Archive for February, 2008

dun dun dun du du du dun dun dun

Friday, February 29th, 2008

=saltpatrol.jpgOkay. The Salt Patrol is ready to ride.

Faaaaar up the Dirty Old Green Honda Accord. CHECK!

Sweep the four (or whatever) inches of snow off the windows, et al. CHECK!

Load up the handy dandy salt bucket. (I keep my salt in a drywall bucket, betcha can’t guess who I stole it from). CHECK!

Do we have the salt scoop? CHECK.

Let’s roll!

Ladies and gentlemen, I fell this morning. I was NOT a happy camper. We’ve had a more or less “real” winter here this year. The kind that makes people say stuff like, “Global warming?” I have walked in all kinds of conditions. About once every 10 days or so, I cancel my morning walk because there is a quarter inch of ice coating everything. It wasn’t that bad this morning. Actually, it was mostly okay. But it was one of those mornings when about an inch or two of snow covered everything. That’s great if there’s nice dry, SALTED pavement under your feet. And there mostly was. There was some boilerplate ice under there too but you can SEE that because it’s uneven. So. I slipped and slid just a bit a few times but was able to catch myself. Until I was walking up Westwood. I was getting toward the end of my loop. I guess I had pretty much figgered that I had encountered pretty much every kind of condition there was by that time. I was trucking along and all of a sudden my feet totally went out from under me. Ka-whomp! I was on the ground. It was a little slower motion than the last time I did something like that and my back and head didn’t totally crack onto the sidewalk. That last time, it was two or three days before I stopped feeling like a giant had picked me up and shaken me. That was years ago. I can’t remember exactly what year but people were *years* away from college and The Indefatigable didn’t have big holes in it when we went down to stealth-salt that idjit’s sidewalk so it’s been at least 10 years.

The last time I fell, I stood up really quick and assessed whether I thought I could actually get home under my own power. Yes was the answer and probably the fact that I didn’t quit my normal exercise schedule over the next couple days was a good thing. Today I was just MAD! I stood up and yelled a whole bunch of expletives at no one in particular, hoping the homeowner would hear me. I was prepared for a confrontation. I went home and loaded up the DHOGA with salt, drove back over there and salted the heck out of that sidewalk. Unfortunately, no one saw me. I don’t think. I was almost hoping they would so I could say, “I went into freefall on your sidewalk this morning. Why don’t you salt it?”

And then. I realized that the homeowner was a friend of mine. I had been so upset before that I didn’t recognize whose house it was! A wonderful person, a VERY busy one, that I don’t see very often any more. We were definitely on the same team the year the Planet Ann Arbor Public School District killed our beloved alternative middle school. Bad idea. Anyway, on the rare occasions we see each other now, it’s all, “Hey, how’veya been, what are you doing now, what are your kids doing now?” I stopped being mad at her. I know how busy she is and I bet she doesn’t even realize she has a death trap on her sidewalk.

I don’t know what to do or say here. This is the kind of person who probably gets overwhelmed by the recycling rules around here (easy enough to do). I bet she doesn’t regularly walk the sidewalks of the Planet. Definitely not when they might be icy. But the rules here say that you have to salt (or sand). And people SHOULD! Especially when they have places that collect sheets of water during thaws.

My dad *died* as the direct result of a fall on ice. At least he said he fell on ice. Some of the rest of us aren’t totally sure that ice was involved. It’s a moot point. Please, people, salt your sidewalks. I don’t want to fall. I don’t need concussions or broken bones. And you do NOT want to be on the other end of my anger. When I get angry, it ain’t pretty.

Er, note to self. Put salt on the grokkery list. You are gonna prob’ly run out tomorrow. Again…

quick iphone update

Friday, February 29th, 2008

I was so involved with my own stupid little problems this week that I totally forgot to watch Rey on Jeopardy. It was on last night. Maybe Jay (or Rey) will comment and tell all.

Or guest blahg? Hmmm? How ’bout it?

Mooooooooooooooooo

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

lakemichigan.jpgOkay, I’m calm now. I was pretty angry this morning. For about the umpteenth time this year, I got off the phone with a smooth-talking bank customer “support” person feeling like crying, screaming, or strangling someone. National City this time. Gotcher blogosphere monitors on, National City? Stockholder here.

First and not related to the problem but *majorly* annoying. “Welcome to National City.” In English. Loud hold-the-phone-away-from-your-ear English! Then. A long barrage of Spanish followed by a long barrage of Polish. Polish? Now, I can believe that NCC has a good number of Spanish-speaking customers but Polish? Finally, about the time I’m thinking I have the wrong number, there’s a pause and English starts up again. Folks. I have *no* problem with reaching out to customers who aren’t fluent at English. But I would bet my bottom dollar that the vast majority of NCC customers speak plain old midwestern American English. Please, please, please, let us just press “1” or whatever before you start gabbling on in Spanish and Polish. Customers who speak foreign languages KNOW that the lingua franca in this country is English. They will understand about this. I promise. I would, if I were in Spain or Poland. Meanwhile, you are wasting a lot of time for a lot of people and you are completely befuddling a few elderly folks that I know. I won’t name any names but they are *longtime* customers and bigger stockholders than I am. And your stock is way down and that’s probably mostly because of the latest mortgage greed crisis but you really do have to think through the business reasons for what you are doing and I think you should start by looking at who your customers are. Anyway.

