Please use GoodSearch for your internet searches and select a charity (such as Dominican Sisters of Houston). Thank you.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

Very Merry Christmas to everyone!

Here is a free book
Cosmic Diary Anthology Released as a Free Book: Postcards from the Edge of the Universe (you can download the pdf at the link)

and a free audio rental
of Father Corapi's personal testimony (offer posted on this blog some time before, the offer still stands today)

first time

As far as I can remember, this is the first time that I've missed Christmas midnight mass. Gumby isn't feeling well. I asked if I could go to mass or if I need to stick around in case we need to call 911 emergency. Gumby said "I can't answer that." i.e. I don't have the go-ahead to go to mass. Since we are supposed to be in service of our neighbor, I'll miss midnight mass, stick around here tonight and go to one of the Christmas day masses tomorrow. Right now, I think Gumby is sleeping, which is a good thing.

video about Mary

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From The Anchoress ... link was made known to me by a friend


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Check out Monastery Greetings.  Per their website:

Monastery Greetings is the only catalog-based website that combines hundreds of religious and spiritual gifts from Abbeys, Convents, Monasteries, and Hermitages. Sales of their products directly support them.
Gifting for any day for any one, so even if they're not an option for Christmas, keep them in mind for any occasion.

Here are just a few others. This is not an endorsement. I have not tried any of these products and in fact, have not even browsed their websites.

Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters bakery and gift shop
Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts
Abbey Gift Shop
Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis gift shop (in New Orleans)
Nuns gift shop (Mother Angelica's order)
Mystic Monk Coffee
Poor Clares bread and soup (pick up at their place in Canton, OH)

listening to...

Monday, December 13, 2010
There ya go.
Ludwig van Beethoven - Sonata no. 17 in D minor, Op. 31 No. 2 1st movement

listening to...

Sunday, December 12, 2010
per the YouTube uploading author:

Ludwig van Beethoven
Piano Sonata No. 17 "The Tempest"
3rd movement: Alegretto
played by Daniel Barenboim
This is a pretty clear recording, where the bass is not muddy. I might look for the 1st movement eventually.

Christmas decorating

I spent a lot of time trying to find replacement bulbs for our Christmas mesh light. No luck. I bought a string of all green lights at a local store in hopes of being able to use those bulbs, but it didn't work out. So I ended up just packing up the one mesh and did my best to drape the new string on the last shrub. I definitely doesn't blend, but so be it.

Yesterday I spent all afternoon and evening yesterday doing some Christmas decorating inside. It's just one room we're doing, but it took a while. What takes time is going up and down the attic, unpacking and packing (trying to find stuff and pick-and-choose among what was found). At one point I had to find the cat and remove her from the attic. The attic is unfinished and has blown-in insulation -- not a pleasant place lose things such as a cat. Our 4-foot Christmas tree is up and decorated. I know we're still in Advent and the Christmas stuff isn't supposed to be up yet, but I think God understands and wouldn't mind.

dead bulbs

Monday, December 06, 2010

We have four mesh light sets that I drape over the shrubs (for Christmas decoration). I put them on the shrubs on this past Saturday and last night when I turned them on, they were pitiful; some were on some were off in alternating sections. Today I stole good bulbs from one set and restored the other three. I have at least 15 dead bulbs. I'm sure I haven't found them all since the one sacrificial set is too stripped at this point for me to see what's working and what's not. They need to be 2.5V super bright green lights. I haven't found the right ones, but I've seen replacement bulbs priced at a pack of 3 for $1.39 or $1.99.  If I need to replace at least 20 bulbs, looks like I should expect to pay approximately $1 per bulb. So I suppose the best bet is to just buy a new set ... if they can be found.

the job search

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Job searching has gotten more sophisticated. It is now recommended that you have Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn,, CareerBuilder, and Dice accounts at minimum, and have a blog. So I have signed up for Twitter, I just finished Monster tonight, and I already had LinkedIn thanks to Natty.

My job search is evolving since I am getting training for a new career path. As I get more and more training for what I want to do, I can slowly better define what field and what specialty I'm heading to. This translates to quite a bit of maintenance on the profiles/accounts.

And after all that, the best bet to getting a job is networking. Kind of like dating maybe, where two people meet because they had a friend in common, or at least their friends had a friend in common.

Anyhow, I'll get to FaceBook, the blog (no, not this one), and Dice another time. I'll also need to update my profile in CareerBuilder. Then I'll need to study how best to use LinkedIn ... apparently there are "how to" of LinkedIn that I'm supposed to look at.

Right now I need to hit the shower. "Good night" to those on this side of the earth.  "See you later" to those on the other side of the earth.

plumbing woes

Monday I woke up and as usual made a trip to the bathroom. It was not a happy moment when I found that the toilet wouldn't drain. Still groggy, I attempted to plunger the thing. No luck. I had never seen a toilet so stuck that plunging didn't bring the water level down. After quite some time, I had to stop since it was trash day and I need to get the trash out.

As I went about the task of collecting all the trash, it occurred to me to check the other toilet. I remembered that once before both toilets had stopped and I became fast friends with a sewer auger. Sure enough the other toilet was stopped up too. So after finishing trash duties, I washed up and headed off to rent the sewer auger again. It unclogged the sewer and the toilets.  There were other problems though that left me a little unsure that the problem was solved. But the machine had done all that it can do, and I had to head off to class that afternoon so I returned the machine and just waved it off as "done."

Wednesday evening, sewage backed up into our tubs and shower. Ugh. We called for a plumber and he determined that we have root growth into our sewer line under the house. The plumber had tools to locate the point of root growth. The solution is to excavate and tunnel under the house to replace that point where the roots are growing into the pipe then backfill the tunnel (an almost $6,000 job). Until we get that done, the recommendation was to not flush toilet paper. We took the job quote and sent him on his way with $150 payment for his services. We will get the repair done as soon as possible, but certainly not this month.

