DXMachina
Sunday, February 14th, 2016
8:06 pm - Baby, It's Cold Outside...  
So, it was -10°F outside when I got up this morning, just before sunrise. I don't recall ever seeing a colder morning. Just thought I'd mention it.
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, October 31st, 2014
6:59 pm - Halloween 2014  
It's a chilly, windy, misty night here, so there hasn't been a lot of trick-or-treat traffic so far. That a shame, because it was pretty nice out this morning, albeit a little colder than it's been. It's still early, but it's not looking good. I've only had one clump of seven tweens and almost tweens, and there weren't any other clumps that I could see up or down the street. Also no parents shepherding the real little guys around. I think the weather may be a little too rugged for them, especially since what's the point of having a cool looking Flash costume if it's buried underneath a parka. I may wind-up having to eat all this candy I bought.

I was disappointed by my candy choices this year. No one was selling the little bags of Whoppers, not Wal-mart, not Target, not the supermarket. The only way I could buy them was as miniatures (only three malted milk balls per package) as part of an assortment that contained peanut butter cups. I've never liked the taste of peanuts (so any leftovers are useless to me), and I'm uncomfortable giving them to children whose parents aren't present (which is probably a massive overreaction on my part, but then peanut butter's been banned by a lot of the local schools around here).

In setting up, I discovered that my doorbell isn't working. Probably the contacts in the switch have corroded. This is like the third button I've installed out there since I moved in. Granted, it doesn't get much use except on Halloween...

--update-- Two more pair of treaters, one set of whom are walking around while their parent(s?) follow them around in a car. The other parent (dad) was on foot. --update--

...and during political season, so maybe I'll wait until Wednesday to fix it. And maybe rewire the whole system. It's never worked right, and it takes an inordinate amount of pressure on the button to get it to bong. And it never bings. I think they wired the backdoor bell to the front, but the backdoor sounds the same (bong). The bing bell is in there, but it never activates for some reason.
 
 
DXMachina
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
3:34 pm - We're Having a Heat Wave...  
For the first time in what has been an extraordinarily temperate summer, the temperature has broken 90° here at Casa Machina. We are the midst of the first real heat wave of the year, and of course, I pulled the air conditioners out of the windows two weeks ago. Actually, calling it a heat wave is kind of an insult to heat waves. It has been more a matter of humidity than heat. Until today the temperatures the past couple of days have only been mid- to high eighties, but with the humidity hovering around 70%. Soupy, but tolerable. Today is a bit different.

As noted, this is the first time the temperatures have even touched 90° this year. Till now it's been quite an enjoyable summer. Up until this past weekend, the night-time temperatures in August were in the low sixties, or even down into the fifties, with day-time highs in the low eighties, with only the occasional humid day thrown in. That's why I pulled the A/C units out. I only have one window in my bedroom, and I wanted to open it full up.

I'd turned on the A/C only four times in July, and hadn't touched it in August. I tried to avoid the heat by doing some stuff down in the basement, but when it hit 85° on the first floor I gave in. I reinstalled the big portable unit in my office. That one's easy — it's stored in a cubby next to the window anyway, and it only took ten minutes to set it up. The bedroom one is more involved, and I'd have to carry it upstairs, so I just left it down in the basement and closed the bedroom door.

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Now if it were tomorrow, I wouldn't have bothered. I'd have just left for work early, and enjoyed the A/C there. I met my new MCC class last Wednesday. Well most of them,anyway. I had four no-shows, a new league record. MCC has a program that phones people who have registered but no shown up, so I forwarded their names, and calls were made so we'll see. There was one who has no phone number on file with registration,so she's still a mystery.

I was pleased with the first session. I finished the lecture portion with plenty of time for the lab, and yet still was able to add a couple of tweaks to it. I'd been a little dissatisfied with the flow in previous semesters, but this time it seemed to work well. I didn't even have any after-the-fact thoughts about new tweaks. I was also pretty happy with the lab lecture, too. Those are easy to second guess, because the feedback is immediate when you haven't explained things well.

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Teaching in the Brave, New, Academic World...Collapse )
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, August 24th, 2014
11:37 am - Four Weekends and a Funeral...  
...or how I spent my summer.

I spent a good portion of the summer teaching — the lab portion of my usual MCC assignment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 to 10 p.m. The three days a week thing got old fast, but otherwise I had a good class and a good time. One of my students was even a minor local celebrity, a features reporter for a local TV station who is apparently chucking it all to become a (male) nurse. Of course since the local TV station is not local to where I live, I had no idea until some of the other students pointed it out. He was totally not the stereotypical self-absorbed TV personality, but was rather a keen student and very helpful to others.

As for the rest of the time, here are the highlights...

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Last weekend of June...Collapse )

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Fourth of July weekend...Collapse )

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Readercon weekend...Collapse )

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First weekend in August...Collapse )

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The funeral...Collapse )

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Summer ends for me on Tuesday, with the start of the semester at MCC. Meanwhile I have been busy preparing syllabi and lecture notes. I'm teaching my usual general chemistry course at MCC, Mondays and Wednesdays 4-7, and a lab over at CCSU on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30. The department chair at CCSU offered me a second lab section, but it conflicted with MCC, alas.

Hoping I can post this...

Nope, still down... and I lost all my tags. Bother.

