Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's a big day in Phantoms Land -- the annual Hall of Fame induction.

So of course I'm wearing the game-worn jersey of the player who, when today's honoree traded him to a rival team, I went into such a rage that I registered 10 on the Richter scale.

Not many people will even realize that this is my personal little commentary on today's proceedings, but that's OK. I don't mind. Induction Day is supposed to be a happy day.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It hasn't been a great week for health-related concerns. That should be apparent after my previous post, but unfortunately I have yet another issue to add to the list. I just got off the phone with my mother-in-law a little while ago, and she was in the hospital from Tuesday through yesterday. Her leg is even worse than it was before.

We just saw her on Easter Sunday, and while it pained me to see how slowly she was getting around with the walker, at least she WAS getting around and that was an improvement over her condition a few weeks ago when she was hospitalized. Now, it seems that she can barely use the bad leg at all. It's "like a log". I wish the doctors could figure out exactly what's wrong with the nerves (or at least the nerve signals) going into her leg, so they could DO something about it.

Arrrrgh. Enough with hospitals and sickness already. :o(

Friday, March 28, 2008

Yeargh. What a day.

It started when I got the news that The Other Donna will have to reschedule her weekend visit to Philly, because of the flu. Unfortunately, it really IS the flu in this case, not just the sort of Headcold from H*ll that is so often called "the flu" by the sufferer. Phooey. I don't know what this bleeping flu bug is that's been going around, but apparently it's causing as much aggravation in New England as it's been causing down here. Fortunately, Amtrak is a lot more accomodating about rescheduling trips than the airlines would be. So she's going to spend the weekend battling the flu, and I hope that the %$*#@& thing is gone ASAP.

Within minutes of that phone call, I heard from the realtor, who needed a Letter of Satisfaction from one of the local utility companies. There was an old, disputed bill from a few years ago; the dispute has long since been resolved and the bill has long since been paid. However, the title company required this Letter of Satisfaction from said utility company as proof that everything has been settled. No problem, I thought, I'll just look up the customer service number and call them.

No dice. Seconds after the realtor's phone call, I got a call from Joe M. You know that flu bug that's been making a nuisance of itself down here? Unfortunately, it's hit a lot of attendees of a Senior Citizens center where Aunt Phyllis likes to go. A lot of the regulars there are sick, and Aunt Phyllis has apparently joined their ranks. The symptoms started a few days ago. This morning, after some new symptoms showed up, they decided that an immediate visit to a doctor was in order. I agree 100% on that score; there are some things that you just don't fool around with, and several days' worth of unabated illness for an octogenarian is cause for concern. Hence, the call to me, so I could drive them over there. Fine. (Well, not FINE, exactly, since I'm certainly not fine with anything that involves Aunt Phyllis getting sick, but you know what I mean.)

So I assist with the errand of getting Aunt Phyllis and Joe M. to the doctor, head home, and once again attempt to call the utility company. Do you know I was on hold for *48 minutes* before someone took the call? GOOD GRIEF. That's just freaking obscene. Fortunately, once I got an actual human being on the line, the transaction itself took no more than five minutes to accomplish. I gave them the name, address, and account number, explained the situation, and gave them the realtor's fax number so they could send the necessary information directly there. Thank goodness at least ONE thing appears to have gone smoothly today. (Unless I hear back from the realtor that they're still waiting for their fax, in which case I'll have to freakin' hurt someone. I'll deal with that potentiality later, if necessary.)

Fast-forward about an hour, and I got a call from Joe M. They're admitting Aunt Phyllis overnight, so they can give her some IV fluids, and also because of one of the numbers that showed up when they did a blood test. I don't blame them for being cautious. Again, we're talking about an octogenarian here, so I'm of the opinion that they should always apply the maxim "Better safe than sorry". But if she's dehydrated, I hope that getting the IV in there, letting her get rehydrated, and then taking another look at the blood numbers will produce results that are closer to what they'd have liked to see the first time around.

