Monday, November 28, 2005

1003.4 Miles Later...

Yes, I'm home from the Big Move South. I'm not weeping too much, too often. Although I have spoken on the phone with my daughter 3 times so far. She's gonna start screening my calls... (Oh, btw, ignore the date on that picture - at some point the batteries died and the camera re-set itself to the factory default date. I've yet to fix that, as you can see.)

It's been a real comedy of errors - Dawno style.

We were supposed to head south on Saturday but it got moved to Sunday due to SailorBeau having a family. I *told* my daughter to consider an orphan boyfriend - fewer of those pesky relatives to get involved with...but no, don't listen to Mom.

It took us from 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to reach the South Bay of Los Angeles from the SF Bay - my Dad just moved down there (my sister is about three blocks away and my brother is down the road a bit - they live pretty close to the airport, so in the future, I may rack up some Southwest Airline miles rather than drive) and I said we'd stop by briefly on the way. That's actually really good time for a 12' rental truck full of furniture. Our visit lasted about an hour. Dad's new digs are lovely. It's weird to see all his and Mom's furniture in a new place, but it looks very homey.

We left Dad's at about 2 - got to San Diego at 4:30 - again, excellent time - no real traffic at all on this trip, and I was so worried about L.A. We hit a slow patch just past Six Flags Magic Mountain (which wasn't open so that's not why it was slow). My daughter had bought walkie talkies so we could stay in touch on the road and there was much chatter about passing trucks and taking pit stops. They were a good purchase. I had trouble with changing channels and at one point I think the batteries died so I put in new ones I had bought at a truck stop for about 5000% above normal retail cost. They really gouge you at those places. Gas was 10 to 20 cents a gallon more than I was paying at home.

So, we've made it to San Diego and we all flop on the couch, exhausted. We decide to have dinner before we try to move all the stuff in - even though it's getting late and it means they'll have to move stuff in the dark. I order a "Giant Pizza" for the kids at their request. Giant is no exaggeration. If it had been two inches wider in diameter it wouldn't have fit through the door while being held parallel with the floor - seriously, there was barely any clearance. For reference, my daughter, holding the box, is 5'4".

After dinner, my daughter's SailorBeau and his friend carried up a ten gazillion ton steel framed queen sized sofa bed up a flight of rickety wooden stairs under my supervision with many helpful suggestions and a bit of lifting support. Fortunately they didn't have a major incident which would have crushed someone - I had visions of Navy Med-evac helicopters. Both my daughter and I also, I'm proud to say, managed not to yell "Pivot! Pivvvv-ot!" even once. (If you didn't watch Friends religiously you might not get that reference - season 5 "The One with A Cop")

Everything made it through the trip safely into the apartment except for my daughter's favorite Cheshire Cat mug from Disneyland that I broke getting it out of my car, where she had put it for 'safekeeping.' That was the beginning of my bad luck streak.

First bad luck: I had asked, when we rented the moving truck, if we returned the truck lafter business hours, would there be a way to park and drop of keys. Gal in NorCal who rented us truck said, yes, just park in the lot and drop keys thru door. Got to drop off place around 8:30 pm Sunday. It was behind 10 foot, barbed wire topped, double chained and padlocked gates. No place to leave the truck or keys. Area is within walking distance of Petco Park (formerly Jack Murphy park, were the Padres play baseball) - Not a great area to just leave the truck on the street, besides which, where would we put the keys? We call Penske - they say to SailorBeau "Your contract says you were going to drop it off on the 26th." I have a copy of my online reservation form - where I said 27th. See:

The gal in NorCal was a stone moron - but I didn't double check that she had the dates right, she was working off of the online reservation, I thought. I was so tired of waiting for the hour it took her to figure out how to rent us a truck that when she finally finished I was giddy with relief. She did an 'inspection' and missed the fact that someone had gouged a hole in the driver's side door in an attempt to break in - and SailorBeau told me about it while we were still up north, so I believe it came to us damaged. Thank goodness I bought the insurance that covered that. The guy at the San Diego store said I would have had to pay quite a bit, otherwise.

Back to the phone call with the SD Penske folk, SailorBeau is a charmer, I bet he's part Irish. He tells the guy he's in the Navy, new in town, the gal in NorCal was mistaken with the days. The guy on the phone says if we turn it in tomorrow before 11 we might get the fee for 1 day waived and for sure not have to pay for 2. We took in the online confirmation printout hoping to get both days fees waived but that's later.

Second Bad luck: Get to my hotel. Pull out hotel confirmation paperwork - apparently I was dazed by over-endulging in turkey and AppleThing on Thanksgiving night, the night in which, at 9 p.m. in NorCal, I went online and reserved my room in San Diego - either without changing the default dates on the online reservation calendar or did change them and there was a system glitch. I'm not betting heavily on the system glitch.

Anyway, because I was a no show on Thanksgiving night - a night I was blissfully playing Clue with my SO, daughter and her SailorBeau, and unaware that I was supposed to be sleeping in a hotel room in San Diego, I get charged for the room. Here's photo evidence of the Clue game. Too bad the date is wrong, huh?

I give the front clerk my sob story, she brings out the night supervisor. The hotel is only 14% booked tonite, no prob getting a room. She'll talk to the main manager and see if she can work anything out about the extra night's charge or reducing my rate for tonite. I will show the manager the print out that says I reserved it at 9 pm Thanksgiving night and maybe they'll add it all up and take pity.

Misc little bad luck-ettes: Broke 4 fingernails and banged up my left hand enough to get out the Band-aids. Later after the check in crisis, I get to my room and there's a guy sitting in there watching tv. He's got several phones with him. Apparently he is going around fixing the programming on the phones and was waiting on a call back on my room phone to see if he got it right. If the phone doesn't work, I'm supposed to call I'll just holler down 11 floors to the lobby. Good thing Embassy Suites is built around an open central atrium - the lobby would actually hear me if I did yell. Anyway, he was nice and left quickly. That wasn't so much bad luck as just weird.

I decide to go online. I try the wireless access portal stuff several times. Finally I call down to the desk - uh, how did you spell my name when I registered? (the portal requires that your name match the hotel system's record) My name has a capital O'B at the start of it...they spelt it with a capital O, no apostrophe and a small b. I try this - I'm in. I post something much like this blog post on AW. (I'm copy/pasting and editing from that post - yeah,I'm lazy, so?) Then I go to bed.

