A blog about "nothing"!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder!

I recently decided to buy myself a new cell phone.  I'd been debating for a few months and finally decided to take the plunge.  There was really nothing wrong with the phone I had and it wasn't all that old, I just bought it in April.  But it was very limited in what it could do, and I wanted something with a few more bells and whistles.  Even the new one isn't the fanciest one on the planet, but it does what I need it to do and it is updated enough that as long as I don't drop it in a puddle or break it, I should have it for about 2 years.  I'm far from a heavy user, I use it to make calls, text and periodically get on the internet when I'm out on the road.  I don't need a million apps or the ability to play games.  I'm able to get by with a pretty bare bones phone compared to most people.
My husband also was in need of a new phone, and I convinced him to switch from Apple to Samsung.  My old phone was a Samsung, and even though it wasn't anything amazing, I was impressed with what it was able to do.  He too doesn't need anything fancy, he uses his primarily for work so customers can get in touch with him, so he went with a fairly simple model.  It works well for what he needs.  Because he has to have the ability to use his phone as a "hot spot", he has to go with a subscription type service.  I don't have to do that, so I've been using a "pay as you go" type service, I've been doing that for over 10 years.  I was very impressed with his phone, so you can imagine how excited I was to find the same phone as what he had available through the provider I used!  I ordered it and then anxiously awaited it's arrival.

Can I just say WOW?!?!  Even though it wasn't an expensive upgrade, I'm impressed with what I'm able to do that I couldn't do before.  I have to admit that it makes me wonder what some of the more advanced/more expensive ones do, but not enough to make me spend a ridiculous amount of money on a phone.  I've never been happier with a phone purchase, I just hope it holds up.
Before I purchased it, I did read a decent number of reviews, and the general consensus was it was a nice phone, and not a lot of people had problems with it.  Of the negative reviews, I threw about half of those out due to the fact that they were so poorly written, I assumed that the review probably didn't have much credibility to begin with.  And in all seriousness, I am regularly amazed at the level of stupidity that turns up in online reviews. 
My favorite complaint was about battery life.  This person said that the battery died during the day.  I shook my head, my husband is on his phone continually throughout the day, using it for a variety of different things and by the time he gets home, it still has a decent charge.  What in the world is this person doing that they are killing the battery so quickly?!?!  A lot of the other complaints surprised me because they seemed like minor issues or simply a case of the person not doing any research before making the purchase. 
This brings me to the main point of this post.  Online reviews and not only how they are written, but how much of what is said is legitimate and how much of it is just whining.  I've read a fairly large number of reviews that tell me nothing more than the fact the person who wrote them is an idiot that couldn't work their way out of a paper bag.  Some of them are downright laughable, and others come across as written by a spoiled rotten brat.  I've even come across a few that were unreadable, don't these people proofread them before they hit the send button?  Or are they really just that dumb?
Do online reviews frustrate you at times?  How do you sort through all of the crap to get a true assessment of the product or service?
We had to buy a new washing machine, our current one broke down and to fix it would have cost almost as much as a new one.  I read reviews and had a hard time deciding which ones to believe and which ones to ignore completely.  But my favorite part of it was reading a section devoted to questions about the washer and how it worked.  I love a good typo, and apparently the person who came across it and responded was a kindred spirit.  I laughed so hard at the response, I could barely tell my husband what it said.  Enjoy.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

