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

Configuration Control

19:53 Monday, 22 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.03°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 617

While I was up in New York, I had my MBP with me and Captain's Log was running. I discovered I hadn't installed the Automator application MidwatchEntry on the MBP!

So I'm in my office, in the recliner, I logged into the iMac, copied the app over to the MBP and quit Tinderbox on the iMac and launched it on the MBP. I'll check tomorrow morning to make sure everything ran according to plan.

I spoke to my sister the nurse this evening, and learned that all of Mom's OTC pain relievers were expired by three years or more. My brother is doing her grocery shopping Wednesday and he'll be getting some fresh supplies. Mom has been instructed how much to take and how often to see if we can't get her some relief. It never occurred to me to check her OTC pain meds.

Mom has an issue where her right arm is too painful to move sometimes. It seems to come and go, but it happens often enough that she's too embarrassed to eat at the bistro with her friends, because she has to try to eat with one hand, and her non-dominant one at that. It seems that other things that worried me aren't necessarily problems yet.

In other news, I enjoy watching the Project Farm YouTube channel, and one of the videos I watched early this morning was this one, where he tested a number of different manufacturers' NiMH AA batteries. To date, I've used Panasonic Eneloops exclusively, but the Amazon Basics performed identically in the tests. He makes a point of mentioning that the batteries manufactured in Japan consistently outperformed the ones made in China, and the Amazon brand performed nearly identically to the Envelops.

So I ordered 24 Amazon Basics High Capacity AA NiMH rechargeables. Well, they arrived this evening(!) and looking at the labels, I see they're made in Malaysia. I checked the Project Farm video date, and it was made about four years ago. I went looking for a more recent video that tested Amazon Basics and found one from about year ago. The date of manufacture of the batteries I received is 11/22, which is after the recording of this video ("TylerTube"), where the Amazon Basics performed better than the others. So I'm fairly confident these will perform well.

I use the Panasonic BQ-CC65 "Advanced" charger, which can condition batteries. It managed to restore a couple of Apple NiMH batteries I had from either a Magic Mouse a track pad or keyboard or something. I had two pairs of those batteries (Probably more, but they'd gone missing.) and it was unable to restore one pair, but I've been using the other pair successfully and they're years old. (How many? I'd be guessing, but probably close to a decade.) I just reviewed the instruction, and the condition function will display battery capacity as well, so maybe I'll try a comparison test.

I have some old radios that rely on D-cell batteries, so I bought a bunch of EBL D-cells year ago. Based on everything I've seen regarding EBL AAs, they probably won't perform up to their specification. I bought 8 Amazon Basic D-cells and maybe I'll do a little comparison test.

I'd like to get a charger that was powered from USB-C PD, then I could recharge from either of my Anker PD power banks, or the Bluetti batteries.

Well, here's hoping I sleep well tonight. It's not like retired guys have to be "productive" or anything, but there are some things I'd like to get accomplished before Mitzi gets back on Saturday. It's a lot easier when my ass isn't draggin'.

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Sky Wake

11:52 Monday, 22 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.93°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 185

Disturbed area in the cloud layer presumably left by an aircraft descening below the layer

Despite being pretty tired from the early morning, I didn't sleep well last night. Got up around 0400 and watched YouTube videos about battery charging and NiMH batteries.

As one does.

Went for my walk, had breakfast and took a nap.

Spent the last couple of hours looking at how to apply for VA benefits for Mom. I think I've got it mostly figured out, but naturally, it's confusing. Probably should have done this a year ago, but I wasn't aware of it. My wife's sister-in-law informed me yesterday when I was talking to Mitzi. She just went through it for her mom. Need to coordinate with my siblings, but waiting to hear from my sister the nurse.

Anyway, saw this from the window yesterday and thought it was interesting. As usual, I took too many photos from the window. I suspect this is a disturbance in the cloud layer left by an aircraft that descended below the cloud layer heading into Detroit.

Stuff I don't see every day.

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A Little Ray of Sunshine

14:12 Sunday, 21 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 83.61°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 81

My representative, Republican John Rutherford, voted for military aid to Ukraine. This is noteworthy because John is ordinarily a moral coward, as well as a seditionist and a liar. His two nearby colleagues, freshman Aaron Bean (R) and "just the tip" seditionist Michael Waltz (R), both voted against it, which makes Rutherford's vote even more extraordinary.

I don't know if he's growing a spine or what, but it is refreshing to see him do something not bone-headed stupid for once.

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Back In Florida

13:07 Sunday, 21 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 79.7°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 215

Another early morning, though not as early. 0400 instead of 0300. It's also cool that the Albany airport is only 15 minutes from Mom's (and the hotel where I was staying). It was 33 frickin' Fahrenheit this morning. The Chevy Malibu I rented had a heated steering wheel and heated seats, and I was grateful for it.

An astonishing line at TSA at 0430 in the morning. Very pleased that I had pre✅. Crowded at the terminal gate as well, and every cough and sneeze make me wish I'd remembered to bring a mask. We'll know in a couple of days. Solid overcast from Albany to Detroit, and much of the way from Detroit to Jacksonville.

I've had days arriving in Jax when it felt as though you were stepping into a sauna, as if a blanket of oppressive, wet heat just surrounded you when you stepped outside. Not so today. It was a welcome relief to step into sunshine (mostly) and warmth. But the sauna will be here soon enough.

Anyway, I'm back now. Caitie's coming over later this afternoon. Did some grocery shopping on the way home. I'm unpacked, laundry is underway and I'm going to take a nap. It's nice to be home, as qualified as that may be in Florida.

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On a Happier Note

09:07 Saturday, 20 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.14°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 4

Check out these swallows.

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The Incredible Shrinking Woman

08:48 Saturday, 20 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.53°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 174

I'm glad I came up to see Mom, but it's also a bit sad. Every time I see her, she seems to have shrunken a bit more. I suppose it's the Parkinson's. It has gotten a bit worse, but she's still on her feet and living independently. I don't think that will be the case for much longer.

She's very stoic, and never complains, so when she says she "thinks" she's going to need some more help, I wonder and worry about what she's been struggling with recently. My brother does most of the day to day monitoring and assistance. He's got his own recently discovered medical issues to deal with, so I'm not inclined to discuss this with him just yet. We'll know more about his situation in a couple of weeks.

My sister is a nurse, and she checks in on Mom often, but lives farther away. I'll be calling her in a few minutes to get her take and begin considering next steps.

I love my Mom, and this is life.

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Blogging And Its Discontents

08:27 Saturday, 20 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.91°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 324

Jack posted a rather visceral take on a blog post title, which had the presumably desired effect of making me click through. I read the entire post (that used to be "RTWT" or, "read the whole thing" back in the day). I also get it, but agree that the title was more click-bait than topic or non-sequitur. (Because the way I've set up the marmot, titles aren't required but they make things a little easier. Often, the title is a seeming non-sequitur because it's all I could come up with, but it often influences how the post evolves. That's kind of interesting.)

Anyway, I don't share Keenan's particular malady. I have no problem clicking "mark all as read" in NetNewsWire when I've gotten a bit behind. My greater challenge is the number of posts I've starred, intending to respond to them or otherwise do something. But it doesn't instill any particular angst. I'm old enough now to laugh at myself at all the foolish but harmless things I do.

But it's interesting, also, that in this morning's feed there's a post from from Matt Webb about how various social media prompts are interpreted by people who may not be exactly in center of the Bell curve in interpreting a prompt. It's resonant, to some degree, with Keenan's experience with RSS.

As Jack observes in another post, people are different and generalizations can make someone look foolish.

FWIW, I stopped reading Gruber some time ago. His writing feels calcified, stale. He's approaching "grumpy old man" without the charm of being, you know, old. I think that's the problem with writing mostly about one topic and being so strongly identified with it, namely Apple. I know he's done some stuff with sports and maybe movies? Anyway, I don't miss him.

But that's the beauty of the blogosphere. There are many voices. Always something new to discover. Keenan was new to me this morning.

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On the Road

07:12 Friday, 19 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.05°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 612

I'm in a New York State of mind. It's 43°, cloudy and windy. It's enough to make you miss Florida. Kinda. The weather anyway. (The weather in the header is from Jacksonville. I'm in Albany, NY.)

Finished Takeover: Hitler's Final Rise to Power yesterday. In an Afterword the author, Timothy W. Ryback, mentions Dr. Richard M. Hunt, a "teacher, mentor, and friend," and Harvard professor. Specifically:

When I visited Rick in a retirement community outside Boston in autumn 2019, he was asking similar questions about political fragmentation and polarization in America. He wondered whether Weimar Germany might serve as a cautionary tale even as he warned against drawing false parallels or tenuous conclusions. He invoked an old adage: History never repeats itself, but the events of past and present can rhyme. With this caveat in mind, I have let the historic facts speak for themselves.

Indeed, the facts do speak for themselves, and they are chilling. Because of the differences of the respective political systems, it's impossible to align personalities and dynamics with 100% correspondence. But what is congruent is deeply troubling. The short lesson is that it is quite possible to destroy democracy through democratic means. Perhaps this comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention for the past eight years.

I suppose it also supports the idea the that democracy isn't necessarily an ideal that everyone in a democracy shares. That there's a strong trait present in human nature that craves a "powerful" leader.

Given the reliance on abstractions that democracy and democratic political institutions require, that seems unsurprising. Civilization itself is an abstraction. It exists only in our minds. When enough minds abandon those abstractions, or subordinate them to other ideas, or are wholly incapable of establishing and maintaining them in the first place, you get WW II, a large scale, multi-regional collapse of civilization.

Today, as profit and competition push aside the value of a functioning civilization, we have a global catastrophe unfolding.

What happened in Germany was plainly visible to anyone who cared to look at the facts. Many tried to wish it away, but others saw what was coming, were powerless to stop it, and what followed was as inevitable as the sunrise.

Similarly today, what is happening is plainly visible to anyone who cares to see. While many of us may wish to believe that the outcome isn't inevitable, it very likely is.

Our cognitive capacity isn't sufficiently evolved to maintain a near-universal hierarchy of fundamental abstractions. We have emotionally anchored primitives instead, and we're highly evolved to "reason backward from our feelings." We value simple concepts like "competition," or "the market." Our notions of "freedom" are similarly crude. They may have functioned reasonably well in the 18th Century, but they're wholly outmoded in the 21st. But we're emotionally wedded to them, and that can be exploited.

I've read a lot of books about the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany, because it does seem like it ought to have been inconceivable. That itself should demand that it be studied and understood. But we have "Godwin's law," to relieve us of any burden of investigation and understanding.

