It’s Deja Vu All Over Again*

Note:  This is a post from several months ago which I somehow saved to draft and thought I’d lost.  It’s still relevant to our current situation, so I thought I’d go ahead and post it.

Saw this, watched it, and it sounded strangely familiar . . .

She left out the bit about why the rats are such a big deal.  The rats are the reservoir for the plague, the fleas (which she doesn’t mention) that bite the rats and then bite people are the plague vectors, i.e., the way plague gets from rats to humans.  But otherwise, she’s got her facts straight.

She did not made this up. This is not fake news.   It is historical fact.  It actually happened.  This is why bubonic plague is now endemic in certain species of rodents native to the American southwest.  This is the reason why doctors who practice all over the western United States are still treating anywhere from 11 to 100 people for bubonic plague each year.

I wish Doughty’s tale of greed, graft, and corruption was an isolated incident, but guess what?  We must be on about the fifth or sixth verse of this same old song by now.

Like the man says:

Masks prevent COVID19,
but only if you wear them and wear them correctly.

*I stole the quote from baseball's inimitable Yogi Bera. I wish I was using it to be funny, but tragically, it's all too true.

Sneaking Up On March

A day and a bit left on February, such as it is.  For such a short month, it has packed a whallop this year.  Brought Texas to its knees.   The one part of the grid that that held firm and that did not go down was the part up in my neck of the flatlands.  Oddly enough, it was the part that was not under ERCOT.  It was the part that was required to meet federal standards because the company that built it supplied power to other states besides Texas.  We’ll see if the powers that be got the message this time.  Not holding my breath, though.  My bet is that those ^&*%$#s in office will continue to listen to the money, rather than the people.

I confess to feeling guilty.  The storm hit on the 14th, a Sunday.  My power was off for about 15 minutes on Tuesday the 16th. My pipes never froze. (All the pipes are in the middle of the duplex between the two “plexes.”)   My BFF, who lives in a little town northwest of Houston, was without power for over a week, was without water for over a week and will likely be without hot water for quite a while.   My state is supposed to be a Red state.  But I have a feeling that the longer this debacle goes on, the bluer it’s getting.  I figure we’re starting to turn a bit maroon by now.

In the Knitting news, I’m moving right along on my infinity scarf.  At the top is 18 inches, and still on the first skein (the ball in the bowl).  In the middle is that little bit in the bowl left of the first skein and over 20 inches.  At the bottom, today, is 27 inches and into the second skein.  I have six skeins of the yarn.  I think I’ll have enough.

I started it back in November of 2020, and I work on it a couple of rows at a time.  I have it sitting on my computer desk for working on while I’m catching up on my YouTube channels or when I’m reading back over what I just wrote or cogitating what comes next on a story.  One of these days, I need to get some scrap yarn and wrap it around me in the way the Infinity Wrap is supposed to wrap (see at right) , and then measure it, so I’ll know when to stop (My tape measure only goes to 60 inches; I’m thinking I’ll need about 100 inches).  Then I’m going to have to haul off and (re)learn how to Kitchener.

Monday is my last day of cardiac rehab.  Depending on the weather, I may be tackling the back yard next week.  It needs raking and the rakings bagged and put in the dumpster.  The last time I did it, I got fourteen big trash bags worth.  Don’t think I’ll get that many this time, though   I don’t know if I want to tackle the front garden bed or not.  It needs forking and weeding, and something extremely low maintenance planted in it.  Don’t know if I’m that energetic. I might investigate getting a piece of cattle panel or something to use as a trellis for those durn climbing roses.  They’re the kind that bloom all summer.  Don’t know if I want to fool with it, though.  It would set a precedent I’m not sure I want to set.

Maybe when the weather gets springier, I’ll start walking.  I have cordless headphones and my iPhone, and music I’ve downloaded off Napster.  Could be nice.   We’ll see.

My BFF thought her cataracts were so bad that she went to a doc to investigate surgery.  Turns out her cataracts weren’t bad at all.  She just needed new glasses.  Now that she has new glasses and can see to read again, I’m putting together a care package of paperbacks I’ve replaced with hardbacks and culls to send to her.  A little care package.