5 Things

It's New Years Eve day, and I'm sure many people are thinking about what they want to change, put in place or hope for in the coming year.  2016 has been a tough one in so many ways, ranging from changes in global leadership to the loss of so many big celebrity icons.  I'd be remiss in saying that I will never get over the loss of Prince, such an icon and gone too soon.
The New Year always brings with it a lot of optimism.  A fresh start, new opportunities.  I'm not big on resolutions because I think sometimes those just set us up for failure.  So I think about things on a broad scale.  Last year was horrible for me as far as how I felt physically, I had health issue upon health issue and as a result, my house is not clean to my liking.  So my long range goal for the year is to go (again) from room to room, cleaning from top to bottom, getting rid of things we aren't using.  The last part is probably going to be the easiest as I've been working on purging our home of unnecessary items for the past 4 years.  But there is always something!
I also have a couple of things that I want to do, but keep putting off.  After thinking about it a bit, I decided to make these my weekly challenge.  One item per day for 5 days and hopefully by the end of 2017, I will feel like I have not only accomplished something, but some of these things will help me reach my "clean house" goal.
So, here they are.  I always feel by putting this out on a worldwide scale, I'm much more likely to stick to it.  They may seem kind of silly, but they are things that I have neglected, and that upsets me because each of them has a place in my life or will make it easier.
1)  Add 5 questions to my Coronation Street Quizup Set.  Last year I started my own quiz on the Quizup platform for the popular British soap Coronation Street, and I did really well with it to start.  Then I got sidetracked, and it's been sitting at 300 questions since October.  That's not acceptable to me, especially for a show that has been on for over 50 years!!  So by adding 5 questions per week, that will add 250 questions to it by the end of the year.  I don't think that's too much to ask.  I have 150 followers so far, and I think I owe it to them as well.
2) Sew a doll item.  I have a rather big stash of fabric and patterns I've accumulated over the past two years with good intentions of making them into different things for 18 inch dolls.  This is sort of a carryover from last year, but I'm going to make a much bigger effort to stick to it.  Some items will be an all day type project, and some as little as 30 minutes.  I just need to get to it!  Doing this will also help me with my clean out project!  And no, I don't intend on keeping all 52 items I make, some will be gifts.
3)Clean out a cupboard/drawer/closet.  Again, part of the floor to ceiling clean out.  And one of those things that EVERYONE needs to do periodically. 
4) List 2 Ebay items to sell.  I don't have a ton of stuff to list now as I've purged quite a bit, but there are still a few things here and there that need to go.  More of the clean out.  Plus we all love a bit of fun money, don't we?
5)Take a box/bag to donate to charity.  All this cleaning means there is going to be stuff to go!  Sure, I could have a yard sale, but that just means it sits around here until I do.  Be gone!
The nice thing about all of these is if I have a week where I am going to be busier on some days than other, it's not unreasonable or impossible to do several, if not all 5 items in one day if necessary.  But I'm going to do my best to try and do these things every week.  Oh, and taking that stuff to donate does not mean I'm going to set foot in the store.  I don't need to bring anything back!!!
I hope this post has given some of you some food for thought.  I'll let you know at some point how it's going.  Fingers crossed!  And Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Gloom, Despair and Agony On Me...

Okay, it's not quite that bad, but whenever things go haywire, I frequently think of that song that they used to do on the TV show "Hee Haw".  I can't tell you how many times over the years that my mom and I would sing it whenever something went wrong.  So what has prompted this?
The Thursday before Thanksgiving, our hot water tank sprung a leak.  We knew it was old, so it wasn't completely unexpected, just bad timing.  $775 later we were good to go again, and we won't have to worry about that.  Not long after that, my husband got some bad news about one of his clients, another hit to the wallet.  And then the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I went to reheat some leftovers.  As I was preparing things to cook, I turned the oven on to preheat.  A few minutes later, I could smell the strong odor of natural gas.  It finally happened, our ancient stove decided it was all over.  Timing is everything.  The new one is ordered, but it won't be here until December 29th, so in the meantime I'm debating on what to make for Christmas dinner that doesn't require baking!
Last night we gave Laney a chew bone.  She loves them, and hasn't had one for a while, so she was really going to town on it.  Then we noticed some blood on it, so we thought perhaps we had better check.  She's missing a front tooth!!!!!  We're not sure if it was caused by the bone and just the rough surface rubbing on the gum caused the bleeding or the tooth actually came out then.  You don't notice it unless you pull back her lip, it's not one of her big canine teeth.  But I couldn't help but have flashbacks of the movie "The Hangover", I've been calling her "Nerdy Hillbilly Dog" ever since.  (If you've seen the movie, you'll know what I'm talking about.)
As Roseanne Rosannadanna would say..."It's always something!" 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Perils of Social Media...

I've been using the internet for a very long time, since about 1998.  I've been a part of chat rooms, bulletin boards, blogs, websites--you name it.  One thing I resisted against though were social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.  I had friends on both sites and after hearing some of their stories about what went on, I decided it wasn't for me.

