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

Easter Moon

07:11 Sunday, 31 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.54°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 26

Closeup of waning gibbous moon. 67.5% illuminated

Pretty easy to spot this egg. Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

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Male Reset

18:03 Saturday, 30 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.67°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 3mph
Words: 769

Garret wonders about the appeal of military-style "bootcamps" as a form of male self-improvement.

Not speaking to Garret directly, but it's not such a mystery. We live in a society where there is little guidance about "meaning."

42 isn't such a helpful answer, it turns out.

Bootcamp is designed to take an individual and strip away much of what makes them "selfish" or "self-centered." To diminish the interior demands of the self, and to attend to another voice, the unit leader. The leader tries to shape the individuals into a team, the unit, where the goal, the objective, is the mission. Why you're here.

This works for teams with specific goals or missions. Sports and the military. Other occupations that involve close cooperation of highly trained individuals to achieve difficult objectives. It can instill close camaraderie, a sense of trust or faith in their fellow teammates. A relationship experience that people seldom experience apart from an intimate partner or an especially close friend.

This is absent in day-to-day life for most people. "The mission," is mostly to get through another day. Keep your job. Pay your rent. Put food on the table. Sit in traffic. Do it again, and again, and again...

For the rest of your life.

The mission is never "accomplished." You're not part of a "team." If you're lucky, maybe you have a close, functional relationship with a spouse or partner, maybe your kids, or a good dog.

There's no leader, no commander telling you what your mission is. Why it matters. What makes it worth the cost.

And there's nobody telling you how you're doing.

There's just that inner voice, an unreliable narrator, incessantly asking, "Is this it? Is this all there is?" Or demanding a new car, a new spouse, more money, a faster computer, a cooler camera. Or lying to you, "It'll get better when..." Your boss retires. You leave your wife. Your elderly parent dies.

(Pro tip: "It" never gets better until you do.)

So, yeah, a few weeks of playing soldier can offer some relief from that nagging inner voice. You come away with "an experience." Maybe you've assimilated some "lessons," about the value of teamwork.

But none of that stuff teaches you about meaning. What it is that matters. Why it matters.

And you return to a society that sends you messages from the void. Buy more stuff. Vote for this party. Hate those people. It's the water we swim in. I'm in here too.

Yeah, I understand the appeal of military style "bootcamps."

Along with all the other crises facing this civilization, perhaps the greatest is the absence of meaning.

We have lost the plot.

Life is meaningless. Your "mission" is to make meaning.

Not make yourself rich. Not make yourself beautiful, popular, more "fit," more "successful." Not to have more or better stuff than your neighbor.

Make your life mean something. And meaning is contingent. It only exists in the context of "others." Specifically, service to others. It may be just listening to someone sometime. It may be a kind word. It may be picking up trash along the road. Who knows? Pay attention for the opportunity, which means not paying so much attention to that nagging inner voice.

But don't do it looking for a reward. A "medal." You'll be disappointed. The rewards are all internal, and if you're not finding them, then you're doing it wrong.

'Cause it ain't about you, maggot!

Which is what happens in sports teams, and military units, where you're serving your teammates, your shipmates, your squad members. In a larger context, you want to believe you're "serving your country." You hope your country is worthy of your service. That your service means something.

Make your life mean something to the people around you. Do your best. Always interrogate what your "best" is. But don't get hung up on the results. Just keep doing your best. That's the only thing you're responsible for, but always be kind to yourself too.

Maybe "bootcamp" is better than drinking, or other forms of substance abuse. But it's a temporary reprieve at best. Because the emptiness remains, and the only thing that can fill it is some kind of meaning.

We are all in this together. Everything we "have" can be taken from us. Ultimately, it will be.

All we ever really have are these moments to live, and each other.

All of us.

(Best blog post I could come up with. I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You're strongly encouraged to do your own thinking.)

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Midwatch In Verse

06:54 Saturday, 30 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.28°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
Words: 230

Photo of a book called Midwatch in Verse, New Year's Deck Log Poetry of the United States Navy, 1941-1946

Back when I was conceiving of what I might want to include in my midwatch entry, I stumbled upon this book. I made a "mental note" to go look for it later, and fortunately it was one that didn't evaporate.

It's not cheap, but the subject matter is likely of specialized interest. I've read two of the entries, and it's well written and researched. I'll do a more thorough review after I've read the entire book.

My father was something of a poet as a young man of 18 in the Pacific aboard an LCS, a "Mighty Midget," dodging kamikaze attacks and firing rockets ashore at Iwo Jima. Dad had dropped out of school in the 8th grade to go to work full time to support his widowed mother. That's what he told us; but now I'm wondering what the laws were regarding child labor back then? Anyway, at 17, he enlisted in the navy and the rest is history. These poems were written by commissioned officers, many of whom appear to be Naval Academy graduates. Dad got his GED in 1967, at the age of 40. He was very proud of it, attending "night school" classes to prepare for it.

Anyway, I'm more interested in history these days than the future. Looking forward to this.

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Right Sized

06:41 Saturday, 30 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.46°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
Words: 238

LG ventless dryer 4.2 cubic feet on the right.

Mitzi saw this pic and had an idea. She wants to see if we can have a laundry sink installed in the laundry room. We'd remove one of the cabinets and buy a matching washer so we could stack the washer and dryer. She's not fond of using the kitchen sink to empty buckets or containers of water that was used to clean the floors.

Frankly, I don't know why we bought such a large washer and dryer in the first place, except we did it without thinking about it. It seems like our default setting is to "go big." I'm sure there will be times when we may wish we had the larger dryer. LG makes a 7-something cubic foot model, but I think yesterday showed it should be adequate for most of our regular needs.

I think the room can accommodate a sink, but it'd be a significant plumbing renovation. Obviously, water and a drain are present. The stack would go on the right. A lot of drywall would have to be removed to make the plumbing alterations, and I suspect water to the house would be off during that effort. Shouldn't take more than a day though. The drywall replacement would take another day probably. Her project though. I'm sure it'll be pricey and that may be the deciding factor.

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Bluebird of Happiness

06:18 Saturday, 30 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.42°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
Words: 38

Closeup of a very bluebird perched in the top of a tree agains a blue sky

This guy was one of the first things I saw on my walk yesterday after having the dryer delivered and the Midwatch entry sorted.

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This Morning's Moon 3-30-24

06:11 Saturday, 30 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.42°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 0mph
Words: 18

Closeup of the waning gibbous moon, 77% illuminated.

Because I had to.

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Check Sat

16:09 Friday, 29 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.41°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 52% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 523

The ventless dryer works as advertised. In fact, I was impressed that I couldn't really tell anything different from using the regular dryer. The clothes maybe weren't quite as hot coming out of it, but they were definitely warm and dry.

I glanced at the Tesla app to see how much power the house was pulling during the drying cycle, and I'm guessing it was about 800 watts, which is a fraction of what the normal dryer load is. That'll be healthier, long term, for the Powerwalls, and allow us to be more self-sufficient or put more power on the grid.

I didn't install the optional drain hose because I wanted to see if it worked before I did all that. The drum was pretty near full, I suppose I could have added the tablecloth that was in the wash with the rest of that load, but I didn't want to go too far. At any rate, a nearly full drum extracted almost exactly 1.5l (that's "liters," since that was the side of the measuring cup I could see) of water. It collects in a reservoir at the top of the dryer that you have to empty between loads.

Once I was certain it worked, I wanted to connect the drain hose since Mitzi wasn't keen on emptying the reservoir. I wanted to use it to poor on the plants outside. But she's in charge of laundry, so what she says goes.

So, where's the hose? You'd think they'd tell you, but unless I'm blind, nowhere in the manual does it mention that it's in the accessories box. I found it there as a last resort. It wasn't like any hose I expected, which was good too, very thin; because I had to wedge it in with the drain hose from the washer, and there was just enough room to do it.

Removing the standard hose from the back of the dryer was tough. (The standard, internal hose, carries the water from the condenser to the reservoir.) Just pull really hard. Harder than you think you ought to. After that, the hardest part was finding a way to wedge it in with the washer hose, working in very close confines with little visibility.

I installed the LG Thinq app, and that was kind of a pain. Got the dryer on the network, so I can see what it's up to. I don't see a great deal of utility in it, but maybe it'll prove more useful going forward. I expect it's more a surveillance capitalism effort than anything else.

The big mystery is what happened to the little rack that went in the drum for drying things "flat." I'm certain it was in the drum when it arrived, the literature was sitting on it. But looking around after getting the drain all hooked up, I couldn't find it. Anywhere. I can't imagine the delivery guys took it with them, unless they thought it was part of the packing material. Anyway, chatted with a Home Depot rep by text and we're supposed to follow up on Monday and see what the status is.

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Flock Together

10:43 Friday, 29 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.86°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 98

Cedar waxwings on the wing. Backlit closeup of a flock.

At the end of my walk I spotted this "murmuration" (which I guess is most appropriately used with starlings) of cedar waxwings. It was very cool watching them wheel about as a flock. Not as huge as a flock of starlings, but beautiful nevertheless. This was one of a "spray and pray" effort as this was unexpected. Looking at the shots, I might have done better backing off on the zoom. But I thought this was cool, even if it's not a "great photograph."

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Good Friday Moon

10:32 Friday, 29 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.23°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 48

Closeup of waning gibbous moon, 86.3% illuminated.

Stuck my head out the door this morning, and it was there so I took the shot.

A shower, some laundry and then a few more chores are in store. Mitzi gets back tomorrow.

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Cautiously Optimistic

08:15 Friday, 29 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.02°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 237

Well ok!

So far, so good. It's been over 30 minutes now and there haven't been any new additions to the event summary!

I think I got it licked.

I could've gone to the Tinderbox forum and someone would have pointed out my error immediately, regarding the parens. But I'm trying to learn this stuff, and as I think I mentioned before, I need to do it wrong, and then figure out how to do it right in order to learn anything. I've had people help me before, many, many times. But it didn't "stick." It seems like I have to go through the frustration and persistence in order for it to gain purchase in my memory.

Didn't always seem to be this way.

Well, if that's working correctly now, I'm going to try to figure out how to reformat that text to make it a little more attractive/useful.

Wish me luck. (I'm a glutton for punishment.)



Just as I went to post this, the delivery truck pulled up, about 0820. Dryer has been delivered. They plugged it in and verified that it turns on, but I haven't done an op test.

I started to look at the manual then remembered it was a beautiful day, so I went for my walk and I've just returned.

Midwatch has behaved itself throughout, and no extraneous summaries have appeared. I do believe this issue is resolved.


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07:57 Friday, 29 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.78°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 395

Time flies when you're debugging. Or something.


Ventless (heat pump) dryer arrives today. I've pulled the old one away from the wall and unplugged it, per directions from Home Depot. They're supposed to arrive between 0730 (a half hour ago) and 1100. My guess is closer to lunch. We'll see.

Took another look at the Midwatch thing while my brain was still "fresh." It's "working," but it seems to work too much. I needed to put a conditional in front of the runCommand action, and I probably constructed that incorrectly, omitting parens around the test, if ($Text==""), which should say, "If the $Text attribute is empty is true," then it goes on to runCommand. If it's false, i.e. there's a summary already in there, it should just exit.

I corrected it in the note that was giving me problems (it kept adding the summaries), when I should have corrected it in the prototype. Fixed that, then it still kept happening. Went back and looked at yesterday's Midwatch, and the Edict in that entry had been edited in my earlier efforts and it was still wrong, so it ran and the little Automator app that runCommand runs always looks for the latest Midwatch entry and adds the summary, so I figured that's where the additional entries were coming from. Fixed that.

Went back a few days and verified all the other Midwatch entries had inherited the corrected code from the prototype Edict, and they had. So far, it's been behaving itself.

But I'm almost afraid to look at it again.

Yesterday it was raining, and by the time it stopped I was waiting for some guys to come by to install new hydraulic cylinders in the Murphy bed Mitzi had installed. They were supposed to be here by 1100 too, but got hung up and didn't show until 1430. So I didn't walk yesterday, though by mid-afternoon it was a beautiful day. So no excuse, I guess.

It's beautiful out there today too. But I know if I go I'll get to the midpoint of my walk where it'll take me 30 minutes to get back and they'll show up. Hopefully they'll be here before lunch and I'll just take a late walk.

In the meantime, I guess I should post this and then go look and see if Midwatch is behaving itself.

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Captain's Log: Yeesh...

15:08 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.58°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 57

Okay, OnAdd runs once, but it runs once every time I add an entry; and it runs the AppleScript, which can create duplicate entries.

Used to be a problem trying to figure out how to create a note. Now I can't figure out how to stop creating one.

Yeah, Sorcerer's Apprentice indeed.

Back to the drawing board.

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Wherein I Opine On Matters I Have Little Knowledge Of

12:51 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.67°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 199

I'm guessing we haven't priced in the risk of 100K-ton cargo vessels or tankers knocking down bridges into the cost of doing business.

If I were the All-Being, Master of Time, Space and Dimension, I'd issue a requirement that all vessels over a certain tonnage, transiting through channels passing beneath a bridge or power lines not only have a pilot aboard, but be escorted by a tug with sufficient power to wrestle the vessel away from any vital infrastructure in the event of a loss of power or rudder control. And such vessels travel at a reduced speed such that the mighty little tug can make its way between the unguided missile and a sudden economic downturn in time.

Engineers can compute the mass and velocity figures to determine what vessels would be required to observe the new regulations. Costs of dedicated tug escorts on standby 24x7 to be borne by shipping companies, passed along, as they inevitably are, to their customers.

Last time this happened was 44 years ago. What are the odds it's going to happen again anytime soon? Is it worth the risk? I'd say "Better safe than sorry," but what do I know?

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Captain's Log: Victory Declared

11:26 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.84°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 362

I replaced the batteries in the kitchen radio this morning. I use Eneloop Pros (the black ones) in it and some of the other radios and sensors around here. I logged it, as I've been logging replacing the air filter on the air handler, and will on the air purifier (BlueAir Pure 211+), and the water filter in the fridge, which went south last night.

I decided I wanted to have a container that gathered all those "replace" notes so I could quickly see when the last time was I replaced something. I want to get a better idea of the longevity of the Eneloop Pros in certain applications, and then compare that with using the regular (white) Eneloops. Likewise with the water filter in the refrigerator. The fridge usually reports that it's time to change the filter, but it hasn't this time. We had an additional person in the household for the past two months, so perhaps the extra demand caused it to expire early.

Anyway, I needed to create an Agent to look for notes that contain the word "replace" in the $Name. That's a pretty safe query for a comprehensive list, as I usually begin the log entry "Replaced batteries in..." or "Replaced air filter..." The entry records the action I performed, so it's unlikely I'll ever make an entry that doesn't include that word.

So the agent query looks like this:


This returned four entries:

Replaced batteries in ARANet4

Replaced batteries in air quality sensor (indoors)

Replaced batteries in kitchen radio

Ordered Replacement Water Filters

I don't know why I used title case on that last entry, because I was surprised to see it. The .contains dot-operator is case-sensitive. If I had written "Ordered replacement water filters," I don't think it would have gathered it. So I changed the $Name in the original to sentence-case, and indeed it vanished from the results.

Just to exercise my Tinderbox-fu, I changed the dot-operator to .icontains (case-insensitive), and sure enough, the sentence-case entry returned.

I'll leave it case-insensitive for now.

Just gonna high-five myself and go take a nap.

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Doing Something

07:45 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.27°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 456

I've been pretty disengaged on local issues, apart from the occasional letter to the editor. Running for state representative pretty much exhausted whatever stores of public service desire I might have had. Made me more of a misanthrope than I already was.

But it's been a few years now, and my encounter with the North Florida Land Trust kind of sparked something.

I subscribe to an email list from the Jacksonville Climate Coalition, and I read about a meeting that was coming up called the Resilient First Coast collaborative. I didn't find out much about it, but I put it on the calendar and attended it yesterday.

It takes a lot to get me out of the house these days.

It was well attended, about thirty-some folks in a large conference room. Mostly government and public agency reps, a couple of non-profits. The chair of the Northeast Florida Green Chamber policy committee was there, and I'm a member of that committee.

I spoke up a couple of times, suggesting that they might seek more engagement from non-profits that serve vulnerable populations, in terms of any insights they may have regarding resiliency. Although there were a couple of reps of non-profits in the audience, they were not directly serving vulnerable populations like Feeding Northeast Florida, and HabiJax (Habitat for Humanity local chapter). I got the impression it might have been a new idea.

The other thing I mentioned, looking through the definitions section of the draft document they were circulating, was the absence of logistics as a key term. We learned from the pandemic that we ought to have a thorough understanding of the logistics supply chains that serve us, so we can think about or anticipate disruptions due to climate or other disasters. Toilet paper during the early part of the pandemic came to mind. I suggested they might focus on food, fuel and medicine.

I don't know how helpful that was. Logistics is very complicated, and not a great deal of it is under any one entity's control. But I think any understanding of "vulnerability" ought to include an appreciation of the "flows" of resources into the region.

I told one of their reps I'd send them an email.

My cognitive dissonance was high. These are all nice people. Public spirited. Aware there's an issue. Wanting to do something.

But there's no sense of urgency. Little in the way of leadership. Here's their web site. There are no years on those dates, so I have no idea if this is current. I'll ask. (Oh, here's the actual web site.)

Oh well. You do your best, and the rest isn't up to you.

At least it got me out of the house.

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07:02 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.88°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 408

I think.

Went back to the Automator application, which sole function was to populate the $Text attribute with a summary of the next three days' Calendar events.

I'm getting better, or at least more familiar, with Automator. I figured out how to set the value of a text variable from an input.

I learned earlier how to pass an Automator variable to an AppleScript in an Automator workflow.

So I did the whole thing in Automator, which means I don't need the function at all.

The prototype p_Day contains the edict

runCommand("open -a MidwatchEntry");

The AppleScript in the Automator application MidwatchEntry now creates the entire Midwatch entry. It doesn't just try to paste the contents of the clipboard into the $Text attribute of the Midwatch entry created by the function fMakeMidwatch, which is now defunct. It's the same AppleScript that creates entries for Mail items, except it doesn't query for the $Name and $Text, instead creating them from variables defined in the workflow.


As I was writing this, Tinderbox blinked. I have four documents open, and that kind of suggested one of them had just done something, and I suspected I knew which one.

So, putting an Edict in p_Day to run MidwatchEntry wasn't a good idea. Scratch the above.

It was fine running strictly as Action code, Tinderbox wouldn't create another Midwatch note on its own. But AppleScript will.

(Hilarity ensued earlier as multiple copies of the Midwatch entry kept getting generated. Every time I'd delete one or two, another one would appear. Insert Sorcerer's Apprentice reference here. Every "touch" of deleting one stimulated the creation of another one. Oy.)

I was going to try and figure out a conditional, but then I had another thought. (It's morning and though I didn't sleep well, I think better.)

The OnAdd action will run precisely once. So I added the runCommand action to the onAdd attribute of p_Month. p_Month creates each new day, (And I'm about to learn if I'm an April fool.) and as it adds the new day it will run MidwatchEntry, which will find that new day and create its namesake in it with the calendar event summary, and then sit quietly until the next time it's called, roughly 24 hours later, not every few hours or every time some change occurs to the document.

At least, I hope so.

I've been wrong before.

So wrong, so many times before.

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That Was a Waste

06:07 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.15°F Pressure: 1006hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 57

Still running. Can't figure out why. Thought it might be because I had some other action calling it somewhere, but I can't find it.

I'll look into not using the clipboard and just populating the $Text attribute with a variable from Automator. It's possible I've done something incorrectly in the conditional if statement.

The beat goes on...

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Insomnia Coding

03:02 Thursday, 28 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.45°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 1.54mph
Words: 119

It's 0300. I had to get up to use the head and when I went back to bed I realized it was easy to make that Midwatch Edict run once. Same way we don't let months keep making days when their time is over.

if $Text=="";


runCommand("open -a MidwatchEntry");


That had better work.

I'm going back to bed.

