Monday, March 23, 2009

O is for Oxygen

I know I kind of dropped off the radar last week. It was a very frustrating week. I was wrangling with Paypal, Quickbooks Pro, too tight sock edges, losing instructions for sock heels, finding them but not understanding them. Teeth-clenching week. ETA: Started this post on March 23rd. The wrangling continued. I do this to myself every year. I wait until about a week before I need to hand it in, then I tackle 12 months worth of receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, check registers. sigh. Every time, I tell myself, "NO MORE! Next year, month by month. Here it's April and I haven't done a thing with this year's mess! But last year's mess is now my accountant's problem. I enter everything, print it all and pay him to sort it out!

Breathe..... breathing's good.

Going back to Basic Training today. Let's see...
covered Reception, Shock Treatment, PT, Drill Sgt. shenanigans, Chow Halls, Firing Ranges/M-60 machine guns and the occasional, errant hand grenade.

Today we'll go to the gas chamber. Good times!

We all get issued gas masks and get training on the proper usage of gas masks, hazmet suits, Atropene injections. We get taught the symbol for alerting your fellow soldiers about impending gas attacks - put your arms straight out to your sides, shoulder height. Pump your fists to your shoulders and straight again, 3 times, while yelling, "GAS, GAS, GAS". If the gas is too close, do the fist pumping thing without yelling then throw your mask on.

You have about 3 milliseconds to give the symbol and throw on your mask before you're gassed. Actually, if I remember right, you had 10 seconds to do this:

Close eyes and hold breath
With closed eyes and held breath, get mask out of it's holder on your hip
With closed eyes and held breath, get mask on
With closed eyes and held breath, tighten mask and make sure seal is tight
Open eyes and breathe

The main problem here is that to make sure the seal is tight, you have to breathe. You breathe in and out and the circles in front of your mask are supposed to move with your breathing. (or not move? I can't remember. I think they're supposed to move) If you're seal isn't tight and you're breathing to check? Yea, you die.

If your mask isn't sealed tight, the lenses of the gas mask fog up somethin' fierce. Also, getting a tight seal without a male's military buzzed hair cut is fairly impossible. And forget about seeing, if, like me, you wear glasses. The gas mask will rip them off your face while you're putting it on and it wouldn't seal properly with them on anyway.

I have to say that, aside from landmine training, the gas training was, for me, the scariest. Forget the fact that long hair and blind without glasses means you can just hand me the Atropene injectors and let me die a hopefully-too-stoned-to-feel-the-agony-of-getting-gassed death. Yea, forget that, the real reason you can just Atropene me is that those masks gave me the hyperventilating, rather stick my hand in a running blender then put the mask on, heebie-jeebies. I've never been claustrophobic, but those masks made me feel unable to breathe which always made me panicky.

After all the training, we get to experience the gas chamber. They use a version of strong pepper spray. Think law-enforcement grade mace. We went into the chamber about ten at a time. We had to stand in lines of 5, one line in front, one in back. Even as you enter the gas chamber, you know you're in for it (not that the name "gas chamber" wasn't a hint). The small concrete room was already filled with a thick fog of gas. We were told to remove our gas masks and then put them back on and reseal them. Here's where the fun starts.

As I mentioned, these things don't seal too well with a bunch of hair, which we all had. People were already coughing and whinging.

Our next orders were to take off our gas mask and take a deep breath. Wha-Wha-WHAT?! Yea. They want us to get a full dose of the mace so we can experience the effects of the least painful gas that is out there in this cruel world. Of course, the DS's kept their seemingly custom-fitted masks on. They were going to be in the gas chamber most of the day, so they didn't ever take them off.

Did I say the fun started? Oops! This is where the fun started. Mainly because in my group, one soldier completely lost her mind. This soldier attacked DS McCoy and ripped off DS's mask and put it on her own head. DS McCoy got a full dose of gas before she got her mask back. But, as punishment, that soldier had to stay in the gas chamber, unmasked for several minutes.

The rest of us, once we got our dose (of about 30 lifelong seconds) got to file out one by one. Tiny was in front of me and DS Ski (one of the biggest guys in the world) was being funny and blocking her way. Tiny, this little 96 pounder, knocked his ass into the wall to get past him and out of the fog of choking, burning mace. He tried to block me, too, but I faked left, weaved right and squirted out past him. I totally juked him! HAH!

So we get out alive but wishing we were dead. If you've never been maced, I suggest avoiding it at all costs. As you leave the gas chamber, the Drills order you to keep your hands straight out from your body to keep you from clawing your own eyes out. They don't say it's to keep you from blinding yourself, but it does sort of come to mind naturally. Yes, clawing at your eyes seems, suddenly, like a really great idea. You want to claw your eyes out and you also realize that every orifice in your head that is able to is leaking uncontrollably. To make things even more pleasant, they take your picture as you're leaving the gas chamber. Think I'm kidding?.....

Excuse the quality of the photo, it's a photo of a photo. I have the "yearbook" they let you buy after Basic Training and yesterday I took photos of the photos with me in them from the book. We don't have a flat bed scanner.

