Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name

I don't think my parents fully considered the advent of wireless technology when they named me. I mean, why would they? In the 1970s people still walked to the television to change the channels. Imagine that.

I like my name I really do. It's versatile, recognizable, yet not ridiculously common. Alison, Ali, Al, Als - I have friends and relations who use every variation. Butt - I am also the recipient of every person's inadvertant butt-dial, because I'm usually at the top of the alphabetized contacts list.

I get messages from LK's butt all the time.

I listen to him driving home from work. I never listen for long, because I don't like Led Zeppelin as much as he does, and I'm also worried I'm going to overhear something incriminating.

It must be hell to be called Abigail or Aaron - you'd be the go-to for everyone's accidental arse-dialing.

Usually it's just people going quietly about their business, having accidentally sat on their phones, nothing exciting to eavesdrop on. There is one number though - one unidentified number - who accidentally calls me every 2 weeks or so and spews abuse. Not to me, he never seems to realize he's called me. He's always pissed off at everything. His arse must get twitchy when he's cross, because that's when he seems to call. "You're f&*Ckin disrespecting me" is a common refrain. Vitriol pours, his respect is paramount. In a pseudo Agatha Christie way I wonder if you can report spousal abuse through a mis-dial. I'm not entirely sure why he has my number. I don't have him as a contact. I think he may be a *thankfully* ex-tenant we inherited when we got the property. I thought about sending him a text telling his arse to stop f&$%in disrespecting me but I don't want the fight. I'm just hoping he loses his phone.

On a lighter note, texting is much more civilized. How nice not to have to engage or make small-talk when you don't want to. Lucy has sent a couple of accidental texts to my friends when she's been playing with my phone, but they usually realize that it's not a cryptic cry for help when I message 'fzzvnynghhhh////'. Unless Apple predictive text gets a hold of it, and then you're really in trouble. If you have five minutes, check out this website: for what happens when good text goes bad. Here's a little taster:

Thanks to Caroline for the heads up about this site. Who couldn't welcome a little blowgun humour to lighten a day?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shot Through The Heart

"Mom, what's the name of that baby that shoots people?" asks Anna.

I am well versed in the bizarre, the confused, the inane segues that tumble out of her mouth, but this one had me stumped. Chucky? Some kid from Texas??

The answer was, of course, Cupid.

After we'd cleared that up, she said "he shoots you through the heart - but it doesn't hurt."

When I relayed this via Skype to my Mum and Dad, they laughed, and then my Dad said:

"well, not at first".

Friday, February 18, 2011


Our computer died, that's what.

It had been struggling to keep up for about a year now. A year of us going 'la, la, la not listening!' because there were other more pressing concerns, like food, shelter and princess clothes. Still, the fact that our entire library of photos was stored on a hard drive that was sending out routine warning messages was a bit alarming. Our 'start-up disk' was nearly full, which sounds dire even if you don't know where to look for a start-up disk.

I deleted some of Lance's arty photos.

This created the barest flicker of improvement. We soldiered on for a few more months but the warning messages became more insistent, the proclamations more dire. Our 10 year old G5 was beginning to rev like a classic car. It would lie dormant for hours and then make churning data crunching noises at 3am. It was obviously finding some of our content hard to stomach.

I deleted photos of Lance's side of the family. ** For those of his family members reading this blog. Not you. Never! Duh!

It was no good, the end was clearly nigh. I invested in a back-up hard drive. It dutifully copied all our excel files (all seven of them), it manfully ploughed through our .docs. It turned to our jpegs, our vast back catalog of Anna and Lucy baby pictures, and threw in the towel. I think there may be 16,000 images and quite frankly who knows if they were on the back-up hard drive or not. I could never say for sure, and tried not to think of that movie of Anna's first steps being fried in to oblivion. I thought I'd backed it all up - but 16,000 images - can any hard drive the size of a pack of cards capture all that saccharine cuteness?

The final death throe came courtesy of - I kid you not. Every time we booted up our printer it would spit out 15 copies of Rainbow Dash before that critical lease document. Obviously an Apple has it's limits. One morning it refused to boot up. Our computer was in a coma. It took us about three days to admit defeat, three days of us hoping we could surprise it in to action, of pleading our financial straights to a dead machine. My blog was hanging by a thread. 3, maybe 4 people around the world started casting around for something else to fill that 5 minutes of a Tuesday morning.

Fortunately we have an Apple store in this swanky gelt-hole of a town. We hightailed it there and asked for the smallest Cox's Orange Pippin of an Apple. They sold us a Mini, liberated and transferred all our files (yay!) and then told us our screen was most likely too old to connect.


So now we have an iMac, and a *free* printer that they threw in for our troubles.

I resolve to post a lot more frequently, two maybe three times a month (!) so the google ads on my sidebar (please click!) will make it all worthwhile....

In the meantime, if any of you have any photo storing suggestions - I'm all ears.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Really Bad Science Projects - For Kids

Anna is equal parts princess and mad scientist. Her school's Science Day was fast approaching and we had to think of an experiment for her to present to her classmates. She had to come up with a hypothesis, and then produce a poster board of her expectations and findings. Is it just me, or does there seem to be a greater expectation of parent involvement in the States? Maybe things have changed in the UK, but I know that when I was growing up I didn't have to 'present my findings', do homework, or even do show and tell. Sometimes I wonder who is really going through Kindergarten.

Back to Anna the Scientist. My Mum and Dad recently bought Anna a National Trust 'bug hunting kit' - perfect for a junior entomologist, but on reflection, not quite so perfect for California even though she absolutely loves it. For a start, we have to use it under heavy supervision, as there's more than just lowly Mr. Woodlouse scuttling around in our back yard. A few months ago I spotted a giant black widow spider having a casual stroll towards our laundry room. Then, when Anna did manage to collect a fierce but harmless looking centipede, she accidentally left him in full sun in her magnifying tube - a tube that now has a perfect blackened centipede shape seared into its base.

We were casting around for something to display, something age-appropriate that didn't involve death or maiming to either us or a poor harmless creature. We were greatly helped in our quest for the perfect 5-year old science experiment by this book from my brother and sister-in-law.

Big Book of Science Things to Make and Do (Usborne Activities)

Anna obviously wants to do ALL the experiments, *right now*, but the one she picked for the Science Fair had the perfect combination of 5-year old girl science, and dramatic show-and-tell effect. 'Magic Flowers', or basically - when you add food dye to the water of white flowers, they will change colour.

We documented the full scientific process, LK decided they should dress appropriately:

Anna wrote 'Magic Flowers' in giant coloured letters, and carefully copied out her 'hypothesis'. It was going to be genius.

Except, when we all woke up the next morning, the flowers were still pristine and snowy white. Epic fail. We considered dunking them in the dye so Anna had at least something to show. In the end we decided that would be cheating, even though when LK arrived at Anna's school and saw 5 year olds introducing Powerbook presentations on how they split they atom at home using some safety scissors and sticky back plastic he was a tad pissed off. Or rather, he thought 'shit, my wife is going to kill me'.

He later said that he was proud that Anna's project was all her own work. So what if the flowers we'd used had failed to suck up any water. I must have accidentally bought dead or irradiated flowers - who knows. He said that the kids all had a wonderful time, and had some brilliant ideas to showcase. Like the kid standing next to Anna whose hypothesis was 'does a nail rust faster in water, salty water or air?'. I said that sounded like a great idea. He said yes, if you don't use galvanized nails that is. Anna, with her pristine white flowers was standing next to a boy with pristine unrusted nails. Perfect.