Monthly Archives: January 2004

Time to trim a bit

I’m afraid I need to do a little trimming on my Friends list. I assure you that if you get dropped I’m not crossing you off my Kwanzaa card list or moving you over to my Enemies List (though such an implementation on LJ would be amusing…). If you have any questions, I would refer you to my Friends List policy on my userinfo page.

Now here’s something that we all need: Uncle Patrick’s Advice to Children!

Don’t use one of those little Handi-Vac things to empty an ashtray. Because the inrush of air could potentially reignite any fading embers. And, uh, a big jet of flame might shoot out of the thing, surprising you and making you scream like a ten-year-old girl. And you might knock over your beer.

If you’re ever fishing, and a poisonous water moccasin swims up to try and eat one of the fish on your stringer, and you think that maybe flipping the snake out of the water and onto, say, me is a good idea, please reconsider.

Just because you can stick toothpicks in your forehead and they’ll stay there and it doesn’t really hurt all that bad doesn’t mean you should go ahead and do it, at Denny’s or any other restaurant.

Yeah, we were dumb

But on the bright side, we got the laptop taken care of.

After a day and a half of snow, sleet, and freezing rain, we finally succombed to cabin fever and decided to see just how bad the roads are around here. The answer: pretty damn bad. The primary routes have been plowed, so they were just slushy. The secondary roads and those out of our subdivision haven’t been plowed at all, so they’re a mix of snow and ice. We didn’t really slide around, but I drove incredibly conservatively and left plenty of room between me and the car I was following.

Why were we out? Today was the last day for me to return the Compaq Presario laptop to Beast Buy. I had been assured over the phone that I could probably bring it back tomorrow, given the weather conditions, but I didn’t want to gamble the $1,000 or so if it was at all avoidable. So we drove out to Crossroads Shopping Center in Cary and, although precious little else was open, Beast Buy was indeed open and well-staffed (man, you know those employees were pissed about having to go in). I returned the laptop with no problems and paid their 15% restocking fee – hey, it was cheaper than having the buy the darned thing! We kicked around maybe getting some lunch while we were out, but given the increasing freezing rain, we decided it would be wiser if we just headed home.

So that was our excitement for the day – the last two days, really. Otherwise, we’ve been noodling around on the net and clearing off the TiVo. Sadly, we’re down to two things to watch (both from the Sundance Channel – Into the West and a collection of short films), then we’ll have – gasp! – cleared the TiVo. Scary. Looks like tomorrow is going to be pretty crappy too – there’s supposed to be more freezing rain coming and they’ve already cancelled school around here (congratulations, WildmouseJanelle!). Now we just get to deal with the boredom…

I {heart} Sirius!

So, we’ve just returned from a nice 1,600-mile round-trip to Chicago. How did we stay sane? Why with our Sirius Satellite Radio, of course! I know this sounds like a crass commercial, but this is really the greatest thing to hit long-distance driving trips since the advent of the audio book. Here’s the streams (Sirius’ version of stations) kept us occupied during the 28-or-so hours of driving:

Sirius OutQ – 24-hour gay talk radio. This just kicks butt! Their morning show is a stitch, and John McMullen is engaging. Michaelangelo Signorile provides a little name recognition, but his is the only show that doesn’t really interest me. A bit too much preaching to the converted, I think. But the real gem of this stream is Derek and Romaine – they’re bitchy, profane, and an absolute hoot to listen to! You can listen to OutQ for free from their website, though only through Windows Media Player.

Spectrum and The Pulse – Adult album alternative and “modern mix” stuff. Not too different from what you might hear on your local radio, but at least it’s commercial-free.

Octane – Fuel, Puddle of Mudd, Trapt, Saliva…you get the gist. Pop-metal, with a occasional offbeat track by Tool or Ra.

Sirius Disorder – Formerly “Organic Rock,” some nice indie and cross-genre performers. The strangest thing I’ve heard was an Italian rap-remix of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. Not one of Dan’s favorites, but I enjoy it as a good place to find good stuff I hadn’t heard before.

Faction – Hard rock, hip-hop, punk. Everything from System of a Down to Wu-Tang Clan. I knew I’d like this stream when we turned it on and heard “50 Inch Nails” by 50 Cent vs. Nine Inch Nails, a remix of “In the Club” run together with “Head Like a Hole”. Damn, that rocked!

Chill – This is another new stream that I’m really enjoying. Moby, Massive Attack, Dido, Radiohead, and Groove Armada – a really great mix when you’re in the mood for it.