I'll check the clipboard in a few hours and know if it did.

(It's relatively nice out, and the window in my office is open. I can hear a train going by on the tracks next to Phillips Highway, not far from here. I just hear the whistle when it crosses an intersection, and maybe faintly the rumble. Pretty cool.)

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Further to the Forefunction

19:58 Wednesday, 27 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.52°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 459

Got a nice note from Mark Anderson about the preceding post. Some insights on functions that I need to explore.

He wondered how aTbRef might be improved to make it less "intimidating," noting that it is intended as a reference and not a tutorial, though there are many examples.

I don't think there's any need to change anything. As a reference, it's invaluable. What makes it intimidating is that it demands close reading, and that is sometimes challenging from a computer screen. Nevertheless, it is possible, as I've managed to figure out how to create the Midwatch entry using a function, and not local variables within each Day container.

This requires sending an argument to the function, the bit of data from the calling note that the function needs to do its thing. In this case, I have to pass the $Path of the current Day container, so that the Create action has an entire path to make the new note unique within the file.

I write this now, after having successfully tested the code. It looks like this:

function fMakeMidwatch(iThisPath)


var:string vMidwatch;




The p_Day prototype includes an Edict that simply says:


No sandbox variable, $MyString, to stick around like "data dust," as Michael Becker calls it. So a new day is created, the Edict runs, a new Midwatch entry is created, and an Edict in it launches a little app that creates the $Text content of the entry.

After just spending the better part of an hour trying to figure out why it wouldn't work (It's evening. My brain is tired.), when it was all because it was missing a closing semi-colon, I think the list of tips should be as follows:

1.Always check for semi-colons

2. Always include parentheses, even if no arguments

3. Always define your variables

4. Don't forget to check for the closing semi-colon (outside the curly-brace).

I've got one last refinement to make to the Midwatch entry. I need to figure out how to make the Edict in the Midwatch entry run just once and then turn itself off. As you may recall, it uses the runCommand action to launch a little Automator app that queries the calendar for the next three days' events, places them on the clipboard, and then a brief AppleScript places the contents of the clipboard into the $Text of the Midwatch entry.

As it happens now, my clipboard is periodically populated with the contents of the next three days' events, which can come as a surprise in the midst of copying and pasting some other text. Fortunately, I have a clipboard history, so I can recover whatever it was I meant to paste.

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Captain's Log: Function Junction

06:19 Wednesday, 27 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.76°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 997

During the Tinderbox meetup when I demo'ed Captain's Log to that point, Michael Becker asked why I didn't use a function to create the various elements of the log, instead relying on "sandbox variables" ($MyString, $MyDate, etc.). The issue arises that those "$My..." sandbox variables are actually attributes that remain with the note.

They'll change every day with each month, so a given month container will only hold one day's sandbox variables, twelve notes' worth in a year, for however many years the log runs. But every day container creates a Midwatch entry using local variables, and there are 365 of those a year (366 for leap years) for however many years the log runs. Not a huge amount of data, but it's unnecessary if you use...functions.

Based on Michael's comments, I looked at using functions to create the Midwatch entry. I found it somewhat confusing and kept finding reasons to put it off. But after yesterday's success with the Agents, I figured I'd take another stab at functions. And since my mind works best first thing in the morning, that's what I've been doing (after my daily review) this morning.

I thought I'd try something simple first, and create a function that created a new day container in a month container. To keep it even simpler, I opened a new Tinderbox document, Function Test, to learn how to create one before I tried it in the log.

So in the new document I created a top level note and just called it Test Note Sandbox Variables (TNSV), and copied the $Edict from the p_Month container in Captain's log into the TNSV $Edict. Hit, "Run Now" in the Edict pane of the Action Inspector and it created a new note, "Wednesday, March 27, 2024" as expected.

This will be important in a moment.

I created a new note called Test Note With Function, and its $Edict would call whatever function I came up with instead of just creating a note with today's date as its name using sandbox variables.

So then I read the Tinderbox Help file on Functions, and the aTbRef main entry on Functions. A little intimidating.

First thing I had to do was to turn on the Library folder. Now, this isn't strictly mandatory, a function will run from anywhere it's created. But I'm trying to be a good little coder and do it right the first time.

What wasn't clear from the documentation, and still isn't, is whether the $Name of the function note is semantically relevant. I think it is, but you kind of define the function in the $Text of the note anyway, so I don't know if Tinderbox scans the $Text attributes of all notes looking for the keyword function, or if it looks at the $Name of the note to locate the function. In any event, I gave the $Name of the function note the name of the function I was defining, "MakeDay." (Functions should be named with verbs, as they do something.)

The first thing I tried, because I have to see what doesn't work to understand the documentation, was to just copy the $Edict into the function curly braces. (That probably doesn't make sense, but trust me, I seem to have to get things wrong in order to understand how to get them right.)

That looked like this:

function fMakeDay



$MyString=$MyDate.format("W, L");



Didn't work.

So I went back to aTbRef and read some more about functions. The first thing I noticed is that parentheses are always required. So the first line is wrong and should be function fMakeDay() with parentheses.

Didn't work.

Read some more at aTbRef. Function doesn't use arguments here. Name should be ok. I think it's defined correctly.

Then I got to variables.

Ok, I guess this makes sense. Maybe sandbox variables (My...) are inappropriate here, and it looks like you have to define your variables at the beginning like you do in Pascal. (I actually recall hearing about this in a meet-up where they introduced functions. But I didn't recall it until after this.)

So then I tried this:

function fMakeDay()


var:date vNow = date("today");

var:string vDay;

vDay=vNow.format("W, L");



That didn't work either, first because I'd omitted the semi-colons after defining each variable. Duh.

Fixed that. Then something happened. I'd hit Run Now in the $Edict pane of the Test Note With Function, and something would happen, a new note would appear without a name and then disappear instantly.

Recall that TNSV, the first note, created a note named "Wednesday, March 27, 2024."

Because this is the first thing in the morning and my brain is working a peak efficiency, (It's all downhill from here.) I remembered that Tinderbox won't create two notes with the same name, unless you specify different paths.

I didn't want to screw around with paths for this simple test, so I tried this:

function fMakeDay()


var:date vNow = date("today");

var:string vDay;

vDay="Test"+vNow.format("W, L");



And that worked!

And this blog post is just me documenting this to myself, because I'll try to do something in the afternoon and forget why this worked and the other thing didn't.

So, a few tips on functions:

1. Always include parentheses

2. Always define your variables

3. Don't forget to check for semi-colons.

Since a Library note (or any note, I guess) containing a function can contain more than one function, I guess I've just figured out that the $Name of the note isn't semantically relevant with regard to calling the function.

I don't know that I'm going to be creating a lot of functions, now that I kind of know how to, but I think I'll stick with one function per note, and give the $Name of the note the name of the function, just so I can keep things straight.

Time for a walk.

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All Clear On the Epidermis

15:14 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 78.62°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 161

Apart from the usual crap your skin starts sprouting when you live past your "best by" date. She did find the mole on the bottom of my foot interesting. They all do. It's been there for decades, but apparently it could be a ticking time bomb. I'm supposed to watch it carefully.

It's on the bottom of my foot! But ok. I'll try.

Also had a cyst removed from my face. Just noticed it this morning, shaving for this very appointment. I thought it was an ingrown hair and tried to remove it. Failed. She said it was a blackhead, which was faintly offensive.

Turns out it was neither, and required a real effort to extract. She worried she was hurting me. It did hurt, but I didn't say anything. I'm just glad it's out. I guess the hole in my face will fill in. (Kidding. It's a small hole. Not like a crater or anything.)

TMI? Probably. Deal with it.

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The Other Thing

12:47 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.05°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 425

In lieu of a this and that post.

I've got to run to the dermatologist in about 45 minutes. It's that indeterminate time when I feel like I can't do anything except wait for the moment when I have to leave. I should read a book. I feel like I'm going to a uniform inspection, except it's like in a bad dream where I'm not wearing my uniform.


Anyway, saw a post about plug-in hybrids likely to become a larger part of manufacturers' offerings in order to meet climate goals while stretching out the transition to all-EV products. Concern was that many people won't "plug in" their plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

I think they will. If it has decent range, 30 miles or more, it just makes economic sense, even if they don't want to spring for the cost of a Level 2 charger in the garage (essentially, having and electrician install a 220v outlet). I've seen some PHEVs with battery ranges around 20 miles, and it'd still make sense to plug those in, but maybe not to install a Level 2 charger.

But they have data and I have my own experience. Maybe they're right. I just wish we could become less car-dependent, and get over our fixation with giant SUVs and pickup trucks. But how are you going to survive the apocalypse without your monster truck?

I suspect Jacksonville will see a significant uptick in shipping if Baltimore harbor is closed for some weeks, clearing bridge wreckage from the channel. Makes you wonder about the safety features of these giant container ships if they can lose power and steering like that in a constrained channel. What happened to that ship that blocked the Suez Canal? Was it wind? I should google it. The Dames Point Bridge is lovely, I'd hate to think what would happen if one of those monsters struck it.

In the navy, when we were in "restricted maneuvering," we had all redundant systems online so a failure in any one piece of equipment wouldn't hazard the ship. (Or the channel. Or any bridges. Not that we still didn't run aground now and then. Looking at you, PORT ROYAL.)

Glad to see Boeing cleaning house. But I suspect it'll be years, if not decades, before they can recover their lost reputation.

Make meaning or make money? Again and again, we choose to make money. It'll be the end of us.

What's the "meaning of life"? To make money, I guess.

Well, I guess I'd better go.

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Never Quote Your Booleans

12:44 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.05°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 38

They're unreliable that way.

Mark Anderson of aTbRef wrote to say that I should omit the quotation marks (straight quotation marks, I should add) around boolean values.

Made the change in the log and in the preceding post.

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Captain's Log Update

10:25 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.96°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 220

Got around to creating the Agents to collect entries that have not been reviewed, or that I should not forget.

The "Don't Forget" agent was straightforward. Just query for the $DontForget boolean.


The Not Reviewed agent was trickier, because it would include all notes that didn't have $Reviewed checked. As I learned to my chagrin.

At first, I thought I could just make $Reviewed checked in the Prototypes for $Year, $Month and $Day, but there are a lot of other notes, and more that will be added, which won't have it checked.

So I thought about it a little bit. Thinking is hard, so a little bit is about all I can muster.

I just want to check whether or not log entries have been reviewed. All log entries have the prototype $p_Entry, where $Reviewed is a Displayed Attribute (All notes have all attributes at all times, just most of them have "empty" values.) So the Agent query should be a logical "and": Is p_Entry unreviewed.

That looks like this:

($Prototype=="p_Entry" & $Reviewed!=true);

Which was trickier to write than it looks. But it works. And now items that aren't in the category of "don't forget about this," but I'm not finished with them either, can be left unreviewed and they won't disappear into history.

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06:47 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.33°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 15

I guess I should have read the news before checking email.

Video of the event.

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AI Eats the World

06:19 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.39°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 346

I don't know what app developers are going to do in a few years. Maybe even Apple is doomed because of AI. Who needs "an app for that," when you can just tell Siri, or whatever, to do anything you can imagine. Apple's talking to Google about AI because Apple was so focused on "on device" privacy that they realize they don't have the resources for the kind of AI the cloud can deliver.

It may seem unlikely, and it'll probably suck at first, but it'll get better and before I'm dead, unless AI kills me, we'll likely have cloud-based AI managing all of our devices and media, and burning through what's left of our carbon budget in the process.

I guess Affinity probably saw that as clearly as anyone else and decided to cash in while they cold.

AI will become our "wallfacers." We won't have a clue why they're doing what they're doing, but we'll do what they tell us to do, because we can't figure out how to solve our own problems.

An AI will compute and execute swarm-based drone attacks. An AI will compute and execute swarm-based drone attack defenses. An AI will compute and execute a water resource sharing protocol for the Colorado River watershed, because we can't figure it out for ourselves. An AI will compute and distribute all the relevant "news" we need to know. An AI will compute and generate all of our entertainment.

An AI will monitor our health and compute and execute medical interventions.

It's why I don't read science fiction anymore. The future is really going to really suck.

But it won't last long. At least, not for most of us. Maybe the Andreeson-type techbro "optimists" can have an AI design a "lifeboat" for civilization where all the billionaires can hide, with suitably attractive women, while the rest of humanity undergoes the "Great Reset."

Ugh. What a depressing morning.

Just have to keep in mind that all we have are moments to live, and nobody gets out of here alive anyway.

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This Sucks

06:06 Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.41°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 132

Affinity has been acquired by Canva.

That means they will eventually become a subscription model. Which the FAQ essentially states by not stating that at all. Subscription isn't horrible, but it does suck. And it's going to become "cloud based," which feels like Adobe's "creative cloud" bullshit. And, inevitably, it is going to be changed by its corporate masters in ways that it wouldn't have if it had remained independent.

I never used their desktop publishing or vector drawing apps, though I owned them, so maybe it's not such a huge deal for me. I can use Acorn or Photomator. There are other choices.

But I liked Affinity because it seemed like they were a small shop doing great products instead of a corporate greed-machine. I guess everyone wants their payday.

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This and That

16:12 Monday, 25 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.73°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 21.85mph
Words: 182

The black E-PL7 arrived today, and it's beautiful. Cleaned up well. A couple of minor scratches on the screen, but you have to look for them. Once I get my office cleaned up and squared away I'll do some glamor shots. Maybe.

Captain's Log continues to be useful, and I'm adding "features," as necessary. Although I don't wish to replicate the functionality of Reminders, since that is available on my iPhone and iPad, I decided I did want something in the Log to pull together entries that may require a revisit. So I created a "DontForget" boolean and made it a Displayed Attribute. I'll create a Don't Forget agent and open it in another tab. Tabs are another feature of Tinderbox I'm beginning to make use of more.

This came up in my NASA Hubble RSS feed. Click through to the download. Makes for nice phone or tablet wallpaper.

Got an interesting email from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology with a link to this video about how owls turn their heads. I think I could watch owl videos all day long.

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Found It

13:07 Monday, 25 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.35°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 92

Shot of the Magic Beach Hotel from October 2023.

Okay, I wasn't hallucinating. It was on the SSD. I guess I didn't think it was good enough to get added to the Photos library, which is a pretty low bar. But it's a pretty cool little place. It even came up last month at the Photography Club meeting, because they're doing a lot of construction down there and much of the "old Florida" charm is being renovated into "modern" sterility. Magic Beach is supposedly safe.

For now.

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3 Body Problem

12:54 Monday, 25 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.57°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 168

This hotel is in Vilano Beach, Florida, adjacent to St. Augustine. Appeared in the Netflix series 3 Body Problem

Mitzi and I stayed in Vilano Beach last October for our anniversary, and I would have sworn I took pictures of this hotel. But I did take a picture of the TV screen last night and texted it to Mitzi in New York.

That hotel is in Vilano Beach, just down the road from here. We didn't stay at that place, we stayed at the newly-opened Hyatt Place. But we did notice it, and I thought I shot the neon rabbits, but nothing in Photos. Maybe they're on the SSD I use.

Anyway, surprised I hadn't seen anything in local media about Netflix filming locally. Kinda cool.

Finished the series yesterday. I liked it. Would like to see it continue.

I decided not to read the trilogy. I have other sf books lying around here I haven't read. I seem to be more interested in non-fiction history than imagined futures these days.

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Another Point of View

07:15 Sunday, 24 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.7°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 389

Although I appreciate John P. Weiss' take on farm life, I think this paragraph deserves a comment:

No doubt, the farmers of the past had difficult lives, and we mustn’t romanticize every facet of their agrarian world. But they had a deep sense of purpose and pride in their work. Also, their physical labor provided exercise, which helps with sound sleep and overall health.

My grandfather was a farmer, and my mom was a farmer's daughter. I spent some time on that farm as a kid. Shoveling shit, pitching silage, baling hay, you know, "farm work."

I would not go so far as to say that farm labor helps with sound sleep and overall health. Grampa died at age 78, Gramma was 72. Grampa died in his sleep, Gramma died of complications from a bleeding ulcer. Neither of them was especially "healthy" at the end. Mom is 90 now, her brothers that farmed died in their 70s.

As to how much "meaning" they felt in their lives, I can't say. We never talked about it. They liked to watch TV, and before that, listen to the radio. Grampa had a CB radio that he liked to use to talk to other farmers in the area. I don't recall any philosophical conversations. Mostly they talked about the kinds of stuff people talk about, prices, the weather, sick animals, their health, stuff like that.

Farm life is hard. It's easier today, with electricity and modern equipment. But if we think we can abandon all of modernity and enjoy an idyllic, "meaningful" existence on subsistence farming, we're deluding ourselves.

Growing food, or milking cows wasn't about service, it was about making a living. Survival. "Meaning" is a subject that requires cognitive surplus. Time and energy for thought, two commodities in short supply when you're a farmer, at least in the era before electricity.

We gave the responsibility for explaining "meaning" to the clergy. They had the cognitive surplus to think about it. And farmers went to church.

Anyway, I'm in favor of "quiet living." I'm in favor of turning away from certain aspects of modernity. But I have no illusions about the appeal of farm life, absent the advantages of modernity.

Not to take away from John's post, and the value of giving it a read.

Because it can make you think.

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Good Reading

06:51 Sunday, 24 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.56°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 102

In a "further to the foregoing" vein, I starred two posts in NetNewsWire to commend to your attention. These are examples of the kinds of thoughtful writing that can be done more readily in blog format. Yeah, I suppose you could have broken them up and posted them as "threads," but why?

Anyway, John P. Weiss isn't especially prolific, but he posts on the regular and seldom disappoints. This is worth a read. Especially vis-a-vis public figures on "X."

Manuel Moreale offers a take on the Justice Department suit against Apple, which I think is spot on.

Blogs are best.

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Blog is Best

06:30 Sunday, 24 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.62°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 262

It's not that you can't do thoughtful, meaningful posts in short-form social media. You probably can. But it's not a conducive format. And the things it is conducive for, reactive, performative, are invariably toxic.

There was some local news I heard last week on the Friday week in review on the local public radio station WJCT, that a couple of Jacksonville City Council members got into a little back-and-forth on Twitter, er, X and it got vulgar.

And the former mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, one of the leading figures behind the attempted sale of JEA, evidently posted a maternal vulgarity in response to an interlocutor who may have asked a provocative question regarding the conviction of the former CEO of JEA, and friend of Lenny's, Aaron Zahn.

He deleted the tweet, but not before someone screen-capped it and turned it into a Mother's Day meme. (I haven't seen it, this was just mentioned on the show.)

I felt a brief twinge of regret that I wasn't still on Twitter, er, X, so I could have piled on, er, added to the conversation. But I got over it.

If you're kind of morally compromised, if you've wandered pretty far from the path of righteousness, I'm pretty sure you're not going to find your way back on Twitter.



And if you are one of the "good guys," I think it's likely that you'll find your stores of virtue and righteousness will be diminished by participation there, if you're not very careful.

Wrestling with pigs and all that.

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Up and at 'em

06:06 Sunday, 24 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.57°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 357

Slept pretty well last night. Some dreams related to watching 3 Body Problem, but not nightmares. Can't recall them now. Got about halfway through the 4K HDR version of Aliens before I gave up and went to bed.

I'd read The Three-Body Problem several years ago, 2020 maybe? When I was a kid, I could recall every part of a science fiction book I'd read. Not so much anymore. I gather they've made significant changes to aspects of the story. I didn't recall the Panama Canal incident until just before it was revealed. I've lost a step or three, because who could forget that? (Update: It was 2018. I just went to Amazon and it reminded me. I'm going to finish the trilogy now.)

I've got two episodes left, and I like it overall. I'll finish it tonight.

Aliens looks good in 4K HDR. I don't think it's revelatory. Sigourney Weaver's skin was amazing. I mean, that's the kind of thing you notice at these resolutions. It's also strange the things you think about after seeing a movie many times, and being a much older viewer now.

