Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Alarming

Getting out of the van this evening, I set off the car alarm. I'd had that button taped over, but the tape had apparently eroded. To turn off the silly thing, you have to start the car, which of course would take any New York City kid about thirteen seconds if he was wearing gloves. Plus, the HONK HONK HONK is so common, we assume that it's someone who inadvertantly set it off. We don't even look up. About the extent of our involvement is to swear mildly if it goes on for more than a few seconds.

Man falls into a vat at the chocolate factory. Flailing about, he screams FIRE!!! People come running, and they drag him out. Why'd you yell Fire? they ask. He replies "If I'd yelled Chocolate, would you have come?"

What's needed is an alarm that's truly alarming. Something that gets your attention. Something like -- a scream. Recorded in your voice, blasted into the air. Shouting your name. (And transmitting it to the cops, just to keep it being used as a prank). Bellowing HELP!!!!!

All this as an installable dealer option.

I would turn and look. Wouldn't you?

Ten Things

This article, about the ten most important things they didn't teach in your school (mine, neither), is written to be funny. But the really funny thing is that if you read it -- it's absolutely true. Some of them, I wish they were real classes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Bang 2

(Referencing a truly great Doctor Who episode)

88 Keys

Casual Delight

I received an email this morning from a French friend.

Not the one we'd had here, but her mother. From whom I'd despaired of ever hearing. Whom I'd convinced myself had in fact washed her hands of us, including any offers to visit with them at their home in France.

The email was to ask when we expected to come there, so that they could be sure they'd be available.

To say that I was, and am, delighted, is to put it mildly.

RoboRat

I am as likely as anyone to panic at the thought of what evil can be accomplished with a group of bright young people and cutting edge technology. Take, for example, the recent financial meltdown, which was born from greed and facilitated by technology. But when I read articles like this one about a robot that's controlled by rat brain cells which have been cultured -- I'm obscurely delighted. I see improvements for paralyzed people. That it also is a step closer to cybernetic RoboCops..... well, I'll table that fear for the moment.

Yet Again...

We're all going in different directions today.

Right now - well, not right now - I'm studying French. This morning I realized that the 'wagon lits' of The Orient Express referred to 'sleeping cars', 'lit' being French for bed, which knowledge made me happy. Just after lunch, I'm going over to the hospital to talk with a woman for whom I've been doing some pro bono consulting (I put it that way because it sounds classier than 'something to keep me off the streets', plus it reminds me that I would like to earn some money doing this).

My wife is over at the elementary school, starting the project of sewing the incredibly complex flags for this season's color guard. In about ninety minutes she'll be home for a quick lunch, then going up to her mother's home to attend the funeral of a relative who died abruptly two days ago. She'll be back mid-tomorrow, in time to bake the manicotti she's making as dinner for the color guard folks (dinners are supplied by volunteer parents).

My daughter's over at the same school, doing one of her twelve hour practices that are so intense, she was limping this morning from the practice yesterday, the concept of 'vacation' having apparently eluded their instructors.

I'm pretty sure the cat is just staying here today, so that's something.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

BuzzTron


Went to see Tron:Legacy (pretty good; buy popcorn before you go in).
But I'm pretty sure this guy wasn't in there.



Found Here.

Learning

I spend a fair amount of time studying French. It's coming....slowly. Based on the little I've accomplished, I can say: This guy knows what he's talking about.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Concepts

The Terminator is essentially the same movie as A Christmas Carol. What? Yeah.....it is, when you really think about it.

The trick is to come up with that connection without reading the article. Or, having read it, to reliably apply it elsewhere.

Oh, and how can a Bond film be a great film but not a great Bond film? (Hint: When you like it but don't want to watch it more than once.)

Santa Lives....WHERE?

I had no idea......

So There I Was....

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How's THAT Grab Ya?

Prosthetic WHAT?

Snow? Wha?

No snow here yet. Maybe a trace by tomorrow. I know, I should be happy. Still.....

But I got to play with my new torch!

Sing It, Dudes!

When I was in high school, my very large chorus, on its way home from a Saturday practice, gathered in the local subway station. After waiting for awhile, we started doing riffs from our recent practice. And then, we did, from start to finish, the Hallelujah Chorus, which, with the underground acoustics, sounded pretty damned good.

