One worry I always have when donating to relief efforts is: how much of my money is going to the actual cause, and how much is going to ridiculous salaries for administrators? Apparently Direct Relief International has a bequest that covers administrative costs, so they can put the entirety of your donation toward the cause you choose. So if you’re looking for a way to donate to the relief efforts in Japan, I think that looks like a good one.
Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts’ Category
Last week we finally had to give in and replace our old washer and dryer. We deliberately did our best to nurse them along until the Labor Day sales, which worked out well. Unfortunately, our experiences dealing with Sears during our purchase interactions didn’t work out as well.
First interaction: We went in to buy the appliances. To give the sales guy his due credit, he was reasonably knowledgeable about them, although he made one or two statements that, while factually correct, I discovered later had been ambiguous enough that they’d left me with a mistaken impression of how one or two things worked. Since I’m one of those people who reads the manual, not a big deal. He also neglected to tell us that we needed to have metal dryer ductwork in place or they’d refuse to hook up the dryer when they came out to install. We only found out because, thank goodness, the automated delivery notification mentioned it. (I will say, however, that I appreciated his willingness to not hound us about buying a service plan. When salespeople try to push me into buying service plans I don’t want, I become very tempted to shop elsewhere.)
Second interaction: We went back in to buy the metal ducting. Now to be fair, when the salesman said, “oh, this is what you need,” and confidently handed us a package, we should have double-checked that he’d given us the right thing. So we’ll definitely take part of the blame for this one. Still, it was annoying to have the delivery guys tell me they’d have to sell me *more* ductwork when they arrived (thank goodness, however, that they carry some spares on the truck).
Third interaction: The delivery team seemed knowledgeable and industrious; I was pretty impressed. Until, that is, we ran the dryer—and discovered that instead of actually attaching the ductwork to anything, they’d just shoved it into the nearest hole in the wall. When we came down to get our dryer load, we found the ducting had blown out of the wall and steamed the laundry room. Not exactly good for the sheetrock, the linoleum, or the shiny new appliances (the room still smells a bit musty). And it’s the sort of mistake that really does leave me thinking, “really, Sears? What kind of experienced installation team does that?”
You expect in any major endeavor there’ll be at least one slipped detail somewhere. Parts one and two were minorly annoying, but not a big deal. However, between the fact that part three wasn’t so minor, and there were mistakes, however small, at every step, we weren’t left all that impressed with Sears. I’m going to have to look at other local options next time we need to buy an appliance.
Yesterday I got to chatting with my husband and someone else about some of the hijinks that went on at MIT when I & my husband were there. One that I didn’t think of at the time but that for some reason popped into my head last night was the human chess game.
About 10-15 years ago we noted that the tile squares in lobby 10 at MIT were the perfect size (and came in enough number) that they could hold a human chess match. So we taped off a board, rounded up two ranked chess players to play the kings and give directions and enough people to play the pieces, and held a game. When one piece “killed” another there would be a mock combat, followed by the defeated piece’s “death” and removal from the board. It was great fun, and drew quite the crowd.
I’m a bit behind on listing book reviews. Here are the latest ones for you; there are some truly brilliant entries this time!
- Shiloh Walker, Fragile
- Nalini Singh, Angels’ Blood
- Maureen Child, Bedeviled (non-review)
- Nora Roberts, The Pagan Stone
- Deborah Cooke, Kiss of Fate (non-review)
- Eileen Wilks, Mortal Sins
- Sharon Ashwood, Ravenous
- Polish & Wotz, Give the Bitch Her Chocolate
- Christine Feehan, Murder Game
- Carla Cassidy, Last Gasp
- C.J. Lyons, Warning Signs
- Ari Marmell, Agents of Artifice (Planeswalker novel)
(Phew! I hadn’t realized just how much I’d fallen behind there!)
And a kitchenware review, of the Emerilware Poultry Roaster.
There’s plenty more where that came from; I’ve already read three more books that I plan to review this week, and of course it won’t stop there! We also recently received two cookbooks for review, which we’re currently making recipes from, and so far they’re holding up quite well. So if you’re looking for good books to buy, come back often!
