October 2005 Birch Pt. Beach Blog

September 05 | November 05

Sat. October 1: <guestblahg>"When you're in the banking business, you get into all kinds of shit", said Grandaddy and I guess he would know. We were sitting in the car eating a good old grease lunch at Clyde's Drive-In, watching the Sugar Island ferry go back and forth. Grandaddy was reminiscing about the time that *his* dad, who was also in the banking business and will be referred to hereafter as "Great-Grandaddy", called him into service in a little collecting job. Grandaddy's role was to drive Great-Grandaddy over to Sugar Island and up to the top of the hill -- which you can see from Clyde's. Great-Grandaddy collected a cow from some deadbeat and walked it down the hill to the ferry, from where he called someone (Grandaddy doesn't remember who) with a vee-hickle that could transport a cow to come down to the ferry dock and meet him.</guestblahg>

Sun. October 2: As Karen says, it was the "worst summer imaginable" but somehow I do not want it to end. I am hanging on to it for dear life. And it still feels like summer, even up here in the Great White North. Here it is, October, and I walked the waterfront this morning in shorts, sandals and a sweatshirt. The Armco and the Algolake were both upbound just out of the locks and the salty Varnebank was heading upbound toward the locks. After something like 25 years of anonymously walking around Sault Ste. Siberia (when I'm in town, that is), a fellow walker actually recognized me this morning -- a Piedmont/McNaughton cousin. Always observant, Grandaddy pointed out that there is an extra bathroom across the street in the construction zone at the schoolyard in case we need one. Actually, he did not call it a "bathroom" but I'll leave that to the imagination ;-) Reluctantly, I declare that summer is over, even if it doesn't feel like it. And, yes, I *did* hear you guys talking about Hurricane Anne when I walked in the door this morning. I am who I am and some of us have to be nuclear powered or nothing would ever get done and why is it that you continually forget how hyper-sensitive my hearing is?

Mon. October 3: Yorp. Catching up to myself after an entertaining little weekend boondoggle up in the UP. Helped the octogenarians close up the cabin for the winter and sorted out a few little computer issues for The Commander. Stopped halfway home yesterday at the fanciest rest area on earth, or at least the I75 SUV Speedway, the New and Luxurious Courtois Palace at Houghton Lake. Managed to scrounge a PBJ sandwich there and washed the sheets that we didn't have time to wash Friday morning after staying there on the way *up* to the Yoop. I resisted the almost overwhelming urge to drag my green kayak out of the shed and paddle off into the sparkling sunshine in favor of sitting at the little picnic table by the shore trying to jam the particulars of regular expressions into my brain. ([ ]([a-zA-Z]+)=("|')[^"\']+("|'))* Can you parse that? I can't. Anyway... Eventually, and with quite some trepidation on my part, we tore ourselves away and continued on down to Megalopolis. A residence disguised as a rent-a-wreck lot and filled to the brim with stubborn and obstinate shambling mounds. And coding homework that I did not get started on immediately when it was assigned. Bad. And scary. Where on earth was I? Mired somewhere inside the labyrinth of the Document Object Model, I guess. Oh yeah, I was making cookies. The internet kind, not the ones with the chocolate bits in them. Back to it.

