Random Thursday: technology, tachyons, and text files


funny pictures - I tried being reasonable.

Because of the narrow and elusive nature of  Windows of Repairperson Opportunity (WRO), my husband and MIL and I have designed a complicated choreography of overlapping schedules to ensure that someone is home to answer the door between eight a.m. and noon tomorrow morning and that my MIL will not have to answer any questions that the repairperson might ask beyond confirmation of our address.

I cancelled an early appointment, just to make sure.

Said repairperson had better show.  With the right connector.  And the knowledge to replace it.

Or else.




Getting my nerd on:

The bartender says, “We don’t serve faster that light particles in here.”

A tachyon walks into a bar.

Apparently, during the course of an ongoing (since 2006) experiment called OPERA, in which a stream of muon neutrinos are beamed from the CERN Super Proton Synchrotron in Geneva to a lab in Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain  in 2.4 milliseconds for a very important reason I wouldn’t be able to understand if you paid me, the OPERA physicists have discovered that a small percentage of the 10-to-the18th-power neutrinos they’ve sent over the years have arrived about 60 nanoseconds sooner than they should have.

They don’t know why this is happening.  Nothing seems to account for it, not equipment calibration or human error or mistaken identity.  But it’s enough for the word tachyon to have been rumored to have been mentioned in a whisper. Maybe.

In physics, this is apparently the same thing as shouting on a viral YouTube video, because one of the more questionable pundits to whom our newspaper gives editorial space wrote a quarter page worth of disapproval of the possibility a few days ago.

But I can’t blame people for running with the idea and it’s easy to join in the excitement—obviously.

According to someone who actually knows what he’s talking about, the only papers that have been published on tachyons are about how impossible they are.  And if tachyons are proved to exist, physics as we know it* will implode (or explode), because Einstein—on whose work modern physics rests—said that nothing can travel faster than light.  Not never, not nohow.  The mass of an object approaching the speed of light will reach a state where it cannot be moved by the available energy and time stops and even science fiction writers start to look around for a Deus Ex Machina to get their starfleets off the ground.**

Except maybe, you know, not.

This has some physicists worried.***  And when people who are in charge of understanding how the universe is supposed to work get worried, that’s sort of fundamentally worrisome, isn’t it?

Science is supposed to explain things so we know where we stand.  But if the whole of our current knowledge of the universe is  like a flashlight, illuminating only the smallest portion of what’s out there—what happens when the batteries won’t work anymore?  I mean, the universe will still operate the way it always has . . . right?  Isn’t there some kind of clause that an observed object will be changed simply by being observed?  So what if it’s observed . . .  differently?

But I’m not worried about the possible revocation of the laws of physics for three reasons:

1)  I’ve been reassured that the law of gravity will operate as usual, regardless of the outcome.

2)  Future seasons of The Big Bang Theory are going to rock.

3)  Three words:  Tachyon.  Engines.  Dude.

It’s going to be difficult to get independent verification of whatever these speedy neutrinos mean, since not everyone has the equipment to hurtle matter through a mountain without making something of a mess.^^

But it should be a wild ride.


Today, one of my favorite authors, Jeff Somers, called me both old and stupid—indirectly—and made me like it:

Where do you store all your old stuff?


* Or don’t know it, in my case, but that’s never stopped me before.

**I might be paraphrasing that last bit.

*** Although one would think that starting over from scratch would mean serious job security.  Unless there are discredited tachyon scientists just waiting to leap out and say, “Ah HA!!  Who gets the office with the window and the retractable whiteboards, now, sonnyThey thought me mad!  BWAHahahahahahahahaha!”

^ Show of hands—who just thought, potato cannon ?  Be honest.


We are experiencing technical difficulties and severe webdrawl symptoms–please stand by and send chocolate

Or, rather, a small connector outside our house has expired and needs to be replaced.

It was more of a shock that it probably should have been, to come home last night and be told that there would be no way to go online  until Friday.


I actually think my hands began to shake and I know I checked more than once* to make sure that little connector wouldn’t fire up just one more time, for mama.  And to see if there were any free WiFi signals floating about the neighborhood.  But Panera Bread and the library are out of reach, and all my neighbors are far too security-minded.  Drat them.

