The Dysmey Blog
The personal weblog of Andy West.

October 2009
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Autumn Potpourri 2009
Filed under: General, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 10:25 pm

The autumn is only a month old, and both my maple tree and the one only just over the fench in my neighbor’s yard have lost most of their golden yellow leaves in a big rain last Thursday and Friday. I have just finished raking them to the side of the street for the town street department to vacuum up.

The mountain range of leaves had attracted J.T., my neighbors’ cat. This is the cat that, early this past summer, was found as a sickly kitten abandonned along a country road by one of my high-school classmates. After the kitten was vetted and nursed by a mother cat for some months, J.T. is now a healthy teenaged cat with a penchant for rolling around in the middle of the street, compelling me to either pick him up or chase him off. He also likes the grass bush and tree in the front yard.

I think I am getting the hang of my new deep fryer. The trick is to add the stuff being fried into the basket over the sink, and not when the baskey hangs over the deep fryer. The ice and crumbs in the bag, when they fall into the boiling oil, cause an alarming convaporation. The fries came out decent this time around.

I got another month’s worth of test strips at the new CVS store that has opened at the intersection of Washington Street and State Road 9 on Marion’s south side. The store was designed with a diagonal main aisle that takes you straight to the pharamcy. That is an excellent advantage from the store’s point of view: The customer gets a view of each section of the store and its wares, which they would not have if they just walked through single aisles to the pharamcy like in regular stores. But this will not be good for the CVS in Gas City, the successor to the defunct Fairmount Pharmacy. The new South Marion CVS, while further away, is easier to reach: 26 to 9, then straight north to just past 37.

I have finished deploying the eight new iMacs at work. They have bigger screens and more disk storage. Otherwise they are just like the iMacs they replaced. Half of those will go into a windowed alcove on the third floor near my unit’s office. I cannot add more in there without running out of licenses for the software that lets Mac users print to our public printers or to access their online storage.

It has taken the four years or so of installing public Macs at work to learn what works and what does not. Every academic year there seems to be something wrong with the Macs that I work to fix.

I list all this because I have scheduled an examination to become an Apple Certified Support Professional for this coming Wednesday. It is high time I took this, given the years I spent working on the Macs. I just need to make myself familiar with Mac OS X features that a public Mac would not use, like keychains, Exposé, Spaces, Time Machine and Front Row.

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Be Off With You, IBM!
Filed under: Politics
Posted by: Andy @ 8:18 pm

The governor of Indiana expelled IBM from the State’s welfare privatization program last week. (Indiana axes welfare contract with IBM,, Indianapolis Star, 16 October 2009.) This took everyone by surprise. Nobody thought the governor would cancel the contract with IBM, no matter how crappy a job it was doing.

The Indiana welfare program was bad enough when the State was running it. Under IBM it had become bad in a different way, with scores of eligible people falling through the cracks, and others accusing the Governor of engineering those cracks to save money.

I, too, was surprise that the governor axed IBM, but not for the same reason others were. I had expected IBM, who was no doubt not making as much money from the deal as it would like, to bolt first. IBM has a habit of bidding contracts too low to make a profit then mismanaging them in an attempt to make a profit anyway, often to the detriment of IBM customers, here being the thousands of Hoosiers who need assistance in some way. Again, I had expected IBM to bolt first, as it has bolted from any contract that does not produce even a penny of profit for IBM.

It is possible that the governor had sensed before anyone else did, that IBM was not worth the pain it was causing both the citizens of the State and his own political future. It is possible that he caught wind of the arrest of one of IBM’s more important executives, who was in charge of dumping American jobs and outsourcing them to India and Argentina. Read Cringely’s No Joy in Mudville for more.

I do not know (and right now few people know) how this will all work out. My brother Bill got the raw end of the IBM stick when the peculiar way he pays alimony (because his ex-wife was so impatient to get it) would not conform to the IBM way of doing things. And I have a fellow member of the local library board (who invited her to serve a full four-year term) who works for one of the subcontractors out of a concrete box on a hill just east of Marion.  What effect this will have on the Bill’s payments, or on my fellow board member’s job, is for now an annoying mystery.

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Mid-October 2009
Filed under: General
Posted by: Andy @ 11:55 am

I took Friday afternoon off to be at home when the furnace guy from Kennedy’s in Marion came over to examine my furnace. I am told it is okay for the winter, but I should have it cleaned afterwards. I learned two things:

  1. When they installed the furnace the year before I bought the house, Kennedy’s had to get a small, skinny fellow and wet him down, so that he could get into the crawlspace. And even then, it was tough going.
  2. I can use a furnace filter other than that cheap piece of plastic that came with the furnace. I bought a 1″ × 16″ × 20″ allergin filter as a replacement. I know it is a throwaway, but I do not care: I care that it cleans the air better than that square plastic crap; and I care that my nose will not run, and my cat will not sneeze, as often.

