Problems In the Supply Chain
09:04 Sunday, 23 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 68.59°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 13mph
Productivity has dipped here. Content is not being created at the pace it once was.
Part of that may be attributed to local events. A mayoral election in Jacksonville has absorbed a great deal of my attention, and much of my energy is expended on Twitter.
The election is May 16th, and I plan to remove my Twitter presence by the 18th. However it goes, I'll be interested in reviewing the reactions. But Twitter has gotten worse. I'd originally planned to leave my profile up, but I think I'll just delete the whole thing. I've downloaded an archive, which I've been unsuccessful at importing into micro.blog. I'll investigate that when I have more energy/interest. It always seems to start uploading, but then stalls. It's a huge archive, which I suppose may be a problem.
In other news, I think I'll be ending my subscription to HBOMax after it transitions to whatever "Max" will become. Perhaps it's just another sign of becoming a grumpy old man, but I've always had a positive view of the HBO brand, and I don't want to pay for "unscripted, reality content." That's called "life," and I get that for free, whether I want it or not. Well, "free" as in witnessing it.
I bought a bunch of Joni Mitchell CDs to fill gaps in my music library. I'd forgotten how much I don't care for "jewel cases." They're so fragile! To say nothing of being plastic. Why not just make them out of nice card stock? Anyway, the Blue CD wasn't readable in two CD players, which was a first. I have an external CD/DVD drive that can burn CDs (I think DVDs too), so I put the disc into that to see if I could rip it. Interestingly, I could. So I ripped it, and then burned it back to a CD-R. Plays fine.
I bought a bunch of CD-R and DVD-R discs at a local Goodwill recently. Since my "digital rights" expire with me, I figured I could burn some albums and playlists that my kids might enjoy to remember me by. Will they? Who knows? But I'll also burn the playlist of digital music I bought to accompany the commemoration slideshow I created for my Dad. In fact, I should probably burn that to DVD as well.
I've been doing pretty well printing a photo card for Mom every day. Having just written that, I'll note that I missed yesterday. But, for the most part, she usually receives one card a day. I've had to start adding "Mom" as a keyword to mark photos I've sent her, because I'll be looking for something I think would be nice, then wondering if I've already sent her that one.
I'm still carrying the OM-1 (the OM Digital Systems one, not the film camera) with me on my walks, but haven't seen many birds. A few, but they don't seem to be around as much lately.
Yesterday was Earth Day. Since Wednesday is trash day, Mitzi and I went out last Tuesday evening to pick up trash along the main road around here, Crosswater Parkway. Took the golf cart. I thought we might try to do the whole length along our development, but I think that's a couple of miles at least, and my back was only good for maybe a half a mile. Still, got a pretty good haul of trash. Mostly those snack bags that blow out of people's golf carts, fair amount of plastic water bottles, one beer bottle, plastic grocery bags, a few cans, not much paper. There is a pick-up effort by the local community development board, and it must have happened recently because it wasn't as bad as it looked the last time I'd driven the golf cart.
Lots of golf carts passed us as we worked, and Mitzi saw something fall out of one of them. They're blazing by at close to 20mph, and she wasn't able to get their attention. Turned out to be an umbrella, in good working order. It'll go to a donation center.
Weather's going to start getting hot and humid soon, so I don't know if we'll be making another such effort in the near term. Maybe. I did see a lot of dragonflies and butterflies, so I may just bring a camera along and take pictures, even if I don't pick up trash.
I guess that's about it for now. Hopefully productivity will improve soon. If not, well, "Ya get what ya pay for," right?
05:23 Thursday, 13 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 69.42°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 12.93mph
Woke up at 0200, tried to go back to sleep. Did some twitter. Tried to go back to sleep. At 0400 I figured I'd just as well get up.
Instead of getting on the interwebs, I grabbed a couple of radios and sat outside and listened to the frogs and the radios. I heard Chicago, New York, Louisville, Nashville and Boston for sure. Apparently someone syndicates old Art Bell shows? I should look that up. Better than religion and political rants. I'm rather surprised at how many of these armchair analysts are in close communication with "my gut." If "my gut" talked to me as much as it seems to talk to these guys, I'd have to look into bariatric surgery just to shut it up!
I got the Panasonic RF-2600 yesterday. Dusty as an Egyptian tomb, but otherwise looked okay. Battery compartment had a little alkaline dust in it, but no corrosion. Antenna was complete and pretty straight. Better than the 2200. Put some batteries in it and Oh Em Gee, this thing has been sitting for a long time! Volume control was scratchy and non-linear. Turned the radio off and just worked all the knobs and switches several times to try and shake loose some of the dust. Turned it back on and volume control was still non-linear but less scratchy. FM came in good, AM went deaf on me. Worked the band select switch and powered off and back on and got AM. Tuner works nice. Did the SW bands and it went deaf again when I switched the BFO on. Turned it off and cycled that switch a bunch of times. Came back to life. Got signals on all bands. Meter works.
