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Sep. 21st, 2009




Syndicated from:Doctroidal dissertations XML
Syndication Status:Last checked: 2009-09-19 11:07:42 (Not modified)
Next check: 2009-09-19 12:10:42
Number of Readers:5

Looks like my half dozens of fans are out of luck.

Dec. 6th, 2007


Blog move

I'm going to try blogging here and see how it goes.

I'll continue to read my friends and communities on LJ, though.

Dec. 4th, 2007



While I'm not as down on LJ as some people are, I have been feeling a little discontent with it lately, and the recent Facebook Beacon fiasco only adds to my wariness about big social networking sites. So I'm considering moving my blog to another site, and I'm wondering: anyone out there have anything to say about wordpress.com?

Bye, Facebook

Nope. Not gonna take it.

Added: Oh, and also: Nor this.

Nov. 28th, 2007


Happiness is AppleCare, at least if they're doing it right

I've had my MacBook for about a year and a half now. I'm not big on extended warranties most of the time, but for a laptop? AppleCare. No question.

Until last week I'd used it twice.

Once a DVD (from the library, and due soon!) got stuck in the DVD drive and wouldn't eject. AppleCare phone guy talked me through coaxing it out.

Another time (just a couple weeks ago, I mentioned it here) the power adapter seemed to stop working. AppleCare phone guy had me reset the power system and all was back to normal.

Last Tuesday my MacBook abruptly froze up, and wouldn't restart from the hard drive. I rebooted from the install CD and ran Disk Utility: all signs pointed to a hard drive crash.

Wednesday morning I called AppleCare. Phone guy had me check a few things and then confirmed my diagnosis. He said to take it to the local Apple Store, have a good holiday, bye.

What he didn't do, and should have:
  • Tell me I would need an appointment at the Apple Store

  • Offer to make the appointment for me

  • Give me a confirmation number
All of which I did not find out about until I arrived at the Apple Store, Kenny in tow, to be told they couldn't help me that day. No appointment slots left. I could come back Friday. Black Friday, at the Apple Store, in the middle of the biggest mall in town half of whose parking lot is gone due to construction. I implied that this was unlikely.

After the fourth or fifth time I told them the phone guy had not given me the above information which, they said, all phone support personnel are required and trained to do, the person I was talking to (who was very nice about it) got on line for a minute, checked in back, and then said they could take care of me. I signed the form, handed over the laptop, and left. They sent it off to, apparently, Tennessee.

FedEx attempted to deliver the laptop Monday, though (partly due to my own screwup) they didn't get my signature for delivery until today. Yep, dropped it off the day before Thanksgiving and it was back the Monday after. I'm letting it get up to room temp, and then I'll start restoring accounts, applications, and files.

Addendum: It says here:
The following services and/or replacement parts were used to service your product.
603-9857 ASSY, BEZEL, M42
605-0994 SVC TOP CASE M42 W
630-7690 PCB, MLB, 1.83GHZ DC, SMS/KION
815-9189 M42 Battery Transfer Board Cli
607-0199 ASSY,HEATSING,M42(1.0mmConnect
If I'm interpreting this right, it looks like they replaced not only the hard drive but the motherboard, about half the case, and a few other assorted parts. The case does look decidedly fresher.

Also, just yesterday I found out about this. I don't know if my drive was one of the affected ones.

Nov. 24th, 2007


What I bought yesterday


Nov. 21st, 2007


The clarinet report (edited)

Edited the next morning to clarify a few points.

I did it again. Bought a clarinet on eBay. I can't possibly pretend I need another one -- I have three soprano clarinets already, and I've only used one of them the past several months. This one I bought pretty much out of curiosity. It's a Mazzeo system clarinet; I've never seen one in the flesh. I figure buying one for $17 (plus equal postage) is a pretty good way to get a good look at one. After which, who knows, maybe I'll resell it. I might even be able to make a tiny profit.

We're coming up on our last band concert of the year, in two weeks. The next week there's a pot luck dinner, and then we're off until March, the anniversary of my joining. I've had a good time, and my playing's improved. Not that I'm not still a tyro, but I've made a little progress.

I'm enjoying being in the third clarinet section a lot more than I ever expected. I started playing clarinet in the fifth grade, and partway through sixth grade my teacher switched me to bass clarinet. I played alto clarinet in seventh and eighth grades, and then bass clarinet again in ninth through twelfth.

I really enjoyed that. Most of the band parts were rather dull, a lot of oom-pah oom-pah and not much else, but I just really liked the big, fat sound of the instrument, particularly in the bottom octave, and though it takes more air than the soprano it accepts a looser embouchure, so I found it more fun to play.

I was back on soprano clarinet for a year or two in college, but by then I was thinking of myself as a bass clarinetist in exile. The bass was always my favorite clarinet, and I got much less enjoyment out of the soprano.

When I got interested in playing again a couple years ago, I started looking for a bass clarinet on eBay. I found one eventually, but in the meantime picked up an alto and a couple sopranos when I could get them too cheap to pass up. When I contacted the director of the LaFayette Concert Band I told him I had soprano, alto, and bass clarinets, and hoped he'd ask me to play bass. Instead he wanted me on soprano, and I was a bit disappointed by that.

