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notice to spammers and LJ abusers

Someone tried to friend me; and when I went to see their page it crashed my computer. I will be reporting it. I am really tired of comment spam and related issues on my LJ. So this is a public notice. If you use my LJ for such purposes, you will be reported and hopefully LJ will pay attention. LJ is a place that I have been using for nearly seven years. I started my journal as a public journal. I now use it in mixed form. I don't tolerate bullies.

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disappointment with LJ

So LJ does not let me mark comments as spam when I delete them anymore. I am not happy with this at all since I have deleted several commentes plugging what looks like porn sites from my public posts lately. This is really souring me from blogging on LJ, at least with public posts. If anyone knows anything about this, I would appreciate a comment.

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about spam and getting work on freelance sites

I've been getting more and more of the following kinds of comments on my public blog entries: "Keep on doing whatever it is that you do because it is something that such a person like me likes it." Or, "What a great resource." I am not even unscreening these--they're often on entries where I've shared pieces of my personal story. I do this for a reason, and at one time in my life it actually seemed to have a beneficial effect for people who read, as indicated in the comments. This is actually how I met many of my LJ friends--I am not active in many communities, and I link my other blogs to my web site. However, I do not post my blog entries in order to be spam breeding grounds, and I'm getting really tired of this stuff.

Now if this entry generates a "what a great resource" comment, I will be amused, though it might be appropriate since I'm going to reveal how I actually got work on a freelance site. I still won't unscreen that nonsense.

On to the topic du jour... I have been attempting to get work via Elance again. I swore it off last fall after getting my first job, which turned out to be someone who didn't want to work via the Elance system at all. What a mess! There were other issues with that particular job having to do with my personal situation, and I ended up feeling like I might spend my whole month attempting to get work and never land anything that would make it possible to even cover the cost of the membership.

I decided to give it another try, this time revising my strategy a bit. I updated my profile a bit; and I started paying attention to the already submitted profiles on jobs I wanted. I can't see the bid amounts; but I can see the bidders' locations and the first couple of sentences of their pitch. If I see that the bidders are all international, I might have a higher chance of getting the job, especially if the written English is poor and I am bidding on a writing or transcription job. I am also learning the art of writing the sales pitch that doesn't sould stupid. It really has to go at the top, and then I introduce myself; and that is a mistake that probably a lot of people are making. The jobs are going to companies who are starting their bids out by saying, "We do this, this, and this fast." So I started mine out by saying, "I know your field and will give you blah blah blah." I got the bid.

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allergy relief product review

Stage 2 has begun in my allergy cleaning frenzy. I attacked the house with Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Dust Mite Spray. This comes in a round 32-oz bottle with a sprayer. The sprayer is detached when it arrives; and I just unscrewed the cap, put the sprayer in, and screwed its top on. I have a lot of places to work on in terms of dust in this house, so this will be a long process. I am impressed with the initial work.

My top dust annoyances are my Yamaha keyboard and the top of my Juliet braille embosser. The keyboard usually takes a fair amount of work to get the dust out of, and I have to do this every few days. I applied some of this spray to a rag and went over the keys; and it was dust-free in one treatment. Likewise after treatment of the rest of the top of the keyboard. The embosser top took a little more work; but I have never been able to get the dust off the top of the case, and it is now dust-free. (I would not go near the electronic parts of the machine with this stuff, ever.)

It seems to be doing nicely on desktops and the mantle. What remains: windowsills. I will also give it a try on my mattress pad before putting on clean sheets. I have another product to try today: allergen-removing laundry detergent. I'll post about that separately--I haven't kicked the cats off the bed yet.

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another update on the air purifier

This is another update on the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. I have now been running it for a week and have vacuumed twice. Normally, I track the need to vacuum by the severity of my asthma attacks and the amount of hair and cat litter on the floor. This brings me to the point of my update.

I have had only two asthma attacks this week. I did not feel the heavy, obstructed feeling in my airways that I normally feel. Instead, I felt a little tightness and shortness of breath. It was uncomfortable, and I was tired; but I didn't feel that I couldn't function. In the first case, it took 18 hours before I realized what was going on. The second time, I had a better idea what was going on, and instead of treating first, I ran the vacuum cleaner and put some de-allergy treatment on the dog. I will treat momentarily; but doing these things resulted in some relief. There was much less hair on the floor than there has been in the past and much, much less litter around the cat boxes.