Not Off To A Good Start

Yesterday, a small minority of delusional/irrational/irresponsible idiots acted out in my nation’s capital and embarrassed and dishonored this country that I and other members of my family have proudly served.  They also brought dishonor on the flag of my native state in the process.  I neither support nor condone their actions and consider their behavior  beneath contempt.  That’s all I’ll say on the matter.

I made Julekuler again this year, the little knitted Xmas balls.  I pulled the pattern graphs up on one monitor and used a sticky note to keep my place, so I could catch up on some of the channels I follow on YouTube on the other monitor.   By the way, if you’re into colorwork and want to take a bash at these little Xmas balls, you can download the pattern and charts for free here.   Arne & Carlos have also put out a whole book of patterns for bigger Julekuler.

Santa visited my house this year and got me a new lo-o-o-ng toaster.  I kept the short one, though, for when I want to toast square slices of bread to make sandwiches. (I never toast more than two slices, and toasting them in the long toaster is overkill and not energy efficient.)  I have mounted a small plug strip with its own fuse to the underside of my cabinet to accommodate all these electrical appliances.  The plug strip is the only thing plugged into that outlet.  The microwave is plugged into a different outlet on the adjacent wall. I guess I’m going to have to get more of that avocado green cotton yarn and knit a cover for the long toaster now.

Saw this.  It was spot on.

I had so much fun earlier in the week.  At about 6:30 Sunday evening, I ran some hot water at the sink to thaw out the sweet/sour sauce for my spring rolls and there was no hot water!  I checked the water heater and the little light that’s supposed to be on and blinking when the pilot light is lit, wasn’t.  Sunday night, woke up in the middle of the night, reached for the light switch on my bedside light.  No light.   Fortunately, I keep a little flashlight in my night table drawer just in case.  I checked the ceiling fixture and my outage was in the bulb and not in the electricity. Did what I had woken up to do, then pitter-patted barefoot to the utility room to get another light bulb. The plumber was able to work me in Monday morning and came to look over the water heater and relight the pilot light on it. There seemed to be no overt reason the pilot light went out and the water heater wasn’t that old (2016).  By then, I was running late for rehab.  Went to brush my teeth and my electric toothbrush wouldn’t work.  Changed the batteries, and it still wouldn’t work.  Had to brush my teeth manually. (!)    After I got back from rehab, I futzed with my toothbrush and finally got it to work.  Must have been a gremlin loose in the house.  It seems to have moved on, thankfully.  I think I know where it went.

This is why knitters should always keep a crochet hook handy even if they don’t crochet.  (You can click on the pix to enlarge it.) Instead of frogging the whole shebang back about three inches just to fix one stitch, I dropped that stitch off the needle, frogged it back to the mistake, and used the crochet hook to pick it back up again.

That’s the infinity wrap I’m working on. It’s also a case in point for the value of pausing every so often to check over your work so you can catch a mistake sooner than I caught that one.

I’ve knitted 18 inches’ worth and still haven’t used up the first ball of yarn yet.  Once I do, I’ll know for sure if I’m going to have to get another skein of yarn, but I don’t think I will.  I’ve already got six skeins total, which should be enough.  Yarn chicken on a grand scale.  It’s long enough now I’ve had to roll the bottom up and pin it with a large stitch holder to keep it from flopping all over my lap.

Weatherwise, we’re looking down the barrel of  a winter storm.That’s snow in the forecast for Sunday, and lows in the teens through Tuesday.  The humidity is supposed to be 91%, but not in my house it isn’t.  Not with my heater coming on every 20 minutes.  When I go to get up from my computer desk, if I don’t remember to take my ear buds out before I take the lap robe off my lap, I get some DIY electroshock treatments from the static electricity.  Gets your attention, I can tell you.

I only read 142 books last year, and only one so far this year.  I need to get on the ball.

I’ll leave you with this:

It Fooled Around And Got Cold On Us

We had a high of 92 F (33.3 c)(!) on the 17th, a high of 88 F (31.1 C) on the 22nd, a high of 61 F (16.1 C) yesterday and, ya’ll, our high today was 28 Fricking degrees! (-2.2 C!) Our lowest low since summer was Saturday night, which was right at freezing — until today.  A while  ago, my arms were feeling cold and when I looked over at the clock by my computer desk (one of those fancy day, date, time and temp jobs), it read 66 F degrees! (18.8 C)  To be fair, all I was wearing was this long-sleeved, ankle-length flannel “leisure dress” and a lap robe, but I have since added a flannel vest and a pair of half-handers.

