In-app purchases: A rant. 💸💸💸💸💸

I play Game of Thrones: Conquest.

It’s a really fun game.

And I just accidentally made a $99 in-app purchase.

Seriously. $99.

This does NOT make my bank account – or me – happy.

“Sal? How did you accidentally make an in-app purchase?!”

Game of Thrones: Conquest opens to the purchase window. The first thing they display is the big one, for $99. You get all SORTS of useful goodies for that $99. But I never, ever, EVER spend that much in one go on an app. Today, I wouldn’t have even spent $4.99! I try very hard NOT to make in-app purchases. But today, I had my thumb on the button when the app opened, and it took my thumb as intent to purchase. And – AND – it went through, because I wasn’t looking and didn’t cancel fast enough.

Now I’m going through the whole “get the company to refund my money and take back their goodies” thing, and I can’t play my game, lest I accidentally use something I just bought.

The moral: Keep your thumb off the damn button until the app finishes loading! AUGH!

Screwdrivers vs. prybars, and other safety stories… 🔨🛠‼️

I saw a meme this morning that got me thinking. The meme had a picture of a screwdriver, and read:

“If it looks like a screwdriver, feels like a screwdriver, and turns like a screwdriver, it IS a prybar. ALWAYS use a screwdriver as a punch, chisel, or prybar.”

Except, IS and ALWAYS were taped over the original words on a SnapOn “The Right Way Every Day” hand tool safety poster.

Screwdrivers, quite simply, are not prybars. The big ones might work like one in a pinch, but you’re way better off using a claw hammer, or – *gasp* – an actual prybar if you need a prybar.

Why wouldn’t you want to use a screwdriver as a prybar? Because you can break the tip on the screwdriver – especially if it’s a cheap one – and the tip can fly up and cause injuries to all sorts of things you don’t want hurt – especially your eyes.

Screwdrivers aren’t punches either, although with drywall, with nothing behind it, a Phillips screwdriver can be used as a punch – in a pinch. But you’re better off using an actual punch, or a drill, if you need to put a hole in something.

Why? Same reason you wouldn’t use a screwdriver as a prybar. You can break the screwdriver. Say you’re trying to punch a hole in drywall, but there’s a stud behind where you put the screwdriver. The screwdriver bends. You’re out a good screwdriver.

Stud finders are much more useful for locating studs in the wall than knocking on it and listening for hollow spaces, or punching a screwdriver through the wall repeatedly until you hit something.

And as for using a flathead screwdriver as a chisel… again, they may look similar, but they aren’t the same thing. Chisels are made to cut things; they’re sharper than screwdrivers, sometimes considerably. Your screwdriver might work, in a pinch, but again, chisels are harder than screwdrivers, especially cheap screwdrivers, and you don’t want to break your screwdriver.

Trust me, a bit of metal in the eyeball is NOT a good idea!

If you do have to do any of these things, for $DEITY’s sake, use eye protection, and no, your glasses do not count! Make sure everyone around you is using eye protection too. It’s generally safer – and less expensive – to just go get the right tool for the job.

On Hex Wrenches and the hexes they make us want to use on them… 🔨🛠

Hex wrenches (also known as Allen keys or Allen wrenches) are used to drive bolts or screws that have a six-sided socket. There are two styles of hex wrenches: metric and Imperial (also called U.S. customary, or SAE).

Why is this important?

You want to make sure you use the right tool for the right occasion.

An SAE wrench in a metric bolt will not fit properly. Neither will a metric wrench in an SAE bolt. Sure, you can use one that’s a teeny bit smaller, and angle it, but then you’re running the risk of stripping the bolt.

Here’s the thing – you can strip (damage) any screw or bolt by using the wrong tool to try and put it into or remove it from whatever it goes in. Strip it badly enough, and you need specialized tools to remove it.

A basic hex wrench set, in both metric and Imperial sizes, is a good recommendation for any tool kit.

Clutter vs. Aesthetics… a war story

I’m sure you’ve read all about how to de-clutter a place. I have too. And I would sincerely like to de-clutter my apartment (which I usually call “the Flat,” as I prefer the Brit slang term for the place), and which is actually a townhouse with an upstairs and ground floor, but no basement. Confused yet?

I get that way sometimes.



  • Trash is always clutter, never needed, and generally needs to be dispensed with immediately when its original purpose is done. This is doubly true for any trash that once contained food, especially in a place where bugs and mice might take an interest.

