In App Purchases and Other Abominations

Some marketing genius came up with this thing for games called “in app purchases” — You give the game away for free but let people buy more of the tokens they need to continue playing the game for some piddly price like $1.99 or $2.99.   Loose all your lives?  Buy five more for just $2.99.  Need more bombs or fizzies?  Buy 10 more for $9.99.  You get the idea.  Insidious and not a little sleazy, if you ask me.   Of course, you can get more lives for free if you wait a set limit of time — like five more lives if you wait 24 hours.  I’ve got about six games of this ilk downloaded to the Fire 10-inch tablet.  When I’m in that mood, I play one until I use up all the lives on that game, then go on to the next one.  I can play for quite a while doing that and I get the additional satisfaction of beating their racket.

I’m teetering on the brink of starting the first of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books.  I’ve read all her “Lord John” books, and I really liked them, but I just don’t know whether I want to get into that whole Stürm und Drang of a soap opera that is the main story line.  I got the first book (“Outlander“) as a free download for Kindle at some point and I’ve bought the second book in the series (“Dragonfly in Amber“).  They’re hefty books — door-stop class. Lord John doesn’t even make an appearance until Dragonfly in Amber and he’s only 16 at the time.  Sheesh.  Maybe after the first of the year.

— Speaking of “in app purchases,” Amazon Kindle frequently takes an older/longer/completed series of books whose sales are starting to run out of gas and offers the first book in the series for free as a limited time offer — which is how I got the first Outlander book as well as several others.  The idea is, of course, that if you like the first book, you’ll spring for more books in the series.  That’s “Amazon” spelled “o-c-t-o-p-u-s.”

Pet peeve number umpty-eleven:  Books written in first person.  Just not into it.  Not sorry.

Here’s your helpful homemaking hint for the day:  How to serve toast (for three or more people).  Cut the piece of toast on the diagonal, from the left upper corner to the right lower corner.  Then close up the two pieces like they were a book cover and stand them up on a plate.

Do the same for each slice. This way there’s room for you to insert a finger to pick up the piece of toast without touching the piece next to it.  (Of course, you’d want to use a bigger plate.)  This would also be a great way to serve Texas Toast if you garlic-buttered each slice, then cut them and put them together like this on a sheet of foil, which you wrapped them up in, then put the foil package in the oven to melt the butter.   You, too, can be the hostess with the mostest.

Nuts.  Now I’m hungry.

n.b.  In case you haven't sussed what I'm doing, I have long made a habit in this blog of linking words to their definitions when I think the usage is idiosyncratic to a particular place (Texas), region (South), or country, or is one of those off-the-wall idiomatic expressions English is prone to; this for those countries who speak a different brand of English, or for whom English is not their first language.

Independence Day

I was reflecting on the fact that yesterday was “Independence Day” and, in view of the current political climate, I thought this was apropos.   We’ve needed a day of reckoning for way too long on way too many scores.

I’m in pursuit of my own personal independence day in my quest to return to full mobility after my total knee replacement surgery.  The VA finally got its rear in gear and I had my “induction visit” for outpatient physical therapy Wednesday — only three weeks late.  Fortunately, it turned out that the facility I wanted was in TriWest’s network so I get to go to the one that’s literally right around the corner instead of to a facility that’s way over on one side of town, or one that’s way over on the other side of town.

I like it.  The therapist is not only professional but nice.  I was pleased to note that I did not lose all that much ground in the three weeks I twiddled my thumbs waiting for Godot. . .  I actually did gain some ground.  I went from 82 degrees of flexion at 18 days postop after a week in-home PT (which is really good, BTW) to 102 degrees of flexion at 6 weeks postop, which is past 90 degrees (a measurement of how far I can bend my knee, assuming a straight leg is zero degrees, and remembering that the furthest I can bend my good leg is 125 degrees because I’m a real woman with a real woman’s thunder thighs!, not some anorexic stick-figure of a fashion model, so there. )  Starting next Wednesday, I will have two sessions a week of PT for 7 weeks.

All since the surgery, I’ve been having intermittent nerve pain as part of the healing process — as nerves heal and reconnect, they yell at my brain, “Can you hear me now?!”  It’s like being savagely stabbed six or eight times with an electrified fork, suddenly and without warning.  Sometimes the jolt is so strong my foot even jumps.  Then it stops.  Not everybody gets this, but apparently I do, and it’s totally on the curve of a normal healing process.  Remember, I’ve done this whole thing, surgery and all, on nothing but a local nerve block for immediate post surgical pain, Tylenol and Aleve, that’s it.   Of course, I had no choice in the matter, because I’m allergic to practically everything else, but still.   I stopped taking anything for pain over two weeks ago.

