Thursday, December 11, 2008

More secret status updates

SAHG...

...had forgotten what it was like to talk to somebody on the phone when they're stoned and you're not.
...is usually sympathetic to the jobless, especially right now, but can't stand it when people refuse to learn anything new, and then complain about not being able to get jobs that require up-to-date knowledge in their field.
...wonders if she can get rid of somebody by relentlessly offering unsolicited job-seeking advice.
...now wonders if she can get rid of the friend who keeps sending stupid forwarded right-wing crap by responding with forwarded left-wing crap.
...has way too many friends she doesn't actually like, and too few that she does.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Once a geek, always a geek

This morning I ran into someone I knew in junior high. In my son's nursery school, no less; his son is in the same class of 12. What are the odds? Well, I could figure that out, I suppose, if I knew the size of each class in my junior high in each of the last two years of the 70s... and I suppose I'd also have to know how many duplicates there were, so I could count unique individuals. But that seems like an awful lot of trouble.

Anyway, these things are always embarrassing for me because of my memory. I remember pretty much everything. I remember what I was wearing on October 3, 1981. I remember specific turns of phrase in specific Nancy Drew books I haven't read since I was nine. I remember people I went to kindergarten with, and a dream I had in first grade that featured a beautiful rosebud-studded headband I had gotten for Easter and a boy I had a crush on. He liked to play with my Barbie dolls, but that's not why I think he's probably gay: it was that dream. In the dream I rode a bicycle (which I couldn't do at the time, but desperately wanted to) and rescued him from some people who were tying him to a palo verde tree for some nefarious purpose, and at that point I knew that he was never going to reciprocate my crush. But I digress, as usual. The point was that I remember a lot of things that other people don't, and I think it creeps them out a little if I mention it. And so I did not tell this guy that we went to junior high together and that one of my best friends in fourth through sixth grades was his stepsister, or possibly ex-stepsister--his father's current wife, who is in the social pages of the newspaper at least once a week (and I know this because my mother tells me so), might not be the guy's mother. It was weird enough that I recognized him at all. Probably I should have just pretended I didn't know who he was, so I didn't look like the kind of weirdo who goes to the reunion and tells a lot of people who can't remember her name what they were wearing on October 14, 1981, because trust me, I could probably piece it together if I really tried.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Real Status Updates

A lot of the time while I'm driving along I amuse myself by thinking up status updates that I would never post in a million years. For example:

SAHG is wondering if [xxxxx] knows that he's Twittering to all his Facebook friends, not just the one he direct-messaged.

SAHG feels like she's playing the role of Cordelia in the Dysfunctional Family Theater's production of Lear. (The sister who plays Regan--or maybe Goneril--is on FB too)

SAHG secretly thinks that some of her Facebook friends are idiots, and wishes they'd quit sending her hugs, snowballs, ornaments, delicious coffee, and other things that she's just going to ignore anyway.

Fortunately, Kvetch is back, so if I really wanted to, I could get out some of my irritation by using it. I was going to write my own little web app to do exactly the same thing (sans Twitter, since I'm not really a huge Twitter fan), but Kvetch saved me the trouble.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Talk about your humbug

To: Barnes & Noble
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Best Buy
Borders
Circuit City
Dick's Sporting Goods
GAP
KB Toys
Kmart
Toys "R" Us
American Eagle
Banana Republic
Bloomingdale's
Lane Bryant
Old Navy

From: The Stay-at-Home Geek


Dear Retailer,

I recently read that your store has been placed on Focus on the Family's “Christmas-negligent” or “Christmas-offensive” retailers list because of your use (or non-use) of the word “Christmas” in your advertising. I just wanted to let you know that your decision on whether or not to use “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” or for that matter, “Good Solstice,” will not in any way affect whether or not I shop at your store this holiday season. I, personally, celebrate Christmas, but unlike Focus on the Family, I realize that there are people in the United States who do not, for whatever personal reason they might have, and I do not expect the stores I shop at to cater to one small political group's desire to make those people feel marginalized and perhaps excluded. As a matter of fact, I feel that my Christmas shopping experience will be much improved by not having to shop with people who would purposely deny others their right to not have a holiday they don't celebrate shoved down their throat as they go about their everyday business in December.

So please continue to use whatever cheerful phrase you want to in your advertising, and good sales to you. Oh, and: happy holidays.

Sincerely,

The Stay-at-Home Geek

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meh.