Anyway, YEARGH. That's how my day has gone so far. How about yours?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One ALD receives channels 1-6; the other receives channels 7-12. Each workshop room has its own channel.

I tried to send this photo during the convention in LA, but there was no signal in the room where I took the photo. I actually took it at the same time as the other photo of the two ALDs -- the original intent was to show the ALDs from both the front and the back.

Anyway, while we're on the subject of ALDs, something interesting happened on the Wednesday afternoon of the conference. The room we were in was supposed to be using Channel 3 on the ALDs. We couldn't get a freaking signal in the ALD for love or money. I thought the battery was dead on the device, and ran out (and I do mean RAN) to swap it at the Accessibility Services desk for one with a fresh battery. No dice. The replacement ALD didn't work, either. So I wound up interpreting that particular workshop minus the benefit of KC's being able to use an assistive listening device to get a lot of information.

Later, we reported our problems when we went to return the ALDs. The guy in charge of the ALD systems went into the room in question, and lo and behold -- the freaking transmitter, that should have been broadcasting the audio to the ALDs in that room, had been accidentally unplugged. No wonder we couldn't get any doggoned audio during that workshop! Live and learn.

At the NEXT workshops we attended, we politely asked the speaker, prior to the start of the workshop, to please make sure that the ALD transmitter was up and running. So we got an extra little sound check in advance to make sure all was well. Trust me, that's a lesson I've learned for all time. Any time I'm with a person using an assistive listening device, if the presenters don't voluntarily do a sound check to make sure all the audio equipment is operational, I'll make sure that they give the ALD system the once-over so we know it's working.

Demo devices from the "Refreshable braillle in the workplace" workshop.
I didn't realize that this was sitting in my cell phone, unsent from during the convention in LA because there was no cell signal in the room where I took the photo. It went out when I sent the picture of my great-niece's birthday cookie.

My great-niece turns 5 today -- Easter Sunday. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I just saw on cnn.com that a cornflake shaped like Illinois sold on eBay for $1350

I repeat: A CORNFLAKE. Was sold. For $1350. Obviously, using one's food to perform an impromptu Rorschach test can be a lucrative business.

Note to self: start proofreading any and all food items for their potential resemblance to other things. Who knows what windfall of untold profits could be the result?

Friday, March 21, 2008

From today's Cute Overload:



YYYY-M-C-A!

What an outstanding photo! Kudos to the photographer.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Yay, my Jot-a-Dot arrived! That was quick!


Look for me to be jotting dots and practicing my tail off. It's been a while since I've brailled anything.

It comes with a tablet of notepaper that's 4.5"x5.5". To my surprise, not only does it take regular paper, rather than (very thick) braille paper, but it's intended to use ONLY regular paper. Then again, in the developing countries where it was originally designed to be used, it will be much easier for the user base to get hold of regular paper than to special-order braille paper from goodness-knows-where. Not every place is like Philly, where you can just jump on SEPTA and go a store at 9th and Walnut that sells items designed for people with vision loss. When I worked in Center City, I thought nothing of taking a bus or walking to Sense-Sations on my lunch hour and buying whatever I needed -- a slate and stylus, braille paper, a full-page magnifier, you name it. (I still have that magnifier. You should have seen the miniscule font my erstwhile employer made us use on computer printouts... it literally made the phone book look like large print. Read THAT stuff for eight hours a day, and you'll soon be on SEPTA heading out to buy a magnifier, too.)

Anyway, the only limitation on the page size for the Jot-a-Dot is the width. It can't be wider than 5.51 inches. So I think I'll look around to see what other sizes of paper I can get my hands on besides the 4.5x5.5 inch paper that the device came with. I'd like something with a dimension larger than 4.5 inches, if possible. We shall see.

