Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's official.

As of a couple of hours ago, I am a nonsmoker. I have been a not-a-nonsmoker exactly half my life, with breaks for bearing, birthing, and nursing my girls.

I've known I ~needed~ to quit since the day I started. I just never really wanted to.

Well, I did, but I didn't. I wanted to quit for my health and to live long enough to be a burden to J and inhale less money, especially in recent years, but, well... The fact is I ~liked~ it.

I liked that it forced me to take a few minutes for myself.

I liked that, especially in these smoker-unfriendly days, it gave me an instant bond when I was in a group of strangers (at work, at conferences, etc) because we already had something in common, and as a collective group were persecuted for it.

I liked that it gave me an outlet for stress. Does a cigarette reduce stress levels? No, if anything it probably makes it worse, elevating the blood pressure and decreasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. But it gave me a minute to take time out and (not) breathe and relax and think and just, well, time.

Time I would otherwise not take for myself. The flipside of that, since I have gone to ridiculous lengths to ensure J did not know her mama sucked cancer sticks, is that I also used to make time to smoke. I didn't smoke anywhere near my house for a long time. Instead I would loop the neighborhood a few times on the way home from the grocery store til I'd finished. Or drive to a store twice as far away so I'd have time to smoke.

No more.

Did I quit for my health? Sure.

Did I quit to save money? Sure.

But mostly I quit because I had to.

See, I was a particular smoker. With the exception of the occasional deviation in emergencies when I couldn't find what I wanted, I smoked cloves exclusively, and a particular variety at that. --->

And I am old and set in my ways and I know what I want/like. And if I can't have what I like, I just won't do it.

And Uncle Sam says I can't have what I like. Someone decided that cloves were too much like the flavored cigs that Camel tried to make a few years ago (read that as Gateway Cigarettes-like other 'gateway' drugs) and they were no longer available for sale as of 9/22/09. I found out about the impending doom upcoming legal change on 9/13 and on the 14th went and bought as many as I could find within reason (7 packs). And smoked the last 4 cigarettes of the last pack today.

I am ~glad~ for the ban for the simple reason that it is forcing me to do something I've known I needed to do, but didn't want bad enough to do for myself.

That said... I'm still fomenting my rant about this because it's a stupid logic. If I start following this path I'll rant early and I want to save it for Tuesday, it's been too long.

Net result: Government being stoopid=good for Dy's lungs. Umm... yay?

(this post is both informational and a warning. In case I get all classic quit-smoking-nic-fit-bitchy, well, this is your warning and probably the only one you're going to get.)

PS - Anyone wanna give me odds on how long it takes RaidMan to notice I've quit? lol...

More Yarn Crazy plus NaNo Crazy Commences (sorta)

Because it's not like NaNo is coming up and I'll already be crazy... I've decided to do this. It looked like fun & will give me a chance to play with some yarns I wouldn't normally buy.

Now if I could just decide if I ~like~ my NaNo idea or not. I'm a bit tepid about it, and afraid that doesn't bode well. The Austin ML is putting together some plotting and planning events in October. I may go to one of those and see if it helps this plan gel or if I need to scrap it and start again. I have 31 days to come up with a plot after all...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sometimes Someone Else Says It Better

My mood today:

Don't ask me why, the day started out nicely, but sometimes this is just how it is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can't Rant

I was gonna rant but... (a) I want to do a little research on my topic and (b) I have a shiny new blog background and am finding it hard to be properly rant-ish.

Have no fear though, I am naturally inclined to snark and ranting, so I'm sure there will be some soon!

PS - I also took part in my first "Teaser Tuesday" over on my book blog, if you wanna check it out.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Neverending Calendar Review Post

Google Calendar

I heart you, G-cal, I really do, but, like my first high school boyfriend, you just can't give me what I need. I am, however, happy to report that at least you do not cry every time I try to break up with you like the afore-mentioned boyfriend. While it took me over 18 months (and the threat of a restraining order) to get rid of him, your sync uninstalled in mere moments!

See below, under Thunderbird + Lightning, for all the gory details.

Lotus Notes

I've used this at a couple of workplaces and it's OK. The mail features are decent, but the calendar kind of blows. Even if you decide you really really really like it, it's pretty much impossible to get a copy for home use.

Home users are NOT IBM/Lotus' target market. I know, I looked. It was a brief but torrid affair, and there was really only one reason for it.

Flexibility in changing repeating events. I like being able to change a repeating event (like, oh, "Mom: Work --am to --pm" that comes up M-F) without having to create a new event.

