Archive for February, 2013



February 16, 2013

lt has been a month so I figured I’d talk about the new car, give it a review. And then this week was full of NYT and Tesla arguing like internet n00bs (proving, even if you are the NYT and CEO of a medium-sized company, someone on the internet is wrong).

Let’s recap my views on the Tesla… I thought it was silly and expensive. While C likes bleeding edge technology, I’d rather wait until someone else dealt with the bugs before getting mine. Since I write (err, fix) bugs for a living, well, I understand that it just takes awhile before things are solid.

Also, it is an expensive car. Really, really expensive. We could use that money for something else. Something worthwhile. Maybe three normal cars that we juggle in the backyard using our giant robot.

More than a year ago, I tried to get a friend to convince C it was silly to put down the deposit on a car that wouldn’t ship for a year and would be on the gushing bleeding edge. Said so-called friend told us he’d already put down his deposit; my hope for rationality was quashed.

Then it was like a game of chicken. I figured C would use his refundable deposit to have a stake in watching things. It would be amusing to him. And we’d never go through with it. Because, wouldn’t it be better to have a giant car juggling robot? Or something?

In the end, it is much cheaper to buy the car than to put my foot down and have my husband be unhappy. Clearly, I am a pushover for him.

But I wasn’t entirely a pushover for Tesla.

I didn’t like that Tesla isn’t a car company. While I don’t like the car lots or the dealers, I understand the process. Tesla isn’t that and I’m not confident I can navigate the shoals of an up-and-coming car manufacturer. Plus, I saw Tucker. I know how this story can end. (The Tesla has side headlights that come on when you turn, highlighting where you are pointing. It was eerily familiar after the Tucker movie. Also, quite amusing.)

Tesla did not help their case during the decision-making process. We went to one of their test drive extravaganzas, with balloons, soft-serve ice cream, a DJ, and the opportunity for one of us to drive the car on windy roads while the other one tries not to throw up on the super-expensive backseat. I hated the whole event. I was frustrated I couldn’t talk to the salesfolk because the music was so stupidly loud. I declined to ride along as I tend to get car sick and already knew the road they were taking; it wasn’t going to end well for anyone. I generally made my husband unhappy with my complete crankiness. But he still enjoyed test driving the car.

I was worried that we’d get the car and I’d still be cranky: unable to drive it for fear of hurting it, unable to look at it without thinking how many hours we’d have to work to pay it off, unable to ever bond with something that financially irresponsible.

It took two days. Maybe less. We got the car on Saturday, took it for a long drive, had annoying problems (had to stop at a gas station! oh, the chagrin!) and eventually came home with me liking the car but not loving it (also, slightly carsick). I didn’t drive it until Sunday and then only to pop to the library and back: boring, even in a nice car.

The next day, I took friends out to lunch in it. I accelerated outrageously and cornered hard (I <heart> freeway on-ramps). I showed them the frunk (front trunk). They oooh’d and aaaah’d over the utterly ridiculous retracting door handles. We talked about the car always having a full tank when it leaves the house. They played with the sunroof. I showed them the adorable key (vroom, vrooom!).

In showing them the sweetness of the car, I somehow realized I’d fallen for the Tesla.

It’s name is Electron.

C says it is too dirty for a photo shoot, I’ll just take a picture I’ve been thinking about for awhile…


Let's take a look at what's under the hood...

Let’s take a look at what’s under the hood…

Hey! This car is puppy powered!

Hey! This car is puppy powered!

Does anyone have 30-60 hamsters I can borrow? I think that will be even funnier.


Gravel, expired squirrels, grapes, Trident gum

February 12, 2013

Beagles don’t live in the wild and I know why.

The first time we took Zoe to the vet for “gastric distress” due to “dietary indiscretions”, we felt like terrible puppy parents. We should have known. Because she enthusiastically wanted to play ball (even as she was vomiting), we thought she’d just eaten too much grass (which she seems to do because she likes to barf).

When the vet used the term “dietary indiscretion”, it strongly reminded us of the politician who belittled his hypocritical immorality by calling it a “youthful indiscretion”. Both terms have this feeling of joyful breaking of the normal rules. This completely describes our beagle.

And Zoe does like to eat things. Really, anything is fine.

Last week, while I was in class, my husband sent me a dog shaming photo of Zoe. If you haven’t seen dog shaming before, you really should follow the link. Dogs are terrible creatures. And putting signs around their neck has really made their bad behavior a lot easier to take. I wrote a post-it note for Bear a few days ago (my first) and it made his annoying behavior humorous.  Which them made it easier to deal with, which is to say, distract them from the badness, interest them in something non-destructive.

