Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cleaning my car

For the first time since I got my Ford Focus last year, I decided to clean it. Don't get me wrong - I take out the trash every once in a while that I've thrown behind the driver's seat, but it was time for a vacuum and wipe-down.

Since the car didn't come with any rugs and I've been too cheap and too lazy to go find some that fit my car, all the dirt from this past winter has gathered near and under the front seats. I thoroughly vacuumed all the floors.

Then came the more difficult project - finding out what would get the tree sap off my hood and windshield. I knew taking the car to a regular car wash wouldn't work since Albie tried this last week and the tree sap on his car is still intact. In fact, it may be even more stuck to the car than before.

I started with a regular household cleaner. It worked well on the window, but didn't get much of the gooey stuff off. Next was dishwashing soap and water - while scrubbing with a soft sponge. This got part of the spots on the hood off, but it took too much scrubbing to even make a little difference, so I gave up.

After consulting the wonderful internet, I found out that nail polish remover should work quite well. So, there I was, scrubbing my windshield inch by inch with tiny cotton swabs drenched in nail polish remover... it was quite amazing to see the nasty goo disappear. As I was done and announced to Albie that I finally found something that worked, all he had to say was, "Great! Wanna do my car now?"

The answer, of course, depends on what happens tomorrow. If he is a nice husband, perhaps I will help him out with his car...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hanging out with daddy

More lunchroom photos

We are still working on a few things, like getting a new refrigerator, getting the old wall a/c unit removed and getting some actual furniture in there like a couch and some coffee tables... plus, I want some more lighting so people will STOP turning on the stupid florescents!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lunchroom makeover

In the process of being painted... more about this to follow.

Two lamps - the table with the built-in lamp
was $8 at the thrift store. The other lamp
I had at home, but I bought the shade for $2.

Update on the office situation

So we decided to use the air conditioning at work last week despite the leaks. We put up buckets everywhere, until one evening.... one of the ceiling tiles came crashing down right on my neighbor's desk - it had filled up with water above it, and everything was now soaked.
Thank goodness it will be a bit cooler this week, because I don't know how much longer I could stand working in the heat!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hanging out with the cousins we did end up hanging out with other people after all!

A day without the internet

Not having internet for a whole day is very frustrating, especially when I know I’ve got pumpkins to harvest that will go bad in a few hours. I was also supposed to post news stories to Twitter this morning for work, and send out some e-mails about an upcoming farm party. But I’m not able to do any of that, because we cannot get online.

As I sat down at my computer to try to get some writing done, I also realized that Albie has stolen my mouse. He brought it down to the basement with some other computer stuff to see if he could get the cable modem to work without using the wireless connection. So right now I’m sitting here hitting the arrow keys, the tab key and the enter key to see how much I can get done. What on earth did people do in a mouse-less society?

What did people do before the internet, for that matter? Although I remember the early days of my childhood when we didn’t have computers, I cannot imagine living without them at this point in my life.

Oh well, I guess I will have to go watch TV or something. Or maybe I’ll go hang out with some other people. Nah, that’s just too much for a Monday afternoon. Television it is.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The joy of condo living

Some days, I just wish I lived in a house in the middle of the woods.

On Tuesday this week, the maintenance guys came to mow the lawn outside my bedroom window early in the morning. On Wednesday, it was the garbage truck that woke me up – the Dumpster is almost across the street from our unit, and they had to keep backing the truck back and forth to get it into position.

I don’t know what they were doing on Thursday, but it was loud, and it was way too early to even think about finding out what was going on.

By the time the gardeners came back to trim the hedges at 9 a.m. on Friday, I was so tired I didn’t know what to do with myself. I do work at night, after all, and I need my rest in the mornings.

I finally grabbed my pillow and comforter and waddled into the second bedroom, where I fell back asleep on the futon. It was much easier to ignore the teen neighbor’s music blaring through the walls than it was the “whirrrrr-weeeee-pause-whirrrr-weeeee” sound from the front of the house. I got a good two more hours in before the gardeners came to the back of our building and there was no more escaping any noise.

