Archive for December, 2009

When I Got Sick

December 29, 2009

Something I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned is that I’m one of those sufferers of the intestinal ailment known commonly as Crohn’s Disease. I was diagnosed with it way back in the spring of 1994. For those of you who don’t know, Crohn’s sucks because it takes away a lot of the abuse you used to give your colon. Aside from being on constant oral medication, you have to be careful what you put down your gullet because certain foods affect ‘Cronies‘ different ways. Some can eat this and others can’t possible eat that. Sometimes you’ll eat something that you’ve had many times before and then, wham. You come down with a fever or stomach ache, or bowel problems.

I believe I have a milder case than many.  I’ve never had a surgery in relation to the Crohn’s and most of the time my health is on an even keel. Reading the newsgroups and email lists associated with the disease will give you the impression that everybody is just dying all over the place. I assure you this is merely because those who have the disease but aren’t really debilitated by it just don’t choose to moan out loud in public about it.

I have more problems with people who know I have it. They always are either asking me what I eat, or are offering friendly advice about some witch doctor who supposedly cures crohn’s with a shake of his magic rattle (plus following some strange diet which I could never go on anyway).

Our society is rather food oriented, whereas I like to eat at home and then go out and do stuff. Rarely am I so bad off as to be straying at home, though most of the time, my sickness comes on without warning over night.

One time I discovered that I could eat small portions of cantelope if it was freshly cut at home. After about the third day after it was cut up into bite size chunks, I ate a few pieces like I had the past two days. Evidently it was a few minutes too ‘old’ for me.  Within an hour I had a fever of 103 defrees and was confined to my bed. After about 6 hours I was feeling pretty human again.

This of course means that no matter how reliable I seem to be, in the end I could disappoint in a trice. Makes me feel real good about volunteering for stuf knowing that if I go off my bread and water diet, I might just get sick.  Hmm. Enough for now.

The Mythical IKEA

December 29, 2009

Yesterday we journeyed away to find the mythical IKEA store in Paramus, NJ. I say ‘mythical’ because we had often heard of this furniture store, but had never gone there. Well, a few years ago, when we re-did our kitchen, we no longer had room for the grand, bulky, pine dining room table which previously occupied a large portion of our room. After the kitchen re-do was done, we ate from a card table ‘until we got a new table that would fit better’.

Well, I got tired of the flimsy card table and built a perfect sized kitchen table using a few donated pieces of wood from a friend and some purchased wood from Lowes. The bill came to about $50. This table came out so nice that my wife decided that we should just keep it and get chairs to match.

Well, the chairs got put off and put off. We were eating off of one folding chair and two cast off wooden chairs that my aunt found along the road. The wooden chairs were getting ricketier by the month and I had to repair them several times.

So finally, we decided to go buy chairs for the table. We were assured that you just go down 208 to 4 and there’s signs that ‘you can’t miss’. We missed the signs and ended up at the verge of crossing the GWB. We stopped for directions, turned around and arrived at IKEA.

They had the chairs we wanted, but they also sold them as a set with a matching table. The price was right, so we got the table too. It all comes in one box, a bit smaller than the flat paper cartons I used to lug around as a printer.

Before we left, we had something to eat. No, we didn’t partake of the Swedish meatball, served in the food court at the store. Instead, I had a cinnamon roll (delicious, but would be better with melted margharine,) and my wife and daughter had hot dogs.

On the way to the door, I spotted a soda machine and snack machine. I went over to discover it sold Gatorade, my favorite. I dug out my pouch of dollar coins and they clunked right in. A few button pushes later, my drink was in my hand. I offered to buy something for my family. My wife asked for some trail mix in the snack machine. The dollar coins worked there too! Much easir than feeding a crinkled dollar bill into these monsters.

So, when we got home, I took a look at the project of putting the table and chairs together. The instructions have no words, just pictograms. Now there‘s a way to avoid language problems!

I had the whole set together within an hour! Nice. My home fashioned table now resides in our family room where it will be used for scrap-booking. Previously our folding table was used for this purpose.

Dollar Coin Shirt

December 26, 2009

I was trying to think of how one could let any prospective cashier know that it’s OK to give dollar coins as change. This could be done by repeatedly saying so at every transaction, but I think it might get tiring and make one sound like a crank.

