Something Out of a Bad Dream

Lauren is in town right now. That means yummy meals, often-swept floors, and free childcare. Not one to let an advantage go untaken, Nate and I went to a movie last night.

"Taken" tells the story of a naive girl (the antithesis of Shannon on "Lost") on an ill-advised trip to Paris who is kidnapped by ruthless human traffickers. Never fear; Super-Butt-Kicking-Preventer-Dad (Liam Neeson) springs out of retirement, wasting no time in eliminating the bad guys, one by one, until he shoots an arab sheik who is holding a knife to the surprised, grateful, and slightly drugged daughter's throat.

Later in the bathroom I overheard a goggle of teenage girls mystified in how a super-hot guy like the one in the movie could, or would, ever lure an unsuspecting girl into such a horrific situation.

"Of course nothing like that could happen in the idyllic US of A." (I've taken liberty with their words - if they used the word "like" it definitely wasn't as a simile.) Call it my maternal instinct (or maybe I'm just old,) but I couldn't leave without informing them that living in the US doesn't make them immune from the dangers perpetrated by evil people. I'm sure they got a good laugh out of the weird "know-it-all" lady in the bathroom who intruded on their conversation . . . yeah, I'm definitely old.

After my good deed of the evening we went to Daphne's Greek Cafe for a light meal. I should've remembered that there's no such thing at "lite" when it comes to Greek food. We had gyro plates - meaning a little bit of pita, a small cup of tzakiki sauce, and a lot of lamb - sweet, soft, beautiful little lambs. While the tasty meat is seasoned well and hits the spot I try not to think about what it's really made of. Instead, I'd rather delude myself into believing it's rabbit. Furry little broccoli-eating rodents . . . they deserve to be eaten. (More on that in a later post.)

Thanks to a very large, movie theatre-sized Diet Coke I had to make another potty run after dinner. And that's where my bad dream was realized.

Remember the night before the first day of junior high? The night where you toss and turn because of swirling dreams of bullies, hazing, and communal showers after PE? My nightmares went just a little bit further - I used to dream about open bathrooms with communal toilets. Sorry, that's probably more information than you wanted to know. But actually having the dreams isn't any more comfortable.

And neither is opening the door to a public restroom and seeing two toilets in full view. Finding one sink, two toilets, and no partitions (and no evidence of there ever having been partitions) was expected, unnerving, and definitely uncomfortable. I may have had physical privacy (after triple checking the door lock) but there was no psychological privacy.

Through giggles Nate got to hear all about the bizarre experience. It did leave me wondering . . .

Do people really pee in public groups (or duos as in this circumstance?)


Try as I might, however, I couldn't get Nate to go check out the men's restroom.


The new computer blues

I'm currently engaged in a love/hate relationship with this new HP of mine.

First and foremost, I love the speed. It's all about speed with me - no time means no patience. And this brand new processor with ample RAM means no waiting. I love the size of my new screen - who knew how much I was missing with that puny 13" screen on the old IBM? Now I've got 16 diagonal inches for my fabulous viewing pleasure. I love the smooth, silky feel of the touch pad - complete with a scroll bar so my finger doesn't get tired holding down the right-click button. I love the distinct number pad and the speakers - oh my gosh the speakers! I suspect taking advantage of my itunes library directly from my laptop may turn out to be an extremely pleasant listening experience.

But first I have to download itunes. And skype. And my Google toolbar.

As of yet I've only installed one of my printers and that's only because it's new enough it came with a Vista install disk. I haven't tried my photo printer because I think my time is better spent elsewhere (while still neglecting my Things, of course.)

My scanner won't install because a compatible driver can't be found, except that when I try to install an updated driver Vista tells me that the scanner already has the best possible driver. But the scanner software won't open because it doesn't have a driver. And again, and again, and again. I suspect this won't be my only "loop of insanity" problem while dealing with Vista.

I'm also having a problem with Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Standard. Apparently it won't run on Vista. Well, you may ask, what would make Acrobat compatible with Vista? Oh, only a $90 upgrade to version 9.0. Yeah, not doing that.

