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


11:16 Thursday, 30 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 85.66°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 51% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 365

I finally finished The Demon of Unrest last night. I loved it, but I do think it lacked a little of the narrative flow of most of Larson's other books. There was probably the usual amount of back-and-forth in time and space, but it felt "bumpier," this time. It probably didn't help that I started out reading it as an ebook, and then shifted to a hardcopy because that was a better experience for me in terms of reading it more quickly.

I fiddled too much with the ebook version, trying to highlight passages, looking things up and dealing with distractions.

The thing I think I found most revelatory was the degree to which the southern planter class was intensely devoted to this exaggerated sense of "honor." And I wonder to what degree this evolved as a kind of psychological defense in terms of a sense of "moral goodness," or righteousness, while enslaving humans and exploiting them economically and sexually.

There is so much to say about the American south and the effects of slavery and planter class culture. Much of it, I think, still exists today. I see it in Florida, where there are essentially two classes, the privileged and the ignored, divided chiefly by wealth and poverty. Race plays significant a role as well, and poor people of color are doubly damned. Florida has never been among the best half of states in infant mortality, and it's not white babies dying that makes it so. And because it's not white babies dying, the state has never made it a priority to do anything about its abysmal performance.

When I hear or read people opposing the removal of Confederate monuments, or opposing removing the names of Confederate figures from public buildings or public spaces, claim that these things represent "heritage, not hate," I wonder exactly what they believe that heritage is, and why it's worth venerating or memorializing?

Because, from my recent reading of the history, that heritage is chiefly one of hate. Hatred of "the North." Hatred of Blacks.

And probably more than a little bit of self-loathing, that this exaggerated sense of "pride" in "heritage" is intended to soothe.

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Travel Plans

08:23 Wednesday, 29 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.96°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 203

We're headed up to DC on Friday and I've been overthinking what I want to bring, camera-wise. I'm pretty much settled on the OM-5 and a few small primes.

The real question I've been going back and forth on is what to carry in the new sling I bought. I was going to carry the Stylus 1s, because it'll fit with the iPad mini (but it's tight), and the long focal length makes for good out the window shots. But the little Stylus XZ-10 weighs just a little over half of what the 1s weighs (7.7oz) and takes up much less space. It has a 5x zoom 26-130mm efl, f1.8-2.7 and I've had good luck with it out of airplane windows before.

But then there's the XZ-1, which I just adore. It's neither as wide nor as long as the XZ-10 at 28-112mm efl, it's a little bigger and weighs a few ounces more than the XZ-10. But I like playing with art filters, and the XZ-10 has more of them with internal variations you can choose from for most of them.

I think it'll be the XZ-10. The tyranny of choice.

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Pentax MX-1

08:04 Wednesday, 29 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.88°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 182

Closeuop of garden flowers

Brief moment of panic yesterday when I (re-)learned that you can't charge the Pentax MX-1 in camera. Couldn't find the charger in the drawer full of chargers. Spent an hour or so cleaning up my desk (got about a third of the way through), when it dawned on me that it might be in the box. This camera came with the box and all the docs and I hadn't thrown it away. Quick trip to the closet and there it was!

I'd been wasting some time watching YouTube camera videos and decided I wanted to play with the MX-1.

(The real subject of this post should be the wasteland that YouTube has become with regard to camera videos. But what does one do in a wasteland but waste time?)

Mitzi and I biked over to the garden and I brought the MX-1 along. Tough to compose with just an LCD in that much sunshine, but I got a few shots. More up at Flickr.

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09:16 Monday, 27 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.29°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 71

Ray Spicer is a classmate of mine from the Naval Academy. I think he was also an ocean engineering major, but I know we took several classes together because I saw him often and enjoyed his company. Anyway, Ray went much farther in his career than I did, and he's now the CEO of the United States Naval Institute.

Today he posted a Memorial Day message that quotes Lincoln as well.

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Evolvulus alsinoides

09:11 Monday, 27 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.29°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 70

My wife calls these

A couple of moon shots up at Flickr from yesterday and this morning, but I wanted to post something different yesterday. I didn't get around to it, so here it is today. Took the XZ-1 out around the house after my walk. Mitzi calls these "Blue my mind" flowers. ("Blew my mind?" I don't know.)

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Honor the Fallen

08:28 Monday, 27 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.74°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 222

I heard this report on NPR Morning Edition this morning. It brought to mind my own experience.

“There's this moment at a homecoming and a memorial or burial where the national and a local are entwined in this project of belonging,” said Wagner, the author of What Remains: Bringing America’s Missing Home from the Vietnam War.

Please listen to the audio report, which differs somewhat from the text version. It includes an additional quote from Sarah Wagner that I think is important, which speaks to the role of ceremony and tradition.

In a moment when it seems there is no common thread that unites us, perhaps this does. If only briefly, and episodically.

I'm just past Lincoln's inauguration in Erik Larson's Demon of Unrest, where I learned Seward inspired the better part of the close of Lincoln's first inaugural. It resonates today, perhaps as it did then:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
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Another Cybertruck Cyting

15:37 Saturday, 25 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 93.11°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 51% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 292

I went to the grocery store yesterday on my way home from a medical appointment I bailed on. (They were 45 minutes late for my appointment and the facility looked unprofessional and sketchy.) So I didn't arrive at Publix until about noon.

The parking lot was full, because it was the lunch hour and many of the construction workers go to Publix for lunch. So I had to make a couple of orbits to find an open space. That's where I first spotted it, also appearing to be looking for a parking space. It looked even more absurd in the parking lot where you can see it in close proximity to other vehicles.

When I found an empty spot, I pulled in just as the car in the opposite space (in front of me) was pulling out. So I pulled through, which made for an easier departure when I was ready to leave.

Right behind me, the Cyber-monstrosity pulled into the spot I'd just vacated.

The thing is huge. I tried to get a look inside to see what kind of guy buys (leases?) one of those things. There was too much glare off the windshield to get a clear look inside, and I was trying to be somewhat discreet. (So, no pics.)

I will say it was quiet, which is perhaps it's only redeeming virtue. So many of these conventional ginormous three-quarter ton pickups pretending to be something that they're not have exhausts tuned to make them sound like freight trains.

But it is truly an ugly vehicle. Its slab-sides don't look "stealthy" or "high-tech," it just looks like a bad prop from a low-budget sci-fi flick. I'd be embarrassed to be seen in one.

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The Riot Report

12:22 Saturday, 25 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 88.93°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 59

Speaking of willful ignorance, I watched this American Experience program the other night.

We lived in Warren, Michigan in 1967. We were in upstate New York at my grandparents' house when the riot occurred.

I've ordered a copy of the report, and Jelani Cobb's edited version.

The film is excellent, even as it is infuriating.

We refuse to learn.

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10:33 Saturday, 25 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 83.25°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 228

Just read this piece in The New Yorker about "forever chemicals."

Add that to what the oil companies knew about CO2 as a greenhouse gas and its effects on climate.

There are probably hundreds, thousands of other examples, Boeing just came to mind, of companies knowing that their products had adverse effects for people and the environment.

The other day I commented on a post over at Kottke.org, where I wrote that I thought technology had disrupted reality, "Blew it to smithereens."

Anne Applebaum has a piece in The Atlantic that democracy is losing the propaganda war. (You can read it in News+.)

I think humanity has always lied to itself. Rather, certain groups of humans lie to other groups of humans, many of whom willingly accept the lie in order to carry on behaving as they wish to behave.

"Reality. What a concept."

And then we feign outrage when we "discover the shocking truth."

As Al Gore observed, the truth is "inconvenient."

"The truth will set you free." We don't desire freedom, we wish for license.

We don't seek the truth, we seek permission.


To do as we wish, to whomever we want, for as long as we can, to satisfy our own craving.

We've created AI in our own image, and it's probably as delusional as we are.

Time's almost up.

It's been... interesting.

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This Morning's Moon 5-25-24

07:34 Saturday, 25 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.74°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 14

Waning gibbous moon, 95.9% illuminated. ✍️ Reply by email

Closing the Ring

17:47 Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 84.25°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 89

A pair of flowers

I've been walking in the late afternoon to ensure that I close my move ring. (Current goal: 840 cal.) I don't press in the afternoon, because it's warmer and I just need to close the ring, not work up a sweat.

So this afternoon I brought along the Stylus 1s, just to get familiar with it again. Turned out to be a fairly prolific walk, as far as pics go. I liked this one though.

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A Place For My Stuff

13:07 Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 83.3°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 964

I don't travel often anymore. Certainly not as much as during my working life. Back then, I'd accumulate enough miles to get upgrades. These days, I only wish to fly to maintain relationships with family.

After hearing about the clear air turbulence experienced by Singapore Airlines, I'm even more reluctant to fly.

In any event, I'm flying to DC in a week to spend a long weekend with Mitzi's daughter and son-in-law and her oldest grandson. Last month I flew to Albany to spend a long weekend with my 90-year-old Mom, so my experience with flying is still fresh.

For a weekend trip, I normally pack a carry-on and a camera bag. I use the camera bag to hold, yes, a camera and a lens or two; but also to hold my phone, sunglasses, wallet and keys after I arrive at the airport and get ready to proceed through security.

I have two small bags I normally use. The one I like more is a tan canvas Domke, but it has the least amount of room. I have a green, nylon Lowepro that has a nice, big front pocket and a slim back pocket that will hold my iPad mini perfectly. The front pocket is large enough for my phone, wallet and keys, while my sunglasses will fit on top of the camera and lenses in the main part of the bag.

It's never been quite ideal. I don't like the strap on the Lowepro, it's fixed and I can't swap it. Both bags have the large lid that wraps over the top and down the front to a velcro and clip fastener. They're a bit fussy to get things in and out of quickly. The Domke is better, but again, smaller.

