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Archive of September, 2007

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[Permalink 2007-09-28] Minor Inconveniences

September 28, 2007:

I realize that smoke detectors will pick up large amounts of water vapor in the air, owing to water molecules being polar. I also realize that smoke detectors are good things to have around -- y'know, that whole "not dying in a fire" thing. I get it, really. But why does every residence I've ever seen have a smoke detector right outside the bathroom? Having the smoke detector go off ten feet away from you just because you took a slightly-hotter-than-average shower is not a good way to start your day.

[Permalink 2007-09-27] Not False Advertising Per Se

September 27, 2007:

Driving back home from getting my monthly manga fix, I saw some rather cute girls holding up signs for their school's dance team's car wash fundraiser. Hey, works for me; the car needed a bath. And high-school girls in their dance team uniforms (which look a lot like cheerleader uniforms) would let me get in touch with my Inner Dirty Old Man.

Except the girls were only there as bait -- the parents were the ones actually washing cars. Now, that's probably for the best: I'm sure the moms and dads know more about getting a car cleaned and dried than a bunch of 17-year-old girls. But on the other hand I felt just a little bit let down.

[Permalink 2007-09-25] Time to Name a New Metric

September 25, 2007:

I discovered a very effective means of measuring forgetfulness earlier this week: The number of consecutive mornings you have to wash yourself with shampoo because you forgot to go to the store the night before and get more soap. My current record is 3.

[Permalink 2007-09-24] More Old Pics from the Phone

September 24, 2007:

Just a couple of the old Honda to finish off the old pics.

[Odometer: 121337]Maybe I should have hung onto the Albatross; it was leet.

Yeesh, two "leet" references in a span of a couple weeks. I must be turning into a 1337 h4xx0r.

[Odometer: 133331]Just a palindromic odometer reading for this one, but I remember the TMBG song "I Palindrome I" was on, so when I saw the odo I decided I had to grab a pic.

[Permalink 2007-09-21] Your Firearms Are Useless Against Them!

September 21, 2007:

Sometimes you need to make your own fun at a Nationals game.

Watching a game earlier this summer (I'm thinking June), I noticed there were a bunch of bugs swarming around the upper deck near where I was. I didn't think much of that; DC in the summer is Bug Central. Then the swarm moved a little closer to where I was sitting.

That's a lot of bees.

Apparently a hive was on the move, and decided the wall a row behind me was a good place to take a breather. I wasn't really bothered by it; for some reason bees don't creep me out like other bugs do. Every once in a while one would land on me and wander around a bit, then take back off.

Then I noticed that my friend and I were the only people within about a 10-seat radius. Cool with us; we got to spread out and put up our feet.

I'm guessing they got evicted later on.

Now if I'm remembering right, that cluster there means the queen was on that wall and wandering around. I wouldn't think that would be a suitable place for a hive, but the bees probably know better than I do. I didn't see anything about the little show in the newspaper, so I have no idea what was eventually done with the would-be hive.

[Permalink 2007-09-20] Transferring Files from a Nokia Cell Phone to a Mac Using Bluetooth

September 20, 2007:

(There, I think I loaded enough keywords to get this to show up in a search. I know I could've used it a while back.)

All right, so one of my complaints about the Mac was that it couldn't figure out how to get images off the phone's memory card. Well, a friend of mine showed me how to do it, and I was going about it backwards.

First, you want to activate Bluetooth on the phone. Do not start the Bluetooth connection on your Mac. This will "use up" the one connection you're allowed, and you won't be able to continue.

Select the images you want to transfer on the phone. On my model you can "mark" the images you want, or choose "Mark all" from the Options menu while you're looking at the listing. Then choose "Send > Via Bluetooth" from the Options menu. Alternately, you can just move one image by choosing "Send" while it's highlighted.

Choose your target Mac from the list of available devices. You need to have set up the phone on the Mac previously for this to work, I think. The Mac will ask if you want to transfer the files. Say "Yes".

The files will begin copying into your Documents folder. From there you can do whatever you want with them.

Note: Unlike when you use Nokia's special program to transfer to a PC, this method will not keep the files' modified dates. If you sort your images by date and time, you're going to want to keep them on your phone for reference. I wound up with a bunch of year-old images that I could barely guess on a month because I deleted the phone's copies too soon. Don't repeat my mistake.

So there you have it, easy as pie. Other phones probably work similarly, but the only ones I can say for sure are Nokias.

[Permalink 2007-09-18] There Went One Of My Excuses For Not Getting an Oil Change

September 18, 2007:

My car is starting to get close to its first warranty-mandated oil change. It's easy enough to keep track in the Jetta: if (mileage % 5000 == 0) getOilChange();

Nice and simple, even I can remember when the schedule is like that. Apparently they heard about how I'd let the Civic go a while without its scheduled maintenance. When I got in the car the other day it showed the odometer like always, but when I started the car the display showed a wrench.

Uh-oh, I said. (Well, actually it was more like WTF but let's not quibble over details.) But then I realized the odo now said "800", and a few seconds later the wrench went away and my real mileage of just over 4,200 came back up.

Apparently sometime in the last decade and a half they've added a code to the car's onboard computer that lets it tell you, "hey dummy, remember to get your oil changed." Probably not a bad idea, all things considered.

Now I'm curious as to what happens if you go over. Does it beep at you? Does it stay at zero? Show a negative mileage? Since I'm pretty sure they don't cancel the warranty for not stopping what you're doing and having the car towed in right at 5,000 miles I think I'll have to find out. And if it tries to show me a negative number only to have the odo display be unsigned I'll have to send a picture to The Daily WTF.

[Permalink 2007-09-17] Semi-Appropriate Check Numbers

September 17, 2007:

Back in Pittsburgh, I was unable to time my bill-paying to be able to send check number 404 to Pair Networks, where my site was hosted at the time. But it turned out I was able to pay my broadband bill just now with check number 1337.

]Check 1337: Cox Communications]

[Permalink 2007-09-14] The Taxman Cometh

September 14, 2007:

... when he saweth I boughteth a new car.

I had a nice, frothy rant built up over the property tax I owe for the Jetta -- if I was charged for the full year instead of 8 months or so, it would have been about $340. Seeing as how I'd never had to pay property tax of any kind before I moved here, that kind of ticked me off.

But then I did some research: Localities in Virginia don't collect income tax. But localities in Pennsylvania do collect income tax -- Pittsburgh grabs a full 3% just for itself. Pennsylvania charged me 3.07% for the state's cut. Virginia uses a progressive system like the Fed does; at my current salary my overall tax rate would be about 5.4%.

So it really comes down to: In Pittsburgh I'd have paid 6.07%. Here I'm paying about 5.4% plus $340. That would take me up to 5.9%-ish. Which means Virginia does suck for taxes, but back in Steeler Country it would have sucked even worse. All I need to do now is avoid any $3000 speeding tickets (I wish I was making that up) and I'll be all set.

[Permalink 2007-09-13] Not What I Was Hoping For, About I Expected

September 13, 2007:

I plunked down $20 on Mega Millions tickets a couple weeks ago when the jackpot hit $325M ($330M by the time of the drawing).

Let's just say I haven't quit my job just yet. I wound up with 5 one-ball matches and a single two-ball match, meaning... I didn't win a damn thing since I didn't match the mega-ball.

And what was I expecting? Well, the odds of winning anything at all are 1/40. I bought 20 tickets, so I had a 50-50 shot, so I figured I'd get two whole dollars out of the deal. Instead I got the other half of my 50-50 shot, a.k.a. zilch.

Turns out they had four winners -- the most ever in a single drawing -- so the prize reverts to $12M for the next one. Looks like I won't be getting in on the ol' white trash retirement fund any time soon.

[Permalink 2007-09-11] The Weird Places My Brain Ends Up

September 11, 2007:

Bear with me, this one takes a lot of setup.

There's a small chain of grocery stores in the Akron area called Acme. (As an aside, there's a completely unrelated Acme Market in New Jersey, but that's not relevant here.) Now, for some reason, I had a dream where I was looking at or editing Acme's Wikipedia page.

Yeah, in dreams some people are superheroes, or they bang models. I edit Wikipedia.

Anyway, that concept burned itself into my conscious mind well enough that I actually looked it up on Wikipedia the next day, and was kinda surprised when I found it. I mean, a dozen stores in northeast Ohio is even less relevant than your average Wikipedia article.

From there, my brain jumped to Stuzman's, a small local grocery store in Cuyahoga Falls. My grandmother and grandfather on my mother's side of the family used to take my sister and I up there when we'd visit on weekends, to get ingredients for milkshakes. Mmm, peanut butter milkshakes.

I was curious as to whether the place was still in business, since I was in a happy-memory-from-my-childhood mindset. A quick Google search turned up no web site for Stuzman's, but looking around a bit more, they are still in business.

Now, most people would just let it go at that point. To be honest, normal people wouldn't have even gotten to that point. But I am definitely not normal. I checked a few of the other links for the store and wound up on the Cuyahoga Falls History message board. (No link, since it seems to be small and half-dead. It's easy enough to find if you're so inclined.)

Poking around I saw one of the admins compiling a list of historic homes in the Falls. There are a lot of them in Grandma and Grandpa's old neighborhood, which jibes with what I remember -- large, old houses on good-sized lots (I think their house sat on a quarter-acre, or maybe a half).

Now, some people are into genealogy. I'm into places. And that got me thinking: That old house has to be about 120 years old by now, at least. I don't know why it didn't hit me earlier (like, when Grandma was still alive), but now I want to do some research on this place and see what it's been through over the years. And the Falls History site is down at the moment, for going over its bandwidth.

Guess it's time to call Mom.

[Permalink 2007-09-10] Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me, O Lord?

September 10, 2007:

So yeah, football season's underway again.

Good news: Sirius broadcasts every NFL game played. Bad news: But not online -- I'd have to sit in my car for three hours.

