Monday, May 31, 2010

Parental preferences

There is much debate with parents about modern day gadgetry and how old a kid needs to be to own certain things. Last Christmas I asked if y'all thought my kid (age 8) was old enough to appreciate an iPod Nano. We decided to get one for her, it was also the Christmas she found out the Truth about Santa. She was thrilled with the The Truth BTW, she now gets to be Santa and it delights her so. Really, she always exceeds my expectations in departments like these, I had no idea she'd take it so darn well. The Nano was a great hit. She sometimes uses it for music but mostly she makes documentaries. They are so damn cute, especially when she puts her face in front of it while holding it, all you see is from her nostrils up to her forehead. Hilarious moments to be sure. She was totally old enough to appreciate this complicated gadget, I don't know why I question these things anymore.

This year is a whole new level though that I am uneasy about. Every summer she goes back to San Diego and stays with my mother in law and goes to a bazillion different summer camps. It's awesome in one way because there's no way we could afford all of these camps (mother in law pays for them) and child care costs over the summer would kill us. Really, kids are stupid expensive. The down side is we don't see her for 3 months. She, of course, is so busy busy busy that she barely notices our absence which is as it should be right? This year is going to be a huge step though. Previously someone would accompany her on the flight out there. This year she's doing it solo. Am I uncomfortable about this? YES. But my hubby and my mother in law think its fine so really, what I think is irrelevant. Yes, I'm going to catch shit about that statement from the hubby but I'm not really into lying to y'all and he hasn't noticed I've been posting again anyway.

The bribe to get her on the plane by herself was a cell phone. She goes on like a big girl then she can have a cell phone. No, we did not get her an iPhone. There was a lot of research done by the hubby on line to see what kind of phones would work best for young kids. There seems to be a helluva lot of young ones out there will cell phones. Yes, we did take into consideration the maturity of our child (not just other kids her age, but our child by herself) and whether or not she was old enough to handle that kind of responsibility. There really is no doubt in my mind that she can handle it.

Then choosing of said phone was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. We had been looking at the pay by minute phones, we wanted to minimize monetary parts of this and that seemed like the logical choice. Today we were shopping next door to an AT&T store (our carrier) and I suggested we stop in and see how much adding a line onto our plan would cost. If it was less than the pay by minute ones then I wanted to know. It was. Not only that but family mobile to mobile is free and we have unlimited texting. The hubby and I never use the phone minutes, we have like the least amount of minute plan but text all you want. We also have over 4000 minutes in our cache of minutes. I'll be surprised if the kid even puts a dent in it. One of the biggies that I liked about us getting her on our plan with this phone (the LG Neon, internet connection disabled) was that it had a QWERTY keyboard on it. If we can get her to text we can get her to read and write more. The sales guy was all kinds of impressed with this selling ploy, apparently he'd never heard of that 'bonus' yet. There are lots of parents buying young kids phones, I'll bet he'll be pulling that one out of his bag a lot.

So she now has her own cell phone. And we're just trying to start having a second kid. Age gap much? Dude, she has her own cell phone, we're old....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

About that obsession 'thing'

(Pic 'borrowed' form the Dendroboard forum, these froggies aren't mine, they belong to a woman that goes by Elkdreamer on the board. They did, however, inspire me to get this particular coloration of dendrobate.)

This most recent one is frogs. Yes, I know, you now pity the poor hubby. He'll survive but it probably won't be pretty, poor tolerant dear. The kid is totally with me on this one even though I won't let her get one of the main frogs she wants, a tomato frog. They are weird looking, even for a frog, and they are poisonous if another frog eats them. Some you have to worry about when mixing in the same tank. I'm not setting up a whole tank just for those ugly things (don't worry, I didn't say that to the kid). I just told her no poisonous pets. Then explained that the poison dart frogs momma is getting aren't poisonous in captivity. No, no one knows why that is but I will still use gloves when handling them. I'm a chemist and therefor more careful (ie paranoid) than your average herp geek.

The vivariums I'm having built are still not done yet which is fine. I think I've mentioned before that I'm kinda a research geek when it comes to diving into new obsessions right? So I am planning 2 froggie vivariums, 1 for mossy frogs and one for poison dart frogs. The mossy frogs are still kind of hard to find and I'll only go to a reputable breeder (picky much? Uh yeah) which I was able to find. They are still in tadpole stage right now and I won't be getting them until they have sucked up their tail and can be shipped. In the meantime I call up the breeder every month to check to see how they are progressing. Yeah I'm totally serious. The word I am using is obsession right?

