Latest Notices

2 oz. of Grand Keemum from TeaSource

April 4th, 2015

Pretty nice. Full enough. Resteeps up to twice nicely.

Next up: Scottish Breakfast from TeaSource.

(Notes to myself about tea, because I forget.)

Fixing a disconnected Samsung HW-F450 Wireless Subwoofer

February 14th, 2015

I had a hard time of fruitless Googling trying to find how to fix my subwoofer. Turns out it’s very easy. Here you go. You’re welcome.

In case the URL goes bad one day, turn off the sound bar, plug in the subwoofer, stick a paperclip into the “ID Set” hole on the subwoofer and hold for five seconds,  then press the mute button on the remote for five seconds, then power up the sound bar.

Problems mounting an iPod on Mac 10.9 + iTunes 12.1

February 3rd, 2015

I had a bear of a time getting an older iPod Mini to mount. It worked on my laptop, but not on my Mac Mini. Restoring didn’t solve. Turning off both “Manually Manage…” and “Enable Disk…” on my laptop fixed it for the Mac Mini.

Replaced Windshield Washer Pump on 1993 Toyota Paseo

January 26th, 2015

Some quick notes in case anyone find themselves having to do this:

  • I used the Trio replacement… seems nice
  • It is in the driver-side wheel well, and you’ll need to remove a couple of bolts from the mud guard to get at it
  • Turn the wheels all the way left (in) not right (out), counter to what the instructions say
  • You’ll need to cut the wires… no big
  • Blue goes to positive (HT

$20… 20 minutes… happy repair.

Disappointed with CenturyLink

December 23rd, 2014

Recently the weather was a bit odd; extremely humid and warm for winter. It turns out that apparently this does very bad things to our phone line. Our internet has been terrible; phone calls nearly unusable.

Hard to believe? Take a listen…

That just me holding my iPhone next to the phone receiver. On a clear dry day, it’s quiet and normal.

But how’s my DSL? Glad you asked. SNR Downstream around 6-10 dB (which seems pretty bad). Dozens to hundreds of retrains a day. (On a clear day SNR is fine and it really doesn’t retrain.)

So, of course we called CenturyLink. They sent someone out… two days later. Yeah, weather had cleared. Yeah, “everything was fine”. Sigh.

Happening again today. Called again today. They’ll send someone out… Friday.

On the same call today, I’m told:

  • It’s probably my modem, because it’s old (but it seems fine on clear days)
  • It’s probably my modem settings (but they’re unchanged since CenturyLink set the settings many months ago)
  • The line is clear
  • The line is not clear

Really, really frustrating. Not sure I have any hope this will ever be fixed, unless we just get “lucky” and have humidity problems that coincide with a technician visit.

UPDATE (6 days later): As far as I can tell, the technician never came last Friday. Voice line still sounds just as bad. Terrible internet.

UPDATE (6 days and a few minutes later): Checked “Where’s My Tech” and it turns out my December 26th visit got quietly moved to December 30th. Sigh.

UPDATE (6 days and a few hours later): Yep, it happened. Over the last few hours humidity dropped to 60% and the line is clear, voice and internet. Both were unusable 3 hours ago. So grumpy.

UPDATE (yet later on the 29th): Clear voice line and seemingly good S-to-N on the modem, but modem reports connection speed is about half of what I pay for.

UPDATE (Dec 31): Well, no one showed up. Again.  The “commitment” to Dec 26 became a “commitment” to Dec 30 and is now a “commitment” to Jan 3.

UPDATE (later on Dec 31): Nothing much interesting, but did see a SNR of -5 dB… haahaha!

UPDATE (about 4pm on Dec 31): Some progress! @CenturyLinkHelp jumped in and a couple of hours later a tech called me saying that he’d found and fixed bad wiring on the phone pole. Voice line seems clear now, as does SNR, but DSL speed is pretty low, so a little more work to be done.