Next morning I get up much earlier than I thought I would, having awakened the previous day at 4 am and not gotten to bed until 11 pm. I take my time, go online for a bit, get dressed and grab some breakfast then go down to the desk and ask about the no show charges - I give the nice fellow the print out and point out the date at the top that shows I made the reservation at 9pm Thanksgiving night. The day guy goes to the back room for a bit. He comes out and hands me a biz card. He says they'll remove the no-show charge, if it shows up on my bill just call the guy on the card and he'll take care of it. Cool. I must have earned some good Karma somehow. Now it's time to see if the Penske thing works out as well.

I had gotten directions on how to get to the hotel from the kid's place although I didn't use them due to the whole truck thing. Instead of dropping the truck and giving the kids a ride home I just drove to the hotel and they drove the truck back to their place. I look at the directions and start following them from the bottom up. It's 9 am on Monday and I'm driving through downtown - where's the traffic jam? I think I love San Diego. I'm out of downtown and figure I'm getting close so I start looking carefully for Fern St. which is supposed to cross the street I'm on. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten that Fern turns into 30th somewhere over there, and I'm driving, driving, driving looking for Fern. I get to 47th street and with a lovely view of everything east of San Diego in front of me, that I can't remember ever seeing before, I figure I've missed my turn - clever, huh? I call SailorBeau (my daughter has serious difficulty with directions so I know not to call her) SailorBeau reminds me that Fern turns into 30th. Oops, gotta go back 17 blocks. No Prob. I find the place, we caravan back to Penske. By the way, it's about 70 degrees and sunny at 9:15 am. Did I mention I love San Diego?

Guy at Penske is wonderful. All extra charges are to be waived - he makes us listen to some stern advice about double-checking, calling the service # etc. but it's worth saving $100 to listen. I'd listen to him evangelize at me about a snake-handling cult for $100. He goes and inspects the truck and tells me about the damage I mentioned above and tells me what a good girl I was to buy the insurance. Yes, I am so glad I did that, can I kiss your ring? I'm near bankruptcy with all the stuff I'm paying for to help the kids, I didn't want to pay for a new door on that truck. When I do go under the kids get to take turns taking care of me. I'll spend the winters in San Diego.

I drive the kids home, hug and kiss and threaten ("You take care of my little girl SailorBeau or you will get no rest before AND after you die hideously...")and I drive back to the hotel to pack up and check out.

The rest of the trip home - fodder for another post!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Time Has Almost Arrived

My daughter leaves tomorrow morning for her new home. I will be following them in moving truck. They bought walkie talkies with a 10-mile range. I get to have one of them tomorrow. Joy. We'll stop in L.A. to visit Dad. If we leave early enough we just might miss the worst of the traffic - but I'm not going to bet on either leaving early enough *or* that leaving early will help that much. It's going to be 8 hrs just to get to L.A and then another 3 or 4 to San Diego. We're gonna be wiped out - and that's before they have to move furniture and boxes up stairs to the apartment. Yes, up stairs. ick.

So, I'll be on the road all day tomorrow and all day Monday. Although my hotel will have internet access chances are I'll be too tired to post. Unless something really noteworthy happens and I just have to get it documented for posterity. I'm hoping it will be a very dull drive.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Roll Me Off the Couch Please

I'm too stuffed and lazy to do a decent post. How about an "open thread" post where you just put whatever's on your mind today in the comments? I don't expect that, like over at Making Light, there will be over 300 comments, but I welcome as many as you'd like to post. To make it easier, I'm turning off comment verification until tomorrow. Maybe the spam will be interesting, too.

You may talk about your dinner, your indigestion, your relatives, how you managed with the shopping craziness of today, news of the world - whatever floats your boat so long as it remains within the bounds of decency, as decided by me.

Oh, only one thing to share otherwise - a troll posting on AW was recently 'translated' into Swedish Chef dialect. I asked for the link to the site that the translator, Richard, used. Feel free to post dialects, too, for giggles.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dinner is Over - The Feast of Leftovers Begins Tomorrow

We're all stuffed to the gills. Turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole with french fried onions baked in and sprinkled on top, seriously candied yams and 'apple thing'. Oh, the rolls. We always forget the rolls until we're seated. This year, at least, they weren't smoking up the kitchen, although they were a bit crispier than I like.

'Apple thing' is a favorite around here. I never would have guessed when I first tried it out last year but it was well received and back by popular demand this year. As to how it got stuck with the name 'apple thing', I made the mistake of writing down 'apple thing' on my list of steps to take (so everything would finish at approximately the same time) and times to take them. I place the list on the counter. Everyone who goes in the kitchen reads the list. Now everyone calls it apple thing. I bet there's a real name for it. Don't tell me. I'm happy with it as is.

As a public service, I give you the Apple thing recipe:

Pour two cans of apple pie filling in a round pyrex lidded bowl and top with crumb cake topping and cook it with the turkey for the last half hour. (you can do it in any pyrex dish so long as there's a lid - I just happen to have a round one I like.)

Topping: pour out a mound of Bisquick into the bottom of a medium sized mixing bowl, don't ask me how many quarts or what, just medium, and the mound - well lets say a couple cups. It doesn't quite fill half the medium bowl.

Add 3/4 of a stick of butter, about a half cup of brown sugar, a generous dash of cinnamon - mush it up 'til it's all clumpy. Pour it over the apple pie filling.

Should I write a cookbook or what? I think it would go well with icecream. Serve warm or cold. We like it warm.

Things I really need to buy at Williams Sonoma:
  • A ricer, I heard a chef on NPR say that was the best way to make mashed potatoes
  • A good oven thermometer, I have NO IDEA when my oven has pre-heated. My old stove had a little light that went out. This one has no such indicator. I just turn on the gas and wait about 20 minutes
  • A gravy boat, I'd like one in my china pattern, but Lenox has discontinued the McKinley pattern from its Dead Presidents line of china so the only way to get a gravy boat is to buy it from a discontinued patterns place which, right now, doesn't have any gravy boats. We used a large melamine bowl and a spoon for the gravy. Classy.
  • A knife block
I read that a nice Zinfendel (the red stuff, not that pink stuff) goes well with turkey. I don't like Zinfendel in any color. With dinner my son and I had Merlot. His girlfriend had some Chenin Blanc. My daughter put Coke in her wine glass, the SO put his Snapple Iced Tea in his. We toasted to a Happy Thanksgiving and everyone dove in.

My son put about 3 cups of dressing on his plate. He ate most of it. He wanted to take the left over stuffing home with him. I like to whip up a plate of hot turkey with gravy and stuffing after Thanksgiving, so I suggested he make his own and gave him a box of Stovetop to go. By the way, did you hear that Ruth Siems, who is credited with inventing Stove Top Stuffing in 1972, passed away the other day? She's one of my culinary heroes.