Like, Gorman's got maybe a platoon of marines? Backup or reinforcements are months away at best. They encounter this significant "xenomorph" infrastructure at the base of the atmosphere processing plant where all the colonists are apparently located. And they decide to just go in anyway? Then keep going when they realize they can't fire their rifles? Then keep going when they encounter the first dead colonists?

After Ripley's report of what they're likely to encounter?

After seeing the stuff in the med lab? After seeing the colonists put up a fight?

Cameron made Gorman monumentally stupid. Which, I guess could be forgiven. But Bishop? "By omission of action," can't harm humans? Seems like he might have spoken up and suggested they retreat to the ship and report their findings to headquarters and await reinforcements.

I can recall how much l loved that movie as a 29-year-old lieutenant. So I guess I should cut Gorman some slack. But Bishop? Wow. That movie just got a whole lot creepier.

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Partial Rainbow

09:01 Saturday, 23 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.33°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 37

Fragments of a rainbow interrupted by clouds rising from a suburban landscape.

Not expecting much, I carried the silver E-PL7 with the 45mm/f1.8 mounted just for something different. Rainbow was a pleasant surprise.

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Spice of Life

07:23 Saturday, 23 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.37°F Pressure: 1002hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 557

The E-PL7 is inbound and should be here on Monday. Caitie was here the other day, and we were looking at Canon mirrorless cameras. She does some semi-professional work as an adjunct to her salon work. She's had a couple of product promotion shoots for, I think, an advertising firm. They don't pay much, but she enjoys the work.

I'd given her my E-M10 Mk2 over a year ago and encouraged her to shoot with it and find out what it can do. But film, and then medium format film and now full-frame digital have all turned her head and she's never, to my knowledge, done very much with little Oly. I offered to buy it back from her to help pay for a Canon body, but she said she'd return it to me.

I don't need the 10, but I'd like to have it again. I don't really have shelf space for it, but I can make room if I have to.

The biggest thing I'm missing in my photographic endeavors is subjects. And that's mostly because I'm kind of lazy. Well, not "kind of," I'm just lazy. If we go out somewhere, I bring a camera because there'll be something different to shoot. But I don't go out just to shoot. I should probably change that.

When I was single, I went out a lot more socially. It's important to add that we didn't have COVID back then either. I'd much rather risk second-hand smoke at trivia than COVID, though I suppose a case could be made that they might be equally risky. And I lived in a place that offered a lot of interesting subjects. Here I live in an "interest" desert. A sterile void of suburban conformity. I can get out to the kayak launch point and do some wetlands and birds and what have you, and I should do that more often, but I like shooting other stuff too.

I guess I'm just talking to myself, trying to convince myself to get out of this neighborhood and bring a camera. The thing is, you have to go pretty far, as Nocatee is pretty much entirely devoid of interest, unless you're looking to shoot real estate marketing brochures. I should probably look for the absurdity. I usually like to look for wear, or decay, something that indicates the passage of time, which is, I suppose, a kind of story-telling. There is a lot of absurdity here. But that's in your face everywhere these days. Not sure I need to capture it in images.

Anyway, in the car in a little while to bring Mitzi and Judy to the airport. Mitzi is accompanying Judy back to New York because Judy has some understandable anxiety at the moment. They're going to wheel her through the airport to avoid the risk of a tumble. She's mobile again, but it's likely a few more weeks before her pelvis is completely healed, and it'll never be especially durable anyway.

Mitzi will stay with Judy for a week, and so I'll have the car and I should probably take advantage of that to get out of here and do something different.

We'll see. I'd say I'm a "creature of habit," and there is something to that. But mostly I think I'm just lazy.

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06:33 Friday, 22 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.98°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 157

We're "whistling past the graveyard" here in the Sunshine State. We're one or two major hurricanes away from an economic disaster of biblical proportions. It's the insurance crisis. We have not priced in the "risk" of climate disasters in Florida, even as that risk has grown and the state has (over) developed to place even more property in harm's way. The size of the impending disaster has grown in two dimensions. More powerful hurricanes. More property to destroy.

But folks are beginning to notice.

Seriously, if you're even thinking of moving to Florida, don't. And if you live here and can get out, do so. We're kinda stuck. So we hold our breath every year, hoping this one won't be the "big one."

Not a great way to live. But I learned long ago that everything you have can be taken away from you.

And all we ever really have are moments to live, and each other.

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Early Matinée

06:06 Friday, 22 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.34°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 203

Heading out this morning to see the Ghostbusters movie with my son and grandson. Productivity here has been non-existent this week. I'll be alone all of next week, so maybe things will improve.

"Productivity." Hah! Who am I kidding? I'm retired! I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. Or, at least not the things I'd "planned" to get done.

Disk Utility reports I have 67GB of actual "free" space on my SSD this morning. That's still too little. I moved a bunch of images and movies from the internal SSD to an external one. Watched a time lapse movie I'd recorded at the Finger Lakes and noticed a deer wander through the frame for the first time. Of course, digging through old Photos libraries wasn't contemplated earlier this week either.

Something was up with Kottke's RSS feed. Hadn't noticed he was missing until dozens of posts showed up at once in the Blogs category. Thought I'd have a lot of interesting stuff to peruse, but it was just Kottke. He's great, don't get me wrong. But a little bit goes a long way and a huge backlog like that is just not feasible. "Mark all as read," and move on.

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05:59 Friday, 22 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.43°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 149

I'm not much of an Apple (the corporation) fan these days, but if Apple is such a monopoly, why is Safari, the default browser on the "monopoly" platform, unsupported on so many official web pages?

The Social Security Administration, DFAS, I'm sure there are others, all report that Safari is "unsupported." I refuse to install Google Chrome (and someone should investigate what Google does with our data in its data centers), so I have Firefox for those sites.

This morning, I was reading a news piece in NetNewsWire that has an embedded map created by, of course, Google, and there was a red banner across it that I was using an unsupported browser. (NNW was using Webkit, which is the foundation of Safari.)

Is Safari somehow deficient? I thought all browsers were now "standards compliant." Why is the default browser on a supposed "monopoly" platform "unsupported"?

Is this 1999?

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Point Reyes

13:30 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.65°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 38% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 191

Shot on an E-PL7, sunbeams through clouds and fog against a forest covered hillside

I shot this on July 5, 2017 with my E-PL7, which I liked to travel with back then. This is a downsized version of a downsized version, I'd have to go into my old library and look for the original. I just searched for E-PL7 "favorites" in my Photos library and this is one of them. (Update: Took some digging. Reprocessed the RAW and uploaded it to Flickr. Who knows if it's any good. I like it.)

Some years ago, I decided to try and save space in my Photos library by only adding 3MP versions, then increased that to 5MP, now I just do full-res and deal with the heartache of finite disk space.

But I liked this shot. Shot it with the 14-150mm super-zoom (at 75mm/f8). Kind of a big lens for that body, but I had a cheap, detachable grip/L-plate that I could use when the 14-150 was on it.

Anyway. Cool camera. Looking forward to getting a black one. It'll take better pictures! 😜

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Revise and Extend

12:40 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.25°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 46% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 398

After posting the preceding, we went out to the garden and I planted the sugar snap peas that had still been rooting in their little pots. They were well rooted and now they're planted in the soil and watered. We'll get some rain this weekend, but I wanted to make sure they were happy after the intrusion.

In the interim, a reply appeared in my email and the sexy black E-PL7 is mine. I didn't think they'd go for the offer because it was more than 10% below the asking price. Based on the pics, it'll need a bit of a cleanup, but the screen is good. You never really know since some of these sellers don't take very good product shots.

But they knew how to call up the maintenance screen and show the number of shutter activations, and that's valuable information. U.S. seller, there seem to be more PENs available from Japan. I've had pretty good luck with Japanese sellers, but with the E-PL7 their prices tend toward the higher side on the good ones, and there were few black ones. Mostly silver and quite a few white.

Complete setup with the charger, flash, two batteries and one of those pleather half-cases and a snap-over case, which will be banished to the dark recesses of a drawer somewhere. It's also wearing a brown pleather neck strap and that likewise will disappear.

Yeah, I probably need an intervention.

(Update: I've been listening to the "podcast" some more and at about 35:40, Chris "argues" that "any silver/black leatherette rangefinder from the sixties and seventies is kind of inherently sexy." Hah! He may be right. The silver and black PENs alway, always, draw admiring comments. But I've been kind of saturated in that look for so long that it doesn't really speak to me as much. The Fuji X20 I had was silver/black leatherette, and it had an optical viewfinder! Yeah, sexy. But fiddly. Very fiddly. Sold it.

Jordan mentions the Panasonic/Lumix GF1, which was definitely not sexy. It was a nice camera, groundbreaking even. I owned one. But it was a black rectilinear slab, granted with rounded vertical edges. It was a handsome little camera that exuded, "competence," I guess, for lack of a better word. But it didn't make you want to pick it up and hold it.)

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Further to the Foregoing

11:31 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.53°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 55% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 153

This went up yesterday at the M43 forum at DPReview. I hadn't read it before posting the preceding post. Skip ahead to the about the 30 min mark for the discussion of compact cameras. There is some discussion of the Olympus PEN series, with one of the commentators mentioning that his friends, "below the level of enthusiasts," loved the PENs.

I think they're talking past each other a bit, as Jordan and Chris seem to be referring exclusively to the PEN F. What's interesting, to me, is Chris's criticism of the PEN F's body design, it echoes much of my own. Though I'll never sell it, thank you very much. I don't know the name of the third guy, but I think OM System could do well with a refreshed PEN.

In the mean time, I haven't heard back on my offer. But I happen to think that black E-PL7 is sexy.

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Present Obsession

06:56 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.71°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 77% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 905

Front-facing product shot of the black Olympus PEN E-PL6

This is an Olympus PEN E-PL7. I have a silver one, it looks like this. The camera was released in August 2014, almost a decade ago. My first PEN was a black mini, E-PM1 in November 2011; and it was my introduction to micro four-thirds. My next M43 camera was the E-M5 in October 2012, followed by an E-PM2 in May 2013 and the E-M1 in November 2013.

I ordered the silver E-PL7 on March 25, 2015. A refurb that came with a silver 14-42mm/f3.5-5.6 zoom, not the pancake electronic zoom. It was my third PEN camera, but the first that really embraced the retro-rangefinder vibe. (The E-PM2 was white. While it had a rangefinder body style that evoked the retro look, the color was definitely more contemporary than "retro.") I can't recall if I ordered the silver one because that was all that was available, or because it appealed to me in terms of its retro-aesthetic.

I still have that camera. It's among the ones I've shot with the most, with nearly 10K shutter activations. Still works fine and looks great. No dings, scratches or screen issues.

I recall getting the E-PL7. Mitzi was at her place, recovering from her ankle surgery and I was staying there helping her out. I remember being surprised at how heavy the camera was, for being so small. The E-PM2 was considered "entry level," and it felt very light. As a "mid-tier" product, I thought the E-PL7 looked and felt quite premium, and I recall being really pleased with how it felt in my hand.

I don't recall the first time I actually noticed the black E-PL7. I know it was years after I'd bought the silver one. I do recall thinking at the time that it was a very smart looking camera, better even than the silver one.

I've had or have several of Olympus' PEN cameras. Of the ones that were explicitly evoking that "retro" look, they were all silver and black. My E-P5, PEN-F, E-PL7, E-PL8 and OM System E-P7 were or are all silver and black. (I still have the 7, as mentioned, as well as the PEN F and the E-P7.) I should add that I think the E-PL5/6 design (I have a red, sooo red, E-PL6) was transitional between the modern look of the earlier digital PENS (other than the flagship models), and the explicitly retro style of the E-PL7 and E-PL8.

I also have an E-PL10 kuro, which hedges on the retro vibe, tending back toward contemporary. I almost sold it to KEH, but do I like the appearance. I think it leans much more modern in its design, embracing clean lines and flat surfaces more than the E-PL7. I think that's partly to accommodate the built-in flash, which the E-PL7 lacks.

(The E-PL8 started the move toward a flatter, more squared-off body. Some people like the look of the E-PL8, I feel like it's neither fish nor fowl. Can't decide what it wants to be. The brown one is nice though. It was easy to sell the E-PL8.)

But, for reasons that I can't pretend to understand, I'm presently searching for a black E-PL7. I think it's just about the best looking (digital) PEN Olympus ever made. The PEN-F is a nice-looking camera, and fully embraces its retro chic. But it's kind of big and chunky, and a little busy with the twin control dials and a separate exposure compensation dial. I mean, if you like buttons and controls, and many if not most photographers do, the PEN-F is fully equipped. But I'm accustomed to dealing with just the one control dial of the E-PL series.

The other thing I like about the E-PL7 over the E-PL10 is that the 7 retains the accessory port beneath the hot shoe. I can plug in an electronic viewfinder on sunny days. And the E-PL7's TruPic VII image processor retains nearly as many customization settings as its OM-D siblings. The E-PL10 has the TruPic 8 image processor, with a much simplified user interface and far fewer options for control customization or saved settings.

My silver E-PL7 remains a favorite of mine, but I'd really like to have an all black one. I think the proportions of the black paint to the black leatherette are more pleasing than on the E-PL10. The black is a real black on the E-PL7, while the E-PL10 is more of a dark gunmetal gray color. I think the dark lettering looks nice on the E-PL10, but the small white letters against the black paint of the E-PL7 are more appealing to me.

Anyway, this kind of thing seizes me and I'm a bit transfixed until it passes. The black ones seem to be in short supply on the auction site, but I've put a bid in on a "best offer" listing. They're also kind of pricey, I think, for a nearly 10-year-old camera. We'll see how it goes. If the offer is rejected, maybe the feeling will pass.

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An Aside

06:01 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.44°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 338

I'll turn the lights back on at Notes From the Underground ("It's darker here.") this weekend. But for now, a brief mention about sand and rich people's property built too close to the ocean.

The problems rich people face, and the county governments that rely on their property tax revenue, isn't one solely of sea level rise. We wouldn't be shoveling billions of dollars into the sea to "raise" the elevation of beaches.

The problem is beach erosion. Now, sea level rise can exacerbate that, and likely does to some extent.

But the real problem is wave action. Energy is the capacity to do work. Eroding sand (moving it from the beach here to someplace over there) involves work. Power is work per unit of time. Wave power, the stuff that's moving the sand, varies with the cube of the wave's height. (The energy is contained in a volume of water.)

Wave height varies with wind velocity, linearly. Most waves are wind-driven.

In a warming world, average wind velocities have been increasing. So if the average wind velocity increase 10%, then the average height of a wave also increases 10%; but the power of the average wave increases 33%! It does 33% more work (moving sand).

And there is evidence that average wind velocity is increasing. Good news for windmills. Not so great for rich people with houses built too close to the ocean.

But they're rich people, so our government(s) will spend our money to help protect their property, even though they were the dumbasses that bought property too close to the ocean. And they'll likely permit them to install artificial features along the shoreline to trap sand here, and keep it from being deposited over there. Where Nature needs it.

Now, maybe I shouldn't be "other-izing" rich people. It's not their fault they're successful. They're just people too. But aren't they the ones always going on about "personal responsibility."

Well, I didn't tell them to buy a house too close to the ocean!

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Returning to "Normal"

05:02 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.16°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 465

Mitzi leaves on Saturday, with her sister to return to New York. She's up and moving without difficulty, albeit with some anxiety about another fall.

I've just received the 4K UHD HDR Blu Ray (that's a lot of marketing-speak) edition of James Cameron's Aliens. Judy isn't much for sf or action movies. She's a retired therapist so her taste runs more toward complicated/dysfunctional people and the problems they create for themselves. I watch movies to forget about complicated/dysfunctional people and their problems!

I've got a "little" 32" LCD TV in my office that I use for video games, but it has a Blu Ray player connected to it. It also has Roku built-in, with the Apple TV app installed; so I could watch either disks or something from my Apple movie library, wearing headphones. It's not bad, but I did miss the 65" LG OLED, conscious as I am that its very existence is a consequence of the unsustainable capitalist/consumerist economy that is bringing about the collapse of this civilization. (See, I can be complicated and dysfunctional too.)

We all watched Zone of Interest on Tuesday night. I suspect that it was perhaps one of the most realistic portrayals of life outside the walls. I had to think about the odd, infra-red photography of the girl hiding apples. I thought it was a dream sequence or something. I finally decided it was to depict the contrast between the Germans and the native Poles when "out of sight," so to speak. But I'm not sure.

What I thought was very well done was the banality of it all. I had to look up Hoss, and the movie seemed to follow much of the events of his life in that period fairly closely.

I don't know if the grandmother ever actually stayed with them and quickly departed, but I think it perhaps illustrated the existence of the consciousness of guilt among the Germans.

I think Hannah Arendt took some heat for characterizing Eichmann as a "banal" figure. I seem to recall that she felt she was misunderstood, but that her critics felt that Eichmann was a monster and an outlier among human beings.

Despite the contrast between the grandmother and her daughter, I think there's not a huge gap between the two. If the grandmother had been young and eager to have the "good life," perhaps she would have found some accommodation with evil the way her daughter did. She certainly seemed to have no empathy for the woman whose curtains she coveted.

All of which is to say that the capacity for evil, for being monsters, exists in all of us and we indulge that capacity to greater or lesser degrees, depending on the circumstances.

As we see every day.

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The Incredible Shrinking HD

04:59 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.16°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 74

"Free space" continues to shrink. I think it'll get better tomorrow when some big snapshots scroll off into the ether (or onto the Time Machine disk). For now, Finder assures me I have plenty of space, while Daisy Disk and Disk Utility report I only have 26.3GB of free space on a 1TB SSD.

My time would probably be best spent deleting images from Photos, as that's the major culprit.

The beat goes on.

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Early Morning Moon

04:23 Thursday, 21 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 52.25°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 45

Closeup of waxing gibbous moon 87% illuminated

Woke at 0400, figured I might as well get up. Probably last clear morning for several days. This should be old hat by now, but the moon remains irresistible to me.

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Loren Needs a Hand

16:50 Wednesday, 20 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.81°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 32% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 13

Picking the best shot.

I went with the second, but they're all great.

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The Vanishing HD Space

14:43 Wednesday, 20 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.33°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 29% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 260

It continues. Every time I run Daisy Disk, I have 5GB less storage. I'm down to 28.6GB. I started somewhere north of 40GB.

I haven't been taking notes. (Good use of Captain's Log!) But I believe the somewhat ambiguous "~free+purgeable" may be growing larger, as it's at 529GB right now.

I suspect that the vast majority of that space is my Photos library, where Photos or iCloud or some combination thereof can make some decisions on the size of thumbnails or what have you.

I just looked at the Time Machine snapshots in Disk Utility (from the View menu). I can't pretend to understand any of this, because it makes no sense, but in the last 8 hours Time Machine has created 11GB ("private size") of snapshots. The largest (3.59GB) a couple of hours ago when I deleted a bunch of email.

So as I've been deleting stuff, Time Machine has been adding stuff. 11GB would get me close to the figure I seem to recall when I started this adventure. But I don't understand why the available space would be going down. You'd think it'd remain the same. But maybe there's a lot of overhead that goes with the snapshots.

I'm not going to delete any of them right now. If I understand things correctly, those locally stored snapshots will be deleted (or written to the Time Machine HD) as new snapshots, presumably much smaller as I've stopped making huge changes, replace them.

I'll know more Friday afternoon. For now, my efforts to recover more storage will cease.

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A Place for My Stuff

13:21 Wednesday, 20 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.77°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 30% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 168

Read this last night in NetNewsWire, and had a bit of a scare. I've been following Howard Oakley's series on how iCloud drive works, and I'm probably as confused as I ever was. DaisyDisk reports that I have 35GB "free" on my 1TB internal SSD. Storage in System Preferences reports that I've used 493GB of my 1TB internal storage. Finally, I just got through archiving and/or deleting several thousand emails (archived to an external SSD) and Daisy Disk says I have 5GB less available space than I had this morning when I started!

Yes, I've emptied the trash in Finder and in Mail.


Broadband internet and huge storage has turned me into a digital packrat. But Apple's fancy, sleight-of-hand, now you see it, now you don't file system has just made it a clusterfuck.