The reverse osmosis water guy was out Wednesday afternoon for the 6-month filter change on my under-sink unit, and ever since, when I’ve turned the regular sink tap on, I get the spits and splutters of air in the line.  I let the water run for a good minute that first time, and that should have taken care of it, but when I ran water a couple of hours later, it spit and spluttered again.  It’s happening consistently.  I’ve got to try calling them in the morning and have the guy back out because something is out of kilter.   Bother.

For weeks now, high temps have been in the 90’s F(32-37 C) with lows in the low 70’s F (21-24 C).   Thankfully, I haven’t had to go out in it much.  We’ve been having thunderboomers intermittently.  Afternoon and late evening storm moves in, with a lot of thunder and lightening.  It rains torrentially for about half an hour with pea to marble size hail more often than not, then it quits.   Then for a couple days afterward we get 60%-70% humidity (stop laughing, you east Texans!) which is really high for us (39% to 49% is average).  (Where I live up in the flatlands is considered “semi-arid” with average rainfall of 16-17 inches/40-43 cm a year.)

Late Wednesday night, after things cooled down some, I baked three potatoes in the oven.  The way I do my baking taters (wash potatoes, rub them with olive oil while still damp, cook at 360º for 1 hour) makes the skin tender and thin.  I had some of those Birdseye steam in the microwave packages of broccoli and cauliflower mix veggies which I nuked, and some thick cut deli chicken, and a green onion, and some Sargento sprinkle cheese to load my tater with.  I got one tater left.  That’ll be lunch mañana.

I thought I’d leave you with this little vault over the language barrier from a restroom in Japan (?).  Words to live by.


It Fooled Around And Got Cold On Us

When I went for my followup visit yesterday to the surgeon who did my hernia repair, I started out the door in a teeshirt, and went, “Whoa!”  It was rainy and downright chilly out.  So chilly, in fact, that I went right back in and put on my favorite SomaFM zip up hoodie.  When I got home long about noon and looked at the HVAC thermometer in the hall, it was 77 F/25 C inside.  I have this single size microfiber blanket I got years ago intending to make a lap robe out of but haven’t yet, and last night was the second night in a row I’ve slept with it spread over my side of the bed.  This morning when I went in to boot up my computer, the digital clock/calendar/thermostat on the tower read 74 F/23.3 C.  First thing I did was turn off the floor fan in my office.   I’m wearing long pants, albeit cotton ones, and a teeshirt instead of my usual summer uniform of a lightweight teeshirt dress, and I’m seriously thinking about going and putting some socks on.

This is what the five-day forecast looks like:

  Fall has definitely fell.

I was having a little read in bed this morning, and my dern arms got chilly!  So, I’m going to try again to knit a reader’s shrug, which I envision as basically a pair of sleeves held together across the back.   It’ll be Turkish cast on down the middle of the back, which I’ll knit in both directions at the same time (“magic loop“) out to the sleeves, which will be done two at a time out to the cuffs.  It’ll be ribbed, in a DK weight yarn, on a US 4 (3.5 mm) 60-inch circular needle.  I got two cakes of this Lion Brand Mandala yarn (color “Troll”) because I liked the colors in combination, or at least all but one of them.  I’m editing out the light green as I roll it into balls.   I’ll try writing a pattern for it, but it’s going to be basically me, a tape measure and the calculator app on my computer playing it by ear.  I’ll start it as soon as I can get both cakes wound into balls.  I’ll have to get my covered yarn bowl down for this one.

Shoutout:  I am a reader of webcomics.  One of my favorites is one called “Wilde Life” drawn by a lady from Oklahoma named Pascalle Lepas.  If you’re into that kind of thing, go check it out.  It’s beautifully drawn, I like the characters, and the plot is interesting.  Here’s a teeny taste (which also could be the motto of Gemini, which I kind of am*).  (I want this on a teeshirt so bad!)

Here are a couple more serendoogles**

This is a nerd play on a well-known mathematical formula.  This one is a “DUH!” it’s so obvious.  Girl got it absolutely right on.

*I'm born on the cusp of Taurus, which is an earth sign, and Gemini, which is an air sign.  The burrowing owl is a bird native to the flatlands that lives in a hole in the ground.  Its closest relative is the little owl that lives on the Acropolis in Athens known as Athena's owl, whence its taxonomic name, Athene cunicularia hypugaea.  That should give you a clue why this blog has the name it does. 

