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Ashton receives his mission call

categories: /family
posted on Wed, 30 Apr 2014 at 21:08 | permanent link | view comments

Published again

Nothing short of total Perl.com domination!

Here’s the direct link for when the main page is updated again.

categories: /tech/perl, /writing, /work
posted on Tue, 13 Dec 2011 at 13:38 | permanent link | view comments

About Penny

Penny is our 7 month old shih-tzu (here she is with Brooke):

Brooke and Penny

Penny has a nose for beef:

Penny lets you know when she doesn’t want to be moved:

Penny sleeps on her back and snores like a trucker:

categories: /family, /personal, /movies, /photo
posted on Sun, 30 Oct 2011 at 22:37 | permanent link | view comments

The bane of every washing machine

Girls. Specifically, girl things. More specifically, girls’ hair things.

The latest mechanical failure in our life occurred last week on Wednesday when the washing machine, which had been making rattling noises for a while, simply stopped draining.

Previous recent mechanical failures include:

washing machine bane

The silver chain you see in the picture was wrapped around the pump spindle. The bobby and straight pins were lodged in the impeller. Total time for repair: 3 hours. Quality time spent with my sons in learning new skills and, ahem, interesting conversation: priceless.

Love you, gals!

categories: /learning, /personal, /family
posted on Sun, 09 Oct 2011 at 22:08 | permanent link | view comments


I made the cover of Perl.com!

Here’s the direct link for when the main page is updated again.

Thanks chromatic!

categories: /tech/perl, /work, /writing
posted on Fri, 23 Sep 2011 at 12:02 | permanent link | view comments

Email win

I made myself a rule for email a couple of weeks ago:

The inbox will be smaller each time I check my mail.

I eventually agreed that the rule doesn’t apply when I’m sending a new message out; this keeps my workflow productive and simple. I’m checking email less often and my inbox is now at 16 messages. Win.

I’m not at rock bottom, because a few of the messages are important but hard to move (things that will take concerted effort over time to finish), but I’ll get there eventually.

categories: /wisdom, /learning, /economics, /smarts, /tech, /work
posted on Fri, 23 Sep 2011 at 11:58 | permanent link | view comments

Email: so far so good

On Tuesday when I started this little experiment, I had 359 messages in my inbox. This morning I have 45. I’m calling that a ‘win’.

I have, with one or two exceptions, made sure that each time I checked my mail that there was at least one fewer message in the inbox than before I checked it.

The messages left in my inbox are mostly reminders of important (but non-urgent) things I need to do. I’ll find another way to deal with those in the next few days.

I did make myself an exception that if I was sending a message, that I didn’t have to shrink the inbox. That helped me stay productive with my work.

Have I checked my email less? It could be that I’m just hyped up on the idea of a small inbox and eager to file away my messages. Here are the numbers:

A little better… but that still looks like the pattern of an email-checking addict to me. Maybe once my inbox gets small enough (I’m shooting for zero… or smaller!) I can deal with the craving better.

categories: /smarts, /learning, /tech, /economics, /wisdom
posted on Fri, 09 Sep 2011 at 08:04 | permanent link | view comments

Managing email

Email is a problem for me: I check it too often and do too little about it when I check it, making for an unwieldy inbox. I think I’ve come up with a simple rule (it’s been working for me so far) that will help me beat my inbox:

The inbox will be smaller each time I check my mail.

This rule has two desirable economic properties:

I’ll let you know how it’s going next week.

categories: /smarts, /learning, /work, /economics
posted on Tue, 06 Sep 2011 at 10:52 | permanent link | view comments

Wattvision setup

I broke down and ordered a Wattvision device a couple of weeks ago. Here is my setup experience.

Box arrives

Wattvision box


Wattvision unboxing

I followed the setup instructions, but for some (bizarre, unknown) reason my MacBook Pro (June 2010) refused to connect to the Gateway’s (the little deck-of-cards-sized device is called the Gateway) IP 169.254 IP address under any network configuration or any browser. I used another web browser on another computer and finished the setup that way.

