Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Year!

Ten days ago I started writing an entry. Time flies when you're completely distracted and there is nothing interesting happening in your life. A few key things went down this week, and you poor bastards deserve some sort of sasquatch sighting of me. So here it is.

Last week there was a chimney sweep in my house. I was disappointed that he did not speak in a Cockney accent and sing "Chim chim cheroooooo." He also was lacking a small boy with which to send down into the top of the woodstove pipe to scrub it "clean as a whistle, sharp as a thistle" with a huge pipe cleaner bristley thingie.

And he did not have a top-hat. What is this world coming to?

Today is Leap Year. Doug states that four years ago today on the last leap we went Geocaching in New Hampshire. Sadly I have no recollection of that so I have to go back here in the journal and see if I have an entry about it... I'm amazed at how he remembers stuff like that but totally forgets other things; as equally as I am amazed at the things I remember and forget.

Actually, come to ponder it, I think that the 2004 leap year was when I was writing on Journalspace, so I don't know if I even have a record of it right now. I don't think I've finished that section of the archives here, which reminds me that I need to get back to completing the archives.

Today is Jess' friend Frazier's birthday. I think he is ... four. Heh.

Survivor NightGeoff had "Survivor Night" at school this week.

Over the past few weeks the kids have been working on simple machines science concepts in school and this night was the culmination of their work.

He had been teamed up with two boys who live near us. They did the bulk of their work at school but did have one day when they had to work together outside of school during vacation week. The idea was to take the concepts of simple machines, and make a kind of Survivor themed island with a course of challenges where people had to then take these concepts of simple machines and build items to get through the Survivor challenges.

The two boys he was paired with are very handy and creative. Geoff did the typing and wrote the Taco Island Theme Song (yes, they were Survivor: Taco Island).

So if he gets an A on it, it is all thanks to the other two boys because in the end he was kind of Bobby Hill about it, but everyone around him seems to think he was really funny and creative. They had to present their course to people who walked up to them, so the other two boys described the six challenges and Geoff sang the theme song. He didn't walk anyone through any of the challenges, so I honestly have no idea if he learned anything...

He did, however, tell me that he will always remember W=FxD. Work equals Force times Distance.

Which means that yeah, maybe he took something away from it other than the theme song. Which he plays on his guitar every day.

Speaking of guitar, his lessons are going rather well. When he practices, he now is moving from chord to chord to chord, and it sounds like a song.

He makes up words, and plays all kinds of randomness. The other day it sounded like he was playing the beginning of "Satellite" by Guster. Which would be cool.

The one thing I don't like is that it is the FIRST thing he does every day... and that kid wakes up at 6am.

The kids had school vacation last week and I ate a vacation day spread over two days. Jess had a project for her German class where they were making a movie, so she had to go to other kids' houses and film a movie. It took four days for them to do (all day days) and they were under pressure of a deadline because two of the kids were going away for part of the vacation week. She got to write the script and kind of direct it, as well as play one of the characters. She was enthusiastic about it and full of stories every day that I picked her up. I guess it was a lot of fun. I have yet to see the finished product though...

Geoff had a birthday party at the end of the week, in a snowstorm. I left work to take him to it and had to call the mom in charge and ask her to go grab him so he wouldn't miss the party. It was at a laser tag place that just opened nearby, and when I got there I got to play too. It was a ton of fun. I think I should play laser tag every day.

Especially when I get to shoot these particular kids.

On the way to work yesterday I ran out of gas. Not in the metaphorical/spiritual way, like "I don't have the energy to do this today" kind of thing.


I literally ran out of gas. Or, I should say my car literally ran out of gas. How does this happen when you are 41 years old and Should Know Better™? I wonder the same thing.

I got in the car yesterday morning and my "your running out of gas" light was on, which comes on when the car has about 60 miles left of gas in it. The little display hickey told me I had 30 miles until I was truly out of gas.


That is usually just a suggestion. You can usually get another 10 after it goes to the zero mark. I figured, eh... I'll get gas on the way home. I have plenty to get me to the office, get me back to Swampscott to the gas station.

I just wanted to get to work. This week has been chaotic, that morning had been chaos. The bus was 10 minutes late because we got 3 inches of unexpected snow overnight, and I just didn't want to have to get out and deal with getting the gas... feh.

So there I was. It told me I have 0 miles when I crossed into Marblehead. I should have had ... at least 10 on the display, but it went from 30 to 0 rather fast. I was kind of nervous, because Marblehead has no gas stations in the entire town (it is true. Not a single one. No gas stations. They all went out of business).

I was at the point of no return. I was in front of my coworker's house about a mile from the office when the car stalled. I had just enough forward momentum going to coast into her driveway and float to the bottom.

Car dead. Car has no gas. "Green car needs food badly!" it moaned at me when I tried to start back up.