Case in point: In April of this year my hours were cut. This meant I got to leave work 30min earlier every day. In Outlook, in order to accurately reflect my old schedule in past events (because I'm nitpicky about things like that) AND show my new one, I had to create an end date for the old series and create a new series to reflect my new schedule.

In Notes I could make the changes starting with the effective date and tell it to adjust "This and all future occurrences." One step. I know, I know, it's stupid, but I am that lazy particular.

Okay, so this is really the only thing I like about Notes Calendar.

There's no good way to color code; you can only do it by event TYPE i.e. Reminders/Meetings/Appointments. For people not interconnected to a bunch of other people also using Notes those last two are the same thing.

It takes for-ever to load. Like longer than Outlook. Yea, really, THAT long.

Thunderbird with Lightning Add-On

(I wrote this one WHILE I was experimenting over the past days, so the tone & frustration levels are all over the map.)

I admit it. I haven't used Thunderbird since my Outlook Switch to make my phone work in May 08. I, dedicated blogger that I am, downloaded it and attached my gmail (the email I am least attached to, lol) and the Lightning plugin since Sunbird has apparently, largely, gone the way of the dodo from what I read on the Mozilla Messaging press release from last year.

Looks alright so far. I exported all my Gcals. I haven't deleted them yet...Now that I'm looking at TBird w/ Lightning I want to play with it a little before I go all Outlook. Import was easy, even let me import a calendar shared with me by someone else with no problems.

I'm off to explore the syncing options and will have to re-write when I'm done playing with it. I'd hoped to get this up in a day or two after the other calendar post, but now that I'm actually doing the research... Yea.

I hope you appreciate this Justin & Crystal. You two open source junkies are the main reason I decided to give TBird another try--so no one would accuse me of not looking at the OS option ;-) The things I do for my friends!

Well shit. Apparently Sunbird is still kicking cuz Google supports some kind of sync to it that used a lot of jargon I'm too tired to track to explain it (dunno when I'll post this, but it's 11pm on a Thursday night when I'm writing it, lol).


Okay, so if I'm reading this right--understand I applaud open source, I don't actually comprehend it a lot of the time (despite working with it daily, lol)--I can subscribe to my multiple Google calendars using Thunderbird/Lightning and they will sync up on their own. This solves half my problem. That is, the whole local computer calendar not syncing to ALL Gcals (one for me, one for my freelance stuff, one for the kid, one for the hubs, one to keep track of bdays & anniversaries, etc) since Google's sync protocol for Outlook only supports syncing the main calendar.

Now... Google also only syncs the main calendar to my phone, as I recall. So how can I get the Gcals (all of them!) on my phone and in my local Tbird?

More mozilla forums in my future. Yay fun. Not.

Now up to 3 add ons & another util:
  • Lightning add on
  • Provider for Google Calendar
  • Google Contact Sync
  • and Nueva Sync to get it all on my phone

Many more wasted hours later...

Thunderbird won't DL the main calendar properly & every time it does it doubles up entries in Google. Half my cals won't sync w/ Tbird, the other half create duplicate events, and none of it was easy. I can't speak to how the air-sync works because, well, I've kept my phone out of this so far & it is fine---I want it to stay that way.

Google --- let people color code & build a sync for TBird that carries the color-coding over & you'll have me. Til then, it's back to the ole Outlook.


Looked at the page and decided to skip since it is basically a bigger standalone version of the Lightning add-on I already grabbed. And I do want my cal and email in one place. I'm a picky bitch like that.

Having said that, apparently Google does have a special process to sync with Sunbird, but I'm too annoyed with the whole damn thing to care at this point.

Microsoft Outlook

It's possible I keep coming back to this because it was my first mail client, and you know how they say you never forget your first...

More importantly, this works with my phone. Knowing what I know now I'm not sure I would by a Windows Mobile Smartphone again, but it's what I've got and it's paid for... Live 'n learn, ya know.

After all my adventures in Google and open source the last couple of days, I realized the only thing I like with Google that I can't get with Outlook is over-the-air synchronization. I'd love to ditch the cable, and am working on a tentative (and blessedly simple!) solution for that. Sure, Outlook is a monster processor hog, but it's a hog that does the job I need done and, after the initial set up and expense, which I already went through a year+ ago, it's pretty idiot proof. The last few days have left me feeling like an idiot, so idiot-proof is looking pretty darn good.

