Friday, May 27, 2011

Because sometimes upgrades suck...

So, I have this Sony Vaio laptop that we bought prior to our trip to Washington D.C. a few years ago. It's been through a lot with us, being hauled through airports, in hotels, being accidently squished at the bottom of stuff we packed in the back of the car, bumped by kids and cats, hauled to libraries and cafes, soccer board meetings in questionable places, and so on. In other words, it's had its share of getting knocked around.

So, when it started getting inexplicably slow, after cleaning caches, registry, defragging, scanning it for viruses and malware, all to no effect, I figured it was aging, maybe needed a few upgrades, maybe I needed to get rid of some excess software, but mostly, it's getting old.

When it started freezing, sometimes shutting down completely, or refusing to load a page no matter how many times I clicked "refresh," I figured it was getting cranky, too. Or maybe it was possessed. Or maybe it had a virus/worm/trojan that our antiviral software couldn't handle. This wouldn't be a surprise because no one's antiviral programs can possibly handle everything that comes out of evil little hacker minds the moment it comes out, right?

I was getting ready to reprogram the damn thing with an axe... and then I read a friend's rant about Mozilla's Firefox 4, and when I read through the comments, suddenly realized what the problem was.

I had upgraded to Firefox 4, and while I liked some of the new features, mostly I just wondered why they had added all the new bells and whistles, because it didn't really seem to improve things much. It just added more stuff. It was nice and shiny, just kind of top-heavy and cumbersome. I got the earlier version mainly because I wanted to watch movies on Netflix on the laptop, and for some reason, Silverlight won't work with Safari for PC (works just fine for Safari for Mac, so???), and when the upgrade popped up, I had no problem with giving it a shot.

And that's when all the problems started, though it took a week to manifest, which is probably why I didn't make the connection. So... I went to Mozilla's website on the desktop to look and see if they had any fixes, and they suggested deleting add-ons. That would be great, if it didn't take forever to get the damn browser to even load. Fifteen minutes, I shit you not. Fifteen minutes!!! That's when I finally said, "Screw this!" and uninstalled the whole friggin' thing.

Amazing how fast my laptop was after I did that!!

I still ran the cache cleaners, rebooted, and defragged the hell out of it. Then I reloaded Firefox 3.6, and it's running beautifully with no problems whatsoever. It's like having a new laptop, I swear!!

If any of y'all are having the same problems and need to reload Firefox 3.6, you can get it HERE.

And thank you, Keira, for posting about it in the first place. You saved a laptop from an untimely death!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Me mind on fire, me soul on fire, feelin' hot, hot, hot..."

It was 100 F (37.7 C) at the school down the street from us today, and 101 F (38.3 C) at my son's school.

It's only May 25th!! Jays, this is going to be one scorcher of a summer! It's going to be another triple digit summer like it was two years ago, I just know it. Yay whoopie yay.

Yesterday, when I picked the Impossible Son up from school, he stated most emphatically, "Mom, I never... ever... want to come back to this school... ever... again."

And I thought, "Uh-oh, what happened now?" Because he'd been having bully problems, I'd emailed his teacher and while she didn't reply to me, he had told me things had improved.

Seems they hadn't really, he'd just been dealing with it... kinda. Mainly though, it was like a redux of what had happened to the Impertinent One in third grade. She had her best friend, whom she'd known since first grade, and suddenly, this best friend started withdrawing from her and hanging out with two other girls, one of whom started picking on Miss Impertinent. Then she started isolating Miss Impertinent, who had no idea how to deal with this, as no one had ever done this to her before. And the next thing the Impertinent One knew, her best friend turned against her, claiming that Miss Bully had told her all the bad things Miss Impertinent had been saying about her. And Miss Impertinent said, "Huh??? What bad things? What???" And it just got worse from there, to the point where I had to walk the Impertinent One to her classroom door, and pick her up at the door after school. I tried talking to the teacher, got nowhere because she was Mrs. LaLa FooFooBrain and tried to tell me that all her students got along and were such beautiful children. I tried talking to the counselor, Mrs. Fluff Bunny, who told me she didn't want to traumatize the "bright, sensitive child" who was bullying Miss Impertinent by labeling her as a bully, and the Husbandly One and I had to threaten legal action to get them to even sit down and fucking talk to us.

And we ended up transferring Miss Impertinent to a different school, because any administration who thinks labeling a fucking bully as a BULLY would be traumatizing to the BULLY is not one I want have looking out for my kid!!

