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The Firebyrd
14 September 2017 @ 08:43 pm
Tonight, right before Enoch began saying his prayer, he let out a loud belch. He and Bea rolled on the ground laughing over it until I chased her to bed and got him to calm down enough to say his prayer. It did not leave his mind, however, as during his prayer, he asked, "Please bless me to have even more amazing burps at the most inconvenient times." I can't think of a more appropriate phrase for someone of his demographic.
The Firebyrd
05 October 2016 @ 01:55 pm
It's been too long since I've posted. Most things that happen, Eric posts about and so I tend to feel pretty meh about getting around to writing about it from my point of view. What happened last Friday deserves my own post, though.

My friend David, the shaman Yablik in my guild, died.
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I'm feeling rather...: sadsad
The Firebyrd
31 December 2014 @ 03:50 pm
This would have come out in time for Christmas, had it not been for some unforeseen logistical problems. But here is our annual report on the well-being of our household for 2014.

Our dear amazon Houdini said buh-bye for the last time this year. He had been told he was living on borrowed time six years ago, so while we'll miss him, we're grateful for all the time we've had together.

After eleven years with us, Salem came to the end of his road. We were all very sad to see him go. He never told us how many lives he had left, but no matter how many remain, we hope they all are good ones.

We got a dog, because sometimes Eric gets outvoted. Bea wanted to name her Violet. Enoch wanted to name her that too, but kept calling her Vomit. So we chose Posey, since both kids could pronounce it correctly.

Fred is still here on indefinite loan. He doesn't step up yet, but for a bird whose purpose was breeding, he has grown quite fond of us.

When bald eagles become extinct, Bonk is prepared to step in as our national bird: the yellow-crested partially bald eagle.

No one has missed Houdini here more than Casey. We've been patient and empathetic, and are happy to see that she's decided to move forward in life by taking up a new vocation as a cash register technician. If playing with those paper rolls makes her happy, we're all for it.

We were pleased to see Lottie catch a mouse recently, which has given her more access to the basement than any other cat has been granted. Her other highlight of the year has been her alternating hairstyles.

Beatrix started kindergarten, and her interest in drawing has never been greater. She had a falling-out with Zazu-Zazu-bah, unfortunately, but still wishes the unicorns were real.

Math appears to be the subject where Enoch shows the greatest aptitude, so far. He's currently the head of his class, but pushing for scholarships for a seven-year-old is more silly than we can handle, so we're not pressing the issue with anyone.

Fafnir's musical output continues at a steady rate. He was most excited to hear Weird Al Yankovic's latest album, and even more heartened by the apparent decision of Mr. Yankovic to release future music as it's produced, rather than on a record label's timetable.

Klio swears that the loss of two pets earlier this year has nothing to do with her being so into her cups lately. Her philosophical musings have been most enlightening, and her coaching of Enoch in his math studies has been most appreciated.

The midterm elections this year have seen Elvis busier than ever. She almost moved to Washington to be closer to the action and rumors, until we convinced her that her rumor ideas are just as good here as they would be anywhere else.

We're not sure Freya was prepared for the responsibilities of Senior Pet. Her administration, so far, has been one of staying the course, even though that includes a dog who loves everyone despite the cats' reservations.

Everyone has been blessed by the increased interest Ginny has gained for cooking. She also kept her raid guild together without losing a single member during the latest expansion transition, which is no small accomplishment.

Eric observed his tenth anniversary at work this year. Other projects and obligations take as much time as ever from him, and if he could tackle them from home, all the better.

christmas portrait 2014

Despite the losses to our household this year, we expect to grow in exciting ways during this coming year. May the holiday season bring joy to all who celebrate it!
The Firebyrd
03 October 2014 @ 12:23 pm
Here's an excellent article that also shows the problems with the various implementations of "new math" that keep happening in the US.

