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User Journal

Journal Journal: I know, I know... 2

what the heck business do I have showing up after all this time, right?

I'm really just here to put the word out about someone's new journal who I think will fit right in with the crowd here. I think he's pretty remarkable, and humble to boot, so someone has to speak up for him. Goodness knows I'd never have the nerve to do what he's doing.

Plus he makes a really fine latte when he puts his mind to it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm back 1

Well, sort of, anyway. We've all had various flus since the end of December, stopping only long enough for childbirth. Then there was jaundice. Then we all got sick again. Including the baby.

So here's Zoe Frances. She looks just like Rhys did at this age, except she's got brown eyes instead of the blue he was born with, and she weighed 10 ounces less. I thought about photoshopping a current pic of Rhys to see what Zoe will look like when she's 3.5, but I'm afraid it would come out looking like a Richard James album cover.

And since I don't think I've ever posted a pic of the world's cutest three year old here, here's his Christmas pic.

Obviously I won't be posting nearly as much since my hands will be full, and I have a couple of jobs that I wanted to get done before Zoe arrived that I didn't get done due to being sick.

User Journal

Journal Journal: I'm dumping Photodump 3

I'm dumping I've had a paid account with them for a few months now, and I have only been able to log in about half the times I've tried. They're watermarking my pics even though part of the paid service is no watermarking. I've sent messages to them regarding both of these issues and haven't gotten a response.

I'm trying photobucket next, we'll see what happens. I've been bopping over to their site periodically and haven't run into any downtime, and they're significantly cheaper (photodump charges $5 a month, photobucket charges $9 for 3 months or $25 for a year).

User Journal

Journal Journal: 23

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Turn to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The book I grabbed only has four sentences on page 23, so here it is:

"In the end, no one will know whether you were proactive or reactive - only that you named your baby well."

This sentence is followed by a list of names labeled "Names for Ugly Girls".

Don't Name Your Baby, David Narter

I wonder if this is some sort of gender determination sign?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Head Gaskets and Thermostats

(Cross-posting with my meager blog)

Last July, after finding out I was pregnant again, we decided it was time to get another family car. My husband had purchased another 98 Eclipse with fewer miles, and I was driving his low-end 98 Eclipse with 120,000 miles on it after my Jeep Cherokee reached its last legs. We had realized after we had Boo that an infant seat wouldn't fit in the back of an Eclipse.

I found a 98 Ford Taurus station wagon online at Denver Isuzu Suzuki. I went and test drove the car, and it seemed fairly satisfactory - it needed a new seatbelt in the center back, and hadn't had a transmission flush in a while. I mentioned to the salesman, William, that the engine on the new-to-us Eclipse had blown a head gasket six days after buying it, and had taken the engine with it. William assured me that this wouldn't be a problem since the car came with a 30-day warranty.

When we were about to sign the final paperwork, I told William that I hadn't looked at the tires and I didn't think my mechanic had either. He assured me that the tires had checked out, and that they would replace them if they didn't. Signed the paperwork, got out to the car, looked at the tires, they were practically bald. William balked at replacing the tires, saying I should have had my mechanic look at them. OK, whatever, my fault for not INSISTING on looking at them before we signed the paperwork.

I was trading in our old Eclipse and paying cash for the balance of the car to avoid financing. I told them that I would not have cash in hand for a few days, and was willing to wait to take possession of the station wagon until I had the cash to them. They insisted that everything would be fine - but they held on to some of the paperwork for the car, including the emissions coupon that dealerships in Colorado are required to provide to car buyers to cover the cost of getting an emissions inspection done on their car. I still have not received this emissions coupon, despite filing a complaint with the local Better Business Bureau and with the Dealer Board for the state of Colorado. (The Colorado Motor Vehicle Dealer Board is about as incompetent and impotent as a state organization can get, by the way - they lose faxes, lose emails, don't return calls, and don't understand that their job is to INVESTIGATE things like dealers refusing to provide emissions coupons and other required paperwork. The Denver Post ran an article about this at the beginning of October, titled "No one at wheel for car buyers", but the article is already archived. I actually had to go down to their office, 40 minutes away, to get someone to even listen to me about this, and I'm still getting the "There's nothing we can do" spiel.)

Six days after I bought the station wagon, it started to overheat. (I know, what an insane coincidence. I can't explain it either.) I pulled the car over immediately and called the dealership, since the 30-day warranty was supposed to include emergency roadside assistance - although I hadn't been provided with information on how to contact roadside assistance. I had the car towed in, and two days later was told that the car had a blown head gasket, and that the warranty didn't cover gaskets. They wanted $1200 to replace the head gasket, and that was IF the heads weren't warped. I called my mechanic who said that the most the repair should cost is $1000, including machining the heads if they were warped. I had the car towed to my mechanic's (paid for by my car insurance). He called me a few hours later and said he wasn't sure why Denver Isuzu Suzuki's mechanic said that the head gasket was blown. He finally determined that the car had a stuck thermostat, unstuck it for me, and sent me on my way, no charge. (If anyone's curious, the shop I trust is American Auto and Truck on Irma Drive in Denver - Chris is very honest and does excellent work.)

Denver Isuzu Suzuki's mechanic, Keith, obviously doesn't know the difference between a head gasket and a thermostat. Denver Isuzu Suzuki still owes me a seatbelt and a transmission flush. I want them to pay my mechanic to do it, since he obviously knows more about cars than the dealership does. Chris gave me an estimate of $305 for these, Denver Isuzu Suzuki refuses to pay more than $200 - despite the fact that they never reimbursed me or my insurance company for the tow to my mechanic's, they haven't provided the emissions coupon they are required by law to provide, and they can't provide me with an answer as to whether their mechanic is incompetent or maliciously dishonest.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Watch where you're going... 2

My husband Rich was crossing 9th at Grant in Denver yesterday when someone making a right turn hit Rich with his car and left the scene, yelling "Sorry!" out his car window. He's more or less OK, his knee is banged up, but he was too stunned to get a license plate number.

The driver had a kid in the car with him. Some example he's setting for his kid.

I doubt they're going to catch the guy - how many late-nineties gold Ford Taurus SHOs are there in Denver?

Then this morning, when I was taking Rich to the doctor to get his knee looked at, we came across an accident a block and a half from our house where a woman had just mowed down a high school kid on a bicycle. I think he's going to be OK, maybe a broken arm and a head injury (he knew his name but couldn't remember his parents' or his phone number).

We've had problems with people speeding in our neighborhood, and I don't have much reason to think that this woman wasn't driving too fast for the conditions, given that the roads were wet and the kid and his bicycle were knocked completely under and to the back of the ginormous truck the woman was driving. And as far as walking in downtown Denver, well...I'm just glad it wasn't one of us walking with Rhys across that intersection, as we have done many many times.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Maybe some people shouldn't have computers 6

This is a rather sad followup to this post I made after a rather frustrating trip to Oklahoma last Thanksgiving.

My son and I just got back from a vacation with my mom and her partner in Missouri. My mom's partner is an excellent professional photographer who has recently made the switch from film to digital. She had a wedding to shoot in St. Louis, and they have an RCI membership, so they reserved a condo in Clarksville, MO and off we went for the week before the wedding.

Mom and T. shot the wedding and drove back to Oklahoma. When they got back, there was no power in half of the trailer they are living in until they get their house done. Apparently the phone lines were fried too.

This is where it gets fuzzy. I KNOW I put both of their computers on surge protectors when we were down last Thanksgiving, and apparently at least one of their computers were working when they got home, because T. managed to get the photos off of the camera and onto one of the computers. As far as I can tell from what she said, maybe they moved the computers to a working outlet without taking the surge protectors along, and maybe something happened while they were rewiring the house to correct the electrical problems. At any rate, neither of the computers still boots up. T. hadn't burned a backup CD, and had cleared the photos off the memory cards for the camera.

We had a brief discussion about whole-house surge protection in the house they are building (scheduled to be done next summer, I hope), and they finally agreed to have one of my friends come out and look at it instead of expecting me to drive all the way down there, since I'm not really in a position as far as my work backlog and my health to take a trip there. I just hope the wedding pix are recoverable - that would be something I would never forgive a photographer for. Everyone has to learn the hard way to make backups of critical data immediately, but hopefully it's not on something as irreplaceable as wedding pictures.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another public service announcement

If a divorce is cancelled, it is appropriate to notify your immediate family members. Even if the notification is made by email.

Especially, if you found it appropriate to notify your family of your divorce by email, and your choices for notifying your family of a divorce cancellation are (a) email or (b) not notifying your family at all, you may notify your family by email that your divorce is cancelled.