PS - While dissing the calendar, Google, I totally wrote this post over the course of 4 days and 3 computers, courtesy of the awesomeness that is Google docs :-D Thanks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Calendar Redux

Well, it's been a week since I wiped out all my calendars, my life... Or so I thought.

Turns out that the old computer DID still have something to offer---my calendar through February of this year. It also had preprog'd recurring events, like birthdays and anniversaries, that shortened by re-entry curve a bit.

Then the funniest thing happened. Scrolling through my Outlook calendar on the new computer, forlornly looking at the empty spaces, I saw... STUFF. I searched (well, okay, I'm lazy, I let Windows search) all over that hard drive, the secondary partition, AND the external drive and couldn't find any of those damned *.pst files. But somehow (black magic?) there were still events on my calendar.

I manually entered a few of them into the great Google and started recreating my schedule, the girl's schedule (far more crowded than mine, lol) and the litany of important days to remember.

Then I synced to my phone--woo hoo! I knew where I was again.

I just didn't know where anyone else was.

This sent me scrambling back to web to look up the sync deets again. Re-reading the info, I came close to tears. The only way to color code (currently, though based on my peek at the forum people have been begging big G to add this feature for a looong time) G-cal events is to put them on separate calendars.

Google only knows how to sync ONE calendar though, a girl's main events calendar. Read that as my schedule, since, as we all know (& contrary to what my daughter thinks), it really is all about me. Not so awesome. AND this rule applies to syncing with Outlook, too.

That tore it. I HAD to move back.

I need all my stuff to show up in one place, with one sync event, and color-coded on my monitor for ease of scheduling, period.

After a week of painstakingly entering events in six different Google calendars I exported them all back to Outlook and will be spending my free time for the rest of the week fixing the color-coding. Yay.

Coming Tomorrow: Calendar Comparisons featuring Outlook, Google Calendar, Sunbird/Thunderbird, and Lotus Notes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday Tirade: Lower Price is Not Necessarily a Good Thing

This has been bugging me for a while, and I was thinking I need to post more often...

For a number of health reasons I've been trying to incorporate more natural and high fiber products/complex carbs into my family's diet.

After trying about a jillion (or so it felt) different kinds of bread---and being shocked at the tiny amount of fiber in most whole wheat breads---I found one at HEB my family liked and that I, the occasional and totally random nutrition Nazi, approved. HEB's Glycemic Health bread--a healthy wheat bread with a whopping 2.5g of fiber PER SLICE.

It even, unlike many of the more expensive wheat breads, came in a sandwich-style option. You know, the really square bread with the thinner crusts. Since the girl has taken to pulling the crusts off her sandwiches and throwing them away, thin crust means more of her lunch makes its way into her face.

Lately I haven't been able to find my bread at all. I was upset, and finally decided a couple weeks I was going to stop by the store when I had a few minutes and ask the manager about it. Just to make sure I didn't look like an idiot, I went to check the bread aisle first. And found what I was looking for... sort of:

It had the same name, but a few key differences. It was, indeed, cheaper than the $2.38 I was paying before my bread went away for a revamp. It was also roughly 2/3 the size. The OLD sandwich loaf was 24oz and more slices since it was thinner cut. This little gem is 16oz and has fewer slices because it is no longer a sandwich-style loaf. It's also got the thick crust my kid won't touch with a ten-foot cafeteria spork.

A little math reveals that:

A) It is now more expensive per ounce, the package just has fewer ounces:
$1.59 / 16oz = 9.94 cents per ounce
$2.38 / 24oz= 9.92 cents per ounce

B) The idiot person who created their new shelf tags either lied on purpose or was dyslexic*, because there is no way that I can find that makes a 16oz loaf of bread that costs $1.59 work out to 6.63 cents per ounce. This math does work IF you keep the price and base it off the older, 24oz loaf size.

*I can totally say this --- my baby bro, the AwesomePenguin, is dyslexic, so I am not just making crap up here. It COULD happen.

I know, I know, it's just bread.

And I've watched in horror as coffee sellers have done the same thing for years now.

A coffee can from 1970 is the same size as the one I can buy today---but mine will have 3-5 fewer ounces in it than the one from when I was a kid.

This does not mean it is right. It also means I have to buy TWO loaves of bread for the week.

$3.18 vs $2.38

Somebody at HEB wanna step up and tell me just how that works out to a new lower price?

