I'm the horse-wrangler. Next year, we do not do the horsie! We managed to get all the way down the long block--to the Scary House (which scared her once again this year), then turned around and made our way back up the street. Not a lot of houses with lights on, but enough to get a little load of candy.
So Fussy is sponsoring NaBloPoMo--the bloggers' equivalent to NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. The idea: write a blog post every single day of the month. The reality? We shall see. I've been fairly good, but the problem is that sometimes I skip a few days and then post a whole slew of posts all on one day.
This is Jack. Say "Hi!" to Jack. ("Hi, Jack!")
OmegaMom wielded her trusty Sharpie to design Jack. With help, of course, from OmegaDotter. (OmegaDotter will have her own pumpkin next year, because she was very unhappy at not drawing a face herself this year.) Then OmegaDad wielded the Rusty Drywall Saw of Doom.
(I have a lovely video of dotter and dad, with dad going, "Mwahahaha!" Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to get the video into a format that Windows Video Maker likes, and I haven't played around with the other video editing software that we've downloaded. Bah.)
Then there was scoopage:
Ewwww! (OmegaDad did an extra spot with some scoopage dripping from his nose...boogers...OmegaMom was not amused. Much. Luckily, it was done so quickly that there is no photographic evidence.)
This evening, the dotter suggested that we put the wooly cat in the pumpkin...the immediate response was no. The secondary response...
There has been much discussion of costumes. We have an Ariel, a Cinderalla-type thing (Barbie, ugh), and last year's horsie costume. Ariel won out for the mom-screwed-up-the-ballet-costume-night-so-you-get-to-go-to-town-in-costume-with-Daddy Saturday event. Last year's horsie costume wins out for the official Trick-or-Treating.
(This means OmegaMom must dig it out of the closet where it got banished due to a ferocious tantrum a few weeks ago. Then it needs to be brushed, so we don't litter the streets of Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods with cat and dawg hair.)
Tomorrow at school is Pajama Day!!! Woohoo! Not that OmegaDotter has been excited or anything, oh, no. She's just been counting down the days, enumerating the day names until, "And then it's Tuesday! And that means..." ::squeal!:: "...Pajama Day!"
OmegaMom foolishly spent late last night clicking links from Miss Cellania's Halloween roundup...ghosts and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night, oh, yes. She resolutely exited the office into the darkened living room repeating to herself, "I am a rational, grown woman who does not believe in ghosts!"
Happy Halloween to all!
Read the amazing saga of Hill & Hill Literary Agency. A scam. A very involved scam (Writers Beware blog, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). Found via Miss Snark, anonymous literary agent extraordinaire.
Have any of my readers who have blogs on Blogger/Blogspot migrated their existing blogs to Blogger Beta? I've got the option now, would like some of the abilities on Beta, but am hesitant...
PostSecret has some sweet secrets, some scary secrets, some sad ones. Today there was one that made me stop, and think, and realize that my attitudes have changed. Or maybe, I think about some aspects of things much more than I used to (whadda surprise).
In the midst of the postcards, there was one that said simply, "two months after cheating on me, my boyfriend got an email from the girl he slept with--she wrote to tell him she was pregnant. i erased the email and he has NO idea."
Given the curlicues and embellishments of the writing, my supposition is that the writer of the postcard is about 16.
Aside from the fact that this is a really good illustration of the perils of sharing your email password with someone else...
Think about someone else for a change, why don'tcha?!
Your guy slept around. He knocked a girl up. She's pregnant.
I'm sure it's hard for you to do (obviously), but try to put yourself in her shoes.
You, too, could be pregnant.
You, too, could be pregnant and alone.
You, too, could be wondering why the schmuck who knocked you up hasn't bothered to answer your email.
You, too, could be trying desperately to figure out whether you should get an abortion or have the baby. (Maybe you all live in a state like South Dakota, in which case this is a moot point...)
You, too, could be trying desperately to figure out whether to raise the child yourself or to turn to adoption.
Your boyfriend needs to do a few things--like (a) learn to use a condom; (b) don't share his email password; (c) get checked for STDs; (d) call this other girl and find out what her status is; (e) help with expenses or provide a legal signature on a legal adoption if that's what he and the mother-to-be decide on.
This is, amazingly enough, not about you. Your boyfriend may have fathered a child. Your little interference in his email may mean he misses out on a lot of heartache and joys and responsibilities that entails.
Your boyfriend may find out all about this stuff when he gets served with paternity papers to support the child. GASP! YES! This can happen! Because lemme tell you, child--if your boyfriend happened to knock up my dotter, you betcha I'd be finding out who is the equal partner in this situation and making sure he took responsibility.
OmegaMom wanders off, growling and shaking her head.
You are The Emperor
Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person.
The Emperor is the great authority figure of the Tarot, so it represents fathers, father-figures and employers. There is a lot of aggression and violence too.
The Emperor naturally follows the Empress. Like an infant, he is filled with enthuiasm, energy, aggression. He is direct, guileless and all too often irresistible. Unfortunately, like a baby he can also be a tyrant. Impatient, demanding, controlling. In the best of circumstances, he signifies the leader that everyone wants to follow, sitting on a throne that indicates the solid foundation of an Empire he created, loves and rules with intelligence and enthusiasm. But that throne can also be a trap, a responsibility that has the Emperor feeling restless, bored and discontent.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
OmegaDad, when I told him I was "The Emperor", said, "I am 'The Common Vole'." Now I need to find a set of tarot cards with "The Common Vole" as one of the Major Arcana.
After Sunday's ice skating debacle, where we sashayed off to the rink to enjoy an hour or two of FUN! only to find (how dare they?!) a hockey game in process, I was nervous about having the same thing happen Wednesday night.
So as we drove to the rink after school/work, I kept slipping "if the rink is open" into my descriptions of the delight to come.