We had a 12 lb. turkey and there's a nice lunch or two left after the 5 of us finished dinner. My daughter's beau is having dinner with his folks, so he'll be over a bit later for pie and to help the girl finish packing. The drive down got moved to Sunday and I'm completely dreading the traffic. I wish we could have kept with the Saturday plan. We're gonna hit L.A. and it's gonna be gridlock the rest of the way south unless we can get started at 5 am or thereabouts - and I'm not even sure we won't hit bad traffic anyway. I probably won't blog on Sunday.

I hope those of you in the US had a lovely Thanksgiving and for those of you elsewhere, I hope you had a lovely day as well.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Saw HP&GoF, Got Thanksgiving Dinner, In the Morning, I Become a Tornado of Cleaning

I will not be reviewing the Harry Potter movie - not like a real review anyway. I never thought I'd be more into a young person's book series than my children, but I haven't been able to infect them with my voracious appetite for reading. My daughter has one of the books upstairs, so *maybe* she's read or is reading it. I just like the story a lot.

I like the movies a lot, too. Could be that I adore Alan Rickman. At any rate the movie didn't disappoint. Darker, older, more intense, I think, than the previous ones. The audience tonight had very few children in it. I'd hesitate to take kids younger than 9 or 10. Dumbledore shows a much more angry and powerful side of himself in this one, too. I'd give it 3.5 sparkles out of 5 if I was doing that kind of thing...

At the theatre, during the scene where Harry is in the lake, my son calls. Twice. I've got the phone on vibrate but the second time I go out and take a bathroom break then call him back. He needed a ride home from work. Have I mentioned that my 20 year old son doesn't have a drivers license? Not for lack of taking the permit test (I told him I wouldn't let him drive my car until he passed the permit test). He wants to be a policeman. I think he'd better get that driver's license before he applies, don't you? "Well, I could be one of those cops on a bicycle, sir." Bet that would go over well.

After the movie I went to pick him up, and since he lives right behind the shopping center with our neighborhood grocery store, I decided it might be a good idea to just get my Thanksgiving shopping over with. Since most years we have had Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's home I haven't cooked many of my own. Sometimes I do a small one for just the SO and I due to the timing of the family gathering - and I usually order a pre-cooked meal and just add my own touches. The pre-cooked turkey is a life saver. You still have to put it in the oven for a while (3 hrs?) but no defrosting or basting. I'm just not domestic enough to want to go through all that.

I'm almost all set for our traditional feast. I even bought marshmallows for the yams. I really hate marshmallows on the yams but the SO and kids like them. I do need to go back and pick up a few little things I forgot, but at least this year I won't be picking up the pre-ordered meal *and* shopping for side dishes Thanksgiving morning. Yep, that's been done a couple times.

This year the thing we won't be doing on Thanksgiving is taking the traditional drive down to Southern California like we've done for the past 9 years. Up till now we've all packed up and gone down to Bakersfield the night before the family get together. Sometimes due to travel and sibling in-laws we have our meal the day after Thanksgiving. That means we arrive in Bakersfield Thanksgiving night and the town has rolled up the sidewalks.

Dinner is from whatever we can find open. If we're early enough it's MacDonald's. One year we got in pretty late and it was the AM/PM mini mart. We take a couple hotel rooms with an ajoining door and fall exhausted into bed. The next morning it's off to Mom and Dad's. Some years ago Dad used to cook the turkey in a Weber Kettle BBQ. I loved those turkeys. Especially the skin. My sister in law always brought the fixings for this great cranberry/whipped cream thing and everyone had a chore - the food prep was always delegated by my ex-miltary Dad. As the kids got older there were always a lot of busy hands. At least he'd make up a list and let us pick what we wanted to do. And the list had the times we had to do everything, too. The meal always came together precisely. Amazing guy, Dad.

My dad always had the place all decorated for Christmas - tree up, Dickens' Village displayed (that's an entire blog to itself - but 'village' is a misnomer - he had a real metropolis). After the meal we'd play a game or two that my brother would bring - those games that made you think, not board games. I can't remember the names but there was one that you got clues about a crime and had to solve it and other brain teaser type games like that. When it got late we'd head back to Bakersfield, fall exhausted into bed and then get up early for the drive home. The SO knows how to make time on the I-5 so we're typically home by lunch.

Like I said, this year with my son's job and my daughter's move, we're not going south. I will try to make it a nice occasion and hope that we don't miss the family too much. I know none of us will miss the drive or the hotel. I feel a bit sad that the first year without Mom, Dad will also be having Thanksgiving without me and mine, but since neither of my siblings bothered to ask what my plans were and if there was any way to accomodate them, I'm thinking that I won't be much missed.

I took today off so I could do a couple things. One is pick up the moving truck for my daughter. The other is clean. I'm not a great housekeeper so it will be less than Herculean but more than "just a little tiding up will do it"

I hope you all have wonderful Thanksgivings. Blessings on all of you, I'm very thankful we've had a chance to connect.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Aluminium Foil Hats, Chat Rooms and NPR

As often happens in chat conversations*, the topic leapt to 'tinfoil hats' the other night when a group of Absolute Write people, all jonesing because the board was being moved to a new host, had gathered to commiserate in the AWChatRoom. Some of the overseas members were a bit puzzled by the reference and various folks pitched in with explanations. (* I'm not kidding here, I can't tell you the number of times it's happened. Maybe it's because I keep bringing it up...)

I had just heard it said that morning on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me", the NPR news game show that airs on my local public broadcast channel every Saturday at 11 am, that a study on the efficacy of aluminium foil helmets had been conducted-- somewhere, by someone, but I missed the details because I was coming in from the car and it took me awhile to get settled and turn the radio back on.

See, Wait, Wait has this part in the program where the three panelists each share a news story and only one story is real, albiet usually strange and a bit hard to believe, and the other two are completely made up - often sounding more real and reasonable than the real ones. If you are the contestant and you guess the real one, you get Carl Kasell doing the outbound message for your answering machine. It would get me to cancel my current service and buy a machine...anyway, that part is my favorite part of the show. I've "won" it many a time listening to the show in the car on my back from Morgan Hill where I'd dropped off the kids for a weekend with their dad who lives further south - Morgan Hill is the midpoint for us. Reminds me of those spy exchanges at the center of "no mans land" when there was still a Berlin Wall. Oh dear, I'm really wandering around today...back to the tinfoil hats.

So, that morning on Wait, Wait the contest's "real story" was the one about tinfoil (ok, aluminium) hats. Thus, whilst I was in the AWChat room, I was also frantically searching the NPR site for the story. I couldn't find a link to it! Dang. I was at the right place but the details of the show were all wrong, and I realize today (as I go back to grab the link for this blog) it's because they don't post the link to the show I heard on Saturday until Sunday. (by the way, you can listen to the whole show or just a particular segment. I recommend the segment featuring Dan Savage (it's not the one with the aluminum hat story, though).

