Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Hope My Car Makes It

Happy Thanksgiving a day early, everyone! Today I'm driving the 240 miles, give or take a few miles, home for Thanksgiving. I didn't get a chance to get my oil changed last week, and, as I have mentioned in a previous post, my oil gauge has been moving around quite a bit. The oil light still comes on when I start the car, which is what it's supposed to do according to the book in my glove compartment, and the gauge hasn't moved into the red zone yet, but it is still making me nervous. I'm scared that I'm going to break down on the interstate on what is probably the busiest travel day of the season with two dogs in my backseat. Sure, I have AAA, but I also have only $12 in the bank, $10 in my purse, and not a single credit card that I can use. Thus, I'm not sure that AAA will do me a heck of a lot of good. I also have no family members between Atlanta and Thomasville except for an elderly aunt in a nursing home in Ashburn. She can barely walk these days, let alone pick me up. I guess that I'm just going to have to cross my fingers and hope that the Redneck Mobile makes it to South Georgia in one piece. It may be a little hard to drive or work my iPod that way, but unless I open up my door in a few minutes to find that the Car Fairy left me a brand new Prius in my driveway, it's the best that I can do.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Political Autodialers Continue

Blog Pictures | acobox.comI thought that once the election was over, those annoying political autodialed calls would stop. Unfortunately, they have not, as Georgia is having a runoff race between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin for the U.S. Senate. In Georgia, a candidate has to get 50 percent of the vote plus 1, and Chambliss didn't get that. As a result, every single commercial break contains at least one commercial for the two candidates. It doesn't matter what channel I have it on--ABC, Lifetime, MTV, Cartoon Network, you name it--the commercials air. Of course, the commercials never say, "Vote for me for this reason." I could actually watch the commercials if they did. Instead, they always say, "Don't vote for the other person for this reason," the reason being some warped or out-of-context version of the truth. I have no respect for those type of commercials so I'm constantly changing the channel.

The political autodialed calls have also returned in full force. Usually, they start around 5 or 6 p.m., but I have gotten a few in the middle of the day. For some reason, they're all for Saxby Chambliss. I'm not sure why. I'm not a registered Republican, and I have never voted Republican in my life. Nevertheless I somehow ended up on the Republican mailing and call list. It was the same way before the presidential election. All Republican Party sponsored calls, all the time. I guess that means the Republican Party is exempt from the Do Not Call List. So, too, must be the American Heart Association, but that's a whole other post.

So if anyone knows when the runoff election will be held in Georgia, can you please leave a comment and let me know? I know that I could Google it and find out, but I don't have the energy. I'm too exhausted from answering the phone and trying to flip the channel during the commercial breaks to find a nonpolitical commercial. Thanks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Use Conversion Rate Optimization to Increase Your Site's Sales

As a blogger, I always want people to stay at my site long enough to read what I have to say. I don't just want them to take a quick peek at my design and move on to the next blog. I want them to stick around awhile.

If you own an e-commerce site, I would imagine that you don't just want visitors to stick around. You want them to actually buy something. In the past you may have employed search engine optimization to attract more visitors but still found that, despite the increase in traffic, your sales weren't following suit. If this describes your site, you may want to employ a conversion rate optimization service like that offered by WebSiteOptimization.com to improve the persuasive aspects of your site.

Conversion rate optimization, unlike SEO, does not aim to improve your rankings in various search engines. Instead, it tries to keep your visitors at your site long enough for you to make a sale, thereby converting visitors into actual customers. WebSiteOptimization.com uses several methods to accomplish this feat. First, it will research and identify both your target demographic and your competition. Then, keeping both of those factors in mind, WebSiteOptimization will develop a plan that will help you draw in that demographic while beating out the competition. Part of that plan will involve redesigning your site's design. The other part will involve persuasive copyrighting, that is, writing new copy for your site that will convince visitors to stay and to buy. Because WebSiteOptimization.com realizes that one size does not fit all as far as conversion rate optimization is concerned, it will use self-learning software to determine which combination of headlines, copy, offers, layout, and style will give your site the highest conversion rate. WebSiteOptimization.com even offers a 100% guarantee that its conversion rate optimization services will increase the sales for your site. Thus, you really have nothing to lose by trying its services, but you do have more sales to gain.

I Guess I Won't Be Winning Dog Mother of the Year

Friday night I did it again; I locked another dog in the closet. I didn't mean to, anymore than I meant to earlier last week when I shut my other dog in there. This time I'm not even sure when the dog went in the closet. All I know is that, when I started to go to bed around midnight Friday night, Bailey was nowhere to be found. He wasn't under the bed, on the bed, beside the bed, in either of his two dog beds, on the sofa, in the garage, or in any of the three bathrooms. I was afraid that I had left him outside, so I disabled the alarm and went out in the below-freezing temperatures in my pajamas to look for him. Luckily, he wasn't outside turning into a Chihuahua-shaped Popsicle either. That left only one place--my walk in closet. I checked, and sure enough he was sitting in the closet in the dark. You would think that, since I called his name for 30 minutes straight, he would have thought to bark or at least whimper so that I could find him, but he didn't. He just sat there, silently waiting for me to find him.

When I opened the closet door, Bailey came out slowly, his ears slicked back, and his tailed tucked under his bottom. I apologized profusely, as he crawled into my lap. Whereas Bella was so freaked out from her brief time in the closet that she wanted me to pet and fawn all over her, Bailey did not. Instead, every time I tried to pet Bailey and show my regret, he would nip at my hand with that underbite of his. Yeah, he wasn't having any of my apologies. After a few minutes, he got up from my lap and walked to the other side of the bedroom, where he continued to give me dirty looks. I may not be a dog whisperer like Cesar Milan, but I knew what Bailey's looks meant--I was a bad, bad Mommy. Thankfully, he didn't hold a grudge for a week like he did after I had to leave him at my mom's so he could have his FHO surgery a few years ago. He was so standoffish after that surgery that I actually thought my sister had changed his name. This time he was back to wanting mean, mean Mommy after a couple of hours.

Needless to say, I have learned my lesson. I will never shut my closet door again without turning the light on and checking for all things canine first.

The Princess Bride Game is a Great Game for Boys and Girls Alike

Key_artMy eight-year-old nephew is a video game enthusiast. On most days he's even a borderline fanatic. He actually just called me a few minutes ago to tell me that Homer Simpson said a word that rhymes with "grass" on his Simpson's X-box game. I asked him, "Uh, Chandler, aren't you supposed to be in school?" He told me that he was sick. I said, "You don't sound too sick," to which he replied, "I am, see," and sniffed loudly. Yeah, it's funny how a video game can be an immediate cure for the common cold.

Suffice it to say that a video game is always a safe bet when it comes to buying him a present at Christmas. As long as the game doesn't involve Hannah Montana or dressing up Barbie--Chandler is still at the age where girls are gross--he'll play it. I have found one game that I think he would like for Christmas, The Princess Bride Game. I would just have to convince him that he doesn't have to be either a princess or a bride to play it.

The Princess Bride Game is based on the movie The Princess Bride, which stars Robin Wright Penn, who I like to refer to as the original Kelly Capwell on Santa Barbara, as Princess Buttercup and Cary Elwes, who is probably better known now as that guy who cut his foot off on Saw, as Westley. It has been awhile since I have seen the movie. I think that the last time that I saw it was in high school back in the 90's. My friend Beth was obsessed with the movie, probably because it was the only movie her overly-strict mother would allow her to watch.

