Blow

I’ve been thinking.  Yes, it is a dangerous activity bordering on the edge of serious contemplation.   Blame the weather, daylight savings time, or over-engineered technology.  Or, just blame the candle man from Toledo.  We had an interesting conversation about simplifying life last summer at the YSU Festival of the Arts.   I thought about that conversation when I debated about giving up the microwave and it has been on my mind while debating about giving this computer.

Yes, I am seriously considering being done with this machine.  I am tired of fighting with it.  At first, it was all the new stuff… Windows 8 took awhile to learn how to use it.  Then there was the thing with the camera and trying to figure out how to do this or that… stupid things like controlling speaker volume (the easy buttons are on the keyboard, duh… but I didn’t know that) so I get it down pat and something else comes up, a tech problem with a software that refuses to work right.  I click the help and it takes me to their website where I can scroll through common problems to find the solution and of course, what I need help with is not there.  Oh, help is available for $19.95 one shot deal or $89.95 for so much time.  BUMP THAT.  Even my ISP has pay for help nonsense… it’s their software that is screwed up so why should I pay for them to fix their own stuff?  Is this planned?  Do they make it so it won’t work right just to get more money out of people?

I’m also fairly convinced that computer viruses are written by or for companies that sell anti-virus software and THAT is one of the software that I am having problems with.  My ISP included a “free” version with my service.  It keeps shutting itself off.  I turn it back on and it shuts itself off again.  I did manage to talk to a techie from the software company (after jumping through hoops to get a phone number and an access code to let me talk to them) only to be told that I need to talk to the ISP because their contract is with them, not me, and they have their own dedicated staff to deal with any problems.  So, I hit the ISP website and oh… pay to play… do I want to upgrade from the free version?  Only so much money… BUMP THAT.  The ISP is getting enough out of me and they lied… told them straight up, cut me a bundle deal for under $100 a month.  It is $105 plus change.  And, in the bill today was a rate increase list effective next month.  Since I have a special deal, mine won’t go up YET… but when it does, it will jack up at least fifty.  BUMP THAT.  I am fighting with this machine and is it WORTH the money?  NO.

I am also getting extremely very paranoid.

Okay, I know it is GIGO… garbage in equals garbage out, machines don’t lie but people do and sometimes, it is just a typo (which I have used to my advantage at times, like when the BMV accidentally dropped my married name off my driver’s license years ago and would NOT put it back on without NEW documentation, which helped me take my name back without having to ask a judge permission to use my own name – I had kept my maiden name when I married, just added his on the end until the BMV took it off.)   Well, you know… computers don’t lie.  It’s just GIGO.

I ran into GIGO yesterday.  Our government requires verifying your identity to activate prepaid throw away debit cards, supposedly as a measure to prevent money laundering.   Yeah, as if the mafia is going to launder millions by throwing five hundred dollar (max allowed) chunks onto prepaid Walmart debit cards.  How laughably stupid can that law be?  So okay, to prove I am really me, I’m on the phone answering stupid questions.  Which of these streets did I previously live on?  Computerized voice rattles three choice and press 4 for none of the above.  Those type of questions.  Then it asked me:  “What month was [my ex-husband’s NEXT ex-wife’s child to her previous husband – they just called her by name] born in?”  Like, HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT?  I know that question is from a GIGO from years ago when a collection agency wanted ME to pay for that kid’s medical bills.  Some computer thinks I’m that kid’s mother.  Yeah, and somewhere in a computer database, it will say that I enjoy world traveling (even though I don’t have a passport) and I have a pet giraffe.

Here’s my pet.  Yes, somewhere in this photo between the toys is Mr. Marsberry.

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Mars is an old black cat.  He loves to lay on dark surfaces so he can blend in, hide in plain sight.

They asked for my address. Or rather, they started to ask for my address. “What is your house number?”  I typed in “25” and the computerized voice said “Do you live at” and rattled off my entire street address and apartment number.  I had called on a prepaid, disposable, no contract, throw away cell phone with the GPS turned OFF.   So much for sliding under the radar.

There are some things I don’t like about this “new” computer.  The manufacturer wants my “computer use” data.  I have to type in my email password to turn the machine on.  I cannot play solitaire on this computer unless the internet is enabled.  It wants to store my photos and documents in a “cloud” somewhere on the internet.  Sometimes, I think I am saving things ON my computer and later discover that it landed up there on that cloud.   I did not buy WORD yet… my half baked novel (all 68,000 words) is saved on a flash drive and I cannot open the file unless I buy WORD again.

I’m tired of buying WORD.  With every new machine, you have to buy it all over again.   I am seriously considering buying a typewriter.  I don’t want my unfinished words on a computer.  I certainly do not want them in a cloud.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing lately.  I’ve been half scared to use this machine, imagine it is gathering viruses every time I go online (can’t even see the icon showing me that it shut itself off, if it does, unless I exit out and go to desktop) and I feel like it is only a matter of time before it slows down or locks up or does something rendering it completely useless.  I don’t dare do “online banking” or buy anything unless I use a disposable prepaid card.  And I am paying money for all these problems.  THAT’s where my thinking is going… time to simplify, trim back, scale down, turn it off.  I can go online via cell phone, blog by phone, get email by phone.   Between the lease payment and the ISP bill, that is $187 a month that I could free up for something else.  Like yarn or art supplies.

