Monday, December 6, 2010

Thank you for ...

The kids all got their black belts in TKD a couple of weeks ago, and what do I find in the mailbox today if it isn't their "thank you" notes that they apparently wrote as part of that whole experience.

(Side note: they put them in the mail without any stamps. So the USPS happily returned them to the sender address - the kids' - which obviously happened to be the same as the actual destination. Either there's somebody at the USPS that goes "Aww, how cute, more clueless children in action", or I can see a gaping hole in the USPS business plan)

And I'm starting to see a pattern about this whole "thank you" business. I blogged about a similar event last year ("Parenting gold star (?)") where Celeste - under similar forced circumstances - was thanking us for being such great parents and not flushing their dead pets down the toilet.

This time around, she apparently had an even harder time to figure out what to thank us for. Because this is what she says: "Thank you for caring enough to feed me". Yes, there's more, but that's the opening line. Wow. We're really top-notch parents. Because we care just enough to feed our kids!

Apparently childhood in the Torvalds family is a tough affair. There's this constant nagging worry about the parents caring enough that the kids are being fed. Only to be occasionally overshadowed by the terror of dead pets being flushed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Early Halloween Guest

It's not the greatest picture ever taken in the history of man-kind, but that blurry thing inside the plastic container is a small cute bat being very angry at being caught. The rock face is the fireplace in the kids playroom.

You can kind of see the mouth and the three-inch-long fangs bared, ready to spill the blood of its captors. What you cannot hear is the furious roaring of its mighty mouth, but if you mentally visualize the old MGM Lion, you can kind of imagine what it didn't sound like.

I have no idea how it actually got into our house, but with a graceful flick of the red construction paper, I got it just barely out the door, and it flew away.

Bye bye, little bat.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"13744 supplied"

Yeah, I'm not talking about the number of burgers McD supplies each second or anything like that. No, I'm talking about our fully automatic coffee maker. I just did a cleaning cycle, and ended up looking up what the coffee count was.

I may have an addiction problem.

Now, admittedly this is a coffee maker that we've had for something like 8 years, but that's still 4.7 doubleshots of coffee supplied every day for those eight years (you can ask for a single or a double, and the counter just counts "events").

Ok, I lie. The coffee maker counts the different types of coffee it makes separately, and "only" about two thirds of the events are actually double-shots. But I make that up by still supporting Starbucks (and Peet's) enough to make up the difference. And Tove accounts for about half, so when I say that I have an addiction problem, I should probably have said "we".

So every time I see some piece of medical research saying that caffeine is good for you, I high-five myself. Because I'm going to live forever.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meanwhile, in Finland..

Being known as a Finn living in the US, sometimes people send me pointers to things Finnish.

Now, this weekend is obviously the Eurovision song contest (you all knew that, right?). And I expect Finland to do as well as it usually does ("Finland, nul point" - it's a national tradition!), and you can spend up to several minutes on youtube transfixed by the glory, or just start from the official home page.

But before that glorious tradition had time to take off, Tim Elliott sent me this gem of Finnish culture seen from the outside: the sauna championships.

What can I say? We have a sauna in our house. Even if we don't use it all that often, it's a Finnish thing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Pig Lover's Oath

I honor and love
Every pig that I see
For maybe one day
That pig will love me.

Our friendship with pigs
will always last
It doesn't matter
Whether it's slow or fast.

If we continue to hug
Every pig we can
Our love will grow
As large as this land.

So I promise to help
Every pig in defeat
For if it weren't for pigs
There would be no bacon to eat.

What can I say? Daniela (my middle one) is a real poet. It scans a bit oddly, but I think that falls solidly under the heading of "artistic".

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Silly grin

This is actually from last year (LCA in Tasmania), but Oscar, who took the picture, was diving around the world for many months and only made the pictures he took available to me the other day. I thought I had a good life, but Oscar and Annemarie clearly has this whole life thing figured out.

Those weedy sea-dragons are pretty cool. And they weren't the only cool thing there, if you get my meaning. Brrr. I prefer warm water diving.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Turst me, I know what I'm doing...

I'm probably moving my office to be above the garage.

In preparation for that, I did the whole "get CAT6 networking to the new location" thing, which has involved re-acquainting myself with our crawlspace. Spending my days crawling around, hoping I'm not going to encounter any dead mice (or live ones, for that matter).

I obviously already had cable going to various locations in the house, but the way that had happened, I'd done them one at a time, and my current office ended up being the hub for it all. And since I really wasn't going to re-route all the cables and make the new office be another hub of chaos, and I certainly wasn't going to leave the hub in what will become a kids bedroom, the above is the result.

Beautiful it ain't. It's a real media center enclosure, but the networking hubs that are meant for those things are overpriced and generally just pitiful 4-port 100Mbps switches with dubious firewall capabilities, so I'm just installing my own. And some day, I'll actually add the screws that hold the boxes where they are supposed to go, rather than just sitting in a pile on top of each other at the bottom of the box.

I haven't had the energy to fix the telephone wiring. As you can see, I now have the header for getting that particular mess sorted out too, but I'm not the person who created that particular "rat king" of cabling under our house in the first place. So I'm not feeling the need quite acutely enough to spend another few hours crawling around straightening out all that wiring. Same goes for TV cabling. You can kind of tell what part of the house wiring I actually care about...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Demons? Really?

So I was in Costco waiting for a car tire rotation and check yesterday. Wasting time, I blew three bucks on a slice of pizza and a sundae, and looked around for a place to sit down and pig out. The place was packed, and it was the middle of the day.

So I sat down next to this group of people, and realized that one reason it was busy was that apparently people use the Costco foodcourt as a lunch place. Fair enough. A couple of bucks gets you a long way there.

Sitting there, I can't but help overhear that it's apparently some religious discussion going on. Ok, so it's the local God Squad having their lunch meeting, no biggie. They're apparently talking about Africa, and about life and death decisions etc - at least one of them is a missionary.

And that's when it gets strange. One of them starts to seriously talk about praying demons away, and then after the prayer has driven the demon out of the person, you have to support the person so that the demon doesn't come back. And nobody laughs at him.

Seriously? What year is it again? I'm pretty sure they didn't have Costco foodcourts in the middle ages, but maybe there was some time warping going on.

What the hell is wrong with people?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy camper

I broke down and bought a Nexus One last week.

I got the original G1 phone from google when it came out, and I hardly ever used it. Why? I generally hate phones - they are irritating and disturb you as you work or read or whatever - and a cellphone to me is just an opportunity to be irritated wherever you are. Which is not a good thing.

At the same time I love the concept of having a phone that runs Linux, and I've had a number of them over the years (in addition to the G1, I had one of the early China-only Motorola Linux phones) etc. But my hatred of phones ends up resulting in me not really ever using them. The G1, for example, ended up being mostly used for playing Galaga and Solitaire on long flights, since I had almost no reason to carry it with me except when traveling.

But I have to admit, the Nexus One is a winner. I wasn't enthusiastic about buying a phone on the internet sight unseen, but the day it was reported that it finally had the pinch-to-zoom thing enabled, I decided to take the plunge. I've wanted to have a GPS unit for my car anyway, and I thought that google navigation might finally make a phone useful.

And it does. What a difference! I no longer feel like I'm dragging a phone with me "just in case" I would need to get in touch with somebody - now I'm having a useful (and admittedly pretty good-looking) gadget instead. The fact that you can use it as a phone too is kind of secondary.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Embroidery.. gaah

So for Christmas, Tove got this embroidery machine from Santa Claus. Since then, she's busily been filling the kids clothes with names, re-doing their Tae-Kwon-Do uniforms etc etc.

And why do I care? It turns out that all those embroidery machines can be extended with new patterns, and most of them - including the one Tove has - seem to use this special and pretty much undocumented "PES" format that was designed by Brother. So Tove has been buying embroidery patterns, but actually seeing them on the computer and transferring them to the sewing machine is a big pain.

So the above beautiful png file is what I did today. It's the result of me doing a thumbnailer for those PES files (and yes, "PES" stands for "PESky", I'm convinced), so that Tove can see the designs in her file manager as she moves them around.

I can read them (largely thanks to converting a php script written by Robert Heel - which in turn seems to be based on a GPL C# project from - into C code) and then drawing them and writing the result out as a png out with cairo. Sadly, it seems that the embroidery machine itself sometimes has a rather harder time. When uploading the designs to the machine, a number of them just say "Data Error", which is very annoying.

I wonder what those embroidery machine firmware people were thinking. No diagnostics, no nothing. If a design is too large for the hoop of the machine, the machine accepts it (no "Data Error"), but doesn't actually show or use the design - it just silently ignores it.

Whee. Undocumented formats, bad firmware, lack of sane error messages. And did I mention crazy interfaces? The embroidery machine itself shows up as a USB storage device when you connect it, except it for some reason takes about half a minute to calm down enough to be mounted. And forget about the embroidery card reader/writer - that one needs some magic USB driver too.

But hey, if somebody else is fighting with PES files, here's a pointer to 'pesconvert', my git source tree for that silly thumbnailer that created the above png. You'll need pnglib-devel and cairo-devel to compile it, but it's small and simple. And in case you wonder about the source PES file, it's Jan_heartsdelight.pes, a demonstration PES image from brother.