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the kitchen meme

1. What is your favorite kitchen tool?
I've never thought in terms of a favorite tool... I have a particular knife that I use because it is easy on my hands. I also have a veggie chopper from Pampered Chef, and it gets a fair amount of use. My favorite thing in the kitchen is probably my coffee press--I enjoy creating drinks for people.

2. What is your favorite spice, or blend of spices?
Garlic and onion, hands down, though I will pile other stuff on top. I have had to limit some spices that I used to love, and that truly breaks my heart--I used to eat a whole lot of basil and oregano.

3. Are you a "by the book" or an "Invent along the way" kind of cook?
Very much invent, though I am having to learn new ways of cooking so am going back to recipes in order to learn some basics so that I can start inventing again based on what I can eat.

4. Dishes-- do them as you go, or at the end?
It depends on the day and what I am making and how I'm feeling.

5. Why do you cook?
Any number of reasons. I love to cook for other people, but I don't get the opportunity much. Right now my cooking is very much about feeding myself, and it is depressing.

6. What is your favorite condiment?
Bbq sauce is probably the only one left that I can still eat, and this in extreme moderation. I used to love mustard and Worcestershire sauce; and my favorite thing was to make recipes that allowed me to mix them.

7. Do you cook sweet or savory things?
Both! And I love to do big meals that allow me to serve everything!

8. Which cuisine is your favorite to cook?
I really don't have a favorite. Most of my recipes are midwestern, down-home cooking; but I like to do different things. I grew up in Houston, so I like spice. Give me chili with beans! My niece loves my burritos; and I have a reasonably good home-made spaghetti. I would love to learn to cook Chinese at some point--if I could still eat any of it.

9. Electronic gadgets, or elbow grease?
Elbow grease. Electronic when I'm in too much pain.

10. Is your kitchen organized, or cluttered?
Mostly organized, though I have a very tiny kitchen.

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air purifier update

This is an update on my adventures with the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. I cooked breakfast meat at too high a temp this morning and set off the smoke alarm. I have been moving the air purifier around from one room to another depending on what is going on--right now I'm using it to dissipate the haze in the kitchen from the breakfast meat cooking. The back bedroom is in great shape, and the bathroom is not doing too badly despite being in need of a little vacuuming. One thing I have noticed significant improvement in is the condition of the cat boxes. I have two self-cleaning cat boxes, and I check every day or two for clumps that have gotten stuck. The sticky gunk on the bottom of the box is gone and there is just litter there for the cats to use. This tells me that the machine is picking up the ammonia from the air and surfaces, so I can scrape the boxes for clumps that don't get automatically cleaned as needed but I doubt they will stick so badly. Over time, I expect quite an improvement in odor control. I will be purchasing another of these units to leave in the bathroom so I don't have to move this around.

I have not nebulized in two days. I am somewhat irritated after the breakfast meat cooking incident, and I should cook it on lower heat next time to avoid smoking up the house. But being generally able to breathe is very, very nice. Nebulizing would increase my general stability. I just needed a break from everything medical and am glad I could take one without hurting myself in the process. My sinuses are clearing, and that almost never happens--my airwys are probably too overloaded from one day to the next to allow for clearing.

Still happy.

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    air purifier in the kitchen
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Hamilton Beach air cleaner review

I am posting this as a public post in case someone needs the info; so a little back story is in order. I live with severe allergies to cat and dog dander, molds, pollens, dust and dust mites, etc. I have three cats and a dog guide and have so far managed my pet allergies with vigorous regular cleaning, de-allergy treatment of my animals, etc. However, I recently found myself wearing an allergen mask in my home because smoke from my neighbors' leaf-burning project was blowing into my house despite my windows being closed. I had been considering purchasing an air purifier; but that was when I made my final decision. Finding the right machine was going to be important for me--not only did it need to do its job well, but it also needed to be fully usable for a person who is blind.

