Author Archive

Where Were You?

Monday, September 11th, 2006

When John F. Kennedy was shot?

I was in 4th grade at Lincoln School in Sault Ste. Siberia. Mrs. Scott had left the room. I can’t believe that teachers used to leave classrooms full of grade school kids alone even for a minute. Can they do that now? Anyway, when she came back in, she was staggering a bit and her voice broke as she said, “the president has been shot!” CRASH!!! Patty McKerchie tipped her chair over backwards and landed on the floor. That wasn’t an unusual event but this provided a better excuse than usual.

I was sick! I don’t mean that the president’s assassination made me sick. I mean that I had been sitting there all day quietly incubating a loverly little bacterial infection in my throat. I think we were sent home early and I had plans to play at a friend’s house after school that day. I can’t remember her name but I wasn’t really all that excited about it. She wasn’t Laurie Pingatore, my main partner in hooliganism, just some other kid that wanted to play with me for god knows what reason. Why I didn’t say I was sick and just go home, I do not know.

*Finally*, that long afternoon ended. I dragged myself home and admitted to The Commander that I didn’t feel well. I spent the next few days in and around bed, becoming highly irritated as I recovered because we got a couple of days off school and there was a wonderful “early” snowstorm and everybody else was out sledding and I was stuck inside. Sick. And there was nothing on TV except JFK’s funeral. Come to think of it, there was never anything much on TV anyway, with the two channels we had up in the yoop back in those days.

Yes, I do know what today is. I just don’t have much to say about it. It isn’t that I don’t care or that I’m disrespectful, just that there are plenty of others to do the talking. What could I possibly add? I do remember where I was five years ago and it was even mildly interesting, given that I was oblivious to the events of the day until hours after they happened. But my brain ricocheted back to an earlier memory of another unforgettable day.

Where were you? What do you remember? About either of those days.

The Eagle Has Landed

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

And it took off with a brown mammal of some sort with a long thin tail. Larger than a mouse. This occurred right smack in front of my vee-hickle on the southbound I75 SUV Speedway somewhere near Houghton Lake. I felt rather lucky that I didn’t collide with it.

Ghost Ship

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

When I got up this morning, it seemed pretty cold so I looked at the thermometer. 48 degrees. Okay. I sashayed down to the beach in my bare feet like I always do. The air was colder than the water so there was mist above the water all over the bay, partially obscuring my view of the shipping channel. I was walking along thinking “my feet are FREEZING” and trying to figure out if I could get frostbite at 48 degrees and experimenting to see if walking in the water would actually be warmer than walking on the sand.

I looked up and out toward the shipping channel and spied a ghost ship gliding out of the mists in the unmistakable shape of The Edward L. Ryerson, I didn’t even need binoculars to recognize it:

An all time favorite boat of many people, including my brother and Grandroobly, and for a moment, I almost wondered who was in the pilot house. 😉 The Ryerson has been out of service for a few years but, at the beginning of the summer, Pete told me that they were going to run it again this year. This was my first sighting. And for me, it’s the last boat of the season. Goodbye until next summer.

Now, excuse me while I go thaw out my feet. Turns out, I had looked at the *indoor* thermometer this morning. The *outdoor* thermometer read 36! Bare feet? Yeah!

The Last Hurrah

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

Brrrrrring. Brrrrrinng. “Hello.” “Hey Radical Betty, it’s the last beach day. Come on down to the beach. Pete left some beer and we need to get rid of it!”

And so it goes. It’s the end of another summer here on the shores of Gitchee Gumee. It is a beautiful, clear, sparkling sunny day and the wind is out of the northwest. The Commander and Radical Betty and I sat down there and drank the last beer of the summer. Grok grok. Froggy too! Grok grok. We tried to conjure some boats but none appeared. A woman came out of the woods down at the end of the beach and we couldn’t figure out who she was so we discussed that subject absolutely to death. Until we finally figured out it was our friend Kay, minus her kayak. Too cold. We schlepped all of the boats up except for one kayak and if it is anywhere near kayakable tomorrow morning, I’ll be out there for one last hurrah. Oh, and, uh, I might be cute? Hmmm.


Friday, September 8th, 2006

What the heck are those blinkin’ red lights out on the horizon there?

Got off the I75 SUV speedway at exit 386 last night. Heading down M28 to the Piche Side Road I saw a long line of blinking red lights on the northern horizon. I knew what they were but it took me a minute.

