Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving Woes

The Berenstain Bears' Moving Day (First Time Books(R))I took a day off work this week to do something unexpected. Yikes, taking a day off work was unexpected enough. One of the guys I work with accepted a new job offer and was moving across the country. He had scheduled a U Haul and I offered to help him move his spartan belongings from his third story apartment and help pack it in the U Haul trailer for him. I had no idea that a Queen size bed fits so perfectly inside a 5'x8' trailer. 

Alas, there was one incident worth remembering for future moves. Some of the boxes were standard weight, the dishes were understandably heavy, and yet other boxes were surprisingly light. The most prized possession was the box of computers. It also turned out to be one of the heaviest - and unfortunately, happened to be the one box that was dropped.

The takeaway lessons - Don't put all your eggs in one basket, and secondly, don't over pack your boxes. When you are moving, things are going to get disorganized anyways, so don't try so hard to put all of the same thing in one box. Diversify. Put some soft, light stuff in with your fragile, or heavy and expensive equipment. Packing it all together, two desktop computers in this case, causes unnecessary risk from the added weight and from single points of failure.

Pioneer Packing #N10 10LB Newsprint PaperI did notice that there was a package of packing paper on the counter, so hopefully, it was used in abundance. Packing paper is great for protecting your valuables in creating a crush zone around your items.

Disclaimer: I really like the Berenstain Bears Books and I don't know what kind of paper that is, but the stuff I used, looked like it, and it's worth it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quotable Quotes: Phantom

Phantom: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 2 (Sword of Truth, Book 10)These are the Quotable Quotes that I found very interesting or intriguing or inspiring while reading Phantom by Terry Goodkind, the 10th book in the Sword of Truth Series.

Richard is explaining to Zed and Nicci how he could understand the emblems of the Chainfire spell and brought up the amulet he wore which held symbolic representation of the way of the primary edict.
"It means only one thing, and everything: cut. Once committed to fight, cut. Everything else is secondary. Cut. That is your duty, your purpose, your hunger. There is no rule more important, no commitment that overrides that one: cut.
"Cut from the void, not from bewilderment. Cut the enemy as quickly and directly as possible. Cut with certainty. Cut decisively, resolutely, Cut into his strength. Flow through the gaps in his guard. Cut him. Cut him down utterly. Don't allow him a breath. Crush him. Cut him without mercy to the depths of his spirit."
US Hardcover, page 92

Nicci describing how the Old World was subjugated and why the people blindly follow along.
"And since faith is the indispensable glue that binds together their teetering tower of beliefs, faith eventually gives birth to brutality. Without brutality to enforce it, faith ends up being nothing more than a fanciful daydream,...."
US Hardcover, pg 158

Richard is commanding his army, the D'Haran army to wage a new kind of war in retaliation to the Imperial Order.
"It's true that innocent people - including children - will be hurt of killed. What is the alternative? Continuing to sacrifice good people out of fear of harming someone innocent? We are all innocent. Our children are all innocent. They are being harmed, now. The Order's rule will eventually harm everyone, including all those children in the Old World. The order will turn many of them into monsters. Many more people will die in the end if the Order wins.
"Moreover, the lives of the people in the Old World are not our responsibility, they are the Order's responsibility. We did not start this war and attack them - they attacked us. Our only proper course of action is to end the war as swiftly as possible. This is the only way to do that. IN the end, this is the most humane thing we can do because in the end this well mean the least loss of life.
"We are defending our right to exist. If we succeed we will , as a consequence, help countless others to live free as well."
US Hardcover, page 266

Jagang is attempting to explain to Kahlan his view of life as a brutal contest.
'Kahlan knew that life could be brutal, but that such brutality did not define life or its purpose, and that the sexes were not rivals, but meant to share together in the work and joys of life.'
'To those like you it is,' she said. 'That's one difference between you and me. I use violence only as a last resort, only when it's necessary to defend my life-my right to exist. You use brutality as a tool of fulfilling your desires, even your ordinary desires, because, except by force, you have nothing worthwhile to offer to exchange for what you want or need- and than includes women. You take, you do not earn.'
US Hardcover, pg 469

The introductory statement to The Book of Life reads: Those who have come here to hate should leave now, for in their hatred they only betray themselves.
"People who hate don't usually recognize that vile taint within themselves. They spew their hatred as righteous. That corruption is what makes them so evil - and so dangerous. They are able to do the most despicable things and think themselves heroes for having done them.
Chainfire Trilogy (Sword of Truth, Books 9-11)US Hardcover, pg 543

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Baking Soda

The many uses of Baking soda. You can do more than cook with it!

Do you have some old baking soda you don't want to cook with or is no longer useful at sucking in yucky odors in your fridge?
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (01170) 
Use it to clean off all the corrosion on your car battery terminals. One day I walked out to the parking lot after a long day's work - alas, my car would not start. I popped the hood and saw that my battery terminals were showing signs of excessive corrosion. My wife came to the rescue with some warm water and some baking soda. We dissolved the baking soda in the warm water and then slowly poured the mixture over my battery terminals. Once clean, a solid electrical connection was possible, and my car started right up.

