Saturday, October 22, 2005

I Hate Sewing Machines...

OK, so it's been a bad week when it comes to my relationship with sewing machines.

I already told you about the problems I had with the cheap one I bought (and later returned) to Shopko... well, today, we went to our friend Kathy's house to use her machine -- a machine that cost her $1200 when she first bought it, lo these many years ago!

I spent an hour and a half sitting at the thing... took me a bit to change the thread on it from the white that was already loaded to the blue that matches the material I was going to sew first. I figured, you know, I already cut out all the pieces, all I had to do was sew 'em together, and maybe two hours after starting, it'd be ready, except for maybe some alteration.

So, 90 minutes (and about a dozen thread-breaks) later... I'd sewn the sleeves and 3/4 of the main body. I needed Kathy's help to finish sewing the main body piece, and the collar on the shirt still needs hemming, as do the sleeves, and the sleeves have to be sewn onto the shirt, and the insignia sewn on, as well.

And that's just to finish the shirt!

I still haven't even started sewing on the leggings and trunks, nor the boots, nor hemming the cape and putting the insignia on it... to say nothing of the alterations that may be needed, and adding Velcro and elastic where required!


So, what am I going to do? Well, to be honest, I don't know.

I do know I'm frustrated enough with sewing machines that, if I'm going to finish the costume by next Saturday, it'll have to be hand-stitched, which takes time, but you know, I could've done the same amount of work hand-stitching as I did machine-sewing, and been just as far (and I wouldn't have had to re-do sections where the material slipped and the stitches weren't going in straight).

Jessi plans to go on a bike ride tomorrow -- a 50 mile one -- and I think I might see how far I can get on the costume while she's out riding.

Prior to her going on the ride, we have a few other things going on... firstly, there's the 9 am dog walking that we traditionally do on Sundays, followed by breakfast. Then, we're going to see about putting down some grass seed in the back yard to get the bare spots re-growing.

Ah, but I believe I skipped a whole bunch of stuff from Saturday, didn't I? So let's backtrack.

Jessi had a small gain this week, equivalent to my small loss, when we went to our Weight Watchers meeting. Everyone was thrilled to hear about our getting engaged, however, so that kind of balanced it all out.

After WW, we took the dogs for their 9 am walk, and then we made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things needed for breakfast. Then was breakfast (Jessi had my low-calorie Egg McMuffin and baked potato slices, while I did my kicked-up home fries, also low-calorie). It was after breakfast that we went to Kathy's house. After we came home from there, we had lunch (eating the last half of the Subway sandwiches I'd bought for dinner Friday night), and then we got going on some laundry and did a little straightening up before getting showers, and heading up to Tacoma to meet my parents for dinner at the Sizzler in honor of Jessi and I getting engaged.

Dad paid for dinner, and Jessi had the Lemon Herb Chicken with the salad bar, while I had the 10 oz. steak with the salad bar (she chose baked potato, I chose seasoned rice for my side -- maybe it's just this location, but I wasn't impressed with the rice, and wish I'd had the baked potato). The salad bar was good, as it usually is... but I would've probably been just as happy with getting just the salad bar, which is what my Mom ordered. Dad went for ribs.

My parents gave us a nice card and a gorgeous picture frame, which we'll need to take a new picture for.

After dinner, we went to my parents house so Mom could show off her new kitchen floor (she's been remodeling the kitchen, hoping to have it done by Christmas), and we showed my nieces Christi and Alisha Jessi's ring, while nephew RJ wasn't interested (they're my sister Debi's kids, and they live at my parents house, in case you're keeping track of my family ties).

Before getting back home, we made a slight detour... a new Dollar Tree location had opened nearby our house, and we had to check it out -- finding 10 items to purchase.

What can I say? We love dollar stores and clearance stores... you never know what you'll find there, and we almost always find things we've been thinking about getting, or just plain need. When budgets get stretched as tight as ours do sometimes, you've got to use every edge you can get!

Then it was back home, and some one-on-one time for Jessi and I before she went to sleep. I wasn't quite ready to hit the hay myself, so I had a quick smoke in the garage, and then read some emails, and wrote up this blog entry!


Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Night Update...

OK, got the mini-reviews for the week done... now for an update on my personal life!

So, last night, Jessi konked out a bit early, and I went to the 'puter to blog and stuff. After my posting, I saw that KO had broken out in hives, and I was concerned, but it was very late, and it didn't seem enough to worry about to take her to an emergency vet.

Well, at about 3 in the morning or so... or maybe it was 2... Jessi woke up, because KO was whining and pacing all over the bedroom. She also saw the hives, and naturally, was concerned. I was so out of it, I thought it was more like 5 am, and she was waking me up to mention this while she was getting ready for work! I suggested she give KO some allergy medicine (forgive me, my brain's tired tonight, and some things aren't coming to me as easily as they normally would, or I'd mention the brand name... it's a very well-known brand of allergy pills, I just can't come up with it right now), which we've given the dogs before when they show allergy symptoms (KO more than Krypto). I didn't know it at the time, but she and KO went to the living room, and she laid down on the couch, while Krypto and I stayed in the bedroom.

I awoke again at 3, and realized it was earlier than I'd thought before. The pill Jessi'd given KO calmed her down a bit, and I think she got some sleep... I'm not sure how long Jessi stayed up altogether. I promised that I'd take KO to the vet first thing in the morning.

So, after I got up this morning, and read emails, did my daily websurfing of the usual sites, I grabbed a shower, and put Krypto in his crate, and took KO to Banfield Veterinary Clinic at PetSmart. The vet agreed it was an allergic reaction, and the course of action was to give her two different shots, and they wanted to keep her there for a while, to make sure there were no further problems. I got an estimate of the cost -- about $60 -- and updated Jessi as to what was going on.

Jessi's cash situation is a little tight right now (she's paid once a month, on the last workday of the month), so I offered to pay the vet bill (which means that I didn't have enough left in my budget to go to the Seattle comic book show this weekend, but there are priorities, after all). Leaving the vet, I went to Shopko to return that sewing machine (which went without a problem). I still had almost an hour until I needed to be at work, so I headed over to the local Cash and Carry store.

If you've never been in one, Cash & Carry is kind of like the grocery section at Costco, except without the membership requirements, and they do take credit cards. I didn't want to spend too long there, so I just grabbed some big cans of cooking spray (a necessity for those of us losing weight), a 12 1/2 pound bag of popcorn (air-popped popcorn is a staple for us), and some aluminum foil sheets. I would've liked to have looked around longer, but I wanted to get back home and let Krypto out to go potty before heading to work.

I picked up KO on my way home for lunch, and it was amazing the difference in her health... the shots they gave her got rid of the hives entirely, and she was her old self again! Krypto was glad to see her when we got home.

Work went well today... a bit slow at times... and since it was Friday, I was done early. When I got home, Jessi was taking a nap, so I decided to let her sleep for a while longer, and I took advantage of the dry day to mow the lawn. Well, I mowed most of it... all of the back yard and the side yard, with the front yard left before the mower ran out of gas (naturally, I hadn't refilled the gas can yet). The clippings were distributed over bare spots in the back yard, to help in the regrowing of grass.

Next on my agenda was to see about getting things started for dinner. I figured I'd make fish, but I'd forgotten to start it thawing... so I prepared a marinade and put the fish in a glass casserole dish to thaw... and it was still frozen an hour later, so it went back into the fridge, to be cooked later this weekend.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. I still had a few things to do for the costume, namely, prepare the insignia, which was just a matter of ironing them onto the white material, as I mentioned the other day. Then, I continued reading Michael Eury's book on Dick Giordano, which I finished at about 7.

By that time, I figured I should wake Jessi up. Since the fish was still frozen, I offered to run over to Subway for dinner. Jessi suggested I take Krypto with me, since I took KO out earlier. Well, I hadn't been to the comic shop yet this week, so I figured if Gabi, the owner, was in, I could pick up the new comics, and Gabi could see Krypto at the same time! Gabi loves Krypto, and the feeling is mutual.