Yea, I didn't think so.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Someone Lost Her "Life" Last Night

Wednesday I got the genius idea to sync my Google calendar, which I haven't really used since I went back to Outlook in May of 08 (because my stoopid smartphone wouldn't sync to my puter without it at the time), with said Outlook so I could keep track of everything. I synced my phone, first, as a test. Worked like a charm, woot!

Got home and, because the phone experiment went so well, synced it in a 2-way sync with my Outlook. Fine, sorta... Except for the bajillion duplicate listings on the Google cal that were defaulting to my old primary calendar on Google---which was used for business deadlines and color-coded accordingly.

I started sorting them today and got impatient with how long it was taking. I thought hey, Google has it all. I'll 1-way sync to the puter then clear out Google so I can change my primary calendar, then 1-way sync it back from puter to big G. A sound plan, right?

Yea, I've blocked out the deets, but basically I managed to wipe both calendars.

But I hadn't synced my phone since yesterday, so I still had a lot of stuff there, at least since May 08. I'd just sync the phone BACK to Google to restore it and give up on the Outlook calendar since it's too hard to share... Yea, not so much.

The sync wiped my phone calendar, too.

Now I have no past for, oh, the last five years or so of my life...

No big, theoretically... Have to reprogram birthdays and J's funky school schedule, a PITA but not the end of the world, right?

Not for me. I measure time by events rather than the calendar itself. Without a record of those events I lose time. Essentially I lose memories. Pre-electronic calendars I kept paper datebooks, and I have these in the house going back to high school. (Should I mention my 20th reunion is coming up soon?)

I flip through those things and remember little precious moments I would otherwise forget:
  • The first time we left J's older sister with a sitter.
  • The day of J's first day of Kinder.
  • The anniversary of joining my mom's group--where I've made the best, and first, real friends of my adult life...
It could get to be a ridiculously long list if I let it. All gone.

The only reason I haven't torn out my (rapidly greying) hair yet is that I am slow to move forward. Meaning that I haven't gotten around to wiping the hard disk of the old laptop I replaced in February of this year. Meaning that the Outlook on that one still has most of the last five years of personal & professional milestones.

Google is wiped clean, and since I took tomorrow off I can spend the day syncing Google to the old laptop and fill in the blanks from there.

And Outlook's calendar function can friggin' bite me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Know It's Free, but...

Today's rant topic was up in the air til I got a paperback swap request that inspired me.

Here's the deal: Paperback Swap let's you list your unwanted books. If someone wants it, you mail it to them, paying the postage yourself, and you get a credit to use to order a book you may want from someone else. So, for the cost of postage at (usually) media mail rates--guaranteed to be cheaper than all but the most baseline clearance books at Half Price--you get a book you want to read without paying $5.99+ for it. Pretty sweet, right?

Not sweet enough for some people. I am, frankly, thoroughly tired of people who want me to send them something for free but have a laundry list of conditions the item must meet. Things I've seen people bring up in PB Swap conditions include:

  • "I don't accept hardback books without dustjackets." Really? That's too bad---you are very unlikely to ever get to read a book you want from my collection. Dust jackets annoy the crap out of me and 9 out of 10 of them that enter this house on a book I own get recycled. I'm interested in that's between the covers, not what's decorating them.
  • I am not willing to accept books that have been withdrawen from libraries" Pet peeve #1 - Do Not Look a Free Book in the Dustjacket and spit on it! #2 - everyone you request a book from will receive a copy of your conditions---take the time to spell your ridiculous demands properly people! #3 - If it's good enough for the library, why isn't it good enough for you? I ~never~ order anything from paperback swap with the thought of adding it to my permanent collection in mind. Why not? Because I never know what I'm gonna get. If I get something I want to add and it happens to be in good shape, yay me! If it's not, I'll read it and pass it on and pay for a permanent collection copy.
  • "Books with a strong moldy smell." Yea, cuz I post those a lot. If you have legitimate allergen issues (I always warn people who mention allergy issues that I have had cats near my books in case it is a problem) that's one thing, but statements like the above are just being b1tchy. Even more so since all of these gems came from a SINGLE person.
And I'm sure it will not come as a surprise to anyone that I rarely mail books to people like this. I've learned the hard way that demanding types like the one described above are almost never happy with what they receive (again, for FREE) and I've had one go so far as to deny credit for the book received.

Play nice with the rest of us, people, or take your unwanted books and go somewhere else! I'm sick of you, you paperback primadonnas!

Yes, I am probably overreacting, but I'm crabby and this person's poorly spelled laundry list of book issues just lit my fuse.