Dang, I'm rusty at this. While I'm happy to say that I remembered the whole braille alphabet, I've also forgotten all the braille equivalents for the punctuation marks except the period. Thank goodness for the internet, so I can look things like that up right away. What in heck did we do before google existed?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'm Not Particularly Happy to look up "bruised ribs" and see that the symptoms can last up to four weeks. Phooey.

I had a mishap during a three-hour(!) Access Paratransit ride last Thursday evening. (That would be the ride during which I posted that I could see the "Hollywood" sign, but couldn't get a decent photograph of it from inside the van.) It started when KC was seated in the row behind me in the van, due to the fact that there was another rider in the van and we couldn't sit next to each other. (Paratransit rides are, normally, shared rides with multiple passengers, pickups, and drop-offs... which is why it took us three hours between getting on at the hotel, and getting off at KC's apartment complex 24 miles away.) So KC sat in the last row of the van, which was designed to seat two passengers, with her guide dog and the other passenger. I sat in the middle row, on a seat that could fold completely up and out of the way when a wheelchair user got on board.

Eventually, the other passenger got off, and KC decided to shift to the seat directly behind mine. But when she did, she couldn't reach the seatbelt, which was up over her left shoulder. So I leaned over the back of my seat to try and retrieve the seatbelt for her. I couldn't reach it. I leaned farther. No luck. So I thought, "I'll give one big lunge in the direction of the seatbelt. That should do it." This involved throwing myself against the back of my seat, and when I did that, I did reach the seatbelt and hand it to KC, who buckled herself in.

However, that was when I discovered that the foldaway seat I was in was a LOT less padded than it appeared. OOOOOF, hitting that freaking thing really hurt! Fortunately, the pain on the left side of my ribcage faded away within a few hours. Unfortunately, the pain on the RIGHT side of my ribcage has yet to fade. From that point onward, it's ranged between a minor annoyance and a major annoyance, depending on what I'm doing and how much ibuprofen is in my system at the time. (Except for the flight home -- that was pretty bad. Five hours of flying cross-country, plus a rib-area injury, is a REALLY nasty combination. On a scale of 1-10, it ached at around 6 or 7 pretty much nonstop. Ugh. I blame the discomfort on the air-pressure changes that occur during flight.)

Anyway, I doubt that I've actually broken anything -- I would expect the pain to be way worse than in the "minor to major annoyance" range, if there were broken bones involved. However, I sure as heck did some sort of damage. I'm thinking I bruised soft tissue in there, and/or the bones. Probably both. Either way, it feels like crud right now because the ibuprofen has worn off. Time for me to re-medicate.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh, and while I'm posting... can anyone explain to me why the TSA agents at LAX airport security told me that I couldn't take an unopened can of Coca-Cola into the airport, and yet once you pass the security checkpoint, you can PURCHASE beverages in sizes that absolutely dwarf the amount of beverage contained in a can of soda?

I mean, if there are restrictions on the amount of fluids you are permitted to carry into the airport, why are you allowed to BUY even more fluid than that once you've passed the security checkpoint?

The TSA agent did offer me the option of drinking the can of soda on the spot. But I told him, "I've been carrying this all morning. I think it's been jostled too much and I'm afraid it will fizz all over the place if I open it right now. You guys had better keep it. But LET IT SIT for a while before anyone opens it, so it can settle." The last thing I wanted to do was try to open that can, only to have it either spray its contents all over the place like Old Faithful, or simply well up and drip all over the machinery and on people's luggage. We can file either of those situations under "a really bad way to begin the trip home", and neither I nor my fellow passengers, nor the TSA agents for that matter, needed the agita of cleaning up after a can of Coke that was too recently jostled to be opened safely.