From there, it was a stop at Subway, and then home. For "dessert" we had cheese popcorn (still only 2 points for six cups -- this is why it's a staple snack for us!). Not long after that, Jessi was ready to go to sleep.

So, this weekend, coming up... Saturday morning, of course, is our Weight Watchers meeting, followed by walking the dogs. Then a quick stop at the grocery store, then home for breakfast. Then, we're off to our friend Kathy's house to sew up the Superman costume, back home for lunch, and then watching this week's Smallville and last week's Teen Titans (both of which I taped). We may make a run to Tacoma to have dinner with my family in honor of Jessi and I getting engaged.

Sunday's original plan (going to the Seattle comics show) has been scrapped, so that day is open, relatively speaking. If Kathy's sewing machine doesn't have a heavy-duty enough needle to sew the boots, I'll have to do 'em by hand, and that'll probably be what I do on Sunday.


Mini-Review Time!

Just a short batch this time around... One Marvel book, and a few DC books!

She-Hulk V. 2 #1: Yay! The Dan Slott version of She-Hulk is back! I tell you, I've missed this title... can one hope that, instead of it being just another 12 issues, it'll be a continuing thing? OK, review part: If you liked the previous volume of She-Hulk, you'll like this. If you didn't read the previous volume, give this first issue a try... it's good stuff!

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #2: The newest recruits to the GLC are put to their first test as trainees... particularly the recruits from Thanagar and Rann, who have to learn to put their planets' political differences and hatreds aside. Plus, lots of goodness with Kyle, Guy, Kilowog, and the rest of the GLC gang! Things are building up to something (it does seem as though things are going to tie in to INFINITE CRISIS here, but I can't quite see how). Look, if you are buying and reading the new Green Lantern title, you're probably getting this book, right? If not... well, I'd definitely recommend it.

Justice 2: The second issue of Alex Ross' JLA vs. the Legion of Doom story is just as good as the first issue, with lots of great visual "Easter Eggs" and a compelling tale... the pieces are still coming together here, and we can't quite see where things are going... with some villains doing good, and others up to their old tricks! I do find the portrayal of the Riddler here very interesting... and I wonder if what's been revealed about him here was ever portrayed anywhere else?

Seven Soldiers: Klarion #4: Hmmm... okay, so there is a resolution of sorts to this miniseries... Klarion's grown from his experiences throughout this mini, but I have to be honest, I'm pretty lost when it comes to seeing how this fits with the other Seven Soldiers minis... and next comes all the new miniseries! Oh, wait, isn't there still one issue left of Zatanna?

Superman 222: OK, this is an OMAC PROJECT aftermath issue, and clearly this and the next issue take place before (well, next issue takes place during) INFNIITE CRISIS. The marriage between Clark and Lois is on shaky ground, thanks to Clark trying to "protect" Lois by not letting her know what's going on... and then he makes matters worse when he further tries to protect her! But fortunately, things between them are better by the end of the tale. IMHO, the marriage between Lois & Clark should be the strongest one in DC Comics, and hopefully, future writers will avoid the easy path of trying to put problems in the way of this relationship.

And that's it for this week's reviews! Told you it was a small batch!


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thursday Night Update...

So... where to begin? Well, first of all, thanks to those of you who've sent your congratulations about Jessi and I getting engaged. Would it that all I have to blog about tonight was so positive...

Did I mention I'd bought a sewing machine earlier this week? I figured it'd be more convenient to sew the Superman costume at home rather than have to go to someone else's house and use their machine. Shopko had one on sale for $25, and I guess that was too good to be true... the first one, when I opened the box, was missing the instructions and the accessory kit, as well as the foot pedal! So I returned that... or rather, exchanged it. Last night, I got the new one out of the box, and check, everything was there. Including the instructions... which were very badly photocopied.

