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September 2005

September 30th, 2005 — 5:59pm

September 2005

30 — I feel a lot more human today, but if I talk I start coughing. Ugh! Last night I made a very good dinner, a Shepherd’s Pie. I modified a recipe that saw online. Here’s how I made mine:

Kayray-style Shepherd’s Pie:
Chop up a handful of green beans, a handful of baby carrots, and an onion. Cook them all together with a pound of ground turkey until the veggies are tender and the turkey is all cooked. I covered the pan so the veggies would cook in their own juice, since the turkey was pretty much fat-free. Stir in some chopped fresh basil and a 15-oz can of tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook uncovered for a while to let some of the juice evaporate so it’s not too wet. MEANWHILE, boil a few potatoes. If they’re large, chunk them. I used three unpeeled russetts. When the potatoes are tender, drain and mash them with some butter, some cream, a shake or two of garlic powder, a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese, some oregano, and a bit of salt and pepper. MMMMMMMM. Ok now spoon the meat/veggies into a greased baking dish, then spread the potatoes over the top. Bake at 375 degrees (Fahrenheit) for about 30 minutes. There was enough for three hungry people plus a leftover serving for Dan’s lunch tomorrow. All three of us liked this dinner — astonishing :)

29 — The summer weather finally arrived, after a cold July, August, and September. Suddenly it’s hot and very, very dry, which is not helping my cold. I felt pretty awful all day, and since Henry spent the day with his dad, I spent the day lying in bed listening to Loveline until it was time to teach my piano students. Then Henry came home and I watched him and his turtle swim in the pool :) There are few sights cuter than that. Crush is a fast swimmer and really seems to enjoy touring around the pool. My MacMice MicFlex USB Microphone arrived today, so I’m eager for this stupid cold to clear up so I can record some more public domain audiobooks. My Smartwrap cable managers came too, so now my earbuds aren’t all tangley. I highly recommend if you need to buy anything Mac-related!!

28 — Still sick, my cold has landed in my head and chest. Yuck.

27 — Happy birthday, dear Henry! We had a great day. Dan woke us up early so Henry could open his presents before Dan went to work, and then Henry built one of his new Lego models while I rested a little more. Then we got up and I helped him connect his new iPod to his computer, and showed him how to manage his playlists and podcasts and stuff. Gerry came over and gave Henry a turtle in a tank, and set her up for him and everything! She’s a nice turtle, named Crush. Then Henry went off to spend the day with Matthew and I did house stuff and played a bit of WoW on my new computer, and recorded the last part of my librivox assignment, and then did the encoding and catting and uploading etc. And then I realized that Strangelove didn’t have lame, and didn’t have fink, etc, so Rob helped me install all that goood linuxy stuff, mmmm linux! Also submitted a photo for the TFTF “Motion” assignment. Still mildly sick. Dan had to work very very late tonight but I managed to stay awake til he got home :)

25 — Still sick. Dan and I worked on installing all the software I need. Time consuming. But Strangelove is all set up now, with all my favorite software — and it can even run World of Warcraft! So for the first time ever I can play on my very own computer, without asking the guys if I can use one of theirs :)

24 — Still somewhat sick ugh. Henry went to Daneesha’s birthday party at the bowling alley and got to play with the girls at their house afterwards. I worked on getting Strangelove (windows/linux desktop box) set up, software updates etc. Haven’t used it since we moved here in April, but finally got Dan to carry the old monitor upstairs for me. But then, while I was beating iTunes into submission… it went into a rebooting cycle. In the past it would sometimes spontaneously reboot but this time it just kept rebooting over and over. Dan tried to fix it but it was no use. Poor Strangelove.

But then Dan said we had to go to Fry’s :) And when we got there he bought me a lovely new 17″ iMac! I am so happy! It’s just the most beautiful computer. We named it Strangelove… I know that’s a little odd, but I’m just so used to that name for my desktop computer. So from now on when I refer to Strangelove, it means a lovely iMac, not a rickety old windows/ linux box :)

23 — Sore throat a lot better, still sick, ugh.

22 — Last night around bedtime I came down with a horrible sore throat, absolutely dreadful. Hurt badly all night, ugh, still bad this morning. Dan cancelled my piano students for me, and Mom is picking up the housework slack. Everyone is sweet to me. Mom and Henry went horseback riding this morning so all I have to do is lie here and rest.

