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The first “thrill” of MS is that it's not my fault and I couldn't have prevented it. The next thrill will be when they can fix it.


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Thursday, January 29, 2015

It's My Half Birthday!


I’ve never made it a secret that I’m not a fan of winter. In fact I’ve done a pretty good job of painting myself a an anti-fan of winter. So what’s an optimist to do to keep from falling into winter blues? Well, as a child of the summer, I celebrate my Half-Birthday! I’m not looking outside at Mother Nature’s gag-gift this year; in 6 months it will be the heart of Leo entering into the dog days of summer when even cats find shady spots if they are outdoors. (which is only acceptable if they are rural barn cats, a little safer from traffic than urban cats on the streets and cats and dogs on the farm should always have access to clean water!)

Now my half birthday isn’t celebrated as a festival and I usually just do something special for myself. I might order a pizza today; I discover a thin crust pizza with white sauce, bacon and veggies at Marcos. I add green olives and banana peppers to it for a little sour bite and it’s SO good! And it’s only 18 points for half a small. Of course since David doesn’t do pizza, it would end up being dinner tomorrow too since I can’t reheat on my own. Unless I didn’t refrigerate overnight. I like cold pizza fine but I don’t care for it chilled. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just ask David if he’d drive trough and bring me home a McLatte.

One fun thing I did for myself for my half birthday this year is a 2-page scrapbook layout. I had a kit that was a set of journal cards that I really wanted to play with for a while. According to the dates on the files, it was May last year that I got the kit Hello! by Scrumptiously. I wanted to do a pocket-page type layout and I knew I wanted to do a totally narcissistic layout about myself. I’ve said before that scrapbooking is both a loving and giving hobby and a totally selfish hobby all in one. It’s saving your, memories to share with other people but it’s also putting yourself as the keeper of history. You get to be the dictator of the future by directing the past. I actually think that’s fine as long as you aren’t blatantly lying about the resent it’s a wonderful series of family heirlooms for generations to come. I also think that selfishness manifests itself in vanity. Too many scrapbookers don’t include their own completely separate from others in the family thoughts or photographs in their books. Generations later relations and even family friends will wonder about the person who assembled the books. What did she or he look like, what were they doing? That’s just my little scrapping soapbox.

Of course, there’s plenty of me in my scrapbooks because I do think that way. I try to be vain for everyone and use flattering photos of us all so generations down the line multiple greats of nieces and nephews will marvel at what an attractive lot we were. But I want my scrapbooks to hold memories, lot of them, but I want my character and sense of humor to be in them too. I want to look back at my books and remember how much fun being me has always been. Oh yeah, and how attractive we’ve always looked too!

Also my half-birthday 2-pager uses those journal cards and prompts to put a time-capsule bubble around my brain at 48-1/2 years old. Making “right here, right now” ordinary day a time capsule page every now and then is fun too!

Credits: Hello!  by Scrumptiously and other papers from my stash

The pages are full-resolution if you want to enlarge them and read on the pages, but if you want to read what they say in simple written form, the contents of the cards are right here:

So there’s my self-indulgent answer to the winter blues. For my birthday festival I encourage everyone to have ice cream to celebrate and last year it was to buy ice cream for a kid. So if you want to celebrate my half birthday with me have a cookie. That’s nice to go with hot cocoa to shake a winter frown away. If you like the snow and ice, go enjoy it! And have a hot cocoa for me when you get in because if I was there, you know that’s where I’d be!

Find the happy, everyone!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I Am Defined


Happy Sunday everyone! Unless you’re reading this tomorrow or on any day that’s not today or some multiple of seven from today, then happy whatever of the six other days this happens to be.

I have finally been defined with a definition I agree with. For years and years I’ve taken forms of the Meyers-Briggs tests, including the all out test that I took for a job interview many years back, and the results always start with E, calling me an extrovert. I’m actually consistently an ENTJ; Extrovert, Intuitive, Thinking, Judgmental, and the description of an ENTJ fits me pretty well except that I am not that outgoing. I’m outgoing when I need to be, when I have to, but I treasure my alone time too. As a rule, extroverts can’t stand being alone. I took a test online that tells what kind of introvert or extrovert a person is, because I love taking personality tests no matter how corny they are although this one is less corny than others I’ve taken, and it doesn’t call me an extrovert. According to my results I am an outgoing introvert. Which if you look at this description; 8 signs you may be an outgoing introvert, it fits me perfectly. And I love the fact that it doesn’t call me an extrovert.

I’m in the midst of a reading dilemma. Remember I said I was going to have an upstarts book and an ereader book going at the same time? Well, I did that. If you look at my Good Reads widget on the right, there are 2 current books listed. One is a hard cover that I got in a book swap and one is an e-book, young adult fiction. I read the Harry Potter series, and the Trylle series in the beginning of 2013; don’t judge! ;) But my current problem is that I’m just not really into either one. They’re both okay, but nor riveting at all. I have a Baldacci paperback in waiting and thanks to Christmas gift cards for both Barnes and Noble for the Nook app and Amazon for the Kindle app, both on my iPad, I have a couple lists of loaded and ready to read books on the tablet. I have a goal of averaging 2 books a month and I’m not even half way through either book with only a week of January left! January and February are usually good reading months for me. I have to come up with a plan to get myself some reading time so I can catch up and start some bocks I’m more likely to MAKE time to read.


I was talking to a friend from our MS support group about the things that make MS easier to live with today than it would have been years ago, say in the 1940s when it was first diagnosed and recognized as an actual disease. Without MRIs, there was no apparent scarring of the myelin to see on the brain or spine images and while it wasn’t a death sentence for sure, it did affect life expectancy just because they knew so little about it. So much about diagnosing and understanding the disease has improved in the many years since then.

The first disease modifying medication was approved for use and became available in 1993 and more medications became available after that; all injectable. The first oral medication was approved in 2010. That was my first choice in 2011, anything to avoid needles. There are 10 medications an MS patient and their neurologist can try, depending on what side effects you want to chance. But just think;25 years ago there were NO options. You were diagnosed, treated the symptoms as best you could and you knew the disease was going to progress with no way of slowing it down.

Back in that day, just prior to a drug for the disease, it wasn’t considered a disability. In fact the ADA was a baby in 1990 with members of congress that still didn’t want it to pass. We MSers were still destined to end up in wheelchairs and there were still people fighting tooth and nail not to have to widen a door for those chairs or anyone else with a wheelchair, walker, cane or just limited mobility or allowed mobility for breathing or heart conditions. We have advocates and are encouraged to be self-advocates in the fight to continue living instead of just existing as helpless invalids; we became legally valid!

But we really acknowledged the internet, tablet, smart phones. The internet means we aren’t hopeless and lonely when we are at home. The incredible ability to reach out to others like us and be cyber support is fantastic. I couldn’t live without my iPad. With the numbness in my hands that has me dropping things all the time and unable to write having my planner and several reading apps in one device, with a padded cover and replacement insurance on it, is such a blessing It also has a notepad, radio and MP3 storage, camera and my social media apps. And it has speech-to-text for every app I’d type in, a godsend for the times when my “fumblehands” just aren’t up to hitting the right keys. This is not an ad for the iPad. It’s an acknowledgement of how technology makes disabilities less disabling. There have been many times in the past year that speech-to-text software,, like Dragon on my PC, has written this blog!

It’s just amazing and wonderful. How many times did I watched Star Trek episodes where someone was carrying around a tablet with information essential for their job on it? I’m just waiting now for the hypo spray that will zap my MS all together? THAT’S something I’d take to our support group for “share and tell!”
My final note today is for everyone in the areas where the current storm is headed BE CAREFUL! The nasty winter storm the Weather channel is calling Juno is supposed to dump a TON of snow and nastiness on the east! We have relatives and friends that are expected to get in excess of a foot of snow. My friend Edna of Miss Edna’s Place will be seeing it in her part of New England as well, what she describes as feet of inches predicted on TV. If you are in the areas getting snow and hurricane winds, stay as safe and warm as possible and the rest of us please send good thoughts and prayers for them. We’ll get a few inches in Toledo and I’ll complain as I see it falling but then I’ll remember that I don’t have it so bad and check Edna’s blog or ask David if he talked to any of his brothers.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Keeping Very Busy

Are there any statistics on how soon people break resolutions? Now, I don’t do resolutions, it’s projects and goals for me; it leaves room to do many at once and catch up things that fall behind.