Tue. October 4: These days, an occasionally asked question is, "How's the empty nest"? Well, of course, it is not all that bad at all. There are moments when I miss (really!) having people traipsing in and out of the house throughout the night and wee hours of the morning. And there are even moments when I miss wondering when the heck those same people are gonna get up in the "morning". Excuse me Mouse, I meant "get out of bed", not "get up". Proper grammar, syntax, and semantics please. But it is okay here. The GG and I can get along okay as long as he doesn't try to micro-manage my environment for me. Like, if I need a goddamn jacket, I'll get a goddamn jacket, fer chrissake, grumble-grump. What is really turning out to be weird is walking through the Haisley School grounds and seeing me and and all my friends out there on the soccer field, etc., with our cute little holy terrors. Actually I was never a soccer mom but that topic is outside the scope of this entry. Maybe someday I'll rant about organized sports for little kids. Maybe not. Anyway, for years I used to walk through that schoolyard about million times a day. And in and out of the school. Our little posse of PTO moms was mostly appreciated except when we got gabbing in the hall to the extent that it disrupted class. And there was that infamous incident when a teacher mistook me for one of the janitors and told me to go burn some boxes. Nowadays we're in the age of homeland security and I have actually been asked what my business was walking through the schoolyard. Uh, because it is the only way to walk from my house to Duncan St. that's shorter than about a mile and a half? I guess I must look like one of those scary knitting needle wielding terrorists. Hey, I've lived on the backside of the Haisley woods for 21 years. I AM homeland security around here! GrokGROK! Terrorists? Grok! I'll get 'em! Shlurrrp. grok grok! Shut up, Froggy! But the moms over there these days are not me and Jane and Vicki and all the rest. Heck, they are practically in a different generation than us! And the kids are miniature. Where am I? Where the heck did the time go? Who hit fast forward?

Wed. October 5: Housekeeping business issues:

You guys, I love you but I have mid-terms next week. One of them is SCARY! I am *buried* in schoolwork right now. Please lemme know some of this stuff so I can plan ahead.

Love, Moom

P.S. Congratulations, Volume Dan

Thu. October 6: <guestblahg>I started out at the dead-end of a road where there was a grove of palm trees. There was a shovel on the ground so I picked it up. I walked down the road and found an unremarkable boulder. Further on, there was a fork in the road and I noticed some unusually soft ground. Curious, I dug a hole and found an old VAX CPU board with 2 Mb of memory!

I walked down the SE fork of the road and as I was walking I found some old meat (which I picked up). I finally reached the end of the road and encountered a bear! I dropped the meat. The bear grabbed it and dropped a brass key as he ran off with the meat so I collected the key. I was at a dead end in the road.

I went back to the fork in the road and proceeded up the NE fork until I reached a another dead end where there was this old house. Inside the house was a mail room with a few names barely legible on some old mail crates. In the hallway there was a door exiting to the North but it was locked. Inside another room there was an old VAX 11/780 'puter named "Pokey". The console lights were steady and unblinking. I kept trying to type in commands on the console but none of the characters would echo back to the screen. I tried putting the CPU board into the computer in various ways but I couldn't get the computer to accept the board.

I finally grew frustrated and walked back to the grove of palm trees and noticed that there were many coconuts in their tops. I shook one of the trees and a coconut fell down on my head and killed me.</guestblahg>

Today's guest blahg courtesy of the GG, with credit to JC Burns, fellow DOM/regex unraveler, for pointing it out. If you have OS 10 and want to try this little Easter Egg, open the Terminal Application (Applications ==> Utilities) and type "emacs -batch -l dunnet". Have fun. I am now immersed in the study grind. (Oh yeah, I *have* actually used "Terminal" before, for a class, but I sure don't use it often ;-)

Fri. October 7: Just totally absolutely utterly frazzled and completely ragged around the edges. Do not call me, especially if you are bored and in the mood to bitch and chatter away about nothing important. I am just not in the mood. Okay, there are a small handful of people who can call me ANY time for just about any reason. You know who you are and you know my cell. Because I am not answering that other thing today. No, there is nothing wrong. Really. I am just going through a season of rather introspective self-evaluation. I think it is about time for that. And anyone who asks me that tired old question, "How are you doing?", had better have an extra 5 hours or so on their hands. Over and out.

(Yeah, I know I need to change the picture and I know I am in trouble about the picture situation in general. Deal with it.)