21 — I learned how to take several small .mp3 files and make them into one larger one. Dan was right — cat did the job. I made three small test files — test1.mp3, test2.mp3, and test3.mp3. Each one just has me saying “test 1” e.g. Then I did this command: “cat test* > test123.mp3” and the result was a new file, test123.mp3, which, when played, has me saying “test1 test2 test3”. Yay, I love learning new things! Now I can record Psmith’s adventures in much smaller segments and not worry about straining my iBook :) Chapters 7 and 8 are complete!

Henry and I walked to the pharmacy this morning to pick up my synthroid. Very nice walk. The weather changed a few days ago, and we have that nice Fall feeling in the air. Not sure if it’s a smell, or a change in humidity, or the angle of the sun, or what, but whatever it is, it’s lovely. Oh, we watched “It Happened One Night” together, too. Great movie! And we went to the library. Henry got a stack of books about paper airplanes, and I got Part 1 of “The History of English” on cd. YAY!

20 — Massive thunderstorm last night! An incredible crack of thunder woke me at about midnight; Dan was still reading and I asked him what that sound was — didn’t recognize it as thunder right away. It sounded like the storm was directly over our house! Thunderstorms are rare here; there might be one every couple of years, way off in the distance over the mountains, so it was exciting to have one so close that it rattled our house! I got up to check on Henry (sound asleep) and close windows. Went outside to see if I could see an actual lightning but it was raining so I came back in. The lighting flashes were so bright that they lit up our bedroom through the curtains! I went back to sleep but the thunder woke me up several more times before morning, and the power flickered a few times too. Once it was off long enough for the UPS to beep, but it always came back. Yay for SDG&E!

I’ve been working slowly on my librivox recordings. It’s rare for this house to be quiet enough for interruption-free recording, what with piano lessons, electric bass, loud music, people stamping across the floor above my room, doors banging, etc, but I got a chapter done on the weekend when no one was home, and another chunk done last night. I’m recording into Sound Studio and then will convert to mp3 with lame. My poor little iBook is having trouble dealing with the very large .aiff file that Sound Studio puts out… it takes 30 seconds to save the file and it’s less than half done… I’d like to record in smaller separate .aiffs, convert, and the glue the resulting mp3s together but I’m not sure how. Dan says either cat or dd might work, so I’ll experiment with those tomorrow.

19 — The weather has changed; it’s got that autumnal feel now. I love it. The change is extremely subtle and I wonder if people who’ve moved here from places where that have actual WEATHER can notice the difference. H and I went to legoland for a few hours this morning. Nice and empty there, rode the best rollercoaster (Technic Test Track) over and over. I tried out the Knights’ Tournament ride, which Henry loves, but did not care for it. It was merely uncomfortable, not fun at all. Then home, did housework, played with Henry, taught piano students, drove H to the gym to play racquetball with Dan after work, home, burritos for dinner, bedtime. The new season of Arrested Development began tonight — it did not disappoint :)

18 — Sunday, movie day! Dan and I watched the new Final Fantasy movie on his laptop — better than the first FF movie, truly amazing animation, light on plot, heavy on crazy fight scenes. Entertaining. They sure do know how to animate hair and alienated young men. Loved the scene where all the characters launched Cloud higher and higher toward the big bad boss monster. Physics, be damned! Then Dan played GTA while I watched The Snake Pit (1948, Olivia De Havilland). Amazing movie. I saw it years ago and remembered it as being extremely good — I was right, it is :) Highly recommended. And then Henry came home and brought Prizoner of Azkaban with him so we watched that! Not as good as I remembered, but it had some moments.

