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the Kindle business

Brian has yet another customer for his unbricking Kindles and flashing new operating systems into demo Kindles.

We are using my LLC for all this;it's all open and above-board and legal and on the books. Projections show that this side venture will replace our missing income from when I had to quit working for my ex boss, so yay!
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Step-daughter's tentative date of departure

We have a date for when my husband's ex will move back to SC to live with her daughter: somewhere around the end of July and the beginning of August. Mid-summer.

We found this out when we noticed she was looking at houses online. Maggie has been at the same company 13 yeas and is considered a good risk for a mortgage. Houses here are cheap, and she is pre-qualified to get a loan on small one. So she's been looking. The financial education involved in her getting her own car and paying her own insurance and slowly paying more and more of her own way has left her an independent adult. Brian thinks his daughter learned a great deal as my "apprentice" and that she has the skills now to run a household and not be taken in by her mother's financially grasping ways.

What's odd and touching is how much Maggie is carefully spending time with me as if she will miss me. I will miss her, too.
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Southern Living: Love Bugs

I saw a couple of insects joined like this on the hood of my car when I was stopped at a Florida gas station off I-95. I thought nothing of it, nor did I connect this with the hard-to-wash-off smashed bug residue on my windshield. I turns our I was there in time for the semi-annual Love Bug season.

The urban legend runs like this: The University of Florida was trying to develop an insect to deal with the mosquito problem. In something that sounds tailor-made as an argument against things like Monsanto seeds and nanotech, the developing bugs escaped. Supposedly they only live 24 hours, long enough to do nothing but mate and die.

The truth is a little more prosaic. The insects are native to Central America and probably stowed away on a container ship. The really weird thing is to see them "flying United" - they fly superglued together, with the smaller male (who dies when mating) stuck on the side of the female until she lays her eggs and dies.

And they swarm. Remembering that the squashed love bugs are hell on car finishes, eating through the paint, check out a couple of photos of them on cars:
Love Bugs on car smOne day's worth of Love Bugs on my son's car. Aannnd...
Love Bugs on truck smA Love-Bug-spattered truck we saw.

In a word, eww.
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"The Problem With Men Explaining Things" - very much worth reading

As a trailblazer woman in a male-dominated field, I had things "explained" to me all the time. I, the construction safety engineer,  suffered through the outrage of a out-of-compliance contractor explaining why it was okay for him to break the law and risk his employees' lives (and then offering me a job as "one of his girls" in his office what that didn't work). I've had men explain to me why it was okay for someone to throw a 75-lb acetylene tank at me, because my suggestions to follow the law ( and common sense) were "unreasonable." I've been told I had no clue when I was tasked with cluing-in the clueless as they sat in their "archipelago of arrogance." So when I read that Rebecca Solnit, author of nine well-researched, factual books on history, eloquently ranted on "The Problem With Men Explaining Things" I wanted to cheer.

"Don't forget that I've had a lot more confirmation of my right to think and speak than most women, and I've learned that a certain amount of self-doubt is a good tool for correcting, understanding, listening, and progressing—though too much is paralyzing and total self-confidence produces arrogant idiots, like the ones who have governed us since 2001. There's a happy medium between these poles to which the genders have been pushed, a warm equatorial belt of give and take where we should all meet."

After many examples, she goes on to say, "Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being." I was blessed with an upbringing that was fairly gender neutral, with a sister who liked t o play with GI Joes, a father who taught me how to repair things, and teachers who believed in me and saw my worth. I was frankly shocked at the attitudes I ran into during my career. In this article, Rebecca Solnit nails how to respond to such slights, and puts them in context.

on silicone baking tools

I just tried to scrape some peanut butter out of the bottom a jar with a spatula. I had to dig through our kitchen utensils crock to find one that was not made of silicone.

I hate silicone baking and cooking tools.

It's a moral position. In my opinion, one should not bake on sheets or in receptacles made out of the same material as "marital devices" or breast implants. It's just wrong, on a purely visceral level. I mean, feel that stuff! Yuck.

I first touched one of these creepy-feeling silicone baking sheets at a Williams-Sonoma store. My reaction was that you might want to grease this "cookie sheet" with KY Jelly.  Fingering a pair of salad molds in another store I had to repress the urge to stuff them in a bikini top, stat. And I have no words to describe how difficult it is to even use über-floppy things like our silicone spatulas, just one of the many silicone-based cook's life-forms my stepdaughter collects. I'll get them out of the house when she leaves.

But for now, I'm hiding the plain, old-fashioned rubber spatula I prefer. Because I don't feel like I need a shower after I touch it.

why we don't have turkey very often

This weekend my cat Toonces was pestering me to give her turkey they whole time I was making turkey stew. She smelled the broth. The drumsticks were cooling in the fridge so I could take meat off the bones. It went sort of like this:

Cat: "I smell turkey! I want turkey! You're gonna give me some turkey, right?" *paw, poke, rub*

Me: "Toonces, I'm peeling carrots. Smell one. See? Carrots."

