Using Blogger

This post is intended for a small audience: a class I’m teaching at AU. However, it might be useful to other people, too. Essentially, it describes one way to embed multimedia into Blogger posts, with some help from Dropbox, my favorite Web tool EVER.

Here goes:

  1. Sign up for a Blogger blog and a Dropbox account. (Here’s a link for the latter.)
  2. Copy your multimedia files (.mp3, .swf, etc.) to the Dropbox public folder.
  3. Go to the Dropbox Web interface and click into your Public folder.
  4. Use the arrow to get the public URL for the file in question.
  5. If you’re trying to embed audio, copy this text into your Blogger entry:
    http://www.odeo.com/flash/audio_player_standard_gray.swf
  6. Replace [MP3 URL HERE] with the URL  you copied from Dropbox.
  7. Publish.
  8. For SWFs, do the same as above, but use this embed code:
    /emstrongem%5BSWF%20URL%20HERE%5D/em/strongem
  9. In this instance, replace [SWF URL HERE] with the Dropbox public URL and [###] with the appropriate SWF sizes.
  10. Publish.

That’s it.

Potty talk

You know why I’m so bad about posting? Because I don’t get to it until this time at night… 11 p.m…. by which point I’m already tired and sick of being on computers.

But, I’ve been feeling bad about not posting. It’s like I jilted a lover. So, here are three quick stories. They all involve going to the bathroom — a sure-fire hit among any gang of readers.

As I’ve said before, I have a young daughter — she’s 4 now. She’s been potty trained for a good year or so, but is still discovering her body, her words, and her understanding of how the two collide.

The other day she was sitting on the pot, groaning. “It won’t come out!” she said in exasperation.

“What?”

“My poo-poo!” She sighed. “My poo-poo is sleeping.”

Ah yes, that nefariously restful poo.

Later, we were eating. I asked her what happens to her food when she eats.

“It goes into my tummy. If it’s wet, it comes out as pee. If it’s hard, it comes out as poo.” She looked at me like I was an idiot. I guess in some ways I am.

Finally, the other day I biked her to the zoo. It’s about 9 miles away. I loaded her into this great (though worn) bike trailer, hitched it up to my mountain bike, and took off. Going through the city, winding through bike paths and the Mall, pulling 50 pounds (her 35 plus the trailer) and fighting the wind, it took me about an hour to get there. And I was beat.

No matter, we walked around the zoo, looked at animals, had lunch, and enjoyed the morning. After a while she announced, “I have to pee!” She was doing the pee-pee dance big time and there wasn’t a bathroom in sight.

I loaded her onto my shoulders and looked everywhere for a bathroom. The reptile house? No. The great ape house? No. The souvenir shop? No.

Worried, I asked Sam how she was holding up. “I really need to go!” she said with some serious warning behind it.

“Ok,” I answered. “I’m looking!” Remember, she was on my shoulders. “No, you’re not going to pee on me, are you?”

“No,” she answered. “I’ve got my vagina closed.” Then she opened her knees and said, “Now it’s open!”

I’m not sure who’s going to need more therapy, me or her.

Anyway, we made it to the bathroom in time, though she did feel the need to comment on her being a “girl,” and us using the “boy’s” bathroom, as she stared in awe at the urinals. She also made me wipe her bottom. The joys of fatherhood.

On the ride back home, she napped while I exhausted myself. Luckily, I have quite the good girl. Back the house, I fell asleep while she played quietly on the floor with her puzzles.

Anyway, I’ll endeavor to do better with more postings.

A month already?

Oh man, I’m really sad. In my last few posts I promised to be better about posting blog entries. Then what do I do? I let the blog wither on the vine for a month. Exactly one month.

Sorry…

Ok, so here’s a posting. Once again, it’s about my daughter.

Several months ago I started playing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “20 Greatest Hits” album when I take Sammy to school. It’s on my iPod and she fell in love with “Susie Q.” Within a few days, she memorized the names and order of most of the songs. “Daddy, I don’t want to hear ‘I Put a Spell On You.’ Can you play ‘Proud Mary’ instead?”

She renamed “Green River” to “Green Frog River.” No matter how hard I tried to correct the record, she would furrow her brow and say, “No, it’s ‘Green FROG River.'”

Anyway, after several months of “Susie Q,” I started yearning for something else. I tried Tom Petty and the Police, both of which Sammy liked, but neither really stuck. Then yesterday I went back to the future.

“Sammy,” I told her, “here are some songs by a group called ‘The Beatles,'” as “Help!” played on the iPod.

“The Beatles?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She listened for a few minutes and then “Help!” ended. Before the next song played, she said, “I want to hear more of ‘The Ladybugs!'”

“‘The Ladybugs’?” I asked, confused for a moment. “Oh, you mean ‘The Beatles’!”

