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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The out-of-box experience

Linda's laptop died about two weeks ago. I tried a repair that could be done pretty cheaply and it didn't work. In the end, I had to shrug and I purchased a Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop to replace it.

I didn't expect it to arrive until Friday, but it was here around noon today. Naturally, I immediately made space on the hard drive and installed Linux for her. She only uses 4 applications, the same ones she has used for years, and she has no interest in virus updating and all of the nightmare that comes with Windows.

After a little net searching, I had already concluded that she wouldn't get my personal favorite Linux, Debian, because her laptop was a little too new for it. Instead, I installed Ubuntu which dubs itself Linux for Human Beings.

I was just getting ready to burn a copy to CD for the install, when Walt from over the way walks into my office and says, Would you like a copy of Ubuntu? That was totally weird. He had just gotten a free box of CDs in the mail from the company that makes it.

It works great. The install was a breeze and really fast. I was done in time to bring it home for her to try tonight. She's sending instant messages, working on some writing, and playing a CD on the built-in CD player (I hadn't thought to check if that would work, but it did). She already checked her email and looked through some of her favorite web sites.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

That's what holidays are for

I know I haven't posted for a while. I guess you could say I've taken a holiday. Several times I've sat down to write something and been interrupted.

We went to my parents in Iowa for Thanksgiving. All of my brothers and sisters came, so we did a family photo. I suppose it wasn't too surprising that the smallish kids (Ellie and her cousins) didn't want to cooperate.

It's always hard to stay away from home, particularly for Linda. She seemed to manage pretty well. The hardest part is the energy it takes to be in a place that isn't home. Linda get tired a lot easier than the rest of us.

Looking like Christmas

Linda and I were thinking about going to a movie today, but we couldn't find a babysitter. So Linda suggested that Ellie and I go get a Christmas tree instead. I checked the weather forecast, and today is the last warmish day for a week. Perfect day to get a tree. As always, I went to the Troy Mills Tree Farm (and why wouldn't I, since it is only about two miles from me).

We got a new tree stand this year. I have to say that after struggling with our old tree stand for so many years, I'm not sure why I didn't spend $12 for a new stand sooner. Getting the tree up and straight was a breeze.

Ellie helped extensively. As everyone seems to notice, she has a lot of energy. She helped me string the lights. We had a lot of dark bulbs this year, so it was Ellie's job to get me replacements from a ziplock bag where we keep extras. Linda and I reminisced about how each burned out bulb would have taken out a whole string when we were kids. Our light sets would have been hopeless to fix with about 10 burned out bulbs all together.

Two or three years ago I bought ornament hooks at the end of the season. They were lost last year, so we couldn't use them. I've sort of been keeping track of them all year and finally remembered to get them out this time. Linda replaced a bunch of the dumb little loops on our ornaments with metal hooks that are way more convenient. Ellie and I hung them (I did the high places).

It all looks very nice. And somehow, Ellie is still full of energy. I could just sit in the same place for the next several hours myself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

There should be a shot

I was sick yesterday. I was cold for 24 hours straight, even wearing my thermal socks and a sweater. For the first time since I can remember, I spent the entire day in bed. I would get up for a little bit and then go back to bed for 2 hours. All day.

It was actually kind of instructional to be home all day. I got to see the way Linda accomplishes some things around the house. You should see her do laundry (and how she gets the clothes from room to room).

In the evening, Linda was good enough to keep Ellie entertained which really help me too. They watched Zorro movies naturally.

Mostly, I'm glad to be feeling better today. I wish they made shots for all of these things, like flu shots. I'd take the shot for everything. I'd get a shot every week, if it meant I could avoid the bugs that go around. That's way better than feeling miserable.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


It's not every day that you finish a set of curtains. Ellie helped extensively with these. They turned out nice anyway.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

They'll hate me at school

As I was putting Ellie to bed tonight, we started singing the songs from school and goofing around. Naturally we made up some of our own words to the turtle song I mentioned a few days ago.

I had a little turtle. His name was Tiny Tim.
I put him in the toilet, to see if he could swim.
He ate up all the poopies. He drinked up all the pee.
He tried to eat the toilet, but it wouldn't go past his teeth.
Glub, glub, glub, glub!

I can hear her in bed practicing now. She learns songs really fast.

See, that's what happens when daughters spend too much time with their dads.

What geeks do for fun

Today I saved a dead DVD player (that I someone had trashed). I soldered 4 new diodes onto the circuit board and replaced a blown fuse. Total cost $4. I feel really cool.

Monday, November 07, 2005

She must be learning something

Every day I ask Ellie what she did in school, and every day she has nothing to tell me. Still I think she must do something because she comes home sing new songs.

Drifting in from the other room:

I have a little turtle, his name is Tiny Tim.
I put him in the bathtub to see if he could swim.
He drinked up all the water. He ate up all the soap.
He tried to eat the bathtub, but it got stuck in his throat.
Glub, glub, glub, glub!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My daughter to the core

How do I know Ellie is my daughter? Because every night I walk around the house and shut off lights in every single room in the house. The lights seem to turn themselves on whether we are using that room or not.

It's not that I remember having had an evil impulse for artificial lighting as a child. What I do remember is being told over and over and over to turn off all the lights that I wasn't using.

Since it is clearly an inherited genetic trait, I'm having a hard time being angry with Ellie over it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Contact lenses

Linda has worn her contact lenses twice this week. She wore them for about an hour the first time (Monday I think) and planned to extend the time a bit as she gets used to them. She tells me that she wore them again today, but I didn't ask for how long.

Contrary to what some people expected, Linda did not have trouble putting them in despite being less coordinated than she used to be and having gone without for so long. She did say that she sometimes still has a bit of double vision when look upward, but looking forward and down are fine. It gets better each time she wears them.

Getting her lenses out turned out to be a bit more challenging than getting them in, and she says it took about 10 minutes.


We're all a bit tired this week. Ellie is going to morning care at the same place as pre-school. They keep her very busy, I can tell, because she comes home tired. Linda is often tired, just because life is hard. I'm tired because I don't go to bed like I should. It's really hard to do practical work-like stuff (like grading) until Ellie goes to bed. So I start things late.


I almost forgot to say that Halloween was fun. Ellie and I went trick-or-treating on campus. We only did Centennial Hall, but that was enough. Enough for me anyway. She was ready to keep on going.

I saw a few students I knew. Ellie got a great variety of candy, and she was pretty good. She was quite pretty as Cinderella, and remembered to say Thank you, some of the time. Just as we arrived, we ran into Ellie's friend Clara, who was also Cinderella. So it was twin Cinderellas all around Centennial.