And now we appear to be back.
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, August 22nd, 2014
10:04 pm - Howdy, Y'all! Long Time no Post!  
So... Last time I posted was back in April. The lack of posting hasn't been because I've been especially busy, or had nothing to talk about, but rather a matter of procrastination. <Shrug>

A couple of days ago I got back from a short camping trip to Watkins Glen, NY, with a small subset of my usual camping group. Fun trip for the most part. Did a couple of good hikes to see gorges and waterfalls, including the spectacular Taughannock Falls, along with a nice bike ride on the Catherine Valley Trail.The only negatives were the heavy rain the first night, and the fact that my air mattress developed a leak that got progressively worse each night, culminating in waking up at 2:30 Tuesday morning with my heavy upper body flat on the ground, my less heavy lower body boosted high in the air by the remaining inflation, and the largish meal I'd had at the BBQ joint in town trying to work its way back out through my esophagus. Yeesh!

I rearranged things to a more comfortable position and was able to get back to sleep until dawn. First thing I did was drive into town to Walmart to price a new mattress. Then I went to Dunkies for breakfast and wifi to check the forecast. They were predicting thundershowers the next day, so instead of getting a new mattress, I decided to cut my trip short by a couple of days, broke camp, and headed home. It turned out to be a good decision. I kept checking the weather radar the next day, and there were some intense cells over Watkins Glen. Now I just need to find and patch the leak. And maybe have a chat with baby!sis because her kids were the last to use the mattress.

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While in Watkins Glen, we went and saw Guardians of the Galaxy at the local theater for cheap*. It was great fun, but no one but me wanted to stay to watch all of the end credits, so I missed the big reveal. Not to worry, I already had heard about who it was. When I got back home I started looking up the comic book version of the team, and I'm pretty sure I must have bought some of the original series. I was a huge fan of Adam Warlock, and he was in it. Actually, knowing that now makes me disappointed that he didn't make it into the movie (although some have speculated the he, too, is part of the Collection). The only character I actually remembered was Drax, from his time with Warlock. And, of course, Thanos and Ronan. I did once buy the first issue of Nova, so I also recognized the Nova Corps, but I never was a fan.

* I should note that it had been almost nine years since the last time I was inside a movie theater. It may have been cheap by today's standards, but I don't think I paid that much in the first run theaters back in the day. One of the many reasons I haven't been in so many years.

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Anyway, I have lots more to post about, but for now... baby steps.
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, April 13th, 2014
5:21 pm - Pollenpocalypse 2014  
Boshe moi, the pollen vortex is frackin' killing me.

March finally showed up on April 1st, and for the past few days April has been trying to shove it out of the way with a vengeance. On one hand, I was finally able to ride my bike two days in a row. On the other hand, I am wheezing like a patient in a TB ward. I hate to think what it would be like without the zyrtek, because even with it, boosted by some diphenhydramine, my mucus membranes are still running overtime on histamine production.

I had the windows open for the first time yesterday. Did I mention I had all the windows except the ones in the front replaced? Back in January, when it was 7 °F outside. Cold as it was, at least I could breathe.

I never did see any crocuses this year, although the daffodils and tulips have sprouted. I'm worried about the two krabapple trees in the front yard. Neither has shown any signs of life yet. They're both a few years old, so it's not like this was their first winter. The branches still seem fairly flexible, so at least there's some moisture in there.
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, March 30th, 2014
11:11 pm - Breaking Up Is Hard to Do...  
I think it's time for me to break up with Mother Nature. I seem to be trapped in an increasingly abusive relationship with her. The past few months have been especially abusive on her part, and I've had it. Start with the coldest winter I can remember*, one that doesn't seem to be anywhere near ending though it's the last days of March. Throw in the snow storms and the ice. Then the last few days have been the nor'easter from hell. It's been raining hamsters and now there's water seeping into my basement as the water table rises. Plus the winds seem to have wrecked my gas grill.

* And I have an especially good memory...

I can't take much more of this. I thought we might finally be getting a break three weeks ago when the temperatures got up to about 60 one sunny Saturday. I even broke out the bike for the first time in months for a sloppy ride through the snow melt on the bike path. I even left the bike in the car, figuring I'd be back reasonably soon after. Nope.

Bother.

I really am itching to ride. Last year was my worst year since I got the new bike back in 2007. Didn't even break 900 miles for the year. The year before I'd done almost 2300. It shows in my weight. Between the lack of exercise and the cabin fever, I'm gaining. Not good.

More rain in the forecast for tomorrow. One of these days I'd better install that sump pump.

On a happier note, I appear to be well set for teaching the rest of the year. I've got a summer lab lined up at MCC, and my usual course at MCC along with a lab at CCSU for the fall. I could actually make a reasonable sum of money this year. OTOH, it was kind of fun getting almost everything back from Uncle Sam that was withheld for taxes last year. I'll be getting most everything back from CT, too. On the gripping hand, I owe more to RI than I do to either the US or CT, even though the only income I got in this state was a piddly amount of interest and some dividends. Almost makes me want to start thinking about a move to CT**.

** Seriously, the tax rate in RI is double what it is in CT, and CT seems to offer better services. I need to investigate.
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, February 14th, 2014
12:43 pm - Snow Daze...  
I am so done with winter...

