Archive for June, 2010

Oh, you need little teeny eyes

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

For reading little teeny print.

Related info here, as well as a generator.

Post title from the song.

Thinking must be too hard

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Yesterday evening, Marion asked me to replace the battery in one of her smoke detectors … it had started giving her the “low battery” beep, and she couldn’t manage it herself.

It turned out that I couldn’t do it, either, without the help of serious tools. A few months ago, she had her house painted. When they painted the ceiling, the workers apparently detached the removable part of the detector, painted the ceiling and the mount, and then reattached the main part of the detector without letting the paint dry. Really, they should have not painted the mount, but they did.

The first thing that happened was that I broke off the cover of the smoke detector while trying to unscrew it from the mount. I ended up using a sharp chisel to slice away the various parts of the locking mechanism, and now I have two further tasks – see if the painters did the same thing with her other smoke detectors, and then buy and install replacements.

Miscellany 8

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Airplane! was a remake – who knew?

The Japanese have extended their alphabet. As if there weren’t enough characters already.

The last veteran of The Great Escape has died. I remember reading Paul Brickhill’s book in high school, before I saw the movie.

Everyone talks about using good passwords, but everyone uses ‘password’ or their mother’s maiden name, rather than using something harder to guess.

A comparison of features between the Rosetta Stone and the iPad? I have to believe that there’s a larger market for the iPad, though.

I remember a song from sometime in the 60s with a line in the chorus that went, “Ride, ride, ride the wild surf!” Somehow, I don’t believe that this is what they were singing about.

The radio has finally wound down

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Dr. Demento is shutting down his radio show after this weekend. He’ll still be producing shows for the internet, but the days of hearing his show on radio are gone, unless you’re in the area of Amarillo this summer.

I first ran across Dr. Demento in the 1970s. At the time, I was on a submarine, and we were pretty isolated from the rest of the world when we were on patrol. For official entertainment, we had small library (a box of books) and weekly movies in the crew’s mess and the wardroom. Unofficial entertainment usually involved books and magazines you brought along yourself, or playing cards. Some sailors crocheted or hooked rugs.

One patrol, I found a couple of LPs produced by AFRTS, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. One held a recording of a Dr. Demento show. I was enraptured. If I’d had more free time (often in short availability at sea), I’d probably have worn it out. When we got back in port, I tracked down his show on radio and started listening.

When I got out of the Navy and came to Denver, I found his show on KBCO in Boulder. Their format has changed somewhat since then – they used to have yearly broadcasts of The Fourth Tower of Inverness and have a locally-produced thing called “Intervention Day” on April 1st, but at that time, the doctor was in at 7pm on Sunday evenings, IIRC. Later, they moved the show to midnight on Sunday. I couldn’t afford to stay up that late, so, for the most part, I stopped listening. Some time later, I realized that I could swap RCA plugs around to feed the stereo into the VCR, which would allow me to set up a programmed recording at the right time for his show. Since there was no video associated with the radio, I’d end up with Dr. Demento as the soundtrack for whatever show was on TV at the time. This usually meant Baywatch Nights, which added a level of surrealism to listening to the show.

Shortly after that, KBCO dropped Dr. Demento completely. I’ll admit that I kind of stopped looking for him then. I did sign up with this site, but don’t listen often. It’s good to know that the doctor is still in.

Via Slashdot.

Flinching from the whine of a near miss

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

There were two thick letters from the IRS in my mailbox this afternoon. Luckily, they were for a prior occupant – I get all sorts of bills, collection notices and the like for him and several others. I’m relieved that these were in that category.

I’m back

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I made no announcement when I left, but I left on vacation on the 28th, and returned home last Sunday. Unfortunately, I fell sick two days before we left Maui. I’m just now getting over it. I also sunburned the top of my head the first time we went snorkeling, which is now peeling and looks like THE WORST DANDRUFF IN THE WORLD!

In any case, we had a fine time – two nights and a day on Oahu, staying in Waikiki, followed by the rest of the week on Maui at a resort a little north of Lahaina. Major activities were snorkeling, walking around, and taking driving tours to the summit of Haleakala and along the Road to Hana.

I acquired a new (to me) ukulele on Oahu – I had wanted to visit a ukulele factory while we were there, because I figured that more of them were likely to be on Oahu than Maui (most of Hawaii has a small town/rural feel – Honolulu is the largest city in the state). I knew that several of them gave tours, but we only had Saturday on Oahu, so I figured I’d be lucky to find any factory open on the weekend. The only two factory tours I found listed in the guide books were for the Kamaka and Koaloha factories. Kamaka only provided tours during the week, which was a pity, because I own more than one Kamaka ukulele, but Koaloha was listed as having tours at 10am and 1pm on Saturday. Since it was between our hotel and Pearl Harbor, we decided to stop on our way to see the Arizona Memorial.

It took us a little while to find; some of the street signs for the side streets weren’t too noticeable. When we got there, the large sign was out by the street, but it wasn’t obvious that you had to make your way to the back of a deep parking lot between other buildings to get to the Koaloha facility. We made it, though, and we could see two men working on ukes through the screens. The guide book was wrong, though – there were no Saturday tours, and these guys were just trying to catch up a bit on the weekend. Ah, well.

So, we went on to Pearl Harbor and spent a few hours at the Memorial. The main museum there was closed for renovations, but the movie and the static displays around the area were well worth seeing. When we left, we decided (spur of the moment) to take the Likelike Highway over to Kaneohe Bay and travel back along the coast. While there, we came across this driveway display, which I couldn’t ignore:

Fresh Ukulele

That’s Kimo Tulley. His older brother, Tangi (pronounced “Tung-ee”) made the ukuleles – Tangi Ukuleles was started by him and their father, Jim. I actually wasn’t planning on buying a uke; I’m working again, but I’m not earning what I was before I was laid off. I couldn’t pass up the chance to try playing a few of them, though. I wasn’t interested in a six- or eight-string uke – I’ve got a six-string Kamaka tenor uke already. I narrowed down to the two I thought sounded best, which were on the back table … the mango concert uke on the left, and the koa tenor in the middle.

Fresh Ukulele - back table

The concert had loud and clear sound, but I decided that I liked the sound of the tenor better; it was sweeter. Marion thought that the tenor sounded best, also. I still wasn’t going to buy, but at the prices he was asking ($160 for the concert, and $280 for the tenor – I was expecting at least two or three times that), Marion told me I’d regret it if I didn’t buy it.

So I did, although we had to go to an ATM first, because we didn’t have that much cash between us. I had brought my $20 pawn shop “beater” uke on the trip, but I hardly touched it after that – the Tangi tenor sounds so much better. It’s got some wear and dings, but nothing significant. I think it was built in 2005 … there’s a date branded in the wood inside, but the last digit is a little blurred.

I like having striker plates both above and below the strings; sometimes I strum pretty hard, and that has an effect on the instrument. Actually, if you look at Willie Nelson’s guitar, you can see that he’s worn through part of it after so many years.


I think this is going to become my go-to ukulele. It looks and sounds beautiful, and it’s nice to have a good ukulele that has a good story associated with it.

New Tangi