The dart frogs are turning out to be even more convoluted. There are an amazing amount of variations and 2 sizes, damn small and minute. The minute ones are called thumbnails and not because they are the size of your thumbnail (that's closer to the 'damn small' size) but because they can stand on you thumbnail. With room to turn around. Yes, that small. They eat flightless fruit flies. That you have to grow/culture yourself. Then dust with vitamins before you feed them. Are you starting to understand why you should pity the hubby yet? Mind you this convoluted pain in the ass may seem insane to most people (don't ask how much these wee frogs cost, you'll just get a coronary) but it appeals to the scientist in me. I live for this kind of crap. I also view it as a great learning experience for the kid, seriously, how many kids get to culture fruit flies and springtails before they are 10 years old? Yup, I run an odd kinda household.

I finally decided which variation of dart frog I wanted. Newbies like myself are not recommended in buying the thumbnails as a starter frog. Smaller is more fragile. I never followed the rules beforehand I don't think I'll start now so thumbnails it is! I did not, however, start out with my favorite morphology (colors in laman terms) because they cost $105 each plus $50 shipping. I may be adventurous and overly confidant but I'm not a screaming moron either. FWIW you can't find these things in your local pet store normally. And even so I wouldn't trust them to live. Stress kills. Instead I found an individual on the main dart frog forum who had some froglets for sale. Upside? Great price, $35 each. Downside? He won't ship. Hasn't done it before. Upside? He lives in San Diego and my dad wants to fly me back out to visit him. I haven't seen my dad since 2007. So I gave the guy a deposit and I'm (hopefully) going to fly halfway across the country to visit my dad, bring my kid back from her summer in San Diego (she visits the mil and does camps out there all summer), and bring back froglets. Whole new level of geeky huh? Again, obsession is the key word here.

This is my youngest froglets in San Diego, notice it hasn't absorbed it's tail yet. It'll be a few months before I fly out anyway.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Without obsession, life is nothing

A quote By John Waters that I found in an anthology. My hubby makes fun of my obsessions. Not that he doesn't have them too, he just sticks to the same ones. You know, guns, paintball, knives, gaming, and motorcycles (the only one I don't let him indulge in), the usual boy forms of entertainment. He's basically had them all since oh, puberty, maybe even since school age. My obsessions tend to come and not really go but fall by the wayside. Kinda. I have relapses of all of them when it suits me. He finds this odd, I see it more as a Jack of all trades type thing. Animals tend to play a background to the obsessions starting with parrots (yes those big, loud, messy, expensive birds) way back in high school. Fourtunately this was when I was a teenager and lived in San Diego. There's a flock of parrots, yes a flock, that lives wild down there. When those parrots were done being domesticated they flew off out the door and joined the flock. They were not the most domesticated of avains to begin with. Next was the chinchilla. The hubby was dating me then too so he was well acquainted with Sketcher, the first of all the chins I owned. He lived in my room. Sans cage, free wheeling in my bedroom. Don't ask, it involves a bad size wire that he ripped his back leg off with so no more cage for him. Ah the sacrifices we make for the pets in our lives.

Chinchillas are long lived and I think he lasted maybe 8 years? Through my first marriage (which may have lasted 4 years?) and the 2 bird dogs and 2 cats that I collected while married to the putz. I've never been into cats but we somehow ended up with 2, they left with the ex as did 1 dog. I was then left with the Labrador. Yes, I survived living with a lab, a reactive one at that. I've always been stuck with the animals that no one else could handle and I'm ok with that, they give enough love that they're worth it (yes, I'm talking about my present spaz Jayne here). After I moved back to San Diego from MD I left that lab with a loopy ex-boyfriend, soul mates that they were. Both a little far left of center. I had also acquired more chinchillas with that boyfriend, he kept most of them and even the ones that were born the morning I left him. I took Smidge and 2 of his sons. Both sons died within a few years (mutation colored chins don't tend to last long). Smidge is still with in in the most insanely large cage you just don't even know. A side affect of the obsession thing. When we moved to this house I was tired of all the crappy cages I had either bought or built and wanted something impressive. Researched it for like 2 months before buying this ferret cage that is essentially a modified parrot cage. Stupid expensive but it rocks. He's old so he doesn't use it nearly as much as a young chin would but he's happy so I don't care. I suspect he won't be with us too much longer, I bought him when I was in college and I graduated in 1999. He's more than 10 so it won't be long before he's gone. We have a local chinchilla rescue and rather than trying to sell the behemoth of a cage on Craigs List I'm going to donate it to the rescue. I figure I got what I wanted out of it so it paid off, might as well let some homeless rodents enjoy themselves in it when we are done.