Sat. October 8: Foiled again. Disregard that stuff about the telephone. Most of it anyway. Yesterday I demonstrated yet again, in no less than two totally separate situations, my complete incompetency at managing telephonic communication. Shortly after I wrote that blahg entry, I shut down my powerbook and went out for a walk. As it turned out, a couple of friends had called just after I left for my walk to ask if we wanted to join them for dinner at Knight's. Well, of *course* we wanted to do that! Fortunately, they left a voice mail message and miraculously, it didn't get lost. We had a great time and I needed to stick my head up out of javascript and the DOM for a little while. Then, when I got up this morning, I opened my cellular telephone and saw that I had missed something like three calls, at least one from my daughter. Why? Because, once again, I failed to turn the ringer back on after my Wednesday night class. As the kids say, "meh". Oh yeah. I did most definitely mean the part about the bitching and chattering. I just do not have time for other people's trivial little issues :-)

Sun. October 9: I am at Houghton Lake and I am making lasagne. For the first time ever. I mean at Houghton Lake, not in life. I can make lasagne in my sleep. So what, you ask. Why the heck are you so excited about a trivial thing like making lasagne? It is because there is now a stove with a working oven here. Sometime back in the 60's, the oven in the stove in the old Houghton Lake cabin caught fire. A neighbor somehow managed to strong-arm the whole darn thing outside. The stove was put back inside the cabin but the oven was NEVER fixed. For the last few months we have had an operational oven here. So I am making lasagne because I CAN! :-) real estate here.

Mon. October 10: In Which a Stubbornly Tenacious Octogenarian Residing in the Rugged Outpost of Sault Ste. Siberia Single-handedly Commands Her Way Through the Installation of a Digital Subscriber Line and Subsequently Discovers the Exhilarating Sensation of Traversing the Information Highway at a Greatly Accelerated Rate of Speed While Simultaneously Engaging in Telephonic Conversation. Watch out, Amazon.com! LL Bean, take cover! Blahggers, beware!

Tue. October 11: Hmmmm...

No battery, no internet. No internet, no battery. Oh Comcast? Domain name server issues? When do y'all expect a fix? :-/

Wed. October 12: My brain is totally jammed. And I really do "get" it. But the devil is in the details. Here's hoping the I/O is in good order.

Thu. October 13: Scope creep? Yeah, massive scope creep. Never really had intimate knowledge of that term until this fall but unfortunately I am all too intimately familiar with the concept and effects of massive scope creep :-( Life goes on and love y'all anyway.

Fri. October 14: Hmmmm, where do I start?

<longramblingday>Paul McCartney is at The Palace of Auburn Hills and the GG and Karen are going to that and Death Cab for Cutie (yeah that's a real band, no I dunno what the name means) is at the Michigan Theatre and Mouse is going to that. And that means that I traversed the I94 18-Wheel Clogway over to kzoo and back. I'll prob'ly get in trouble for posting this next bit, but I had the honor of accompanying the stage manager of this fall's kzoo play to the theatre department office to drop off her *completed* 60-page SIP (thesis-like beast) which she dedicated partly to my brother. All in all, it was a beautiful afternoon in kzoo with gorgeous warm sunshine and cameo appearances by Ryan and Laura and Tucker (the latter two are some of the A2 kids I've known since they were in middle school) along with newer friends and roommates and somewhere in Mouse's dorm there is another muskellunge flinger. And even though I forgot the dolphin sarong and only had a debit card and zero time in my pocket instead of food ("feed me, feed me, mama" -- Sheesh! food in my pocket would be messy). it was pretty successful. grok grok, don't forget we were there too!. Now I am Home Alone for the evening and I guess I better do some homework so I can hang around with Mouse tomorrow morning because she has a lot on her agenda and I'll have to fit myself in :-)</longramblingday>

And all of that happened after a morning of laundry, dish-processing, bathroom-cleaning and homework, homework, homework.

Sat. October 15: Karen: "BTW - make sure Bill gets that front tire looked at....it was really LOW last night". Hmmmm, reminds me of someone else... It used to be that whenever I went to Grand Blanc to visit my brother, I would drive up his driveway only to meet him coming at my vee-hickle with a tire pump. I swear he must've been watching me drive up the street, assessing the general condition of whatever piece of crap I was currently driving. Or I'd be up in the Yoop without the GG and Jim would say something like, "Hey those tires are about to disintegrate!" So I'd send him off with my debit card. I would get new tires and he would get some good entertainment. Nothing like a good trip to a car dealer or a mechanic or an auto parts shop.