I do, however, remember the premise. Princess Buttercup, believing that her one true love, Westley, has died at sea, accepts a marriage proposal from the evil Prince Humperdinck. Prince Humperdinck subsequently has Princess Buttercup kidnapped on the eve of their wedding so that he can have an excuse to go to war with the neighboring country. His plan, however, is thwarted by the masked Dread Pirate Roberts, who rescues Princess Buttercup from the prince's goons. After a few funny mishaps, Princess Buttercup learns that the man behind the pirate's mask is actually Wesley, who has been alive and well this entire time. The two spend the rest of the movie trying to defeat Prince Humperdinck and find their happily ever after.

Of course, I can't tell Chandler that the movie and hence the video game are all about rescuing a princess and living happily ever after. If I did, he'd most likely turn his nose up at it and declare it a girl's game. No, I'll have to tell Chandler that the game is about pirates and fighting bad guys, which it also is. In fact, The Princess Bride Game is five, gender-neutral minigames in one. Each minigame is called an episode. Episode 2, Battle of the Wits, for example, is a trivia game. Episode 3, The Fire Swamp, is like your classic Mario Brothers or Sonic game. Westley and Princess Buttercup must make it safely through the swamp while swinging on vines, fighting off villains and monsters, and collecting jewels for extra points. Meanwhile, Episode 4, Miracle Max, is a hidden object and potion mixing game. There is even a Dairy Dash-esque minigame, where Westley and Princess Buttercup have to work together to take care of the farm.

The Princess Bride Game is just $19.99 and available for both Macs and PCs. Ordinarily, to get five games, you would have to pay five times that price, but the makers of The Princess Bride Game are offering them to you for the price of one. If you want to try before you buy, PrincessBrideGame.com offers free online demos of Episodes 2 through 4. You can also find a lot a lot of other fun stuff there for your kids, nieces, or nephews, including scenes from the game that the children can print out and color, wallpapers for their computer, and clubs that they can join. For parents, aunts, and uncles, the game's site further offers national reviews of the game from publications like USA Today and Woman's Day Magazine. If you're looking for a fun, family-friendly game that both girls and boys will like, The Princess Bride Game is a great place to start.

Now if I could just tear Chandler and his convenient cold away from Homer and Bart long enough to tell him about it.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

If You Don't Like Angst, Don't Read Angst

I know that I've complained about this problem before, but I'm going to complain about it again. Why do people read stories on FanFiction.net that are clearly in the angst category if they don't like angst? Seriously, why do they purposefully read something that they know to begin with that they're not going to like? Do they do it just so they can have something to complain about to the author of the story, or do they do it because they're gluttons for punishment?

I posted my update to my fan fic earlier in the week, which was two chapters' worth. The first chapter was 20 pages. The second was 32 pages. Did I get any credit for the length or the time it took me to write it from my readers? No. All anyone cared about was that the second chapter contained a lot of angst.

I have already explained in a previous post why I put the angst in the second chapter. I'm very frustrated with the way CSI is going, and I needed to work my frustrations out in my story. I included an author's note at the end of the second chapter saying pretty much the same thing and promised to fix the angst in the next chapter, but still I got reviews that said, "Give us a break already."

Why should I give them a break? It's my story. I'm the one writing it, not my readers. I'm the one who can see the bigger picture and why I'm writing it the way that I am. I know how it's going to end and what I need to have happen next so that it can end that way. I put the story in the angst category. So why do I need to change all my plans and my vision for the story to fluffy, wuffy goodness?

I think what I'm going to do for Chapter 88 is the following. I'm going to write Chapter 88A: Grissom's Dream. He's going to wake up from Chapter 87's cliffhanger ending and find out that everything from Chapter 1 onwards was all a dream. Then I'm going to end the chapter by saying that he and Sara live happily every in Dallas with their four children, Bobbie, J.R., Sue Ellen, and Pam, and their new dog Miss Ellie. If the Bobbie's Dream reference goes over their heads, so be it. Then I'm going to write Chapter 88B: The Real Story Continues for the five readers that I have who either don't mind the angst or actually like it.

So, Kudostogil, Butterflywhisperer, Toothchick, and the others who have said they get the angst (sorry I can't remember everyone's pen names at the moment), I'll keep on writing for you. As for anyone who wants fluffy wuffy and doesn't trust me enough to get to Fluffy Wuffy World in my own time, I'm going to give you an out. You can stop reading at Grissom's Dream. If you read beyond that, you're doing so at your own risk.

Sears Super Saturday Sales are Super Amazing

What I have learned since the temperature took a dip is that I don't just need more sweaters; I need a new winter jacket as well. I have a full length wool coat, but it's rather burdensome to wear. Because I consider it my "nice" coat, I don't want to wear it to take the dogs out or to drive home next week for Thanksgiving. If I spill something on it, I will have to take it to the cleaners. I can't just throw it in the washing machine and wash the poo or food stains away. Honestly, despite the fact that the coat is made from wool, it's not all that warm either. I also have a leather jacket, but it is a little too short and is sorely lacking in the insulation department.

I'd love to be able to get a new winter jacket without having to wait for Santa to bring it to me. This weekend, Sears might be able to help me out in that department with the Sears Super Saturday Sale. For this Saturday only, Sears is offering special Doorbuster Deals from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. at its local stores. For example, you can get sweaters and outerwear for the entire family at 60 percent off the regular purchase price during that time period. You can also get 15 percent off of fine jewelry, which Sears has already reduced by 40 to 70 percent.

If you're looking for a new vacuum and you don't want to have to deal with listening to a two-hour presentation by a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman like I had to do earlier this week--yes, I'm still a little bitter about those two hours of my life that I can never get back--check out Sears' deal on the Kenmore Progressive canister vacuum. During the Super Saturday Sale, you can get the vacuum for just $229.99, $70 off of Sears' normal price. What's even better than the price is the vacuum itself. Its nozzle has a low profile so it easily fits under furniture. My vacuum, which cost a whole lot more than $229.99, won't fit under the furniture unless I change out the regular vacuum attachment for a hose and then attach an additional tool to the hose. Believe me when I say that all the changing can be a hassle. The vacuum also has a stair grip that holds the canister on the stairs while you vacuum each step. Again that's a feature my high-priced vacuum cleaner doesn't have. The Kenmore Progressive canister vacuum even comes with a bare floor cleaner for those of you with hardwood or laminate flooring.

Sears' Doorbuster Deals are available only while supplies last. Thus, if you find a jacket on sale that you've just got to have but Sears doesn't have it in your size, you won't be able to get a rain check at the Doorbuster Deal price. You'll just have to come back later when your size is back in stock. My advice is to get there early when the doors open so you'll have a better chance of getting what you want. Hopefully, I'll see you there.

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Let It Snow Won't Let It Go

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I have had the song "Let It Snow" stuck in my head since I woke up this morning. Like I said in my previous post, it has been quite cold in Atlanta this week. However, it hasn't snowed a bit. In fact, there isn't a cloud in the sky today, and to my knowledge there isn't any snow in the forecast. So why is the same line playing over and over again in my head? "Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful..." Ugh!

I did have the fireplace on at lunch. Maybe that has something to do with it, or maybe I heard the song on a commercial and my subconscious just soaked up the lyrics like a sponge. Otherwise, I'm at a loss as to why the button to my internal iPod is stuck on replay. I really am.

I just Googled "how to get a song out of my head." It took me to this article that said I needed to make a list of songs that tend to get stuck in my head, rank them from the most sticky to the least sticky, and then listen to the song that's at the top of my list. The person who wrote the article said that this song should replace the song that is currently stuck in my head. If it didn't, he suggested that I sing "I'm a Little Teapot" so it would get stuck.