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Speaking of yarn, the boots came out shorter with the cuffs sewed on.  I used a loom to make a hat to match, then tried knitting on a nice pair of chopsticks (watching tension as my chopsticks are tapered) before shopping for real knitting needles and some cotton yarn.  Now I’m making fingerless mittens.  I don’t have a pattern, don’t really need one… they are like tube socks with thumb holes.  I had to make 3 of the purple ones to get two to match and they are not perfect, one is wider than the other as I made it two stitches wider.  I went even wider for the cotton pair, 30 stitches on 5mm needles, and trying out variations.  From what I understand, there are only two stitches, knit and purl.  Everything else is just variations in sequence.  I don’t think I am casting on/off correctly but oh well… I’m learning.

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Knit and think… knitting is good for thinking. Although I do think that I have made up my mind.

Boots on the Range

Remodeling rain boots… I was so ticked finding little girl rain boots in grown up sizes on a clearance sale rack last year that I called my sister to say, “Guess what I got?”  She reminded me why we hated wearing rubber boots as children.  It does not feel good to have rubber rubbing the skin raw on bare wet legs.  Of course, we always wore dresses to school in the 1960’s and our knee socks back then didn’t always stay up.  I could have worn these with skinny leg jeans tucked inside, but shorter with a softer edge lets me wear them with anything.

So, here is what I am doing… yes, I snapped the photo with the boots on the range (they are clean, never worn yet, and my kitchen has the best light snapping flash-less photos at night).

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Yes, I took sturdy scissors to a boot… it’s rubber, seams molded in or sealed, so it is okay.  The knitted cuff for the top was made with two strands of yarn on a cheap 30 peg round loom.  It just folds over the top of the boot shaft, with ye as much tucked  inside as there is on the outside.  Hope it stay on okay… If not, I will punch holes in rubber and sew the cuff on.  Photo below is the next cuff started.

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I don’t know what I am doing as I am not a knitter.  I bought the cheap set of looms for like twelve bucks at Wal-Mart.  They are cheap because they are made cheap.  I don’t know if you can see in this photo, but one of the blue pegs is shorter than the others because it broke off on round four and I had to fix it with a brass hammer.   I followed the basic how-to instructions that came with the loom and watched some online how-to videos about how to bind off as a straight edge.  The instructions omitted how to do that… they only tell how to take it out of the loom to close that end up to make a hat.

It is easy, but doing it kinks my spine so I’m trying various ways of holding the loom and repurposed an eraser thing into a tool to help hold the yarn while wrapping pegs.

These boots will keep my feet dry during the Great Meltdown of 2014.  We did not get nearly as much snow as friends did on the east side of PA, but we will have plently of unavoidable slush puddles here in Youngstown, Ohio.

Auto-phobia

I am scared of cars. There.  I’ve done said it.
Rip up my old UAW and IUE-CWA union cards, I am afraid of automobiles.

To be precise, I don’t like to ride in cars.   I will do anything to get out of it… piss off my family, come up with all sorts of excuses of why I can’t go somewhere, when the truth to be told is that the mere idea of riding inside an automobile to get to Point A from Point B raises up a dread so fierce inside of me that I am fighting down panic until I figure out a way to get out of going.

There really is no good reason to have this phobia. Driving was always much better than riding, but I still did not like it. What kid drops out of Driver’s Ed? Waits two years before taking it again? I didn’t get my license until I was 18. Hey, at least I never buried a car in the back yard.  My great grandfather did that; dug a big hole and buried his Model T Ford out on the old farm.  He had auto-phobia, too.  Or, maybe it was a train phobia?  Word has it that he refused to drive over railroad tracks. I don’t know why he buried it.  Maybe he couldn’t keep it running?

CORRECTION: I got my great-grandfather’s confused. My dad’s paternal grandfather refused to drive over railroad tracks. His maternal grandfather buried a “Star Car” – not a Model T Ford.

I never trusted cars to keep running.  I was always afraid they would break down and leave me stranded.  Some did.  Even the convertible I bought thinking what I needed was a “fun” car to make driving more pleasurable broke down on me when I took it out of town.  Twice it left me stuck out on the highway, waiting on tow trucks to haul it in for repairs.  Around town, I was fine… drop the top and crank the tunes, oh yeah… as long I didn’t go more than five miles out of town, I could drive just fine.  People teased me about that convertible, told me that I only like to drive on sunny days when it was nice enough to drop the top.  They were right.  They just did not know the extent of my auto-phobia.

Should I tell the worst of it?

Now this will make me sound plum crazy.   Spirits roam the highways.  They are not all good.  I have seen the shadow of death. There is no other way to describe a black shapeless cloud that floats with a total disregard to air patterns.  When you see it, you know what it is.

In town, I did not have those problems.  The only spirit that talked to me while I was driving in town was the priest who shot himself in the rectory. He said, “pray for me, I’ve been shot” just after I parked on the side street by the post office in Warren.

1.5 x 6.5 inches... yes, a bookmark.

1.5 x 6.5 inches… yes, a bookmark.

My last car was an almost new Chrysler PT Cruiser.  Maybe I should have bought another convertible, but I bought a hard top in Cool Vanilla thinking it would be a “fun” car, too.  It had ye about 14,000 miles on it when I got it.  Three years later, when I had to give up driving due to disability, it still had less than 20,000 but then that last year really doesn’t count as I only put gas in the tank maybe two or three times.  It sat in the garage so long that mice chewed through the wiring.

Funny thing is, I miss driving. I didn’t want to give up driving because I always felt safer driving myself than I did riding with anyone else. I have absolutely no problem with buses, trains, and even airplanes.
I just HATE riding in cars.

Do you have any weird phobias?