Thursday, October 23, 2008

Procrastination at all time high

Well, maybe that should be "all time low" since I have finally been getting to work.

When we moved in in April I decided to have the garage be our classroom. It is just the right size, has 3 desks built onto one wall, came with a big book shelf, was carpetted and had heating/AC. We moved the school stuff in, one of our tables, the biggest fish tank...and a lot of junk that had no where else to go. That was problem number 1. There was so much junk, put wherever, that I said could be put away later, that having anything like a lesson was impossible. School since then has been done at the dining table after a nice round of "go get this book" or "go to the garage and see if you can find a pencil." Some days there was no school at all, just because.

Yesterday I decided I had had enough. We needed to move all of the junk that did manage to make it into the house and had cluttered up my craft room and move it to the garage and move the school stuff to the craft room. That way it would be near where we spent our days anyway. DH suggested I just move the laptop to the garage and spend my computer time on it there instead of at my desk upstairs. Brilliant.

That saved us a heck of a lot of work. Although, the garage was in such a disarray that it has taken most of the afternoon to make it usable. Still, easier than moving all that stuff here and there.

My main trouble is that the laptop is Vista and it is taking some getting used to. I am sure I will manage.

Today's Picture from My Life- the park near my in-laws' house. In the morning, I believe.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Adventures in Budget Crunching

The world economy plunging into the toilet (due in part by stupidity and in part because everyone expected it to, so it obliged) has NOT affected my family much. Prices on some things at the grocery are higher, but many are lower as well. (Milk was under $3 today. That was a shocker. I can't remember that last time it was that low.) Gas prices are higher, but we don't go out much, so it hasn't been too burdensome.

However, DH's company has been told that some of their clients are canceling or post-poning projects. So, the company has decided to stock pile some of last quarter's profits, which are usually distributed among the employees, in case of a crunch over the next few months. A wise decision, I think, all things considered.

So, given this reminder that the economy could intrude on my paradise even if we are out of debt and in a good mortgage, we have decided to really clamp down on our spending. Not hard. We have trained ourselves to live on his regular paychecks and treat the quarterly bonuses as "found money," some for play, most for paying off debt, paying down the mortgage principle, etc.

The main effect right now is that we have decided to keep our holiday spending to a minimum. Some presents have already been bought in my efforts to get done BEFORE the last minute this year. Those will stay. Other than that we are making lists of things that can be made for our loved ones and each other. It has been an interesting night of brainstorming plans. We told the girls our plan ahead of time, so we don't come off looking like a couple of Grinches. They are on board and actually looking forward to making things for us, each other, and their extended family. This might be a lot of fun after all.

My main problem has been pride. I ma not letting it get in the way of the budget, but it is making me picky about what I will do. If I can make something that does NOT leave the recipient feeling jipped then everyone will be happy. If they only smile because they love me I will be disappointed. On the bright side, there is nothing wrong with doing my best and taking pride in a job well done, I suppose. Harmful pride would be the kind that spends $500 at the mall so that everyone will adore what I bought. Quality workmanship is a better kind of pride.

This Christmas is becoming more interesting by the moment. I think this might really be fun.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To my north-of-the-border readership.

Care to elaborate on how Thanksgiving in Canada is different from that in the United States, tradition-wise?

You know, I just realized that if I don't count myself I think I have more Canadian readers than American. All two of you.

Since my daughter likes to pop in and read, we tie if I count myself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A little Reality would be nice - And a Vote

(Note to Zirbert- If I can wade through the most (and second most) confusing discography posts on your blog, you can make it through this one. I know you can. I have faith in you. ;) Now, on to the blog...)

I don't like to focus too heavily on things like skin color when making judgments on things such a A is better than B, etc. However, I do like a bit of realism in some ways. (I am building up to a complaint, don't worry. AND, believe it or not it has nothing to do with the Presidential race nor Congressional make-up, nor sports, nor the Miss America Pageant.)

Take these two pictures of the most recent additions to my Barbie Princess/Doll of the World collection.
One is from Denmark; the other is from South Africa. Can you tell the difference?

Anyway, those are not the dolls I am miffed about. They are both incredibly beautiful and I can't stop looking at them. (Normal reaction to new collection acquisition.)

My problem is with some other international-type Barbies.
What really set me off was actually a couple of dolls I do not even own.

The first two pics are of the same doll, Indian Bride by Mattel. The last is a more "everyday" India Barbie. Both of these were being offered on eBay by a seller in Chennai. I am not dissing the seller AT ALL. It is Mattel that has me miffed. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with these dolls?

I do have an India doll in my collection.

Anyone notice anything different about this one and the ones above?

