Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Big-Girl Car

Originally uploaded by johnsonla.

After months of research and more than a week of serious looking, we are now the owners of a pretty Phantom Gray 2003 Toyota Camry. And I think we got a pretty good deal on it, if I do say so myself!

A former corporate fleet car, our new acquisition is a bit high where mileage is concerned, but a mechanic friend said it looked clean and well-maintained and should run for a long time if we maintain it properly. The car features side curtain air bags, which was the biggest selling point for us.

Though the car is replacing my battered 99 Hyundai Accent, into which the car seat would barely fit (but to get the baby in and out required parental gymnastics), this is very definitely a family purchase, a communal vehicle for the toting of child and running of errands, etc.

Now all I have to do is wait for the state to issue me a title for my Hyundai (that's another story), and then we can get rid of it! (I feel I have to add here, though, that while teeny and very bare-bones, my Accent was the perfect college and grad school car. Low purchase and maintenance costs, dependable, and high gas mileage.)Anyone want to buy a car cheap?

- posted by laurie @ 7/26/2005 06:35:00 AM (0) comments

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Biometrics at the grocery store? Eek!

A few days old, but scary, nonetheless, is this story about the introduction of biometric payment at "one of the least technological chain of grocery stores in the US."

Piggly Wiggly wiggles themselves into the 21st century, but at what cost?: "Piggly Wiggly is the first chain to roll out biometric payment pads to their entire corporation. The idea behind the biometric pads is that you can link your fingerprint to either a checking account or credit card and when you are ready to pay for your groceries by simply pressing your thumb on the pad and away you go. Shoppers can also link their fingerprint to their 'store loyalty cards' so they don't have to carry their cards anymore"

Now, for me, those store loyalty cards present problems as is. I only use one, and that's for UPromise, because I'm all about anything that can help me earn more dollars for a college education that will cost more than a good-sized house by the time the kid turns 18. But having your loyalty cards, credit cards, checking account, etc. all linked to your prints seems a little scary to me.

Big Brother paranoia/security and privacy concerns aside, I find this snippet interesting, as well:

The security concerns don't seem to be stopping people from signing up for the service. 15-20% percent of Piggly Wiggly's noncash customers are now using Pay By Touch, only weeks after the rollout was completed. Apparently a good number of the early adopters are from a demographic that is considered to be afraid of technology: senior citizens. The explanation behind the willingness of seniors to switch is that a lot of the seniors were as concerned with offline (good ol' fashioned beat you over the head) theft as they were identity theft. The seniors said that they were thankful for a system that allowed them to leave their checks and credit cards at home.

Seniors getting on the bandwagon with the thumbprint payment system seems just, well, odd, but then again, I guess no one can steal your thumbs while you're not guarding your purse, and you won't inadvertently leave them at the checkout terminal after paying, either.

- posted by laurie @ 7/21/2005 08:13:00 AM (1) comments

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

On the "Self-Storage Nation" and moving

Tom Vanderbilt's June 18 Slate story, "Self-Storage Nation - Americans are storing more stuff than ever", had a special resonance for me when I came across it yesterday. I have never rented one of these little units, but it's been a consideration from time to time.

Moving looms on the horizon here, and as I look at all of the junk (*cough*, errm, crap) we (*cough* ok, I) own, I can easily see how people can get sucked into the continual accumulation of meaningful/less clutter. I've actually got tons of stuff that can fit into that category, as anyone who has been in our dwelling spaces over the past nine or so years can attest. I can't get rid of, for example, my mother's yearbooks, but really, now, what on earth can I do with them? As the story points out, houses these days don't have attics to toss junk into, and I think we're still several years away from home ownership and even a basement we can hide junk in. Anyway, we continue to accumulate clutter and things and stuff, consumerist junk or weird family kicknack (and I've got some doozies that fit into the nicknack category, for sure). We can't get rid of it. So we pay money to put it into a dark void for extended periods of time.

In some twisted way, it makes sense, it's comforting. On the other hand, it's an obscene waste of money and resources - we still have some open land that, as the article points out, may be "less desireable" as far as real estate goes, but for how long? And isn't there anything better to do with this land than put up fields of garages to store our landfill-bound junk, stuff that either we, if we're lucky and young and motivated, or our heirs, if we're older, less lucky, or too lazy to deal with our own junk, are going to one day paw through and, in all likelihood, just pitch.

I've been encouraged, in the course of our last several moves, to thin out the crap, to let go. I have done a little bit of that on each move. I hope to do more on this one (for example, I have a very large bin of clothes that the 18-to-22-year-old me fit into and felt comfortable wearing that the I've-had-one-baby-and-am-approaching-30 me has realized won't ever be worn again). The bin is getting emptied and the older-and-wider, uh, -wiser me is going to make a careful accouting of what goes in, estimate resale value, donate, and get a receipt for - so I can use it as a tax deduction. The bit of the eighteen-year-old me that still resides somewhere inside screams and kicks in protest, but she does that about just about everything, so I don't listen to her too much anymore.

As fun as this contemplation of clutter and storage units has been, blogging won't get packing done, and packing (and weeding out the stuff not getting packed) will have to take priority for some time now - so, if I revert back to my once-a-month posting pace, rest assured, I am here, doing work of some sort, and I'll resurface eventually, just like always.

- posted by laurie @ 7/20/2005 02:26:00 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Montgomery County District Adopts Handheld-to-Web Assessment Tool for Early Learners

In a query about using PDAs in first-year composition on the TechRhet list, someone linked to this article about the use of handhelds for assesment of literacy skills in the elementary classroom. Not only does this sound like a very cool use of technology - one which assists teachers in the classroom and allows them to do quickly what used to take weeks - but this is going on in the school district where I attended school for most of my k-12 years. I wish I knew more about the literacy assessment tools the teachers are actually being given pre-loaded on these handhelds, because although this sounds like a very innovative use of technologies, if it's heavily involved in the teaching-to-the-test, no-child-left-behind nonsense, I'm less thrilled.

- posted by laurie @ 7/19/2005 09:40:00 AM (0) comments

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Copy, Right?

Copy, Right? is a cover-song oriented blog. Quite interesting, in both the content served up and the copyright (domestic and international) issues raised.

That said, Thai covers of Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, the Beatles . . . all in one post. I'm keeping an eye on this one!

Link via Weblog Wannabe.

- posted by laurie @ 7/14/2005 03:34:00 PM (0) comments

The Move is On!

Our rental application was accepted, so we are moving, and soon. We go to sign the lease on the 29th, and I just booked movers for the 30th. Real movers! Can you believe it? So we can move and still have friends at the other end (we have come very close to losing friends over moves before because of the quantity and weight of items we own).

Digits may be uncrossed now. Oh, wait, recross them - this time in the hopes of getting all of our items (the smaller ones, that is) shoved into boxes in the next two weeks and two days.

- posted by laurie @ 7/14/2005 10:05:00 AM (0) comments

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why not?

Why not?
Originally uploaded by johnsonla.
Next in the "my kid is cute" series of photo-posts. She's not climbing the walls (yet), but she's very definitely trying to climb the shelves.

- posted by laurie @ 7/13/2005 07:43:00 AM (0) comments

Digits crossed, please

So, pending accptance of our application, we're moving here. It's practically next-door toEric's new place of employment (less than a mile, crow-flying-measurements, maybe two miles, as the car drives). It's a little further than next-door for me, and considering we're possibly going to keep daycare in Eagan through kiddo's birthday and maybe longer, I'm looking at a potential 60 to 90 minute commute to campus (to Eagan to drop off kiddo, from Eagan to campus to teach, go to meetings, whatever).

If you're a Twin Cities type (or even if you're not), I'd like to point out that our new place of residence, while staunchly suburban and mostly middle-class-bland (from what I can tell), is a place that made headlines last summer when they announced their intention to support a wireless municipal network for about 16.00/month.

This was not the impetus behind the move to Chaska. Municipal wireless is cool, but not cool enough to draw me that far from, well, everything. Just saying, if you've got to be that far from civilization, cheap and ubiquitous wireless is a decent consolation prize.

Anyway, the move happens THE LAST WEEKEND OF JULY if our application is accepted (can you tell it's making me nervous, not having a definitve answer on this?). Now, my smart friends and readers, go to a calendar and. Count. The. Days. We will likely take posession on the 29th and move in on the 30th, getting settled on the 31st, so that Eric can happily go off to his first day of the new job on the 1st of August. Today: 13th. Move-in day: 30th. 30-13=17. Two weeks and three days.