But not as impressive as these folks, I think.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reactions

My daughter is awesome.

Everything's opened. She's looking around, smiling, but her voice has just the slightest quaver when she says Is that....ALL...of them?

We look at each other. I think so, I say. My wife says Though the cat has been dragging some things ...behind ...the tree. Why don't you look there? Just to be sure. She scurries back, dives under the tree, come up with a certain package....

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Nintendo DSi)


......and a very Merry Christmas to all of you, too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Joyeux Noel á Tous

...et á tous, une bonne nuit.

Terror

There is no terror quite like that of a parent who hid the gift really well.... and then can't find it.

Nice One, Lex

Lexmark is likely a division of LuthorCorp. No doubt about it.

I just spent the better part of four hours trying to get our Lexmark 5150 all-in-one printer to connect to the new Windows 7 PC. Nada. Looked at lots of sites that Goggle belched forth when given Windows 7, printer, driver, Lexmark. Found lots of people saying Thees no work, senor. Lots of comments about you got to fake it out, got to use the Vista driver, Vista doesn't talk to network printers (though the since-deceased Vista PC did), you got to install it as a LOCAL printer, even though it isn't. One guy even used the word "poodlefake".

Along the way, I accidentally clicked 'connect to the Laserjet', which is our older HP Laserjet 5, and it connected immediately, printing a test page with no problems whatsoever.

But the Lexmark?
Windows is unable to connect to the printer.
Error code 0X000000D


That D is a hex 13, and, at least on mainframes, a hex 13 is SVC 13, which is a call to ABEND. Dead Meat. Roadkill. Or as one of the three different people I spoke to on Lexmark chat support said, you can't connect PCs of two different operating systems to the same printer.

WHAT?????

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Honor

Planning

One of the small traditions of our neighborhood is that we give trays of cookies and such to a few of the neighbors, right around this time of year. As my wife and daughter are away overnight, getting home around mid afternoon tomorrow, and as we're (probably) going up to my mother in law's house Saturday morning (right after my daughter gets her lingering question answered: did we get her the Nintendo DS that she really wanted?), it's going to be me doing the baking. Which is fine with me.

So, tomorrow morning, I do two things.

First, bake about forty or so chocolate chip cookies.
Second, melt a mess of white chocolate (carefully!!!), submerge pretzels into it, and drop multicolored sprinkles on the still-moist pretzels.

And then, when my wife comes home, we package it up and deliver it.

That's the plan.

Some Goodness

Mildly pleased. Last night I read a page of the Easy French Reader without (much) difficulty. Still much to do, but still: I'm pleased.

Oh, and the dental surgeon says my mouth looks pretty good (not great, but not bad). So I'm pleased about that, too.

Now, if my wife and daughter were here, instead of staying in Philadelphia overnight to see Cirque de Soleil, it'd be just about poifect.

Video

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Driven

Just spent about two hours configuring my daughter's new PC.

Apparently, Lexmark didn't see fit to release a Windows 7 driver for their 5150 printer. But they say that the Vista driver should work.

This opinion, not shared by people who post about such things. Apparently, it will kind of work. But not totally.

Ah.

Baking

I had planned to do a fair amount of baking, this holiday season..... but then things happened.

The abrupt problems with my dental implants, where I went from those things are rock solid to there's bone loss across all of them, and you're going to lose this one in, no kidding, two weeks. Put the kibosh on the merry holiday spirit all by itself. And dealing with the contractors for the siding and the roof, which was a major cataphony every day, though the results, I must say, are rather nice. We did lose the screwed-into-the-window-frame thermometer that we've had since about a year after we moved into the house, but we replaced it with a remote-display dealie - the sensor sits in one of the kitchen windows, out of the direct sun and exposed to the outside air, and the two remotes sit inside -- one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen. No more going to the window to see what the thermometer says. I can't quite read it...the sun is behind it/the window is frosted... So that was a good result from an unfortunate thing. And then there's French, and France, and people from France, not all of them, but certain ones, where I think it's been pretty obvious how I feel, and of course I could go on for about an hour about that.

So all of this has kind of kicked me out of the baking mood. But, like shaking off the mood that contemplation of the last in that list (I can do it, but I have to work at it), getting into the baking mood is possible. I have to work at it, but it's possible.

So today, I think I'll bake.

Scooby-Don't


Found on Piccsy.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Awake?