I'm certainly no "math genius," but I did go as far as a couple of semesters of calculus. I see all these Common Core proponents go on and on about understanding and concepts being so much better than rote learning and it makes me think of math in third grade. That's when we were focused on learning the times tables. We practiced and practiced and practiced. We did problems sets to a timer over and over (and when we did things in some specific fashion, we'd get a swedish fish as a reward). And you know what? After all that, I absolutely understand how multiplication works. I'll admit I don't have instant recall of some of the higher number combinations anymore, but because of that understanding, I can quickly figure out even those (I'll go through some thought process such as, "Oh, I don't remember 7x12. I do remember 5x12=60, so add 2x12 to that and I have 7x12=84." Takes mere moments, and I use the same concepts to break down larger problems to do in my head as well.)

After reading Einstein Never Used Flashcards, I've certainly not been a proponent of things like flashcards. And really, that's not the sort of "rote learning" the author of the article is proposing. There's a big difference between memorizing what's on some cards and actually using the skill by doing it over and over in different ways. Seems to me that, say, learning to read a word by reading sentences in a story that contains that word is going to be a lot more effective than just seeing the word on a flashcard with no context (and while the reading system we're using does have flashcards, I've completely ignored their use, and my kids are doing great. I was informed yesterday that Enoch is reading at an end of first grade level now.).

It absolutely boggles my mind that Common Core seems more interested in things like getting first graders, who are both just learning to read and do math, doing nearly incomprehensible word problems instead of getting them the practice and core skills needed to even make sense of word problems. I can't figure out how someone is supposed to solve a word problem if they don't even have the core concepts learned that are necessary to solve the word problem. Math needs work to learn it (and by extension, many concepts of science, since math is used in so many ways in science). While there are people who have an easier time picking it up, having been in calculus class with people that were gifted enough that they'd been skipped up a math class at some point, they still had to put in the work to understand the stuff. One of them is now an engineer studying lasers for the Air Force-but having sat next to him for half the year, I know very well that while it came a bit easier to him than it did to me, he still worked hard and practiced (and made our teacher work even harder to read his chicken scratch writing to correct his work. I feel for his colleagues if he hasn't improved his penmanship over the years!).

The author of the article is actually teaching a class on learning on Coursera right now.
The Firebyrd
11 August 2014 @ 01:59 am
Tonight at the dinner table we were discussing this and that when Bea randomly popped out this gem:

Bea: "If someone says, "Do you want to smoke?", I'll say, 'Do you want to dance?' Then they'll start dancing and I'll run away!"

Thank you, Queen of the Non sequitur. It was nonsequiturception!
The Firebyrd
22 April 2014 @ 08:10 pm
I should probably write other stuff about Comic Con, but I wanted to get this out there rather than my usual procrastinating. There's an indie movie called Dragon Warriors that is being kickstarted right now. It's completely shot and stars James Marsters as the villain, they just need money to finish the music and effects. They still need a lot more to reach their goal, so even if you can't support it, please pass the word! Their page can be found here.

As James Marsters said in the panel about the movie, now is a great time because the people can vote with their wallets about what gets made instead of it just being decided by gatekeepers in suits with their mansions and swimming pools.
The Firebyrd
07 February 2014 @ 07:01 pm
Well, the Kindle Fire may suck, but Amazon continues to be awesome. The new Fire arrived today despite being scheduled for Saturday. Here's hoping this one holds out. I must say that I remain very pleased with the case I got for it as well. I'd have to look up who I got it from, but it's held up extremely well despite being moved between four devices and handled primarily by kids over the past two years. I've not been happy with the cases I've had for my iPad. The first one was too bulky (though in fairness, since I ordered the mini right after it was released, there was almost nothing available at that point) and the second one I got is now starting to have problems after just six or seven months. It's fraying along the edges and it's come loose on one corner where it's supposed to be holding the iPad in. If I pulled it in and out all the time, I'd understand that, but once I put it in, I've never taken it out of the case, so I'm disappointed. I didn't pay a lot for it, but I didn't pay a lot for the Kindle Fire case either and it's held up beautifully. The iPad case does have a three year warranty, but you have to pay the shipping both to and from the manufacturer, which is clearly a set up, because that ends up being almost as much as a new case. Most people won't bother and that includes me. I'll just not buy from Poetic again.