I cannot prove for a fact that I got banned from the Geeks group on Propeller for posting a link to Sarah Palin Facts, a nonpartisan humor site that offers fake facts about Sarah Palin, along the same lines as the Chuck Norris Little Known Facts (e.g., "Death once had a near-Chuck-Norris experience"). Even if it was a totally political story, there is NOTHING on the group page that says you can't post political stories to the group. It's possible that there's something in an FAQ somewhere, but I certainly didn't find anything in a cursory looking-over.

It's also possible that there was a technical glitch or something that caused me to be booted without warning, comment, or explanation from the Geeks group, and that I wasn't banned. I suppose I could check with the group owners, but if it wasn't a mistake and I really was deleted from a group that I've submitted several other completely non-political items to—items that have been propped by several other members, including at least one of the group's owners—after one infraction that I didn't know about... well, that would just make me really mad. I'd rather not know.

So instead of trying to get to the bottom of it, I deleted my Propeller account, because frankly, I just wasn't getting that much out of it, and it was taking too much time to wade through the crap to get to the good stuff (and there is some good stuff). There's WAAAAAAYYYYY too much spam disguised as stories, and even in the posted stories there are far too many idiots commenting. Also, as far as I can tell, on Propeller you can't follow someone's posted stories and comments, which would be a really useful feature for the 95% of us who aren't stalking another member (and probably even MORE useful for those who are!). There's no page or even a sidebar that lists the stories that have been posted to my groups; I have to go into each group individually every time I want to see if anything has been posted to it.

I think Propeller is a pretty good idea, and it doesn't completely turn me off like some sites with similar models (say, Slashdot or Digg), but overall, it's just not there yet. Maybe I'll try it again in a year or so.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blah, blah, blog

I've been on the Internet since, oh, 1989 or 1990. My first email account had a BITNET address, that's how long ago it was. I've loved making friends online all these years, and finding information, and just generally enjoying (and building) new things.

But I'm really tired of it right now. I'm tired of posting to lists and having three people contradict me, oh so politely, but firmly. I'm tired of emailing people who don't reply, and friending people I actually know who write and ask how they know me, and finding the same tired text over and over because of the packagers who buy 10 different versions of the same story from one writer and then sell them to 30 different web sites. I'm tired of the trolls on blogs and Propeller and local newspapers' web sites.

I don't know what to do about this just yet; the Internet has been part of my life so deeply and for so long that I don't really know what I'd do without it. But something has to change.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please, you're embarrassing the rest of us white people

"The Cuban immigrant to Miami is a dead ringer for Barack Obama, from the broad smile to the close-cropped hair," according to this article about an "Obama impersonator" at Yahoo! News.

Uh, no, he isn't. Unless you think all tall, slim black men who wear suits look alike, which you obviously do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's not the sexual predators, it's the friggin' rats

Okay, I'll admit it: I hate the playground. For the last couple of years—basically, since my almost-three-year-old learned to walk—I have felt obligated, as a stay-at-home mom, to take him to the playground on a regular basis. It's not like he's addicted to the playground; his attitude is kind of take-it-or-leave-it. He never asks to go to the playground, but he doesn't refuse to go either. But I just flat-out hate it.

There's no reason I shouldn't hate it; some, if not most, of my exceptionally humiliating moments in elementary school took place on the playground. The time I hit a bully with my lunch box and I got in trouble? That was on the playground. The time my best friend decided to ignore me at recess because she had a crush on the guy who hated me because I beat him in the spelling bee? Playground. My many ignominious two-square defeats? Playground, of course. It's really no wonder I hate the playground, although I had actually forgotten most of those things until I started thinking the other day about why I hate the playground. And they don't explain why I hate the playground I go to now, which isn't the one where those things happened.

It's true that there are sometimes some creepy-looking characters hanging around the two playgrounds with the best equipment, but then, those are both in very large city parks, where creepy-looking characters tend to hang out anyway. But the other morning I was out for my morning run in the park, and I saw something that really gave me the creeps: a rat. I have nothing against rats, as long as they're pretty little clean rats that live in cages and maybe come out to sit on their owners' shoulders at Renaissance faires and that kind of thing. I just don't think big ol' garbage-eating city rats are appropriate playground companions. But in this case, they're giving me an excellent excuse not to go the playground, so go rats.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gen X getting pinched?

