Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random Things

I don't usually take part in the trends that sweep through Facebook or MySpace, but this particular one caught my eye. Lots of my Facebook friends have posted an item called "25 Random Things About Me". I thought their lists were so interesting, plus the fact that I was "tagged" by at least one of them to provide my own list, convinced me to offer up a few random details of my own.

I went out of my way to pick a variety of things, so that there'd be a surprise or two for just about everyone, even people who've known me a long time.

So here you go... 25 Random Things About Gabey.

1. I've been known to sweeten coffee with honey. (Try it. Really.)

2. My favorite color is green.

3. I collect foxes.

4. I've been called a font of useless knowledge. But I'd rather say I'm a font of trivia. After all, it's not useless knowledge if people are asking me about it, right? :)

5. I have a wonderful husband, and two four-year-old felines that think I'm their mom cat. The sun rises and sets on them.

6. I know 2.5 languages. I'm fluent in English and American Sign Language, and I can stumble along haltingly in Italian.

7. My earliest memory is of standing up in the back seat of my grandfather's car, feet on the floor and gripping the window frame, looking at a huge frame of steel girders. The building-to-be was The Spectrum, and judging from the time frame in which it was constructed, I was probably approaching my third birthday at the time.

8. I am an amateur birdwatcher.

9. Did you know that 10-15% of the US population has an allergic reaction to sunlight? Yeah, neither did I, until I finally found out last summer that THAT'S what's been plaguing me every summer for years. Hello sunblock, goodbye symptoms.

10. A favorite snack: take a soft pretzel. Slice it in half like a bagel. Toast it to within an inch of its life. Add cream cheese.

11. My grandpop gave me a shortwave radio when I was 12. I still love shortwave stations, though sometimes I cheat and listen to them online.

12. I learned to read at age three. My parents figured out that I was reading because of the questions I was asking about the words in the books.

13. I taught myself to read music when I was in grade school. In high school, I actually studied music and since then I've learned to play violin, guitar, recorder, and a few other oddball instruments like the melodica and the fife.

14. I can both knit and crochet.

15. The last time I took a typing test, about two years ago, I measured 85 wpm.

16. The first Phillies game I ever attended resulted in a 2-0 shutout for Steve Carlton. The first Flyers game I ever attended was a 4-0 shutout for Bernie Parent. The pattern was broken when first 76ers game I ever attended did NOT result in a shutout. :)

17. My first childhood idol was Bernie Parent. My admiration of him (read: I worshipped the ice he skated on) led to a fascination with goaltending that has continued to this day.

18. I am an avid fan of the String Bands, and unless I am sick or out of town on the day of the Mummers Parade, look for me on Broad Street on New Year's Day.

19. I attended both Flyers Cup parades and both Phillies World Series parades.

20. I am a stupendous klutz in many things that involve maneuvering myself from Point A to Point B. The exception is that I'm good at roller skating. Maybe I should just skate everywhere from now on. :)

21. I sing first soprano.

22. I got my first car 17 years ago. I still have the same car today.

23. I know how to do calligraphy.

24. Where I come from, the tomato product that people add to their pasta is called GRAVY. That's my native dialect of English, and I'm sticking to it.

25. I can read Grade 1 braille, and can write it with a slate/stylus or a brailler (which is like a typewriter but it produces braille).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kittens on a Roomba

LOL at these kittens! They take the complete opposite approach, compared to Captain and Stanley, to Roombas. While Captain and Stanley are simultaneously entertained, fascinated, and unnerved by the Roomba, these kittens not only barely acknowledge its existence, but use it as a chariot!

It's probably just as well that Captain and Stanley would rather follow the Roomba around than ride on it. I doubt the Roomba would be able to move if either one of them, much less both simultaneously, sat on it.


We have a set of 16-oz Anchor Hocking Cafe glass mugs that I love. They're appealing to the eye, they're huge, they're easy to wash, they don't stain, and they're fun to use because I've always liked the visual of adding milk to tea or coffee in a clear glass mug. (Given the popularity of glass mugs, I suspect I'm not alone in that last attribute.)

