Monday, September 24, 2007

Ellie Mae says I cannot talk for more than 5 minutes without turning the subject to tractors. This is, in my mind, an improvement, as she used to complain that I couldnt talk more than 5 minutes without saying something completely and utterly inappropriate. At least now, instead of offending people, I am boring them. She might argue that I was boring them before -- in the 4:59 before the inappropriate comment.

Speaking of tractors: I guess this was my mid-life crisis Corvette. It is a lot cheaper -- though a bit slower. But it is a little more immune to turning to tiny bits of fiberglass on the slightest touch by a station wagon.

I had a near tractor emergency over the weekend. I looked down to see gas 1 pouring out of the fuel filter. That cannot be good. It was a good 15 minutes after the parts store closed on Saturday, meaning no tractorification until Monday. How would I survive? After short bursts of panic and swearing, I started to take it apart. I clamped off all the fuel lines to keep air out of them and pulled off the entire fuel filter assembly. Once off, it appared as if the bowl was just cross threaded on the mounting bracket. I dont know if this happened at the factory or if I whacked it with a big stick cleaning up the "big ugly" out back. Anyway, a re-tightening and a bleed of the fuel system and I was back on the road.... errr I mean back off the road.

Footnote for very picky pilots:

1 By "gas" I mean "fuel". I dont mean gasoline. Gasoline in a diesel engine would probably cause it to asplode. I also do not mean the gaseous state of matter -- it was definitely a liquid. I also do not mean "it was really funny" because -- it wasnt. I do not mean to imply that it was trying to poison me either, nor that it was flatulent. It was definitely diesel fuel and that is all I mean to imply.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What stinks?

I sleep like a rock. I always sleep through thunderstorms and have been known to sleep through a pretty good size rockslide. However, nature has trained me to wake at the tiniest little tinkle of a dog tag or click of toenails on the floor. You see: from previous experience, we close the dog door at night. If a dog is wondering around, that is a sure sign that they gotta go. And since we have had pretty good success with keeping the potty outside,

I have really become accustomed to waking at the smallest dog noise.

So last night when I heard tinkle click click I got up. Both dogs were up (which is odd. Usually only Arlo has the tiny bladder.) I took them out and a tiny little voice in my head said "what's that smell?". They tinkled and came back in. Again: "what's that smell?" Had I been a little more focused... or had my glasses on... or turned on the light... I probably would have noticed the acrid smoke that was beginning to fill the room. But the smell of melting plastic and hot hot hot electronics was really starting to wake me up.

Ellie Mae and I started poking around and noticed the "server" was no longer powered on. Ellie says "The TiVo is off too." At this point I began to panic: No TV!

I looked behind the TV and the UPS had every single LED lit on it in a way that just does not occur. I mean: how can you have over voltage and undervoltage and normal voltage and low battery? I felt of it: smokin hot. I unplugged it. Now the funny thing about UPS's is that unplugging them really doesnt help. They sort of have their own source of power. So I tried to turn it off. The power switch is right there by all of the lights that physically cannot all be on at the same time. I like to call that part "the melted brain". It wont power off.

So here I am at 2:15 in the morning out on the driveway in my underwear, disassembling a burning UPS to try to power it down. Nice image, huh? Anyway, here are the early morning photos. I am sure that if I had not awoken Lassie would have started howling that Timmy was in the well. I am sure of it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

One has a lot of time to think while job hunting via the internet over a dialup. This is mostly due to the time it takes to send (and lose) packets. It also can be due to the crappy old version of firefox included in FC6 Linux crashing about once an hour. (But to upgrade, you would have to download 6 CDs worth of FC7. Why are all the odd numbered Fedora releases "good" and the even numbers "sucky"?).

Some random observations:

  • I am looking for a "big city job" in a small town. There just isnt much call for Unix or Perl or firewalling. I should learn to drive a truck (Wally Thorpe school of trucking). There just doesnt seem to be much call for "Linux and Perl hacker: must provide own tractor."
  • There are some terrible web sites out there. One I used to track locally, which is a company that solely designs websites, has a flash website that is so mindbogglingly irritating and so bandwidth and cpu intensive, that I cannot imagine someone would go to that site and say "these people should redesign my web site."
  • Some local educational institutions have positions that will never be filled. I dont know what Sunguard Banner is exactly. (I looked it up once, but that was a long time ago.) But I do know it must be something that was outdated when the 386 was popular, because this particular institution has had an opening for an expert for well over 2 years. (Possibly longer, but that is how long I have been tracking them.)
  • A local manufacturer makes you go through a whole page of "select country; select city; select department; select bosses name; select hair color of secretary" then gives you a list of every job open in the entire United States. At least I filtered out all the European jobs.
  • Some idiot in New York has the wrong zip code for his home town... and every time I search for jobs in this area on, the one and only job I get is in New York City. (Get a rope.)
  • The only job I have seen so far that mentions firewalls sounds like it is "Sox Audit Scapegoat." No thanks.
  • I have seen a quite a few "web specialist" jobs that sound like they want a high school kid able to log into windows 98. Average salary: in the 20s.
  • To be honest, the best thing I have seen is "dog catcher." Ellie Mae has advised me against this one.

Monday, September 10, 2007

First Waffles in 50 years

Some people do odd things. I always need some sort of project, even if it is a stupid one. I take projects and sit on them... sometimes for years. The latest was a 1950-something waffle iron that Ellie Mae bought off of Ebay. The problem here is

Lots of modern appliances are crap. They are coated with teflon for non-stick. The 2 problems with teflon are (1) it works just fine under normal conditions, but it turns toxic at high heat and (2) it scratches and doesnt last for more than a couple of years before you have to throw it out. Well I dont know about you, but we actually use our appliances and/or pots and pans to cook with. And cooking normally involves heat. Since heat turns teflon toxic, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. EVERYBODY PANIC. RUN FOR THE HILLS.

The conspiracy here is that someone (probably the same Russians that are trying to kill us with a weather machine) is trying to kill us with teflon.... or they are just trying to sell us cheap crap that has to be replaced every 2 years. I am not sure which.

So anyway, what is all the hubub about non-stick? Grandma didnt have it and stuff didnt stick in her pan. Oh yeah, she had cast iron or cast aluminum -- which had a nice seasoning on it.

So we set out to find a no-no-stick pan (or a "stick pan"). They are really hard to find (outside of cast iron skillets). So Ellie bought this POS waffle iron from 1950 off of Ebay. It sat in a box for a year and a half, and last week I finally got it in my head to make it work. I got a bunch of high-heat wire and re-wired it (trying to breathe as much asbestos as I could for later lawsuits).

I snapped a nice picture of Ellie Mae making waffles for the first time in 50 years, but she didnt like it. So I will have to show this picture that is NOT of Ellie Mae cooking waffles.