I've made it work with each of them, but it's never been ideal.

So among the hours I wasted watching YouTube videos about EDC kits, I watched a number of videos on travel bags, specifically, slings. Just search on EDC sling bags, hundreds of videos to choose from. I bought a tomtoc Compact EDC Sling (4L) and it arrived yesterday, so I've had a chance to play around with it. (There's a 15% off coupon on my listing, which makes this a pretty good deal)

Construction, fit and finish all outstanding. The strap is long enough to fit my girth. The appeal with a sling is that it slides around onto your back when you're walking, but when it slides around in front it's horizontal, so accessing the contents isn't a hassle.

I put my OMDS OM-5 with the 20mm/f1.7 pancake mounted in it. I can get the iPad mini in there as well, but it has to go into the front part of the main compartment (which is divided into two pockets), and it's a tight fit. Playing around with the E-P7 with the 12-32mm/f3.5-5.6 mounted, and my Olympus Stylus 1s, they both fit along with the iPad. The E-P7 and Stylus 1s are each several ounces lighter than the OM-5.

I considered my options and I'm going to put the Stylus 1s in the sling, vertically, grip facing up. The bag is deep enough to accommodate that, and it makes putting the iPad mini in it much simpler. I like carrying the Stylus 1s on flights because it has a 28-300mm/f2.8 (constant) zoom, which can make for some interesting out the window shots.

There's still plenty of room for my phone, wallet, a small Anker power pank, some USB cords, my Airpods, a micro-fiber cloth, lens pen, sunglasses, keys, tic-tacs, protein bar, pen and maybe a flashlight. (I bought the black one with the black interior. Probably unwise. They make different colors, some with yellow interiors that are easier to look into and identify your stuff. Hence, flashlight.)

So after checking in at the TSA line, everything from my pockets goes into the sling bag and I just toss that onto the belt and carry on through screening. No messing around with the big flappy cover on the camera bags, hoping something doesn't fall out. (Like it did on the trip to Albany last time. Spotted my phone on the floor next to the conveyor after screening.)

Like the camera bags, the sling bag won't take up much space under the seat in front of me, so I can still move my feet around. We've got a (too) brief layover in Atlanta, but we're landing early in the morning, so hopefully we won't have to wait for a gate. The bigger question will be which way we land and how far we have to taxi to the gate. I've been on flights where it's taken 15-20 minutes just to taxi to a gate! I wouldn't have booked the flight this way, but Mitzi made the arrangements and she's using a companion fare.

I don't know how comfortable it'd be to carry all that for an afternoon out sightseeing, but I wouldn't necessarily pack all that stuff either. Certainly not the iPad mini or the power bank.

I'll probably put the OM-5 in my carry-on, wrapped in a t-shirt with a couple of lenses for use in DC. Both cameras use the same battery, and I can charge the OM-5 in camera (micro-USB, alas). That'll give me a larger sensor with some brighter primes for interiors at the Smithsonian (If photography is permitted, I don't even know anymore.), and a faster AF for shots of her grandson. But the Stylus 1s will be a good "walking around" camera if I take the dog out or walk up to the mini-mart, as I often do when we're there.

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The Usual Discontents

08:31 Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.6°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 857

You can't get a CSV file of your Apple Card transactions from within Apple Wallet. You must go to the online web site where you can't look at your transactions (That's what Wallet is for?), but you can pay your bill. And you can also download pdfs of your prior months' statements.

Which made me finally pay for a year's worth of PDF Expert. I had a couple of utilities that purportedly could extract tables from pdfs and convert them into Excel spreadsheets, but both failed and have been subsequently deleted.

PDF Expert can do it, but of course, the spreadsheet is ugly as sin, and you have to spend several minutes making it not painful to look at. (I should look into whether there is a kind of saved style I could apply to the whole sheet in one fell swoop. I have a feeling I'll be doing this again.)

You can download a csv file of all your transactions from Amazon. It takes a little time, basically you submit a request and wait for it to be fulfilled. Matter of minutes in my experience.

You get several files, each in its own folder. The one I wanted was Retail.Order.History.1.csv. That isn't a simple matter of applying a style, there are columns of data that aren't useful that must be deleted, useful columns that must be moved to more sensible locations. And then you get to figure out how to group order numbers together, because each item record of a transaction is a row, although you may have ordered several items in a single order. Oddly, the orders aren't grouped together. They mostly are, but you'll find outliers in nearly every order with more than three items. They're usually one or two rows down, inexplicably separated from the rest of the order.

That's important because it's the order total that was charged to the Apple Card, and the number that appears in the order confirmation email you receive from Amazon. That figure never appears in the csv file.

I've been subjecting myself to all of this because I'm having a charge disputed by Goldman Sachs and I want to be absolutely certain that I was in fact correct that the charge that appeared on my card wasn't associated with any order that I made.

So far, I'm fairly certain that I'm correct. I can't find an order confirmation email anywhere near the date of the transaction reported on the card for that amount. There is no order among the record of my orders at the Amazon web site that correlates to that amount. And I downloaded the record of transactions, just to be thorough.

Well... Hold the phone.

(Actually, I just got off the phone.)

Just now, in the middle of writing this post and out of curiosity, I went to the folder of folders of transactions to see if one of those might have been strictly orders, which would have been more helpful. Alas, not the case.

But, there was a Digital Items folder, and so I opened that just to see what it contained. I thought it would be my Kindle book orders, and I haven't bought one recently. There are four .csv files in that Digital Items folder, and a README. The previous folders each contained one .csv file. The only .csv file that contains anything meaningful to me (a human) is Digital Items.csv, the second to the last one in the folder listing, just before the README (which I didn't read).

Sure enough, the first record in the Digital Items.csv is my Amazon Prime renewal, for the amount in question.


I seem to recall that I usually received an email from Amazon that Prime would be renewing at such and such a date. All of my Amazon mail went to a single mailbox, and there is no email announcing the upcoming renewal, no email confirmation of renewal, nothing to tell me that they'd charged my card to renew my Prime membership.

So when I got the alert from Apple Card, there was no correspondence from Amazon, no record of a transaction that I could find that explained that charge, and I thought my card must have been skimmed at the movies.


"New shit has come to light, man."

So I called Goldman Sachs, didn't have to fuss too much with the automated "assistant" and was able to reach a human being (in a noisy call center) fairly quickly, and withdrew the dispute.

Very frustrating, because I changed my card number too. I still have a couple of recurring charges that have to be updated.

In any event, it also prompted me to change my mailbox setup. I've created separate mailboxes for Amazon Order Confirmation, Amazon Shipping Confirmation and Amazon Delivery Confirmation, and an Amazon Other mailbox.

(All of which suggests I do far too much business with Amazon.)

And now I'm adding Prime renewal to the Calendar, so hopefully this won't happen again.

Yeah, I kinda feel like a dumbass; but I also think Amazon let me down here.

The beat goes on...

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Responsive Universe

10:21 Monday, 20 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.51°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 748

Church and religion are human artifacts, and fraught with the frailties and failings of human beings. Faith is something different, and talking about it, or writing about it, invariably butts up against religion and all the human baggage that accompanies it.

I don't begrudge anyone their particular faith practice, but I don't wish to embrace any particular one either. I think they're all wrestling with the same thing, we just get too caught up in our perceptions and prejudices.

Anyway, in my subjective experience, which may be borne out of confirmation bias and other cognitive weakness, I find some comfort in the occasional indication from the divine that I may be on the right track.

The first tip was, oddly enough, from NPR on Saturday morning. I listen to NPR while I'm making breakfast every day, and on Saturdays, Travel With Rick Steves is the show that's on during that time. I usually don't hear the whole thing, but I tuned in just in time to hear a guest, Michael Scott Moore, who has a paperback edition of his book out, The Desert and the Sea, talk about his experience as a Somali captive.

During the interview, Moore talks about essentially abandoning hope, and how that was essential for him. We often talk about "having" hope, and that being "hopeless" is akin to despair. But hope is desire, and desire is a source of suffering. Hope is not faith. I try to have faith, and not to hope.

Anyway, I thought it was cool to hear that, because I agree, even though I still hope. Here's a link to the show. I don't know how long it'll point to this show (It's Program 754, for future reference). It doesn't seem to have a "permalink" anywhere that I can find. Listen to the Program Extra at the bottom too.

The second little nudge came in this morning's email from Nick Cave. You can read the whole thing here, but this is the quote,

This realisation shook me to the core, that the meaning of life - its joy, boundless beauty and love - emerges out of our most devastating losses.

The harmony of binding opposites.

And not long after that, I was going through my feed in NetNewsWire and read Heather Cox Richardson's post about Biden's commencement address at Morehouse College:

Then Biden turned to a speech that centered on faith. Churches talk a lot about Jesus being buried on Friday and rising from the dead on Sunday, he said, “but we don’t talk enough about Saturday, when… his disciples felt all hope was lost. In our lives and the lives of the nation, we have those Saturdays—to bear witness the day before glory, seeing people’s pain and not looking away. But what work is done on Saturday to move pain to purpose? How can faith get a man, get a nation through what was to come?”

"Move pain to purpose." I love alliteration.

Love is faith in action, moving pain to purpose.

It's probably been almost 20 years now, when I had what I suppose I have to call a "spiritual experience."

It was during all the drama of the end of my marriage and the end of my career, during therapy and a lot of meditation. Sandy used to say, "David, just be still."

After one morning's meditation, for no particular reason that I recall, I stepped outside my cheap, shabby apartment and it seemed as though everything within my perception shifted, rotated, it changed somehow. And after that apparent movement, everything within my perception appeared illuminated from within, in a kind of golden hue. Everything glowed. And the feeling that came over me was one of complete peace, and the knowledge, the utter certainty that everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be.

