Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Roads: Windber has too many

Windber has an "Excess Road" to Route 56:


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Word of the day: Vomitory

Penn State Live details some improvements at Beaver Stadium:

Penn State fans will see several significant upgrades at Beaver Stadium that have taken place during the off-season when they attend the season-opener against Indiana State on Sept. 3 (noon kick).

The most significant changes to the venerable facility include:

- Improved drainage in seating areas

Also in the East and West stands, vomitory ramps have been improved to allow for increased and easier access by ADA patrons to the new seating areas.
Fans will also notice significant changes on the North side of the stadium. The Section NF vomitory ramp has been modified with a gentler slope to permit ADA spectators to enter the North field level seats from Section NF, rather than the visiting team tunnel.

Now, I know that a lot of people drink too much at the games, and that has consequences. At last year’s Michigan State game, the guy next to me was removed because we were afraid he’d lose his lunch on our shoes.

But it never occurred to me that the stadium required special drainage channels for vomit.

It turns out that vomitory has a specialized meaning in stadium architecture.

Friday, August 26, 2011

GeograFAIL: It’s college football time!

BowlBus provides charter bus service from various cities to college football games. But you may want to double-check that the driver knows where he’s going.

BusFail

(Admittedly, last year’s Penn State @ Indiana game was played in Washington, DC, so maybe their planners just gave up after that.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Astonishingly forthright winemaking quote of the day:

Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards:

As with the garage wines of Bordeaux, the California cult wines are not a serious part of the fine wine industry.

The Spousal Unit and I were married 6 years ago (today!), and we’ve purchased wines from the 2005 vintage to drink on our anniversaries (out to 25 years, at least). Six bottles of the 2005 Ridge Monte Bello are the cornerstone of this collection. Because we purchased them on futures, we were able to attend the barrel tasting for the 2005.

Paul Draper, a national treasure of winemaking, was behind a table, pouring. And he was standing there alone, with nobody at the table talking to him. I asked him some dumb question about how the 2005 was likely to evolve in the barrel, and he replied graciously. I’m honored to have had a glass poured by him.

2005_Monte_Bello

Friday, August 19, 2011

From satellite to LTE for rural Internet access: Part 2

In Part 1, I discussed the shortcomings of WildBlue satellite Internet, and my plan for switching to Verizon Wireless 4G LTE upon deployment in my area.

Activation

The Pantech UML290 LTE USB modem arrived by two-day FedEx (no direct signature required) on schedule August 17, the day before LTE was scheduled to go live in my area. In fact, I had already heard reports that LTE was up and running, so I proceeded with activation on the 17th.

In the shipping box was a box containing the modem, with a USB extension cord and a driver CD. A SIM card was also included.

The instructions directed me to call a toll-free number to activate the modem. I did so, and entered the new mobile number associated with the modem, but I was flummoxed when the phone system asked for a password. My Verizon Wireless website password didn’t work. I stayed on the line for a human, who again asked me for my password. I asked for a hint (for example, they often suggest using your mother’s maiden name when setting up the password). She demurred. I verified my identity with my Social Security number, and she asked me for a new password. I gave her one, and she rejected it because it was more than 5 characters in length.

That would have been a useful hint, lady.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From satellite to LTE for rural Internet access: Part 1

The starting point

The Spousal Unit and I moved to a 20-acre rural property near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, about four and a half years ago. There’s no cable or DSL service at our home, nor is the local wireless ISP an option, due to obscuration by terrain and foliage.

Consequently, our Internet access has been provided by WildBlue satellite Internet, which I consider a method of last resort. I’ll provide the numbers below, but satellite Internet access is slow, high-latency, expensive, and unreliable in bad weather. It also has low monthly data caps. These factors limit our ability to use the modern Internet:

  • Low speed: Slow downloads, no Netflix or other video streaming.
  • High latency (due to the travel time of light to and from geostationary orbit): No gaming, no voice or video conferencing (Skype, Facetime).
  • Small data caps: No Netflix or other video streaming, no digital software distribution (Steam, TechNet), no offsite backups. Care must be taken with podcasts, MP3 purchases, software updates, etc., to avoid exceeding the cap.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Great warranty service: Classic Accessories

About two years ago, we bought a Weber Genesis gas grill. At the same time, we bought a Weber grill cover, but when I got home, I saw that the reviews for the Weber cover weren’t great. I returned the Weber cover and bought a Classic Accessories medium BBQ cover, which was less expensive and had better reviews.

It was a perfect fit and looked good on our deck. For two years, we were completely happy with it. But this spring, when we moved the grill outside, we noticed that the fabric had become brittle, and it started tearing from normal handling.

I looked up the warranty information, expecting it to be a one-year warranty. To my pleasant surprise, it was a three-year warranty, so my cover was still eligible for replacement. But here’s the best part: Instead of having to pack up and return the damaged cover, costing me time and money, I could submit a claim simply by emailing the warranty form and a digital photograph of the damage. Outstanding!

That’s what I did, and two weeks later, I received a new grill cover. No hassle. I wish everyone would handle warranty claims this way.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

K-Cups for cats

I recently got the Spousal Unit a Keurig B40 coffee maker for her birthday. This machine uses single-serving K-Cup coffee cups. So far, we’re really enjoying the setup, and we’re drinking too much coffee due to the novelty. I’ll probably write up some more thoughts on the machine and system later.

This morning, however, we realized that the K-Cup system is currently lacking beverage options that appeal to our three cats. I decided to spend a dreary Sunday designing a few new flavors.

Donut Mouse

Before I retired, I loved stopping at my local Donut Mouse on the way to work. A dish of mellow coffee with cream and sugar, and a freshly killed mouse or two was the perfect start to my day. Now I can enjoy the same great taste at home! – Spider