Atomic Fungus by Ed Hering|
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|Tuesday, December 17th, 2013|
|#4062: I hope I can get after the Jeep tomorrow.
Today, Mrs. Fungus and I went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
. She's been eager to see the dragon since before the last one, in which we got exactly one look at an eye before the movie ends.
We saw considerably more of Smaug in this one.
After the movie--which took three hours--we went out to dinner; then we came home and collapsed for a while.
* * *I love this.
"Snow on the pyramids" is not congruent with "man-made global warming" unless you're a lunatic.
* * *More about the weakness of solar cycle 24.
This is the weakest solar maximum in 200 years, and the article concludes, "As time goes on a link between decreasing solar activity and the halt in global warming 17 years ago becomes harder and harder to deny."
The most fascinating sentence in that article is, "The sun right now is a magnetic monopole." That basically means that it has only one magnetic pole, either north or south, which is damned interesting.
I still don't get monopoles. How the hell does that work?
* * *Watch a Cepheid variable star demonstrate speed-of-light delay!
It's pretty interesting to see how each pulse of light propagates through the nebula surrounding the star.
* * *
Next week is Christmas, which seems kind of hard to believe. My work schedule is fair-to-middlin; after I leave the store this coming Saturday night, I don't work again until Thursday the 26th and I'll put in about 22 hours next week. This is both good and bad (hence "fair-to-middlin") but it gives me some much-needed time to get things done before the holiday.
For one thing, I've got a turkey to brine, a whole one. I picked it up Sunday and it's in the downstairs freezer; it's going to be the centerpiece of a delicious Christmas dinner. (And several days' worth of leftovers.) It felt kind of strange to be buying a turkey, especially a whole one; that's Mom's bailiwick, damn it. *sigh*
Well, carving the turkey is Dad's bailiwick, and I wasn't happy to be doing the honors in 2009, which was the last Christmas dinner I had with Mom.
Still: as an adult, I have to do things which were formerly handled by my parents, and that includes the holiday traditions. And it's not a sad thing; it's merely nostalgic or melancholy (or both).
I am looking forward to Christmas.
* * *
Tonight I took Mrs. Fungus on a bit of a drive around the Fungal Vale, to look at Christmas decorations, and as we drove through one neighborhood I saw a deer. It was a buck, and a pretty sizable one at that; it was a gorgeous, healthy animal.
...and it looked damned tasty, too, even though I'd only just finished eating dinner.
Ironically, the things Dad taught me about conservation are now topsy-turvy. It used to be that hunters were to avoid shooting females and shoot only males, but now the populations of white-tailed
deer have gotten so large that hunters are to leave the males alone and shoot females
. There isn't enough hunting going on to keep the populations down to healthy levels, so we have to limit the number of breeding females.
Animals aren't stupid, so they tend to migrate to where they're not being preyed upon. That's one reason why we're seeing more of them in town; we can't shoot them inside village limits.
The same goes for geese, which also have burgeoning populations, and for the same reasons. (Another tasty game animal. And they cost $65 in the store, so....)
* * *
Anyway, hopefully tomorrow I can work on the Jeep and get my heater working.
|Sunday, December 15th, 2013|
|#4061: No, it's not happening today.
Originally I had planned to work on the Jeep's heating system today, but I have decided against doing so. Why?
Because the current temperature outside is 14° and "feels like" 2°.
Friday, before work, I went to the auto parts store. I took in a car battery I no longer need for the $5 gift card, and I used that gift card to pay for a Felpro thermostat housing gasket. (Of course
they didn't have any of the $0.89 gaskets on hand. Argh etc.) I also bought a gallon of premixed coolant, because while I have a drain pan which is specifically for coolant and which I never use for anything else, you cannot avoid losing some of the stuff you drain from the cooling system.
But it's just too f-ing cold
outside for car work. If I had enough room in the garage that I could get the Jeep in and close the door--but I don't, and no amount of wishing will change that.
It's probably better to plan on doing the work on Tuesday, instead, when the temperature is supposed to be as warm as freezing, and (as a bonus) I'll have another day--Wednesday--on which I can finish whatever I haven't accomplished, if need be.
...and that also lets me take a much-needed nap. I got perhaps five hours of sleep before getting up for church this morning, so I need it.
* * *
Speaking of which--
|Saturday, December 14th, 2013|
|#4060: We're not going to have a coffee klatsch!
Last night Mrs. Fungus and I had occasion to put away clean dishes, and as we did she suggested that we get rid of all the coffee cups in the cupboard that contains our glasses, cups, flagons, and steins. (Insert several more synonyms for great justice!)
I recoiled from the thought initially, until I remembered the half-dozen coffee cups in the cupboard that contains our dishes, plates, bowls, and other assorted crockery. (Insert synonyms blah blah blah etcetera.) And which actually match the dishes in that cupboard, to boot.
Then I--realizing that we would never, never, ever
need that many coffee cups at one time--said disgustedly, "What are we going to do, have a coffee klatsch?" And agreed that we could safely donate about 2/3 of the coffee cups in the house. "Sure!" I went on. "We'll just invite twenty-two
or so of our closest friends over for coffee!"
We don't even have a coffee pot. *sigh*
Mrs. Fungus will occasionally get some coffee-flavored concoction from Starbucks, but I don't drink coffee at all. When at home, Mom only ever drank coffee out of one coffee cup--an orange plastic one stained with the departed essence of thousands of cups of instant--and we buried that one with her. Why Mom felt we had to keep all these cups is beyond me, except that she had a very hard time getting rid of useful things. (Depression-era, and then war-era, kid. Yeah.) It's true that of the ones we're donating, there is a complete set with saucers--but keeping them would mean we'd have more than twelve coffee cups in the house, and we simply do not need that many, so we're going to donate them to the church's thrift store. See what they can do with them.
Besides all that, decorating the bunker for the impending holiday meant some cleaning had to be done. The living room looks like a different place. We have it barricaded against the cats, since they were not raised in a house with Christmas trees and will destroy it (out of sheer curiosity, as well as giant sparkly thing oh boy oh boy!
This is about how it would go:
The guy who does that stuff owns cats. He knows.
* * *
Anyway, we got on the order of five inches of snow last night. It started about 10-ish in the Fungal Vale, and as a result I ended up driving home from work at 30 MPH again.
