Sunday, January 13, 2013

Julie's Twitter Advice to Authors

I've taken to following some of the authors I like to read on Twitter. I've done this hoping to get a glimpse of their personalities and personal lives. I've gotten that, but I've also gotten something quite annoying. Many, especially the new authors that need to promote their work, do that promotion with social media. I'm all for (shameless) self-promotion. I blog, I tweet, I facebook. I get it.
The annoyance arises when the Tweeter repeatedly Tweets the same thing over and over. It was explained (when I inquired) that due to acquiring new followers on a daily basis, it is necessary to continually Tweet links to past stories, blog posts, etc. to insure that new followers are led to these items.
So, here is my request to authors that use Twitter to promote their body of work. Like many experienced Tweeters, I use a third party client to view my Twitter Feed. This client allows me the option to mute keywords. If you're posting a link in your Tweet, and it's one I've already followed, I can copy the "text" of your link and mute it so that it no longer clutters up my feed of your pearls of wisdom. The problem comes when you let Twitter, or whatever client you use to Tweet and read Tweets, shorten your link automatically. If you're letting Twitter or your client shorten your link each time you Tweet it, it generates a new short link. So my mute keywords feature is defeated and you annoy me by cluttering up my feed with repeats.
So here's my advice. Once you've tweeted the Tweet you'll want to repeat. Copy that tweet, including the short link, and use it for future re-tweetings. Then I can keep your repeats to a minimum and we all win.
Peace out!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why Did My Dishwasher Suddenly Stop Cleaning Dishes?

I thought I was going crazy. It seemed like overnight the dishwasher stopped getting things clean and shiny. Then it would start working again, then it stopped again.
I tried changing brands of detergent. I tried increasing the temperature of the hot water. Nothing seemed to make a difference. It was to the point where you practically had to wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. We were about to bite the bullet and spend hundreds of dollars on a new dishwasher when I ran across the following article: NPR on Dirty Dishes.
Seems they took a very important ingredient out of dishwasher detergent: phosphates. They help strip the grunge from your dishes AND keep it from reattaching to them further on in the cycle. I'm familiar with phosphates. I use TSP (trisodium phosphate) when I'm prepping walls for fresh paint or doing a deep clean on floors, cabinets, pretty much anything that can be cleaned with a strong detergent. Now that I knew what to search for, I found plenty of blog posts about America's new dirty little secret: Dirty Dishes.
So I hobbled down to my local A*C*E Hardware and bought a small tub of TSP to "test" the theory posed in the NPR article. I rinsed my dishes the "old way" (as opposed to my "new way" of practically washing them BEFORE I put them in the dish washer, then running the Rinse/hold Cycle, THEN running the Pots and pans Cycle with two overfilled detergent cups). I added 1/2 tablespoon of TSP to each detergent cup, then the "old normal" amount of dish washing detergent (Finish Advanced Gel) and ran it on the Normal Cycle.
When the washer was done and I opened the door, I could not believe my eyes. The silverware was so clean and sparkling I had to put on sunglasses. There was not a speck of food or film on any plate, bowl, or glass. I literally did a happy dance. I did not experience the white powdery residue that Jill complained of in her blog post.
There are still a couple of brands of dishwasher detergent that contain phosphates. Our government, in their infinite wisdom, recognized that it was really important for restaurants and hotels to have clean eating utensils so COMMERCIAL products still contain phosphates. I found several sites on the Internet that sell Cascade Professional Line detergent (there are other brands, but I'm familiar with Cascade). It's sold in cases only (6 boxes to a case). The boxes are 85 oz. each so they last a long time making them quite worth their average cost of $10.00 per box.
I was fortunate to have a commercial cleaning supply company in my town that ordered me a case and once the word got out amongst my friends, I had no trouble selling boxes to them.
I have noticed as time goes by, that the filmy crap that had built up on my glasses and plates is being washed away by the Cascade Pro detergent so I fully expect them all to look like new by the end of the year. So nice not to have to buy new glasses because the old ones got cloudy AND not to have spent $800.00 on a new dishwasher when all I needed was the right detergent.
Now, about your laundry. Do you have multiple stain removing products in your laundry room? Think hard; did your mother have all that crap to do laundry when you were a kid? Do your clothes never seem as clean as your mom's laundry? It's not your imagination. They took the phosphates out of laundry soap in 1996. I've yet to find a commercial laundry detergent that I'm willing to try but I can still get that old-fashioned clean that mom got. I add 2 - 3 tablespoons of TSP to each load of laundry. I'm using less laundry soap and fabric softener since I started doing this. My whites are whiter, my colors are brighter, and I rarely have to pre-treat stains anymore. Bonus: my washer tub had a scum line of soap buildup towards the top of the tub---it's gone. The tub is shiny, squeaky clean, and no longer smells like mold or mildew (just like the tub on my dishwasher).
If you choose to do your own TSP test, be aware that there is something out there called a TSP substitute. IT IS NOT THE SAME THING AS TSP and contains no phosphates. Do not waste your money on it.
Do not bitch at me about polluting the environment.
  1. The reason for removing the phosphates was disproved after the fact.
  2. More phosphates enter the environment from agriculture than any other source.
  3. I am not connected to a public sewer system. My phosphates stay on my land.
Now go forth and enjoy that magic that is clean dishes and clothes.

