Thursday, December 8, 2005

MINI Winter Wonderland

The MINI is broken in, in more (good) ways than one:

  • It's past it's primary break in period of 1250 miles.

  • I was over on the local suburban shopping mall strip, where you have parking lots emptying into a highway with a speed limit of 50 MPH. Thus merging in with zero runway (a short field takeoff) is often needed. The MINI handled it nicely, with the DSC (traction control) kicking in on dry pavement.

    (Okay, it was like a leap to hyperspace with traction control. You got a problem with that?)

  • Our own sloping driveway had just enough snow that the Miata might have slid on it. The MINI, however, kicked in the DSC again to keep me gently moving.

  • With the Audi being serviced, the MINI had to do an airport run to rescue Katherine returning from DC. Of course it fit Katherine, but it also fit her business luggage. Not something we even considered doing in the Miata.

Happy MINI owners.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

All I Want For Christmas

All I want for Christmas is to ban drum machines from recorded holiday music.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

The Loudest Christmas Carol in the World

Magic 106.7, a soft rock station, has switched to Christmas music for the season. This does not mean they have gone far from their usual format.

However, they may have caused at least some loyal listeners question their radio tuning, because they played the TSO's Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. The TSO, in case you don't know, is something on the order of AC/DC meets the Boston Pops ... and AC/DC wins.

I like the TSO. I've seen the TSO in person and enjoyed it (except for the hearing loss). They and the average Magic 106.7 listener are not from the same planet. In fact, Magic 106.7 may have caused some listeners to flee this planet.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Failure to Communicate

Our snowblower dealer has a service contract to do the routine service on our snow blower every year before the season starts. Last year, they automatically scheduled the pick up and delivery of our blower nice and early so it was ready when the weather was.

This year, it wasn't until the past week we realized that they never called. We looked at their web site and discovered they had closed the nearest location without telling us. More importantly, they failed to call us from a remaining location to arrange the service.

They should pick the blower up today. Unfortunately, their one day service will now take three weeks because they didn't do it before the season.

We're not happy.

Pray for a warm December.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

PSA time again

Just a remember, the real blogging action around here is over on our other blog, the Summerhill Kitten Farm. Just trust me on this one, okay.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's Here! It's Here!

Our new Cooper MINI S arrived a week ago. It's as the original pictures show, except it tends to have Katherine or I driving it. It's as fun as the Miata was but has more height, front wheel drive, traction control, better headlights, glass rear window, and other stuff which will make a better second winter car.

The all wheel drive Audi will still get any winter runs up into NY or PA snow country.

It's also faster, but that doesn't make it a better winter car. :-)

It also has a rear seat, but I am not sure even our 10 year old niece would have enough leg room. It's best left for cargo (which is still a major improvement on the Miata).

We saw the our former Miata yesterday, BTW. We sold it to friends at the start of the month, and in spite of the wet New England fall they have had the top down a fair amount, and enjoying it a lot. Yesterday the Miata led the MINI down some rather twisty roads to lunch, making for a pair of happy putt-putts.

As an aside, we discovered in the period between the Miata leaving and the MINI arriving that we are NOT a one car couple. Between the infrequent suburban bus service and the general hub & spoke layout of Boston area transit, it just doesn't work out for us ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I want my MTV

Back in August or so, we ordered a new car from Herb Chambers MINI of Boston, a 2006 MINI Cooper S convertible. (You can see pictures of the ordered configuration). We considered one off the lot, but I wanted a few things, like the particular color (British Racing Green), and I was willing to wait. And besides, our 1997 Miata was running fine, it's not like we NEEDED the car instantly. Estimated delivery was sometime in October.

Fast forward to ~ 2 weeks ago. The car was confirmed to have been built in England, in transit, and on schedule. We offered the Miata up for sale, and delivered it to friends who snapped it up. So we canceled the Miata insurance, and while we were at it we told our insurance to be ready for a call from the dealer.

