Printer. My old foe. We meet again.

“Printer not found on network” is the new PC LOAD LETTER ERROR.

I needed to print something

I needed to print something. I fought the printer for 10 minutes, doffed my hat to the victorious output device, then quit the field of battle.

Conversation About a Thermostat

::interior, conference room::
ME: Before we start, do you think it’s a little hot in here?
CLIENT: I was thinking the same thing.
::checks thermostat::
CLIENT: Whoa. Someone set the thermostat on 80.
ME: It was probably my wife.
CLIENT: Your wife?
ME: I turn the thermostat down, then she comes behind me and cranks it up. She probably drove from Knoxville to Nashville, snuck in the building, and set the thermostat to 80.

Conversation about the s-word

ME: What did you learn in school?
KATIE: We talked about the s-word.
ME: Which s-word?
KATIE: What mommies and daddies have before they have babies.
ME: Oh. You mean se—ctional sofas, so the family can sit together in the living room.
KATIE: Different s-word.
ME: You’re talking about sze—chuan chicken. Mommies eat it to get pregnant.
KATIE: That’s not what the teacher said.

Science!

A new study claims that Louis Pasteur didn’t perform his most famous experiments. The paper’s authors believe Pasteur’s dad did the experiment while his mom went to buy posterboard and that “the parents were probably up until frikkin’ 3 AM doing their kid’s science project for him.”

On a completely unrelated subject, photos I made for Katie’s fourth grade science project.

Celery experiment for school science project

Celery experiment for school science project

Amazon Fire TV vs Apple TV vs Netflix and Chromecast

This is a followup to my Amazon Fire TV review. If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to read the review first. The Fire TV is great, but before you buy one there’s just one thing you have to ask yourself…

Are you an Apple person, an Amazon person, or a Netflix person?

Which device you choose comes down to the content ecosystem you’re using. If you have content on iTunes then an AppleTV and an iPad make sense. If you have content on Amazon and a Prime subscription then a Fire TV / Kindle Fire combination is a better choice.

The two systems are designed to work with devices from the same ecosystem. With an Apple TV you can use AirDrop to project content from Apple computers, iPads, and iPhones to your TV. Likewise, with a Fire TV you can fling content from your Kindle to your TV. If you mix a TV device from one company with a computing device from the other you lose that functionality.

Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire vs Apple TV and iDevices

Amazon Kindle Fire HDXThe Fire TV has made us re-think some upcoming tablet purchases. We realize now that we’re Amazon people.

Our daughter had wanted an iPad Mini for her birthday. After using the Fire TV she’s changed her mind and decided she wants a newer Kindle Fire. She likes the Amazon Prime content, with TV shows, movies, and music. She also likes the Kindle Lending Library that’s included with Prime. Every month you can read one Kindle book for free. Unlike paid Kindle books that can be read on any device using the Kindle app, the free Lending Library books require an Amazon Kindle device.

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Review of the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Reviewed

We had a TV problem at the house. The kids wanted to watch TV in the living room, because that’s where the TiVo lives. The den only had a Wii that connected to Netflix. We had an Amazon Prime subscription that had thousands of free movies and TV shows, but we could only watch them on a computer or the Kindle Fire.

When the Amazon Fire TV was announced it sounded like just what we needed. The Fire TV is a streaming set top box similar to the Apple TV or Roku. The differences are mostly in which streaming services they support. Amazon has a chart comparing the Google Chromecast and the others on the Fire TV page.

(The Chromecast is a different thing from the rest. The others are standalone boxes. The Chromecast requires a computer, tablet, or smartphone to “cast” content to it. There is no remote and the content is limited, but it’s cheap at $35.)

Fire TV can stream Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Showtime Anywhere, and dozens of other services. The only disappointment is that HBO Go is missing.

