TERRIBLE DECISIONS: Calm before the storm edition

I got it into my head to do some home improvement today.  My wife and I have figured out the schedule for the bathroom and expect to have all major renovations completed by Martin Luther King weekend and to repaint during Spring Break.  That sound you hear is God laughing; longtime readers remember how long tiling the bathroom took.

I started off with simple stuff:

IMG_2113I really, really tried to get my son to ask for either the Captain America’s shield or Mjolnir variation of this nightlight, but he wasn’t having it; it was Iron Man’s hand or nothing.  The sticker was actually the biggest pain in the butt on this one; additional fun was had upon realizing someone had stolen the hardware out of the particular box we’d purchased, and additional additional fun was had upon realizing that the two places in the back where you mount the screws are different sizes, one far too small for any other screw I had, so I had to get creative with a nail.  Whatever, it’s solidly attached and not going anywhere unless we want it to (the batteries will need changing eventually) and the kid loves it so screw you, nail.

Then a minor improvement to the bathroom:

IMG_2115It would have made sense to complete all the work before adding things like towel racks, but I’d gotten tired of having to walk across the bathroom to get my towel when I invariably forgot to put it on top of the toilet tank before my shower.  This was actually a piece of cake to install; they include a paper template that you can attach to the wall with painter’s tape to make sure you drill the holes in the right places, and the design is pretty forgiving of minor mistakes anyway.  This is also rock-solid and not going anywhere.

On to the day’s big project.  Our microwave is from 1992.  It came with the house.  It still cooked food, which is, after all, the primary purpose of a microwave, but the light underneath it had gone bad (not the bulb, the light itself had died) and the button to make the fan work was getting increasingly more difficult to deal with, and being from 1992 it didn’t have a turntable, so it was time for an upgrade.

It would have cost an additional $114 to have them install.  “Scoff!” I scoffed.  “I retiled my bathroom!  I put a stereo into my car!  I can do this!”

Step the first: tear out the old microwave.  This took a bit of time, not because it was difficult but because we wanted to make sure that at no point did the microwave fall out of its spot in the cabinets, so we had to make absolutely sure we knew where all the appropriate screws were and what they’d loosen before we pulled them off– because, see, if the microwave ever falls, it lands on our countertop range, which is glass, and then we’re out $1300 for a new one.  So we gotta be careful.

I failed to get a picture of the old microwave in situ.  Here’s what the hole looked like, with a few holes bashed in the drywall behind it to make sure I knew where the studs were:

IMG_2116To make sure you appreciate it, a close-up of what was apparently the kitchen’s original wallpaper:

IMG_2118The old microwave, consigned to the garage until we figure out if it’s legal to just throw it in the trash:

IMG_2120Wanna see what 22 years of never cleaning the exhaust fan on your microwave looks like?  I only threw up six times:

IMG_2121At this point there was a pause, to very carefully read and understand everything and use the templates they gave us and make sure everything was going to work properly.  The actual installation itself wasn’t any more complicated than drilling a couple of holes and mounting the wall bracket against the back wall; not a big deal.

Take a look at that picture of the hole up there.  See that piece of trim running horizontally underneath the cabinets?  That was causing us some problems, as the lag bolts they gave us to mount the microwave under the cabinets weren’t quite long enough.  So Dad and I ran out to Lowe’s to come up with a better solution.  We came up with something we both thought would work and came back, ready to have a working microwave ten minutes later.



The problem we hadn’t noticed: the template for the back of the microwave fit perfectly on the back wall.  We knew that the trim was going to cause problems and bought appropriate bolts.  It didn’t hit us until trying to mount the thing that we couldn’t actually install it flush because the template against the wall extended up higher than the trim.  So the microwave was at maybe a 20 degree tilt forward, meaning that the only way I was going to get it to hold in place was with bungee cord.

The trim had to come out.

I’ll spare you the details; there was lots of consternation about whether the trim in any way represented structure (don’t think so; at this point really hope not) and how best to get it out without noticeably damaging the cabinets around it.  The thing was screwed in place in some really weird ways and getting it out required some creative use of my dremel and the new drill bits I’d bought to install the towel rack.  (Yes, I was at the hardware store twice today.)  But eventually it came out and as of right now, an hour or so later, the microwave hasn’t pulled all of our cabinets out of the ceiling yet, so I think it’s installed properly.  The fan ducting even lined up right, although the original owners installed the duct backwards so I need to go in tomorrow and retape everything.  But we have a working microwave again!

IMG_2119And there was much goddamn rejoicing.

Books of 2014 post tomorrow, I swear.

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STATION IDENTIFICATION: Infinitefreetime.com

Hi!  I’m Luther Siler.  I’m the author of Skylights and The Benevolence Archives, Vol. 1both available at various ebook retailers easily accessible from whatever magic rectangle you’re using to access this page.  Between Twitter and the blog I’m adding hundreds of new followers a month, so this post is to let the new folks know where to find me.  Regular folks, if you see the STATION IDENTIFICATION tag, feel free to ignore it.