Over the years, our set of glass mugs has suffered a certain attrition rate. SOMEone who shall remain nameless (but it wasn't the cats nor I, hee hee) learned the hard way not to fill one with cold water, pour said cold water into teapot, boil water, and put boiling water into cold glass mug. (I think we were minus three mugs before I realized that was going on, but I digress.) Glass mugs making contact with the faucet while washing dishes don't tend to fare well, and we've both managed to nick one or two into unusability that way.

Anyway, last week I realized we were down to the last three mugs. I wasn't too happy with that prospect, so I looked them up online and placed an order with the place that had the best price.

The thing is, neither this place nor any other one that I found online sold mugs individually. You have to buy them in cases. I didn't really have a problem with that, since I liked the idea of having a fair supply of these mugs around.

So I told Mark that the mugs were ordered, and that if we couldn't fit them all in the cabinet, then we could store the extras in the basement as insurance against future mishaps.

He looked at me. "How many did you order, exactly?"


"No, really, how many did you order?"

"Well, they only come in cases, so I sort of bought twelve mugs."


"We DO use them, and we have gone through several over the years."

The order was already placed, so he just sighed.

Fast-forward to this afternoon. The knock at the door at 3 PM was UPS alerting me to a package on the doorstep.

When I brought the delivery in, I noticed two things. One, the box had slush on it and was thoroughly wet and two, there was an ominous tinkling noise reminiscent of bits of glass. I strongly suspected that either the delivery guy dropped it in snow or slush, or slipped while carrying it and it hit the ground.

I opened the box and started unwrapping mugs. Two of the twelve were broken. So I called the company from which I'd ordered the mugs.

They were very helpful, and since they don't ship individual mugs, they refunded me the price of the two broken mugs. Pretty square deal, all in all.

The remaining new mugs are returning to room temperature on the dining room table. They're ice-cold, so washing them in hot water right now would be a huge mistake. The two casualties are in the recycle bucket.

Doggoned force of gravity. Sometimes, it's more trouble than it's worth. ;)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cold Water

Cold water. Just what I need after first gym session. I'm melting. But I'm glad I got the ball rolling.

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I'm rehydrating after my first workout at the new gym. Mark came with me as my guest.

I used the treadmill, bike, and an ab machine I remember using at the gym that used to be in my old neighborhood. The two things I recall about that ab equipment are that it was a fantastic workout once I built up some strength, and it was a ROYAL BEAR to build up that strength. So I'm going to build that strength up if it's the last thing I do.

But first, I'll polish off this bottle of water. :)

Edit to add: This is the most similar photo I could find online to the ab equipment I'm describing. I *am going* to conquer this particular personal Mt. Everest. I battled my way to proficiency on this device's cousin years ago, and I'm going to battle my way back to proficiency on it again. Period.

Stupid Criminal Tricks...

This one was even caught on tape. Two inmates make a break for it, but forget that they're handcuffed together.

LOLOL... serves 'em right!

BlindSpeak - You have a synthesized message!

Click on the "Click here" to hear the message I was trying to post to the blog. Interesting concept, this BlindSpeak service.

You have been sent a synthesized message through BlindSpeak

You have the option of either listening to the attached Mp3 or you can securely visit the BlindSpeak web site to listen the your synthesized message.

To listen to your synthesized message through BlindSpeak, Click Here!

This is an actual service and not an advertisement or spam. Our unique service is constantly being used by thousands of people, every day. To learn more about this service, or to contact our company, please feel free to visit If you wish to opt-out of recieving synthesized messages, please Click Here

3:17 AM. Let me describe to you the number of ways I am regretting taking a nap on Wednesday. Now I'm wide awake. *%$&#!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An ice storm! UGH! The one thing that I can guarantee will make me refuse to leave the house until the weather calms down.

It looks like it has switched to rain, so hopefully the ice coating on everything will be washed away soon.

