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  1. This. From a person who thinks televisions house tiny cities. Still.

  2. We’ll Call It Even

    This weekend, I finished the bulk of a home-improvement project I swore I’d do this summer. The project was to install handrails on our front porch steps, so Julie’s mom (who walks with a cane due to a stroke) has something with which to brace herself when she comes over to our house. And while I was at it, I decided I’d replace the treads and risers, which were probably 60 years old and were definitely dry-rotted to kingdom come.

    The stairs themselves weren’t that hard. I tore everything out, replaced the stringers, and then decided (yeah, after I’d ripped everything apart, it’s a lifelong problem) that the stock I thought I’d use for the treads was too thick and looked like decking and I’d really prefer to match the historic/existing materials.

    So I paused, put the old treads back on the new stringers, and started calling lumber yards until I found a source for cypress treads of the right dimensions. Those arrived last week, I picked them up Saturday morning, and they were installed and looking pretty by Saturday afternoon.

    The handrails, though. Jesus. See, the handrails rise at a 38.5º angle to the ground. No big deal, I have a mitre saw, I can handle this. I had notched the newel posts myself and attached them to the stringers, and I nailed the tread-cutouts, but there were no posts at the top to attach the rails to, and the house is so old and bereft of right angles, it was a full-on hack job to figure out, well, everything about how to cut, assemble, and attach the handrails to my was-supposed-to-be-pretty-easy stairs and porch. Short of using some very futuristic 3D imaging device I don’t own or know how to operate (i.e., fantasy), there was no way for me to figure out the actual dimensions of the handrail assemblies in advance.

    So after having measured like 10 times, I took my best guess and started to cut. Then I screwed the spindles into the handrails and tried to fit them between the newel posts and the existing columns, and I’m telling you, your five-year-old could have come closer to having gotten it right with his or her eyes closed. So I cursed, and disassembled things, threw things, steamed, foamed, sketched, searched YouTube, tried to use a calculator, and sprouted some gray hairs, and tried again. And here’s the thing: After hours of intense frustration, I arrived at functional handrails, fitted effectively into the required spaces. I tinkered and hacked my way to an acceptable solution, but it was painful.

    There was one thing I’m convinced would have made this project far easier, if only I could have remembered it: 9th grade geometry. I’m sure there’s a theorem for what I was trying to figure out. It’s like I could smell it hiding behind me, tapping me on one shoulder then ducking quickly behind the other as I turned around to look.

    "Huh. Nothing there. I could have sworn I felt something."

    Or maybe there was a tool (besides me). I don’t know. I didn’t know. And that fucking ate me alive. I felt so indescribably stupid, I cannot even begin to tell you. And owing to my ridiculously outsized ego attachment to being not stupid, I felt desperately insecure, hopeless, and worthless as a man (which by the way is sexist because what do I think that only men are supposed to remember geometry, so there’s another thing I can hate myself for) and person and not even taking a break to go get ice cream helped.

    Life teaches us things, right? Things we can’t learn in school? Things that are supposedly more valuable? Like how to cope with having forgotten something you learned in school? BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN REAL NICE, THANKS A LOT, LIFE.

    Anyway, if you come over to my house and you want to compliment my new stairs, that would be fine. Just don’t ask me how I got the thingies to be parallel or whatever because the answer is I don’t know and I probably never will and if you agree not to measure angles, the beer’s on me until you can’t see straight, and we’ll look at my porch admiringly, and we’ll call it even.

  3. Should I Follow The Mocks?
  4. Where Did My Keyboard Shortcuts Go?

    Update: Thanks to Michael Leroux’s insanely good intuition and/or a coincidence and/or maybe a miracle, I’ve solved the problem originally posted about below. Here’s the link Michael sent me, to a blog post about the otherwise awesome SnagIt app and how it does actually hijack Adobe’s default keyboard shortcut for “Save for Web…”

    I was able to resolve the issue by quitting SnagIt. Simple. Done. I’ll leave this post in case others encounter the same dilemma. Declaring victory and moving on with my day.

    ——-

    I’m having a small problem that’s destroying my workflow, and I’m calling on the hive-mind to help resolve it.

    The problem is that, in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (CS6), the “Save for Web…” keyboard shortcut has stopped working. The command is still accessible from the File menu, and the keyboard shortcut hint still appears next to it, but that key-combination no longer invokes the command. This change is recent, was abrupt, and I do not know what might have caused it.

    image

    Online discussions suggest two different approaches to fixing this: First, they say, delete the preferences. If that doesn’t work, they say, try giving the command a custom keyboard shortcut. Problem is, I’ve tried both, to no avail.

