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      Wednesday, March 01, 2023

10:18 AM - 03/01/2023

The topic: It’s cold. Not a fan.

I just don't like it. It's hard for me to get moving when I can't feel my fingers. Sure, we have a furnace but it runs on natural gas and guess whose utility company has some of the highest rates in the county? (We DO have the highest electric rates in the country.)

Us! We do! And gee whiz, wouldn't you know that surprise surprise! Our company just realized they made record profits last year! More money for the shareholders, they're gonna up the dividend! (We have a whole two shares, that I bought in a snit because I suck at stock picks and they always tank, I figured I'd tank theirs, but it didn't work.)

Anyway, we've had some pretty crappy weather this year so far. Barely time to dry out from one storm when the next one hits. The trees like it. It should help with their health.

I've been kind of busy the past couple of weeks. Brian traveled up to Tulare last month (on Valentine's Day!) for the world ag show. He does this for business, but like the past couple of times he's gone, there were no new tractors to look at and the folks manning the booths were clueless as to the future products. All in all, a waste of time for him. But not me!

I got a wild hair up my butt to find a new a/v receiver. Not that I used the old one for video, just audio. The one we have is decades old and the remote doesn't work. I have it set up for surround sound (can you believe I'm still using speakers I had before we got married back in 1985?)  Anyway, I did a bunch of research and came up with a Denon unit. One of the reasons I hadn't updated yet was for a while, you couldn't find one of these with phono inputs. And now that turntables and vinyl are coming back into vogue, it's fairly easy to find a receiver with phono inputs. So, I narrowed down my choice to two Denon receivers. I figured out what I'd actually need for what I already had and realized I didn't need all the inputs on the higher priced machine, that the smaller one would do just fine. The choices were an AVR-S760H and an AVR-S970H. At the time, the S760 also had a $100.00 discount, so a difference of $150.00. But wait...I checked the price on the CostCo site and the S760 was only $399.00. That's when I really started thinking about what I needed and didn't need.

I use a switch box for the various devices that are sent to the receiver. You know, television, DVD player, cable, etc. What I have hooked up to the receiver are the switchbox, 100+ CD player, two CD recorders (got those to make mix discs for the car, before computers could do it), a dual cassette player/recorder and the turntable. So, five devices. I could pull out the cassette player and the CD recorders. Leaving me with three that would connect directly to the receiver. And that's all I needed. Still on the fence, I found a webpage that had a comparison between the two systems.

Okay, so I can live with just two analog inputs, the switchbox and the CD player (the phono has a separate input because the turntable needs a pre-amp). With a savings of around two hundred and fifty dollars, I decided I could get the receiver from CostCo.  I wasn't going to pay for it from the household fund, but with the incentive card we got from the state earlier this year. I waited until Brian got home on Wednesday to ask what he thought. "It's your money."  I bought the thing. I

So, the next day I started pulling out stuff I'd just been dumping in the cabinet. Like glasses, pet brushes, it had just become a minor catchall. I rarely used the receiver for anything at this point. I pushed the power button on the receiver. No response. I figured there must be a problem with the plug. Brian pulled the center away from the wall and I started following cords. Which one was for the receiver?  It was over an hour later when I discovered the problem. One of those types of things that would have you banging your head on the wall.

LAST YEAR I SET IT UP WITH A SMART PLUG! I NEEDED TO ASK ALEXA TO TURN THE DAMNED THING ON! No wonder it wouldn't start. I removed the smart plug, plugged the receiver into the power strip and it turned on. I took the smart plug back into the office where Brian was working and held it up. I said "smart plug"  then tapped myself on the forehead and said "not so smart plug".  Walked out shaking my head.

Now that the center was out from the wall, I took advantage and started removing everything but the turntable. For the CD player, I couldn't find where it plugged in. I had Brian come hold the receiver (it's super heavy) pulled out from the shelf and found the cord, followed it as far as I could, and found that it plugged in to the back of the receiver.  Wow! Who knew (as I said, this was set up decades ago)? And had somehow come loose and was just kind of connected. It took a little wiggling around to completely disconnect. Anyway, got that disconnected and the receiver pushed back in. Just for kicks, I tried the remote.

It worked. The damned thing worked. I sat down and digested this. Since the old receiver now works, do I really need the new one? The one still in the never opened box in the extra room? The one that cost, with tax, $430? No, I do not. It will be returned to CostCo next week, the refund applied to the debit card used to pay for it.

There were a few issues. When I had the CD player reconnected and tried to play a disk, I got an error message. Google being a very close friend, I asked it about this problem. And it gave me some leads on fixing it. Most of them described a belt stretching out and coming loose. Okay. I checked out Amazon for replacement belts and ordered a set. For around fourteen bucks. It would take a few days to get here, give me time to get set up. Some of the people discussed getting O rings at a hardware store for under a dollar. Okay. I'll check with Brian on that, cancel the Amazon order.

