Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pride and a sense of ownership.

That's how I'm beginning to feel about this house. The owner is... less than brilliant at getting things fixed. However, so far, pretty much all of it's been easy; the most complex was figuring out how to install the new latch into the front door, but in the end that was a simple drop-in replacement, and now one of our issues (that the front door wouldn't latch, meaning one needed two hands to hold the door and sniggle things such that one could close the deadbolt on exit. Now, though, there's a slip latch, so one can close the door and then lock it.) is off the List. We also got a big can of glyphosate for the Weedpocalypse; the... well, it looks like dwarf barley, so it's some kind of grass, the dandelions, the small thistles, and so on, basically all non-woody plants are going to be Dying Hard once I've read the destructions and worked out how to assemble the handy sprayer (and also gotten myself a pair of work boots so's I don't wind up getting nasty stuff all over my nice boots), and then I get to figure out how much area we have and reseed with the nice drought-tolerant grass seed they sell. First, though, it's the scorched earth solution, followed by the fun of cleaning up the results of that, and then once we have a lawn(!) I'll work from there. Repair isn't an option at this point, it's going to be simpler, easier and more effective to simply nuke and pave. Think of it as the lawn-care version of fdisk, format and reinstall.

Sometime soon, we're going to have the place nice enough for a housewarming.

Monday, May 25, 2009

*tap tap tap* Is this on?

It appears that internet is on. I've been rather busy; the LA and I were moving, we had issues with cable companies (we're now with the competition, rather than the almost-monopoly; it's cheaper and faster) and I also took off to go to Burlingame for KublaCon. I had a wonderful time there, learning to play a rather fun (and impressively nasty) board game called Zombiegeddon (if Gary or Joe happens to be reading this, I highly recommend it; great fun to Do Unto your opponents, and enjoyable even when you're being Done Unto, since unless you've an eidetic memory you'll lose track of the score before the changeover point), being introduced to the Hero system (impressively crunchy, and I only caught glimpses of it, but I can certainly see why Keith Curtis (check your sourcebooks; you may well see his name under cartography in the credits, and I know he's done at least two maps for different A Song of Ice and Fire games. He's also an extra in Army of Darkness, giving him a Bacon number of 3 - this is the sole area in which I am as awesome as he is) likes it so much) and getting very much sleep-deprived and hypercaffeinated. I also rather enjoyed the drive there and back, although 1) the signage around the interchange of 101 North and 80 East in the City could stand some improvement and 2) I want a retrofit autopilot so I can actually enjoy the views. Incidentally, when coming off the Bay Bridge on my side, for a short stretch one drives along a section of freeway which is simultaneously 80 East and 580 West. Work THAT one out! This was also my first time crossing a toll bridge (I'm certain the toll collector appreciated my pre-counting the $4; nice and cheap for a bridge as nice as the Bay Bridge) and the longest and most complex freeway trip I've made.

The con was remarkably cheap, thanks to early registration and not having to pay for a hotel room. I was staying with a fellow who I know from the forums attached to Fear the Boot, and we had a grand time. He managed to win a Kubla pin, too; more than I did, but I got a Vote Cthulhu pin from the Chaosium booth which is #485/500. Overall, I account this con a success, and have offered to go halves on a hotel room for next year's DunDraCon with him. That's it for my cons this year, though; we're all about saving, and I'm intending to save up enough of a discretionary budget to make it to Fear the Con 3. I shall definitely have to whomp up Savage Worlds, Burning Wheel and possibly Mouse Guard one-shots for that, and I'm looking forward to meeting more Booters!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Who are you to tell me what I can drive?"

The above is often heard from drivers of SUVs, as a response to people asking them if they really need their SUV. This, then, is an answer.

I am the driver who has to deal with the consequences of your decision. I am the driver who is now forced to hold up traffic, because I cannot see if it's safe to pull out past your oversized vehicle. I am the driver who is blinded at night because your vehicle's lights are at my eye level, so your dipped beams are worse for glare than my highbeams, and so cannot drive safely any more. I am the driver who will be crushed like a bug if your unstable vehicle should get into an incident with me. I am the driver who is cut off because your sense of invulnerability causes you to drive less safely. I am the driver who can no longer find a parking space because you are now taking up two. I am the person whose freedom you are disregarding in your exercise of your freedom. I've heard "If you don't like them, don't buy them!" so many times that I am sick of it, and sick of attempting to explain that even if I don't buy one, I am still forced to deal with the inevitable consequences of your decision to buy one.