The crisp weather is making the leaves turn faster, but they are still not turning all at once, and they are not as bright as they were in past years. I have started my fall raking this past weekend.

I have learned also this past weekend that I cannot run the microwave and the new deep fryer at the same time on the same electrical circuit. They together trip that circuit’s breaker switch.

It is evident that some films by Studio Ghibli are not as good as others, and that The Yamadas is more of a soap-sud serial (without the soap commericals) than the studio’s other films. After a half-hour of that, I went back to recording books into LibraryThing and playing Bioshock.

I spent Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning recording my books into my LibraryThing account. They are now all in: over seven hundred books, most bought in the past couple of decades. Next comes the job of thinking up a system of tagging and using it on all those books.

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A Cool Autumn 2009
Filed under: General, Politics, Work
Posted by: Andy @ 11:16 pm

It has been a cool, crisp sunny couple of days to go with the couple of days of rain before them.

After Sunday dinner, I transported to my house an armchair that my folks were getting rid of. It is a rather ugly orange color that clashes with the general bland color of my house’s interior. But I needed a chair for the bedroom, as I had nowhere else to sit in there apart from the bed.

My sister the editor helped me carry the chair and navigate it around the narrow thresholds of my house. In return, I helped her put up her storm windows, put new glazing putty on some of them. (For those of you in newer houses, a storm window is a removable outer window that serves the purpose of a double-glazed window in old houses. It is used during the colder months to protect the house windows from storm and snow.)

This month I decided to go with a series of minor projects instead of the big project during the summer.

I striped out the existing pegboard in the shed and put up new pegboard. I also installed a shelf near the ceiling to store cardboard on its way to the recycling place.

I also got some spring-loaded curtain rods to fit in the sills of the upper room windows, and some curtains to go with the rods. That way, I can get both outside light and privacy.

Along with the standard yard work on Saturday, I took a saw to the maple tree in front, removing the lowest branches that were drooping onto the ground and whose leaves were showing brown/black blotches. I am hoping pruning the tree to keep the branches off the ground, and from swacking my car as I drive to the mail box, will make the tree grow more.

I visited Kennedy’s, the HVAC folks who installed the furnace for the house’s previous owner a year before I bought the house. It has been three years now since the furnace had any maintenance, and it is high time the furnace got it. I will see if I can get the HVAC folks to look over the furnace this coming Friday afternoon, and if I can get time off to attend to it.

During the next couple of weeks, I will study for the Apple Certified Service Professional exam on the last Wednesday of this month. I have worked on Macs and Mac OS X for the past five years, and it is time I have something to prove this. I will take a half-day vacation time to take it, at the new Ivy Tech campus on State Road 18.

I am not the only one who finds the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barach Obama incredible; who thinks that he does not deserve it (even he thinks thus); and who believes the Prize will make every goal Obama plans to achieve all that much harder.

Obama has been president for only ten months. The fact that both Arabs and Israelis look upon Obama with incredulity means that a Middle East peace will be task far more difficult for him than any other post-WWII president. And he has two Middle Eastern wars of his own, inherited from Bush the Younger, which he has promised to wind down but which, for some reason, he refuses to end. And there are other conflicts, both active and smoldering, in the world (Darfur, the Somali tribes, Abkhazia/Georgia, Iran, Burma, North Korea) that demand his attention. As it is said, he has nothing yet. All that presenting the Nobel Peace Prize has done is to make it the Nobel Wishful Thinking of Some Norwegians Prize in the eyes of the many.

After commenting about this on Slashdot, only to get a -1 hit, I decided to create for my account a password of twenty randomly-generated characters that I cannot — and will not — remember. This is the best I can do to disable my Slashdot account, since it cannot be deleted. I have had enough of this moderation crap. I will keep on reading Slashdot; but active participation is an obvious waste of my time, and I will have no more to do with it.

Finally, from the depths of a media summit in the gathering hall of the world’s most media-repressive nation, the great enemy of the BBC and the Anglophone world, Rupert Murdoch, utters his mantra that the Aggregators, the parasites that suck content from his news Web sites, are out to steal his money. We will make them pay and pay and pay, he grumpled from the depths of the hall. Here’s a good idea from Slashdot: [S]imply stop Google from linking to their news stories by going to his Web site’s robot.txt file and adding Disallow.I have a better idea: Why don’t you just shut down all your Web sites and stick to printed and televised media, where your customers have no choice but to pay? And leave the Web alone, you damn apeling!

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