Lightning is not your friend

When I got home tonight, things seemed a bit off, and I couldn’t figure it out to begin with. Pretty soon I realized that a lot of electronics were acting up. While a hard power reset fixed some of them, others (like our satellite receiver) didn’t recover so well. Given the storm we’d had, I decided to have a look around for a tree that had been struck. While I was out there, I noticed that one of our satellite dishes seemed to have bits hanging off of it. I know there was hail around here today so it could have been that instead.

After some resets, and digging, the comprehensive list of broken items in the house is listed below:

  • Dish Network Receiver – HDMI is toast, and even over the RF to the TV downstairs it appears that it’s getting no satellite signals
  • 5 port gigE switch – plug it in and no lights come on and it just gets hot
  • 2 ports in the other 5 port gigE switch – 1 port that is now dead was the Dish Receiver port
  • the WAN port on my FIOS router
  • the gigE port on my desktop

I had another 10/100 card to throw in the desktop, and it’s back up now. Playing port plugging got enough bits working downstairs. My openwrt router came up like a champ and got me back on the internet. So the damage amounts to about $100 worth of stuff I need to replace, plus whatever the story turns out to be with Dish (who is coming out of Thursday to do the service call). I’ll try to get some pictures up on the damage, and I really should get up on the roof to see if there is any other damage up there, but that’s going to require a day of not rain.

Strawberry Season

Susan is off at the farm right now picking our strawberry allocation for the week. The amounts get set daily, but it looks like due to the heat and fast rate of ripening, she’ll probably come back with a quart of the best tasting strawberries I’ve ever had.

Secor’s also just opened for early picking yesterday. We didn’t pick strawberries there last year, though we did pick 15 lbs of blueberries, which managed to last us the whole winter (we’ve still got a bunch we need to use up now). Susan’s pretty excited on hitting them up this weekend to get enough to jam and freeze.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Beacon Sloop Club does their Strawberry festival this Sunday. Hippies, strawberry short cake, chocolate covered strawberries, and strawberry shakes, always a good time. Susan and I ended up at the strawberry festival on our 2nd weekend of dating (6 years ago), so it has a special place in our hearts. Or maybe it’s just that Susan likes chocolate dipped strawberries so much.

And, the piece de resistance, is that we just got both an ice cream maker, and the ben & jerry’s ice cream book. There is nothing I love more than freshly made strawberry icecream with freshly picked strawberries. Our french vanilla experiment of last weekend went ok, but now that I’ve got my B&J book again (I had one in college when we made liquid nitrogen icecream), I’m much more excited for the output.

Update: Susan returned, the successful strawberry hunter, with 3 QUARTS, as the farm now has a policy where you can pay to pick extra quarts. Soooooooooo good on my cereal right now!


The beginning of my summer of popular non-fiction was started with Blink, on audio, that I finished a few weeks ago. Blink is about the way we make a lot of decisions at an unconscious level, some times for good, some times for bad. While I’d heard the “rss version” (i.e. the 1 paragraph synopsis), the book, as always, is way more nuanced than that. I’d highly recommend this book to others.

One of the things I found most interesting about Blink was changes done in police departments to prevent mistakes. It turns out, that once our heart rate goes above 145 beats per minute, we start to loose both rational thinking and motor coordination. Many of the police abuses in the last decade have come at the end of a high speed pursuit, which drives up adrenaline rates, and puts the people whose job it is to defend us into a state where their judgment is largely stripped away by biological constraints. It turns out that by banning high speed chases, and making officiers ride alone, so they need to stop and call for backup before approaching a scene, rates of mistakes and abuse go way down. It’s a simple structural change in the organization that benefits us all.

There are also great sections in there about reading faces, instinct over information overload in millitary war games, and the subtle biases that kept women out of many key roles in classical music until an unrelated circumstance caused blind auditions to be instituted. So many go things in this book, definitely check it out if you get a chance.

Software is Lettuce, not Gold

I’ve been listening to The World is Flat on audio book, as part of my summer run through of popular non fiction of the last couple of years. One phrase really struck me on the way home, which was the assessment by Brian Behlendorf that

“software is lettuce, not gold”

Software is both a commodity and perishable if not consumed in a timely manner. For the doubters out there, check out the ranks of abandoned software on some time. My proud collection of shirts from software companies that don’t exist any more is a less compelling, though more close to home, reminder of that fact.

Dubner, do some research next time.

I really enjoyed Freakonomics, as it provided a much more interesting look at the world. But I’m quite sad that Dubner posted this Chewbacca argument on local foods. Some how, the fact that he can’t make sherbert effectively, means that local foods don’t make sense.

The logic is flawed all over the place. From the fact that “my sherbert sucked, so locally grown food definitely isn’t tasty”, to the complete gloss over on nutrition (which has a USDA study behind it), to using meat production cost vs. transportation to say that producing anything locally has the same balance (think for a second that most apples sold in NY state come from China, when one of NY’s big crop exports is apples). It’s really a hack all around. It’s pretty much the classic “I’m sounding really smart, so don’t actually try to follow my logic” kind of post.

While there are some good arguments against localization of food production, Dubner doesn’t actually state any of them. There is also an assumption that behavioral patterns don’t change when you start localizing your food, and that you are still buying tomatoes in the winter. That really isn’t true. Even going back to store bought lettuce in November was depressing, as it’s really that much worse. Nothing that’s supposed to have as much flavor as a tomato is even bearable off season.

I do realize he’s not actually the economist part of the team, he’s just the writer. But it would be nice if he did some actual research before posting stuff like this. It’s just embarrassing. 🙂