August 30, 2003
Cherin's Appliances

I had a so-so experience with Cherin's Appliances, 727 Valencia St., San Francisco, when buying a dishwasher.

These guys must be doing great though, judging by all the BMWs in the parking lot. No, not by the volume of spendthrift customers rolling through. The sales guys are the ones that seem to be doing well. It would appear that all the fancy German hardware is owned by the staff, as there were no customers in the store when I showed up.

There isn't much for an appliance store to do:

* Give you a quote - Cherin's had a decent price. Only way to beat it was with a promotion at a big box store. Open a credit card and get 10% off sort of thing.

* Have the item in stock - There are so many dishwasher models, I was quite surprised when they had 3(!) of the exact model that I wanted in stock. For example, KitchenAid has 3 lines, 3 front panels and ~5 colors. That's 45 variations just from Whirlpool's high-end line.

* Stand behind the order - This is where the wheels start coming off the wagon for Cherin's. Cherin's completely disavows you after the sale. They have an ABSOLUTELY NO RETURNS policy. If anything goes wrong, you have to go to the manufacturer under warrantee. I double checked with the sales guy, and he said that Nordstrom had ruined the retail business. I was taken aback, but bought the dishwasher anyway.

* Deliver the order on time - Cherin's really failed here. It took them three days to deliver the washer. Calling the dispatcher was nearly worthless, he didn't know when the heck the washer was going to show up.

NOT RECOMMENDED- Cherin's Appliaces in the Mission - Go elsewhere, unless you are desperate and really like throwback GlennGary Glenn Ross sales guys.

Posted by jk at 09:00 AM
August 29, 2003
I've had it with Instant Messenger

The AOL AIM client is just too much. It is now (and has been for a while) simply damage to be routed around.

Installing AOL for broadband. Dropping icons everywhere. Frequent updates, which appear to be solely for marketing purposes. Using ~32 megs of core. Refusing to resize the buddy list beyond simply huge.

Really. 32 megs of RAM to run AIM on my Win2k box. How it took me this long to look for a replacement is beyond me.

I installed Trillian with the Microscopic skin today. Ahh. Much better. The SecureIM feature is a bit clunky to get working and the Microscopic skin hides the lock icon.

I miss the stock ticker though.

Posted by jk at 11:41 AM
August 19, 2003
Bay Area Arborist

Arbutus Tree Care did a great job trimming our eucalyptus trees. Dmitri is an artiste! He's been shaping these trees for about five years, trying to get them back into shape after an ill-considered topping some decades ago.

Having a certified arborist trim a tree can be a bit of overkill, but these are our only trees, and they're quick-growing eucalyptus to boot. Anne has even named the trees. Not taking any risks here. Nope.

Posted by jk at 09:00 AM
August 14, 2003
EPIRB Prices

Prices should drop now:

Mercury News

I've always thought of the EPIRB as some sacred call of last resort. Any misapplication could prevent someone who was truly in trouble from getting picked up. When far from land, enormous resources are immediately deployed, and nearby ships are subject to huge diversion expenses -- sometimes in the range of six-figures per day.

Currently the Coast Guard goes crazy each time one goes off in the Bay Area, and it's usually one signalling from a Dumpster or landfill when a wreck is brought ashore to be broken up. They spend hours tracking them down, hours that they should be, you know, guarding.

I hope the system can handle the overload from thousands of false alarms and non-emergency "emergencies" on land.

I can foresee a round of highly-publicized slap-downs for false alarms. Sorta-like when some idiot calls Mayday on 16 when he can't get his motor started, then gets the CG smack.

Posted by jk at 07:58 AM
August 13, 2003
June's New Book

Haven't seen it yet:

The Unusually Useful Web Book by June Cohen.

Amazon link

Posted by jk at 10:09 AM
August 06, 2003
San Francisco Hellmouth?

If there is a hellmouth in San Francisco, I think I've deduced its location. It's somewhere underneath 10th and Howard. Specifically, underneath the "Division of Parking Citations, Hearings and Residential Permits, Department of Parking and Traffic" building at 1380 Howard.

I was just a happy-go-lucky guy, in to get my first coveted residential parking permits. Finally the "Heep" and "UPKake" (pronounced 'cupcake') could park for more than 2 hours on the 4/5ths of the "permitted" streets in our neighborhood. Three months of car magic, musical chairs, and tons of tickets were going to come to an end!

We'd finally lined up all of the DMV and other documentation. I was far too excited to wait for the mail process -- I was willing to wait in line to get the stickers TODAY! Big mistake.

Never go to the Parking Citation, Hearing and Residential Permit Division. Ever. You have a protest? Not worth it, pay the fine. There's an error? Not worth it, pay the fine. You need a parking permit? Seriously, just chill and do it by mail.

Roughly half of the, heh, patrons, of this Departmental Division were reasonable folks, in to transact some sort of business. The other half were the devil's spawn: prone to unreasonable outbursts, near shouting, conspiracy theories, protruding veins, dissembling and illogical schemes, arguing with clerks, arguing with others in line, illogical notions of queuing theory, assertive notions of bureaucracy management, aggressive body language, ill-conceived conclusions on personal space, and occasionally some seriously malevolent body odors.

I couldn't concentrate on my New Yorker.

Damn this place.

Posted by jk at 08:00 PM
August 04, 2003
Ideal Upholstery

If you need a large couch, sofa or other upholstered piece of furniture taken apart, moved into a difficult-to-reach room, and then re-assembled, give Ideal Upholstery a shot.

They seemed reasonable, and they were very helpful. They're at 375 Valencia, San Francisco. The store is run by an older couple, Dan and Edith. They were wonderful.

Ultimately, we decided not to go with this approach, so I don't know how good these folks are at getting furniture up stairs, in through windows, and all of the other intricacies involved in the upholstery removal and reinstallation.

If I have something to recover in the future, I'm going to give these folks a call first.

Posted by jk at 09:00 AM
August 03, 2003
Online Charts is a phenomenal resource!

Nautical Charts! Topographical Maps! Aeronautical Charts! Lots of different scales, zooming, and a great mouse-over feature that infers the latitude and longitude of arbitrary points on the chart.

This is great for pre-loading waypoints into your GPS receiver. Accuracy? I don't know. I'm going to compare waypoints generated this way against the GPS charter/plotter's charts and, well, reality, in a few weeks.

Posted by jk at 05:00 PM
GPS Waypoint Management

I don't do much waypoint management on my ancient GPS receiver. It's a Garmin GPS 12 XL. To give you some idea of it's 1998 vintage: No DGPS. No WAAS. No maps. Just a city database and pure LAT/LON bliss.

I was, however, running out of waypoints. Points from hikes in Australia, the drive to Alaska, our engagement on the continental divide in the Yukon, photogenic barns in Co. Claire, Ireland, good freeway exits for fast food on the way to Tahoe, secret campsites in the Sierra, a fog route through Richardson Bay back to the marina, and all that ilk was just too much. Selective weeding was needed!

I found two free GPS waypoint management packages. I'm sure there are more. I *hope* there are more. These were good, each for their own use, but I'm hoping to find something better:

Easy GPS and GPS TrackMaker are OK solutions, and they're free.

Oh, and a useful page for SF Bay sailors and racers. I don't know how accurate these are, but it's something:
Navas' Sailing and Racing in the SF Bay

Posted by jk at 03:00 PM
August 01, 2003
Four Seas Ice Cream

A Cape Cod Classic:

Four Seas Ice Cream

Well worth the five minute drive off the highway.

Posted by jk at 12:00 AM