And this perception and feeling wasn't just a flash, it persisted for what I think I recall has hours. At least a couple, because I recall walking around feeling lighter than air.

Anyway, this idea that "everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be," has stayed with me, even if it doesn't feel that way most of the time now. Having had that experience, it's hard to ignore or deny it. It doesn't prevent suffering, it doesn't relieve it, but it does help to remove some of the anger. Some of it.

And I suppose if I spent more time these days being still, it'd probably remove more of it.

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Lookin' Out My Backdoor

10:03 Monday, 20 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.37°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 311

Little blue heron perched on the broken end of a tree trunk

We were making turkey burgers last night when I noticed something perched on this relatively newly broken tree back in the swamp. The E-M1X already had the 100-400mm zoom mounted with the 1.4x teleconverter, so it was a matter of switching modes to try for the bird.

Photos informs me this is a little blue heron, perhaps a juvenile transitioning into its adult plumage. It spent most of its time preening its feathers.

This is an uncropped image, lightly sharpened in Topaz SharpenAI. I tried Topaz PhotoAI, but it sharpens the image beyond what I think is acceptable, introducing artifacts and distortions. (Full resolution image available at Flickr.)

Since I've been walking without a camera, I've been taking far fewer pictures. The upside is, I have less "work" to do on them. I was shooting in drive mode on this bird and even with the "slow" setting and shooting in bursts, I still had a ton of images to go through.

Shot the moon last night too. Also up on Flickr.

I've been trying to take advantage of the more reasonable weather to get more exercise. I've been managing to close my Move ring several days in a row now. It'll get hot and humid soon, and I won't be as willing to press as I am now. But this has begun to feel "good," and it recalls some of the feeling I had back when I was running. It's also made me consider trying it again, but that'll be in the pre-dawn hours when it's dark and I'm less likely to encounter people.

We'll be heading up to DC at the end of the month to see Mitzi's daughter and son-in-law, so I'll be bringing a camera or two along then.

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Last Night's Moon

14:41 Sunday, 19 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 89.29°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 55% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 42

Telephoto closeup of waxing gibbous moon approx 75% illuminated

Shot this just before bed last night. The night before last wasn't cloudy, but it was definitely hazy. I like this shot, there's a larger version at Flickr.

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Going Broke Saving Money

09:17 Saturday, 18 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.69°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 206

Mountainsmith has a sale on. I ended up buying three bags on clearance. Bags that I don't need, though one of them may become part of my daily walk, which may soon become a walk/run.

I figure that, if nothing else, I can give these to my kids at some point.

My magnet doohickies are supposed to come in today. Looking forward to playing with those.

I removed the Maxpedition logos from a few of my pouches. I'm not a huge fan of logos, and in a couple of instances, these also are sewn to half of the velcro closure on the net pocket on the front of the pouch. I don't care for that velcro, because it actually makes it more difficult to use that pocket. The pouches are usually full enough to keep anything secure, and I really just want to slide something in and out, and not screw around with velcro.

I'm also not a huge fan of the large "patch" area, but it may come in handy for some other purpose. In the customer reviews you find that they are apparently used to express one's political views, or to express some form of violent masculinity or tribal identity. Not my jam.

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The Demon of Unrest

08:53 Saturday, 18 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 79.02°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 251

I'm reading Erik Larson's latest, The Demon of Unrest. I owe it to a classmate to hurry up and finish it because he's already read it and wants to discuss it.

Alas, I'm a deliberate (slow) reader, and often distracted. I am making progress though. I'm reading it in Apple's Books app, which was probably a mistake. At least with a paper version, I'd have a clearer idea of how far along I am. I'm only about halfway through Part 2, so maybe a quarter? I keep getting distracted by looking up people and words (Larson does seem to enjoy throwing in the occasional archaic term.)

But I love the book, because it's a Larson book. This is a very detailed look at a short period of history, so it's full of fascinating events and people I'd never heard of before.

Because of it, I've started watching Ken Burns' The Civil War again, and I have a really hard time tolerating Shelby Foote this time. And the limitations of Burns' approach are more manifest as well, but it does give me something additional on the subject.

I'm trying to highlight all the passages with dates, hoping to manufacture my own timeline when I'm finished. We'll see how that project goes. It is very frustrating and disappointing that publishers of ebooks don't take advantage of the format to create a timeline as a supplement to the text and the index. It's also unfathomable.

Anyway, highly recommended, as are any of Larson's books.

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EDC Nerdery

08:53 Friday, 17 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.56°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 1572

I think I was twelve when I read Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island. There was this little gas station and miniature supermarket, a "superette," in Clockville where Dad would often stop to get ice cream, beer, gas or whatever. It was the closest retail outlet to our house in rural upstate New York.

There was a rack of paperback books with the covers torn off near the front door, and I'd spend time looking through them while Mom or Dad got whatever they needed. They only cost a dime, so I'd get a new book fairly often, and I kept those coverless paperbacks. I don't know or can't recall what happened to them when I left home, but there were a lot of them.

I digress.

The Mysterious Island was my introduction to "survival" lit, if there is such a thing. I was fascinated by the ingenuity and knowledge displayed by the stalwart band of Yankee escapees; and it was probably one of the things that also kind of nudged me toward engineering as a field of study.

I had Bradford Angier's How to Stay Alive In The Woods. I think I read Alas, Babylon around that time. Later, Lucifer's Hammer. Most recently, Andy Weir's The Martian is in the same genre; but long before I read The Martian, I read Welcome to Mars, by James Blish. It was very much of the same genre, figuring out how to survive with limited resources in a hostile environment. Oh, and the kid invented an anti-gravity drive too.

I was also a Boy Scout so, "Be prepared"?

Anyway, I loved that stuff and it's had an influence on me for most of my life. Much of my library, the "keepers," are books that might be useful to "reboot civilization."

I'm pretty certain now there'll be no "rebooting" this civilization. We will have already squandered all the easily recoverable energy and mineral resources, though some regions may do better than others.

I digress. Again.

There is a huge "prepper" community on YouTube, though I probably shouldn't use scare quotes on the term. We're all preppers now. And those who aren't, soon will be. A lot of them are pretty scary people though, very into firearms and violence, er, "personal defense."

I don't know if the "everyday carry" (EDC) people are in the same set as the hardcore preppers, but I think they're at least "prepper adjacent," wanting to have on hand the things they think they may be likely to need during their day to day lives. I'm like that insofar as I always (often to my chagrin) carry a SAK (Swiss Army knife) and a little AAA LED flashlight, in addition to my keys.

The SAK often embarrasses me because so many places and events have security that bars entry with a knife of any kind. I've given at least three to TSA, and on more than one occasion had to trudge back to the car to drop it off before entering a local venue. Most recently at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, though they checked it for me, which was nice.

It's a Tinker, not something that's going to be terribly useful in personal defense. (Not that I'd carry a knife for personal defense.) Mostly, I use the short blade to open Amazon boxes and then to cut the tape to break them down before they go in the recycling container. But I make frequent use of the screwdrivers and the toothpick as well. I forgot to put my nasal hair trimmers in my kit when we went to my nephew's wedding. SAK scissors FTW! (TMI?)

In any event, I've carried one for years and years, it's what I'm comfortable with, and I feel kind of naked without it.

The flashlight also comes in handy more often than you might expect. Started carrying one when I had Bodhi, and I'd walk him at night and use it to find his feces as a responsible pet owner. Nowadays, I use it to find stuff that's fallen on the floor, or in a crevice in the car, or to find a hole that a screw has to go into.

Yeah, you can use your phone as a flashlight, but try holding it in your mouth sometime.

My keys are a problem though. Most of my shorts have net pockets. The part that is next to my thigh is cloth, but the outer part, down to the bottom, is netting. The keys drop to the bottom of the pocket, and the teeth can rub against my thigh through the netting. I've had these little abrasions there for years, but I'm getting older now and growing tired of them.

So I did a little browsing on YouTube among the EDC channels. What I wanted was some kind of "pocket organizer" that I could put my stuff into that would fit in my pocket and eliminate the scratches, the noise and the top of the flashlight occasionally screwing itself off. (It usually lights up before it comes off, and shines through my shorts. But I guess I miss it occasionally, because more than once I've pulled my keys out to get the mail and a part of the flashlight comes out with them.)

Well, to make a long, probably boring, story shorter, I bought a Maxpedition Micro Pocket Organizer (Says it right on the label!). I got the black one, but now I think I might like the khaki one better. I didn't think I'd like the big web loop on the top of it, but I've found it's perfect for pulling the thing out of my pocket quickly and easily.

My wallet has long been one of those minimalist affairs, little more than a leather card holder. I live in a gated community and we have access control cards to get into the back gate when we're not in a vehicle, or to get into the clubhouse from one of the side doors. I've found that if I place that card as the outermost one, I don't have to remove it from my wallet, I can just put my wallet up to the sensor and it'll unlock the gate or the door. Saves a lot of fumbling around.

So I put my wallet in the little net pocket at the front of the pouch. It's not clear yet if I'll have to pull it out to get the card reader to register the card, but my first attempt wasn't promising. That's the only downside so far. Fortunately, I don't have to do that very often.

The SAK fits snugly in one of the elastic loops. The flashlight is a little too thin and it doesn't have a clip. But it does have a little split-ring, so for the moment I've got a tiny binder clip attached to it, and that clips to the top of the left inner pocket. So there's no chance of the flashlight falling out when I open it to get my keys.

My keys are clipped to a little carabiner through a tiny loop at the top of the right side of the pouch. I stuff the keys into the pocket so they don't rattle around. I've got two of these magnet doohickies coming that I'll use for the keys and the flashlight so I don't have to fuss with clips to get them out.

