Retired, I suppose

Lessons I’ve learned since I don’t have to commute any more:

1) Amazon Prime saves time and gas.

2) Amazon Prime makes it too easy to rationalize lots of small immediate purchases that would otherwise get consolidated into larger batch purchases over a time span long enough to reconsider necessary versus nice.

3) Kindle for PC makes it so easy to investigate new authors that it is becoming a slow leak in my wallet. On the other hand, I don’t have to find shelf space for my leisure reading.

4) Kindle for PC could really benefit from a way to organize a user’s library by author, series, with tags to indicate the sequence of a volume within a series.

5) Kindle for PC is convenient for reading any document that can be converted to mobi format. I use the calibre open source ebook reader to convert from rtf to mobi.



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Hedge Trimmer evaluation

A it turns out, the hedge trimmer attachment is actually a better solution to the jasmine infestation than the brush cutter. It eats through the jungle about 10X faster than the brush cutter. The only drawback is that it is HEAVY!

I need the upper-body workout anyway.

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The Jungle

It’s my back yard. Left unattended since early last fall, the jasmine has taken over half the yard. She Who Must Be Medicated has decreed that the yard must be cleared and prepared for human (and in-laws) habitation.

I investigated yesterday, and discovered the stuff is too high and thick to spray, and too tough for any weed-whacker to cut. Grass whip? — fuggetaboudit.

So off to Lowes to buy a Troybilt powerhead and a brush cutter attachment. I put the combination to work this afternoon and was happy to see that, yes, it cuts through the jasmine. Slowly. In half an hour I cleared a space about 5′ by 7′, which is where I stopped for the day because my arms were shaking. I estimate what I cleared was about 3% of what needs to be done. It looks like I can schedule every non-rainy morning for the next few weeks to complete this job.

Now that I’ve verified that the powerhead is good, I’ll go back to Lowes for the hedge trimmer attachment. I’ve seen how the pro gardeners use it for shaping shrubs and small trees, and based on what I’ve paid for that kind of work I’ll get back my investment in less than a year.

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Spring Cleaning?

Time to inventory all the (zombie) blogs I’ve left rotting around the internet to see which ones I should just run through the mulcher.

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More Carp

One more trivial observation related to Avatar: The nervous system linking between species (USB hairbraid according to some snarker in Indianapolis) is very similar to a plot device in an excellent swashbuckling technofantasy from the mid-80s, Threshold, by David R. Palmer.

Threshold and Palmer’s previous novel, Emergence, are both worth the time to find them.

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A Pretty Box, … But It’s Empty

Avatar: I watched it in the theater. Technically, it is a breakthrough in storytelling. 3-D done right (circular polarization instead of linear so the effect works no matter how you tilt your head) combined with the most meticulously executed CGI and mo-cap almost eliminated the need to suspend disbelief. The screen seemed to disappear and became a window into another world. The suspension of disbelief, or of any sort of critical thinking, really came back into play as soon as the dialog started. The story was pretty much a rehash of Alan Dean Foster’s Midworld, but dumbed down.

The only thing I’ve seen lately that was more pretentious and nonsensical was Gundam Wing.

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That Sticking Accelerator

Here’s how to have your foot all the way into the brake pedal and have the engine run away at the same time: Instead of putting your foot fully centered on the brake pedal, just rest the ball of your foot over the right-hand edge of the pedal. Press down. If you keep your foot level, there may not be a problem, but if you let your foot rotate off to the right, the right-hand edge of your shoe will press down on the accelerator. If your driving position lets your legs spread, this naturally rotates your right foot to the right. The wider your shoe, the easier it is for the problem to appear. Athletic shoes where the soles flare out from the upper are the worst offenders.

Some drivers don’t pay attention to details. Foot position and ankle rotation are two of those details. The pedals don’t discriminate. This can happen in a Toyota, a Taurus, a Volvo, a Chevy … just about any car.

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