22 Jul 2008

Thanks, google

If you google for tub spout "nipple came out", you get exactly two links on completely different topics which, in retrospect, I should have seen coming:

  • Plumbing Basics - Google Books Result
  • iParenting.com - preconception, pregnancy, baby names, newborns ...
Er, thanks, google.

"Good ol' C++. It will happily let you shoot your foot off. It might alert you if your sight is misaligned." --Kevin Colby

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

18 Jul 2008

A win and a loss

About a year ago, chain coffee shop Starbucks built a store in Galesburg, already home to two coffee shops and a coffee kiosk, all independent. One of them will be closing soon...

...the Starbucks!

Though I'm hardly happy to see any Galesburg business closing, I confess that it's a little gratifying that if the town's not big enough for four coffee shops, it's the indies squeezing out the chain rather than the other way round....

"Look, I know it's embarrassing and it makes you feel kind of silly. I understand. But you should never make someone feel bad for liking you. It's a compliment. It means she thinks you're a good guy. Don't make her feel like she's wrong about that. It doesn't mean you have to like her, it doesn't mean you have to play with her, it doesn't mean she has to be your girlfriend. The only thing you're obligated to do is to say, 'Thank you.' Nothing else. Okay?" --Leigh Anne Wilson

Posted by blahedo at 2:56am | Comments (2)

16 Jul 2008

It begins...

Schematic of my bathroom wall designI just placed an order for part #1 of my bathroom renovation. It is a ceiling. Specifically, it is this classic ceiling in tin-plated steel, which will be painted white. As will be this similarly classic cornice moulding (#C3). The white of the ceiling will be contrasted with cobalt-blue paint in faux as seen at right—the stripes will come from having different gloss levels in the paint. The image is a to-scale elevation of the room (thumb is 10px/3in, click for a 10px/in version) showing the relation of the cornice moulding, the paint, and the wall tile—arctic white subway, field, and chair rail tile and cobalt blue field, cove, and liner tile from Daltile, to be ordered tomorrow.

Hopefully, my floor patternThe floor will be hex tile, a plain 1" unglazed white hexagonal either from American Olean or Daltile, depending on which is a better colour match. Unfortunately, neither brand, nor any other I can find anywhere, has 1" cobalt hex tile (or even 1-1/4" or 2" cobalt hex tile) other than as part of a super-custom super-expensive thing. Unfortunate, because I really wanted the floor to have cobalt dots (as at left, same scale as the wall, click for same zoom). I've found some 7/8" cobalt hex, which might work; I put in a small order and will check fit and match before I order enough to do the whole floor. If that doesn't work, I'll give up and just make the whole floor white hex, which isn't the end of the world either. (It just dates the floor a little earlier than the wall, and I'm not a compulsive anachronist. :)

Thus completes the plan for the shell of the room. The plan for the major furnishings is roughed out but not yet final: the tub I'm keeping, of course. 4-1/2' clawfoot tubs are hard enough to come by, and I quite like it; and I'm almost 100% certain it dates to when the house was built (1906). Can't get more authentic than that. :) I will, however, scrape the flaking enamel off the outside while it's out, brush the rust, and paint/enamel it—my current plan is for cobalt blue for the basin and white for the feet. The pedestal sink I kind of like and might also be authentic; its placement relative to the pipes, the door, and the mirror gives me some doubt of that, however. It does have a bunch of rust and cracked enamel, though. And the kicker is that it is 23" wide, while the maximum width that can be centred on the mirror without blocking the door is 21". So right now I'm thinking it goes, probably to be replaced with another similar one. I'll keep the faucet hardware that I installed in 2005, though, which I picked out with an eye to this eventual project.

The crown jewel of the bathroom, I'm imagining, will be the toilet. The current one is nothing special, and the hardware in the tank is rusted out and broken, plus the thing is not plumbed to be low-flow. So it goes. To be replaced with a raised-tank model. The cistern will be white ceramic if I can find it, a high contrast with the cobalt-blue wall it'll be mounted on; the bowl itself, separate from its tank, can then be mounted diagonally, which aside from looking nifty will solve two other problems with the bathroom: right now your knee and leg bang into the tub, and there's no place in reach of the toilet to mount a toilet-paper dispenser. (Right now I have a floor stand. :P) Still shopping for this piece.

In the distant future, I'll be thinking about the little accessories, too, like shelves and TP holders and soap dishes and towel hampers and wall sconces, but I'm not even worrying about that until at least the shell is done. :)

For the reference of anyone else who is pulling their hair out trying to find hex tile and/or cobalt blue ceramic wall or floor tile—which is harder than it sounds!—I'm posting the following list of sites I pulled together. CAVEAT EMPTOR: I have NO IDEA what the quality of any of these are and am not associated with any of them. Best of luck, though. :)

Cobalt tile:

  • Mosaic Basics of Georgia has loose hex tile, including in cobalt. It is 7/8" side to side and 1" point to point (I emailed the owner and verified this).
  • AUC of California has so-called 1" blue cobalt hexagons (glazed), but they are 7/8" side-to-side; AUC also has cobalt field tile in 2x2 and 4x4 "Brittany" and rope and liner tile "Border", as well as assorted arts-and-crafts painted and encaustic borders that involve a lot of cobalt.
  • North Prairie Tileworks of Minnesota has cobalt trim and accent tiles (chair rail, cove) as well as square field tiles.
  • Restoration tile of Arkansas has a variety of patterns including hex, and does custom layouts, with cobalt as one available colour.
  • Classic Tile of New York has, afaict, just this one cobalt hex mosaic. I called and they "thought" it was 3/4" tile and didn't remember the brand.
  • Home Depot has at least one line of blue cobalt hexagon tile, nominally 3/4".
  • As mentioned above, Daltile has cobalt blue in two lines, Semi-gloss which has field tiles and a lot of edging and coving tiles, and Liners, which has flat-line and rope tile (note that the chair rail does not come in cobalt. :( )

Mesh-mounted 1" hex (no cobalt here afaik):

  • Subway Tile of Wisconsin does black and white floor hex (as well as, obviously, subway tile for the wall ;).
  • AUC of California does have a 1" unglazed white (or black) hex, but it is not the same 1" size as its 1" cobalt blue hex listed above—that one is 1" point to point (hence 7/8" side to side) while these are 1" side to side (hence 1-1/8" point to point). Frustrating, although at least they warn you with a diagram giving precise dimensions. Most vendors just give you the nominal size and leave you to guess or hope if you want to mix and match....
  • American Olean includes hex (in multiple sizes) in its unglazed mosaic series, but it also has a pre-mixed black and white hex in its Satinglo line.
  • Daltile's Keystone series includes unglazed 1" hex. (Larger hex is in Keystone Shapes, don't ask me why.)

"Two Cheers for the ACLU! I keep sending them money because they stand up for my values even in cases when I wouldn't." --Austin Mayor

Posted by blahedo at 2:24am | Comments (12)

15 Jul 2008

Well, *someone* must know

The soda machine in the SMC loading dock has been a bit of a bête noire for me over the last few years, because once it has taken your money there is no way to get the money back, even if it is sold out of whatever you wanted—and there are no individual "sold out" lights. When I've complained about this broken behaviour, I've been told that it is unchangeable and that's just how the machine works. Stuff like that is ten times more infuriating for CS folks, who know perfectly well that it's just a matter of rewriting a program somewhere, but there's no getting through the bureaucracy.

At least, though, there was an out: if I remembered to do it, I could press the button before putting my money in, and it would flash the machine's single "sold out" light, and I'd know not to buy anything. This isn't enough to solve the problem (since you still have to remember to do it) but it's something. Unfortunately, even that is broken now; if you press the button of a sold-out item it'll just flash the price that the item would be if it had any.


So I called the extension listed on a sheet taped to the machine—which connects to Facilities—for if you have any problems. As I've done before, to little effect (other than, at least, getting the machine restocked). This time, though, they said that vending isn't their thing—with a slight tone of "why would you be calling us?" So I'm not sure how long it hasn't been their thing, but the sign is certainly still up there (and it used to be their thing). They transferred me to Dining Services.

I explain that I'm just reporting a soda machine that's out of an item, and whoever's on the other end says, "Hm, I'll transfer you to Helmut, then." That's our Director of Dining Services. I know it can't be him personally overseeing campus vending, but fine. He picks up and I explain why I'm calling and ask if he's the person in charge of vending.

"No, not really, but I can pass it along."

Huh. Well, I give him the info about the machine, and then I ask who is in charge of vending. For future reference.

"I'm not really sure. Nobody seems to know who's in charge of that."

He's being pretty good-natured about it and sounds almost as exasperated as I feel about this, so I don't press the issue of the broken keep-your-dollar behaviour of the soda machine, but really? I'm totally baffled about this. Facilities says Dining Services is in charge of vending now, but Dining Services says they aren't and doesn't know who is. Despite, apparently, trying to find out. Someone must know! Knox isn't nearly big enough to have this level of bureaucratic disconnect.

"But you don't expect all television to be great do you? How would you choose what to watch, or get anything done? I submit that the mediocre taste of the American viewer is a good thing for you." --Aaron Hanford

Posted by blahedo at 3:45pm | Comments (2)

12 Jul 2008

I resemble a teenage vandal

I just got back from the office, and as I was walking past First Congregational, a cop car pulled up at the curb (from the wrong direction), and two cops got out and stopped me. Again. This was the third time in about a week and a half, and this time I got the actual reason the cops keep stopping me and wanting to search my bag (beyond the ever-vague "you match the description of a suspect").

For the last few weeks, Galesburg has fallen victim to a number of graffitists. They aren't even the good kind, the graffiti artists that (to my eye) enhance the urban landscape; they're just tagging with the initials of their various groups. A couple of them got caught just a couple days ago, but police have been patrolling more for a while now.