Since there's more space in there, and it's "organized," I've added a few things that I don't normally carry but sometimes wish I had. One is a microfiber cloth to clean my glasses. I usually resort to my shirt, but unless it's a natural fiber, it mostly just smears the fingerprints and sweat around. I've also stuck a Fisher Space Pen in there. It normally sits in my desk drawer and is seldom used. I'll probably stash a refill in there too.

So now I'm into figuring out what other crap I want to add. I've put a few alcohol wipes in there to clean my iPhone when it gets nasty. A couple of safety pins, and a couple of sanitizing towels. That's probably enough.

I thought it was going to be this big bulge in my pocket (I'm a, "Wild and crazy guy!"), but it's not much worse than just having all that crap lying loose in there.

All of this tickles my inner "survivor," and has inspired me put together a travel kit with the chargers and cables all sorted and set to go. I ordered a Maxpedition Skinny Pocket Organizer (I have no idea why it's considered a "pocket organizer.") This Anker 87W power bank will fit in the left side pocket (without the fabric sleeve Anker ships with it). And it's deep enough to also hold the 65W USB-C charger. I stuck a little Apple 10W charger in there as a backup for my watch. The big cables fit in an elastic loop in the center of the pouch, and there's a zippered pocket that holds a variety of smaller ones. It'll charge everything, my MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, Watch and any of my most recent cameras that offer in-camera charging. It's not light, and I wouldn't carry it as an "everyday" accessory; but the next time we travel I'll just be able to grab this, and I shouldn't find myself missing a cable when we get to our destination.

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Tonight's Moon 5-16-24

21:48 Thursday, 16 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.78°F Pressure: 1006hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 33

Telephoto closeup of waxing gibbous moon 65% illuminated

Good seeing tonight. E-M1X, handheld high-res shot, 100-400mm zoom w/MC14 teleconverter. 1120mm effective focal length.

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What Is The Meaning of This?

09:28 Wednesday, 15 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.92°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 82% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 995

The reality of our present circumstances is seldom far from my awareness. It colors much of what I think about the future and the present. Maybe that's why I like reading history these days. It's a form of escape.

I don't feel depressed, by what I believe the future holds, but I am disappointed and I know that my children and grandchildren will face a vastly more challenging life than I did.

But perhaps all that is relative. My mother's life as a child was more challenging than her children's lives, and her parents' lives were similarly more challenging.

And my childrens' and grandchildrens' lives will merely be the first couple of generations in what is likely to be a long decline, if we're fortunate enough to avoid a precipitously violent one.

Modernity is ending.

In many ways, it reminds me of John Conway's game of Life. I used to play a version of it on my Apple II. You'd start out with a random, low density distribution of cells, and occasionally you'd get this explosive growth of cells and activity across the grid, only to watch it die down to a much lower density of cells at the end.

I think that's what humanity's experience with modernity will likely be. We're at the peak of that activity now. It won't last forever, or even very long.

It may explain the Great Filter, why we haven't encountered other intelligent species in our region of the galaxy. Civilizations develop technology and are propelled into overshoot and collapse, again and again, none surviving long enough to make their existence known to other civilizations.

And Conway's Life may be a reflection of the idea that we live in a simulation.

In any event, faced with the prospect of losing this civilization, many wonder "What is the point?"

I like that blog. It can feel depressing at first, but, yeah, the math is pretty clear.

Now, I don't believe he's necessarily correct on the issue of determinism and free will. I think there's something about consciousness that is non-deterministic. Much of it is, of course. It explains why so much of our behavior is simply habituated, a product of physics and the laws of thermodynamics. Nature expends only enough energy, never more. At least, not for long anyway.

But gravity is the weakest force in the universe, weaker even than irony.

But it holds the whole thing together.

I don't understand the nature of consciousness, but I've come to believe that there is more here than meets the eye. Whether that's a responsive universe, or some hacker running this simulation, I don't know. But I think there's a reality beneath this reality. Maybe "above"? These kinds of abstractions are perhaps unhelpful.

In any event, what is the point? Why are we here?

I recall how I felt when my marriage failed, itself a long process, relatively speaking; and my career as a naval officer, concurrently with my marriage. It felt like, "The end of the world."

It wasn't, of course. But it took a lot of therapy and personal reflection to figure that out.

One of the insights I think I gleaned during those days was that life is meaningless, we bring meaning to life.

We make meaning.

That requires action, and that action can be habituated or "deterministic," or it can be something else.

It can be a choice.

I also learned that the inner voice is an unreliable narrator. An emergent property of a habituated system. An idling loop.

So, be still. Now and then.

And don't get too caught up with the voice inside your head.

Finally, I learned that we are not here to "change the world."

The world is here so that we may learn to change ourselves.

So, what is the point of all this in the face of the collapse of civilization?

The point is that it was never about the external reality of "the world." It has always been about the interior reality of how we wish to be in the world.

We are here to do our best. To interrogate, as much as possible (It's not much, because who has the energy? See "determinism" above.) from time to time, is this the best we can do?

What is "the best"? Another worthwhile question.

Who do we choose to be in the world?

(Everything is contingent. We are in the world. It must shape who we choose to be. If we choose.)

Existence is the tension between binding opposites, being and nothingness. Existence to have any meaning, demands consciousness. An awareness of "something" beyond "nothingness" - being.

Being is the negation of nothingness. An affirmation. A cosmic, universal Yes. Which can only exist against the foundation of nothingness.

Consciousness, awareness of individual existence in a temporal dimension and the awareness of non-existence, of death, may bring about desire. Between "being" and "nothingness," perhaps consciousness desires being over nothingness.

Perhaps desire emerges from a metaphysical tension between binding opposites, faith and fear. Faith affirms, embraces, accepts. Fear denies, retreats and rejects.

The point of our existence is to navigate our timestream, our "lifeline" between being and nothingness, faith and fear.

It's to do our best, and the rest is not up to us.

Faith and fear.

Love is faith in action. The first derivative of faith.

Courage is love in action. The second derivative of faith. Acceleration, an element of force.

Anger is fear in action.

Hate is anger in action. A second derivative of fear. Acceleration, an element of force.

Anyway, we're all in this together. Nobody is getting out of here alive.

Let's do our best, as best we can, and don't worry about the results, except insofar as they may help inform what "our best" might have been, so perhaps we can do better going forward.

As always, I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. Do your own thinking.

A broken record, I know.

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07:04 Wednesday, 15 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.3°F Pressure: 1006hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 341

I follow a number of "tech" blogs because I occasionally learn something that might be useful, or get an insight into something that improves my understanding of something. But there's also a lot of noise in tech blogs. Just like in photography forums, especially "gear" ones.

It seems that many of the Mac illuminati are disenchanted with the M4 iPad Pro because, well, it's not a Mac. More specifically, and perhaps fairly, they object to the fact that iPadOS isn't MacOS. And this gets repeated, seemingly everywhere, ad nauseam.

There are folks who appreciate the iPad and iPadOS as a tablet computing platform, but they aren't the dominant voices in the blogosphere.

I don't have to do any "work" on either a Mac or an iPad, so I don't really have a dog in this fight. I also don't need an M4 iPad Pro. But I can appreciate the frustration of those who are satisfied with the features of iPadOS as a tablet computing productivity platform. I can agree that the Mac-first (Make the Mac Great Again?) crowd don't "get it." They view the iPad with a perspective from their formative experience with computing technology.

Just as the CLI crowd sneered at the GUI people back in the day.

The old-school Mac users will seemingly never be satisfied until the iPad is a Mac without a keyboard with some touch features bolted on.

Also reminds me of Ric Ford and Macintouch back in the days when Mac OS X (that's what it was called) was replacing MacOS 9 (or System 7 for some of those guys), and the Aqua UI was an abomination to them. Even GUI nerds can bitch about changes to a GUI.

Which is to say nothing about all the folks at the DPReview micro four-thirds forum who supposedly like Olympus (now OM System) cameras, but know so much more about what products the manufacturer should be making, and keep repeating themselves over and over again.

Broken records. An anachronism. But one you'll find everywhere.

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Data Point

06:44 Wednesday, 15 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 74.66°F Pressure: 1006hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 234

Haven't spoken with the marmot for a few days. I'd closed it on the iMac and opened it on the MBP on Sunday, though I didn't really need to. I closed it from the MBP using Screens, logging into the iMac "remotely." The iMac's UI is tiny on the 14" MBP, and I think I clicked the wrong button and discarded changes because the Cybertruck post was missing this morning.

So, expecting nothing but having nothing to lose, I tried Revert from the File menu again. The interface acted normally this time (Perhaps updating to Sonoma 14.5 helped?) But what was odd was that the version I wanted showed a blank image with a faded iCloud download icon. I clicked that and hoped for the best.

Howard Oakley has said that versions are stored locally on the Mac. Maybe that's changed?

Anyway, after some roaring fans and a lengthy period of the Spinning Pinwheel of Infinite Futility™, the desired version with the Cybertruck post appeared and I clicked Revert (or something). That process seemed to take less time, and didn't involve the roar of cooling fans, and the canonical version of the marmot was restored.

I clicked Save right away, because when this has seemingly worked in the past, Tinderbox usually crashed immediately after.

No crash.

I think Apple may have fixed something in 14.5, which would be cool.

Anyway, here we are.

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Cybertruck In The Wild

10:11 Sunday, 12 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.08°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 63% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 61

Forgot to mention this.

On my way to the movies yesterday, before I'd left Nocatee, I spotted a Cybertruck going down Crosswater Parkway.

It was pretty arresting. The thing is grotesque. It's bigger than I thought it was, and it looks like a prop from a bad science fiction movie.