Anyway, that's how I spent my morning. Archiving emails, deleting them, scanning the hard drive, and winding up with less "available" space than I started.

The peak of our civilization.

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Insomnia Moon

03:25 Wednesday, 20 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 44.47°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 46

Waxing gibbous moon closeup

Got up to get a glass of water, saw the moonlight through the kitchen window. Had the water and went back to bed. Kept thinking about the moon. So here I am.

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Some Days Just Get Away From You

16:38 Tuesday, 19 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.56°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 49% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 41

Got in my walk. Donated blood. Provided air support to Caitie on her flight back to LA. Scheduled the dermatology consult.

That's it.

Had a bunch of things in mind, but feel like I was running in molasses today.

Oh well...

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Thomas Stafford

10:05 Tuesday, 19 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.42°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 49% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 13

We have one fewer surviving Apollo astronauts. Stafford passed away yesterday at 93.

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American Association of Alliteration Aficionados

09:59 Tuesday, 19 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.42°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 49% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 19


Leslie Livesay appointed to serve under Laurie Leshin as first woman Deputy Director of JPL.

That is all.

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Retro Computing Enthusiast

05:45 Tuesday, 19 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 48.04°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 46% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 68

Was watching some YouTube reports on the Orange One's problems paying his fines and saw something fascinating in Andrew Weissman's office background.

There's a iMac G4 back there with a pair of Apple Pro Speakers and an early iPod of some kind!

He's an Apple geek! (In the best sense.)

(This should start at 2m30s into the piece. If not, advance to that point and check it out.)

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Caitie Call

12:44 Monday, 18 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 81

My daughter is on her way over and I'm looking forward to some "hanging out" time. She'll probably give me a haircut too.

But it's always a pleasure seeing Caitie. She lives in LA now, but comes home every four to six weeks to serve clients here. Sometimes she'll be pretty booked and all we can do is maybe grab a bite to eat after I visit the salon for a haircut. She carved out an afternoon for me this time.

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Log Rolling

08:23 Monday, 18 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.41°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 354

Didn't do much on Captain's Log yesterday. I'm going to try to learn about functions in Tinderbox. The idea would be to let a function do the heavy lifting on creating a new "Midwatch" container. It works fine locally as an edict, but the values of the sandbox variables remain part of the file and can begin to add to the size of the document. Probably not significant for something like this application, but it's a good excuse to learn how to use a function.

The Midwatch entry is still working, but I get a little error message from AppleScript even though everything worked. As it doesn't seem to be a problem, I'll defer investigation for another day.

Since I know I can create Calendar entries rather trivially from within the log, I did look at Reminders yesterday. The last time I used Reminders to any great extent was when we were selling my old place and moving to this one.

But I had two "lists" that had yellow "!" triangles. Searching suggested that meant there were devices logged into iCloud that wouldn't sync with those lists because of an OS difference. I can't imagine what that would be, but I found a Reddit post that said if you just renamed the lists, the triangles would go away. So that's what I did, and they did.

At some point I got Reminders to show all reminders, and imagine my surprise that there were thousands of them going back to 2008! I guess I used it more than I recall. Hundreds were some reference to "Ace" and I have no idea what that was about.


I can use LaunchBar to create Reminders from within the log. So far, I haven't had a genuine occasion to do so, but I may try a few just for practice today.

I have delayed my walk because of the possibility of rain, but it looks like it's just going to remain a possibility. Though if I do go out, I expect the heavens will open and at least the lawn will get watered without having to run the sprinklers.

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Variations On a Theme

06:38 Monday, 18 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.3°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 699

Sometimes a train of thought will remain with me, even after I've supposedly "scratched that itch."

I somehow got the idea that perhaps I was being unfair to people who didn't understand the opportunity that service represents. I think Aaron Zahn wasn't yet 40 when he became CEO of JEA.

I was around 35 when I was XO of JOHN HANCOCK and did all those burials at sea. I was around 40 when I spoke for the HMC's (corpsman, chief petty officer) retirement.

Those were each "little epiphanies." It wasn't until much later, well into my 60s, when I began to understand and appreciate what those little epiphanies meant. What the value of meaning is.

The "meaning" of meaning was another little epiphany that occurred during my personal crisis, the end of my marriage and the end of my navy career. Trying to discern what that all "meant," standing amidst the wreckage, with the help of a therapist and a lot of reading made me understand that "meaning" is contingent. It doesn't exist as something apart from us. "Life" is meaningless. We must make meaning. Failure is the universe's way of trying to get your attention.

Nobody teaches you this as an adolescent or a young adult. I'm not sure a child could understand it. Maybe I'm wrong.

I had a correspondent this morning talk about their experience, in military service and in academic life.

There was little expression of appreciation for his military service, public or professional; and academic life exposes the contradiction between what we say we believe, and how we actually behave.

Of course, hypocrisy is nothing new and it's become seemingly endemic in public life. Everything is a facade. I think social media is another corrosive factor in that. (Please know that I understand there are exceptions. And while they may be many, or of wonderful merit or worth, they remain, in the main, exceptional. The overall effect is a net negative.)

And there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around, spanning the entire political or ideological spectrum.

It goes back to the "do the work" post. Posing is not working. But we want to appear attractive, to whatever tribe we wish to appeal to, so we signal and pose and manage to completely avoid "doing the work." (Who would have time?) We live in a media saturated culture, and that means appearance is reality. We are all the stars of our own little reality programs. Working on our "personal brand." Marketing ourselves to "viewers" or "only fans."

Meaning is conveyed in narrative, but meaning is forged in action in the field of value. What "matters" to us? Those are, or were, our "values." I feel like I should read Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again. (Thanks, Mark.) Get reacquainted with Phaedrus. Lord knows the writing around this joint could use the help.

We have no institutions today whose role is convey those values. Ideally, I suppose it might be a "culture," but our culture is rotted through and through with the values of capitalism, consumerism and competition.

We have no institution to teach the meaning of "meaning," let alone the value of "values." I suppose it once was the church, but even they seem to have some difficulty keeping the thread. In this country, the "separation of church and state" has never been thinner. Even "church" leaders desire secular power; and let's not discuss "televangelists" who have the same emptiness that compels CEOs and politicians to seek ever more power and wealth and the people attracted to those who have it.

And all of this has to be considered against the backdrop of a large proportion of this society that has to spend most of its time just trying to meet the demands of day to day existence in a culture that seems to want to value compassion but can't find the wherewithal to exhibit it.

Politicians and corporate executives come from, mostly, privileged backgrounds. They have at least had the opportunity to reflect, to practice some introspection. But since competition seems to be one of our premiere "values," well, who has the time?

Anyway, I get it. But it's a pity.

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15:27 Sunday, 17 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 81.95°F Pressure: 1003hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 3844

[Originally published in Groundhog Day on September 5, 2005. There was a link to a WSJ opinion piece in the original. The link is now dead.]

There is much discussion underway in weblogs and in opinion pieces in the press regarding what changes the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the dismal performance of the leaders of our government may bring. This is a good thing.

I'm not sure what I have to add to that discussion.

One of my most persistent frustrations with writing and maintaining first Time's Shadow, and now, Groundhog Day, is that I am not a disciplined writer. When I am motivated to write, it is often because of some emotion, usually negative. As a result, I'm often writing against some idea, and I know people enjoy reading more positive things, or at least the occasional respite from a constant litany of complaint. I have made at least one change in my writing habits, and that has been to file many of my more vituperative posts in a topic that never gets published, which I call The Cooler. Sometimes a post will make it out of there after I edit it a bit, but usually they just stay there.

This is another instance where the throbbing vein in my temple seems to compel me to put down in photons my thoughts about a particularly bad idea. If I wait to calm down, when I try to write, it becomes more laborious and I become more pedantic. I begin to bore myself. So, I'm going to struggle here to try and keep this piece out of The Cooler, try to make something of a compelling argument, and try to stay interested while doing it.

The thing that's got me rather exercised right now is a link Doc Searls pointed to in the Wall Street Journal. I'll go back to beating up the idea that markets are conversations some other day, but right now I want to beat something else up.

I went to the piece in the WSJ because Doc called it "instructive lessons," and I wanted to see what those lessons were. In fact, there are no lessons there. Instead, there is the usual justification for the predictable response of the Journal, and that is that we should outsource or privatize the business of disaster preparedness. This is a knee-jerk, ideological response that will gain traction among those who always seem to believe that the private sector has better answers than the public one.

Well, I don't know about anyone else, but I've seen the private sector at work in things like Enron and Halliburton and Merck and Boeing and Microsoft and oh, I don't know, check with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, he might have a couple more he could name. But I don't happen to think that the private sector has a monopoly on virtue. And bureaucracies exist in the private sector just as much as they do in the public one, which is just one of the many reasons why markets are not "conversations." There is no immunity to inertia through incentivization.

For a while, after 9/11, some pundits opined that the event would mark some watershed in American history, that it was the end of the Age of Irony. They were wrong. We do have a problem in this country, but it's not going to be solved by a particular economic "sector." There's no faith-based program to address this particular need. There's no catchy slogan, no social software solution, no pill, no gene therapy, no stem cell, no Supreme Court decision that's going to fix what's wrong with this country. But then, there doesn't need to be, because what's wrong can be fixed by you and I. Indeed, it will only be fixed, if you and I fix it.

I'm not an ideologue. I don't have any particular view of the world that I want to promote, other than maybe two ideas: First, know thyself. And second, you must become the change you wish to see in the world.

I'll tell you a sea story. Maybe two.

I'm pretty sure I've told this one before either here or in Time's Shadow, but that's in the nature of sea stories, they tend to be repeated.

When I was executive officer of USS JOHN HANCOCK (DD-981), I had to perform my first burial at sea. Up until that time, I don't recall having ever done one before. I certainly hadn't participated in the ceremony. That was about to change.

My job as the XO was to commit the decedent's cremains to the sea. Cremains are what are more commonly called "ashes." There's a burial at sea ceremony spelled out in some navy instruction or another, and the Captain presides over it. It was conducted on the fantail (that's the ass-end of the ship) and there were people there to render honors and there was a gun salute, and the whole thing was videotaped to provide a record for the family. So at the end of this rather somber, somewhat elaborate ceremony, I ceremoniously marched to the stern of the ship, removed the top of the container and poured the cremains over the side.

And the first time I did it, the wind swirling around the stern caught the ashes and blew most of them back up onto me in my dress blues and the deck of the ship.

I was not a happy guy.

It's pretty creepy having some guy's ashes all over your face and your uniform. But I remained "in character" until the end of the ceremony. Needless to say, I was glad it was over and I sincerely hoped I'd never have to do it again.

Except I did have to do it again. It came as a surprise, but shortly after we did the first one, we were tasked to do another one. Then they started coming in twos and threes. I worked with the Officer of the Deck to ensure we placed the ship in a favorable position with respect to the wind such that I wouldn't repeat my first experience, and while it was something of a pain in the ass, it wasn't a huge deal either. Just one more thing I had to do, so I just did it.

After each ceremony, we boxed up a national ensign, a chart showing the location of the burial, the videotape of the ceremony, the shell casings from the gun salute and a letter from the CO and sent them to the family. My navigator, who was also the admin officer, was in charge of that. I don't know how many we had done by this point, but Murphy's Law finally made its appearance and at some point we sent the wrong mementos to the wrong families. They were, understandably, rather upset and they conveyed their unhappiness back through the chain of command, whereupon I received direction that I would personally inspect the contents of each package before it left the ship and it would be sealed in my presence. Which, again, is no big deal, but it was a kind of pain in my ass.

And for a while, that's pretty much how I regarded doing burials at sea, as a pain in my ass.

Except I kept having to do them. I don't recall exactly how many I did, but it was more than thirty, maybe close to forty. And there was a rehearsal for each one, and of course there's each ceremony. Plus the packaging up of the mementos, which had me reading these guys' DD-214s or other discharge papers, and getting just the barest glimpse of what had been a life. So I began to think about this whole thing a lot. I found out that the reason why we were doing so many burials at sea was because many of the families of these guys couldn't afford a casket burial. Some of the "families" were really fairly distant relatives who were kind of stuck with the disposition of the body after their relative died. A few were really old guys, most were veterans of WW II or Korea, a few more recent. But the more I thought about these guys and the fact that, for many of them, there was nobody available to see to their end, to the final disposition of their earthly remains, the more I began to feel as though I had some sort of responsibility to them, to these guys I had never known and who never knew me.

Now, I don't know if any of these guys had ever given any thought to how they were going to be treated after they'd died. For all I know, they didn't care. Maybe some of them did. I don't know. I don't know if any of the families thought that the Navy would do for their relative what they couldn't do themselves in a manner that they would care about. About all I ever knew about these guys was their date of birth, date of death, period of service and an address to mail the package.

But they became something different to me. I don't know, I guess I thought that if it were me, I'd like to think the guy doing the thing would do it right. I can't really describe what the change was, other than it was no longer a pain in my ass. I won't say that I felt like it was a privilege, because, truthfully, I didn't want to do it. But I began to feel like I owed something to that box of ashes, which is about as irrational a thought as I've ever had, and I've had a few. So while it wasn't a privilege, I did see it as a duty, and one to be taken as seriously as any other important duty, perhaps more so in some respects.

I don't know how many burials I did after coming to that, less than half I'd say. But that experience was to kind of play a role later on when I began to understand something else I'd never really thought about before.

So here's another sea story, although this one doesn't strictly take place at sea. I was on shore duty at the time. And again, I'm sure I've probably told this story before too. Hopefully, the inconsistencies aren't too obvious or damning.

I was the XO of Fleet Training Center, and at the time of this story, I think I was the acting CO. I had two periods of three months' duration when I got to be the acting CO after my boss had retired without relief. Didn't mean a great deal different for me, I still got the same paycheck, and I didn't move my office; but I did have to preside over the various ceremonies in the capacity of the CO, rather than the XO, which means I was usually the guy doing all the fun stuff, like handing out the awards and stuff.

Anyway, one day, one of our sailors was getting ready to retire, and we usually have a fairly elaborate retirement ceremony for them. As the CO, I'd be the guy to present the award and all the plaques and letters and stuff a retiree normally gets. Usually there's a guest speaker, someone from the retiree's career or life who gives a speech about the retiree's career and tells a few embarrassing stories and what a great person they were and all that, as you might imagine.

So this sailor comes into my office one day and asks me to be her guest speaker. Now, I've never served with this individual before, and we've only been together at FTC for about a year, but she wants me to say a few words about her at her retirement. It floored me. I'd been to dozens of retirement ceremonies before, usually as a member of the audience, a few times as the master of ceremonies, but I'd never been asked to speak about someone before.

So that was a hard one. Of course I said I would, but I really had no idea what I would talk about. I pulled her personnel record and reviewed her career. I thought about what I knew about her from our time together at FTC. And then I got to thinking about this whole retirement ceremony thing.

I'd never really thought about it before. Of course, my own would be coming up a couple of years later, but I wasn't thinking much about that at the time either. If you'd asked me what I thought about them before then, I'd have told you they were just another one of those things I had to do as a part of my job.

When I began to think about it, one of the first things that occurred to me was the burials at sea and what that ceremony ultimately "meant." And I went on to think about the nature of ceremonies and why we went to the trouble of having them. To be honest, I had never thought much about it before. They were always just a part of Navy life. You don't have to think about what it means, you just have to show up. But somehow, when you have some part to play in it, you tend to think about what it means, or what it is supposed to mean.

I began to think about the word honor, because we did these things, supposedly, to honor, the person who was retiring. And so I wondered what that meant, because I had never really thought about that before either. So I did what I often do, I consulted a dictionary. Honor, the verb, means to regard with great respect, or to fulfill an obligation, or keep an agreement. It was the second sense of the verb that I focused on, perhaps because of my experience with the burials at sea. I had, without really thinking about it, been acting to fulfill an obligation to those dead veterans, and I thought about what that meant to me.

And I thought about the retiree, who was, most assuredly, still alive at her ceremony. What was my obligation to her? What was my role? Why was I going to be up there in front of the rest of our command? And from those questions, I found answers that eventually turned into my speech for her. It must have been a pretty good speech, because afterward, a lot of people came up to me to talk about it and I ended up getting a lot more requests to speak at retirement ceremonies.

And that's probably enough sea stories.

What follows isn't that speech, but it's based on what I learned when I was thinking about it. There is something that keeps a group of people together that is more than just a paycheck. We "honor" individuals within our group as a way of renewing and strengthening that thing that keeps us together. It's about faith, which is a word that is much abused of late. It's about keeping faith with one another, and the really important things we believe, even if we don't think about them much. To honor someone is to keep faith with them. Honor, the noun, is the quality of having kept faith with one's fellows.

Leadership is the act of renewing and strengthening that faith. Leadership is embodying that faith and living it, having it be a part of one's life, recognizing that each of us is a part of something greater than ourselves, and that's not our company or our corporation.

I couldn't be incentivized to care about the people whose ashes I consigned to the sea's embrace. I got the same paycheck whether I cared about them or not. I couldn't be incentivized to talk about things like faith and keeping that faith with one another. I could have stood up there and told a few jokes, highlighted the achievements of my retiree's career and gotten away from that podium without ever breaking a sweat.

It was easy, when we would be working hard training at sea, to understand why we were working so hard. If we didn't work hard during a main space fire drill, we knew many of our shipmates might die, and we might lose the ship. There's no place to run in a fire at sea. We knew when we were working hard during general quarters drills why we were working so hard, because otherwise shipmates, both our own and those on other ships, might die if we didn't get the job done. The fear of death is a pretty good incentive. But there are a million things we do that are inconvenient, many that are hard, that have nothing to do, directly, with staying alive. But they have everything to do with being a part of something larger than ourselves. We lose sight of those things too often. Indeed, for myself, I never had sight of them until I was put into the middle of them and had to wonder why I was doing this? Who cares about a box of ashes of some stranger? Certainly, he was beyond caring.

Being in the Navy, or any branch of the military, is a form of public service. Part of what some people call the public sector. Something we've lost sight of is the meaning and the value of public service. Like our infatuation with our clever technologies, we've become enamored with the many supposed virtues of the marketplace, and its rewards for efficiency. But where is there room in the marketplace for keeping faith with one another? Faith isn't a commodity that can be bought or sold. If there is a place, how does it compare in priority with things like maximizing shareholder value, or the bottom line? Who is the competition when it comes to keeping faith with one another?

What happened in the failures of government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was not something intrinsic to the nature of bureaucracies or the public sector. What happened was a failure of leadership, a failure to renew and strengthen the shared faith that makes each of us a part of something larger, and hopefully, better than we are as individuals. What happened was a failure of leadership to keep faith with us.

That failure in leadership was not an accident. It was the result of too many years of too much neglect of the value of public service. For too many years, for too many people, public service has become just a means of advancing oneself in the private sector. People with something to gain, people with a profit motive, selfish, cynical people, have blurred the ideas of authority, responsibility, and accountability. All toward the end of abusing their authority to promote themselves while neglecting or ignoring their responsibilities, oblivious to the shared faith that has become the tattered and fraying social fabric that binds us together.

That failure in leadership was not an accident. It was the product of a political system that has embraced the ways and the methods of the marketplace to manipulate people, to command their attention or distract it. To craft clever, meaningless messages intended to obscure more than to illuminate. To appeal to fear rather than courage. To value appearance over substance. A marketplace in which honesty and integrity are often perceived as impediments to a healthy bottom line.

That failure in leadership was not an accident. It was a result of each of us failing to keep faith with each other. Thomas Jefferson is supposed to have said that people usually get the kind of government they deserve. I guess that's true, even if it is essentially blaming the victim; it often seems like most of our wounds, individual and collective, are self-inflicted. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

I've seen a lot of people calling for the sacking of Michael Brown, a political appointee and someone who is patently not qualified for the job, let alone someone who's ever had to exercise leadership. I'm certainly not opposed to sacking Brown. But sacking Brown isn't enough, and if we settle for that, it serves the interests of those whose failures were, in many ways, even greater. At the very least, we ought to demand of our president that he ask for the resignation of Secretary Chertoff.