The "banality of evil" is the extent to which we will, as a matter of routine, empower others, even the worst of us, to perform evil. It's written throughout our history. The "bad guys" never see themselves that way. Hierarchy of abstractions. "We did what we had to do." Razor wire in the river. "Destroy Hamas."

Anyway, maybe it's the weather. There are hints of spring on the branches of the trees, but the sky is gray, the air is cold and the wind howls.

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Waiting On My Ride

07:30 Thursday, 18 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.79°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 352

Hartsfield Atlanta tower and a Delta aircraft in the foreground

Well, let's see if this works.

Got up a little before 0300, out of the house a 0315. No traffic at that hour. No line at TSA pre✅. Somehow my phone fell out of the x-ray bin, but fortunately I realized I didn't have it before I left security and found it on the floor next to the conveyor. I guess it came out when I pulled my backpack out.

Two plus hour layover before heading on to Albany. Figured I'd play with the marmot. Brought the OM-5 along and shot this with it.

Dozed a bit on the flight out of Jax. Wouldn't mind a nap right now, but that's kind of difficult. Made the mistake of getting breakfast at TGI Friday's. Horrible. It was supposed to be an omelet, but it was just a mess.

Connected up to wifi through my phone's personal hotspot, seems pretty speedy.

Tried doing an online check-in with Hertz, but since I reserved the car under the name "Dave Rogers," I can't confirm check-in because that doesn't match the name on my driver's license. It's 2024 and we're worried about AI taking people's jobs and we can't have a computer figure out that "Dave Rogers" and "David Rogers," each with the same address and phone number, aren't the same person.

I guess in an era of ubiquitous surveillance and corporate, government and malefactor intrusions the fact that computers and the software they run are so limited ought to be encouraging.

Can't say I enjoy traveling at this hour, but it does have the advantage of avoiding crowds. It also gets me out of Atlanta before the weather starts getting weird. Summertime is worst, but I'm not sure you can rely on past patterns anymore. Flying at this hour is more affordable too, to the extent that I was able to book first class without breaking the bank. It really is hard getting up that early though.

Ok, rambled on enough. Let's see if this will upload.

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This One's In Color

08:39 Wednesday, 17 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.15°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
Words: 643

Colorful morning twilight clouds reflected in a suburban retention pond

Brought along the E-P7 this morning, with the Lumix 20mm/f1.7 on it. Did the bench and the arches again, probably upload those to Flickr after I get finished here. I played with in-camera RAW processing, choosing different built-in profiles.

After shooting the arches, it dawned on me I hadn't been notified by Delta to check-in for my flight tomorrow. So I opened the Delta app on my phone and saw the flight to Albany, but not the return leg. Spent some time fooling around trying to figure out what was up with that, and decided it would have to wait until I got home.

After some confusion on someone's part, I don't think Delta's system was running properly, I finally got the whole itinerary listed and checked in for tomorrow's oh-dark-thirty flight to Atlanta. I'm getting up at 0300 tomorrow to get to Jax for an 0520 flight. Oy. I'll park in the parking garage ($$) because it's just for the weekend, and I'm only bringing a carry-on and maybe a camera bag.

I printed my boarding passes, just in case, and then noticed they omitted TSA pre✅ (let's see how that renders). So I went to the app on my phone, which couldn't find my whole itinerary previously, and had to wait while something happened in the background. Now all is well, and everything is up to date. The electronic boarding pass has the TSA pre✅ logo, and now they're in the Wallet app.

I tried to do Hertz's "touchless" check-in, which is pretty creepy because they want to enroll you by having you take a picture of yourself and your driver's license. I initially declined, then thought about it and figured we're all screwed anyway as far as privacy is concerned, might as well make it convenient.

So you start on the computer in the browser, it then sends a "secure link" to your phone, where some web app is supposed to step you through taking photos of yourself and your driver's license. For better or worse, it wouldn't work, so I guess I'm standing in line to get the car. No big deal.

Planning on bringing the OM-5 with me tomorrow. Maybe the 14-42EZ pancake zoom, the 20mm/f1.7 and the 45mm/f1.8. Mostly going to be indoors with Mom, no sense going crazy.

One question will be exercise. I've been pretty consistent for the past few months, getting my walk in. Maybe I'll use the treadmill and listen to a podcast. It'll be a lot cooler up there, high for the weekend is supposed to be 61°F. I'll bring a pair of shorts in case I use the treadmill, but looks like jeans weather to me.

Watched two more episodes of Fallout. Moderately more interesting than the first four, but it's basically just ripping off Silo now. Am I entertained? Meh. I'm mostly just watching out of curiosity, I'm not emotionally invested in any of the characters and the plot just seems lazy and weak. The energy question was answered... "Fusion cores!" Of course! The "I oversee..." and the "overseers" threads were tied together with a 2x4 over your head. Vault 4 was "scientists" experimenting on "the effects of radiation on human DNA," so of course you shouldn't go down to Level 12.

It's not "art." It's just a cash grab.

I won't finish it tonight. Last night's effort left me with "unpleasant" dreams. I'll watch the rest after I get home. If you don't have Prime, you're not missing anything.

Anyway, guess I'll work on the bench a bit. Then there's a photography club meeting this afternoon, so I can get my "socialize" check in the block.

The beat goes on.

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Just Killing Time

19:08 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.51°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 4mph
Words: 445

The sun's shining in the front door, so I'm going to wait a little while before I try to watch TV. Figure I'll watch a couple more episodes of Fallout and then read a bit.

I periodically re-read my posts in NetNewsWire, because I'll pick up errors that I missed in Tinderbox or the web page. I don't know why. But re-reading the post about multiplying USB cables, I realize I may have left the impression that I don't know what Fallout is based on. I do know. In fact, one of the original versions, maybe the first one, was available on the Mac and I had it. I never got out of the cave. So, yeah, I know it's a game adaptation, like The Last of Us.

Unlike Fallout, that adaptation came from a game with a genuine storyline and characters you could care about. Fallout just feels like a cash grab. High production values, but otherwise empty. Like a Saturday morning cartoon.

Speaking of re-reading posts in NetNewsWire, a correspondent reported that the RSS link was broken. At first, I couldn't figure out what he was talking about, since it was working just fine in NetNewsWire. I just stumbled on it, after recalling his report as I was writing this.

When I deleted my Mastodon account, I tried to delete it from the sidebar on the marmot.

Somehow, that got fouled up and the rss link pointed to the Mastodon account.

All fixed now, for this month. I may use BBEdit and search & replace (delete) that link in all the pages it appears in. But I'm lazy and, well, I may not.

But the rss link should be fine going forward. Thanks, Richard!

I'm still reading Takeover, about the six months before Hitler took power. (It's really more than six months, but it focuses on that period as the narrative structure.) I'm reading it in my little Kindle device, and I decided to read that manual today, to see what I wasn't taking advantage of. I emailed myself some highlights. Seems useful.

The book is very good, but the author likes to leap back years or months to provide context for events occurring in the main timeline, and it can get confusing. It's another book, especially as an ebook, that would benefit from a timeline.

While Germany was a parliamentary system, with many parties, there are still so many profound parallels to the circumstances we find ourselves in today.

And in other news, I found the 14" M3 MBP charger, plugged into the power strip behind the recliner where I left it. It's a 70W device, now labeled as such.

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Just a Reminder

19:04 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.51°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 4mph
Words: 36

Don't plan to move to Florida. For the moment, much of the risk of living here is subsidized by the federal government. But that's starting to change, as it should.

And folks aren't happy about it.

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Do They Breed?

14:40 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 82.83°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 51% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 411

Well, I can actually see much of the top of the workbench. Less than half, but much more than before.

And, I discovered yet another rat's nest of USB cables! Save your twist ties, boys and girls. They come in handy. I already have a shoebox full of them, separated by type into ziplock baggies. For now, I'm satisfied that this new batch is untangled and wrapped. I'll get them into their respective bags later.

But, seriously, I thought I went through the garage a year ago and pulled all the USB cables out of the various storage containers we were consolidating and reorganizing. Where did these come from?

In another sign of advancing age, I spent part of the afternoon using my Dymo LabelManager 160 labeling my various power banks by capacity and power delivery. It's all printed on the devices already, in tiny low-contrast text that's impossible to read! I generally know which ones can do power delivery, but how much? Now I don't have to guess.

Same thing with the USB C power supplies. Which revealed that I can't seem to find the one that came with the 14" M3 MBP. It's either around here somewhere, or it's in San Diego with Mitzi. Not really an issue for now. I recharged it last night using the USB C port on the Bluetti EB3A, which didn't spin up its fan to do it either, even though it's rated at 100W PD, same as the AC70. I've also got a 60W and 65W Anker power supply, in addition to the 60W one that came with the 13" M1 MBP. So I'm fine for the trip up to Mom's on Thursday.

I've been watching Fallout. I'm halfway through and I'd say it's... Meh. I'd like to know what advanced energy technology this post-apocalyptic world is using to keep all those Pip-boys and powered armor suits running. I know, "Willing suspension of disbelief," and all that. But it's mostly just a cartoon with excessive gore. I don't really care for, or about, any of the characters. But somebody spent a lot of money to make it, so "serious people" have to write "seriously" about it.

It's a cartoon. Not even a comic book, let alone a "graphic novel." A post-apocalypse Tom and Jerry, or Coyote and Road Runner. Chop her finger off? Oh, horrible! Oh, just stick another one on. Sorry. Spoilers.

Anyway, something to pass the time.

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Learn Something New Every Day

10:05 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.29°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 80

I've had this Makita LED work light for many years. It comes in super-handy when you're working under a sink or a desk. You can set it on the floor and angle the light up to wherever you need it.

What I never knew was that the damn thing rotates as well! I've just been angling it up or down to whatever degree I needed, but rotating it adds another dimension.

Ordered another one.

Probably should start reading manuals.

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Check Sat

09:54 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.11°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 90

Doc said, "I wish all my patients were like you."

At this rate, I'm going to live long enough to die in the apocalypse.

So I got that goin' for me.

Yeah, all the numbers were solid, even weight was down, though I'm still obese. BP 100/67, which I think is a glitch in the machine. It's not that low.

Anyhow, to reward my superior performance, I bought a celebratory pint of Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream and ate it for breakfast. It's a retired guy thing.

Take that, apocalypse!

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Crush the Shadows

07:45 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.66°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 0mph
Words: 88

B&W image of spreading contrails in the sky reflected in a suburban retention pond

Light was off in the library at the clubhouse. Wouldn't have been as nice a shot. Plus, I'd meant to bring the E-P7 and try it with one of its built-in B&W profiles.