I was driving, so no pics, but those things are bizarre.

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The Beat Goes On

08:52 Sunday, 12 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.36°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 1023

Light trail of a series of Starlink satellites passing before a crescent moon

It was a truism in the navy that while watchstanding when something demands your undivided attention, a compelling distraction will arrive.

Went to the movies yesterday with my son and his family and I used my Apple card to pay for something at the concession stand. The Kingdom of The Planet of The Apes wasn't bad. There were dangling plot lines, buy my son said it's the first installment of another trilogy. I'd give it a C+, what is that? 2.5 stars?

Anyway, I get home and I'm fooling around in the house, not doing anything I'd intended to do, when I get a notification from Apple Wallet that a charge has been made on my Apple Card from Amazon for an amount that didn't seem unreasonable.

I order a lot of stuff from Amazon, which is perhaps also inconsistent with my intention to "do my best," and "don't make things worse." But I knew I didn't order anything yesterday.

I checked my email for an order confirmation in that amount and couldn't find one. I went to Amazon and looked at my orders page and didn't find one for that amount. It seemed pretty clear my card had been compromised. I'm not sure how, I can't be certain it was at the movies. I had my wallet out because I gave my daughter in law some cash for their popcorn and sodas. I got my treat and for some reason, perhaps because I had my wallet out, I pulled my Apple Card out to pay for it. (Gotta get that 1% cash back.) The transaction seemed to be taking a long time, so I ended up using my phone. That's why I suspect that's where it got skimmed.

So about 1930 yesterday evening, I'm chatting with Goldman Sachs reporting the card as compromised. About the same time, my ex-neighbor called. He's headed out to see if he can get a photo of the aurora. Apparently it was visible as far south as Florida, people had gotten shots from a little town west of here, Hastings. He figured he'd go to the beach and set up a tripod and try his luck.

I'm trying to wrap up the thing with Goldman Sachs and figure out whether or not I want to try my luck with the mosquitos and maybe catch a shot of the northern lights from Florida.

Obviously, I ended up going. Put on some bug spray but still got eaten alive. I'd sprayed a bandana to tie around my neck, I ended up just putting it over my head, secured by my hat, to protect my ears.

We never saw the aurora (I think. There's a greenish glow to the northwest in many of the shots, but I suspect that's just skyglow from Jacksonville.)

We got to the site just after sunset and started getting set up. Not only did the mosquitos come out, but also many people who seemed to have the same idea, and all the headlights driving into the area kept ruining shots.

A fellow member of The Jacksonville Astronomy Club showed up and he and Pete struck up a conversation. I'd moved my tripod over to the north edge of the parking lot so most of the light from arriving or departing cars would be behind me. At some point they yelled over to me to look up at the moon and I saw something I'd never seen before, a train of Starlink satellites. I'd already started a live composite shot (I figured I'd just get some star trails as long as I was there.), and so I was able to capture the light trail they left behind. But it doesn't really capture what it looked like to the naked eye.

I thought there must have been a launch and we were witnessing a deployment. But no, apparently this is a familiar phenomenon. I could see a number of satellites, perhaps as many as a dozen, all in train, tracking to the south beginning from below the moon and passing directly in front of it. Looking closely at the light trail, I think I can make out around nine, but I have the impression there were more than that in trail. I tried grabbing a shot with my phone, because why not? It actually caught something, but it was essentially a long exposure, so it's no help in figuring out the number. I'll put it on Flickr in a bit.

Anyway, that wasn't the first unexpected celestial subject that evening.

Not long after I'd moved to the north edge of the parking lot, I'd started taking live composite shots for star trails. Pete yelled over to me (his gear was still set up on the south side of the parking lot) that the ISS was overhead. I didn't recall getting a notification that it would be visible last night, but sure enough, there it was. I'd already started the live composite shot, so I got pretty much the whole time it was visible overhead. I think I ended it one frame too soon. That'll be up on Flickr later too.

Anyway, this morning I've been going through and changing credit card numbers for all the subscriptions I use my Apple Card for (and logging all those changes in Captain's Log). The non-profits I make recurring donations to don't have an "accounts page." I'll have to work with each of them on the phone to get this billing squared away.

This happened last September when I went home for Mom's 90th birthday. It's a pain in the ass. That time, whoever used the card number was making purchases out in the Pacific northwest, which tripped an alarm for Goldman Sachs and they made an active effort to reach out to me to point out potentially fraudulent transactions. This time I think an Amazon purchase in the range of normal purchase amounts for me slipped under their radar. But fortunately, I have notifications turned on for Apple Wallet and it got my attention.

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Movies: Chief of Station

10:20 Saturday, 11 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 77.43°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 81

Horrible movie. The trailer was better than the movie.

On a more hopeful note, heading out shortly to join my son and grandsons to see the latest Planet of the Apes installment.

I can't say I'm really excited about the prospect. The first three films in the reboot were very good. I suspect they're just milking it as a franchise now. Similar to how the original movies evolved. I do enjoy seeing the boys though, that's the main reason I'm going.

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YouTube Tutorials

10:11 Saturday, 11 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 76.91°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 70% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 150

I enjoy watching YouTube tutorials and I learn a lot from many of them. I also enjoy seeing new creators and their approach to making their videos.

This one for creating a day overview using iOS Shortcuts was enjoyable. I like how he goes through step by step, encountering unexpected difficulties, going back and making changes. I find this more accessible, in some ways, than the very smooth presentations where everything was thought out and scripted in advance. I think the "relative roughness" makes it somehow more memorable, aiding in recall or retention? And it reveals a glimpse of a problem-solving approach, I think, that may be helpful.

I also loved the idea of having it run after an alarm stops. Didn't even know that was possible and it gives me some ideas.

I've subscribed to the channel, because he doesn't come up very high in the search results.

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08:16 Friday, 10 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.87°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 380

If you're not feeling "hopeless and broken," you're not paying attention.

One of the common threads in our present crisis, perhaps the most important one, is ignorance.

Hatred demands ignorance, a view of the world narrowly shaped by powerful interests. Public education is anathema to the right. It's much easier to manipulate the masses if you keep them ignorant and prey on their emotions.

But the "powerful" are educated. Isn't that a contradiction?

No, because it's about preserving power and privilege. It's possible for the powerful and the privileged to hate, despite their education. They're still ignorant when it comes to viewing the world through a wider aperture, one where they aren't the center of the universe. That's another form of ignorance, but it isn't a barrier to achieving wealth and power. In many ways, it's self-reinforcing. They believe they "earned" their positions of power and privilege, and they work hard to protect that blind spot.

It's no mystery why we haven't confronted the challenges of climate change, inequality, species loss, over-development. It's not in the interests of the powerful and the privileged to do so. Instead, they obfuscate, deny, demonize and use every tool at their disposal to promote ignorance and confusion.

The state where hatred thrives, and where it can be used as a tool.

For a long time, we weren't confronting "the limits to growth." It was easy to mask or ignore the dynamics of enforced ignorance. Today, we're bumping up against those limits. Indeed, we're in overshoot. The privileged and the powerful who hate, the ones who want to preserve their caste at the expense of the rest of us, must now work openly, and harder. And we're witnessing it.

One of our local Republican legislators, Representative Randy Fine likes to refer to public schools as "government schools," where students are presumably "indoctrinated" into a leftwing liberal agenda.

Florida wants to outlaw the used of "climate change" in government. Enforced ignorance.

Banning abortion at six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. Relying on ignorance.

The list goes on.

I don't know how to stop it, but I know it won't go away unless we talk about it.

Ignorance is both their sword and their shield, and we have to fight it.

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Further to the Foregoing

06:43 Friday, 10 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.53°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 8.05mph
Words: 25

I've got to get out and go for my walk, but I started down a Confederacy rabbit hole and it's very depressing.

It's also interesting.

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Hate Is Embedded...

06:03 Friday, 10 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.39°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 163

...in the former states of the Confederacy.

(This will do nothing for my sentiment analysis.)

Are people "basically good"?

I don't know. I know that some people seem genuinely good, like Sir Nicholas Winton.

But far too many of us seem readily capable of committing genuine evil, or tolerating it.

It seems that centuries of enslaving people has saturated the soil of the Confederacy with hatred. And some people grow up with it as a part of their nature, like fish in water. They float in it, it bears them up, and they are utterly oblivious to it.

The thing about the Legacy Museum in Montgomery is that you're looking at centuries of history, and that the terrible beliefs that sustained that evil across those centuries extend right up to the present.

Slavery may not exist, Jim Crow may be down (but not out, apparently), but the hatred is still present.

The current propaganda slogan is "Heritage, not hate."

Hate is their heritage.

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Sign of the Times

05:48 Friday, 10 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.32°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 155

Ordinarily, I'd say that it's pretty shocking that a research neuroscientist doesn't understand the fundamentals of probability, but given, well, everything about our present circumstances, I guess it makes sense that Dr. Andrew Huberman doesn't.

I guess the only thing you can do is laugh. (I'm trying to get my sentiment analysis out of the red!) This isn't exactly on point, but it did come to mind. Also the trap that expertise in one area seems to fool many people into believing it extends to areas they know nothing about. Still, a "research" scientist ought to have a fairly keen appreciation of probability math, shouldn't they?

Well, it's not rocket science, is it?

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"Missed the mark."

22:26 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.18°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 7

I think Apple got this part right.

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Quartiles Update

22:04 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.99°F Pressure: 1006hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 4mph
Words: 28

I'm up to a score of 125. 25 out of 28 possible words. I suppose I'll find out what the missing three are tomorrow.

They'll probably be obvious.

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One Life

21:55 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.04°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 14.97mph
Words: 9

Watched One Life tonight. Very moving. A remarkable story.