Gumby made a multitude of phone calls later that night and also the next day. One advice was to get a root kill solution from the hardware store and flush that down the toilet when we retire for the night, leaving it to work in the sewer lines overnight. The other piece of extremely helpful advice was to use RV/marine toilet paper. They dissolve quickly (wipe fast!) and won't clog. I don't know my prices well, but I think they cost more than regular toilet paper. They were easily procured from a local Wal-Mart in the sporting goods department, $2.97 per 4-roll pack in one brand, $4.42 in another brand. The more expensive one is 2-ply, so I guess the cheaper one is single ply. I'm not sure what the plans are with regards to how long we'll be using this specialty toilet paper. We're just really happy that we can use toilet paper and we won't have to ask guests to not flush paper.

dinner dollars

Saturday, November 27, 2010

turkey, 15lb                   $3.31
injectable marinade        $4.49
turkey oven bag             $1.79
mustard greens            $11.12
smoked ham hocks         $3.18
onions                          $0.70
yellow corn meal            $0.97
green bell pepper           $0.64
celery                           $0.94
baking powder               $1.32
chicken broth (3 cans)     $1.50
eggs (dozen)                 $1.58
sweet potatoes              $0.61
margarine tub                $1.98
jellied cranberry (2 cans) $1.96
dinner rolls (2 packs)      $7.98
pumpkin pie                  $3.99
cherry pie                      $5.99
whipped cream               $1.88

total (tax not included)   $55.93 USD

already had on hand:
vanilla extract
white flour
cookware, dinnerware, etc.

I didn't totally wreck Thanksgiving dinner, but it is rated as "glad we didn't have company." Turkey and mustard greens were just fine. I flubbed the cornbread dressing and sweet potato casserole but they were still edible.

adjustments I will make next time:
1.  Do not rub salt on the turkey before roasting. It makes the turkey drippings too salty and can't be used for gravy.
2.  Actually use a recipe for the dressing instead of winging it. Use just a little poultry seasoning or none at all.
3.  Do boil the sweet potatoes instead of baking them. The sogginess from boiling is needed.  Do not put frozen marshmallows on the casserole; they won't "blow" and spread over the top.  Marshmallows need to be either cool or room temperature.
4.  Consider buying smaller baking pans since I'm not making large portions.  The large pans resulted in thin casseroles.

The carcass is currently simmering on the stove to make turkey stock.  Additional veggies for making the stock was less than $6.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

The cooking has commenced.  And I'm already worn.  I baked the cornbread yesterday.  The cornbread dressing is in the oven right now.  The turkey has been injected.  The yams are cooked, ready for me to start on the sweet potato casserole.  Mustard greens and turkey are slated to be cooked tomorrow.

the stray

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It was probably the beginning of the year when I saw the stray dog. I remembered that it was cold. It was morning and I was leaving for work. The trash was out, but he didn't bother the trash. He was thin. He kept walking.

Some weeks later Gumby and I were returning late at night from a gocery shopping trip. It was cold, it had been raining but at this moment there was break in the rain. We saw that stray dog again. He was walking. We got the groceries in and proceeded to get food and water for the stray. We hoped we would see him. We looked down the street but he wasn't there. We left the food out for a little while but brought it back in since it had started to drizzle lightly. The next morning we looked again. Still no stray.

Months later (September?) I saw him again as I came home from morning mass (I was then and still am unemployed). I passed him up on the street on the way to the house; he was walking in the opposite direction. I parked the car in the driveway and got out to look down the street to see if he was there. No sight of him. As I walked in the house, I made a mental prayer to St. Francis and to St. Anthony that if they'd bring him to our yard, I'd take care of him. By that I meant that I'd call an organization to come pick him up so that he could be cared for.

It was trash day and I'd already put out the trash. Gumby reminded me that there were some wood debris from the previous week that I need to move closer to the trash so that it would get picked up. So I went back out to take care of that. Lo and behold, the stray was lying in the shade on the side of the house. Mentally I had pictured him on the front lawn when I did the prayer, not the side of the house. I would have never seen him had I not gone out to pick up the wood debris.

Gumby called the vet who advised us to call the county animal control. They come out the same day and they are a "no kill" shelter. We got two of the disposable leashes (to make one long leash) that we had from the numerous visits to the vet over the years. I tied him to the gas meter pipe on the side of the house, in the shade. We gave him a little food and water. He was extremely emaciated, had a severe case of mange, and other problems that made it difficult for me to determine that it was a male dog. A red nylong collar hung loosely around his neck. He didn't eat right away but when I checked on him later, all the food was gone.

I wasn't there when the county came to pick him up. They said whatever happens, it would be more humane than having the dog wander in the street and having to fend for himself.

Anyhow, that's my St. Francis/St. Anthony story.

two movies

Old news. I just forgot to post. We saw the movies Secretariat and For Colored Girls.
Secretariat is fun, family-friendly.
For Colored Girls is raw and poetic. As such, it will likely not win awards. However, I do believe the Academy will want to recognize it. Maybe it will win in the category for movie adaptation of a book.

doggie cot is working fine

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I slowed down on the projects around the house. Partly because I'm tired, partly because the funds just aren't there, and partly because the weather doesn't permit much working outdoors. I washed the outside of some of the windows today. Only the windows in the back got washed. I started late afternoon, having ran errands earlier in the day; then I quit when it got dark.

The cot I made for doggie is working okay. The fabric stretched somewhat, resulting in sagging. After he had used it for approximately a week, I attempted to remedy the sag. I took the stitches out of one long side and stretched the fabric as tight as I could and re-stitched. Since the only thing keeping the fabric tight on the frame is a death grip by my left hand as I stitched with my right, the job had to be done quickly. I re-stitched with giant stitches from craft hell and the job went fast. I've discovered that part of the sagging problem is that the plastic pipes will bend. Oh well. I also think the bolt-on design would be better for taughtness than the sewn design.

Doggie has been using the cot for a while now and those giant stitches are doing just fine. I like that much of the dirt and loose hair that he sheds falls below the cot and he doesn't have to lie or trample in it. Also, when I do mop the crate, I can put the cot right back in and he can go in his crate without having to wait for the crate floor to dry. The cot has gotten dirty from the mud he brings in. I'll scrub and hose it off one day when the weather is good.

