The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

The public…

| October 7, 2009

5 years ago, the people of the town of Providence, NY, voted down a proposed new centrally located fire station. After the vote, the public stated that they wanted the stations where they were.

Last night, the people NY voted down the proposed replacement fire station #1 (built about 100 yards away from the old one which is literally falling down) and renovation of station #2.

Please note that we are STILL in the running for a stimulus grant, for which we are REQUIRED to be ready to go to bid (which means the vote had to pass).

Because of this vote, if the federal government calls me tomorrow and says “here is $1.5 million for the new station”, I get to say “sorry, the town of Providence doesn’t want it”.

If we hadn’t gotten the grant, the cost to the average homeowner would be an additional $125 a year for 25 years.

I put several hundred hours into this over the past two years. Other folks have put in a lot more. We spent thousands dollars in engineering, environmental studies, lawyers’ fees, etc.

Meanwhile, you can take down the walls of station #1 by just tugging at the bricks.

Hell, forget the fire protection – $125 a year so that firefighters have a nice place to go and train is well worth it.

If the townspeople don’t care about us enough to vote for a $125 per year increase to have a new fire station, I don’t see why I should care about the town.


| July 6, 2009

Been busy, but still here.

I’ve updated the blog to WP 3.8.

I also had a bit of an overloaded meltdown a couple of weeks ago. Basically, the working theory was that we weren’t going to work on the house or do anything until after the potatoes went in (which happens about the second week of July). At least, this is what I thought. After the list got stupidly long, and it had to be done sooner, rather than later, I basically just stopped doing everything outside work, working on the house, and being a fire commissioner. This made Liz sad, because she was looking forward to brewing beer, and I had told her not to get me any brewing stuff for my birthday, since I would not have time to use it and it would just take up space. I think that put a bit of a point on it, so she agreed to let me set the pace of things, and not set deadlines, and try to slow down. So, theoretically, we’re actually going to be able to do things like brew beer and sit and read…

At least, once the peas are picked and the potatoes are in. We picked and processed about 4 gallons of peapods today, and we’ll do our first picking of garden peas later this week. The replacement tomato, pepper, squash, etc. plants are all in (next year we’ll wait until the second week of June to plant them).

Fire stuff continues to be stupidly busy, with 3 meetings last week, and while there right now aren’t any this week, I expect there to be 2 by the time the week is out.

As I mentioned, I’m basically not gaming. Essentially, I’m not going to schedule anything recurring until it’s been a year and I’ve actually had at least one night free a week for a year where I can just read and play video games. I’m still buying game books, as I tend to collect them, and like to just read them, etc.

I upgraded everything to Jaunty, fixing the XFCE bad window placement problem by giving new windows focus. While it is not ideal, I spent several days poking different window managers and basically being disappointed by them. KDE4 is too unstable, GNOME is not configurable enough, and FVWM would take too much work to make it not make my eyes bleed. E17 is too unstable (though I may try the official Jaunty builds)

There’s more, but I think I’m going to break here for tonight. I finished reading Watchmen (there’s a pile of other books I need to review, and will do once I unbury them in the mess which used to be my office), and am now on to V for Vendetta.

Oh, as of right now, I’m planning on hitting Carnage, and will likely be bringing some homebrew. Since it’s not a regularly schedule thing, I likely will be able to find the time. If anyone else is going, let me know – especially if you want me to run something.

