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

Sparks Joy

21:21 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.98°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 263

The Fuji X100VI is the new hotness, but I just read this review of an older (new) camera that kind of took me by surprise when I got one. It's the OM-D E-M10 MkIV. I got mine in October 2020, not long after launch, because a pricing error by Amazon made it too good to refuse: $499 with the kit lens.

It became my everyday, walking around camera with the 75-300 mounted.

I gave it to my son because he needed a good camera and I have too many. The OM-5 is far more capable and about as small, but it can be a little intimidating in a way. Don't get me wrong, I love the OM-5.

But that E-M10 MkIV is just such a fun little body. It doesn't impose anything in the way of expectations on you. It's unassuming. It just says, "C'mon, let's go take some pictures!" I kind of miss it, but I still have too many cameras.

I wrote a post earlier today all about this camera, because I'd been thinking about it. Then I found this surprisingly current review, by a familiar name, which made me delete that post and write this one.

This summed it up for me:

One might be tempted to dismiss this camera as an also-ran but that would be a huge error, because in this case, the whole is rather more than the sum of its parts. Just like its predecessor, it’s a lovely little camera that’s a joy to use and delivers great pictures.
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Conscious Complicity

12:32 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 20.71mph
Words: 788

Almost anyone in the developed world, existing in this century, is in some way complicit in the unfolding catastrophe. Now, "complicit" specifically implies "wrongful" activity.

I think most folks will reject that. It likely will be regarded as wrongful at some point, if only briefly, not that it will ever matter.

In my "hyperphantasic" interior experience, movie quotes often come to mind in the actor's voice. Lately, in the last year or so, I hear Denzel Washington in my mind asking Christopher Walken, "Do you think God'll forgive us for what we've done?"

It's not something I call to mind deliberately. It intrudes when I think about the future.

Anyway, I recognize my role in what is taking place, and what is about to take place and that informs some of my choices.

The only power we have is the power to choose.

And I recall that all we can do is "our best," and the rest isn't up to us. It's enough to try and figure out what "your best" is. And there's a tension between what might be your best, and what you actually do. We are imperfect beings.

Most of our behavior is unconscious, habituated. That's not to say it's "deterministic." I'm not onboard with the idea that free will is an illusion. It's not an illusion, but it's not what most people think it is either. It's the power to choose, and it's the weakest power we have. It's vanishingly small, and we seldom have the cognitive resources to exercise it to its best effect.

Gravity is the weakest force in the universe, but it holds the whole thing together. Well, the important bits anyway. The accelerating expansion of the universe kind of undermines my analogy here, but let's just say it's the weakest force in the universe, and responsible for all of us falling on our asses.

The power to choose shouldn't be discounted either.

So, my philosophy of life these days is to try to do the least amount of harm possible. Short of killing myself, or giving up all my possessions and trying to live off the land or the kindness of strangers, my 21st century, technology-driven existence will cause harm. It's baked in, and there's no getting around it.

But that isn't a license to do nothing. It doesn't mean that it doesn't matter. I'm off the hook. "Eat, drink and be merry..."

So I do what I can, as best I can, as insignificant as it may be. It's not futile. It's not feckless. It matters to me.

One of the things we did, Mitzi is pretty much onboard with this too, is buy the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid. And we did that in lieu of buying an electric vehicle, specifically because Mitzi felt the infrastructure wasn't here yet. But we knew we wanted something that would do as least damage as we could afford.

I'm comfortable with that because it's what we determined "our best" could be. And she paid (it's her car) $5K over sticker for the privilege of doing her best.

Well, this was encouraging to see.

GreenerCars is an annual assessment of every new model in the U.S. light-duty vehicle market. It is based on a lifecycle assessment of the greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions from the production, use, and disposal of each vehicle. Unlike other evaluations of the health and environmental impact of vehicles that rely solely on fuel-efficiency, GreenerCars scores every vehicle on its entire impact and is the most effective way to compare gasoline-powered vehicles to electric vehicles. In addition to assessing the emissions from fuel burned in a vehicle’s engine, we assess the upstream emissions generated by electricity used by a vehicle, emissions produced when mining and processing minerals for batteries, and emissions from manufacturing vehicles and vehicle components.

If you don't click through to the link, numbers 2 through 5 on the list are EVs. Number 1 is the Toyota Prius Prime SE PHEV.

Number 6 is the RAV4 Prime PHEV.

This is the first time I've seen this list, though it's been around for a while. Technically, I should point out that our 2021 RAV 4 Prime was the number 9 vehicle for 2021. Still, in the top 10 out of all the models on the market in 2021.

In an ideal world, I think I'd like the Prius. But I do know that I prefer the higher driving position of the RAV4.

Now, and this is important, this is not a license to judge other people either. It's not anyone's job to figure out what your best might be. That's solely up to you.

Just, do your job.

Choices matter.

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Update to the Preceding Post

12:26 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.57°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 20.71mph
Words: 24

I made the Auto Train article in the WaPo a gift link, and re-posted it. Need to remember to do that. Sorry, Garret.

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Taking the Auto Train

10:53 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.3°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 557

We're going to spend a few weeks in upstate New York again this summer. We skipped last year as Mitzi had some international travel planned. We normally drive both ways so we can carry all our crap and have a vehicle to use while we're up there.

The first year that we went for three weeks, we still had Mitzi's Honda CR-V, we also had Schotzie. I wanted to take the Auto Train to have that experience and to mitigate the CO2 emissions. Well, the Auto Train doesn't allow pets. So we did a "worst of all possible solutions," and I took the Auto Train with the car, while Mitzi flew to DC with Schotzie. It did give her another night with her daughter and son-in-law.

Well, I liked the experience and wanted to do it again. Schotzie (Adventure Dog!) passed away a couple of years ago, and I miss her terribly, but it does simplify many things.

It's still expensive, but we have a few things going for us this year. No dog. We're both over 65 so that's a discount of some kind. We're only going to take it one-way, on the return trip from Lorton, Virginia to Sanford down near Orlando. It's just under $1K for two people in the bedroom with bathroom/shower.

The thing that tipped it for Mitzi is that we would avoid driving through South Carolina. The Auto Train is one of Amtrak's most profitable routes.

“The Auto Train, as I understand it, has grown in popularity particularly on that one route because of the sheer congestion that people face on driving down the I-95,” Little said. “A lot of people are prepared to pay for the convenience.”

Bing! It's worth the money to avoid the cruelty of having to drive through South Carolina on I-95. Because it's near the end of our trip on the way home, we have to get as far south as possible on the first day to ensure we get through South Carolina not later than 1:00 PM on the second day. (Close readers of the marmot will note that I used to say 2:00 PM. Then we went to Charleston over the holidays and got stuck before noon.) The longer the day goes on, the worse I-95 gets in South Carolina. The compression waves of traffic begin to build and their amplitude and frequency gradually increase. They're tolerable up to about the early afternoon, after that, you never know. You might escape, or you might be trapped in a three hour backup because of multiple accidents. I have a visceral reaction to having to drive south through South Carolina. Headed north, we're usually through there before noon, so it's not as bad.

Leaving New York, we'll drive to Lorton on the first day, which is way north of where I'd want to be on the first day, and spend the night there. The train doesn't depart until 5:00 PM, but you have to show up a few hours in advance to get your car loaded. So we'll have a lazy day in Lorton, then relax until we get to Sanford. It's a couple hours from Sanford to home, but it's on a decent stretch of 95, unlike South Carolina.

Money well spent, I'd say.

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Rent's Paid

09:49 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.81°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 386

Just paid the rent on three more years of hosting the marmot and Notes From the Underground. I plan to start posting to NFTU soon, where I'll confine most of my "darker" thoughts.

While there is some cost to having your own URL and web server, it also affords you the privilege of having control over nearly the whole stack. I don't maintain the server, nor do I want to. I suppose it's possible my host might put something nefarious on it without my knowledge, but that seems unlikely at least at present.

I got a nice note from a reader, Alex Johnstone from Scotland(!). He's old-school and visits the page versus subscribing to the RSS feed. That's nice to hear, even though it should be apparent that I don't put a lot of effort into the design of this blog! He's a ham radio operator, which is also interesting to learn. I'm going to have some more time on my hands at the end of March, so I've been thinking about taking my exam and spending some more of my children's inheritance. There are antenna issues here, so it may be more of a mobile rig. We'll see, but I'm leaning that way pretty hard.

In other news, I started a post about the Tinderbox meetup and then got distracted. Figure I'll close that loop here.

First, I didn't embarrass myself. At least, I didn't embarrass myself to myself. I thought I was fine.

I thought Jack was outstanding! I'm probably biased, but I don't think you had any cause for concern, Jack.

Second, Zoom from a laptop while seated in a recliner is very comfortable, but unflattering.

Third, James Fallows was present for a significant portion of the talk about blogging with Tinderbox! I'm fan, what can I say.

While we did talk a lot about Tinderbox, because that was our audience, I think the message about getting people to just start blogging again (for the first time) was pretty clear.

I think it's easier to hear one another when we're not herded into silos and goaded into becoming performing monkeys for the benefit of billionaires seeking to monetize and profit from our social tendencies. We should be in social networks, not concentration camps.

Spread out, people! There's plenty of room in cyberspace.

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River City

09:49 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.81°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 702

Photo of the skyline of Jacksonville Florida above the St Johns River taken from a moving car

Mitzi and I went to another talk in the Florida Forum series on Monday. Same series that we saw Woz at last month. She drove, so I shot this with my iPhone from the window of our car. It's a pretty skyline in the golden hour.

We went to hear retired Admiral James Stavridis. He lives not far from here, in Ponte Vedra Beach. I've been reading or listening to Jim Stavridis for almost 50 years (48 or 49, I don't recall if he was Brigade Commander first or second set.)

Before there was blogging, there were journals. Jim was always getting published in Proceedings, the journal of the United States Naval Institute. I can recall that he was very highly regarded at the academy, which is saying something. He went on to a very long and distinguished career, including Supreme Commander of NATO. A little bit goes a long way with Jim, and you're never going to get just "a little bit" of Stavridis. He does seem to like to hear himself talk.

As I suppose I do, as I "hear myself" as I'm writing.

Anyway, it was a good talk. He threaded some very fine needles in commenting on current events in the Middle East and in domestic politics. He was on the short list for VP if Hillary was elected according to some friends who know him. Maybe it was SECDEF. I can't see a guy with no domestic political experience being a running mate. SECDEF makes more sense, so maybe I'm mis-remembering. But that gives you an idea kind of which way he leans.

Basically, he took the audience around the globe and talked about "challenges and opportunities for leadership," and it was mainly geopolitical. Nothing really about climate. Nothing about uncontrolled growth and system overshoot. Which is fine. Not exactly in his wheelhouse, so to speak.

He had some things to say to the audience about how they might help. "Read more." Well, it's an expensive talk, (a fund-raiser for Wolfson Children's Hospital) so the audience that perhaps really needs to be encouraged to read more probably wasn't in the seats that night. "Listen to each other," was the other. Yeah, I don't know about that one. People don't "listen," around here, so much as "wait to speak." So maybe the advice was good, but I don't think anyone heard it.

He had some kind things to say about Jacksonville, which was polite, I suppose. Although he called Jacksonville natives "Jacksonians," and I've never hear them referred to that way. It's either the neologism "Jaxsons" or "Jacksonvillians." His wife is a native, so that was kind of an inexplicable slip.

He said that people are "so nice" here. But it's Florida, a part of the former Confederacy and "southern" nice is a different kind of nice than, say, New York nice. New Yorkers may be abrasive, but there's seldom hostility; and if there is, it's right in your face.

This is "bless your heart" country. The myth of the genteel ways of "Old Dixie," dies hard. They'll smile to your face, but stab you in the back in a heartbeat, and do so gladly. And it won't be "personal." It'll just be one of two things: business or politics. But, "nothing personal."

Also bear in mind that Florida is really two states. One Florida is of and for the privileged, mainly white but all relatively wealthy people. The other Florida is the ignored. The people in the margins. The poor, immigrants, people who aren't cis-gendered. The people Florida's generation-long Republican rule won't expand Medicaid for.

They used to be just "the ignored." Now, under DeSantis and Republicans like Randy Fine and Dean Black, they're the openly attacked. So, yeah, if you're among the privileged, I suppose people seem nice.

All of that "southern hospitality" and "civility" was a mask for one of the most brutal cultures in history.

Which I think is why hate has found such a welcome home here. It never left. It's not Jim Crow pervasive yet.

But give it a chance, and it will be.

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Join or Die

06:47 Thursday, 29 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.76°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 52

I remembered later that I often star RSS items in NetNewsWire so that I can blog about them later. I went looking for something I wanted to blog about and didn't find what I was looking for, but I did find this!

It was a video, and, unsurprisingly, it was at Kottke.

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Life's Little Struggles

13:49 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.69°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 49% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 420

My plan was to go through Gary Rosenzweig's Automator YouTube playlist and just create each of the Automator programs. (Gary does some of the best work explaining things on the Mac of anyone I've seen.)