Update: 1/13/2011
The cot fabric has stretched tremendously. Also, the dog has managed to tear the fabric with his scratching. There is now a large hole in the cot. I am now in search of Dacron fabric locally. At least for the moment I'm thinking Dacron.


Friday, November 05, 2010

Yesterday was Gumby's birthday. I took it upon myself to bake half a cake. I mean, how difficult can it be? I found a recipe that I can halve and it went okay. However, I don't have half of a 9x13 pan. I have a loaf pan. The cake didn't rise much and I do believe it got overcooked. Undaunted, I cut it in half: it will be a two-layer cake.

Then came the frosting. I could not believe how unhealthy the frosting is: loaded with butter and sugar. I couldn't find the sticks of butter I though I had; they must have expired and gotten thrown out. I didn't want to use shortening (Crisco). So I opted for a recipe that used only egg, sugar, and corn syrup. I don't know why we have corn syrup, but we do. I don't have a double boiler, so I used a smaller pot that I put into a larger pot. Our mixer is a hand-held one, so it worked okay. After more the seven minutes of beating that the recipe estimated, I still did not have stiff peaks. Worried, I put in a little cream of tartar. The last step was to add the vanilla extract. Oops, I spilled the extract into the frosting; no telling how much is in there. Oh well, mix it up anyways.

Then I piled it onto the "cake." Fortunately it did stick to the cake and not run. It wasn't pretty. After I finished frosting, I tasted the frosting. It was like marshmallow. I set the cake aside and started the clean up (lots of clean up when you're baking). To add to the comedy, during the clean up, I knocked over a tray that had small packets of condiments and a bulb of garlic. The garlic bulb fell onto a side of the cake.  I picked the garlic out and patched up the icing, but there's a chance some of the garlic papery shell is still there.

Gumby was game and tasted the cake. Gumby was okay with it, and liked the "fun" marshmallowy icing. Cake is almost gone (it was half a cake).

by the Grace of God

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Now that I am unemployed, I have time to cook. It's been a while since I did such a thing. Lately "cooking" and "disaster" has been synonymous for me. Yesterday was a bad day. I made beef stew in the slow cooker, but misread the directions and had the cooker set on "high" instead of "low." It cooked for maybe six hours before I realized the mistake.

Then I made cornbread to go with it, but I think I was once again a victim of shortening that had gone bad. The only time I use shortening is to make cornbread. About the only time I make cornbread is to make cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. I can't think too far back, but I know we've been out of town for Thanksgiving the past two years. It's likely that the shortening is several years old. I had baked a cake before with vegetable oil that apparently went bad. I didn't know that cooking oil can go bad. We don't cook much, so cooking stuff may sit on the shelves for several years.

Cooking is supposed to save money compared to take-out food, but it doesn't save money if the food ends up being inedible. The beef stew was ok to eat, it was overcooked but tasted fine. I re-did the cornbread this morning and Gumby was so enticed by the smell of cornbread that Gumby had beef stew for breakfast.

What was really bad about yesterday was that I caused an "almost accident" due to a lapse in good judgment while driving. I try to live my life without regrets, but I sure regret that moment of stupidity. It was only by the Grace of God that no collision occurred. It made me think about our need for God's Grace. We are like little children living this life. We're not very good at it, and like 3-year olds pouring milk from a large carton, we need some help. Our judgment is far from perfect, and God comes along and sometimes He helps prevent the mess; other times He helps us clean up the mess. Sometimes he keeps us from hurting ourselves; other times He soothes the injury. I thank God that He prevented the "big mess" of an auto accident yesterday, and apologize to all the drivers around me at that moment. I pray that God bless them all.
I thank God that the stew was still edible. All good things come from God.

red light cameras voted out

Looky there.  People have voted against having red light cameras, which were installed to improve safety for all on the roads.  What is the reason for the rejection of these cameras?  They think it's a scam, that there are mistakes, falsehoods--however you view it--regarding whether a driver actually ran the red light.  So they voted them out.

Now compare that to the death penalty:  sometimes it's a scam (prosecutorial misconduct), sometimes it's a mistake (wrong person convicted) and it costs money. But Texans like to hang on to their death penalty. Texas takes pride in killing off criminals in the name of justice. It would take an act of God before Texas will give up captial punishment.

That's just messed up.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Here in southern Texas, it is easy to forget the seasons. I'm reminded when I watch live TV (such as Good Morning, America) and see people wearing coats. It is October, after all. August marks autumn for me (due to some literary work I read in my distant past), so October should be pretty chilly.

As a little kid, we did spend a few years living in Jersey City, New Jersey. We were in an apartment complex. We lived maybe on the 3rd or 4th floor (I could be wrong, but it was definitely "upstairs"). We could see across the street out the front window. One rear window is in the bathroom, where you would have access to the clothesline: a loop of rope held in place by pulleys on our side and pulleys on the neighbor's side across the way. The other rear window leads to the fire escape landing.

On the side of us, just across the street is a school. I used to remember our New Jersey address but not anymore. School no. 6 on St. Pauls seems a very good possibility. That school just across the street is where I attended until we left New Jersey. I started in 3rd grade when we got to Texas, so I guess I finished 2nd grade there in New Jersey. If we go straight down that street, we'd get to a park; and the map shows that (Pershing Field Park). I remember passing that water reservoir and thinking it was the Hudson or some such big body of water.

Just next door to our apartment was a little store. We used to go down there and buy Bazooka bubble gum. We collected enough wrappers to get some prizes. One of them was a pinhole camera. Kinda cool but we would still need film and money to develop the photos. We were poor, so we might have used the camera one or two times.

For a while, we didn't have a car. So we did a lot of walking. Eventually, we did get a car. Parking was a slight challenge.

Anyhow, all this is to say that I have lived up north. I have seen the snow, which became slush. Schools had looong winter breaks (it seemed). Squirrels were fatter with fluffier tails than down south. Ice had to be scraped off of windshields. My father did have to deal with snow chains. The car battery sometimes was removed from the car and brought indoors. Long Johns were standard.

It was the late 70's. Elvis Presley died during that time, "Son of Sam" terrorized the area, Pope John Paul II was elected (though I know nothing of religion at the time), and the first "Star Wars" movie opened and swept the country (though we never did go to the movies), as did "Saturday Night Fever." As for fashion, please don't ever take me back to the 70's (*gag*).