Via Boston Gal: Where Americans will (and won't) cut back:
Even in tough times, consumers demonstrate a reluctance to give up everyday indulgences - CNNmoney.com


According to the article, Gen X is feeling the pinch particularly acutely because we're more likely to have kids at home, to have bought houses recently, and to be in the middle class—but the article doesn't mention what, specifically, consumers are cutting back on (despite the promise of the headline).

I have a toddler and a new house, and am definitely in the middle class, but the only place I'm really feeling pinched is at the grocery store. I've started going to Super Target because I can get everything there (so it saves a trip) and because the prices are much, much better than at least one local store that I kind of hate anyway.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pedal power

Those crafty folks at Humboldt State University have set up a bike-powered washing machine. I've had two basements that would have been ideal for this: I could have set up a TV in front of the antique washer/exercise bike combo and gotten in a workout while watching TV and getting the laundry done. Personally, I think this is a WONDERFUL idea, but I'm pretty sure I'd last about a week.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Outside the box

More papercraft: paperboxworld has some of the cutest papercraft I've seen. Best of all, it's easy! And free! I made a tiny paper cat in about 10 minutes. Can't beat that!

(via PaperKraft)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

NYT surprised that a romance writer has... a heart?

Nicholas Sparks, author of romances The Notebook and A Walk to Remember, sponsors his town's high-school track team: In North Carolina, an Author Underwrites a Successful Track Program - NYTimes.com

I've never been able to make it past about chapter two of any of Nicholas Sparks's books—and I've really wanted to; I love the premise of gentle romance set in the idealized small-town America of generations past, but just can't get into Sparks's style—but I think it's fantastic that he's doing this. I just don't understand why the Times considers him "an unlikely benefactor." Here's a guy who is not just giving money, but also time and energy, to build a school-based athletic program; why is that so unlikely? Are successful authors supposed to be miserly recluses who live alone in the woods, only coming out of their ramshackle hovels to pick up the weekly mail and growl at the locals? Or maybe a guy who writes romances can't possibly be interested in athletics. WTF, NYT?

Hindsight is 20/20, and all that.

It seems to me that if we had listened to Jimmy Carter 30 years ago we might not be in so much trouble now.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Exsteaminate!

Take a look at Alex Holden's model of an awesome steam-powered Dalek:

He explains his method and his madness here: My Motley Meanderings - Exsteaminate!

Just two things:
  1. Dalek bubble bath? At Woolworth's? The English are soooo cool.
  2. Model engineering is a career path? Where do I sign up?


(I know I found this somewhere, but now I don't remember where)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Techcrunch: Can Google Trends Predict The Election?

An interesting analysis from Techcrunch: Can Google Trends Predict The Election?

If so, then right now Obama's chances look really good. In the state primaries that were used as predictors, searches spiked right before the elections, so we'll see how it looks come October.

More printables

Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! Activities and Printables

Printable coloring pages featuring Wubbzy, Widget, and Walden. These were a HUGE hit with Borg Boy, who is just starting to enjoy using crayons.

We just discovered Nick Jr.'s Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! this week, and have successfully weaned Borg Boy from Playhouse Disney by capturing it on ReplayTV in the middle of the night, then playing it in the morning while we're getting dressed.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Printables

Oh, joy! After my earlier experience visiting other people's favorite blogs, I needed to find something like Dabbled to restore my faith in the Internet. I love printables (some of my favorites are here), and Dot offers a wonderful robo-spaceman Birthday Party Invite & Thank You Note under a Creative Commons license. I'm a big fan of the 80s-style robo-lettering, too.

Weird.

Do you ever stop to read a blog you've never read before, but have seen linked by lots of people whose blogs you like, and it's so incredibly awful that you feel like you should wash your eyes out with soap? Maybe it's not badly written, but evil radiates off the screen because the blogger hates everyone and everything he or she comes in contact with in real life, including his or her own spouse and children. Maybe it IS badly written, but in Blog Voice, so you can tell how hip and trendy it is. Maybe it mentions "the Interwebs." More than once. Maybe it goes into great, laborious detail about the blogger's children's bathroom habits (or the blogger's OWN bathroom habits). But something about it just makes you want to leave and never come back.

Yeah. That's happened to me TWICE this week. I'm not linking to anyone, because lots of people like these blogs, so clearly it's just a personal problem on my part.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Happy Convoymas!

Krupskaya at The Edit Barn has a great idea for celebrating the sixth of June, immortalized in the 1975 novelty hit "Convoy": McCallsday, or Convoymas.