The Mystery of the Christmas Vandal

December 9th, 2014

REPOST: I just found this while consolidating my old backups. It’s from 2001.

Winter came late this year. It was so late, I was able to get my Christmas lights up the way I’d wanted to for years. A few strings on the house, a few in the corner bushes, and some on the garage. Much better than previous years’ last minute attempts. They looked great.

A few days after they’d been put up, I found that the string on the garage and fence wasn’t working. Upon examination, I found the lights had been vandalized – cut in three spots just as they transitioned from garage to fence. Our family was angry and sad that someone would want to wreck what we thought was just a sweet Christmas tradition; being vandalized is intrusive enough, but Christmas lights!

I went out and patched up the wires so the lights would be ready for the evening. I wasn’t going to have those lights out even one night, I’d resolved. I refused to be defeated by some little creep with a scissors, which is what I’d concluded by careful examination of the wires, and placement of the cuts. (Ironically, I’d been re-reading Sherlock Holmes at that time and was almost enjoying trying to figure out the crime.)

The lights shone that night, and the night after. The next day, however, brought an unhappy surprise. Looking out the kitchen window, I saw some wires hanging on the fence. He’d come back.

Now I was really mad, and I went out to examine the damage – it was worse. Instead of a simple cut which was easy to repair, the vandal this time chose to remove sections of the wire; sections with the light bulbs and sockets (these were the larger C-5 lights). I couldn’t just pull this together and tape it. I had to take down the string and repair it indoors and replace it outside. This seemed too smart for a really little kid. Someone really wanted to make sure those lights didn’t light.

I defiantly repaired the string and replaced it on the fence – the lights will not go out.

I also had an idea.

At first I wanted to wait in the minivan for the creep to show up and catch him in the act. I had my list of suspects and couldn’t wait to get whoever it was. Then I realized that my new camcorder will record in extremely low light, so instead of waiting all night, I set up the camera in the kitchen window and ran it while I slept. I was now hoping that I’d wake up to see they’d been vandalized again.

I woke up and the lights were untouched. Same for the next night. Then, again, the lights were vandalized, and this time it seemed to have happened during the day! Unbelievable gall!

This time one bulb was smashed in and the wires in the bulb crossed, blowing the fuse and disabling all the lights! This kid is smart! It was, I had to admit, a brilliant and efficient way to bring down a whole string of lights.

But the lights will not go out. The repair took only a few minutes.

Now that this seemed to be done during the day, I’d decided to set up the little creep. The next morning my wife would take my boy to school in the minivan, leaving the driveway empty. I would be at the window with the camcorder in the darkened house.

I waited.


Once my wife got home, I dejectedly decided to go in to work, and as I left, I made the discovery that broke the case.

So much for my Sherlockian skills.

The wires were indeed cut by something weak weilding opposing scissors-like blades – a squirrel’s teeth. There were clues that I’d ignored, of course. Why weren’t the lights in the bush vandalized, too? They were farther from the house than the fence lights. Why did some of the remaining bulbs have two odd, parallel scratches on them? (The squirrel was taste-testing, obviously.)

The smashed bulb and crossed wires turned out to be my boy and grandad opening the garage shed door into the light and crushing it and smashing the wires together. (I found a tiny shard of orange glass in the shed door.)

What I saw when I left for work was that squirrel on top of the fence nervously holding an orange bulb. He stared at me for a moment, and dashed into his nest atop a tree right next to the fence. I laughed for a long time that day.

Advent reading at church today

November 30th, 2014

Our family got to do the first Sunday Advent reading at church, which is not particularly noteworthy, but what is pretty fun is Nellie’s participation. I think she had it pretty much memorized, but nevertheless, she was carefully reading it word by word… and she’s a very new reader.

Repost: A Thanksgiving thought from Johnny Dollar

November 27th, 2014

More proof I was born in the wrong era; a nice message from my favorite old time radio drama. This was regular, commercial radio.

Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
II Cor. 9:15

Problems with Vizio Wi-Fi Connected TV? Try this.

