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Book reviews

July 9th, 2014 (09:49 am)

A while back I started a separate blog for my book reviews and book/writing-related ramblings. LJ is going to stay my place to personally chat and also squee about my Asian drama obsession (and sometimes manga/anime) but I thought I'd try to get slightly more focused by separating the book topic.

So if any of you are interested, my other blog: Sparks of Ember - ta-da!!

ladysaotome [userpic]

Happy Independence Day, USA!!

July 4th, 2014 (12:18 pm)

I'm a military brat so maybe that's why I'm highly opinionated in politics but also incredibly patriotic. I still to this day think movie theaters should always start each movie with the national anthem playing, like they do on military bases. Anyway, I took Munckin to see Tops In Blue perform Wednesday night. I haven't had the chance to see them in years but I grew up watching their performance annually - one time on the actual 4th of July and just as they were ending the show with patriotic songs, fireworks started going off across the bay *sigh*. I realized as we were watching that I want to make sure Munchkin grows up with the same strong feeling of patriotism I was raised with. Watching movies like Tora, Tora, Tora and The Great Escape and The Bridge On The River Kwai, etc. And an appreciation of her grandpa's and great-grandpa's and uncles who have fought and suffered for their families and this country. It's in her blood and I don't want her to forget it!




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Prosopagnosia

June 21st, 2014 (01:01 pm)

So recently, one of the big jdramas playing was Rich Man, Poor Woman with Oguri Shun & Ishihara Satomi. One of the key plot points in the drama was that the main character was supposed to have Prosopagnosia - face blindness. I felt it was one of those plot points they make a big deal of while it's convenient and then conveniently forget about once it's no longer useful to the story. Anyway, I recently read an article interviewing a man I know from one of my writing groups. It's about his life with prosopagnosia and I thought it was interesting and had to share. Here's the article.

ladysaotome [userpic]

(no subject)

June 16th, 2014 (11:03 am)

I promise, I'm usually not a complainer, so I apologize my posts have been so whiney lately. I plan to start posting normal/fun stuff soon. Finish my Rolling Love recap and probably do a Just You recap as I'm rediscovering my love for twdramas lately. But that being said, I thought I should update everyone on our never-ending house saga. ;)

House stuff...Collapse )

On a personal news front, Hubby and I attended a Susan Barton Dyslexia seminar. It was fascinating! We learned so much but also confirmed that Munchkin is much more severely dyslexic than we had hoped. Apparently, the earlier they catch it, the more severe it usually is. Most kids are able to fake their way through school till about 3rd grade so the fact we caught her's in Kindergarten is an indication how severe it is. We are also frustrated now at Munchkin's lack of progress is school. She is starting 4th grade next year. And her reading level is mid-1st-grade. She started 3rd grade at beginning-1st-grade level so she progressed about half a grades worth in one school year. The Barton Dyslexia curriculum promises pretty steady improvement but it is expensive. $200-$300 per level and there are 12 levels, although from what I understand most people don't pursue past level 4. That's all they need to give them the tools to be able to progress further on their own. My in-laws think we should try to get the school to buy the curriculum but I don't know how much of a chance we have with that. I'd also like to work on Munchkin's math so I'm thinking we may just pony up the cash and start teaching her at home over the summer and see how much improvement we get before school starts.

Oh - my biggest and best news is - I got a kitty!! I am such a huge cat person but haven't had one in years. I had the fattest, sweetest cat back when Hubby and I first got married. But when we moved out west I had to give him away and it broke my heart to do. Now that we have a permanent house, we've promised Munchkin a dog and I get a kitty. We're still looking for a puppy for her - we're thinking golden retriever or black lab or some such. Something that doesn't require too big a yard or love to run all the time, that would also be gentle with Munchkin as she loves dogs but is also timid around them, and wouldn't try to eat my cat. ;) Shelters are expensive, too! I was astounded when we started looking and they are wanting $80-$200 per dog, plus we'd still have to get them spayed/neutered and shots. But a friend of my boss had a cat with kittens so we got one for free last Wednesday.

Everyone, meet Cali! (Short for calico. And I googled it and she's not a calico, she's a Torbie, but we don't care. lol) She's about 10 weeks old and the prettiest kitty on the planet. ;)

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I absolutely adore her. She spent 2 hours last night, napping on the back of the couch with her front half draped around my neck, purring every now and then as she stirred. And the best part is Hubby is smitten, too. He's always been reluctant about getting a cat and he gets frustrated when she doesn't want to play or cuddle when he wants (which is why he is more of a dog person). But he just loves how pretty she is, how cute she is and how she purrs ALL THE TIME :D - he's even brought her in our bedroom to sleep on our bed and his biggest rule before the cat came home was our bedroom had to be offlimits. Wow! lol She follows me everywhere - sleeping under the desk when I'm on the computer, on the couch when I am reading or watching tv, crawling under the blankets and sheets to sleep against my knees at night. (I'm always afraid she's going to suffocate herself! lol)

ladysaotome [userpic]

Semi-update

February 11th, 2014 (01:58 pm)
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Well, they are done and we're not sure how we feel about it. We're also really confused cause I don't understand everything that happened.

