30 Jul 2006

It is finished.

At least, for a relatively narrow definition of "it", which includes the kitchen floor but not the walls, and a relatively broad definition of "finished", which does not require cleanup or threshold strips. But the main thing—fitting and adhering linoleum to a well-seated underlayment, rolling and trimming the edges—that, at last, is done. And with just two mistakes, one definitely fixable. The fixable one is that I cut a small extra notch in one place in the linoleum; but I've read that holes in linoleum are eminently patchable if you have scrap pieces of the original pattern (and boy do I ever). The possibly-not-fixable one is that the linoleum knife slipped and there is now a cut in my recently-polyurethaned floor. It's small, but in a fairly central position; I'm thinking that if I sand it and am very careful I can add an extra coat to just that end of that board, and the boundary between this poly job and the rest of the floor will at least be less obvious than the knife-gouge. We'll see.

"I wish I could just go to Lowe's or Home Depot and explain this and have them load my cart, but my experience there has been about 10% amazingly helpful people and 90% "It's over there *vague hand wave*" when I ask for assistance. I wish the 10% wore different hats or something." --Tori O'Neal

Posted by blahedo at 11:56pm | Comments (2)

It ends tonight

I'm now in possession of a 100lb linoleum roller that has to be back at People's by 8am tomorrow. And away we go....

'Ultimately it comes down to a set of axioms about what is needed for a "just peace." The darker side of Islam says that we need to stone suspected adulteresses, execute converts to other religions and forcibly convert the rest of the world. The darker side of secularism says that we need to purge the culture of all religions that make people worship a God or gods other than the state.' --Mark Hoemmen

Posted by blahedo at 3:12pm | Comments (1)

18 Jul 2006

"No, no, you've got the—oh."

It's still a bit weird to get an email addressed to "Dr. Blaheta". Of course, they're right, and it's even contextually valid (this is the "we received your submission" letter), but my first reaction is still that it's some hilarious spam or form letter.

(Well, it is more or less a form letter, but as I said, valid....)

On wedding receptions: "Is God going to be offended because I didn't spend half a year's salary feeding bland catered food to everyone I ever met once, making them dance to "whomp there it is", and providing them with the means to get trashed?" --Tori Bryan

Posted by blahedo at 9:13am | Comments (0)

17 Jul 2006

Exquisite timing

Staining goes way faster than scraping and sanding, of course. So I was able to do it from start to finish tonight, and then as I tiptoed out via the backdoor (using improvised foot coverings made of clean rags), closed it, and stepped out onto the back porch, there was a huge and very clear bit of lightning. The rain started.

I sprinted around to the front door, and cast about for a big plastic bag. See, I have a fan in the kitchen window, and it really needs to stay there to vent the room of stain fumes, not to mention I'd have to walk over the fresh stain to pull it out anyway. So I grabbed the biggest plastic bag I could find and the key to the basement door, sprinted back, got a ladder out of the basement and some duct tape, and proceeded to tape plastic over the top of the window and the part not covered by the fan (and a flap that the fan can blow the air under, but which protects the rain from going in).

Because, of course, there is absolutely not a single time in this entire process when my kitchen floor would be more vulnerable to even a couple drops of rain splattering in. Argh. I suppose it could be worse—the rain could've come tomorrow while I was away from the house, or while I was still doing the staining. As it happened, there was just a lot of sound and fury and not much rain until after I'd safely packed all the stuff away.

It'll be interesting if this turns into tornado weather; right now the fastest way to my basement would be to grab Nutmeg like a football and make a dash around the side of the house for the basement door....

"The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it." --P. J. O'Rourke

Posted by blahedo at 8:57pm | Comments (0)

Continuing occupation, resistance

Every time I hear about some new awful thing that the Israeli government has perpetrated, I just get more exasperated. I acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and successfully re-convince myself of it every time I find myself in doubt. But they piss away any international goodwill they might have, brush off any attempts to gently remind them what it was like to be on the other side of the ghetto wall, and undermine any Palestinian attempt at legitimacy before it can even get off the ground.