Saturday, October 16, 2010

I've been reworking a paint job after rust kept coming through. Consulting with a representative at Sherwin-Williams indicated that the latex primer probably did more harm than good. The recommendation was to strip the paint and start over. GEM rust killer was recommended. Thankfully I didn't have to buy a whole gallon of the stuff; they had a small pump bottle.

A medium wire brush on a power drill was fairly useless for stripping the paint. Sandpaper worked well, but after a few passes, the sandpaper was noticeably less effective than when fresh. I resorted to paint remover and a scraper, followed by coarse sandpaper, followed by medium sandpaper. It took maybe a week, working on and off.

Since both the rust killer and the enamel paint required waiting overnight after treatment, I needed a string of dry days (the project is outdoors). The weather here in Texas has been very dry, so I tackled the project. I've applied two applications of the rust killer and one coat of paint, relying on the rust killer to act as primer. Another coat or two of paint should complete the job.

11/17/2010 update: We had weeklong rain several weeks ago. Where the rust was heavy, some of the rust is starting to reappear through the paint. This area of heavy rust is a metal square tube, so I'm thinking the rust is inside the tube and it's continuing to rust inside on through to the outside.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Whoa my allergies are kicking my butt today. Tree pollen and weed pollen are slightly less today than yesterday, and yet I was able to work outside yesterday all day. Today, if I just walk outside, I get a full-blown attack despite having taken medication (as compared to no medication yesterday). The difference is that elm pollen is 174 today, 61 yesterday.

Oh boy. I lovingly planted TWO elm trees in the front yard a year or so ago.  I hadn't count on it being a problem for my allergies. I'm going to need one of these.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Go Chile!  All 33 trapped miners have been rescued.  I'm proud of you guys and thank you for sharing the joy of the success.  At the time of this writing, I'm still anxiously awaiting the return of the rescuers to the surface too.

hmm... Texas flag looks almost like Chilean flag

dog cot

Monday, October 11, 2010

I've been feeling awful the past few days.  The weather in Texas has been beautiful, but it's kicking my butt with allergies and sinus headaches. I feel better today.

I've been working on making a dog cot based on instructions at the Columbus Dog Connection website. I'm only doing it because I can't find the size cot I need. I want it to fit in doggie's crate. Working through my headache, I finished it yesterday.  The project has taken a while, with the first step being to order the corner pieces on August 24 of this year.

The prices posted on their website wasn't true for me.  My materials cost (taxes included):
     $ 7.76          1 1/4" PVC pipe (2 @ $3.88)
     $10.00          fabric (1 yard)
     $11.67         3-way corner (4 @ $1.67 + $4.99 shipping)
     $5.15           screws and washers (20 each ... I bought more than my estimated 4 screws per corner)
So the material cost of the dog cot is actually around $35.

The finished bed is 23 x 38 inches. I used the sewing option. I think the screws they recommended are called lath screws. I saw a box of them for around $8 but opted to buy a smaller quantity of round head self-tapping screws and #8 washers. If I were making more than one bed or if I didn't opt for the sewing, I'd go for the box.

I found an awning place near my house and the guy pulled exactly one yard of the material (it was the end of the roll) and quoted $10 flat.  We made the exchange on the spot.  The best price I could find online was $15 total for material and shipping. Local was so much better. Its color is what I call "awning green" ... basically kelly green, I think.

I have some Spectra 65-pound fishing line from back when I was trying to dog-proof one of the other dog beds, so I did the sewing with that instead of going out to buy a more appropriate thread.  Hopefully it will work for the long run.

Despite the material giving me enough tension to make putting in the final cot corner difficult, it still sags more than I'd prefer. Looks like the screw-on version would've given a tighter fit than the sewing version. But it works okay. I makes quite a bit of noise as the fabric rotates about the pipes when you shift weight on it. Doggie has been using it in his crate since yesterday and seems to be doing fine. The cot fits through the crate door; I can easily take it out for cleaning.  I'd like to give it padding someday, perhaps lashing it to the frame such that doggie can't get to the edges for chewing.

I was so anxious to put the cot to use that I didn't take pictures.

Land's End sale

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Land's End is having quite a sale.  Until Thursday, September 30, 2010.  Check around the web for free shipping on top of the sale. had some sort of code for free shipping

website of the day

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project and The Price of Stones and the story behind it in the book The Price of Stones: Building a School for My Village

"... Mirroring the work of Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea, 2009), Kaguri gradually expands his goals, adding not only classrooms but also water and nutrition programs, community gardens, teachers’ workshops, and eventually a second school in a neighboring village. His story is an uplifting testament to the belief that one motivated individual can accomplish much, even when others have given up before even trying." --Deborah Donovan
I know we have our own share of problems here in the U.S.A., but at least teach our children about how other people have to struggle for basic necessities.  Tell them about children whose parents have died and now have no one to care for them, have no shelter, no food, no healthcare and no access to education.  It doesn't happen in just Africa, but in many parts of the world.  Here in the U.S.A., we have our own population of the homeless, but our homeless have a better chance of finding access to food, shelter (temporary) and education.

This book is a story of one person's actions to remedy the situation in his own "neck of the woods."

kills bugs

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We've had a bag of DeltaGard G for several years.  This bag is so old, it carries the brand AgroEvo.  I see that Bayer is the brand for this product now.

This stuff is awesome.  We use it to spot treat fire ants.  Here in Texas, fire ants are VERY common.  We can usually count on seeing fire ant mounds pop up within days after a rain.  Recently I put some on a mound some time in the morning and by that night, I see lots of dead ants.  By the next day the mound is dead.  It controls other bugs too, but I've only used it for fire ants.  This stuff is more valuable than gold to me.