Am I allowed to panic now?

- posted by laurie @ 7/13/2005 07:04:00 AM (0) comments

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See what happens when people try and copyright everything in existence?

This story definitely showcases the weird and wacky in copyright-related litigation:

"HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS - A man has been attempting to use a novel defense - he copyrighted his name, and when government officials sent citations for traffic violations and property taxes, he claimed the government officials infringed upon his copyright.

In response, prosecutors accused him of breaking an obscure law that makes it illegal to attempt 'by threat of violence of economic reprisal against a person or property with intent to alter or affect a public official's decisions, votes, opinions or actions,' reports the Sky-Hi News of Granby.

A jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to two years in jail."

Also kind of IP-newsy is this list of WebCT awards for exemplary courses. There has to be some irony here: the creators of a proprietary course management tool give awards to a course on IP aimed at faculty (I'd be interested to see whether it was a "push fair use" or"General Council says be very very careful" kind of course) - but also to a film studies course that is delivered entirely online (how many digitized films? excerpts of films? how much of those films?) and uses WebCT and web sites to structure the course in such a way that *gasp* no textbook is neeeded!

Which reminds me: the Chronicle Review was about academic publishing several weeks ago. I really need to read that issue!

- posted by laurie @ 7/12/2005 07:20:00 PM (0) comments

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Three-grain tempeh stir fry

Three-grain tempeh stir fry
Originally uploaded by johnsonla.
Dinner tonight. Both tasty and pretty, so I thougth I would share. Ginger-sesame marinated three-grain tempeh stir-fried with pepper, green beans, and broccoli, served on steamed brown rice. Very yum.

- posted by laurie @ 7/10/2005 08:50:00 PM (0) comments

What a week!

So many things going on right now! E. accepted a new job this past week, and since it is quite a commute from where we currently live, we're moving. We were planning on moving anyway, but it looks like it will be by the end of this month or the beginning of next month - NOT our original timeline! So, we spent all of Tuesday afternoon and part of Wednesday afternoon apartment shopping. I went and put in an application and deposit for our top pick on Friday. We won't know until the end of this week, so keep your fingers crossed. The only major downside of this move is that we will lose our fabulous day care provider, though we may have to keep the kiddo with her until the end of September, at which point the baby will become a toddler. After her first birthday she will be much easier to place in a daycare setting (and also, less expensive).

Also, made a badge for this site with my photos from flickr - cool, and it actually worked. I am really perplexed by the unexplained mutation of the fonts on my blog's index page. I really, really need a new template. I really, really need to find someone to make me a new template. In order to justify such a thing, however, I really need to blog more than once every blue moon, and to do some actual substantive writing. Seeing that we're moving in less than three weeks and only became aware of the need to do so this past week, however, I don't foresee a big change in the look, feel, or content of this site. Because I also have reading to do and classes to plan (teaching a new course this year!) - I need to get ahead in the planning department because I am teaching three courses this year, a standard load, but they are all different - three classes, three preps. I have taught or been TA for all, but still. One's an online course, which I am greatly looking forward to, but that is not until the Spring semester.

I'm rambling. Too many thoughts in my head, too many things to do. Additionally, I need to get moving on the purchase of a new (to me, anyway) vehicle. Mine's about to fall apart, and a Hyundai Accent hatchback is not, not NOT the most family-friendly car a mommy could be driving. Definitely check out my flickr page, though - new cute pictures of the kid abound. I finally found the battery charger for my camera, and had to take advantage of that fact.


- posted by laurie @ 7/10/2005 08:26:00 PM (0) comments

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Global Voices Online

While caffeinating and listening to Future Tense on NPR this morning, I heard about Global Voices Online, a blog maintained through Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

From the About page:

We have two main goals:
1) To call attention to the most interesting conversations and perspectives emerging from citizens’ media around the world by linking to text, audio, and video blogs and other forms of grassroots citizens’ media being produced by people around the world.
2) To facilitate the emergence of new citizens’ voices through training, online tutorials, and publicizing the ways in which open-source and free tools can be used safely by people around the world to express themselves.

This sounds like quite an interesting project, and one that is very much needed!

- posted by laurie @ 7/05/2005 06:34:00 AM (0) comments