Anyway, grabbed a couple of snapshots while I was focused on keeping my heart rate up. I liked this. Probably a nothing shot, but I liked it.

Next a shower and then a maintenance check with my physician.

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Success

05:19 Tuesday, 16 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.67°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 703

This morning, no AppleScript error complaining it couldn't find $Text. Everything "just worked." Tuesday was created, Midwatch was created and the Calendar event summary was already in the text of the note.

Pretty cool.

To summarize: Formerly, a Month container would check the date, and if today's date was still the same month as the container it would create a note for today's date. That was in an $Edict, which runs once an hour or so, and if today's note already existed, it did nothing.

A note for a Day container would be based on the p_Day prototype, which contained an $Edict that ran ran a Function called fMakeMidwatch, which would create a new note for the first entry of each new day, the Midwatch entry. (Typically ran about 1:00 a.m., so, close enough.)

The Midwatch note was based on the p_Midwatch prototype, which contained in its Edict a runCommand action, that ran an Automator application that used Automator to query Calendar in MacOS for the next three days' events, and an AppleScript that then added those events to the $Text of the Midwatch note.

So each Day container had an $Edict that was enabled to create Midwatch for that day, and each Midwatch entry contained an $Edict that ran the Automator application (a workflow saved as an application) called MidwatchEntry (Which is saved in Applications, not on my Desktop, so let's document that Rogers!). So an $Edict had to be checked for each month, each day and each Midwatch entry, and those Midwatch $Edicts were reaching out to talk to other applications by Unix (runCommand) and Apple Events (Not to be confused with new product press reveals.). The last of these adding significant processing overhead to the file.

The result was that, from time to time, I'd be working in the marmot, Tinderbox would beep and my cursor would disappear for about a second. Just long enough to be intrusive and perhaps interrupt a train of thought. Or what passes for "thought" here.

Not optimal.

My first thought was to disable all $Edicts after they'd run. In may Tinderbox uses, an $Edict performs a regular function of some kind, probably related to housekeeping. It probably works internally with Action Code, which is pretty lightweight, and so dozens or hundreds of $Edicts don't really cause Tinderbox to break a sweat. But reaching out to the OS via Unix and Apple Events introduces latencies that become noticeable as their number increases.

Easy peasy, disable the $Edicts after they did their thing. And that's one of the things Mark Bernstein helped me with on Sunday. Just add a conditional to the start of the Action Code in the $Edict, and don't run it if it's already done its thing and disable the $Edict, so even the conditional doesn't have to be checked a second time.

But that eventually becomes a lot of inert code in a file, adding size if nothing else. Mark suggested using an $OnAdd action, which by design will run only once. I'd considered that, but not thoroughly enough. The relevant container for the $OnAdd function wasn't a Day container, but a Month container.

So when a Month created a new day, its $OnAdd code would run the function fMakeMidwatch, eliminating that $Edict from each new Day.

Mark had the additional insight to add the runCommand code to the function, which meant that immediately after a day's Midwatch entry was created, the Automator Application MidwatchEntry would run and populate the $Text of the note with the event summary.

No $Edict required. No condition checking. No disabling an $Edict. No code in the $Edict attribute of every day and every Midwatch entry.

We talked about it and I added considering it in comments to the function. Comments in Action Code are preceded by "//", in AppleScript they're "--", don't get confused.

So yesterday, I took those suggestions and tried to implement them, but wouldn't be certain of the results until today, after they'd had a chance to run in the normal course of events.

And I'm going to copy and paste this note into Captain's Log as a "Change:" note, to document it.

It's 0557, and I'm going for a walk.

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Things Retired Guys Do

13:29 Monday, 15 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 82.18°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 44% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 406

Mostly, "Whatever we want."

Subject to funds available, of course.

I've been spending some time in the garage doing something of the equivalent of "rearranging my sock drawer." I have a large Husky tool chest/workbench, and it's in the center of an entropy vortex. Every time I go out there, it's more disorganized and finding things takes longer and longer.

So yesterday and today I've been doing some localized entropy reduction. Another thing retired guys do is watch YouTube videos, and now I know how to change the sounds my Makita battery chargers make. I put the dual charger on the larger shelf I added to accommodate Mitzi's Skil string trimmer charger, and now they each play a different little tune instead of just beeping.

Achievement unlocked!

I'm only about a third of the way through, but I've been through most of the drawers and relocated things to their correct drawers, or identified things that need to "go away." One of which was the dryer vent brush because, ventless dryer! I've also gathered all the manuals for the various tools and placed them all in one drawer.

The workbench itself is still clobbered, but that's next on the agenda. I have three Husky cabinets above the workbench, and I think I know how to rearrange things to make better use of the volume in the cabinets and the square inches on the workbench. I may get to that later this afternoon, but I'm bored with it at the moment.

I've got to rig up another MC4 cable for the other Nebo panel, so I can put them in series or parallel. I didn't mention last time that I'm using my Dymo label-maker to label each of the connectors so I know what is supposed to connect to what. And presumably so will anyone else if I'm unavailable.

I think I'm going also use the label-maker to label each of the drawers.

During yesterday's Tinderbox meetup, I was going to demo using PopClip to facilitate making web links in a note. To my embarrassment, I learned that I haven't completely configured the 14" M3 MBP to be identical to the iMac, at least insofar as PopClip wasn't installed. And I need to figure out why the Desktops aren't identical, since I'm using iCloud on both.

I can work on the MBP in the recliner, so maybe that's the next chore.

After my nap, naturally.

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Miss This Guy

09:39 Monday, 15 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.06°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 34

Bodhi, a Golden Retriever

Read a story like this and I get kinda gooey.

Eight years gone now. My how the years have flown.

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Lonely Bench, A Cliché

07:49 Monday, 15 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.09°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 783

Grainy black and white image of an empty bench illuminated by a street lamp against the morning twilight

I didn't shoot anything this morning until I got to this bench. I've shot this before, not long after we moved here, in color and I liked it. I brought the E-PL7 out of my pocket and turned it on and saw that it was still set up for black and white. This is the second of two shots. This isn't a "filter" it's just the grain of an ISO 3200 16MP PEN CMOS sensor with the noise filter turned off.

Anyway, it's something.

Shot the arches too.

During yesterday's Tinderbox Meetup, I got some help with Captain's Log. I'd been wanting to figure out how to turn off an edict once it's run.

Specifically, it's the edict embedded in the Midwatch entry, which runs an Automator application using the runCommand action code. Every edict in a file will run about once an hour, and for the most part it's lightweight code that isn't going to take much processor time and you should never notice it, unless you're interacting with another app. In my case, it was interacting with Automator/Calendar/AppleScript, and all the edicts were turned on. As time went on, and more Midwatch entries were added, the amount of time consumed began to grow, such that I'd be writing something here in the marmot and Tinderbox would beep and seem to go away for a second, and then return.

I'd added some code to test for the presence of text in the Midwatch entry, and if present, do nothing. But I wasn't sure it was working, because, well, "do nothing." So Mark Bernstein showed me how to add a little diagnostic action code using the "speak" command, and this allowed me to see that the code indeed worked as desired.

We then looked at how to disable the edict once it had run, and there are two ways to do that. Essentially, using the "else" clause, assign the $EdictDisabled attribute a value of true, $EdictDisabled=true, (Never quote your booleans.), or just assign the $Edict attribute an empty string, $Edict="", (a pair of double (straight) quotes).

We did all this on my 14" M3 MBP, because I can share my screen in Zoom on that machine, and something is fouled up on the iMac that remains unresolved and I can't share my screen.

So this morning, I had to remember to open the MBP and quit Tinderbox so I didn't have the files open on two different machines. Looked at the work we did yesterday and refreshed my memory of what we'd done and why. Then I spent a few minutes at aTbRef to learn about Quickstamps. A Quickstamp is an easy way to set the value of only one attribute for a number of selected notes. I selected all the previous days and disabled all their edicts, as all these edicts are intended to run only once.

Normally, for an action that you want to run only once, you'd include it in the OnAdd action, so that when that note is added to a container the OnAdd action is triggered and the code is executed. I can't include an OnAdd action in a Day prototype to perform the runCommand and populate the $Text of the Midwatch entry, because it'd run every time I created any entry in a given day.

What Mark pointed out yesterday was that I could add the runCommand action to the fMakeMidwatch function, which is called as an edict in a Day prototype.

As it is now, fMakeMidwatch just creates the Midwatch note in a new Day. The Day prototype contains the edict to run the function and nothing else. The Midwatch prototype contains the edict with the runCommand to create the $Text of the Midwatch entry. All that could be wrapped up in the function, thus eliminating the need for an edict in the Midwatch note.

Thinking about this some more, I could move the execution of the function from a Day edict, to an OnAdd action in the Month container, since each Day will create a Midwatch entry and when a new Day is created by the Month container, the OnAdd action would run the fMakeMidwatch entry for that day, and the function would execute the runCommand to populate the $Text, thereby eliminating two edicts and the necessity for disabling them.

So, that's what I'm going to do in a minute and we'll see how that works out tomorrow.

It's a pretty nice feeling when you think you're beginning to understand how something works. But I've been wrong about that before too. So no high-fives until tomorrow.

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Movies: An Update

09:42 Sunday, 14 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.12°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 160

Just because Jack reminded me about movies...

We watched Batman Returns the other night, after watching Tim Burton's Batman not long ago. I don't think I ever saw Batman Returns before. I had no recollection of it, other than knowing that Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito starred in it. It was great! I think it was better than Burton's first Batman. Of course, then the wheels fell off.

I wasn't in the mood for television the other night, but Mitzi landed on Inside Man, which I hadn't seen in a long time. So I sat down and watched it with her. I'd forgotten how much I liked it. I'm a little confused about the final scene, but I'm getting used to being confused.

Argyle is up on Apple TV+, so I watched that last night. Enjoyed it very much. Kind of a mash-up of Barbie, The Bourne Identity, Kingsman and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Very camp. Loved the soundtrack.

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Social Media Sucks

09:36 Sunday, 14 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.12°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 68

I don't care if it's Mastodon or one of the BigCos. It's like, "People are great, drivers are assholes." Frankly, I can even say the same thing about bicyclists.

You put someone behind some technology where they're isolated or insulated from the other people they are supposedly sharing this plane with, and they become their own worst selves. They become entitled, arrogant and selfish.

I don't miss it.

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Allegedly Edible

08:58 Sunday, 14 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.19°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 111

Closeup of a blue flow blossom with several closed buds surrounding it with hairs on the stems. Backlit.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. After screwing around with solar panels and taking a nap, I rode my bike to the garden and looked in on the tomatoes, peas and beans. Did some watering and wandered around with the Oly Stylus 1s.

This was over by the herb garden. I don't recall exactly what it is, but it's supposedly edible.

Took the long way home, so 10K on the bike yesterday, 5K on the walk.

Yesterday was a big exercise day for me, closed my Move ring for the first time in a long time. Felt good.

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A Study In Arches

08:34 Sunday, 14 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.85°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 373

Two arches framed in an arch, framed in an arch in alternating orthogonal planes. B&W.

Let's be precious.

I got up early, which is to say, "late," so I figured I'd just go ahead and walk instead of screwing around on the computer. Still nice and cool, with fairly dry air, so I wore a sweatshirt with the vest and stuffed the E-PL7 in the vest pocket.

It wasn't a "brisk" walk, I wasn't trying to get my heart rate up, I did that yesterday. But it was faster than I normally walk carrying a camera on my wrist or a sling, so some exercise.

I love walking at this time in the morning because I encounter so few people and cars and no landscapers. I got to the clubhouse before sunrise and stopped and tried to take my time framing this composition. It's still not "perfect." I wanted less of a reveal on the right side of the middle arch so the top right of the curve would have blended into inner right vertical of the arch closest to the camera. I'd shift left and right, forward and back, changed focal lengths and got tired before I found it.

This is the last of six attempts, and the one where I noticed the newspapers in the frame and cleared them out. Got home and had breakfast and read the news and decided to screw around on the computer. But first I figured I'd try some in-camera black and white conversions. I don't have any particular aesthetic feel for black and white. I get that it's about tonality and texture, but I don't have any sort of feel for it.

I did a bunch of conversions editing the RAW in the E-PL7. One was a straight monotone conversion with the "neutral" filter. I added some contrast and filters as well. A couple more conversions and the color jpeg are up at Flickr, all straight out of camera. I liked this one the best. I'm pretty sure this is the one with +2 contrast and the red filter, gradation was normal so no lifting the shadows in camera. 34mm effective focal length, ISO 3200.

This is a "Silent Sunday" shot for Shelley.

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That Was Interesting...

13:26 Saturday, 13 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.89°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 30% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 579

I'm back in from playing with the Nebo solar panels. My first effort was just to ensure the "used" one actually worked. I think so.

I had some problems with the MC4 connectors from the first panel, so I bought a couple other ones with barrel connectors and adapters. They had oppositely colored wires on the male and female connectors, so I figured at least one of them would have the right polarity.

Nope. Wire color has nothing to do with polarity in these products. The two latest ones each included a strip of paper with a warning to check polarity as different solar panel manufacturers do things differently. So do different cable manufacturers.

What can I say? This is my first rodeo.

What I can say for sure is that center is positive on the barrel connector, shell is negative on the Nebo 100 watt solar panel. And in direct current, conventionally, red is positive, black is negative. It was astonishing to me how confusing that could get dealing with different connectors, and different colored wires that had nothing to do with polarity.

What I can also say is that each of the MC4 to barrel plug connectors had the male MC4 plug (Which is itself a matter of some confusion or debate. At the moment, I'm convinced that the gender of the connector corresponds to the electrical part of the connection, not the plastic shell.) wired to the positive center. The Bluetti XT60 to MC4 cable also had the male MC4 connector wired to the positive connector in the XT60. So maybe that's a convention of some kind. In any event, the positive voltage from the panel was present at the same type (gender) of connector as the positive voltage input to the AC70 (Which has the XT60 connector. Confused yet?), which means I couldn't connect them without reversing the polarity, which could be bad ("Don't cross the streams!"), or just result in not charging. (Luckily, it's not "bad" since I did connect them that way when I was futzing around the first time a couple of days ago. I think Bluetti designed the product such that it has reverse polarity protection, probably a diode. Lucky me.)

Anyway it's a good thing I bought a crimper and some extra connectors. (Note to self: Buy a better wire stripper.)

So I swapped the MC4 connectors on one of the cables, and let me add quickly that it's a really good thing I could look at the color of the insulation in the discarded connector, because I immediately forgot which one was which and, naturally, I cut them both off at the same time.

So, after taking a lot of deep breaths, I got the connectors swapped and went out to try again.

Success. I'm getting about 75 watts from the first panel and 55 watts from the "used" one. I suspect it's a matter of them not being oriented exactly the same. There's a little gimmick device you can buy to check that too, but I was more or less relying on their shadows. But looking at them after swapping the cables around, I could see the original one I bought was a few degrees off from the used one.

Both were putting out roughly the same voltage, so I'm pretty sure it's fine, but I'll play with it some more.

Well, I'm going to declare victory and award myself a meritorious afternoon off.

And take a nap.

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Habitat for Automobiles

09:33 Saturday, 13 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.74°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 48% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 775

Street lamp reflected in a sidewalk wet from lawn sprinklers with cars in driveways

Mitzi headed off to San Diego this morning, and I went out for my walk. This is a nothing shot, but just for grins I shot the street lamp reflection in the puddle. The only reason I'm sharing it is because I sat in on a portion of a 1000 Friends of Florida webinar about smarter development in Florida where we hope to maintain a wildlife corridor. One of the slides showed a neighborhood of stucco homes that looked identical to my neighborhood (Quelle surprise.) and the presenter commented that it looks more like a habitat for cars than for people, and that resonated with me.

So, that's why this pic in this post. Not much of a reason, but my blog, my rules.

Anyway, the second Nebo solar panel and additional cables didn't arrive until after sunset yesterday evening, so I haven't played around with them yet. That's next on the agenda today.

My battery obsession continues. I watched a couple of videos by a guy whose channel is called Hobotech. I haven't watched enough of his videos to form any opinions about the guy. The appearance of a handgun in one gave me pause, but I remain ambivalent for now.

He does have decent production values, and the design of his tests and the quality of his information seems good. I watched this review of the Bluetti AC70 and AC2A and thought he did a thorough review. I recommend watching these videos a 1.5x speed, you can always pause and back up if you want to hear something again. YouTube surfaced another of his videos that I wasn't directly searching for, comparing Li-ion rechargeable AA batteries with NiMHs. I thought that was well done, surprising and worthwhile.

If you're disinclined to watch it, suffice to say NiMHs are likely the best value in AA battery solutions by quite a lot. Their single biggest limitation is their 1.2v discharge voltage, which is going to give you "low battery" alerts early, but which will be misleading because your device will continue to run for a long time at that voltage. If you have something that requires 1.5v, like an external flash, then lithium or conventional alkaline disposables are probably a better choice. But in terms of a "sustainable" AA battery, NiMH is the winning chemistry.

I'm also pleased with my choice of the Bluetti EB3A paired with the AC70. I think they complement each other in terms of features, at a reasonable price point. I'm unsure if the EB3A will be on the market for much longer, as the AC2A appears to have replaced it. If the EB3A isn't available, the AC2A is a worthwhile substitute, albeit more limited.

In an era of frequent extreme weather events and potential power outages, I think it's wise to have something more substantial than a package of AAs from the grocery store and a USB power brick in your emergency kit. Something like the EB3A and the AC70 give you significantly more options in terms of powering devices that might be useful in an emergency. They're also small and light enough that they're easy to put in your car if you can't stay in your home for whatever reason.

Similarly, having a modest solar recharge capability just makes sense. You can go crazy on portable panels, but the expense and weight and handling issues go up quickly. A single 200W panel or a couple of 100W panels are probably sufficient unless you're looking to embark on serious van camping or something.

Some rechargeable NiMH AA and AAA batteries and a charger would also be useful for radios and portable lights.

This kind of preparation anticipates that a power outage might last from a few hours to a few days. Anything longer than that and it's kind of in another regime where you may not wish to live there until power and utilities are fully restored.

Preparing a home to be habitable in a situation where power, water and sewer are unavailable for long periods of time is a far different problem. I think we're in good shape here on the power front, but I don't have a good answer for water and sewer. A 5-gallon bucket and sawdust seems to be the go-to solution, but where do you get sawdust from?

In the near term, say the next 5 to 10 years, I think temporary disruptions might be what we're most likely to experience. I think it becomes more uncertain after that. But we do have some time think about it.

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Feeling Good

08:14 Friday, 12 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.95°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 669

Shadow of me walking.

I guess it was the vaccine that had me feeling a bit cattywampus. Started feeling better yesterday afternoon and woke up feeling great this morning.

Nice day for a walk too!

I got to the clubhouse entrance a minute before I got there yesterday, but it was cloudy yesterday so the lights were still on. The sun was just coming up today so the light was way different. I'll try and get there earlier next time I try that shot. I did take one, just to try and get a better composition. Not sure I succeeded.

The Bluetti AC70 arrived yesterday, a few days earlier than expected. Arrived 55% charged, tried to connect it up with the Nebo 100 watt panel, but have some polarity issues to resolve first with the MC4 connectors, which came as a surprise to me. The second Nebo panel should arrive today, along with additional cables, so I'll spend some time with the multimeter and figure this out.

I plugged my M3 14" MBP into it after recharging it from AC, and it was delivering 85W to the MBP from the USB3 port in the battery (rated at 100W) via the MagSafe cable. Pretty impressive, but it does turn the fan on in the AC70 and it's noticeable. I think if I used a lesser cable, it would negotiate a lower charge rate that wouldn't require the fan, but it did charge it pretty quickly. I think I went from 19% battery to 80% battery during Jeopardy. Don't quote me on that, might have been less, but I stopped after Jeopardy.

The idea is to have some "portable" power if we ever need it just for convenience; but perhaps more relevant is to be able to reduce non-essential loads in the house by opening breakers to other rooms, and still be able to have some power in those rooms in the event of a prolonged outage while I'm trying to manage Powerwall loads.

So, during the hotter months of hurricane season, if the grid is down and AC runs constantly, especially through the night, I'd turn off non-essential loads in the house, and perhaps raise the thermostat to 78° or 79° and run a floor fan and Mitzi's CPAP in the bedroom from the AC70 until the sun came up. I'd also likely reduce the reserve on the Powerwalls to 5% to extract more power from them. It'd be a dance until I figured out how everything performed, but the idea is to preserve temperature and humidity control 24x7 until the grid is back up, while still being able to perform most of "the activities of daily life" with some degree of comfort and convenience. If we have enough sun, it should be fine. If we have significant cloud cover, it'd be challenging.

If you're not thinking about this stuff, it might be time to start. Rooftop solar and battery backup may not be in the cards for most people, but some type of portable solar and battery storage might be worthwhile if you can't afford the cost of a generator, which likely includes its own challenges. And I'd sacrifice the food in the refrigerator and freezer and hot water before I'd give up environmental control within the home envelope.

