Latest projects

In addition to the garden and taking care of a horde of cats, I’m doing a web developer certificate programme. It is a year full of courses, finishing up next January. This semester is just 3 courses and in the fall there are six more to take (you’d think they could have divided them up a bit more evenly but the ones in the fall all require knowledge from these base three). Two of the courses are very interesting and useful. One focuses on coding javascript and the other teaches you how to use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web design programs.

Unfortunately all the classes assume you are using windows 7/xp and a lot of the programs we are using simply don’t function with any iteration so far of windows 8 –and you can’t even buy a computer that doesn’t run windows 8 any longer. The 7 vs 8 software issues are causing no end of of problems for those of us who would like to work on their class projects at home rather than in the lab on campus –it does not have user friendly hours.

I’m learning quite a lot though and am hoping to use the skills to good end in developing the D.A.R.A. site. I’ve gotten the sanctuary registered as a business (first step), gotten a tax id number for it (second step), registered it as a non-profit in Texas (3rd step) and am now slogging through the paperwork (seriously like 40 pages of stuff to fill out with innumerable addendums to write up and attach) to get IRS kosher non-profit status (4th step) at which point I have to fill out paperwork confirming to the state that the temporary non-profit status they’ve given should be converted over to real non-profit status (5th step). I’ve already got tax filings to do for it even though we aren’t off the ground yet because the state gave us non-profit status like 2 days before January 1st and the taxes are way more involved than individuals face (and the U.S. tax system is seriously messed up compared to the Israeli system for individuals). As soon as all that is done, I’ve got to start on the Israeli side of it. But it is all coming along, more slowly than I’d like, but getting there.

In another post I’ll talk about what I’m planning and hoping to do with DARA both in the U.S. and back home.

An absolutely gorgeous day

Although rain had been predicted for today, it has been beautifully sunny and unseasonably (that is to say in a lovely way) warm. 18 of the 22 lettuce seeds have sprouted in this great weather, along with 7 of the 8 tomato seeds. All of the lettuce is a kind of bibb-like variety called Buttercrunch and it is just about the most delicious lettuce I’ve ever had. It takes nearly 3 months to mature (longer than the seed packet claims) but it is very worth the wait.

I’ve got heirloom tomatoes started and so far we’ve got one Yellow Gooseberry candidate and two Italian D’Inverno up (both cherry in size, the latter a red that is supposed to produce until the first frost at which point you can cut the limbs still holding tomatoes and hang them up and pick fresh tomatoes from them through the winter months). Of the larger slicing size, two Break O’ Day red tomao sprouts are up and two Golden Jubilee. I know we’ve got room for 8 plants around and about the yard and am hoping to find places for a full 12. You simply cannot have too many tomatoes unless they are the expensive and completely tasteless things you can get at the grocery store here.

This morning I also planted 15 more arugula seeds and two kinds of heirloom bell pappers; 3 Albino Bullnose and 3 Charleston Belles. I’ve got to wait until next week when I get some more medim-sized starter pots to round that up to a total of 10 bell pepper plants and to plant the two kinds of heirloom aubergine seeds (5 plants of each).

I just got back from the vet with Batya who neeeded her steroid shot for the gingivitis. Little Whisper is out for the first time today from her quarantined convalesence. We very nearly lost her and more than $2000 in, we’ve still no idea what this mystery illness is. I’ll try to get a post in about what all we’ve been through with her on Friday.

I’ve got to go collect the 20 bags of litter we ordered and then work on school projects. More updates to come as soon as I get some breathing space :) Love and hugs, been missing you all!!

A plug for Office Depot and a warning off for HP computers

A major reason I’ve not been able to get updates in has been the computer(s) issue. Remember last fall when I got a new HP computer? Well, that sucker was nothing but trouble from the time I brought it home. I restored it to factory settings, updated drivers, replaced drivers and did everything known to mankind to try to fix the unending problems with it. It was under warranty, of course, and the technicians did everything possible and it still crashed and got the ‘blue screen of death’ at every turn. I’d bought it at Office Depot and the folks there were great. After their technicians determined that it had a major defect, they gave me a new replacement HP computer exactly like the Pavillion I’d purchased. That was two weeks ago. Less than an hour out of the box, the replacement HP computer got the ‘blue screen of death.’ The one and only thing that was installed on it was Firefox. Indeed, it went to the blue screen of death everytime Firefox was opened and continued to do so repeatedly. Internet Explorer faired not much better — the computer would simply completely freeze up with it. This was a huge issue for me as all of my computer courses require the use of Firefox (the better browser at any rate) to work with their blackboard and other course platforms.

I spent more than 36 hours on the phone with the HP people, including letting them take over the computer remotely and try everything known to mankind, before it became clear (just check out their support site) that there is some sort of non-fixable problem with the operating system (OS) with that iteration of their computers — in fact, they are discontinuing it and this is clearly one of the reasons. I got no joy from the HP folks. Their only solution was that they could send me an identical computer but with a 1 terabyte hard drive storage rather than the 500 G of the lemon I had. Right, it would, as the senior case manager acknowledged, still be nothing more than a glorified typewriter with an identical OS system that does not function with Firefox or, essentially, any other browser or anything that uses graphics, but hey I could put more stuff on it. This was the help I got having both the HP warranty and the extended two-year warranty I purchased.

