Counter-Stalker

I’m sure at some point I’ve complained about internet tracking.  There’s no way I haven’t, but I can’t find the right article to link to at the moment.  So instead, I’ll ramble on for a bit about the over-discussed and tired topic.

I did find this topic, wherein I discussed my router upgrade.  Recently, the manufacturer pushed an update to it, and in this update I found some more robust traffic management and firewall tools.  Naturally, I poked around, and discovered that I could control domain blocking with more refinement.  On a whim–well, more than a whim really–I blocked Facebook and some other well-known web analytic and tracking domains in a custom rule that I then assigned to all my personal devices.

The result was even worse than I had suspected.  There were all manner of things that were linking to Facebook.  Even if I chose to ignore all Facebook prompts, applications and pages were still running their scripts in the background.  Why?!  The question, of course, is rhetorical.

One more incremental step in fighting for internet privacy.

–Simon

Elusive Photogenics

A couple weeks back, I bought a new aquarium.  This reminded me that my main aquarium really needed a pruning, especially so as it was starkly contrasted to the Amano-style tank in the basement.  And a pruning is really not an arduous undertaking, so I finally forced myself to do it.  Behold:

I’ve always struggled to get a good close-up photo of that tank.  I think digital consumer camera technology finally advanced enough to make it possible.  Oooo, purdy.

–Simon

Laminate (Part 2)

I heard a theory once that mothers, having endured the pain of childbirth, cope with the trauma through selective amnesia.  The theory posits that, were the memory’s vivid details to remain, no woman would ever subject herself to a second pregnancy.

I don’t know if it makes a good metaphor, but I’ve found a similar effect in husbands who undertake painful home renovations, for 6 months is apparently the point at which I forget anguish and willingly subject myself to the original task which caused the anguish.  Of course, once I begin the task, I quickly remember.  But by then, it’s too late.  Much like pregnancy.

This past Spring, I replaced the hallway carpeting with laminate.  The horrors which lay below were unmentionable (so I mentioned them).  And the end result was well worth the effort, for no longer did navigating the hallway require a temporary hiatus from normal respiration.  Ahh, I love the smell of offgassing formaldehyde in the morning.

The subflooring of the dining room wasn’t nearly as bad, but the carpet was equally rank.  Cut into strips and awaiting their gradual disposal, they pollute the garage with the musty fumes of an old lady and a dying dog.  I’ve taken to running the ozone machine out there regularly, where it works much better than my original intention.

Floor stripped and vacuumed, the real work began.

I was faced with a quandary.  When we bought the house, the kitchen and front room had fresh laminate.  The problem was, the slats interlock in a certain direction, and unless I removed areas of the transition zones, I had no way of knowing which direction the slats had been laid.  When I re-floored the hallway, I hadn’t checked, but at the time it didn’t matter because it wouldn’t connect with the existing laminate.  But now, with the dining room, I needed to know.  But I didn’t consider this ahead of time and began work.  It would come down to a 50/50 chance.

I had already laid the first board.

As the work progressed, the dilemma gnawed.  Could I live with the two rooms not matching?  Would I be content to leave a junction strip between the two?  If I could, would the misalignment forever torment me?  And what if I eventually joined the living room?

So I ripped out the kitchen’s terminal boards and hammered in replacements.  I then shifted my prior work to match, but it was only until the work had advanced sufficiently as to be irreversible did I discover that the two rooms were not perfectly matched in linearity.  No, by mere millimeters were they bent.

Well, if intellect and proper anticipation would fail me, I could always use brute strength and violence!  At least I would have, had my strength been sufficient, but ultimately I had to use a 2X4 and the wall to force things into alignment.  And cursing.  Lots of cursing.  The boards matched closely enough so as to be convincing, and only a very close inspection would betray the slightest of error.

As proof of my efforts, I paid The Blood Price.

Once everything was aligned with the kitchen, the remaining work was more tedious than noteworthy.  I installed the border strip and replaced the molding.

We now have what I call the most adult room in the house, since no one’s allowed to use it.

I did so well in fact that Liz was immediately ready to pull the carpet out of the living room, but I required that the home renovation amnesia set in first.

She set a calendar reminder 6 months out.

–Simon

Aquaria

I was denied a promotion at work

Ah well, such is life.

So I did what I rarely do: I shopped to make myself feel better.

And so it was that I revisited a long-neglected hobby.  I bought an aquarium.  Specifically, I bought a small aquarium I had been eyeing for a time at the local pet store, before the Feng shui minimalist style apparently fell out of fashion, because the only aquariums I see now in stores are the bulky and cheap rimmed kind.  And so, skeptical about UPS’ ability to deliver unto me an intact and glass aquarium (seriously, I had acrylic tanks), I ordered the Fluval Chi.

I had always been jealous of the ADA (Takashi Amano) style aquariums, and while I lacked the budget to create one in earnest, the Chi allowed just enough space for a convincing facsimile.  I planned to use black sand substrate, vertically-aligned driftwood, and a java fern.  And, since I didn’t want to clutter the tank with hardware, I would forego the heater and use coldwater-tolerant fish: the White Cloud Minnow.

And while the tank did ultimately arrive intact, sadly, my desire for instant gratification was sabotaged by my local fish store’s lack of stocked driftwood, java fern, and While Cloud Minnows; though it did have black sand.  I grabbed the sand, then noticed a pre-packaged single java fern in a plastic tube…for eight friggin bucks!  Those things grow like weeds and are truly the beginner’s aquarium plant.  I grumbled, and bought it anyway.

Eventually, I found some White Cloud Minnows at a different store, and paid way too much for a simple common fish.  But I only needed 3 so whatever.  Still, no wood, so I resorted to sawing off a chunk from my main tank–which can’t be seen anyway since it’s long-since been overgrown by a decade’s worth of Anubis growth.

At last…

It also has a cool fountain/filter, so I placed black river stones in the top, added some spiderling plants, and dug up a little moss from the back yard.  It now doubles as a small water garden.

Now, when I’m working at home and become embittered, I can glance over and receive a moment’s respite in the micro aquaculture environment I have created on my desk.

–Simon