lorna standing on the ground as we put in the last piece. You can see how high the deck is on that side. It is even further down on the other side, where they do their looking and barking.

This is Lorna, Sam (the big guy), and Mike. Sam will no longer be able to jump from the ground up onto the deck (yes, he can do that with ease) but I think he’ll get over it. The railing is about chest high to him so it will be good. For some reason, Jo just would NOT come over to it. She didn’t want to so by george she wasn’t going to.

Finally, using her favorite treats, we get Jo to stand at the railing to make sure we got it good for her. We had to resort to measuring her and hoping we got it right because she just would not get near it when we were starting. Yes, she is a Princess. It turned out to be a little higher than we wanted but it will be fine.

We left an opening at one end because there just was no way to put in the railing without some redneck engineering. But when they do their barking and stuff, they are further down. We’re going to be watching to see if they move to that section just because there’s nothing there. (oh, and that’s my new lawn mower. A Cub Cadet.)

And here’s the finished thing. (click for larger version) And no, that railing at the end is not crooked. It is level. We think it is because the post on the left is higher than the post on the right so it looks tilted.

To refresh your memory (or to see what you missed)
Starting the ramp (12/7/09 – wow. has it been that long??)
Learning about the concept of “square”
And angles
Putting the boards down
Finished at last! (12/17/09)
Photos of it done (it snowed on 12/18 and covered it for over a week)