Cider Press Hill

Happy New Year

Monday, 4:58 pm

By Kate

Dec

31

2007

partly cloudy

I should be getting myself into the kitchen, any minute now, to fix a dish to take across the street tonight for New Year’s Eve celebrating. Isn’t that convenient? I don’t have to drive anywhere. I can walk to the party and I can walk home. Not more than 100 feet, either way.

I’m making stuffed potato skins. Yum.

Before I go, however, I thought I’d share this article (via Talking Points Memo) from the Washington Post about a dumb dinosaur industry that is working tirelessly to assure its own extinction. You just couldn’t come up with a more horrible business plan than aggressively suing your customers, while offering no alternatives that remotely address 21st century technology and convenience. Yes, we’re talking about the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They are now suing individuals who ripped legally purchased CDs to store and play on their very own computers. Sharing those songs is not the issue. Just having copies of songs from your legally purchased CDs on your computer (and probably other portable devices) is, they claim, illegal. Good luck with that. Like we’re all going to drag around with a CD player and our entire CD libraries so we can listen to our tunes whenever and wherever. The thing I want to know, that the article doesn’t get around to addressing, is how the RIAA found out that the guy they’re suing had copies of his CDs on his computer. I’d really like to know to know the answer to that.

Tomorrow, I shall be back to the regularly scheduled programming with some odds and ends.

Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve.



 

While I was away

Sunday, 2:27 pm

By Kate

Dec

30

2007

overcast

While I’ve been away from my desk....the world has continued to be interesting. Of course the big news was Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. I don’t claim to be prophetic, but it startled me when she was killed, the day after the lad and I discussed her chances of survival as being near nil in the midst of Pakistan’s chaotic political atmosphere. Those are the kinds of predictions one would rather not come true.

I don’t have cable television anymore, so I haven’t been able to watch what CNN or MSNBC or FOX has been saying. However, from reading about what other people are watching, I gather there is a lot of hagiography going on. Which doesn’t particularly surprise me.

My view of Benazir Bhutto has never exactly been given over to hagiography. Despite being a fascinating international character, she was a cut-throat politician, too, who loved power and money. And she stepped on a lot of toes and made enemies along the way. She was booted out office twice, robbed her country blind, probably had a role in assassinating her brother who led opposition against her, she and her husband were convicted in absentia (in Geneva) for money laundering, and she was facing corruption charges in Spain and, I think, London, as well. She and her husband used the Pakistani treasury to feather their nest quite richly. Just your average politician, I guess.

There were certainly enough people and groups out there, with long-standing vendettas, to make a list of potential assassins quite long. I doubt we will ever know who killed her, but I assume that blaming al Qaeda is convenient/useful for the moment.

Interesting article about Benazir Bhutto’s role in Pakistani (and US) politics in the London Review of Books, of all places. It seems to hit all the high points of her career, most of which I’ve read or heard in other places over the years. Her recent dealings with Musharraf were not exactly what the US press has portrayed them to be, either. But that’s not surprising. We have a stupid, incurious press.



 

Back to near normal

Wednesday, 7:56 pm

By Kate

Dec

26

2007

overcast

Christmas is over for another year. We had a lovely one, maybe one of the best—if oddest—ever. It was strange how it worked out, but the lad and I ended up talking all Christmas Eve night long and greeted the sunrise still talking. We decided to just keep going and open presents that had been so very recently wrapped. Needless to say, by the time mid-afternoon rolled around, we were just a little tired. But it was all worth it. We had so much fun that it’ll go down in my books as one of the very best Christmases ever. And, as it turned out, we both seemed to be on the same page and managed to offer each other a pretty eco-friendly selection of gifts. All well-loved and happily received.

Now the lad is off at his Dad’s house to do Christmas with the family in Alabama. I think they’ll fly out early in the AM. I’m not sure exactly when he will return. Sometime between the 2nd and the 6th. Whichever...it’s fine with me.

I drove the lad down to his Dad’s house about mid-afternoon. It takes just a couple of minutes shy of an hour to get there. I figured that I had rush hour beat by about a half an hour on the return trip. I figured wrong.