Mirabile dictu, the rink was open. We got out on the ice, and OmegaDotter was more daring, letting go of the wall and merely holding on to me (with a death-like grip) as we slowly skated around.
As we came along the back wall towards the row of orange construction cones that walled off the area where the lessons were going on, we were greeted by a vision of pink--a little slip of a girl, just the same size as the dotter, sporting a fuschia helmet over her pink sweat outfit, and skating (by herself!) all around the open ice.
"Oooooh!" quoth dotter. "Mommy, look at her! She's skating all by herself!"
I murmured some platitudes about how dotter, too, would be able to do that soon, and we skated on around. When we got to the doors to the rink (what are they called? I'm sure there's some special word for it...), dotter asked to rest, so we stopped. I glanced out to the non-rink area, where various parental types were standing around, and my glance swept over a woman who I was sure I recognized.
She came over to us with a great big smile.
OmegaDotter screeched happily, "Mommy! It's K's mom!"
Some backstory. K. and dotter were inseparable for a while at preschool; then, horror of horrors, K. moved on to kindergarten. OmegaDotter was devastated. Having K.'s mom's phone number, I kept meaning to make an arrangement to get the girls together, but life got in the way (aka: I kept forgetting).
K.'s mom pointed to the vision in pink: "That's K. over there!" The vision in pink skated over (all by herself!). OmegaDotter and K. fell all over themselves giggling and hugging each other and pushing each other and giggling and doing their trademark "So, so, SO!"* with their heads bobbing in unison and giggling and hugging...
Then, while I socialized, the dotter and K. were off on the ice together, and dotter, with K.'s example, did some skating all by herself! Woohoo!
It turns out K. is taking skating lessons there.
It just so happens that I've been thinking of having dotter take skating lessons there.
Now dotter is signed up, and has the Ultimate Joy of knowing she'll be skating with K. every week.
Ballet on Tuesday nights. Ice skating on Wednesday nights. I swear, swear, swear there is no intention of becoming One of Those Moms, who have kids who are scheduled out the wazoo with no time to just be kids.
But when you've got a Best Friend Forever who is doing something, something that you have been wanting to do anyway, and you're practically wriggling with delight at the thought of being able to do that thing with BFF...what's a mother to do?
When her parents wanted to go, K. was so overwhelmed with misery that she just hunched her shoulder at OmegaDotter as she clung to her father's legs, and wouldn't accept a hug. But she kept dashing back into the rink area to hug dotter, and dotter kept dashing out into the dressing area to tell K. something Very Important, and all ended well.
*The "So, so, SO!" is not an "Ah, so" kind of thing. Just sayin'.
Growing up in Chicago means you become accustomed to days on end of kind of dingy brown air. Those special days when the brown air cleared away and everything was outlined in sparkling light were greeted with happy sighs and delight.
If you grow up with this atmosphere, it seems "normal" to you. It wasn't until the OmegaParentalUnits moved to the Southwest and I took to visiting them that I realized that many places do not have that continual dingy brown blanket.
When the OmegaBro lived in Hemet, California, we would drive out west to visit on a semi-regular basis. We would drive through crystal clear desert landscapes, where the heat caused shimmering mirages over endless salt flats. Then we would come up to the mountains and start driving through them. As we got closer and closer to the L.A. metro area, we would see these sinuous snakes of dingy brown floating through the canyons, the smog of L.A. infiltrating outwards.
Typically, those brown tentacles of smog were low; they didn't pour over the mountaintops, but slithered below a certain altitude.
Similarly, when I would visit Chicago via airplane on sunny autumn days, as the plane approached the metro area, I would see a bowl of brown smothering the city...and as the plane made its descent, we would be plunged into the brownness.
The really bad days, like those autumn days in Chicago, are the result of inversion layers. In an inversion layer, rather than having the normal warmer-air-sits-on-the-ground-with-colder-air-above-it, you have colder air close to the ground, with a layer of warmer air acting like a lid above it.
In the autumn, Small Mountain University Town and Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods get inversion layers.
What happens then is that, when it rains, the night is filled with thick fog. If it's cold, and people fire up their wood stoves and fireplaces, the night is filled with thick smoke. I have had mornings when I woke up, peered out the back door, and seen grey smoke filling the air as far as I could see. The first year we lived here, I panicked a few times, thinking that there was a fire in HDEW. Before I knew about the fire monitoring websites I could visit, I actually called the local fire station (two blocks away) to timidly inquire where the fire was.
Then there's the added factor of prescribed burns. ("Prescribed burns" used to be called "controlled burns". Then there was the disastrous fire at Los Alamos, the result of a "controlled burn" that, alas, quickly became uncontrolled. [As an aside, my feeling is that any controlled burn that is started on a red flag warning day is a piece of total idiocy. There were rumors at the time, quickly hushed up, that it was the result of DC folks overruling the locals--I don't know if it's true, but, frankly, given that the locals know what red flag days are like, it seems mighty unlikely to me that gummint folk who had acted as forest rangers in that area for 20 years and more would be willing to actually proceed with the burn as scheduled.])
Autumn is peak prescribed burn season around here. The fuel wood is generally moist, so things won't spread. Usually, there's low wind, or no wind. Typically, it's cool. And, typically, these conditions produce an inversion layer overnight.
Which means that we drive into town through dense, thick smoke. Enough so that we have to close all the car windows and set the ventilation system to recirculate, rather than draw in outside air.
So. Smoke gets in your eyes. And your nose. And your lungs. And you start to sneeze. And cough. And your eyes water.
Thank heavens those inversion layers usually lift by mid-morning. The air clears, the smoke blows away, and we get our crystal-clear depthless blue sky back again.
I want to make other people laugh so hard they pee.
OmegaDad just called the sheriff on me.
I was sitting in the office, scanning blogs and thinking of drifting off to bed, when the Dawg began barking. This turned into the frenzied, growling, snarling bark that means "someone is on my porch and I am going to rip the jugular out of that intruder!" The Dawg is very handy as a burglar alarm this way.
