chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I arrived at my house last night to find that my garage door opener no longer opens the garage door. The motor runs but the chain doesn't move. Since the door can be opened manually, it's not a broken spring, but rather something in the opener. Were I a Heinlein-ian Competent Man, I'd pop the cover on the opener and replace the failed gear. I'm not, so I'm going to replace the opener and hire somebody to do the work.

Parenthetically, did you know that modern (last 20 years) garage doors do not have handles on them? To open manually, one must hold onto a hinge with one hand and pull down on the emergency lever with the other until you get the door up enough to get your hand underneath the door. It takes a bit of grip strength to do this, and it was performed by me last night in the rain. At least my door has a manual lock on the inside, but that comes with it's own set of challenges.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
For the second time this winter, a major winter storm hits Chicago on a day in which I don't have to leave the house. This fortuitous event is entirely by luck and not skill, thus the title.

In other news, I had a quiet and uneventful holiday downstate. Due to flooding rain, we were unable to shoot, but otherwise I accomplished all I set out to do. I need to:

1) Sort out what clothing is going to Good Will
2) What books are to be donated to the library
3) Review tablet devices and decide on what I want to look at
4) Fix a table lamp (which may require parts, hence defer until tomorrow)

I also plan to get some writing done.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I had a quiet weekend. Saturday was largely given over to assembling my new grill, which cooked its first steak Sunday. I also finished Mary Robinette Kowal's latest novel, Of Noble Family. I found the book okay.

Set in Antigua, the novel is largely an exploration of 18th Century race, slavery and family relations. In the afterword to the book, Mary wrote that she wanted to make the conflict bigger, but the geographical realities of Antigua meant she had to make the conflict smaller. It shows, and some of the contrivances needed to make the story work I found a bit irritating. So, it was an okay ending for the series, and I'm looking forward to a new series from her.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So far, Monday has proven to be a real fire drill at work. Fortunately, I got one of my issues put to bed and look to close on another. Go me! Other thoughts:

Grills

I decided to tell my inner cheapskate to STFU and so I bought this Weber grill. It really is nicer than the Char Broil, and not that much more expensive.

Sad Puppies

I favorably linked to this article by Eric Flint on the "disconnect" between award-giving SF and popular SF. The more I think on it, I'm not sure the gap is as big as Eric thinks it is. John Scalzi, recent Hugo winner, just got back from a large tour of Australia and an appearance as a big-name guest at the LA Book Festival. In short, somebody's reading him. Mary Robinette Kowal is a featured guest at this weekend's Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. We're told "all the kidz go to comic-con."

C2E2

Speaking of comic-cons, as part of my ongoing, hard-hitting investigative report of same (and if you believe that, call me about a bridge for sale) I will be attending the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) for the day on Friday. Then I'm heading to Davenport Iowa to play Rotarian. Updates to follow.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Random Thought - Hugos

Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet have both pulled their Hugo-nominated work from contention. I had read the Kloos before this mess - I enjoyed it but it didn't wow me enough for a nomination - and I have never heard of Annie Bellet. In any event, I'm sad that the two of them got caught up in this shit-storm. Sad enough that I ordered one of Bellet's books.

Random Thought - Social

After a few weeks of non-attendance, my usual group of triva-players made it out to Shanahan's for trivia night. We took first place, despite me blowing a 10-point answer. We also got lucky - several of our guesses (including a Simpsons-related question) proved right.

Random Thought - Grills

I'll be buying a new grill this weekend. Unless the Weber goes on sale or otherwise convinces me that it's $100 better, I'll be getting a Char-Broil. My inner cheapskate is winning out.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
It's Monday and raining here in Chicago. Rain's actually a good thing - I put down mulch yesterday, so a nice soaking will bed it down.

On the Sad Puppy front, Torgersen's gone full-wingnut and invoked the specter of 9/11. Sayth he: I remember in the wake of 9/11 there seemed to be two camps forming. The first camp devoted itself almost entirely to the question: What did we do to deserve this, and how can we say we’re sorry? The second camp asked: How can we bring the perpetrators to justice, and what can be done to stop them in the future?

Sayeth I: what planet are you on? If I were your CO, a "random" piss test for drugs would be in your future.

From Puppies to grills. I've been looking at a low-end Weber gas grill to replace my old Char-Broil. I was hoping they'd go on sale this weekend, but no dice. My inner cheapskate is asking are the Webers really $100 better than the comparable Char-Broils? I mean, my $200 Char-Broil served me well for over a decade.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
In an effort to avoid this blog becoming all-Hugo, all-the-time, herewith are some non-Hugo thoughts. (Hugo-program-related-activities will resume Monday, after the slate is released.)

The First American in WWII

Over at Gin and Tacos, the proprietor has some interesting thoughts on Pearl Harbor. First, he notes that in 1941, before cheap air travel, Hawaii was terribly isolated and a colonial backwater. Then he notes that the first guy shot at in the Pearl Harbor attack was a civilian, Ray Buduick, out for a Sunday flight in his open biplane. An interesting read.

Grills

In 2000 or 2001, my dad bought me a propane grill. It was perfectly-serviceable CharBroil two-burner unit. Well, 2001 was a long time ago, and said grill is showing it's age. Most of the age is external cosmetic stuff, but the real problem is the burner is crapping out.

Now, I could replace the burner, but then I'd have a tacky-looking grill with a new burner. I'm sitting on some gift money from Xmas, (thanks Mom!) so I'm leaning towards replacing the whole unit with this Weber grill. It's a bit of an upgrade from the old one, but the reviews I've read speak highly of it, and for what I do, a two-burner unit is more than big enough. Thoughts?
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Previously in this space I posted a statement to the effect that my air conditioning at my house was not working. After two repairmen visiting (only one of which charged me) I have been assured that it is functioning correctly. Both asked me to run an experiment, and the results are in.

The experiment was to see if the house would hold a temperature during a heat wave, like the short-lived one we just had here in Chicago. The answer is "yes." But what my AC won't do is pull the temperature down if the sun is out, and it won't quickly pull it down at night, especially if it's hot outside. Basically, if I want coolth in a heat wave, I need to set it at or very close to my desired temperature and let it run.

Since my AC comfort level is 74 degrees, that means on especially hot days when I leave the house I set the AC at no higher than 76, vs. the 80 that the programmable thermostat is set to. At any rate, now I know.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
My AC at my house runs and puts out some cold air, but was unable to pull the house below 75 degrees last night. Of course my parents are visiting as well. Yippee Kay Aye. (At least the repair guy will be in this morning.)
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, last night I loaded up the dishwasher in my house, put in the detergent and turned it on.

Nothing happened. Zip, zero, nada, nilch, nothing. No blown circuit breakers, no other obvious problems, just no washing of the dishes.

Fortunately, I have a home warranty from the sellers, so I opened a claim with them. We'll see what comes out of it.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Various odds and ends:

The Joys of Home Ownership

For the past week or so, my furnace in my house is making a clicking noise.  Turns out that it's a two-stage burner, and the high stage is not working.  Since the low stage is working, I have heat, but it takes a while to get up to temperature.  The repair guy will be back Thursday with parts to fix.

Travel

I'm planning a trip to London for Worldcon, and I was reading a travel book about London which said "confirm your passport has at least six months left before it expires."  I checked my passport (who tracks the expiration date?) and discovered it had expired in 2010.  Oops.  Renewal in process.

I also reviewed my luggage situation.  I tend to travel light, and can get a week's worth of stuff in a carry-on bag.  But I'm going for two weeks, and my large bag (bought for my last European trip in 1994) has a busted wheel.  So, I bought a new one - got a $400 Sampsonite 4-wheel bag for $200 at Carson's.

Culture

Over the weekend, I went to see American Hustle, the new movie out.  It was well worth the ticket price.  I did rather marvel at Amy Adam's wardrobe - she spent most of the movie dressed for open-heart surgery - and Jennifer Lawrence stole every scene she was in.  Highly recommended.

I also was given a copy of Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't. It was also highly interesting, if a bit denser than American Hustle.  One of the most interesting chapters was on Global Warming.  Nate, a math wizard and not a climatologist, ran the temperature numbers.  He discovered that, even if global warming is true, there is a 15% chance that any given decade will show a temperature decline.  That's the "noise" in the signal about global warming.

Well, I'll be back here next year.  Have a happy one!
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I have to say that I like my new (town)house. First, it's warmer. Even with the heat set at 68, the place feels warmer than my old one. Second, with mostly carpeted floors, it's quieter. The floors at my old place squeaked - these don't. Lastly, my garage is much warmer. It's unheated, but there are (heated) rooms above and to three sides of it, so it retains a lot of heat.

I like my new house!
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Thing #1

It looks like my Windycon schedule is in flux. More details when I have them.

Thing #2

I have a lot of remote monitoring turned on for my work network. Last night, one of the servers monitored had a millisecond-long hiccup which spit out an alert. If I hadn't had the alerts turned on, I wouldn't have known about it. I did so I did, but it proved to be a non-problem. Sometimes monitoring systems has you chasing ghosts.