17 — I sort of wanted a USB microphone so that my librivox audiobooks would sound clear and not have any extra noise, but they’re hard to find. Fry’s was out, Best Buy was out, and I wanted to start recording TODAY, so I just got down on the floor, put my laptop on the coffee table, and spoke as near the built-in mic as I could. I did the first of my Psmith chapters and it turned out well! I’m trying VERY hard to speak slowly and clearly. It’s really thrilling to be part of this project! I’ll let you know when my chapters are podcast :)

16 — Feeling a bit better, yay! Henry and I went to the library this morning and I discovered that our branch has several of the “The Teaching Company” lecture series on cd!!! I got part 2 of “The History of English” and asked them to let me know when part 1 is returned. Maybe there’s a part 3 to look forward to, I’m not sure. Anyway we put the first disk and listened while we drove to Encinitas for yarn (decided to make Henry a Harry Potter scarf). It’s a wonderful! So extremely interesting. We did the grocery shopping and then when we got home Henry played with Eric and I finished lining Sal’s curtains (while listening to The History of English of course!).

I started Henry’s scarf this afternoon while listing to more English. I’m using the guidelines at, using a Gryffindor color scheme. It’s going very fast so far, despite being a tube. It’s really nice to have a knitting project again!

15 — There has been a peculiar smell in our bedroom for the last few days, a foul smell that seemed to come and go. Last night we thought it might be a garbage smell drifting in through the window, but even after the garbage was moved it was still noticable. Tonight we decided something must have died in our room, and Dan got ambitious and started moving furniture around to see if he could find it. Moved the bed, nothing. Moved the dresser, nothing. Yet the stench seemed strongest in that part of the room. So we sniffed at the power outlet and discovered that whatever died, died in the wall. ICK. The smell was so bad and so strong I felt ill. Dan unplugged everything from that outlet and covered it thoroughly with packing tape to block the stench. The smell is gone, yay! I hope it won’t drift through the wall and emerge at some other outlet, but it hasn’t so far. We had so much fun tracking down the smell — we were laughing and goofing around and having a fine time! Who would think that tracking down a foul odor could be so much fun? :)

14 — Still feeling tired and yucky, mostly lay on the sofa and hung out with Henry today. He played Pokemon Colusseum quite a lot, but I made sure we did some educational stuff too (not that Pokemon Colusseum isn’t educational…) We listened to some good podcasts together (mugglecast and doctor floyd) and I showed him how to download and install new casts on my ipod, a skill that might come in handy for him sometime. We read quietly together for a while. We also went out in the backyard so he could practice making numerals with sidewalk chalk. We started doing that yesterday, since I’d noticed he’s still having a little trouble making nice, uniform numerals on paper when we do math and I thought maybe making LARGE ones with chalk might help. I already see an improvement! I also read him the last two chapters of Prince Caspian while he played with his Legos and put on various costumes :)

13 — I’ve been hunting for interesting podcasts over the last few weeks and have found quite a few. Here’s a list of the good ones:

tips from the top floor — digital photography tips and tricks, and LOT more
a good read — pleasant book reviews
librivox — collaborative, public-domain ebooks — volunteer readers needed!
mugglecast — discussion of Harry Potter books and movies. Henry loves this one :)
NPR books — “NPR book reviews, news and author interviews — for people who love to read.”
NPR movies — “NPR reports, interviews and reviews about the movies — and the people who make them.”
science friday — science friday with Ira Flatow!
the radio adventures of doctor floyd — extremely funny, entertaining, and educational!
the secrets of harry potter — Fr. Roderick explores themes and symbols in the books of J.K. Rowling. Henry and I love this one. Father Roderick seems so nice, and his analyses are thoughtful and interesting.
the star wars chronicles — more Father Roderick, this time talking about Star Wars :) Excellent!

12 — Discovered LibriVox — a project for making collaborative audiobooks from public-domain texts. The first book was “The Secret Agent” (first 5 chapters are on my ipod right now) and they’re now taking volunteers to read something by Dostoyevsky and “Psmith in the City” by P.G. Wodehouse! I volunteered for Wodehouse, of course. Very exciting project!

Felt tired and yucky all day — PMS probably. Henry and I went out to buy water and use our September “free vidogame rental” coupon to rent Pokemon Colusseum, which he then played all day. Apparently it’s a very fun game :) And I listened to loveline on my iPod while cleaning the house. And Dan came home a little bit early!

11 — Dan and I went out to do a little birthday shoppping for a wonderful boy :) I’ll say no more in case a wonderful boy is reading this!

10 — We had Henry’s birthday party today! It went really well, and I think everyone had a nice time. Fargo came early — about 10, and Matthew brought Henry over (he had spent the night at Matthew’s) so the boys could play all day. The rest of the guests (Nathan, Laura, Cassidy, Cierra, and Daneesha) arrived around 3:00 and everyone jumped in the pool and swam. I didn’t think it was warm enough but I guess it was warm enough for kids! Heh. Matthew and Dan helped keep an eye on everyone and no one drowned. When swimming was over, the kids broke up into groups doing stuff… Daneesha and the boys and I watched each other playing video games, Henry worked on one of his new Bionicles, and the rest of the kids circulated for a while and then went back in the pool. And then everyone got hungry so Dan went out and got the pizza and we all ate, and then we did the pinata (YU-GI-OH, filled with Legos and candy) and the cake (cheesecake, with really great striped candles that Matthew brought). And then at 6:00 most of the kids got picked up but Fargo stayed til 7, and then Matthew and Henry went home. And then I went to bed, totally exhausted. Very successful day :)

09 — Bought a plain white t-shirt and some iron-on letters and made a “VOTE FOR PEDRO” for Henry, so he has something to open from us tomorrow. It turned out awesome! We’ll give him the rest of his presents on his actual birthday.

08 — Looks like paperclip is ok — pthree heard from a former gf of his who’d tracked him down to Oklahoma. *whew* Paperclip, let us know if you need anything!

Called the dr about Henry’s eye (kinda puffy and discolored, along with slight cold symptoms) and she said not to worry about it unless it gets dramatically red or he runs a fever. The swelling is down today, and his cold seems almost better, so his party should go as planned on Saturday! We did grocery shopping today and I sewed Henry a purple velour shirt to match his pants and shorts. He suddenly decided to learn Napoleon Dynamite’s dance and, after dinner, used google to track down a clip of Napoleon’s dance and worked on imitating him for a couple of hours before bed. Tomorrow he plans to dance along with the DVD :) I love his singleminded determination!

06 — Happy birthday Chloe :)

05 — Does anyone know if Joseph Vitosky, aka paperclip, is ok? Paperclip, where are you? #palmchat is worried. Joseph is a resident of New Orleans and the owner of Mary Jane’s Emporium, 1229 Decatur St. New Orleans LA 70116. Please contact me if you have any information about him or his family. Thanks.

04 — Please, everyone, donate to The Red Cross. Help the people of the Gulf Coast. Reading about all the other nations who are sending money, supplies, and manpower chokes me up. Thank you everyone, all over the world.

I’ve discovered a podcast which I really love. It’s Chris Marquardt’s “Tips From The Top Floor” — tips and tricks for the digital photographer. I’ve listened to all the more recent episodes (available through iTunes) and plan to download all the back episodes soon, too. I’ve learned a lot already!

03 — Dan and I had a nice quiet day in our comfortable, safe house. God we’re lucky. We watched a little tv, played some videogames, played music, did yard work, washed my car, ate pizza…

02 — Happy birthday, Ken :)

Henry and I did charitable good deeds today — assembled and shipped three hurricane survival kits and bought and delivered a big bag of groceries for a local homeschool family that has fallen on hard times. Had a good time together :) Dan bought home new strings for my banjo tonight and changed them for me and cleaned my fretboard. My banjo sounds and feels a lot better now. Everyone else is gone for three days — we have the house all to ourselves!

01 — Hurricane Katrina hit the southeast a day or two ago. The situation is horrific beyond belief. Today a friend gave me an url with instructions on how to make small relief kits so tomorrow Henry and I will create a few and send them on. And of course we’re donating to The Red Cross. I wish there was something more we could do. The scale of the disaster is too immense even to comprehend.

We’re planning Henry’s birthday party and he had a brilliant idea for his pinata — he suggested we fill it with Legos! Then the kids can have fun building with the Legos they pick up, and can take them home as party favors. Dan donated his old tub of Legos, so all we need is a pinata. I think we’ll throw a little candy in too, just in case.

I woke up at 4:30am today for no appparent reason and felt like crapola all day. We took Tickle-Bird to the vet in the morning, since she’s stilll no better. He x-rayed her and says her abdomen is enlarged in a way which suggests liver disease, so we’re to keep on giving her the liver-support powder and try to wean her onto a pellet-based, rather than seed-based, diet.

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