It may seem like I've abandoned this blog. There is always something I should be doing instead. So I do some of those things, and do other things (like read books or magazines) instead of doing those things, and somehow never catch up on the blog. I have a file listing events I want to talk about, and some of them go back to October, so there's lots to come.
Taxes are the looming blot on the horizon. I'm entering financial data into Quicken, which I always vow I'll keep current on and end up doing the entire year in April. I entered cash receipts, still doing checking account transactions (finished utilities and actual checks, still doing credit card autopayments), and then investment accounts. Then I load TaxCut and calculate the return. Down to the wire, as usual. Happy birthday to me!
Doing taxes is like a "year in review" as I go through credit card bills and such. I bought:
1) A new shower curtain to replace the old one with soap scum and safety-pinned holes that kept needing re-pinning (which is why there was no point in scrubbing off the soap). The new one is thin and probably supposed to have a liner, but it'll do.
2) Zip-It drain cleaners - The handyman unclogged my kitchen sink a while ago, but water still fills up while washing dishes. The drain glug-glugs when I take the cover off and the black rubber ring seems shot, so it actually drains better without the grating (but then more food goes down to potentially clog it). So I ordered Zip-It, which pulled out a little crud but didn't make any difference (it did pull hair from the bathroom sink and bathtub, which were running OK anyway). I tried baking soda/vinegar twice and that helps a little. I'll keep trying these, and will look into things like Kleer Drain if it doesn't improve. Or I could call the handyman again.
3) TiVo network adaptor - I've wanted to connect the TiVo to my computer network for a while and was scared I wouldn't be able to hook this up, but even I could find the plug on the back. Unfortunately, my series 2 model can't handle Netflix streaming.
4) Cables to hook the iPod to my great stereo speakers - I got 2 different cables, hooking to the bottom and earphone jacks of the iPod, and both sound good. The cable can also hook the laptop earphone jack to the speakers, so Rhapsody and Pandora can sound great (Rhapsody also can be accessed through TiVo, and the cable can go from the TV to the speakers). This is especially nice, since the stereo's CD player, turntable and tape deck are broken; just the tuner works. So my sound system has vastly improved with a tiny investment in cables. I previously bought a Bose SoundDock, which is fine, but I missed my big speakers.
5) E-mail recovery programs - A potential disaster happened when AOL could no longer handle my huge filing cabinet with about 15 years of e-mail. I've blocked the events out of my mind, but it was not going well. Worse, I hadn't backed up the cabinet since 2008. AOL tech support made me reinstall and upgrade my version. We kept a copy of the corrupted cabinet on the desktop but AOL would not open when I moved it in. Luckily, I found a program called ePreserver which read the corrupted file into Outlook, making it worth its cost. I was so happy to see that mail again... and again... and again. ePreserver somehow also preserved deleted files or extra copies and there were a lot of duplicates. So I found another program (not free, but very cheap) to clean the duplicates from Outlook. Turns out it didn't know that (username)@aol.com and (username) were the same person, so there were still lots of duplicates, which I erased manually (and probably still have some; lots of cleaning up left to do).
The AOL tech mentioned that I could save my mail on AOL itself which avoids any cabinet problems. I never knew this! So now I'm saving all sent and received mail on AOL, and I'll save anything really important to my PC.
In other technical news, after 2 weeks I had no response from Facebook on the problem mentioned in an f-locked entry. I ran into K online who has VERY GOOD connections with FB and was able to get it fixed immediately. Thanks!
"Dedication" by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus - I liked the authors' other books, but this situation just seemed too contrived. Kate's high school boyfriend (and longtime crush) runs off to become a rock star and conveniently forgets his old friends (and the fact that they deserve songwriting credit for his big hit). Even though much of his music is about Kate, they haven't actually seen each other in years until she hears he's back in the old hometown, flies back there, and ... BOOM. Sorry, I just didn't buy it.