London Pictures

While in London I discovered my camera is shot. There are too few usable pictures for me to even bother posting them and no new camera in my immediate future. Sorry to everyone who was looking forward to pictures of our trip.

Friday, April 20, 2012

London Day One

We had an incredible day of travel to get here. It was a real treat to be able to fly out of our regional airport instead of driving 2 hours to Kansas City. The flight left on time and arrived early for our layover at O'Hare in Chicago where we had a lovely breakfast at Wolfgang Puck's. The four cheese omelet was divine. Paired with garlic roasted potatoes it was a good start since who knows what they'll be serving on the flight to London. The O'Hare to JFK flight left on time and arrived early too! Unfortunately my seat on the plane allowed me only a glimpse of the King Kong building and none of the Statue of Liberty. Fortunately I was able to add another state to my been-there list.

New York to London flight left on time. Many good movies to watch so I caught one before dinner was served. Tried to watch a second one after dinner, but my eyes kept closing. Since I wanted to sleep on the plane, this was good. I caught sleep off and on for about 3 hours. This is good since we plan to push through the tired and stay up on arrival in order to sleep at night like normal people. The plane, once again, arrived early. So early we had to circle round and round since they have noise rules that won't let us land at Heathrow prior to 6:00 AM. What I noticed in our circling? It's very green here. I wonder why that is?

We'd arranged to have a car pick us up and deliver us to our hotel in a suburb north of the city proper. After our experience dragging luggage on and off of public transportation in Paris, we checked "live like locals" off our list and vowed to never do airport to hotel public transpo again. Customs, in preparation for the upcoming Olympics, was fully staffed and moving the queue faster than I thought possible. The line moved at a steady pace and we were through in no time at all. The driver was waiting for us, very pleasant fellow and he whisked us off to The Hide in Hendon. Arriving too early to check in---which is good, don't want to see that inviting mattress---we were able to leave luggage, freshen in the lobby loo and hit the tube into the city. Not only do we get to freshen, but the desk staff serves us up a couple of Lattes in case we don't have enough caffeine in us yet. Armed with umbrellas and raincoats, our adventure begins.

Our first trip into the city only involves one tube line so it's rather simple to speak with the ticket taker and find out if pay as we go or day pass is today's transpo option. For today it's pay as we go since we only plan the one trip in and one trip back. We exit the Northern Line (Charing Cross via Kennington) at Embankment and there is the Thames spread out before us with the shadow of the London Eye falling across the water. We head towards Big Ben in search of the tourist buses that make the circuit of attractions to plan where we want to spend some in-depth time.

We pass Whitehall Gardens, 10 Downing Street, and several other impressive buildings with the requisite Statues of Old Dead Guys and cross Westminster Bridge to the south bank. On the bridge a lone Bagpiper plays for tips. A quick stop for more caffeine at the McDonald's in the building at the foot of The Eye and we find our tour bus, complete with live (not recorded) tour spiel. Immediately one of the things that wasn't on our must-see list gets added. How can you see the Tower of London and NOT want to go through it is beyond me. Wasn't appealing on paper but now that we see it, we're going. On the bus we're able to scope out near enough where we need to be for our TV show taping on Monday night.

