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Does anyone have a bluetooth headset that supports A2DP (playing music, etc) that I could borrow for a week or two?  I can loan out my Jawbone in return.  The connection between it and my phone turns flakey after a few days of listening to music, and I need to test whether the problem is the phone or the headset.  Sadly, Sarah's only supports calls, and so won't be a proper test.
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Since we're getting close to having a new baby in the house, I'd like to request that anyone planning to stop by and see baby Josh please make sure that you've had a Pertussis booster recently enough to still be immune.  It's an epidemic here in CA, and he can't be vaccinated until 6 weeks after birth.  While we're not going to be paranoid enough about it to completely quarantine Josh until then, we would like to minimize possible exposure where we can.  Thanks!
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I’ll preface this with the statement that I don’t think that any belief in religion is necessary to have these values or to believe that helping other people is an important thing to do. This is just where I come from on the topic.

Cut for those not interested in my deep thoughts and religion )
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No - not the holiday decorating type. Since there's a break in the rain at the moment, I took advantage of it to cut the fruit trees in back down to a more manageable size. Hopefully now we'll be able to reach most of the cherry crop with the ladder. I'm a little concerned about the nectarine, as I cut it back drastically, leaving only the new growth from last year. That tree has a serious fungus problem, but the new growth looks good, so hopefully it'll do OK. We'll get a much reduced harvest this year, but if I'd kept the branches as they were, I think at least one would have broken off under the weight of the fruit. And now I've got a backyard covered in tree limbs. I'll probably spend the rest of my winter break cutting them up and sorting them into firewood vs. toss for curbside pickup. And starting spraying for curly leaf - I'd like the nectarine to have some chance of survival.
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So, I posted about Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer when it came out in Hardcover - it seems that there was a problem in the supply chain somewhere, which meant that very few copies actually ended up in stores where people could buy them. This sort of think can kill an author's career - see Dave's post about it here The paperback copy's coming out Dec. 28th - I've got an order in at Avid Reader for a copy to give out as an after-Christmas gift, and plan on ordering at least one more. I highly recommend this book to anyone reading this who likes Fantasy tales, it's a lot of fun, and I'd really like Dave to be able to keep writing, as he's one of the authors I'll buy anything I hear is coming out, knowing I'll like the book. So, if you've got a few bucks to spare and are looking for a book to read, go put in an order, please. If you prefer online to local bookstores, Amazon's got it here:
Edit to add:
Apparently the group that tracks these ratings doesn't sample independent bookstores as well as they do places like Amazon, so Amazon's going to have more impact here - I hate to have to say that, as I prefer the local stores. Still, everything helps.
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So, I just finished a letter to my Congresscritters and the President with my opinion and concerns over the latest TSA screening methods. For anyone who wants to read the whole thing, it's under the cut here. The short form is that I'm concerned over the safety of the X-ray machines and over whether even if they're safe from the manufacturer, they'll be maintained and used in the field in a safe manner. Given that even highly trained medical professionals screw up and injure patients with X-ray machines on rare occasions, I've got little confidence that far less trained security people will do well with them. I'm also offended by the way we've gone to treating anyone who wants to fly as a likely criminal suspect, and think that we've gone well past reasonable security measures.
Here's the letter, feel free to copy parts if you're so inclined.

Letter )
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So, thanks to [ profile] tsgeisel I've been playing a new web-based space empire game called The Lacuna Expanse. So far it's kinda fun - it seems a bit like Master of Orion, but production, building, etc. is real-time based rather than turn based.  I had a detailed post here about my thoughts and progress in the game, but when I went to edit this post to fix the LJ-user tag that I never get right, the dratted client deleted everything after the tag.  So, the summary is that I'm rather enjoying it, and it seems that there'll be a wide range of things to do/playstyles in the universe as it develops.  If you want to play too, here's a referral link:
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So, being unemployed for the last three months has left me with a lot of time on my hands. I've been meaning to post this for about three weeks, but here are photos of the project that has occupied much of that time. In short, I built a bedframe for our 8' diameter cushion we've been using for a bed. For those who don't know, the cushion is this: (link NOT safe for work) Since round beds are expensive to buy a frame, I opted to build one. Because Sarah's often discussed wanting a four-poster, I put four tall posts on a semi-octagonal base. Because I could, I put a set of corner shelves in while I was building it. Since the frame was going to make it impossible to put anything else in that corner anyway, I figured I'd custom-fit the whole thing to the room.