Tonight, however, I'm surfing around and go to visit Making Light. They have an open thread and I was reading the comments which is what open thread is all about (and which are always wonderful and make me wish I could have stayed in college for the last 27 years so I'd be as smart as they are. I feel quite dumb to be honest, when I read over there).

ANYWAY (sheesh, Dawno, get to the point) 'bout midway thru the comments someone posts a link to a website titled: On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study which I'm pretty sure is the study that was featured on Wait Wait. I am so happy to have found it that I just have to share. I was a bit disappointed that they didn't compare aluminium to tin. Perhaps some other student will take that on. Closure is a fine thing.

A parting note: I invite all of you to check out the other blogs I mention over in the sidebar in my AW blogroll It's a wonderful group of writers putting out these blogs. I'm sure you'll enjoy visiting as much as I do.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Eighteen Years Ago Today

I was asleep when the first contractions started, about 4 am. I dozed for another hour since they were pretty far apart, then woke my husband. The baby was a couple days overdue so he'd made sure that his calendar at work was covered if he had to call in, but I could tell he was wishing the baby had waited just one more day. He called my parents who drove in from their home about 45 miles away to watch my son who was 2 years old at the time.

It was all over by 11:30 and we had a plump and perfect daughter. I blew out the capillaries in my eyes pushing and looked a bit demonic, but otherwise, I was fine and my little girl was too. It was a Friday and normally I would have checked out of the hospital the next day but my husband had a partners meeting at the law firm where he worked so I got to stay an extra day in bed with people fussing around me. I had visitors from the church, my siblings dropped by, later the nurses brought in a very nice meal for my husband and I. My sister came by and she, who wouldn't have her first child for another two years, announced that I had given birth to a Chinese red lizard. Yes, I come from a strange family.

Now, today, that 9lb. 13oz. baby is 18 (and weighs a reasonable amount for her height but don't think I'm gonna tell). She's sharing this milestone occasion with her boyfriend and best friend at the other end of the state. Although I miss getting to throw her a birthday party, I understand why she wants to be there instead of here. I documented one of my favorite parties, her 16th over on my other blog (now pretty much abandoned). Watching how people react to a sizeable group of teenagers all dressed up in formal wear in the middle of the afternoon, having a party at Taco Bell, is an experience to treasure. I'm glad I wrote about it so I can go wallow in nostalgia.

She'll be back for a few days over Thanksgiving and then she's off with boyfriend and her rental truck full of stuff to start her adult life. I am still debating about driving down as well. It's a loooong trip all alone, behind a truck, down the most boring highway in the world. And I know they'd probably rather not have me trailing behind all day. *sigh* If I do go it also means a stop in LA to see my dad and his new home. It will be very odd seeing him in a new place.

I won't see my daughter again until Christmas. I'm trying not to think about it since it's nearly too much to bear. This is the down side of having a nearly perfect relationship with her, if we were fighting all the time I would probably see this as a blessing, a chance for her to mellow out and for me to appreciate the good things about her from a distance, as I imagine my folks had to do (oh my, but I was a handful to raise). But noooooooooooooo (think Steve Martin - SNL in the 70's), she had to be the perfect kid...

I feel very fortunate that I went off to live in the dorms at a college when I was her age. I got to ease into the whole growing-up and being-responsible-thing much more gradually than she will. The college was a safety net of sorts - with its professors and counselors to help guide me, I managed to graduate. I also felt ready to be truly independent. I wasn't, but at least I felt that way.

Well, enough of this. AW is still out of commission and I'm jonesing for my fix. I've had a horrible headache all day (a combo of ibuprofen and Coke has helped) and I've managed to accomplish very little this weekend in the way of new writing or even research on markets. I have, however, done the laundry. I should get a medal. Or at least a sticker of one.

Thank goodness it's a short week next week. Busy on my days off, but that will help keep my mind off my miseries. Thanks for reading this far! I think tomorrow I'll find something interesting to write about that's not about me. Although I find myself fascinating, so who knows!

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Signs of the Holiday Season: A Mailbox Stuffed with Catalogs

'Tis the season to have a mailbox full of catalogs. It seems like every time I order online from anyone other than Amazon, they send me a hard copy catalog. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I ordered it ONLINE the one and only time they ever heard from me. Perhaps that should be a clue that I don't order from paper catalogs? Come on folks, save a few trees!

I only miss one catalog. That's the Sears Wish Book. Every year, when I was growing up, we'd get one. My sister and I would spend hours pouring over each page. We lived out in the middle of a desert on an Air Force Base 30 miles from the nearest town and over 100 miles to the nearest 'big city mall' - when they finally had those.

I ordered stuff last year for my mom from the online store of one of the ten billion paper catalogs piling up at my parents' home. Dad circled something in the catalogs, cut out the pages and stuck them to the side of the fridge. Then, last Thanksgiving, we kids picked off what we were going to get for Mom - it was a clever idea that got her things she wanted and avoided duplicate gifts from her children.

Now I get that catalog and all it's cousins. The target audience for these is about 20 - 30+ years my senior. I don't need orthopedic shoes. I'm not interested in a wide selection of cotton-poly blend snap front printed housecoats with matching slippers and babushkas. Business casual hasn't devolved that far yet where I work. Dilbert teeshirts and jeans are ok if you're a techie. Me, I stick with nice polo shirts, sweaters and dockers most of the time.

The other thing is the knick-knack catalogs. I guess the prevailing mail order wisdom is if you've shopped from The Tog Shop, you like knick-knacks, too. These catalogs, unlike the clothing ones, aren't quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter) they're bi-monthly. Honest - they might come under a couple different names, but I think it's one huge porcelain conglomerate.

If I were into decopage of Hummel figurines I could have covered my entire house by now with the cutouts from the catalogs I get. Or blown glass animals. Or "Precious Moments".

How many baskets of fruit a month is too many? I also get catalogs about cheese, steaks, nuts and chocolate. I suppose if I ordered the "gift a month" from all of these *and* the wine catalog I'd never have to go to the grocery store again. Hmm. Strike that, I don't get a catalog with a 'toilet paper of the month' club.

Finally, let's not talk about that one catalog with the great deals on support hose, trusses, bifocals and other kinds of, um, gear for the seasoned citizen - I'll be needing that stuff all together too soon and I'm in denial.

This Christmas I'm either getting it from Amazon or sending a Visa Debit gift card. I think the nephews will like that they can choose what to buy and where they buy it from. Maybe next year I'll get some extra room in my mailbox and recyling bin.

