Thursday, March 6, 2014

Awkward Family Photos and Verbal Analogies, SAT-Style

[We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this important bulletin: Today is "Family Harmonica Day".]

The Awkward Family Photo calendar said so.

"Why on earth", you ask, "do you have an Awkward Family Photo calendar?!?!"

Good question.

Have you ever heard of "photo-bombing"? Usually, it's a practice where someone jumps into another's scene while a photo is being taken, without the primary subjects noticing. Benedict Cumberbatch and squirrels alike have been known to take up the hobby.

At our house, it's what happens when you ask friends to babysit whilst you attend a wedding, and they see fit to grace our walls with said calendar's presence, without you noticing until after they had left for the night. In this case, the calendar literally "photo-bombed" our wall.

Fortunately, it's turned out to be quite the useful calendar with so many helpful holidays written in. Today is "Family Harmonica Day", and "Dress Like a Hobbit" comes later this month. And then there are other important occasions such as "Polyester Jumpsuit Day" and "Family Sweater Day". If you haven't gotten your harmonica on yet, though, you'll want to hurry. The day is almost done!

Know how Mr. Dude and I are celebrating this year's "Family Harmonica Day"? We're sitting side by side working on our respective computers while Little Guy sleeps. Ah, the life of a nerd and his wife. He's doing PowerShell scripting for work and I just finished up a freelance gig wherein I kinda-sorta-not-really played the part of a web developer.

Actually I was migrating content from one website to another, which really just means I was a glorified copy-and-paste wizard. But a wizard nonetheless, mind you. I'm working on getting my staff and a horse as cool as Shadowfax.


What's that you say? You're surprised that I dove into the world of web development?

Me, too. Sometimes these things just land in my lap and I take them - always good to learn new skills and earn a bit of extra cash, right?

Mr. Dude, however, was more focused on the fact that I was uploading content into a WordPress site.
Mr. Dude: "That's not web development, Stephanie!"
Me: "Well, you're just doing PowerShell. That's not really programming."
Mr. Dude: "Yes it is!"
Me: "Then working with WordPress sites is web development. So there."
Very sophisticated arguing, I tell you. But a valid point, unless of course you agree that
HTML : WordPress :: C++ : PowerShell

If that's true, then WordPress really is nothing like "true" web development, whatever that means. I'm still accepting the title of "Copy and Paste Wizard", though.  

Happy "Family Harmonica Day"! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Halo: Taking Over the World

[One cell phone and Atari console at a time ...]

In this week's [or maybe just today's?] edition of "news Stephanie notices now only because she's married to a geek", I saw an article from TechCrunch about Microsoft's answer to Siri.

I know we all want some sort of personal assistant who knows what we need, when we need it, and can get it for us. Heck, if I had someone who could bring me coffee and do my paperwork and clean my house while I just played with Little Guy all day, that would be fantastic. And I know how hard it is to find a good assistant - I've actually worked as an admin assistant on several occasions, once for an executive director. [Do you know how hard it is to stay one step ahead of a boss who we all joked had more energy than the Energizer Bunny?!]

For some of us unfortunate souls, the closest we get to having a personal assistant is being good friends with apps like Remember the Milk, Evernote and Google Calender. [God bless those developers!]

Apparently, there are some people want a pseudo-friend who will organize their lives and talk to them, too, even if it's their OS wearing those shoes [wasn't there a movie nominated for an Oscar this year about that?].

Video gamers, say goodbye to Siri. Your new best friend [as long as you like Windows Mobile] is now Cortona.

Oh wait, she already was, wasn't she? For all those years you played Halo? [Or still play Halo?] 

Yeah, she's that creepy AI that helps you with the crazy amount of information you have to store whilst you're beating the bad guys.

Um, methinks I already have enough video games in my life without having my phone talk to me like a character from a giant gaming franchise that I'm pretty sure Mr. Dude could play through while blindfolded.

Thanks anyways, Microsoft. I'm sure it's the thought that counts.

In last week's edition of "news the family only pays attention to because they have a geek for a son", Mr. Dude's dad dropped off a photocopied article from the Smithsonian magazine. [Yes, he can be old-school like that. Photocopiers do still exist, people!]

The Scrabble rule in Mr. Dude's family is that if you can use it in a sentence, it's a legit word.

So now, thanks to someone who wanted to "demake" Halo by cramming it all into just 4KB of memory on an Atari 2600, I have a new word to use and hopefully score triple word points on. If only I could get Mr. Dude to play a game of Scrabble without taking 10 minutes for each turn ...

There. Now don't you feel so much more informed about the important events of the day?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscar [!!!!!] Moment

Last night, I threw Mr. Dude for a loop.

Little Guy goes to bed fairly early, and Mr. Dude was sick in bed. So I decided to make myself dinner and watch the Oscars.

Guys, I almost NEVER watch the Oscars. I'm not interested in celebrity gossip, or the red carpet, or even in seeing the latest movies.

Heck, I realized that I hadn't even seen most of the movies that were nominated in any of the categories for this year's awards. That's probably because I never get to the movie theater anymore. Or remember to rent the movies later. Or even know that the movies are coming out to begin with.

[We call that living in the "Parenthood Bubble".] 

But I digress.

Let's suffice it to say that watching the Oscars is a little out of character for me.

You know how they have different celebrities come on stage to introduce the next category and announce the winners?

In my head, I'm usually seeing the actors as the various characters I've seen them play. Or I'm scratching my head trying to figure out who they are.

[Enter Whoopi Goldberg.] 

She's been in a lot of stuff that are family favorites: The Lion King. The film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Sister Act. Sister Act 2.

And what comes to mind first when I see her walk out on stage?

"Hey, she played Guinan."


As in, a character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Really?!?! REALLY?!?!

I LOVED The Lion King. I thought Sister Act was hilarious, and that the sequel was even better. And she redeemed Brandy's performance in Cinderella.

And the first thing that comes to mind is her role in Star Trek?!

I have a disease, people. Mr. Dude's forever ruined me with so much exposure to Star Trek that I may never recover.

I'm pretty sure the only cure for it is more cowbell. Or coffee. Or chick flicks. Or ... something.


[UPDATE: Mr. Dude has informed me that Guinan only appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, not DS9. I'm not sure if I should give myself a proverbial slap on the wrist for making such a rookie mistake, or a pat on the back for not being as well-versed in the Star Trek universe as I thought, thereby having some hope at "normalcy". Either way, I informed him that he will NOT be getting me to watch them again. He still hasn't watched multiple seasons of Downton Abbey, The Big Bang Theory or Sherlock with me.]

Saturday, March 1, 2014


[The title is an onomatopoeic reference to me gasping for air after drowning in the ocean that is buying a home and moving into it ... all with one very wiggly and mobile Little Guy and a Mr. Dude who is working overtime right now.]

That's right, people. We bought a house. And Mr. Dude officially has a "man cave" that is his to do with as he pleases. 

[Can you say "ridiculously happy geek"?] 

Aside from putting our laundry machines downstairs eventually to accommodate a larger dining room, Mr. Dude has a sizable space to use with plans for a full bar, a media area [with surround sound for him ... and sound-proofed floors for his wife's ears], his computer desk and an extra table for working on tech projects. 

That extra table is important, people. 

Because there are stories from his past that still haunt him. 

Stories of using a soldering gun to repair a laptop. 


On his mother's dining room table. 

With a tablecloth. 

That now has a small hole burned into it. 

So he's banned from doing said tech projects in such places. And thus we're getting him his own tech work bench/table/space. 

But I digress. 

For Christmas, I promise I actually did get him a tech-related present, despite me listing a few things I vehemently declared I would not get for him. 

Yes, that is a Companion Cube Ice Cube Tray. And warning sign coasters. Because a geek's bar needs to be tricked out with appropriately geeky stuff, right? 

The full bar is going to be Tron-themed, complete with blue and orange neon mixed in with acrylic. 

[Mr. Dude really likes acrylic.] 

I figured that Portal 2 was the same colors and cool enough that he'd be okay with something of a mash-up for his theme. 

The wife guessed right. Booyah!

And as a bonus, I got Geek Points from ThinkGeek AND my husband. Double booyah! 

Also on the list of "you-know-I-love-my-husband-a-LOT-when-I-buy-him-ridiculous-stuff-like-this": 

[Exhibit A: Valentine's Day gift - Mario Mushroom Tap Lights. That I found in a consignment shop. For $3 each.] Before you think I'm a cheap-o gift-giver, I also told him I'd play one of the Mario games with him for an evening. If you believe this infographic about how much a stay-at-home-mom's time would be worth in the "outside world", then my time is worth about $20/hour, give or take. Assume that an evening of video games is about 4 hours [because that's all I think I can handle before I go cross-eyed and want to pull all my hair out], then the gift is at least $80. There, now you can't think I'm a cheapo. And Mr. Dude is ridiculously excited for me to voluntarily play video games with him. Yes, I love him that much.

[Exhibit B: Command Gold Onesie, 24 months. That I found at the same consignment store. Also for just $3.] Yes, that's Little Guy's size. But when I called Mr. Dude to tell him I found him a present, and he saw it when he came home from work, he definitely agreed that it was a gift for him. Because what nerd wouldn't want their son to proudly sport Kirk's uniform? As long as our son doesn't end up doing commercials for an online travel company, we're okay ...

[Bonus Items: Classic Children's Books] Because there are some titles that you buy immediately when you see them in such good condition at the consignment shop. So while Mr. Dude is trying to convince Little Guy to be a computer nerd, I'm going to be instilling a love of books into him. Hurray for a growing library!

In the meantime, my apologies for leaving you all hanging for so long. I know you were just dying to hear about all the funny things Mr. Dude has been up to in all of his geekery these past couple of months. Or maybe you were just living life as usual. Or perhaps you were too busy playing Age of Empires with Mr. Dude to realize I hadn't been writing about his antics?