Opened the cabinet to see if I could access the switches and pots easily for a little Deoxit, and it looked kind of intimidating. I'll see if the guy who re-caps these will do that for me.
I suspect it's a pretty good radio once it gets cleaned up. Bigger than the RF-2200 and it's missing the strap so I'll have to see if I can't rig something up.
Since I was outside and it was a beautiful day, I went and grabbed the 2200 and the B45 (both Panasonics) and strung a wire up. Sat and listened to hams working 20 meters on SSB on the 2200. Two guys who were neighbors up in West Virginia were talking with a couple of other guys from I don't know where. One of the WV guys has a brush disposal problem, looking to get the county in with a chipper. One of the other guys was cleaning his garage. Someone was going to go make a cheeseburger.
I'll tell you what, it's better than "talk radio!"
The 2200 has kind of a bad reputation for SSB, the BFO supposedly drifts and it takes some close attendance to keep it on freq. Maybe it's because of the re-cap, or maybe I just got lucky, but it seemed pretty stable on 20 meters for me. Takes a light touch to get it dialed in, but once it's there it was pretty solid for the 20 minutes or so that I listened to those guys. You do have to give it a few minutes after you switch it on for everything to settle down.
The B45 impressed me. It's got that gray industrial design that reminded me a lot of the Apple Powerbook Duos. Same vintage. I think I mentioned this radio lived nearly all of its life in Arizona, probably in the vinyl, faux-leather case. It looks brand new. Works pretty good too.
It's got a BFO with a "fine tuning" wheel. Also takes a light touch to get it dialed in, but also pretty stable when you've got it. Listened to a DX pileup with a guy out of Dubai, UAE on 20 meters running 1500 watts. Could've been next door. That's not as interesting to listen to, except to hear everyone trying to get a QSL (confirmed contact) with him. I suspect it takes a lot of patience on the part of everyone, with people stepping all over each other. Siri told me Dubai was 7600 miles away from where I was sitting, give or take.
Pretty cool, I think.
Saw this in NetNewsWire yesterday, The SHTF Scenario Happened! (SHTF - shit hits the fan for the acronym challenged). He makes some good points. With more frequent extreme weather events, wingnuts shooting up power stations, hackers and griefers and bears (oh my), might not be able to count on the internet all the time. Fort Lauderdale got 22 inches of rain in 8 hours yesterday (I think the actual numbers are worse than that, but that's close enough).
Not that I'm advocating becoming a "prepper." I think it's fairly inevitable that we're all going to become at least "prepper-curious" before too long. But if a local radio station has a generator, and I don't know if many do, they may be able to provide information in the event of a widespread outage and you might want to be able to hear it. (How they would get that information is another question!) So having a good, battery powered radio somewhere in your house is probably a wise idea.
Shortwave is kind of an anachronism, but I think it's likewise a good fallback. Might be useful to have a modern SW radio around and know how to use it. One that can do SSB can let you listen in on the amateur operators that may be up in a catastrophe, helping to coordinate communications and relief.
You don't have to buy dusty old radios and pay guys to fix them up. There are good ones on the market from brands like Sangean, Tecsun and Eton. Not cheap, but the prices go up and down so shop around. I've got a Sangean 909X2 and an Eton Elite Executive, both do SSB and air band, along with AM, FM and SW. CC Crane has the SkyWave 2, which does all the above plus weather band. It's a very tiny thing, so it has a tiny speaker. Figure on using earbuds, because that speaker is fatiguing. Also figure on using a wire clipped to that small whip. But it'll fit in a large pocket and weighs next to nothing, so if you're on the move it won't slow you down.
You can still buy scanners these days, but most police are on trunked systems and you're going to need a pretty sophisticated radio to listen to those ($$$), if they're not encrypted, which more and more are doing.
All the cool kids are doing SDR (software defined radio) these days. I confess I understand less about that than I do about other kinds of radios. Naturally, I have one. Well, two. The Mac is not a primary platform for SDR, but if you can run Windows, there's plenty of SDR software. But those radios either need a laptop, or a device with a screen, (some are self-contained) and there's a learning curve. May be a great hobby, but probably not your go-to for a SHTF scenario where you just want to get information fast.