θεά από τη μηχανή
**Serendoogle -- something cool you run across by chance while googling for something else.  I invented this word by combining "serendipity + google"


Someone Special

There is a lady who lives in a stone house in Pembrokeshire, Wales, within walking distance of the sea.  She started out as an illustrator, illustrating other people’s books, but then words found her and she began writing the books she illustrated.   Her name is Jackie Morris.  I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now, and it has led me to the most wonderful books.  If you have small children in your life, or you love wonderful words and magical artwork, you need to look into her books.   I cannot think of a more wonderful first book for a small child of any ilk than her “Tell Me a Dragon.” She has books about fairy tale swans, cats, snow leopards, bears in general, polar bears in particular, hares, seal children, and  traditional nursery rhymes.

For older children from the age about 8 to 100, there is “The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow,” which grew out of the Christmas cards she designs each year for The Musicians’ Benevolent Fund, a musician’s charity in the UK.  I can, and have, poured over the wonderfully intricate illustrations of this book for hours on end.

For the incurably romantic, there is her retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon.” with its gorgeous illustrations.  She writes nonfiction as well.  Queen of the Sky is the real-life story of the rescue and return to the wild of a peregrine falcon who fell into the sea.

Perhaps her illustration masterwork is a collaboration with author Robert MacFarlane which resulting in a rare jewel of a little book called, “The Lost Words.”  The text begs to be read aloud, to people of any age, from babes in arms to adults, and the illustrations are just magical.  There has been an amazing response to this book in the UK with spontaneous fundraising campaigns springing up to put a copy of this book in every school in Scotland,  and in every school in various counties in England and Wales —  which have all been overfunded!

She’s even written books that others have illustrated.  One called “Mrs. Noah’s Pockets” is one that springs to mind.  It is a charming little children’s story about Mrs. Noah, (the wife of the guy who did the ark thing) which, like all the best children’s stories,  is full of wisdom and subtlety.

Photo © 2018 Jackie Morris

Today I was reading her latest blog post about taking time off to go attend a concert by singer/songwriter Karine Polwart.  On her way back, she stopped at The Works in Llandeilo, Wales, an old weaving factory filled with antique stalls, to stretch her legs and during her browsing, she discovered a Georgian wooden paint box — complete with paints, with both bricks of watercolor paint and tubes of paint, and painterly acoutrements . . . which dated near as she can tell from sometime between 1800 and 1818.  Of course, it went home with her.

Now that she’s got this magical paint box, there’s no telling what she’ll come up with next.


I Can Have Tuna For Breakfast If I Want To

I have never understood this “you can’t eat certain foods at certain times” thing.  Yeah, I can see structuring your food intake for what you’ve got to do during the day, so that you eat certain types of foods (proteins, complex carbs, fats, etc.) in certain combinations designed to keep you going all day long.  But specific foods being forbidden at specific time?  Nope.  ‘You can’t have that for breakfast!’  Pshaw!  Tuna salad makes a good breakfast.  It’s got protein, complex carbs (or it does the way I make it), and it’s tasty.   (And come to that, how is a piece of  fruit pie (dessert) different than a toaster pastry?)

I had tuna salad for breakfast instead of what I had originally wanted to eat because of a Mystery.  I know for a fact that I bought several cartons of almond milk when I shopped groceries at some point recently — the kind of cartons that don’t have to be refrigerated.  I know I did.  And I know where I thought I put them.  But, I’m durned if I know where they actually are.  There aren’t that many places where they could be and they aren’t in any of them.  I’ve looked.  Twice.  How can I have cereal without almond milk?  I’ve got some lovely Cheerios and some Kashi shreaded wheat, and no almond milk.   So now, here directly, I have to suit up and schlep off to Walmart and get some.   In the rental car.

Yep.  Tues, I took my poor Greyola off to Big Daddy’s Collision Center to get the collision damage repaired.  It’s going to take about two weeks, they said.  They’re going to have to replace both door panels, and the front fender panel, and work on the rear fender panel, and they have to take bumpers off and lights out to paint.  The rental car is a 2017 silver Chevy miniSUV.  I’m going to have to put a static decal in the back window so I can locate the durn thing in parking lots.   It has one of those keyless systems — not just keyless entry, but keyless ignition, too.  So long as you are carrying this fob thingie around on your person, you can lock and unlock the doors and start the car without a key just by pressing buttons!  Oh, the plonger* envy!

So, I’m going to go brush my teeth, put on shoes, beetle off to Walmart to get some almond milk, chopped olives, and TP.  Then I’ll get my adulting done for the day (pay bills), and decide what I want to do next, which will very likely involve yarn and sharp pointy metal things.  And maybe computers.  Busy, busy, busy. . .

