The Coolest Weather Map Ever

Just take a look: the coolest weather map ever


A Simple Home Improvement

Soon after we moved into our spacious new abode, the light of my life asked if I would install a peephole in the front door. Of course I could, I assured her; I’d even done it once before, long ago. Had I only heard the chorus laughing!

Here are the steps for installing a peephole:

  1. Go to the hardware store and buy a peephole.
  2. Drill a hole in your door.
  3. Insert the peephole halves from each side and screw them together.

Step one only took me about two weeks, if memory serves. That was a long time ago; facts may be blurred. I got the brass tube with a lens at one end out of its package and perused the instructions. This model required a 9/16″ hole. My tools are still in storage, but my sweetie has the basics, including not one, but two sets of drills*. Alas, the largest in the home measures 1/2″. Almost but not quite.

No worries, a short walk away lives Father of Sweetie, and there are few tools he does not possess. All we had to do was remember on one of the many occasions we were over there that we needed to borrow the thing.

That took two months, give or take.

Finally, finally, the stars aligned and we had in our possession a yellow plastic sleeve with the needed drill.

That’s about the time the pipe broke in the kitchen. That was, I can tell by traipsing through the archives of this august site, in late August. Two solid months ago, plus change. Repairs continue, but that’s another story. A couple of weeks ago I resolved to take part of the home repair back and to install the dang peephole.

Only… Where had the thing got to? With half the house piled into the other half of the house, there was just no telling. This weekend we decided to just buy another one. Off to the local downtown-killing mega-home-improvement store I went. Living in an area where the mall is about the closest thing to a downtown we’ll ever have, I don’t feel too bad about that.

Home I came, with fake logs for the fireplace (the hippie brand), a fire extinguisher, light bulbs, oven cleaner, and a new peephole. Nothing was going to stop me now! I installed our new doorbell first, then turned to the peephole. 9/16″ bore, just like the other. I’d made sure of that while still at the store. I got out the drill motor and the extension cord and repaired to the front of the house.

The drill was the wrong size. Way too small. I should have noticed that two months ago. But there I was, almost ready to install the damn peephole after all this time, and I still couldn’t drill the hole. Exactly where I was months ago.

This time, I strolled over to the home of Father of Sweetie, exchanged the 19/64″ drill for the 9/16″ one (he is a precise guy and was mortified at the mistake), and walked back. As swiftly as the next day, the peephole was installed and ready for peeping. Because I’m a Guy Who Gets Shit Done.

* Peeves, like curly red hair, are inherited. The light of my life inherited both an appreciation of precise language and a peeve about about the use of the noun “drill” from her father. The drill is the piece of metal with corkscrew cutting edges running up the sides. [edit upon reflection – actually, that’s a twist drill. There are other pieces of metal designed to make holes in things that are also drills. See also: mining.]

The thing that powers the drill is the drill motor. My sweetie reacts to misuse of “drill bit” much the way gun enthusiasts (including her father and me, though I don’t own a gun) take exception to people calling a magazine a clip.

I could argue that language is a plastic thing, and words mean what everyone agrees they mean, but then I’d have to give up on several of my own favorite peeves, and that’s not going to happen.

Details of What?

A couple of the software tools I use print out the following when started up:

This is free software with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
For details type `warranty’.

Details… about the thing that doesn’t exist.

On Exercise and Weight

I’ve read stuff, I’ve talked to Folks Who Know, and I’ve got personal experience. I’m about to drop a health bombshell on you, and I’m not going to cite sources. But I’m right.

Here’s the thing: Exercise doesn’t make you thin.

Sorry, Nautilus, Nordic Trac, Bowflex, and all the rest, exercise doesn’t make you thin. It does make you healthier, stronger, and by all accounts happier. Any one of those effects would be enough to make exercise worthwhile, and you get them all.

But exercise doesn’t make you thinner. Exercise makes you hungry. Exercise gives you the opportunity to get thinner, but whether you do or not is based on how you deal with the hunger. Just yesterday I had one of my best workouts in months and followed it with a second heaping helping of lasagna. I was starving. My heart is stronger, my muscles tighter, my outlook on life a little sunnier, but at the end of the day when the ledger is balanced, I’m no skinnier.

A Twitter Question

Can you say ‘fuck’ on Twitter? Because I’m pretty sure that most things I want to say that fit in 140 characters use that word.


Return of a Feature

You might have already noticed that when you look at individual episodes, there’s a list of similar posts at the bottom. I had this feature once before and now I have no recollection whatsoever why I turned it off. Maybe I’ll relearn something shortly.

So what the thing does is compare the text, titles, categories, tags, and whatnot of the episodes and comes up with the ones that match the best. The whole thing is tunable, for those inclined to do things right; I just chose some numbers that seemed reasonable. So far, I’d have to say that the code really likes episodes with exclamation points in the titles. I’m good with that.

I just spent about twenty minutes cruising through history, following one episode to the next (ostensibly) related one. It was pretty fun for me, but probably in a you-had-to-be-there way. To be honest, I think this feature is mostly for my entertainment. But you can use it too, if you want.

A Couple of Firsts

The rebuilding of the kitchen is mostly done. Most of the appliances are back in position, if not yet functional. The countertops, which we pitched in extra cash to upgrade, look fantastic. With much of the kitchen back in the kitchen, we had enough space in the living room to do a little Christmas shoot in front of the fireplace. Good times!

Someday, we’ll have the studio unburied. But the fireplace made a nice little set, complete with a mirror to cause trouble:

A quick self-portrait while shooting Harlean Carpenter (who is a fiction).

It’s not Christmas without bubbly, so we got a bottle of cheap stuff and as the talent arrived on set I poured a glass and set it on the bar. I realized it was the first beverage on the new bar! Hooray! After the shoot I turned the camera the other way and tried a few snaps. Here’s one of the better ones (of course, you can click the image to biggerize it):

Only fitting it should be bubbly, considering what we went through.

A couple of technical notes: This shot gave me a chance to play with the aperture and decide just how blurry I wanted the background to be. In some images you can make out the bottle in the background fairly clearly, in others it’s just a hint of something green. I was using the “Av” setting on my camera, which allows the photographer to choose the aperture then the camera figures out the rest. However, this time I finally had to go to full manual to get the exposure the way I wanted it. Not counting shooting with strobes, I’m pretty sure that’s a first for me.

There was another shot with a better exposure that showed off the countertops better as well, but it really showed the smudges on the glass from being handled for an hour or more. It’s the details, man. They get you.

The other first today was the aforementioned fire in the fireplace. It only occurred to me to commit the event to the collective digital memory after the “log” had burned down to where only a wisp or two of flame were clinging to the charred remains. My plan was to try a whole range of exposure times to compare the effects, but after my third frame the flame went out completely. Here’s the first shot I took, with a five-second exposure:

After years with no fireplace, it was nice to light up today.