Anyway, that was my (early) morning. Reminded me of staff duty, having the rev watch, in the ops center at 0400, reading traffic, preparing the morning surface ops brief. Radios going off in the background. No smell of coffee though, and I didn't hear frogs in the ops center. Can't say I miss it. Well, maybe a little. But that's a young man's game, and it's been a long time since I was young.
Have a good one.
07:40 Monday, 10 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 62.87°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 20.71mph
I would guess, though I'm by no means certain, there exists within psychology some study of the behavior of "collecting." I think hoarding is understood as some kind of dysfunctional behavior, collecting is perhaps related. Why do people "collect?"
I've been a collector. The objects of my passion seem to be somewhat transient though. For most of my life, I lacked the financial wherewithal to indulge my fascinations, though there were periods in my thirties when I'd collect Apple II computers and software. Back then, people would often give away an Apple II or an Apple II compatible, like a Franklin Ace. I think at one point when I was still married, I had nine Apple II computers in my garage.
Inevitably, the "opportunity cost" of just the space they occupied compelled their disposal, either to other collectors or, worse, to a landfill. I don't think I was aware of electronics recyclers back then.
In recent years, it has again been Apple IIs, peripherals and software; Olympus digital cameras; HP and some other calculators; and now, radios. With the present exception of the calculators and radios, whatever the motivation to "collect" may be has waned over time, and the collections were sold or given away.
I've tried to reflect on where this desire comes from. As it hasn't been in any way problematic, apart from the constant flow of cardboard to the recycling bin, it hasn't been something I've undertaken with the aid of a therapist, so my introspection may be lacking in important ways. Nevertheless, I've tried.
I think much of it stems from our consumer culture, my early childhood where television and the Sears Wish Book, and ads in Boys' Life magazine exposed me to a world of cool stuff that other boys had. Or, suggested they had. To my parents' credit, I suppose, as the oldest child, many of my desires were fulfilled. Though not all, and often not with the actual object of my affection, but an "affordable" substitute.
There's a certain thrill with getting something you want, a dopamine rush. It's a feeling though; and, like all feelings, it passes. I knew this as a child too. Where the thing you hounded your parents for finally arrives, there are early days of play and discovery and then it is retired to the closet, or the basement, as something else had become the object of my desire and the bane of my parents' peace.
As an adult, with the internet, I'm presented with the Sears Wish Book, Boys' Life and TV ads multiplied by orders of magnitude. There are videos of people showing off their latest acquisition. There are forums (fora?) where the merits and attractions of various items are extolled or fondly remembered.
It's amazing how many people "regret" selling a camera, radio or calculator. I'm pretty sure it's not genuine regret; it's just seeing other people praise the thing you once had and no longer do, so whatever the dopamine hit is of having your discerning taste validated is denied you in that moment, and you experience that as "regret." I doubt anyone wakes up in the morning missing a camera or calculator or radio.
I've got a box of cameras, lenses and accessories next to my desk I need to offer to KEH.COM soon. The last time, I netted over $1,000 and an empty shelf in my office. This won't be quite that much, though last night I decided I could part with my macro flash, which I've never used, and that will probably bring a nice offer.
I've got a box of HP calculators that are superfluous to my collection that I will try to sell, at a fraction of what I paid for them.
Easy come, easy go I guess.
Then there's the "thrill of the hunt." Watching eBay or Goodwill auctions for a deal seemingly too good to be true. They do exist. I bought a nearly complete Sony ICF-SW1 radio, lacking only the manual and the wrist strap with the attached plastic tab inserted as a stand in the base of the radio, in working order and near-perfect cosmetic condition for a third less than other such listings. The same price for non-working units with far worse appearance. I think it was just a quirk in the way the seller listed the auction that threw more experienced buyers off the scent, because they move quickly and I mulled this one over for days.
I have a Panasonic RF-2600 inbound, which I'd previously decided I wouldn't acquire. It's a nice radio, but it's fairly large and it doesn't really offer anything my RF-2200 doesn't offer. It does have a larger speaker, as a bigger radio; a digital frequency display; and a BFO adjustment that can make listening to single sideband a little easier.
I "watch" items to see what they ultimately sell for. This sometimes yields an offer from the seller, which I usually decline. On Saturday, I got an offer for this 2600. It was listed for $219, which was a fairly attractive price, but I'd already decided I didn't want the radio. There was no shot of the battery compartment, which isn't a good sign, so I just wanted to see what it ultimately went for.
The email said the offer was for "5% off, was $147.26 now $139.89." That didn't sound right because I knew that radio was listed for over $200. And who posts a price of "$147.26"?
So I went back to the listing, and it was still available for sale, at $219! So, $80 off? I didn't know if the offer was an error, or if I was being manipulated somehow. Seller seems fairly new, only 380 completed sales. Even as a "parts" radio, $140 wasn't awful, so I bit. It hasn't shipped yet, so we'll see what happens. Free shipping and accepts returns, shouldn't be too risky.
