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Sink Upgrades

2 min read

Our bathroom sink hardware was starting to show it's age. My faucet was leaking and a micro-hole had formed on the side of the faucet that streamed water about 4 feet away whenever the water was turned on. Therefore I changed out the faucets this weekened. Here is the old hardware:

Old Bathroom Facuet

I know, not too exciting. The process of removing this thing was a huge pain in the ass though. Maybe this is normal? The sunk is an undermount sink so there is only about 1.5 inches of space between the sink and the back wall. I could get no tools up there to loosen the nut holding the faucet in place. Futhermore, the channel lock pliers I had were a tiny bit too big to fit in the space to grab the nut holding the knobs in place.

I ended up making a second trip (first one was to get the new hardware) to buy a new channel lock plier and, hopefully, some kind of amazing gadget to get the main faucet to loosen up. As it turns out there was a cool tool there that said it was a universal sink faucet remover! It was a lie though because it was too small to fit around the nuts in this sink. However, I did find a great channel lock plier that was small enough to fit around the two nuts holding the knobs in place. Once I had those out I could start the loosening process of the facuet by grabbing the part over the sink and twisting it a couple times. Then I just had to get a helper to half turn the top while I wedged something in near the nut under the sink to hold the nut in place.

It took me about 5 hours in total to do the first of two sinks but that includes the time it took to go back to home depot and find the new tools. The second sink just took about 1.5 hours. Experience and having the right tools made a huge difference. Here is the finished product.

New Sink Hardware

The Flag of Hateful Traitors

4 min read

Plenty of people have shared their opinions on the rebel flag this week so I figured I'd chime in. I've never been a big fan of the flag and have always viewed it as a symbol of hatred and treason. Thus, you won't be surprised to find out I am glad various states have been removing the flag from their capital grounds. Ideally it would be removed from the Mississippi state flag as well.

While white people, on average, don't view the flag as a symbol of racism - it is one - or else 75% of all southern black people wouldn't disagree with them. It is, also, to me a symbol of treason. Everyone who fought under that banner fought against the US. People like Robert E. Lee, especially the leaders, were traitors. Lee was a graduate of West Point - and he took his knowledge and skills and used them to kill American soldiers. If you don't think Lee was a traitor let me share with you the official definition of treason from Article III Section 3 of the US Constitution:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

It is hard for me to imagine a good argument for keeping up a symbol for racism and traitorous behavior on a state capital ground. I also have a lot of trouble when I see state funds spent on memorials for the leaders of the confederate army. If any US Army General at any other point in history had betrayed his country and attacked it we would not have memorials for them paid for with tax dollars. It just wouldn't happen. I don't have a problem with misguided citizens spending their own money on memorials but I don't think our government should be doing anything to glorify people who fought to create a new country in order to preserve the institution of slavery.

I am told the flag is about Heritage but not Hate. Sadly, that is a confused romanticized ideal. The heritage of slavery is a heritage of hate. Our entire nation is guilty of the sins of slavery; we should be working to continue to fix the long shadow slavery cast on the nation instead of attempting to celebrate the flag. If you don't think the civil war was about slavery then you should read the various articles of secession the states filed. Here is South Carolinas; it's boring but worth the read you'll notice, however, that slavery is a pretty big topic through S. Carolina's reasoning for seceding.

However, there are some places where I think the recent rush to remove the flag doesn't make any sense. One such place is Gettysburg National Park. It is a park in Pennsylvania specifically set aside to educate people about the civil war; specifically the battle at Gettysburg. The confederate flag has historical context there and removing it from the gift store there makes no sense to me.

Likewise, the Apple App store removed all games that include the confederate flag - including civil war themed games (before re-instating some). That makes no sense and we risk censoring our own history by ignoring reality in order to make sure nobody is ever offended at the site of the flag. We need to be offended sometimes. We need to remember how badly we've screwed up in the past. We don't need to celebrate it but we certainly can't afford to forget it.

So go ahead and remove the flag from capitals, remove memorials glorifying traitors to our country, rename city streets and military bases. But don't remove the heritage of hate from our consciousnesses. The Civil War happened, Slavery happened, Jim Crow happened and we can't just sweep all of that under a rug and pretend it didn't.

Religious Freedom, Government Employees, and Same-Sex Marriage

3 min read

With the recent Supreme Court ruling stating that laws that prevent same-sex marriage are unconstitutional a new spate of attempts by various state's have been thrown up that are designed to "protect the religious freedom" of state employees while, conveniently also making it harder for same-sex couples to get married.