Journal Journal: When tech use goes too far 3

OK, all you geeks, listen up:

Unless it is well-anticipated and generally looked upon as a celebratory event, e-mail is NOT the proper way to announce your divorce. Especially to your immediate family.

This public service announcement brought to you by...

User Journal

Journal Journal: Stuff Stuff and More Stuff, mostly non-geeky 2


If anyone needs a mechanic in the Aurora, CO area, may I heartily *NOT* recommend Smith Automotive. I thought Cory, the shop owner, was doing a good job on my car. It always seemed like the jobs came in at a few more bucks than he had quoted me, but I just guessed that he was quoting me prices off the top of his head. Last August, I took my Jeep Cherokee in because it was leaking everything everywhere, and the 4WD was thumping something crazy. I told them I wanted the leaks fixed, and if the 4WD got fixed in the process, great (since the transfer case was part of what was leaking), and that I only had $1000 to spend, NO MORE, explaining that I was not working, etc. After keeping my car for almost two weeks, with repeated phone calls telling me "We don't know yet, we won't know how much until we get it fixed", I got a bill for TWELVE HUNDRED DOLLARS and change for rebuilding the transfer case. And it still was leaking everything all over everything.

And before you tell me, yes, I know that's illegal. Just the week before I took my car into the shop for the whole transfer case mess, I had served a summons for my neighbor the attorney on a mechanic who did the same thing. I'm generally not the type to get lawyers involved, and at the time I thought it was just a big math slip-up, and decided I wasn't going to take my Jeep there again.

I took my Jeep into another shop this week because it's thumping (but not quite in the same way as it was thumping before). Not only does the transfer case need to be rebuilt AGAIN because the chain is slipping and it's leaking all over the place, but the heater core valve which I had them replace less than two years ago is shot (and the mechanic says it looks like a very old part), and two of the transmission fluid control lines are leaking (those were replaced too). So instead of having a few leaks and some body work left to fix on my Jeep (the grand total of which would have been about $1100), the only parts of my car really worth salvaging are the engine, the transmission, and my MP3 player.

And just to tie this into something remotely techy - I cleaned his computer for free after someone let it get infected with all kinds of goodies last year. If I had known this was coming, I wouldn't have bothered getting it quite so clean.

And more stuff:

We live in a housing development with a homeowners' association. Probably the only people who will understand what a pain this is are people who live in Colorado and understand how truly freaking out of control HOAs are.

We had a high-definition antenna installed last August so that we could see local channels in high-def on our new TV (DirecTV doesn't have local channels in high-def yet). My husband did a little research and asked our neighbor (the attorney) and our wiring guy (who also has dealt with HOAs numerous times) and got the same answers everywhere he looked:

  • HOAs can't require a design review for installing an antenna, because that could result in a delay in being able to install.
  • HOAs can't impose requirements on installation that result in additional cost to the homeowner, or that cause a decrease in signal quality.
  • Installing an antenna in our attic would result in a decrease in signal quality (this is especially so with high-definition signal) and would be more expensive to have installed.
  • The only way that an HOA can impose a restriction is for historical preservation or safety purposes.

Last September (about a month after installing the antenna), we got a letter from the HOA's management company saying we were in violation of community standards and needed to take the antenna down within ten days. I sent the following email to the HOA:

My husband, R***, and I received a letter from your office demanding the removal of an antenna installed at our home. The installed antenna is for broadcast television reception. Because of FCC Regulation 47 CFR 1.4000, the homeowner's association is not permitted to impair the homeowner's installation or maintenance of such an antenna - meaning that the association cannot require the removal of the antenna and cannot delay the installation by requiring design committee approval.

Permits and approval can be required for safety purposes and reasonable restrictions for historical purposes that do not cause signal interference can be imposed. We assure you that the antenna was professionally installed and poses no safety risk. At our request, the installer made a substantial effort to place the antenna as unobtrusively as possible instead of placing it on the apex of the roof at the front of the house where signal strength would be optimal. In fact, the placement currently causes interference on one of the major broadcast channels. Other locations such as in the attic would not provide an acceptable signal quality.

Reviewing the FCC fact sheet regarding placement of antennas may provide some insight into the applicable regulations.

If you wish to discuss this please do not hesitate to call us.

We didn't hear anything back until the beginning of February, when we got a letter requesting (more nicely this time) that we "be neighborly" and remove the antenna, and stating that we should have been able to place the antenna in our attic. Before I had a chance to respond (family members with walking pneumonia and funerals out-of-state tend to eat up some time), we got ANOTHER letter stating that "The Board has communicated with you on several times regarding this matter without a response", even though their February letter mentioned receiving our email. This letter once again demanded we take down the antenna.