I was calling on Mouse’s behalf. I am “on” her savings account. Sheesh, I have been “on” her savings account since she was one, or whenever it was that *I* (duh) opened it. I am *not* “on” her checking account. Appropriately. But I have access to it. With her explicit permission! I can get to it online and I have a copy of her debit card, which I have successfully used to *deposit* money into her account. Like, why would I want to empty my own kid’s account? I was calling because she *asked* me to call. Could I access her account. No. Sorry, ma’am, you can’t do that. She was smooth and she was reading from a script and I knew I wouldn’t get anywhere with her. And the truth is that it’s probably okay because all I was trying to do was ascertain that Mouse would have access to her funds while traveling to a different African country at the end of her study abroad experience. Some of which (funds) I had deposited because I HAVE ACCESS TO HER ACCOUNTS! WTH PERMISSION. HEAR THAT NCC? but it’s an overall policy thing, as it turns out. I hope. If the bank knows you’re in Africa, you’re okay. And they do. Apparently she doesn’t have to fix it up for every individual country. The whole experience still upset me.

I am between a rock and a hard place on this stuff. I know what the issues are. I understood them even before I began working for an online banking concern. Believe me folks, banks are very concerned about the safety of their customers’ accounts. Yours, mine, and Mouse’s. I appreciate the convenience of on-line banking, so that’s a *good* thing. But I couldn’t help thinking about how it was back in the old days when Grandroobly and his dad were small-town bankers. In that town, in that era, you could go down to the bank and those guys would have a pretty good idea about who you were and what your family was all about and whether or not they could trust you. They would go out of their way to help little people like me handle unusual situations if they were pretty sure the person was good for the money.

It was also back in the day when a cow could be collateral. If you were a deadbeat, your friendly (or not-so friendly, if you were a deadbeat) bank president would draft his bank teller son to help him walk your cow down a muddy road, herd it onto a ferry, cross a river, and put it on a truck on the other side. Grandroobly always concluded this story with a deadpan, “If you are in the banking business, you can get into all kinds of shit.” Moooooooo.

Kvetch Kvetch Kvetch

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

marilyn.jpgYes, I was kvetching yesterday about the headache and the driving and the botox and stuff. Sorry. I RARELY get headaches and yesterday’s was the SMALLEST of headaches and that’s what it did to my psyche. And I hope Marilyn doesn’t mind me posting that pic because I am sick of posting tundra and alien pics et al. The hardland of the winter.

I met up with my Wednesday Breakfast Buddy this morning. We rotate restaurants and this morning we were at The Broken Egg, right down there on the corner of Miller and Main. There was no overnight snow and the roads were dry and we were both amazed that we had no problem getting there. In fact, it was a lot easier than it usually is in general and I have just enough of a toe-hold into the Planet Ann Arbor School District schedule that I knew why. It is the so-called mid-winter break.

It got me thinking about a day when my Mom-ometer went into hyperdrive. Lizard Breath and Mouse were both in high school together down at our own Commie High. As a senior that year, Liz had parking privileges and our jeep still has the zebra sticker there on the back window to prove that. [And another zebra for Mouse’s senior year.] That’s two. Cool, but I’m digressing. Mouse was a freshman and her ride to school was usually her sister.

So, I’m a mom and one day we woke up and there was a lot of snow and the schools were not canceled. For whatever reason. Heck, up in the Yoop, the schools did *not* get canceled when I was a kid. I sent the kids off with all kinds of trepidation. They had to drive down Miller to get to school and there are Kerrytown complications that I won’t get into. Anyway. What if they crash? What if they slide off the road? Etc., etc., ad nauseam. I asked the kids to call me when they got to school. I didn’t hear from them and I didn’t hear from them and I didn’t hear from them. I left multiple voice messages on Lizard Breath’s cell phone. No response. Finally I took off to follow them. And I got to Miller. And it was backed up just about all the way to North Maple. My turnoff. Kee-reist! I knew the kids were okay because *nobody* was going more than about 5 mph.

And I was *very* late to my meeting with Paula and Elena (beloved yagbabes and Paula isn’t even with us any more) because of my stupid momness. Love you kids. I hope I wasn’t *too* much of a helicopter mom. *Still* miss you Paula. Maybe you can hang out with my bro’ and dad on our beach sometimes.

My Yearly Headache

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

gasgiant.jpgThat *was* gonna be my title until I figgered out that the last time I had a headache was *not* a year ago today, it was last April 4th. I was accurate in remembering that I felt a little off a year ago today. It just wasn’t a headache. I rarely have headaches or aches and pains in general. Once in a while I sleep “wrong” and it takes a few hours for my back or my neck to spring back into where it needs to be. But that’s rare. And so are headaches. I know I’m lucky. Sorry. Today I do have a little headache. It’s one of those sinus-y type things that hits one little part of one side of my head. It’ll go away. I hope. Well, actually, I’m having a bit of ‘hattan and it is already mostly gone.

The weather was “bad” today. Snow and other precipitation, mostly snow. That’s probably why I have the headache. I didn’t have any trouble getting to work although I honked at a couple of bird-brained trophy wife looking gals with big SUVs that turned in front of me in my cute little blue honda civic. Girls, learn to drive. You can do it. Really. That politician-haired CEO of yours is gonna dump you one o’ these days, I don’t care how cute you are or how much botox you’ve done. He’ll move on to someone even younger and cuter. And you might end up drivin’ a cute little blue honda civic then. It’ll be okay. The Civic is a great vee-hickle. I love it and so will you.