I was a couple years older than Krupskaya in 1975, but the song always reminds me of traveling that summer from Tulsa to Tucson and back... and then back to Flagstaff in the fall, and back to Tulsa. Much of this trip was along Route 66 (or I-40, where it paralleled the Mother Road). Along the way, we had breakfast every morning at a chain called Hobo Joe's, where they served hot chocolate with whipped cream, even in the middle of the summer. On the second trip, we detoured to White Sands, and on to Carlsbad Caverns, on the way back to Tulsa. Whenever I hear "Convoy" I think of those trips. So happy Convoymas to all, and to all a good drive.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oh boy.

Now that I have so much access to Quantum Leap (all seasons, most episodes) via Netflix, I find that the episodes I find myself watching are the ones in which Sam leaps into a woman. Those really weren't my favorites in the first run; as long as he was leaping into the 50s or 60s, I was happy enough, and it used to bug me to watch him clomping around in high-heeled pumps with his chest hair poking out of the bodice of some dainty little piqué number. However, I think these days I'm seeking out those episodes because I can actually relate to Sam, uncomfortable in too-tight clothes and heels... trying to put his lipstick on right... figuring out how to act like one of the girls. I don't have trouble with the lipstick and heels, thanks to coming of age in the 80s and living in a dorm full of beauty pageant winners for several years (they were generous with the beauty tips). And I'm fine one-on-one with other women, usually. But put me in a room full of middle-class moms and their kids, and I feel like Sam: the clothes don't fit, I can't walk right, and I'm always saying things that betray my true identity—the identity that is so not a middle-class mom (MCM).

Before I had Borg Boy, most of my female friends were single or in committed, non-married relationships. Then one of my good friends, an engineer, got downsized out of her job, and within a year she was married, pregnant, and living in another state. Another, a programmer in Silicon Valley, sent me a birth announcement out of the blue, via email, to let me (and approximately 560 of her closest friends, apparently) know that she and some guy I'd never heard of were now the ecstatic parents of [insert generic Jane Austen heroine name here; everyone I knew who had a baby girl that year named her after a Jane Austen heroine]. I mention their career paths only to emphasize that these were ungirly, geeky women who somehow managed to make the leap that I have never been able to make—from geek grrl to MCM. None of my other geeky women friends have children, and they were almost all completely puzzled by my decision to have one. I think that's because none of them could even contemplate joining the ranks of the MCMs, whose seemingly inborn knowledge of things like How To Cut Grapes So That Toddlers Can't Choke On Them and How To Get Your Kid To Sit Still For Library Story Time is just a mystery to us.

Sam was always teaching someone in another era about women's rights, even in that RIDICULOUS episode where he leaped into Dr. Ruth and inadvertently advised a young woman named Anita that speaking up about sexual harassment was always the right thing to do. I know that my friends and I are extremely lucky to live in a time and a place in which we have a choice about these matters. To work in a traditionally male-dominated field, if that's where our interests lie. To get married or just live with somebody—or neither one. To have children, and to have just one or a whole passel of the little dears. But those of us who didn't necessarily grow up with the assumption that OF COURSE we'd have children someday also grew up with huge gaps in our knowledge of how children work... and how mothers do too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Borg Boy gets Parenthacked!

Oh wow! Here's the Parent Hack I submitted: "Finger bowls" help toddlers clean their own hands at the table | Parent Hacks

If Asha could have seen him at the nursing home this morning, "civilized" would have been the last word to come to mind. :-) At least he still seems to like his finger bowl... although sometimes we do have to keep him from drinking it when he's done.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The TBR list: Wicked Game

My To Be Read (TBR) list is already huge, but I add to it on a daily basis. Here's today's addition: Wicked Game, by Jeri Smith-Ready.

Let me just note that I hardly ever read vampire novels. I never got into Anne Rice, and I quit reading Laurell K. Hamilton after about the second one. I skipped Stephen King's vampire novel(s?), even though the one I can think of right off came out during the time that I was still reading King's books as soon as they hit the shelves of my local library (where I worked, so I usually got dibs). But the premise for this book—and the "Big Idea" behind it—are irresistible. I probably would not be interested in this book if I hadn't read the author's Big Idea; John Scalzi is doing a service not just to writers, but also to readers, with his Big Ideas posts.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Running on MP(3)

Via The Weight of the World: Podrunner is a free service—a particularly awesome-looking one—that lets you download workout music mixed to good tempos for walking, running, or interval training. I have GOT to try this!! Honestly, what's the point in having a Walkman phone if I don't use it to play music while working out?

