Monthly Archives: July 2005

It’s magic!

I made the mistake of deciding to read a few more pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince before going to bed. When I next looked up, I had finished the book, and it was 11:30pm. Definitely recommended (not that you needed me to tell you that!). I think that this is the strongest book of the last three, although it doesn’t have the same pure charm of the very first book. And I am eagerly awaiting Book 7 and the final battle.

Speaking of Harry Potter, I got an e-mail from Amazon on Tuesday morning telling me “We’re happy to let you know that we’ve begun preparing your order for
‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ for delivery.” I looked at the headers, and the mail was stuck somewhere in Amazon’s systems for five days — I’m glad it was the e-mail which got stuck and not the physical book!

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Remembering the SX-25

I decided I should catch up on a bunch of my accumulated reading before disappearing into Harry Potter 6. So I read the last seven week’s worth of Ten Minutes of Torah columns, as well as the backlog of Torat Chayim and Kolel Parasha Study e-mails.

Then I turned to the paper mail, specifically the August issue of QST. I skimmed most of the technical content, but the “Old Radio” column by John Dilks, K2TQN, caught my eye. This month, he was writing about ham gear sold by Sears, Roebuck, back in the ’30s and ’40s (hmmm, I guess I should say 1930s and 1940s to avoid any Y2K confusion). Sears sold its own brand of gear (Silvertone, not Kenmore!), but they also sold name brands, including Hallicrafters. And John included a (very much reduced) scan of a two-page spread of Hallicrafters gear from the 1940 catalog.

One item on that spread looked familiar, and when I took a close look, I was pretty sure it was a Hallicrafters SX-25 “Super Defiant” receiver. My mother had bought me one when I was in elementary school, and I used it for several years, until one sad day when it took a lightning strike to the antenna and all of the smoke came out of the radio. Amazingly, the homeowner’s insurance company was willing to pay for the radio (this was in the days when deductables were low and you weren’t afraid to make a claim), but, since it couldn’t be repaired, I chose to buy a cassette recorder instead, and drifted away from shortwave listening and ham radio for a number of years (though I finally did get my license in 1989, just in time to be ready for the Loma Prieta earthquake).

I wrote John asking if he could send me a clearer image of the part of the page dealing with the SX-25, and he was kind enough to forward it almost immediately.

SX-25 ad

John also mentioned that SX-25’s are fairly common (a quick search on eBay doesn’t show one available right now, but one sold earlier this month). Hmmm….

But not until after I finish Harry Potter 6. I’m about one-third of the way through, and so far, so good.

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It’s on the truck

I got a friendly e-mail from Amazon this morning, letting me know my copy of Harry Potter 6 is on the truck. With any luck, it’ll be here when we come home from services (I actually hope it doesn’t arrive until after we leave, because it would be awfully tacky to be reading the book during the Bat Mitzvah service).

Expect a gap in postings.

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Dealing with the aftermath of salmon

We have salmon for dinner fairly often, and sometimes the aroma lives on after dinner is finished. I just found this pointer on 43 Folders, and it seems like it’s worth a try next time we run into the problem.

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The passing of Dumbledore?

Courtesy of Making Light, a pointer to the Grauniad‘s contest for the Dumbledore death scene in the style of another author.

They interpret “author” fairly liberally — check out the George Lucas parody.

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The smell of summer

One of the joys of living in Los Gatos comes from the wide daily temperature swing in the summer. Even on hot days, most nights are cool, and so we tend to sleep with open windows and an exhaust fan rather than relying on air conditioning.

This morning, I awoke to tolerably cool temperatures and a strong aroma of garlic, a sure sign of the arrival of summer.

I didn’t have anything garlic-friendly for breakfast (sprinkling garlic on my Joe’s O’s didn’t appeal), but dinner may well be another story.

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I love Google

I know — who doesn’t?

We just watched the season premiere of Monk, and afterwards, Diane asked, “wasn’t there another episode where someone was cheating?” I couldn’t remember, but since I was standing next to the laptop, I typed “monk cheating” into the search bar, hit Enter, and about 0.13 seconds later (plus whatever time it took me to read the second result), I had the answer: Mr. Monk and the Game Show. Of course, Google’s search history doesn’t know that this was a successful search, because I didn’t need to click through — everything I needed was on the result page.

So my privacy is safe. Or it would be, if I hadn’t written this blog entry.

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Dumpster Diving for Fun and Education

They’re cleaning out an office down the hall from me, and I’ve been passing the big waste bin all week. I don’t know whose office it was, but the person obviously hadn’t weeded his or her collection for a long time.

I restrained myself from taking the Token-Ring card (in its original box), even though it was one of the fancy 4/16 Mb models. I even passed up the copy of Lotus Notes 4 for Dummies. But when I saw two classic James Martin books, I couldn’t resist.

So now I’m the proud “owner” of Security, Accuracy, and Privacy in Computer Systems and Design of Man-Computer Dialogues, both from 1973, part of the comprehensive James Martin collection.

It should be interesting comparing what Martin was saying in 1973 with today’s practice.

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Thoughts about London

Tim Bray writes about today’s atrocity:

This may sound nuts, but doing our best to just ignore them would be good. They’re not gonna cause any policy changes this way, but at least they get to control what’s on CNN & the BBC for a while; maybe if they couldn’t even do that, the strap-on bomb would be less attractive.

Dean Ing wrote a story, “Very Proper Charlies”, 25 years ago, suggesting ridiculing terrorists rather than just ignoring them. I thought it was a good idea then, and still do.

I have great sympathy for the victims of today’s attack (we’ll be in London later this month, so perhaps it’s easier to put myself in their place than it might otherwise be); I have nothing but contempt and ridicule for the assholes who think that killing innocents is an effective way of making a political point.

Tim, Korentang, and others also point out that Londoners have been targets before (by Hitler and the IRA, to name but two), so this is unfortunately not new to them.

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We’re a two-Prius family again

I picked up Diane’s Prius this afternoon; with luck, I won’t be back to the dealer until it’s time for regular service again. I hope.

They had to replace the torque sensors and the steering rack; the service advisor said it was the first time they’d seen such a problem at the dealership. Gosh, how lucky can we get?

On a lighter note, Jeff had his first fencing lesson tonight — he enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching it, and might consider giving it a try sometime in the future.

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