But if he offered to let me switch to bass today, I'd have a hard time deciding whether or not to take him up on it. (Not that that's likely -- we have a bass clarinetist, and don't need two in a band our size.)

I've re-learned something I'd forgotten, which is that even the third clarinet parts tend to be more interesting than the bass parts. And, not unrelatedly, it wasn't just time away from playing that accounted for my limited skills: they'd been stunted by my time on bass. Not that playing bass isn't an enriching experience, but it didn't help my embouchure any, nor my dexterity, nor my facility in the altissimo register. Bass clarinet is great fun to play, but playing soprano is good for me. And also fun. My teenage disdain for the soprano is gone.

I do hope to find an opportunity to play bass clarinet again at some point. And I'd love a chance to try out a contra clarinet, although at this point I can't afford to buy even a cheap used one. Right now, though, I'm happy on third clarinet. Second would be great too, someday, when and if I hone my skills well enough and an opening exists, but third is fine until then.

Meanwhile, back on eBay, I'm paying attention to the occasional Bundy eefers...

The thrill is gone

Well, I've seen Comet Holmes again, tonight. The sky was clear enough in the early evening to get a glimpse -- an hour later it had clouded over in the east. But the comet was a very different sight than it was ten days previously. It's gotten bigger, which makes it more diffuse, and the Moon is in the sky, washing everything out. So what was, through binoculars, a stunning clear blob a week and a half ago tonight was a barely visible smudge. Naked eye visibility was hopeless.

A day ago Holmes's coma was between us and Mirfak (Alpha Persei), and that might've been a sight worth seeing. Unfortunately it was cloudy here. Tonight the comet was just above Mirfak.

So I think the previous sighting will have to stand as the one good one -- unless, of course, Holmes repeats its 1892 trick of brightening twice.

Nov. 17th, 2007


Beast one

Finished, first of four dinosaurs:

From this pattern. It was decidedly a learning experience. I learned, for instance, how to knit in the round on double pointed needles, and why not to use metal DPNs when starting with six stitches cast on. I learned to look in my knitting bag for a missing DPN before looking down inside the sofa. I learned a decrease (ssk), an increase (kfb), and short row shaping. Having decided to make the thing a little less boring (single color acrylic worsted, now that's boring) by making its feet a different color, I learned another way to do jogless color changes (as opposed to colorless jog changes). I learned how to hide and secure yarn ends when working on a closed, stuffed object ... thanks to a response by the pattern's author to my question. I learned how to do I-cord. I still have not learned why it's called I-cord.

I was going to make the t-rex next, but Kenny wants a t-rex and his dinosaur is lower priority than his cousins', so I'll follow his request and make a stegosaurus for Mitchell, and then the t-rex. I'm not sure who's going to get the triceratops. I'm sure I can find someone.

A couple more photos here.

Nov. 10th, 2007


Namesake and nebulosity

We haven't had many clear nights lately, and on what few we've had I've forgotten to go out and look. It was mostly clear tonight, though, with a day old moon, and the next several nights are forecast to be cloudy. It was, in other words, possibly our last, best chance. Kenny and I went out in the driveway with a pair of binoculars and saw Comet Holmes.

I'm pretty certain we're no close relations to the 19th century English amateur astronomer, Edwin Holmes, who discovered that comet 115 years ago. Still, one can't help identifying, and it's nice, I think, that Kenny's first comet was one he shares a name with. It's my third or fourth, I believe. I was too young for Arend-Roland in 1957, and I don't think I saw Seki-Lines in 1962. I may have seen Ikeya-Seki in 1967, though I don't remember it clearly. I don't recall anything about Bennett in 1970 or West in 1976. (West should have been spectacular, and I as a high school junior interested in science really should have known about it and seen it, but I didn't; apparently it was very underpublicized after the 1973 Kohoutek fiasco, and maybe that accounts for it.) I did go looking once or twice for Halley in 1986 but with no success. So the first two comets I saw and remembered clearly were Hyakutake in 1996 and Hale-Bopp in 1997. McNaught earlier this year, of course, was too far south for me to have much of a chance at, and I didn't see it.

Holmes isn't as spectacular as those, but even in our less than ideal environment and with little time for dark adjustment Kenny and I could clearly see it as a faint spot off Perseus's shoulder. Through 7x50 binoculars it showed clearly as a big fuzzy round spot, in clear contrast to the pointlike stars around it.

I pointed out the Pleiades to Kenny, too, and then we went in. But in reading about Holmes's discovery of the comet while observing the Andromeda Galaxy, M31, I was reminded that I've never seen a galaxy beyond our own. Which is ridiculous: M31 is a full fledged spiral galaxy larger than our own, and practically next door; it's a naked eye object under the best conditions, and easily seen with binoculars, or so they tell us. I did go out looking for M31 a couple years ago but I guess I didn't have a good chart. Enough, I said tonight, and after Kenny went to bed I went back out with Stellarium running on my MacBook and pretty easily found it. A smudge, dimmer than Holmes in the binoculars and nothing I could see without them, but definitely there. So I have now (finally) seen light that's 2.5 million years old.

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