Archive for July, 2011

Laptop Upgrade

My wife’s laptop is slow and sometimes uncooperative. Somewhat like a toddler. It’s time for it to be replaced. The laptop, that is, not the toddler.

And the laptop is a little heavier than the current technology, so I got her one of them fancy notebooks

Fe Fi Fo Filter

Intro to Our Water Problems

Our water softener was hurting. It still worked, kind of. It was going through salt like normal, but the water was tasting worse and worse. Salty-ish, in fact.

My wife refused to drink the water, so we were going through dozens of cases of bottled water from Costco. It finally got to me too. When you have to spit out any water that gets in your mouth during your shower, you know something’s not right. So I talked to some people, and got referred to my local hardware store.

I filled up an empty water bottle (we had lots of those available) with our hose water (from before the softener) and took it to the store. The manager guy took it in the back to test it. It took him quite a while.

When he finally came back, he told me that he tested it twice because the numbers were off the chart and he didn’t believe the first test.

Fixing Our Water

For those who are interested: our water has an iron content of 3.5 and a hardness level of 67. I forget the units on those numbers, but I think the hardness involved grains.

The store manager said they had an iron filter that would help, but he wanted the water treatment specialist (and installer) guy to look at our system in person so he could make sure nothing else was wrong. Maybe he thought we connected the water softener backwards or something.

The water treatment guy came out and tested our water. He hadn’t believed the store manager’s results either. Sure enough, he got the same result. Our well was fine and the rest of our system was fine. It’s just the groundwater in our area is very hard. Based on his assessment, we got an iron filter from the store and he installed it.

It cost around $700, but it was well worth it.

Get it? Well worth it…


Random Tips for Living

Tip for Fathers:

If your kids are supposed to be washing their hands, but instead you hear laughter and shouts of “Silly string! Silly string!” coming from the bathroom, you had better go check on them.

While you are walking there, use that time to compose a stern lecture on the appropriate use of foaming hand soap. Do not start composing a blog post.

Tip for Husbands:

Put the blender away fully assembled after it has been cleaned.

The next person who uses it may assume that it is ready to go and will not be happy when juice starts leaking over the base, table, and herself.

Tip for Nature Hikers:

Do not poke a turtle. If you must poke a turtle, use a stick instead of your finger.

They are not necessarily friendly, nor are they slow. Sure, they might not run very well, but they can move their necks faster than you think.

I was trying to see if I could prompt the turtle to move out of the middle of the road. He was a large turtle, too – bigger than a curling stone. I was glad I chose to poke the back of his shell, because he lunged at me as quickly as he could. He would have jumped too, if turtles could jump. He was glaring at me something fierce, and I could see that he was thinking “you’re lucky this shell is holding me back, buster…”

Tip for Managers:

If you have an employee appreciation event and you hire a DJ for a fun atmosphere, be sure to check the playlist.

I, as an employee, attended a picnic thing for employees, and the song I heard as I approached the hamburgers was “If I Had a Million Dollars”. Since the company was providing this picnic, some people could take that song as mocking. No, of course you don’t have a million dollars – that’s why you have to work here.

And if you are the CEO, do not let people see you singing along to that song.

From it Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet.

Exodus 40:31

Every Other Window

Many people follow the rule that you never buy something when it first comes out. For example, if you buy a car, don’t buy it the first year it is available. That’s when the problems get ironed out. If it’s “all-new” that means there are issues the car company hasn’t found yet. Buy that car the second or third year that it’s made.

That doesn’t seem to apply to Microsoft Windows. For one thing, no matter which version you buy, there will always be software updates and patches and such. But some versions are better than others. From what I can tell, you want to get every other version (e.g. buy one, skip one, buy, skip, etc.)

Windows 3.0 – okay
Windows 3.1 – better
Windows 95 – okay
Windows 98 – better
Windows 2000/Me – bad
Windows XP – fine
Windows Vista – bad
Windows 7 – fine
Windows 8 – ? (be wary)

I think Windows 3.1 is still my favorite.

There were artistic window frames in three rows, and window was opposite window in three ranks.

