Suited at Stanford

Mavericks Gripes: Solutions, anyone?

I have found two great annoyances with Mavericks (latest OS X release) in the past 2 days:

(1) There is NO. WAY. to get a menu bar item displaying what Space one is on and allowing mouse-wise access to switching between them. While this doesn't matter much for the computer I'm sitting at the keyboard/mouse/trackpad of, it matters a _great deal_ for the computer I'm accessing via Screen Sharing. wtf, Apple? There's *no way* I know of to switch Spaces on a Mavericks box being accessed via Screen Sharing.

I use screen sharing quite a bit to control the other Macs in the house. The big problem is keyboard shortcuts and trackpad gestures don't cut it because they cause one to switch spaces locally, not on the remote machine.

I'm unable (through Google searches) to find anyone else even talking about this let alone offering a solution.

(2) It appears that "Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi" is significantly less likely to work even if the iPhone and Mac are directly on the same Wi-Fi network, and it seems like they may have explicitly stopped "Wi-Fi" sync from working when the Mac is on a _wired_ network which happens to be bridged to the Wi-Fi network the phone is on.

I have been taking advantage of "sync ... over Wi-Fi" actually working in spite of not being on Wi-Fi for a long time now (though admittedly it's been of varying effectiveness, and had got worse lately). That'll kind of hurt, but I was doing something weird and probably not something they ever imagined, so I can cut them some slack on this ... but why the sudden change?
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Suited at Stanford

Anyone[*] want some pots and pans? :)

Anyone[*] want any pots and pans?

We have a whole lot of pots and pans that are perfectly usable, except that they don't work with induction stoves (which we now have). Free to a good home!

[*] Anyone local enough to pick them up, that is.

(A) Set of Ameriware ceramic-non-stick-coated pots and pans.

Those cost quite a bit when I bought them and are mostly in really good condition (the small frying pan is a bit scuffed up, but since it's NOT teflon, it should not pose any health concern whatsoever).

(B) Set of non-ferromagnetic stainless steel pots/pans with copper exterior on base.

These are fairly cheap but also perfectly serviceable. Not non-stick, but surfaces are easy to clean and in good condition.
(C) 16qt Stock Pot, aluminum.

Nice big stock pot. Has made many soups, baked beans, etc.


(D) Two large, glass-lidded pans.

(i) One unknown brand mostly rounded base (but has a flat area) and a high-domed lid.

(ii) One Calphalon rounded-sided-but-mostly-flat frying pan.

Suited at Stanford

I fought the car and ... I won!

My wife's car's passenger side window wouldn't open, and our mechanics determined that it was the window/mirror control switch module (which on a Saturn SC2 is all in the middle by the handbrake). They said to buy the module on-line and they could install it.

So I found a bunch of them for sale on eBay, and bought one. It arrived a few days later. I found out it was trivial to pop the module out and replace it. Everything worked! Yay! Working window controls! :D

Lori looked at her old module and noticed that it looked like it was in fact not a sealed unit but openable.

That was maybe 3 weeks ago. Fast-forward to an hour ago when I finally found a spare moment (one of those where I should be sleeping) and decided I'd open it up and look. I succeeded in popping it apart, only to find out that there was another closed unit. I managed to pop *that* apart (more difficult), and found that there was a PCB under there. That was also clicked in and looked like it could be removed, but it was *damnably* hard to do. I ended up employing 3 screwdrivers and 15 minutes of fretting, but I got the thing out!

... but there were several little pieces of metal floating around in there. OOPS!

I figured out, though, that they were rockers, and I was able to determine how to position them, in what orientation. There were some contacts with some soot/corrosion, and there was a little on the rockers too. I scraped at them with a screwdriver to remove all that, leaving clean, shiny metal!

I popped the thing back together (making sure not to send the rockers flying while reinserting the PCB), with only minor fretting at the final piece which it turned out was harder to put back in that to remove. I popped the eBay-purchased one out of the center console, popped her old one back in, and IT FRICKIN' WORKED!

So, now I have a part I paid $67 for on eBay that I ... don't need any more. I'm thinking I could sell it onward on eBay, perhaps with a "Buy It Now!" price of $40 or something. I'll be happy if we can sell it on for half what I paid for it. All in all, even if we can't sell it on it'll have been a cheap fix. :)
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Wedding Reception

Free! May Contain Black Widow

This evening, after reading this "Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, my wife mentioned that our daughter had recently said, "Look, I can reach this!", referring to the work bench in the garage or something on it ... while standing right. beside. the vacuum cleaner that kind of might have a black widow living in its wheel well.