I opened up the CD case. Looking for the belt. There was nothing. No belt. The fixit solutions all made it sound like the belt would be right there, in my face. I couldn't find it. Back to Google. I found a youtube video that showed how to replace the belt. I paused the video. I looked at my player. There was no belt. What there was, was a bunch of black goo. I mean, I'm talking major ick. I touched it with my fingers, which coated them with said goo. Brian was back in his shop at this point and I walked back, with my hand in the air. I asked him "how would I remove this black goo that's in place of the belt?"

Yeah, of course, he had to come inside and see what I was talking about. He'd never seen or heard of such a thing. He looked inside the machine and unscrewed the guides at the top. Now the problem area could be slid over to work on. He was just as amazed as I was. I found that rubbing alcohol would remove this (this goo is a real thing!). I have that! I can do this!

It took hours. Once I had it cleaned, I let Brian know and he checked his O ring stock, nothing he had would work, he went over to his brother's house and he found a few that might work. He came home, put the O ring on, put the case back together and now it worked properly. Yay!

I also reinstalled one of the CD recorders. I realized that I could record from the turntable to this recorder and since I had the room, why not?

I replaced the old switchbox, now I can add eight devices, changed out the optical splitter (receiver, headphones, soundbar, switchbox) and upgraded to a newer version of the adapter for the RCA to the switchbox. I also attached an Amazon Echo input (that I can use the MyMedia app to pull music from my NAS) and bought a Chromecast Audio from Walmart online (third party seller, Google has discontinued selling them) so I can cast music (using the Plex app) from my Android phone. And there's the streaming that the Denons have that this old receiver doesn't.

Brian was an absolute angel. I'd ask him to pull out the center from the wall. Then I'd do what I needed to do. Promise I was done. Then I wasn't. I kept coming up with something else I needed to do. The only time he balked was when I needed a bigger hole in the center wall behind the receiver. He was so afraid of cutting wires, but he was a champ and got it done.  I do have one thing left to do and that's move the turntable to the shelf above (on top of the CD player). But I'm in no hurry at this point.

And I ordered a replacement remote from eBay. It should be here today.


11:45 AM - 03/01/2023

The topic: Watching tv last night

Brian tells me about a phone call he got.

His phone rings. He answers.

"This is Brian" he says.

A woman's voice on the other end starts yelling "wait! wait! don't hang up!" It's from a local area code, so he waits.

He listens, not saying anything.

She starts talking, he hears the word  "medicare".

He hangs up.


      Thursday, March 02, 2023

05:56 AM - 03/02/2023

The topic: A few years ago

In the past, I've read stories of how crows become friendly, I guess you could call it, with people who feed them. I wanted to be like a Disney princess and have the crows love me and leave me presents like I read they had for other people.

I started buying peanuts in the shell. This was a few years ago and daily nut tosses weren't getting me very far. I'd call the birds, but they didn't show up. Honestly, there are more homes in this neighborhood where they get food. But the past month?

They've been waiting for me in the morning! They roost in the pine trees around the house, calling. And I deliver.

I took a video.


      Friday, March 03, 2023

05:52 AM - 03/03/2023

The topic: Speaking of birds

We have two bird feeders out front (besides the peanuts for the crows).  One at each side of the house.

We have the tall pine trees on the bank out front and for the past couple of years, Brian has planted, or just let grow, a couple of bushes. Well, the bushes make fine nesting areas for the birds. (You can see some of the bushes in the crow video). The birds can go deep inside the bushes and it's pretty safe for them.

Because of this, the feeders are almost always busy and empty quickly. A couple of days ago Brian grabbed the bucket of birdseed and took the bigger feeder down. The one on the side of the house where the bedroom is. He opens it up. There's a nest inside with three eggs. Oops.

He doesn't fill it (obviously), but hangs it back up. I posted about this on Facebook and someone asked if the mom was still around.

I walked outside and sure enough, she was inside of the bird feeder, sitting on the nest.

Because of the storm we had Tuesday, with the heavy rain (over half an inch) and incredibly strong winds blowing everything around, I was concerned there may have been a problem with the nest. I can see it from the bedroom window and I could see her tail feathers sticking out from the back of the nest.

So, there will be babies.

Yay! Spring!

nests    birds   

      Saturday, March 04, 2023

06:30 AM - 03/04/2023

The topic: Yeowch, sore shoulders this morning

I've mentioned over the past few years how I haven't been so gung ho about cleaning. Anything. Fortunately, I keep up with the laundry. Thinking back to the mess the extra room was, with clean laundry piled high from years of not feeling like putting it away "just now". (I have kept that room neat since the big cleanup.)

