Print Story Welcome to a very special Cyberweek edition of the georgeha diary
By georgeha (Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 09:55:59 AM EST) discworld, droid, plumbing (all tags)
Including Thanksoweenistice wrapup, localized Keynesian stimulus involving trickle down, swimming, Lego Robotics, Droid Incredible and LG Ally reviews, reviews of Bonk, Pyramids, SuperFreakonomics, The View from the Turret, Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein, Dark of the Moon, and less.

Poll: Most challenging Lego Robotics task?

Gollywhompers, it's been ages since I've diarized. It's been a busy fall, at work, at home, at school and all around.


Halloween wasn't as much fun as prior Halloweens. Porsche_girl and mom were away for a crew thing, so there wasn't the gaggle of fourteen year old girls getting together while the parents meandered along behind them drinking wine. Instead, fourteen_year_old went off with some friends to go trick or treating in other neighborhoods, and nine_year_old tagged along with Porsche_boy and his cousins, and me. Mrs. Ha stayed home to hand out candy, but the only people that stopped by were upstreet_boy and his crew. By the end of the night, nine year old had half a pillow case of candy, fourteen year old not nearly as much.

Election Day: Very dissatisfied, paid $140 million for Buy It Now California Governor, was not delivered.

Thanksgiving was busier than usual, we agreed to watch our nine year old niece for the long weekend, so after my parents we drove halfway to Buffalo to pick her up. She's a good kid, but energetic, and even with a good kid there's extra work, and fashion shows, and Barbie puppet shows.


Oh boy, launching new engines, new major software release and the easy problems to recreate are becoming rare. Busy, busy, busy.

Add to that a replacement hard drive from our new standard (non-customized) support level, and I'm still reloading custom apps, setting up custom drive mappings, installing print drivers, etc. I've wasted near a week, but standard support is cheaper!

Mrs. Ha's second job is still dysfunctional, and we still have their kitten. But she's looking.


I didn't get picked for nine_year_old's School Trip. I'm a little disappointed, but I only have so much vacation, and if I spend a day helping out in the class to build up my class rep, that's one less day I'm available for last minute childcare. Of course, we owe $250 for this trip. Money, money, money.

Fourteen_year_old is enjoying being a freshman. She's getting involved in the costuming for Oliver!, and was on the Varsity Swimming Team.

The team had a rough year, ending up maybe 4-8. They're put in the big leagues because the combined schools are big, but they don't get a lot of women turning out for the swim team. She did get "Most Improved Swimmer" at the awards banquet. She's also joing a club swim team, to work on her form, endurance and strength (her flip turns need a lot of help, and she doesn't have enough upper body strength). Figure less than $400 for the swim club for a year. Money, money, money.

OTOH, $400 a year is a lot cheaper than modeling school. Yeah, she went to a modeling thing, they think she has potential, but not enough potential to give her a scholarship. Perspective.

In final school news, fourteen_year_old's school put on Dark of the Moon, but I'll save that for the media review section.

Lego Robotics

Nine_year_old is on a Lego Robotics team, a classmate asked her to join. It's been a lot of work, this week we're meeting six or seven days, but it's been good for her. The preliminary rounds were a weekend ago, and amazingly they got the Judges Award and are moving on to the Regionals on December 5th.

A shame the NXT kit is close to $300. We do have a part ownership in the stuff they used this time (and that was another $100).


It's been an expensive fall as we've engaged in localized Keynesian spending, culminating in some actual trickle down.

First, our hot water heater went, it was $1500 to get a new one in. We didn't have $1500, but my parents did, so we borrowed it from them. While installing it, the old compression fittings went, quickly resulting in a leak of several gallons a day, trickling down on the floor, when we had the hot water on (we were turning it off a night, and when we were out, it's an anxious way to live). It was another $1100 to replace them, replace some soft kinked copper, replace some leaking soldered joints and generally make the downstairs plumbing professional. The main house shutoff valves leaks too, but we'll wait on that one.

Then, the muffler on my econobox went, $900 to replace that. The $100 to replace the Windstar's battery is chump change, in comparison. I hope our ebay auctions do well.

It's not all dismal financial news, I got a $75 check to talk about health insurance in a discussion group. But that wouldn't even pay for a battery.

My father_in_law is doing poorly, somehow a lifetime of tobacco smoking, alcoholism, poor diet and no exercise can catch up to you. He drove himself to the ER a few weeks back for a numb leg. It was a clot, but before they could do much, he had a heart attack (caused by the DTs most likely) and more operations. He's still recovering, I don't even know if he's conscious.

He had a warning sign ten years ago when he stroked out and spent a few weeks in the local hospital (he likes to schedule his medical emergencies when he's visting back East), but he didn't learn much.

