Welcome! This is my personal blog, where I chat about whatever takes my fancy, reminisce about comics, Old Time Radio, and science-fiction fandoms, review what I feel like reviewing, and so on. It also archives scans of some of the fanzines with which I've been involved.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

John Maddock Mad6 China

F+W Media decided to sell the corporate guest houses in Iola, and one of the final steps was emptying the Thorson House of its assortment of furnishings so that the new owners could move in. Over the weekend, employees bid on this and that, and I ended up with a slew of wine glasses (including matched sets of 14 small glasses and 7 larger ones; is "glasses" the term? goblets, maybe?), a slew of old china, and (yes! thinking ahead!) a slew of maroon towels. This morning, the beverage containers are on the mantel, and the china resides on kitchen surfaces. In the case of the china (for which I paid $85, more than the minimum bid), my first curiosity was what the pattern actually is. It's not a complete set, though there are lots of dishes. There's no gravy boat. There's no sugar-and-creamer set. So what if I wanted to add those? And these dishes have been in use for decades, so several pieces are chipped. So what if I wanted to replace them? (The set seems to have a base of 12 [though I bet it began as 14 before attrition hit].)

Kind Kim Frankenhoff came to the rescue, having been handed a saucer, and she came up with the following:

The set is (as identified on an assortment of dish bottoms) Royal Vitreous made by John Maddock & Sons. And (yay, Kim!) the pattern is officially known as Mad6. The startling information comes from an eBay search, where I find the Oval Covered Vegetable dish (above), for example, is priced at $245. And the Round Footed Soup Tureen is $375. On the other hand, the Round Covered Vegetable Dish is a mere $195. Ah, and a cup and saucer set (a couple above; I have 8) is $32 @.

This does not bode well for the goal of filling out the impulsively purchased set with a gravy boat. Mind you, people offering random pieces on eBay are probably not those who can even identify the pattern, so there'd be a posting something along the lines of "Old Gravy Boat RARE!" and I'm not about to spend the time. The prices in the preceding paragraph are those from online stores that specialize in identifying and selling this sort of thing, and I'm not about to spend the money for their expertise. So probably what I have is what I'll stick with, though I'm still curious as to when it was manufactured and what was in the "complete" set. (Old china can be weird; Valerie gave me a bunch of Haviland china a few years ago in what a friend identified as the "Apple Blossom" pattern -- and it included ramekins and strange dishes for fish bones. Heck, a cup and saucer set from that pattern is listed at $60 from Replacements Ltd.)

I love the idea of even having a Round Covered Vegetable Dish, and it's been used enough that I trust my dish is not truly worth the full $195. But this is a hobby in which I've probably dabbled to my limit already.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Why Won't Garmin's Nuvi 260 Display 6-Lane Roads?

I mean really! Why?

I love my big, clunky, falling-off-the-dashboard-despite-the-friction-mount old Garmin. Because its maps are out of date at the moment, it sometimes thinks I'm sitting in a field, whereas I'm actually in a huge new shopping center. But it identifies the frickin' roads in Wisconsin, be they super-highways or county route or lanes or (sometimes) even alleys.

I bought a Nuvi 260 for trips in Maryland, because I frequently end up driving through the traffic in Silver Spring. I thought in my cleverness that it'd be great, because (1) Garmins are cool, (2) this has newer maps than my old Garmin, and (3) it's lightweight and has a cool mount for the vehicle and so on.

And after a week, I ask, Huh? It's great on the four-lane roads. It tells me how fast I'm going, it lets me imagine myself as a beachball, it's up to date, it ... Well, it has one problem, which I've wrestled with all week: It won't display information on 6-lane highways. These aren't freeways; they're just streets with names and route numbers and stoplights. And 6 lanes of traffic.

Georgia Avenue, Connecticut Avenue, University Boulevard: stop-and-go traffic, primary routes people are likely to tell you if you ask for directions. "Take University Boulevard to Viers Mill Road." Viers Mill is identified, but University Boulevard (aka Route 193) is just a massive orange line. Massive enough to have "University Boulevard" and "193" in big, bold letters. But there's no ID. Connecticut Avenue, oddly enough, displays momentarily (along with its 185 ID), if it's at an angle seen while I'm on a back street. But when I get close, it cloaks itself in orange anonymity.

I tried all the configurations: Show Most, Show Least, Show Normal. I tried zooming in and zooming out. I tried both "View Map" and "Go To." It knows the streets when it's telling me to turn onto them in "Go To." But it won't label them on the map itself.

So what the heck is with that? I e-mailed Garmin and did get back a prompt response. In part, it read, "The Nuvi's do not provide every road in writing while in the View Map mode. The unit will provide the name of some streets as you travel, but not every one of them. Please turn your Map Detail to Most to help provide more detail level on your map screen. As well, you may want to be zoomed in to a more finite view of the map to allow the unit to pick up on the surrounding roads.

"The Nuvi's are a sleek and slim device that are intended to be used by first time GPS users. Having too many features or too many items on the map can overcomplicate the user and not give a user friendly experience."

(As noted, I'd already tried zooming in, out, and about -- and accessing the widest variety of displays. The 6-lane roads were identified on none.)

Now, I fully understand the part about not showing everything. But not showing the most major routes? How would showing them confuse a driver?

Sigh. I still love Garmins. And this one has already triumphed in a situation involving back roads and an unfamiliar address. But (and I'm sure the 260 has already -- despite its purchase within the last month -- been outmoded) it'd be nice if newer models emulated the clunky Garmin antique still serving me in Wisconsin, identifying the major routes. Just saying.


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