I am actually kind of thriving on the 40-hour work week. I embarked on this adventure with some trepidation. I wondered how I would keep up with the housework. Guess what? If nobody (including me) is home, nobody makes a mess. Duh. I’m still on a learning curve at work. Lately I feel like I’m moving into a new level of comprehension but I’m still absorbing information. I’ve gotten to the point where my brain doesn’t always spin after a meeting (uh, check back with me on that) and I know just enough to know how and where to find information.

Quote of the day? “If you hire adults, they show up.” Or something like that. Kids, remember that. The game is at least halfway won by showing up. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of young people out there who are reliable and have a work ethic. I happen to know a few of them myself! But, unfortunately, there are a number of people my age and older who feel that they are entitled to a living without putting any effort into it and they have reproduced themselves. Sigh.

Okay, I’ll get off that soapbox quick!

Alien in the Cupboard

Monday, February 25th, 2008

alien.jpgHere is your itinerary home to Planet Earth from Planet Zephron III:

Orion Internebular Hyperdrive Transport: depart Planet Zephron III, 35:a5PM Intergalactic Standard Time, arrive Orion Nebula, Station 886xpv, b1:68AM IST

Orion Internebular Hyperdrive Transport: depart Orion Nebula Station 886xpv c8:45AM IST, arrive Alpha Centauri, Planet Blackula, 8d:98PM IST

Milky Way Shuttle: depart Alpha Centauri, Planet Blackula, 93:e2AM IST, arrive Solar System, Planet Venus, 9:40 PM CST

Hey, wait a minute! VENUS!?!?!?! But I don’t want to go to Venus! I can’t even breathe there. I want to go to Earth. And there’s a shuttle that leaves from Planet Blackula to Planet Earth just a few minutes after this stupid flight to Venus. I know Earth and Venus are not that far apart. But I don’t want to go to Venus. I want to go to Earth. Change my ticket! Why can’t you change my ticket?

Grok grok grok! Pssssssst. Hey, Ol’ Baggy: It’s *Injun* in th’ cubbert, NOT *alien* in th’ cubbert. Grok grok refgork

Froggy, it’s okay, I wasn’t referring to the *book*. I was referring to where we *keep* the alien. Grok grok grok.

Life is too short to sort the silverware.

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

rainbow.jpgIf the bank sent 1099s, you’d have found them in the tax folder.

If the bank didn’t send 1099s, they won’t be in the tax folder.

No, I don’t remember whether the bank sent 1099s.

When 1099s come in the mail, I open them, throw out the envelope or whatever, and put them in the tax folder. And forget them.

Anyway, if they want to audit us over those piddly little bits of interest, they can knock themselves out. Literally, it’s probably under $50. I am not kidding.

Do you know how much money Mouse has in her bank accounts?

I’ll email it to you.

Clickety clickety clickety click tappity tappity tap swooooooooooosh!

Do you know *exactly* what is in our checking and savings accounts at this very moment (this question for the blasted FAFSA, not the taxes).

No. Sheesh. There is very little in our bank savings accounts. I think you know that. Our checking account is like a big wave. I mean, really. It might have $4000 in it today (it doesn’t) and five cents tomorrow (it won’t (I hope)).

That’s how checking accounts are.

So it’s really pretty stupid to nit-pick about how much money is in the blasted checking account at any given moment.

Just put down [ballpark figure].

Do you know how much money Mouse has in her bank accounts?

I emailed that to you *hours* ago.

I didn’t get an email from you.

I sent it.

What email ID did you send it from?

*My* email ID.

I didn’t get it.

siiiiiiiggggghhhh

Oh, there it is.

Er, repeat about the last ten statements here about umpteen million times.

I hate Tax Day. I mean the day the taxes get done around here, not April 15th.

Other people around here are being veddy veddy serious about the whole thing. To the point where they are not much fun to be around.

Not that things were all bad. Yesterday Webmomster brought Ernie and Alfred down here for an overnight. She tells it better than I can but we did do lots of boilerplate-ice dog-walking and a boilerplate-ice walking trip to Plum Market*, where we ran into Mouse’s longtime friend Liz K. Knight’s was like hitting the triple jackpot last night. Porters and Squires and Evanses galore. Plus Webmomster. I love when Knight’s is like that. And then I got an email problem sorted out that will enable me to forge stumble ahead with the mind-bogglingly complex project of moving my blahg to a decent host service. You don’t want to know. It’ll make your brain hurt. But I think we have done our last FAFSA, so YAY!

P.S. I am getting really good at navigating boilerplate ice. In my Chacos, no less. I might even miss it when it finally melts.

P.S. Take those things out of your ears.

* We are not iced in at all. The sun has been out in full force for a couple days and most roads are dry. They are easily navigable and generally have been all winter.

Boilerplate ice? Enquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

boilerjeep.jpgThat would be Webmomster’s enquiring mind and since I am sitting here in my newly discovered daze of “it’s the weekend” and I actually have all my chores done, or at least the important ones, I will ruminate about this for a while. Because when I read Webmomster’s comment, I was thinking that I had been bandying the term “boilerplate ice” around a lot lately and I started wondering, “what *is* boilerplate ice and where *did* I get that term?” Actually, I was thinking that I got it from Uber Kayak Woman, who emailed me earlier in the week with a Main Maine ski report. But then, I thought, “no, I’m sure I used that term earlier in the winter too.” I’m not sure if I did or not but I *did* find UKW’s email and she did indeed mention boilerplate ice as a feature of her skiing expotition last weekend. She also provided the description “due to the tendency here for snowfall to be followed immediately by rain.”

