Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fruit flies

A week or so ago we ended up with overripe bananas in the kitchen. And fruit flies appeared like magic. It's not unusual for that to happen.

But this time, when the bananas were removed, the fruit flies didn't go away. Usually they disappear within a day or two, but they keep multiplying this time. And I haven't figured out where they are lurking.

So I did what anyone living in the future would do: I googled 'fruit fly trap'. Along with ones you can purchase, I found a recipe to make my very own, with ingredients I have in my kitchen:

Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar in a bowl or jar. Add a few drops of dish soap. Leave it where they congregate.

I put out the trap yesterday afternoon. This is what it looks like this morning:

Fruit fly trap in action
Yep, that dark smudge on the bottom is a bunch of dead fruit flies. Now, there are still a few flitting around, but it is definitely working. I'll definitely remember this recipe - and keep apple cider vinegar in my pantry.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On making friends

I belong to a very nice moms' group. I've met some great friends through activities with the group. Every mom I have met through the group has been very nice.

I preface with this information because I am always baffled by the occasional post on the message boards asking how to get to know other moms. Invariably, every couple of months, a new member will post that they are shy, that they don't know anyone, and that they feel uncomfortable going to a meetup because they don't know anyone. Sometimes they add that they are worried the group, which currently has 146 members, will be too cliquey and won't be welcoming to new members. And I shake my head.

This is what I would like to say to all those moms, and actually to anyone who is a new member of a group:

Most of us were shy when we started. I went to my first meetup in someone's house not knowing any of the other people who would be there. I met one of my best friends at that very first meetup. Did I have butterflies? Yep. Were my hands shaking as I rang the doorbell? You bet. Did I walk in that door and get to know the other moms and kids there? Absolutely.

The worst thing you can do is let fear keep you from making new friends.

As an adult, we all should have learned a long time ago that making friends takes a little work. You can't just expect someone to magically appear and bond. You have to reach out a little too. Will you click with every new person you meet? No. But you won't meet those great new people if you don't take the first step.

Put on your big girl panties (or whatever a suitable non-female-specific phrase would be) and do it. No one will bite. No one will laugh. If you mention that you are nervous because this is your first time there, you will probably hear stories of others' first times.

Not sure what to say? Want to stay in a corner hoping someone will come rescue you? Sometimes even with the best intentions, especially in public places, someone else may not realize you are waiting for an introduction. You might have to start a conversation yourself. Not sure what to say? Well, if we're in a group together, we must have something in common. That's a good place to start. Here's an example (with a fictional mom I'll call Jenny):

"Hi. My name is Meagan. Those two boys over there are mine."
"It's nice to meet you, Meagan. My name is Jenny. Mine are the girl in red (pointing) and the boy with the cape."
"He sure looks like he's having fun. How old are they?"
"Carrie is 4 and John is 2. How old are yours? Are they twins?"
"No, they are actually 3 and 4 1/2. But they are the same size. Everyone asks if they are twins."

See, the start of a conversation. It can continue on it's own from there or you can find another person to meet.

In my experience, there are a lot of moms in the group that I enjoy talking with. There are a few that I have become very good friends with and we get together for playdates outside the group. There are some I haven't met and some that I haven't talked much with. There are some that have infants that I don't have as much in common with but that doesn't mean I don't want to meet them or talk to them.

Maybe it's because we aren't in school where we have to sit in a room with the same 20 or 30 kids every day, but sometimes it seems like we've forgotten how to make friends and that we don't have to be friends with everyone. Maybe we need a little help. And so I will close by linking to this video from "The Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon discovers the Friendship Algorithm.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun times in Nashville

Nashville, IN, that is. This past Saturday we went on a double date with my parents to see Robert Shaw and the Lonely Street Band in both "Heartbreak Hotel", his tribute to a young Elvis, and "Man in Black", his tribute to Johnny Cash.

Wow. Both shows were fantastic. Seriously, if you have time to go to Nashville before the end of October, take the time to see these shows at the Palace Theatre.

The only thing that marred our evening was dinner. Actually, that would be the lack of dinner.

The first show started at 5 and ended at about 6:45. The second show began at 8. There is a restaurant right next door, Holy Cow, a steak house. Considering the proximity we figured they would be used to serving the crowd between shows. We even stopped in just before the first show to make sure we could be seated and served, with time to eat, before the 2nd show. They claimed it was possible and took a reservation. Or so we thought.

