Happy [winter_holiday]!

May you have a very happy holiday of your particular inclination. We’re celebrating Christmas (hence the timing of this post, I suppose). The cats are amused by having a tree erected in the living room, and even more amused by the wrapping paper and other stuff that gets strewn around today. Our tree is sporting LEDs this year. I finally gave up on the incandescent variety last year because our strings burned bulbs out faster than I could replace them. It’ll be interesting to see how long they last, since it seems that, unlike the now-old-fashioned variety, you can’t replace individual lights on the strings. read more

Telling It Like It Is

There’s a good op-ed in the NY Times here. The early bit about the shock of coming back to the U.S. after visiting an Asian country rang particularly true for me, but the whole piece is good.

Fixing Things, Breaking Things

It seems like I spent much of the past weekend fixing things and breaking things. As previously mentioned the kitchen sink needed to be fixed. With new parts from Moen in hand I became far more intimately acquainted with our faucet than I had ever expected to do. After nearly completely disassembling and reassembling it, I can say two things for Moen faucets: 1) they’re really well-built, 2) they’re complicated. I was very glad to have the step-by-step disassembly instructions that the Moen service rep emailed to me. After a few hours, though, I had everything put back together, the leak was fixed, and the faucet works as good as new (perhaps better). read more

Garfield is Better Without Garfield

Chris just alerted me to Garfield Minus Garfield, a site that posts Garfield strips with Garfield himself entirely removed. In the words of the site’s creator, it is “a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb.”

I think the results are generally better than the originals, frankly. read more

Contents: One Computer, Frozen

IMG 0455

In a fit of gadget lust propped up by rationalization (“it’ll be great for travel!”, “I can use it to play with Linux!”, etc.) I ordered a Samsung NC10 netbook. The FedEx tracking info said that it arrived in the Denver station last night and it was delivered here this afternoon. This means that it traveled through near-zero temperatures yesterday, sat overnight in an unheated depot, and then rode around in an unheated delivery truck most of the day while the temperature stayed well below freezing. read more


It was -11F (yes, that’s eleven degrees below zero, Fahrenheit) when we got up around 7:30AM today. It snowed quite a bit Saturday night and Sunday morning, so it (finally) feels like winter around here. Most of the windows in the house iced up, even though they’re double-glazed. Here’s a photo of the front window:

Frost Vignette

Astonishingly Good Customer Support from Moen

It is such a joy to discover that there are still companies around who understand that supporting their products after the sale and treating their customers well are good things to do. I discovered today that Moen, makers of faucets and sinks and things, is one such company.

We have a Moen faucet in our kitchen sink. It was installed a little over six years ago, and has generally been an exemplary kitchen faucet. Recently, however, it started leaking a little bit at its base. Unfortunately I didn’t install it myself, nor did I retain the instructions after it was installed, so I didn’t really have any idea how to approach fixing it. (We paid someone else to install it because we had a bunch of upgrades done to the kitchen all at once, and as long as there was going to be someone here to deliver things we figured we might as well have them install them as well.) read more

Finally, an RSS Reader I Can Live With

RSS has always seemed like a good idea for staying on top of blogs and news sites, particularly ones that don’t have new content every day. The trouble is that I’ve never found an RSS reader that I particularly like. Either they don’t display the content well or they don’t keep track of what you’ve already read or they fail in some other manner.

I’ve been trying Google’s RSS reader, which has the obvious name of Google Reader and the obvious URL of http://www.google.com/reader and I’m quite happy with it. For starters it’s a web-based application, which means (among other things) that I can use it from any of the many computers and operating systems I have on hand. More importantly, it does what I want it to do and it has yet to display any really annoying traits. It’s free, too, although you need a Gmail account to use it (which is also free). read more