Oh well. At least I had made it into MB's driveway! I called the office, she came and got me.

I win at life, don't I?

On top of the running out of gas mess, I had kind of a "how many things can you possibly screw up today?" kind of day.

Yesterday was the kind of day when you think to yourself that it would probably just be best for you and the entire human race if you turn around, go home, get back in bed.

The problem with that is that if you actually DID do that, your house would inexplicably fall down around you and you'll be killed. So it is best to stay out in the world and fight the battles needed to get through the stupidest day ever.

It was an enormous relief to get home, eat dinner, get into jammies and watch Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain and Michael Palin programs on my Tivo.

Today it is about negative a million outside ( that translates to 10 degrees in meteorological terms. Not hyperbolic terms).

Our French toast alert is at Elevated right now... We are expecting about 6 inches of snow tonight. Winter is not yet over in Northeastern MA, whereas some of you are progressing to spring already. I'm done with winter usually in about two weeks. I'm ready for spring. We've already taken the dogs to Salisbury Beach twice, on two rather unseasonably nicer days... and I'm ready to be able to do that a lot more, soon.

Well. On that note, Geoff is off to the bus, I'm off to work. Hopefully today won't be too full of the stupid.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Liberry? I has it.

Alright. So thanks to several suggestions, I got the iTunes thing ironed out. Right now I'm listening to They Might Be Giants, doing their Alphabet of Nations, and a wicked awesome cover of the Allman Brothers Band's "Jessica." With accordions and bari-sax. That's hot.

iTunes LiberryNot only does it now believe me that all my music is out on the external drive, it let me buy things and downloaded them to the external drive, and as you can see here from the picture... it believes I have playlists. Special thanks to everyone who gave either advice or empathy. Both were well needed. I feel whole again. I feel like I accomplished something. And I especially want to thank Mr. N for calling with his guidance. Everything he said made sense, and it was exactly what I did, and now... ta-daaaa! So thank you, Mr. Neutron. You helped save the day. Indeed. (Heh. a 20 year old inside joke gets play on the journal. Will wonders never cease?)

My question now is, for you super geniuses out there... I have two folders with a dat and xml file in each. Which copies do I delete? I'm thinking the ones in the external are the ones that I delete, because I brought those over to the C drive to restore the recognition... but I don't want to mess it all up again. Does it harm/hurt/destroy anything to just leave the copies there in the other place and just say "fuggedaboudit?"

Do tell. Either way, I can now listen to TMBG ABC! and rock out to "E eats Everything." Yes. Yes I can.

In other news, I had to eat half a vacation day today because my daughter needed to go to a friend's house to work on a project. As I've mentioned, we live in a regional school district. Her friend lives like 10 miles away, two towns over, on the other side of the Merrimack River. Hardly walking distance, on any day ... not to mention on a 35 degree day.

I never ever thought I'd say this, but I'm looking forward to the day when Jess will be able to drive herself places.

Which, frighteningly enough, will be soon. Once she turns 16 she can take driver's ed. I don't know how they do it here in Massachusetts, but I do believe they are required to take classes from "professional" driver ed schools. Doug and I can't just teach her and she goes and takes her test. Which is how I think it should be, but in Massachusetts they like to make it cost you, big time.

I constantly see these cars from driving schools all over the place, and for years I never remembered seeing any with kids in them... just older ladies who need to get their licenses now.

I don't even think the schools offer it anymore (anyone with knowledge of how this works in MA, feel free to edumacate me).

My guess is she'll have to take classes there and do stuff with some doughnut-eating jerk teaching her, instead of her dad with mad driving skills. He'd take her to a big parking lot and say "This is how you do donuts in the wicked snow, and this is how you floor it to avoid the cops. Don't forget, when you whip into some stranger's driveway, hide on the other side of the big minivan and turn the lights off and DUCK DOWN IMMEDIATELY."

Not that we've ever had to do that. Forget I told you that.

Anyway. So someday soon, probably within a year, the girl will be a licensed menace, erm, driver... and that will open the next can of worms of "what car will she drive."

Good lord... I don't even want to start thinking about that.

And on that note... I'm off to bed. With my happy iTunes liberry, and my happy ears. And my nightmares about driving teenagers.

Ooooh! Speaking of nightmares -- I've been watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles, you know, the new Terminator thingy. And while I scoffed initially "oh please, why would anyone want to watch THIS!" I've been watching and enjoying and loving it. And last night had my first really really bad dream about terminator dudes and their scary assed glowing red eyeballs. It only took like 5 episodes. And now I'm petrified.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Website Design Mistakes...

There has not been an update from me, mostly because when I'm in this seat I'm busy doing updates to the Rebel website. Last summer I volunteered to redo the site and maintain it and update it and stalk, harass and hunt down alumni for updates and information because Keri is awfully busy. She agreed and we put the thoughts to bed until after the turn of the year here. A few weeks ago, I started redoing the layout and getting content put together and having her review things in a preview section of her site. We've been taking our time, gathering the info, refining, discussing... doing the site slowly.