Amazon Fire TV Setup

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Conversation while watching “Curse of Oak Island” on the History Channel

ANNOUNCER: The Mystery Stone contains indecipherable symbols and the letter G carved inside a box. Could this be a sign of the Masons?
ME: So the Masons buried the treasure on Oak Island?
MELISSA: It’s always the Masons doing stuff like that.
ME: Or the Knights Templar.
MELISSA: Or the Secret Society of Weirdos.

Secret Society of Weirdos is the funniest thing Melissa has ever said. It’s like something Calvin would invent.

P.S. Fun show. I read about Oak Island in the third grade and thought it was fascinating. Now I’m getting my 9 year old interested. The season finale is tonight.

The kid in me doesn’t want to admit it, but there’s a good chance there’s nothing to the Money Pit. Occam’s Razor says it’s just a sinkhole that stuff fell into over the centuries. When people excavated the pit, they found that stuff, jumped to the conclusion that someone had buried it there, and let their imaginations run wild with dreams of pirate treasure.

From there, the stories got embellished and exaggerated as they were re-told and passed down. If you want to see an example of the embellishments, watch the episode “The Mystery of Smith’s Cove.” It shows underwater video that supposedly proves the presence of a miner’s pick, a human body, and a treasure chest. When the video is shown they overlay blue computer graphics to enhance what they say is there. The graphics look nothing like the description in any way, shape or form. You could take out a blue felt tip pen and draw a treasure chest on your cat and your cat would look as much like the treasure chest in that video. It isn’t evidence. It’s a Rorschach test.

The whole “boobytrap” flooding is the goofiest part. Burying treasure that far down with pre-1795 technology is a stretch by itself, but constructing a diagonal shaft to flood it with seawater as a boobytrap if someone enters the pit? That’s stoned TV writer stuff right there. Sometimes flooding in a pit 100 feet below sea level on a small island in the ocean is just flooding, not a clever trap set by the cunning Captain Kidd.

I’d love to be proven wrong, though. It would thrill third grade me if they found treasure down there.

11 Year Blogiversary

My first blog post was 11 years ago tomorrow.

In the past 11 years sometimes I’ve blogged more and sometimes less. It’s been almost two months since my last post, which is a personal record.

There are lots of reasons for the lack of blogging, all of them good. I started a new job in July and I still have consulting work coming in from the time I was unemployed last year and turned to consulting. Having three kids keeps me busy and I’m trying some new hobbies, like learning the ukulele with the kids.

So I’m still around and thanks to everyone who emailed to make sure everything was OK. I’ll still blog from time to time, so keep me in your RSS reader.

Natalie with Wet Hair and Mommy’s Glasses

Natalie with Wet Hair Wearing Mommy's Glasses

No time to blog about the news, so here’s a nice pic of Natalie. For a long time I’ve been been doing the conventional thing of chasing sharpness. Now I’m playing around with soft focus.

Conversation about Opposite Day

7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Can I?
ME: Nope. Sorry.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Can I pleeease?
ME: Nope.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Today is Opposite Day. If you say I can’t, that means I can.
ME: It’s Opposite Day?
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: Uh huh.
ME: If it’s Opposite Day then if you say it’s Opposite Day that means it isn’t Opposite Day.
7 YEAR OLD NATALIE: That’s not fair.

Meet the Beatles

Nine year old Katie has discovered the Beatles. Now she can listen to my Beatles albums and we can talk about those together. Beatlemania sure beats the heck out of Bieber Fever.

Happy 9th Birthday, Katie

Hi, Katie. Another year, and another post so that when you’re grown up you can read this and remember what your early years were like.

Legos

This was the year of Legos. We went to Legoland Atlanta and a Lego build day. Your mom entered you in the Lego contest at the fair and you won second place.

Winning 2nd Place at TVA&I Fair

Miner 49er at Legoland Atlanta

You have a lot to proud of this year. You made a perfect score in math on the TCAPs. You can came in second in the Academic Olympics for reading. You and Natalie were on Charles West’s Blue Dogs soccer team and went undefeated for the season.

This is something you might forget. At Lake Hills summer camp you made this bracelet and gave it to me for Father’s Day. I loved it. I wore it all summer. I put it in the cigarbox where I keep things I want to save.