Yes. Boilerplate is all too often what skiing is all about in the eastern half of the country. It brought back a lot of memories of the days when I actually navigated real slopes on skis. Mission Hill, overlooking Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. Boyne or Nubs if we could manage to nag somebody into driving us there. Or all the times in junior high when we would walk up to the absolute end of our alley, climb up the escarpment and pay 50 cents to ride the rope tow at Minneapolis Woods all night. Homework? Homework be damned. Yes, boilerplate was *often* the name of the game. I avoid it like poison nowadays. I’m not the worst on skis but x-c skis do not have the control that downhill skis do and I do not need any broken bones. But we were kids then. We were made of rubber. When you fell down, you lay there spread-eagled until your hysterical laughter subsided enough that you could pick yourself up and ski the rest of the way down. If somebody had a particularly spectacular fall, like the time my friend’s sister missed the dogleg turn on number 1 at Mission Hill, it might even get immortalized in song: “Off she goes, into the wild blue yonder! Sailing up, into the trees.” Yes, that’s sung to the tune of the air force song. The one those of us whose dads were in the WWII Army Air Corps grew up with. Yeah, I know, real creative, roight? The point here is, we loved to ski. Snow? Ice? Boilerplate? Crappy old rope tow? Clankity old chair lift? We didn’t care.

Boilerplate ice. It snows and it rains and it freezes and it snows and it rains and it freezes and it’s been doing that all winter around here and folks, we have boilerplate ice. It’s the same stuff as what’s out there on the ski slopes and trails. Navigating it in boots is even worse than on skis. You can’t shovel it. You’d have to break it up with a chisel first. You can melt it with salt but it’d take a couple dumptrucks full just to get rid of what was in my driveway all week. Today it is still out there but we’re having a sunny sorta warm day for once and it is starting to melt. Finally. I took some pics of what’s left. You can see some of it in the pic. It’s that shiny stuff reflecting the sun. Click here or on The Indefatigable for a few more. They’re not very good. Sorry. Weird lighting, etc.

Keep your children safe.

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

boilerplate.jpgFrom boilerplate ice with an icing of snow over it. I really don’t have the psychic energy for another rant of yesterday’s proportions but I feel one coming on. Sorry.

I was walking through the schoolyard early this morning and there were these yellow police-type tapes tying a bunch of trees together. They weren’t taping the school off. Nothing seemed to be wrong at the school and anyway, I was walking *between* the school and these yellow tape things, i.e., they seemed to be keeping me away from the school*yard*, not the building. I finally concluded that they were keeping the precious little kiddos at the school from walking across the schoolyard, which at the moment, is covered with a layer of the unevenly distributed boilerplate ice that covers just about everything around here. I’m sorry but I have got to wonder which helicopter parents are behind that!

You guys, it is *us* with our adult center of balance who have trouble with ice. When I was a kid, it was *fun* to play around with ice and snow. Slide this way and that! I can’t remember exactly what we did with unevenly distributed boilerplate ice but I’m sure we probably had a blast with it! Nobody ever taped it off from us. What is the deal here? Let your kids go and have fun.

And heck, I didn’t even begin to match yesterday’s rant. I’m taaaared and that’s okay. Whaddya all remember about being a winter kid in the great white north or wherever?

Ivory, I love you but it’s Kevin who’s in my future.

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

railroad.jpgOkay, first. National City. For *months* (it seemed) I would log on to my on-line banking doodly and there’d be this message about how they were totally redesigning their website to make it easier to navigate, yada yada. I didn’t think it was too bad as it was. I would put my user id in on the home page and then I’d get directed to a password page and I’d enter that and from there, I’d be able to do, well, pretty much whatever it is you do with your on-line banking doodly. I guess there are some things I might change but they’re pretty minor and overall, the site works pretty well. Well, what NCC added, under the label of better navigation, was a splash page. So now, when I go out to my on-line bank doodly, I can’t enter my user ID directly on the home page. I am faced with a splash page that asks me to choose the area I am interested in, i.e., “personal banking”, “business banking”, “corporate banking”, etc. There’s even a picture of an outdoorsy-looking guy with binoculars. Probably some gals think he’s cute but he doesn’t have me fooled with his “politician hair”. Anyway, I can’t just enter my user ID on the home page any more. I have to click “personal banking” to get to that. Frankly, the only area of the NCC site that I *ever* access is the personal banking area, so why am I faced with making a choice? Oh wait! There is a CHECKBOX that I can check if I don’t want to ever see the splash page again. And so I have. Over and over and over again. Click click click clikc click. In fact, whenever I go out to the blasted NCC site, the splash page has that blasted box checked. The problem is that I am STILL taken to the splash page first and I STILL have to click “personal banking” to get to where I can enter my user ID! And then, when I GET to that page, there is this terribly annoying Flash thing. It loads for a few seconds (even on my broadband connection) and then a bunch of dots appear, all in a line. They start to bounce around and eventually, some woman appears and I forget what happens next. I treat this whole thing like a video game (an annoying one). Can I type my user ID in fast enough to go to the next page before the dots start to bounce around? Once I get to my account stuff, it doesn’t look any different than it has in, oh I dunno, about 5-8 years or thereabouts? So why all the crap about better navigation? All this at a time when National City’s stock is down to a new low and they’ve cut the dividend. I know that because I’m a stockholder. A smalltime stockholder but a stockholder nevertheless. I know that the reason NCC’s stock is down is due to repercussions from the most recent mortgage scandal and you can analyze that all you want but the bottom line answer is one word: GREED. On the part of the lender’s lenders and the home-buyers and everyone involved in the whole blasted structure. Just ask my dad and granddad. They’ll tellya if you can conjure ’em up. So, why they have spent who knows how much to pay for a stoopid splash page and an even stoopider Flash thing with bouncing balls. I love Flash. It’s fun. But I learned how to do that stuff in Flash 1 and I learned that people HATE splash pages back in User Experience 1. Plus, *I* hate splash pages! NCC is paying somebody out there to do almost nothing.