So, while we’re read the site for awhile, we’re new to actually shaming the dogs. I think this was C’s first attempt.

Does it look like she's trying to blow a bubble?

Does it look like she’s trying to blow a bubble? It says “I ate Elecia’s Bubble Gum (including wrappers)”

One important thing, though… like they used to say on America’s Funniest Home Videos, if someone is actually in danger, put down the camera and help.

Sugarless gum is poisonous to dogs. It is the Xylitol sweetener. Oh, and before I go on… Zoe is fine. Bear is fine. But it was a harrowing time.

After taking the picture and then perusing the internet, C rushed both dogs to the emergency vet. Where Zoe got to barf, probably even more than she liked. Bear also participated in that part but all evidence suggests he didn’t eat the gum (poor Bear, punished but not even an accomplice).

Does this bandaid make me cuter? I swear I didn't eat the gum.

Does this bandaid make me even cuter?

Zoe did show some of the poisoning signs (low blood sugar) and was in the hospital for 48 hours.  However, thanks to C’s fast action, she was out of the woods pretty quickly and doesn’t show signs of liver damage (yay!). While in the hospital, she wiggled when she shouldn’t have and they broke a needle in her so there is a quarter inch of 30 gauge wire floating around. While that sounds horrible, it is probably not going to harm her.

Harrowing times… but all dogs are home and happy. They haven’t even deserved shaming today. Yet.


Stained glass: so many tentacles, so little time

February 6, 2013

A week ago, I started taking an intro to stained glass through Los Gatos recreation. As I was considering taking the class, a slumped glass artist friend (Kristin, IdleCreativity at Etsy) said she’d heard of the teacher and asked did I want to take the class. Well, yes, with having a friend in the class as an extra bonus, I stopped waffling about taking Spanish instead and signed up for stained glass. I got that sinking feeling as the instructor started to talk. He gave us a list of things we needed to get. The signup said there would be about $100 of additional materials. I had a check, figured the instructor would get us the basic pack and we’d be on our own if we wanted extra goodies. But a list was fine, I can go acquire things. He told us where to go (Kiss My Glass in Santa Cruz) and that the store owner could describe things in more detail. But it would probably be a bit more than $100. That was all fine, the sinking came as we went over the list.

He started to talk about which things on the list we shouldn’t get. And we should organize to get only one of something between the six students. And really, he’d just bring it himself, we shouldn’t get one. Oh, but make sure you get a glass cutter. But not one like this. Or this or this. One like this (holding up example) but one that works (it didn’t cut the glass he tried it on).

Ummm… could I have a list of stuff I need to bring for next time? We went through the list a couple times and I just got more and more confused. He spent so much time talking about how to save money without explaining why we’d want horseshoe nails vs. tacks or why he thought my soldering iron wouldn’t work (it will, I’ve got a 70W Hakko, but my old 40W Weller wouldn’t work, the internet is wonderful). He’d go on tangents (he hates the fad for blown glass pumpkins though it is his bread and butter), he forgot all our names (I’m known as Ellen which is kind of odd but I’m ok with it), he changed his story on every thing: this glass is great (tries demonstrate how to cut), no, it sucks, no, it is the cutter, no, it is the glass, no, it is the phase of the moon.

Sigh. I doodled.

I find doodling to be extremely soothing. You can see at the top, I was thinking about doing a landscape. I’d seen and admired a stained glass landscape. I liked the way the glass was the star of the landscape so I hoped I could do something similar for myself. I doodled different options. The teacher commented on my doodling but didn’t take me up when I offered to repeat what he’d said. (Note: I’ve grown, up I once offered to repeat what a teacher said verbatim. It’s the doodling, it puts me in the zone and I remember stuff. )

As newbies, we were supposed to choose out of a book. I didn’t realize that until after I’d doodled a bit. And there were two in the book I liked ok. But then we started talking about jellyfish. (I mentioned there were tangents, right? Jellyfish!) So I sketched up something cute (the ink one, not the pencilled escape-from-pacman one) and asked if that could be made to work. He said yes.
In fact, the only thing we have to bring to class (tonight) is our plan. Well, and glass cutters. Maybe glass cutters. It was unclear if someone else would bring them.
Actually, Kristin was part of the bring-glass-cutters-or-not dilemma. She does a lot of glass work, a lot of glass cutting. (And I love her stuff; the time she let me play in her lab was really awesome.) So she’s got extra tools, many of which she doesn’t like for one reason or another. She’s also got a ton of glass.
On Friday, I went over to Kristin’s place to see the glass. I was hoping to decide if I was going landscape or jellyfish. Instead, I went into overload. I mean, glass is pretty. Shiny. And light. Transluuuuuuscent. Really, really pretty. And it comes in more colors than I could describe. Kristin let me dig through her scrap pile… really, scraps piles since she sorts the scrap by color; she’s very organized. After much agonizing, I decided to go with my jellyfish as I fell in love with some glass that would make perfect tentacles. And as we all know, it is really about the tentacles with me.