Present animal obsession count: 3 dogs, 1 chinchilla, 1 snake. Present animal count that is a direct result of my obsession: 2. The hubby might debate me on that but it's accurate. The chinchilla is mine from before present hubby days and Corbin, I wanted a frenchie something awful. Roxy was our first dog together and that was because the hubby wanted a dog and I was totally on board. But it wasn't me that initiated that one, that was all him, Jayne was him too, I wanted a 2nd dog yes but Jayne, the hubby wanted a brindle boxer. He would not have been my first choice, we knew what he was (reactive) from the first moment he came to our door. It was a good thing we took him though, he'd be dead by now with just about anyone else. The snake is the kid's deal, I'm cool with it but I made sure the hubby knew that he's responsible for it's care though. I take care of her on occasion but if he's home and she poos I tell him about it. I keep track of her food though and make sure we have the frozen mice on feeding days and I'm also now getting her a monster cage since she's so dang active that the 20 long shes in now is just not all that entertaining for her.

Yes, I said entreating. Sarah the snake is one dang active snake, you wouldn't believe how much she moves about. Total acrobat. So I've located a new tank for her, 70 gallon, on Craigs List, that I'm having my minion at work build up for her into a lovely vivarium. And here I move into the newest obsession, vivariums. You remember that Vietnamese mossy frog that I babysat for the minion when we borrowed the day gecko for the kid's presentation? I've decided that I need one for my birthday (28th) and of course need a vivarium to put it in. Over the last month I've researched the breeders of mossy frogs and what type of vivarium they need. Joined forums, sent emails, made phone calls, the usual research I do when getting into something new. Yes, an obsession. But if you want to get into a new animal species I think it's wise to know what you're getting into. Call me obsessive.....

So as of right now I have a total of 4 terrariums, that's including the one Sarah is presently living in which only kinda counts because like I said, I'm not responsible for that particular acquisition. I have a 18x18x24 that I am having the minion build up for the mossy frog that I intend on acquiring. The mossy frogs are currently in tadpole form with a breeder in Ohio and I have 2 on hold. The 70 gallon I got for Sarah needs to be picked up this next week and eventually that will be modified by the minion for Sarah's climbing entertainment. I also got a 12x12x18 and I think I'm going to put poison dart frogs into that one. No, the captive ones are not poisonous so don't worry about that. They are also not something one handles often, they are very very small and delicate. Not really the novice frog owner material but I am not your average moron so we'll see how well I'm able to do. They eat fruit flies (the flightless variety) and sometimes Isopods (pill bugs), woodlice, and spring tails. You have to actually culture all of their food (ie, raise/grow it yourself) and dust it with vitamins before feeding. And they only eat live, moving food. Sound like fun? OK I suppose only to a geeky scientist like myself and a bunch of crazy dorky herp people but I know for a fact that the kid is going to find it wildly entertaining, don't you think? And lets face it, this is like the ultimate for an OCD obsession ridden geek. The husband may go off the deep end but thankfully after so many decades he's totally used to it. He was there when I bought my first chinchilla, nothing really surprises him anymore.

PS, I'd include more pictures and links but this is my first foray into posting from the iPad. It's not all that easy since I'm not used to the lack of a mouse and right click/highlight is totally beyond me. I can copy paste but it's kinda sporadic. The autofill is infuriating and inconsistent but that's true in the iPhone too so I'm used to that. If there are any glaring typos I'm sorry, it'll drive me nuts but eventually I'll get the hang of it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The wonders of Apple

I've never really had the money to be a true Apple/Mac person. I love their products but they are still too much $ for me to be a solid Mac person. Jason traded me my Blackberry Pearl for his old school 1st gen iPhone when he traded up for the 3G. That was my first intro to Apple. I love my iPhone, I learn something new on it like every month. Which is a a sad thing to admit I'm sure but there you go. I use it mostly for the iPod which I listen to while working by myself in my lab. It's loud in there and I'm all by myself with the door locked, Pandora Radio is my friend. I figured out the mapping feature too (not the most accurate but if you zoom out it tends to make more sense) and the search function. See, these things I should have learned a year ago huh?

