The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Monday, March 31, 2003

More Observations about "The Sims"

Well, it's obvious that I still have A LOT to learn about The Sims and the respective expansion packs I own: Livin' Large, House Party, Hot Date, and Vacation. So much for my idea of creating a fan page Ö it would be more redundant than unique. Just look on any search engine, and there are sites with all sorts of advice, cheats, and downloads.

There are two websites that I've subscribed (30 day subscriptions) to that have tons of objects, skins, walls, floors, roofs, etc. for any Sim fan to download. They are: Well Dressed Sim and Sim Freaks. There is a third site I am considering subscribing to: The Sims Resource. The subscriptions, in my opinion, are worth every penny. Why? The cost is extremely low and the downloads offered for subscribers are high-quality files. Why did they resort to being paid subscription sites? They became so popular that they exceeded their bandwidth allowances. It costs money to run a website; the more popular your website, the more bandwidth is used, the more money it costs the site owners. These people work hard to design and create these things; paying a subscription fee to offset the bandwidth cost is a more-than-fair trade-off.

This is not to take away from the sites that have Sim downloads for free: 7 Deadly Sims, Moniís Sims, Sultryís Earth. I've downloaded files from all these sites, and they work on my computer.

Right now, I have installed on my computer: The Sims, Liviní Large, and Hot Date. I have NOT installed House Party nor Vacation yet. With all objects, skins, walls, floors, and roofs downloaded in addition to the program and expansion packs installed, it takes up 1.7 GB of hard drive space. I wonder just how much hard drive space would be taken up if I install the other two expansion packs?

If you visit the official Sim's website, there are registered fans who have gone so far as to create screenshot story boards for everyone to view, read, and vote on.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Product Review Ė Whirley Pop vs Stir Crazy

I get periodic e-mails from PopcornPopper.com featuring their products. They have a lot of products I would love to order and try out, but there is one item Iíve had bad experiences with: the Whirley Popô popcorn popper. About five years ago, I purchased a Whirley Popô Popcorn Popper from another company. I quickly regretted making that purchase. It is NOT worth the $25.00 I paid for it. The pot is cheaply made using very thin aluminum. The hand crank, allegedly designed to ensure that the popcorn kernels pop quickly and evenly, was awkward to use. You still have a considerable number of unpopped kernels left AND you will still have scorched popcorn stuck to the bottom of your pot. Aluminum pots make the best homemade popcorn (and I still have my good one), but the Whirley Popô is the exception. Other people may be able to use that contraption to their satisfaction, and I hope that they continue to do so. Speaking for myself, I loathe that product.

I did find a popcorn popper that is worth every penny spent on it: The West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper. You can get it for $34.99 plus shipping at CooksUnlimited.com. It is easy to use and easy to clean. Just plug it in, and the removable rotating arms smoothly and continuously stir the popcorn in the oil to ensure an even distribution. The popping lid becomes a bowl Ö nothing could be simpler. The bowl and the arm are dishwasher safe, and the base is easily cleaned with just the wipe of a dishrag. My friends Lin and Rodney Quates introduced me to their (eight-year-old) Stir Crazy last January, and it was love at first bite. One month later, I received my very own as a birthday present from Aunt Mavis (well Ö she gave me the money and I ordered it off the Internet).

Thursday, March 27, 2003

E-mail Accounts/Rainy Days

CNN.com is reporting that Microsoftís Hotmail is limiting the number of e-mails that can be sent out to 100 e-mails within a 24-hour period. My personal opinion? Thatís still being too generous. I think a limit of 50 is more reasonable for a free account. Anyone who needs to legitimately send more than 50 e-mails a day needs to have a paid account, not a free account. For those who are using the accounts to send cute fuzzy feel-good chain letters, with all due respect, they are a waste of bandwidth. I will be the first to admit that I do not like getting chain letters. In fact, my e-mail is set up to delete at the server any e-mails that contain the words, ďForward this to everyone on your listÖĒ

Remember the e-mail hoax that stated that we would soon be charged a small fee for every e-mail sent out? Iím starting to think that may not be a bad idea. It would cut spam down considerably. Iím sure I belong to a small minority who believes that, but when youíve had your fill of junk e-mail Ö I like my Spam sliced and fried, not in my e-mail box. Yes, I subscribe to various e-mail newsletters featuring recipes and advice for webmasters, but I opt-in for them. I choose to receive them in my e-mail box.

I like the way Yahoo.com helps to fight spam Ö you can report individual e-mails as spam with just a couple of clicks of the mouse. Of course, I think Iíll stick with SpamCop. Itís $30.00 a year for an account, but itís worth it. By the way, did you know that Classmates.com will not let you use your SpamCop e-mail address in your account? SpamCop seems to have banned all e-mail coming from their servers. Talk about things that make you go hmmm Ö I was going to upgrade my membership with Classmates.com to gold, but after I found out that my SpamCop e-mail canít be used, I changed my mind.