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Dawno Thinks About a Backup Strategy

I'm happy to report that I'm composing this on my darling little Sony VAIO laptop. The SO replaced the hard drive and re-installed Windows. He's going to work on recovering my data from the corrupted drive tomorrow. He's hopeful he can recover all my docs. Since I had ALL my writing in this machine I am definitely chewing my nails over a successful recovery effort.

So I'm thinking about my backup strategy now. I have a private Live Journal that I started for the express purpose of storing versions of a story I was working on so I could work on it from any computer, anywhere. I think I'm going to use that as one place to save my stuff. I just have to hope that Live Journal stays around. Actually, I need to utilize multiple resources. Burn CDs regularly, etc. I could also send anything I compose to myself at Gmail using one of the accounts I created that I haven't given out as an address yet. With two G's storage for each account, I can save a lot of drafts. This also has the advantage of being accessable from any computer anywhere. (Yes, I created a number of my own Gmail accounts. They keep giving me all these 'invites' so I just keep inviting myself and coming up with new email names. I think I wrote them all down somewhere, too.)

Any other suggestions are very welcome.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Maps! Chairs! Dawno's VAIO Health Report! Comments!

I've added a new link down in Stuff and Such in my sidebar. It's a blog called "Google Maps Mania" I read about it this morning on C|net in an article about "mashups" (defined in the article as ' "mashups"--hybrid software that combines content from more than one source') The article is #5 in a special report series called Taking Back the Web.

So, let's say you want to know the weather and time in LaPaz, Bolivia. There's a mashup Google Map you can check. Are you looking for where to buy beer in Toronto? US cities with weird names? This blog has links to these and many, many more.

This one is one of my top 10. Shoefiti tracks the locations of shoes hanging from powerlines.

This may end up cross posted in the blogging forum on AW - If I can ever get back in, again.

Followups: There is information about the AW board downtime posted at AW. I encourage anyone who hasn't complained to the hosting company to send an email. Also, if you ever are in a position to recommend a hosting company or in need of one, may I suggest you avoid Host Excellence.

The SO is working on the VAIO - I may not have lost my data, but he might not be able to re-install Windows XP - apparently there are issues. Is it time to learn Linux?

I am sitting in MY NEW CHAIR! For the past month and a bit, since my son moved out, I've been using one of the kitchen table chairs at my desk. It's a ladderback chair with a cane seat. Even with a seat pad it was seriously uncomfortable. I now have a new high backed leather executive desk chair. I'm in love. Smells good too.

I got a note from an AW member and new blogging colleague about comments. The note said, "If people don't comment on blogs, do you take it personally, beg, or what?" Me, I don't take it personally.

There are many times when I am just alert enough to read a blog but too tired or brain fuddled to leave a comment so I just imagine there are others like me out there. Sometimes I chalk it up to having said something that really doesn't lend itself to comments other than "yep, I agree" or "nice post" and lots of folks don't comment like that. They want to say something substantial.

Me, I don't care if you just say hi or "dropping in to let you know I'm reading" but that's me. Maybe it's not good 'blogiquette' I'm not sure. (hey, they made up the word nettiquette!)

I would discourage begging :-) Keep blogging, keep commenting on other blogs - people will want to connect and you'll get comments.

Oh, ending with a question that folks could answer may elicit comments, or posting something really contraversial and inviting opposing opinions. Bottom line, people comment when they have something to say about what you've said.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The VAIO is Down

This could be really really tragic. My faithful companion, a smallish Sony VAIO (I got the small one because it was cuter) has been blue screening and today when I got home it was blue screened again. I tried shutting off and re-starting. Got a message that I should pick one of a few options and try to start it. So I tried Windows Normal - nope. Tried Windows Safe Mode - nope.

I sure hope the SO (a sysadmin) can save my data even if the poor laptop is toast. No, I haven't done a back up - was thinking about it. *sigh*

I could use some computer *mojo* right about now. I actually have some work in progress stored in there and if it's gone I'm not sure I can re-write it.

I'm definitely going to do religious back ups from now on if the Computer Gods will have mercy on me.

I Didn't Crash AW Just to Get More Traffic to My Site

Honest. I announce a new forum and that I'm going to moderate it and the board's down. Looks suspicious, huh. Adjust your tinfoil hats please; I don't have that kind of technical expertise.

Oooh - the main website isn't coming up either. I didn't think they shared a server.

Ok, guess this is a sign to do some writing.

News Flash: 6:51 - board is back!

7:00 update: Maybe I spoke too soon - getting lots of "timed out" messages.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

New Blogging Forum at My Fav. Hangout!

There's a bright shiny new forum (well, sub-forum in a bright shiny new forum) at Absolute Write. It's the Blogging forum. And, Dawno Sparkly Ears here is it's moderator.

I invite you to come and talk about blogging. The forum isn't for adverstising or hyping your blog (which I know none of you would do!), rather it's a place where I hope we'll have good conversations about the world of blogs, the tech of blogs and what it's like to be a blogger. I'm completely not the expert on any of this, so I could use your help!

I'm particularly interested in real discussion about things that I've yet to dig deeply into like citizen journalism and Carnival Blogging and social networking. (yeah, subtle hints for you know who you are)

Your support would be greatly appreciated.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Counting Down

In two weeks my daughter will move. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and she is moving to the very bottom of the state. The one way moving truck is reserved. Boxes have been purchased (Home Depot is the place to go - I'm boycotting U-Haul). When she goes it's just me and the SO. I'm going to miss her - we've managed to get through the years that usually are fraught with conflict for mothers and daughters with hardly any and what little there has been was mild and short-lived.

Sometimes, lately, I just sit on the couch, petting a cat, and stare at the assemblage of Prom pictures of my daughter that are framed and sitting in the bookcase across the room. I let myself wallow in good memories for a while.

In the past few years we've assembled Prom outfits - my favorite is the one that I sewed yards of delicate pink tulle into a flowing skirt, others that we shopped for hours to find. She always looked gorgeous and glamorous. I know we're not supposed to live through our children but as someone who only went to her own Senior Prom because a dear friend took pity and drove all the way up from his out of town, post-college job to take me - it's a vicarious joy to see her dressed up and going with a handsome date. For the last two years that handsome date has been the young man she's moving away to be with.

I know that 'allowing' my 18 year old daughter to move many hundreds of miles away to live with her beau is something that some people disapprove of. I would be a terrible hypocrite, however, if I tried to stand in her way. I'm not married to the man who has raised her with me since she was four years old. How can I argue against what she's doing? And frankly, I don't think it's the wrong thing for her. This is the point where I stand up for her to live her own life. If she needs me, I'll be there for her, but I'm confident that she'll be fine. She's strong willed, self-assured, and has a ton of common sense.