The #1 Cause of Sleep Deprivation In My Household



From the incomparable xkcd, which actually got a writeup in the New York Times today. A couple of years ago, I would have said w00t!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Get off the Internet: words I wish would go away

Words I wish I could quit seeing on the Internet. Just two today, but I expect this will be a recurring post.

  • The Interwebs. It's a combination of a George W. Bush gaffe and a geeky joke. The thing is, many of the people who use it haven't heard the "interweb" joke and don't know it's about them. They tack an "s" on the end to show that they don't like Bush (well, duh; neither do 71% of our fellow Americans). I can see using it sarcastically once or twice, but not making it your customary way of referring to the World Wide Web, as a lot of people have done.

  • Staycation. Someone coined this term to describe staying at home instead of going on a vacation because of the sinking economy and the rising cost of gasoline. To those of us who don't make a habit of taking the kids to an expensive kid-related resort for a week every year, this is called "normal." But it's part of the news media's growing obsession with frugality, which I expect I will write about later.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I did WHAT?

Between my aging ReplayTV unit and the "play now" feature on Netflix, I can watch Quantum Leap at pretty much any time I want to. This makes me very happy, for some reason. But it's made me think of the thing that's always bugged me about the show (besides the entire final season): do the people Sam has leaped into have any idea what he's doing during the time he's in their place? When he leaps to someone else, are those people suddenly back in their bodies and their lives, with no memory of how they spent the last several days? That would be pretty bad, since Sam has usually done something completely life-changing while he was there, and it would suck to have no idea what happened.

Although it does explain a few things about Iran-Contra.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Email lists are hell

I am currently subscribed to a very active, very old mailing list that I've been reading, off and on, for many years. Because it's old, and because it's run by an old guy, it still has a lot of old-style conventions. Some, such as requiring subject tags and requiring list members to stay on-topic or take if off-list, make sense, and I approve of them. Others, such as getting snapped into line by the listowner for accidentally replying to an untagged message without adding a tag, are just irritating, and remind me of the reason I unsubscribed from all mailing lists for six months in 1993. But the anticipation of getting one of those messages (the listowner must be out of the office for the afternoon or I'd have one already) reminded me of something I wrote back in 2000, and now I finally have a place to post it! So here you go. It's been updated for 2008.

...oh, and BTW, before anyone gets all "why do you hate children and cats" on me, please note that this is supposed to be funny. Whether or not you find it so, please note that it in no way describes my own feelings about, well, anything.



This is the FAQ for the We Don't Like Windows or Any Other Operating System Except UNIX is Okay As Long As We Don't Have to Pay For It Cat-Hating, Child-Hating Star Trek TNG Mailing List. Please read it and know it well before you decide to post to the list. Be warned that if you post on any of the topics listed here, you'll probably get flamed.

DO NOT post unsubscribe messages to the list. If you do, you will be automatically removed from the list without any other notice.

And now, with no further ado:

The We Don't Like Windows or Any Other Operating System Except UNIX Is Okay As Long As We Don't Have To Pay For It Cat-Hating, Child-Hating Star Trek TNG Mailing List FAQ, v. 2.1.

copyright 2000, 2008 by "Commander Data," listowner


Q: What does FAQ mean?
A: If you don't know, you don't belong here.

Q: What does "flamed" mean?
A: Hello! Didn't you read the answer to number one?

Q: What's the purpose of your list?
A: Our list is a haven for those of us who hate Windows and all other operating systems unless they're UNIX-flavored (Linux is fine!), hate children and cats, and really love Star Trek TNG. Here, we can express ourselves freely and rant about the people who oppress us because we don't subscribe to their narrow worldview.

Q: I have to use NT at work, but I really prefer UNIX.
A: You should get a different job. NT is an inferior network operating system that will never match the elegant simplicity of UNIX.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hardly ever get this question anymore. Most of the NT users have either gone away or switched to XP or Vista, in which case the answer is the same.

Q: I know, I know, I really do prefer UNIX, I just don't happen to be currently working with it.
A: Then why are you here? If you don't hate Windows, you should find another list that's more appropriate to your beliefs.



Animations - new 003Q: I'm using Mac OSX, which is built on a UNIX kernel. Is that okay?
A: Only if you run it from the terminal window. Also--and we hate to be picky here--but Mac OSX is technically a "UNIX-like" operating system. So really, it doesn't count.

Q: What does TNG mean?
A: If you don't know, you don't belong here. Christ, I HATE newbies!

