Monday, March 31, 2008


Our dogs are very hard to photograph with a consumer-grade digital--They move so fast that by the time the shutter trips, they have turned 180 degrees..

That's a fairly typical stick for Bella--Much smaller and she either loses interest, or comes back with something she feels is big enough. If we let her, she'll carry it all the way home, with people in passing cars pointing and laughing...

Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA

More isn't better. More bitter (hoppy?) than I like, and although the flavors are similar to the 60 minute, "too much" sums it up for me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

WEB Griffin

W.E.B Griffin reminds me of Chipotle (the Burrito Restaraunt)--I like both, but neither has much effective variety. You can make lots of different combinations, but from a limited menu of options. I'm currently reading his "Presidential Agent" series, and there is a ton of re-used elements:

*Wealthy man is in the military or police even though he doesn't need the money. (Badge of Honor, The Corps, Brotherhood of War, Honor Bound)

*Wealthy Main-line Philadelphia (Badge of Honor, bits in other series)

*Long lost relatives in different countries are reunited, everyone is wealthy. (Honor Bound, Brotherhood of War)

*A successful (and usually wealthy) ladies man falls in love with an inappropriate woman. Turns out she's madly in love with him, but has been afraid to admit it. They allow the affair to continue, even though it jeopardizes a high-level mission if they are caught. (Badge of Honor, Brotherhood of War, partly in The Corps)

*Famous Grouse Scotch (The Corps, and I think others)

It is hard for me to separate the distraction of repeated bits from the story, but I don't think this is one of his best.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Too late

A few weeks ago, a local thrift store had a Rolex Submariner in the showcase. I asked to look at it--They wanted $700. I came to the conclusion that it was more than likely fake--I'm no expert, but the brushed surface looked coarser than I would expect. It was a mechanical movement, but only ticked 6 times per second. Most modern Swiss watches tick 8 per second. According to my (later) Googling, the Submariner switched to 8 per second in the late 1980's.

A co-worker has an interest in mechanical watches, and is also a thrift-store shopper. I would have told him about this watch, but he was on medical leave at the time.

When I came to work today, he was wearing it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA

Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA is really, really good. I'm not a fan of bitter beers, and I was a little nervous when I picked it out--The other time I've tried an IPA, it was more bitter than I liked. I'm no expert at catagorizing a beer's flavor, but there's a distinct grapefruit taste that fits well. Well balanced, nothing overpowering, but lots of good flavor.

I will be buying more, even though it is out of my way.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Car Crap

My Nissan had a CV joint go bad. It went from no symptoms to unsafe to drive in a week. Not a problem, I've changed axles before without much trouble. Got it apart, put the new axle in, put the steering parts back on with minimal hassle. Except when I went to drive, the car didn't move. The axle went in far enough to put stuff back together, but not far enough to actually connect to the transmission.

No matter how I beat on it, no luck. We needed another car anyhow, and I found a decent deal on a low-miles 97 Cavalier:

(It originally had a window sticker that said "Badass girls drive badass toys". It is a stock Cavalier with an automatic. Someone's idea of badass is a bit different than mine)

Anyhow--I bought a bigger hammer, and still had no luck with the Nissan axle, so I found someone who would come to my house and do the work.

Turns out the axle was defective--The splines were mushroomed into the slots, so the splines inside couldn't get in. I got the replacement axle, and the guy I hired popped it in with no trouble--If the first one had been correct, I would have had the car back on the road that day. I hate stuff like that, it makes me feel incompetent--I should have spotted the problem.

Digging your way out

By way of Kim du Toit comes this story of a college educated man who left home with $25, and without using his diploma or personal contacts wanted to see if he could wind up with an apartment, a car and $2500 in the bank within a year. He quit the experiment two months early due to a family illness, but he had already exceeded his goals. He had a credit card to fall back on, but if he used it the experiment was over and he had failed.

"This proves that anyone can do it".

Well, no, not exactly. He didn't use his diploma, but he couldn't avoid using his education. He was hired as a day laborer which lead to a job with a moving company--Chances are he stood head and shoulders above the other day laborers, and it was more than just the work that he accomplished that got him hired.

It isn't just being willing to work, it is knowing where to exert the effort. He understood basic economics--that he couldn't afford to eat in restaurants, smoke, drink or do drugs. He understood that hard work would eventually be rewarded, but not instantly. He knew that homelessness isn't normal, and had confidence that his efforts wouldn't be wasted. He could read well, knew how to research and find solutions.

On the other hand, his reward was not nearly as great as someone who was in that position naturally--He had a decent life to go to whenever he felt like it, while the people in that situation naturally have decades of the same life to escape from. I would say it is worth quite a bit more effort to permanently escape that sort of situation.

Unfortunately, there are too many places in our system where the system makes short-term decisions with adverse long-term effects. Any wonder that many of the recipients do the same?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Zenni Optical review

Based on a post by Hell in a Handbasket, I did a bit of research, and decided to give Zenni Optical a try. They advertise prescription glasses starting at $8, plus a flat $5 shipping per order. I ordered 4 pairs of glasses from them on Feb 17, and received them this afternoon.

Ordering is fairly simple, although it is a bit cumbersome to pick from the various frame sizes. No hassles about prescription--If you've got the data, you can order, even from an expired prescription. There are some decent looking frames even in the $8 section, and I didn't see anything over $40. Their price includes lenses, a (cheap) hard case, and a cloth. Tint is $5 (with lots of choice of color and amount), Anti-reflective coating is $5, and a (cheap) clip on sunshade shaped to fit is $4

I don't think the sunshade is worth the cost, although I haven't tried it in sun yet--I don't think it is worse than similar shades, but it seems like there are lits of extra reflections. The glasses are fine, although I've got somewhat lopsided ears and had to adjust them a bit to sit straight on my face.

I am a little disappointed in the most expensive pair I bought--I paid almost $50 for a pair of photochromatic sunglasses (almost clear in low light, dark in sunlight) and I picked a frame that is a bit small for my face. This is the biggest drawback in ordering from Zenni, it is hard to know what glasses fit. Width is listed, and I should have paid closer attention.

I also got a pair of sunglasses with memory temples and bridge, semi-rimmed (the string type) for $15--Wore those while driving to work, and the prescription seems fine, as are the $13 hingeless stainless steel semi-rim. Finally, I bought a $10 semi-rimmed that I'm wearing now. Also fine.

I will probably order from them again, but if I get something beyond the basic lens, I'll be more careful about width, and probably stick to a frame style I already have.