I’ve come up with an alternative. A way that you only have to look like a crank. I’ve put a design up on CafePress for shirts, magnets, and a few other items sporting the reverse of the Presidential dollar (likely the most likely to be seen over the Sacagawea, since the sackie’s reverse now changes every year.) The words ‘I Accept Dollar Coins as Change’ accompany the image.  You can buy them from my CafePress shop here.

The items will be cheaper buying them from my link above as CafePress charges more if you buy from their ‘Market Place’ I.E. just searching for ‘dollar coin’ for example.

Merry Christmas to All

December 23, 2009

I’m none too sure I’ll have much to say in the next few days, so I’m wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Enjoy your company and the food.

Esprimoj – Expressions Esperantic

December 21, 2009

Many moons ago, say in 1989 I began a project in an attempt to fill a perceived niche in Esperantujo. I bought one of those Badge -A-Minit kits and created a few button designs at work. I was working at a printer at the time and during my lunch hour I would use the old letterpress equipment to print a few ‘clever’ designs. The one I personally liked the best was my ‘Ni Estu Amikoj’ button.

I did manage to sell a few by contacting a few of the regional’ Esperanto groups in the US with my ‘catalog’, an 8.5 x 14 inch sheet of paper with the text of my designs on it. I also convinced my artist friend to create a T-shirt design which to this day is available from Esperanto USA.

So my button business petered out in the late 1990’s. Than about 2 years ago, I decided to check out this CafePress place I’d heard about. You only have to do the design work and assign products on which to place it. Cool. I designed a bunch of ideas and put them on shirts and buttons and anything else I could think of. I started up an Esprimoj website to try and get the word out. It’s working. I cannot claim to be getting rich, but I do get a trickle of orders, (which CafePress fills, ships, and bills,) and I collect a small commission. My favorite design is my ‘Eat, Sleep, Speak‘ design because it isn’t so very obvious.

One thing I find interesting is that lately I’ve been getting orders, whereas for about 6 months before I got nary a one. I cannot say, but I’m wondering if this is because of the Christmas season or because of some kind of upturn in the economy. Some of the orders have been from other countries, so I dunno. In any case, I guarantee my commission goes to a worthy cause. I’ve been known to use my ‘Cafe Cash’ to buy shirts for my daughter. What’s building up now I’m saving to buy a proof of my upcoming railroad book: Remember the Sussex Branch. In case anyone’s interested I do have a book of six short stories available as well.

No ‘TV’ since 1999

December 19, 2009

A few months after our daughter was born, my wife and I decided to have the cable TV shut off to our house. This was done partially to save money and partly to end the rounds of sitting in front of the set, changing channels and chanting ‘there’s nothing on’. This is not to say we found nothing we wanted to watch on TV.  At the time I believe we often watched Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and any gardening, or home fix-it shows we could find.

However, with a new baby and a house to care for we felt that the cost per watchable hour of our TV was not worth it. My wife called the cable company to have the service shut off. They tried to put up an argument, incredulous, but it got shut off. We then watched our video tapes when he had time for mindless endeavors.

DVD’s became more popular and we began a collection of movies we enjoyed watching repeatedly.  We also discovered that there were many titles available from our local library.

When we finally got a new computer I discovered YouTube. If one searches carefully and patiently one can find many watchable things on YouTube before they get deleted by the authorities. I’ve heard that some folks download them onto their computers and burn them onto DVD’s.  Wow!

So where do we get the news?  From the radio or the Sunday paper, or from the internet.

The only ‘downside’ I’ve seen from not having live TV is that the rest of the world tends to ask us if we’ve seen a certain commercial.  I always say ‘no.’

My daughter has grown up this way, choosing what you want to watch from the library of from our collection, even watching favorite videos on YT. When she was very young, I would take her to my mom’s house and she would get to watch live TV. She would often start crying when the commercials came on, believing the show to be over. She still gets a fill of live TV at other peoples’ houses. The only side effect of this that I’ve noticed is a desire to watch Scooby Doo. (bless her heart.)