Q: TNG is okay, but I really prefer Deep Space Nine. I also watch a little Voyager now and then, and it's okay too.
A:We really only discuss TNG here. If you want to talk about those other shows, you should find another list.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This answer applies to Enterprise too.

Q: Does everybody on this list hate Windows and Macintosh, children and cats, and love Star Trek TNG?
A: Of course not! You clearly came here expecting that everybody here would be just like you. That was your first mistake. Everybody here is a unique individual, with our own lives and interests. We just happen to have a mutual hatred of inferior operating systems, sprogs, and grille-bait, and we love Star Trek TNG.

Q: If I like cats but hate all the rest of it, and love Star Trek TNG, can I participate?
A: Well, you can, but I doubt that you'd get much out of it.

Q: I don't like children much, but I don't really hate them either. Can I participate?
A: Okay, but don't be offended when we refer to your pwecious widdle Bratleigh and Snotleigh as crotch fruit, f#@k trophies, doorstops, or car catchers.

Q: Is swearing allowed on the list?
A: Of course. We've used "substitutes" for swearing on this FAQ in order to trick the g@dd@mned Internet filters that try to take away our right to free speech on the Internet.

Q: If you love TNG but hate children and cats, how do you feel about Wesley Crusher and Spot?
A: Please don't mention Wussley on this list. We don't believe that he is Canon. Also do not ask us for the words to "Ode to Spot." They're available via ftp somewhere, but don't ask us where or how to retrieve them. We're not going to hold your hand while you figure out how to use the Internet.

Q: I know this topic has probably come up before, but why did Dr. Crusher leave in the second season?
A: If you don't know, you don't belong here. That's a really stupid question. If you had been watching Star Trek TNG you would know the answer. Also, topics that have come up before aren't really encouraged on this list. You're obviously too new to know that, and should refrain from posting until you've been here a little longer. Newbies, sheesh.

Q: But I've been here for three years, and have never seen that topic come up.
A: That's because those of us who have been around for a while know better. This happens ALL THE TIME. We get some publicity and suddenly all these new people show up and don't know WTF they're doing. Then the stupid sh|ts start sending UNSUBSCIBE messages to the list. IT"S RIGHT THERE IN THE INSTRUCTIONS YOU WERE MAILED WHEN YOU JOINED!!! RTFM STUPID!

Q: WTF does RTFM mean?
A: Oh, you're a real laugh riot.

Q: How long have most of the list members been participating in the list?
A: Glad you asked. Most of us have been here since we were using 300 baud modems. The listowner and the co-moderators started the list when TNG debuted in 1986, on a bulletin board at XEROX PARC.

Q: Um, I'm pretty sure that Star Trek TNG debuted in 1987.
A: Nope.

Q: No, really. Fall of 1987, according to...
A: Do you want me to ask the listowner to unsubscribe you? If you don't stop INSULTING the people on this list, I will. The listowner and I are good friends, and I have a private e-mail from him telling me that he doesn't like what you're saying either.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I realize that IMDB says TNG debuted in 1987. The listowner and I do not consider IMDB an authoritative source, given that it was originally created from user-contributed content. And please don't get us started on Wikipedia.

Q: How do I join the We Don't Like Windows or Any Other Operating System Except UNIX Is Okay As Long as We Don't Have to Pay For It Cat-Hating, Child-Hating Star Trek TNG Mailing List?
A: You can't. We don't really want any new members.

Q: My name is Cherie. I'm 22 years old, 36-22-32. Some people think I look a lot like Marina Sirtis. I'm an art major and specialize in fantasy watercolors, but I'm also interested in astronomy, particle physics, and cooking. I'm new to the Internet, but I'm so happy to have found this list because I really love Star Trek TNG, although Voyager is really my favorite. Neelix is so cute! I also love my Macintosh and want to have a large family and a lot of cats. Will I fit in on the list?
A: Actually, we're really flexible about the whole cats/kids/OS/TNG thing. After all, every voice is a valued contribution. If you need any help "learning the ropes" just post and we'll be happy to help--you'll find we're a friendly group. Welcome to the list!

EDITOR’S NOTE: People who were on the list back in 2000 might remember that Cherie and then-moderator “Mr. Barclay” embarked upon a whirlwind romance that culminated in an on-list engagement, which dissolved a few weeks later when Cherie hooked up with some scary SCA dude at a Creation con in Chicago. Anyhoo, needless to say, Cherie is no longer participating on the list. “Mr. Barclay” still posts sometimes, but under a different name that only a few of us know.

