Friday, October 24, 2008

Adventures in Computing

I have a lovely custom desktop at my house. I built it. So I really chose carefully what goes in it. It has two gigabyte of memory and a 250 gigabyte hard drive.

I have a teenaged son. He likes to look at p*rn. Animated p*rn, to be precise. I found this out because he likes to look at it on my computer. This bothers me because this is not the p*rn that I remember my brother and my guy friends looking at. Evidently, tasteful p*rn is more expensive than really tacky p*rn produced by drunken amateurs. I was of course, horrified. What mother wouldn't be? Especially since, and this is important, it is on my computer. In my cache. Popping up when I am trying to do other things. So I bought Cybersitter. I did my research. It claimed to block sites that I wanted to block and allow sites that I wanted to allow. And sure 'nuff; it did. For months.

Then it started malfunctioning. Someone, somewhere, forgotten to share with me an important truth: Norton 360 and parental control software cannot exist on the same computer at the same time. If an unsuspecting person tries to force them to, one of them explodes. I have had this experience before, with daughters instead of software, and a single bedroom instead of a computer. A similar result ensued, though, and we moved into a house with an extra bedroom.

So I try to uninstall Cybersitter. But I had waited too late. There was no patching things up at this point. Cybersitter and Norton 360 were duking it out. They were headed to divorce court. But neither one would leave the house.

So not only do I have these two programs completely blocking my access to the internet (and my email-- this marks me as a digital immigrant), but in trying to use the Repair function that comes with Cybersitter, it got stuck in a loop, refreshing an "information" box (a.k.a., an idiot box) every second. So I couldn't do anything on my computer. I could not get Cybersitter to open up to disable it.

Then I do what any self-respecting nerd would do: I try to boot Windows in Safe Mode. Not happening. Cybersitter had hijacked my safe mode. Fine, I thought. I went into my BIOS to changed the boot order. The computer should not have been able to boot from my hard drive.

But it did.

At that point, I gave up. We took it to the shop. They were able to work their magic and uninstall the divorcing programs. This magic, however, was not free. I spent $40 on the program and $50 removing it.

And now, I am back to having to look at a Princess Jasmine, topless.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

War Eagle

War Eagle Craft Fair is, truly, one of the reasons that I love living in Arkansas. Located in the middle of nowhere is this old mill where a craft fair has been held every fall since the 1950s. War Eagle, is a bit different from a typical craft fair. While there are quilts, carved wood spirits, embellished sweatshirts and hand poured lip balm, there are also museum quality Shaker boxes (starting at $20-- I kid you not!), metal sculptures, and home furnishings made from salvaged lumber.

We meant to leave early-- right after I dropped Mea off at school. But instead, I decided to drop by Kroger and pick up some food for breakfast and lunch, so we wouldn't have to eat out. That took about a half hour, of course. Todd had taken a personal day, and we took the younger kids out of school so they could come (and we wouldn't have to make arrangements to get them picked up). We finally got out of the house about 9. We started west on I-40. And drove and drove. We stopped at the park in West Fork for a picnic lunch (which Olivia didn't like, of course).

Another hour on from West Fork, we got to War Eagle. Going on a Friday is infinitely preferable to going on Saturday. We drove right up to the parking area and parked with minimal fuss. The boys and girls basketball teams from Elkins were directing parking to earn money for new uniforms.

At the main fair, there are four huge tents. Each tent has four rows of crafters inside. Booth after booth of (mostly) wonderful items. I do have to say, though, that I am not sure that the organizers juried as strictly this year as in years past. Some of the items for sale did not look to have significant hand work done on them, at least to my eyes. And I am not exactly a novice. But other items were amazing. I bought a box from Got an Idea Primitives, made out of beautiful wood. Judging from their website, it seems likely that the wood is salvaged, which just makes me happier. I am on a green kick right now, especially in terms of furniture. I hate particle board (and with my kids, it is really a waste of time to even bring particle board home), and I am too poor to afford "fine" furniture. So I have acquired a taste for mid-century vintage furniture to combat this. But salvaged from a house being torn down? Even better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

High school drama is not high school musical comedy

High school drama, is, I have decided less fun than a high school musical comedy. There are fewer cute teachers and a lot less singing and dancing.

This all started because I suggested that Mea invite a group of friends to see the new Michael Cera movie because one of her friends felt Neglected. So my dear Mea's starts making up a guest list on Facebook, because that is where teenages do such things these days. God forbid they actually make phone calls. Anyway, said Neglected Friend has decided that since Mea invited people that Neglected Friend does not like, that obviously means that Mea is selfish and inconsiderate. Bear in mind, that only two of people that Mea invited Neglected Friend does not like. But one of them is Boyfriend to the ShyFriend that we drive home from band. The other one that Neglected Friend does not like is friends with every other person in the group. What evil must this disliked girl have perpetrated on Neglected Friend? She said something tacky a couple times in 7th grade.