After the bus we take the free river cruise that's included with the bus tour. This gives us a look at many of the same things the bus does, but as viewed from the river. It also tells us that we probably don't need to buy a hop-on-hop-off day pass to the bus when we return Saturday. Everything we want to see is certainly walking distance from the tube state. Probably on a par with our 12 hour walking day in Amsterdam. We can do this. Towards the end of the river cruise the sky darkens considerably and when we disembark, the sky opens and pours. For all of maybe 8 minutes, but we're prepared and keep the soaking to a minimum. Disdaining the river side City Loo, for which you pay 50P, I hope to find a loo at the tube station. There is one; a City Loo. At this point I'm willing to pay 50P to keep from peeing my pants.

Fading fast from the brisk wind that came up at the end of our cruise, we tube back to Hendon and officially check in to our hotel. We are hungry so we really just glance at the room and head back out to find a local meal. We are sooooooo tempted to eat at KFC as we haven't had KFC since the one in MHK closed, but on the walk there we discover Cafe Florence and decide to take a chance. Judi opts for the fish and chips (even though we do plan to hit a fish 'n' chip shop that's on the top ten list) and I have the chicken escalope which is flattened chicken breast coated in bread crumbs and then fried (deep fried I think by the even coloring). Both are very good. Not great but very good and with dinner in our bellies we return to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow we attack some attractions in-depth.

Please note, I have no way to transfer pictures from my camera to the PC to post here. If I snag a cheap card reader tomorrow that will change but if I don't, I'll have to come back to these posts and add pictures when I get back home.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Qwitcher Bitchin'

Words without action are pointless.

Occupy Wall Street? How about Unoccupy Wall Street. You want to take money out of politics? Take your money out of the banks, out of the stock market. Remove it entirely from the entities that speculate with your funds. Some guy with a sign in a park has no effect; removing your money from the market sends a clear message to the very entities you protest against. Even if you only do it for a week, it will have an effect.

Want to stop new oil wells from being drilled? Buy an electric car, ride a bike, take the bus, join a car pool. But don't spend your time whining to me about saving the polar bear habitat if you aren't doing anything on a personal level to save the polar bear habitat.

Want the politicians to sit up and take notice of your desires? Get up and run for office yourself. No, you won't be able to run for president in 2016 but you can certainly start by filing your candidacy in a local office in your town. That way you can learn for yourself how it works and work your way up, just like hiring on at a company and working your way up the career ladder.

Too many people speak too many words and take no action. Until you shut up and step up, nothing's going to change.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hill's Pet Food is BAD

Editing original post as I acquire additional information

No, I'm not talking about the product. I'm sure it's a fine product (I have in fact previously used Hill's prescription products for other animals in my household). My complaint has to do with their business model which requires their prescription food dispensing partners carry no other brands of prescription pet food or they pay higher prices for the Hill's product. This puts my local supplier in a very difficult position.

I have a 12 year old dog. She eats Purina j/m formula dog food. She's eaten it for the past 4 years. The LOCAL pharmacy where I purchase this item is having to cave into Hill's demands that they stock and dispense only Hill's labeled product to get pricing breaks. This is an independent pharmacy. They should be able to dispense whatever products veterinarian's write a prescription for without penalty.

I am not changing my dog's food. I will change my pharmacy first. And if I have to change my dispensing pharmacy for one item, I might as well switch all my pet's prescription needs to another pharmacy. I have some expensive dogs in the medication department. This may cause the local pharmacy to go out of business. Great work Hill's. The economy could use more companies like you.

Hill's pet food has made a serious enemy today. Let the internet trashing of Hill's begin.

11-18-2011: Hills adamantly stands by their claim that they enact no coercion on the companies they supply to carry only their product. MyVetsMeds adamantly stands by their claim that their contract with Hills is contrary to Hills' claims. MyVetsMeds has changed their business model and I am no longer able to get ANYTHING from them on a local level so at this point I am despising both companies equally.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

When Did I Become a Conservative Again?

I try to book some home PC time every weekend because clicking links on tweets on the BB does not always render a page that's mobile device friendly. This weekend I'm catching up on links from Rachel Maddow's blog. And once again my fellow liberals just make me cringe almost as much as the right wing does.

TRMS highlights (as wrong) the politician that wants to make it so that the clothing allowance that's given to children on welfare and in foster care can only be spent at thrift stores or the Salvation Army. I disagree with limiting it to those two options but I don't disagree with the idea of requiring a clothing allowance be spent on clothing, especially if there are no current restrictions on how it gets spent. WIC dollars are restricted as to what you can spend them on, shouldn't clothing dollars be the same?

