Thursday, September 29, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
They say you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. Can you check out the other end?
I said I'd follow up in a couple of months following my less-than-stellar experience with the installation of Trend Micro Titanium. Well, this is sooner than a couple of months. Alas, it is to report that I have uninstalled it and its little dog Safe Sync, too.
As I reported before, I had gotten a year subscription to try from BzzAgent. I had some reservations about removing a perfectly good computer security system, Microsoft Security Essentials, in order to simply install Trend Micro Titanium. Then, the Safe Sync irritated me by overfilling my allotted sync space and popping up every few seconds until I forced Safe Sync to close. Not good.
I figured I would ignore it, though, as long as it did its job. Ok, so every time I restart my computer, Safe Sync would restart and tell me that I should buy more space. Erk. Ah well, I can turn that off. So I did.
As long as I kept Safe Sync off, I was ok, right? Wrong. I came home the other day after a long drive from an out of town business trip. I shuffle into my office to do some gaming before unpacking and going to bed. At least I thought that's what I was going to do.
My computer is in stasis, having tried to restart for some unknown reason. Grr. Reboot. Check issues. "Your computer has recovered from an unexpected crash." Yeah, duh. Why? "Coreframeworkhost.exe crash dump." What's that? Google. It's a Trend Micro program that makes Trend Micro programs work together. Not cool. Still, programs sometimes crash, right? And it seems to be stable now that I've rebooted.
*grumble* No relaxing gaming before bed, though.
Tonight, my lovely boyfriend tries to download the latest update on our favorite online game, since I worked late and I might want to play the new expansion when I get home. Aww. Except that it won't update. He suspects Trend Micro. In the back of my mind, I do, too.
Still, I restart my computer. Things seem to be working ok... My taskbar's loading funky. Grr. Fine, I'll check Titanium. Sure enough, it's dead. It claims to have "caught 1 threat in the last month," but I can't expand it to find out what it is. It's grey and dead, claiming that I need to restart my computer. Uh. I just did that. Ok, fine. I'll do it again, since I need to see if my taskbar can be fixed.
Nope. Still weird. And Trend Micro Titanium is still dead.
That's it. Uninstall!
I uninstalled both the antivirus software and the Safe Sync. I reinstalled Microsoft Security Essentials. Viola! All is right in the world.
Except that I have to re-download the game update that got interrupted by this whole mess. I guess I get to go to bed sans relaxing gaming. Computer security FAIL.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
It seems like every time I turn my steering wheel to the west, the universe seems to know it. Or at least Mother Nature does.
Occasionally, I get the opportunity to travel to South Dakota for a meeting. Since someone needs to bring the marketing materials, and I'm not high falutin' enough to fly a measly 250 miles, I get to toss a box of highlighters bearing the firm name into my trunk and drive.
I'm not the kind of person who loves a good road trip. Especially if I have to drive. Alone. For 4.5 hours. Through an area in which one of the most interesting features is the endless occurrence if corn fields. And the wind is at a minimum speed of about mach 10.
Yes, almost every time I have to get behind the steering wheel to get to SoDak, it seems to be even windier than usual. And that's saying something in a state with nothing to stop the wind for about 500 miles except a bit of grass and about 3 trees.
This time, with the last several weeks being pretty dry, the corn (and everything else) was pretty dessicated. As a result, the leaves were being stripped from the stalks and were drawn up into swirling columns every so often.
The grass seeds, too, were being ripped away by the wind, producing an effect that sounded like rain and looked like warp speed.
Overall, it was oddly entertaining to watch.
I might have gawked more if it wasn't so hard to drive 65+ miles per hour with your steering wheel cocked 20 degrees to the left.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Am a geek. Ask any of my friends. They'll tell you.
I drool over fun, geeky things, like the stuff on ThinkGeek (http://www.thinkgeek.com/). One thing that's been on my wishlist for a while is Bucky Balls Magnetic Building Spheres (http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/science/bbe8/). I see myself building models of DNA and zinc-fingers, recreating the structures of amino acids, and maybe predicting the chemical structure of the next great antibiotic that will beat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Coincidentally, BzzAgent (I've written about BzzAgent before, here; http://www.bzzagent.com/) will soon be kicking off a BzzCampaign with Bucky Balls Magnetic Building Spheres. I so want to be included. I would show off to my geeky friends, one of which even has his own podcast called The Geek Life (http://thegeeklife.tv/). I might even let them use my Bucky Balls.
Better yet! I am a geek at work, too. It's encouraged. As a patent agent, I get to see all kinds of biotechy/chemically inventions all the time. I could keep my Bucky Balls on my desk and use them to build models of my clients' inventions. Ohh. That would make the patent attorneys jealous.
BzzAgent, please include me in this campaign. How many people can honestly say that they can use a geeky toy like Bucky Balls professionally?
