Shallow Thoughts : tags : misc

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 27 Feb 2014

New house, no internet

[My new office] I'm writing this from my new home office in our new house, as I listen to the wind howl and watch out the big windows to see lightning over the Sangre de Cristo mountains across the valley.

We're nestled in the piñon-juniper woodlands of northern New Mexico. It's a big jump from living in Silicon Valley.

[The house is nestled in pinon-juniper woodland] Coyotes roam the property, though we don't catch a glimpse that often, and I think I saw a grey fox the first morning we were here. These past few weeks, Sandhill cranes have been migrating far overhead, calling their wild cries; sometimes they catch a thermal (once right over our house) and circle for a while, gaining altitude for their trip north.

And lightning -- summer thunderstorms were something I very much looked forward to (back in San Jose we got a thunderstorm maybe once every couple of years) but I didn't expect to see one so early. (I'm hoping the rain and wind will blow all the pollen off the junipers, so I can stop sneezing some time soon. Who knew juniper was such a potent allergen?)

And the night sky -- for amateur astronomers it looks like heaven. We haven't had a telescope set up yet (we're still unpacking and sorting) but the Milky Way is unbelievable.

[My new office, from the outside] We're in love with the house, too, though it's been neglected and will need a lot of work. It's by architect Bart Prince and it's all about big windows and open spaces. Here's me looking up at the office window from the garden down below.

Of course, not everything is perfect. To start with, in case anyone's been wondering why I haven't been around online much lately, we have no internet to the house until the cable company gets a permit to dig a trench under the street. So we're doing light networking by mi-fi and making trips to the library to use their internet connection, and it may be a few more weeks yet before we have a connection of our own.

I'm sure I'll miss the Bay Area's diversity of restaurants, though at the moment I'm stuffed with lamb, green chile and sopaipillas (a New Mexican specialty you can't really get anywhere else).

And of course I'll miss some of the people and the geeky gatherings, living in a small town that isn't packed with Linux and Python and tech women's user groups like the Bay Area. Still, I'm looking forward to the adventure.

And now, I'm off to the library to post this ...

Tags:
[ 18:36 Feb 27, 2014    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Thu, 20 Jun 2013

The wonders of a pressure washer

Homeowner tip of the day:

[Before and after pressure washing] We've been repairing our fence and deck at home. One down side to that is that the new boards don't match the old boards at all. The old boards are grey and weathered.

At least, I always thought they were grey because they were weathered. But it turns out that no, they were just dirty. (Funny how that happens to fence posts and deck rails that sit outside for twenty years.)

The answer is a wonderful device called a pressure washer. You hook it to a hose, plug it in, and it shoots out a high-pressure spray of water that cleans anything. The results are phenomenal. Turns out that under that grey exterior, there's wood that actually looks like wood!

It does expose some flaws, too. It strips off all the sealant we've put on over the years, and it also strips off any part of the wood that's damaged or weakened. So some of the wood comes out looking a little, well, furry. But a little sanding would take care of that. Using a lower speed setting and a wider spray pattern helps.

[Before and after pressure washing] It's even more amazing to watch the pressure washer in action, and see the color change as it happens. Here's an up-close look.

We looked into renting a pressure washer, but apparently the ones available for rent are huge gas-powered monstrosities more likely to rip the fence apart rather than just clean the dirt off. And the rental fee is about what it costs to buy a brand new electric pressure washer. Ours is nothing special, just the one that was on sale at the local Post Tools.

The only bad thing about the pressure washer is that it makes you want to spend all your time sitting outside watching the wood dry to see how the colors will come out. On second thought, on a nice summer Saturday afternoon, maybe that's not such a bad thing!

Tags:
[ 21:50 Jun 20, 2013    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]

The wonders of a pressure washer

Homeowner tip of the day:

[Before and after pressure washing] We've been repairing our fence and deck at home. One down side to that is that the new boards don't match the old boards at all. The old boards are grey and weathered.

At least, I always thought they were grey because they were weathered. But it turns out that no, they were just dirty. (Funny how that happens to fence posts and deck rails that sit outside for twenty years.)

The answer is a wonderful device called a pressure washer. You hook it to a hose, plug it in, and it shoots out a high-pressure spray of water that cleans anything. The results are phenomenal. Turns out that under that grey exterior, there's wood that actually looks like wood!

It does expose some flaws, too. It strips off all the sealant we've put on over the years, and it also strips off any part of the wood that's damaged or weakened. So some of the wood comes out looking a little, well, furry. But a little sanding would take care of that. Using a lower speed setting and a wider spray pattern helps.

[Before and after pressure washing] It's even more amazing to watch the pressure washer in action, and see the color change as it happens. Here's an up-close look.

We looked into renting a pressure washer, but apparently the ones available for rent are huge gas-powered monstrosities more likely to rip the fence apart rather than just clean the dirt off. And the rental fee is about what it costs to buy a brand new electric pressure washer. Ours is nothing special, just the one that was on sale at the local Post Tools.

The only bad thing about the pressure washer is that it makes you want to spend all your time sitting outside watching the wood dry to see how the colors will come out. On second thought, on a nice summer Saturday afternoon, maybe that's not such a bad thing!

Tags:
[ 21:49 Jun 20, 2013    More | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Fri, 27 Jul 2012

A haunted clock

One of the local digital clocks has developed some odd behavior.

It's in a location where it doesn't get seen that much, so it never got reset to daylight savings time, and consequently has been off by an hour since the last time switch. But that's not the odd part.

The odd part is that some time in the evening, between 10 and 11 pm, it stops displaying 9:something or 10:something like it had been, and switches to 12:44. It will then stay on 12:44 for hours, usually all night and occasionally into the morning, before switching back to one-hour-before-current-time some time in the mid-morning. Then it stays at the (one hour off from) correct time all day -- it doesn't fail again in the afternoon to show 12:44 pm. It only does its 12:44 trick late at night.

Once I noticed it, I tried resetting it to daylight savings time, to see if that would kick it out of its old habits. After the reset, the time stayed correct through most of the evening (I had an insomniac night, so I had all too many chances to check it). But then in the morning, around 8 am, there it was, showing 12:44 again. It corrected itself before 10 am.

Definitely one of the odder failure modes I've seen in a while ...

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[ 14:55 Jul 27, 2012    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Tue, 11 Aug 2009

Breaking out of the Walgreens Infinite Loop

Ever get caught in the Walgreens Infinite Loop?

You're phoning in a prescription refill, going through the automated prompts, everything's going fine, and you get to the point where it asks you, "If you will be picking up your prescription tomorrow, press 1. If you will be picking up your prescription today, press 2."

And you mistakenly press 2 when you meant to press 1.

Now you're stuck. "Please enter the pickup time in hours and minutes." Except it's already past 11pm, and anything you try gives you "Please allow at least one hour. Please enter the pickup time ..." No option to switch days or go back to an earlier prompt. You can't press 0 for an operator -- they're closed, there's nobody there. But you can't just hang up, either -- what would happen to your order then? What if they marked it against one of your allowed refills and ... gave it to someone else! Oh no!

But I found the solution after some experimentation: pressing 0, when after hours, breaks out of the loop and schedules the refill for 10am the next morning. Sorry about the rush order, folks. Honestly, I would have been fine waiting another day. I just couldn't find any other way to break out of the loop.

Tags:
[ 09:36 Aug 11, 2009    More misc | permalink to this entry | comments ]

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