Add to that occasional stops by NPR Talk, NPR Now, PRI Public Radio World, and Raw Dog (uncensored comedy channel), plus guilty pleasures like E! Entertainment Radio (True Hollywood Story: Cheers got me through boring parts of eastern Kentucky) and Hair Nation (Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi, aiee!) and you have a couple of extremely satisfied customers. The Audiovox unit with car installation kit was $150, plus $130 for a year’s subscription. Pricey, yes, but it was worth every damn penny as far as I’m concerned.

Holy crap!

Remember I was talking about how my Vaio laptop crapped out on me and I had to send it in for repairs? I just got it back today. Here’s the somewhat cryptic parts list of what they replaced:
COMPLETE PWB MBX-67
I/O DOOR
ASSY DISPLAY HOUSIN
THERMAL SHEET, CPU
ASSY LCD BEZEL 15
COMPLETE PWB PWS-18
KEY BOARD UNIT

WE REPLACED YOUR MOTHERBOARD, POWERBOARD, AND KEYBOARD.

Total invoice charge: N/C

This is a unit that was two months out of warranty. The pretty much overhauled the whole damn thing and sent it back…for free.

Wow.

The only thing I can figure is that the problem I was experiencing was a known problem. Either that or some technician took pity on me – not sure what it was, but damn.

All that’s left now is to return the Presario laptop to Beast Buy tomorrow or Sunday and the whole mess will have cost us a total of $225. Well, damn. A heck of a lot better than expected!

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

I started writing this expressly for datahawk, but I figured I may as well post it here.

A caveat: This is what makes the perfect cup of coffee for me. You may like a cup of instant coffee with eight packets of sugar and a hint of non-dairy creamer. While I may weep for you, you are welcome to that and free to skip to the next entry on your friends page.

Duncan’s Guide to the Perfect Cup of Coffee

I hate memes

(Thanks Mirko for the friends-page-friendly formatting)
Bold the states you’ve visited.

1) Alabama, 2) Alaska, 3) Arizona, 4) Arkansas, 5) California, 6) Colorado, 7) Connecticut, 8) Delaware, 9) Florida, 10) Georgia, 11) Hawaii, 12) Idaho, 13) Illinois, 14) Indiana, 15) Iowa, 16) Kansas, 17) Kentucky, 18) Louisiana, 19) Maine, 20) Maryland, 21) Massachusetts, 22) Michigan, 23) Minnesota, 24) Mississippi, 25) Missouri, 26) Montana, 27) Nebraska, 28) Nevada, 29) New Hampshire, 30) New Jersey, 31) New Mexico, 32) New York, 33) North Carolina, 34) North Dakota, 35) Ohio, 36) Oklahoma, 37) Oregon, 38) Pennsylvania, 39) Rhode Island, 40) South Carolina, 41) South Dakota, 42) Tennessee, 43) Texas, 44) Utah, 45) Vermont, 46) Virginia, 47) Washington, 48) West Virginia, 49) Wisconsin, 50) Wyoming, 50.5) Washington DC.

International: Canada (Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia), Mexico, Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland

I’ve visited every state east of the Mississippi except Michigan. Strange, since it’s not too far away from Chicago, but I’ve just never had occasion to go there. Maybe we’ll swing through on the way home just to say I’ve been there.

Back on the net!

Well, after about three hours on the phone with Sony yesterday, we determined that the video problem I was experiencing with my Vaio was definitely hardware-related. Fortunately I was able to boot up and access my files over the network so I was able to back everything up before scragging the drive in an effort to do a system recovery.

So, the next step is to send it to Sony. They’ll charge me a minimum of $27 just to look at it. Then it’s $250 for a minor repair (keyboard, small parts) or $800 for a major repair (motherboard, LCD screen). Fortunately, they give you the option of notifying you before they do a major repair so if that’s what it takes, I’m going to tell them to just send it back and we’ll do something with the parts.

In the meantime, we went to Beast Buy last night and bought a Compaq Presario (gotta work that 12-month-same-as-cash, baby!). Being extremely gun-shy after my last laptop biting the big one after 14 months, I also bought the extended warranty for an extra $250. The good news is that if Sony comes through I can return the laptop within 14 days, though I’ll have to pony up a 15% restocking fee.