Of course, I have made it clear to both of my children that under no circumstances should they ever feel uncomfortable asking me for anything. I make it clear that they have a safety net. I've had to continue educating my son that 'safety net' isn't the same as 'bottomless pocketbook' but he's starting to get the picture. My daughter, on the other hand, really wants to do it all on her own.

It won't be easy for her. Her beau is in the Navy. He could be sent on long deployments and she'll be alone during that time. She's got friends in the area, her best friend is in college near by, but she'll still have to get through those times when her sailor is out to sea. I wish she could have been closer to my mom because that woman knew what it was like to be left home while her husband was on long trips away. My dad was in the Air Force and his job often took him away for three or four months at a time. The upside for my daughter is that she won't be living in the middle of a desert and she won't have 3 kids to take care of.

So now I'm thinking about what it means to be the parent of grown children. I want to be part of their lives, but I don't want to be intrusive. I'm trying to prepare my self for the empty nest and I'm thinking it's going to be harder than anything I've ever been through.

Friday, November 11, 2005

A Different Side to the ID Issue

NPR did a piece on All Things Considered the other night abut ID. I was grateful for the fair and impartial treatment of the subject matter, too. Well done, NPR. (Like they care - but really, they should!)

Barbara Bradley Hagerty started her piece with the story of Richard Sternberg who published a peer-reviewed article by Stephen Meyer, a proponent of intelligent design. On the NPR site is this excerpt:

Richard Sternberg, a staff scientist at the National Institutes of Health, is puzzled to find himself in the middle of a broader clash between religion and science -- in popular culture, academia and politics.

Sternberg was the editor of an obscure scientific journal loosely affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, where he is also a research associate. Last year, he published in the journal a peer-reviewed article by Stephen Meyer, a proponent of intelligent design, an idea which Sternberg himself believes is fatally flawed.

"Why publish it?" Sternberg says. "Because evolutionary biologists are thinking about this. So I thought that by putting this on the table, there could be some reasoned discourse. That's what I thought, and I was dead wrong."

Later in the piece they talk to and about college professors who say they are mute about their belief in ID in their classrooms because of fears they will not get tenure; others who do speak out only do so from the safety of tenured positions.

One who did speak out claims she lost her teaching position because she stated her belief in a cellular biology class she was teaching, saying to her students "it's for you to decide what you believe". Her allegation may or may not be factual - I didn't hear a rebuttal. Many of the other interviewees asked not to be identified for fear of losing their postions as well.

Boy did that piece leave me conflicted. It's one thing to say that ID will not be a formal part of any level science curriculum, but it's another to say that a professor who believes in ID and engages students in a real debate about the idea should be stifled or denied tenure.

My gut reaction is that a college science class isn't a college student's only exposure to the scientific method and basic science education, like it would be in a High School - so how is a professor stating their case for ID, so long as the rest of the coursework is taught appropriately, harmful?

I think the formal teaching of ID chould be relegated to it's own named elective course (under full disclosure, with appropriate disclaimers) at colleges where there is an interest in it. It has not earned it's place as a part of the regular science curriculum. Alternatively, it could be taught as part of a religious studies curriculum.

I remember that having stimulating debates (ok, full fledged shouting matches) in college was all part of the learning experience. I learned from them how to listen and respond to other viewpoints. How to point out logical fallacies - how do you get to do that if opposing thought isn't allowed a voice?

(note: this post is substantially the same as a comment I posted in Mac's blog - just added a bit more content)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Kansas Board of Education Decision

I went over to to see how the California propositions were coming along and I saw that the Kansas Board of Ed approved ID -- again. This was very disappointing news.

(11-08) 19:18 PST Topeka, Kan. (AP) --

Revisiting a topic that exposed Kansas to nationwide ridicule six years ago, the state Board of Education approved science standards for public schools Tuesday that cast doubt on the theory of evolution.

The 6-4 vote was a victory for intelligent design advocates who helped draft the standards. Intelligent design holds that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by a higher power.


But they also declare that the basic Darwinian theory that all life had a common origin and that natural chemical processes created the building blocks of life have been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology.

In addition, the board rewrote the definition of science, so that it is no longer limited to the search for natural explanations of phenomena.

A Board of Education rewrites the definition of science? The. Mind. Boggles.

Please, tell me how to donate to the campaigns of the opponents of the Kansas Board of Education members who voted for this. Can they be recalled? I'll donate to the legal fund that takes this to court.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Women in Tech Leadership

Because my brain cells are not always responsive to my conscious demands upon them to cough up information that I know damn well they’re hiding behind their backs or under the bed or behind the couch, I cannot at this moment recall the exact place I stumbled upon a discussion of women in leadership roles in technology. I think it was in comments to a post on Jill’s blog. I’m pretty sure there were other occasions in other blogs where I read discussion(s) of the lack of women leaders at CXX level. I recall pitching in my 2 cents that there are more younger women in technology roles at the place where I work now than ever before, and a number of women are in executive roles reporting to the CEO.

One can continue to hope that these older women are paving the way for the younger ones to eventually become leaders in more representative numbers. It would be nice if the percentage of males and females in today’s senior leadership mirrored the overall percentage of male and female employees, too. (Yeah, I know, “nice” isn’t a valid determiner of shareholder value and thus, cannot be used as a measuring stick for corporate standards. I say, “fooey on that”). But I wondered why there are so few women CXX’s. So I started doing a bit of Googling.

It appears, (and I grant, from a very small amount of research and some conjecture on my part) that perhaps part of the reason women are currently under-represented is that the current wave of high tech industry leaders were entering college at a time when women were just beginning to seriously (and with the support of the feminist movement – aggressively) break into the most strongly male dominated areas of study and endeavor. I know that there also a number of social/societal aspects to this – but I’m keeping to a narrow focus – this is a blog, for goodness sakes, not my PhD dissertation.

The late 60’s and early 70’s saw a lot of effort to get equal access for women in various strongly male dominated aspects of education, for example Title IX mandating equal funding at schools and universities for female athletic programs, and the acceptance of the first women to enter Military Academies, which happened in 1976 (with the exception of the Coast Guard, which took them in ’75). Because I was entering college at that time I witnessed a lot of it. Thus, women of that era were trailblazers and it takes time to turn a trail into a thoroughfare, which, I believe is one of the reasons why there are a mere handful of women who were part of the birth of the technologies of today and, I believe, why it’s the men who were there that dominate the leadership right now.