Then there was that black day when all of the power steering fluid leaked out of the POC. It was a steely gray, cold, windy day in August and I was incredibly bored hanging around freezing down on the beach. I was totally wrapped up in beach towels *willing* the weather to change into a beach day. I do not know what Jim and the octogenarians were doing, probably kibbitzing around about building a garage or searching for boat books or whatever. Mouse and Janet were planning a trip into town to get fudge, nail polish and other north country necessities. They fired up the POC and the next thing I heard was, "Mommy, the van makes a funny noise when I turn the steering wheel!" I thought, "Oh goody. Just what I love to do when I'm in the Soo. Hang around with the guys over at Chippewa Motors." But Jim swung into action! A vee-hickle problem? Something interesting to work on. Within about 20 minutes, we were in town getting a temporary fix. But he had to head back down to Megalopolis the next day and so missed out on all the ensuing fun because before I was through, I ended up making multiple trips to various veehickular shops over the next week. And a tire was, again, one of the problems, if I remember accurately. Sometimes the ongoing saga of nitpicky little problems with the POC just runs together into one big bad dream.

Anyway, for the record, the tires on the Accord are pumped up now. Actually, the tires are under a year old so hopefully they have some life left. And the GG did a bunch of other stuff to that old road warrior including *clean* it. Which it *needed*! Miss you bro, my own personal auto engineer.

Sun. October 16: Frog Woman! Grok grokgrok GRAWK!!! Yeah, I like the fanfare all right, it is that trenormously huge and sloppy red tongue that I cannot stand. GrokSchlurp!

Mon. October 17: Hmmm, the joys of working on a laptop computer. Typing along, writing a particularly inspired (or maybe not ;-) email message to my sister-in-law. The screen goes totally dark. Now, I know the battery on this thing is heading south. I even have a spare battery sitting here waiting for me to get around to installing it. But, wait! I am currently plugged in. To a wall socket. Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to be using a surge-protected outlet but I am in a temporary location, the one I use when I have to CHAIN myself to my computer and get my blasted homework done. But we aren't having any power fluctuations, so I don't *think* it has anything to do with the lucky-shucky. So, what in the heck is going on? I wasn't even running at full tilt boogie with every single Microsoft and Adobe application on the computer going at once. I was just running email and a web browser or two. So, I madly tap various keys and press the power button, trying desperately to get some "light" ;-) on the situation. Nothing happens. The screen is still dark. Listening closely, I can hear tiny little tickety-clickety noises. Something is apparently still going on inside there. Finally, I take a deep breath and hold down the power button for a bit until the little tickety-clickety noises pretty much stop. Then, I take a deeper breath and hit the power button again and, after what seems like an eternity but is actually about a second, I hear "thrrronnnnggg", the reassuring musical chord of a happy Apple computer starting up. I am back up and running in short order but maybe a backup is in order? Yeah, probably is about that time. Living dangerously.

Tue. October 18: Besides a few people on email, today I have interacted with:

  1. A raccoon who stared me down from halfway up a tree in Burke's yard
  2. Ursa Major
  3. A skunk, from a distance, thank you veddy much
  4. Henry the rabbit, I think, it was dark
  5. A few silly cirkers
  6. Some very obnoxiously chirpy birdies who will not shut up

Hope my voice works at class tonight!

Wed. October 19: Okay, so I get home from my class. I go in the back room to turn off the radio and it is dark and I am startled by the presence of a new piece of cosmic debris. It is an outboard motor. For a boat. Yeah. I mean really, it is true that student ghetto/early in-law decor eventually gets stale. So, are we drifting toward a nautical theme?

Thu. October 20: Somebody has to have a good day and I hope it is Valdemort because it is her 19th birthday. Happy Birthday!!! I remember when she was born and after I heard the news, I was driving downtown on Miller and I was so distracted by having a niece that I ran the light at N. Seventh. I didn't get caught that time. I already had nieces and I love them all but Valdemort was my first niece by blood.

