Saturday, February 21, 2015

Frozen Pipe

In January 2014, we had a night or two at 16°F and had a pipe pull away from a fitting, but not actually freeze. This year we had a night or two around 10° . The weather started warming this morning and behold, in early afternoon there was the sound of  running water. The copper water line near the back porch faucet had suffered a small split, but the ice that had caused it also plugged it, until the ice melted.
I figured the plumbing profession would already have its hands full with people who needed them more urgently, so I slithered under the house and found the break was about where I expected. I went to the hardware store, got silicone tape and a pipe clamp and an insulation tube, crawled back under, and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped the leak, and then put more tape on. The first fews yards of tape didn't entirely seal it but got it down to a slow drip, and it's possible the rest of the tape may have staunched that as well. I'll need to have it "really fixed" at some point but in the meantime, we could turn our water back on with less than $10 materials and about an hour's worth of work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Charleston SC

We had decided to take a mid-winter mini-vacation, somewhere warmer than Virginia Beach, but a bit less expensive than Costa Rica. Diana picked Charleston SC. Given that the Lynnhaven River was frozen the morning that we left, we were glad to go.

Outline, which I'll fill in later

  • drive to Charleston
  • Vendue hotel
  • Tour the istoric district
  • Manigault House, with the most unexpected thing of today. At the top of the main spiral stair, there's a big 4ft wide door which looks as if it ought to lead to the master bedroom or the drawing room, but there's only a little broom closet, 18" deep. But if you squeeze into the closet and look up and right, that's a hidden stairway to the children's room on the third floor.
  • Charleston Museum
  • King Street boutique district (I suspect "boutique" comes from a combination of "buy" and the "EEK" you emit when you see the price) and the Market, which was mostly empty by the time we got there--after 5pm. 
  • Jazz at the High Cotton restaurant
  • Went to Fort Sumter, which turns out to have been pretty much completely destroyed by the Union siege during the Civil War, and again during the Martian invasion of 1891. 
  • Watched dolphins from the fantail on the ferry ride back. 
  • Walked 438 miles around the historic district of Charleston. 
  • Had barbecue at Stckyfingers. 
  • Waited patiently for 14 hours 47 minutes as Diana shopped at The Trunk, which I would describe as a "secondhand shop" except I suspect it's called something else when a used dress still costs $640 and a scarf $198--neither item came home with us despite being "on sale, 5% off" as the clerk helpfully pointed out.
  • Took another stroll through the Market.
  • Went to SNOB (Slightly North Of Broad) where Diana had flounder with fennel and gold rice and I had lemon chess pie with diamond dust.
  • Set part of the hotel wall on fire but the flickering light makes it hard to sleep so I'll probably douse it shortly.
  • Drive around the south end of Old Town and see churches--First Scots Presbyterian, St Michaels and others. We'd have done more but it was 25° not counting wind chill--too cold to spend much time walking around
  • Patriot's Point, with Yorktown and the Medal of Honor Museum
  • Drive home, up Rt41 to Rt501 and 38
  • Snow at the Virginia border

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Supply and Demand

"Politicians build their careers on voters’ ignorance about supply and demand curves."

--Glenn Reynolds

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Gradual and Silent

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
- James Madison

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Soursop / Guanabana

I had nectar of guanabana (also known as soursop, gaviola, etc). The Wikipedia article says "The flavour has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana." As far as I could tell, though, there wasn't much taste difference between that and pear. A hint of citrus, perhaps. But it's a New Thing which has been tried.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Gell-Mann Amnesia

   Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward--reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
   In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story--and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
-- Michael Crichton

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 End of Year

My goals from the beginning of the year--I've bolded the ones I accomplished:

  • Climb Mt Rogers and Buffalo Mountain
  • Take yoga/aikido/tai chi/something class--had a physical training class and I've signed up for a tai chi class starting in January
  • Revisit Costa Rica
  • Try new foods--things like pummelo, chayote, cherimoya: chayote, horned melon, oysters Rockfeller, gin, some Indian food, kubideh, doogh, 
  • Attend LibertyCon, Historicon, SLC ComicCon, GZGECC and others
  • Visit Mesa Verde, Shiprock, Monument Valley
  • Reconnect with the Charlottesvillains 
  • Study investing
  • Write 120,000 words of fiction
  • Visit Virginia ACW battlefields

Events from the year:
  • January: so cold the pipes froze; announced retirement
  • February: retired, went to Costa Rica; sold Mum's house in Montreal (and got a batch of furniture from it); and went to GZG ECC 17 in New York.
  • March: new carpet
  • April: visited Knotts Island; a 750ft ship dragged its anchors and went aground at Chick's Beach; and I went to RavenCon, where I met Michael Z Williamson and Sarah Hoyt, among others,
  • May: quiet 
  • June: visited some ACW battlefields around Richmond; hada visit from Greg Rees and his partner Julie; saw a bear near Willis; visited Jon and family in Nashville; the Huntsville Space Center; LibertyCon, at which I met Miriam Ringo, Dorothy and Peter Grant, Bill Fawcett, and Toni Weisskopf.
  • July: Gwen's brother Chris visited; a tornado touched down about 2.5 miles away; celebrated Independence Day in Williamsburg; camera class
  • August: helped Josh move from Blacksburg to Christiansburg; replaced a panel for the upstairs glass door.
  • September: attended Salt Lake City ComicCon; joined Diana for a tour of New Mexico (and bits of Colorado and Arizona)--Santa Fe, Taos and Taos Pueblo, Tierra Amarilla, Farmington, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, Four Corners, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Albuquerque.
  • October: visited James and family and stayed at the Homestead, which included a trip to the shotgun range and the falconry mews; replaced the heat pump; saw two bald eagles together over the Lynnhaven.
  • .November: NaNoWriMo, at which I did better at teaching than doing; six crowns installed on front teeth; went to the Farm for Thanksgiving, and it snowed.
  • December: installed a new faucet on the kitchen sink; Josh and Gwen came here for Christmas, then they headed out to Philly, NYC, and Boston.