So I'm doing this one, which is the last chapter in the video, a little Finder Quick Action to get the file path to a file or folder, with a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. (Yes, I know Opt-Cmd-C, but this is for learning about Automator.)

Pretty simple and straightforward, I enter it and it shows up as a Quick Action. I execute the Quick Action and... no notification.

Check the clipboard and the file path is there on the clipboard; but, no notification.

I'm no dummy. I check System Settings to make sure Automator is allowed to make notifications! Hah!

Hmmm... It is.

Oh! Wait! I'm in the "Work" Focus mode, and I have limited notifications! So I turn off Focus.

Run the QA. Huzzah! A notification!

Which just gives the name of the variable, not the value. What?

I figured I missed a step or something, so I watch that portion of the video again.

Nope. I got everything right.

I figured I'd go ahead and move the variable up into the Title and see if it showed up there. Nope. I put it back in the Message and added a title, "File path:" Honestly, I've forgotten what happened then. But I didn't get the FilePath variable.

The video is a couple of years old, maybe something is broken in Automator under Sonoma. I search the MacScripter Forum. No joy. No reports that Automator notifications are broken.

Well, I got on the 14" MBP and re-created the QA in Automator on that machine. Works perfectly.

Got back on the iMac and basically re-created the QA in a new document, overwrote the old one and ran that. This time, I get the correct Title text, "File path:" but the Message is "Notification."

This gives me very little faith in Automator at this point. I'm going to reboot now, because it's the computer equivalent of "jiggling the cable." Presumably, something is confused somewhere and it's just a matter of getting everything back into a known state.

I hope.

But yeah, my love affair with computers is a pile of cold ashes.

Update (14:30): Re-booted. Deleted the original from the Services folder in the Library. Re-created it in Automator. Still doesn't work. Notification shows, "File path: Notification". 🤬‼️

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10:14 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.04°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 387

Once upon a time, I used to like titling posts with puns. In truth, I still do. This thought came to me before I went on my walk and I briefly considered delaying my walk to post it, but blogging is never urgent.

And I'm glad I did, because now I've read this post at The Verge:

It sounds a little like I’m advocating for the return of the ’90s, when the computer was a giant box that lived in a central room of your home and the only way to use it was to go to it. And to some extent, I am!

The thought that had occurred to me before I left was the notion of "critical mass," that social media networks always seemed to be striving to achieve a number of users and level of engagement that would yield a self-sustaining chain reaction.

Like a nuclear reactor.

I saw a video or a post somewhere about a new documentary called Join or Die, related to the sociologist who wrote Bowling Alone. In it, there was a graph that showed a decline in clubs or other forms of social activity, like bowling leagues, and it had been declining steadily. It must have been a video, because I think I paused it to look at the year 2007, when the iPhone was introduced. And I recall feeling satisfied that the slope of the curve increased (Decreased? Got more negative.) after 2008.

It's not just the social media platforms that alter our experience of one another, it's also the ubiquity of these always-connected devices.

We have this low-grade, yet self-sustaining nuclear (social) reaction going on, that's also creating a lot of radioactive waste that's hard to dispose of. It's funny how social media platforms are always talking about "moderation." You use a moderator in a reactor to control the rate of the reaction, absorb "excess" neutrons. The analogy is pretty sweet.

Combine social media with something that's always in your pocket and welcome to the hellscape of the 21st Century.

The whole damn stack is radioactive.

(And just because I like "explaining" my clever puns, perhaps you'll appreciate the fact that "radio" is what connects all these devices. Gosh, I'm witty.)

Anyway, I'm supposed to be playing with Automator right now. Carry on.

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Egrets in Flight

06:43 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 62.08°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 72

Did a search on Flickr, because it just occurred to me that I could.

I guess it's not that unusual? I don't see anything that exactly resembles what I saw, but it's clear that it does have something to do with the way they tuck their necks in. I suspect that it can't tuck its neck in the way it normally would because it just ate something.

Beats me.

But, yay Flickr!

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05:46 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 62.15°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 772

I agree with the ideas expressed in this post by Manu Moreale, an Italian blogger.

I don't offer the marmot by email, though I suppose it wouldn't be terribly difficult to export a day's posts at the end of the day into an email that could be sent to subscribers. Would anyone be interested in that?

I like what he has to say about the interaction piece, but it's never been an integral part of the marmot.

Back in the Groundhog Day era, I had comments at one point. I think it was early on. It may have been around the time of the Time's Shadow/Groundhog Day transition, and maybe the comments were in Time's Shadow.

Anyway, I had an interlocutor who disagreed with me about the Iraq War and it got kind of tedious, to the point of being unpleasant. I think I'm a bit wiser today about how I'd handle a situation like that. But it was an experience that has caused me not to miss interaction terribly much.

I think email is ok. I know I miss the correspondence I used to have with an Australian blogger, Jonathon Delacour, who used to write a blog called The Heart of Things. David Golding is another Aussie I would correspond with from time to time, and the interactions were always pleasant.

There is a bit of a dopamine hit, perhaps a "thrill," to see someone comment in their blog on something I've posted, as Garret did the other day. Likewise with seeing some number of views greater than zero on a photo I've shared at Flickr, though I take no offense or feel no profound disappointment if an image goes unseen. If I want to be certain it's seen, I can post it here and I know it'll show up in someone's feed reader!

I don't think we ought to "syndicate everywhere." I get that the priority is connection, but do other platforms, more platforms facilitate connection, or just distraction? I mean, it's the "world wide web," right? Theoretically we're all just six degrees of Kevin Bacon, connection is almost bound to happen at some point if you hang around long enough.

Anyway, I think these "platforms," whether federated or centralized, have an undesirable effect of concentrating interaction which leads to distortions.

I recall thinking, back in the early days, when Technorati was kind of a king-maker, that John Robb was an interesting blogger. But then a phenomenon like the Instapundit came along, and it seemed like he kind of changed his approach. It seemed like he was grasping for that level of attention.

The worst example, not to be unkind, was Robert Scoble. He was "chasing clout" before we knew what "chasing clout" even was. He had some success, but it seemed like he kept wanting more. And people would try to associate with him to leverage his clout. And I think it ultimately had a negative effect on him. But I could be wrong. Maybe everything was great and that was all a huge success and I was just envious or something. Haven't heard much from him in many years, and don't make any effort to find out what he's up to. I recall he didn't seem to offer anything insightful, mostly just hype. I just remember it all seemed kind of sad.

For some reason, the quote "I'm not an actor, I'm a movie star," keeps coming to mind. Maybe "us chickens," the "back-fence bloggers" are really actors, and all this is just a performance. Some of us are reliable character actors, most of us are just "extras." But some people want to be a star. Maybe "all the worldwide web's a stage," after all.

And "social media" platforms, low friction, low latency, high-frequency interactions with a focus on metrics and "virality" gives people the idea that they can be a star.

And then throw adolescents into that meat grinder! Oy.

That's to say nothing of being a "grievance engine." Apart from the self-important sages, it's the otherwise perfectly nice people who feel compelled to state the obvious about, pick any current horror, who are kind of disappointing.

Yep. I know about it. It sucks. Thanks for the update.

What's the point?

I guess just to vent. Or maybe it is "virtue signaling." I don't know. But write a little essay, don't just offer a quip, a complaint, a put-down. Not a problem for me anymore, I deleted my account.

Wow, talk about "topic drift"...

Anyway, "social media bad... Blogging good."

Another Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious from a large ground squirrel.

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Wood Stork

05:36 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 62.17°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 130

Semi-backlit wood stork standing by the edge of a retention pond.

Another shot from yesterday morning. Wood storks are just amazing to me. They're huge in the air, and they look almost prehistoric on the ground.

On the last part of my walk when I do the 3.25 mile loop, I'm headed south, so everything in front of me is pretty backlit. I thought it worked for the feathers. This is at 150mm (300mm effective on a full frame body), so I could have tightened up the framing with the 75-300. But I wouldn't have gotten something like this with a normal zoom, like the 12-45. That's an ibis on its right. There were quite a few different wading birds all next to each other.

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05:02 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.61°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 153

Great egret flying low of a retention pond in a suburban landscape with what may be a large fish in its crop.

On my walk yesterday, I was carrying the OM-5 with the 14-150mm/f4-5.6 superzoom. It's not a birding lens, really, but it can give you some reach. And I was in aperture priority because I'd been using shutter priority for Live ND shots. (I could switch from aperture priority into shutter priority and Live ND would still be active.)

Anyway, spotted this egret flying low over the pond and figured I'd give it a try, not expecting much but a lot of blur. Turned out better than I expected, but still an otherwise unremarkable image.

Except, what the hell is going on with that bird's breast? I'm assuming that it has a "crop" and that it's holding a rather large fish.

I have never seen anything like that before. Now I have, and you have too.

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Insomnia Moon 2-28

04:55 Wednesday, 28 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.61°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 129

Waning gibbous moon 87% illuminated

Been awake since about 0230, writing blog posts in my head while trying to go back to sleep. Eventually, I gave up and got up. Stuck my head out the door, there was the moon. Took the MC20 teleconverter off the E-M1X and put the MC14 on it. Less reach, but I'm shooting at f9 versus f14. Dropped the ISO to 200 and leaning against the porch pillar I could stay steady enough to successfully get a handheld hi-res shot, even though the moon was pretty high. (It's harder for me to hold the camera/lens steady when I'm pointing it nearly overhead.)

Anyway, the moon "sparks joy." I wish to share it.

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Taking My Own Advice

21:42 Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.34°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 60

I deleted my account on Mastodon. Right after Mark Bernstein followed me.


I don't think I have a problem with Flickr. Yet, anyway. I'm happy that my pics get some views. I'm not chasing "likes" or "faves" or some number of followers. I just like knowing that they get seen from time to time.

I suppose that could change.

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Blogging After Dark

20:34 Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.34°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 655

Not watching a movie tonight, so I was scrolling through my Mastodon timeline. I don't spend a lot of time on Mastodon. Certainly nowhere near the hours I spent on Twitter each day. I think I visit my timeline every couple of days or so, and since I don't follow as many people as I did on Twitter, I don't feel as though I'm missing out on much.

There was a poll toot recently that just concluded, which asked something along the lines, "How toxic is your timeline?" I think the majority response was, "Not toxic at all."

I responded to the poll before it closed with that answer, because I don't experience the same level of vitriol that I did on Twitter, which is what I associated with "toxicity."

That said, my impression this evening is one of disappointment. I liked one of the things Jack Baty said about "comments" on many sites, that most of them are "performative." Too much of what I read on Mastodon is, I think, also performative.

Sometimes that's fine. If it's a part of an online persona that's offered in a light-hearted, sort of self-deprecating or unpretentious way, I enjoy that. I mean, I don't feel as though I'm getting to know much about you as a person. But I can appreciate the performance. And for some folks, maybe that's the safest way they can engage on social media, which raises questions of its own.

But then there are the ones that just come across as very condescending. Their Mastodon account isn't a "micro-instance" of chatting over the back fence, it's a way to puff themselves up. A vehicle to promote themselves before a very tiny audience. Their many years of deep, deep experience with a particular issue that may be something of a topic de jour, compels them to wave all that froth away, dismissing the excitement and enthusiasm, while citing some admired, deceased pillar of "the community," whose work they still refer to "often."


Now, shame on me, I should just unfollow those accounts.

But I think it's just an aspect of that medium.

It's almost like a live audience, depending on how often you post, how many followers you have. It invites that sort of "performative" post. If you think of yourself as some sort of sage, and you want to be perceived as a sage, respected as a sage, then it practically demands that you be condescending.

And nobody's going to call you on it. If you've got a relatively high follower account, if you're a high attention-earner, then those lower in the hierarchy are more likely to reply with "likes" or favorable comments. Partly because that's "more civil," or "less toxic" than calling someone out. It's also less risky. There's probably more upside to being nice to a pompous blow-hard than piercing their pretension. So they never experience negative feedback, and it just reinforces the behavior. They get more pompous.

I think these social media platforms that quantify things like "followers" and "likes" and other "metrics" distort the "social" aspect of the medium. I think Mastodon would be improved if you and I didn't know how many "followers" we had, or who "followed" us. What are we supposed to do with that information?

I think it only serves the platform, by making it more appealing to users who look to social media for validation or approval, for some measure of their "popularity" or "authority." People looking for those things will go to a platform that provides it. People who are missing something in their lives, seeking to fill it with, I don't know, metrics.

I'm going be thinking about my Mastodon account. I was entertaining the idea of joining Bluesky, but now I'm not.

"We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us." Somebody.

We ought to be getting a clue by now, don't you think?

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12:46 Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.12°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 45% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 224

Shot of a retention pond fountain in front of a tiled roof clushouse shot with Live Neutral Density filter

Ok, looks like the Automator application works again. It's not optimal, because I'm just pointing it to the Images folder in the 2024 archive. This means that in 2025, I'll have to point it to another Images folder.

