Happy Birthday, Mom!

So, today is my mom’s birthday. My sister’s was a couple of weeks ago, and typically we celebrate them at the same time. The celebrations usually go something like this:

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And then this:

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Hopefully, they’ll both be able to enjoy similar moments at some point today.

I think I get a good portion of my adventurous side from Mom. She loves trying new things and isn’t afraid to “look the fool” to experience something new. Unfortunately for both of us, this adventurous streak often leads to… well let’s just say mishaps. In fact, there has been more than one occasion where I have been branded as a “troublemaker” because of it. I’m sure the same has been true for Mom.

One such “mishap” occurred a few Christmases ago at my sister’s house. All the kids were taking naps, which signals, as anyone with children can attest, the arrival of toy assembly time. That year one of the toys the kids got was a ridable train roller coaster thing:

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There were only about 6 different components, but, being a kid’s toy, it of course took all 5 adults to put the damn thing together. Once assembled, Dad, Sis, and Bro-in-Law retreated upstairs and Mom and I stayed behind to admire the train.

Alas, the temptation proved too great.

We decided we needed to test it out. Justification came in the form of a “safety check” (we can’t let the kids do anything dangerous, after all), and we determined a thorough exploration of Newton’s laws of gravity and motion was in order.

I wanted to go first, but Mom argued I was too big and would collapse the whole thing so she elected herself as the official Toy Train Roller Coaster Thing Guinea Pig of Christmas:

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The collision was loud and violent.

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Gravity won, as it usually does, and Mom crashed hard into my Bro-in-Law’s workbench. Hearing the crash and Mom’s subsequent scream, the others raced back downstairs to find Mom folded over the front of the train holding her head:

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Hearing the peals coming from Mom, my sister was horrified, certain that Christmas was ruined and a trip to the emergency room was inevitable. I was, true to form, laughing hysterically, which didn’t help matters much.

Slowly, Mom turned around, and we got a good look at her face:

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I’ve always found it interesting how screams of joy can sound so much like a scream of pain. This, of course, changed the mood in the basement dramatically. But what really sent everyone into the land of Gigglefits was Mom’s exclamation that she needed to test it one more time to be sure it was safe.

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So happy birthday, Mom. Thanks so much for everything you do for the family. Without your adventurous troublemaking, we’d have all fallen apart decades ago.

So sad…

Garmin screwed me. Or perhaps I screwed myself through my use of and, arguably, dependance upon, the Zumo.

One of the things I like most about using a GPS is that it saves my “Tracks” – the roads I actually take as opposed to the roads I had planned to take. In fact, more and more I lean towards not using the routing feature at all, instead just leaving an open map up on the display and using old fashioned notecards in the map pocket of my tank bag.

On my summer trip, however, I did use routing, and I was constantly wrestling with the Garmin Zumo. I’d wander off-route, and the damn thing wouldn’t update or recalculate. Instead, it would just scream “proceed to highlighted route” in my ear over and over – even if I manually recalculated or hit the “Detour” button.

It also, with only one exception, failed to record my tracks. So the only “record” of where I actually went is on the last day, one of the most uninteresting days of the trip exploration-wise (as I was mainly motoring on home through rainstorms and didn’t use a pre-planned route – I just hit HOME and GO). What makes it even worse is that I double checked at the end of each day for the first week, and all the tracks were being saved. At one point, however, somewhere around ID or MT, I got a notification that the unit was running out of memory. I know I didn’t delete any of the track data, but I wonder if that’s the first thing the unit deletes automagically. It could also be that my routes were just too damn long and they choked the Zumo to death.

Alas.

Between the pre-planned routes in Basecamp, geo-tagged photos, and my notes I should be able to piece together where I went with a good deal of accuracy, but there’s bound to be some roads I miss, especially in AZ, CA, OR, WA, MT, WY, and the Dakotas, where I did the most off-route exploring. Ahh well… nothing I can do about it, so I won’t let it stress me out. It’s just so very frustrating.

I think maybe I need to nuke the Zumo, reset it to the factory defaults, and then fully update the unit. Live and learn, I suppose. No more multi-day routes even though they are technically supported by both Basecamp and the Zumo.

 

Playing catch-up…

While I was out on the road, Google Reader finally expired. I am a heavy RSS user, and I loved GR. Alas. I knew the end was coming, but I dragged my feet until I ultimately forgot all about it until I got home. I did, however, save my feeds. So this morning I imported them all into Feedly and am now playing catch-up on, approximately, a bajillion unread items. Here are a few that have caught my eye:

From George RR Martin’s blog, a very nice memorial to all the characters who have died in the HBO adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire. I found Martin’s comments rather humorous and enlightening.

From Making Light, a recipe for Cocoa-Guiness CAKE. Yes, a beer cake. Guess I’ll be baking soon.

From In Socrates’ Wake, a very important post to college students of all majors: “More Advice to Students: How to Write a #$%* Essay”. This will probably be required reading in all my classes.

Lastly, from Bikes in the Fast Lane, a great little commercial for Indian Motorcycles that takes a swing at Harley-Davidson.