Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pet Peeve #2

I hate it when able-bodied people take the elevator from the first floor to the second.

I see this all the time when I get into work in the mornings. Drives me nuts.

Don't they feel bad at all?


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pet Peeve #13

(As if I'm counting)

It drives me nuts when bag boys at the grocery put gallons of milk in plastic bags, as if it's not easier to carry smooth jug handles than it is to carry thin plastic bags that cut into your fingers. Not to mention, it's a waste of plastic bags.

I hate that.

Picture of the day

"Bleachers" at the Roman amphitheater in Pula, Croatia; no kissing under these.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend RoundUp

For months I'd been looking forward to last night. It didn't go down as I'd pictured but it was still enjoyable, nonetheless. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Thursday night Dan and I went to the Verizon Center to enjoy our Wizards wallop the Cavs by 36 points in game 3 of the play-offs.

Friday we took Kevin to swim team practice and headed out for supper. We ended up at PF Changs at the Mall in Columbia and was told there was a 15-30 minute wait, but before we could even get to another restaurant to check their waiting time, my buzzer went off. Please remind me next time they are slow there if I'm in a hurry, because we almost didn't make it back to the pool to pick up Kevin in time.

Saturday was a qualifying swim meet for Special Olympics. Parents were strongly encouraged to help, so I reported for duty and got assigned the duty of race timer. Having something to do was much better than sitting with a book for six hours waiting for Kevin's events. I was between books anyway, so the job was good. Special Olympics doesn't use touch pads to determine times because some athletes don't do well with them so we used stopwatches, two or three times to a lane. The mean or median time, was used for each swimmer.

It was a long hot day, the temperature on the pool deck must have been close to 90° and I was exhausted by the end of the day from the heat. However, I had a good time cheering on all the athletes and getting to know the other parents. Kevin got assigned "my" lane twice so I got to use my "mom" voice to cheer and encourage him. He got a 5th in 50m Free, 1st in 25m Free, 2nd in 25m Back and his 4x25m relay team got a first, too.

Saturday night Fern and I went to see a local production of The Sound of Music, her friend was in the role of Brigita. Oh, but before that, I phoned in an order to a brand new Asian restaurant for carry-out over an hour before the show was to start. I was told my food would be ready in 35 minutes. I was pulling back into the driveway with food over an hour after I called. The food was good, but I'll wait for a couple weeks to call again so they can get the kinks worked out. I think they should have done a "soft opening" first, it was too much for them to handle like it was.

The play was very good, Fern was a little sad she didn't audition, she said it looked like a lot of fun.

Sunday, Kevin and I went to church and Dan went back downtown for game #4, 'Zards vs. the Cavs. The outcome wasn't as pleasant as it was Thursday, a loss by a three-pointer at the end. While he was gone, I tackled Kevin's room. I expected resistance, but he let me pick up the legos and letters on his floor. He usually would dump out anything I'd pick up but this time he just sat down and started putting the legos together. After a while he disappeared and I found him in my closet where his big supply lives. Come out of the closet, Kevin When I got the room done, he even let me vacuum, but he promptly dumped the bucket of letters out on the guest room floor. Oh well. I'm glad it wasn't my closet floor.

Fern asked if I'd take her to Target, she needed clothes. Sure, I needed light bulbs.

On the way home I reminded her she would be staying with Kevin, Dad and I would be going to a concert.

Who are you seeing?
The Proclaimers.
Really, can I go?

I've been looking forward to this concert for months, they don't come to the US very often. Dan was going as my guest, he's not the invested party. The Wizards just lost to the Cavs and I would bet he's now apathetic about going out. If she behaves, if she really wants to go, then why not?

You really want to go?
OK, if your dad says yes and they let kids in at the club and your homework's done, you can go. Do I need any other escape routes, have I covered all possible outs? She squeals with delight.

When we get home, she asks permission and I tend to six! light bulbs that needed replacing.

The Birchmere in Alexandria is a general admission venue. When the box office opens at 5:00 they hand out line numbers, then at 6:00 they let people in in order to claim their seats. The shows start at 7:30. Dan never liked going early just to get a good seat, then wait for over two hours for the main act to take the stage, and it's about 30-40 minutes away, so we don't go there. Except on the rare occasion when The Proclaimers play there and not at "our" Ramshead Tavern on our side of town. It was my first visit to the Birchmere.