There's a "variable" I can use, and I'll be exploring that as I go on. For now, I just wanted the overall automation to work so I can post pics while I continue to update and modify the workflow.

It's perhaps a "nothing" image, but I've been playing with the Live Neutral Density Filter option on the OM-5. I've used it before on my other Olympus/OMDS cameras, so I basically know how it works. But I want to get more familiar with it, so the fountain is just a target of opportunity. We don't have much in the way of dynamic water here in the neighborhood. I could go to the beach, but then I lack any foreground interest.

I feel as though I have to point out that if we had any conception of what was coming, we'd turn all these things off. There are many things we can't turn off, but continuing to consume energy for utterly superfluous reasons ought to be criminal.

One day, it might be.

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This Morning's Moon 2-26

11:30 Tuesday, 27 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.72°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 45% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 109

Closeup of the waning gibbous moon.

Although I'd intended to do some work on the marmot, I got distracted by the moon. I had tried a different method of editing the moon recently, and I liked the result. I'd followed some guidance in a YouTube video, and naturally I can't recall what the process was, or which video I watched. Shame on me! Take notes!

Anyway, I also have to fix the Automator action that moves images after export, so I figured I'd first verify it was broken on the iMac as well. It is.

So, off to play with Automator!

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On The Small Screen

10:28 Monday, 26 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.6°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 70

Now I get to watch the YouTube video of our Blogging With Tinderbox meetup, and see how much I may have embarrassed myself.

Probably better at YouTube to see all the shared screen data.

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In My "Mind's Eye"

09:41 Monday, 26 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.6°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 4mph
Words: 321

Garret mentions he doesn't have an "inner voice." I've only learned of this fairly recently, within the past few years, I think. Bix Frankonis is also not "neuro-typical." It's very interesting to me to learn of the varieties of internal experience people have.

The Guardian piece Garret linked to, likewise linked to a test to evaluate the "vividness" of your "mind's eye." I took it.

I was "hyperphantasic." I can picture all of those scenes, in great detail. It's always frustrated me, greatly, that I can't draw them on a piece of paper!

Likewise my "inner voice" is a virtual chatterbox, though I've learned not to take everything it says seriously.

May go some way toward explaining why I like photography and writing so much?

Now, I don't have a "photographic" memory. I can picture scenes or things I'm familiar with in great detail. If I've only seen something once, I can only recall specific things if those things are characteristics I've seen before. A "blue" car, or a "Ford." If it was a "blue Mustang," I could recall that, picture that. But I couldn't recall enough details at a glance to identify the year, or what type of wheels it had.

And my experience is such that it seems almost impossible to me to conceive of an internal experience without them. I don't know what particular use there might be to be able to picture things vividly, other than to recall things that were pleasant or welcome. Or if I had any artistic ability, perhaps to render them in some way.

That said, I "hear" myself writing as I write and I'm aware that I have no idea where the words are actually coming from. That is, "hearing myself" is integral to my writing process, but it's the "still, small voice" that is the actual author.

Anyway, one of the cool things about blogging. Finding out about other people.

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The "Back Fence" Web

08:12 Sunday, 25 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.32°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 349

This morning I saw a little alert that I'd been "mentioned" on Mastodon. I checked, and Phil Nunnally had "tooted" (it still feels weird, hence the scare quotes) "That was a fun meetup today!" with a link to his blog.

I think this illustrates one of the differences, and advantages, of "traditional" blogs versus the social media silos. I replied on Mastodon, but it was just to acknowledge that I'd seen the toot, and subscribed to his RSS feed. The real reply is here, where I have some time and a different environment, and different cues to compose it.

In composing this post, the image of the human "energy farms" from The Matrix came to mind. That's kind of how I regard social media companies. And the "matrix" is the "content" of social media apps:

It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

The "content" that we keep making, to keep getting likes, to keep us coming back. "Reality" is a hall of mirrors, funhouse mirrors at that.

There is no urgency to blogging. There can be a rhythm, a pace, and it can vary and often does. But if it feels "urgent," take a breath. Feelings pass.

The message may be urgent. Or not. Doesn't have to be urgent. Could just be a "cheese sandwich" post. But the point is, in general, I'm writing here from a place where I'm less reactive. Where I'm not looking for a reward, I'm looking to "see what I think," and share that.

And I'm not making anybody any money doing so. The only people whose paychecks may in some insignificant way depend on the marmot is the hosting company and Mark Bernstein. There is no financial dimension to this "conversation," because it's not a market. It's my backyard. And Phil's in his backyard, and we're just yakking over the fence.

We don't have to stay in the claustrophobic silos of endless provocation and outrage and churn to serve the interests and ideologies of the billionaire class.

We can return to the shire.

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On the Big Screen

07:18 Sunday, 25 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.8°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 780

The navy operates a lot of complicated, expensive machinery. If you don't do it right, things can break or people can get hurt. I think the idea originated in Rickover's nuclear power program. They came up with an "operational sequencing system" to bring a reactor online and operate it safely.

It was later used in conventional engineering plants with 1200 psi steam, which can kill you pretty dead. It was personnel safety that drove the adoption in the conventional (fossil fuel) surface navy. It was later adopted for combat systems, as they became more integrated and automated. The intent is to ensure that everything that needs to be done is done in the proper order. It's part of the navy's culture now.

So I exercised MOSS this morning, the "marmot operational sequencing system." Sounds complicated, but it's not really. It's necessary, I think, to keep iCloud from screwing me up.

I turned on "Close windows when quitting an application" in the Windows pane of the Desktop and Dock Settings of System Settings. I trust this informs iCloud that a document isn't currently open in an app anywhere (if you do this on all machines logged into iCloud), so it should be in a "closed" state (probably not the correct technical term) in iCloud Documents.

I believe that setting should also have the effect of not having an app open all the windows that were open when it was last quit, since they all should have been closed. But I'm not sure about that, so that's another risk I address in this sequence.

So I quit Tinderbox, Automator, Script Debugger and Whisk on the MBP, which closed all their windows.

Over here on the iMac, I didn't launch Tinderbox from the Dock, where it has a permanent presence. Instead, I double-clicked the marmot from the Documents folder in iCloud. Presumably, this downloaded the latest version, which had been closed on the MBP.

It was interesting, because the "Date Modified" time in Finder was "Today 00:34," and I'd been in bed for more than a couple of hours by then, and the MBP was closed and presumably sleeping too.

And now here I am, on the big screen.

I think what used to happen, before I was this careful, was that I'd quit Tinderbox on either the iMac of the MBP, thinking that I couldn't have the marmot open on two different instances of Tinderbox on two different machines without iCloud getting confused.

But since I didn't "Close all windows when quitting applications," I'd launch Tinderbox on whichever machine I was switching to, and it'd load a locally stored version. (All versions are only stored locally.) That version would be out of sync with the iCloud document, but since the document contains code that runs in Tinderbox, as soon as it launches, it updates the "Modified" state with a later time than the one in iCloud, that becomes the canonical version that iCloud happily uses to replace the one in iCloud, and data is lost and no "version" or Time Machine backup is going to restore it.

I don't know what would happen if I didn't "Close all windows when quitting" and then double-clicked on an iCloud document causing Tinderbox to launch, and it tried to re-open all the windows (documents) that were open when it last quit. Would the user be alerted to a conflict? I'm not going to try and find out.

I have no idea if that's what actually happens, it's just a guess. I can't imagine that apps on launch query iCloud to see if the modified date of a locally stored version is earlier than the modified date in iCloud and download the latest version. I don't think iCloud sends a signal to a launching app that, "New shit has come to light, man," in the parlance of our times. (It makes sense if you're an Urban Achiever.)

But I think this will allow me to switch between machines without losing data. I have recreated posts from the html export data before, but that's a bit of a pain. I know I let a couple of posts just disappear a few times,"deathless prose" notwithstanding.

Anyway, it's nice to be back on the big screen. I can blog without my glasses on the iMac. The screen is too far away on the MBP, especially in the recliner! But it's nice to know I could take the marmot outside if I wanted to, or take it on the road, without having to futz with the thumb drive. That poses its own issues, copying files back and forth, not losing the little thumb drive, etc.

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About Face

14:13 Saturday, 24 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.34°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 31% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 174

Well, it wasn't a long walk. I noticed the cars lining the road and folks gathering in a driveway. I saw my neighbor Tracy and asked, "Another party I wasn't invited to?" (Facetiously.)

Not a party. Kind of a wake for a neighbor who'd recently passed. Her daughter was here from Oregon and wanted to have a get-together. I barely knew the woman, having met her only once.

So I turned around and went home. At least she has a lovely day for it.

Here's the kind of blog post I enjoy. My daughter has a fear of flying, though I don't think it's as intense as James'. But dig this:

Thought cannot fix thought. This was my magnificent revelation at 35,000 feet, which I now realize is the point of everything from Zen to stoicism to the power of now. But I need to learn my lessons the hard way.

That's what blogging's about. Or should be, anyway.

You too have a complicated interior life that deserves to be explored and shared.

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After Action

13:43 Saturday, 24 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.09°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 31% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 382

The meetup went really well I thought. I saw James Fallows in the audience briefly. I guess he didn't stick around though, alas.

There were some good questions, and a couple of them actually dealt with issues I wrote about in a previous post today, so I'm glad I gave that some thought on the walk this morning.

Jack was dazzling with his facility with Tinderbox. I'm going to be picking his brain going forward.

The one photo demo I thought I had sorted yesterday failed again. I'll be working on that too.

I did miss the iMac's 27" screen. The Zoom interface takes up a lot of real estate when you're sharing your screen, which entails a certain amount of fumbling around moving windows and so on.

There are pretty fair number of details you kind of have to get tied down to begin blogging with Tinderbox; but they're fairly comprehensible and once you have them set up, it's pretty much just a turnkey operation after that.

Someone asked if I know if anyone's reading the marmot. Well, I do. I don't know how many or how often, but I do know it shows up in folks' RSS feeds. I see mentions from time to time, I get occasional feedback on Mastodon.

But that's not really the point. I don't write the marmot to get attention. I write the marmot to "see what I think." I know it has to compete with a million other things for others' attention, and that can be a pretty steep barrier. But it doesn't matter if I don't need to get over it, if I don't need what's on the other side.

Those are the kinds of blogs I enjoy reading. You can smell someone promoting their "personal brand" from a mile away. I just want to know how my neighbors are doing. What's going on in their neck of the woods.

I was glad to see Loren Webster posting again. I had made a mental note to mention Loren in the meetup, but I remembered that after the meeting. Loren's 83 and still blogging, and he goes back to the early days, in the very early 00s, maybe before.

Anyway, it's a beautiful day out there. Think I'm going to go take another walk.

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BWT: Practice

11:05 Saturday, 24 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.78°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 43% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 16

We're an hour away from the meetup, so I'm still screwing around with this thing. Heh.

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BWT: Notes to Myself

08:55 Saturday, 24 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.43°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 930

Today is the Blogging With Tinderbox meetup, so that's foremost on my mind this morning. I don't want to embarrass myself or bore my audience. Fortunately, Jack will be there too, and Mark Bernstein and Michael Becker, so there's little chance for any "dead air." (How long before no one remembers what "dead air" refers to? Soon, I guess.)

Anyway, I wanted to jot down some things I thought about on my walk this morning.

I genuinely do want to encourage more people to blog, and I'm only half-kidding when I say "You too have a complicated interior life that deserves to be explored and shared." Because it's true.

But I also wanted to make sure I didn't forget this, or "remember it later" than might be useful.

A personal blog, that consists of little more than static html files is perhaps the best way to undertake such an exploration. No lines of javascript that measure "engagement," how many page views you got, no "likes." That stuff will steal your soul.

I got started blogging pretty much the same way I got into personal computing. I could see my words on a screen! In this case, the screen was a window on something called "the worldwide web." My early stuff was link-blogging to science and technology pieces in the news, with some commentary.

As my marriage fell apart, and I got into therapy, it became a much more introspective vehicle. But not to the exclusion of everything else.

Mark Bernstein offered some early advice for bloggers, something along the lines of "cultivate good enemies." It affords the opportunity to for an energetic exchange, a lively narrative. For much of my blogging "career" my "enemies" were the Cluetrain crowd, the internet triumphalists, the guys (and they were almost exclusively (now) old white guys, who asserted without evidence that "this changes everything!" Presumably for the better.

Some things just grated me to the point of being offended. "Markets are conversations," a pernicious construction and a misapprehension of both. It conflates the commercial and the social and thereby established a business model that the leaders of which businesses are routinely called to testify before Congress. It was coined by a nice guy, Doc Searls, who was, naturally, a marketer.

Then there was Dave Weinberger and his assertion that "networks subvert hierarchy," and "everything is miscellaneous." Neither of which is true, and believing things that aren't true isn't helpful for anyone except the guy selling the book. Anther of his one-off aphorisms about the web and blogging in particular was "We're writing ourselves into existence."