In other news ...

It has been raining today. We had a few days of sunshine, but now itís raining again. People think Iím weird because I seem to thrive on rainy, dreary days than bright sunny days. No, I'm not into the goth movement. Itís cooler when itís overcast. Here down south, the temps can easily shoot up into the 90ís and 100's, and the humidity makes the heat even worse. Itís been nearly 28 years since we moved to Waycross from San Diego, and Iím still not used to the heat and humidity.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Videobus Projects/Online Store Dreams

I've been playing with my videobus and have been making video stills of my personal videos (video diaries).

The page in memory of Tiffany has finally been uploaded. I kept trying to find a good picture of her, but it wasn't until I got the idea to use video stills and make a montage that I was finally able to complete the project. I'm wondering if I should make a page in memory of Muffin ... she was a major part of my life in high school and after. Despite what many people say about poodles, Muffin was lovable. Even my sister commented that she didn't like poodles in general, but Muffin was an exception because she wasn't raised to be a prissy, conceited dog.

I'm still wanting to create my own store on my website. However, I'm not sure if I want to use Cafe Press or Avon or another company. I've discovered a low-cost way of creating and maintaining an online store without the overhead that many shopping cart companies charge. I've been getting quite an education from a friend of mine who has an online store. I can understand why some onlines stores go broke and disappear off the web.

Friday, March 21, 2003

A Week in Review for March 21, 2003

Another week has ended, and I have two days of rest and relaxation. As usual, I will probably spend most of it on the computer.

I've been avoiding television since the war with Iraq began. I guess it's just me, but I can't understand why everyone is so glued to watching coverage of the war. I don't want to see everything that is going on. Yes, we seem to be kicking butt with very little collateral damage, but the footage of the anti-war protests in our country and the other countries bother me. These protests are getting out of hand and people are getting hurt. The protests by the citizens of France especially bother me; as much as we've done for them historically, and they obviously don't appreciate it.

I understand that numerous Canadians at a hockey game in Montreal booed when our national anthem was played before the game Thursday. That was uncalled for. I do appreciate the apology by the president of the Montreal Canadiens To be fair, I think the American fans in Atlanta were out of line to boo O Canada in retaliation for the beforementioned incident in Montreal; two wrongs don't make a right. Even if we were playing the french, this is not the venue to be demonstrating our feelings. The fan should not have bought a ticket to the game if his/her sentiments toward the country represented by the opposing team are that negative. This is supposed to be a professional game of fair competition between two teams; political activism has no place here.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Very Rude Waitress!!

Some of my coworkers and I met for lunch at a local restaurant Friday. What was supposed to be an extended get together for lunch turned out to be a less-than-pleasant experience. Our waitress was rude and attitudinal. I overlooked my first encounter with her, thinking that I might have just misinterpreted her behavior. However, by the second time she came to our table, I couldn't mistake her actions. After she left our table again, I turned to my coworkers and asked them, "Is it just me, or does our waitress seem to be rude today?"

They confirmed my suspicians. Two of them stated right then that they were not going to leave a tip. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. We all have bad days, and maybe she was having one herself, maybe not realizing that it was affecting her demeanor. I debated as to whether to leave a note of encouragement with the tip so that maybe she'd realize how she was acting. I thought about directly asking her about her mood ... something like, "You seem to be having a bad day. Are you going to be okay?" On the other hand, I had another observation that I kept to myself: I wondered if the waitress was being rude to my other coworkers because they were black. I was the only white person at the table, but I still got the same rude treatment.

The third time our waitress came to our table, it was to clean up behind one of our coworkers who had to leave to go back to work. Not once did she look at us or ask us if we wanted anything else ... not even a refill on our drinks. By that time, I had casually observed how she interacted with other people in the restaurant. She was pleasant to the other customers, but not to anyone at our table. That is when I realized that she wasn't having a bad day, she was being deliberately being rude to us. As much leeway as I was trying to give her, even that crossed the line with me.

After she left, two more at our table left to return to work. My supervisor and I were the only ones left. He proceeded to write out a check for his meal ... without adding a tip. I still wasn't finished eating, so he told me he'd see me back at work in a little while. He walked up to the cashier, paid for his meal, and left. Shortly afterward, I finished eating, wrote out a check to pay for my meal ... without adding a tip ... and went to the cashier to pay for my meal. Just as I was starting to stand up, the waitress came back to clear off our table. She didn't say good-bye, see you later, come back soon, kiss my butt .... nothing!

