Lee's Journal

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Oct '03 --> Dec '03
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More Compact Fluorescents

I went to Ikea over the weekend with PPG. Our goal: a couple more CF bulbs and an Ikea can opener. It was a real challenge for us to be IN and OUT as quick as possible since, traditionally, shopping at Ikea is more a lifestyle choice than a shopping decision. I'm happy to say that we succeeded!

We were in and out of Ikea in 15 minutes :-).

You know that area of Ikea where you have to wait for your big items to come out of the back warehouse? Do other people call it "purgatory" too? Both PPG and I called it that before we even met each other.

I got some 15 watt CF bulbs that don't have "looks more like an incandescent" shields on them. The big fixture in the front hall could use a little more brightness. So I swapped out the 11 watt bulbs for 15 watts. They're great. Bright, white, natural, and way cheaper than incandescents.

I've replacing light fixtures all over the house. Usually I replace a 100 watt incandescent with a 75 watt inc. and an 11 watt fl. on a splitter. It gives more light, it comes on instantly and uses less electricity. Happy day.

The Best Deal on a Cell Phone

Amazon.com. Sony Ericsson T610 Phone, T-Mobile $40/month, 600 minutes/month + free nights and weekends. They pay you $50 to take the phone. $35 activation fee. Total cost for first year: $35 + $480 - $50 = $465.

$465 is a lot of money... but that's about the best deal going...

Life Balance

A friend of mine is a developer of Life Balance. It looks like a great program. It's a program to help you manage the tasks in your life... in more than just a checklist format. It's for Windows and the Palm OS. I'm a PocketPC user so I can't really use it :-(

Check out Life Balance.


I see the draw for Macintosh computers

I found myself in the Short Hills Mall a few days ago (technically, "The Mall at Short Hills" but saying that makes me want to vomit and defecate at the same time). They have an Apple Computer store. The place is totally done up... if you squint a little, it looks like The Disney Store for high-tech adults. It's as if The Sharper Image is for mechanical engineers while The Apple Store is for information (music, images, literary, etc) engineers. The vibe was palpable. I understand the hype.


Robot Stories

It was initially a pain to organize but I'm so glad that I  finally got to see Robot Stories with friends! The initial plan was to see it on opening night at The Cinema Village theater in NYC. I had sent out emails and organized so that about 5 friends and I would go to the 7:40 show. River was a late comer so he tried to get a ticket online. But it was sold out. It's a good thing he emailed me that because I didn't have tickets yet! I was going to go all the way into the city and meet for dinner just to find out I couldn't get into the show! Both shows were sold out on opening night so we had to reschedule. Another round of invites went out for the Wednesday 7:40 show. Glenn, Shara, Jim D, Marian, and Marah said "yes".

What a great evening! It started out with a minor miracle... I found a place to park on 3rd between 11th & 12th. But I realized that I didn't have any quarters for the meter. A guy parked right next to me so I got out and asked to buy quarters from him. I looked in my wallet and frowned as I noticed that all I had were $20s. He gave me a quarter... yes, that's right gave me a quarter and suggested that I use the 15 minutes to find more quarters. :-)

I got some quarters at a costume & magic shop right nearby (I'll have to go back, they had fun things). I walked to the theater and noticed that there was free street parking right in front of the theater starting at 6pm. At 5:40, no one had shown up so I fetched my car and sat in it 'til 6. I parked right in front of the theater!

Glenn showed up at 6 and we met in front of the theater. We walked to the restaurant and met up with Marian and Marah. Dinner was just peachy. The talk was really nice. It's nice to be social! We went off to the theater and met Jim in front. In we went. We were there 10 minutes before showtime and the theater was packed! There were only about 180 seats or so but.. it was packed! We found 6 seats in the first and second row.

The movie rocked. No one was disappointed. You should see this film!

We went off to Cosi (previously Xando) a few blocks away. Laughing, carousing, talking, happy times! Marshmallow s'mores (complete with fire!), mint hot chocolate, talk about the movie, the universe, space elevators, work and play, the future, the world. It was just wonderful!

As the evening closed, I got to drive Glenn and Shara home. Glenn showed me a great place to park when coming to the city... next to the Harrison PATH stop there is a pay parking lot.

A great night.

Computer Guy is right on

Read Part 1

and Part 2



George W. Bush on Meet the Press

George W. gave an interview on the NBC program Meet the Press. Here is a transcript of the interview with my comments.

