Waiting On The Fog
08:19 Tuesday, 31 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 66.7°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 8.05mph
Figured I'd ride the bike this morning and check out the garden. It's been pretty foggy, but it looks like it's starting to lift.
While I'm waiting, I might as well close out October here.
I posted a pic of this morning's moon on Mastodon, and someone remarked that they needed to upgrade from their smart phone. I follow them and they take some very nice pics with their phone, and I said so.
Jack's thinking about cameras. I've been thinking about them too, but not in the way I used to. I haven't had a GAS attack in months. (GAS is camera-nerd for "gear acquisition syndrome.") The mZuiko 8-25mm crosses my mind from time to time, but doesn't seem to hold my interest.
Rather, it's the garden that's got me thinking about my cameras again. I was really pleased with the way the shots from the XZ-1 turned out, and it reminded me of how much I really enjoy that little camera. The Stylus 1s, likewise, pleased me when I took it along and got the shots of the bees at the banana tree.
I haven't been carrying my compacts in a long time. Mostly just the OM-1 with the 75-300mm zoom on my walks, hoping for birds. I took the OM-1 down to the kayak launch point on Saturday morning with the 12-100mm zoom mounted, hoping to get a nice sunrise. I haven't been shooting landscapes for such a long time, I really failed to take advantage of the camera's best features. I stayed in auto-ISO when I could have shot at ISO 200, relying on the combined image stabilization of the 12-100 and the OM-1's IBIS. I could have used handheld hi-res too. You get stuck in a rut looking for birds and forget how to use the camera for anything else! (F-18s are almost like birds.)
Anyway, I'm happy with the cameras I have. I expect I'll remain that way for many years to come.
I think I'm going to put the 40-150mm/f2.8 on the E-M1 Mk3 and take that to the garden. It'll do handheld hi-res and if there's no wind (as the fog seems to suggest), I may try some HHHR shots. Might pop a circular polarizer on it too. But, maybe not.
Looks like it's getting pretty clear so I'll wrap this and go strap a bag on the bike.
12:07 Sunday, 29 October 2023
John P. Weiss is always worth a read. Today especially, I think.
12:03 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 79.56°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 9.22mph
I found the link to Kate Marvel's quote in this piece. Just one dimension of the multi-dimensional challenge we face.
Hopepunk: We Need Courage, Not Hope
11:56 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 79.56°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 9.22mph
This resonated strongly with me. Faith is the foundation of existence. Love is the first derivative of faith with respect to time, "Love is faith in action."
Courage is the second derivative of faith with respect to time. Acceleration, a force. The means of change.
We need courage, not hope. Hope and faith are different things.
Nothing better for a Sunday.
10:03 Sunday, 29 October 2023
The only spider web I saw. There were a lot of those crazy webs on the low bushes. I don't know if those are spiders or some other insect. But I should have seen dozens of these.
09:53 Sunday, 29 October 2023
I rode my bike to the garden and brought along the Stylus 1s. I really need to start carrying the OM-1 or E-M1 Mk3 with the 40-150mm/f2.8 mounted. The Stylus slips into the little handlebar bag that holds some tools, a mask and a beer koozy (I was a Boy Scout. "Be prepared.") with enough room left over for a compact camera.
The larger cameras would require me to put a bag on my bike, which I do when I'm riding it to the pond to look for birds. It's a little more effort, and I'm really trying to combine getting some kind of fitness activity in quickly here, with visiting the garden and maybe getting a few shots. But maybe plants and insects are as worthy as birds in terms of effort.
This is a jpeg straight out of the camera, because I'm lazy and it turned out just fine I though.
09:36 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 72.48°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 3.44mph
I've been an Apple customer for decades. I likely will remain one for the rest of my life. But I have no love for the corporation. None.
I've been using my Apple Watch to record my workouts ever since I got it (Series 6). Am I a dumbass, or did they change the locations of the controls to pause and end a workout? Because I have (had) those committed to muscle memory, and now my watch does all sorts of weird shit when I go to try to pause and end a workout. I swipe right to pause and half the time it gets stuck halfway across the screen. What's up with that? So I try to keep swiping right and it doesn't move. Then I swipe left and the main screen comes back, but it's paused.
And what the fuck is it with this "Are you sure?" bullshit when I go to end a workout? Jesus.
What galaxy brain thought it was a good idea to fuck with the locations of the controls? Where's the improvement? Who's that supposed to serve? Some dumbass looking for a promotion or something?
I'm supposed to come back from a workout feeling tired and relaxed. Instead I'm tired, sweaty and pissed off. This has happened every time since I updated to OS 10.
Apple is like the NY Times, which I've unsubscribed to and now refuse to read. It does its own thing. It's not about serving its readers, it's about serving itself.
Same thing with Apple. Same fucking thing.
Screw them. And all their perpetual apologists too.
Regal Jumping Spider
08:21 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 67.35°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph
Speaking of spiders. Saw this one in April 2020. Haven't seen once since. Of course, I hadn't seen one before either. But I was hopeful and looking forward to seeing more of this amazing spider.
This is a fairly large spider. Body is probably a little more than two centimeters or three-quarters of an inch. I was impressed. I may be exaggerating at bit in memory.
08:06 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Picked this up by way of News+ which gets me The Atlantic. Fortunately for you, Dear Reader, The Atlantic linked to the original, which doesn't lie behind a paywall.
It seems our spiders may be disappearing.
Anecdotally, I agree.
I loved photographing spider webs. In Florida, we used to have enormous numbers of orb weavers. To the point where each morning I could pretty much count on walking through an enormous web leaving my house in Neptune Beach.
Even at the condo, where they weren't spinning webs outside my front door so much, they were nearly everywhere.
It's foggy this morning, and normally I'd be outside with one of my little Olympus compact cameras because small sensors and short focal lengths make for convenient macro photography, looking for webs. But it's been pointless ever since we moved here.
There are a few, here and there, but they ought to be present in the hundreds.
We're facing very serious challenges from more than just climate change. We're losing the biosphere to development. And we're even less inclined to act on that than we are on climate.
(The title is an obscure cultural reference to a certain, now problematic, work of science fiction. The phrase has always remained with me.)
(Update. Ah. There is no title. Since the title contains an exclamation point, two actually, and the export template suppresses titles containing exclamation points. I should re-think this. The quote is, "Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!")
Meta: For the Hell of It Since 1999
07:31 Sunday, 29 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 67.3°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
(Not about Facebook. Once upon a time, I'd "tag" posts in the title, like "BSG:" for Battlestar Galactica, or "Cheese Sandwich:" for mundane posts. I digress.)
Blogging about blogging goes in waves, I think. It's a Conway thing. Someone posts something about blogging on their blog, they have enough followers in proximity that it gets picked up, those bloggers, in turn, have bloggers that pick it up, etc., etc.
Has anyone ever explored blogging as a cocktail party? I'm pretty sure it's been done as a salon. Some people want to be the center of attention. Some people are the center of attention. Most of us just don't want to stay home, and we enjoy watching people, or meeting people, seeing old friends.
I like to think that sometimes the "content," at least about things we're passionate about, may contribute to some net vector sum of what passes for "social thought." The zeitgeist. It feels like ranting into the void to no discernible effect, but who knows, really? Maybe it's not.
Chris O'Donnell (Who shares a name with one of my classmates in my company at USNA, also an ocean engineer.) wrote yesterday, "I've spent a lot of time over the last 20+ years writing a lot of words that were read by not many people."
To which I reply, I've got you beat! 456,424 words read by not many people!
Which doesn't include the >900K words in Groundhog Day. (May its memory be a blessing.) And who knows how many words in Time's Shadow. The marmot's been predicting the weather since 1999.
I guess it's all just "for the hell of it." We do it because we can. Because it does something; that we would feel less about ourselves somehow if we didn't. Maybe that's just ego.
The beat, and the blog, goes on.
10:19 Saturday, 28 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 76.24°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 4.61mph
Since sunrise is at a such a late hour (7:24 a.m.), I figured we might as well take advantage of it and drive the golf cart down to the kayak launch and see what there was to see, and potentially photograph.
Wasn't spectacular. There were two young men putting their kayaks in to do a little fishing. Noise travels far on the water this early in the morning. Heard two boats long before we ever saw them.
Was glad we used mosquito repellant.
08:08 Friday, 27 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 69.28°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 3.44mph
Still enjoying The Morning Show. One of the things I like about it is that all of the characters are complicated. There's nobody I really despise, or who is genuinely and thoroughly irredeemably evil. But that's almost harder, because there are characters I like who do some pretty messed-up things.
Invasion holds my interest better in season 2, but it's still incredibly slow. I hope this wasn't the season finale I just watched. I should check. I'm hoping they bring this thing to an end this season. The only character I care about is Mitsuki, and I'm really not excited about having to sit through a third season to see how this thing ends.
Because of the lack of new shows rolling out, I ended up giving Foundation another try. It was okay. Great production values. Big Lannister vibes from Empire(s). Too many characters introduced and thrown away, but I guess that's a limitation of the format and source material.
Lessons In Chemistry is holding my interest. I do find the relentless misogyny that undergirds patriarchy depressing. (The racism too.) I don't feel defensive, just sad, and keep hoping for something nice for Zott. I gather that's coming.
I watched Prometheus and Alien: Covenant a couple of days apart. Since Covenant apparently didn't do well financially, I shouldn't expect a third installment in Scott's envisioned prequel trilogy.
Both movies are visually impressive, and move along quickly enough to hold my interest, but it seems like Scott didn't really pull the thing together very well. Creators create man, man creates robot, creators try to kill man, robot kills creators, robot creates alien, alien kills man? It's a bit of a mess. Interesting though. Something about hubris, I think.
"The peak of your civilization."
07:17 Friday, 27 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 69.67°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
In The Matrix, Agent Smith is interrogating Morpheus and is describing for him some of the history of the Matrix. To keep all the humans blissfully asleep and producing energy, they made them believe they were living in an idyllic version of the 90s, which he described as, "The peak of your civilization."
I think the peak was the 80s, not the 90s.
Reagan was in power, but Republicans hadn't succeeded yet in rolling back all the advances in civil rights we'd made. Clinton hadn't sold out the Democratic Party's platform with "triangulation" and neoliberalism yet. Not that the 80s were perfect. AIDS was killing people, but since they were mostly gay men or intravenous drug users, it didn't seem to be a priority for research. We did address the ozone layer though. The last time the Republican Party believed in science.
It seems that nearly every movie remake or franchise reboot is based on the 80s. The Walkman was introduced in North America in June 1980. I don't think the Walkman gets enough credit as the first bit of technology that began to genuinely isolate people. (The transistor radio merely consumed "mass" media. The Walkman and mixtape made it a "personal" experience.) The GameBoy appeared in 1989, and the path was set.
Anyway, all that is by way of preamble as I mention my latest efforts as "a fool and his money."
Yesterday I received a Sony AN-1 Active Antenna. They usually go for more than $200 complete, or nearly complete, on the auction site. I got an alert for one listed at $150, with a "make offer" option. So I looked it over and made an offer. I got it for not much more than $150 after shipping and sales tax. 80s product, naturally. Antennas are about as simple, and cheap, a piece of radio tech as you can get, or make. But, there you go. Fools and their money.
For about the same money, I just bought an HP-15C Collector's Edition. HP is like Kodak these days, with its trademark and some of its IP being licensed to other manufacturers. It's a remake of the 15C, using an ARM processor. I have an original, but it's pretty beat up. Still works, but it clearly saw some hard use.
It's an irrational purchase, and sends a demand signal, albeit a tiny one, for more of this nonsense that is exacerbating the overshoot condition of our civilization. But "free will" is an illusion, and "willpower" is a vanishingly small resource, so I guess I can just shrug my shoulders and not lose too much sleep over it.
Of course, like an object of irrational desire, there are many opinions about it. There's a chance that I may receive one that has keypress issues. And the keys are painted, not double-shot injection molded! Clearly, an inferior reproduction. As some people put it, "HP calculators are all about the keys." That, and the Reverse-Polish Notation. But it does have a new and improved reproduction of the original manual. Like I have any more space for calculator manuals.
Anyway, just confessing my sins. There are many, these are but two.
Gimme 5 Steps
10:02 Wednesday, 25 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.59°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 5.01mph
I think this is about right, and in line with the idea of hopepunk.
I didn't take a walk this morning. Instead I rode my bike to the garden (the "North 40") and checked on the plants. They all looked happy and healthy. (Before we eat them.) I watered them just to let them know I came by.
Rode back the long way so I did about 10K and closed my exercise ring.
I'm looking forward to the end of daylight savings time. Sunrise is so late, I feel like half the day is gone before I'm even getting started. I don't mind it in the summer, but it should end by early October at the latest.
Of course, a uniform time standard is only essential for a functioning industrial civilization, and we're not likely to have one for much longer.
So we got that goin' for us.
06:37 Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.35°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 20.71mph
Mitzi and I have joined the Garden Club. Since we live in an HOA, everything you might want to grow on your own property is tightly regulated. So forget about growing food. (This will change, eventually. I'd say in about 10 years, 15 at the outside. After the food shortages start becoming a regular thing.)
So we have a little 8'x4' plot in which we get to plant anything we want (well, I don't know about marijuana).
I don't do yard work. I detest it. But I am fond of eating. We want to grow some food. I normally don't go with Mitzi when she goes to the nursery because that's boring. But she was going to buy some plants to eat, and that sounded interesting, so I went with her last Friday to meet "Dave, the plant guy."
Dave, the plant guy, looks and sounds a lot like Jim Carey. Ex-New Yorker, former science teacher, now a vegan who tries to grow his own food and help other people do the same. We spent about an hour with Dave at his garden, which is a large undeveloped lot owned by a guy across the road who indulges Dave in his passion. He walked us around and showed us all the plants, and talked about all the things that grow at latitude 30°North.
We have a humble beginning with about a dozen plants. The idea isn't to save money on our food budget, it's to get some experience in how to raise plants, grow food. So that when the time comes, we'll have some clue how to go about it.
Also, did you know you can eat acorns? There are a lot of oak trees around here...
"We're gonna need a lot more sand..."
06:26 Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.33°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 20.71mph
The thing about science is that it's inherently conservative. When science is telling you that horrible things are going to happen, you shouldn't be wondering if they're right. You should be wondering how much worse it might actually be.
Sea level rise is a game of inches. It doesn't take many inches to create miles and miles and miles of problems. And it's going to take decades to address those problems, so we might as well get started now.
One relatively "easy" thing to do would be to figure out how we're going to condemn and demolish all private housing built too close to the ocean. Restore those areas to something approaching a natural environment.
Since any solution we devise will be litigated for years, possibly decades (which we don't have), we should probably start now.
We won't. We'll wait until it's too late. I mean, it's already "too late," but we could do a lot of stuff to make it less worse. But we're too selfish, too pig-headed, too blind, too cowardly to do anything, until it's too late.
06:21 Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.33°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 20.71mph
I mean, stuff like this...
This is a crop of the preceding image. Otherwise, straight out of the camera.
Ready for His Closeup
06:17 Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.29°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 20.71mph
But 400mm does let you do this.
06:07 Tuesday, 24 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.29°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 20.71mph
I took the E-M1X to the airshow on Saturday because I was going to use the mZuiko 100-400mm zoom. It turns out that I might have been better served using the mZuiko 40-150mm/f2.8 with the MC1.4 teleconverter.
This shot is at 218mm, which is only slightly longer than the 210mm of the 40-150 with the teleconverter. The challenge is keeping the aircraft in the frame at 400mm.
The E-M1X handles the 100-400mm nicely and has subject recognition for aircraft, which I would say isn't really essential in an airshow. The subject is usually the only thing in the sky.
This shot is un-cropped. It'd probably be better at 3:2 where I could center the formation vertically, but I'm not that fussy usually.
06:08 Monday, 23 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 66.61°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 8.05mph
Mitzi and I went to see the Blue Angels in Jacksonville Beach on Saturday. I took way too many pics. I've done the initial cull, now I have to go through many similar shots and decide which ones I like best, and get the number down from the hundreds to something manageable.
We took the shuttle bus because parking is always a challenge, and traffic getting out of Jax Beach can be frustrating. While we were sitting on the bus, Mitzi got a call from her ex-husband. She let it go to voicemail. His message was for her to call him, he had some terrible news, although he said it was not immediate family.
We got to the car and I drove so Mitzi could talk. Since it's her car, the phone pairs with it and the conversation was on speaker.
The young woman, Samantha Woll, who was murdered in Detroit on Saturday, was someone they knew. They knew the parents, and Mitzi's daughters and the Woll's all went to Cranbrook together. Sherri, Mitzi's oldest, is Samantha's age, they were friends, and Sherri had just spent the previous weekend with her in Detroit.
Sherri didn't want to speak on Saturday, but she and Mitzi spoke on Sunday. I overheard the sobs.
The funeral was yesterday, and as has become the custom these days, it was love-streamed. (It's a typo, but I left it. Because I think it's right.)
I didn't know Sam or her parents, but I wanted to know something about someone who clearly meant so much to people who mean something to me, so I watched the funeral with Mitzi.
It was clear from everyone who spoke that an absolutely remarkable woman was taken from the people who loved her, and they were many. Some of the speakers mentioned that, although she died at a young age, she'd achieved more in her brief life than most people could achieve in a lifetime, or several lifetimes.
She was especially active in the area of social justice, a term that has become a pejorative for many people on the right. Something I wrote about Saturday morning, over in Notes From the Underground. Someone described her work as "faith in action," in perhaps the Jewish sense of "healing the world," but also in a larger context I think. The one that I understand, which is that "love is faith in action."
Mitzi has sat in on many love-streamed funerals, I'm afraid. The most recent before this one was just two weeks ago, for a young man in the IDF, killed on October 7th. Mitzi knew his parents. She was a camp counselor to his mother, and she still keeps in touch with many of her campers.
And Sam wasn't the first bit of sad news on Saturday. When Mitzi was a young woman, she went to Brenau Academy, a boarding school for young women. It's now Brenau University, and Mitzi has become something of an active alum. We'd both met the president of the university, and Mitzi had been a guest of hers at a visit to the university earlier this year. Back then, I think she'd only recently learned of her leukemia diagnosis, which she shared with Mitzi, and yesterday we learned that she'd succumbed to it.
We watched some TV last night. I wanted to finish season 2 of Foundation, and a major plot point was the deaths of several characters. Then we watched the second episode of Lessons in Chemistry, which deals with the death of a main character as well.
It all seemed a bit too much. But I love a talking dog, even if we're only hearing his thoughts. And Mitzi seemed to like his closing thoughts about running. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I suppose it's not all we can do, but for now it feels like enough.
07:05 Friday, 20 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 59.13°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 1.99mph
Had a wonderful weekend getaway at nearby Vilano Beach. Weather has been fabulously fall, cool and dry with sunny skies. Mitzi is still struggling with a cough that may be RSV. I haven't seemed to contract it yet. Fingers remain crossed.
I'm still grappling with an "attitude adjustment," but spotted something that seems promising. I can't recall if this came up in an RSS feed or Mastodon, but someone linked to this piece on hopepunk.
Hopepunk is Curtis blowing up the train at the end of Snowpiercer, or Max and Furiosa deciding to risk everything and go back to the Citadel at the end of Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s Naomi choosing to open the Roci’s door to let in as many desperate Ganymede refugees as possible in The Expanse. It’s believing that humanity may not be inherently good, but we’re not inherently bad either, and that giving people the chance to prove themselves compassionate is a worthwhile choice.
Yeah, that's kind of where I was going with Despair Is Not An Option.
Of course, that piece quotes Neo, and now we're being told there's no such thing as "free will."
I'll buy that. Daniel Dennett (another beard-guy), has been telling us consciousness is an illusion for decades. And I pretty much buy that too.
Of course, these remain persistent illusions and I think the absolutism of Dennett and Sapolsky are a bit off the mark, while being more correct than the Invictus crowd.
Everything is contingent (another risky absolutism), which is another way of saying everything is connected, and you might do well to spend a lot of time with Nagarjuna's Fundamental Wisdom of The Middle Way. But it may make your head hurt.
What I find encouraging, perhaps, about Sapolsky is that it does illuminate the profound ignorance behind our notions of "freedom," especially as espoused by the folks most inclined to violently promote it. "Screw your masks! FREEEEDUMB!"
Not that those are the kinds of people who might pause and reflect on that.
Introspection is a superpower. Heisenberg. You can't measure something without changing it in some way. It is self-referential, and contingent, and emergent. But you do, kind of, get to choose. I mean Sapolsky wasn't looking for an argument, but I guess he couldn't help himself?
Anyway. We're dog-sitting this weekend. I've been wrapping up some family matters, and health stuff, so posting has been light. Expect to resume regular production shortly.
All we have are moments to live, and each other. Try to enjoy it.
12:25 Sunday, 15 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.4°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 10.36mph
Once upon a time, I knew that when you were on the right track, the universe gave you some encouragement, to keep you going.
John's piece was written last night. I just read it a moment ago.
"What's your plan?"
10:04 Sunday, 15 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 66.49°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 8.01mph
Any form of education, I think, pays dividends all throughout your life. And I've often said that therapy was the best education I ever received, and I got it through the navy. You know, "socialized medicine."
The last couple of years have been kind of a mess for me. I find myself, today, a bit at sea, often depressed.
When I retired from working life in 2013, I became more active in my condominium community. We had a building burn down in 2015 and that kept me busy for over a year.
In 2016, Trump got elected and I became more politically engaged, joining Democratic Party, running for an elected position in 2018 (unopposed, so I got the job). I leveraged that position to try to engage with local elected officials regarding sea level rise.
I attended a regional program for citizens interested in some form of public service, the Northeast Florida Regional Leadership Academy. I met some very wonderful people and learned a great deal about northeast Florida.
In 2020 I was persuaded to run for state representative for my district, during the height of the pandemic. I was advised by one of the people asking me to run to be content with just getting my name on the ballot. In hindsight, that would have been the wisest thing to do in terms of the emotional experience.
I learned a great deal, but it was emotionally exhausting. It compelled me to quit Facebook, and I had little empathy or respect for my fellow human beings. I don't know what it is about social media that makes many people believe that it's a license to be the worst versions of themselves. Perhaps I exhibited some of that as well.
I worked with my county party for part of 2021, capturing what I'd learned in a handbook that could be used by other candidates. Even that exercise was somewhat frustrating and futile. After that, I pretty much disengaged from political activity at the local level.
I remained engaged on Twitter though. I'd acquired a modest following of active local users, and I took some satisfaction in offering acidic commentary on the faithless and feckless Republicans who governed Jacksonville, and supported the candidacy of Donna Deegan, both rhetorically and financially.
After Donna was elected last July, I deleted my Twitter account. I miss many of the people I interacted with on the platform, but I don't miss much else. I think leaving Twitter has been a net-positive for my mental health.
So I've done little in the last two years, other than contribute money and invective, and the occasional good letter to the editor.
Also during the period since 2013, I started a new relationship with a woman I love and married in 2017, six years ago today. We remodeled my condo, went on to sell it, and in 2019 bought the place we're living in today.
So much of my social network was related to proximity to my neighbors. My closest friends have all moved farther away than I did. One of my closest friends turned out to be less of a friend than I'd thought, and that was also profoundly disappointing.
I discovered that many of my neighbors here are Trumpers of one kind or another. I've been cautious to engage socially with many of them. That is slowly improving, as we cultivate a small network of compatible neighbors.
Add to all this the growing evidence of catastrophic climate change, our utter failure to grapple with it, the conflicts in Ukraine and now Israel, the continued presence of Donald Trump on the political stage, and it's, well, depressing.
So I've been kind of floundering around, feeling sorry for myself, feeling angry, mostly feeling a bit at a loss for what to do.
Not that there's want for distractions. I noodle around with old calculators, and emulated old computers. I break the marmot and fix it. I carry the camera around and hope for something different to see.
But it's not enough, and I'm unhappy.
Yesterday I attended the weekly Tinderbox meetup. A young woman was presenting on how she used Tinderbox to manage her goals.
As a technical exercise, it was interesting. Her overall process involves other apps besides Tinderbox, and she showed us how she makes good use of them.
It prompted questions in my mind as to how she decided about which goals to pursue at any given time. I asked her if there were any other apps or documents that she used in helping to identify those specific goals, and it turns out, not so much.
I've played with setting goals and tracking them. It's never been something I felt I'd accomplished, certainly nothing that became a part of my life.
But something about yesterday's conversation prompted me to think about goals as being an aid to living an intentional life. Which is apparently what I'm lacking at the moment.
So to wrap up what might otherwise become an interminable rumination, this all prompted the memory of Sandy's voice (Sandy was my therapist for many years.), "What's your plan?"
Itself an intentional question, designed to clarify who is responsible for solving a particular problem or issue, to promote the idea of agency.
We're headed out this afternoon for a couple of nights at a local hotel to celebrate our anniversary. But when we get back, I'm going to give some thought to where I am, and where I'd like to be.
And to try to come up with a plan.
09:55 Sunday, 15 October 2023
Beautiful morning today, 60-something degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Saw not one but two little blue herons this morning. This one let me get the closest.
07:36 Saturday, 14 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.96°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 6.91mph
Jack Baty has joined the ranks of grandparents. Great photo.
06:45 Wednesday, 11 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 66.88°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 0mph
Every morning, I look at the News app on my iPhone, and I fully expect to see something horrifying and unimaginable a couple of decades ago.
My expectations are met with depressing frequency. (I should make some reference to the doppler effect as we hurtle headlong toward catastrophe, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.)
I'm old enough to recall the Yom Kippur War, being 16 at the time. I knew relatively little about Israel back then. What I did know was influenced by things like the movie Cast A Giant Shadow, which I'd seen on television at some point.
Today I know a great deal more about Israel and its complicated, very complicated, history.
Today there are 16-year-olds who are perhaps learning about Israel for the first time. Certainly, Israel is in the news almost continuously, but that puts it largely in the noise, even for 16-year-olds who pay attention to the news. This is different, being described as Israel's 9/11.
Sixteen-year-olds weren't alive on 9/11.
I try to imagine today's 16-year-olds fifty years from now.
I think that the whole world may be a lot like Israel in 50 years. Perhaps sooner. You can decide if that's a good thing.
07:42 Sunday, 8 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.48°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 3mph
Note today's temperature: 58°F! Woo-hoo!
I've opened several windows in the house. The CO2 level has plummeted from 1440ppm to 502ppm and dropping.
I've also put on a sweater.
Reliving My Youth
05:22 Sunday, 8 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 60.39°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 61% Wind: 4mph
I'll open with the happy fact that my knees feel great! I mean, they're still the knees of a 66-year-old fat man, but they don't hurt! I never even mentioned the pain in my knees to the doc, because I just thought that was part of aging.
It's pretty remarkable. It hurt just standing up. I was making a conscious effort not to groan every time I got up. And mostly failing. Getting into my friend's little Miata when I was up in New York a couple of weeks ago amounted to sliding my ass over the seat back and then just dropping into the seat. I hated carrying the luggage up the stairs in Martha's Vineyard, likewise the place I rented in Clifton Park. No stairs here, so it was mostly standing up and sitting down and riding the bike.
They would ache just lying in bed at night.
Anyway, I really appreciate the "miracle of antibiotics."
On to other things.
I've been playing round with BASIC on the old handheld computers from HP and TI that I have, and of course comparing them with Applesoft using Virtual II. That got me into playing around more with Virtual II, and cleaning up the directories full of crap I collected several years ago when I was more into the whole "retrocomputing" experience.
Well, I've always been kind of interested in the Apple ///. Like the Lisa, the G4 Cube and maybe a couple of others, the /// was expensive and a marketplace failure. But it was a pretty sophisticated design for an 8-bit machine back in the day. I recall seeing one in person at a computer show in Virginia Beach. It was the full stack, with the Profile hard drive, designed to fit perfectly between the CPU and the Monitor ///. It looked very cool. Very serious.
I was still running a 40-column 48K Apple ][+ with one floppy drive, so even the UI looked unfamiliar.
Today they're still expensive, so emulating them in software is about the only practical way to experience what using them was like.
The thing about the /// was there wasn't much about the machine that was defined in ROM. Back then, it was thought that people wanted to buy a computer and be able to do something with it, right out of the box. So nearly all of them shipped with a console or monitor ROM to handle basic I/O, like the keyboard and video output, and something to handle getting data in and out of a cassette tape interface (cassette recorder not included). And some flavor of BASIC was built in so it would "do something."
The /// was like the IBM-PC, in that all that stuff was built into the OS that was loaded from disk at startup. CP/M was like that as well. You know, "business computers" versus "home computers."
Anyway, running an emulator involves having a copy of the ROMs. These are usually binary files and they're not hard to find on the web, with people often being coy about where they are because they contain copyrighted code, so they aren't built right into the emulator itself.
The /// was based on the 6502 processor, same as the II, so it had a 64K memory space. There have been ways around that by using "bank switching" for many computers for years. The /// was designed from the ground up to do that, using MOS 6522 Versatile Interface Adapters to help manage that and other aspects of the machine. Partly for its design, partly for its lack of success in the marketplace and consequently limited "affection" from the retro-community, there hadn't been a really "good" emulator for the /// for many years.
Well, that's all changed now, and MAME has what I understand is the very best emulation of an Apple ///. I recall trying to run MAME many years ago and giving up in frustration. I use Virtual ][ as my Apple II emulator. It's very high-fidelity and offers most of the peripheral devices I care about. It's a turnkey solution, download and install that app, install the ROM(s), pay the license fee and you're good to go.
MAME is a command-line thing, and while I don't hate the terminal, I don't spend much time there. So this other guy, Apple retrocomputing wizard Kevin Sherlock, has made a MacOS GUI frontend called AMPLE, which also installs MAME. But not the ROMs.
Because of course.
So I spent Friday and part of yesterday trying to get an Apple /// up and running using AMPLE. There isn't a clear "how-to" anywhere that I could find. MAME likes its ROMs in .zip files, which wasn't clear to me initially. Then it was a bit of an easter egg hunt to find the right ROMs in .zip format. (They're at the Internet Archive.)
I couldn't get the thing to run. AMPLE offers a log window, and it was always complaining about not finding the ROM file, and some other nonsense. ChatGPT suggested my .zip files were corrupted somehow, based on the error messages. I basically kept easter-egging the thing, swapping files in and out of the ROMs folder, and it eventually booted.
Apparently the disk image I was using for startup has some kind of strange character set installed because the screen had weird characters instead of dashes defining the borders of the various sections of the SOS Utilities screen.
Having at least got the thing to boot, I stopped. Soon I'll easter-egg disk images until I get a clean one. I need to figure out ROMs for the clock and the hard drive emulator too.
I did get to play Andy Hertzfeld's Atomic Defense game. You launch your ABMs using the arrow keys, though I'm not certain about the mapping. You use the numeric keypad to control the aiming cursor. The game was mostly notable for using one of the graphics modes on the ///, which later became part of the 128K //e, that allowed 16 colors on the "hi-res" screen.
Ultimately, I want to get Business BASIC up and running, and Pascal ///, which is very similar to the Apple II version.
After I got the /// kind of running, I tried to find my Apple II Pascal setup. I recalled that I'd created a set of disk images that mirrored the setup I had on my real Apple //e. It had a RAMWorks 1MB memory expansion card installed, and I'd found the RAM-disk drivers from Applied Engineering, which included scripts for moving all the essential parts of UCSD Pascal to the RAM disk. You could go from editing your source code to compiling it to running it without any disk swapping, and it compiled much faster. Not as easy as just typing "RUN" from BASIC, but not much harder either.
Happily, I found those, and they still work.
One of the best purchases I made on eBay back then was a pretty much NIB ("new, in box") Apple Pascal package, for version 1.2. (The very last version was 1.3, but I.2 included all the new stuff to support a 128K //e.) Being the philistine that I am, I threw away the box, and gave the disks away with all the other Apple II stuff I gave away to that kid from Tampa.
But I kept the manuals. Because they are pristine. And they included the Luehmann and Peckham Apple Pascal, a hands-on approach, paperback. Along with the 1.2 spiral-bound supplement, and a bunch of errata sheets. Pretty sweet.
So I pulled those off the shelf last night and tried to re-acquaint myself with the OS, because it's different enough to be confusing.
I do all this because it recalls, at least for me, a faint echo of the "sense of wonder" I had for computers back then, and mostly haven't felt since.
It was a nice feeling.
Almost as nice as pain-free knees!
I suppose I should tag this post "tl;dr."
Standing on Zanzibar
07:07 Friday, 6 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 73.24°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 97% Wind: 6.91mph
I feel much better today. Enough about that.
As an adolescent, I cut my teeth on Golden Age science fiction. One step beyond "space opera," but before the "New Wave."
I belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club, much to the dismay of my mother, who had to approve all purchases and, if I recall correctly, you had to mail back a card if you didn't want a month's selection, so sometimes books would arrive that weren't previously authorized. And we shall not mention the Columbia Record Club.
Anyway, one of the books I read from the Science Fiction Book Club, with its cheap paper and plasticky "hard" covers, was Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner.
I think I read it a few years after it was first published, because in 1968 I was still reading the Heinlein juveniles, Have Space Suit — Will Travel being the book that got me into science fiction in the first place.
Anyway, I don't recall much about Stand on Zanzibar, other than it described a world where things were going to shit, but amazing technological change was still underway. And that's the thing I most recall today.
There's a kind of cognitive dissonance I experience these days when I read things like John Gruber's Daring Fireball. John's been doing largely the same schtick for a couple of decades now, I often wonder if he tires of it. He's branched out into podcasts that deal with other subjects, but I don't listen to many podcasts.
Anyway, Gruber does what he so very often does, disparages Google, (or is it Alphabet?) and I'm okay with that. I despise Google. But he goes on to mention what many other observers have said about the Pixel 8's generative AI "memory recording device" (formerly ("formally"?) known as a "camera").
But it was the segment of yesterday’s event that most struck me: technically impressible, but ethically blithe.
And it's a Stand on Zanzibar moment for me. It's an absurdity. Yes, there's a certain technical achievement that might be noteworthy, but it's an absurdity nonetheless. And it's taking place against a background of the destruction of democracy in America, an immigration crisis, smoke from Canadian wild fires impairing the air quality in Florida, a war in Europe, a mass extinction, and a host of other unwelcome trends and developments currently underway. (Jim Jordan as Speaker of the House?)
I mean, we're "on the eve of destruction" here, and we're commenting on Google, er, Alphabet's "camera" that steals one of the best features of the marmot, "I make all this shit up."
There's not much I can do about it. I just mutter, "What the actual fuck, people?!" and carry on. Or write the occasional blog post.
Standing on Zanzibar.
Aches and Pains
10:23 Thursday, 5 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 80.58°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 12.66mph
I don't wish the marmot to become a chronicle of the daily aches and pains of an old man, but wow.
I received two vaccinations yesterday, RSV and the new COVID vaccine, so it's hard to say exactly which of the two kicked my ass last night. But I seemed to recall I had an unpleasant experience with Moderna before.
Consulting the marmot, back in June '22 I got a Moderna shot and had this experience. So I'm at least somewhat confident that there's something about the Moderna product that doesn't agree with me. It was the only product available yesterday, but if this is going to be a yearly event, I'm going to stick with Pfizer.
Last night was as bad as any flu I've ever had. Fever, chills, headache, body-ache, etc. Tylenol took some of the edge off, but not a lot. I'm running at about 70% today, mild headache still present. It's possible it's a combined effect of both vaccines, but Moderna does seem problematic for me.
In other news, perhaps it's the "placebo effect," or wishful thinking, but my knees do genuinely seem to feel better.