In any event, I was minus a can of soda for my troubles. At least they let me keep the orange I brought in with me. But those fluid-restrictions really should be adjusted, IMO, to exclude SEALED beverage containers like unopened cans, or bottles whose lids are still attached to the plastic ring. It's freaking ridiculous to have to give up a clearly unopened can of soda, only to be able to go into the terminal and buy a beverage in a bucket-sized glass. What exactly are they restricting, under circumstances like those?
I just wanted to add in a few more details about the convention in LA, now that I'm home, I've had the time to get some actual rest, and I've started to feel human again. ;)

The one thing I purchased during the convention was a device called a Jot-a-Dot. Click here to read about them. Like the XO computer, Jot-a-Dots were designed for use in developing countries where people had need of a portable, sturdy item for writing braille. Also like the XO, I saw in the Jot-a-Dot a way to both support a worthy cause, and get a device that would be useful to me at the same time. The vendor from which I bought it said they were going to ship the order once they got back to their company's location -- I don't know if it's an online store only, or a brick-and-mortar store as well. Either way, I am sure they have plenty more orders to ship out than just mine, so if it takes a few days to arrive, so be it.

I can't remember if I posted this already, but one thing that I did was demonstrate my XO for the President Emeritus of Humanware. I showed it to him, and told him about how I originally envisioned it as being an option for face-to-face conversation between a sighted/hearing person who doesn't sign and a deaf-blind person. Humanware has moved forward with some improved tech of their own, compared to the setup that they were offering in 2006. At the AADB (American Association of the Deaf-Blind) convention in 2006, KC was using her BrailleNote device with a USB keyboard and a Palm Tungsten PDA that was communicating with the BrailleNote via bluetooth. But, I said, that involved three pieces of equipment. I thought that if an XO were employed somehow and could interface with the BrailleNote, that would only be TWO pieces of equipment since the XO has both its own keyboard and its own display, which is readable in sunlight. It's also spillproof and ruggedized enough to survive more than average wear-and-tear compared to a standard laptop. He was extremely interested in the device, and I could see the wheels turning as he processed the possibilities of using an XO as a form of accessible technology. So I figure I've presented my thoughts to exactly the right person -- someone who not only sees the XO's potential as I do, but has both the hardware and software professionals on hand who can make a solution work. If I ever post a link on this blog to a Humanware page that shows an XO (or a device that's a descendant of the XO) being used as accessible technology, you'll know that my ideas have started to bear fruit. :)

Saturday morning's workshop was on deaf-blind technology, and I found it fascinating. The first person who gave a talk was said President Emeritus of Humanware, and he presented the Deaf-Blind Communicator that was demoed at the Braille Institute the day before. Click here for info.

Next was a representative from GW Micro, showing a braille notetaker called the Braille Sense. Click here for information about it. It's the only braille device I've seen so far that has an LCD screen on it that shows, in print, what's being typed in braille. That's helpful for the situation where a blind person might be showing some information that's on the notetaker to someone who's sighted. I don't think it's got an option for a QWERTY keyboard yet, however, and not everyone can easily use braille keys. (KC used to use braille keys, but with a combination of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis in her hands, she prefers QWERTY keyboards now.)

The next presenter was from Freedom Scientific, and he gave a talk on their braille notetaker, the Pac Mate. Click here for information. He didn't have a device on hand to demonstrate (as the other two speakers did), but he did give a rundown of the Pac Mate's features and contact information for people who wanted to learn more.

Then the person who was coordinating the workshop spoke about the Braillino. Click here for information. This was a device that I'd neither seen nor heard of before, so I made sure to take some notes about its features. (Actually, I took notes about ALL the devices' features, even the ones I was relatively familiar with. Gabey loves her PDA, yes she does. :) )

The coordinator of the workshop said that next year, he was going to try and get a two-hour time slot to discuss deaf-blind technology, because one hour just wasn't enough time to discuss everything in any amount of detail. I think he's absolutely right. And if he does, bet your life that I'll be sitting in LA at this time next year -- look for me at that workshop, for sure. My only regret is that this was the ONLY workshop in the entire conference that focused specifically on the needs of deaf-blind users. I'm hoping that next year, not only will this specific workshop be longer, but perhaps there'll be other workshops covering additional deaf-blindness-related topics. Goodness knows there's an absolute dearth of material on so many aspects of deaf-blindness, from education to training interpreter/guides to you-name-it.

I have several photos on my cell phone that I need to post here, but I can't do that right now. I have a Phan Club meeting this evening, and there won't be time to sort through everything prior to that. Tonight (after the meeting) or tomorrow there'll be more time to check the photos and decide what to post.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This morning, at Mass, I had another one of those "What were the parents thinking?" moments.

There was a boy in church, who was maybe 9 or 10, with a black hoodie on. No problem

However, he back of the jacket had a neon green slogan written on it, and THAT, beyond question, can be filed under "Problem".

The slogan said, and I'm quoting it exactly right down to the punctuation:

"TWO WORDS:
S*CK IT!"

Now, you can call me old-fashioned, but I could cheerfully have lived without ever seeing this jacket and its crude inscription, particularly since I encountered it while I was getting in line for Communion, of all things.

So, what were the parents thinking? First of all, what parent would buy a jacket with that slogan on it for their grade-school-aged kid, period and end of sentence? Second of all, what parent would LET THEIR KID WEAR IT TO CHURCH? This is not an indigent parish. We're not a bunch of billionaires, but by gosh this is a neighborhood where people can afford to purchase a slogan-free garment for their kids to wear to church and school. Even if it WERE a neighborhood where most parishoners had, at best, limited funds to spend, I would think that sensible parents would see to it that their kids had clothes that could be worn in polite company.

Arrrrgh. And we wonder why the current crop of kids gets labelled as lacking in manners. It seems like too many of them are being raised without being given any sense that there exists a concept known as Inappropriate Behavior -- that there is such a thing as a time and place where some types of vocabulary, some behaviors, and some garments absolutely do not belong. It's not the KIDS' fault if they're not being brought up to understand that concept. That's a lesson that the PARENTS aren't imparting to their kids. Maybe the parents don't grasp that concept either -- who knows?

Sigh.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

THANK YOU SHERATON for offering the only flipping FREE WIFI access that I could find in the vicinity off LAX! I don't even know where the freaking Sheraton is around here, but apparently from the 17th floor of this hotel, we are in range of the Sheraton's wifi signal. The Marriott and Hilton both offer paid wifi access. How about NO. We are getting wifi signals from LAX itself, but there is a fee involved with that, too. No thanks. It really steams me because the Marriott in Center City Philadelphia does offer free wifi, so I expected the same to hold true out here. No dice.

So anyway, a big thanks to the Sheraton for allowing me the first internet access all week that didn't involve typing on a cell phone.

So, while I'm enjoying using the XO keyboard, let me write about the great day I had at the Braille Institute. The President Emeritus of Humanware did a demonstration of a soon-to-be-released product that will help deaf-blind people communicate with sighted, hearing, non-signing people. Thanks to KC, I went along as one of the interpreters who worked with the deaf-blind people who attended and wanted to learn more about it.

There were enough interpreters on hand that each deaf-blind participant was able to have one-on-one interpreting. So I got to work with someone who, at first, wasn't entirely clear on the concept of how this product was going to work. But then each person actually used the device one-on-one with the President Emeritus who was doing the demo. When the turn came for the person I was working with to use the device, you could literally SEE the moment when the Light Bulb Went On. When the person realized that this device could be used to communicate with bus drivers, store clerks, waiters, non-signing family members/neighbors/co-workers, etc, the person's face lit up with a big smile and they became VERY animated and wanted to know how to get one. :o) It reinforced my decision to get into the assistive-tech field, because it's a privelege to witness the moment when a person sees how something will make a huge difference in their life.

The President Emeritus has my contact info, as well as the knowledge that I have interest in training people how to use assistive tech for a living. They don't have a training force assembled yet for this device, as it's not available yet to the general public, but he knows I'm interested in joining their team. So we shall see. Heck, he was even interested in the XO, as well as my reasoning why I thought that it or something like it would make a good assistive tech device -- it's portable, durable, and might enable a person to make use of a laptop in situations where a standard laptop could not be used. So he has a pretty good idea how my mind works, and if he thinks I'll be a good fit for them, I hope they'll give me a call.