ETA: Aha! The case I have for the Kindle Fire is a Marware Microshell Folio and they do in fact have one for the iPad now.
The Firebyrd
06 February 2014 @ 11:58 am
The Kindle Fire's charging port went all loosey-goosey so it wouldn't charge. Again. The $42 I spent on the extended warranty just paid for itself, as the last time we got it replaced, it was still barely under the year provided standard by Amazon. This one did better than the old ones, as we did get a year's use out of it, but still, having the port go bad after a year is ridiculous. I should have looked at it earlier, as the kids have been complaining for a few weeks, but thankfully, I did look today, and my warranty runs out on Saturday. I had Amazon call me immediately (as a funny aside, I've always had some anxiety when calling people on the phone, but clicking a website button that tells Amazon to call me instead of vice versa eliminates it) and the guy was super nice. Understood the problem immediately, asked me if I wanted to try one more time or what (I'm not sure what the what would have been, but might as well take advantage of the replacement plan I paid for!), and got everything set up so I'll get the new one on Saturday. Apparently when they send you a new one, you get a three month warranty on the replacement even if your original warranty expires, so that's nice.

I have to wonder how much money they've lost on the Fires. The first person I talked to when I first encountered this problem insisted on running me through a bunch of worthless troubleshooting steps even though the problem was becoming pretty well known (sad, since I think the product was less than six months old at that point). The subsequent times I've called in, though (and I think this will be my fourth Kindle Fire), there's been no arguments, no attempts at troubleshooting. I tell them the charging port is loose and won't work and they send me a replacement.

My Kindle product page is getting a tad ridiculous at this point. I'm on my third Kindle e-reader (though the replacements there have been due to genuine accidents, not bad engineering), Eric's got one on my account, I've got the app registered on my iPad, and then there's the Fire. The current one is named Ginny's 3rd Kindle and I've renamed the others, so I think this next one will just get dubbed #4, but dang.

Needless to say, I do not recommend buying the Kindle Fire. Both versions of the e-readers I've had have been worth every penny (though I do miss the keyboard from my 2nd gen one) and Amazon is a paragon of customer service. But the Kindle Fire is just such garbage. I think the current try at tablets would have flopped as badly as the previous attempts if it had been the Fire leading the vanguard rather than the iPad. It sure hurts to pay as much for a tablet as you could buy a crap off-the-shelf PC or build a decent one yourself, but the quality speaks for itself. I've always hated Apple, but I'm a believer in their mobile devices now (their PCs are still ridiculously overpriced, especially now that they use the same hardware as any other PC for most of them).
The Firebyrd
11 January 2014 @ 02:47 am
I thought I'd overheard Bea say something about Zazu-zazu-bah being dead recently, and today, she told my mom the story in a bit more detail where I could hear more clearly what was going on. According to her, one of her other pet unicorns turned ZZB into a sheep and all the other pet unicorns into sheep and goats. Now she has no unicorns (except for babies, which apparently don't count), and ZZB is dead. I'm not quite sure how turning into a sheep equates dead, but oh well. Both the kids are quite nonchalant about it, to the point where when I started to tell Eric about it tonight, Enoch emphatically told us that she was dead, but the part he was upset about was that I was /questioning/ that fact. My kids are very strange. I would think the death of an imaginary friend would usually be upsetting, but oh well. Apparently one of the baby unicorns is ZZB's baby, so maybe she'll grow up to be like her mom. The whole thing has been so funny that I've grown rather fond of ZZB and will miss hearing about her if she is truly gone. Like in much of fiction, however, the death might not be all that permanent. The octopus she used to carry around in a box started out as an undead octopus and at some point transitioned to being a live one, so maybe we'll end up with a zombie ZZB trying to eat the brains of the various pet horses (which are still around) or something.
The Firebyrd
10 January 2014 @ 10:08 pm
As an update to my mouse situation, I called and sent my proof of purchase to Logitech on January 2nd. The warranty department gave me verification that they'd get me a replacement sent out on January 3rd (a Friday). Monday, January 6th, they generated a UPS shipping label for the new mouse, which got here today, January 10th. So, eight days, including a weekend, from start to finish, and included me getting a brand new mouse of their new model, the G500s. I also didn't have to do anything about shipping crap back to them and spending money and time and all that. In addition, the G500s is a legitimate, equivalent replacement. It actually looks like they're using the exact same mold for the body. The only differences I can see are cosmetic (blue leds on the top rather than red, which matches the rest of my stuff, and a different paint job), so hopefully this means there have been engineering changes on the inside to address the longevity issues. I've still got two years of warranty left, though, so even if not, I'll be good for a while longer. And really, even if they haven't fixed the problem, if this is indicative of their usual warranty process, I honestly won't mind spending $50 every three years for this mouse.

