Friday, June 27, 2008

Blogaversary contest for Days Go By

My friend over at Days Go By is having a contest for her 2nd blogaversary. Drop by, leave a comment (and mention that I sent you!) and we'll both get an entry into the contest. She's a sweetheart, even when she's not giving away prizes!

And the bead goes on and on and on and on

I spent hours yesterday pushing beads up to the beginning of the neverending ball of yarn. The remaining ball looks slightly smaller, but I'm not going to believe my eyes until the beads actually touch the shawl. And maybe not then.

In the meantime, I've cast on for another bamboo Tropical Tee (by Oat Couture), this time in coral. It's more easily portable than a ton of beads. It's a very easy knit, and I love the way my first one in bamboo drapes. And drapes. And drapes. I'm knitting this one in the round to the sleeves to avoid having to seam later. I hate seaming.

(photo from Oat Couture website,

You can't tell me that alcohol wasn't involved.

Massive quantities of alcohol, at that. My favorite quote? "Edwards said he knew the canal was infested with alligators before taking a 2 a.m. swim at Nubbin Slough, a canal near Lake Okeechobee on Sunday.

"They said they pulled out over a dozen 12-foot alligators and they spotted 150 in that area," Edwards said."

So why was the moron in the canal at 2 a.m.? It had to involve alcohol.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Quick note

Summer's here! The sun is shining, it's warm, and I'm happy.

I've been moving beads up the yarn for hours at a time, trying to get to the point that I can finish the test knit. It's boring.

We did buy a new modem, and after quite a bit of frustration, cursing, and in spite of another visit with customer "service", the new wireless modem installed itself and is working. I haven't even attempted to try to use the laptop with it. I'm afraid the air will turn blue.

So. That's where we stand now. I'm on vacation and loving it. I will work at school for a couple of hours tomorrow, but that's it for now.

I will eventually post photos from the Last Train Home (click on their name in the sidebar) shows last weekend, and I have some other things I want to blog about, but they'll have to wait till probably next week. My sisters and I are heading to the NC mountains for a nice, long weekend with our cousins.

Oh, and I think Claudia fired me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

About Verizon

We live in the sticks, so our internet options are limited. 1) dialup 2) satellite 3) dsl. Number 1 is completely unacceptable now that I've had high-speed access at work and at home. We tried satellite; it's very expensive, not that fast, and every time a cloud went by the signal was dropped. So, when Verizon offered dsl in our area in January (everywhere else in the world had dsl two years ago; like I said, we live in the sticks), Tom ordered a modem and we switched over.

We've been pleased with the speed; it's better than the satellite connection was, and it hasn't gone out once. Until this weekend.

We left home Friday morning and didn't get home till 7 Sunday evening. I noticed that the lights weren't glowing on the modem. I immediately checked the computer (which had been left on all weekend); it was fine. Printer fine. Answering machine fine. Phones fine.

Back up. The phone worked. This is dsl, which comes in over the phone line. The phone line works. No dsl. The answering machine is plugged into the same outlet as the modem. Tried plugging modem into another outlet and resetting it. No lights.

Damn. That means a call to customer "service". It took me hours on hold and then talking to an actual human back in January when we installed this thing and then hooked it to the wireless router. I just didn't think I could go through that frustration again.

But. I'm working at home off and on during the summer. Without internet access, I'm screwed. I can't even check my email to see if my boss has any updates for me. So I called customer "service".

I didn't have to wait too long for a real human voice, but the stinking menu requires oral communication, not button pushing. I don't like that. I don't like phones. Talking to a computer without cursing is not easy for me. "I'm sorry, I don't understand that response" just brings forth more cursing and more "not understand"ing.

So the human was nice and very helpful; he informed me that my modem was dead (Einstein that he was) and since it was out of warranty, I'd have to WAIT A FREAKING MINUTE HERE. It's out of warranty? We've had it for 5 freaking months. We're under obligation for 12 months, and their modem craps out after 5?

So he kindly transferred me to billing where I could hash it out with a woman who spoke heavily accented English through a tin can and unwaxed string from another country. It made communication difficult, although she "feels the same as you do, ma'am" that I have to buy another freaking modem and don't think I should have to pay for it since it was ONLY FIVE MONTHS OLD and we have to keep paying for dsl through them for another 7 months. (If I want to be totally accurate, I have to say that we're going to have to keep Verizon dsl forever or until another option comes along in the next century or so.)