Yeah, which is worse, "I'm a Little Teapot" or "Let It Snow"? I'm thinking the teapot. Unfortunately for me, the more I think about it, the more the two songs are merging into one. "I'm a little teapot, short and stout, and as long as you love me so, let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow."

Remind me not to complain the next time Pink's "So What" gets stuck in my head. I'm actually starting to miss it.

Kmart Has Special Online Savings This Holiday Season, Too

The last week in Atlanta has been especially cold with lows in the 20's and 30's. I know those temperatures are considered warm in some parts of the country, but down in the South they're considered downright frigid. Even though I only venture outside to get the mail, take the dogs to the bathroom, and run to the grocery store, I still can't seem to get warm. I'm sure part of the problem is my winter wardrobe. It's sorely lacking. I can count the number of sweaters that I own on one hand and still have fingers left over.Click Here

It's a good thing then that Kmart.com is offering special online discounts between now and November 26 on select items throughout the store, including winter wear. Take this kimono wrap sweater from Attention, for example. Not only is it cute, warm, and flattering--wrap sweaters, like wrap dresses, tend to slenderize one's midsection--it comes in several colors as well--goblin blue, black, light ash gray, and gray sage. Moreover, the sweater is multifunctional. Pair it with a pair of jeans and some boots, and you've got a great weekend outfit. Put it with a black camisole and skirt, and you can wear it to work or to church. While its everyday price of $29.99 is already low, its price for the next week is even lower. Just put the sweater in your online shopping cart, and you'll see that you will get 10 percent or $3 off the purchase price.

The online savings can be found in other departments as well. Are you looking to buy a loved one jewelry for Christmas? Then look no further than the jewelry department at Kmart.com. This 1/4 ct. diamond, five-stone, yellow gold Journey pendant and earring set would normally cost you $339.99. However, Kmart.com currently has it on sale for $101.99. If you add it to your shopping cart, you'll see that you will get another 10 percent or $10.20 off the purchase price between now and November 26. That means you'll only have to pay $91.79 for the set, which is a great deal.

The online savings even extend into the bedroom. Right now you can get 30 percent off of Kmart.com's Medallion Dream Bedding Collection, pictured at left. As with the discounts on the pendant and earring set and the sweater, you won't see your savings until you add the bedding to your shopping cart. For instance, a queen Medallion Dream comforter set costs $79.99 before the discount. After adding it to your cart, it costs only $55.99. If you're looking to redo your bedroom, that's a savings you can't pass up.

Kmart.com will be offering additional holiday specials during the month of December, including 10 percent off of the following items online: women's plus sleepwear, Attention women's clothing, girls' and boys' tops, junior's clothing, men's shirts and bottoms, big men's shirts and bottoms, and infant and toddler bedding. Kmart.com will also have what amounts to online bluelight specials, what it's calling the Holiday Hunt. Ornaments will be hidden throughout the online store. Customers who click on these ornaments will receive a coupon code, which will give them additional savings on their purchases.

Whether you're shopping for Christmas gifts or cold-weather clothes, Kmart.com is a great place to start during this holiday season.

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I Guess I Still Haven't Learned My Lesson

When the Kirby salespeople came to the door Tuesday, the inner pit bull in Bailey, my Chihuahua mix, came out to play. He grabbed hold of the blinds by his crooked under bite and ripped four of the slats to shreds. Before I could even rethread them yesterday, the mail carrier came to the door with certified mail. I stood out on the porch signing the slips just long enough for Bailey to rip apart four more slats. Now I have to go downstairs in just a few minutes and replace eight slats in total before any perspective buyers drive by and see the white, plastic mess in my window.

You would think that, with these blinds being my fifth set, that I would have learned my lesson by now. Don't leave the blinds down during the day. I used to abide by that lesson when I was working, but now that the neighborhood kids are in school and I'm at home, I thought that it was safe to leave them down, at least for a few hours. Who knew that I'd get two uninvited visitors on my porch two days in a row? If a third visitor shows up today, I may end having to replace the entire thing, and there goes another $45 that I don't have or want to spend.

I just wonder, if I had a big dog like a Great Dane or a typically aggressive dog like a Rottweiler, would it actually be less aggressive than a Chihuahua with Little Dog Syndrome? I'm guessing probably.

The Naked Brothers Band is Chatting Live This Saturday Before Operation Mojo

My eight-year-old nephew Chandler is a huge Nickelodeon fan, although I don't think they call the channel Nickelodeon anymore. I think it's just called Nick now. Back when I was Chandler's age, Nickelodeon was known for programs like You Can't Do That on Television, where the three simple words, "I don't know," would get you covered in green slime, and game shows like Double Dare. Now it's known for having shows and movies that follow the daily misadventures of kids Chandler's age.

One such movie, The Naked Brothers Band: Operation Mojo, premieres this Saturday night, November 22, 2008, on Nick at 8 p.m. EST. The movie follows Nat and Alex of the Naked Brothers Band as Alex takes Nat on a camping trip for some "dudification" after Nat loses both his girlfriend, Rosalina, and his mojo. Alex hopes that the trip will help Nat get his mojo back, but, if the previews are any indication, the process won't be as simple as roasting marshmallows around a camp fire. Hilarious trials and tribulations will ensue, including one involving what seems to be a very hungry bear.

If you're a fan of Nat and Alex, you can chat with them live prior to the movie's premiere on the Naked Brother's web site, NatnAlex.com, at 7 p.m. EST. Alex is also asking that you help him get Nat's mojo back. There are three ways that you can do it. First, you can watch and share Nat's YouTube videos with five of your friends, which include both countdown videos for Operation Mojo and the Naked Brothers Band music videos. Second, you can subscribe to Nat's YouTube Channel so that you'll always know when the Naked Brothers Band releases a new YouTube video online. Third, you can make NatnAlex.com your home page.

Natnalex

I can see my nephew loving all three options. He has been a fan of YouTube ever since I introduced him to "The Mean Kitty Song" last Christmas, and he loves sites like Nat and Alex's. The site features Nat and Alex's own blogs, the latest news on the band, games, prizes, music, and a message board. It's a great place for kids and fans to hang out. I'm going to encourage him to join the live chat before the movie. I just hope for his sake my mother's temperamental dinosaur of a computer allows it.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My 2 A.M. Wakeup Call

Do you want to know what is really fun to do at 2 a.m. when you're half asleep and it's below freezing outside? Change the battery in the smoke detector in your garage. Last night or technically this morning, I was woken up to a high-pitched beeping. I wasn't sure at first what the noise was coming from. I only knew where it was coming from: downstairs. Thinking that it was the security system beeping because it lost its cellular backup signal yet again, I got up and went downstairs to turn it off and to wait for the inevitable call from ADT. However, the "b6" signal wasn't flashing on the alarm pad like it normally does when the cell signal vanishes. It said "STAY" and nothing else.

After a few minutes of walking around in circles trying to figure out what the beeping was coming from, it finally hit me; it was coming from that stupid smoke detector in the garage. Every other smoke detector in my house is hard-wired, i.e. tied into the electricity, except for the one in the garage. It operates off of a 9 volt battery. Getting to it is real fun. It's right above my treadmill, so I have to put the ladder in front of the treadmill and lean out over the panel area to reach it. That's probably not the safest way to change the battery, but at 2 in the morning, it's the only one I've got. I was too tired and too cold to fold up the treadmill and move it so I chose the leaning method instead and prayed that I didn't fall.