Thursday, September 15, 2011
|All these veggies came this week from my CSA,|
Nitty Gritty Dirt Farm
|Yes. It's yellow.|
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
When I grew up, I escaped that small town to move to a big city with lots of career opportunities and entertainment and culture.
Well, kind of.
In this small town, during the Threshing Bee (pronounced "Thrashing Bee" in this small town), people sit patiently to watch a two hour parade of tractors and old cars.
|Not a John Deere, but someone loves it, anyway.|
Oh, and home made pie. Real home made pie. Even rhubarb pie, which makes no excuse for its tartness with the addition of apologetic strawberries.
In this small town, people pile on wooden bleachers to watch people compete to see whose tractor can pull the most.
There is a craft building full of handmade quilts on one side, and various antique household items on the other. There is a toy building with toys you might find some version of 50 years ago or today. There is an old one-room school house, complete with desks, books, and a school marm.
Here and there you can find pictures of this small town when it wasn't so small. When it had a Main Street full of store fronts, an opera house, and a Waldorf.
I try, once a year, to escape being grown up in the city to the small town during the Threshing Bee. To see the town, to see the people, and to see the spectacle that is the Threshing Bee.
Especially the steam engines.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
My mom always told me that I have a look that I give people when I'm particularly perturbed that could peel paint. I, myself, have never seen it, but it must be somewhat effective because it seems to stop people in their tracks.
The other day after work, I'm waiting for the bus, as I do daily. As I'm waiting, I am approached by a man saying "can you spare a quarter? I need to catch a bus to [I have no idea where the fuck he said he wants to go because I've heard these two sentences innumerable times and I know damned well that he's just bothering people for change.]" I give my standard response "I don't carry any cash." Usually, that's enough. And usually, I'm not on the phone.
This time, though, I AM on the phone talking to my mother. I'm polite enough to respond, placing my hand over the receiver, and talking just loud enough for him to hear.
And this time, it's NOT enough. The guy asks me again. I tip my head and glare, then point to the phone, and mouth "seriously?" The guy's eyes widen and he covers his mouth, makes a gesture of apology, and can't move away fast enough.
I'll have to keep that in my arsenal.
That being said, this guy was just some kid/young adult doing what others do, not because they're mentally ill or homeless, or truly desperate. I think it's mostly because someone needs to spank them for intentionally taking advantage of the good will of others when they have the ability to provide for themselves.
Not everyone is so "lucky." There are a lot of people who have taken up harassing commuters and city visitors who need something other than discipline. These people need support and systemic change. These are the kind of people that current political trends are trying to sweep under the carpet, pretending they don't exist or that their lives aren't affected by the short-sighted policy lawmakers make. These are the kind of people who, with one misstep on their part or ours as a society, appear on the streets to make your experience at the opera or a baseball game uncomfortable.
Fortunately, thoughtful policy can help get some, if not many, of these people back into stable lives. And back out of your hair. (Proof: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/03/03/minneapolis-crimes-panhandling/) While the former is more important, the latter is, unfortunately, what most people care about.
So, when you're counting your pennies and asking whether what you spend in taxes is money well spent, if you don't think about the good you can do for that individual suffering from schizophrenia on the street, at least think of the freedom you have from walking in those painfully high-heeled shoes too quickly because you want to get past that dirty-looking panhandler as quickly as possible.
Then, vote accordingly.
Friday, September 9, 2011
If I am watching a movie or TV and my boyfriend isn't in the room and he hears me laugh, he automatically assumes that someone in the movie or TV show got hurt. Heh. He's usually right.
Being a science geek and a sadist, I've come up with this math problem:
If an up escalator has a slope of 30 degrees and a hight of 16 feet, and a person on the escalator weighs 150 pounds, at what point on the escalator does the person have to clutz out for me to enjoy watching their sorry ass fall down forever? How clumsy do they have to be? Keep in mind that gravity has a constant acceleration of 32.2 ft/s^2.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
The loud noises do nothing at all. I'm pretty sure this proves that they're not really cats. They don't startle. Not very often, anyway, and not due to loud noises. They simply look at us as if to say "yeah, I'd like to see you get off your ass and do something about it."
Water spray. They laugh at water spray. Sure, they stop. Briefly. Then clean themselves and go back to marauding on the counter. The only good news is that the dishes are often almost clean before they get put into the dishwasher.
Canisters of air? Eh. They're scary, but you have to actually be around to catch them doing shit before they're effective. And even then, they're temporary.
Canisters of air run off of a motion sensor? Yes, they exist. They do work...until the air runs out. Then they're not so scary that the cats aren't willing to at least test them. The problem is, I have two versions. One version simply sprays air. This is only semi-effective and the air cans are expensive. The other version sprays air and beeps. This one is more effective, but the air cans are holy hell expensive and only available online. Grr. Plus, you can only invest $40-$50 apiece before canister refills so many times and the cats know this. Two motion sensor air sprayers leave the coverage of various surfaces somewhat thin. Oh, and they work almost as effectively to scare humans.
