Monday, February 21, 2011

Jumping For Heroes: Band of Brothers

The cast of HBO's Band Of Brothers are reuniting for a star studded joint event later this year in aid of the Richard Winters Leadership Project, an organization run by Tim Gray Media.

Our mission is to raise funds required to erect a monument in Normandy in honour of the late Major Winters who passed away in January of this year. The project needs $100K to complete the work.

Since I had asked if there was any way to donate to the memorial, I figured I better share this info. So far Neal McDonough isn't on the list of jumpees, but you can donate to the Richard Winters Leadership Project or sponsor a parachute for one of the stars.

And despite my money issues, I am sending this cause something when I get my income tax return. But not a parachute. :D

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where Did the Weekend Go?

Belated Happy Valentine’s Day! Or if you watched Bones last night: Happy St. Valentine's Day Massacre! and pass a tommy gun over here. :D

All the plans I had for last weekend vanished under graph paper. It was an avoidance tactic, but I figured I had earned it. Thursday the 10th, I drove past an Acadian-style house with four rooms across the front and tried to see how that would work with my house remodel—it didn’t.

[IMAGE OF NOTEBOOK SKETCH] Oops, forgot to scan that sketch once I finally got the scanner working last night. Trust me, it was making a rectangle out of my house that could only be navigated in a circle.

When I got home, I Googled “two-story Acadian house plans” and found Authentic Historical Designs LLC. Unlike a lot of house plans for sell which just look like the same house with different colors, there people based their designs on existing houses.

I was inspired. I will give credit to the two-story remodel to my ex, who first brought it up as a solution to add more square-footage to my house. But these house plans showed me how it could actually work. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday making outlines on graph paper. Why graph paper instead of house design software I’ll get to later.

Stairs gave me fits since I don’t want to cut the floor of the original house. Upstairs bathroom gave me more fits because I couldn’t use the sharing one design I liked with the stairs. At one point on Saturday, I was seriously wondering why I hadn’t gone to school to be an architect because straight lines on graph paper I can do and if I had I would know if these ideas would work. :p

Which as of right now, I don’t. IF I build/add on this addition, I would have to turn all this over to a licensed architect and have official blueprints made. DIY Diva: The Evolution of a House Plan details what they went through. But as far as giving me everything I need and lust after in a house, I don’t think I did too badly for an amateur. And the footprint fits in my yard!

Let’s start with the second-floor, which is part of the house I live in now. I open the closed-up door between my current bedroom and the front porch again and the current living room becomes a bedroom too. The current bathroom and current office are both removed to become sitting/dressing rooms/something for the bedrooms. The current kitchen and back bedroom (which are made out of a pine lean-to to the cypress house) are demolished completely for the up-to-code new bathroom, stairs, and library.

I didn’t want people walking through the bathrooms to get to their bedroom; feels like bad Feng Shui and even if it isn’t, it makes me uncomfortable. One of the house plans had this ingenious set up between two bedrooms, and the only changes I had to make is to move the doors and add a way out through the sink chambers.

The back room was built to house the staircase, and then I realized that all that wallspace could be floor-to-ceiling shelves that my books wouldn’t have to share with a TV and DVDs, beds, or computer desks. This is where a professional needs to put in the windows so they won’t hurt my books.

Stairs: I don’t do well visualizing 3D space, so I want a pro to go over the math on these especially.

Now for the totally new first floor! A matching porch is a feature in Acadian-style plantation homes, so I incorporated it. The front door opens into the Great Room, which will probably be where the TV ends up. To the south side of the house, there is the hall connecting the first floor bathroom with two more bedrooms. The bedroom facing the front will be my computer office. The one closer to the kitchen will become an exercise and craft room, but both should be able to accommodate extra guests.

The great room and hall lead to a larger kitchen with room enough for a dining table. From there to use up space created around the staircase, I put in a storage room for the house, a mudroom corridor to the garage, and a laundry room. The first floor ends with an attached garage and a store room accessible through it.

Making it prettier to look at: Last time I got on a plan the remodel kick, I tried using Google SketchUp but never could get the hang of it. Then I moved to another freeware program and couldn't put a roof on. On a whim, I bought HGTV’s Home Design & Remodeling Suite.

Oh where to start with how much I hate this program. HGTV should be ashamed to have their name on it. Impossibly hard to figure out how to use the tools, never could make it understand that the house sits on pilings (all I was trying to do was build a virtual model on the current house to plan a bathroom remodel), and never could get the roof to look right. Then printing out a plan with the measurements, what came out could only be read by microscope and I couldn’t change it!