Bullshit. Existence precedes narrative. All narratives are artifacts. Works of fiction. The inner voice is an unreliable narrator.

We weren't writing ourselves into existence, we were painting ourselves into corners.

Especially in "social media." The "conversation" that has been monetized by making us the product.

Blogs, especially quiet little, static html blogs subvert that.

It wasn't long after the first flourishing of the "blogosphere" before someone invented Technorati, an early effort to profit from the work of others, to monetize the conversations taking place in the blogosphere. Before that, Dave Winer hosted a blogging service called editthispage.com, which saw a pretty substantial uptake. I started out there. But it wasn't long before Dave had a page the showed how many "hits" each blog received every day.

As humans, social animals, we're very sensitive to rank, to popularity. These indicators aren't helpful in a social context. In a commercial one, they're gold.

Consider how one might go about training an animal. One popular method, because it works, is to ignore the behavior you don't want and reward the behavior you do want.

Same thing with "social media."

We post something on Facebook or Twitter, it gets a few likes. We post something else, it gets nothing. We post something else, it gets a lot of likes. We get a dopamine rush. We try to post something like that again. Pictures always get likes. Text, not so much. So everything devolved down into "memes," pics with snarky text. (I generalize here, but I hope you get the point.)

I found this happening to me on Twitter. At the end, I had a little over a thousand followers. Most of them were probably bots. But I found that I could get more likes and replies and re-tweets from a certain kind of mean and snarky post, so I found myself writing more mean and snarky tweets! Toward the end, I didn't much care for who it seemed I was.

So the combination of Twitter becoming a platform for fascists, and its corrosive effect on my self-perception compelled me to "delete my account."

Sure, I'm mean and snarky here from time to time, but I don't do it as an unconscious, involuntary conditioned behavior. It's not reward-seeking in terms of external rewards. It's the kind of writing that entertains me, not some audience whose approval I crave.

I think static html blogs facilitate a more humane online conversation. There's enough friction that we don't get the reflexive toxic reply or ego-boost. Posts never "go viral," at least not the way they do on social media platforms.

We're not painting ourselves into corners, finding that we have to maintain a certain kind of online persona in order to keep the ad rates up. We don't get distorted perceptions of ourselves in the funhouse mirror of social media.

I would genuinely like to see more people blog.

Tinderbox can help you do that with simple, static html.

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Twilight on the Intracoastal Waterway

15:18 Friday, 23 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.2°F Pressure: 1001hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 112

Sunset behind trees on the west side of the Intracoastal waterway

Sorta kinda works.

The problem right now is that the folder the image is moved to is hard-coded in the Automator action. I started futzing with Hazel and then went back to Automator. The AppleScript it ran was just to set the file path for the Images folder by constructing it with the current year from the computer's clock.

If I just select the folder as I'm building the Automator action, there's no problem with it being in iCloud.

I'll figure it out later. For now, it works well enough to demo if I need to tomorrow.

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14:51 Friday, 23 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.04°F Pressure: 1001hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 171

Okay, the basic export and sync work. Huzzah! I had to delete my "favorite" sync setup in Forklift 4, because I've moved the files into Documents. The fact that they're in iCloud didn't seem to bother it.

I may abandon the AppleScript piece of the Automator app and see if I can accomplish the same thing with Hazel.

In other Apple frustrations, I thought I set up Apple Music to store my library on the SSD in the MBP. By which I mean, I thought it would go ahead and download all my music. It hasn't, so I spent some number of frustrating and wasted minutes looking for a command somewhere to tell Music to download all my music, which doesn't seem to exist. So I've just been tapping on nearly invisible down arrows on images of Albums.

I don't know why anyone would love Apple anymore. They're just another greedy corporation that doesn't really care about the people using their products.

Now to futz about with Hazel. Wish me luck.

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Let's See If This Works...

14:32 Friday, 23 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.23°F Pressure: 1001hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 13mph
Words: 378

Test post from the 14" M3 MBP. I already know I have a problem with my Automator application that handles the photo export.

I decided to try something different in order to make the switch between the iMac and the MBP easier. I set applications to close windows when quitting. I'm using iCloud for my Documents folder on both the iMac and MBP. The iMac has "Optimize Storage" turned on, since it only has a 1TB SSD. The MBP has a 2TB SSD, so I'm not turning that on.

Prior to this, I'd had the Marmot TBX located outside of Documents on the iMac, along with the Nice Marmot Exports folder (which gets sync'ed to the server). These folders were automatically sync'ed to a 64GB thumb drive (far larger than necessary). The idea was I'd just pull the thumb drive and plug it into the MBP and then mirror the same setup here.

Then I thought I'd just try and used Documents in iCloud as it's kind of intended to be used.

So I got all my scripts and automation set up over here and tried to post a photo from Photos to the marmot. The Photos to TBX part works, but the actual image export to the Images folder in the 2024 archive failed, because the file path is obviously different now that I'm using iCloud instead of a dedicated folder outside of Documents.

I've been futzing with trying to get that portion of the Automator application working. It requires running a little AppleScript that moves the image from the one place that you can use Automator to export from Photos to (a new folder each time in your Pictures folder in your User directory).

Apparently there's some secret incantation to get AppleScript to talk to a Documents folder in iCloud.

Why can't anything be easy? Isn't it Apple's job to simply abstract all these details away? Shouldn't a folder just be a folder, whether it's in iCloud or on my SSD? One of the reasons why I sometimes don't enjoy trying to automate things, "program" my computer.

Anyway, I'm taking a break from scratching my head about that and this is to just see if the vanilla export and sync works.

Keep your fingers crossed. 🤞

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Dave the Repair Guy

14:54 Thursday, 22 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.78°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 42% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 694

Jack's worried he hasn't prepared adequately for the meetup on Saturday. He shouldn't, it's more a conversation than a tutorial. "Why to," rather than "how to." We'll offer some of our experiences on how to, but mostly it's about why Tinderbox makes for a great blogging platform.

I think Jack's experience with other platforms especially complements the discussion. I know nothing about so many of the other platforms and applications I read about, but it'll be great to give the audience some different perspectives.

I, myself, feel a bit delinquent. I've run out of gas a bit on new marmot features. I mentioned that I'd bumped into the past president of the photography club, and he'd invited me to come to a meeting. Well, that was yesterday afternoon and I did go. It's a small group, but I enjoyed the presentation and they seem to have some interesting activities. They have a monthly theme and next month's is storytelling, images that, uh, tell a story. You don't have to take them during the month, you can pull from your library. This month's was motion, and there was a presentation of the submissions depicting motion.

And I spent this afternoon, so far, tweaking the 14" M3 MBP so I'll have all the apps I need up and running for the meetup. For some reason, I can't seem to share my screen from the iMac. I am able to do it from the MBP, so that's what I'll be using. I had to enter a bunch of registration codes, buy a couple of licenses and so on.

I have an idea I'm going to test either today or tomorrow getting the marmot up and running on the MBP, with the Photos script installed. Once I verify I can post from the MBP, I'll spend some time configuring windows and tabs so I can illustrate the various activities smoothly. I shouldn't have too much anxiety Friday night.

Mitzi tried calling a repair guy for the fridge. Earliest they could get here is Saturday, and that's problematic from a food storage point of view, to say nothing of me blathering on about Tinderbox on a zoom call while someone's horsing the fridge about.

So I said, "Let me try something," to Mitzi. I went out to the circuit breaker panel and cycled power to the fridge.

It's working now.

I suspect, because we'd blocked some of the vents in the fridge (too much food with a house guest, I guess), the machine was working too hard and perhaps the logic got fouled up. Maybe it was trying to protect the compressor or something. There are no error codes on the front panel. So I figured there was nothing to lose just rebooting the thing.

Got a PO (power outage?) alert on the front panel. Acknowledged it. Set it to Max Cool and let it do its thing. All is well now. Ice is being made. It would have been $125 for the tech to show up and "diagnose" the issue.

I was a hero.

Funny story. The other day, Mitzi was mopping the floor and she came by the cave to tell me we were almost out of floor cleaner (it's a Bissell power mop of some kind), and asked me to order some more. I rogered up for it.

So she's mopping the floor again yesterday and I decided I'd better order that detergent. I ordered some lens pens and other stuff as well. This morning, Amazon shows up and drops off the package. I tell her, "Your soap is here," and she sees the lens pens in the box. She says something like, "Wow, I've never seen Amazon do that before."

I'm like, "What? Put two products in a box? They'll put as many as they can fit in one."

She says, "No, put my order in with your order."

"But, this is my order. You said to order detergent, I ordered detergent."

"I ordered detergent! I figured you'd forgotten."

"Honey, I never forget. I just remember later sometimes."

Which Mitzi and her sister thought was hysterical.

I'm here all week.

Her detergent just arrived, btw.

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Returning to Normal

07:00 Thursday, 22 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 40.78°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
Words: 166

My sister-in-law is recovering nicely from her fractured pelvis. Her comfort and mobility have improved such that she ventured to sleep in the guest room last night to allow me to, "Return to your marital bed." That cracked me up.

She's a New Yorker, having an apartment on Central Park West. There's always a bit of discussion about what movie to watch, and I sometimes leave them to their own choices as my taste in movies often doesn't align with theirs. I was happy to discover I actually had a movie she hadn't seen, 1990's Quick Change, starring Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid and Jason Robards, and appearances by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub (hysterical).

The uncredited antagonist of the film is New York City.

It's a piece of fluff, and mostly a star turn for Murray who essentially plays himself. But it's funny and diverting. She enjoyed it.

In other news, the refrigerator appears to be on the blink.

Le sigh.

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Meta: Blogging en Français

06:41 Thursday, 22 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 42.58°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 167

Built-in browser translation services make blogging accessible internationally. Here's some advice from Belgium:

I am very often asked for advice to start blogging. The most important thing I give is always to blog for yourself. Not to think about what you think that could please your audience, but to publish. To publish what you have yourself in your guts.

I can relate to this entire post (or "billet"). I do most of my blogging first thing in the morning. I'm less inclined to over-think things, more inclined to write what's on my mind.

In the marmot's archives are lean years where I didn't blog very much. That's because I was on Twitter, or Facebook or some other platform. Those words are, if not "gone," no longer accessible on the web. Not that they deserved to be considered "deathless prose" by any means.

Having your own blog, keeping it simple, and not focusing on metrics are the keys to happiness, if not necessarily "success" in blogging.

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Something Good

05:52 Thursday, 22 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 43.65°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 0mph
Words: 457

Jacksonville, Florida is the largest city near me. As a "consolidated government," it's all of Duval county, which is only a few miles from here. But it's 35 to 40 minutes to downtown, which is true for pretty much anyplace from Nocatee. ("30 minutes from anyplace you'd actually really rather be.")

The city has a rich history, and it straddles the wide and lazy St Johns River. It has a lot of things going for it that should make it one of the premiere cities in Florida, even the nation.

But it's saddled with an insular, self-interested, selfish ruling class that keeps it perpetually mired in mediocrity.

The status quo was upset recently when an inspiring local figure, a true "daughter of Jacksonville," became mayor, Democrat Donna Deegan. She's burdened by a super-majority Republican city council; and it's pretty clear that a majority of its members believe their highest priority is to ensure she isn't too successful. They don't want folks to get the wrong idea about who runs this town.

Donna's a bright spot in an otherwise depressing story. The good news is, she's a brilliant communicator and can speak truth to power. More often than not, while the "good ol' boys" might slow her down, they'll be embarrassing themselves in the process. Not that they care. They're shameless in that regard. Or oblivious.

Could be both.

It's probably both.

Anyway, I read this today, and it's another example of the wonderful history of Jacksonville. To be sure, there's a lot of history here that isn't so wonderful, as is the case in all of the former Confederacy. But there are bright spots that deserve to be better known. If you like baseball, or Hank Aaron, this is one of them.

Now, I think I have to qualify this, because we live in this time when people are quick to find fault with anything, no matter how well-intentioned. (Many members of Jacksonville City Council are decidedly not well-intentioned; and, if anything, people are too slow to find fault with their faithless, feckless presence. I digress.) Yes, this story is about the white manager, Ben Geraghty, more so than it is about Hank Aaron. And maybe people think we shouldn't be elevating white people during Black History Month.

But I think there's something inspiring about Ben Geraghty's story. Something that shines more brightly in February. Shines more brightly in a state where more than a generation of one-party "conservative" rule, and an ambitious, autocratic governor have emboldened racists and bigots to feel as though their moment has returned.

So I was happy to read something good this morning, as the legislature is in session and there's always something bad to read about.

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BWT: Correction

08:21 Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.54°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 287

Mitzi dropped by the Command Cave as I was writing the previous post and mentioned she was getting ready to clean the kitchen floor, and I hadn't had breakfast yet! So I begged her indulgence to finish the post and make myself a quick breakfast, which she granted.

Anyway, more than the usual number of errors in the previous post. I think I've fixed most of them. But one error was different.