For a while, I tried running two botvacs (one for one side of the house with the dining room, family room, and living room, and one for the bedroom, bathrooms, and office) for the floors, but due to our floor configuration, they weren't any more human efficient than just pulling out the vacuum. Cords, throw rugs, cat toys, chairs had to be moved because the vacuums would get stuck between the legs...may as well vacuum you know?  My old vacuum was an old-style upright, heavy and the brush area was pretty wide. Last year I got a Shark Rotator Pet Plus Upright from Meh (refurbished) for $99.00.  I used it once in the office, then just put it in the closet. But I started using it again and I love it (as far as I could love anything that involves cleaning, which is absolutely NOT my favorite thing in the world to do). It's amazingly lightweight and does a bang up job of cleaning. For some reason, we get a lot of dusty dirt and then there's the stuff the critters bring in on their fur. Because it's so light, it doesn't kill my lower back. I can get the entire house (well, not counting the office) in under an hour.

Thursday, I dusted and vacuumed. And cleaned one section of a kitchen counter.

Our counters are white tile with (*koff*) white grout.  Well, they're supposed to have white grout. If you didn't know better, you'd think it was brown grout. A few weeks ago I read of a really super easy way to clean them. Baking soda and peroxide. So, I ordered a gallon of peroxide, ask Brian to buy me a large sized baking soda container next time he shopped and some brushes to scrub with. And I did a small area Thursday afternoon.

Oh, my gosh! So clean!  I was so happy with the result, that I got to work yesterday morning on more counters. I got most of them done yesterday, and today I will finish. And I'm going to see how well soaking parts of the stove come clean soaking in peroxide. It will be nice to have a clean counter and stove. Which won't last long with Brian, for sure. I don't know how he does it, but he can sure get those counters sticky.

I like that I'm feeling more like cleaning. I think maybe with the bad hip for so long, I got depressed about not being able to walk and just kind of descended into not giving a shit. I hope that will all be behind me.

Really looking forward to a clean house.

07:44 AM - 03/04/2023

The topic: Taxes

The federal government has pushed the deadline for filing taxes in some areas of California back. To October 16th! The state had already done so.

Yay! This should give us enough time to figure out how we're gonna pay them this year. Last year was a super good year and you know the ant and the grasshopper story?

I'm a grasshopper. But I bought enough stuff that I didn't need then that I might need now, so I already have it! Yay me! I don't store money, I store stuff! (I kind of went a little nuts because things had been tight for a while, I should have known better, but too late now.)

The deadline has been moved due to the storms we've had. San Diego County is on the list.

money management   

      Friday, March 10, 2023

06:10 AM - 03/10/2023

The topic: This and that

Shew, I miss having the house open with fresh air blowing in. All this rain! This afternoon, this evening, tomorrow, next week...

Although yesterday was pretty nice. I got Stinky Dawg shaved down a little (it takes days to finish because I don't push it with him) and he got a bath. Now, he's Little Bitty Dawg once again. I'm thoroughly entertained when he's drying off and running all over the place. He's happy.

This was a fairly eventless week.

On Friday, I scrubbed more of the kitchen counters. Saturday, even more.  I finished with them on Sunday and boy, they look nice! I did find out when soaking the stove parts that peroxide does not melt the burnt-on grease as well as bleach.

Last weekend I put my hair in a ponytail on top of my head and cut it off. It's short. It's layered. I have bedhead in the morning. It's super flat on the right side.  But, damn, it's great to not have it hanging in my face when I bend down. I've been threatening to do this for a while now and last weekend, after hearing me complain once again about this "f*cking hair" when I was putting the foam in the office doorway to keep the dog out, he said, "why don't you just cut it?" I thought on it a while and asked if he'd cry if I did, and he said no. Then I asked if I cried after I did it would he hold me? He said "yes". 

So, I cut it. It's a ton nicer.

I caught up on the paperwork. Reconciling the bank account, I realized I never did that last month. At the end of last year, we got a notice from the bank that they were going to start charging six dollars for mailed copies of the statements each month or I could opt out and just print them out. Not a problem.

Except I forgot that this was happening. No problem, since I've been pretty good at keeping on top of this now, I had both done in less than half an hour.

I went shopping with Brian on Wednesday! We went to CostCo. Spent over six hundred dollars when taking in the full tank of gas. Over a hundred of that was on meat. Frozen burger patties, ground beef, roast, and a thing of Jimmy Dean sausage.  The ground beef, roast and sausage will be split and I'll use the Foodsaver to repackage it for freezing. It will probably last at least four months. The split roasts are small and I weigh the ground beef out (twelve ounces each) for packaging. I cut back on the amount I serve years ago.

We also got the receiver I ordered returned with no problem. Money is back on the card.