Poor Mark has jury duty today. I wonder how many trials are getting a postponement due to the rotten weather. Chances are, he won't have a lot to do. I hope he brought a book.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Yeah, I'm not sleepy. After taking a nap, I put food in the microwave, then evidently was distracted by something shiny or had some other reason why I left the kitchen. Minutes later, I went back INTO the kitchen and lo and behold, the food was still frozen.

Hmm. Seems like there's no substitute for actually setting the microwave and hitting the start button, is there? Apparently, I'm still not done taking that nap, even if my eyes ARE open and I'm sitting up.

In what feels like the two zillionth day of this &%*# headcold, I finally caught up with Joe M. First he was out of town for a few days, and then I was sick, so we were in touch via phone and text message for the better part of two weeks. (Texts, especially, since my voice was even worse last week than it is now, and it's not so great right now.)

We had lunch, we caught up on recent goings-on, and we hit a bookstore in Center City, which we haven't done for a while. That was nice.

The only minor drawback was that I'd hoped to make a trip to My New Gym after parting company with him, but by then, I'd been on my feet waaaay too long and my knee was throbbing. I think the impending snowstorm is part of the problem here, too. Stupid arthritis. Tomorrow I'm getting on that treadmill if I have to CRAWL to the freaking gym. At least if my knee's killing me at this time tomorrow, it'll be because I walked on the treadmill and did the exercise bike. Though I presume that waking several blocks through Center City and South Philly does count as walking, the drawback is that I didn't do it all at once like I would on the treadmill.

Heck, I was surprised to learn that this place is open 24 hours during the week. Maybe the next time I'm up with insomnia, I have an unexpected solution available for that. ;)

Mark has jury duty tomorrow. He just double-checked that number that they send on the summons; you're supposed to call the night before, enter an ID number, and they tell you if you have to report or not. (You may recall some posts I had last April and August, when it was my turn to get a summons to go.) He checked, and he does have to report. Hey, could be worse. Maybe he'll get done early and be able to come home early for once. The way his work trickles in at various points during the month, sometimes he gets a whole ton of stuff to do at once, and winds up working goofy hours to compensate. He's been doing the "go in early -- come home late" thing the past few days, so tomorrow might turn out to be an easy day by comparison.

Other than that, not a lot's going on. And there are times when that's a good thing. Like now, when my energy levels are still getting back to normal because of this infernal headcold that doesn't want to go the heck away. The sooner this whole collection of symptoms becomes a thing of the past, the better. Pass the Vitamin C. ;)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I really need some SLEEP. I'm going to my mother-in-law's surprise 80th birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I'd like to be able to, you know, keep my eyes open.

I am drinking Catnip Tea even as I type. That helps me get drowsy. Plus, it's far, far too late at night to take anything else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I doubt anyone who reads this blog got a spam email from a particularly obscure account that I haven't actually used in a long time (and nearly forgot I had). However, someone hacked it this afternoon and sent a spam to everyone that account has ever sent an email to. Fortunately, that includes my REAL email account, so I was able to change the password immediately.

If you did get a spam email about shopping from that old addy of mine, sorry. I didn't send it, and it won't happen again.

Bleeping scumbag spammers. I hope their computers blow up.
Oh, boy. Did I ever misjudge the need to use my voice yesterday. And am I ever paying for it today!

We had a little get-together yesterday to watch the inauguration events, and help interpret/describe all the proceedings to a deaf-blind friend who's extremely interested in politics. I figured that signing all day would give my voice a break.

Whoops... I forgot that in mixed company (deaf and hearing) I both sign AND use voice, particularly in a group where not everyone knows how to sign.

Long story less long -- the laryngitis is worse this morning. A lot worse. It's my own fault for doing the vocal equivalent of walking all day on a sprained ankle.

Today is "consume lots of fluids and ice" day. That should help. So will minimizing voice use to "absolutely necessary" status.

The cats were kind of looking at me curiously, as they're used to being talked to when they get their dose of skritches and pats on the head, and silent petting/skritches is something that's outside their experience. Fortunately, making "purr" noises at them seems to be enough. As long as they're sure they're getting doted on, they're happy. What a pair of spoiled critters. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Jean and Joe J and I are watching/signing/fingerspelling the inaugural ceremony. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Drama Llama On The Loose!

