Supercalibleeping passwords . . .



After many years of faithful service, my old printer developed a terminal case of the Fading Stutters* and expired just when most of Jane’s final school assignments were due, because that’s how we, and by extension our possessions or indeed any item or creature we look at casually in passing, roll.

On Friday, I went shopping for a replacement.  I’d done some research and had decided it was time to splurge on an all-in-one.  Faxing isn’t something I’m likely to do at home—seeing as we don’t have a land line, anyway—but scanning and copying have somehow become integral to my life as a parent and blogslave.

I like Epson,** and there were several models of all-in-ones available at the local Electronics Store Which Shall Not Be Named.*** I walked around comparing ink and features and dimensions and general sexiness—it would, after all, be living in my bedroom office.  After clocking in a mile between aisles, I finally determined that the only real differences between the current top of the line home model and the previously current top of the line was a spiffy  keypad for the fax function I’d never use,  extra-large ink cartridges that hold a third more ink while being twice as expensive, a smaller paper tray for reasons I didn’t understand,^ and two hundred dollars.

I chose accordingly.

Turns out that most all-in-one printers are wireless now, which seemed like a good deal at the time, since we were forever plugging and unplugging various devices into Old Printer, which may or may not have factored into its demise, but was darned annoying at best.  It would be convenient to be able to print from wherever in the house we happened to be.

So I brought home a big box o’ technology, moved Old Printer from the top of my stubby, two-drawer filing cabinet to the floor, unpacked New Printer, removed fourteen thousand pieces of blue tape, packing strips, and static film pieces, plugged it in, and launched the installation Wizard.

The Wizard suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable, but not to sweat it—I could just enter everything on the printer’s touchscreen.  As long as I had my WiFi password.

I thought about this, then sent a text to Watson: “What’s the WiFi password again?”

She replied.  “S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4 which is Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized.^^  Unless it’s been changed.”

Right. Okay.

The Wizard prompted me to enter the login—which is slightly shorter—and password.  It also reminded me that everything was case-sensitive.

I should mention here that the touchscreen didn’t offer me a keyboard. It offered me a flat version of a spiffy numerical fax keypad. So, as I tapped a specific button, the associated letters appeared on the screen first as capitals, then lowercase, and then the actual number would appear.

This means to enter a capital S, I need to hit the 7 button four times (PQRS).  To enter a lowercase s, I have to hit the 7 button eight times (PQRSpqrs).  And to enter an actual number 7, I would have to hit that blessed button nine times (PQRSpqrs7).

I should also mention that the keypad issues a happy BLEEP with every single tap.

There was a LOT of happy bleepin’ bleeping going on by the time I finished.

But I did, eventually, finish and do hit Done.

It processed, then beeped a little less happily, flashed me a message, and issued a report sheet stated the same thing.


I tried again, and was beeped, flashed, and handed another report.



Once more, with triple checks of each precious pixel representation of a letter or digit and gritted teeth.



I texted my husband.  “Did you change the WiFi password?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied. “It should still be S1u2p3e4r5c6a7l8i9F0r1a2g3i4l5i6s7t8i9c0e1x2p3i4a5l6i7D8o9c0i1o2u3s4. That’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious with numbers between the letters and the S, F, and D capitalized, if it helps.”

I tried again, with quadruple checks and crossed fingers and the burning of sage.



It was some comfort that the speed of the printing was as impressive as advertised, though I was sure it would be even MORE impressive if it would graciously allow me to print something other than an error report.

The Wizard, at this point, had become bored with my incompetence and was taking a nap. I woke it up and made it take me through the whole thing again.

The Wizard patiently suggested that it would be easier to add the printer to my home network if I had a USB printer cable.

I texted my husband. “Do we have a USB printer cable?”

“No idea,” he replied.

So I went to the location of my secret cable stash—the garage—and began unsnarling them. I had cables for cameras and eReaders and MP3 players and nuclear countdowns and found evidence suggested they were starting to sprout like spider plants . . . but nothing looked like it might connect my printer to my computer through the USB port on the front of New Printer.

On the way back to see the Wizard, I stubbed my toe on Old Printer, which was crouched in front of my dresser, looking forlorn, trailing cables.