The ironic part is that we're paying for these hospitalizations (well, us Americans at least) since it's paid for by Medicare, and he's a Republican, and probably a big Tea Party sympathesizer. A little self awareness as to why the Fed spends so much, eh?

In other grumpy old being news, the dog is still alive, running us about $100 a month in meds and vet visits. He's an anxious mess at night, too.

The plan to recover from this? I'm taking out less for the HSA, I've been replacing higher interest 401k loans with lower interest ones, Mrs. Ha's health club should get cheaper, there's ebay, eating cheaper, and Mrs. Ha getting a better job. I'm also targeting the highest rate credit cards. I'm hoping to have a few paid off by this time next year.

Droid Incredible and LG Ally

Speaking of irony, while spending $$$ on the home and complaining about it, I chose to upgrade to a more expensive phone, anything to get away from the stupid 2.5 mm cell phone jack. Anyhow, it was time to upgrade my phone and Mrs. Ha's, and Verizon had a lower cost data plan, and deals on Android phones. Mrs. Ha wanted a real slide out keyboard, and free Maps, so she got an Ally for $50 after rebates (plus data plan). She likes it, a lot. She did want to be able to access her email when the XP and Mac box are tied up with Club Penguin and Garageband, as she's still job hunting.

I went with the Incredible, it was $50 more than the Ally or Vortex, I figure I'll appreciate the faster processor, more storage and bigger screen.
I like the Incredible, it's frickin' cool to have a Lunix system hanging off my belt. The LED flashlight app is great, that was one great thing about my Nokia 1100. Wifi is great, I don't have to run up my data allowance when I'm at home, or my parents. Angry Birds, like crack for a Droid.


No movies to review, Mrs. Ha has been having a hard time staying up late, and when we do stay up late, she likes to watch various Ghost Hunting Adventurer shows.

I picked up The View from the Turret: The 743d Tank Battalion During World War II while browsing the stacks at the cnetral library after a Robotics meeting. It's a short history of the 743rd Tank Battalion, which was attached to various Infantry divisions in WWII ETO. It was okay, but not as good as Death Traps , there were some significant errors that a helpful prior reader corrected with red pen (ie. the Panther had a 75 mm gun, not an 88 mm as the book states). I'm surprised at what it goes for on Amazon, it must have been a small print run.

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex is a short book by Mary Rouch about the science in studying sex. It was interesting, and personal (a doc in London had trouble finding subjects to have sex while he ultrasounded them, so she asked her husband about taking a trip to London).

After the stress, I decided I needed to visit Discworld. There has to be a least favorite Discworld novel, and Pyramids is a good contender.

SuperFreakonomics was a lot like Freakonomics, but more Super. If you liked Freakonomics, you would like SuperFreakonomics.

Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein about the three battles of El Alamein, it was good, though rueful, as it was the last battle of WWII where the British weren't a junior partner.

On to the performing arts!

Dark of the Moon is an edgy tragedy staged in the small 90 seat black box theater, which looks like a big black box. It was set in the Apalachians, a witch boy wants to be a human, so he marries a human, and will become a real human if his wife remains faithful for a year. The fundy townsfolk find out about this at a revival meeting on the last day of the year.

It was good, they spoke with an Apalachian dialect so it was a little hard to follow, much of the music was from O Brother Where Art Thou and our oldest had a good time. She was told she could have got in for free, as she worked on the show.

Back to my way too busy life.

< Attn: LHuSi Crimbo Beer Infidels! | Maybe I'll come down. >
Welcome to a very special Cyberweek edition of the georgeha diary | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Flip Turns: She's doing it WRONG by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:10:03 PM EST
Yeah, that's not an upper-body skill. Tell her to hit the Roman Chair.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

No by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:12:42 PM EST
I'll let her coach tell her.

The upper body thing is that she was outraced in an arms only practice by the other girls who were using parachutes.

The flip turn has to do with being upside and underwater and such, she would be leading a backstroke lap until the turn, then fall behind.

I'll let her coach make the recommendations, maybe he can even work on her diet, too.

[ Parent ]
roman chairs are awesome by gzt (2.00 / 0) #10 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:24:48 PM EST
That's all I have to say about that.

[ Parent ]
The British Army by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:34:38 PM EST
Didn't really perform well in WW2 having read loads of military history. Unit for unit it was mostly inferior to the US, German and Japanese and probably the Russian army in the latter part of the war. Officer corps was hidebound, the equipment not up to scratch and the men lacked initiative compared to the other powers' armies.

Thankfully the Royal Navy and the Royal Airforce performed reasonably well and Hitler made some crap strategic mistakes like invading Russia and declaring war on the US.

I wouldn't call them mistakes by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #5 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 02:08:52 PM EST
it was Hitler's plan all along to move East, and he figured he'd have to deal with the US sooner or later. Tooze's Wages of Destruction goes into this a lot.