But even more, somewhere out of all this hot air must come a discussion, an argument, (not a "conversation") about the value of public service, the role of leadership, an examination of authority, responsibility, and accountability. We need to take a close look at that "social fabric" that supposedly binds us as a nation. Is it nothing more than a blind faith in the "invisible hand" of the marketplace? How can what is presumably "the best of us," so grievously fail "the least of us?" What do we expect from our leaders in the way of leadership, at all levels of government? And don't look to our so-called "leaders" to lead this discussion.

I've seen a lot of folks wondering what "we" can do to address this situation, and, predictably, people are focusing on technological solutions, when what we have is not a fundamentally technological problem. It's something far less physical. It's a crisis of faith, it's a kind of identity crisis about who we are as a people and what we say we believe. Because there's a disconnect, an enormous chasm, between what we say we believe and how we manifest that belief in the leadership we choose and the other choices we make. So if you want to try to begin to "solve" this problem, I'd say your time would be better spent there than in advocating a particular technology. I will note that many of those who do will be doing so while angling for some competitive advantage in the marketplace.

I'd like to say I'm optimistic, or that I'm hopeful this will be the watershed event many thought 9/11 was. I'm afraid I'm not. I look back at the events that made many of these values meaningful to me, and maybe I'm just a slow learner, but I don't see very many people having similar kinds of experiences. I don't know how to articulate that meaning in a compelling way, to make it meaningful for others. I don't know how to resolve the incongruity between a culture that believes life was created by a creator, but which embraces a Darwinian "survival of the fittest" view of its fellow creatures. I don't know how to check the embrace of "self interest" over "public interest." I'm not a marketer, and I don't know how to sell the truth, so I just try to tell it. I don't know if I have enough faith for all that.

I don't know if any of us does.

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Philosophy of Command

13:40 Sunday, 17 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.46°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 61% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 700

It is in the way of mystery, how this world works. In my experience anyway. Parts of it.

We just had a trial conclude here on Friday and the former CEO of JEA, Aaron Zahn, was convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud in an effort to enrich himself to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from the sale of JEA to FPL. JEA is among the largest publicly owned utilities in the country.

I'm a member of the United States Naval Institute, I get their emails and from time to time the title of a piece catches my eye, as this one did. I wasn't enamored with it overall after reading it, but I genuinely do agree with the premise.

And it made me think about the "philosophy" of other areas of service, particularly in the context of the JEA debacle. What was the "philosophy" of the politician who put Zahn on the board, which then chose Zahn to replace the departing CEO?

Why do people enter politics? Is it public service, or personal ambition? Is it being attracted to the trappings of power? Is it the desire for personal advancement? Maybe it's just a job.

I think that many people in public service positions don't understand the value of service or the opportunity it presents. They don't understand the relationship between the responsibility that goes with the office or the position, and the public they notionally serve.

On this morning's walk, I thought I'd blog about this; but one thing led to another, breakfast, call Mom, and next thing you know it's the Tinderbox meetup. Great session with Dr. Beck Tench. We had a little back and forth toward the end, and she related the story about how she came to change her feelings about her wedding ceremony.

That brought to mind my experience with navy retirement ceremonies, so I offered a little sea story.

In a moment I'll post something I wrote late in the night on September 5, 2005, in the midst of the Hurricane Katrina debacle. The sea story will be in there, but you've probably heard it before.

I found that post looking for something shorter. It's terribly long for 2024, nearly 4K words! So, I'll understand if you don't read it.

But it speaks to everything I was going to blog about, prompted by the JEA trial and an article in Proceedings.

I'm not especially proud of that piece. It's not great writing. But I believe every word of it, nearly 19 years later.

It is to our everlasting regret that we have a blinkered view of who we are in the world. To the nature of our relationships to one another. To the duty of care we owe to one another, to the responsibilities placed in us.

We are born. One day we die. Everything that matters happens in between. How it matters, why it matters, these are questions we should be asking ourselves, if we had the time. If we had the awareness that the answers might mean something.

You can get pretty far in life without ever asking those questions. And it seems like most people do. You can also go pretty far astray by never asking those questions. Either way, at some point you may find it's too late, and you didn't take advantage of the opportunities the questions might have revealed.

We're all in this together. All we ever really have are each other. Life is meaningless. We bring meaning to life. That's the opportunity we have. To make meaning.

Make meaning, or make money? Power, position, privilege? Empty. People that have all that are still empty. Still looking for something to fill the aching void. More power. More money. More privilege.

Faith and fear are the "harmony of binding opposites." Yin and yang. Every breath is an act of faith. Love is faith in action. Courage is love in action. Love one another. Keep faith with each other.

Do your best, and the rest isn't up to you. What is your best?

I guess pulling off a multi-million dollar scam was it for Aaron Zahn.

He'll have some time in a Club Fed to reconsider.

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Command Line

13:43 Saturday, 16 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.2°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 303

Today's task in Captain's Log was to get the "run command" action working. Mark Anderson, author of A Tinderbox Reference, recommends getting the command line input working in the terminal first.

I have an app called Midwatch Entry in the Applications folder, which I know works if I launch it. It finds the correct Midwatch entry in the log, and enters the next 3 days' events in the $Text of the note.

I asked ChatGPT what terminal command I would use to launch it, and it came back with, open -a "Midwatch Entry".

Heeding Mr. Anderson, I opened Terminal and entered that text verbatim (after deleting the previous Midwatch entry and allowing a new one to be created by today's container) into the command line.

Voila! The desired result.

So on to the log...

To make a long, boring story short. I renamed the app MidwatchEntry, deleting the space, and then the action code runCommand("open -a MidwatchEntry"); worked like a champ.

Quotation vexation ensues with that space in there. Command line requires the quotes because of the space. Tinderbox requires quotes in the action code. Tried "escaping" quotes, but wasn't holding my tongue right or something.

The "Delete the friggin' space!" light illuminated, and there was much rejoicing.

I'm not sure I learned much, but I have some confidence that if I keep screwing around with this stuff I might learn something through osmosis.

I have to clean up after myself and add a line to disable the edict after it runs because it only has to run once. I don't know if there's an advantage to using a $Rule over an $Edict, they mostly do the same things, just at different frequencies. Edicts are much more infrequent. But I don't want it updating itself once it's done its thing.

Pressing on...

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13:29 Saturday, 16 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 79.16°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 289

Great blue heron silhouetted against the morning sun's reflection in a retention pond

After this morning's "work," I went for my walk. It looked cloudy and I wasn't sure the light would be favorable, so I didn't bring the OM-1 with the 75-300. Instead, I just stuffed the OM-5 in my vest pocket and headed out.

A pair of swallow-tailed kites whistled overhead, I wouldn't have been fast enough to get them anyway. It was fun watching them fly though.

I mainly walk to get some exercise, but I carry a camera because I "see things" that "look like a photograph." And I usually want to get the walk done quickly, because there's usually something else I'd rather be doing than walking. (Other times I'd rather be walking when I'm doing something else. I'm a complicated and conflicted guy.) So there's always some tension on the photography piece.

I saw the blue heron and didn't think it amounted to much until I began to pass it and saw its silhouette against the light in the retention pond. Does it "look like a photograph?" I thought so, but I could be wrong. Other people are more talented than me. (I? Better writers too.)

I got back and made my breakfast, then went to the garden to water our new plants. They looked fine, not stressed at all. Then on to Publix to buy more eggs, mushrooms, spinach avocados, 78% cacao dark chocolate, deluxe mixed nuts (no 'lightly salted," alas), blueberries, and raspberries. On the way out I went down the ice cream aisle. BOGO on Ben & Jerry's!

Did I mention today is Mitzi's sister's birthday? The one who's staying with us?

Yeah, ice cream tonight.

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Do the Work

05:51 Saturday, 16 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.64°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 909

This is the post I was headed for last night before I got distracted by "the work." (That's sarcasm, btw.)

Anyway, I saw this post over at the Mac Power Users forum about the "optimization/procrastination trap," and I wanted to comment on it. I lurk in that forum, and anything I have to say about that post belongs in the marmot, not in Sparky's salon.

I watched the video at 1.5x speed because it's about that much longer than it probably needs to be. But it's a good piece, nonetheless.

I've seen this same phenomenon in photography, and exhibited some of it myself. People switch from brand to brand, format to format, each supposedly offering that special "secret ingredient," that will finally unlock their true artistic potential. Finally allow them to achieve their vision, if only they weren't hamstrung by the lack of depth of field control, excessive noise, tardy autofocus, insufficient dynamic range, a bad grip or the failure to retain value on the resale market!

I've stuck with Olympus and the four-thirds sensor format (micro four-thirds is the same sensor format, just a different flange distance) for almost 16 years now. Having said that, I've bought an absurd number of cameras. Part of that is because Olympus offered more or better features in succeeding generations, and I have this conditioned or habituated response to crave the newest or latest thing. But I've never felt that it was the format that was holding me back from being a better photographer.

I've always known it was about "doing the work." Someone mentioned the other day that "the cure for GAS is to get out there and take pictures!" And that's true.

But I do genuinely like the artifacts, the devices themselves. I irrationally want to buy another E-M1X because I think that body is just so frickin' amazing and I irrationally worry that the one I already own might not work one day. So much for my Buddhist "non-attachment." Well, maybe so, because buying the ventless LG dryer was, in part, an effort to scratch a spending itch that was more in line with "doing my best," than acquiring another camera. (You can only shoot with one at a time. Though it seems I'm now carrying two these days. Three, if you count the phone.)

Anyway, the gent in the video repeatedly makes the point that the point is "do the work." And, as I mentioned last night, I've lately been wondering what this old retired guy's "work" is supposed to be these days.

It's been much the same thing with software. Especially in the realm of PKM. In the early days of micro-computing, word processors were the new hotness. WordStar, Word Perfect, Word. I was a FullWrite guy for a while. Same thing with outliners. I think Arrange by Common Knowledge was the equal of Tinderbox in the pre-OS X days, superior in some ways.

But Arrange started out as a $495 app, that failed in the marketplace and was taken over and became a $49.95 app to manage web content. A truly early "PKM" app as that term is understood today ("Collect all the things.") It was way more than that, but it failed.

Tinderbox survived. And though I played with Circus Ponies', and Aqua Minds' skeuomorphic offerings (So pretty! So cool!), it was blogging that kept me wedded to Tinderbox. HTML output.

As with cameras, I have a kind of fascination for the applications themselves, what they can do, how they're designed. I looked at Obsidian, and LogSeq and Roam, apologies if I spelled any of those wrong. What saved me was the hype, and the learning curve. I'm skeptical of anything that gets a lot of buzz. And I'm too old, and too tired, to try to learn all the stuff the cool kids are doing. I'm not a cool kid anymore, and nobody's going to think I'm better looking or want to have sex with me because I'm using the hippest, coolest zettelkasten on the block. (I feel as though I should be wearing a beret and smoking an unfiltered camel when I even type that. Though that's more of a French thing.)

I once stuck my head in on emacs and ran screaming from the Terminal. And I think I'd have to wear crocs or something. I'm not sure. Thoughts, Jack? 😜

"Do your best, the rest isn't up to you." In order to "do your best," you kind of have to have some idea of what it is you're supposedly "doing." Mostly, these days, I'm blogging. I may get more involved in meat-space, but I'm not sure how that's going to work out.

So, here I am in my Battlestar Galactica t-shirt, Eddie Bauer shorts, Smart Wool socks and Skechers slippers (with memory-foam insoles! (To save my aching feet.)), banging away in the marmot, a Tinderbox document that's over a decade old.

What is "the work," Rogers?

I guess it's to "see what I think."

Maybe, if that's interesting, some of you might come along for the ride. And I'd like to "see what you think," as we go along.

So, if you don't have one, get a blog and drop me a note.

That is all. I've already violated my new "practice." I have my daily review to do. Should've done that before I did this!

("That's why it's called 'practice.'")

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20:18 Friday, 15 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.63°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 77% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 930

I mentioned the other morning that I watched Hallelujah again, and that something Leonard Cohen had said struck me, and I paused the video and wrote it down.

Another thing that struck me was something he said in an interview, either the same or another one, about the "urgency" he was feeling at that time in his life. He said something about a desire "to complete one's work."

I retired in 2013 because it was clear to me that my time was more valuable to me than what my employer was prepared to pay me. And I was fortunate enough to have a pension that met my basic needs, with a little to spare. Today, drawing Social Security and being married ("two can live as cheaply as one"), I'm not "rich" but I have plenty to spare after meeting my basic needs. Which is why I do more in the way of charitable giving than I have previously. And to political campaigns I believe in.

Anyway, "one's work," rang a little bell. When I watched that Schwarzenegger documentary series, I recall also being similarly struck by something he said about being "useful."

For much of the time I've been retired, I've tried to be "useful." I was the president of my condo association, and I spent about a year of unremunerated effort managing the reconstruction of a >$2M, 20-unit building. They were my neighbors, and some were my friends. I was glad when it was over, and I'd probably never do something like that again, but it was rewarding "work." (That price reflects only the "common property," basically everything up to the drywall. The total value of the building after all the interiors were finished was significantly greater.)

After I was kind of overthrown by a backroom cabal of investor owners, one of whom was, I thought, one of my best friends, I had a lot more time on my hands. I began to get involved in local efforts to address the climate crisis; and after 2016, local politics. I ran for an elected office, Soil and Water Conservation District, got the seat because I ran unopposed; and I attended a lot of meetings and presentations, trying to educate myself and getting to know the players.

Because I'd made some relatively significant contributions to one of our local candidates, I became better acquainted with some of the influential figures within the local Democratic Party. Eventually I was approached to run for another office, State Representative, as part of a larger effort in the state to contest every office.

That was a very educational experience, and no fun at all. I'm nearly four years out from that, and only now are the feelings beginning to fade to the point where they don't inform my opinions as strongly. I learned a lot, but like the rebuilding project, I'll never do it again.

After the election, I spent some time with the county party drafting a candidate handbook, a product the state party should have created and provided to all candidates in the first place. Even that was, in many ways, a frustrating experience. And once it was done, I largely ceased any personal involvement in local activities, except for supporting Donna Deegan's candidacy for mayor of Jacksonville. Her election last summer marked my departure from Twitter, another mostly toxic experience.

Apart from that, for the past few years I've been doing, mostly, nothing.

But Leonard and Arnold spoke to me, and I've at least started thinking about what it is I ought to be doing while I'm here, taking up space and breathing valuable oxygen.

I'm still a dad. And a grandfather. I'm not quite sure exactly what that entails when it comes to adult children, but mostly I think it's being available and accessible and checking in from time to time, reminding them that I love them. Caitie has rather serious anxiety while flying, so I make myself available by text when she's in the air if she needs to reach out to someone. Mostly my job is to reassure her it'll be all right, and make bad "dad jokes."

Because I donate to some environmental, conservation and planning organizations, I get a lot of emails about webinars and get-togethers and meetings and presentations. That stuff arrives via email, and I didn't "process" email when I "read" it. Mostly, I made a "mental note" to go back and look at something and see if it was something I wanted to sit in on, or attend. Inevitably, I'd remember it after the event.

So Captain's Log is already proving useful, as I can sit down first thing in the morning and "process" the email I'd logged that I wanted to review. It's in a handful of "log entries," instead of a seemingly interminable list that grows before my eyes as I'm trying to think about it.

As of this morning, I'm registered for four webinars, I've purchased tickets for a social event and added a public meeting on resiliency to the calendar next month while Mitzi is away and there are no car conflicts. That's what made this morning's review of everything since Monday feel more like a chore. Daily review is probably the way to go.

Anyway, all of this was intended to be the prelude to what I really wanted to blog about. I've written over 800 words in this post, so I'll wrap this up by noting that Tinderbox is helping me to figure out what my "work" is, and helping me find ways to "be useful."

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Midwatch Entry

12:45 Friday, 15 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 83.03°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 59% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 663

I decided that having the Midwatch entry query the ARANet4 every night wasn't as useful as an actual log entry as it may have been as an exercise in learning to have Tinderbox query data from outside of Tinderbox. At some point, I'll be running the log away from home on the MBP, though it just occurred to me that I could take that little sensor along with me. Anyway, I digress...

In doing the review this morning, where I learned that a daily review would be more appropriate than a weekly one, it occurred to me that it might be useful to have the $Text of the Midwatch entry contain the calendar events for the next few days.

Now, I don't intend to replicate the functionality of Calendar in Tinderbox; but it might be nice to have a quick reminder of the upcoming events in the next few days. Calendar events have alerts, but I'm sometimes taken by surprise by a Calendar alert because it wasn't "top of mind." (This most frequently happens when Mitzi creates the event. She usually tells me, but sometimes it's weeks before the event and I seldom look at the calendar unless it's to look for conflicts. I'm retired, sue me.)

(As a further aside, Calendar doesn't have a little "Summary" view in MacOS like it does in iOS.)

I knew there were some Calendar Actions for Automator, and so I figured I'd try to do something with Automator and AppleScript.

And, after a few hours of head scratching, searching and consulting ChatGPT and outright guessing, I got something working.

The Automator Actions are Find Calendar Events and Event Summary. I set Find Calendar Events to all events with start dates in the next three days. I started out with five, but that's probably way more than I need. I just need a couple of days' heads-up so I'm not surprised.

Event Summary creates a small block of text with "Summary, Status, Date and Time," for each event.

Those get passed to a Copy to Clipboard action, which does what it says.

Finally, a Run AppleScript action finds the Midwatch note, and pastes the contents of the clipboard into $Text of the Midwatch entry.

The two things I had to figure out were how to identify an existing note in the document, and how to get the contents of the clipboard into an AppleScript variable. (I couldn't figure out how to just set the value of $Text to the clipboard. I guess you can, but I figured out how to set it to a variable first, so that's what I did.) That was just, "set clipboardText to the clipboard as text", and that's the first thing in the script, everything else follows in a "tell application Tinderbox 9" block.

The key thing in the Tinderbox document is that a note is identified by its $Path. Since there's a new Midwatch entry every day, the path changes every day. I was able to re-use the AppleScript that created the $Path for a new note, and just added &"/Midwatch" to the AppleScript variable thePath. Then used "set theContainer to find note in it with path thePath". Then just "tell theContainer" followed by "set value of attribute "Text" to clipboardText" and a series of end tells.

I ran it, and it works! Amazing. It does make me pretty happy when something works, even if it did take a fair amount of effort and feeling stupid.

I'm leaving it there for the moment. I need to package it up so Tinderbox can access it as a "run command" action. That will be incorporated as an edict in the p_Midwatch prototype, and the last step of that edict will be to disable the edict, so it's not running in every Midwatch entry for every day. Just need it to run once when it's created and then disable itself.

But that's tomorrow's project. I'm awarding myself a meritorious afternoon off.

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Fish for Breakfast

09:39 Friday, 15 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.44°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 64

Great egret with a large fish in its bill.


I have quite a few of this kind of shot now, and it still amazes me that they can choke these fish down.

They're killers, though. Little doubt about that!

Not a great shot, I was hustling and it didn't seem too happy about me being there.

Excuses, excuses...

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Daily Review

06:12 Friday, 15 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.77°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 113

I think I've determined that I need to review the log first thing every morning, before I check the RSS feed, email, start blogging and so on.

I thought a weekly review might be enough, but that can get long enough to be a chore. A quick daily review in the morning should be sufficient.

I added a $Reviewed boolean Displayed Attribute to the p_Entry prototype for now. I'll set up an agent to collect unreviewed entries, so they're all in one container for easy scrolling and review. If I can't complete a review, it won't disappear in the preceding days, as I normally keep those days' entries collapsed in the outline.

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Go For Ventless

13:20 Thursday, 14 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.22°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 37% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 217

Got approval from CINC HOME to proceed with the ventless dryer procurement. Apparently, she's even going to kick in half. It's not a blanket approval. I made the error of mentioning there was a larger ventless, but it cost a lot more. Now I have to investigate that. Wasn't in stock in this region in November.