I bought a little ionizer in 1996 and was fairly disappointed. It is still sitting in my closet, and I have not touched it in years. It has a filter that needs to be cleaned every so often--I cannot tell when the filter is clean or not clean because it is essentially a sponge filter. The machine has an off/on switch but the ionizer is controlled by a button that is just a toggle, and a light comes on to indicate whether the ionizer is running. It leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility. It is also horribly loud--I couldn't tolerate it.

So I went into the project of buying a new machine with a lot of demands. I have cat boxes and a lot of pet dander in the house, so I wanted to see reviews by pet owners. I wanted to find something with accessible controls if possible. And I didn't want to be replacing filters all the time--I can't afford it.

Enter the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. From reading the info on Amazon and other review sites, it seemed that it might fit the bill for what I was looking for. I could spend a lot of money to get a machine big enough to do my whole house; but realistically it might be bettter to run little machines in each room since I can't afford a big machine and since I'm not really dealing with an area that is open-concept. So I started with one machine and thought I'd move it around between the two most-affected rooms and see how it does. Right now that means it is alternating between the leaf-smoke and cat box-affected back bedroom and the bathroom, which also has a cat box in it.

I ran it for a couple of hours in the bedroom last night and then moved it to the bathroom overnight. I slept well for the first night in weeks and woke up rested and ready to get up, no joint pain, no overwhelming depression, no hacking cough. I can actually feel air in my lungs. The bathroom doesn't smell like cat box or mold/mildew at all--I can deal with being in there without feeling like I need to open a window (which is the last thing I need since I'm allergic to everything out there). I had enough energy to vacuum the entire house instead of having to do it in phases. I will move the machine back in here and run it during the dday, and I think I'll get continued improvement over time.

The machine is not overpowering in terms of loudness. I am running it on high at the moment. It is like a fan on the mid setting--it sucks in air from the room, cleans it, then blows it back out, so some noise is unavoidable. On the low setting, I can tell it is on, but it doesn't bother me at all. I wouldn't run it if I was recording something that required absolute silence; but it doesn't generate any more noise than my Netbook fan.

The control is just a knob that clicks into place for each successive setting: off, low, medium, high. Getting the filter out is rather complicated--I really can't describe this well, and I had to do it in order to remove it from the plastic wrap it came in before use. Now that it is out, I think I can just vacuum-brush it for cleaning. We will see. The reviews say that this only needs to be done every few months. I'll know when the air stops getting filtered.

So far, I'm quite impressed.

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the dog guide at home

When I talk to people about my dogs, they often assume that my dogs are by my side 24 hours a day. Since Loretta is currently rolling on the floor at the opposite end of the house, I suppose it is a good time to debunk this myth.

I have had dogs in the past who preferred to hang out near me when they were off duty. Loretta is not one of them. Perhaps this is because she feels secure and likes to amuse herself where there is lots of space (in the living room). On the other hand, perhaps she just needs a break from me. I sure need a break from being around the same person after so much time!

Loretta doesn't exactly make her work easy. She is extremely in tune with my emotions as well as my physical state. I have chronic pain and neurological conditions in addition to blindness; and these things affect the way that I travel. None of this tuning is a part of Loretta's training; but she chooses to set her pace according to her apparent opinion of my safety needs. She is always right. I imagine this makes her life a bit more stressful than it might be if she was simply guiding--she is thinking about more than just her guiding responsibilities.

She also engages in this tuning behavior at home. If I am talking on the phone and my voice gets animated for any reason, she will come and check me out to see if I am ok. If I am just excited, I give her a clear-to-play signal, or include her in the excitement, and she settles down. If I am painful or upset, she will stay with me until I settle down. I suspect this also increases her stress level, and she certainly deserves and needs her lounge time in the other room. And I am certainly all right without her.

Oh, and by the way, Loretta is also used to being tripped over... She doesn't exactly go out of her way to get up when I come through the area. This is a trait that all of my dogs have shared. I think they must be doing their best to convince the worle that either dog guides aren't really so fragile or else that blind people aren't exempt from having to get around whatever is in our way. People seem to make a habit of jumping in front of me to clear things out of my path that they're afraid I will trip over... I might trip over the person one day... Perhaps it would be a good idea to take a lesson from Loretta. I have quite a bit of experience getting around objects--and beings--that don't move out of my way.

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