Happy Valentine’s Day 2017!

…and if you don’t have someone to celebrate with, please don’t do what this woman’s cousin did:


My “granite counter repair / souvenir of an Irish pub in Japan” story

Sooner or later, this happens to the edges of a lot of granite kitchen counters:

Not our kitchen counter, but an example of the sort of damage it had.

A couple of weeks ago, it happened to our kitchen counter, along the edge facing the right side of the kitchen sink.

The culprit

The chip in our counter came courtesy of a certain glass stein emblazoned with the logo of Sapporo LION, a chain of beer halls in Asia:

I’ve had this glass stein since 1998. It’s a souvenir of an evening in Japan, and of one stop in particular: Dubliners, an Irish Pub in Kobe. It’s another data point for my theory that once a city reaches a certain size and population, someone opens an Irish pub.

Yours Truly and Anne, Dubliner’s Irish Pub, Kobe, 1998.

I’d spent the prior ten days in the Philippines, and stopped in Japan for a week to visit my friend Anne, who was there for a year to teach English. It was her birthday, and I was taking her out on the town. You can see the stein in the photo above — it’s the one that Anne’s holding.

Alan Ryan and Anne, Dubliner’s Irish Pub, Kobe, 1998.

We spent a fair bit of our time there talking with the barman, Alan Ryan (he’s the gentleman in the photo above). When it was time to leave, he quickly washed out the stein and gave it to me. “To remember your time here, mate,” he said. I’ve had it ever since.

Life pro tip: If you take digital photos, annotate them or give them meaningful file names and be sure to include the names of the people in them. When you dig them up 19 years later for a blog article (or simply for old times’ sake), you’ll be glad that you included that info.

The chip

19 years later, I still use the stein regularly. I was washing it, and in the process of moving from the sink and onto the counter to dry, bumped it against the edge of the sink. A small chunk of granite went flying, and we were the not-so-proud new owners of a chipped counter.

You might think that glass would lose in a conflagration with granite, but this is a particular heavy and well-made stein designed to survive years of imbibing, carousing, and general abuse at the hands of salarymen boozing it up at izakayas. I’d tapped it against the counter at the right angle (or the wrong one, depending on your point of view) and the damage was done.

Anitra found the missing chunk of granite. It didn’t completely fill the chip; the rest of the counter that had broken off was a fine powder. I was time to do some research into undoing the damage.

I found a number of repair methods online that varied in cost and effort, but the super glue method was intriguing, as it was cheap and well within my home repair capabilities. The method is pretty simple:

  1. Use super glue to re-attach any granite chunks that have broken free and to fill in any remaining cracks or holes, then
  2. Sand and polish away any excess super glue.

This video should give you a general idea of what I did:

Most of the instructions I found recommended using a think gel-type super glue.

I used Gorilla Super Glue Gel and super-glued the granite chunk into the chip. I filled the remaining cracks with excess glue. I gave the area a fine mist of water from a spray bottle — the hydroxyl ions in water cause the cyanoacrylate (super glue’s active ingredient) to form long, strong polymer chains, which is why the stuff forms a solid bond.

My initial plan was to try sanding off the excess glue manually. After working furiously but fruitlessly for a half hour, I said “screw it”, biked to Lowes, and picked up a Black & Decker attach-to-your-drill sanding and polishing kit. I connect the attachment to my drill, and after five minutes of careful power-sanding with the kit’s sandpaper, the counter surface was smooth again.

The super glue dried as a translucent whitish solid. Using a black permanent marker, I drew a pattern to match the dark veins in the granite. Here’s what my repair looked like after that:

Almost there…

I then power-buffed the work using the blue sponge-like disk in the sanding and polishing kit, and then power-polished it using the kit’s fuzzy cloth. I then used some granite countertop sealant on the repair.

Here’s the end result. You’d be hard pressed to spot the damaged area:


I’m pleased with the result, and especially pleased that the repair cost less than $15 in materials!


David Tennant’s inspiring “It’s all gonna be okay” speech

For those of you not familiar with British TV, The Last Leg is the UK’s analogue to the US TV series Last Week Tonight; it’s a TV show in which the events of the week are summarized in humorous ways. The most recent episode of The Last Leg ended with this short inspirational speech by David Tennant, whom you may know as the 10th incarnation of The Doctor from Doctor Who. It’s under a minute long, but it’s well worth watching.

Here’s a transcript of his speech:

It’s all gonna be okay. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

But — it’s up to us to make it okay.

It’s time to be positively rebellious and rebelliously positive. As long as we stand up for what we believe in, don’t give in to anger or violence, look out for the little guy, keep an eye on the big guys, refuse to keep our mouths shut, and just generally try not to be dicks, everything little thing is gonna be all right.


I thought my wife had finally gotten into old-school hip-hop, but she’d joined Malwarebytes instead

When I saw the t-shirt that my wife Anitra had hung up to dry, my first instinct was to throw the “west side” gang sign and yell out “WU-TANG!”

(Clearly I’ve been watching too much Chappelle Show and listening to old-school hip-hop. And hey, I work from home, so I can yell random things whenever I like.)

However, upon closer inspection and a little thought, it occurred to me that the logo on the t-shirt wasn’t that of the Wu-Tang Clan, but of the company she just joined: Malwarebytes, the anti-malware software development company, who have an office in nearby Clearwater.

(By the way: congrats, Anitra, on landing such a sweet gig!)

