Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Always Love You

I just wanted to point out that I always hated this song... Until I heard this version at a concert last Thursday...

It's better live. If you get a chance, you should go see Josh Weathers at a venue near you.

The Hot Tub Saga

For some strange reason, I own a hot tub. When I bought the house, it seemed kind of cool. That lasted for about a year. Then, it became a headache. Finally, I drained it and unplugged it. That was a simplification. You can't just drain and unplug. There is no drain and there is no plug. I had to siphon the water out using a water hose, bleed the lines dry, then throw the breaker marked "spa" into an off position at the breaker box.

I did this about two years ago. Recently, due to circumstances beyond my control, I've been pressured to get the hot tub functional again. It's actually been fun. I've been working on my plumbing skills for when all the software jobs get farmed out to India. This was like practice for my second career.

A hot tub sitting out dry for the last two years does not just magically work with the addition of water. I mean, we tried that, but it immediately started leaking out of this strange metal attachment underneath the tub.

I had to do some research. I found this cool website called Spa Depot. They seem to have good prices on their parts, but even better than that is their instructions for how things work. I particularly like their Spa Simulator in the SpaCyclopedia.

Using the aforementioned Spa Simulator I was immediately able to determine that one of the pumps was leaking. Furthermore, by reading their instructions on pump repair, I determined that I would more than likely need a new pump. The rule of thumb is: if a pump is malfunctioning and is more than 3 years old, replace the entire pump.

The scary thing about my hot tub is I have two pumps. Both of the pumps are identical so one of them is not, what they call, a circulation pump. It's scary, because I don't think the other pump is working either. However, it's also not leaking. Pumps are going to cost around $250 no matter how you slice it. I've already ordered one.

When I first decided to do the work myself I thought I was going to have to buy some PVC pipe and some cement so I could cut the pipes and reattach the pump. Last Sunday when I finally decided to start working on it, I was surprised that this is not the case. There are plungers that work as valves on either side of the pump (the ejection side and the intake side). You close these two valves to keep water from coming out of the tub, then you unscrew the pump. Mine had been sitting out so long that I had to use some plumbing pliers to get things started on the ejection side, but the intake side I was able to remove by hand. That's not me in the picture. I wasn't taking pictures. But, you can see the valve and the twisty thing. I like calling things twisty.

Here's a picture of my removed leaky pump. I'm so proud. It's like a bouncing baby pump (that leaks). You can see the power cable to the left (kind of like an umbilical cord in my increasingly stupid analogy). I had to remove that so I can reuse it. Those puppies cost about $20.

I ordered a new pump from Spa Depot. I went from a 4 horsepower pump to a 3 horsepower pump. Maybe I'll regret it, but I doubt it. If anything the jets were too powerful before. It should be in by Friday and I'll update you on how the installation went. Because I know you will be very curious.

I'm hoping to install it into a section of the spa that's easier to get to. That one was a bitch to remove because of its location. Once I had it unscrewed I still had to manipulate it through a spaghetti mess of PVC piping. I guess plumbing is similar to coding.

I'm putting the odds at 90% that I'll be ordering another pump next week. Remind me to tell you about my less than $200 salt water conversion idea!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Admiring NFL's Stupidity and Hypocrisy

Don't start. I know. I shouldn't even be paying attention to "American" football (a badly misnamed sport).

However, for some reason, when I read the headline about Coach Sean Payton of the Saints getting banned for a year because of "bounties", I couldn't help but peruse the article. And giggle.

Let's start with perspective. Peyton Manning (quarterback extraordinaire) just signed a deal worth $95,000,000 over 5 years. For the mathematically challenged, that's about 19 million per year. I must assume this is because the Bronco's think he'll take them to the Superbowl. 19 million per year is a pretty nice bounty.

However, the NFL forbids awarding players with "non-contract" bonuses. Whatever that means. You also can't award players for defeating certain teams or opponents. Yet, they get a trophy for winning their division and the Superbowl. Isn't that a bounty for defeating an opponent and a specific team? You run a football league largely popular because of the competitiveness of the athletes and you have the audacity to try and limit their competitiveness with a stupid rule?