Transcript with comments (long).

Food Irradiation

From Irradiation: A Safe Measure for Safer Food from the FDA:

As part of its approval, FDA requires that irradiated foods include labeling with either the statement "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation" and the international symbol for irradiation, the radura. Irradiation labeling requirements apply only to foods sold in stores. For example, irradiated spices or fresh strawberries should be labeled. When used as ingredients in other foods, however, the label of the other food does not need to describe these ingredients as irradiated. Irradiation labeling also does not apply to restaurant foods.


Though I shouldn't just point out the scary negative side... It's a good, pretty balanced article, written in 1998. In the article, the author says that virtually nobody uses irradiation except for spices, where "Many spices sold in this country also are irradiated". It's supposed to be safe. I don't know, it still gives me the willies.

That cute pink symbol to the right is the "radura", the symbol for irradiated food. No, I've never seen it before either.

Everyone knows what that other symbol is...


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Everything

You've seen those TV commercials for the past 20 years talking about "Catalog, Pueblo Colorado" but never bothered to write away to them. Well they are all online and they are all in HTML and/or PDF format at The Federal Citizen Information Center. And it's all free! A lot of the guides are pretty much common sense and you'll often find just more of the same crap you see everywhere else. Crap like how you should check your tire pressure, and antifreeze weekly (yeah, I check mine every Sunday afternoon like clockwork). But I've found a nugget or two of information there. Enjoy.


Each City Has It's Own Type of Driver

(transcribed (sometimes poorly) from musings while I was driving a few months ago)

Each city has its own characteristic type of driver. And these types of drivers are created out of the geography of the roads they drive on. For example, a New York City driver, due to the grid patterns and the very businesslike nature of the place, and the timing of the lights, a New York City driver is very aggressive, completely unforgiving, but will generally fight fairly. An alternate merge is an alternate merge. When the light turns red, you stop. People in NYC don't bust through a light 10 seconds after it's turned because they know that if they do, they're dead. A Boston driver is insane because a Boston driver has to be insane. The rotary system and the one-way nature of the roads create that kind of driver. For example, when you drive into the rotaries in Fresh Pond, you pull up to the intersection and you just have to GO at some crazy random interval because there is no way that you're ever going to get to go on your own unless you push the pedal and just hope you don't hit something. That's insane... but that's what's needed in Boston. There are some patterns to how the Boston roads work and similarly there are weird patterns to how Boston drivers work. For example, TJIC almost got in an accident the other day. He was driving along and came to a Stop sign. On the other side of the intersection, three cars came to the Stop sign. One car went and then TJIC started to go and he almost hit the second car in the lineup. The guy from the other car jumped out of his car completely irate. He shouted, "In Boston, when three cars come up to a stop sign.. when the first car starts to go, all three cars get to go through!" TJIC retorted, saying, "They might, but the second two are illegal." And the Boston driver just didn't understand this. He kept saying how three cars go through a Stop sign together.

You see, TJIC has remained in some parts a NJ driver. NJ drivers have big roads, they can't parallel park (because they never have to in NJ), random grid structures, gotta follow the map. They're kinda middle of the road drivers. They don't know how to do city driving. That stresses them out to no end because, out here, you drive 10 miles and then come to a light. Another 10 miles and then another light. They aren't really trained for the exciting world of big city driving.

Philadelphia drivers make me a little uncomfortable. For example, they drive backwards on major roadways! In two hours of driving in Phila, I saw four people inappropriately backing up in the middle of the road. But I kind of understand why they are doing that. Kind of like Boston, there are all these little subdivisions... villages that grew until they touched each other. So the roads are a bit topsy turvy. You'll be driving along and you'll come to a light, another light, another light, a Stop sign, and a light. Don't you miss that Stop sign! And the roadways in Phila are all rough. So Phila drivers go a little slower and have to drive more carefully. They have to be very attentive or they're gonna get themselves killed pretty quick. There is parallel parking everywhere. So you have to really strain your neck when pulling out one of those Stop sign intersections. Phila drivers are slow... I'm not going to say "careful" but they are all aware that their roads are slow... more like bumper cars than superhighways.




In order to get and propagate "the fastest spreading internet worm in history", each and every victim has to actively click on a suspicious looking attachment. Sympathy level = low.

I still think it's pretty funny (though wrong, of course) that SCO is getting hammered.