Luckily, I didn't fall or turn into a popsicle. However, when I came back inside, I couldn't find my cocker spaniel Bella. I spent probably 10 minutes looking for her and finally found her shut up in my walk-in closet. Apparently, she had been so scared by the high-pitch beeping, the ladder, and my cursing (hey, it was 2 a.m. and freezing in the garage), she had gone into the closet to hide. When I went to look for her in the master bathroom, I shut the closet door out of habit and inadvertently locked her in. After I freed her from the closet, I had to spend another 10 minutes calming her down and telling her that Mommy was sorry she scared her with that big, bad ladder and locked her in the dark closet.

Needless to say, I could use a nap today. I just don't think that I'm going to get it.

Zenni Optical Now Has Holiday Frames

Last night I decided to give my blog a new holiday look, but after spending several hours watching a Kirby salesman vacuum and deep clean my living room carpet yesterday afternoon, I was too tired to make much more in Paint.net than a new header and background. This morning when I woke up, I decided to tweak the design a little bit by changing the background around the Santa balls to the same shade of beige as the blog's background. Of course, I needed to be able to see the computer screen to do the tweaking, but I can't see five feet in front of me without corrective lenses. As I didn't have my contacts in--if you've ever woken up to a clump of dogs hairs stuck to or under your contact, you know why--I had to put on my glasses to work on the design.

As I have said in other posts, my glasses, just like my car, have seen better days. The finish on the wire-rimmed sides is peeling off, and the lenses look like a feral cat went after them. I was reminded of just how scratched the lenses are this morning while I worked in Paint.net. There was this blurry spot on the left lens that bothered me every time I looked at the computer screen. I would repeatedly take the glasses off, clean the lenses with the microfiber cloth or the edge of my pajama top, and put the glasses back on, only to find that the blurry spot was still there. Finally, I held the glasses up to the light and saw why: the spot wasn't dirt but another scratch.

I think that the scratch was a sign that I need to ask Santa to bring me a new pair of glasses this Christmas. His elves wouldn't even have to make them. They could just log onto ZenniOptical.com and order a new pair for next to nothing. As I have mentioned before on this blog, Zenni Optical has an amazing selection of eyeglass frames to choose from, including a line of Holiday frames. Their prices are even more amazing. At Zenni Optical, both you and Santa can purchase a pair of glasses for as low as $8.00 a pair, plus $4.95 shipping.

The glasses pictured at the beginning of this post are from Zenni Optical's holiday-inspired line. They're only $23.95. I love the red color on the frame. I'm not sure if I'm quite hip enough to pull off red frames, but I wouldn't mind trying, especially for the holidays. I can't really wear holiday-themed earrings anymore--even sensitive ear earrings infect my ears--and I'm way to old for Santa sweaters, so red glasses would be a great, easy way to show my holiday spirit. For just $4.95, I could add an anti-reflective coating to the lenses. The resulting reduction in glare would definitely help me out the next time that I feel the need to spend some quality time on Paint.net in my PJ's. For another $4.95, I could also add sunglass tint and finally have a pair of prescription sunglasses.

If you're also looking to accessorize your eye wear this holiday season, check out the rest of Zenni Optical's holiday frames. At Zenni Optical's low prices, holiday frames won't cost you nearly as much as a T-shirt that says, "Ho, ho, ho!" Plus, your new holiday frames will comes with a free eyeglass case, a microfiber cloth, anti-scratch coating, 1.57 index lenses, full UV protection, and a guarantee that your prescription will be both accurate and clear. If your tastes run a little more conventional, take a look at Zenni Optical's other frames. You can find anything from sensible, wire-rimmed, adult frames to pink, polka-dotted frames for little girls. Zenni Optical's inventory has something for everyone.

I wonder if I tell my mom that a new pair of glasses would fit nicely in a stocking, would she and Santa get the hint? I guess there is only one way to tell.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never Trust a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman

No offense to anyone out there who sells vacuum cleaners door to door for a living, but when you say that it's only going to take 15 minutes to clean a prospective customer's carpet, you don't really mean it. Normally, I never go the door when someone is selling something. That's how I ended up with an overpriced Kirby in the first place, but today I had the blinds open and was just sitting down on the sofa to eat lunch when a woman knocked on my door. As I was only a few feet from the window and Bailey, the Wonder Chihuahua, was hanging from the blinds by his teeth, I couldn't exactly pretend like I wasn't there. Thus, I answered the door for once.

As it turns out, the lady was selling Kirby vacuums. I thought that I was off the hook and could graciously say, "Thanks, but no thanks," since I already have one, but I couldn't. The lady asked if she could vacuum anyway because she didn't get paid unless she showed the vacuum to 15 houses in my neighborhood. Given my own jobless status, I wanted to help her. She promised me that it would only take 15 minutes and she wouldn't try to sell me the vacuum since I already had one.

Guess what the catch to that was? She wouldn't try to sell me one because she wasn't the one who would be doing the sales pitch. Her associate Mike was. Two hours later, not 15 minutes later, Mike had vacuumed my floors in my living room; shampooed them; vacuumed my sofa, love seat, and arm chair; and called in his manager, who was also named Mike, to get me a good deal. I told them a million times that I didn't have a job and barely had money for groceries, let alone for a new vacuum when mine worked just fine, but the two Mikes weren't listening. They kept calling yet another manager to get me an even better deal.

Again, no offense to Kirby salesmen, but even the better deals were ridiculous. They started out wanting me to pay $1695 for a vacuum and eventually lowered the price to $1000. Yeah, like anyone is or can pay that much for a vacuum in a recession. Even if I had the money, I wouldn't buy another one. Mine is fine, and if it ever dies and my warranty doesn't cover a replacement vacuum, I'm just going to buy a Dyson or the new Bissell Pet Vac. I'm never taking three years to pay for a vacuum ever again. I had to finally give the guys a big, fat no. They were polite, but they weren't happy with me, and I have no idea what happened to Little Miss Bait and Switch who originally came to the door.

Tomorrow if anyone knocks on the door, I'm going back to being the crazy recluse with all the dogs and not answer the door. If that makes me rude, so be it.

Bad Candy, Bad

The next time that my mother asks me if I want candy for Halloween, I need to remember this moment and say, "No. I'd rather have a book or another cheesy pair of Halloween socks." This year I didn't do that. Instead, I said, "Sure. I'd love some Almond Joys, or maybe some Snickers or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups."

When I was in the third grade, my Girl Scout troop went to Agrirama in Tifton, Georgia for a field trip. My mom, claiming that she didn't want me to go hungry, packed two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the world's biggest Ziploc bag of Cheetos, several cookies, and two Capri-Suns. I'm still surprised that my Strawberry Shortcake box held it all. As you can imagine, my mom still doesn't want me to go hungry. Thus, she sent all three types of candy, and I ate every last piece, granted not all in one sitting.