For the percentages of females getting degrees in Science and Technology, I found this factoid via a Google searchabout midway down the page:

In a collection of articles from the Commission on Professionals in Science & Technology"Scientists and Engineers for the New Millennium: Renewing the Human Resource; A collection of the Commissionon Professionals in Science and Technology" Babco and Marry Golladay collaborate and state:

"Women have increased their percent of earned degrees in Science and Engineering fields at all levels since 1970, rising from 28% of S&E degrees to over 48% in 1997 at the bachelor's level. Their proportion has increased more dramaticallyat the doctorate level, where the proportion of degrees to women in S&E fieldsrose from 9% in 1970 to nearly 33% in 1997. Increases at the master's level have been intermediate between the bachelor's and doctorate degree levels."

That said, I also read a press release today on Business Wire (I got a free membership there – interesting place) about an initiative to help increase the numbers of women in technology and science fields.

…the National Center for Women; Information Technology (NCWIT) to increase awareness of education and career opportunities for girls and women in science, technology, math and engineering. The initiative introduces a comprehensive digital library designed to give students, parents and educators the tools to learn more about careers in high-tech fields and the importance of girls' participation.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that more than two million professional technology-related jobs will be added to the US workforce by 2012. But according to recent research from the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), an industry trade group, the percentage of women in the American information technology (IT) workforce has declined by 18.5 percent in eight years, with women now representing barely one-quarter of IT workers.

To address this trend, the initiative provides students, parents and educators with a variety of tips for encouraging young women to excel in math, computing and technology, along with sample lesson plans for teaching computing to girls. The program website also houses a wealth of information for students about interesting careers in technology and details about local clubs, programs and summer camps for girls in technology.

I hope this effort helps make a big difference for the future.

Now, for a little fun. I shamelessly steal this from Erudite Redneck’s blog – it’s a “man meme” called “What's in your pockets -- right now?” I tag Ray and Mark and Emeraldcite.

To explain the meme further, Erudite Redneck said on his blog: “I call this a "man meme" because I know few women who carry much in their pockets because they carry purses, and a What's in Your Purse Meme might collapse the whole damn Internet.”My female friends who carry things in their pockets are invited to participate. My female friends with purses may share those contents as well, but if your purse is like mine you probably don’t want to spend the next hour writing about it…

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Dawno Reads about the Dover Panda Trial and Leaps on Her Soapbox

Intelligent Design. Nice name for a place that does interior decorating for computer nerds and various other techie types, doncha think? What it’s not nice for is science curriculums. Jill has written about it and linked to the courtroom blogs, so I won’t duplicate that effort (and I hope you read Jill’s blog, it’s great).

There have been various conversations about this topic all over the place. My SO has a Flying Spaghetti Monster medallion on his car now. WWFSMD is moving up in popularity as well – 30,300 topics returned on a recent Google search and its own Uncyclopedia entry (and Wikipedia, too); I’m impressed. This is a justifiable reaction to the ID concept. If we took it seriously, we’d be saying it was worth taking seriously.

In the interests of providing fair representation to the ID concept I did go to their website. I believe it’s important to know the opposition’s stance, goals and motivations. And to read the press releases to know if they’re going to be setting up shop in your school district. Ohioans, I hope you’re reading carefully.

Unfortunately, there are folks who take ID so seriously that they’ve corrupted their elected position of Board of Education member and turned it into a pulpit for their dogmatic version of Christianity. They are using that position to promote, in public schools, a religious belief. Aren’t these people elected? Please tell me they can be voted off the board next election day. And tell me where I can send campaign contributions to their opponents.

So, what’s this post about? Glad you asked. I’m here to encourage you to read this up close and personal series of posts by Mike Argento from the York Daily Record about the Dover, PA trial, which I found through John Scalzi’s Whatever.

The whole series of posts is a wonderful, humorous, but ultimately, thought provoking read. I could go on and on with excerpts but I’ll spare you that, just please, if you’ve any interest at all in what’s going on – and want to see what could be coming to your town soon, read it from the bottom up and spread the link around.

There’s a post near the top of the blog that refers one over to The York Daily Record site where an Argento article on the trial is published. One paragraph in that article (dated Oct. 25th) in particular caught my eye.

The bottom line of Fuller's testimony is that intelligent design as a science is not accepted because the rest of the scientists won't let it in their little club. It's as if the real scientists are the cool kids, smoking out behind the administration building at recess, and intelligent design is the geeky kid who isn't allowed to join them because he just isn't cool enough.

This reminded me (and sorry for the segue – but not much because by now you should know how my mind wanders around going ‘oooh, shiny’) of the whole Publish America philosophy about commercial publishers. “The elite don’t want you in their circle, they’re a clique you can’t break into, so we’re going to go out and champion the ‘real people’s’ right to be published authors. While we make a fortune off of you.

Yes, yes, PA, you’re David and Random House is Goliath. Sure. It doesn’t matter that what’s been written has fatal flaws (which doesn’t mean it’s not good – just that it’s not commercially marketable and that should be the standard for ‘published author’), that’s not the problem: it’s the clique keeping authors out of the clubhouse. *sigh*

Why is that kind of rhetoric so compelling to so many? Do people really, deep down, believe that stuff – at least for long? Are you really doing yourself any favors by taking a short cut? Standards are applied to promote trust in a product or person. If someone is licensed to be a doctor or a lawyer I’m not jealous of their elite clique. I’m glad that someone has validated that these folks have completed the education and training to provide me with what I need. And, if they mess up, there is a governance board that will take appropriate action. Likewise, when I want to read something, I like it to have been through some kind of editorial process.

Back to the ID discussion…the Dover trial is over as of yesterday and the Judge has the case. I’ve been affirmed in my perception, from reading Argento’s posts, that, bottom line, we’re dealing with a political problem. There are people determining what children learn that are not being held publicly accountable. There are people spending (and possibly earning) tax dollars that couldn't care less about the taxpayers – or their children, they have their personal agendas to promote. What will stop ID? Concerned citizens making sure that their school boards are under the intense, bright light of scrutiny about the textbooks and curricula they approve. I meant what I said above, where do I send my contribution to the campaigns of the opposition candidates??

Next post I’ll go back to being Dawno-lite…thanks for sticking around!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another Nifty Gizmo

I just added the “Blogger for Word” to my site. I was over atRay’s blog and noticed he had ads on his site so I clicked thru on them as a gesture of support. One of them was for this program. Best click-through I’ve done all day!

I find typing in Word a lot easier than in the posting tool on Blogger, so this is a big help. Thanks, Ray!

Beefy Bloomers!!

Ray tagged me over on his blog and my LitMeme for him is in comments there. It's not quite a lit meme because I used the first 5 books on my shelf -- which were books about the craft of writing. Doing the meme made me think of how I've been watching -- from outside with my nose pressed to the window -- all the craziness which is NaNoWriMo. I know in my heart it was the right thing to do, not to sign up this year, but I am wistful that there are so many folks doing it, seemingly having lots of fun and I'm not one of them.