Does this sort of thinking make me a conservative? I liberally support public assistance programs; why can't I also support some sort of checks and balances that assure the money I give from every pay check goes to the actual sort of assistance I am supporting.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Escape From the Rest Home, Part Ia

I just realized after my part II post that I never posted about the local Realtor lady adventure!!!

O.M.G. Let me tell you a tale.

The week after Escape Part I, I showed up for our weekly weekend lunch and asked if he'd found any homes in the paper that he'd like to look at. The Topeka paper didn't have anything he wanted to see. We did lunch and then he indicated he wanted to cruise around my little town and see what houses had for sale signs. No problem. I had the local paper with me and we cruised up and down the streets and I compared what we saw with the info in the paper. Ended up with four houses he wanted to see.

He asked me when I would be available to take him to see those houses. I replied that it was a Realtor's job to show him those houses and if he was so sure he could live independently, he could certainly call the Realtor, and have the Realtor pick him up and show him houses. Which he did. I informed the staff at Shady Pines that this was being done with my blessing and they agreed it was a good reality check. After his Adventure in Real Estate was concluded, he called me to inform me that he'd made an offer on one of the houses and I needed to call the Realtor and give her my fax number so she could fax him some documents to sign.

The next day I called the Realtor full expecting i would have to fight some money-grubbing entity that was salivating over the thought of a nice commission in a lousy market. Oh Ye of little faith. Slipping back into my Los Angeles state-of-mind. What I got on the phone was another nice slice of Kansas. People who care. People who don't look the other way and say, it's not my business. People who every single day make me so glad I moved to Kansas.

Her first question was, "You're not really considering letting him do this, are you?" which segued into "I have serious reservations about his abilities to live alone." I said no, I wasn't, but that he was insistent that he was capable of this and f he proved he was, I would have no argument against it. She went on to detail how from the moment she saw him, she knew this was not a viable client. She had not submitted any offers to any sellers as she could not believe it would come to pass.

She continued to say that she really grilled him about his capabilities and couldn't believe he didn't have family to assist him, at which point he admitted to a daughter in the area. Relieved, she pushed no further as she could see he was getting agitated. She related that she too had a mother that was growing incapacitated and understood what I was going through.

So there are many people who tread the same path I do. What I want to know, is why am I walking this path for a man who mercilessly beat his wife and children to the point where they each left him several decades ago?

Escape From the Rest Home, Part II

Apparently he hasn't abandoned his fantasy of leaving Shady Pines, he was just waiting for me to leave town. We are going on vacation. We're going to visit my mom, whom I have not seen in seven years, and the three of us are driving from her place north of Phoenix to Vegas. We are going to have fun. Lots of fun. And I don't have to worry about my animals 'cause Amber stays at the house and I don't have to worry about Dad because he's got 24 hour supervision.

Note to self: Don't ever tell dad you are going on vacation. Just go. Let the staff at Shady Pines take care of him. It's what you pay them for.

After his experience with the local Realtor, he wasn't trying any in-town vendors. Found some travel agent in Burlington, Kansas (maybe she advertised in the newspaper he gets?) and bought a plane ticket to Redmond via Chicago and Portland. I feel sorry for the people he would potentially have come in contact with on this trip. He can barely walk. If he doesn't use the restroom frequently, he's incontinent. By the time the flight attendants caught on to the fact that he was having just a little too much alcohol, it would have been far too late. I shudder to think of him trying to make one plane connection, much less two. It's why I booked a non-stop when I brought him here. He is in complete denial of his capabilities.

It seems he mixed up the date he thought I was leaving and started telling everyone goodbye today. When the envelope with his plane ticket arrived at Shady Pines, the staff put 2 + 2 together and called me.

He's pissed. Said he wants to revoke the trust so I can't "keep him there anymore". Shady Pines director told him that he couldn't just say the words and make it so, he had to get an attorney. I told him that was fine, he could put his attorney up against my attorney any day, but it would have to wait until I got back from vacation. I made it clear that since I didn't want to have to worry about any stunts while I was gone, and with the staff's blessing, I was taking all his credit cards and his phones so he couldn't cause any more mischief. Told him that anything he needed to get by for the next week was right here at Shady Pines and that the staff would be happy to get him anything he needs, but gone. They would also be happy to make any calls he needed made.

This man, who beat my mother, my brother, and my self; who terrorized us for years, is the most ungrateful bastard in the world. He once told me I was an ungrateful piece of shit. Today, I know exactly what he was feeling when he said those words to me 35 years ago.

They're cute at that age, right?