I said, "You know. We've never used that vacuum cleaner. We're never going to use that vacuum cleaner. What it is is clutter. We should get rid of it."

She said, "Not to vacuum up black widows or something?"

I said, "Uh. No."

She said, "Maybe we should put it out at the side of the street with a sign on it that says 'Free!'"

I said, "Free! May Contain Black Widow?!?"
Suited at Stanford

The Fairytale of Replacing Marriage

The (often libertarian) idea of ending government recognition of marriage is about as realistic as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

Marriage is a concept which is recognized internationally. You can get married in one country, go to another country and have it be recognized. You can travel to, e.g., Germany and if your spouse has to go to hospital, you have spousal rights.

I'm sick and tired of the factually bereft argument that marriage is a religious institution and shouldn't be recognized by government. It is not a religious institution, and it has existed in many forms (including same-sex) for thousands of years. Religions can recognize whatever they want. They *can't* own marriage.

Making a half-assed attempt like allowing revisionist *nonsense* like marriage being "between a man and a woman" and replacing it with AltMarriage (domestic partnership? something else?) and giving that the recognition in the US that marriage currently has ... is a naval-gazingly provincial notion that ignores the larger reality.

Replacing marriage with AltMarriage in the US means US citizens have AltMarriage, so when they travel to other countries they don't get spousal rights. This could hurt heterosexual couples (who, not being religious, get AltMarried because that has the government recognition) just like it hurts homosexual couples (who the marriage-replacement-fantasists would deny the right of marriage to).

If a gay couple married in New Hampshire travels to the Netherlands tomorrow, they are married, and that marriage is recognized there. If they travel to another country, it might not be today, but it might be 6 months from now. What is almost guaranteed is that if they are AltMarried it will not be recognized as equivalent to married in other countries.

In conclusion:

(1) Religions don't own marriage. Why should they get to restrict the rights of others? The answer is simple. They should not. EVERYONE should have equal rights.

(2) Any argument on this topic, to be worthwhile, has to consider rights internationally, not just within the US.
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Suited at Stanford

Obnoxious Return Policies

Well before Christmas, I bought a gift from Alison's Montessori.

The product looked great on-line, but I was extremely disappointed when the recipient opened the gift and I saw how very poor the quality was (paint overlapping what were meant to be sharp edges with a colour on one side and not the adjacent side by up to 2mm).

I went to look up their return policy. This is perhaps something I should have been more aware of when I placed my order, but I spent more than a couple of hours researching which companies were reputable and which were not and, honestly, Alison's Montessori was one of the most liked / least hated! I was astounded by how absolutely draconian their return policy is.

My thoughts on the worst parts of their return policy:
(1) You have to request an RMA within 2 days of receipt?! So if it's a gift, you are screwed.

(4) So if someone didn't read carefully and sent something back via USPS they would screw them out of their money and the item even though they received it? Isn't that theft?

(5) If you don't insure a return and it *goes missing* or gets damaged/destroyed, it's your problem, but if it *does* arrive safely ... see my comment on #4.
It is also worth nothing that this is not some cheapo $5 item I'm talking about. This is an item which cost well over $50.

Wedding Reception

Amusing Air Travel

Last week, on our way home from Milwaukee, WI, we were on an American Airlines puddle-hopper (Embraer regional jet) from MKE to DFW and the captain was ... a little unusual in his announcements.

Some samples:
"Good morning, this is your flight crew. We're expecting a smooth and beautimous (sic) flight to Dallas Fort Worth where the weather today is just ducky! If you're seated beside the pool … with a frosty beverage. Due to strong tail winds and superior piloting skills, we're scheduled for an early arrival."

"Our first class flight attendant ... Bubbles."
(Note: Not her real name. Hopefully they're friends and she doesn't mind!)

"I'd like to ask that Bubbles please secure the cabin for take-off."

"Once I turn off the 'fasten seat belts' sign, you will be free to wander, aimlessly, around the cabin."

"It's a beautimous (sic) day for flying, we're almost at our incredibly high cruising altitude of 28,000 feet and, as previously mentioned, the weather in Dallas Fort Worth is just ducky and we're making ludicrous speed."

"The good news is that due to superior piloting skills we're almost an hour early. The bad news is that being so early we have to wait for the ground crew to amble back from the break room."
If it weren't for the fact that the oxygen level in the plane was way too low, it would have been an even more enjoyable flight. As it was, that rather put a crimp in our enjoyment of the flight.
Suited at Stanford

Travel day 2

Elapsed time: 30 hours.

Back in the airport (ORD) again, waiting for AA 1341 to SFO (on time thus far). I'm looking forward so much to seeing my wife and my little girl! :-)

The airline put me up at the Holiday Inn overnight. It was a bed--all that really mattered. I did not want to wait over an hour in the cold to get to my hotel last night (as some people waiting for them to bring 100 people to the hotel in a small van; ugh!), especially with so few hours to sleep, so I paid for a taxi to take me to the hotel.

The taxi driver was a scumbag. First he told me it would be $20. $20?! I told him "Forget it, I'm not paying $20 to go from the airport to an airport hotel". He starts driving anyway and says, "Then just pay whatever the meter says."

Then, when we got to the hotel, the meter said $11.65 (after the idiot driver took a wrong turn). I handed him $15 because that's what I had. After back and forth about receipts, he still hadn't handed me any change and seemed to be waiting for me to get out. The following exchange ensued:
Me: "Uh, you haven't given me change"
Him: "You don't want to tip?!?"
Me: "Not that much!" (especially with that disgusting response!)
Him: "Normally a tip for a ride from the airport is at least $5."
Me: "On a $30/40 ride, perhaps, but not to an AIRPORT HOTEL."
Him: "What do you want back?"
Me: [fuming] "Uh, just give me $2."
[he did so grudgingly, and then proceeded to make no motion to get out to help with luggage]
I should have demanded all my change and not given him a penny. The guy was obnoxious. I'm annoyed that I only demanded $2. I *would* have given him a tip anyway, in spite of his earlier stupidity, and not felt too bad about it, but the attitude over tipping? Gah! And then I was too nice to leave his trunk open so he'd have to get out. Damn.
Suited at Stanford

On "Daddy Long-Legs" and poison/venom

There's a rumour I heard a couple of years ago about Daddy Long-Legs spiders (see below re the name having different meanings in different places) having the strongest poison (or probably more correctly venom) of any spider, but that they don't have strong enough jaws (or long enough fangs, or ...) to bite humans.

Ricky Gervais has a comedy bit about this, except he applies it to flies, not spiders. It's pretty funny, regardless.

This confusion is because in Ireland and the UK, a Daddy Long-Legs is a fly (in the US, known as a Crane Fly), whereas in the US it is used to refer to a kind of spider. Well, sort of.

According to an article about the Daddy Long Legs Myth at UC Davis the term Daddy Long Legs refers not in fact to a true spider but to opilionids (see the UC Davis article for more detail; incidentally, there's very common ones in Ireland) but is often used to refer also to spiders. The article also firmly calls the venom/poison rumour out as myth. Snopes agrees, but their source is the UC Davis page, so that doesn't really add much.
Suited at Stanford

Listening to Nathan Lowell Talking on His Morning Walk on My Morning Walk

I took a day off today (I had to or I would lose vacation (well, stop accruing PTO--I'm around the cap)).

So what did I do? Sleep in? No. I got four hours of sleep and then got up and went for a 2.8 mile walk. :)

What did I do while I walked? Why, I listened to Nathan Lowell talking on his morning walk ... on my morning walk.

Nathan is doing an amazing job of getting out there and walking 2 miles each and every day bar almost none. He's recording a podcast each day while he walks, just talking about what is on his mind that day. If you are a fan of his work, you might find it interesting to listen -- I certainly do -- but if not I don't know how interesting it would be.

I'm trying to get out and walk a bit more. It's still too hot for me to enjoy walking during full daylight hours, but when the sun is just starting to come up is not so bad. I've only managed to do it 3 or 4 times thus far, over the space of a couple of weeks, and most of the time I've only walked about half what I walked today.

Perhaps I shouldn't make Starbucks a waypoint during my walk, but it helps to have a target/motivation/reward, and I think I'm probably healthier for walking 1.5+ miles and getting a Starbucks drink (especially a less candy-bar-in-a-cup-like drink than some I order, such as the simple vanilla latte that I got today) than not going for a walk and abstaining.