Where was I? If you’ve made it this far you win! I had rants about the telephone company (which one? any one?) and the vee-hickle insurance company (even though they have REDUCED our gargantuan premium) but I’m outta steam. What’s bugging y’all these days?

Oh, and the refrigimatator seems to be working well now. I probably shouldn’t have blahgged that!

Only $60? Well, okay, but I can’t help wondering what’s next.

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

dishes.jpgLemme see here…

February 2008, typical week:

  • Monday: Monday coffee with MCB (often changes due to MCB gallivanting all over Planet Earth). Work. Plum Market.
  • Tuesday: Chores. Work. php/ruby class (do not pass go, do not collect $200, or food or anything).
  • Wednesday: Breakfast with WBB. Work. Plum Market.
  • Thursday: Chores. Work. Plum Market.
  • Friday: Chores. Work. Plum Market. Drive north? Sometimes.

February 2007, typical week:

  • Monday: Monday coffee with MCB (often changes due to MCB gallivanting all over Planet Earth). Chores, errands, homework up the you-know-what.
  • Tuesday: Chores, homework up the you-know-what, killer hard photoshop graphic design class.
  • Wednesday: Breakfast with WBB, chores, errands, homework up the you-know-what.
  • Thursday: Flash class, chores, homework up the you-know-what, professional practices class (i.e., write yer dern resume Kayak Woman!).
  • Friday: Chores, errands, homework up the you-know-what, drive north? Sometimes.

February 2006, typical week:

  • Monday: Monday coffee with MCB (often changes due to MCB gallivanting all over Planet Earth). Drive 40 miles to Henry Ford and spend the day with Grandroobly and The Commander. Drive home. Fall asleep in front of the Olympics.
  • Tuesday: Drive 40 miles to Henry Ford and spend the day with Grandroobly and The Commander. Drive home. Fall asleep in front of the Olympics.
  • Wednesday: Breakfast with WBB (sometimes, just getting started up with that in 2006). Drive 40 miles to Henry Ford and spend the day with Grandroobly and The Commander. Drive home. Fall asleep in front of the Olympics.
  • Thursday: Fit drive (40 miles) to Henry Ford in around afternoon Business on the Internet Creative Writing class. Drive home. Fall asleep in front of the Olympics.
  • Friday: Drive 40 miles to Henry Ford and spend the day with Grandroobly and The Commander. Drive home. Fall asleep in front of the Olympics. Drive north?

Yeah, I’m not sure where I was going here, it’s just a brain dump. Hey, it’s my blahg. That’s what it’s for. Hit me if you notice any inappropriately placed apostrophes. Mrs. Loye and Mrs. Pratt taught me better than that no matter where they kept their handkerchiefs.

A squeaky blahgger

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

mouseblahg.jpgSqueak squeak! I don’t know if my owner really wants to come back from Senegal but if she doesn’t come back soon, I am gonna have to get Froggy and Smokie to fly me over there. And don’t tell Ol’ Baggy, woops, I mean Mouse’s Moom, because she will not let Froggy drive the flying machine because he keeps getting into the listerine and laundry detergent and stuff and getting drunk and passing out. And Ol’ Baggy, er Mouse’s Moom, is afraid he’ll drink and fly. And I don’t know if I want to ride with him on his flying machine when he’s drunk either. And I’ve been living in a plastic bag here! Squeeeeeeeek Squeeeeeeek! The Old Grumpy Growler is afraid I will disintegrate if I’m not in a plastic bag! Froggy and Ol’ Baggy (I mean Mouse’s Moom) think it’s okay but I don’t like it! Although I do get to wear Froggy’s babushka and a nice sarong from Bali. Grok grok! So THAT’S where my babushka went! grok grok. It’s okay, I gess th’ li’l squeek mousey c’n ware it. I love you Owner Mouse. Come home soon. Ol’ Baggy (I mean your moom) misses you too and so does Froog when he’s not sleeping it off in his londry baskit.

I am NOT spending another thousand dollars, er twelve hundred bucks, but besides that…

Monday, February 18th, 2008

scifair03.jpg

The Forsythe Middle School Science Fair has hit the A2 Snooze! It is billed as the biggest middle school science fair but I’m not sure it has ever been in the Snooze before. For a few years, I co-chaired the fair with my old Haisley Mafia buddy Vicki. We had an absolute blast! For five days every winter we lived in the middle school gymnasium and the “tech room”. Most of the kids would do an experiment and set up a project board with graphs and charts and photos and whatever else they needed. The tech room was where all the “oddball” projects went: those that needed lucky-shucky or water or just had an odd shape or size. We tried to accommodate everyone. We helped 400-500 kids set up their presentations, show them to their classmates and families, get them judged and take them down again. And kept track of the various databases throughout the whole thing. That was my job. Vick’s much bigger and more important job was overall organizer and SCHMOOZER! You are dead in the water if you don’t have a good schmoozer on your team. I mean that. And I am NOT one!

One year, I took a clue from Catherine, our main YAG costume mom supreme, and plastered “THIS IS A NO PANIC ZONE!” signs on the gym doors. One of my favorite memories was during the setup that year when Mr. Ezekiel, the *excellent* teacher who has been behind this huge venture for about a gazillion years (and probably still looks like he’s about 25) told us that he had come down to the gym in, well, rather a state of panic, which more or less dissipated when he saw our sign.

Of course, another favorite bit was the Saturday Night Midway-Through-The-Fair Celebratory Dinner over at Knights. With ‘hattans or whatever, of course. I sure hope the volunteers who took over the science fair after us have kept up that tradition. On the other hand there was also the Sunday morning after when Vicki and I met up for breakfast and to do her kids’ paper route only to discover that my fantabulous old POC made a burning smell when I started it up.

So, what about those science fair projects anyway? Do the kids do them or do the parents do them? Our judges, who were all actual scientists recruited from the university and local science-oriented concerns were very concerned about that and so were the teachers! Folks, people can tell when *you* do your kid’s project! And that’s one of the reasons that Mouse’s 6th grade rat maze project won a 4th place medal. It was obvious that, although she may have had a little help, she and Izzy the Rat had done the heavy lifting. An excerpt from her report stated that it was hard to catch Izzy when she came out of the end of the maze and couldn’t always get anyone to help: “This was a problem because my sister doesn’t like to hold my rat because she always goes to the bathroom on her. And my mom just isn’t crazy about rats.” Well, not totally true. Izzy was a wonderful rat. But fair enough. I wasn’t all that crazy about having Izzy crawl all over my shoulders. Or pee on me.

Being a co-chair, I knew that Mouse had won a medal before she did and that posed a problem for me. How the heck could I get her to attend the award ceremony. Just try to get a kid with the tentative relationship to middle school that Mouse had to go over there on a Sunday afternoon. I conspired just a bit with her dad and older sister and somehow we got her over there. Was she impressed? Hmmm. Her reaction was, “Mom, I just won because you knew the judges.” Uh, not. And then, when we got home, she promptly hung the medal where she felt it belonged, on Izzy’s cage. That was okay with me.

Mouse didn’t win another medal in later years. From the judges anyway. The next year she included guinea pig in her project and he was definitely not a very cooperative subject, which did not help. I couldn’t give her a real award but I did sneak a little home-made “cutest rat and guinea pig” award in there. Labeled “from MOOM!” so no one would think it was real. That’s okay. I think sometimes that being behind the scenes on so many things has reinforced to me that it’s okay if my kids don’t win every time. When you are involved in the backstage stuff you see how much goes into the whole thing. You can see that some kids are more engaged than others and you can tell those who are driven by parent over-involvement. It is definitely nice when my kids win sometimes. But it’s their effort that counts, not mine. And that makes it all the better when they do win something. Click here or on the pic for a short slide show.s <<== I’m leaving that pesky “s” there because it represents the fact that I rely HEAVILY on shortcut keys and the control key is not in the same place on my Windows laptop as the command key is on my Macbook.

quick iPhone update

Monday, February 18th, 2008

HB Webmomster!!!

Quick update

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

No problem driving home. We hunkered down at the HL cabin until it got warm enough that ice was falling off the trees. There was rain until about halfway down. Around Harrison, there was heavy fog and slush on the freeway and some who were probably going too fast were off the road, in one case upside down. Not fun. After that, plain old rain and then dry roads and blinding sun on and off. Frog-a-stat?? Okay, it seems. Ice cubes were frozen and those in the ice cube bin were not stuck to the bottom.

“All trails are in excellent condition.”

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

icehair.jpgSo says my daily email from the ski ranch. Bob, we love you but who the heck are you trying to fool?

It’s a grainy photo booth pic in horrible lighting conditions so you can’t really see that my hair is totally caked with ice. So much for my usual early morning walk over to the second bridge and back. I got halfway, that’s down to the end of the point. Or point of the point I guess, given my inability to find a burned down cabin a couple years ago because I didn’t apparently have a full grasp of the terminology surrounding points and peninsulas. Even though I live in a peninsular state.

Anyway, I knew something was up when I got up this morning and couldn’t see the lights on the other side of the lake. I walked out and there was a crust of ice all over everything. What was coming out of the ski sky was wet. Like rain. Except that it was freezing on contact. Walking *to* the point wasn’t too bad. The road was tolerable for walking albeit only because there was still quite a bit of snow residue under the ice. The wind was at my back and so was most of the precipitation. Then I turned around. And really that is about all I want to say about that.

I was looking for another burned down cabin today. This time I had an address and the owner’s name. We don’t really know most of the neighbors here. We aren’t unfriendly with anyone or anything. It’s just a different dynamic than we have on Fin Family Moominbeach. The cabins are a lot closer together in most cases and one of the ways we all maintain our privacy is to not feel obligated to stop and gossip every single last time we encounter a neighbor outside. But I’ve walked by this cabin umpteen million times and the owners had their names on a prominent sign out by the road. So it was familiar. Except I couldn’t find it this morning. The sign was gone. I couldn’t find the address. My glasses were so full of ice that I couldn’t see.

Anyway, today I don’t care how many miles Pooh is biking or Jay is walking or whatever extreme sport UKW is up to. I am not skiing in this crap. It’s too bad because I don’t feel so much like a slug today. But yuck. Bring on the bacon!

WWUKWD?

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

snowgrass.jpg7:00 was what my iPhone proclaimed when I first looked at it this morning. I *rarely* wake up as late as that. I may not always drag myself out of the rack until about seven on Houghton Lake weekends but I am usually awake before then. It was starting to get light already. I was not off to a good start. I put my snowpants and my balaclava on and took my walk and that felt pretty good but when I got back, all I wanted to do was sit around and eat bacon in front of my macbook. I wasn’t sick. And the coupla ‘hattans I had last night were not enough to knock me down. I actually felt just fine. We came up here specifically to go x-c skiing. This has been a long, decent ski season for once but we haven’t been able to get up here since mid-December. Or I haven’t been able to anyway. I remember feeling guilty that weekend about not being at home shopping for Christmas, etc. As it turned out, it was a *good* thing I was up here then because I didn’t manage to make it again until now. But I had a devil of a time dragging myself out today. Not good.

So. What Would Uber Kayak Woman Do? I’m not sure what UKW is doing this weekend. If she isn’t having to hit the books too hard, I will bet she was out playing the mbira until about 3 AM last night. And maybe having a little whine too. And I will also venture a guess that she was out skiing today. And I don’t mean shuffling around a groomed x-c trail with a few little wimpy hills on it like what we did today. UKW is a back country avalanche skiing kind of woman! We do some of the same categories of things but I cannot keep up with her in most of them! And that’s okay, I love her anyway! Being with her makes me push my safe little envelope just a bit further.

Anyhoo, I did drag myself out and although I wasn’t the quickest shuffler in the tracks today, the snow was pretty darn good and plentiful and the temperatures were nice and after about, I dunno, 13K of skiing or so, I felt pretty darn good. Which I wouldn’t have if I had let myself sit around eating bacon in front of my Macbook all day like I wanted to. But after skiing, I did feel okay about slugging around with my computer for the rest of the afternoon. Without bacon. Life is okay here in the great white north. There’s a fire in the fireplace and candles are lit and Prairie Home is on and I’ve had a second shower (because I can) and I’m doing a load of laundry (because I can) and the sunset was gorgeous and the GG cleaned out his email box. And snow-mos are going by on the ice in front of us. What’re y’all doing this weekend? I think Lizard Breath is going to the beach.

I know what a blasted railroad siding is, fer Kee-reist! Grrr.

Friday, February 15th, 2008

pixelatedpunk.jpgMan oh man, I had better get used to switching back and forth between Windows and Mac OS or I’m gonna start losing data…

Now, where was I? As so many of you figgered out, that NPR story on Valentine’s Day was indeed about our own beloved Community (Commie) High School here on the Planet Ann Arbor. I heard part of it but I had a little pre-HL errand at the liqwire store and missed the tail end. Priorities, y’know. But yes, that was our school and both of beach urchins were lucky enough to win the lottery to get to go there. The school is so popular that lottery has been decreed as the only fair way to decide who gets to attend. There are usually around 100 spots and two or three times that many kids apply. Lizard Breath was number 51 or thereabouts. That meant she was in like Flynn*. It was touch and go for a month or two with Mouse. Her lottery number put her at something like 16th on the wait list and so we had to go through the painful process of enrolling her at Pioneer and I’ll probably blahg about that whole experience someday but not today. Lottery winners do often decide to go to the comprehensives after all (“all my friends are going to Pioneer”, etc., remember, these are 8th graders) so wait-list kids do get in and, about a week after the end of 8th grade, we got the call that Mouse was in! I think I screamed loud enough to be heard downtown. I don’t remember but I’m sure Mouse was a bit calmer. But what a relief! It was one of those moments that I was glad I didn’t have any more kids. I didn’t want to have to go through that ever again. Three out of four of my friend Sari’s kids got to go to Commie. The fourth was second to *last* in the lottery. And Sari was on the school board! No perks, folks.

So, what’s so great about Commie? First I have to make a disclaimer here. It isn’t for every kid. There are plenty of kids who are very happy at the “comprehensives” (big schools) and do well. And the comprehensives are big here, I think both of them are well over 2000 students and we’re building a third. Don’t ask me about that. I’m a NIMBY. ‘nother story, ‘nother entry. A lot of people have a lot to say about Commie and why it’s so great. The freedom, the bonding, yada yada. I dunno. It is a school where you don’t get lost in the shuffle. If you aren’t a star football player or head cheerleader or taking college level rocket science classes in 9th grade or star of the school musical you don’t just fade into the woodwork at Commie. And that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a star football player or any of those other things and be a Commie student. Commie kids don’t have their own teams et al but they can play on PiHi or Huron teams et al. And come to think of it, it’s probably *easier* to be taking college level rocket science classes at Commie because the schedule is (arguably) more flexible. [Lots of complicated stuff here about mouse’s senior year and the two language classes and the on-line math class and several other classes and working at the yarn store and acting and directing and I forget what else. Knitting, I guess.]