Battletech, Zombies, House stuff, Time…

| April 26, 2009

  • Last weekend, Liz and I stopped by Zombie Planet. They have Battletech league which runs Thursdays, which I will likely start attending some time in the next month (I have meetings the next two Thursdays).
  • Because of the above, I picked up a copy of Battletech:Total Warfare. It’s a good thing that the pages are kind of glossy because it makes it easy to clean off the drool. I really like what they’ve done with this franchise, as well as with Shadowrun and I’m looking forward to Eclipse Phase. Anyway, specifically about Classic Battletech. See, in addition to the book, there’s lots of supporting stuff on the website, including:
    • PDFs of tables from the books which I can carve up and make my own reference cards
    • PDFs of blank record sheets.
    • CBT Miniatures rules as a free ancillary download.
  • As far as the book goes, I was pretty much blown away:
    • It is THE MOST gorgeous CBT book I’ve ever owned.
    • The full color treatment is wonderful.
    • $40? Come on – it’s worth $60. The Master Rules were $35 and were softcover and not nearly so nice.
  • I also found (finally) an open source mech generation program. It’s called Solaris Skunk Werks, it’s written in Java, and it produces Total Warfare style record sheets. I like it, and will try to find some time to hack on it. Apparently folks have been complaining about the startup time taking too long, so I suppose I’ll dig into code profiling Java programs to try and optimize it, if possible. There is also apparently MegaMekLab, which I haven’t looked at, but is another approach.
  • In an attempt to organize my life, and have the time to play things like Battletech and such, I’m starting to plan out my week for a regular schedule. The sad part is that once I did out how I wanted to spend my week, I realized that I really only have one day a week to devote to fire service stuff (and, to be honest, even that is more time than I want to devote to it, but that is another post, which involves talking about how I’m falling behind in my career, etc.). So, I’m going to end up taking a leave of absence from the department for the duration of me being a commissioner, because I really don’t have time to to both.
  • So, last weekend I got the compost pitched into a couple of fields and got them tilled in, transplanted some seedlings into individual containers, did a massive supply run (including $100+ worth of beer… see, I’m collecting bottles for homebrew, and one of the best ways to get bottles is to buy beer and then drink it!!). This weekend I serviced the tractor and got it mostly done, except I can’t seem to break the bolts free for them. So, I’m going to swing by my father in law’s house and borrow his big breaker bar, as well as a larger bore hose for the impact wrench (he thinks that my hose is too narrow so it can’t get the volume it needs to really put much power to it). This year, I’m going to be sure to put never-sieze on it. I also swept and mopped the house, which means that it’s vastly less yeechy. I still need to vacuum, but it’s progress.

Friday night is game night with Lizzy, so we set up terrain for Battletech / microarmor. I took pictures.

Making progress

| January 18, 2009

So, I finally feel like I'm getting things crossed off my list. Last weekend was very productive. Unfortunately, it started with me standing by in station for 5 hours while the southernly fire districts were dealing with the Charlton Tavern (plus adjacent house) burning to the ground which is pretty sad. I've lived here for two years and never gone there, and wanted to try it.

Came home and did a whole bunch of stuff. Made rolls, cooked food, worked on cleaning my office, helped Liz and her Dad put a French door into our dining room (it was a Christmas present), got the upstairs finally all cleaned up, moved to the downstairs. Oh, and I got the bottle opener (you know, the kind that they used to have on the sides of soda bottle machines) mounted on the cabinet above the garbage can. This might not seem to be a difficult thing, except that we decided to paint the raised red lettering purple to match the kitchen. So, I found the time to do that as well.

This weekend was similarly productive. My folks came up, there as the fire department banquet, I fiddled around with VMs, and Liz and I watched the first 8 episodes of How I Met Your Mother on DVD. That's quite a good show.

Now, I'm going to go try to finish up resurrecting new beetle PC, whose power supply blew up, so we replaced the original 1U PSU with an offboard AC to DC converter plus an onboard DC-DC board, which is a little nicer arrangement, and then clean up my office. Now that I have another set of shelves, I can have my reference shelves (computer books, etc.), my game book shelves (RPGs, Miniatures, etc.) and my hobby shelves (partially completed minis, terrain, etc.).

Fire apparatus safety

| November 14, 2008

This is what NOT to do.

Had to repost

| November 11, 2008

Thought it was super cute.

Also thanks to all who have served and continue to do so.

Shockwave – North Hollywood Robbery

| October 9, 2008

Yes, you friggin TV idiots. The bad men had rifles and rifles go through stuff. If you think AK's “high powered”, you should check out my father in law's .300 Wby mag.

This is why police need rifles.

And the dispatcher lady was on there saying “If the police say they're outgunned what do you do now?”