When the hype about the iPad started I thought, cool, nifty toy! I didn't for one minute think I'd own one as soon as they came out, not in my price range. Which is somewhere around, oh, free. I was still not willing to put out the $25-50 for a new power cord to my laptop. You know, the 7 year old Dell that eats power cords? Yeah, it has the larger battery on it but it doesn't actually hold a charge anymore so it has to be plugged in. After about a year the wire in the cord breaks. Apparently this is not uncommon in Dell power cords. Yay. Now you know why I'm never on line any more, I refuse to by another freaking power cord.

So as luck would have it there is such thing as a free iPad. Well, ok, more like free gift with purchase. Which is nice as long as it's not my money doing the 'purchasing'. Which it wasn't. I buy most of my consumables at work from a company called Phenomenex. I love them, they are so insanely helpful and they always have specials or are giving me free product. They have old fashioned customer service and if I call with a problem that my rep can't figure out he passes me on to a specialist in the company who can. And they have figured out some seriously strange ass problems out for me. All my instrument engineers are scared of me, when I have a problem it's just so damn obscure. I think the people at Phenomenex have some sort of strange affection for me. They may be sniffing chemicals in their free time but that's ok, they're my kinda peeps.

Plus they were having a special for a new product they were launching. One of those buy 3 and get 1 free or buy 5 and get 1 free plus a free iPad. Yeah baby sign me up. As it turns out it was a product that I had already started using. Since I am kind of one of their test monkeys I had worked with them for a few months to put this product in line with our normal procedures. Ordering a boatload was no problem, I knew I'd be using them all, it's a consumable. Sad part was that since I was already a regular buyer of it I was ineligible for the buy one get one free. My rep loves me though so instead he finagled me a free iPad 3G. Thank you Rob, I love you more than my luggage! Of course I don't travel so I don't actually have any luggage but I won't tell him if you don't.

So as soon as the first iPads were released they sent me one. And I though "Ooo pretty!". I could hook it up to my one lone surviving desktop at home (remember, the lap top has no juice and the hubby jacked his desktop with a virus) and downloaded stuff for the kid. Plants vs Zombies being the main entertainer but we had Spore too (originally for the iPhones). The kid was the only one who was using the iPad for a good month, Plants vs Zombies really is an entertaining game. We had some issues with the wifi in our house though, I had no idea what the password was. We had to wait for a friend of ours to come over and basically reset the thing and make another password. Which we wrote down and taped to the back of the unit. Or else, you know, we'd forget it again. So 2 nights ago we discovered the wonder of Apple. Dude, they rock. I will never ever buy another laptop cord for the rest of my life. I may never even buy another laptop. Unless I can afford a Mac. Or someone is giving one away for free.

The iPad? It's so lovely. I mean I don't think I'd use it for word processing or anything but we have a desktop for that. Even blog posting isn't too bad. I happen to be at work right now though so I'm on the laptop my awesome wonderful kick ass minion brought in and bought Clear for but if I were at home I'd be doing this from my iPad. We only ever used the laptop for sitting on the couch and flitting on the net, we never used it for it's full computer capabilities. The iPad takes care of that need. Plus it's small, light, you don't have to wait for it to boot up, you just push one and only little round button and "poof" internets baby. You don't need antiviral software, if you want sopmething from iTunes you can just download it from the icon. You don't need to attach it to a desktop for that stuff (like I did for the iPhones) unless it's time to back it up. It doesn't need to stay attached to a power cord, it holds it's charge forever, and I can use it at other free wifi places or, if I want to send AT&T more money (oh hell no) I can get wifi access where ever I want it. I don't see the need for that though, the iPhone does just fine for whatever I need when I am out and the AT&T plan for that thing is an obscene amount of cash anyway. I'm not sending them anymore of my paycheck thanks anyway.

When I first saw what the iPad was did I think I needed it? NO. But I think that had a lot to do with the fact that $500 was just not in my price range. Free is. I'm not giving this sucker up, it rocks.