Now three weeks later I'm so bloated that I look like I'm at the end of my first trimester. Unfortunately, the best diet pills in the world won't make my pants fit any looser because it's not the fat that's doing it. It's the, um, rather congesting effects that the candy is having on my digestive system that is making my stomach look like I swallowed a watermelon whole. I'm starting to think that if I stuck a pin in my skin right next to my belly button, I'd go flying through the air like a deflating balloon. I'd even try it if I thought it would actually give me relief. All I know is that this Christmas when my mom asks me what kind of candy I want in my stocking, I'm telling her and Santa that the only sweet things that I want are an iTunes gift card and maybe some Extra sugar-free gum.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Adding Tabs in Blogger: A Few Sites to Try

In case anyone is wondering, it is possible to have tabbed pages in Blogger. Is it as easy as I would assume it would be in WordPress, where you can presumably just add the pages from your dashboard? No. You have to create static pages first by writing a post with the information that you want on the tabbed pages (About Me, Contact, etc.), change the date on those posts to a date that is before your first post so that it won't show up on your RSS feed or, if it does, it won't be your newest post, and publish the posts. Then, if you're like me and have never read HTML or CSS for Dummies, you have to spend hours searching for directions on how to create the tabs on the Internet and trying each set of directions until you find the look you want.

From what I found out when I ventured into the tabbed arena earlier in the week, there are three different ways to display the About Me, Contact, and similar pages on a Blogger blog. You can have a horizontal, tabless list of words that link to the static pages; a horizontal list of images that link to them; or tabs like I have. I'm not going to tell you how to do each of those things. I'm scared that I'd screw it all up if I tried. Instead, I'm just going to suggest a few sites that I found: Tips-for-New-Bloggers.blogspot.com (specifically, two posts entitled Add Navigation Bar in Header Image and Horizontal Menu and Navigation Bar), Blogdoctor.me, BloggerBuster.com, and Bloggingtips.com.

To get tabs like mine, follow the directions in Blog Doctor's "Free CSS Navigation Menus in Blogger" post. You'll have to download the images for the tabs from Exploding-Boy.com. Don't worry. They're free. I wouldn't have used them otherwise. Just look for Exploding Boy's similarly titled post, "Free CSS Navigation Menu Designs," when you go to his web site.

A word of advice though from someone who had to find this little tidbit out through trial and error. If you alter the color of the tabs in Photoshop, Paint.net, or some other paint program, do not make the vertical image horizontal before you upload it to Photobucket or another online photo-sharing program. Intuitively, you would think that you're supposed to because the tabs are horizontal on your blog, but apparently the CSS language that Blog Doctor has set up somehow compensates for the vertical position. You should, however, leave the horizontal image horizontal.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to add similar tabs to my fan fic site. Hopefully, it will only take a half hour this time instead of half a day like it did earlier in the week when I added them to this site.


(UPDATED 3/5/09: THIS POST NOW INCLUDES DIRECT LINKS TO THE ARTICLES THAT TELL YOU HOW TO ADD TABS. JUST CLICK ON THE BLUE TEXT. ALSO, JUST TO LET YOU KNOW, I HAVE SWITCHED FROM TABS TO A NAVIGATION BAR FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE WONDERING WHERE THE TABS WENT. I FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS IN TIPS FOR NEW BLOGGERS.)

Sears Has Brought Back Layaway, Too

I can now add Sears to my list of must-see stores this holiday season, as Sears has also brought back its layaway program. If you visit a Sears, Sears Hardware, Sears Grand, or Sears Essentials store within the next few weeks, you can use Sears Layaway to spread out your payments on almost any item in the store. All you have to do is select the item or items that you want to put on layaway, bring them to the layaway counter, and pay a cash down payment of either $15 or 20 percent of your purchase price, whichever is greater. Some items are excluded from layaway, like home electronics, home appliances, automotive merchandise, food, beer, wine, live plants, and photos. Sears also charges a nonrefundable $5 service fee and a $10 cancellation fee. Items cannot be put on layaway after December 22 and must be picked up and paid in full by December 23.

Sears has a lot of great items that are eligible for its layaway program. I would love to put this Covington zip front, Nappa leather jacket on layaway for my mother. She has a full-length wool coat for work and a lightweight fleece for the weekends, but she doesn't have an in between jacket that she can wear anywhere. Just last week she asked my grandmother--her mother--if she could have my great grandmother's leather jacket. The jacket is just sitting in my great grandmother's closet, collecting dust and absorbing the stench of thirty years worth of moth balls. My grandmother told my mother that she couldn't have it because she might want to wear it one day. My grandmother has five closets full of clothes and jackets, including a hideous, animal-unfriendly mink number that none of us will allow her to wear in public. Sure, she needs an old leather jacket more than my mother who, if she threw out all of her clothes that no longer fit or were worn out, could probably fit all of her things in a broom closet. I wish that I could get this jacket from Sears so that my mother could tell her mother, "Thanks, but I have my own now, and it doesn't reek of moth balls. Keep Granny's."

I also wish that I could put this tool set on layaway. It's called the Rockwell 37-Piece Sonicrafter Kit. It's just the tool my mother needs to finally finish refinishing the old buffet that she found at a junk shop downtown years ago. The thing is a hot mess right now. My other got the bright idea of stripping the age old, white paint off of the buffet with RediStrip when she first bought it, but, unlike in the infomercial, the RediStrip stuck to the buffet. We've been able to get the Redistrip and underlying paint off of parts of the buffet--the flat, easy-to-access areas--but not off of the detailed parts. Not only would the Sonicrafter allow my mom to gain access to those tiny areas with its contour sander attachment, it would also allow her to complete other projects around the house, like replace the stained grout in her kitchen or lay down new laminate flooring in the living room.

Finally, I'd love to put this Top Heavy layered T on layaway for my nephew. He doesn't have a lot of long sleeved shirts, not because my mom or sister won't buy him any but because they can't agree on style. My mom wants to turn my nephew into a walking, talking J. Crew ad. If she could have it her way, Chandler would wear plaid shorts, polo shirts, and knee socks every day of the week. The problem is Chandler is so not a preppy kind of kid. He likes his graphic tees and not much else. Good luck, however, finding a long-sleeve graphic tee that both he, my mom, and my sister can all agree on. I think this layered number would be a great compromise. It has long sleeves so my sister would be happy. It doesn't have some saying like "my sister ate my homework," so my mom would be happy. Believe it or not, she and Chandler had a 20 minute argument over such a shirt once because my mother insisted that Chandler couldn't wear a shirt about his sister when he doesn't actually have a sister. Chandler will like it because it's red, his favorite color, and because it has a drum set on it. If Santa brings him the Wii and Guitar Hero that he wants for Christmas, he could totally rock this shirt.

Now all I need is some money and directions to Sears. To find the Sears store nearest you or to learn more about Sears Layaway, please visit Sears.com or click on the link below.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is McGruff McGone?

Forgive me, but I need to vent for a minute. About an hour ago, I got back from a Taco Bell run to find out that I was just a few minutes behind the school bus. Kids were all over my neighborhood, and by all over I literally mean all over. They weren't just on the sidewalks and cutting across neighbors' lawns. They were in the middle of the street as well. Every time that I thought I had an opening to drive another five feet forward, another child would walk out in front of my car, their back to me, without even looking for oncoming traffic.

Now when I was their age or even younger, I was taught the basics of safety by my teachers, my parents, and McGruff the Crime Dog. Stop, look, and listen at train tracks. Stop, drop, and roll if I'm ever on fire. Don't talk to strangers. Don't accept rides from strangers. Don't take candy from strangers, and--here's the source of my contention today--look both ways before crossing the street.

I don't think that schools teach those lessons anymore. They've become so focused on standardized testing that they no longer care about the fundamentals. Yes, the ABC's are important, but if a kid gets killed because he ran into oncoming traffic, it's not going to matter if he could read and write. I know a lot of teachers probably think that parents should be responsible for teaching those things, but those teachers have never met the parents in my neighborhood. We're talking about parents who sit by while their kids play in the sewers and stuff dog feces in their neighbor's mail box. None of these parents will ever win awards for Mother or Father of the Year. If they won't teach their kids to look both ways or to stop, drop, and roll, who will? I'd like to think that McGruff the Crime Dog would, but, based on what I saw today, I'm starting to think that McGruff has been "McBanned."