Uhm.. call the fire department and ask them to bring rifles? Seriously. We have pagers, and all of us have at least one proper rifle.


| July 27, 2008

So, Liz and I are working on rejiggering things in the kitchen…

[Wouldn't it be nice if the fridge was on this side of these cabinets?

Well, if we drop the cabinets, move the electrical and the water, we could do that quite easily. Would take an afternoon.

How about Sunday?

Works for me.]

… and I get toned out to a vehicle fire. We roll up, first truck on the scene (300 gallon + foam truck), and we can see the column of smoke 200 feet in the air from around the corner (it's not far, but there are trees in the way).

[ Well, I guess we don't have to worry about the gas tank going. ]

We roll up and the assistant chief is there, puts us where he wants us. I grab an air pack as he pulls and flakes hose out. About 30 seconds later, one of our ETAs shows up (1000 gal, no foam) and a Captain jumps out, gears up, and joins me on the hose. We put the car out.

[ What kind of car is that?

Must be a Saturn.

How do you know?

It's sitting in a puddle of plastic from where the body panels melted off.

Well, that makes sense, doesn't it?]

We put it out, roll up the scene, and I come back to finish working on the water for the automatic icemaker.

We're all finished with that, and I'm working on finishing up, putting back the ceiling panels, etc… and I fall off the ladder. This is not actually very bad, since it was a short ladder.

But, I fell into a drill, including the bit. A nice, 1″ paddle bit, with the half inch spike on the end. Caught it right in the fleshy part of the back of the leg, about 6″ above the ankle.

Liz bandaged it up for me, but man, that thing hurts.

I need to stop taking things so personally.

| July 13, 2008

Last night, I went to bed with a splitting headache. I had been out in the hot day (85 with 70% humidity) for about 6 hours picking peas and working in the yard, plus cooking at the grill and such. I had mild heat exhaustion. I knew it, and that the best treatment is hydration, air conditioning and rest.

Then the fire pager went off.

200 feet from my house, there was a motor vehicle accident. Female with severe facial lacerations, male with a partially severed foot.

I stood up and almost fell over because of the headache, then ran to the bathroom, because another symptom (diarrhea) was kicking in.

Because of the above, and the fact that even Liz had commented upon how I was not very lucid last night, I did not go to the scene. If I had more experience, I might have been able to “work through” it, but I am new to this and didn't want to be on an accident scene, at night, and not be fully there.

I turned off the pager because I didn't want to keep hearing the traffic, but we can hear the fire whistle from our house, and we only got toned out once.

About ten minutes later, the trucks started arriving, and they all came. This means that enough folks responded to drive them all, which means that even without me there, they probably had enough people.

It sounded like Galway ambulance responded too, which makes sense since they have the ALS (Advanced Life Support) rig.

About twenty minutes later, I heard the helicopters. Two of them. Medevac.

I don't like helicopters. Helicopter rides of this sort cost something absurd, like $50k. They only call them if it is serious. I don't like serious. I like people walking away from accidents, looking at their car and saying “I can't believe I walked away from that”.

Now, all of this is okay. I can handle that. The problem is, I should have been there. I shouldn't have been sick, I should have been able to respond, I should have been able to help those folks.

Intellectually, I understand that I was better off staying home, and that there were plenty of folks there. (The whole thing was over in an hour, so that is pretty good time.) I hope that they were able to get them to the hospital in time, and that a good plastic surgeon can sew up that poor woman's face, and that a good (whatever) kind of surgeon can reattach that fellow's foot.

I still can't shake this feeling (guilt?) that I should have been there.

I'm going to play video games now. My brother got me Destroy All Humans: Big Willy Unleashed for Wii.

Tonight at drill

| July 9, 2008

I drove one of the fire trucks.

This one wasn't too bad – F350 with 300 gallons of water and some big truck boxes, but it had a 5 speed manual, and I haven't driven stick in years, and even then, not in a large truck like this. It's a little different. The clutch is long and the throw on the shifter is long and you kind of have to feel around to make sure you have it.

The truck, I and everyone else are all in one piece, so it was a good night.