Monday, August 31, 2009

The trouble with gamers

My local game store is a great place. The owner's cool, and the staff have been uniformly excellent. Despite that, he's struggling. Struggling to the point of putting coupons in Valpak, which is a blue envelope full of mostly useless coupons that drops into the mailbox about once a month.

I applaud his effort, but I think he's made a slight mistake: giving gamers access to money-off coupons. We may not all do it in play, but there isn't a gamer alive who doesn't know how to minmax.

In my case, well... after Sunday's auction, I have store credit I can use. The items I brought in sold, for a total of $34; I believe that, combined with the coupon and a loyalty card reward that I'm close to, I have a sticker budget for that $34 of $90...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's happened.

All the Twos
Yes, I did have my camera with me, and I'd pulled in to the side of the road for this, on a residential street. Nobody passed me while I was taking photos of my odometer.

Really, that reading is no more significant than any other, but on the other hand, it's aesthetically pleasing to see a row of twos.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Doing it the easy way

So, I have quite the collection of recorded music. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of my actual CDs are still at my parents' home, and so I only have intangible versions. All well and good until I want to listen to an album in the car, at which point (thanks to the demise of the remote control for my mp3 player) I'm rather less than well-off. However, this Windows box does have a CD burner, although the various programs I had installed either refused to actually burn, or refused to recognise my preferred compressed audio format (OGG Vorbis; analogous to mp3, but less painful for my ears), and so I was unable to recreate my collection.

Until, that is, I found InfraRecorder, which is free (in both senses, for those keeping score) and actually does both.

And now I have my music in car-compatible format. Well, that's if my stereo plays burned CDs. We shall find out tomorrow, when the LA and I head to Berkeley for a barbecue with a theatre company for whom I'm intending to volunteer as a backstage hand. I won't act, but any kind of crew that won't tweak my acrophobia is fine by me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Back to the Big Shop

Yes, I've been back to Ikea. Now I have my own pans, a wok, and suchlike.

I also have... little better understanding of the roads surrounding it. They were the cause of a minor row between the LA and me last time, and this time, well, I got lost. Eventually I found myself on the right freeway, but heading the wrong way. Fortunately, I had a plan for that, and wound up taking the scenic route home. I do somewhat regret not taking the Cummings Skyway, though; it's a beautiful road.

And I'm almost at the point of having my odometer show all twos. When it does, count on pictures!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. The three allies of the entrenched, the vested interests, when they know that they are in the wrong, and on the losing side. It frankly sickens me to see the amount of FUD being spread in the health care reform debate.

The thing that's really gotten to me is the "death panels" rubbish. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that the legislation contains no provision for anything even remotely resembling such a concept, and the fact that any politician sponsoring any legislation which DID contain such a concept would be exceedingly lucky to remain alive, never mind in office, this arrant nonsense ignores the fact that such panels already exist in the US healthcare "system", and nowhere else in the entire civilised world. They're there. They're the committees that deny you coverage because of pre-existing conditions. They're the committees that drop your coverage because you got sick and now it's too expensive to cover you. They're the committees that set your deductibles so high that you have to bankrupt yourself, leading them to be able to drop your coverage.

Every time your insurance company finds a way to deny coverage, that's the death panel at work. They're faceless bureaucrats, and we can't even vote out the people who appointed them to signify our displeasure.

President Obama's plans actually abolish these death panels.

Can you imagine the outcry if any other insurance type were allowed to refuse to pay out when needed? We buy insurance as a hedge against the bad times. We pay for car insurance because otherwise repairs would bankrupt us; what the health insurance industry does is analogous to a car insurance company saying "we'll cover you, as long as you don't actually get into any accidents or have anything happen that would force us to pay out".

So please, everybody, look at the facts of the matter. Look at the legislation which is being debated, look at what is happening right now, and ignore the pundits, commentators and talking heads. You have your own mind, and you deserve better than to have somebody on the radio make it up for you. You don't have to agree with me; you don't have to agree with anyone. Just please, do your own thinking. Don't fall prey to the FUD.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In the dark

In the dark, you can't see. This is a problem when driving, which is why we have headlights, illuminated instrument panels, and illuminated shift gates.

Except that the shift gate light in my Volvo has burned itself out.

Now, I'm rather a fan of the Swedish Bricks mailing list's 700/900 maintenance FAQ, and it does cover this situation. The procedure listed is quite simple:

Shift Indicator Bulb Replacement. Shift Indicator Lamp. [Query:] How does one replace the bulb that illuminates the gear selector letters? [Response:] Here’s how it can be replaced:
1. remove ashtray
2. remove plastic cover under hand brake
3. remove two screws that 2. revealed
4. remove plastic cover that covers shift gate
5. Look under shift gate on left side for two wires connected to light
6. pull down gently on wires and the light appears
7. replace bulb and reinstall in reverse order

Now, after one trip to the parts store (and a certain amount of swearing) I have managed to ascertain that I can reach step 2 of this process. Now, step 1 is deceptive; it should read "remove ashtray assembly", as the ashtray itself is in a plastic box which covers the main fusebox. The fusebox needs to be exposed. Step 2 is a doozy; I have to disconnect the switches for the heated seats in the process of doing it, along with undoing a rather tricky spring clip. #3 looks OK (although I think they mean bolts), and the actual electricals should be OK.

Now I just have to hope that I really do need a 2721 bulb for this, not some obscure Swedish thing that Jan only blows once a year and only ships by trans-Polar reindeer, and that no more surprises spring up.