Stimulus check rebate calculator

There are a number of calculators out there for determining the rebate one can expect from the recently passed stimulus package, of course these all require you to give your income over to some website. Couple that with the pervasive tracking going on nowadays, you just told Facebook, Google and lord knows how many others your income from the last year, valuable information there. So I put together a spreadsheet that will give one an indication of how much the rebate will be, find it here:
Excel version
Numbers version
Just put your income into the appropriate cell in the first row and the rebate will show at the bottom.

SQRL Login

I was told that it is very easy to setup and turns out it is. Logging into this site via the SQRL protocol is now available. To find out more check out the information site at It really is quite amazing how it works and it does just work.

If you have an existing account, login as normal then go to the profile page and at them bottom there is a QR code where you can associate a SQRL login with the existing wordpress login. Next time you login just scan the scan code and you’re in.

Car update

So here I am quite a bit later and finally getting an update out here. Have to get better at this.

Update, the car is going quite well, crossed over 60000 miles a couple weeks ago and still showing 12 bars of capacity. I don’t expect that to last a lot longer though, when I look at LeafSpy it show the state of health as 88% and from I have heard the bars start going away at 85.

Have added a few knicks and dings to it, my fault pretty much, watch those narrow parking spaces.

Now the ride, I have been pleased with it. I know that many feel that a car should be able to get to 60 in about 2.2 seconds but I have never been so enamored of that kind of power, just get me up to speed without whining and I am good. That said, when starting from a stop it can get going pretty quickly, that instant torque is very nice. So, it is smooth ride and comfortable to sit in and easy to get in and out of.

One thing is for certain, for my daily driver I would never go back to a fossil fuel powered vehicle. Sure up front an electric costs more but over time the upkeep and “fueling” is much cheaper.

Now the next thing is too see about getting a level 2 charger installed at the house. That would help fair bit in making it more useful since charging a low battery to something useful can take quite a while with the supplied 120 volt charger, upwards of 12 hours.

New car

So the Odyssey van was starting to fail, transmission was failing and cost to repair was about 4 times the value of the car in good shape, time to update. I had been considering an electric vehicle for a while, looking around I found a used 2013 Nissan Leaf on sale at the dealer, a lease return. Took it for a spin and was satisfied with it, is in good shape, still shows all 12 capacity bars and a pretty good price. Took it home that weekend.

I have had the Leaf for a couple weeks now and I am quite happy with it. It easily gets from home to work and back again, even took a side trip the other day, no problems. I can plug in at work too so that helps in case I have to make a little longer drive after work.

Been reading about maintaining an electrical vehicle, a fair number of people are saying just charge to 100% every night, there won’t be any problems. Well, I set the timer to stop charging at 80%, this gives about 70 miles of range, more than enough for the day and the research does actually say that this is much better for battery health.

One drawback in not having an engine burning fossil fuels creating way more heat than is necessary is that the only way to generate heat is to use up the stored battery energy, run that too much and range is definitely affected. There is a useful feature on this model, when plugged in a timer can be set to heat up the interior at a specific time so when I head out on a cold day the cabin is warm. If I was programming the system I would have it maintain the temperature for a while if still plugged in instead of just heating it up and shutting off in case one is delayed.

Microsoft can’t get it right

All these years we figure Microsoft Windows performed poorly on other hardware was because of the many permutations of that it had to deal with, well the Surface Pro 3 I recently got at work dispels that notion. It’s biggest failing is that once the device goes into hibernation it never comes back out, have to force it to turn off and then boot it up again. This is to say the least a very annoying feature. I figure that this is hardware designed by Microsoft to run software designed by Microsoft and they still could not get it right.
Another unfortunate aspect is they bought into the dpi race, the resolution is so high for such a small display that the text renders very small, it can be increased but the real problem is when I need to remote into my desktop, the screen is practically unreadable with everything being so small.
One more thing the trackpad on their keyboard, well suffice it say that I have yet to see a trackpad on a PC that works well.