So I’m looking for a new home design program, but this time I’m searching the reviews first before buying. The names that keep coming up with high ratings are Chief Architect Home Design Suite 10 and Punch! Home & Landscape Design. Chief Architect Home Design Suite 10 offers a 30-day free trial of their Pro version, so I’m leaning towards them. If I can learn the trial version easily, they may have my business.

Playing with Chief Architect Home Design Suite Pro: The tools are easy to figure out and they have tons of tutorial videos on their website. But the two issues I had off the bat I can't find the solution to.
  1. The mouse pointer becomes target lines on the grid where you draw the floor plan. -- I'm sure this is a matter of turning something off, but I couldn't find it and coupled with issue two, it messed up my ability to draw a rectangle properly.
  2. I couldn't read the temporary measurements. -- If I zoomed in close enough to read it so I could see if the wall was long enough, I no longer had enough room to draw the rest of the house.
Mostly, I think I was too tired to deal with it by turning features off and nobody else has claimed it as a problem in their Help sections (probably because it is so simple to turn it off :p).

But what I did find cruising through their Help section was instructions on how to import a scanned sketch and use it to trace the program's version with the bells and whistles. So that's probably what I'll try to do this weekend, though not to the exclusion of everything else.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I need to keep track of the spending I’m doing for working at home. The new computer I had to buy regardless, but not the headset. Nor the Ethernet to USB filter that I needed so the Internet won’t shut off if Windows isn’t on. Yeah, I don’t get it either. New phone and second phone line are still potential buys at this point, but I’m waiting for a position to open up first. That’s where I am now. I passed the interview and the computer runs their software, so now I wait until something becomes available.

A whole day to just get house stuff straight would be awesome, but it’s not going to happen. Maybe tonight I can catch up on chores and budget work.

Under surreal moments, I talked to Sallie Mae Friday. Very helpful customer service rep after I told her what I make a month answered, “You’re barely above the poverty line. You’d have to make $4000 a month to afford these loans.” According to their paperwork, a monthly amount representing 150% of the poverty guideline is $1353.75 for a family of 1. So by barely, we mean a hundred dollars after taxes.

It’s one thing to be living under the press of “how to pay, don’t have enough, I’m so bad with money.” So to have a total stranger look at my gross pay, subtract taxes, and say “no you don’t make enough money” takes some getting used to. I feel like the bully has stopped hitting me and ran away.

Don’t get the wrong idea; I don’t have my money under control yet. But at the same time, there is not enough money. I’m not crazy for resenting p.f. bloggers with two-income households. I’m not crazy when someone says ‘be frugal, cut spending” for crying “what’s left to cut?”

Surreal alert indeed: I’ve been five days wrapping my head around this concept (minus two days for the weekend where I buried myself in the house plans to ignore it).

Now I think I’m at a place mentally to make plans and follow those plans. Helpful advice from a Dave Ramsey critic: “keep putting money in the emergency fund because $1000 is not enough to keep most emergencies at bay. Make it automatic and don’t touch it.”

This is a sore spot for my budgeting; I always spend what I put in savings. So I need to make it automatic and not at the credit union, but easy enough to set up. ING Direct has good reviews and easy set up of automatic transfers.

Second point: I need to budget bi-weekly. Monthly setup defeats my motivation and I go into my avoidance routine. When I get paid if when I can pay the bills, ‘nuff said.

Third point: Prioritize the bills. I don’t plan my spending ahead of time and give money to whoever is yelling at me the loudest despite needing it somewhere else first.

Fourth point: Do my tax paperwork. I have everything, I just need to start it.

Fifth point: Find a third job. *Snort* I’m waiting for the second one but I need more income now. I have been considering finding articles to write for Helium and Associated Content. This needs to move out of the maybe column to “do it now!

Sixth point: Stop skipping budget time. If it takes explaining to Mom that you have to leave for 6pm, so be it.

Seventh point: Eat out once a month only. Before yelling at me that I shouldn’t at all, I known once a month I am late leaving Baton Rouge and have to eat dinner before reaching home. This is different from running late and didn’t cook breakfast so drive through fast food for it.

More advice to keep in mind:
The Digerati Life: How to Make a Budget in 10 Easy Steps
The Digerati Life: The Dave Ramsey Budget: Budgeting Tips for Successful Savers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This explains a lot

Take Back Your Attention

What I find truly scary is how oblivious we are to the creep of distractions. I got more writing done yesterday because I was away from a computer than I did all four days I was off last week.

The average for what fits on a handwritten page is 250 words. I can change my 500 words a day goal to 2 handwritten pages and still count when I type. Because I'm not writing with the status quo at all. And there's nothing wrong with the thinking the story up process (yesterday's outpouring is proof of that), so the problem is keep my attention span off the "ooh, pretties" on the computer long enough to get it done. :p

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Baby It's COLD Outside!