Good news: Sports bars. Bad news: I'd still be watching the Browns.

The 34-7 drubbing they took (I tuned out when it was 17-0 in the first quarter) was made worse only by the semi-literate Steelers announcers they picked up. I'll grant that the Cleveland broadcasters aren't superstars of any kind, but at least they speak English.

I'll have to check SportsCenter tonight to see footage of the most broken play I've ever heard of. Of seven officials, five threw penalty flags on a botched punt. The referee began his call with, "there were four fouls on the play, on the offense." Hockey games have penalty calls shorter than that.

Since you can only get penalized once per play in football, they wound up tacking a 10-yard holding penalty onto a 5-yard punt, so on that fourth down the Browns basically walked five yards backwards and knelt.

I think that was the high point.

In the interest of not boring all of you to tears, I'm going to lay off on sports-stuff unless something notable happens. So this'll probably be it for me for this year.

Edit, 12 Sep 7:14 PM: Oh look, they made TMQ with their bungling.

Sour Quarter of the Week: On the Browns' first possession, they lost 3 yards, then boomed a 15-yard punt -- and there were three penalties against Cleveland during the punt. Pittsburgh took over on the Browns' 22 and immediately scored. The Browns' second possession ended with an interception. The Browns' third possession ended with a punt on fourth-and-20. The Browns' fourth possession ended with a fumble.

Something tells me this won't be the last time this year. And TMQ missed the fourth call, illegal man downfield.

[Permalink 2007-09-07] Progress, Kinda

September 07, 2007:

After a week I finally sat down and entered my profile. Some of you may be wondering what took me so long, but seven days to write 1k of text about myself is actually pretty good: I'm a programmer, not a writer. And while I did give some thought to saying things like me.activities[0] = 'Bowling'; and so on, I figured it was going to be too much work, and kinda stupid on top of that.

Now all I need to do is upload some pictures, since it's basically a requirement. Which means I need to find some pictures of me, which probably means I have to take some pictures of me. Luckily, the camera has a timer on it. And after that I'll actually need to start contacting people, which probably involves slightly more writing. Look for that to happen sometime around Halloween, at the rate I'm going.

[Permalink 2007-09-06] Google Groups Is a Pain In the Ass

September 06, 2007:

I'm subscribed to a handful of Google Groups, mostly sharing images around a common theme or interest. The people that coded the system are too clever by half, by which I mean they're morons.

I tend to check the images by middle-clicking them to open them in a new tab. Usually 10 to 12 at a time, so I can look at one while the rest load. Works like a charm.

Until some brain-damaged algorithm at Google decides I'm a bot or that my computer's been pwned. (Because the first thing a script kiddie does when conquering a computer is go to a single Google group and look at pictures. Retards.) At that point I get this friendly message:

We're sorry...

... but your query looks similar to automated requests from a computer virus or spyware application. To protect our users, we can't process your request right now.

And yadda yadda blah. Basically, they don't know what the hell they're doing. This frequently happens when their auto-thumbnailer, which previews the pictures in GMail, chokes and gives up forcing me to view every single picture full-sized to see which ones I like. In other words, their own incompetence causes the circumstance that highlights even more of their incompetence!

Once in a blue moon it throws a CAPTCHA at me, so I can prove I'm human. After doing that I go about my business, until their retarded checker decides that I must have turned into a bot within the last two minutes and cuts me off again.

So I've been locked out for the last half-hour or so now, waiting for their servers to decide I'm allowed back into their little playground, simply because they're incapable of dealing with tabbed browsing. They may want to ask around; a couple of their programmers on other projects may be familiar with the concept.

Maybe instead of adding half-assed star charts to Google Earth they should try making sure the stuff they already have works.

Edit: After getting tired of playing, "can I access my account now, assholes?" for 45 minutes I was finally able to get the stuff I was looking for after walking away from the computer for another 45 minutes. And after all that, there was nothing there that I wanted anyway. Dammit.

[Permalink 2007-09-04] My Hometown Finally Does Something Worthwhile...

September 04, 2007:

...and I don't find out about it until two months after the fact. Why the hell am I not informed about these things?!

[Permalink 2007-09-03] CRNL-RCTL

September 03, 2007:

I'm not entirely sure why, but I've had a major case of head-up-the-ass while driving lately. Simple stuff, too, just not looking where I'm going. I've had to stop short a few times in the last couple days, and spilled my coffee once. (In my defense, I was getting the coffee because I was feeling somewhat less than alert. But still.) Hopefully I snap out of it before my and the other drivers' reflexes cease to be up to the task.

(And of course I've been on a writing kick lately. This one won't appear for a week. If you see an angry/depressed edit below, you'll know I didn't make it through the week without running into somebody.)

Edit, 3 Sep 07 2:28 PM: Managed to avoid colliding with anything, and I've been paying more attention lately. I still have no idea why I had that run where I felt like I was always a second or two away from crashing into something, but it seems to have passed now.

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