Friday, April 24, 2009

Well, now it's official.

The LA and I have just been on a signing binge; we're moving again. This time, to a house(!) with four(!) bedrooms, a large living area, a three-butt(!) kitchen with gas(!) stove, a two-car garage, and so on and so forth. Basically, it's about 1.5 times the space of here and better laid out to boot. We've been feeling rather grown-up; heck, we're going to have to buy a lawnmower, we've got a lemon tree to look after now... this is quite the step into adulthood.

Once we're settled, there will be a housewarming party. We will have many knitters descending upon the place.

Oh, and there's no HOA to give us grief. We're subject to local laws and so on, but we're not going to get snotty letters if I decide I want pansies in the front yard and there turns out to be some no-pansies clause in a phone-directory-sized book of Things You May Not And/Or Must Do. As long as it doesn't make the neighbours unhappy, we're cool. Recipe for being houseproud.

Friday, April 17, 2009

And I thought I was going to keep politics off here.

Seems not.

Disclaimer: I'm pretty left-wing by US standards, and I don't get to vote. That said...

There are a bunch of right-wingers who are apparently pretty annoyed that Obama hasn't magically fixed the pile of crap their President left him to deal with (word to the wise, guys: he's shovelling as hard as he can. It took eight years to get a heap of crap that big in the first place) and are making noises about a revolution. Ugh.

There's also apparently been talk of Texas seceding, on the same "grounds". I will admit that I haven't been following this one, but here's what I say to that: Go right ahead. We'll help you. We'll help relocate all the people who live in Texas and don't want to secede. We'll help relocate our discontented people who want to move to Texas when it secedes. We'll make sure you get a good constitution, and we'll make certain that you write into it that Texas can never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, receive any aid or benefit at all from the USA. After all, you're seceding over government overspending, right? Can't have you contributing to the problem, especially not from outside the USA. We'll also make sure we put up the border protection on our side, and we'll make sure the process for your citizens to apply for visas is in place. Yes, visas. You guys are going to need to apply six months in advance, at least, and have a damned good reason for wanting to visit the US. After all, you're a new country that recently seceded from your parent state while threatening armed revolution. Hardly the sort of people we want to let in willy-nilly, now, are you? Oh, and we'll be removing the SPR stocks currently held in Texas. Can't have that in a potentially hostile nation. We'll also be pulling out all military units, and levelling the bases. You want a military, build it yourself. We'll help - oh, no, we won't, that pesky "no aid of any kind from the US, ever" clause.

What we will do, if Texas secedes, is take the silly buggers back once they realise just how much of a cockup it was. We're dumb like that.

My main point here: if you're not happy, do something constructive about it, don't just bitch and threaten to throw your toys away. I have no respect for someone who thinks standing on a street corner waving a teabag is helpful in any way.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Something to be impressed by

The LA and I live on the upper storey of a two-storey structure. Our stairs are external, and the top end debouches onto a largish porch, partially covered by a canopy which is part of the roof. Now, when we arrived here, we had an articicial ivy plant which had been hanging from a hook in the previous place, and we had a hook in the canopy. The two seemed to be an obvious match, and so there it has hung ever since. In recent weeks, I have been confronted upon opening the door by a flurry of small brown wings as a bird departed from the basket of plastic ivy with some alacrity.

Last night, I stopped to look, and discovered a rather large quantity of dry plant matter, which had been woven into a small bowl shape. It currently contains four eggs; last night, when my photograph was taken, it contained three.

The eggs are a very pale green, with very sparse brown speckling. I'm leaving them alone, because I would love this family of birds to be successful. I would also like to be able to figure out what sort of birds they are, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jim Morrison's Dead.

So, yesterday, the LA and I went out for dinner because after a night of insomnia, I was far too zonked to cook. We wound up at a local family Chinese restaurant, and were the only two customers until an older woman and a young man came in. We decided it was almost certainly an Easter filial visit... and that it was pretty clearly something the young man dreaded, because the woman easily qualified for a spot at St. Jimbob's Home for the Bewildered. He had to explain twice that it was Van Morrison he was going to see perform, not Jim Morrison, because Jim Morrison is dead (and has been since before he was born). The lady also spent a long time talking about sandwiches and how she doesn't have a cellphone. The LA and I were somewhat reeling by the time we left.

