To Smoke or Not To Smoke

Ahhh… Whether or not to smoke… that is definitely not the question everyone has to ask. But for me that has almost always been the question. I have been a smoker for [Mom, stop reading right now…] almost 27 years [Mom, ok, you can start reading again…]. I have tried EVERYTHING (ok, maybe not everything, since I did draw the line at electro-shock therapy) to quit and nothing has ever fully stuck. Honestly, I like smoking. I like the clouds of pretty smoke that comes from a cigarette. I have made lots of friends while smoking. I like the conversations that happen when everyone is forced to go outside and take a real break from their work to smoke. I did not like the smokers hack I was starting to develop though… And I hated the ashtray smell on my clothes and in my hair. So I decided to make a change.

Almost 5 years ago I read about electronic cigarettes. I thought they were a pretty cool idea, but never really explored them. Two years ago that changed. I bought my first e-cig and starting using it off an on. I would alternate between smoking and “vaping” (using the e-cig). At first, it was more smoking than vaping, but I gradually shifted to more vaping than smoking. This month, I finally made the switch to vaping all the time!

If you think you will always be a smoker because you have always been a smoker, then you might want to watch some of vapingpoint’s YouTube videos.

Hmmm… I’m thinking I might start including flavor reviews on here in the future….

Just a thought

I recently took a trip. It was a great trip, had a wonderful time. But it got me thinking about all sorts of things. People handle situations differently. Some people get upset when things are not going the way they think they should and others just roll with the changes. I’m one of those “glass full” kind of people (at least most of the time – sometimes I’m a realist). I am directionally challenged, but most of the time when I get lost I think of it as an adventure. I tend to discover something I wouldn’t have otherwise found if I had arrived at my destination as planned. I like to explore and learn more about everything around me.

People handle situations differently and I think its great. I think it is wonderful that people comes in all sorts of flavors. I love watching people and seeing how they are in real day-to-day situations. Not in the stalker sense, but in the anthropologist type of interest.

Which brings me to my thought… Life is an adventure, live it like one!!

Strange Things I Remember

peas in milk I’ve been thinking lately about people I have known over the years and what I remember most about them. Strangely enough, the things I remember are not what you might expect. I don’t necessarily remember their names or what they did for a living or how we knew each other. The things I do recall are just random bits and pieces of this or that.

It is truly amazing to me how diverse we all are. People who are considered normal can have more quirks than people who are weird. Personally, I like being in the weird category, but I am probably considered pretty normal – oh well, at least it’s not for lack of trying…

Strangely enough, what inspired this post was that I overheard a conversation in a restaurant about eating peas but only if they were in a bowl of milk and I remembered that I knew someone who did that, but I couldn’t remember much else about them.

So here are just a spattering of those things that have stuck in my head over the years about people I have known:

  • One girl I knew wore more jewelry than anyone I had ever met before. She had rings on every finger (including her thumbs), at least 10 earrings in each ear, and even wore a toe ring.
  • I knew a guy once that would only eat cooked green beans IF they were covered in ranch dressing.
  • I had an over 21, but under 30 male roommate that had a bumper sticker on his very own station wagon (he actually purchased it-it was not given to him by his parents). the bumper sticker said , “If you drink like a fish, swim don’t drive.” He did drink like a fish and he very rarely drove at all – whether he had been drinking or not.
  • A former co-worker of mine was one of the tallest, broadest woman I have ever met. Her best friend was the shortest, plumpest woman I have ever known.
  • A very dear friend of mine loved buttered popcorn with peanut M&M’s. She would mix them together and eat them at the same time. She said it was sweet and salty like trail mix – only better.
  • An acquaintance wouldn’t open the microwave before the timer went off for fear of harmful radiation. In fact, he would scream if you opened the microwave door while it was still running. Whether this is a true fact or not I may never know, but it was oh-so-much fun to mess with this guy.
  • A friend of mine only wore Converse tennis shoes no matter what the occasion. He even wore them to a fancy black tie event once. Although, after walking around all night at the same event in 4-inch heels, I couldn’t blame him for the choice of footwear.
  • I had a teacher once who had really big hair. She would lean up against the chalkboard while lecturing and where her hair had been the chalk was completely erased. I wonder if she ever figured it out – cause we certainly never told her…

Does anyone else have any strange things they remember about people they have known? If so, put them in the comments.