Q: Oh yeah, he’s Commander Data now, isn’t he?
A: No.

Q: No, really, he announced it. It’s in the archives, August 29, 2001.
A: You’re wrong. He’s not Commander Data.

Q: Hey, aren't YOU Commander Data?

Hello?

Lou and Lou safety violations

I have a love–hate relationship with The Disney Channel. I love some of the weekend stuff, especially the movies. However, I hate the morning programming. The Little Einsteins drives me absolutely up the wall. That horrible little blond girl is always flat. I can only assume it's on purpose; it's probably supposed to reassure kids who can't sing on pitch that they're still perfect, unique little snowflakes who shouldn't let their inability to sing keep them from doing it on national television, thereby ensuring the popularity of American Idol (and the Idol-based attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park). I also hate Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, with its contrived lessons and weird animation.

But most of all, I hate Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol. In addition to being smug, self-satisfied know-it-alls, Lou and Lou are often just WRONG. They issue pointless "safety violations" for things like their preteen sister Lulu singing along with her iPod (oh, wait: I'm sure it's a Mix Stick) in the car, because it might distract the driver. Like having the most annoying twins in the world sitting in the back spouting safety violations isn't distracting. And is nobody allowed to talk or listen to the radio in the car? Wow. They get my vote for Dreariest Family EVER.

That was in this morning's episode, wherein Lulu also gets a safety violation for not buckling up, so she buckles her lap belt. Apparently the twins aren't at all concerned about a related safety violation: Lulu is using a lap belt alone, without a shoulder belt. Using a lap belt alone is NOT safe; in an accident, you need a shoulder belt too, to prevent head, neck, and abdominal injuries. In front-impact and rear-impact crashes, shoulder/lap belts are considerably more effective than lap belts alone in preventing fatality. Note that the statistics I just linked to are for outboard seats; Lulu is sitting in a center seat (and apparently in a booster). But since 2004, vehicles like the one Lou, Lou, and Lulu's parents own (a minivan) have been required to have lap/shoulder belts in the center back seat. As a frugal person, I don't necessarily recommend going out and buying a new car every couple of years, but seriously, those kids' parents are so obsessed with safety that I would think they'd want to, now that Lulu is old enough to ride in a booster instead of a car seat with a harness.

At least Dad gets a safety violation for talking on the cell phone while driving. I guess that would violate the "no talking in the car" rule.

[EDIT: Yes, I know I could just turn off the TV. But that would mean I'd have to actually play with the child instead of using the 7:30–8:00 time slot for reading my RSS feeds, checking my email, and updating my Facebook status. I suppose I could change the channel over to Sprout, at least.]

Monday, May 19, 2008

WTF?

I had to have the screen replaced on my nearly brand-new laptop a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it got broken in January, in a toddler-related incident: Borg Boy and I decided to dance to the sappy children's music on the television, and I left my shiny two-month-old Vaio on the footstool. Unfortunately, the impact from our dancing on the wood floor made it vibrate right off the edge. Even more unfortunately, Acts of Barney are not covered by our renters' insurance.

Being the workaround maven that I am, I immediately hooked it up to the flat-screen Dell monitor that belonged to our desktop, and resumed working on it. Every once in a while, in a leap of enthusiasm, I would make a few phone calls with the intention of getting it fixed.

Three months and $300 later, I had a new screen on my laptop, and a Blue Screen of Death every so often. When I was finally able to copy fast enough to get the error from the BSOD (I know there used to be a way to make it pause there instead of restarting, but couldn't figure out how to do it in Vista), I Googled it and found out that it's probably a result of an incompatibility between the driver for the new screen and a recent Windows update... but since it hasn't happened since the last Windows update, I think it's probably no longer an issue. However, as of yesterday, I have a new problem. Every time I set the computer down, it makes its dock/undock sound, and I get a little balloon that tells me that my USB device could run faster... but there are no USB devices currently connected to the laptop. Weird. I think it's time for my tried-and-true troubleshooting technique: When in doubt, reboot.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A long, rambling explanation of what I miss about work

Two years ago, I gave up my great job in a university IT department to stay at home with my son. There were a lot of reasons, but the main one was that he had some medical issues and required full-time care early on. I couldn't see leaving him with a full-time nurse, and the only daycare in the area that could take on that kind of responsibility was a 40-minute drive from my house, and another half-hour drive back to work. For the most part, I enjoy being at home with him and being a homemaker, but I do miss some things about my particular work:
  1. The workflow. Even before I read The Tyranny of Email I had already discovered that I work best in three-hour segments, especially when I'm writing code. Ha! No stay-at-home mom ever has three straight hours to get anything done. I don't do much coding these days, but I also find the three-hour rule to be my standard for copyediting, sewing, and anything else that requires some concentration and puts me in a state of flow.

