Monday, March 30, 2009

Charity work

Earlier this month I knit these for Citizen Sam (they recently took over Operation Helmetliner), and finally got around to weaving in the ends and taking pictures this week. I have a bad habit of finishing projects quickly, then letting them languish about for weeks (or months, in some cases) with just a stray yarn end or half a bind-off to do. Too bad procrastination isn't a marketable skill-- I could be rich. Rich, I tell you!
The beanie is Ellen's Hat from The Ships Project (Ravelry link), and the neck gator (although I think it ought to be spelled "gaiter") is from the Citizen Sam website. (No Rav pattern link for this one that I could find. I'm also too lazy to bother adding it to their database.)

BTW, on the gaiter/gator I used a sewn cast off that I read about in Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac, and I really like the effect. It's nice and stretchy, and at the same time is a little less bulky than my standard bind off. That EZ sure was one smart cookie.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This isn't funny, Mother Nature.

It's March 29. Last night, after a horrible gloomy day of rain, we got snow. Five inches of wet snow. Just like that, all my hope for spring is dashed. I awoke this morning to find that we are back in the dead of winter. I didn't cover any of my outdoor plants yesterday-- I hope nothing is too damaged.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cutting the cord.

We've been paying $58 a month for Directv for many years (well, it used to be cheaper, but they kept adding crap we don't use, and upping the price). After a very frustrating afternoon yesterday, I mentioned to Mr Deplume that we ought to just get rid of the cable/satellite altogether and just use an antenna and the Internet for our television enjoyment. He bristled at first-- he'd have to give up ESPN! How could he get through a morning without Sportscenter?

But just moments later he saw our 4-year-old beg for another toy that had been pimped on a commercial, and he came around. So after a little talking and futzing with the computer to allow us to watch Burn Notice and Psych episodes on the TV set without cable, the decision was made. This morning I will be calling DirecTV, telling them to just come and pick up their crappy HD receiver that doesn't work on our television and canceling our service.

Last night I went through the massive Tivo Season pass list and deleted all the pay-tv shows. Bye Bye, Food Detectives, see ya around, Mythbusters. Au revoir, Gardening By the Yard. It will be tough without you.

The children will probably have the biggest adjustment. They are used to having 10 different cartoon channels standing by, ready to placate them at a moment's notice. I've saved a few recorded programs for them on the Tivo (I love love love my Tivo), and will be buying some more kid-friendly DVDs. Once summer is here, this will all be easier, as they really love playing outdoors anyway. I know that families are happier with less TV, but the next couple of weeks will try all of our patience, I suspect.

We'll be better for it, right?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I hate Directv right now. A lot.

Directv emailed me a couple of months ago, telling me that I needed a new dish and receiver, because they were switching satellites. I made an appointment for today between 12 and 4. I was pleasantly surprised when the guy showed up at 11:58 AM. He promptly got to work, and now I only have one dish in my yard, which is an improvement,

However, this new box they forced me to get is an HD receiver, one which does not work with my Tivo, my tv, or my Directv account. Because I don't have and HDTV. I have a regular tv. A normal big fat standard definition television. It won't allow my beloved Tivo to change channels to record. I'm getting a little jittery just thinking about it. How on earth can I be expected to watch shows when they are actually on? That's not how I roll.

So I called the handy phone number they had given me and went through the "are you sure you plugged into the wall" questions, and eventually got them to believe me and transfer me to the technical support department. I explained to him that it won't chance channels properly , and then I sat on the line with him for nearly 15 minutes while he breathed into his headset and typed on his keyboard. After the 15 minutes, he said "there's nothing we can do for you."

And I said "no, you need to fix this."

He said, "well, Directv upgraded your receiver, but didn't charge you for the service call, nor did they force you to pay for HD service, so there's nothing more I can do. Since the the problem is with the Tivo, maybe you should call them to see if they've found a solution" As if it's Tivo's fault.

I relized I was not going to get anywhere with the Directv guy, so I actually tried calling Tivo. The girl at the other end of that call was more sympathetic, but had no decent answers for me and put me on hold to find out about new products that they might have for me. I waited a couple of minutes, but eventually hung up.

And then I did what any other sane person would, I shopped for DishNetwork and Mediacom deals on the internet. Unfortunately, once the honeymoon with those folks is over, their customer service would be just as bad.

I just called DirecTV again, got a standard customer service guy and he said "they shouldn't have given you an HD receiver, they can come out on Monday to reinstall a regular one."


I just spent 3 godforsaken hours on phone calls to people who don't give a shit, repeating the modern-day custserv mantra: "I'm sorry that must be frustrating for you", and it turns out I got the wrong receiver in the first place?? What the hell? I think I might be more angry than I was when I though the programmers of the new-fangled boxes had made a mistake and they were just stupid. I might still cancel the DirecTV just to make a point. I wish I weren't so addicted to a few cable TV shows, or I'd just cancel it altogether and switch to using just Netflix and Hulu and iTunes for my boob tube-type enjoyment.

And people wonder why a little part of me wants to go live with the Amish?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Something to report!

Sorry folks, for being absent so long. I just had nothing all that interesting to write, so I didn't bother. But this weekend saw something done to the house, so I took pictures. On Saturday I got all twitchy about the 40+ feet of yew bushes along the south side of my house and started sawing them down. With my neighbor's trusty hand saw, I deleted three of the overgrown buggers with my bare hands. I unfortunately have no photographic evidence of said bushes-- I neglected to take 'before' pictures.

On Sunday, Mr. Deplume borrowed a friend's chainsaw (we really do have tools of our own, just not the correct ones for this particular job) and went to work on the rest of them. Within an hour or so we went from this (the bush-free part of the house to the left of the screen is where the bushes I removed had stood):
From House

to this:
From House

I count it as an improvement, although removing the one very large eyesore revealed many little ones. There is a water meter, electric meter, air conditioning unit, furnace vents, a few miscellaneous wires and boxes for phone and electricity, a defunt cable hookup and chunk of broken veneer on the foundation we hadn't noticed before. Of course there are still 40-year-old yew stumps that need to be dealt with, as well. I foresee a bunch of my summer being involved in installing trellises and fences and camouflage plants. 'Tis the fun of home ownership, I suppose.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Note to self: Do not look up ways to prevent apple pests whilst eating breakfast. Not only are the pictures of the caterpillars yucky, but reading the words of one cheeky organic grower put me right off my feed. What were the words, you ask? Why of course they were "where's the other half of the worm?" blarf. Anyway, after wasting about an hour on the internet trying to become an expert on organic orchard maintenance, I think I'll just call my local Extension office and let them tell me what to do.

On a happier note, reading about apples and orchards always makes me sing this song.