Saturday, December 30, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Piano Puzzler Happy Holidays

This Piano Puzzler sums it up perfectly for me, a seamless combination of Chanukah and Christmas. For some reason, it really tickled my funny bone and left me laughing out loud, if you can imagine a classical music joke being that funny. Plus it was cool to hear Robert Siegel as a guest instead of a host.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I almost lost my luggage

I made the fatal mistake of using very generic looking luggage with no distinctive markings. Usually, I have a colorful piece of gimp that I attach to the zipper but I failed to attach it in my haste leaving. When we arrived back at Logan Airport in Boston, I was busy changing Dova while the luggage did a carousel dance from one baggage claim to another. When we got out, most everyone had picked up their luggage and left. We got Doug's, Adam's and Dova's suitcase, but no sign of mine. I spotted one that looked just like mine even with a similar hard plastic luggage tag, but it clearly was not mine upon closer inspection. Heck, no big deal, my Zen non-materialistic side said, it's only some dirty laundry and my work laptop (thankfully I didn't bring my own laptop). Plus the work laptop has an annoying BIOS password to render it useless to most folks. But then I realized there were some things that I really didn't want to lose.
  1. The first big annoyance was that my coat was packed in there. I thought I was being smart by packing and checking my coat instead of lugging it along with everyone else's through the carry-on. But I didn't count on it being 19 degrees F the night we arrived back! Luckily, Doug had an extra windbreaker so it (barely) took the bite off.
  2. Although I claimed that I didn't mind losing my work computer, I didn't want to have to go back to my IT department and explain to them that I lost it on a personal trip. I'm sure there is some major violation in that.
  3. My glasses. In my frugal mindset, everyone in the family got glasses this year, so that next year, I wouldn't have to sign up for the Vision benefit. Losing my glasses would mean either having to get new prescription lenses for my old hideous glasses or buying a new pair outright for $539 (it was $243 under the plan and paid using FSA dollars). Ouch! My benefits are already locked in for next year and losing luggage is definitely not a "qualifying" event for changing them.
  4. Grandma paid $31 for this beautiful portrait of Dova with her favorite princess Ariel. The cost of the portrait is not so much the issue, but to replace it, we'd have to fly back to Disney World again and retake it!! Or perhaps with some major perseverance, I would be able to track it down through their thousands of portraits taken per day.
  5. This cute Ariel costume is certainly replaceable, but I did fork over $60 for it and buying another one would simply make the total cost of owning one completely outrageous.
In the end, I did receive my luggage the next day, with everything intact. One zipper was completely broken and now sports a distinctive piece of duct tape. Another zipper pull came off and it also had a TSA inspection tag which I usually get when I pack a laptop. Since it was so beat up, maybe it did simply got lost. My guess was that it was picked up by the person who owned a similar piece of luggage. Especially since I got this free present in the outer pocket. I didn't think that the Catholic Church was into proselytizing with pamphlets, but apparently, it is OK to do so with stolen luggage!

Lessons learned: take the glasses in the carry on as well as the coat in wintertime. Plus I'm really a material girl after all. More posts on the actual trip to come...

Always a good gift

This is especially great if you run out of time this holiday season. Reminder, Super Saver shipping for Christmas ends on Friday!!

Finally Blogger beta for me

I've been trying to get the go ahead but to no avail because of Blogger's roll out process. It was a combination of this blog being too old and also being a member of a group blog, the woefully neglected geek sleep. But here it is and finally I have real tagging for the obsessive organizational disorder (OOD) that I have. I wonder if I can go back and tag the other 234 posts?? Oh wait, I need to tag 514 pictures in flickr still. Oh, the life controlled by OOD!!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Goodbye Marketplace Takeout

I have really been enjoying the Marketplace Takeout podcast as it puts together all the cool, sometimes quirky stories without all the market news. The complete half hour show was originally available through paid subscription through Audible, and now will be available free as a podcast (woo hoo!). There's no way I can listen to a 1/2 hour show everyday, but I will subscribe to the shorter Marketplace Morning Report (I used to rush the daycare drop-off to be able to hear it live at 7:53 am every morning). Here is a list of all their podcasts selections.

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Dova's sweater

This was my very first knit sweater!! Dova refused to pose properly for the picture as it was still warm out when I completed it in over the summer. Adam is showing off his first lost tooth as opposed to the sweater, but it did fit him perfectly. The pattern is Haiku by Kristy, who is Dova's 2nd cousin(?) - she is Doug's first cousin Bea's (who Dova Bea is named after) son's wife. That's Dova's cousin Ella in (Ella is actually one generation later, but the same age as Adam, such a complicated family tree). So those buttons don't exactly line up (the left side is a good inch longer than the right), but still a great learning experience. It took about a year and 4 months to complete, as I started it at the end of my last job, when I had nothing to do but knit and watch DVDs on the laptop at work.

So here are some things I learned while making my first sweater:
  • Cast on loosely!
  • Cast off loosely!
  • Follow the pattern! I tried to pick up stitches for the arms and knit in the round but found that I didn't quite calculate making the length backwards correctly so I ended up ripping the whole thing out.
  • Cotton is not very forgiving, really hard to knit with DPNs and not have gaps. I ended up knitting 2 extra stitches on the first needle and transferring them onto the new one.
  • Still need to learn how to do buttonholes correctly
Footnote on the post. This was done at Adam's skating rink during his skating lesson! Wireless internet is a wonderful thing.
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Friday, December 01, 2006

Christmas decorations

I may have been late for Halloween, but I'm never late for Christmas decorations, as they are always put up on Thanksgiving weekend. Here's a sparkling version thanks to Google Photos Assistant:

Adam was a big help in putting up the candy cane arch (reminder to self, never take it apart at the end of the season), and decorating the entire tree. Last night it was in the 60's so I actually got to take my time shooting all the pictures in this set. Usually, I'm out there with frozen fingers rushing all the shots. Last year we had this huge 4 ft. snowflake on the side of the garage which died and I never got a picture of it (a major disaster for someone as photography crazy as I am).

So here is my trick to a beautifully lit house when I get home from work. Everything must be on a timer! I once had dreams of having a house with a "Christmas outlet" so that everything plugged into these special outlets will be turned on automatically. I often wonder how folks light those huge colonials with 20 front windows and candles in every one of them. Do they run around every day turning all those candles on? Or do they just leave them on all the time? Or do they have 20 timers in the house? Since I've abandoned the candles in the windows (drove me crazy having all those wires on the kitchen counters ready to zap me at a moment's notice), I've resorted to a few regular timers (4) and carefully placed extension cords. For outside, I have a dusk to 4-hour automatic timer, a cool 6 outlet outdoor power strip and many (5) extension cords (wait I have room for one more!!). I used to hate coming home to a dark house and then turning on the lights. I LOVE driving up to the house all lit up like a present. Especially now, when the tree magically passing through the candy cane arch as I drive up the driveway.

Another rule I like to follow is that you have to be able to see all your outside lights from the inside. Since we live so far off the street, the lights aren't really for other people to enjoy, but for us! This year, we have to run into the living room to see the arch, but I get to walk under it every day. I can't wait to see it in the snow! Oh wait, yes I can. It's much better to have a 66F day in December like today. The only thing that isn't visible is the lighted wreath, but you do get blinded by it every time you come in. This is the first year I got a really decent shot of it.

Those 150 lights were originally from our wedding tree seven years ago. Since I apparently have a Christmas light obsession (not to mention the lights permanently installed above everyone's beds), it's no surprise that Dova's first word at 11 months was "lights".

So we're off to Disney World next week!! Wish us luck!! (Reminder to self, unplug all these blasted lights while we're away)