Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!!!

© 1997-2005 BlackDog All rights reserved.
I just wanted to say Happy New Year to everyone out there in blogland. Last year wasn't a bad year for me but I am hoping this next one will be even better.

I am not big on resolutions but I would like to enjoy life a bit more, get a bit fitter, and accomplish a few things in this next is that for vague? I just feel that resolutions sometimes just set people up for failure and I would like to start off this year fresh with a new "To Do" list in my hand and not so many detail expectations.

I am already thinking about all the filing I have to do and various other things on my plate before I start back at school in a few weeks. But for now, I am going to take it easy the rest of this glorious weekend and get over this travel cold I got while on vacation for the holidays.

Have a great holiday everyone and hope your New Year starts out like you want it to.

A Year in Review

Borrowed this one from Chatty...if you want to do the same, you just post the first sentence from the first post of each month for the here goes.


Well, the comment section has changed recently so everything I had previously posted here is not relevant any longer.


I just love these cards.


At least where I am living it has... I actually broke out a pair of shorts from the "summer clothes" tote and wore them and my sandals all day.


As I mentioned before, we are not great fans of the construction going on across the street.


Wow, the UK is getting as bad as the US with complaints...come on, bad manners and insults to handicap people? Are they serious?


I am an is only 14 days...I guess I just can't read a all hope is not lost, they could hatch this weekend.


I finally just watched the Aviator, which I have had from Netflix for some time now.


I purchased 3 pots of Stargazer Lillies today at Lowe's.


It irks me that I can't see a decent game on Sunday because I am forced to watch the "local" game due to NFL television restrictions....I think it is crap that they do that, and it makes me just turn the NFL off completely.


I saw part of a show on Animal Planet the other day, and there was a segment on snow monkeys.


While I love the fact that we can post pictures to our blogs on Blogger now without as much hassle as before, I have learned that I must be careful in what I name them.

Well, that is it last post of 2005 and it wasn't nearly as exciting or fun as I thought it would be. I guess my really good posts are all later in the month...haha. It might have worked better for me to post the last sentence from the last post each month.

Friday, December 30, 2005


Looks like I am going to have to do some edits to my sidebar....some of my favorite bloggers have just up and disappeared and I hate having links that don't work....guess it gives me space to add some of the ones that have taken a space in my "good reads" folder in My Favorites.

Let me know if you come back someday and I'll add you back on (I think you know who you are)...

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Sense at All...

but I am not complaining, just confused.

Okay, remember a couple of weeks ago, when I posted this? Well somehow, I got a 96 on that final exam....I don't know how but I did.

In the process of the final exam we were to write any assumptions we made and I ended up writing this 2 page thing on my assumptions, frustrations, research and irritations in regards to each of the four questions on the exam (three of which we had to answer for the test). Apparently, my instructor liked that assumption blurb more than my answers because I believe my entire grade was based on it. I didn't even completely answer one third of the test and there is no reason in the world why I should have gotten a 96 on that test.

Oh well, that 96 and the 98 I got in participation gave me an A for the course. I don't mind, believe me, I am just in shock. I was totally preparing myself for dealing with a bad grade and now I just keep thinking I must have dreamt that good grade.....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act - Yahoo! News

I am glad that this happened. I do feel like we need to have legislation that helps law enforcement in regards to terrorist investigation, but I don't think the PATRIOT Act in full is the way to go.

I recently did a paper on the PATRIOT Act for school. I was mostly covering privacy issues via electronic media but in the process I learned a lot about the Act and all the other aspects of it.

It is too encompassing of a document. Parts of it are really great, and should be adopted but as a whole, it really does infringe on people's rights and liberties and I think that by giving up our rights for security, we are just doing what the terrorists want.

The PATRIOT Act may have been the right thing to do immediately following 9/11/01 (although some would argue not even then) but now that we are past the initial panic and response to those attacks, it is time to sit down, break it down and figure out what should stay and what should go.