This ended up with a frame that's 3/4 of an octagon with a square corner on one side - as though you'd trimmed 3 of the corners off a square. I used redwood 2x4s for the base-"B" grade redwood to minimize knots. The corners are all joined by dovetail joints - learning to hand-cut dovetails on an angle was all kinds of fun. ;) As you can see in the photos, I put four 2x4s through the center, with 4x4 redwood posts holding the whole assembly 1.5' off the floor so that we have plenty of underbed storage. On this base, I put down redwood 1"x6" planks for slats, and screwed them to the frame. This means that the frame creaks a fair bit, since the slats can't move around to absorb some of the movement on the cushion, but since we have to fluff the cushion occasionally, I didn't want to have slats go flying around. I put the whole thing together with a lot of screws, and managed to avoid having to glue anything, which means I can take it apart when we have to do something like paint the room. I had to assemble the bed in place, with a lot of help from [ profile] theboy12  because there was no way that this would fit through the door of the room. I was pleased that I only had to make a couple of small modifications on final assembly - less than I'd expected given that I couldn't test-fit it all together entirely first because without the screws in place, the tall posts wouldn't stay up.

Overall, it was a fun project. I learned a lot about working with hand tools - since I've got a one-car garage, I don't have space for major power tools, and they're rather pricey anyway. I did use a power sander, though I also found that using a hand plane and drawknife for much of my shaping work meant that I only had to use fine grit sandpaper to get the finish I wanted. About half of the ~$1000 spent on this project went to a good set of hand tools - saws, sharpening materials, a dovetail guide, and other bits. The rest went to wood, finish, and other consumable supplies. Overall, pretty good, considering that the least expensive 8' round bed frame we found was ~$2000, and now I've got some useful tools - I'm already using them on some other minor projects around the house.
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[ profile] seanan_mcguire recently posted about the Books for Boobs project, auctioning off signed copies of books to raise money for breast cancer awareness, research, and treatment.  Auction links are here: and how the money is spent is here: ;

Seanan has two of her books up for auction - Feed and Rosemary and Rue.  They're both very good, with a strong likelihood that you won't be able to put them down once you start reading.  She quickly made it to our list of authors who we'll buy anything they write - possibly including a grocery list. :)
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This weekend, Sarah and I went up to Camp Jack Hazard, the YMCA summer camp that my brothers and I went to as kids, and before that, my Dad and his brother went to when they were kids.  Thanks in large part to my brother Skippy, the camp was having its second annual Alumni weekend.  Skippy and another former camp director helped found the Jack and Buena Foundation, named for the founders of the camp - the foundation is sort of an alumni association for the camp.  The proceeds from the memberships and the fee for the weekend (both of which were quite inexpensive) go to providing scholarships for kids who would be otherwise unable to attend the camp due to the cost of the session. 

The camp is just outside Dardanelle, CA - off Highway 108, up near Sonora Pass.  It's a week or ten-day (I don't remember just how long) residential summer camp in cabins in the Sierra wilderness.  There are arts and crafts, a ropes course, rock climbing, hiking, singing, and a lot of general silliness, with a two night overnight backpacking trip in the middle of the whole thing.  Part of the mission of the camp is taking kids from more urban areas and exposing them to the wilderness.  Campers are mostly from the Modesto area, as it is based out of the Y there - My family is an outlier, we found out about it because Dad went there as a camper.  We didn't so much need the exposure to the wilderness, but it was a wonderful place to go.

The weekend was a lot of fun, and brought back quite a few memories.  I recognized several of the people there, and quite a few more had heard of "Skippy and Fuzzy's brother" as my brothers were both staff at camp after being campers, which I didn't do.  It was great to renew acquaintances and meet new people who had been to the camp, and to share it with our significant others who'd married into things.  There were quite a few children along, and Sarah was not the only pregnant woman there.  It was a very family-friendly event.  The weekend had as much of the camp experience as they could pack into two days - silly themes for the mealtimes, some crafts (Sarah and I got Jack and Buena Foundation T-shirts and Tie-dyed them), we both went on the High Ropes course (it was quite a workout), a hike to one of the closer interesting rock formations, and a chance to get to know a bunch of new people.  We found out that there are quite a few CJH alumni in Davis - we'll have to organize a gathering of some sort.

