A bit of everything today

I skipped work today so I could ferry the clan around on various errands, and seized the opportunity to knock a few odd things off the to-do list.

First off, I paid my first visit to Namco, my favorite place to get pool supplies. The prices have gone up this year, which comes as absolutely no surprise to me. But, they’re still pretty much the cheapest place around for chemicals, particularly after late August when they blow everything out at half price (which really drives home how high the dealer markup is on pool chemicals). I bought a couple 5-gallon jugs of liquid chlorine, which is basically sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) at about twice the strength of grocery store bleach. Namco has this stuff at $13 for 5 gallons, plus a $6 deposit for the jug. That’s a decent price, and it makes me wonder how much of a premium I’d pay to use this stuff instead of calcium hypochlorite for daily chlorination. The main advantage of cal-hypo is its shelf life: I can buy it at half price late in the season, and it’ll still be just as potent the following spring. Its drawback is inconvenience. To avoid clouding the pool water, you need to dissolve the cal-hypo in a pail of water, then pour it off. Then you have a lot of sediment left over that you have to get rid of. The liquid chlorine is much more convenient, but its shelf life is shorter, so I’d need to buy it at full price during the season. The challenge here is to figure out the true effectiveness of the cal-hypo vs the liquid stuff, then see how much of a premium I’d pay for the liquid stuff, and determine if the convenience is worth the price difference. I love doing this kinda stuff, so you can be sure I’ll tackle that soon..

In other news, we got our vegetable garden planted. To keep the critters at bay, we strung chicken wire around the garden and hung some old CDs above it. The theory is that the CDs will blow around and flash as they catch the light, which discourages birds. We’ll see how it does this year. I guess the next step would be to add lawn edging to prevent moles/groundhogs/etc.

… and finally, I made a stab at speeding my wife’s anemic Windows XP box up a bit. Basically I went into the Microsoft System Configuration utility (Start Menu -> Run -> enter msconfig), went to the “startup” tab, and disabled a whole bunch of unnecessary kruft that the OS was starting up at boot time. It’s amazing the amount of junk that accumulates there over time.. Quicktime crap, Adobe crap, crap from some kid’s software we installed, crap from Dell, crap from the stupid stuff that Dell pre-installs on the computer, AOL crap, the list goes on and on. After I turned a bunch of stuff off, I rebooted and the machine seemed a good deal snappier. I guess we’ll see how it goes from here.