Take it and run.

Well. I think you should know I just wrote and ashcanned a lengthy post on a subject about which I can summon a great deal of petulant snark. Reading it over, it occurred to me that:

1) I felt better just having written it down, like the therapists say, and;

2) I need to grow up. I’ve been invited to write a short essay on a topic I enjoy for a new venue, and it’s something I ought to be devoting my time to. Also, I need to strip a wallpaper border. Both seem like a better use of my time.


I’m opening the floor to comments on two subjects. People keep telling me my readers are smarter than I am, so it’s time to prove it. I want expert opinions on two questions.

First question: Can wi-fi wear out? I’ve been having a problem with our wi-fi network and my laptop. The signal dwindles, fades and drops out entirely, then roars back at full strength and immediately drops again. This happens intermittently. Trouble-shooting the problem, I find it’s only happening to me, with my G4 PowerBook. Alan’s somewhat newer (by eight months or so) iBook, with its plastic case and far less punishing use schedule, is not having problems. I know that the aluminum-case laptops generally are less sensitive than the plastic ones, but I’m befuddled. What could be happening here?

(If it matters, last night I had a close call with my laptop, a strange sort of e-mail crash that necessitated a restart-from-DVD and other scary stuff. If it were an ER episode, it would have ended with the patient smiling but a defibrillator would have been involved, too.)

Second question: Cashmere — what the hell? Every girl knows that cashmere is everywhere these days and never more affordable. What once used to be a $400 sweater can now be had for around $80, if you’re not picky about labels. I bought one of these sweaters three years ago, at a Loehmann’s-type shop in Toronto. I love it and wear it constantly. (Kate loves it, too, because it’s soft and it encourages snuggling. What mommy doesn’t love her little girl cooing against her ribcage?) But. In the last year it has started to pill. Pill! I hate pilling. It’s the surest sign of cheap clothes, and it’s something I thought cashmere was never, ever supposed to do. I’m beginning to think some angora is involved here. Someone who knows wool, please solve this mystery.

And finally, another huge thank-you to Mindy for turning me on to the Zip-It, despite my earlier problem. We had a slow-running shower drain the other day. Water was still standing when I stuck the toothy shaft of the Zip-It down the drain. With no effort whatsoever, I pulled out…a hair clog the approximate length and girth of a gym sock. The standing water went out so fast it left skid marks, and with a great, satisfying sucking sound, just like Ross Perot promised.

I threw the whole thing away and told Alan the happy news: The drain snake could stay in its lair for a while. “But I’m throwing the Zip-It away, too,” I said. “We can buy another.”

“Why?” he said. “You can use it again.” I should say at this point that I was talking to his back; he was working on his computer.

“OK, you clean it off, then,” I said, holding up the whole disgusting mess, now encased in a clear plastic newspaper bag.

We decided spending $3 for another was a bargain after all.

Posted at 10:52 am in Same ol' same ol' |

11 responses to “Take it and run.”

  1. Jennifer said on September 28, 2006 at 11:43 am

    The quality of cashmere can depend on the length of the cashmere fiber. The longer the fiber, the less pilling you will have and the more you will pay.

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  2. Rory on Lawn Guyland said on September 28, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Nance: If you (or anyone) is using a wireless house phone near your wireless modem, that’s your problem. On the rare days I work from home (in the basement office) if my wife uses the wireless (not cell) phone in the den one floor above, the PowerMac freezes, and won’t budge until she hangs up. She did it once while I was uploading pages to my new blog (Funny Stuff at http://shorttakesblog.brandweek.com) and the thing FROZE! Panic ensued until I asked (OK, told) her to hang up! She did, everything started movin’, and all was well again. Which is why I rarely work from home. –Rory

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  3. mouse's moom said on September 28, 2006 at 12:28 pm

    We had that problem with the cordless phone a few years ago when we first got wireless. We bought a new phone that operated on a different frequency (I don’t know much about the tech details here) and haven’t had it since.

    I’m using a pretty old 12″ powerbook and I also have some occasional difficulties with wireless signals. It feels like it’s just getting old and tired like all the rest of us but a certain tech guy we both know says it’s due to DNS conflicts and other little problems. In general, the darn thing is old, heavily used, full of all kinds of junk, and has a whole bunch of user accounts and network locations.

    I haven’t had any crashes *that* scary yet and I’m hoping it holds out until the tuition payments are a little closer to done and/or I become gainfully employed again.

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  4. nancy said on September 28, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    I don’t think the phone is the problem. The last time it popped up, we were both online, sitting within eight feet of one another on our two laptops — this is the new Ward-and-June at home on the couch model — and I had the problem and Alan didn’t. And no one was on the phone.

    And Jennifer, that makes sense about the yarn fibers. No more discount cashmere for me.

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  5. Jessica said on September 28, 2006 at 1:11 pm

    Other stuff can interfere. Your motherboard may not be seated properly any more. Wierd USB things can get in the way.

    Take the ‘book in for service and get it cleaned.

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  6. Jay Small said on September 28, 2006 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Nancy and Alan!

    On your WiFi, the short answer is, yeah, at its heart it’s a radio and radio transceivers can become less reliable over time. I had a wireless router gradually lose effectiveness, making the ‘puters in our house drop signals a lot more often. The router maker, to its credit, just gave me a new one and the rep said, to Gumpian effect, “these things happen.”

    I also had problems once with compatibility of an Apple AirPort Extreme card (designed for 802.11g standard) running on an older WiFi network (designed for 802.11b standard). Your symptoms sound similar, so that’s something to check out at your nearest Apple Genius Bar.

    One thing to try, on your router and then on your laptops (if they don’t auto-detect this): change the WiFi channel. Most routers default to channel 6 (I think) but you have several to choose from. If phones or neighbors’ WiFi or reflections from carrier pigeons’ leg-bands are causing interference, this may help.

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  7. brian stouder said on September 28, 2006 at 1:39 pm

    well, reading tech-talk leads me to offer Two Cheers for ‘petulant snark’! ….but whatever.

    (and besides – these days Keith Olbermann seems to have the market for self righteous and petulant snark well & truly cornered, nowadays)

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  8. ashley said on September 28, 2006 at 4:53 pm

    If you’re using an AirPort base station, it is probably on channel 1 (linksys defaults to 6). Maybe try changing the channel.

    Also, my G4 TiBook reception was crappy compared to my wife’s iBook. The plastic is just more transparent.

    Along the lines of what Jay said, check out your AirPort setup utility. You have 3 options: 802.11b only, 802.11g only, and both. If you have extreme cards in all your notebooks, go for the 802.11g only option…that helped us out a bit.

    And the main problem is probably all the other radio traffic in your neighborhood. My AirPort reception was wonderful in New Orleans in November, when I was one of 4 people on my block. Now, with the damned students ™ around, it’s less than wonderful.

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  9. Cathy said on September 28, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    As to the cashmere pilling problem, Jennifer is right about the length of the fiber contributing to “pillage” although there are other factors such as the amount of twist when the yarn is spun, looseness of the knit, number of plys and so on. Yarn with a tighter spin and more tightly knit garments are less likely to pill.

    With cashmere, shorter fibers are typically cheaper. With other fibers, such as wool, the length of the fiber depends on the variety of sheep, where on the body the wool is shorn from, etc… So, pilling is not necessarily indicative of an inexpensive garment.

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  10. Marcia said on September 29, 2006 at 8:27 am

    I’ve got no advice. I just think your readers should mutiny until we are provided the ash-canned snark.

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  11. John said on September 29, 2006 at 8:35 am

    A reader revolt? Hmmmm….maybe if Marcia leads us. Revolts only work if you have really slogans or marching songs. Just carrying little red books and wearing unisex clothes doesn’t cut it for me.

    BTW…I presume that Marcia used a model’s photo for her blog as that gorgeous woman can’t possible be the mother of teenagers.

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