So let’s do some math, shall we?
Option 1: Sony can’t fix laptop cheaply
Shipping laptop to Sony $46
Diagnostic fee $27
Return shipping $25
Presario $1150
Extended Warranty $250
Sales tax $80
Rebates -$250

TOTAL: $1,328

Option 2: Sony can fix laptop cheaply
Shipping laptop to Sony $46
Diagnostic fee $250
Presario restocking $175

TOTAL: $471

Well, if they can do it cheaply, we won’t come out too badly. Not exactly an expense I was looking for while unemployed, of course…

Well, poop

The display on my laptop is now officially hosed. I talked with hartree and we looked at the symptoms and took the laptop apart and it would appear that the video card is glitched. Since on Vaios (it’s a Sony Vaio PCG-NVR23) the video card is integrated into the motherboard, this makes for massive ugliness. So. We can try to work through Sony to repair it (price to be determined but surely not small since it’s out of warranty). We can try to find a Vaio on eBay with a broken display and remove the motherboard. Or we can buy a new laptop. I hate the notion of the later option – the damn thing is only fourteen months old. Grrr.

Anyway, obviously my online presence is going to be limited for the next few days.

Feeling all efficient

Having a great weekend so far. We’re enjoying the company of hartree and linnaeus, as I mentioned before. Last night was as late as I expected – I headed off to bed around 2:30 AM, and Hartree and takaza were up until 5 AM. The morning was understandably late in starting, though it was improved with a nice round of pancakes for everyone. Once we got motivated, we drove up to A Southern Season and had a lot of fun shopping. We then walked around the mall and stopped by Cameron’s (my favorite store for kitsch and off-the-wall weirdness). Dinner at Copeland’s was quite tasty, with the obligatory dessert trip to Silvia d’Italia for gelato. Yummy!

We got back and I went ahead and took care of something that I remembered that I needed to do: reserve a room for Anthrocon. Bang, done. We now have a junior suite reserved at the Adams Mark Philadelphia from Thursday until Monday of Anthrocon. Yay!

Now, the next bit of good news: next week, we’re on the road again back to Chicago! Since Takaza is out from work until February 1, we’re going to spend a week up in Chicago to deal with Midwest FurFest stuff. I might even try to put together a Western Suburbs Dinner while we’re up there – we’ll see. We’re looking forward to the trip, though there’s still a few logistical things to be taken care of.

Not too much on tap for tomorrow, though we’re going to try to stop by the wonderful French bakery in North Raleigh. We’ll see what the day brings…

The long-lost update

Hmm, been reading a lot but not posting. I should work on that.

Hung out with friends last weekend, and that was cool. Did a little hiking and enjoyed the 70-degree weather while it lasted.

jlfranklin, our roommate/landlord, has gotten a job up in the DC area so he’s moving at the end of this week. Fortunately, he’s OK with us staying here until someone rents the house at market value. If we have to move, that’s fine – we can handle that. That puts the house in a bit of an uproar, though, as he packs and moves his stuff out and we move our stuff up from the basement to replace it.

While they were over for John’s going-away party last night, I helped vileone, thebroomecloset, and me_not_you (with consummate bottle-wiping help from wildmouse) bottle the porter and oatmeal stout that we brewed up about three weeks ago. Both beers tasted excellent going into the bottle and I’m certain they’ll be even better after a few weeks of conditioning. It was a nice reminder that while brewing is fun, brewing as a social event is a blast!

Thanks to the many folks who have been asking about Takaza‘s condition. I’m happy to report that he is healing well and although still feels an occasional reminder from his body that, yes, it’s only been a few weeks since he had surgery, he’s recovering nicely. Although it wore him out, we made a two-mile walk last weekend without any problems – I’ll take that as a good sign. We’re going to see the doctor today to have his (29!) staples taken out. Although it might be slightly uncomfortable while they’re being removed, it will make him feel much better and allow everything to heal up faster, I’m sure.

Later tonight, we’re expecting a bit of company. Linnaeus and Hartree are joining us for a few days. I’m really looking forward to that. Nothing much planned, just a nice, low-key weekend, though there will probably be much convention discussion going on. (I hope no one feels slighted that they were not invited down this weekend as well – as I said, low-key is the order of the day, and with the house in its current state we’re pushing it with two guests – any more would be…difficult.)

So, that’s the current state of the husky. Looking at my to-do list today, we need to move the other guest bed up from the basement, find the sheets and blankets for the guest beds in the boxes down there, and probably bring up a few more kitchen items as well. Well, off to get motivated…