The British Army also had a manpower shortage, was very averse to losing men, and was the least glamorous of the branches.

[ Parent ]
Losing men by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 02:41:24 PM EST
Yes they went from one extreme in WW1 to the other in WW2. Understandable though.

[ Parent ]
ORLY? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 07:41:38 PM EST
Did I hallucinate Monty thrashing das Afrika Korps?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Probably, you're not 80 by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #19 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:30:04 AM EST
But at El Alamein, Monty did show that an overwhelming advantage of planes, artillery, POL, ammo and logistics and a good advantage in men will wear down the toughest static defense line.

[ Parent ]
LG Ally by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 01:46:46 PM EST
Bought one a couple weeks ago. Darn good phone. It's a pretty good web browser, for a phone. Pretty good video player, for a phone, too.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

I thought about the Ally and Vortex by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 02:10:35 PM EST
but figured that over two years, I would spend a buck or two a month more for the Droid, and would be much happier. 6 gigs internal and 2 gigs on a card, a 1 hz processor, 800x640 screen, what wouldn't you love?

Thanks to today's Journal, I realized the Angry Birds do things when you tap the screen, level clearing got much easier.

[ Parent ]
you're just as bad as my FIL by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:02:50 PM EST
didn't you read the AB instructions?

[ Parent ]
what wouldn't you love? by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:37:58 AM EST
DroidX is too damn big to wear on a batbelt, or fit in my pockets when I'm wearing jeans.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
I'm all about endorsing the dorkiness by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:41:35 AM EST
and the Incredible is .3 inches narrower and shorter than the X, so it doesn't look out of place hanging from my belt, and will even fit in a shirt pocket, if I have the right size pocket protector.

[ Parent ]
I'll stick with my pay-as-you-go by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:03:47 PM EST
total POS Nokia "emerging markets" phone.  no contracts for me, thanks!

It will be worth it the next time I'm at a custome by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #11 Tue Nov 30, 2010 at 04:25:19 PM EST
r site, with no internet access, watching a grey box spit out paper for hours on end.

[ Parent ]
Your financial situation by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 09:04:24 AM EST
If your financial situation is such that you're taking out 401k loans and running balances on your credit cards, perhaps there are better uses for your money than smart phones with data plans.  I would think that job hunting trumps game playing for use of the family computer.

I'm classifying that as my fun spending by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 10:26:44 AM EST
The $20 a month for my phone, the wife's should be around $15.

I am paying off the highest interest CC, but until I have about $5000 in savings, they're unavoidable for last minute car repairs, mail order meds and plumbing issues.

[ Parent ]
I will stop now by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #16 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 10:55:34 AM EST
since I don't like to get preached at, either.

I don't envy your situation with the dog, since I know how difficult it is to make such decisions.  It's hard to reduce a family member's existence to a question of numbers.  We all hope to be able to make the decision a question of quality of life rather than allocation of resources.

Our cats are 8 and 10, I hope to avoid a similar dilemma for a long time.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure you can understand by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:01:32 AM EST
the difficulty of living within a budget when take home income varies $1000 a month.

The dog should be dead, the vets were surprised that for such a big dog (60+ pounds) he was 14.

[ Parent ]
Assuming by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #18 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:24:53 AM EST
$BigRedX gives you a fixed salary, your income is probably stable, and it is $wife's that is not...

I tend to budget pessimistically, so I would only consider income that I can count on to be there.  So I would only count $george_salary + $wife_salary_lowend as income, and anything over that to be gravy.  Gravy funds go to savings, or paying unsecured debts (I consider them to be negative balance savings accounts).

[ Parent ]
I was doing that by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 11:33:14 AM EST
when $wife was $1000, unsecured debt was going way down.

Then $wife went to $0, now it's back to $500.

[ Parent ]
So $wife_salary_lowend = 0 by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #23 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 12:13:53 PM EST
Ouch, you have my sympathies.

[ Parent ]
0 for a few months by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #24 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 01:01:46 PM EST
a few months at $400, a few months near zero, now we're back to $400 month plus whatever she picks up at the dysfunctional daycare, minus possible overwhelming legal expenses.

[ Parent ]
"overwhelming legal expenses" by houser2112 (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 02:55:26 PM EST
Did I miss a diary?

[ Parent ]
No by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #26 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 02:59:01 PM EST
it's more hole worthy, when it's safe to mention something.

[ Parent ]
And a swift blow with a hammer by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed Dec 01, 2010 at 10:29:20 AM EST
would save us $100 a month, but for foolish reasons I'm letting the dog live, and paying for that privilege.

[ Parent ]
Welcome to a very special Cyberweek edition of the georgeha diary | 26 comments (26 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback