Thursday, February 14, 2008

Memo to Self

If toner dust explodes all over you when you open the box, it's a
pretty clear sign that the toner cartridge is defective.

1. Sigh.

2. Ewwww.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

And Then There Were 134

Best Disney World Pictures

Between Patrick and myself, we took 3,454 pictures at Disney World in the summer.  iPhoto lets you rate pictures with 1 to 5 stars.  I first culled them down to four star images (389) and then pared those down to the really good ones.  As I said before, the main culprit in keeping an image a 4 star or less, as opposed to the 5 star images, were the darned skies.

You will also notice lots of nature photography herein.  Someday, when I'm rich, I really should buy a real macro lens.  And, of course, there's quite a bit of my favorite subject: water.

For the record: Patrick and I come by it honestly.  Our dad was a big photography buff, to the point that he developed his own photos (only in black and white; he was allergic to something you use to develop in color) and has a rather extensive collections of lenses that likely won't fit my aging first-generation Rebel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I Hate Skies

So I'm trying to stay awake after my power nap turned into 2 hours earlier today by finally starting to cull out the really good Disney World pictures from this summer (yeah, I know)...and I've discovered something:  probably 1 in 10 pictures that would otherwise be awesome if I hadn't overexposed the darn sky.  This is more common in the morning pictures when it was gray and overcast, but it pops up just about everywhere.  Grrr.

By the way -- I have a million dollar idea I'm giving away for free: photography classes for people with intellectual disabilities...Patrick takes some very nice photos -- even the ones with weird subjects, as Aide T pointed out, show a good eye for lines and textures.  Plus, it's neat to see what he thinks is interesting and how he views the world.

(Once I pick out the 5 star photos, I'll upload them to Picasa so y'all can see them.  But I have 1000 more to go through.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Costco, Here I Come

I have found my new Seldane.

Let me 'splain.

When I was 12, 13, and just starting to have really bad allergies, my friend's mom -- a nurse -- totally didn't give me and my mom free samples of a nifty allergy medicine called Seldane.

It was awesome.  It worked beautifully.  Stopped my itchy throat (the one allergy symptom I just can't tolerate) in its tracks.

There was only one problem.

Some people didn't read the drug interaction warnings, took Seldane and...something, and died.

No more Seldane.

I have been making do with 4 hour Chlor-Trimeton (only 4 hour; the other dosages just don't work for me), which is difficult to find and only sporadically available, since.

Then, last time I was at Costco (to buy this; yum) I saw that Zyrtec is now available over the counter.  After some investigating, it seems that the double pack at Costco is more or less what Walmart charges for one pack.

But $25 is a lot to spend on something that might make me loopy like Claritin or not work at all like the Allegra I totally didn't borrow from Patrick once.

Well, Ralphs had a packet of five.

Oh.  My.  God.

Unless I wake up with a green forehead or some other ridiculous side effect...I finally have my Seldane back!

(Those of you who don't have allergies will not understand my elation.  Those that do...will.)


You know how you see something every day until you need it? After re-reading the info in their catalog, I've decided to give the Test Me part of Switching on American History a try. It seemed too simple last time, but I've realized that I probably just wasn't setting it up right.

Except that, of course, it's nowhere to be found. Grr. I know I've seen it multiple times just in the last month, and I can't, for the life of me, figure out where it might be.

Meanwhile, New Boy C started today. Either whoever wrote his IEP neglected to mention that everything they said he could do was done with full hand-over-hand prompting, or he was way more traumatized than he appeared. Yikes!

It's not that I mind having to go back and teach more basic skills...that's no big. It's just that it bothers me that they skipped matching pictures, letters, and words and identifying pictures, etc., and went straight into the stuff they said he could do.

We shall see.

Also? Walmart had fake fur in the art department. I am going to see if it would be an acceptable "hair" substitute for M.

Also:  Ha!

Edited to add the d'oh moment of the day:

Me:  (after watching New Boy C be prompted to look inside his snack)  Wooow, we've got some prompt dependence going on.

Aide J:  That's bad?

Me:  ** brain broken **     ** brain broken **   *** abort / retry / fail ***

Aide T:  Uh...yes.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

And Another One

"The twenty-first century: mankind has colonized the last unexplored region on Earth -- the ocean."

Roy Scheider has joined Jonathan Brandis in the great ocean in the sky.  Boo.  :-(

Edited to add:  Yeah, yeah, Jaws.  I was a SeaQuest girl.