As Mrs. Fungus was leaving I dug out the snowblower, started it, and blew down the driveway. It took about half an hour, which is not too shabby, and as a bonus I finally figured out why I always have so much trouble starting the snowblower the first time I use it in a season!
See: this is the first time the garage has had room
in it for many a year. I didn't have to extricate the snowblower from a maze of junk. Previous years, I had to pick it up and tilt it at excessive angles to get it out to where the snow is; this year I was able to pick it up and hold it near level while doing that.
Apparently a little planning and foresight goes a long way. I primed it, pulled the cord three times, and BRUMMMMMUMUMMM
. I had to prime and pull a couple more times before it would stay running, but what I did not
have to do is pull and pull and pull and pull and pull and pull and PULL AND PULL AND PULL AND PULL AND WILL YOU START YOU MOTHERFU--
So apparently, in past years when that kind of thing happened, it was because the thing was flooded, not because there was anything wrong with the fuel. The fuel in the thing now is left over from last year, but other than a little cantankerousness due to a dry carb I had no trouble with it, and the only thing I did different this year was to avoid tilting it too far off vertical.
My only complaint with this thing is that I inevitably stink like two-cycle exhaust after using it, but I can't fix that without buying a new snow blower. I would, in fact, not mind getting a two-stage machine (this one's single stage) but those things get expensive fast
and now's not the time of year to go shopping for a used one.
I'm going to need to go buy more gas for it, though, especially if this winter keeps acting the way it is, and I really really really
ought to pick up a couple of spare belts, as I've been meaning to do for about three years now. I'm hearing tell that this winter is a record-breaker for cold and snow already.Gee, I wonder why that would be.
Look at the first graph at that link--it shows a decline in the peak sunspot counts for the last three solar cycles. #24 is half the intensity of #23, which was about 75% of #22.
But it's the CO2 and the CFCs! They're causing man-made global warmenating! We're gonna end up like Venus if we're not careful!
* * *
The new phone is a 3G phone, which is more than adequate for my needs.
What really gets me about it is how quickly it sends and receives text messages. It takes the thing more time to display the check mark graphic informing me that it's cost me 0.3 airtime units to send or receive the message than it does actually to send or receive the message itself.
The minor complaint I have is that the "vibrate" function does not do a very good job of alerting me that I've received a message or call. This doesn't matter too much since most of the time I can leave the ringer on--even at work--but it's still a check in the "less than satisfactory" column. It's the first one this phone's gotten from me, though. And it might be because I keep the thing in a case attached to my belt, rather than a pocket. So what the hey.
* * *
Last night while I was finishing up my closing tasks at work, I had my MP3 player playing Christmas music, and it was nice. I took the shipping back to the warehouse while singing "Holly Jolly Chrismas" out loud, and got a chuckle from the guy working in the warehouse.
WTH, I sing in choir at church, so it's not like I can't sing. Why not enjoy things a bit?
|Friday, December 13th, 2013|
So today Mrs. Fungus and I got up at the same time, and I didn't
feel embalmed when I did. I don't have to be in today until 4:30, and I have some errands to run, and I can run them without feeling like a zombie or rushing to get them done.
Kinda makes me worry, that.
They're predicting snow for tonight, 1-3 inches' worth. That's an improvement considering they were predicting 2-4 inches yesterday. As always I'll believe it when I see it.
I plugged in my MP3 player long enough to make sure none of the South Park
Christmas songs are on the Christmas music SD card. I'm going to start taking it with me to work; it can provide seasonal music for me at various times, as is convenient, but I don't want the thing blaring Mr. Garrison yelling "MERRY F--KING CHRISTMAS!" for obvious reasons.
I also wrote down the model number for my inkjet printer, and what kind of ink carts it takes, in hopes of discovering what it'll cost me to get new ones. I haven't been able to print anything with this printer for more than three years, because ink costs money; now that I have income and
an employee discount at a major electronics retailer it may be time to think about restoring the thing to full operation. I just want to find out what it'll cost me so I can put it into a future month's budget.
Also on the list is a longish (10' or so) USB cable so I can actually plug the damned printers in and leave
them plugged in. I've got a hub--had that since about February or so--but I need a cable to run to the hub from the back of the computer. That's definitely on my shopping list for today.
It just feels wrong to be sitting here at 1:30 PM. This is the first time I've had to be in this late in quite a while--if not at all--so every time I see the time I start to panic until I remember that no, I've got two hours (as I write this) before I even need to get into the shower.
Yesterday, during some of my down time, I created a ringtone on the phone itself using the voice recorder function. Dang.
Well--although I have plenty of time, my errands won't get done if I spend all that time just sitting here and rattling keys.
|Thursday, December 12th, 2013|
Today I went to work and got there on time, as scheduled, and proceeded to do...nothing.
For more than an hour and a half.
I have no control over my schedule, of course. They tell me when to be there; my job is to be there when I'm told to be there, and do what I'm supposed to do, and try to do it right. Part of that means trying to sell service plans to people, which is not at all a surprise considering that's how the company makes money: selling products and services. I'm not dismayed at having to sell service plans, particularly when a one-time repair on one computer costs as much as a year's worth of service on up to three machines.
But I can't sell service plans if there's no one to sell them to
. And when I spend a significant fraction of my shift standing around and trying to avoid terminal boredom because no one is picking up or dropping off computers, it tends to depress my numbers just a bit.
This morning, then, I managed to sell a single 1-year plan. I could have sold a second but the client in question had an issue with his credit card that required he call the bank and straighten things out, which kept me from garnering that second sale.
They've just started tracking sales numbers this past week, and already I'm on the bottom; I'm typically scheduled to work the least-trafficked hours and my numbers reflect that. Someone has to be there to man the counter even when there's no business, and I don't mind it being me, but I just worry that six months from now someone's going to tell me, "Well, your sales numbers being what they are...sorry."
On the other hand, these are not stupid people. One thing that's impressed me about this job is that my coworkers are all intelligent, and that definitely includes the people above me. I have to believe that they know when the store's busy and when it's not; that being the case it would make sense to put the least experienced guy in those hours in order to let him gain experience doing the job in a relatively low-pressure environment. (And that one time they guessed wrong
, I did a great job anyway.)