So here’s where to find Luther Siler on the interwebtron:

  • You can follow me on Twitter, @nfinitefreetime, here or just click the “follow” button on the right side of the page.  I am on Twitter pretty frequently; I use it for liveblogging TV, whining about anything that strikes me as whine-worthy, and for short, Facebook-style posts.  I generally follow back if I can tell you’re a human being.  You are not a human being if your profile mentions SEO.
  • My author page on Goodreads is here. I am accepting any and all friend requests at the moment.  As of this week I finally have more friends at Goodreads than my personal account does at Facebook; this makes me happy.
  • My official Author page on Amazon is located here.
  • Feel free to Like the (sadly underutilized) Luther Siler Facebook page here.  It’s mostly used as a reblogger for posts here.
  • And, of course, you’re already at infinitefreetime.com, my blog.  You can click here to be taken to a random post.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

In which I give #WordPress advice

(Note: I typed this in the old editor, too.)

Dear WordPress:

Let’s talk about your new stats screen for a bit.  I put up a one-sentence post a few hours ago to confirm that other people feel the same way I do, and it’s amassed eighteen comments and twenty likes in that time, so I’m pretty sure I’m not on my own here.  I’ve been actively blogging on your site for about a year and a half, although I’ve had the account for several years longer than that, and I spend a lot of time obsessing about my stats.  An unhealthy amount of time, in fact.

You recently changed your stats page, and by a number of indications you seem to be interested in user feedback on it.  However, using your feedback form really didn’t give me a chance to explain what I actually dislike about it.  It could be that you’re not actually interested, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

Here’s the thing, guys: your new stats page sucks.  It sucks a lot.  And it doesn’t have to.  Let’s talk details.  Here’s what I see, on my laptop, when I open the old Stats page:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 5.52.31 PM

Now, notice a few things: first, daily viewers and page views for several weeks of blogging.  Today’s numbers specifically, and some all-time and best numbers.  I can get specific data about any day on the list simply with a mouseover.  All this without clicking or scrolling.  The stuff underneath is in two columns, so once I scroll down I’m going to see a lot more data.

Here’s what I see in your new, “upgraded” version:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 5.49.16 PM

Nothing.  Literally no useful data at all.

Okay, that’s not completely fair, because that big advert thing is there and I can get rid of it.  Okay, let’s get rid of it:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 5.49.32 PM

Right from the jump, guys, you cannot possibly believe this is an upgrade.  Now, I actually do like that I can see Likes and Comments now.  That’s a good thing!  But that’s ten days of data, and there’s no way to make it show me more, and I can’t see views and visitors at the same time, the “Summary” view is entirely gone, and all my records are missing.  There is now no way to get all-time data on my blog.  There’s no way to get daily data that’s older than ten days.  That’s not an improvement, and you’re lying if you pretend that it is.

Look at all the wasted space on this screen:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 6.05.34 PM

That. Is. Insane.  No school of design anywhere authorizes this much wastage of my screen.  Here’s the exact same data on the old version:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 6.07.04 PM

You cannot seriously suggest that the “upgraded” version is better.  This is as close to objectively wrong a suggestion as I can imagine.  It’s not better.  It’s huge and wastes enormous amounts of space and makes me waste time with clicking and scrolling around the screen.  And you’ve actually removed things like my search terms!  (Granted: I shoulda  opened up the “Yesterday” view on the search terms.  It’s usually more useful than that.)

A moment of praise: I do appreciate seeing who my new followers are and when they subscribed, which is information that’s available but harder to find in the old version.  But that doesn’t come close to overcoming this abomination:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 5.49.41 PM

Who the hell decided making the countries view this much worse was a good idea, and why wasn’t that person immediately fired or demoted to emptying trash cans?  In what world is that low-contrast nonsense better than this?:

Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 5.50.37 PM

You’ve made this worse.  It’s beyond question.  It’s indefensible.  That light green nonsense is impossible to tell from the background, and anyone with eyes who looks at it knows it, which makes me think that you’re doing it on purpose.  You’ve removed the countries information despite having plenty of room for it.  There is no longer any way to get geographic data from more than a year ago.  Do you guys have any idea how often I look at the “Since February 25, 2012″ screen?  Often enough that I didn’t have to look at that screenshot to remember the date.  And in your “upgraded” version all that information is gone.  I’m normally all about corporate conspiracy theories, guys, but “intentionally screwed their users’ ability to monitor their stats for absolutely no reason” is a really crappy-sounding conspiracy theory.

Keep the Likes and the Comments bar graphs.  Keep the followers data.  But fix the rest of this nonsense, and by “fix” I mean “go directly back to the way it was”.  This is bush-league, crap design and you have to know it.

Posted in Blogwanking | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Question for the #blogwanking nerds

Everyone hates the new stats page as much as I do, right?

Posted in Blogwanking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

REBLOG: World Unknown Review is Here!


I’m published in this! I just ordered it for my Kindle! Go check it out!

Originally posted on L.S. Engler:

The announcement I’ve been chomping at the bit to make is finally here! I might be pushing it out the door a little early (KDP is giving me weird cover issues and the physical book isn’t yet available on Amazon), but I just can’t wait any longer. World Unknown Review is finally here!

World Unknown Review has been an exciting project for me, one I hope to duplicate every year to help put more voices out there in the popular format of our times, independent publishing via Amazon. This first volume brings a lot of really great stories, in a wide variety of genres, from memoir to romance, science fiction and fantasy, adventure and literary. Some of these authors have a hefty list of accomplishments under their belts, some of them have never been published before. There’s a little bit of something for everyone, and, hopefully, everything for someone.


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