Furbabies

This has been an odd week for our house. Earlier this week one of my cats, LG, started marking everywhere, he’s a neutered domestic shorthair prone to attitude problems. He’s been known to tell he he’s upset by marking, so I figured I wasn’t giving him enough attention and perhaps Boo Bear was giving him too much. How does one help an active 14 month old boy that while he likes to give loveys the cats don’t want them? I’ve done it by telling him no and encouraging the cats to seek higher ground like the couch and our bedroom. If a cat is in the laundry basket of clean clothes, all bets are off and Boo can give loveys. I turned all the empty laundry baskets upside-down, took away all the boxes and plastic bins that LG thought might have been a useful litterbox substitute.

I know about UTIs in cats and bladder problems, so I stayed on top of his marking, or tried to, it seemed to stop after a day or two of me giving extra attention and corralling the Boo. Fast forward to yesterday when I find he marked a laundry basket with a couple of drops and right in front of us tried to mark on an oven mitt, in a box and a few other places with only a few drops. That’s not an angry kitty, that’s a hurting kitty.

We called the vet, she came in to the office to see us off hours, did some tests and pronounced UTI, a few small crystals and some meds to help clear everything up. I had to isolate him so I could check that he was peeing, which he did but then he stopped keeping food down which happens to both him and his brother if they have antibiotics. By the eight o’clock tonight he hadn’t peed again so back to the vet we went. He’s having a sleepover at the vet’s to clear out his bladder and hopefully get well again.

We’ll be switching him back to his old food to try to get his system back in balance. I’ve spent the last several hours online tracking down the old cat food. I used to special order food through a pet store in GR because the boys are allergic to chicken, we found that Nature’s Variety Lamb & Rice was a good formula had ordered it for 4 or 5 years, then it changed to Lamb & Oatmeal and the store called to make sure that was what I wanted. I thanked them for their diligence and gave them the go-ahead to order it, we went with a certain size bag of that formula for another few years. I place this order every 3-4 months for 7 or 8 years total, always keeping a bag in reserve for possible delays. I last attempted to order it about 6 months ago and waited and waited and waited. I opened the last reserve bag 4 months ago and finally I called the store to see when the food would arrive. The store was unable to order the food and was waiting to try again on the next month’s order but hadn’t bothered to tell me. It turned out to be a packaging change and someone wasn’t smart enough to ask if I just wanted a different sized bag. Someone just decided to keep asking the distributing company for a size that was never going to be restocked or someone from the distributing wasn’t smart enough to find out why the pet food store couldn’t have it. I decided to try to find something in the store that I wouldn’t have to order. That just about sent me over the edge, this is a special order, if there are problems, I need to know. All this to say, I switched the cats to a new food 3 months ago or so and it’s caused LG problems so now I have to switch back to the old one.

I love the internet. I found a lovely place, I hope it’s lovely, that has a few of the old sized bags left and presumably will have the new bags when those run out. Between a nice sale and the place taking PayPal, I’ve got two bags that should be here by Sat. or next Mon. at the latest. What to do with the food the can’t eat, maybe I’ll take it to the food pantry.

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Documentary: Who Killed the Electric Car?

I watched this documentary tonight. The more I learn in life the more I despise our national leaders.

  • Do you remember solar panels on the roof of the White House? I admit I know this, I just want sources.
  • Do you remember who had them removed?I admit I know this, too and it greatly saddens me. I just want sources.
  • Why would the GM purchase the controlling interest in a patent for a huge electric car battery and then sell it to a big oil company?
  • Why was a member of the hydrogen car movement be allowed to sit on a board that determined the fate of electric cars in California?
  • Why would car companies produce EV cars, lease them, recall the lease and crush the cars when lessees wanted to purchase the cars?
  • When will big business admit there are consumer demands they refuse to acknowledge?
  • Why did cities switch from electric cars to gasoline powered buses?

If you have the answers with sources to back it up, I’d love to hear about it here.

NaBloPoMo 2009

nablopomo2009

I have successfully completed another Nov. 30 posts in 30 days. I have learned some valuable lessons and managed not to blog about the 30 posts in 30 days as any of my Nov. posts. Well, mission accomplished by the skin of my teeth no thanks to my webhost going down for several hours just as I was finishing my post. This week has been lousy for my satisifaction rating with goods and services.

I have a bunch of new Gerber vinyl diaper covers that were given to me proceed to degrade with each use. I have received a note back from the customer service people at Gerber saying that if I send the product into them I will receive replacement/refund. That’s possible for three of them, but the others were thrown away one at a time as the holes developed, which means people purchased gifts for us that we basically threw away. Why is our society so disposable? Why, oh why, has it taken me this long to get our cloth diaper supply up and running? Well, procrastination and unscheduled abdominal surgery at the end of September, but mostly the first and only a little of the second.

