March 31st, 2010

krazy koati

I think I'll go out and find me a flower

I got the call the last hour of Thursday, the end of my workweek. It was my father. My sister-in-law was in trouble. Not big trouble: her truck had been in and out of the mechanic's (the one I went to in the days before buying the new car), and it was currently in. She, her husband, and her daughter were going on a short vacation the next day and needed it dealt with, so my father was taking care of getting the truck through the mechanic's, and he needed a ride to deliver him from their place back to the mechanic's. There was a lot of time pressure on.

The core problems with the truck were, first, the brakes, which have been flaky and weird on it forever. Second, it's been raining a lot. The mechanics are in the most flood-prone portion of New Jersey, a town which manages to have catastrophic floods whenever people tip over their iced teas, which makes the Wawa merchants in the area very nervous. So the truck was in and out and in again, partly because they didn't have the time or ability to fix things, partly because of delays getting needed parts in, partly because no one has ever been able to make the brakes on this truck work right. It had been taking longer than projected to get it into drivable-for-the-weekend shape and she was at the end of her tether.

Well, I got up, and my father got the truck over, and that was in decent shape. And so I also had an unexpected but welcome visit with my niece again, with her showing off her ability to slice up wooden blocks which look like bread, or just toss them off the coffee table and all over the floor. She's also quite good at picking out the alphabet-letter magnets, although she's not too firm on distinguishing Y from V just yet. She is doing well for her age at throwing them off the coffee table and onto the floor, though. And it all spun out into a Chinese take-away dinner, and chance to see my relatives.

While we were close to my alma mater and I had things I could usefully get from the library, my father put up such passive-aggressive how long will it take moaning at it that I gave it a pass, and just drove him to pick up his truck. Also clearly there's some kind of car sickness going around, as my sister-in-law's truck problems started the same week I had my tire disorder.

Trivia: Herman Hollerith's initial leases of tabulators to the United States Census Bureau were $1,000 per year per machine. By 27 October 1889 the Census had contracted for six machines and expected to need 100 more. Source: Herman Hollerith: Forgotten Giant of Information Processing, Geoffrey D Austrian.

Currently Reading: Magnificent Desolation, Buzz Aldrin, Ken Abraham. My mother got it for me, a little surprise book, and I thought it'd be nice to read it right after Aldrin's 1973 book. Unsurprisingly there's more of his post-Apollo life; a bit surprisingly, there's almost no mention of Project Gemini, except for the cover photograph.