December 17th, 2017

#6033: O, Christmas Tree

Got our tree last night, and spent time cleaning the living room so we could put it up. For the first time in six months the living room is not full of crap but is a livable and usable room. Tree is in the front window, but not yet decorated, because Mrs. Fungus has wanted me to build a fire since at least September.

Built a nice crackly fire, and then we were inadvertently up until 3 AM enjoying it. It took me a bit to get it to draw well; the smell of smoke was thick in the room. But once I got it going, that cleared out, and I no longer had to fuss with it.

I don't know why it is, exactly, but the gas log is pointing towards the back of the fireplace at about a 50° angle off vertical. That could be how it's supposed to be installed, and that could have been Dad's request. I don't know, but I do know that it makes lighting a fire harder, because the gas jets will only hit wood on the back of the grate. I suppose I could go in there with a pipe wrench and tweak it a bit, but I don't know how the thing is installed and I'm loath to touch it without consulting the manual first. The manual is around here somewhere--I found it while cleaning the place out last summer--but it is temporarily misplaced and likely won't come to light until next summer.

Still, I managed a nice fire, and expect to manage a couple more this year.

Meanwhile, having been in a job for two weeks now, I finally found the leatherette folder that I like to carry my resume and such in when I go to job interviews. I had a suspicion that I'd find it after I no longer needed it. Argh etecetera.

* * *

Dinner last night was Chinese. Mrs. Fungus wanted wonton soup and doesn't like what we get from the nearest place, so we ended up going to another one. I decided on szechuan chicken and she had mongolian beef, one of her usual selections.

So she asked me, during dinner: "How is yours?"

"Well," I replied, "I can say that it tastes good."

"Why do you put it like that?"

"Because it's not szechuan chicken. It tastes good, but it's not what I ordered."

"This is the worst mongolian beef I've ever had."

I tasted it; it was. She threw it away.

The soup was bland. The crab rangoons tasted pretty good. The shrimp fried rice was all right.

I don't understand what it is about the Fungal Vale that makes it so difficult to find good Chinese takeout here. For years you couldn't get a decent crab rangoon around here, and I learned how to make hot and sour soup specifically because I couldn't get one that met my specifications. I had good Chinese food on various visits to Cedar Rapids, but couldn't get any here.

I remember one time I went to a local chain of Chinese restaurants: I wanted crab rangoons and hot and sour soup, so I ordered same. What I got: bland and tasteless soup, and wonton wrappers which had little scoops of faux crab in them, deep-fried such that they were full of air and the tiny blots of crab meat. No cream cheese or onion or anything, just the sad little lumps of crab; zero flavor and completely unappetizing.

The Chinese place nearest to the bunker opened in 1997, a couple months after I moved to Iowa, and they had good crab rangoons etc. They still do (their General Tao's chicken has suffered--I think the guy who knew how to make it retired or something--but other dishes are still good).

But lousy wonton soup. Yeah. So I guess we'll keep trying. There's a Chinese place which delivers, but their food is mediocre at best and what they consider to be gyoza are more like big shumai. Oh well.

* * *

You know, come to think of it, I don't know what time to go in to work on Monday. Guess I'll fire off an e-mail and see if anyone knows what I should do.

...and of course I am able to access my work e-mail from home, like a proper professional can.

Nice.

#6034: Well, that's not at all surprising.

Today some channel or another is doing a live version of A Christmas Story. Mrs. Fungus apparently tuned into it for a few moments, which was all it took to confirm our suspicions that it would be bloody awful.

The scene she saw: Ralphie at Schwartz's house, and they're singing about Hanukkah.

Uh, yeah, that's pretty rancid.

* * *

There's no real explanation of what "pulse" means but from comments I gather they're going from sub-critical to critical almost instantaneously, which is why there's a flash when it first starts up: for a moment, the reactor is making a lot more power than it's rated for.

The thing is, a fission reactor can be designed to be self-regulating. They did it in the '50s or '60s--the bit from Freeman Dyson that I often cite, where they blew the control rods from the reactor with compressed air. It briefly made far too much energy, but then settled down to its design output of 500 MW with no further input. So that even if someone does everything wrong, the reactor core is physically incapable of melting down.

There's no reason we can't build commercial power reactors that way. No reason at all. And absolutely we'd still build these melt-proof reactors in containment vessels, just because it's safer, but this would truly be a reactor you could safely house in a shed because there'd literally be no way for it to malfunction. The only real worry you would have at this point would be the physical security of the core itself, because the fuel (especially fuel awaiting recycling) represents a radiological hazard. You don't want some crazy-ass stealing a few kilograms of it and then blowing it up with some TNT in a public area.

We lack only the will.

* * *

Paint it yellow, put goggles on it, and you have a minion. WTF.

* * *

Net neutrality, enacted in 2015, reduced Internet infrastucture investment by 18%. That is why Trump undid it, and that's why I was against it all along.

The funny part of this is how the commie-lib news guy gets his ass handed to him, though. As far as I can tell, rhere is no good argument in favor of net neutrality, at least none which are supported by reality.

I got the link from here and his commentary on it is worth reading, too.

* * *

Well, had a bit of luck today: I set out to do my Christmas shopping, and on my way to the mall I thought I'd stop at Menard's first and pick up a couple things. Problem is, my card was declined. Why?

Well, because the check I deposited yesterday morning has not cleared. I have money in my account, but I don't have access to it. Argh.

The "bit of luck" was me not getting all the friggin' way out to the mall (about a half-hour drive) and parking and walking in and browsing and so forth, only to find that I couldn't spend any of my paycheck yet.

I've found that the track sections I bought are not pin-compatible with the track I have for the Christmas train, so I need to buy adapters for it. That's what I was getting at Menard's.

Oh well.

* * *

I guess it's time to go festoon the conifer in the living room.