Category Archives: Technology

Baboon Ink

Saturday is Husband’s birthday, and last week his younger brother sent a wonderful but puzzling gift. Husband has always liked fountain pens.  Enclosed in the package was a narrow box which contained some writing apparatuses that had belonged to their paternal grandfather.  In the box from a Wheeling, West Virginia jewelry store were a dip pen and a bone pencil and their accoutrements.

We have determined that there is no ink reservoir on the pen. It was manufactured by the Edward Todd company,  and has the number 11 on the nib. The pen is probably gold, either 14 or 18 carat. There is a weird black plunger that appears to serve to hold what we think are steel calligraphy nibs in place. There is also an odd little gold topper that doesn’t fit into anywhere on the pen.

 

The pencil came with tiny round metal canisters containing really thick leads that seem to fit into the larger end of the pencil.

We have done some online research regarding these writing instruments,  but without much luck. Do Baboons have any ideas?  We don’t know if Husband is going to actually  use the pen, but it is a nice piece of family history to have. I have no idea if you can you still purchase bottles of ink.

What are your favorite writing instruments?  What were your experiences learning to write? What is your handwriting like now?

 

Back To The Mine

The unbelievable has happened.  After several months of furlough, my company has asked me to come back half-time.  20 hours a week.  Half of my regular salary and health-care.

I have to admit – it never occurred to me that I would come out of all this with a job.  I have been assuming that I would get the call any minute that I would be officially laid off.  My company was extremely generous to keep me on furlough despite how devastated the travel industry continues to be but I just didn’t think it could continue indefinitely. 

What this means is that I have completely given myself over to the idea that I am done with work, despite the fact that I certainly haven’t gotten the hang of retirement.  Even after all these months, I tend to beat myself up for “wasting” time when I don’t get enough done during a day, even when I don’t actually have anything that needs doing.  The house is cleaner that it has been in years, cooking is happening, crafts are being done, animals are happy but this is not taking up massive amounts of time.

I accepted the work offer (if I hadn’t, then I WOULD have been laid off at the end of March) and I “start” on Monday.  Of course, I don’t get my new equipment until Tuesday morning, so my 20 hours won’t really start until then.  Several of my previous programs have re-scheduled or are in the process so there is actual work to be done, just not sure how much time it will take.  Work will still be done from home – our company has officially closed its offices until June and I will stay home until the pandemic has passed.  So my “lady of leisure” phase has passed but at least it’s for a job I like.  For now.

What job would you REALLY not like to do?

Paper Chase

There is a mysterious creature in our home, one that is a constant source of puzzlement for our cat. The creature resides in the room with the computer. It whirs, makes odd internal noises, and then shoots out paper.  Sometimes the creature pulls the paper back inside before shooting it out a final time. It usually comes to life when Husband is seated at the dining room table working on his laptop.

Whenever she hears the creature make a noise, Luna races to the computer room and  peers into the place where  the paper emerges. She often walks behind it to see if anything is there, then perches along side it to watch the paper come out.

If she is feeling particularly feisty, she will stick her paw in to catch the paper. That usually results in me or Husband needing to fix a paper jam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other day I changed out ink cartridges,  and Luna was very, very interested to see what was inside  when I opened the front. There was no creature to be seen, though, just gears.

I imagine Luna vowing to solve the mystery and find the creature inside the printer.  Until then, she has a constant source of amusement and intrigue to keep her life interesting.

What mystery would you like to solve?  What mystery novel character would you like to be? What makes your life interesting these days?

 

Let’s Let the Letts Fix It

Our Governor  is a former Big Tech guy, and I am pretty certain the State IT Department  is a trial and a headache for him. He was successful in the private sector, but this is the public sector,  and things are somewhat different here.

For some reason, the State Unemployment Office, and only the State Unemployment Office,  is supported by an extremely old computer system for  which there is no IT support in the State. In fact, there is no support for the system or its programs in the entire US. The only people in the entire world who still know how to fix this system are in Latvia.

The Governor  is really upset about the millions of dollars the State is paying Latvians to keep the system  up and running. This has apparently been going on for years. He is proposing a huge item in this biennium’s budget (yes, the ND legislature only meets every two years) to replace the system. I would assume the legislature would go along with this, but you never know. It may cost less in the short-term to keep employing Latvians instead of a huge capital outlay right now.  We shall see how the upcoming legislative session turns out.

What country would you like to visit to repair things or teach people skills? What country would you like to hire repair people from, if it meant they would come to your house to make the repairs? What would you want them to fix?