Beware of the Drama Llama! Last seen in a Post Office in South Philadelphia -- watch out! She could be headed to somewhere near you soon.

While I was at the little counter in the center of the post office, filling out a mailing label for a parcel, I saw a woman in the (long) line say into her cell phone, "When you change your address, can you just fill out a form or do you have to wait in line?" I don't know what the person on the other end of the call told her, but the end result was that the woman waited in line.

Fast-forward several minutes. I'm now about the fifth person in line, she's heading up to be waited on, and she says I-know-not-what to the clerk. The clerk hands her a change-of-address form.

The woman goes into Drama Llama mode on the spot. She stalked over to that little counter island, mumbling just a bit too audibly to describe it as under her breath, "I don't *believe* this place!" Then she flung said form onto the little counter, where it slid gracefully several inches along the surface (and it would have served her right if it had continued skidding until it went off the far edge of the counter). As the form was gliding to a stop, she WHUMPed her purse onto the counter and ceremoniously dug until she found a pen. All the while, she made a noise that I have associated, since childhood, with the snottiest girls in grade/high school: a big loud, long exhalation that sounds like, "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFfffffffffffffffffffffffffff". (But this woman was at least in her late 20s or early 30s -- she should have long since outgrown the "dirigible with an airleak" mode of expression.)

All I could think was, "Hello? You're changing your address. FORMS are involved. This is a surprise to you why, exactly?" Or maybe the problem was that her unseen adviser on the cell phone call told her to wait in line, and it turned out she could have just filled the form out without getting in line. Well, don't take that out on the clerk, for goodness sakes -- maybe the Drama Llama should have asked the advice of the CLERKS instead of calling a friend. She could've saved herself a good 5-10 minutes that way. (Did I mention that there are stacks of change-of-address forms on prominent display in multiple locations around the post office? Such that it's hard NOT to get them in your line of sight if you're standing in line looking around? File that under "minor detail", I suppose.)

But it gets better. The change of address form consists of white paper, bearing various groups of red boxes with pink backgrounds in which one writes one's information. So of course, the Drama Llama used a PINK pen to fill it out. Pink. Pink ink on a pink background. Oh, yeah, she's going to have NO trouble having her mail forwarded to the new location. The text recognition software, or even human eyes, should have no difficulty picking out the PINK ink on a PINK background.

You know what's sad? When they can't read her form, and the mail-forwarding gets screwed up, she's sure to blame the Post Office and dole out plenty of "FFFFFFFFFFFFFFfffffffffffffffffffffffffff"s for everyone who's inconvenienced Her Royal Highness. When the source of her inconvenience was that she should have asked someone who actually knows the protocol for obtaining a change-of-address form instead of calling whomever she spoke to, and she should have used a color of ink that people can actually SEE when filling out an OFFICIAL DOCUMENT.

When the Drama Llama finished filling out her pink form in pink ink, she stalked heavy-footedly back to the clerk's counter, presented her with the filled-out form, made a big show of loudly shoving the various paper ads that come with the change-of-address form into the nearest wastebasket, and then she stalked heavy-footedly out the door.

So beware! First of all, the Drama Llama is now out and about on the streets of South Philadelphia, so she could be anywhere. Second of all, she's MOVING. That means she really COULD end up anywhere. You could end up with a new irascible neighbor who sounds like she's sprung an airleak whenever she's irritated.

If you do, and you query her and find she's from South Philly, then allow me to point out that we do NOT all behave like that down here. Honest.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I am going to be "Doing the Wheeler" tonight at the Phantoms game, if I need to celebrate good things happening.

Non-Philly residents, watch this video to see what "Doing the Wheeler" means:

The difference is that, while Chris Wheeler couldn't make any noise while celebrating, because he'd interrupt Harry Kalas's call of the World Series win, I need to avoid noise because my voice is completely shot by a case of Laryngitis-from-H3ll. I actually got hung up on by a telemarketer who couldn't make heads or tails of what I was saying. God knows if she thought I was playing pranks on her, with the vocal noises I was making sounding like a cross between Minnie Mouse and a goose. I can barely get normal speaking-volume words out, so I'm not willing to try hollering and making my vocal cords any worse than they are.

