Anyone else see the problem here?

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That’s my driveway. It’s a bit of an optical illusion – those trees are not as immediate a threat to my power line as they appear, but how they got to this state suggests they may soon be. Several years ago we had a freakish 10+” snowstorm in October when trees still had most of their leaves. It damaged and killed tons of trees in our area, and we had no power for almost 7 days as a result. It also took me 2 years to clean up my own property. One of the leaning trees in this photo was killed during that storm, and has slowly, ever so slowly been toppling over, grabbing other trees on the way down. A recent windstorm changed the angle by at least 15 degrees or so, and a collapse now seems imminent. If they fell on their own they are unlikely to hit our power line despite how it appears in the photo, but our worry is they will pull trees on the other side of the driveway down with them, and those will reach the power line.

Long story short we called a tree guy, who is going to take those down and also remove all limbs anywhere near our power line so we don’t confront this problem any more. Meanwhile here’s hoping no storms bring them down before he can get the work done.

Dual birthday party a rousing success

Here’s the family sans me shortly before the festivities commenced:
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Since their birthdays are so close together we decided to hold a joint birthday party this year, once again at the Holyoke Children’s Museum. The kids love the place and had a blast. We had a about 20 children attend along with roughly as many parents, and everything went off without a hitch. Afterwords we visited the adjacent Holyoke Merry go round for a ride and both kids met Santa Clause for the first time, which they also loved. Hopefully Susan or I will get more photos up of the festivities – if we find time to do that I’ll post the link here.

An unlikely sequence of events

I’ve been using a Sansa Clip MP3 player while doing yard work for years now – they’re inexpensive, tiny, durable, and you can install Rockbox on them, which has the most bulletproof audiobook playback of any device I’ve used (as an aside, seriously, why is this so hard to do well? I have one thing an audiobook player must always do: remember where I was last time I listened to the book, without fail. Rockbox never fails, all others sometimes do). Anyway I had it in my pants pocket Saturday while mowing up the seasons’s leaves. I had snaked the headphone cable under my coat, something I’ve taken to doing to keep it getting hooked on something while mowing. Only a little loop sticks out between my coat and pants pocket. Somehow an apple tree branch snagged it, which I discovered when the book suddenly stopped and I noticed the end of the headphone cord dangling down the side of the mower. Bummer! It had apparently been flung into the leaves I had been mulching, and I spent the next half hour or so with a rake trying to tease it out of the piles. Many curses later, I had not found it. I gave up, finished mulching, then went inside for lunch. I ordered a replacement Sansa Clip from Amazon while I ate, this time a garish colored one the better to notice it next time. I came back out later with my phone for audio to mulch a different section of the yard. When it got dark I headed inside and tossed the fleece coat I had been wearing down the basement steps into the laundry pile. It hit the basement wall with crash, and bits of my Sansa clip scattered onto the floor, to my great surprise. Somehow that apple branch flung it from my jeans pocket into my fleece coat pocket, which in itself seems impossible, and then I took that coat off and put it on again at least twice without noticing that the player was in its pocket. Granted it’s the size of a matchbox, roughly, but are you kidding me? Worse, I tried to cancel the order with Amazon but missed the window, so now I have two Sansa Clips, one with a busted clip.

This wasn’t much fun the second time either

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Brady was in the emergency room for the second time in his young life, once again for a seizure brought on by a rapid spike in temperature. Last time this happened it was absolutely terrifying. Susan and I spent a horrific 30 minutes driving to the hospital with basically no information aside from ‘he had a seizure.’ This time was sort of the same deal, but with us sitting there thinking ‘man, basically I hope this is the same thing.’

It was. He had a second febrile seizure and the doctors were not particularly concerned. His primary care doctor didn’t even think it necessary to see him the day after the event, they’re so unconcerned, so I’m trying hard to follow their lead.

He and I spent the day together while he recuperated and it was fun, though he did manage to scare me about as badly as I’ve ever been scared. He went down for his nap still with a mild fever. I went up to check on him after 2 hours and he was laying there staring off into space with a blank look. He didn’t react to me entering the room or me saying his name several times, causing me to panic and rush over to him, at which point he sleepily looked up at me and said ‘what, Dad?’

What indeed. This child rearing stuff is tough!

Let the record reflect that Laura’s first word is…

…’up.’ Of course she’s been communicating with us for months, but this is the first intentional verbalization that she’s consistently using correctly, including when she wants it to happen and when she recognizes it’s about to happen to her. Susan is a bit disappointed that it’s not ‘Mom,’ a word Laura does understand and sometimes use, to counterbalance the fact that Brady’s first word was ‘Dad,’ but it is what it is, the kid wants up 🙂

Don’t click on that gift horse

An episode at work which I recently wrote up brought an old story to mind.

I have an acquaintance who was one of the founders of Flooz, a dot.com 1.0 startup which offered a virtual currency that was accepted at participating websites. Many folks remember it because of its silly name and because Whoopie Goldberg was their celebrity spokesperson and appeared in a lot of advertising.

Flooz came to an unhappy end – organized crime allegedly figured out a way to use Flooz in a money laundering scheme, and it was shut down abruptly, with most people who held Flooz losing all their currency.

I was aware of this, and as things came to a head I happened to be reading Fuckedcompany.com, which was a site insiders used to come visit to trade war stories about the dot.coms as they imploded during the original dot.com collapse in the late 90’s. One of the posters claimed that he had discovered the method the criminals were using to exploit the system, a backdoor url anyone could use.

As I was reading this my girlfriend at the time had come home. I clicked the link, thinking that while it was unlikely, I might discover something of use to my friend. My girlfriend came into the room shortly after I clicked.

What happened after I clicked is my browser went berserk and began spawning pop-up windows with photos of explicit gay sex.

I should mention that our relationship at this time was on the rocks. It was already clear to me that things were coming to the end between us, but we hadn’t had ‘that talk’ yet. I had taken to sleeping on the couch a lot though, a prelude to the impending separation.

My girlfriend freaked out. What the FUCK is that!!! was her basic reaction. Is this why you’re sleeping on the couch? What the fuck! And so on.

Explaining things was harder back then because pop up advertising was brand new and most folks weren’t really web savvy – this included my girlfriend. She was no dummy, but she also basically didn’t understand what I did for a living and had only a nominal sense of what the web was – she had been exposed to it, and used it occasionally, but it’s not like today where it’s a common experience with a shared vocabulary. Also bear in mind that this was over 10 years ago – computers were slower and browsers were more fragile. My machine’s reaction to this accretion of popup windows was…to……get…………..ever……………………slower, ultimately ignoring mouse input and other attempts to stem the tide of new images. Why it didn’t occur to me to just flip of the monitor instead sitting their frantically clicking close boxes as I tried to stammer out an explanation for what was happening on the screen I’ll never know, but that just made the explanation seem flimsier at first.

I did talk my way through it and calm her down, but man was it embarrassing. Ultimately we recovered, as did the machine after a reboot. For years after this I kept this to myself, but nowadays it’s fodder for cocktail hour story time when I’m looking for a laugh and the audience seems right.