A couple of years ago I decided I would give Twitter a try.  Seriously, how much trouble could you get into with a limit of 140 characters.  I started out slowly, following a couple of celebs I admired as well as a couple of friends.  All was well and good.  I even made a couple of friends through it and that was good enough for me.  I wasn't on there to see how many followers I could get.  For me it was just some good clean fun, keep up to date with what was going on in the world and to periodically tweet about my frustration with various things.

Earlier this year I discovered a radio station out of another country via Twitter.  I've become friends with one of the DJ's there and I'm a regular listener for a particular show.  I also discovered that being on Twitter while the show was on was almost as entertaining as the show was itself!  It was fun to see the different comments people made and interacting with them.  It became my weekly ritual.

As time progressed, I made some friends through the show. We had a lot of fun and it got even more interesting when another group that had listened to another show crossed over and started to listen as well.  It was like one big happy family.  Some of these people had even met in person.  All was fun and games, at least on the surface.

Then things turned ugly.  There were some actions and behavior from two of these people that were not only ridiculous, but incredibly hurtful.  I unfortunately found myself caught in some of the crossfire from all of this.  To say my feelings weren't hurt would be an outright lie.  And when I found out the whole scope of what they had been saying and doing, and the huge number of people affected by their actions, I was furious.  They had broken the trust of so many people.  Fortunately, their embarrassment caused them to leave Twitter and our group.  But there are still quite a few of the group who are very hurt and shocked by what they did, and I'm sure it will be a while before they get over it. 

I bring this subject up, not because I want anyone to feel bad for me.  I'm fine and over time, it will be just another blip on my timeline.  I am mentioning it because I want to warn everyone about this type of person and why they seem to think that this is acceptable.  It's because sometimes they are people who suffer from sociopathic tendencies.  They are narcissistic and they have no regard for the feelings of others because they just aren't wired that way.

How do I know about this personality?  Because I've encountered it several times in my life, both online and in real life.  I never knew a whole lot about the psychology related to it until several years ago and a bad experience that left me very emotionally scarred.  A friend who also was involved in that experience later recommended a book to me that had been recommended to her by a therapist.  I truly think that this particular book was a game changer for me in how I regarded these types of encounters with these people, and helped me look back on several different experiences in a completely new light.

The book is called "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout.  I liked it because it was easy to read, giving just the right amount of scientific information, mixed with several different case studies.  One of these case studies hit home for me too, just confirming that my experience was just as my friend evaluated.  In fact it was almost scary.  But it also gave me the ability to separate my emotions from what had happened and move on.  Plus I learned a lot of valuable information that has helped me deal with situations like I had on Twitter.  I know that it's not me, it's them, and there isn't a darned thing I can do to change it.  They are just wired that way. Move on.

If you'd like to check out this book, it is sold on Amazon.  I don't know how many different countries it's available in, but I highly recommend it for anyone who has either had a bad experience or simply wants to understand a bit more about how certain people operate and why. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Quick Trip!

Sorry for that extended break everyone!  I've been busy with all sorts of odds and ends and unfortunately my blogging suffered.  Another two weeks and everything should be back to normal--whatever normal is!
One of the things that occupied my time was a trip to Connecticut.  We also visited Massachusetts and Rhode Island briefly, but the bulk of our trip was to Connecticut.  Specifically, Mystic Seaport.  We were there many, many years ago, and it was someplace I'd always wanted to go back to see again. 
Mystic Seaport is a museum of sorts, set up like a village would be, where shipbuilding was the main industry.  It's interesting because they have several different ships from different era's, not a specific time, so you can see how things evolved.
Keep in mind that all of the boats on display are functional and used periodically.  Due to the age of some, that requires a certain amount of maintenance and even periodic restoration.  The pride of Mystic Seaport is the Charles W. Morgan, a former whaling ship.  It just so happened that when we were there, they had it out of the water for some maintenance work.
It amazed me just how large the ship was!
The weather unfortunately was less than cooperative, it rained quite a bit.  We did get a few breaks here and there.  At one point we were out on the coast of Rhode Island where I took these photos.  There are only two, and I had a hard time taking those without being blown over by the wind!
We did drive around an old cemetery in Mystic, it was actually quite interesting. 
From the cemetery you could see the seaport from another angle:
It's a very nice area to visit and quite a few things to do--when the weather cooperates!  Even so, it was nice just to get away for a couple of days.
Hopefully it won't take me quite as long to post again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One man's trash...