Fern and I left the house at 6:00 and managed to find very good seats, very close to the stage. We ordered supper and finished just in time for the opening act, Jeremy Fisher to start. She loved him, he's now the greatest thing since sliced bread. So, of course, I had to buy her his CD.

The Proclaimers took the stage sometime after 8:30, I forget to note the time or how long they played. They played a lot from their new CD and a lot of my favorites. The crowd whooped when they introduced familiar tunes, I was the only one who whooped when they introduced the title song from the CD. It was a fabulous show.

Fern liked the concert, she said The Proclaimers sounded better in person than on CDs, but she still liked the opening act better.

I inadvertently drove away with Kevin's backpack so he couldn't do his homework until I came home. Then he didn't go to sleep until well after 3:00 this morning. Sheesh.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let there be light

How many 7th graders does it take to put in a light bulb?

Apparently, more than one, the one being my daughter.

Her ceiling fan has two bulbs burnt out. Been burnt out for a while now. It's not a matter of reaching them, there's a step stool in her room she uses to climb into bed. Her bed is higher than a regular bed but lower than a loft. It's about boob-high when I walk up to it. We got the bed at Ikea, you can make bunks with it or put the bed at the top for a loft, in the middle or at the bottom and hang curtains on the top rails for a princess-style look. Ikea doesn't sell it anymore because kids were getting hurt hanging from the top rail. Stoopid kids. Now her bed is in the middle position and I got her a wooden step stool so she could climb into bed. So I know she can use the stool to reach the ceiling fan.

The other day she asked me if I'd change them for her. Huh? OK, maybe I did forget to teach her how to change a light bulb. Still.

A couple years ago I bought a cool ceiling light fixture for my closet. It has three bendable arms so you can point the light anywhere. It's kinda like this one. I thought it'd be good for a closet because I could shine the arms on different racks of clothes. I installed it and it worked out great. That is, until I realized the bulbs burned out quickly. It was a pain because I had to go back to Ikea to get more to change them. But I could, I knew how. I never researched if I could get bulbs from the hardware store. Oh well.

Then, recently I discovered compact fluorescent bulbs with the equivalent lumens as a 100 watt bulb. I like a bright light, but could not use them often because the lamps would often have a safety rating of 75 watts or less. However the wattage used by a 100 watt-equivalent compact fluorescent bulb is about 24 watts. And a light went on over my head, I can use these.

The other day another bulb burned out in my closet light. This event corresponded with cloudy gray weather so it was pretty dark in my closet and I decided I'd switch light fixtures and use a 24 watt CFL. Except it was dark and I couldn't see to do the work. Let me explain about my closet. It's large and strangely shaped, the builder put it in the front of the house under the eaves, it has a window that faces the street, and when it's empty you could put a bed in there, but it's never empty. About fifty-thousand legos call the floor home, along with a tool box and many shoes. Kevin likes to dump the legos on the floor in there, and when I pick them up, well you know what happens. The legos are very happy on my closet floor.

I wait until a sunny day. I live life on the edge, I don't flip the breaker, I just turn off the light at the wall and start taking down the fixture. I drop a bolt and I don't hear it fall. Then, of course, I have to go somewhere and have to leave everything hanging for a day. When I get back to the project I start by looking for the dropped bolt. Since I didn't hear it fall I shake out all the clothes under the light hoping to hear or see it drop. Nothing. The legos aren't talking, they don't reveal the bolt's location no matter how many I move around or how many are crushed by my knees. I give up and see how far I can get without it before I look into getting a new one. I finish disconnecting the old lamp one wire at a time and immediately connecting the correct wire on the new one. Just as I'm reaching for the last wire, lo and behold, the dropped bolt is sitting in the old lamp I'm taking down. The rest of the job went smoothly and I now have 100 watts of light at the price of 24 and can actually see what I'm wearing. And where the legos are on the floor.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Holy Cow! Were the Planets Aligned?

I thought they were this morning but then I was proven wrong.