If Congress had just passed it without question, I would be a little worried. We need to protect ourselves while being sensible about what type of country we want to be at the same time.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I ordered a gift for a family member via Amazon through this company above. The shipping link said that the company shipped to PO Boxes which worked great for me because this family member doesn't get mail at their house (they live in BFE)....anyhow, today, I got the UPS tracking number from UPS and realized that for some reason, the order didn't get shipped the correct way to go to a PO Box.

I called up and spoke with a customer service person in less than 3 minutes. She was super helpful, and apologetic. She wanted to make sure that the package got there in time for Christmas and listed my options. I could give her a physical address (wouldn't work because of their house location in BFE), or I could have her pull the order back and send a new order to the PO Box in the mean time. I decided on the second option, but when she checked, they didn't have that same gift any longer. She didn't want me to wait for the old gift to show back up before sending it out.

Get this, she offered the next step up, a 10.00 increase, for free to be shipped out today. She even read me the description of the step up so that I would be comfortable that it would meet our requirements. She said if our family member didn't end up liking it (which he will), they would take it back for free too.

So in closing, she pulled the old order, for free, sent out a new order of a better quality, for free and did all of this while apologizing for the error. She was super nice and did all of this in about 5 minutes total on the phone...I am so recommending this company to people. I also get to rate them on Amazon's website and they are getting 5 stars for sure.

Just wanted to bring some Christmas shopping cheer to you all!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Geocaching Peeve

Of the 61 caches that are within 9 miles of my home, 36 of them are micros. Several of those are basically film containers hidden in bushes long the edges of busy highways (with no parking except on private land), and then several others are also film containers hidden in places that much bigger trading caches could go.

This is extremely irritating to me because 1. won't seem to do anything about it 2. With a stupid film container in every park we have (and we don't have many), it keeps others from putting in trading caches. One local cacher in particular owns 90% of the above mentioned caches. He/she put them all out mostly in one week or two this summer and basically cut off all placement of trading caches to the rest of the community. has a policy that you can't put caches, or even segments to multi caches within 600 feet of another cache.

It is funny to me that stopped allowing the placement of virtual caches (which I loved) because they thought it took away from the real caching spirit. Now that we can't place regular caches in National Parks or any land under USFS control, it seems that virtual caches were the way to go....there are whole areas of Yosemite that I might not have seen if it weren't for virtuals in that park. Unfortunately, those are all grandfathered caches, and no new virtuals can be placed anywhere (they will claim that their new site is the answer to this, but it is so random and unorganized that I don't think it will get used much).

Anyhow, I think micros that are hidden in places that trading caches could go are just terrible and also take away from the caching spirit. It just shows that the owner has no imagination and is not willing to put some money and time into their caches. It also increases the amount of damage that is done by searchers because they are looking for such a small thing in such a big area.

Now as a premium member, I can ignore the lame ass boring (oh I didn't mention that in most cases, there is nothing of interest on the cache page and there is nothing to see when you get to the site) micros, but that doesn't help me at all when it comes to placing new and exciting caches, which I might be willing to do if there were any public areas left to put them in. I also hate the fact that this has basically turned me off of micros completely, and I have had some micros in my past that were pretty cool.

The only fortunate thing is that it seems the local cacher listed above must live near me because as soon as I get more than 12 miles from home, their micros are no where to be found....can we say, amen to that.

Explanation Needed

Someone please tell me why when we have days of beautiful clear crisp weather and there isn't a bird to be seen at my feeders but yet when we have pouring down freezing rain, the place is jam packed?

The is no cover, so it isn't like a drivethru that is out of the is out in the open. The birds look like little wet pathetic things....I feel particularly sorry for the finches that are eating out of the upside down feeder...seems like the water would run up their noses.

The Trees and Snowflakes

Chicken said she wanted to see our trees, so here they are....I didn't use the flash so you could see the lights but that means that they might be a bit fuzzy too...sorry. Oh and I included a group shot of all the snowflakes I cut out of Origami paper to put on various windows...I love cutting out snowflakes.