And I never connected my being stopped to the string of taggings, but tonight's cop told me that one of the suspects is a white kid with long-for-a-guy brown hair, who carries the spray paint in a sling backpack. My satchel is easily mistaken for a sling, apparently, and I for a teenager. I'm sure my tendency to be walking home at 2:30 in the morning doesn't help, but one of the other times I was stopped (also outside First Congregational—across from the police station, so the message to the vandals might be, avoid the police station) it was in broad daylight.

And although it's irritating and I'll certainly keep complaining about it, I can't even get my knickers all in a Constitutional twist because (well, according to them, but it's plausible) they really do have probable cause to keep searching me. Sigh.

UPDATE: No, they really don't. Further investigating my rights in this (thanks ACLU!) indicate that unless they are specifically detaining me, I can just leave; and in any case they still need a warrant to search my bag, which probably means they'd have to arrest me first. Which they won't do; what are they going to say, "he had long hair and was carrying a bag!"? Well, maybe they'd try. Still, I'm a little tired of being stopped and searched; next time I'm going to force the issue by at least refusing consent on the search.

"The web designers are discovering what the Jews of Mea Shearim have known for decades: just because you all agree to follow one book doesn't ensure compatibility, because the laws are so complex and complicated and convoluted that it's almost impossible to understand them all well enough to avoid traps and landmines, and you're safer just asking for the fruit plate." --Joel Spolsky

Posted by blahedo at 3:06am | Comments (1)

10 Jul 2008

Less-bad cigarettes not really less bad; film at 11

I just read a news article about the FTC rethinking its nicotine regulation policy: "FTC considers backing off nicotine guidance". The gist of it is that the 'standard smoke' that their machine gives a cigarette to test its tar and nicotine output is unrealistic, because real smokers "often alter their behavior" and tend to compensate for low yield by dragging harder and taking deeper breaths.

Which is what my mom has been saying for years, with respect to filters anyway. I was pretty amused.

"The Jews got stone tablets and the Mormons arranged for an angel to bring them their holy text, but ours was hammered out through a long contentious political process, sort of like the tax code, and that's something you don't care to know more about." --Garrison Keillor

Posted by blahedo at 1:20pm | Comments (0)

8 Jul 2008

Women bishops in the C of E

The Church of England's General Synod has just voted to eventually permit the ordination of women to the episcopacy, including separate majorities among the bishops, the clergy, and the laity (BBC article). This move has been a long time coming; the US Episcopal Church has been doing so for about twenty years, and its Presiding Bishop is currently female. The C of E has been ordaining female priests since the early 90s. Other Anglican churches either ordain no women at all, or only as priests, or permit full ordination of women; the variability in policy worldwide has caused considerable tension within the Anglican Communion.

Chris blogged about this, and his main worry is that the concomitant "code of practice" would essentially make the female bishops into second-tier bishops. I'm mostly responding to that here, though I may write more later.

The BBC says this in its article:

"However, it will not include safeguards demanded by traditionalists, such as allowing male "super-bishops" to cater for those opposing the change."

So whatever the code of practice involves, they won't have to deal with flying bishops. Ideally, the code will somehow (I don't know how!) involve pastoral encouragement to bring round the people who "can't" be ministered to by women.

There is to some extent a legitimate pastoral concern, one that I've seen in other contexts in the RCC, where cradle Catholics find that they can't deal with any RCC ministry, even priests and lay ministers that had nothing to do with the scandal. Their pastoral needs are not being met by the RCC, and they have to turn elsewhere. It's certainly not the fault of the person, and it might not really be the fault of the priests and ministers in their parish either, but they can't just be thrown under the bus and glibly say they have to deal with it. In the case of the WO-resistant Anglicans, you might argue that it is their problem, but I'm not totally sure it's their "fault"; if they really can't have their needs met, I'd rather see them shepherded forward rather than rejected outright.

And a lot depends on how the codes are written, too. It would be absolutely detrimental to the entire organisation if the women were dinged as not as good as the men in any way. However, if it's written with the understanding that sometimes the relationship just isn't working, and that any provisions are in the clear spirit of working around a dysfunctional relationship rather than a deficient priest or bishop, I think it's at least possible that they could be made to work. I wonder if they could write the rules gender-neutrally, i.e. that people could receive some ministerial attention from outside their parish or diocese for reasons other than WO-objection? That could be a can of worms, and potentially very divisive if mishandled, but potentially very healthy, maybe.

And as long as the children are brought up to not have sexist ideas about who can and can't be a bishop, this is a problem with a definite end in sight: slowly, but surely, the traditionists will pass away. Perhaps the code of practice could require that Sunday schools positively affirm the theology that women can be bishops? And that sacraments of initiation (adult baptism, first communion, confirmation—do Anglicans do confirmation?) be performed by priests and bishops who acknowledge the ok-ness of women priests and bishops?

"We will not fear any longer. We will not fear the international terrorists; we will thwart them. We will not fear the recognition of the manipulation of our yearning for safety; we will call that what it is: terrorism. We will not fear identifying the vulgar hypocrites in our government; we will name them. And we will not fear George W. Bush, nor will we fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear." --Keith Olbermann

Posted by blahedo at 2:48pm | Comments (2)