Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Mind of an Electrical Engineer

So, we're at dinner tonight with my grandpa, his girlfriend, and a few other people from my mom's work.  The following conversation took place between me, Patrick, my Grandpa, and his girlfriend T while waiting for everyone else to get there.

T:  So, how was your trip to Orlando?  Did you have fun?

Patrick:  Yeah.

T:  Just 'yeah'?

Me:  "Yeah" is high praise for Patrick.

T:  I heard it was cold.

Patrick:  Yeah.

Me:  It was really cold.

T:  How cold was it?

(No, this is not leading to a really bad joke.)

Me:  Well, the highest high was around 72, but there were two days that the highs were in the high forties.

T and Grandpa:  In the day time?

Me:  (flummoxed)  Uh...yeah, the highs were in the high forties.

T and Grandpa:  During the day?

Me:  (why fight it?)  Yeah, during the day.

Leaving me to wonder when, exactly, you would reach your high temperature for the day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This Day in History

So, the week is chugging by. Superhero and Bulldozer were both good today, and I got a very nice email from Superhero's mom when I reported that we're becoming cautiously hopeful that he's getting his raging hormones and testosterone-y temper under control.

In notable news, I found my old iPod -- hanging in a bag on my bedroom door (which is only closed when I sleep, which explains why I hadn't seen it). However, the story of how I found it is not so nice. One of the cats, Pumpkin, has adopted me. Every once in a while, I let her sleep on my bed (but she's a very needy and clingy cat, so I do this sparingly). Last night, I woke to the sound of her throwing up on my bed; when I woke up, I discovered she'd done...err...something else.

So, she's banished for a few days as punishment -- which worked remarkably well last time she was banished (for wetting on the bed). But to keep her out, my bedroom door has to be closed -- hence, me looking at the inside of my door with the lights on for the first time in...a long time.

Patrick is thrilled.

He will be more thrilled when I show him the inside pictures of the Mark VII monorails that I found on mousetimes.

Edited to add: His response was a wide grin, and repeating the phrase, "Wow, cool! Wonderful! That's so wonderful!" about ten times.

In nerdy news, while doing the kids' journals for next week, I stumbled across this tidbit: Caligula's (the bats**t insane Roman emperor, for my non-history-geek readers) real name was Gaius Caesar. I wonder if it's coincidence that Baltar on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica's name is Gaius? (Probably not. He's self-serving and insane. I may have to go back and look for other subtle allusions.)

Also, at some point, if I can find the words, I'd like to blog about the conviction of Katie McCarron's mother.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

That's Better

After a few worrying moments when the hard drive appeared to be dead, the blue LEDs on the front lit up in a reassuring glow.  iTunes and my iPhone have been duly updated.  I'm digging the customizable home pages -- I already moved the "stocks" app and the calculator to a secondary page, and added a few web clips (a fancy way of saying bookmarks) to a few of my favorite sites.

Now to figure out a way to back it up in case it goes kaput again (that one drive holds six years' worth of photos -- around 10,000 at this point -- plus my entire iTunes library, which contains the not-results of the not-thousands-of-hours' worth of rendering my computer did not do while not ripping my DVDs).

On the school front, Bulldozer is still sick and was over it today.  Nothing bad -- a little grouchy, and he did pull M's hair (but she's been teasing him -- grabbing his stuff and giggling as he vocalizes his displeasure -- so it's been coming) and wouldn't go to PE.  Superhero wasn't too keen on that, but the worst thing he did was throw my glasses (which I stepped on -- d'oh! (they're okay now)) and push at his desk...though not for trying, I will say.

Meanwhile, M's label maker is broken.  I have tried all the troubleshooting things that Dymo suggests, so I mentioned today that I'd take it home and go at it with some rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.

"I think we have some in the cupboard," Aide J said.

"Hmm...I'll look, but I only remember cotton balls," I replied.

Bulldozer came, interrupting my quest, and then I went back and foraged.  I found some old cotton cleansing pads from a student I had several years ago and an old toothbrush, but no Q-tips.

"I think we have some Q-tips in there," Aide J said, grumpily, giving me a look.

Flummoxed, I said, "I really only think we have cotton balls."

I was then the victim of dirty looks for quite some time, especially once I took advantage of Bulldozer working independently (hallelujah!) to add some Swiss Family Robinson vocabulary to his Mighty Mo, having learned my lesson when I asked Former Speech Aide A to add stuff for Charlie.

And then I's like the day I didn't want to get run over by a car.

Y'see, with a personality like that, you aren't allowed to know more or better unless they are actively sucking up to you.

When I was about five, I was walking with my grandma to the park near my house.  We were at a fairly large intersection.  We were on the southeast corner of the intersection.  On the northeast corner was a Catholic church and school; on the other corners were houses.