Miss Impertinent still sees the girl who was her best friend, and is tentatively friends with her again, but... she doesn't trust her any farther than she could spit into a hurricane. Meaning not at all.

Okay, so... we have the Impossible Son. There's this boy who has been his best friend at school for two years. There's another boy who doesn't like him. And it's really, really weird how history is repeating itself. In fact, this other boy pulled the kind of bullying you see girls doing. He isolated Mr. Impossible from his best friend, and turned the best friend against him. And then got a third boy into the mix, who thought it was all just a joke. Then the bully from the fall, the one who had called Mr. Impossible gay and all that crap, started it up again, but instead of using the actual word "GAY," started singing the "A and B, sitting in a tree," song, using Mr. Impossible's name along with another boy's. And was under the impression again that because his aunt is a teacher at the school, he can get away with anything.

And after the Impossible Son related this to me, he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I don't matter at all to Best Friend. It's like he doesn't care about how the things he's saying is making me feel."

"Then he's not your friend," I said sadly. "Because real friends don't do that to each other. Real friends don't join in and help bullies hurt you. Real friends stick with you and stand up for you. Or they run and get help. Real friends have your back and know you have theirs."

"I guess he's not my friend, then," he said and started quietly crying.

I hate it when my kids cry. It makes me want to go crush something, or start smashing something. You know, "Hulk go SMASH!!" but Jo style.

Then he said, "Mom, transfer me to another school... PLEASE? And let me miss the last three days of school! I don't want to go back, I really don't! I won't do it, I won't!!" and on and on, until I realized saying, "You can't run away from it, love," and "We will deal with this, I promise" just wasn't working, and I finally said, "Look, don't worry about it right now. We'll talk about it tonight, okay? Just take a few deep breaths, calm down, and let me worry about it, okay?"

And worry I did. After we got home, I sat down and fired off a tactical nuclear missile very much to the point email to his teacher, basically telling her what the problem was, who was causing it, the peripherals involved, and then informing her that we would be transferring the Impossible Son to another elementary school within the district next year.

It's funny, but I think it was the last sentence that got their attention, because this afternoon, after I'd been helping the Tall Blonde get soccer league pamphlets separated for the different schools in the district, my phone rang and it was the Counselor from Mr. Impossible's school. Mrs. Teacher had already answered my email, apologizing for not noticing that it was happening in her own classroom (evidently she had talked to my son before writing me) and told me she had disciplined the Lead Bully for something similar yesterday, but to another child. And then that she had been advocating for an elementary discipline management center all year, because, and I quote, "...we, as classroom teachers, do not have enough recourse for these such incidences..."

And she's right. They don't. They can send them to the counselor, who is now required to make them watch videos, and to talk to them. Just... talk.

HOWEVER... the counselor at my son's school is... just awesome. When she called, she told me about her discussion with the Impossible One, and then that she had called in the three bullies, plus Mr. K-I-S-S-I-N-G, and got their side, then pretty much stomped a hole in them read them the riot act. She quickly figured out who was the lead instigator, and who was just following along because they basically have no wills of their own.

*rolls eyes*

She made them apologize, then separated out the Bully Boss. and apparently decided that the videos and Firm Talking To™ weren't going to work. So, she decided to go back to a technique that had worked with the bully the Impossible One had dealt with back in second grade. The Bully Boss is going to be supervised over the next two days. He'll have to report to her every hour for ten minutes of face time and to find out what he's been up to. And she'll be in contact with his teacher, just to be sure she's getting the truth.

And when school starts next year, he'll have to report to her before he even goes to his new classroom, where she'll start the process again, until it sinks in that he's going to be watched. Constantly.

It worked before, but that was in second grade. I think 7 year olds are a little bit easier to intimidate than an 11 year old, but that's just me.

When I got to the school to pick Mr. Impossible up and drop off the soccer pamphlets, the principal made it a point to come talk to me, and said that all three boys, plus Mr. I'm-Immune-Because-My-Aunt-Teaches-Here, would be in her office first thing in the morning, where she would be talking to them about her expectations.

Yeah. You do that.


I'm taking this all with a grain of salt. See, I know why my earlier email was ignored, but yesterday's wasn't. I threatened to move my son to a different school. To move Mr. Impossible to a different school, I have to write a letter to the district to request it and list my reasons why. And, of course, the biggest reason would be because my son is being bullied and despite repeated demands requests for it to be dealt with, it was continuing to happen.

It would make them look bad (this is the "flagship" school of the district), and it would also show that the counselor had been cut out of the loop. It's always been my policy to try dealing with the teacher first, before going to the counselor and the principal. Basically, I give 'em three shots across the bow and if they don't respond, thenI go in for the kill to the principal and the counselor. This time, the counselor didn't know anything about it until this morning.


This was Mrs. Teacher's second shot. I mean, she dealt with it fairly quickly last semester, so I'd figured she'd deal with it quickly this semester, too.

Oh well. At least he'll have two hassle-free days before school is over for the year!

I'm just... so fucking done with this district. Seriously. I am.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Because, you know, it is...

Remember to keep your hands and feet inside until the ride comes to a complete stop! Enjoy your time at Themepark Earth!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Zombie Toe, The Epic Adventures Continue...

I went to see the doctor today. And yeah, I was expecting the, "Wow, it's just you today??"

So, you know, I go in, sit down in the exam room, and the nurse says, "Okay, so why are we seeing you?"

I didn't answer, I just held up Zombie Toe. I was wearing flip-flops, because I can't stand any pressure on Zombie Toe at the moment. The nurse went green and said, "OHmigod..." and then the obvious question, "does it hurt?"


"Yes," I said with great patience, because what I really wanted to say was, "There is a great, gaping hole in my toe where my toenail used to be, oozing blood and other stuff I don't want to know what it is... what do you think???" But I didn't. I mean, she was an innocent bystander in this, no need to bite her head off.


So... she takes my vitals while avoiding looking at my foot, and then goes to get the PA, who takes a look at it and swallows hard before putting on gloves to examine it, then she flees and gets Dr. W., who comes in, makes a face and says, "What did you do to your toe, Jo??"

Did I mention I like Dr. W. a lot?

"I toe-punched a soccer ball," I said glumly.

"What did you do that for?" she asked, putting on gloves. Then she took away my ability to speak by squeezing, poking, and prodding Zombie Toe, which made Jo a very unhappy and very grumpy girl. I said, "Ow!" a few times, and mostly kept my mouth very tightly shut and thought of more pleasant things, like a bomb dropping on the medical clinic. Or a grand piano. Tiny planet, maybe.

She looked back at me and frowned and said, "You know, Jo, this is one of those cases where having a high pain threshold is a distinct disadvantage. Because one, this is pretty infected, and two, you did some pretty serious damage here. Your toenail might not grow back."

Yes, Zombie Toe is swollen and itchy, and I'm on doxycycline, because I'm allergic to a lot of antibiotics, and while they considered levaquin, I begged off because levaquin knocks me off my feet and turns me into a puddle of Helpless Mom. The kids have a week and a half of school left, and I can't be off my feet before that. So... doxycycline it was.

I go back Friday to see if there's any improvement in the swelling and pain.

In the meantime, I can look forward to wearing more flip-flops because I can't put pressure on the toe, so... no sneakers. And I'll be soaking my foot twice a day, too. This will be FUN!!

OH, and, they wrapped my toe up to protect it, turning it from Zombie Toe.... to Mummy Toe!

Sandals, I must look for sandals now. *sigh*

This is just... so full of suck.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Because sometimes, they have awesome teachers...

Dear Mr. Knickerbocker,

I utterly adore you. You are undeniably the best math teacher the Impertinent Daughter has had so far since she's been in school, and if I could, I would clone you and seed you around this district to boost their abysmal math scores. This is the first year I haven't had to tutor her, and it's been totally awesome to see her enthusiasm for math come back.

I only feel bad that you had to spend so much of your time tutoring your classes in algebra, instead of teaching geometry, which is what you're actually supposed to be teaching, since the TAKS for freshman year has more algebra on it than anything else. And I thoroughly enjoyed your pithy remarks about the algebra teachers at the junior high "writing our own textbook as we go along," which made your job so much harder this year.

You are totally made of awesome. Just thought you ought to know.

with great enthusiasm,


I figured it was time I actually complimented one of my kids' teachers, rather than complain like I usually do!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Zombie Toe is zombie...

Remember THIS?

Well... it's about to happen. My toenail is about to fall off. And all I can say is... "EWWWWWWWWW!!!!"