So Mea is obviously a Bad Friend. Would you believe this consumes hours of my time? Mea tries to make peace. With everyone. She doesn't want to hurt people's feelings by leaving them out, which happens when you invite everyone you hang out with, but the people that Neglected Friend does not like. However, Neglected Friend makes so much drama out of every imagined slight, that she kind of bullies her other friends into doing things her way. On the bright side, one of their other friends got to hear the drama for the first couple of hours, cause Mea was with me and W and Miss O at 4-H. See why I want the singing and dancing? Really, whoever did the music for Wicked could totally do the music for High School Drama- The Musical Version. It couldn't be worse than Springtime for Hitler, right?

Speaking of 4-H, it has changed a bit since Doc Blanchard and Linda King, Newton County's extention agents, used to come to Mt. Judea school once a month to hold meetings. In those days, dad stopped by the courthouse in Jasper and picked up a project book, for free. I suspect they just pointed him to the file cabinet and told him to get what he wanted. These days, I have to order the materials online, and they are so not-free. I spent, seriously, like $50 on project books for my three kids! (Did I mention that these used to be FREE?). Anyway, Mea and W are both officers in the 4-H chapter, so I guess that we are commited, possibly for life. Oh, and my sister-in-law's sister is the co-leader of the chapter, so I was probably in trouble long before the election.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


So my life is kind of settling out. No crises lately. Mind you, we are still living out of boxes, but no crises.

My home phone is now working. During my furor at AT&T, I switched to voice over ip (VoIP) through my new cable internet. (Which does not, incidentally, work as well as DSL. Download speed seems to be okay-- upload speed not so much). It has technically been connected since the 6th, but I couldn't get it to work. Changing a router setting and power cycling everything seems to have done the job, finally. Best part? $15 a month, for caller id, voice mail, call waiting, etc. Lot less money than I was paying. I just have to gut out the cable internet.

Todd & I went to the homecoming festivities. It was fun seeing former students on the homecoming floats & then we got plates & headed over the Honors tent to hang out with my friends. Except then the lousy country cover-band started playing. Loudly. And kept playing. Why on earth did someone book a band to play during the tailgating? We couldn't talk to each other. Believe me, none of us would have walked across the street to hear that band play (not that we would have needed to), but we had spent time planning to be together at Homecoming to hang out. And so we tried to get our visiting in during the breaks between the songs. Not fun. But the food was good.

W had a quiz bowl tournament today. Not that he competes, but he is an alternate. Anyway, when he got home, he only made a half-hearted effort to get in touch with us before walking home. Well, of course, it takes him forever. So we worry and worry and worry, and finally cut the tailgating short and headed off to look for him. Before we got out of the parking lot, though, (of course), Mea called to tell us that he made it home. But we still left. Didn't want to haul all that stuff back up to the tent.

Really, some days, the kids make me crazy.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Site visits are fun. I get to see what other teachers do and what other classes do. Tuesday, I went to Clarksville. Good teacher, great students. Good stuff.

I had the bright idea that I was going to head up to my parents' house from there, since it is in the same general area. (Clarksville is in Johnson County-- parents live in Newton).

I set my borrowed TomTom GPS for their house and took off. It led me down the road and out of town. Then it led me down a dirt road. I approached this road with a bit of trepidation. But I know, from growing up in the country, that sometimes short stretches of dirt road connect two paved roads. So I headed on. And on. After a while, I decided I must have done something wrong. Or if not, I still could not manage this; my spare is inoperable. Dirt roads are, well, bumpy. I was concerned about my tires. And my well-being. The van has been in less-than-perfect-running-order of late. So I check the settings on the GPS. Turns out, I had told it to take me to Vendor by the shortest route. So I told it to take me by the fastest. And I went down the road again. As I got more dirt roads, I told it to just take me back to Clarksville.

So it led me further into the woods. Eventually, I started noticing how pretty the area was, how clean, how... dust free. No trash in the brush. The road was a bit washed out (not that uncommon here); then I drove over a broken culvert. At this point, I start looking for a place to turn around. I gear down, because the hill is steep. Eventually, I get to the top of the hill. The map shows that it is not that much further, so I thought I might just follow it. Then I saw the tree. Across the road. So I turned around. The last thing I need to find is someone's patch, or worse, lab.

So I get to the bottom of the abandoned road, and just head for home. Dirt road or not, as long as I saw houses, I figured that I would be okay. At Hagersville, Strawberry Loop (the county road I eventually landed on) turned into a paved road, and I was home free on Hyw 123.

So I made it to my parents' house, where I saw for myself that my dad survived his eye surgery. He had, in his fearless way (I come by my idiocy naturally), punctured his eye brush hogging the field. His eye fluid was leaking, but he finished what he was doing, then he put the tractor up and drove home, then called Mom. Mom left school and came and got him & took him to town, where he saw the optomitrist. Who referred him to an opthamologist. Who sent him to Springfield for emergancy surgery. That was Monday. On Tuesday, when I saw him, he had one stitch, and some eyedrops. And could see out of that eye.

Fortunately, my trip home was less eventful.