So by this week we're limping along (not badly) on one car. But that's okay, our regular dealer updates are consistently telling us the car is due this week. I checked Monday and the car was in port in NJ, by their estimate it would be a day to install an alarm and one to three days to ship up here. That put the car here between today (Wednesday) and Friday.

Yesterday, I got down to the credit union and picked up a rather large check to pay for this puppy. Having that paper just sitting around makes me nervous. But we're ready to rock.

Only now it seems our dealer was full of guano, I checked today and after calling NJ they figured out the alarm is actually a delay of 5 to 7 working days. So the car which was supposed to be here this week won't here until early next week at the earliest.

There goes my weekend plans (I was actually going to take Friday off and toddle about in our new toy), and generally pulls a rug out from under my happy mood. It's like I've been stood up on a date.

It doesn't make me feel better that it is utterly stupid to be disappointed:
  • Small car, but big toy.
  • The last car we ordered (5 years ago) also got hung up in port for almost two weeks. We half expected this.
  • We'll have the car for years, a week doesn't matter.
  • People have bigger problems that than this (like being broke or wearing a pager because they are waiting for a organ transplant)
But I am disappointed, and maybe a little full of self-pity. Ain't life grand?

Friday, September 23, 2005

All Roads lead to ...

If you check Google, half the directions on the Woburn/Stoneham line seem to mention the local Friendly's Restaurant.

The only problem is, that place closed several months ago and all signage was removed. Now construction equipment has turned it into a hole in the ground. So much for the lost souls on Montvale Ave.

But there is a silver lining, they are replacing it with Wendy's Restaurant. Let me know as soon as I can get a Frosty...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Round two

D.L. Hughley noted how many New Orleans residents were religious, and chose to stay behind during Katerina while putting their faith in God:

Sometimes God sends the weatherman to say there’s a Level 5 hurricane. Sometimes Al Roker is God.

If Katerina did nothing else good, hopefully it told the good people of Texas to get out of the way of Rita.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Y'all Come

For one brief shining moment in my teens, I was on the rolls of the Skaneateles Fire Department. (I never did anything useful before leaving for college, so don't bother to applaud).

Like most departments, they were part of the mutual aid system for NY State, where neighboring departments assist each other during major alarms, be it at the scene or standing by at the requesting station in case of a second unrelated alarm. The slang term for a really big alarm was Southern Mutual Aid (Y'all come).

Alas, Katerina adds new to meaning to this. As reported by the Wall Street Journal's Evelina Shmukler and Peter Sanders reporting from Mississippi's Gulf Coast:
It's easy to get a little lost in Mississippi these days. The influx of rescue, law enforcement, utility and other support crews from all over the country can mean some surreal moments. On Interstate 10, a Miami police cruiser flies by, lights flashing. A New York Police Department vehicle drives down the beachfront road in Gulfport, as does a search and rescue crew from Salt Lake City. The North Charleston Police Department is directing traffic in North Biloxi. A Georgia Bureau of Investigation officer sits across from the Harrison County emergency operations center.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Change of Season

Every August, a crisp breeze blows in for a day that reminds me that fall will be here soon. We had one such breeze on schedule a few weeks ago.

Now fall is on the doorstep, asking when it can move in.

All of which introduces that if I want to clean up my personal physical act this year, it's time. I've started walking and riding the exercise bikes again (excellent), taking my blood pressure (looks good), and weighing myself (not good, but I have a baseline).

The first goal is (as always) lose 10 pounds, and the second goal (as always) is drop 25 to 240. The as always part is the biggest problem, but at least I've stopped the 15 year trend I had until 1998 of putting it on and never taking it off.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A review

A new local rib joint (it's part of a chain) opened, and Katherine and I stopped in as part of the we-hate-to-cook June tour. (Not be confused with the upcoming too-hot-to-cook July tour, the we're-on-Vacation August tour, or the recently concluded too-busy-to-cook May tour.)

My review is best summed up by I should just gone ahead and made the Hamburger Helper I had planned. The rib joint was not so much bad as just not worth going over there ...