The longer I stay here, the longer a deserted island is looking better and better. I'm allergic to fish so I'd have to live on coconuts and bugs, but at least I wouldn't have to play the What are the Brats Going to Do Now Game on a daily basis. While I can avoid the traffic problem by staying put when school lets out, I can't do anything about the next pile of poo that they're going to throw at me. Unfortunately, in my case I'm sure that it will be a literal pile of poo and not just a figurative one. Heck, maybe that's what McGruff is passing out these days instead of coloring books. It might explain the ban.

Okay. Vent over.

Kmart and Mr. Bluelight are Bringing Layaway Back for the Holidays

It used to be that when I heard the words "Kmart" and "bluelight special," I would always think of the last scene in the movie Troop Beverly Hills where Velda, the villainous Wilderness Girl troop leader who tried to sabotage Shelley Long's troop in the Wilderness Jamboree, is working at K-mart. Velda picks up the speaker phone and announces to the stores' customers, "Attention K-mart shoppers. Bluelight special. Aisle 13. Cookies." Every time that I would go into a K-mart after seeing that scene, I would want to visit Aisle 13 and see if it indeed had cookies on sale. I blame my sister for the association. I swear she used to make my mom rent that movie every week when we were kids. Even now I still have the theme song in my head. "We're the girls from Beverly Hills. Shopping is our greatest skill."

Now, however, when I hear "Kmart" and "bluelight special," I think, "Ooh, layaway." Just in time for the holidays, Kmart has brought back Kmart Layaway, something that I'm truly excited about. The first time that I saw the Kmart commercial advertising the return of layaway, I called my mom and said, "You can put Chandler's Wii on layaway now." She, of course, reminded me that my hometown has not had a Kmart in a couple of decades. I then reminded her that Tallahassee, which is just a short drive away, does. She would do better to drive to the Tallahassee Kmart and put the gaming system on layaway than to wait until her boss passes out the Christmas bonuses this year. Last year, he waited until December 23 to hand out the bonuses. I'm pretty sure that there weren't any gaming systems--Wii, Xbox Live, Playstation 3, or otherwise--left in the state of Georgia on the day before Christmas Eve, except for maybe a couple that you buy out of some guy's trunk in a dark alley.

I'm also excited by Kmart's new mascot, Mr. Bluelight. Not only is the character adorable and a great tie-in to the store's bluelight specials, it also makes a lot of sense symbol-wise. We've all seen those cartoons where a light bulb flashes above a character's head when he is suddenly struck by a great idea or thought. Well, in this case, it's not a character but a store that was struck by a great thought--bringing back layaway. The U.S. is in a recession at the moment. People are losing their jobs right and left. Foreclosures are on the rise. Credit is hard to obtain. Money is tight all around. Those things can make for a bleak, holiday season for stores and consumers alike. People probably aren't going to buy as much as they normally do this Christmas, not because they don't want to but simply because they can't afford to, especially if they have to pay for everything at once.

Kmart, unlike many of its competitors, has realized that times are tough and that its customers may need a little more time to pay for their holiday gifts. Thus, it is giving its customers that time, up to eight weeks if need be. With a few exceptions, you can put almost any Kmart product on layaway: Martha Stewart bedding; Black Hills Gold jewelry; Heritage brand cribs; clothes from Kathy Ireland, Jaclyn Smith, and Joe Boxer; toys; and even Spongebob aquariums. However, there are some things that you can't put on layaway, things like groceries, beer, cigarettes, hazardous products, prescription drugs, and live plants. Common sense tells you why; the food would spoil, the plants would die, and the hazardous items could explode or leak.

What do you need to do to use Kmart layaway? Simply take the items that you have selected to the layaway desk. Kmart will require you to pay either a 10 percent down payment or the $5 service fee and $10 cancellation fee upfront, whichever amount is greater. You will then be required to make payments every two weeks that are 25 percent of the balance due and pay off the total amount at the end of eight weeks. As long as you make the payments on time, Kmart will hold the items for you. However, should you miss a payment, the item will be placed back in the store seven days after the missed due date.

To find a Kmart store near you with layaway, just go to Kmart.com, click on the layaway link, and enter your zip code in the search box. Your savings and layaway are then just a short drive away. Meanwhile, I'm thinking of making up some T-shirts or bumper stickers that say "I Heart Mr. Bluelight." He may very well be my favorite holiday character this season.Click Here

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Think the Neverending Headache Might Actually Be the Flu

Blog Pictures | acobox.comSo I think I know now why all of the Tylenol, Advil, Claritin D, and Benadryl that I have taken in the last week hasn't phased my headache and earache. I think it's because they're all symptoms of a much bigger problem--the flu. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been run over by a truck in the middle of the night. I was so sore that I was actually tempted to look at my back in the bathroom mirror to see if there were skid marks. (Okay. I took a little peek before I got in the shower; there weren't any, LOL.)

It wasn't just my back that hurt this morning, and still hurts I might add. My arms, neck, and legs all hurt, and my chest had that congested feeling that it gets right before I get full-blown sick. All I need now is a fever, and my suspicions will be confirmed. I can't even get a flu shot this year because Georgia passed some stupid law saying that you can't get a flu shot at the drug store or grocery store anymore; you can only get one at a doctor's office after being examined by a licensed physician. Consequently, I would have to pay for an office visit in addition to the $20 to $25 fee for the flu shot. I just don't have that kind of money on me. Even if I did, the shot probably wouldn't do any good. The last time I had it, I still got sick. Yep, I got that one strain of the flu that wasn't covered by the vaccination.

If I wake up feeling worse tomorrow, at least it will give me a valid excuse for laying in bed all day. If I do that now, I just feel like a total loser.

Free Blog Pics and Storage are Available at Acobox.com

Blog Pictures | acobox.comIn case you couldn't tell, I like to include a picture with each of my posts. I think it makes the posts more interesting, especially if I can find an image that both goes with the topic of my post and makes me, and hence my readers, laugh. I've had a real problem lately finding pictures that are free and not marked with those dreaded words "all rights reserved." I've also grown concerned about what happens when I reach the 1024 MB photo storage limit that Blogger has imposed on its blogs. Will I still be able to use photos so long as I store them elsewhere online, or will I have to move my blog to a paid post? I'm nowhere near the limit yet, but I would like to know the answer to that question before the end is in site.

In the meantime, I have found a site that both makes it easier to find free blog pictures and slows my trip down Storage Limit Lane, Acobox.com. What's great about Acobox is that it eliminates all the hassles involved with adding pictures to your blog. For instance, you no longer have to worry about downloading the picture to your computer, adjusting the pixels so that it is optimized for web use, resizing it, or whether you have inadvertently violated its copyright or license. Acobox handles all of those things for you. That is, the site stores the pictures for you. You simply link to the image on Acobox using a hotlink that you place in your post's html code. Acobox gives you five different sized images to choose from, optimizes the image's pixels, and handles all licensing and copyright issues involved with displaying the image on your blog.