 

Fumes

My father didn’t cook.  I can’t even recall him ever making a sandwich, much less cooking.  He did chop the onions and celery for stuffing on Thanksgiving (the only time I ever saw him chop anything) and late in life he did start making bouillabaisse occasionally – a dish with which my mother resolutely refused to be associated. 

Of course, being a middle-class American male, he did the outdoor grilling (although my mother prepared anything that was going on the grill).  I can still envision my father dousing the coals, lighting the match and flinging it from as far as he could manage.  The grill would practically explode in flames; my father used gasoline, not lighter fluid to start the fire.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as lighter fluid until I was an adult out on my own.

You’d think that having watched my father blow up the grill on a regular basis growing up that I would have a good sense of the power of gasoline.  Three weeks ago, after the last measurable snow, I got my snowblower out for the first time this winter.  It was given to me by a neighbor who moved to Chicago; he left his gas can to me as well.  As I was adding gas to the machine I noticed that the spout had sprung a leak and to keep the gas from running all over, I held the spout together with my gloved hand.  Since my glove was now wet with gas, I pulled a second glove from my pocket and pulled it on over the first.

When I got all done and went inside, I pulled off the gloves along with all my now-sweaty clothing and threw it all in the washing machine with a few other dirty items from my hamper.  Now some of you are probably already shaking your head, but I was still clueless until I opened the washing machine later to the overpowering small of gas.   If I had known I was about to do something stupid, it would have been easy to find online advice about gas on clothing.  But since I hadn’t known, now I had a washing machine full of gas fume-filled clothing.

It took me a full week and at least six washings (some with just vinegar and water, some with detergent) before I was willing to put the clothes in the dryer and even then I ran the dryer on air dry for over an hour.  Now that it’s been a couple of weeks, I’ve lost track of what clothes were in that load but I’m still feeling compelled to smell things as they come out of the washer.  (Oh, and I threw the gloves away when I realized what I had done.)

Done anything foolish recently that could have been avoided with a bit of advice?

Stymied

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I volunteered to stop at the Grocery store the other day. Typically, that’s either Target or HyVee. Usually HyVee because I like the Smile in Every Aisle. And we know a few of the kids who bag groceries.

I only had to pick up a few things; Cheese, sliced deli ham, lettuce, milk.

I picked up some Halo Oranges because they’re right at the front door you know. I like oranges, but they’re unpredictable; I might get 18 good oranges and then a bad one and that’s it; I’m off oranges. But the little Halo’s; they always seem to be good. I never liked mandarins, just Halo’s. Then it was pointed out to me that Halo’s ARE mandarins. I refused to believe it at first; I don’t LIKE mandarins; don’t make me eat them! Ah well, another life lesson learned. So, I got Halos, I got ham, I got cheese… and then I remember I need lettuce and I stood there by the meat department trying to picture where the lettuce is in the store. I’m thinking well, it must be refrigerated but I can’t quite picture it over with the pizzas. I look around where I just was with the baloney and I know I didn’t see it there… Hmmm… I just can’t picture it. I had to ask a kid stocking a shelf and as soon as he pointed, I knew where it was. Just over there by the oranges. He gave me detailed instructions on finding them.

Just a brain fart on my part; soon as he pointed, I knew where it was.

Over to the lettuce and Kelly had given me pretty simple instructions; I just needed HyVee or Dole Shredded lettuce. (Sometimes it’s more complicated than that). And I get over there and it’s a whole wall of lettuce. I had to call Kelly. Again. I can’t usually go to the grocery store without a call to clarify something.

Lettuce shouldn’t be so hard. But there’s kale and spinach and coleslaw and green leaf and red leaf and Romain and Swiss chard, salad greens, and organic and and and. Kelly talks me through it. “All the way over on the right are the apples. Next to them are the boxes of lettuce we usually buy. Then there’s the shredded…” Ah. There it is. Boy. It shouldn’t be so hard for me. I’ve always joked I can’t find it if you put it right under my nose like that. And if I think it should be “here” and you move it over six inches, I’ll never find it.

The next day at Target I couldn’t find the Bi-Flex pills for our aching joints. She asked if I was in aisle E14. Yes I was. She kept telling me the Target App said they had it. I told her I begged to differ. The app was right. It was down on the bottom shelf and stuck in the back of the rack. Darn apps think they’re always right.

Got a favorite phone, iPad, or computer app?  

Temper, Temper

I am rather chagined to admit I had two tantrums at work this week. They involved cussing and slamming doors.  I am considered a pretty calm person at work, so the times when Dr. B,  as I am known  there,  loses her temper,  are alarming to my coworkers. I need to apologize.