Thing #3

I lit off the fireplaces in my house last night. I did this for a couple of reasons, one of which was as an experiment. When I first moved to Chicago, my apartment lost power during a spring snowstorm. I was just about ready to abandon it for a hotel due to lack of heat when the power came back on. Even if you have gas heat (which I did) no power means no heat. So, the first thing I bought when I moved to my first house was a kerosene heater, just in case. So, last night, I tested to see if the gas fireplaces could heat the building. Yes, but not terribly well, is the answer.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I'm getting a new refrigerator tomorrow, which means I need to empty my old one out. So, I'll practice by emptying out a few links.

A) From [livejournal.com profile] jaylake, the Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties.

B) I've written about my Law of the Totem Poles. (tl;dr version = the person just one step up from the bottom is the most invested in the existing order.) Well, here's another example: Why My Single-Mother Sister Hates Food Stamps.

C) My old high school, Westville, is in talks to consolidate with our old arch-rival Georgetown. Simply put, small rural high schools don't have the funding to offer a competitive education any more.

D) Just for fun - an interview of Larry Bond talking about Tom Clancy.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
It was a fairly busy day yesterday at the new house. Various issues were addressed, to wit:

1) Wiring - the house had one (1) analog phone jack and two (2) cable jacks. Wiring guy came, and it looks like it will be too hard to change that, so I'll be going wireless phone and data.

2) Refrigerator - the previous owners left the refrigerator, which was an ice-and-water through the door model. The problem is that the water was not connected, as they hadn't ran a water line to it. Running the line is a non-trivial deal, but I've got my handyman on it.

3) Windows - when I bought the house, I noticed that the windows had blown seals and were the old wooden el-cheapo builder's model. So, I priced my offer on the assumption of having to replace the windows. I had one guy out for a quote, and more to follow.

4) Maid service - I use Merry Maids, and they had to come out for a quote and to set up the service.

5) Other tasks as assigned - more pictures were hung, and now I'm deciding if I'm going to buy some additional artwork and if so what.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
God willed and the river didn't rise, so I'm in new house, surrounded by boxes. In truth, I've made fairly good headway on the boxes - most of what's left are books or stuff I was storing in the basement. A fair number of pictures are hung, and in general the place is getting livable. Much work needs to be done, including persuading AT & T to actually connect my phone and restocking my refrigerator.

So, back to it.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I'm not living on a Navy base, it just feels like it. My current (perfectly adequate) room has that vague institutional feel, and Argonne Labs has that peculiar mix of industrial and office buildings scattered randomly that feels like a military base. There's even a guard house where I show my ID to get on the property. In short, I keep feeling like I should run down to the Navy Exchange before they sound colors.

Since I do have a microwave, a few plates, and a (tiny) freezer, I've been eating frozen dinners the past couple of nights. Said dinners aren't cheap, but they are significantly cheaper than any restaurant more upscale than McDonald's.

In the meantime, we're anxiously awaiting the appraisal on my new house, and trying to gently light a fire under the sellers to get all of their paperwork in order so we can close in six (6) (!!!!!!) business days. Yippee kay yeah!

I'll be at Duckon over the weekend. See some, all or none of you there.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Instant The First

I closed on my house Friday, and moved into my temporary quarters at Argonne Guest House. In the days prior to my move and closing, it felt like I was running as fast as possible, trying to get stuff done. Then, in an instant, I had nothing to do and all day to do it in. As it happens, that phenomenon provides a neat segue.

Instant The Second

Having nothing particular to do, I read Book 3 of the Expanse series, Abaddon's Gate. This book is really epic Space Opera! (tm) and highly enjoyable. It also has some interesting reflections on religion (paging [livejournal.com profile] jeff_duntemann, please pick up the white courtesy phone) and first contact with aliens.

But what I found ironic is that, at several key points in the story, spaceships or parts thereof physically go from really fast to stopped, resulting in massive injuries to the human occupants. This "60 to zero" in fiction really gelled with my "60 to zero" in real life. In any event, Abaddon's Gate is highly recommended.

Moving

Jun. 20th, 2013 08:05 pm
chris_gerrib: (Me)
The first move is complete, and I am out of my old house. Apparently the housing market is picking up - my mover told me he's had to turn down jobs because he's overbooked.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Guilt:

John Scalzi announces (at length) that he doesn't suffer from white liberal guilt. He goes on to point out that recognizing one has been handed unearned advantages and therefore should make some effort to pay them forward is not guilt. To which I add, it's also the Christian thing to do. We're all supposed to help the poor and the sick and whatnot - it says so in the Gospels.

Movers and Radio Silence

I was anticipating moving out of my house tomorrow, and I called the movers to confirm that we were on track. They said "we show you as moving Monday." What?!?!?

Long story short - I am moving tomorrow, and probably will not be at a computer. I'm using a different company.

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