Anyway. Today. Me? Well. Really. It was not *that* bad a day. Except that I can't believe how sad I was upon selling my beautiful 1996 Island Teal Voyager SE minivan. I picked it up on Lizard Breath's last day of 6th grade. I loved that car even though it often drove me crazy. Veeendshield vipers with a mind of their own. An airbag light that used to light intermittently. The time the oil drained out during the Forsythe Science Fair. The time the serpentine belt frayed (for the 2nd time) on those square-corner turns on Baker Side Road. All four Fin granddaughters were in the car and I think they still mention that incident whenever we are all in the car going around those turns. But the problems were almost always small ones and I drove it to kzoo twice this fall to move kids over there and it ran like a charm both times. I will miss it. I had to *force* myself to stop crying on the way home after we sold it (sheesh). I don't know why it made me so sad. Onward.

Fri. October 21: Gleep. I hate boys. Boy geeks, that is. I am so sick of listening to all their quacking. Can you guys please just get a life already? On the other hand, girl geeks ROCK! Let's go, girls!

Sat. October 22: Y'know, if you are going to insist that you are an old man, I suggest that you remove yourself to a garage somewhere. Since there is not one on the premises, you have two choices. The Houghton Lake garage offers a treasure trove of old junk even though the once luxurious restroom has been dismantled. Or, you could go hang around with Grandaddy. Grandaddy is a rich man. At least in terms of garages. He has two of them!! I guess he has attained uber-old-mandom. So you can take your pick. The Commander runs the garage in town so you might want to avoid that one or you could be put to work. But Grandaddy has control of the garage at the cabin. He has the password. And I have a new old license plate to put up in there. Anyway, take your pick.

Enough of that. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA! If Elizabeth is 21 tomorrow and she is ten years minus one day younger than Julia, how old is Julia? Just had to put a little story problem in here for all you engineers ;-)

Sun. October 23: Well, here we are. A letter came to Lizard Breath from the Secretary of State yesterday and I knew that there was a new driver's license in it. One that did not say "under 21" or whatever it is they print on them nowadays. I don't quite know what to say or think. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I guess! Hope the party was fun. We'll call at a "decent" hour.

Ya know, there are just too many birthdays in October. I see by Karen's blog that I missed Jay's (again, I'm sure) even though I *know* Jay's birthday is in October *and* I already *read* Karen's blog and still missed it. And then there's Suzie and I *think* Sam is somewhere around in there too. And David Axe, who was 18 a couple of weeks ago. Happy birthday to all!

Mon. October 24: It sure has been an interesting day! I will not say why. I am not even sure if I could describe it if I tried. It is *not* because there are snow-looking clouds coming in from the west and it is *not* because Firefox hung so many times that I finally got exasperated enough to dump it and re-download it.

Tue. October 25: <landrant-beware>Dear nice, young, clean-cut, tree-hugging environmental solicitor: No, I do not want to talk about land preservation with you. It is not because I do not care about land preservation. It is because you would be wasting your time having that kind of a discussion with me. Why? Because you would just be preaching to the choir, that's why! I may live in a shabby little frog grokGROK! and cosmic debris infested house on the west side of Ann Arbor but I am also a Lake Superior shoreline owner. And, believe me, I am already doing more than my part to preserve land by hanging on to it, paying exhorbitant property taxes, and not selling out to some goddamn developer. If you really want to talk to someone about preserving land, I can think of two groups you might want to start with: 1) real estate developers. I'll even give you a few names, beginning with Faunt, Armstrong and Ganzhorn, dead horse that he apparently is. 2) governmental agencies that look the other way while real estate developers blast huge highways through wetlands and replace thousands of trees with inappropriately palatial dwellings. MI Department of Environmental "Quality" for one. How 'bout the good old Corps of Engineers? Or the MI Department of Natural Resources? I am sorry but I am already doing my small part. And, no, it is not enough. But I am tired. So go after the big guys, okay?</landrant-beware>

Okay, I have homework to do, so I'll go away now.

Wed. October 26: Heating an entire house. One light bulb at a time. Brought to you by Reddy Kilowatt.