We also have Maxforce and again, it's old and it seems that Bayer is now the brand.  There is now more variations of the Maxforce line.  Ours only indicate "Maxforce."  The one we have is brown tiny granules.  The vendor told us to put the granules behind our switch plates and outlet faceplates, so that's what we did.  I guess it's working.

hanger bolt blues

Monday, September 13, 2010

We've been having to mail order stuff because we can't find it locally. One of the items arrived withouth fasteners, and a trip to the hardware store revealed that I needed hanger bolts. These bolts have one end threaded for going into wood, and the other end is threaded for "machine" fasteners. I happen to need a metric 6 thread size on the machine end and the only place I could find it is at Lee Valley Tools out of Canada.  I'm balking at the almost $10USD shipping for an item that is less than $3.

The company I ordered from sent me what can be described as a threaded rod. Its purpose is to mount the item by having the bolt pass all the way through the wood and out the other side where it is then held tight by a nut.  I didn't want pass-through fastening. So I cut the bolt (the "threaded rod") to the length I needed. A hacksaw, some way to clamp the bolt firmly without damaging the threads, and lots of patience is needed for this step. Then I drilled a hole into the wood where I'm mounting it; the hole is just slightly smaller than the bolt. The metric 6 threading isn't the right threading for wood. The bolt would thread in and not pull out, but it would also allow continuous spinning; i.e. it wouldn't tighten. So to stop the spinning, I used a small dab of Gorilla Glue on the threads going into the wood (dampen the hole using a cotton swab). Once the bolt is in as far as I wanted it to go, I left it alone for the glue to dry. So far it's holding. This was for a decorative item; I don't recommend this method for anything that's supposed to withstand a lot of force!

Another update:
The thing is rotating again. I've concluded that a single point of fastening is going to be prone to rotating. I'll just live with it. Like the guy on TV says: "If it's your house and you put it up the way you wanted, then it's right."

tired of ordering out?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Check out Mountain House products.  Good for campers and as emergency foods, they only require some water and heat (I think). There is a great variety of meals offered. Reviewer comments on some of them are mostly positive. Looks like a good product.

recliner riser platform

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is a platform for raising the recliner at least two inches.

  • 1x4 pine, cut to 27"L for the outside frame.
  • 1x3 pine, for internal ribs and corner braces, locate flush to frame at the bottom
  • Two smaller strips are glued to the insides of the front and back pieces.
  • plywood sheet 3/4" or 1/2" thick, cut slightly smaller than 27" x 25 1/2", place into frame on top.
  • Nails: #4d x 1-1/2" finishing nails
  • wood glue to reinforce all joints
View shown is front to back.

Else you can buy a 31" x 31" plastic one for $139USD:

(sketch was done with Google SketchUp)

shoe trend

I'm not a jogger.  And for my fellow non-joggers, you might not be aware that there is a trend towards barefoot running and a corresponding product line of minimalist shoes.  It's not "new" ... it's been around for a few years.  Here is an example of such products:

photo: one of the Vibram FiveFingers models

another hurricane product for windows

The Hurricane Wedge
Easy installation. Approximately $15 per pair (i.e. per window).  No guarantees, no testing indicated.  Looks wimpy but looks like it could work.

need cushion?

Check out Supracor. Cushion support via a multitude of honeycomb-shaped cells. Seems fantastic. Definitely pricey.  Ideally for medical applications, such as for those who must spend large amounts of time sitting (i.e. wheelchair-bound).  Photo here is of a pillow from their "Lifestyles" collection, but they have a variety of seat cushions in their medical series. If you know someone who needs a really good cushion, Supracor might be worth a test drive.

not much of a movie

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gumby and I saw the movie "Eat Pray Love" yesterday.  Gumby thoroughly enjoyed it.  I could take it or leave it.  I saw "Sense and Sensibility" not too long ago and was thoroughly mesmerized by that movie ... "Eat Pray Love" does not measure up to it.  Maybe I'm just too critical about the overall concept in the first place, and desired more "heroism" in the movie.

putting a cabinet together

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I've just spent hours putting this cabinet together.  It was a deal.  I saw it on clearance when I was at Office Depot.  When I checked out, the price on it was $20.  What a deal.  It's not solid wood and the veneer on it is really cheap, but it's better than plastic.  I got it to replace a 3-bin stacking plastic rack whose wheels keep falling off.

I've put a lot of stuff together, but this one was a doozy.  Now I'm tired.

new jeans

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If you've followed by blog for a while (I mean a reeeally long while), you might recall that I have difficulty finding blue jean pants that fit my specifications.  I like them plain, straight leg, no stretch, and preferably of good weight.  The pair that I last purchased at a brick-n-mortar store was one size too large.  I've sported the baggy look for some years now and I've gotten comfy with those jeans.  But they're wearing out.  Some days I do wish they weren't baggy around my hips but overall they're comfortable.

Being that it's back-to-school time, jeans are among the items on sale and thought I ought to take advantage of the sale. The other day, I went to the same store where I previously got my jeans and again was unable to find the right fit.  So once more I bought one size larger.  They will require a belt; but they don't look all that baggy.  We'll see how that works out ... they have some stretch to them.

Today I went to Old Navy and bought two skinny jeans.  Yeah, I backed off on the "no stretch" requirement.  Seems I had to give that up to get any jeans at all.  I tried on two different styles and discovered that "low rise" means "I want to show the public my butt crack."  So I opted for the classic rise instead.  And since the jeans fit reasonably, I just went ahead and got a second one since there wasn't another style suitable.  Actually, Gumby insisted that I get the second one.  Else I'd be perfectly content to walk out with just one.  They fit snug around my legs but a little loose around my butt and hips ... apparently I don't have much butt.  I like a slightly loose fit anyways.

I think it was the 80's when they had "tapered" leg jeans.  Those were pretty much the same as "skinny" jeans, except in those days they hadn't made the jeans stretchy yet. So if you had tight jeans, they were indeed tight.

On leaving the parking lot, I saw skinny jeans in action on a young guy and it looked good on him.  And I also saw it on a woman; except that on her, due to her shape the skinny jeans made her legs look like chicken legs on that body.  Folks, you might want to watch out for the "chicken legs" effect.

Perhaps one day the classic blue jeans will return. Just a little loose, of good weight, plain, no stretch, deep pockets, straight legs, uniform in color (not pre-faded) -- built for working in.

just what's going on

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm hoping to do product development. The product would be me. I've applied for financial aid for education. Awaiting verdict. If all goes well, classes start at end of September, and after about 5 months, I'd have a set of skills to market.

