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      Wednesday, October 27, 2021


otherstuff
06:47 AM - 10/27/2021

The topic: A short update

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Everything is fine, Natasha was spayed last week (on Monday, the 18th), she came through it fine, she doesn't need to go back for suture removal. Yay. She's still feeding them, but not nearly as often. Maybe once every other day I'll see all six kittens at the food bar.

The mini Avengers now have the run of the house and I have gotten back possession of my bathroom. Unfortunately, they have figured out the cat doors, which is fine for the garage, but now the laundry room cat door is set to in only because we don't the kittens outside yet. They're not old enough or big enough yet. There's hawks out there...

But having the door set like that, we have to let the cats out. Except Charlie, he has figured out he can hit the cat door and hit the cat door and hit the cat door and eventually it opens in enough so that he can go under it and head outside. Problem is it's very noisy when he does this. And he's usually out for five minutes or less and he's back inside.

I have nicknamed Nooby "Loki" because he's usually in the middle of any kerfuffle. He will just sit and stare at the kittens. And Nat will sit and stare at him staring at her baby beans. He usually gives her wide berth.

The dog is back in bed with us, he's learning that we don't like him growling or barking at the babies unless he's eating. I've started putting him outside when he does. Integration is slow, but it is happening.

I'm working on my holiday card ideas right now, which means I just sit on the sofa and think about how to do what I want to do. Yesterday, I actually started working on one of my ideas and if I can pull it off, it will be awesome. I'm having second thoughts about the little graphic I'm using, I'd like it mirrored. Last night I stamped the graphic on two different kinds of paper and used two different inks to see which one gives me the sharpest image. I will scan the images, mirror them and use my Silhouette Mint to make the graphic how I think it will better work. The nice thing about the Mint is I can resize the image to smaller or larger as needed. I'm gonna try a little bit smaller. This graphic is pretty much the focal part of the card, so it's important I get it right.

I'm getting my Moderna booster shot next week. Yay!

All in all, not a whole lot going on, the mini-Avengers have taken up a lot of my attention. I finally got all of my Lawn Fawn products scanned and categorized. We've watched a couple of movies outside, I'm looking forward to darkness being here earlier so we don't have to wait for it to get dark. We're early to bed folks.

I've noticed that a lot of things that have happened or that I really should have posted about, I haven't. I guess it just seems overwhelming at the time. A couple of weekends ago, someone asked me about the little balloons and boxes I made for the holidays. I couldn't find anything about them in this diary, so I spent hours looking on my hard drives and computers for the information. I really need to play catch up.

I finally walked away from Candy Crush this week. I hit the 5000th level. It's just too easy to buy boosters and there are things I'd rather spend money on. So, I walked away.

And that's it for now.

geekstuff    craftstuff    catstuff    avengers   


      Tuesday, September 14, 2021


geekstuff
08:02 AM - 09/14/2021

The topic: The home theater

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Last week, we watched "Murders Only in the Building" (Hulu) as a test run. I was pretty satisfied with how it went, just a couple of things I wanted to do differently. Last night, we watched Silverado and it was great. (The heat finally broke, so it was pleasant outside.)

Here's what each item cost (taxes not included, since your mileage may vary):

The projector - $71.99 (discount coupon)

 

The screen - $82.14

 

Roku streaming stick - $39.00

 

(November 14, 2021 update)

Not happy with the bluetooth headphone setup, the sound dropped out enough that it was pretty annoying to watch the movie,  I checked the headphones I'd gotten to make sure they could be used as wired.  I found an old Monster iplitter signal splitter that I'd never used. I ordered some 10 foot extension cables. (The projector does have sound, but we don't want to have the neighbors having to listen to our movies, some of the shows are not made for kids.)

When I finally had the opportunity to set them up, I found that the sound volume buttons on the headphones no longer worked. The splitter has controls for each plug, but it's against the projector and clearly not practical for adjusting sound volume. So, I researched volume controls and found these: Inline volume controls. I set the projector volume to maximum, the splitter connection volume to maximum. I connected these between the headphone cord and the extension cable and we're good to go.