Time outs? Uh huh. "meowmeowmeow *scratchscratchscratch* meowmeowmeow *scratchscratchscratch*" ad nauseum. Once you open the door, while they don't exactly make a beeline to bad stuff, they don't take many detours.
So, I think we're down to the last resort...an electrified mat. It's SUPPOSED to be a permanent deterrent. We'll see...
Scat Mat http://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-ScatMat-Electronic-Training--20-Inch/dp/B0007NTBJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315528452&sr=8-1
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
We talk a lot, we drink a lot, and sometimes we even discuss books a lot. We respect everyone else and so we respect everyone else's books and everyone else's opinions on the books. And when we're done discussing the books, we bond.
There are so many "best things" about this book club. Probably the best thing I can think of is the bonding time with other women that once a month. For some, it's a way to find a new book they wouldn't have otherwise read and to see what someone else thought. For some, it's a way to have some adult conversation without the kids or the spouse. And for some, it's a source of life lessons and first-hand advice from someone with a different perspective or experience.
One of my favorite experiences in the book club is when the woman who hosts the book club secretly informed us that her mother, who is also a book club member, would be having a major birthday and invited us all to the surprise party.
We, of course, felt like we should help celebrate with a gift. Knowing that her mother was never really interested in reading before joining book club and has since discovered the joys of reading, if not simply the joys of a girls night out once a month, we felt that we should signify our love of her with a gift that reflected our role in her life and her role in ours.
I suggested a Kindle.
Surprisingly, it didn't take much convincing. Although her mother could take or leave most technology, it was pretty universally agreed that the Kindle would be a great gift because it's simple, it's light, it doesn't require lots of book shelves, and the text can be adjusted to get around any issues with small print.
It was up to me to do the research, so I did. As I did the research, I was even more convinced that it was the right choice.
(And I was convinced that I wanted one, too.)
Upon finishing my research, we pooled our money together and bought her the Kindle DX with a 9.7" display (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002GYWHSQ/ref=s9_simh_bw_p349_d0_g349_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-3&pf_rd_r=0Y5KMQQCRB41SX7TTQ2Q&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1294530842&pf_rd_i=133141011).
All in secret during our monthly club meetings with her present.
The surprise was a success. And so was the Kindle! She uses it for all the books for which a Kindle version is available.
After all of this, I find myself finding more and more reasons to get one for myself. Of course, the 4 bookcases full of books is a great incentive!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Now, I have an aging American vehicle. It's still in good shape, and with the exception of having to replace the camshaft timing sensor (which was a painful, miserable fix, but I did it myself for only a few dollars), it's been pretty trouble free. Of course, as I've mentioned, it's only got 70k miles on it and it's pushing 11 years old.
Still, even at relatively low mileage, things start dying simply due to age, and I don't have a ton of spare cash to throw at my car should she take an unexpected nosedive.
One thing that I've learned about cars is that knowledge is the best discount you can get on repairs.
I learned this with Delilah, my old '85 Buick Park Avenue. Now, SHE was high maintenance. I wish I had known more about Delilah. It would have been great to know exactly what was wrong with her, then at least know what it SHOULD cost to fix her at a mechanic, if not actually fix her myself. It would have saved me a lot of pain and anguish as a poor (female) college student with an aging, eccentric car.
That's where CarMD comes in. For $119, you get a car computer reader, something that you can get for a price as low as $27. Of course, $27 does not guarantee that it will work with your car. The model I found for $27 (plus shipping) stated that it may not work with a list of several vehicles, mostly imports. The CarMD reader will work on all OBDII vehicles--almost all gasoline-powered vehicles made since 1996.
The CarMD reader is easy to use, too. I plugged it into my car's reader port (under the dash on the Intrepid), and turned the key to the "on" (not "start") position, and waited for 4 quick beeps. It took about 30-45 seconds. Then, I turned the key to off, and unplugged the reader from my car. Analysis done.
A nice thing about the CarMD reader is that, once it's done reading, one of three LED lights will light up. A green light means that you can probably skip hooking up to your home computer because your car's computer is reporting no issues. A yellow light indicates that there is a pending problem or your car's diagnostic monitors have not run all of their tests--you might want to check into that. A red light means that your car requires service. Mine was green.
Here's the best part. For the $119 you spend on CarMD, you don't just get the reader. You get a plain English explanation of what the car codes that your car's computer reports to the reader means. The CarMD reader, once the software is installed on your computer, and the reader subsequently plugged in, will communicate the information to your home computer and the CarMD website. From there, you can find out what a code means, potentially diagnose the problem, find out what can be done to fix it, and get cost estimates for repair.