I think I can be forgiven for making this mistake. Here’s the Wu-Tang Clan logo:

And here’s a close-up of the logo on the t-shirt:

Oddly enough, this close-up photo was taken just before the one at the top of this article using the same phone, but the shirt material now appears to be reddish-brown and the blue logo appears to be white. It’s “the dress” all over again! Wu-Tang!


FOX News low-bar graphic of the day

Chart shown by Tucker Carlson (of course) on FOX News.
Graphic found via Ally Maynard (@MissMayn). Click to see at full size.

Pictured above is a chart comparing White House Chief Strategist/Chief White Nationalist Steve Bannon and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh leader and all-around a-hole Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It was used as a talking point on FOX News (of course) by Tucker Carlson (double of course), the guy who pretty much established that men under 50 who wear bow ties are dicks.

The “really-low-bar comparison” is a debating trick that you should remember from high school (and should probably be left there). You could easily substitute Bannon with just about anyone — even someone who plays that most disreputable of instruments:

Photoshoppery by Yours Truly. Click to see at full size.

Ally Maynard took the Photoshoppery in the opposite direction and replaced the right-hand column with an even bigger villain:

Photoshoppery by Ally Maynard (@MissMayn). Click to see at full size.

Thanks to Ally Maynard for the find!


You may be having a bad day, but not as bad as this Florida Man

This happened in the wee hours this morning about a 20-minute drive from my place. The Tampa Bay Times reports:

Officials say the man was sleeping in a Dumpster early Wednesday morning when the waste management driver deposited the contents of the Dumpster into the truck.

The driver was making his rounds when he heard the man’s call for help, officials say.

The man was pulled from the truck and taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, where he is in stable condition, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.


You’d never have gotten the job if you’d interviewed as badly as Betsy DeVos [Updated]

It’s official: after a 50-50 yea/nay vote in the Senate, Vice President Pence cast the tiebreaking vote, making her the new Secretary of Education. Normally, when someone lands a big job, your first thought might be “well, that person must nailed the job interview!”

Not this time. The Daily Show has a pretty good summary of the Senate confirmation hearings in which she was interviewed about her qualifications and ideas. You’d never be hired if you were this unprepared for the interview or provided such evasive non-answers…unless you had some kind of advantage over the hiring organization:

If you like to dig a little deeper — and as a reader of this blog, the odds of that are good — here are videos featuring her being questioned by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Maggie Hassan, and Chris Murphy at her confirmation hearing. Be very worried, because we’re in for more of this over the next four years.

And in case you were wondering:
I know what a bad job interview looks like, because I’ve interviewed candidates who performed as badly, and hey, I’ve even been one myself.

Elizabeth Warren’s interview questions

Elizabeth Warren noted at the time of the confirmation hearings, Ms. DeVos had neither yet completed the ethics form nor submitted it to the committee for review. She would sign it two days later, after the hearings.

Warren opened with this statement:

The Secretary of Education is essentially responsible for managing a trillion-dollar student loan bank and distributing 30 billion dollars in Pell grants to students each year. The financial futures of an entire generation of young people depend on your department getting that right.

And followed with these questions:

  • Do you have any experience running a loan program of the size that’s were talking about (on the order of a trillion dollars), or even one that is one-thousandth the size (on the order of a billion dollars)?
  • Have you or someone in your family had to take out a student loan?
  • Your boss settled for $25 million in a case in which former students sued him for conning them into going to his fake for-profit university. What are your ideas to prevent federal funding to going to similar diploma mills?
  • There are already laws on the books that prevent career colleges from getting federal funds unless they can prove that they’re actually preparing their students for gainful employment and not cheating them. Will you enforce these laws?

If you want to see some of the worst answers I’ve seen in a job interview, you’ll want to watch this:

Bernie Sanders’ interview questions

  • How much has your family contributed to the Republican Party over the years?
  • Would you even be considered for this position if those contributions were never made?
  • Would you work with me and others to make public colleges tuition-free through federal and state efforts?
  • Would you work with me to make childcare universal for working families?

Al Franken’s interview questions

  • Where do you stand on the debate on testing for proficiency vs. testing for growth?
  • Your family has a history of bankrolling groups that have anti-LGBT agendas and supporting widely-discredited gay-to-straight conversion therapy. Do you still believe in conversion therapy?
  • Do you know how much has student debt increased by in the past 8 years?

Maggie Hassan’s interview questions

  • When students with disabilities get a publicly-funded voucher to attend a private school, they often don’t receive adequate resources, and in some cases have to sign over their legal rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Do you think that families should have a recourse in the courts if their child’s education does not adequately meet their needs?
  • Will you enforce the laws that require schools to support kids with disabilities?

Christopher Murphy’s interview questions

  • Do you think that guns have any place in or around schools?

Update: A historic first

From Betsy DeVos has won Senate confirmation—after an unprecedented intervention, an article in Quartz:

It’s the first time in US history that a vice president has needed to intervene in a cabinet nominee’s confirmation.

While vice presidents have a constitutional duty to break ties in the Senate, rarely are they actually called upon to intercede. Ties are few and far between; the last one took place in 2008, when vice president Dick Cheney broke a 50-50 vote on a matter related to the federal budget. The last time the Senate was tied over any sort of presidential nomination was three decades ago: In 1986, Ronald Reagan appointed a lawyer to a federal appellate court whom Democrats contested (over his lack of qualifications, much as in DeVos’s case), and vice president George Bush had to step in and push the appointee over the line.

The bitter contest over DeVos’s confirmation may be over, but the tight vote portends a tension-riddled atmosphere greeting the new secretary once she takes office.