Day 30 - Done!

Today is the last day of November 2011's NaBloPoMo.

Congratulations to everyone who completed their 30 days of writing, whether through NaBloPoMo, HoBloPoMo, NaNoWriMo, and/or anything else you successfully Mo'd!


How to Back up your Blog, Picasa Pictures, Templates, and more

I was doing a backup today in anticipation of changing my template again (Yes again. I like to decorate for the holidays ;) ) and I realized that not everyone knows about Blogger and Google's various backup tools. So here you go:

To backup your Blog Posts and Comments

  • Go to your Blogger Dashboard
  • Click on the "Settings" link under your blog
  • You should be taken to the "Basic" tab in "Settings."
  • Click on the "Export Blog" link at the top
  • Click the "Download Blog" button on the next page and save the file to your computer
  • * If your computer doesn't download a file but, instead, takes you to a new page with a list of your posts, try a different browser. Mac Safari - for example - doesn't always work correctly, but Firefox usually does.
This will not delete your blog (unless you clicked the "Delete Blog" link!) Exporting your blog saves a copy of your entire blog in an XML file, which can be imported to another blog if you'd like - comments and all. Many Non-Blogger blog hosts can also import your XML backup file.

Back up your blog as often as you'd like so you always have a copy in case a glitch eats your blog! Label and date your backups too so you know which is the most current.

* Note: I read somewhere that there was a problem with posts that had "read more" links getting fully backed up. I'm not sure if that glitch was fixed. I've just tested this. All your content is backed up, including content after the "Read More" links, but if you import those posts (to a new blog for example) the post's content is shown in its entirety with no "Read More" link. - Not the worst thing in the world IMO.

To backup your blog's Template

Your Template is the design and layout of your blog, nothing more.
  • Go to your Blogger Dashboard
  • Click on the "Design" link under your blog
  • Click on the "Edit HTML" link
  • Click the "Download Full Template" link
  • This will also be saved in an XML file so make sure you don't confuse your template backup (which is just your blog's design) with your full blog backup!

To backup your Widgets

There's no super easy way to do this. A Template backup (above) will save information about which widgets you had, but it won't remember their contents. I don't think the full blog backup retains widget info either, but it might. Here's what I do:
  • Take a screenshot of the page to know which widgets to add back someday if needed
  • Manually drag, or copy and paste links that are generated by widgets, into a text file (link lists, blog lists etc.)
  • If there are any html/javascript widgets that contain code, open each widget and copy and paste those codes into a text file (Codes like Stat Counter, SiteMeter, badges etc.) 
I don't backup things like the Archive or Label widgets (which can regenerate their content automatically). For those I rely on the screenshot(s) to remind me to put those types of widgets back if I ever need to re-create my blog one day.

To backup your Picasa Web Albums

(You know all those photos you upload to your Blogger blog? They're stored at Picasa. If you've never heard of Picasa, read the comments of this post for more info.)

Here's a tool not a lot of people know about. You can backup your Picasa web albums, all in one go, using Google Takeout. But there's a catch. Google Takeout will only download 100 pictures from each of your albums. The solution? Don't put more than 100 pictures in any of your Picasa albums! If you have more than 100 photos, create a new Picasa album within your same account. So long as none of your albums have more than 100 pictures, all your pictures - from each album - will be downloaded.
  • Go to Google Takeout
  • Click on the "Choose Services" tab
  • Select Picasa Web Albums
  • Click "Create Archive"
  • Click the Download Button
You can also use Google Takeout to download other information you store on Google. Click around their page and see what else you'd like to save.

If your blog is not hosted at Blogger, your blog host probably has similar features. Poke around to find where they are and use them! Glitches happen all the time and it's a shame to lose years worth of posts when backup features are available.


Baking "don't"

If you ever decide to make a pie out of a pumpkin sitting on your table, (because that's what you bought it for, and you haven't had time, but you're worried that if you don't use the pumpkin soon it might start to go bad.) and if you know you don't have any normal flour in the house, and you don't feel like running out  to get normal flour or a pre-made crust, or bothering neighbors for those items, and if you're wondering if oat flour will work well enough for the crust... let me save you some time, aggravation, and oat flour. The answer is apparently no.