I’d put my little twin size  fleece blanket on top of my bedspread, and had been using it on and off for a couple of weeks now because nights had been getting down into the 40’s F (4+ C) occasionally, but I only actually switched the HVAC unit over from AC to heat yesterday because I knew it was going to be downright cold today.  (I surfaced briefly from sleep at about 3 a.m. last night, heard the whoomph of the gas jet that presages the heater actually coming on, which was followed shortly thereafter by first-use heater stink as the gas jet burns off all the dust that’s collected on it over the summer.)  Now I’ve got socks on and my baffies on over them.   And not to put too fine a point on it, our current humidity is a whopping 97% (yearly average here is around 44.5%), which is probably why it feels colder than the proverbial wedge.

I suppose I shouldn’t whinge about the weather.  Winter storm Billy is dumping feet of snow all over the Rockies (as bone dry as it’s been this year, they’re probably breaking out the champagne!).  Still, the weatherbeans say the flatlands could get 2-4 inches of snow out of the current meteorological shenanigans.  A hurricane named Zeta (which means we’ve officially gone through the hurricane alphabet twice! this year), and a winter storm named Billy are happening at the same time, and there are still people who say climate change is not a real thing.  Of course, there are still people who insist the Earth is flat.

Because  of COVID19 and the government mandated social distancing policy, the VA changed the format of its annual walk-in flu shot clinic to a “drive-by” clinic, which was held Thursday week ago. (Only in America. . .)  It was from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.  I got there at quarter after 3, and there was already a line of cars.  I tried to find the end of the line, only to discover that it went up the street, around the corner, up another street, around another corner and up another street for least three intersections!  That was when I said, to heck with it, gave up and went to Market Street to get one.

Market Street is not your grandma’s grocery store.  We’re talking one-stop-shop here:  They have an in-store pharmacy, an in-store bakery, an in-store cafeteria,  an in-store sushi-teria, and an in-store Starbucks.  You can cash checks, pay your utility bills, get your car registration sticker, buy gas and vote there — and they deliver!  The pharmacists give flu shots, and they accept most forms of medical insurance including Medicare.

Upon inquiring at the pharmacy, however, I was informed that they were all out of the plain-vanilla  3-valent regular-strength flu vaccine, which is the kind I usually get.  All they had was the heavy duty 4-valent industrial strength vaccine.  I decided to go for it.  (At this stage of the game, I’ll take all the immunity I can get.)  The little pharmacy clerk warbles, “There will be an approximately 25-minute wait while we process the paperwork.  If you’ll give us your cell number, we’ll call you.”  Well, I hadn’t yet done my grocery shopping for the month, and since I was already there . . . .  So yrs trly gave her my cell phone number, fished my cell phone out of my purse, dredged up the matching ear buds, connected same, put the cellphone in my pocket, the earbuds in my ears, grabbed a freshly-sanitized-for-my-protection shopping cart, and headed off into the store.  (I might add in passing, that was the last significant Samsung Galaxy event.) Five bags of groceries and an armful of flu vaccine later, I was on my way home again, home again, jiggity jig.

The new case for the iPhone came the next day and I ported my number to the new phone. I have been iphoning for over a week now, and have since discovered yet another moue-provoking feature of the iPhone.  It uses the same jack for both the charge cord and the earbuds, so I can’t listen to music with the iPhone on charger so as not to run the battery down like I did on the Galaxy.  Unless I buy a wirele$$ charger, that is.  Sigh!


Cold Snaps and Heads Up

This is such an evocative video for all the things this strange year has lacked — friends, food, music and convivial fun — especially this summer.  It’s a catchy tune, too.

We’re currently having a cold snap — a wet towel pop on bare skin kind of snap, that is.  It went from the 90’s F (30’s C) to the 40’s F(4-6 C)  in a 24-hour period and for the next 24 hours never climbed out of the 40’s F.  We’re in luck today, as the predicted high is 57 F (13.8 C).   After a predicted high of 77 F (25 C) tomorrow, our highs will be in the 80’s (26+ C) for the next 9 days.   I have resolutely refrained from turning on the heat despite the fact that it’s noon and 70 F (21.1 C) at my desk, which is consistently the warmest spot in the house.  I just put on more clothes (and got a twin size snuggle rug out of the chest and put it on the bed).