Friday, April 1, 2005

Plan "B", as in Bail

To handle the basement, a Puddle Sucker (more formally known as a Submersible Utility Pump) has been obtained. It's not a automated sump pump, but we don't need a permanent installation like that anyway.

At up to 1260 gallons per hour (~ 21 gallons a minute), the puddle sucker can handle one beast of a puddle. We figure with the basement floor covered, we have only have ~ 80 gallons or so.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Man the Lifeboats

I noted in my previous entry that Parts of the basement floor get a couple of inches of water once every few years.

One of those times was what people described as the 100 year flood back in the fall of 1996, which put ten feet of water in the MBTA subway and three inches in our basement. Another time was a year or two ago.

The next time (we are told) could be Saturday night. Katherine says it's not my fault, the bike was already in the basement, but I wonder.

The basement has been further cleaned, and more wood blocks cut in honor of the possible coming event.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Joy of Home Ownership

I just spent two hours cleaning the basement.

This adventure had a specific purpose, which was to get the older of the two exercise bikes back in service. Parts of the basement floor get a couple of inches of water once every few years, so I had put the old bike up on some small blocks, where it was not ridable.

I moved our pseudo laundry table (and it also holds the wine cellar) off a concrete pad which is the local high ground, and moved the bike onto it. The table moved next to the dryer, which actually helps its laundry function.

I also wiped top of the laundry table. Good thing the EPA didn't see what came off that.

This was a trivial amount of work and I actually enjoyed it, but it makes me wonder how real people take care of their homes. On a regular basis, we're good for snow removal, laundry, the dishes and that's about it. (To keep the EPA from closing us down, we have a maid service in every two weeks.)

Ah well, the bike is ready for me now.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Going Down

My weight leveled for several days, and then dropped three pounds in the past two days. That's good, my weight spreadsheet was telling me I was verge of going up again.

The exercise continues, mixing in occasional walks with with the bike.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

HUP - 2 - 3 - 4

I hit the bike again today. That makes six times via a nice consistent every other day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

AIM terms of service, Revisited


America Online said late Monday that it plans to revise its user agreement in response to concerns that instant messages sent through the company's service could be monitored.

The new policy for AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, will stress that the company does not eavesdrop on customer's conversations except in unusual circumstances such as a court order, an AOL spokesman said.

Monday, March 14, 2005

One from Column one ...

The results of the blood work came back in a confusing letter from my doctor. It said my thyroid replacement looked high, so prescriptions are enclosed. I've had a thyroid replacement prescription for 21 years now, but no one ever said anything about two at once.

And no mention of the blood sugar level which I had deposited myself on my doctor's doorstep in the first place for. Gee, thanks.

Actually, I called, and it turns out to average my replacement between two standard dosages I am to alternate pills every other day. Okay, I can do that. Nice of them to tell me up front.

And as for the blood sugar, yes, I am normal (that way, at least).

Friday, March 11, 2005

Big Brother is Watching You Type

AIM has changed their terms of service to say they can use your messages any way they want, and that you have no privacy.

This is a real Lawyers Gone Wild episode (you can see it from the one-sided nature of the agreement), and is going to make Microsoft's IM products look downright popular.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Never Been to Spain

Blame my sister the Bluegrass Mama for this one as well.

States I've visited, not counting airport layovers. I do count the states I have only driven through.

create your own personalized map of the USA.

Oddly enough, a text variation on this almost went into my 10 Things list, in particular that I've been to all the states from Tennessee north and/or east.

From those nice folks at World 66

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Back On The Chain Gang

With the high blood pressure causing eye problems, it's time to get serious about losing some weight. I care about my eyes.

I had my last caffeine on Friday. I had the caffeine crash from hell Saturday. That's actually good, it means I had been cutting back before Friday to crash the following day.

I hit the exercise bike Sunday for 24 minutes. (Just to prove I could.)

I had exactly two snacks, one an apple, yesterday. Lunch itself was McDonald's, but was not a piggy lunch.

I hit the exercise bike today for 32 minutes. (A more regular timing).

I had exactly one snack this morning, and bought a banana while out at lunch for the afternoon snack. Lunch itself was turkey on wheat.

And so it begins again ...

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Doctor My Eyes

Our story thus far ...

Well, the optometrist shipped me back to the primary care physician, who on Thursday (3 March) took one look at my previous regular blood sugar tests and expressed complete disbelief I could have diabetes.

(Hey kids, there is a reason to see a doctor on regular basis -- a well kept medical history is your friend.)

She ordered up the usual fasting profile (including blood sugar) anyway, upped the blood pressure medications, and shipped me off to the ophthalmologist.

Friday, the ophthalmologist dilated my eyes (again), took a look, and said that yup, I have minor hemorrhaging. Most likely it's caused by the high blood pressure. I am to give it four weeks, and then see a retina specialist across town.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

A Meme: Ten things

Ten things I've done that you probably have not.

  1. Been well networked, including:

    • Owned a modem in 1985,
    • Listed a host in the UUCP maps in 1989,
    • Registered a internet domain in 1990 (when there were only ~ 6500 domains total)
    • Provided dial up email services to my family in five states in 1992
    • Installed a home LAN in 1993,
    • Setup a 24x7 link to the Internet in 1995,
    • Setup a personal web site in 1996,
    • Had a cable modem in the summer 1997

    All of this only counts as one item, and now that's all out of the way.
  2. Gone boating in a DUKW on a central New York Finger Lake in November.
  3. Took 11 years to graduate the 4 year college I entered full-time out of high school.
  4. Worked for five different alumni of my college at five different companies.
  5. Been in every one of New York's 62 counties.
  6. Went directly from the first year of Army ROTC to the third year. (But never finished, due to the length of the rest of my college career.)
  7. Took the road test for my driver's license in a British sports car two years younger than I was.
  8. Ridden 1300 miles on a bicycle around town in one summer.
  9. Totaled three vehicles within ten years on interstate highways and walked away from all three crashes. (And since then had 18 years without a chargable accident, knock wood.)
  10. Met my future wife via the Internet (in particular Usenet) in 1989, before most people knew there was an Internet. (And for the record, I then courted her very much in person for six months.)

Inspired by my sister the Bluegrass Mama

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Let It Bleed

Back during the week of February 14th I had a cold, and this evolved into a screaming pain on the right side of my face (probably my sinuses) and occasional blurry spots in my vision. I made the usual HMO fly-by and they put on me antibiotics, also put me on high BP medicine (that's been coming for a while), and told me see my optometrist since my exam was due anyway.

The optometrist was yesterday (Saturday)

The optometrist dilated my pupils, and took a look inside the right eye with microscope. Then looked at the left. Then looked back at the right to compare to the two. Result of the exam: My right retina has minor hemorrhaging.

"Not a problem, but something which requires follow up." Easy for him to say.

He's directed me back to my primary care physician for a full sugar profile (to check for diabetes), and also for a referral to an ophthalmologist.

(And yes, my fingers are gonna do the dialing Monday morning.

[Later .. corrected optician to optometrist.]

Sunday, February 20, 2005


During the blizzard of 2005, the plows left a pile of snow topping out at five feet high on our sidewalk at the same corner that a pickup truck rammed the week before.

I let it melt until yesterday, when I attacked the two feet high remains with the snow blower. It's gone now, or more precisely scattered into a two inch deep layer of ice around (and on) our porch and bushes.

Unfortunately, it appears I also threw ice or some foreign matter higher than the porch floor. To be precise, one of our front windows has a nice round hole in it, mostly likely from a pebble thrown from the snow blower.

With more snow coming tomorrow, I suggest everyone take cover before I work the sidewall over again...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Guarding the Hen House

I just upgraded to Quicken 2005, and it as usual has helpful (?) hints for me.

My favorite is after it noticed I am entering credit card transations manually, it offered to download the transactions for me from my card issuer. If the issuer generates my register input, and the same issuer then provides the input to print the monthly statement with, how am I supposed to spot errors in charges?

