Don’t Try the Snake

I thought I’d learned a thing or two about unclogging drains, but I was flummoxed at a suddenly and completely plugged-up bathtub this morning at my apartment. Turns out a pinky-sized hole in the insulation let a draft through that was enough to freeze the trap solid! Written in pencil on a section of wall above the trap:

Heater on if below zero for several days.

frozen bathtub drain trap
Indeed, it’s been below zero for a stretch. I guess the previous tenant opted for the band-aid fix instead of just stuffing some insulation in the hole.

Yes, I still love it here in Minnesota, especially because of the weather! It’s a winter wonderland outside. It rarely rains and is often sunny. And as soon as I get my STABILicers™ I’ll feel comfortable running on the ice-rink sidewalks again!


There are just too many shiny objects out there. Here’s how I ended up looking at some of the strangest C code I’ve ever seen.

  1. Started on the gslug mailing list, reading about a new keyboard layout. I continue to be drawn in to rumors that the QWERTY layout is a conspiracy to slow down typers, so hearing about a new keyboard layout called Colemak piqued my curiosity.
  2. Progressed quickly from to the Wikipedia entry on Colemak. Cool, Colemak is supposed to be easier to switch to than Dvorak.
  3. The Colemak entry on Wikipedia mentions digraphs. I’ve heard of digraphs because I use them in Vim, but you can use them in C, too? Strange.
  4. The digraph entry on Wikipedia also mentions trigraphs. Trigraphs!

Sheesh. Interesting, but talk about distracting. I sure hope it isn’t true that multitasking kills your brain.

Begone, TV!


I agree that it is basically vandalism in that the reason everyone is there is to see the what’s on the TVs, but it’s still funny as heck.

Like a couple of the commenters, I’ve found the TV-B-Gone indispensable in airports, bars, restaurants; any place where the management seems to think people need a TV playing in the background (or foreground) at all times.
Here’s the thing they probably used to turn off the TVs.

(via Patrick)

Don’t Bother With LaTeX

The biggest problem I see with elegant, declarative markup languages like LaTeX is that, in a nutshell, relatively few people know how to use them. Collaboration often requires the lowest common denominator, and that means a document editor like Writer.

But LaTeX is fun. It is always consistent. The final result is beautiful. Since you are editing source code (unless you use LyX), you have complete control over the final document. Ideally, you forget about trying to bold this, indent that and focus instead on the content of what you write.

I can’t help it, I find myself using LaTeX for more and more documents. What the heck is wrong with me?

It is possible when using Writer to keep your document clean and simple, use styles profusely, and focus mostly on content, only dipping into presentation at one time, and some people do in fact do this.

Mountain Climbing: Fun Facts

Mount Rainier is the 5th highest mountain in the contiguous United States. Mount Whitney is the highest.

From this Forbes article on Everest deaths: one in ten mountain climbers die trying to summit, and those who successfully summit have a one in twenty chance of dying on the way down.

Humans living in higher altitudes acclimatize by increasing the number of red blood cells, thereby increasing the capacity for oxygen and carbon dioxide movement within the body.

Fun facts were inspired by a recent Mount Adams climb.