Every parent's done it.

You're half asleep. Perhaps it's the middle of the night. And you hear that sound. A muted wail. Your child needs something. It's not an urgent sound, just a it sure would be nice if someone got up and fed me, maybe changed my diaper kind of sound. You freeze. Maybe your partner will think you're asleep and be a nice person, get up and take care of it.

The wail recurs. Dammit. I guess I'll have to get up -- then you feel the slight movement in the bed. Is the partner getting up? The movement stops -- dammit -- then starts again. Yes! Yes! I get to stay in bed! They're getting up!

This morning. Daughter's 16. Our alarm goes off. The daughter's alarm goes off. Nobody moves.

And eventually....one of us gets up....stumbles to the door... raps on the daughters door.

Which is better: the feeling of glee at being about to sleep in, or the feeling of self-righteousness at getting up?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Enterprise

Conversations

This morning, my daughter asked me to drive her into school.

When we walked into the garage, I laughed. She asked why. I told her that yesterday I had walked into the garage and the heater was running a lot -- so much that the garage was toasty warm. That was pleasant, but I didn't like the idea of heating the garage so well. And it bothered me to think that my car was in better living conditions than some families. I went on to tell her about an article I read this morning from the current issue of The Economist, about unemployment insurance, and how for many families its a fraying lifeline. I said that I understand the standard Republican view that you can't fund unemployment insurance forever, that you're mortgaging generations unborn, but when I hear about people who are trying desperately and there's just no jobs to be had, I can't help but be angry at Republicans for sticking to that principle, no matter the cost. We talked a little about whether you have to always stick to your principles, and if not, how do you decide when to bend.

It was an interesting conversation.

Local News

Last night, decorating the tree, my daughter and I talked about the relative attention that student activities get. She was irritated that the sports teams get attention no matter how they do -- Football Team Loses Again; Let's All Go Cheer For Them! -- while other activities, from color guard to chess to math club can get recognition only if it's truly amazing -- and even then, on page six of the student newspaper. I told her that I believe it's for two reasons; first, that schools are used to cheering for physical sports of the conventional kind -- but we work just as hard as the football team! she said. Maybe you should wear pads and do tackles, I suggested -- and second, our society has the same bent. We're not willing to recognize effort that doesn't show in sweat. I told her about when it happened in my high school, too. Not fair, she replied. I agreed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reading

I like to read, and I like to read about various things - usually, things that really don't have anything to do with my daily life. Sometimes, what I read just fuels a fantasy life -- like the article I just read about Moleskin notebooks, and how excellent they are (also, how you can buy a virtual clone for a quarter the price); I love the feeling of good quality paper, and I love using a good writing implement. Or an article I read about a church that was converted into a home; the idea of a home with soaring ceilings and massive chunks of stone for a walkway, light filtering through stained glass -- I love to muse over that (I think its that kind of thing that fuels my occasional desire to do more with our home, nice as it is.) Or articles about a new style of traffic signal (it looks like an hourglass; I don't like it -- any light that has to be explained isn't quite right, no matter how ingenious), or hydroponic engineering, or how you go about designing a very tall building.

The problem isn't finding these articles. Google Reader, and RSS, does a nice job of that. (Could be better, but not a lot better. Though I hate it when I subscribe to a comic and for some reason the comic doesn't show up in the reader -- the associated text does, but not the comic. Why is that? ) The problem is that when I read these things, I frequently like to slow down, reading -- thinking about the concepts, mulling them (nothing deep, just more than read the words and get done). And all of this takes time. So when I go to GRdr and it says I have over a thousand articles waiting to be read, I get a little stunned. I can't possibly read all of those! So I go and read the comics, and look at four or five articles, and then think well, enough of this. Leaving, oh, nine hundred ninety-plus articles left to read. Or ignore, but at least notice.

There has to be a better way. And sometimes, I think: You're so smart? YOU figure it out. And ideas do occur to me - but implementation?

Ay, there's the rub
.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Get Right On That

There's a guy who's known for being a guru of great ideas. Ideas that cause people to say Damn, why didn't I think of that? Here's one of his offerings:

What are you working on?

If someone asks you that, are you excited to tell them the answer?

I hope so. If not, you're wasting away.