I told it not to suggest that brilliant idea again.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A beautiful day in the neighborhood ...

If you see a driveway, two cars deep, two cars wide but narrowing at the end, asphalt, with a bump in the middle from a tree root and ~ 6 inch retaining walls, give it directions for the kitten farm and send it home. Ours has disappeared. Don't call the police, however, it may just be under the drift which is now dominating the front of our garage.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tower of Blogging

In order to keep better communicate with some old friends whom I just tracked down, I just opened an account at Live Journal. This means I now exist on three blogger databases (Live Journal,, and Typekey), all in the name of diplomatic relations (and avoiding comment SPAM).

None of these environments talk to each other, even though the owners of Typekey just bought Live Journal. A real tower of Blogging Babel.

Of course, our blogs actually are self hosted here at the Wonderworks, so that makes four accounts.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Counting blessings

I was thinking a moment ago that my shoulders hurt. Only they don't.

There is an ache at the top of both of my arms from having run the snow blower both yesterday and the day before to clear back to back storms. However nothing can be said to hurt, not when an acquaintance is in the hospital in 500 miles away and she's on really cool pain killers, only not so cool they are actually handling her pain.

I took a whopping three days of sick time last year, and after the last two (taken together with some comp time because of a cold which dogged me for 10 days), a co-worker mentioned that I must really been sick. (I didn't realize I acted that hard core.) For me, I was. But in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't dirt.

And I had paid sick time to take. Enough said.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

The Golden Age of blogging

The Register, while quite legit, may not be the best journalism on the web, but they often take the prize for most quotable, like for this survey of broadband users:
A recent survey in the UK discovered that one in four Britons acquired broadband so they could get to the filth. (It may also have discovered, as several readers suggested, that one in three British broadband users lie to surveys about why they get broadband).

On a more serious note, the same article has some interesting insights into how blogging encourages narrow mindsets:
"Eleven people of like mind talk to each other. They had the same views before, they end up with the same views after. But every single one of those eleven people says 'I convinced 10 other people'. Then the blog-boosterism runs 'Aha, we have 11 people who each convinced 10 other people, so that's *110* more votes from BLOGGING! Feel the power OF THE BLOG!' In reality, nothing changed. The choir preached to itself. But everyone got to think that they were an influencer, a kingmaker, even if just for a tiny kingdom," observed Seth Finkelstein

It's not always like that -- I've stumbled across self-contained communities of friends that support each other warmly and graciously. But one does need to remember there is a great big world out there, and our information needs to come from multiple sources.


Sunday, January 2, 2005

Say it With Flowers

Back in the early 1980's, I lived and worked in Binghamton NY.

Early in my time there (~ 1981), I went out few times with the local rock station's new evening DJ, a young Irish blonde named Lisa. She left both radio and town after less than a year. End of story (not that there was one in the first place), although I did decide I didn't need to date any more DJ's.

However, I did occasionally call the station to make requests, usually of a weekend warrior named Sue, who did a Sunday morning oldies program. That ended when she went full time on the graveyard shift, after which I heard and maybe talked to her perhaps once a month or less. I knew what she looked like from a station sponsored Halloween party, but I don't recall even talking to her in person.

One time I did call the station was a few days before Christmas 1983, when I was filling out Christmas Cards at 5 AM; on a whim, I asked Sue for her home address, so I could send her a card. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Sue, what's your address? I'll send you Christmas card".
Sue: "Send it to the station; I never get anything at the station."
Me: "That's a not a big deal, is it?"
Sue: "When I was first here as an intern, Lisa got roses. I thought that was really cool."

At this point, the light goes on. (Did I mention I tried too hard when I first knew Lisa?)

Me: "Ah, Sue, I sent those flowers to Lisa."
Sue: "Oh. Well, send it to the station anyway."
Sue had Christmas roses waiting for her at the station that afternoon.

(And no, I never laid eyes on her again - a true paladin knows when the job is done and done well.)