Once I settled down, I tried to see this as a sort of an involuntary Freedom program—and I did manage about 800 words before bedtime.  So there’s that.

Still sucks though.  And I can feel the webdrawl spiders making my thumbs twitch . . .

The company says they’ll get to us earlier if they can.  Meanwhile, I’ll be doing my best to keep up on my work breaks, but please forgive my sporadic posts and comments.


*With the desperation of a starving lab rat hitting a feeder bar.

Random Thursday: three tees, teed off, and toothsome news

Earlier this week, Lyra (of Lyrical Meanderings, in case there’s anyone here who doesn’t already follow her there) posted a great essay that had me thinking about tee shirts, once I was done thinking about how badass unicorns really were. 

 That’s not all I took from the essay, in case you were wondering, but once I had absorbed Lyra’s always thoughtful insights, commented, and followed the link to the badass unicorn tee, my instincts led me further down the retail path, as they are wont to do.

 I also realized that most of my tee shirts, which live lives of their own in the depths of my top bureau drawer like blind squat lobsters in the Mariana Trench,* predate my marriage.  This was a bit of a shock.  In high school and college, tee shirts happen—they’re the natural by-product of academia, or even walking across campus.  Hell, marching band along nets you three or four per semester, without including the ones that violate Bill Watterson’s copyrights.

 But after graduation, you apparently have to make an effort, especially if you want tees that fit, both physically and personal-statement-wise.**

 So I did, over at TopatoCo:




There were others, so, so many others, but with three you get free shipping, so I didn’t push it.


 Janie would like me to post that after a year-long dry spell, she has two loose teeth.

 “Anything else?”

“Nope.  That’s it.”


Whiny Greedy Consumer Rant o’ the Week

I ordered a new netbook from Newegg this last weekend in a fit of pique because Best Buy ticked me off —or rather, their idea of customer service did. 

Huge sales on, tons of people, and all the clerks were clumped together in an aisle talking about how busy they were,  which was odd because they were completely ignoring the customers.   So, I walked up and said, “Could someone help me find the netbooks, please?”

It was like I’d flipped a switch.  Everyone glanced at me and faded away in different directions, but no one answered my question. 

So I left.  And I’m not going back.  And I mean it  this time.

Newegg offered me three-day delivery and six months of deferred payments, which is good, ‘cause I’m saving most of my ready resources for next week—parking in St. Louis is extortion and wireless service in the hotel is worse.**

But this netbook is a necessary expense because I wanted something I can carry around with me so I don’t have to worry about theft and I don’t want to schlep my laptop case everywhere and yes I could simply use paper and a pen but this is the 21st Century, darn it, and I wanted one.

So I’ve spent the past few days tracking my order and watching it circle New Jersey before heading west.  It arrived in town around 5:45 am this morning, and at 4:15pm this afternoon, the status finally said, “Delivered to a man.” 

I called my husband to make sure he was the man in question before doing the New Stuff Happy Dance. 

He was, and all is good.


And finally, my First Reader and dear friend is marrying her best friend and the love of her life this weekend. 

She shared one of the songs that they’ll be playing—knowing Lisa, the rest of the music will be just as incredible:

Please drop in at her place and wish her a Happy Wedding Week! 



*Or like creased sardines, except I don’t think sardines, ironed or otherwise, live in the Mariana Trench.  Any ichthyologists in the house?

**I’m no longer a medium nor someone who picks up the beat and flutes it all about.  I’m not heartbroken about either.

**If any Bouchercon attendees happen to land on this post,  I will gladly split or even divide the daily wireless charge, if possible.  E-mail me.

Happy International SysAdmin Day!

They are all too often the unsung, where-the-hell-have-you-been heroes of the digital age.

They are the reason I can publish a post on this blog and that you can read it and comment on it (ahem).  They are the reason you can send an e-mail to someone, or receive it.  Or play WOW.  Or google.

They’re that good.

They are the reason you can access what you need when you need it—and\or the reason you can miraculously access it this morning when everything went blue-screen belly-up yesterday because of something you don’t even know you did.