There have been continuous changes at my work over the past two years in all aspects of what we do to  provide mental health services.  Covid has accelerated technological changes that were on the State back burner.  This has resulted in less than smooth rollouts of new technology.  This week, our telephones were decommissioned and replaced with a system tied to Microsoft Teams, so that we can only receive and make phone calls through our computers via head phones . The State IT department is pretty poor about communicating exactly how to set these things up.  “Just read the email and follow the instructions.”  Sometimes, that just doesn’t work! Don’t get me started on how absurd and vague were the instructions on how to set up e911  on my computer! Well, this leads to frustration, hence my tantrum. They are lucky I didn’t throw my phone through my office window.

I have had to engage in new technology to an extent I could never had imagined a year ago. I can’t wait for this all to be over.

What new technology have you used this year?  How has the pandemic changed your interface with technology? What have you done via technology or in other respects in the past ten months that you could never had dreamed of?

Driving Dreams

For the most part, I love my car.  I love that she’s red, I love that she is a hybrid.  I love having a hatchback again.  I really like that she tells me when it’s time to change the oil, based on her internal workings and not an arbitrary date.  And she’s small.  No Intimida or Sherpa here; with a tank capacity of 8+ gallons, my monthly gas budget is about $30.

There is one frustrating thing though.  She feels the need to let me know when tire pressure has changed, with a big ding and a reminder every time I start the car once she has noticed a pressure issue.  This usually happens twice a year… when it first gets cold and then again in the late spring when it starts to get really warm.  I usually just drive down to the dealership; they top the tires off right away and I don’t even have to get out of the car. 

But this fall, the pressure notification has gone off TWICE.  When we had a couple of seriously cold days last month and the again this past weekend when it was warmer.  I will admit that I whined a bit to the service guy and he said that it was happening a lot this fall since the temperatures have fluctuated quite a bit.

While he was adjusting the air, I daydreamed about my fantasy car.  I’d like to have those little lights on the sideview mirrors that indicate when someone is coming upon alongside you.  I would love to have built-in GPS and a north/south/east/west display.  Heated seats would be nice.  Of course, my fantasy car would actually drive itself; of course that could only be supplanted by my ultimate fantasy car — a transporter.  “Beam me over, Scotty.”

Tell me about your fantasy transportation. 

The Find

This past Saturday morning, right before Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Husband and I decided to do a Deep Clean on an alcove right off the kitchen. This corner houses a tall shelf unit full of large items like crock pots and cookbooks, and a small chest of drawers. I had accidentally shoved something behind the tall shelves, noticed when trying to retrieve it that it was pretty dusty back there, and realized that space hadn’t been deep cleaned since we moved in 4 ½ years ago (!).

Well, you know how this goes. In the process of clearing everything off, you find stuff you’d forgotten you had – which gets returned to its proper place or tossed. Stuff piles up in the rest of the house for a while, but you promise you’ll put everything back before day’s end, and you roll up your sleeves. And you swear you won’t let the cleaning lapse for this long again.

Then you move the furniture out so you can sweep and swipe and clean everything in sight, and vacuum out the cobwebs and dust fuzzies. As the small chest was being moved away from the wall, I heard a “thunk” as something dropped to the floor, and discovered… MY CAMERA, which has been A.W.O.L. for about a year. I don’t own a smart phone, and luckily I hadn’t bought a replacement. I am so happy to have it back!

So, for the first time since last December, I’m able to submit a blog post AND supply the photo.

What have you found that was lost?  

What cleaning or clearing project are you likely to accomplish during self-quarantine?

Doin’ the dishes

Dirty dishes have always been a contentious issue between YA and me.   She has a much higher tolerance for dishes in the sink than I do; particularly I don’t like coming down in the morning to dirty dishes.  For several years, if YA leaves dishes in the sink overnight, then when I come down in the morning, I yell up the stairs and she has to come down and do them.  This is no fun for anybody but it does work pretty well as a dish pile-up deterrent.  Of course it doesn’t do anything about dishes that accumulate during the day.

When I started working from home back in March, I was assuming (like many others) that covid would have run its course by the fall.  I decided that as my gift to household peace, I would just do all the dishes during shelter-in-place.  Fretting about dishes just didn’t seem like a good vibe to add to an already bad scenario.  I’ve had a couple of times said to YA that I didn’t want to feel taken advantage of and every now and then she does belly up to the sink on her own, but for the most part, I’ve washed every single dish that has been dirtied here since March 15. 

Now that covid hasn’t gone away and we are all still sheltering-in-place, I’m thinking maybe I need to re-negotiate my dish-pan hands situation.

Any suggestions??