Saturday, January 15, 2005

No protest for me

There are many people who believe that I am first and foremost a capitalist. They are, I suppose, correct. But despite my prowess at sales I am not a worshipper of the almighty dollar. I have never judged the quality of my life upon the amount of money I am earning. Indeed, I enjoyed my earlier life quite well living from paycheck to paycheck.

So here I am, in our slow season, and what with the election being what it was (a farce) I considered doing something I've never done before. Protesting. I come from a proud family of protesters. My father protested the Vietnam War, my brother has protested, even my mother has gone to Washington a few times. So I felt that the upcoming inauguration would be a good opportunity to make my opinion known.

I didn't plan on joining the youth of our nation, yelling and waving banners with slogans like 'No blood for oil" etc. Those people will never get within a half mile of Bush. No, I planned on dressing nice and neat, maybe wearing a tie. I planned on getting onto the motorcade route, and when that stupid monkey passed by I planned on turning my back on him.

I talked with a few friends who showed some interest in going. But there are a lot of logistical barriers to attending a protest during an inauguration where the city has been locked down as if under martial law.

And then life seemed to tap me on the shoulder. It informed me that my home had a leak. It reminded me that we're having a guy hang drywall and a circuit breaker seems to keep popping without reason. It showed me our business account, and while we did good sales this season, we also bought a van and paid for it outright. It reminded me that the Ren season is months off.

So I reluctantly fired up my browser and found a sci-fi convention that wasn't too far away and might generate some income. It starts the day after the inauguration and it would be almost impossible to do the protest and still get to the con in time to set up and start generating sales. I tried for two days to find some other event but there was nothing on the radar unless I was willing to go to Texas or the UK, both of which would require too much outlay for an unknown event.

I feel like I've let down my family, even though they didn't know what I planned on doing. And worse, I feel like I have let an opportunity pass me by which will not come again (at least for this presidente'). Rossana is a pragmatist and she doesn't feel that my presence there would make a great difference, and she is right to a point. But what if 50,000 people who felt like me showed up, and all turned their back on this warmonger? That sends a message. I can only hope that there are other who will do what it takes to make their voices heard.

For now I am forced to bow to economic necessity, and it kind of sucks.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

So not cool - Tmobile cocks up

So you may have read that some punk broke into t-mobiles servers and had about a year to look through everyone's stuff. This includes customers like Secret Service agents and celebs. He then tried to sell this stuff to other 7eet clowns. While I am not a celebrity I do believe I have a right for my data to be kept from the prying eyes of some hacking asshat.

Here is the pleasant letter I send them:

Dear T-mobile Thank you for letting a 21 year old punk get access to your servers for almost a year. I conduct a good deal of business using my Sidekick and Sidekick II. And although I've never been dumb enough to send things like credit card info using my phone, I have exchanged a lot of proprietary and important information. I wonder if any of it was picked up by that kid? I guess I'll never know will I? You didn't even seem to think it was important enough to post a press release about. A fucking press release, let alone an email. You company has been nothing but a disappointment from the start. From the broken promise of outlook synch for the first Sidekick to the worst coverage area of any provider.

This latest piece of news is just the icing on a cake composed almost entirely of crap. Can you give me one reason to stick with your company? The new Treo is pretty sweet and there are some new Smartphones that can do what your phone does.So what can you offer me to stick with your company? Better coverage? Lower rates? Better customer service? How about just an apology?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Underground living, now with more suck!

When we began the house-buying process almost a year ago we were really nervous about only one thing. Moisture. A friend of mines father, who is a realtor, gave us stern warnings. He told us to walk away from this place and walk away quick.

In the course of our due diligence (paranoia) we had the house inspected twice. First, by a drooling, toothless yokel and then by 'the Fennucci brothers'. Their name wasn't Fennucci, but it could have been. They were great. Very thorough and very cool. They even gave us snacks! But they pointed out to us that there was no absolute way to be sure that our home would remain water tight. Underground houses are impossible to inspect on the outside and it is a 20 year old home.

We knew there was a very small leak near the back of the house where a short passage leads to our garage. In early December we had a guy we call 'mumbles' come over and fix it, and yes, he dug up part of our roof. He found and fixed the problem and in general cleaned up the area and improved its drainage.

One month later and we find water coming in from behind the cedar lining of our bedroom closet. There was only one way to see how bad it was, so three days ago I went in with a hammer. What I found wasn't pretty. I can't even bring myself to post a picture, it was THAT scary. The wall looked like it belonged in a Turkish prison.

Several hours of scraping cleaned the area up and exposed a very small crack. It convinced us that we need to do repairs to this part of the house from the outside. The leaking might never have been noticed if not for the unbelievable amount of rain we've been getting here. It just won't stop. The property is waterlogged. If and when it stops and the wall dries out I will paint it with a special waterproof paint. But we really do need to find the source of the water and correct the drainage.

Overall the leak is far smaller than other leaks I've had over the years. The old house we had on lorain road in North Olmsted years ago once flooded to almost 8 inches. And I do not regret getting Bag End. It's just another fun facet of home ownership. Joy.


So I gues what we really needed here in Ohio was more Goddamn rain. It went on all night and through the morning. Small rivers formed in the back yard. The tiny creek behind the pond was now about a class three rapid. I attempted to patch over the crack using a quick setting cement that said it could plug leaks, even under pressure. This did not seem to happen. Water just kept coming. Eventually the rain stopped, the temp went to 60 and the fucking sun made an appearence. The leak seems to have eased up, but not to worry, there's more rain expected tomorrow, followed by Snow,Ice Giants and then, I believe, swarms of locusts.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Cool - Modding my bed

So everyone has some kind of keen-o modded computer case. Lots of neon and fans and whatnot, which is great and all, but its not my 'thing". No, my thing is different (or so I have been told). So I present the story of my custom modded bed.

My bed started out as a normal, everyday item. It can be purchased at a number of stores pretty cheap. It is essentially a black tubular frame with tall posts, capped with some decorative wrought ironwork. There are thin tubes connecting the top of the posts which you can hang drapes from. This configuration worked well at our old place, where we had high ceilings, but the new house has a smaller bedroom overall. The top section had to go. Removing the upper tubes left a nice frame and we could still use the decorative tops. Below is what the corners looked like.

At some point I realized that if I removed the little swirly bit, a pillar candle would fit nicely atop the bedpost and give a nice medieval glow to the room. The problem is that candles involve flame, and wax. Ever since having my head catch fire I've been Mr. Safety and the open flame atop the bed thing wasn't going to happen. So I cast my eyes to the internets and found the coolest thing on gods green earth - electronic candles. These things aren't some crappy fake candle with a cheesy flame shaped bulb, fuck no. They have a small microprocessor that control's three small lights that change intensity randomly. The effect is totally real, and its housed in a very realistic looking melted candle shell.

incorporating these candles however, would take some serious modding. First off, I bought the wrong size, which were too big. I got another set which was perfect and I began the project. I had to shave the power plugs to fit through two holes made in the tubular steel frame using a drill and a dremmel.

Then I had to create wooden plugs to fit into the bottom of the candles so that they wouldn't simply fall off the bed with the slightest of jiggles.

Once the wires were fished though the bed to the candles, both transformers were plugged into a wireless remote so I could turn them on and off with slacker like ease. Here is the end result:

I haven't decided what to do with the extra candles. The effect is so cool that I'd like to make lamps that go down the stone steps to our house with these, but it would be waaaay too expensive. I'm doing some research now to see if I can build a similar circuit myself.