At this very moment I am:



YAGW: Yet Another Great Weekend (with a rough start)

Friday afternoon I was getting ready to go out to meet the Eleventh President when I got a message from my neighbor saying that the email mailing list I've been trying to get started for the last 11 months (yes, I said 11 months) was voted down by [insert vulgarities here]. Mulling this over the weekend I was considering how I could resign with the most effectiveness over this issue.
To clean this part of the weekend up quickly, I got a message from him Sunday afternoon saying that it wasn't dead, the board was just too busy talking about more important matters at the meeting to deal with the mailing list. We'll see.

11 months!

But I digress on describing YAGW.

Friday at 6 (actually 6:20 b/c I had to cool off after getting the above bad news) I met with the Eleventh President at Moghul in Morristown. The meal was exquisite. Not inexpensive but worth it, right down to the aromatic rice. We proceeded to a party in New Brunswick with friends of the Eleventh President. PPG was there too! Mutual friends! It was a very young crowd... 21-25 or so, a college pad. They had DanceDanceRevolution on Xbox downstairs. We tried it out and I really got into the groove with it. the Eleventh President and some others also played. We had a blast!

I went back with PPG at 4am. Late!

Saturday, we went in to NYC. PPG got a facial and her hair cut from 4-6. I bought the very last two cases of Marilyn Merlot 1996 and Marilyn Merlot 1997 from my wine supplier in the city. The owner told me that he had 2 cases of 1994 just last week and he sold them to a guy from Pennsylvania for $40/bottle or something. Those are $150 bottles! ARG! Well, I gave him my phone number in case he gets more... I also spent a while talking to the Eleventh President using my bluetooth headset. It was fun getting mistaken for a lunatic on the streets; I was standing outside, hands at my sides, wearing a hat that covers the earpiece and talking to NO ONE. A couple people gave me strange looks. I pointed to my ear and they feigned understanding. ;-)

I picked up PPG. We found each other by cell phone... I never actually found out where exactly her spa was. When I dropped her off, she didn't know exactly how to get there so I had just dropped her off and she walked the last 1/4-2 blocks, feeling her way. Now when picking her up, I stopped at a corner near where I dropped her off. She was on foot; she told me the street corner she had just passed and the one she was approaching. I checked my map and figured out where she was. I guided her in by map. "Ok, at the next intersection, turn right and walk 1 block. [step, step, step, step...] Ok now look to your left and smile. Wave."

We went off to Toys in Babeland for accoutrements. And then pizza. Thin, perfect New York Pizza. Ahhh. I took one bite and told PPG that I didn't -need- any more. But of course I finished both slices!

Then it was off to a party at Gatsby's in the Village. It was someone's birthday. The someone seemed very nice. She just turned 22. Much of this crowd is starting to become familiar to me. That's good.

11pm: off to Paddles. But I was so gosh darn tired that I couldn't go in. PPG had a play date so I insisted that she go in while I stayed in the car basking in the quiet, playing with my cell phone and happily vegging out for a while. It was really quite nice actually. (it also didn't hurt that her lack of a penis got her in for free while it costs $25 to get mine in.) Her date was a no-show so we ended up leaving just after midnight. Home. Sleep. Good.

Next morning: movies! PPG, River and myself made it to a 4:05 showing of Big Fish in Piscataway. We all got something out of it and liked it a lot. It's an excellent story and very well done.

After the movie, the three of us went to Four Seasons Thai restaurant in Piscataway (1353 Stelton Road 732-819-8787). Low on atmosphere, excellent authentic food, low prices, highly recommended. From there, we all split up and went home. And they all lived happily ever after.

Litter Maid Works Well

PPG was recently given a Litter Maid Mega self cleaning cat litter box. She set it up a week ago and I've got to say that it works very well. You can walk into the bathroom and your nose almost doesn't know that there's a litter box there. That certainly wasn't the case before! The cat took right to it, opting to go to this new perpetually clean litter box even before the old not perfectly clean litter box was removed. PPG says that it's easy and convenient to clean. In a week, she had to add clumping litter only once, and only refilling the box about 1/3. So the (more expensive per pound) litter probably isn't any more expensive. One really nice thing is that the cat isn't tracking the new Tidy Cat scoopable into the rest of the bathroom nearly as much as the old regular Tidy Cat litter.

This litter box costs about $150 and it's worth it!