The other factor comes from the fact that we handle phone repairs there, too. If a client has an issue with his cell phone and needs to send it out for repair, we handle it--and there's no selling a tech support plan to a phone customer. That's 100% after-sale support and if their protection plan has expired there is quite literally nothing we can do about it.
I handled one inbound computer today. I handled two outbound
computers today, and then I did two outbound phones and one inbound. Would have been two inbound if that woman's protection plan had been up to date, but it wasn't. There was also the abortive attempt by one guy to buy tech support. And of all the customer interactions I had today--which was not a very busy day anyway--exactly two
of them were sales opportunities; the rest were all post-sale transactions. (And I did nail the sales opportunities, even if one couldn't be completed because of factors beyond my control.)
How do I sell things?
* * *GOP caves on fiscal conservatism because they really aren't interested in cutting the federal budget.
Somewhere I saw a graph that illustrated the difference between the budget with and without the sequester.Ah, it was here.
You see that teeny, tiny difference in sequester and non-sequester spending? That little difference is what we're now reduced to fighting over. That insignificant bit.
Even that pittance of savings is too much, too controversial, too politically dangerous to touch. So even that ludicrously small amount of savings must be undone by the Republican Party, because we just can't win elections when we're making draconian cuts like that.
But once the GOP is in control of all branches of government, then they'll start getting serious about putting the government on a diet.
I'm not surprised or shocked by the Ryan "deal" that gives the Democrats everything they want and eliminates the sequester, because I expected it all along. I thought it would happen sooner
, in fact, and I'm surprised that it hasn't.
* * *IRS is still being used to punish Obama's enemies.
Of course it is! Why wouldn't it be? It's not like there have been any consequences
for the illegal use of the IRS! No one's gone to jail or even lost his job over this shit, so why wouldn't
it continue? No one's going
to jail, either, because the press is strangely incurious about the political use of the tax agency as a certain political party's SS.
* * *
I've got just a little while before choir practice, so I'm off.
|Tuesday, December 10th, 2013|
|#4057: Heatless Jeep
So the Jeep has very little heat.
...I was thinking about this yesterday, on my way home from work. I've rarely had a vehicle in which the heat didn't work.
For the first few years of my driving career, back when I had The Blue Bomb
, having AC was a distant fantasy for me. That post tells the tale of the Bomb, so I don't need to reiterate it here. But the heat worked; except for the minor fact that GM put the blower motor so far inside the dash as to make it virtually inaccessable. In 1984 the thing started blowing fuses when the motor was on, and the mechanic's cheapest solution was to splice the motor wiring so that I had two speeds, high and off.
Replacing the blower motor would have required either removing the dash or cutting a hole in the inner fender, neither of which was an attractive alternative for me. These days, cars have their HVAC blower motor in an obvious and easily replaceable location, but it was not always thus. But it stayed warm in the car in winter.
My next car--which I really used concurrently with the Bomb--was the VW 412. That thing had a gaping hole in the driver's side floor, and it was air-cooled to boot, but it had an auxiliary heater under the back seat that sipped gasoline from the main tank. On the coldest night of 1989, I was driving it home from the bowling alley at which my friends had congregated for their usual Friday night gathering, and it was toasty warm in there even with the huge hole.
The 1977 Impala--both AC and heat worked fine for the 18 months that I drove it, before buying my first new car, which was a 1991 Escort with both AC and heat that worked perfectly. (And which, if it failed, was someone else's job to fix. Go go manufacturer's warranty.)
Same with the 1993 T-bird and 1995 Escort...up until 2003.
On my way home from the family Thanksgiving celebration in--1999? 2000? 2001?--I hit something laying in the road. I have no idea what it was, only that it was some sort of animal; it was dead when I hit it. It bent the radiator support and cracked one of the (plastic) side tanks; I didn't realize it at the time because it was a very slow leak, and in fact it wasn't until autumn 2003 that I did anything at all about it. I replaced the radiator and--since I had the cooling system apart--replaced the thermostat. The car was going on 90,000 miles, so it was about time anyway.
To this day I have no idea if the thermostat was defective or what. You can't really put a thermostat in wrong; they're designed to fit one way, and if you somehow manage to cram it in backwards the car will overheat. I had the opposite problem: the car ran dead cold all the time...and had no heat whatsoever.
On my way home from a D&D session in early 2004--if not my last with that group, then then penultimate one--it had snowed heavily the day before, delaying my return by a day, and it was bitterly cold. And I had no heat.
I stopped about a third of the way home and crammed some cardboard in front of the radiator, covering about half of it, and still no heat, so I stopped again
and covered the entire radiator--and got a little
heat. Whatever was up with the thermostat, it was wide freakin' open and my engine was running dead cold
. I lived with it the rest of that winter, and when spring came I put in another thermostat and got my heat back, just in time for summer...but from that point on the car had heat and everything worked fine, up until Dec 5, 2005 when the car was totaled.
I suppose it is possible that I was sold the wrong thermostat. The first one I put in the car fit the housing perfectly and was a virtual duplicate of the one it replaced, but it might have been the wrong temperature or something. Anyway, I'd rather have a car run dead cold for months than overheat once.
Red Escort--everything worked fine on it, both before and after the engine swap.
So then we have the Jeep. Prior to blowing a hose last November
the heat was so hot in the thing it was like to roast my feet when it was on. During the big blizzard when I was picking up my Ruger
I had to run the defroster on max to keep my windshield clear, and had to open a window to keep from roasting.
But that radiator hose blew out...and after I fixed it, and changed the thermostat, I had little or no heat.
I flushed the heater core using the method linked here
but it didn't work, which means I'm going to have to go do it again.
Now, according to the temp gauge the engine's warming up just fine, and staying warm--a bit cooler than before I changed the thermostat but not too far off the mark--so the problem must
be in the flow of coolant through the heater core. I get a little
bit of heat as long as I don't turn the blower up too high, which means it's not some cold air door staying open when it should be shutting; if that were the case, it'd be f-ing cold
in the cab even after driving a while, and that's not so.
So, I get to fix it again, and the sooner I do it the sooner I'll have heat. On the plus side, as I am now working, I have the money
I need to buy fresh coolant and whatever else I need.