Good thing I can sign. Too bad 99% of the people I see on a regular basis don't sign. I need to start teaching more hearing friends to sign, or start hanging out more with the friends who are deaf, deaf-blind, and/or interpreters. ;)

Update: I just activated the Extended Absence greeting on my cell phone. "This is Donna. I lost my voice. Please leave a message or send a text message. Thanks."
Whee, I just went from 545MB free space to 1.11GB free space on the Eee PC! I know that doesn't sound like much, but when you consider that this particular model only comes with 4GB total space, lots of which is take up by Windows XP, you'll see why I'm rejoicing. :)

And all I did was run CCleaner to get rid of unnecessary files, then go into properties and compress the C: drive to save space. I love when there's a quick, easy solution to issues that crop up.
Sorry, we are having severe technical difficulties with the audio today. Laryngitis has set in BIG TIME. So much so, that when an unknown caller rang the landline, I let it go to voice mail rather than strain my vocal cords by answering the phone.

But rest assured, we are fighting back. I had a full can of chicken noodle soup, plus two cups of catnip tea, plus melatonin prior to bedtime. The soup and tea were for the cold. Catnip also helps with sleep, so it serves that purpose as well, along with the melatonin.

Tonight I am hoping for more sleep, and fewer cold-related interruptions thereof, than I got last night.

If I seem to be going on a lot about the cold and about insomnia, sorry -- but I'm tired of being wide awake at the hours when everyone else is asleep, and vice versa. Last night, I finally fell asleep during the night for the first time in a few days, only to be repeatedly awakened by cold symptoms. :headdesk:

So, since I'm kind of enamored of things like talking to other people and doing things outside the house, it sort of behooves me to get myself back on a sleep/wake schedule that correlates a bit more closely to that of most other people in this time zone.


Chicken Soup: check.
Catnip Tea: check.
Melatonin: check.
Thermostat set to comfortable temperature (I can't sleep when I'm overheated): check.

OK, that's about it. Good night!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I just saw a product review on that began with these words: "I own this item but have not used it yet. But I think..."

I thought, "OK, hold it. Stop right there. You haven't USED the device yet, but you're reviewing it? Aren't we being just a BIT premature here? Shouldn't you, well, USE the item in question prior to offering an opinion of it?"

The user's review did contain an addendum that begain with "UPDATE:..." followed by favorable comments on said device once they'd actually made use of the item. But in my humble opinion, they might as well have just waited until after they had some firsthand experience with the device they were reviewing before they posted anything at all.

P.S. Yes, it's 3:30 AM. No, I can't sleep. Stupid chronic cough. I just took the next dose of medicine -- the one that I'd hoped I would be replacing with something silly, like sleep -- in the hopes that the cough will quiet down and I can actually get some shuteye between now and the time Mark leaves for work. Or between now and the time the sunbeams start coming in the front windows instead of the back ones.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My goal here is to see if imbedding video will work with this particular blog template.

I set up a channel a while ago, well before I had the hardware to actually do anything constructive with it.

Here goes:

Watch live video from Gabey's Place on

Edit to add: Yes! It appears and there are no error messages! That's nice to know.

No, there's no actual content yet; you need not worry that you're missing something if you click on play and just see a graphic of a monkey with a camera.

But now I know that I CAN add video and imbed it into the blog without jumping through very many hoops. Nice. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The good news: I don't have an earache.

The bad news: I have TWO earaches.

Stupid headcold.
Stupid Criminal Tricks: Text Messages Nab Carjacking Suspects

If texting is dangerous while driving a car, it's downright idiotic while stealing one.

An Ohio man used a friend's cell phone to get back his car, cell phone, and cash, all of which were stolen in a car jacking, according to a local TV report. Alan Heuss was sitting in his running BMW in Columbus on Wednesday when an armed man opened a passenger door, stuck a gun in his face, and made off with his stuff.