This is the smaller faux tree from Japan that is sitting in our bay window on the buffet in our dining room.

Small Tree

This is only labled as bigger because for most people, it probably is still considered small (6-7 ft). It is a real Douglas Fir, that needs constant watering.

Bigger Tree

These are up on various windows throughout our house. They were cut from Origami paper, which I have tons of. Snowflakes

Too bad I can't get any good pictures of our house front lit up from the lights. It is so dark on our street that they really do stand out. The pine cones under the bigger tree are from the pine trees in our yard. They are huge and really cool looking. I put some on our porch as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

More Ornaments

Here are some pics of the extra ornaments I picked up the other day. The star is a gift for someone in J's family. The rest are on our tree. They have some awesome butterflies, different birds, and all sorts of other things. She says that they always carry them so I will get more next year.

Cloisonnè Star that I got for a gift.

The Star

Thought I better get a couple of the traditional looking Cloisonnè eggs. These ones are pretty small and they are for our tree.

The Eggs

Not a great picture of the hummingbird one but my other picture that was more centered came out fuzzy. This is one I bought for our tree.

The Hummingbird

Our new topper for the big tree. It is made of a thin glass and it has lights behind it that plug into the strand on the tree.

The Topper

Full Feeling

I just love this stuff.
I just had a terrific lunch of sushi, miso soup and ocha (hot green tea) at a local Japanese restaurant. I drank much too much was so good and warm, and I was busy reading, not thinking about how much I was drinking.

I guess I better get out and walk before I fall asleep. It isn't very warm out but I need the exercise and there is an elusive geocache near my home that I could try to find...hmmmm. I can't stand sitting around when I feel full...much better to get out and get some fresh air even if it is only in the 30's. I'll just bundle up, I guess.

Supposed to be freezing rain tonight so if I am going to get a soak in the hot tub in later, I probably will have to do it early as holding the umbrella while in the hot tub only works when it is warm enough that the hand outside of the water doesn't freeze.

Heat Pumps

They are not made for cold weather. They work great as an air conditioner and in moderately cool temperatures, but when it gets to be freezing, they just don't work that well.

I keep mine at a relatively low temp, even when I am home, but last night, for some reason (maybe that it was in the 20s), it would not bring the house up above 67 degrees. Usually that is okay, but last night I just wanted it to be a tad warmer in here. I had already done my warming up soak in the hot tub earlier in the evening, and I just wanted to be a bit toasty before getting into bed.

No such luck. When I went to bed, I turned it back down to 60 degrees like I usually do, and I am sure it was outside thanking me for giving it a break. Oh well, after a few minutes under the down comforter, I was warm anyhow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Some New Ornaments

Here are some pics of a few of the new ornaments I got this year to fill out our tree. None of these are the "year's new ornament"...I haven't taken a picture of that one yet for some reason.

Had to use the flash on some of these as my digital camera is not as cool as J's and it is hard to get it to focus in the house without the flash....ugh!!

This is similar to the Chinese ornament eggs that are popular. The tail is jointed. The Dragonfly

I have a red one like this too but the flash really killed the shot of it. The Blue Santa

A little puppet Nutcracker...they always look a little scary to me.

The Nutcracker

I got two of these old fashioned snowmen too. The Snowman

My second of the Chinese-like Cloisonnè ornaments. This one is a seahorse who has a jointed tail. The Seahorse

I really like the Cloisonnè ones the best, and then the old fashioned ones are pretty cool too. The place I got most of them from is a nursery. It has a separate building called the Christmas House/Store, and it is filled from top to bottom in ornaments. It is actually a bit overwhelming. They are hanging from trees and garland all over the place. You worry that you might bump and break something. Every subject under the sun is covered by an ornament in that place. There is a section for the different types too. I might have to go back and get more of the Cloisonnè ones because I just think they look so unique.

I'll post pics of the tree itself and some of the other decor later, right now, I have to get my butt in gear and get some stuff done....the clock is ticking.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Incomplete and Total Crap

I just turned in a complete piece of sh1t paper tonight. There were some things going on in my personal life this week that caused me to be a bit distracted and I just couldn't get with it.

