January 28, 2008

Google, Email, Parenting

Look at the Google logo today. You can hover your mouse over the logo to see what the occasion is. Hat tip to my husband :-) Oh, and if you look at this post later than the day I published it, you may be able to find the logo I was referring to on the previous Google Holiday Logos page. You might want to take a peek anyway - I've missed a lot of them and they're fun to see.

UPDATE: seems like they don't show the minor fun logos, just the major holidays on that historical page. So here is what I was referring to: the 50th anniversary of the Lego Brick. I can't find where the non-major logos are kept in an orderly fashion anywhere. Let me know if you find a collection.

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Karen Hancock writes fascinatingly and with deep thoughts about the novel-writing and -editing process. I liked this post, Overcoming the Email Addiction.

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For some reason, this piece circulating the internet choked me up. Anyone want to claim authorship? I'd love to attribute it to the writer. Thanks to my friend Rose who emailed it to me:

PARENT: Job Description

POSITION: Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma, Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop

JOB DESCRIPTION: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment.
Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.
Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities!
Travel expenses not reimbursed.
Extensive courier duties also required.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life.
Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.
Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.
Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.
Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.
Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.
Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.
Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.
Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.
Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.
Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required unfortunately.
On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis..

WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them!
Offering frequent raises and bonuses.
A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.
When you die, you give them whatever is left.
The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

BENEFITS: While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right..

If you are fortunate enough you will become grandparents!

January 28, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007

My Silhouette on My Screen

SilhouetteonscreenI was helping a kid with something by my bedside and David took this photo of the shadow of my face lit by my bedside lamp, cast on my laptop screen.

September 6, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 17, 2007

Iris Recognition Immigration System at Heathrow

I mentioned before leaving the U.S. that the kids and I would be trying out the U.K's new Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) for the first time, to reenter our country of residence with more ease. Well, it was beyond fabulous. Unspeakably wonderful and awe-inspiring.

We got to glance at the snaking queue of maybe 200-300 people waiting to be dealt with by a border agent, ignore it, turn left into a lane without a single soul in it, stare into a screen for a few seconds, and walk on through, without so much as showing a passport or immigration card. There are only two drawbacks:

1) I felt badly for all the people standing in the lines and hoped they weren't resentful towards me, sort of cutting ahead (although I didn't use up any of their staff)


2) The luggage wasn't as fast as we were, so we had to wait for it to arrive for a while. But at least we weren't shuffling slowly forward for 45 minutes. Just standing in place for about 10 minutes.

I highly recommend this totally non-invasive, kind of fun, new technology that saves everyone involved a lot of time. I hope they install it at Washington Dulles very very soon. Who knows.

Update 18 Aug: Melene asked in the comments if the timing worked out for my husband and me to meet up at Heathrow, with David flying from San Francisco, and the kids and I travelling from Washington, arriving 15 minutes apart from each other and sharing a taxi home: YES! Very cool. Because of the IRIS smoothness upon arrival (and b/c our flight was slightly early), the kids and I had time to order a little breakfast at an airport café before David arrived. We had only just begun eating when he showed up at the table.

August 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 23, 2007

Now I'm Smiling

...David is working from home today (as he has a few Fridays now - a nice blessing and reprieve from his usual 2.5 hours of daily commute). Together on his lunch hour we put together a batch of fudge brownies with walnuts, pecans and almonds...it's baking now...I like cooking with David. Even if he does take a long time relishing the thought of each recipe before settling on one, while I am chafing to get going on the thing. It's kind of charming, actually (don't tell him I said that; oops, he reads my blog).

I said to him as we were putting the finishing touches on the brownies, "We've been living together a long time now. But not long enough." I really like him.

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Now I feel like I'm twittering in my blog. Sorry, I think you can only read the stuff at that link if you sign up for a twitter account yourself (which I only did so I could read Julie's, Ted's, Enoch's, and Chatterboy's twittering). I heard about it at Julie's blog; I do think it is a bit of TMI (last definition), but can/could be fun at times, for the detailed-information-maniac-people who have however gotten over their compulsive-need-to-keep-things-up-constantly and only-do-it-when-it's-fun.

March 23, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 20, 2007

Setting the Time

How to set the time on a British Telecom Freelance XD 510 telephone-answering-machine, in case you ever need to:

- Press the Menu Button twice and then press zero twice, and then the star key (perfectly intuitive so far?).

- At the prompt, press a number for the day of the week (starting with 1 for Sunday), then immediately the four-digit representation of the time on a 24-hour clock.

- That's it. Easy peasy, if you know how.

It took me 7 months in this house to get irritated enough to find out how to set the time. It is nice to know when callers left their message, given that the machine has the capability (but was thus far spouting incorrect times picked out of a hat).

It only took me about 10 seconds to find the manual online (the phone belongs to our landlords), and another 30 seconds to perform the prescribed actions. Life is funny.

February 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 25, 2006


Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch: a Welsh town with one of the longest names in the world, AND quite possibly the longest URL on the web? (and yes, I copied and pasted that)

Answers.com tells us that:

A translation into English would yield "St Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave".

