Sunday, September 24, 2006


Two young women (late teens, early twenties) were alone on a large expanse of lawn on campus yesterday, taking turns falling backwards into each other's arms. I was passing at some distance, and didn't like to interrupt, but I really want to know what that was about. I recognize it as a trust exercise--my Mom used to work in a drug rehab center for teens, and I remember her describing this to me. Were these ladies Psych students? Participants in the same group therapy session? Preparing team-building exercises? Was this the result of a conversation on trust? Were they just goofing around? No idea.

Interesting to watch, though.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fried modem

I was checking my email a little before 7 am yesterday when the power went out. I found out later that most of the people on my street lost power. The first indication I had that it wasn't just my apartment that had a problem (well, second. The first was that I didn't hear the breaker box click) was when my upstairs neighbor started scurrying around. Lighting candles, I suppose. That's what I was doing, anyway.

Candlelight is very pretty and romantic and all that, but it sure is difficult to get dressed by. The cat (very intelligently I thought) decided that the safest place to be was in her little bed, well out of the way of the frantic human fumbling around in the semidark.

According to my neighbors, the power was out until around noon. It was on when I got home at six. There were workmen digging in the front yard, though, so I figured it hadn't been truly fixed yet. They're still out there today, doing who knows what. Whatever they were doing yesterday has resulted in a very large hole, a big pile of dirt, and very thick cable with an extremely frayed and frazzled end to it. I wonder if one of the groundhogs I've been seeing all summer mistook that cable for a chew toy.

The upshot of all this for me personally is internet connection problems. Apparently there was a power surge right before eveything went *poof* that was too much for my power strip, and my modem has died.

I'm trying to decide whether to just get a new modem or to replace the whole CPU. It's an older machine. The service plan I bought for it has most definitely expired. It's probably time to get a new one. And the power goes out often enough (symptom of a town that's growing too fast and an electric company that needs to update their grid) that it's probably one surge away from following the modem into the Great Beyond.

I've been shopping around online (in a computer lab on campus, in case anyone is wondering) and I looked briefly (very briefly) at laptops. They want over $1000 for most of those. Oy. No thanks. Portability isn't that high on my list of priorities. Actually, there isn't really much on my list of priorities. Don't care much for all the bells and whistles. Whatever comes standard suits my purpose. I don't need tons of storage, either, which frustrates store employees.

Most of the machines on the site where I was looking have at least 100 gigs of storage. Mine has 60, and I thought that was a lot when I bought it. I've only used about half. When I was buying this machine, the fellow at the store tried to talk me into getting one with 80 gigs. He couldn't believe I'd be happy with "just 60."

"Look," I said, "the machine I have now has .6 gigs. Asking me whether I want a 60 or 80 gig hard drive is like asking someone living in an efficiency apartment whether they want a 60 room mansion or an 80 room one. It isn't going to matter, because everything they own is going to fit in the foyer."

I expect a similar conversation regarding the 100 or 120 gig hard drive now, if I decide to buy a new machine.

I'm going shopping a little later today. Not buying anything, of that I am sure. There's no way I'd be able to wrestle a purchase onto and off of a bus all by myself. I'm going to have to ask a friend with a car to help me with transport, when (if) I decide to buy something.

I wonder how difficult it is to replace a modem myself? I wonder how much the people at Circuit City would charge to do it for me? Something to ask while I'm there.

Monday, September 18, 2006

BookCrossing's latest acquisition

Heading out for an evening in town, first to dinner then to dance class, I grab a book I bought years ago and have been meaning to read: God-Shaped Hole. I start into it as I'm waiting for the bus. About twenty pages in, I'm getting a bad feeling. By the time I get to town, I'm sure that I'm not going to like this book.

It's a first-person story. I don't like the main character. That isn't necessarily the end of the world. Have you ever read a first-person narrative where the character sets him/herself up as the protagonist, but the author gives you some sort of signal not to believe what you're being told? A turn of phrase, a skewed point of view, a fact dropped into the story that the narrator doesn't realize the significance of--it's a literary throat-clearing, a broad wink. I keep waiting for that signal. I'm not getting it. Oh, dear Lord. The author likes this woman. I'm expected to like her as well, and by extension I'm supposed to care about this idiot she's just met and fallen in love with.

I do not want to have dinner with these people. I have no other book with me, and the public library closes at 5 on Sunday. Ten minutes ago.

Thank goodness for Webster's, our local second-hand book store! For two dollars and tax, I buy an Agatha Christie murder mystery I've never heard of before (Towards Zero) and use it to replace the bunch of pretentious, angst-ridden, pseudo-intellectual twerps I was stuck with.

Now I'm starting to feel bad. Maybe I didn't give these people enough of a chance. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood for this book. Maybe I'll pick it up again in a few weeks.

Maybe I'll enter it in BookCrossing and leave the book out somewhere in the hope that whoever stumbles upon it will appreciate it in ways that obviously I cannot.

Monday, September 04, 2006

In Pennsylvania Dutch country this weekend

I'm visiting my sister at the moment. This is the first time I've been to their new house. They live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, deep in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. Mennonites and Amish folk everywhere. Sunday in particular the buggies and bicycles on the road drastically outnumbered the cars.

Headed back home by bus this afternoon. Classes start tomorrow, which means town is going to be busy and full. I'm glad the students are back. I missed them. It's a little too quiet without them. Sure, I say that now. Give me two months, I'll be ready for them to leave and give us some peace.