I have some PVC fittings to plug into the radiator hoses, so I can fill the engine with hose water and let it run for a while after the flushing is done. Hopefully that will de-sludge and de-crud things sufficiently enough that I can refill with fresh coolant and have a fully functioning heater again.
* * *DOOM!
starts off with 37 reasons the economic recovery is "a fraud"
and believe me, that link is full of a shitton of not-good information.
The fact that I have a job does not mean everything is magically better. I haven't been commenting on the economy because I'm too busy trying to hold down a job to spend a lot of time on blogging, but nothing has changed
. The government is still gaming the statistics and everything is still massively shitty and things are still going to get worse
before they get better, because they have to. That's baked into the cake already, and all the monetary games in the world can only delay the inevitable.
The press and the liberal establishment (BIRM) (But I Repeat Myself) spent the entirety of the Bush administration talking down the economy, trying to make everyone think that everything was massively shitty...and it worked
because everyone knows someone who's out of work or underemployed even when--as was the case through 2006
--the economy is screaming along at maximum employment. The libs could shout, "Recession! Recession! Recession!" every night and it would gain some traction with the general populace, because things weren't as good as they were even half a decade earlier; people could look at the situation and say, "Yeah, it's probably not as bad as they're saying on TV, but things really are not very good right now."
The press and the liberal establishment (BIRM) have spent the entirety of the Obama administration thus far talking up the economy and screaming, "Recovery! Recovery! Recovery!" and trying to make everyone think that everything is just peachy keen now...and it's failing because things are not fine and everyone knows it.
Unemployment is massive, and the numbers are gamed such that only the terminally clueless think they're real. The stock market is soaring only because the fed has safety wired the printing presses to "emergency maximum", and quantitative easing is inflating stock prices. Interest rates are in the toilet, unemployment is widespread and rampant, no one has any money for anything, and health insurance prices are skyrocketing thanks to the government seizure of 1/6th of the economy under Obamacare.
...Obamacare, which is itself such an unbridled success that no one in the liberal establishment dares call it that any longer lest some shred of responsibility adhere to Obama and the Democrats. They're not even calling it by its official name, "Affordable Care Act", because it's obvious that it's neither affordable nor care. (Nor action, come to think of it.)
* * *
It's that time of year! Mrs. Fungus and I went out to dinner tonight and listened to Christmas carols on the radio, at least until Madonna came on with "Santa Baby", at which point I shut it off.
Dinner was nothing terribly expensive; there's a Mexican restaurant just inside the Indiana border which serves delicious and authentic Mexican food, and it's quite reasonably priced. Tuesday night is chicken fajita night--chicken fajitas are half price with purchase of a regular price entree--so Mrs. Fungus usually gets whatever she wants and I have that. Just the thing for a struggling couple! And I like fajitas, so it works out very nicely.
It sure is nice being able to take your wife out for dinner, let me tell you. I am blessed to be able to do so. It's a little thing, a simple thing, but it means a lot to both of us.
* * *
Anyway, it's cold outside and dark and I'm not working on the Jeep now. Maybe tomorrow.
|Monday, December 9th, 2013|
|#4056: Well, it's my weekend, finally.
As I was leaving work this afternoon I was treated to the sight of a huge ring around the sun with a prominent sundog. The last time I saw a ring around a heavenly body like that we got about six inches of snow the next day. We'll see.
Anyway, before I left work I bought a USB cable for my new phone, so I can download music to it more easily. Its regular price is $10 but I didn't pay that much; while I am not at liberty to disclose my discount I can sum up my feelings on the subject by quoting Heinlein's Have Space Suit--Will Travel
: "I paid a price so low I merely screamed." (...I think that was an editor's typo. I'd bet the original manuscript read "...I nearly
screamed" but it's too late to fix it now, isn't it?)
In any case I have further customized my phone by installing, as its home screen background image, the corporate logo of a fictional interstellar conglomerate from my SF universe.
Ringtones will be more difficult. There is not an easily identified place for them to be put; I think TracFone has protected the ringtone directory so that one must
buy custom ringtones from them. I may have to buy one just to see where they put them, and even then it may not be visible. (Bonus "craptacular" points if the ringtones use a nonstandard format, but the ringtone filenames I see when looking through the defaults all end with ".mp3", so we'll see.)Then again:
Just drop the files in the Audio folder of the memory card. Files under 300 kb seem to be automatically recognized as a ringtone, as stated in the User Guide. I noticed on my LG840G that they seem to be sorted by date. I've added about a dozen ringtones so far without any problems.
So, we'll see.
...and, in fact, I have just managed to generate and install a custom ringtone, so it looks like all that stuff, above, is right.
Now all I have to do is create some others. Whee!
* * *
Anyway, that's it.
|Sunday, December 8th, 2013|
|#4055: Snow, Jeep, phone, stuff.
As I left for work this morning, it was snowing very lightly, It was barely at the "flurry" level, although the past few days of bitter cold ensured that the snow would stick, and the Jeep had a light coating of easily removed powder when I was preparing to leave. I was thinking it could go ahead and snow like that for the remaining 17 days between now and Christmas and I'd be fine with it.
...to my surprise, it kept snowing all day, and when I left work it was snowing harder. The roads were covered and westbound I-80 was a parking lot; on my entire drive home the Jeep never shifted into overdrive because my speed never went high enough. It was about 35 on the highway and 30 on local roads, tops.
All this for not even two inches of snow.
But because of how the weather was predicted, I'm not surprised that the salt trucks were late in being sent out. The forecast had not predicted a lot of snow, certainly not enough to cover the roads and keep them covered. There were very few parts of my trip home where the road was not obscured with snow, and I had the 4WD on for most of the trip home.
I made it home safely, though, and proceeded to heat up a couple of hot dogs. Dinner last night was chili dogs and pasta salad, and there's plenty left over of both, so that was a no-brainer.
* * *
Today I discovered that--with the right USB cable--I can connect my phone to a computer, and it'll act like an external hard drive. So rather than go through all the rigamarole with putting the Micro SD card into an adaptor and then put that into one of my MP3 players, all I have to do is get a cable with the right kind of end on it and I'll be in business, and I'll be able to copy music to the phone much more easily than I thought I could.
It also turns out that I can assign specific ringtones to specific numbers. I just need to figure out how to get the custom ringtones I want to use into the phone. The USB connection will make that easier.