I pad out into the living room, wondering why Jim (our neighbor down the street, sweet, learing disabled, and paranoid) might be calling on us this late at night. He likes to stop by and give us notice of the latest news about skulkers and intruders, or to just tell us, "I'm doin' alright, ma'am, so don't you worry about me!", or to ask advice about a treed porcupine, or, as he did a day ago, to drop off a little flashing light gizmo for OmegaDotter to take trick-or-treating.
A flashlight is sweeping back and forth from the porch. I sweep back the curtain from the doors and peer out. There's an official looking female person there. I open the door.
Official looking female person says, in a very firm voice, "Please hold that dog, ma'am!" I grab the Dawg's collar and tell him to sit, which he does, while growling, barking, slavering, and generally behaving like Cujo.
"Are you married to Mr. OmegaMom?" she asks, and my immediate thought is, "Oh Sweet Jesus, something's happened to him!"
Well, no. (Thank heavens.) Turns out he had been trying to call all night long, got worried, and rousted out officialdom to come check on me.
See, when OmegaDotter and I had returned home from the ice skating rink and dinner at the Pirate Captain's Mexican restaurant, and I was dealing with dotter demanding a movie, and Dawg demanding his welcome-home pig's ear, and I was trying to put things away, and the wooly kitten was getting underfoot and mewing, the phone rang, it was OmegaDad, and I was--at that point--ready to scream, so told him to please call back in 15 minutes.
Fifteen minutes passed...no call.
Half an hour passed...no call.
When forty-five minutes had passed, I picked up the phone to dial him up. And got...
One of the joys--or side effects--of living in Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods is that various utilities are somewhat unreliable. We have a locally owned small water company, and every once in a while, someone hits a water main or the power on the pump at the main well goes or (on hot summer days) everyone starts watering their lawns at once. The result is no water. (The previous owner, a miserly sort, was rumored to purchase repair equipment--such as pieces of water mains or Very Important Valves--second hand from other locally owned water companies, just to save money.) We have electricity that goes out every time it snows heavily, though it usually comes on again within a day. We just dig out the oil lanterns, fire up the wood stove, and snuggle up in the living room for the night. The electricity also goes out for an hour or two here and there; we're used to resetting all the electric clocks on a regular basis.
And we have, for some unknown reason, a phone line that goes kaput whenever there's a heavy rain. My suspicion is that the main line gets flooded and things just go haywire. A phone company repair truck is a permanent fixture at a particular spot on the main road out; OmegaDad and I have joked that they should just put a maintenance depot there and be done with it. Rumor has it that (someday) the phone company is planning to replace the main line into HDEW.
It rained extremely heavily late this afternoon.
Anyway, I informed the official looking female person that the phone was out, and she chuckled and said, wisely, "The rain?" Then she reassured me that she would contact the dispatcher and the dispatcher would contact OmegaDad, and all would be well.
Thus, my excitement for the night.
It sounds like I should be flexing my dorsal muscles, like a Ms. Olympia bodybuilding contestant
"Whoa! Did you see her?! Did you see the bulging capacitors on that woman?!"
Once again, though, we are not speaking of a human being here; we are speaking of my work computer. After a day of being carefully prodded, poked, replaced, and tested, the computer was waiting for me at my desk when I arrived. (It did, however, die the death twice while all this was going on...though S. assured me--assured me--that it was okay.)
I turned on the computer. Watched the Dell progress bar do its thang. Waited breathlessly for Windoze to boot up. And...
It did it again when I rebooted.
I had had it. I marched our student worker through the admin offices to a workstation that I knew was empty. I flourished a hand at the lonely computer, commanding, "Bring it to my office!", which she promptly did. I spent the day loading all my special programs and configurations onto the computer, and updating various programs.
When S. came in, he poked his head into my office. "I don't understand! It worked in my office!"
A Great Truth: programmers and software and hardware support people have variations of that as a motto. "It worked on my machine!"
So he hauled it back to his den of hardware, fiddled with it, and finally emerged to pronounce The Sentence of Doom: "It has bulging capacitors. The motherboard is shot."
The happy end result: a new computer is wending its way through the Dell factory, and should be on my desktop next Thursday, at which point I will spend another day loading all my programs onto it and updating things.
On the Bad Mommy front:
Last week at ballet class, the teachers had said, "Come in costume next week!"
Did I remember?
No, I did not.
We pulled into the parking lot and piled out of the Little Green Car. As we were walking up to the door of the dance school, I saw a little ballerina in a winter jacket and...a witch's hat.
My heart stopped. Ohmigawd. Costumes!!
We went in. OmegaDotter was confronted by cute little tutu'ed black cats...witches...bunnies...fairies...Jasmines...tigers...owls...
She shrank against me. "Moooooomy...." she whimpered. She slunk into the studio, the very picture of dejection. She pleaded a potty break, to get away from the costumes. I was able to get her back in, and she did enjoy the dancing. Luckily, there was one other little ballerina who was non-costumed.
Buuuut. Oooba-dooba, that was a true Bad Mommy Moment.
It was a perfect day; the sun was shining, the air was cool and crisp--what I like to call a "hot-fudge sun-day". The dotter behaved beautifully. Perhaps because we rented a swanky wagon, so that we wouldn't be pestered for "uppies"? A side benefit was the fact that OmegaDotter wanted to pull the wagon a lot, rather than just sit in it.
While I stood in line for the first pony station (right near the entrance, bad idea because everyone stopped there), OmegaDad and OmegaDotter checked out the tractors. Note the bare feet. This child's first action upon getting into the car or arriving home is to kick off her shoes. As a person who spent most of my childhood in bare feet, I sympathize. We insist when we're going into stores or restaurants or other people's houses, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do--in this case, "drive" a tractor barefoot. Some day she'll walk on broken glass (like her mom) and decide that shoes are Okay.