So the Lady of Spain checks with her manager, but even though her empathy was oozing through the tin can and string, she couldn't do anything about it. She could have a new modem to us in "only 3-5 business days". I asked if I could go to a local Verizon store and pick one up. "Oh yes, you'll have it in 3-5 business days." If I actually went in and asked for one? "Yes, in 3-5 business days. May I order one for you?" No, I'll go to Circuit City and see what they have. "Oh, but I must inform you that you'd have to have the same modem." The same modem that crapped out after only 5 months? I think not. I'll buy another brand. "Then I must inform you that Verizon cannot guarantee that this modem will work." They can't guarantee that the piece of crap they sold us earlier would work longer than three months, either. Our old wireless router that we bought when we had the satellite access installed is still working, even with Verizon's choice of modems, so I really don't see a problem using a different brand of modem.

The best thing about the call was hearing over and over, "If you don't want to wait for a human representative (my paraphrasing), you can solve all your problems by going to No amount of shouting that I couldn't go to their freaking website without freaking internet access seemed to faze the disembodied voice, either.

P. S. I'm at work now, but it's my last day until August, so the freaking internet access must be fixed. Today. I didn't realize just how freaking dependent I am on it.

Tuesday morning

I was baaaad all last week and all weekend, although not as bad as I could have been. I ate french fries and greasy stuff, then Friday night we ate at 202 Market in Roanoke (I hope/plan to write more about them later; right now the custodians are breathing down my neck because they want to do the office floor), which has incredible food, and I even ate dessert. I rarely eat dessert, but this was their own freshly-made ice cream, and I couldn't resist it.

So, anyway, I figured I'd gained a couple of pounds. Nope. I'm down one more pound, to 11 total. Why, oh why, aren't my clothes fitting better??? Gotta work on that.

P.S. Our dsl modem at home gave up the ghost over the weekend while we were gone. No internet connection. Oh the humanity.

Friday, June 20, 2008

We're off!

(Don't say it. I know what you're thinking.)

We're off to Roanoke to see Last Train Home tonight. I missed their last appearances in the area when I rushed off to Orlando a few weeks ago, which meant I missed the winefest also. Drat.

But we'll make up for that this weekend. LTH is also at Colonial Downs tomorrow, so if it's not raining, we'll go to see them in the early evening, then run to Ashland for their show at Ashland Coffee and Tea. It'll be a fun weekend. I'll get to knit (or string beads; my arms and hands hurt just thinking about it) a lot.

And I don't have to work on Monday! I'll come in Tuesday to pack up the office for its annual "move everything out so the custodians can clean the floor" and to learn how to assign lockers. It involves computers and school software, so how hard can it be?

I crack myself up sometimes.

Change is looking good!

Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Change in the air

I'm thinking about taking a biiiiiig step, one I have only taken once before in my life.

I'm considering a job change.

I've loved my job for the last five years, especially the last two. I work with a wonderful woman in a wonderful school (and I haven't had to work directly with kids), but there's change in the air and it scares me. I've been a teaching assistant for 26 years; the last four or five I've been more a secretary than anything else. I've loved it. It can be stressful at times, but my boss has made it bearable, even enjoyable.

Well. She's going to be doing something else next year (not something she wants to do, either), something that won't require my assistance as much. The woman who will take over some of her duties is not as easy to work with and I don't know that I want to stay in my present position (which, right now, includes trying to type with my shoulder seizing up from tension). I definitely do not want to be put back in a classroom, and since I'm an instructional assistant, I'm fairly certain that I'd end up there for at least part of the day. I no longer have the patience I once had.

I'll lose the use of the laptop, I know that right off the bat, but that can be remedied. I'd still have access to a desktop that no one else uses. I want to be classified as a secretary.

Yep, a real secretary. In our school system, secretaries are on a higher pay scale than teaching assistants. I'm on step 28, while on the secretary's scale I'd need to be on step 12 to make the same amount of money. (There are 30 steps on both scales.) The first step on the secretary's scale is $8000 more than the assistant's salary, and the top step is $18,000 more. Not that I expect to be around that long. I'll be happy to come out even. An increase would be welcome, but in the current climate I don't think that'll happen.

The job? Copy room secretary. Making copies. Three copiers going full blast at once, especially at the beginning, end of the 1st semester and end of the year. Rude people pushing papers at the secretary, not preparing in advance as they're told to do time and time again, sending kids to the office in the middle of class for copies that they need right now, expecting the secretary to stop the other jobs she's doing and take theirs, right now.

Compared to what I'm doing now, piece of cake. Show me how to use the three machines and turn me loose. I'm already trained to sit in for the main office secretary and do so every day during the school year during her lunch breaks. I'm working "as" her today and probably tomorrow since she's taking vacation days. I'll sit in for her the week before the faculty and staff come back in August. Since the copy secretary also sits in when needed, I've already had plenty of experience with that.