We had to answer 3 out of 4 questions for our final and only two of them were sensible...the third was too broad of scope for the two pages we were limited to, and the fourth was impossible to find any research material on....ugh!!! I hate that. So I had to change topics at the last minute which meant that the third question was not completely or adequately answered...I hate it.

Anyhow, for better or worse, I am finished with the semester and I have to get off this computer before my hands give out.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

It's That Time of Year Again

Christmas is upon us here in the Southeastern US, and even the weather is in agreement. We have completed the decorating with the exception of putting up Christmas cards as they arrive over one of the doors.

I have done the majority of the decorating on my own this year (even had to get the tree alone) because J has been gone a lot the last few weeks. He will really only be back for good a few days before we leave for our holiday trip to the west it is on me or it won't get done. Anyhow, he did put up the lights along the gutter in the front of our house before he left, and then one occasion when he was able to pop in for a day, he helped me set the tree up in the stand.

For the last 4 years, we have used this little tree my friend gave me that she bought at the Makeman store in Japan. It is about 30 inches tall and suited our needs well due to our living situation at the time. I have it set up on our buffet in our dining room this year. We wanted to do a real tree this year as well, so I got a 6-7 foot Douglas Fir set up in our family room (which is why I needed his help). I am afraid it might dry out while we are gone, but I am hoping to convince a friend to come over and check on it periodically...

Every year, we get a new ornament to mark that year with, and this year, I found a perfect one, but because we had so much more tree to cover this year, I went about getting a few others to add to the tree (although none of them will be the official new ornament). I also had to get a topper and decided to go with a lighted star I found. It looks really nice.

I am currently in the middle of finals week for school and scrambling to get shopping, shipping and card manufacturing done as well, so I will post pics of all the good stuff in a few days, when I come up for air.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Two Suns

Today when I was out driving to my first geocache and some exercise, I noticed that there were two suns in the sky. I pulled over the car and took some pictures with my camera.

In the picture you can see the real sun peaking out from behind the trees on the right, and then in the middle there was this second "sun" with a rainbow coming off of it. It really was pretty cool to see, and I am glad I had the camera with me and the photos came out as well as they did (I thought the real sun would mess the whole shot up).

Tuesday, December 06, 2005



I have a lot of stuffed bears. I collected them when I was younger and while I am not actively collecting them anymore, I still like the ones I have and many of them have special meaning to me.

I have a particular one that J bought me when we were dating that holds a special spot in my heart. He is not the most expensive or fancy bear out there but I know that J saw it, and thought of me when he bought it. He (the bear) is very squishy and definitely awesome to sleep with due to his cuddliness. Last night was the first night I had slept with him in a while (don't usually when J is home) since J is gone for a few days on a business trip.

I think because I was sleeping with him, I had a dream (or several dreams but only one that is relevant to this post) about Christmas shopping in my hometown when I was a kid. I lived in a small town of about 17,000 people. The nearest "city" was about 20 miles away and they didn't have a mall until I was in high school. They had a JcPenney and a Montgomery Wards in their downtown area and a Sears with an attached Newberrys a bit from that. I didn't start going to that town to shop for Christmas until after I started driving so I pretty much stuck to what our own downtown offered. Now remember, I lived in a town that was sustained by tourists during the summer months (there is a link to my hometown on my sidebar), so many of the shops were a bit pricy and ever so quaint. Of course, I had nothing else to compare them to, so I didn't realize that I might have been paying more or seeing less of a selection of gifts than those shopping in other areas.

Anyhow, I remember enjoying Christmas shopping on my limited funds as a kid. We had two different ice cream shops that had all types of treats for sale, there was Nimbus, Rare Earth, Paddington Station and of course Rexall Drugs among others. I could go from store to store trying to figure out what to get my grandma, pa, mom, dad and sis. I remember how nice and warm each shop would be as I stepped out of the cold crisp air. Shopping for other people was new to me because I had just reached the age where I had a few dollars of my own and started to realize that having other people buy for me wasn't all that Christmas was about. I really anticipated my family opening the gifts I had selected for them on Christmas morning. Of course they were small things, especially compared to things today, but their delight was something I really looked forward to.