My sleep cycle is out of sync again — what a surprise (not).  I was drowsy and threatening to go to sleep in the chair, so I went to bed at 5 p.m. and, not surprisingly, woke up at 3 a.m. to discover it was 68 F (20 C) on the hall thermostat.  I did the most intelligent thing I could do.  I went back to bed and covered up.

Time was, I could play various android games on my Kindle Fire 10 while listening to internet radio on a streaming app, a most enjoyable pastime.   Alas, no more.  As of about three weeks ago, the games suddenly decided to promptly kick the stream off line the minute I try to play them.  Repeatedly and stubbornly.  I am nigh unto a state of screaming rant trying to find a fix — an hour on the phone with Amazon’s help person, hours more fiddling with the tablet to try to hit on the right setting.  I emailed the streaming app people and the various games people and told them which, what, when, and screenshots — and expressed my excessive displeasure at whatever they did to break up what was once a happy pairing.  Did it help? Nope.

I’m so disgusted with the whole shooting match that I’m about two inches from uninstalling the games, which is a shame, because they’re nice games, but listening to my music while I play makes them so much nicer.  That’s one more pleasure the world has stolen from me, and I vascillate between disgruntled and irate.  Having to give a miss to this opportunity to snuggle up beneath covers and play games has not improved my mood.  I realize that I should be grateful that I’m not burnt to the ground, hurricaned into sopping pieces, or COVIDed into an early grave, but that doesn’t stop me from my God-given right to feel like a thwarted two-year-old named Karen.

Now that I’ve established my mental state when I got up out of a warm bed into  a cold 7 o’clock this morning to get dressed and dutifully trundle off to that epidemiologist’s Valhalla  that is the VA clinic for my yearly labs . . .  It’s cold, I’m in so many risk groups it’s not funny, I get past the Spanish Inquisition at the front door, go up to the desk to check in, only to discover my appointment was cancelled and nobody bothered to tell me.  I came home chilled and even crankier than when I left.  I actually made a pot of hot TAZO chai tea in my stainless steel 32 oz water bottle when I got home.  I’m thinking I may need to get up here directly and zot some soup in the microwave — and a melted cheese sandwich on toast also sounds appealing.

This bout of unseasonable frigidity would be the perfect time to murder some of the acrylic yarn shawls I need to block .  A thorough death by steam iron would warm up the house.  Of course, I’m not in the mood to.   Or else boil up a box of rotini to make a chicken and pasta salad would also take some of the chill off, but I’m not in the mood to do that either.  MOOMPH!

Here We Go Round The Postal Service

There is a supplement called NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) which I take for asthma as well as some issues arising from being “on the spectrum.”  I used to buy it locally, but the only store here where you can buy it only sold one brand of it, and that manufacturer switched from a gelatin capsule to some sort of “vegetable capsule” without bothering to tell anybody about it.  Turns out whatever vegetable that is, I’m allergic to it and it makes me itch like crazy.  Amazon, however, carries another brand in a gelatin capsule and I have been ordering it through them for almost two years now.  I get a price break by ordering it in a 3-pack of 100-capsule bottles from this one seller, which lasts me about two and a half months.

Unlike other supplements, though, it is inadvisable to just start taking NAC at full dose, or abruptly stop taking it completely.  You have to gradually increase or decrease the dose over at least a two week period.  Because of this, when I open that third bottle, I order more, since that seller offers free shipping, but not the two-day shipping of Amazon Prime, and it can take up to two weeks for me to get them.

So, I placed an order on July 12th, expecting to get my order within two weeks.  After two weeks had come and gone with nothing to show for it, I went to Amazon and tracked my package.  Their tracking showed it had gotten to my town on the 22nd.

Since it was now the 28th and I hadn’t yet seen hide nor hair of my package, I called my local version of the USPS* and gave them the tracking number.  Apparently, in order to get to my city, USPS mail hitches a ride on UPS*’s planes.  UPS had delivered the shipment of mail my package was supposed to have been in (or at least the one they told Amazon it was in), but according to the Post Office, when they processed the individual pieces of mail from that shipment, my package wasn’t one of them.  Since the tracking number was a USPS number, UPS could not be expected to know where my package actually was, even though they told Amazon it was in Tx, because they had schlepped it there on their plane.   So now what?