Of course it probably didn't help that I forgot to add a binder...

As soon as I mix up the rest of the pumpkin, it's going straight into ramekins as pudding!



Sometimes I visit a site where people post a lot of quotes. 
Some I like, some I ignore, and some I feel compelled to comment on.

Like this one:

You will regret eating that cookie. You will not regret running that mile.

(Unless you over do it and end up permanently crippled. Then you'll wish you'd stopped, smelled the flowers, and had a cookie.)


Operation Santa Claus

With only a few days left until December, I figured it's time for me to mention Operation Santa Claus since, as I said last year, when I write about it later, people always say "Why didn't you tell me about this in advance?!"

I've covered this pretty well in the past so I'll try not to repeat too much here. The short version is: Kids address letters to "Santa Claus" or to the North Pole every year. Those letters are re-directed to post offices participating in Operation Santa Claus, and volunteers answer them and fulfill gift requests.

I'm doing things a little backwards this year. I already have some gifts, so I'll take inventory before I go and try to find letters that fit my current "haul." Probably letters written by moms who say "We can't afford Christmas this year. I would appreciate anything you can send for my child." - There are lots of those. There are also lots of kids asking for Wiis, iphones, and the latest Madden games. Last year there were also several requests for LaLaLoopsies, which I'd never heard of before. (Resulting in my later shrieking "LA LA LOOPSIE!!!" upon seeing one at a local Kmart.  - It's a doll? Who knew it was a doll?!)

I tried finding letters to fit gifts I had last year too, and still ended up buying things. This year will probably be the same!

See my previous posts on Operation Santa Claus for more information, and if you'd like to get involved, call your local post offices to see if they participate. Most seem to start Operation Santa Claus (aka Operation Letters to Santa) the day after Thanksgiving or near the first of December.


Captcha - I swear I don't make this stuff up

(I know it's spelled incorrectly, but you read it that way too!)


5 Year old on Malpractice

I keep thinking about L.
Who's L?
My neighbor. He died.
Oh, I'm sorry. How did he die?
A doctor killed him.
I hate it when that happens! I'm sorry that happened to your friend. Do you know what happened? How did the doctor kill him?
He took out his sword and stabbed him in the back. All of the doctors in the hospital took out their swords and stabbed him in the back!

* Ironically, that's probably not far from the truth!

Spawn of Audrey II

Of course there's more. Why else would I have pulled those other two posts out of draft? ;)

Trying to replace the last mattress taught me an important lesson.

I'd spent over a week calling the two Kmart's near me (since that's where I'd have to exchange the mattress) and was told repeatedly that there were no full sized inflatable mattresses in stock and that I should call back the next morning. Which I did. Finally I decided to replace the mattress by mail. When I went online to do that, guess what the website showed? That the mattress was IN STOCK at my store! The store that only a few hours earlier had told me they had NO IDEA when they'd come in and to "call back tomorrow!" PLUS, they'd consistently told me they only re-stock at midnight, so it's not as if it got stocked in the middle of the day. The mattresses had probably been there all week.

I ordered online and less than two hours later I was told my item was ready for pickup at the store. From that point on the whole exchange was pretty straightforward and probably took less time than waiting in regular lines for a purchase. AND AND AND!!! Get this! It was $15 cheaper online! I got money BACK!

Which is why this is the route I took when THAT mattress attacked me in my sleep.

Oh yes, that one too developed a leak that, once again, I could not hear or find, but the sinking - within about 15 minutes this time - was unmistakable. (How can something deflate in 15 minutes and not make a sound?) I knew right away I'd be going the "order online for store pickup" route this time, but I wouldn't be able to get to the store for a couple of days. On night two, while half asleep in my bed, due to the deflation of the mattress and the ensuing lack of tension on the fitted sheet, the far right corner of my sheet came off the mattress. But it didn't just slide off. It FLUNG itself off - like a slingshot that's been released. And when it flung itself off the corner, it flung itself up into the air, across and over onto my head. Do you know what it's like to be sleeping, alone in a room, and have a sheet suddenly thrown over your entire head? Ponder that for a moment!

My first though actually was that it was due to the mattress deflating, but I lay very still for several minutes, listening... to be sure.

The mattress went back that day.