As I approached the cashier to pay for my meal, I told her that I didn't really want to say anything, but I had a complaint about our waitress being rude to us at our table. The cashier surprised me with her response: she said that our waitress had already told her about us. I raised my eyebrows in surprise as she continued to tell me that our waitress told her that we don't tip.

HUH???

Although I was taken aback by the response, I tried to remain civil. "Okay, I cannot speak for the other people at my table ... they are my coworkers and they were nice enough to let me join them for lunch. However, I have always left a tip when I've eaten here before. This is the first time I haven't, and it is only because I was put off by her behavior." The cashier tried to assure me that the waitress probably didn't mean it personally toward me, but she said the other people at my table do not leave tips.

My response was, "Well, I didn't want to say anything, and I didn't know if my supervisor said anything before he left." The cashier said, "You mean that man that just left? No, he doesn't tip, either."

I thought about that for a couple of seconds. What she said was a lie. I've eaten with him before at that same restaurant, and I've seen him leave tips. He is well known in town, so the fact that she wrongfully associated him as being a non-tipper bothered me. However, it was obvious I was not going to be able to convince her that she was wrong. I said my goodbye and left the restaurant to return to work.

I informed my supervisor of what the cashier said. How did he react? Can you say LIVID? He immediately went to his office to call the restaurant to speak to the owner; he got the same cashier I spoke with earlier. I didn't hear the entire conversation, but it was obvious the cashier was getting "an earful." There was another coworker in my office who heard the same thing I did, We both were looking at each other with eyes wide open. I kept saying with a degree of remorse, "Oh shoot, he's pissed! Oh shoot, he's pissed!" He told me that he didn't get the owner, but he would let him know next week about the situation. Knowing that something I told him made him angry, I told him that I didn't mean to upset him or make him angry. He reassured me that I did the right thing. I hope so. I'm not the kind of person who likes to stir things up and get everyone upset.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Family Get-together/Uncle Billy

Our family had the monthly birthday dinner get-together again yesterday. I call it a mini-family reunion, LOL! We had four people who had birthdays this month.

My uncle Billy is the only uncle still living whom I have known my entire life (most of them I didn't meet until age 10 when we moved from San Diego to Waycross). I'm now 38,and he continues to amaze me. He'll sometimes bring some super-long balloons and an air can to make balloon animals ... just for the hell of it. He had the full attention of one little girl who was having lunch with her dad. Uncle Billy used the air can to blow up a purple balloon, then started twisting it in certain sections to create a balloon dog. That little girl started giggling with delight while she watched him. All of us at the table were watching him and the little girl. When he finished, he handed her the balloon, to which she happily accepted. Her father, obviously pleased at the joy Uncle Billy brought to his little girl, thanked him. Uncle Billy was later approached by one of the waitresses wanting to hire him for a birthday party.

He was the one who appeared on Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor." He spoke about his experience in dealing with the West Nile Virus. He sure was a handsome man on that camera ... a 72 year old man with a full head of hair who does not look or act his age. But, I'm getting off the subject here. Uncle Billy has always been a strong man. He rarely got sick, so we were all worried and scared when he had to be hospitalized for an ailment unknown to us. It was only after he recovered and was released from the hospital that it was discovered he had West Nile Virus. You see, it takes two weeks for the test results to come back. My uncle was a lucky man.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Computer Fun with More Memory!

My CPU was ready for me to pick up Monday night. It now has 384 MB RAM instead of the original 128 MB RAM. It used to take 4 minutes to start up; now it takes less than 2 minutes. Why my Outlook Express still takes 15 seconds to initialize when I open it, I don't know. I have noticed that these memory stalls I used to have when I opened programs are virtually non-existant now. Even my CD burner doesn't have that annoying "stall delay" that would frequently occur while a program is loading and/or running.

I think I'm going to try my videobus program again and make some photos from my various home videos to update the site's photo album with.. Who knows? I might even put up a link for a quickie video of me doing my infamous "eye trick."

My Sims' expansion packs came in yesterday: Livin' Large, House Party, Hot Date, and Vacation. So far, I have loaded Livin' Large and Hot Date. I want to get used to them first before I install the other two. To be honest, I would have been happy with just Livin' Large, but I couldn't beat the price; I got all 4 of them for the price of 2. I will be creating a Sims page featuring wallpaper and floors of my own creation for Sim fans to download. I'll also list some observations I have made about the game as to how some Sims seem to interact with each other. In reference to my recently increased memory capacity, the more objects you have loaded in your gamedata folder, the longer it takes the game to initially load ... memory size is irrelevant at this point. I have so many objects, skins, wallpaper, and floors downloaded from various fan sites that it takes a looooooong time to start up. It's worth it, though. I'm addicted to the game.

