Archive for November, 2010

Ergotron Lx Keyboard Arm Update

November 28, 2010

This is an update on my original review. I was planning to do this at the six month point but I decided to move it up a month, to get it out before Christmas, if anyone is thinking of buying one for a stocking stuffer. So, I’ve had the arm for five months now and my opinion hasn’t changed. It’s still a solid piece of work.

That said, the tendency to sag to the mouse side is a little irritating. At least it hasn’t gotten worse. I am measuring it at almost exaclty one inch of sag when the arm and mousepad are fully deployed. Since I am working in front of an existing keyboard tray, I’ve found that one workaround is to over-rotate the arm slightly, and support the mousepad on the edge of the tray. I then counter-rotate the keyboard on the arm to compensate.

My only other advice is to pay attention to how you are routing your keyboard and mouse cables. Mine come in from the side and unless I am careful they will snag the various parts of the arm when I swing it into position.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE October, 2011: About four months ago I swapped out my wired keyboard & mouse for a wireless one. The wireless signal gets attenuated by the back of the tray. Pulling the keyboard away from the back an inch or so helps. Resting it on top of a keyboard box (or Amazon equivalent) helps even more.

I still like it.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATED UPDATE February, 2013: Still going strong after almost three years. In addition to the attenuation problem, I found the monitor setup was sometimes blocking the signal. I finally velcro’d the keyboard/mouse sensor to the top of the arm. It’s a little tricky because the armtop isn’t flat, but once the stickyback took hold it worked fine. The other thing I did was get a slab of 1″ styrofoam and cut it to the exact shape needed to hold the keyboard. The box was a little too high and a little too deep.

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010

From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 4 Episode 8

Dean Gerhardt: And that’s why it’s appropriate that the ground-breaking for the UC Sunnydale cultural partnership center is taking place so soon before Thanksgiving. Because that’s what the melting pot is about– Contributions from all cultures, making our culture stronger…

WILLOW: What a load of horse hooey.

BUFFY: We have a counterpoint?

WILLOW: Yeah. Thanksgiving isn’t about blending of 2 cultures. It’s about one culture wiping out another. And then they make animated specials about the part where, with the maize and the big, big belt buckles. They don’t show you the next scene, where all the bison die and Squanto takes a musket ball in the stomach.

BUFFY: Ok. Now, for some of that, you were channeling your mother?

WILLOW: Well, yeah, sort of. That’s why she doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus Day– You know, the destruction of the indigenous peoples. I know it sounds a little overwrought, but really, she’s…She’s right.

BUFFY: Yeah. I guess I never really thought about it that way. With mom at aunt Darlene’s this year, I’m not getting a Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s just as well.

ANYA: Well, I think that’s a shame. I love a ritual sacrifice.

BUFFY: It’s not really a one of those.

ANYA: To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It’s a ritual sacrifice, with pie.

Blue Moon Tonight

November 21, 2010

Or not. Depending on which rule you use. You see, according to the latest reinterpretation, most seasons have only three full moons (early, mid, and late). This will be the third full moon of four this Autumn, and so is called a ‘blue moon’ so that the fourth and last full moon of Autumn this year (which beats Winter in the door by 15 hours) can still be called the Late Autumn Moon.

So far, all the sources and commentaries appear to be based on 20th Century US sources (yes, they claim ancient monastic traditions, but, as the reporters for the Anlgo-Saxon Chronicle used to say: Vellum, or it never happened).

My Grandmother’s Turkey Stuffing

November 20, 2010

This is a potato stuffing recipe that’s close to 100 years old. It’s from my Irish grandmother, but it’s not Irish, because there’s not that many turkeys in Ireland (I think the snakes got them). Probably it’s from the Pennsylvania Dutch around Philadelphia, where she lived at the start of the last century. I haven’t found this recipe online, but the one or two that were similar were from that area. We always had it when we went to the grandparents house for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. She included bird-stuffing directions, but I agree with Alton Brown, that stuffing is teh evil, so we put this in a dish and cook in the oven.*

The Recipe

    Inputs

    Giblets from a 12-15lb turkey (All measurements are ‘about’ – after the first time, you will know how to adjust)

    6-8 potatoes, peeled and quartered

    8-10 slices of stale white bread (she’d always lay them out in rows on the big kitchen table the night before).

    1 large or 2 small onions

    1 Tbsp Poultry Seasoning

    Salt and pepper IAW your cardiologists instructions.