We had to cross from the southeast corner to the southwest corner.  My grandmother, for some inexplicable reason, was watching the light on the northeast corner by the school.  When that turned green, she proceeded to start crossing AGAINST A RED LIGHT AND TRAFFIC to the southwest corner.

I was five, but I knew the rules.  I protested.  I was ignored.  I was essentially dragged across the street.  Halfway through the intersection, with several cars honking at us, she realized what she did and froze, then continued to cross.

(Five is too young to be contemplating your doom by being squished by a car, by the way.)

Anyway, when we got home, my grandmother proceeded to tell the story to my dad.

I, foolishly, was expecting at least sympathy, if not outright praise for knowing that you didn't cross when the light was red.

(I was five, remember.)

I was, instead, sent to my room for being disrespectful, because I'd protested about crossing the street.  Because I hadn't wanted to be roadkill.

Had my grandmother been intending to show off how smart I was -- or, more to the point, what a great grandmother she was for teaching such good life skills to her granddaughter -- she would have told the story with pride.  Instead, because she wanted to be the Expert, I ended up in trouble.

Anyhow, you'd think I'd be able to escape the Martyr Complex personality type someday.  They seem to come by an awful lot though.


Here's a terrifying thought:  Maybe I attract them.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Am a Nerd

(Pretend you're surprised.)

So, Apple announced some stuff today.

When I turned on my computer at school today to do attendance, I opened up and just let it be.  (They auto-refresh during important events.)  When I went back to it at snack time (after my whole class lined up to talk to Patrick on the phone...more on that later), several new things existed in Apple Land.

1.  The Macbook Air.  An odd name for a really, jaw-droppingly pretty computer.  If you're the kind of nerd that finds computers pretty, that is.  The nerd in me is channeling my inner Veruca Salt and demanding that I Win The Lottery Now and buy one...but the adult in me is saying, "No, your PowerBook is still chugging away; it's your desktop that will soon die, and you should be saving your money for that."

So, someday...though the fact that my seven-year-old iBook is also still chugging away as Patrick's portable DVD player makes me a little dismal about how long this one'll last. ;-)  Five hours of battery life is nifty, but I wonder what it would be under real conditions, like watching a movie (that you did not rip and encode yourself, of course...ahem).  Still, there's something about the idea of a computer that weighs three pounds and is narrower than a quarter that's

2.  iTunes movie rentals.  Meh.  I'm a re-watcher (and a re-reader) so I prefer to own my media.  But it's something a lot of people were clamoring for, so hopefully they're happy.

3.  iPod touch update.  Meh.  I don't own one, but it seems to be things that most people expected in the touch in the first place -- they wanted an iPhone without the phone, and that's exactly what the touch is now.  Ironically enough, some posters on macrumors are now complaining that the touch is a phone without a phone.  (Every time there's a big Apple event, I tell myself I won't read the subsequent comments, which are a ridiculous mess of entitlement and whining.)

4.  iPhone update.  Now, that is cool.  Being an organizational freak (on the computer; in real life, I am hopelessly disorganized), I am overjoyed at the multiple home screens.  (I am a nerd, remember?)  I like the "locate me" feature in Google Maps (which, of course, happened shortly after I bought a GPS, but it's nice to have the backup).  I am really excited about being able to view lyrics (nerd, remember?) and navigate movies by chapters (nerd?) as well.

Unfortunately, the external hard drive that held my extensive iTunes library is the one whose power supply died, so I can't install the update until the new power supply comes (and hopefully works).  Boo.  :-(

5.  AppleTV update.  Oooh, I want one of those.  I have ever since it came out.  I have a ton of stuff in my iTunes library (I'm slowly -- oh, so slowly -- um...not-ripping all my DVDs so they can be safely stored away) much so that it doesn't all fit even on my shiny new iPod Classic.  So, while I can watch stuff on my TV that's on my iPod, I can't watch things that haven't been synced over -- and, in situations like this, where I can't access my external hard drive (and, thus my iTunes library) syncing is impossible.

The price came down; you can buy media directly on the device and it'll sync back to your iTunes library (rather like buying something from the iTunes wifi store on your iPhone) -- so in situations where I can't even open iTunes, I could still buy...whatever I wanted to buy.

Problem is, I don't have a TV it'll talk to -- my TV has only the old composite (I think that's the term for the yellow, white, and red things) and coax inputs.  I could buy an Apple TV, buy a Slingbox, plug the Apple TV into that, and the Slingbox into my TV...but that's a lot of expense.

(Now, if Sling comes out with an iPhone client, I might just do that, but at the moment, that's prohibitively expensive.)