I tried to order prints from webshot.com, which by the way I will never recommend to anyone and will not attempt to use them again. It took me most of the day but I uploaded a bit over 460MB of data to their site before the colossal fail. They had a nice coupon deal wherein I could receive 100 free prints, I had 150 I wanted to order. Apparently, despite the fact that it is still plastered all over their site at 1AM EST, you can’t actually use the coupon. That, however, was not my problem because I didn’t try to order them on Dec 1. It was still Nov 30 when I was ordering but the clock switched as I clicked to pay for my order. My order suddenly when from $13.45 to over $20. I deleted my cart, my pics and sent a complaint email as well as a request to delete my account.

Maybe Dec 1 will be better, it really can’t be worse. To end on a positive note, my MIL (mom-in-law) came over this morning and hung out with Boo so I could work on my Christmas project. After I found the iron I misplaced, I spent an hour and a half in the morning and a few minutes in the evening working so that I am 37.5% completed which is to say, well, I’m working on it.

I will not be late this year.
I will not be late this year.
I will not be late this year.
I will not be . . .

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Library Plugin gone wacko

I have used a WordPress plugin called “Now Reading” for several years to track the books I’ve read. Though it is designed to be more for my library collection, I use it generically. Some of the books I list I own, many I borrow from the library or friends. After the latest “upgrade” the plugin broke. I’m not heartbroken, but I am bit upset as I have over 150 books listed as read, reading or planned to read since Nov. 2007. Less than 10 books are listed as reading or planned to read. The error I get is, “You are not authorized to perform this action.” Creating a new users on my blog with admin privileges didn’t change the problem. I did find that if I worked backward from the blog to the plugin I could edit “currently reading” books, but received the same error if I tried to add a new book. Part of me things it’s a WordPress problem as my WordPress hiccuped a week or so ago, but I also upgraded this plugin around the time it hiccuped. I didn’t notice the hiccup until Friday. I do have a work-around since I know how to edit MySQL databases but man is that a pain. The plugin wrote a nice little interface that runs information across 4 databases in one little form. I’ll keep using the silly thing until I’m too annoyed with the upkeep and then I’ll switch. If anyone out there uses something similar, I’m taking recommendations.

Ok, after setting my categories and scrolling down the page, I can say it’s a WordPress problem. WordPress has merged my admin account with a contributor account, grrr. I thought I fixed this last week.

Well, after deleting all author/admin/contributor accounts except the admin one, I have had no luck in forcing Now Reading to work. Maybe it’s time to uninstall and reinstall or just replace it with Now Reading Reloaded. I seem to have fewer consistent errors with the new plugin. It’s written by someone else but based the original plugin, so it works with minimal effort.

It seems to be stable now, 20 minutes later. I’ve had to disable another coolie plugin as the install went totally wacky after a recent plugin upgrade-YARPP-yet another related post plugin. As of Aug. 28, an updated release of YARPP seems to have addressed the issue so I have reenabled the plugin and fixed the template to show the related posts on the index as well as the single post pages.

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Captivating: A Partial Review

WARNING: My opinion is expressed in this post quite strongly. If you are hoping for a glowing review, navigate away quickly.

A friend and I have been reading Captivating by Eldredge’s and working through the guided journal of the same title. I have seen mixed reviews, those in support strongly support and the critical reviews are divisively so. I will admit to clouding my judgment by reading reviews on both sides and deciding that I may not agree with many of the ideas presented, but I am trying to be humble enough to allow God to show me truths despite my preconceived notions. How’s that for a disclaimer?

Chapters one and two have made my brain hurt. I must report that if I hadn’t spent good money on these books, the first two chapters would have caused me to burn the books. I’m not a fan of censorship, usually. The small fire from the books could have kept me entertained for a while, especially if I tore out pages on and a time. I am thankful that I waited, not because the book has magically turned wonderful, but rather because chapter three has visibly more truth than the first two.

I should point out what little information I could learn of John Eldredge was discouraging. I wondered if he had special training to allow him to interpret the Bible, maybe he is a theologian, a scholar, something, anything, a Phd. in something worthwhile, alas. It turns out he attend a Christian college of sorts and majored in counseling. Where on the website of said college, one reads that it is the Christian’s responsibility to spread the truth of the free market system. No wonder the world despises Christians.