I went to the USPS website.  Their phone is answered by a computer and none of the options it offered me included speaking with a live person.  I opted to drop back 5 yards and punt, which is to say, I filled out their little email complaint form.  Fortunately, I was able to  cut and paste the whole nine yards of the tracking number into the email.  After adding a verse and chorus of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My NAC Gone,” I clicked “Send”

A quick consultation of Google revealed Wal-Mart also carried that same brand, but it wasn’t sold in stores locally, would take two (more) weeks to get to me from where ever it shipped from, and there was no way I could seem to get an expedited shipping option on just one bottle of it.  CVS carried it, but not locally, and the brands they carried didn’t come in the right dosage.  No joy with Walgreen’s either. I found another vendor on Amazon that offered the same brand and had Amazon Prime shipping, which meant I could get it as soon as last Friday, but definitely by Sunday, so I ordered a bottle from them to tide me over until payday, when I can get two more.

No package on Friday.  Sunday came and went,  and all I got was an email from Amazon saying “USPS wasn’t able to complete your delivery and needs addition information to try again.”  *&%^$#<@!!

So, bright and early this morning, I boot up the ‘puter, and while I’m spending an hour and a half trying to get somebody to answer the phone at various locations of my local version of the USPS, I get an email from same, stating:  “This message is to let you know that we have received your inquiry at the Fort Worth C&IC Office. Your service request will be redirected to the delivery unit to review, investigate and provide a resolution.”  Well, yeehaw.

Finally, I got somebody at the USPS to answer the durn phone already.  I told the nice lady my tale of woe, and (just for grins) read her the 22(!)-digit tracking number of the first package, which was still MIA. She proceeds to tell me it has arrived on the August 2 shipment from UPS and is out for delivery! So then I read her the 22-digit tracking number of the second, package, and apparently it’s out for delivery, too.  So I thank the nice lady, hang up, mutter various and sundry general-purpose imprecations and go make myself a cheese sandwich**.

One cheese sandwich and a couple of YouTube videos later, it’s sneaking up on 11 o’clock when someone plongeth on the doorbell.  I go to the door.  There is nobody there, but — mirabile dictu! — lying on the doormat are two packages!  So now I have four bottles of NAC, which is just as fine as frog hairs with me.

Along with the email from the USPS, I also got an email from my local utilities company stating my electric bill for July has dropped and I can view it on their website.  However, since I know it’s going to be higher than giraffe’s ears and I have a whopping $8.58 in my bank account to last me until payday, you know what?    Sufficient unto the Monday is the evil thereof, y’all.

*United States Postal Service is a department of the U.S. government, AKA "The Post Office."   UPS is United Parcel Service, a privately-owned global shipping company.

**2 slices of Sargento Sharp Cheddar Cheese placed between two pieces of toast, put on a plate and zotted in the microwave for 23 seconds to gently melt the cheese. (20 seconds softens the cheese but doesn't actually melt any of it, 25 seconds melts it too much and makes it run out onto the plate.)

Oh, Noes!

The day before my birthday, we had a power glitch, my desktop computer went off despite the surge protector/battery backup and then refused to boot back up.  According to my friendly neighborhood computer guru, it’s either the power supply, or the mother board.   He has ordered a new power supply which won’t be here until next weekend.  If that doesn’t fix it, I will have to buy another desktop computer and he will either transplant my hard drives into it or clone them. Oh, the weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth!

In the meantime, I am reduced to attempting to deal with the internet using the equivalent of flint knives and bear skins* (a Kindle Fire 10-inch tablet and this jicky little Fintie Bluetooth keyboard). For someone who has been a touch typist of respectable speed since 10th grade,  going from my Logitech Gamer Keyboard to typing on that little Cracker Jack prize of a keyboard is like trading in your Mercedes Benz for a skateboard..