So, of course, my response was to send another copy of the same email I sent last September to the HOA's management company, and copy the HOA board of directors since I'm not sure they realize how stupid the management company is being.

I've sent two design review requests since August (one to put a shed up on our property, another to plant flowerbeds in the back yard) and have not gotten an answer for either of them. My neighbor who lives directly behind me said that it took him over six months of calling the management company once a month to get a permit to install a swingset for his kids. Another neighbor has mailed them a copy of the cancelled check for her dues but keeps getting letters saying she needs to dispute her late fees for the payment (which was on time) in writing.

And more stuff, on a lighter note:

When my son wakes up at 2 a.m. and needs attention, I try to remind myself that soon he won't want cuddles in the middle of the night, not from mommy, anyway...

User Journal

Journal Journal: 49 pounds of cat and a skinny dog 3

Just for background - we have four cats and a dog:

1. Snoball - black female cat, 9 years old, 9 pounds. Originally from Colorado, was brought to me in Oklahoma, moved with me to Kansas, then back here to Colorado. House matriarch.

2. ZZ - grey Turkish Angora-type female cat, 11 years old, 8 pounds. My husband's kitty. Wears a "Please kick me" sign.

3. Queso - orange tabby male, 10 years old, 16 pounds 12 ounces, extremely mellow.

4. Phoenix - black male kitty, 3 years old, 15 pounds 4 ounces, nicknamed Alton for his habit of begging in the kitchen.

5. Bella - Australian Shepherd mutt mix, 5 years old. Hit by a car before we got her, almost died, had been living off the land and had *very* bad nervous problems, including diarrhea and vomiting whenever she got excited, but she seems to have overcome it. Blind in one eye, 80% vision in the other (due to genetics) and is forming cataracts which will have to come out in a year or so (in the good eye, anyway). 42 pounds, needs to be more like 47-50, but she was only 35 when we got her.

And now, for the real story:

Queso has been limping for a couple of months, but we've been busy and sick and haven't managed to take him to the vet until Friday. Turns out, he has osteoarthritis in both elbows.

Since we were already there, we took Phoenix in for a weight check too, since he seemed much larger than when we got him last Thanksgiving (from the same vet, incidentally). He weighed nine pounds then, but he'd been hit by a car, had been living as a stray, and had tapeworms, so we expected a little weight gain.

Soooo...we're having to go on regimented feedings. We have been free-feeding our kitties up on a large ledge so the dog doesn't eat the cat food, and free-feeding the dog too. Phoenix gets into the dog food, so we have to stash Bella's food, too. Queso and Phoenix on diet kitty food, Queso getting Metacam for the arthritis (not approved for cats in the US but it is in Europe) and glucosamine (which he isn't interested in), Snoball and ZZ on their regular hairball food, and Bella getting fed when she is outside and during the morning and evening feedings because she is still about 5 pounds UNDERweight.

Queso had gained half a pound from his last checkup 6 months ago, which is why he gets to go on a diet too. I am surprised he had gained weight - Phoenix has been like a breath of fresh air, and he and formerly sedentary Queso constantly wrestle and play like kittens. We joked that Phoenix was just trying to get up to a competitive weight.

I am really glad I work from home. I would have a heck of a time getting all this done in the morning before going to work.

While we were at Petsmart picking up additional food bowls, diet cat food, and outdoor food bowls for Bella, I saw kitties that were twins to Queso and Snoball. We almost ended up with six cats instead of four. My husband had better outlive me, because I think I would end up being one of those old ladies that have fifty cats.

And I am sad that we have moved past the point of being able to have the neighbor's pre-teen kid come over to feed and love the animals when we are out of town. He loves cats and so he hangs out for about an hour in the morning and evening when he pet-sits, and he's *really* smart and pretty mature for his age, but I think we've moved past the point of something a twelve-year-old can handle.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Dell Rebates 1

I bought a new laptop from Dell the first week in January - they offer fairly good deals around the holidays and I was tired of worrying about whether I was going to damage my laptop whose warranty had expired.