Actually, I've sat in for the copy secretary when she's on vacation, so I know what the job entails and the stress it can induce. I still think it's less than I've experienced in my current job. Copying pretty much is the same thing day in, day out, and I like that. I don't handle change well. (Ask Tom. I'm awful with money.)

I think this will be a good change. Wish me luck. I still have to tell my boss that I want to change jobs.


From MSN's Most Cringeworthy Men ( 1=32001">>1=32001 )

"The "Burger King"

You know who we're talking about. It's that guy from the Burger King ads wearing tights and a giant plastic head, the one lurking around every corner with a Whopper or a breakfast croissant hidden behind his back. Is he really a "man," in the same sense as everyone else on this list? We don't think it matters. Sure, it's hard to get all cringed out over someone who is essentially just an advertising gimmick, but there's something about that unsettlingly large plastic head with its frozen stare and overeager grin that makes us uneasy. One thing's for sure: We would never accept any food offered by him, no matter what kind of tray he serves it on, or how long he's been standing there at the foot of our bed."


"Tom Cruise

Not only did Tom jump on Oprah's couch, he nearly pinned her down in a weird hand tackle-hug! (Search "Tom Cruise Kills Oprah" on YouTube for a hilariously doctored 15-second clip.) Yet for as much ridicule as Cruise has received, the couch incident had an upside: It was probably the most spontaneous thing he's done in the media in years. Most of Cruise's public appearances, like Oprah's recent damage-control visit to his Colorado retreat, feel like public relations attempts to maintain the image of a man who has it all together. Where is the fun guy who danced in his underwear in "Risky Business" or who buzzed the tower in "Top Gun"? Sure, Cruise was in character in those moments, but the Tom of 2008 seems more interested giving unsolicited advice on postpartum depression or arguing with Matt Lauer on "Today." Sorry Mav, we've lost that lovin' feeling."

Beads and beads and beads and beads

I don't think I'll ever make anything that requires over a thousand beads again.

I decided to knit the shawl then crochet the edging to the point that I need to start placing beads, then totally unroll the ball of yarn that's left (and it's a big ball) and add the beads to the end. (Thank you, Raveler whose name I can't remember, and I can't access Ravelry from here to find her name.) I spent hours on Sunday stringing beads onto the end of the yarn and finally gave up after my thumb cramped and refused to cooperate any longer. Tom helped me, bless his heart, to keep the beads and yarn from tangling. I got maybe 3/4 of the beads strung and called it a day.

This project has gotten to the size and weight (with those glass beads) that it's not easily portable. Really cuts into the time I have to work on it.

So now I have a string of beads well over a yard long and a big ball of yarn. And I have to get those beads to the other end of that ball so I can finish crocheting the edging.

Here's what happened when I tried to get started yesterday: I'd wound the beaded yarn back around the big ball o' yarn, and they sparkled and looked so beautiful. And so slippery. When I picked up said big ball o' yarn 'n' beads, the beaded portion immediately slid off into a tangled mess in my lap. Cursing the beads'n'knots didn't help, but it made me feel better.

It took over an hour to sort out the mess. Then I was able to finally start moving beads to the beginning of the ball.

No photos. I was admiring the way the beads sparkled in the sunlight, but I was too pissed to haul out my camera.

For the next hour, I painstakingly moved maybe a foot's worth of beads at a time a few yards upstream, and finally I got them all away from their end of the ball a little closer to the place they need to be. I estimate that it's going to take me weeks to get them all where they have to be to use them.

Is there a better way to do this? I thought about crocheting each bead into the edging, but then it's not as free to move a little or be shoved into position. And it would be just as aggravating to have to stop, pick up the bead, place it with a tiny crochet hook, crochet it into place, rinse, repeat. I'm more and more convinced that knitting with beads is not for me.

But I want my own shawl of this pattern. I've never wanted a shawl before, but after trying on Claudia's, I have to have one. But the beads, oh, the beads. I don't know if I can ever face them again.

I think there might be a job opportunity for someone out there who likes to string beads, then sell the beaded yarn in a kit.

I don't think that person will be moi.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I had another one. Eyeball injection. For some reason it hurt more this time; not during the injection, but the next day. The injection didn't hurt at all. Love those numbing drops!

The latest seepage (I guess the correct word is extrudate, if there is such a word) in my eyeball has almost dried up, which means that I'm regaining my sight in that part of my eye. I'll probably never totally regain the sight I lost from the original "event" because I didn't have an injection right away; the doctor kept saying my sight was too "good". Knowing what I now know, I wish he'd given me the injections right away anyway, since I've permanently lost about 20% of my central vision in that eye.

