Monday, April 30, 2012



I'm still scared for my daughter getting into college.  Her grades have improved slightly, but they're still in the range that could be fairly called a 'notable drop'. I have been putting the fear of god into her.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Who Are You?

My state recently implemented a law that says you need ID before you can vote.  Yesterday was a test run -- you were asked for ID, and if you had it, cool; if not, still cool, but you got a flier advising you that in November, it would be required.  There's some backstop to that; if you don't have ID in November, you can still vote, but the vote is 'provisional', meaning that you fill out a paper rather than voting on the machine. You then have five days to come up with ID, or they pitch your vote.

The liberals say this is an attempt to suppress turnout.  They say that the kind of person most likely not to have ID is also the kind of person most likely to vote for Democrats.

The conservatives say this is needed to combat voter fraud. Last time around, several people said to us that they thought ID should be required, just for that reason.  This time, several said 'good idea'.

Not all of the approval came from Republicans.  Not all of the dismay came from Democrats.


I am hobbling around like an old person -- the aftereffect of working at the polls all day yesterday.  The working part wasn't so bad -- we had a low but continuous stream of people.  But sitting in the car for the drive out to the election offices and back, then sleeping, stiffened me right up.  Movin' slow...

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Apparently, we won't be needing to buy a four wheel drive vehicle with studded snow tires, after all. My daughter just told us of her college selection.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This article from Neoformix on the determination and illustration of patterns in data is an example of the kind of thing that fascinates me.  Its odd, because I'm not a numbers guy, and this is very much a numerically intensive application.  Yet, it appeals to me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


To whomever controls the environment:

There are birds chirping in the distance.  A cool breeze is billowing the curtains.  The temperature is about 65 degrees.

Keep it this way, please.

Yes, Precisel–wait, what?


Found here.

Monday, April 16, 2012


XKCD should have a timer to force me out into the rest of the net after...oh, thirty or so comics. Sinfest, too.


I feel stalled in French.  There's so much that I can't do as well as I should, and I'm making almost no progress.  It's quite frustrating.


I don't tend to be busy, but lately, yes.  So it's particularly nice to be able to just sit.  Granted, I have a list of things that I want to do, from cleanup in the store room to various French study activities - a lot of them; I've been distracted -- but right now I'm just sitting in the kitchen, listening to the birds, and thinking that perhaps making some breakfast would be a good idea.

I'm not good at understanding people's motivations. My impulses are all wrong. I just don't have the empathy to understand them.  That can get me into trouble, as it did when I was briefly friends with the French girl.  That ended badly, as I’ve mentioned. I still occasionally look at her Twitter feed, though, because I wonder how she's doing with her remote - literally - boyfriend. Well,  I looked this morning, and was startled to find that since I looked last, some time ago, she’s gone from pining for him and planning a delightful meeting in Paris to wishing him completely and totally out of her life.   Apparently, he did something seriously wrong. It's her right, of course, but still, I wonder: . How can someone change opinions that drastically, that quickly?  If we were friends, I'd ask - but I guess I know better than that.

We stayed in Dayton so as to watch most of the finals, and I have to say, I was impressed by all, and astounded by one - the Japanese group, which comes to WGI once every two years.  They were incredible.  The video on this page gives a taste of what the competitions can provide. (If you get the 'login' popup, just close that window.  The video doesn't need a login.)

Speaking of lessons...French calls. We are working on my accent -- there are lots of things I say badly, and the killer is that I often don't even know it.  Apparently I'm understandable, but the listener has to think what did he say?  for a moment.  I want to be better than that. And there's a bunch of review to do, too.

But for the moment .... I think that I'll just sit and listen to the birds.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Away Game

I’m in a hotel in Dayton, Ohio.  My daughter’s color guard outfit is here for the WGI finals – or was here, I guess I should say; they failed to make the cut for the finals, so today they’re just spectators.  This is the last competition for her.  I won't really miss most of it. It's a lot of work. For most competitions, which tend to be held at high schools, even just getting there is tedious - the schools are hard to locate on the map; and parking is usually problematic.  When you get there, the bleachers are usually designed for younger butts than mine, and they're frequently steep (I still worry about falling). But the groups themselves are usually good, and occasionally great.  At WGI, though, the groups are usually great -- easily living up to the 'world' in WGI -- but WGI makes you pay for it, charging for everything, and not nominally, either.  Good riddance.  Okay, being surrounded by excited teenage girls who are mostly all in fantastic shape is rather nice, but having to listen to them chatter as they swarm -- well, a little of that goes a long way. I tease my wife that seeing them makes me wish I was a teen again, but, truth to tell, I don't.  These girls would slay me without thinking twice.   I'll stay the age I am, thanks.

But getting into the finals would have been nice....

Dayton is a bit of a strange city.  This is only the second time that I’ve been here, so I really don’t know much about it.  It feels as if the city is struggling, economically, but you see areas where things are stable, and even some where new things are in place.  Yesterday we had breakfast at a restaurant called Mimi’s, which appears to be owned by the Bob Evans company.  You can’t tell from the restaurant itself; it’s decorated in a sort of Cajun French style.  The food is pretty good.  I was pointing out to my wife that one dish wasn’t ‘four cheese quiche’, it was ‘quatre fromage quiche’.  I said it in French just as the waitress arrived.  She looked at me askance and said ‘you aren’t going to order in French, are you?’  So of course I said “je voudrais cafĂ©, et une verre du jus….’