Speaking of fun there is a thread on AW about a Reuters news article: Pennsylvania company recalls 94,400 lbs of beef. In case they've fixed the typo, here's what caught Paprikapink's eye:

"Quaker Maid Meats Inc. on Tuesday said it would voluntarily recall 94,400 pounds of frozen ground beef panties that may be contaminated with E. coli."

I have added my thoughts to the thread. I think meat and poultry product undies could be the next big thing as long as they can keep them germ free, don't you? Deli Dainties has a nice ring to it. Maybe I should register the trademark...

An almost non sequitur segue here (mentioning AW made me think of this - my mind does these contortions all the time). I hope everyone who reads here is aware of Stories of Strength. Since I think that a lot of the kind folks who drop by are actually contributors to the book, it's a sure thing they're aware. But if you happened upon this site randomly or didn't find via AbsoluteWrite then maybe it's a good thing I'm mentioning it! You may skip the next paragraph if you are from AW.

From the blurb:
Born in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this anthology shares stories about what it takes to beat the odds. More than 100 writers contributed these essays, fiction and poetry to raise money for disaster relief charities in the region. Featuring writing from Orson Scott Card, Wil Wheaton, and Robin Lee Hatcher. At times tear-jerking, at times humorous, this book is guaranteed to inspire and remind readers that the human spirit knows no boundaries.
The book is available now on Lulu. Just click the banner (animated by my dear friends Luvie and Alby from LJ) at the top of this blog to go to the official site. Or go directly to Lulu and order your copy. Mine have shipped (got 2). I can't wait to read it.

I went over to and posted the press release in the Books forum. I hope lots of folks from there buy a copy. was created by the admin and mods of the former forum attached to Wil Wheaton's website and many of the members are quite fond of Wil, so I hope his contribution to the book will draw them to at least consider buying it or spreading the word. Wil's Soapbox was my first forum ever and a fun place to learn the ins and outs of proper forum decorum.

Tonight the cursor is keeping up with the typing. I hope there are fewer errors to correct that you would have seen on the Feedblitz email of my last posts but that I went back and corrected in the blog later. My brain however is just about powered down for the night, so I'll stop here.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Today I Became Queen of VLOOKUP

Excel makes me a bit insane. I mentioned somewhere that I do not have a mind for numbers, formulas, etc. I did do rather well in the first half of Geometry where you learn theorems - which consist of words and are almost poetic. And you get to draw angles, triangles and circles and stuff with a protractor and compass- which is almost creative art. But second half was a lot of having me try and figure out what something times X over Y equals and I was doomed.

Do you remember the feminist outrage over that Barbie that said, "Math is Hard"? I understand what they were saying but deep down, I was with Barbie on that one.

I was first introduced to the concept of a spreadsheet in a DOS version of Lotus123. So I was trying to learn computers and math all at the same time, while also trying to keep my job for which I was slightly under-qualified. When we finally went to Windows I was sooooo happy. Much nicer to look at and easier to use. I am also grateful it was before the time of the irritating paperclip "helper". I would have quit rather than put up with that thing.

Anyway, I was ok with the basic stuff - entering and adding up columns, doing some percentages, easy stuff. I eventually figured out simple formulas, commands and shortcuts. I've never had to do much sophisitcated spreadsheet stuff, anyway.

Until lately. Recently, I've had to create a type of chart that compares data along a number of variables - so you use a thing called a pivot table. Fortunately Excel has a wizard that makes it pretty easy. I do well with pivot tables now. However, a while back I needed to get data assembled in a different way and my boss said "use VLOOKUP" and I said "huh?" So he showed me how to do this. I used the table he created and pretty much forgot about how he did it.

Like I said, this was a while back. This week I needed to do the same thing again but with new data. I am proud to say that by the use of clever forensic techniques I learned from watching CSI re-runs, I've uncovered how my boss accomplished the arcane steps to vlooking uping and I created an updated duplicate of my bosses chart with the new data, almost all by myself. There was this one thing I had to get help with, but it was a small thing. And now, I'm the Queen of VLOOKUP. I'm going to try it out on other data tomorrow. Just because I can.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

News that Amused and Other Stuff

Hi again. My life is boring, so let's look at some interesting stuff that's going on!

Slashdot lead me to a piece "Defend yourself against the coming robot rebellion" which contained a great quote:
A tip for telling whether a new acquaintance is a real person or a humanoid robot: 'Does your friend smell like a brand-new soccer ball?'
You'll love the cover art. Now I have another book for the wish list.

In an IM from my SO that bemoaned the slow news day I got a link to: Bush’s pockets
And this one about Superman's package

Saw this in my email (I subscribe to C|NET tech alerts - yes I am a nerd) C|NETtech news.

Telecommuters employed by a company outside their home state may be at risk of having to pay extra taxes unless Congress adopts a bill protecting them, experts said Tuesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear the appeal of a Tennessee computer programmer who claimed that New York was violating his constitutional rights by forcing him to pay taxes on income he earned in his home state while telecommuting.

The New York tax provision, called "Convenience of the Employer," allows the state to tax nonresidents who choose to telecommute for their New York-based employers for their convenience, but not if it is at the convenience of the employer. The Supreme Court let stand the New York appeals court ruling in favor of the state.

So this guy is saving gas, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, and leaving valuable office space available for a New York company, but they're going to make him pay twice the taxes for it. I hope that the Congress passes that exception. Somehow, though, I think it will get ignored in all the other noise out there.

My laptop is giving me a lot of grief. I have to wait quite awhile for the cursor to catch up with what I'm typing. It may be on its last legs. I think I'll give it the night off now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Had you come to my door last night this is what would have greeted you

Scary, huh? My daughter was dressed in a very cute pirate girl (wench?) costume. I tried all night to upload the picture from my cell phone and post but the network was slammed with other folks who had the exact same idea - but probably with pictures of their cute kids instead of theirselves. The SO got a pic of me and my daughter, but I don't have that on my computer to post, sorry.

The trick or treating started pretty early with the littlest ones and ended (for us) around 8 pm when we ran out of candy and I swear we gave away 20 lbs of it. I got sent off to Taco Bell with the makeup and ears, also swung by the drugstore for more candy because our initial batch was running low. When I got back with the food the bowl was down to a handful.

My daughter and I watched Dead and Loving It while we waited for the doorbell to ring. We didn't watch Blackula which came next since we were out of candy and abandoning the living room.

Hope your Halloween was fun. Now, all you NaNo-ers, why are you here reading this when you have goals to meet???