Anyway, see how I'm holding my arm out? I remember thinking, "NO! Don't take my picture now! I have snot!" So that's a pic of me trying to block the photographer from pic'ing me. You can't tell from this pic, but yes, I had snot rolling with wild abandon from my nose all over my face. If you try to wipe away the snot, you just spread the mace all over your face again. I think you can tell from this pic that I'm coughing. You cough like you're trying to lose a lung.

There's a station where you go to flush water over you face but no matter how much you attempt a dry-land drowning, it doesn't seem to help. Only time helps the mace fade. Fade from your skin if not from your memory.

The next day at breakfast, Kirsten (who's usually quite fastidious) stuck her fingers in her food and started swirling her hand around. No talking allowed during meals, remember, so I whispered, "Kirsten, are you OK?" She said, "Yea, it's just these eggs need pepper and I'm pretty sure my skin still has some." Across the table, Amy spit-taked milk out her nose all over me and we all got in trouble for howling laughter. See? Good times!

This Military Monday is brought to you by the letter Wednesday, Ruth!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

N is for No

I've been hearing the word "no" a lot lately. I'm sure, in the past, I've mentioned that I am a small child. I don't do well with no.

I tried to list my DeStash on the Ravelry ISO/DeStash group and my thread was closed. Why? Because I have an Etsy store. I was told that the group was only for people who didn't have an Etsy Store, Ebay Store, or website where they could, potentially, sell their yarn. I protested saying, "You're telling me I can't list because I just happen to have an Etsy store?? That store is strictly for my Stitch Savers." She said I couldn't list. She said if she made an exception for one, she'd have to make an exception for the 7500 others that are in the group. I pointed out that the yarn was my personal yarn and the Etsy store was my business store. I also said that out of the 7500, how many did she think had "websites" that were also blogs and how many had mentioned their destash on their blogs? I told her I wasn't asking for an exception to the rules but that maybe the rules should be rethought? She said they were constantly being rethought and that's how they came to their current status.


So now what do I do?? It never occurred to me to use my Etsy store to sell my stash. I still don't want to as I don't want to have to A) list it all (it took me over a week to list it all on Rav!) and B) I don't want to have to pay fees to sell my stash which is already listed at half of retail on Rav. Maybe I'll put up one of those fake listings on Etsy and just link to Rav? Do y'all have any suggestions? Maybe y'all can help spread the word? The link is here. Also, if the page doesn't load for you, hit the search button and, although it won't be alphabetical, you can see all the pic's!

So, yesterday, I go to the drive-thru of my bank (Wells Fucko) and give them checks worth $5495. The big $5K check was my latest placement/commission check with my "real" job as a headhunter. The teller told me she couldn't deposit that one because it was made out to my company and that company wasn't on my biz account. My biz acct is My Corporation Name dba My Biz. I said, "That's not true, see, because I've been through this three times with this bank already!" I was reaching for my glove box where I keep my dba paperwork, just for this occasion. Then I realized I wasn't in the van where that glove box is located, I was in our car. I told her I was coming inside. I went in and ripped into the manager and he pawned me off onto a bank associate who did some useless frittering around on a computer only to tell me that, in fact, they hadn't solved the problem any of the three times I'd already been through this. Then he tells me he's not a business banker and doesn't have anything to do with the business accounts. I asked why the manager had him helping me then? Was he just getting rid of the crazy mad lady so he didn't have to deal with it?? So I got another big fat "no" and had to leave the bank with a lot of signed, undeposited checks. We can't really change banks either. We have Dave's biz acct, our joint acct, my personal acct, my biz acct and the boys' savings acct's there.

I'm going back today to make them fix the problem (again) and I'm having the manager of the bank do it.

All right, technically it's only 2 "no"s but they were/are frustrating enough to feel like more.

Looking for a yes, Ruth!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

M is for Magic

Have I shown y'all my Magic Swatch?

It's Trendsetter Kashmir (74% cashmere, 25% silk) in a lovely Garnet color. I got 5 skeins at 50% off at an LYS and, later, another 6 skeins (at the same LYS) at 75% off! It's supposed to get 16sts = 4" on US 9. I can't make it work! My swatch goes from a US 9, to 8, to 7, to 10, to 10.5. I've had 3 different people measure it and the 9,


and 10.5
measure almost exactly the same! And it measure to 19sts = 4". sigh. I even washed/blocked the damn thing! I have a very specific sweater in mind for this and I thought I would just go up a size and go for it - even bought 3 more skeins off Ravelry for it. But I don't think I'll have enough and I just have to try to figure out how to get proper gauge.
I'm going to pull out the swatch and try again and see if I can't loosen up my stitching and start with a 10.5. It's very sad.

In happier news...
Another bit of Magic in my life lately....
Someone, somewhere in the Universe seems to have a pushed a button that said, "Hey, look over there - what's that?" I say this because in the past 2 weeks, I've had 7 new LYS's make wholesale inquires and subsequent orders for my Stitch Savers. SEVEN!! So, to whoever (whomever?) pushed that button - Thanks!

