New cable company enters Spokane market, will invest $100 million in fiber network

(www.spokesman.com)

The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a 10-year franchise agreement Monday with TDS Telecommunications, a Wisconsin-based company that plans to bring high-speed internet and more than 100 channels of cable television to Spokane customers.

TDS plans to invest more than $100 million to lay hundreds of miles of fiberoptic cable to form a brand-new network throughout the city. The company hopes to begin construction later this spring, although that is subject to negotiation with the city.

This is huge for Spokane. I doubt I'll be able to take advantage of this for a long time since we live a few miles outside the city limits, but allowing Comcast to have a monopoly for decades has resulted in almost no consumer fiberoptic availability in Spokane when we should have had it for at least a decade now.

Keyboard Rage

Spent a couple hours frustrating hours trying to repair a broken Enter key1 on a third party iPad keyboard tonight. The iPad in question is predominantly used by my older kids and for whatever reason they didn't let me know when the key came off the scissor mechanism. Instead they continued to use it with the key floating freely on top of the switch, until at some point it fell out and became lost. Needless to say I was irate to discover this by accident at the end of the day while looking over my son's shoulder while he played a game. My kids are hard on computers and have broken laptop keys before2 so it wasn't a surprise that they had broken the keyboard, but the fact that they hadn't let me know and compounded the situation by losing the key in question before I could attempt to fix it really set me off.

Nobody wanted to take the blame3 and so loss of computer privileges for all three until the key was found was my immediate reaction. Everybody went to bed angry, and I stayed up and started looking for the key. Luckily, I had a pretty good idea of where to find it and after about a half hour's worth of disgusting work dredging the crumbs, garbage, and debris from the crevices of the kids' favorite brown chair in our TV area4 I found the key.

I then spent the next hour and half trying to get the key clicked back in place. Even though I haven't had the usual age related issues with fine print and detail vision afflict me yet5 seeing what was going on with the key and scissor mechanism was challenging in the low light of my office. There was a lot of flashlight and phone juggling happening as I fruitlessly tried to get the key to snap into place. Eventually I started taking off a few other keys to make sure that everything was correctly in place with the the scissor mechanism I was working on, to confirm that nothing was broken, but I was still kind of stumped.

It was only after I realized that the Caps Lock key on the keyboard was identical to the Enter key that I was finally able to partially fix things. It turns out that the scissor mechanism under the Enter key was missing two tiny tabs that were supposed to click into the key and hold it in place. Bizarrely there was no evidence that they had ever been there and broken off- the scissor mechanism was smooth on both sides (and it seems highly unlikely that they would both break). The obvious solution was to cannibalize the Caps Lock key mechanism and use it for the Enter key going forward so that's what I did.


  1. It should really be labelled Return in my opinion, but whatever!

  2. No way they're ever getting a Mac with a butterfly key mechanism!

  3. Also not unusual, but an ongoing source of frustration with my kids.

  4. With a brief equally gross intermission between sides of the chair that I spent searching under the cushions of the sofa in that area.

  5. Knock on wood!

When Will Moderates Learn Their Lesson?

(www.theatlantic.com)

Moderate Democrats also lost presidential elections in 1980, 2000, 2004, and 2016. Since McGovern, moderate Democrats have a losing record in presidential elections: six losses to the five wins by Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama (who ran a more progressive primary campaign than Hillary Clinton in 2008). But this history is lost in discussions of electability. It is as if moderate nominees are undefeated. It is as if the last time a Democrat lost was when the party nominated McGovern in 1972.

Good counter argument to baffling calls to rally around moderate candidates like Buttigieg and Klobuchar instead of the progressive candidates like Sanders (and Warren to a lesser extant) that actually inspire Democratic voters.

Recap: Canes, Emergency Back-Up Goaltender Ayres Top Maple Leafs

(www.nhl.com)

Meet Ayres, the emergency back-up in Toronto for this sort of nuclear event. Ayres, 42, is the building operations manager at Mattamy Athletic Centre. Many describe him as a Zamboni driver, but these days?

"Not very often," he smiled. "That was accurate five or six years ago."

I had no idea that emergency back-up goaltenders were a thing in pro hockey and basically the home rink provides one that either team could use if all their goalies succumb to injury. It's kind of wild that he got to play against his home team, did well for the visitors (and helped keep their playoff chances alive), and the home fans were completely thrilled for him. This seems like a totally Canadian and awesome thing!

Blocked

It's been like a week and half, so kind of hilarious that it took me this long to realize, but apparently Dave Winer blocked me on Twitter because I voiced my opposition to one of his Democratic Presidential Candidate faves Amy Klobuchar. Here's what I tweeted after he tweeted an article calling her the thinking moderate's electability candidate:

Treats her staff like crap. Highest turnover in the senate during her time in office. Hard no.

