A blog about "nothing"!

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. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

I've been doing things right and I didn't even know it!

Hi everyone!  I just got home from the hospital on Saturday after having a procedure done to correct/eliminate the heart problem that landed me in the hospital back in March while I had the flu.  Glad that is over with, feeling good, just a bit sore.  I have to watch what I do for a week or so, but other than that, back to business!  Fingers crossed that what they did will take care of it.

I encountered something while I was in the hospital though that I definitely did not expect.  I can't tell you how many times I had someone tell me how healthy I am.  I'm not going to lie, I am overweight, but when I have my bloodwork done, usually the only thing that is even close to being an issue is my cholesterol, and it's not even bad enough to consider medication.  I take no medications at all and several of the nurses as well as the person who took my data when I was registering said that it was extremely unusual for a person of my age not to have to take any medications.  For once in my life, I'm the exception and not the rule! 

I'm not someone who watches what I eat continuously.  I do have to watch to a certain extent because of my food allergies, but otherwise, I generally don't deny myself something.  I'm not in the habit of eating deep fried foods, my oven is my best friend, but I do eat them periodically.  Most of my weight gain I attribute to inactivity because of my completely screwed up knee.  I never had a weight issue until that happened, I've always been a fairly active person.  I actually think that is part of the reason my doctor is hesitant to refer me for a knee replacement just yet, he knows me well enough to figure out that it wouldn't take long for me to wear it out. 

I come from a family with a not so great history of heart disease as well as respiratory ailments.  However, most of those people also smoked for a period (if not all) of their lives.  The only cigarettes I've had in my life were 2 that I bummed back in my (much) younger days during a night of heavy drinking.  Smoking is one of those habits that I've never quite understood, plus I'm too cheap to spend that much money on something like that.  I used to tell my mother that it was just a dirty habit, why not pick your nose instead, at least that is free!  I also learned very early on that salt is the enemy.  I use table salt very sparingly, there are only two things that you will ever see me salt before I start eating them: cottage cheese and corn on the cob.  Otherwise, it's not very often you will see me salt something.  I think we still have the same container of salt that I bought when we moved in here 6 years ago and most of it has been used either by my husband or when I disinfect the sink.  I really do think that by not eating much salt, I have managed to avoid some of the heart issues that other family members have had to deal with.

There has been one thing that I've done my whole life that I never thought about in a million years as being a good thing.  Every morning for breakfast since I was in grade school, I've had a glass of chocolate milk.  I love milk and I love chocolate, so it just seemed like the best thing in the whole world.  When I was in grade school we had chocolate milk available to go with the lunches.  Then someone decided to take away chocolate milk because it wasn't good for us.  We rebelled big time!  I don't know of many instances when a class of 140 sixth graders got their point across as well as we did, but we got our chocolate milk back.  We organized our own form of protest by having everyone bring their own lunch on that day instead of buying the one the school offered, it even trickled into the 5th grade.  We were mad and we wanted our chocolate milk back.  I shudder to think about how much food was thrown out that day because it went unsold.  But it worked and we got our chocolate milk back.  After reading an article this past weekend about chocolate milk, I'd love to find the moron who made that original decision so I could shove it into their face as to just how wrong they were.

Turns out that chocolate milk is fantastic for you!  I was really surprised at the info in the article, I never in a million years would have thought about the benefits.  In fact, chocolate milk is better for athletes to drink after a work out than most of the sports drinks available or even water!  Take that misinformed person in 1976 who took our chocolate milk away!! I've since read several articles that are similar in information, and I now understand part of why I may be heavy but healthy, I may have a higher muscle tone than the average overweight person.  Who knew?!?!

So, now I just have to make it to 100, for no reason other than to have someone ask me "what do you attribute your long life to?" My reply: "CHOCOLATE MILK!"




Friday, July 15, 2016

I'm still here...and random stuff!

Hi everyone!  I feel bad that I've been neglecting this blog, but I'll be honest: I didn't have much to write about lately.  I don't think everyone wants to hear about me cleaning my house! 

Let's see, what's new since I wrote...I'd been feeling very horrid since the end of May when I had a horrible realization and thought perhaps it was related to the medication they gave me for my minor heart issue.  I was right...I had gout!!  I actually realized I had gout before I figured out what caused it.  It's not a fun feeling to look at your feet and think "gee, those looks just like my mom's did when she had gout", put 2 and 2 together and come up with 7.  The reason I say that is because I don't eat most of the items that cause it, so I had to do some logical reasoning, and you can imagine how surprised AND annoyed I was to find out that this medication can definitely cause it.  I'm not taking it anymore and with managing my diet, I am thankfully on the mend.  I've never hurt so much in my life before though.  I don't know how people who have regular bouts of it can deal with it.  Hopefully I'm not going to find out.

The doll blog has been keeping me busy, but it's a lot of fun.  I got backed up on things back in March when I initially got sick, so I've been catching up on things.  It's definitely much more "high energy" than this blog, and sometimes I feel bad that this blog gets neglected because of that.  Someday I'll find a happy medium!