Before I left the house this morning Little Voice told me to go upstairs, get a pair of socks and check yesterday's pants pockets. You know Little Voice, don't you? That little voice in your head that reminds you of things or tells you which aisle to drive down for the best parking space... Sometimes I listen, sometimes I ignore Little Voice. Little Voice is usually right, too. This morning I go upstairs, get my socks, get in the car and drive to work.

I live a block away from a big intersection and the light is never green for me to go straight through. Never. OK, maybe once in about 50 or 60 days. But that's close to never. To get to the beltway, I can go straight through the intersection and a mile or so later, past several mistimed lights, I get to Rt 50, which can be iffy during the morning commute; or I can turn right, don't have to wait for the green and take Rt 450 to the beltway. The lights are timed pretty well in the mornings so even though it's not highway, it's a consistent route.

I turn out of my neighborhood and the light is green (what?!) so I make the decision to got straight and chance it on Rt. 50. And wow, the lights are shining my way. And 50 is moving. I haven't had to stop once, which means I've had no breaks to put on my socks. The planets are aligned, I'm flying to work. (Except the "hill" on 50 where people collectively cannot maintain speed up a hill. I hate that.) Even the beltway is great as usual.

Great until right after the last bail-out exit on the beltway (the exit I take on the rare occasion there is a back-up), traffic comes to a screeching halt. I reach for my phone to get the traffic map, hmm, can't reach it, must be at the bottom of my bag. My exit is jammed, both ramps. I could take either one, but not today, two right lanes are blocked with folks trying to take the exit ramps. I go on to the next exit to take the back way to the office, but that ramp is full, too. Yikes. I stay there and stick it out and pull on my socks. I have time now to look for my phone and call the traffic line to tell them because this was not announced and I like to share info like that. My phone is not there. Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?

It's in the pocket of yesterday's pants. Sheesh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Day, Another Project

Here's another quilt I'm working on. I lead the mystery quilt at our quilter's retreat in February '07 using the delectable mountains pattern I found on the 'net. I did all the demo blocks ahead of time and started to put it together at the retreat but lost interest in it when some of the seams didn't line up right. Then, a few months ago I read The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini. It's a story about antebellum Pennsylvania, the Underground Railroad and a quilt the protagonist (I could have said main character but wanted the bump in reading level) makes to help runaway slaves. Inside the cover on the endpaper is a drawing of the quilt. (Click here to see a picture of the author's quilt.) It was basically the same block unit I made for the mystery quilt, the story's quilt is just bigger, but I was nonetheless inspired to work on the abandoned quilt again. I took apart the blocks I'd sewn together and reassembled them in this pattern.

This picture was taken before the blocks were all sewn together, but were just laying out on some of the background fabric. The center space is 12" square and I'm not sure what to about it. I think I don't want to leave it empty, but I haven't come across any blocks I want to use there. I want to finish this top soon, but it has stopped talking to me. Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekend Round-up

Thursday night I finished sewing the borders on this storm at sea quilt top. The body is from a John Flynn laser-cut kit I bought last year. I finished it a while back but had put it away to stew. Then I found the border fabric in Intercourse, PA when I went up to the Lancaster show a couple weeks ago. Now, I trying to work out how I'll quilt it.

Friday I was not involved in a car chase, nor did I receive a speeding ticket. It wasn't even close, but I was still watching out for the cops. I did, however, have to look in 12 unlocked lockers at the gym before I found an empty one for my work clothes during yoga class. Yes, I counted them.

Friday night I took Kevin to Special Olympics swim team practice. From what I can gather while watching from afar (I'm not allowed to get closer, that's his thing), he's doing well, he needs more practice at going distances, he tends to stop and watch what's going on around him.

Saturday I took him to swim-n-gym and then came back home to take Fern to her skating practice. The spring show was Sunday and it was the last time she'd be doing this year's production team's show. While she was gone I got in the shower and started to shave my legs. They'd been neglected for a while (like all of winter) but the weather was spectacular and I wanted to wear shorts. Dan comes in to tell me the spring skating show is today, not tomorrow and he was leaving to take her her skating costume and I had to get Kevin. So I ended up pulling on jeans so I wouldn't freeze in the rink. My legs will have to wait to see the sun. At least they are smooth.