No matter what your job is, no matter where you work, there's a way to create a project (on your own, on weekends if necessary), where the excitement is palpable, where something that might make a difference is right around the corner.

Hurry, go do that.


Just me, or is that a little sparse? This (found here) , on the other hand, makes mucho sense :



Humiliation

Apparently, even diplomatic status isn't enough to keep the TSA Gropers from doing their thing. And yours, too.

Observation

"Powerful" in computers is a term that is misleading at best and rapidly obsolete at worst. I have never had a computer that could play The Sims fluidly.

Black Plastic

Solutions that involve the use of black plastic twist ties are inelegant. Why is that?

Latte -er, Perhaps

I would like to be able to make a Starbucks Frappacino at home, so I don't have to find, yet again, that on our rare visit to the only SB's in the area, that woman is again hogging one of the two comfortable chairs. I swear, she lives there. But I don't want to spend the bucks for a hissing espresso maker to do it.

Bookmark This

Read a brief article this morning about how a fellow discovered that as he bookmarked more and more, the probability of his being able to find such bookmark when it would be helpful grew less and less. Ah, I thought, yes, of course. Do you have an answer?

Nope.

My thought: A Bookmark Keyword Generator and Deleter. Periodically runs through your bookmarks, purging the ones that haven't been used in, oh, a year. (More elegant: some period of time related to how often you create a bookmark. More often? Faster. Not so often? Slower.) Yes, I know that bookmarks don't have dates-of-creation. They should.

And for the remainder, runs out and pings the site shortly after creation. If it doesn't exist any more, flags the bookmark for deletion. (Shoves it into a Deletion folder.) If it does, grabs the metadata and creates a keyword index. You then use a search engine to scan your bookmarks. (Which, I gather, Google kind of does, though I never really understand the results it says it finds 'already on your computer'. Half the time, I go looking, and don't see where it found them. Not to mention the oh my god is that there still? Purge it quick! stuff. )

So that's my contribution to the solution.

Sticky

As the length of time involved in any process including the use of superglue goes up, the probability of a successful conclusion goes down.

Bookie

I had to hide my bookmark for Facebook. I may have to delete it.

Reason is (not that anyone will care but me), I was getting -- and likely will get again -- manic over why don't I get responses when I post a response on the French kid's page? I know why. It's because I'm not French, I'm not a teen. But the reason doesn't matter. Objectively, I don't think such mania is a good thing. But I do it. I give in to it way too often. Then I go nutso. Should I even be STUDYING French? Should we even go at all??? Driving myself directly to crazyland, just because I want a person and her family to like me when they barely even know me. As my wife said, I want a warm, growing friendship, right now. Yeah. That's about right. And using the bookmark feeds that.

So I made it a little harder to do. It won't stop me. But maybe it'll slow me down just a bit.

Oh, and I changed the password to something that'll remind me, too.

DisManaging

Last night, I dreamt about management. It was kind of weird.

Basically, I found myself trying to be the leader of a bunch of people who were pretty disorganized, and at times my organizational skills helped them along. But I noticed, unwillingly, that they didn’t like it – that there were times when I got the feeling that they’d rather be disorganized than effective; they felt that in organization they were losing something that made them effective. I could almost see that point of view. But I also thought that in being disorganized they were losing something effective, losing the ability to get returns for their efforts, and that frustrated me. At one point we were supposed to be handing out packets of information to everyone. This was important stuff, like packets of airline tickets and passports. I knew that in the past we’d get to a point where we’d think that everyone had their stuff, and then someone would say no, they were missing their ticket, or they didn’t know what the ticket was supposed to look like, or they had someone elses passport - so it was pretty important to do it carefully and precisely – here’s what you should have, do you have it, okay, next. Their feeling was that I was taking authority and, more importantly, responsibility away from people. Its their material, they’d say, if they screwed up and didn’t have the right stuff, they’d get hurt, so let them take responsibility for themselves. Yeah, I’d argue, but the downside is that if they mess up, they affect not just themselves but others too – now person one has person two’s passport, so two people are affected. At some point the costs of disorganization are too high, you need that central control. But I had to acknowledge their point too, that there are times when the costs of organization are too high, you do lose something vital. The phrase "Just Enough Management" came to my mind.

And then I woke up.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Coming To Town

Residential

Ah, mi casa impossible.