Then I happen to find some Windows XPS Writer available in my device manager under the printer category. Is this Microsoft's attempt to squash Adobe? I've never heard of it before, and if I haven't then doesn't that mean most people haven't? And if no one else is using it, then what good is it going to do for me? The cynic in me says Microsoft and Adobe conspired to prevent Acrobat 6.0 to work in Vista in an attempt to make more money for Adobe and/or eliminate the .pdf forever. Makes lots of sense, huh? Strangely enough, after the morning I've had that logic makes perfect sense to me.

Oh, and did I mention that I can't find my Office 2003 software disks? I'm starting to think they came with a time sensitive self-distruct feature . . . maybe that's what the dust at the bottom of my file cabinet was . . .

Argh! It's all just another one of those Microsoft money-making conspiracies.

Anyone know how to transer XP from my old faithful IBM?


Saying Goodbye

My computer is dying.

After five and a half years of reliable service it's dying a slow and arduous death. It's now succumbing to the siren's call of a simpler existence - a retirement with days full of Spider Solitaire played by 9-year-old fingers.

Most days this IBM takes time and patience to wake up and get moving. Opening a browser window is a process that requires much pondering on the part of the CPU (really - I can hear it thinking in the background.) And for some reason Word won't consider retrieving a document without permission from the printer - if it can even find the document through its shortcut.

It's not as if I'm surprised. I'm fully aware that my laptop is old. But I haven't been ready to let it go.

I've taken what may be futile steps to prolong the useful life of this well-used machine. I run anti-spy-ad-crap-ware and registry cleaning software almost daily, I do a full shut down whenever I'm not actively working and whenever the keyboard gets too hot - I've even moved all my photos and music to an external hard drive.

And yet it's not enough.

No matter what I do I can't seem to regain the glory days - those days when this laptop was shiny and brand new, an expensive tool in Nate's business school education. Back then it was significantly faster and more powerful than any computer we'd previously owned (it better have been, considering what it cost.) I eagerly anticipated every second of available screen time so I could avoid having to use my dinosaur (4 year old) desktop that employed a retrofitted ethernet card to get online.

I'm sure you can imagine the expectancy with which I looked forward to Nate's graduation and new job with its accompanying computer. The day this laptop became mine was a very happy one.

At long last those happy days are now gone . . .

I've lost all patience with this once-loved machine. If I have to stare at that little white "I'm ignoring you while I think about whether or not I want to respond" box at the upper left corner of my browser/document window I'm gonna throw this too-heavy, too-hot, too-old, too-lazy piece of c%@p across the room and through the wall.

Good thing my new laptop arrives tomorrow.

After months of denial, frustration, and aggravating research I finally bit the bullet and bought a new computer. And yet I'm still apprehensive about the quality and reliability of this new machine - can it possibly fill the void left by my geriatric IBM? I sure hope so - otherwise my walls better watch out because my best throwing days may still be ahead of me.


Self discovery

Thing 1 took this "Quality Quiz" at a recent Activity Days gathering. Maybe self-awareness is the first step in personal growth?

My favorite is "Eating". That's a great quality to have . . .

And I'm not sure why she thinks she needs to develop her sense of humor. I think she's pretty stinkin' funny.

Missing . . .

My life is a little less funny now.

Pudd'nhead Nathan has been removed from the blogosphere.

I don't know you, Pudd'nhead. Finding your blog was serendipitous. I took for granted that it would always be available for poignant thoughts, intellectual musings, and the occasional mindless entertainment. But it's gone now. And I miss it.

Where are you, Pudd'nhead?

Please come back soon.


Can't say no . . .

I tried.

I really did.

I wasn't looking for an opportunity to serve my school community. In this school district just increasing the student population is service enough. Enrollment has dropped by 2200+ students in the last three years alone. That, along with a projected budget shortfall of $13 million, has brought about the scheduled closing of 2 local elementary schools.

My Things' school isn't closing. It was originally on the short list for consideration, but was left off the short-short list.

Yay for us! I love our school. It's only 9 houses away and Things 1 & 2 walk most days. The convenience is huge - not to mention the stellar test scores, the engaging teachers, and the active PTA.

And that last one would be my problem.