Use it to kill mushrooms on your lawn. When we moved into our new house we discovered after an especially rainy spring that a huge patch of mushrooms had grown into our lawn. Apparently, an old tree had been cut down years ago, but the root system was still underground providing ample food for mushrooms. A little baking soda sprinkled on them took care of that problem.

Use it down your drain to eliminate smelly odors. Just like in your fridge, drop it down your drain and let it dissolve into the water in the trap to eliminate some odors and neutralize any acidic decomposition.

Disclaimer: I use Arm & Hammer Baking Soda products like the one pictured.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Handling Bulk Purchases

It is generally accepted that buying in bulk will help you save money on your grocery bill. However, if the quantities are so large that they are cumbersome, you might end up losing money in the long run. Here's a few tips on how I handle bulk items.

Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 51-Ounce BottleOlive oil. Buy this heart healthy food in a nice large can - and then what? Who wants to drag out a gallon can when they just need to measure out a tablespoon of oil? And who really measures anyways?
My trick - save your syrup bottle, wash it out, and make it your new oil dispenser. It's just the right size, and a little squeeze of oil in the pan is all you need. If you do not like the old syrup bottle idea - then a nice glass oil dispenser might be what you are looking for.

Disclaimer: The above picture is for reference only and is not the brand I use.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SimCity2000: Screen Shots and Building Tips

SimCity 2000: CD CollectionFeeling a bit nostalgic, I busted out my copy of SimCity 2000 and DosBox and went to work as the mayor of a thriving metropolis. But it wasn't a metropolis right away. I built this city, slowly, from the ground up. I was surprised that I had forgotten some of the intricate details and strategies for building a successful city. However, these mistakes only set me back a couple of decades of development as I waited for my coffers to refill. 
So, just for fun, here are a few screen shots of my city as it grew throughout the years. Enjoy!

"Commerce needs connections."  I kept getting this message until I realized what it meant. The commercial sector needed a way to do business with the world outside of my immediate city. Building roads that extend to to the neighboring cities is one way of connecting your city to the outside world. Additionally, building seaports and airports will also do the trick. Another tip regarding ports - they need roads and power like any other zone - however, unlike residential, commercial, and industrial zones, do not stretch power lines across the available squares to speed up development. The power lines actually hinder growth at ports. So, only stretch the power lines across the road in a few places and let the ports grow from there.

Your sims need to travel. You can use the query tool to check on how much traffic a section of roadway is getting. Add subways and rails, or build a complete highway system with on ramps and off ramps. The bus system, however, is one of the most effective at moving your sims along. This allows them to travel further distances and reduces pollution. Sims will only attempt to travel so far. They need to be able to reach each of the different zones. They need to live and go to work and go shopping. The better the transportation infrastructure, the further they can travel and the more valuable the zoning arrangement will be. Remember, this game is all about developing the most expensive real estate because property taxes are what fill your coffers at year's end.

As property values increase, you will notice the building types to look cleaner and crisper. Use the query tool to view each property and its characteristics.

Hydroelectric power is the overall cheapest method to power your city. Every other power plant looks cooler, is more expensive per megawatt, may produce lots of pollution, and also has the expensive requirement of needing to be replaced after every 50 years. Hydro is also nice because it can fit in nicely where ever you have a slope with water to build it on. While this is not very realistic sometimes, it also has the added advantage of spreading out your power supply. During an earthquake, any number of buildings could be lost - and if one of them happens to be a costly power plant - your city could be without power while you try to recover from the wreckage. Disasters are the primary reason it is recommended that your power and water grids be as interconnected as possible. In the event of a disruption on one block, power can still be rerouted around the problem center. Take the time and place extra power lines around the block.

Another trick I remembered was how well water pumps perform based on their location. The amount of water each pump can produce is directly dependent upon the number of fresh water squares that are adjacent to it. That is why most of my water pumps are sitting next to my hydroelectric dams - it increases their output tremendously. One adjacent square of fresh water will increase output by nearly 50%. This will ultimately help reduce the number of water pumps you need to quench your thirsty city.

The military will come knocking on your door when your population reaches 60,000 residents. Apparently, you need to have a pretty hilly terrain in order to get the elusive Army base. They are useful when you have a disaster because they are additional units to deploy to assist your police or firefighters in containing riots and fires and whatnot.

The SimCity BoxIf you do not want to play the original SC2000 inside of DosBox - you can pick up SimCity4 along with its expansion and a few other games in the SimCity Box. I have been wanting this latest version for some time. If you have it and have played both, please share your comments below.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Microsoft Office Update Fields

Do you need to update all the fields in your Microsoft Office Word document when you don't have a table of contents?

Microsoft Word 2010CTRL+A to select all text and then hit F9. 

It will then update all your fields instead of having to right click and select "Update field" for each one individually. 

Do a quick search for any errors, for example, "Error! Reference source not found.

It may be helpful to save right before you do this so you can open up the last saved state and compare if you suddenly find yourself scratching your head wondering where a reference link was supposed to be pointing towards.


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