[The name] was artificially contrived in the 1860s to bestow upon the [train] station the honour of having the longest name of any railway station in the United Kingdom: an early example of a publicity stunt.

If you must know, the pronunciation is here.

Oh, and I discovered it's NOT the longest valid URL on the web: http://www.abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdefghijk.com/ is (where you can sign up for a free email address at that domain...hmmmm). Apparently you can have a maximum of 63 characters in the domain name. So they stress that this is only the longest "alphabetical" domain name because it would actually tie with any other 63-character domain names. Whereas the welsh town site has only 58 letters. Or 51 in Welsh.

I may have first read of this town at Joel's blog. I think I saw it somewhere else as well, but I can't remember where.

June 25, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 06, 2006

Cars, Balls, and Photo Dating

Unfortunately, we got a parking ticket the other day. We forgot to put any money in the meter. Actually, we didn't even realize we had to on a weekend day. We should have checked. The interesting part was looking at the ticket and seeing which are the seven most popular car makes in France (the ones for which the officer only has to place a checkmark, rather than having to write out the name). Ours, a VW, made the list. The other six were Renault, Peugeot and Citroën (of course, since they are all French companies), Fiat, Opel and (get this) Ford! I have been surprised to see so many Ford cars here in France. There are very few Toyotas and even fewer Hondas here.

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Time for some French vocabulary.

- BAL means ball
- BALLE means ball
- BALLON means ball
- BOULE means ball

All clear? Okay, okay, let's try that again.

- UN BAL means a ball as in a fancy dancing occasion
- UNE BALLE means a ball as in tennis, ping-pong or golf OR a bullet OR slangily one Franc, the old currency
- UN BALLON means a big hollow playground-type ball (e.g. to kick around) OR a round wine glass OR a balloon
- UNE BOULE means a billiard ball OR a snowball (boule de neige) OR a scoop of ice cream

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I finally changed the time zone on my camera. It took me many months to figure that one out. I.e. that photos taken too early in the morning here were dated the previous day in iPhoto (since we are 9 hours ahead of California). What clued me in was that David's birthday breakfast photos didn't seem to be taken on his birthday, as I was certain they were. I've got that under control now. Looking in David's iPhoto, I see he took care of his camera back in October but somehow I didn't get the memo.

March 6, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 16, 2006

Free Graphing Site

I just discovered a cool free graphing site. Simply by typing "graph" into google. The user interface was easy and helpful.

So I tried it out with the data of Christmas cards received this season, for fun:

Got any graphs you'd like to make?

P.S. Thanks everyone who sent us a card - we relished them, and appreciate the extra effort put forth to get them to us way over here across the ocean. It was fun to get three more today!

January 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 11, 2005

Ils se moquent de qui?

...or, The Proverbial Run-Around (that's not a translation; read on).

Jason's cell phone service stopped. A recorded message said the owner information wasn't properly registered, and we should take it back to the store where we bought it. I did. They took all our details and reentered them into their computer, which promptly protested that it was already registered, so couldn't be reregistered. The lady with the long black eyelashes, Isabelle, there at the tech center of LeClerc, told me her "job was done," and she would leave me to call Orange and sort things out with them. She did let me use her phone, which was kind. But they were too busy to answer, and I couldn't get through.

So I called again when I got home. Orange customer service told me the phone wasn't registered, and there was "nothing they could do about it." They sincerely counseled me to return to the store to get it registered. Catch-22?

Fortunately, I happened to have overheard the direct number of Isabelle while waiting in the store, so I called her up and explained the "progress" of the situation, at which point the title of this post comes onto the scene. "Ils se moquent de qui?" she asked me. Which means, "Who are they kidding?" or "Who are they making fun of?" or "Over whose eyes are they trying to pull the wool?" I told her I didn't know, but could she please call her distributor customer service to see what was up with her registration problems.

She did, called me back, took my address and birthdate again (for the third time, if you count the original purchase), and told me in 48 hours the problem should be solved, if I just sit tight. I just want my son to be able to call me if he has an unplanned pick-up need (a teacher is sick, there's a weather red alert like the first week of school, etc). We'll get there, and in the meantime we'll make do with a wireless prayer connection. After all, my parents and I did perfectly well without cell phones the whole time I grew up...

October 11, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Internet Connection Update

We've made a little progress. We've been using an AOL dial-up line which costs per minute, and also is e x t r e e e e e e e e m e l y s s s s s s s s l o w w w w w w w w w w w w w. So I only use it once or twice a day, for a simple upload/download. Better than the hotel parking lot, which had a clandestine feel to it, though it was much faster (if you don't count the drive time, or maybe even if you do).

Yesterday we received in the mailbox (to which the postman apparently has a key, which is news to me but I vaguely remember as a possibility) a beautiful brown package with the DSL box in it. Our hopes were dashed, though, for getting online properly last night, since the service doesn't appear to be working yet. Back to the three week wait thing I guess.

There are 31 photos I have chosen, cropped, named, and exported from iPhoto to my blog photos folder on the desktop, and want to post, but with the current upload conditions, we'll have to take it slowly!!!

I'll start with the approach to our village:

July 9, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack