Not a promising start to the day

I logged on this morning and only found three e-mails in my work inbox, none of them from the Internet. It looks like we’re having mail delivery problems — what will I do without my daily dose of spam?

But I cheered up on my drive in, since I was playing a Dr. Demento CD, full of absurd songs, including Tom Lehrer. And now I’m off to try to save lives.

I’m back (with a “Proud American Donor” bear to show for it), but our Internet e-mail isn’t. Oh, well…I’ve got lots of other stuff to do today.

Sometimes, I'm an easy mark

Today was one of those times. I wanted to check the weather, so I went to my bookmark for the local weather on First, they gave me an interstitial ad, then a pop-up, then a jump-up, and then something on the window made noises — but eventually, I got the weather.

Later on, I wanted to check it again, so I decided to try the Weather Underground. They had an ad or two on the page, too, but one of the ads offered to sell me a year’s ad-free membership on the site for $5. That was a no-brainer — I’ve been using the Weather Underground for years, going back to when it was a Gopher site at the University of Michigan, and so I was glad to give them $5.

Buying Radio Userland should have been a no-brainer, too, but I didn’t get around to doing so until I was writing this posting. I tried using it right after 8.0 was released, but didn’t make a habit of it, so it expired. But now I’ve got it and will begin playing with it again, as though I needed something else to do with my time!

But I don’t plan to donate a buck to Adam Curry, even though I enjoy his site a lot. First, because if I did donate to him, where would I stop (there are a lot of people whose sites I enjoy over in the left margin)? And, I guess his being a multi-millionaire might have something to do with it, too (though a buck wouldn’t break me, either)…but I’ll happily donate egoboo instead.

Starting over

I think I’ve cleared out all the debris at the Radio site, and I invite you to join me there to see just how badly a weblog can begin.

Technology is not always your friend

Jeffrey’s Hebrew class is learning Torah cantillation, which will help prepare them for their B’nai Mitzvot (less than a year away!).  The book that they’re using comes with an accompanying CD, with several tracks per trope, to make it easy to find the right track to match the lesson.  All in all, there are 83 tracks.

Unfortunately, the CD player he’s using is an old cheap boombox, and it only displays track numbers up to 39 — we didn’t discover this until today, when he wanted to play track 40 and couldn’t find it!

So I’m in the process of copying tracks 40-79 onto a new CD so that they’ll be accessible.  Easy CD Creator came with my CD burner, so I thought I’d use it.  That was probably a mistake.  Even though I have a 24x burner, the defaults in the software have slowed it down to a crawl — it stopped between tracks when it was copying the audio, and now it’s stopping between every track as it’s burning the new disc.  So what I thought would be a five-minute process is turning into a half-hour exercise — and then I’ll have to figure out how to finalize the disc so it can be used in the CD player. 

Oh, well; it’s cheaper than buying another boombox.

And it worked!

Laughing so hard I nearly hurt myself

Having all twelve shows on DVD is much more convenient than having them scattered about several videotapes (especially when going back to favorite shows or moments), and the extras on the DVD are worth seeing, too (at least once). I haven’t gotten around to playing any of the episodes with director’s commentary yet, but I probably will someday, when I run out of other things to watch.

Not that that’s very likely. While we were on vacation last week, we’d almost emptied our TiVo — at one point, all that it had was the figure skating gala from the Olympics — but now that we’re back at work and school, TiVo is filling itself up steadily, far faster than we can watch it. And we still haven’t seen the figure skating gala. Or any of the pile of DVDs in the backlog. And let’s not talk about books…..

At least I’ve finally gotten through reading my e-mail backlog at work, even if I haven’t quite answered everything yet. Or even everything I plan to answer.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping Verizon will finally get my DSL line completely functional. It works fine if I only want to use it for data, but there’s still some crosstalk if I try to use the line for voice calls, and Verizon tech support tells me that there’s a “cross-ring”. So they’re sending out a tech tomorrow morning, forcing me to work from home — darn.

Your house is being fumigated…where are you going to go?

No, not Disneyland — we were just there two months ago.

Instead, we went to Universal Studios Hollywood, where we had a pleasant two days. The weather was good, the crowds weren’t too large, the lines for Jurassic Park: The Ride were non-existent, the jokes on the Studio Tour were ok, and the food at Citywalk was pretty good.

We even got a decent price on our hotel, by following a procedure recommended in a recent Murky Nooz article: first, check prices on Expedia or Travelocity (yikes: $150/night for the nearby Sheraton or Hilton, and that’s at a “special rate”). Second, try Hotwire — hmmm, $60/night for an unknown hotel in the Burbank/Universal City area…sounds better. Third, bid less than the Hotwire price on priceline — I tried $50, but priceline said that that price would be “unlikely to be accepted” and that the average bid was about $130. So I tried $52, and a few minutes later, was told that the Sheraton Universal City had accepted the bid. Not bad, since that was the same hotel Expedia wanted $150 for…and at $52, I was willing to buy two rooms. So we did, making the time at the hotel more pleasant for everyone (though I wish we’d gotten connecting rooms, not just adjoining rooms).

Today, we drove home rather quickly, arriving a full hour before PG&E was due to turn the gas back on. The fumigation had been completed and the house was in good order. And then PG&E surprised us by showing up early — in two trucks, one of which was hauling a big yellow piece of construction equipment. It seems that the valve on our gas meter had broken off when they turned off the gas, and they wanted to be ready in case of problems. But we (and they) got lucky — they were able to install a new valve without digging up the gas line, the street, or any trees — and they even turned the gas back on and lit the pilot on the water heater, instead of making us wait for the previously-scheduled service visit.

Universal Studios was offering a special deal — pay full-price for a one-day ticket and get a full year pass (minus some blackout dates) for free. If we lived closer to LA, that probably would be a good deal, but for us, a two-day ticket through our hotel for slightly less than the normal one-day price was a better choice. We got to see everything we wanted to see, which we couldn’t have done in one day, and I don’t feel obligated to drive back down later in the year because it would be “free”!

A nice way to end Shabbat

It wasn’t the most serious concert of cantorial music I’ve ever been to — sure, he did “Shalom Rav” and “Oseh Shalom”, as well as “Open Up Our Eyes“, but he also indulged himself in what Diane later called “Jewish filking”, doing takeoffs on Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater, and the Beatles.

And it was all good, and good fun. And we bought both CDs on our way out, which was, of course, the idea!