I've had to deal with two full and one partial snow days in the last week and a half. One of the full ones and the partial (they shut down classes at 4:00 on a day when I teach from 3:05 to 4:20) happened to my course at Central, one that already had four credits worth of material jammed into a three credit course. I lost yesterday from my MCC schedule, but at least that course has more places where I can make up the difference. I normally tack on some non-syllabus material on the last day anyway. Both of the full days landed on the final lecture before an exam, so I've had to postpone the exams a day, which is probably harder on the students than it is me.

Boskone kicks off today, and I'll head up there for the evening in a little while. Had the Subaru maintained* this morning, so there should be no problems with the drive. I would dearly love to be able to take the train up from Wickford, but while it would get me there today, service stops before I want to leave tonight, and there's no service at all on the weekend. Bother.

* I've already put 10,000 miles on the Sub since I got it less than six months ago. It has been very handy having AWD for the snowy days, especially the drive out to and back from New Britain on that partial snow day.


 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, January 12th, 2014
10:30 pm - Sherlock - His Last Vow  
Wrapping up series 3 of Sherlock...

So, a cottage on Sussex Downs, bees! Well, no.

Spoiler alert...Collapse )


Tags:
 
 
DXMachina
Monday, January 6th, 2014
9:38 pm - That Was the Year That Was...  
It was the best of times, it was the... well, not the worst of times, but there were parts of 2013 that weren't so good.

The year in review...Collapse )


 
 
DXMachina
Saturday, December 28th, 2013
6:16 pm - First Lines Meme - 2013  
So, it's been awhile...

First lines for each month this past year:

January: Real cyclists don't wear underpants.

February: It's been snowing since about 8 am, about 2½ hours now.

March: So, I haven't talked much about the teaching gig.

April: (For some of us, Opening Day is the new year...)

May: The semester has mostly wound down.

June: So, long time, no write...

July: Friday was the first (and only, so far) truly nice day of weather we've had this month.

August - November: On hiatus.

December: So, it's been awhile...
Tags:
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, July 19th, 2013
8:15 pm - Still a Little Bothered  
Am in Maine, at my campsite using the campground's free wireless. What a world with such wonders in it.

The arm wound turned out not to be a laceration, but a flaying. The good news, no stitches. The bad news, no skin for a couple o'weeks. It is well bandaged*, and when I went hiking today I covered the whole thing with an ace bandage, too. Took an hour and a half to do this, most of it involving me listening in as the doctor was trying to remove the tips of the poor guy in the next examining room's hearing aids, which turned out to be well and truly stuck. He eventually had to be sent to a real ER**.

* I told the nurse I was going camping, so she wrapped me up with gauze and gave me some extra gauze and dressings.

** Word to the wise — don't have your hearing aid fitted by the students at the URI Audiology Department...

It is way cooler here than in Rhody, so I am happy. Even the thundershower last night didn't cause any problems once I got the tarp up over the tent. Expecting more thundershowers tomorrow, but followed by an actual cold front, so even better.
 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
7:23 am - Bother  
So, I was loading up the last couple of things onto the truck for my trip to Maine, and I was feeling pretty good about things. No weird accidents or illnesses to prevent me from going camping for the first time in 11 years. And then...

As I was walking out the side door carrying the cooler with the soda and beer and other beverages in it, I stumbled. Not badly, just enough so I fell a bit to my left. My left arm hit the little hunk of sharp metal that passes for a door latch on modern storm doors. It hurt, but I not that badly, so I continued on and loaded the cooler into the back of the truck. Then I looked at my arm — ripped wide open, about an inch and a half long cut, and bleeding profusely.

Washed it off, put on a big ass bandage, and loaded the last couple of items on the truck, then headed off for the local urgent care facility... which doesn't open until eight (it was 6:30 when I got there). So I got some ice for the cooler, stopped at Allie's for donuts, and came home to wait for eight*.

* I thought about going to a hospital ER, but the two closest hospitals are each about a half hour away anyway, and the bleeding seems under control.

Sometimes it really sucks to be me.
 
 
DXMachina
Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
5:47 pm - Sweltering...  
I find myself using the word "sweltering' quite a lot lately. Indoor/outdoor thermometer is reading 86° in the house right now*, and 100° outside. I don't think it's really quite that high. The outdoor sensor is under the eave in front of the house, which faces west, not the best place for accuracy. Weather.com is telling me it's 86° out there, but that's not right, either. Somewhere in between, I think. I was going to mow the lawn when I got home, but heat stroke is a concern. I took a ride last evening, and it was like riding through soup. The piney woods smelled nice**, while the Great Swamp was more fetid.

* I only got home from school/lunch with Tom and his family an hour ago, and the A/C hasn't yet caught up yet.

** Speaking of smelling nice, driving by Schartner's strawberry fields towards the end of June was just amazing.


I think the heat and humidity actually affected the experiment the class did today. They were measuring the heat of fusion of ice, the amount of energy it takes to covert water from a solid to a liquid. You do this by throwing some ice cubes in a styrofoam cup with warm water in it, and calculating how much heat the original water loses. The two values are equal and opposite, so you then know the total energy it took to melt the ice. Except... even though the building has A/C, it was really humid in the lab. Warm, humid air carries a lot of heat, so there was more than one source of heat to melt the ice. The average percent error I saw was about 50%. Not good results. The procedure isn't especially accurate to begin with***, and the conditions made it worse. Tom and I discussed the procedure later, so maybe some changes will be made.

***I told one student that the procedure was a "quick and dirty method," although not especially dirty considering the final outcome is cold water.

I need to start gathering my camping equipment for the trip to Maine on Thursday. I'm off tomorrow, so I have the whole day to pack the truck. Key things to do include figuring out how I mounted the bike rack on the back of the truck back in 2002 when I took it to Canada. Normally the bike stays under the tonneau cap, but with all the camping stuff there isn't much room. The rack was designed to attach to a trunk or hatchback, as on my old Subaru, not so much a tail gate. I did switch the narrow tires on the bike to a pair slightly more suitable for riding Acadia's gravel carriage trails.

Don't find out till tomorrow night if I have to teach Thursday.

Still sweltering...
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, July 14th, 2013
11:48 pm - Readercon  
Friday was the first (and only, so far) truly nice day of weather we've had this month*. Saturday was warmer and more humid, and today is meet the new sweltering, same as the old sweltering.

* I use the word "we've" advisedly, because it didn't really get nice until I was in Burlington, so I have no idea what the weather was like in Rhody.

Spent the weekend at Readercon. After the post-con meltdown last year, the subject of safety was on everyone's minds, and deservedly so. Couldn't miss it really. There were signs everywhere, and it seemed like pretty much an entire program track was devoted to it and related topics. That said, at least one incident of some sort occurred, and is now being investigated. I noticed some of it on Twitter, but am confused about what exactly happened**. This is a shame.

** Mostly because I am unclear about whether there was one argumentative creep, or one creep plus another separate argument with someone else. The argument was about the potential for false accusations, which would be weirdly ironic if that's what escalated to the complaint.

Anyway, the panels — Besides the safety topics, there was quite a bit on gender issues, which doesn't really interest me much. Still, there was enough stuff on the program to find something to occupy me in most sessions. The times I couldn't find anything seemed to coincide with the times I needed to check-in at the hotel or get something to eat. Actually, it worked out in such a way that I really never had to choose between two equally appealing panels, so that worked out... I guess...

I didn't take many notes this year, at least not until Saturday evening, but I still have impressions.

Friday...Collapse )

Saturday ...Collapse )

Sunday...Collapse )

Miscellany

The con was very well attended. The registration line was very long when I showed up. Fortunately for me, almost everyone in line had pre-registered. I hadn't, so I was shuttle to a different, much shorter line. And still didn't have my badge much sooner than the folks I had been standing behind in the original line. This is actually the opposite of what my experience has been in the past. The pre-reg line is usually way shorter than the registration line. I wonder if way more pre-registrations came in this year in solidarity after the troubles were resolved. I usually pre-register, but never got around to it until too late this year.

The number of attendees put a strain on the facility. The two ballrooms still seem more than big enough for any panel, but the smaller panel rooms were too small this year. Almost every panel I attended in one of the smaller rooms was standing room only, and I mean a lot of standing.

Barry Malzberg was, as usual, listed on several panels, and I wondered how the recent controversy surrounding him would fly given Readercon's current emphasis on safe spaces and non-harassment. Then I saw the sign that said he wouldn't be in attendance. So it goes.
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, June 30th, 2013
9:32 pm - June Swoon  
So, long time, no write...

The mid-year state of me...Collapse )


 
 
DXMachina
Friday, April 12th, 2013
10:58 am - Filking for Science  
I like start each lecture with a quote or cartoon or something similar on topic to what's going to be covered. (I used the cartoon in the icon in my first lecture.) Sometimes they're funny, sometimes they're pithy, and occasionally they are filks, like this one I did last night on the ideal gas law (PV=nRT):

One law for Boyle, with extent versus spring,
One more for Amontons, T zero was the thing,
Another one for Charles, expanding in the heat,
And one for Avogadro, with particles discrete,
In the Realm of Gases where the volumes change.

One Law to rule them all, One Law to find them,
One Law to join them all and through a constant bind them,
In the Realm of Gases where the volumes change.


I just wish there was some property of gases that would allow me to make the last line a little more sinister, but ideal gases don't really have shadows.

But wait, there"s more...Collapse )
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One quote that I used that I found unintentionally hilarious was this one from Robert Boyle on his experiments determining that the volume (extent) of a gas was inversely proportional to its pressure (spring):

'Tis evident, that as common Air when reduc'd to half Its wonted extent, obtained near about twice as forcible a Spring as it had before; so this thus- comprest Air being further thrust into half this narrow room, obtained thereby a Spring about as strong again as that It last had, and consequently four times as strong as that of the common Air. And there is no cause to doubt, that If we had been here furnisht with a greater quantity of Quicksilver and a very long Tube, we might by a further compression of the included Air have made It counter-balance 'the pressure' of a far taller and heavier Cylinder of Mercury.

Even in 1662, scientists were complaining about not having enough funding.


 
 
DXMachina
Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
8:20 am - Happy New Year...  
(For some of us, Opening Day is the new year...)

The Dodgers opened with a good victory over the hated Jints, with Clayton Kershaw both throwing a four-hit shutout and hitting the game winning home run. Even Koufax never did that. (Koufax couldn't hit a lick.)

Speaking of the elder left-hander whose name starts with K, the opening ceremony was pretty cool, especially at the end when Mattingly went to the mound to bring in a lefty reliever for the opening pitch.



