week in review

Sunday, March 26th, 2017 11:38 pm
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Driving into the parking lot at work on Monday, I noticed the low tire pressure warning light on. There was a nail in my tire. I got the hole plugged at the service station nearby, but they recommended getting the tire replaced as the hole was close to the edge. So I the next day, I got the tire replaced at the Toyota dealership. The price seemed reasonable; I was surprised by that. The "advisor" who handled my case was cool... very gender variant looking. At first she struck me as a butch lesbian. Then I wondered, why did I assume that? Maybe he was FTM. Or maybe they were non-binary like me. His/her/their business card was stapled to my receipt. They have a gender neutral name! Later I wondered if they staple their card to everyone's receipt, and if they were as tickled by my gender variance as I was by theirs. And I wondered if something they had jokingly said early on could be considered flirting.

The waiting room at the dealership had many noises. Two TV's on, tuned to different channels. Kids shrieking and crying. Music playing. Vending machines humming. I had brought my work laptop to do some work while waiting, which I did, but the noise was distracting and stressful. Next time, it would be good to bring my noise-cancelling headphones.

The little fig tree didn't react well to the snow we got a couple weeks ago. The leaves withered and dried up. The pink magnolia reacted similarly. I hope they recover.

On the way to work, another company has a row of trees by the street. I saw them pruning some of the larger trees one day. It was after the trees had already sprouted leaves. (They surely didn't expect to trees to sprout so early this year.) Now when I drive by, the ones that were pruned are all bare, while the other ones still have their pretty green leaves. I hope the pruned ones recover too.

Yesterday I washed the dogs.
While I had the hose unfurled, I also washed the green algae and dirt off of one side of the garage.

I went to Best Buy to see if they have any quiet/silent wired mice, as the scrollwheel on my mouse at work is messing up, even after me taking it apart and cleaning out the dust. I didn't see any particularly good ones at Best Buy, so I ordered 2 from Amazon that were specifically advertised as being quiet. Two, because the one looks good and practical, but the other one looks awesome and lights up. And maybe the way the scrollwheel is on the latter, I can turn it further in a single swipe. I'm sure I'll need another mouse anyway, sooner or later.

I replaced the clear glass lampshades on the ceiling fan light fixture in Qiao's den with some translucent/milky alabaster glass ones, to reduce the glare. I also bought 2 colored LED light-bulbs (green and pink - Qiao chose the colors) to put in the 2 sockets which face us when watching TV, to further reduce the glare, as even 40W bulb equivalents up there seem pretty bright. The colored bulbs, even though they are only 3W each!, are still brighter than I expected them to be.

I raked some of the yard. I washed clothes. I vacuumed, and washed dishes and dog collars. I cleaned the tub using 4 different cleaners, and it's still not as clean as I'd like (I wish I had written down how I got it so clean last time). The "tub grip" (gah, they've increased the price by 50%!) that I applied to the floor of the tub to keep it from being slippery is very good in that regards, but it traps more dirt than a smooth surface would. Ecover used to make a tub/tile cleaner that worked very good, but it's not sold here any more. I'm not sure if a similar one I found on Amazon has the same ingredients or not, but I may get it anyway to try. Because I want my darn tub to be spotless! Then again, I read something about using dish washing liquid mixed with vinegar, which I may try first.
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One of my CFL light-bulbs has been acting odd. When I turn the light switch on, the bulb comes on. But after about 30 seconds, it goes dark. I tried swapping its position with a different bulb, and it did the same thing in the new position.

I found this stackexchange page: Why would a CFL bulb dim by itself after 60 seconds? which suggests the bulb may be a hybrid halogen/CFL.
These bulbs have a halogen bulb inside the CFL swirl. The theory is that the halogen is used when the light is first turned on, providing instant light. The waste heat from the halogen bulb helps to warm the CFL, allowing it to reach full brightness quicker. The halogen is turned off after the CFL has warmed up...
once the CFL fails, you'll have a bulb that lights for a minute, then turns out on its own.

I don't remember buying any hybrid halogen CFLs, and that is something I think I'd remember. But sure enough, when I turn the bulb on, it gets bright in the middle, and you can see the darker shadows of the CFL swirl around the center brightness. The 2nd of this set (I originally bought a pair) still works normally, and I can see its CFL swirl brighten whereas the broken one's doesn't.