I mentioned that I'd been creating "year" containers since 2013. That's not the case. Actually, the marmot was just a fairly flat list of only month containers. It was getting pretty long and unwieldy.

At some point, and since I don't maintain a "change log" here I can't put my finger on exactly when yet, I decided reorganize the basic structure of the marmot into an Archive that contained Years, which contained each month's posts for a given month. In the process, I managed to lose a lot of photos, since I had only one Images folder for the whole blog. Now each year has an Images folder.

But the gist is correct. I used to just manually copy and paste and then edit all the code that goes into a monthly container, along with the other attributes that are necessary for export. Nearly all of that is automated now, and I'm working on getting all of it automated. Creating the list of archived pages in the Archives (plural) page is a manual effort right now. I'd like to automate that.

Anyway, apologies for the incomprehensible text if you happened along before I fixed it. (If micro.blog grabbed the RSS feed before I updated, it's likely all still in that post.)

Time to walk.

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BWT: If I Can Do It

06:11 Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 44.74°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 1437

One of the reservations the Tinderbox-curious sometimes express is that it looks complicated, or intimidating. That is often the way things that are unfamiliar appear. And we have a tendency to impose expectations on something when we decide what that something unfamiliar might be, and then get upset when it doesn't match those expectations.

Tinderbox is pretty unique, but it has some features that may make it appear to be one thing or another, when it's usually both, or neither. So it's probably best to just kind of let go of your expectations and explore the app and ignore the feelings that come up when your "monkey-brain" keeps insisting, "Oh! It's an outliner," or "Oh! It's a mind-map!" Just let it go and keep exploring.

The marketing slogan is that it's "The tool for notes," and we all think we know what a "note" is.

Well, I hope I'm not adding to the confusion, but it's more like, "The tool for nodes." A note is the fundamental unit of Tinderbox, and it has a flexible facility for adding attributes to a note. Even the text of the note is an attribute, and it's called $Text.

Agents are notes that can find and collect other notes, based on a query regarding attributes. The marmot's home page is created by an Agent that collects all the posts I write today, because the Agent compares today's date with the $PublicationDate of the post. It's an ephemeral construct. All the posts I write this month really live in a container note (node), called February 2024, which, while not inert, is nevertheless fixed in terms of its location in the hierarchy, which happens to be a chronological structure in the context of a blog, and all it does is look after its children.

Agents are fundamentally different than a "note," in that their essence is to work with other notes. It doesn't have children of its own, but it does gather other notes' children for whatever the author's purposes may be. In my case, to have the day's posts on the most recent day I've blogged, appear as the home page at the marmot.

That's why I like to think of the fundamental unit as a "node." A node is "a point at which lines or pathways intersect or branch; a central or connecting point." Since each note has a location, be it in a map or in a hierarchy of notes, in relation to other notes, and that location is merely another attribute, it maybe helpful to think of the fundamental unit as a "node," and perhaps that will help reduce the burden of expectations for a "notes app."

"February 2024" is merely a container in the Tinderbox document (TBX) that is the marmot. It is a child of the container "2024," which is in turn a child of the container "Archive." All these containers have a job to perform, and it involves having "children" and looking after them to see that they have all the "attributes" necessary to be productive elements of the marmot (or society).

"Archive" is the senior member of the clan. It mostly sits there, quietly, observing its children. But it does know the time. Specifically, the year. In an attribute called an "Edict" is a bit of "Action code," that looks at today's year, and then looks at its children and makes sure there's a child called 2024. If there is, it just sits and waits.

At some moment, early on the 1st of January 2024, Archive noticed that there wasn't a child called "2024," so it created one. Archive only creates one "kind" of child, a container whose name is the current year. It creates that specific kind of container from a "Prototype." A Prototype is a note with a given set of attributes, among which is the Action code that allows it to perform its function with its children.

So, Archive begat 2024. 2024 opened its eyes, noted the date and discovered that it had no children! In an Edict in the year prototype (called "p_Year" in the marmot), is the code that tells a newborn year to be fruitful and multiply. The Edict says that if you have no child named (current month) 2024, then create one! In another attribute within 2024, inherited from p_Year, is a bit of code in an attribute called "OnAdd." The Edict attribute of note 2024 created January 2024, the OnAdd attribute assigned its prototype, "p_Month."

Archive begat 2024, 2024 begat January 2024, and February 2024 and in 8 days will create March 2024.

I felt very clever when I built this into the marmot late last year.

For every year prior to 2024, since 2013, at the end of the year I manually created a new year container, then also manually created a new month container, and manually copied and pasted all the code necessary for a month container's OnAdd action, also manually editing that code to reflect the current month and year. This sometimes resulted in typographical errors that, temporarily, "broke" the marmot.

Well, computers don't make typographical errors. So I learned how to tell Tinderbox to do all that infrastructure stuff.

Computers do exactly what you tell them to do, so imagine my distress when 2023 went on creating January 2024 as one of its children! "You're only supposed to have twelve! At the most!"

So I had to look at the code in the p_Year Edict and see why it was doing 2024's job. 2024 was doing fine at the time, but it would have acted just like 2023 at the end of the year.

Well, p_Year knows the date, and it knows to look at its children and make sure it has one for the current month. On January 1, 2024, 2023 looked at its children and noticed it was missing a January 2024! So it created one. Argh!

At first I thought I had to figure out some way to tell it to stop after 12 months. Notes can count their children.

Then I had another thought. I'd make having children conditional. An "if" statement was necessary. Something that said if your name is 2023, then don't make any children with 2024 in the name. So that was a bit of a head-scratcher, since I don't do this often.

I knew I had to wrap the code in the Edict in a set of curly braces so that it would only fire if the conditional were true. Or false. Something. So what would my conditional statement be? My default setting is to look at note names, but the $Name is just one of many attributes, and I was dealing with dates anyway, not names.

A note knows when it was created. It's automatically populated in the $Created attribute. And a note knows what date and time it is at every moment. So I figured I had to write a statement that said something like "If today's year is not equal to the year you were created, then don't create any children."

This was the wrong approach, but I learned something fumbling around with it. The "equals" value comparison operator is "==", to set an attribute value you use "=". So I figured "not equals" as a comparison would be "!==" where "!" negates the equality comparison.

Well, no. That "doesn't equal" comparison operator is really "!=". Details matter.

Anyway, it dawned on me that I was making it too complicated. I only wanted the Edict to fire if the current year was the same as the year it was created.

That looks like this:

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

Then there's the existing code, now wrapped in curly braces:



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



So the 2023 year container knows it's 2024. It knows it was created in 2023. The comparison fails, so it doesn't carry out the rest of the code.

Now, I can't tell you, step by step, how I figured all this out. I tried, but there was a fair amount of trial and error, some frustration, and a walk in all this. But I did figure it out. Maybe that's a product of 10,000 hours of futzing.

I am struggling with trying to figure out an "On this day..." Agent. But I'll noodle around with it some more, and if I can't figure it out, I'll ask at the forum.

Anyway, this is just a long way of saying, "If I can figure this stuff out, you can too."

I mean, I went to a trade school, so...

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BWT: 10,000 Hours of Futzing

08:04 Tuesday, 20 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 44.46°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 7.31mph
Words: 1098

I had another blog post in mind, but I couldn't find the quote I was looking for, so this will do.

Once again, Jack Baty provides the inspiration. Perhaps because this upcoming meetup is on the top of my mental stack for the moment. Not to worry, we're not going to exhaust the set of possible things to talk about during the meetup.

They all depend on a pile of custom templates, scripts, and sloppily-documented setup. They work, but what if they don't? I'm not always in the mood for fixing things that break when I touch them wrong.

This resonated with me, because I have two ideas I want to implement in the marmot, and I've been finding ways to not do it because I'm not looking forward to the futzing part. And that feeling of "not looking forward," is part of a deeper feeling that is one of, if not "failure," then perhaps just "inadequacy."

Now, it'd be easy to get the wrong idea. I love Tinderbox, and I love blogging, ergo I love blogging with Tinderbox. But there is the attraction of the seemingly limitless toolset at my disposal within the app. And I should be able to figure this stuff out. But it does take a certain kind of mental energy to summon the courage to "break stuff."

And I've broken the marmot before.

"I've always wanted to learn to play the piano."

No, in fact, you didn't. If you did, you'd have done so. These superficial, unfulfilled desires seem to be a part of our "imagined" self.

Things that you genuinely want to do are the things that you spend your time on. I've probably spent more than 10,000 hours taking pictures. I can't find it now, but there was this curve that described the interior experience many people have when undertaking a new thing. They learn a bunch of new stuff early on and are filled with a profound sense of competence and confidence, which they are all too eager to share with anyone who'll listen.

If they stick with the thing, they eventually learn that they don't know nearly what they thought they knew, and that their practice of the thing is really not very good.

This is the valley of depression. "I suck."

But if they stick with it, the gradually learn more and get better and if they're really committed, 10,000 hours later, they don't suck.

I don't call myself a photographer because I feel as though that establishes a set of expectations in someone that I probably can't, or don't want to, meet. I ran into a neighbor the other day who was the past president of the photography club. We chatted for a while and I offered this disclaimer when I gave him the link to my flickr account. He texted me back later and kindly said, "I'd say you are a Photographer." Nice of him to say so, but the nature of ignorance is that we don't know what we don't know, and what I don't know about photography could fill volumes.

That said, I'm happy to think that sometimes I don't suck.

I've been fascinated by computers, and by programming, since the Apple II. I had a bad experience at the Naval Academy in a freshman course, "Calculus With Computers." Two five-hour D's will do that to you. But ever since the advent of personal computing, I've had this attraction to computing or programming. But I suck at it. It's hard.

Part of the problem with mastering it has been the dynamic nature of the field. If we were all still using Apple IIs, I'd probably be a whiz. The principles are all the same, mostly. But the implementations differ, and in programming, details matter. And I'm not very good at mastering details.

When I've broken the marmot, it's often because of a detail. Sometimes it was because I fundamentally misunderstood something, but mostly it's a detail. Especially in html, but often in action code and export code.

Now, I know that the way to master those details is to just work with them a lot. Break the marmot and fix it, over and over again. And there are plenty of resources for help. I have emailed Mark Bernstein many times, and more than once sent him either the marmot or its predecessor, Groundhog Day, and had him resuscitate it. So there should be little fear in undertaking an effort like this.

But there's this little feeling of failure, or inadequacy, when it breaks or doesn't work the way I thought it would. That's a personal problem. And part of the energy budget must go to overcoming this internal friction or inertia. (Pick an analogy already, Rogers!)

But, I want to kind of illustrate or demonstrate how wonderful Tinderbox is for creating and maintain a weblog, so I guess I'm just going to have to go ahead and break stuff. I know there are people who will help me put it back together. And if I do this often enough, maybe I'll master those details one day and it'll be less like futzing and more like dancing.

I should probably stop there, but I'll make another comparison to photography. It's not the camera, it's the person behind the camera. Gear-heads love the artifact. I've been shooting with one brand of camera for 16 years, and that's because details matter. And different camera manufacturers implement those details in different ways. It's easier to stay within one brand of camera so you can pay attention to what you're seeing instead of operating the camera.

But if you just like to play with cameras, that's cool. No judgment from me. But I'm not sure it's photography. Photography may provide the context, or the justification; but the reward isn't the image, it's playing with the gear. And that's fine too. People experience joy in many different ways, and tools offer tactile experiences, visual appeal, novel features that can offer joy in their discovery. I get that. There's a reason I own an absurd number of cameras, all but two of which are from Olympus or its successor OM Digital Solutions. I like playing with the gear too.

But I like taking pictures more.

And I guess I'd say I like blogging more than I like playing with Tinderbox. But blogging gives me the reason to play with Tinderbox too. If I can master Tinderbox through blogging, then maybe I'll use Tinderbox for more than just blogging. A virtuous cycle.

Anyway, Blogging With Tinderbox. Check it out.

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Idle Hands And Something About a Blog...

06:46 Monday, 19 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 45.7°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 566

"You too have a complicated interior life that deserves to be explored and shared!"

I wrote that somewhere, apparently not here, in connection with the upcoming meetup. One of the things I enjoy about blogs is that it often gives a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings, the "interior life," of others. Here's a post from Jack Baty that illustrates what I'm writing about.

Now, I'm retired and nearly all of my time is my own. I seldom feel as though I have "too much," though I usually have nothing to do.

People say, nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day. Winnie-the-Pooh (A.A. Milne)

Here's another example from The Online Photographer.

It is possible to over-think things. But my experience has been that writing about these recursive ruminations often offers a way out of the labyrinth, if only temporarily.

We all have opinions, and there are (too) many outlets for sharing those. But by sharing some aspect of the way we experience our lives, I think, can be healing, while sharing opinions can be divisive. Now, it is risky. Especially if your personal interior experience isn't solidly in the middle of the Bell Curve. If you're not a cis-gendered, neurotypical member of the majority class, chances are pretty good that some people will feel as though your interior experience is wrong. It even happens to those comfortably on the middle-curve, but it's especially likely where those experiences may make a reader uncomfortable.

