Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sliding to the library

We managed a trip to the library today, in spite of rain and freezing rain. El Burrito slipped twice on our sidewalk, but didn't land hard, and I successfully made it across the library parking lot on my feet. No one else was slipping, so I think my new walking shoes must just be lousy on wet pavement.

We only returned 2 DVDs, and didn't check anything out today. We did return quite a few things last week, when we made it to the library on better-weather days, so I'm down to only 35 items out, 12 on hold, and one that the library can't find. I had the new Pern novel (Dragonheart) on hold, and got a notification that it was in for me to pick up. However, when I got to the library, they couldn't find it on the shelf. That was last Friday, and as of today it was still missing. :(

Anyway, we spent $6 at the sale carts on some goodies, including some DVDs and CDs. Then we came home very carefully, because the rain was starting to freeze. Crappy weather.

Another good Photo blog

The Boston Globe has a photo section called The Big Picture. Great photos, a new topic every week.

For December, they're doing a special Advent calendar, with a new Hubble space photo every day. Photos 1 and 4 are amazing, but I think 10 and 18 are my favorites. The Eagle Nebula is one of my favorites (along with the Horsehead Nebula). If I ever have unlimited wall space (and money), a gigantic print of the Eagle and/or Horsehead may end up on the wall.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Gotta be wrong

The "height predictor" at Babycenter.com predicts that El Burrito will be 5 foot 4 when he's 18. I'm betting it's because I guessed at his current height & weight. I hope he's taller than me in 16 years, even though he's on the lower half of the height chart right now.

In other news, El Burrito got to really play in the snow for the first time ever today. I was hoping to build a snowman, but the snow's too dry. It'll be gone tomorrow anyway - prediction is for temps slightly above freezing, with rain/sleet/freezing rain during the day. Bleah.

Pictures to come, I've gotta download them from the cameras, but first I'll need to shift enough stuff from C drive over to D drive. C is getting full, as the PC keeps telling me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter is here

No library trip today, thanks to the weather. We got some sleet and rain on Sunday night, and then an inch of snow overnight last night, plus another inch or so today. No school yet this week. I'm not sure how the roads are, but it's below freezing and breezy, so El Burrito and I stayed home today. I planned a bit ahead, though, and we made a quick library run on Sunday to return a few things.

El Burrito is in a mischievous mood lately. He's discovered the joy of light switches, so he's been turning lights off and on for a few days. And he's also decided that it's fun to put things where they shouldn't be. Toy dragons in the toaster oven, for example.

He scared me a bit yesterday, though. He was napping and I took the opportunity to grab a shower. I had to wait a bit, so the water heater could recover from the last load of laundry. I was almost done when I heard crying over the baby monitor. I rushed to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, but before I could manage it, I heard Burrito feet running down the hallway. And there's a sobbing Burrito standing in the doorway. He managed to fall, climb, fly, or levitate out of the crib. Didn't hurt himself, but I was hoping we'd be in a new house before he discovered that he could get out of the crib on his own. I'm not sure why he woke up, either, since he had a good hour or so of his usual nap-time left to go.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worst Instruction Manual Ever

I've found my nomination for the worst instruction-manual writing in the world. Seriously, this thing should win a medal. (Or a good thwap to the head, because there's no reason to encourage this crap.)

It's the instruction "manual" - actually just a 4-sheet fold-out thing that desperately needed to be sliced and stapled - for our new programmable thermostat. It's amazingly, irritatingly bad, especially since it seems to be well-written at first glance. No clues that it was translated from English to French to Swahili to Klingon and back to English before it was printed. But it took two adults, both with Master's degrees and good reading comprehension, over an hour to figure out how to program the bloody thermostat last night. And I'm still not certain that we got it right.

Here's the first and most frustrating example. I got the manual last night and found the sheet with the "Programming the Thermostat" section. Start with setting the time, which is less than 1/8 of a page. Easy peasy, I thought. Yeah, right. Step 1: Press "Menu" then "Time" button once. Hmmm. Menu, check. Time. Time, time, where's the time button? There is no time button. Six buttons, none marked "Time" anywhere. (Actually, the buttons aren't marked at all on the thermostat, just on the LCD screen and on the diagram in the manual.)

After some muttering, half an hour, and DH's involvement, we figured out the problem. To get to the point where one of the buttons functions as a "Time" button, you have to go through the insane mess on page 4, where you use the Menu button to choose one of 14 (yes, Fourteen) Menu Configurations. All with cryptic descriptions, and I still can't read the list and tell you which one to use when you need to set the time. So that Step 1 is more like Step 5 (or 6, if you add "Threaten to yank the thing off the wall and hook the old programmable thermostat up again" in there).

Then there's the whole craziness of the "hold" option that you can use to override the program. The screen has "Hold" in two places, both of which seem to indicate that the program is, indeed, on hold, if you read what passes for a manual. But, in practice, one "Hold" means it's on hold. The other "Hold" just means that the button kinda-sorta next to the "Hold" icon is the button you push to put it on hold.

I think, anyway. I was fighting with that part at 1:30 a.m., when I accidentally hit the Hold button and couldn't figure out how to un-Hold the stupid thermostat. We didn't freeze or roast in the night, though, so I think DH's interpretation is right.

Anyway, the results are:
  1. I'm very glad we kept the old thermostat
  2. I won't go out of my way to take the new one with us when we leave.
  3. I know what company to never buy a thermostat from.
  4. I may write a short note to our HVAC company and tell them to consider using a different company's product.
  5. I'd better write a few notes on the "manual" because we'll forget half of this by the time the batteries run down and the settings get wiped.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More crazy Burrito stories

So, what has El Burrito been up to?

