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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Now How Do I Do This...?

I have had this one possession for over thirty years. I have paid to insure it, I have obsessed over being the only one to touch it, and I have moved it from house to house for about twenty-five years.

And in the last twelve years, I have used my cello exactly four times.

Before that, once I no longer played in an orchestra I only played it about once yearly. That's for the last twenty years.

So let's see... I used it pretty steadily from when it was purchased for me in my mid-teens for about ten years, then once a year for about eight years, and four times since then.

You see, Abby-in-utero objected strongly to the vibrations of the back panel against my belly. And she'll be twelve in December. I just never picked it back up with anywhere near as much frequency.

As with the books, I think it will be freeing to sell it and its pretty little display/music stand, although it will likely break my mother's heart if I do. And I can certainly use the money.

Unlike the books, I have no idea how much it's worth, how much I can get for it, or even where to sell it. I've looked on Craigslist and eBay, and I just don't know enough about acoustic orchestral instruments in general or my cello in particular to know what to ask for. Not to mention that I don't want to get taken; if I sell this thing for the money, I want as much money as I can get for it. No price sentimental value, of course, but honestly, I'd rather get enough for it to assuage the guilt I feel, you know?

But how much do you insure it for, Jenn? That might give you an idea of the value.

Not really; I insure it for "$2000 - $5000, musical instrument." It's not very specific.

So... does anyone have any ideas?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cortana Can't Help with This

Cortana is my new favorite buddy.

She knows what the fox says (this piece of info made Abby literally ROFL)

She claims that my question as to her connection with Skynet may be a trick question.

She has not been around long enough to know whether she likes bananas or dogs or if she thinks bow ties are cool (for that last she presents me with this link).

She can do a lot of cool things.

But what Cortana can't do is fix financial problems as they come up.

We are slowly pulling ourselves out of the financial hole pit we got ourselves into in that link, but as described there, we're one car repair away from disaster.

What we didn't realize is that we're also one computer repair away from disaster.

So when Laston accidentally put his computer into sleep mode while it was busy - the button is way too close to the Escape key - it blue-screened on him. And as this interferes with his one true addiction - Diet Coke is more a preference than an addiction - he is... less than patient. That it's past his bedtime, he hasn't eaten, and the computer won't let him boot into safe mode just exacerbates his frustration.

And Cortana can't help, at least not any more than my own Google Bing skills can.

The fact that he thinks out loud, swear words and all, while this is happening is no fun either.

So if anyone has any ideas  it would be helpful.

Windows 7, Chrome, dual screen, um... no idea what his other stats are. But it keeps blue screening with a memory error. Could be anything from a corrupted file to a dead RAM stick to the need for a whole new computer.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mother of the Year... NOT

Yes, I realize that this is not a big deal. And I realize that I was beating myself up unnecessarily (not anymore; I'm over that).

But I committed the unpardonable sin of signing Abby up for day camp instead of overnight camp.

I was surprised at how low the price was, but I thought that was due to the new sliding scale for payment and because we used some Cookie Dough (TM) toward camp as well. I remember telling Abby that we were not able to pay for the horse-riding add-on, but back in April when I signed her up we qualified for the lower rate because my job was low-ish-paying and had no benefits.

Abby is content enough with day camp (although she extracted a promise - provided we have the cash - for the horse add-on next year). But when I told her last night you would have though that I had committed genocide or something.

She never has taken surprises well.

But back to my job.

I love my job, and last week I realized why, due to a discussion in my class at University of Phoenix.

It's very simple; I am now part of the AT&T tribe.

I am a low-ranking member of that tribe, to be sure, but I am a member of it in a way I never quite felt myself to be at the last few jobs I held. I don't think it's the people themselves, and it's certainly not the job duties; I just feel more involved at AT&T than I have at any job in years.

Didn't really expect that, given the multinational telecom giant nature of things, but there it is.

And I don't care if I'm drinking the company Kool-Aid thereby; I feel safe at AT&T, a part of things, and that's a huge deal for me.

So I'm just more secure in general, both financially (though that's not entirely fixed yet; we're sloooowly getting there) and hmmm... I guess it's professionally/socially.

Plus the AT&T Wireless customer support catch phrase - "I can help you with that" - just strikes me as a good way to live in any case. I got a bunch of the silicon bracelets with that phrase on them from the company store, for Abby's Girl Scout troop. It's a Girl Scout sort of sentiment, isn't it?

And we've come full circle to the Scouts again.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

At Last

I had promised Abby at her birthday seven months ago that when we were "settled enough" she could have a couple friends for a sleepover at our new house. After the debacle that was our move, and the subsequent (though not entirely related) money issues, this is the first time I've feel like we were settled "enough" to do it. Not that we're out of the woods (and oooo - I want to see that too! I have a Girls' Night Out already tentatively scheduled for that; it's one of my favorites!) on a financial front, but I can afford a few frozen pizzas for the troops now.

