Posts tagged ‘irene’

2011/09/10

Saturday

So I am sitting here writing this as a passenger while the little daughter drives her car, if you can believe it.

Many many things have happened, and even are still happening; some of them I will write about later when they are more culminated. I spent threeish days of Labor Day week in airports-and-hotels-and-raised-floor land, sitting around waiting for something to go wrong that I might be needed to help with, and nothing did, which was good but extremely dull, because for much of the time I had no network connection nor any of my computers, and not enough printed out on paper to occupy the time.

The little daughter, as suggested above, now has her very own car, a natty little 2007 Nissan Sentra that we saw sitting at our local Nissan dealer with used-car price-numbers on the windshield, but when we made up our minds to probably buy it, and went there, the dealer had no idea what it was doing there, and said it wasn’t one of theirs, and didn’t we want something more expensive instead. (This is a good story, so I will continue it into a whole nother paragraph.)

We didn’t want any of the more expensive ones, and went home, but someone not me remembered there had been a URL on the license plate frame of the car, and we went there and the car was actually there on the website, and eventually we bought it. (For anyone in the area, Hudson Auto Traders is a very nice two or three vaguely Slavic young guys in a clean little shack by the side of the road, with a couple of desks and computers and lots of cars sitting around for sale, and they handle all the license and registration stuff, and wash the car very nicely for turning over, and the reason it was sitting at the Nissan dealer was that a service light had come on and they’d taken it to the service department for a new transmission, which is a good thing in a used car.)

So anyway now we are taking the little daughter back to school for her Senior Year of College, and M and the little boy are driving in the big car with most of the stuff, and the little daughter is driving her car with the fridge and the old TV and the beer and some shoes and things, and I am sitting here writing in my weblog, and helping her with her highway driving by gasping and making panicky little motions whenever she does anything dangerous, like driving on the same road as other cars. We are listening to Spanish music on th’ car radio.

There is a thirty-foot dumpster in our driveway back there at home, from Mr. Cheapee Carting, and it is surprisingy (and almost entirely) full of stuff that we have and don’t want. A fair fraction of the stuff was rendered (even) less desirable by being soaked in six inches of water in the basement; the rest is just stuff we realized we don’t want even in a dry condition, and Julian and Antoine hauled out and tossed in. It’s supposed to be removed on Monday.

In one of the ancient decaying cabinets that are now in the dumpster, M found a cache of books, mostly paperback SF, presumably placed there by me in the distant past. Once we’re home again maybe I will type them in, ’cause we like lists of random books here. M’s comment was that in the one place she would not have expected to find books, there were books.

(This is fun! says the little daughter, zipping down Interstate 287 South.)

There are a couple of industrial-strength fans in the basement, drying out the last few wet patches on the amazingly empty cement floor, and Julian and Antoine and their boss (boss-of-the-moment, perhaps) Manny have applied professional-strength disinfectants to discourage mold and fungus and other microorganisms that flourish in dampish basements.

My trip into airport-and-hotel-and-raised-floor land was complicated rather by the storms and tornadoes around Atlanta, in which city’s airport I was originally to change planes. After the airline drove me at their own expense from one airport to another one an hour away, I discovered that I was still not scheduled to arrive at my ultimate destination until the next morning, which was not According to Plan. Fortunately when I wailed about this to the gate agent, she said “oh, well, there is a direct flight to your ultimate destination leaving from that gate there in fifteen minutes, do you want to take that?”, and I did, and that simplified things considerably.

I have my third over-80 character in WoW (did I already say that?), a sore-faced Dren paladin named Spaenorus. “Sore-faced” is a joke, referring to the notional rolling of the face across the keyboard that WoW players invoke to imply that something is easy.

And WoW is easy! I think it’s that they’ve accelerated their “make everything easier, to increase new-user retention” policy, rather than that I’m just an awesomely skilled player haha. But, just for a fun-story example, there’s this semi-boss that’s level 80ish Elite, and after doing a quest chain you get the ability to set off these runes that he is foolishly walking around on, which do him lots of damage when activated. So I decided to see if I can vanquish and/or defeat him without using the runes, and I was able to do it handily, finishing with full health and mana, and the only reason I even had to use my Lay On Hands cooldown was (this is the good part) that halfway through the battle I got disconnected from the server, and when I got back in he was at full health again and I was at like 1%; but I had no serious trouble recovering from that and winning, still without using any of the runes.