To click or not to click

dollar signI’ve been thinking lately, yes that is new for me and no I didn’t strain anything doing it. Where was I? Oh yes – thinking. I was thinking about the state of the economy. I know that is some pretty heavy thinking for a girl like me 🙂

I know there are long term political agenda items that are supposed to eventually help everyone out, but I think we can do our part to have a more immediate effect. There are tons of people out there with blogs or some sort of web publication. Almost all those people have ads or affiliate links on their site. I think we could help to stimulate the economy by clicking on the ads on the sites that we visit.

Clicking one little ad costs us nothing and helps out other people tremendously. Just one little click and you may be the one click that blogger needed to get a check that month from their advertising. That one check may be enough for them to buy a breakfast at their local diner. That one breakfast may be enough to allow the diner to give a paycheck to their part time chef. That part time chef may then have enough money to pay their rent for the month. The landlord will then be able to make the mortgage payment for the month. Which means one less foreclosure. Which means …

It’s amazing what we can do when we try to help others.

Seriously Bad Idea-Hostess Glo-Balls

You know, I really had a bunch to say about this product. I droned on and on for several paragraphs about the product title, the color, and oh so much more. But then it dawned on me that a picture really is worth a thousand words…

Via Great White Snark: Link

Review: LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4

Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 I recently purchased LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and spent more than a few hours playing it. I really love the LEGO games and have been playing them for years now. This game follows along well with the story of Harry Potter and gives you all the nifty LEGO characteristics you have come to expect from their games.

As you work your way through the game, you get to learn new spells and make potions. Once you have learned a spell, you get to use it throughout the game. You get to play different characters during the game. You can be Harry or Hermione or Ron or Hagrid (you get the idea). Most of the characters have something that is unique to them that helps you in different places within the game. These unique abilities stay pretty true to the characters as you already know them.

Looking at the game title you would think that it is a kids game. And it is true that kids can play these games without too much frustration. It is also true that the games are challenging enough for the adult player. I wouldn’t say that these games are for the hard core gamer, but they are definitely worth playing for most game playing levels.

I haven’t had a ton of time to play this since I bought it, but I did make it all the way through the first year’s story. Once I make it through the entire game, I will go back in the free play mode and collect all the extra stuff I couldn’t grab on my through the first time. This is one of the best parts of the LEGO games. You play it once for the story and then play it again to get all the good stuff and find all the hidden items. Its like a treasure hunt – so much fun!

5 Wrong Things

I’ve done five things wrong this year on my blog.

  1. Neglect, neglect, neglect: I have posted very rarely since the beginning of the year. Actually, rarely may be a bit of an understatement – what I should fess up to is the fact that this is my third post here since January. I have lots of ideas for posts – I just need to start getting them put into an actual written form. I have reviews of all kinds floating around my head. I have things to gripe about. I have funny stories (okay some of those are work related and can’t be posted here, but I still have them). I have stupid conversations to share with you all. I have actually managed to go a place or two this past year that you might like to hear about. But have I written anything about any of that – no!
  2. Poorly written posts: As if it weren’t enough to have to admit that I have only posted twice this year. The things I have written are not up to my own personal standards of well anything really. I went back and read them and I was not impressed. One of them was a re-hash of old material and the other was just me griping. Definitely not the best writing to read.
  3. Serious lack of images: I like pictures. I like seeing an example of what it is someone is talking about. I think digital cameras were invented for one really good reason. That is to instantaneously give us access to those moments captured in time. I could really use a few images back here. There have been no images at all on my blog since last year. And there is not a single image on any of my front page posts at all. I have a digital camera or two floating around my purse and I think it is about time I started using at least one of them again.
  4. Broken promises: I clearly recall at least promising to myself that I would be a little more consistent this year about putting something worth reading out here. I have broken that promise to myself and to anyone out here that is still reading. I promise, right here and now, that I will not promise anything else… Okay, just one promise: I promise to try to do better in the second half of this year than I did in the first half. Now I know that really isn’t saying much, but it is the best I can do right now.
  5. Lack of balance: My life is currently out of balance. Not that my life is bad. It is actually really good. But the balance that I used to have between work and life has really gotten out of whack. I work too much and I know it. I keep up with my family and friends via social networking sites instead of direct contact methods.

I’m not writing this as an apology or to give any excuses for my lack of writing. I am writing this to remind myself of how things are right now is not a reflection of how things need to be in the future. I know that the first step in any road to recovery is always to admit your previous mistakes. So as I work on my road to recovery of my writing space, I will look back at this post as my guide of what not to do on a blog. At worst, at least talking about all this gives me more than two posts for the year.

Television killed the conversation

I’ve noticed a bit of a trend lately and I don’t think I’m very happy about it. I have noticed that when the tv is turned on while people are talking, the conversations are dull and there are pauses every few minutes while someone takes a peek at whatever is playing. Don’t get me wrong, I watch tv. I watch several programs on tv. I like to record it and fast forward through most of the commercials when I watch the show – this saves me a ton of time and I still get to see the show (and this comes from a person known to watch more commercials that actual shows). But that is a whole other topic.

It seems like tv is everywhere. You go out to a semi-nice restaurant and there is a tv. You go to the mall and there are lots of tvs (ok those are for sale, but they are still there).  There are tvs in almost every room of almost every house. I’ve even seen a few tvs in bathrooms (it will be a cold day in h*ll before the tv shows up in any of our bathrooms). I keep waiting for tvs to show up in my favorite bookstore or the local museums. They are always on, even when nobody is watching them, and they are always distracting.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it seems like they have replaced talking. People don’t really talk when the tv is on. They have these semi-conversations that pause and never seem to get very interesting. Now, there are times when a tv can spark a real conversation or two, but this is the exception rather than the rule. The tv isn’t just background noise like music, it is a truly distracting object that is bigger than almost anything else going on in the room.

The television itself isn’t the problem, it is the fact that it is left on while people are trying to have a conversation. I wouldn’t even bring it up here, but it is happening more and more frequently. We go out to dinner with friends and everyone starts watching one of the many tv sets that are strategically placed around a restaurant. We go over to any number of our friends houses and the tv is on (not all of our friends do this – our best friends don’t, but more do than don’t). Seriously people – turn the tv off for a couple of hours! Have a real conversation!

I’d love to see in the comments if everyone else feels the same way or if I am just completely off my rocker. Do you turn your tv off when you have company? Do you think every restaurant should have a tv? Do you have a tv in your bathroom?

Top Content of 2009

Another year has come and gone. The year is past, the decade just flew by, and merrily we go into the new year. With the year over, it is time once again to look back and see what was popular around here. I have been posting a top content post every year since this blog began (2006, 2007, and 2008) and every year I end up being surprised by one or two of the posts on the list (in a good way).