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16:43 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 94.33°F Pressure: 1004hPa Humidity: 46% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 75

Played the new puzzle game in Apple News, Quartiles.

Got all of them for a perfect score. (Link only works if you're running the MacOS 14.5 or iOS 17.5 betas. Sorry.)

Whoops! Spoke too soon! I didn't understand the interface. I got all the 4-tile words, and a score of 100, which I thought was perfect. But there's a little arrow that discloses the details of your score. There are supposedly 15 words remaining!

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12:53 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 90.3°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 56% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 845

Jack's playing with software, I bought an elgato Neo Stream Deck.

I think it's a kind of "retail therapy." I buy stuff and I feel better, temporarily. I heard about the Neo line of elgato products on one of Dave Sparks' podcasts, Mac Power Users, I think. Maybe?

It's a pretty cool device, though it's dumb that I bought one.

First, it's kind of redundant. I've got the 6-button Stream Deck (mini?), which I seldom use. This has eight launch buttons, two capacitive touch page buttons and a little "system" display, which I've configured for the time, as if I need to be any more aware of it.

But I'm spending some of that time figuring it out and setting it up. I created a button for the marmot that takes me to the web site. It has a picture of a cute Himalayan marmot for the icon. I configured the YouTube button to go to my Premium account. (So I can waste time more efficiently, with less mousing around!)

I think I'll make some launch scripts for Captain's Log entries.

Second, I have no real need for one. So it's inconsistent with my wish to "do my best," and do the least amount of harm possible. But, I'm human and I fuck up. Not an excuse, just a reality.

Anyway, for the moment it's entertaining.

I noticed some more people bought Nebo 100W solar panels on Woot, and Florida seems well-represented. Amazon has a Bluetti promotion for the EB70S, $399 for 716WH of LiFePo storage and 800W of total AC output. Not a bad deal, I think. The EB70S has been replaced by the AC70, which is what I bought for about $80 more. The AC70 has an updated display and 1KW of total AC output, a different handle and no wireless charging pad.

I probably mentioned it before, but what these "solar generators" offer is an integrated battery and inverter solution in a convenient package. You can almost certainly create your own solution buying batteries, charge management system and inverter separately and save some money.

Like any consumer-grade electronic device, there are lemons. But, in general, the Bluetti systems seem well designed and constructed. I can't speak to customer service. It's also important to pay attention to the documentation regarding use and storage.

I may look into more of a DIY solution at some point, but for now I'm content.

My use case is curiosity, convenience and in the event of a genuine, long-term grid outage, continuity. If we had an outage that spanned more than one day, I'd reconfigure the house loads to minimize demand to the Powerwalls, and use the Bluetti devices to provide power to nice-to-have services like the cable modem/router. We're not 100% self-sufficient here (86% overall), but we can approach that; and I'm fairly confident I can keep us comfortable until utility power is restored.

We generated 40.9kWh of power yesterday, compared to 39.4kWh on Tuesday. Looking at the "valleys" in the graphs of each of the days, we had more cloud cover yesterday than on Tuesday, so the cleaning has seemed to increase output as expected. I'll keep looking at the data over the next few days. We're also still getting more daylight each day, but the low-angle stuff isn't very usable. The bigger impact is the more optimal angle-of-incidence as the sun is higher in the sky at the same time from day to day. April and May are our two peak production months, about 1.1MWh each, because we don't face due south.

If your roof is less than five years old, it's probably smart to look at putting solar on it. Maybe you get a battery, maybe you don't. If your roof is between five and ten years old, it's a bit of a trickier question because you may be looking at re-roofing in the next decade, and that'll incur additional cost, removing the panels temporarily. If your roof is more than a decade old, you may want to consider re-roofing early. Wait a year to make sure it doesn't leak, then install an array. That way there should be less finger-pointing if a leak develops after the array is installed. Roofs sometimes leak though, whether you have solar or not. It's a fact of home ownership. So, you really don't have to wait. Just have to figure out who you want to come fix it.

If you're lucky enough not to have an HOA with "design guidelines," you may want to look at a reflective roof as well.

The temp in the top of the post is at the airport. We're showing 95.7°F here, heat index of 109°F. I'd love to get a reflective roof. Maybe things will be bad enough by the time we have to re-roof that they'll have altered those design guidelines.

It seems I have digressed, yet again. Feels like a fairly benign post, but sentiment analysis is still coming in at -.5!

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Good News For Once

12:41 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 90.05°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 58% Wind: 13.8mph
Words: 50

Kids and retention ponds. Especially in Florida.

So many of these stories end tragically.

This one didn't. And it's wonderful to read about all the people who came together and had a part in saving a child's life, private citizens, public servants.

Nice to read some good news for once.

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Tone Deaf

09:48 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 82.99°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 192

I watched the May 7 event on my iMac. First, I was amazed they used a Sonny and Cher number. (Though I wondered if it had been re-mixed or digitally altered in some fashion. It didn't sound like I remembered it, though I haven't heard it in decades.)

Then I processed all the creative props.

Then I was startled when they started to crush them.

Then I thought it seemed to be going on a bit too long.

Finally I figured out that they were "crushing" them into the new M4 iPad, just before the big reveal.

So I can't claim any cultural revulsion at the spectacle. I just thought it was kind of dumb.

But I am quite happy that others noticed and found it revolting.

And I agree, though I'm kind of ashamed I didn't have that reaction initially. It's a terrible ad.

I still use Apple products because I'm embedded in that ecosystem now. Cognitively, and in the artifacts.

But I have no love for Apple anymore. It's just another mega-corporation.

And I think this colossal misstep and the embarrassment it should bring is a wonderful thing.

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09:43 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 82.8°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 68

Rick Scott famously barred Florida state employees from using the words "climate change." Ron DeSantis and the Republican Florida legislature have taken that a step farther and codified it into law.

It's insanity, but that's the state we live in.

A hurricane is going to blow through this state one day and maybe, just maybe, a generation of Republican rule will be one of the things it destroys.

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Damning Indictment

05:47 Thursday, 9 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 73.87°F Pressure: 1007hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 221

It's difficult to argue with anything put forward in this recent 18-minute TED talk by Scott Galloway.

Just this week, the St Johns County Board of Commissioners disapproved a 288 unit affordable housing project in Florida's highest-median income county. The reason?


Listen to this TED Talk and hear the same thing.

It's the same reason they refuse higher-density zoning.

On the other hand, Florida has enacted a social media ban for children under 14. I support it, but I don't know how it's going to be enforced. I also agree with those that say it ought to be up to age 16.

Frankly, I'd be fine with banning all ad-supported social media. If you want to be "social" online, pay a monthly cover charge. No "free" social media. Comments on web sites? Pay to post. No ads.

Maybe if we just banned advertising online, we could solve a number of society's problems. Advertising limited to "broadcast" media like print, radio and television. No targeting. No direct mail or email. No spam anywhere.

How would our experience of the internet change without ads and ad-supported platforms? Free speech issue? Is commercial speech unregulated? It isn't.

Anyway, it's not going to happen. I've digressed.

And my sentiment analysis is at -.7!

Sorry to be such a downer.

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I Am An Energy Nerd

12:30 Wednesday, 8 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 88.34°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 58% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 442

We're a thing now.

Woot has another low price on the Nebo 100W portable solar panel, $120. (Limit 2 per customer.) I bought another one.

I figured I'd daisy-chain two in series for the Bluetti AC70, and use a single one for the Bluetti EB3A. The challenge is, I have the two I already have neatly hung up in the garage. The hook won't hold a third. But I'll figure it out.

I'm waiting until sundown to compare yesterday and today's energy production. It's become cloudier today, so I'll look at the peak production numbers at comparable hours. (You can tell when it's cloud shading versus sun angle.)

Mitzi was gone for three weeks in March and April, so I can't really compare energy usage with the new dryer, but we should have some good data at the end of this month. There's a lot of "noise" depending on how much we drove the car, how hot it was out (it's supposed to get to 96°F today), but over time I should be able to discern how much the dryer is saving.

We went to a North Florida Green Chamber event yesterday, and Donna Deegan, mayor of Jacksonville, was the guest speaker. I always enjoy hearing her speak, and I came away feeling good about the efforts her administration is making to address the climate emergency. She gets it. It's impossible to conceive of a Republican going after these grants and pursuing the initiatives she's pursuing, sad to say though it is.

I also spoke to Nathan Ballentine, "the man in overalls." I'd heard him speak a few years ago when I was on the St Johns County Soil and Water Conservation District board. He's like "Dave the plant guy," (though I think Dave prefers "Dave the plant man") who is here in Ponte Vedra. Nathan is more Duval County. They both try to teach people how to grow their own food, and are both very inspiring people. Nathan has a website, overalls.life. Click on the hamburger menu in the upper left for a complete picture of what they do. We chatted a bit about The Limits to Growth, and the crisis beyond the climate crisis. He gets it.

His wife was there with him, and they have a young son. I mentioned that many people say it's "too late" (me being among them), but I told them I thought it's never too late to do your best, and that's what I'm trying to do. They seemed to like that.

I'm trying to write this in a more "positive" tone, and I'm still at -0.4400000095 on the sentiment analysis!

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Further to the Foregoing

10:23 Wednesday, 8 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 82.67°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 203

So, the highest Sentiment value post was Sometimes I Love People. Unfortunately, it's probably an outlier, as it only had three words. (Correctly counted.) The lowest value post was The Apocalypse Has Not Been Postponed, 224 words in Table view. (Word Service reports 223, but close enough.)

So, positive values = "positive" sentiment; negative, the opposite. The average for April was -0.401272571, the median was -0.434313734. (Surprisingly, you can't just right-click and copy these summary values at the bottom of a Numbers table. I'm using TextSniper to copy them because that's a lot of digits to remember.)

