Healthy Choices

Tim O’Reilly twittled about a talk at a conference, regarding “systemic” change to cities and food choices to enhance health. Really? We can’t afford healthy, long-lived people! What this country needs is sick people, real sick people, people with low cost, short time-to-death diseases and infections. That’ll solve our employment problems and our long-term social welfare funding issues, all in one go. It won’t be as effective as the big rock from the sky with our name on it, but disease has the advantage of not damaging much in the way of physical infrastructure. Fewer people, faster commutes!

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After the busy weekend, I had a long day Monday, too: 14 hours at the office. I could take the rest of the pay period off, and still be over on hours. But there’s too much work to do, I’d just fall further behind if I stayed away. The last couple of evenings have been eaten by schoolwork, catching up on 3 days missed due to work, and one new class starting. I’m learning to program in Java! So far, it’s a lot like C, except syntax heavy and slower.

I did validate a regular polygon area calculation algorithm by using an approximation of the unit circle (a 100-side regular polygon, sides of length 0.0314152965 – it matches to three decimal places. A 1000 side polygon matches to 6 decimal places). That’s fun!

Sidewalks, Ringtones, and iOS5

Thoughtful neighbors fill the sidewalk with trashcans

Thoughtful neighbors fill the sidewalk with trashcans

Time for the last walk of the evening for Lexi. Up the street we go … and a couple of nights a week, we actually go up the street, rather than use the sidewalk, because some neighbors can’t help but block the way. I’ve even spoken to them about it, to no avail. Either they can’t remember that I asked, or they’re malevolent. Grrr. I really *want* to tip that stuff all over their lawn in response, but I’m too bloody nice to do that. They do the same thing, only more sprawled out, with bags of lawn clippings. Sigh.

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So, iOS5.

After a bit of finagling, I got it installed on my iPhone 4 last week. I’ve been poking and plinking around the interface in my not-so-spare time, and finally discovered that you (and I) can assign ringtones as Alert sounds. Huzzah! It’s more than just the ability to do that, but now I can create custom loops and assign them to SMS alerts … which is good. The default Alert loops suck for waking me up in the middle of the night when I am on call. So now I have an Alert sound courtesy of The Who, and a default ringtone from Van Halen’s Eruption. Empirically, it appears that the loop length cutoff for using a ringtone as an alert is 30 seconds.


Day and Duty

The day was successful, in that everything that needed doing got done. Shopping, coffee roasting, further research for school project, school work, lots of dog walking. Additionally, more of Marcia’s wall-mounted shelving started auto-detaching. So I pulled the balance off and patched the holes. I purchased two more 4′ wide x 6′ tall wire rack units (6 shelves each) to put into that space, and assembled them. Marcia’s already started reorganizing all that fabric onto the new storage.

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I was looking at the flow chart that SF Signal created for the NPR Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. It turns out that on the SF side, I only missed the top marks by not reading any of the Star Wars fiction (Really in the Top 100? Really?) and, it appears I’ve missed Connie Willis. So there’s an author to add to my reading list. I’ve read 85% or so of the rest of the books on that chart, too. Of course, I only just recently read the Vorkorsigan Saga, and Bob’s been after me to read those for ages.

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The worst of times for sixteen of our friends and family at war. Our condolences to the families, friends, and units of these fallen warriors:

  • Sgt. Tyler N. Holtz, 22, of Dana Point, California, died Sept. 24 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire.
  • Spc. Francisco J. Briseno-Alvarez Jr., 27, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, died Sept. 25 in Laghman province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
  • Lance Cpl. Franklin N. Watson, 21, of Vonore, Tennessee, died Sept. 24 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Spc. Garrett A. Fant, 21, of American Canyon, California, died Sept. 26 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • 1st Lt. Ryan K. Iannelli, 27, of Clarksboro, New Jersey, died Sept. 28 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Lance Cpl. John R. Wimpey Cagle, 19, of Tucker, Georgia, died Sept. 28 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • 1st. Lt. Andres Zermeno, 26, of San Antonio, Texas, died Sep. 25 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with a rocket propelled grenade.
  • 1st Lt. Ivan D. Lechowich, 27, of Valrico, Florida, died Sep 28, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Spc. Steven E. Gutowski, 24, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, died Sep 28, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  •  Pfc. David A. Drake, 21, of Lumberton, Texas, died Sep 28, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
  • Staff Sgt. Nicholas A. Sprovtsoff, 28, of Davison, Michigan, died Sept. 28 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Sgt. Christopher Diaz, 27, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, died Sept. 28 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
  • Spc. Adrian G. Mills, 23, of Newnan, Georgia, died Sept. 29 in Kirkuk, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by insurgents using indirect fire.
  • Spc. James A. Butz, 21, of Porter, Indiana, died Sept. 28 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.
  • Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Caleb A. Nelson, 26, of Omaha, Nebraska,died after his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while conducting a combat patrol in Zabul province, Afghanistan on Oct.1.
  • First Sgt. Billy J. Siercks, 32, of Velda Village, Missouri, died Sept. 28 in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered Sept. 27 in Logar, Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using indirect fire.

School’s started again

Can you tell that I’m back in class. I sure can. Actually, this week and next are likely to be the “worst” in terms of time commitment for a few weeks – I’m trying to get well ahead so that when the next class starts up in a little over five weeks from now, I can cruise through the tail end of this first class.

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The most interesting thing I read today was Jerry’s analysis of NASA’s new “old” plan. Sigh.

Weather Plus

The plus part is that the sun came out today. For a while. But there are still clouds. According to the gauge, we’ve had just over 12 inches of rain in our back yard in the last 15 days. Yowza!