I can just hear the mellow sounds of the guitar....the sweet aroma of a Garcia y Lozenge Grande.....the soft leather of the armchair......the crackling of the logs in the fireplace.

Wait, was that ....gunfire? From the treeline? Damned rebels!

Update

The dental trauma is slowly coming to a close. Bleeding has stopped on one side, mostly on the other. Oddly, the guy who told me not to sleep with the denture in place is telling me that I should -- but not, as I suggested, to sleep with the gauze in place. Said having the denture there overnight would 'allow the clot to form'. I thought didn't the gauze do that? but my wife thinks maybe he was worried I'd swallow it during the night - and then, you know, I'd wake up and my pillow would be gone!

One thing I'll bet my life on: he's trying to compensate for the failures of my primary dentist. Today's services - the nurse, the anesthesiologist, him - were essentially free.

Images I'd Never

....show to my daughter...much as I'd like to!



Found here. And here.

Oldies But Goodies

video

Naming

Things are named for people whom we should admire, and usually don't.

Highways are named for people of obscure achievement ( does anyone remember who Major Deegan was? I grew up thinking that a Deegan was just a way of naming a street, and that somewhere there was a Minor Deegan, Lesser Deegan, whatever.) Schools are named for politicians. Remember kids: Always say that you expect to be vindicated when all of the facts are known! Sports stadiums are named for corporations - gee, Ma, when I grow up, I want to play at GlobalTerminexFed Stadium and Used Car Lot!!!! Libraries are named for the person who donated the most money to it, which is why my town library has the name of a some local guy rather than the name of the community. Good luck finding them in the phone book.

But every so often.....

I learned yesterday that our French student's first school -- her lycée -- is named after Hyacinthe Friant. A man whom, among his other accomplishments, can count this: development of a new class of cheese.

Now that's classy.

Update

Dental surgery's over.

Good news is, it went pretty well. Though I was aware of it going on, I didn't really know about it. They call it 'twilight sleep'.

Bad news is, I'm definitely going to lose one of the implants, and very soon, too. Ah, well. I'm a little disappointed, but I'm kind of past the point of being pissed at the general dentist whose delay is (I believe) the cause of the problem. It is what it is: move on.

Though it reinforces that you really do have to drive your own health care. At the end of the day, the medical person goes home, and, odds are, they don't think about you till something makes them think about you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WAL

WhatALesbian is an interesting site. When I see comments on there like this one:

PROUD of my education
IN LOVE with my girlfriend
EXCITED for a future that combines the two

I'm pleased for them. My daughter asked once how we would feel if it turned out that she was a lesbian, and I said that although I'd be a little concerned about her future, and how people would treat her, I'd still love her as much as I ever did. I don't think that's the route she's going to take, but when I see sites like WAL, I'm a little less concerned about the results if she does.

Furthermore....

Okay, I feel a little better about French. I still can't do the stuff I mentioned wanting to do, but now I understand the phrase "Je suis tombé" (I fell) a little better.

I knew that it almost-literally meant "I am fallen", but I did not know that it comes from the verb Tomber, to fall, or that it can be used to describe multiple things, from falling in love to the fall of a drape. Even fainting -- Je suis tombé dans les pommes, which literally translates to I fell in the apples. Go figure.

Anyway, I always feel better when I know things like that. Boosts my self-esteem. Thank you, About French!

Nervosity

I can be a wimp at times. Things get stuck in my head, and I find it hard to dislodge them.

Take this dental surgery tomorrow. It's really not going to be any big deal - in fact, the guy was going to do it with just Novocaine (or whatever they're using, these days), but decided that since he would have to use a lot of it to numb the two areas, he'll just use a light anesthetic. They've done this before. The way they describe it, they knock me out completely, then bring me partially awake for the procedure. I'm not nervous about that. What I'm nervous about is the amount of pain I'll feel afterwards. I'll have drugs (mostly OTC stuff, but I still have some heavy-duty ones), so its not a big deal - except in my mind, where I remember the one time he did some suturing in there and nicked a blood vessel. Two hours after getting home, my mouth was still bleeding. Only happened once, ten minutes back in his office, it was fixed, but still: juddering feelings. So I'm nervous about that.