I tried to follow them, and get to stitching on the shirt of the costume, but it just wasn't stitching. After an hour of fruitless attempts, I gave up for the night, and tried again this morning... without any more success. I hit the company website, and downloaded an Acrobat copy of the instructions, and printed them out. During my lunch break, I tried it again, and I still couldn't get it to work right. So after getting home tonight, and starting dinner, I packed the thing up, and will be returning it tomorrow. Perhaps if the instruction book hadn't been written assuming that you knew exactly what you were supposed to do, and instead had some useful illustrations, there wouldn't have been any problem.

So, tonight, after Jessi went to bed, I went ahead and cut out the material for the leggings, trunks, and boots, and made the belt buckle (which won't be the real buckle... the belt will attach with Velcro in the back). It should all be pretty much ready to sew together at this point... which we'll do on Saturday, going to our friend Kathy's house to use her machine. I just hope her machine has a heavy-duty needle, or I'll be hand-stitching the boots (which I'm not really looking forward to, but if that's what's needed, I'll do it).

I still have to iron on the insignia to the material I've got for them... but I'll probably do that in the morning, so it'll all be ready.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Anticipation is Over...

Sorry I didn't post this update last night, but our wireless network was being wonky...

I got off work early Tuesday night, at about 6, and had already called Jessi to let her know we would be going out to dinner. Of course, there was no secret as to why we were going to dinner, but I played it as if it was. I originally thought we'd go to Applebee's for dinner, but they'd just opened a new Ram location in Olympia, and Jessi figured if we were going out to dinner for the reason she figured we were, she wanted a steak!

We had a 15 minute wait for a booth, and Jessi ordered a steak and baked potato, while I ordered the baked chicken dijon with french fries (I was still trying to eat healthy, while keeping a celebratory mood... the chicken was very good, but the flavor stayed in my mouth for an hour after we left). After we got our drinks and ordered, I popped the question... I had a bit of a speech planned, that in my head was going to cover everything I wanted to say... but as best I can recall now, this was the gist of what I told her last night... (and for those of you new to this blog, or who don't know me at all... Barbara was my first wife, who passed away a few years back)

"When I lost Barbara, I didn't think I'd ever really be happy again. But meeting you, and getting to know you, I'm happy again. So many things that have come up between us that would've been a deal-breaker for other relationships have only strengthened us, or didn't have any effect. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?"

Of course, Jessi said yes! So now, I can officially refer to her as my fiancee.

When we left the restaurant, she tried calling several of her friends to deliver the news, but most of them weren't answering their phones! I'm sure by the end of today, however, she'll have filled in everyone she can think of.

In other news... last night, I created the patterns for most of my Superman costume... that is, everything but the boots, which I still need to figure out how I'm going to assemble them. So far as the tights go, I purposely designed the patterns so that I had lots of extra room in them... rather than making it 100% perfectly fitting. I figured this would allow me to alter it once I've sewn it and tried it on, and can see exactly what needs to be tightened, and where!


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Another short note...

...before I head back to work. I went to Target to buy a new wallet ('cause Krypto chewed up my old one, see post below)... and while there, I hit the toy department, and was lucky enough to find the last of the Target Exclusive JLU toys I needed! Now I just have to find the one with Aztek and Sinestro, and I'll be all caught up!

I tried Shopko to see if I could find that one there, but they didn't have any of the three-packs... but they did have this sewing machine I think I mentioned before, so I bought it ($24!) and some pins. I've got a roll of leftover paper at work I need to remember to bring home tonight, which I'll use to create the patterns on... so work should begin on the Superman costume tonight!


Jessi's Rings

Originally uploaded by waffyjon.
A brief post here before I head back to work... here's a photo of the engagement and wedding rings I bought off of eBay for Jessi, which arrived today!

According to the original auction description these are "14k WHITE GOLD LADIES WEDDING/ ENGAGEMENT RING SET .53ct DIAMONDS"

Jessi will be getting the engagement ring tonight... as I plan on taking her out to dinner after I get off work!

I'm 100% positive she'll say yes... after all, we were originally going to look for rings together!


Tuesday Update!

So, how did my Monday go?

Fairly well, actually, all things considered. As I've mentioned before, the newspaper I work for was acquired by Knight-Ridder back in September, but it wasn't until this weekend that the file servers were switched over.