And, it'll pull content from...ta-da...the piece de resistance (at least for me).

6.  Time Capsule.  Essentially, network attached storage plus a wireless router all in one.  Also, one terabyte is two hundred dollars less than what I paid for my current network attached storage device (also a terabyte, though an earlier generation of what's on the web page now).

(Ironically, I remember the Christmas that we bought for my dad a -- gasp! -- one gigabyte hard drive.  It was Something then, I tell ya.)

I want one of these so bad, I can touch it right now.

(I am lusting over a networked storage drive.  Kill me now...I am Steve Urkel.)


One of the main reasons I haven't upgraded to Leopard yet is the hassle of Time Machine.  The automated backup concept is awesome, particularly since I have something like fifty in-progress stories...some of which date back to the early 1990s.  (No, I'll probably never finish them, but still.)

The thing is, Time Machine won't work over wireless...the only hard drive I have big enough to tolerate the amount of space the backups would eat up is my terabyte of networked storage.

Until now.

Plus, and this is a huge plus for the Apple TV I don't have but desperately want: it'll pull content from Time Capsule.  So you can pay for the smallest amount of storage because the rest of your stuff is still available on the Time Capsule drive.

It's awesome.

Okay, now that I got my nerdiness taken care of, Patrick decided to walk to Subway for breakfast this morning.  I called him at our snack time, and then let Superhero, who has been having very good days, talk to him.  The next thing I knew, I had every kid in the class except Elastigirl lined up at my desk for their turn to talk to him.  It was very cute.

Superhero did have a minor breakdown today, but he'd been being teased during recess by PH (who then proceeded to squeal for fifteen minutes after recess for the express purpose of getting M to copy him), and he got over it.

Also?  Bulldozer has been put on different medicine.  His parents didn't tell me this, but they did tell our psychologist.

Aide J was out today, and we had a very, very good sub.  All around, a good day.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Volume Discounts

I always take online reviews, particularly of mundane things like external hard drives, with a grain of salt.  I mean, who's really going to write a glowing review of their wonderful new external hard drive?  But if you buy one and it explodes two days later, you're likely to write a review.


All those reviews of Western Digital hard drive power supply issues?

Add mine to my list.

Starburst, we hardly knew ye.

(Also, I think the fact that the replacement costs only $10.00 suggests a certain volume of sales -- since it's a transformer, cord, and plug.  A power supply for an Apple laptop (granted, Apple tends to charge a premium for stuff like that) is around $90.)

In other news, Bulldozer and Superhero both had very good days.  M suffered, as she usually does, from the usual Monday issues -- plus, and it pains me that I've only just put two and two together, her bus is very loud, so she's often coming to school wound up.

Meanwhile, having Aide J out last Thursday and Friday allowed Aides S and T and I to rebuild some team camaraderie without the crazy.  She was...perturbed, shall we say, to find us all happily getting along today.  At least, I think that was it...her body language was pretty clear -- she turned so her back was to even Aide S.

I lived with my grandma's crazy for over twenty years...why, oh why, do I attract more?  Isn't one in anyone's life enough?

Finally, in the miraculous find category, Cat found her long-lost digital camera.  Maybe there's hope for my 5th gen iPod yet.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


So, I'm watching Mystery Diagnosis (hey, it's Sunday, and nothing else is on), and they're talking about this lady -- a mom -- who has a bleeding hemangioma on her spine for which she has to have surgery.

Being on her spine, it's a risky surgery -- there's a chance she will be paralyzed, and there's a chance that she will die.

(Being a feel-good type of "reality" show, neither happens, of course.)

What absolutely boggled me was her response to this.

Slightly paraphrased here, what she said was, "I wasn't so much worried about dying; I was scared that I might be paralyzed."


I realize that because I have daily interaction with folks with a variety of disabilities, I have a slightly different point of view about paralysis and the dreaded Wheelchair.  

A wheelchair gets you from point A to point B.  You are not confined to a wheelchair -- if you have mobility issues, a wheelchair is frees you from being stuck at home, in bed, on your couch, or wherever.

Or, in the case of a young man I once knew, being carried from room to room at school or riding from room to room in an old stroller.

In first grade.

(He adored his wheelchair, especially the sparkly front wheels.)

Now, obviously, paralysis comes with a variety of complications, depending on where the injury to the spinal cord is.

But all that aside -- this lady is a mom.  She has kids.  And she was less freaked about dying and leaving them alone than she was about possibly not being able to walk?

To channel my 80's Valley Girl child...gag me with a spoon.

Coming soon:  A rant about "security" at the happiest place on Earth.  

The short version: it's politically expedient bit of pointlessness that serves to both inconvenience and reassure mindless drones.

Me?  Bitter much?  Nah.