Retrievers of files, repairpersons of abused workstations, destroyers of malware, and the one group of people (besides administrative assistants) with whom it behooves you to be on friendly terms. 

Most of them are way cooler than you are anyway.

These are the people who can reset passwords, figure out why your sharepoint documents just disappeared, and fit you out with a keyboard that doesn’t eject the Alt key when you hit the spacebar (true story). 

They may even ‘forget’ to tell Admin that you’re the one sucking all the bandwidth watching Miley Cyrus’s latest pole dance on YouTube while you’re supposed to be doing spreadsheets.  You know who you are.

Remember:  The SysAdmin pluggeth and the SysAdmin can unpluggeth.

So go hug your IT people today.  If you prefer to hug metaphorically, bring them doughnuts and their caffeine source of choice.  A bottle of Excedrin may also be appreciated.  So is more budget and a lot more respect . . . but Excedrin helps.

Or just don’t  open any attachments today.  Or access anything.  Or break anything .  No ID-10-T errors today, please.  Go completely analog if you have to.  This is their day.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Network trenches!  We really, truly appreciate everything you do. 

And all the things you could do . . . but don’t.

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Mommies

I had it all planned out, which is no doubt where it all went wrong.

My husband has agreed to watch the kids on the Saturday mornings that I don’t work so I can get out of the house and have some Me Time.  Guilt-free Me Time, too, because the kids have swim class anyway and I meet them for lunch and we all do family stuff afterward.

I was looking forward to the time this week, because I had a section of Fun Project due and my First Reader gave me a chapter of her fabulous new WIP to beta. I’d sleep in until 6:30am and be at the Panera down the street by 7.

Friday night, Sunny threw up at the dinner table.  Lots.  She spiked a fever, too, so it was decided that she probably shouldn’t have swimming class.  My husband offered to give me my Me Time after Janie and he got back from her friend’s birthday party that afternoon.  And would i pick up a pizza for dinner on my way back?


So I read to Sunny and played Barbies—which is always a weird reenactment of our family dynamic, as seen through a three-and-a-half-year old’s eyes—and let her watch just a leetle more tv than I normally would have, in the futile hopes that she’d drop off.

My husband and Janie came home at 3, and I went roaring off with Netbook and notes.  I bought a large green tea, doctored it, plugged in my Netbook and fired it up.

Nothing.  I rebooted  Nothing.  I offered a few prayers, some cursing, and counted to ten before jabbing the button again.


I was philosophical about it— the Netbook had been limping along and bringing up fatal errors and blue screens of death for about a month while I applied cold compresses and, more and more frequently, the defibrillator, so while I was  angry and betrayed, I remained fairly calm . . .  until I realized that while I’d done a fair amount of work Friday,  I hadn’t done my daily back up that night.

All I can say in my defense is that spending your evening comforting a toddler who is yarking up things you didn’t remember feeding her will rearrange your priorities.

I left Panera and hied me to the computer shop.   The repairperson managed to reanimate the corpse  long enough to get some of my files out, including the one I really wanted.  He said it would cost more to repair my little buddy than I’d paid for it in the first place and did I know they had this great payment plan deal on laptops?

While I was filing out the financing paperwork, hoping for one hour of writing time with pen and paper, my husband called.  “Forget the pizza,” he said.  “I have Sunny’s virus.  Could you bring soup and Pepto Bismol instead?”

Sure.   I could catch up on my writing time Sunday afternoon, when Janie had another birthday party to attend and my husband would, I hoped, be feeling well enough to watch Sunny, who’d dropped into a three hour nap five minutes after I’d left—life of the party, that’s me—and was feeling much better.

But the virus really took hold of my husband, who spent most of the day shivering in bed when he wasn’t in the bathroom.

Long story short, the first thing I did on my new computer was send apologies to First Reader and the people waiting for Fun Project  so I could start working again tonight now that everyone else is asleep . . .

But I don’t feel so good right now.

I think bedrest is the better part of valor.  I’ll be sleeping on the couch, just in case my nausea is sympathetic, with the metal trashcan on hand, in case it isn’t.

 Good.  Night.