VITO Dialer

VITO Dialer is a good little $10 program integrates with my Pocket PC Contacts list. It sends dialing commands from my PocketPC to my cell phone via infrared (or bluetooth if my PocketPC had it). So now I don't have to copy phone numbers from my PocketPC in my left hand to my phone in my right hand while driving with my knee. And that's a good thing. Their site has a couple other good PocketPC --> cell phone products. I'm gonna check 'em out.



Today's Kink: Stuck in the Mud

I was at a party a while ago. Things were getting a little racy and we were talking about the kinds of sex we were into. One guy got overly bold/eager/green and said, "I'm open to pretty much anything." Jumping right in, I asked him with deadpan inquisitiveness , "What about catheterization*?" It took a moment for the image to fully form in his mind of what I was suggesting. Then he laughed nervously and said, "Umm. Err. Well, maybe not 'anything'." The whole room laughed. It became a big/funny subject for the evening. "Hello, my name is Lee. And no, I'm not into catheterization."

* The practice of putting a catheter up your urethra for pleasure. (Yea, it squicks me too.)

That vignette brings up today's kink... Girls Stuck in the Mud. My sister told me about this web site and... ooo eee, it got me hot.. or maybe it wigged me out... or maybe it's such a taboo subject that I don't know WHAT to think. Or maybe it's just so messed up that it short circuited my brain into thinking that it was a bucket of delectable flax seed.

Check it out: http://www.carstuckgirls.com

Click on each thumbnail:

I'll go ahead and ask the obvious question: who buys such videos?

And why did I grab so many thumbnails? Maybe I like flax.



Snow Globe Madness

Molls sent this to me before xmas.  I stole it from this site and pulled it local for posterity. Click on the picture to play this shocking Shockwave.

Ambient Orb

I really thought this Ambient Orb thing was a joke when I first saw it. But then I saw that it's really sold in Brookstone and uses the Airmessage pager network to receive updates! Cool.






Incredibly large numbers.. Seti at Home

I just thought this issue with scale was kind of cool. Lifted from SETI@Home.

There's a third type of incorrect result that occurs, too. Sometimes, very rarely, a computer will get the wrong answer to a calculation for no apparent reason. This appears to happen about one out of every 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 calculations. If you let your computer run SETI@home for a thousand years, it would get the wrong answer once. (Of course by then your computer would have failed for some other reason). But since SETI@home gets a thousand years of CPU time every day, we see one or more of these failures per day.

Robot Stories

I saw the tail end of this movie at Arisia 2 weeks ago. It's fantastic. As I told the writer/director after the show, "It really pushed a button." .... "I didn't expect to cry at the con. Thank you."

I wrote to a couple indie movie theaters, asking them to show the film.

You should see Robot Stories.

Cell phone update: Jabra FreeSpeak earpiece

I got a cell phone about a month ago with Jabra Freespeak bluetooth earpiece... I also got an antenna so I could get reception in my basement bedroom.

The antenna works pretty well. In the downstairs of the house, I get 0-1 bar of cell phone strength, and the sound gets flakey if I move the phone while I'm talking. With the antenna, I get 1-3 bars and it doesn't get flakey. Of course, I now have a 2' antenna in the corner of the room and a wire going from my phone to the antenna....

The Jabra bluetooth thingy is great. Sound quality is very good, wearability is excellent, it never cuts out, it's convenient. I've had a little bit of trouble figuring out where the sound is going to go to: the handset or the earpiece. Maybe that was user error.. maybe. Carrying 2 items instead of 1 is a little bit of a bother. It takes a few seconds to put the earpiece on so when a call comes in, I have to scurry to find the earpiece. But hey. Maybe when I become fully assimilated, I'll just leave the earpiece in all the time. I'd recommend it. Especially since I got mine for free with my bluetooth enabled phone. I hear these things retail for $100.


My favorite parts of Arisia

I think my first Arisia was in 1991. That's a lot of conning...  This year, I just went to a few events. And actually... hmm. I didn't make it to a single of the 420 or so panels. I planned on making it to 5 or 10 but... hey.

So here are my favorites:

It was also very interesting to see that there were 2 polyamory panels at Arisia.

I had wanted to see: Microcontrollers, Reading - Cecilia Tan, Origami, Icehouse Games demo, Foam Carving, Dr. Seuss, Special Filk Guest Concert: Tom Smith, The Golden Days of Classic Arcade, Internet Governance: Who Rules the Net?, What's Up With Copyright These Days, The Digital Millenium Copyright Act at 5, Commissioned Art, Slide Show - Casting in Bronze, Are Radio Plays Dead?, Masquerade.