But that's just me. If you have insulin or other medication that needs to be refrigerated, that's a different challenge and maybe there's a solution for that with a smaller refrigerator and a battery power supply. (I'd say, "Or a cooler and some ice," but guess how hard it'll be to find ice when the grid is down. You'll be shlepping down to the National Guard relief station and standing in line with everyone else.)

Hopefully, this is all just an intellectual exercise for a retiree with a lot of time on his hands.

But I do think we're all preppers now, whether we know it or not.

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I'm Still Waiting to Hear From the Nobel Committee

09:22 Thursday, 11 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75°F Pressure: 1002hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 10

Irony is the fifth fundamental force of the universe, Jack.

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Wrong Picture

08:40 Thursday, 11 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.05°F Pressure: 1003hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 75

This is a picture of some arches framed in an arch, framed in an arch

Welp, I don't know how that happened. I suspect I wasn't paying attention to which photo was selected in Photos when I ran the script.

The tree frog was on the wall when I got home, and I intended to post it anyway, so I'd edited it and it was probably still selected.

Anyway, I'll leave it the way it is.

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Thought This Might Be Something

08:24 Thursday, 11 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.81°F Pressure: 1003hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 375

Arches framed in an arch, framed in an arch. Needs a bit better composition

I think the Pfizer shot hit me a bit harder than usual. I don't recall ever having any kind of reaction to the Pfizer, while the Moderna always left me hurting the next day. I didn't feel as bad yesterday as I do with the Moderna, but I was running at about three-quarter power. I felt better this morning, but my walk this morning, which usually leaves me feeling somewhat energized, has me feeling otherwise today.

Anyway, I saw this on my walk this morning. Because I was focused more on walking than photography, I just grabbed this and pressed on. It caught my attention at first because I thought the light looked interesting. But after getting it on the screen, I can see it was the arches that were arresting. And if I had taken my time and worked a bit more on composing the shot, it might have been a little more compelling. Not to be too "precious" about my photography. I'm just a guy who likes to take pictures.

Arches within arches in alternating planes is pretty interesting. I think I could have adjusted my position a bit to get better curves where the edges kind of align. Maybe I'll try again and take my time.

Yesterday wasn't totally wasted. I managed to figure out I had the wrong connection adapter on the cable from the Nebo 100W panel. Same polarity, happily, but a little off in size. I used the EB3A to charge my 13" M1 MBP and then used the panel to charge the EB3A. I didn't stay for the whole thing, and clouds were rolling in and out, but I did see it outputting 85W when I got the right adapter connected.

I noticed that it wasn't charging the EB3A all the time, and that touching the cable caused it to recognize the cable. I went back to my pile of adapters and found one that looked about the same and measured them both with my little plastic micrometer. Sure enough, the one I was using was a little small. Swapped it out with the correct one and we were off to the races.

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Electrifying

16:28 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.97°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 701

Nintendo shut down the Wii U online service, so no more Call of Duty Ghosts online play for moi. There were still a few of us, and most of us were pretty old! I played regularly with a guy in Scotland, two others in England, a few in France, including a woman, a few in Germany, an 80-year-old from Arkansas, a guy from Pennsylvania and another in Canada.

It was fun, but it was pretty addictive. I made it up to 127th in Team Deathmatch. Before I knew they were shutting the service down on April 8th, I had as my goal to make it to 125. That would have required another month or so online. But I did manage to complete my other goal, which was to earn the "gold" camo on all the weapons. Finished that last week with just days to spare. Of course, none of that is available now. I thought at least there'd be a local profile on the box, but I can't find it.

If you search for COD Ghosts Wii U online play on YouTube, there are a few videos where I appear. (ActionDave79, Hey, I created that handle over a decade ago!) I was surprised, but I guess it's a thing on YouTube.

So now my afternoons are free. I got some cable connector adapters today, so I figured I'd go play prepper. I bought a Nebo 100W solar panel from Woot on special for $149 (regularly $299). I couldn't really test it with the Bluetti EB3A because they use different connectors. I've ordered some "real" solar panel connectors (MC4?) but today I have an adapter that converts the 5525 DC plug that came with the Nebo to the DC 7909 the EB3A uses.

I needed to discharge the EB3A to get it to charge, so I plugged in one of my three or four Makita 18v battery chargers and charged a couple of batteries. There's cloud cover overhead, but once the EB3A began discharging AC, it indicated it was receiving power from the solar panel. Highest I ever saw it get was 48 watts, but it is pretty cloudy.

Anyway, charged all the batteries that I thought needed charging. None was particularly low. But it drained the EB3A to 85% capacity. It's back up to 96% right now, but the panel is only putting out 14 watts now. I don't expect that to improve with the decreasing sun angle and the clouds.

But I was browsing around Amazon and spotted a "used" 100W Nebo panel (I guess someone returned one) for $119(!), so I snagged that. I'll have to buy another set of MC4 connectors to rig both panels up.

And just because I'm a dumbass, I went ahead and bought a Bluetti AC70. It was on sale for $450 and gets good reviews. It pairs well with the EB3A, which may be being discontinued? It has about 700 watt-hours of power and a 1kW AC inverter, so it can handle bigger loads or run for longer times than the EB3A. It's bigger, but it's not huge by any means. You can use it as an UPS, but we don't really need that. But it's nice to have "just in case." I figure if nothing else, I can drag it out on the back patio and plug in the oscillating floor fan and set it on high and see if it blows the mosquitos away!

Who knows? It's 110vAC wherever you need it, as long as you're not powering a large load. You can do some trickery with resistive loads (lower the voltage and increase the amperage) to run an electric griddle, but if anything requires stable 60hz, best to stay within the thousand watt limit.

And I got a nice email from a woman at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Standards Information Center, who explained battery connections weren't their jam. But she did send along a bunch of info about a manufacturers' association and the Cordless Alliance System, which I will be looking into.

I sent her a thank you email and told her I appreciated it and the work she and her colleagues were doing.

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Further to the Foreshadowing

12:15 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.61°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 19

As mentioned earlier this morning, news like this brings to mind songs like this.

The wind began to howl...

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Early Morning Walk

10:28 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.59°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 169

Photo of a street lamp above a sidewalk in a suburban landscape in the early morning twilight

Got up early this morning because at some point it's more uncomfortable to lay in bed than to get up and start moving. Got some early blogging done and then went for my walk early because I was scheduled to got another COVID shot this morning. Went with Pfizer this time, because I'd had the Moderna last time and it always kicks my ass. Better to alternate the two.

I don't know if there's some new CDC guidance, but I'd gotten a text from my Publix pharmacy that another shot was recommended for those over 65, and we're getting ready to do some travel anyway.

I enjoy the early morning walks because of the sky and I encounter fewer people. Pretty soon they'll be essential because it'll start getting hot and humid in the morning, and the sunshine gets brutal.

Anyway, got my jab and now to get on with the rest of the day!

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In Other Reading

08:20 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.11°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 174

I saw this piece in The New Yorker, and bought the book. Started reading it last night, and it's almost too on the nose. Trump is never mentioned, but you might as well be reading today's news.

I know it's also unfashionable to compare Trump to Hitler, but wow. It's not that they're the same, it's that they use the same techniques, the same sort of appeals and possess the same indifference to failure. They just don't quit. I guess that's a virtue sometimes.

And the same sorts of people, those with power and privilege and limited scruples, delude themselves in the same ways with regard to how to deal with people like Trump or Hitler.

This is from Anne Applebaum back in 2020. The page loads in my browser with most of the pictures missing, but the text is all there.

History is a luxury of civilization. A kind of human existence that has the cognitive surplus to record and analyze the past. History will judge, but I'm not sure for how long.

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A Good Read

08:15 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.11°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 33

On that happy note, allow me to direct your attention to James Reeves' A Staggering Kind of Stillness, at Atlas Minor.

All we have are moments to live.

What's wrong with this one?

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The Apocalypse Has Not Been Postponed

08:01 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.67°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
Words: 224

I know it's fashionable to dismiss the threat of catastrophic climate change, or overshoot in the matter of the dynamic system that is our civilization. "Ok, doomer," has replaced "Ok, boomer" as the dismissive put-down of choice. "People have always been predicting 'the end of the world.' It's still here!"

"Technology!"

"Innovation!"

But...

The problem with science and risk management is that science is very conservative, and "the market" likes to minimize risk. Usually that means being "skeptical" of science. The question risk managers should have been asking themselves wasn't, "Could it really get that bad?"

It should have been, "How much worse is it really likely to be?"

I'm less certain today that we could have prevented this, even if we began acting in 1992. Maybe put it off by a few decades, but we'd still be confronting planetary limits, if not climate ones, eventually. Before the end of this century.

But I am happy to point out that Republicans and their corporate masters are the most proximately responsible parties for the astoundingly shocking lack of action of any kind. Not that blaming them does anyone any good. I just hope they understand their responsibility, though I doubt they will and I'm certain they won't accept it.

These are the happy thoughts that come to mind as I read stuff like this.

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AA Batteries

05:21 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.11°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 674

The history of batteries is fascinating, and I'm reading Charged: A History of Batteries and Lessons for a Clean Energy Future by James Morton Turner (University of Washington Press. Kindle Edition). One of the things I was surprised to learn, though I suppose I shouldn't have been, was that AA batteries take roughly 160(!) times more energy to manufacture than they produce in their lifetime. And that recycling them often uses more energy than it saves (transportation). Since the removal of mercury from the battery cathode, they're environmentally harmless in a landfill. The whole recycling push was because of mercury, which is no longer part of the battery chemistry.

What I'm trying to learn now is the relative cost of NiMH rechargeable batteries. They're not addressed in this book, as he focuses on the history of lead-acid, AA disposables and lithium-ion, with the materials extraction environmental costs.

I'm also reading DIY Lithium Batteries: How to Build Your Own Battery Packs by Micah Toll, not to "build my own," but to learn about them from a practical sense. The more I learn, the happier I am that we installed the mini-split ac in the garage.

We run our Powerwalls in the Tesla recommended mode of maintaining a 20% reserve capacity. This means we often go to the grid for power sooner than we'd otherwise have to. But it also acts as a whole-house UPS, with about 5kWh of battery reserve in the event of a power outage. It also helps preserve the useful lifetime of the batteries, where by "useful," I'm referring to maintaining as much capacity as possible for as long as possible, while still making practical use of them. The hybrid hot water heater and induction range also help in that regard by being lower current demand appliances, and now the dryer is lower demand as well.

At this point, I think the highest demand service in our house now is recharging the RAV4 Prime. I've tried to schedule trips such that the car is back in the garage early in the day when it can be recharged from solar and/or battery, though now I think it's perhaps at least as smart to allow it to charge from the grid. (We would still net-out positive as solar production that wouldn't go to recharging the battery after charging the car would most likely go to the grid, and that high current flow is not an issue for the batteries.)

They're warrantied for 80% capacity at 10 years, but that doesn't mean they're useless when the capacity dips below 80%. Rather than replace them, I'd probably look to add another battery.

It's forecast to be an active hurricane season, and I'm skeptical that northeast Florida enjoys some permanent geographical advantage in terms of hurricane risk. In the event of a near-miss that left our place habitable but without power, air-conditioning becomes the "vital load," not only for comfort but for keeping the humidity down in the house to prevent the growth of mold.

The "Storm Watch" feature of the Powerwall software will actually charge the batteries from the grid prior to a major storm event, and switch to grid power for the duration. If there's a large or long outage, we'd enter the problem with a fully charged battery, and hopefully the clouds pass with the storm and the array keeps the batteries charged, though it may take some additional care and attention on our part.

So I'm pretty confident in terms of our preparedness. We'd have to monitor cloud cover and our power consumption in the event of an extended outage, but I'm pretty sure I can keep the important things running, chiefly AC and refrigerator, though, really, if we lost the food in the fridge, it wouldn't be catastrophic. I think the AC is only truly "vital" load, especially as we get older.

Anyway, started out with AA battery facts, ended up with aging in place in a hurricane-prone state. What's up with that?

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Totality From Tupper Lake (Photo by Mark Rogers)

05:16 Tuesday, 9 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.23°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 101

Photograph of the total eclipse as shot by Mark Rogers in Tupper Lake NY. Nice view of the corona.

My brother sent me this shot last night after I'd already gone to bed. He went up to Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks to view it and had an excellent view.

We observed it in the shadows cast by the tree in our front yard, and in the output of our solar panels.

My friend and former neighbor went to Arkansas to observe it and sent me some nice shots. My sister in Buffalo had some clouds, but caught glimpses and enjoyed it with neighbors.

Moving on...

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Plainly Ecliptic

06:21 Monday, 8 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.55°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 0mph
Words: 318

I've accomplished exactly one thing so far this morning, in the 90 minutes I've been up. I did manage to move the Make Web Link action in PopClip to the left side of the bar, so it's more readily accessible. It was simply a matter of accessing the menu bar interface, selecting the Actions tab (looks like a jigsaw piece), clicking the pencil icon (edit) at the bottom, and then dragging the little textured button icons to the left of each action. (Apparently you can do that without hitting "edit.")

(I used PopClip to create that link.)

I spent some time (over an hour) looking at Automator and Mail actions. I thought I might try to make log entries automatically, but I'll have to think about it some more. Automator is pretty slow looking for email.

Went a little crazy yesterday and ordered some more electrical stuff. Mostly a bunch of cable adapters. The Bluetti has 5525 connectors for 12vdc out, but not everything that uses 12vdc uses 5525 connections, so... adapters. Bought some pigtails too. Most of this stuff is low wattage, but I'll have to pay attention anyway. You never know and this stuff is pretty inexpensive.

The Kill-a-Watt meter arrived yesterday and I learned the toaster oven uses about 1700 watts when making toast. More rigorous investigations will be forthcoming. The first of two cables I need to connect the Neebo 100W solar panel to the EB3A arrived, verified it will connect to the panel. This is another arena where there are a plethora of connectors, and it can get pretty confusing.

I'll be glad when the eclipse is over. I am interested in the performance of the solar panels, but I'm really not thrilled about a total eclipse anymore. Maybe I'm just getting old.

Anyway, started this post then went on my walk and kind of forgot about it. It's almost 11!

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Batteries Not Included

09:58 Sunday, 7 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.76°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 901

Garret mentions that the power company in Boulder, Colorado is prophylactically ("You're screwed," get it?) shutting down power due to forecasted high winds. This brings to mind my current obsession, batteries.

I think electricity essentially created modernity. To be sure, much of it happened before Faraday and Maxwell (and Volta!), but electricity was the accelerant that facilitated the explosion of modernity and the human population, chiefly through the expansion of information bandwidth, but through all its other uses as well.

I love batteries, but "it's complicated."

We have two Tesla Powerwalls installed and together with ~7KW of solar panels on the roof, we're ~86% self-sufficient in electricity and 100% carbon-neutral in home energy consumption. (We produced more electricity than we consume and export the surplus to FPL. To date, that surplus has also been greater than the amount we consume from FPL when solar+battery can't meet our demand.)

For nearly all of our replaceable battery-operated devices, i.e. the ones using standard AAA, AA, C and D cells, I've switched to rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries. I use C-cell shaped shells (C-cells C-shells down by... Never mind.)

But lately I've been looking at these "solar generators," and considering what utility they may represent for us, well, me mostly.

We operate the Powerwalls in a 20% reserve capacity, as recommended by Tesla. Now, I don't know if this is a good faith recommendation as a "best practice," or a fancy way of hiding battery performance issues. Ostensibly, the Powerwalls are warrantied for 10 years to maintain at least 80% capacity. There are "optimal" ways to use batteries that prolong their useful life, and I'm not sure if our demand cycle is "optimal." I do know that air conditioning the garage (which didn't significantly increase our overall energy consumption), is likely the best thing I could have done to prolong their useful life. It often got over 110°F in the garage. I began by insulating the garage door which got sun all afternoon and essentially became a heating element radiating into the space. That helped by several degrees, but it was still hot. We installed the mini-split and then insulated the ceiling above the garage. That was more expensive than it should have been because insulation companies don't like to do "small" jobs. The garage is quite comfortable now, year-round.

In any event, I think there may be an occasion when our solar+storage solution might be insufficient and the grid unavailable. One way to improve the situation would be to reduce the load on the Powerwalls. I'd open circuit breakers in non-essential rooms, leaving just the HVAC, garage and kitchen energized (for the refrigerator). I'd probably also raise the thermostat to 78°F (cooling), where we normally keep it at 77°F.

Mitzi is heading to San Diego in a week to spend two weeks with her new grandson. I will take the opportunity to play with the power and gather some data on household loads with all rooms offline except the kitchen.

But in that scenario, it would also be useful to be able to continue to use the internet and wifi. So I'd need a power supply for that.

I bought a Bluetti EB3A Portable Power Station. I have a combined cable modem/wifi router device. It takes a 12v DC input from a wall-wart, and I'll want to see about doing a direct DC connection (a matter of the right cable connector) and avoid the inverter-to-rectifier losses. With wifi enabled, I'll be able to monitor the level of the Powerwalls and the load they're seeing.

I may lower the thermostat to simulate the higher temperatures and increased loads during the summer months. Hopefully, six to eight hours should be sufficient to give me some idea of how much energy just those loads use.

I know it'll just be "some idea," because in the summer the stucco radiates heat into the house perhaps as much as it radiates it into space. The AC runs all through the night. That's another effect of altering the composition of the atmosphere, where higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, to include water vapor, impede radiative cooling at night.

But I'll at least have some idea. I've also ordered a Kill-a-Watt power measuring device (the 4400, not the fancy new one that supposedly computes costs), so I can get some more granular data on things like the toaster oven, the TV, the devices in my office and so on.

I figure the EB3A will be useful at my workbench, and I'm planning to take it with me to the garden to run the glue gun so I can glue the string lattice I placed between two garden poles for our sugar snap peas and pole beans. It's tied to them now, but they're metal poles with enamel paint, so I expect them to slide down as weight gets added. I used it the other night to charge my 14" M3 MBP while I was using it on the couch. It's lightweight at about 10lbs and has a carry handle, so it's like having an outlet wherever you want one for loads up to 600W. (Not sure how much the glue gun takes, but I guess I'll find out.)

Anyway, might be smart to look into batteries. We're all preppers now.

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Further to the Foregoing

09:28 Sunday, 7 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.79°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 453

I finished the previous post and set out on my morning walk. As I started, I wondered if Mark Anderson would be offended by what I wrote. I briefly considered turning around and writing this post then, but reconsidered and pressed on.

Lots of nuance in the "editorial voice" can be hard to convey in text. This morning's post was written in a lighthearted tone, almost joy, because I'd set out to learn something about PopClip, and hopefully make something useful (Success!), but ended up learning more about Tinderbox along the way.

And I wouldn't have learned anything without the valuable resource that is aTbRef. It's an enormous project, over many years, covering an application that has been evolving constantly over that time. Mark and I have corresponded about aTbRef and how it is structured and what aspects may have sometimes hindered its utility. So he's very open to making it a better resource.

And given the size and scope and duration of the project, it's unsurprising that, here and there, bits of guidance may no longer be strictly operative. But, in my experience, that has been very rare, and Mark likes to point out that guys like Jack Baty and I turn up the those corner cases with some frequency because we're actively working with the app. Michael Becker is another.

It's possible to learn Tinderbox just by playing with it. It rewards commitment. But once you achieve a certain level of understanding, and an appreciation for what is possible, you want a resource for quick answers. That's often the forum. But I also want to try and figure stuff out on my own, as it's more likely I'll actually remember how to do something if I figured it out on my own. (Not always the case. Repetition is necessary, and sometimes I don't need to do something more than once.)

That's where aTbRef comes in, and it is a wealth of useful information and guidance. And as I've mentioned to Mark, it requires close reading, as it's a reference and not a tutorial. And as this morning's exercise has demonstrated again, it's always worthwhile to read to the end of the article. I always enter the proposition that all I want is an answer to my issue. Sometimes, there's more than one. So "read the whole thing," as they used to say in the blogosphere.

The link I included above is to the site map, which bookmark resides permanently in my Favorites bar in Safari.

So, please don't infer criticism of Tinderbox or aTbRef in the previous post. Quite the opposite. It's fun to "figure stuff out," overcome a challenge and accomplish some desired goal. And I had fun this morning.

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Quick Test With PopClip

06:42 Sunday, 7 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.75°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 77% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 584

Inspired a bit by MacOS X Guru's use of TaskPaper and its command palette, I thought I'd add an extension to PopClip for the Tinderbox menu command "Make Web Link."

In my case, I had previously created a keyboard shortcut for Make Web Link, control-option-command-L. That works, but as it happened I seldom used it. Since I must highlight the anchor text in the $Text of the post, PopClip appears automagically anyway, so I read about how to create extensions to PopClip (link above), and figured I'd give it a try.

It worked. Very nicely! It's at the end of the choices, so I'll want to look at how to move it to the front, but so far, so good.

