Copyright ©1997-2011 Glenn Fleishman except as noted otherwise. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact Glenn Fleishman at glenn at glennf.com. Photo © 2008 Laurence Chen; used with permission.
Turning technology from mumbo-jumbo into rich tasty gumbo
Ben: The dung is on the plane! [after reading about dung beetles in a book]
Me: I don’t think dung really needs to be on a plane.
Ben: The dung is flying the plane.
Me: But dung is an inanimate object. Like a rock. Can a rock fly a plane?
Ben: Yes! A rock can fly a plane!
Me: I would prefer not to fly that airline.
Rex has a new word: ding! I put a bell on my bike recently, something I’ve long resisted for its sheer nerd-a-liciousness. But the bike trails and streets are more crowded as folks shed cars for cycles, and I find myself calling out “passing” or “on your left/right” very often. Since everyone is obligated by a dictate from Apple to be wearing headsets while walking or running (and very ill-advisedly while biking), my voice doesn’t carry far. The bell works nicely, and I think it’s less irritating to people. They also seem to obey it more quickly than a voice alert.
Ben and I take the bus to his childcare most mornings these days. I load my bike on the bus, get on with Ben, and we take a short ride there, then I bike to work. It’s a nice multi-modal combination that saves me driving around for 15 minutes near my office (some days) to find a parking space or breaking down and spending $7 to park for a day. That plus the saved gas and wear and tear outweighs the $1.75 for the bus for me (he rides free).
Rex and Lynn often walk down to the stop, which is about 200 feet from our front door. The other morning, Lynn was off and our weekly babysitter Taryn walked down with us, holding Rex. Ben was playing with the bell, and Rex said, distinctly, “Ding!” He now likes to say it in all circumstances. I think it’s his third complete word: “Down” was first, then “train,” a couple days ago, and now “ding!”
This morning, I needed to re-record my regular weekly KUOW-FM technology segment because of a double technology failure at the station. It’s pretty rare that either their main systems or the backup (an in-studio mini-disc) fail, and sure enough, it happened. So I biked up to the U District, a couple blocks from Ben’s child care, and then after recording was on my way down 45th towards my office.
As I’m passing through Wallingford, I see a bunch of kids with a few adults at a bus stop; some kind of summer program. The kids are making the universal sign to truckers of “pull your horn!” But the truckers, knowing urban law, aren’t; they can get cited, and traffic was ugly, so they might not have been in any mood to honk.
I rang my little bell as I passed, and the pre-teens were pretty delighted. They cheered, said, “way to go, cycler!”, and such like. I said, “The bell’s the best I got!” I didn’t expect such a positive response. It made my day.
Then I got to the office. A transformer in the building had blown. No power. I’d just sent back a couple of cell data modems to a carrier yesterday. ETA for repair was 5 to 20 hours. I called my friend Nancy, and cycle a few miles north where she works out of her house for a technology news service, taking an old laptop with me. I got a few things done, but the laptop was missing critical software I needed. By the time I had gotten it mostly in shape, the building manager texted that the power was back on. A bird had hit the transformer, and the utility was able to fix it quickly; they thought it was an underground cable at first.
So, lunch with Nancy, then a cycle that was mostly downhill at speeds fast enough that I was employing the brake liberally. A few hours of real work, and now, another bike ride home!
Posted by Glennf at 4:15 PM
Posted by Glennf at 1:51 PM
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