So there are a few things I’m behind on. Blog reading and writing is one of those things, Much of my online “work” has been distracted. If you noticed there is a GoFundMe link in my side bar. My good friend, Sheri, spent 10 days of the beginning of this year in the hospital. She went home Thursday night and hopefully goes back to work Monday. Sheri lives alone so she is the only breadwinner in her home. She’s been stressing and I’ve stressed for he too. The bills don’t go away and the biggest bill is waiting in the wings. Where her normal budget is based on mandatory overtime at the job she’s had many years, now she’s used all her sick time for the ear and has about a week on disability that’s less than half her non-OT paycheck. So she has all her regular bills plus a giant bill for the deductible and out of pocket limit for the year all at once coming from the hospital. See a reason for stress?

I’d write her a check for everything she needs to stay afloat if I wasn’t sure my check would bounce higher than a 10-cent superball. What I could do for her was set up the fundraiser. I realize that dedicating my time to this for Sheri will eat into what I can earn for Walk MS but my disease will earn tens of thousands of dollars this year. That makes me happy, really it does, but Sheri will get buried by the financial rubble a hospital stay drops on someone. She is a friend that makes the trip from Michigan to visit me when she is on vacation. She pushes my wheelchair when we’re someplace I can’t get to with the power chair. If my fundraising can make me rise from this chair this year but Sheri will be going without to pay the monthly bills to the hospital without ruining her credit, well, I think I’d rather have her okay and stable to push my chair. So, while I have my page done for Walk, I’m encouraging everyone to donate to helping one person at a time this year. I’d rather be okay with the people I call mine than great alone. Remember I started 2013 in the hospital? I’m not trying to keep a roof over my own head, but I don’t let David pay my medical copays. I have three payments left on that bill. Out of pocket limit all at once when you still have other bills (office visits and prescriptions aren’t part of that limit) is HUGE.

I’ve had some other friends who are dealing with issues and making sure I have time for them comes before blogging, scrapping and working on ways to make the house more accessible!

Credits:P52 Basic Blocking Templates by Digitalegacies Designs, All That Glitters is Snow, Begin Again, My Favorite Brew and Nite At Grandma’s by Aprilisa Designs; When Skies Are Gray by Gingerbread Ladies; Smooches Cardstock by Digital Scrapbooking Studio; Let It Snow and In Then Kitchen – Cooking by Little Rad Trio; Important To Me byu Simple Girl; Chocolicious by Magical Scraps Galore; Journal Cards by A Little Grace and Mercy; Jilbert’s Bits of Bytes; Kimeric Kreations; and Connie Prince

I am a few layouts behind on the page-a-day goal, but only a few and my Project 52 is current! I’ve finished the layouts for weeks one and two. I did week one like I did last year’s layouts , in quadrants. I’m mixing things up a little thus year. Week two has a little different base.

Credits: P52 Basic Blocking Templates by Digitalegacies Designs, Afternoon With Grandma by Little Rad Trio, Attitude Adjustment by Inspired Designs, Better Days Ahead by Aprilisa Designs, Chill In The Air Ginerscraps Monthly Mix, Distressed 1&2 by Created by Jill Scraps, Falling 4 U by Keystone Scraps, Good Reads by Aprilisa Designs, I’ll Be There by Trixie Scraps, Owie by Blue Hearts Scraps & Luv Ewe Designs, Rainy Days by Ginger Bread Ladies, Journal Cards from Doctor’s Orders by Studio Meagan’s Creations and Second Chances by Mad Genius Designs

After 53 weeks of the quadrants it was a little uncomfortable ding it that way. I think I’ll probably do mostly quadrants but mix it up with a different base template here and there. I’ve also been making an effort to use journal cards, like would be used for pocket scrapping.. I have a bunch of them that are in kits or were freebies but I’m also making my own. I don’t think the journal cards are a huge difference from the mostly translucent mats I used last year, but I do see it as a way 2015 is unique from 2014. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here, I just watched a video about Project 52 scrapping and it prompted me to look at the pages from 2012, the only other year I’ve actually competed this project and really see what aspects I liked most of each.

I really had fun last year with this cupcake:



It didn’t appear for the first time until the second quarter of the year, but it appears in the 2014 book 7 times. A recurring element was fun! This year’s element has already made its premier appearance. It’s not due to return for a few weeks now.

I made a full set of four templates for bases for the 2-page weekly spreads. You might recognize the first two from the layouts I’ve shown above. The second two are created to work for my dally bocks, but they are also great for pocket scrapping or a blocked scrapbook page. Clicking the preview will take you to the download page. Look for more Project 52 things as the year progresses!

http://www.mediafire.com/download/xx1pcrcf3od54gk/digitalegacies_P52_templateert_January.zip


That’s all for now; reading time!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Book review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Finished January 4, 2015

Synopsis at Good Reads

Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon awakens in an Italian hospital, disoriented and with no recollection of the past thirty-six hours, including the origin of the macabre object hidden in his belongings. With a relentless female assassin trailing them through Florence, he and his resourceful doctor, Sienna Brooks, are forced to flee. Embarking on a harrowing journey, they must unravel a series of codes, which are the work of a brilliant scientist whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for one of the most influential masterpieces ever written, Dante Alighieri's The Inferno.


My review at Good Reads

3 of 5 stars

First I will say there like this book a lot more than I did the last book I read by Dan Brown. I still haven't figured out if I really like the book or just kind a like the book. It's the oddest sensation I’ve ever had after reading a book. The art history offered in the book was fantastic and the facts about the art mostly accurate. I've read other reviews of Brown's work and I agree there is a tendency to add “known opinions” that never existed in with facts in a way that makes large parts of the fiction created around the fact to be more real than they are. But reader beware; don’t believe everything you read in FICTION. Brown does a great job of using researched facts to create a conspiracy theory on which to base the plot of his books. I really don't think that's a bad thing but sometimes it can be overdone. I guess it's both what I like most about the book and what bugs me most about the book. I like how all of the puzzle pieces fit together using the facts to create fiction. I wasn't crazy about the over-facting. It started to become tiresome.

But more than the conspiracy theory story that was sometimes overdeveloped I was bugged by characters that were a unbelievable. When you're developing a story that supposed to make the reader believe they are reading more possible additional facts, the characters need to be more believable. In the book that starts with the hero, Robert Langdon suffering from partial amnesia he has an incredible ability to remember just everything that he's ever come in contact with. Couple that with the female main character, Sienna Brooks, who is beyond genius with an IQ higher than most of the most intelligent people on earth and it it leaves the reader expecting no mistakes to ever be made and a much shorter book.

The end was too long. After a catastrophic climax that was left dangling at the end the rest of the book almost seems forced, as if there needed to be “something” else in there. It actually is kind of a sad ending in the unsolved global crisis and our lead hero taking a nap on the plane on the way home. It just left me feeling frustrated that no one actually did anything. I think a conspiracy theory fiction is supposed to leave you feeling hopeful that something can be done, not like a victim. I could just be reading too much into that too.

The action was good the details a bit overdone, but I like detail of historic art so I can't complain about that too much, but I am bothered by the unbelievability of many of the characters and definitely some parts of the plot. Oddly, however, as many little things about the book as I can easily complain about and as disappointed as I felt with the ending I can't really say that I didn't enjoy the book. Odd indeed.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Projects and Goals


It’s New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow will be a new year and 2014 will be gone. There have been a few good things, but for the most part, especially the last half of the year I say “don’t let the fireworks singe your butt on the way out!”

I haven’t blogged nearly as much as I do in a typical December. Remember I told you that I write to get frustration out ad lately I’ve had to really work to write a page positive enough to be a decent post. It’s SO not like me but I’ve had some so not like me things going on. I want to take a moment to remind anyone dealing with even mild depression to not try to fight it on your own! This time last year I was getting help from a psychologist. If I hadn’t taken it on myself to get help this year would surely have crushed me! As it was it just maxed out my time. I’d estimate I was about two weeks behind by Christmas Eve. No baking this year and we’re going to write a New Year’s letter to the family of relatives and friends on our Holiday Card list to let them know everything is okay, we’re okay, but a bit f MS related set-backs in December are why our Christmas Cards are arriving in January. If you’re waiting to see our card, look for a Happy New Year greeting from us in the next couple weeks.