I’ve been up here on this blasted beach a lot of times this summer. When I first came up here on June 12th with Aimee, we walked down on the beach and I looked over at the Canadian hills like I always do and there were there things sticking up above them. What the heck were those?

Well, folks, the Canadians are building a HUGE wind farm. I can’t even count how many windmills are over there on the Canadian hills. When Mouse and I were up here last, there were, I dunno, 6-9 flashing red lights at night. They turn the lights on as they turn on the windmills. Now the number of flashing lights is uncountable but it stretches along the entire Canadian hill horizon.

I’m not sure what I think about these things. I do not feel totally hostile though…. Stay tuned. Or not.

Some things never change: PETE AND ESTHER were here when we got here. They are almost like second parents to me but I haven’t seen them in YEARS. They have not changed in years, except in the way we all change. I LOVE THEM!!! Danny (or Richard or Horace), please google me!! 🙂

School Crank

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

“I know I should just sit on my hands here but it’s been a slow day. Both of my kids graduated from Community and are (or was, in the case of the recent graduate) very successful paper-writers at what I am told is a competitive college.”

I wrote that and posted it to the Ann Arbor school cranks email listserve. I’ve been on that list since it began eight years ago but I hardly every post anything because it’s just about the most contentious listserve on earth. One time people spent about a week bashing Slobodan Milosevic. Yes, that *is* off topic but this listserve was deliberately set up to be a free-for-all and this *is* Ann Arbor. (Y’all can do whatever you want with that. ;-)) The school cranks list is lots of fun but you have to be wearing some pretty heavy duty flame-proof clothing if you decide you want to play. I usually don’t.

Although the list has gone rather dormant in recent years, yesterday it sprang to life when one of the more abrasive participants tried to engage in a little Commie bashing. That’s Community High, not the Communist Party. The claim was that kids who graduate from Commie are not prepared to write acceptable college-level papers. This was misinterpreted from something that happened on the Diane Rehm Show that I can’t even begin to describe.

Say what? Elizabeth: “Moom, I gotta go. I have three 10-page papers to write tonight.” “Moom, I got honors on my SIP.” (huge thesis-like beast) Hmmm. This is a Commie High graduate. Not prepared to write papers? My kids may not be Rhodes Scholars but they are hard-working, conscientious students who get good grades. And despite graduating from Community, they can write papers, fer chrissake. Good ones. Come to think of it, when I got to college so could I, and I graduated from some stoopid ol’ yooper high school. grok GROK!

So I unglued my hands, put on my flameproof suit, and wrote that little reality check, injecting a bit of what I hoped would be interpreted as humour. Held my breath and hit the send button. None of our schools are perfect. They all have the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think there are probably kids in even the “best” high schools who emerge after four years minus the skills to write college-level papers. I don’t know where that woman was coming from. Well actually I think I do but we won’t go there. But she is not gonna let something that ridiculous get by me!

Thor, God of Thunder!

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Kee-reist! What the heck did I do to deserve that? I knew that the potential for pop-up thunderstorms existed this afternoon. Thunderstorms are one of the four weather conditions I don’t [power]walk in but, when it was time for my afternoon [power]walk: 1) it was sunny, 2) I took a [broken] umbrella, and 3) my afternoon walking route snakes throughout the neighborhood in such a way that I can get back home fairly quickly from most points. So, off I went. And then it started to rain. And then it started to rain great big drops. So I opened my [broken] umbrella. And then it started to thunder. And lightning. And big gusts of wind. And, uh, HAIL!?! My [broken] umbrella was really no match. I made it home safely and Mouse did too, reporting huge vee-hickle-drowning puddles in the streets. Now there are sirens everywhere. Accidents? Lightning fires? I dunno. Hey Thor, what did I do to deserve this? Was it that I was handling [human] ashes today? Or was it that I posted to the A2 School Cranks’ listserve today? Heck, I was just trying to shut down a Commie High basher!

And the (Crackerjack Box) Prize Goes To…

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

I had made it out of the WCC parking lot and down the road and was waiting in line to make the right turn onto Washtenaw, when I heard a huge engine-revving/tire-screeching noise behind me somewhere. I looked in the rear-view mirror and, to my horror, I saw all kinds of white smoke coming out of the car directly behind me. It was an old beat-up white Camaro. Remember those? Do they still make ’em? My brother would know and he’d be the first to leave a comment. Vee-hickle blahg? Vee-hickle blahg? Yeah! I once knew a guy who had a Camaro. No, he wasn’t my boyfriend. That made it easy to refuse to ride with him.