    Deleting preferences (either plists or the “Illustrator Preferences” file, the second of which does contain references to saveForWeb) does nothing, and OSX System Preferences won’t let me create a keyboard shortcut for Adobe apps.

    image

    So, I’m stuck, and I’m hoping someone here has encountered and solved the same problem, and can save me the seemingly inevitable days of frustration otherwise ahead.

    Anyone?

  5. Imagine discovering a secret language spoken only online by a knowledgeable and learned few. Over a period of weeks, as you begin to tease out the meaning of this curious tongue and ponder its purpose, the language appears to shift in subtle but fantastic ways, remaking itself daily before your eyes. And just when you are poised to share your findings with the rest of the world, the entire thing vanishes.

    This fairly describes my roller coaster experience of curiosity, wonder and disappointment over the past few weeks, as I’ve worked alongside security researchers in an effort to understand how “lorem ipsum” — common placeholder text on countless Web sites — could be transformed into so many apparently geopolitical and startlingly modern phrases when translated from Latin to English using Google Translate.

  6. I just have so much hostility for Klout.

    I just have so much hostility for Klout.

  7. Pointing out that there are very distinct criteria she looks for in a partner, area woman Christine Maloof told reporters this week that the men she finds attractive tend to be tall, athletic, and have hurt her in the past.
  8. Shane Cyr and Wiki Sombreros, c. 1987.

    Shane Cyr and Wiki Sombreros, c. 1987.

  9. Seven Things

    1. My car needs an oil change. It has 6500 miles on it. For weeks, I’ve been wondering when it would need its first oil change. The manual doesn’t say anything, I logged onto a website that doesn’t say anything, nothing says anything. This weekend, an orange icon depicting a wrench lit up on my dashboard, and then there was a message declaring that my oil’s life has 15% remaining. 15% of what, exactly? What would it be like to have a little light in the dashboard that is the inside of my cranium, and it would light up when I had 15% remaining? I’d probably still wonder, “15% of what?” right up until the end. Probably not a good feature.
    2. The porch is still in shambles, because I had to get new treads custom-made, and that took some time. But it’s looking like Mars Lumber (yes, really) should have my custom-made cypress treads finished this week, and hopefully I’ll finish the porch-steps-replacement project while…
    3. Julie’s taking her niece to New York City this weekend. I’ve been to New York City for the weekend before. I hope they don’t blow all our money on oysters and strip clubs.
    4. I did all the plumbing and electrical wiring for our powder room. It was years ago, but it’s basically held up so that makes me a plumbing expert. Except the supply-line valve behind the sink occasionally springs a leak and I’m not sure about this but it looks like it might be coming from one of my expert sweat joints. In the past, the leak has fixed itself if I just left it alone and didn’t bother it for a while. We have really hard water. I think the water is hard enough to fix the leak. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it unless or until the baseboards or drywall in the powder room rot or mildew.
    5. Hard water is a capricious bitch though, and it’s no friend to dishwashers. You probably already knew this, but a dishwasher is basically a watertight chamber with a couple of racks and some spinning sprinklers attached to them. Hard water clogs the sprinkler holes over time, and then you think your dishwasher is a piece of shit, the door of which deserves to be slammed and kicked and cursed, until you realize a pipe cleaner and five minutes of your composed effort could have saved you hundreds of dollars in repair bills and countless loads of hand-washed dishes. But like I said, hard water is a capricious bitch. Fixes your leaky sweat joints, lands you and your dishwasher in the poor house.
    6. I have a migraine today, and it is several kinds of bad. Usually, my migraines consist of sensory sensitivity and visual impairment, but aren’t especially painful. Today, I’m fielding a relentless headache to boot, and my friend Tony who sits next to me at work and is an unconscious foot-tapper while he codes is playing the longest Pantera song you could imagine with his feet and while my heart really loves Tony my head is fucking dying up here and does anyone have about 1800mg of ibuprofen?
    7. Julie’s birthday was this weekend, and I just love her so dearly. I threw her a little party, for which her parents and her sister’s family came over, and the boys even put down their Minecraft for long enough to come eat ice cream and watch her open presents. She quit Facebook a few weeks ago, and it was interesting to see what it was like to celebrate a birthday without a stream of “happy birthday!” wishes arriving via cellphone. A few people even texted or called her! Like real friends!
    8. This space intentionally left blank, because mystery and potential.