But luckily not wet and causing icy conditions. Cold we can deal with. I dealt with it by realizing I need a hat today and don't have one.

Wednesday, I had a group interview over the phone and computer, a first for me. Now the applied for position was filled, but we were given the opportunity to finish the interview process and then be first in line for the next position that opens up and fits our qualifications. We all went through with the interview process.

Yesterday, I got the notice that I passed the interview and they would be sending their OS CD to test if my computer can run it. After that point, I wait for a position.

Also thanks to the class I had yesterday, my brain got shocked out of the rut and I have most of a scene to type up for the Triangulation entry. My purse notebook shocked the people sitting at my table. The amount of pages written in my purse notebook had them asking "Are you sure you haven't written a novel instead of a short story?"

Plans for this weekend: load the car with computer stuff to donate, pay bills, shop for essentials, clean house, and update websites.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

When It Rains, It Pours; But I Was Given an Umbrella

Monday was typical, except for the mail increase from missing Thursday and Friday. Then I got an email from Holly Lisle over shenanigans done in the Rebel Tales name. I have kept quiet because Rebel Tales wasn't open to the public, but this is the market I sent "Covenant of the Restless" to.

Concerned and angry on Holly's behalf, but not alarmed since I figured the heads in charge were taking care of the situation. Then after lunch, I get an email from the application I had left open. The one from the job I thought had been filled on Sunday since I couldn't find my application again. It was reminder to go finish the test.

Before I left work for the day, thirty minutes late because of the mail load, I got another email about Rebel Tales and how it has closed shop. I'm less heartbroken than flabbergasted, and it's more on a personal note. Seriously, I get this after the weekend I just had?

So I rush home to see what the news was on the application. I figured I would try it in IE8 and if it didn't work, I would grab Dad's laptop and go back to IE7 to finish the damn thing. It worked in IE8 (I have no idea what they did, but I'm SO glad they did it) and I finished the application (I think). I have no idea what my scores are, but if I don't get the job now it's not because of technical issues but something personal.


Why the hell do I find that comforting?!

Things are looking better personally. I have to find a new market for my story, and I don't know if I'll get the job, but it's Tuesday. :)

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Depressing Turn of Events

As some of the readers knows, I'm trying to find a second job that I can do from home. I was looking before my previous computer died back in November and had stumbled across virtual call center, i.e. answering the phone like a call center only from the comfort of your own home. Which beats the hell out of the alternative I did back in 2003, work at a call center full time because they didn't offer any part-time work plus my full-time job with the state with all my benefits.

I bought the new computer specifically to handle this, using specs that are in common for most companies.

Only to find I can't use it to finish the application process.

The first company kept screwing up when they wanted to test that the new PC would work. The web-based program would just fail. So I moved on and found a great one, all the wanted to hire was part-time. Got to the fifth section of the application process and it refused to run. After contact their customer support, that web-based program only runs in IE6 or IE7. Windows 7, which I upgraded to with the new computer, only runs IE8.


You'd think it be as easy as uninstalling 8 and using 7 for a while, but nope. Windows 7 will not run IE7. You have to set up a dual boot on your computer to run XP or a Windows Virtual PC to run XP Mode. The second made more complicated because Microsoft doesn't think Windows 7 Home Premium users "deserve" Windows Virtual PC.

To avoid that mess because the clock was ticking on my unfinished application, I finally got my dad's XP laptop with his admin password so I could install IE7 on it (because he updated to IE8 when it became available). Only to find that the job has been filled and now they only have bilingual positions that I don't qualify for.

I cried. Like a baby. I also screamed a couple of times and kicked the wall (my walls are cypress beadboard otherwise I'd probably have to detail how I had to get myself out of sheet rock).

I know my situation isn't as dire as other people out there. I have my primary job and Mom is feeding me. But I can't keep up with my bills unless I increase my income, much less replace the washing machine that is breaking down, the roof that is leaking, put up new walls and sink in the bathroom, get out of debt, etc.

Yeah, so that's where I am right now. Trying not to burst into tears thinking about it. And original fiction isn't cutting it as a distraction. I keep looking at what I have done today before the job went away and can only think "if this doesn't sell...." Not a happy place to create from. So don't tell on me, but I'm taking the rest of the day off with fanfiction and computer games.

Read Free!
The BookWorm

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"Being Human" fun

Jeffrey Bee has a fan-comic based on the British version of Being Human called We Are Monsters.

So far I'm tied between Slasher and Role Play as my all-time favorites.

Check them out!

Read Free!
The BookWorm