All my creative writing, including the story I desperately want to work on, is on that hard drive that I cannot get to.  All my knitting patterns (except those I have print copies of or have posted on my knitting blog) are on that hard drive.  All the blogs and webcomics I follow are all neatly accessed on the feed reader on that hard drive.  I do all my bill paying over the internet, and all the user names and passwords to get onto those bill-paying sites are on that hard drive.  I could gather my bills and take my life in my hands (I am in so many COVID high risk categories it’s not funny) and go to a local grocery store and the local cable office and pay them in person (except my car insurance).  I pay my rent online through my banking app — on that hard drive.

I did catch one tiny break.  WordPress has an Android app. . . .

My brand new birthday computer chair, and no point in sitting in it.  There’s irony for you.  Happy Birthday to me!


*That is a Spock quote from Star Trek the original series.  If memory serves me correctly, it was the episode entitled, "The City on the Edge of Forever."  The one with Joan Collins.  Spock was attempting to MacGyver a way to access data on a damaged tricorder using vacuum tube technology. I feel you, bro.

Caveat Emptor

Which is a high-falutin’ (Latin) way of saying “let the buyer beware.”

There is a certain genre of books that are called “bodice rippers” for a reason.  The heroines may or may not be “girlie,” “spunky” and/or “kickass” and may or may not have an unpleasant/traumatic/triggering  past history. The heroes are overburdened with muscles, steeped in testosterone, have the sex drive of an 18-wheeler, and are toxically masculine — but only just a little bit.  There is a lot of heavy breathing, groping, throbbing, and pulsing going on.   Ditto angst, stürm und drang.  In short, these are essentially rape fantasies with their faces washed and their hair combed that are pretending not to be one.

There is a subgenre of this which is called “paranormal romance” where either the hero or heroine, or both (but usually just the hero), is some sort of paranormal being — a were-animal or a vampire — which throws an extra helping of hand-wringing and angst into the plot.  Yeah.  Twilight.

An awful lot of this whole genre is written in first person (as though the main character is telling you the tale — I did this, I felt this, etc., rather than third person, he, she did thus and so. )   All of these particular books were.  I hate “first person narrators.”   These all read like “first person shooter” games for girls.

They are usually pretty easy books to judge by their covers.  I ran across a series of them on Amazon looking for something else. They were cheap.  I was bored.  Yeah, you get what you pay for.  They were poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly proof-read (revision crumbs — where you revise text but don’t remove all the bits of the text you changed, words left out, words used incorrectly).  And stuff like “identic” (eidetic) memory.  Really?  Neither one of the authors knew how to use the word “deign.”  Get a clue, girls!  “Deign” is an intransitive verb that is typically followed by the infinitive of whatever it was you did or didn’t deign to do.

Wrong:   “I didn’t deign him an answer.”  (direct quote)
Right:  “I didn’t deign to answer him.”

They also committed the unpardonable one that makes me scream:  “in the meanwhile!”  It’s either “in the meantime,” or “meanwhile.”  AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHH!  Evidently their target audience slept through English class, too.

Those kinds of books are not usually my cup of tea, but I have identified some authors who have a firm grip, not only on the mechanics of English, but on how to tell a paranormally ripping yarnPatricia Briggs is one who comes to mind.

Right after I finished wading through the above-mentioned hot mess, I read “Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance,”  by Lois McMaster Bujold.  It was like going from a pot-holed, washboard of a dirt road to a recently-paved four-lane divided highway.  There’s a reason she’s won 7 Hugos and 3 Nebulas.   She writes “space opera” (the Vorkosigan books) — where the emphasis is on well-fleshed-out characters and the predicaments they get themselves into and out of .   She also writes fantasy (Chalion, Penric’s Demon).  She’s one of those like C. J. Cherryh  and husband/wife team Sharon Lee and Steve Miller whose characters seem like they could step right off the page (and if they did, you’d invite them to pull up a chair and ask them what they’ll have to  drink).

Mouse and Dragon” by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller addressed many of the same issues of emotional, physical and sexual abuse that one of the above noted “bodice clawer-offers” raised, but in a much less heavy-handed, more sympathetic, and way less triggering way.  (Aelliana and Daav are my two most favorite of their many great characters.)  But if you’re interested, “Mouse and Dragon” is part of a series and the best place to start it is with  “The Crystal Variation” which is a nice, thick omnibus edition that contains the first three books in the series (“Crystal Soldier,” “Crystal Dragon” and “Balance of Trade”) at a really good price.   The first two books are real page turners which detail how M. Jela, soldier, and Cantra yos’Phelium,  pilot, got together to found Clan Korval.   And if you’ve read one of the other Clan Korval Liaden books  and want to know what the deal is with the tree, “Crystal Soldier” is the book you need to read next.  Hmmm.  It may be time for a reread.