I get grumpy now every time I hear someone say that no, we aren’t in a recession, that everything’s fine. Why? Because I’m watching business after business shut down. I’m in a reasonably nice area by Annapolis. It’s a lot more “recession-proof” than some places. And yet, you can definitely see the effects. We walked into our long-time favorite dry cleaner’s business just before Christmas, only to find out that they’d been told that very morning that they were closing in just three days’ time and everyone was out of a job. The woman who told us this said this was the second time this had happened to her that year.
Later that day I noticed that the chocolate shop I’d always managed to barely restrain myself from delving into had vanished. The next day I saw two more empty spaces in the signage of a nearby shopping plaza. And those weren’t the last places I noticed.
Honestly, I’m thrilled we’ve gotten any sales at all at our new Etsy and Shop Handmade stores, given how steeply jewelry sales have dropped this holiday season (something like 25% overall, and it’ll be even harder for a new place like ours with no established customer base). I think it’s positively a miracle that we’ve gotten as many sales as we have. It might not be enough to call a real “income,” but in this climate I’m simply grateful that my husband has a steady job and I have a way to supplement that a bit.
So if you’ve got a steady job, spare a moment to be thankful for it today, and to hope that things get better for everyone who suddenly finds themselves struggling for work.
Anyway, several book reviews coming soon, as well as a cat update and similar bits of less depressing frippery!
I have fallen to the darkness: I set up a facebook profile. Now I’ve connected with a bunch of people I knew in college, high school, etc. and it’s kind of weird. Had a late-night chat with an old friend who apparently had insomnia at the same time I did.
Hopefully when I get off of this medication (probably tomorrow after I see my doc) the insomnia will let up and I’ll be more awake and able to get back to more reviewing. I do have some kitchenware reviews coming up, however.
I’ve been posting our friend & business partner’s handmade jewelry to the Etsy shop. His work has a more formal style than mine and a decidedly medieval flare—I think you’ll like it!
Druidic by *ErrantDreams on deviantART
In New England we had little black crickets that didn’t even make me—notorious bug wimp that I am—nervous. In Maryland we don’t have crickets, we have Dire Crickets, a reference that any D&D geek will understand in a heartbeat. They’re about five times the size of the things in New England, and way weirder looking. They look like those old crickets after a radioactivity “incident” out of a horror movie about mutants. Worse, they can survive being played with, hunted, and even chomped on by my cat for more than an hour. They’ll repeatedly play dead until he loses interest, then go on the move again. I had to trap one under an empty tea tin the other morning until my husband woke up (I’m enough of a wimp under normal circumstances when it comes to bugs; it’s worse when I have insomnia and bare feet).
Latest book review: John Levitt’s New Tricks. Coming soon: a review of Patricia Potter’s Behind the Shadows.
Speaking of holiday shopping, don’t forget the etsy store (errantdreams.etsy.com), filled with hand-made jewelry, bookmarks, etc. in a wide variety of price ranges and styles! More going up every day, and more than 100 items already up; we’ve recently started adding the newest bookmarks we’ve been making. Here are a few example photos:
I’m worried that one of our cats may be ill or in pain or something. She tends to get territorial and cranky now and then, but lately she’s practically been trying to kill her brother. It seemed to center around a cat that was coming to the back door; she’d see it through the glass, hurl herself at it, and when that didn’t work she’d go after her brother. We closed off the room that door is in, though, and yet today she went after her brother worse than ever even without that. Sometimes when one of them is feeling ill or in pain they’ll get pissy at each other, so I’m worried there might be something else going on. I made a vet appointment for her on Saturday. That won’t help her stress level any, but when we reach the point where I’m afraid to allow our two cats in the same room for fear that the next time I won’t be able to separate them…
So that plus the possibility that I might have another infection and might have to go get antibiotics again are making me stressed and cranky today.
I have some very nifty new jewelry and such that I’ll be gradually posting for sale at errantdreams.etsy.com, including a few pieces that use some remarkable handmade Jaipuri pottery beads:
Desert Oasis by *ErrantDreams on deviantART
Harder to get things done these days. As someone with mental disorders, I find my motivation dramatically reduces during the winter months. I love winter, but the lack of light isn’t good for me. I’m sleeping much better now thanks to Seroquel, but it’s adding to the appetite-increasing effect of the Effexor, which also isn’t good. Particularly when you like to cook things like homemade honey-gingerbread marshmallows:
GOOD morning by *ErrantDreams on deviantART
I plan to take most of the batch to a friend’s this weekend!