And this morning, I received a somewhat panicky call from the LA - she'd forgotten her wallet, and so I had to take the bus to rescue her. I wound up at her office, we had lunch, and then I asked if there were any errands she needed me to run, since I was at a loose end and the car was right there. As it turned out, we were low on fuel and she needed soda for the office, so I headed over to get the car. This was yet another first - my first time driving around a multi-storey car park solo. Pretty easy, really. Filling the tank was nothing new, I've done it before (and really appreciate the locking triggers on American pumps; one's glass does get rather dirty, and being able to clean it while the tank fills using the free-to-use squeegees saves ever so much time), and supermarket parking is old hat, but the ramps and tight turns of the parking structure are new to me.

We also got to see the ugliest vehicle I have ever seen. It was a Hummer H2, truck version (the least useful pickup truck ever), lifted (just to make it even more pointless and dumb). The paint job was mostly gloss black, but the upper parts of the doors, the lowest side skirts and parts of the transmission were lime green. It had clearly never been further off road than the dealer's lot, and seemed to be a cry to the world of "Look at me, I have micropenis!" It was even blasting out the wonderful n-Chi music you hear from the car next to you at traffic lights.

And finally, a message from Sheba.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Finding myself in default

The LA has a rather sporty little car which, now I have a license, I'm allowed to drive on my own. This car, among its many shiny and youth-oriented features, has a stereo with extra inputs. It won't play cassettes, which is frankly unsurprising, but it will play burned CDs full of mp3s, and it will speak iPod. It also has a 3.5mm (US folks: 1/8", the size of the headphone socket on your iPod) input socket for raw audio from wherever. The LA generally uses her iPod to provide music, but has on occasion allowed me to use my not-an-iPod to play some of my music. However, this has always led to complaints of it being ridiculously bass-heavy, and justifiably so. I had always been under the impression that the bass boost misfeature of my equipment was as turned off as it had always been.

Well, today, for the first time since I got the thing, I actually inspected that portion of its settings menu.

Guess what had been active all along, ever since shipping?

I've only had the blasted thing four years.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


The LA and I go out and knit with a group of friends every Wednesday, and they really are friends. We all talk, knit, tease each other, drop one-liners, and generally terrorise the customers at the Borders where the meetings occur. This is all well and good, but there is a dark side.

The dark side is where the LA and I get dinner on those nights. We go to the Jack in the Box which is on the way to Borders. The staff there were coming to know us and expect us, but now they've had a new thing installed: a touch-screen, automated order-taking kiosk. For the British folks, think of the ticket machines at a railway station. For the US, think of a touchscreen voting machine, except this one actually has been secured and leaves an auditable paper trail. Funny how one's burger is so much more important than one's leader.

Anyway, this machine is a good thing (it gives you a running total, it has the entire menu in it, and it allows you to special-order without the difficulty of getting the right information over to the employee or looking up the product build online ahead of time), but I can't help missing somewhat the interaction with the staff. Sure, it's more efficient, but now their involvement is limited to handing us the cups and, later on, the food. Another little chance to connect is gone.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Legacy is an interesting word. In most walks of life, a legacy is a good thing, but in computers, legacy is a bad word; it means that something is old (not necessarily bad), does not integrate well with current systems (bad) and usually that it's a pain to deal with.

This is leading up to a bit of a rant about my wireless connection. The computer that's on this connection regularly falls off the network, and when it does, the installation of Firefox it runs generally goes into "Offline Mode". Offline mode is a legacy (see, there's that word again!) of the days when most people were on dial-up, and it was important to keep your browser from dialling a connection (thus costing you money and/or time in cancelling the dialup process) whenever it wanted. What it does is prevent the browser from making requests over a network connection. Now, it was a good idea to have offline mode kick in on a lost connection back in the bad old days, but I for one cannot remember the last time I had to dial a connection. I know that that old machine doesn't even have the means to dial a connection set up. Is it so much to ask that Firefox ask what the primary network connection is on install, and if it's not a modem, disable offline mode? Or indeed provide some means of disabling offline mode? In the days of a flaky but theoretically always-on connection, offline mode is nothing but a sulk, and I don't like my programs to sulk.

It's a privilege I reserve to myself, the LA, and the cats.