Saturday, July 07, 2007

Nerd Squee

Hello from Moya, my new iPhone.

Edited to add: I just saw that a few recent comments weren't emailed to me -- among them, Stacey's. If you see this before I get a chance to email you (I'm in nerd heaven, playing with my new toy), I'll email you soonish.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I clicked on my blogger profile for the first time in forever, and there's one setting that I didn't change back after I switched to the "new" (a.k.a. Google) blogger -- my profile said I was a 'he.'

So let me take a moment to assure you that when I complain about my none-too-friendly reproductive system (which is finally quiet for the next 28 days -- just in time for Disney World, of course), I assure you it's as a girl.

Just wanted be clear about that, there.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Good Rant

An MSNBC newsperson has a fun 10-minute long rant about the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence.  Be sure to watch the video.  I agree with him -- but the rant itself is...impressive.  :-)

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's the Little Things

Much was made a few weeks ago of the fact that Apple released its Safari browser (my browser of choice) for Windows as a beta (pre-release) download.

But while that's a momentous change (which my PC doesn't seem to like; I can't get it to work on my PC), of all the small changes I've found in Safari 3, these are the two I like best:
  • "Merge all windows."  I am a tab fiend; I am constantly opening new tabs, especially when doing google searches or checking all my RSS feeds -- I start from the main page and open up tabs from there.  But sometimes a site will automatically open up a new window; in the past, I'd have to close that window and re-open it as a tab.  Now, I just click Window | Merge All Windows, and voila -- all my open windows are tabs in one main window.
  • "Make text normal size."  My eyesight is really bad; rarely do I browse the net at the normal text size.  In fact, one of the first things I do on any text-laden site (e.g. a long blog entry) is bump the size up three or four times.  But there are some sites whose layout gets all screwed up if things are too big, and rather than bumping the size down, I just click apple-0 (or View | Make Text Normal Size) and things are good to go.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

One More Disney World Purchase Down

Just ordered a transport chair (a wheelchair with 4 small wheels -- and hand brakes!) for Patrick for Disney World, because it's becoming very clear that while his thyroid medication helped initially, therapeutic levels have not yet been reached.  So the climate concerns we had about Orlando in August are all still valid.

Plus, pushing him and his girlfriend around the other night actually took a lot of strain off my aching ankle -- I'd stumbled during our APE lesson on Friday -- so having something to stabilize me and prevent me from being boneheaded and clumsy and attempt to break my ankle again will be good.

And, yes, we could have rented one, but there are advantages to having your own, not the least of which will be not having to pay the daily deposit at Disney only to have it re-credited to your account.  (Also, Disney's are old, decrepit, and poorly balanced, which makes pushing a larger gentleman uncomfortable.  Plus, the hand brakes will be very useful -- having spent about 45 minutes keeping Chaline from rolling down various ramps the other night.)

I noticed when Patrick took a few turns in Chaline's transport chair (she's had one ever since she had brain surgery a few years ago) that his whole demeanor changed.  We'd gotten there at the height of the day's crowd, and had to maneuver through some pretty intense mobs.

It's long been my opinion that one of the things that sends Patrick into overload and wanting to go home is his poor eyesight -- his left eye is very lazy, and has a reduced field of vision.  As near as his optometrist can tell, he essentially ignores the input from that eye because it's so confusing.  This means that he's essentially blind in one eye -- and therefore has no depth perception.

Imagine a mob of people in front of you -- a see of faces -- that your already-slow-to-process-things brain has to turn into meaningful information so you don't bump into people.  (This is exacerbated from spending 5 years in high school being yelled at for bumping into people you couldn't see in the first place.)

Imagine, also, that because you have no depth perception, you have no real reliable way to tell how far away these people are.  Someone whose brain processes things faster may be able to take cues from relative size (e.g., that guy is getting smaller, so he must be moving away from me), but your brain just doesn't work that fast.

When Chaline offered him a turn to sit down, a whole load of tension went out of his body -- he became more communicative, for one thing (he was tired and not talkative), and he just seemed happier.  And this was at Disneyland, which he could probably navigate blindfolded.

It's my hope that being able to wheel it, at least part of the day, will relieve a lot of that "oh, my God, who are are all those people, where are they, and are they going to run me over" thing.

It also eliminates my lingering concern over whether they will give him a Guest Assistance Card.  My mom was assured on the phone that they would -- specifically, that if she went in with him and asked for a card that requested that he not wait in the outside portions of the queue for health reasons -- grant one without question, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

A lot of this trip is being planned with Patrick's stamina -- both physical and mental -- in mind.

I was 7 the first time we went, and we ended up missing a day in the parks because I was just too exhausted.  We planned this in, when we went when I was 12, and Patrick was just kind of along for the ride then.

We're planning to upgrade our 8 day tickets to annual passes (somewhere around $150 more) so that if Patrick just can't make it one day, we're not feeling like we're wasting money by not using a day's admission -- the Magic Your Way packages don't allow for what we did last time, which was stay 8 days but only go in the parks 7.

The idea is to fly this summer, then drive back before the annual passes expire for a few more days -- using the lack of expense for tickets and the fact that we won't have to ship them to buy souvenirs, since Patrick will want mostly books.  We'll probably also stay somewhere much cheaper, since we'll have a car and not be reliant on Disney transportation to get Patrick back to a hotel if he is having heat exhaustion issues.

When we went before, when Patrick was 3, it obviously wasn't as much of a concern.  We had strollers, his ticket was still free ('cause he looked 2), and until I got my 2nd degree sunburn, my friend Amie and I could always carry him if he got tuckered.

Post sunburn, even wearing clothes hurt, so Amie (bless her) did most of the 'heavy lifting.'

Today, of course, I can still lift him, but only for about 2 seconds.

He has the issues with dehydration and heat, which is one of the reasons I sprang for the Contemporary Resort (aside from the fact that I have always wanted to stay there) --  we all assume that we will spend most of our time at EPCOT (for me) and the Magic Kingdom (for Patrick).

Our mom will probably go to Animal Kingdom one day without us; while Patrick (who's not a zoo type) will be content to ride a few rides and maybe see Festival of the Lion King, she will want to do the early morning safari and really walk around the animal exhibits.

And MGM Studios only has a few rides -- he's not into shows -- but we'll probably make a couple extra stops to eat there.  (He's a big I Love Lucy fan, and wants to eat the the Hollywood Brown Derby, and I'm a nerd, and want to eat at the Sci-Fi Drive in restaurant.)

We're also staying on the concierge level (when you're paying what the Contemporary costs, what's 30 more a day, when they feed you 2 meals and 2 snacks a day?) so that we can have a microwave and fridge in the room, which we'd otherwise have to pay for -- because he needs a steady supply of liquids to replenish the buckets of...well, you know.

If anyone who has read this far is interested in other Disney World planning information for people with disabilities or other special needs, I highly recommend the PassPorter's Walt Disney World For Your Special Needs Guidebook.  Far beyond the standard mobility information, DHH information, and information in Braille and tactile guidebooks that Disney itself provides, this covers ADHD, the autism spectrum, traveling while ill (e.g. Make A Wish), intellectual disabilities, and even information for people of large size.

As the trip approaches, I'll probably talk some more about the special planning (e.g. how to get a young man who finds bass painful onto a plane where the engine thruuuuummmms for 5 hours straight) that I've been spearheading to make this trip as fun for Patrick as possible.

'Cause, you know, the more fun he has, the more he'll tolerate me wandering World Showcase (which I found only mildly interesting last time, and which I'm really excited to explore)!  :-)

Monday, July 02, 2007


You'd think I'd have learned.

You'd think I'd know what happens when you get over-involved nerds all in one place.

It goes beyond not pleasing some people.  You can't please anyone.

So why am I browsing  Well...I dunno.

In a few threads, they have been talking about speculated updates to both the iMac and MacBook product lines -- with people thinking that both lines would become touch screen interface (multitouch) a la the iPhone.

As usual, the folks commenting are very polarized.  Some think it's a revolution of computing -- as revolutionary as the mouse was originally.  Some think that a purely touch interface would be tiring to use (it probably would be).

But as someone who has used a touch screen (granted, not exclusively, and not as elegant as multitouch), I can see its uses.

See -- one of the computers in my class was donated by the Amanda McPherson Foundation and has a touch screen.  It's been invaluable for one of my students, who does not understand how to use a mouse -- nor does she have the fine motor capability to do so.

Having a touch screen enables her to interact directly with the computer.  It allows me to make activities for her with ChooseIt Maker 2 to practice classroom vocabulary words and other receptive vocabulary.  Without a touch screen, she would also have to understand how to use a single switch in scanning mode.

Having a touch screen also allows me to use SwitchIt Maker 2 to adapt the books we read in class (which are already adapted, but that's a story for another day) into cause and effect computer games for her, so that she can be involved in what we do.

With a touch screen, she can make choices in Switching On American History and learn important computer skills (choosing a picture), as well as participate in age-appropriate general education curriculum (she's entering 5th grade next year).

With a touch screen, she can use Teach Me to Talk to practice her expressive vocabulary in a low-stress environment, where speech seems to come easiest to her.

Now, I realize this I'm talking about a niche market here.  The student I'm describing has significant cognitive challenges due to Down syndrome.  It's my gut feeling that she also has autism.  She has very little verbal communication (though, boy, is she an effective communicator!) and challenges with eye-hand coordination (except when she's throwing masking tape at me) and fine motor skills.

But as far as I'm concerned, the more common touch screens become, the more accessible computers will become as well.

(And, I have to admit, when I'm setting something up on the computer that E. uses, I often eschew the mouse and use the touch screen myself.  Not exclusively, certainly -- especially when precision and/or multiple clicks are involved -- but it's convenient and easy.)

And, boy, did that turn into a book that I didn't intend to write.  Hm.

(By the way, there's a green dot next to the Simi Apple store.....)

Another Grammar Lesson

Namely, [sic].

You put [sic] within a quotation to show that you know the thing you're quoting has some sort of grammatical error or unusual usage.

So:  "The dog was seen eating it's [sic] dinner."

The [sic] indicates that, yes, I know, it should be its, but the rules of quoting someone mean I'm not at liberty just to change their wording.  My options, therefore, are adding [sic], or using an ellipsis and brackets, thusly:  "The dog was seen eating . . . [its] dinner."

In the first, I just admitted that I saw the mistake but that it was not mine; in the second, I used an ellipsis to indicate an omission (granted, only one word) and used the brackets to re-orient my readers.

This is prompted by this quote, from Peter David's post on Bush's commuting Scooter Libby's sentence (which is a rant for another day, but for the record -- how smarmy can you get?):  "George Tenet provides faulty intel on Iraq?  Medal.  Horrible treatment of detainees at Abu Ghirav (Sic)?"

Okay, I appreciate that you don't know how to spell Abu Ghraib -- of course, a simple google search would probably have netted you the answer.  (I used "Abu Graib prison Iraq" and it popped up the spelling correction right away.)

But in Internet parlance, you did not mean "(Sic)."  You likely meant (sp?).  You were not quoting someone else; therefore, you may not use [sic].

I know I'm a grammar nerd; I also know that, given that I started elementary school in the early 80s -- in the age of Whole Language and new math -- I was fortunate to go to a private school where the teachers were distinctly "old school" in their teaching approach -- phonics, direct grammar instruction.  I remember having to re-do an assignment in 3rd or 4th grade in which I used their, they're, and there incorrectly.

But, gosh, what on Earth is happening to the English language?

By the way -- i.e. means "that is," while e.g. means "for example."  The two are not interchangeable.

1.  I have a headache; i.e, my head hurts really badly. -->  I have a headache; that is, my head hurts really badly.

2.  J. has lots of good rote skills; e.g., she can add, subtract, multiply, count by 5s and 10s.  -->  J. has lots of good rote skills; for example, yadda yadda yadda.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


I do not have an iPhone...but it's not for lack of trying.

See my earlier post about falling in love with the device within a few minutes of playing with it.  I tried really hard to talk myself out of it, but finally reviewed the additional money I will make by home teaching 3 hours a week this summer...and decided I could swing it.

So I checked the iPhone availability website, which showed a nice green dot next to the Northridge mall.


...the green dot lied.

And now, there are red dots next to all Apple stores in California, except 2 stores in San Francisco.

Oh well...nice to have enforced impulse control.

Meanwhile, for those of you who think I'm weird for not liking peanut butter cups, you'll be pleased to note that I love eating peanut butter sandwiches with chocolate milk.

Tune In

I don't talk about it much, but when my mom's family moved to the Valley in the late 1950s (from the duplex they'd lived in on Washington Blvd. since moving from Pennsylvania in 1955), both she and my aunt had small parts in several TV shows, among them Wagon Train and Leave it to Beaver.

My mom's current boss is very fascinated by this; me, not so much.  Perhaps that comes from having supported an actress's son in an inclusive environment and getting to know her just as M's mom.  And, by extension, realizing that celebrities are Just People too.  Or seeing her excitement when her show as on hiatus for the summer and she could actually pick up and drop off M at school, and realizing that acting, like everything else, is a job -- and a hard one at that.

Or perhaps it's because I've only ever seen one of my mom's episodes.

If you tune into TV Land next Saturday, you'll see the Leave it to Beaver episode where Beaver sneaks out to a movie theater and, in true sitcom form, promptly wins a bike -- which, of course, it hard to explain if you were supposed to be grounded.

In the movie theater scene, my mom is the blonde behind Beaver who is eating popcorn.  She would have been between 9 and 10 at the time of filming.

I'm not a huge Leave it to Beaver fan (nor do I enjoy Wagon Train or (I think) Gunsmoke) so I probably won't watch, but I figured it was worth mentioning.