This article on the bulbs includes a photo of the packaging: GE Lighting to promote halogen-CFL hybrid bulb with Target.
The packaging (the front side, at least) doesn't mention anything about the bulb being a hybrid or containing a halogen bulb in addition to the CFL. So at least I wasn't inobservant when I bought these. I remember being drawn to them due to their having a smooth glass capsule around the CFL, similar to incandescents.


This article mentions something interesting that I hadn't heard before: Burned Out on CFLs? We Address the Real Issues and Solutions
projected CFL lifespans are based on a three-hour run time per start. In other words, during CFL testing, bulbs are cycled on for three hours and off for 20 minutes until half the samples have failed. If you turn them on frequently for less than three hours at a time — as I do in my bathroom — you’re in for a surprise.

"Incandescents are somewhat immune to the number of times you switch them on and off," Leslie says, "but the electrodes inside a CFL are stressed with each burst of starting voltage, and will eventually degrade and fail. With a CFL, the number of starts is the primary factor for determining how long it will last; the number of burning hours is secondary. A CFL rated at 10,000 hours in the three-hour-on standard test might last only 4,000 hours if left on for only 15 minutes per start."

So that may explain why in my experience too, CFL bulbs seem to have a much shorter life span than advertised.

My hybrid bulb that stopped working can't be older than 5 years, as it wasn't even available until Spring 2011. It may have even burned out a year or more ago, as I remember seeing it going out before, but as it kept "working" again, I thought it was just a bad connection or something.

LED light bulbs are also advertised as having long lifespans. I wonder if frequently turning them on and off reduces their lifespans too.

odds, ends

Sunday, June 26th, 2016 05:12 pm
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The house's side door has a motion-activated light fixture mounted by it. The lights always attracted moths and other flying insects. To prevent the bugs flying into the house, I always had to slip inside the door and shut it quickly, but sometimes moths still got in. Now I've replaced the two bulbs with LED bug light bulbs. It's amazing the difference that makes. Light! And yet absolutely no bugs flying around in the light! The light is yellow, but that's no problem. I should have done this years ago.


Qiao bought a set of lithium battery-powered yard tools. At first the hedge trimmer looked scary to me, with all the sharp teeth. But it is easy to use. So easy that I have to remind myself to be careful with it. It's so much easier than using clippers to cut individual stalks, especially for the jessamine bushes on the fence.


Cyber bank robberies... North Korea to blame?

North Korea Linked To $81 Million Bangladesh Bank Heist
Obama strikes back at North Korea

...or maybe not North Korea, exactly?
Vietnamese bank hit by cyber heist
North Korean Cyberhacking Redux: The Bank Heist Cases


The unstoppable march of the upward inflection?
High rising terminal
(aka "upspeak")

A lady was talking on TV a while back, and I wasn't interested in whatever she was talking about, but was fascinated by her manner of speech. Her sentences kept ending on a rising note, as if she was asking a question even though she wasn't. It was much more pronounced than the audio samples on the first link above. When I recently came across that page, I realized that maybe it wasn't a peculiarity to her, but a common way of speaking, where ever she was from.

Then I realized the similarity of that to another manner of speaking which at first struck me as odd. Some people insert phrases like "you know what I mean", "you get me", "you know what I'm saying?", "you know?" in the middle of each sentence and/or after each sentence. They don't necessarily pitch it as a question, nor even slow down waiting for feedback - it just seems to be how they are used to speaking.

The rising pitch is similar, in that the speaker sounds like they are asking the listener if they understand or agree with what is being said, except without adding any extra words in.

Then again, maybe that is just my biased impression of it, and not what is actually intended by the speakers.

Vocal fry register : Speaking in the lowest register of your voice, where it makes a creaky grating sound. I do that sometimes, and didn't realize there was a term for it.

Apparently there's been a lot of criticism of how young women speak these days.

From Upspeak To Vocal Fry: Are We 'Policing' Young Women's Voices?

From the audio samples given in that NPR broadcast and elsewhere, women using vocal fry in their speech sounds totally normal to me, and not bad. The upspeak can be a bit disconcerting to me, but not much so. That one lady I mentioned hearing speak on TV had a much more pronounced and unusual version of it, which is why it fascinated me so much. I wish I had written down who the speaker was.