This morning found me about 90% done with the core content. I got up at 10, scared up some coffee, checked my blogs, did some reading, sent some mail, played some Scrabulous, and then I made some changes to the pages. I uploaded what I'd done to the preview section... only it wasn't the preview section. It was the main site. In essence, I copied over the old alumni, index and schedule pages, and found I didn't have a backup of the old look and feel.

Uh. Ooops. Okay. Cardinal rule number one -- always have a backup of the old site. Duh?


So after trying to restore what used to be there, I figured it was God's way of telling me to go ahead and push the site, and finish what was undone NOW. From 11am to 4pm I was a website whirling dervish, cropping photos, writing, copying, moving stuff around. Jeeesh. I sent emails, got more content from the alumni who had agreed to give me updates, and notified Keri that I needed her to bless what was done. She hopped on and read and proof-read and critique and revised, emailing me in bursts and spurts. Alumni updates started rolling in... more cutting and pasting. Editing. Whipping stuff up, moving stuff around.

It all sounds so exciting, doesn't it?

I would say the site is still 90% done, and it isn't what I would have pushed, especially the alumni pages... seeing as I need to do a bunch of graphics stuff for each individual i page so they all have a side curtain with their old Rebel pictures. Keri has those photos. Unless they are in one of the two boxes of photos I have here.

If you'd like to see the new design, layout, and overall coolness of it all (and wouldn't mind pointing out misspellings and errors and the like) do click here. Feedback is appreciated. I like the page, I like how it looks. It has pretty pictures, and if theatre is anything... it is visual. Large, face-focused photos really make it pop for me. And I am having fun doing it. I also had a blast talking to alumni and getting their feedback. I can't wait to get their photos done on their individual pages so each one looks like Darcy Fowler's (go to the alumni page and click on her name).

Good times.

So, with all this work I've been doing on that, I haven't really had a minute to do... this. And that is really rather okay because there hasn't been anything really interesting to blog about and I so hate boring the crap out of you.

The major updates are limited. Craig is doing well after his surgery. Thank you again for caring and asking and praying for him. Work is work, the commute is still the suck. But the weather has been kind lately so the ride is back to just boring and not boring and snowy.

We've rifled through almost another whole cord of wood, which makes me worried. I wanted to just have two this year but we may end up buying a third if the cold keeps up. Geoff's guitar lessons are going okay. While I know he knows three chords it sounds like he knows what he is doing when I listen to him play and, as he calls it, "jam out old school." He's so cute. I look forward to the day when he is actually playing songs that I can recognize instead of just strumming and being noisy.

I received a lot of good advice about fixing my iTunes problem, but have yet to apply my brain to getting such a thing done. I'm hoping tomorrow or Monday, when I have the day off, to have the moment to do so and fix all of our problems. And -- thank you everyone for your suggestions. When I fix it I will be sure to write exactly HOW I fixed it, so you can make note of it, lest you find yourself in similar straits.

I guess that's it. The kids are on vacation this week upcoming, and unlike last year we are not going to Florida. Although, I can dream. And it strikes me that it feels like yesterday when I typed up our post-road trip report from that adventure. Where did this year go?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Lost my Liberry, Update on my Nephew

I bought an external hard drive last night and I think I've permanently screwed up my entire life, or at least the iTunes portion of life. Unless you, dear reader, have any sage suggestions.

My PC is about 5 years old. It is full. All 70 gb of storage is full. I keep burning stuff to CD to back it up and get it off the PC. I finally said "this is stupid" and went out and visited Staples. I bought 350 gb of storage space for 99 bucks. Hell, a whole new computer with that much storage space would cost me a pantload of money. This morning, I started pulling content over into the fresh new drive. I cleared off about 4 gb of stuff and could already feel the hard drive on my ole beastie thanking me.

Unfortunately, I'd dragged over the entire iTunes directory for our iTunes liberry. No problem, thought I, I will just open iTunes and tell it where my liberry lives. I changed the c:/blah blah blah/iTunes/iTunes music/ directory to f:/my music/iTunes/iTunes music and thought "that's that!"

But my iTunes liberry is empty. I rebooted the PC. It is still empty. So I moved the liberry back and told iTunes that it is back at c:/blah blah blah etcetera, but it doesn't like that.

It doesn't believe me. iTunes doesn't think I have a liberry anymore. And I'm pissed.

I went to work and was hella busy previewing next week's content and saying "That's What She Said!" a bunch of times with My Girl C (oh, how we laughed), and getting kicked out of the conference room where I preview so folks can have a meeting, and didn't have time to sit and look up what the deal was. All told, I'm confused. I hope that I can re-convince iTunes that my liberry does indeed exist, and make it SEE my content.