Anyway, good night/morning -- we have to get up EXTREMELY early tomorrow.

The view of L.A. from the 17th floor. We're in the hotel tonight, instead of KC's apartment complex, because we have a workshop at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I never got to take a photo of The Fan Club. Outside every apartment door in KC's complex, there is an on/off switch. I was puzzled as to its purpose, until KC told me to knock on her door rather than use the fans.

Fans?

The complex is designed for deaf-blind residents, so in lieu of a doorbell, the on-off switch activates oscillating fans in every room of the apartment. Then the deaf-blind person will know that someone's at the door, without needing to rely on vision or hearing.

Even the guest apartment I stayed in has the fans, so I used them to cool the apartment at night. :o)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

RATS! I could see the

RATS! I could see the (in)famous "Hollywood" sign from the paratransit van window, but nowhere near close enough to take a photo of it. Oh well,
I swear to gosh, if I wasn't already on blood pressure meds, this week's dealings with Access Paratransit would make me need a prescription.

This morning's ride nearly fell through when the dispatchers only gave orders for ONE passenger to be picked up instead of two. The driver called to verify the instructions and was originally told not to pick us up(!!!).

Well. Shall I say that this went over like a lead balloon? KC was justifiably upset because she made the reservation for two people. The driver had other pickups after us, so he was expecting to have a full car without the extra rider. But when he saw how upset KC was, he called the dispatchers back and got them to rearrange his itinerary somehow, and he picked us up. God bless him an infinite number of times.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

FARG the FARGING MORONS from Access Paratransit!!!!! They messed up our ride home! We stood outside the hotel from 4:55 for a 5:00-5:20 pickup time. Did they come pick YOU up and take YOU home? That's how they came and picked US up and took US home.

Very long story less long, after a long, politely irate call to the supervisor at 6 PM, they said the driver was there and waited 5 minutes for us. (BLARNEY, neither we nor the valet from the hotel saw him.) Long story less long, we are waiting till 7:45 (an hour from now) for the next available pickup.

If they don't show up then, look for some interesting headlines from Los Angeles in the very near future. "Crazed interpreter registers on Richter scale. Film at 11."

Twice the fun: we need two Assistive Listening Devices for the workshops.

KC checks the list of workshops she signed up for.

A man uses a braillle notetaker to jot info during a workshop. It has a QWERTY keyboard and a braillle display.

Alva BC640 display that works with PCs and cellphones/smartphones.

KC's telebraille. Put the phone receiver in the cradle, type, and read the braillle display (lower left corner) to make a TDD (TTY) call.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

At LAX. Either this is art dedicated to honoring construction work, or this sculpture is being restored. :o)

In the Super Shuttle van, on the way to KC's apartment complex.

Hat Trick Hunter always likes to have a window seat.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I suppose one way to take a "the glass is half full" approach to insomnia, on the night the clocks spring forward, is to remind myself that I have one less hour of sleep to miss.

Anyway. I'm trying to tire my eyes by reading, so I took a look at some of my techie sites. They're always good for some interesting new gadgets to read about. In the process, I encountered a product whose name is comprised of two words that I never expected to see adjacent to one another. Inflatable toast.



No, I am not making this up. Click here if you want to see the actual site that sells the product.

My first reaction was, "What the heck?" Upon reflection, I've refined my response to this product idea. Now I think, "What the heck and WHY the heck?" Do people not have enough ways to spend money? Can anyone offer an idea about who, besides food court stall owners who use standing displays of faux food to entice customers to place an order, would be the target market for two pieces of life-sized inflatable toast?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Good grief, is it ever windy! I mean seriously -- the wind is literally howling outside. No exaggeration, the last time I heard wind this loud was about 10 years ago, when there were tornadoes in the area. We don't have any tornado watches or warnings, but we're supposed to be under a high-wind advisory until 5 AM.