So, his vast amount of experience on how God designed women to be is as a result of counseling women, women who feel they are somehow broken. Women who pay a man to tell them how they are broken and how to be less broken. I’m sure he knows a thing or two about identifying behaviors that are emotionally/physically unhealthy, but really, how ignorant do I look? Why are women, intelligent women, falling for this nonsense from him and his wife? Are we that fallen that we need a stranger to stroke our ego and tell us that our desires are valid and right? If so, Christianity many not be the theology for you. God, by means of the Bible and Holy Spirit, tells us quite clearly we are sinful and fallen. His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. His desire for us is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not the emotional need to be beautiful or participate in a grand adventure. He provides a way for us to be right, but it is not declaring that we are beautiful and must participate in a grand adventure to be validated. With the exception of a pithy prayer at the beginning of the guided journal, Jesus the Messiah is not mentioned and God only slightly. It’s all about the woman’s emotional experience. And how about open ended questions, ever hear of them? Yes or no questions do not stimulate discussion or thought. Grrr. Stay tuned for more in subsequent weeks.

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Vote

If you live in the United States, vote!

  • Independent?
  • Constitutional?
  • Green?
  • Republican?
  • Democrat?
  • Undecided?

It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation is, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know. Do some research, use your favorite search engine and find out what the issues are. Decide how you feel about the issues and pick the candidates/proposals that fit what you believe and vote. Your vote doesn’t count if you don’t cast it. Your vote is not a “throw away” vote if you don’t vote for the major two.

If you aren’t happy with the last 4, 8, 12, 16, and/or 20 years of our government, do something about it. We still have a government of the people by the people. Make sure the people in office for the next term represent the values you value.

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Cure is worse than the illness?

Many of you are quite familiar my dairy allergy by now and Jason’s food sensitivities. Of late, the makers of the drug Advair have been airing many commercials for the product. Over the course of this allergy, one doctor put me on Clarinex, Advair, Singulair and a rescue inhaler due to my breathing problems. She admitted that people develop environmental allergies and it’s difficult to track them all, so we would treat the symptoms. I took the first to three drugs daily and cocktail treated the symptoms quite effectively for the most part. I used the rescue inhaler as a last resort, a few times a month. At the time I was not aware of my true allergy, milk products. I was reading a forum that when I ran across a post that mentioned the milk content in Advair. (link to pdf from maker)) I had to laugh at the fact that I had treated myself with the allergen. Oh well!!

Chasing my tail

How many blogs does it take to answer my question about pingbacks? The correct answer is at least four, but three of them were mine and I ultimately answered my own question.

When I installed WordPress 2.5, my pingbacks broke. You may wonder what a pingback is or you may not be interested in the slightest. If you are not interested, this may be the post to skip, unless you enjoy watching a kitty chase her tail for hours and hours and hours before remembering she has one important blog, this one, and two test blogs. Normally I don’t have two test blogs, usually it is just one, however, a few weeks ago I was attempting to help a fellow knitting forum member with her pre-2.5 blog, so I installed the version she was running and before I broke my blog at the 2.5 install, I upgraded the test blog to be sure nothing would break. I failed to take into account my web host breaking the one-click install, lesson learned let me assure you. To attempt to head-off any further problems I set up an identical blog to this main one with the same posts and settings behind the scenes, as well as the same plugins also behind the scenes.

After spending a few hours combing the wordpress.org codex, then the “interwebs” at large, I decided my answer did not lay out there, it lay between my head and my three installs. I say it took at least four blogs to answer the question because wordpress.org is a blog and I found a few individuals attempting to be helpful on their blogs, but didn’t answer my question. I also checked WordPress.com to reassure myself that WordPress 2.5 did indeed know how to handle pingbacks. You may wonder what a pingback is, a pingback appears on my blog in the comment of a post when someone out in the wide “interwebs” writes something and links back to a specific blog post of mine.

