Did You Know?
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:43 pm)

That Microsoft has an article about Leetspeak?

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Garnet Hunting!
Posted in Hobbies
Forenoon watch, 3 bells (9:32 am)

Yesterday was a fun day out. The drive to Emerald Creek Garnet Area was long, around 2 hours from Post Falls, and my wife got a little carsick with all the twists and turns, but we made it in one piece with a very dirty car. The last 7 miles to the garnet area aren't paved.

The Forest Service was quite late opening the garnet area this year because they made some changes. Those of you that have been before may be interested in seeing how it's done now, so here are some pictures:

Digging area
Sifting area
Sluices

And here are a couple pictures of the garnets we found:

Together we took away 3/4 of a pound of the star garnets. Quite a bit less than the 10 pound quota allowed by our two combined permits. This would be a great activity with kids, too. There is a short hike uphill from the parking area along a dirt road and you're there. They take cash or checks. There are lots of Forest Service employees there to help answer your questions and get you started. Bathroom facilities are there, but I didn't use them so I can't say anything about the condition. Bring a hat, sunscreen, extra water (we didn't have access to clean water, the sluice water is recycled over and over and quite muddy). Gloves for people with tender skin may be nice, some of the rocks can be sharp. Also, something to put your garnets in. They have baggies there (at least they did yesterday), but some people brought jars and others brought Home Depot aprons.

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Star Garnets
Posted in Hobbies
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:25 pm)

After reading about it on A Family Runs Through It (he takes the best pictures) a while back, my wife and I decided to try our luck finding star garnets (the Idaho state gemstone). You can read more about it at the Official Garnet Digging Website. It's not too far from Coeur d'Alene, so we're taking the day off tomorrow and heading down. They were quite late opening up this year due to some restructuring—they don't allow you to dig your garnets out of the creek anymore, you get buckets of gravel and wash it yourself. They just opened up last Friday, actually. They're only open until October 1st, too, so if you want to go, you'd better start planning now. They're closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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Net Service In YoYo Mode
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:22 am)

All this past night, the Internet service has been in Yoyo mode. I've been up since 3:40am looking in to what's wrong, but it's not our fault. I hate getting middle-of-the-night pages when my monitor program lets me know our website and other servers can't be reached...

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Telescope Alignment
Posted in Hobbies
Morning watch, 7 bells (7:35 am)

When I recently went with my Uncle, Dad, and brother out to the Fourth of July pass with our telescopes, I had some bit of trouble getting my Meade ETX 70 telescope aligned. They missed the boat when they didn't put a sighting scope on them. With the help of Weasner's Mighty ETX Site, I found that you can put a $9 BB gun sight with laser dot center on instead of buying a $50 sighting scope. So I picked one up at the store for $8.96 and hot-glued it to my telescope and sighted it in. It took me just a minute or two to get the sight adjusted, but now I can zero in on whatever I want using my 9mm eyepiece! I could never do that before, because the FOV is too narrow. I always had to use my 25mm, center the object, switch to my 9mm and focus, focus, focus until I could see something again. I'm a much happier camper now.

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That’s Not Lemonade
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:16 am)

Even though it sounds like it, this is not a urine joke.

Last week at our company picnic, a different employee than usual went out and bought a lot of the things for the picnic, paper plates, plastic forks, drinks, etc. From the amount of beer she bought, you'd think she was planning for a high school party. All the drinks (sodas and other assorted "adult" beverages) were placed in coolers along one of the walls. Apparently some of the kids got thirsty, and their mom told them to "go get some lemonade". Later a couple kids were found to be chugging Mike's Hard Lemonade. Suggestions were made that next year we separate the beverages. I think everybody agreed with that one.

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PC Planets
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:42 pm)

Teacher: Can anyone tell me what the names of all the planets are?
Timmy: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
Teacher: WRONG! Pluto is a dwarf planet! You LOSE!

So it sounds like there's a little turmoil amongst the Astronomical community. Or perhaps "Something rotten in the state of Denmark" is more appropriate. I guess the astronomers that stayed to the end of the recent conference were the only ones that got to vote, and the losers are whining that the winners "ganged up" and all stayed to the end to skew the vote. And to an extent, they're right. We don't all have to fly to Washington, D.C. to vote for the President. There should be some kind of electronic or absentee voting method for something this big, something that gets this much public attention.