Two brief thoughts on politics. As usual, I prefer to stick to process here when I touch on politics at all, not partisanship. So take partisan arguments to other blogs.
First, I read an article this morning that said that young people really aren’t turning out much so far in Florida’s early voting. Guys—VOTE! We all like to complain that past generations have left us with a mess of a world, politically, environmentally, etc. But one of the major ways we have of trying to make a difference is by voting for the candidate we think will best clean things up. So I don’t care who you vote for—just do it! It doesn’t take that much effort!
Second, after Obama put out his ad quoting John McCain as saying he’d need a VP who could advise him on economic matters, and then showing Palin winking, there appeared a fresh wave of complaints of sexism. As a woman I’m calling bullshit. The question of whether Palin is qualified to lead the country in economic matters is a perfectly legitimate question. If she is, she’ll withstand the questioning by proving she has the credentials. If she isn’t, well, it’s important to find that out. We ask these questions of male candidates all the time. Refusing to push a female candidate for her credentials just because she’s female, THAT would be just as sexist as saying that she couldn’t understand economic matters because she’s a woman.
I’ve been making more jewelry, and I’m very pleased with some of the new pieces. Here are two that I particularly like, Ice Queen Jewels:
Ice Queen Jewels by *ErrantDreams on deviantART
and Desert Mesa Necklace:
Desert Mesa Necklace by *ErrantDreams on deviantART
You can click on the images above to look at larger versions at deviantArt. Or, you can click on the text links above them to see 5 different photos of each at Etsy, and to buy them if you wish!
My last customer commented that she was extremely impressed with our packaging. You see, I try to package each piece separately within a little jewelry gift box inside of a padded mailer. I do this for entirely practical reasons. Our mailman has driven me insane with his treatment of packages. He’s shoved things into the mailbox so hard they split open and tore the contents open. He throws things at the house—and I don’t just mean a tiny little lob. So when I package something, I ask myself, “How can I package this so it would survive treatment by someone like him?” If this has a side effect of giving the customer a really nice little box for the jewelry, that’s great!
It’s been two weeks since I skinned my knee and it’s finally scabbing over. I’ve had notoriously weak ankles all my life—I do exercises specifically to strengthen them, but nothing ever seems to work. I was on the last step of the stairs to the sidewalk out front when my ankle gave way. My foot stayed on the step, and my knee hit the concrete below it. I’m really very lucky that all I did was skin my knee. But it took enough layers off that the center refused to scab over for two weeks. Once or twice a day I had to clean out my knee and make sure it wasn’t getting infected. It’s great to finally be able to wear long pants without having to tape gauze over my knee!
Anyway, between the fact that I was in constant knee-pain until a day or two ago, and the days getting darker, and my husband having been out of town on a trip, I’ve been incredibly unproductive. But I’ve made some jewelry, and I’m looking forward anxiously to this election being over. I hope you all have a great weekend!
Edited to add: Check out the funniest campaign sign ever! Well okay, the funniest one I’ve ever seen, which is good enough for me.
Last week I had a dream in which a friend and I went back in time to before Google became large & famous and got jobs there. Since we knew they were going to become huge, we tried to buy up as much stock as possible, but the problem was that since we’d just arrived in the past, we had no lines of credit, and only as much cash as was in our pockets.
I told the friend who was in the dream about this, and she suggested that this was just strange enough that it required blogging. So there you go. Apparently I invest in my sleep. I’m not sure what that says about me.
Anyway, although I don’t yet have a book review for you, I do have a peek at a project from our business partner. He got in a crafty mood and started making Christmas ornaments. We have the first set of four ornaments up for sale at etsy now, and should have at least several more soon. The things are absolutely adorable, or, as the friend who invested in Google with me in that dream said when I sent her a photo, “that’s so adorable I may die.”
Horse Ornaments by *ErrantDreams on deviantART