There were many contributing factors that made it a miserable December, but I had edema (swelling) that acted up really bad in the beginning of the month. Wrestling with the walking I can’t do and the water pills that send me walking into the bathroom three times and hour for a few hours I’d stopped taking the pills. Yeah I got scolded by my doctor for that, deservedly so. I also wasn’t drinking my minimum of water each day for successful control of my diet or my MS. So it shouldn't amaze me that I wasn't feeling well to begin with. In the beginning to middle of December the edema was not only causing swelling in my ankles but the swelling had gone all the way up into my thighs. My legs were pretty much useless. I couldn't get upstairs so I couldn't get any regular sleep I was sleeping in the chair and I ended up finding great relief in the bed in the emergency room. They kept me for a few hours with an IV of medication to get rid of some of the fluid and my subsequent phone call to my doctor before the follow up resulted in me taking the maximum strength of the water medication until the edema was under control which was almost until Christmas. Needless to say I've gotten much better about grinning and bearing it and taking my water pills. I don't drink my morning coffee until after the pills have had their couple hours and I make sure that I drink my minimal water during the day. I’m feelng much better now but, well, our Christmas cards will be going out in January.

So there is my confession of how I screwed myself up and suffered the consequences, really suffered them! But now I'm back on my feet again…well no I'm not back on my feet again I'm back sitting high on my butt again with a confident smile. And as I go through 2015's projects and goals and assess how I did on 2014s you'll see why am so glad to see this year go out and why am so happy to see 2015 coming in.


Projects and Goals Report 2014

The clean and organize project was a major bust from 2014. I had planned to look for some assistance with cleaning in the house and David and I were going to have a company assist with some of the bigger cleaning. Neither of those things ever materialized and we're pretty much living with the clutter that's driving me crazy and occasionally is a little dangerous.

If you’re a regular reader of The Chronicles of Nani, and there still are some of you, you know that I did not excel with the blogging more goal.

My reading goal was 2 books a month. I read 23 for the year. In my defense on that one there were a few paper books hardcover or paperback are harder for me to read because of the dyslexia and therefore take longer. I finished the year only one book shy of my goal which is probably more frustrating than 10!

I missed my page a day goal for scrapbooking having only completed 360 pages this year instead of 365 but the last page I finished today was the last page of 2008 and I can say that year is ready for proofreading and printing! That is a great consolation to missing goal by five pages. Also good news in the scrapbooking world I had a goal of finishing project 365 this year with the more random format that I've shown a few times on the blog and all that's left to complete on that is week 52.

The health and wellness goals which included losing 20 pounds by June didn't do so well as the steroid injections I was getting for my back made my back feel great but also caused weight gain even though I was eating healthy. (This year's goals will NOT include injections in my back!)

I did have some unplanned success with the employment area, which is going to be re-named business goals for this year going forward. I participated in Walk MS and after joining in only three weeks before the walk I raised just over $1000. I’m participating again this year and I'm starting with the thousand dollars as a goal. I hope it wasn't beginners luck! I went through training and became a certified group leader for the MS Society's self-help groups. Our self-help group meets on the second Tuesday of every month. Now I just need to get organized so I can get my paperwork in on time.

So there's 2014; a little good, really good, and a little bad some of it really bad. But assessing the year really gives me a chance to see where my goals can be adjusted and what projects I can change, add or omit to make 2015 better. And so now here's my 2015 plan.


2015 Projects and Goals

Health and Wellness Goals

I'm putting these goals first because I think that these goals are paramount to everything else falling in place. Health and wellness goals will include making sure I take all of my medication, including water pills, every day. I’m actually pretty good about that with the exception of those water pills but I'm going to be more disciplined in general and try not to miss any pills. I never liked taking pills and I've got to finish the fight with myself to change into a new regimen of taking all the pills that really are important to my health remaining intact.

I'm also going to make sure that I drink my water every day I have a bare minimum of 4 16-ounce bottles a day. I can drink this starting with when I'm taking the water pills as long as I wait for coffee (caffeine) until after they're done doing their stuff without suffering too much and in fact I feel a lot better when I drink enough.