Or, use it to check a car before you buy it. You just need to have the VIN for any vehicle you want to get a diagnostic on (up to 3 cars can be registered for up to 6 monthly online diagnostics). Of course, if you get a green light, you don't actually have to run a diagnostic. Freebie!!
There is an additional option that you can subscribe to for just under $30 that gets you a few more things, including technical service bulletins for your registered cars.
You can read about CarMD on their website www.carmd.com. In addition, feel free to visit this website to get $30 off the CarMD system (limited time offer) http://www.carmd.com/bzz. Or, you can try to win a CarMD tool on the CarMD Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/carmd.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Today, we went to the Renaissance Festival. My guy was dressed in regular clothes, since we have not yet put together a costume for him. I was dressed in a gorgeous red getup made by Sandy at M'Lord and Tailors. I was asked if I was the queen by one little boy. I was asked to have my photograph taken by a man with a very nice camera (maybe I'll find myself on one of the RenFest photo pages). I was addressed by 3 women in matching dresses offering to buff my cleavage. I was told that my dress was beautiful/gorgeous/pretty countless times. And I was even called a weapon of mass seduction and threatened to be wrapped in duct tape.
The only thing I hate about going to the RenFest dressed up is that you're kind of expected to talk in some olde English accent. Uh. I suck at that. So I talk plainly or not at all.
Poor Brandon, in his plainclothes, got called a liability, a peasant, and lucky.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
So, of my two cats, Coyote is a joker. This morning, after I took my shower, Coyote meows and jumps between the shower curtains. So I call to her. She hops into the wet tub and wanders around and jumps back out. She soon jumps back onto the edge of the tub as I'm wrapping my hair in a towel and donning my robe, and gets between the curtain. So I call her in, again. She hops in, as she often does, then does the stretchpickmeup move.
So, I pick her up.
She purrs and wriggles and then climbs onto my shoulders. That's usually Gandalf's move, but ok.
So, I begin petting her and she insists on being petted at both ends, wrapping her tail around my face. Hehe. I do so, then open the curtain and sit down at the edge of the tub. She eventually slinks into my lap and stretches out, purring loudly. I oblige by scritching her and petting her. I'm in no hurry.
Then, back up on my shoulders. Except this time, she sits on her haunches right behind my neck so I have to crane my head forward and then she rests her upper body on top of my head. Boy, did I wish I had a camera. She starts to pretend to bite the towel on my head, first one side, then the other. She then discovers that a bit of hair is peeking out from under my towel and starts "combing" it with her claws and teeth, careful not to scratch my neck. When she's done, she "brrrs" and takes off, out of the bathroom.
I'm pretty sure that she wishes she liked water. Sometimes she gets into the tub after I've taken a bath. And before I've drained it.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Well, today I get a phone call on my cell phone from a phone number that registers as 49 on the caller ID (how does anyone get around caller ID these days?). I answer the phone, and get an automated message saying that my debit card has been inactivated and that I should push 1 to get it reactivated. Uh...this is new. I hesitate, unwilling to push 1, but thinking that the message might repeat. Then I think, "of course it's not going to repeat, the recording sounded like it was pirated from maybe 10 other recorded messages and pasted together. They were lucky to get it in English." Of course, it also occurs to me that there's little I can do about a call without caller ID or anything else to pass on to the police.
So, I call my bank to see what they know about this. "All of our agents are currently busy. The wait is currently more than 10 minutes. Please wait and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received." *boring music* Waitwaitwait. *boring music*
Well, crap, I'll look online. I can do that while I listen to boring music. Sure enough, this very phone call has been reported to various credit unions. But not a single hit anywhere near the top of the Google search from a big bank. I bank at a big bank. Surely this can't be only a small bank issue. Or maybe only the small banks (and the Better Business Bureau) care enough to put something online. *hang up on big bank's boring music*
Or maybe individuals are actually targeted by their phone numbers and the scam artists have moved on to larger bank customers. I certainly hope this call was random and not that Verizon's sold my phone number or some sales clerk slaving away at some thankless retail job isn't collecting phone numbers... I must remember to be nice next time I shop at Macy's.
Moral of the story, NEVER blindly follow instructions from an unsolicited communication regarding your finances, regardless of how you were contacted. And if you do press 1, for God's sake, don't give them your account or Social Security number! Oh, and maybe it's time to switch to a small bank.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I feel pretty bad for this spider as I'm driving along. I feel a bit guilty for advertising my car as a great place to live, even though I probably wasn't even the one that let him in because he probably simply snuck in via the door frame because the door seals are going to hell. But I'm a tad depressed anyway.
Then I see a mosquito buzzing around in my windshield. And I feel a little less guilty.