We learned that we have to have our dryer vent cleaned every couple of years, or risk fire and reduced performance from the conventional dryer. That was $125 last time. The guy said we should do it every year, but I think we could get away with every two. The dryer alerts you when there's too much back-pressure, indicating a build-up of lint in the vent. I think that's what put me over the top on the approval.

Anyway, now I have to go do "research..."

Update: That was quick. $800 more for the large one. Did a quick comparison shop, did not expect to get the veterans' discount for an appliance at Home Depot, but I did. Saved $110. Mitzi wanted the 5-year extended warranty, so that added a chunk.

Anyway, delivery scheduled for 3/29.

Looking forward to a significant improvement in our energy efficiency. I wish I'd known about these when we bought the place.

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A Bit of Gardening

11:54 Thursday, 14 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.41°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 40% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 167

Our humble plot.

Watched the Starship liftoff and then headed over to the Garden Club. Dave the Plant Man was there and we got some plants and some tips. We put in five tomato plants, but I'm afraid they won't be bearing fruit before we leave for New York this summer.

In addition to the tomatoes, we put in some sugar snap peas, pole beans, some spinach-thing I can't spell or pronounce. The bush beans are still producing so we're leaving them in, as with those leafy broccoli plants. One has gone to seed and we're going to let the pods mature and dry and then hang onto the seeds and see if we can plant them.

Still very little idea what we're doing, but we got some tips about where to plant each type of plant in the bed. Spread some Black Cow soil amendment over the whole thing. We'll see how it goes.

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06:27 Thursday, 14 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.16°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 331

In the vein of "doing one's best," I re-opened negotiations on getting a ventless dryer yesterday.

The HVAC maintenance guy came by to do the semi-annual checkup. Great young man. I talked with him about our present heat pump system, how efficient it is compared with newer ones on the market.

He said ours was "pretty good," (thankfully, the "anti-woke" mob was still asleep when the building codes were being revised) and that I'd pay a lot more money for just a little more efficiency if I bought a new one today. He also said that we had at least three to five more years on this system before we should consider replacement.

For those who are considering a new heat-pump system, he also mentioned that the industry will be transitioning to a new refrigerant, probably for environmental or climate reasons, in 2025 and costs will increase significantly. So if you're thinking about it now, you may want to look hard at whether to do it now. I haven't looked into it, I could be wrong.

Anyway, Mitzi overheard our discussion, and I took the opportunity to suggest that one of the best ways we could increase the energy efficiency of our home would be to get a new ventless dryer. While we're solar-powered, we dry clothes at night from time to time, which is an enormous electrical load. Running electricity through resistive heating elements to dry clothes just seems foolishly extravagant to me now.

I'm cautiously optimistic. There's also a sales tax holiday on Energy Star appliances in Florida. But the "anti-woke" mob also enacted a sales tax holiday for gas stoves because Biden was coming for our cook-tops!

The real challenge will come when it's time to re-paint the house. Choices have consequences, and in a warming world, in the "sunshine state," a dark home for aesthetic reasons seems foolish to me. But, "Happy wife, happy life" may win the day.

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ATBP: Like Tinnitus

06:18 Thursday, 14 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.99°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 76

After posting about wanting to own physical media, I read this piece at Resilience about the debate surrounding the term "Anthropocene."

My cognitive dissonance regarding the unfolding collapse of this civilization and the mundane, day-to-day insignificant issues that occupy so much of our time is like my tinnitus. It's always present, but I don't "notice" it until something calls it to my attention.

Moments to live. Be here now. Do your best.

Carry on.

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Movies: 4K UHD HDR

05:29 Thursday, 14 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.07°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 396

We watched the 4K UHD HDR Blu Ray edition of James Camerons' The Abyss the other night. I hadn't seen the movie in years, maybe decades. I had a favorable recollection, and I'd read some of the buzz about the 4K release.

The movie looks great in 4K, as one would expect. It's not the revelation that something like Mystery Men was. We watched the theatrical release, not the special edition.

I think the biggest attractions of The Abyss are the set designs, and the underwater sequences. I was an ocean engineering major and the movie pays some lip service to the deep water environment, but it's not much. And while a boomer was essential to the plot, it's not likely that a boomer would be playing around with an unidentified contact on patrol.

The plot is ok, but the ending is a bit of a mess. Maybe the special edition addresses that.

But the topic of owning physical media continues to bounce around, as I expect it likely will as the streaming industry undergoes its changes, and the possibility of favorite titles being made unavailable for marketing purposes or license disputes creates doubt and uncertainty in the minds of fans. Plus, the industry has proven you never really "own" digital media, you just have a revocable license of indeterminate duration.

That's the main reason why I've been buying physical media lately, for titles I think I'd like to ensure I can see whenever I want.

One significant downside of 4K Blu Ray is the physical media. It's much denser than DVD, and less tolerant of flaws or defects in the media. We had a couple of glitches in a brand-new, pristine disk. I wouldn't want to ever drop one of those disks data-side down on a floor, especially a hard one.

Just out of curiosity, I'd like to see an analysis of the energy costs of production, sale and distribution of physical media versus that of streaming titles. With physical media, those are likely high, but they're all at the front end, with likely similar to streaming playback demands. Streaming has costs throughout the title's availability, whether it's being viewed or not. There is the plastics issue with physical media as well.

Maybe we should just stop making and watching movies?

I think that problem is going to sort itself out relatively soon.

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Light and Variables

16:14 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.06°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 38

Here's an excellent explanation of how to get variables from Automator actions into your AppleScript within Automator.

I actually had this open on my iPad, but apparently it hadn't registered in my brain. But, it will now! 💡

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14:42 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.5°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 39

I think I've updated all my cameras to the correct time. I'm somewhat surprised that they were all an hour off, and that one or two weren't still on DST from the last time I forgot to change them

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Change: Added "Reply by email" to RSS items

14:17 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.32°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 56

I noticed that the "reply by email" link doesn't appear in the micro.blog edition of the marmot. That's because it's derived from the RSS feed. So I've added that link to the RSS item template.

This is also kind of the inaugural post in what may become the "Change Log."

Let's see how this works...

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Rocket Science and History

10:53 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.32°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 35

I subscribe to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) email list, and periodically get an email of greater or lesser interest to me. This is one of the greater ones. Pretty cool story.

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What's Up, Doc?

10:29 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.01°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 77% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 223

Another brown bunny.

Yesterday, after I'd shot the kite in flight and checked the image, I was excited to notice the anole in the bird's beak. I started hustling up to the corner to get around to a more open area over the preserve to maybe get some more shots.

A thought crossed my mind, unbidden, "Don't get greedy, be grateful." I slowed a bit and sure enough, when I got to the more open area, there were no birds to be seen. Would there have been if I'd hustled? I don't know. But I wasn't disappointed, I was looking forward to checking the images on the iMac when I got home.

And a couple of opportunities came up on the way home anyway, and I was happy for those too.

So this morning I didn't expect much, because yesterday was such a good day. Sure enough, no kites over the preserve. Nothing until I got to the clubhouse area where I'd seen a rabbit last week. I looked for a rabbit along the walkway but didn't see one where I expected to and decided that I wasn't going to get a bunny today either.

And there it was.

So, "let go" and "be open." Or just relax and enjoy the walk.

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Automating Progress

09:38 Wednesday, 13 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 62.28°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 597

The early part of this morning was spent creating a means of adding an entry to Captain's Log from Safari without leaving Safari. It could have been an all-AppleScript solution, but I wanted to try Automator first.

Some of the feedback I get is pretty negative on Automator, but of ShortCuts, AppleScript and Automator, the most approachable, to me, is Automator. Perhaps it's just because it looks familiar since it's been around so long.

Anyway, I figured I'd make a Quick Action (Service) that would capture the URL of the page I happened to be in, re-use the AppleScript for getting the entry title and the entry text, and finally making the log entry itself. So most of the action takes place in an AppleScript in Automator.

Automator meant I didn't have to "tell Safari" and deal with its object model. There's an Automator action that does exactly what I want, "Get URL."

I followed that with a Set Value of Variable action. I thought I could pass the variable directly into the AppleScript in Automator. The variable in "Set Value.." was "pageURL," and I thought I could just use that in a "tell Tinderbox..." statement.

The workflow worked up until the AppleScript, where it complained that the variable was undefined. So I asked ChatGPT if I could pass a variable from a Set Variable action in Automator to an AppleScript in Automator.

To pass a variable set in Automator to an AppleScript action in Automator, you can use the "Set Value of Variable" action to store the variable value and then access it in the subsequent AppleScript action. Here's how you can do it:

1. Add a "Set Value of Variable" action in your Automator workflow and set a variable name and value.

2. Add an "Run AppleScript" action after the "Set Value of Variable" action.

3. In the AppleScript action, you can access the variable set earlier using the following syntax:


set myVariable to (variableName of variables)


Replace `variableName` with the name of the variable you set in the previous action.

By following these steps, you can pass a variable set in Automator to an AppleScript action within the same Automator workflow.

That suggested to me that I needed to create the variable that would ultimately be the one Tinderbox used to set the $URL attribute early in the AppleScript by setting to the value of the variable from the preceding Automator action.

Welp, that didn't work either. Undefined.

I figured I'd give the chatbot another chance. Here's its answer:

In your AppleScript action in Automator, you need to access the variable value set in the previous action correctly. Here's how you can modify your AppleScript to retrieve the variable value and assign it to `theURL` variable:


on run {input, parameters}

set theURL to item 1 of input

-- Your AppleScript code using theURL variable goes here

return input

end run


By using `input` in the AppleScript action, you can access the variable value passed from the previous action. Make sure to adjust your AppleScript code accordingly to utilize the `theURL` variable correctly within the script.

And that worked.

I can't say I understand exactly why it worked, but I'm happy it worked. I've got a few ebooks on AppleScript and Automator and at least it's given me some clues to look for using Search. Might make things a little clearer.

Update: It's possible I misunderstood the first answer. In the first AppleScript (that failed), I used the statement:

set theURL to (pageURL)

I didn't write:

set theURL to (pageURL of variables)

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We're All Preppers Now

14:56 Tuesday, 12 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.09°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 59% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 56

In the unfolding catastrophe, we're going to want to try to turn to one another for help. That's why the idea of "social capital" is so valuable. Corporations try to divide us for their own profit. They don't care about us. If you don't care about your neighbors, then nobody will.

We're all in this together.

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Breakfast Take-out

10:32 Tuesday, 12 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.61°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 77% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 55

The OM-1 with the 75-300mm. Swallow-tailed kite with a lizard in its talons

Brought the same combo this morning and I'm glad I did. Guessing there are two nesting pairs in the preserve nearby. Go to Flickr and watch the sequence (arrow-left) as it transfers the anole from its talon to its beak.

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Difference a Year Makes

07:24 Tuesday, 12 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.99°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 0mph
Words: 425

AKMA noted that I've been paying attention to his blog, and I look forward to his new excursions from the day-to-day to the eternal. We all could use a little more of that around this joint.

Anyway, he linked to my micro.blog post from the other day, which still has my typo in the title. One thing leads to another, and I'm clicking around my micro.blog, which I something I seldom do. Anyway, I click on the Photos link in the nav bar and get this page.

I'm not sure how that page gets created, because I've posted more photos than that. Anyway, there's screenshot of the marmot, and I wondered what that was about, so I clicked on it and it's a post from just a little over a year ago. And what caught my eye was the screenshot of the Document pane of the Tinderbox Inspector window. 966 Notes, 377,351 words and 608 links in the marmot as of 18 Feb 23.

As of this moment, there are 1,480 Notes, 536,793 words and 1.047 links in the marmot. That's 514 more Notes (posts). The marmot's been around since late 2013 and in the last year I've added more than half the total number of posts than I'd written in the preceding decade.

That's what getting off of Twitter and Facebook will do for you.

I don't track my output here. It's not something I'm terribly interested in, I was just curious since I had a screenshot (snapshot) of that moment from about a year ago.

While you may have an account or a profile on some social media platform, "all your words are belong to us," to paraphrase something from a long time ago. The marmot is all mine, though I share it with you.

I think social media platforms are a net negative. While they lower barriers and reduce friction for people to interact on line, they do so to harvest our energy, our data, our souls.

I happen to think it's the corrosive, corrupted consequence of that misbegotten misunderstanding made by a marketer that, "Markets are conversations."

The commercial and the social are orthogonal concepts and dimensions. Trying to conflate them isn't "doing your best." It's about "making the sale." Whether it's the idea itself, or the products that poison us, it's all about making the sale.

Screw that. Look where it's gotten us.

"Begin with the end in mind."

"The end" is the place we're all headed for.

And it ain't the bank.

Figure it out.

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"You Can't Command the Consequences"

06:46 Tuesday, 12 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.53°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 0mph
Words: 237

I watched Hallelujah again last night. Rather, I finished watching it. We'd started it last week, but it's a two-hour documentary and we paused it. I don't think Mitzi and her sister were that into it, but I love it. So while they were watching some damsel in distress, princess and a dragon thing on Netflix, I finished watching Hallelujah in the Command Cave.

At some point, toward the end, Cohen is being interviewed about his late success and he demurs a bit saying, "You put in your best effort, but you can’t command the consequences."

I paused the playback and wrote that down. Partly because I love alliteration and the phrase "can't command the consequences" was arresting to me. And partly because it's a restatement of something I've learned, "Do your best, the rest isn't up to you."

We, in America, might be familiar with that notion in the aphorism, "It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game that counts."

It's non-attachment to results, in Buddhism. It's the attachment, the desire, that leads us astray. Shifts our focus (everybody loves writing about focus these days), from the action to the objective. You can't control the objective, all you can control is your action, which is where your focus should be.

Yes, you must begin with the end in mind. But everything that matters is in between.

Great documentary.

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Overhead 3-12-24

06:35 Tuesday, 12 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 48°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 0mph
Words: 56

Clear sky this morning. Star trails 30 minutes looking north.

The orange blur at the top of the frame is my big giant head, because I always forget how wide the fisheye is.

A lot of satellites, but you probably not big enough to see in this post. Larger version at Flickr.

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Like, "Nobody could have foreseen this..."

12:27 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.32°F Pressure: 1025hPa Humidity: 50% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 185

Don't move to Florida.

And if you can leave, get out.

While there's still time and people dumb enough to buy your place. This doesn't get better.

The "insurance reforms" are all in favor of the insurance companies and to the significant disadvantage of the insured. You may think you have insurance. You may have the receipts for all the premiums you paid. Good luck collecting on your claim. The board is tilted in favor of the insurance companies.

Almost because it has to be. Or there would be no insurance here. And therefore, no mortgages. And therefore, no housing market.

For now, I'm pretty confident USAA will be good to us. But I don't know for how long. There's a lot of activity duty and retired military in Florida. I don't know how much of USAA's portfolio is located here.

If I could, I'd leave.

And this was all entirely foreseeable. The article doesn't maintain that it wasn't, but it's the excuse I can already hear from the Republican Party of Florida, which has owned and operated the state for more than a generation.

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Tripping Around the Blogosphere

11:07 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.05°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 51% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 170

Jack is posting from the future! ("We're livin' in the future and none of this has happened yet.") I note that Jack's post claim's it's 15:20, while here in slow lane it's only 11:09. (I have screenshots, Jack!)

Garrett likes cedar waxwings, as do I, but I really dig decay. It's been nice seeing Loren posting on the regular. Bird photos always welcome. We have snipes here too.

AKMA is putting in his miles, one foot in front of the other, tending souls and soles, as it were.

I started following Chris Wiegman a year or so ago, I think, while he still lived in Florida. I'm pleased to know he's, literally, "in a better place." Florida can bring ya down. Life is weird, and all we really have are moments to live, and each other.

One Foot Tsunami (Paul Kafasis) is a reliable source of worthwhile links. And yes, 50% of people have below average intelligence. I think. "Median," "average," I get confused.

I love the blogosphere.

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10:29 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.25°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 53% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 127

Better living with chemistry? Airboat in a retention pond spraying chemicals to counteract the effects of other chemicals

Kind of a nothing shot (with the OM-5), except for the story it tells. I'm sure the guy must go to larger retention ponds where an air boat isn't as absurd. At least it's a small one, and very quiet.

But what he's doing there is spraying chemicals into the retention pond to control (prevent) the growth of algae and unwanted aquatic vegetation which thrive because of the fertilizer we spray onto our lawns.

It's a self-licking ice cream cone for the landscape and chemical fertilizer and herbicide industries.

But you tell me over and over and over again my friend Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction
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Breakfast of Champions Part Deux

10:08 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.01°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 56% Wind: 5.99mph
Words: 69

Wood stork caugth catching its breakfast.

Before I had my breakfast, this wood stork had its. Brought the OM-1 with the 75-300 this morning. It was 50°F, so I wore a sweatshirt and my vest, which has nice pockets, into which I stuffed the OM-5 with the 14-42mm EZ pancake zoom. Fits well. Double-OM morning.

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Breakfast of Champions

09:56 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.15°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 55% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 247

Photo of a colorful breakfast

Kind of a "cheese sandwich" post, almost literally, for any who recall what those were.

I'm a creature of habit, so I don't have to think too much. I have this nearly every morning as long as I'm not in a hurry or out of something. It's two extra-large Eggland's Best eggs, a few sliced baby bella mushrooms, a large handful of spinach, black beans, turmeric, black pepper, avocado and hot sauce.

Basically, sauté the shrooms and the spinach (you can just put a cover over the pan, it'll take a while) while you're mixing the eggs, turmeric and black pepper in a bowl. The turmeric will clump up and stick to the side of the bowl, but the spinach takes care of that. Add the beans, and after the spinach is reduced and bright green, put it in with the eggs and stir well.

Pour that whole thing back into the same 8" frying pan, cover and go slice your avocado and do some cleanup. By the time you're done slicing the 'cado, washing the bowl and spatula and putting those away, it's probably done.

Slide it onto a plate, add hot sauce and eat. Might need to let it cool.

I used to make it with shredded cheese, but I decided that was unhealthy so I substituted spinach. It tastes great and ensures I don't get hungry until after noon.

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Local News

07:28 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.01°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 67

"All politics is local." Which is why local news is so important. We're still relatively fortunate here in northeast Florida that we have some good local news outlets. May not always be that way, but for the moment...

Speaking of "prurient," sometimes local history is newsworthy, or at least, interesting.

And this reminds me that I need to fire up Notes From the Underground ("It's darker here").

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07:25 Monday, 11 March 2024

Words: 21

Bit of a Dr. Drang vibe, and consistently interesting if often over my head. New to me, now maybe to you.

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BBC News

06:59 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 49.8°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 59% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 37

BBC News has an excellent RSS feed. Some duplication, but not much. Stories fairly consistently interesting and worthwhile, no bullshit. While there are the occasional stories of local tragedies, they are interesting without being morbid or prurient.

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Geekin' Out

06:01 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.46°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 616

The log project has prompted some renewed interest in computer stuff. There was a time when I found all of this fascinating, but in the last several years I guess I've grown jaded, or just old, and it's all been just frustrating.

It's still a little frustrating, but it feels as though it might not be entirely out of reach.

Captain's Log has produced Midwatch entries at 01:16 this morning and yesterday morning. Not quite midnight, but close enough for my purposes.

I know I need to create a prototype for Midwatch, because I don't want every "entry" to inherit the "run command" feature. But I can assign the Midwatch prototype the p_Entry prototype (prototypes can inherit prototypes). The only thing the p_Entry prototype does, for now, is set the Displayed Attributes for an entry, including $Created (date and time entry was made) and a couple of $URL attributes, so those are always visible in every entry.

I made plans to go visit Mom in April yesterday, and I was logging all the confirmation emails for the flight, the hotel and the rental car. The 14" MPB will accompany me, so the log is available, though not exactly as accessible as if it were on an iPad or something.

Another idea is to automatically create a weekly "Review" note, in part as a prompt, but maybe it will consolidate some data as well. Maybe as an agent, so it's not a new "entry" every week, but something at the top of the Log to go through. Haven't fully thought it out yet, but it's in mind.