So they were supposed to work on the sewer line Thursday. (It was frigid, a high of 4 degrees.) My husband swung by the house after checking out of the hotel around 10:45 to see if they were there & they were already at work digging up the yard with their backhoe. He asked if they needed anything and they asked him to unlock the basement door in case they needed to get to the utility room for anything. Then we didn't hear from them the rest of the day until I was just leaving work at 5:05. The Sewer Excavator Guy called and I thought he was calling to see if I could come over. But he was calling to tell me they didn't finish after all - that they needed to get different fittings. I asked if the camera had been run yet & he said not yet as the Camera/Draincleaner guy couldn't come until Friday also. He was mostly calling to let us know to go lock the basement door.

So right off the bat I'm wondering if they really didn't finish because of fittings or because they were waiting for the camera and because of the extreme cold. So I went by and locked the door. A ditch was dug from about 5ft from the house (about where they had stopped the last time) to a few feet from the street (just short of the red painted stripes showing where the power lines are). A long piece of Schedule 40 pipe was laid alongside the hole, propped against the backhoe which was straddling the ditch.





Then today we don't hear anything again. My husband avoided going by the house because he didn't want them to feel like we were checking up on them. (silly of him) I swung by the house on my way to work at 8am and unlocked the door, texted the Ditch guy & told him but didn't hear back. Then he calls me about 3pm and asks if I can run up to talk.

I get there and the backhoe is just finishing up piling the dirt back over the former ditch. It's in piles because of the cold, the ditch guy says it is too frozen to clean up nicely and it'll just have to settle in the spring.

He tells me that the line didn't belly after all. That the camera/draincleaner guy just thought it bellied because there was so much water in the line. That there was a spot with a series of fittings and a small curve about 20 feet out that was solidly packed with dirt/gravel. He said it was all from the earlier break that was repaired - that during the previous break, there had been so much gravel washed down the line that it had created a second clog that they hadn't known about at the time.



So there was the previous spot coming out of the house which was repaired, then a long stretch of pipe, then the clog, then more pipe running under the power lines, under the road to the main. They re-used the long stretch of pipe because it was fine and dandy, schedule 40 pipe which he likes, very clean, etc. They just replaced the clogged chunk.

At some point (I'm really not clear when) the camera/draincleaner guy cleaned the pipes. He got supposedly 125 feet out cleaning which is a mystery to them as supposedly the city main starts about 20 feet out from where they were. But his camera is broken from when he came the other day and it slammed into our clog of gravel. He actually left today to head to Denver and fix his camera. So he couldn't use the gps feature to find exactly where the line was under the road.

Sewer Excavator Guy kept saying camera/draincleaner guy didn't come today cause he had to go repair his camera. And he said he held off having him come yesterday since they were having issues with the fittings. So I'm a little confused when did he run 125 feet of line to clean if he didn't come? Or he did come, then left, then didn't come back?

So since camera/cleaner couldn't come Friday, the contractor/digger guy ran a hose with some kind of sewer nozzle. He ran the hose 50 feet out to make sure there was no gravel left in the pipe. When he pointed a light into the pipe (the piece poking out from under the power line where they were about to replace clogged section) he could see two spots where it wasn't perfectly straight - where the line was offset a tiny bit. But he says it was offset with the further piece slightly below the closer piece and since water runs on the bottom, we should be fine and not to worry. He also never felt his hose hit the city main line which he thinks is odd. But without a camera, there's no way they can determine anything for sure. According to the city, the city main is 20 feet out. But he never felt it so he's not sure what is going on.

So because of the two off-sync parts of the pipes & the fact that they aren't sure where the city main line is, he recommends having camera/draincleaner guy back out in the spring/summer just to have a look and make sure everything is A-OK.

My husband and I just don't know what to think at this point.

For one, if this clog was part of the original problem, then shouldn't they have run the hose the first time and caught the problem then? Should we have to pay for this when we already paid once? Or at least, should we expect a discount - no transportation fees and so on? (We don't know what the bill will be - he quoted us $1500-1700 on Tuesday when we first discussed this. Which is how much we paid last time. But that was when we thought the line bellied, not that it was more clog from the earlier disconnect.)