If the smoke hadn’t been accompanied by all that noise, I’d have probably just thought, “call the EPA!” or maybe, “get the fire extinguisher!” Instead, I was a bit concerned that my trip home from school might be a little more exciting than I wanted it to be.

As I turned onto Washtenaw, the Camaro kept his distance behind me. Okay, so he’s just into noise and being macho or whatever it is. That’s fine, he’s just a kid. And then. SCREEEEEEEECH! VROOOOOOM! He peeled out from behind me into the next lane and passed me, accelerating like a bat outta hell. Now, that would have been pretty much okay with me had we been out on I80 in Nebraska or someplace. But we weren’t. We were in the middle of Megalopolis negotiating the area surrounding the Washtenaw/US23 freeway interchange. A traffic flow nightmare featuring traffic lights about every ten feet and the worst cloverleaf in the universe. You know, the kind where the people merging onto the freeway have to *cross paths* with those exiting. And vice versa. Huge semis everywhere, people accelerating onto the freeway ramps, people decelerating at traffic lights. Criss-cross, criss-cross. *Why* do they design those that way?

I dunno what he was thinking. Did he not *notice* the chaos or the traffic lights or the umpteen gazillion vee-hickles that were everywhere going every which way? Or was his vee-hickle outfitted to lift off and fly over it all? I don’t know, but — to my total horror — at the moment he made his escape from behind me and my dirty old Honda, some poor little econo-car a couple of vee-hickles *ahead* of me made the hapless decision to change lanes too. Y-iii-yyy! They’re gonna crash! To my great relief, the Camaro managed to screech to a stop inches away from impact.

I didn’t have time to watch anything else because my next task was to get onto the tight little circle that passes for an entrance ramp to US23 and then accelerate just precisely enough to merge into a tiny little spot in the middle of all the big semis that were screaming along in the right lane. I stopped shaking at about the State St./I94 interchange. I hope the little econo-car got home okay. Grok grok. Was it my cute l’il ol’ car? grok grok. Th’ orange ‘n’ yellow Li’l Tykes car? Grok grok. Y’all know where I think the driver of the Camaro got his driver’s license, roight? grok GROK!

Grok Help!

Monday, September 4th, 2006


Mumbo Jumbo

Sunday, September 3rd, 2006

There is no way I can even begin to write a coherent post today. Sam had a nice post about the state of education in the USA that made me want to do a little ranting but I’ll save that for a rainy, ranty kind of day. So, here’s a blow-by-blow, more or less, of another day during another holiday weekend at the Houghton Lake Group Home:

  • Got up and walked “around” the point.
  • Scrounged the refrigimatator for breakfast materials and put a breakfast together for six, more or less.
  • Checked email and read my regular blahgs.
  • Kayaked around the point and into the canals, one of my favorite places in the Houghton Lake area.
  • fiftyfeetofboat.jpgWas forced at gunpoint to take a powerboat ride. 😉
  • Went to The Limberlost to get a drink (this was during the powerboat ride) and sat around for something like 15 minutes without attracting the attention of a server.
  • Left The Limberlost without being served anything. Note: I do not recommend The Limberlost and refuse to ever go there again, thankye veddy much. 🙂 Amazing how many Houghton Lake area bars/restaurants are getting to be on that list… Either that or they have suddenly closed! 😯
  • A lot of light reading. You know, MySQL and stuff like that.
  • Figured out what to eat (me, Gay, and Kathy). And we’re scrounging leftovers and stuff from the rather random contents of the refrigimatator.
  • Walked again.
  • Blahggin’.

Ding ding ding! You won! If you’ve read this far, you get the prize! And the prize is, 20 Questions online! I tried “flute” and 20Q guessed it after 19 questions. I beat the game with “kayak.” 🙂

Lola. Lo-lo-lo-lo Lola. Lo-lo-lo-lo Lola-a-a.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2006

It was about 10:45 AM when we parked The Indefatigable at the Chase Bridge canoe put-in on the South Branch of the Au Sable River after a morning *on* the river when… PHWOMPH! Civilization arrived. A convoy of about ten pickup trucks came over the hill, pulled to the side of the road, and parked. I don’t know why I felt this way but it seemed like a guy trip. A little male bonding maybe? Hey guys, let’s go up north and rent canoes. We can drink beer and shoot guns and crash into fallen trees and capsize each other’s canoes. Lola was blasting from the first truck.