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Things I think when driving:

  • Did you have trouble coloring between the lines as a child?
  • Is that handicapped sticker for your driving or for your parking?
  • You’re doing 39 miles per hour. On the freeway. With the high beams on. You freaking moron!

Those are the polite things, unlike what I was thinking about the driver of the truck sporting yellow livery on the topic of bobcat rentals … that truck’s driver was a maniac who cut people off, and exited a parking lot by the entrance-only path in order to get ahead of two cars. What a maroon. I’d make a phone call if I could remember the name of the business.

Oh, hey … Lexi wants supper. Ciao!

“Day off”

Wherein I:

  • Went shopping for food.
  • Paid the bills.
  • Took a nap.
  • Swapped disks around and reloaded OS X Lion onto Darla…

That last item may deserve a bit more explanation. A while back, I picked up a 160 GB SSD to muck around with. Since I was in a bit of a limbo with the Mac at the time, I chose to drop the SSD into the big workstation and load Windows 7 onto it. Because that box is a VM host (VirtualBox) and gaming machine, I put a 1TB drive in as ‘S:’ (for “Storage”) – that’s where all the multi-gig games are installed. It’s a fast-booting windows box, and that’s no bad thing, since it’s one of the few systems that spends more time off than on around here. But … really, it’s overkill for the use I put the box to – I can live with 40 seconds of boot time, and make the old MacBook Pro shine for a bit longer perhaps (probably as a media box attached to the TV downstairs). In that role, fast booting is an advantage.

So I snagged and burnt a copy of Clonezilla, and used it to image the SSD onto a spare 500 GB Seagate 7200.10 drive I had laying about. Then I swapped the Seagate into the system and it booted just fine, thanks. Then I went over to iFixit and pulled up the guide for replacing the HD in my model of MBP. It’s the same guide I used before to upgrade the drive from small 5400 RPM drive to larger 7200 RPM drive a couple of years ago. Oh, yeah, before I did that, I re-downloaded a copy of OS X Lion …

There’s a trick to that. Assuming you’ve purchased and installed Lion via the App Store, it deletes the local copy of the download as part of the install. In order to create a USB key that you can boot from, to install Lion on a new HD, you need to have that downloaded app, again. I’ve read several different methods, but only this one worked for me. Open up the App Store and sign in. Then hold down the Option button (sub-labeled: “Alt”) and do NOT let that Option button loose while you click on “Purchased”, then OS X Lion, then Install. That bypassed the checks that say you’ve already got it installed, or updated – those checks burp out various “error” messages, and won’t let you download. DO NOT then start to install Lion again, just Command-Q to terminate that, and follow all of the directions in this howto (also linked above).

So, I swapped in the SSD, booted from the USB stick, erased the drive, then did a clean install of Lion onto it. Of course, I’ve only got half the RAM that the Air has, and I don’t know about application performance yet, but with the SSD in place, Darlion (formerly Darla) boots nearly as fast as Agog. Wow! Now to get the software updates installed. Ciao!

Gone Fishin’

Brian caught a chain pickerel

And there’s only one way that happens… we went fishin’

We drove up to Maine last Thursday, and stayed near to Marcia’s sister up there. The rest of her siblings and their spousal units were present, too. A good time was had, great food was consumed, and the Three Consecutive Days Fishing Achievement was unlocked. Today we left shortly after 5AM, and picked up Lexi from the kennel at about 4 in the afternoon, then headed home from there. V.tired, but a fun long weekend.

Tomorrow, we unwind, and catch up on a couple of chores before returning to work on Wednesday.

Sitting here, looking up

I’m sitting here at sub-desk one, working on the Air and looking up at the wall (not precisely in that order, perhaps). I see two crooked pictures on the wall … and now I know the answer to the question, “Why earthquakes?”

Of course, it’s to piss off all the people with OCD.

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JoCo released his new album an hour ago. I’d link to it, but he announced the event on Twatter, and killed his own secure server with the crush of traffic. HO HO, JoCo! To help with the joyeous crash and burn, I did retwat the announcement myself. After all, maybe ONE of the 70 or so folks who stalk me on Twatter don’t also follow Jonathan Coulton. One can never tell.


Rain: an inch and a half since 11 AM, and lots more on the way. The sump pump is firing out about 2 gallons US every thirty seconds or so (2′ diameter sump, about 6″ at a time). We’re going to get a fair bit more rain, and if we’re unlucky lose power … but that’s about it unless Irene changes course drastically to the west. Right now we’re outside the projected pattern for even tropical storm winds.

I’ve been up the ladder once, unclogging one downspout. I also neglected to consider the angle of attack for this storm – wind-driven rain from the east/northeast. I just now swapped out the screen insert for the glass insert on our back storm door – it was driving rain through the screen and making a pool between the doors. So it was leaking in, of course.

More later if anything interesting happens. Ciao!


Or another starts-with-an-`I`, like Irene (and a bit like another `I`-storm: Isabel of 2003) … regionally, we’re sure taking it on the chin. Earthquakes (okay, a tiny one by left coast standards, but still), now hurricanes. Plague of locusts, anyone?

School-wise, I’m still waiting for the second grade to drop, the instructor promises tomorrow afternoon. Next class starts on or about 12 September: a class on Gerontology. It’s one of a few that fulfill a specific general education requirement I’m lacking. Later in the Fall session, I’ll be taking a class on Java programming. That should be fun.

I think I’ll walk the dog and collapse. It’s been a long week. Ciao!