Another positive is that Acobox's image library is quite varied. It includes everything from black and white animal photography like the one of the mama and baby ape above to colored landscapes like the one of the Grand Canyon below. The site even has illustrations. Best of all, use of the site and its images is free.
Blog Pictures | acobox.com
Do you want to get started using Acobox.com? Great. All you have to do is go to the Acobox web site, create a free user account, register your blog or web site, and begin searching its library for the perfect photo or illustration for your post. Once you find the one that you want, simply click on how you want the image aligned in your post--right, left, or no alignment--and the size that you prefer--100, 200, 300, 400, or 500 pixels. Then click on the code box to get your hotlink code. You can use Control-C to copy the code, and Control-V to paste it in your blog. Voila. You image will be displayed. It's that simple, which is why Acobox.com will be my first stop for my blog pics here on out.

THIS POST SPONSORED BY ACOBOX.COM

Neosporin on Zits? Seriously?

I'm watching Oprah right now, and of course my ears perked up when they came to the adult-onset acne segment. I've been suffering from the same problem as Oprah's guest since college. The last time I had clear skin was in high school. I thought I had tried just about everything on the market until I heard what this lady was doing. First, she's using a body poof and antibacterial hand soap to wash her face. Uh, I could tell her that even acne sufferers shouldn't use antibacterial hand soap on their face. For one thing, it's super drying. When your face gets uber-dry, the oil glands eventually compensate for the arid state by producing even more oil than they were producing before. For a second thing, your face might build up some kind of bacterial resistance from overusing the soap. Then what are you going to use?

The guest's regimen didn't end there. She then used witch hazel to finish removing her makeup. Witch hazel is an astringent that's one step away from being rubbing alcohol. Again she's drying her face out so much that in the long run she's only going to make it oilier. Following the witch hazel, the guest applied a thick cream that Oprah said she actually used to remove makeup, followed by an antibacterial ointment (i.e. Neosporin). If I put either one of those products on my face, especially the greasy Neosporin, I would wake up with cysts the size of Mount Everest. The woman is definitely doing her skin more harm than good.

Of course, that's essentially what Dr. Oz and company told her. Then they gave her the "you're beautiful the way you are" and "the acne's not that bad" speech. I could tell from her watery eyes that she wasn't hearing them. Truthfully, I wouldn't have heard them either. I've heard those speeches myself. They always come from people with great skin who may get one or two zits around that time of the month, not every day of their lives. They don't know what it's like to wake up to the skin that you should have had when you were in high school, not the skin that you're supposed to have in your 30s. Consequently, I have a feeling the woman will continue with the Brillo pad/Neosporin regime.

As for me, I guess I'll stick with my current Cetaphil, Stridex Sensitive, and Oil of Olay Sensitive routine. It's actually working better than the faux Proactiv I was using and doesn't bleach my clothes. I just wish that I could find some miracle product that would get rid of the red spots or scars on my cheeks. Because I'm so pale, they're actually worse than the acne. I was hoping Dr. Oz would recommend a product to the guest, but he was too busy giving speeches. Oh, well.

Let PowerSteeringPros.com Be Your Source for Power Steering Boxes and Racks

Well, the Redneck Mobile is at it again. As if the car didn't have enough problems--cosmetic and otherwise--now the oil gauge is jumping all around. If the car is off, it's at the quarter mark; if the car is in motion, it's at the half mark. I don't really know what that means. I looked in the book that's in my glove compartment. According to Chevrolet, I'm fine so long as the "low oil" light comes on when I start my car and the needle isn't in the red zone. So far, the light works, and the needle has stayed above red, but it still has me worried. I have never noticed the gauge moving before now. It's probably no big deal. I probably just need an oil change, but it still has me worried. I'm paranoid that the car is going to burst into flames at any minute.

If you're having problems with your car's power steering, instead of its oil gauge, you should check out PowerSteeringPros.com. As you probably already know, a car with power steering is easier to turn than a car without because the car's steering system is aided by an external power source. When something is going wrong with this external source, you'll find that your car is suddenly harder to turn or steer. A lot of times the solution is as simple as replacing the power steering fluid in your car. Other times, however, the solution is a lot more complicated. You may need to replace the power steering rack, power steering box, or power steering pump.

A few years ago, you would have to take you car to a mechanic to get the power steering rack, power steering box, or power steering pump fixed. Of course, anyone who has ever taken their car to a mechanic knows that it's not the parts that cost; it's the labor. Well, now thanks to PowerSteeringPros.com, you can save on labor by buying and replacing the parts yourself. PowerSteeringPros.com sells both power steering and manual steering parts directly to the public at wholesale prices. Each power steering box, power steering rack, or power steering pump carried by the company is either original equipment or a high-quality brand name part. The parts are also covered by complete warranties. All orders ship free from one of the company's 28 nationwide warehouses and usually arrive at your home within a couple of days. If you ever need any help with your order, you can contact PowerSteeringPros.com's toll-free customer service line. Not all online companies offer real-live customer support.

Personally, I plan on bookmarking the site for future reference. With the way my luck runs in regards to the Redneck Mobile, I'm sure the power steering will be the next to go. If I take a couple of "Automotive for Dummies" classes at the local technical school, I might just be able to fix the car myself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Still No Lookiloos

I guess the two real estate agents who called last Sunday and Monday were a fluke. Not only did they never show up, but no one has called to see my house since. You would think that with the $30,000 price reduction that someone would want to look at my house, if for no other reason than they're curious to see what it looks like inside, but no. They're all staying away, despite the fact that I have steam cleaned every single morning for the past week and washed dishes and clothes every single night. I had my fingers crossed this morning that a new week would bring new luck. After all, my dogs actually made it all the way through the night last night without urinating on the carpet, and thus for the first time in a week I didn't have to steam clean before I could even get a shower. Well, the only thing that my crossed fingers did was give me finger cramps.

Last week I said that I should order some promotional pens or send up a hot air balloon advertising my house. This week I'm thinking more along the lines of "buy me" T-shirts or one of those stick-on decals for my car. Hey, they could work. Then again, the T-shirts would probably just get me arrested for solicitation.

Let WebHostingGeeks.com Help You Find the Perfect Host for Your Fan Fic

Recently, I decided to post my CSI fan fic, A Promise to Keep, on Blogger. After I was kicked to other side of the virtual cafeteria by the Cyber-Heathers, I figured that I might want to have a backup plan or place for the story. I obviously wouldn't be posting anymore updates on the Heathers' Wiki site, and, with the way my luck has been going lately, I was scared that the webmaster at FanFiction.net would decide that the costs of maintaining his site are just too much to bear and shut it down. Thus, I moved all 80 plus chapters of A Promise to Keep to gsrfangirl.blogspot.com.

As much as I love Blogger, I do realize that it has its limitations. For instance, you can't just add tabs across the top of the page like you can in WordPress. Instead, you have to trick Blogger into letting you do it. As such, it may be a little difficult for me to post a second story on the site, should I ever finish with what I have come to think of as The Neverending GSR Story. Plus, I think that I have read somewhere online that Google can shut down your Blogger site whenever it wants without notice. I don't know if that statement is true or just an Internet urban legend. I would assume that you would have to violate the terms of service in some major way before Google would go to such an extreme. Nevertheless, this rumor--true or false--makes me a little nervous.

One of these days, I'd like to move the story to a site that's a little more fan fic friendly, that is, a site that would allow me to design the template in such a way that I can separate my stories by tabs and maybe even add a forum or chat feature. To do so, I would have to venture into the world of paid hosts, something that I have never done before. From what I can tell, there are a ton of paid hosts out there, which can be confusing to a novice like me. Luckily, there is also a site that helps to clear up some of the confusion, WebHostingGeeks.com.

