September 11th, 2007

krazy koati

It's a matter of choices and a matter of time

Just because I was away for only a week and change should not be taken as evidence that nothing went on in my parents' home. The most inconvenient change is the Tivo remote has broken. Not completely, of course; that would be too easy as it would compel prompt replacement. Instead it's just some buttons on the number pad which have broken -- the 2, 3, 5, and 6 no longer trigger the Tivo box. So if I want a channel that I watch, such as Turner Classic Movies, 256, I can go to 199 or to 400 and page through the guide until I get there. I don't even know what makes that selection of buttons vulnerable.

And months ago my father picked up a little egg from one of those vaguely pleasant-looking useless item stores. It naturally shows the time, unless you rock it in which case it shows the alarm time, the temperature, a counting timer, or something else, and any time it gets nudged it moves to a new mode. Somehow he had turned the alarm on it to 3:15 am, ages ago, and has been waking my near-deaf father consistently in the middle of the night, which he would blame on me. I don't know that this is what was waking him up, but there wasn't any way to turn it off that I could find. Eventually I re-set it so the alarm time was 3:15 pm, which isn't ideal, but at least won't wake people up.

But now it doesn't beep at 3:15 am or pm. It's taken to beeping once or twice every so often -- on average five minutes, sometimes more and sometimes less -- and nothing we can do will stop it. It's the electronic knick-nack equivalent of a nagging cough or the guy who calls you when you haven't answered your e-mail in four hours and drags out the one-question item to fifty minutes of dull conversation. Presumably there's some button combination to press to stop it, but it turns out to be impossible to program the egg without shaking it, making it switch to another mode and lose all its programming. It may shortly become a digital omelette.

And yet there are some constants: I got a letter from the university where I interviewed and gave a presentation back in early June. They find me extremely well qualified and are glad I considered them for employment.

Trivia: On 11 September 1777 British General Henry Clinton wrote a letter to General John Burgoyne using a code by which only the words fitting inside a particular hourglass shape on a paper stencil were to be read, so the letter as a whole without the stencil would be incomprehensible. Burgoyne lost the stencil. (He reconstructed the rough shape and made out the message.) Source: Redcoats and Rebels: The American Revolution Through British Eyes, Christopher Hibbert.

Currently Reading: A History of the United States Weather Bureau, Donald R Whitnah. Yes, that's right, and it is too an interesting read.