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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Happy Volcano Day, Everyone! (probable SPOILERS)

Because Volcano Day is how I - a lifetime resident of Washington State - think of it. Never mind that it's also my cousin's birthday, and the anniversary of a car crash Abby and I were in in 2005; it is and always shall be Volcano Day to me. It's the reason I can't watch Dante's Peak in spite of Pierce Brosnan; I don't care how bad the science in the movie is, it seems all too plausible, especially as it begins with "Somewhere in the Cascade Mountain Range of Washington State..." It's also why the Firebird Suite is associated with Disney to me, and why I tend to skip over The Fires of Pompeii when re-watching Doctor Who episodes.

It did not occur to me today when +Laston Kirkland and I went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness that it's Volcano Day. I went for the Star Trek and the Cumberbatch-y goodness, so I was a tiny bit taken aback when the movie opened with a volcano.

But it did.

Spock & Uhura, 1966
And the movie was just as epic as the name would imply.

Spock and Uhura, 2013
Now, I usually have an issue with remakes of films or books, never mind remakes of whole universes (don't get me started on Starship Troopers). But for some reason I have no beef with the Star Trek reboot; I find that I can accept it as an alternate universe and call it good. I see no issues in the Spock and Uhura relationship, for instance; it is subtly implied in the original series (and more overtly so in the Pocketbooks), and it seems fairly plausible to me. The woman is more than the telephone operator after all; she's a cultural specialist and linguist, she's extremely intelligent, and Spock has his mother's example as a cross-species relationship as being okay.

As I was very cross-fandom today, wearing my Doctor Who T-Shirt into a Star Trek movie. Also, I noticed a number of references to Who and Star Wars and other fandoms in the film itself, including a small but vital part played by one Noel Clarke. I thought it was him, but as he looked older than the role I know him best in, and I am a well-behaved movie-goer who does not search the IMDB on her smartphone during the movie, I had to wait until afterward. The references to Sherlock came fast and furious of course, with Cumberbatch playing a smarter-than-thou sociopath, with Reichenbach-style falls, while wearing a Badass Longcoat no less.

So very troperiffic.

And so very crowded; I haven't sat that close to the screen in more than twenty years, when Captain Von Tropp Christopher Plummer was a Klingon with an eye patch nailed to his skull. Of course, this is the first time I've gone to a blockbuster on opening weekend since then, too. My fellow geeks smell better these days.

In any case, it was a fun morning, and now we're on to a fairly relaxing afternoon, nothing but laundry and schoolwork on the work list; I plan on just taking it easy otherwise, getting well over this bronchitis before I start my new job Tuesday. I won't get to watch the season finale of Who until tomorrow night; please do not spoil me!

Friday, May 17, 2013


To most people, this initialism (a form of acronym, although my grammar-Nazi brain wants to say they are different things, but I digress) means either Personal Computer (if you're a computer geek) or Politically Correct (if you're a conspiracy theorist who believes that calling people what they want to be called is stupid follower of political news. There's a difference between politically correct and polite, but - again - I digress). To me it also means Phoenix Connect (the University of Phoenix' online forums) and - as I discovered today - Perfect Chinese.

Because it is.

I mean, my favorite won ton soup is still Chan's Place. But P.C. Restaurant has excellent hot-n-sour soup, so when Lizzy wanted "Girls' Night Out With Mommy at a Restauronk with Chinese Chicken... but not sushi," I indulged her. She's been missing Alone Time With Mommy since I've been working at the other end of town.

I justified it to myself by saying the doctor did suggest I have spicy and/or steamy stuff to clear out the bronchial crud. It's not terribly expensive as Chinese food goes, and as I said, their hot-and-sour soup is great. So is their General Tso's chicken. Lizzy liked the "Chinese" (by which she means "sweet and sour") chicken, and their pork fried rice was good too. We've eaten there before, but only their delivery menu, which is slightly different.

Abby - round pale face, pigtails
AbbyDoll - round,pale face, pigtails
Lizzy and AbbyDoll
So we did that, and then we got home and in our jim-jams. Lizzy has new ones, given to her by Gramma Dianna last weekend. The very coolest part of these jammies to Lizzy is that they have a matching nightgown for a doll, and so she put that on AbbyDoll (so named because... well, you can see the resemblance for yourself).

Not a bad end for a day that started with Abby musing aloud about how nice it would be if school had a snooze button.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

From Good to Better

You may know that I started a new job a couple months ago. It was good, and I was lucky to get it, and I was glad to have it. Nice perks, because although I didn't work for A Redmond Software Giant, I worked at A Redmond Software Giant, and therefore got all kinds of nice stuff like free drinks (of more than just coffee and tea) and a great cafeteria with a perfect salad bar, Orca Card, all that kind of thing. The job itself was fine; not my best thing as it's not a people-interaction job - I was part of the team that makes sure your movies and TV shows are available on your XBOX.

The commute was a problem, though, as I live north of Seattle, and this place (at a satellite campus of A Redmond Software Giant) is south and east. Sixty to ninety minutes one way, and that's with my carpool buddy, and with the Orca Card it was even worse because that is dependent on bus schedules from one suburb to another. When +Laston Kirkland and our girls picked me up for our trip last weekend, we joked that the only convenient thing about it was that when we go to visit his parents, I'm on the way out of town. As we only visit them once or twice a year, this is not a considering factor.

So I was looking for something closer to home in a desultory fashion - no urgent need, but it would sure be nice. As it was, we were getting home from work between 6:30 and 7PM, and as Lizzy's bedtime is 7:30, that meant either huge loss of family time, or Late Nights For Lizzy (which never go well). Every night. So, again, looking in a casual sort of way, not applying for everydamnthing I'm remotely qualified for anymore; now I can be a little picky about it.

And I got one!

It's customer service (way more my thing). It's better pay (always nice). Most importantly, it's about a fifteen minute drive from my house (or my mom's house, which - since she is my child care provider - is equally important). This not only saves me money (less gas and wear-and-tear on the car), it saves me time (about two hours a day) and sanity (not quite so rush-y in the morning or the evening) and gets me better grades (as that's not so rushed either). And this may sound silly, but it's customer service and technical support of medical equipment - a surgical laser - and therefore I feel like it's important. More important than making sure you get your back episodes of your show on time in any case.

I probably start Monday - their HR department is doing its new hire thing - and fill out paperwork tomorrow. I'm excited! I'll spend tomorrow doing that and laundry and housecleaning and faxing off my grant application... with breaks between as I'm getting over bronchitis. Again. Long story, with spring and asthma and travel and such.

I had fun at the XBOX movie gig. But think how much more fun I can have given two more hours of the day with my Gamers' Babes.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Everything!

Weekends don't get a lot busier than this one. Last year near this time we went to +Laston Kirkland's parents' place in southeastern Washington for a medical emergency. There wasn't a lot of time to plan that trip, but in a lot of ways it was much simpler, because I wasn't working.
Auntie Laura, Uncle Brian, Grandpa Joe, Grandma Dianna
Me, Abby, Laston, Leanna, and Lizzy

This time it was their anniversary. Their fiftieth anniversary. On Mothers' Day, as it turned out.

The last time I saw the extended family I was about seven months pregnant with Miz Liz, so nearly six years ago. We didn't bring the kids with us that time (except Lizzy in utero of course) and I got sunburned terribly, because - as I was pregnant at the time - nobody would let me do anything for myself. I spent the whole time outdoors in a big floppy hat and maternity shorts and top.

This time the sunburn was minimal - the back of Abby's neck and Leanna's nose - which is a Good Thing, because holy cow. 98F in May.

Seattleites are not equipped for this.

We got to our hotel - we don't as a rule stay in the house, but it's a small town - around 10:30 Friday night. The girls had napped in the car so I put Lizzy to bed in the bedroom of our family suite, and the older two lay on the hide-a-bed and watched Disney. I checked my email and my school stuff - Monday the 13th is the last day of this term - and everything was dandy, so I went to bed while the Hubs watched a movie on his Nook.

In the morning my laptop screen would not come on. We could hear the fan, it made all the proper noises. Just no picture. And this isn't the first time. Now, we are troubleshooters, so we tried several things. No dice.

And I still have a paper and a worksheet due on Monday by midnight - I did my part of the group paper before we left. Worked on Grandpa Joe's computer a bit, but all my existing stuff - the paper and the worksheet I'm working on - is on this laptop and his monitor cable doesn't fit.

I resign myself to borrowing the kids' computer or something, but at least I can keep up with the daily questions in the meantime.

We got home, after being on the road for seven hours, and my computer works fine.

Oh for crying out loud.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Oh, For the Love Of... (a Monday in the Life)

Seriously? Monday is kicking my butt.

Abby has a tummy ache. She's at Grandma's.

It's alder pollen season. This is never good. And, in fact, has caused (through violent sneezing) another Ood Eye Incident. Other eye this time, just for the variety, I suppose.

My new phone - only a month old, because the last one (a different brand) went kablooey in a slightly different, no-charging way - has well... gone kablooey. Will not power on. Yes, I have tried plugging it in to different outlets, with different chargers, tried all the funny little tricks (like hold-down-the-power-and-volume-down-buttons), gone through all the troubleshooting steps with the chat agent at AT&T. She says I need a warranty exchange. Fine. None of my local stores can do that; I have to go to the service center in Tukwila (other end of Seattle from my home, not too far from my work). Which only has the phone in a different color. Now, I would rather have the blue they have there, actually, but we're not sure they'll do a warranty exchange for anything but the exact same phone, including color. "You can call them," says the very nice lady at AT&T.

Um, yeah. No.

I was rude to her; my online "tone" was definitely snarky when I asked her how I would do that. With no phone. But I did apologize, and she offered to call them for me.

Keep in mind that all this - including this blog post - is done piecemeal while waiting for various things to save or load at work. A day I am grateful that our system is a bit slow.

Just got a note from Grandma; Abby is feeling a bit better after using the bathroom. Looks like just Tummy Troubles like she had at her dad's over the weekend.

Yeah, service center doesn't open for another 15 minutes. Of course. Why not? Add it to the pile.

None of this would bug me quite so much if I wasn't expecting a phone call from a person I have no other way of getting in touch with, to - say - ask him to email me instead. Or if my gas tank wasn't nearly empty and the bank I use to get money for gas in the opposite direction from the service center in question.

Heh - I found some info faster than the chat agent. She says I'm the Google Goddess. Technically, as it's a Windows Phone, I should probably be a Bingmaster, but, well...

Lovely chat agent very kindly stayed in chat until the service center opened so she could call them. Yeah, no, they don't support the greeny-yellow one. Well, dang. I need it as soon as I can possibly get it. Chat agent is finding out whether a) expedited shipping can get it here by tomorrow and be charged to my phone bill, and b) whether it can be shipped somewhere other than my home (the address they have on file).

a = yes and no - they can get it here by tomorrow, but the expedited shipping cannot be paid out of my phone bill. I expected this, but one may hope. And expedited shipping isn't hugely expensive.

b = yes and no - they can't ship it to an AT&T store, but they can ship it to my mom, also my babysitter, who I see every weekday and who is home (with my youngest) most of the day.

Still fixing bugs and staging new content and putting things live, and then checking with the chat agent every time something takes a bit to load or save.

Taking lunch early to get my ducks in a row.

And then (ANNND THEN!) we're green for go. Replacement phone going to be delivered via USPS Next Day to my mom, tomorrow. Lovely NatureBox shipment shipped and with luck it will get here before our trip this weekend. Travelling ducks in a pretty row. The only things left is to try to find alternate contact information for the call I'm expecting, to ask him to contact me via email instead.

And I don't have to drive to Tukwila.