Monthly Archives: June 2010

Sharing iCal without paying Apple

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Yes, you can share your iCal information without paying Apple.

I don’t know why sharing iCal calendars is so difficult. Apple has always defaulted so that you can only do it easily through their paid service (formerly .Mac, now something called MobileMe). There used to be some other sharing services around that made it easy, but many of them have disappeared, and all the other fixes seem to involve running a script or a client on each machine you want to share it with. We needed to create a new calendar today and my free iCal hosting service was once again giving me trouble, so I finally got around to figuring out how to do this on my own service. Turns out? Not that hard.

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Iced summer

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Summer is here — climatologically, astronomically, and emotionally. That means keeping cold drinks in the refrigerator. We make a lot of iced tea, lemonade, and iced coffee. Here are the recipes I use.

Iced Tea
I use decaffeinated Lipton tea bags, in the big cheap box of 72. I add 4 cups of very hot (not boiling) water to 5 tea bags, let it steep for 4-6 minutes, then remove the tea bags. Let it sit and cool, then mix with more cold water and/or ice cubes to bring it to 2 quarts (64 oz., and when for the love of reason are we going to go metric?). If you want to sweeten it, add lemonade.

Iced Coffee
I make a batch of double-strength coffee in my french press — using 8 scoops of beans instead of the normal 4 for 32 oz. Pour the coffee and let it cool (the point is not to pour hot liquids into a plastic pitcher, which is what I’ve got), then add water or ice to bring to 2 quarts. That’s still strong enough that you’ll do well to add ice when serving.

Just started making it this way, and love it. Are fresh-squeezed lemons the best? They are. Are they the cheapest? They are not. So I use bottled pure lemon juice, sometimes supplemented with squeezings from a couple of fresh lemons. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 cup of water and add 1 cup of sugar — this will liquify the sugar and keep it from precipitating out. Don’t boil! Then add 1 cup of lemon juice, and mix with cold water and/or ice to bring to the magical 2 quarts (guess what size my pitchers are?). Again, this concentration allows for ice when serving.

Remember – there isn’t a man, woman or child alive who doesn’t enjoy a nice cold beverage!

Around Cohoes

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They talked about aluminum siding as a technique for making old houses look new again. From a distance, these sheets, which never needed painting, looked like freshly painted wood . . .

“If you’re in aluminum storm windows,” the driver said to Trout, “you must be in aluminum siding, too.” All over the country, the two businesses went hand-in-hand.

“My company sells it,” said Trout, “and I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve never actually worked on an installation.”

The driver was thinking seriously of buying aluminum siding for his home in Little Rock, and he begged Trout to give him an honest answer to this question: “From what you’ve seen and heard — the people who get aluminum siding, are they happy with what they get?”

“Around Cohoes,” said Trout, “I think those were about the only really happy people I ever saw.”

     — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Breakfast of Champions

Ride from Corning Preserve to Cohoes Falls

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Forced march

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High school hallway

Image by carljohnson via Flickr

In the era Before Kids, I used to feel sorry for people whose lives were completely and utterly tied to the school calendar, whose every day off or week’s vacation was set and dictated by the whims of a board of education somewhere. Not only was I right to feel sorry for them, I didn’t know the half of it. The relentless and highly productive Piling On Of The Homework has made it so that missing even a day of school is pretty much inadvisable (while doing nothing for the all-important test scores, the Piling On has taught kids early that their lives are not their own, a pretty important lesson!). And now May and June have been transformed from the most pleasant months of the upstate year into a forced march as we plod from one academic or dance-related event to the next. Our dietary focus is things that can be eaten cold, from a bag, while we employ a Big Board to ensure all our troops are where they need to be, when they need to be there.

This particular march started in earnest last week with a college visit, a National Honor Society induction, a NYSSMA evaluation, and a couple of SATs. This week, in addition to actually attending school, the girls have an orchestra concert, high school prep, an awards ceremony, a high honors dinner. The dance world offers them dress rehearsal, emergency rehearsal (yes, there are dance emergencies), and recital. Mixed in with this, we’re moving my father-in-law and getting decades of collected junk ready for a Saturday garage sale. Next thing you know, it’ll be solstice and I’ll be wondering, once again, how I missed out on the loveliness of spring.

Elder daughter says, without enthusiasm, that she feels like the Energizer bunny. Not in a good way. All I can say is, it’s just a few more days.

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Among the things that aren’t here anymore

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Tilley ladders 1940, originally uploaded by carljohnson.

When I moved back to the Capital District, I was always pleased when I could buy something from a local manufacturer, a difficult enough task at the time. In the twenty years since, even more local manufacturers have gone by the wayside. One of them was Tilley Ladders of Watervliet, a nationally known maker of ladders that was in business from 1855 right up until 2004, when they called it quits. Unlike so many that have been driven out by cheap foreign competition and the evils of big box retail, Tilley was done in by insurance costs. Unfortunately, people fall off ladders, and even though Tilley didn’t get sued much, their insurance costs did them in.