DST is a waste of money

From the Wall St Journal: Up until two years ago, only 15 of Indiana’s 92 counties set their clocks an hour ahead in the spring and an hour back in the fall. The rest stayed on standard time all year, in part because farmers resisted the prospect of having to work an extra hour in the morning dark. But many residents came to hate falling in and out of sync with businesses and residents in neighboring states and prevailed upon the Indiana Legislature to put the entire state on daylight-saving time beginning in the spring of 2006.

The television will be revolutionized

Digital TV means crystal clear reception from an $8 wire loop antenna. It means beautiful sharp images a meter across with no visible scan lines. It also means occasionally having to reboot your television. It’s just the way things are. I have to reboot my cellphone every day or so, or a memory leak eventually causes it to crash. I have to reboot the printer once a month or so. Our answering machine has needed rebooting a few times, too, and the other day I rebooted the car.

A fluffy tale

Squirrels don’t hibernate during winter, but they do slow down their metabolism to conserve energy. Research suggests that their immune systems partially shut down as a result. Perhaps for this reason, squirrels often develop mange in winter.

Our resident alpha squirrel, Blacktip, developed a bad case of fur loss over winter. It started on his neck and chest, but soon spread to his belly and thighs, leaving him pink and itchy. Apparently squirrels usually recover on their own once spring arrives, but this particular critter showed no signs of getting better. I took the feed box away so he wouldn’t spread whatever it was to the other squirrels, and considered my options.

After reading everything I could find on the Internet about squirrel fur loss, it seemed pretty clear that the culprit in this case was notoedric mange–the symptoms matched exactly. Further research revealed that there is a common animal parasite medication that is used to treat notoedric mange in squirrels, as well as in rabbits, rats, and other small mammals. It was pretty cheap, too. The information available on the net suggested weekly doses, for a period of 2-3 weeks. It seemed doable.

So let me tell you about this house thing…

When we arrived in Austin at the end of October, we didn’t expect major problems finding a house. During our visit in April we had spent an afternoon with a real estate agent, and had seen a number of suitable houses. Sure enough, the first day we went house hunting, sara walked into a place and immediately thought “This is it.” We went back when I had finished work, and I agreed.

Do PowerMacs dream of electric bills?

People often wonder if they should turn their computer off, or leave it on but put it into “sleep mode”. I decided to do some analysis a while back, here are the results. If you look up the specs, a Sawtooth Power Mac G4 in deep sleep uses about 4 watts of electricity. In MA you pay $0.04823 per kWh, so it costs 4 / 1000 kW * 24 hours * 365 days * $0.

Vegas Day 3: The Hoover Dam

I’d always wanted to see a dam, and as dams go, they don’t come much bigger than the Hoover Dam. Named after Herbert, rather than the more infamous J. Edgar, it’s possibly the most impressive piece of structural engineering of the 20th Century. Hoover gets the credit because as well as being a politician, he was a former engineer, and arranged the contracts between 7 different US states which would allow the project to go ahead.

Our secret is out

I think it is effective to cure or prevent depression and become happy-healthy-efficient that you constrict anus 100 times in succession and dent navel 100 times in succession everyday following the life style of long-lived British as possible. […] I have known 70 year old man who has practiced it for 20 years. His eyes sparkle. He is full of vigor, happiness and joy. His eyes sparkle. He has neither complained nor born a grudge under any circumstance.

Busy with optical media

Spent Friday morning clearing up a random disaster… some legacy application that suddenly needed to go out on CD, that had never been designed to run on read-only media. Then I went to the MIT lunch trucks. I spent the afternoon continuing to learn J2EE and SQL. I now have a simple user registration / login application written, which uses request dispatch and HTML files for look and feel. The book I’m learning from is OK on the Java stuff, but does a really poor job of teaching good systems design; they have all their HTML shoved into the servlets.

Trip report, day 1

In retrospect, it was my own damn fault. I should have gone for the peppermint. But no, I chose the raspberry Earl Grey, which is apparently full of caffeine. That, combined with worrying about the day to come, meant that I only got around four hours of actual sleep on Saturday night. Sunday morning, the taxi didn’t quite turn up. In spite of the fact that I had spelled out the street name, somehow the house number had been omitted again.

Russia Day 9

On the train in the morning, Olga tells us another Russian joke: Q: What should we do if the Americans launch a massive nuclear attack? A: Wrap yourself in a white sheet, and crawl very, very quietly to the graveyard. Q: But why must we crawl quietly? A: So as not to start a panic. The train is actually more luxurious than the sleeper train we traveled on in Italy. However, there are no straps or railings to prevent you from rolling off the upper bunk beds, and I don’t get much sleep.