Minority Opinions

Not everyone can be mainstream, after all.

Archive for June 2010

Polite Bash Trick

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Inspired by a comment on StackOverflow, I added a “please” alias to my shell:

> alias please='sudo $(history 2 | head -n 1 | cut -f2- -d" ")'
> ls -a /root/
ls: cannot open directory /root/: Permission denied
> please
.  ..  .aptitude  .bash_history  .bashrc  .config  .profile  .synaptic

It saves me one whole character over sudo !!

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Written by eswald

28 Jun 2010 at 11:11 am

Posted in Linux

Electric Lawnmower

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When we bought the house, we bought a basic reel mower, having been swayed by the argument that they’ve advanced enough over the last twenty years to be easy to push, and committed to use it for at least a year.  We had grown up using gas-powered motors, but neither of us wanted to deal with keeping a gas can filled, we both have allergies that are aggravated by the dust they kick up, and I have trouble with such loud sounds, so a low-cost, low-maintenance, low-noise option was very enticing.

Over the course of that year, it did okay.  It was a good source of exercise for each of us, and kept the lawn looking decent, except around the edges.  It wasn’t as easy to push as the hype suggested, particularly where the grass grows ridiculously well, but it wasn’t noticeably harder to deal with than a heavy gas-powered machine.  Then winter came, snow fell, and we ignored the lawn until spring.  A bit longer than we really should have, actually.

Unfortunately, our reel mower has serious trouble when the grass gets too long.  The long seed stems in particular just bend over without ever getting caught in the blades.  The wheels also leave tracks of crushed uncut grass that pops up a few days later.  By late spring, half of the lawn was too long for the mower to touch, and the rest had scattered seed heads mocking us.  It was time to throw in the towel.

My marvelous companion suggested that we look at electric mowers.  I hadn’t been aware of them, but the idea solves one of my major concerns and alleviates another.  We splurged on a cordless model; almost twice the price, but we don’t care to drag an extension cord around our trees.  The good news is that our shed is wired with plenty of electrical outlets, so charging is easy.  We brought it home, unpacked it, assembled the handle, and plugged it in.

Half of the lawn, the hard half, was done before I had a chance to try it out.  My spouse fired it up while I was at work, and ran through our worst areas until the battery ran out.  The box claims that a single charge will handle a third of an acre, but that’s not so true for foot-high grass.  When it was my turn, only a bit of the back yard was left, and I finished off with the front and side yards.  Intriguingly, the built-in time limit helped motivate me to keep going; if the lawnmower stops before I do, then I don’t have to feel weak and out of shape.

Our lawn looks fabulous now.  Okay, so it still has bare spots, dog holes, and dandelions, but it’s short and smooth.  And amazingly, the mower is quiet enough to run without ear plugs.  I just wish it hadn’t made me sneeze enough to soak two handkerchiefs.

Written by eswald

17 Jun 2010 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Lifestyle

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