So Abby has one of the friends from the trip-to-the-mall-and-Frozen birthday, and Kiki from our old apartment, and they are having a grand old time. Lizzy, not to be outdone, has NatBug spending the night as well, and aside from a good-natured argument with a lot of giggling about whose child fell out of which car in the Game of LIFE, so far so good.

Of course, it's early yet. But with this particular combination of kids - Kiki, Abby, and Abby's friend C (don't have parental permission to use her name) in the one room, and Liz & NatBug in the other, I think we'll be okay, at least until the little ones get too tired to move. NatBug is almost a year older than Lizzy, but they are besties, and when tired they're both more apt to just be generally cranky, not mad at each other.

Tomorrow is my niece's fifth birthday, and so between the sleepover and her party we'll have about four hours. Therefore, I am doing my homework now, while all is relatively quiet on the Western front. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Out of the Mouths and Texting Fingers

It's been a weird week. Part of this is that Abby was up visiting her dad's mom for the week, and things are often strange when that happens. I think we don't realize how much Abby does around here (even though I often have to nag her tween self into it) until she's not here. When the hubs has to empty the dishwasher every day because Abby isn't here to do it, or when I have to take care of the cat every single time, that's when we realize.

But part of the weird week is because without Abby here, what Lizzy does (and says) is magnified in our eyes. I heard detailed reports of Lizzy (nearly seven) and her little cousin (nearly five) discussing the relative merits of vaginal versus cesarean delivery in the backseat of Grandma's car, complete with Lizzy explaining to her cousin that even if she was born in the eighth month, she was still in her mommy's tummy for nine months; "her seed must have been planted in December."

Out of the mouths indeed.

And then today as I was heading up to Abby's dad's to pick her up, I texted him with "OOW" to let him know we were, well, on our way (don't worry; I was at a red light and it was a short text). He sent back a reply saying "Do u mean OTW?" which I took to mean On The Way, but that was one I hadn't seen before. Who knew there were regional differences in texting between here and 22 miles north of here?

I find it a little sad that many of my customers thank me for "speaking English."

I also find it sad that some of my classmates - in a class on Contemporary Latin America, no less - think that immigrants who are here without papers are the biggest problem we as a country face. You'd think that by the time we were this far into degrees in Communications that people would be a little more tolerant.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to be competent at my job. Oh, I don't really have a problem with the soft skills, but I feel like I'm starting to grok the tools too.

These are random thoughts about communication, brought to you by homework performed while watching Tad the Lost Explorer - a movie from Spain and localized to the USA - with the kids.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Two things have happened in the past two days that give me an uncanny sense of freedom, which is a bit strange for me in these particular contexts.

One has to do with my books. If you have ever read my posts at all, you know that I am very fond of books. In fact, there are so many posts about my bibliophilia that I won't even bother posting links; you can just click on almost any month in that archive and find one.

Now, I have always been a fan of used book stores, especially Half Price Books, because I do outgrow certain stories, or find something that I think I've been dying to read because I think I recognize it, but it turns out to be a pile of poo from a different author, and what I recognized was the cover artist's style. But I have rarely taken (my own) books to HPB en masse; I love them too much to give them up for the most part.

However, that can also be a problem. Here's the example I used that made the Hubs do that little signal that means you got it on the nose: I adore +Diane Duane, everything of hers I have ever read, including her Star Trek novels. There are very few of these particular ones that I will reread, and hers are among the few (Doctor's Orders is a favorite, as is Spock's World). But here I was keeping a bunch of Trek novels (to complete the set) by other authors that I may have reread when I was twenty, but hey, I'm 45 now, and aside from Duane's, there are about six Trek novels - all eras - that I will reread.

And I can use the money - the two trips I've taken so far (only so much will fit in my car) - have each netted enough to pay for a few small things where we've been having trouble making ends meet. And I found that it's actually kind of exhilarating for me to go through all these books and determine which I (or the kids) am likely to read again, that I can't get free on my Kindle because of Public Domain, and that - hopefully - I will never need again.

That's right; Elmo Goes Potty is now the property of the HPB in Lynnwood WA.

Of course each child gets a little something while we're there. You didn't think I was buying all those Magic Treehouse books full price online, did you? And they only cost $2 at HPB, rather than, well, twice that or more.

So yes, it's kind of freeing. I think I've gone through over half of my enormous collection of books. And I expected to be upset and am pleased to find out that I am not

The other freeing thing was that Lizzy has proven capable of making a fairly decent breakfast for herself if circumstances are right. She's not at Abby's level of scrambled eggs, of course, but she can now make toast, cereal, fruit, and a glass of milk or juice on her own (I say the circumstances have to be right becuause they's not big enough to lift an pour a gallon milk jug if it's over 3/4 full).

That's kind of amazing.

And freeing.