I sent my rebate paperwork in within a week of getting the laptop. It's still not showing up in their system. I sent a request for an investigation into my rebate status a week ago. I got an auto-response that said I would get a response within 2-3 days - nothing. I called them today, they say that they received nothing but based on my phone call they will process it. So if anyone is in the same boat, call up Dell and harass them. Next time I'll just wait a few weeks, then call them and save myself the cost of the stamp and envelope.

So here's why I don't feel comfortable having a laptop without a warranty:

About six weeks after the warranty ran out on my last laptop, I was on a deadline for work and had people coming in from out of town, so I was trying to get a bunch of work done and get the house cleaned at the same time. I set my toddler (Rhys) down with some crayons and paper while I vacuumed. I was halfway through vacuuming the living room when I turned around to see Rhys coloring on the walls. Took the crayons away, turned on the TV in the den (where my laptop was sitting on the coffee table) so that I could finish vacuuming. When I shut off the vacuum, I heard a BANG BANG BANG coming from the den. I ran in to find Rhys slamming his hardback copy of "I Love You So Much" into my laptop's keyboard. Keys were flying everywhere.

I had had good experiences with Dell when I sent my laptop in under their CompleteCare warranty (shipped it out in the afternoon one day, got it back the next) and so I called them to find out about having them replace my keyboard. After over an hour of being shuffled from department to department, I was told that they wanted $270 to replace the keyboard. I asked them what it would cost to ship me a keyboard to have a friend replace it locally - they said it would be about $60 but they would not be able to ship it for over a week.

A seller on Ebay got me a keyboard within two days for $40, and I paid a friend of mine $40 to replace it - he would probably have done it for cheaper, but considering what Dell was going to charge me I offered him $40, feeling like it was a bargain.

While I was on the phone with Dell trying to iron all this out, my son painted himself and his bedroom with Desitin. So, of course, it was bathtime. I figured while he was in the bathtub I could clean the bathroom. I turned back to him after scrubbing the sink, to see him dumping cups of water in a box of tampons on a shelf by the bathtub. Those things don't dry out...


Journal Journal: Blanket voter challenges in Eagle County

From the Rocky Mountain News:

"State Republican Party spokesman Peter DeMarco complained that a lawyer for the Democratic Party showed up at an Eagle County precinct with a list of registered Republican voters and a plan to challenge all of them. Democrats admitted it was true."

And on an off-topic side note, I went through the MoDonalds drivethrough on Colfax close to I-25 in downtown Denver today. Standing next to the order machine was a guy panhandling, wearing a Kerry-Edwards sweatshirt. Obviously there was no way to avoid dealing with him since I had to roll down the window to order. Somewhere in there is a metaphor for the unavoidability of liberal taxation policies...

User Journal

Journal Journal: My former employer is a classless moron 2

The team leader for the group I worked in at my former employer is a classless moron. I generally could count on about ten emails a day from spammers at my work email address when I was working there. After I quit, the IT group there decided to forward my email to my former team 'leader'.

This team 'leader' decided to forward this sexually graphic spam to my husband at his place of work - he works for a public school system. Nothing else got forwarded - my subscriptions to Dilbert and's Word of the Day are conspicuously absent. (She had my husband's email address because my husband sent her an email - ONCE - letting her know I was running late to work. She had received many more emails from my personal home email address, and I made sure she and everyone else in my group had the email address, despite the fact that this woman had been extremely unprofessional before I left the company.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Moderation options I would like to see implemented 7

Here are a few moderation selections I would like to see available as options - sometimes 'Funny', 'Informative', and 'Troll' just aren't enough.

+1 Tragic - for those really awful 'Here's how I accidentally nuked my harddrive and my relationship with my only girlfriend ever, all in the same day' posts. This is not to be confused with '-1, Pathetic'

-1 Asshat - this one should be obvious, but if you don't understand the difference between this mod and 'flamebait' or 'troll', feel free to ask

-1 M$ - for all those ingenious anti-Microsoft zealots who seem to think they're clever by using a dollar sign instead of an S

-1 Missed the Point - for posts that take a minor detail in the parent post and try to run with refuting the minor detail as proof that the parent post is wrong wrong wrong. Should be allowed to be used in conjunction with -1, Asshat. I'd like to think of a more clever name for this one but, unfortunately, I am creatively challenged today

+1 AFDB - for excellence in paranoia

added 5-Dec-2003

Oh, and I forgot until I was reading the article about interviewing with the NSA today...need another mod, plus lots of the AFDB mod for this story...

-1, Clueless - for the posts asking for clarity on or pointing out how ridiculous obvious jokes are

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