I know… get a real mattress. Not yet. Too many real life things up in the air at the moment. Hassle and travel costs aside, I'm only out $50-ish for my aggravation. Though now that I think of it, those travel costs might start adding up if this continues.


Unexpected benefit from watching the Space Station

I watched a little of the Space Station this week. It's been a while since I've done that. I found it calming in a "familiar" sort of way. Weird, I know, but since I watched it practically non-stop for about a week my brain now experiences a level of comfort when it sees it. Familiarity brings me a great deal of peace. (Well... good familiarity. Familiar crap makes me feel crappy!)

Watching the International Space Station this week also made me a little sad because some of my favorite astronauts will be returning to Earth soon but that's for another post. The post below, however, is yet another that I wrote a while ago and saved to draft. Here ya go:

*  *  *  *  *

I've pretty much finished my spree of space posts, but last night I discovered what I think might be a really great benefit from having watched the International Space Station for about a week. I was able to fly MUCH more easily in my dreams last night!

Oh sure, ROLL YOUR EYES, but you don't understand what an issue this has been for me! Do you know I actually had to develop a whole other technique for flying in my dreams? I've had SO much difficulty flying at times - which is annoying because WHOSE DREAM IS IT ANYWAY???!!! But, a few years ago, I figured out that I could sometimes levitate instead - directionally too. Which is a bit different but can sometimes achieve similar results when necessary. - When I'm aware enough to remember. (BTW, I found this was also the key to moving objects in my dreams. I tried "willing" things to move for months and got nowhere, but when I tried levitating them I was able to succeed.)

I lucid dream a lot. I have since I was four. And sometimes it gets boring, so I try to master new skills (- like telekenisis.) - You would too if you found yourself sitting in your kitchen every now and realized "Huh... I'm dreaming again... Now what?" I mean one can only fly out a window so many times. And visiting your favorite literary or television characters gets tricky because it's easy to lose lucidity once you get there, and then it rarely works out right.

Last night, for example, I got my outfit right, and I got a main character right, but the setting was totally wrong. - Yet another thing I have to work on. It's not the first time I've arrived someplace, looked around and said "Ok this isn't right... This is my dream... let's change it...." -and it doesn't change :P

So anyway, where was I?

Oh right... Flying. Much easier last night. And I think it might be due to having watched others do it so effortlessly for over a week now.

So if you have trouble flying in your dreams, might I suggest watching the space station... ;)

Red Shirt Fridays

I find this a bizarrely ironic name for a movement.

People wear all kinds of stuff on the Space Station. One Friday, I tried to read Mike Fossum's shirt. Mike was not cooperative with my efforts. Seems he thought fixing the space station was more important ;)

I was able to read enough of it to see that it was titled "Red Shirt Friday" and that it had something to do with supporting US troops. I did some searching and learned that this is a quiet movement that's been around since possibly 2005. The idea is for people to wear red shirts, which symbolize the spilled blood of soldiers, on Fridays, to show support for our troops, until all of them are brought home. I found no other explanation offered re the symbolism of wearing red shirts for this movement. Blood of soldiers. That's it.

Anybody else find "Red Shirts" an unfortunate and ironic symbol for our troops?!

Non Geeks Click Here

A "Red Shirt" or "Redshirt" is slang for a nameless expendable character that gets killed soon after they appear. The term came about due to the original Star Trek series where crew members in red shirts frequently met their demise by the end of a scene, often in large numbers. Although the term "Red Shirt" is most closely associated with Star Trek, it is often parodied and referred to in other television and film genres as well. 


Audrey II - The Return

Remember yesterday's post? That was written a few months ago. I posted it now because, of course, there's more. This next one is from a little over a month ago  (If you only knew how much I have saved to draft!)

*  *  *  *  *

Things were going great with the new mattress. It grew too, but not larger than the queen sized frame (since this mattress was a full.) and it was comfortable. Then this past weekend I got that sinking feeling again. Except this time, there's no hissing.

Unfortunately I can't find the leak anywhere. I've looked at the parts of the mattress most likely to be punctured. I even went over the entire surface and sides of the mattress with a stethoscope. - Yes I did. - I heard nothing.