  1. Women of the Underworld Series: This, by far, was my most popular post of 2009. I had many searches for it and many more people who read it (or at least stuck around long enough to have read it – according to the statistics). Granted not one of the thousands of people who read the post ever managed to leave a comment (or send me an email) telling me that I had the name of the series of books posted incorrectly in the title. No people, it was not intentional – it was a mistake! Either everyone was being very polite (thank you for being thoughtful), or they had the name of the series wrong as well. The series is really called The Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong (fast becoming one of my favorite authors). I did manage to get the name of the series correct in the post itself – just not in the title. I think that the popularity of the post means that I will be creating a follow-up post to the original sometime this year (especially since the series has grown quite a bit since I first posted it).
  2. Gummy Banana Slug: Seriously, how many people are putting that into those tiny, little search boxes intentionally? Well, I don’t know (although I do appreciate you doing it). But I do know that lots and lots of those people showed up here as a result of those searches. I’ve said it before and I’m not afraid to say it again: Eeeewwww!!!!!
  3. Sock Monkey Dress: The dress to wear to those black-tie evenings that you just must look your absolute best! It is a sock – no wait. It is a monkey – no wait. It is a dress? Yep, it really is.
  4. T-Rex Superbike: By far one of the coolest bikes available! If I ever replace my scooter, this is definitely on my list of replacements. When I bought my first bike it was mostly just to combat the rising costs of gas, but I have found that I ride it now for pleasure and don’t use it for the commute to and from work. Taking the bike out clears the cobwebs out of your head and puts a smile on your face (just make sure to keep your mouth closed to avoid sucking on the bugs).
  5. Dog Helmets: I think people must be taking their dogs out on their motorcycles more often (or they are dressing them up as bikers for Halloween). They must be doing something because this post was very popular last year. I never have taken my dogs out on the bikes – I’m too afraid of them jumping off the back while out on the road. I have seen one or two dogs riding in a sidecar every now and then but they weren’t wearing a helmet.
  6. Star Trek: A Movie List: A very nice list (if I do say so myself) of all the Star Trek movies in my order of preference. I wonder if watching them in order of worst to best on my list would make more sense than watching them in their original order?
  7. Top 10 Lip Balms: Another list on this list is all about lip balms. It was an is a very informative post all about different lip balms. I have a confession to make about that list. I no longer use any of the lip balms mentioned on that list at all. I have completely switched to Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm.
  8. The Price of Beauty: A pretty popular post that I am not sure was really what the people searching were hoping to find.
  9. 10 Uses for Your Old iPhone: A new iPhone has arrived on scene pretty consistently since the first one was released. Each year the new version is cooler than the previous version. Each year as you drool over the keynote speech you have to decide what to do with your old iPhone. I only listed 10, but I can think of a few more…
  10. Sexy Female Professions: What can I say about this list? I think it just speaks for itself…

That’s it for the list this year. Thanks for reading my stuff! If you keep coming along to read it, I will keep on writing it (no really that is not a threat).

Adventures in the bathroom

Just how many times can you hit your hand with a hammer before you break your hand? I don’t think that this is a question that people ask often and I know it is not a question I ever thought I would have. But somehow this is a question that came to mind during a recent stint of home repairs.

If you had of asked me what I would be doing in my spare time last week, I never would have said anything about working on the house. As a matter of fact, I probably would have said something about blogging at least one post sometime before the last of my faithful readers gave up on me. I might have said something about reading a good book or calling my mother before she really believes that I ran off and joined the circus (no mom, I’m not really going to do that). I definitely would not have said anything about home repairs.

My house, overall, hasn’t needed much in the way of work in the many years we’ve owned it. It isn’t the greatest house in the world, but it had a great price (really cheap) and was mostly move-in ready at the time when we needed a new place to live. It has severed us well and we don’t have too many complaints. Last month we saw that we had a little increase on our water bill – it was about $5-$10 higher than normal. We decided that since there wasn’t much of a reason for this (no leaky faucets and no time to do laundry) that we would call out a plumber to take a look under the creepy, crawl space under the house. We made the call and set an appointment day and time. When the plumber arrived early one morning, we pointed him in the direction of the 1 foot tall by 2 feet wide hole in the wall that served as the entrance to at least 900 square feet of house covered dirt (house is part slab and part raised – its an old house so there has been lots of strangeness done to it over the years prior to our owning it). He opened the little door that keeps the spiders under the house (where they belong) and started to crawl inside (or would that be under-I never could decide). He made it in to his armpits and said the words that you NEVER want to hear a plumber say, “I think you might have a little problem.” in case you have never heard a plumber say anything like that-let me translate. That means you have a giant problem that is going to cost you loads of money to fix and if you survive the estimate that he is going to give you, you will still wish you had let the “little problem” all alone until it caused a problem big enough to actually be covered by insurance!

So, back to the story, he crawls back out from underneath the house and says there is about 2-3 inches of water in the crawl space (translated as about 900 square foot of house). He says there is probably a leak somewhere so he is going to crawl back under there while we turn on and off some faucets (which we do). He determines, from what he can see from one end of a dark hole, that we have a leak in the shower. While it doesn’t make much sense to have that much water from just one shower, we take him at his word and move on to next steps. After all that, he says he’ll be back in a couple of days to pump out the water in the crawl space at $75 per hour. I am not kidding about the $75 per hour charge either.

