Sunday, December 30, 2007


When I was 10 or 11, the big Christmas gift that all the kids were getting that year was a transistor radio. Up until that time, radios were big, not as big as a breadbox, but almost, and had to be plugged in. But with the invention of the transistor and reliable batteries, pocket sized radios hit the market with a bang. There was, from my point of view, only one drawback.

They were expensive.

No, I can't remember the actual price, which would seem trivial by now, but that scarcely matters. They were expensive enough that I knew I couldn't ask for one. Because of my parents and their problems, I had learned as a toddler to 'read' the moods of adults, and I knew how my mom, who was the keeper of the purse strings, felt when she couldn't afford something I wanted, and so I stopped asking. Added to that is my sister, 4 years physically older but much younger all her life, who would automatically ask for the same thing, even if she didn't really want it. She wanted what I had, maybe to prove she was loved.... but at any rate, two radios were out of the question. And really, I didn't mind. I mostly chose things that were in the Green Stamp catalog, because my folks always saved them, and the stuff in the catalog were pretty cool, even if I had no idea what you did with some of them. Like, what did one need sleeping bags for? I never went camping and never knew anyone who did. I figured a camper would roll up in a blanket, like in the cowboy shows. And all the fishing stuff was a mystery; we used a cane pole with string and a hook tied on, and an earthworm for bait, and we only fished in little creeks and ponds. At any rate, my Christmases were filled with Green Stamp joy.

Anyway, remembering the small things I did get at Christmas, I marvel that it never occurred to me that we were poor. All my school friends could have been better off financially, but I never picked up on that. Not even when I played in the house across the street, which had an entire ROOM just as a playroom, with every conceivable doll, toy and game available. That was, for instance, the only time I "played Barbies" -- with Susie's dolls, not mine. I never, in fact, had a doll at all. And never missed one.

Anyway, I hope that all of you got just the right things for Christmas and that all your memories will be fond ones too!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Sigh. I got an *extra* gift this year for Christmas. It seems to be the latest thing in a rotavirus, and boy howdy it sure is, ah, potent. Every time I tried to lie down in bed last night, I ended up dashing for the powder room OUT OF MY WAY!!! I was forced to prop myself up in bed and doze, feeling nothing but nausea all night. The pharmacist said today that it is "everywhere" in town. Misery *does* love company.

There were more book orders to send out today, I had gone almost a week with no orders at all. Guess everyone was busy with holiday shopping, etc. I received 4 new books as a gift, but two of them I already have. They are by Jim Butcher, and part of the Dresden Files. If you are familiar with the SciFi channel, it was a miniseries earlier this year, and it piqued my interest in the books. So tomorrow I'll return them to B&N and pick out something else, I think I'll concentrate on the books on the lower two shelves, it is so awkward to creep along the row on my knees, and there is always the fear that I won't make it back up again! But it will be unplumbed "depths" so hopefully I'll find *something*. One of the drawbacks of being a voracious reader is that I have read so many of the books already. Typically, I read one book a day, or in two days. I recently read a statistic that said that 57% of Americans have not read ONE book in the last YEAR!! Incredible. Guess they spend a lot of time at the boob tube instead, whereas I watch very little on TV. When N used to travel out of town for a week or more, back when the kids were 7/8, I would go to the connection for the cable outside and unscrew the coaxial cable. I told the kids that the cable was broken... then the day N was due back, I'd re-connect it. One time #1 son said, "I know. You forgot to pay the cable bill!" They were real vocal when N got home, telling how horribly they suffered with no TV. The peace and quiet were heavenly.

