September 25th, 2013

Danvers Sings

Woman of the World Day

Tuesday Weld was an early crush, and her last name means "world" in German, hence the subject line. 

It was not a crushing day, however, sort of. Our Jill-of-all-annoyances emailed me and a handful of others that it has been 2 years since we took the ESD training course and accompanying test, and we would lose our lab privileges if we didn't complete this by some date in mid-October.

This was a good news/bad news message. The good news is I have worked there for more than 2 years now - good news because the last time I worked there I was laid off on my 2-year anniversary. The bad news is all our complaints have gone for naught that this course does not apply to us, and is a total waste of our time. I was hoping the new company would drop the requirement, which is left over from when we were part of Motorola.

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I used to be a hardware repair tech, in the 80s, so I know all about ESD, but like all corporate classes, the test questions are based on the class material, not on what is important to know about the subject. One question wanted to know what polarity of electric charge rayon clothing has. That's immaterial (pun intended) to the subject. Just the fact that synthetic clothes carry a charge is the important thing. Four of the 20 questions were like that. Another 6 were about specific ESD prevention equipment I have never seen used in an actual lab. I got 100% on the test because I took lots of notes on things which struck me as useless.

The rest of the morning was make-work.

Lunchtime I dropped the gift box for baby sister at the PO, and went to Popeye's for lunch. I like the non-Cajun food. I had planned on going to KFC around the corner and down the block, but when I got there it was the grand opening of La Taqueria. And the diner across from it is Consuela's Cantina. Gag me.

Back at work, after an hour Automation guy invited me to the break room to keep him company during his lunch (meetings and crunch schedules keep him from regular lunch hours some days). I had not had dessert, so I brought the bag of ลำไย I'd bought the other day - too many for me to finish by myself, and also a little dried out, not as delicious as usual. Automation Guy is from SE Asia, he too was addicted to this fruit. Soon we were joined by our Puerto Rican team mate, who had never seen a ลำไย, aka longan, and he found them addicting too. We killed more than an hour talking about World Fruit, tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes.

After work it was surgical shopping time at Target, where I bought only what was on my list:
Extra sodastream cartridge
Two extra sodastream 1-liter bottles

Then straight home, said hi to the cats, saw that I had just enough time to try out the Sodastream. It was easy to set up, I was almost able to do it without cracking the instruction guide. It made good seltzer in one of their proprietary bottles in about 20 seconds. The bottle caps are twist-on, airtight. I stuck that in the fridge for later, along with two more filled with water but not carbonated yet, because the guide said it's best to use chilled water.

Done just in time to go to Peninsulairs' voice lessons. Each session (this is #3) there were more people. I could see that for lesson 2, because there is a lot of review, but halfway through the course you would think they would stop taking new people. I'm only griping because the space is not big enough for the number we had tonight. And the newbie who parked himself next to me for warmups was an obnoxious, tone-deaf, ukulele-playing jerk.

Once again, 30 minutes of information packed into a 90-minute class. For the first time there were glaring bits of misinformation. The teacher obviously doesn't play a wind instrument other than his larynx. He kept claiming that the voice is unique in its range of sounds, that brass and woodwinds had fixed sounds which the player could not change. Utter hogwash. I can make a clarinet quack like a duck (one of this examples), and produce a horse whinny on a trumpet, or an elephant trumpeting using any lower brass instrument. This is a guy who has never heard the tone-bending stylings of a Klezmer orchestra.

He did some interesting things to get people to sing from the diaphragm, which were easy and effective. I would have been impressed if (a) that didn't come naturally to me and (b) he ever said the word "diaphragm".  In three weeks no one has said that word in class. Not even to joke about contraception.

When he ran out of material he asked volunteers to come up to center stage, and had them sing a note, then a half scale, and adjusted their posture to help the airflow. One guy was singing from his mouth, teacher pushed on his tummy and got his volume up about 5x louder. Unfortunately the guy was tone deaf, and his scales were not in any recognizable tuning. But that's fine, he's the person this class is meant for. 

Home, made a glass of fresh squeezed lime soda from the Sodastream bottle (a liter makes a little less than three glasses). And I charged up the other two now-chilled bottles. This thing is head and shoulders better than the 1-liter siphons I've been using. One cartridge charges 60 bottles (siphon cartridges charge 1 liter), and it has lots of other pluses I won't bore myself typing.

Had that with a TV dinner, fed the cats Fancy Feast and then had my ice cream dessert, and watched mindless TV. Turned off the tube (which isn't a tube anymore, is it?) and took care of some Quicken things, FB and this posting.

Got a message from one of susandennis' lurkers, katbyte, which reminded me that during the last flood of Russian spammers I locked out non-friends from commenting and had forgotten to change it. Now any registered user can comment, but non-friends' posts are screened.