We've been to a vigil service yesterday and a funeral mass today. They were both beautiful.  We're exhausted.

It's been crazy hot here in Texas.  Awaiting reprieve from the heat and looking forward to the forecasted rain.

TV shows I like

Friday, August 06, 2010

I don't watch much TV. I don't even watch the news with any regularity, which I think is not good. But there is a show which I have yet to miss an episode:  Friday Night Lights (on NBC). Odd, since a football theme wouldn't attract me. But Gumby watches it, and once I saw it I was hooked. It's not about football. It's about ordinary people just living the card they're dealt.

Another show which I like is Brothers and Sisters (on ABC). Sally Fields ... need I say more? Also has Rachel Griffiths, who is new to me but apparently is another award-winning actress. I like her. Waiting for it to come back in the fall.

Women Religious vs. the Vatican

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ouch.  There seems to be a battle between some women religious and "the Vatican."

I repeat that I don't understand the issues.  But on the surface, any battle against "the Vatican" just feels wrong.  At minimum, it is a house divided.

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. (Luke 12:51-53)
Perhaps it is very good indeed that I have not been able to join a religious order.  Let's see how all this boils over.

grass jelly drink

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Today I tried:
Chin Chin Grass Jelly Drink, Lychee flavor

Yes, it actually has dark jelly floating in it.  Tastes okay, somewhat like a mild tea with a touch of sweetness.  You'll want to drink the liquid with the jelly; jelly itself doesn't have much flavor.  Unfortunately, I didn't keep the can, since the dark jelly makes the can look yucky.  But I think it has less sugar and less sodium than Sprite and Schweppes Ginger Ale.

Sprite sugar: 38g (per 12 oz. can)
Ginger Ale sugar: 32g (per 12 oz. can)
grass jelly drink sugar: 28.6 (per 11 oz. can)

Sprite sodium: 65mg (per 12 oz. can)
Ginger Ale sodium: 60mg (per 12 oz. can)
grass jelly drink sodium: 59.8mg (per 11 oz. can)

I do believe it is devoid of nutritional content.

just doing the unemployment thing

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Unemployed.  Searching and applying online for jobs.  Looking into a certificate program at the local community college. Looking into financial aid for education. Applied for deferment on my current student loan while I'm unemployed. And continuing DIY house repairs.

Yes, I want a different job.  Yes, I understand that I'd be starting at entry level.  Yes, I would accept the lower pay.  Employers probably look at my resume and assume that I wouldn't accept the lower pay (and lower "status").  sigh...

(sticky) discernment event

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WHAT: Life Awareness Weekend is a vocation discernment retreat devoted to providing information about religious life vocations
WHO:  unmarried Catholic men and women between the ages of 18 and 45
WHEN:  July 23-25, 2010
WHERE:  Houston, TX

more information:

been painting

I've been painting. We have a little foyer (more like a short hallway from the front door to the rest of the house). We're giving it two colors plus a different color for the trim. We picked out the colors over the weekend and Monday, we picked up the paint and tweaked the colors with help from the paint folks. We moved stuff
from the foyer and the wall later that day and Monday night I washed down the walls and did just a little spackling.

Tuesday (today) I sanded the spackling and caulked around the door frame. The folks who installed the door forgot to caulk. Either that or they just left it because there isn't much space around the sides of door frame and you can't see whether it's caulked. Pretty hard to get the caulk gun just right for that tight space, but I managed.

One wall will get a deep color, so it had to be primed with the appropriate base color. I didn't get the primer on evenly, so I'll have to give it another coat. The other wall didn't need priming so I finished painting it. I really want to apply the second coat of primer and be done with that, but I'm tired. Plus I need to have the front door open to paint the door opening, and I'm not leaving the door open at this time of night.

I have three cleaned off paint roller covers sitting by the sink right now. I had used three different paint colors (not all at once). Rollers are great for getting the job done; but man, they take forever to clean. I also had two paint brushes. I'll need one of the brushes for the the corners when I apply the second coat of primer; gotta wait for that brush to dry anyways.

Man, I am tired. Pardon me if I am incoherent; I'm just tired.

video blues

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One of the most frustrating things for me is video. There is a multitude of formats and it's all quite confusing. Video from our Xacti is .mp4; video from our TV tuner card is .ts.

Just getting video from our tuner box to the computer is an adventure in itself.  The signal is undoubtedly sent to the box as digital. It is converted to analog at the S-video output, which I then feed into my TV tuner card.  The tuner card takes the anlog signal and converts it to back to digital signal again.  For me to burn a DVD, I'd have to then take that digital file and convert it to analog for the DVD.  (I think DVD video is analog, not sure).

Right now I am struggling with mp4 files from the Xacti, and trying to figure out how to get the video into Windows Movie Maker.  I go through a plethora of free converters.  I've done it before, but I can't remember what I used or did.  Dang it.  When is video going to be less of a headache?  I can't imagine how the "average" user is going to ever be able to burn a recording onto DVD.

what I learned: scratched toilets

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sometimes when trying to clear a clogged toilet, you might end up scratching the bottom of the toilet.  I'd recommend avoiding the risk of scratching the toilet.  Use a toilet auger with a protective vinyl throat or such.  But if it's already said and done, then Bar Keepers Friend will remove the scratches.  It turns out that this stuff is good for cleaning surfaces of glass, ceramic, copper, brass, porcelain, chrome, and stainless steel.

cycler's utiltiy belt

Friday, July 09, 2010

I've been looking for a utility belt of sorts to carry stuff.  Many of my dress pants don't have pockets.  I guess women are supposed to carry purses/bags.  Those things just don't do well with me.  They slide right off my shoulders.  You get to a restaurant and there's no place to put it.  But worst of all, I tend to forget and leave stuff.

Here is an interesting belt.  Apparently made for cyclists because it includes a loop for holding a U-lock.  They have several other styles and lots of other colors.

