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Cutting the Cord …er… I Mean Cable

Just giving everyone who might try to call us a heads up that we have disconnected some of our Charter Cable services to cut expenses — including our phone service. The price on our package plan inexplicably went up almost $40 and it was kind of the last straw, after all the other issues we’ve had with them. We would have switched to Bellsouth DSL but it’s actually cheaper to keep the cable modem so we’re not quite free of them. As of 5:00 PM Thursday we will only have the cell phones. We’re also ditching our digital cable; we’ll miss HGTV and the Weather Channel but overall I think it’s a good thing to get away from the mindless chatter and constant ‘buy this new drug for this disease we’ve made up to sell it’ commercial brainwashing.

Spring cleaning!

I sold one of my junk computers for $50 which enabled us to finally buy a wheelbarrow and some gardening supplies, and we spent most of this weekend working in our yard — which was a lot more fun than it sounds. 😉

1341I don’t think I had gotten around to mentioning the ‘for sale’ sign that sprang up a few months ago beside our house. Apparently, a very large part of what we thought was our landlord’s property was actually an entirely separate piece of land… Not big enough to put a house on, but that is exactly what someone is apparently going to do. Because of this, we had to move our compost pile and are working trying to rescue as many of the plants from the little rock garden as we can before the area is bulldozed up. Joy took the rocks that were small enough to move and used them to edge the flowerbed and around the trees in the front yard.


We also sold a bunch of books and are going to put the money from that towards fencing in the back yard. First we’re taking down the nasty old metal shed in the yard because that is where our garden is going. The original place we were going to have it turned out to be on the other property. Oh well…

Anyway, in the midst of all the mowing, weed-eating, scrubbing, and re-arranging, I took a couple of pictures and have included them here.


When Geeks Hallucinate

I have been suffering from one of my periodic bouts of insomnia this week; this time, it’s not a problem with getting to sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night, but rather I just sort of drift through the entire night without feeling like I was ever truly asleep.

Yesterday morning the alarm went off and I just sort of rolled over, thinking “ugh, I feel like crap and this day is going to suck.” I couldn’t quite bring myself to get up. I wasn’t really asleep — I was aware of Maggie shuffling around in her crate, the cats moving around the house — but I suppose I was not exactly awake, either, because I found myself carrying on a conversation with a pixel.

The pixel was a transparent rounded cartoon cube, with arms sticking out the sides of the cube and skinny little Jiminy Cricket-ish legs below, and he was floating in the air. He also had a goatee, and I think, bushy eyebrows. I don’t remember what he was saying but he had kind of a gruff, scratchy voice. It made perfect sense to me that he was one of those one-pixel transparent gifs that were used a lot in web design for spacing, before CSS came along, but then I guess somewhere along the way I realized I was talking to an imaginary cartoon pixel and that I was dreaming or halucinating. The pixel disappeared and I plodded off to the shower to clear the cobwebs out of my head.

Isn’t it strange what sort of nonsense your brain conjures up? If someone told me to describe what I thought a transparent pixel would look like, if it was a ‘person’, and I’d probably have come up with something rather pixie-ish and ethereal, not a grouchy plump cube. Where the devil did THAT come from?

Hmm…. I wonder if I did a Google Images search on ‘transparent.gif’ or ‘spacer.gif’ (the names most commonly used for spacer gifs) if the results would be blank?

Weird little optical illusion

A coworker found this today. Pretty neat.

Lost Lumber

Yesterday we had a little bit of excitement… we were leaving Ingles after doing some grocery shopping and I spotted a large brindle dog standing in the middle of the shopping center entrance, looking totally lost and bewildered. I pointed him out to Joy and we drove over for a closer look. Two women in an SUV had also pulled over to see if he needed help but he didn’t seem willing to come towards them. Joy got out of the car (I stayed behind so we wouldn’t overwhelm him with too many people at once and make him bolt into traffic) and she approached him from the side, talking to him as she approached.

Surprisingly, he went right to her. After I moment or so I got out and carefully approached, and he came over to me and put his head on my leg. He was thin and shaking from the cold and clearly a very old dog. He looked so confused it was obvious he wasn’t just some local dog out for a stroll around the neighborhood, and we couldn’t just leave the poor old guy there. So we made a quick decision and into the car he went. Obviously he was well acquainted with cars because as I held his collar and Joy put the back seat up, he was waiting impatiently to get in. Away we went with our rescuee happily looking out the back window… the question was “now what?”

We took him to REACH emergency clinic to be scanned for a microchip (he had a collar on but no tags) but he didn’t have one, and we drive him around the Biltmore Forest area where we’d found him, stopping to ask joggers and people out walking their dogs if they’d ever seen him before. No one recognized the dog, and it didn’t help that he was making a point of telling them that this was HIS car, so back off.

The animal shelter would not be open until Monday morning and we were not real happy with the idea of taking him there, as if his owners didn’t turn up to find him he would most likely not be deemed adoptable due to his advanced age. If nothing else, we could at least put him up for the night while we figured out what else to do. At least with this house we have a large warm basement, so housing an extra critter temporarily is more of a possibility than it was in the past.

After a quick shuffle around of litterboxes and such, the big guy was safely inside and eating a bowl of food. He was obviously familiar with being inside, stairs, and tennis balls — which he could fit two of in his mouth at once. He was such a sweet dog we just couldn’t imagine that there wasn’t someone out there missing him, and hoped that once we called the shelters in the morning we’d find his family. Of course, the shelters are also full of really sweet dogs who got dumped like yesterday’s trash by owners who didn’t care, so we were also worried what might happen if we didn’t come up with a lost report.

We felt bad making him stay in the basement but we didn’t know how he’d be with other animals, and ours with him, so we made him a nice bed under the stairs and guiltily left him standing at the top of the stairs with a tennis ball in his mouth. We left the light on so he could find his way back down the staircase, and when Joy snuck back later to turn it off, she said “that’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen, he went back downstairs but he left the tennis ball sitting on the top step.”

We both spent a restless and uneasy night wondering what we would do if his owner couldn’t be found; we absolutely cannot take in another animal — that is a cut and dry fact — but we certainly couldn’t send him off to most likely become another sad statistic in the pet overpopulation problem, either. (My night was also restless and uneasy because Wednesday decided to try and throw up a hairball ON ME in the middle of the night, but that’s a whole ‘nother story).

Did I mention that this calf-sized dog had a bad case of diarrhea? We figured we’d probably wake up to a mess, and were not disappointed. Nothing like scrubbing a basement floor at 7 AM on a Monday morning after a poor night’s sleep… but this story, which probably sounds like the beginning of yet another train wreck in the chaos that is our lives, had a quick and happy ending. Joy called the shelter as soon as they opened and they’d had a lost report fitting his description!

Shortly thereafter, “Lumber” was reunited with his very worried owner. He had just moved to the area (amusingly, though we found the dog about 10 minutes away, he actually lives a couple of streets over from us in our neighborhood) and let Lumber out to potty; he said usually he’d have a leash on but because he was having tummy troubles and needed to go out in a hurry he just took him out loose, and that’s when 10-year old Lumber decided to take off for an adventure. Lumber is now back safely home with his mother and his human family, and we’re happy to have been able to help him get there. And we needed to scrub that basement floor anyway.