Naturally, this meant that the systems department had to make some changes in how things are set up, which meant that I lost about an hour or so of productivity when I first came in, as they were still making adjustments to our Macs, and I still had to set up Outlook at work to use my new work email address.

Things were a bit slow, even after the delay... one of the sales people is out for a few days, so the person he works with had to handle a group of ads by himself, making for delays in getting work to do. But it all eventually came in, and things were going smoothy... until about 5:30 or so, when the file server we use got full.

You see, the person in my department who does archiving is in vacation until today, so there hadn't been any archiving done for about a week or so. Yeah, you'd think our server would be large enough to deal with that, but it isn't, obviously (I did joke about do we need to hold a bake sale to raise funds for a bigger server). That left us with another hole of time during which we couldn't get anything done... but we ended up finishing on time anyway.

So, last night, I got home, helped Jessi finish making her dinner (I do all the cooking for us, and Jessi's just plain forgotten how to cook more than, say, a simple egg sandwich. Yes, I spoil her, but she deserves it), and we watched some Law and Order: Criminal Intent until she was ready for bed.

After she went to sleep, I retired to my office, and watched TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, the tribute/parody of THUNDERBIRDS and shows like that from Gerry Anderson, from the creators of South Park. Did I love it? No, I can't say that... but it was entertaining, and I'm probably just as glad I didn't go see it in the theatres (I know for sure Jessi wouldn't have liked it). After that, I did my nightly posting to the DC History list (this month, each weekday, I'm posting covers of the first 10 issues of various horror/monster/mystery books... last night was House of Secrets).

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my sweet puppy, Krypto, chewing on my wallet. Specifically, starting to chew on my check card. I stopped him before he got too much damage done on it, and it should be usable, but that means I'll need to buy a new wallet. (sigh)

Doing a check on the FedEx website, I see that Jessi's ring will be delivered today... or at least, they'll attempt delivery. It's been on the road for an hour and a half so far. I was originally going to do a bit of shopping before heading to work, but now I plan on waiting until 10 to leave, just in case they come by. I'm sure that they'll be looking for a signature in order to deliver her engagement ring... so timing may be off. I'll probably end up missing them this morning, and finding a notice on the door when I come home for lunch, letting me know they attempted delivery. Hopefully, if that's the case, there will be a phone number I can call, or a location I can pick it up at... because tonight would be the perfect night to give the ring to Jessi and propose officially, as I'm usually off work early on Tuesdays.

In other news... I'm still reading my purchases from the Portland Comic Book Show. This morning, I was reading Fantastic Four Visionaries: George Perez Vol. 1, which reprints a bunch of George's work on the FF from the 1970s, all written by Roy Thomas (dunno why Marvel couldn't put Roy's name on the book's cover, but I guess the Visionaries volumes focus on the artists, not the writers... of course, in the case of the Simonson Thor and Byrne FF volumes, they're both). The stories were pretty fun, although there were some jarring developments here and there, as issues were skipped because Perez didn't draw them, so that during one storyline with the Brute, we have a story in which Reed Richards is trapped in the Negative Zone while the Brute (Reed of Counter-Earth) has taken his place, and the very next story has their roles reversed! Sheesh.

Before reading that TPB, I was reading other books, as well... such as a bunch of Infinity, Inc. and Power of Shazam issues, and a few others, too. Now that I finished the Perez FF volume, I'm back to the comics again, reading Superman Adventures. The next TPB would have been The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, which I also got at Portland, but I just now looked at my bookshelf, and discovered that not only had I already replaced that before... I'd already replaced it with the Hardback edition! Sheesh. I suppose that means I'll be putting it up on eBay sometime soon, along with a bunch more clothing that Jessi and I have shrunk out of.

This also means that my next TPB reading will be The Essential Luke Cage, Power Man, which is the last of the TPB reprints I bought. Of course, there's still Michael Eury's Dick Giordano book to read after that!

Plus there's still about a six-inch stack of comics from Portland, too!