It was pretty nice getting out of the house and in public without a mask. I felt almost human.

I finished reading King's Fairytale this week. I liked it. I never finished the Tower Series since I wanted to start over again. I was going to do that next, but decided to re-read Shadowland, then the Talisman (Straub and King and Jack Sawyer's first appearance) and hit the Tower books. I'm looking forward to it.

I cleaned out a drawer yesterday. A bathroom drawer that had scrunchies and clips and headbands and all sorts of hair stuff. I won't throw it out, I put it in a container that Brian will put up in the rafters in the garage. I kept some of the small clips and the headbands because I'm pretty sure I can use those. Yay, me! Now, to tackle my closet and drawers (I have clothes that I wore before I met Brian - in 1985). I think it's safe to say I won't be wearing those ever again.

I tried taking a video with my little Elura 100 for Brian last weekend and it's dead. I found another on eBay for less than sixty bucks, I bought it. The seller had a bad rating, 97%. I checked the feedback and there were only forty-eight for the past year. Forty-seven stellar reviews and one negative. This camera was half the price of other sellers, so I jumped on it. It got here Wednesday and there's nothing wrong with it.

I got the final pieces of the holiday cards cut out. Now all I have to do is assemble them. Heh.

And that's this week's wrap-up. Nothing major (except for maybe the hair thing). It was a pretty uneventful week, just like most of them anymore.

little bitty dawg    craftstuff   

07:04 AM - 03/10/2023

The topic: There are a few movies we watch over and over again

One of them is "Logan Lucky".  We've watched it so many times we're getting really good at the dialog.

Like Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) telling the Logan brothers "you Logans must be as simpleminded as people say you are". Brian said that this is one of his favorite Daniel Craig characters.

Anyway, I saw an ad for a series "Daisy Jones and the Six" on Amazon Prime. And I was thinking "she looks familiar, she looks like Mellie Logan" and I did a little research.

It is! Riley Keough.

I look her up. She's the granddaughter of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Lisa Marie's daughter.

Also, Dennis Quaid's son plays "Fish Bang".

Just a couple of fun facts.

If you haven't seen it, it's a really fun movie.


      Tuesday, March 28, 2023

07:33 AM - 03/28/2023

The topic: The past couple of weeks have sure tried my patience.

Major laptop problems. The Windows software for security (Windows Defender) uses up a ton of resources and slows down the computer. Not so bad on the PC, but the laptop?  At times it uses almost thirty percent of what's available.

And my router comes with built in security. Okay, great.

The thing with Defender is you. Can. Not. Disable. Or. Remove. It.

The only way to make it stop is by installing a third party software. I spent hours looking for one, finally settled on the one that used the least resources, next to Kaspersky, the one which has a very strong warning not to use because Russia. Kaspersky is supposed to be one of the best and this was pretty disheartening. So, I went with another that shall not be named. (TotalAV - there, I named it.)

It wouldn't install properly. I was beyond frustrated. Trying to get it to install, I ended up really screwing up the laptop. It got to the point where I was "to hell with it" and deleted it. Asked for a refund (only $29 for a year on three systems), but I was salty and have no further intention of using it. I was told "okay, we won't renew the account in a year". No, I want my money back now. I hadn't had it for even a week, I want the money back. It took more back and forths than it should have, I finally pointed out a website that said it was a great software, but wasn't right for them and they got all of their money back without a problem. Said "maybe I should ask these people how they did it".

Money refunded.

Anyway, I couldn't get my laptop to work properly, so I had to do a clean install of the operating system. And it's taken over a week to finally get it to where I'm ready to clone the damned thing in case this happens again. It really annoys how much time just waiting for things to move along wastes. A week and a half, gone.

Time to catch up. There's paperwork needs to be done.

The birdfeeder with the nest in it now has babies. Brian saw them the other day when we hadn't seen mom in it and he took it down to clean it up and put more birdseed in it. Three babies. No birdseed. Still only one feeder outside that's feeding these guys and it empties out quickly.

Cats have done well in the gopher field. Caught one of the Avenger boys chomping on remains last week and yesterday opened the bathroom door to find a small gopher head had been pushed under. Guess gopher heads are great hockey pucks.

More rain on the way. The trees are still thrilled. We got our water bill. We only used five units in a two month period. The bill is $86.24. $56.81 of that we have no choice, it's the baseline charge for having the meter. I like small water bills. Much nicer than the ones in the summer and fall that are over four hundred.

And that's about it. The laptop is doing a final refrag right now (Windows stores data in a random manner, like putting socks away; one in this drawer, the other in that drawer - defragging moves the data so that the socks are in the same drawer), then I'll clone do the clone to an external drive.

So, have a great day and if it's wet where you are? Stay dry.

geekstuff    catstuff   

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lisaviolet is seventy 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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