June 2009

Last Day

Alpha just reminded us that today is her last day of living at home.

Tomorrow (before dawn) I’m putting her on a plane for California, where she’ll spend a couple of months in a math research internship; upon her return in August, she’ll go straight to her apartment in Knoxville.  She’ll miss her first couple of days of classes, but she’s already communicated with the professors, so it’s okay.

With a lease going through the end of next July, she’ll move from that apartment to wherever she’s going to grad school.  We don’t yet know where that will be, but seemingly, it won’t be UT.

She’s already planning on finishing her PhD, so grad school will be a few years.

For whatever reason, I guess I’ve been focused on her being in California for two months, and it never dawned on me that these last 6 weeks or so were the last she would be living at home.

It’s a strange feeling, at least for me.

Delta, on the other hand, has designs on her sister’s larger bedroom, as soon as all the belongings are moved into the apartment in August.

Growing Up

Father’s Day was fun, as we had all the girls home for the first time in a while.  It’s interesting to see how they’ve changed, what they’ve learned, as the older two transition more to living independently.

They’re still welcome here of course, but they’re growing up and leaving the nest for increasingly longer test flights.  Alpha is home for a few more days, between the end of school and her summer research project at Cal State.  Beta is sharing a duplex out in the boonies with two friends, so she’s truly experimenting with independent living over the summer.

A week ago, we finished up the Explorer project, so Beta is mobile again.  Although it took an entire frustrating year to finish (with months off during the colder periods), it runs really well.  She’s happy.  I’m happy.

An interesting comment from Beta yesterday: “Wow.  I forgot what it was like to have soft toilet paper… that stuff’s expensive.”  First-apartment living with a degree of independence is a learning experience, and it seems that they’ve developed a bit more appreciation for where money comes from, and where it goes.  Everyday items, like soft toilet paper or a gallon of milk in the refrigerator, are seen in a new light.  They’re growing up.

Gamma is experiencing her first regular job, as a lifeguard at the municipal pool.  She loves the work, and on Saturday, had her first “save.”   Thankfully, it was an easy one — an elementary-age boy who’d gotten in over his head and was struggling.  I have to hand it to the City of Oak Ridge: the training and expectations of their lifeguards is first-rate.

Two weeks ago while HWTFM and I were picking up a washer and dryer for Beta (she bought it, we just transported it), his GPS was stolen from his truck during a brief stop at a store on Clinton Highway.  He was devastated — I’d just gotten a replacement under the warranty, because the first one was broken during a business trip in May.  Beta really stepped up to the plate and suggested to me that she and her sisters split the cost of a new one for him, for Father’s Day.

Since three of the four are working, it worked out.  He was really surprised and pleased.

Now, if only I can get Delta off the couch a bit more (facilitated by taking away her wireless adapter and ethernet cable), I’ll call it a successful summer.

Cracking the Code

A month or so ago, HWTFM’s laptop developed a bizarre problem of randomly shutting down, usually during the boot process.  Since it was out of warranty, he decided it was time for a new one, so the old one sat around on the kitchen table ever since.  Now that summer has arrived, I have a little time to tend to things around the house that need fixing.

Last week, I took apart the old laptop.  I didn’t actually FIX anything, but what appears to be the ritual “laying on of hands” probably includes snugging up connections that have worked loose over time.  Also removing gobs of cat hair, attracted to the inside of anything electronic because of the electrostatic charge.  But even after I was able to get it to boot successfully several times, we were still stuck: HWTFM had forgotten the administrator password (the only account on that machine).

I tried 437 times to guess at it, then gave up.  This morning, after again fixing Delta’s laptop via the “laying on of hands” method (it was her keyboard cable), I started googling for an XP password crack.  There are several out there for $34.95-ish, but I wasn’t in the mood to spend money.  Finally, I happened upon the Ultimate Boot CD, which contains quite a few excellent tools, including a password reset.

That’s how I know I tried 437 times to guess: the password reset tool told me how many times the incorrect password had been attempted prior to my reset.  The utility also includes a variety of hard disk tools, partition tools, a registry editor, anti-virus and anti-malware tools, and a bunch of other stuff.

MOST people probably either remember their Windows password, or just don’t use one.  But occasionally one is called upon to fix a machine where the password is unknown, or even one that was changed via malware.  This tool isn’t for rookies or the faint of heart, but it’s a good one if you can follow directions and sort of know what you’re doing at the command line interface.

Next up, I’m running a full scan on the old computer, because I’m suspicious that that’s how the password got messed up in the first place.  Once that scan is done, then we’ll have one more working laptop in the house, probably destined for Gamma going into her senior year of high school.

Another nifty freebie: BurnCDCC from TeraByte Unlimited is a small, fast ISO-burner to create bootable CDs.

If only I were as proficient in auto repair.

Summer Reading!

There’s something about Summer that cries out for a supply of good books… the kind that I carry with me from room to room, the kind that I’ll take with me when I leave the house, to make use of any spare minutes in the day.  A couple of weeks ago, my mother loaned me one by an author I wasn’t familiar with; I’m smitten, and won’t stop until I’ve finished everything he’s written.

The Quiet Game, by Greg Iles, is a legal thriller in the style of John Grisham.  But, it’s also about grief, about love, about the sanctity of family and community.  Uncomfortable topics like race and the deep South interweave with Penn Cage’s effort to recover from the death of his young wife, caring for his four-year old daughter, and going home to Natchez, Mississippi.

I don’t want to spoil it, but the drama that follows in Natchez is one that kept me up reading late at night until the last page was finished.  I ordered the next one, from Amazon, within five minutes of finishing The Quiet Game.

What’s different about Greg Iles is that his books are not all of the same genre; I first read Third Degree, which is a thriller, but not at all the same as The Quiet Game.  I recently listened to The Footprints of God, with almost a science-fiction sheen on the tale.  24 Hours is in the mail, so I have a few days of productivity before the next distraction arrives.  Iles’ first two novels are historical fiction, set in WWII.

“Summer reading” sounds like an assignment, but for me, it’s a vacation in place.