And yet, and yet. As a citizen of a country that has been doing a lot of the same things lately, I am acutely aware that there can be good, reasonable citizens unhappy with the evil acts of the regime that rules them. So it's at least somewhat gratifying to run across an opinion column written by an Israeli Jew in Israel and printed in an Israeli paper that raises all the objections that I myself have felt to the actions of Israel, not just in the last weeks but in my lifetime.

So I wish luck to Gideon Levy and the other Molly Ivinses and Arianna Huffingtons and Koses of Israel, in raising awareness of the issues and bringing their fellow citizens round to the measure of sanity that they clearly so desperately need before their country implodes from the stress. (And likewise to the MIs, AHs, and Ks of the US....)

"Without knowing the IDF strategy it really looks like Israel is ripping the heads of Lebanon's Barbies because Lebanon's cousin took Israel's Tonka truck." --Joe Shidle

Posted by blahedo at 10:36am | Comments (4)

14 Jul 2006


Well, thirty-five pages of love are now winging their way through the ether to the program committee for the paper submission. (That's double-spaced; it'll be about eighteen pages if they publish it.) I didn't get everything done that I wanted to, of course, but then, one never does. In my hasty last readthrough I was generally pretty satisfied with it (especially knowing that if it got accepted I'd have another shot at rewording a couple of awkward places).

And now I have to beat a hasty path out of the building before they cut the power on me. :)

"warning: resume: target already running. Pretend to resume, and hope for the best!" --gdb warning message

Posted by blahedo at 3:47pm | Comments (0)

Hard at work

Deadlines are so exhilarating. I have a paper deadline of the 15th, which is effectively bumped up to 4pm today when they cut power to SMC to install a new HVAC system, since I won't be able to work here after then. I suppose I could edit at home on my laptop, but I'd have no access to my data, so it's pretty dicey.

So here I am, in my office, at 2 in the morning. I've been here mostly nonstop since 9 in the morning (except for a brief trip home to fix dinner and feed the dog), and I'll probably go right through the night. Whee!

"I think men band together for stupidity." --Ranyee
"Well, everyone needs a cause." --Celeste

Posted by blahedo at 1:56am | Comments (0)

10 Jul 2006


My kitchen floor is way smoove now. Sanding done, I'll give it a day for the dust to settle, vacuum again, tack-cloth it, and then I'll be ready to stain. At last.

In other house-related news, I re-screened the swappable screen for the back porch door, and it looks great—better than my hands, which sustained considerable damage in the process. I also installed a drip strip across most of my front porch roof, to patch up the huge gap the marginally competent roofers left between the roof and the soffits that let water in to drain onto my porch. It actually looks pretty good if you don't look too close (aluminum nails bend way too easily, and once they're about halfway in there's no removing them), and I have enough of the things to go all the way round the front porch eventually, but the rest will just be for looks. We'll see how well they function: we have thunderstorms scheduled for tomorrow and the next day, so they should get a workout.

UPDATE: Pouring rain, and my porch is dry as a bone. Success!

"Please stop seeing everything I do or say as part of some bid for (higher office in) 2008. What I said needed to be said and it wasn't part of any plan or any campaign. It was part of what I'm supposed to do as a senator." --Barack Obama

Posted by blahedo at 11:38pm | Comments (0)

6 Jul 2006

Cheapness is counterproductive

Sometimes, at least. Tonight I set in for a long run of kitchen floor sanding, and right away thought to reverse the direction of the belt; one side was clearly more worn than the other, and I figured the embedded "sand" might have a sharper grit in the other direction. Not five minutes in, the sanding belt broke. A fortuitous occurrence, though it didn't seem so at the time: it was 8:45.

The reason that is significant is that Lowe's closes at 9. In other circumstances I'd just take it as a sign to quit for the night, but all set to work on this, now, and I didn't want to, er, lose my groove. (This is a theme in my life, you'll notice.) So I fly through the house, change out of my work shorts—not to become more presentable, but because my keys and wallet were in the other shorts and it was faster that way—and out to my car. May possibly have broken the speed limit. Got to Lowe's at 8:51, raced in...

...and found out that there were more "standard" belt sizes than I'd thought. I'd figured that the standards would be far enough apart I'd be able to tell which size I needed on sight. Having gotten this far, I certainly wasn't about to go home empty-handed. So although I thought that probably the 21" belt would be the right one, I (with some embarrassment) carried the 3x21 as well as the 3x18 and 3x24 belts up to the checkout. Thank goodness for lax return policies. :)

Upon my return, the fortuitousness: boy howdy does the sanding ever go quicker with a fresh belt. Why had I put off getting a new one? They're only five bucks a pair. I immediately flew through several segments of floor. Some of the parts I'd already done, but were still a bit blotchy, are a lot cleaner now. (I had thought the blotchiness was from age-old water staining; the water stains are still there, but much fainter and much much more even.) At one point while taking a break I was able to look at the floor and see that for sure and without a doubt I was well over half done, closer to two-thirds. When you actually pass the halfway point, it's sometimes hard to tell, and you're never quite sure if your optimism is letting you delude yourself. But get far enough past, and you can be positive. It's a real pick-me-up.

And then about a half an hour ago, this belt broke. Lengthwise. My belt sander now has a half-width belt on it. I suppose it must have caught a splinter just the wrong way, because although the grit was not quite at its original formidable strength, it still had a lot in it yet. But, having put two hours in, it seemed like a good stopping point. Another night like tonight and I'll have the whole floor sanded and I can move on to bigger, better things, like figuring out how I'm going to stain the floor without painting myself into a corner. :)

"I tend to look for weak, uncertain students and feed off of their insecurities; by preying on their poor self-images, I manage to temporarily assuage my own feelings of inadequacy and failure. I've also found undergraduate advising to be a terrific vehicle for venting a lot of my own pent-up rage and frustration." --Olin Shivers

Posted by blahedo at 11:50pm | Comments (0)

Persian cuneiform -> $$$

I just read an article about an international incident in the making. Here's the executive summary: A few years ago some Americans were killed in a suicide bombing in Israel. The suicide bomber might have been sent by Hamas, who are probably partially funded by Iran, so the survivors sued Iran in an American court for compensation. And won. So then, in order to collect, they found that a priceless collection of Persian cuneiform tablets excavated from ancient Persepolis by University of Chicago researchers—and still housed in the U of C museum—were technically "on loan" from the Iranian government. So they sued to get these assets seized from the U of Chicago, to be auctioned off so they could get their money. They won this, too, and the U of C is understandably having a fit. As, for that matter, is the Iranian government.

It's so wrong on so many levels. Who is this going to hurt? Not the Palestinians. Not Hamas. Not even Iran, really. It hurts the university, and the archaeological community. It really hurts the rest of the country's museums, who will now have a much harder time getting collections on loan. It mostly helps the lawyer who is pushing the suit through, and now Iran will have a very legitimate grievance against the US government.

The rest of the world will just see this as evidence that the US is too full of greedy idiots. And they'll be right.

"So, Middle Eastern men, gang bangers, etc., listen up!  It has been scientifically shown that firing guns into the air for entertainment is not a good idea. Please stop right away. Also knock off with the holy wars and random violence. Thank you." --Cecil Adams

Posted by blahedo at 7:32pm | Comments (0)

5 Jul 2006


So I'll be sitting here working, and get to a sigh-point—that is, not necessarily something where I'd be stuck, but just hard enough or tedious enough to merit a sigh—and before I realise it I'm looking at the other screen and switching to a browser window or a notesfile session. It's really and truly amazing how strong the procrastination instinct can be....

"After this semester, it will all be better." --Joe LaViola

Posted by blahedo at 12:19pm | Comments (1)

3 Jul 2006

Don't follow this link

The groove comes and the groove goes, but life's constant is that someone will post links to addictive timewasters.

On the relationship between the US and Cuba: "First of all, biology works. Someday Castro will be gone." --Madeleine Albright

Posted by blahedo at 3:41pm | Comments (0)