Trailing. Cables.

I studied the image the Wizard was helpfully showing me of a USB printer cable and where it would be inserted. I looked at the port on the back of New Printer. I yanked out the silver cable from Old Printer and looked at the end.


Five minutes later, we were in business.

No, I lie.

Two hours and five minutes later, we were in business.

And then our Internet connection went down.

Oh, bleep.




*Which I believe might also be a disease that sheep or goats or horses might have, but since neither are known for their print quality even when they’re healthy, I’m not going to bother looking it up.

**Not only for dot matrix nostalgia—Epson produces workhorses that do what they’re supposed to do until they drop, stuttering, in exhaustion.  Other brands are susceptible to Grawlix Tourette’s, which is amusing, but wastes paper.

***Because The Convenience Of Its Brick And Mortar Location Only Marginally Trumps The Abysmal Lack Of Customer Service Let Alone Eye Contact From Its Staff, That’s Why.

^Maybe the spiffy keypad takes up too much room?

^^No, not really. But pretty close.



Location, location, location . . .

After spending a few years hunched over my laptop at the dining room table—which worked very nicely until it didn’t*—I’ve recently reclaimed a corner of the master bedroom as my own writing space.

It took an hour or two of digging my desk out of all the stuff my family piled on top of it and I shoved under it, a relocation of the incontinent shredder, and a careful assessment of outlets and cables—so many cables—but I finally have it almost the way I want it.


The only problem I had, initially, that the desk is about as far away from the wireless router as it can be and still be inside the house, so the eeeBox I’d bought to take the burden off my overworked, menopausal laptop,** not to mention my aching back,***  was limping along on one  measly bar, when it wasn’t refusing to admit there was a router at all.

This was actually beneficial for my focus during Writing Hours, but a lot of Blogging Time was spent reconnecting every two minutes until I ran out of patience and colorful vocabulary and reached for my poor laptop, which didn’t seem to have any trouble.   I figured it was a bad wireless card or whatever, and had just about decided to send the thing back to the pound and adopt a new one . . . until Watson figured out that the right half of the desk, where I’d set up the unit, is in a Dead Zoneprobably because of a metal strut in the wall, or possibly the lawnmower, which lives on the other side of the wall.

Once I switched the unit with everything else, I had three bars, a relieved laptop, and a need for greater willpower during Writing Hours.

The only thing I could use is a plank—I’m thinking a walnut-finished shelf board—to stretch across those pull-out extensions so I don’t have to balance the keyboard on that legal pad over the center drawer.  It didn’t occur to me that the edge of the rolltop  doesn’t retract completely, so the screen is about four inches closer than I’d expected and I’m sitting about six inches farther from the desk, as I value the eyesight I have left, and every blessed hour spent without migraine sparklies dancing around the edges of my POV.

But as I tested out the space, something else was missing—a lot of things, actually, all buried in piles of scribbled notes or hidden in plain sight among the mass of jottings on my makeshift mousepad, which I’d intended to use for lists and timelines, but instead use for . . . everything.

What I needed was a single place to put things pertinent to my current project.

So I went to Office Max.


And bought myself a whiteboard and an assortment of markers.

And a corkboard strip and pushpins and a couple of glass magnets for images and articles, partially because I’m resisting Pinterest like a woman who has finally taken that first step and admitted she has a Time Suck Problem,  but mostly because I have no self-control in office supply or stationary stores at all.


But at least now I also have a character diagram, some reminders, and a wordcount-goal line—with scene annotations—that I’m hoping will keep me hitting those plot points in a timely fashion.

And magnets to play with when I get stuck.


We’ll see how it goes.

What’s in your space?


*My kids have somehow become even louder with age, my poor posture has become even worse with age, and the daily, pointed remarks from several of the adults in the family about the mess covering the table were really getting old.

**Symptoms may include hot flashes, mood swings, and USB Dysfunction

***I wasn’t kidding about the hunching, and the pain was no joke, either.  Sitting upright for a week or two has helped a lot—my spine isn’t doing its impression of a Gatling gun in the mornings any more and I actually might be getting taller . . . though when I mentioned this to Janie, she looked me in the eye, smirked, and said, “Right, Mom.”