And I'm a little grumpy about my progress in French. The other day I actually exchanged a note with the French kid, and I wrote it in French. I also wrote it in English, and used Google Translate to convert it, so that she actually got three versions -- English, GT, and my version. I compared the last two, and, at least to my eye, it wasn't that bad -- I got about seventy percent of it right. Still, I want to be able to just say things. For example, this is an image from a checkpoint this morning in Rosetta Stone:

The idea is that they give you a blank 'say this' box; you look at the box to its right to figure out what the response was, and that tells you what you want to say. These kids are saying "Yes, we're on the same football team", so you know that you want to say "Do you play football", or something along those lines. And I just draw a blank. Eventually, I think Um...Sommes Usted....and then I stop, because Sommes is we are but I want you are. And Usted is Spanish, not French. Dammit! Then RS pops the phrase up for me to just read (coincidentally counting it as wrong because I said nothing at all that the speech recognition engine could recognize as any of the words it was looking for), and I think Oh, yeah, right, Are you on the same football team, that's what I wanted to say. Why can't I just do that yet, dammit??? It's been THREE MONTHS!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Events

We're under a little pressure, this week.

Last night, I abruptly realized that if we decorate the tree as planned this weekend, it'll have been up for less than a week before Christmas. Less than a week! How did the holiday season get so compressed? I know, Thansgiving is late this year, and all, but still: where did that time go?

I think my daughter has the worst of it. She says that shes gotten so much homework and projects to do, she ran out of space in her agenda book to note it all. She's convinced that her instructors are loading up for the holiday week. That would be the same holiday week as when she has all day -- 12 hours a day -- color guard practice for five straight days. They're bringing in an outside instructor, you see, which is expensive, so the local people are trying to get as much time with him as they can. Screw that these kids might have a life outside of color guard, let alone, educational stuff to do. This is about when I say how stupid activities like this are, and get overridden again. How many scholarships does color guard give out, again?

We did get one nice piece of news relative to our financial status, but overall - man. This is one hurried season.

Monday, December 13, 2010

tank smudge

If you want to know, you'll have to go here. But if you're a geek, you'll likely laugh a lot when you get there.

PostBang

The new roof covering is on, and the new siding is on. The hammering and banging are over. Should we do this again, we'll make sure not to be in the house when they're working. As predicted, our daughter prefers the older color -- we went from pure white (stained over twenty years) to a very light cream.

I exchanged notes with the French kid. In French. Very bad French, but in French. I liked that. I still don't know why just contact with the kid delights me as if it were my own daughter, but it does -- and my nascent ability in French adds to it.

We used the online grade lookup today for the first time. Our daughter will not be happy with what we've found.

Tomorrow I meet with my mentee for the first time. I have this image of a kid whose family was willing to wait for two months before turning in their form. Don't want to prejudge him. I do intend to be more attentive to his tests and grades, though.

Wednesday, the last Santa of the season, at a neighbor's house.

On Thursday, I have the dental surgery. As things go, it should be minimal. They're going to knock me out for it, which is a good thing. But anything where you have to take pain meds afterwards does cause me a certain amount of angst.

And, oh year, we will put up the tree this weekend.

Enough for a while, I should think.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Livres

While at Rizzoli's, I bought a book in French, just to practice on.

I've discovered something. Those footnotes that are used to explain something? In a French book, they're in French, too. And if you can't read a paragraph, skipping to the next won't make things any better.

I'm on page two. Gonna be here a while.

Fake? Rats

This is apparently fake. Darn it.

Gender


From a web page talking about a product called Diaspora; specifically, the box marked "Gender". Apparently, it's both optional and an opportunity for creativity.

SantaCon

This is awesome.






Post Nyawk

We survived our trip to New York City.

The bus itself was comfortable. Certain things could have been better, but overall, it was a good thing. In the city, we were let off at Seventh and 49th, and promptly started walking north, hitting an Au Bon Pain (which delighted me for two reasons; one being that I was hungry, and such places tend not to exist in the burg where I live, and the the other that I could read the name). We walked over to Fifth, and then north up Madison, finally making into Central Park Zoo, which location I think I've only been into twice in my life. It was great, as much for the people watching as for the animals. In a darkened room we watched penguins up close, diving, swimming underwater, and preening. We saw the famous red-butted monkeys going through a mating dance (Me: Talk about guys who can't get a date. Wife: Oh, he can get a date. But that's all he's going to get.) We saw flightless cranes and lumbering primates. It was great. Also great: the Rizzoli bookstore, which was the kind of bookstore I remember, before the mallification of bookstores. (Me, to clerk: It's a good thing I don't live closer. I'd be a lot poorer.) And I would, too. We walked down Fifth again, stopped in at St. Patricks, aka Mob Scene Central, jogged a block over to check out The Tree (massive, and brilliant). And, oh yes: SantaCon was in full force.