I am going home for the holidays this year (much of my family still lives in the area, as well as much of J's) and I am actually holding off on some of the shopping so I can spend some time in my old downtown selecting gifts for my family. I am sure things cost more than they would at the Walmart ten miles away but I want to grasp onto some of that old Christmas spirit and keep it close to my heart.

Can We Say Chilly?

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Today, even though it is very cold and crisp outside, I ventured out to geocache and get some exercise. Last night before I went to bed, I had checked out the geocaching website and noticed that there was a new one published not too far from my home. I decided then, that if it was still "unfound" in the morning, I would trek out and see if I could find it.

Things got complicated when J left for work this morning and needed to use my GPS. He has one too but it is an older model and I am not all that familiar with it. After coffee and breakfast, I checked out the website again, and found that the cache was still undiscovered. I grabbed up his GPS, put the coordinates in after playing with it for a few minutes, got some warm clothes on and headed out the door.

The walk wasn't long and soon I was close to where I needed to be. The cache page included a hint which I deciphered since I was using the older GPS and didn't know how much accuracy it would provide once I got close. The hint didn't actually help that much either as "fallen log near upright pine" pretty much described the entire area I was in...but they forgot to mention "tons of leaves and pine needles" as well, so I figured I had my work cut out for me.

Fortunately for me, not only was it kind of early in the morning, it was also very cold so there were not a lot of other people out and about on foot. The park I was in is pretty popular normally but part of it is being reconstructed so one end of the trail is cut off and I am sure that helped keep the population down as well. Anyhow, the reason I was glad that no one was around was because I had to look for a pretty long time for this one. J's GPS doesn't have a compass like mine. His requires that you continue to move for it to work, where as mine is an electronic compass and you don't have to be moving to know the direction. Anyhow, after several hits and misses, I decided to just look at the coordinates on the sheet and move around until the coordinates on the GPS matched up. This worked and I found the cache easily.

This was my first to find first and I was able to sign the log first and get the travel bug that was in the cache. I plan to hold onto the travel bug until I go geocaching during the holidays on the west coast. This will get the little guy some miles on its record.

As I was leaving the area, I did see a couple walking for exercise (they didn't see me since I was back in the trees) and then as I came out of the park, a women with three kids was heading in, and I am guessing they were looking for the cache too as they were entering where I left which was the reconstructed area. So I was almost found out by only a few minutes...whooooeee!!!

Friday, December 02, 2005

That is Just What I Have Been Saying

Another gem of a post from Dave's Window. I just had a discussion with my dad a few months ago on this very topic. Check it out if you have time.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Learned My Lesson

While I love the fact that we can post pictures to our blogs on Blogger now without as much hassle as before, I have learned that I must be careful in what I name them.

I have been getting a million hits on my blog because of one picture I posted a while back. Now don't get me wrong, I love that I am getting the hits and perhaps even some regular readers from it but if my site meter is correct at all, most people are just looking for the picture and when they don't find it first thing, they move on.

See, when I loaded the picture, I just kept the file name that it had from where ever I got it from, so now when people do a Google image search with two particular words in it, my picture is the first that comes up. Downside to Google listing our images on their search is that when a person clicks on the picture to see full size, it takes them to the blog but not to the spot they want, just to the first/current front page of the blog. This picture in question is actually in an archive these days because I wrote about it ages ago.

So the things I have learned are 1. make sure to change the image file name to something nondescript, and 2. when I am doing image searches of my own, ignore the ones that are listed as being on blogs because more than likely they are not on the front page anymore.

On another note, my weirdest search words so far that have found my blog are "monkey" "ticks"....don't know what they were looking for but I am sure the story I wrote about the grooming practices of snow monkeys was not it...