    Process

    Wash and cook heart, gizzard, liver, and neck in water to cover. When cooked, remove meat from water, set aside. Save the water for the next step.

    Cook potatoes in same water as the meat. There should be very little water left after the cooking. Mash in the water, and set aside.

    In a hand grinder, grind the meat, bread, and onions into a bowl. Season. Mix in the potatoes.

    Put in a greased dish, cover, and cook at about 325F for about 30minutes. The only thing that needs cooking here is the onions, so it’s more like giving the flavors time to get comfortable with each other.

    Outputs

    A good combo-replacement for standard mashed potatoes and stuffing. Goes extremely well with gravey made from the stuff that leaks off the bird into the pan.

    It also makes some very good leftovers, suitable for sandwiches.

Afternote

You could try different herb and ingredient combinations – sage, oregano, celery. We have tried adding celery to this mix, and it isn’t bad, but it totally changes the flavor. You could also substitute something more wholesome than white bread, but that would change the character, and what we’re after here is a grandmother’s-stuffing-experience, not a health trip. Thanksgiving isn’t about health, it’s about eating to the point that surface tension becomes an issue.

When I was living in the dorm, I tried to make a field expedient version in my microwave, with instant mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs, and turkey broth. It never quite worked out.


*You could also, IAW more recent AB instructions, take the stuffing from the oven while hot and pack it into the turkey. That way it doesn’t have to be heated by the bird. Or just pour some pan juice over it when the turkey is done.

God hates shrimp – part 2

November 10, 2010

Last week, inspired by this shrimp tale, we talked about scientific theories (AKA models that explain observations) and showed how Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, updated via DNA, is a good description of what we see today, and a good enough predictor to use for commercial products that make money, today. What about the past? Is there anything that could disprove the Theory of Evolution as a descriptor of the ancient past? What would it take? Well, based on what we’ve said so far, you’d have to show that its predictions were wrong, or that it contained an irreconcilable internal contradiction, or that your model was better. More to the point, since modern day evolution theory (currently) passes all the tests, you have to show that when it is applied to the past it creates incorrect predictions or logical inconsistencies, or that there is a better model. (more…)

God Hates Shrimp – Part 1

November 3, 2010

This article in Science Daily got me to thinking about evolution and science.

A while back, when I was talking to a colleague about science, she asked what proof scientists would need to disprove evolution. I glibly said “but we know it works”. Which is a cop-out. Let me make another attempt.

First, let me repeat what I’ve said elsewhere about the language of science. To a civilian, the word “theory” means “a hunch”, but to a scientist it means “a model for explaining observed phenomena”. You can’t prove a theory. All you can do is disprove it. (more…)

Wednesday Wii – Real Men Don’t Wii 2

November 3, 2010

As I said the last Wednesday I had time to write on this, too many Wii folk try to push their bodies beyond their design limits. I’ve been known to do this myself. When the nice young girl in spandex says, during the Half-Moon Pose, “don’t push yourself too far”, my automatic response is to push. Fortunately, the Half-Moon doesn’t offer the kind of leverage needed to pop a new xylophone out my side.

What I’ve found — this works for me, it may not for you — is that I have a small range, maybe 10% of the total, between when I feel my body start to offer resistance and when I am pretty sure my medical insurer would agree that I shouldn’t go any farther. When I hit that point, I cheat. In the Gate Pose, for example, I’m supposed to keep my forward leg straight and tilt at the waist until 60% of my weight is on the Wii board. If I did that, I’d be wearing my external obliques like a new fashion accessory. Instead, what I do is this. I play the game, and lean towards that leg in the approved fashion, until I can feel my side muscles tighten. Then (and this is the cheating part), I bend my forward knee to move my weight forward. Just as the little musical tone changes, to tell me I’m getting close to the target spot, I stop bending my knee, and let that last 10% of stretch carry me into the correct zone.

The key is that I only cheat enough to get out of the waltz zone and into the zone where the system can measure my incremental success. I have complained before about the Wii’s refusal to grant partial credit when I’m really bad at something. How can I know if I’m improving if it won’t measure what I’m doing now? In addition, it’s silly to cheat for the sake of cheating — when I’m doing the single leg test I could hang on to a chair with both hands and get a dead straight line, but what would that tell me? The assumption is that as my flexibility improves I will have to cheat less and less. Remember, the only person I’m cheating is me.