Adapter for headphones (so we can use bluetooth), can connect two sets of devices at a time (his and mine) - $29.95

 

Headphones, two sets (the ones we have can only connect to one device at a time and I'm really not inclined to re-pair each time we use them) - $22.09 each

 

The carrying case (this works like a dream, perfect fit for everything, even the extension cords) - $18.99

 

The stand (this was the last thing we needed) - $38.99

 

And a couple of fifteen foot extension cords. I couldn't find any in house and I figured we might as well have a couple of dedicated cords. For two it was $9.98. UPDATE: thirty feet of extension cord was too long, I found a twenty foot cord on Amazon and that works just fine.

We added a blu ray DVD player. Since we have thousands of disks, it's more cost effective to watch those than buy the streaming version. There was a ten dollar coupon for this, as well as being a lightning deal with an additional fifteen dollars off. It was about $66.50.

This is where we'll be  hanging the screen. Over the screen door that leads to the office.This was actually the first step in getting a projector for outside. Where could we put it so that the neighborhood wouldn't be watching with us? We definitely didn't want kids watching stuff like the Deadpool movies...

The screen arrived. It's pretty darned big.

It's installed. This took a fair amount of effort because Brian did not want to place it directly on the house. Remember Tim the Toolman Taylor? That's Brian. There's always a better way. The installation was a two person job and it really sucked because he made metal brackets that he attached to the wood and due to the holes in the brackets, placement of said brackets had to be perfect. It took five tries of us standing on ladders to get it done. The fourth time he had the bracket moved, it was off 1/32 of an inch. And it didn't work. But, finally, success!  We quit for the night because it was late and we were tired.

Installation complete. Pretty unintrusive plus it's out of the weather.

If you look closely (or click on the photo to get to the bigger one), you can see the metal bracket at the right, against the wood.

The pull for the screen. I can't reach it so Brian (my very, very handyman) got a piece of wood that would be long enough for me and made a hook type cutout. It's set beside the door since it's not a big deal if weather hits it.

Last night, doing some more testing before we started the movie. The projector is on the stand that's on the patio table. The photos on the screen are from a slideshow app I just found yesterday. It pulls them from my Google Photos account. It's actually a pretty nice little app. My Roku always choked on photos I had on a USB drive or over the NAS. Any of the third party slideshow apps I did find, cost money and I had to send the photos up to someone elses website. This app was a complete surprise to me. It's free. And I like it. It's called "photo view" and it works with Roku. A couple of months ago I got a warning that we were getting close to using the free data that came with Google mail. Brian sends a lot of photos and gets a lot of photos. I found out that it's only $1.99 a month for 100GB of storage. We aren't even close at this point. Of course, I still have the originals on my system here, but I like slideshows that work.

I am just gobsmacked by how good the images are from this little projector (another photo from the slideshow app).

And here's a pic I took with the crappy camera on my Fire tablet of the movie we were watching. Silverado.

After the movie, I asked Brian was the movie as good as he remembered. Better. The sound was a lot better than before.

So for under $450, we have our own home theater. And I think we're really going to enjoy it.

geekstuff   


      Monday, August 30, 2021


catstuff
02:08 PM - 08/30/2021

The topic: Meet Natasha (and the kids)

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So, on July 24, I saw a cat on the fence. On the other side of the barrier. Tortoiseshell. Long drop to the ground on the other side. I walked out front and called her to me. She came. I brought her food. She ate. Not like she was super hungry, though. And she had a pretty big belly. Obviously pregnant and far enough along that spaying at this point wasn't an option (at least for us). I let her go out back to check out the yard. Nooby and Ike were very curious about her and she was having none of it.

Going with our recent affection for the Marvel Universe, we decided to name her Natasha. After Natasha Romanoff. The Black Widow.

Clicking on a picture will take you to a bigger photo in my family album; clicking on that picture will open a larger photo. You can also see the information for the photos such as when they were taken.


Nat in the catnip - she really liked it before she had babies; hormones?


The top of this fence is where she was. There's a thirty foot drop on the other side.


Keeping her safe from the other cats (and as it turns out, keeping them safe from her), Brian built this lattice door that fits into the bathroom door opening.


