Upgrade to WordPress 3.1 (finally)

Ok, so I’m almost a year behind, but I finally upgraded from WordPress 2.x to 3.x (3.1 as of today). I quickly made a database backup and used the “upgrade automatically” button inside the Dashboard. I’ve been running the automatic version updates without any problems so I expected the version upgrade to work just as seamlessly. Even the manual installation and upgrades worked well, but those are even simpler now. Thanks, WordPress, for improving the process so much over the years.

Toyotas don't go into neutral?

I don’t own a Toyota and I’m far from an expert automotive technician, but something has been bothering me every time I read or see a television interview about someone who has experienced the sudden, uncontrolled acceleration while driving a Toyota vehicle. That problem is moot if the stricken vehicle is equipped with a manual transmission. Simply depress the clutch, shift the car out of gear, and use the brakes normally to safely bring the car to a stop.

What has been bothering me is what many of these stricken drivers do not seem to be doing if their vehicle has an automatic transmission. Instinctively, the driver’s first reaction to a car accelerating rapidly is to step on the brakes. Totally understandable. But shouldn’t the next step be to shift the car into neutral?

I don’t understand how a driver can go 10, 20, 30 miles accelerating out of control without having tried to shift the car into neutral (or turning the ignition “off” and keeping the key in to avoid steering wheel lock). Heck, I’ve occasionally bumped a shifter out of Drive and into Neutral by accident. I’m pretty sure it could be done intentionally, regardless of whether the car was accelerating hard or not.

Am I missing something? I’ve been driving standard transmission cars primarily just about the entire time I’ve been driving so maybe there’s something I don’t know about the workings of the shifter in automatic transmission cars. Regardless of whether you drive a Toyota or not, all drivers should have a plan for handling your vehicle if you lose control of the accelerator or the brakes.

Animals from A to Z

Pardon me while I blow the layers of crusted over dust off Laresweb…Ok, that’s better. I ought to blog a bit about our son, Gabriel. The boy just turned 2 and the things he has learned and picked up on in the last couple of months are amazing.

Gabe knows all the letters of the alphabet by sight, both uppercase and lowercase. Although we have a couple of different alphabet books, we think the items that influenced him most were a set of flash cards we got for him before he was even beginning to talk. The flash cards each featured a letter with a word that begins with that letter. On the flip side was a photograph or rendering of what that word represents. Gabe preferred those flash cards over most of his other toys and books. Sadly, I accidentally left this set of flash cards on a plane in the seatback pocket in front of me, but they will be replaced soon.

One of the toys Gabe received for Christmas is an animal play mat with 26 animal figures, one for each letter of the alphabet. The play mat is electronic and pushing each letter audibly identifies the letter, the name of the animal, and the sound that animal makes. He was familiar with maybe 10 of the animals and their sounds before we got the play mat, but he didn’t know the sounds different types of birds made.

Within the past two weeks, he started pushing the play mat button that plays the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star featuring an animal sound at the end of each stanza. To my amazement, he began yelling out the name of the animal as he heard its sound in the song. This wasn’t trivial because, for instance, there are several different birds on the mat – flamingo, nightingale, ostrich, penguin, quail, vulture – with distinct sounds and he could distinguish each of them. The kid knew them better than I did as I had to play each one to verify that he was getting them right. I’m not exactly an ornithologist.

Heck, I didn’t even know what a urial was until I saw it on the mat. Gabe knows that a urial begins with U and makes a bleating sound. The boy taught me something and I’m sure it won’t be the first time.