Thursday, September 30, 2010

Anti-recommendation: MagicJack (really cheap phone service)

I was so excited about MagicJack, the VoIP phone service that costs about twenty bucks a year (not a month, a year). I ordered one and tried it out this morning. Good voice quality, check; quick connection time, check; call my  neighbor to tell her how great it is... Wait a minute there! It would not call any New Albin number. Lansing was cool, but not New Albin. I could use my house phone to call the new MJ line, but I could not call home from the MJ line. This was not good.

I spent some time with live chat support and they seemed mystified, and eventually escalated my issue to the engineers and said they'd e-mail if they found anything to help.

So I googled and found out that there are a TON of small local exchanges that suddenly (as in, since about mid August) no longer can be called from a MagicJack line. Just can't do it.

Here's an incredibly long discussion of the topic. You can read the first page and then skim from there.

And here's a running list (editable) of exchanges that people have found so far that don't work with MagicJack:

The short version is that MagicJack has begun to block the small telcos, which are not cost effective for them. Which is fine if you don't call any of those exchanges, ever. You won't even notice. And besides, who would miss someplace like New Albin, Iowa? or Great Falls, Montana? Or the entire state of ALASKA??!! Yes, it's true. If you have a MagicJack, Alaska just got rubbed off the map for you. No polar bears for you, buddy!

I'm going to try netTalk next. They promise me they don't block anybody. Of course now that I have given them the idea, maybe they'll do that, too. But I'm going to try. I am on a mission.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A bad case of the Mondays

It's Migraine Day again today. Not as bad as it was a couple of weeks ago. I have started a calendar to get some hard information on what my headaches are doing.

One thing that trips me up is that many of my headaches seem like sinus headaches in some ways, but migraines in others. I hate to take sumatriptan if it's not a migraine, because then I would get to deal with the muzzy feeling for the rest of the day (and still have the headache). But in the literature, an awful lot of people think they have sinus headaches when they actually have migraine syndrome. Guess I'll break down and take a sumatriptan in another half an hour (tried ibuprofen at 7:15, acetaminophen at 10:30).

Here's one abstract on a double-blind study of sinus versus migraine headache. And here's another.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Caledonia City-Wide Garage Sales

I spent a couple of hours saling around Caledonia this morning in the blustery wind and cold (but at least it wasn't raining). It was so worth it! I found a 10-gallon fish tank with filters and all the other gear for a dollar (and it doesn't leak, yay) for Lil Miss A who wants to get black moor goldfish; a vintage-looking Christmas tablecloth; a vampire cape for Kieffer!, a Dorothy in Oz dress for Lil Miss A; and THIS:

Not the sink, that's an older acquisition (I didn't think to take the picture till after we had stuck the sink in the tub). The tub. It's a 6-foot clawfoot in great condition. My awesome son helped me unload it and put it in the corner of the garage. Then he started making noises about how it would have to go into his retro home someday. Yeah, right. Anyway, it's a beauty, and these big ones are hard to find. I'm very excited.

This means that I can sell this one:

It's a 5-footer that was in that corner of the garage till it got booted out to make room for the 6-footer. It needs a lot of wire brush work and repainting of the outside, but it's also in good condition, and it has a nice brass faucet.

Who wants to buy a clawfoot bathtub? Think of the romance!

P.S. Kieffer would like to announce that he hates how Joss Whedon ruined "Angel."

Thursday, September 23, 2010


BREAKING NEWS:Facebook is down. Worker productivity rises. U.S. climbs out of recession.

(via about 40,000,000 people on Twitter)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Michael's Blogbirthday...

and he's having a giveaway.

See, if I link to him, I get an extra entry. Cool? Yes, cool!

Click here to enter the Cul-de-Sac Shack Pick Your Prize Giveway. Only don't pick Lot #4. Because, you know, that one's mine. Mine. MINE!!!! BWAAHAHAHA!


Sorry about that. Old aprons and vintage rickrack still on cards make me just a little bit crazy. But I'm better now. As long as everybody keeps their hands off my prize.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#rockretractions: You shook me for a very short portion of the evening

Thursday saw a hilarious trending topic on Twitter: #rockretractions. Here are some examples:

While I am willing to perform dirty deeds, the price is quite high, commensurate with my experience and discretion\#RockRetractions


#rockretractions Lovin' a music man was a complete & utter mistake and I am *not* going to stand by you anymore.


Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man! Knock it off! #RockRetractions


Actually we built this city on old slave worksongs and Irish folk jigs #rockretractions

She actually blinded me with Intelligent Design. Only temporarily, though #rockretractions

yomamanonymous Hey, you, feel free to come join me on this cloud. It turns out there is plenty of room. #rockretractions

tmlrnz Maggie May, I can't even look at you right now. We'll talk later. #RockRetractions

tmlrnz We are the sultans of pre-renaissance antiphonal choir music. #RockRetractions

m00finsan On second thought, we will take it. #RockRetractions

JonnySoul90210 Mama, just killed a man. Put a gun against his head. Pulled the trigger. Now he's dead. Wait He's fine. Just woke up. #rockretractions

mellowghost Ok, so technically she blinded me with pepper spray; but what invented pepper spray? That's right, science.#rockretractions

GothchicComic According to this map, these streets are all named. #rockretractions

    Vintage embroidery as gift wrap

    We attended the wedding of the son of friends yesterday. Kieffer is good friends with both the bride and the groom. They are expecting a baby before long, so I got them a useful setting-up-household kind of gift, but then I wrapped the box in this soft, cuddly yellow flannel receiving blanket hand embroidered with a Papa Critter and Mama Critter taking Baby Critter (what are they, anyway? not bears - maybe badgers? they have a Frances vibe) on a walk in his stroller. I picked it up at the one and only garage sale I allowed myself to stop at on my way home from the Twin Cities last weekend. I had no specific use in mind; it just was too adorable to leave behind. And then it turned out to be exactly the right size to go around the box that the wedding gift went in. How perfect was that?

