Monday, February 26, 2007

Why It's Good to Read Other Mom's Blogs

I really needed to read this post today from Mama Tulip. Today was trying in ways I won't describe. Just standard mommy bad-day stuff, but nonetheless, it's always good to read that you're not alone.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Photo Friday - Textured

My entry for this week's Photo Friday. As mentioned previously, I have been playing around with my camera settings, and seeing what aperture can do. This is a hat my mother-in-law made for Tucker. I thought the textures were neat and took a few shots.

I am starting to add the watermarks (I think that's the right term) to my images. It's not that I think "oh, I am such a great photographer that someone's going to pirate my image", but I keep hearing about this happening to folks, and I want to be proactive.

I actually had time to play around with this one as both boys, by some small miracle, are napping at the same time!

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

You mean everything they said in the ad wasn't true?

Has anyone seen the ad for the Huggies Cool Alert diapers?

The basic premise (they're pull-ups, training pants, by the by) of these diapers is that, once your child wets him/herself, the diaper gets cold, and your child is so bothered by the coldness that it reinforces the idea of "diapers suck, underwear rules" that potty-training parents are trying to convey to the kids. In the ad, the boy immediately runs to the bathroom and goes after he feels how "cool" the diaper is.

Jackson was interested in the ad (he sees advertising with kids in it and tends to pay attention), and I am willing to try anything, and since they cost no more than normal Pull-Ups, and since they still have the Cars graphics on them (and since Jackson hates being cold), I thought I would give them a whirl.

These things don't work that way on my boy.

He could care less how cold those things get. He'll still sit in a wet diaper for hours if you let him. Plus, unlike regular Pull-Ups, these leave a weird residue on him sometimes - I've had to turn around and put him in the bath because a wipe won't get that stuff off. I think that's what bothers me the most.

So we're back to regular Pull-Ups. And yes, I know these things won't get him potty-trained any faster - the only reason we use them is around age 1 it got hard to get Jackson to hold still for a diaper (I think we're heading down the same road with Tucker). I think tomorrow we may go all underwear, no diaper, since we have no plans to leave the house. We'll see if he's agreeable to that.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fun with Google

Recent google searches that landed people right here:

"photo of emily altschul" - um, sorry, wrong number.
"rebooting your dell" - does this require a google search?
"faith hill and tim mcgraw's house in brentwood, tn" - combined with that and the old mark slaughter searches, I guess I am the go-to spot on the word on tennessee celebrities?
"ankle buckles walking down stairs" - don't I know it.
"fracture of the fibia" - I am the leg-breaking mommy destination on the web.
"concertmate 900" - rockin' the Radio Shack keyboard.

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Photo Friday: Self Portait

For last Friday's Photo Friday Challenge:

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

You mean she didn't look just like Liz Taylor?

I heard this years ago.

"The notion that Cleopatra was not in Taylor's league was hailed as a revelation in British newspapers on Valentine's Day, though the image is hardly a discovery."

I love scientific discoveries that have, in fact, been know by people for centuries. The article quotes Plutarch on Cleopatra: "her actual beauty, it is said, was not in itself so remarkable that none could be compared with her."

So if Plutarch knew just a century after Anthony/Cleopatra, then how is this a "revelation"?


Friday, February 09, 2007

Photo Friday: Sky

Rural Middle Tennessee. Yes, the focus is soft.


A park at Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville, Tennessee. It was a beautiful day as it transformed into evening.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Aperture Experiments

I've been experimenting more with aperture since buying the new camera (LOVE IT) and took these a couple of weeks ago. My mom wants to sell my brother's trumpet, and left it with me to take it to our local middle school band director to see if he can sell it. I took the opportunity to play around. I love slightly abstract shots like this and love music and instruments. And it is a beautiful trumpet.
I think it's obvious here that I am going for a "view while playing the instrument" shot. It would have been way cooler with a blue sky background, a la marching band, but that was lacking at 11pm or so at night. So you got "trumpet a la as much light as I could muster in our bedroom without waking the boys". I did this shot where the entire instrument remains in focus, but due to the ceiling background versus a real sky, this is the better shot:

This second shot has its faults - technically I should have focused on the first key (and meant to do so) but I am still learning on the D-SLR, folks. I got some good critique on it as a subject on a online website I sometimes participate in. A lot of people thought this was a radio dial when just viewing the thumbprint:

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blogger ate my Homework

So you're getting a revised post. The nitty gritty - one of our two local newspapers (how we support two is a mystery) published an editorial piece on a bilingual book, Marcos Counts, being distributed FOR FREE as part of Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. His feelings were that American children need to learn English first, establishing a good foundation in their native language before learning another one. This feeling, he admitted, is despite the opinions of experts that children soak up languages when exposed to them at an early age. Marcos ended up being sent to Goodwill, per the author of the piece. He's apparently since received a couple of letters that charge him as a racist.

For journalistic integrity (HA) I think it should be noted that I graduated as a Spanish major and studied in Mexico for a year.

We own not one but two copies of Marcos Counts, one purchased used by my mom a couple of years back, and this second received as Dolly's selection for Tucker last month. It's a real simple book; I don't know about it for 6 month olds, but Jackson likes it and kids grow into books and favor different books all the time, just like adults.