The skating show went pretty well. I've seen it so many times now I almost don't pay attention. But this time I did notice the choreography was strong for the first three-quarters but kinda fizzled out at the end. I wonder why I didn't see that before? I wonder if it would have helped the coaches any if I'd passed that on two months ago? Oh well.

Sunday it rained. I went to church, then took Kevin to swim team practice again. While he was there I went to Costco to order new glasses and buy some milk. I usually get three gallons at a time. While I was at the milk cooler I heard another shopper say "only eight?" to his wife when they were loading their cart of milk. Eight? OK. It was very crowded in the Costco, I did a full lap around the parking lot with no luck and was about to drive back to the pool but a space opened up right in front of me so I stayed to shop. I probably should have left because in the end it took a long time to check out and pay and it was raining again when I walked out to the car. Without an umbrella.

I did a little laundry, not enough to count, and a little sewing and not much else.

Sunday night my daughter asked if I was pregnant. I was wearing pajamas. Without the girdle-like protection of my jeans I don't look as skinny as I used to. I guess I gotta lay off the excess snack food, huh?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Fun

I re-ran the readability gadget on my blog and got a high school level. So I stuck that little resulting sign over in the sidebar.

An exit before I was to get off the beltway this morning, a pair of cop cars got on. The traffic slowed from usual cruising speed of 70 or so to 61 or so. I hate that. Then one of the cop cars crossed all four lanes and pulled in behind me and I gracefully moved over to the next slower lane with all appropriate lane change indicators blinking. Since my exit was coming up, I just kept moving over and kept checking my mirrors. Usually the cops around here just speed up to 70+ (on a 55 mph road) and buzz by everyone. These two cars were still hanging back. I was still checking my mirrors. Then the lights came on. Uh-oh.

I got into work and spent one hour and fifty-two minutes on the phone with the help desk. I'm having printing issues. A banner page with our user ID on it is printed out with every document through our network. It wastes paper but it's helpful knowing whose printout belongs to whom. When I print something, one copy of something, everything works fine. When I specify to print out multiple copies of my document, only one copy prints. If I submit the job many times to get many copies, I get many banner pages. I hate that. It started happening when I got the new CPU back in February. When you're on the phone with the help desk, they remote to you so you don't have control of your machine, can't read blogs email while you're waiting for resolution. Nothing, but jump up to check how many copies printed with this setting or that. Not fun at all. I know, who said work was supposed to be fun, right? Nothing was resolved, the help ticket is still open and someone should be calling me. More fun.

And it's not even lunch time yet.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

I found this gadget to determine the readability of your blog and ran my blog through it.

blog readability test

Not the high-brow result I expected or feel I deserve. A friend of mine, an English department chair at a local high school, told me these programs look for "big words" and words not oft-used. So I did an experiment.

I gave it the URL for yesterday's post as well as a post from a couple weeks ago, both having "big words" and got this [better] result:

blog readability test

OK, so what's your blog's reading level? Are you surprised? Did you think you were smarter? Or dumber?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Misplaced Round-up

The lovely large white envelope addressed to some office in Andover, MA was placed in the mail box in front of my office building before the 12:00 pick-up yesterday, along with a lovely large check, a full 12 hours and twenty minutes before the deadline. Moments later the state taxes were filed on-line. I should be getting that refund in a few days. Yippee.

Fern skated well at the ISI District 4 championships over the weekend, unfortunately there were others who skated better. She took home ribbons for two second places and two fourth places. She wants to do more competitions, so I can only surmise she had a good time and isn't detrimentally brokenhearted about not getting a first place. We bought the DVDs for her events, but I have no idea about how to upload the video so you all can see, too.

