Category: random


Blogiversary!


It’s my blogiversary!

Well… Technically it was yesterday but as I am terrible at remembering dates I thought it was today. Sorry for not sharing my special made-up holiday with everyone. I kinda wish I had because sweet mercy did I get a ton of hits yesterday – 203 when it’s usually around fifty on a good day. I couldn’t figure it out until I went to Google something and saw that they had a doodle up for Eadweard Muybridge’s birthday. Sure enough, most of my hits were for the weekend picture-post I did featuring his work a while back. (It got more hits than my tooth cleaning stick review, which has been my most popular post of all time.) Mystery solved.

So should I do something fun and spectacular for my one year aniversary, which I honestly thought I would never achieve, or just continue boring everyone with the meaningless minutia of my daily life?

:flips coin:

Boring minutia it is!

Ummm …

:twiddles thumbs:

Let’s get out my old friend, the Wheel o’ Topics, and see what he has for me instead.

:WHIRRR!:

“Ten things that irritate me about vinegar?” It’s an acid, it’s supposed to be irritating. I call do-over.

:WHIRRR!:

“One of my favorites is Arkansas?” Dude, I think I left you in the closet too long. Let’s try one more time.

:WHIRRR!:

“Heres what infuriates me about Dog Food?” That it’s speciest (and also bad grammar.) Once more.

:WHIRR!:

“My opinion on lying to kids.”  Well, I don’t have kids so I don’t have any problem lying to them. I did tell Fearless that she was the smartest kitty in the world the other day, which we all know is a lie. She thinks plastic and cardboard are part of a complete breakfast.

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I was watching Coraline on TV the other night. For those who have never seen this movie, it revolves around a young girl who finds a door to world that mirrors hers but is … different. It goes from quirky to trippy-evil over the course of the movie and one of the unusual things about the world is that everyone in the mirrored world has black button eyes.

This is the first indication that things are not quite right.

While watching the movie, with the main plot point of the creepy button eyes that indicate the very wrongness of the mirrored world, I see a commercial for an odd doll.

Holy. Crap.

I’ve seen these in the store, they are hard vinyl dolls that are meant to look like rag dolls. I personally think they look weird.

It would probably be a good idea for people in charge of programming to screen the commercials they play – the juxtaposition of creepy characters with black button eyes followed by happy little girls playing with plastic dolls with black button eyes was just strange.

:sigh:


My brain is not cooperating with me anymore.

I think of really great blog topics while I’m driving back and forth to work, but as soon as I sit down and start typing, the thoughts vanish.

Damn stupid useless brain. I should poke you with a Q-Tip.

When I’d doing something else –  driving, crocheting, doodling – my brain responds with “Hey, you’re not busy! Here’s a bunch of random shit people might find interesting!” As soon as I sit in front of the computer where those random thoughts might actually do some good, my brain changes gears. “Oh, you’re busy now! We’ll just stuff all this interesting stuff in this closet so you aren’t distracted. Except for this thing about Smurfs. You can keep that.”

So I’m left with a few stray thoughts about Smurfs – mainly how Jokey Smurf should be considered a terrorist, since his only “job” in the communist society of the Smurf Village is to blow things up – and nothing else.

While I’m sure that there is some dark corner of the Internet where people argue all day about such things, I’m not really interested in becoming a part of that community.

Oh …Deer!


I live out in the woods and there is a variety of wildlife around my house –

Such as a peahen

There are also quite a few less-exotic species, such as these;

What?

When we first moved out here, about fifteen or so years ago, it was interesting to have deer around. Our previous house had been too close to the city for them to come near.

The novelty wore off quickly, right about the time we planted a bunch of hosta only to have them eat them down to the bare earth.

These graceful creatures are the reason we can’t have a lot of plants outside – they will eat damn near anything they can reach. They have even shown up on our back deck, which is about twenty feet off the ground. (They took the stairs.) There’s a forlorn apple tree down the hill from us that they routinely strip bare – you can tell exactly how high they can reach because no leaves or fruit exist below a certain level.