For example, some states have told their employees that they don't have to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples if they have a strong religious objection. These guidelines have been issued by state Attorney Generals or Governors. It seems, however, that these exemptions will fail even a cursory examination of their constitutionality.

When a county clerk or magistrate refuses to perform a legal service to a citizen they are refusing the service as an agent of the state. The state can not have a religious opinion - that is the cornerstone of protecting citizens religious liberties. If Sue Bailey, of Texas, is working as a clerk and she refuses to issue a marriage licenses on religious grounds she isn't acting as Sue she is acting as Texas.

I realize that Sue is now in a job that, when she took it, she didn't imagine she'd have to perform a task that she is morally opposed to. And I sympathize with her plight. However, if Sue is unable to fulfill her duties and the county doesn't have another clerk who can issue the license without burdening the requesting citizen then Sue needs to be replaced with a clerk who can do the job. The same goes with magistrates who are tasked with performing the marriage ceremony (although I'm not sure why the state provides marriage ceremonies - they provide no such pomp for other legal unions).

In the end I suspect that these guidelines and new laws being passed that excuse state employees from doing their job due to religious objections will be found as unconstitutional as the laws that prevented same-sex marriages from happening in the first place - and religious people should be glad when it happens.

Religion and government can not intermingle. The shortsightedness of the Christians who race to enact laws that "protect" their religious objections as agents of the state can be easily illustrated. Some sects of Islam have a real issue with a man talking to a married woman when her husband isn't present. Imagine Sue Bailey of Texas goes into the DMV to get her driver's license renewed but the clerk working refuses her service because he has a deeply held religious objection to interacting with a married woman. Sue would lose her mind that she was being subjected to "Sharia Law" in a "Christian Nation"

Sadly, we are going to see more and more of these religious protection laws enacted until they too make their way through the court and then in overwhelming majorities are found unconstitutional. I imagine even Justice Scalia won't side with the Christian conservative right.

My Code Blog

1 min read

I have a blog that is all about coding and technical stuff related to what I do for a living. Usually posts like my prior post on Atom would have been on that blog instead of this one.

I use github pages to host that blog in conjunction with Octopress - which is a Jekyll based blogging engine. However, something has happened to my system configuration on my windows computer (the one I use at work) that has made it so I can't create a new post or publish one using the standard rake commands. Thus, for the time being, my code blog is dead until I figure out a better solution.

Octopress 3 is on the horizon and will, hopefully, make it easier for me to manage Octopress on a windows computer but considering everything is done using Ruby I'm not super hopeful considering the majority of my ruby experiences on Windows have been less than stellar. I don't blame Ruby or Windows - it's just that those two communities don't seem to overlap as much as I might want.

Atom Text Editor and Cursor Displacement

1 min read

I have been having experiencing an odd behavior with Atom in that, sometimes, my visibile cursor within an editor buffer is not actually lined up with what I am editing. Thus, when I hit backspace, for example, the wrong character is deleted. It's a real confusing pain in the ass.

It turns out this was being caused by a problem in Atom when using certain fonts. I was using Hasklig which has some cool ligatures for things like === and =>. The Atom folks already know about the problem and have an issue created for it however, it isn't very clear when it will be fixed. So, for the time being, if you notice you are having this problem change out your font to something like consolas.

To make matters worse one of the settings I had in my user stylesheet to optimize for legibility exacerbated the problem. Thus, I needed to get rid of that style from the body element:

body {
  -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;
  //text-rendering: optimizeLegibility;
  -moz-osx-font-smoothing: grayscale;

No Excuses Indeed! Playing the Drums with No Arms

2 min read

My daughter, Shannon, had to read the book 'No Excuses' as part of her summer reading assignment for 9th grade English starting later this year. In the book the author, Kyle, talks about how he played football and wrestled while having no arms or legs. I was kind of confused at how you could grapple with no arms at all - but it turns out he has upper arms. I'm not pointing that out to diminish his accomplishment; it's amazing. You can see a photo of him wrestling here. Pretty bad-ass isn't it?

I was pretty awed by this guy. Then, today, my awe kind of got kicked up a notch (no pun intended). How could I be more awed? Well, today I learned about another armless man, Daniel Potts, who is a drummer. I knew people could do some incredible stuff with their feet before but Daniel showed me how incredibly agile someone can be with just their toes. This first video will show you his "stick trick".

Pretty awesome isn't it? He spins that stick super fast and always has perfect control of it. I was even more impressed by the casual way he tosses the stick up and catches it.