Read more...Collapse )
Tags:
 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, March 28th, 2013
12:57 pm - Opening Day Approaches...  
Matt "the Bison" Kemp helps Abby on Sesame street in the Cutest. Video. Ever.




As a side note, Vin Scully once dated Joan Ganz Cooney, In fact, he took her to the post '55 World Series celebration, after Brooklyn won their only World Series.

Another favorite Kemp video of mine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH4KP6uqtMg
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
12:20 pm - Chemistry Saved My Life...  
...and other thoughts about the blizzard of '13.

It's another snowy weekend, although I don't think there's as much on the ground as they were predicting (6"). At least there's still power. I lost power in last weekend's blizzard around 9:30 Friday night. I didn't come back until around noon Sunday, so around 39 hours without heat or other conveniences. It wasn't so bad Friday night, as the house is well insulated and there was still a lot of residual heat in the house. It was getting near bedtime anyway, so I reported the outage to National Grid, and then stuck myself under the blankets around 10:30 and went to sleep.

Staying warm...Collapse )

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Pushing snowCollapse )

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In other neighborhood news, whilst doing my second shoveling of the end of my driveway, I finally had a conversation with my across the street neighbor. She's lived across from me, on and off, for 9 years, so it was probably about time. I also had my first chat with the guy who lives next door to her, so it was a very social blizzard.

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The power outage bugs me more and more. I'd been lucky in previous big storms, not losing power when many others did. What is bugging me so much is that during the great blizzard of '78, which was a much worse storm, far fewer people lost power. This time around, more than 190,000 homes were without, and remember, Rhody's population ain't all that big. There's been storm after storm after storm that just clobber the infrastructure in dimensions that seem to far exceed what they used to. I wonder how much of that is due to the utilities cutting back on tree trimming in the name of profit. Blech.

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Speaking of natural disasters, I am so very glad that the meteor didn't hit Russia, say, thirty or forty years ago. That could have been bad, in the crossing the streams sense.
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, February 8th, 2013
10:57 am - The Blizzard of '13  
It's been snowing since about 8 am, about 2½ hours now. There's still not a lot of the ground yet. I can still see tufts of grass sticking up out of it in the lawn, so maybe an inch so far. Apparently we're due for some serious accumulation, but to quote the immortal Carl Spackler as he and the bishop made their way through the monsoon, "I don't think the heavy stuff will come down for a while." We'll see.

I've already been out for the mandatory storm purchases. Just the essentials—overpriced milk and sugar-free white chocolate macadamia cookies. Now I'm hunkering down with all the tv I'm behind on.
 
 
DXMachina
Saturday, January 12th, 2013
1:29 pm - The Heyday of the IJN  
The Midway Campaign — Jack Greene

If a book can be awkward, this book about the first six months of the war in the Pacific is awkward. Where did that come from?Collapse )



Tags: ,
 
 
DXMachina
Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
8:01 pm - 2012 in Books  
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. — Groucho Marx

Yes, I am behind my time, but it's only once a year. It won't be repeated.

The whole list...Collapse )

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The last couple of books read...Collapse )

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I have finally gotten back to fiction, thanks to the library notifying me that Jim Butcher's latest Harry Dresden novel was waiting for me to pick it up. Fifty pages in already.
Tags:
 
 
DXMachina
Saturday, January 5th, 2013
6:38 pm -  
SLOCUM, RI - The search for a cordless drill, missing for two months, was called off today when it was found safe, sound, and and still charged, sitting in plain view on a high shelf in a local man's attic. The owner had first reported the drill missing in early November. The man claimed to have searched that area several times without seeing the drill, and suggested that perhaps it had only just returned from going on a spree. He said he had heard rumors that in recent weeks numerous phillips head screws had been found mysteriously loosened around the neighborhood.

Local authorities discount the theory, saying that the fact that the drill was still charged when found is evidence that it was likely not, in fact, screwing around. Some neighbors allege that there have been rumors that the owner may be abusing his tools, and theorize the drill may have been simply hiding to escape. Authorities say that they are looking into the rumors, but that no charges are anticipated.




 
 
DXMachina
Friday, January 4th, 2013
2:47 pm - Verry Funny...  
Awright, whoever hid my cordless drill, you did a spectacular job. Bravo!

That said, I'd like it back now.

Please?

(I've searched the house from top to bottom. Twice. I'm now worried that it's outside somewhere, but I don't remember needing it out there for a very long time.>



 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
5:48 pm - Skewering the Wannabe Culture  
Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike — Grant Petersen

Real cyclists don't wear underpants. At least that's what the biking magazines have been telling us for the last thirty years or so. They also wear spandex shirts*, shoes that clip into bindings on the pedals, and bike shorts with padding in the seat rather than getting a more comfortable saddle. They fret over every single ounce of weight added to the bicycle or their person. And they pay through the nose for all of this gear.

* Often covered with logos providing free advertising for megacorporations.

Becoming an unracer...Collapse )

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Meanwhile, back at the bike path, I had a singular year...

New. League. Record.Collapse )

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Volleyball tonight, for the first time since I got sick back before Thanksgiving.
 
 
DXMachina
Monday, December 31st, 2012
11:03 am - Trufflemania 2012  
I made twelve kinds of truffles this year, and I decided to update my recipes and notes for easy reference.

