Archive | February 2015

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.