Last week fifteen year old went to a combined birthday party for newspaper_girl and sa_girl, involving HPDHP2 at the midnight movies. Ten year old wanted to see it, I did to, so the girls and a friend of ten year old's went Saturday. It was very good, and after the Gringott's scene, it could have been named Harry Potter and the Previously Hidden Cleavage, due to Hermione dressed up as a soaked Bellatrix.
The whole epic could also be themed a poor awkward geek gets smitten with a comely red haired lass, she chooses another, and bad choices lead to lifetime of regret.
My first time in Iowa, I stayed in a Des Moines suburb, and it looked and felt little different than Rochester suburbs. Chain hotel, chain bookstore, chain coffee place, cloverleafs, highway ramps, just like any other suburban place in the US.
This time our customer, testing a whole new paradigm in putting information on paper by melting wax instead of melting plastic, was located 70 miles from a big airport, in a small, pleasant city. It was an easy drive, straight down 218 more or less.
I found Highway 218 odd, a four lane divided highway with a 70 mph speed limit, with farm driveways abutting it. I guess you turn onto the highway and floor it, hoping to get up to speed before a tractor trailer hauling little piggies to market wipes you out. Left hand turns onto the highway were even more exciting.
The terrain wasn't always flat either, there were stretches with gentle rolling hills.
The customer's wifi was good enough, though upload speed was not great, we blame the humungous Walmart distribution center around the corner.
It was an okay trip, we used lots of rolls of paper, we ate dinner on the Mississippi, and I headed for home with an immense feeling of dread, as my organization was getting nearshored. It got better in the Cedar Rapids airport, my ticket was good and they had real neat seating, with 12V USB and 120 V ACDC outlets.
In a matter of days I start a new job, almost identical to my old job (same cube, same teammates, same products to support, same laptop) except for the immediate payer of my paycheck. Our whole organization has been traded from one multinational to another. The current one is moving towards services and doesn't want a bunch of engineers on it's payroll, the new one just does engineering. The benefits are mostly better, the prescription benefits should save us $3000 a year (until they get bad again) but it's been months of anxiety and dread.
In a coincidence that old married people have, my wife is starting a new job the same day. Her job is more money and a better schedule. The new jobs start when we get back from a very well deserved cheap vacation in Ithaca, though I may come back for a day of orientation.
Things have been financially dire for a while, the cars have been breaking down too much. The new jobs should help, an additional $800 a month is a big difference.
The starter on the new to us Camry died, I ordered replacement brushes, but they didn't come in time, I had to buy a replacement starter. It took a few hours to replace. It took a while to get the starter out, in addition to removing the battery, tray and cruise control circuit, I needed to remove the lower air filter enclosure. It's a new paradigm too, I needed to snake my arm between the air intake and other tubes and pipes to get to the second bolt.
While I was wrenchin', I decided to replace the heated O2 sensor. The O2 sensor was extra difficult due to the errors in the Haynes manual and my lack of cunning. The manual said for the 4 cylinder, the leads came up through the passenger side, so my dad and I removed the passenger seat, the console, pulled down the carpet, and no lead. Then we removed the driver's seat, pulled down the carpet, and there it was, maybe we have a V-6 body. If I was a little smarter, I would have just traced the lead from underneath to figure out where it went into the body.
A few months later, the rear driver's side tired disintregated on the Thruway at 70+ mph. It drove very well for having no tire, I was able to pull over safely. Due to brake work done in the spring, it only took about fifteen minutes to put on the full sized flat. We replaced the two oldest tires.
Over Memorial Day, my parents even invited us for dinner, hooray, no cooking. At their house, my dad asked me to look at his scooter, a 2003 Derbi 50 cc. The flasher's weren't flashing, and though there was nothing on the schematics that said flasher, there was a box called Turn Signal Regulator.
It took a while to find that, with lots of body work to remove while tracing the big, thick harness. For the record, it's beneath the left side underseat bodywork, not the headset plastic or glove compartment plastic.
The good thing about a venerable Kz is that it uses a cheap, $ 3.99 flasher you an buy at Walmart. The Derbi uses a 75 Euro module, ouch! Maybe the ebay UK guy will change his mind on international shipping.
In Kz news, I'm dealing with fuel problems, it's not on the road yet. Soon, I hope.
birthdays are over
Thank goodness, ten year old had a sleepover which went well, fifteen year old has been doing two a days for swimming and didn't celebrate much. It was exhausting getting the house ready for the sleepover, including shampooing the carpets.
On to media reviews
First up, books.
When I saw Gibson's name on Pattern Recognition I was excited, Neuromancer was so amazing I started reading it in the parking of the mall where I got, back when malls used to have book stores. But, it's no Neuromancer, more of a present day novel about fashion, and film, with the usual globe trotting Gibson feel. Okay I guess.
Cetaganda is another Miles Vorkosigan novel, where Miles ends up on Cetaganda, an empire that was recently fighting his planet, and smack dab in the middle of a conspiracy that could cause an interstellar war.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time had a lot of buzz, as the protagonist is an autistic young man who is writing the book. Raising autistic kids sounds very challenging.
I picked up The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power at a huge neighborhood sale, it's basically saying Fundies have infiltrated the government, and they believe the ends justify whatever means they pursue. As long as you're right with Jesus, do what you have to do.
Whenever I see a Discworld I don't have for a good price, I pick it up. This time it was The Last Continent, the Wizards at UU end up in something like Australia. If you like Australia, or Rincewind of the other wizards, you'd probably enjoy it a lot, it didn't as much for me. Give me Vimes, or witches.
My sister in law handed me Outliers: The Story of Success on the Buffalo trip that ended up with disintregating tires. It gave me sads, I never spent 10,000 hours in childhood on lucrative skills, which Gladwell claims is the biggest reason to be an outstanding success. There's also being born at the right time, and in the right circumstances (middle class or better, if you want to have childhood with 10,000 free hours).
We've been using the heck out of our instant Netflix on the Wii (the only thing it's good for, the lens needs to be cleaned since it won't load any games). Hardwiring it made a huge difference in displaying choices and loading times. First up was some old documentaries by Peter Batty, and narrated by Bernard Archer. First was Operation Barbarossa, a 47 minute documentary on Barbarossa from 1971. Only 7 minutes was on the actual fighting, with most of the time being taken up by the events leading up to it. Archer kept shifting viewpoints on Stalin, from an evil mastermind doing all he can to get his revamped army up to snuff because he knew Hitler was going to invade to a evil clueless schmuck ignoring all signs that Hitler was about to invade.
Next up was The Battle for Dien Bien Phu, another short one from Batty, good for an overview.
Onto some older Doctor Who, first was Spearhead from Space, which introduced Pertwee as Doctor Three. You've all seen it.
Next for me was a rerun, Pyramids of Mars last night, it was a nice nostalgia trip, and a remembrance of Elisabeth Sladen.
The kids were away so Mrs. Ha and I looked for a scary movie, we picked The Haunting in Connecticut, which had it's share of scares, even if it's not true.
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