Read more...Collapse )
 
 
DXMachina
Sunday, December 30th, 2012
3:47 pm - Winter Wonderland  
We had our first substantial snowfall of the season* last night, 6-8". Today is bright and sunny, and it's very pretty out. There is substantial wind chill, though, so apart from shoveling, I've been admiring the pretty through my picture windows.

* Actually, large parts of New Jersey and Rhode Island got lots of snow inland during the Boxing Day nor'easter, but nearer to the coast, where I was staying while in Jersey and where I live in Rhody, we just got soaked.

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Christmas was good for the most part. There wasn't much traffic on the way down, and even going back during rush hour on the 27th wasn't too bad. I got lots of good loot (DVDs, books, money, and a quart of real maple syrup from my brother's farm, among other stuff), and there was terrific food. It even snowed lightly Christmas Eve, so we had a white one without the necessity of shoveling.

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I stayed with eldest sister. She has been fostering dogs for one of the local shelters. She already had one of her own, and liked one of the foster dogs so much that she adopted him as well. There was also a third that she brought home for the holiday while the shelter was closed. Unfortunately, that one was young and ill-mannered.** I caught her standing atop the dining room table. She also kept picking fights with the other two dogs, so she wound up spending most of her time in her cage.

** Think Stitch right after Lilo adopts him.

It's too bad. She is basically a good dog with people, and with proper training would be a nice pet. She liked me, and I liked her until she switched from chewing on the hems of my jeans to clamping her jaws on the screen of my laptop. Fortunately no harm was done to either computer or beagle mix.
 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, December 20th, 2012
1:37 pm - Insert Truffle Pun Here...  
It's truffle time again at Casa Machina! I've put up 16 dozen or so truffle centers so far, and should finish off the last four batches of centers (about 9 dozen) today. Then it's time to dip.

There was a short snag when I went to look up my truffle recipes. I store them here on Livejournal so that I won't lose them, but LJ was down, and past experience has shown that they could be MIA for days. Now I have the basic mix committed to memory, so I tried to soldier through and make a batch of mocha truffles from memory. Turns out my memory of the details was faulty, as I discovered a couple of hours later when LJ came back. Fortunately, no harm was done. I used incorrect settings whilst melting the chocolate in the microwave, but my habit of checking the progress a lot caught the mistake before I scorched the chocolate. And mixing up tsps of coffee powder with tbsps yielded deep chocolate rather than mocha truffles, which were on the list anyway.

I saved a copy of the recipes to a text file so that I won't have this issue again. The irony here is that normally I am totally against storing info in the cloud, yet I have this huge blind spot when it comes to my recipes, all of which are here in LJ and occasional scraps of hard to find paper.

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Some observations of the universe...Collapse )

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I baked bread today, or rather, I took a bread recipe and made hard rolls with it, just to see how they'd work out. Just came out of the oven, so we shall see shortly.


 
 
DXMachina
Friday, November 23rd, 2012
11:43 am - Still Whining...  
Didn't make it to down to Jersey yesterday for Thanksgiving. My cough was just too bad. That's twice now in three years I've been too sick to make the trip, and it's getting a little frustrating. And despite knowing it was likely I'd have to make my own Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't bother to go out Wednesday night to get a roaster of some sort and associated foods. So dinner was some frozen chicken thighs baked on top of cornbread stuffing. I made the cornbread from scratch, so that's something, but no cranberry sauce, and no sausage in the stuffing. It was fine. Maybe I'll do something better Sunday.

This is the weirdest cold. If I hadn't had a flu shot I'd swear it was the flu*. Not much nasal congestion or sore throat, but I'm still woozy here on the sixth day and it's totally rototilled my lungs. The fever and associated aches have mostly broken at least.

* I keep flashing back on an old Law and Order episode where a bunch of people died because some doctor decided to buy really cheap flu vaccine that turned out to be saline solution. It was one of Jack McCoy's famous "depraved indifference" cases.

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With nothing better to do, I've been rummaging through the DVD collection and watching movies, something I rarely do anymore. Comedies, mostly. So far, I have watched Hogfather, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, Chicken Run, What's Up Doc?, Lilo & Stitch, and Lilies of the Field, although I dozed off early on during the last. I've also been catching up on The Big Bang Theory, a show I never really got into before.
 
 
DXMachina
Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
10:45 pm - Hyphenation Concentration  
It may be my cold-medication-induced haze, but it seems to me that marketing to carpool-lane-cheating perverts can't be a sensible strategy...



If you aren't familiar, Cumberland Farms is a chain of quickie marts here in the northeast.

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Still sick. This cold is much nastier than the last. I started to feel a little better this morning, but now the hacking is killing me. Still hoping to drive home for dinner, but am not planning to be very social if I do go. The last thing I need to do is infect my folks with this bug. Bother.
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DXMachina
Sunday, November 18th, 2012
8:49 pm - Odds and Sods  
For the second time in a month, I am sick. Low fever this time with associated achiness along with congestion. I was freezing for most of the afternoon, then took some dayquil and as the tylenol started reducing the fever started roasting beneath all the layers. A couple hours later I appear to have reached temperature equilibrium, at least for the time being. I had a flu shot a couple months ago, so it's probably not flu, just something obnoxious picked up at the elementary school where we play volleyball. I should probably buy some hand sanitizer for Thursday nights.

