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Judy Anderson (yduJ)

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Big fire [Nov. 13th, 2018|10:06 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)

For those who don't follow me on Twitter, I'm going to repeat that my parents house was destroyed in the Camp Fire in Paradise CA, but that they are safe with my stepfather's sister in Marin County. No idea what the future will hold; they don't want to stay with my aunt forever. Homeowners insurance won't talk to them yet. I had plans to take the kids to see them at Xmas time; currently thinking we'll still do that. My aunt has a place up by Clear Lake (which was on fire last year but I guess not my aunt's town) so maybe there will be a big family reunion thing there.

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I am sick [Nov. 12th, 2018|07:15 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)
[Tags|, ]

And now so is my phone. I had the barfs all night. So that means I need to wash everything on my bed and everything I've worn recently. Unfortunately, I washed my phone with some blankets!

I guess, assuming it dries out and isn't completely hosed, at least it probably doesn't have any germs left... If it is completely hosed, I'll have to work harder on getting some new phone, since it's too old runs Android 4. Way too often I can't get to web sites due to ssl problems. I don't know how to make it get new certificates or run better algorithms; it doesn't automatically update any of those things. So, sadness. If I were more of a hacker I'd learn how to run cyanogen or something. But I'm really not interested.

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Road trip! [Nov. 4th, 2018|03:37 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)
[Tags|, , ]

I went on a road trip last week. It started with my usual square dance in the Berkshires -- but just to be interesting, I stopped at the new MGM casino in Springfield MA. I don't gamble, but I enjoy the flashing lights. I especially like Las Vegas with all the themed casinos. Well, this one isn't themed, and it isn't very big. So I dub it the MGM Petit. It had sufficient flashing lights for my desires, and it had a nice food court where we had dinner.

The dance was good; 6 squares from various parts of the country plus one couple from Japan and three people from Toronto. Only a small number of mistakes were made with refreshments. People had a good time. I played board games on Saturday night with the usual crew.

Sunday, after cleanup (mostly successful; later we learned some things were left behind), I headed west on the Mass Pike, and turned south on interstate 87 towards Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Jocelyn got on the Amtrak Acela train. I checked into our (somewhat seedy) motel, and then went to get her at 30th St station. Amtrak was only 10 minutes late, and while the official short-term parking was full, it worked out ok to sit in the line for short term parking and have her come find me after she got off the train.

Monday, we headed out to visit colleges! We saw Bryn Mawr in the morning and Swarthmore in the afternoon. Jocelyn was underwhelmed with the women's college bit about Bryn Mawr, and after we saw Swarthmore, we realized that Bryn Mawr's people had not once mentioned "rigorous education", while Swarthmore was all over it. Swarthmore's in-depth honors major program very much appeals to Jocelyn. Maybe we should have seen Haverford instead of Bryn Mawr; I really picked it because acw's daughter went there and had a good time.

My original idea for Monday evening had been to leave the car at Swarthmore, take the train into the city, walk around Independence Mall, see the Liberty Bell, have dinner, and come back and retrieve the car. However, Jocelyn thought she should do that when she had more energy, and walking all around these campuses and being perky and sounding interested all day had been tiring. So, instead, having learned in one of the "how to get off campus" chats by the tour guides that the second-largest mall in America was in nearby King of Prussia, we decided to go shopping!

Giant malls are a pain. There are so many stores full of things you don't want. It's easier to just go to Target. We did manage to buy a few things that we both needed, and get dinner in the food court, before we were sick of the whole enterprise.

Tuesday we checked out of the motel, and headed for our last Philly stop, which was Circadium. Circadium is another circus college like Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Montreal. Unlike ENC, which is entirely its own thing, Circadium is attached to a recreational circus program like Esh Circus Arts, which is the place Jocelyn currently trains. The Circadium physical plant is amazing -- it's in an old church, and they use the sanctuary with an enormous vaulted ceiling to hang various aerial apparatus. Circadium is a new program, just opened last year, so they don't have any graduates yet. Their program is aimed at making you a circus generalist, rather than making you the pinnacle of your one chosen art, since in real life, that's going to be better for getting you a job with a real circus.

So one option for Jocelyn is to go to Swarthmore, and take circus at the recreational program at Circadium, similar to what she's doing now with Esh, if she doesn't want to 100% commit to a circus career right now. It is the belief of some Esh coaches that she doesn't really need a full-time circus program to have a circus career. Unfortunately it's over an hour on public transit, kind of like Esh is from home. So that would be a drag.

A similar option would be to go to a college in Amherst (there are several fine liberal arts colleges there, even if she's not interested in the giant state school), and attend part-time circus training at NECCA (New England Center for Circus Arts) in Brattleboro. An hour's drive away, kind of a drag too. We haven't visited Amherst yet.