All I have to do to send my husband and children (but mostly my husband) fleeing from the room is offer to show them how I can flip my toenail up like the teeny tiny hood of a teeny tiny car... In fact, at one point, the Impertinent One was actually trying to decide which terrified her more... spiders? Or a glimpse of Zombie Toe? The spiders won and she fled. Okay, well, Zombie Toe was in there, too, but see, she was hiding from Zombie Toe, and closed the bathroom door, only to discover spiders (more likely a single spider) behind the door, and her fear of spiders won over the grossness of Zombie Toe. Either way, she fled squealing.

I don't blame her. Zombie Toe is nasty!

Yes, I shall be calling the doctor tomorrow to have Zombie Toe looked at. The Husbandly One keeps muttering about Zombie Toe detaching itself and eating everyone's brains during the night. I think THO's been watching too many horror movies.

No, I won't be inflicting you with pictures of Zombie Toe. Hell, I can barely stand to look at it, why would I make y'all look at it? It doesn't hurt, it's just... disgusting!

And the next person who sings, "I walked with a zombie," around here is going to get clocked with Zombie Toe. Believe me, if Zombie Toe wasn't zombie, I would be doing the International Dance of Horror!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Because your day wasn't surreal enough, was it?

I don't know why everyone thinks this is so unusual. I mean, Max talked like this all the time!!

Gosh, I miss that dog!

Keeping it surreal, folks!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A gamer AND a manga artist...

The Impertinent Daughter's self portraits crack me up. She drew this one for her Deviant Art account, where she is known as the Angry Zangoose, so... she, of course, drew herself as... a human zangoose!

She got "Super Mario Smash Brothers" for her birthday, and she's been burning up the Wii with it ever since. Possibly, I'll sneak into it over the next few weeks before school is out so I can become somewhat competent at it before I'm forced to humiliate myself by trying to play it with the kids over the summer.

And yes, I'm still trying to get past the Leech Grave, but that's only because the Impossible Son keeps taking my Kingdom Hearts game and playing it, thus depriving me of valuable skill developing time. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Because Geeky is the New Cool...

Happy 15th Birthday to the Impertinent Daughter.

You are now old enough to start learning how to drive and to find whole new ways to give your mother heart failure. In another year, you'll be old enough to date, and I'm trying very, very hard not to think about that right now, and let's just not mention that to your father, dear, or he'll likely have a meltdown. I mean, he's still trying to adjust to you being old enough to have a moon cycle, know what I mean?

May I say that I am continually amazed by you? I'm amazed by the amount of destruction you leave in your wake in whatever room you're in, I'm amazed by the leaps and bounds you make in your art work, I'm stunned by the maturity you show on occasion, and flabbergasted when I find you happily playing with the Tall Blonde's 3 year old son like the two of you are the best pals ever. I love it that you get my humor, and you tolerate your papa's really awful puns, and I love your sly, subtle humor and the truly devious way your mind works. Please to not be using your evil Jedi mind tricks against your mother, though, since I'm the one who taught them to you, by the way.

And may I apologize for the geekdom I have utterly doomed you to, for I did not know that I was having you on Star Wars Day. Didn't do it on purpose, I promise, but you know, the fact that my water broke while we were watching "The X Files" should have been a big, huge red flag.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, O Impertinent One!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fan Art and Such...

One of the fun things about having my own home-grown manga artist around is the fact that from time to time, I get my very own fan art.

The Impertinent Daughter has been drawing and sketching since she was big enough to hold a crayon in her chubby little fist, and many were the hours that we spent lying on the floor, doodling and drawing on big 18 inch by 24 inch pads of newsprint. We drew dogs, cats, horses, people... and she soaked up technique like a little sponge. She kept at it, and soon was drawing characters from the stories we read to her, and then was drawing characters from her own stories that she made up to tell us.

Then she discovered comics.

I've got reams of comic strips she's drawn over the years. Some make no sense whatsoever, and others are wickedly funny.

Then she discovered anime and manga.

So now, I've got Impertinent Manga all over my desk and stuffed into three fat file folders (looks like I'll have to buy a couple more to hold it all), and sometimes, I feel like I'm going to end up swathed in a veritable paper cocoon of manga art. To make up for it, she sometimes asks me what I'd like her to draw, and sometimes, I have no idea, but other times, out of desperation, I'll suggest something, and she'll draw it.

And that's why I have Spock, from Star Trek in a carp suit...

And a very grumpy Dr. Rodney McKay from Stargate Atlantis...

Somewhere, probably stuffed in one of those file folders, is a drawing she did of her biology teacher this year, a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory on CBS. And when I find it, I'll scan it up and post it.

I love knowing that I'm raising the next generation of geeks! It's... totally awesome!!