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Looking out my living room window I spotted two separate tufts of down stuck to the outside, the remnants of a real life angry birds attack. Poor bruised birdies. I get bird strikes on my picture windows quite often. I'm not sure if there's anything I can do about that.

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Things that take me out of stories, item the first:

Note to the writers of Law & Order SVU: Bernardsville New Jersey is pronounced BERnerdsville, not berNARDSville. I rarely watch SVU, but I caught a bit of an interrogation while channel surfing.

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Things that take me out of stories, item the second:

Not so much a pronunciation issue, but the characters on NCIS (original recipe) would never refer to highway route numbers as "the 95." McGee does this all the time, and yet his entire family appears to live close to DC. The proper shortcut term back east is either Route 95, I-95, or just plain old 95. The only exceptions to this rule are named highways: the Turnpike, the Parkway, the Deegan, etc., and the Beltway if one wants a DC specific example.

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And then there are historical inaccuracies in non-fiction...Collapse )

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Talked to my folks tonight. They were 13 days without power. The generator was a good idea, at least until they ran out of gas for it. They had to throw out all their perishables. Jane, who lives way out in the sticks, was without power for even longer. Yikes!
 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, November 8th, 2012
12:55 pm - Status  
So, after not losing power during Sandy, the measly little nor'easter knocked power out for a couple of hours overnight. I happened to be partially awake and rolling over when it happened (around 1:30), so I saw the clock and night lights go out. Wouldn't have mattered if had been asleep because the UPS and smoke detectors started chirping to let me know what was up. I spent the next 15 minutes or so gathering a battery lantern, then turning off the UPS and disconnecting the first floor detectors to shut them all up*. Then I called the electric company to report the outage, and went back to sleep. I woke up again a couple hours later, and power was already back. So no harm done, and kudos to the electric company for fast work. I even got a nice call from the Grid checking to see if things were working again. The detectors are back where they belong.

* Actually, the detectors didn't shut up since there seems to be no way to stop the chirping until their capacitors run down or something. So I stashed them on the sofa underneath a blanket.

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We got maybe an inch of snow here, and it's already pretty much gone. However, the wind is still whistling past the side door pretty well.

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I've been watching Arrow and enjoying it. It's good to see both Harry Dresden and Colonel Mann getting regular screen time again.

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Still can't find the frelling drill.
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DXMachina
Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
4:17 pm - Stormy Weather...  
The nor'easter is upon us; it's snowing like crazy out there.

It's actually been pretty windy most of the day, with smatterings of rain here and there, but now it's really coming down. It's 35° out there, so I doubt any will stick.

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This week's Castle was hi-larious, what with all the Firefly references, Ed Quinn and Armin Shimerman (Stark and Quark!), and cameos by Frakes (who directed) and Shatner. So much fun.

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Anyone seen my cordless drill? I was looking for it earlier, and I damned if I can find it. It's not in any of the usual locations, i.e., on one of the benches in the workshop downstairs. It's not in the last place I used it, either. It's got to be here someplace, but where? Bother.

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And 10 minutes later the snow is starting to stick. Temperature is dropping, too. Double bother.
 
 
DXMachina
Friday, November 2nd, 2012
12:54 pm - Flats  
As it started to get dark Wednesday night, I happened to glance out my front window at the truck and noticed that the right rear tire didn't look quite right. Closer inspection confirmed that it had lost quite a bit of pressure. Usually in these cases it takes time and a soapy sponge to locate the leak, but this time it was obvious. The head of a 2" drywall screw was sticking out of the sidewall at a 45° angle just inside of the tread. As it was getting dark, and since I didn't need to go anywhere, I left it for yesterday.

Punctured...Collapse )
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Speaking of Asbury Park...Collapse )
 
 
 
DXMachina
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
11:38 pm - Halloween  
Had a record number of trick or treaters last night, forty-two of them. The cutest was a little guy (who may have been last year's littlest pumpkin), who said "Trick or treat!" and then turned around to leave without getting his treat. Luckily his mom was there to point out his error of technique, so he did eventually get his fun-sized Crunch bar. I'm sure he'll eventually get the hang of it. The best costume was a pre-teen asian girl in (what looked to be) a silk, traditional Japanese pattern gown. Very pretty. There was also a kid who dressed up as a slab of bacon.

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No volleyball tonight because the schools in South Kingstown (and the rest of South County, for that matter) are still closed due to lack of power in many of them, one of them being Peace Dale Elementary, where we play. I didn't play last week, either, because I had a bad cold. Still coughing a little, but otherwise am fine.
 
 
DXMachina
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
9:51 am - Apres Deluge  
Now that cable is back on, things are getting back to normal here at Casa Machina. For me, the storm was relatively uneventful. Never lost power, although there were some flickers in the afternoon. Much of the town is reportedly out, although I don't know how current that report is. The gas grill got knocked over yet again, despite my precautions. I'd placed it right next to the house, so that it would be supported when the wind hit. Instead the wind just bounced off the house and blew the damn thing over from behind.

The big Bradford pear out front survived yet anther major storm intact. It has to be the luckiest 23 year-old Bradford pear in existence. My next door neighbor's Bradford lost another good-sized chunk.

