I’m back, baby!

Or maybe ‘Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology…Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.’

All told it took about 48 hours to complete (no, not straight through), but we’re now running 64-bit Ubuntu 9.10 on a new AMD Athlon II 620 (quad 2.6GHz core).  That should make wordpress super fast! <sarcasm intended>.

I’m back, baby! </George Costanza>

Or maybe ‘Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology…Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.’

All told it took about 48 hours to complete (no, not straight through), but we’re now running 64-bit Ubuntu 9.10 on a new AMD Athlon II 620 (quad 2.6GHz core).  That should make wordpress super fast! <sarcasm intended>.

1888

I was curious just how old our Evanston, IL home is, so last week I visited the Evanston Historical Society.  Checking the Sanborn fire insurance maps, the house at 933 Sherman Avenue dates back to at least 1899 (seen here) and the house at 931 Sherman Ave dates to between 1909 and 1920.  City assessment records show residents going back to 1894, and an assessment done in 1961 shows a property age of 73 years, putting the home at around 1888. I definitely believe that because when running speaker wire through the walls I came across an old newspaper clipping advertising a cure-all tonic “as seen at the 1893 World’s Fair“.

I copied a number of documents, but haven’t had time to fully analyze the property history; however, I’ll update as I figure out more.  Sadly, Evanston achitectural blueprints only go back to 1895, so the city doesn’t have our original floor plan on file, and the historical society doesn’t have any photos of our block.  I’ve posted the relevant Sanborn Maps and other clippings in the gallery.

Virginia as the Election Bellweather

It’s been 44 years since Virginia elected a Democrat to the white house. Yet almost every poll has it squarely in the Democrat column. So either the polling methods are wrong, or there has been a vast voter shift in the last few years.

I predict Virginia will be the bellweather for this election. If Virginia turns blue, it’s a sure sign of a change in voter sentiment. In that case, any races which Kerry lost in 2004 (but were considered “close”) will almost certainly go Democrat. On the other hand, if Virginia stays red, it’s an equally sure sign the polling methodology overall is completely flawed. In that case, every previously red state is up for grabs for McCain.

Sunlawn Reel-Mowers’ Reel-Bad Customer Service

Last June, I sold our gas-powered mower and bought a manual reel mower. Our yard is small, and without a shed or garage I didn’t have any place to keep the gas mower, so it seemed like a great fit. I ended up buying the 16″ Sunlawn LMM40. The big sell to me was blades which rarely need sharpening. After one season they’re still sharp, so I guess that’s good.

Last week when I mowed for (hopefully) the last time this year, I noticed the blades didn’t want to engage properly. The mower has a 2 year warranty, so I tried to contact Sunlawn through their website. Both e-mail addresses bounced and there is no phone number. Fortunately I had purchased it through Reel Mowers USA, and they have agreed to send me the parts.

I definitely appreciate Reel Mowers USA honoring Sunlawn’s warranty, but based on the complete lack of contact methods, I would caution anyone out there from buying any of Sunlawn’s products.

Update:

It seems Sunlawn and Reel-Mowers-USA have both gone out of business.

I couldn’t find parts, but I managed to “fix” it.  Effectively this converts the “clutch” into a fixed gear.  Instead of spinning freely backwards (and forwards, when broken), this will lock the wheels to the blades.  I was worried it would make cutting awkward, but it works amazingly well.

If you’re a bit handy, here’s how:

  1. Set the mower on its side.
  2. Remove one wheels.  You’ll need to pop the plastic yellow caps off with a flat screwdrivers or knife, then remove the clips and the wheels.
  3. Slide off the hard plastic gear.
  4. Slide the small (1″x1″) metal plate out from the spline

I believe the problem is that the gear wears down slightly, and this metal clip no longer engages properly.  To “fix” it:

  1. Reinsert the metal plate at a slight angle
  2. Slide the hard plastic gear back on.  It should slide part way, but not completely, since you’ve (intentionally) misaligned the plate.  For good measure before I did this I cleaned the grease off the spline and applied a few drops of gorilla glue to the gear
  3. Tap the gear on with a hammer

Now the gear should be fixed to the spline.  Put it back together and repeat for the other side.

Good luck!