Death of a Best Friend, Borders Books

As everyone knows by now, all Borders Bookstores are closing across the world. It’s extremely heartbreaking for those of us who have loved and frequented this bookstore for years.

Before Borders, there was Walden books in the malls. I shopped at Walden books in my hometown with my Grandmother when I was little. She used to buy me Nancy Drew mysteries in hardback at Walden, which I’d finish in a day, and read again and again. I still have them all. She and I browsing the bookstore when I was young is one of my favorite memories with her. Later when I was older, I liked reading science fiction. We still went to the mall together occasionally and she’d still like to buy me a book (even though many times it was a Star Trek book, and she never complained!)

When I moved to Virginia, Walden books was where you went to get a book. Later I discovered some smaller bookstores like Little Professor books in Reston, Virginia. The little bookstores were easy to browse and felt personal.

Then the big bookstores started coming to Virginia – Borders Books and Music, and Barnes and Noble. Borders eventually purchased Walden books, and Barnes and Noble’s presence put that Little Professor books out of business. I never felt at home really in B&N. Too big, too fancy-seeming for my tastes.

But Borders! Wow my favorite store:  Borders Books and Music (who wouldn’t love a store with a name like that?!) in Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia.

Yep this was the store I’d immediately love forever. The first time I visited, as I was driving up I just went “Wow”. A two-story, books-and-music wow! Once inside, it was like a dream. The atmosphere was casual, there was a cafe, with books, movies, and music. Dreamy!

I’d also frequent the regular Borders in Tysons Corner – they served veggie burgers at their grill — see, casual! I’d take my kids in to both of the stores when we’d be out shopping. They’d get cookies and cocoa, or cakes and cool drinks. When they got older I’d take them for coffee.

We moved to Pa about 4 years ago, and the first thing I googled was to see if they had a Borders. Yes! Not far from where we were planning to live. It came to be that Borders was the only good thing about living here. (I don’t like where we live now; a move in the future is most likely!) I’d take my son at least once a month to get coffee and see if he needs any books, or go to browse magazines and buy one or a few, and a book (or a few!) As my income declined so did my book and magazine purchases, but I’d still go to the cafe and relax.

Borders has been there with me through rainy days in my life – it’s been my comforting friend. It’s been a happy, upbeat place where you could go to relax, have coffee, eat, use the clean bathroom, and find a new book to accompany you home. You’re leaving me best-friendless up here in Pa, Borders. I’ll love you forever and think of you fondly always. I never had a bad time in your store, or bad customer service. All memories of you with my kids and of visits alone, are uplifting, comforting and happy.

I’m devastated without another bookstore in our area. My son and I will have to find another cafe for our coffee (sans books and magazines). It won’t be the same. Your death leaves a colossal gap.

I’m happy to have known you, happy that you were a best friend of mine from day one. I will miss you desperately always.

Netflix Price Changes

A Netflix envelope picture taken by BlueMint.

Image via Wikipedia

Doesn’t it always happen? You feel you’ve discovered the bargain of the century, and many other people discover it when you do.  The bargain becomes not such a great bargain any longer because…the price of your great find suddenly goes up! People want more money in their pockets for something they were doing perfectly ok with charging before.

This great bargain is Netflix. For those of us who have had to cut the over-$100 cable tv prices from their budget, Netflix’ $7.99 for streaming has been a lifesaver. We can still watch some things on television (albeit not live tv). For me and my husband, it’s old Westerns like The Virginian and Wagon Train. For my son and me, it’s cartoons, and some anime. My husband loves the funky Chinese martial arts films (Netflix has tons), and there’s a ton of anime I think you could never get through if you watched 24 hours a day for a year. We’ve watched quite a few fascinating documentaries and there’ve been a couple of “Oh, I’ve always wanted to see this” type of movies.