After filing a police report, Heuss was meeting with some friends to drown his sorrows when one suggested that they try to contact the thieves by texting Heuss' stolen cell phone.

"He said, 'I'm going to text these guys, I'm going to blow some smoke their way,'" Heuss told the station. "He said, 'I'm going to tell them I've got a bunch of hot chicks, as if I'm texting you, and that we've got some drugs, too.'"

The carjacking suspects fell for the rouse and went to an address sent to them by Heuss' friend just seven hours after the carjacking. But instead of the "hot chick with drugs" they were expecting, they were met with by cops with cuffs.

And to make things easier for the officers, the suspects showed up in the stolen car.

Gotta love it when we witness people getting a visit from the Karma Fairy. It should only happen on a more regular basis.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

As I mentioned in my Twitter feed, the latest post of which shows on the upper left corner of the blog, I've been under the weather for the past couple of days. The annual sore throat/cough/laryngitis event kicked in at some point during the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

The cats love having Meowmy in one place sitting still, so they can come over for a dote now and then. They'll love it even more if I start running a fever. There's nothing that makes a cat so happy as a Meowmy-shaped heating pad to sit on. Doting AND extra warmth all at once, what a great invention!

So far, no fever yet, and I'd like to keep it that way. With luck, the NSAIDS I take anyway (ibuprofen or naprocen, depending on which one's in the house at the moment), will prevent a fever from taking hold to begin with. But if not, I've started precautionary measures. At 3 AM, since I was wide awake anyway (stupid insomnia!), I made four trays' worth of ice cubes to complement the fluids I'll have to start drinking more of.

I hurt all over. Crummy rotten annual "I caught whatever's going around" event. :-P

Monday, January 05, 2009

JFM's sister came through heart surgery without incident, thank God. I believe it was microvalve replacement that they did. Hopefully this will put an end to heart-related symptoms for keeps. But if you're reading this, do send some prayers and good thoughts anyway. There's no such thing as too many of those. Thanks.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Zune lives!

My Zune is revived -- I discharged the battery, per the instructions, and my menu screen came back when I began recharging it. Hooray! May all 2009's issues be so easy to resolve! :)

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In the immortal words of Mork from Ork, "Shazbot!"

There appears to be an issue with all Zune 30GB devices, including mine. At midnight 12/31, the devices froze up and are stuck on the startup screen.

Microsoft is aware of the issue and is working on it. So I'll wait. But drat all Computer Gremlins anyway.

I'm keeping an eye on the official Zune Forums, because when a fix IS announced, it will be appearing there (among other places). And to be frank, I'm a little surprised at how addicted some people are to putting their own Wall of Sound between themselves and the rest of the world.

Understand, I like my music at least as much as the next person, if not more. I'd say that I self-identified as a musician long before I embraced just about any other label I can think of, except maybe "animal-lover". So I'm all about hearing music that I enjoy.

However, there are times when cutting oneself off from one's surrounding environment is inappropriate, at best. For example, there's the visit we made to Aunt Phyllis at the nursing home last Sunday; while we were on our way in, we crossed paths with a family on their way out. One of the members of said family was a preteen girl with her music player's earbuds firmly embedded in her ears, right there while she was with her family. And for all I know, those earbuds might have been in place while she was visiting whichever relative lives in said nursing home. I can't imagine my parents, when I was that girl's age, finding that acceptable. I believe they'd have termed it "rude" to be tuning out the people around me during a family outing. It's one thing to be listening to Your Own Music and creating Your Own Little World when you're by yourself. But when you're supposed to be interacting with other people, IMO the tunes need to be put away for the duration.

But either way, I hope that we Zune owners have the option of tuning in or out, as we please, ASAP. There was a theory that the issue was related to the leap year, and the problem was caused because 12/31/08 was the 366th day of the year. The theory held that the frozen Zunes might revive themselves on 01/01/09. Unfortunately, MY Zune remains frozen, so that theory can effectively be put to rest. Here's hoping that an effective correction for the problem makes a speedy appearance.

Happy New Year to all! Or, as Captain and Stanley would say, "Happy MEW Year!" :)