Soon enough, we decided that the first pony station was a Bad Idea, so we moved on. The folks who run a wild animal park were there, complete with critters which they were showing off. There was a gorgeous emerald and black boa, and this Argentinian lizard critter. The kids, of course, were entranced. Note the prevalence of pink.
The critter in close-up...it was truly quite grand:
We motored on:
Unpictured: yummy chicken barbecue sandwiches, rootbeer float with homemade ice cream, the pseudo-rollercoaster ride (a 10-person box on pneumatic lifts which jerked and bucked and twisted in time to a ride through a very sci-fi rollercoaster ride movie). Then we reached the best pony station, which had two sets of ponies going at once. Woohoo! I stood in line, OmegaGranny wandered off to take more pics for her blog, OmegaDad checked out something else, and the dotter waited. Patiently.
And then rode joyfully.
Then it was pumpkin patch time. OmegaDad and OmegaDotter scanning the (picked over) pumpkins:
OmegaMom (that would be me!) peering at a green ladybug with an intrigued dotter:
The dotter was enchanted with the multi-colored corn, so she had to collect some and then sit down and de-silk it. The silk ended up coming home with us, as it was "noodles".
The best pumpkins had already been picked, and hauled out to the edges of the patch, so we ended up getting a nice big one from there. Here's our li'l punkin and the big pumpkin:
Alas, this is the last year for that pumpkin patch; the folks who owned it were dealing with gummint folks on the issue of water, and also had lots of developers and folks waving money in their faces, so they ended up selling. The Omega family (and others) will have to find a new patch to play in for next year. In the meantime, the large pumpkin sits on our porch, awaiting mom's fine hand with the marker, the (OMG-it's-so-rusty-and-jaggedy-edged!) old drywall saw, and OmegaDad's adept sawing (which I do not watch, because the saw is so damned scary looking), and it will then be lit up at night and sitting on the old stump by the end of the porch to lure little trick-or-treaters up our driveway.
"When she was bad, she was horrid."
That's from "The Girl With the Curl in the Middle of her Forehead", which OmegaGranny used to tease me with when I was a little girl.
I'll bet you're thinking I'm speaking of OmegaDotter here, hunh? Hunh, hunh? Nope. (Though it does apply.) I am speaking of my work computer.
Removing the gig of memory (yes, it was a gig, not a meg, that was removed, durrrr) seemed to have fixed the issue. Alas. Alas, no.
This morning, I arrived bright & early at work, ready to dive right in. I reached down, turned on the computer, wiggled my mouse to turn the screen on, watched while it booted up...
And immediately got the BSOD.
Sighing, I turned the machine off, and turned it on again. Got the "The system has recovered from a serious error" message. Selected "Start Windows XP" from the list of options. The screen went *poof*.
I rebooted yet again. I selected "Windows Safe Mode with Networking". The screen went *poof*.
I tried "Windows Safe Mode" (no networking). *Poof*.
I tried "Last Known Good Configuration". *Poof*.
Each time I rebooted, the manufacturer's start up bar went slower...and slower...
So. The 'puter is in the hands of the hardware guys. Maybe it's the hard drive? Maybe it's the processor? Video processor? Who knows? Right now, our student worker is ghosting my machine--very appropriate for the Halloween season, eh? They're swapping out the hard drives. There's a possibility of a loaner computer.
In the meantime, I feel like a person with his dominant hand chopped off, workwise. Ghosting takes about four hours upstream, four hours down. It would take me that long to configure a loaner computer for my work--I have the Oracle client, I have special macros, I have data sources set up, I have shortcuts to all the servers so I can monitor important programs, I have SnagIt for screenshots and Adobe for making PDFs, and this and that and the other.
So here I sit at home.
Perhaps I'll get a new machine out of all this.
In the meantime, time to pull out my graphics programs and crop and web-size some pics.
I'm suffering from blogger's block again, even though I have things to write about. We went off to the Pumpkin Festival yesterday, so I have pics. The dotter was a joy & delight to be with. Today's try at ice skating was foiled because of a hockey game. I'm sure the hockey moms were greatly amused at my attempts to explain what was going on to the dotter; at first she thought it was a fight (amazingly enough, it wasn't).
Mainly, I'm just feeling pouty & down, and don't want to inflict it upon readers. I go away now.
Kimberly, at I Gallop On, talks about beauty. Speaking of "beauty", she always writes beautifully, and is worth a look-see. And she makes hilarious videos.
ChicagoMama takes a different look at the Madonna adoption, and a fascinating and deep discussion ensues. Apparently, the Madonna/Guy family did have a homestudy--or at least it was rumored for at least a year in the celebrity gossip media. However, I stand by my irritation and skepticism about the whole affair. Malawi has no established international adoption program. They had the homestudy done in the U.S., but took the child to the U.K. I have discussed ethical issues in international adoption before; I feel that this particular adoption was very influenced by money and notoriety. At the very least, it's a PR disaster from a woman who has proven to be very adept at PR in the past.
The "cloak of invisibility" that I discussed back when has had a proof of concept prototype done.
The BSOD problem appears to have been a conflict between two different types of memory chips. We removed (sob!) 1 MB of RAM, and suddenly all my problems have disappeared.
...need to show them this:
Those of us with sons need to, also. We are bombarded via popular culture with retouched, photobrushed, gaussian-blurred, made-up, touched-up fantasy women. Is it any wonder that men and women have strange ideas of what "beauty" is?
In 2002, Jamie Lee Curtis made a bold move, and had herself photographed "as is" and "as is after 3 hours of 13 people doing make-up work". Four years later, Dove has produced the above film, showing, in sequence, the steps required to make a fashion model into...well, the fashion model pictures we all see. The same need is there--to fight the illusion-makers, to give our young girls the knowledge and the strength to realize that what the media calls "beauty" is illusory.