"Chambermaid" by Saira Rao - Fresh out of Columbia Law School, Sheila lands a prestigious federal clerkship for a Philadelphia judge. Part of the "Devil Wears Prada" unreasonable boss genre (oh no, she did WHAT?), it kept me turning the pages.
"Schooled" by Anisha Lakhani - Anna teaches at an elite Manhattan private school and finds she can easily exceed her meager salary by tutoring after-hours. In most cases "tutoring" means doing the students' work for them. Parents get upset when their kids get excited about learning (takes up too much time) or are required to show mastery in class (where the tutors can't do the work for them), and the school administration sides with the parents (who pay the bills). Fascinating and depressing at the same time.
"Love, Mary" by Mary Gwynn - Mary (fictional) works at a romance book publisher and deals with crazy authors, co-workers, bureaucracies, friends, neighbors and love interests. Amusing, light, and funny, this 1981 novel seems a touch old-fashioned: it's entirely in the form of letters - you know, those things on paper.
"The Love You Make" by Peter Brown & Steven Gaines - Peter Brown was a Beatles associate dating back from Liverpool days and here he dishes the dirt - lots of sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (gee, maybe Paul is not my intended after all, though he does come off as far less debauched than John). Published in 1983, the book begins with Cynthia Lennon returning from a 1968 trip to find Yoko in her house, and ends with John's murder (with flashbacks to earlier times in between).
"Tickled Pink" by Rita Rudner - Like the author, Mindy Solomon leaves Miami to become a dancer in New York and eventually goes into stand-up comedy. I don't know if the real Rita knew people like the rest of the characters in the book - the gorgeous Ursula, her savvy mother Eva, various players in the comedy world and evil Hollywood. I've seen Rudner live, and reading this book is like sitting down with an old friend who has some wild stories to tell.
"Larry's Kidney" by Daniel Asa Rose - (nonfiction) Larry is fading fast and has no other options when he asks his estranged cousin Dan to accompany him to China on a legally dubious journey to procure a new kidney (and check out a potential bride he met on the Internet). For some reason, Dan agrees to leave his family to travel on this mission. China is a different world filled with smog, crowds, and people speaking broken English who may or may not be trustworthy. Through a series of chance (or are they?) acquaintances, Larry and Dan eventually arrive in an industrial city, find a surgeon, and then wait 2 months for an organ to become available (reportedly from an executed prisoner). Just reading about their time in China, I experienced culture shock and intense homesickness and desire for the familiar, and for that reason was happy to finish the book.
I have a big pile of NYT puzzles I can throw away after listing Fri/Sat or other non-sprint times:
Friday, 1/29 (Doug Peterson) 6:26
Saturday, 1/30 (Mark Diehl) 8:30
Friday, 2/5 (Joe Krozel) 8:33
Saturday, 2/6 (Frederick Healy) 5:39
Friday, 2/12 (Kevin Der) 7:39
Saturday, 2/13 (Ashish Vengsarkar) 6:56
Friday, 2/19 (Victor Fleming) 5:26
Saturday, 2/20 (Paula Gamache) 10:09, error C at 18A/3D
Friday, 2/26 (Josh Knapp) 6:38
Saturday, 2/27 (Patrick Duggan) 10:07
Friday, 3/5 (Louis Hildebrand) 6:11
Saturday, 3/6 (Barry Silk) 7:19
Friday, 3/12 (Tim Croce) 6:52
Saturday, 3/13 (Tyler Hinman/Byron Walden) 11:44
Friday, 3/19 (Trip Payne) 5:20
Saturday, 3/20 (Joe Krozel) 10:49
Friday, 3/26 (Henry Hook) 9:49
Saturday, 3/27 (Sam Donaldson) 8:26
Thursday, 4/1 (Lee Glickstein) 9:34, got the gimmick early, but still slow. Really liked it, though.
Friday, 4/2 (Alan Olschwang) 7:25
Saturday, 4/3 (Peter Collins/Joe Krozel) 6:15, error T at 43A/46D