Net Send * Hey!

This 13 year old kid in Texas got suspended for figuring out how to do a "net send". That's not right. So I sent him a letter:

Lee C. Sonko
[address removed]

Vampire & Cowgirl  [address from the nightmare candles website]
Po Box 1203
Hurst, Tx 76053


We donít know each other but I wanted to write you a real ink and paper note to offer you and your family support, and reaffirm your suspicion that your teachers are being ninnies on this whole Net Send issue.

Rock on,

Lee Sonko

And a fax to the school...

Lee C. Sonko
[address removed]

Principal Tommy Rollins [address from the school's website]
North Richland Middle School
4800 Rufe Snow Dr
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
Phone: (817) 547-4200
Fax: (817) 581-5372

Concerning the matter of Carl Grimmerís suspension for using the ďnet sendĒ computer command:

Iím sure that you have, by now researched what Carl did in the computer lab and know what his intentions likely were.

If you set the example of severely punishing students for learning independently, youíll get exactly what you demand of your students.

Thank you for your consideration,
Lee C. Sonko


The original story:
Fort Worth Star Telegram

Other websites:
Dave's Good Stuff
The Opinion Journal from The Wall Street Journal



Spam 450 million years in the future

PPG showed this to me. From The New York Times:

Gallery Show Seeks the Art in Spam, Seen Through the Eyes of the Future

January 26, 2004

The discordant verse, in simple black letters on white paper, is in keeping with the basement alternative art gallery in which it hangs:
victorious tank tepid conservatism veldt

cerulean carl
frontal decry brennan
It may seem the work of a striving, if cryptic, poet. But it is an excerpt from the nonsense words found in a junk e-mail message, as captured in a Manhattan exhibit that tries to make art out of spam.

The exhibit, titled "Reimagining the Ordovician Gothic: Fossils From the Golden Age of Spam," is at Spaceworks at the Tank, a gallery and performance space on West 42nd Street devoted to experimental works.

Jesse Jarnow, one of the curators, said the name was inspired by a display he saw at the American Museum of Natural History on the Ordovician period, an era that ended about 445 million years ago, when the earth was dominated by primitive sea creatures.

"They had all these brightly colored snails," he said. "But they don't really know what it was really like."

Riffing on the idea of junk e-mail as a lowly commercial life form, Mr. Jarnow along with the other curators, Daniel Greenfeld and Mike Rosenthal, tried to depict how an archaeologist 450 million years in the future might present current culture, based only on relics of spam. Motifs include the random text typically added to the end of spam to avoid being discarded by spam-finding filter programs, which the exhibit presents as the work of the "great writers of the 'Ordovician Gothic.' "

The accompanying text notes that "this school of writers emphasized playful literary juxtaposition, frequently casting aside the period's typical syntax in order to achieve a more visceral form."

Using the sort of displays common in natural history
museums, the exhibit examines other aspects of the world as captured in the amber of spam. Light-up dioramas, for example, show pictures of the actual deposed African leaders who are frequently the purported authors of e-mail proposing deals that typically involve wire transfers of many thousands of dollars. "It is not known whether or not their appeals were received by willing accomplices or not," the exhibit commentary says. "If they were, most likely, those who responded were simply drawn into the deep unrest from which the requests sprang."

The spam exhibition will be on display through Feb. 15 at Spaceworks at the Tank, 432 West 42nd Street. It is open Thursdays and Fridays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, noon to 6 p.m., and during performances.



Really Fantabulous Weekend

The weeks fly by too quick!

