Sunday, 3 March 2013

09:11 – We’re getting near the end of all three series that we’re currently watching on Netflix streaming, so it’s time to start sampling a few of the 150+ other entries in our Netflix instant queue. One of the series that we’re about to finish is Rescue Me, Denis Leary’s program about FDNY firefighters. That series is excellent across the board: great writing and an excellent cast. There’s not a weak member in that cast, but Barbara and I agree that one of them stands out even among that superb group. Callie Thorne, who plays Sheila Keefe, is stunningly good. She can do more with a raised eyebrow than most accomplished actresses can do with a Shakespeare soliloquy. We’re looking forward to watching her in other series.

Speaking of excellent TV series, the Canadian series Heartland reaches a milestone this evening, when its 100th episode is broadcast. Heartland is only the second Canadian one-hour drama series ever to reach 100 episodes. It’s also, along with Rescue Me, one of very, very few series I’ve ever rated five stars on Netflix. Alas, Netflix has only the first two seasons and the first 14 of 18 episodes in series three.

Meanwhile, I’m currently running an experiment in the kitchen. The biology and life science kits include a packet of lima bean seeds. The other day, I was about to order 5 pounds (2.3 kilos) of lima bean seeds from one of my on-line vendors when I was struck by a cunning plan. Those vendors typically charge $25 plus shipping for 5 pounds of lima bean seeds. But I can get 5 pounds of dried baby lima beans at the supermarket for $8 or so. So when Barbara made a quick stop at the supermarket yesterday, she brought home a one-pound bag. I planted five of those seeds in a cup of vermiculite, which is now sitting in the dining room, where it gets lots of morning sun. I’ll keep an eye on them for the next week or ten days. If they germinate, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t, we’ll just use lima beans from the supermarket in the kits. The cost savings would be pretty minor, maybe $0.10 per kit, but we do everything we can to keep the price of our kits as low as possible.


10:49 – The house just resounded to my Quack of Triumph. (Being a Linux guy, I quack rather than roaring.) A few months ago, I noticed that our washing machine was agitating intermittently. I ordered a replacement agitator subassembly with dogs a couple months ago. I think it cost $14 or something like that. As it turns out, I could just have ordered four dogs for about $3, but I’m just as happy to have the new agitator subassembly installed. As Barbara said, that should last the remaining life of the machine. It took me all of five minutes to do the repair, and four minutes of that was finding the correct socket and a long enough extension for my 3/8″ ratchet.

Which got me to thinking of just how valuable the Internet is, even in invisible ways. I started by searching Google for something like “agitation problem” “whirlpool washing machine” and got a bunch of hits. Among those were several on YouTube, one of which illustrated the entire process of replacing the agitator subassembly on my exact model of washing machine. Then I used Google to find the correct part number and find a good price for it, and order it. The next day, it showed up. Of course, it’s been sitting on the dryer for a couple of months waiting for me to get a round tuit, but the point is that I could have discovered the problem one day and had it fixed the next. That’s probably as fast or faster than making a service call, and certainly a whole lot cheaper. Before the Internet became what it’s become, I could still have made the repair, but it would have taken me at least a couple hours to find out what part I needed, check to see if it was in stock locally, drive over and buy the part, and make the repair. Thanks to the Internet, this kind of efficiency happens millions of times a day in one way or another.