GhostDad has a cute little convertible that I like to call his rollerskate – it’s sort of a substitute for the motorcycles he’s no longer able to ride. One evening as he was coming home he saw the herd roaming around not far from our house, so he slowed down.

He never saw the deer jump, as he describes it there was a thump and then all he could see was belly and a sliver of the hood. A split second later the deer vanished into the dark woods on the other side of the road.

Like this, but at night and with a car under her tummy.

She (GhostDad was close enough the confirm that it was a female) had jumped completely over his car, clearing it by only inches. If he had been in another car that wasn’t so low to the ground, she would have likely hit the hood or top of the car and have done serious damage, possibly killing herself and injuring GhostDad. As it was, there was only a single scuff mark on his front right hubcap (that was the thump he heard, it was probably her hoof) and a small dent on the right side of the hood.

Don't worry, it will buff out.

HONK!


I was stuck in traffic a few days ago and noticed that there was quite a bit of honking going on ahead of me. My first thought was “Gee, somebody’s impatient.” but this was more than one person. The sound had a Doppler effect, it seemed to get louder the more I inched forward.

I was on a very busy street, it had narrowed down to two lanes after leaving a more commercial district and there were now houses instead of businesses lining the sides of the road.

After about ten minutes of increasing curiosity, I finally got to see what all the fuss was about.

An enterprising gentleman of mature years had planted a sign, drawn on a torn piece of cardboard with a black marker, in the narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road. On it were four words – “YOU HONK I DRINK”

This gentleman was parked in a rocking chair on the strip of lawn, a big red cooler beside him and a growing pile of cold beverage cans on the other side. Since the honking was pretty much continuous, he was shotgunning beer after beer in a way that made me fear for the safety of his liver.

But he was definitely having a good time.

Ouch.


My cat Firefly loves GhostDad.

Awww... She's pretty cute for a psychopath.

She will sit with him, sleep with him, spend pretty much all her non-crazy time somewhere near him.

Firefly is also obsessed with running water. She will stand in front of the kitchen sink, meowing in the vain hope that someone will take pity on the pathetic kitty and pick her up and stick her in the sink. She will also race into the bathroom if you start walking down the hall, on the off change you might be heading into the bathroom (Or as I imagine she calls it – “The Room Where The Water Lives”) and she might get a sink drink or a tub drink.

GhostDad, as you have no doubt guessed, is of the male persuasion.

(Cat in Bathroom + Running Water Obsession) + Man in Bathroom = Problem

I never realized this until Mother Dearest pointed it out the other day. Now every time I look at Firefly I have to stifle a giggle.

Sometimes it's harder to do than others. She's a pretty heavy sleeper.

Swap Meet


As a sort of follow-up to my Postcrossing post, today I will be talking about Swap-Bot.

WHEEEE!

I discovered Swap-Bot in 2007, shortly afterward GhostSister and Mother Dearest joined after hearing me talk about it.

Swap-Bot is similar-yet-different from Postcrossing; both sites are free to sign up for, require a physical address, promote contact through the mail, and connect you to people you would normally never meet. The difference is that Swap-Bot is largely moderated by its users – users set up swaps and run groups with surprisingly little intervention from the site’s moderators – and things larger than a postcard are normally swapped.

There are actually two kinds of swaps on Swap-Bot – the registered swaps and forum swaps.

Registered swaps are just like they sound; a user will create a swap through the site and post it in the swap listings, they will choose a sign-up period, how many partners each person will have, what the rules of the swap will be. Like Postcrossing there is a ratings system; when a package is received the recipient rates it on a five point system depending on how closely it followed the swap guidelines. If it was a dog-themed swap and someone sent fish flakes instead of a dog bone, they would get a lower rating. You can also add extras to the swap that go beyond the swap guidelines – sending four items instead of five, for example, or including a profile surprise. If the recipient feels the package was extra-special, they can give you a heart. Each user has a rating, displayed on their profile page, showing how many hearts they have earned and how high their score is. Many swappers will refuse to swap with other swappers who have low scores or no score, since it takes a lot of time and effort to put together a swap package. There are usually a few that are newbie-friendly swaps, they are normally small things like postcards or ATCs rather than large complicated swaps, and there is a forum thread of swappers willing to do one-on-one swaps to help a newbie increase their ratings.   Newbies can only have five swaps at the time, as your ratings increase you are allowed to swap more often.