And apparently that's what got me blocked. Amazing. I've been following one of those former staffers on Twitter for a few years now, had friendly exchanges about random life things outside politics, and trust their expressed experiences and assessment completely. The high staffing turnover is public information.

In the last week or so Dave's assessment of the debates and presidential race has diverged pretty sharply from my take. Bernie Sanders has taken the lead and he's in a full on Bernie panic. I didn't like Bernie 4 years ago. I thought he was too old then and too much of an outsider to get anything accomplished if elected. Personally I prefer Elizabeth Warren and I loved the way she went right after Bloomberg in the most recent debates. But I think it's pretty clear that a lot of people like Bernie, he has a lot momentum right now, and I absolutely think he's as viable a candidate to defeat Trump as there is.

But Dave is all in on Amy Klobuchar and electability narratives, and this tweet of his from today is a real gem:

Smartest move is this imho.

  1. Sanders, Warren, Biden, Bloomberg, withdraw.

  2. In favor of this ticket: Klobuchar + Buttigieg.

Before South Carolina. Make a sacrifice, compromise, do it for our country.

No brokered convention. We start the campaign against Trump now.

There were a lot of likes, and a lot of dissenting replies, but SlickMagnum's tweet made me laugh the most.

Survive and Advance

I started taking advantage of our ESPN+ subscription before our Richland game last Saturday and downloaded some 30 for 30 basketball documentaries to watch during the trip down to the Tri-Cities. Last Saturday I watched Survive and Advance, the documentary about Jimmy Valvano and the North Carolina State Wolfpack's improbable national championship in 1983. That's probably the single best one, but I felt like I needed to change it up for the next trip so yesterday I watched The Guru of Go, the documentary about Paul Westhead, Loyola Marymount, and Hank Gathers. I stopped watching after the part where Gathers died on the court which is sort of weird because it gets really inspirational shortly after that point1, but I had started the drive with a couple NBA Rookie documentaries, and was ready for a break.

The game itself ended up being straight out of Survive and Advance,a close, back and forth showdown the whole game. We trailed 18-20 after the first quarter, but used some 3/4 court pressure to take control in the second and went into the half up 7. Walla Walla came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and immediately closed the gap to within a basket with some steals and clutching shooting. The fourth quarter was tight the whole way and the Blue Devils had a two point lead with just over a minute to go. Then Zach Fleming hit a super clutch 3 to put us up 1, and we were able to get a stop followed by a McCoy Spink layup at the basket. Then we fouled, they missed the front end of the resulting 1-1, we rebounded, ran the clock down and missed the layup that could have iced the game. With 14 seconds left they came down and tried to get up a three, but were unable to get an open look as time expired.

Now we get a rematch with Chiawana in Kennewick's Toyota Center on Friday at 5:45 pm after they dispatched Mead 84-69 in yesterday's other game.


  1. But then again, I've seen this before so I know how it goes. I did find it kind of horrifying that nobody started immediately giving him chest compressions- they literally circled around and attended to him without really doing anything. Based on some additional articles, I think he did have a pulse initially, but they just didn't react with the urgency we do now. I think his case directly informs modern practices- today all athletic personnel would immediately assume a heart issue, start chest compressions, and have a portable AED available on the floor in seconds.

Garage Door Opener Project

I spent a lot more of today working on installing the new garage door opener1 than I intended, but it's installed and works. Installation was perfectly straight forward, but some details ended up being fiddly. I discovered that I needed to move the existing ceiling bracket forward and take a hack saw to the vertical struts so that probably added an hour to the process. Once I got the rail, belt, and motor fully installed I had to wire up the sensors. Again straightforward, but slow going and fiddly to pound in the supplied wire clips and work in the crowded corners of the garage.

Once I got everything wired up it was time to calibrate the door and set the close and open limits. That went pretty smoothly once I learned the correct button sequence, but it took me a little while to get dialed in. I think I may have damaged the door slightly when the initial closing limit was high and I accidentally torqued down on the mounting point pretty strongly. I'm not completely sure though, the damage may been have present before and I just didn't notice.

After I started fully testing the door I was impressed with how quiet the motor and belt drive were. The speed didn't seem that different from our previous opener even though it was probably a little slower. I also forgot that it came with a battery that provides full operation up to 50 times in the event of a power outage. That's a pretty handy feature that hadn't occurred to me before I started looking at openers- apparently it's required of all openers sold in California.

Tomorrow I'll get all the remotes squared away, set up the external keypad, and start investigating the phone app. I'm looking forward to that feature because I don't want to keep a remote in my car when I'm parking it outside regularly, but I want to be able to open and close the door remotely. The app is also supposed to be able to monitor whether or not the door is open or closed at any given moment. No more wondering if you accidentally forgot to close the garage door when you left for work!