High Dudgeon

High Dudgeon.  That’s where I’ve been for the past three days now.  As we say out here in the flatlands, madder than a wet hen.  (See left)

Pourquoi, you ask?

So Suddenlink has been sending me these promos, and Saturday I called them to see if I could get a lower price for phone, internet and TV than I’m getting now.  Turns out I could.  That’ll be $165.14, thank you very much — first month’s bill and $45 installation fee.  The tech was scheduled to come out Tuesday afternoon.

The tech shows, looks around and sees I’ve got AT&T, unscrews plates behind the TV, puts a new doohicky on the wall, and then announces that there’s a service outage, and he doesn’t want to leave me with no (land line) phone (I also have a cell), internet or TV, tells me he’ll be back at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to finish the installation, takes my equipment, and leaves.  Wednesday at noon, I’m still waiting for him.  I try calling their service number and am told wait times are in excess of 20 minutes.

So I get in the car and go to the Suddenlink office, which is just a couple of blocks away.  While I’m sitting in the Suddenlink office waiting for someone to wait on me, just for the halibut, I call Suddenlink on my cellphone.  I got connected on the phone within minutes.(!)  So I’m talking to Suddenlink’s technical support person while sitting in the Suddenlink store waiting for their one working customer service rep to wade through the 7 people ahead of me.  The lady on the phone says they’ll send a tech out.  So I go home.  The tech comes.  He can’t do anything because he’s a repair tech and the install tech took my equipment with him when he left.  So I try the Suddenlink phone number again.  Callers are warned that wait times are in excess of 20 minutes and they’re taking call back appointments — press 1 for Thursday the 5th, 2 for Friday the 6th . . . .  (No, I’m not making this up!)

So Thursday, after my dentist appointment, I go back to the Suddenlink store.  There is one person taking payments, two people helping customers, and about 9 customers ahead of me on the list waiting to talk to a customer service rep.  You have to sign a list to be seen, so I sign in.  In the meantime, I call Suddenlink on the phone again.  I held for upwards of 20 minutes, but somebody finally answered.  I go through my tale of woe to one person, who then transfers me to another person, and I have to repeat my tale of woe to them.   All she can do is send an email to the install team telling them what happened.  Then I wait for them to call me so I can reschedule.  I gave them my cell phone number and continue to sit there.

The SUPERVISOR comes in to start helping with the backlog, calls my name off the list (turns out I’d been there long enough for the 8 people in front of me to be served)  I went through the whole spiel yet again.  She writes another email with all the gory details, but she copies it to the VPs of one thing and another.  She also gives me her business card and instructions to call her if nothing happens.

Home again, home again, and I have some lunch.  At 2 o’clock, I get an automated phone notification that, “A technician is on the way.”  Which I will believe when they actually plong on the doorbell.  In the meantime,  I’d just gotten the latest Liaden Univers™ novel, “Accepting the Lance” by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, so I’m sitting in the living room, within lunging distance of the front door reading it on my Kindle Fire tablet.

The clock strikes 4:00.  Still no tech.  I’m in the process of calling the supervisor on my cell to apprise her that there is still no joy in Mudville, when the land line rings and it’s the tech.  SHE shows up at about 4:30 and proceeds to set up my service — bang-bang-bang-bang, and she’s done.

And everything works!

So I’m exhausted, way out of sorts, and feeling a lot like John Cleese in the dead parrot sketch.  I had to rattle cages Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday and most of Thursday afternoon to get what I paid for.  Now I’ve got to go change the WiFi access on two internet radios, a tablet and my cellphone.

Turkey, Punkins and Julekuler

Artwork © 2019 Gregory Manchess, from

Well, at lunch today, I got a rolling start on the pumpkin pie I got at the grocery store Tuesday.  Dear friends S & JH have invited us over for dinner tomorrow, so Friday, I’ll be having store-bought “leftovers” courtesy of Prater’s and Market Street with some of Prater’s good ol’ cornbread dressing, sliced chicken breast (no Carving Board turkey to be had, alas) and jellied cranberry sauce, with punkin’ pie for afters.


