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August 31, 2008

TechnoDolt™ World: Half-mute is brain-dead


TechnoDolt™-World is the newest bookofjoe feature, making its debut with this post.

This category will subsume stuff that's just plain stupid and annoying — preferably both.

Getting a little close to home there, eh, joe?

Go away.

This inaugural post highlights a "feature" I discovered only when I set up my new Toshiba 19" LCD TV this morning, to wit: "1/2 Mute" (above and below).

1/2 Mute is what happens when you press the "Mute" button on the remote.

Press it again and you get full Mute.

Excuse me?

Since when did I ask for this?


Maybe some people did and Toshiba thought cool, we could do that, and so they did it.

Alright, maybe some people might find it useful when someone's at the door or the phone's ringing or what have you.

And true, Engadget's review said, "Another feature we haven't seen before — that all TVs should have — is half mute, which lets you quickly turn the volume down without completely muting it."

But why can't those of us who find it beyond stoopid disable it?


Is that too much to ask?

To go back to getting silence when the commercials come on and you press the Mute button?

The way it should be?

Turns out Toshiba's been "featuring" the 1/2 Mute function on all its TVs since at least 2006.



August 31, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

A-Frame RV


That's different.

Jeff Johnston's August 22, 2008 Washington Times article introduced me to a whole new world in terms of the road; his story follows.

    A-frame style RV offers efficiency

    Without a doubt, the "A Frame" style fold-down trailers [above] are among the most unusual looking units in the campground when compared to the usual crop of recreational vehicles.

    Only two manufacturers build this type of RV. One such A Frame is built by Chalet RV of Albany, Ore. (www.chaletrv.com, 541-791-4610).

    With the new XL 1938 "Dormer," Chalet has added a ream of functional interior space that allows creature comforts only dreamed of in this kind of trailer. They did it by adding the fold-up dormer-type roof extension.

    These A-frame models offer features common to both tent trailers and hardwall models. The XL body is configured much like that of a tent trailer, but this unit has solid roof panels, hinged at the front and back walls, which pivot up from the center to form the A-shape roof. The triangular sidewalls, hinged to the lower fixed body wall, then swing up and manually latch into place.

    The XL also adds the swing-up Dormer roof segment and its associated fold-up endwall and sidewalls.

    A pair of folded inner hardwalls, which hinge and clamp easily into place, isolate the bath from the living quarters. Setting up the entire trailer is about a three minute, or less, process.

    To ease the setup chore, the main roof raises electrically via a convenient switch near the entry door. The other wall panels are lightweight and lift easily into place.

    A fold-down tent trailer has reams of sleeping space on its slide-out end beds, but it also has the fabric sidewalls and their associated characteristics.

    The XL living area is contained within the solid lower body dimension, but it also has full insulation all around and the extra security and weatherproofing inherent with solid walls.

    The size is a trade-off many A-frame trailer owners are happy to live with.

    While the sloping roof sections do cut into the interior space somewhat, the Dormer expands that space in a big way. In the 1938 Dormer model floorplan the end bath has a full 6 feet 8 inches of headroom and the bath area is a full 36 inches deep so there's lots of room for bathroom-associated activities.

    The shower is 23 inches wide by 36 inches deep and that's more space than is available in many larger RVs.

    At the aft end the trailer has a huge U-shaped dinette that makes down into a 6-foot 8-inch by 6-foot 2-inch bed.

    My wife and I were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the bed was for sleeping, given that it's made of seat cushions rearranged into a bed as needed.

    The streetside galley contains the usual appointments and allows for standard campsite meal preparations, but counter space is tight.

    We moved the portable dinette table close by for extra working space.

    Fluid capacities include 25 gallons freshwater, 15 gallons grey water, 5 gallons black water (cassette style toilet), and dual 4.5-gallon propane tanks.

    This trailer offers two distinct advantages for today's RVer. At 2,780 pounds wet (unloaded), it can be towed by many smaller, downsized vehicles.

    Due to its low-profile shape in road-ready form - about 6 feet, 3 inches tall overall including skylight bubble - the trailer has less wind resistance and is less prone to uncivil road manners when the weather turns blustery.

    Both characteristics translate into a trailer that requires less fuel to tow, and it can possibly be towed by the vehicle you have in your driveway so no major vehicle purchase is needed.

    We towed the XL with a Toyota FJ Cruiser [below],


    which has a 5,000-pound tow rating. Although the FJ has a fairly modest 105-inch wheelbase, it proved a highly stable and capable tow rig in conjunction with the XL.

    True to form, the XL reacted very little to wind or passing truck traffic.

    There's little of the push-pull sensation when a semi in a big hurry blows past on the freeway, and that kind of towing comfort makes a trip a lot more fun.

    The rubber-torsion independent-suspension axle cushions the trailer ride and helps it float gracefully over bumps and divots in the pavement.

    The XL 1938 carries a $25,575 price tag when equipped with a few popular options, including aluminum mag wheels ($245), wood-grain vinyl flooring upgrade ($210), the 12,000 Btu air conditioner with heat pump ($1,125), microwave oven ($155) and a few others.

    The general design and folding roof hardware account for the somewhat higher price compared to a standard hardwall RV - and it's also a well-built unit so that counts for a lot.

    The RVer looking for something a bit different in a lightweight, fuel-stingy trailer might find the new XL 1938 model a fine alternative with more than enough living space in a compact package.

August 31, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

My Mistake — by James Richardson

It seems I misspoke, once, an entire roof,
shaded or lit, and unevenly littered
according to the sweep of a slender-needled pine,
and moored by one black wire to a clump of woods
and thence to everything else. I thought it was mine,
and remembered a torrent of birds there
in a morning so early it could have been the first.
But maybe it was the window, heavily in sway,
out of your parents', out of your sisters' way,
you had told me of that I was looking through.
Way up, you could make out a future
in which you would tell someone, as now I realize
you tried to, how the sun fed in the shingles,
all day, that near and nearer beast of heat
you slept against, breathless, all your last summer.
Until you packed softly, as if for one night,
and were gone forever. It amazes me.
But I who decide nothing am too often amazed,
and I should have known that window,
so vividly half sky, half slate,
was yours; since all I have left are these paler things
no one else calls love. Pardon, my mistake.

August 31, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Clip-on Wine Glass Holder


"Party on with these smart stainless steel wine clips. Each attaches to a plate to hold your drink firmly in place, leaving you to concentrate on the food and fun."

Six for £19.95.

August 31, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

RingFree — 'You don't need to be at home to make international calls anymore'


From the website:

    More reasons to register with RF.com

    • RF.com is pure calling simplicity. All we do is connect your existing SIP, IP PBX and/or IP-based phone systems to your iPhone. No extra bills.

    • Make free IP-based calls (Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo, MSN, etc…) from your iPhone.

    • Make business calls using your office’s phone system even when you’re out and about — your calls will look like they come from your office on the receiver’s caller ID. Plus, the calls will get billed to your business.


Free — the way we like it.

[via Dean Kaltsas, who knows a good thing when he sees one]

August 31, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Krink Markers — The gold standard for street artists


Created by graff writer and artist Craig "KR" Costello.

If you're going to the trouble — and risk — of tagging, might as well spend a little more to make sure it lasts.

Inquire within.

August 31, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Making butter at home


Yes, we do it all here at the 21st-century incarnation of the little house on the virtual prairie.

From the August 6, 2008 Washington Post Food section comes this nicely illustrated guide, excerpted from "The River Cottage Family Cookbook" by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Fizz Carr.

Ready, set, go:

Making butter at home

Butter is very easy to make yourself. Until the 19th century, nearly all butter was made at home, in churns with paddles or plungers.

Anything that stirs or agitates cream in a steady, regular way will eventually turn it to butter. People have made butter sitting in a rocking chair with the cream in a jar on their lap. Feel how the cream thickens as you shake it, and wait for the sudden, satisfying slosh as it turns into butter.

You will need: very cold heavy cream; a large jar with a tight-fitting, screw-top lid; a mug; a wooden board and a wooden spoon.

Take the cream out of the refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature for about 30 minutes (so it doesn't feel cold on your finger when you dip it in).


Pour just enough cream into the jar so that it fills no more than one-third of the jar. You need to leave plenty of air space so that the cream can really move around.

Screw on the lid tightly. Shake the jar up and down and all around so that the cream bounces against the lid. It's important not to stop shaking until the butter starts to form. First, you'll feel the cream slop around in the jar; then you'll notice that it stops slopping and goes silent. At that stage, you just have whipped cream. Keep shaking; it might take 10 to 30 minutes.

When you hear a big lump sloshing around in a thin, watery liquid, you've got butter. The liquid is buttermilk. Carefully open the lid and pour the buttermilk into a jug; wash the lump of butter under cold running water.

Fill the jar you were using halfway with fresh, cold water. Return the lump of butter to the jar; swirl it around in the water, then carefully drain the water away. Repeat until the water is clear.

Put the butter lump on the board and press down on it with the back of the wooden spoon (or use your hands) to force out any buttermilk still inside. This is important, because any buttermilk left inside will make the butter go sour.


You can now wrap your homemade butter in wax paper and refrigerate it. Or eat it straight away.

August 31, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Manolo met plaid


Just so.

[via the August 17, 2008 New York Times "T" Style magazine]

August 31, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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