I remember OmegaDad and I taking a bunch of nieces and nephews out hiking in the mountains of southwest Oklahoma. One niece was 15. Beautiful, charming, having fun, free and natural out hiking with us. Two years later, when we visited at Christmas time, the same niece was four inches taller, 15 pounds lighter, hair and face perfectly made up...and she was not as beautiful to us then as she had been before.
It is difficult, the fight to have young women realize that the "beauty" they see in magazines, in movies, on TV, is false.
There are people who buy into these notions wholeheartedly. Mothers who take their little three- and four-year-old daughters and doll them up and send them down pageant runways and off to glamor-shot sessions, then Photoshop the results until what the objective observer sees is a porcelain doll with all the character, the heart, airbrushed out.
Gods grant that OmegaDad and I can help OmegaDotter evade the traps, the lures to that impossible-to-achieve standard of what women should look like. I don't know what or how to do it; all I know is that my parents managed to do it with me, and I hope to pass it on.
(Of course, it is ironic that it is a "beauty" products company that is producing this campaign. One might even say "hypocritical". But Dove seems to be repositioning itself to become the "natural beauty" products company. We shall see; probably, says my cynical side, this is a passing phase.)
My work computer is ill, severely so. It began with an occasional simple blackout of the monitor. I'd be working away, creating queries, writing something up, composing an email, and *poof* the screen would go black. Moving the mouse would bring up a "No Signal In" message. This would require me to march over to my UPS, unplug the computer, replug it, return to my desk, turn the computer on, and strive to recreate the query, timeless prose, or goofy joke I was working on at the time.
Then it escalated into an occasional BSOD.
(For those who don't know, BSOD is the Blue Screen of Death.)
Then it started happening multiple times per day.
My computer was set to restart automatically after a BSOD. Even after I changed that setting, so that it's supposed to sit there with the blue screen staring at me, it continues to automatically restart. Thus, I don't even get a chance to see what exactly is going on when it BSODs.
We've swapped out the video card. We've swapped out the monitor. We've rolled back to the Windows version prior to Oct. 6 (Small Mountain University pushes forced Windows Updates through to all on-campus computers).
It blanked out and BSODed twice while I was manually updating the system.
This is what I want to do to that computer...
I grew up in Chicago, land of ice and snow and winds. (It's also the land of hot, muggy summers; cool, crisp falls; and lilacs and cafes and other stuff--but stay with me here.)
When you say "winter wonderland", surely the upper Midwest comes to mind, and with it, visions of sledding, ice skating, building igloos, snowball fights. To be sure, I did build igloos during recess at school, my buddies and I had snowball fights all the time, and I was hauled around on a sled by my parents during the Blizzard of '67, when we had to trek down the block to the little store to stock up on food.
But, in the midst of all that wintertime activity, I never did any ice skating.
So, when I went off to college at Northwestern University, not really knowing what I wanted to do there, I promptly took a few "fun" classes, things I had never done before...horseback riding, bowling, and ice skating. (I did also take German, Medieval French Literature, Slavic Literature, English Literature, and History, all with some vague idea of becoming a best-selling writer of historical romance novels.)
It was a short class, and I was dreadfully klutzy. But at least I learned the basics on how to move across the ice.
And, of course, during the 1984 Winter Olympics, Torvill and Dean became the skating sensation, and I discovered ice dancing. Ahhhhh. Not very much acrobatics (which are the Thing these days), but flawless, synchronized, romantic dancing.
From then on, I made sure to check out local ice skating rinks wherever I moved.
When we moved to Hippy Dippy Enclave in the Woods and I got a job at the IT department of Small Mountain University, it turned out that I was among like-minded people. A group of us--The Society of Geeky Gals--took to going to the local rink at 7 a.m. every other morning to get in our figure skating time. It was great. I got very firm & fit.
Then we became parents. I had dreams, I tell ya! Dreams! I was going to take the dotter hiking, and skating, and doing this and doing that.
Last year, I took OmegaDotter to the local ice skating rink for the first time. It was, alas, not to her taste. We rented skates for her, and we sat in the bleachers watching everyone skate for about 15 or 20 minutes, with the Dotter saying, "I don't waaaant to" multiple times. So I chalked it up to a failed experiment, resolved to wait a year, and we left.
Sunday, on a whim, I took her to the rink again. We rented skates for her. She didn't want to go on the ice, so I told her she should at least put on the skates and try walking in them for a while.
She put on the skates. I put on mine. She said, "I want to go there!", pointing to where everyone was skating. We went out on the ice. She clung to the wall. We crept forward a bit. She wanted to go back out. We went back out. A few minutes later, she wanted to go back in.
We did this multiple times.
By the end of the session, she made her way all the way around the rink (still holding onto the wall and onto me, but still...).
We're going again Wednesday night.
Dawn, over at This Woman's Work, talks about the scenes in movies that make her cry.
I have a couple. But then, of course, I'm the kind of person who cries at commercials, so it's not hard to make me cry at movies.
The one that really, really gets me, is in Fly Away Home. It's at the end, where the girl is leading the geese across the marshes in (Maryland?), and the song "10,000 Miles" by Mary Chapin Carpenter is playing. I just sit there and tears stream down my face and turn into a puddle. Why? I don't know. It just gets me by the heartstrings.
Another one is one Dawn mentioned, the scene in Toy Story 2 where Jessie the cowgirl is singing "When She Loved Me" (actually sung by Sarah MacLachlan)...at the end, Jessie (in memory) snuggles down happy and snug in her girl's purse (her girl is all grown up by now)...only to be left in a box by the Goodwill truck. Ack!
A third one is the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy is saying goodbye to everyone. She says, "And you, Scarecrow. I think I'll miss you most of all." Sniff! (Though, when I was googling that phrase, I found someone who thought that saying that in front of Cowardly Lion and Tin Man was just too, too hurtful to them...which I had never thought of. I also found some mention of a "creepy subplot" that was cut from the film, which "explains" that line. Um. I always thought it was because Scarecrow was the first friend she found in Oz, and she just loved him a lot.)