Ever since we recently signed up, we feel like we’re part of one of the best-kept secrets. We have been telling friends to sign up, and when they come over to hang out and they see Netflix, they want it too.

http://twitter.com/#!/BrennndaM/status/91097633657069569

However, the great deal is blown. Got a letter from Netflix – their prices are pretty much doubling, if you subscribe to streaming + DVD rentals.   I understand that the company is growing, blah blah. With all those millions of subscribers, each paying minimum $10 a month, they certainly cannot be suffering. It’s not like they’re showing brand new content.  There’s always some lame excuse when it comes to large price increases, where greed is the reason but they’re too shy to admit that.

Anyway our letter says:

Dear *Our Family  🙂 *

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:

   Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
   Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $7.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You don’t need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

We like having the option of getting a DVD once in awhile – not everything is on streaming. Heck not everything is on Netflix! We take forever to watch the DVD that we do get each month. So this is the part of the package that unfortunately we will drop. It’s not worth it to us, especially since the DVD plan leaves a lot to be desired in the selection that’s there.

http://twitter.com/#!/LoisinaMonster/status/91109847898144768

Regardless, the streaming $7.99 is still a good deal for us. We can’t be too picky. We’ll be watching everything in our current DVD queue that we can before September, then will be cutting off the DVD portion of the service. I wish we could keep the service, honestly. Netflix would make the extra $2 off us monthly if they left it alone. However, we’ve re-evaluated everything in the past few years when it comes to our spending, and I will gladly put that $2 toward our grocery bill, and won’t be giving them the $7.99 they want instead.

Lessee…$2 a month saved a month will get me:

  • Canned cat food enough for two weeks of dinners for Echo
  • A can of frozen orange juice for my son for a couple of days of drinking (plus change left over!)
  • A good Lindt chocolate bar (change leftover!) for when I’m really craving chocolate
  • A full carton of eggs – lasts us longer than a week!

I’m sure you can think of tons of things that you could get for $2 saved, let alone $7.99. I won’t let companies dictate to me anymore how much I pay to them for what are really life extras. You raise your prices, and you risk losing my business, some or all. I don’t freaking care anymore. We can do without everything but food, water, shelter and a few clothes on our backs. If companies are not realizing that many people feel as I do, these companies are at risk of having only the clothes on their backs as well.

Even with the changes, I still feel like @BrennndaM above where she can survive without cable because of Netflix. However, that happy feeling of being in love with this service is now gone.

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Last Lone Finch

Male Zebra Finch
Image via Wikipedia

It’s interesting how the tiniest little animals can make one go all sweet. This happens to me each time I have looked in on my finches over the years. Someone gave me 6 society finches and one white zebra finch years ago. The zebra finch “beeped” all day long. Pretty annoying! She was the boss of all the others, keeping them in line.

This finch community lived in a large flight cage. Soon, they were nesting and making eggs. Out of these eggs came 7 more babies!! I have to say 14 in even this large cage was too many. What a mess they made! But they were so fun to watch. They love to nest all together in one nest – at evening their little beaks is about all you can see out of the nest – 14 little pointy beaks poking out of a brown mass of feathers in the hole that is in a finch nest. How in the world they all fit in there, I’ll never figure.

They loved to take baths and they love to peep. The boys sing when the girls are around. The boys even sing for me when I come into the room.

I split my flock in half with my friend a couple of years ago.  The zebra finch had died, and we only had the society fiinches and their children. I kept one favorite that was crippled – she was so crushed in the nest when all the 6 brothers and sisters were born, that her leg didn’t develop right.. So spent her life hobbling around the cage.

Anyway out of those 7, we had a few that started dying of old age. The cat jumped on top of the cage once, knocked it over, and we had two casualties. One got his claws stuck on his nest and he died a tragic death upside down on the basket (since then  no more woven baskets for them, even though they love them so.)

Then we were down  to three last month. One morning I saw the crippled one on the bottom of her cage. By evening she was gone. It was a really sad day, and I buried her in my herb garden. Two finches remained, a tawny girl and a brown boy who always sings to me. The girl went into mourning for over a week, burying her head into herself, and wouldn’t come to eat. She finally broke out of it and was ok for about a week. She finally passed away yesterday morning, either from old age, or from a broken heart missing her crippled girl friend.