I also discovered the word count discrepancy is significant in the posts with images, probably because there's html export code included in the $Text, and values inserted into that export code.

To make something like this more useful on a regular basis, I'd probably want to include the permalink as a Displayed Attribute, so I can just click right to the post from Numbers, instead of looking for it in the archive.

Again, all this type of analysis could be rolled up into a live dashboard within the Tinderbox file itself, which could then be exported as a page in the blog. Something I may do.

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Table Feature In Tinderbox

09:43 Wednesday, 8 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 80.17°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 361

This post in the Tinderbox Forum prompted me to look more closely at the new Table View feature. (New to me. It's been out for a little while now.)

Table view works principally on children of a note or container. It also works on siblings, if there are no children of a selected note. It consists of the name of the note and a row of the values of its Displayed Attributes; so if tables are important to you it's probably worth thinking about what you wish to include in Displayed Attributes. (That's a whole other discussion.)

Since every post in the marmot is contained in a Month container, it was easly for me to select the April 2024 container, and then select Table from the View menu. This gave me a table of containing the name of each post and all their displayed attributes.

It wasn't exactly clear how to export this data, but I figured it out. In the Table view, select any row. You can't Select All from the Edit menu without having at least one row selected. With one row selected, then Select All from the Edit menu. Right-click anywhere in the table view and you'll get a contextual menu. Select Copy, and in the sub-menu, select the format you wish the table to be copied into, I picked Comma-separated values.

Then paste the table into any app that accepts comma-separated values, in my case Numbers. You get a nice spreadsheet with all your data. You may have to fiddle with cell formats if you want to do any further analysis.

In April 2024, I wrote 81 posts totaling 23,489 words (Word count seems somewhat off per-post, but it's close.) The Sentiment Analysis value varied from a high of 0.300000012, to a low of -0.800000009. What that means, I don't know. But now I can look at those two posts and try and figure it out.

You could write a dashboard agent to keep track of things like that on an ongoing basis, but I haven't done that yet. I may do so soon, just to learn more about Tinderbox.

Pretty cool.

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08:10 Wednesday, 8 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.79°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 155

7KW of solar panels on a suburban roof

Put the drone up this morning to look at the array again. I had it up while they were cleaning yesterday. Judging by their reaction, I'm not sure anyone has ever done that before.

They are cleaner than yesterday, but perhaps not as clean as I might have liked. They used a hose and scrub brushes but no soap. Plus, the water is hard. We'll see how the output goes today, weather looks similar in terms of cloud cover.

If I can figure out a safe way to get on the roof, I may try to do it myself next year, with soap.

We're still making more power than we use and the "problem" is likely more cosmetic than production, but if I can get more from them, I want it.

I put a "before" and "after" example up on Flickr.

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My First Exhibition

07:42 Wednesday, 8 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.75°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 92

Photo of some photo card prints in a glass case

Well, I guess I'm an artiste now. My first exhibition at the Anastasia Club. Heh.

At the last photography club meeting, they asked if someone wanted to put some of their photos in the community club display. Nobody raised their hand, so I did.

Made a QR code of my Flickr photo stream. So far, no uptick in visits. (Nor do I expect one. Not sure how many of these folks understand or would use a QR code.)

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Inspecting the Array

08:01 Tuesday, 7 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.19°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 168

Shot of 7KW of rooftop solar panels

Did a series of "before" pics this morning. Supposed to have a crew out here this afternoon to clean the array. First time I've paid to have it done. Not cheap at $400, but worth it in terms of performance and longevity of the array. I'm going to guess we'll see about a 10% increase in output, but that's just a guess.

"Rain" was supposed to be enough to keep them clean, but the pine pollen is pretty sticky. On the closeups, I can still see where I couldn't reach a couple of years ago when I used an extendable RV washing brush to clean them the last time. Ideally, I'd get on the roof and do it myself, but I'm getting to the point where I feel that discretion is the better part of valor, and I'll let someone else do it.

I'll take another series this evening and see how they did.

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Big Day

06:37 Tuesday, 7 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.71°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 325

I'm looking forward to today's announcement from Apple when the iPad finally gets a calculator.

My brother recently got took his 2017 10.5" iPad Pro in for a "battery replacement." Essentially, Apple sends you a refurb one for $119. I have one of those as well. I'm thinking I should do the same. The only mistake I made in buying that iPad (in 2019), was in not going for more storage, I think I got the base model with 64GB. That's the consistent mistake I make with Apple products, but I make it because Apple charges such a premium for memory and storage.

If you pay the "tax," you've got a machine that will last years and years and years, and I suppose that's not in Apple's interests. That's why I bought the M3 14" M3 MBP with 2TB of storage and the maximum amount of RAM for the basic M3, 24GB. I have 128GB on the iMac and I never have RAM issues. But only 1TB of SSD storage, which is why I moved the Photos library to external storage.

I bought a 9th Gen iPad WiFi with 256GB of storage, because both the 2017 Pro and the 6th Gen mini only have 64GB, and Photos eats most of it. The 9th Gen is showing 65GB used of 256GB, and the bulk of that is Photos.

Anyway, I don't think there's an iPad in my future anytime soon. I am planning on getting a new iPhone this fall, mainly for the improved cameras and a USB-C interface. I think the 2019 iMac is good for a few more years, assuming security updates keep coming. After that, we'll see. I wish I could use this 27" display as an external display, I'd just use the M3 MBP as a desktop. But Apple removed that capability for their own self-interest. Maybe I'll just take it offline, and use it without internet access. Who knows?

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06:48 Monday, 6 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.61°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 353

I've been a Backblaze subscriber for a little over a decade, beginning on April 13, 2014. In all that time, I don't recall that I've ever tried to recover a file until this morning.

I tried using Apple's versions from the Revert menu, and I don't know if I'm cursed, if there's some flaw in my file system or what, but I couldn't recover the file I wanted last night. Before I went to bed, I figured I'd try to recover a version using Howard Oakley's Revisionist utility.

I was lying away since about 0230, and I finally got up at 0400 and figured I'd see what I could do with recovering this file. I don't know why, but it occurred to me that Backblaze might be an easier way to go. I'd never tried it before, so it'd be interesting if nothing else.

After logging in, the interface is pretty straightforward. I think it's set up to basically restore an entire drive, but you can drill down to specific files. I almost missed the little calendar that lets you pick the date of the backup. I don't know how far back you can go, but a couple of weeks worked fine.

I restored the file I was looking for to a folder on an external drive. It was restored with the path of the original, which can be confusing when you open the file, and then click on the filename in the window and look at the path. It may appear to be in your User/you/Documents/whatever/ folder. I tried to "move" the file from the file menu in the app I was using, and I couldn't. I wasn't able to select a the desired folder in Documents.

I ended up renaming it in Finder, then opening that file and using a "Save as" to change the name back and put it in the "correct" folder. I'm not sure what all the issues are there, but that seems to have worked ok. I've closed the file and re-opened it, and it's saving and opening correctly from the desired folder.

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And We're Back

06:37 Monday, 6 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.81°F Pressure: 1013hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 263

Got home a little after 2000 last night. Learned something new about Maps. Mitzi didn't like any of the proposed routes back home from Pell City. The fastest one took us to Atlanta and she was adamant she didn't want to do that. The other two were each an hour longer, which didn't appeal to me.

She had an idea of how she wanted to go, so she asked for a route to Tifton, Georgia, knowing then she could get onto 75 and then onto 10 for the rest of the ride home.

That route to Tifton was over half the distance, and the total travel time was only a little longer than the Atlanta route, I think it was less than half an hour longer. What we weren't sure about was what kind of roads we'd be on. They were all limited access, divided highways for the most part, with lights at certain towns and junctions, but mostly 65mph with little traffic.

Roads were all in good shape, which is more than can be said for I-10 outside of Jax. Weather was fine, with a few light showers here and there. We stopped at a rest stop on 75 and had a picnic dinner.

So if you're unhappy about a particular route, or if you want to avoid the route that everyone else using CarPlay is probably using, pick an intermediate destination ("Add stop"), and then add subsequent ones to get you where you want to go. Might take a little longer, but it might be a more pleasant drive too.

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08:42 Saturday, 4 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.43°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 296

We made something of a "civil rights tour" yesterday. We visited The Legacy Museum first. It was a powerful experience. It was very much akin to the experience I had when I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

It's very large, very well done, and profoundly affecting.

I think it's going to be a little while before I can write anything about it that makes sense.

I will say that it brought to mind Governor Ron DeSantis' use of police to go to the homes of Black people suspected of having voted "illegally" (despite being registered by their county supervisor of elections), in the middle of the night to arrest them. History doesn't repeat, but it often rhymes and that act was clearly, extremely and deliberately resonant with the history of white supremacy in the south. And anger was one of the complex mix of emotions I felt as I toured that museum.

We also visited the Rosa Parks Museum and Library, a more modest museum though it has a very thorough exhibit on the Montgomery bus boycott. That was a more positive experience, because you get to see the courage and the ingenuity of an oppressed minority (who happened to be the majority of the population) frustrate and infuriate their oppressors.

Our final stop was the Greyhound Bus Terminal where we learned about the Freedom Riders. I learned a lot there, and learned that I didn't know nearly enough about that effort and the courage it took for people to make it.

There is little in "southern heritage" to celebrate. It is largely a heritage of hate. I can understand why many people would rather not recall it, but it needs a light shining on it all the brighter to keep the darkness away.

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08:35 Friday, 3 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 71.44°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 171

The title is a bit of a misnomer, because I initially was surprised.