Originally was planning on spending just a day or so at PPG's. Spent all weekend. It was a [insert above title here]. Friday night we went out to the movies... but didn't go out :-). I brought the movies home... popcorn, hot dogs, those awful nachos and gooey cheese-food-product, Yoo Hootm , way too much sweet/salty snack food and soda. Watched "Insomnia"... in the original Norwegian. Creepy, alien, scary, bad people, good movie. PPG's friend Ci came over and we talked and had fun. During-which I made this chocolate-chocolate-chocolate cake-thing that was SUPPOSED to be an insomnia-inducing agent related to the movie but I didn't get around to it til Saturday. It was only "ok", not terrific, but VERY chocolaty! Ingredients: 1/2 lb semi-sweet chocolate, 1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate, 10 tbsp butter, 5 eggs (with soft peaks and folding involved) 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.... and that's it! Instead of going out Saturday night, we stayed in. HURRAY! We were supposed to go out to this thing in NYC or this other thing in North Jersey to support various friends... but WE DIDN'T WANT TO. So we didn't. We stayed home and made candles and talked instead! Oh, did I mention that PPG and I didn't get out of bed until noon on Saturday? :-) Sunday we forced ourselves up by ... I don't even remember... before noon. And went out on fun errands ("BRRR IT'S COLD!") that turned unhappyish when the reverse-beeper on the forklift at Home Depot was WAY TOO LOUD and just wouldn't stop. And that Home Depot is BACKWARDS! You walk in and the lighting section is in front of you... kind of, but the rest of the store is off to your RIGHT instead of the left! But even still, there were some little aisles off to the left that weren't the seasonal shelves. It was very confusing. And someone stole our cart but not the stuff in it! Weird and nose-crinkling bad! GRR! But the fish in PetSmart helped calm us down. And then we went to a Pizzaria where they were nice and it was quiet and the cappuccino tasted like cappuccino and not a mocha-frappe-choco-cara-frotha-ccino. And even though their stromboli was really a calzone, it was a good calzone. And they had home made cheesecake, made by the owner of the place and even though we didn't have any, it looked really good. Ninette's Italian Restaurant saved us!

So we went home and did all the things we fetched things to do. Put up an Ikea door pot-top holder, nailed x-mas lights under the counter, formed this steel-sheet-come-blackboard onto a structural pillar (it looks slick!) set up an electric kitty litter scooper-thing (also good) put a night-light in the bathroom (looks good but 4 watts of compact fluorescent is a surprisingly large amount of light!), put up a hanging ironing board, talked about all kinds of fun things and played with her new Forever Flashlight (which works pretty darn good, especially for where we tried using it!).

And then we went to sleep, and got up the next morning and here I am!


Coed Naked Hot Wax Twister!

Ah, but I've said too much already!

Ikea Lighting Redux

I went to Home Depot and got several light bulb splitters. A 75 watt incandescent and an 11 watt Ikea compact fluorescent in each lamp makes for excellent bright lighting. :-)


My new Favorite Computer Toy: ShortKeys

From their website:

ShortKeys is a utility that allows you to set up replacement text or paragraphs for any given number of user defined keystrokes. ShortKeys monitors the keyboard activity on a global nature and anytime a user defined keystroke combination is typed in, it will be replaced with the replacement text.

It's a macro program. I type "..address" and it automatically backspaces over what I just typed and inserts my full address. I've now got macros for .signatures, and several random things. I like it. It works in any program, Outlook, Mapquest.com, Word, Notepad, Editpad.. anything, because it's a key-sniffer. And best of all, there's a freeware version! Get it at Shorkeys.com

Some good in the universe: DoNotCall.gov

I got this email from the DoNotCall.gov people.

Here is the link: https://www.donotcall.gov/Register/RegVer.aspx?DN[trimmed]

Click on the link to complete your request to register your phone number with the last four digits [trimmed] on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Important: You must respond to this email by clicking the link within 72 hours for your registration to be successful.

Once you have registered, your phone number registration will be effective for 5 years. It will be illegal for most telemarketers to call you, and you will be able to file a complaint if a telemarketer does call you. The website www.donotcall.gov provides information about filing a complaint.

Important: After you click on the link, print the web page and keep it for your records.

Troubleshooting: If you don't get a "Registration Complete" message after clicking on the link, or the link does not work, use your "cut" and "paste" functions to insert the entire link in the email into the "Address" line on your Web browser. Cut and past the entire link - it's long. Do not re-type it.

Please do not reply to this message as it is from an unattended mailbox. Any replies to this email will not be responded to or forwarded. This service is used for outgoing emails only and cannot respond to inquiries.



Heisenberg's Car Charging Apparatus

This story is actually from back in September but I'm just getting around to entering it.

I was up at Seneca Lake in September. Will was having trouble getting his van started. He tried putting one of those portable nicad battery chargers on it for a few hours but that didn't really help. He recharged the nicad pack and tried again the next day to no avail. We tried jumper cables from my car to his van and let it sit for 5 minutes. That worked a little to bring his battery back but still not enough to start the van. Then I had a thought... I had my radio controlled airplane stuff with me so I plugged my airplane battery charger into his cigarette lighter. You see, my charger has a voltmeter on it. I wanted to check the resting voltage of his battery. I saw that his battery was generating 12.88 volts, which should be plenty of juice to start his van.

After checking the voltage, his van cranked right over! It's Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle at work! Until we measured the voltage, we didn't know if there was enough... so the van wouldn't start. But then when we knew how much voltage there was, it -had- to work!

(Yes, this is a completely true story)


Paypal Thievery? Or Industriousness?

I sell stuff on eBay. Many of my buyers pay via Paypal. Paypal has a very convenient integration with eBay and UPS so that I just have to click a "Ship Now" button on their website to pay for the shipment and print out a label. Slick.

I also have a UPS Internet Shipping account. Today I tried shipping the same package with both the Paypal system and UPS internet shipping directly. It turns out that Paypal charges a 15% overhead fee. Paypal charged $9.60 for the package, UPS $8.20. Of course they don't call it that... Paypal says, "This Shipping Cost is the same as available directly from UPS On Demand". That's well and good but no one ever gets a UPS On Demand Account because they are needlessly more expensive than regular Internet Shipping accounts.

I won't be using that service any more.... paying $1.50 for a series of 6 or so copy and paste operations from Paypal to UPS. Hurumph.


Why Jaguar's Suck


Both my parents drive Jaguars. A '98 XJS and a '99 Vanden Plas, I think. I really dislike these cars.


If you think the Cons outweigh the Pros, buy one. Just stay away from me.


Happy New Year!

I spent New Years eve in Philadelphia. Saw fireworks right up close! I was there with PPG and several PP friends. PPG's Sw has an apartment right on the river (no, literally. If you drilled a hole in his living room, you'd hit a parking level and then water!) The party itself was a bit low key for my taste, but the apartment is lovely. Red curtain, amazing modular wall storage up to 18 feet, rice paper lighting, and a winch-operated table!

Ikea Lighting

I went to Ikea and got a mess of their compact fluorescents. I think I'm finally happy with a compact fluorescent installation! At our front door, I replaced a set of 6 40 watt candelabra bulbs and 3 60 watt normal base bulbs with 3 7 watt candelabra bulbs, 3 40 watt incandescent candelabra bulbs, and 3 11 watt normal base bulbs. In this installation, you can only barely tell the new bulbs are any different and it's not a bad different. I left 3 incandescents so the fixture would turn on instantly and also because 3 sockets sit so that the slightly larger fluorescent bulbs can be seen from below (bad).

old: 420 watts         new: 174 watts      savings: 246 watts
at 8hrs/day of usage and $0.10/kilowatt/hr, that's about $0.20/day.
with a 10,000 lifespan, that's 1,250 days or $250 savings over 3.4 years

The CF bulbs cost $3 apiece.... $3/10,000 hrs     $0.0003/hr
incandescents cost $0.75 apiece.... $0.75/1,000 hrs $0.00075/hr
considering their lifespan, CF bulbs are cheaper to purchase than incandescents

I put them into another fixture as well. 6 40 watt bulbs replaced by 5 7 watt bulbs and 1 40 watt incandescent...   75 instead of 240 watts... 165 watts saved... savings of $0.13/day.

These bulbs don't work well in many locations. They don't look good where a single bulb is being used because the light is still a tiny bit  pale and "sickly fluorescent", even though you wouldn't think that when you see them in Ikea. Maybe it takes several bulbs to cover up their subtle flicker. They don't work with dimmers (I have to go buy a 3 way non-dimmed switch today). They flicker-on and take a minute to warm up so they aren't good as the only bulbs where you need instant-on like in a rarely used stairwell. In bare-bulb applications, they don't look nearly as stylish as incandescents. They are a tiny bit longer than their incandescent counterparts so they might not fit in a fixture; though the Ikea bulbs are a LOT smaller than many other bulbs I've seen.

After all my failed experiments, I'm glad that I'm finally happy with a compact fluorescent installation.

Cell phone arrived

My cell phone arrived. I'm giddy as a school girl to run it through it's paces. Of course, I've already been disconnected due to poor signal strength while I was sitting in the living room setting up voicemail. But I'm still giddy.

This Month's Picture

Something green. I took this shot near my family's house in Bondville Vermont this past summer. Isn't it sublime?

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