Major, major props to Logitech. Most of my input/output devices are from them, and that's something I'm definitely going to continue, whereas Razer can die in a fire. They keep coming out with cool looking stuff, but after trying to deal with them, I won't give them another cent, which goes to show that treating customers well pays off in the long run.
The Firebyrd
05 January 2014 @ 04:07 am
Enoch just woke up crying just now. I asked him what was wrong, if he had a bad dream, etc. He finally answered that he had a bad dream. I asked him what happened in the dream. He told the most horrifying tale. He said...that he dreamed he wanted ice cream and that we had it but...Dad ate the last of it! Oh noes! Anyone would wake up crying after that dream, right?

The funny thing is that he blamed Eric in the dream. We did have ice cream a few days ago and I ate the last of it last night after the kids were in bed. Tonight after dinner, they asked for some more, and were quite upset to be told it was all gone. But, you know, it was my fault, not Eric's! He even told them about how I didn't even share the last little bit with him, so he's clearly been victimized just as much as they have, but somehow gets the blame and causes the nightmares. :D
The Firebyrd
03 January 2014 @ 02:58 pm
I've used Logitech products since my family's very first computer. They've generally got a good reputation for products that work well for a long time and I've certainly found that to be the case most of the time. I did get a G500 gaming mouse a few years back that started having some weird issues after less than a year of use. Since I'd heard so much singing of praises of the Razer Naga gaming mouse and I felt I needed more buttons anyway, rather than try to get anything sorted out through the warranty or the like, I just bought a Naga. It was missing features the G500 had that I liked (such as being able to flick the middle button side to side for two more buttons), but I mostly got used to it. Then, about six months after getting the Naga, I had one of the buttons break and stop registering use. Now I was getting irritated. Were gaming mice just unable to hold up to any actual use?

I believe I documented my nightmare of trying to get things resolved through Razer's support here at the time, but I'll summarize it anyway. It would take days, sometimes over a week, to get emails from their customer service (and IIRC, they didn't have a number available to call). I had to send my defective mouse to them before they'd do anything. Then they sent me their new model, which had a different layout and had two of the buttons below the middle mouse button. Now, maybe people who do some of the weird claw grips when gaming could reach those. But those of us who use the normal palm grip? That put the buttons at the base of my fingers/beneath my palm, where previously they'd been off to the side of the left mouse button and could be easily hit by moving my index finger slightly to the left (much like a couple of buttons on the G500). I fought with them for weeks trying to get them to give me a functional equivalent to my old mouse as their warranty claimed (I don't think having an different layout with two buttons suddenly inaccessible counts as "functional equivalent"), and while in the end I got them to agree, I just couldn't bear to spend more money to send the stupid thing they sent me back (because of course I had to do that first) and in the meantime I'd gotten used to using my G500 again and decided to just stick with it.

The weird ticks when trying to move and the like showed up again, though, so I just bought another G500, as they were usually available on Amazon for not much more than some of the mice I used to buy from Logitech that would last 5+ years. I figured this time, if I ended up having any issues, I had the old G500 and the stupid Naga hanging around, so I'd be able to deal with warranty crap of sending stuff back and forth while still actually being able to use my computer (after all, surely Razer's practices are standard for the industry, right?).