We had already been out on the river. Bob and I put in at Chase Bridge at 8 AM. The GG drove The Indefatigable up to the Smith Bridge, parked it, and began the eleven mile hike back down to Chase Bridge. Bob and I kayaked to Smith Bridge, loaded the boats up onto The Indefatigable, and drove back down to the Chase Bridge, then started up the hiking trail (on foot, of course) to meet up with the GG.

It was a beautiful morning, cool, a little foggy in places. Our only company was Great Blue Herons, ducks, kingfishers, and all kinds of other birds that I couldn’t even begin to identify. A few fly fishermen. No boats anywhere. It was too early for the majority of the weekend warriors, which is why we were out there early. It is a holiday weekend though, and I bet that convoy had a great time out there this afternoon. Drinking beer and shooting guns and crashing into fallen trees and capsizing each other’s canoes.

An Old Crow Lives Here

Friday, September 1st, 2006

No! You canNOT change the words on that “Old Crow” sign!!!oldcrow.jpg

Once upon the Jurassic Age, when I was 21 and looked about 15, The Commander sent me out to buy liq-wire. Radical Betty and Duke were coming for dinner and we were out of bourbon. A tragedy! As I now know, it can be handy to have a kid who’s legal so you can send them out on a booze run. She gave me some money and said, “Go buy a fifth of Jim Crow.” In those days, I had no idea what brands of bourbon existed. My repertoire was pretty much limited to beer, maybe gin and tonic, and some of the other oddball things that college kids experiment with — you know, drinks with things like blue curacao in them, etc. So, I said, “okay, Mom,” and off I went.

I got to Neville’s and there were a whole bunch of other people buying liq-wire too. When it got to be my turn, I piped up with, “I’d like a fifth of Jim Crow.” I knew who the woman behind the counter was. She had been only a few years ahead of me in school but she looked like she was about 40 — one of those rather large, no-nonsense women that you wouldn’t want to mess with. A perfect person to work in a liq-wire store. She looked at me incredulously and thundered, “We don’t have any Jim Crow. We have Jim Beam and we have Old Crow!” Ouch! Um, you didn’t have to say that so loudly, did you? And by the way, where is the nearest trap door? So I can make a quick exit.

I don’t remember whether I picked Jim Beam or Old Crow. I’m sure it didn’t matter to the cocktail folks eagerly awaiting my return. But boy, was I glad to get outta there! Eventually Grandroobly discovered Ten High, a less ambiguously named brand of bourbon. But please do not change the words on that sign because every time I see it, I think about trying to buy Jim Crow at the liq-wire store when I was just a kid!

(Uh, Froog, didja realize that your nostrils are inside-out? [scramble scramble] eek-grok grok! What?!?? Whadabout my nostrils?? Grok eeek grok help grok [scramble] Uncle Bob did that! grokhelp grok eekgrok [scramble scramble])

“C’mon Soo! Buckle Down!”

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

I was in 6th grade and it was my first football game ever. The Sault High Blue Devils were on the field, and I was totally amazed to hear Grandroobly yelling something like that, at the top of his lungs, no less. My grandfather (Grandroobly’s dad) was also with us. My cousin Mac was on the team, which was probably why we were there. I don’t remember Grandroobly going to many football games. The bank was open on Friday nights and that meant he had to work.

It was all very exciting. I mean, I don’t remember doodly-squat about who the other team was or who won and I sure didn’t understand the game. But it was a night game under those big lights and everybody was yelling and screaming and jumping up and down, all of which I *loved* to do, and they probably bought me popcorn or whatever and maybe even root beer at the A & W afterward.

I have occasionally disparaged football players here on this blahg, calling them neanderthals and whatnot. But my feelings are really a bit more complicated than that. I do think that young athletes, particularly in popular spectator sports like football, are often made into heroes before they have the maturity to handle the responsibilities that go along with stardom. In the worst cases, some of these kids get to thinking they are above the law, sometimes encouraged by coaches who have lost sight of the ball, so to speak. Too often the local newspaper headlines read “Football Players Caught Stealing Beer from 7-11” or “Star Quarterback Crashes Brand New Cadillac Escalade: Driving on Suspended License” or “Coach Hosts Party for Team, Alcohol Served” or (ugh) “Girl Alleges Gang Rape by Football Players.”

I also know that the athletes that make headlines like this are a small minority. Not all football players are inherently evil or even stupid. If my cousin and his friends ever made the newspaper, it was for helping the team win a game. Most coaches are not corrupt. And to be fair, I have met a few pretty sketchy music directors in my day, so this stuff is not limited to the world of athletics. But football is a high profile activity and I think that the participants should be just as carefully coached to be good citizens and compassionate, fallible human beings as they are in the fine points of the gridiron.

The real reason I don’t go to football games is that I’m simply not that interested. I still don’t understand the rules very well. I don’t care enough to learn. I’m not a very good spectator in general. Sitting around watching something for hours on end is not my bag. Concerts and plays fall into the same category. If I have to be at such an event, I much more enjoy the excitement and activity that goes on behind the scenes — a backstage kind of gal who likes to help keep things running smoothly. I still like to yell and scream and jump up and down but I need to have a better reason than because it’s what everybody else is doing.

It’s football season again. If you like football, go and have a great time! Yell and scream and jump up and down for me! I will be following the U of M schedule very closely so I can be as far away from the games and the crowds and the traffic as I can get. Kayaking, hiking, reading, writing, thinking, programming, knitting, beading, and slugging around on the beach if at all possible.

Coffee Coffee Coffee

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Okay, only two coffees. But that was enough and I am jittery.

First, Monday coffee with Marci at Barry’s has been changed temporarily to Wednesday coffee with Marci at Barry’s because I have a class Monday mornings. One large coffee. All kinds of world problems solved.

Then Mouse said something like, “I want to go to Treasure Mart, the yarn store, and Gap.” She wasn’t exactly asking me to go with her but the first two errands sounded interesting. I hemmed and hawed to myself. Do homework or go shopping? She made it easy by suggesting I could skip the Gap. Sold. We were walking into the yarn store and there was Vicki, paying some guy who had replaced her windshield in the parking lot. Ohmigod! Vicki! Out of the blue! I sent Mouse into the store without me and Vick and I stood there and began gabbing uncontrollably about the horrible years we have both just been through. “Are you okay?” we asked each other. “I am always okay — on some level,” we reassured each other.

After a couple minutes, we moved it over to a neighboring coffee shop. Talked about our families and our friends and our lives and reminisced about when she still lived in the neighborhood and our kids went to school together and we walked every day and could enter each other’s houses without knocking.

Old friends, new friends, cousins, in-laws. I need them all. Not necessarily in any order. I probably didn’t need that double cappuccino though!

Grok grok! Y’know, that stuff sounds a lot like th’ ol’ bags in that stoopid travelin’ funeral book. Grok grok. You shouldda blahgged about that cute hippo instead. Grok grook. I c’n just hear yer bro’ sayin’, “Kee-reist!” ‘n’ I c’n hear Grandroobly sayin’ som’th’n’ too but it ain’t fit t’ post in my blahg. Grok grok frgok!

Uh, *your* blahg? Froggy?

Yay For The Haisley Manatees!

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Or how about the Haisley Tigers? Mouse’s first grade class situation would take a whole ‘nother entry, probably best filed under “rants,” and I can’t think of any reason for going in that direction today. But I remember one day when there was some sort of vote about naming the class. Or maybe it was just Mouse’s table being named. I don’t really remember the details but Mouse came home disappointed because her idea, “The Haisley Manatees,” was voted down by a majority of students who favored “The Haisley Tigers.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with tigers. I don’t think Mouse has ever met an aminal she didn’t like, with the possible exception of the “bad aminal” that used to frequently glue her into her bed back in the day. But I’m gonna guess that manatees are cuter and more interesting than tigers and Mouse has actually *met* a manatee. His name is Snooty and it turns out he is still alive! He lives in an aquarium in the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, Florida, and we met him when we were down there visiting Grandpa Garth and Grandma Sally a long time ago. I think I enjoyed the South Florida Museum a lot more than Disney World, where I got sick. I recovered quickly and y’all do *not* wanna know!

