December 22nd, 2012


Those Noisy Spiders

When R. lived in Mayberry (<-- not its real name) before I moved East to complicate his life, there were places in the basement where insects could enter and depart (also, mice) (also, drafts) (also, water). Over time, he identified all of these openings and sealed them, which had several effects: a drier, slightly less temperature variable basement, fewer insects, no mice and the spiders, because they were apex predators on the insect ecosystem, died as well.

One of the motivations for this was that the spiders, when very very small, crept into the smoke detector in search of the teeny amount of warmth it put off, and set off the alarm.

When we moved to Massachusetts, we bought a house built in the tail end of the boom (we bought in the spring of 2009), and with some of the problems that tend to happen with boom construction (basically, when everyone has work, newer and/or less reliable workers are employed and the quality of the resulting work isn't as consistently good -- you can tell roughly how the economy is doing by how polite, efficient and accurate the workers at fast food places are; they're fantastic in a bust and it's just not worth the risk during the peak of a boom). The (many many many, like, a dozen) smoke and fire and carbon monoxide alarms had nuisance alarms every few days. It was the first time in my life I was tempted to disable all the alarms. Oh, and they're all interconnected which makes it tricky to figure out which one was going off, because they set each other off.

Anyway. We hired an electrician to fix the problem and he said that that year of fire alarms had a ten percent "bad" rate, thus guaranteeing any house with as many alarms as we had was virtually guaranteed to get one of the troublesome ones. We had them all replaced and there were no further nuisance alarms until a couple nights ago, when shortly after the kids were in bed and A. was probably even asleep, they went off. We got them reset and were searching for online manuals to debug which one was setting the rest off when they went off again. Reset again, and then I went to go stare at their various LEDs, and figured out -- not based on the manual, but just looking at the blink patterns -- it was the one in the master bedroom. R. got it down and, sure enough, there was a spider.

Those noisy spiders.


I saw some coverage of older toys coming back again on Bloomberg the other day; A. saw video of Furbys and seemed at least moderately interested, so we went over to Amazon and ordered one for each of them. They were sort of impulse Solstice gifts -- I even wrapped them, even tho there wasn't any real surprise left for A. With 4 AAs each, we were ready to go, altho T. was pretty resistant to downloading the iOS app for them initially. The iOS app turns the Furby into sort of a live-action Toca toy -- the app isn't Toca, but the style of interaction in terms of you how you feed the Furby is familiar.

Other than that, a Furby is still (mostly) a Furby. And after watching both kids persist way longer with their Furby -- and want to have them interact together -- than typically will with any other new non-screen-based toy (unless it is a dollhouse and there is an adult involved, or a ball, ditto), I thought I'd do a little googling.

But it does sound like the guts of it have made a leap forward comparable to the guts of an iPhone vs. the guts of an early Treo smartphone/PDA.

ETA: The Furbys are too loud for R. He has to leave the room when they are both babbling. T. doesn't like the Furbys to sleep. When they time out, he wakes them up. A. is currently wearing a Merida dress that has a sash. She wants to turn the sash into a sling for her Furby -- she's Furby-wearing. The Furby is responding positively.

This is all so very very weird. It was an _impulse_ purchase. This couldn't be going better if I'd plotted it for weeks.

ETAYA: Ah. This explains a lot.

I wonder how many people have noticed that if you feed the Furby a fish with the app, then feed it the skeleton it gives you back, it'll send you vomit back? Naughty A.! Fortunately, it doesn't seem to give you anything worse if you give it the vomit back. Yikes.

Same Last Name

There was a New Hampshire politician with the same, unusual last name as my mother-in-law's maiden and on-again-off-again adult last name. She wondered, some time ago, if they were related and wrote him a letter but never heard back from him. This story came up at around 9:30 p.m. tonight.

I thought, hmm. I wonder if we can figure out who his parents are? So, I looked him up in wikipedia, where I learned that R. had given me the wrong first name, also that the gentleman was born in 1936 in East Orange, NJ and graduated high school in Milford, CT. Also, he's a Jr. Hmmmm.

Off to, where typing in 1936, the name without jr, and the birthplace of NJ popped up a 1940 census record with him, his younger brother, and his parents in Milford. Looks good. Track up his dad to his grandfather, and then continue along (helpful DAR application information), where I topped out in the mid-19th century (unfortunate situation with some kids orphaned when both their parents died -- very sad). A little poking at ancestry's search engine further and I identified the parents and from there, it was quick work to place the result in my massive tree of other people with the same last name (we spent a lot of time on these guys tracing everyone living on this one particular street -- it made sense at the time ...).

Anyway. Long story short, the shared ancestor is just above the couple that died in the tragic runaway horses/broken harness incident coming home from church that didn't kill the grandchild in the carriage, thus making my mother-in-law the fourth cousin of the politician that I predicted we would discover her to be.

Mmmm, domain knowledge. *happy dance* Elapsed time: half an hour.