I want to tell you a story for your birthday. This one is about your grandmother Dorothy.

I don’t know if you know this, but grandma Dorothy was an orphan. Her mother, Fanny McCosh, died when she was very young. Her father, Wiley Everett, worked for TVA and had to travel for work. Her brothers and sisters were older and could take care of themselves – kids back then had to be a lot more self sufficient than they do now.

Her father didn’t think they could take care of grandma Dorothy because she was so young then. He placed her in the orphanage in Maryville. A family in Walland, the Whiteheads, adopted her. You know my cousin Johnny and his wife Tina and son Caleb. They’re Whiteheads.

One of things I did for money in high school and college was to cut grass. For a while I took care of the lawn at the Mill House in Walland. It was an old brick mansion that had been converted to a restaurant.

I have a specific memory of working there. I owned a Sony Walkman (a brand of cassette player), but I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the mower, so I’d sort of sing songs, or remember songs, in my head as I worked. I remember very clearly thinking through REM’s “Welcome to the Occupation” while mowing the grass at the Mill House. I also recall taking the money I made there one day and going to the store and buying a Levi’s blue jean jacket.

One day I told mom that I was doing some work for the Mill House. That’s when she told me that she had worked there as a girl, when it was still someone’s home. She did work for families here and there to earn money. She used to walk to that house and work in the kitchen and make pies.

I thought you’d like that story.

Your mom and dad love you, kiddo.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Mast General Store

Moon Pie Store in Charleston, SC

Dark Houses are Dark

The power went out a couple of hours ago. I woke up, probably because without the AC the house got warm, and never went back to sleep. The electricity came on a few minutes ago, so here I am.

When I woke up, I went to the kitchen for a glass of milk. I keep a Mag-Lite beside the bed, but it didn’t cross my mind that I’d need it. I get up in the middle of the night all the time without turning on any lights.

I was surprised how hard it was to find the bedroom door. Turns out that’s only easy when the room is lit by the dim glow of two clock radios. The living room  was likewise dark without the LEDs and LCDs on the AV equipment.

I don’t have any great revelation to impart here, except that electricity sure is easy to take for granted.

Double Edged Safety Razors – Screw You, Big Razorblade

VodkapunditHirsute Hipsters Have Harrowing Habits

Harrowing, that is, if you’re in the business of selling disposable razors:

Procter & Gamble (PG), which rules the category with Mach-3-maker Gillette, said its razor sales are falling in developed markets. This followed yesterday’s announcement by Energizer (ENR) that unit sales of its Schick men’s razors have dropped 10 percent in the past year—a literal decimation.

I’ll tell you what’s really killing them, and that’s $4 razor cartridges. If you’re a kid in your 20s, stuck living at home because of Obamanomics, you’ll save money wherever you can — and there’s a good chance your boss at your McJob doesn’t care if you have stubble or not. The worst part for manufacturers is, how they gonna get those kids back on the cartridge farm, once they’ve seen hairy Par-ee?

I haven’t shaved with a disposable in years, and it was the price (and the promise of a better shave) that chased me away. I used to go through two Fusion cartridges each and every week, for a total annual bill of almost $420 on blades alone. But if you’re willing to take a few extra minutes in the morning, and a few weeks to learn a new skill, you can save a bundle by switching to old-school double edge safety razors.

I switched to a double edge mostly because I thought shaving with a cartridge razor was boring and soulless, but the savings are sweet. (It’s a closer shave, too.)

I bought a Stahly Live Blade at an antique store for five bucks and ordered 100 Persona blades from Amazon for 19 smackers. So a razor and enough blades for years for less than 25 bucks.

Most people who get into double edge and straight razors buy a badger hair brush, soap bar, and mug, which ups the initial investment a bit. I haven’t gotten around to that. One day that would make a swell Father’s Day present. Right now I’m still working through the same can of Barbasol.

PreviouslyDouble Edged Safety Razors – The Blades