All posts for the month December, 2006

We got up to a rather dull, overcast morning today but had an interesting sight in the yard to brighten things a little. Here is one of several pictures I took.


The youngster seems to be determined to stay ahead of Mom! I find it amazing that these animals know hunting season is over. We saw none of them in-season.

Today (Christmas Eve day) we awoke to a bright and sunny morning with a delicate coating of hoar frost on nearly everything. Just after sunrise the light on the frost was magical. These pictures don’t quite do the scene justice but I’ll post them anyway.

Our garden Gargoyle has a nose fuzzy with frost.


These pines are just south of the pond.


Not exactly a White Christmas but about as close as we are likely to get.

One of my pet peeves is that nowadays hardware and software manufacturers don’t provide paper manuals with their products. I’m the sort of person who likes to flip through the pages to find what I need to know, not load up some .pdf file and scroll through it. A while back I found a web site about binding your own books. Then, when I got the new printer, I realized I could easily take those inconvenient pdfs and turn them into real manuals.

I made a clamp similar to the one described in the web site, though I used some scraps of aluminum angle that I had lying around rather than wood. So far I’ve bound three different manuals with varying degrees of success.
I didn’t have paper the proper weight and size for a regular cover so I just used a strip of gaffer’s tape to cover the spine.

I’ve had a few problems but all the manuals are serviceable. First, it’s important to spread the glue evenly, otherwise it leaves bumps and irregularities on the spine. It’s possible to smooth this after the glue drys but it’s an extra step.

The second problem is having the glue soak in too far near the ends of the spine. This can be dealt with by not applying glue to that last 1/8 inch or so.

My third problem comes from the need to dampen the spine before applying the Gorilla Glue. For some types of paper this causes the spine to develop a wavy distortion. I haven’t found a cure for this yet but I think it may just require care in how much water I use.

All-in-all this has been a fun project an I’m please to have manuals I can thumb through in the fashion I’m used to. An added benefit is that when a manual gets worn, torn or tattered, I can just make a new one.

The weather here continues unseasonably warm. For the last several weeks we have generally had near record high temperatures and little precipitation. It feels more like October than December. There may be a chance of snow later this week but it could just as well be rain. If I were a betting man I’d give odds against snowball fights around here in the near future.

I grew up in Michigan where a Christmas without snow was rare, to say the least. Even here in Iowa a bit of white stuff by December 25 has been the rule rather than the exception. I’ve gotten so I look forward to the snow covering up the brown and empty fields.

So, is this Global Warming or just the random variation of weather? My guess is a little of each. I know it’s not possible to decide when only looking at a small part of the Earth over a short period of time, but I can’t avoid thinking we’ve been having weird weather here lately. In ten or twenty years we’ll know, if we are still around…

After going for a while without a laser printer, I finally broke down and bought an HP-LaserJet 1320. It has almost all of the features of the old HP4P with around four times the speed and built-in double-sided printing.


It has nearly the same footprint as the the old 4P but is approximately twice as tall. It seems quite a bit quieter though, obviously, I can’t compare them directly.

For the last day or so, I have been testing out many of the features of this new toy. I like the ability to print manuals (including its own) in “booklet” mode. This allows a 172 page manual to be printed on 43 letter sized sheets in proper order for binding. Now I’m learning how to bind these manuals (more on that in another post).

It will be interesting in the long run to see if this printer has anywhere near the reliability as the old one. On an interesting note, this one cost less that 40% of what the old one cost 13 years ago.

Technology marches on.

Today my faithful old HP4P LaserJet printer finally gave up the ghost after 13 years of steady use.


This printer has outlived five different computers, going back to the days of Windows 3.1 ! For the last few years I’ve been expecting it to die but nothing seemed to phase it. Finally, while printing out a copy of my son Steev’s novel today, it sucumbed to severe paper jamming and finally the feed mechanism froze up completely. I think I have to find out how to give it a Viking funeral.

Now I am starting to look for a replacement. I doubt I can find a printer that will last for another 13 years – they just don’t make them like they used to. Anyone want to recommend a similar printer that can come close to the service I got from this warhorse?

RIP old pal.