Decorating the envie (envelope) is a good way to get hearts.

Let’s say I want to start a swap that’s cat-themed. I’d pick the dates people could sign up and the date the packages have to be sent by. I would also specify the theme, (cats)  the minimum number of items or amount to be spent, (typically $5-$10 depending on the swap) how many partners each person would get, if it was international, (some people avoid international swaps because of the high postage) and if there was a minimum rating for those who wanted to join. Anyone who looked at my swap could sign up for it, it would be my responsibility to check each person’s ratings and decide if they should stay in the swap. Once I decide who stays and who is banned, I click on the “Assign Partners” button. The site randomly assigns partners based on who has signed up, you might get someone who lives across town or across the world. I was in an Alien Dotee Doll swap and as it happened, Mother Dearest was in the same swap and got me as one of her partners. You don’t necessarily get the same partners who are sending things to you, in the same swap I had two totally different people that I sent dolls to. I would also be responsible for angeling (sending a replacement swap package)  if the swapper’s partner flakes (doesn’t send anything. ) It would also be my job to babysit the swappers, sending messages to remind them to send out their swap, finding out if something was sent but not received, that sort of thing. If everyone in the swap enjoyed themselves they could rate me, as the swap creator, with a star.

I currently have five stars for swaps I have started and a perfect 5.00 rating after four years of swapping. :pats self on back:

Forum swaps are much less formal and quicker, but they don’t count towards your rating. Forum swaps rely on the honor system and there are threads regarding flakers (bad swappers who never complete swaps.)

Among the different fora at Swap-Bot, there is the One-On-One Trades board. There are three categories – Tags, Trades, and Random Acts of Kindness.

The Trades are an excellent example of a barter economy – I might have ten sheets of vintage sheet music and three people may want to trade chocolate bars, or stickers, or a jar of salsa for them. (Yes, I have traded vintage sheet music for a jar of salsa – homemade salsa verde to be specific. It was delicious.) You simply post that you have X and would like Y, Z, or W – someone who has Y would send you a private message to get your info so you could trade.

Then there are the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) postings – someone who is feeling generous will post that they have X and the first (or tenth or whatever) person to reply will get it. To use the same sheet music example, I could post that the first five people to post an original limerick will get two sheets. I would expect nothing in return, the receivers are under no obligation to send me anything.  Most people who receive a RAK will hold on to the sender’s info and send them a profile surprise at a later time, or they might do an angel for them if they get flaked in a swap.

In Tags a swapper will post a list of items, either by name (an eraser, a chocolate bar, a cat toy, etc…) or by description if it’s mystery tag (something red, something fluffy, something sharp, etc…) and someone will post claiming the desired item and post their own list. A  person will list several items to trade and someone will claim one (or two, or however many the tag is for) and post their own items. If no one claims any of  the items after a certain time period (usually a few hours or a day) then the original poster will add something else to the original list. They will usually continue adding items until someone claims something. This is called a Pay It Forward – you help the person under you. There are also Pay It Backs, where you post a list of things you would like. Someone agrees to send one of the items to you and then posts a list of their own.

The astute person will have noticed that there is a tremendous opportunity for a less-than-honest individual to commit various types of fraud.  There is nothing to stop a person from setting up a Swap-Bot account, signing up for a handful of swaps or claiming a few tags, and then vanishing without sending anything. That’s why swappers are leery of doing big swaps with newbies. Swap-Bot also encourages regulars to use a non-home address, preferably a P.O. Box, to prevent some crazed person from showing up and chopping you to bits with a fire ax. I have been flaked on a couple of times, posting a message in the fora and the flaker’s profile and/or giving them a zero rating is the most you can do. Surprisingly there are very few trolls in the fora, I guess it’s hard to stir up trouble when people are discussing the best glue to use on collages. For the most part the posters are polite and don’t use any bad language – a nice change from the penis jokes I’m used to seeing on the Internet.