After watching the Circadium people train for a while, and talking with a couple of staff people, we headed off on the drive home. Jocelyn doesn't have her license yet, and hasn't had any driving instruction at all, so I had to do all the driving. This is up there on my "longest amount of uninterrupted driving"; usually on a trip of this length I'm with other drivers so we split it. I know lots of people routinely drive more than 6 hours in a day, but I find it stressful. On this trip, I had a lot of caffeine, despite it being bad for me. Getting in a crash is worse... We arrived home in time for a quick bike around the lake before sunset.

Lots more college visiting to do with both kids -- Perry and I visited WPI in September, and there's lots more to do for him too. Gotta figure out where else to visit with him, too. He's afraid of the "project learning" things they do at WPI; he thinks he'd be better in a classroom setting. It would be good for him to stretch, but he's worried.

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Cat update [Nov. 3rd, 2018|01:29 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)

I took the cat to the specialty vet. They noticed on the xray, as my regular vet had not, that the cat not only has an unspecified mass in her right lung, but ALSO that she's got great giant kidney stones. I asked about treatment for the kidney stones, and they said that some procedures that work on people don't work on cats because of their much smaller size. Other treatments do work, but cost tens of thousands of dollars. Which I'm afraid I'm not up for. So I didn't spring for the CT scan either, because it seemed like paying for a procedure and then not paying for any of the recommended followups was dumb. I did spring for an abdominal ultrasound, which was going to (a) look for additional problems we hadn't seen yet and (b) try to figure out how bad the kidney problem was. The ultrasound looked better than the xray had. And the coughing seems to have abated some (she's still doing it, but only once or twice per day).

So, we're back to "wait and see" mode. If the coughing gets much worse we can try steroids to reduce inflammation and perhaps make her feel better, but those have other side effects, so we're not rushing to do it. Meantime, she's being herself, mostly aloof but occasionally sitting on my lap and purring. Her shave job is almost grown out (though there is a small additional shaved patch on her belly for the ultrasound.)

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too busy to post [Nov. 3rd, 2018|09:59 am]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)

I finally have an unscheduled weekend, so maybe I'll catch up with posting. But of course I'm off on errands shortly, so I'll just start with a photo-blast from recent weeks:

This entertaining costume showed up in the garage at work:

I enjoyed this sweatshirt at the dance:

A janitor's closet with some unfortunate letters that fell off the sign, perhaps more accurately portraying the profession:

Jocelyn's boyfriend bought her some flowers, which reminded us of truffula trees. He has no idea what they were because the label had fallen off!

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alarming spam [Oct. 22nd, 2018|09:52 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)

I got some blackmail spam today which said they'd release videos of me jerking off to porn if I didn't give them $500 in bitcoin. The alarming thing was that they said "we have your password: xxxxx" and it was in fact a password I had used in the past, and was actually still active on two sites. I changed it on those sites, and another which was different only by one character on a 3rd site. Which of those sites was the origin of the breach? I'm betting ticketmaster. Very disturbing.

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I made brownies [Oct. 16th, 2018|08:31 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)
[Tags|, ]

Usually, this isn't worthy of a post, because it's a frequent occurrence. However, today's brownies have a couple of stories behind them.

Perry drinks two glasses of chocolate milk a day, which he mixes from Hershey's syrup. When we get to the end of a bottle, he turns it upside down to get a few more glasses out of it without having to wait 15 minutes for each glass. Upside down, the bottle is unstable and requires propping up. We once had a perfectly sized gravy boat for this purpose, but it broke. We've been making do with badly-fitting vessels of one sort or another.

Jocelyn has been doing ceramics for many years; her current school has a real kiln and wheels and everything, so she's been making a lot of things. I want to commission her to make a replacement stand for the upside-down chocolate syrup bottle. To this end, I wanted an empty bottle so she could have it as a model. But we had only recently opened a new bottle when I had this idea, and the other bottle had ended up in the recycling.

Perry doesn't use a huge amount of chocolate syrup in each glass. Thus, it actually takes a long time to finish a bottle.

I got impatient. I knew you could make brownies with Hershey's syrup instead of cocoa powder or baking chocolate. So I looked on the web for the recipe, and made them. They're yummy.

And to bring the stories full circle, when I was 10, and a latchkey kid, a friend (also latchkey) and I noticed that there was a recipe for brownies on the Hershey's syrup can (it was a can back then, not a bottle). So I called up my mother and asked if we could make them. She interrogated me about the recipe and the process and consented. They were yummy too, and I've been baking ever since!

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So, that caffeine thing... [Oct. 14th, 2018|01:08 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)
[Current Mood |discontentdiscontent]

I mentioned in a previous post that I was stopping caffeine to see if it helped my irregular heartbeat. Well, it didn't in the first couple days, but after 2 weeks it was pretty noticeable. Like completely better. Then, I had a Mountain Dew three days in a row last week because I was having a work training that required my presence early in the morning, and the irregularities started up again. Cleared up after three days of no caffeine. Bummer. I'm feeling kind of after-lunch-blahs and normally I'd pop a Mountain Dew to improve my mood, but I think it's not a healthy choice. I expect I'll have caffeine only on days when I really care about my square dance performance... Caffeine is also a mood enhancer, at least for me, and so I'm sure this lack is contributing to my distress in all the other parts of my life which do not seem to be going as well as I'd like...

Much pouting.

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Entering the expensive phase of pet ownership... [Oct. 12th, 2018|05:18 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)
[Current Mood |melancholymelancholy]

My cat has been hacking more frequently than cats ordinarily hack (Bill The Cat notwithstanding). Nothing ever comes up and it seemed to be getting more violent. So, off to the vet. I recorded an episode for them with my cellphone, which they seemed to appreciate, the vet listened intently. Then, an xray. Well, there's something in the lung. Temp's normal so probably not pneumonia. Should have done it while we were there, but the vet just called and asked for blood work, we're going in tomorrow. The real thing we need is a cat scan. (pun not intended.) Which looks to run about $1500... Probably I'm going to do it, even though this is not the best cat on the planet. If it had been Mottle, it would have been a complete no-brainer. I kept that cat alive for an additional four years by the application of money and time. I might consider "letting nature take its course", but the episodes are pretty unpleasant to listen to and they can't be fun for the cat either.

She's 14.

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Home Improvement [Sep. 23rd, 2018|10:15 pm]
Judy Anderson (yduJ)

I'm sure that a professional wouldn't have taken 8 hours on this task, but now we know why anything you want done costs $500...

Today's activity was replacing the vent cover on a crawl space vent. In particular, the hard one, which has the new gas meter in front of it, and through which they drilled a hole and ran a pipe, so you can't just take it off, it's trapped by the gas pipe. Further complicating matters, the outdoor faucet is just slightly above the cover, and the people who replaced the faucet had randomly nailed on a large board to hold the faucet. Fortunately, it was only overlapping the cover a little bit and no nails or screws were entwined in the two projects.

My first idea was to try to cut it in half, since to replace it, we'll need two separate boards with half-holes in them. I was constrained by the fact that there's a wood lattice behind the cover, an unknown but small distance, and by not wanting to damage the gas pipe.

Since the moto tool already had the cutting tool on it, I decided to try that first. Fail! The cover is made of a tar-like material, and it melted all over the cutting disk. However, that did give me the idea that it was pretty easy to shred (I should have been able to figure that out by the fact that it has a huge hole, necessitating the whole enterprise in the first place). But it's held in by a wooden frame, so that needed to be cut somehow, in order to pass the gas meter.

So my next trick was to take everything holding the frame off. This included nails, screws, staples, hardware cloth, and duct tape. I was then able to wiggle the frame away from the wall by a few inches (still trapped by the gas meter), and was able to bash at the thing with a saw. Success, it was removed! (With only a little bruising to the surrounding boards, and no damage to any gas company equipment.)

I rewarded myself with a waterski run, having seen the neighbor out mowing his lawn and verified that he was also interested. Yay! It was nippy but not that bad and I didn't use a wetsuit.

So, now the task is to construct a two-piece replacement with the random plywood we have lying about that I used last time. Lay the old one on top of the board, carefully trace, remember that there's always a 1/8 or 1/16 inch gap between the actual ink and the place it should be, run the circular saw.

Cut in two at the appropriate place. Maybe that was the wrong thing because now I have to cut two half-holes and maybe it would have been easier to just cut a hole. Or maybe not, as we only seem to have a 1 inch hole borer, and the pipe seems to be 1.5 inches. Much ineffective screwing around with hole borers of various smaller sizes to try to get something the right size and shape. The drill is acting up. It randomly quits and I have to wiggle the forward/reverse switch to make it start again.

Finally I notice we have a sabre saw. Well, I've never used one before, but it can't be worse than all the random crap I've been trying. In fact it works pretty well.

So, now to try fitting the boards into the slot. Hm. One of those 1/16 inch differences between the drawing on the board and the cutting of the board wasn't right and it doesn't quite fit together. Sabre saw to the rescue, and while that gives a horribly ragged edge, I find the parts to make the drill do sandpaper (continuing to fight with its randomly cutting out). What I really need to do is learn to use a plane. This 1/16 inch thing happens to me all the time, and I just want to shave a little off the top of something.

Finally! It is fitting! Well, almost. There's a 1/16 inch gap cuz I went overboard in my correction. I think I should find some weatherstripping for it.

Next step: Get out the paint. Waste time with some old dried out paint before I notice there's a sign "discard" in the box. Find the paint. Find a paintbrush. Find something that's not really a paint stirrer but has obviously been used for *this* paint before. Set up paper etc in the porch, get the boards covered with the first coat.

I plan to paint the second coat tomorrow evening and install the boards later on. Currently there is a complete lattice work covering the opening, so small creatures like mice and chipmunks can get in but nothing larger.

There's one more of these that needs replacement, but it shouldn't be nearly the enterprise this was.

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