And Like I Said... any sage advice is appreciated. Jess has bought like 40gb of music over the last 5 years (and I've bought like 10 gb). So yeah. I turn to the greater community of those who know more, and ask your guidance. Help a sista out.

In the meantime, had I not done that I could say I'm 100% fully stoked, pleased and satisfied with the little external drive. Damn. It is fast as a thumbdrive, and holds buckets of stuff, and I'm moving shit over there and dancing a happy dance of happiness. So all told, it's not a bad thing. I just wish I had noticed what I was doing before I did it.

Many of you have dropped taunting little emails over the past few days asking if I'm still alive or not after the Patriots' stunning loss to the Giants.

Well, first off -- it's just a game. I've ranted on that before, back with the Red Sox and Manny being Manny and being 100% right in his attitude that it is just a game.

Second, I'm sad they lost, but to be honest, it was a hell of a good game. Knowing my brother in law was totally happy with it made me happy. And life goes on. I'm disappointed, it was shocking because I totally thought the Pats were a better team... but no one expected this, and no one gave the Giants any credit. So kudos to them. There's always next year.

I enjoyed spending the last five minutes on the phone with my sister, watching it with her. Both of us were like "oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no!" and freaking out totally, but we were together, even though we were miles apart. It was fun.

On Tuesday I went to vote.

Many of you did as well, I'm sure. I had a really hard time picking who I wanted to vote for, and seeing as I'm still registered Republican (thought I'd changed to Unenrolled when we changed our address, but I found I was mistaken when I walked up to the check in desk) I was left with choices I didn't relish. I won't get into details... it's not important.

The thing that was really surprising for me was that I had to wait in line.

See, we live in a really small town. Usually by 7pm you walk right up, tell them your name (and I think it is criminal that you don't have to show ID to vote but that is just one person's opinion...) and you vote and leave. There are about 6800 people in my town.

All of them were on line at 7pm when I showed up. Or, it felt that way. The line snaked around the building and almost to the library. Shocking!

I've never had to wait in a line longer than five people to vote in the 12 or so years I've lived here. I was excited to see people out voting. Most of the time less than 1000 of the nearly 6800 people who live here show up to vote, so I was really pleasantly surprised and happy to see about 2000 people had come before me.

Waiting in line was worth it. Although, if it is going to be like this for the actual presidential election in November, I'm going to volunteer to help. The line could have been managed better, they could have set it up slightly differently so that the line snaked around the inside of the building and people entered the hall from the BACK door, so folks could stand inside instead of outside. I would like to make some suggestions to my town on how to do things a tad better, more ... efficiently. And seeing as the average age of the volunteers is 90, perhaps having a 41 year old helper will inject a little life into the process. Those oldsters, they're nice and all but man are they slow. That's why the line was so long... there were 5 people inside voting, 900 outside waiting... 30 booths empty.

I'm gonna help out. This much I know.

In other news, I owe you an update on our boy Craig, our nephew.

His surgery went very well according to a very long and I won't share it without permission email from my sister in law.

So thank you all very much for the kind notes and emails and calls and comments about the little guy. I'm so happy to know that the greater community out there was praying for him and loving him and lifting him up over those days.

Pray for his continued healing, and that he won't have to do this again. Ever.

And at the same time, give thanks that it even can happen, that surgery like this can be done in this day and age...

I guess that's about it. This weekend we have Geoff's final Pinewood Derby. His car is painted and drying in the basement. We add the final touches tomorrow and take it to be weighed at 6pm. Race time is at 9am on Saturday. Geoff is just a couple of weeks away from finishing his Cub Scout career, and will bridge over to Boy Scouts on March 2nd... He's achieved all the necessary goals to reach the "Arrow of Light" in Cub Scouts, and then some. I must say I'm truly proud of him for sticking with this. 19 months ago he wanted to quit, wasn't taking it at all seriously, wouldn't take care of his uniform or anything, and now he's really back into it... I have a feeling we'll go back and forth a couple times over the next few years, but I'm hoping he'll stick with Boy Scouts for a while. He says he wants to Eagle. I'll be happy if he makes it to Star. Really happy.

Alright then... I guess that's about it. I'm off to bed. I'm incredibly exhausted and have the startings of a cold with sinus infection (Doug is in full-blown sinusitis right now) so I want to get some sleep. Last night all of those storms that wrecked Tennessee and Arkansas and Kentucky hit our neighborhood. All we got were thunderstorms mixed in sleet, hail, freezing rain. Lucky for us. I was worried about Keifel and Vic in their little corner of Nashville. The thunderstorms made the dogs bark and bark, for hours... it started at 11pm and they were still freaking out around 2am. I think I slept a bit in between thunderclaps and barks, so tonight I'm hoping for a deep, restorative sleep.

More later.