By and large the items swapped are not terribly valuable – it’s not like swappers are trading uncut diamonds and Picasso sketches – and most are crafting supplies of some type. Ephemera, ribbons, fabric – typical crafting things or artist’s supplies. Food is also big – teas and candy especially. I have a large box of teas I have received from all over the world and a jar of candies that are equally exotic.

I have no idea what half of these are, but most are quite tasty.

It’s a barter economy – what’s valuable to one person is common to another. I once received a stack of British magazines in return for a couple of Jiffy Pops – I enjoyed some reading material I would not have had access to otherwise and my partner got something she enjoyed but had not been able to get in her country.

Many of the swaps are for original artwork of some sort, the most popular being dotee dolls, ATCs, inchies, matchboxes, and postcards.

Postcards are pretty self-explanatory – they are handmade postcards.

An ATC is an Artist’s Trading Card – a 3.5 X 2.5 original work of art. An ATC can be a drawing, a painting, a collage, anything. Some are quite beautiful.

Inchies are one-inch squares that, like ATCs, are original works of art done in any media.

Dotee dolls are art dolls, usually oval, that do not have any arms or legs and are anywhere from three to seven inches long with a face, a “tail” that dangles down, and a loop for hanging. Most dotees are heavily embellished, either with beads, paint, lace, or other materials. I’m on the fence as far as dotees go, I’ve gotten some cute ones and some not-so-cute ones.

Some of the dotee dolls I have received. I couldn't find one. The alien in the spaceship is, of course, my favorite. It's the one Mother Dearest made for me.

Matchboxes are boxes of matches, usually the smaller 32 count ones, that have been emptied and decorated before being filled with small objects. Mostly stickers, beads, and scrapbooking supplies, but anything small enough to fit in a matchbox is fair game.

All that stuff fit in the matchbox. It was a "Favorite Color" swap and my partner liked black, gold, and brown.

Forum swaps are usually small, most are things that can be mailed very cheaply. The bulk of the registered swaps are small things, but not as small as a forum swap. A forum swap might be a single fat quarter or one ATC, a registered swap would be four fat quarters and a few notions or three ATCs done in the same theme. Then there are the big swaps, the ones that take several weeks to put together and can contain quite a few items. I don’t do a lot of big swaps, but I do like to do small ones.

A typical batch of outgoing mail. I like to make my own envelopes out of wrapping paper or wallpaper. I think it makes getting mail even more exciting.

I haven’t swapped recently, but I just signed up for a Macro Photograph Postcard swap that looks like fun. I’ll do a post about that later.

Please Mr. Postman…


Like many people, I love to get mail – as long as it isn’t a bill.

But these days, who sends letters or even postcards? Everything is done via the Internet now.

Well, almost everything.

Let me introduce you to Postcrossing.

Postcrossing is a unique website that anonymously allows you to send and receive postcards from around the world. It’s completely free – just like any other site you have to sign up with a username and email, but you also have to give them your address (it doesn’t have to be your home address, you can use a work address or P. O. Box) so some people might be hesitant to give out that sort of information to total strangers in these days of Internet stalking. You can fill out some profile information – what sort of postcards you like, if you would prefer that they be in envelopes or what have you.

Then comes the fun part.

You click on “Send A Postcard” and you are given a randomly generated address from someone else who is registered with the site. You have no control over who it will be or where they will live – according to the site they have close to two hundred and fifty thousand registered members in almost two hundred countries. Of all the cards I have sent and received none have been from or to the US, so I think it’s set up to purposefully give you addresses from other countries to prevent that whole Internet-stalking thing I mentioned.

I think I have an adequate sample size to state that.

When you receive the address you are given a unique registration number, a combination of your country and a string a numbers (US-123456 or something like that) that you will write on the back of the card you send to that person. You can also include a short note to this random stranger you will never meet, if you like. Once they receive it, they will go on the site and use that code to register the card as received. Once that happens, your name is added to the list to receive cards. Every time a card you have sent out is registered as received, your name goes on the list – you can have up to five cards being sent out at the time. Once one of your sent cards is received, you can send out another.

