Cron-ically Wrong [sic!]

So it turns out there was yet another mistake in my crontabbed update scripts: They were also started on other computers I logged in. That by itself is wasteful, but not catastrophic; some of the computers didn’t run Linux on x86s, though, but Solaris on Sparcs. Every once in a while I’d get a differently formatted cron error email that complained about something not working. It took me a while to understand that this was a Sparc machine. Now I’m just running them on finland, which is an Intel Linux box.

I just went to get some random stuff from Target, letter sorters, drywall sealer, an extension cord, and carpet cleaner, among other things. What I didn’t find was some manual way to unclog the bathtub drain. Drano is ineffective and I can’t find any wire hangers; I must have used them all. The problem with both my bathtub drain and the toilet is that both empty not down, but towards the back, probably because the floors were built so close together.

The letter sorters don’t look good but will hopefully help (they already bend under the load), They now implement a primitive system of sorting the papers I’m working with: Bottom stack is “read papers, not very important”; the second stack is “not read, not directly applicable”; the third is “read and important”; and the top stack has directly to do with my thesis. Before this reorganization, I had so many papers floating around, I even forgot I had some. The extension cord has a switch to reboot both my DSL router and my Gigabit switch; lately I’ve seen lots of problems with that, and resetting those two devices so far does the trick.

I also looked at new thermostats, but they had only one that didn’t give me enough information. I think I may buy a newer, digital, programmable model from the same manufacturer though; they are cheap, $20 shipped, and during the day when I’m gone I can automatically power down the AC. Now that I know the current circuit board almost by heart, replacing the 70s-style rotary dial thermostat should be easy.

Then I looked at the fans at Target. There are big fans and small fans; tower fans and box fans. Most of them are measured in inches of diameter. This is something that has puzzled me for a long time, for about as long as I’ve had my own apartment and I’ve considered buying a fan: People only care about a fan’s size, but not about the power consumption, the noise and the airflow, even though to me those seem to be the most important characteristics of a fan. Who cares if it’s the size of a dime but needs its own nuclear battery and sounds like an airport?

I actually opened two tower fans up, a 30″ and a 40″. Nowhere did it mention anything besides “3 speeds”, the inches, and that the bigger one had a remote control. I guess it lets you select among three different but all unspecified amounts of airflow. I just can’t buy a fan like that. I think this is one of the weird traits were my Europeanness still shows. I also looked for multimeters. No surprise that they didn’t have a device to measure potential, current and resistance… Measure what? Can I supersize that?

The fan issue is turning into a pet peeve: I’ve asked salesmen in hardware stores and written emails to manufacturers, but no one could ever tell me about a particular fan’s W, db and cc/m. Does that mean everyone here just doesn’t care how much a fan sucks or blows? But maybe the Americans have it right, actually. The temperature comfort zone is so tiny, only a small degrees, I’m sure the placebo noise of a fan already makes it colder.

Then I was on my way to get a haircut. I usually wait on a bench a little and drink some Gatorade to cool down, then comb my hair, just so I’m not all nasty and sweaty. I did the same today, but then discovered that my trusted old barber shop from nearly seven years had moved. Now it’s on the freeway, about twice as far and much more inconvenient to reach. I guess this is goodbye and back to the big chains.


About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
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