All that is left is one boy. I would, in a heartbeat, be at the store buying friends for him. However, my husband, son and daughter — all of them do not want the birds in the house any more. Only my son has spent the time to actually look at them. He helps feed them and sometimes likes to pick them up. He is good at chasing them down if they escape! But he’s 17 now, with no more interest in keeping the tiny creatures. They’re too messy for the small enjoyment he gets from them, I think.

Finches are social creatures – they need other birds to thrive. This little boy that remains has sat on one perch, still, alone, peeping for the his lost girl companion. It’s extremely sad. I want to run right out and buy a couple more, but don’t want to go against my family’s wishes – it will cause problems with everyone complaining at me, and I don’t want to do that. I want them to say to me “Oh enjoy your hobby – go get another couple of birds, so the finches and you will be happy.” instead of “Get rid of those birds!”  For someone who supports everyones’ interests in my family, regardless what they are, I do get resentful if I’m not supported in mine (although many!) It’s not fair if you get supported if your interest is only quiet, clean and doesn’t bother anyone else in the slightest way whatsoever.

In the meantime, little boy finch sits quiet,  alone in his big cage on his perch. Too quiet. Today I will put him into a smaller cage and bring him upstairs by my computer where he can be near me. Perhaps, by chance, I can convince my husband somehow to allow me to bring him home a couple of friends.

Sum…sum…Summertime!

When the weather gets warmer we get busy! I’ve not had the time to post here so much. I hope you are doing well!  Here’s some of what I’ve been up to recently:

House/Garden

  • Raised bed gardening – built them, filled them, planted and now have stuff growing! Picked lettuce and sugar snap peas already. Have tons of tomatoes coming!
  • Trying to widen the driveway. I’ve not done any work on this this year, but have gone to the masonary a couple of times with my husband to look at brick, etc. Time consuming.
  • Taking care of my lavender and herb garden.
  • Painted the deck and cleaned up
  • Had a yard sale last weekend – exhausting!

Gaming – Yes you have to make time for some gaming!

  • Was playing Runes of Magic and Allods Online when Sony’s EverQuest 2x was down. It’s back up now and I’m so into it I can’t get back to the others! My sister joined and we’re having fun decorating our EQ2 houses and questing in Butcherblock Mountains. 🙂 Maybe I’ll make a post on my characters some time.

Family and Pets

  • My mom was in the hospital these past few weeks – she had pneumonia. She’s ok now but it scared us all for awhile.
  • Today I worked out some computer help in exchange for tutoring for my son for Algebra II (something he had troubles with this year). She’s going to help him with that and some SAT prep, for as long as we can pay for it. She’s the one that suggested the bartering and I was happy about that. She needs some help with this program she’s installed and I’ll help figure it out and train her to use it so she can decide if she wants to buy it. My hours there in exchange for the tutoring she’ll give him. When I run out of hours, we have a bit of money from recycling metal that we can use for the tutoring, probably once a week this summer for him until school starts. Unfortunately I doubt we’ll be able to continue it once school starts but we’ll see. One step at a time.
  • Kitty – our kitty cat was REALLY sick last month and the month before. I thought he was going to die. But the vet down the street got him back on track and he slowly recovered over time. We’re very happy. He still has fleas though. UGH. Not as bad as last year. Frontline is helping but we haven’t been able to keep that on schedule due to financial constraints.
  • Finches – I had three left of what was once a 14-finch flock. Gave half to a friend, then the seven we had slowly died (old age, couple of accidents, etc.) The crippled girl we had (she was so cute!) died of old age about three weeks ago. Finches are social birds – the more the better. All I have left is a girl and a boy. The girl mourned her dead friend for almost two weeks. She barely came out to eat, and just tucked her head in her feathers for days on end. The boy called her and also comforted her. She finally broke out of it and is ok again, but I thought I’d lose her too. I would love to adopt some more, but my son and husband don’t want the birds anymore. They take up a lot of space, are messy, etc. But I love them and want more.  They’re sweet, not a lot of work and are fun to watch and they talk with me! The boy sings to me when I come in the room sometimes, too.
  • Looking to switch my husband’s job into something he can do himself. Looked into festivals but was thwarted at every turn. It’s so difficult to break into. Looking into vending from a cart or mobile unit now, but having problems figuring out how to get the money to do that. Thinking of selling the truck. *sigh* It seems so silly, if we’d have not gotten the truck in the first place we’d have had some money before. Now that we have the truck paid off, it seems foolish to sell it for partial the amount of money we put into it.