Yeah, there’s forum, the home-room style class where kids purportedly stay with the same teacher and core group throughout high school (it’s multi-age so there are leavers and joiners every year). It’s a wonderful idea and I think it does actually work better at Commie than home room does at the comprehensives. It definitely works better than when I had Ot McNaught for homeroom back when *I* went to high school in the crappy old high school we had in Sault Ste. Siberia! But it isn’t perfect. Lizard Breath had what I can only describe as an odyssey through various forums. I remember being at a PTO meeting the year she was in Spain (college junior) and a Commie High freshman parent was fussing about whether her kid was getting a good “bonding” experience in forum. I spoke up a bit about Liz’s experiences and concluded with something about how good even a less than wonderful forum experience was for her and how it helped enable her to handle college life and living with a host family in Spain, yada yada.

And just because you have 13 holes in each of your ears and a few in other interesting places and color your hair pink or green or dark black and wear black lipstick or whatever doesn’t mean that you are a perfect fit for Commie. It is still school and you have to do your work.

Probably the best thing was that the kids learned to travel around the city. There was no cafeteria at the school. You either bagged a lunch (yeah, roight) or ate downtown. My kids and their friends were not wealthy and they learned where to eat for cheap! I loved Commie for my kids and I miss those days sometimes but after working all day and driving to HL, I’m running out of steam. It was a great place and I’m not in favor of the new school but I’m going to have to live near it anyway. I just hope it doesn’t spell the downfall of Commie High.

We *are* here at HL and it is spotless here and that can only mean that The Beautiful Gay was the last person here. I certainly never leave this place that clean. Love.

* Another very smart kid who managed to be cool too. No crush here either.

Sine and cosine and other randomness

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

dishmoom.jpgThere was a kid in my high school class who I admired* in general but will remember forever because of a trig assignment. He was one of those smart kids who can somehow manage to seem cool rather than geeky. I, on the other hand, always just managed to be awkward and geeky. Anyway, the assignment was to take a number of sine equations (did I say that right, all of you who haven’t forgotten math?) with various parameters and graph them to see what the various parameters did to the curve. I mean we had to graph them using graph paper and a pencil and maybe a ruler or something, not a graphing calculator. I had a great time doing that assignment, watching various coefficients do neat things to the curve. I loved my graphs. They were beautiful! Until I got to class the next day. This other kid had taken it up a notch. He made the same blasted sine curve on every graph and CHANGED the SCALE of the X and Y axes!!! WOW! Why didn’t *I* think of that?

My life these days often makes me feel like I’m riding a sine curve. I have a lot to learn at work. There’s the big picture and all the little bits. I have experience in most of the little bits but pulling them all together and making them fit into the big picture can be challenging. So some days, I go home thinking, “I know it all!!! Yay for me, I’m so smart!” and then there are the days I think, “I am so dumb. Why am I here? All these people have been here for a long time and they know everything.” Up and down. Up and down. Yesterday I felt like the class dunce. Today I was on an upswing. I’m sure I’ll go in there tomorrow wondering what the *heck* I was thinking of today. I’ll get it. I make progress every day. People there are so nice and polite. And there just always are those dunce days. No matter what you’re doing. Raising kids. Writing. Taking classes. Whatever. Up and down.

Like the Landfill refrigimatator. Maybe that’s cosine. Isn’t that a kind of reverse sine? Math people? Anyway, back to the refrigimatator. You know the one. It currently has six (or whatever) electrofragmathermoglobulators in it. I think there are three thermostats built into the refrigimatator, one for the freezer and two for the rest. And then there are the ones that Mr. Fix-it added in. The whole dern thing vacillates wildly on some kind of sine curve of its own. This morning the ice cubes in the freezer were water. For the last few weeks, everything in the crispers was frozen. Ever try to chop up a frozen potato? Not. Frozen lettuce? Onion? Grape tomato? You don’t wanna know. Now, I don’t know exactly when this whole thing will actually be *fixed*. I mean, it’s been “fixed” a few times and then there was this morning. I had to go to work. It’s winter and this is Michigan and it was well below freezing outside today, so I threw whatever I could fit into a Trader Joe’s refrigerated bag and stuck it outside the back door. Uh, it was in the refrigerated bag to keep it from the varmints, not to keep it cold. And I went to work. And I didn’t know *what* the state of the refrigimatator would be when I got home today. And so it goes. Some things just have to work reliably in our first world society. Vee-hickles, refrigimatators and various laundry processing machines are among them. Sigh.

Oh, and by the way, I received a really weird piece of snail mail tonight. I am not creeped out by it but I would sure like to know who sent it. It’s ads for making quick money in a newspaper type format stuffed into an envelope with a Long Island, NY postmark on it, no return address. It’s addressed to me using my informal name, which is mis-spelled, with a short post-it note message attached to the ad of which about all I can read is “Anne, you gotta”. I think the rest says something like “do this” or whatever. W-r-i-t-e s-l-o-w-l-y, I’m blonde, fer kee-reist. 1) I don’t know anyone in New York except for the Shermans and they would *not* send me this. 2) I often complain about financial stuff on here. Heck, we’re like everyone else who earn an HONEST living in this country. We aren’t rich! We are okay though and I am happy (usually) with my financial “status” (or whatever the heck you want to call it). I am a small-town banker’s daughter and, like he was, I am *very* skeptical about get-rich-quick schemes. Send that stuff to someone else. Or, hey, don’t send it to anyone!

*No, I didn’t have a crush on him. I had enough ridiculous romantic drama going on in high school, fer kee-reist! Not that I want to think about *that* right now, thankye veddy much!

We need s’more glahggers aroun’ here. Grok grok grok!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

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