I should mention that I emailed Wattvision when I couldn’t connect. I received an email response within minutes telling me to call the support number. I did, and Savraj walked me through some things. He took my word that I really couldn’t connect. After going through everything both of us could think of, he promptly offered to send me a new Gateway at no charge. I agreed, but thought I’d try the configuration with another web browser first, which worked (so I called him back and told him not to worry about the new Gateway). +1 for great support.

Now with it working, here’s how I actually installed it. First I “repurposed” my phone utility box (I use a VOIP phone now):

phone utility box

Inside the utility box was a CAT-5 cable going into my house. This meant a lot to me: I didn’t want to drill any new holes in my exterior wall or fish a phone line through a finished basement ceiling. I grabbed my punchdown tool and wired up an Ethernet jack:

Ethernet jack

Ethernet jack

I tucked the cables behind the phone test ports for tidiness:

tidy cables

Here is the entire exterior setup. You can see the Wattvision sensor strapped to the power meter. To the left of the meter you can see the white phone cable, which emerges below and goes into the phone utility box:

Exterior setup

Next, I found where the CAT-5 cable comes into the 66-block in my basement. I added another Ethernet jack (all standard Ethernet wiring):

Interior cabling

I plugged in a standard phone cable into this jack and to the Wattvision Gateway, the supplied power to the Gateway. The lights flickered for a second then went dark. Gasp! Did I kill the Gateway? No, it does it again when I remove and add power. Hm…

I looked at the ends of the phone cable:

straight through phone plugs

Ah! Phone cabling is straight through. I wired the CAT-5 cable as Ethernet, so that means I need to reverse the wires in the phone cable:

crossover phone plugs

Plug it in and voilà.

finished setup

categories: /energy, /tech
posted on Thu, 24 Mar 2011 at 19:03 | permanent link | view comments

Joseph’s vs. Taylor’s Biscuits

Our family took Heirloom Restaurant Group’s great biscuit showdown challenge. Here’s the summary (tl;dr at the bottom):

Taylor's biscuits

Mixing ease

Taylor’s biscuits were easier to make: dropping vs. rolling and a higher oven temperature made for quicker to make and quicker to cook biscuits. I think Taylor’s biscuits came out 10 minutes earlier than Joseph’s.

Joseph's biscuit


Joseph’s biscuits had a flakier and slightly more buttery texture. At the 10 minute mark on Taylor’s biscuits, I could see the butter bubbling at the bottom of the biscuits, some of which eventually soaked in. Joseph’s biscuits cooked more evenly but required rolling and cutting.

Taylor's biscuits before cooking


Some differences: we opted for buttermilk for Taylor’s recipe and heavy cream for Joseph’s recipe. The difference was plain to taste. Joseph’s biscuits tasted familiar to me and were comfortable to eat. Ana thought Taylor’s biscuits had superior flavor, but then admitted that she liked the texture of Joseph’s biscuits and preferred eating them.

Joseph's biscuits before cooking

A funny thing

Ana followed Joseph’s recipe and I followed Taylor’s; each of us liked the other’s biscuits better. Our children showed the opposite pattern: the two oldest (who express more of my genes) preferred Taylor’s and the two youngest (who express more of Ana’s genes) preferred Joseph’s biscuits.

Taylor texture


Some things we probably didn’t get right: Ana cut the butter a little too much and possibly let the dough warm up too much: the result was that Joseph’s biscuits raised fine but then fell slightly. For my part, I’m not handy in the kitchen. I noticed I could have folded the buttermilk a touch more (there was some unmixed flour on top of some of the biscuits) and maybe been more careful sizing the drops (my biscuits were of all shapes and sizes).

Joseph texture

Things to try

Ana thinks she’d like to try Taylor’s recipe using Joseph’s method (rolling and cutting).

Taylor vs. Joseph


Our family was split evenly between the two, but because this is my blog, I’m giving Joseph’s biscuits the edge. If Ana cooks up Taylor’s recipe with Joseph’s method, I’ll update this entry.

Joseph's biscuits slightly ahead of Taylor's

categories: /food & dining, /photo
posted on Sun, 06 Feb 2011 at 20:48 | permanent link | view comments

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