Fast forward to the past week or so. Less than a year after purchase, my new G500 was acting up. Seemingly at random when I was trying to click on things in games, I'd immediately drop them or other weird stuff. I did some googling and found out that it's actually a really common problem-the mouse has some poor design on the inside and eventually the contact on some part starts getting messed up and clicks frequently register as double-clicks. That suddenly made the weird problems I'd had with the old G500 make sense-I was getting the stuttering when walking because I'd hold down both mouse buttons to walk, but then one of them would suddenly register a double click and stop me. While the new G500 lasted a bit longer before descending to problems in the first place, it quickly got much, much worse than the old one. Soon, about half of all clicks were registering as double-clicks. So I'd try to resize a window and it'd immediately end up back at the original size, or things would get unselected, and so on, and that's not even getting into the nightmare of trying to game with it. I went to Logitech's site and found an article about how if you were experiencing problems with a double-click, you should make sure some Windows setting wasn't on. That made me mad, because this was a documented, well-known hardware problem with things like videos on how to fix it floating around online. I checked the setting just in case, though of course I hadn't randomly set it, and it was only to deal with using single or double-clicks to open up program icons in the first place.

They didn't have a support email, only a non-toll-free number, so I braced myself and called yesterday. Typical annoying phone tree, and I got sent to an Indian call center. Sigh. Thankfully, while the connection was extremely quiet, I got someone that was truly fluent in English and she was willing to go off script to talk to me as if I was a human being (I had some really bad experiences with Comcast lately and their Indian call center where neither was the case). She got the support ticket all made up in a few minutes and wanted me to stay on the phone until the email she sent me and that I needed to reply to with a copy of my receipt arrived to be sure it got there. The "hardest" part of the whole procedure was digging up the receipt from the mass of orders I make on Amazon and then trying to dig up MS Paint since I don't have anything like Photoshop installed at the moment, having not had need since I last reformatted. So I replied with the receipt and soon had a response that the issue had been forwarded to the warranty team. I'd asked if I would have to go through the whole circus of sending my old mouse back, because some of the wording of the script about the possibility of receiving an updated G500s made me wonder if I didn't have to, and she didn't know.

So, having just called support yesterday, today I got to my computer to find that I already had a reply from warranty support. I would in fact be receiving the new G500s (which is a new model that must have just come out in the past few months and which I pray they fixed the engineering on since the problem I experienced has been known about for years), I could expect it in the next 5-7 business days, and that I did not, in fact, have to send the old one back (not sure if that was standard in their response or done in response to my question, but either way, huzzah).

So, in short, getting support from Logitech was everything that Razer support was not and should have been. Where I will never, ever buy anything from Razer again, I will continue to happily purchase Logitech items and highly recommend them. I daresay, the only company I've had an even better response from is Amazon, and that's only because the orders are made directly from them, so they're able to look them up on their internal systems rather than me having to send a copy of a receipt.
The Firebyrd
29 December 2013 @ 01:24 am
There are some articles I've come across in the last few weeks that I wanted to comment on and didn't get on immediately. So they're a bit old news, but oh well.

First up, we have the "news" that the NSA saved us all from computer disaster! Now, in full disclosure, I couldn't get the video at the bottom of this page to work for me. However, what is being reported is that the NSA worked with computer manufacturers to close up some undisclosed exploit in BIOS to ruin computers.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, BIOS stands for Basic Input Output System. When you boot up your Windows-based computer (I haven't touched a Mac in so long I don't know what they look like), you'll generally see a logo from either your computer manufacturer (or the motherboard's maker specifically) for a few seconds before the Windows logo pops up. That's your BIOS. It's possible to turn that logo off and if you do that, you see a bunch of stuff scroll by that shows the computer setting up how the different bits and pieces are going to be called upon. The BIOS is part of the firmware of your motherboard (which is the part of the computer that everything else hooks into) and if it gets messed up, it most certainly can cause major problems for your computer.

However, there are a number of things wrong with the NSA's claim. First off, there isn't some universal BIOS. It's not like it is with the millions of computers running nearly identical versions of Windows XP/7/8/whatever, where the only differences are based upon if the end user has been getting updates or not. The reason Windows viruses are so successful is because there are so many systems out there running the same code with the same vulnerabilities. When it comes to BIOS, though, every single different manufacturer has their own program and they're all different. They will even have different versions, in fact, to handle the various hardware changes that come about (such as being able to handle more RAM). So, due to this, the likelihood of a single piece of malware being able to affect every machine out there is incredibly unlikely.