^Which is why there’s a mugful of black wood Ninja pencils by my lamp, now.  You can’t see them in the pictures, for reasons that should be obvious.


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.

Random Thursday: Llama Llama Llama!

Llama Font. You know you want it.

Click to go to the generator and write secret llama messages—though once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to read.

The T and the Y are particularly adorable, I think. And the I. Okay, yeah, all of it.

Go forth and Llamafy!

(thanks to Janet Reid for this new toy, even though I didn’t decode her message fast enough)


Janie has discovered Weird Al Yankovic. The world may never be the same–after ten straight repeats of “The Weird Al Show Theme Song,” in the car this morning, I’m pretty sure I won’t be.*

She has it memorized and goes around singing, “But that’s really not important to the story!” at odd intervals. I’m beginning to miss, “Whatever.”


It’s amazing to her that a professional musician messes up songs on purpose.  Music is supposed to be sacrosanct, like books.   “I mean, I know you do it, Mommy, but he’s good.”

Thanks, kid.

My husband’s reaction? “Excellent!” He’s so proud to have helped produced the next generation of Dr. Demento** fans.

‘Course, he doesn’t drive her to school and back.


Quotes from the Notes

People who talk by the yard and think by the inch should be removed by the foot.

—Croft M. Pentz, The Complete Book of Zingers


Sheer (shear?) unadulterated cuteness:

cute baby animals - Let Me Pinch Those Cheeks For You

To get this kind of effect, I’d need a handful of styling product, a round brush, and a windtunnel—and some Rogaine.


One off the bucket list:

I finally found a copy of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen’s version of the Mission Impossible theme song from the first movie. I’ve been looking for this for years, but didn’t want to illegally download it.

In the end, I had to buy a CD with a Bjork song on it.  Bjork.   But it was so worth it.

Yes, Janie comes by her musical obsessions honestly. Why do you ask?


And to end this odd, little llama-fest, Wally Llama, reluctant guru, and three insistent pilgrims:

The moral of this clip?  Use your smartybrains: don’t meditate without a net.


*Yes, I was closest to the stereo control and yes, I’m the parent.  But it was either listening to ten reps of this song or twenty minutes of begging, whining, pouting, and aspersions cast upon the quality and quantity of my maternal love.  I’ll take the earworm, thanks.

**Does anyone else miss this guy? Does anyone else remember this guy? I used to stay up past my bedtime and listen to him under my pillow with my huge airport runway style radio headphones.

Bored Kid(s) with Camera

I finally bought the palm-sized digital camera I’ve been wanting.  Nothing fancy, but now we won’t have to cart around the large digital camera everywhere in case a photo-op presented itself or kick ourselves for forgetting it.*

Janie—who was bored in the way only eight-year olds can be on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon with no prospect of television or computer time until after dinner—perked up when she saw it.  Her mother—whose last nerve was being twanged raw from a couple hours answering said bored eight-year old’s questions about when dinner was gonna be—perked up when she saw this.

After some basic instruction, I handed over the little guy and asked her to try it out for me—and to please shoot some stuff through the windows to see how the images turned out.

She took some excellent images of a squirrel doing his squirrelly activities outside the living room window, which I wish I could share.  But she figured out by herself how to delete the images, so when I went to look at them, I had only an assortment of self-images taken by my beautiful, charming, and genteel daughter:

She does have pretty eyes, even when they’re crossed. Or glazed.

But at least hers are in focus.  I decided to try taking some photos of the river on the commute home, which would have worked better if I hadn’t been the one driving.  Aiming was pretty much out, as per cosmic law, I couldn’t catch a single red light in the entire four mile stretch.  I did however, catch something else:

Yes.  My thumb.  Which isn’t in focus, either.** But this one turned out all right, if you imagine the river running slightly downhill . . .

I’d better post this and go—it’s Sunny’s turn with the camera, and she’s just blinded the cat . . .


*Or, I might add, spring for phones with photo capability.  I’d make a lousy Luddite, but the only thing I use my phone for is to make phone calls—I even block texting and will continue to do so until all phones come with keyboards.

** I can hear MacDougal Street Baby and Averil rolling their eyes.