Now, a brief Tinderbox digression. In the paragraph at the bottom, I wanted to include the text of the PopClip extension. PopClip uses YAML to parse extensions (I have no idea what any of that means), and # is used to denote a comment (Ignore it for processing purposes, although "ignore" is a process.) But Tinderbox uses a few characters like #, and * to create Quick Lists. So if I use # at the beginning of a line of YAML, it exports from Tinderbox as the numeral "1." as the first element of an ordered list.

At first, I thought I could change the text font to Code, which would essentially "escape" all the text from HTML export processing. Wrong!

The last line of the immediately preceding link is,

If you want to use $HTMLMarkupText but have paragraphs starting with *, # or • you can just set $AutomaticIndent to false. This essentially suppresses Quick List functionality.

So I went to Displayed Attributes and added $AutomatiIndent and set it to false. Checked Preview in this post, and there was the numeral 1 again. Still. Whatever.

So, more prowling around in aTbRef, where I found this discussion.

The relevant line there being:

If the $HTMLListItemStart and $HTMLListItemEnd attributes are empty, all quick lists, as defined by lines starting with an * or a #, are disabled and content is exported verbatim (i.e. including the * or # markers).

So that's what I did in the "LIst" pane of the "HTML" pane of the Inspector window. This had the desired effect, and the # appears below at the start of the extension.

But...

That same page also includes this, which would have been helpful right from the start:

To stop a quick list character at the start of a line from being interpreted as quick list markup, either:

Place an Option+space character at the start of the line.

Use the HTML encoded symbol for that character, e.g. replace '#' with '#', or '*' with '*' etc.

Nevertheless, why didn't turning off $AutomaticIndent work? Searching for the attribute $AutomaticIndent takes you to this page, with a red(ish) (salmon?) banner at the top that says $AutomaticIndent is deprecated. Which suggests that the line in the Exporting Code Samples entry I linked to above (See: "Wrong!") should be deleted.

There are five (six, now) links in this post, and I used the PopClip extension on each of them, and it worked flawlessly ever time. I could probably add a "pause" and Return key press and have the whole process automated. Maybe later. Here's the link for PopClip if you're interested. I use it a lot.

The text of the extension is this:

#popclip Tinderbox make web link

name: Make Web Link

icon: symbol:link.badge.plus # Apple SF Symbols

key combo: control command option L

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This Morning's Walk

09:11 Friday, 5 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.26°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 50

Long shadow of me framed by shadows of trees.

I'd planned to take it easy this morning after yesterday's effort, but I noticed it was 48°F this morning so a brisk pace was called for anyway.

Pace was 12s faster, 1bpm higher heart rate.

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Correction

06:22 Friday, 5 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 53.87°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 88

"You've got mail!"

Read a nice note this morning from the pseudonymous MacOSX Guru who pointed out that, "Chris Guidotti is the person who designed the template for the [blog]".

Error noted, and corrected, G! Mind if I call you G? (Ever seen the movie Holy Man with Eddie Murphy? One of my favorites.)

G notes that he's a reader (Thanks!) and enjoys the photos and the Tinderbox posts. (Not the apocalypse posts??)

Anyway, nice to hear from a reader, especially if it's to point out a correction.

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Mid-Walk

10:40 Thursday, 4 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.55°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 43% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 266

Royal palm against a blue sky next to a vaguely Mediterranean looking building

It was cool enough this morning that I could wear my sweatshirt and my vest. I like the vest because it has pockets, one of which can hold my sunglasses and another which is large enough to hold the E-PL7. This leaves my arms free.

Yesterday I tried to walk at a faster clip, and my pace was 17'49" per mile. That's with the E-PL10 hanging from a sling behind my back. It was 68°F with 93% humidity too, which I've learned has a significant effect on my pace.

Today, with the E-PL7 in my pocket, my pace was 16'18" per mile. And the temperature was 53°F and 84% humidity. Despite that, my sweatshirt was was damp when I got home.

Average heart rate yesterday was 118bpm, today it was 130bpm.

Anyway, I stopped to take a few pics. This was the only one I really liked, even though it's kind of a nothing shot. (SOOC) I'm much more conscious of the time, so I don't do much in the way of composition or checking the exposure. I may just stop carrying a camera when I'm making a significant effort to exert myself on my walk. Maybe make two walks a week "camera" walks or something.

This was at the clubhouse, which is slightly post-midpoint. It's convenient because I pause the workout on my watch and hit the head and I'm much more comfortable on the second half of the walk. (It's 3.2mi overall.)

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Better Is the Enemy of Good Enough

06:26 Thursday, 4 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.95°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 388

It's been quiet over in Jack Baty land. It turns out that I didn't have the frequency for Jack Baty/Scribbles dialed into NetNewsWire. Corrected. (That is a lovely UI, BTW.)

Anyway, thought of Jack this morning when I read this over at Bicycle For Your Mind. I feel the same way about Tinderbox, although reading that piece now makes me want to play with TaskPaper, which I also own and probably have since its release or nearabouts (which is apparently not really a word).

I like reading about people using applications that they love. It inspires me, or "gives me ideas," to be less precious, about what I can do in Tinderbox, and Chris Guidotti gave me a bunch of those this morning. Like Mike Hall did in Interstitial Logging, which has a place in "Don't Forget" in Captain's Log.

I need to log those ideas and figure out a path to implementing them.

I wonder if how I might have used Tinderbox as a younger man, if it were available. I used ThinkTank, probably the first outliner available on any personal computer. It appealed to me as the best way to write the kinds of things I wanted to write on a computer. I had a word processor (Only one!), which was pretty highly regarded for its day, PIE:Writer, but I mostly used it to transcribe the oral proceedings of administrative discharge boards, which was work I could have had a legal yeoman do, but I wanted to "play with my computer." It was really work and I didn't do it for long.

But for organizing plans, ThinkTank was brilliant and that did feel like play. I'd bring an outline into a meeting, pass it around, mark it up as the meeting went on. Then I'd go back to my little Apple //c, type in the annotations and changes, print it out and hand that in to the word processing center and they'd turn it into a document, a notice. We didn't have computers on our desks back then, but I bought a //c just to have a computer on my desk.

Anyway, not sure where I'm going with this and I've got to take a walk.

But I enjoy reading posts like Jack's and Chris's and Mike's. Now I need to make some notes.

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This Just In:

17:53 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.74°F Pressure: 998hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 30

Google remains evil.

It's just that amid all the other despicable things going on by tech companies (X, Meta), Google seems, I don't know, less evil by comparison.

Still, evil.

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Sometimes, I Love People

17:52 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.74°F Pressure: 998hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 3

Like this time.

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This Morning's Walk

09:42 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.9°F Pressure: 1000hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 296

Silhouette of a tree reflected in a retention pond backlit by a rising sun

This morning I wanted to try and focus on walking at a brisk pace. I often feel as though I'm walking briskly, making an effort, and yet some neighbor walking his dog will pass me. Part of it is my stumpy little legs, I'm sure. The other part is the sheer mass they're compelled to propel. But some of it has to be form, I think.

I nearly always carry a camera. Usually a mirrorless DSLR on a sling with a sizable, albeit lightweight, lens mounted. It rests at the small of my back when it's not in use as that leaves my arms free to swing as I walk. If I pick up the pace a bit, it'll begin bouncing around and that's unpleasant.

If I carry a rangefinder-style camera, it's usually on a wrist strap. That's usually effortless to carry, but I can sometimes feel the asymmetry in my shoulders as this ~1lb pendulum swings from my wrist.

This morning I thought I'd try something different. I put the E-PL10 (lightweight rangefinder-style mirrorless) on the sling. Less weight equals less bounce if I increase the pace?

Well, yes. But, it's a terrible way to carry the camera if I plan to use it. It's a much smaller body than the OM-1 or E-M1, and so the strap kind of interferes with the grip. It does ride well. But if I'm planning on walking at some vigorous pace, do I really want to be taking pictures?

Conflicted.

Anyway, I only took a handful and kept only two. Not sure either one qualifies as a "keeper," but this caught my eye this morning, so I'm sharing it.

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Chop Wood, Carry Water, Do the Laundry

08:33 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.52°F Pressure: 1000hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 783

Mitzi posted our old dryer for sale on Facebook (Marketplace?), explaining why we were selling it. We have a neighbor who is something of a know-it-all. (Which is really irritating to those of us who actually do know everything.)

Well, he decided to tell us that our heat pump dryer won't save any energy, and may end up using more energy than our conventional dryer. That they were only suitable in Europe where they don't rely as much on air conditioning and where it's often difficult to install vents because of older construction.

Because he's an insufferable know-it-all, he cites references. In this case, it was a 2015 study about energy conservation interventions in some south Florida homes. I know all this, not because I'm on Facebook, but because Mitzi is and she shared it with me. Doubt about the wisdom of our purchase was unspoken but detectable. She wanted something to reply to him.

So I read the study. I'm not qualified to speak to the validity of the study methods, but it did seem flawed to me. One of the data points that they relied on was that the temperature in the laundry rooms of homes with interior laundries spiked when clothes were being dried, up into the 90s in many cases. This obviously adds additional heat load to the home's HVAC system.

But the product they were using in the study was a Whirlpool ventless hybrid dryer. It had a heat pump for "eco" mode, but it also had a resistive heating element for those users accustomed to shorter drying times. It was also a typical American 7 cubic foot dryer. What wasn't clear to me from the data, was how often the resistive heating element was used. And a resistive heating element is not only going to heat the air going into the dryer, some of that will be radiated into the room, in addition to any radiant heat from the heat pump.

In any event, the "combined efficiency factor" for this 10-year-old product was 42% less than the LG we purchased (3.7lbs/kWh vs. 6.4lbs/kWh). I don't know if that's because of some consideration of the resistive heating element, or advances in heat pump design. In any event, the LG is much more efficient.

I gave Mitzi a blurb pointing this out and he responded something along the lines, "Well, time will tell." I later learned that he'd just gone through a laundry upgrade and considered and rejected a ventless heat pump dryer on the basis of that 2015 study.

He then felt it was necessary to point out that the largest electrical load in the home, after air conditioning, is the hot water heater and had we considered replacing that with a hybrid model? Mitzi was pleased to reply that we did so the day we moved in.

Anyway, all this did compel me to do some additional reading about washers and dryers. Mitzi is less keen on replacing her washer now, but she said she won't veto it if I do so, which means it's on my nickel. I read that these ventless dryers are almost always sold as pairs with a washer, often to be stacked, but also because of the size difference. It does look rather odd, such a small dryer next to our huge washing machine. But also because these heat pump dryers are even more efficient with the higher efficiency front-loading washers, that run at 1400rpm or greater during the extraction cycle.