NOT Clutter

  • Leftovers are not necessarily clutter, but – and this is an important but – they have to be packaged up and stored appropriately.
  • No, you cannot safely leave your pizza out on the counter top for three days and still eat it, no matter WHAT my roommate says! ICK!!!
  • Leftovers belong in the fridge. If there are two peas left in the serving dish, those aren’t leftovers. They’re trash! See: CLUTTER!


  • Old, wrinkled, torn, dog-eared papers that aren’t of any use any more to anyone.

NOT Clutter

  • Your tax forms for 7 years, no matter what condition they’re in (but you might consider keeping these electronically)
  • Any important paper records, like a copy of your lease or home ownership paperwork, the title to your car, your birth certificate, your passport, etc.
    • Recommendation: Get a small safe to store your important paperwork in; that way, it won’t be mistaken for clutter


  • Broken or damaged objects that no longer serve their original purpose and cannot be immediately repaired.
  • Objects that do not have any purpose, like old floppy disks you don’t know what’s stored on them and can’t read.
    • Recommendation: Note that making you smile IS a purpose for this post. If that ceramic poodle you love makes you smile, then it needs to be put in a place of honor, and kept in good condition. If it breaks, it becomes clutter if you’re going to fix it “one of these days…” where “one of these days” is anywhere between a week from now and the Twelfth of Never…

Not Clutter (not necessarily, YMMV)

  • Your great-grandmother’s glued together serving dish that came down through the family for many generations and is now yours… BUT, consider storing it in a safe location to keep it from being further damaged.
  • Decorative objects that aren’t just crammed onto shelves, but are displayed so that they can be seen by people, and enjoyed.
    • Recommendation: Consider, if you have a small space, rotating which decorative objects are out and on display. Even the Smithsonian and other prestigious museums do this. It varies the display, without adding to the clutter.

NOT Clutter

  • Functional objects for which you have a use, that are not broken or damaged.

More to come in Part II…

Confessions of a Book Addict…

I love books. In fact, I read at least an hour every day. But… books take up a lot of space. Some, like the Complete Works of Shakespeare, take up a LOT of space. Others, like J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, are only a hundred pages or so (I refer to the book here,  not the multi-film franchise!), but you can still only put one object in one physical space. Damn those pesky laws of physics!

Enter my iPhone.

Now, you may not have an iPhone; you may not have a smartphone at all, or a Kindle, or anything of the sort… if you don’t, this won’t apply to you. But a lot of people do own one or more of these devices.

In my iPhone, in the iBooks app, I have:

  • Aesop’s Fables, Volume 1
  • three copies of Dante Alighieri & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Divine Comedy
  • five volumes of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales
  • The Night Before Christmas
  • Naked Came the Phoenix (a serial novel by a bunch of authors, of whom I read J.D. Robb)
  • Peter Pan
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  • The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
  • A volume of Chaucer, including The Canterbury Tales
  • Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook (and I intend to get the remaining 9 volumes)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • Yesterday’s Son and Time for Yesterday by A.C. Crispin
  • Origin by Dan Brown (and I intend to get the other four volumes)
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • two copies of A Christmas Carol, and copies of David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and A A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • two copies of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Introduction to Shamanic Journeying by Frauke Rotwein
  • all 25 volumes of Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone / Alphabet mysteries (ending with Y is for Yesterday due to the author’s death)
  • two volumes of Grimm’s Fairy Tales
  • most of the Benjamin January Mysteries by Barbara Hambly (beginning with A Free Man of Color) – including five novellas; the rest are in the Kindle app, which list will follow…
  • the Darwath trilogy, Icefalcon’s Quest, and Mother of Winter by Barbara Hambly
  • two copies of Les Miserables and a copy of Notre-Dame De Paris by Victor Hugo
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Second Jungle Book, Short-Stories, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling by Rudyard Kipling
  • The Adept, books 1-3, The Temple and the Crown, and The Temple and the Stone by Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris
  • Crusade of Fire, On Crusade, and Tales of the Knights Templar edited by Katherine Kurtz
  • Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz
  • most of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series
  • The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci – Complete
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • A Song of Ice and Fire (all five volumes to date) by George R.R. Martin
  • A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin, illustrated by Gary Gianni
  • the Crystal Singer series and part of the Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
  • Moby Dick, or, The Whale by Herman Melville
  • Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  • Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained by John Milton
  • five volumes of the works of Edgar Allan Poe
  • How to Break Up With YOur Phone by Catherine Price
  • the complete works of J.D. Robb
  • whole bunch of books by Nora Roberts (not gonna list them, but damn near everything since she quit writing for Silhouette/Harlequin/whatever)
  • Pottermore Presents…. three volumes by J.K. Rowling
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, plus separate copies of Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet, the Sonnets, and Twelfth Night
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Treasure Island and one volume of the Swanston Edition of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson (need to get the rest of that!)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • The Two Towers and The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein (the rest is in the Kindle app)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Then, we have the Kindle… which, coincidentally, is also an application on my iPhone!