Now if you think a couple of card carry members of the Home Depot are going to wait around for some guy to come back in his own sweet time to move a submersible pump around under the house for hours on end, then you might want to think again. I immediately pulled up submersible pumps online and found a place in town that rents them for, get this, $25 a day. My sweety got on the phone and started calling every person we knew who was small enough to fit in the hole and would be willing to go swimming in the dark. She found a willing family member and we went and picked up the pump. Her nephew arrived within a couple of hours and set the pump.

In the meantime, we head to work on the shower (because that’s where the plumber says the leak is). We open the access panel and check the pipes and determine that they are almost as old as the house (which is almost older than both our ages put together) and could stand a replacement, but they aren’t leaking. We check the faucet, shower head, drain, etc and see that none are leaking. After more of this checking and re-checking and process of elimination we find out that the leak is between the shower wall and the tub. Oh good, we just need to go about re-caulking the tub. We start ripping out the old caulking and see that there is, of course, a little more to it than that. There was a large gaping hole in the tile that was being covered up by various layers of caulking that you could stick your whole hand and arm in if you had of wanted to feel for the drowned spiders underneath the house, I didn’t.

After much cussing of the previous homeowner and discussion about whether to cover it back up for the next poor slob to discover, if we ever sell the house, or fix it right. We decided to fix it right (next time I’m taking my chances with karma and cover it back up). Since the hole was too large to patch and the original tile no longer being available, we decided it would all have to be torn out. Just so you don’t get the wrong idea, tearing out tile in a 60+ year old house is not so much tearing as it is hammering, chiseling, cutting, and scraping. We started this process out with a regular hammer and chisel which only removed two tiles after two hours of heavy hitting. We then graduated to a sledgehammer, the kind you normally see splashing watermelon guts all over audiences (if you don’t get that reference, then you may not be old enough to read my blog). This was much more effective, but did manage to make the dogs run for cover while making us wonder how solid was the house really built. Solid enough apparently to withstand hours of pounding with only a few nail pops appearing in adjoining walls.

Two days later, the tile has been removed, the water has been pumped out from under the house (you thought I wasn’t going to mention that again-didn’t you), a giant fan has now been placed at the entry hole, and the plumber is back. He crawls back under the house to verify the leak and says those magic words again, “I think you might have a small problem under here.” this time we were better prepared, we had already had the nephew take a look at the pipes while he was under there. Basically, we had a cast iron pipe running almost the full length of the house that is used for draining water (not sewer-thank goodness). The pipe had rusted out in several places and would need to be replaced. The pipe was not connected to the bathroom at all – figures. The plumber didn’t have everything he needed to be able to fix the pipe while he was down there, so he sets another appointment to come back the next day.

Early morning the next day he comes back with a helper. One guy crawls back into the hole in the wall and the other guy starts feeding what looks like miles of pipe into the hole. The pipe is PVC and they measure and cut and glue and make a huge mess, but eventually they get it all finished. He still charged $75 an hour plus parts, but at least it was for something more than pumping the water out of a hole in the ground.

Meanwhile, we are still having hours of fun in the bathroom putting the shower all back together. We decided to go with a 3 piece shower wall insert instead of re-tiling. It seemed like it would be much simpler than getting all those tiles back onto the wall. Boy were we sadly mistaken. While shower inserts are a good idea in theory, they are a terrible choice for an old house. A shower insert works well if you have square walls – our house is 60+ year old (in case you forgot) and has nothing resembling anything square (or straight if you are keeping track). Somehow we did finally manage to get those walls to square and level. It took several weeks (we have full-time jobs that really don’t understand when you don’t show up because you have to fix your bathroom), but it is once again functional.

So to answer my original question of how many times can you hit your hand with a hammer before you break your hand? I’m not exactly sure. Both of us managed to keep all our bones in one piece through this whole mess. So I have to say, I can hit my hand at least 20 times with a hammer before I get irritated enough to send the hammer on its merry way sailing high into the sunset. But hitting your hand at least 20 times with a hammer will cause extensive bruising to your hand that will last for at least a week causing others to ask silly questions about your bathroom activities.