July 17th, 2011

#2813: Saturday's post on Sunday morning

...because I was sleeping a lot on Saturday.

It's been kind of an annoying week, and it wasn't made better by a visit from the Jehova's Witnesses this afternoon. A filipino woman asking to speak to my Mom--yeah, that's good, nothing like a double whammy: remind me of my Mom's death and the bullshit handed to me by a filipina barely four years ago.


The whole fiancee thing makes my brain ache anyway. It only serves to remind me how spectacularly unlucky I've been since 2001.

* * *

I had intended to have beef stroganoff for dinner, but I ended up sleeping badly at night and making up for it in the afternoon, so around 6:45 I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut.

They had a special--any pizza for $10, carry-out only--so I got a large Super Supreme, and went and got it. That improved my mood considerably.

The other thing that helped was that I did a random with Emwyn; and this time instead of switching to balance spec and using Moonkin form, I stayed in Feral spec and used my cat form. This works much better than moonkin--I do a hell of a lot more damage--and I discovered something else.

In one fight (we were in Utgarde Keep) the tank got killed; I switched to bear form and substitute-tanked the rest of the mob--and did a pretty fair job at it. So I think from now on I won't even bother switching to balance spec, except to assign talent points, because I find it utterly useless.

I am splattering monsters at my level in bear form.

* * *

Last night (Friday night) I was playing WoW and suddenly came down with a hankering to listen to the Ladyhawke soundtrack. I had to dig a bit (only a bit) to find it, as it wasn't on the hard drive, but I found it, dumped it to the HD, and ran WinAmp.

(I also copied the Buckaroo Banzai OST to the hard drive.)

I discovered that if you listen to the Ladyhawke OST while flying around in bird form in WoW, it becomes an adventure in itself.

The Ladyhawke OST was written by Andrew Powell. He's the guy who did all the orchestral arrangements for various songs done by the Alan Parsons Project (APP). The Ladyhawke OST was engineered by Parsons--the same as every single APP album ever--and in fact it turns out that while Eric Woolfson and Alan Parsons are credited with writing all the songs, in fact Eric Woolfson did the bulk of the songwriting. Alan Parsons mainly was a sound engineer who really knows his stuff, knows how to make music sound good, and his input into the songs mainly came from that angle. (He did write the instrumentals.) All the musicians who appeared on the APP albums took part in the production of the Ladyhawke OST. And it was the accompanyment for a movie, which makes it kind of a concept album--and all the APP albums were concept albums.

It is, in effect, another APP album. If you're a Projectologist (as I am) you can hear all the elements of a typical APP album right frickin' there with the exception of vocals by Eric Woolfson; there are no vocal tracks on the album.

...listening to it in 2011, it sounds horribly dated and just a little cheesy in spots. But this soundtrack was nominated for an Oscar...the same year that Amadeus was released. *sigh* Guess which film won the Oscar for "Best score"? (Hint: it was not written by a living composer.)

There is, in fact, another faux-Parsons album out there. It's by a band called Keats, and the album is eponymous. Engineer: Alan Parsons. Band members: a bunch of the guys who played instruments and sang for APP. Only difference? The band members wrote the songs.

Another interesting tie-in: the Kansas album "In The Spirit of Things". Engineered by Parsons, orchestral arrangements by Andrew Powell...and it was a concept album.

APP never toured before their album "Try Anything Once", mainly because Parsons himself was of the opinion that no one would understand why the star of the show was in the engineering booth instead of on stage. He's a capable enough musician but he's first and foremost a sound engineer--but I gather that the man did perform on stage and left the sound engineering to others during their tour.

I curse the fact that I didn't know when or where they toured until after the bleeding fact. If I had known about that show before it happened I WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE. Shit.

* * *

It's a hell of a thing when you feel as if people are avoiding you because you were in the psych ward. My brother has been down here once; my sister-in-law and their kids, not at all.

Of course they're busy people, and they keep their kids busy with about 50,000 things, too; but it'd be nice if they came down here once in a while. Well--there's still the back patio to tear out, and thanke to a suggestion from Og I have the beginnings of an idea how to accomplish it. I'm going to make the suggestion to my brother and see what he thinks--but me and him and the rest of that crew could make an afternoon of it, and be done with it.

* * *

I almost took the Fiero to Pizza Hut this evening, but decided against it. I still need to adjust the brakes on that thing. They work well enough, but I'd prefer to have more authority; right now the car will stop moderately fast but the brakes won't lock up, and they ought to be locking up.

It's possible that I got the wrong rear rotors for it, but I won't know that until I get the rear wheels off and measure them and check against the specs in the manual. There's an adjustment procedure that requires a shim, a couple screwdrivers, and a working parking brake, but I think if I can get a pair of vice-grips on the parking brake lever on the calipers, I can get some of the excess travel worked out. It's worth a shot, anyway.

There was a car show south of here, in Goodenow Grove (a forest preserve) that I totally forgot about until I got the flyer this afternoon. I saw an ad for it in the local weekly paper. Oh well.

Cruise night on Monday, of course, but it's going to be so bloody hot I'm not sure I want to go this week. *sigh*

* * *

Jeeze, it's already 2 AM. WTF.

#2814: Hot day today

11:30 AM and 94°. Nineties projected as far as the eye can see. Thermostat's at 78, temperature's at 78, and the AC isn't running. I'm just a bit on the warm side of comfortable. Perfect!

Last night it was a bit warm in here, though. I slept without covers and was fine.

...the funny thing: it can be 80 degrees in here, and with the fan next to the bed on medium I need a blanket. Go figure.

* * *

Because of something that wasn't quite an anxiety attack, I couldn't sleep until I took a Xanax. I ended up finishing Rampage of Haruhi Suzumiya. That volume collects "Endless Eight", "Snow Mountain Syndrome", and "Day of Saggitarius"; "Snow Mountain Syndrome" is the first new story in the series that I've read since Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya. (New to me, I mean.)

Next up is The Wavering of Haruhi Suzumiya and it begins with "Live a Live", the story of the cultural festival.

* * *

Unfortunately, I want a new ereader.

The Aluratek is good at two things: being inexpensive and displaying text. It's even pretty good at displaying pictures, and as previously noted it's better than nothing at playing MP3s. Everything else, it's bad at.

Eh? "What's 'everything else'?"

1) Charging its internal battery.

If you ever leave the thing sit for more than a few weeks, the battery dies completely--so completely that from then on the charging system is utterly wonky. I plug it in, it displays the "charging" screen for a couple seconds, then reports a full battery. Unplug it, try to use it, "low voltage, please charge" pops up. Even if you manage to get the thing to go to a charging screen and stay there, it stays there permanently. ...and if you're lucky, when you go to use it, you've got 2/3 of a charge at most.

The problem, of course, is that there's no programming for a complete shutdown of the thing if the battery goes too low while it's on standby. Bad design. (This is why I'd prefer one that runs on AA batteries....)

2) Not needing a hard reset virtually every time I use it.

Because the battery's wonky, the thing exhibits weird and asinine behavior. Unplugging it after it's been charged sometimes results in a hard reset. Sometimes it will just continue to display the "fully charged" graphic after the cord is unplugged, which ends up requiring a hard reset. In either case, that means rebooting from a complete shutdown state, and a reboot takes at least 30 seconds.

3) Connecting to a computer via USB port.

I've never been able to copy files from the computer to the SD card in the unit. If it's to work at all, I have to copy files one-by-one. This is fine when it's just a couple of files, but if I try to (say) dump the entirety of the Futari Ecchi manga--several hundred .JPGs--to the thing, it dies partway through copying one of the files and I have to cancel.

I had to figure out a workaround using my cheapo GPX MP3 player to get stuff onto the SD card.


If you look at the FAQ page for the thing, there are a bunch of answers for charging problems...and they're all approximately "reset and do X". One says, "If you're still having trouble after [doing all this shit] contact technical support." *sigh*

Well, I've just upgraded the firmware; maybe that will help. And maybe it won't. I'll let you know.

Either way, I'm starting to think again about getting me a Kindle DX.

* * *

Side point: I just had my suspicion that the Aluratek is powered by Linux confirmed; now when I plug it into the USB port it shows up as "Linux Jetbook blah blah blah".

The days of custom firmware for embedded applications is long over, I guess.

* * *

The usual stupidity has occurred with my sleep pattern. I went to bed about 3 and couldn't sleep; see above, "anxiety attack". For the most part, this time it was this inchoate sense of dread, a feeling of impending disaster--something approximating "we're all going to die or go to jail or something equally horrible".

...so I took the Xanax and fell asleep, and woke up at 11 feeling embalmed but in good enough shape to get up, feed the cats, have a slice of cold pizza, and blog. Still, once this is done I'm hitting the hay again, because I'm still feeling kind of embalmed and it's dreadfully hot outside.

(Okay, "dreadfully hot" for Illinois. I know it's hot in Texas, Dracphelan!)

Seems like you get to about 7 PM here and the heat drops considerably. At 7 the sun's about an hour away from the horizon, so it makes sense. If I get any grass cutting done today, it'll probably just be what I can do with the riding mower, and it'll be after 7.

* * *

I suppose I ought to get after the summer anime downloads. I don't know.

I saw something over at Pixy's blog that made me drool about the way I drool over a Camaro SS, and for about the same reason, if only by degree: $1,500 for a bare NAS--even a really nice one with twelve drive bays--is too much for me even to contemplate.

I'll get there; just not this year.

...but tell you what: get something like that crammed with twelve 2 TB drives, and my anime storage problems would be over. You'd lose a bit to redundancy, of course, but with twenty four terabytes of raw storage to play with, you could afford it. Shit.

(BTW, "Winter edition"--Pixy (and the entire mee.nu site that he runs) is in Australia. Where it's winter right now. I have to remind myself.)

* * *

I'm starting to think I should just toss the chuck roast into the freezer, because from here it's not looking like I'll be having beef stroganoff for dinner tonight. If my sleep pattern approximates yesterday's I'm going to collapse for another four or five hours as soon as I lay down.

Argh etc.

But it's Sunday and I have nothing pressing to do, so it's not like I'm causing trouble for anyone.

* * *

...and just because I haven't done it for a while:

I was trying to come up with a decent ending for this post when suddenly


#2815: That's how it SHOULD work.

I've heard the relay in the thermostat clicking. More than once. This means that it's switching off as well as on, and that means that the AC is not constantly running.

Thermostat setting: 78°

Approximate temperature: 78°

Comfort level: good

...it also means that I'm remaining reasonably comfy without spending a thousand dollars on electricity.

There are two other things I can do to reduce AC usage even further: the first is to close the louvered doors between the living and dining rooms and the rest of the house. There is no longer a kitchen door but I can hang a sheet across that opening; and the result will be a reasonable level of separation. Close the vents in there and those rooms will no longer receive much cooling. (In fact, I've already closed those vents.)

The other thing is to switch the furnace blower to "on" rather than "auto". This will pump cool air from the basement into the rest of the house. The return ducts are not very efficient; when the blower is running, there is a slight pressure differential across the basement door.

(If I would get off the stick and clean up that basement, I could leave the door open all the time, instead of having to keep the cats out. That would also help.)

* * *

I can remember when I could see the Milky Way from the bunker's driveway. It ain't that way any more. The bunker is on the bottom edge of the white area caused by Chicago.

* * *

Speaking of lighting, I noticed not long ago that the long string of streetlights that formerly lit Cicero Avenue in Richton Park are, in fact, dark at night.

I forget when it was, but I was driving along and bothered by the fact that there is something wrong here and finally it hit me: the damn streetlights* were out. All of them--and everything else had power.

Now I'd like to believe this was due to storm damage or something and that it's since been fixed; but at the time I couldn't help the nagging feeling that the lights were out because Richton Park couldn't pay for the electricity to run them.

And that screams "third world country" to me. It's little things like that which make me think, "Oh, God, we're totally screwed."

*I did it again: tried to spell the word "streeghtlight". *sigh* At least this time I caught myself before I finished writing the word.

* * *

So I turn around and see--on my bedroom door--a spot of light.

The curtains in my room are heavy relics of the 1970s. They're meant to provide insulation and seal against drafts; they're dark brown but faced with white vinyl on the window side.

Being an egregiously light sleeper, I used to take thumbtacks and stick them through the curtains into the window frame to keep as much light out as possible. This left holes in the vinyl, of course.

It so happens right now that the sun is at precisely the right angle, and one of the holes is in just the right position, to project an image of the sun on my bedroom door, like a pinhole camera.

...and now the sun's moved behind a branch of the bush outside my window, so the image is messed up again. But for a few minutes, I had a serendipitous solar observatory going on. Neat.

In fact, I've noticed that the curtains do that with a lot of things. In 2008 or 2009 I first noticed it: on sunny days, I can see an image of my Jeep projected on the wall near the ceiling. It's backwards and upside down, and distorted, but it's clearly the Jeep.

When someone walks past it, I can see them--not clearly, but I see their legs moving.

A totally accidental camera obscura--and I've lived in this room for a long time, so how come I never noticed it before this decade?

* * *

It's 7:20 and I don't want to go outside; it's still 95° out there. Shit.

Looking at the grass, it doesn't seem to have grown very much in the past week. It's been a dry couple of weeks, though, so that's really not all that surprising. I look at my neighbors to the north and south and see that my non-mowed grass is about the same height as the mowed grass to the north and the unmowed grass to the south.

F it.

* * *

How do I know it's hot? My cat--who normally sleeps in a chair--is sleeping on the floor.