Let's get to the bounties and the $95,000,000 perspective. Saint's defense players were given "bonuses" of $1000 for hitting someone so hard they had to be carted off the field. They were given $1500 for hitting someone so hard they had to leave the game. I don't know if that latter bonus degraded over time. Is it worth as much to have someone removed from the game during the fourth quarter?

Another perspective. The NFL hands out fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for "illegal" hits. So these guys get $1500 for taking someone out by hitting them below the knees and then the NFL honors them with a $500,000 fine. And making bounties "against the rules" is helpful to preventing injuries how?

These guys are making millions per year and you think they are going to be inspired by a $1500 "bounty"? It's just a bit more pleasant than putting a gold star on their helmet. However, it does increase the competitiveness and I imagine these guys live to compete. They also gave "illegal" bounties for trivial things like interceptions. I can't fathom the reason those are against the rules.

The really cool thing is that the Saints won the Superbowl during this bounty era. I'm giving full credit to Coach Payton. Jerry Jones should offer the man a job immediately.

Oh wait, he was the assistant coach of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2003. Assistant to Parcells. I wonder why they didn't come up with the bounty program back then. We may have done better.

Interestingly, they placed extra bounties on people like Aaron Rogers and Brett Favre (a whopping $5000). I didn't see any mention of Tony Romo. I guess there is some silver lining to playing consistently inconsistent. Even the evil opposing bounty hunting team doesn't want to see the backup quarterback (who may actually win the game).

I think I'm going to hate the NFL more this year than I did last year. I say let the coaches motivate their players however they can. They're dealing with a bunch of rich kids and bad attitudes. Or better yet, ruin the game by punishing the coaches who are trying to make it fun.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Government: Making You Smarter?

I went to the Saint Patrick's Day Parade and post parade party on Saturday. Actually, I skipped the parade and just went to the post parade party. We took the 1 PM train from Carrollton and arrived at Mockingbird Station around 3:30 PM. No, it's not a 2 and a half hour train ride. We stopped at West End for a tasty beverage.

Before leaving for the event, I did some research on what to expect. Did I need to pack water? Did I need cash for entry? This kind of thing. I was alarmed to read that the Dallas Police Department would be out in force and passing out $250 tickets for violating the progressive city of Dallas's "open container law". If you have an open container of alcohol on public property, you get a ticket. Really? My last two parties were in New Orleans and Las Vegas. I'm fairly certain they have no such laws. If they do, they are certainly not enforced.

Upon arriving at Greenville Avenue, I realized just how stupid people are. Is it just Texans? Is it just DFW? Do New Orleans and Las Vegas have smarter people or better cleanup crews? Greenville Avenue was trashed. Beer cans and beer bottles all over the place. It was disgusting. Do Texans behave this way because of the stupid laws or are the stupid laws in place because Texans are stupid? The jury is still out. It's spelled "T-R-A-S-H". There are plenty of barrels stationed all over the place to dispense of it. You don't need to throw it on the ground. Maybe if we behave more intelligently, the local authorities would quit creating stupid laws. Or, maybe not.

At about 7 PM, the cavalry road in. Once again, I'm thinking. Really? Shouldn't the Dallas police be stopping crimes somewhere? And aren't animals inherently dangerous? Why do you need 150 of Dallas's finest pushing people off the streets? Once again, I'm lead to believe that we're perceived to be stupid.

I, of course, couldn't take this without question, so I questioned. The cavalry was followed by squad cars was followed by the infantry. I took lots of pictures. I was hoping to see a beating or something, but no such luck. Once the infantry moved in I started questioning. I don't know where they get these cops to do these things, but they made me laugh on several occasions. They were very good-natured and some of them probably could have worked weekends at a comedy club. I finally gave up on the badgering, shook their hands and stayed on the sidewalk.