Armed with glass, I spent Saturday morning making a proper design. Waves across the top in blues and greens, a jellyfish in the lower right with blue, white, purple swirly tentacles. The goal is to have fewer than twenty pieces of glass to cut out, a requirement/suggestion/thought from the teacher.

Kristin gave me some clear, iridescent, super textured glass. I was thinking about using it for the jelly body. But a purple or pink might be look better.

So I went off to Kiss My Glass where the owner had had a family emergency and the person working the counter didn’t know much about stained glass (she did lampwork beads which sounds fun). I was pretty glad I didn’t need anything particularly, just to look at the glass. And there was a lot of lovely glass to look at.

When I got home, I realized that I probably have more than twenty different kinds of glass. Which is a shame since I can’t use it all. And Kristin’s glass is special so I can’t just give it all back to her, using the wrong kind might shatter one of her fused glass pieces. Still, they are all so pretty. It was hard to leave them in the store where they might get dusty again.

You can see in that picture that I got some water+tentacles to go between the main jelly tentacles. And some differently textured cobalt blues. And some greens. The jelly cap is purple and translucent but you can’t tell on the table there, it looks really nice in the light. I don’t think I’ll be using the iridescent clear. And that isn’t all the glass I have. Here’s some that didn’t make it to the table:

So many tentacles, so little time.

Tonight, we are supposed to get our designs approved. Then we’ll learn how to cut glass using some clear glass and some standard shapes. I’m kind of excited. Once I can cut with confidence, I can cut it all out at home to see if my colors work well, to find the perfect tentacles in my sheets. (Yes, the third class is supposed to be about cutting the colored glass but getting ahead is ok, right?)

Finally, I cut my finger, moving the glass around for these pictures. Since bandaids was on the list and wasn’t marked off in someway… well, I’ve got mine already in my tool box.



Just saying hello

February 1, 2013


How are you? I hope things are going well. Still working on neat stuff? And the family, everybody happy and healthy?

I’m doing well. It has been a little crazy since the start of the new year but I’m starting to get a handle on everything.

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the house and getting quotes for even more work (eek, a new roof). I’m super happy with the garage remodel, it is like a real room now. I’ve been pining for a microscope for the workbench so I could solder better. I could never have dreamt of that for the old garage, it would have just been another place for the spiders to live. I’m trying to be sensible and wait until I’ve needed it three times before I buy one.

I did kind of need it yesterday with a new board I got from a client. Work has been doing ok… there is plenty of it but the grass seems a little greener over there. One work project got cancelled so I immediately shifted over to a new one. It is interesting in an academic way but not really my cup of tea. I’m hoping the first one comes back or some other shiny object captures my attention. You know, I don’t really mind having to look around for shiny objects. If you hear of someone needing an embedded software consultant, do think of me, especially if they want to use an 8 or 16 bit processor.

I’ve been involved with DesignWest, the big embedded systems conference. So far, being a track chair isn’t too onerous. And I’ve been slowly working on my proposed talks. The moderator and I spoke with a panelist on the Sensors in Health panel. Scheduling it was difficult so we ended up on the phone. I was concerned about it meshing but I think we talked for all of three minutes before I thought, “This is going to rock!” I’m looking forward to repeating the interviews with the other panelists.

Let’s see, what else? The garden is a bit of a mess. We’ve had a few too many frosts this year so I’ve got a lot of damaged plants. I’m not sure the cold times are over so I haven’t cut back to new growth. It looks messy but in a few weeks, I’ll fix it.

Dogs are good. Well, not really. But they are cute so they continue to get fed. We lost Dylan, the big cat, over the holidays. That was sad. Ani, the littler, fuzzier cat, has gotten much friendlier. She’s always been really sweet but now she’s almost a lap kitty.

Oh, and my husband is great. Very excited about his new car/toy/spaceship.  He had a cold but is over it, working a lot this week since he got roped into working for one of my clients.

Well, I just wanted to drop you a note to say I’m still alive. I do hope things are going well for you.