The phone came with a certain number of service days, but it reports that I have 76 left--which means that the service days I had remaining from the old phone were added to this one. My current airtime card was due to expire on the 24th, which means the phone came with 60 days of service right out of the box. That's not too shabby. (Probably it also came with 10-20 minutes of service, but that was swamped by the 1900-odd minutes I already had.)
This phone is easier to use and more convenient than the old one, and
--as expected--it has much better noise rejection characteristics than the old one did. I had to talk to my wife for a couple of minutes from work, which is a noisy environment, but I was able to hear her just fine. That's something that never really happened with the old phone.
* * *
It's been a long day, though. I woke up at 8 this morning, intending to go to church, but I simply could not get myself out of bed. Figuring I'd better rest up for work, I reset the alarm for 10:30 (in order to be at work by noon). I woke up at 9:27 and was unhappy about having to get up so soon. Then I remembered that I had to be up at 10:30 and happily went back to sleep for another hour, but when the alarm went off at 10:30 I was still feeling embalmed.
Nonetheless I got myself up a mere 15 minutes after the alarm and got myself ready to go. I brushed snow off my Jeep and Mrs. Fungus' car and left the driveway at 11:30 on the dot.
Work today was not the disaster that work on Friday was. Friday was an asstastic day, where it seemed as if I couldn't do anything right. In fact, plenty of things went right on Friday, but the failures overshadowed the successes.
Today was much better. I was able to help people and get some jobs done without making any mistakes, and left work feeling a lot better than I did on Friday.
Tomorrow I have work, of course, but then it's time for our weekend here at Casa Fungus. The following week I actually have Sunday off--next Sunday, that is--so I'll have no excuse for not going to church even if I do wake up feeling cruddy.
* * *
There are three kinds of people in the world: those who understand trinary notation, those who don't, and those that don't care.
|Saturday, December 7th, 2013|
|#4054: This 21st Century is amazing
So I got this new phone for $30....
I spent time adding all my contacts to it. No, that's not entirely correct; at the time I bought my last phone I kept all the contacts from my last two phones. Some of those numbers are for people I haven't talked to in nine years, so I decided not to add those numbers to the new phone.
Adding contacts to a phone with a touch screen is easy-peasy compared to a phone with just a numeric keypad, even if you do end up using the same "hit a key multiple times for different letters" route on the new phone. (Example: "Hello" requires hitting "44-33-555-555-666" to get the right letters.) The process on this phone is easier and faster than on the old one.
So then, with all my contacts loaded and the phone working, I proceeded to shut it off, take out the SD card, and put some music on it. I am now listening to my cellular telephone playing "Chomolungma" by the Alan Parsons Project, via headphones, and it sounds pretty f-ing good in the bargain.
It's an MP3 player, a camera, a video
camera, and it just happens to make phone calls. Dang.
I just have to wonder if this thing can handle a larger SD card than 2 GB. With a few choice ommissions I could fit my entire PC-based music collection onto a 32 GB SD card....
The only problem is, that would double the investment I have in this thing.
|#4053: The end of an age
So I just completed a phone call that should activate the new phone and deactivate the old one, hopefully transferring the remaining 1960 airtime units in the process.
"Did you get your pictures off?" No. No, I did not. Thinking it was a connection problem--I get one bar here at the bunker--I started sending a picture to my e-mail account just before leaving the driveway today. An hour later it was still not done; 1G is slow but it's not that
damned slow, and every time I got stopped by a light I checked the progress. Not once was the phone showing anything less than full bars; therefore there is something wrong with the phone itself and I cannot transfer the pictures to my computer. Argh etc.
I look forward to using the new phone. I played around with it a bit last night, just looking through the menus and such, and I think it'll be a fine upgrade for me.
* * *Could Higgs have done his work in today's academic environment?
Regarding the history of technology is kind of like watching a time-delayed video recording on fast-forward: once you get to the present you're abruptly forced to slow down to real time and it seems glacial. Digital computers invented in 194x, transistor invented in 1947, microchips in 196x, microprocessor in 197x, and so on--it seems quick until you think about how much time actually passed, and then you realize that from the time of the invention of the digital computer until the Apple I was thirty years
I mention all this because it's important to remember that progress seems glacial while it is happening
but after the fact you can look at how quickly things developed with some perspective and realize that yeah, it was pretty fast going. I mean, it's been 30 years since the Commodore 64 was a $200 computer, and now we have cell phones with many times the computing power of a C64. (I just bought one...for $30
. In dollars that are worth a hell of a lot less than 1983 dollars to boot.)
So when I read an article like this one, I wonder if such nonsense really has cost us anything? Because technology advances at an exponential rate--when you know more, you can learn more at a faster clip--it seems as if our technological level should be exploding, but in fact it doesn't seem to be doing so.Where is the progress?
Well, for one thing, it's not a smooth curve. For another, we're spending a lot of time and money on trying to find ways to make miniature circuits both smaller and more efficient, because that's what pays the bills right now--and research dollars are being spent in the billions by major electronics companies to fund physics research because
that's where the cutting edge of electronics is going to advance. Problem is, that's all incremental; the easiest work has been done.
And no one knows what the next big breakthrough will be, or from where it will come. Knowing that would be a big help.
I was thinking, this evening as I brought in groceries, about how technology advances, because I was thinking about how cold it was and how the clothing I was wearing to protect myself from the cold was not markedly different from the sort of things people wore 200 years ago. Some of the materials are different (and lighter) but my parka is still a heavy coat. Go back five thousand years--were those guys dressed any worse than I? They had only animal skins and hand-woven cloth to keep them warm, rather than space-age polymer insulation inside a nylon shell--but they were not less comfortable than I.
In 200 years will clothing have active heat transport, or some other kind of technology (of which we can barely conceive), so you need only wear a simple garment like a shirt or something to remain comfortable in 18° weather?
...then I came down to the simple fact that there's no way to tell
because God alone knows what kind of technological advances will take place. Sure, climate weave clothing may become commonplace...and maybe we'll just change the f-ing climate
. Correct Earth's axial tilt, perhaps, or find a way to adjust weather patterns to make winters more mild. Better clothing is more likely, but the latter idea is not impossible, either.
My ancient ancestor from 4,000 BC would not be able to conceive of a house that kept itself warm automatically
, without me having to tend a fire, much less electric lighting or computers or cell phones.