Fabric Horse

fast friends with a sewer auger

Sunday, July 04, 2010

I had the morning to myself since Gumby is sick and slept late.  I fed the critters, routine for my mornings, and since I now number among the unemployed I looked for jobs and applied online to two.  Not a smooth process since I'm a little rusty.  One company asked for the manager's name from each job I had, and I couldn't hardly remember the the one from my temporary job in 2006.  I did my best and coughed up a name.  I hope it's right.  The resume isn't polished and I don't have a cover letter.  I also had to get re-acquainted with the e-mail address I use for job hunting;  I needed a password reset to get into it.

Then I had a late breakfast and got hooked on watching TV.  One show was "Flip This House" where some people bought a house, renovated it and sold it for some $50K profit.  The next show was "Drill Team" and in this episode they majorly renovated a basement in six days.

Gumby joined the living around noon.  I was going to paint the entryway and asked Gumby what were the colors picked out.  After at least an hour of looking through swatches we had on hand and the Sherwin Williams color tool online, we gave up.  The onscreen rendition of the colors doesn't match the swatches.  This would have to be a project for another day.

Gumby was hungry and wanted grits, eggs, and toast.  So I proceeded to cook while Gumby went to wash up.  I had the grits going and was buttering the bread for cinnamon sugar toast when Gumby called me.  As the water drained out of Gumby's sink, bubbling would occur in the toilet.  So I'm thinking "hmm...what happens if I flush?"  We almost had water overflowing the toilet bowl is what happened.  So I stopped the cooking and attacked the plumbing.

It turned out that both toilets were not draining.  Plunging had no effect.  Since Hurricane Alex brought torrential rains in the area, we thought maybe the sewers were backed up.  We called the water company; they sent a guy out.  Nope, not the sewer lines, it's the house.  By this time, I had finished cooking, but the grits didn't turn out right.  I gave Gumby the food but I guess the grits wasn't palatable.  I had to start and stop on the grits several times and judging by the results, it looks like I can't do that.

Anyhow, I called the neighborhood Ace Hardware store for advice and they said I could rent a sewer auger.  So off I go.  I love our local Ace.  They are very helpful. Probably all the houses in the neighborhood were built by one or two builders, it means that houses here share similarity in hardware and brands.  Ace seems to stock the right replacement parts.  Also, at Ace I could buy low quantities of fasteners.  I only needed one bolt or one washer, I can get that at Ace.  But I digress.  Today, they rented me a sewer auger and talked me through how to operate the machine.

Since I was in a hurry, I just set up the way I was instructed and used common sense where safety is concerned.  Thank goodness it wasn' raining, but I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes until Gumby gave me the OFF spray.  I forgot we had that spray.  All went well and the toilets got to draining and I was finished before dark.  Others advised that I run the auger again tomorrow before returning the machine.  They also said to run a water hose into one of the main lines to help flush everything out.  Ok, so I'll get up early in the morning to run the auger again, but I'm not dragging a water hose in here.

In conclusion, I'd like to recommend to Ace that they include a safety sheet with each rental.

Apparently I had taken a few risks:  Yes, I was standing in water.  It had been raining and the yard was wet.  Yes, that was an electrical appliance I was using while standing in water.  No, I didn't think to test the GFCI before use.  Yes, I had shoes on.  No, I didn't wear safety goggles or gloves.  The manufacturer recommends ONLY leather gloves and I don't have any of those.  I suspect I will have blisters on my hand tomorrow.  Yes, I know to keep stuff away from rotating machinery.

time to bring out the pig of happiness!

Friday, June 25, 2010

perfect french fries

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The story of how the recipe cam to be:

The recipe itself.

I came across this when trying to figure out what I can do with the french fries I do have.  I don't usually eat them, but apparently they rung me up for fries when I ordered my hamburger last night.  So now I'm trying to figure out how to make eating them more enjoyable, so that I don't just throw them away.


I saw this thing at a convention center today.  Some lady was zipping around in it.  I flagged her down and she told me

So awesome.  If I had the duckeys, I'd get one for Gumby.

searching for a solution

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hurricane season is upon us. An active season is predicted for this year. When I was unemployed several years back, I cut plywood for all of our windows. They were to be used with Plylox and fit into the window opening. When Ike came through, we were able to board up the windows in no time flat. The Plylox worked great, though there was a moment when I thought one of the boards was in danger of being pried off. After Ike, I got another pack of Plylox so each board will have another pair of clips the next time around.

Recently we replaced our windows with double-pane vinyl windows. Great for energy savings. However, the Plylox can no longer be used because the window is "thicker" and reduces the "setback". That is, the window doesn't sit deep into the opening.  Plylox require at least 2 1/2 inches setback. They don't say so on their website, but I've seen it in a news article.

So I've been trying to find another solution without having to cut new plywood (to overlap the window opening, not sit in it) or having to drill into our brick. So far:
and a solution that requires more setback than I have but seems nifty:
     Quick Shutter

At this time, I am still searching for a solution. If I run out of time, then I'll probably go with the "tap-in 2x4" solution and use our exisitng plywood. I still have some fence screws and can use those.

been painting

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Some discoveries made while painting:
1. It's difficult to tell where you've painted if your paint is like your primer. Primer is flat white, and so is the paint. If I had hired someone to do the job, I'd be unable to check the work.

2. Latex paint doesn't do well over rust. Just a wild guess, but maybe the water content in Latex paint aggravates the rust problem. I had to switch to oil-based paint. We'll see how that goes.

3. Which leads to the next one: paint brushes aren't much good for painting small diameter rods. I tried. These were maybe 3/8-inch diameter rods. So I used the "sponge on a stick" type of "brushes." I had a whole bag of them of various widths. Must've been from Walmart. Works out good with the oil-based paint, because I simply throw away the used sponge-on-a-stick. It doesn't do well for corners and joints because in tight spots, all you can do is dab with the sponge. You can't brush it out as with a brush. I mean, I did use them for the whole job but the results aren't pretty at the joints. But that's ok. I mainly wanted to stop the rust, seal over it and make it look better (better looking than rust, that is). The oil-based paint is satin. I would've picked glossy, but they were out of those so I got the satin finish. Not bad. Better than flat finish for what I was painting.