Yeah, she's small enough that her head fits through the holes in the lattice.


Her first vet visit was on Friday, July 23. The vet counted six skulls. Said she had about two weeks to birthing.


Front view


Checking out the house


Nipples are getting ready


Look at that belly


Stretched out in the office


And on Tuesday, August 10th, she had her first kitten around 6:15 am. That stuff under her is some of what left her body during childbirth.

I learned some stuff during the birthing. At one point, she was eating something pretty big that came out of her and I was pretty upset, because I was sure it was a kitten. But it wasn't. I found that out when I saw her doing it again. It was the afterbirth. It took her under four hours to have all six kittens.


The babies. Steve, Wanda, Bucky, Carol, Goose and Wendy.


Mom and babies


She trusts me with her kids. She's realized I'm not going to eat them.


The proud mama. Nah, she just wanted more food.


This is Carol. Her eyes had finally opened.


Kittens are getting bigger. It's amazing how fast they grow.


The dog. Let me tell you about the dog. A couple of times before this picture, he got a little too close to the door and she went after him. I mean, she attacked. Now, he has a proper fear of her and keeps his distance. She likes to lay in the middle of the hallway. The bedroom is to her right, the office to her left. And he can't get by. Shortly before I took this photo, we heard barking. He wanted her to move. She wouldn't. I had to let him in the office through the other door.


The photo above of me holding the kitten, Carol? This is Carol yesterday. Ten days later.


Mom with the babies this morning. They're all doing nicely.

I've put videos up on my YouTube Channel.  Go check them out and watch the kittens grow. (This morning's has them trying to get out of the box.)

Tomorrow they'll be three weeks old. Before too long, they'll be all over the house.

Oh, and we've decided to keep them. All of them.

welcome    photos    natasha    catstuff    baby kittens   


      Tuesday, August 24, 2021


otherstuff
08:42 AM - 08/24/2021

The topic: It’s been busy

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So, Little Natasha had six kittens two weeks ago (August 10). I have a bunch of photos and a few videos that I need to sort to upload to my photo album and share here. Being a kitten gramma has sure been a learning experience for me. Hopefully I'll be able to focus enough to do that today. The heat we've been having does affect my concentration, for sure.

I finally got my Lawn Fawn products organized.  Stamps, dies and stencils. I redid everything I started to do earlier this year. I hit a few bumps along the way, most with the printer in the office I have set up with a print server so I can access it wirelessly. And I misplaced one of the dies, one I'd used last month and I spent WAY too much time looking for something I could replace for eight bucks, but I found it. I wasted half of the morning, but gosh darn it, I found it.

We're finally getting a home theater of sorts. I've always thought it would be fun to have a room dedicated to home theater. But that's just a dream, this house isn't set up for anything like that. But...

An outdoor theater! For years I had projectors on my Amazon wish list and earlier this year, removed them. It just wasn't practical. Well, this year, I started to think how fun it would be to sit outside in the evening and watch movies. With climate change, the house gets so warm during the day and we try to keep it cool without running the air conditioner, because that's just so expensive to do. So, we're spending more time outside in the evening. Once the sun sets, it's definitely much more comfortable. 

I've been researching it off and on for years, you know, because it's something that's always interested me.  But there were some things I kept in mind when thinking of how we could do it. Where would we put it? We don't want the screen to be where the neighbors can see it. There are young kids in the house behind us and some of the movies we like wouldn't be fit for children. Language and violence (think Hitman's Bodyguard). And we didn't want the neighbors to hear the sound, obviously we'd need to wear headphones. Which isn't a problem at all. But where would we put it?

I checked out screens and there were three kinds. A pull down screen like we used to have in classrooms back in the dark ages, a screen that has a stand, and a screen that attaches to a wall. Nothing practical, to be honest. Since this was a major part of a movie theater setting, it most likely wouldn't happen here. Not in this house.

So, yesterday morning, I'm eating my cereal at my desk and Bobby wouldn't leave me alone. I got up and went outside to sit at the patio table to be able to eat in peace. As I sat there, I looked around the patio. And I looked toward the office. And it hit me.

