WEEK 28 2008

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First Post, 17 March 2002
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A Year Ago, This Week, 2007

Saturday 12 July 2008
Saturday - haircut day. More than about time...

I had a couple of minutes to kill, so I wandered over to the camera/computer section in Walmart. They've now got a Plexiglass cover over the camera display case - you can no longer pick them up without a clerk opening things up for you. They were always cabled, with alarms, to the display case, I suppose that was no longer enough to prevent 'shrinkage' or vandalism. They had some camera external battery packs on another display, rechargeable, and they were now also locked up. I was looking for a rechargeable 9V system to hack up for my fathers WiFi webcam, but since most didn't have their output listed on the front - voltage and current - I couldn't really see if they'd be suitable without tracking down a clerk.

I have a smog notice on the Probe, but I stupidly left it with the rest of my mail down in Ventura. Except for the bills that I brought all the way back up to mail. So I can't get that task done this weekend. Bah.

Oddly my cell phone was dead when I checked it in late afternoon. I'm not sure why - the bluetooth was off, I'd charged it  and it was 100% (or very nearly) the night before. I suspect ActiveSync, that piece of junk, leaves processes running even after you think you've killed it.

Mostly I spent the day reading: Book #31 was To Ride a Rathorn, by P.C. Hodgell. It was a sequel to a couple of other books that I recall enjoying, Godstalk and Dark of the Moon, some years ago. Fantasy, and while well enough written it didn't really grab me this time. I see that there is a third book that I don't think I've read.

Friday 11 July 2008

Friday - hot and humid, windy. Feeling a little tired. Had lunch with friends, did some bills, had the oil changed in the Explorer.

On that last: I generally like the guys over a Quiklube, but lately I've started getting the feeling that they think they are doing me a favor. I pay good money - more than I would at a chain like Jiffylube - and while I don't expect anybody to touch their forehead and call me "Squire" I don't really care for snippy, surly and short when I take my vehicle in for service, either.

I logged onto the Los Angeles County Library website and renewed those books I'd checked out and carted up to Groveland, Cayucos and Martinez without reading.

Then I  read Book #30, On The Wrong Track, by Steve Hockensmith. It's in the Holmes On the Range series. The plot has a couple of cowboys - brothers - who try to imitate (the sincerest form of flattery) Sherlock Holmes in the American West. This time they are working for the despised SPRR company, with banditry, mayhem and murder surrounding them. Recommended.

Thursday 10 July 2008

Thursday - a days work, then a quick check on the boat, a shower, and back on the road up to Lancaster.

The new season of Burn Notice started at 10:00pm, but I was too tired to stay up and watch it. Also it didn't seem quite as good as last season. I'll have it on the TIVO, soI'll review it later.

Book #29 was A Sailing Primer, by Frommer and Weinmann. Short, and not very good.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Wednesday - nice shirtsleeve weather.

I finished Book #28, Pale Blue Dot*, by Carl Sagan. It's a bit of a mixed up book - Sagan himself is unable to decide on where to come down with respect to several subjects he covers in the book - manned space flight vs robotic for example - though it's not clear that he realizes it. He makes the statistically likely case that a presence in space is needed to avert asteroidal and cometary threat in the medium to long term, yet realizes that an asteroidal deflection ability is a two edged threat. A least a couple of the three "doomsday scenario's" that he mentions are probably bogus: nuclear winter and the 'greenhouse effect', I admit that the third - the CFC threat to the ozone hole - I haven't really looked into. If it's like the sloppy science of the AGW people, likely it's bogus as well.

I think that with the CFC issue that the planetary science community had a big bite of the apple - the apple of power and importance, and the thrill of hobnobbing with big time politicians - and it went to their (and Sagan's) head. Too bad. With AGW they've gone even further, and I think it will eventually blow up in their faces.

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Tuesday - up early and drove down to Saticoy. Mid-morning, after looking in vain for my knotted line to help get into the channel with, I finally remembered - it was stolen, on the last day of work before my vacation, probably by some skateboarding kids when I wasn't paying enough attention. Bah. I bought two more at the hardware store, during my lunch break.

Listening to Sagan's Pale Blue Dot, most of the way down yesterday. I had forgotten what a pompous bore he could be, mixed with some fairly interesting speculation. There was the usual harangue of the robot probe people, bitching about manned space flight, and then the international cooperation above all stuff.

 Monday 7 July 2008

Monday - finished a temporary repair job on the front steps, left most of the wood to season. I measured twice, cut once, and still got the tread width wrong. Oh well.

Back on the road, down to Lancaster. 108F was the highest temperature seen, down near the H-198. Mostly in the lower three digits. Moderate traffic. Got in just before dark, mowed the (front) lawn, watered a couple of dry spots, unloaded the vehicle, hit the sack.

Sunday 6 July 2008

Sunday - another warm day. Not a lot going on.

My other sister came up from Fremont, and the sister from Reno stopped by in the afternoon, before heading back up the mountain.

My brother in law managed to get the wireless web camera working. He was sitting there, reading up on the CCNA test, and it occurred to me: "Hey, here is someone who's forgotten more about networking than I've ever known, maybe he should try it."

In other news I started some work on the front stairs, which have a termite problem, but being unable to purchase any seasoned wood am just going to do a temporary repair with a new step and some doublers until my next visit. I had to purchase green timber - at least they were honest about that and have dropped the facade of "kiln-dried" - and will stack it to dry for a few weeks in the sun.

It always made me wonder, did they really think that people believed that they had huge kilns heated by some artificial energy source to dry wood? I can recall water squirting out when I was nailing up a batch of that stuff. This stuff is damp and heavy, if used now it would dry and shrink, and then either tear out the nails and screws or split. Anyway, a month in the dry summer heat will do it good, though it needs to be carefully stacked, with air gaps and weights to keep it from warping.

The local Ace Hardware has pretty much stopped selling lumber. There were a few two-by-fours, some four-by-fours, and a bit of plywood. Nothing like a two-by-twelve or two-by-ten. And they would no longer cut to size if they did. Hmm. A big hardware chain moves in and your response is to reduce stock and service, now there's a strategy for success.

Book #27 was Devices and Desires, by K.J. Parker. It was the first in The Engineer Trilogy. Having finished the two sequels beforehand the plot wasn't particularly a surprise, though the details were interesting. I think that it's unlikely that as creative and flexible an individual as Ziani Vaatzes would arise and succeed in the rule bound city of Mezentia, and his escape was pretty well glossed over. A good read, still.

Back on the road to Lancaster tomorrow.

Picture of the Week
A 'Free Library' in San Luis Obispo
Photo NotesA 'Free Library' in San Luis Obispo.

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