The Office Depot folks were much more responsive. In fact, they were brilliant. Having already replaced the first lemon with an identical lemon, they were like yes you can bring it back and get a completely different brand. I did a lot of online research first, talked to my comp. sci professors for their advice (they all also work as their major jobs in the ‘industry’) and wanted a Lenovo (or Acer) in exchange and was willing to pay the difference in price. The Office Depot had neither in stock in their store but had a Lenovo at a store in a town about 45 miles away — the manager of the Office Depot was like let’s not wait for them to ship it here, I’ll drive out there and pick it up myself tonight and you can collect it here tomorrow. There was a slightly more than $200 difference in the price (about $750 vs $500) and a $100 difference in the 2-year extended warranty and when I picked up the new Lenovo they only charged me the difference in the cost for the warranty! I mean, really, you could have knocked me down with a feather. They could not have been more helpful or more customer-oriented or more expedient if they had tried.

The Lenovo works like a dream (tfu tfu, find some wood folks!) and I’m scrambling to catch up with all the school assignments.

A little garden update

A lot has been going on and I’ll try to get some updates in on what all has been and is going on. Here’s just a little post about Ema’s garden that I’ve pretty much taken on and taken over.
Back in November we got this bad boy put together:
IMG_0621 Yes that is a tumbling composter — put it in and spin! Best of all, after the city rebate, it only cost $25. We’ve got both cylanders going now with the first compartment in hopefully creating good compost mode and the second compartment being used to add in the new compostable stuff.

Here’s a picture of the garden when I was still in spiderville hell. I had just started to “double-dig” and just looking at it, you’d never guess that there were spiders the size of salad plates lurking below the surface.IMG_0622

And here it is about a month ago, dug and planted:IMG_0652

We had three days of hard freeze and freezing rain and, even though we covered it, a lot of the stuff that had come up died. We have had one lettuce out of it and will have another lettuce from the garden for a salad tonight.

The cilantro, leaf celery, green onions, thyme and some sort of Mexican herb are all growing well, as well as one (only 1!) of the Kales that I started in fall. I’ve got 22 new Buttercrunch lettuces (similar to a Bibb lettuce) started, and seven tomato plants started in containers — only one has sprouted but it is only 7 days since I started them. I know, I’m impatient. I need to replant nearly everything but the beets — even the radishes! –because of the freeze we had.

More updates to come: Sick cats — one we nearly lost but is finally out of the woods –school updates, D.A.R.A. updates and other stuff.

Wheee, she’s got rhythm!!

Here is my little niece dancing away in her winter concert. Check it out, she’s the little one with the light brown pony tail –and the one with a lot of rhythm. That little thing can dance!!! The Japanese love their rock ‘n roll :)

this and that

There’s a lot going on but nothing spectacular to blog about. My days are so filled that I can’t imagine how I managed everything when I was working. Of course now I’ve got like 5 million projects going on and am frustrated that I haven’t really finished any of them –silly, in many respects as many of these are not short term things that you can knock out in a day. In fact, it is all the stuff that has to get knocked out in a day that is making these longer term projects eh a lot longer term. So some of the stuff:

I’ve registered for three courses for the spring, one of which is not useful but that they require (beginning computing) to take the others: Web design tools and Web programming. I’m also trying to do 3 courses currently that are free online — the app course, a computer networking course, and an intermediate level of java programming — trying because things just get in the way of actually sitting down and being able to concentrate on this stuff. In the meantime I’m trying to get better at CSS especially because I’m working on creating the DARA website and really need it.

As far as DARA, we’ve gotten folks to be on the board of directors but now just need (my serious nemesis) to do the paper work to file for non-profit status. That went on the back burner to deal with the tax crisis caused by the accounting firm I hired to do my taxes not filing on time (remember all the running around I did last year –as in ALL last year, starting in Oct. of 2013) despite my getting everything to them, sometimes several times over, as soon as they asked for it and then when they said they couldn’t find what I had faxed them sent it again and so forth. Now I’m dealing with the IRS saying I’ve got to pay a late fee and running about to get the info so that I don’t have to pay the late fee and argh.

The front garden should be finished and ready to plant in by the end of today. I’m trying to get a sweater knitted for my niece by the time they visit here in about 4 weeks.

Well that is a bit of what is up. I’m missing home so much that it is just a constant ache.

Hearing about the terror attack in Jerusalem every fiber of my being is wishing I was home. I’m so pissed off about the way the story has been covered by CNN and CBS that I could seriously spit — one of the CNN anchors actually said that maybe the “Palestinians are right and Israeli civilians should be considered legitimate targets.” Oh and the corrupt U.S. State Department is going to bat for CAIR and condemning the United Arab Emirates declaring CAIR a terrorist organization — hello, CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror funding trail ever held in the U.S. and numerous CAIR officials are serving jail time for terror activities. Ok, I’m going to stop writing about this for a bit because it just makes me want to scream.

Yesterday I went to get registered to do the Web developer certificate program. Tomorrow I’ll be registering for the classes that start in the spring. I’m hoping this will all be good additions to my skills set.

Batya went to the vet today for her steroid shot. Removing her teeth is not an issue as she has the kind of stomatitis that attacks the back of the throat, the inside of her cheeks and her soft palette. It makes the poor little Great White Whale a very uncomfortable and unhappy camper. By tomorrow she should be feeling better, I hope.

It is frigid here. We’ve had to do a lot to keep the kitties that are in the garage, the outside enclosure, and the 3 yard ferals warm enough. Brrrrrr.

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