By the time I hopped on I-95 for the return trip (4:40 PM), the traffic was already bumper to bumper. I forget, sometimes, that rush hour in Boston starts around 3:30. It’s kind of a mesmerizing experience to be in four lanes of bumper to bumper traffic going 20 miles an hour. I just paid attention to the bumper in front of me and listened to the radio. So it went for several miles. And then, suddenly, I thought, “Hey, I shouldn’t be seeing signs for Cape Cod. What the heck?” And then I saw signs for Quincy and the JFK library. Oh boy.

To my everlasting puzzlement, somewhere along the line I departed I-95 and wound up on I-93, heading straight into Boston. During rush hour. O frabjous day. Speeds decelerated to about 5 miles per hour, bumper to bumper and I kept saying to myself, “How the heck did I wind up on I-93?!” I still have no idea. Guess maybe I oughta have been paying attention.

It is an alternate route and if it wasn’t rush hour, no harm done. It still gets me where I want to go, although a slightly longer route. But still. Not during rush hour. I didn’t roll back into my driveway until 7:03 PM. I surely wouldn’t want to do that kind of commute every day. After a couple of trips like that, I’d be purchasing a train pass.

Oh well. I’m home safe and sound. Now I have a few days in which to put the house back in order and keep things turned off.

I read the electric meter today and, while it wasn’t a shock, it wasn’t exactly a happy moment. The last I’d read it was on Monday morning. We used a powerful lot of electricity in the last two days. More than I used the entire previous week. Between the Christmas lights outside and those on the Christmas tree (plus extra lights on in the house and the large television going), we blew blew through 23 kWh in two days. I forgot to turn the outside lights off on Christmas Eve and the tree lights burned steadily for about 24 hours, too. Yeesh. I was totally excited and jumping up and down in my car seat when I pulled in the driveway tonight. My next door neighbor is done with Christmas and her Christmas lights were off. I can get with that program. I’m done with them, too.

Next year, I am going to do my best to prevail with the non-electric decorations. Starting early with attractive alternatives to entice my neighbor into an electricity saving Christmas. Putting the Christmas tree up on Christmas Eve was kind of cool, too. That stands a pretty good chance of becoming a new tradition. Well, we’ll see.

Anyway, it’s over and time to pack everything up for another year. I was sorry to see it go so fast, though. I would love to have been able to bottle up some of the magic of Christmas Eve this year. It was very, very special.



 

Merry Christmas Eve

Monday, 9:29 pm

By Kate

Dec

24

2007

clear night

How did it get to be Christmas Eve already? Good gracious. We have, I am pleased to announce, finished putting up the Christmas tree—about an hour ago. Now we are both nestled into our respective corners in the living room with our laptops and a bit of eggnog. Is that a 21st century picture or what?! We have not wrapped presents yet, though. We’ll get there, eventually.

Today was a rather serene day, all things considered. The lad and Becca went shopping around noon, leaving me to my own devices for a few hours. I knew I was going to do it. Went shopping for last minute stocking stuffers. Every year I am hit with last minute doubts that there is enough for the lad’s stocking. I was right, actually. When I surveyed the contents, they were pretty thin pickings. I’m happy to say that the situation is now corrected. And when I came home, there was a present waiting for me on the front porch. Whoo!

My floor sweeper arrived! In an itty bitty box, the dimensions of which were an astonishing 10 5/8” x 8 5/8” x 3”. The packaging was minimal with NO plastic. All the directions for putting it together and care and maintenance were printed on the diminutive box. I was impressed.

It took me all of two minutes to put it together and then we both set out to do the floor sweeper waltz, What a great little tool. It works every bit as well as advertised. I must have the cleanest carpet in town now. It even scraped enough cat hair off the carpet to make a new cat. And that’s after having vacuumed with the electric vacuum cleaner yesterday. I didn’t even know there was cat hair on the carpet. Well, there isn’t any now, anyway. And it knicked up every last wood crumb, too. I was disappointed when I ran out of floors. I was having rather too much fun cleaning them.