1 Kings 7:4

Mirror, Mirror, on the Van

The passenger-side mirror of our van has been cracked for a while – not just the mirror part but also the plastic housing. The housing had some sharp edges, so I wrapped it in some black duct tape after it tore a hole in one of my better T-shirts.

photo of a broken side-mirror housing

photo of a broken side mirror from a vehicle

After over a year of driving around with the mirror in that state (what? it was still mostly functional…) I decided to replace it. Why now? Because we had a couple of vacations that required some driving, and it would be a good time for that.

I had inquired about getting it replaced, but the dealership quoted over $100 (I forget exactly, $150 maybe?). I figured that, since I could still use the broken mirror and it wasn’t legally required anyway, why blow $150 on it? I could buy a mirror and try to install it myself. The total that way would be $50.

How long does it take to replace a side mirror? I took me about an hour. But I was staging photographs and noting things. If you skip those parts, it would have been 40 minutes. And if you skip the unnecessary steps, then it should take you 30 minutes.

The Replacements

Here are the 8 steps, with helpful photos, I took to replace the mirror on my 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan:

Back to Basics

I’ll let you in on a secret that the US government doesn’t want you to know.

Babies sleep better on their tummies than they do on their backs.

The government, of course, pushes the Back to Sleep program, which is intended to deprive parents of sleep.

If you want to make the government happy, you put your child on his back in the crib.

If you want the baby to sleep well (so that you can get sleep), you put your child to sleep on his tummy.

The only problem is visit to the doctor’s office. During the check-ups while the baby is an infant, the doctor will ask how the baby is sleeping. This must be required by law or by the medical establishment, because they always ask. But the wording is up to the doctor.

This is one of the differences between an average doctor and a good doctor:
an average doctor will ask if you lay the baby down to sleep on his back, whereas
a good doctor will ask if you are aware of the Back to Sleep program (that babies should sleep on their backs).

Note the difference – the average doctor places you on the defensive (in the spotlight) but a good doctor places you at ease. Because if you’re like us and sleep the baby on his front, how are you to answer?

Plus, a good doctor will already know what you’re doing and won’t need to ask.
Does the baby have a misshapen head? Must be a back sleeper.
Does the baby have a bald spot? Must be a back sleeper.Must be a back sleeper.
Can the baby roll from back to front but not front to back?

You don’t need to directly ask which way the baby sleeps.

We have a good doctor now.

Note: if you want some interesting reading, go learn about the success of the New Zealand mattress-wrapping campaign. That’s a better way of doing things – investigate and then address the actual problem, rather than guess and pick something that opposes basic biological tendencies.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8

The Three Kinds of Heat

Travel Conversation

For this to make sense, you should know that our kids call my mom “Nanoo” and you should also know that Beta has the bad habit of biting his fingernails. He is always doing that, which means that his fingernails are measured in negative length. It’s bad, and we encourage him to stop.

The Scene: our minivan
We are travelling with the grandparents to a local destination, and Nanoo is riding in the back with Alpha and Beta.

Beta: I’m picking my nose!
Me: Nanoo, you’re in charge of stopping that.
Nanoo: Okay – Beta, don’t do that. Bite your nails instead.
Me: Nanoo, you’re not in charge anymore.

Exploding Stomach

The Scene: Alpha just finished eating a foot-long sub.
Alpha: I feel like exploding
Beta: Okay, explode!
Alpha, waving his arms: Boom!
Beta: No, exploding means throwing up.

You can tell we had just gone through some flu-like symptoms in the family.

The Kinds of Love

The Scene: the dinner table, where I have just warned the children that their food is hot. Spicy hot.
Me: There are two kinds of hot: temperature hot and spicy hot.
Astute Child: And there’s the L-O-V-E kind of hot too.
Me: Umm, yes.
Me: Anyway, that food’s a little spicy, so take a small bite first.

I don’t know what to say to that, other than do not assume that TV programs or commercials will go over your children’s heads. We don’t watch much TV, and we filter the commercials when necessary, and this stuff still slips through.

You whose garments are hot, When the land is still because of the south wind?

Job 37:17