My favorite was the guy pictured above. I badgered him relentlessly. He always answered with a smile while he directed people to walk behind the tents (thus avoiding the road). I asked him, "Am I to understand in the great city of Dallas it's now illegal for a pedestrian to cross Greenville Avenue?" He said while laughing, "Well for the next 2 hours it is." The cops really did a good job of maintaining order and keeping people in good spirits. But, I still think it was unnecessary. Sometimes they are commanded to do things that they probably think are as stupid as I do and yet (for the most part), they deal with the stupid sandwich (drunken stupidity and the stupid ordinances) without losing their tempers.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Super Glue for The End of the World

No one has complained about my blogging for a week now. It's a sure sign that the end of the world is drawing near. I'm all stressed out about it and stuff.

In more important news, I've had the same bottle of super glue for several years and I used it again today to super glue my running shoes back together.

Out of those two paragraphs are you wondering about the end of the world or about my bottle of super glue?

If you are like me you are wondering about the super glue. The active ingredient of super glue, Cyanoacrylate, was invented in 1942.

The problem with super glue is that it's "super" glue. How do you put "super" glue in a bottle without it sticking to the bottle and, more specifically, the exit to the bottle.

In the past, I'd always buy the cheap stuff. I'd go home, see something was coming apart, and run to the nearest store to buy super glue. I'd buy the cheapest tube I could find. It would look something like this:

It was guaranteed to cost less than $1 and work exactly once. Sometimes I'd save up several things that needed super glue (if the need wasn't dire) and that way I could super glue them all at once after buying my 99 cent tube of glue to get the most out of my single use tube.

It worked only once because no matter how careful I was, one of two things would happen: the cap would become permanently attached to the bottle thus preventing any further use of the glue (although I have been know to stick a pin in the tail end before), or the plastic application end would get so crusted there would be no chance of anything resembling liquid coming out. You can still sometimes prick the tail end and get one more use out of it, but without the nice plastic applicator.

Several years ago I was again in the market for super glue and I got a wild hair and splurged. I spent $2.50 on an interesting bottle of super glue. It looks like this:

As long as you set it upright and put the lid back on when you're done, I am fairly certain it'll last until it's completely empty of Cyanoacrylate.

You take the lid off, turn it upside down and gently apply pressure to the little green ribs until a drop of glue magically appears at the tip to be meticulously placed wherever needed. I've had my little green ribbed bottle of super glue for probably five years and it still works like the day I bought it. It's a super container of super glue.

They don't advertise for it because then we'd all quit throwing our money away on the 99 cent tubes that only last once.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blah Days

Have you ever had one of those days? I've got such a whacked out neurotic mindset that I always think it's funny asking the general public, "if they've ever had one of those days?", but I do it anyway.

I feel blah. It started last night at about 9 PM and I thought it would go away with a good 8 hours of sleep, but it hasn't. All day now I've been going through various issues in my demented cranium to try and determine the reason for my abhorrent blahness. I'll share with you, my two readers (one of whom is my split personality), and see if any light can come out of this. Sometimes just typing it out helps.

I've also been learning to not double space. Can you tell a difference? I can't.

I am driving to Canyon on Saturday to see my dad. This should not be a bad thing. I always enjoy spending time with my dad. But it is almost one year since my mom passed away and I can't help but think I haven't quite prepared myself. She was born on Saint Patrick's day. The kids and I have been going to Canyon to visit for her birthday and Spring Break for as long as I can recollect.

I told someone yesterday that I never blog about things that are too personal because there are assholes around every corner and I don't like feeding them. I'm assuming that a blog must be slightly more than readerless to attract the assholes. I may prove myself wrong today. They'll still have to enter the captcha.

The warranty on my insulin pump expired last July. I've been tempting fate running around with no warranty. With a warranty, they'll overnight me a new pump if something happens to mine. Without a warranty, I'll be back on daily injections until I can procure a new one through Insurance.

Insurance will only let me buy a new pump about every 4 years so insulin pump manufacturers have conveniently applied a 4 year warranty to all their pumps. There are even some manufacturers who put a time bomb in their pumps that make them quit working after 4 years. The pump I want to buy has not been approved by FDA. A similar one has no release date although they've hinted at 2012. Do I wait or do I go ahead and get another one just like the one I've got and see what's available 4 years down the road?