Cat: *recoils from evil non-meat carrot* "But, but – that's not turkey!" *sucks in cheeks and imitates a famine victim* "I smell turkey! I want turkey! You're gonna give me some turkey, right?" *pokes the human, with one claw out: tap, tap*

Me: I get up dump the carrots into the stew.

Cat: follows, meowing

Me: I sit back down and continue to peel vegetables.

Cat: "But I smell turkey! I want turkey! You're gonna give me some turkey, right?"

Me: *sighs* "These are potatoes, Toonces. You want a potato? Here."

Cat: *recoils even further from evil non-meat potato* "But, but – that's not Turkey! I want turkey!" This continues while all the potatoes are peeled.

Me: I get up dump the potatoes into the stew.

Cat: follows, meowing loudly

Me: I sit back down and continue to peel vegetables.

Cat: *jumps up and down like a dog* "But I smell turkey! I want turkey! You're gonna give me some turkey, please!"

Me: *grumbles* "These are onions, Toonces. Oh, I know you love onions. Have a sniff." *evil smile*

Cat: *sniffs, jumps back a foot and flattens ears* "Eee! Onions! That's not TURKEY!"

Me: chuckling, "I know."

Me: I get up dump the onions into the stew. And come back with…

Cat: "Turkey!!!" *does a happy dance* *sits and waits near a small plate I set out for her.*

Me: *cleaning drumsticks of meat* "Here ya go."

Cat: *rushes to plate* *sniffs* She sits down and looks up accusingly. "You know I don't like my turkey skin boiled! What's wrong with you?"

Me: I shrug and feed the turkey skin to one of the other cats.

Cat: *watches other cat, in shock* "You fed my turkey to another cat!"

Me: I add more turkey skin to her plate and she gobbles it, glaring at the other cat. "Om, nom, nom…"

She then proceeded to refuse her favorite canned cat food for 24 hours after the stew was eaten. She woke us up at 5 AM this morning, begging for turkey, and was so obnoxious she had to be thrown across the room. Twice.

It's rough living with an addict.

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I married a "flasher"

kindle keyboard 3G 1a My Brian had a new hobby. He took bricked or demo Kindles and repaired them. Everyone on our Christmas list is getting a Kindle including, I'm thrilled to say, me. But once my tech-problem-solving spouse had conquered all the realms of Kindle repair he was bored and at odds with what to do next. He kept perusing eBay looking for more Kindles to fix but we have enough of them. I suggested he repair them for others.

I helped him put an ad on Craigslist titled, "Is your Kindle stuck in demo mode?" and alternate it with the same ad copy but the title, "Did you brick your Kindle?" We worked very hard on the ad, spelling out what he can and cannot fix (no cracked screens, for example) and his prices for various services. Those of you who knew me when I was using Craigslist to try and meet a marriageable man at the age of 50+ may be amused that I was using skills I learned in my Spreadsheet Boyz days.

So now Brian and I have a growing side-business. Per a Google search he seems to be the only person offering this service. His first customer was an electronics company in the Midwest. We are reporting the income under my engineering company. And that is why some evenings Brian flashes Kindle memories with new operating systems for fun and profit. I married that sort of  "flasher." It's going to at least pay our homeowner taxes this year. Plus, he's having a blast.


Southern Living: Actual quotes from South Carolina partolmen

These were taken off the police car videotapes:, and no doubt the officers were very polite when saying them. I can hear just about all of them and I can say is . . . yep. They'd talk just like this:

1. "You know, stop lights don’t come any redder than the one you just went through."

2. "Relax, the handcuffs are tight 'cause they’re new. They’ll stretch after you wear 'em a while."

3. "If you take your hands off the car, I’ll make your birth certificate a worthless document."

4. "If ya run, you’ll only go to jail tired."

5. "Can you run faster than 1200 feet per second? Because that’s the speed of the bullet that’ll be chasing you."

6. "You don’t know how fast you were going? I guess that means I can write anything I want to on the ticket, huh?"

7. "Yes, sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don’t think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I’m the shift supervisor?"

8. "Warning! You want a warning? O.K, I’m warning you not to do that again or I’ll give you another ticket."

9. "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or a dawg?"

10. "Fair? You want me to be fair? Listen, fair is a place where you go to ride on rides, eat cotton candy and corn dogs and step in monkey poop."

11. "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."

12. "In God we trust; all others we run through NCIC." (National Crime Information Center)

13. "Just how big were those ‘two beers’ you say you had?"

14. "No sir, we don’t have quotas anymore. We used to, but now we’re allowed to write as many tickets as we can."

15. "I’m glad to hear that the Chief (of Police) is a personal friend of yours. So you know someone who can post your bail."

16. “You didn’t think we give pretty women tickets? You’re right, we don’t. Sign here.”