We’ve managed to fill the empty space left by a lack of live TV with such things as hobbies, games, and togetherness. I’ve noticed over the years that sitting in front of the TV everyone become a mute zombie. Playing games or doing hobbies, incites conversation and family togetherness.

More Obscure than Esperanto

December 18, 2009

I think I’ve found a group more obscure than Esperantists. They call themselves ‘Georgers’ and the track paper money. Once again, I forget how I first encountered this phenomenon. I do remember at one point in my life, possibly when I worked at the UPS Store finding a dollar bill marked in red:  ‘Trace this Bill   http://wheresgeorge.com

Somehow I encountered this recently and checked it out.  It’s based on a website and looks like a fun, yet possibly unfulfilling hobby. I’ve entered in about $500 worth of bills in the last month or so and have zero hits to my name. (I had to scavenge about the house and look for the Christmas money in my wife’s drawer.)

The idea is that you go to the website: wheresgeorge.com and input your zip code, the bills denomination, series # and serial number. If you sign up for a free account, you can be notified if any of your bills receives a hit, ie someone else, somewhere enters it on the website.

As I said though, the folks who are hardcore about this call themselves ‘Georgers’. They even have gatherings from time to time.

Unlike Esperantists, who can pretty well hide when not actively speaking Esperanto, to be a Georger, one has to go out and spend dollar bills with red marking on them.  At times, these markings are noticed and met with derision from cashiers, (perhaps more derision than those of us who spend dollar coins.) The fun side is when you get a hit on one of your bills and you can see how far it’s traveled. Try it, you may like it.

Duct Tape

December 17, 2009

I’m sure I mentioned that I get into some odd stuff. Recently I stumbled upon the craft of duct tape.  It’s a bizarre craft from what I’ve seen on youtube.  I haven’t done much with it aside from a coin purse (basically a tube) to hold my dollar coins and I made several simple wallets to accompany gift cards we got a few folks for Christmas.  Don’t know if I’ll go any further with it. I do know that if I can’t find the type of wallet I’m after (bi-fold with a coin pouch) that I’m likely to try my hand at making one out of duct tape.

No Space for a Dollar Coin?

December 17, 2009

One of the ‘anti’ statements about using the dollar coin is that “most cash registers don’t got no place to put them in the drawer” This is most certainly UNtrue. The first thing I did was to Google ‘cash drawer’ I discovered that if you really want to, there are available a very few cash drawers with only 4 spots for coins and bills. The rest of them have at least 5 places for coins, some of them have 8.

Then I reached back into my memory of my 5 months working in the UPS Store. That register had 5 spots for coins, the 5th place being used for rolls of coins.

So then this past week, my family took our allotment of Christmas cash and set out to trade it for presents to be given to each other. In every store I made purchases the drawer had 5 slots and the 5th slot was always bare empty. The slots then could be used for these denominations of coins: $.01, $.05, $.10, $.25, $1.00. I don’t see a problem.  Plus, after elimination of the dollar bill, there’d be another slot open to keep rolled coins.

As an addendum, one other argument is that no one can carry that many dollar coins around; they’re just too heavy. To that I say: you only need to carry 4 of them around if you manage your cash correctly. Or you could throw them in a jar every night like (apparently) many Canadians do. (Canada has a circulating 1 and 2 dollar coin called the Loonie and Twoonie.)

The only person I can imagine who needs to carry around large amounts of dollar coins is a street vendor who routinely makes change to his customers.

What I’m saying is that using a $1 coin in the US would not be the end of the world.

Esperanto Day

December 15, 2009

Today is what we Esperantist like to call Esperanto Day.  It’s actually the anniversary of the birth of Esperanto’s creator, L.L. Zamenhof.  He would have been 150 years old this day. This being a special anniversary, Esperantist from all over the world petitioned Google to commemorate the date with a special logo on the search engine’s main page. Looking around the web, I found one very angry person who takes great exception in the fact that today is the Bill of Rights Day. I found it in the comments section of a blog. When dealing in the affairs of humanity everyone cannot be pleased. (I’m sure that given time, I could make that a bree’hah proverb.)

I didn’t do anything much special this year for Esperanto day. I renewed my membership to Esperanto-USA, I changed my email tag line for the occasion, and I’m writing this blog. I’m also adding a few words to  my dictionary project.