A drop down screen would work there. It would cover the sliding door when pulled down, but that's no big deal. When rolled up, it would be under the eaves and out of the weather. If we had wind or breeze, it wouldn't affect the screen, since it would be against a wall. It would be available year round, no set up needed everytime we wanted to watch a movie outside. I asked Brian what he thought. He liked the idea.

His thing was that the neighbors wouldn't be able to see it. Our house is H shaped. The patio is enclosed on three sides. Office on the left, living room at the bottom, kitchen/laundry room on the right and the backyard at the open part of the H. He said "go for it'. So, I ordered a dropdown screen, a projector, an adapter for the headphone jack on the projector so we can use bluetooth headsets (which we already have) and a new Roku stick. So, for around $300.00, we have a new set up.

Brian did ask that I look for a new light fixture for the patio wall outside of the office, since the one that's there sticks out. I found a fairly flat one, only sticks out about two inches and he believes he can get that one to work.

So, that's something else to look forward to.

Oh, I'm not really clear on if we're keeping the kittens or not. The vet's office will help to rehome them if we decide to go that way. Brian is adamant that if we keep one, we keep them all. We don't speak of this. But every once in a while, he'll say something that leads me to believe he's leaning towards keeping them.

Just so much going on, yet our lives are still the most boring ones I know of. Like Mike Bryce says in "the Hitman's Bodyguard" - "boring is best".

And speaking of movies, we have a bunch of streaming services. My first was from Walmart. You would take DVDs (there was a list of disks that they would work with) to a brick and mortar location and they would convert them to streaming and you could watch using the service "UltraViolet" and some sort of media streaming device, like a Roku. Well, along the line the streaming service Vudu started. I used my same email to login to Ultraviolet and Vudu. Ultraviolet stopped and was rebranded (something along those lines) as "Vudu". Coming to find out, that Vudu was actually owned by
Walmart.

So, I had two Vudu service logins. Walmart Vudu and Vudu Vudu. Then Roku starts carrying a movie and television service, Fandangonow. I signed up for that with my same email address. The thing about the different streaming services is that each one has licensing for their platforms with certain distributors. And they don't share all of the movies you purchase across all platforms. Most movies do share across platforms (Google movies, Amazon prime, Vudu, Movies Anywhere, Vudu, etc), but not all. For instance, I bought the complete James Bond collection of 24 high def movies for $100 on Fandangonow, that we could only watch on Fandangonow.

Earlier this year, the news came out that Fandangonow and Vudu were merging. This came into effect at the beginning of this month. Customers had to set up the move themselves, but it should be pretty easy to do. When I realized the 30% discount for one service after merging accounts wasn't showing up, I contacted Vudu. It took two weeks to resolve. It took three levels of their customer service to get it done.

First I was told that the system didn't know which Vudu to move my account to. The Walmart Vudu or the Vudu Vudu. Second level technical service cancelled the Walmart Vudu account (which I was under the impression had happened a while back). I still couldn't merge the accounts. The phone support no longer worked correctly. They weren't answering the support forms filled out on their website. I left a message on their Facebook DMs with no response. I left message on their Twitter support account. And that's who finally helped me out.

I was escalated to tier three support. And last week I was told the problem was they couldn't locate a Fandangonow account with my email address. Just my luck, this level doesn't work on the weekends, so I had time to research when I bought movies from them, the last four digits of the credit card on my account, and a screen shot of the email I got after purchasing a movie from them.

And yesterday? I got an email that my Fandangonow account had been verified. I merged the accounts. Used my 30% discount to get the UHD version of "The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard".

First world problems, am I right?

outdoor theater    craftstuff    catstuff   


      Sunday, August 08, 2021


catstuff
08:04 AM - 08/08/2021

The topic: Hey, we rescued another cat!

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And she's gonna have at least six kittens any day now.

More later. With pictures.

kittens    catstuff   


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lisaviolet is sixty something, married with no kids, takes care of lots of cats, likes taking photographs, loves Southern California weather and spends altogether too much time avoiding her responsibilities.

In her spare time, she makes pretty things to sell in her store.

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