There are books and songs that do the same thing. The first time I read "I Love You Like Crazy Cakes" out loud to OmegaDotter (she was an itty bitty thing then), I had to stop because I was bawling. There's The Circle Game, by Joni Mitchell, which I used to sing to OmegaDotter as one of a suite of lullabies when she was a baby. There's Nanci Griffith's "Turn Around", which I wrote about previously. And I remember being an early twenty-something getting drunk with some work buddies, and all of us sobbing at Linda Ronstadt songs; "Someone To Lay Down Beside Me" (which should be "Lie Down Beside Me", but, hey, I was twenty-something and into angst and not grammar) always got me.
So how about you?
People who adopt are regularly accused of "buying a baby".
Find yourself a small, extremely poor African country.
Offer that country millions of dollars to start an orphanage.
Mention that, oh, by the way, you'd like to adopt.
Watch the country trot out 12 likely candidates for you, and fall all over itself ignoring its own laws requiring out-of-country couples seeking to adopt to reside there for a year before applying.
Today, I went on an errand run to Sam's Club.
This past Saturday, OmegaDad and the dotter had gone shopping there, and come back raving about some playhouse doohickey that was out front. I'm afraid I didn't really pay attention then, and it totally faded from my mind.
But there, outside Sam's Club, I saw it.
So I had to go take a peek.
Picture this: A 10x10 solid wooden playhouse, rustic looking on the outside, but oh-so-luxurious on the inside. A loft. (Yes! Really! A loft!) An itty bitty kitchen with a stainless-steel microwave, a stainless-steel mini-fridge, and granite countertop. (Yes! Really! Granite!) A big-screen TV. (Yes! Really! A big-screen TV!) Built-in window seat next to the kitchen. Cubbies galore. Electricity. Plumbing. This thing is swanky, I'm tellin' ya.
It's a "dream playhouse" for kids, a benefit lottery ($25 per ticket) for...um...I can't remember the charity. Um. I'm a bad, bad person. These types of raffles are all the rage, an offshoot, I would guess, of the McMansion generation's view of houses. Gone is the playhouse of yesteryore, essentially a big wooden box with windows cut out. Nope, it's swank city these days. And they can bring in big bucks, too--one that I checked out while searching for pics of this particular playhouse raised $100,000. (No pics. Sigh.)
Okay. The idea, of course, is to have it put in your backyard for the kids to play in.
The thought did cross my mind. I thought OmegaDotter would really like to have it.
But...but...wail!...I want it for myself. All to myself!
It is so cute. It is so cozy. I could have a room...all to myself. Mine. With my stuff in it. I could retreat to it when things got too crazy. I could curl up on the window seat, drape a comfy blankie over myself, heat up some yummy leftovers, turn on the tube and be alone. I could listen to music I like, cranked up full blast. I could stare out the (double-paned Anderson) windows and daydream.
I could do it for an entire day. Sleep upstairs in the loft. Putter around in the playhouse. One playhouse I found in my (fruitless) search for pics was also wired for high-speed internet; of course, I would do the same with mine. If I won it. If I purchased the tickets.
An entire day alone in my little playhouse. Ahhhh.
Then reality sets in. Nope, it wouldn't be mine. Nosirree, not bloody likely; it would belong to OmegaDotter and her friends, and I would probably never be allowed in except to clean house. So, the obvious answer is...two of these playhouses.
The dotter came bouncing home from ballet class (OmegaDad took her), and whirled into me, asking, "Mommy! Mommy! Can I wear one of your pretty dresses?!"
So, here she is, all dressed up.
Allerca, a biotech company in California, announced in 2004 that it was going to try to develop a hypoallergenic cat via direct genetic modification; they were going to try to edit out the feline gene that fills cat saliva with a protein that causes cat allergies.
Lo and behold, while they were doing testing, they discovered that there was a certain population of cats who had a modified version of that gene--and their saliva/glands didn't produce the Dread Allergy Protein.
They have a sekrit location where they have stashed all the cats they have tested for this modified gene. They are breeding the cats like...well...rabbits. They plan to sell these hypoallergenic cats for (gasp!) $4,000 each.
My first response to the price was the aforementioned "GASP!", but then I read on and found out that people with severe allergies can pay up to $4,000 to $6,000 per year on shots to keep their allergies under control. (Yes, you can just not keep cats, too. But, hey, some of us are cat lovers, y'know?)
The cats go on sale next year.
In other allergy news, MSNBC reports that a series of six shots may suspend hay fever for years. Not ready for primetime yet, but still...
I myself have certain allergies, mostly to dust and mites and particular pollens (like pine tree pollen, and the pollen of one of many golden flowers that blooms here in the autumn [I don't know which one]). And I know that certain cats must have duplicate Dread Allergy Protein Genes, because of my tale of Charlie, my parents' beloved (and loving) cat, who drooled copiously and toxically. I get regular sinus infections, and suspect my bad housekeeping habits (in other words, if I'm allergic to dust...um...maybe I should vacuum more often??). But my travails with allergies pale beside those of others.
I toss these articles out as a beacon of hope for you.
This year, we did not have snow on the peaks by September 15 (some years we do). But this Sunday, while we were driving around in an abortive attempt to find a nice big grove of yellow-leafed aspens, we drove into an area of snain--rain mixed with snow. You couldn't really tell, except that some of the splats hitting the windshield were making star shapes, rather than circular blobs that instantly turned into water trails.
It rained on and off all night, down here.
This morning, when the clouds finally drifted away from the top of the peaks--just for a few moments--there it was: gleaming fresh snow, from the top to a quarter of the way down.