Move over “Susie Q.”

Throwing Up Causes TV

MY daughter got violently ill recently… diarreah, vomiting, the works. We kept her quiet so she could rest. She watched TV, played with stuffed animals, read books, etc. We gave popsicles, pretzels, and such. Except for being sick, it must have been pretty sweet for her. Attention, hours of TV and junk food!

She’s much better now. The junk food is put away and the TV is back to it’s normal “off” state.

This morning, as I was brushing my teeth, she says, “Daddy, I want to watch TV.”

“No, honey. We have to get ready for school.”

She paused for a moment. “I’m not feeling good. I might throw up. I need to watch TV.”

Nice try.

Do NOT ask Marilyn

One of my secrets is that I am a regular, no, religious reader of the Sunday Parade magazine that comes with our paper.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t like Parade magazine. I think it’s crap. But I’m addicted to it. I must read it. I feel uncentered, unbalanced when I don’t.

First, there’s the inside cover page of celebrity gossip, usually mixed with a dose of political nonsense. (Did you know David Hasselhoff is starring in “The Producers”? You do now!)

Then there’s Howard Huge, Born Loser and other completely unfunny comics. In Step with James Brady is a great way to get the most superficial and irrelevant information on the latest teen heartthrob. And the cherry on top is Marilyn vos Savant’s “Ask Marilyn” column.

She’s a “brilliant” woman with the highest IQ ever reported, or so she says. Apparently she was once listed in the Guiness Book of World Records and plenty of articles have been written about her. [Wikipedia entry]

Anyway, her column this week has the most idiotic question and answer I’ve ever seen. Basically, imagine a plastic tube that is six inches long and six inches in interior diameter. It is laying horizontal from left to right. Then stick a three-inch-diameter ball in one end and another in the other end. The question asks if one could get the ball on the left to come out the right and vice versa.

Her answer? Yes, you can do that! Just remove the ball on the left and pull through the ball on the right. Then put the removed ball back in and pull it through the right.

Oh, that’s brilliant! Just take the balls out! It’s like going to the doctor and saying, “Hey doc., it hurts when I do this.” And the doctor says, “No problem! Just stop doing that.”

Please, people, stop asking Marilyn.

It’s in the cards

One thing that always impresses me is how there are levels of quality to everything, even if we don’t realize it.

Maybe quality isn’t the right word; craftsmanship is probably better. For example, I just bought some playing cards. You know, a deck of cards? The ones I got are 100% plastic. They don’t rip, tear, or warp. You can wash them. They’re great.

Of course they cost more than regular old paper cards, but the craftsmanship is worth it.

What’s interesting about this is that this is true with anything. Sure, there are always low-quality things that are just fine. But then there are the high-quality versions. Cars, woodwork, paper, cards, glasses, food — it’s true for everything.

Anyway, I find this interesting. I like noticing how oblivious we are, usually, to issues of quality and craftsmanship. And then every once in a while you find something and you think, wow, someone really put some thought into this.

Cold hard cash

So our house has a basement apartment that we rent out. When we first moved in, there were a couple of young men living there. They came with the house, thanks to the generous tenant laws in D.C. The two men were lovers and clearly this was their first experience living on their own.

At first, they seemed fine enough, but soon they became problematic. Late payments, late parties, demanding, rude, and so on. At the time, we were renovating the house and my wife was pregnant. It was a hectic time.

Maybe I’ll offer up a post describing the Hell we went through with them — eventually leading to eviction — but for now, I’ll just say that we’ve had better luck since them.

Our current tenants, a grad student and her chef-husband, are nothing like our first renters. Perhaps the most striking difference is that not only do they pay their rent on time, they pay in cash. Cold hard cash. Green. Money. Bills.

The first time, it was a slim envelope of 100s. Occasionally 50s and 20s work their way in, but usually it’s just 100s.

Tonight, it was thick floppy stack of 20s. “What the Hell am I going to do with this,” I thought. Put a rubber band around it and carry it in my pocket? Peel off 20s to hand to the valet, as if 20s are my pennies?

Well, what I will do with them is put them through the ATM. But even that will be a bit of a chore. You can’t just stick an inch of 20s into the machine. The envelopes can be only so thick. So I’ll have to make multiple deposits.

Oh, there are worse things, I know. But who carries a stack of cash around? I almost never have more than $10 in my wallet. In fact, I don’t even write checks any more. I use credit cards for most payments and Quicken for most bills.

Cash rarely, if ever, enters my mind. I wonder if that is common, and if so, if that’s part of the reason the national savings rate is the lowest its been in 70+ years. That would be since the Great Depression. Could that be a sign of things to come?

Hmm, that makes me think Maybe I’ll stick those 20s in my mattress. Might come in handy one day.