No problem. I got the extended warranty right? Except it takes "warranty land" a month or so to get you your new product, so I'd prefer to bring it back to the store for a quick exchange if possible. But the only two stores within 2 hours of me don't have any more full sized inflatable mattresses. They have twin sized (too small) and queen sized (not doing that again) but not full. Both stores have told me to check back daily since they re-stock each midnight, but neither knows when the next shipment is due. Both think "soon." I'll give them 'till the end of the week. If they're not stocked by then, I'll go the mail route. Meanwhile, I'm sleeping on a half inflated mattress. Which has become an interesting and not altogether unpleasant experience.

This mattress is thinner than the last, so it doesn't engulf me as much. Plus, it only deflates in areas that have the most pressure. So although my back sinks until it's flat on a hard surface, my legs remain in a somewhat elevated position. As does my head, so no need for a pillow. And if I roll over, I have instant "body pillows" on each side. My biggest problem is getting in and out of bed. As soon as I sit or kneel, the rest of the mattress flips up to greet me.

Again, things shouldn't be this complicated.


Audrey II

- That's what I'm calling the air mattress that tried to eat me.

The short explanation of why I'm using an air mattress, is that my old mattress was sagging and hurting my back and after flipping it (and me) to every angle and configuration possible, I finally tossed it. One of the reasons I didn't purchase a new "real" mattress is because I've been considering getting a new bed too, and that would influence the kind of mattress I'd get. So for now, an air mattress is cheap, does not hurt my back (surprisingly), and works fine. Or at least it did.

I got a Coleman queen sized mattress, and everything started out well. But then it started to grow. That's right, my mattress started to grow. The mattress stretches out over time, and I mean really stretches. As in stopped fitting onto my bed frame which caused all kinds of issues including my having to remove the headboard.

Then one night, I heard a strange hissing sound. Where was it coming from? Was it outside? No. Was it the computer? No. Radiator? - Too early in the season. No, it was the bed. I wondered if I'd be able to find the hole easily and yes I was. It was pretty large. The puncture had been caused by a sharp corner that was exposed due to my having removed the headboard. I'd padded all those corners, but clearly not enough.

I sealed the hole with some packing tape, re-inflated the bed, and all was well - For about 2 hours. Then I started getting a "sinking" feeling. So I searched for the patch that came with the mattress. It comes with a patch! That should work right? It did! - For about two hours.

I tried re-applying the patch, then cutting a different patch, then putting a patch AND packing tape over the hole. None gave any evidence of hissing, and everything seemed to be fixed - for two hours each time. After which I'd wake up in the middle of a flat oasis surrounded by air pouches on all sides. A bit like being consumed by a large deflating bouncy castle.

Finally I went out and bought a new full sized inflatable mattress in the hopes that a full might stretch to the correct size and I'd therefore be able to avoid another "puncture by sharp corner due to necessary headboard removal" incident.

I liked the first mattress, until it grew.... and I punctured it.

Oh, and I got an extended warranty on the new one! I rarely purchase extra warrantees, but the checkout guy told me it not only covers wear and tear, but idocy too. Apparently I could stab the thing a bunch of times in a fit of rage and they'd STILL replace it!

This shouldn't be so darned complicated.



Sometimes I visit a site where people post a lot of quotes.
Some I save, some I ignore, and some I feel compelled to comment on

Like this one:

Never give up on someone you can't go a day without thinking about.

(Unless you're a crazy stalker, or they're a crazy stalker. Then do!)

* I appreciate the romantic intent of the original quote, but not being able to get someone out of your head doesn't always mean you're meant to be together. Sometimes it means you're psycho! (Or they're psycho!)


Spam to go

I got the BEST spam yesterday. Well maybe not the best. The best would have given me billions of dollars and not been a hoax! But the spam was impressive and made me LOL, and laughter is always good in my world!

The comment had several key words from my post so, initially, I thought it was a real comment, until I saw the name of the commenter! I don't know if a bot posted a standard form response, or if it alerted a human to my post and they posted a response, or if there are people whose job it is to sit at computers all day doing searches and manually entering spam. I'd like to think it was a bot because I'm quite fond of robots, but who knows.

Their response to yesterday's post:

Excuse the intentional misspellings. I don't want to attract more spam. The message said: Just put your peetsa in front of U, watch T V, and enjoy a layzee nite at home with a very satisfying dinner.