Come 6:45, we walked next door only to be told that they had our name down but that it wasn't really a reservation. They would do their best to seat us. Which they did, at exactly 7. It was 7:15 before our waitress came to the table. We ordered 4 burgers. 7:30 passed. And 7:40. At 7:45, we decided that even if our food came out, a half hour after ordering it, we wouldn't have time to eat it. At 7:50, with still no food, we asked for the bill. (They didn't charge us for our drinks when we told the waitress that we had been told we would be able to fit in dinner before the 8 p.m. show and we just didn't have any more time.)

Yep, we sat through the second show on basically empty stomachs (2 sodas and a tiny roll didn't do much but give me heartburn). The only good thing about our non-dinner is the cinnamon butter for the roll. That was fabulous. And I'm sure the food is good - if you have a lot of time to sit and wait. Really, over 45 minutes waiting is not acceptable in my book. Over 30 minutes to cook burgers? WTH?

So, bottom line: go see the shows (we didn't see the Sunday afternoon "How Great Thou Art", gospel music of Elvis show, but I assume it's good) but find somewhere else to eat.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

In the fridge

So I was talking to some friends the other day and mentioned that I bought 6 gallons of milk the other day. The checker at the grocery store ask me, rather incredulously, how many kids I had. I have 2. And a husband who drinks chocolate milk by the gallon (ok, a little exaggeration). My friends were shocked that I even had enough room in the refrigerator to hold that much milk... and also that I bought that much at a time.

So here goes. I went shopping again today. And took a picture of the inside of our refrigerator.

What's in our fridge?
So it's not the best picture, but here goes:

Note 8 gallons of milk (about a week's worth) - 4 in the door and 4 on the shelf. (2 of those are partials)

There are 2 1/2 loaves of bread - we go through 3 or so a week.

Tonight's dinner (meatloaf) is thawing in the front.

There is also juice, yogurt, bagels (a treat!), fruit in the bins, cheese and ham in the meat drawer, eggs, peanut butter (we go through a jar/week) and jam. Oh, and tortillas.

When we got our new refrigerator, we got the biggest one that would fit into the space we have, but it is actually one of the smaller ones easily found in a store. It seems even fridges are getting bigger these days. We have a bottom freezer because we spend more time going into the refrigerator section than the freezer. The freezer is currently full of make ahead meals.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New people, new habits?

Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be less traffic on campus? Even at 5 p.m. Granted, there is still plenty, but it seems like a lot less than even 5 years ago.

What has happened in the last 5 years to make traffic noticeably lighter? I'm sure several factors are at play - more expensive parking permits, more expensive gas, free employee bus passes, car pool tags, ZipCars, incentives for employees to exercise more. But I wonder if the most important factor is actually as simple as turnover.

New students, of which there is a new crop every year, this year's being the largest to date in Bloomington, are orientated to use the bus system. Their IDs act as free bus passes on both IU and city buses and they've been using the buses since that started. Lack of parking makes taking the bus a better bet for students. I see a ton of students parking in the White Lot, with more walking from nearby apartments.

But I think employees are starting to use transportation options other than cars. Yes, a lot still drive. But as parking has gotten more expensive and spaces harder to find, I think more employees are finally looking at car pool, bike and bus options. City buses became free for employees with a special, free bus pass in 2006 - the year I left.

It seems like 5 years is about right for a paradigm shift. There are a lot of new employees - faculty and staff. A lot have retired or left. New programs have had time to settle in with early adopters talking about the conveniences.

Add to all that the new premium reduction incentives for health insurance for 2011 and voluntary Get Healthy programs and you have a recipe for this change. The construction on Bypass (and probably also 3rd Street) probably help too. If it isn't convenient to drive, people find other ways.