This evening the lad and I discussed food and decided to forgo a Christmas Eve dinner. Instead we broke every possible food rule and consumed ridiculous amounts of frozen boxed finger foods while we decorated the tree. That was fun and I don’t even feel guilty. (Well, maybe just a little, but not too much.)

And now...we’re just chillin’...listening to some Christmas music, basking in wood stove warmth, and glancing at the pretty tree from time to time. It is just so sweet having the lad home. This is perfect contentment.

I hope all of you who celebrate Christmas have also had a warm and wonderful Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!



 

Fraudulent use

Saturday, 12:27 pm

By Kate

Dec

22

2007

overcast

The lad called me early this morning to let me know that he would probably not be home in time to visit the bank, but maybe I’d better do so in a hurry because he lost his wallet on the way home. Preparing to go do a little Christmas shopping, he discovered the wallet was gone. I did a quick on-line check before heading out the door and whaddya know—someone already used his check/VISA card to purchase a $46 tank of gasoline in King of Prussia, PA.

Isn’t it interesting that a tank of gas is the thing that someone would use the card to buy? Maybe not so surprising, really. Gas pumps don’t require any signatures or identification for a credit card transaction. Well, Merry Christmas to someone, I guess.

In any event, I put a stop on his card (since I am also on the account) and ordered a new one. The bank will file a fraudulent use claim for the transaction and refund the $46 to his account sometime in the next week.

It would be just too much to ask for the person who found the lad’s wallet to make an attempt to return it. Not in this day and age. Still kind of amazes me that some people have no hesitation to steal like that. Makes me wonder whether they were really desperate for the money and that overcame any moral considerations or whether it was a case of “Hey, free money! Let’s see how much we can get out of this sucker.”



 

Happy Solstice

Friday, 4:17 pm

By Kate

Dec

21

2007

overcast

Here in the northern hemisphere, tonight is the winter solstice. I am always happy when the solstice rolls around. The days are going to start growing longer. Even if it won’t be noticeable until later in February, just knowing that each day is a little bit longer than yesterday is enough. Thoughts will soon turn to spring gardening projects and seed procurement. I want to try some heritage seeds this year. They grow the kinds of plants from which you can save the seeds and grow plants the following year that are true. Once you find a particular seed that works very well in your own back yard, you’re pretty much set for life.

In keeping with the solstice and the longest night of the year, I’ve turned on a lot of lights tonight—well, it is night here already and has been for the past hour. And the wood stove is cranked to the max with heat pouring upstairs. Nothing like excess. But, I’m cleaning upstairs and my blood was starting to clank from all the ice cubes forming in it. Enough of that. The lad’s room has been closed off for the past 4 months and it was cold in there. It will take a while for the walls and furniture to soak up some heat. It wouldn’t be entirely right to expect him to come home to a frigid room. Cool, but not frigid. (Not to self: buy him some long underwear...he’s going to need it.)

The water heater is also cranked so I can do more cleaning tonight. And some laundry. With a nice warm shower at the end of it all. It’s not going to be a stellar week for energy savings, but I will try to rationalize by appreciating the savings I’ve accrued over the past several months. Once in a while one needs to splurge a little. Occasionally, a little splurge makes what we take for granted all the more appreciated.

______________________

Non-solstice related...my Oreck floor sweeper was shipped today, four days after ordering it. Aside from WANTING it, there was no particular rush. But, at this time of year, they probably assume that purchases this close to Christmas mean Christmas gifts and people wouldn’t be happy if their Christmas gifts arrived after the fact. So, they upgraded my shipping for free. Now it’s two day air shipping and, last I looked, my floor sweeper had reached Louisville, Kentucky. It’ll probably be in Newark NJ tonight and Boston or environs tomorrow. If it doesn’t arrive on my doorstep on Sunday (does UPS do deliveries on Sunday?), it will definitely be here by Monday. Cool. And, interestingly, they haven’t charged me yet. When I ordered the sweeper, they placed a hold on my checking account for the amount, but it disappeared today. I guess that must be a part of their 30 day risk free trial or something. I like the way they do business. 



 

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