Google Chrome major fail

I have been happily using chrome for years now but today they have seen fit to break the application and send me back to Firefox.

I found that there are now some pages for which scrolling does not work correctly. Wheel scrolling can be fixed for some by adding an exception but that did not help with scrolling by dragging the scroll bar.

A support document said this happened when extensions were added to support touch. So in order to support a crappy desktop input method the large majority of users are going to have to suffer with a browser that just doesn’t work correctly for a method we have been using for literally 30 years (Happy Birthday Mac!)

Or, more likely say screw chrome and use Firefox which works.

Let’s get small

I took a look at this site on my phone and about the only response was ugh. So a quick search turned up this theme, Twenty Twelve, pretty simple but most important it comes through nicely on a small screen. I have been paying more attention to this after using my wsdot small screen site on my phone, it did make me happy. Eventually I will have a new site up which uses jQuery mobile, need to think of these things now a days, a lot browsing being done on these phones and such.

Work continues

Been too long since I updated what is happening, over the next week I will put up information about the new house and what we are up to. A quick synopsis, we are setup in a nice apartment, chosen a house plan, arranged financing, permits are issued and work has started. In the meantime, I notice that I have some drafts that I neglected to post earlier, will put those up to give a view of what was happening back in April.

Android frustrations

Happens every time, whenever I start thinking android is not that bad I need to actually do something with it. Tonight it was updates. My son got a Samsung galaxy tab 2 from a friend, I was helping him get it ready for a trip. Went into the software updates in settings and clicked update, it said something about registering the device and told me there was an update available, about 250 megs or so. Hm, well should let the happen and 10 minutes or so later it is done. But wait there is another update, this time 30 megs, it finishes and there is another 60 megs. I figure it done after all that, it reboots I hesitantly go into updates and check, and yes there is another one, this time 381 megs. Last one apparently, now the device is fully updated to the previous version of android (4.1). (Just for comparison my iPHone which is 4 generations old is running iOS 6, the latest version).

One more thing, each time, after getting permission to update it downloads the update and then brings up another screen asking to actually do the update which means you cannot leave it unattended. Have to keep checking it which is quite a distraction.

What a ridiculous way of doing updates, reminiscent of another OS that has been a plaque on us for more than 20 years (cough…Windows…cough). I guess this is what we can expect on our mobile devices, another OS that is widely used, difficult to maintain and rarely running the latest OS version. And a pain to update, ever install a new version of Windows? It can take a long time and multiple reboots before it is finally fully updated.

Just for comparison, I could get an iPhone which had not been updated for a long time and it will only take one update and it will be running the latest version it can support. Also, even if the device is somewhat older, say a 4 year old device (3GS) it will be updated to run the latest version of the firmware, sure there are functions that won’t be available since the device is older and won’t support them but it will be running the latest firmware and will able to run the latest apps.

A place to lay our heads

It has taken me a week to calm down enough to write about this, getting an apartment turned out to be far more difficult and stressful than I would have imagined. Typically the temporary housing people would take care of everything, we only need to sign the papers and wait for the furniture to be moved in. The management at Cambridge Court (CC) had other ideas. Talking with temp housing I got the impression that the mgmt had no intention of making things either quick or easy, this was my first warning.

The main constraint was that we had to be out of the hotel by noon. I loaded up a fair amount into the rental van (remember the accident, our van was in the shop till the afternoon) and headed over to CC. They informed me that I could not get a key or sign the lease until everyone was there, myself, my wife and son since he is over 18. No way, no go, we don’t give a damn about your situation there are no changes to how things are done. I ask, beg, cajole and get not a little irritated over this huge inconvenience. So, I have been denied entry and cannot empty the van in order to go back and bring the next load, the only option is to load up everything in the van so that I can get out of the hotel by the deadline, back to the hotel. Well, I managed to get everything in the van, been a long time since I could move everything in one car load. So I took my full van over to a dear friends house and stewed there for a few hours since the others would not be available until after 4.

When got back to CC at about 3:30 I was feeling a bit put off, irritated, stressed, ANGRY. That came across in my initial dealings with them, especially irritating that when the person came out of the office she did not have the lease documents. So, as I said I was angry and that feeling was coming across, this woman kept telling me I had to go outside and calm down before she would do anything, the hell with that, I just wanted to get this done. Calmed my self down and after asking her to bring out the lease about 10 times she finally gets down to business. I just wanted to get this done so that when the others arrived they just needed to sign and we could get settled in.

Also, one other thing is that the rental furniture was going to show up at around 4:30, it sure would be nice to have the keys so that we could open the door for them.

I get through the initial document and start on the next one when Kathleen arrives, she is pretty pissed off also and that feeling also comes across fairly strongly. Well, when the woman from CC tries to tell Kathleen what to do her response was somewhat unladylike at which point the CC manager says get out, the deal is off. Just as well, would not want to have to deal with these people for the next few months.

Hmm, well we are essentially homeless at this point but that did not last long. A friend had an extra room available where we could crash for a few days until the next place is arranged. (The previous day when things were looking they were stalling I ran off to a different apt complex, a much nicer (and friendlier) one, the place we should have gone to in the beginning.)

In the end we had a place to lay our heads, a nice little house where we could rest and recuperate from the days events.

The Day of Reckoning

The insurance inspectors show up and give their verdict.

I am long overdue for getting out an update, so here goes.

Thursday, the day of reckoning. This is the day when the insurance adjusters came out to assess the house and contents and make a final determination of what will be done. I did not know what they would say but it had been conjectured by three others who had come out to help with things that the house would be replaced. The structural inspector went through the entire structure and talked with the contractor and his final determination was just that, tear it down and build anew. Since we were insured as a stick built house they will pay to rebuild just that, what is yet to be determined is how much money will be available for that. I need to check my policy and see if it says anything about that, first need to find the darn thing in that smelly, noxious place, should be there somewhere.

One other thing on Thursday was the fire investigator came back and had with him a heating pad that looked almost exactly like the one that started all of this. Not sure if I should cast aspersions just yet, suffice it to say that if you are using a heating pad that it is unplugged after use every time.

I cannot believe this is happening

A couple people from Service master came out today to assess the contents of the house. In a nutshell if it is metal, ceramic or glass then generally the item is savable.
Plastic or pressboard stuff, forget about it. Important papers they can treat with ozone to neutralize the odor, or at least some of it. What will happen is they will come out and pack up everything, while doing they sort things into boxes for cleanable and not. We can then go through the boxes and decide if something cleanable is not needed and for the not cleanable items we can request an item be cleaned for a best effort clean, for instance sentimental items.

Now under the category of can it get any worse, well yes it can. We have been doing a lot of shopping (amazing how quickly one can spend a lot when most of the things you use everyday are no longer available). So that means a fair bit of driving around to different stores. Well, as we were heading back to the room in the afternoon we get sideswiped on Black Lake Blvd. This guy sitting at a red light in the lane that goes straight looks up and realizes the turn lane has a green light and even though taking that route is longer he has to get in turn lane so that he can be moving unlike those other losers who are sitting the red light. Problem is we were already in that lane and he turns right into us, puts his left rear door into our front fender. Minor damage, no effect to driving but it stills takes more than an hour for the police to respond and write up the incident. Of course, the car will need to go back to the shop now, sigh.

That pretty well killed the day for us, we had been planning on looking at an apartment, that did not happen. Kathleen was pretty shook up and decided to wait until Monday to return to the classroom she has been subbing in on long term basis.

Hopefully the universe is done with us, we are ready for it to turn its attention somewhere else.

The news does not improve

(I am writing this well after the fact but setting the publish date to when things happened.)

Frst Team checked things out today and declared that all the clothes which were exposed are a loss. Of course, this is everything hanging up in the closets which is generally our better stuff. Guess I get to go shopping, oh yippee. They will try to clean things which have sentimental importance to us, now we just have to sort through and decide what is important enough to spend that time and money on.

We did ask them take Grant’s tuxedo and do their best effort to clean it since he will need for the SOGO concert on Sunday, that will be back on Friday.

The previous night I had grabbed some clothes out of the dressers and brought them back to the room where ran them through two washings and then dried them. They were better but there was still some odor and since they were put in the drier that odor was not going to go away. Oh well, at least we something to wear, we were just going back into the house anyway, so might as well have stuff on we did not care much about.

Oh yeah, brought the car to the tire place, they have to order a new tire, should be here by Friday.

What a crappy to begin a week

(I am writing this well after the fact but setting the publish date to when things happened.)

So I get a call today at 1:07 from my younger boy who went home early from school because he was not feeling well. He tells me that I need to come home now because the house is on fire, my response is essentially what?? He eventually gets this point across and I head out to see what is going on. About 20 minutes later I get home and true enough the house was on fire. The fire department was there finishing up their job and I just walked around sort of stunned. I did have the presence of mind to turn off the power, kind of surprised the firemen had not done that yet seeing as how it was an electrical fire. I walk around trying to take this in, the house is ungodly mess and the smell of the smoke and soot is horrible, toxic, lots of burning plastic items and coats everything even getting inside drawers in rooms that hod closed doors.

The worst part though is poor Lucky, our German Sheppard was caught in it, the smoke and heat did him in, we buried him out back, will miss that dog.

Not having any idea of what to do I called the insurance company (Allstate) and they hit the ground running, the owner came out to assess things, they called out a contractor and brought on board two companies that clean items and linens.

The contractor, Cedar Crest Homes, is part owned by a neighbor of ours we have known for a number of years. He showed up pretty quick to see what was going on once he got the message on his phone, normally he stays in the office due a medical condition, but he was there for hours, staying even after we left to see that everything get boarded up.

The Allstate agent arranged with another company that handles temporary housing for us to stay at an extended stay place so we had somewhere to lay down that night, not that sleep came quickly or stuck around for long.

And the final thing for this day, the tire on my car developed a sizable bulge in the sidewall. I am lucky it did not blow out when on the highway. My father-in-law changed the tire with the spare for me so that I could get to the room in town.


This is too cool, just found out this weekend that Kathleen’s and mine wedding anniversary falls on same day as the first broadcast of the radio drama of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I could not think of a better thing to share that day with.

Who is the criminal here?

HSBC funds drug dealers and terrorists to the tune of many billions of dollars and they are fined, what, 1.9 billion? Sure a lot to you and me but to them, but for a company with assets of 2,721 billion dollars (that is 2.721 TRILLION dollars or 2,721,000,000,000) and a market cap of 201 billion dollars, it’s a slap on the wrist and of course none of the executives who signed off on this activity will ever see the inside of a court room let alone a jail cell.

Also let’s not forget about the banks and investment companies who were instrumental in crashing the worlds economy, something which we are still slowly recovering from. Did any of them face prosecutors? Hell no, they were given billions of dollars and the leaders of those organizations took millions in bonuses.

Last up, a guy downloads a lot of scientific journal articles intending to make them public, he faces the possibility of decades in prison and millions in fines. Well, this will never happen, he killed himself from the strain of facing this. The prosecutor now says that harsh of a sentence would never have happened, if that is the case then why did they put that sentence out there in the first place. Sure some journal companies would lose if these had been released but they would have continued on, there are always new journal articles coming out which they could keep under lock and key. Do wonder how much of the research these articles are based on was paid for with public funds? But that is another topic.

So which is worse, funding terrorists, destroying the economy or breaking into a wire room and downloading journal articles? Obviously, the last one since that is the only one where some type of prosecution was pursued.