Sunday, February 28, 2010

Middle Sister's February Reads

The Rover Boys in Business, Or, The Search for the Missing Bonds by Edward Stratemeyer; The Kindle for PC app allowed me to read this long OOP book; it was an experiment to see if I liked the app, what was available etc., and I thought a children's book a great way to get started. And you know how I love old childrens mystery series!
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; I originally started this with the Kindle for PC app, but learned from the Internet that the public domain translation was not the best, so I read the Penguin edition instead. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, but it reinforced my general dislike for very long books. I never thought I had a short attention span, but I guess in this one thing, I do.
4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie; a re-read to try out the Adobe Digital Reader app
Final Curtain by R. T. Jordan, a birthday gift from Li'l Sister

I'm currently reading 3 other books, including the one you gave me for Christmas, Big Sis (one at night in bed, one in the car, one on my laptop).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

NJ This Winter

Jack shoveling a path to the door of the lake house.The road to the lake house.
2' of snow at the lake house.

Digging out the pick up truck at home.
Only about a foot at our house.
There are some photos from our house this weekend. We took a ride up to the lake and, well, you can see there was quite a bit of snow up there!
I really LOVE snow, but as we get older (note the "we," not an "I"), I worry about J having to shovel it all. Yes, I know, he has no heart condition or any serious health issues, but he's no spring chicken anymore! Who's to say when too much is too much! Especially when he's not taking his cholesterol or reflux meds anymore.
Why isn't he, you ask?
Because he won't take any time off from school to go to the doctor and our doctors don't have evening or weekend hours. And they won't just renew a prescription without seeing you first. I'm calling this week to make an appointment for him for April, when he's finally off, and I'm going to ask if they'll give him enough to get him to the appointment... Maybe they'll do that - his reflux, especially, is giving him torture, so he doesn't eat.
Yea, you hear me, he doesn't eat. Which, of course, can have nothing to do with his reflux bothering him more... as sarcasm drips...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Read a Book Under the Autumn Trees

"Read a book under the Autumn trees"

That's what my daily piece of Dove (insert registered trademark here) dark chocolate told me to do today. You two have the perfect excuse, except that it would be to read a book during the winter blizzard.

Hope you do get a chance to relax and enjoy the beauty and quiet of a winter storm. And don't forget--post your February Reads by the end of Sunday. You can include magazines, if you want.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adobe Digital Reader and OverDrive, Part 2

Okay, I finished my first book on Adobe Digital Reader. A nice read, nice format, etc., but having to read on a laptop or pc is cumbersome and awkward, but not impossible. Since this is a library book, I don't believe anything can be sideloaded to another instrument for ease of reading.

Now on to OverDrive, the software that lets you listen to digital books. You know how enthralled I am by audio books and how last summer I was thinking about getting a Nano Classic simply so I could download podcasts and books from BBC Radio and elsewhere while on the go. I never bought one, and continue to listen to books on the laptop, so my experience is limited by having to move the laptop around to every room with me and find a clean spot for it. Not easy in my house!

Downloaded the software off the web easily (installed in less than 2 minutes). Downloaded the upgrade to Windows Media Player easily (and instantly). Tried to download my first book from my library (I selected 2 titles yesterday to experiment with) and after 40 minutes and it being only half done, had to cancel the download and go to work. So, downloading chapter by chapter may be the way to go, although frankly downloading the whole book at one time would be more convenient. It may be my laptop, which is three years old this month, but which has lots of memory still available since I don't have any huge games or video on there, so I don't think the fault lies there.

Stay tuned. I really want this to work so will keep fiddling with it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adobe Digital Reader and OverDrive

My local public library allows you to take out electronic books now, using both OverDrive and NetLibrary. I've downloaded both onto my laptop and this weekend started my first ebook using Adobe Digital Reader. My thoughts:

At first it looks like you only have two choices for font size, but multiple clicks on each tab will increase and decrease several times, so you can make as big or small (even to having both pages on a small screen) as you like. A plus.

The page numbers of the original, in this case a mass market paperback, are included on each page, regardless of how large your font is. Big plus! Book groups can reference a particular passage by page, not by chapter. I don't see why this is a problem, but it's the one downside to the Kindle (I anticipate Amazon fixing that very fast). Also, another big plus is a running page tally on top (75 out of 204, for example). I like to know how far into a book  I am. Again, the Kindle doesn't do this within the text (it does provide a graphic on the front menu page, but not actual page numbers), but I think that will be an easy app someone will design this year.

Chapter headings are hyperlinked so you can jump to a chapter from a window that lists all of them if you are reading multiple books at the same time, or want to go back to a particular chapter. I can't figure out how to collapse the window with chapter listings on the left side of the screen so that text is maximized, but that's okay. Otherwise, like the Kindle, it will automatically open to where you ended if you don't close the book. I haven't used the bookmark option yet so can't tell you how well it works.

I'm reading on a laptop. If you're not using an ebook reader that can operate with OverDrive, reading is not comfortable. I tried to prop the laptop on my lap and get comfortable, but it's not easy with a regular-sized laptop (and a small cat who insists on sitting on your lap when you read). Would be even worse on a desktop. Big minus. Selecting an ereader that has an OverDrive app is one option, but I'm not happy with that selection for various reasons. Also, you use the arrows to turn pages (right and down arrows advance, left and up arrows go back). Don't accidentally hit the return button--it closes the program and goes to the Internet to the Adobe Digital Editions home page. Ask me how I know. I reflexively hit return about 5 times during the first hour of reading.