So, what's it like to be in this weather pattern? I looked out my window and saw this:



In other news, whose idea was it to make us lose an hour of sleep right before I go to California for a conference! Curse words! I need to lose sleep like I need a hole in the head. Wasn't the Daylight Savings Time change originally in April, and not March? Put it the heck back in April and give me back my hour of sleep this weekend.

Actually, knock on wood and three cheers for Zicam, I feel a ton better than I did a few days ago. There's still congestion, there's still a cough, and my voice is hoarse, but the FEVER is largely gone and the other symptoms are pretty much manageable. I'm a bit concerned about my fatigue levels, however, and for once I'm not referring to drowsiness or the lack thereof. I'm talking about muscle fatigue, which has been an issue over the past couple of days. Whatever this bug is that I'm fighting off, the battle knocked the daylights out of my stamina reserves. I hope those rebound well, especially by Tuesday. If not, well, I'll sleep REEEEEALLY well every night of the conference. ;o)

Since the only thing more draining than losing an hour of sleep is losing the hour of sleep and then having to interpret in the morning, I'll sign off and try to get those ZZZZs in now.

Someone just proposed to his girlfriend in the section adjacent to mine, as I took this photo. She said yes. :)

Scorch, the Trenton Devils mascot
I've heard of people getting spammed via text message for a while now, but until the past week, it had never actually happened to me.

Now, for whatever reason, I've gotten a spam text message several times this week, always from a different sender. Color me NOT HAPPY about it. I don't give out my cell phone number without valid reason, nor do I use it when registering online, so I'm not sure how it is that I'm ending up with unwanted messages. It's not impossible that some creepo greedy spammer has used software to just spew their garbage to every possible combination of mobile phone numbers.

It's illegal to spam people via text message, because the recipients have to pay for messages. I hope whoever's doing this gets prosecuted. Freaking nuisance.

Friday, March 07, 2008

WOW. Holy mackerel. Talk about a blast from the past -- months ago, I applied to become an audio transcriber. I figured that my background as an interpreter, my work experience with IT and financial institutions (which the transcribing company was looking for), and my 85 wpm typing speed would make a good combination for a job like that.

Well, I *just* heard back from the transcribing company. I did well on their transcription test, but they'd had a bit of a slowdown so they weren't bringing new transcribers on board. Now, they've experienced an increase in demand, and they are willing to add new transcribers to their workforce.

I wrote back to say that I am interested in working with them. I also explained that I will be away from my regular computer from March 11-15 due to attending a conference, but I would be willing to work on a document that can either be completed on March 10 or prior, or else begun on March 16 or later. I let them know that up front because while I'm definitely willing to work with these people, I also want to be fair to the clients who are turning in audio files to be transcribed. I don't want to cause a delay because I'm flat-out not at my computer at a time when a file needs to be worked on and turned in. That would make both me and the transcription company look bad.

Anyway, since I did well on the test, if the company doesn't mind the small detail that I won't be able to transcribe for five days next week, I'm sure they will either send me a file to work on now, or start sending me work after I get back from the conference. Either way, I'm all ears. Literally. :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I learned something interesting today. I think I'll share the wealth, and the lesson, so others can learn from my misfortune.

When every muscle in your body between your shoulders and navel is sore from coughing, DON'T READ FUNNY INTERNET SITES THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD, AND TRIGGER COUGHING FITS INTO THE BARGAIN. I now have some theories regarding how the phrase "It only hurts when I laugh" was derived. Ugh.

Still, some of the comments associated with this article are worth laughing my head off and dealing with the consequences.