I would say it's worthwhile for anyone to blog about their life, but it can make you vulnerable, and it's definitely not for everyone.

The fact that blogs are kind of passé appeals to me. They are enjoying something of a renaissance, to be sure; but I don't think they'll ever become the kind of hot new medium that attracts ambitious attention-seekers, would-be influencers. To my mind, they're more like the "back fence" of this worldwide "neighborhood" on the web.

The days of creating a new InstaPundit, by way of a blog, are happily over.

Nowadays, it's more "just us chickens."

Not all blogs are "personal" of course. Many focus on hobbies, activities, issues and so on, often to the exclusion of anything personal. Those can be helpful and entertaining, but I enjoy the ones where people share something about themselves, along with their hobbies, activities, issues and so on.

James Reeves' Atlas Minor is a favorite of mine. The writing is sharp, the posts are brief, there's an atmosphere in them. Not all of them, but most of them. John P. Weiss is another. You can exercise your photography and writing skills while telling stories that made meaning in your life. That's John's blog.

I've never "met" anyone I read "IRL." (I get to use scare quotes because I'm old and past my cool kid sell-by date.) But I feel as though I know something about them. I know it's a curated, carefully edited version, but don't we all want to put our best face forward? I met Jack, virtually, for the first time getting ready for the meetup. He seemed just like he is in his blog, authentic.

So there's value in blogging. For the blogger and the reader. Risk too.

But we're all in this together, and none of us is getting out of here alive.

Thanks for dropping by.

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BWT: Responsive Developer

06:50 Saturday, 17 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.62°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 316

A week from today there will be a virtual Tinderbox meet-up (Note: Calendar times are Pacific Time.) where the topic of discussion will be "Blogging With Tinderbox." It won't be an in-the-weeds tutorial, though you will likely get many good ideas and some inspiration.

Preparing for that event, I made a Tinderbox outline of some of the topics we might discuss and one of them included bits of "friction" with Tinderbox as a blogging tool, and Mark Bernstein, developer of Tinderbox, Michael Becker, Jack Baty and I got together to discuss the session.

One of the bits of friction was creating a web link in a post. Well, Mark took that to heart and now I'm happy to report that that rough patch has been sanded down quite a bit.

If you're an adventurous sort, or like to witness the development of an app and the discussions and thoughts that go into it, you can buy a "backstage pass," and participate in another Discourse forum as new features are added, existing ones refined and beta releases offered to pass holders. That's how I know that this feature has been refined, I'm running a beta.

It's a double-edged sword, in many ways, for Mark to be such a responsive developer. Sometimes, in the fog of electronic communication and the confusion of misunderstanding, he can be subjected to some unreasonable demands. But he's a model of forbearance, and a surprising amount of the time he will add features to Tinderbox, or modify existing features, to meet the reasonable needs of users.

His accessibility in the forums and in the meetups is unique, in my experience, in the developer community. Perhaps I'm wrong. I don't get out much. But it adds a dimension to using Tinderbox that is absent, not to say "missing," from other apps, and one of the reasons I enjoy using Tinderbox.

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When Worlds Collide

06:43 Saturday, 17 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.62°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 37

Immanuel Velikovsky would have been pleased.

(When I read this, I was pleasantly surprised that I could recall Velikovsky's name. Not due to any particular admiration of Velikovsky. More my growing lack of faith in my memory.)

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TBPO: "Rights"

06:05 Saturday, 17 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.31°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 179

I got up this morning and this was the first thing I read in my RSS feed. Kevin Kelly is a "futurist," a "techno-optimist." I don't know much about him other than that. I like the "cool tools" blog thing, though that often stimulates my "I don't need this but I want it" response.

Anyway, I laughed and then I got a little mad about the post I linked to. Duty? To the system?


How about a "right" not to be born into a system that imposes "duties" to an unsustainable "system" that threatens more than serves humanity?

People have a duty to help one another, to be kind. They have a responsibility to do their best, as best they can see it.

Our "techno-optimist" masters are constructing a "reality" that is little more than a hall of mirrors.

It cannot last. KK's little missive about one's "duties" in this new "reality" is a telling indicator of its fragility and ultimate failure.

"Buckle up, Dorothy. Reality is about to go bye-bye."

We're all Alice now.

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iCloud is Tricky

05:30 Friday, 16 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.83°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
Words: 721

Setting up a new MacBook Pro with a 2TB internal drive has made me think again about iCloud drive. My 13" M1 MBP only had a 256GB internal SSD, so I used "Optimize storage," which was acceptable given internet access and adequate bandwidth. That doesn't sound like it should be a problem today, but a couple of vacation houses in the Finger Lakes proved to me that indeed, broadband access isn't everywhere.

On the 14" M3 MBP, I'm not using "Optimize storage," except for Photos. I haven't solved my excessive image problem and it seems the best I can do is to keep it from burgeoning ever faster. (High speed electronic shutters have proven a boon for the SSD industry, as has 4K video, I'm sure.) But I can keep all the files in my Documents folder stored locally and in iCloud Drive.

But working with the same document on two different computers can become problematic, at least in my experience.

Because I've been burned by this more than once, I've become very careful about how I work on the marmot between the iMac and the MBP (either one).

In Settings, there's a setting near the bottom in the Windows pane (heh). It says, "Close windows when quitting an application (the little toggle) When enabled, open documents and windows will not be restored when you re-open an application."

It seems to me that this is a very important switch. While it's really convenient to have the files you were working on re-open when you launch the app, I think this is where it gets tricky.

I'd work on the marmot on the iMac, then go somewhere and try and do some blogging from the MBP. Now, typically, Tinderbox is open when I close the MBP. The MBP just goes to sleep. If the battery dies because I haven't used it for a looong time, the state at time of sleep is stored in a snapshot and restored.

But now, that marmot file is out of date with the one in iCloud. I haven't done this in a while, and I'm disinclined to experiment with it again, though I could use some kind of test file, so my memory may be faulty. I think I'd be presented with some kind of alert that the files were out of sync, and I'd try to get the latest one from iCloud. I'd get that, but it'd be missing a post or two. It didn't have the most recent version, perhaps because that file was still open on the iMac, sleeping away at my desk.

I seldom "save" the marmot. In fact, these days, I have no idea how often you should use the "Save" command, since most files are saved automagically anyway. I don't know when iCloud gets the currently open file. I'm pretty confident that the MBP never complained that the file was open on another computer and therefore couldn't be opened locally.

Anyway, in fumbling around with a marmot minus a couple of posts, it would ultimately become the marmot in iCloud, "and hilarity ensues." (Some number of posts would have to be recreated from the exported html files.)

I'm sure this is all very murky. Suffice to say, I no longer rely on the marmot in iCloud. The file is still stored there, but I duplicate it on a 64GB thumb drive. When I'm going to take the marmot on the road, I "Quit" Tinderbox, which presumably automagically saves the latest version and uploads it to iCloud.

I've turned on that switch to "Close windows when quitting an application," so it won't restore the marmot from a locally saved "version" or "snapshot" on launch. I'll have to either double-click the marmot in Finder, or select "Open.." from the file menu, and get the most recent or current version from Documents in iCloud.

If I get a wonky version from iCloud, I'll have the current version on the thumb drive.

It's possible that I'm just becoming cognitively impaired in my incipient dotage, but I don't recall ever reading a clear and straightforward explanation about how all this stuff is supposed to work. If such an explanation doesn't exist, perhaps it's because it's not a "clear and straightforward" process.

It almost makes one pine for the days of floppy disks.

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Early Spring

08:57 Thursday, 15 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.66°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 118

Bluebird perched on a budding limb.

I've been getting the 14" M3 MBP set up, which has taken a bit longer than I expected. Another project today is to collect all the license and registration codes into one repository. Seems like a good job for Tinderbox.

I've been walking 3.25 miles each morning, and adding another walk in the evening. The nice thing about the evening walk is that the sun is on the opposite side. Birds are active in the early morning and early evening. In the morning, they often backlit; not so in the evening. They were relatively scarce yesterday, but I liked how this bluebird turned out.

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Sunrise 13 Feb 24

07:24 Tuesday, 13 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.31°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 101

Red sky illuminated by the rising sun over tht Tolomato River

I was sitting in the office, going over Medicare and Tricare EOBs, as one does, when I noticed my glass was empty. I went back to the kitchen for a refill and saw a red sky through the trees.

I skipped the beverage and threw a battery and memory card in the DJI mini 2. These things only last minutes. Got GPS lock pretty quick and managed to get aloft while the show was still underway.

It was pretty damn red.

"Sailor take warning," and all that.

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12:15 Monday, 12 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.33°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 277

Was anyone else troubled by the little infomercial about the NFL camp in Ghana, Africa? I kind of get that the brand wants to expand its global audience, but I have to wonder if it's looking for players?

From time to time I hear that moms are keeping their kids out of Pop Warner and middle and high school football programs. As problematic as the dream of professional sports is as a pathway for upward mobility and financial success is, awareness of the health risks has only grown. Transferring that "dream" of a career in professional sports to a part of the world where it may appear even more attractive, and where awareness of the health risks may not be the same, seems cynical and greedy to me. But maybe I'm not looking at it the right way?

The movie ended just in time for the half-time show, which we watched. I was pleased to see SF leading at halftime, but I knew it was the Chiefs so that didn't mean a lot. I watched the first few possessions of the second half and then switched to episode 2 of Mr. & Mrs. Smith on Prime. (Can't say I'm thrilled with the show, and I have to believe the premiere episode telegraphed the end of the series.) I didn't particularly care for episode 2, so I didn't move on to 3, and decided to check in on the game. Watched until the end of regulation play and went to bed. Figured Mahomes would pull it out again. I was hoping for the 'Niners to humble the Chiefs, but c'est la vie. I'm not a fan of KC.

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12:13 Monday, 12 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.42°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 52

The recliner is back in my office! (There was much rejoicing.)

Mitzi's sister is steadily improving, and she's able to comfortably get up from the couch on her own. My napping, book reading, game playing, device noodling perch of choice is back where it belongs.

I'm happy Judy is getting better too.

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Movies: American Fiction

12:04 Monday, 12 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.42°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 107

Watched American Fiction last night, in lieu of the Superb Owl event. Had to buy it as it wasn't available to rent yet. Mitzi's sister wanted to see it and we split the price.

Wonderful movie. I enjoy seeing Jeffrey Wright in pretty much everything. The rest of the cast was great as well. It's a very clever movie in a lot of ways, and a sharp stick in the eye to various groups, although it's delivered with more humor than hostility. And it's more thought-provoking than overtly provocative. I guess I should say that there's a lot of love in this movie, though few illusions.

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Fool: New MacBook Pro

13:37 Sunday, 11 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.33°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 58% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 393

I'm going to have to endure another brief period of self-loathing again.

I was browsing through Apple News and read something about 14" M3 MacBook Pros being up at the Apple Refurb store.

So I logged into the Veterans store for an additional discount and did some browsing around.

I bought a 13" M1 MBP back in November 2020. I mainly use it when we're away from home for more than a few days, or when I want to do something at home, but away from my office. Not a lot lately, as I didn't configure it beyond the base 256GB of storage and I often have to dangle an external drive off of it, and it's kind of a hassle. (First world problem of the privileged, I know.)

Well, I looked at a 24GB, 2TB M3 14" MBP and it came in at a hair under $2K. I figured that'd be relatively "future-proof" as a laptop. I'm not sure it could replace my 2019 iMac, but maybe it could. In any event, I closed all the tabs last night and figured I'd sleep on it.

I woke up thinking there are probably better things I could do with $2K. I often think I need to start a "prepper" shopping list. But I'm 66, and I live in a suburban wasteland. Who am I kidding? If things go south in a hurry, probably the best thing for me to do is die and get out of the way, rather than play "run, hide, fight." But who knows? Maybe that day won't come until I'm 86, which will make that a much easier proposition. And I could get hit by a meteor between now and then anyway.

One day at a time. Appreciate what I have now.

As something in the back of my mind knew I would, I went back to the store, and it should be here on Tuesday.

Probably not the best use of my money, and I hope I won't regret it, but I'm trying to be kinder to myself.

In other news, I got a nice thank you note yesterday from the Tidewater Wooden Boat School for a $525 donation I made late last year.

It's not all about me.

Mostly. But not all.

OBTW: 80°F in February. I'd be alarmed if it wasn't so nice.

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BWT: Automation

07:16 Sunday, 11 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.48°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 924

BWT will refer to "blogging with Tinderbox."

I've got a "test article" that I use to try out certain things in Tinderbox before I try and incorporate them in the marmot. That's to make sure I understand what I'm doing, and avoid unintended consequences that might cause problems.

I've learned to do this through hard experience.

