Monday, September 24, 2012

New Vacuum

My present from my wife for Father's Day was a Miele Onyx vacuum.

Before the purchase I did quite a bit of research and comparisons.

My main complaint with our old Hoover Windtunnel was that using it for more than a few minutes made me sneezy.  Although Consumer Reports had recently written an article about vacuums they provided no information about how allergy-friendly the vacuums were.  Apparently this is difficult information to find because vacuum manufacturers are allowed to use language describing only the filter with disingenuous wording as if it describes the entire vacuum.

I thought I would get another bagless upright, but eventually got a with-a-bag canister.  The Miele was that astounding in being nice to my nose, very quiet, and doing a great job on our berber carpets and wood floors.

At our local Miele dealer, Viking, it did not cost as much as that website price linked above.  It was more than a low-end Hoover, but not nearly as much as a high-end vaccum.

(I had even looked at the absurdly expensive Rainbow vaccums but learned they cannot be used with fireplace ash.  I need to be able to vaccum downstairs, where we heat the house with wood!) 

With the Hoover I vacuumed as little as possible--which was still often because I have to keep our house free of possible gluten crumbs.  Now I vacuum almost daily and enjoy it.  The canister is well designed and easier to use than the old upright.  The air smells nicer after vacuuming.  Removing hair from the vacuum head is much easier.

Both boys like it too!  Here is a photo of Smiley helping.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sector Investing

As long as I'm writing today about what I have added to recent website I might as well mention my essay about Sector Investing.

The fact I have categorized it under "games" should hint about context.  But it might interest those family, friends, and other blog readers who are interested in economics.

Lots of Math

My Fall Term teaching Math 20 at LCC starts Tuesday night.

I just wrote about one big website project I have been working on during the past two years.  The other was changing my Math 20 lecture format from Powerpoint to website use.  I have blogged about this in June.  Spring Term it was incomplete.  Summer Term I saw it work very well.

Some of my students do not have a computer at home.  Most of this group can still see my lecture notes at home on a smart phone, but that is a tiny screen for real study.  So I print a copy of the notes for them.

During the Summer Term I printed the notes topic by topic, since I was still making minor edits.  For the new Fall Term I got copies of the entire thing to hand out the first day of class.  Before submitting the copy order to LCC's Printing and Graphics service I had to count the pages and was astounded that there were 103 of them.

No wonder blogging was light this year!

Sharing NAME with the World

Two years ago I wrote about having a "working draft" of the role-playing game I was then designing.  I shared it with the world, and later observed its web traffic.

Since then I have written almost nothing about my RPG design.  Primarily this is because "work on my game" and "blog" are both typing activities, and while caring for two young boys typing time is precious.  The days I make design progress I have no blogging time.

After lots of work, a new version of the game is ready to share with the world.  May I formally present Narrative Adventures Made Easy!

I am still in the middle of sharing NAME in the manner I did its predecessor.

I might also offer to do a slow paced (a few posts per day) play-by-forum at or somewhere similar.  I could quit hanging out at the Paizo forums to make time for that.  My wife and I play the game together when we can, but she never tries to break the game: I could benefit from someone noticing the options and combinations with which a min-max player or rules lawyer would take advantage.

Those two years of design have been a fascinating experience.  I tried to design the setting of the old game prayerfully but never heard anything from God.  So I saved the setting's religion for last, not wanting to touch that subject without guidance.  Finally, when everything else was well developed, the game design became something I was doing with God.  I heard lots of guidance about how the setting's religion should work--and it caused me to go back and start the setting over from scratch as well as to refine the game mechanics substantially.

A quick summary of the result is available as the second table of contents on the welcome page.  Each of the setting's "Powers" creates a kind of dungeon, hosts a kind of contest, empowers a kind of champion, bestows a kind of gift, and oversees a kind of monster.  The result is rich and self-consistent while providing an excuse for the existence of traditional fantasy RPG dungeons.