The thing now has two coats of latex primer, one coat of latex paint, and one coat of oil-based paint. When I get some time, I'd like to give it yet another coat of oil-based paint.

Prior to painting I did go over the rust with a wire brush. Then a little sanding (I got tired of that quickly). Wipe down to remove dust. Then a coat of rust converter, sprayed on then wiped smooth and allowed to dry. Rust converter was re-applied anywhere rust reappeared after priming and after painting. With the oil-based anti-rust paint, I hope to NOT see rust peep out again. I am uncertain because I didn't use the primer the paint specified. So we'll see...


Saturday, May 29, 2010

at TargetI like! (but not buying)

Happy Sunday to all

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Sunday to all.  Based, on Jesus's promises, it is better to be resurrected than to be dead.

Which leads to the question:  "What does the Church mean when she says 'resurrection of the dead'?"
and why would we look forward to being 'resurrected'?

(I know, this has nothing to do with Pentecost Sunday.  It was just on my mind at the moment, was all.)

time gone

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Where did the time go?  We've spent the evening sorting and paying bills.  We still have to make a grocery run, drop off some the payments, and fill up the car.  Sure hope the run is going be quick.  I'm hungry.

where's the rice?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why is it that when you order take-out from a Chinese food restaurant, they don't give you enough rice?  In this case, it's not rice, but crispy noodles.  It's as if the noodles are just an appetizer.

new vocations website

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm a little behind the times on this one, but here it is:  the new vocations website launched by the USCCB

switch timer

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The other day, I installed a switch timer for the front porch light. Works great. I enjoy the convenience.  It comes on at a certain time and goes off at a certain time.  Switch timer plus switch plate came out to less than $31USD.

I saw it at the local hardware store but didn't buy it at first because I couldn't figure out how to make it work with my existing two-gang switch electrical box. Thanks to, I was shown the way when they suggested the switch plate to go with the timer. Nowhere on the timer packaging does it say that it fits a decora plate; it ought to indicate that it does fit.

I get home after dark.  With our new glass door, it is very important that the porch be lit. If the porch is not lit and the light inside the house is brighter than outside, you could see in.  With the porch lit, it is more difficult to see inside plus it allows us to see out to our porch VERY well.

I'd certainly recommend a switch timer for anyone who wants to leave their light on all night and ensure that the light is off in the morning.  No more forgetting to turn off the porch light.  (so long as you program the timer)  It is compatible with CFL bulbs.  The tiny screen is difficult to see; you might need a magnifying glass.

This particular switch timer has an internal rechargeable battery that doesn't need replacing and will keep your settings in the event of a power outtage.

Absolute DO turn OFF the circuit breaker to the light (and therefore, the switch) BEFORE removing and replacing your old switch!

pet of the week

Friday, April 30, 2010

Pet of the Week: 'Ziggy Bear' the cat

Young cat reminds me of our cat who just died recently.  Tempting, but no, I'm not looking to get another cat.  I'm trying to reduce the complexities in my life and have less stuff.

at the skate park

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We had some kids with us yesterday and we took them to the skate park.  Exposure for them (they don't skate) and to satisfy a curiosity for us.  We wanted to see where the park was and we thought it'd be fun to see some of the action.  While walking, this kid stopped me ...

he:  Hey, will take a photo of me?
I: How will I get it to you?
he: Put it on Facebook.
I: (shaking my head) I don't do Facebook.
he:  What do you use?
I:  I don't use any of that. (pause) I can e-mail it to you.
he: okay. (He poses, leans over on the girl next to him. She fusses. He stands back.)
I:  OK.  Just you then. (flash)
he:  OW! OW! OW!  (rubs his eyes) Let me give you my e-mail.
he:  (to the girl) you got a pen?
she: no
he: make up pencil?
she: gives him a "look"
he: Ok, well, just post it and tell your friends you saw this cool dude at the park.
I show him the photo on the camera and we parted.

So dude, here's your photo.

random shot

Sunday, April 18, 2010

cat toys

a thing of the past

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It used to be that when you go to a hardware store to get house numbers, you'd find large wooden numbers.  At least that's what happened some twenty years ago when I picked up our house numbers.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular; I needed house numbers and that was what was offered.  They were wood with rounded edges on the front surface.  I screwed them onto the front of our fascia over the garage.  They were so big that their bottoms hung below the fascia.  But they were great.  You can definitely see them from the street.

We replaced our fascia last year and in so doing discarded the numbers, which I had never properly painted (they only got  a coat of primer) and had gotten dilapidated.  So I went looking for their replacement.  Perhaps not as big this time, but generally of the same style.

No luck.

Not in the stores.  Not easily found in the internet.  Wooden house numbers are apparently a thing of the past.

Happy Easter

Sunday, April 04, 2010

May everyone find hope and joy during these 50 days of Easter.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Small TV dinner and juice from a young coconut.  I eat so that I can take my medicine.  Then I have to run off to help set up in church this morning for tonight's vigil mass.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

I've been gone since 2:45 p.m., just getting home at 7:30 p.m.   I've been to the doctor, then through rushhour traffic to the pharmacy.  Sorry no record of the prescription having been called in.  I called Gumby, who has been through this dance many times before.  Gumby calls back.  They have it, give them half an hour to fill it.

I have insurance, but I don't know how it works for medication.  So I pay and will file for reimbursement later.  Cost of medicine: $115.78.  Ouch.  I'm counting on tomorrow being payday.  Look at the size of those pills.  I have a sore throat.  It REALLY hurts to swallow.  Plus I have to take the medicine with food.  I haven't eaten anything since breakfast; and breakfast (a frozen dinner) didn't sit well with me earlier.  I sure don't feel like eating.  Or swallowing.  Doc thinks it's pharyngitis.

No, the Gatorade didnt help with the headache.  Neither did two capsules of Tylenol combined with two tablets of Mucinex.  The vinegar and honey didn't make the lump go down.  But it did make a rather interesting searing pain ... something different from the other pain.

Now I better go eat.  And medicate.  And investigate pronto how to file for reimbursement.  And yes, I feel lousy.  Dinner will be a croissant with butter.