One of the most meaningful parts of the weekend for me was the rehooding ceremony carried out Saturday night.  For those who havent' been to a Y-camp, there's a program called the Ragger program for anyone who wants to do it.  In each of the seven levels, you take on some personal challenges to help you develop as a person.  Each level has a theme for the type of challenges - a full list is here: ; As you'll notice from the link, the original program has a very Christian focus, with an emphasis towards becoming more Christ-like.  Being Christian, I took the challenges this way, but at CJH the program is run with the Christian part removed from the challenges - the principles that you're trying to live up to, Loyalty, Dedication, Humility, Service to others, and Sacrifice don't require a Christian belief.  I had forgotten just how much these principles and the challenges I took to live up to these ideals shaped who I am as a person.  The camp reinforced the values my parents instilled in me, and having an outside group reinforce that, I think helped me a lot.

The weekend brought us both to be quite sure that when he/she is old enough, Sarah and I will send our child to camp.  I highly recommend this place to anyone who has a child and wants to send them off to a camp.  Also to any young adults looking for a great and challenging summer job, being on staff at CJH is an amazing experience.  I only made it as far as Leader-in-training, but both my brothers were staff, and it did very good things for them.
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I have been assimilated - just got an iPhone, as the previous phone finally hit a point where I had to disassemble it and reseat connectors, and it still had some issues.  Still, it lasted 3 years, which is a year longer than my average for PDA survival, and it's still usable, just threatening to die.  This is the first time I've upgraded my device before killing it completely. 
So far, I like the new phone.  As I've generally found to be the case with Apple's products, overall I have to do less tweaking to get things usable than I did on the other phone.  Still some issues, though most of them related to specific apps.  We'll see what I think after awhile.  I suspect that after trying it for a month or two, I'll turn off the cellular modem and cancel the data plan - I'm nearly always near a wireless connection anyway, so I don't think I'll miss it.  I didn't have one for my last smartphone and didn't mind, though it is useful on trips - I can see just getting a data plan for months that involve traveling.
Also, the fact that quite a few retro games seem to have been ported to the iphone is likely to cost me my allowance for a while.  I just picked up Final Fantasy I & II, and Simon the Sorcerer 1 and 2.  Ahh, reliving childhood memories - but with better graphics.  Besides, this time I get to play rather than just watch my friends play. :)
Also, Facebook's character limits suck.
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The Good News:  If you haven't seen the announcements elsewhere, Sarah's pregnant, with a due date of Valentine's day.  She's got the ultrasound photo here: ; We're both very excited.

The Bad News:  I just got let go at work - I didn't make it through the 6-month probationary period.  I did my best and they gave me a fair shake, but there's enough differences in the type of work at a clinical lab vs. a research lab that I made several mistakes along the way as I was learning, and they don't have the luxury of spending more time to get me up to the necessary standard.  Personally, I suspect they'll have a hard time getting someone who needs less training to fill the position, but I do hope I'm wrong about that since they're good people and have a lot on their plates at the moment.  Part of the reason they don't have the luxury of training me up to standard is that they're really rather understaffed for the workload at the moment.

So, it's back to the job-hunt for me, though if I don't turn up something in ~7 months, it means that we'll at least not be having to pay for child care - not an inconsiderable thing, since the places we've turned up so far for daycare charge about half my former monthly salary for care for a 3-18 month child for a month during the workday.
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In addition to my previous post, some fans are running an auction to help raise money to save AJ Adams' house.  Sarah and I have donated two 1 hour photography certificates as well as one of our simplicity photo packages for a wedding or event (basically we'll do the photos & give you digital copies, but you'd still have to pay us to get a printed album.)  So, if anyone's interested in photos from us, go bid.  Details here:
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In an effort to raise at least $30K by July 1 to avoid foreclosure on his house, AJ Adams is offering shares in Sea Fire Productions - his record label, owner of the copyrights to his/Heather's music, and 51% owner of the land in question.  Details such as we have them are here:

The short form is that SFP was originally set up as an S corporation, and they're offering publicly up to 49% of the original shares at $50/share.  They're trying to raise $30k by July 1 to save the house -  if they don't manage that, anyone who wishes to cash out their shares and get their money back will be allowed to do so, or the shares can be kept for whatever they may turn out to be worth.  Contact for details.