Additionally, the NSA claims to have worked with manufacturers to close up whatever the undisclosed vulnerability was. That makes little sense either. Even if every single BIOS of every single manufacturer out there had the same vulnerability, these things are /being produced in China/. The country being accused of writing this super-virus. Do you really think the Chinese government, with the way they spy and intrude on everything within their borders (sound familiar, NSA?) and without, doesn't have the ability to then get the new source code of the new versions of BIOS and then find another vulnerability?

Furthermore, even if somehow the Chinese had managed to make this super special malware, the idea that this would be some huge, overwhelming problem is exaggerated at the very least. According to the story, the computer's user has to accept the installation of the malware program. Now, obviously, people install viruses all the time due to this sort of thing. "YOUR COMPUTER IS UNSECURE, DOWNLOAD THIS PROGRAM NOW FOR $19.95 TO SAVE IT!!!!" However, if there are significant numbers of computers running crucial infrastructure that are generally open to the internet to easily download such unauthorized software, there are some IT departments that need to learn to do their jobs.

Oh, I'm sure a few idiots would take a flash drive and plug it in at work and so on, but for the most part, who would be affected by such a thing? Grandma who was checking Facebook or Little Timmy who was writing a paper for school. What would then need to be done? Sometimes, the BIOS can be flashed, i.e. put back on the motherboard, from an outside source such as a CD or a flash drive. If that doesn't work, though, all is not lost. The computer can be fixed just by getting a new motherboard. There were no claims from the NSA that this was affecting hard drives in any way or phoning home or anything of the sort. People would have their data still intact, they'd just need one new piece of hardware to interface with it. So, for the most part, people would take their computers to the local shop, the BIOS would get flashed, the motherboard replaced, or for those with a lot of money and no patience, a completely new computer bought. Then people would get on with their lives, having weathered a relatively minor annoyance.

The whole thing just seems so ridiculous. If there really was such a magical piece of malware out there able to do this, I doubt very much the Chinese government had anything to do with it. Follow the money and the trail leads to hardware manufacturers. Analysts have been screaming for several years about how the PC is dead, and while those claims are ridiculous, what is true is that sales have dropped and are continuing to drop, and will continue to drop for the foreseeable future. Some people are getting what they need out of mobile devices, but even more key is that computers are so incredibly powerful now. You can go get that budget $400 computer off the shelf from Walmart and if you're a typical user (i.e. email/Facebook/web browsing/word processing), that computer will do everything you need easily for many years to come. People just don't need quad core systems with 32 gigs of RAM and SLI video cards to do that sort of thing. Even enthusiasts don't need to upgrade constantly anymore. My video card is three years old and still runs everything I've tried to play on max settings, up to and including games released in the past year (and while I'm sure there's stuff it wouldn't run that well, it would still render them acceptably for my usage). I'm planning on upgrading the card in another year. After that? Short of something breaking, I can't imagine what else I could need for several years after that.

So basically, for all but the most taxing of applications (various video processing things and CAD remain resource hogs), computers last people for a long, long time now. Something off the shelf now could easily last a typical user a decade. Manufacturers would benefit greatly from a lot of consumer hardware suddenly becoming unusable, because they'd either be selling the individual motherboards to various shops and companies to fix the various computers whose BIOS had been ruined, or they'd be selling entire systems to people whose hardware was so old that a replacement isn't easily obtainable or they just don't want to bother. It'd be a huge bump in sales for those companies. Now, please note that I don't actually think this is what happened. I think the NSA, who admit to being liars, are doing it again. They're lying to us at a time when people are thinking about them in a negative fashion in the hopes of convincing us that their infringement of our natural rights is actually helping us. That's certainly more plausible than the plothole-ridden TV script they presented us with.
The Firebyrd
27 December 2013 @ 10:11 pm
I'm a bit late with this, but enjoy!