Which brings me to my main point I wish to make today. What's with the dwarf planet nomenclature? Aren't we supposed to be PC and say something less-offensive? Just as we'd now refer to a "dead person" as terminally inconvenienced or metabolically challenged, should we not also have a better term for the dwarf planets? A person with dwarfism isn't a midget, they're a human being of restricted growth, so what about the planets?

I submit to you, my loyal readers, we use the term mass-challenged planet.

By the way, welcome Ceres, Pluto and Charon, and 2003 UB313 to the Solar System as mass-challenged planets!

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County Fair
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 2 bells (9:15 am)

Last night after work I went to the fair with Lorien and her parents. It was everything a county fair usually is, good food, smelly animals, and scary carnies. The mini doughnuts are especially tasty. We also picked up a large bag of kettle corn. Mmmmm.

PS Maybe it was good food, scary animals (you ever look at goats??), and smelly carnies, I get them confused...

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Doctor’s Report
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 1 bell (8:55 am)

Last May I went to visit my doctor, two days ago I got a postcard in the mail that said he couldn't reach me to let me know the results of my blood test. I find it hard to believe he's tried to reach me for three and a half months by phone.

Anyway, I called him yesterday and the nurse called me back with my results. She said everything was great, but my bad cholesterol was a little high. Nothing that the doctor was going to worry about, though, because my good cholesterol level was excellent. So I guess I'm okay.

My question is, if I keel over from a heart attack tomorrow, who do I sue? Or perhaps more correctly, who does my wife sue? 🙂

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USB Barbecue
Forenoon watch, 1 bell (8:41 am)

I totally understand making something useful out of something else, or thinking of a novel use for an ordinary item, but a USB-powered barbecue just doesn't make sense to me. Look at the picture and you'll understand.

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Silicone Rubber
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:44 pm)

I ordered a pint-sized sample of OOMOO 25 for my secret project—I'll be taking pictures of my processes and do a big write-up, but it won't be until late-late-late this year. Sorry to tease you, but this is some fun stuff!

PS This stuff rolled in fast! I ordered it from my local dealer, Farwest Materials and it showed up yesterday (August 23rd). I can't wait to try it out!

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Local News SUCKS
Afternoon watch, 6 bells (3:22 pm)

What's up with the local news??? Neither the Cd'A Press nor the Spokesman Review have any information about the story that's IN THE PAPER TODAY about the new courthouse. Apparently it's going right next door to my office, and they'll be cutting down most of the trees build a 3 or 4 story building (with an additional story of underground parking). Does anybody else have any information on this?

PS: This is not terribly surprising, when you view the code behind each front page. Apparently we're too podunk for real web developers—neither site makes any real use of stylesheets, embedding EVERYTHING in their code instead. The Cd'A Press was slightly more readable, but has a ton of javascript ad code scattered all over. I saw a plethora of comments (not that they're inherently bad, but I'd prefer to keep them away from the public eye), and some dated back up to 5 years ago! Both sites would benefit from a CSS overhaul, it'd probably cut their page size to less than half of what it is now. Morons.

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Card Game
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:16 am)

Last night we cracked open Once Upon A Time, along with the expansion, Dark Tales. This was a fun game to play! The object of the game is to make up a fairy tale with the cards you are dealt, and end it with the ending printed on your "Happy Ever After" card (you only get one). As you tell your story, the other players will interrupt you and take over, trying to fit the story to their ending.

My only gripe about this game is the fact that all the elements are printed on the bottom 25% of the card, so they're very difficult to hold in your hand and still view each of the cards. They really need to print something on the edge identifying each card. Other than that, it's an excellent game promising loads of fun and some...uh...interesting stories, too.

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Slam on Music
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:06 am)

Last weekend was very busy, but part of it was our annual company picnic. My boss asked to have some music playing in the background, over the PA system, but nobody had a decent CD to play. One of my cow-orkers offered to share his music collection from his hard drive, but when I looked at it there were so many different genres and bands (many of which I never have listened to) I didn't know what would be appropriate to play without offending someone. When I brought this up, he said "I have a bunch of country on there.." to which I responded "I know, that's exactly what I mean."

I was in rare form, I don't usually have something that funny come to me that quickly, but it was perfect.

Scurvy Jake: 1
Country Music: 0

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Happy Blogiversary To Me!
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:02 am)

Last Saturday was my 3rd Blogiversary! Go team Jake!

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