  1. A Genie model that Costco carries, but doesn't seem to be available elsewhere.

NFHS Rules Questionnaire

This morning I got an email requesting that I take part in an NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) Basketball Rules Questionnaire. There were a wide range of different questions with some fairly significant rule changes. Here's a brief summary of the proposed changes that stood out to me and my thoughts on them:

  • 35 second shot clock in all states. Yes, absolutely yes. Washington State has had this in place for over a decade and it's been great. Playing Idaho teams in Idaho is a little annoying because they don't use a shot clock currently, but in fairness almost all the large classification schools there play at a fast pace anyway so it's not a huge issue.

  • Dunking in warmups. This has been stupid forever because teams begin warming up as early as 30 minutes before game time and referees do not take control of the court until the 15 minute mark. So teams with permissive coaches allow their players to dunk prior to the arrival of the officials anyway, and teams with old school coaches that are rules sticklers (thinking of my dad and me when I was younger) don't and are annoyed that the other team gets away with it. I can say with complete confidence that player athleticism has gone up in Spokane over the last 30 years and impressive dunks have become much more commonplace. It's a fun thing for the kids to do, it's entertaining to everyone in the gym, and I think it was made out to be an intimidation/sportsmanship thing that is just not the case today if everyone is allowed to participate. This was also the first year that a Spokane official at a team rules presentation before the season actually came out and flat out said that it was basically cool and fine to dunk in warmups before the officials come out, but once they arrive you will get a technical. So I'm fully on board with legalizing the practice.

  • Foul Shot Bonus Administration There were a bunch of related questions about rule variations on this topic so I have to think there's a lot going on behind the scenes with this one. The main proposal was to switch to a system where team foul totals reset after each quarter, 1 and 1s would be eliminated, and a two shot free throw would be awarded after the 5th team foul.1 I was not for this change because it appears to allow teams to foul more without repercussion, but I'd be curious to hear what NCAA women's coaches think about it. And the more I think about it the more open I am to it if there's a good explanation of the benefits of the switch.

  • Uniform Colors There was at least one question about uniform color and allowing the home team to wear solid colors with the visiting team going to white. Basically switching the longstanding tradition of white for home teams and dark colors for visitors. I'm a traditionalist and don't see any reason to change this one.

  • Gear Color Coordination Rules Asking coaches and officials to worry about which color compressions shorts, tights, sleeves, headbands, undershirts, etc. that players are wearing in addition to their jersey is just a waste of time for everyone involved as long as they're a neutral or team color. This has actually gotten better in the last few years, but there was at least one survey question about making it more restrictive again.


  1. It was unclear to me whether you would shoot free throws on the fifth team foul or the sixth, but NCAA women do it after the fifth foul.

Running Woes

It's been a hard winter for running. Not so much because the conditions have been terrible- overall it's been pretty warm and snow free compared to most winters. I just haven't really had my running mojo since taking a bunch of time off back in the Fall to finish our shed project. My weight is up more than I'd like and I think it will be tough to get it back down to where it was for Bloomsday last year and even then I wasn't at an optimal running weight. My plan is to cut out alcohol through Bloomsday at least, try to be a little more disciplined on how I eat, and increase my weekly exercise. I'm kind of dreading another slowdown in my Bloomsday time this year, but I believe this would be my 10th year running in a row so I should probably stick with it even though I'm going to be unhappy with my time.

All my minor complaints about running form aside, I got in a decent short run today after I got home from work. I didn't pack my gear to run at work because I thought I would probably be at practice, but that's not how it worked out. I ended up going straight home because Sean gave the team a shorter easy practice to recover from yesterday's game. I opted to listen to my Brasshouse Gameday Spotify playlist rather than one of my many podcasts and that helped a lot too. I ran at a faster pace than usual and just felt a little more motivated than I have been lately. I'm not going to run tomorrow, but will probably try to fit in a longer 10K+ run sometime Saturday morning.

Heartbreak in Pasco

So close yet so far. Ferris almost got the upset win against Chiawana tonight- losing by a contested 3 at the buzzer in a situation where our defender was supposed to foul before the shot because we only had four team fouls. Instead we let their player bring the ball up, bumped him in what would have been a foul right before he gathered and then he hit a tough three fading slightly to the left as time expired. We'll travel back to the tri-cities on Saturday to face Richland in a loser out game.

In the three other 4A District games Central Valley handled Hanford 76-42, Gonzaga Prep rolled over Richland 69-45, and Mead lost to Walla Walla 61-68 in overtime. I think Chiawana matches up favorably with Gonzaga Prep and should win by about 10 on Saturday; likewise Central Valley should defeat Walla Walla. Mead should be able to beat Hanford at home without any issues this weekend unless they play like they did against Lewis & Clark this year.