  2. The co-workers. I was already in full sympathy with the stay-at-home moms who went totally nutso when confronted by the social deprivation of being trapped with a two-year-old all day. It even happens to people who are used to being around children, like kindergarten teachers and physical therapists. But at times it's beyond frustrating for someone who was accustomed to spending lunch hours, walks to meetings, and not an insignificant amount of work time chatting with a bunch of other geeks about Star Trek, operating systems, and cars.

    Once you're a stay-at-home mom, you can basically give up on ever getting a chance to talk about those things again (except on the Internet, where nobody knows you're a mom). I have yet to meet another SAHM in person who likes anything remotely geeky. I'm sure they're out there somewhere, but in trying to find one I feel like that guy with the lamp who went looking for an honest man. The women I've made friends with have been highly intelligent and educated, have wide-ranging interests, and have been great mothers, but they couldn't care less about the new season of Doctor Who or the possibility of Microsoft hooking up with Facebook, and no matter how silly it seems, I would like to have someone other than my husband (the Go-to-Work Geek) to discuss some of those things with.

    ...and speaking of TGTWG, I like talking with guys. Since first grade I've had at least as many male friends as female, sometimes more. Most of my co-workers in my last job were guys. But guys don't hang out in playgroup. There might be an occasional stay-at-home dad (and he's usually a geek), but there seems to be some baffling unwritten etiquette about talking to these men in playgroup: first, you have to already know their wives, and preferably, already be close friends with them. It's best if you were college roommates, or if one of you once saved the other from drowning in an icy pond. Second, you can't talk about anything that the rest of the group doesn't know anything about. That's actually just good manners; it's not specific to men or playgroup, but it rules out any conversations about the newest release of Ubuntu or whatever. It's not always followed, either; apparently my favorite playgroup had no problem, the time my husband attended in my stead, talking about breastfeeding and PMS (I'm assuming those were two separate conversations, but who knows) and all sorts of things that made him lapse into a kind of misogynistic language I've never heard from him before.*

  3. Myself, as a worker. Mainly, I think I miss being somebody in my own right: not "Borg Boy's Mommy" or "Mrs. Go-to-Work Geek." I realized not long ago that when my attention is divided between a conversation I'm trying to have and keeping Borg Boy from sucking up an entire bottle of green SpongeBob yogurt and then spitting it out all over somebody else's sofa, I simply cannot be myself. I lose track of the conversation, I get self-conscious, and I completely lose my train of thought. That makes me even more self-conscious, and it just spirals downward from there, so that I leave social events frustrated and angry with myself. I don't have this problem—at least, not to the same extent—when I'm on my own. But I'm almost never on my own! That's what I miss the most about work: having eight hours a day when I was a competent person, good at my job, able to talk to people and listen to people and respond authentically instead of having to interrupt them with "Oh, just a minute, he's climbing into the trash can." Yes, it's true that I probably derived too much of my self-image from work. The problem is that I'm still doing it, only I'm not nearly as good at this job.

* Well, he called them "a bunch of hens," which is pretty misogynistic for a guy whose mother had him marching on the steps of the state capitol hoisting an "ERA YES!" sign when he was 10, and who has worked in a female-dominated field for nearly 20 years.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Obligatory Introduction and Welcome

Welcome to Stay-at-Home Geek. I'm an over-40 mother of a two-year-old, which is weird enough, but on top of that, I'm a former IT professional turned stay-at-home mom. In the niche-ified world in which we live, I think that puts me in a category with maybe three other people. In any event, it means that in order to meet other people in the same situation—which I'd like to do, because frankly, I'm going a little crazy—I have to go online. Which isn't a big deal for me, since I've been online since 1990, when the Internet was young and text-based.

So I guess that's what I'm doing. I've always been bad at this kind of introduction, and it's hard to concentrate with Handy Manny and his tools singing in the background, and my toddler, Borg Boy (formerly Borg Baby—you'll get The Origin of Borg Baby later) whining "Nooooooooo!" every time I turn the TV off or change the channel, and "Nooooooooo!" again if I turn it back on. So I will end here, and go get ready for my day.