Two community theaters in the area are doing Les Miz. The performance rights holder is supposed to not allow this, but somehow Stage 1 in Newark and South Bay Musical Theater in Saratoga are both opening this Saturday. I have friends in both. Hyper-marketing by South Bay sold out the show 3 weeks ago, so I'm going to Stage 1 a week from Saturday. I try not to go to opening nights, the casts & crews usually need a week to get used to an audience.

Plans for tomorrow:
Hearing test at Miracle Ear in the Cupertino Sears store. Mostly just to find out about their technology. I played some tones on the PC today, and was only able to hear up to 8400Hz. Last test was 10k. :-(


So the highlight of the day was a trip to the Miracle Ear hearing aid office at Sears' Valco store. They had advertised free testing and sale prices. For the past couple of years I have had trouble understanding what people are saying to me, and I was hoping there was a device which would help with this. I've had my hearing tested at Kaiser a couple of times in the last 5 years, and the results have been similar, with reasonable hearing in the voice range but loss in the upper frequencies. Yesterday I checked myself out in the upper ranges and I can hear 8,400 Hz. In 1997 I could hear almost to 15,000. A CD and most standard earphones claim 22,000. What those freqs buy you is more harmonics of things in the voice and music range. Voice is around 4,000.

They did a very quick look into both my ears with a device that threw the image up on the screen. My ear canal is packed with hair, and there were little bits of wax here and there but no blockage.

Next was the claustrophobic booth test. I made sure I could not see what the tech was doing. I had a button to push each time I heard a tone. The pattern he used was too logical, so I heard more than I would have if they had been randomized. The pattern started with my right ear, going through all the tones in order, each tone repeated 4 times at a progressively lower volume. Then the same with my left ear. There was one break in the pattern - the tones went from high frequency down the scale to low, but ended on the highest frequency, and that frequency was generated as more of a shriek than a tone, probably a piezoelectric buzzer.

After the test, they showed me a map the tech had made of my hearing response, and it looked exactly like the one from Kaiser in 2010, just a bit more loss than 2008. The salesmonster from the head office was having a hard time thinking of a way to sell me a hearing aid, it was clear he did not think his products would help me much. So I asked him to just show me the prices. Top of the line, a tiny behind-the-ear  instrument with 48 programmable channels, lists for $9k a pair, special discount this week only, $7k. I pretended that this was out of my price range at the moment, including the $200/month financing with no interest the first year. 

Looking at my two Kaiser tests, 2008 and 2010, glaringly missing from the Miracle Ear test was the word recognition series. Spoken words you are asked to repeat. Can't really test the kind of hearing loss I'm interested in without that. I suppose I should find out about Kaiser's current program.

That was in the middle of the work day. Before the test I went to lunch across from Sears at the Japanese mega-buffet which is now called Tatami. I had not allowed myself enough time for dessert.

This morning's work was taking another PPT class, this one was a 2-fer, the first part was about QAMs, which are the devices at the cable company which translate satellite feeds into images you can see on your TV. It was from the point of view of someone who has to install and service them. The second part was about a "new" technology cable companies were looking at which uses fiber optics instead of coax cable except for the last little bit between the phone pole to your house. The class was from 2007, this is now standard. But still interesting.

After the hearing test was my 1-on-1, I had some stats the boss asked for about the bug that wouldn't die, which showed it was not an out-of-memory issue. And I brought him up to date on the latest major bug one of the customers found, and tried to impress on him how critical it is, and how we missed finding it. And it also spawned another bug, a minor one about the spec being wrong.

Picked up a package at UPS after work, it was 8 2-packs of undies. I originally found them in Scotland, in the UK equivalent of Macy's, and finally found them on amazon. Since it was across the street I went to Starbucks, got a mocha, but had to sit outside, no room at the inn. And outside there was no wi-fi signal, so I went home and did some stuff on the laptop, which needed to be charged up and virus definitions updated.

Dinner was a small frozen one. Banquet. No more of those after this batch, the plastic trays melt a bit.

Tried on the undies, they are way too big. Went online and got an RMA and shipping label from Amazon for 7 2-packs (they won't take back used underwear). When I print labels from eBay, Paypal and they are formatted to print on Avery 8126, which is adhesive-backed 8.5x11 perforated at the 5.5" point, perfect for a shipping pre-paid label. Amazon won't do that, they have their own stupid form which prints the label in the center of the page with a lot of verbiage around it. So you have to tape the paper label to the package and pray.

I'll drop that off at UPS Friday, probably. Meanwhile I ordered the undies 2 sizes smaller. That should be about right.

Plans for tomorrow:
Put away the laundry
YOTB. Last rehearsal of the year