My favorite option for my blahness is that I'm stuck in a rut. Most people like stability and, believe me, I like stability too, but not as much as everyone else. Last year was the first time in over 10 years that I didn't spend at least 2 weeks in Europe because of an emergency computer problem that needed my attention. I haven't seen a pay raise in over 3 years. I'm still working the same job. I still live in the same house. I need to do something different. Do I get a new job? Do I just take two weeks off and take a spontaneous trip to Prague? Do I go back to school? I need to shake things up, but without putting a big old hole in the proverbial boat.

Another option is my bowling experience. I started bowling last year and I improved up to a point. Last Sunday I matched the best game of my career (only a 170), but then yesterday during the "official" league game I was lucky to break 120. It was very disappointing. My right hand is starting to cause me pain from my Duypetrin's and it sometimes adversely affects my bowling, but not as much as my right leg which I've been going to Physical Therapy for. So maybe I'm just depressed because I feel old?

I'm trying to think of something funny to write to end this on, but it's not coming to me. Apparently typing it all out didn't help. It's possible I'll be going to Idaho next month. I've never been to Idaho. I'll have to be better by then so I can ask all the pretty ladies where they're from. It'll make me giggle on the inside.

*update: You can ignore this whole thing. It was all caused by solar storms messing with my astrological profile. Quit trying to analyze me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Buckyball Pills

I remember when my children were younger and they'd get various sinus infections, ear infections, colds, etc.  The most traumatic part of the sicknesses involved the attempted administration of the required medicine. To this day, my eldest spawn will gag at the smell of cherries. Because, as we know, a spoonful of cherry syrup helps the medicine go down.

It's horrifying I tell you. There is just no easy way to get kids to take their required medication. Until now.

It has been discovered that Buckyballs are the delivery method of choice. They need to make some of these containing antibiotics and market it quickly. A three year old girl in Oregon swallowed 37 of these balls. They are highly magnetized. I can't imagine what it did to her insides. The makers of Buckyballs were relieved to find out she'll be alright and I bet she's relieved too (in more ways than one).

No good can come of this. Unless, of course, the makers of Buckyballs (Maxfield and Oberton), quickly start pushing through the idea of using these little balls as a transport for children's medication. It's a little late for me. My kids are grown up now and I'm trying to get them not to take drugs, but it'll be great for new parents and aspiring parents. Keflex via the Buckyball.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Pandora Flaw

I've been an avid fan of Pandora Radio for about 5 years now. Maybe a bit longer. Yes, I even pay the $30 or so per year to avoid the ads. I hate ads.

In case you aren't familiar with Pandora, it's a custom radio. You pick the music by "seeding" the radio station with a particular song or artist that you are fond of. Pandora searches through its musical database and attempts to find similar music for your custom station. It's not a bad idea. In fact, I'd like to work for Pandora for about a month so I can fix their finding algorithms. Although, I suspect it would require some fundamental changes in their database and the way they generate lists.

As a song is playing on the radio, you can give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down or you can just ignore it. I'm not sure what their original idea was. Do they expect me to either thumbs or thumbs down every single song they play? Are you supposed to only thumbs up the songs you really like and thumbs down the songs you really dislike and the mediocre songs remain categorically neutral?

I've recently discovered that using the thumbs up is a bad idea. Their algorithm adjusts the station based on songs you like (thumbs up) and tries to play more music just like that. However, variety is the spice of life. What I've decided is that, based on their current play list generator, you should only thumbs down songs you don't like so they don't get played again.

Basically, you can eliminate the thumbs up button all together. Thumbing up a song limits the variety of music. Thumbing down a song will keep it from playing similar music so thumbing down is still good. I'm thinking they should get rid of the thumbs all together and just put a red X or a gong meaning, "Quit playing sh*t like this!"

I wonder if I could create a Pandora competitor without infringing upon any Copyright laws.