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Month: December 2008


Sitting here at work is proving to be pretty quiet today, except for a few minutes ago when I heard a sound as if someone was rapidly banging on the window somewhere across the floor. When I heard the sound repeat, but much closer to my desk I got up to investigate. When I got to the window a woodpecker was sitting on the outside window sill banging away at the glass.

I tried to take a picture, but it flew away right as I got the shot framed.

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Bianchi D.I.S.S.

Detail of the Salsa seat clamp on the Bianchi D.I.S.S., along with the Cars-R-Coffins art.

I’d intended to hold off on purchasing a new bike for a while, but over the weekend Nick pointed me at this thread at where someone was offering up a Bianchi D.I.S.S. (Disc Integrated Single Speed) with decent specs and in approximately my size (large) for US$300. It looked to have some good quality parts on it (including pedals which fit my current cleats), so I made arrangements to check it out and possibly buy it. Conveniently, I was owed just about the sale price by my parents so I was even able to purchase it without affecting CC or bank account balances.

Shaun (the seller) and I met up today and when I took a look at the bike it seemed to be just what I’d been wanting a few months back when I was considering a much more expensive Raleigh. It needed a bit of adjusting, but after tweaking the brakes, tightening the crankshaft, tightening up the chain a little, putting some screws in the bottle cage mount holes, and adjusting the stem it feels like quite a nice fit and was definitely a good buy.

The only thing I have left to do is reseat the rear tire (it’s a little off and has a slight skip) and possibly rebuild the rear hub (bearings are audible; or maybe that’s the freewheel). There is one non-fixable problem with it, as the tool surface for dust cap for the crank is stripped, but as the crank can still be adjusted it’s not an actual problem. I might replace the dust cap anyway, if I come across one.

Oh, and one of the best parts? Since it’s a single speed it has sliding dropouts, and these normally make it a pain to seat the rear wheel after removing it. However, this bike has a Surly Tuggnut on it, which doubles as a bottle opener. I don’t really have an interest in drinking and riding, but I did make a point of using it tonight, with nothing less than Arbor Brewing Company’s Tree Fort Beer.

Here are a couple more photos I took of the bike and its various bits tonight:

· Bianchi D.I.S.S. which I purchased for $300.
· Detail of the Salsa seat clamp on the Bianchi D.I.S.S., along with the Cars-R-Coffins art.
· Surly Tuggnut on the Bianchi D.I.S.S.. Yes, it is also a bottle opener.
· The dust cap on the crank set has been stripped. I’m not sure how this happened, but at least I can still remove the crank.
· Edoardo Bianchi badge on the head tube of the Bianchi D.I.S.S..
· My somewhat modified Specialized Rockhopper and Bianchi D.I.S.S., sitting side by side in my office.
· Bianchi D.I.S.S., photo #1 sent to me prior to the sale.
· Bianchi D.I.S.S., photo #2 sent to me prior to the sale.

After getting home with the bike I put Roxie in the car, locked myself out of the house (thankfully my parents happened to be near by and helped me out), then drove over to Fraser Bicycle & Fitness and picked up a bike stand, floor pump (because the SKS Airworx one I got before doesn’t work right), and some spare bottle cage bolts. Roxie loved the ride.

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Roxie Is Needy!

Roxie likes it when I lift the blinds up so that she can look outside.

Having Roxie around my house requires that I make some special accommodations for her. Along with keeping food out, making time to play with and walk her, and carrying plastic bags for the collection of poop I also have to lift the blinds enough so that she may look outside.

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Chestnuts Roasting Near A Gas Flame

Roasted chestnuts, showing how the skin peels back after being slit cut with X pattern and roasted.

Danielle purchased a large handful of chestnuts for me a few weeks back and tonight I finally got around to roasting them. Per the directions I found online I slit them (all but one) with an X, put them on a pan, and roasted them at about 425° for 15 minutes or so.

When they were done it wasn’t difficult — just a bit hot — to peel the skins off exposing the meats of the chestnuts. The only difficult part was opening the non-slit one, as cutting it caused a burst of steam to come out and burn me. Whoops! I was hoping that it would explode as the pressure built up, but alas it didn’t.

I’m not sure what I think of the taste of roasted chestnuts. They seem fairly good, but mentally I keep putting them somewhere between edamame and soft walnuts because of the soft texture, bean-ish flavor, and brain-y appearance. Here is a photo of the peeled chestnuts.

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Considering Wide Open West

For years I’ve had Comcast for data services here at my house. I’ve had few problems with them, my IP rarely changes, and the service seems decent. However, I’m trying to figure out a few things about it and searching at Google isn’t providing many results, so I’m hoping that some of you can help me.

I currently pay $62.95 for just data from Comcast. In researching getting a better deal I came across a package from WOW! with 2Mb/sec uploads with digital cable for $99/mo. This package is WOW!’s Xtreme Turbo 15Mbps (2Mbps Upload) Internet and Digital Value Cable Bundle:

WOW! Xtreme 15Mbps Internet is ideal for online gaming, video streaming, downloading large photos and accessing video-rich website content, and includes 5 e-mail accounts, 3 IP addresses and 10 MB of web space. WOW! Digital Value Cable delivers your local broadcast networks and Basic Cable, with an on-screen Interactive Program Guide, 45 channels of commercial-free CD-quality digital music, multiple channels of your primary premium services, expanded pay-per-view selections and access to WOW! OnDemand, our Video OnDemand service with a continually updated library of over a thousand titles including movies, kids’ shows, sports, music, and events.

· How do you like the service overall? What sort of problems have you had? Is the HD content decent or degraded ala Comcast?

· In this it says that I’d get three IPs, but do any of you know how those are allocated? Does the modem (or upstream stuff) just hand out that many, or are they statically set?

· If addressing is done via DHCP, what’s the lease time from WOW!?

· WOW!’s Additional Services & Equipment page lists CableCARDs as costing $3.50/mo. Do you know if this is an M-type? I’m needing to put this in a S3 TiVo, so it’ll have to be either an M-type or I’ll have to get two S-type.

UPDATE: I just signed up for WOW! with an install date of Monday. I was told the first CableCARD is free, and is an M-type. Installation is free, and the referral program should get $25 for both my aunt and I after a couple months. All three IPs appear to be allocated via DHCP, so it’ll take some fancy stuff to have multiple IPs on Trashwall, but I’ll see if I can do it. Ideally everything will be natted via main IP except the Xbox 360 which will be binatted to a second IP to get around Xbox Live / NAT issues.


Dog Walking

Taking Roxie, Danielle's dog, for a walk while I watch her.

Danielle is heading down to Florida for a vacation with some friends, so I’m watching her dog Roxie. She’s a really great dog, but being big and yellow I have to take her outside for regular long walks. Running around indoors is not a sufficient amount of play for an animal of her size.

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ODD SATA for Time Machine

Two SATA cables connected to the ODD SATA port in my Mac Pro, leading to external connectors fitted in a slot on the back of the case.

I’ve been having problems getting Time Machine to reliably back up to a 750 GB disk attached to my AirPort Extreme. Things will work great for a while, but then the backups will just start failing as if the .sparsebundle has become corrupt. This seems to happen if I sleep my machine while Time Machine is backing things up, wake it briefly, then sleep it again before TM completes. On the next backup things will simply fail and never work again.

This wouldn’t be so bad, except that since 10.5.5 or so this speedup for the initial Time Machine backup doesn’t seem to work any more. It’s almost as if Apple removed (or broke?) .sparsebundle TM support locally.

I decided that the best fix would be to sidestep the problem and just start doing Time Machine backups locally, but I’m out of disk slots in my Mac Pro. Wanting this done quickly (and as cheaply as possible) I ran over to Micro Center, picked up a plate for the back of the computer which adapts two internal SATA to eSATA ($7.99) and a cheap eSATA disk enclosure ($26.99). The adapter cables were fit to the ODD SATA ports in the Mac Pro, which are two unused SATA ports on the board apparently reserved for optical drive use.

Not having right angle connectors made this a tight fit, but everything set nicely in place once the connectors were seated. The plate was mounted in the unused second video card slot, 750GB disk (from the AirPort) fitted in the enclosure, and everything setup on a shiny new partition. Time Machine is now doing its thing, about 10% done in one hour, and hopefully it’ll all continue working.

I do not like this store, but it’s the only reasonably priced local computer parts shop. The whole building, customers, and staff all feel as sleezey as what one would find at Gibralter Trade Center. Sales staff that can regularly be overheard selling products based on the wrong information, commission sales, and returned / defective products sold as ‘refurbished’. Think Fry’s with a layer of skin oil on it, like an old keyboard.

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Door #24

Door #24 in this year's (2008) Advent Calendar.

The door on the advent calendar marked 24 has always meant that Christmas is tomorrow, but that Christmas Eve — the most exciting day of all — was here. When I was growing up our immediate family Christmas stuff always happened on Christmas Eve, including what seemed to be a rather nifty way of Santa arriving with presents.

At some point in the evening, usually after dinner and my parents pointing out a blinking red light in the sky which was (clearly!) Rudolph’s nose, the doorbell would ring and IT WAS SANTA. My sister, one of my parents (usually my Dad), and I would all hurry upstairs and hide in one of the bedrooms singing Christmas carols while we heard Santa be let in the house. Santa would be stomping around the house, Ho! Ho! Ho!-ing, and five or seven minutes (an eternity!) would elapse while we sang as hard as we could.

Suddenly the front door would close and it would get quiet, and whichever parent wasn’t with us (usually my Mom) would come upstairs and tell us that she thinks he’s gone. We’d then hurry downstairs and were always two piles of things, one for my sister and one for me. Cookies and milk that had been left out would be partially eaten, and the little bowl of sugar left for the reindeer would have marks in it from the reindeer tongues.

After my sister and I spent time looking through, opening, and somewhat playing with our new stuff it was then time for us to exchange things that we got for each other.

Thinking back I don’t ever remember us having particularly extravagant Christmases, but we were never disappointed. Over the years I remember (lots of) Lego, Transformers, tools, a new robe, fun Nerf stuff, a Game Boy, NES games (my dad had even picked out such amazing games as Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll and Bionic Commando for me), my own CD player / stereo for my bedroom, and just lots of really thoughtful gifts and really nice holidays. Much of this has shaped who I am today in many ways

I also seem to recall that if we ever looked outside after Santa had arrived there would also be marks from the runners on Santa’s sleigh, small marks from reindeer hooves, and footprints from Santa all around and leading up to the front door.

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Danielle’s Bath Bombs

One of the first bath bombs Danielle made, a citrus scent.

After the x0xb0x failed to produce audio and my giving up on it for tonight (admittedly without much troubleshooting) I decided to take a bath and read more of In Defense Of Food while taking a bath. During the time I spent nearing the end of the book I was soaking in hot water scented and softened by a bath bomb made by Danielle, just like the one above.

It had a moderate citrus scent, which went surprisingly well with the Founders’ Red’s Rye I was drinking while soaking in the tub. The water was made almost an opaque off-white (2″ or so visibility) and somewhat oily, but not overly so. I felt no need to shower afterwards, and now my (at least where it was in the water) skin feels comfortably soft. I’m really looking forward to trying out the other version here, which is modeled after Lush‘s Black Pearl.

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