Crocodile jumps at annoying man trying to pose for photo

A tourist in Australia's Northern Territory teasing a crocodile beside his boat annoyed the animal so much that it jumped out of the water at him. The man escaped. From The Telegraph:
Crocattttack"I began playing with it for a photo,'' Mr Mashiah said. "I was pointing at it when it suddenly jumped up at me - I didn't realise that crocs were so aggressive.''

The "saltie" – which experts believe probably approached the boat in search of a free feed of fish – propelled itself out of the water with terrifying speed. After narrowly missing its prey, it smashed into the side of the small metal boat before plunging back into the water.
Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!)


So feel free to click on the link to the article and read the accompanying comments ("LOLgators: I can haz ijit?", lol). This guy is a surefire runner-up for a Darwin Award, since he came within an arm's length of removing himself from the gene pool in an especially creative fashion. His guardian angel surely has several more gray hairs after this episode.

Anyway, here's an interesting article about how an XO computer was unexpectedly pressed into service during a business meeting, and came through with flying colors. The laptop might look like a toy, but under the bright plastic exterior there's a Real Computer. :o)
99.3 degrees. Pretty darn good for this hour of the night/morning. Fevers tend to go up during the night, so the fact that I don't feel like I've been hit by a steamroller now bodes well for my feeling better during the upcoming day.

Though everything I've been taking for the symptoms has been over-the-counter, I've been pretty aggressively treating the symptoms and I've followed it up by drinking enough freaking water to float Noah's Ark. Kudos to Joe M. for recommending the Zicam, which is something I've never tried before and which appears to be helping quite a bit.

OK, now that I've taken an overnight dose of meds, it's back to sleep for me. I hope.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

101.5 degrees.

This means WAR.

I have prescription-strength ibuprofen, Zicam, chicken soup, and a mini-water-cooler that holds the proverbial eight glasses of water that we're supposed to consume in a day. I am knocking this freaking bug out before I get on that freaking plane next week, if it's the last freaking thing I do.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

RIP to the father of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax.

Phoenix (lawful good cleric), Ananda (chaotic good cleric/figher/magic user), and Chiara (neutral good fighter) all salute you.

http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9885688-7.html

(LMHO at one of the comments on the article: "I guess he didn't roll a high enough saving throw". Hee hee hee hee!)

If the above post appears to be in an unknown dialect of English, sorry -- I'll just say that I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game when I was in college, and met some pretty darn nice people in the process, and leave it at that.
It's 2:19 AM and I just made chicken noodle soup.

I feel like I'm starting to come down with something, and I need this to GO AWAY before I get anywhere near an airplane next week. I started coughing over the weekend, and today the symptoms escalated to include head-to-toe aches and feeling feverish (though the temp never went all that high -- I don't consider 99.1 a fever).

Desperate times call for desperate measures. So, since I took a nap last night at the time I normally would have been eating dinner, and wound up never eating dinner, I decided to go for the time-honored traditional remedy of chicken soup.

Let's hope it works. :)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Anyone who doesn't believe in global warming, or as the BBC and others have been calling it for a while now, "global climate change", is just not paying attention.

It's March 3. It's still winter. I've been in Philadelphia proper for at least the past two weeks, and the farthest I have been from home in the past month has been Pennsauken, NJ.

So why did I discover, over the weekend, a mosquito bite on my knee? There is no rational explanation for the existence of a live, active, BITING mosquito in Philadelphia at this time of year besides "The climate isn't what it used to be".

I suppose I shouldn't complain... I'm lucky it's only ONE bite. Usually if there are any mosquitos around, I get chewed half to death. (My own personal record was 32 bites in ONE afternoon in Brigantine. Even for me, that was a bad mosquito day.) But then again, leave it to me to attract what may well have been the only freaking mosquito in the ZIP code that was out of hibernation in the midst of winter. Just my darn luck. While I could always use reminders that warm weather is just around the corner, getting mosquito-bitten was not exactly what I had in mind.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Nothing says "Peace on Earth" like a pink camo Easter basket...

Easter basket fillers... how about some Easter... footballs? Say what?