29 December 2009

One New PC

I got a new PC for Christmas, but it wasn’t on my wish list. It was a “gift” from the worst malware I’ve ever encountered, which hit my PC on Christmas Eve. By Christmas Day, things were so bad I had to reformat my hard drive, reinstall Windows, and start rebuilding my PC from scratch. Thus, one new PC.

Luckily, I had done a massive backup on Windows Live SkyDrive in June, and I’ve been doing spot backups monthly, so I didn’t lose everything. The worst losses were lots of photos and ALL of the work I had done on my book in December, which is ironic since I hadn’t touched the book for months. I got excited about it again and *poof!* it was gone. Whatever. What can I do but start again?

Of course this experience has taught me to backup important things more often, but it has also changed my views on antivirus software. Before, I didn’t think I needed anything but the free version of Malwarebytes, but I now know otherwise. I’ve added avast! and SUPERAntiSpyware to my arsenal, providing me with (I hope) the holy trinity of PC protection. All three programs have free and fee/upgrade versions, and all are recommended by Geeks to Go.

True to my typical bright-side outlook, I do like my new PC better. It’s one lean, mean, clean, clutter-free machine, all set for 2010.

22 December 2009

One New Solstice

The solstices are always important to me, but this year’s winter solstice (21Dec) seemed especially important. This December feels like a major turning point in my life and in many of my friends’ lives as well. Maybe yours too? It’s as if the changes of 21Dec2012 are already starting. (That date is also a solstice and the end of a cycle lasting about 5,125 solar years, known as the Mesoamerican Long Count.)

Maybe not, but solstices are still turning points. The winter solstice marks the time when the days start getting longer instead of shorter (the return of the Sun). It’s a time for writing your goals for the coming year—not resolutions, but goals and big wishes in the personal, present, and positive. It’s also a time for writing what you no longer want onto little pieces of paper, then burning the pieces as you say goodbye... or going outside and speaking your farewells into your hands, then blowing them into the sky.

Since I update my goals and wishes weekly rather than yearly, I rewrote my list this week with a bit more spice and specifics than usual. It was fun! As for saying goodbye, I think most so-called negative things are in our lives on purpose, so I didn’t say goodbye to many things. Just things I think are on their way out anyway. Lessons I humbly hope I’ve learned.

I also, for the first time, got to see Aiken’s sparkling winter wonderland known as Christmas in Hopelands. Over 100,000 lights? Yes, yes, there are, along with holiday music throughout the gardens, free refreshments (donations accepted), and a teensy-tinsy old house (the Dollhouse) you can walk through. But the main thing is the lights. If you’re in the area, the last night to visit this year is 26Dec. If not, here are my photos.

19 December 2009

One New (Temp) Job

Yep, I’m working. It’s intermittent temp work, and it pays considerably less than what I was making before, but it’s work. I’m thrilled. Also, it’s in the communication/publishing industry, so I’m even more thrilled.

In fact, intermittent work seems like a good bridge into fulltime work, considering I’ve been out of work for 18 months. Of course I’ve kept my days structured throughout those 18 months (no daytime TV addictions here), but my structure at home is no match for a 40-hour week in an office... as I discovered this week. This week was a full 38 hours plus the two hours I spent having my car’s battery replaced. ($280 for a battery? Did they have it couriered from Munich in a silver case?)

Between Erle Wilhelm’s (my car’s) battery issues, and learning a new data management system at work, I’m drained. But it’s a good kind of drained. I’m lucky to be working with a great group of people, and I’m lucky to be working.

08 December 2009

Christmas on the Cheap

For the few Christmas gifts I bought this year, my budget was $5 or less, per gift. That may seem impossible to you, but if you know where to look, you can get a lot for $5. You can also get nice stocking stuffers for nothing but seconds of your time—by requesting free samples. Here’s where I “shopped” for Christmas ’09:

$5 magazine subscriptions from Hearst (Amazon sometimes offers similar deals)

$5 off (promo code 20077) a $10 bath/mug gift set from ULTA, plus other deals, depending on your purchase (check their homepage)

Free samples from Vocalpoint by becoming a member (it’s free) and providing short reviews; so far I’ve gotten a full-sized jar of an Olay product worth $50, along with other great products

More free samples from...
Sweet Free Stuff
Sweetie’s Swag
Walmart’s Free Samples
Wise Bread’s Best Deals Today

Happy holidays! :)

01 December 2009

One New Roost

On Black Friday, my friend TJ came over from Atlanta to visit me and to see Augusta. We had planned to do the Jingle Bell Jaunt, which was a scavenger hunt of sorts, throughout downtown, but the cold weather changed our minds. We thawed out at the New Moon Café, then drove across town to browse a bookstore, eat lunch, and watch a two-dollar movie. There was no shopping madness for us, except for the small fortune TJ spent on a coin she had been trying to find for thirty years.

At the bookstore, I browsed the Personal Growth section to see if my self-help book idea has any competition. I didn’t see anything, but an online search might dredge up something. TJ bought a kiddie DVD and a Star Wars puzzle for her son, maybe out of guilt for the coin purchase, or maybe just being a mom.

At the movies, we enjoyed Julie & Julia. The voice got a bit irritating at times, but the story was good. One of my favorite parts was when Julia tries the food in France for the first time—I dream of that myself. I also loved when Julie flips out over getting her first blog comment that isn’t from friends or family. I reacted similarly when that happened with my blog. It’s probably a universal blogger moment.

Speaking of writing, this was only my second trip to the Washington Road location of Books-a-Million, but I can see it becoming a place to roost while I work on my book proposal (and book). Books and mags all around. Built-in café. Two-dollar movies across the parking lot. What’s not to adore?