Here he is playing a cover; it's his most recent video (as of this posting) and is about the only way I would have ever embedded Britney Spears in my blog; at around 2:07 in the video in incorporates the stick toss trick.

I don't know anything about drumming - but clearly he is pretty good at it. NOTE: there is no bass drum even if you hear it. The bass drum is part of the original source track that he is accompanying. So far he hasn't been able to figure out a good solution for accessing a bass drum while he plays. However, some folks on reddit have been sharing some ideas. If you have a good idea jump in the fray and share it.

The problem with the Libertarian ethic

1 min read

Matt Bruening, in a recent blog post, hits the nail on the head when he discusses "The amusing case of Tech Libertarians" but I think the basic premise found in this passage can easily be extrapolated to the rest of society as well:

In some ways, the tech libertarian thing suffers from the exact same problem all myopic egotism suffers from: an inadequate appreciation for the giants we all stand on and how insignificant our personal contribution is relative to them. A 22-year-old techie that comes on to the scene today is standing on the tip of thousands of years of accumulated math knowledge, materials sciences, electricity breakthroughs, chip manufacturing breakthroughs, hardware innovations like integrated circuits, an entire library of software to both learn from and use, and of course hundreds of thousands of dollars of educational investments they had nothing to do with. Yet, the little bit they mix on top of all of that is enough to convince some they are truly Great Men of the John Galt variety.

Golfing.. It's Clearly Not My Sport

3 min read

I love to play golf - it's stupid mindless fun. However, I really suck at it.

Sure, sometimes I hit the ball very well - but most of the time the strike is somewhere between barely decent and downright horrendous. This past weekend is a perfect illustration of the point.

On 18 holes - par probably around 70 - I shot a 121. Normally I don't do quite that badly, I'm usually in the low 100's and I've been in the 90's a couple times but this 121 wasn't that big of an aberration; it was just me playing slightly worse than normal.

For example, on the 17th hole I had a great drive, a low draw that curled nicely into the fairway about 250 yards downrange. It felt great. From there I chipped the ball to just left of the green. Then I chipped the ball to just right of the green then back to the left, then barely on, then I putted, putted again, putted again and finally one more time for good measure. I went 250 yards in one shot and 120 yards or so in 7 more. Sure, this was one of my worst example holes - but it wasn't the worst (I shot 11 on one hole).

Yet I still play one or two times a year (part of my problem) and really enjoy the game; somewhat for the rare good shot (I made a 35 foot putt from the fringe to save a 7 on one hole) but mostly for the humorous moments (of which there are an abundance).

In fact, this past Saturday provided a great example. When we started to tee up for the 9th hole the sky opened and we were soaked to the bone in a sudden Appalachian deluge. Just as quickly as the rain came it left but by then the damage was done. My clubs and my glove were soaked by the time we got to the 10th tee. In the box I lined up my drive, carefully assumed my stance, adjusted my grip, and let rip a solid swing that should have helped my ball go about 220 yards after making contact with my 3 iron.

Instead the ball veered immediately to 10 o'clock position quickly followed by my club as it slipped out of my hands. The ball made it through the trees, over a net, and into a driving range. My club hit a tree about 30 feet up and played plinko all the way back down. If we weren't laughing I might have had time to worry I wouldn't see the club again.

In the end our threesome finished with scores of 98 (Joe), 103 (Dad), and 121 me. As you can see, golfing poorly runs in the family - which is probably why one of my two rounds each year is for fathers day.

The Time I Helped Save a Guy From Dying of a Heroin Overdose

7 min read

Every once in a while, at lunch, some of the guys from the office and I will go play a round of disc golf at Rotary Park. It's a nice park with two nice courses. Typically I don't really have much of a reason to interact with others there other than to help folks find a wayward disc.

Today, as the title of this post might suggest, was a bit different.

As we finished playing on the 7th hole I noticed a older SUV parked on the road near the basket. There was a couple in the vehicle and the lady had just screamed, something along the lines of "Fucking Idiot", at the guy. I figured it was a typical argument; a lot of people around here seem to like to have couple disputes in public. Noticing the scream I decided I'd walk around the truck and avoid dealing with them.

Once past the truck I just walked along to the tee box of the 8th hole and sat down while waiting on Mark and Gilbert. Gilbert had run into some difficulties on the last hole so I figured Mark was just waiting on Gilbert. Then I looked back and saw Mark stop and then turn around and walk away from me toward the truck with woman I had heard scream. At that point I was concerned that Gilbert had potentially looked at the people in the truck and the guy had decided to get chippy and was yelling at Gilbert so Mark would have walked back to make peace.