If you made a graph of how hard WoW is now, it would stay flat at “push two or three buttons repeatedly until you win” all the way from level 1 to level 85, go up to “have some idea what you’re doing” in the last few level 85 instances, hit “optimize your gear and think about rotations” in heroic level 85 content, and then “actually be in a well-prepared and skillful and well-geared group, and do the right things” only at the very highest level 85 large-group raids.

Which means that hitting the advanced 85 content is quite a shock for people who’ve just been facerolling for their whole WoW lives, and random PUGs (pick-up groups) can get pretty ugly.

But presumably that effect doesn’t hurt user retention or revenue, or they wouldn’t do it? It’s a funny world!

Anyway, the little daughter is now all safely installed at school, and after a great sushi and tempura dinner, I have driven the rest of us home in the big car, and we are watching the second men’s semifinal of the U.S. Tennis Open, which involves tennis.

Ah, and here are the random books M rescued from the basement!

Star Trek: Vulcan’s Glory. A Star Trek novel, likely involving a Vulcan or two. And some glory.

The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West, by Mary Stanton. “If you loved Watership Down… this is the book for you”.

Piper at the Gate, by Mary Stanton. “The exciting sequel to The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West.”

Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad. Famous!

The Loud Halo, by Lillian Beckwith. Apparently stories about life on a Hebridean island, with complimentary jacket-blurb from The Daily Scotsman, and an old sticker saying “PF50”.

“How to Parent”, by Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson. Hahaha a bit late there. Given my general disdain for parenting books, I’m especially baffled by this one.

The Teachings of the Mystics, by Walter T. Stace, a Mentor Book, 1960.

The Celtic Twilight, and a selection of early poems, by W. B. Yeats. (I wonder if there’s a digital edition of that.)

Beneath the Wheel, by Hermann Hesse. His second novel.

Mars, by Ben Bova. Many many pages.

The Peter Principle, by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his [sic] level of incompetence.” Bantam edition published February 1970.

Dayworld, by Philip Jose Farmer. A SF novel.

And finally, not a book, “Joy to the World, Three Dog Night, their greatest hits”. This is a primitive plastic device, with many moving parts, called a “tape cassette”. Ancient legends say that they were once used to record audio tracks, like a strange mechanical iPod; but if so, the method of extracting the recorded sound is long lost to science.

A satisfyingly odd collection, I’d say… :)

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2011/08/31

Offlining

It’s odd being offline. Not that I’m entirely, or even primarily, offline. But I am significantly offline, and that’s significant.

(Hm, I don’t know how to control emphasis in this WordPress iPad app; pretend “significantly” is in italics, or HTML emphasis tags, in that previous paragraph, ‘kay?)

Sometime on ummm Sunday? Yeah, M confirms that it was Sunday, at about fourish PM, just when we were getting smug about the Enormous Hurricane having passed us with minimal damage to anything but a few hundred leaves forcibly removed from trees, the power suddenly went out.

And it’s still out! Many minutes, even days, later! And so is the Internet connection!

Meanwhile, in the basement, the half-inch of water that I figured would be our tenuous bond with people who had actual problems from the storm, got a bit over five inches deep before it started down again, and there’s still a good three inches down there. Which means, among other things, no hot water. And lots of very wet basement-stuffs.

And we still don’t have actual problems. :)

I mean, no trees fell on the house or cars, no one was injured in any way, no one is sick, and Panera has power and Internet, and work has power and Internet, and for that matter our cellphones have power (as long as they get to work or Panera now and then) and Internet (annoying and probably sneakily expensive and tiny-screened as they are, being nice primitive low-function cellphones), and there’s no water in the house anywhere but the basement, and so on and so on.

The iPad has a nice long battery life. (Especially given Panera, work, etc.)

And I’m getting pretty good at Sudoku.

I’m also reading some old-fashioned paper books, by flashlight and atmospheric candle-light, as well as some of the books cached on the device here, by the intrinsic glow of the screen. And getting to sleep (much) earlier.

But I do miss Second Life, and WoW, and all of that there virtual online stuff. (I did sneak into SL for a couple of minutes on my work laptop, during a boring conference call, to check on my virtual plants; the virtual sprinkler has been working fine and they are virtually healthy, and producing little virtual cuttings for virtual hybridization, although I could swear that I ought to have had another second-virtual-generation virtual hybrid by now and I didn’t notice one, grumble grumble.)