I don't think the author of the editorial piece is racist, although I have to wonder if he would feel differently if it was Francois Counts or Hans Counts. I think the Spanish language has a stigma in this country of being associated with illegal immigration.

Here are my problems with what he wrote, from both a mom-view and from that of someone who took the time to learn a foreign language:

1. This is my primary problem with his editorial: I don't understand denying a child any sort of educational opportunity. You've got a free book, a free way to give your child a small head-start on very basic foreign language education. You don't even have to use the book right away - you can wait until your child is a pre-schooler, perhaps.

2. Additionally, this book does not beat someone over the head with Spanish, and doesn't even have to be read in Spanish as the numerals are used in addition to the Spanish words for the numbers. You could totally read this book in English, reinforcing basic math skills as well as vocabulary. So donating to Goodwill for this reason just doesn't make sense to me.

3. I had the same feelings about Baby Signs that he has about young children learning Spanish. I thought the Baby Signs would actually slow down his language development when in fact all the speech therapists and every expert says any type of communication helps foster language development. Sign language is another language much like Spanish, so I would think that this would hold true here.

4. I think he is confusing "language education" with "forcing everyone to speak x language", as he mentions government documents in Spanish.

5. Considering the growth of the Hispanic population, he is really denying his child if he doesn't provide some sort of basic Spanish exposure.

6. Jackson is starting to learn basic Spanish - colors and numbers. I did wait until he knew them in English first, but he's smart enough to understand that it's just a different way to say the word. Red is rojo - they're both the same thing. Just like "small" and "little" - two English words - mean the same thing.

7. He counters in a follow-up article that those already here need to learn how to speak English. I couldn't agree more - they're hurting themselves by not learning to speak English. However, I arrived in Monterrey, Mexico in August 1998 with 4 years of classroom Spanish behind me (and a nice lengthy history of A's in those classes). I was overwhelmed - I could not understand a thing. Language education takes time, even for a student dedicating herself to studying a language. Imagine how it is to attempt to learn another language while working to support yourself or your family.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Have you tried rebooting your computer? @$#$#@$!

I hate calling tech support. I have a general dislike of being talked down to, and it's basically guaranteed that I will be talked down to when I call tech support.

Within the last week I have called tech support for both Dell and Comcast. It's like a tale of two opposites - how to do things halfway, and how to do it right.


I called Dell last week. My monitor decided to go loco on me. It first started one night, and then the next morning it was on for a few hours and then just start.blinking. I obviously rebooted (several times) - no luck there. If I turned the monitor off and then back on, I could see things loading briefly before the blink started again. I checked the power connections (I've called tech support before, so I know the drill). So once Tucker was down for a nap and Jackson was watching Dora, I (grudgingly) called tech support.

Of course, she has me boot the computer. I had turned it off so I am waiting for it and reading her all manner of serial numbers while this happens. And what do I see when I look at the monitor?

It's fine. Right down to the National Geographic wallpaper.

Tucker wakes up around the time she wants me to run umpteen million drills to determine the problem (because of course, stupid me cannot possibly be right that it is the monitor, so I need to go through hoops for her amusement). I tell her I can't be doing this now; baby waking up means I can't unplug, plug, restart, put my right leg in, put my right leg out right now. She of course wants me to call her if this happens again. She provides me her name and voicemail number/extension.

Luckily I was concerned that the monitor would go out again and had already arranged a backup via my mom. They brought it that night - lucky thing, since five minutes after setting down to work the blink started again.

The next day when BOTH boys are napping I call the voicemail number she provided. Of course the voicemail is a generic extension; I debate calling the number and trying to get straight to a tech but the chump in me believed that she might actually call me back.


I get a call back the next day at around 10am from a dude. Of course at 10am Jackson and I were in the middle of a little art project; the Dell dude from 10,000 miles away says that he won't take time, that we just need to do a few simple steps.

First I have to plug in the monitor (without it being hooked up to the computer; easy enough since I unplugged that two nights before). It's supposed to show a self test, but of course I get blink.blink.blink. I describe this to him and just a few minutes in the monitor corrects itself and goes into the self test. I tell him this. He then wants me to power off the monitor, plug it into the computer (meaning I have to remove cable for borrowed monitor). It seems I have to do a few pushups too, I don't know.

Might I remind you that I am doing all this mess while my eldest is sitting in the kitchen with crayons?

Anyway, computer starts up and the monitor's fine.

Then the dude starts to say "Well, since your monitor's fine I don't know what we can do...".

Whoa. Wait a sec here dude. An unpredictable monitor is not fine. No way, no how.

His solution for me is to turn off the auto power-off for the monitor. Great, now my screensave will just run all day. Super. Then he tells me that, should this happen again, to call and they'll replace the monitor. At which point I am sure I will be performing feats of computer strength.

And before he ends the call, he tells me to "try to check the power connections when you get a chance". Which I already did. Ridiculous.

Whereas my phone call with Comcast this afternoon (paraphrased):

Me: My internet connection has been the pits for a couple of weeks.
Tech: Yeah. I'm looking here and you've got some problems. It's [I won't bore you with the details, but he actually does not talk down to me]. I'll send a tech out tomorrow; we'll see if the one that came to your house before can come. How 'bout tomorrow?

That's how it's supposed to work, Dell. What's your problem? How can WE fix it.