We had a good time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Chaotic, Semi

Things have been a bit chaotic around here. Mostly that's due to the guys working on the roof and siding. Being inside a house that's being resided is not fun. Many, many WHAM WHAM WHAM interruptions. Pictures shifting on the wall, ceiling lights vibrating in their sockets. Plus, its a little weird to be sitting in the kitchen, doing stuff on the laptop, and look up to see three guys staring in at you. Actually, they're more interested in the siding they're cutting, but it feels almost effete -- I'm in here, warm and casual, they're out there, shivering and working hard. They were supposed to be done today, but not -- probably at about 90%. With luck, tomorrow.

Which is when the two of us will be gone all day, taking a bus trip up to New York while the offspring spends the day doing color guard stuff. Not expecting much, and almost certainly not going to be buying anything -- feeling the normal pre-Christmas sense of impoverishment, which sense not helped by having to buy a replacement laptop for the daughteroid. Her Dell got all frakked up, to the point where even the 'reload from the protected partitition' didn't help. We're convinced she downloaded something lethal. I just can't get the partition to start, either from the restart partition or the Vista reinstallation CD. Apparently, I really shouldn't have told it to wipe that partition-- it keeps telling me it either a) can't find a Boot program, or b) on reinstallation, can't find its drivers -- sometimes, can't even read all of it its own files. If I were more tech-savvy, I'd play with the BIOS and such, but I'm not. If I want to frustrate myself, there's always my attempts to get a decent French accent.

Speaking of French, I'm in the depressive stage of Will we ever see that French kid again, let alone, her family? Right this moment, I'm thinking not. I want them to be giddy with the possibility of meeting us, you see; I want the kid to light right up at the sight of us at the door. Ten, fifteen years from now, keeping in touch, visiting each other.... Don't hold your breath. But I sent them such a nice Christmas card! With a note!!! In French, yet!!! I know, I expect too much. Perhaps the trip will distract me. I'll get a decent New York City hot dog, for sure. Maybe some pizza, too. An egg cream? Not out of the realm of possibility. Distractions. Because when I think about studying French now, my reaction is why bother? (This post speaks to me, on that whole topic.)

I did get the kitchen Christmas tree up. Cat likes it. A lot. Get out of there, dammit!

Friday

So, we have workers busily nailing siding outside. And in about an hour, who's going to emerge from the house?

Santa. On his way to a local kids group.

Should be interesting....

Thursday, December 09, 2010

PC Death

Looks like my daughter's PC has bit the dust. Excellent timing - right after we've spent all the money on her that we were planning to spend.

Heat

On a home remodeling program, they showed where a fireplace chimney had actually scorched the framework of the house.

Just now, I looked at the spot where we used to keep our outdoor grille. The siding is off, and you can see the insulation. It says 'Product is combustible'.

And it's melted.

Noises

Siders are here. Cat is in freakout mode.

Notes

Borrowed a copy of the Lonely Planet French Phrase Guide from the library (the only copy in the entire Pennsylvania system, if the catalog's to be believed). I like it. It told me how to say "He's an ass" in French, along with the helpful observation that the phrase, in French, literally translates to "He's shitting." Ah, the language of culture.

Wife's taking the day off. We're going to do a little lightweight Christmas shopping. Nothing fantabulous. Not in a fantabulous mood, at the mo. But still, should be fun. And on Saturday we're going up to New York City for the day, just to walk around, and remind myself why I really don't mind not living in a big city. You tawkin' to me?

I could stand to go to the gym today. I've been tired a lot, with this lingering cold, and haven't been going. I won't go so far as to say I miss it, but I do miss the results, and the sense of mild satisfaction when done. I could use some satisfaction, today. Perhaps I'll glance at AutoCorrect . It makes me smile.