OK, the lighter dolls may still be considered in the "realm of possibility." (But then again, Charlize Theron is from South Africa, and she bears a lot more resemblance to the Danish princess than the South African.

The college I went to in Alabama is a technology magnet for many international students in the fields of engineering, computer engineering, and space technology.

I have met a few people from India. (That really sounds stupid, doesn't it? Like that makes me an expert.) Most of the ones who were my actual friends (as opposed to acquaintances or people I passed in the hall) were AT LEAST as dark as the doll I already have in my collection. Generally, they had about the complexions you might see in, say, a latina. (A few even were mistaken for such in local Mexican restaurants.) If Mattel can manage to make their hispanic dolls tanner, why not the Indian?

Knowing that those others are supposed to represent Indians but are so pale makes them look ill to me. Like there should be an accompanying quote on the box...

"Even though she was dying of consumption, Shanti danced with her beloved on their wedding day and had one perfect piece of life before she keeled over dead." How romantic!

Actually, I do have some idea why the "for the Indian marketplace" Barbies are paler. Fairer skin is considered more beautiful, to the Indian eye; or so I have been told by people from India. (Again, I realize, that does not make me an expert.) That thought does not fill me with glee. It seems kind of racist/looks-ist, whatever. Like how all the Barbies when I was a kid were blonde. I hated that. Makes me wonder how little girls in India feel about these pale dolls.

I was tempted to bid on the bride anyway. That dress is INCREDIBLE! I think I will, instead, dust off the doll customizing tools and make my own Indian Bride.

I need to choose the right doll. Here, help me out. We'll have another vote.

I have one African American doll with light enough skin that she might work.
I have the feeling she is too African American, even with her light skin and string-straight hair to pass for Indian. Thoughts?

I have one hispanic doll in need of eye paint.
Her features don't scream out INDIA to me, but she might work.

Also in this pic I have one previously blonde California beach doll who needs paint and hair.
This one is one of my favorites (should I say that before the voting?) BUT she needs the most work, so...I don't know.

I have one Pocahontas who needs new hair (due to bad tangles) and the removal of tribal arm marking and price tag.
She seems a little on the somber side for a bride. And, all accidental-first-contact-misnomers aside, she doesn't look Indian.

And, last but not least..but forgotten from the group shot, this lovely with a more Asian look. The thing I don't like about her is the hair. I might be able to remove the red highlight and re-root black there. That would work. She would also need a paint touch-up. Pale pink lips will not do.

Which do you think I ought to use for my Indian Bride? Or if none of them are good, let me know that too.

Now, to show whole collection. From left to right: England, Navajo, India, Denmark, Ireland, Spain, Greece, France, Japan, South Africa, Holland, Italy, China, Korea.

(Note- India is just a Doll of the World, not a Princess like most of the others. Spain is rather new. She is a flamenco dancer, but I cannot remember the exact name on the box. Also, not a princess. The Italian princess was actually called "Princess of the Renaissance" but, well...I have used the collection in teaching history and geography and "Renaissance" is little vague.
The Chinese doll is one of the "Festivals of the World" series. I added her to the collection because she was too beautiful not to. I have no plans to add other Festival dolls. They aren't to my taste for this collection.)

I am going to miss them when the holidays get here. BUT the thrill of anticipation at getting to decorate this mantle is certainly enough to get me through the next few months.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rethinking Policies

All I can imagine is that somewhere in NBC the concept of a totally LIVE show must have suddenly struck someone as a very bad idea, even one that has been around for 40-some-odd years. And then the blasted skit went online. At least that they could send the cyber-storm-troopers after.

Michelle Malkin has posted the transcript to the Saturday Night Live skit that has been posted and then disappeared from internet video sites. It concerns the government's bailout of the bad mortgage industry.

I don't watch network television. SNL especially hasn't been anything I was interested in. This one I wish I had caught.

Side Note- I once loaned a family member $2000. I was paid back $1000, but after that this person seems to have forgotten there was anything else. Is there a form I can fill out to have my $1000 added to the $700 billion? That would really help me out.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sweater Weather

Well, I don't know if it is just the time of year alone or if Hurricane Ike helped out, but the weather has been significantly cooler this week than last and last week was MUCH cooler than the week before that.

Of course Autumn plays a big part, but this is an early cooling for us. Around here things usually stay in the high 80s or even 90s well into October.

I hope this means we can expect a hard winter. I know that may sound odd, but severe cold (for this area means in the 10-20 ABOVE zero F range) in the winter cuts down on the insect populations the next summer. As a general rule I am not a fan of winter weather, so for me to say I want it really means something.

I am enjoying the cooler temps. I hope they last a while before things get really cold.

It feels like Spring was just a few weeks ago. I need to figure out what I am doing that makes my life fly by so quickly so I can slow things down a bit.