The hotel is on the moderately crummy side.  It appears to have been a Holiday Inn, then taken over by Ramada.  I think they tried to upgrade it, but you can clearly see what it used to be.  The two wings of the original open-to-the-air building were roofed over to make one big building, but the stairs are still the same cheap outdoor carpet that you see in a lot of low-to-middle motels.  The room is okay, though they have a major problem with water pressure (I had to let it run for 10 minutes yesterday before getting hot water that faded to lukewarm ten minutes later).  And the restaurant is - meh.  I guess it’s a good rule of thumb that when a motel has been taken over by a different chain, the odds of it being a decent place go down.

Tomorrow we go home.  I asked why we couldn’t go today, and was told that we had to stay to watch the awards tonight, of course!

Of course.


This is from a post on the Captains Blog.  I really like the lighting.


Thursday, April 12, 2012


Why aren't there objective standards for the quality of a mattress?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Hard to believe, but this isn’t an airplane.

It’s this -

Found here.

Fire - No, Wait....

from XKCD.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


My daughter’s a little upset. As a result of getting a low grade in one class, she’s got two problems. First, she didn’t get on the honor roll for the last marking period. This is the first time that she hasn’t been on the honor roll since she started school. That wouldn’t be so bad, but it also means that during the current marking period – the last one of her high school career – she won’t qualify for ‘senior privileges’. Mostly, she doesn’t care about that, but one of them is the right to skip the first period of school, and she likes that a lot. Now, she has to be there. She’s going to try to make the case that it’s just one class, and that her average is still a high B – but we’re talking about high school administrators here – the sort of people who are comfortable using words like ‘tardy’ and ‘privilege’. (Did you know that having a locker is a ‘privilege’?) They like things cut-and-dried, black-and-white. Well, of course, we're sorry, but those are the rules, there's nothing we can do. Pursed lip smile.  So, I’m not sure. Any reasonable person – but these aren’t reasonable people. 

More importantly, she’s afraid that the drop in her GPA will be seen as the classic ‘senior slump’, and colleges have been known to revoke acceptances for that.  I think it unlikely – again, it’s one grade, and she’s still passing the course; her other grades are fine – but who knows?  The real killer is that she's got the lower grade because she thought it would help her to take the a challenging course on english literature now rather than waiting for college. Colleges like that, seeing you push yourself.  Yeah, they likely do.  Not too thrillled when it means lower grades, though.

So she’s a little glum, this morning.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


We just turned on a data plan for my daughter's phone.  We figure she'll need it when she's on tour with a drill team this summer; not to mention, when she goes off to college.  We contemplated getting her a new phone, too, but it turns out we can't do an upgrade until September unless we're willing to pay full price the phone, which we're not. (Though the clerk did say that we could add a fourth line to our package, use that to get the new phone, then have her phone number ported to it. Interesting..)

Speaking of phones, and in particular iPhones, yet another article about someone finding their stolen iPhone.  Got to wonder why this isn't available on phones from other vendors....

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Friday, April 06, 2012


....and now she's thinking that she does want to go to the first school after all.  Though, hmm, it does get pretty cold up there in the winter......

Trying really hard not to push her in one direction.


Thursday, April 05, 2012


My daughter just went to do the weekly shopping, by herself, for the very first time.

I wonder what conclusions she'll draw from this experience?  Other than when dad asks if you want to collect the trash or do the shopping, pick 'collect the trash' ?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Selecting a College

We just made a college road trip.  It was a decent trip, though, due to some surprises from the Virginia Department of Transportation, which elected to close the highway a mile before our destination, leading us to take a side road, and then spend more than an hour in a traffic jam,   it was more than a little stressful. But I was willing, because I wanted her to see this place.  It's where I'd like her to go.  It's not entirely selfish on my part -- the school is a good one, and it's got the Corps function that she wants - but I like that it's three hours closer to home. Plus, due to the location - Virginia, not Vermont- the likelihold of her getting stuck on Amtrak in a blizzard when coming home during the winter is considerably less. I do want her to go where she wants, but I have a preference, and she knows it.  And to prove it, we just had this dialog:

Daughter: Would you fill a water bottle for me to take to color guard tonight?
Me:  What do I get out of it?
Daughter: The grateful thanks of a daughter who might go to Virginia Tech - I have till the first to decide!

Oh, yeah - she knows. I'm not getting my hopes up - well, not much.  Maybe just a little, though.
Update: Apparently, she's actively considering it.  She liked the campus more than she expected, and she liked the Corps of Cadets more than the one in Vermont.  Still a long way from being a sure thing, but now I'm really glad that I made the trip.


I absolutely love this.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Going to the Flix


What can I say, I like schematics..... and XKCD.


In just over a month, we'll have the Primary election.  This will be the last one for which I'm the judge.  I'm pleased about that.

The very first time I did it, the whole process was new and exciting.  It was the Presidential election, and there were hundreds of people coming to vote.  We had to learn some things on the fly.  I was busy all day, and I was needed.  I liked that.

The other elections were boring. Dozens of people, not hundreds, and frequently ones and twos, not dozens. Occasional small problems; one problem that the trainers had said would be a Big Problem if it happened, but when it did, they said meh, don't worry about it.  And you get to spend the whole damn day there, from about 5:30 in the morning till about 9PM.  Plus another 45 minutes to bring the votes out to the country office and turn them in.

I got to the point where I dreaded the day.  I think it's just the sheer boredom that got to me.

So, no more.