Anyway, there's an element of treasure-hunting to collecting as well.
But there's one common thread in all this, and that is "desire." Now, maybe that's related to the dopamine reward of having a desire fulfilled, but I've desired all these computers, cameras, calculators or radios because I like them in some way. They were cool or clever or just damn good at what they did. They possessed ostensibly objective qualities, and many subjective ones, that made them desirable. They were "good" devices, gadgets.
Now, who collects Nazi memorabilia?
And what's going on inside them?
06:19 Thursday, 6 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.8°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 10.36mph
I know it's been out for over a year, but Mitzi and I finally watched Lincoln's Dilemma on Apple TV+. It was outstanding. Every bit as good as anything Ken Burns has done. Learned a great deal. Had known much of the broad strokes, but this really filled in the picture. I know I'm probably going to watch it again. Need to buy Reynolds' book too.
I'll also add that I'm fairly confident this documentary series would be banned in Florida schools.
American Experience is offering The Sun Queen now, and it's also fascinating, if also disappointingly familiar. I genuinely hope it's not too late to transition to an all-renewable energy infrastructure. We might be living in a vastly different reality today but for the discovery of middle east oil.
It's a one-hour episode, so it's easy to make time for it, and well worth the effort.
When Will AM Be Hip Again?
05:31 Thursday, 6 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.8°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 8.05mph
I haven't dug into my AppleScript bug, I've been too busy playing around with radios. For all the technical wizardry, speed and sophistication of the internet, there's still something cool about turning a dial and pulling a signal out of the ether.
It's just a shame that there's not much worth listening to.
It seems like religion is the main content provider for AM broadcasts, and is a big part of FM too. The other big part is "talk radio," which is mostly just angry white men ranting, or spouting conspiracy theories or talking tough to imaginary liberal listeners. I can't decide if it's more frightening or laughable, but it is both.
Is there an opportunity here for a modest analog resurgence? I mean, film, vinyl, why not AM radio?
What's the content? Live music performances? "Live" podcasts? Classifieds? Radio drama? Live radio coverage of nerd-culture events? Comedy?
I don't know. Seems like there might be some kind of opportunity there. I mean if enough people listen to religious programming and angry white men to keep the lights on, seems like there might be enough people to listen to something, you know, "normal."
I'm old enough to remember when FM was cool. Playing whole albums, and no ads! Or at least not ads for cars and personal injury lawyers.
Nostalgia is a powerful drug.
I'm pretty amazed at how far FM can broadcast. I've been regularly hearing Orlando stations here in Ponte Vedra. Savannah too. I don't know if that's just because there's a strong evaporative duct near the coast here or what, but it's kind of cool. Never noticed it before. Probably because the only time I listened to the radio was in the car.
AM at night is pretty crowded. Haven't quite figured out how to sort that mess out yet. Can easily pick out WCBS in New York, and it's listenable. I like the traffic reports.
I bought some suction-cup hooks the other day to try something. Most of these little shortwave radios come with an external wire antenna. Some of the radios have a jack, others you just clip the wire onto the whip. They're pretty long, and I've used them out back before, but I never really had anything to hook one end on. They'll work laying on the ground too, but it's better to get them up as high as you can, and fully extended.
Anyway, I put a suction-cup hook on two of the pillars of Mitzi's new screened enclosure, and I was able to unwind the full length of reel antenna that came with the Sangean 909X2. I could sit in a comfortable chair and tune around. I was pleased with the difference!
I could receive many signals on the whip, but many more on the wire. Listened to a guy in Maine talk to a guy in Stuttgart, Germany on 20 meters on SSB. If I unplugged the antenna, I could make out one of them but not hear the other. On the wire, they were both loud and clear.
Most of these conversations are just quick DX (long distance) check-ins, kind of measuring the performance of their gear. Fun for the operators, but not exactly fascinating conversation. It was kind of exciting to listen to though.
Anyhow, seems like my next efforts will be in antennas. The challenge I have is I'm kind of sealed in by the screened enclosure. I could drive a grounding rod into the lawn, but no way to pass a wire to it through the enclosure. May just have to resort to bug spray and brave the mosquitos. But I might also just lay a bunch of wire on the pavers in the enclosure as a "counterpoise," see how that works. I don't know what I'm doing!
But it's a harmless distraction from all the other bullshit going on around me.
11:48 Saturday, 1 April 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 80.51°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 16.11mph
Forgot to kick off a new month! So Life's Little Frustrations is going to appear in March's archive.
As only seems suitable.