Sleepy. Bye.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

In general I hate Christmas songs, It makes my ears bleed to hear them beginning in October, it's a bit like Chinese water torture. That said, this rendition of Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie makes me go all soupy. If you like, watch below. And if it doesn't at least give you a little glow, you are made of sterner stuff than I, Gunga Din.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Near catastrophe

Today I was tidying up the desktop PC, you know, emptying the trash, dusting in the corners. I re-formatted the "old" hard drive... this computer was bought last year, and my previous computer had an 80 G hard drive that had tons of photos, documents, etc. on it, and I couldn't think of any good way to transfer them en mass. So we had the Geek guys put the old hard drive into the new computer, which thus has a C: drive (new) with a partitioned D: drive for system backup/restore, and now also a K: drive (old). Now I wanted to wipe the old drive so that I can use it for file backups, and the simplest way was to reformat. No problem doing that. Then I updated Spy Sweeper to the newest version, and after that it needed to be restarted. When it restarted it only got to the boot screen and showed a message, "Failure of hard drive is imminent! Back up files and replace drive!" Not a good thing. But I realized the "failing" drive was the 80 G old drive, that it was apparently trying to install the operating system from a blank drive. But, knowing that it had made the K: drive a "master" instead of a "slave", and putting it right was two different things. I sweated for an hour until I finally got to the screen that identifies hardware, and moved the 80 G from position one to position two. Then, at last, it would boot. What I wonder is, has the computer been booting from K: all along, but since the OS was on it too, from the original computer, it worked fine? I dunno. As long as it works now, I'll go with the flow...

I just love M$Windows, don't you? I should note, the re-formatting has to be done from the (ta da!) MS-DOS command prompt screen. I felt fortunate to remember how to do that, because for sure nothing on Windows tells you how. I remember when, with our first computer, a 286-16, **everything** was done in MS-DOS (no windows back then), and to get games to run you had to mess with extended and expanded memory, with LOADHIGH commands in your config.sys file or the autoexec.bat file, that would preserve the (imagine!) 256K low memory for use. I'm amazed they ever actually sold computers that were so cumbersome and user-unfriendly. Of course, all PCs still run MS-DOS, but Windows is "laid over" it so that its functioning is transparent to the user. Gone, but not gone. Sort of like a toothache.

Oh wait, our first computer was a TI-99 (Texas Instruments, who have gone back to making calculators these days). It cost $100 and ran programs that were on cassette tapes that you stuck in the back. Basically, you put a blank tape in, typed in your program and saved it to the tape. Whee. I think it's still up in the attic somewhere, maybe it will be collectible some day....

Friday, December 21, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Christmas. In my deepest heart, I know that were it left up to me, I'd skip the whole thing. My whole family is tough to buy gifts for, since we largely buy anything we want at the time we want it. And as we all get older, we want less, too. I mean, how many wrist watches do you need? Two, tops. And purses, can you use more than one at a time? (No, but that doesn't stop me from getting more and more.....) And at some point, women stop being gifted personally and become their house. On one memorable Christmas, I received >>3<< vacuum cleaners. Do you think that implied anything about my housekeeping ability? And how many husbands do you think would be thrilled to receive a set of dishes?

Anyway, I've made a credible attempt at getting things that will please the recipient, even if it leaves me less thrilled. Like what? you say? Two words:

Gift Cards.

And they're easy to wrap too.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Traveling Salesman

The traveling salesman was visiting the farmer when suddenly he sees this pig with a wooden leg running by the barn. So he asks the farmer, "What's with the pig with the wooden leg?" And the farmer says, "That's not just any pig! That there pig saw my son fall down the well, and he came and got me and led me to the well. He saved my son's LIFE!" And the salesman says, "Yeah, but what's with the wooden leg?" And the farmer says, "And that's not all! One day a stranger in the woods was trying to rape my daughter, and that pig got me to follow him, and I saved my daughter and shot the rapist!" And the salesman says, "Wow, that's some story! So what's the wooden leg about?" And the farmer says, "Mister, when you've got a special pig, the way this pig is special, you don't eat him all at once!"


It is 6 am here and I still haven't managed to get to sleep tonight. I took a sleeping pill, and two Xanax, and still don't even feel drowsy. That will probably happen around 8:30 this morning, leaving me a zombie the rest of the day. I know no one out there gives a hoot about my insomnia but I'm compelled to complain about it. Maybe someone will have a sure-fire cure? Yeah, right.