One of the local Brownie Girl Scout leaders asked me to come and sew badges on vests for girls during their weekly meeting last night. She gets quite aggravated when the girls don't have the insignia in the correct locations and wants to make it very easy for the parents to get it "right." There are four troops meeting at the same time in one of the churches so she was hoping for my sake I'd get a lot of business. As it turns out, I got four new clients and was able to finish vests for three of them. Then my machine jammed, the one I just picked up from the shop for its 7500 mile checkup. Time was up anyway so I brought home the fourth one. I charge $25 per year of service or $1 per badge. If a year is purchased, I feel it good service to fix anything on the vest that's loose or out of place. The last parent wanted to only pay for the six badges to be sewn on. However several more should be adjusted and I'm in a quandary as to how much work to do and how much to charge for it. I'm leaning towards thinking if she can't afford the $25 and only wanted to pay $6, then I should fix everything and sew on the new things for $7 or $8 total, and not any more. This is a pocket-change job anyway, not a mortgage payment.

I'm very glad Jason got the boot on last night's Hell's Kitchen, I didn't like him.

Photo of the Day

A Window in Pula, Croatia

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Work-Week Round-up

I can't round up the weekend yet, it's barely gotten underway. Dan and Fern left at 4:30 this morning for Richmond, she had ice time for compulsories at 8:15. Kevin is at swim-n-gym and I'm supposed to be packing to go down as soon as he's done. She's got a program competition at 4:20 this afternoon, then two more things tomorrow.

I got back from San Francisco around midnight Thursday and went into work on Friday. I was so tired. I would have skipped work altogether, but my boss didn't want me gone all week on travel in the first place, so I dragged my butt in. Man, there was a lot of work to do, (real work got in the way of blogging—I hate that) but I did cut out two hours early anyway to try to catch some time with Dan since it was his birthday. I remembered to buy the gift before I left town, but didn't remember to get a card. I got him a bluetooth gizzy for his phone so he can shift gears and drive and talk at the same time. Next year is his milestone birthday so I need to start concocting a cool present plan now, he's used up all the good ideas on me, so it'll take me a while to work it all out for next year. Maybe with the new administration next year, the dollar will be stronger and a European cruise will work out. That, or a new lawn mower.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm not normally like this

Today I passed rows and rows of lush green trees, bows heavy laden with fruit, fruit I hadn't seen before, black, and thin, very thin. I was told later they were silicos trees, the fruits are harvested when they turn a silvery-gray and are processed. The end result: microprocessors. I'm in Silicon Valley.

None of you guessed why a drive around Infinite Loop was so absolutely thrilling to me. (Ab-so-lute-ly thrilling, I tell you, thrilling.) I'm so disappointed in you. All of you. I'll give you a clue: my phone was excited to be home.

OK, maybe I went too far with the absolutely part.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


My meetings today took me south of San Francisco to San Jose and Cupertino. The highlight of the day was a drive around Infinite Loop. Any guesses why?

Click here for a Google map of the area, click on the little yellow guy for a walking tour of the neighborhood.

The weather was chilly and windy today and I packed completely wrong; I wish I had my winter coat or a warm sweater.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weekend Roundup

I'm sitting in room #21 in an inn in the Mission District of San Francisco. I'm tired, it's been a long day, my initial flight was canceled so I had to find another one. And I did. So here I am.

Remember when I wrote about doing laundry before vacation? Yeah, well, that's basically the last time it was done so the pile in the laundry room was higher than the dryer door. Made loading and unloading a bit interesting. I wonder if anything got washed more than once because of it. I got a lot done but left a load of whites/hots in the dryer. I hope Dan finds them so The Boy has socks to wear this week. Do you have this problem: your washer washes clothes faster than the dryer dries them? I hate that.

Went to BJ's with Kevin and bought some stuff, bacon, milk and chocolate milk mix on Saturday. Kevin helped put the wares away:

Kansas just won, so I guess it's time to sign off and go to bed.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


The files I blanked out on Tuesday were restored.

I wrote the program to compare them, the secret passwords contained within. This proved that while I was on vacation, the passwords for 7000 users got corrupted and no one could log in. I had a cubicle full of guys in here yesterday panicking (kinda) about it but, after a couple stressful days of tracking down the cause and possible [safe] solutions, the passwords have been restored, without any loss of users' data, and the site was opened at 10:00 EDT this morning.

I know you all were very concerned about this and I wanted to let you to know you could breathe now, everything's gonna be alright.

I hope my son will be alright, too.