"I'm not putting my wife and kids in an itty-bitty car!"
Well, sir, I ask you: what about MY wife? What about MY (putative) children? What, exactly, makes them worth so much less than your family? And allow me to remind you that the only reason cars are "less safe" than SUVs is because there are SUVs on the roads. In a car-versus-SUV situation, a car will be significantly less safe, yes - but car-versus-car is FAR safer for all concerned than SUV-versus-SUV. If safety matters so much to you, then drive a car and encourage others to drive cars. Everyone winds up safer, and less impoverished as they no longer need to pay for the ridiculous gas consumption of SUVs. Safety, as an argument, doesn't hold water.

"I want to, I can afford it, and you don't have the right to tell me I can't!"
I strongly suggest you find a therapist and work through your penis size issues.

This has been a rant by me. Now, if it were light outside, I'd go put a bumper sticker on my midsize sedan that in Europe would be one of the larger vehicles on the road, but over here feels like a beer can next to the SUVs that regularly cut me up. I'll do it tomorrow, I guess.

Friday, May 15, 2009


The move continues. The Volvo also continues to roll; today, I added oil (when I did my last fluid check, oil was low; now, it's good) and changed the air filter, resulting in a palpable improvement in driving fun.

Meanwhile, the birds' nest in the fake ivy is now a mass of droppings, and no longer contains the chicks it did. The little sparrows have all fledged, and all but one have flown. This is welcome, since we shan't have to rely on the new residents to not disturb them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Potentially more expense.

So, of course, having bought the flipping tape adaptor, my mp3 player has now decided to end its useful life as a provider of sound. It still works; however, the key component which makes it so good for in-car use has quit on me, leaving it useless for the car and highly inconvenient everywhere else. I might be able to get a replacement, if it's a problem with the plug-in component, but that's a $50 investment and the problem could well be elsewhere. I've not given up hope yet, but frankly it's probably done for as a music player. It'll make a reasonable portable drive, if I want to, but its musical days are likely over.

This means I want a new one. Now, I do need to specify feature lists here; I'm going to do so RFC-style.
MUST support OGG Vorbis, FLAC, MPEG-1 layer 3 out of the box. (mp3 is standard, but OGG and FLAC are rare)
MUST be operable to a basic level (playing, pausing, skipping etc) without visual feedback. (I need to be able to control it without looking)
MUST support playlists. (needing to be connected to a computer to make playlists is fine, but it needs to be able to support them)
MUST have a storage capacity of 20 decimal gigabytes or greater. (that's marketing gigabytes)
MUST output through standard 3.5mm headphone jack.
MUST work with Mac OSX, Windows XP, and Linux. (this pretty much means it should appear to the computer as a USB hard drive)
SHOULD be operable from an inline remote control. (this is something the old one does/did, and I like it a lot, but I'm willing to compromise)
SHOULD be directly connectable to a computer and/or a charger without extra components (something that was a niggle with the old one; it needed a breakout box)
SHOULD have a battery life of 14 hours or greater.
MAY support video and photos. (I don't want such, but good luck finding anything that doesn't)
MAY use Flash or hard disk for storage.
MUST NOT break the bank balance.

I'm frankly open to suggestions. It's four years since I bought something like this, I don't know what's on the market now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A lucky escape

So the LA and I have been moving. Yesterday, we had the gas turned on (PG&E's online system is a little funky, and doesn't do so well with movers who are getting a gas place), and got the furnace, water heater, and range checked over.

However, it seems the range check wasn't thorough enough. When I arrived at the new place this morning, I opened the door, took one breath, and immediately de-assed the area. PG&E adds a lot of stinky to their gas supply.

Turns out, whoever installed the stove completely failed to use anything to seal the threads on the hookup. It was leaking at a rate similar to a slow simmer. We've aired out the house now, but when I entered this morning, it was basically a bomb ready to go off. Noises about this one are going all the way up the food chain, because not sealing the threads is not only incredibly dumb, it's severely against code.

So, a PSA: if you think you know enough to hook up your gas, YOU DO NOT. Unless you KNOW you know enough and you KNOW THE CODE, GET A PROFESSIONAL IN. And sue his trousers off if he mucks up.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Really, really official.

Yet another signing binge today, as the LA and I bought me a car. The paperwork is en route, and once it's all done, I will be the proud owner of a 1994 Volvo 940. Somewhat of a step up from the early 1980s 24xs my father used to drive, way back when, but still very familiar territory. It even smells like a Volvo.

It also has a boot (trunk for the Americans) which would fit two, maybe even three bodies, enough backseat space that I can sit behind a driver's seat set up for me (at 5" taller than the LA, this makes a difference), lots of cubbyholes, and a tape deck. I therefore took it to Fry's first thing to invest in a tape adaptor for my mp3 player.

Tomorrow, I'm coming as close as I get to detailing it. Going to pry the pencils out of the seat runners, bag up the personal items the previous owners left in it, and so on.

It even has a name: Grigori, after one Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. The levels of indestructibility are expected to be similar.