Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Color Me Stimulated

Whether you like it or not...

My AC went out this weekend. The local service people came by to check it out today. It's screwed. The cooling coil in my house's forced air loop has a leak. That means it's shot and will need to be replaced to the tune of $900 just for parts. I'm looking at two grand with install, recharging the now empty system with R22, servicing everything that needs it, etc. Ouch.

It's enough money that the service guys suggested pricing out a completely new unit. Why a new unit? Because the government is phasing out R22 due to environmental concerns. This process starts in January. The refrigerant replacing it in most applications (like household air conditioners) is R410a. Except that R410a is not backwards compatible with R22 equipment. If I'm lucky I'll be able to keep the lines that run between the two halves of my split unit. But the compressor and air handler are not compatible and would have to go. I'll find out what that would cost on Friday. That sounds like it's going to be a great way to spend my Friday off.

Not that any of this can really be laid at Obama's feet. I'm fairly sure the changeover is tied to agreements signed in the 1980s and was decided on at least two years ago. But I still want to gripe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Great Books

Physics Geek Jesus Freak mentioned Bill Bennett's list of books every high school student should read before graduation. He mentions that the Great Gatsby, which I haven't read, is overrated. Ditto Catcher in the Rye. Never read Gatsby, but I have to second him on Catcher. Holden Caulfield whines through 100 pages, the end.

The list reminds me that I still need to read 1984. We never covered it in school for some odd reason. When I had the chance to pick it up on my own, I read A Brave New World instead. It was the 90s. I thought that controlling people through their excesses was a far more timely topic than socialist totalitarian rule. But the world has kept turning and I find that I have to rectify the missing bits of my education.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ammo Prices

Tam gives a thorough explanation of why ammo costs so much right now and why prices will have to come down eventually. I'm shooting a lot of .22 right now because of this. I have at least 4000 rounds of it left in the case I bought so I should be good for a while. On the other hand the last time I bought 5.56, I paid $13 for 20 rounds. Compare that to $6 per box when I built my AR a few years ago.

She also makes the point that if you're carrying a semi-automatic handgun, you ought to carry a spare magazine. It doesn't matter if the pistol mag carries a million rounds. You aren't carrying the extra mag for the capacity, you're carrying it as a reliability measure. If the magazine isn't the heart of the pistol, it's at least its stomach. If your one mag goes bad, then you have a very expensive and cumbersome breach-loader. Even if you can thumb a round into the chamber, that's a great way to break an extractor hook on some pistol models. Then you'll have a gun that can't feed or extract and you're doubly screwed. Carry a spare mag. It's cheap, it's easy, and it could save your life.

Oh, and how about that Ninth Circus? Broken clocks and all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party

A number of Tea Parties are being held today even in the tiny state of Delaware. The one of most interest to me will be at the Shipyard Shops in Wilmington from 4:30 to 6pm. I don't think I'll actually be able to get there because it's too early and too far away from work, but good luck to anyone who can.

Friday, April 10, 2009

West Pointers Make a Good Impression

Amy and I caught this part of the ACM awards and were impressed:

Thanks to the reminder on Chris Byrne's site, I just picked up the audio and video off of iTunes. Might as well put that gift card to good use and the proceeds go directly to the Wounded Warrior Fund.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Very Fitting

I just heard that the last book of Jordan's Wheel of Time will be so large, they're going to split it up into 3 separate volumes. That's a fitting tribute to both the Wheel of Time's incredible length and Jordan's long-winded and repetitive writing style.

More likely though it's just proof that most of the books in the middle of the series (the entire drought/weather arc) should have been greatly abbreviated. He could have gotten on with it and still had plenty of pages left for the endgame.

These Colors Don't Run

Or even walk much. Hilarious. But wait, there's more.

I'm somewhat active in the gun rights and self-defense communities. I'm not a competitive shooter or instructor, but I'm at least aware of what is going on. It always amazes me when self-proclaimed serious self-defense enthusiasts are fifty or more pounds overweight. Some of them smoke like chimneys. Now I'm no pro athlete, but I try to keep myself somewhat healthy. Why? Because the first skill you want to have down for self defense is running away. Hotfoot your ass out of trouble. I can do that. My knees will be sore the next day, but the alternative is even less appealing.

Movement is the foundation of any serious self-defense system, both in defense and attack. You need to be able to get yourself physically away from trouble if you find yourself outmatched. You need to move explosively to properly employ cover and limit exposure in offense or defense. This is important. Plan your self defense training around it.

Self-defense is not about owning or carrying a weapon. The biggest part is mindset. Looking for threats and react to them before they get to you. Train so that you can properly use your defensive tools. Maintain basic physical health so you can handle the stress you will be under in these situations. I'll be the first to admit that I don't have all of these down, but that doesn't make any of them less important.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Google Chrome

My home computer is an old HP celeron box I bought fiveish years ago when my Dell laptop died its last death. Lately browsing on this machine has been horribly slow. Especially with multiple tabs open and extra-specially if any sort of flash is involved. I was handling this by blocking flash ads and praying a lot when queueing multiple YouTube feeds at the same time. Eventually the whole computer grinds to a halt and the only thing I can do is kill the browser and start over.

I've recently come to realize it's not completely my computer's fault. For whatever reason, Firefox 3.0 is just really slow and seems to develop memory leaks over time. So I installed Google Chrome this morning. It is noticeably faster now but it's a little early to say how it will hold up after extended browsing. Especially when flash will eat up processor cycles on any machine and there isn't a flash-blocker plugin for Chrome.

I definitely wish I had Firefox's skinning option though. Chrome puts its tabs on the title bar above the address and tool bars. I suppose this is an efficient use of screen space. Perhaps it has the Mac throw-the-mouse-at-the-top-of-the-screen logic as well. But it seems clunky to me. I'd much rather have my tabs near the display window where every other browser puts them.