"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

Don't Fall For It

09:56 Thursday, 31 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 82.38°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 295

Like a dumbass, I tried to take advantage of Bud Light's 4th of July $15.00 rebate. I submitted images of the receipt and the barcode on the 18-pack and got confirmation and a tracking number, and promptly forgot about it.

But I'd made a pdf of the confirmation. The other day as I was sorting through my "PDF Intake" folder, I saw the rebate confirmation and remembered! I went to the web site and checked the status. As I recall, it said something to the effect that it was approved and I should expect my check in a couple of weeks.

So I've been kind of watching for something that didn't look like the usual junk mail, and so far, nothing.

Today I went to check on that status and it says "Fulfilled." I guess that means the check has cleared? And it was "Fulfilled" as of 12 July! Which, to the best of my recollection, was before I'd checked the status the first time, a few weeks ago.

In any event, I've received no check.

Being a glutton for punishment, I tried the "Contact Us" link. No one available to "chat," so I tried to fill out the email form. The mandatory fields include "promotion number." Well, I can't find a promotion number on any of the correspondence I received from Anheuser-Busch! And a google search yields nothing. Well, of course.

But they are running another promotion for Labor Day!

So, be warned. They'll renege on the "rebate." No avenue of appeal. And $15 isn't worth the time I've wasted on this already.

Bought the beer because I didn't like the bullshit boycott. Well, sympathy is wasted on corporations.

I recall Mitt Romney saying, "Corporations are people too, my friend!" Yeah... Assholes.

08:43 Thursday, 31 August 2023

Words: 68

Medium telephoto image of an osprey perched in a pine tree, taken from below

Started walking at 0700, so it was still pretty dim. Brought along the E-M1 Mk3 with 12-100/f4 mounted. Tried to do something "artsy" with the setting moon over my suburban cookie-cutter landscape and failed. The tree is really the subject here, the osprey is just a bit of eye candy.

Retro

05:36 Thursday, 31 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 75.49°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 368

It was something of "lazy" day yesterday, if that word has much meaning for a retired guy. We'd tune into the news every now and then. I watched the pressure on the barometer and noted when it started to rise again.

And I spent a lot of time playing, and enjoying, Untitled Word Game Pro at the Internet Archive. I played it in the browser, and you can too, rather than in Virtual II. (Turn off the sound in the emulator if you leave the browser. It'll make some noise when it's not getting attention.)

Over the weekend, I'd started dusting off my copy of Virtual II. I discovered that many of the "saved states" I'd made were broken because I'd rearranged the file structure. I'd had a //e configured for UCSD Pascal v1.3 with a 1MB RamWorks card. Makes for a lot less disk swapping and fast compiling. A configuration I called "ABIDE" for "Apple-Beagle Integrated Development Environment" with a bunch of Beagle Bros utilities. Program Writer and Beagle Compiler being the two main ones, with Michael Mahon's USR square root routine.Putting all that stuff back in order now, and doing some general housekeeping.

It was a bit of self-care after the chilling act of hate that played out not so far from here on Saturday. I really don't know what to say except all the claims by local officials that, "This is not who we are," ring pretty hollow. Hate has made a home in Florida, and Republicans have made it a permissive environment for it to thrive here.

Hate has always been in Florida. It never left. But for much of that time, it hid in the shadows. Afraid of the condemnation and criticism of the larger society. Today it feels emboldened and empowered by a state government and a gerrymandered voting majority that has made it clear that some people are unwanted and unwelcome in their Florida. The bigots and bullies feel valued and validated; and though they still hide their faces behind masks, they're unafraid to spew their messages of hate and even to kill and to terrorize.

It's a pretty awful state of affairs, and Florida should be ashamed.

Blue Moon

05:01 Thursday, 31 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 76.06°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 167

Telephoto closeup of the full moon on 31 August 2023

Idalia passed well to the north of us. All we experienced in my area were some clouds and gusty winds. I'd expected (and hoped for) a couple of inches of rain, but we got less than half an inch through the whole thing. We're pleased and grateful, and we know a lot of people weren't as fortunate.

I know these full moon shots aren't terribly interesting as photographs. Not close enough to reveal impressive levels of detail, and there's nothing terribly interesting in my bourgeois suburban Florida neighborhood, where the horizon is seldom farther than the house across the street, to put in the foreground. But I do retain some feeling of wonder that I can get a shot like this by holding a device in my hands. This is a handheld high-res shot from my E-M1X with the 100-400mm zoom mounted. Lately, my go-to camera for moon shots.

Rain

08:03 Monday, 28 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 79.54°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3mph
Words: 58

Drone photo of cumulus clouds raining over the intracoastal waterway

No birds, but some great clouds. Got home from the walk and put the drone up. Stitched together a ludicrous pano and posted that at Flickr. This is one frame. It's been a very dry August here, we'd welcome a bit of that rain.

This and That

05:26 Monday, 28 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 78.21°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 694

Sunday was Tinderbox meetup day. Mark Bernstein gave a master class in using action code stream parsing to identify specific highlights by color within the body of a note, and creating new notes with the highlighted text. In doing so, he also demonstrated how to create a series of test notes, breaking down each step in the process in order to identify where a problem might occur. It was pretty amazing. Here's a post in the forum that links to the video, the chat and the file itself if you're a Tinderbox user or interested in what it can do. I mainly use Tinderbox for output, but lots of people ingest text into Tinderbox for analysis.

In the "pre-show," some of us were chatting about "old software." I mentioned that Tinderbox was perhaps the longest serving application I've ever owned, maybe exceeded only by TypeIt4Me, but I'm not certain about that. Mark checked his records while we were talking and reported that I'd purchased my copy in June 2002, not long after it was released, at the still-introductory price. Consider that Mac OS X Jaguar, 10.2, was only released on August 23rd, 2002. So Tinderbox was a MacOS 9 application back then.

I would have been running it on an iMac G3 "DV" (or "slot-loading"), the second iteration of the "gumdrop" iMacs. I recall I bought that iMac on credit from Sears, of all places. This is before the Apple Stores, when Macs were available in large retail department stores. I'd been a part-time "product rep" at the Navy Exchange at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base when I was stationed there with the Board of Inspection and Survey. I was a geographic bachelor and it gave me something to do on weekends and a little extra spending money.

I wasn't sure yesterday if I was employed in June 2002, but looking over some old documents, I think I'd just been hired. That might explain why I wasn't deterred by the purchase price of $95 back then. I'd officially retired from the navy on 1 September 2001, and the economy kind of went on pause following 9/11. I wasn't hired until 2002, and I think it was about mid-year. It wasn't long after that when I bought my "dream" Mac, a PowerMac G4 MDD. I wasn't so rich that I could afford the top of the line, but it was still pretty sweet. And noisy. I just sent that Mac to recycling a few months ago. I'd always thought I'd set it up somewhere, but it's huge and our house is small. Hence my interest in "calculators," though enough of them can become problematic as well.

We were also discussing software documentation, and I mentioned to one of the participants that they should check out 4am's write-up of his efforts to defeat the copy protection scheme in a 40 year old piece of Apple II software. Click on the text file link in this Internet Archive entry for Spare Change by Broderbund. It's both entertaining and fascinating.

As regards my effort to get the HP-75D talking to the HP-IL video interface, that went smoothly. Just have to tell the computer to use it. "Display is..." or something, can't remember just now. Kind of like the old "PR#3" on an Apple II, when you wanted to activate the firmware on an 80-column display card in slot 3. The interface has 996 bytes of RAM built-in, and as long as it's plugged in, whatever was in there, stays there. So I was still looking at the HP-71b text when I connected the 75D! So there's a 32-line buffer of 32-characters each, 16 lines displayed on the TV at the time and you can scroll up and down in the buffer. Haven't seen if there's a way to copy any of that text back into memory or not. I suspect not.

Today I'll probably mess around with saving and loading files on the 64K of "mass storage."

Ok, you're all up to date. Carry on with whatever it was you were doing.

05:21 Monday, 28 August 2023

Words: 36

Telephoto closeup of a waxing gibbous moon

Little luck with birds the last few days. Stuck my head outside to look for the moon last night though. Wasn't disappointed.

Soup

05:45 Saturday, 26 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.76°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 253

Stuck my head outside shortly after I got up and we're back to being a sauna. Blech!

Yesterday turned out to be a fairly decent day. The humidity wasn't oppressive, and there was just enough breeze to keep you from roasting. So we hopped on the golf cart and tooled over to "food truck night" for dinner. Had some BBQ and a beer, made a circuit of the trucks and headed back to the golf cart.

I feel like we're still early in the presidential race, but that hasn't stopped some resident from adorning their golf cart with a Trump 2024 flag, paired with an American flag, as is the custom. We'll see how that develops. There are always golf carts with large American flags mounted on the back of the cart. I really don't get it. But then, I have Buckaroo Banzai, Big Lebowski and Serenity stickers on our cart. Pretty sure nobody gets that either.

COVID is ramping up again, and of course now we have to travel. A wedding over Labor Day and then Mom's 90th birthday later in the month. I know I'll be wearing a mask. It's not just the fact that I'm traveling, but we're going to be around others who are traveling as well. If it were up to me, I'd just stay home. As it is, I feel like September is going to be a month of anxiety. If I manage to stay well, I'll be very grateful.

Such is life in these modern times.

Retro Rockets

13:08 Friday, 25 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 90.54°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 952

Kind of a pun on the way "retro" technology can kind of "slow" your progress in other areas. Still, I'm having fun.

Started a local entropy reduction effort in the Command Cave yesterday. Maybe only 30% complete, but I made a "clean spot," so I decided to try out the HP-82163A, HP-IL video interface. A few days ago, I found the little composite video input dongle for my 32" TCL "smart" TV mounted on the wall next to my desk. Put it aside where I'd have some hope of remembering it when I got around to testing the video interface.

The biggest challenge was finding an outlet to plug the interface into. This required crawling beneath my desk, which at my age and weight is not a fun thing to do. Happy to know I could still get up afterward! Power connected, I plugged in the composite video cable, and the two HP-IL cables. I only have two, and they're the 5-meter cables, which are insanely long. So if I want to connect the printer or the tape drive as well as the video interface, I'll need to buy some more. They're very pricey on eBay, but I'll keep an eye out.

With nearly everything connected, I then learned I had to configure the TV to recognize the composite video interface, because the TV is, you know, "smart."

I grabbed the HP-71b first, because it was small and near to hand and has a more sophisticated HP-IL interface than the HP-75. Plugged in the HP-IL cables (again, happy that my 71 came with the HP-IL module, that's pretty pricey too), turned it on and Boom!

Text on the TV!

I think it's like 20 lines of 32 characters, so it's smaller than even the Apple II's 40-column, 24-row text screen. But it's a huge improvement over the single line of LCD characters built into the device.

So then I grabbed the HP-75 and plugged it in and... nothing.

I think I have to tell it to look for the interface. I started reading the docs, but then got distracted. Surprise.

The original HP-75 I bought with the tape drive and thermal printer doesn't seem to want to run on batteries. I bought a replacement battery pack that uses ordinary AAAs in lieu of the NiCads it originally shipped with, and checked the voltage on the terminals and it seems fine. Computer runs fine on AC power, but won't on battery. I'm guessing there may be a capacitor shot in there somewhere.

Well, as it happens, I had bought another HP-75, this one a "D" model, badged "AT&T Information Systems," with the barcode wand interface (but no wand), and the "Pod." It's an enclosure for the computer that includes a 300baud modem (Novation chipset, of Apple-Cat II fame.), and 64KB of battery-backed RAM storage! That was only $149!

That computer runs fine on the battery pack in the Pod. I put the original 75 in the Pod, thinking maybe it'd work on battery from the Pod. It doesn't, so I put the AT&T one back in it, but not before making sure the AT&T 75 runs on batteries outside the Pod. (I had to use the battery cover from the other HP-75, since the battery pack is actually removed when it's mounted in the Pod, and a part of the Pod itself occupies that space.)

Anyway, I started looking for the docs on the interface and the computer. I have one of those HHC thumb-drive archives, found here, that contains nearly everything ever written about these devices and... Oh, shiny!

Yeah, didn't get very far. But, I did verify that at least the 64K RAM mass storage is still accessible. So that's very convenient. Don't have to worry about whether or not the tape drive works, or I have cables. Don't have to mess around with those magnetic "cards," (really, about 1-foot long strips). And I stumbled on an easter egg on YouTube where if you type "kubla khan" at the ">" prompt, the computer will "recite" it in the LCD.

I'm somewhat chagrined to mention that I also caved on a ROM module purchase I thought I'd talked myself out of yesterday. HP made their own modified version of VisiCalc for the 75. I couldn't imagine how you could use a spreadsheet in that one-line display. There was one up on eBay for $175, which is more than what I paid for the 75 in the Pod. So I went to bed thinking it was something I'd never use, let alone "need."

Then this morning I read an article by the lead HP programmer who built the program and decided that it was cool enough that I should own it. It was a "make offer" listing, so I offered $149 and I got it. "Fool and his money," yada, yada, yada. I should put that in a spreadsheet.

What's interesting is that the 75's OS allows you to have various "files" resident in RAM, and they made spreadsheets the same sort of thing. You can have more than one worksheet resident in RAM and make references from one sheet to another. And you can call BASIC programs from cell formulas, which also seemed pretty cool. So there are some extensions to BASIC that are specific to VisiCalc in the ROM.

I'll put that module in the AT&T 75 in the Pod to take advantage of the built-in mass storage. (64K!)

Anyway, that's me. Spending my kids' inheritance and not getting my housekeeping done...

The beat goes on.

08:03 Friday, 25 August 2023

Words: 99

Snowy egret wading at the edge of a pond in dim early morning light.

Went out to get the paper this morning, and it actually felt nice. Almost cool. That's because the temperature was ~73°F! Humidity was still high, but you can deal with that. So I walked a little early, before the sun was over the trees. As a result, it was a little dim for photography. I wouldn't usually shoot in this light, but I figured it might be the only bird I'd get this morning, so I tried. Turned out ok, I think. Snowy egret.

Boil Water

09:32 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 84.63°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 197

I've mentioned before that I try to take a moment each morning, as I'm filling my water bottle, to appreciate the privilege it represents. To be grateful for it.

Well, we had a water main rupture earlier this week, and unlike receiving power wirelessly from a remote, off-site fusion reactor, which insulates us to a great extent from utility outages, we are pretty much dependent on JEA for our water.

So I've been boiling water at night to fill my water bottles so they're cold in the morning. It's the first time I've made use of the "Hi/Boost" setting on the induction range. It does boil water fast. Of course, it does nothing to help cool it after it's been boiled. But I've started early enough in the evening now that I just watch a TV show while it's cooling.

While I really value safe drinking water, what really troubles me is what happens if the water utility fails and we can't flush out toilets?

It's not like we can all go dig a latrine or build an outhouse.

So, another privilege to appreciate while we enjoy it.

Because it may not always be so.

Spell Checker

09:27 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 84.15°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 67

As I'm eating breakfast this morning, Mitzi and I are discussing the Republican debate. All of a sudden, it occurs to me that I misspelled Nikki Haley's name in my post.

Seems kind of odd, but also interesting. Some part of my brain is either still editing that post, or trying to make itself heard when it couldn't as I was writing it.

Anyway, corrected the error.

The "Debate"

08:25 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 80.13°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 142

The marmot did not watch the Republican Presidential Pageant last night, as the judges interviewed the contestants to gauge their intelligence and personality. I have seen some of the coverage this morning. Suffice to say, none of those individuals possesses the qualities of leadership, intelligence, integrity or character to be president of the local neighborhood watch. Yet the Orange One, or one of these clowns, will be a candidate for the highest office in the land next year.

The marmot thinks America is on the verge of becoming a failed state..

The biggest knock on Joe Biden is his age. But the marmot thinks he's been a decent president. I certainly wouldn't want any of these jokers seeking the job to replace him. If absolutely forced to choose one, it'd be Nikki Haley. The marmot doesn't think she's totally lost her mind.

08:22 Thursday, 24 August 2023

Words: 61

Telephoto image of an airborne mosquito control helicopter

This morning's (non)bird: St Johns County Mosquito Control District airborne asset. Heard a helicopter lingering nearby but out of sight. Figured it was the sheriff's, but then it flew into my line of sight. Glad to see them. Little buggers have been thick and aggressive lately.

For Jack Baty

07:03 Thursday, 24 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 76.51°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 3.87mph
Words: 50

Photo of a dead fish lying on the sidewalk, probably dropped by an osprey

Hey Jack! Spotted this on my (birdless) walk yesterday. It made me chuckle. Figured some osprey had dropped its breakfast. Funny enough for me to grab a shot with the phone.

Hey, it's not a bird!

09:36 Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Words: 115

Closeup telephoto image of a newly-opened bird of paradise flower

Shut out on birds yesterday and today. This morning the second of Mitzi's three bird of paradise plants flowered. She's had these plants for two years, and this is the first time they've blossomed. The third plant had a stalk(?) that would have become a flower, but it seems to have died. Two out of three ain't bad, I guess.

Shot this with the E-M1 Mk3 with the 75mm/f1.8 in 25MP handheld high-res mode, which is why the framing is a bit off. Should have backed off a bit to allow for camera motion and the frame blending.

So True

06:33 Wednesday, 23 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 76.23°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
Words: 25

Looking at southern California, Maui, Canada and I'm reminded of William Gibson, 20 years ago: "The future is already here — it's just not evenly distributed."

Funky

08:57 Monday, 21 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 82.99°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 406

In a funk all day yesterday. Didn't sleep well Saturday night. Surprised at how the death of a fictional character seemed to affect me.

Played with the HP-48SX, working my way through the manual. Didn't require much real thought, other than puzzling out the locations of the various shifted keys. My SX has one column of dead pixels. I've seen worse. Some dumb part of my brain wants to look for a "perfect" one. So far I've managed to squelch that. I can run a "perfect" emulator if I really need to, which I don't.

Wanted something light last night. It seems harder and harder to find anything worth watching as a "new release." John Wick 4? Please. I own 1-3. (Well, kind of "own" them. I guess I have them on sort of "permanent loan" until I die or something, because I'm not passing them along to my heirs, so I guess they're not really "mine" are they?) Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I thought they went one too far with 3. Love Keanu, but really.

So I turned to my library of "permanently loaned" movies. Watched The World's End, figured that'd cheer me up. And it did. I'd actually forgotten how it ended, or at least a key element of it. I guess there are some welcome aspects to having less facility with memory as one ages.

Caitie texted me yesterday about the earthquake, she didn't feel it but apparently a lot of her friends in LA did.

Stepped outside this morning and my sunglasses fogged up. The house is at 77°F, so the dew point was above that, and there was no dew on the grass, so the ground never cooled below 78-79°. Felt like a sauna. Yellow flies were numerous and aggressive. Notched another five "kills" on the walk, at the cost of at least two bites. They don't itch very long, but intensely for the brief time that they do. One was so aggressive I assumed I must have killed its sibling and it was seeking revenge.

Was lucky on some bluebird pics, as previously posted. Flickr Uploader seems stuck at the moment. Le sigh.

Got back soggy from the walk. Turned on the ceiling fan in my office to dry me out as I processed the pics. Now I need to shower, as I no longer feel funky, I am funky.

Have a wonderful Monday.

08:48 Monday, 21 August 2023

Words: 37

Telephoto closeup of a bluebird perched on a blue aluminum fence, back to the camera head left, sunlight reflected in left eye

This morning's bird. I took some shots from farther away, unsure if it'd let me get closer. This is straight from the camera.

G'night Moon

07:59 Sunday, 20 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.79°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 56

Photo of a crescent moon in the latter evening twilight hanging above a suburban house illuminated by landscape lighting.

Spotted the crescent moon last night and had to take this. Used the E-P7 with the 25mm/f1.8. Already posted it on mastodon, but I'd posted an earlier crescent moon this month, so I figured I'd post this one as well.

Mistakes Were Made

05:47 Sunday, 20 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 78.48°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 731

Wasn't my night, last night I guess.

We'd finished watching season 4 of Unforgotten, not season 3.

So, spoilers I guess. You know the drill.

I wonder if Chris Lang had the arc of the whole thing worked out before it began, or if it came to him as the series progressed, or if the dénouement was something of a practical requirement because of Nikola Walker?

One of the great things about the show is watching the suspects react as more and more of their past is revealed. How they fray as each piece of the puzzle is slowly fitted into place.

Binging the show as we did, it seemed to me that by season 3, Lang wanted to show another side. There's a scene in season 3 where the victim's ex-boyfriend, who had been a suspect decades ago, delivers a lengthy, bitter, stinging rebuke to one of the detectives. It's pretty much the only reason he was written into the season, I suspect. In the first two seasons, the police are all depicted as competent, professional, empathetic "good guys," albeit with complicated personal lives, at least in the case of DCI Stuart and DI Sunny Khan who are the only police regulars with three-dimensional characters. I suspect Lang perhaps received criticism for that depiction of the police.

A love interest is introduced for both Khan and Stuart. In Cassie's case, he's an ex-career "copper" off the force for budget cuts, who was a junior detective on the original case, now "an historical murder." It seems his role was also to, at least at first, depict the police in a less-flattering light.

Season 3 also focuses on how DCI Stuart begins to fray, as a decades-long career as an empathetic police officer, interacting with people at the worst moments of their lives, finally exhausts her emotional resources.

Season 4 turns the spotlight fully on the police, as all the suspects are, or were, police officers. DCI Stuart has applied for early retirement for mental health reasons. Things aren't great at home, despite now being in a loving relationship with former DCI John Bentley. Her father has been diagnosed with dementia, and is in a relationship with a woman Stuart suspects may be taking advantage of him. A change of will is a plot point. One of her sons is living at home and seemingly slow to find work.

Her request for early retirement is denied, and DCI Stuart is forced to return to work for about three months to complete 30 years service to be eligible for full retirement, or forego over 100,000 pounds in retirement income. Suffice to say, she reluctantly goes back to work and cracks the case.

Not before being doubted, criticized, rejected.

And then her car is hit by a stolen Range Rover in a moment of distracted driving brought on by fatigue and emotional distress, ultimately leading to her death.

The best thing about Unforgotten was Nikola Walker's portrayal of DCI Cassie Stuart. I was fully invested in her character, and her death felt needlessly cruel and unfair. Mitzi said they lifted it right out of a Law & Order season, but I don't know.

So much of the series plays out on the faces of Walker and Sanjeev Baskhar as DI Sunil "Sunny" Khan, as they interview witnesses or interact with victims. What you see there, in Law & Order would be verbalized and far less effectively. I think that's what was remarkable and different as a police procedural. It's high-stakes played low key. The tension, the reactions, conveyed in subtle facial expressions, brief acknowledging utterances. No histrionics. No bravado. To be clear, there are hard, direct questions. But no bullshit table-slamming, or chair throwing.

I loved DCI Cassie Stuart. I loved the series. I loved Chris Lang's writing. In season 3, one of the suspects talks about how life can be turned upside down in a moment, in an arbitrary, unfair event that changes everything. And in another moment, it can bring joy and happiness, seemingly equally out of nowhere. I don't know if Lang was telegraphing Cassie's death, but it seems significant now.

Before she died, Lang lets us know she may be in a new place, a better one. That at least some of the anger was gone.

To borrow from Willie, "Out of kindness, I suppose."

Terminology

20:24 Saturday, 19 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 83.88°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 114

Sitting here doing nothing else, I figured I might mention that I used the term "identity" this morning in the context of a fraction's conjugate. It occurs to me that I likely used that word improperly. While I find math fascinating, I mostly noodle around with it and so I'm inclined to often make mistakes.

Basically, we're multiplying by 1, which doesn't change the value of the expression. So it remains an "identity." It does alter the terms in a way that is helpful.

But yeah, I probably used the word wrong. As always, like ChatGPT, I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You're encouraged to do your own thinking.

Unforgettable

20:12 Saturday, 19 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 83.95°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 21

Finished watching Unforgotten, Season 3 this evening. Real punch in the stomach. Great series. DCI Cassie Stuart is an unforgettable character.

14:10 Saturday, 19 August 2023

Words: 30

Arial view of an isolated rain storm in the distance over a suburban landscape

We haven't had any rain in over a week. Seems to keep falling all around us!

Coming Around

10:11 Saturday, 19 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 86.49°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 176

The other day, I mentioned something that I've long believed. That technology isn't the solution to anything. At best, it's a tool. Tools don't solve problems, they help people solve problems. And most of our problems have to do with us. Our human nature.

We've grown enamored with our tools and our facility with making them. We have more faith in technology than we do in ourselves.

In the early days of blogging, the blogosphere was filled with internet triumphalists. "This changes everything!" Markets were conversations, everything was miscellaneous, gatekeepers were being overthrown, marginal costs were going to be zero for digital goods, yada, yada, yada...

It was all bullshit.

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

I understand the euphoria, the enthusiasm. I understand the endocrine rewards of novelty and attention. I understand how the intoxication skews thought and reasoning.

And in a competitive, capitalist, attention-based economy, I understand how bullshit came to be dogma.

You don't find many of the triumphalists recanting these days. I don't expect many will.

So this was something of a refreshing read.

Math Help

08:57 Saturday, 19 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 81.57°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 578

Buying the HP-75 has turned into a new, and likely passing, obsession. While it's burning, I've spent a lot of time browsing the HP Museum Forum. There are a lot of math posts, as one might expect. So I've been pulling some books out of my library and looking at "recreational" math on programmable and scientific calendars.

Of course, I'm still keeping up with my RSS feeds, and a couple of recent entries from Dr. Drang seemed timely, almost to the point of synchronicity.

And when I wasn't browsing the forums, or noodling around with my HP-41CX, I pulled one of my "popular literature" mathematics books, Mathematical Sorcery, by Calvin C. Clawson, off the shelf and thumbed through it looking for something to read while sitting in the recliner. In Chapter 8, Extending the Form, I spotted some continued fractions, which was one of the topics Dr. Drang explored, so I decided to read that.

Clawson goes some way to "show his work" in explaining how continued fractions can be used to find a square root. I like to think I'm an educated person, but he used a term I was unfamiliar with as it appeared in this context: "Our next step is to write the term within the parenthesis as a fraction and multiply its numerator and denominator by its conjugate."

I couldn't follow what he was doing, so I went back to my library and pulled the Penguin Dictionary of Mathematics, off the shelf and looked up conjugate. There are many entries beginning with "conjugate," but none in the context of a fraction. I was no further enlightened.

So before turning out the lights last night, I figured I'd ask ChatGPT, "What is a fraction's conjugate in mathematics?" I received this helpful reply:

In mathematics, the conjugate of a fraction refers to a way of changing the sign between the terms in the fraction. The conjugate of a binomial fraction is obtained by changing the sign of the second term. For example, if we have a fraction (a + b)/(c - d), its conjugate would be (a + b)/(c + d).
The conjugate of a fraction is commonly used when simplifying or rationalizing expressions involving square roots or complex numbers. By multiplying the numerator and denominator of a fraction by the conjugate of the denominator, we can eliminate square roots from the denominator or simplify complex numbers in the denominator. This technique is helpful in various mathematical operations, such as simplifying expressions or solving equations.

Knowing that ChatGPT gives clear, confident answers that are often wrong, this morning I pulled the tome Mathematics, From the Birth of Numbers, by Jan Gullberg, from the library and looked up "conjugate" in the index. There were no entries with respect to "fractions," but one of the two entries was binomial surds, which I knew referred to irrational numbers, like some square roots. So I went to that page, and it was largely a discussion of rationalizing and simplifying expressions containing surds. So I knew ChatGPT wasn't blowing digital smoke up my butt.

It all became clear. You multiply by the conjugate identity to eliminate the square root in the denominator. I could follow along after that.

Out of curiosity, I checked the entry for rationalize in the Penguin dictionary, and while it mentions multiplying by an identity with an opposite sign, it never specifically mentions "conjugate."

Anyway, ChatGPT can be helpful, at least pointing you in the right direction.

09:05 Friday, 18 August 2023

Words: 25

Telephoto closeup, three-quarter view, of a small Florida gator with its snout resting on the bank of a pond with sunlight illuminating its right eye.

No birds this morning. Well, a couple of vultures. Gator though.

10:34 Thursday, 17 August 2023

Words: 65

Telephoto closeup of a green heron at the edge of a pond.

This morning's bird, a green heron. Cloud cover made conditions somewhat dim. I heard one across the road, where I'd seen one yesterday. I looked for it in the trees, but didn't see it. Spotted this one next to the pond shortly after. Unremarkable image, but we do what we can.

The Limits of Technology

10:16 Thursday, 17 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 82.4°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 252

I like to keep up with Dave Winer's Scripting.com blog, because he's been around for a long time and brings an important perspective to a lot of the conversation.

That said, something he posted this morning prompts me to comment. Dave wrote, "The answers to our problems can be found in the new tech."

To be fair, I'm taking Dave's comment somewhat out of context. I understand what Dave's saying here, that there are ways to develop technologies that help foster behaviors that are less "problematic," and I think I'd agree with that.

But, in general, I think it's incorrect to say that the answers to our problems are found in new technology.

I've said this for a long time now, technology changes how we do things, it doesn't change what we do. Our problems are in the latter.

Because of our facility as "makers," we are biased toward invention when seeking solutions. That is, we look for external solutions to our problems, when the source of our problems is mainly, internal, and related to desire. And there's no technology that can fix that.

There are few external rewards for introspection. No increase in social status. It's not especially difficult, but we don't introduce it in our educational systems, because we don't value it, and so we don't learn how. And when we do look inside, it's often responding to an inner voice that is a notoriously unreliable narrator, which can become problematic in itself.

But we do love our technology.

09:55 Wednesday, 16 August 2023

Words: 41

Telephoto closeup of a bluebird perched on a warning sign next to a retention pond.

Didn't see much this morning. A green heron, but it was a little too far away. Shot it anyway. But the bluebirds are always nice to see.

Unforgotten

05:31 Wednesday, 16 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 78.04°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 520

While the writers and actors are striking, and I hope they get everything they want, Mitzi and I have been watching "new to us" past series, especially British programs.

We've just finished season 2 of Unforgotten on Prime and it's outstanding.

Where Lancaster, er, I mean Halifax had several examples of cringe-worthy dialog in every single episode ("I'm still your commanding officer!"), Unforgotten has some of the best dialog I've ever heard in a police procedural.

The title of the series is a double entendre, that snuck up on me about two-thirds of the way through the first season. At first I thought it was about the victim being unforgotten with the discovery of the crime. But it's really about the explosive damage the act of "unforgetting" the past delivers to the present. It made me think of UXB, if you've ever heard of that. It's not an especially novel idea, but it's extremely well done here.

Mitzi and her daughter Sherri love Law and Order, in all its many manifestations. I mean, really love it. I liked the characters in the original series, but I don't care for any of the others. A six-episode season of Unforgotten is like the first half of a single episode of Law and Order, which is a vastly different dynamic. There is no "trial" portion. The case is solved and we're offered some idea of what the future might hold for everyone, but there are no courtroom theatrics.

It's a slow boil as the detectives work hard to identify a victim who's been dead for over 30 years. That's the forensic piece that's always been fascinating to me since I read Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, back in 1984. So far, there's been no "profiler," which is a tired saw as far as I'm concerned. It's just gumshoe detective work, aided by some bits of fairly interesting forensic science. As these cases are so old, there's no "blood spatter" analysis, which is refreshing.

The on-screen violence is largely confined to bits of stylized flashbacks of recalled memories. There's no man-handling of suspects, no car chases, no SWAT teams. But the tension is still palpable as the noose grows inexorably tighter and you try to figure out which of the ensemble of possible killers did it, and why.

There's no snarky banter from the detectives to the suspects. No bravado, no threats. "I know what you did, and you're going down for it!"

Nicola Walker is a marvelous actor. She's in a lot of these British shows, and Mitzi liked her in Last Tango in Halifax (no relation to Lancaster, er, I mean Halifax.), but that was a rather soapy affair with everyone always yelling or in tears all the time. Not my "cuppa." But I think she offers a remarkable performance as DCI Cassi Stuart. All the cast give credible, understated performances.

As much as I've enjoyed Luther, this is like the exact opposite and, really, much better and far more enjoyable.

Kudos to Chris Lang, the writer and creator. This is great TV and deserves a wide audience.

06:08 Tuesday, 15 August 2023

Words: 54

Telephoto shot of a cattle egret standing in front of a suburban home

With the slightly cooler temp, I walked later yesterday morning, with enough light to carry a telephoto zoom. Spotted this cattle egret looking a bit uncomfortable standing in front of a neighbor's garage. I don't see them often around here.

Cool

05:58 Tuesday, 15 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.18°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 70

If you care to notice, the temperature recording for this post is somewhat less than the previous one, but both are below 80°F. (Speaking of precision...) My local reading is 76 point something. Yesterday was likewise around 77 and so yesterday's walk was far more pleasant.

It's really kind of amazing how much difference a few degrees can make in your perception of discomfort. The humidity is still ridiculous.

It Figures

04:45 Tuesday, 15 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.45°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 601

Calculators and handheld computers consumed what time I might have spent with the marmot yesterday and Sunday, though I did sit in on the Tinderbox meetup on Sunday.

I need to correct something I mentioned on Saturday. I had the impression that the TI-89 series used a Z-80 processor and that's not the case. It used the Motorola 68000, as did the TI-92. The 89 was basically the 92 without a QWERTY keyboard, which apparently made it acceptable in some classroom settings where the 92 wasn't permitted. I knew they are largely feature identical, (the 92 has a larger screen) but seemed to recall being somewhat surprised to learn the 89 had been supposedly developed using the Z-80. I don't know where I got that impression, but it's false and I wanted to correct my error.

In other news, I also mentioned NTDS on Saturday, and it seems much, if not all, of the text of a book on the history of NTDS, When Computers Went to Sea, is available online as a web site. Even if you're not interested in NTDS, chapter two (link at the bottom of chapter one), has a nice capsule history of computer development. It also offers a more nuanced view, crediting Eckert and Mauchly with the "stored program" design of a general purpose computer, something that has historically been credited exclusively to John Von Neumann.

And as a font of all wonders, the Internet Archive will serve up a Naval Postgraduate School paper on using handheld calculators and computers for Target Motion Analysis. I think this is a variation on existing programs in the tactical program library, as I was on shore duty in September 1983, and I think I had been introduced to the HP-67/97 and Sharp PC-1500 programs while on sea duty. It's not important, and I suppose I could dig out my service record and check the dates of my schools. I know I did not see either the HP-75 or the HP-71 as part of the tactical program library, possibly because I think the handheld programs were subsumed by a larger Navy computer effort called JOTS, the Joint Operational Tactical System (Jerry O. Tuttle System).

Parenthetically, with regard to the paper using target bearings accurate to a tenth of a degree, I'm skeptical. With an acoustic towed array, I suppose it's possible to resolve bearing to that precision, if the array is long enough; but I think the tactical towed arrays weren't that long and were probably capable of 1 degree of bearing resolution at best. I could be wrong. And the baseline for own-ship onboard high frequency radio direction finding is likewise not capable of bearing resolution to a tenth of a degree. Again, I could be wrong. But I was surprised to see the author using inputs of that precision. The idea behind TMA was to get an area of probability that was practical to search with a helo or other asset, or to place a Harpoon or Tomahawk missile with its own onboard sensor within an area that ensured a high enough probability of acquiring the target.

One thing leads to another in these spelunking expeditions and I found a guy who makes an arduino interface for the TI-74 and TI-95 to replace the cassette recorder interface, which is nearly impossible to find. $30 shipped, so...

Finally, as serendipity would have it, there's a book coming out on "the rise and reign of the pocket calculator," Empire of the Sum. I looking forward to reading it.

13:22 Saturday, 12 August 2023

Words: 84

With regard to the previous post, I modified the program in each of the machines to eliminate the display of intermediate results. In that instance, the performance changes radically. The HP-75C comes in first, displaying the result in about 1s. The TI-74 is second at about 2s, while the HP-71b comes in a distant third at about 5s, which is still radically quicker.

I was surprised a bit to see the HP-75C overtake the TI-74, given the original performance.

Distractions

08:06 Saturday, 12 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 81.23°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 990

I've been playing around a bit with the HP-75C. I received a replacement battery pack, which takes AAA NiMH batteries. I'm disappointed that it doesn't seem to power the computer. I haven't investigated the matter further, I've been using the wall wart instead. Previously, the wall wart wouldn't power the computer with the original NiCad pack in place. It does work on the wall wart with the AAAs installed, so I'm not sure what's going on. I haven't put a meter on it yet. It hasn't stopped me from playing around with it.

Yesterday I did a little comparison between the HP-75, HP-71 and a TI-74 BASICALC calculator. The TI is roughly contemporaneous with the two HPs, appearing in 1984. I wrote a little BASIC program to sum the digits from 1 to 100, displaying each intermediate result. The HP-75 chugged along at a pace where I could view each result and register what the number was before the next one appeared. The HP-71 was positively glacial, which surprised me. The TI blew through the program so fast I had to add a PAUSE statement at the end to see the total!

That prompted a digression down a processor history rabbit-hole. Apparently it's been well known since the beginning that the HP-75 was faster in many respects than the HP-71. It has a genuine 8-bit cpu designed as a general purpose digital computer. The processor in the HP-71 is the Saturn, a 4-bit calculator chip, which went on to serve in various HP calculators up through the HP-50 (2006), and lives on today in emulated form, vastly faster, in the HP Prime on an ARM Cortex processor. The TI uses a TI cpu, the TMS70C46. I don't know if it went on to any other products. TI used the Motorola 68000 in its later TI-92 calculator, and a Z-80 in the TI-89.

I thought I was pretty much over my calculator obsession, but the HP-75 seems to have re-ignited it. I've since bought some more old crap I'm unlikely to ever need.

So that was the topic of this morning's walking reflection. I haven't really needed a calculator since the Naval Academy. At least, nothing more than a standard 4-function handheld, and seldom not even that, since I do most of those things in my head unless it's a long chain. At Annapolis, I had a TI-56(?), something below the 59, no card reader. It was programmable with a modest number of steps. I recall I only programmed it a few times, mostly for working homework problems quickly where I could check the answers against those in the back of the book. Mostly it replaced log and trig tables.

Some mids had HP calculators with their bizarre "reverse Polish notation." Most of us had TIs though. I think they were more affordable and I know they were available in the Midshipman Store. I don't remember if HPs were carried. The HPs looked as different as they operated, green and tan versus TI's black. The HPs seemed to have better keys though, and that huge ENTER key.

After I was commissioned, I went on to some Navy schools, one for Combat Information Center Officer, and there we were introduced to the HP-67/97 and the Navy's "tactical program library." We got to play around with them a bit and they seemed exotic to me, a little exciting. I don't think we had one aboard GLOVER when I was CICO.

When I went to ASW school, we played around with the HPs again, and a Sharp handheld computer that was intended to replace the HPs. It had a little micro-cassette drive and thermal printer. We used them for "target motion analysis." You'd enter a series of passive bearings from a sonar contact into a program, alter course and enter some more. The handheld would output the data that defined an ellipse, where the target was likely to be. You could then have your helo fly out to search that area. Pretty cool stuff. We did have the Sharp handheld onboard, but we never seemed to use it, not having a towed array.

TMA later became hot again with the introduction of the Harpoon and later Tomahawk over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. How do you target a weapon beyond active sensor range? By plotting electromagnetic emission intercepts. HF comms, mainly.

We did have an HP 9830 "calculator" aboard GLOVER for deployment. Ships that didn't have Naval Tactical Data System computers could receive a teletype broadcast of link track data that was human-readable, and plot the information on a plexiglass "vertical plot" using grease pencils. It was definitely non-real time, and when there were a lot of tracks the poor Operations Specialist who had to do the plotting was quickly task saturated. The HP 9830 received the teletype signal from radio central and ran a program called ECLIPS, which I think stood for "electronic calculator link processing system," which could parse the Link 14 messages and display them on a miniature vertical plot on a small CRT without getting task saturated. I can't say it was ever terribly useful, but I thought it was cool.

It seems I developed a certain fascination with HP products along the way, although I couldn't afford any back then.

I finally bought an HP-41CV in 1983 or 84 when I was on shore duty and badly managing my money. I still have it, it's in the drawer next to me. I learned enough RPN to use it, and played with a few programs; but it hasn't been of much real use in all the time I've owned it. Still think it's pretty cool though, and it still works too.

Scratching old itches. I guess that's what I'm doing these days. Gets expensive.

Dawn Patrol

07:55 Saturday, 12 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 80.89°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 231

Wide angle portrait orientation shot of a tiny crescent moon barely visible in a blue sky above a suburban house in the minutes before dawn

It's been about a week now where the morning low is 79°F or higher, with the humidity above 90%. The heat index is only a couple of degrees higher than that, but you can add 10° to that in direct sunlight. So if you want to walk at something approaching a "vigorous" pace, you want to do it before the sun gets very high.

This means it's pretty dark for birds, so I've been carrying the Olympus E-M1 Mk3 with the mZuiko 12-100mm/f4 lens. It's got a little bit of reach for tight cropping, but not enough for closeups. Mostly I use it for landscapes, or flowers.

But I've been playing with handheld high-res lately. I've been making 50MP images, because that's what I'm accustomed to with the moon. I'm a little embarrassed to admit you can make 25MP jpegs from HHHR as well. You may be asking why, given that the sensor's native resolution is 20MP, what's the advantage of a 25MP image?

You gain better noise and dynamic range, by a couple of stops at least. Not that this exposure shows that. I've put some pics up on Flickr that similarly don't really exhibit that, because I'm just playing around right now, getting familiar with the feature in this context.

10:53 Thursday, 10 August 2023

Words: 33

I concur with Jack Baty and Petapixel. I don't make enough use of all of Flickr's features, but that's slowly increasing. I prefer Flickr for sharing photos to things like Instagram or Pixelfed.

Rabbit Hole

08:44 Thursday, 10 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 83.52°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 76

Got little I'd planned accomplished yesterday. Went looking for my Dad's other pics of Nagasaki, found a couple and uploaded them to Flickr at the end of the LCS(L)-103 album. Decided I should look for other pictures of Nagasaki after the bombing to see if I could identify at least the church. Failed. But then I got sucked into this at the Truman Library, and pretty much the rest of the day was shot.

14:01 Wednesday, 9 August 2023

Words: 114

Dropped a card in the mail to Mom this morning. Timed it perfectly, as the garbage truck was just collecting our trash, so I brought the container back up to the garage on my way back in the house. I flipped open the cover to the keypad and saw a flash of green and felt something cold and soft hit my forehead and stick!

Startled the heck out of me and I jerked my head forward to dislodge whatever it was. It fell to the dirt, happily not on the hard pavers. Little green tree frog! Seemed to collect itself and then hopped into the shrubs. Another Florida moment. One of the good ones.

Nagasaki

11:31 Wednesday, 9 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 91.53°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 161

Dad was on occupation duty in Japan immediately after the war. While it was clearly the desire to achieve an immediate surrender following the use of the atomic bombs, the Allies were by no means prepared to undertake an occupation of the Japanese home islands. So sailors from the amphibs were used as occupation forces, and Dad spent some time in Japan and made it up to Nagasaki. How or why, I never found out. There are more pics around here somewhere, but they're pretty grainy. This is one of the better ones. I'm not certain of the date, but I can probably find it if I look hard enough.

Nagasaki

Fascination

08:43 Wednesday, 9 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 82.69°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 77

While things may be pretty grim, there is no denying that a lot of exciting things are going on as well. I really enjoyed this video, and welcome this research. Just wish we didn't have to wait two years to begin collecting the data!

An Illustration

17:34 Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 98.89°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 50% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 24

Screenshot of a Tinderbox file containing a small outline

Perhaps this might help with regard to the previous post.

Maintenance Update

15:48 Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 97.39°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 55% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 695

At the end of last month, I was working on trying to automate some of the aspects of maintaining the marmot by using some of Tinderbox's many features. I implemented the solution from Mark Anderson on the thread here.

That bit of action code looks like this:

if($Created.year == date("today").year){

var:string vName = date("today").format("MM y");

var:string vPath = create(vName);

};

That's a concise format, but what you're seeing is a conditional test, "if($Created.year==date("today").year)", which checks a built-in attribute "Created," (data type - date) which is automatically assigned to each note. The ".year" operator restricts the value to only the year, and compares it to "today," one of Tinderbox's keywords for date-type attributes, again with the dot-operator that restricts it to only the year.

If that condition is met (true), it executes the code within the curly-brackets. It declares two variables, each of type "string," one for the name of the note, and the other for the path within the hierarchy. The latter isn't essential for our purposes, but you can use vPath for some other purpose if you need it. You could also just go right to "create(vName);"

The next line creates the note, vName.

So you're seeing the type declaration and the value assigned in the same line. In the case of vName, today it'd create a note named August 2023.

On September 1st, it'll create a note named September 2023. The helpful bit of magic here is that create(vName) will check to see if the note already exists first. If it does, it doesn't create one, with no fuss.

So on the 1st of January, the Archive note will run its edict and notice that the archive container 2024 doesn't exist and create it. That note will run its edict, and discover that the container January 2024 doesn't exist and create it.

But there's one more important bit of magic that has to occur to make this a fully hands-off operation. How do you get the edict for the Year container into the edict tab of the 2024 container? That's where the idea of prototypes comes in.

Once I created the 2023 container that would automatically create new month containers, I duplicated that note (Edit=>Duplicate), and re-named it, p_Year. The "p_" is not a formal requirement, it's just a convention to offer a quick visual reminder within the name of the note that it's a prototype. You don't have to do that, or you can assign a little icon to it, or do nothing at all. But you do have to tell Tinderbox it's a prototype.

There are a number of ways you can do that. Each of them essentially does the same thing, it toggles the IsPrototype boolean attribute to "true" (puts a check in the box).

You can do that in the Prototype tab of the Properties Inspector for your file. You could also turn on the built-in prototypes from the File menu, which creates a Prototypes container at the bottom of your outline. Anything you place in that container is automatically assigned IsPrototype=True. (A lot of stuff happens in the Inspector, so here's a link to its entry at A Tinderbox Reference.)

I have that container open, so I just dragged the re-named duplicate to the Prototypes container. So now there's a prototype Year container that already has the action code for creating all the months for any year in the future.

There's one thing left to do, to make the 2024 container (on January 1, 2024) automatically make the January 2024 container. Once a prototype is created, you add this bit of action code to the Action tab of the Action Inspector for the Archive container:

$Prototype="p_Year";

Once that's done, every year container the Archive container creates will be based on the p_Year prototype, and that action code for creating the month containers will already be embedded in it. Pretty cool.

I'll probably continue building out the test vehicle and writing about it, mostly to try and make myself more familiar with Tinderbox.

Backup

15:26 Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 97.52°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 56% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 346

Screenshot of the iOS Tesla app during a power outage showing state of charge of the Powerwall, solar output and home consumption

We had a power glitch yesterday, FPL had a transformer fail. I never saw it while I was working on my iMac. Mitzi's iMac shut down and she said she saw her lights flicker, which prompted me to check the Tesla app on my iPhone.

The Powerwall is configured to switch to grid power once it has discharged to about 20% of capacity, leaving that as a backup reserve in the event of an outage. That's why the state of charge is at 22%, we'd been making enough power to start charging the batteries again, but we were still some way from peak production.

There were actually two outages yesterday, we never noticed the second one. We received an email from the HOA clubhouse that it was closed because the power went out around 1:10 PM. Though it was restored quickly, the HVAC units didn't come back up, so they closed the clubhouse. I checked the app and it shows two backup events yesterday, at 8:49 AM and 1:10 PM each about 5 minutes long.

I don't know if they were exactly 5 minutes long, or if the software running the switch-over waits a few minutes to see if power is stable before re-connecting to the grid. By all accounts, they were brief interruptions, but probably not good for anyone.

It got to over 100°F here yesterday, so we're using a lot of power for air conditioning; and Mitzi and I each used the car yesterday so we got about a third of our total power from the grid.

In the illustration above, the house is only consuming 400 watts at that moment, while the array is producing 2,000 watts so you see 1600 watts going to the Powerwalls. It's animated in the app, so it's clearer.

We've been in Saul Hall for four years now, three of those years receiving power wirelessly from a remote off-site fusion reactor you may know as "the sun."

Insured

12:13 Tuesday, 8 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 92.98°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 150

Got our flood insurance renewal notice yesterday. $800 for this year, 16% increase from last year. Still, it's a relatively cheap form of risk mitigation. The downside is that the max policy coverage is $250K for the building and $100K for contents. I'm not certain that would be entirely enough, though it's also not clear to me what the process would be to leave this home after a total loss. Probably something I should learn about.

In any event, if we have enough storm surge to get to the house, my guess is we may have wind damage as well, so our regular policy should help out.

In any event, the most frustrating part of the process was that the renewal page wouldn't render correctly in Safari, and I ended up having to launch Firefox to do the renewal.

I fully expect there will be a similar increase next year.

Ok, Doomer

10:22 Monday, 7 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 88.36°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 691

It's been interesting watching the change in tenor in the conversation about climate change over the past couple of decades. When I started blogging back in 1999 on Dave Winer's editthispage.com, my blog was called Time's Shadow and I was notionally going to focus on the things I thought were likely to yield big changes in society in the years ahead. I thought they were nano-technology (not so much, it turns out), genetic engineering (starting to see it) and climate change (can't miss it).

Back then, there was still a bad faith debate on whether climate change was even occurring. It wasn't bad faith on everyone's part, but the big oil companies were acting in bad faith, and many people of possibly good faith relied on them. That we were seeing anthropogenic global warming made sense to me, and the evidence seemed pretty strong even then.

Well, fast forward almost a quarter of a century, and the debate has shifted radically. While there are still holdouts who maintain, "the climate is always changing," nobody is denying that climate change is occurring. The parties still beholden to the fossil fuel industry (Republicans, in the main. Some "libertarians.") are now embracing adaptation and resilience as our response, while mitigation, that is, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions, never seems to enter the conversation.

Among the climate-"woke," it's no longer about trying to convince people that climate change is occurring and we're responsible for it, it's about overcoming the resistance to mitigation on one side, and the edge of the Overton window that now includes, "We're doomed" on the other.

I struggle on this issue, because I'm pretty far into the "we're doomed" end of the spectrum. But, it's not helpful.

I subscribe an RSS feed from The Invading Sea, which covers "Florida and the Climate Crisis." It's a news-aggregator, so there are pieces from other platforms and papers. Lately I've been seeing some op-ed pieces from "young Republicans" who are acknowledging climate change and seem to exhibit some appreciation for the threat it poses. They typically advocate for "conservative, market-based solutions" over "big government." The only specific action I've seen is advocacy for the carbon tax, and the usual deregulation to "spur innovation."

This makes me angry. The single biggest reason we have failed to address climate change and transition away from fossil fuels fast enough to matter, is because of Republicans. But we are where we are, and blaming people isn't going to help either, even if they are overwhelmingly responsible.

I'm still somewhat baffled by what I see going on around me. I'd say "astonished," but having read a lot of history recently, I realize there's an enormous quantity of hysteresis in social systems. America knew what was taking place in the Pacific and in Europe long before December 7, 1941. Roosevelt tried to do what was politically feasible for him to do, at least for Europe. Much like what Biden seems to be doing with regard to the climate emergency.

It took a galvanizing moment to move people to action, and that was Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. It seems like this reservoir of concern or anxiety, a sense of needing to take some action, just builds and builds, until something comes along that breaks the dam. And then a lot can happen.

If there's a reason to be hopeful, WW II suggests what this country can do if it turns its will and its resources to it.

But I don't know what the catalyst will have to be. Will we be slowly boiled, or will we jump out of the pot?

I'd tell you that climate change is just one dimension of a larger problem, which is the root cause. But that's all really bad news, and this doesn't end well in any scenario. The best we might hope for is the least worst outcome.

For now, I remind myself every day that I am an incredibly privileged individual, and I try to appreciate that fact, be grateful for it and acknowledge that I in no way deserve it.

It's just an accident of birth.

Better Today

09:13 Saturday, 5 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 79.3°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 773

Slept normally last night, and I feel pretty well today. Still a little groggy, but much closer to "normal," whatever that is anymore.

I mentioned the other day being distracted by old Hewlett Packard handheld computers. Well, that turned into owning another HP. I already had an HP-71b, the baby brother to the HP-75C.

I was a little bored, and I made the mistake of looking for calculators on shopgoodwill.com. There I saw an amazing "find." Someone donated a fairly complete HP-75 setup, computer, micro-cassette drive, thermal printer, 8KB memory expansion, RS-232 interface, a bunch of magnetic strips, several rolls of thermal paper and a couple of micro-cassettes. And the boxes and docs! I "favorited" it and planned to make a bid. The auction ended last night.

I know how these Goodwill auctions go, at least for "vintage" electronics. The prices get crazy. So I went to eBay to see what 75s were going for these days. There I found a roughly similar set-up, although not as all-inclusive: 75, cassette drive, thermal printer, HP-IL cables for all. Only one wall wart for the lot, no docs, no mag strips, one micro-cassette. Seller didn't appear to normally offer electronics and it was listed at $350, which was where the Goodwill listing was sitting right about then. They had a "make offer" option.

Price-wise, $350 was a reasonable deal with the peripherals and the case, but I always make an offer and it was accepted at $325.00.

That package arrived yesterday, prompt shipping and well packed. Computer works, but the battery pack is shot, which was no surprise. I've ordered an adapter battery holder that allows me to put rechargeable NiMH batteries in place of the NiCads. I won't charge them in the computer.

Computer is nearly pristine, so I'm quite pleased. Haven't tested the peripherals yet. Rubber rollers seem to be the main things that fail. We'll see.

While I was waiting for the Goodwill auction to come up, I looked for an 8KB expansion module, and found one of those and made an offer. Computer comes with 16KB onboard, 8KB more is nice to have, though not essential for the little "fun" diversions for which one buys these things.

Also spotted an HP-IL video interface, which was kind of pricy at $225, no "offers" entertained. Looked brand new, but who knows? Bought that too. Isn't here yet.

So last night I had to figure out my strategy. Computer looked like it'd seen use. Photo of the manual showed it was very worn, and there were little figures or something added to the keyboard. So that added some uncertainty about the state of the peripherals. They didn't have a closeup of the computer, but I'm confident the one I already have is cosmetically superior.

I did my math and figured that to buy that lot piecemeal on eBay would come in over $700. If I won the auction, I'd keep the best of everything and sell the remainder as a lot by auction. So entered my bid of $713 with about 56s remaining on the auction. Someone came bid $687 with 23s left, which wasn't enough to beat me. Don't know what their final bid was, but same bidder was able to get another one in with 11s remaining, and got it for $714.

Shipping and "handling" was estimated at over $40, so I'd factored that into my price. Add some sales tax and I think the final bill likely approached $800. The buyer can probably make some money piecing it out on eBay, but I don't think it'll be a windfall. Of course, if they're a collector it's a decent price, but not an eye-popping bargain. You're paying for the convenience of getting nearly everything in one package, though.

I'm not terribly disappointed. I went back on eBay and bought a package of mag strips for a ridiculous price, and the manual for the micro-cassette drive. I have pdfs of all the manuals, but I like paper ones for important things. I'll get a couple of new battery packs for the printer and micro-cassette drive. I won't miss the RS-232 interface very much.

I ask myself what the hell I'm going to do with this crap? I don't know. Leave it as a problem for my kids to figure out, I guess.

The HP-71b I bought came with the HP-IL interface module already installed, so it can use the other peripherals as well.

Lesson here is to stay off shopgoodwill.com when I'm bored!

08:05 Friday, 4 August 2023

Words: 27

Telephoto closeup of the back of a mourning dove looking over its left wing, perched on a pine brance.

This mourning dove. Got a killdeer and a bluebird too. Up on Flickr.

Update

05:49 Friday, 4 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.36°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 313

We learned a bit more about the young man lost in the woods behind the house.

Turns out, he overturned his nice SUV on the road leading to the kayak launch point, which runs adjacent to the end of our street.

Some friends of friends were stuck on that road for a couple of hours while they worked to clear the wreck and get the kid out of the woods. They sent some pics to our friends, who sent them to us. They weren't very good, but you could tell it was a fairly recent SUV, maybe brand new. Have I mentioned that St Johns County is the third wealthiest county in Florida? So I guess his parents probably bought him a car, he wrecked it, and that precipitated a crisis. I'm inclined to think alcohol was involved and the legal drinking age is 21. So a wrecked car and a DUI before you're 21. Almost a rite of passage.

That little kayak launch point is a favorite for teenagers and young people. The county had put up an automatic swing-arm barrier that raised and lowered on a timer. People just smashed it. Did it enough that the county just gave up. So there are kids down there at night, blowing up fireworks, drinking, being kids. Deputies are there periodically, but not often enough to matter.

We complain that the road is in such terrible shape. I mean, it's really bad. But it's probably the only thing that keeps the speed down at all, and it doesn't do a very good job of that. Some of these kids love their big, loud pickup trucks and you hear them hauling ass up and down that road, confident in their beefy suspensions. I guess they're pretty confident in SUVs too.

Anyway, I'm glad I didn't wade out into the swamp looking for that kid.

Not Sleeping

05:20 Friday, 4 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.4°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 251

Second night in a row I'm awake a little before 0200 and can't really fall back to sleep. I wasn't troubled by bad dreams tonight. What I recall of them involved cameras. Wednesday night was related to the events depicted in Oppenheimer, and they were unpleasant.

I hate not sleeping, because it makes me unproductive for most of the rest of the day. I was fairly productive yesterday morning, riding the bike and taking some pictures at the pond and posting them. But the rest of the day I just felt like my ass was dragging. I'd planned to work on the blog test platform, but couldn't summon the cognitive effort. I think today will turn out likewise.

We watched Sneakers last night, because it was a relatively lightweight, humorous adventure that was unlikely to disturb my dreams. We've been watching a lot of stuff dealing with serial killers. Deadloch, Luther, Lancaster, er, I mean, Halifax. Kinda creepy! We watched an episode of Archer as a kind of palate cleanser the other night when Hijack concluded. Wasn't about a serial killer, but pretty dark and violent in any case.

Looking foward to the return of Slow Horses on Apple TV+ in September. Can be kind of dark and violent, but mostly I just enjoy watching Gary Oldman!

I hope the actors and writers prevail in their strike. In any event, I'm not looking forward to the day when story-telling is done by simulants and replicants. The Chicken McNuggets of entertainment.

Dogears

04:42 Friday, 4 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.56°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 122

In the blogosphere, a dogear may be a starred entry in NetNewsWire. It is for me anyway.

AKMA returns to a marmot missive from June to consider the contours of argument as they differ from disagreement.

I'm happy to report that I agree.

Being a platform that often seems more amenable to passionate argumentation than the deliberate, perhaps collaborative, exploration of one another's "patterns of limits," I think this is a welcome insight. Arguments tend to reduce people to opponents, which, if not rendering them and our common humanity invisible, can certainly reduce them to one-dimensional figures.

Which is something of a personal weakness I struggle to overcome, and I hope some personal ornamentation can be an aid to that end.

04:22 Friday, 4 August 2023

Words: 35

Telephoto closeup of the waning gibbous moon

Can't sleep? Well, bark at the moon. Or photograph it. E-M1X handheld high-res, 400mm (800mm efl), cropped and edited.

This Morning's Bird

11:55 Thursday, 3 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 87.93°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 121

Osprey in flight against a blue sky, bird looking to the right of its flight path with sunlight illuminating the left eye.

Overslept because Oppenheimer kind of disturbed my sleep. Rather than walk in the Florida sauna, Mitzi and I got on our bikes and rode to a retention pond called Settler's Pond, which has a walking path around it and some nice amenities.

At first I was disappointed, I didn't see many birds and I'd brought along the Olympus E-M1X with the 100-400mm zoom mounted. But it didn't take long before I started to see some. Put a bunch up on Flickr. (I think this link will take you to the "last" in the series, and then scrolling right will take you through the whole set.)

Bullshit

08:32 Thursday, 3 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 80.69°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 96

This made me laugh out loud.

"About four years ago, we started really looking at both the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and Lodge & Club ... and thinking about what we wanted to see out of these properties for the next 100 years," said Misty Skipper, vice president of external affairs for Gate.

That place isn't going to be there in 50 years, forget 100! Talk about "burying your head in the sand."

And what is the government subsidy going to be? Shoveling taxpayer money into the ocean every year for "beach renourishment."

Denial is an astonishing thing.

13:44 Wednesday, 2 August 2023

Words: 124

Enjoyed the conclusion to Hijack last night. I suppose I might have liked all the loose ends neatly tied up, but the main questions were answered.

We've been watching Halifax on PBS, and for the first few evenings I kept calling the series, Lancaster. Too much reading WW II RAF history I suppose.

FWIW, Halifax is very uneven and some of the dialog sounds like it was written by an AI. But it's entertaining enough to keep me queuing it up.

Mitzi and I are going to see Oppenheimer at the World Golf Village IMAX theater. Said theater's future somewhat in doubt with the departure of the World Golf Hall of Fame from World Golf Village. A local operator is exploring taking it over.

Not So Fast, Rogers

13:18 Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 86.81°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 259

While I was busy basking in the warmth of well-deserved accolades, it occurred to me that my little program for creating new monthly archive containers might bump into a problem in January 2024.

While I do have the Archive note, which will create a 2024 container, nothing tells the 2023 container to stop making new containers in December 2023.

So I looked for some conditional wrapper statement that would cause the edict to do nothing after December 2023. I came up with something I thought might work; but rather than wait five months to find out, I posted it in the Tinderbox Forum to get some feedback from the community.

As always, I got some useful feedback immediately. While (heh) there's nothing to suggest my solution wouldn't work, apart from improperly using a capital "F" in the ".format" operator (They're case sensitive. It would fail. It's correct in the previous post.), I got another approach that is a little shorter and accomplishes the same result.

So on January 1st, 2024, the 2023 container will notice that the year is no longer 2023, and it won't create a "January 2024" note in the 2023 container, something it would happily do without the conditional test.

The Archive container that creates the year containers is under no such constraint. It can keep creating a new year container as long as the file is open, no conditional tests necessary, other than perhaps "If Rogers==Deceased" or something along those lines.

Just shows you kind of have to think through these little programs.

Life's Little Joys

05:47 Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 75.29°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 5.93mph
Words: 694

So yesterday's project got sidetracked by old Hewlett-Packard handheld computers. That's another story.

But I couldn't sleep, so I figured I'd just get up and play around with Tinderbox. It's taken about an hour, but I've achieved success! The project isn't complete yet, but this progress is "noteworthy."

I created a "blog test vehicle" Tinderbox document. A file that I know I'd want to export as a web page in the form of a blog, and one that, not coincidentally, somewhat resembles the marmot.

One of the "features" of a blog is an archive of past posts. I put "features" in scare-quotes, because none of this is carved in stone, it's just the convention most familiar to me. You can structure your blog however you want.

I've organized my archives by year, each year containing twelve monthly archives, an html file of a month's posts, named by month and year.

Each year, I have to create a new container for that year's archives. I figured that's where I'd start in automating some of the maintenance features. Why not let the Archive container create the container for the year's archive?

Notes are containers in Tinderbox. They contain the text of the note, and a lot of other things called "attributes." Some of those attributes are little programs that work on other notes and other attributes. There's an "Inspector" window that let's you work on many of those attributes, the one's you're most likely to want to have easy access to in one convenient facility. One of the tabs in the Inspector is the Action Inspector, where you can store the code or little program. This is the place where much frustration, sorrow and suffering often resides.

It's also the place where the cool stuff happens.

I figured I'd have to write a bunch of logic that would tell the Archive note to look at all the other notes and see if any of them are named the current year, and if not, then create a new note with the current year as its name. I was kind of dreading this, but it was pretty damn simple.

Since I only need to create this container once a year, I placed the program in the Edict pane of the Action Inspector. An "edict" is a rule that's run relatively infrequently, you can read about when it's run here. My little program looks like this:

$MyDate="today";

$MyString=$MyDate.year;

create($MyString);

The cool part is "create" checks to see if the note it's trying to create already exists. If it does, it doesn't do anything. All that comparison logic (Which wouldn't be that hard, except it's parsing "date" data types, which I wasn't looking forward to because it can get a little tricky.)

Now that I have a container for the year, I want that container to create the container for the current month's posts. So I add an Edict to that note.

That little program looks like this:

$MyDate="today";

$MyString=$MyDate.format("MM y");

create($MyString);

What saves you a lot of hassle is that ".format" operator. Names of notes are strings, so we need to coerce a "date" data-type into a string in order to look for notes with the same name (which "create" does automatically, in the background). We want our month name to follow a particular convention, and that convention is defined by the variables in the ".format" operator, where "MM" connotes the full name of the month, i.e. "August," and "y" connotes the 4-digit year. The space between "MM" and "y" is relevant as well.

So the Edict looks at today's date, converts it to a string that looks like "August 2023," then checks to see if there's already a note by that name. If not, it creates the note, and does nothing if there already is.

In order to not have to type that little program in, we need to make a prototype year container, which contains this program already baked-in.

That's a topic for another day. It seems I may be building a generic Tinderbox blog file.

But gosh, don't I feel smart?!

Maintenance

09:14 Tuesday, 1 August 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 78.91°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 3mph
Words: 364

At last Sunday's Tinderbox meetup, I mentioned how much I've been enjoying working in Tinderbox, and beginning to exploit some of its features since I've been attending all the meetups.

A couple of years ago, I had a zoom session with Michael Becker who's quite expert with Tinderbox. He's also a 400Hz kind of guy, while I run at 60Hz. He tried to show me how to automate certain aspects of the marmot and I could only follow about a third of what he was saying. I tried to implement some of his suggestions and failed at it, so I just went back to doing it the way I knew how to do it, which was mostly manually.

But in preparing for that zoom session, I decided to re-factor how the marmot was structured. Basically, every month's archive was a single file at the top level of the domain, and there was one Images folder divided into years for all the images. It was getting a bit cluttered, though it probably could have kept working that way well into the indefinite future. Nevertheless, I decided to structure things a little "better," and in the process kind of messed up a lot of the old image links.

Stuff happens. You live with it.

Today being the 1st of August, I had to add a new August 2023 container, which I did the same way I've always done it — manually.

Now I'm relatively confident that I can automate that function, so that's a little project for this morning. I'll do a "proof of concept" in a test Tinderbox file, make sure I understand what's happening. Then I'll duplicate the marmot and try to implement the change on the duplicate. If that works as intended, I'll make the change in the original and delete the duplicate.

I've learned that it's best to work on a test file before you try something new with a big file that works reliably. And then work with a duplicate of the actual production version to verify it works, before you start messing with the version you rely on.

I'll report back on my success or failure later today or tomorrow.