The NAME design is nowhere near done.  I have barely begun to write about the setting's hub, Arlinac Town.  I have lots of "art of playing RPGs" essays to revise and transfer over.  I have sample NPCs, items, and adventures in my head that need typing.  (The last saddens me.  I love reading other people's RPG adventures.  To have a few all written out on paper and play-tested with my wife but not yet online seems tragic.)

Yet even if unfinished it is solid, tested, and entertaining.  Enjoy!

(And know one reason my blog post count has more than halved during the past two years.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Please Pray for Family Health

Well, I had a fun idea for a blog post for tonight, but spent my time processing fifty e-mails instead.

My wife and two sons both have a cold.  I cannot afford to stay up late writing more here.

Tomorrow is another day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gluten-Free Licorice Flavored Snacks

Most licorice is made with wheat.

That means I do not get to eat licorice at home, since our house is a gluten-free zone.  But I have found two alternatives.

The first are licorice-flavored hard candies from Chateau D'Lanz.  These are great.  But since Market of Choice stopped selling them I have not had any in years.  (I do not like them quite enough to buy eight packs at that Amazon link.)

The second is licorice-flavored gum from Xylichew.  I do not like the taste of these as much as the hard candies, but they are better for my teeth.  And Market of Choice still sells them.

My Improving Eye Roundness

During the past five years my eyes have been getting rounder.

Vision prescriptions involve three measurements: sphere, cylinder, and axis.

(It sounds like a math test, doesn't it?)

My sphere measurement has remained constant at -0.75 which means I am slightly and unchangingly myopic.  I wear my glasses when driving or when I go to a movie.  My prescription is minor enough that even glass lenses are light and comfortable, so I always get glass lenses to avoid lens scratches.

My cylinder measurements have decreased, which means my eyes are getting rounder.  In 2007 they were -1.00 and -0.75 (right and left eye).  In 2009 they were -0.75 and -0.75.  Two weeks ago they were -0.5 and -0.5.

The axis measurements have also changed slightly: 172 and 22, then 164 and 20, then 165 and 20.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Another Happy New Year!

Happy High Holy Days!

It is almost sundown, but I have time to squeeze in a quick

L'shanah tovah tikatev(i) v'taihatem(i)!

This traditional Hebrew greeting for the High Holy Days means "For a good year may you be inscribed as sealed."

The alternate (i) endings are the grammatical form used when addressing women.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Rinsing a Memory Foam Mattress Topper

One nice change during the summer was how Smiley's aim improved.  I no longer need to check the toilet seat and nearby bathroom floor and each time I enter the bathroom.

But he did have an odd during-the-night accident a couple weeks ago.  No reason why.  He did not drink more the evening before, or have extra water to drink in bed, and he was sleeping in a pull-up.  Yet he flooded the pull-up and wet the bed.

Remember his bunk bed?  He was sleeping on the top bunk.  Both bunks have a memory foam mattress topper that he uses as a mattress (because it is thin, so the railing is effectively higher).  But on the top bunk we never put a plastic cover, since he had stopped wetting the bed before we let him sleep up top.

So I was up at 2:00 am helping Smiley, and then it took me a while to fall asleep as I worried how to clean a memory foam mattress topper.

I found tips on a couple websites.  But the cleaning was actually very trivial.  It turned out to be barely wet, and the day was very warm, so I just set it on the deck and rinsed the damp spot.  The water drained right through it, like rinsing a sponge.  The only "trick" was setting up a shade to keep it out of direct sunlight, which supposedly would harm it.

But even if clean-up was easy that time, we did order a second plastic cover to avoid any future problems.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Firefox Protection

According to my wife, Firefox is currently having trouble publishing an update that will successfully patch a security risk due to what embedded Java can do.

Time to disable Java in Firefox, at least for a while.

This issue prompted me to read a bit more about Ubuntu security, which recommended three Firefox add-ons that would benefit people who use the browser on any operating system.

Two I already use: NoScript and Adblock Plus.  I found out there is a third important one: BetterPrivacy, which blocks parts of Flash files that act like cookies (called LSOs).

Installing BetterPrivacy was easy and took only a few minutes.  After the install I needed to go to its option in the Tools menu, tell it which LSOs I do not want deleted, and then tell it to delete and protect from the rest.