It occurs to me that I’ve got a shawl going in every room of the house but the kitchen at the moment, all of them for me.  I’ve got a Malguri Morning shawl in Charisma yarn “Northern Light” colorway going in the living room (TV knitting at its finest), my modified version of the cable edged shawl in Lion Brand Heartland yarn color “Glacer Bay” going by the computer, and the cobblestone lace shawl in “bluejean” going in the bedroom.   I’ve got some YouTube subscriptions that have uploaded new videos, and some blogs to read, and The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman to finish rereading, and a lot of TV binge watching lined up to get stuff off the DVR, so shawl knitting is really high on the list of things that will happen in the near future.  Be nice if I can get all three shawls done in time for cold weather this fall.  Goalz.  I haz ’em.


*plonger - in the family parlance, a "plonger" is a small electronic device that has buttons you push to accomplish tasks -- a doorbell, a TV remote, a garage door opener remote, the little remotes that lock and unlock your car all fall under this generic term.  In order to accomplish the task, you "plong" the appropriate button.  This came from "plonging" on the door bell, which is also a common expression in the family parlance, which is what you do to produce the "classic" doorbell "pling-plong" sound.  "Plonging" would qualify as an onomatopoeic noun (for the sound) used as a verb (what you do to produce the sound).  This term has the sound and feel of one of my dad's (many) linguistic influences on the household.

Read Any Good Tee-Shirts Lately?*

“Those who wonder if the glass is half empty or half full miss the point.  The glass is refillable.”

“Brace yourself.  The full moon is coming.”

“English is weird,
but it can be understood through tough, thorough thought, though.”

“Bookmarks are for quitters.”

“The most dangerous animal in the world is a silent, smiling woman.”

“My two favorite teams are Chicago, and anyone who beats Baltimore.”

“People think I’m crazy for talking to animals.  Should I ignore their questions?”

“BOY, n. 1. noise with dirt on it.”

“I thought growing old would take longer. ”

“You matter.
Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light . . . then you energy.”
(If this isn’t a Neil deGrasse Tyson quote, it ought to be.)

“Most computer problems are caused by a faulty connection between the chair and the keyboard.”

“Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup. ”

“Never trust an atom.  They make up everything.”

“iTired.  There’s a nap for that.”

“‘Earth’ without Art is just ‘Eh.'”

“The only thing we have to fear is Fear itself . . . and spiders.”


*As gleaned from an unsolicited Signals catalog.

Thor’s Day Afternoon

The French, who were up to their ears in Romans a lot longer than England was, call it “Jeudi” — the day of the Roman god Jupiter.  But because England was all over Angles, and Saxons, and Norse (oh, my!), the English name for the day hearkens back to the Germanic/Norse god Thor.  So today is Thor’s day, rather than Thursday, because Thor and Chris Hemsworth, (not to mention Tom Hiddleston, who is, very . . .), and it’s nice to have a change once in a while.

We had two noteworthy things happen in knitting group, Tuesday.  One, we were saddened to learn that A’s son had passed away unexpectedly.  He was only 53,  and although he did have COPD, it was not that bad.  He lived alone, and a relative found him dead.  A has had a lung transplant, so she has had a number of vicissitudes in her life already.  I think she only had the son and the daughter. VS told us about it.  She is A’s across-the-street neighbor and frequently brings A to knitting group.  Very, very sad.

We were processing this news when a woman walked in and asked if we would be interested in some yarn and knitting needles, which is rather like asking sheep if they would be interested in a pasture of nice thick green grass . . .  “Some” turned out to be two big boxes of yarn and a box of assorted knitting needles. It seems she had been clearing out her late mother’s house, and her mother was a knitter/crocheter (many knitters are ambicraftous and also crochet.  Me, for one.).  This was after KC had “busted” her stash and had brought me a big bag of yarn suitable for hats (which must be done in hypoallergenic acrylic or nylon yarn that has a very soft hand) in trade for five or six sets of circular bamboo needles, and here was a bunch more.  I got some double pointed needles out of the box of assorted knitting needles — several 4-and one 5- needle sets.  (Of course, the minimum needle requirement for knitting is two.)  Our group leader’s church is doing prayer shawls, so they made out like bandits with a large box of perfectly free “save me from this” yarn.

There were six 1.75 oz skeins of lavender “Natura Burlee” yarn which they probably haven’t made in 20 years.  And I rewrote the baby afghan pattern “Sweet Sherbet” for it. I may not have enough of it to complete the project and I may have to find an interposable color to finish it.  We’ll see.  I’ve got a yellow that might work.  KC’s church has a baby afghan project I might donate it to. I’m calling the new pattern “Sherbet Parfait” — seemed reasonable.  Made a nice change from hats.

In the plastic bag that had the lavender yarn was a thin plastic 7-inch ruler which says “St. Labre Indian School, Ashland, Montana.”  The lady did not say where her mother was from.  There’s no telling how the ruler got in the bag.  Or when.

The purple fuzzy hat is in the decreases now to close the top, and I’m going to finish it tonight if it harelips the governor.  No, the purple fuzzy hat is done!