People Are Weird
12:10 Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 82.15°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 5.01mph
When I picked up the prescription for the antibiotic, it was the first time I'd paid for any meds using Tricare For Life. It was a bit of a discussion with the checkout clerk as she seemed unfamiliar with it and kept insisting I must have Medicare Part D. My Tricare coverage was already in their system. The pharmacist squared her away, and the bill was only $2.30.
There was a couple about my age standing next to me, and apparently they're retired military too and were singing the praises of Tricare For Life as well. I asked them what they were there for, and they said they were getting the RSV shot. That reminded me that I wanted to check to see if they had the new COVID shot, which I mentioned to the pharmacist tech. (They did.)
The guy said, "Why bother? It doesn't do any good."
I just smiled and said I've gotten every one I was eligible for and I haven't caught COVID yet, that I know of.
So I went off to see about getting a COVID shot and they sat down to get their RSV shots.
But I wondered, what kind of thinking does it take to decide that a COVID vaccination "doesn't do any good," and therefore you won't take it; but you will get the RSV vaccination? You must believe mRNA vaccines aren't effective or something. Someone should have alerted the Nobel committee.
People are weird.
I ended up getting both the new COVID formulation (Moderna, they didn't have Pfizer, my preferred brand.) and the RSV shot.
Living in Florida is, literally, like taking your life in your hands. I'll take all the help I can get.
I'm Blaming Everything On the Tick
12:01 Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 83.03°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 9.22mph
Just went through and fixed a bunch of screw-ups in the marmot. Yesterday, I was working on some spreadsheets that document the house energy production/consumption. I'd been working on them in August(?), and I couldn't recall how I'd done certain things, or if I'd done certain things. So I ended up doing them again. (Found the things I'd done back in August, right where I'd left them.)
This was before I knew I had Lyme. But it was frustrating, because I don't usually have this much difficulty recalling things that I did.
I've been reading a book and noticing sometimes words wouldn't make sense. I'd read the sentence again, more carefully, and the word that didn't make sense wasn't the word I seemed to see when I read it the first time. That's also new.
I put it down to being really tired from not sleeping well, which I suppose it may well have been. But I'm wondering if it might not be Lyme as well.
When I went to see the doc, I wrote everything down that I wanted to discuss in a note, because I feel like I'm forgetting stuff more than usual.
Anyway, I guess knowing is better than not knowing and hopefully this antibiotic does some good. I suppose it may not all be the tick, but it definitely feels as though I've lost a step.
Sympathy Can Be Found in the Dictionary
12:00 Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 74.21°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 5.01mph
...between "shit" and "syphilis."
Sums up how I feel about Kevin McCarthy. I watched part of the votes in the House yesterday on YouTube. Hoped to catch a glimpse of my congressman, Deputy Pornstache. Never spotted him, but it was interesting watching those clowns socialize together.
I think I spotted "just the tip" seditionist Mike Waltz chatting up Matt Gaetz in the well of the house. I wonder what they were talking about.
Mitzi says if Gaetz is elected governor of Florida, we're leaving the state. I understand the sentiment. Easier said than done, but I'd go be in favor of doing it.
Saw that liar George Santos rocking his trademark sweater vest. Nobody seemed to want to talk to him. Almost, almost, felt sorry for that bastard.
Watched Hands Boebert yucking it up with some of her colleagues about something on her smartphone.
There was this one heavyset guy with a flattop who looked just like Chris Farley. I'm guessing he's about Chris's age if he'd lived. The resemblance was fortified as he went from colleague to colleague exhibiting these ceaseless, enormous hand and arm gestures accompanying his grinning, silent, patter. Wild. Life imitates art or something.
It was entertaining for a while.
Petyr Baelish, "Chaos is a ladder."
We all know how that turned out.
Could Explain Something
12:00 Wednesday, 4 October 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 72.97°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.99mph
I received the results of my bloodwork yesterday. Everything seems fine, except I do have Lyme Disease! Bummer. Have to go pick up a prescription for some antibiotics today.
I've been feeling pretty old recently, and kind of surprised at how fast that seems to have happened. Everything aches, tired, peripheral nerve pain, knees especially painful, can't recall things that used to just come right to mind, feeling cold when it's 77°F in the house. Some of it is probably age-related, but it just came on so fast. Could be the infection, maybe.
When I saw the doc, she seemed skeptical about ordering the test, Lyme isn't present in Florida. Told her I'd been "glamping" in Pennsylvania and my daughter spotted a red ring on the back of my neck when she was cutting my hair. So she ordered the test.
In my memory, that all happened back in March. Happily, kinda, it was May. Caitie spotted the ring as it was fading, two weeks after I was in the woods. Not long after that, in June, I was trying to get seen at Mayo and was told I wasn't being seen for primary care there anymore.
Not that it might have mattered. I didn't know there was any particular urgency to getting that ring checked out. I just recalled that people often harbored Lyme for years, and it not causing problems until later. It seems that the most effective treatment is early in the infection, and it's kind of uncertain how well this course of antibiotics will be. It's not that Lyme kills you, it's just that it makes you miserable.
Anyway, I'll take the pills and see what happens. Hope for the best. Better than nothing, right?
Passed it along to my classmates who were with me, suggesting they may want to get checked out.