This coming Sunday will be the latest comics show at the Seattle Center, in the Northwest Rooms. I'm definitely going to be attending that (it'll be the last comics show in the Puget Sound until April's Emerald City show), and I'm still deciding what my budget will be for that... probably at least $100. Jessi will be going with me to that one, and we'll see if we do anything else in Seattle while we're up there.

By Saturday, I'm supposed to have the patterns created for my Superman costume, and have all the material cut out so we can go to our friend Kathy's house (a fellow boxer owner) to use her sewing machine to stitch it up. However, I did notice that Shopko's got a sewing machine on sale right now for about $24, which is awfully tempting... then I could just work on the costume at night after Jessi's asleep, and not tie up some of our all-too-short weekends working on it. Of course, the costume absolutely has to be finished by a week from Saturday, which is when the Bones & Treats takes place, and the world sees Krypto in his cape for the first time! Of course, I will take photos... especially since I'm sure there will be other ersatz "Superdogs" there (last year, I remember seeing one costumed pooch whose owner made the cape by basically cutting a long triangle out, and cutting the top point off, and the insignia was drawn on felt with a magic marker... kind of embarassing to look at, and I hope for their sake that dog's owner takes a different route this year, because Krypto's cape and collar kicks seven different kinds of ass!). I guess we can think of those Krypto wanna-bes as Bizarro Kryptos, eh? (Yeah, I know, I'm being very judgmental here... and sounding like a snob, but darn it, I'm very proud of my dog, and proud of the cape I made for him! He looks great in it, too, if I can get him not to chew on it)

Well, that's about all for now... more updates as time and events warrant!


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weekend Wrap-Up!

OK, now to tell you faithful readers what went on since my posting earlier today...

Jessi spent most of the day fooling with her MP3 player, as I'm sure you can imagine (I think she has a handle on it now). We did need to run some books back to the library that she checked out a while back, so I figured we could make a few more stops on the way... first we went to Hollywood Video, where we took advantage of their 3 for $30 previously-viewed DVDs. We got six altogether, including Sky Captain and I, Robot, as well as two that pretty much were Jessi's choice, and then just for me, Godzilla Vs. The Sea Monster, and Team America. That latter one is a movie I wanted to see in the theatres when it came out, but didn't... so I'll get to see it now! Well, not tonight, obviously!

We also popped over to PetSmart (next door to Hollywood Video) to see about getting a second dog bowl for their food, as Krypto and KO can't seem to eat out of the same bowl anymore (they kind of take turns). PetSmart didn't have the same color in stock as the first one we got, so we left without buying anything.

Then it was off to the library, and then we made a quick run to Kmart, so I could try to find one of those JLU figure sets I need--and that was a bust. They didn't even have the Krypto figures at all!

We did get some low-point snacks, though, so that trip wasn't a complete loss.

Let's see... I forget now if it was before or after that trip... probably before... but we took the measurements for my Superman costume. For your own reference, in case you plan on making your own costume, here's the measurements we took:

Shirt Measurements: Back, Shoulder to shoulder, from armpit to armpit. Chest, all the way around, pretty much right under the pits. Arm length, from shoulder. Shoulder (actually opening for sleeve). Bicep. Wrist. Forearm. Collar (basing it on the collar line on Superman's costume). Ribs (all the way around). Front length (from collar to waist). Shoulder front to waist. Then from collar to chest line, chest line to ribs, ribs to waist (to help plot the widths measured above).

Shorts: Side (from belt to where the trunks end). Crotch (all the way around). Waist.

Leggings (some measurements will also be used on the boots): Shorts hem to thigh, thigh to knee, knee to calf, calf to ankle. Leg length (sum of the previous measurements, from outside), Ankle, Calf, Thigh circumferences. Inseam.

During the coming week, I'll be trying to get a roll of scrap paper from the office, to use to draw out the patterns, using the measurements above as the basis.


This 'n That, aka Weekend Update!

So, another busy weekend here at the Knutson/Reier Residence...

Friday night itself was fairly loose and casual here... both Jessi and I were stressing a bit about the Saturday weigh-in... Jessi because she was about to get to her next sub-goal, and I... well... I need to explain a bit more.

Friday morning, I stepped on the scale at home, and it showed a two-pound loss from last Saturday. I was feeling pretty good about that, but when I got to work, I found out that not only were two of the sales guys (a pair we refer to as the "dynamic duo") were bringing in lunch for my department (which I knew about in advance) but a different pair of salespeople were also bringing in pizza for us! So, first the four foot long sub arrived (which I had about 4 inches of), and then the pizza (which I had 1 piece of -- veggie lovers, to be exact).

It was enough to not only offset my loss, but also bring me to a gain. Sheesh.

Saturday's daytime was very busy... we had a lot of stops planned, and still had to get home in time to clean the house before my brother Jeff and his wife, Kristi, came over for dinner. First stop was Jessi's bank, so she could deposit the bills check from me (we keep exchanging the same amount of money every two weeks... the first of the month, she gives me her share of the rent, then two weeks later, I give her my share of the bills), then it was off to Lowe's because we needed lightbulbs and a small rug to put under the dog's water bowl (Krypto is very, very messy when he drinks, and there's almost always a puddle on the floor by the bowl). From there, we were off to Sprint, so Jessi could change her plan, I could pay my cell phone bill, and I bought us both new headsets (I was originally only going to get one for her, but I needed a new one, too, and all accessories were buy one, get one half off).

From there, we headed to the west side of Olympia, first stop Toys R Us, because I'm still trying to get the last two of the current JLU figure sets I need. TRU was a flop there, but I consoled myself by buying two more Krypto the Superdog toys (the one with Krypto and Kevin, as well as the Streaky toy). So far, those are also remaining in the package.

Then it was off to Goodwill, where we both hoped to buy new (well, new to us) raincoats, but there was no luck there at all. Then to Target, where I still couldn't find the JLU figures I wanted, but we did get some other stuff (Jessi got a new jacket and rain pants, I got some different popcorn seasonings, two Beatles t-shirts, and a few other things that escape me right now). From there, we moved on to Circuit City, because Jessi wanted to get an MP3 player, and she had her heart set on an iPod.

The salesperson we talked to there... well, let's just say their approach to talking her out of an iPod wasn't the smoothest, and the way she kept changing her story on costs and so on made us think she didn't really need our business.

Let me give any of you who work retail sales a tip -- when someone comes in your store, and they say they're interested in item A, don't immediately tell them that, despite the fact that you sell 100 times more of item A than item B, and have 10 times more accessories for item A, that they'd be making a huge mistake not buying item B instead. This salesperson's biggest argument against iPods was that, out of the, oh, let's say 1,000 they've sold out of that store, three of them came back with defects (which would be .3%, not a bad number, considering).

So we went over to Best Buy instead. Jessi ended up going with a different MP3 player after all, but she got it at Best Buy because the salesperson she talked to there was more knowledgeable and more trustworthy. Still, we had to take a break and go to Subway for lunch before she made up her mind.

We got home, and she immediately tried to get her new MP3 player charged and install the software. Now, we still had to clean house (which we did), but she was anxious to play with her new "toy". Understandble, no? Well, by the time my brother and his wife came over for dinner, her player wasn't charged, and she was feeling frustrated because the software wasn't loading properly. Fortunately, my brother Jeff is a PC geek, and he was able to manually load the software, and we finally got it running properly... or so we thought.

The four of us had a great evening together, and Jessi and I went to bed early (for me) and late (for her). After Jeff and Kristi left, she was trying to upload the songs she got from her free Napster To Go trial to her player, but it wouldn't work.

Then, at 4 a.m. or so, she woke me up to announce that she was going to return the player she bought. "OK fine, we'll go back to the store," I said, or words to that effect.

So at 8 a.m., I woke up again (for the day, this time), and I learned she'd changed her mind again (don't ask me to explain why, I still can't figure it out myself), and she was going to keep it, assuming she could get the Napster songs on her player. I finally got her to agree that she needed to use Napster's software to do it, and when she launched it, she found out she needed to update the firmware for her machine... again (we'd just done it Saturday night).

But it's all working now.