I think the thesis of the article Vox Day links is a valid one: we really do need to let our smartest people--the ones who are interested in and capable of working with the useful things, the difficult things--we need to get out of their way and let them think
, because that's where progress comes from.
The problem is identifying those people early enough that they can do what they do, of course.
* * *
Let me tell this story again.
A friend of mine, in about 1992-ish, was saying that his Chinese girlfriend never had to worry about having a place to live, food to eat, medical care, or education, because she came from a Communist country and her government took care of all that for her.She also didn't have to worry about what to think, as her government carefully provided her with her opinions.
People who idolize communism don't seem to get that.
* * *
Well: about an hour after I did the transfer, my old phone is now saying "Unregistered SIM". Power-cycling the new phone shows that I now have airtime and service days on it, and I'm able to call and send text messages, so the new phone is now a fully armed and operational communications device. Whee!
Now all I have to do is load all my phone numbers on it....
|Friday, December 6th, 2013|
I missed getting a text message from my wife yesterday.
I was informed of this when I got home, and when I checked my phone it said "Incorrect SIM card" on the screen. I powered down the phone, removed battery and SIM card, and reinserted them; when I turned it back on it worked again and the text message was delivered to my inbox a mere four hours late.
This led me to conclude that it might indeed be time to get a new cell phone. I mean, this one was new in...wait, when was it new again? I can't even remember any longer. Somewhere around here there is a post or two talking about how old this phone is but I sure can't find them now. Anyway I want to say it was new in 2008, but that's probably wrong, because I seem to recall using this phone when I was in Guam, briefly.Ah.
Regardless, it's damned old, and the SIM card error convinced me that it's time to get a replacement. But first I need to get my pictures off the old one, before it can no longer connect to the cellular system. And there lies the rub.
My old phone has one megabyte of storage in it. Most of that megabyte is consumed with pictures, at about 45 kB a pop, and the only way to get them off the phone and into my computer is to e-mail them to myself, and using the base CDMA system it takes approximately five minutes to transmit a single image. If the send fails, you still get charged for the time.
And I absolutely do not want to take this phone out of service until my pictures are downloaded.
I've already gone through them and removed the ones I didn't really need--for example, the pictures I took while working at Target of stupid things I saw, like the time the carboard bailer had been loaded incorrectly such that the chains were trapped in the bale--but while that helped, there are still plenty I want to keep.
(Google is being a royal bitch tonight; I can't seem to search for anything
and get a useful result.)
It's about time I got a new phone--longtime readers will recall that I've been musing over this very issue for quite some time--but it looks as if I'll have to wait a little longer to use it. *sigh*
* * *California is lying about doctor participation rate in Obamacare.
* * *Nelson Mandela was not the saint the left portrays him as.
He was a leader of the African National Congress (ANC), an organization designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department and many governments and intelligence agencies. He was also a co-founder of the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), a militant terrorist group within a terrorist group. He was tried and convicted for his terrorist and subversive activities within those organizations....
Here we were told, over and over again, that Mandela was a "political prisoner" and that his incarceration was unjust and a brutal example of Apartheid...when in fact it turns out Mandela himself was a terrorist
I knew he was a socialist; the revelation that he may have been a card-carrying-capital-C communist
does not surprise, particularly given the hagiographic coverage that the left has showered him with since 1990.
* * *Vox Day
: "The Scientists Who Cried Wolf". Very interesting read, that. "The lesson of the history of science is that scientists panic more easily than teenage girls."
* * *Saint Nicholas punched a heretic in the face.
That's before he was a saint, of course, but it goes to show that even (future) saints have their limits.
* * *
Speaking of cold weather, the projected low tonight is 12°, which is damned cold considering it was in the 60s just the other day. Actually it's damned cold regardless.
And we're coming up on ten minutes to send one fucking picture. *sigh* Good thing the new phone comes with triple minutes.
|Thursday, December 5th, 2013|
|#4051: Abrupt change of schedule
Well, they changed my Saturday hours, so I only go in for two. But considering everything, that's not so bad, and I'm still within a stone's throw of 30 hours for the week.
Today I worked alone for the first 4.5 hours that the store was open, and was mobbed the entire time. Another tech came in at 2:30, after which there was nothing
going on. *sigh*
On the plus side, I held my own. It wasn't pretty but I did it. *flex*
* * *
So: Nelson Mandela, that old socialist, dies--and Obama's remarks on his passing are all "I-I-I-me-me-me." What a surprise.
* * *
The other day I had occasion to look at turkeys, and saw a rather nice 20 lb bird that would look splendid on my table some 19 days hence. They also had a breast section from a turkey which should have been named "Dolly". That would have been a fair dinkum investment even if we didn't eat it until next year; recall please that this year's T-day turkey was bought in early December of 2012 and the one we had last year was vintage 2011. Yeah.
But Mrs. Fungus and I are between paychecks, so we left both birds in the freezer at the store.
In the "hell no" department? A goose that cost sixty-five freaking dollars
. Mrs. Fungus and I thought that would make a nice Christmas dinner, until we saw the price tag, at which point we agreed that was far too much fucking money. For $65 it ought to come with everything, including pr0n stars to wash the dishes and dispense post-prandial oral sex. WTF
...this year's Christmas dinner is likely, in fact, to be a beef roast. I have one (sizable) roast left from the quarter beef buy of May of 2012, and it's been awaiting a special occasion for its hour upon the stage; this Christmas may be it.
Unless I we decide not to flout tradition and have, instead, a turkey. A proper one, with legs and wings and all. That would be nice, even though it would mean not using cheesecloth to contain the aromatics. Well, you can't have everything. Besides, I finally found some candied ginger, so I could actually make the brine the right way. I just need to remember to buy some sage....
* * *
Mrs. Fungus: "Whatever happened to Jordache?"
Me: "Honey...the '80s came to an end."
* * *
|Wednesday, December 4th, 2013|
|#4050: Tell me a story!
Okay. Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after.
"That's not a story! It doesn't have a Chinese sorcerer or clam chowder in it!"
Very well. *ahem*
Once upon a time there was a clumsy Chinese sorcerer who turned himself into clam chowder. Then he realized that he had been clam chowder born in a man's body all along, and lived happily ever after. The end.File this under "bedtime conversations with my wife."
|Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013|
|#4049: Well, that helped.
