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Friend Connect -- Fixed?

The Google Friend Connect module that has been having lots of problems and more problems seems to be working again. I'm not sure what I did different. I uninstalled and reinstalled the Google Friend Connect module, but I did that before, too. I ran the update script, but I did that before, too. It seems to be working in both Firefox and IE now, and I'm not getting any more red error messages. Why? No freaking clue. I'm pretty certain that I only did things that I'd already tried. Maybe Google finally fixed something. I'm not sure if it's going to recognize all of the same usernames, or if it's going to create new ones. When I signed in on IE, it created Maggie_2. But it's behaving better than it was before.

Stupid Search Results (The Evils of SEO)

I've been researching industrial machines for awhile now, mostly searching on Craigslist and then searching for more information on the machines listed. And I'm getting really annoyed by really ridiculous, irrelevant Google search results. Google claims that they now offer an option to block certain domains, but whether it doesn't work in Firefox 4 or they bowed out to complaints from companies that thought they'd get blocked, I don't know.

There seem to be a whole lot of sites, mainly with .info extensions, that are nothing but a populated list of eBay auctions. They all have different domains, but seem to be identical, and what they show isn't pertinent to the domain name. For example, you'll find the exact same things on "sergermachines.info" as on "childssewingmachines.info" and "sewingmachinesbrother.info," etc. And when I'm looking for information on a Singer 111W151, there is absolutely nothing relevant on any of those "sites." Yes, those all show up when I search for information on a particular industrial Singer model. And since they're obviously not affiliated with Brother, I'd think that a domain including "brother" and "sewing machines" would be a trademark infringement. But they can't let that get in the way of their keyword loading, now can they?

I don't have a problem with commercial sites, or with sites that use affiliate programs. Sites selling particular machines are frequently excellent sources of information about those machines. But these aren't sites that are actually selling anything themselves, or providing information about the things that they're showing or making actual recommendations. They don't do anything at all but clog search results; they're keyword clogged add farms. And eBay is easy enough to search, either through their own search, or Google's shopping search, so there is absolutely no reason why any of these ad-farm sites are of any value whatsoever. None, zero, zip, zilch. So WHY can't I easily block these? And why isn't there some way to report that these are not relevant search results? These sites are SEO abuse, nothing more. I thought Google was supposed to get rid of excess results that are too similar to be relevant to finding anything new, but all these site seem to be showing up constantly. Isn't there some way to report this crap?

Stevia From Seed and Ordering Plants Online

Tiny Stevia SeedlingTiny Stevia Seedling
I ordered a packet of Stevia Seeds along with an Amazon order awhile ago, before I actually knew anything about growing stevia. The overall rating was low, but included "reviews" like "how many seeds are in this packet?" and of course, non-review reviews piss me off to no end. They were eligible for super saver shipping, so I ordered them to push an order over the $25 necessary to qualify for the free shipping.

At the time I didn't realize that germination rates on stevia are rather low, so I only planted a few outside. I don't think they've sprouted outside, but I planted them out in the big garden and that's not really a great place for starting seeds. After learning that they're fairly difficult to start, I poured the rest of the packet into cup of dirt inside and sat it on the windowsill, not really expecting much since it was a fairly small packet. I've actually gotten two started, though!

I divided them into separate cups, and placed one of them outside and left the other on the windowsill. Both are growing slowly (as seedlings tend to do before they establish enough leaf surface area for faster growth,) but are growing.

There have been subsequent reviews (after I bought these seeds) stating that they don't grow at all. This I find pretty strange, especially since one person says that they ordered three packets. I'll have to leave a review stating that mine are growing, but since they're tiny and not really established yet, I'm still holding off making judgments either way about them, particularly since I've had massive problems with strawberries sprouting as tiny seedlings and then dying.

Just to be certain (given that I use a significant amount of artificial sweeteners, growing stevia would be really nice,) I'm kinda considering ordering an already started plant. As far as I can tell, there is one place online, Michigan Bulb Company that sells established stevia plants. If I want to order, I'll have to soon, because their spring shipping season is almost over. But they have flat rate shipping, and I can't order just one little thing when there's flat rate shipping involved! ..So I'm still debating it. Maybe I'll tack on an order for a grape plant.. if I can figure out where I'd want to set up supports and all for grapes. Grapes are something I keep thinking about growing anyways.. it's just the "where" that's a tad problematic. And I don't want to give up on my started plants. But three plants are better than two, right?

Some of those dwarf citrus trees are pretty tempting too. But then I have to decide just which one or two I want, and I have problems deciding what I don't want to grow. I want to grow everything!

I'm also still a tad nervous about ordering live plants online. I've ordered plenty of seeds online, but still haven't ordered any actual plants. I know some come as bare root and some actually come potted, but I'm having trouble picturing just what a plant traveling through the mail would look like.

A Silk Chiffon Tunic (Finally!)

Polka-Dotted Chiffon TopPolka-Dotted Chiffon Top Chiffon Tunic NecklineChiffon Tunic Neckline After Dfr's recent success with Butterick 5355 for her silk charmeuse, I decided it would be a good pattern to use for some of my chiffon. I got this caramel-colored polka-dotted chiffon early last year in a chiffon bundle from FabricMart, and it seemed like the best choice to use for my first silk chiffon top since I'm not totally wild about the color. Don't get me wrong, it's certainly wearable, but I have a harder time cutting into fabrics in really beautiful colors.