Almost 8 years ago, we bought matching recliners for our living room.  I joked they were "his and hers".  We moved them to the new house and they got a lot of use.  Earlier this year a spring went on the one my husband used.  Not too long after, the whole recliner assembly in mine broke.  I had my nephew look at it to see if it could be repaired, but it could not.  Fortunately we had another recliner in our now unused basement family room (hubby converted it to an office when his job changed) so we brought it up.  We still needed another one though, so this past weekend we went shopping and I found one that I really liked.  It was delivered today and I'm sitting in it as I type.  :)

Last night in preparation for it's arrival, we had to do some re-arranging in the living room.  The plan was that my old chair would go out to the curb since it was in the worst shape.  My husband's old one would go in the spot for the spare chair, and the recliner we already had would become his.  It worked out well that the delivery was today as garbage collection was this morning, so we could put the broken one out for garbage pick-up and not have to look at it for long. 

When we went to take it outside, we didn't get it started through the door right and it got stuck.  We had to do some moving it around to get it out, and while we were doing that, the neighbor across the street saw us and yelled over to see if we needed help.  We managed to get it out and my husband drug it to the curb.  As he was doing so, he yelled back to the neighbor "it's broke, so I don't care what kind of shape it is when I get it there."  The neighbor responded with "I bet it's gone within 2 hours!"  I laughed.

Not even an hour had passed when I heard something outside.  My husband looked out the window, and sure enough, there was someone loading it into their van!!  Not sure what they were going to do with it, I'm hoping perhaps pull out the metal parts for recycling.  It certainly wasn't repairable, and it wasn't comfortable anymore either.  Whatever.  It's gone and someone else's problem now.

I told my sister about it, and she remembered an incident with a sofa sitting out along the curb.  She actually stopped to check it out, only to discover it smelled to the high heavens!  She said that later on, she saw a bunch of college kids loading it up.  The funny part was that further down the road, there was the sofa again, apparently once they got it inside the vehicle, they discovered it's bad aroma and ditched it.  At least the chair didn't stink, it just didn't work.  Perhaps it's headed to a fraternity house somewhere and will live it's days out by having beer spilled on it.  RIP chair!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sewing Frustration!