I don't know how much sleep I got due to having to get up twice for the bathroom, and I don't remember what time we went to bed--but I got out of bed for good today around 4:30 PM and feel enormously better than I have since about Saturday night.
Nah, it's not like I needed the sleep or anything....
It seems like a bit of a waste, but you have days off to rest and recharge
, so that's what I aim to do--and my days off last week were less than restful for various reasons.
Thursday of next week is the 60-day mark at this job, which is excellent.
* * *
There is nothing in the news on which I feel like commenting.
Obamacare is still blowing chunks, and the press' desperate spinning of the whole thing--in their capacity as the propaganda wing of the Democrat party--to try to make it go away is not gaining much traction with anyone but the hard leftists. Nonetheless the new system is made of fail, it's not working, the Democrats own the bitch, and none of this is news.
I've already said just about everything I can say about it, and unlike Karl Denninger I dislike repeating myself.
According to Borepatch, "The wheels are coming off of the Professional Green movement."
Nothing I can say here
, either, that I haven't said about 50 dozen times before. Including
"I knew it" and "I told you so".
China, Japan, and the Philippines are still at loggerheads. Everyone in the region is pointedly ignoring China's no-fly zone but the US has sanctified it, which has to be one of the stupidest foreign policy moves since the Democrats withdrew materiel support of South Vietnam in the early 1970s. There is probably going to be a war there, but--again--that's something I talked about previously and have no current interest in further exposition.
Pretty much the entire world is still stumbling along the way it always does.
* * *
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas--the Fungal Vale is sprouting decorations and lights, and it's looking increasingly festive around here. Mrs. Fungus and I intended to get a real tree this year but that looks doubtful, so we'll be hauling out the artificial one again. We might take it completely apart and redecorate it...or might not, depending on what kind of time we have. Christmas Eve is a mere three weeks away. Egad.
|#4048: 35 hours in 4 days, and everything hurts.
I'm not even kidding. My feet hurt to my knees, my hands hurt to my elbows. I don't know what's going on in my torso but that's no good either.
Argh. Well, no one said it would be easy. On the plus side I don't work tomorrow and can rest. I need it.
The schedule for the rest of the week is a bit easier, too, but I'm still comfortably near 30 hours for the next couple of weeks at least.
* * *
I really haven't got anything else to blog about right now. I'm too damned tired.
|Sunday, December 1st, 2013|
|#4047: 28 hours of work in 3 days
Oh, good gravy.
Tomorrow I'm back to part-time hours, though; I work seven hours rather than 8 (or more) and it's the same for the rest of my week...save Saturday, when I'll be going in at 7:30 AM again, and then working the evening shift.
Can't really complain, though. I'm working, and I'm enjoying it (most of the time). Today I felt run down and ended up laying in bed for about 20 minutes before I got up--ordinarily I'm up on the bounce, a few minutes at most after the alarm goes off, but today I simply couldn't manage that, and my energy level at work was less than stellar.
Well, tonight I can get some sleep, and hopefully tomorrow I'll feel better.
28 hours in 3 days really isn't that much--it's an average of a bit more than 9 per day--but since I didn't work it that way, it didn't end up affecting me as if I had. No, the 12-hour day followed by two 8-hour days is taking its toll, and I'm not going to really recover before my next day off.
But that's how it goes. I can handle it!
* * *
I never used to wear undershirts, but since starting this job I've gotten into the habit of putting a t-shirt on before putting on my official GS polo shirt, and now it feels a little strange to go out wearing just a t-shirt or henley.
It adds just a touch of formality to business casual to do it, and somehow it makes me feel more successful. To my surprise I have not found myself sweating my butt off, which is a welcome revelation for me.
My Dad never wore t-shirts under his work shirts, not after I was perhaps 10 or so anyway. I certainly don't remember him doing so. I just never got into the habit of wearing undershirts, either.
It helps, of course, that I'm not doing a lot of heavy lifting or anything like that--I'm not unloading trucks or moving freight or-or-or, and since most of my workday takes place in an area about fifteen feet long I don't really move around all that much, so I don't work up a sweat.
* * *
And in the "end of an era" department, today I dropped my CNA certification card into the "shred" box at work. I realized I've been carrying the stupid thing around in my wallet for more than ten years. It expired in 2004 and had my social security number on it, so I ditched it. Even if I did need it (and I fervently hope I do not) the damned thing's expired
and it was issued in Iowa; I'd have to re-test for the Illinois certification regardless.
* * *
Now I believe I'll go take a well-deserved nap.
|Saturday, November 30th, 2013|
|#4046: 20 hours of work in 2 days
It does take its toll, let me tell you, and I'm not done yet.
Although I was in a good mood when I left work yesterday, I was pretty tired. Mrs. Fungus got home a bit after I did, and we sat together on the sofa and watched an old Twilight Zone
episode. After that, we went to bed, because we were both pretty well fried.
I slept like a man drugged; when I got up today I could have used more sack time--but instead I got going and went to work, and was there until after 10:30 PM, as scheduled.
It sure is nice to have a job. I'm not even being mildly sarcastic about that; every time I start to complain about something to do with my job I add, ...and you're getting paid for it
, and then I smile.
So tonight I was standing there at work with nothing to do, and my feet were hurting, and I was glad to be employed and doing something that employs my skills and experience even though, technically, it wasn't really doing much of anything tonight. It seems as if people don't bring their computers in for service on weekend nights. Well, who's to blame them? But it means that Sunday and Monday are the busiest days for us, just because of how people tend to do things.
No matter, though. Mine's not to reason why.
I did finally get some things to do around 9 PM, which carried me through to quittin' time, and as tomorrow is Sunday I know I'll be fairly busy, so I've got that going for me.
Even better: it's Advent now, and that means choir will be ramping up to do Christmas music. I'm not sure when we're doing our cantata, but soon, soon...and it's going to mean extra practice nights at church as well. I'm looking forward to it; Christmas season is the best time to be in choir.
And with the coming of the new year I'll begin serving on the Trustees Committee at work, which will also be fun. I mean, I expect it to be work, but it'll be fun to take part in it, too.
How much fun can a man have?
* * *The corrupting influence of money
even extends to science. Look: government funding of science is fine as long as government has no influence on what the scientists find.