Thank you spammer. I might just do that. 


I crave order

They painted my kitchen - re the water damage - which meant I had to take everything off the walls, counters, and shelves, remove the shelves themselves, remove all pictures and racks, and move all the furniture into the center of the room. This also meant my kitchen was essentially out of order with no place to sit and no way to prepare food. But that was ok. I had the brilliant plan to order takeout food. Except when the time came, I couldn't find my menus because they were buried somewhere under the mass of furniture and kitchen items in the center of the room. Plus I wasn't exactly sure when I could order food because my clock was unplugged. Eventually I checked my computer for the time and looked online for the takeout number.

After the painters left I tried to get some cleaning done, but there were some large items to clean and the best place for those was the bathtub. Except the bathtub was full of bathroom items that had been taken off those walls and shelves because they'd painted in there too. So I put all the bathroom stuff back up and away (which was far easier than the kitchen) and that wore me out for the next few hours.

Once night hit, I walked around in the dark a lot because my window shade wasn't on (it had been taken down so they could paint the window frame) and I didn't feel like doing "Noisy Quiet TV" for the neighborhood. Eventually I decided to put the shade back up, except I wasn't sure where the ladder ended up, so I looked for it in the dark with the help of light from the street lamps outside. A few minutes later the ladder was found and the window shade was in place again.

With the window shade in place, and the lights on again, I decided to clean (there's SO much cleanup to do. It'll take a few days.) Except I have this "thing" nowadays where I pop a VHS tape in whenever I'm in the kitchen, so it can play in the background and I can be sure there's nothing important on the tape before I toss it out. - It's an ongoing project. (So far the contents of every tape has matched its label, but I still feel the need to go through all of them just in case.) So I go to turn on the TV and it's not plugged in. - Finding and untangling that extension cord from the mass in the middle took about ten minutes. Then I wondered what time it was and of course there's still no clock plugged in.

So now I have the shade down, the light on, the TV and VCR plugged in, and I'm happily drinking water out of a small bowl because my mug rack is currently soaking in the bathtub and all my mugs are still under the table.


I dream about bugs

I dreamt there was a bug that I used as part of a magic trick. It was some kind of beetle or large cockroach or waterbug. It wasn't a pretty beetle like a scarab. This was a big brown bug with legs that ran very fast, and its shell was more segmented, not round-ish and shiny.

I was afraid of this bug and would squeal just like everyone else who saw it. But it was also part of my "magic trick" so I would try to make sure nobody stepped on it. They'd just back away quickly screaming. As, pretty much, did I. Then I guess I'd put the bug back in its box, the trick would be over, and life would go on.

During the dream, at some point, my logical mind intervened. - It does this sometimes and totally messes with my "dream world" logic. When my "real" logic stepped in, I thought "wait a minute... this is a living thing. Why would I have never thought of that before? I've used this bug as part of a trick for years, as a "thing," but it's alive... it's a living being..." And then I thought "What is wrong with me?!" In this dream, I had 'memories' of the trick and bug that went back years and I was confused about how none of this had occurred to me until that moment.


NaBloPoMo Guide - Unofficial

Almost two weeks into NaBloPoMo, some people are still feeling lost and overwhelmed by the new site, and some have given up altogether. This saddens me. I've created an Unofficial Guide to NaBloPoMo, for old participants and new, to address some of the confusion. Please take a moment to swing by NaBloPoMo Guide - Unofficial and let me know what you think (preferably in this post.) Feedback of any kind is welcome.

NaBloPoMo Guide - Unofficial


Functional Wardrobe

Sometimes I visit a site where people post a lot of quotes. 
Some I save, some I ignore, and some I feel compelled to comment on.

Like this one:

Dress every day like you're going to get murdered in those clothes.

(So I should wear red?)


My ears are ringing

I was playing around with some phone apps that make high frequency sounds. The kinds that only dogs can hear etc. - Don't ask. They were free.

I found I could hear all the tones marked for various age groups (only people under 30 can hear these... only kids under 10... etc.) but one let me crank up the frequency to a point where I really could not hear it anymore. - But it made me feel ill. And now, (from the tones I could hear, I think) I have an annoying "after ringing" in my ears. - And yes the app is OFF! :P

I need some kind of "anti-tone" app now. To get rid of the ringing. Wonder if someone makes that...?

