Goal: Get rid of 100 things

So I guess the way it works is you spend 15min in a single room and see how much stuff you can get rid of. Started in the office.

1: Verizon bag with empty cell phone boxes
2: Torn up Mickey Mouse Santa Hat
3: Empty priority mail envelope
4: Empty Camera Flash box (Bonus! Found missing digicam)
5: A plastic cover thing we don’t remember what it goes to
6: Empty CD cases
7: Old Red Sox Schedules


Doll House

Santa brought a doll house kit last Xmas and I was recruited to build it.  I opened the box in March and just last week finished the outside of the house enough that I moved it up into my daughter’s room.  It came out better than I thought it would – but the number of hours to build it was about 3 times what I thought it would be.

The company that produced the kit has a forum where one user details this kit as a 50 hr job.  I’d estimate my time at well over 100 hrs.   I’d put in a couple 4-5hr sessions a week, then a few hours most Saturday mornings.

My advice to future doll house builders is to look at this as a hobby, not a goal.  I very much wanted the project to be done so I could spend the time on the thousands of other hobbies I have and didn’t allow myself the time to really enjoy the craft of creating a miniature house.  The end result will hopefully be an heirloom my kids pass on to their kids, and my daughter is already spending a lot of time playing with and decorating the interior.

There are a few more pictures of the building process in this facebook album.

Google earth sunset azimuth mapping

Google earth recently added a “heading” display to their measurement tool, which made me realize I could accurately map out where the sunset will happen from our house on a few important dates – The two solstices and the equinox. 


  1. Use this page to get the correct date’s for the solstices + equinox
  2. Use this page to calculate the azimuth (heading) for those dates for your house (I had to use Concord, NH: About 15 miles from my house).  After getting a “Rise/Set Noon Time” chart, change the columns to “Rise/Set time/Azimuth”
  3. Use the measurement tool to place a placemark/pin about 50 miles from my house at the correct headings.
  4. Use the Path tool to draw a line from my house to these place marks.  I got “pretty close” at first, then zoomed in and edited the paths to be very accurate.
  5. Modiy the paths to have 10pixel width and 50% opacity
  6. Delete the placemarks/pins

After doing this I can easily generate a view like this:

Home Astronomy

Also very kewl is being able to follow the lines out and see that (as observed) the sun sets directly between Monadnock Mnt. and Crotched Mnt. on Winter Solstice.


Very handy info to have for lining up things  sacrificial alters, pyramids, large ceremonial buildings and the like.

Piano Tuning

Had the piano tuned this week – and it is wonderful to have it playable again.  The past few months I would sit down to play and after a few min find something wrong with the tuning, or more often, a mechanical problem with the action. 

Most mechanical problems I can fix myself, and I had the action out of the piano preparing for such a repair.  Unfortunately I left the room and the children entered it.  I came back in to find them playing with it and one of the hammers was broken off it’s flange.  I repaired as best I could, but it was wiggly and would cause the key next to it to play – so the piano was basically un-playable – if you wanted a C5 in the song anyway.

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The piece of wood that part #6 screws into is what was broken.

Enter Mark Dierauf – of NH Pianos. He was able to fix the bad hammer + flange with a new pin – which required having about a dozen different sizes of pins – the tools to get them in and out of little tiny wood pieces – and the knowledge that a new pin would even solve the problem.  In the process he broke and fixed a few other things – and the result was 87 of the 88 keys working enough to be tuned, and the one broken one being the lowest key on the piano so not missed during regular play.

The very kewl part of this visit was the software that Mark uses called TuneLab – which runs on his windows cell phone.  Mark indicated it didn’t run on the iPhone yet because of Apple’s approval process holding up it’s release.  It would, however, run on the little netbook we have. 

The software is currently released as “nag ware” in that it is 100% useable but every once in a while it will freeze up for a couple of min.

So while Mark was tuning I was able to get it running and hopefully getmyself to a point where I can do a maintenance, or “Touch up” tune on the piano if a couple of keys go way out of whack before Mark visits again.

The software costs $340 – and I don’t think I’ll be buying it anytime soon as I’d only be using it to tune my piano.  It did get me thinking about the market for piano tuning software, and I didn’t realize that it’s a semi-popular interview question to ask, “How many piano tuners are there in the world?”  This page claims about 20k.

What caused me to blog about this though is the pleasant feeling I know get when I walk into the room with the piano – compared to the nagging frustration I had when it was broken and out of tune.  It is as if the house is more in harmony with the world then it was before.

Light bulb life span

We moved a year ago and in that time I think I’ve had to replace about 4 light bulbs in the new house.  In the old house I was replacing what seemed like 2 or 3 a month.  I’m not sure if it’s a property of the wiring, or some quality of service from the electric company. 

I don’t think I’ve had to replace a single CFL bulb in either house.

Sliding Doors

Our house has at least 10 sliding doors.  I think 2 of them work like they are supposed to.  Last night the sliding door on the shower decided to go off track and I can’t get it back on.  Found out the sliding door in the bedroom is letting mosquitos in.  I’m looking for something to replace all the sliding screen doors, as almost every one I’ve owned in my life has been problematic.