Two, this whole part about "the pipes not being seamless when he shines a light down them, but not to worry, but have it checked out in the summer". And the city sewer line they aren't sure is where it is supposed to be. How should we feel about this? We wanted peace of mind and to know 100% no more problems and I don't feel like we were given that. But at the same time, if this guy was trying to give us the run-around, he wouldn't have told us all of this in the first place.

So not feeling like we can just relax, not worry, resume life as normal & just mark on our calendar to have a camera run in a few months. I'm trying to talk to the City Public Works Director who came out to watch and took some pictures of his own. (Is that normal or just one of the things that comes with being in such a small town?) He worked for 12 years with a different sewer-excavator crew so he should know his stuff and hopefully be able to make recommendations. I left a voice mail yesterday, tried calling today and got voice mail again and didn't want to leave a message two days in a row. We're still waiting for a bill and pictures from Sewer Excavator Guy - last time he dropped them off the very next day but nothing so far this time. But it's only been a few days, maybe he was just really fast that time. Or maybe he's decided not to bill us at all... I posted the whole saga on a plumbing forum and someone there recommended getting a different camera guy asap. We probably will soon as I manage to get ahold of the city guy. If we even have another camera guy around here.

ladysaotome [userpic]

"You From Another Star" owns me

February 6th, 2014 (10:31 am)

Can I just say I squealed/screamed like a giddy schoolgirl over the first 5 minutes of YFAS, episode 14. And pretty much had the same reaction when they replayed that scene later.

Such. A. Good. Drama!!!!

ladysaotome [userpic]

(no subject)

February 4th, 2014 (02:46 pm)

Camera can only get about 10 ft across the yard before he can't get it any farther. The entire line that he can cover is a disaster so he assumes the rest of it will be also - basically everything that hasn't been replaced needs to be.

We are waiting to hear from the contractor. He said he is trying to get a hold of camera guy for one last piece of info but he plans to come out tonight to take a look and then will let us know the plan.

Our state farm agent is pretty sure we won't be covered since it is considered "maintenance" and no pipes have blown in the house to make a mess. However, he is researching as we are pretty much displaced at this point so that should count for something.

We are trying to get a hold of the city & find out at what point does it become their responsibility. If they have to dig up the road, is that on us or them, etc. My research online says that such things vary city to city. While we are at it, we want to find out who did the original sewer line so we can make sure to never, ever use him for anything.

We are looking into financing at this point. Plus we still have to figure out housing options. But it depends on what the contractor tells us is the time frame. Of course, this all has to happen in the middle of a freeze. We won't see double digits until Friday.

----
ETA:
Ok, Just spoke with contractor and got the 411. The line dips about 10 feet out (so just past what was replaced) and then comes up about 20 feet out and that's as far as he can get the camera. They will come replace the line on Thursday. He thinks they can get it all in one day. Replace everything left from the previous sewer line up to the line off the city sewer that the developer put in. That part should be fine since it's presumably a different guys work but just to be sure, he will have the camera guy run the rest of the way under the street to the city sewer part. He is still talking to the city to get drawings and names and find out when the city takes over and so on. But he assumes the rule is probably similar to Rapid City and that the entire line up to the City Main Sewer is our responsibility.

He also decided $1500-1700ish as long as they don't have to go under the street. Plus we'll probably have to pay another $350 to the camera guy. That guy is sure getting his monies-worth from us!
So next two nights in a hotel. Laundromat again tonight. But looking a lot better. Praying the street is not involved at all because then repairs go from $1700 to thousands upon thousands.

ladysaotome [userpic]

The saga continues!

February 4th, 2014 (09:40 am)
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So we had a contractor come out, he dug up where the dead-end in the sewer line was and found a buried clean-out and that the sewer line had separated from the house as the dirt settled. He replaced everything and installed a new clean-out up top. He said the pipes weren't glued properly before and that he assumed the rest of the line out to the street would be the same but that it was all downhill to the street and properly pea-graveled and that we should be fine.

Everything has been fine since. And then Thursday morning (the 30th), the back-to-back toilets clogged. Hubby was home alone getting ready for work. Bath, toilet and clogged. He plunged repeatedly but couldn't get them to work. Part of the trouble is when you plunge one, the water in the other seems to move, too. So we called the camera-drain-cleaners and arranged for them to come out Friday morning. I did some googling at work and when I got home that evening, I put some Dawn dishsoap down the two toilets, let them sit about 15 minutes and then poured a bucket of barely-warm water in the toilets and they both flushed fine. We thought it was probably due to the flushable wipes my husband has been addicted to using and he finally agreed, no more using them. (they were Cottonelle brand which Consumer Reports says do break up after several hours.) So I canceled the camera/drain guy.

