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This is only a test....

I'm about to crash in my hotel room on the other side of the globe, but first a test to see if I can access the usual social networking suspects. I'm happily surprised to see that it appears that LiveJournal is an option. It looks like facebook is not.


Family Vacation, v 2.0

Q: Would it be crazy to get a last-minute flight and try to meet the cruise at its first port of call?
A: Yes.
Q: Will we do it anyway?
A: Yes.

So tomorrow we're taking a 5AM flight to Belize. Here's hoping for good weather at our Charlotte connection.

Family Vacation, v.1.0: FAIL

Flight cancelled due to inclement weather. Not in Boston- it was sunny here. Detroit was fine. The problem was at our destination: Jackson, Mississippi. No major airlines are flying into Jackson (all four airlines that go to Jackson; it's a small airport). The Family Cruise leaves from New Orleans tomorrow afternoon and there is no way we can get there. They didn't cancel the flight early enough for us to try to drive it (only a 24 hr drive. Guy checked). Finding a last minute flight to New Orleans amid snowmageddon rescheduling, at the beginning of school vacation week, on the last weekend before Mardi Gras, right after the Saints won the Superbowl? Not gonna happen.

According to the agent, Delta will reimburse us for the tickets. So that's at least one stress relief. Airlines like to point out that the weather isn't their fault (well, ok, true) so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary for them to, say, strand us in Detroit instead of cancelling the Jackson leg. Like the saga of Valentine's Day 2007: Detroit --> airspace above a closed Logan -->Detroit.

Cruise Countdown

Tomorrow we take off for a fun-filled family vacation cruise! I doubt I'll have (free) internet access, so my posts will probably be one big wrap-up at the end.

Commence with packing panic in approximately 45 minutes...


OK, so after some pressure from various people [you know who you are] I got a facebook account.

Cool stuff: yay, pictures!
and yet: In one day I have maybe 12 emails from facebook.
I can see where this can get old PDQ.

I'm not sure how much online stuff I can hope to maintain, and obviously I don't have a great track record here. My starting idea is to keep most of the bandwidth (er, such as it is) on lj.

Since I just watched Persuasion [BBC 1995 version], I must post a link to Mostly Water Theatre's Jane Austen Drinking Game.

Gunning for Joey

Joey, for those who have yet to hear me b*tch about him, is the especially well-fed squirrel who hangs about in our yard...

From the Humane Society of the United States:

"Hot Stuff:
The active ingredient in hot peppers, capsaicin, has been marketed as an additive to birdseed to repel squirrels. The theory is that squirrels encounter this highly aversive substance, get a snootful, and decide it's not worth the effort to try again. Birds' nervous systems are geared differently, so they don't appear to sense capsaicin and react to it the way mammals do. While studies show that the amount of harm done to squirrels is not that great, we question this approach when others that cause less pain and harm are available. "

Of course, they don't list any of these "other approaches" that apply to protecting your trees. Clearly, there's an insider in the works brainwashing the Humane Society. If you really think those occasional squirrel-related power outages are "accidents," well, you haven't been paying attention.  Did I tell you about the time this winter when Joey left a corn cob on my windshield?  An act of war if I've ever seen one.


In the interest of equal airtime, I should admit  that Joey has his amusing moments.   We have a pretty effective squirrel-buster feeder.  It's a tube-style hanging feeder with a wire cage that slides past the openings when there's too much weight. This has the interesting side effect of causing Blue Jays to do their best hummingbird impressions.  We strategically set up the feeder beyond reasonable jumping distance from nearby branches and rooflines.  The baffle on the bird feeder has perplexed him, though he will still try to manoever around it on occasion. The other day, after trying some complex hand-over-hand (paw-over-paw?)  techniques that failed, he fell back to the ground.  He stared up at the feeder as if he was concentrating, and then--  He lept for it.  Straight up in the air. And he caught it!  He was hanging by his front paws for a moment before he climbed up onto the feeder and discovered he couldn't get to the openings.  This one? no... This one?  no... up and around, until he was turned face down along the feeder. And then he decided to jump up and down while clinging to the feeder... You could almost hear him swearing as he put all of his squirrel might into it.

It's the first time in ages I wished I had a video camera. 

Gearing up for Squirrel Wars

So the putative almond tree bloomed beautifully. And now it has little fuzzy fruits. So far (OK, as of yesterday) they are untouched.

It's only a matter of time. 

I'm looking at netting and various squirrel repellants. In my information quest, I found this site:


which lists Damage Prevention and Control Methods, including Exclusion, Habitat Modification, Repellents, Toxicants, Fumigants, Trapping, and my personal favorite: Shooting. "Where firearms are permitted, shooting is effective. A shotgun with No. 6 shot or a .22-caliber rifle is suitable. Check with your state wildlife agency for regulations pertaining to the species in your area. "

Hm. Unfortunately, it would be stupid to shoot at the almond tree from pretty much any direction.  Perhaps I'll start by spraying with capsaicin (in oil). Maybe that'll help keep the groundhog at bay as well-- it seems to find lilac bark tasty.


Yesterday I added some fallen brnaches to the rails of the front steps and spread fake spider webbing all over them. 
I put a pumpkin on the front step.
I hung up pumpkin lanterns and turned on the porch light.
I got out the candy and...waited... and waited...

My first trick-or-treaters were teenagers (dressed up!) trick-or-treating for UNICEF. I gave them some change and some chocolate to "fortify them for their fund raising efforts."
It was already dark, and I started to think I wasn't going to get many goblins.  
So when kids started to show up, I doled out loot by the handful. 
At 19:45 I ran out. 
I started giving out my secret stash of Mr. Goodbars (!) and some Japanese rice snacks (sweet & salty).
I still heard kids in the distance. In a panic, I headed for the CVS down the street.  I got the last bag of assorted candy that wasn't the useless cheapo mix. 
I got home before 20:00.
And then there were maybe four more kids.  
I was left with a big bowl of Skittles and Starburst. 
And 3 Mr. Goodbars hiding in the bottom that G. managed to dig up.
[Well,ok,  two after he collected a 'discovery fee.']

This morning I figured I'd take some into work and leave them in the lunchroom that we share with about 3 other small companies.  
There's about 1/3 of that container left still... c'mon late night security guards, help me out here...

Note to self for next year: be patient.  And maybe a little more stingy in the distribution. 

I realized in the early preparatory phase (candy aquisition) that I'm old.  I actually looked at the stuff and thought  "Oh my God, look at all this sugary, corn-syrup infested crap! I should give out toothbrushes! Well, ok, they'd hate that. Maybe raisins."   
Then I came to my senses and picked up some tooth-rotting, insulin-spiking chocolatey goodness.

Oct. 29th, 2007

Hey, I'm all for celebrating. Maybe even getting some souvenir merchandise.  But one can go too far... 

Waterford Boston Red Sox 2007 World Series Commemorative Baseball, yours for just   $165.00.

Purple Lite

So this is what happens when I take online quizzes in a bad mood:

you are lavender

Your dominant hue is blue, making you a good friend who people love and trust. You're good in social situations and want to fit in. Just be careful not to compromise who you are to make them happy.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

(alethia's fault) 

OK, so, typical of me, I took it again. and got this: 

you are lightcyan

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Which I find *really* funny, because lately I've been thinking I should take up target practice just so I can shoot something without risking legal consequences. Oh yeah, my outlook is bright all right. It's downright shiny. 

[OK, I'm actually pale turquoise. First two paragraphs of Cyan, end with Lavender notes. Damn, I'm gonna need to get new clothes--I clash big time]