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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why so silent

You'll wonder why I haven't posted much lately. Actually my friends in academia won't wonder. They know. But it isn't just end-of-semester business. Some interesting things have made us busier than usual.

Last weekend we drove to Iowa for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. Linda didn't want to go because traveling is a drag, but she didn't want me to drive alone so far and she came. We had a nice handicap-accessible hotel room--smoking, but not too stinky.

It was about the only accessible thing anywhere. Don't think of moving to rural Midwest if you have a disability. It's amazing how many places are just-about accessible. Everything would be great, if the bathroom door was hinged on the other side. Or the handicap stall would actually be usable with a wheelchair if it was 12in deeper. Or if there were grab bars. Sometimes I want to tear my hair out.

The steakhouse where we had dinner was the worst. Linda's chair wouldn't fit through the bathroom door. It's not exactly a problem, I just helped Linda walk into the bathroom (which has no bars--who would need them, they couldn't get through the door anyway). It was prom night, so there was Linda and me and a lot of girls in stunningly pretty dresses. One was nice enough to hold the door for us.

That really was the worst. Most places were better than that at least. But we did use up our whole weekend and I in particular spent the next week grading and catching up. One of my more dramatic friends noticed that I was ignoring her. But we'll have coffee soon and I think she'll feel better. Or maybe she can ignore me now and all will be fair.

Things you can't talk about

Now that I have had some success with my speech software, I have been sitting down to plan out what comes next. I've done a bit of paper-sketching and planning. I'm busy picking out the tools I want to use. Some of it I've really looked into carefully. But it's all so damned technical that I can't tell anyone about it. Well I could, but they wouldn't care--not even people in my own discipline.

My college advisor told me this would happen sometimes if I chose to become an academic.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

1000 words

Linda on a horse

Thursday, April 20, 2006

We'll get her trained yet

Linda took a few rounds on the (riding) lawn mower today. She stuck to flat open spots of the yard so she could focus on simple things like keeping her foot on the accelerator. She did pretty well, and kept it up for about 30 minutes before she was completely worn out for the day.

It will get written someday

My speech software now has a fully working graphical prototype. It can show the loudness and pitch of your voice in a window in real-time. That requires drawing 300 short lines per second (in addition to the sound processing) but the computer seems to be up to the task. I should be in good shape on most modern computers since my office computer is the slowest in the division, and my computer at home is even slower than that.

I met with my student assistant on Wednesday and showed it to her. She was stunned. I was a bit puzzled by that, and showed her how the code for the program was just things we had already done; just assembled together in a new way.

She said, I know. When you read it, it seems easy. But when you see it run.... It's really impressive to look at.

Even Linda grudgingly took a look at my program and said it looked nice.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Odds and ends

Linda's computer works. The D and R keys were especially sticky for a while, but I managed to get them cleaned pretty well.

My speech software made a breakthrough last week. I learned how to have one thread in a program draw lines in a window while another thread handles input and output from the mouse.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why is sucks to have a stroke

Yes, I know I haven't posted lately. Just not interested in writing I'm afraid and so you lose.

Here's one reason strokes suck. It's no fun to be completely uncoordinated, and I have two examples.

Example 1: About 4 weeks ago while getting ready for school I heard a dramatic crash of ceramic from the kitchen. Naturally I ran out, but Linda was fine, standing next to the coffee maker. I said, I suppose that was your favorite cup.

My very favorite one. Don't think that really sucks? It's worse. She wasn't even using that cup. She had decided she was afraid she might break it, so she had put it aside and was using a different cup. She still knocked it off and broke it.

It was the cup she bought as a reward for finishing speech therapy.

Example 2: This morning Linda coughed, and, because coughing heightens her lack of coordination, she spilled coffee in her brand new laptop. It promptly didn't work, and it is now drying with the keyboard removed. I'm actually pretty optimistic about it. I am pretty sure that coffee didn't get on any of the expensive components, and a replacement keyboard is only $25.

Giddy up

Linda rode a horse today, for about 10 minutes. Pictures were taken, but I don't have any yet. I plan to send one to Fred at least. Naturally she was limp for the rest of the day after that.

Ellie did too. Her first time on horseback. She was very excited, and she's dying to do it again.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Thank you Todd Wilbur

Linda and I had lunch by ourselves today, since Ellie is out with her aunt and uncle. I made salmon, and it's one of the best things I make. It occurred to me that you might like to make it as well.

I got the idea for the recipe from one in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. I don't actually measure any of this, so I can't say how similar it is to theirs:

  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice

  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons Kentucky bourbon

Fry the salmon in a non-stick pan, lubricating with about one quarter to one third of the marinade, until done. Remove the salmon into a deep plate. Put the remaining marinade into the hot skillet and reduce (only takes a few minutes) until thickened, then pour it over the salmon and serve.

It is completely easy, and doesn't leave a lot of dirty dishes; one skillet, one small bowl for the marinade, and one serving plate.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Christmas Tree (guardian) Angel

Today will be a day that Ellie tells stories about her whole life. It will be one of those rare younger-than-5-years-old moments that gets remembered.

With all the wind recently, we've come to find an old Christmas tree in the ditch near the end of our driveway. Today, I was out with Ellie, and I decided that it was time to dispose of it. Ellie asked what I was going to do with the tree, and I told her I was going to burn it in the barrel.

Well. That was clearly not what Ellie expected to hear. She immediately protested and ran down to the barrel to prevent me. She stood guard while I went to the house to get matches and a tree saw.

A three month old Christmas tree really blazes, so I used the saw to cut off branches around the bottom until I was about half way up the trunk. The whole time Ellie was protesting and wailing. She was crying so fiercely that I admit I laughed, a lot; it was so funny. I filled the barrel with branches and lit them off.

When I turned around, Ellie was rescuing the naked trunk of a Christmas tree and its top, dragging it across the yard away from me, crying. That didn't make me laugh less.

In the end, I prevailed. The Christmas tree is now ash and carbon dioxide. And Ellie has a tale of trauma to use for the rest of her life.