Monday, May 28, 2012

Fence II: The Return of the Fence's Revenge

Despite naturally missing my wife and daughter terribly, with them on vacation, today was a great day for getting things done.  I tackled the fence on the right side of the house and even without missionaries from church to dig the postholes it was fairly easy going.

Unlike the left side of the house with its five sections, steep hill, nearby tree, and double-wide gate, this piece was only two eight-foot sections on flat ground.  The most complicated part was figuring out how to join it with the Leaning Tower of Cheap Engineering that was the remains of the previous fence.

Fortunately, it was tilting enough that the termites apparently had a hard time keeping their footing and had left enough wood that it was still somewhat translucent.  I decided to salvage what I could, but some of it was bad enough that it had to go.  As I dug up one of the posts that I was going to replace, I was amazed by how little concrete the builders had originally used.  No wonder it was leaning!  I've seen more concrete stuck in the treads of my tires.

The finished product was decent (guess which half is the new half):

When our company had moved into its new building, the landlord was going to throw away some old chain-link fence material, so I had borrowed the U-Haul our company was using and took it home instead.  This is what I still have left after doing the fence today:

While an elephant-proof fence is a laudable goal, an eight-foot tall gate has a certain imposing feel that could be a little off-putting to neighbors and visiting relatives, and perhaps lead to passing policemen wondering if we were growing marijuana in our backyard.  Then again, maybe they wouldn't care.  Anyway, I bought a metal-cutting blade, took my handy Sawz-All, and trimmed two feet off the gate:

When mounted, it looked a little...headless, but that didn't affect operations.  At least we don't have to worry about Ash being carted off by coyotes now!  Or at least once I mount a latch of some kind. 

All in all, a good day's project.  Next up, the 130 feet of fence at the back of our property!  And by next, I mean of course next year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Free Time

An apparent side-effect of KLa and Ash being on vacation is that I have lots of time to blog.

Future Politicians, Today

I can't be the only one wondering how the politicians of tomorrow are going to spin the Facebook posts and Twitter tweets that they're generating today. 

During any given election season, political mudslingers dig up old college newsletters or newspaper articles where their opponents may have said something potentially spin-worthy.  Their resources are limited, however, and rarely extend past the point that their opponent became a public figure and therefore news-worthy.

Nowadays, however, anywhere between 25% and 50% of Americans have Facebook accounts, and that probably skews young.  There will be no shortage of embarrassing photos, awkward tweets, and ill-advised posts made in a brief moment of insanity (the so-called "teenage years").

The more I thought about it, though, the more I started to lean towards "it won't matter."  Politicians are naturally shameless to begin with and besides, these social media accounts are so ubiquitous that their opponents will probably have one too, leading to a MAD scenario.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.  With Myspace and Facebook hitting nine and eight years old, respectively, the standard teenage early-adopter will be halfway through their law degree by now.  Give them another decade and we'll start to see the fireworks.

Vacation Pros and Cons

Pros and cos of KLa and Ash being on vacation:

  • I vacuumed an entire floor without the vacuum being unplugged even once.
  • I got to sleep in until 6:45 am
  • I took an entire shower without having to lean out dripping wet to lift someone onto the potty.
  • I didn't get to chase a squealing and laughing two-year-old around with the vacuum.
  • I woke up alone in bed, without a wife to drape an arm over or a two-year-old climbing in saying, "Food time?"
  • I had a cheese sandwich for breakfast instead of an omelette or banana-raisin waffles.
Not sure if I'll survive two weeks.

Vacuuming Revelation

The past couple days KLa has been waking up with a handful of bug bites.  Worried that the mice we recently fought may have brought fleas into the house, she sprinkled Borax all over the floor before she left for Utah and drafted me to vacuum it up later that night.

As I was vacuuming it up, the thought occurred to me that it might not matter what powder you sprinkled on the floor.  It could be glitter and be just as effective--what it did was show me how terrible of a vacuumer I normally was.  It took me three or four slow passes to get up all the Borax and since my usual technique is one or two quick swipes, it's not hard to do the math and realize that maybe my standard vacuuming is fairly ineffective.

In short, regardless of whether the Borax actually did anything to the potential fleas, at the least it made me vacuum properly.


I've always pictured myself as a rebel--a counter-culture anti-establishment kinda guy who ignores the usual societal norms and boundaries and laughs in the face of tradition.  Take this morning for example--I had a cheese sandwich FOR BREAKFAST.

Stupid moths, getting in my cold cereal...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Open Source and Productivity

I was so productive this evening that I decided to finish it off with a little blogging.

I love my job.  There isn't a day that I don't look forward to going into work.  With KLa and Ash leaving for Utah this morning, I was left with a free evening and the activity that sounded the most fun was to go back to work after dinner. 

If there was one downside to my job, however, it's that everything is "Proprietary and Confidential."  We use a lot of open source software (OSS) at work, but it's pretty one-directional--we only select OSS software that doesn't require us to contribute back.  It's a fact of life for a proprietary company like ours, but still not the dream world I would live in if I could. Every since I could program I've worked on and contributed to open source projects and I've always enjoyed the open sharing.

For the past couple days I've been working on adding joystick support to our software.  It's been a fun project, made infinitely easier by finding two pieces of OSS that make working with joysticks a breeze.  I did run into one snag, though--one of the joysticks just wouldn't work properly.  After spending some time on my own troubleshooting, I looked up the chatroom where the developers hung out and grilled them with some questions.
With their guidance, it took 20 minutes to fix the bug instead of two hours.  I went away with a fix for my problem and a big savings in time, and they went away with an improvement for their software.  That's what my perfect world would be like all the time--everyone sharing, and everyone winning.

Until then, I'll keep enjoying my job, and mentally thanking all those open source developers who put so much of their time and resources into making free and incredibly useful software, asking little and requiring nothing in return.