I don't think I'm imagining things. It really feels like there are fewer cars and less backup when driving through campus.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Our playlist

I was listening to iTunes today when something not unusual happened: Elvis ended and Metallica came on. I don't like Metallica, but sure enough they are in my library. That's what happens when you get married and combine music collections. Chris has embarrassing moments at work when ABBA suddenly comes on. So what is in this library? Elvis, ABBA, Meatloaf, The Beatles, Queen, Aerosmith, Straight No Chaser, Metallica, Lord of the Rings soundtrack, Barenaked Ladies, Ozzy Osbourne, Blondie, Crystal Method, Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts, Beethoven, The Rolling Stones..... It's an eclectic mix. I like a lot of the music Chris has introduced me to. I hope he likes some of what I've introduced to him.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

International Rock Flippiing Day

Along with being the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks, today was the 5th annual International Rock Flipping Day. I read about it earlier today but didn't get around to flipping over a rock until after sunset. So what did I find? Nothing. Yep, apparently all the under rock critters that are usually there (ants, centipedes, isopods (otherwise known as roly-polies), and worms) are all sleeping. Unlike our kids, who were still talking in their beds while I was turning over no fewer than 7 rocks, flashlight in hand. I did startle a cricket sitting next to a rock, but it wasn't under the rock. At least I know what denizens are usually under the rocks in our back yard.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Free time

The boys have now been in preschool for two weeks. And I have free time! Five hours (ok, really 4.5 after factoring in travel time) twice a week. It has been so long since I've had free time, I almost don't know what to do with myself. There are so many things I want to do, along with what I need to do. I need to find time to do my book packing work. I also want to start working out for an hour or so. And writing! If I can find time to write, even for an hour, I can get a lot done on my novel. I'm a planner. I really need to make a schedule for myself and get into a routine so I can do all the things I want to do. So, a rough draft of a schedule: 9:30 drop off boys 9:45-10:45 work out 11:00-12:00 package books 12:00 lunch/reading 1:00-2:00 write 2:10 post office 2:20-2:30 pick up boys I'll have to see if this schedule will work. I'm sure it will need tweaking. And as we get closer to Christmas packing books will take longer (sometimes 2-3 hours per day). Of course, I can always finish those after picking up the boys and just take a late trip to the post office before 5. Now, am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah, grocery shopping and any other shopping that needs doing. Hmmm.... Well, we'll see what works. Maybe just writing on Thursday and shopping on Tuesday?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to House Eller

You may have noticed a little change to the blog. We purchased the domain and are now publishing there. It's a little thing, but getting here wasn't as easy as it should have been.

When we made the decision to purchase the domain name, I looked at a couple options to purchase it. I decided to buy it through Blogger/Google because they set everything up for me. I like easy, and that seemed the way to go since the cost was pretty much the same no matter how we did it.

It wasn't that easy. I guess partly it's my fault. I was using my iPad (Have you met my iPad? His name is Helo.) so I blithely walked through the purchase steps on it. Turns out Google Checkout, which is how you purchase through Google, didn't like using a mobile device. Unlike just about every other service on the web, it distinguishes between devices. And it wanted me to have a Google Checkout account on my computer first. Which I could then link to Helo.

So I thought I made my purchase. I even got a confirmation email. Then the fun came. The next day, I couldn't get in to view my purchase (I think I did once and saw something that said cancelled, but I couldn't get back to it). I followed the link in the email to link my mobile purchase to my computer. And kept getting errors that it couldn't find the information.

I somehow ended up creating a new Google Checkout account, not linked to Helo, and couldn't find a way to link them after the fact. Google Help was no help. Apparently, if you have an actual problem, you are out of luck. All the Help articles were basic instructions on how to set things up initially - actually more of a FAQ than Help.

Have you ever tried to contact Google about a problem? You can't. You can fill out their form once you dig through layers of unhelpful help, but you get an autoresponse that they can't address each individual problem, but have you checked out Help? (Yes, I did. That's why I tried to email my problem.) There is no chat help, no phone number. You can try the message boards and see if someone somewhere might have had this same issue and found a solution. But you can't actually get help from Google.

After verifying that the domain wasn't properly set up, I tried to purchase it again, but it wasn't available. Well crap. Time to leave this for the day and cool off.

Wednesday rolls around (I tried my original purchase Monday night). was still not set up. I had given up on looking at anything through Google Checkout since that was useless. I tried to purchase the domain name again, this time from the computer.... and it went through! When I got my confirmation email, I didn't hold out much hope. But then I got a second email with links to setting up administrator accounts! And this morning Blogger had magically migrated the blog over to the new domain.

Lesson learned: Google doesn't like mobile devices.

So, I welcome everyone to the new Same blog, just with our custom domain. It only took 3 days to get here, but we made it.