He's been telling me - and other people - that he's Clifford the Big Red Dog. A little girl asked him his name at the library last week. He usually answers this one with "I'm 2 years old" for some reason, but he told her he was Clifford. Most of the time, I'm Cleo and DH is T-Bone (from the Clifford television series), but one night DH was Cleo.

He asked for, and ate, "trees" (steamed broccoli) at the condo lunch today. He didn't eat it all, but about a third of it. The rest of it got lined up on his mat, and probably would have been loaded into the toy truck he had with him. He also mooched a few bites of my pork tenderloin, which was a first for him.

He wore his Santa hat at the lunch today, by his own request. He found it in the box of decorations, and wanted to wear it the other day.

He had a great time playing with my hair on Sunday. I was combing it out after I washed it (it air-dries), and he decided that my hair was wind chimes and he was going to make the wind chimes go "bing bing bing" by waving his hands through my hair. He did that for probably 5 minutes, if not longer. On Monday or Tuesday, he did the same thing with the bead garland I was sorting out for the Christmas tree.

He's not an angel all the time though (no matter what my mother thinks). Lately, he's poured a soda on my lap, harassed my houseplants unmercifully, tossed things into the toilet, started a no-stroller rebellion, and been more than a little hard to live with sometimes. He fell in love with a pedal tractor at the farm store last weekend, and was a bit upset that he didn't get to ride it around the store.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday again

Another (cold, rainy-sleety) Tuesday, another visit to the library.

I love my library. When I was a kid, we didn't have a public library in town. We had a regional library, an hour away, and they sent a bookmobile out every 10 days (Wednesdays and Saturdays). It was okay, but there wasn't any good way to search their catalog, for example, and find out what they had. You were limited, more or less, to what was on the bookmobile. Online catalogs and weekly visits are so much nicer.

Anyway. Today's numbers: 39 items out, 9 on hold. Plus one book is overdue (I've got one chapter left) and someone else has the Doctor Who DVDs on hold, so I need to watch them this week.

  • The Irish Tenors Christmas CD
  • You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (remastered version, which I didn't get to compare to our original version)
  • Mr. Monk goes to Germany
  • the National Geographic Photography Field Guide (very little on digital cameras, but good theory and practice)

We returned a DVD, a CD, and two books, and checked out three books. Then we spent $6 on the sale cart (CDs and books, one VHS, but no Pooh Bear books that El Burrito was requesting insistently). Apparently the library is getting out of the VHS game and going totally to DVD. I noticed a week ago that their video/DVD section was down to half a row of VHS, and 3 rows or so of DVDs. It used to be the other way around. I can't say I blame them, DVDs hold up much better (unless some twit lets their dog chew on it, which I swear I've seen evidence of) and they take up less shelf space. But there are still some odds and ends that aren't out on VHS yet, and I hope they're keeping that in mind.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Burrito update

El Burrito spent quite a bit of the last few days trying to drive me nuts. He went nap-less for 3 days straight, figured out he's tall enough to reach the light switches now, and proved pretty solidly that shopping without a cart is a big, giant, humongous, screaming mistake. One that I shouldn't try to repeat again, because it doesn't work.

It also puts a great big crimp in my sans-DH holiday shopping, because he's also started not wanting to ride in the stroller, and because the stroller isn't really practical in a few mall stores (the ones that like to cram as much as possible into their available space). I put back a couple of things at the local Tuesday Morning because they were out of carts and have decided to put the breakable stuff near the cash-wrap. So long, jigsaw puzzle of the Space Shuttle. (Oh well, it's not like I have the time or space to do a jigsaw with more than 6 pieces these days.)

He's also been getting into all sorts of mischief and making some unbelievable messes. My poor houseplants may not survive, especially my purple shamrocks. In short, he can be a little pain sometimes. Of course, if I try to tell my Mom this, she doesn't believe her little angel could do anything wrong. I got no sympathy on the napping; I just got told that I didn't take a nap until kindergarten. I can believe I didn't nap as a toddler, but really, even when I was tiny, there must have been naps.

Enough ranting. Chuck is coming on soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I love my library

(And I will be very sad if we end up moving out of the county, because then we'd have a different library. Unless I committed subterfuge as far as our mailing address, or used the in-laws' mailing address and started getting my library notices by email. Anyway.)

Today's library trip: We returned 2 books and 2 CDs, and came home with a bag of library stuff and another bag of book-sale books. It was a good day. We now have 42 items checked out, which is the highest it's been for a while, and 8 books on hold. Gotta get caught up.

  • The Complete Peanuts, 1957-58
  • Bloom County: Toons for Our Times
  • a Charlotte Church CD
  • an Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole CD
We came home with a stack of library materials, including the complete 4th series of Doctor Who on DVD, and a couple of holiday CDs. Total: 7 DVDs, 2 CDs, and 2 books.

From the book sale, I scored three Bloom County collections, although it turns out I already have one copy of Bloom County Babylon (darn), and some picture books that I may share with El Burrito. He'll probably like Paddle-to-the-Sea best (written by Holling Clancy Holling, and I wonder what the parents were thinking with that name). We also found the Sesame Street Cookbook (apparently a steal at $6), and El Burrito picked out a couple for himself, including a Charlie Brown Christmas collection. He didn't ride in his stroller today, which I went along with because it's the big monthly sale in the Friends room at the library. The other sales are in the lobby, and it's too easy for El Burrito to make a run for it, especially with the automatic doors. The Friends room is a little more contained, if he decided to try a jail-break. He did pretty well at sticking close to me, and not rearranging too many books. He also got to say hi to his buddy the volunteer, and give her a picture that he drew for her. (All right, I suggested it, and pushed him to do it, but whatever. I wish I'd remembered a Christmas card for her, since she's given him at least a dozen books so far. All used, but still. She's a nice lady.)