We have a top-loading LG washer because Mitzi prefers those to front-loaders, and it spins at 950rpm during the extraction cycle. I've always thought that the clothes felt pretty "dry" coming out of the washer. For most of my life I'd been using the cheap, low-efficiency washing machines and clothes were definitely wet when you put them in the dryer. Our LG is rated as a "high efficiency" washer, it measures the load and only adds enough water as necessary to accommodate the size of the load. And I think 950rpm is still much higher than a conventional washer, and so more water is extracted.

But I'm inclined to "do my best," so I told her I'd go ahead and get the matching washer for the dryer when we get back from our summer vacation. It's back-ordered right now anyway, and we have something of a busy travel schedule coming up. When we get back, we'll have time and resources to do it properly. She can decide if she wants to stack them and remove one of the cabinets and maybe install a sink in the laundry room.

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Existential

06:19 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.43°F Pressure: 1001hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 365

I wonder if I should have a glossary in the marmot that explains what I mean when I use certain words.

When I write "existential," I'm not referring to "existence" in the context of the human species. I'm afraid we're like cockroaches, we'll be hard to make extinct. I'm referring to this present civilization. A highly advanced, technology dependent, resource-intensive civilization that supports a population of 8 billion people.

Without this present civilization, we couldn't support that number of people.

And soon, we won't.

That's not a conspiracy. It's just a sober consideration of the facts.

At some point, probably before 2100, certainly not long after, there are going to be far fewer people on this planet.

How we get there is the critical question. There may be humane paths, but taking them is the problem.

People, especially authors, like to point out that there have been "doomsday" predictions for as long as this civilization has existed, and yet it's still here. They like to believe that the present predictions will likewise prove baseless as well. Paul Ehrlich wasn't wrong overall. The "green revolution" occurred where we could employ technology and resource-intensive agricultural methods to feed a burgeoning population. That works as long as you have resources, chiefly energy, though fertilizer and water and a stable climate can't be overlooked.

Some optimists like to point out that birth rates fall as standards of living rise, and that many parts of the world are experiencing problematic population declines. (But don't want immigrants.) So the thinking is economic growth will elevate standards of living, women will have fewer children and populations will decline naturally. Non-violently. Not through starvation and deprivation.

That's assuming there are enough resources remaining to offer that level of economic prosperity to the parts of the world that lack it, and that we can do so without inducing catastrophic climate consequences. (Personally, I'm not convinced 1.5°C of warming is "safe." We're not quite there yet, and things are looking pretty dire already.)

So, it's a race. The optimists don't believe it's already over, and we lost.

If they're right, they have an extremely narrow path.

We shall see, I'm afraid.

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The Invisible Shield

06:07 Wednesday, 3 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.39°F Pressure: 1000hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 195

Watched the first episode of the PBS limited series, The Invisible Shield. It was both fascinating and depressing. I was also not exactly thrilled with the editing. Apparently documentary series now have to be edited like action movies, with constant visual changes every 2-3 seconds. It's fatiguing.

But it's still worth watching, and I'm looking forward to watching the two remaining episodes.

It brought back a lot of unwelcome memories, and it is profoundly troubling. I think the internet has been a net loss for humanity. While I'm certain it has brought about many useful things, I think it has also empowered the very worst of us.

We face existential risks from climate change, resource depletion and loss of the natural world, these are all magnified by the extraordinary power of the internet to sow chaos.

Perhaps it's possible to believe that "all people are basically good," but put a smart phone in their hands and watch what happens. It's not that everyone becomes a conspiracy theorist, or a hyper-partisan, but enough people do that the result is paralysis or chaos.

Paralysis and chaos that represent opportunity to the very worst of us.

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Get Low

12:01 Tuesday, 2 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.21°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 97

Closeup of a yellow detectable warning surface at a crosswalk from a low angle.

I asked ChatGPT what the heck these things are called:

Those yellow, bumpy pads at crosswalks are called "truncated domes" or "detectable warning surfaces." They are designed to assist visually impaired individuals by providing tactile feedback, indicating the boundary between the sidewalk and the street.

Shot it with the black E-PL7 the other morning. Didn't shoot anything this morning. Shot so many kite and cedar waxwing shots that I made too much work for myself. Just concentrated on walking briskly this morning.

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Tilting at Windmills

10:52 Tuesday, 2 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.07°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 520

Mitzi does the lawn care around here. It was part of the deal moving here. I bought a condo because I despise lawn care, and I made it clear I wasn't going to do it. She agreed, and for the first few years we had various services take care of our lawn.

They all suck.

Now, I'm against lawns as a general principle anyway, but it's a shame to spend money on them and still have them look like crap. These "lawn care professionals," don't care about your lawn. They spread every weed, fungus and parasite from every other lawn they damage to yours. They scalp the grass, break your sprinkler heads, foul the air and create the most godawful racket.

So Mitzi takes care of the lawn, and she uses all-electric lawn care tools. I tried to encourage her to use Makita brand products, since I already have a bunch of 18v Makita batteries and their chargers!

But, no. She did her research and decided on a particular brand of mower. Separate battery. She did buy a Makita string-trimmer (weed whacker), and tried to use it for edging, but she hated it. So she bought a dedicated edger from the same manufacturer who built the mower. But, smaller tool, smaller battery.

Different charger.

I wanted to recover some space on my workbench so I built a 24" shelf to hold all the chargers. They fit with no room to spare.

Now she's decided she can't stand the Makita string-trimmer, so she's going to get the Stihl. (I think all string-trimmers suck, and she'll be unhappy with the Stihl before long too, but I can't tell her that.)

Different charger!

I bought a 36" shelf, and I'm going to try and fit it in where the 24" shelf is.

But I also just wrote to the National Institute of Standards and Technology and asked them what they're doing about standardizing battery operated portable tool charging connections and chargers. They may not be the right people. It might be the Federal Trade Commission, I don't know. But it ought to be an international standard anyway.

I also wrote to ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) and asked them what they're doing to encourage development and implementation of an international standard for portable tool battery connections and chargers.

This is madness. Every manufacturer wants to use its own proprietary battery connection to try to lock you into their tool line. Personally, I like Makita tools and I'd find a way to live with their products simply to avoid the proliferation of chargers. But Mitzi does the chores, so she gets to choose. I just have to figure out how to make it work.

But it's insanity.

I'm sure my little web-form communiqués will be little more than farts in a tornado, but at least I feel as though I did something.

Won't have to worry about it for long. But still. Every time I turn around I'm reminded of how monumentally stupid capitalism is and that stupidity is why we're going to lose this civilization.

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Good News, Bad News

06:54 Tuesday, 2 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.3°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 0mph
Words: 339

Florida was in the news again yesterday. Given the ongoing circus/horror show in this state, I'm surprised we're not leading the news every night.

The good news: The Florida Supreme Court decided that two citizen ballot initiatives, state constitutional amendments, will be allowed to appear on the ballot this fall. One is to codify access to reproductive health services, including abortion; and the other is for legalizing recreational marijuana.

The bad news: The Florida Supreme Court also let a six-week limit abortion ban go into effect. Which is bad news for women's access to reproductive healthcare, but it does have the salutary effect of placing what's at stake on the ballot in bold relief.

Republicans have held a monopoly on power in this state for over a generation. Having achieved power in the 90s, they wasted no time ensuring they'd hold onto it in perpetuity. This has had the effect of driving the Republican Party ever rightward, as the only way to win elective office, for the majority of offices, is to be more Republican than your opponent. Essentially winning the election in the primary. Today we have many elected officials who are little more than sociopaths, because cruelty, bigotry and indifference to suffering are character assets to Republican primary voters.

The success of citizen ballot initiatives in granting returning citizens access to the ballot gave them a scare, and they've been working very hard to make it near to impossible for citizen ballot initiatives to succeed, but they're not there yet.

I was worried a state supreme court that's as thoroughly red as its "elected" state government would grant Republicans' wish to keep those two measures off the ballot this fall, because they will drive turnout.

I don't know when, if ever, we'll get a chance to elect a truly representative government in this state, but at least we've been given an opportunity to help keep Trump out of office by mobilizing otherwise disaffected voters in the state.

As April Fools days go, I'll take it.

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Captain's Log: No Fool

06:42 Monday, 1 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.21°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 351

The marmot created April 2024 correctly, and everything was set up for this morning, except the container was set for $HTMLDontExport (checked), which I have to uncheck. I'll look into correcting that. Otherwise, the export file was named properly, and the export folder was correctly set. Yay me!

Likewise, Captain's Log functioned properly. A new April 2024 container was created, the April 1 log page was created, and the Midwatch entry was made with the calendar summary in the $Text.

It's not a "glitch," but there is some odd behavior with the AppleScript. When I first log into the iMac, there's always an alert showing, "The action "Run AppleScript" encountered an error: "Can't get attribute "Text" of missing value."

The day's page is "closed," that is, the disclosure triangle points to the right. Clicking that reveals the Midwach entry, and the $Text is empty. A second or two later, it's populated with the calendar summary. And this is with the AppleScript that does not use the clipboard.

So it seems like there may be something in the way the object hierarchy is available to AppleScript (Or Automator, as it's part of an Automator application) in terms of being able to act on a particular attribute. It may be that the object must be visible (i.e. "disclosed."), not just exist. I saw the same thing when the AppleScript relied on the clipboard. If Midwatch wasn't visible in the outline, it wouldn't paste the summary. Once it was visible, it went on happily pasting the calendar summary every time the Edict ran. (That part is fixed, and I no long rely on the clipboard anyway.)

It's a cosmetic thing mostly, though I suppose if I didn't attend to a given day for more than a day, then I'm not sure if the script would fail entirely, or if it would skip the day that had never been disclosed.

I'll play with my test folder and make sure I can reproduce it and then pass it along to the developer.

Anyway, I'm still very happy with how things are working at the moment.

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Swallow Tail Kite

06:35 Monday, 1 April 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.91°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 163

Closeup of a swallow tail kite in flight with wings spread illuminated from beneath.

The only problem with having a nice camera that can take a lot of pictures is that you wind up creating a lot of work for yourself. On yesterday's walk, and Friday's too, the kites were playing above the preserve on the early part of my walk. In drive mode, I wound up taking hundreds of shots, which I had to go through and see if any were worth editing and sharing.

And I'm probably not the best judge of that.

But since these are still unusual for me, I still find them exciting. I suspect there are at least two nesting pairs nearby, because I've seen at least three wheeling around in the sky, seemingly chasing each other. It looks like they're playing, but I haven't looked into their behavior at all.

This one is illuminated from below because the sun was still very low on the horizon.

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