The instant the government starts suppressing findings it doesn't like, though, you're no longer doing science but producing propaganda.
* * *
My feet hurt. Well, I expected that. And anyway, I'm getting paid for it.
|Friday, November 29th, 2013|
|#4045: Your wishes of good luck were answered
I had a very nice day at work today.
I arrived at work such that I clocked in a couple of minutes late--11:04 to be exact--and proceeded to...check my e-mail, review my training status (still 100%), and start working on Geek Squad Certification of a returned laptop.
The first few hours dragged past.
Things sped up after the morning folks left and the afternoon shift (me and another guy) moved into working the GS counter. I had a couple of laptop setups to do, nothing major, but they took a long
time because our internal WiFi was running slow
One was a Mac. And I'll tell you now, that thing was annoying as hell. I was just trying to install MS Office on the thing, but it has to download from MS and the download was dying after about fifteen minutes or less.
After trying repeatedly to get the damned install image downloaded, I discovered that if the thing went into any kind of powersave mode at all--screen turned off, hard drive spun down, anything
--it would kill the download and there was no way to restart it. The power saver was set not to do that if there was network access taking place, but for some reason the thing was ignoring that setting. I had to set everything to "never power down" in order to get the download to complete.
This is "ease of use"?
Now, when you do a big download on a Windows machine, it won't give up just because the hard drive spun down or a screensaver came on. GetRight
was a necessity in, say, 1995, but these days the browsers incorporate that kind of algorithm and you don't need special software, especially if you have a persistent Internet connection.
But after all that, I got the damned software downloaded, so that's done.
Things rolled off a bit after about 8-ish so I was able to clean up the place a bit, and then I learned that the store was closing at 10 rather than 11 as I'd assumed. About 10:08 my boss told me I could go, so I didn't argue with her and left with a song on my lips and a spring in my step.
The best part of today was lunch: they had Subway catering today, so for my lunch I was able to sit in the breakroom and eat about 16" worth of BMT and Subway Club sandwiches. I haven't had a BMT in forever, so that was a welcome treat for me--and I needed
My feet--my feet hurt a bit, but not nearly as much as I'd feared they would. I expect that to be a different story tomorrow about this time, though, as I get to go back and do it all over again for Saturday. Whee!
...except I don't need to be in at 11 AM tomorrow; I get to go in a little later.
The only thing that upsets me is learning that there was a doorbuster sale on 24" monitors--they were $99, damn it. *sigh* Oh well.
* * *GE is 3D printing engine parts.
Not prototypes but production parts
. If they can make this work--and I doubt they're planning to waste money chasing chimerae--then it means a new step forward for manufacturing.
There are some very exciting things going on in the industrial automation arena.
* * *
So now it's the Christmas shopping season. Are we having fun yet?
|Thursday, November 28th, 2013|
|#4044: It tastes so f--kin' good, you'll want to punch yourself in the face
That line is best when it's said in Sean Connery's voice.
Dinner today was the traditional. I brined a turkey breast section last night and cooked it today; we had real mashed potatos, real gravy, carrots, and crescent rolls.
The turkey didn't have a popper in it (it was supposed to) so I had to dig out a meat thermometer, but that wasn't really much trouble and the turkey was cooked to near perfection. Tender, juicy, and flavorful.
I made plenty of gravy this time and we actually have leftover. Whee!
Otherwise, we didn't do anything today and we liked it.
Well--we watched the Thanksgiving ep of WKRP in Cincinnati
before I started cooking, and after dinner we watched The Incredibles
, and the first half of Christmas in Connecticut
before I had enough energy to get up off the sofa and go to the computer.
Tomorrow--hoo boy. I'm glad I got a lot of rest today, because tomorrow
is going to be something else. Saturday and Sunday are not going to be any picnics, either, especially after tomorrow; most of my hours for the week are concentrated in those three days.
I'll live, though.Unlike comet ISON, which came apart while rounding the sun.
It would have been a sight to behold if it had survived--but seeing as its perihelion was a mere 744,000 miles, well...not much could get that close to the sun and survive the trip, particularly not a "dirty snowball".
Well, anyway, the holiday season is off and running, and the "black Friday" sales have already begun, and some of my coworkers are--even now--manning the registers.
Wish me luck, tomorrow.
|Wednesday, November 27th, 2013|
|#4043: White Wendesday, again.
Mrs. Fungus and I don't have a lot planned today, just little things--mostly staying in and doing as little as possible.
That does not stop me, however, from delving into a few fundamental issues about the finality of science.AoSHQ
has a post up discussing the radius of the proton.
Now, the radius of the proton is set at 0.88 femtometers because two experiments agreed. But verifying this figure using a third method returned a figure of 0.84 femtometers, and physicists have to figure out why this one reports a different number.
You see, this
is how science actually
works, when it's being done correctly: you take measurements and you use different methods and then explain the discrepancies, and when one experiment disagrees you don't throw it away. You must, in fact, explain
why its results are invalid. You publish all the data in both raw and processed form.
But wait--if we apply the kind of science used by climatologists, why are these physicists not simply denoucing the third experiment as having been done by proton size deniers? The science is settled and there is concensus that the radius of a proton is 0.88 femtometers, and there's no use in further experimentation to refine that number because we all agree, and only a criminal or a lunatic could possibly disagree with us.
Climatology, however, is not science. Someday it's going to be consigned to the same dustbin that holds phrenology and a host of other nonsense which was deemed legitimate at the time but has since been deemed arrant nonsense.
I'm going to say it again: the science is never
settled, except in a few very limited cases, because the more you know about the fundamental functioning of the universe the more you can see how the pieces fit together. The best example is the Laws of Thermodynamics, which have never, never, ever been falsified. We call them "laws" because of that.
The Law of Universal Gravitation--some theories call that one into question now, even though it was previously considered "settled science", because the universe is not acting as if it's the case. The alternative explanations require other equally unlikely solutions to the problems. (I would wager that the solution is, in fact, very simple and requires no new theory, but does require an Einstein or a Feynman to see it.) So even laws aren't safe, because they're built on an imperfect understanding of how the world works.
It's just how things are.
* * *
Mrs. Fungus is playing WoW and it sure sounds like she's having a good time. So what am I doing here?