But first, got to drive the kiddo to school. We let her sleep in this morning.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

S'd

So, the roofers finished this morning. Tomorrow, the siders show up for two days. Next week, I have surprise dental surgery. And I am told to expect to lose at least one of these implants. The cat ate part of my old headset. Christmas in two weeks, and most of the lights aren't out, most of the house isn't decorated. I broke the pizza cutter, can't find a replacement screw, and a new one costs fifteen bucks.

Stressed? Me?

===========
The beat goes on. At 9:30 tonight, daughter realized that the skirt she wanted to wear to a mock job interview tomorrow....doesn't fit. Fortunately, there is a 24 hour store twenty minutes from here.

Observation

Heavy metal pizza cutters do not have heavy metal screws. They have soft metal screws which will snap if tightened too far.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Eureka

Just saw half of the Eureka Christmas show. You know it's bad when I don't mind getting interrupted in the middle.

Zoom..Wait, What?

I doubt this would work forever, but occasionally? As a -literally-moveable event? Yeah, possibly....

Lingua Franca

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that I want to learn French.

As when the sentence they give me to translate is They are attached to their friends, and I dutifully translate it, only to find that their version translates, essentially, to They hold to their friends. Which I have to admit is a better match than what I wrote, since my version implied more Use of Scotch Tape and Staples than it did Friendship, but still....

Sometimes, I have to work at it.

Gulp!

I tend to leave the materials that I use to study French on the kitchen table. This includes the headset that came with the Rosetta Stone software. It's cheap but functional.

Last night, I was sitting at that table, reading. The cat was reclining on the other side of the table, watching me. I became aware of a crunching sound, much like the sound that the cat makes when she chews on a cat treat. I looked up. She was chewing on the microphone. And the soft foam noise-cancelling cover for the microphone was gone. What? the cat's expression seemed to ask.

I've ordered a new headset. It's expensive. I told my wife consider this one of my Christmas gifts. She said that she was just glad I hadn''t shredded the cat.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Baking

Chocolate Macaroons

Some Pictures






...from various sources.

Santeriffic!

Lundi

Okay, my arm moves (mostly) without pain, and the cold is (mostly) gone. So this is good.

The arm - yesterday, as a result of exercising on some new weights Friday, I couldn't straighten it without pain. I realized this when I noticed that I was tending to keep the arm bent. Over time, it got better, but still, when I went to sleep, it would still hurt if I tried to straighten it completely. This morning, just the vaguest echo of an ache. Still, I think I'll pass on doing any arm exercises at the gym today.

As for the cold, I'm still sniffling, and occasionally sounding like the classic two-pack-a-day smoker, but it's still better than it was. Drink lots of liquid (caramel tea, at the moment; yum); stay warm.

Last night we had two sets of neighbors over for dinner. We've wanted to do it for several months, and this was the day. Broke out the china -- you could just see the mother of the eight year old boy flinch when he'd lift the crystal -- filled it with spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread. And afterwards, chocolate cake. This is good.

Now, if I could just do something about getting those Christmas lights out there.....

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Don't Look!

It's been pretty obvious what I think of WikiLeak and the leakers.

That said, should the government be allowed to strongly, strongly urge that people who work for them not look at the publicly available material? Put another way, if something is public, however it got that way, should people be able to read it without harm to themselves?

I kind of think yes, but I'm not sure. Certainly, proscecute the scum that put it out -- and not all revealed secrets mean the leaker is scum, not even all of these, but some? Yes -- but once they're there?

Should be legal.

Ticket, Please

I so want this to be true.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mapd

I admire and wish that I could emulate people who can create elegantly functional designs -- not simply something that is pleasing to the eye (though that's very good) but something that while pleasing still manages to satisfy a needed functionality.

For that reason, I admire the fellow who developed the KickMap, an improved version of the New York City subway map.

How he did it is described here.

Well worth reading, in my opinion.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Social Faux Pas

Presenting.....

video

I think it's pretty funny. Others may disagree. So long as they're courteous, I'm okay with that.

Siding and Roofing and Such, Oh Boy

Apparently, we're going to get the roof done really soon, and the siding, too.

We conclude this because a) someone left a huge pile of roofing material on our driveway, where I could back right into it last night, and b) someone left a sample of siding leaning against the front door, which we rarely use. The sample, it should be noted, had a crack in it, which did not do wonders for our pleasure.

Memories of aluminum siding salesmen in the fifties....

Thursday, December 02, 2010