But now I would like to escape to a house in the woods, please, with no neighbors, no gardeners, no visitors, no roads… no airplanes overhead. Oh, and no delivery trucks or garbage men. Just a big, empty house with lots of silence.

A great work environment

It’s been hot for the past few days – really hot. Like in the 90s (30-35 degrees C). At the office, our air conditioning unit in the newsroom finally gave in this week.

First, it started as a trickle right next to my desk. Then there was a flood. For three days, we had wastebaskets covering the wettest spots.

We even had to wrap my neighbor's computer, monitor and keyboard in garbage bags to prevent damage (see photo above).

If we kept the A/C on, there was a constant trickle. If we turned the A/C off, it gushed down. So we left it on. The first time the fixer guys came, they said it was a compressor or something, so they replaced it. That afternoon it got even worse.

The repairmen came back and decided we need a new unit. That's $15,000 we can't afford to spend right now, our publisher said.

We spent the weekend trying to set up big fans all over the place that could blow the cool air in from other departments. One evening I even worked in another room because I had a terrible headache and the heat made me nauseated. But at least the dripping has stopped.

Thank goodness I’m not working today – the worst days out of all of them.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mental trip to Britain

I brought Enid Blyton’s “The Island of Adventure” with me to the hospital last month. I figured the easy-to-read children’s book would help pass the time without making me completely exhausted.

I was discharged before I made it to Chapter 4, but at least the book kept brought me to the rocky hillside of north Britain for a few hours. With sentences like “It was pleasant at tea time that day” and “It was really most extraordinary,” I almost start reading it with a British accent.

During my first few days home from the surgery, a friend dropped by a stack of books. “P.S. I Love You” by Cecelia Ahern immediately caught my attention, and it took me to Ireland for about a week, where people go to pubs and wear trainers and knickers and jumpers and sometimes have to go to hospital (without the “the,” which has always fascinated me – how can British English and American English be so different in some regards?).

Another book dropped into the mail a few days later from a friend in Sweden – “500 Reasons Why I Hate The Office.” It’s the perfect book to keep on my desk at work, of course, but after skimming through the first 65 pages or so, I realized it was just a bit too British for me. Perhaps it is that I don’t work in a regular office, per se, or maybe it was just the fact that I don’t have to deal with “client entertainment” or “office creeps” or “dress codes.” It was funny, though, to read about organisations (spelled with an “s” instead of a “z”) and “socialising (same thing) with colleagues.”

But it wasn’t until I picked up Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island,” – where he tours England one last time before moving back to the United States – that I realized all my recent books had centered around the British (well, and Irish). Bryson took me on a trip via motorways and Marks & Spencer to zebra crossings and Towcester (pronounced “toaster,” allegedly). And again, I am reminded how much I like his humor and self-loathing voice.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Addicted to FarmTown

Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog post about being addicted to the Facebook game Knighthood. I haven't played that much lately. Nowadays, I am into fake farming.

For those of you who have played Sims, I imagine FarmTown may be a bit familiar. You get a plot of land and then you start planting things. You can plow fields, buy trees, harvest crops and make some money to buy more things for your farm like flowers or a barn.

This, too, is a Facebook game. I got addicted thanks to a friend who visited me after the surgery and told me all about it.
"Sounds fun!" I said. "Invite me!"

As most of these games go, they are based on inviting as many of your Facebook friends as possible. The more of your friends who play, the more benefits you get. In FarmTown, for example, your friends are called neighbors, and once you have more than five neighbors you get access to faster plowing tools. If you have 10 neighbors, you can hire someone else to plow for you.

For now, I stick around the Marketplace and wait to get hired. If someone else lets me harvest their raspberries, tomatoes or pumpkins, I will make lots of money and may eventually be able to my myself a pond.

Meanwhile, Albie is busy downstairs playing his new Wii Zelda game that came in the mail yesterday. Ah, the joys of having a day off!