  • A copy of the script/libretto for Jekyll anD HYDE (the musical)
  • Beginner’s Dutch Oven Cookbook by Mark Hansen & Matt Pelton
  • The Hero’s Tale and A Tale of Heroes by Mark Hansen
  • Finish your Dissertation Before You Die by Joseph Nolan, PhD
  • Writing a Dissertation for Dummies
  • Move the Rock of Academic Writing
  • Demystifying Dissertation Writing
  • How to Write an Exceptional Thesis or Dissertation
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Sir Kay: A Study of the Character of the Seneschal of King Arthur’s Court by Harold Jerome Herman
  • A copy of the script/libretto for Oliver! (the musical)
  • Magic 101 by Mercedes Lackey
  • a bunch of Anne McCaffrey novels, some duplicated on the iBooks app
  • The Great American Jerky Cookbook
  • a 2011 Toyota Rav4 manual (I used to drive one)
  • Statistics for Dummies
  • Statistics Essentials for Dummies
  • Lammas Night by Katherine Kurtz (yes, another copy)
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Gabriel’s Angel by Nora Roberts
  • Lessons from the Lion, the Ox, and their Little Friends adapted from Aesop
  • The Bane Chronicles, The Infernal Devices, and the City of ___ series by Cassandra Clare
  • What the Fox Learnt, adapted from Aesop
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein
  • most of the Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • On Masturbation by Mark Twain (don’t ask!)
  • a manual for my 3D printer
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein…

and about 60 or 70 other works.

In one iPhone.

In my pocket.

At any given time.

The capacity of my iPhone is 256 GB.

I am using 214.78 GP, with 14,465 photos, 103 videos, and a bunch of audio books.

If you have limited space? I highly recommend using a mobile device to store your library. It takes up a whole lot less space!


Some Shocking Things About Electricity..

Legend: 🌞‼️ 🔨 🔥📜

Common Types of Outlets in the United States

Electrical standards and requirements vary country to country. This post is specific to power in the United States and Canada; if your outlets don’t look like the ones shown below, this post is not applicable to you.

The commonly-found electricity in the United States – when you’re talking about regular electrical outlets that you use to plug in lamps, or your laptop, or – oh, most things that aren’t major appliances – is 110 volt, alternating current. Outlets/receptacles are considered “female,” and plugs are “male”, for somewhat-obvious reasons.

In order to be up to code in the United States, electrical outlets must be grounded. What does this mean?

Before 1980, almost all electrical outlets in the United States were non-grounded, non-polarized. They looked like this, but are not considered safe today and are found only in old homes.


The technical term for this type of outlet is the USA Non-Polarized NEMA 1-15 2 Pin – 10 Amp outlet (female) and plug (male).

The next piece was the non-grounded, polarized outlet:


This is the USA Polarized NEMA 1-15 2 Pin – 10 Amp outlet and plug.

After the introduction of the polarized outlet came the grounded, polarized outlet:


This is the USA Polarized NEMA 5-15 3 Pin – 15 Amp outlet and plug. The “hot” lead (black wire) connects to the shorter of the two vertical slots, and is either connected by a copper screw, or inserted into a hole. The white (neutral) wire connects to the longer of the two vertical slots, and is either by a silver screw, or inserted into a hole. And finally, the green or copper wire (ground) connects to the u-shaped piece, and is attached by a green screw.

The USA Polarized NEMA 5-20 3 Pin – 20 Amp outlet and plug are rated for 20 Amps of power. It looks like this:


Note that one of the flat pieces is horizontal, rather than vertical. Sometimes, the receptacle is built to handle either a 15-amp or a 20-amp plug. Those look like the image on the right:


📜 🔥 Note that the more current a circuit carries, the thicker the wire has to be to avoid excessive heat discharge from the wire that can result in fire. Consult your local building codes to determine whether the wire in your outlet can support 20A current before attempting to install a NEMA 5-20 outlet.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) Outlets 📜

GFCI outlets are a special type of outlet that are required near sources of water, and possibly in other places in your home. These special outlets contain a fast circuit  breaker that will cut off the electricity to the outlet at once should the ground on the outlet fail, e.g. if something plugged into it is dropped into water. You should consult local building codes to determine whether you need to install a GFCI outlet.

