Showing posts from July, 2011

ISP Coercion

I have grown to hate something since I moved to my present location, outside of the US: ISPs are now using your IP address to "better service" customers by providing them with pages and language preferences typical to the IP address location. The problem is that I'm an American living in a foreign country. I don't want to see the Canadian web page or have my pages default to UK English automatically!

The big catch seems to be that there is no way to turn this feature off that I can find. It is automated in the background, as a "convenience" to users, with no way to set and keep your own default. I now have pages that are telling me that "theater" is incorrectly spelled because it is not "theatre." Ahem, actually both are English and both are correct, damn it! I have sports pages I frequent defaulting to the ".ca" extension instead of the ".com" one, and giving me splash pages of hockey and soccer over American footbal…

Parenting Is Hard Work

Being a parent is hard work. You are responsible for making this little human being into a worthwhile and productive member of society. I am not a parent, but I watch other parents (especially my friends who are), and I observe which parents have respectful, intelligent, and productive children and which do not. This shows me that there are many different techniques and styles of parenting, and some are more successful than others. When left with children (either babysitting or when parents briefly leave the child in my care while they take care of something else in the house), I then try to put into practice what I've learned through observation. For the most part, those practices that I observe in the successful parents work and keep the children manageable, calm, and invested in whatever we are doing.

What I have noted is that those parents who provide boundaries, are consistent in what they want, and provide reasonable expectations, punishments, and rewards seem to have the &q…

Budget Crisis

Every economist, and every person who has tried to balance their own personal budget, agrees that there are only two ways to cut a deficit:
Cut spendingIncrease funding (in the case of gov't, increase taxes)Often a government can do one or the other. Sometimes it has to do both. When you are looking at a 14.3 trillion dollar deficit, you have to consider both, as there simply aren't enough places where you can cut to make up that mind-blowing figure.

The Republicans have said outright that raising taxes if "off the table" (John Boehner, among others). So, although there is literally and factually no way to cut spending enough to make up the difference in the budget, one half of all of the solutions to solve the budget crisis is off the table. This makes no sense, especially as you consider the fundamentals of the conservatives throughout the years (a good article calling this and other recent decisions into focus was published by Time recently). Why take any option of…

Other Household Chores

In addition to replacing the toilet in the main bathroom, I completed some other home improvement tasks recently. They are small things, and inexpensive to do, but have made a big difference.

I had noticed that our main closet in the bedroom had a lot of space above the one shelf and a lot of our crap on the floor. It struck me one day that we should put in another shelf above the first and get some of that stuff off the floor. I then walked around to the office and coat closets and saw the same issue-- a lot of head space not being efficiently used and a lot of junk on the floor. I suggested my idea to M and she agreed: let's put in a second shelf.

We went to Home Depot and got the same style of white wire mesh shelves that all of our closets have and had them cut to size (praying I had measured twice and had good numbers for the cutting). We picked up some of the special fasteners used to install them to the wall. We purchased shelves that were 12" deep so we could have som…

Toilet Trouble

Before I moved in with my wife, she bought and had her father install a new toilet. The toilet was nice enough, but soon after we discovered that it had some issues. First, one of the openings in the porcelain through which the water was supposed to exit was slightly misshapen and caused water to spray out over the seat and making it nearly as far as the wall at times. Second, it didn't do a great job with light waste, like a single sheet of toilet tissue. Third, it didn't always handle the larger waste loads either, often needing a second flush or plunging.

These issues grew steadily more annoying, especially the fact we had to lift the lid and seat up before flushing, otherwise the seat got sprayed with water, which we didn't think was very sanitary. We set aside some money for a replacement. Along the way, we learned that toilets do have a warranty and, if we had acted sooner, we could have replaced the non-working toilet with the same model/brand. This may have fixed t…

Waxing Poetic

A teaspoon amount of something is not a lot of material. However, when it is a teaspoon amount of earwax syringed from your right ear, it seems like an awful lot.

Well over a week ago (closer to two weeks now), I was shaving in the shower and got a little water and shaving cream in my right ear. As expected, my ear closed up and I became temporarily deaf in that ear. I finished the shaving and the shower and assumed that everything would be okay in a few hours or a day or two, at most. As the deafness extended day after day, and using ear wax removal drops every other day did nothing, I began to worry a bit. My hearing isn't great to begin with, and losing it or, when it was working, having sounds muffled and obscured was not working for me.

I've had tinnitus in both my ears since I was in my late teens or early twenties. With this constant situation, the tinnitus in my right ear had grown to be incredibly, annoyingly loud. I was also hearing a sloshing sound and even pops, as…