Still casting about for something for the Midwatch entry to do, I decided to see if there was some kind of command line interface to the ARANet4. Seems like there might be, but I have to figure out how to do all this Python stuff. So that's a project for the next few days. Learn about Terminal and Python, maybe get the iMac talking to the sensor. I have the app on my phone, and of course the vendor doesn't offer any Shortcuts integrations. It's not like it's vital information, it's just something for me to learn about Terminal, "run command," Tinderbox, Python and so on. I'd also like to query my Ambient Weather weather station. I'm not sure if that's harder, but it looks harder. Need an API and stuff. Later maybe.

And do I want to download a small GOES image every night? Why? Well, maybe because I can? I don't know. Thinking about it. Which is a distraction from figuring out all the ARANet4 stuff. "Too many mind."

Anyhow, kind of excited.

Oh, I listened to a Mac Power Users podcast last night while the women were watching The Academy Awards. Couple of things struck me. CRIMP, which dates back 18 years or more. Been there, done that. Decided to stick with Tinderbox a few years ago, as it's kind of stuck with me for over twenty years. This Rules thing seemed kind of interesting. Not exactly the same as attaching an Automator action to an event, but it may have some application. The guest, Ryan J.A. Murphy, also spoke about using Obsidian to capture family stories, which was kind of an eerie coincidence ("There are no coincidences."), but I think Phil Nunnally mentioned something exactly like that at the Tinderbox meetup. Maybe it's something going around in the PKM space. (A more industrious man, maybe "courteous" would be the right word, would listen to the whole thing again and find the spot where he thought Phil mentions that, and link to that moment.)

Anyway, cool podcast to listen to at 1.5x speed.

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05:57 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.46°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 82

Wood Stork enjoying some afternoon thermals

Did a late walk yesterday, in the afternoon. There were several birds overhead, including a vulture and a swallow tailed kite, but these wood storks are always impressive. Only had the 14-150mm on the OM-5 with me. I'm just going to start carrying the 75-300mm with me from now on. Maybe stuff a compact in a pocket if anything wider looks appealing.

Lovely day yesterday.

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Night Sky

05:52 Monday, 11 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.46°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 36

From GOES East SE Sector at 0521 EDT

Yesterday I learned about this site, and now I have several bookmarks in my Climate bookmarks folder.

The peak of our civilization.

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Time Travel

09:18 Sunday, 10 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 61.52°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 641

Too many ideas, too little time.

Or knowledge.

Wasted a lot of time this morning looking for something akin to a URL for calendar events, like there is for email. I think it's possible, but it's a lot more involved than I want to get into.

So I figured a simple contextual menu kind of thing where you select some text that looks like a date, do a keyboard shortcut and you go to that date in Calendar.

Well, there's almost something like that built into MacOS. When you select some text that looks like a date, 3/11/24, say...

Well, I just learned something else new! I moved the mouse over that text and got the data-detector dotted rectangle. The example date I chose had no events and I wanted to see what a date that had events looked like. I edited the date to a day I know has events, and now the data detector doesn't work. Weird.

But, what I was going to point out before I got dazzled and then disappointed by MacOS, is that the contextual menu invoked when you select that text has an entry to... OY!

I just went up to select that text just to make sure I wrote the menu item from the contextual menu correctly, and I got the data detector rectangle, this time just around 3/11, not 3/11/24! WTF, Apple??? Maybe it takes a few seconds? I don't know.

So when I edited the previous date, it appeared as though data detector would no longer "work." After writing some more text, going back to it "detected" 3/11 and gave me a look at that date and the option to create an event. When I wrote "3/11/24" in the paragraph above, I got the data detector rectangle around the whole date again. (And it works with the quotation marks around it.) And the "3/11" immediately following "detected" works too.

June 17 2024 13:30

Let's see what happens with the date above, which was the date I was "practicing" with before.

Yep, data detector works. Oddly, it doesn't work in TextEdit, which was where I was experimenting. Fortunately, I don't do much work in TextEdit. Just tried it in BBEdit and it doesn't work there either. Don't even get the "standard" contextual menu. Probably a setting in BBEdit prefs I have to enable, I haven't looked.


If you don't get a data detector indication, you can select a date and control-click or right-click, and get a contextual menu item to "Show This Date in Calendar..." Sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't work in TextEdit, don't know why. Doesn't work at all in BBEdit. Weird.

You can also go to System Preferences->Accessibility->Motor->Alternate Control Methods->Alternate Pointer Actions and set something like F12 equal to right-click, invoking the contextual menu without touching the mouse or trackpad.

The idea, one of too many, was to be able to be in the log on the phone with someone you need to schedule something with, and have a quick way to get to the calendar for that date to see if you're free.

I didn't know (or had forgotten) that data detectors had that functionality and were enabled by default in Tinderbox.

So, yay! Now you know, and I've saved you a couple of hours out of your life.

So even though it seems like it's hard to get a simple URL to a calendar event, MacOS will let you view your calendar for that day in Tinderbox, which is cooler than switching to Calendar. Solid win. If you do want to go to Calendar, just double click in the popover window. It will create a new entry when you go to Calendar though, so you'll have to delete that blank entry.

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06:10 Saturday, 9 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 83.77°F Pressure: 1003hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 4mph
Words: 598

So the "Midwatch" entry didn't work. Rather, it worked as intended within Tinderbox, I just didn't fully understand that intention.

A quick trip the forum got a prompt reply from Mark Anderson. The Create command will only create a uniquely named note. All of my Year, Month and Day notes are uniquely named, but to create a note with the name "Midwatch," in every Day note requires a little finesse.

If you add the $Path of the note to the name, and it's unique within that path, as Midwatch is intended to be, then Create will oblige. And to do that we construct it with a bit of Action Code thus:



Since the Edict had worked yesterday when I first implemented it, it declined to do it today. Once I revised the Edict as above, it worked in Saturday. Of course, it appeared at 10:21 a.m. when I revised the Edict. I'll be interested to see what time it creates it tomorrow!

As regards Research, I'm uncertain and troubled. As I was playing around this morning with the Edict, trying to understand what was happening, I had both the iMac and the MBP awake. The Inspector window was open in both machines, though not necessarily on the same note. On the iMac, I witnessed the contents of the Inspector window change without any interaction from me.

I'm working now with Tinderbox shut down on the MBP. I'm going to create a very small test file and do some more testing. But I think it may be problematic in some way to keep the same document open on two machines at the same time. Maybe not, if I'm not working on both machines within seconds or minutes of each other, which is what I was doing this morning. But a smaller file should be simpler to help understand the behavior.

Jack is worried that perhaps I may be creating "complicated workflows." I think there's little chance of that, relatively speaking. First, I'm not that smart.

Second, I think the automation I'm creating is rather straightforward, certain particulars notwithstanding. And, for now, it's mostly just doing basic infrastructure.

I will be playing with the "run command" action to see if I can reach out to other services from Tinderbox to do something useful. Mostly this is intended to help me learn how to do it, something I've never done in Tinderbox before. And the only way to learn Tinderbox is to use it.

And use it.

And use it.

After that, I plan to build some Agents to gather related notes, if only the "Change:" entries to create a Change Log. But probably something for healthcare or medical and something for travel too. But Agents are usually pretty straightforward.

I also hope to learn more about linking notes within Tinderbox to see what advantages there may be to exploiting that facility.

For now, this is just baby steps. But even at this early stage, I'm quite excited about what document affords me in terms of recall. I used to have a pretty good memory. I'm not leaning into dementia at this point (yet), but it isn't quite as reliable as it once was. This is giving me greater confidence that I'll be able to recall things with some ease when the need requires, and that gives me a little peace of mind.

I am having fun. But I also feel as though this is time well spent. Invested, really.

And it was great chatting with Phil Nunnally in the meetup this afternoon too.

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Cedar Waxwings

01:18 Saturday, 9 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.93°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 185

Small number of cedar waxwings perched in a tree

I went out this morning with the E-M1X and the 40-150mm/f2.8 Pro with the MC14 1.4x teleconverter mounted. There was one swallow tailed kite, but it was pretty far away. It seems like the teleconverter adds a bit of chromatic aberration. Shot wasn't compelling enough to share it.

Thought I'd be shut out when I saw these cedar waxwings flock to this tree. Had kind of hoped I'd get a shot of them all going airborne, but they didn't seem like they were in any hurry and I wanted to get home.

It's a much heavier rig than I normally carry, so I used the Cotton Carrier G3 vest. At least I got more of a workout. I couldn't have carried this setup for 3.3 miles on a sling without getting a painful knot between my shoulder blades. As it was, I felt it a bit in my quads, and toward the end in my calves. I wasn't booking along by any means, but I wasn't sauntering either.

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Gives Me GAS

23:03 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.26°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 63

OMDS recently released a 150-600mm/f5-6.3 IS zoom lens. It's only $2600!

Normally, the weight and the price would combine to prevent any GAS ("gear acquisition syndrome") pains.

Then I read a blog post like this, and click on all the pics.

It's still in the "very unlikely" realm, but we'll see how I feel toward the end of the year.

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12:00 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.01°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 349

I'm kinda diggin' this 14" MacBook Pro and so I want to be able to move back and forth between the iMac and the laptop without a lot of futzing around with open files and so on. So I'm trying a little experiment.

I duplicated Captain's Log and renamed it iCloud Test copy on the iMac. The AppleScript automations won't work, but that's not important for this test. I wanted to see what happens when I have the same document open on two instances of Tinderbox on different machines.

I repaired to the recliner and launched Tinderbox which had been closed with all windows closed at quitting. I opened iCloud Test copy and made three entries. Then I closed the MBP and went and watched Jeopardy!

I got the Final Jeopardy question about Ephesus right, only because BAINBRIDGE (CGN-25) made a port visit to Antalya, Turkey in like, 1989(?), and we had a Navy chaplain on board who was also the tours coordinator and we shared a stateroom. He went to Ephesus. I vaguely recall him telling me why he went to Ephesus, something about an apostle or something. It took me the whole jingle time to dredge that memory up from the mists of time, but I was quite pleased with myself.

Anyway, came back to the iMac to see what might be up with iCloud Test copy.

I was surprised to find that my Tinderbox window had shrunk in size and moved to the bottom left corner of my iMac's screen. But there in the iCloud Test copy tab was the document I'd edited on the MBP, and there were the three entries I'd made!

I'll leave both versions open tonight and see what kind of contention arises when both create a Saturday container, and each Saturday creates a Midwatch entry. I'm guessing things will get pretty fouled up at that point, but we shall see.

I recall a Bloom County comic with that really smart kid doing something the others didn't understand, and the punchline was "You can't argue with research!"

Words to live by.

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07:23 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.03°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 78% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 241

I'd added the idea of creating a Midwatch entry to each new day's entry in the log. Worked on it today. At first I thought I'd have to check the time, etc. Did a bunch of reading at aTbRef about date and time comparisons.

Finally the lightbulb went off. Who cares?

Wrote a simple Edict in the p_Day prototype,



Once it's "created," it won't do it again. One and done. Keep it simple, dumbass!

Then I recalled I wanted to create a change log to document how it's been evolving. So I logged that idea.

Then I solved it by deciding I'd just enter "Change:" (with the colon) in the $Title of entries documenting changes to the log.

An Agent can gather all those as a separate "Change Log."

So then I entered, "Change: Added Edict to p_Day to create note Midwatch". Put the code for the Edict in the text.

Tomorrow I'll work on something for it to do, but it already has one nice use. With the first entry already created, if I'm going to create a manual entry all I have to do is hit Return. If there is no first child in the Day container, I either have to remember to hit Shift-Return to create a child, or make the entry and then hit Tab to make it a child. The scripts will create a child in the container automatically.

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Still diggin'

06:24 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.07°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 791

One of Dave Winer's favorite mottos. Since this blog's mascot is a large ground squirrel, and I spend a lot of time running down rabbit holes, I figured it was appropriate.

I spent some time reading about LaunchBar and its clipboard manager. Not because I care about rtf links on the clipboard, but because I have two utility apps that do the same thing, only LaunchBar does a lot more. So I've quit UnClutter and I'm going to try using LaunchBar as the clipboard manager.

I got an email today from my healthcare provider saying I had an overdue balance of $39. I'd called about that bill when I first received it, and the rep I spoke to said she thought it was a coding error and she was going to "send it back to coding."

I didn't have the log then, so I only have a vague recollection of when this call took place. I know it was after the date of service, naturally. So I called today, immediately after I got the email. I "logged it," and made the call while I was still in the note. Shelby was my rep this time, because I asked for her name and wrote it in the log entry, told me that the charge had been resolved yesterday and just cleared from my account this morning, but I got the email at 11:10. Anyway, I checked my account in the portal and it does appear that I have a zero balance. But if it comes up again, at least I'll have a better idea of the history!

Yesterday I got a call from a neurological diagnostics provider, I'm to have a nerve conduction test or something. I was supposed to have it before my neurology follow-up (my toes are numb - probably muscular-skeletal) later this month, but they don't have any openings until May. So I booked the May appointment and noted in the log that I had to contact my provider to reschedule the follow-up.

After speaking with billing, I called the neurology people and rescheduled the appointment. Logged it. I'd entered the appointment in Calendar while I was on the phone, because I had to check for conflicts.

In reading about LaunchBar's clipboard manager, I also read about its facility with scheduling appointments. That seemed like something that might be worth learning.

I've mentioned before that I'm a pretty regular blood donor here, and I received an email that the bloodmobile will be here a week from Tuesday. I don't need the car for that, and I know I'm not doing anything on the 19th, so I logged it, clicked on link to go to the web site to book the reservation. Then I tried that fancy LaunchBar action to add it to Calendar. Worked pretty well after I consulted the manual again.

Anyway, I'm diggin' the log. I think it's going to make things a lot simpler for me. I've entered some "old" information from past emails that I've been kind of tracking "mentally." Now I don't have to worry about that.

I got an email yesterday from the president of the North Florida Land Trust, but it was one of those blasts to the membership. As it happened, he wrote about the annual meeting I mentioned the other day:

As with any meeting, I played ‘the tape’ back in my head and realized that I perhaps did not articulate the three things that we need going forward in as simple a way as is my typical style. So, let me try as a follow-up. We need three things: money, members, and land.


So, we aren’t quite as flush as we seem.

My, what a coincidence. Especially since a sentence in my email criticizing their presentation was, "It also isn't clear to me, at all, why you would ever need any money from me if the state has made NFLT so flush with cash."

Anyway, logged it.

Now I've blogged it.

Some lingering antipathy to that whole situation made me go to the Matanzas Riverkeeper merch page today and buy a new ball cap, a shirt and that "buff" thing. They're a small organization, they deserve more support, and I wanted a new hat. I wanted the tan shirt, but they didn't have it in my size. They had something I'd never seen before at check-out, "Track with Apple Wallet." I selected it, but nothing has appeared in my wallet. Maybe I'll get an email receipt with a link or something.

Speaking of coincidences, ("There are no coincidences."), in that March 2023 archive is a post called The Marmot Goes Down Rabbit Holes.

What can I say? Spring is in the air or something.

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Rabbit Holes

01:50 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.24°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 955

One of the things that came up in the Tinderbox Forum discussion on using AppleScript with Tinderbox and Mail, was getting a rich text formatted link into the text of a note.

If you used AppleScript to get the URL for an email and placed it on the clipboard, it appeared in UnClutter, my clipboard manager, as clickable link. That is, click on it and it opened that email. But if you then pasted that same link into the $Text of a Tinderbox note, it was just text, not a clickable link.

It turns out that if you enter a space after that text, Tinderbox would automatically make it a link. It just needed something like a prompt.

It became irrelevant for my purposes, because it was also easy to use AppleScript to populate a URL attribute in a log entry, and that is, by design, clickable. And it kept the raw link out of the text as well.

One of the most experienced Tinderbox and AppleScript users posted an AppleScript that would get the email URI and then run a terminal command to convert it into rich text format with the subject of the email being the clickable text, and place the result onto the clipboard.

While that wasn't required for my purpose, I tried it out to get some more experience with AppleScript and the Terminal. Well, the only thing that appeared on the clipboard on my machine was the text of the subject line.

Thinking I may have omitted something obvious, I rather foolishly asked if that were the case. The answer was "No," but then I got a six paragraph commentary about using third party apps to do things that MacOS is perfectly capable of doing itself. Example:

Those can provide benefits in some situations, and can be fun to play around with. But when I’m trying to think and get work done, as opposed to play with the process, I’ve found they can be more trouble than they’re worth.

I didn't want to get into it with the guy in the forum, I'm certain he intended to be helpful, but I could have done without the commentary.

There's a certain personal attraction to various types of "purity." In my case, in the matter of blogging, it's the use of static html on a server at a URL that I have some control over, as opposed to some of the other approaches to blogging where your "content" is served up "dynamically," and woe be unto you if you don't keep up with the security updates.

Some people fetishize "plain text." A "note" can only be a plain text file, and then you use the file management and automation facilities of the OS to organize those files into whatever structure you feel best supports your needs.

There's nothing really wrong with that, except I think it gets a little tedious sometimes, proselytizing about it. I suppose when you have the "floor" in a "forum," and a great example of the superiority of your view is made manifest by the preceding question, well, it's an opportunity that is simply too hard to pass up. They can't help themselves.

Anyway, I'm fortunate in that I'm not trying to "get work done," because I'm retired. And I suppose my thinking is impaired by any number of personal flaws and failings, the least of which is perhaps my affinity for third party apps.

It did cause me to dive down a rabbit hole, trying to understand what was going on with my clipboard. I ran the terminal command in Terminal, minus the part about putting it on the clipboard, typing in the values of what had been variables in the AppleScript. The output was a lengthy bit of text that I took to be rtf markup. When I ran the command again, this time with the clipboard bit, what seemed to appear on the clipboard in UnClutter was just the subject of the email, as before.

Then I went for my walk.

I really don't know why it doesn't appear as an rtf link on the clipboard in UnClutter. I'm not sure it matters, as the amount of stuff I "don't know" about Unix and AppleScript and terminal commands could fill volumes. I'm usually content to know how to do something without really understanding why it works. This limitation is exposed when something doesn't work, despite employing the seemingly correct "how."

Sometimes I pursue it, as with Tinderbox. Other times, well, life is too short.

When you ask for help, I guess you can't be too particular about how it's delivered.

As for third party apps, there are a ton of clipboard managers. There's one built into LaunchBar, a third party app that I use that could probably be replaced by Spotlight and AppleScript and Terminal. I suppose I could read about the clipboard manager in LaunchBar and get rid of UnClutter. I don't use the Files portion that much, and the Notepad is really just where I stash a bit of text I may want to use later that might scroll off the clipboard history.

But a clipboard manager of some kind is invaluable to me. I can copy a bit of text from a web site that I intend to quote in a blog post, then copy the URL, all in Safari, switch to Tinderbox and write my blog post, switching to whichever bit of text I need in the clipboard manager. No need to switch back and forth between Safari and Tinderbox. (Yes, I know CTRL-Tab makes that trivial.)

I suppose someone could point out to me that there's a clipboard manager built into Mac OS, I just don't know about it.

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Swallow-tail Kite

01:22 Friday, 8 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.21°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 216

Not bird lens, per se, but what I had. I don't see these often. A swallow-tail kite perched in a pine tree.

Whelp, I guess I should learn to just go with my first instinct.

I thought about bringing the 40-150mm/2.8 Pro with the MC14 teleconverter mounted, which would have given me a 56-210mm/f4 (112-420mm efl), which would have been useful for birds. I'd seen a few yesterday with the 14-150mm/f4-5.6 and it's not ideal for birds.

Well, it was getting cloudy and I thought I might have better luck with something as a landscape composition. Dumb move.

As I got toward the end of my street I heard some birds calling that sounded vaguely like ospreys, but not same as an osprey. It wasn't a "chittering" call either, which might have been bald eagles. I finally saw them above the trees and they were swallow-tailed kites!