Came as a foster,
But temporary measures
Can last a long time.

Meows like a kitty,
Screams when Dad’s in the kitchen,
Says, “I’m an eagle!”

Avid stargazer,
She must find out—for science—
The secret to boys.

Special needs kitty,
And needs a good brushing too—
Matted fur to cut.

She makes lots of art.
Her pet unicorn is named

Big man on campus,
Knows when people are leaving,
Lives on borrowed time.

He makes his teachers
Think he’ll be an engineer.
Please let it be so!

Creative Commons,
Gotta get those songs out there.
It’s all about soul.

Has bees in her head,
Answers when Mom is called for,
Starts counting at four.

Hey, hey, NSA!
Fourth Amendment? What’s that?
Tabloid writer’s dream!


Warm fuzzy softness
Fat and living the good life:
Catatonic state.

Letting himself go,
Like you can tell an old man
How to look proper.

Good Pink Floyd song names
And epic dinosaur pets
Inspire us to win.

Sunday School leader,
Professional address sleuth,
And writes haiku, too.


May good Christmas cheer
Linger on in the new year
And bless all our hearts.
The Firebyrd
25 December 2013 @ 09:00 pm
Merry Christmas (or insert holiday of choice) to everyone!

We went to my mom's for dinner and presents. Bea was very tired through the afternoon and evening and on the way home started throwing yet another tantrum. Then Hotel California comes up on the CD we were listening to.

"I hate this song!" she declared.

"Why do you hate this song? It's one of the Eagles' best!" I asked in disbelief.

"Because it's about Mickey Mouse and I /hate/ Mickey Mouse!" she replied.

As Eric noted, there are many proposed interpretations of the song out there, but this was a new one to both of us.
The Firebyrd
09 December 2013 @ 03:30 am
Here's the first episode of The Men Who Made Us Thin from the BBC. Pretty interesting to hear things like a former financial director of Weight Watchers talking about how failure is what makes the business model because then people come back.
The Firebyrd
23 November 2013 @ 06:47 am
I loved my third grade teacher immensely and I periodically visited her until I graduated from high school (even having to chase her down to a different elementary school). When I was in the fourth through sixth grades, the visits were more frequent due to closeness. One spring afternoon when I was in fourth grade, I admired a vase of pussy willow limbs she had in her classroom. She gave them to me since they were from a bush in her yard and she could just get more. I gleefully took them home and put them in a vase there to enjoy.

I have vague memories when I was in kindergarten of believing that pussy willows would grow if you just planted a stick in the ground, but by age ten, I knew better. So when one of the sticks started developing roots, I was excited, as I knew that this was a way to actually get a pussy willow bush. I asked my mom permission to plant it in the yard, and apparently thinking I was an idiot, she granted me permission (she claims that she just thought it wouldn't grow, but my memory of it suggests it was humoring the idiot child in much the same way we nod and smile when Enoch says he's going to marry my mom when he grows up). In all fairness, while I was right that it was a viable clone, I was an idiot, because I planted it about a foot away from the house.

And it grew. And grew. And grew. It thrived and was beautiful and I loved it.

Some six or seven years later, my stepfather was around and he'd had it with this ten to twelve foot pussy willow growing against the house. He insisted it was growing into the pipes, one of which had burst in the basement over the winter. I doubt he expected to get the full fury of a teenage girl's wrath when he said he was getting rid of it. Oh, how I carried on over that tree. I don't think I had all that many breakdowns as a teen, but that was one of them. He agreed to try to move it instead of just destroying it. It was a kind and reasonable compromise, in retrospect, but I wasn't happy with anything short of a full pardon, because I was sure it was going to kill it. I knew a bit about the microbial suite that lives around the roots of plants and attempts as a child to dig up and transplant things like wild roses had been failures, so I was convinced it was all doom and gloom. I snipped not a vase, but a bucketful of branches to try to get another clone going to replace my beloved tree. The day of execution came, he hooked it up to the minivan, and yanked that decent sized tree right out of the ground before re-planting it in a corner of the yard away from the house (and I will note there was no evidence of it having roots in the pipes).