The Illusion of Security

Note to DHS computer crawlers: Any circumstances described herein are purely hypothetical.

A while back, I promised a post on security at the Happiest Place on Earth, and then promptly got distracted by the usual stuff.  Having been there today, I decided to revisit the topic.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For the descendants of hardy, self-sufficient pioneers who braved treacherous seas and crossed continents on foot, we've become a bunch of chickens.  I mean, read Little House on the Prairie -- any of you crossed a raging river in a covered wagon lately?

I thought so.

Interestingly enough, I think you can still see some of these character traits in the adrenaline junkies of our time -- the ones who climb mountains because they're there...because they want the challenge, the thrill.

And yet.

And yet, when we feel threatened, we're a knee-jerk-reaction society.  It doesn't help that we're litigious as well.

Case in point: we put ridiculous warnings on things that shouldn't require warnings.  Like taking the baby out of the stroller before you fold it.  But someone, somewhere, was dumb enough to do that, so the company went (knee-jerk) ohmigod we'd better tell people not to do that before they sue us (litigious).

So, after the September 11th attacks, people were trying to figure out other places terrorists might target and assumed (rightly; who knows?) that striking Disneyland or Disney World -- places of perceived innocence and channeling your inner child -- would psychologically hurt.

Okay, fair enough.  Reasonable assumption there.

So what do they do?

Set up security stations where they check your bags.

(Except at Disney World, where they -- intelligently -- have a separate "guests without bags" entrance where you walk in as a security guard looks at you.)

But here's the thing.

Actually, here's Thing Number 1:  What's to say someone didn't dig out the innards of that digital camera and replace it with some plastic explosive, anthrax, or other terrorist-like material?  If you just do a visual inspection, what's the point?

And Thing Number 2:  On many occasions, I have walked right into Disneyland wearing a windbreaker with a large pouch in the front, and have not been stopped by security.  That pouch has contained, variously, iPods, digital cameras, iPhones, cell phones, wallets, and various and sundry other things.

Because that pouch was part of my clothing, and not a separate "bag," it was not inspected.

At this point, I say simply:  See Thing Number 1.

And, finally, Thing Number 3:  On other occasions, I have walked right into both Disneyland and Disney World with pockets full of various electronics, medicines, and a variety of other substances that, while perfectly benign while I carried them, could certainly have been something else.

So, I must ask:  What on Earth is the point of all this?  You stand in long lines to have your bags looked through to absolutely no useful security effect.


Because it makes people -- or, at least, people who don't stop and think about things like this -- feel better.

Just like making people use plastic forks on airplanes makes people feel better, when I could snap off an arm of my glasses and make a perfectly serviceable poking device, useful for inflicting bodily injury on myself or others.

Just like installing security doors in cockpits that only the pilots can open and INCLUDING A FRELLING KEY-LOCK that (I must assume) is pick-able.

Because the illusion -- the appearance -- of safety is all we care about.  We don't think about the uselessness or pointlessness of it all.  We don't think about the fact that terrorism has existed for years and -- while, yeah, it was awful for it to hit us in such a visceral way -- will continue to exist.  We don't think about the fact that flagging one-way tickets is ridiculous, as terrorists would just buy round trip tickets without planning on using the second half.


Instead, we react.  We get knee-jerk-y and emotional.  And we comfort ourselves by making things look safer -- imagine the outcry if Disney hadn't started checking bags (for bombs and poisons and whatnot that STILL BE THERE) after September 11th?

Imagine the outcry if they took the ridiculous security station out now?

And, just imagine what will happen when the next attack comes, and it's a train.  Or a boat.  Or a suicide bomber running into an airport or other crowded place, knowing police are following him and shooting at him and not caring 'cause...well, 'cause he's gonna explode in 30 seconds anyway?

I don't know that there's a good answer, but I do know this: those green-covered tents do absolutely nothing other than placate the masses, and that's sad.  We need to start thinking with our heads again.  We're the country that decided it could go to the moon in a decade and DID, forty years ago.  We're smart.

This isn't smart.  It's an illusion, and if we spend too much time immersing ourselves in the feel-good illusion, we'll be that much more shocked when something else bad happens...assuming we know how to deal with it at all, and I'm not at all sure that we do.

"You either live life -- bruises, skinned knees, and all -- or you turn your back on it and start dying."  -- Captain Christopher Pike, "The Cage."