Sarah and I picked up several shares both to help out, and because the idea of owning shares in the music of someone we're fans of appeals to us.  No clue if it'll be anything resembling a sound financial investment, but that's not the point for us.

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Detailed bit cut for length )

Overall, we had a lot of fun, and I think several of our friends would enjoy coming along sometime.  [ profile] silkfiddlerette , [ profile] lyahdan , [ profile] battymaiden , [ profile] temperance14 , [ profile] barnabas_truman , and [ profile] serendipity17 , I'm particularly thinking of you.  Hazel - there were several harps in evidence, which made us think of you.  Overall, I'm quite impressed by the general friendliness of the people there - I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given the overlap with Faire/SCA folk.  It seems to me to be a great community, and one I look forward to getting more involved in over time.
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So, a longer post about Consonance will follow when I get to sit down and write it, but in the meantime, I wanted to share that I'll have a job again come Monday the 15th. I'll be a lab tech at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory on campus at UCD.
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So, I've been meaning to post about this book for nearly three months now, since the book came out. Dave Freer has a knack for setting up unstable situations, and then leading us on a merry romp through the destruction of the whole mess, ending with a much better situation all around. This one involves a trickster Dragon, a human wizard in a land where there aren't supposed to be any (and who doesn't know she is one), and a cast of characters out to get her to use in their schemes. I can't really do it justice (which is one of the reasons I don't often post book reviews - I have trouble working out how to describe them), but it's a lot of fun to read, and I really hope it does well enough that Baen buys a sequel. If you like silly fantasy romps, I highly recommend this one.

Mind you, I should put up a disclaimer that I got Tuckerized in this one as a result of the contest here:
That is to say, there's a minor character named "Groblek" in the story. I find this quite fitting, as my handle originally came from my misremembering the name of a minor Eddings character - I'll be interested to see if I start finding that Groblek is taken as a user name for new sites after the book has been out a while - I rather hope it gets that popular. :)
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So, I took the CBEST this morning, in the hopes of potentially picking up some money substitute teaching. I don't know how viable that is given the number of out-of-work teachers at the moment, but it's worth a try. I now understand why Sarah said when she took it, the most difficult part was finding a parking space. I think I could have passed that my Freshman year in High School - my brian didn't wake up until halfway through because I didn't need it until then. And yet, there are people who fail that test multiple times. This disturbs me quite a bit. Carpooling with [ profile] loupyone and [ profile] sillymesaysme was fun - conversing with friends makes a dull process much better, particularly laughing about the test afterwords together.
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So, Sarah and I keep forgetting to make this announcement - we're having a party at our place the day after Thanksgiving again this year, since it went so well last year. As usual, if you can read this, you're invited. It'll be Friday, November 27, from 1pm until whenever we kick people out. We'll have our usual collection of board/card/whatever games to play, and general hanging out. We'll provide some food, but please bring something to share. As usual, children are welcome, with the caveat that our house hasn't been childproofed. If they're old enough for Legos, I'll have some of my collection available to entertain any kids, or any adults who want to play with them for that matter.
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So we just realized that we had no plans for Halloween, so we thought we'd throw a Halloween party. If you can read this you're invited, but please let us know if you're coming. We'll start at 3 pm on Sat. the 31st, and keep going until we're all done. Costumes are appreciated, but not required. Please bring food or drink to share. That way I know everyone has at least on item they're willing to eat at the party. We'll probably have chili. Work has a chili cook off for Halloween.

We're kid friendly, but haven't kid safed the house. I can probably pull out some Legos to help entertain any kids of an appropriate age (or adults, for that matter).

It's our place, so there will probably be gaming, may be dancing, and should be fun.


When: 3 pm-whenever 10/31/09
Where: Pryankster Place 3329 Monterey Ave.

Questions: comment e-mail or phone me
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