(Lest anyone think that the Omega household has a view, I have to say we are stashed amongst lots of pine trees and don't have a view at all. There are times when I yearn for the view we had from the dining area doors at the house we rented in Lonesome Valley, nine years ago--a wide expanse that swept to the north and east from our house, up to Mongoose Mountain. The play of light and shadow that danced across those broad rolling foothills was soothing balm to the soul. That view is gone now, for that house and its neighbors, because LV has grown and grown and grown, creeping ever outwards. That house now has a view of lots of other little boxy duplexes and small houses; no more antelope playing in the fields.)
During the day a chill wind blew. Clouds darted across the sky. The weather service called for "numerous" thunderstorms, but when you looked at the looming grey clouds, you didn't see rain coming down, but snow. Rain falling tends to be deep dark grey; snow, by virtue of being white and reflecting the scattered sunlight, shows up as veils of whiteness drifting down from the clouds.
Of course none of it stuck this "low". But it's a sign of things to come. Perhaps next Sunday we'll try a different route, avoiding all the traffic (argh!) and finding some fine aspen stands. Hopefully, the rain, snow, and wind will not have stripped the trees of their finery by then.
What great timing for Foley to be exposed as a dirty old man who toys with boy pages.
Well, hell, sex sells, doesn't it?
Habeas Corpus, however, is so, so "Latin"-sounding. It's so difficult for folks to wrap their minds around latin stuff. Hey, it's been around 900 years--must be old and out of date, dontcha think? Time to get rid of that decrepit old leftover from the Magna Carta, anyway.
I just find it very interesting that the Foley scandal broke at the same time that Congress and the Senate voted for the Terrorist Suspect Detainee Act. (Don't you feel safe, now that the president can decide who is a terrorist suspect and officially have that person detained in secret and hold him/her without trial? Hey! You might be labeled a "terrorist suspect"! You might be imprisoned in secret and held without trial! But, don't you worry. I'm sure you're just fine--You haven't done anything wrong that might make someone think you're a terrorist, so you're safe. Right? Right?)
So, anyway, the mainstream press is all over the Foley story. The latest story I found on it was 8 minutes old; there were 21,000+ stories in Google's news search--like I said, sex sells. The number of stories on the detainee act? 1,630.
Analysis I've read indicates that some of the Democrats who voted for the act did so because they're up for re-election, and they feared being tarred with the "easy on terrorism" brush. Um. Great. Score one for marketing, -100 for the Constitution.
Yeah, I'm a mom. Yeah, I don't want congresscritters toying with my dotter if she decides to become a junior wonkette. Yeah, I think Foley is a sad, sad mixed up man--otherwise, why would he be one of the driving forces behind the internet child protection laws?
But I feel like there's a certain amount of misdirected energy at play here.
Our little local FCC (Families With Children From China) group is flourishing. We managed to get enough money from our two garage sales to sponsor a child for cleft palate surgery through Love Without Boundaries. Our little email list is growing, and people are chatting. We've had some fun picnics and gatherings.
Today was the eighth full moon since the beginning of the Chinese year. This is the date of the Autumn Moon Festival, a very important holiday for the Chinese, akin, in many ways, to our American Thanksgiving. So we all got together for a roughly organized "do", and I have to say, it was grand fun.
Someone made homemade dumplings--which were awesome. Homemade egg rolls, homemade fried stuffed wonton. Someone else made two kinds of mooncakes--yum! Not traditional--no lotus seed paste--but one set had dates and nuts and coconut and almond paste; the other set had blueberry jam as the filling. Most of the kids nibbled on them, but were kind of, "Eh." I, on the other hand, had three.
Then we gathered all the kids, and the fun and games began.
First, I told the story of Chang-Er/Chang-E/O-Chang, the beautiful Moon Lady. I had a leg up on this, because, when we were at China Heritage Camp and OmegaDad and I had to volunteer, my stint was telling the Same. Story. Over. And. Over. Again...to various troops of kids. I had snagged one set of the puppet drawings, so we had those to copy and hand out to the kids.
Then we played "Pin The Tail On the Bunny in the Moon". (The Empress of the Universe, taking pity on Chang-Er for her lonely imprisonment on the moon, sent her a rabbit to keep her company, and use a mortar and pestle to concoct all sorts of potions for her.) The kids--from age 20 months to age, oh, 11--had a ball. OmegaDad had cobbled together a big poster of a pink bunny on the moon, using a moon picture from NASA and a clip-art bunny from M$ Word. We made little pink paper cloud cutouts for each kid to write their name and try to "pin" (okay, tape) to the bunny.
Then we handed out goodie boxes, with crayons, stickers, paper ribbon dance ribbons, little fans, and little Chinese drums.
Alas, the Omega Family had to ditch the celebration fairly early (8:30), because we recognized the oh-so-familiar signs of the dotter getting tired and cranky. But, as we left, we were graced with the most beautiful, brilliant, full moon sparkling overhead--a delightful gift, as it has been cloudy and rainy all day.
Happy Moon Festival to all!
Yesterday, I prepped the dotter for the assessment this morning. I told her we were going to go play with Miss Louise, and that Miss Louise might be able to help her calm down from her tantrums.
Then, at bedtime, I repeated it.
Then, this morning, I repeated it.
Repitition, with 4-year-olds, is a Good Thing.
Miss Louise was awesome. I have only seen an equivalent performance once, with a veterinarian we had when Dawg was a pup. This veterinarian sat on the floor with our pup and loved on him and played with him for half an hour. In the process, our pup had his initial physical examination. Without pup even noticing.
Miss Louise did the same thing with OmegaDotter. They played with toys. They played with magnets. They played with beaded necklaces. They colored together. Miss Louise got OmegaDotter up onto a platform swing. Miss Louise got OmegaDotter to play on a big balance ball. And on and on.
When we started out, I watched and said to myself, "Oh, lordy, Miss Louise is gonna tell me I'm full of it--there's nothing going on there!"
