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Well, welcome to a new week and we're off to the business world for an appetizer before the main course. Seems Doc Searls left Amazon when they pulled their power play with the suit by the suits and ended up at another fulfillment house. ...and hasn't sold a book through them since. After some by-play, Jakob Nielsen hashes it over in his latest Alertbox. Read both articles for some insight into how we humans interact with business as it's been and where it's going. ...and don't forget the comments page.

I guess I'd better mention the barbecue happenings before John drives down here and throttles me... Saturday I fired up The Beast with that lump mesquite from Smart and Final. Man, that stuff is now my choice for cooking 'cue. I'm not sure about grilling; I'll try that later. ...but for barbecue, finest kind. Forty pounds for $10US and it out cooks and out lasts briquettes by a wide margin. I did find out why the newsgroups always seem to have a mention of welder's gloves... I did pick up a pair of long-cuffed leather gloves before I fired things up on Sunday.

Did I get ahead of myself? Okay, back to Saturday AM: I started off with some little chunks of tri-tip from the local Albertson's. Heck, I don't have a clue on much of this stuff, so some store bought KC Masterpiece sounded fine as a mop (I did pick up some of the lingo<g>). I also used some rub (dry stuff) I found at Smart and Final on three of the pieces just to see how that would work out. Short version: everything worked out fine. The boys both tried some and survived. Daniel only attempted the sauced version; he's not one for adventure. Bradley though... "Dad, I want some more of the spicy one. ...I'll be right back after I get some more water."

Well, that was lunch; even Shelley had some when she dropped in for a minute from her getaway day.

Since that went well enough, I threw the ribs on a rack. ...and picked them back up off the grill and tried to figure out how the heck to keep them in the rack. They kept sliding under the rack. ...and they looked so pretty and polite just sitting there in the picture! Finally; finally... Okay, lower the fire and we'll just...??? Wait... I know how to raise the temp in the smoke chamber by adding more charcoal. How the heck do I lower it?? ...and standard oven mitts are not the proper attire for this trick. Okay; the far end of the smoke chamber and we'll just watch the internal temp and try not to burn the mop. Maybe just slather on a lot of sauce and pray...

Short version: the boys fought over the ribs. ...for two days.

...and Shelley allowed that things did turn our okay. ...enough so that on Sunday she let me grab that turkey roast she'd been protecting from me. Heck, I'm a pro at the too-hot fire; she said she cooks those in the oven at 350F for 90 minutes or so. 350F? ...piece 'o cake. ...and this time I had the leather mittens all ready for playing in the firebox.

All in all, a learning experience. ...both days. I need to get a little better handle on the time/temperature curve for the various meats. ...and another remote thermometer as I want to monitor the firebox temp at the meat level as well as the meat temp. But hey, not bad for someone born fourteen miles north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Oh, and other stuff happened too...


1000 +/- Oh, a post... Okay, here ya' go:

I didn't even get to the computer last night. Well, other than to wish Pournelle a happy thirty-ninth birthday for the umpteenth time...

What I did do was stumble across some Calvin and Hobbes books Shelley found in storage boxes she was sorting for a yard sale. Bradley was in a mood and ended up on the couch so he wouldn't bug his brother; I was declared the designated parent due to mother overload syndrome...

So, here are these really cool books that I haven't seem for several years (since the sorting from the last yard sale); I sat down and started to read. ...and laugh. ...and worry.

Worry? Well, I thought maybe Daniel had been using Calvin as a role model all this time; last night I realized these books had been stored since before he could read. Sheesh. He must be this way normally. So, all those comics I used to laugh at... About the dinner Calvin intimates must have been scraped off someone's boot... And how there's Nothing To Do Outside... And how Homework Is Simply Too Hard... And TV is the Reason for Existence... I am now living out. Oh my.

Then again, I do see myself in the father...


I admit I have come to expect the pithy one-liners from Svenson... His comment on "mother overload syndrome" from Tuesday's post bears repeating to the world:

This typically calls for a load balancing cluster system.

Amen. Sometimes we forget our spouse is not the backup device for our system, rather an integral and integrated part of that system. If you cannot load balance with your partner...

...and I needed that yesterday evening. I didn't leave work until 1900 or so and came home tired. ...in time to pick up Daniel from soccer practice. ...where the sprinklers on the field came on with about twenty minutes left to go. ...and they continued to play. ...and play. Sheesh. One soaking wet kid, covered in grass... And a huge smile on his face. At the end, the kids had started using the sprinklers as giant squirt guns on each other (and any parents silly enough to be in range).

So dinner was at 2030; I was burnt out from the project at work; and Shelley took the load from me for a time. Thanks, Hon.

Oh, and the project that kept me late? We use a charging power supply from Lind Electronics to power the pen-based computers and the vehicular mount printers in the ambulances. We've made a few changes to the configurations over the last few years and the Lind rep and I needed to make sure we were on the same page. ...and it seems like somehow the purchasing guy is the only one with the overview of the system. I can't even pull a good "<Sigh>"; I did the specifications on the darned thing. ...and no one else has the entire picture.

