Red Echo

May 31, 2013

Extreme Barbie Jeep Racing

A rugged forest track, thrilling stunts, high-speed roll-overs, body damage, clouds of dust, and no major injuries? Sounds like a terrific off-road race. Better yet, the monster 4x4s are pink, plastic, and powered by electricity: it’s Barbie Jeep Racing.

May 25, 2013

New house: moved in

We got a little 5×8 u-haul trailer, hitched it up behind the Rover, filled it with stuff, and carted it all over to the new house. Repeat twice more, with a break in between for the piano movers, and that’s most of the move. Another couple of runs tomorrow will account for the rest of it, but the bed & bath are here, so this is where we live now!

We took a quick jaunt up to Wallingford with the trailer and bought a dining set. Ava’s been watching Craigslist for a couple of weeks and found this great gorgeous ’20s-era table with six chairs and a matching hutch. It’s a smallish table with leaves that pull out on either end, just right for our dining room. It’s so nice! We are so happy with it.

Lots more work to do yet but the heavy labor is over.

May 24, 2013

The painting process proceeds. I started a second coat on the bathroom last night – I thought the original pale turquoise was fine but Ava wants it a little darker, so we’re trying that. We’ve got the pale blue wall done in the dining room; it looks a little more lavender than I was expecting but it might still work once the darker blue goes in. It’s starting to look a lot like Easter around the hallway, though – the pale green in the kitchen meets the pale lavender-blue in the dining room, and right next to ’em the hallway walls are an even paler blue and the ceiling is left over pale yellow. It’s too much but I’m not sure what to do instead yet – maybe the hallway will become a neutral zone, grey walls and white ceiling; or maybe we’ll go nuts and paint it silver.

I spent some time ripping out defunct coax hardware. We had an assortment of mysteries: a cable TV outlet in the hallway (who puts a TV in their hallway!?) – two separate coax lines in the back bedroom, one in a wall plate and one coming up out of the floor – a six foot section of coax on the outside wall which simply pops out of the siding and then back in again – a random strip of coax in the hallway running from a vent up into the ceiling… Oh, well. I traced it all out and determined that every single line had been cut somewhere during the remodel last winter. I would have left it alone if it were functional, but if it’s just clutter then it has to go. We don’t have any hardware that uses coax anyway. Rip, rip, rip, patch patch patch, much tidier now. We were painting the walls anyway, right?

I’ll probably have to punch new holes to run Cat-6. I’m sure I will leave my own collection of infrastructural mysteries behind for whoever owns this house after we’re done with it.

May 20, 2013

I was still feeling pretty weak this weekend so we didn’t do much moving – just the books. The dark wooden shelves suck up a lot of light now that they’re all empty; it’s dark in the old apartment!

The new house’s freshly remodeled interior walls came painted in yellow and tan; I thought it was a fine look, if a little bland, but Ava hates it. I’m happy to get ambitious with color, so we spent hours painting the kitchen (forest green on the walls with cabinets, very pale green on the big wall) and the back bedroom (dark red on one wall, warm grey on the others). Ava tackled the bathroom today, using a brilliant turquoise straight out of Miami Vice; I’m not sure we’ll get the dining room done before we move, but the plan is to echo the kitchen’s scheme in blues. It’s going to be cool.

Now that we have the paint done, we can actually start moving in the furniture!

May 17, 2013

That wasn’t fun. I woke up Tuesday morning feeling a little cruddy, but basically okay. Four hours later I staggered back home with a fever, collapsed into bed, and then stayed there for thirty-six hours. I’m back at work today, but wow did that virus ever hammer me flat! And I’m supposed to be in the middle of moving to the new house. Oh, well, we have until the end of the month.

May 13, 2013

Half of all serious head injuries happen while someone is inside a motor vehicle. Stop the deaths! It’s time for a mandatory car-helmet law.

May 12, 2013

Well that was great. We got the keys on Friday and threw an “empty house party” on Saturday, having moved in exactly none of our belongings. I stocked the fridge with beer, plugged in a couple of speakers and a laptop downstairs for music, turned on all the lights, and that was the extent of the preparation. It was a weird concept for a party, so I didn’t know if people would actually stick around, but the total absence of chairs, couches, tables, and other furnishings did not seem to be a significant problem. People brought their friends, their friends brought more beer, there was a mountain of snack food, and everything just seemed to take care of itself. Somebody brought a bunch of liquid nitrogen and there were mad scientist mojitos going on in the kitchen for a while – I think Kent was involved but I’m not exactly sure how it all happened. Divide rolled in around ten, carrying a burn barrel he’d just finished welding, and so we had a fire in the back yard. People hung out and talked and came and went and I’m not sure I even got to say “hello” to everyone who was there, which is one the one hand disappointing but on the other a clear sign that the party was a success.

May 10, 2013

Well, there we go: bought a house. Got the keys and everything.

May 9, 2013

A word game

This game is best when its commencement is inferred and not announced.

One person says a word which is a compound of two shorter words.
Next person says a word, also a compound of two shorter words, where the first half of the new word is the same as the second half of the previous word.
Each player continues, picking a compound word whose beginning half is the ending half of the previous word.
No player may reuse a word previously chosen, though word-components may be reused.
Two-word phrases are acceptable substitutes, particularly toward the end of the game when the well has begun to run dry, though compound words are worth more imaginary points than two-word phrases. The point deltas are never mentioned directly and are left to the aesthetic determination of the other players. Winning on points is also known as “losing”.

A: (innocently uses the word “firefly” in conversation)
B: Flypaper.
A: What?
B: You said “firefly”, so I said “flypaper”.
A: Yeah, and? …Oh. Hm… uh… “papercut”.
B: Cutthroat.
A: Throatlatch.
B: What? What the hell is “throatlatch”?
A: I don’t know, some piece of horse gear. I read it in a book once.
B: Okay, fine, fine, have it your way. Latchkey.
A: Keyboard.
B: Boardroom.
A: Roommate.
B: Mateless.
A: Lesson.
B: Less…on? Lesson? Hah. Very funny. No. I already gave you “throatlatch” and I’m not convinced that’s even a real word – you can’t have “lesson” when it’s blatantly not a compound.
A: Who says it has to be a compound? “Less” and “on”, it’s two legit words.
B: But it’s so gross, what are you, twelve?
A: Your fault for painting me into a corner – what else IS there? You nearly killed the game there and I’m just trying to save it.
B: (gives a long, hard look)
A: Okay, fine, “less than”.
B: Than what?
A: What cheer.
B: Cheerleader.
A: Leaderless. (bursts out laughing)
B: You’re a dick! What’s wrong with you!
A: (giggles) Okay, okay. Leadership.
B: Shipwreck.
A: Wreckless!
B: (groans)
A: Wreck yard.
B: That’s terrible. You lose ten points. Yardcare.
A: Care…free.
B: Freefall.
A: Fall-guy.
B: Guy wire.
A: Wirehead.
B: Is that a real word or just something from science fiction?
A: Who cares? It’s a real word now.
B: Okay, fine. HEADLESS.
A: Hah! Cheater. Less wrong.
B: Wrong way.
A: Waystation.
B: Stationkeeping.
A: Keeping time.
B: Time travel.
A: Travel time.
B: Well… that’s totally uncool, but I suppose it’s legal. Timepiece.
A: Piecework.
B: Workhouse.
A: Housefly.
B: Flypaper.
A: You already used that one.
B: Damn it, you’re right. Flyweight.
A: Weight class.
B: Class clown.
A: Clown car.
B: Car phone.
A: Phone home.
B: Homework.
…and continue until the novelty has worn off.

May 8, 2013

Big-O Cheat Sheet is a handy reference to the time & space complexities of various algorithms for searching, sorting, and indexing data.

May 5, 2013

We made our own napkins

We picked up a bundle of fat quarters at Stitches; Ava folded & pressed the hems while I ran the sewing machine.

May 4, 2013

Saturday afternoon sunshine

May 3, 2013

The security state is a blind, self-destroying idiot

Another tale of bureaucratic stupidity and the idiotic consequences of small-minded, courage-free, judgement-free “zero tolerance” policies: a 16-year-old high school student has been expelled, arrested, and charged with two felonies for doing the classic dissolving-aluminum hydrogen gas reaction.

Two felony charges. At age sixteen. For being so engaged in chemistry class that she decided to take what she’d learned and see if she could apply it further.

You know what? I did the same damn thing when I was sixteen, and I was a whole lot less responsible about it than Ms Wilmot apparently was. One day in chem class I set up an apparatus under the fume hood in the back of the class room, dissolved a bunch of aluminum into a vessel of hydrochloric acid, captured the resulting hydrogen, then blew the whole thing up.

It made a great big bang, startled my fellow students, and broke some glassware. I got a bunch of head-shaking and “there he goes again” remarks from my fellow students, and proceeded to clean up the mess and replace the broken glassware. I don’t think my teacher even had to tell me not to do it again – that was pretty much obvious. Oops.

Well, here I am, two decades later, and I defy anyone to explain how my life or the lives of anyone around me could have been improved in any way if I’d been dragged off to jail and charged with felonies for that little adventure. It’s easy to see a whole bunch of ways my life could have gone Very Badly Indeed had I been treated as badly as Ms Wilmot’s school has treated her.

It’s infuriating, it’s absurd, it’s utterly wrong, it’s just so goddamn stupid. “There are consequences to their actions”, the administrator says. Well, yes, if you mix chemicals, they react in certain ways! Those are the consequences! She didn’t hurt anyone, she didn’t even risk hurting anyone but herself, she just tried a really basic experiment! It was less danger than setting off a firecracker! Give her extra credit and bump her up to AP classes, send her to community college, something – this is a person who needs support and encouragement and access to resources she can use to continue feeding her curiosity and knowledge!

Such a waste, for her and for all of us.

May 2, 2013

In thirty-six years of life, I have called twenty different buildings “home”, and I’m about to add a twenty-first entry to the list. This time I’m buying: unless something goes horribly and unexpectedly wrong in the next couple of business days, Ava and I will be exchanging a big stack of signed paperwork for a set of keys, then moving a mile north-northeast to a nicely updated Craftsman bungalow over in Madison Valley.

This is not the recommended way to ride a motorcycle.