Saturday morning the doorbell rings and it's the ditch/sewer contractor. He'd heard from the drain guy and was in the neighborhood so he wanted to check in. He was concerned it might be the sewer line, farther down where he didn't check. I told him our theory about the wipes and he agreed that we should discontinue their use and told us to let him know if we have any further issues. I thought that was pretty kind of him.

Then Sunday morning the toilets clogged again. Plunging didn't fix anything. Pouring warm water and dishsoap didn't fix anything. A friend of ours mentioned there may be a problem where the two toilets connect so I went to town and bought a toilet-auger. (Like if they used a T-connection instead of a Y-connection or something.) I could only find the 3-ft kind of toilet auger which I'm not sure would be long enough but I had to get something. When I got home I tried the buckets again and the toilets seem to be flushing just fine again so I never used it.

But then I was paranoid. What if the line was partially broken further down after all and the reason the toilets suddenly magically clear is the water dissipating outside? We debated calling the camera guy to check the lines to be on the safe side? It's over $200 for him to come out but maybe we should spend it for peace of mind? The 3rd toilet upstairs seems to work when the two are clogged but maybe that's just because it's on the other end of the house and we never use it so it's pipes aren't full?

So I called the contractor yesterday morning and he advised we open up the clean-out, stick a hose about half-way down, and run it while using a flashlight to peer down and see if everything drains properly or starts to backup. He said that'd at least help us narrow things down to problem inside vs outside. He was actually planning to do that when he came out Saturday but hadn't mentioned it as we thought everything was fine.

Anyway, we weren't much looking forward to the hose thing since it was about 16 degrees outside at the time. So we were debating filling both tubs & draining while we looked down the clean-out. Thankfully, the drain cleaner guy called before we had done anything. He advised against the tub idea & said to pull the clean-out cap and take a peek - that he suspected the pipes might be filled to bursting and he was afraid the tub thing would be the straw to break the camels back. So we went out & pulled the cap off... Water filled it almost to the top. :( <

So we spent another night in a hotel. And both drain/camera guy & sewer contractor are coming out in about an hour to run the camera & determine the next course of action. I bet Contractor guy is really wishing he's done the hose thing Saturday when we were warm. Today's high is 4 degrees. Tomorrow is even colder. I don't envy them. And I don't think we can keep staying at a hotel night after night. But sleeping at the house and making potty runs at 4am doesn't sound fun either...</span>

ladysaotome [userpic]

HYD "remake"

January 30th, 2014 (09:05 pm)

Somehow, in the midst of the move and my drastic reduction in internet time, I almost missed something amazingly hilarious.  See, several months ago there were rumors, and even reported casting, of an American version of HYD.  Everything I heard about it sounded like a train-wreck. To the point where I never thought it would get off the ground. But, guess what?


It did!

And it's seriously as bad as expected. Possibly even worse. They recast the lead actress halfway through the 2nd episode - Domyouji kidnaps her for the makeover scene  - and viola! - different face. ROFL

And then both leads were fired for controversial reasons and are set to be replaced on the 5th episode. And the explanation for the new faces is that the two fell off a balcony during a fight and were so badly disfigured that their reconstructive surgery has resulted in them looking like two totally different people. Bahahaha

So - if you're in the mood for some torture, you can watch Boys Before Friends over on Viki.  Or you can read the hilarious SnarkCaps (complete with animated gifs) over here.

ladysaotome [userpic]

The new house is becoming a saga!

January 15th, 2014 (12:14 pm)
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Argh!!!! I just lost my draft that I've been working on for half an hour or so! Grr!! It was a saga, I tell you! But I don't want to retype all that right now, maybe later. So now this update will be a lot shorter.

To make a long story short, we learned yesterday that our brand new house that we've only spent three nights in has a collapsed sewer line about 5 feet out (so our problem, not the city's). The contractor says he sees this often on houses that were a modular home placed on a basement. Whoever does the sewer line doesn't plan for the weight of the house as it settles and so the pipes outside slowly bend and collapse. He can't come fix it until Friday. And we have to scrounge up the money somehow.

So we spent the first night at the house but made potty runs to our old apartment, last night at a Super 8 and the next few nights we will be staying at a friend's B&B. They are out of town (they have that sick granddaughter with Aplastic Anemia that used to babysit Munchkin - she had a bone-marrow transplant Oct 31st and is doing great, btw!) but will let us have a room for $45 a night. So very kind of them.

We also have to get the last bit of our stuff out of our apartment tonight (and clean it) and I have no clothes for work tomorrow so it's the laundromat to wash, the house to dry, the apartment to clean - a busy, busy night. Yay!

Hubby has been clinging to 1 Corinthians 10:13 "No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it."

Myself, I'm clinging to Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

My dad suggested James 1:2 "Count it all joy" - Thanks, Dad. ;P

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