Yesterday we got him a new puzzle from the dollar section at Target. Last night he found the puzzle and helped himself. He knows he has to run a knife between the box and lid to cut the paper label to release the pieces. He also knows bandaids are for bleeding fingers.

I follow the trail of clues: puzzle box on the kitchen counter, mostly opened, full of pieces. Why did he go to the trouble to open the puzzle and not take it with him? Then I notice a smear of blood on the lid. At first I'm calm, then I start to panic and run upstairs to find him. He's sitting at the computer, happy as a clam, playing his computer games with his right hand, clamping his left fingers around his thumb. I insist on inspecting. When I get close enough to look I see a sloppily placed bandaid covering a small, still bleeding gash across the tip of his thumb.

I could have left him alone at that point. He was alive, after all, and most of the blood had been contained in the bandage. But I pulled it off and washed his thumb in soap and water and redressed the wound, one bandaid across the top to hold the cut together and then one around to keep the first one in place. That's when I notice another clue, the litter on the bathroom counter: a blood-stained paper towel from the kitchen and lots of backing strips. He must have tried several bandaids on his own but the blood inhibited stickage.

I asked him if he hurt. I'm not sure he gets "hurt," he always answers "no," but he did clutch this thumb for a long time after that even though his mood was fine. Autism is a funny thing. He's smart enough to know how to fix his problem, but he can't communicate what happened or how he feels. I'm just thankful he's as high functioning as he is, but sometimes I wish he could express more. It is Autism Awareness Month, if you didn't know.

And just for effect, I call my mom later, and say as soon as she answers, "How long is it supposed to bleed before I go to the hospital?"

Panic, it's fun to share.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Not Fixed Yet

I got an email this morning saying the two files I blanked yesterday (see yesterday's post) were restored, but they are still empty. So I'm back to being stranded on that project waiting for restoration.

No, that wasn't an April Fool's joke, except on myself.

Her Royal Knightress AM Kingsfield wanted me to post about a quilt I saw at the quilt show in Lancaster on Friday. It's a yo-yo quilt.

If you don't know what a yo-yo is in the quilting world, you take a circle of fabric about 2-5" in diameter and sew a running stitch close to the edge of the fabric. Then you draw up the threads so it makes a little pouch and push it flat so you have your gathers in the center of the circle and tie off the threads. After you've made millions of these you sew them together one to each "side" so it forms a grid, and keep going until it's quilt sized. They are usually made of scraps. They don't do anything for me, too much labor.

In the art quilt section of the show, where you're not allowed to take photographs, there were a large number of very edgy and artful quilts, some were stunning and exquisite, some were weird, some were thought provoking. Some you would like to have on your walls and then, well, then there was this one:

The Yo Yo Quilt by Martha Bruin Degen from the Social Questions Series

Photo stolen borrowed from the artist's site.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Expletive Deleted


I'm taking a work break to blog. I just wiped out two files. Zero bytes of data left. Empty. I need those files. I was in the midst of writing a program to compare them and write out the different passwords contained in them. Now I can't write because, there's nothing there to check. Sheesh. Dernit.

It's official, I'm moving to the next cubicle over, the one with a window. I've made about thirty trips so far between my new home and my old one carrying stuff. I actually took out the top desk drawer and swapped it out so I didn't have to move pen by pen. The bookshelves were easy, as was the file drawer. The remaining debris and detritus. Another story completely. It's the little stuff that accumulates that totally bogs me down, I get so incapacitated by having to deal with it all. Oh, that's where that is! Do I need this anymore? recycle. recycle. I'm gonna need this. And this too. And that.

I've written to the disability office to get the lights fixed over the new desk. (For the whole story, click here and here and here.) I have no idea how long it'll take to have the work done, so I'm not in a real hurry to get everything moved. The next call will be to the help desk to get the computer and phone moved. But not until the lights are gone.

Being a programmer, I don't get to travel much for my job, but I won the business trip "lottery" and am going to San Francisco next week. (I could have been assigned to Albany....) That is, if all the travel orders get approved ASAP. I'm excited about it to some degree. It's hard not to, trips for me are so few and far between. I'm sure if I had to travel a lot I'd hate it. Does anyone know anything about the Alcatraz Inn? My secretary booked me a room with a bay view, should be lovely!