For the past couple years I've served as Auditor on the PTA board. I took the job as a favor to a friend that moved unexpectedly - a friend who felt some strange moral obligation to find a replacement for her elected position. But now my 2 years are quickly coming to an end - and 2 consecutive years are all you are allowed to serve in any given position. Yay for me!

Unfortunately for me, however, the tenure of the Treasurer is also coming to an end.

A week ago a woman from the 2009/10 PTA board nominating committee called to ask if I would take the position next year. I declined - packing two little kids to the two-a-month early afternoon meetings is a complication I don't want to deal with.

But then I made a fatal mistake.

I told the woman I would consider taking the position if, and only if, they couldn't find anyone else to do it.

I guess that sealed my fate. Why, why, why, why . . . why can't I just say no and leave it at that?

Thanks to my inner-sucker, as of this morning I have officially been guilted into functioning as next year's PTA Treasurer.


Monster Monkey

Uh oh.

See Jack? I told you the cabinet doors weren't strong enough to swing on. (Notice the door DIDN'T break off at the hinges?)

Big-mouthed monsters

This morning I schlepped the 3 youngest Things with me to the mechanic for a long overdue oil change. I love my car doctor - he gives regular customers 4 free oil changes a year.

I guess it's a preventative care philosophy applied automotively. Makes sense - he builds a relationship of trust through my frequent (or not) visits so when problems arise he'll be the first one I call.

Regardless, it means I no longer look for (or take advantage of) free or discounted oil change coupons. And unfortunately, that means I am failing in my responsibility to regularly maintain my vehicle.

But that's not the point of this post. Here's the point . . .

While at the car doctor/mechanic Thing 2 wanted a drink of water. Not a drink from the water bottle I brought with us, but rather a drink from the water cooler in the corner with those hard-to-resist red and blue release levers.

Unfortunately the only cups available were styrofoam coffee cups. I told Jack he couldn't get a drink because I didn't want him to use a coffee cup - not because I cared that it was a cup meant for coffee but rather because it was easier than telling him I didn't want him messing with the water cooler levers. That reasoning would've worked only to incite an argument. And a mess.

My easy-out came back to bite me in a matter of minutes.

The proprietor walked into the waiting room and proceeded to pour himself a cup of coffee. Jack looked up from his coloring book and bluntly spoke, "Heavenly Father says no coffee."

Needless to say I was mortified.

Geoff (the car Dr.) didn't quite understand Thing 2's comment (likely because of poor enunciation) and replied, "What was that?".

I told Jack to hush.

Geoff said, "No, that's OK. He can tell me."

So again Jack said, "Heavenly Father says no coffee."

Geoff looked at me, a little puzzled. I wasn't sure how to respond - it's not like this guy was looking for an explanation of our doctrinal beliefs when he started jonesing for his morning jolt.

But Thing 2 had to open his big-mouth. And now I was in a very uncomfortable situation.

My solution? Diffuse and ignore - I told Jack to mind his own business.

Jack responded, "But coffee makes it hard to sleep."

Geoff laughed and replied, "But I'm trying not to sleep this morning."

At that point Jack went back to coloring and Geoff went back to mechanic-ing.

Ugh! Aghhhhh!

It's not like I want my kids to silence their thoughts and concerns just because we're in public - most times I just wish I could run their comments through my own filter before they come out of their mouths. Other recent uncomfortable comments:

  • Yesterday Thing 3 told a Costco sample lady that she was really old. Luckily the lady was not only old, but quite possibly deaf. Or maybe she's just learned to ignore little girls (with good reason.)

  • Also yesterday, when Thing 1 was asked if our family would like some cinnamon rolls she responded with, "My mom makes the best cinnamon rolls in the world." The result? No scrumptious gift of sugar.

  • Later this morning Thing 2 told the checkout lady that his big sister hates OfficeMax (apparently the OfficeMax branded pencils refuse to sharpen properly - I've been instructed to never buy them again.) My only saving grace? We were at Office Depot. The checkout lady responded with, "Your children are adorable."
I wonder if she'd think they were adorable if I slapped big pieces of duct tape over their mouths every time we left the house.