For quite a while after that trip to Florida, everything was manatee around here. Well maybe that’s not *quite* accurate. There were still mice and frogs and ostriches and cockroaches and venus fly traps and, well, I could go on forever. But manatees became a favorite. One time the GG made aminal faces on some easter eggs and one of them somehow got named “Snooty,” which I could never quite understand because it didn’t look any more like a manatee to me than any of the other easter egg faces. But boy was he in trouble when he accidentally gave the egg away. “You gave Snooty away!” I hope nobody ate that egg. It had sat on a shelf in the back room for a couple months (or years?). Sometimes I can’t even believe some of the stuff that happens around here. 🙄

What brought up that little bit of nostalgia was this story about Marvin the manatee, who managed to swim all the way up the Atlantic coast to Cape Cod. I hope he makes it home.

And while I’m off on tangents, Haisley School itself is now home to The Haisley Huskies. It used to be the home of The Haisley Hawks but that was squelched by a former principal, in spite of the fact that the school was home to an extensive collection of stuffed hawks and owls and things. Birds of prey don’t make appropriate mascots for our young students, you know, even though those stuffed birds of prey were collected by an even earlier principal. I guess that was kind of recursive, I know some of y’all are scratching your heads, “Whaaaaa?” Sayonara!

Back To School

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Today is the first day of school and I have three classes, which will probably kill me. Two of them are on Monday, a morning class and a night class, and that will probably kill me too. Yes, that means I have to drive over to WCC twice on Mondays. And then a third class on Tuesday morning.

  • INP290 Web Design Practicum (Mondays, 9-12): project management and everything else under the sun, probably including the kitchen sink
  • INP275 Web Database (Mondays, 6-9): database theory, MySQL, ColdFusion, and I dunno what else but it’ll probably kill me
  • INP203 Designing User Experience II (Tuesdays, 9-12): *lots* of reading and writing and critical thinking and probably group projects too

Crazy? I dunno. After the last year, I need a big distraction and this will be one and I am excited. And now, when I go to classes, I have *friends* in them and even the people I don’t know become friends pretty quickly. It still feels like the more I learn, the more I don’t know, but I’m no longer afraid to speak up in class, like I was two years ago.


Sunday, August 27th, 2006

“Don’t touch *anything*!” said the nice, friendly fireman. And here I’d been thinking I had nothing to blahg about today.

I kind of wanted to go kayaking this morning but when I got up it was raining cats and dogs and the GG was feeling a little “slow.” I thought, “okay, this is probably the last day I’ll get to slug around for quite some time because school starts tomorrow morning, bright and early.” So I parked myself in front of my powerbook and worked on Sockzilla while studying the WordPress codex. I may not be able to knit and play the flute simultaneously but I *can* knit (or play the flute) and read more or less simultaneously.

It has rained on and off all day but it’s been a quiet, warm sort of rain without any wind or lightning. Actually, a perfect day for slugging around not being terribly ambitious. And then. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt. All the lights dimmed and flickered and the microwave started blinking. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzt.

What was *that*? I unplugged my powerbook. It sounded like it was coming from the schoolyard. Could the construction workers over there have hit a power line? I was a little leery about going outside but finally we did. A fire truck was just pulling into the neighborhood and it parked in front of Madison’s house. The buzzing started up again, along with a spectacular mass of multi-colored sparks and flames behind Madison’s house. (Madison was safe and her house was narrowly missed.) The flames and buzzing continued intermittently as neighbors gathered and the firemen put yellow tape up everywhere.

There is some dispute about whether lightning struck or a dying tree got weighted down by water and simply fell over. I certainly didn’t hear any thunder. Whatever the cause, the tree fell onto some high-voltage power lines and the whole mess landed in Madison’s backyard. To quote the fireman, “it’s arcing all over.” A telephone pole a block away was broken and a garage over on Duncan, a couple blocks in the *other* direction, was on fire. Our friend the fireman said that he didn’t even want to think about how much voltage was going into the ground back there and that anything in the area could be electrified. At that, I turned around and walked back to my house, which was not electrified. At least it hadn’t been when I left it.

UPDATE: It was Alice’s garage and it didn’t catch fire but a live wire came down in her back yard and burned a big trench in the lawn and the fire was headed toward the garage.