I've found a new "guilty pleasure".  Fortunately it is only on Friday for 2 hours but it's a blast.  And I've made a new friend because of it.  I have Twitter to thank for it too, that surprised me.  Last year sometime I started following a woman from Scotland and one of the things she re-tweeted from another user frequently were things from the 80's, sort of a "remember this" kind of thing.  I love stuff like that, so I favorited and retweeted some of them too.  Before too long, I had another follower who shared this love of 80's stuff, a woman from Ireland.  I followed her back and she posted a lot of fun 80's stuff.  What I didn't realize at the time was that she was a DJ for a radio station there.  As I followed her posts, I noticed a post about the station and that I could listen to it online.  I decided to give it a try.  What a fun time!  They have a very social media interactive show, taking online requests, reminiscing about different 80's subjects each week and just having a good time in general.  I'm hoping to make another trip to Ireland one of these days and get together with her, I think that would be so much fun.  Now if airfare would just come down in price...

I also managed to do some thrift store shopping the past few months that yielded some fun stuff.  This past week I went to the city, bought 7 items, 5 of which were brand new!  I'm still amazed at the things I can find.  3 of those items were shirts with the price tags still on them, had I paid full price I would have spent $50, instead I paid $14.  I also found a brand new pitcher for my kitchen, I had one but I really wanted a second so that when one is sitting in the sink dirty,  I don't have to hurry up and wash it if I need it!  Lazy, I know, but I couldn't resist.  Also brand new.  I took my husband with me on one of my thrift store runs, stuck him in the men's department and he ended up spending more money than I did!  Maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

No gardening this year, and boy am I glad!!  It has been SO hot, the few flowers I did plant are now looking dreadful.  We need rain desperately, it seems like every time we have it in the forecast, it ends up missing us for whatever reason.  It's a shame, up until about two weeks ago they looked great, now they are a mess.  I need to go deadhead most of it, give it a good drink and hope for the best.  What can you do?  Just Mother Nature being a bitch again.

That's about it for now.  I'm not sure when I'll have anything else to write about, but when I do, you'll be the first to know!  I hope you are enjoying your summer (or winter depending on where you live)!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Feasability Studies: Not Just For Business!

When someone hears the words "feasibility study", they most likely think of it in a business context.  I myself had to do several after I took over my supervisor position in my last job.  I filled several jobs that had been done by the same people for many years, and as times changed and new ways of doing things emerged, as is often the case, they were still doing them the same way.  Not only were these old ways of doing things not time efficient, they also weren't cost efficient. 

It's not difficult then to think of how well this way of thinking might affect things in your home as well.  One thing I've found that helps in several areas is doing a larger than average grocery shopping trip.  It saves me in time because I'm making one trip as opposed to making several.  That in turn saves me gasoline.  It also saves me time once I get home because I'm only having to haul the groceries in from the car to the house and putting them away once.  AND, the biggest savings is money not spent on impulse items because I'm not in the store to begin with!  Interestingly enough, I find that we also eat better when I shop this way.  It may take a little planning to begin with, but once implemented, it becomes second nature. 

At the moment I'm dealing with something that is not so fun.  I'm suffering from severe arthritis pain as a result of menopause.  Some days are good, some are not so good and once in a while it's horrible.  As a result, I've been doing a lot of thinking about easier ways to do things.  For the most part I'm still able to do the majority of things around the house, but one task in particular has become a pain (literally).  Laundry.

Our house is mostly one floor.  Unfortunately our laundry is downstairs.  When I'm having a bad day, that trip up and down the stairs can be absolute agony.  This got me to thinking about how I did laundry and how I could change it to make it easier and more efficient.  I'd been doing alternate week laundry--one week I did nothing but clothing items and the opposite week I did linens.  I would do one load a day until they were all done.  Once in a while I would make an exception if something was dirty that was needed, but overall it worked well. 

Then I got to thinking about how that was wasteful in a "trip up and down the stairs" way.  If I'm washing towels, sheets, blankets, it's a two trip load, one trip to put it in the washer and one trip to move it to the dryer.  I wouldn't bring it up until the following day when I went downstairs to do the next load.  However, with clothing it often ended up being three trips for one load--the trip to wash, the trip to dry and then the dash to the dryer when it buzzed so it didn't end up a wrinkled pile of clothing.  Hmmm...

It was after a bit of thinking that it dawned on me just how wasteful this was!  So now my new way of doing the laundry is to do two loads a day, the first load being clothing that needs to be hung and the second load being something that doesn't.  I still have to make three trips, but I'm doing double the laundry!!  DUH!  My hope is to eventually get it caught up enough that I'm only doing laundry either every other week, or 2 loads every couple of days.  The other bonus to this is that it will be more energy efficient in the winter months, it won't take the dryer as long to heat up for that second load. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.

Do you have an area in your life that you think could use a personal "feasibility study"?  Or do you have an example of where one worked for you?