My eyes did get slightly tired as I tend not to blink when reading or working on a monitor, something I don't notice not doing with a regular book. The eInk technology might therefore make a big difference if you're an avid reader.

Big plus--being able to get online, peruse the library offerings, and receive it without having to drive to the library. Great option for home bound or people on a gas budget. Minor minus--it took 4 days for the ebook to be available to me, so somehow there is a limited number of digital editions that can be checked out.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Okay, Little Sister...

Next time you start wishing you had a house, don't. In December, I noticed my kitchen ceiling paint was flaking off. I checked out the whole ceiling, but no other flaking and no spots. Today, there is a brown spot, which suggests water, which suggests roof issues, which, if true, means a lot of money for a repair which I don't have. So if I had it to do over again, no I wouldn't buy a house. Too many big ticket items you are responsible for that can't be avoided. If I was still in my apartment or a rental house, all I'd have to do is call the landlord. Now I'm thinking home equity loans, getting rid of Mom's and my cell phones, and my Dish service, because that's all I haven't pared off my budget for the new car. My mood matches the gray rain outside.

If it's bad news, I'll have to change my plans to come to NJ for A's graduation, sadly. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Duncan's insured

Duncan had an eye infection this week, and last month giardia (yuck!), so I signed him up for his free month of insurance through the AKC. They reimburse 80%. Guess I'd better shop around for the best coverage! His little face is so close to the ground he may pick things up easily!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dog Ramp Success!

So, gals, you know I've been complaining about Mr. Big's repetitive stress injury and/or the tendon calcifications in his back leg making it very difficult for him to jump into my new car, Big Red. I ordered a telescoping dog ramp (this very one!) for him on Friday of last week, and it arrived yesterday. After just a few minutes of introduction, with it laid flat in the hallway, and using copious treats, I propped it on the car and had them practice getting in and out. Success! Mr. Big took a few tries to get used to it, but I think it's percolating into his brain that this is an easy way for him to get in (out isn't a problem, but I'll probably use it for both entry and exit for him). He went up and down three times. Bow Wow!! One big furry paw up!

Our next undertaking to deal with the tendon calcifications: trying a product called Acid-A-Cal (no link because I'll only do that to products I've used and like). Someone on a rottie forum said that they used it for the same problem, and a year later, after using pain medication, rest, and this product, x-rays revealed the calcifications were gone. If we can't get rid of them, Mr. Big is just going to continue to cycle through bouts of lameness followed by recovery followed by re-injury. I gave the product info to my acupuncture vet to make sure it wasn't anything that would interfere with his thyroid meds or Chinese herbs,and she said no (although she had no familiarity with the product). It's just vitamins and minerals, so I think I'm going to give it a try.

Middle Sister

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Did you know you really need heat?

Yes, folks, when you live in NJ during this awesome period of global warming, when your furnace goes, you have to replace it!

So we had my lovely mama come and wait for the local gas company to give us a quote last Friday: $7200.

They did quickly point out that they are more expensive than private contractors/plumbers, but they offer 2 years, interest-free, when it comes to payments.


We pay for our work in cash. We don't pay over time because my dear hubby has a genetic aversion to paying over time. (Did you know you could inherit this genetic aversion from an ex-wife who charged up the credit cards all the time?!?)

So we called in two plumbers. One is the one Lovely Mama uses. His quote: $4900. The second plumber was a friend of a friend. His quote: $5130.

Both estimates are substantially less than Local Gas Company's.

So right now, I'm working from home, listening to loud bangs and clangs from my basement as Mama's Plumbers replace my furnace.

Just to make this whole episode that much more stressful, we pay cash for these jobs. Did you catch that up there, earlier in this blog post? Well, needless to say (and pay attention, home robbers!) we do NOT keep $4900 in cash in our house. (In fact, we're lucky if together we're walking around with $50 in cash at any given time!)

So I left work early yesterday to go to the bank whose name includes two initials that might be T and D because they used to be Commerce Bank and Commerce Bank was one of those lovely banks who seemed to be always open, seven days a week.

Yea, well, T and D Bank is open, too, just not after 5pm on Monday - Wednesday. So I had to rush on over there this morning to get money out of our emergency fund. I left the house at 8am. What bank isn't open at 8am?

T and D Bank. They don't open until 8:30am. 8:30am?????? And they close at 5:00pm??????

I work for a living, and by the way, I don't work for a bank. Wouldn't you think a bank would accommodate its customers who actually work, usually between 8:30am and 5:00pm??????

Okay, I'm done, but just for the record, there were a lot of F-bombs flying around Clifton last night and this morning. The plumbers were due at my house at 9:00am. And let me tell you, there were here at 9:00am. ON.THE.DOT.

That's what I like - reliability. And these guys are SO darn nice. If you live in Essex County and need the name of a good plumber, leave me a comment here and I'll get their name and number to you - love these guys!!!

Well, I'm off to check work email - I'm working from home today so I can be here for the new furnace... More later!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dogs, Shows, and Rain

K and I scored perfect on our Delta Society retest yesterday--first time ever, and this was the fourth time we've taken the test. Yea! So we'll keep visiting at the hospital for another 2 years, and when it's time for her next retest, I'll have to decide whether to retire her or not. She'll be 11 then. She may be tired of visiting. Who are we kidding? That girl will be a pup till she dies.

Watched a rebroadcast of The Rape of Europa last night, about the theft of great art works by the  Nazis during WWII. Riveting, and appalling.

And this afternoon, Monica, Tania and I are going to the Museum of Art to see an exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs. Did you know he willed his collection to the UA? I can't wait to see it.

posted by Middle Sister