Saturday, August 26th, 2006

The sock that ate…? Maybe not. But this is my sock. Or this is what it looked like a few days ago. I no longer have the luxury of knitting on the beach. The [k]nitty gritty: I’m using Trekking XXL sock yarn, color 155, which is a nice beachy bunch of colors, and my needles — all five of them — are double pointed bamboo size 1s. What pattern am I using? It is called Mouse Says and this is how it goes:

  1. sockzilla.jpgMouse says: Cast on and do this until…
  2. Mouse says: now do this until…
  3. Mouse says: oops, you made a mistake, it’s on the heel so I’ll pick it out for you.
  4. repeat step 3 once or twice
  5. Moom does the heel for the *third* time and *this* time, she shows Mouse her work *every* single dad-blasted row to make sure she hasn’t made a mistake. Again.
  6. Mouse says: do this until…

I’m not entirely sure what the next “until” is at this point, something about trying the sock on my foot with the needles still in it and then a bunch of ssk and k2tog stuff. I can vaguely remember this stuff from when I used to knit, back in another life. I never did socks then, they seemed boring and utilitarian. But times change and sock yarn is more exciting now. Some of it even stripes itself, so no need to mess around switching colors, etc. (My yarn doesn’t stripe itself, it’s just sort of variegated.) Anyway, I better finish at least one of these things before Mouse heads on back to school or I will not know how to do the second one. Onward.


Friday, August 25th, 2006
  • I am sick and tired of finding rodent crap in certain cupboards and drawers in the kitchen and I am going to empty them and clean them and not put anything back into them. This is a recurrent phenomenon and I don’t want to live with it any more. I don’t like traps, too often they don’t scribble the cute little scurry mousket all the way and then I have to drown it.
  • I am sick and tired of software applications et al that try to be too smart. Microsoft Word is the prime example with its infuriating desire to impose its own random ideas about how to number lists and things. But web hosts that offer WordPress blahgs as part of the package and then don’t give you easy access to the files can be just about as bad. I have encountered two of those today. Give us slow old hand-coders a break, wouldja please?
  • Php is also gonna drive me crazy. I tried to un-comment one sniggly little thing in my blahg index file today and, in so doing, managed to blow the whole dern thing away. I had to reinstall WordPress to get it back. I needed to upgrade anyway. Sigh.
  • bulldozers.jpgI dunno what those survey guys were doing on the “construction road” in between the two sides of the deep, dark, scary Haisley Woods or why Haisley School is suddenly housing school district offices. I hope the Ann Arbor Public Schools, in its infinitely superior wisdom, has not decided to convert the “construction road” to a “real road.” If they do, I suppose I will have to go and lay my old bones down in front of the bulldozer. People, we need *less* concrete around here, not more. Negative freeways and inside out cities. grok grok
  • I won’t even begin to mention the heat or the new shambling mounds at the Carbeck Landfill* or high fructose corn sugar or garlic down the garbage disposal or the dwarf planet Pluto or gephyrophobia or lithium ion batteries or all the stuff that’s in the news that is too controversial for my random little blahg.

* NOTE: I am NOT bragging about my horrible house-cleaning skills! I am having a *problem* with all of this! Compassion, please. Empathy, if you will.

To Tag Or Not To Tag

Thursday, August 24th, 2006


A while back, Mouse found a cool web site that graphs the html tags on a web page. That picture up there is what it did with mine. “What in tarnation is that big round thing at the top?” Mouse and I wondered. Looks kind of like a blue and gray dandelion gone to seed. Well, I figured out that that dandelion-looking thing is my tag categories. Go to the right sidebar and scroll down a couple-three times.

I’ve been thinking about this tag and category thing ever since I converted my blahg to WordPress back in May. At first, I got so excited about having categories that I went a little wild with the tagging. I created categories left and right and tagged everything absolutely to death. I had entries with five or six tags attached to them. And then one day, I got kind of overwhelmed by it all and stopped. Just like that. I was just plain tired of figuring out which tags described my entries the best. I found that the little WordPress search engine was just as helpful at finding things as tagging. Except when I’m trying to find something from the years of ababsurdo archives that I may never get around to converting to WordPress.

So, all you blahggers (and non-blahggers too), what do you think? How are you using categories and tagging? Or not using them. Do they help you keep things organized? Or do they just make things messier? What about tag clouds? And stuff like (grok grok, whadabout grok grok frook) and flickr and technorati. And while we’re at it, let’s take it to a meta-level and tag tags.