    I had also gotten a wonderful blog prize from Christine Hoffman of Pies and Aprons (it's one of the two Saturday's Aprons waiting in the wings), and she sent it all wrapped in tissue paper with a yellow gingham band around the bundle, and I took the yellow gingham idea and ran with it. I used her band as a ribbon on the package and made a wedding card with the yellow gingham theme. Fun!

    More pics follow:

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010


    At the church building next door, red lights flash and bulky men rush around with hoses. The urgency of their steps intensifies at the sound of children's voices pleading for help in the darkness. One little body after another is carried tenderly out under the stars, and the search goes on.

    It's an exercise of the New Albin Fire and Rescue service, and my children and a bunch of the neighborhood kids are playing the victims of an explosion and fire scenario. Even though I know exactly what's going on and who's involved, even though I know that a bunch of little girls are down there in the church basement probably giggling over the firemen's efforts to find them, even though they can get up and walk away at any time, I still find my guts tied up in knots at their voices.

    And I'm not even a fireman.

    This exercise was to give our fire and rescue people practice in triage, in learning not to let their emotions take over, not to forget their training and move toward the child who seems in the most distress, but to look at the situation calmly and make good choices about who really is in the greatest need of help. Most of the people on our rescue service are parents. Besides, we are hardwired to respond to the cries of children.

    This has got to be quite a test of their skills and judgment.

    My gorgeous mother

    Just thought you'd like to see how gorgeous my mom is. This was taken a few years ago (that's me in her lap) but she is still gorgeous. I'm so thankful I still have my parents.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Kieffer's New Vintage Stove

    Kieffer put in a low bid on this vintage stove at an estate sale in La Crescent, Minnesota, yesterday, and by the time we got home there was a phone message that his bid had been accepted. Then came the fun part. The thing weighs a TON, and it was in the basement of the house. Barry was so sweet about putting in heavy manual labor to manhandle the stove up the stairs, out the house, into the Jeep, home, then out of the Jeep again onto the back porch.

    Kieffer would like to keep it for his home someday but may choose to sell it. Right now I'm just happy it doesn't need to move anymore, at least for awhile.

    I'm seriously very proud of him. I finally raised one that likes antiques!

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    Two Saturday's Aprons waiting in the wings, will have to wait a little longer

    It's been a crazy week.

    My mother had her knee replaced on Friday the 3rd. Everything went really well despite her numerous complicating medical issues, and they sent her home on Labor Day, feeling pretty good. It didn't last. Tuesday, she went back into the hospital with complications mostly centered around her blood thinners and how they affected all kinds of other stuff. I drove up there Wednesday night (thank you Dina for letting me just take off like that!) and I just came home this afternoon. So did she! She's back to feeling well and ready to take back up with learning to walk all over again. We feel we watched a miracle happen, as she was very sick (too sick for surgery), then okay for surgery but it was delayed, then doing quite a bit better and might not need the surgery after all, then doing even better and definitely didn't need the surgery, and then doing great, and then sent home. We are giving thanks.

    Barry and Kieffer had to put on Lil Miss A's birthday party on Wednesday in my place, but it sounds like a good time was had by all, and the house was still standing when I got home. I really appreciate that they made it possible for me to go be with my parents like that. I didn't actually do all that much up there, just spent time with them - both of them at the hospital, and then with my father in the evenings and mornings so he didn't have to go home to an empty house.

    We are blessed.

    Oh, and a funny story: My parents, as I have mentioned about 40 times, are members of a Messianic Christian church in Hudson, Wisconsin. Thursday was the high holyday of Rosh Hoshanah, which of course they were missing because they were stuck in the World's Funnest Place, the hospital. So a contingent of folks from their church came to the hospital room that afternoon bringing shofarot (my new word of the day - plural of shofar is shofarot). That's ram's horn trumpets, in case you didn't know. Yes, I'm serious. They blew the shofarot (quietly) (with the door shut) in my mother's hospital room. It meant so much to my parents that the festivities were brought to them, and it was a sweet, if unconventional, thing to do. They also brought lots of food.

    Want to hear what a shofar sounds like? (This is just a clip off YouTube, has nothing to do with Beth Immanuel's celebration. Also it's a lot louder than it was in the hospital.)

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Journals from Vintage Book Covers at

    Okay, I'm reblogging this for blatantly mercenary reasons as I want to win one of the journals, BUT this really IS a pretty cool idea. I stumbled on to Ex Libris Anonymous, and from thence to This man takes old books and deconstructs them to make journals. And he finds cool stuff in the pages and preserves it on his blog for posterity: Doodles, dedications, love notes, mysteries that will never be solved.

    Go check out both sites, the blog and the webstore.

    Here are a couple of my faves.