Friday, August 7, 2009

A terrible blogger

Ever since I went back to work last week, I've been a terrible blogger. I was so proud of myself in July, when I managed to post something almost every day. That probably won't happen again, even though it's my goal.

Today (Thursday) I had the day off from work and thought "Well, I'll FINALLY get some of that blogging going again!"

So what did I do? I went to a used bookstore, then met up with some friends for drinks. By the time I got home, chores were waiting and by the time I got done with them (with some help from the husband as soon as he got home), I was too tired to do anything.

Until now... a few hours later... when I got a second wind. Of course, I am still too tired to write about anything important. So I think this will be it for tonight. In conclusion, I am feeling a lot better. Stomach is a little sore at times, but energy levels are higher and most of the time I forget I'm supposed to feel anything but normal.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A trip to the aquarium

Small sea turtle.........................Suzy and her seal friends.

Penguin feeding...........................................Albie as a turtle.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The end of an era

It was the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one Saturday evening at The Register Citizen. The pressroom guys, with a combined 151 years of experience at our newspaper, worked their last night amid a crowd of melancholy onlookers.

Starting this evening, we are printing our daily newspaper at our sister publication in New Haven, and there will be no need for local pressroom guys or a local mailroom crew. That’s two whole departments shutting down – all in the same night.

No longer will we share a bathroom at 1 a.m. with the ladies from the mailroom – it will be empty. The lunchroom will be quiet after 5 p.m. – the rest of us will just eat at our desks. Al from the mailroom, the tallest man I’ve ever seen, will no longer come and ask if we have any obituaries.

We will have no more discussions of the Yankee or Red Sox games with Tom in the CTP room, who has been with the company for 33 years, as we wait for the last page to go through the plate-making machine. And never again will we run outside in a frenzy yelling “stop the presses” for a late-breaking news story. (Not that we did that often anyway, but it’s nice to have the option).

As the staff gathered on Saturday to see the paper printed one last time, old-timers and those who had the day off showed up for a burger and soda and to say a quick farewell.

“It’s family,” said Bill, a company veteran of almost 20 years. “How can you walk away from family, you know?”

Some will stay on for a few more weeks to take care of what’s left of the machines. But it was still hard for Steve, a 15-year veteran, and Peter, who pushed the buttons for the first issue of The Register Citizen 36 years ago, to say goodbye to everyone else, and to the printing press.

“I printed the first issue here in April 1973,” said the pressroom foreman as he pushed the two buttons to start up the press one final time. “Now I’m printing the last.”

Shutting down pressrooms is a common theme among newspapers today. To increase efficiency, printing facilities are combined or the products are outsourced. There just aren’t enough products to keep a printing crew busy in every town, and newer and better-equipped presses can print newspapers in half the time for much less money.

The Meriden Record-Journal, for example, shut down its press earlier this year, cutting 17 full-time jobs and dropping 28 part-time positions. Despite being printed in Springfield, Mass., they are expecting earlier delivery times and better color quality on their pages.

In The Register Citizen, the color pages are also expected to improve. Not only will the pages look better, but we will have more color positions a daily basis, sprucing up the look of the product. Getting the paper from New Haven to Torrington and out to subscribers is not expected to be a problem, and the newsroom will continue to do its best to provide readers with as much up-to-date information as possible.

So the finished product is supposed to remain the same, or perhaps a bit improved. But some things will be different. Several people we know and have worked with for many years will no longer be a part of what we do.

Donnie, who brought his daughter to watch the last press run, started at The Register Citizen 12 years ago. Mark, who delivered newspapers as a boy, later spent 27 years on the press. Jeff, who’s just worked here for about a year, and Kevin, with eight years behind him, are both hoping they will find something else to do. They all have families to support.

And the rest of us, the ones who remain, we just count ourselves lucky that people are still reading newspapers – whether it be online or at the breakfast table with their morning coffee. As long as people want to read what we have to offer, the advertisers will hopefully keep using us as a means to reach their consumers. And so life goes on for another few months, at least, at The Register Citizen in Torrington.