Techie Stuff

  • BlackBerry PlayBook – my husband is playing with this thing more than me! Until they release some more productive apps, I only pick it up to read the news, check if they have any new productive apps, update the software, and watch some videos sometimes when I don’t feel like being on the computer. I tease him that it’s his now. He does use it way more than me – mostly for Facebook. Barf.
  • Building a computer – my son needs a new computer. He’s using my old ABS machine (7 years old at least!) and still working well. It just can’t handle recent games, and is just having problems doing much at all. It’s time for that good ol’ machine to be converted to a media pc or storage system or something. So we’re planning on building a new system. It’s cheaper, and it’ll be a project from which my son can learn something.

 

 

 

Runes of Magic Review

I’m a former WoW player, but don’t want to go back (subscription fees). I paid for years and can’t even see my characters unless I pay again. They’re held hostage! All those hours I spent belong to Blizzard, not me.

I tried a free trial of RIFT and loved it so much, but knew it’d be the same subscription hazard that I’d run into with WoW, and I’d be unhappy eventually. (working hard on being wise with my money!)

So I went out digging for some other MMOs to keep my mind off wanting to play RIFT. I found EverQuest2, Allods, and Runes of Magic. All free games – all really great in their own way. All have their own shortcomings too but so does WoW or other paid MMOs.

Runes of Magic starter areas (Elf/Human) are charming, as is the music. I was surprised how much nice gear you get, as well as a starter mount for a day (so take full advantage of that whenever you make a new character and make sure you can play for a day!)

There is cute player housing, but it’s tied in to the Item Shop. If you want to spend money in your games, make sure it’s somewhere you can get enjoyment out of it again and again.  I’ve not bought anything in there yet, but there are mannequins in which you can show off your favorite gear, and equipment racks (for that favorite sword!) There’s plenty of in-game storage space between your bags, the storage locker they give you for your house, and your bank. I’m a hoarder so I’m sure that I’ll start to overflowing soon.

It’s too bad there are only two races, but the class and secondary class combinations would keep anyone busy for quite some ime.

Their crafting is great – you can take ALL the crafting+gathering skills in the beginning (kind of required if you want to make some of your own starter stuff). Later I read that you specialize in one specific profession.

This is definitely a game to check out if you’re a former WoW player, or if you’re younger and have been playing stuff like MapleStory and want to try a more full-featured MMO that’s fantasy-based.

More game reviews to come later!

Related:

For the techies, there’s a podcast called RoMCast. The game’s Community Manager covers things like upcoming changes to the game and class discussion. If you play the game, try it out!

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I’m a Winner

The New BlackBerry PlayBook

Yesterday I found out I won one of 10 new BlackBerry PlayBooks from the RIM folks:

and the other 5:

We had to write up to 10 haiku, via Twitter, to @BlackBerry with a #PlayBookHaiku hashtag in the tweet. The haiku had to follow the 5-7-5- rule, and have either BlackBerry or PlayBook in the poem.

I love writing haiku so it was really a fun and quick little contest for me, and I knew I had a good chance of winning one of the PlayBooks. I realized I had an even better chance when I looked at PAGES of #PlayBookHaiku entries. Either they didn’t follow the 5-7-5 rule (what the heck is a haiku?!), their entries were kind of stupid: “Hey I wanna win a Blackberry”, or they wrote haiku without the word BlackBerry or PlayBook in the poem. Sometimes these contests are all about following the rules.

