Saw one Friday night; I'd grilled hot dogs for dinner, and I went outside to put the grill away once it had cooled down, looked up, and actually saw a meteor through a gap in the clouds.
Saturday night it was severe clear, but events prevented an extended viewing session. Today it's cloudy again.
Well, maybe next year.
* * *
One of the things I noticed about this fancy Canon inkjet printer is that the ink cartridges have LEDs in them. They light up when you put them in, and when you go to change a cart they stay dark if they are empty. Last night I got to looking at one that I'd left on my desk--I'd been trying to print the latest pages of Apocalyptic Visions and had to put a magenta cart in so I could print black text, WTF CANON--and wondered if the LED was in the carriage or the cart itself. It looked like there was a light pipe, which is just a piece of lucite molded the right way. After some investigation I found that while you could shine a light on the bottom of the cart near the front, and have it light the window, it wasn't because there was a light pipe.
The ink cartridge is just a box with ink in it; the printhead is separate and the cart feeds ink to it. There is a flexible PCB attached to the cart, about half the size of a postage stamp. This tiny bit of flexible plastic has on it an 8-pin IC, three components which are so small that I can't tell what they do, and an LED, all surface-mount devices. That LED is what lights up to tell you the cart's gone in right and still has ink in it.
I have no idea what the IC is that's on the thing. I couldn't see any identifying information, and sadly in the process of trying to get the PCB off the IC came off it, so I can't probe around with a meter or anything. There are four rivets holding the PCB onto the cart, but further the IC is potted to the cart with a bit of hot-melt glue. There are no other connections, though, leading me to conclude that the sole function of this circuit is to tell the printer that it's a genuine Canon cartridge.
Because of course inkjet printers are sold on the Gilette razor model: sell the handles extra-cheap and charge through the anus for the razor blades. Same deal here; sell the printer at cost and make your profit on the ink.
But of course if someone can sell ink for your printer for less, that makes it a problem for you. MSRP on a full set of ink carts is $70; if you were able to buy it from someone else for less, Canon wouldn't make any money. And of course printer manufacturers sue people under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to keep them from reverse-engineering that little circuit board and making one that acts the same as theirs does, thus enabling them to sell ink carts that are just as good but for less money, taking profit away from the printer manufacturer.
This is why I prefer laser printers, though in fact laser printers aren't any better in this regard. You just get more pages out of a cartridge before you need to buy toner. But I have seen color laser printers--with starter toner--advertised for a lower price than the toner refill kit the thing needs. I mean, you spend $290 on the printer, and print maybe a thousand pages, and then the refill costs $320 for about 2,000 pages--why not just toss the printer and buy a new one? Other than the obvious moral objection to throwing away a perfectly good printer?
But when it comes right down to it, laser is the way to go, because your cost-per-page is so much lower. $70 worth of ink will get you a thousand pages, maybe; the same dollar amount of toner will get you 2,000, 3,000 pages at least, albeit monochrome. How often do you really need to print color? I seldom want to print color, and even when I do want to I rarely need color printing.
Like the other night--I just wanted to run off three pages of writing, and didn't need color for it--why did the printer insist on having its empty magenta cart filled? Why couldn't I print monochrome without it when there's plenty of black ink in the damned thing.
(Actually, I know why: to make sure I buy cartridges. Argh etc.)
* * *
Thinking about upgrades to the bunker:
Once everything is done with--all the remaining crap from the estate--I'm thinking about how I'd like to insulate and drywall the garage. The outer walls are unfinished--just bare studs--and it'd be nice to have the place be a little nicer-looking. I can use that to learn how to tape drywall; then paint in there. Clean the floor and put down epoxy. Get an electrician to run a 240V line for me, so I can run a compressor that can run my air tools for more than a few seconds at a time, and have a spare 240V socket for a good welder. Someday I'd like to build a powdercoating oven; that could share that other socket.
And while I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony.
Definitely want to rebuild the fence in the front yard. That's going to be a project, but not a hard one, and I think the most difficult part of it will simply be getting it aligned correctly. The north-south part won't be hard at all, since it still exists, but reinstating the east-west part--I don't know when that was torn out, but it's been a long time, so I'm not likely to find the old posts in the ground. I'll have to run a plumb line and line 'em up that way.
New lumber all around, and then a good sealing paint to make it nice and white.
When that's done, I'm going to see if I can't rent a roto-tiller long enough to grind up the topsoil over the tulips and daffodils, and clear some away; then lay down a nice thick layer of mulch. That'll make clearing the weeds a lot easier. I'll have to clear out the sumac trees again, of course, but that's going to be an ongoing struggle for a little while.
The landscaping north of the driveway needs...something. The flagstone wall has slumped and is coming apart. The patch is overgrown with all kinds of trees and bushes. There are flowers planted there, but you can't see them through the other stuff. There's a dead walnut tree in the middle of it.
One option is, of course, to clear the whole damned thing out entirely and plant sod. Get rid of the foliage and flagstones, re-grade, and grass it over.
The other option is to rebuild it. Still need to clear a lot of foliage from it, but then I'd also have to tear the wall apart and rebuild it--maybe using a different kind of stone--and regrade it with new soil.
That one's going to take some thinking. But some of those trees have got to come down, and I don't think I'm equipped to do it.
Meanwhile, the entire rest of the front of the house needs landscaping as well. The bushes are overgrown with morning glory and grape vines. Everything needs clearing and then pruning and then mulching underneath--mulch or stone or something, and a good weed barrier besides.
The driveway needs to be sealcoated.
The interior? The interior needs painting. I have to do something about the bathtub surround, and fix the shower in the master bath; and then there's that leaky drain pipe to consider. Half a dozen other little things that need attending. But even taken in aggregate, it's all a lot less work than the landscaping is!
I can already see that this is going to be like fixing an old car. The "might as wells" will get you every time.