Thu. October 27: All in all, yesterday was not a bad day despite a couple of bumpy bits we won't talk about. I was walking out of class last night and I actually managed to remember to turn my cellular telephone ringer back on and in so doing, noticed that there was a voice mail message. No news is usually good news and I have received some really horrible voice mail messages during class over the last year. So I am always a little nervous when I find, upon climbing up out of the bowels of the Gunder Myran building into the light of the cell tower, that I have messages. But this was good news! It was Lizard Breath reporting that her recently submitted SIP (thesis-like beast) had received *honors*! (She probably does not want me to blahg about it, so be cool and don't get too excited. And, no, I did not read it, we both decided I'd prob'ly be bored ;-) Anyway, I was walking thru the parking lot when I received that message and I yelled, "WAZOO!" or something like that. And then. I walked up to the blue honda and, juggling all of my cosmic debris, pressed the button on the key to unlock the vee-hickle. Huh? Nothing happened. I tried again. And again. And I was getting a little frantic when some 20-something kid came along and said, "Ahem, ma'am, you can't unlock that car because it is *my* car". Duh. It was at that point that I realized that I had not *driven* the BLUE honda to school. I had driven the GREEN honda. Of COURSE, the key did not work! I sheepishly apologized and after a few minutes of traversing the parking lot finding green hondas that wouldn't flash their lights when I clicked at them, I finally encountered a vee-hickle that did. Whew!

And, we have a new furnace (and air-conditioning but we won't mention that out loud). I would prob'ly rather have a new kitchen, but at least we are not trying to heat the house 100 watts at a time any more.

Fri. October 28: AJAX. That's short for Asynchronous Javascript. Which encompasses a whole bunch of technologies. xhtml, xml, css, the DOM. The XMLHttpRequest object and the onreadystatechange event handler are involved. And more... Whew, at least I don't have to implement this stuff in my homework, just research and write about it. And Liz's SIP, for those who are asking (and some have, Liz) is (was :-) about Federico Garcia Llorca, a Spanish playwright who was shot and dumped in a trench in August 1936 if I have that right. I just googled that. I am a bad moom sometimes but at least I am not a helicopter moom. Except when I get into one-a them thar "Moom Freaks Out About Nothing" moments. And that is about all. Uh, I think there was a trip to the Westgate Kroger back at about 0-dark-thirty but that was so many hours ago, I cannot even remember what I bought.

Sat. October 29: Mouse, earlier this week, upon learning that I could not find an important document relating to one of her scholarships: "You probably filed it with the car stuff, Moom". And you know what? She just might well be right! I am just drowning in this place. I cannot believe how totally, utterly, horrendously disorganized I have become over the years. Paper alone is going to smother me. I used to be organized. Now, if I do not deal with a piece of paper IMMEDIATELY, it gets hopelessly buried in cosmic debris. Somebody PLEASE tell me why life requires so many trenormous piles of paper? It is so stressful dealing with all of that crap. Papers come into the house and they sit on the table for weeks and weeks and weeks and nobody does anything with them. And then it gets to be a holiday or (gasp) I actually have someone coming over to the house and I get into a panic and I move ALL of the papers off the table into some kind of safe, easily remembered location. And then, I forget where they are and it gets to be a few months later and somebody is in absolute DIRE need of some stinking little piece of paper YESTERDAY if not sooner and I CAN'T FIND IT!!!! I will never dig myself out of this bottomless pit!

But I FINALLY managed to figure out why Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 for the PC would not re-enable the alternate stylesheets I had previously selected upon page reload. So I guess life is not totally bad. Going off to make a big bonfire. See ya later.

Sun. October 30: It is October 30 and I got up this morning and said to myself, "maybe it is about time to buy some Halloween candy". So around 9 AM or so, I headed over to the Westgate Kroger. As I entered the aisle with all the Halloween junk and paraphenalia, a clerk was about halfway finished pulling all of the Halloween candy off the shelves and replacing it with Christmas candy. I mean, essentially it was the same candy, just in red and green wrappers and bags instead of orange and black. Can't we even finish one "holiday" before we start the season for the next? That and an inflatable boat. And a bear. From the Soviet Union, no less. Just what I need :-/

Mon. October 31: Today is the day! I have my orange lights turned on. I am wearing my pumpkin troll earrings. I am boycotting the first A2 leaf pickup. And I am getting ready for that wonderful fall tradition: Shoe On!