I figured I was going to have to go up there and help get this guy to calm down so I jogged up and saw Gilbert talking on his phone into the truck and Mark was looking pretty serious and walking away from the truck toward the main road the brings you into the park at that point, Rotary Road.

At this point someone told me the guy in the truck was overdosing from Heroin. I approached the truck so I could talk to the lady and so Gilbert could step back and have a clear communication with 911 dispatch. As soon as I got the truck I saw that things weren't looking good. The guy was barely gasping for breath and his face was rapidly passing blue into the range of purple. I told the lady we needed to get him out of the truck and onto his side as he'd have an easier time of breathing - plus if needed we could perform CPR when that time came. She was pretty freaked out so Gilbert asked the dispatch if we should get the guy out on his side and they said we should.

I then asked the lady if he had any needles in him still. She said no so I hoped the truck, grabbed the guy around his chest and under his arms and drug him most of the way out of the truck. As his legs cleared the vehicle though his feet wouldn't move. They were wedged under the gas and clutch. I pulled again but I couldn't get him to move at all so I laid him down and asked Gilbert to help me free his feet. Gilbert pulled on one but couldn't get it out at first so he had to sort of twist the foot to get it out from the clutch. Then I did the same to his other foot and had him freed. Then I dragged him the rest of the way from the truck and rolled him on his side while propping his head up a little to keep his neck level.

At this point two women came running over from a different part of the park saying they were nurses so I got up and figured I'd let the experts help him. They asked what happened and I told them he had OD'd. They split up and one on each side of him they seemed to take his pulse and claimed it was good - I was surprised because I had felt barely any pulse at all and Gilbert thought it was very slow and was skipping some beats.

Then as Gilbert was talking to the 911 people one of the nurses started to do light chest compressions the guy and even started mouth to mouth. It honestly didn't make a lot of sense because they were still saying he had a strong pulse. The 911 dispatcher told them to stop with the CPR if his heart was still beating (which is what both Gilbert and I had thought).

Meanwhile there were two guys who were with the two "nurses". They came over and one of them told me that when the cops showed up I should say that I didn't know anything about the Heroin so that they suspect me. I told him that the cops was "the least of my worries" and that he should go talk to the girl who was with the guy dying at my feet. At that point I heard the ambulance siren but it sounded like it was coming into the wrong part of the park so I told Gilbert the names of the roads the Ambulance needed to take (we were at the back part of the park and it isn't accessible by car from the front).

The second guy then approached us and one of the "nurses" loudly said to him, "did you hide our stuff?" and the second guy told her to "shut the fuck up." I rolled me eyes and reminded them we were on the phone with 911 and pointed at the guy lying on the road who was far less blue at this point.

Then I heard Mark yelling something at me so I jogged over to him to hear what he had to say.

When I got to him he said I should get the license plate number of the truck the four newcomers were in. He thought they were probably involved. I said I'd take a photo of it when they drove by me. Just then the ambulance started to approach us so I turned back to jog back to the "patient" and the other four people were already in their truck and the truck was driving away at a high speed down a side street.

By the time I got back to the guy he was on his back again and was looking a little bluer so I turned him on his side again and held his head and rubbed his chest a bit while the EMTs unloaded their ambulances and got their gloves on. Once the two real professionals were ready I got out of the way.

Along with the ambulance two police vehicles had arrived and the main officer on the scene tried to talk to the girl and she initially started lying to him about the heroin and how she hadn't seen anything. She was a mess though and the cop was understandably incredulous. She then changed her story a couple times before admitting that she saw him shoot up but had been unable to get him to stop (when I had heard her screaming at him she'd said, "Stop you fucking idiot!"

It turns out the girl had just come to the park with him after they had left her OB-GYN where she had finished an ultrasound.

The officer asked us who took the guy out of the truck and I admitted I had done so. He said, "thanks - you guys saved his life." Then he took my contact information and told us that he sees ten heroin cases a day in Huntington. After we were done he told us we could go so I looked back in on the guy - he was looking much better thanks to the EMTs pumping oxygen into him and after having given him an injection of something.

Then we played the rest of our round of Disc Golf.

NOTE: Honestly, if Gilbert and Mark hadn't turned around to help them in the first place I never would have noticed the guy was dying. Thankfully, both of them thought they might need help and were going to offer to call 911.