GFCI outlets look like this:


Not all of the buttons are red/black; some are the same color as the outlet. The red (top) button is for testing, and the black (bottom) one is for resetting the GFCI outlet. They are wired just like any other NEMA 5-15 or NEMA 5-20 outlet.

When To Replace an Outlet 🏠

Renters should contact their landlord to have an outlet replaced. Attempting to do it yourself may be a violation of your lease.

You should replace an outlet if:

  • Any part of the plastic cover on the outlet itself (not the faceplate, the outlet) is broken or missing.
  • Any black marks are visible around the outlet holes. This means that the outlet or something plugged into it has short-circuited.
  • The outlet is non-grounded.
    • NOTE: There may not be a ground wire in the workbox in this case. If not, consult an electrician. 💼
  • The outlet is not GFCI and is within six feet of a water source.
  • A plug falls out or hangs loosely when plugged into it. This happens with old or worn outlets.

How To Replace an Outlet

🌞 DO NOT do this if there is an electrical storm in progress.
‼️Always, ALWAYS turn off the circuit breaker BEFORE you remove the outlet cover. Failure to do so could result in electrical shock.

  1. 🔨Have your tools ready. You will need the new outlet, an outlet tester, and a screwdriver.
  2. Remove the outlet cover (face plate).
  3. Unscrew the two screws holding the outlet to the work box (the box behind the outlet that it and its wires reside in).
  4. Gently pull the outlet out of the work box.
  5. Take a look at the wiring. You should see three of them, a black one, a white one, and one that is either green or bare copper.
    1. Black is your “hot” wire and should be wrapped around the screw marked “hot”.
    2. White is your neutral wire, and should be wrapped around the screw marked “neutral”.
    3. The bare or green wire is your ground wire, and will usually be affixed to the screw on the corner of the outlet.
  6. Working one wire at a time, move the wires from the old outlet to the new one, wrapping the wire around the screw and screwing it down.
    1. 💡This is easier to do if the wire is wound around the screw clockwise.
    2. ⚠️ Double check to ensure that you have the hot / neutral orientation correct. If this is wrong when you power the outlet, it can burn out the outlet, ruining it.
  7. (Optional step) Some people like to wrap the screws with electrical tape to ensure no short-circuits have occurred. Do this only with electrical tape, not with any other kind.
  8. Gently push the outlet back into the work box.
  9. Screw the outlet to the work box.
  10. Replace the face plate.
  11. Turn the circuit breaker back on, and plug the outlet tester into it. Do not use anything else to test an outlet unless you don’t like it, because any errors in the wiring can fry your test object.


Posted in DIY

Screwdrivers (not the kind with vodka and orange juice) 🔨

🔨 🛠

All adults should have screwdrivers in their tool box.

There are several types of screwdrivers.

🔨 Standard / Slotted Screwdriver (“flathead”)

flat-head-screwdriver-great-neck-1-4-inch-x-4-inch-flat-head-screwdriver-flat-head-screwdriver-sizes-mm stanley_66_157_hr

There are several sizes of standard screwdrivers (commonly referred to as flathead screwdrivers). A set of standard screwdrivers contains several different sizes. It is generally a good idea to have a set of standard screwdrivers in your tool  box.

🔨 Phillips Screwdriver


A Phillips screwdriver looks like a modified X. It is generally a good idea to have at least a #1, a #2, and a #3 Phillips screwdriver in your tool box. If you wear glasses, a precision screwdriver set will contain what you need to make minor repairs.

🔨🛠Allen Screwdrivers / Allen Wrenches

The Allen type screwdriver, also called an Allen wrench, is a common one to have if you build a lot of IKEA furniture. The IKEA box generally contains one, but if you want to add a set to your tool box, it’s not a bad idea, especially if you’re a homeowner.

🛠Esoteric Screwdrivers

Aside from these three types, there are others that fall into the category of “unless you’re doing something really specialized, you won’t need one of these.” Here are just some of the more esoteric screwdriver types you might find, along with what they are called.