Friday, July 31, 2009


Against all odds, Sara informs me that she is in receipt of the sheep. Awaiting further developments.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

the continuing saga of Larry the Lamb

In my continuing quest to procure a Larry the Lamb toy, I enlisted the help of Sara, my Swiss friend from grad school. First I went to the website where Larry is sold and tried to purchase him. Sara will be in Grasmere this coming week, and she agreed to let me ship the sheep to her hotel, after which she would mail him to me, for considerably less than £35. So I put the sheep in my virtual shopping basket, and gave Sara's name and the address of her hotel as the shipping information. So far so good.

Then I tried to put in my billing information. This did not go well. "Country" and "county" were both required, but the drop-down list of countries only included countries they ship to, and needless to say my U.S. county wasn't on their list either. However, they offered the option of paying via PayPal "without sharing your financial information." Great, I'll take that option, please. Unfortunately they still wanted my billing address and my phone number. I gave up and just checked the box to make the billing information the same as the shipping information. Incidentally, I did give them a phone number, but it's a U.S. cell phone number. I didn't give them a country code (because I don't know it) so good luck trying to contact me that way. I'm puzzled as to why their web page even accepted a phone number with a different number of digits than a U.K. number, since the shipping address is in England.

Next they sent me to PayPal's website to enter my username and password. I actually ended up using Glen's account, because I usually keep mine empty, and it would take at least three days to transfer money from my bank account to my PayPal account. Add that to the 3-4 days estimated shipping time, starting from Monday, and I was worried that Sara would leave before the sheep could get to Cumbria. Anyway, I put in Glen's username and password, and PayPal showed a shipping address ... which is our home address. It was entirely unclear whether PayPal thought that anything purchased through them needed to be shipped to that address, nor was it clear what exactly PayPal would need a shipping address for in the first place. I puzzled over this for a minute, then shrugged and clicked.

Another annoying aspect of the website functionality at the place that sells the sheep: it goes forward in the order process, but not backward. It helpfully walks you through four steps to place an order: 1) put items in your shopping cart; 2) log in/register; 3) enter shipping and billing information; 4) confirm. When I got to part four, I decided I wanted to change a line in the shipping information. There didn't seem to be any way to do that. There was the information for me to review, and there was a button at the bottom of the page that said "confirm," but there was no button that would let me go back to step three. Eventually I ended up clicking the "back" button on my browser so I could back up to the previous page. It's not a lot more work to do it that way, but how badly designed is your web page if users can only go forward but not back using the buttons you've provided? And what is the point of reviewing the information if you can't change it? Anyway, eventually I completed the order, in spite of their best efforts to prevent me from doing so.

Moments later an email appeared in my in box. "Thanks for your order, Sara!" it said. It showed the correct shipping address in Cumbria, so at this point all I can do is hope that they're competent enough to ship it correctly. After using their website, I'm not particularly sanguine about that.

Friday, July 24, 2009

whither the blog?

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you will have noticed that I graduated with my M.A. in April. You will also have noticed - even if you haven't been following this blog for any length of time - that the blog's title is "Blogging the M.A." So what do I do with a blog called "Blogging the M.A." when I've finished getting the M.A.? I'm loathe to just call it quits and start a new blog with a different title at a different URL. Yet there will be very little to be said about my M.A. in the future, other than "Yes, I still have it."

I do plan on starting a PhD program in about five years' time, when Daisy is old enough to start kindergarten. Since I see the current phase of my life not so much as the end of school, but more of a prolonged pause between programs, I guess I'm now blogging the hiatus ... hence the new title. Sorry about the ugly graphic; I'm still trying to figure out how to make my image work with their template.

The content here will be about my professional development, if I ever get around to doing any, and whatever else I'm doing that doesn't involve my children. I've started a new blog that primarily documents the kids' lives. It involves a lot of cute pictures and the occasional video of Daisy doing something entirely expected. It is utterly mundane, and will be of no interest to you unless you find my children fascinating. I use the kids' real names there, and post pictures of them, so I prefer not to post links to it anywhere. It also doesn't appear in the blogger lists, and it doesn't get crawled or indexed. Essentially, it's a blog that cannot be found except by those who already know where it is. If you'd like to be one of those who know where it is, email me and I'll send you a link. I was originally going to make it invitation-only, but that would mean you couldn't add it to an RSS feed, so I've tried to make it invisible instead.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

miracle on 6.4th street

See this?

This is Daisy, sleeping. Note that I am not holding her.

Since she can now roll from back to front by herself, I put her down on her stomach instead of her back. And guess what? She stayed there for one hour and forty minutes. Sleeping. It may have taken me two hours to get her to go to sleep, and she may not do it again tomorrow, but for one hour and forty minutes, today was a Very Good Day.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

more no sleeping

Daisy is now a week shy of four months old, and there is still no napping unless someone holds her. I am getting a little frustrated, by which I mean I'm about ready to throw myself in front of a train.

Friday, July 17, 2009

you're killing me, CNN

There's an article on today about "the only 12 people to have ever stepped foot on the moon."

The correct expression is to SET foot, not to STEP foot. Fixed expressions don't always make sense, but this one actually does: step is an intransitive verb, while set is a transitive verb. Therefore, you cannot "step" your foot; you must SET your foot on whatever it is that you are stepping on, whether the moon or some other, more mundane object.

Thanks a lot, CNN, for giving a faint air of legitimacy to this common mistake.

Yes, I realize there's a certain irony in putting a lolcat in a post where I'm complaining about someone else's grammar. The difference here is that I'm doing it on purpose, and they're not.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

everyone wave!

The International Space Station is visible over the U.S. this month. We let the kids stay up a little late tonight, and we all went out and looked at it together. It was visible for about five minutes, and was bright enough and fast enough to be easily discernible.

Peach wanted to know if she could go in a spaceship too. She asks this a lot. She also wants to go to the moon. I kind of don't know what to tell her. Realistically, the odds are not very good, but then again, they're not zero. And I don't want to discourage her from trying to do things she really wants to do, even if they're difficult. So I tell her, "Maybe, if you major in Astronomy." Good luck, Peach. I'd love for you to be the first woman on the moon.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

thanks, but no

I've seen my share of teeny sauce packets from fast food places, and they usually have nothing more personal printed on them than "high fructose corn syrup." However, the ones we got from Taco Bell tonight were a little ... spicier.

Apparently Taco Bell has been printing brief messages on their sauce packets for the past ten years or so. I had no idea.