But I really can't be upset with him, because Lucentis was only approved a few weeks before my first visit to the retinologist, and it can cause more damage if things don't go right. I'm thankful that I found that doctor (the first retinologist told me I'd just go blind in that eye) and that Lucentis is now available.

I've had six injections so far, and I'm destined to have more every few months (approximately) for the rest of my life. Insurance has covered it so far, and the price of the drug has dropped a bit, so maybe my insurance will continue to cover it. I guess I'll have to keep this insurance for the rest of my life so this won't be a preexisting condition.

Off-topic, I only have to work two more days at school until August. I'm ready for a break.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday morning good news

Okay, it's only good for me, but it helps on a Monday morning.

I weighed this morning, expecting to weigh several pounds more than last week's weigh-in. And to my surprise, I've finally made it 1/3 of the way to my goal of losing 30 pounds by year's end! My clothes don't fit any better; if anything, my jeans aren't as loose, and the crop pants I bought a couple of years ago and wore last summer and fall are too tight to wear. I guess everything's migrating south, weight loss or no weight loss.

School is finally out, so things will be much quieter around here today and until mid-August. I'll be working through at least next week, so quiet means that we'll get a lot more done than we do when people are in here every few minutes interrupting with one problem or another.

So, hooray for this particular Monday morning!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Very special

On Saturday, two very special young men will graduate from high school. These guys came to the US from the Chernobyl area of the Ukraine years ago. They have an older brother who has a family and a younger sister. The sister is mildly mentally handicapped; the two graduates are considered to be Trainable Mentally Impaired.

When they first came to the high school five years ago, the boys spoke very little English and were very timid. The following year they had a different teacher who really brought out their personalities. He joked with them, took them all over the city, taught them coping skills. The boys would go through the halls smiling and laughing, saying hello to everyone they met.

They'd rattle off the names of football players, other schools, local radio announcers, anything that caught their attention. They have remarkable memories, considering that they have the mental and emotional maturity of 3-year-olds.

This school is incredibly supportive of this class of students. They're always willing to stop and talk to the 5 students in the class, help any way they can.

And now the boys are graduating (with an attendance certificate) and will go on with their lives. They're scheduled to attend a new program next year that's based at the local community college, but their mom isn't certain it's the best thing for them. Their class here will disband on Friday. The "numbers" are too low to keep a full-time teacher and assistant on salary for two kids, one of whom is better suited for the Educable Mentally Handicapped class we have, so the four kids (including our two favorites) are moving to the community college.

Vlad and Victor will be missed here, but we have to think of what's best for them, not how much we're going to miss them. That's a hard thing to do.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

No knitting content

I took my Red Wagon socks to Florida with me, but I didn't touch them. I pulled them out yesterday and knit a little, then realized I'd made yet another mistake in the heart pattern, unknit 6 rows, reknit 2, saw another mistake, unknit 2, reknit one or two. Who knows where I am now. Or if I'll ever finish them.

I need to get back to the test-knit shawl, but there was no way I was taking that to Orlando where little fingers would no doubt play with 1500 tiny glass beads and they'd spill on the carpet or tile several times and I'd pull all of my hair out.

At least then I wouldn't have to color the gray anymore.


An incredible feeling of peace came over me about 10 minutes ago. I don't know why it's there, but I welcome it. I hope it stays. Maybe I'm going to need it. I've only had this feeling a few times in my life. I feel that I can breathe deeply and freely and all of my worries have slipped away. It feels like a warm, loving hug, enveloping my whole body.

I don't know what my job will involve next year; things are up in the air here in SpEdLand. I've been worried about that. My boss is worried, so that worries me. I worry about my daughter and her upcoming surgery.

But for now, I'm at peace.

Back to reality

You know, real life isn't so hard to deal with when it's warm and all of summer is ahead. I had a great time in Orlando with my daughter, J, and her family. A totally unexpected, unplanned week in Florida was just what I needed. I think that J appreciates that I flew down so quickly after she saw the doctors, and I appreciate the school that I work for, for letting me go to my daughter when I needed to.

So I'll work all of June. I did that last year, so it's no big deal. I won't get much extra pay since I have to work off those 5 days I missed last week, and probably a couple of sick days, but I don't mind. It's so nice to work here when everyone's gone (except the summer school people, but they won't be in this hall too much); we got so much done after school was out last year.

And it is hot; yesterday was 96 at one point. But it wasn't as humid, and it felt good when I was outside; the school building, as I noted before, is so stinking cold all the time. Oh well. I can deal with it.

It's summer.