But. But. After a while, it was obvious. One technique is to drape the beaded necklaces over the kid's back and lightly rub them against the skin--OmegaDotter immediately said, "Ow!" So Miss Louise playfully tried them on her own head, then tried them on OmegaDotter. And, once again, OmegaDotter immediately said, "Ow!" Same with the arms, the legs. This is similar to how she behaves with us when coming out of a tantrum--she can't be touched for a while, until she calms down a bit.
Then there is the tendency to sit "W-style". OmegaDotter does this by preference all the time. I didn't realize, but it's apparently a no-no, because it discourages developing certain proprioceptive movement abilities, because it's such a stable sitting position you don't need to learn balance, coordination, or how to reach across your body with a hand to the other side.
There was thumping. There was banging. (Gentle, but firm.) All of which OmegaDotter loved. I asked dotter, "Can you tell Miss Louise how you act when Mommy or Daddy comes to school to get you?" Dotter was nonplussed, but Miss Louise immediately said, "Dotter, do you go crashing into Mommy and Daddy because you're so glad to see them?" (Oh, yes. Crashing, banging, thumping--these are the dotter's favorite way to greet and show love. I am constantly urging her to "be gentle!")
Then there was brushing her arms and legs with a very soft-bristle surgery brush. Once again, the dotter loved this.
There was the simple question, "How does she handle medicine--cold medicines, stuff like that?" Haw haw haw. I think I've blogged on this issue before. Let me just say that it is a horrible scene trying to get the dotter to take medicine of any kind.
So. The end result is that Miss Louise will present me with a report, talk it over with me, send the report to our pediatrician, and we will (no doubt) be going many more times.
"She's doing so well because she's so very smart and finding ways to compensate!" Har. Appeal to the ol' mom pride and joy instinct, eh?
Some folks think sensory integration therapy is bunk, or a simple result of the placebo effect. However, there are a lot of folks who think many children adopted from orphanages are likely to have sensory issues, due to the lack of stimulation and lack of one-on-one touching/caring/giving that being one of many being cared for by too few that happens in institutional settings. Even in the best of cases, you're likely to have four women taking care of twenty kids, all day, every day. When the dotter came home with us, she needed constant attention. It was obvious she was starving for it.
I want to be taught to deal with children the way Miss Louise does. Man, is she good!
The overall thing is that dotter is physically craving and seeking stuff that helps her cope with the world. Thus, the crashing, banging etc. And there are times that it all overwhelms her. Thus, the tantrums, the need to do the foot thing at night, the absolute struggle to get her to take medicines.
No star Monday morning. A star Tuesday. A star Wednesday!
Sunday night was bad. I called the pediatrician Monday. After a discussion, she recommended an occupational therapist to look at sensory issues.
Whadda surprise. (Not really.) So off we trek tomorrow morning so Dotter can "play" with the therapist. Covered by insurance (yay!).
Our "Year of the Visitors" continues; I had thought that the end of summer would bring an end to visitors. Hah. MIL #2, a lovely woman (MIL #1 is also a lovely woman), called Monday night. Think southern accent: "Oh, hi, Kate! We were planning to go visit some friends (insert long discussion about friends here) in Palm Desert, so we thought we'd stop over the weekend to see y'all!" "The weekend" means this weekend. Urk! So OmegaDad is taking Friday off to clean house. And then they're going to stay the weekend on the way back.
We have the Autumn Moon Festival on Friday, visitors this weekend, the first of my Society of Geeky Gal plays to attend next Friday, a birthday party the next day, then the visitors again the weekend after that...then...?
Looking over my blog-hits-via-searches, I found this--"What is the name of a guy who blew the longest strand of spaghetti out of his nose? And how long was the strand?"--in amongst the "boy made to wear girly dress", "grandma attic parties", "old grandma costumes", and "MY AUNT DIAPERED ME" searches.
Some people are really weird.
Homesick Home, saying she missed Tokyo, recently posted about an article in the NY Times, "Memo to Nannies: No Juice Boxes." Apparently, in the world of being able to afford nannies, food has become a hot-button issue. The article cites mothers who require the nanny to cook from-scratch meals, fill out eating logs (?!), use only organic products, etc. Horror of horrors! one mother found that the nanny was sneaking candies to the children on their trips to the store.
I am afraid I would stink as a nanny.
I confess: I, personally, am quite willing to allow the dotter to have a treat now and then.
I hear the gasps from the assembled audience. "Boo!" "Hiss!" "BAD mommy!"
I have fed my child hotdogs. Breakfast is often solved by breaking open a package of ramen noodles. Chocolate-chip cookies are allowed in small doses, especially when home-made. I am even striving to nurture a liking for dark chocolate candies...when I get a box of truffles from Mr. OmegaMom, I have been known to share them with the Dotter. We even--shoot us now!--get fast food and pizza on a semi-regular basis.
OmegaDad would fail miserably as a nanny, and be chased by an angry mob of yuppie moms throwing stones at him, if he weren't just tarred, feathered, and placed in the village square as an object lesson to others.
I will confess it would be much easier for me to deal with a nanny (hired help) who didn't follow my nutrition desires than it is to deal with OmegaDad.
Where I am not uptight about junk food, OmegaDad is in love with it. He never met a junk food he didn't like. So, rather than laying down the law with the nanny, I have to constantly badger and "remind" OmegaDad that Bug Juice and Pringles purchased at the convenience store on the way home from school is a Bad Idea.
But the obsessiveness portrayed in the article is beyond me. What you make forbidden, in my experience, becomes oh-so-desirable. Raise a child on only organic whole-wheat, and when that child becomes a college student, watch out! It will be Hostess Ho-Hos for dinner every night!
In general, our approach is to provide fruits and veggies on a regular basis, curtail the eating of junk an hour to an hour-and-a-half prior to dinner time, and have a balanced dinner every night. This leads to whining, but, hey, that's life, kiddo.
Sticker score card: No star yesterday. Not bloody likely. A star this morning. Woohoo!