The BlackBerry folks sent me a DM saying they’ll post the winning entries on their blog sometime next week. I can’t wait to see which of mine was picked, and to read the other folks’ winning entries.

Here are all 10 of mine. I’ll edit this post next week and mark the entry that was the winning one. Don’t steal them for your entries for the next #PlayBookHaiku contest – make up your own original ones, ok? And don’t laugh too hard – some are so silly.

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Sit back and relax
Under the pink sakura
enjoy your PlayBook

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

I open the box –
“New toy” excitement brimming!
PlayBook from RIM.

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

BlackBerry PlayBook
Winter, spring, summer and fall
Four seasons for love.           <——-If anyone has watched Avatar: The Last Airbender – you’ll know the “Four Seasons” song.

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Pink, gently floating
A cherry blossom petal
Lands on my PlayBook

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Frog jumps into pond
A splash of water!
Protect my PlayBook      <— reminiscent of Basho’s famous frog jumping into pond haiku

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

You call me a geek
As I hold my new PlayBook.
Call me what you want.

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

News. Mail. Games. Books. Apps.
It all comes together now.
My life. My PlayBook. <<– Looks like this one was the winner; they mentioned they loved it in the Congrats letter they sent with the PlayBook

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Relaxing morning –
French pastry, a cup of tea
and the new PlayBook

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Hand-cradled PlayBook,
Oh BlackBerry BlackBerry
How I do love thee.

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

Sleek black PlayBook
the newest BlackBerry crack
should be wearing shades

╰⊰⊹✿ ✿⊹⊱╮

What Would You Name It?

hat’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.

~ William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Last night my husband told me: “Go buy some wholesale plants; let’s get you selling them at the Farmer’s market, etc. etc.” Since I can’t seem to find work in my field any longer, I need to generate some income again. Last year it was my goal to get quite a few things growing, take the seeds, start them this year, and sell (at the farmer’s market, from home, on Craig’s list, etc.) However, it’s easier said than done. A lot of the herbs I planted didn’t grow. Some grew but not well enough/large enough to seed. We worked on so many things last year that I couldn’t pay specific attention to planting and caring for those seeds and seedlings.

So, in order to get me doing something to make money, my husband said we’d go buy some starter plants so I can at least get going on this idea and try it. It will take awhile to get a garden going where I can cull my own plants and seeds from it to sell.

So I have to get a business license if I want to buy wholesale. Then, here comes the kicker – I have to think of a business name. Show stopper here. I’ve been collecting words and garden-type business names for over a year, and have come up with nothing creative, cute, or simply just nice, that fits! We started throwing around words and names last night. I’m not creative like that. That’s why I started last year saving ideas, and my short list leaves a lot to be desired.

I like these words:

  • sunny
  • seasons
  • flowers
  • meadows
  • blackberry
  • patch
  • lavender
  • fields
  • idyllic – folks may not know how to pronounce; what it means
  • birdsong
  • summer
  • sky
  • bees
  • leaf
  • mountain (abundance)
  • green
  • fields
  • spring
  • path

I’ve been playing with  combinations of these words, adding other words, i.e. Sunny Gardens, Sunny Sky Gardens, Sunny Day Gardens…you get the idea. Also doing things like Bloomin’ ____ Gardens (Bloomin’ Fool, Bloomin’ Nuts haha you get the idea). Nothing seems to strike me.  Maybe you can help with some ideas.

I would sell vegetables, flowers, herbs, and seeds in the future. All organic, eventually heirlooms. So the name can’t be just a flower name, or an herb name, or a vegetable name. “Tomater Tom’s Garden” but I’m selling lavender seeds – is that even ok? I don’t know that it’d work as well as something general.

If you had a gardening business, what would you name it?

Have a bloomin’ day!