There is nothing worse than wanting to sew and not being able to.  Or to be afraid to even try because you know that it is going to end in disaster.  That was me recently.  A pile of projects I wanted to do, but no incentive to do them because of previous experience.
Just over 4 years ago I bought myself a new sewing machine.  It wasn't a case of my old one not working, but more a case of wanting some features I didn't have.  After doing some research I found out which machines had what I wanted and which ones seemed to be the highest rated.  As luck would have it, I found a place where the one I wanted most was not only on sale, but I also had received a coupon for an additional discount.  I ordered it, it came and I sewed like crazy on it.  I made a rag quilt, countless scarves, tote bags, a few clothing items, doll clothes--you name it.  All was good.
Then I started having problems about 2 summers ago, but I realized that the problem might be with the bobbins I had.  I had purchased bobbins not made by the same company and after doing some comparisons, I confirmed my suspicions.  I replaced all of the Dritz bobbins (which are thinner) with Singer bobbins and my problem seemed to be mostly solved.  For a while.
Last fall I noticed the problem seemed to be back and getting progressively worse.  Last week I decided to give it another go and this time I was completely frustrated, to the point of tears.  After ruining several pieces of fabric, and about ready to toss the machine in the trash, I e-mailed a friend who sews all the time.  She gave me a piece of advice that turned out to not only be an inexpensive solution to the problem, but confirmed what I suspected all along.  And now I'm going to share it with you!
The bane of my existence...
The sewing machine I have is called a Singer Superb.  It is a top loading, drop in bobbin style machine.  It has a lot of nice features, ranging from a multitude of stitches to the ability to sew without a foot pedal.  I did a lot of research before buying it and because of the good reviews and several features, it seemed to be the ideal machine for what I wanted to do.  I was impressed with how well it sewed straight out of the box and how easy it was to use.  My other machine is an old school Pfaff, so it had some big shoes to fill.
The problem with the bobbin begins with the location of the thread within the bobbin case.  It's an easy machine to thread, both for the bobbin and the upper portion, but keeping it that way is the trick.  The thread from the bobbin has to go across the bobbin, and if it doesn't, there is going to be hell to pay.  Side effects range from just bumpy/uneven stitches to full out knotting/nesting of the thread.  It totally messes up all of the tension.  What I discovered with the Dritz bobbins is that because they aren't the same size, the threads end up where you don't want them because the bobbin jumps.  Not good.
However, I started having this problem with Singer bobbins too.  Not sure why it wasn't an issue to begin with, but I've read several comments from people who are having the same problem, and I suspect it's because the bobbins aren't heavy enough.  They are made from plastic (or something similar) and they just don't have the weight to keep them from moving too much from within the bobbin case.  Plus, because they are plastic, they tend to warp from the heat built up.  I suspect that is more of what my issue may have been because I'm someone who sews at a high speed most of the time, and all of that friction was wearing them out quickly.  Combine that with the jumping issue and it was wreaking havoc.  
This week I was sewing some fabric that wasn't the easiest to work with, and between that and the bobbin issue, it was disastrous.  At one point, this is what it looked like:
Yeah, it's as bad as it looks.  I had already cut away most of the fabric and then removed the top plate that covers the bobbin case.  It took a little bit of work, but I finally got it cleared from the machine.  Keep in mind that this was the 3rd time this happened.   Stupid machine keeps on sewing, even after an error message, jamming it further in!  Not impressed.
My friend Maggie has been sewing for years and has a business on Etsy selling doll clothing, that's how we got to know each other.  Her machines get a ton of use, so I e-mailed her with several questions, ranging from what brand of machines did she have to asking her if she ever had this issue.  Lo and behold, she had!  I really hadn't gone into great detail, nor did I give her my suspicions of what was wrong, so you can imagine how surprised I was when I got an e-mail back from her, not only describing the exact problem I was having, but also what she suspected the problem was, confirming my initial thought.  And she took it one step further, a solution!
Would you believe that it was as simple as buying METAL bobbins?  I had thought about doing this before, but was hesitant because I couldn't find an explanation on if it was safe or not, but also didn't know anyone who had tried it.  She had and said that it seemed to be the only thing that made her machine work properly.  I was definitely willing to give it a try, a package of bobbins costs under $3.
I will warn you, this will not work with all machines.  Some machines have magnetized parts that will prevent this from working, but in my situation, it worked better than expected.  My machine now works like it did when it was new out of the box.  I sewed multiple items after and had little to no trouble, I didn't have to cut a single piece out of my machine!  I also noticed that my stitches were much more consistent, better than they had been in quite a while.  And, when I'm filling the bobbins, they seem to be much more balanced than the plastic ones, another issue I suspect caused by the lack of weight.
I'm not sure how hard this is going to be on my machine, but to be honest, I don't care.  Prior to this I had a big white paperweight, so just being able to use it at all is good.  If it all turns into a disaster, I'll be sure to update this.  I have my doubts that it will though, I'm sure Maggie would have warned me of any impending doom.  I still have my old machine if something does happen.  I suspect that the only issue may be that my machine may need serviced at some point and perhaps some parts replaced, but even so, that is to be expected with any machine.  I'm just happy to be able to sew again!  Thanks Maggie!!
All of this made me think back to the sewing machine that my mom had that I learned to sew on.  It was a Singer Golden Touch and Sew (frequently referred to on different sewing forums as a "Golden Touch and Scream!), a machine that was better than a basic machine but very temperamental.  My mom spent a lot of time toting it to the repair shop.  However, one issue she had with it was solved with a Band Aid.  Yes, you read that right!  She was having tension issues with it and one day while sewing, she noticed it had a tendency to throw the thread from the top part WAY out and that is when it would jam.  As the saying goes, "necessity is the mother of invention" and she figured out by running the thread under the padded, non-sticky part of the Band Aid, it prevented the thread from being thrown.  Crazy, huh?  Whatever works!  I'm sure the guy she took it to for repairs/maintenance wondered what the purpose of that Band Aid stuck to the top was.  Sometimes simple solutions are the best.