I think I've only seen them twice before around here, and then just a single bird. Here were three or four! And all I've got is the 14-150! The 100-400mm zoom would have been best, but I don't do my morning walk lugging that thing around.

So, "The best camera is the one you have with you," rules applied and I did the best I could.

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Don't Think I'm Kidding

05:30 Thursday, 7 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.19°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 97

Thought about appending another paragraph to the previous post, but decided against it.

Read the entire linked article. It's not scare-mongering.

There is a bill coming due in Florida. When that will be, this year or a decade from now, I can't say.

But it is coming.

And you don't want to be here when it does.

I don't know what we're going to do. More importantly, I don't know what my kids will do.

But a reckoning is inevitable. Decades of denial, deceit and dereliction of duty won't be denied.

Someone's gonna have to pay.

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Don't Move to Florida

05:16 Thursday, 7 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.08°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 151

It's not like you're not welcome here. It's just that it's probably not a good idea going forward. Like, forever.

“Florida is one of the riskiest places from a climate impact standpoint that you can live in,” said Rob Moore, director of the flooding solutions team at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

And we have a state legislature, ruled by one party for more than a generation, that is in climate denial; and believes that "resilience" will solve everything.

Of course, the marmot isn't going to stop anybody. And if it were easy, I'd fill in the 'chuck hole and find a field somewhere safer to burrow. Somewhere way north of here, at a higher elevation, with a reliable source of clean drinking water.

No, the marmot's probably stuck here until a disaster makes the decision for us. But if you don't live here yet, you're lucky.

You don't have to.

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Society Garlic

01:04 Thursday, 7 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.94°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 33

Closeup of backlit society garlic blossoms.

The low angle light makes for some interesting shots. This is "society garlic," and it is kind of stinky.

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Bunny Wabbit

00:56 Thursday, 7 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.35°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 89

Small brown rabbit in shadow uncertain about what to do about the man pointing a camera at him. Or her.

Absolutely gorgeous morning today. Air was cool and crisp and sweet. I got started earlier than I have recently and there were no lawn mowers or leaf-blowers, few cars, low angle light. Saw this rabbit and it was quite accommodating with having its picture taken. Then I noticed the other one. It's not uncommon to see rabbits here, though I haven't seen one in quite a while. Perhaps because I wasn't out early enough.

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Captain's Log

21:23 Wednesday, 6 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.35°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 746

Progress has been rapid on my little "personal log" (plog?) project, Captain's Log. I can log email entries with a link to the specific email automatically included with whatever my thoughts were that prompted me to log it.

I've learned some things about Mail URLs or URIs - the bits of text that become links to the email in your Mail app.

Much of that has been documented in the Tinderbox Forum, and I figured I needed to get some of that recorded here. At least a link to the forum.

The advantage of Captain's Log over the marmot, is that Captain's Log isn't intended to be published (or exported, in Tinderbox terms). It functions best as a Tinderbox file and so I can take advantage of every feature Tinderbox offers without worrying about how it interacts with html export, specifically links to other notes.

Similarly, I can record things far too trivial to mention in the marmot, which is not to say that the marmot isn't filled with trivia.

I have a lot of ideas that I kind of think of and then forget. That's probably a feature and not a bug, as I'm sure I have far more ideas than I have time or ability to implement. But some of them re-occur to me at intervals, and so they must be something I want to do, so I should find a way to kind of help resurface them instead of just relying on some random external prompt.

Captain's Log is, itself, one of those ideas. I'd started similar efforts before, and got quickly discouraged and they fell by the way. It was working on the marmot and the Blog Test Platform in preparation for the Blogging With Tinderbox meetup that made me realize Captain's Log was achievable.

Right now I'm in the process of building the basic functionality of Captain's Log. The key feature was learning how to let Tinderbox take care of all the basic structure. It builds the outline by itself, once I created all the prototypes. So there's less infrastructure maintenance I have to perform (or recall), less chance for frustrating errors that have to be chased down, corrected and, hopefully, re-learned.

The other key element was getting information into the appropriate day's container automatically. The chronological structure of the outline makes that simple. Each log entry is identified by this present moment, and so it goes into "today's" container, which made it relatively straightforward (I had to have some help) to create an AppleScript that would create a new log entry.

So I can be in a completely different app when an idea occurs to me, and I can quickly add it to the log without leaving that app.

(I just added one right now, here in the marmot, without leaving the marmot. It occurred to me that I could have a "midwatch" entry automatically created each day. It'd have a "run command" action that would query some AI service for a knock-knock joke, or something. Maybe an inspirational quote. Who knows? Just a silly feature. I'd probably forget it if I didn't log it.)

If I was working in email or browsing the web, an idea would occur to me and I'd kind of make a "mental note" to do something with it, and then promptly forget. There must be some corner of my brain just filling up with forgotten mental notes.

Once I get functionality to an appropriate level, then I'll be working out the process. The most elementary function is as an aide memoire, to help me recall things like the last time I replaced the filter on the air handler.

But there will be some "review" process, where I look at ideas I've recorded and then think about next steps, if any. If there's an idea I want to pursue, that effort doesn't take place in Captain's Log apart perhaps from some long-form, journal-type entries where I "see what I think" about the idea. But I do need to identify a practice and periodicity of review. I'm not there yet, and it's secondary to getting the file and the supporting scripts tuned up — "Running light without overbyte," to quote a certain fictional orthodontist.

But there is an emotional component, a "sparks joy" element to having this come together with relatively little difficulty. And the help and suggestions from the community add a welcome social dimension to the effort.

Pretty cool, I think.

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Further to the Foregoing

04:18 Wednesday, 6 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.76°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 125

I wondered how much text I could paste into that little one-line dialog box you get from AppleScript. Turns out, more than will fit in that little slot.

I copied a fair amount of text from a web page, invoked the QA, pasted the text into the Entry field and didn't get an error. I also couldn't see the text. I hit return and got the notification from Automator, "Logged it!"

Switched to Tinderbox, and there it was in the $Text field. All the text I'd selected. I turned on the WordCount attribute and made it a KeyAttribute of the p_Entry prototype. 58 words were pasted into $Text. That's a pretty fair amount, I think.

Having too much fun. I should rest. 😜

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03:32 Wednesday, 6 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.71°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 451

Coincidences are either just happy accidents, or maybe a clue that you're on the right path. Toward what? Who knows? Your next life maybe.

Anyway, because I have a short attention span, I got attracted to an idea that I had while building the Tinderbox Blog Test Platform, and that was a daily log. Now, "daily notes" have been a topic of conversation in the PKM/Blogging/Outliner/Text files fetishist community for a long time. For the most part, I didn't see their relevance for me. I'm retired, I don't do much (by choice), and I just didn't experience the attraction.

But I do enjoy looking back in the marmot and recalling some events. There are some chores I perform that I have some hazy recollection of the last time I did them. There are things I think about that I don't post in the marmot that might deserve the "see what I think" treatment in a kind of journal.

So, my "Captain's Log" idea was born. In my hyperphantasic internal experience, when I read the words "Captain's Log," I "hear" them in William Shatner's voice. Not a volitional thing, just some phrases are encoded with actors' voices. "Little buddy," is always the Skipper. "Work!" is always Maynerd G. Krebs. I still hear my therapist ask, "David, what's going on inside you." It's exciting in my head, when it's not a nightmare. ("Who knows? Your next life maybe," sounds like the Oracle.)

I digress.

So the idea is to have a Tinderbox that exists to keep a chronological record of ideas, thoughts, events, interactions and so on that may have some utility in later recall. Something quick and easy to do, though longer-form text entries, a la "blog posts," are contemplated as well.

I put together the basic outline and then thought I could re-purpose some AppleScript from the marmot to make it possible to make an entry in any app I happened to be in, without switching to Tinderbox. That sorta-almost worked, and last night I asked for some help at the Tinderbox Forum at Eastgate Systems.

Help was quickly delivered, and I'm happy to report that I have a nice little Quick Action that I can summon from Mail or Safari to record a quick log entry. I don't know how much text you can enter in an AppleScript dialog box, but I don't need much I think.

Anyway, to the title of this post. Shortly after getting the QA up and running, thanking everyone involved and asking another question, I started going through my RSS feed where I happened upon this post.

And laughed out loud. Are we on the same frequency or something?

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The Insomnia Drafts

22:12 Tuesday, 5 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.78°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 1085

I received a reply to the feedback I offered on the event I attended on Saturday.

In the email I sent, I was very critical of the manner in which some information was presented to those in attendance. Not to be too elliptical, NFLT received some $400M in state revenue to purchase land or conservation easements. That was an astonishing amount of money for an organization that, to my knowledge, normally operated with an annual budget that was less than 5% of that figure.

Ordinarily, this would be good news. It wasn't the news, per se, it was the anecdotal account of the reaction to receiving it.

After describing the degree to which the president is connected in Tallahassee, one of the officials that accompanied him described the gales of laughter in the car on the drive back from Tallahassee, saying that he felt like they had made out "like pirates." After this official inexplicably offered his annual report in the form of a number of very bad haikus, the president corrected him and said that they'd "made out like privateers, and therefore, legal."

I had a visceral reaction to this. The program continued, and I couldn't immediately put my finger on what was so revolting about it.

It was on the ride home when Mitzi and I discussed that part of the program, her reaction was similar, that I was able to put my finger on it.

What was clear to me was that I had witnessed an account of the culture of cronyism in Tallahassee. Paul Renner, Speaker of the Florida House, represents a district in north Florida, not far from here. It was clear to me that this was a means of securing a legislative legacy for himself that is somewhat more redeeming than a record of performative legislation supporting Ron DeSantis' presidential ambitions, promoting division through culture wars, voter suppression and attacking marginalized citizens. All of that might be overlooked one day, given the unprecedented amount of money he was able to deliver to conserve undeveloped land in the region.

This is the same legislature that has steadfastly refused to expand Medicaid for more than a decade, leaving tens of thousands of Floridians without health insurance, and leaving billions of federal dollars on the table, which would go a long way toward alleviating many of the staffing challenges Florida is facing in its healthcare industry. (Florida faces a growing litany of challenges. "Parental rights" and "stop woke" not being among them.)

In any event, by the time I got home, I was angry and almost immediately began to write an email to the organization.

But I decided to sleep on it, and see if I still felt as strongly in the morning. Anger is a feeling, and feelings pass.

As these things go, I woke in the wee hours, still angry, and began composing the email in my head even as I tried to go back to sleep. Unlike the last time this happened, I didn't get up and just go write.

Well, I'm not sure it helped. It was the first thing I wrote that day, and I did go over the draft several times, trying to temper my remarks. Basically it followed the outlines of what I've related above, and that I found it inappropriate to the point of being offensive that they would relate this story to the members in attendance. I could go on at length about what that suggests to me, but I didn't and I won't.

Yesterday evening, about 36 hours later, I received a reply from the president. It was a lengthy, densely written piece that mostly defended his background and character, offered some flattery toward me and an invitation to get together over coffee someday. He did include a scattershot explanation of the nature of the $400M appropriation. (It was so large that before I wrote the email I was doubting that I'd heard the official correctly, and I had to do some online searching to learn that indeed, that was the correct amount.)

I think I expected one of three things in the way of response, ranked in increasing order of probability: A "You're right, we blew it. We'll do better next time. Thanks." Or, silence. Or, something along the lines of what I received, which never addressed the fundamental criticism.

My sister-in-law is still with us for a couple of more weeks. She's a social worker with a lot of experience. She said he was defending himself because he felt attacked.

I guess when you're at the top of an org chart for as long as this guy has been, when you walk the halls of power with a constellation of political luminaries (as dim as those may be), when you're feeling pretty full of yourself for landing a $400M appropriation, you're probably not accustomed to being criticized, and that it likely did feel like an attack.

So last night's insomnia was about my reply.

This is it.

Judy mentioned that I wasn't going to change him, and I know she's right. There's little point in responding to him directly.

The North Florida Land Trust does do important work that I support. The president was, as I understand it, specifically recruited for his connections to replicate the success he had in south Florida. He is a political animal, and this is the nature of the political ecology, and reality, in Florida.

I'm an insignificant donor. If I decide not to give to NFLT this year, the money will go to a similar organization doing related work.

If I remain a member, I don't think that I'll ever attend another annual meeting. What would be the point?

In an ideal world, receiving an appropriation of that magnitude would be a humbling experience. It would suggest a degree of trust and confidence in an organization's ability and integrity that, to me, might cause me to feel some trepidation. Gratitude, certainly, but a lot of humility too. And it would sober me, knowing the scale of the opportunity cost. That there are many deserving and underserved needs in Florida that will go on being underserved because that money was given to one mission.

I think there should be some awareness, some acknowledgement of that. And that any public mention of the appropriation would be made with the degree of sobriety that that awareness should engender.

But I don't live in an ideal world.

I live in Florida.

"We made out like pirates!"

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02:26 Tuesday, 5 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.6°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 164

Water droplets clinging to a bit of vertical spider web

Overcast today. Uninspiring. Brought along the Oly TG-6 and shot a bunch of frames with the "Grainy Film" filter, might put a couple up at Flickr.

This caught my eye. Used the OM-5 with the 14-150. SOOC.

Mostly this is to verify the workflow again. It's installed where the AppleScript calls it, and I've already checked to see if it moved the image to the correct folder, and it did. The real test will be in 2025, but at least I'm not getting any errors.

I'll be working in the Blog Test Platform TBX today. I have a few Buckaroo Banzai gifs that I'd like to post from time to time, so I'm going to borrow an idea from Jack Baty and see if I can get that set up in the BTP today and then bake it into the marmot.

Guess that's about it for now.

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Little Victories

09:37 Monday, 4 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.16°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 118

Yesterday's event was troubling in a way. I support the work of the NFLT, but I didn't appreciate the way some information was presented yesterday. I've offered feedback to the organization's president, but have heard nothing back. I don't know if he's seen the email or not, so I'll give it a few days.

But, in better news, I did get the Automator workflow to function "automatically." That is, on January 1, 2025 I should be able to run the Photos script and have the image moved to the correct folder without having to modify the workflow to update the folder path.

I didn't figure out the solution, I had help from the kind people at MacScripter.net.

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Schedule Conflict

02:21 Sunday, 3 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.46°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 97

One of the things I look forward to each weekend is the Tinderbox Meetup. I've gotten to know a little about many of the participants over the past couple of years, and it's a pleasure to see and hear from them each week.

Today, however, I'll be at an event for the North Florida Land Trust. The sun has come out again, after a night and early morning of thunderstorms, so the weather should be nice. (Part of the event may be outside.)

Anyway, just a shout-out to the TBX crew in case anyone misses me!

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Another Vote for the E-M10

07:00 Saturday, 2 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.83°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 101

If it's good enough for Taylor Swift...

This came up in the DP Review Micro Four Thirds forum. Initial report was that it was an E-M1. More research revealed it's the E-M10, though I don't know which mark. I think the Vintage Art Filter has been around since the II. And it looked like a lot of the shots she posted in the 'gram used flash, which the 10 has built-in and the 1 does not.

My daughter hasn't sold her 10 Mk2 yet. Maybe I'll send her this. Not sure she's much of a Swiftie though. Maybe?

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Another Bug In The System

06:10 Saturday, 2 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.47°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 1.72mph
Words: 28

I do things in the test platform, get them working, then forget to build them into the marmot.


Apologies for anyone who clicked through to a 404.

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Its Own Album

02:20 Saturday, 2 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.67°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 9

Figured I'd give the 45mm/f1.8 its own album.

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22:44 Friday, 1 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.23°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 582

Shot of some rowhouses along the sea shore in Northern Ireland in low-angle light beneath a gray sky.

The weather's been crap, so I haven't taken any pics, and I didn't want to write about Automator, which I both love and despise, and, oh what it might have been.

Anyway, I was thinking about the E-M10 Mk4 the other day because I'd just ordered another copy of the lens that I shot this image with. ("Never end a sentence with a preposition," I hear Mrs. Peretta in my head, every time.) It's the mZuiko 45mm/f1.8 prime.

I just got another black copy from KEH.COM for about a third less than I could get a new one from OMDS. I have a silver one, which is what I used for this shot, that I bought in January, 2012. (I paid $3.99 for faster shipping. Pre-Prime I guess.) I bought a black one back in 2021, which I gave to my son with the E-M10 Mk4. I bought it for the E-M10, because a silver lens on an all-black body looks dumb.

The silver one looks fine on all of my PEN cameras, I shot that pic with the PEN-F. (Northern Ireland, April 2018)

Since I used "Sparks Joy" on the last post in February, I didn't want to use it again so soon. But this lens does exactly that. It's a tiny thing, not as long as your thumb, smaller than a shot glass. 90mm effective focal length, into the telephoto range. At f1.8 it's very bright (and just don't start with the "equivalence" bullshit), and at that focal length, when you get near your subject, you get excellent background separation. I won't speak to the quality of the bokeh (or the "toneh"), well, actually I will. It's excellent.

Anyway, I wanted another black one for the OM-5, which is all black. The combination makes for a very small setup. Unobtrusive. You can get some great shots.

I've got the 45mm/f1.2 which is by all measures a vastly superior lens. But it's also bigger and heavier. You're not going to get away with slyly grabbing a candid. When that honking barrel swings your way, you notice. It's not huge by any measure, and by full frame standards, it's positively petite. But it's big enough that I'm much more comfortable shooting with it on the bigger bodies with a substantial grip, which makes the whole thing a much more imposing proposition.

Which is why the 45mm/f1.8 sparks joy. It's just this tiny little thing that punches way above its weight. If I could have only one lens, it'd probably be the 14-150mm super-zoom. Gets me maybe 80% of what I like to shoot. If I could have a 3-lens kit, it'd be the 14-150, the Lumix 20mm/f1.7 (another lens that sparks joy, although it can also break your heart being slow to focus), and the 45mm/f1.8. But I wouldn't be too sad if I could only have one lens and it was any one of those three.

That shot is SOOC ("straight of the camera"). Looking at it on the 27" monitor, I'd probably add some sharpening, but not much, and maybe go with a 3:2 crop. It was bitterly cold that evening, with a stiff wind. A better photographer might have stuck around for some smoother water on the beach and more of a reflection, but I was cold.

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Learning As We Go

03:35 Friday, 1 March 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.4°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 363

Still grinding away on figuring out how to use Automator. Figured I'd drop by here and wave at everybody.

Imagine my surprise when I didn't have a new March container already set up and waiting for me.

I checked my Blog Test Platform, which is where I developed the automation. There was March 2024, right where it belonged, in the 2024 container! Hmmm...

Head-scratcher. Tried a bunch of "jiggling the cable" stuff. Closed (saved) the file and re-opened. Quit Tinderbox and re-launched. Copied the working code from the test platform to the 2024 container (it was identical, but I'm easter-egging here).

I thought I'd better look at the prototype p_Year, which contains the Edict action code that 2024 inherited.

There, as one of its children, was March 2024!


I'm using local variables, $MyDate and $MyString, in the Prototype and therefore in the 2024 Container. In the 2024 Container, there was the numeral "1" at the end of the Action Code. "1" means "True." I'm guessing the Edict ran first in the Prototype, which is above the archives in the Outline order.

When it ran in 2024, it seemed to be echoing the work of its Prototype, noting the existence of "March 2024" in its Prototype and so just returned a "1". Like, "Checks out, Dave. Everything's cool."

The Edict was also checked as "Enabled" in the Prototype, as I thought it would inherit that setting when the Archives container creates a new 2025 container next year, and it's OnAdd action will assign that container the p_Year Prototype, and it wouldn't be helpful if that Edict didn't fire and create "January_2025" automatically, requiring me to manually enable the Edict, you know, like an animal.

I consulted aTbRef and the Enabled check box controls the $EdictDisabled attribute, which is intrinsic and therefore not heritable. I can disable it in the Prototype and not affect the status of the Edict in the $Created notes.

Once I disabled it in the Prototype, and deleted that March 2024 container, it ran automatically in 2024, as designed. I'll update the Test Platform accordingly.

We'll see what happens on April Fools' Day.

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