I have also been selected as a vendor for the upcoming Sock Summit! In order to raise money for the trip and the amount of Stitch Savers I'm planning on making/taking, I'm having a sale in my Etsy store! Buy 4 or more Stitch Savers and you get free shipping. Buy 5 or more and you get free shipping and a free Customized one! And if you're going to be at the Sock Summit, be sure to say hi!

And, in the interest of raising Sock Summit money, I have finally organized my DeStash page on Ravelry! It's here. If the page won't load for you, hit the search button (the one with the wee binocular graphic). The yarn won't be alphabetized but you'll be able to see all the pic's. My computer and the computers of others have had problems with this. Seems my stash page loads, but only through the letter K yarns. It's really weird because my regular stash page loads just fine and it has twice as many yarns! My spiel for my destash is this: Buy 5 skeins or more (mix/match) and you'll get free shipping (in the Continental US). Buy 10 skeins or more (mix/match) and you'll get a free Basic Stitch Saver! Happy shopping!

M is also for Mountains. We took a mini-vacation this week to Breckenridge. We had a great time! There was a lake-of-puke incident that actually turned out quite funny.

It was our first night there (Monday night) and at about 11p, D2 hollered for me. I thought he woke up and didn't know where he was. I went out to the living room to comfort him and when I turned on the light, I just sighed. He and T were sharing the hide-a-bed and between them was a lake of puke. The funny thing was that T didn't even wake up! He was all snuggled up to the puke and didn't even stir! Dave was trying to pull him out of the bed and he was trying to roll away from Dave and go back to sleep. So he was trying to roll into the puke! We were doing laundry at midnight and laughing about it! (Thankfully the suite had a washer/dryer and 2 free tiny boxes of detergent!)

Dave went snowboarding for the first time since our honeymoon 9 years ago! He used to snowboard quite a lot before we got married. And don't blame me, I would tell him to go with his buddy like he used to but he'd always say we didn't have the money for it - not true! He had a great time as did our friends Donna and Darren who met us up there. We had great food and great times. On Wednesday, our last day, we took the kids to a sledding area and went sledding for two hours. It was such a blast!!

I also got a Magical package from the Cocoa Swap I was in!

I'm not a fan of purple, yellow or orange and the yarn my swap partner sent me has all three. It's lovely! I love it! It's like a sunset in a skein. And it's Malabrigo sock yarn - splee!


She also made me a wee felted bird - so sweet!

And there's chocolate and hot chocolate and Chibi's! Thanks Emily, I love it all!
Sipping hot chocolate, Ruth!

L is for Loyalty

Are there brands of things you just can't do without? Things where there's just no substitute that will make you happy?

I'm all about thrift stores and generic products. If I go into a Gap or some other name store, I make a beeline for the sale racks.

There are a few products, however, where I will NOT skimp.

Q-tips - Every time I try generics on these, I always end up with a stick in my ear. Or an ear full of fuzz because the cotton isn't wrapped tight enough.

Neutrogena sesame oil - I use this lovely stuff every time after I shower. I just keep a big bottle in the shower and after I turn off the water, I use a quarter-sized squirt for my upper body and another for my lower body before I towel off. I'm never itchy from too-dry skin and I smell delicious! I can make a big bottle last for nearly a year!

Puffs Ultra - I blow my nose a lot. A lot! Forget about being sick, I blow my nose about 6 times a day on an average day. A few times in the morning and a few times before bed. I don't think I've ever breathed through both nostrils at the same time. Ever. I also have a very specific way I use the tissue. I blow my nose at least 4 times per tissue. (My friend is trying to get me to use a neti pot. I used to have one but got rid of it as I couldn't figure it out successfully.) If it's anything less then Puffs, I blow a hole in the tissue and that just grosses me out and pisses me off. If it's any other kind, I grab two and layer them. And I refuse to say "Kleenex", they are tissues. I don't want to give free advertising to a product I don't even use. Yea, I know. It's a stupid, anal-retentive (does that have a hyphen?) quirk. But it's gotta be Puffs and it's gotta be Puffs With Lotion or Puffs Ultra. When I got sick last week (finally feelin' better, btw!), I sent Dave out for tissues and he came home with the regular Puffs. I had to go back out the next day with a Rudolph-red nose and get Puffs Ultra. The skin under my nose is still recovering!

Delsym cough medicine - our pediatrician in Tucson turned us on to this over-the-counter stuff. It works wonderfully and while it's crazy expensive and doesn't last the full 12 hours it claims on its label, it comes close!

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese - the generics are always just gross. Not that box M-n-C is all that great but it is comfort food! Same with Campbell's soups and Claussen pickles. I can do generic cereal and many other generic foods but some just don't work well in the taste category!

When the new Costco opened here in Parker, they gave out books of super-good coupons (free rotisserie chicken and such!). But the fine print said it was only good for new customers. I had a little chat with the manager and I got to use those coupons. I hate when companies offer these great rewards for new customers but not to customers who have been loyal to the company for over 10 years! If I'm loyal to them, I expect them to be loyal to me.

How 'bout you guys? Anything you won't except substitutes for?

Reaching for a tissue, Ruth!