* Searching.... *

They do!

Not surprisingly, they charge for those! >:o|

Silly question...

Sometimes I visit a site where people post a lot of quotes. 
Some I like, some I ignore, and some I feel compelled to comment on.

Like this one:

What fits your busy schedule better - Exercising one hour a day or being fat 24 hours a day?

(What fits my busy schedule better?? - Being fat 24 hours a day! - Duh!)


Totally Kid Carousel

A friend and I decided to check out a park we'd never been to. I was particularly excited to learn that there was a carousel in the park, though from the few pictures I'd seen, I thought it looked kind of… odd.

Yellow horse and spiders

Seeing the carousel in person did little to change my opinion of it - initially

It was very bright, very colorful, and I couldn't help thinking WHAT THE HECK DRUGS WAS THE DESIGNER ON WHEN HE MADE THIS??? These were the scariest, most brightly colored, misshapen, creatures I'd ever seen! 

Slicker - no one seems to know what a 'slicker' is. The second animal is unlisted. We think it's a cow.


Spiders and Octopus


It was obviously meant to be whimsical and quirky, but all I could think was "Seriously, dude… what was up???"

And then… I figured it out.

Above each carousel animal was a drawing. A child's drawing.


Cat and not-a-crab. It's an elephant.

And at the base of each animal, was a signature. 


The artist, Milo Mottola, had brought the children's drawings to life - exactly as they'd been drawn.






- I love this, and now think it's coolest carousel EVER!

(I didn't notice the guy in the video until after I uploaded it. "Hello Mr. Parks Person!")

Go back through the pictures and try to guess what the animals are. Roll over each one for the answer.

Read more about the Totally Kid Carousel.


What's with the smurfs again?!

This time I dreamt somebody painted their child blue, then stuck them in a white dress and floppy hat.


NaBloPoMo - A Brief History

- For new people who don't know what NaBloPoMo is, and for old people non-new people (Stella!) who haven't figured out why NaBloPoMo's site looks so different this year ;)



Last night I dreamt I was in a room and a woman came in looking for something. I was annoyed by her suspicion that I might be hiding something, so I pretended to be caught off guard when she entered. This led to her smugly opening a bunch of cabinets looking for "whatever" which of course she didn't find. Eventually she left. But while she was opening cabinets, she opened two I'd forgotten existed. (How this would be possible I'm not sure but it was a dream!)

I looked in the cabinets after she left and found, among other things, a musical smurf toilet brush holder. It supposedly belonged to my friend's husband, who in real life (and dreams too it seems) saves all kinds of stuff.

I was going to ask if I could have it, because I thought it would be funny (and because, you know... I didn't have one) but upon further inspection I found that it played a song called "PLEASE love me!" which in the dream was a catchy upbeat song that was surprisingly popular with teenagers - boys too. One of those songs people gleefully sing without paying attention to the lyrics. Then I looked at the wide blue base of the toilet brush holder, and it had a plastic smurf in a convertible, DESPERATELY reaching its arms up to another smurf, begging it to marry it. - And I mean desperate! Like its little plastic life depended on it!

I decided this was a very sad little toilet brush holder and, with my tendency to anthropomorphize things, I'd be better off not bringing it home!


Guess what I did today?

I changed my blog template :)

  • Modified Blogger Awesome Ink template
  • Graphics from Graphic Garden
  • Label Cloud code by Phydeaux3
  • Label Cloud "number of results per page" tweak from Hackosphere
  • Code fix for Awesome Ink templates, that allows posts from the same date to appear as separate posts instead of one long post, from Southern Speakers
  • Author Comment Highlight code (slightly modified) from Tips for New Bloggers
  • "Break out of Frameset" code from
  • Additional Favicon code (since Blogger's wasn't showing up in all browsers) generated at Happy Blogging
  • Hide/Show, Expand/Collapse, Peekaboo, Sidebar code from: Blog U
  • NaBloPoMo sidebar "Leaf" badge (date changed): By Tracey Delaney
  • NaBloPoMo Mini badge, at the end of posts (date changed): From Growing Happiness