The cable went at around 6:30, and did not return until this morning, which is basically the same thing that happened with Irene last year*. Of course, last year I went to work the next day, so I had at least some source of news about what happened. Not so much this year. In these modern times I get all my news through the cable, either over the net or by TV. It was weird yesterday having absolutely no idea what was going on at all, even locally. It was actually pretty nice here for most of yesterday, partly sunny even, so the view from my front window was encouraging. In the old days I could've switched from the cable connection to rabbit ears, but even if I had a set of HD rabbit ears, they wouldn't work with my obsolete TVs. It's a mild version of the technology trap that James Burke described in the first episode of Connections way back in the seventies. I suppose I could've dragged the radio up from the basement, but I don't have much faith in local radio giving me much of any kind of useful news.

* It's strange to me that cable should be more vulnerable than power lines. Losing power I would understand. Power lines are the most vulnerable of the wires on the pole, and they can't be reinforced the way telephone wires are (which is why the phone usually work even when the power is out). Cable is even lower on the pole than the phone, so I doubt the issue is physical breakage of the lines.

Now that I can see the outside world again, it looks like Rhody got hit about as hard as it did with Irene, except for the beaches, which were clobbered. RIDOT flew a helicopter along the coast to assess damage. There are pictures here. The photos run roughly west from Misquamicut Beach in Westerly to east in Newport, although I noticed the section of photos of the area I'm most familiar with, Narragansett, starting here, is arranged in reverse sequence if they were flying west to east. It looks like the surge even broke through the sea wall at one spot. If you happened to see any of the Weather Channel's live reports from Narragansett, they were made at the 4-way intersection in the upper left corner of this one. The brick building there is the 'Gansett post office.

I talked to my folks down in Jersey last night. They live a long way from the beach, but still got clobbered. No power, no heat, but my brother hooked up a generator for them so they have some power. My mom had just gotten home from rehabbing after her surgery. What a nice welcome home. My sisters are also without power, and Jane has no water since her well pump has no juice. She and the kids are camped out at Rie's house, where there is city water, at least. Word is, at least according to the city councilperson neighbor that my dad talked to, that it'll probably be a week or so before the power is back. OTOH, I suppose it could've been worse. A big tree landed on my parents' next-door neighbor's sun porch. There a lot of very old, very tall trees in the neighborhood. Dad had the most at risk trees in his yard taken down a few years ago after one landed on the garage.

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Now to go out and buy some treats to hand out tonight.
 
 
DXMachina
Saturday, October 13th, 2012
9:50 am - Status  
So, mom is out of the hospital and in a rehab facility to regain some strength. Things seem to be going well. I admit that Neil Armstrong (a man of approximately the same age as my mother, and someone whose medical history had been meticulously tracked for fifty some odd years) dying from complications of similar surgery put me on edge about this, but mom seems to have come through it like a trouper.

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It has been chilly and mostly rainy for the last couple of weeks. I turned on the furnace last night, in anticipation of a cold night, and, sure enough, it got down below freezing. It's been such an odd year temperature-wise. Temperatures were very moderate through the third week in June, then Mother Nature turned on the steamer. Even when then temperatures were reasonable, it was ridiculously humid. Then come September, the dial got switched back lovely. Now we seem to be getting a normal October, albeit a tad wetter than usual. Climate change is very strange.

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The weather has made my riding schedule sporadic. Yesterday was nice in the morning, so I mowed the lawn. We got a brief shower around noon, but then the sun came back out, so I was able to get in a ride before too early sunset. The ride was a slow one. I felt pretty good, but I think the lawn workout, coupled with volleyball Thursday night, left my legs a little slower than usual. It was also pretty windy. I seem to be getting used to pounding the muscles take in volleyball. I had an uncomfortable night of sleep as they stiffened up, but once morning rolled around I was fine.

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Speaking of volleyball, there is this whole time machine effect going on. My friends who play that I have seen over the years all look normal to me. But among the other people playing who were playing eight years ago, people who I don't hang out with and haven't seen or even thought about in all that time, it amazing how much most of them appear to have aged. Very weird, especially some of the guys who are much younger than I am who are now sporting very silver hair.
 
 
DXMachina
Saturday, October 6th, 2012
10:15 am - Jersey Bound  
Heading to Jersey for the weekend to visit mom and family in general. Mom is doing well and spamming folks with her laptop. Have remembered to load spaghetti squash in the truck for delivery, which is better than the last couple of years when I didn't remember to do it until Easter.

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It's been rainy lately, so there have been few opportunities to ride. Played volleyball Thursday, and went out for dinner after. That's half the reason I started going again, to get out of the house to socialize. Now that I'm home all the time, I rarely speak to anybody, other than to myself.

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I watched the entire run of Young Justice over the last few days, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I have a tenuous connection to it in that Greg Weisman, the producer, is the brother of Jon Weisman, the owner of Dodger Thoughts, the baseball blog I most often hung out at. Jon wrote of few of the episodes for the show. Alas, Jon retired Dodger Thoughts a couple of weeks ago, but for 10 years it was the best Dodger blog out there.

Time to hit the road.
 
 
DXMachina
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
1:53 pm - So Far, So Good  
My dad just called. Mom is out of surgery and in the cardiac ICU. The prognosis is good, but she be in one ICU or the other for a couple three days. Will visit this weekend when things are stable.
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