Out of pure frustration of nothing to show for an afternoon’s worth of work, I set about digging through my theme’s code, hoping maybe the theme was broken, no such luck. I then decided to open the test blogs. I admit, I forgot about the second blog running a really old version of WordPress until I went looking for the password for the first test blog. That second install turned out to be a huge help to the investigative process. I worked to make both 2.5 versions mirror each other in code and active plugins. My main blog would catch one or two out of six actual pingbacks. The other two blogs found all the pingbacks I sent. Again, a bit stumped, I started to wonder if it was a versioning problem with a plugin, the test blog doesn’t have the newest versions of all the plugins I have installed. I only update them when I am using it to test something. It then occurred to me that I redirect this blog. The install folder is not at the root of my site, nor will it be again. That is part of what broke it the first time and made it more difficult to fix. One-click install from my dearest host likes to install to a completely empty folder, no other files or folders present. So when it broke and I reinstalled it, I was going to have to create a subfolder or delete all my photos, files, etc and start over from scratch. I was already deeply saddened by the loss of my blog and did not wish to lose anymore. WordPress 2.x has a setting that allows users to indicate where the blog source files are located while redirecting traffic to another location. In my case, my install is at http://proefrocks.net/blog/, while until today, you viewed it at http://proefrocks.net. My test blogs were not redirecting traffic like the main blog is/was. Once I change the setting to redirect it, the pingbacks broke there as well. Which was a huge relief. I blame my own troubleshooting skills becoming rusty. Ten months ago, this problem would have been solved in under an hour. I also discovered along the way I could force pingbacks if I consistently put a trackback url into each post. That’s not going to happen. I’m trying to retrain my brain to remember to put tags on my posts, about 50-50 there and I’ve always used categories but again, 75-25 there.

To summarize, you will notice a change in my domain layout. When you visit http://proefrocks.net you will now be greeted with a static (unchanging) page with links to several different areas of the domain, one of which will be this blog. I will probably link to Josh’s blog, my photo gallery and the photo gallery for BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area). The page will be updated as changes dictate.

Still to do, create a custom redirect script. June 13, 2008: I created the .htaccess file at the root directory per apache.org. Luckily for me, my permalink structure is simple, all posts from 2008 appear to be in a folder called 2008 and those from 2007 appear to be in folder called 2007. The simple addition of two lines directing requests for 2008 to now go to blog/2008 and 2007 to go to blog/2007 has rendered all links out there in the “interwebs” valid.

P.S. If you remember to move .htaccess and index.php from root back to the WordPress folder, be sure to edit everything and well, I had to empty .htaccess in the WordPress folder which then broke my entire site. I fiddled for another hour and then remembered that plugins cause 2.5 to become rather unruly. I deactivated my gallery plugin, WPG2, emptied the .htaccess again and reactivated the plugin. Then I allowed WPG2 to reconfigure itself, rewriting good things to the .htaccess file.

When I was supposed to be paying a bill . . .

I found out that I was owed money. I had a cell provider for a long time, January of 2002 through October of 2007. I was a loyal, content customer, I even bragged about how much I liked their customer service and service. When others were paying less for service, I was paying a bit more because of the satisfaction I found when speaking with customer service representatives. That is, until I moved to the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy in the middle of nowhere, I grew up in an area of NY no so different. There is a drawback to the middle of nowhere, not enough customers to warrant good coverage between major towns. I jumped through hoops with this company to improve my service. I was encouraged by the aforementioned representatives to drive 2 miles north, south, east or west to obtain better coverage. I reminded them that I expected to have coverage at my house, I was informed that coverage in my house was never guaranteed. I should only ever expect to have coverage outside. I then walked outside with the phone and waited for the call with them to drop, which didn’t take too long. After several weeks of going round and round with various individuals with many titles like engineer, I was finally released from my contract. I ported to a new carrier and then the nightmare began. I received a bill indicating that I was being charged for early termination, when this company had in writing already indicated that there would be no charge once the engineers determined that coverage would not be improved. I got the feeling that the guy never drove through our town calling people and asking if anyone could hear him now. I called several times and thought the early termination fee was removed, but I should wait for the final bill before paying it. By the time the final bill arrived, the company was threatening to write off my bill and turn me over to collections. The final bill indicated that I owed far more than I felt I should, $95 vs. $45. I was happy to pay the $45, but was insistent that I would not pay the entire amount. I called the only outside number I was ever given for the company, besides *number if my phone was still from that carrier. I was stuck in a loop-enter your zip code, enter your phone number, sorry, the office is closed, we’re only open from 8-8, I was calling at 7:30. Actually, I was a returning a call I was disconnected from, and could only get through when I stopped entering my zip code and phone number. In a call last night, I tried to explain my complaint when my phone call was finally answered. I could not get the woman to understand that I simply wanted my month in advance deposit returned. She attempted to explain how it was already refunded and would not listen to me. According to my bill, I was charged for the whole month of November, which was not accurate, as service was canceled in October. Another line reflected a refund of November, which she explained was my refund of my month in advance deposit. That seems a bit shady to me. She then looked over my account and said the $95 charge was part of the $125 early termination fee and I would receive a check for $29 and change in March, since January billing was completed.

April 29, 2008: I keep receiving statements from Verizon saying they owe me money, but they never send it. I should be receiving another one this week or next. That will make the third statement without money. I don’t know if I want to call, I enjoying receiving statements that tell me they have my money so I don’t owe them any.