My christmas shopping remains in limbo, in that I've decided what to get but can't find them. I also can't seem to resist buying stuff for myself, making me feel guilty, but damn! Have you seen the sales going on? I bought a $78 pair of Ralph Lauren slacks for $13. Not even eBay does better, and I get to try them on. I can't imagine what the after-Christmas sales will be like -- will they pay us to take the stuff off their hands? Clearly bad news for retailers this year.

Saturday marked the one year anniversary of my last day of work. I gotta say, I don't miss it, although I would like to hear the latest gossip from work. I called a couple to times to ask or answer various questions, and always they would say, "We'll have to get together for lunch some Friday--we'll call you when everybody can make it." Of course it never happens, and what's more, I asked to be contacted when the other "old-timer" retired so I could come to his party, and no one called then either. I sent flowers to the funeral of one of the main office guys, and never got an acknowledgement from the family -- is that passe now? And I feel, not quite hurt, but, but not good either. All the comments before I left about how they couldn't get along without me...guess I wasn't so irreplacable after all. N says, out of sight, out of mind. I did pop in one day about a week after I left, no one was in, but my entire office, including the computer and the furniture had been replaced. They even got rid of my chair. So...I took it with me, from where it was sitting in the hall with the "surplus--take me" sign on it. I ordered that chair special because of the lumbar support...

I think I'm just feeling down today. The holidays are always a tough time, too many painful ghosts, and no sign of christmas cheer. We went to Gassaway last Friday to put the holiday decorations on the graves, it was cold and spitting snow, no one else was there, the wind whipped away anything you set on the ground. I'm ambivalent about doing it anyway, really we do it because my aunt and uncle appreciate it, as they decorate the rest of the family graves, but it's a melancholy task at best. Traffic on I-79 was atrocious coming home, even for a weekday, and that makes me an anxious passenger.

Oh hell, no one wants to listen to this whiny drivel. Move along, nothing to see here...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday blues

Thanks to all who pitched in on the messages to the FCC about the re-assignment of the toll free suicide hotlines, the last I checked they had received 345 comments on that proposal. Not all of them were in support of leaving the numbers with the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, but most were. Over the years, I've circulated petitions, written my congressmen, even gone to the state capitol to pitch to the state reps face-to-face. But I gotta tell you, none of it has done a damn bit of good. The idea that we have a representative government of the people seems to be a little idealized (duh), as some people obviously carry more impact than any member of John Q Public. Oh wait, I lied...I did sign a petition recently to change the state motto back to the traditional "Wild Wonderful West Virginia" instead of the one currently placed on the signs as you cross into WV that say "Open for Business". It always made me think, "Oh, and closed for vacation?" which is absurd since WV has depended heavily on those who come here for the skiing, white water rafting, camping, etc. for many years. Anyway, much to my surprise, it worked, and the slogan has been changed back. One for the little guy....

This has been a yicky day, cold (24 degrees), windy (30 mph gusts) and snowing (3 inches). I was restless all day, but with no good reason to go out in the weather. So I cleaned the kitchen (ick) and did the laundry (yawn) and bought stuff online (but nothing really fun). It is now the time to turn in, which is good since I've lost track of whatever it was I was going post here....

Monday, December 10, 2007

1-800-SUICIDE Hotline

Once again our wonderful federal government is preparing to meddle and take control of something that has been handled privately just fine. The Kristin Brooks Hope Center has operated several toll-free suicide hotlines for people in crisis. They operate largely by trained volunteers, and there are links on a huge number of web sites that direct people to these phone lines. Just as an example, you may be familiar with the Post Secret blog (the Link for there is on the right side under links---------> ) , a site which gets hundreds of thousands hits every day. Now the feds want to re-assign these toll free numbers to SAMHSA, a fed program, and I ask, why? Calls to suicide hotlines are, by their very nature, likely to contain information of a personal nature, and do we really need Big Brother, with their ability to wiretap and eavesdrop on citizens without warrants, listening in when people are in crisis? I think not. Below is the email I received from KBHC on this, feel free to contact the FCC at (link just below in large type) and file your own comment on this. I am also deeply suspicious of the FCC's motive in doing this during the holiday season, and in having such a short public comment period, and I wonder who stands to gain by having Uncle Sam try to take this function over by bootstrapping on the reputation of a private charitable group of proven effectiveness?