I used French seams, and narrow hems both for the bottom edges and for the neckline. The pattern includes a sash as well, which I haven't made yet, although I haven't decided if I want to or not. If I feel the need to give it more definition around the waist, I might come up with some kind of belt to wear with it, but I'd go with something thinner than the sash-style belt in the pattern; maybe a chain-type belt. Loose and flowing is what I was aiming for, and shapelessness isn't so much of a worry with such sheer fabric, so that's still up in the air.

Despite being delicate silk, my purpose with this was utilitarian; I needed something good for hot weather, light enough to have plenty of air flow, so that I can have the feel of wearing a tank top or just a corset, without running around feeling like I'm half-naked.

Next time I'll probably try the front piece from the A and B views that has the V-neck, rather than the higher neckline that views C and D have.

Hot Days and Cheap Butter Knives as Pattern Weights

Metal Bar As Pattern WeightMetal Bar As Pattern Weight Cheap butter knives work very well to keep patterns and lightweight fabric from blowing around.Cheap Butter Knives As Pattern Weights It's hotter than heck out, so definitely time to start using some of that chiffon I posted about earlier to make some nice light blouses to go over tank tops and corsets.

Despite the fact that it's in the 90s and I'm melting, it's only June 1st, and I'm still stubbornly trying to avoid turning on the air conditioning.

Have you ever TRIED laying out chiffon on patterns and cutting it out in a room with multiple fans running?

It didn't take long before I was searching the house for the perfect makeshift pattern weights. I have a couple of washers I've used, but they just weren't enough. Then I found this metal bar in my desk. I think it's actually meant to be the bar that holds up hanging file folders, but it makes an excellent pattern weight--I just needed more.

And then I had an "Ah-ha!" moment. What else is flat and metal and long enough that it can hold down a line rather than just a little spot?

Cheap butter knives! Not good butter knives--you don't want the ones with nice thick handles and shaping so that they feel good in your hands--that nice ergonomic design that looks pretty and makes them comfortable will work against you.
You want the cheap kind that you get in the sets from Walmart that cost less than ten dollars for the entire table setting for eight people. The ones that are barely shaped at all and are not really any more than flat metal bars.

Yes, perfect!

Online Weirdnesses

I have followers listed on Google again, and the generic Google Friend Connect widget seems to be working. But if I try to turn the GFC module back on, I still get errors. I don't know what the deal is with that.

And about that "Big list of sewing blogs".. the one that I've had a link to on my page forever. I just searched, and I'm not on it! I know I submitted my blog to it ages ago, at the same time as I put up their badge on my site, but apparently they never bothered to add me. I used the find function in my browser, so it's not like I could have just not seen it--I'm not there. I'm a tad unsure as to why. I can't think of any good reason, so it seems likely that maybe the web hiccuped or something and it didn't submit? But there's not room on the form to explain that, just site name, address, and description... and I don't want to come off like I'm spamming them.

It's a Tomato!

First Tomato!First Tomato!
My volunteer tomato plant has been getting lots of flowers, but most of them were dropping off, and I was starting to get concerned.

But then this morning I found this!

Garden Progress

Big Garden Pictures (May 28): A full view of my bigger garden, with some closer shots of a few of the rows underneath.Big Garden Pictures (May 28): A full view of my bigger garden, with some closer shots of a few of the rows underneath. Small Garden Pics (May 28)Small Garden Pics (May 28)
My garden seems to be coming along fairly well! I'm using a combination of modular storage cubes and wire fencing for protection from poaching animals-- so far so good so far as animal pests.

I have been getting insect damage. For now I'm using diatomaceous earth, which helps some, but I do still plan on picking up some insecticidal soap too. The DE is all well and good, and useful in many places, but I don't so much like the way plants looked covered with the stuff, and I'm not sure how good it is for them either.

At this point the small garden is pretty much planted, and about half or a bit more than half of the big garden. I put up a short segment of a fence support for cucumbers in the big garden, and planted seeds there, but sprouting in the big garden is slow, so I'll end up transplanting cukes started in small containers on the deck into the big-garden cucumber spot.

A not about diatomaceous earth. An awful lot of people seem to be terrified of it because you're not supposed to breathe in huge amounts of it. This seems to me like a bit of an obvious thing. It's not generally a great idea to inhale lots of any kind of powder, much less one being used for its properties as an abrasive. Diatomacious earth is the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae. It is used everywhere, for purposes ranging from pest control to pool filtration to stabilizing nitroglycerine into dynamite. One of the pest-control uses for diatomaceous earth is as an additive in flour. Yes, you eat it, whether you know it or not. So no, breathing in clouds of the stuff is not healthy. But I really hate it when people act like I'm doing something crazy while applying the stuff with a paint brush.

Orchid Linen Tunic Finished (Again)


Well I had already posted about finishing my orchid linen tunic.. But then the Google issues hit me and I think I lost it in my attempts to restore my database when I believed that the problem was on my end.

I'd said something about dfr nagging me to get up pictures and then something about loving spf 100 sunscreen but it not protecting my lower back when it's not there and something about linen not being as drapey as rayon. Oh, and something about Firefox not recognizing "drapey" as a word.

And so now I'll throw some more curses at Google and submit this post.

Google is Borked

Google friend connect seems to be completely borked. It was working. Now it's not. I've spent all day trying to figure out if there's something wrong on my end, but then Gloria mentioned not being able to comment on her own blog, and GFC is integrated with Blogger, so I'm thinking the problem is with Google and not with me. Google just hasn't bothered to offer any information a to what's dead or why or what can be expected.
So I've been in PR chat cursing and repeatedly dying and doing that bizarre laugh-cry thing that never ceases to make me feel like I've gone completely mad.
But right now I'd just like to punch somebody at Google in the stomach.

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by Dr. Radut