I do have a rant about the Sims' CDs: I cannot make copies. This bothers me because I like to make one set of copies to use while I archive the originals someplace safe. Then, if the copy gets damaged, I can take the original and make me another one to use. I'm very protective of my software and music CDs ... It doesn't take much to scratch and ruin them. There are legitimate uses for CD burners: backing up data on your hard drive, making copies of your own CDs to use (thereby protecting the originals from damage from use and/or abuse), and taking your favorite songs from your various CD collection and burning them onto one or two CDs for work or car trips. I understand that piracy is an issue, but I don't appreciate these companies trying to restrict my ability to make a copy of something I own for my own use.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Goodbye Lorri Brownlee

I found out Monday that a good friend from my former job passed away this weekend. Her name was Lorri Brownlee, and she died from breast cancer. I really though the world of her. I don't want to believe she's gone. Her funeral is this Saturday in Lilburn, and it looks like I'm not going to be able to go (five-hour drive from Waycross). The Satilla River is having flood warnings, and we're less than a mile from the river.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

I've Got a Secret/Computer Woes/Human Shields

But first ...

Have you ever surfed E-bay and found these sellers who have various items for auction for ... say .... 99 cents, but the shipping and handling on the item is $10, $15, even $20?? Doesn't that make you mad? It makes me not want to do business with these people. I'd rather they have a decent mark up on what they're offering and charge what the shipping and handling truly is. Yes, people might be drawn to the low price, but that shipping and handling (in very small print, I might add) is (or should be) a turn off.

Anyway, the secret is that I found the website that sells these items wholesale for those who make these purchases and sell them on Ebay. I'm going straight to the source from now on. I do not want to patronize anyone who feels the need to greatly inflate shipping and handling charges to make a profit. If you've been ripped off by one of those sellers, e-mail me and I'll give you the URL to the company.

In other news, the memory chip for my CPU has to be ordered from Hewlett Packard, and the technician told me it would take two to three days normally for the chip to arrive. Since I strained a muscle in my back yesterday evening carrying the CPU from my truck to the mall, I think it can sit there a few more days. I'll just hold off playing The Sims or making major changes to the websites until I get the CPU back. At least I'll have 384 MB of RAM when I get it back. I can hardly wait!

The sun came out for a little while today ... just enough to make everything muggy! Everyone keeps talking about how they're ready for spring, but I actually dread it: pollen, bugs, humid weather ,,, did I mention bugs?

Found out last night that some of the human shields are making a hasty retreat for home. Read about it here. I'm still stunned by the remark to the effect of, "We realized that we might be in danger ..." Can you say, "Duh?" What the hell were they expecting????? Don't get me wrong ... I'd like to avoid war if at all possible, but I just don't think it's possible. If we don't take out Saddam now, it will cost us and the rest of the world a lot more later on. He is a cruel, selfish, dangerous, evil man.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Computer Withdrawals

You know you're getting too attached to your computer when it's been at the computer shop for only two hours and you feel apprehensive because it's gone.

Seriously, the memory on my HP was seriously taxed. Among using programs like Paint Shop Pro 7, Animation Shop 3, Video Wave 4, Microsoft Movie Maker 2.0, and The Sims was just too much for a computer system using Windows XP and having 128 megs of RAM. I took it to the local computer shop this evening to have more memory added to it. I probably could have done it myself, but the labor is only $20.00 and the installation is guaranteed. It's funny: I've installed two ethernet cards and a CD burner, but I was too unsure of my abilities to install memory. Go figure!

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Bathing Munchkin/Abandoned Animals

Rain! I love rain! Now, if the ground would just absorb it faster ...

Munchkin got a bath today. Dad tried to do it, but she'd get under tables so he couldn't reach her. By then, I had gotten out of bed and had come down the hall; she meekly crawled toward me so I could pet her and give her some attention. I looked at Dad and said, "I'll give her a bath." He asked, "How are you going to do that?" My response was, "Because I'm about to pick her 60-pound fuzzy butt up and carry her into the bathroom." He laughed and said, "If you can do that, go for it!" Munchkin wanted to growl at first when I picked her up, but she got wise and realized she'd better cooperate. She did fine once I got her in the tub. She doesn't like baths. I think it's because of the trauma she experienced as a puppy when she was found in a water-filled ditch between Valdosta and Waycross. Poor thing nearly drowned.

Which brings me to my rant: Yes, she was an abandoned puppy who was found and taken home. She was one of the lucky few. Of the other puppies that were rescued with her, she and one other are the only ones who survived. People who abandon defenseless animals should realize that they're subjecting them to a long torturous death by starvation and dehydration. Even if they do survive, their lives are harsh. They also create a population problem ... more strays, more babies ... you get the idea. Just because they're animals doesn't give us the right to mistreat and/or abandon them. And I really loathe people who abuse and/or torture animals! If they'll do that to animals, they'll to that to people as well. I view people like that as a threat to society.