Over the past year or so, I've been slowly adding additional automation to the marmot. I try it out in the test article first, and that file is slowly beginning to become something of an example file for one way of maintaining a weblog with Tinderbox. There are innumerable different ways of maintaining a weblog with Tinderbox, the marmot and its test article are just one. By the time we get to the meet-up, I hope to have it pretty complete and able to share.

So what about automation? There are myriad details in publishing html formatted documents within a specific file structure that are organized, in large measure, chronologically. The simpler the structure, the fewer the details; but there will still be many. Getting Tinderbox to attend to those details reduces the chance for errors, reduces the amount of work in actually maintaining the weblog and therefore increases the chances of actually using it.

Automation requires a significant investment of time and effort once, but then repays that investment over time. The marmot's been running for 10 years now, much of that time with minimal automation (and frequent manual intervention when things went awry). Now I'm learning how to let Tinderbox do the things Tinderbox is good at, so I can spend my time figuring out the best ways to waste yours. (Just kidding.)

Blogging services, like Tumblr or Wordpress or others, have done most of that automation for you. If you want to learn javascript and php and SQL stuff, things that run on the server, you can program that automation yourself. The advantage of using Tinderbox is that it doesn't run on the server. It outputs static html files. They load quickly because they're mainly just text. They're more secure, because the server is just serving a file, not rendering it. Some people prefer that server-generated environment, because it offers a great deal of flexibility and features; but it does come with security risks in terms of taking over that collection of automation running on the server and having it do things, often nefarious things, you aren't paying for it to do. Plus, unless you understand all that code, you have no idea what else your service is doing with your data and your readers.

Tinderbox export templates can include things like javascript, or embed code from other web sites or services, but if you want to keep things fast and light, you don't need to do any of that.

So what sorts of automation does Tinderbox do in the marmot? Infrastructure things. It creates the "permalinks" that accompany each blog entry. When I add a post, it places it at the top of month because blogs are read in reverse chronological order. It counts the number of words (to a close approximation) so I know when I'm getting too verbose (I'm at 525). In the background, it's showing me a bunch of related posts I can refer to if I wish. As a "nice-to-have" kind of feature, there's a note that's querying a weather service for the local weather data, which is added to each post.

At a higher level, the marmot knows the date. When February ends, it'll create a new container for March's posts. That container will be created from a "prototype" month container, which has all the attributes and automation necessary for managing a month's posts. It'll give that container its export filename. At the highest level, when 2024 ends, it'll create a container for 2025 and the January 2025 container as well.

The "home" page just contains one day's posts. It's created automatically. If I don't post anything for a few days, it remains the same. But an "agent" collects the posts from "today" and places them in the Main Page (or "Home") container. (Some of the naming conventions in the marmot are over 20 years old.) A separate agent also gathers today's posts to generate the RSS feed. Some people maintain a huge number of posts in their RSS feed. I see that a lot when someone changes something on their blog and NetNewsWire will all of a sudden have thirty or forty posts on the "blogs" category and most of them will be from one blog going back a year or more. ("Mark all as read" is your friend.) The marmot's feed is ephemeral. Just the things I posted, on the last day I posted.

I've got one last piece of automation I need to figure out, and that's the "Archives" page. That's going to be an agent that gathers the $HTMLExporeFilename of every month as a list and renders them as links in the page. Right now, I do that manually, just adding the new month to the top of the list. But sometimes I'll forget for a couple of months. Tinderbox never forgets.

Basically, all I have to do is hit Enter to start a post. Pour in my deathless prose. Turn off the safety, "HTMLDontExport" boolean, and do File=>Export as HTML. Then I have to slide over to ForkLift and tell it to sync the marmot.

There's some fancy stuff I do to post photos, but that's for another day.

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Sunset 2/9/24

11:20 Saturday, 10 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.3°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 89

Sunset cloudscape reflected in a retention pond in a suburban landscape.

Looked like sunset was shaping up to be something nice last night. I walked across the street with the OM-5 waited to be amazed.

This is as long as I could wait. The gnats were out in force and drove me back to my house. Should've worn a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt. I can kind of tolerate them buzzing around my face, but they were all over my arms.

Still, it was pretty.

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10:46 Saturday, 10 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.54°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 16

Okay, did the troubleshooting thing with Hazel. No joy.

Quit Hazel.

Re-launched Hazel.



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08:10 Saturday, 10 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.9°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 172

Photo of my cat from some years back.

Kind of a test post to see what else is working, or not.

I had three rolls of 35mm film laying around here for quite some time. Took it in to be developed when I sold some camera gear to KEH. This is one of the shots. I'm not sure which camera this was. I had two Olympus Stylus point-and-shoots and a Minolta. I'm going to guess this is the Minolta, because I think it had a "close-up" setting.

Anyway, the shots were, for the most part, nothing. But I do like this one. Karma lived a long time. More than 18 years, I think. I think I did what was necessary in 2018, but I'm not sure. Her last few years weren't pleasant for her, and I probably should have been a bit more proactive. But she came into my life when I needed something to think about besides myself, and I loved her.

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One Step Up and Two Steps Back

07:30 Saturday, 10 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.63°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 0mph
Words: 401

One of my favorite Springsteen songs back in the days when, well, things weren't going so well. Anyway, I installed MacOS Sonoma 14.3.1 this morning to fix a text entry problem that Apple inflicted on everyone, and now Hazel isn't running.

I'm going to guess it's not an incompatibility introduced by the update, and something to do with a setting somewhere. Noodlesoft offers a troubleshooting guide, but I just wanted to post a pic and write something. Now I have to do troubleshooting. So, I'll put that aside for the moment and write a post without a pic.

How's that!

I'm beginning to notice an awareness of the looming peril creeping into places I wouldn't normally expect to find it. Obliquely, tentatively. It sparks something in me that I decided to think about a little bit during the prolonged period while my iMac did its OS update thing.

When I was a young elementary student, I was very average. Sometime after puberty I became "smart." Often, "the smartest kid in the class." And there are a whole set of behavioral rewards in a classroom environment for demonstrating how smart you are. (There are some decidedly unrewarding aspects as well. But let's not dwell on those.)

"See something, say something." Yeah, well, in the "country of the blind, the one-eyed man is"... not welcome. And it's never certain if that one eye is seeing clearly anyway. But the stimulus-response, conditioned reward reaction remains. But I'm a little wiser now, and it's a feeling and I know feelings pass.

But I do wonder what's going to happen as our situation becomes more apparent over time? I know there will be enormous efforts to forestall catastrophe. I think someone's going to propose building a fleet of Musk's Starships to launch solar power satellites. That'd be cool.

Won't work, but it'd be cool.

It's going to get crazy before it gets really bad.

But I keep coming back to acceptance. It's a terminal prognosis. Nobody gets out of here alive. "Everything that has a beginning has an end." About the best anyone can do is just... be kind.

It's not anyone's fault. It's an emergent outcome of a complex, non-linear dynamic system, of which human behavior, human nature, is an inextricable piece. We aren't that smart. We definitely aren't that wise. We couldn't help it.

We knew.

But we couldn't help it.

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Blogging With Tinderbox

06:28 Friday, 9 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.27°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 687

There's going to be a Tinderbox zoom meetup on the 24th to discuss "blogging with Tinderbox."

To reduce the chances of us looking dumb, the responsible parties are going to get together on zoom today to kind of go over the agenda.

I think it's going to be an interesting meet-up on the 24th, and if you're interested in either blogging or Tinderbox, you should join it. It's open to anyone, you don't have to be a Tinderbox user or a blogger. It can get kind of wonky over 90 minutes, but we'll try to keep it fairly non-technical.

Preparing for today's get-together has made me think more about Tinderbox (and blogging) at a broader level than I have in a long time. I often think about it in immediate, technical terms if something goes awry, or I want to try something new. But this has made me look at all the overall "production process," or, as the cool kids call it, "workflow."

I don't think of myself as a "creator," or a "writer," just as I don't think of myself as a "photographer." To me, those appellations refer to people with perhaps a different intent, or maybe just greater confidence. But we all "make stuff." And there is some reward in the effort.

Part of that reward, I think, is in using the tools. People become passionate about their tools. I use Olympus, now OM Digital Solutions, or OM System (I really don't know what to call the corporate brand) cameras. They offer advantages to me as a "guy who takes pictures," and I wouldn't enjoy taking pictures as much if I had to learn how to use a different camera.

Some people like learning how to use a different camera. The camera is the object, perhaps the process, not the photograph. At least, the photo is secondary, necessary only to evaluate the camera.

I enjoy blogging with Tinderbox. I enjoy the tool. Now, both OM System cameras and Tinderbox can frustrate me at times. Sometimes I don't get the result I anticipated, and I don't know why at first. Then I have to dig in and figure out what went wrong. Typically, I misunderstood something, or forgot a setting. It's seldom the tool. The tool can produce the outcome I envisioned, I just misused it.

I like owning my tools. There are many blogging platforms that offer a writing environment as a service that you pay for. I pay for my hosting, a kind of rent for some server space and domain resolving. But I own my copy of Tinderbox. I don't own the IP. It's not "free software" in any sense. But I don't rent it. Every year I pay for a year of updates, but if I stopped paying, it'd work the same way it does now for as long as I had this computer and OS. (Apple changing the OS is an important reason to pay for application software updates.)

But everything I "create" here is right here in this file, which is backed up to a few different places. I don't have to "download my content." It's right here, where I created it. I do have to upload it though. And if my host goes out of business, I'll just upload it someplace else.

And I enjoy using Tinderbox. It's not for everyone, to be sure. But it rewards patience and commitment. It's a unique and powerful tool, and it's been around for a long time. I've been using it for more than 20 years.

Jack Baty enjoys using tools too. I think he's more of a "tool is the object" kind of guy with regard to software. (There's nothing wrong with that.) I think he's pretty settled on the kind of camera that produces the images he envisions. Jack and I will be talking about blogging with Tinderbox. Mark Bernstein, the developer of Tinderbox (and blogger) will be there too, along with other experienced users like Mark Anderson, who publishes a whole Tinderbox reference web site using Tinderbox.

It should be fun. I'm looking forward to it.

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Dawn 8 Feb 24

07:38 Thursday, 8 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 50.85°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 37

Just before sunrise over the Tolomato River, yellow and red clouds on the horizon reflected in the river.

Mitzi spotted the sky while I was in the office. Grabbed the drone and went aloft. This is about 3 min before sunrise.

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06:45 Thursday, 8 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 50.68°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 214

Mitzi is a huge fan of musicals. Theater in general, but musicals in particular. She keeps her subscription to Sirius in the RAV4 specifically for the Broadway channel, as I am reminded each time I drive the car.

Me, not so much. She has a friend, my oldest daughter's mother-in-law, who likes to go as well, and they usually go together. They're going to go see Tina! later this year.

But I like to be supportive in the sense that we "do things together." So when she asked me last November, around Cyber Monday, if I'd go to Hadestown with her, I initially hesitated, inclined to go with my default, "No." But I relented and said, "Sure." Tickets for Wednesday's performance were half-off on Cyber Monday. I had no idea what Hadestown was about, but it's a few hours one night, how bad could it be?

It was amazing.

It's a very contemporary re-telling of a very old story, a Greek tragedy.

As with most musicals, I could only make out about half the words, but I got it. (I kept looking down for the subtitles.) I ordered the CD of the Broadway cast recording and hopefully that comes with a set of lyrics.

It's a story for our time.

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06:06 Wednesday, 7 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 47.84°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 1053

The marmot's tag-line is from The Big Lebowski, which is also the source of the marmot's moniker. It's a disclaimer, and a comment on blogs in general. Maybe life, too.

The marmot's ancestor was called Groundhog Day, and I believe it went through a few tag-lines. One I recall was from The Princess Bride, "Let me explain... No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

And one of the recurring themes in GHD was about the illusion of power.

In our sloppy, lazy idiomatic way of communicating we often ascribe certain outcomes or results to the "power" of leaders or parties or corporations. We speak of "asymmetric power dynamics" in relationships. We encourage and facilitate the illusion in our culture and society, largely because it helps maintain hierarchy and order.

But it's still an illusion.

The only power that exists, in a human relationship context, is the power to choose. Yeah, there's work per unit time power of my fist hitting your nose, but that's physics. A course of action involving an individual is the result of two things: habit or choice. Most of our behavior, our daily course of action, is habituated. This is, in the main, a good thing. Nobody has the cognitive capacity to consider, moment to moment, all the possible courses of action and potential outcomes of any particular choice.

And one of the artifacts of that habit is the illusion of power.

This post isn't intended to recapitulate all that. It provides a little context. When we say a police officer has "power," what we really mean is that he has "authority." Authority is an element of a social contract. We agree to consider the statements or commands of people whom society has granted "authority," as being compelling, having the effect of "force" (power again). But participating in that social contract, recognizing that authority, is always a choice.

Society recognizes the dangers of authority, so it erects guardrails to prevent its misuse. Authority is granted commensurate with responsibility or duty. Society says certain people are responsible for various elements of conduct or behavior, guiding or compelling people's choices, to maintain some beneficial feature of society, or military order.