Monday I fired up Visio and got started. The results are here. Granted, it's not much, but it's now once again all in one place. By the way, I can recommend Lind's equipment with no reservations. They've been more than happy to custom craft chargers and cables for our needs. If you need a mobile power supply, especially one with multiple outputs, give them a call.

...and with that, it's back to work.


When I grow up, I want to be just like Tom! His Thursday post was absolutely delightful. ...even though it did take me a minute or two to find the joke.

I'm seriously thinking of printing that post out, framing it and sticking it up on a wall in the "library" as an example. Hmmm... First I'd have to find wall space. ...by taking down a stack of something. ...which could be unhealthy considering what's likely leaning against it.

Still, that was one heck of a post. ...leading with an adventure story from the frozen north; then to our hero: traversing daunting terrain, dealing with increasing tension (Leah simply has to have net access), finding the source of his problems, trying, testing and ultimately winning out and reaching his ultimate goal: a cold beer.

Good grief, it's the Great Canadian Novel...


Hey there! It's Friday; Dan's favorite day of the week. ...unless Shelley is having a yard sale Saturday morning<grumble, moan, gripe, whine>. That basically means late to bed and early to rise; the crazies around here will be pounding on our front door around 0600 wanting to know if they can get a quick look at whatever we have. Don't worry: Shelley will be up ahead of me; she knows what my response would be to that type of idiocy...

Good news: Brian and Marcia are back and Orb Designs is once again on-line. Yeah! ...and since I'm going to write up how to reset a piece of equipment by remote control anyway, I'll do it here as a post for anyone else who may be able to use the information. I'll supply the hardware side and Matt should be able to help us with some tested software for to make the magic happen.

About the least expensive way to go about this is to hop over to Gaudy Promotions (other wise know as X10.com), and pick up their loss leader of the year. You'll pay the $5.90US shipping fee for a rather useful package and they're betting you'll be back for more. For your money you get a wireless transmitter (dubbed the Firecracker) that plugs in-line with a DB9 serial connector, a receiver that doubles as a remote on/off control for a 110v device (two wire only; three wire remotes are available), another receiver that will control an incandescent lamp, and a wireless controller for both of your remotes and others you may add later. It's a legit deal; USPS delivers your goods in just a few days and you're ready to play. While you're waiting, you may want to download the software for the computer remote and review it (Win32 only; Linux nuts can pull a search on Freshmeat for several control programs for the transmitter).

When the package arrives, plug a lamp into the lamp module; then plug the lamp module and the receiver into wall outlets. Plug the Firecracker transmitter into an available DB9 com port. Test to confirm the computer can send a signal to turn the lamp on and another to turn it off. Hopefully things are working as planned. Now you can plug your router's power cable into the receiver (hopefully a two-wire plug, otherwise they'll be some more expense at the local Radio Shack picking up a three-wire receiver. They say it's not in the stores; I've seen it there<shrug>) and get ready to rumble.

Software: I'm going to hold here as Matt Beland at one point had a really cool Perl script that tested your connectivity by pinging through your router; if the ping didn't return, his code called for a power down of the router by turning off the receiver module, waiting for a few and powering things back up again. When I mentioned Brian's problem the other evening, he mentioned he had a "much better version now based off a GPL script I found called Downtime." Sounds good to me; I'm more the hardware geek. So, I'll hold the rest of this for Matt if he can find the time in between the interviews and such.

One note: there are other transmitters/transceivers available for this project; I'm mentioning this package due to the low cost. Let's see... $5.90 plus GPL plus a little time... Yep; adds up for me. Serious X-10 geeks: yes, there's other stuff that will work better; I'm going for low cost for a new user.

...and now, let's get ready for the weekend!


Yard sale

<grumble, moan, gripe, whine>

0915+/- Okay; I apologize. It really wasn't that bad. Kinda'. ...other than the getting up at 0530 to move the cars and set things out. ...and the people. Sheesh.

I retired to the back yard around 0700 and fired up The Beast. By 0800 I had ribs cooking for an early lunch and about a third of a pound of barbecued hamburger resting comfortably in my belly. I'm now ready to start my day. ...after I haul Bradley to a friend's house and help Shelley break things down and haul Daniel to a friend's house.

Wait a minute... If things are cleaned up, she can run Daniel over and I can wire in that 120v circuit for the patio <G>.

Stopping long enough to mop those ribs, of course...


...an official protest to my body:

"It seems you're determined to deal with this aging thing with what are becoming increasingly common reminders that I am no longer in my mid-twenties. Be advised reality has not caught up with the reasoning part of the package and this routine of finding my waking moments hindered by joint pain and muscle stiffness is simply not acceptable. ...even if much of the day before was spent with pickaxe, mattock and shovel."

"Thank you for your time and attention."

...which unfortunately will likely be forgotten. ...and that's another thing!

I think the pool with be good therapy. Every time I sit down for a few minutes, I have trouble re-sequencing the ambulatory skill set: the motor nerve/brain/sensory nerve feedback loop keeps having to readjust for my muscles just not wanting to move. Waking moments heck... This is turning into a forced day of rest.

Then again, there is Precedent...

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