Archives for February 2008

My quiet toilet. Bliss.

A few years or so ago I bought a low-flow toilet. One that uses less water to get rid of my waste.

It’s made by Kohler.

And it never worked well. From day one it leaked around the “flapper valve”. Not much, but a little. Enough I could hear it. About six months ago it started leaking a lot more. So I bought a new flapper valve. Then another, and another. Still it leaked.

Today I went to Home Depot. They had a dozen flapper valves that all looked alike. I stool like a deer in headlights trying to make a choice. Eventually an employee came us the aisle helping another customer. When he was finished with that customer, I asked for his help.

Although he seemed as if he couldn’t care less that I was a customer he did ask about my toilet – the he found me a flapper valve made for Kohler toilets. And he walked away. OK – the service wasn’t friendly, but it was efficient. I am now listening to no water running at all. Not even a trickle.

But I wonder – flapper valves have been pretty much “designed” for the last couple decades. WTF made Kohler design a “different” one? Why make me take 5 trips to the hardware store? Why not be “interchangeable”?

Of course I know the answer – there isn’t a lot of money in “interchangeable”. The margins are a lot better if you aren’t a commodity. Even if you build potties.

YCMTSU – 6:15 wake up call. Cop on a roll!

“You Can’t Make This Shit Up”

6:15 am and my phone rings.

I wake up, look at the caller-id and see that it is my local Police Department.

I’m the father of two teenagers – both who have their licenses.  Of course I immediately panicked.

“Sir, there is an officer at your front door that needs to speak to you”, said the dispatcher.

I quickly throw on some clothes and head to the front door, passing both the kids rooms on the way, checking to make sure they are here, and ok.  They were.

And my dog was here.  So what could the police want with me at 6:15 am?

I answer the door and a Police Officer is standing there, looking rather sheepish.  He starts the conversation with, “Mr. La Gesse?”

After we made our introduction he declares, “I’m sorry – I’m an idiot.  I stopped someone in front of your house and forgot to put my car in park.”

His car jumped the curb and ran over my mailbox.  I told him that my mailbox had been hit before, and that it wasn’t a big deal.  Waking me up and scaring the crap out of me IS a big deal!

The officer was very nice, and promised to replace the mailbox.  I imagine his co-workers will razz the hell out him though!

The shots below are dark, I know – it starts to lighten up just as they get the car off the post.  But you can see the tow truck lifting the cop car off the mailbox.  The cop car ended up being ok – the mailbox not so much!

The last photo shows mailbox – the post was broken in half (click the image you can see the broken post).

The phone call scared the crap out of me, but it could have been much worse.  I’ll take a banged up mailbox over a banged up kid or car any day!

Update: 9:23 am.  Police officer comes back to pay for the damage.  Nice guy.  Policy demands that he take a drug test if he damages property – so that’s why it took him a few hours to come back.

Cop car on top of mailbox - tow truck needed to lift it off post Cop car on top of mailbox
Cop car on top of mailbox - tow truck needed to lift it off post Cop car on top of mailbox - tow truck needed to lift it off post
Cop car now "unstuck" Backing off
Cop car seems ok And off he goes
Mailbox - notice broken post - mailbox now sits 18 inches off the ground. Back to pay for the damage!

This image is from three hours later – the cop came back and paid me for my mailbox.  He said he would have done it sooner, but policy dictates that they have to get a drug test done anytime they damage property.  He was a nice guy.

My daughter’s birthday

Update – OK, this post went out early – not WordPress or Windows Live Writer’s fault though.  For some reason my computer had the wrong date – it thought today was tomorrow (the 28th) and I blindly believed it.  Since I work from home things like days of the week and dates aren’t something I track closely :)   In any case, the words will mean the same in 24 hours 😉

My daughter turns 17 today. I hope she has a wonderful day – but it is a school day, and we won’t be doing anything special for her birthday until this weekend.

But I will let her sleep in an extra half hour in the morning – and we’ll eat something she really likes for dinner.

At 17 though what kids really want is a) to be left alone and b) cash. I’ll give her a great deal of the former, and a little bit of the latter.

She is such a wonderful person (artistic, excellent student, cares about others) that I think my job here is nearly done. I’ve raised a decent human being. The fact I accomplished it both with her and her older brother makes me very, very happy.

This marks 6 years that I’ve had primary custody of my kids. Six very short years.

I’ve taught them a lot – and learn from them every day. Life is good 🙂

Counting the bits

I never had a really clean way to visualize my home/home office network usage before.  I had a very complex network with multiple sub-nets, dual routers, etc.

But as I explained last week, I reconfigured my network.  One of the advantages is that now all of my data – both home and home office all goes through one router (even though I have two cable modems on different networks).

This allows me to see the total data we’re moving around here.

So here is a picture from the last few days usage:

tomato You can click the image to make it larger.

Monday was a heavy lifting day on some rather large databases I needed to share.  And I was downloading some “free” music (really – not stealing it!) via BitTorrent.

But I like seeing how much data I am eating.  I’m sure it is more than the average Time Warner cable modem customer – after all, I have 14 PCs and 26 “Internet Enabled” devices here! In any case, it makes me feel better about the money I spend for my cable modems!

I can also see a daily graph of my data usage:



That huge spike in traffic at about 10 am shows when my son woke up, and started playing World of Warcraft (he has several level 90 characters – which I guess is maxed out).  Whatever.  Traffic drops off sharply at 5 as my kids go do whatever teenagers do.  And I took a nap 🙂

I can also use QoS (Quality of Service) settings to shape my network – to give some data types a higher priority than others.  I haven’t adjusted anything related to QoS yet – but it still shows me a pretty graph.  I plan on giving priority to email, browsing, and IM clients.  Then a lesser priority to my kid’s games, and a lower level to BitTorrent, Microsoft Update, etc.


So I am happy so far with the new setup.  It hasn’t needed any tweaking since I turned it on, and I haven’t had to reboot anything lately!

As I learn more about the software, I’ll share more.  The logging appears to be excellent, for example.  But I haven’t had a lot of time to dig into it.

Comcast Sucks

Sorry, but they do.  What honest company – what company that had nothing to hide and nothing to fear -would stoop to this level?

I find their actions repulsive.  And I am pleased I live in an area they do not service.

How big are the stakes in the so-called network neutrality debate now raging before Congress and federal regulators?

Consider this: One side in the debate actually went to the trouble of hiring people off the street to pack a Federal Communications Commission meeting yesterday—and effectively keep some of its opponents out of the room.

Broadband giant Comcast—the subject of the F.C.C. hearing on network neutrality at the Harvard Law School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts—acknowledged that it did exactly that.

Comcast F.C.C. Hearing Strategy –