And it grew. And grew. And grew. It thrived and was beautiful and I loved it.

While I believe some of the branches I saved sprouted roots, they all got tossed unused, because my tree was saved. And boy, was it happy to get out away from that house (did I mention I planted it on the /north/ side?). With so much more access to sunlight and space, it spread its branches out in all directions and then went straight up, well above the roof of the house. Other than one strange summer where it suddenly had some bizarre, triangular shaped bugs in masses over chunks of the trunk (which I promptly went avenging angel with bug spray on-HOW DARE YOU THREATEN MY PUSSY WILLOW!) and some scarring from the straps tied around it for its relocation, it was healthy and never needed any attention beyond an occasional pruning to save the roof from its eager growth or to allow a mower under it. Its only flaw was that as it went from bush to genuine tree, the pussy willows mostly grew way out of reach as a silvery haze in the top branches rather than on the lower branches where we could enjoy them.

Then Thursday night we had an awful windstorm. At my current house, there were times it sounded like the wind somehow managed to wrench the storm doors open and then slam them back shut, it was so wild. My mom's house is fairly near the mouth of the canyon and 95% of the time, when we get wind, she gets it much, much worse. The pussy willow hadn't exactly had a strong central trunk initially, rather having three similarly sized branches that eventually grew together as it grew larger (I'm not sure if that's a species trait, though an unrelated pussy willows I mail ordered that I planted in my yard is similar, so I suspect it is. It was /supposed/ to be pink, which is why I hadn't just gotten a start from my beloved tree in the first place). In the twenty-two years since I planted it, it had weathered the nightly canyon winds without a problem, not to mention many strong windstorms and even a tiny tornado or two, but Thursday's proved too much for it. That grown-together trunk finally proved to be a fatal flaw and it split apart under the force, thankfully only taking out the neighbor's fence in the process.

We're going to try to get some starts from it going. In fact Enoch's teacher, upon hearing the story, wants a start for his classroom. I'm afraid the tree was probably dormant for the winter and the attempts won't be successful. And yet, I'm finding myself not upset. Maybe it's just because my mom told me when I was in the throes of a twenty-four hour virus and so it still seems unreal. But maybe, after the last threat to my tree's existence and all the carrying-on I did then, I've learned to trust that it will survive and that it will once again grow and thrive and be beautiful again.
The Firebyrd
16 August 2013 @ 01:03 pm
It's really something when legitimate whistle-blowers have to flee for their lives into the arms of Russia and stories like this are taking place.
The Firebyrd
18 July 2013 @ 11:05 am
I love how competent our city is. They're so helpful, with a newsletter coming with our utility bill talking about all sorts of holiday events on July 4th, even including a coupon for reduced ticket prices for one of the fireworks events!

...The utility bill arrived this week. You know, weeks after all of this is over. *golf claps*

In other news, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are both broody. They spend most of their time huddling in the nest box together, both trying to sit on the eggs the others are laying (since they're broody, they're not laying hardly any themselves). Dumb birds. I feel kind of bad for them, but I think most of that is habitual after feeling bad for Wyvern and her broodiness for so many years. The whole purpose in life for these birds is to lay constantly, and if they're not doing that, they're not fulfilling their purpose.

It's crazy to think that if we want a regular supply of eggs, we're probably going to need to start a new flock next year. The information varies about how long hens lay, but even so, it does seem to agree that they're at their peak now. I definitely want to do ameracaunas again and probably sussixes as well. The sussix eggs are smaller, but before their broodiness, they were quite consistent. Both of the individuals of those two breeds are a lot friendlier and less skittish too. The dominique is pretty ornery and the wyandotte is still way nervous. If we just had those two, I don't know that everyone would have such a good impression of them. Instead, the other five are so gregarious, everyone loves them. Even Eric smiles over them.

My mom's going to freak when we start eating them. Hopefully they'll keep laying pretty regularly next year while the new batch gets started to put that time off!
The Firebyrd
18 May 2013 @ 11:09 am
Bea says to Enoch:

"You are the king of hiccups and I am the king of burps."