Monthly Archives: September 2006

1006 pages, and worth it

I finally finished last year’s Hugo winner, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.  The paperback edition is 1006 pages long (I guess the hardback was only about 800 pages), so I wasn’t able to read it in a single sitting…or even a single month.  But I’m glad I didn’t let the length discourage me.

And even though the book is rather long, loaded with footnotes, and only intermittently filled with action, it was well worth the time.  I raced through the last 200 pages or so, wondering how the author was going to tie together the threads of the story — I wasn’t disappointed, even though not everything was neatly wound up (much like life itself).

Recommended.

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Remembering simpler times

I was sorting through some old papers tonight, including old tax returns.  I decided I didn’t need to save the instruction booklets, but I’m glad I didn’t just recycle them.  Until the 1994 tax year, the Feds printed our Social Security Numbers right on the mailing label; starting with that year, they moved the peel-off label (complete with SSNs) inside the booklet, at least through 1996, which is the last booklet I found.  The State of California printed the numbers on the mailing label at least through 1997.

I bet they don’t do that today.

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Wakeup call

I woke up in the middle of the night with the phrase “federal pinhead” going through my mind.  I wish I knew what my subconscious was trying to tell me…it couldn’t have anything to do with the current Administration, could it?

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The question is, “Do I feel lucky?”

I reached Magnolia today, and they think the problem with the TV (for those tuning in late, it’s a Panasonic PT-52DL52 DLP) is likely to be the lamp.  I’m somewhat dubious, because I only replaced it 15 months ago, and we don’t use the TV all that much (maybe 3 hours a day on average) — but Panasonic does have a history of lamp problems (in fact, the same year’s Panasonic LCD TVs are now the subject of a class action settlement based on lamp issues).

The new bulb would be a bit over $400.  They did say that if it doesn’t fix the problem, they’d take it back and apply the cost towards a service call — the next likeliest problem is the ballast, which would be about $450.

So I went shopping this evening; Costco had a bunch of 720p sets for about $1800 (with stand).  I didn’t see any 1080p sets there (but they had a great buy on toilet paper, so the trip was well worth it).  Circuit City had a Sony KDS50A2000 (1920x1080p) for $2250 (no stand) — the picture looked great in the minute I spent, and the A2000 line is getting good reviews on AVSForum.  They also had a few other 1080p sets, but mostly DLP, and I’m not sure I want to go that route again.

Tomorrow, I hope to visit Magnolia and see what they’ve got; I’m partial towards them because I can actually talk to the technical people, unlike, for example, the authorized service center in this area.

If I knew I could fix my existing set for the price of the bulb, I’d go for it — no, it’s not 1080p, but then again, I don’t have any 1080p sources.  But if I might be looking at $850 or so to fix the set, it’s a different story.

So I guess I have to decide whether I’m feeling lucky or not.  *sigh*

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Of space and time

Today was a good day at work; one of my colleagues celebrated her 25th service anniversary with serious chocolate for all.  And I got another gigabyte of memory for my ThinkPad.  The memory, of course, was a small DIMM, packed in an appropriately-sized cardboard box, which, in turn was shipped in a 9x13x5 box.  Fortunately, instead of using foam or peanuts to pad the box, the company used Sealed Air’s inflatable padding, so there’s far less junk for me to deal with — but it still seemed all out of proportion.

And tonight at home, we had another organization session with Lisa.  At the end of nearly three hours, we’d filled three bags with stuff to be shredded (not to mention the few documents I shredded on the spot), as well as several bags of recycling.  And now there’s space in two of the drawers in our office — next time, we’ll try the other side.

I also went through the last of our diskettes, degaussing the few that had possibly interesting information, and putting the others (along with the degausser) in a bag to go to work for recycling or reuse there.  One of the guys in our stockroom takes things to RAFT on an occasional basis, which is one of the few places which can probably put diskettes to productive use these days.

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And it begins…

Jeff got his first piece of unsolicited paper mail from a college (Oberlin) today. I suspect it won’t be the last.

Two years until Freshman year begins….

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If I knew what I was doing, it would go faster

I spent all day Friday trying to get MoinMoin, Apache, and an IBM-internal authentication/authorization module to play nice together.  I would have been better advised to leave early in the afternoon like everyone else.

Today, I was back at it again; and by lunchtime, I thought I had it nailed.  Until, that is, I showed a colleague, who noted that I wasn’t really using SSL for the userid/password.  And then I also noticed that only the front page of the wiki was visible at the root of the server — all of the other pages were down a level in names.

Fixing those problems took me the rest of the afternoon.  But now I’ve got it working, for sure.  Except for a couple of corner cases, and maybe they don’t matter that much anyway….who needs informative 403 responses, anyway?

I’m ready for another three-day weekend.  Unfortunately, the next one is Yom Kippur!

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Old books from LACon

One of the nice surprises at LACon was to be found in the Con Suite. LASFS stocked the suite with books from their library — books that they were discarding, and that attendees were urged to take home.

Not all of the books were gems, but I kept finding ones I needed. I even read one during the con, The Syndic, by C. M. Kornbluth. I’d read it once before, back in elementary school or junior high — I’m sure I got more out of it this time. I also picked up a copy of Bester’s The Demolished Man, as well as Volume IIB of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. But it turns out I already had both Volumes IIA and IIB in SF Book Club editions, so I guess I’ll pass that one on to someone else.

And I’m still sorting through the books I picked up in the huckster room; I’ve already finished one, Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos.
Now I’ve returned to the book I was reading before (and during) the con, last year’s Hugo winner, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke.  I’m not quite sure why it’s fascinating, but it is — I can’t wait to find out what happens to English magic.

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I know more than I think

We’re just back from friends who hosted a Labor Day weekend barbecue and games party.  One of the games we played was the TV edition of “Scene It”.  I thought I’d do terribly, because I watch almost no TV (about the only show I watch routinely is Monk).  But I guess I’ve absorbed more than I realize, because I was able to identify shows like Survivor, The Simple Life, and Major Dad, none of which I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know whether to be proud of this or ashamed, but there it is.

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We may be back in the TV market

Our not-so-trusty Panasonic PT-52DL52 is flickering more and more every day (we are not alone in this), and it’s getting to the point that I’m giving serious thought to replacing the set (though I’ll call Magnolia Hi-Fi first — that’s where I bought it, and they fixed it the last time we had problems, at a reasonable price).

I don’t want to buy another DLP set (I can see the rainbows at times), and I don’t want to buy a Sony. We still watch enough 4:3 material that burn-in might be a problem on a plasma.

Any suggestions? Any recent experience to share?

[updated:  I don’t want to go any smaller than the 52″ set we have now, and probably nothing over 56″ would fit.]

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