WebHostingGeeks.com is essentially a web host review site. It takes all the hosts that are out there and sorts them into categories and easy-to-use charts. For instance, the site has just released its 2008 Top 10 list of web hosts, which, in addition to basic information about and links to the hosts' web sites, includes web hosting reviews. Each review contains starred ratings for things like customer support, price, and user friendliness, as well as written opinions by people who have actually used the web hosts.

The site offers other rankings as well. At WebHostingGeeks.com, you can find out what are the best budget, blog, forum, unix, Windows, PHP, email, ecommerce, multi-domain, VPS, dedicated, and reselling hosts. You can also read articles that explain the how-to's and the what-does-that-mean of web hosting. The articles are useful for both rookies and seasoned pros alike.

So for all of you fellow fan fic writers out there who have been thinking about starting your own fan fic site but don't know where to start, I suggest letting WebHostingGeeks.com be your starting point.

My Fan Fic Update is Coming, I Swear

For those of you who are visiting this blog because you clicked on my home page link on FanFiction.net, I just wanted to let you know that I am almost done with the update. I had every intention of finishing it today, but I was able to snag a few paid posts, and writing those took priority. I know that I have been taking longer and longer to post an update, but this time writer's block isn't to blame. Instead, the fault lies squarely with me trying to write two chapters at once. I started writing the first chapter, but once Grissom began regressing on the show, I put the first chapter aside and started working on the second one.

Without giving too much away, Lady Heather appears again in the second chapter. I know. I know. Haven't we had enough of her as is? Yes, but I had her reappearance in the story planned long before that farce of an episode last week. However, I didn't know that I would be as frustrated with CSI as I am now when I planned it. Consequently, the second chapter is probably going to come off a lot angstier than I originally intended. I had to work out my frustrations over the ambiguous ending to "Leave Out All the Rest" somehow, and since my mom is sick of hearing me vent about it, I figured that the story was as good of a place as any. I know that a lot of you are tired of the angst, but as I've said before, only two weeks, give or take, have passed in the story. That's a little too quick for happily ever after, especially when there are some unresolved issues between Grissom and Sara like Lady Heather. I promise that the angst of the second chapter will be worked out within the next few chapters that follow. Please just bear with me until then.

On the positive side, I expect each chapter to be between 25 to 30 pages in Microsoft Works. Thus, you'll get around 50 to 60 pages of update to read. Maybe the length will at least make up for the delay and for the added Lady Heather angst. As always, thanks for reading!

Save on Your Next Jewelry Purchase with Ice.com Coupons

Speaking of Christmas presents, I wish I could buy my mom a really nice watch this year. Savings.com has several Ice.com coupons available that I could use, including one that would give me 20 percent off of my next order and another that would give me free shipping. My mom is one of those people who will put her watch on every morning, even though the battery has been dead for months or even years. She likes the look of a watch; she just never has the time to get the battery replaced. My sister and I learned a long time ago that the only way we can get her to put on a watch that actually works is to buy her one at Christmas, on her birthday, or for Mother's Day. Then she feels obligated to wear it.

I'm afraid, however, that even with the coupons, the designer watches may be well out of my price range. Granted, all of the watches are gorgeous, and it appears that Ice.com offers convenient payment plans. Nevertheless, I'm petty much broke at the moment. Luckily for me, Savings.com offers coupons from other vendors and on other types of gifts as well. Given the state of the U.S. economy at the moment, I, along with everyone else I know, will be looking to get the best deal that they can during the upcoming holiday season. If it's one thing that I've learned since I lost my job, it's that $5 off here and 10 percent off there adds up. That's why I use coupons whenever and wherever I can. In the past few months, I've pretty much become Coupon Sally.

If you are like me, you may be looking for great deals on toys in the upcoming weeks. Savings.com has several coupons that can help you out in that department. Using Savings.com's coupon codes, you can get $15 off an order of $30 or more from eToys.com; $5 off an order of $100 or more from KBToys.com; and free shipping on an order of $49 or more from ToysRUs.com. I love these three online toy stores for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is, if my nephew is with me when I shop, there is less of a chance that he will try to negotiate upwards for a more expensive toy than if we're in a real store. Chandler learned a long time ago that a well-placed brat fit makes for great blackmail material. Plus, a lot of times I'm able to find toys on these sites that I can't find at my local Target or Wal-mart. If I can get these toys at a discount, especially during this jobless phase of my life, I'll be that much happier come Christmas time.

My mom told me earlier today that my sister went to Wal-mart with her best friend Daisy last night in her pajama bottoms. Apparently, she put on a non-pajama shirt for the outing, but she couldn't bother to change out the Pepto Bismol pink, plaid, flannel, drawstring pants for a pair of less embarrassing blue jeans. My first thought when my mom told me that was, "Thank God I no longer live in that town." The second was, "She's lucky she didn't get in an accident or have to go through a roadblock like that." My final thought, however, was, "I think I should get her some pants for Christmas." Since Tina likes drawstring pants so much, I may have to use one of Savings.com's Old Navy coupons to get her a non-pajama pair like the one pictured above. My favorite drawstring pants came from there, and I know that she could probably use another pair of the store's flip flops. Believe me when I say that Tina lives in Old Navy flip-flops, even in winter. It's a miracle that her toes haven't fallen off from frostbite yet. Even if I can't find her the perfect pair of comfy pants or flip flops, I can at least use a coupon to get her a pair of Old Navy's low-priced jeans at an even lower price.

If I can get a job by Christmas, I think I'll revisit Ice.com's watch selection. I found one watch that I think my mother would like. I believe that, with the 20 percent off code from Savings.com, it might actually be doable. I just need an income first.

A Week Later My Headache Still Hasn't Gone Away

Last week I mentioned on this blog that I had a headache that had lasted three days. Well, now that headache is going on Day Seven. It's not pounding like it was last week, but the sinus pressure is still there, especially in my ears where the pressure is accompanied by sharp, shooting pains and swelling. The Q-tip that I used to clean my ears with this morning wouldn't even go in my left ear as smoothly as it went in the right one.

My mom kept trying to get me to let her put $10 in the bank this morning so that I could have some money to get something to eat with should I decide that I did not want what was in the fridge. As of 9 a.m. this morning, I only had $ .46 in my account. I kept telling her that it wasn't necessary and that I could wait until my PayPal transfer posted later in the week. After all, between the headache and the earache, I don't even want to see food, let alone eat it. It wasn't until she reminded me that Veteran's Day is tomorrow and that the banks would be closed--since when does a federal holiday fall on a Tuesday--that I finally relented. Unless I wake up tomorrow and find that the pain disappeared while I was in the middle of a R.E.M. cycle, I doubt that I will actually drive somewhere and use it, but, hey, at least it's there.

I think what I need worse than a combo meal from Burger King is a round of antibiotics. However, given my history with antibiotics--I once spent six weeks in ICU with pseudomembranous/antibiotic-associated colitis from taking amoxicillin--I highly doubt that any doctor or physician's assistant will give me that round. They'll just tell me what they always tell me; I need to let my immune system handle it. The problem is my ears have been like this on and off again for months now. Obviously, my immune system doesn't know how to handle it, but I doubt anyone at Urgent Care will believe me.

I guess that means I'm going to have to spend some quality time on the Internet, seeing if there's some great homeopathic remedy out there that I haven't tried. If you're reading this post and know of one, please leave a comment and let me know what it is. Right now, Similason's Homeopathic Earache Relief and Claritin D 12 Hour are doing very little to alleviate my sinus misery, and I'm actually considering using the dogs' Zymox in my ear. If it works for Bella and Bailey, I don't know why it can't work for me.
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