Monthly Archives: August 2013

Gone for good

The miracle zinnia has died.

Andrew has returned to Oberlin.

Clare has left for her Big Adventure in the Northwest.

Clare leaving

The zinnia had an incredibly long life — for a zinnia — so its demise doesn’t really bother me. Andrew’s permanent address continues to be the same as mine, and he can still legitimately call our house home. Clare, on the other hand, has moved out for good. She’ll probably continue to call Bethesda “home” for a while — I still sometimes say “I’m going home” when talking about visiting Elgin — but after a while this will be a place she once lived and where her mom and dad live.

I am truly grateful I had this summer with her (Andrew too, of course — but he’s not gone for good yet). I think we both were able to have some closure.

And no, I didn’t cry.

My Chromecast

I learned about the Chromecast a day after it was announced by Google. It looked way cool, but I resisted buying it even though it was cheap ($35) and I am a complete Android whore. It was not until I heard it was out of stock at Google that I decided to purchase it.

I awaited its arrival with anticipation, especially after reading all of the glowing reviews. (EASY SETUP!) I was sure it would be the answer to everything. (HOW CHROMECAST WILL CHANGE TELEVISION FOREVER!)

It arrived on my birthday (and was my only birthday present except for a bag of Skittles Dean left under my pillow before he left for Munich) and I tried to set it up on the basement television to watch Orange is the New Black with Clare. Because my computer was in the attic and because my phone was elsewhere, I tried to use Clare’s computer to set up my new Chromecast.  For some reason one thing would not connect with another, so I gave up and tried on my bedroom TV, leaving Clare to watch the program on her computer.

My TV worked much better, however, there is something the glowing reviews and ads don’t tell you — you need to plug it in. I thought that all you had to do was push the Chromecast into an available HDMI port, but you also have to plug the Chromecast into either an electrical outlet or into a USB port on your TV. I don’t think my basement TV has one of those and I am not sure my Bedroom TV has one either.

Another thing I didn’t realize was that you can only use Netflix; Google Play Movies, TV or Music; or YouTube from your phone. Your computer has more options, but the quality is much worse.

I’d envisioned using the Chromecast for work — easily displaying my PowerPoint presentation and demos of JAWS screen reading software onto huge televisions, but I am pretty sure that is not going to work. I also envisioned being able to cast my screen on a huge screen to do everyday tasks like remediate PDFs or prepare for PDF accessibility training. I am not sure how I will be able to do that either.

Don’t get me wrong, the Chromecast works amazingly well for a couple of programs, but I already own 3 Rokus and 1 BlueRay player that do the same.

I feel that I bought into the hype over the Chromecast far before it was truly unique. Maybe it will offer things that other streaming devices do not offer, but as for now I could have easily watched Orange is the New Black on my Roku or Sony device.

Miracle Zinnia

miracle zinnaA couple of months ago two neighborhood girls held a bake sale for some charity that also included some handmade items and a few plants. I bought a cookie or two and some lemonade. I also bought a small zinnia to help their cause.

I ate the cookies, drank the lemonade and planted the zinnia on the front porch. When it bloomed for the first time I remembered a comment Lali made on a blog post I wrote about lilacs — she said that with most flowers the more you cut the more you get. I knew this was true for zinnias so I cut the first bloom off the zinnia to make sure I got more. I put the single bloom in a silver vase Clare received as a birthday gift from her godmother, Totty. It prettied up the kitchen table for a week or so, then I moved it to a higher location so our cat would not eat it. There it stayed for weeks. Eventually the color faded and I thought it was dried out. Eventually I pulled it out of the vase to put elsewhere — after all it was a dried flower — and was astonished to see that it had grown roots! A good 8 inches of roots. I’d learned all about advantagious buds in botany class, but didn’t realize a plain old stem could create roots.

I planted it in the same pot as the mother zinnia and it is still living — the leaves are green and the flower seems to have gotten some of its color back. We have a good couple of months left for it to grow outside. I wonder if it will just stay the way it is — or try to create seeds with its head. Maybe those advantagious buds that are probably near where the leaves meet the stem will begin to grow into stems with more flowers. I may need to bring this little miracle into the house for the winter!