And if you wanted to donate to KBHC, they can always use help in paying their telephone bills too.

The links probably will not work, but go to
for the proceeding number, enter 07-271
fill in the form, and enter a brief comment at the bottom, then "submit". You should get an acknowledgment reply, with a number.

E-mail received today:

Dear Friends of the Hopeline,

We thank you for your support of our organization and 1-800-SUICIDE over the last few years.

We need your help ... again. This time in addition to financial support what we really need today is a letter of support.

The feds (SAMHSA) are moving to try to take permanent control of 3 of our hotlines using the timing of the holiday season hoping no one will be around to file a response. They filed the day before Thanksgiving and gave our attorneys no notice of the filing. Not very cricket of them.

We are asking our supporters to file comments with the FCC before they grant permanent assignment of 1-800-SUICIDE to the SAMHSA. If you could file a comment in support of us and ask any of your friends and colleagues to stand up for us it would make a difference. We need your public support more than ever. If we shine a bright enough light on them they will not be able to hide from the truth.

It is important to note that our organization operates 13 national suicide hotlines and while 1-800-SUICIDE is our largest program we will continue to prevent suicide among our veterans with our 1-877-VET2VET, new moms suffering post partum depression with 1-800-PPD-MOMS, teens with our 877-YOUTHLINE as well as many other targeted populations with 10 other specialty hotlines. We are not in danger of being shut down but we are about to lose our primary outreach of help and hope. Either way we will continue our life saving work. (see for a complete list)

I hope you and your family have a great holiday. All we want for the Holidays is the return of the control of our numbers.

Suggested minimal language...

We urge the FCC to grant the Kristin Brooks Hope Center Application for Review and return the toll free hotline numbers to KBHC promptly. If necessary to accomplish that, we support a temporary extension of the 12 month temporary re-assignment.

But please feel free to add or write your own comments about why it is important that 1-800-SUICIDE remain non government owned and controlled.

To file comments CLICK HERE
Type in 07-271 for the proceeding (docket) number.

To read what others have written CLICK HERE

The postings just began today and the window closes on the 12th of December. It is a very brief window for public comment. This is so unfair. Last year when they did this we ran a campaign that generated over 800 letters written and filed. They do not want a repeat of that and are counting on us having no show of strength in support from people who care. So please help us today. It will make a difference. Your financial support in the past has helped us survive to this point. We hope you will continue to support us in the future.

Best always,

Reese Butler -

President and Founder
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
Administrative Office:
615 7th Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-536-3206 fax

Click to go to the Save 1-800-SUICIDE site and read more details

Friday, December 07, 2007

Feed Me

Sigh. I think I have successfully added RSS feed to this site, and over there>>>> is a "Subscribe " place, not very elegant looking, but as far as I can tell it works.

And that is about all I have accomplished today, other than bringing Cookie (cat) home after her "procedure". For details of this, look at the last post. Anyway, she now has a pink bald spot on her bum, and her new nickname is "Baboon Butt" (snicker). #1 son says she is "Butt ugly" now. Poor baby.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Small rant.

You know how, when you have a lousy night because of a: sick kid/barking dog/crack house raid next door, and then you go to work in the morning, and at some point throw it out as a conversational topic? And after a few minutes, you get that out of your system and move on? Well. I don't work anymore. And I had a lousy night last night. So I'm going to grumble here.

If you sleep like a log, never have insomnia, you might want to move on to the next blog now, you know?

Are they gone? Good. Weirdos.

Last night I had a lousy night. I woke up at 2 am, after going to sleep around 11 pm, and right away I have a headache. What works best for me (as long as it isn't migraine) is Excedrin, which works well because it has caffeine, which I don't really need at two am. But I get up (brrrr) and take some, hoping. This wakes me up a little more.

So I start reviewing stuff in my mind, you know, laying there, fussing over some problem from the day, and I find myself mentally composing a: letter to the editor/blog entry/ransom note, knowing full well that: a) I won't remember all these carefully polished sentences and b) I won't even remember the topic of them. I have wasted hundreds of hours mentally composing brilliant scathing retorts for that time when she said.... when at the time I sat there dumbfounded and I *should* have said... Knowing that the next time the same thing happens I won't have a snappy comeback then either....

And then there was the cat. Because I was obviously awake, she comes over to get a little ear rubbing time, which is fine. Then she settles down next to my pillow and proceeds to take a bath. Lick, lick, lick. I look over at her, and there she is, licking her butt (we call it the "Pablo Casal playing the Cello" pose), hind leg raised high, lick lick... Blech! I give her a little poke and she stops. I start to relax, relax, drifting,,,and she starts up again, lick lick, very moistly, you know?

I can't just throw her out of the room, because if she's with them, the upstairs cats will begin relay races on the hardwood floors just over my bedroom, they sound like ponies on parade up there (remember that Carl Sandburg poem, where he writes about fog moving in on little cat feet? Obviously HE never had cats). I don't know why, but I know from bitter experience that they will make enough noise to keep *everyone* awake all night.

I know she won't quit if she isn't distracted, so I get my little tube of dried Cosmic Catnip and sprinkle a little down by the foot of the bed. WHOO. That gets her attention. Now she's rubbing her face in it, rolling in it, snuffling it up and sneezing, etc. and soon she's...well...mellow. Now I really start to feel sleepy, close, close....

And then I hear her on the floor, biting and riiiipppping at the carpet. Apparently we have tracked in some delightful bit of stinky-ness. This will never do, she has been known to tear a whole patch of carpet into loose threads doing this, so I get up and try to cover that bit of floor with a box, or a throw rug, or whatever I can find. It has to be large enough to cover a fair bit of the floor, because I'm not sure of the precise spot that is so enthralling. Disgusted with me, she retreats to the easy chair.

By now I am wide awake. Every 20 minutes or so I steal a peek at the clock, to see how long I've got until the alarm... maybe I should go ahead and shower now... just give up.... and finally feel so drowsy and warm and the cat is quiet, and and and the alarm goes off.

Sigh. Turns out, when I check her this morning, the cat has, in fact, a nasty raw spot on her bum, infected/ inflammed or maybe abscessed, and so I take her to the vet, who diagnoses an infected anal gland, poor thing....

BUT!! He will keep her overnight so he can treat it after sedating her and THEREFORE

No cat in here tonight!

Hope all of you sleep well too!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My ABEbooks Storefront

  • The Four Readers' Storefront

    To see my Storefront, and search for a title, clink on link above.
    I mostly have science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, and I'm adding more every day.

    Update:  as of May 25th, 2013, the Four Readers store at ABEbooks has been permanently closed.  Thanks for your purchases.
    To see all the books currently available from me, click on link below
  • Inventory of Four Readers
  • Sunday, December 02, 2007

    Sunday sunday

    Ah, a nice rainy relaxing day. We have dinner in the Crock pot, and no need to go anywhere. The dogs are sacked out again, and take up nearly the entire living room floor. I'll go add books to my ABEbooks account. I got the NaBloPoMo badge over there>>>>and did it without crashing my entire template. I'd like to change the looks of this blog, but frankly I don't know how to do that without losing everything, so best to leave everything alone. I even slept fairly well last night, so all in all this is shaping up to be a Good Day. Hope you and yours are fine as well, and staying out of the mad rush at the malls.

    And I won't even THINK about the fiasco that was the WVU vs Pitt game yesterday.....