I’m back making Julekuler again,  The little booklet of 24 patterns is a free download from the Schachenmayr website.  The pattern is from Arne & Carlos, and they have a tutorial.  I’m doing 9 of them for the scholarship auction that Sekret Klub my mom belongs to has every year.  The members are supposed to use their talents to come up with crafts or auctionable items with the proceeds going to their scholarship fund.  My mom’s talent is getting me to do stuff for her.  One year I made snowflakes, one year washcloths, one year neck warmers.

As I have said before, there’s nothing a knitter likes better than a worthy excuse to knit something.  Like the wife of the assistant pastor of her church is expecting a baby in December . . . .  There’s a hat that goes with the ensemble, but the photograph is on my phone and not on my ‘puter and I’m not in the mood to hassle with transferring it over.   I’ve got one bootie to finish, the sweater to block and sew buttons on, and it’s done.

The stockings in the picture of the Julekuler I’m in the process of are hostess gifts for the friends who are having us to dinner tomorrow.  I always like to do a little something for them.  They have been such good friends to my mom, lo, these many years.  She sings in the choir with my mom.  (I have this homonym thing where I know the one I want, but I invariably type the wrong one.  Like just now, I typed “quire” instead of “choir.”  The worst one is typing “meat” when I mean “meet.” I try to tell myself it just seems to be happening more frequently because I’m so aware of it, but I dunno. . .)

This time around on the Julekuler, I’m finally internalizing a technique for catching my floats.  For those nonknitters in the crowd to whom that last sentence made no sense, when you are working with two or more colors, you carry the color(s) you’re not using at the moment behind the work, which leaves a little loop of thread called a “float.”  If you have to carry one color for more than three or four stitches, you need to secure – catch – the float by securing it to the back of your work to prevent having a big long loop of thread you could catch a finger in (mittens or sweater) and so it will look neat.  There are several techniques for this.

Now that I’ve got the float thing down, I want to try again to make me a “death flake” hat.  My first attempt ended up being too small partly because I didn’t catch my floats.  The pattern is a “gothicized” version of the eight-petal rose pattern so popular in Norway and Sweden.  I’ve already made me a hat with the traditional eight-petal rose pattern on, but I have a black cowl that is just begging to have a matching black hat.  I have the yarn.  After Xmas, I’ll have the time.  The hats as well as the stockings and Julekuler are all made with Caron Simply Soft yarn, which I love (except that it splits badly).  It’s an acrylic yarn, but it’s very soft and snuggly, perfect for hats and scarves and cowls.

Last month we had a medication crisis when the stupid VA website wouldn’t let me refill my clopidogrel prescription and I was fixing to go out of town.  I spent about an hour on the phone and finally got them to refill it locally and I went and picked it up.  This month when I went to the VA website and tried to refill the prescription, it wasn’t even on the list!  I called and left a message, which apparently fell down a well, or something.  Tuesday, I went down there in person to see what the heck was going on.

Turns out I’d used up all my refills and had to get a new prescription from my cardiologist.  I found this out two days before a major holiday (with only enough doses to get me through Tuesday of next week) only because I went down in person and rattled some cages.  They had a whole month to warn me my prescription was expiring so I could go to my cardiologist in a timely manner and get a new one, but did they?  Nope.

So, I have to call the cardiologist and get them to fax over a new Rx, which they promptly did, because they are not a government agency.  Then the VA calls me this morning to tell me they tried to call me Tuesday (while I was out doing the things I actually needed to do like renew my car tags and shop groceries) and that I can go pick up my December supply at the pharmacy. So I had to make a special trip today to get the stupid medication I could have picked up while I was at the VA yesterday, only nobody bothered to tell me it was there.  And not to put too fine a point on the whole debacle, all my other prescriptions come in 90-day quantities except this one.  I have to go through the refill rigamarole on the website every 30 days!  I’ve asked and asked that it be changed to a 90-day supply just like all the rest of them, but to no avail.

Oh, and I did get the little sweater finished for the ball-jointed doll, plus a hat.  I need to send it but I want to do another sweater before I do.