A selection of cards I have received - from left to right ; Japan, Estonia, Australia

 

There is also a forum section where you can swap cards with other people, usually they will request a certain subject or style and you will message them and swap info. That’s how I got these handmade cards. The clear cat postcard I posted about a couple of days ago was for just such a swap.

 

The blue flowers on the card to the right are actually made of tatted thread and sewn to the card.

 

Postcrossing allows you to pull up a listing of all the cards you have sent and received, how far they have traveled and how long it took them to do so. The fastest I’ve ever received a card was five days, two from Finland and one from the Netherlands. The longest it has ever taken was twenty-seven days, that was from Germany. International postage for a letter or postcard from the US is, I think, ninety-eight cents. Add to that the price of a post card – maybe fifty cents? and you have a relatively inexpensive way to receive mail from around the world.

Itty Bitty Teeny Weeny


I was browsing through The Store Which Must Not Be Named when I noticed the display of trading cards. The last time I had purchased trading cards was … quite some time ago. I think they were the original Garbage Pail Kids.

Things have changed.

There were the usual Pokemon and sports cards, but I noticed several others that came with … stuff. Tiny little toys, to be precise.

And of course I had to buy some.

Squee!

 

These are the Teeniest Pet Shop figures that come with the Littlest Pet Shop trading cards Fun Pak. I bought two packs and got a koi and a deer, which I will no doubt have to guard whenever GhostSister comes over. (She has a thing for deer.) They are roughly the size of a keyboard key. There were some cards, too – but who cares? I wanted the itty bitty animals!

I bought Mother Dearest a pack as well, she got a tiny snail in hers. I was showing mine to her when GhostDad chimed in from his chair.

“What do you need those for?”

I told him the complete truth – absolutely nothing. But look! It’s a tiny deer! It has a tiny white tail! And the fish has tiny fins! Look at the little shell on the little snail!

He gave the Dad Sigh and let us go back to squeeing over the useless bits of adorable plastic.

I’m going to epoxy rare earth magnets to the bottoms of mine so I can use them as fridge magnets. That’ll show GhostDad.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot


I am, as many of you know, of the female persuasion.

While I’m not the girliest of girls, I still like small adorable things like kittens, most babies, and tiny toys you can get out of vending machines.

tiny turtle

Like this itty-bitty turtle - it's standing on my quilting ruler which has a 1-inch grid.

 

Now take that turtle – after you pry it from my cold and rapidly stiffening fingers, of course – and jam him and fifty of his closest friends into a pile a glue that resembles whipped cream.

Congratulations – you’ve created deco-den.

 

I'm pretty sure there are cell phones under all that crap.

 

This particular brand of insanity comes from the Land of Crazy, Japan. It apparently all started with cell phones, called denwa in Japan, and little shops you could go into to take your five hundred dollar sophisticated electronic device and make it look like a toy that came from the dollar store.

 

Needs more icing.

 

While those might look like  Cakewrecks, they are in fact real things. Girls carry them around in their purses next to their cans of Tentacle Repellent.

It has since spread to anything that can be decorated – picture frames, cameras, false nails.

I'm unclear as to how you would be able to wipe your ass while wearing these things. Maybe there's an attachment for that.

 

For the most part the bits of flotsam seem jammed on indiscriminately, but I have found a few that do look as if they were well-planned and have a clear theme.

Okay, that's kinda cute.

 

But on the other hand, I don’t think “Batman” and “rhinestones” are two things that should go together.

 

A little piece of my soul just died.

 

The most impressive thing about this, other than no one has gone blind from the sparkly bits or been choked to death by a plastic teddy bear, is that many of those little gidjets are handmade. People sell tiny molds for making the little cookies, donuts, fruits, and other bits. There are dozens of tutorials on YouTube on how to make the tiny food bits to decorate your crap with and numerous sites to help you figure out how many Hello Kitties you can cram onto a cell phone case.

 

AHHHH! My eyes!

 

There are even dozens of recipes for substitutes for the silicone-based “frosting” glue, which is very hard to find outside of Japan. Most seem to use some sort of caulk and add various ingredients to it.

It just baffles me why someone would want to.