August 1st, 2014

For no reason I could think of, one of our Vizio TVs started having lots of problems connecting to the Wi-Fi. Even after a Factory Reset I couldn’t get things like Netflix to work, though I was able to reconnect to Wi-Fi and successfully test the connection.

Looking around on the internet wasn’t a lot of help, but there were two sets of things I founds that were useful… collected here to save someone pain.

First Try

  1. Go to Help and choose Factory Reset
  2. Power down the TV
  3. Disconnect the TV from power (I did this over night… I’ve see as low as one minute recommended, but that seems too little)
  4. Reconnect the TV to power and turn on
  5. Help > Factory Reset again

That restored my ability to connect via Wi-Fi, but widgets still didn’t work, telling me to choose the HDTV Settings widget and set up my connection (which was already set up and working… BAH).

Second Try

  1. Power down TV
  2. Connect TV to you network via wires (for me this meant unplugging everything from the TV and carrying it downstairs next to my router)
  3. Turn on TV
  4. Assuming your network is working, the TV should start a bunch of downloads and updates
  5. When everything seems done, power down
  6. Reconnect everything and power up the TV

You should be able to connect via Wi-Fi and run things like Netflix now.

If this didn’t help, the Yahoo Widget Developer forum had the best information. (Those little apps on your TV are Yahoo Widgets.)

Doctors fail four-question test

March 1st, 2012

I deeply hope I’m being snookered, but it seems not. In a Journal of Medical Ethics article entitled “After-birth abortion: why should babies live?” it is suggested that babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life”. (I saw this here, which referred to here. I looked up the links above myself.) The journal is by BMJ, whose tagline is “Helping doctors make better decisions.”

There’s so much here that could and should be discussed, but there’s a very simple root to all of this. For all of man’s knowledge, advancement, and technology, we cannot come to agreement concerning the Big Questions of existence, and because of this, we do terrible things.

Here’s what I mean. I think there are really only four Big Questions:

  1. What is life?
  2. What is mind?
  3. What is truth?
  4. What is evil?

This hideous journal article’s conclusion is hideous because of it’s answer to each of these, but especially (1). And I needn’t put words into their mouths:

“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

Seriously think about this for a moment.

How does this apply to the one day old. One week old? One year old? Or the mentally disabled? Or the physically disabled? Or the aged dementia sufferer? Or the terminally ill? Or the deeply depressed? Or mood-swinging teen?

I’m tempted to say this is utterly untethered from any sense of morality, but it’s worse than that. It’s sneaks in its own poorly defined and unjustified moral code. What does their test even mean?

If a newborn senses some kind of awe or pleasure at it’s first encounter with light, does that count? Or is that not cogent enough to fulfill “attributing” or “value”?

Babies sense their surroundings and respond to them with a sense of preference. I’ve seen mama leave a room and the baby start to cry. I’ve seen the baby cry at the environment change at birth. When a newborn first smiles because of recognizing mama or papa, does that count? Are they not expressing something like “I like this,” containing both “I” and “like”? Is it lack of language the dooms them to non-personhood, as if knowing a noun changing their state of being? Surely not.

But these are only questions on their own terms: saying that some level of response to or interaction with environment defines life and mind. But arguing at that level is folly. It’s not enough. There is something else, deeper and more difficult which is below all this. Without having a baseline sense of what life really is, or what mind really is, these doctors are simply children playing with toys they don’t understand.

The authors appear to be coming from, or at least unintentionally employing, a reductionistic, naturalistic, mechanistic set of values, but those values themselves are to be questioned. In my opinion, they do a poor job of answering those four questions, and so cannot be counted on to provide meaningful guidance.

Core questions are important. Here we see implications of philosophy and metaphysics; real life actions depend on this stuff. In this case, these men have found it worth using the euphemism “after-birth abortion” for what used to be abhorred as “infanticide” because of their answers to core questions. But, those answers being poor, their conclusions are contemptible.