Feb 24

Cold turkey

Tomorrow is moving day. The IBM site where I work in Raleigh is being closed, and everyone here is moving to the main site out at Research Triangle Park. Preparing for the move is no big deal for me; I’ve only been here for two years, so I haven’t accumulated very much stuff. And I have almost no paper files, just half a drawer full. I think I can fit everything I have, apart from my computer, into a single moving box. We’re getting all new office furniture at our new location, so we don’t have to move any of that stuff. This should be effortless.
But not painless. I’m currently going through caffeine withdrawal. Until now, we’ve had voluntary “coffee clubs” operating in all three buildings at this site. You can either pay by the cup or pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited coffee (which is what I did). But in preparation for the move, the existing coffee clubs have shut down. At first, this was a good thing; the coffee in my club has been free as the club used up its remaining stocks of coffee grounds, creamer, sweeteners, and other supplies.
About a week ago, the regular coffee ran out. There’s still some decaf left, but man cannot live on decaf alone. So now I’m stumbling through my day with an empty mug, trying to keep my eyes open. It’s rough. By a strange coincidence, comic strip character Brent Sienna (he’s the one drinking directly from the coffeepot) is going through the same thing.
We do have a coffee vending machine, but if I’m going to get my caffeine fix from a machine, I’ll just buy a Dr. Pepper or a Mountain Dew. Except that I can’t! The drink machines take dollar bills, but all I have is a five-dollar bill, which is useless! I’m going to have to go to the convenience store that’s diagonally across the intersection from here, which means going outside and waiting in the rain for the crossing signal to change. Twice. And then twice more on my way back! Aaarrgghh!!! Okay, gotta calm down. Deep breaths.
We start work at our new offices on Monday, at which point I’ll have access to coffee again. I’m not sure I’m going to make it.
UPDATE: Another strange coincidence. As I was standing on the street corner waiting to cross, a Toyota Sienna drove by right in front of me.
FURTHER UPDATE: About an hour after I posted this, the coffee maker on my floor was dismantled, packed up, and taken away. So now I can’t even have decaf any more. KHAAAN!!!

Feb 22

Clean and dry

My family is still using the original clothes washer that we bought in 1986, but we’re on our third clothes dryer. So I was delighted to stumble across this simple tip for extending (and perhaps doubling) the life of a dryer. Excerpt:

Just removing the lint from the filter isn’t always enough — the fine mesh of most dryer filters can be clogged in ways that aren’t obvious at a casual glance. As suggested by the piece quoted above, softener sheets can cause waxy build-ups on lint screens that require a little extra effort — usually no more than a quick scrub and rinse in warm, soapy water — to remove.

Thanks to Gerard Van Der Leun for pointing this one out.

Feb 21

Taming the beast

Virgil isn’t the only one trying to tame the e-mail beast. 43 Folders recently posted a list of five e-mail productivity tips. One of them is to stop trying to make e-mails into literary masterpieces, and instead just bang out something that gets the message across. That’s definitely advice I need to hear. I know perfectionism is a debilitating disease, but I never expected to find it lurking in my in-box.

Feb 21

The ultimate Palm

The PalmPilot and its descendants have been around for almost a decade, but some people still aren’t convinced that they need one. Now there’s a Palm that will overcome their objections. The PaperPalm costs only five dollars, doesn’t require batteries, and can be dropped on a hard floor without breaking. There’s no software to install, and no learning curve. You don’t even need to use Graffiti — it can process your natural handwriting without error. But you may have to sharpen the stylus first.

Feb 20

FridayQ: Distance

In the past, I have sometimes used the Friday Five to break the logjam when I was having trouble motivating myself to post something to this blog. Friday Five, if you don’t remember, was a website that posted a set of five questions — usually all related to a single topic — for people to answer on their blogs. But the person who ran Friday Five shut it down last year. However, bloggers who found the site useful have refused to let the idea die, and one of them has created FridayQ to fill the void.
This week’s FridayQ questions are about distance. And yes, I know I was supposed to answer them on Friday. Do you want a blog post or don’t you?
FQ1: What’s the furthest north you’ve been on this world? What were you doing there? Glens Falls, New York, where I visited a longtime penpal in 1977.
FQ2: What’s the furthest south you’ve been on this world? What were you doing there? Florida. I visited the Orlando area and Kennedy Space Center in 1976.
FQ3: Where were you born, and what’s the furthest you’ve been from that spot? I was born in Thibodaux, Louisiana. I guess Glens Falls is the farthest from there that I have ever traveled.
FQ AWAY: Name a blog you read that’s the most distant from you… whether it be emotionally, culturally, religiously, or by physical location. Gauging emotional, cultural, or religious difference sounds too hard, so I’m going to stick with the physical. Of the blogs that I read regularly, the winner has to be Tim Blair‘s. He lives in Australia. It’s hard to get much farther from North Carolina without leaving the surface of the Earth. (If my calculations are correct, my actual antipodal point is in the Indian Ocean some distance west of Australia.)
FridayQ doesn’t ask about east or west, but I’ll answer those anyway. My personal western extreme is Nevada, where my family visited some national parks in 1968. My eastern extreme is Boston, where I attended the 1989 Worldcon.
You may notice that all of the trips I mention here were many years ago; the most recent (to Boston) took place when my son Ben (who will soon turn 16) was an infant. This is not a coincidence. Becoming a parent tends to drastically reduce the amount of time and money that one can devote to travel. That’s not a complaint, just an observation.

Feb 10

The humans are weak

In a comment on Gail’s new blog, Bob wrote: “This often gives me the odd feeling that the grown-up future Laura is watching over my shoulder as I create her memories.” I’m afraid that Bob has not realized the truth about his daughter. That sensation of being watched is a warning from his subconscious mind — a warning that he (and all of humanity) is in terrible danger. As H.G. Wells wrote over a century ago, “minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”

Feb 02


This blog now has its own domain name: logopolis.info. It’s also now maintained using Movable Type, which will enable me to add some features to the site that Blogger did not support. You may notice a few minor glitches at first — embedded images in the archives don’t work yet, and I haven’t figured out how to transfer comments from the old site. I’ll fix these things as soon as I can.

Historical note: The logopolis.info domain only lasted one year, for reasons that I explained elsewhere.