That authority is bounded by responsibility. Its exercise is accompanied by accountability. That is, the organization that grants the authority can also withdraw it, and impose penalties for its abuse or misuse or failure to exercise it in meeting the responsibility for which it was granted.

So there's a three-legged stool that kind of supports this idea of "power" in the social contract.

It also exists in the professions. We grant titles to people who possess expert knowledge in particular fields that convey to us that we can rely on their opinions. Doctors, lawyers, architects and so on. Someone tells you that they want to cut you open and take out your gall bladder, you want to have some confidence they know what they're talking about!

Again, there are three legs, or pillars, pick an analogy Rogers. Responsibility, authority, accountability. We don't like our buildings falling down, so we make people responsible for ensuring they don't. We grant them the authority to state that a set of plans will result in a safe structure that won't fall down and their signature has a certain force to it. You can rely on it, and you must comply with it. And professionals are held accountable for misuse, or incompetent use, of their authority by legal and professional structures. People can seek damages, attempt to be "made whole." (Good luck getting that gall bladder back.)

Basically, everything else is bullshit and you're on your own. Now, people can acquire reputations for being sources of reliable information. But the only thing they have to lose is their reputation if they give you a bum steer. And there are certain requirements of law in contracts or testimony under oath that can impose penalties if you bullshit someone. But basically, most of life is just bullshit.

Which brings me to AI.

We are suckers for our own infernal cleverness. I remember when we got these fancy color computers in the combat information centers of navy ships. They purported to give an "all source," "fused" picture of the space around the ship. Because it was in a fancy box, and especially because it was in color graphics, we all bought it. It didn't take long to learn that it was bullshit. The data was time-late. The data was wrong. It was just a fancy picture. A toy. But we sure did love it for a while.

It did get better. We learned what its limitations were. We understood what it could tell us. We got better at vetting the data, and faster at inputting it. Today, that sort of thing works pretty well and it's used every day. But occasionally a drone will fly through and blow up a bunch of your shipmates.

AI is a toy. It's bullshit. Some fancy-boy, tech bro nerds might take exception to that characterization, but they're emotionally invested in their toys so that's understandable.

We can begin to take AI seriously when it's supported by the three pillars of responsibility, authority and accountability. And since it's hard to figure out how to make a machine learning model accountable, we'll have to be satisfied with holding its corporate masters accountable. When we start putting people in prison, I'll know we're taking it seriously.

In the meantime, I expect we're going to have a lot of fun with AI as a toy. And it's going to do quite a bit of damage too, because it's kind of like treating an AR-15 like a toy. Some folks will do some useful things with it, but a lot more folks will cause chaos and mayhem just for shits and giggles, or because they genuinely want to sow chaos and mayhem, or because they had good intentions, but just didn't know any better.

But, hey, this is all just my opinion. I could be wrong. I don't have any intention of deceiving anyone. I probably just don't know what I'm talking about.

And this is the marmot. It's a blog. I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. Do your own thinking. Or ask Chat GPT.

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Death and Taxes

13:16 Monday, 5 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.33°F Pressure: 998hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 20.71mph
Words: 359

There's an effort underway by Florida's generation-long ruling political party to consider eliminating property taxes. Property taxes are relatively "progressive." That is, people with greater wealth generally own more property, or more expensive, highly-valued property, and therefore the tax represents less of an overall burden. Sales taxes are regressive in the sense that everyone pays the same amount, regardless of ability or proportion of overall net worth.

I have to wonder to what degree that climate impacts, including sea level rise, are placing pressure on future property values and motivating this effort. While much of Florida's population may migrate from the coast, the truly high-value properties are mostly located there. If retreat isn't properly planned and managed, it is likely to leave a landscape of derelict properties and a significantly diminished tax base.

I don't think there's a sales tax rate that could make up that lost revenue. While "no property tax" probably sounds as appealing as "no state income tax," it would have consequences. I would expect a serious degradation in government services, public education, public health (already a joke), regulation and oversight and so on. The goal with Republicans is never to improve government services, but to eliminate them. Eliminating their funding source goes a long way toward achieving that goal. Public safety, mainly law enforcement, would probably be spared from significant cuts, except in regions where Democrats may hold local sway. I'd expect those regions to be cut significantly. There will be all kinds of games played with how sales tax revenue is distributed.

A progressive state income tax would address many of these concerns, while simultaneously eliminating what can only be described as an "attractive nuisance," which helps draw 1,000 people a day to Florida, placing greater strain on its environment and infrastructure.

I'd say the idea of moving to a higher sales tax rate is a non-starter, but we're talking about a ruling party that hasn't been accountable to the electorate for a generation. Anything is possible.

Anyone considering moving to Florida would be very wise to reconsider their plans. We are a few short years away from chaos here.

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All The Feels

09:39 Monday, 5 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.01°F Pressure: 998hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 89

A post from Dave Winer enters the timeline:

Everyone's watching and listening to Fast Car this morning. It's a time capsule for so many of us. 1988. A window back to good times.


So I google (duckduckgo, I guess), and get the NPR story. I watch the embedded X-post video and I'm bawling my eyes out. I don't know why.

I wouldn't say 1988 was such a great time, but that's subjective. Better, in some ways, than today I suppose. In an "ignorance is bliss" context.

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Orion Nebula

22:19 Sunday, 4 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.95°F Pressure: 998hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 365

Photo of the Orion Nebula, a small purple-ish fuzzball amid a background of stars

I went over to visit with a friend last night and we looked at Jupiter through his large Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Some clouds, mostly clear. The seeing wasn't ideal, but got better as the night went on. I could make out two bands and four moons, but no red spot.

I'd brought over a couple of cameras and a tripod and I tried to get a shot of the Orion Nebula. I got a few, but nothing was I really pleased with. I was trying to use the OM-1 with handheld high-resolution shooting from the tripod. I kept getting failures.

So before I turned in tonight, I looked outside and the sky was clear so I set up on our back patio.

I'm still not thrilled with this result, but I had a little better luck getting successful HHHR shots. This is a crop of a 50MP RAW. PhotoPills said my slowest shutter speed for 300mm effective focal length was .7s, and this is nearly double that at 1.3s. Rule of 500 suggests I might have gotten away with 2s, but I don't think so.

I think the longer exposure (1.3s) stretches the stars a bit and gives the processor more data to align, though it doesn't seem to be doing it exceptionally well. I think folks have more success at shorter focal lengths, but some have done well with longer ones.

I had trouble with Starry Sky AF last night, so I did a little homework on that today. I enlarged the AF target and had much more success in the sense that the camera reported it had achieved focus. I don't know if these blobs are artifacts of the stacking, or if focus was actually off. I need to play around with it some more, and I was just trying to see what I could do quickly tonight.

All in all, I'm happy that I seem to be making progress. I've got a little bit of sky I can see out back. (My friend has a much better view, and darker I think.) I'll keep trying.

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Disturbing the Peace

06:46 Sunday, 4 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.34°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 576

Crime in progress. (Recycling. Fraud.)

I ended up deleting the Miami Herald RSS feed from my subscriptions in NetNewsWire. Too much "news" I can't use, and it was just depressing. Murders, grotesque accidental deaths, lottery nonsense, celebrity sightings.

I was watching YouTube videos about photography and composition, how to "see." I'm challenged by my suburban surroundings. What is the story they tell?

And I've also been thinking about blogging and working on the marmot, getting ready for this meet-up later this month about blogging with Tinderbox. Why should anyone blog? Why should anyone read blogs?

Well, because we're social creatures and it's another way to experience that.

I struggle a little with that too, sometimes. If you look around, things are not going so well. But I guess that's subjective, right? Steven Pinker would say these are the best of times, right? I wanted to call the image above, "Crime in progress," but that wasn't what I wanted to call this blog post so I made it the caption.

But does it look like a crime?

I think most people would say it looks like a nice neighborhood where everybody recycles. What's wrong with that?

Except recycling is mostly a fraud perpetrated on the public by the plastics industry. Most of that stuff winds up in a landfill anyway, but folks think they're doing the responsible thing.

It goes deeper than that, though. All those neatly manicured lawns. That long strip of asphalt. Near the bottom left of the image, beneath the street sign and to the left of the yellow fire hydrant, there's a dark strip in the curb. That's a storm drain. We cover that grass with chemicals. Fertilizers to make it grow. Weed killers, pesticides, herbicides to make sure only "grass" grows. And we water the hell out of it, and that water runs off into the street, over to that storm drain and into the retention ponds. Which we then have to treat to make sure the fertilizers don't cause an algae bloom.

And let's not mention the cars.

"I'd like to report a crime in progress."

But there's no one to report it to. And if you try to suggest there should be, you just sound like a malcontent.

Blogging about the collapse of civilization has to be a downer. I mean, you're only going to attract a certain kind of reader, and they're probably not a lot of fun to hang around with.

On a recent walk, thinking about blogging and "what to blog about," I figured I'd just stop with the doom stuff. It's too late to really stop it; but does it help anyone to know that? And it'll make itself known eventually anyway. But here I am, blogging about it! Obliquely, maybe.

Which is the titular crime. "Disturbing the peace." Who needs it? On a Sunday, no less!

I wanted a line from Joe Versus the Volcano, and I found this page. Here's the line:

“Joe, nobody knows anything. We'll take this leap and we'll see. We'll jump and we'll see. That's life!”

(There are some other great lines there too. I should watch that movie again.)

All we ever have are moments to live. "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift, that's why it's called 'the present'." (Different movie. Kung Fu Panda)

Every moment is a leap of faith.

Thanks for dropping by.

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Praetorian Guard

11:19 Friday, 2 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.86°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 115

I should probably dust off Notes From the Underground for this, but until then I have to wonder what morale and retention is going to be like in DeSantis' Praetorian Guard after being deployed to Texas?

I wonder how much they appreciate being used as political props for a failed presidential candidate still seeking a national media spotlight? Is that what they signed up for?

Where are they staying? Motels? Tents? I assume Florida tax dollars are being used for this stunt. In a state where we supposedly "can't afford" to expand Medicaid to help provide healthcare for uninsured Florida citizens.

Anyone who thought DeSantis would become less extreme after his public humiliation was dreaming.

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Sunrise at the River

12:55 Thursday, 1 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.85°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 59% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 86

Path leading to the sun rising over the Tolomato river.

One of the shots I got this morning. There weren't many. I went down to the river at the launch point first. It was low tide, and I think the birds are more numerous after the rising tide has brought in a bunch of fish. When I was there last week, it was slack water, just before the ebb tide.

This is also a test to make sure everything is functioning properly.

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Fixed... I think.

11:09 Thursday, 1 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.65°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 4mph
Words: 78

Went for a walk. Very few birds. Suspect low tide may have had something to do with it. Nice walk though.

Came home, ate breakfast and sat down to figure out what went awry.

Several things, as it turns out. Some of which I can think of no reason why they went all wonky. I'm still wrestling with a couple of them.

I'm hoping this posts okay, and then I'm going to look at the pics I shot.

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Okay, I broke something

11:07 Thursday, 1 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.65°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 4mph
Words: 10

It'll have to wait. I'm going for a walk.


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06:16 Thursday, 1 February 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 44.76°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 438

Mitzi's sister arrived on Monday and we've been adjusting to the new accommodations here. It turns out that the guest bed was unsuitable due to the nature of her injury, so I'm sleeping in the guest room while Mitzi sleeps with her sister. Which is perhaps just as well, as she requires some assistance in making her way to the facilities at night.

My recliner has been moved into the living room and that's the sacrifice I feel most acutely. I spend most of my time in the Command Cave, alternating between the desk and the recliner, and without it I feel a bit at sea. Additionally, in these early days there is a great deal of communication and coordination taking place, which doesn't really involve me but is definitely within my range of hearing. I can close the doors to the office, but I find I can't sit at this desk chair all day.

We have a sun room that we call "the library" because it has a nice built-in set of cabinets and shelves with most of our books. It has two sitting chairs, but they were purchased more for their appearance than their comfort as seats. They're mid-century modern and the upholstery color matches the color of the built-ins. They look nice, but you wouldn't want to sit there for an hour reading a book.

I expect that as all the various challenges are overcome, questions answered, and prescriptions filled the buzz of activity will die down. I like to watch the evening news, they like to talk, so there is some conflict there. I'll try and get an OTA antenna hooked up to the TV in my office (it's mainly used for video games), and plug some headphones in. The question is where to sit. Last night it occurred to me that one of the beach chairs might be better than the office chair. At least the back reclines a bit, though it won't elevate my feet.

There is some fraying amidst the friction and the frustration. Hopefully this will pass as routines are established and I adapt to our new circumstances. It's not forever, but it will be at least for the next several weeks.

I'm going to get out of here in a few minutes and drive down to river, maybe get a few shots. Then park the car upland from the river near the preserve trail and do a little hiking with the cameras. Ideally it'd be about 10° warmer, (it's 41°F right now). It'll warm pretty quickly once the sun is up though.

So it goes.

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