I've got some information coming in from the MS Society pertaining to assistance both finding and making sure I can afford a lift chair recliner and a personal home aid. Part of my health and wellness goals include the fact that I need to have my feet up on and off during the day and the doctor suggested something on the main floor of the house that I can lie down on during the day. The recliner will be perfect for that. I just purchased an ottoman for under the table today. On Christmas Day Aunt Judy gave me a footstool that was wide enough that I could put my legs and feet on it and some swelling that had started instantly started going away when I put my feet up. Okay that's sort of like getting foot religion.

A personal home aid can hopefully offer some help by scolding me when I need it; when I’m overdoing something or underdoing something else. I hope an aid can also help with cooking so I can have hot lunch? I spilled soup on myself three times in December. It would be great if I could have some help to heat up soup for lunch, reach the microwave and hey, maybe even help cook soup in the crockpot! Okay I don't really know what home health aide does but I'm going to find out and I'm going to get the help that I need.

I'm doing my January detox cutting out most of my indulgent snacks until they return in measured portions in February and adding a cup of green tea each day. I'm not setting myself a definite number per month weight loss goal, partly because I still can't balance well enough to stand on the scale every week, But mostly because I want to concentrate on making sure that my diet is healthy, talking to my physical therapist about what kind of exercise I'm capable of doing and make myself healthy; the weight-loss will follow in line.


Clean and Organize Project

My big Christmas present from David hasn't arrived yet, but it’s a new nightstand for my side of the bed in the bedroom. I've been using an accent table with a banker box underneath it ever since I moved in in 2007! The new nightstand will keep me from knocking things on the floor upstairs. I'm also looking at getting deep shelves rather than a new chest of drawers for the one that needs replacing. I could put folded clothes on the shelves and the bottom shelves will have the cube fabric drawers for socks and underwear. David said I should see if that's already designed and if not I should copyright it for wheelchair-friendly furniture. I want to make sure it is friendly first. We are also going to look into getting the brakes fixed the old chair that belong to David's mother that we use as a transport chair upstairs. Working brakes would give me some safe freedom of movement.

Blogging

I'm not changing this goal. Similar to last year I'm going to try to blog more regularly and I'm going to give myself the goal of writing at least one blog entry a week and reading at least 5 a day. I am and have been this year at times a week behind on the blogs that I read all the time. Doesn't give me much opportunity to read anything new when I have to devote that much time to catching up.

Scrapbooking and Project 52

The last page of 2008 is done!
 
I'm pleased to say that I finished a book this year and since I did come so close to goal the goal remains a page a day for a total of 365 pages done at the end of the year. I'm also not going to change anything in the way that I'm doing my project 52. A two-page spread in quadrants is perfect for a little bit of journaling a photo, clipart, random things per day with an extra block for a day that needs more space or some other interesting tidbit. I'm very pleased with my pages from 2014 and I plan to continue 2015 in the same way.

Reading Goals

This is an area that will also do the same I only missed my goal by one book this year and going forward I'm going read my paperback and hardcover books as bedtime books and a current e-book is the book that I take places with me. When I’m waiting at an appointment or for a bus I usually have more time than my eyes can handle reading a paper book. So it only makes sense that I should have a book I'm reading on the e-reader. Of course if I'm going to be reading a hardcover or paperback and an e-book at the same time they’ll need to be different genres to keep the stories separated which will give me the opportunity to try some new things. It's a doable win/win!

Business Goals

My business goals are going to include setting up our printer which networks to serve all the computers in the house if it’s set up correctly in a place where we can get to the printer. The printer also scans so I can scan materials necessary to email the reports in for my MS group.

One big goal that I want to achieve this year is I want to gather all of the tax forms and have all of our deductions added and ready to go before the end of February.

My last goal is a special goal for me and is for business, scrapbooking and perhaps my general mental health. We have a new Apple Store at the mall on the bus route! Windows 8.1 has been driving me so totally insane that I have plans to visit the Apple Store as soon as the payments on the iPad are done so I can start making payments on a MacBook! You know, "once you go Mac you never go back," and I've been banging my head against a Window for the last 5 1/2 years; I want to go back to Mac! It's time.

So there is my projected 2015.

This or something better!
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