I’ve keeping up with virtual events to an extent by reading Dale’s Twitter feed; but it’s not really about the events. It’s more about putting one’s feet up at the end of a tiring day, and falling through the screen into a place where there is no PowerPoint, and no office politics, and you can fly, and fight the bad guys (ha, I can’t even remember that big Bad Guy group’s name; the Cult of Something, I think), and create a zeppelin with your mind and all.

And in the case of Second Life getting to talk to all those fascinating friends and not-yet-friends, and in the case of WoW getting to be pretty much completely antisocial, except for groups of random strangers and now and then a group of vaguely-known guildies to gang up on the unsuspecting and infinitely reborn evil monsters. (Some people get very social on WoW (see for instance the very funny and memorable “The Guild” web video series that I would link to if I weren’t offline), but I’m not one of them; SL is my virtual social, and Zeppelin-creating, place. WoW is for introversion!)

And (what’s with all of these “and”s?) I can’t do any of that stuff right now. But really it’s not too bad. Fasts of all kinds are good for the soul, in moderation, and this way I’m forced to enjoy the good old-fashioned offline things.

Well…

Good old-fashioned offline things including this iPad, that is. :)

(P.S. Weird Al’s “Genius in France” is a (begin emphasis)very(end emphasis) odd track. Is there some back-story there, or is he just being… weird? Maybe I will look it up next time I am in Panera…)

(P.P.S. “Twilight’s Hammer”, that’s it!)

(P.P.P.S. And the health club also has power and Internet, and now the water is just over one inch, but the water heater still won’t stay lit…)

2011/08/26

Storm a’comin’!

There is a huge hurricane more or less approaching, and it is very exciting!

We have gone around the outside of the house, grouping things into categories:

  • Things that there are alot of, and the storm will probably blow them around, but it doesn’t really matter (sand grains, leaves, sticks, squirrels, etc), which we leave where they are,
  • Things that there are only a few of, but that are hard to move and if the storm manages to blow them around we will have already fled the area (the house, the garage, large boulders, that wooden deck-thing in the back yard), which we also leave where they are,
  • And finally things in between, primarily lawn furniture and plant-pots and like that, all of which we have now stuffed precariously into the garage.

So having done that (and also M having gone to the local Warehouse Store and bought large quantities of various things, and me having dropped off my car at the shop for Regular Maintenance and asked the service lady to have it done tomorrow before the roads become impassable although I’m not sure she actually wrote that down), we are now safe from the storm, and the things on the news, like the evacuation of New York City and all, just add to the excitement.

Citizens residing in the vicinity of secret underground bio-weapon research labs should avoid contact with flood waters, which may contain genetically-engineered viruses capable of converting ordinary humans into flesh-eating zombies.

(If anyone fleeing Manhattan due to the zombie onslaught could post a quick Tweet to give us in the suburbs a little extra warning, it’d be great; thanks! We want to be prepared, like these people.)

(We note with alarm and delight that the CDC actually has anti-Zombie posters. Good to know the government is on its toes!)

If you observe black FEMA vans slowly cruising nearby streets with the lights off, spraying something into the air out of silent nozzles, and dragging people from their homes, you are experiencing stress-induced hallucinations; report to the nearest FEMA van for counseling.

(The adorable cat is also very excited, because there is a small fly in the house! This is at least as exciting to her as the prospect of a major hurricane, cats not being really big on mere prospects in general.)

Rabbi Yehuda Levin blames hurricane Irene on negative reaction of everyone on the East Coast to his blaming the recent earthquake on gay rights legislation.

(In other news, he is an enormous douchebag, to use the technical term.)

And although it isn’t directly hurricane-related, I’d like to hear what the Tea Party has to say about word that the same Republicans who think it’s critical to extend the Bush tax cuts for billionaires are opposed to extending tax cuts for working people. Where’s the rage and the quaint hand-made signs now, eh?

Sheesh.

(As a possible antidote to that thought, here are many pictures of nude persons; most, I’m afraid, female and in need of a few hamburgers, but what can one do, eh?)

This is just like th’ old days! Posting random things for no particular reason, and boldfacing various phrases!

Woot!

(We also have a sandbag on the front porch; I hear these are useful in floods and hurricanes and things. Although I think people generally end up using more than one.)