As we were checking in yesterday, I noticed that the guy in front of me had a little "tactical" backpack with MOLLE strips and a patch with an AR-15 against a rainbow background and the words "Defend Equality."

I had to look that up.

Apparently, and I should not have been surprised so shame on me for my unexamined biases, but there is a segment of the LGBTQ community who are also 2A enthusiasts.

Apart from being gay, there's little to distinguish them from the other 2A enthusiasts who believe their firearms and the implicit threat of violence (not to say "desire for") is the only thing that keeps them "free."

I can't help but feel as though we are heading toward a more violent future. Perhaps it's part of the overall cascading effects of the present crisis, but there are people who seem to want it, who would will it into existence if they could.


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The Future

07:16 Friday, 3 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.58°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 105

I'm not sure what I think about this, very cogent, assessment from Charlie Stross.

On the one hand, I'm inclined to believe that the whole circus that is this present civilization will be circling the drain before we get to that point on anything approaching a routine basis.

On the other hand, it seems like it sure would be cool.

Say what you will about Musk and I probably won't argue with you, but SpaceX is a bright spot in this present moment. One element of my past future that has been realized in a way that hasn't turned into another circle of hell.


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On The Road

06:11 Friday, 3 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.01°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 472

I-10 West in Florida

We're in Montgomery, Alabama this morning. Shot is from yesterday on Florida I-10. Basically, drive west until the time zone changes, then turn right. Our ultimate destination is somewhere north of here for my nephew's wedding. It's a chance to see my youngest brother and do a little sight-seeing.

Staying in a Marriott Springhill Suites near the heart of Montgomery. I should write "stayed," because we check out today. But while we're here we're going to visit some of the civil rights history locations.

Made an entry in Captain's Log to put together a travel bag of cables. I have what is likely not a comprehensive set in my backpack that I use when flying, but since we're driving on this trip, I used my little, much battered, roller-bag. So I put together another bag of cables the night before last. Did pretty well, but forgot one, USB-C to USB-C (alternatively, a USB-A to USB-C), so now I can't charge the iPad mini. It's at 50%, and it's non-essential with the MBP I'm writing this on, but it's annoying. (Why bring it at all? It's nice in the car when I'm not driving.)

Today's modern life, unless I choose to forego all my "devices," requires USB-A to Lightning, USB-C to Lightning, USB-A to Apple Watch, USB-A to micro-USB (thanks OM Digital Systems) and the absent USB-C to USB-C. I expect to get either an iPhone 16 this fall, or perhaps a 15 if that seems preferable, which should eliminate the need for a Lightning cable if I don't bring one of the 10" iPads. Well, check that, just recalled the AirPods. I have the USB-C to MagSafe connector, but I could use USB-C to USB-C and omit the MagSafe cable. The Watch remains an outlier.

One other handy travel device is an Anker Power Bank. This one is new to me, though it may be discontinued by Anker. I didn't see it at the "Anker Store" at Amazon. I also have a preceding model with roughly the same capacity, but one less USB-C port and less output on the PD port. The extra USB-C port is main attraction on the new one. In many of the places we've stayed, power outlets are problematic for one reason or another, as they are in this converted warehouse. The Power Bank solves that problem and I can charge everything wherever it's convenient, often next to the bed. Then recharging the power bank wherever it's convenient when we're out during the day.

All of this complexity suggests something to me that I don't wish to think about too much.

This modern life.

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Sometimes RSS Is Depressing

13:38 Wednesday, 1 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 84.67°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 62% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 339

I have a "news" folder that aggregates various news sources that have RSS feeds. I mentioned not long ago that I liked the BBC news feed and that it didn't have many duplicate posts. I don't know what happened, but that's no longer the case. It seems every story is posted to RSS at least twice. I don't know if there are minor updates or not, I've glanced over them and hadn't noticed anything different.

But I'm not going to unsubscribe.

A lot of the BBC coverage includes climate or extreme weather stories from around the world, like the 24 people killed in a highway collapse in China. Or the flooding in Brazil. Or the flooding in Kenya.

I follow a site called The Invading Sea that covers climate stories as they relate to Florida. Like this one regarding the warming waters at abyssal depths. Or this one, which aggregates a long list of stories about Floridians and climate change.

Occasionally there are some "good news" stories, like the new EPA regulations regarding coal-fired power plants.

But you know that's just going to wind up at the Supreme Court where that majority of right-wing ideologues will say the EPA doesn't have the authority to regulate power plants.

It's probably way past "too late" to avoid the "catastrophic effects" climate scientists have been warning about. Maybe we might have bought ourselves some time if we took this stuff seriously in like, 1980. But we'd still be dealing with the effects of "overshoot" in terms of population growth and development, and the concomitant degradation of the natural environment and the ecological systems that underpin all of life on this planet.

The fact that extreme wealth inequality has the world's wealthiest people actively working to undermine and weaken the institutions of government that allow us to make consensus decisions and take collective action is coincident with these twin crises only makes it even worse.

We're not going to make it.

It's just sad to watch it all unfold in RSS.

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Good to Go

13:00 Wednesday, 1 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 85.51°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 54% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 472

We'll know for sure on 1 January 2025. Assuming I'm still around, which is a reasonable assumption at the moment.

In other news, I'd purchased an Epson FastFoto 680W scanner in November of '22. (If you care about when you may have purchased something, if you buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, you really should download your purchase history. So fast to hit CMD-F in Numbers and find something.)

I got it to scan my dad's WW II snapshots, a job which it performed admirably. The upload to Flickr could have gone better, but c'est la vie. One day, maybe, I'll square away the backs and the fronts.

I've still got to scan a rather large box of more contemporary snapshots, again, "one day."

But it came in very handy this morning, and rather impressed me. I used to have a Fujitsu ScanSnap 500M that I used in a half-hearted effort to "go paperless." It worked, but with multi-page scans, it often misfed. The software was temperamental, the OCR hit or miss and it wasn't exactly blazingly fast. (This was on my older intel Macs.) The Epson is the same form-factor, and I had a vague notion that it could do documents as well, but I'd never tried it.

Well, Mitzi needed a rather large stack of documents scanned and wanted to know if I had anything that could do it before she went to Kinko's, er, Fedex Office. I suggested we try the Epson.

It took a little fumbling around, the app wanted to update the software and the scanner's firmware. I had everything already installed on my 13" M1 MBP, so that's what we used. Firmware updates can be a little intimidating, especially since it offered to do everything wirelessly. The guidance for the update was rather lacking, the software update installer didn't automagically launch the firmware updater and I was unsure if I had to do that, or if I should wait. I went ahead and launched it myself, read some scary warnings and told it to proceed.

Surprise! All went well in much less than the "up to 15 minutes" they cautioned me about.

Got the alert that the MBP saw the scanner, stuck in the first sheaf of papers, then had a bit of a debate with Mitzi about which button we needed to push. We consulted the online guide and I was correct. Mashed that button and papers went flying across the room! Mitzi cried out, "They're not numbered!"

Then I figured out how to pull the receiver tray out of the bottom of the scanner.

It was amazing. No misfeeds. OCR'ed. Scanned clearly, put neatly into a pdf and all we had to do was name the file and tell it where to save.

It's wonderful when something "just works."

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There's Always Another Bug

08:51 Wednesday, 1 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.32°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 491

And I don't mean biting flies.

I'm a little reluctant to relate this, because I worry that it feeds into Jack's anxiety about Tinderbox. I shouldn't, I know. It's not Tinderbox, it's me!

Anyway, went to post this morning's moon and I got an AppleScript error. That hasn't happened in a long time. Checking, I discovered that the marmot hadn't created the May 2024 archive.

One of the wonderful things about Tinderbox is that pretty much everything is easily exposed and accessible to the user. My new month edict was refusing to run, and it wasn't clear why. The same code is running in Captain's Log and the Blog Test Platform, which I dusted off to help troubleshoot this problem, and they both had a May 2024 container.

So I exposed all the attributes I was using in the edict to see what their values were, and I immediately saw a problem. The edict begins by checking to make sure that we're still in the same year, so it doesn't, for example, create May 2025 in the 2024 container. So it looks at the date the 2024 container was created, which should have been, you know, 2024.

But it wasn't! It was 2023! Which was before I began to seriously work on automating all of this. I'm certain that I manually created the 2024 container at exactly 11:56 a.m. on Sunday, December 31, 2023, because that's when Tinderbox recorded it. So the first test in the edict was failing right out of the gate!

But I thought it worked at the beginning of April? I can't answer that, because there's no way it could have. The edict relies on $Created for the test, and that's a read-only value, so it simply couldn't work. And I couldn't manually coerce it to be something like 1/1/2024 either.

So, for at least the remainder of 2024, I've created another date-type attribute, ArchiveYear, which is set to 2024 and changed the edict to use that for the test and voila! May 2024 appeared.

But it has prompted me to look at the Archive containers in Captain's Log and Blog Test Platform as well. Their 2024 containers each created May 2024 correctly, but that's only because their 2024 containers were created in 2024, although manually, not by the Archive edict, because that hasn't needed to run yet. And looking at each of them, those edicts are wrong. I still want to rely on the intrinsic values, because they're appropriate for this purpose and there's no real value in creating a new attribute to do the same thing. I'm only doing it for what will be the remainder of 2024 because it's a simple way to patch this bug.

So I'll fix those in a minute, and then I'll wait for the next bug to reveal itself.

I will say, this is a lot easier than working on a water softener.

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May Morning Moon

08:39 Wednesday, 1 May 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.72°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 266

Closeup of last quarter moon, 50.2% illuminated

I walked first thing this morning, because the biting flies are back and they're more dormant before sunrise.

The flies are bad, but they're mostly just annoying. The reaction I get to their bite it short-lived, only a few hours, unlike mosquito bites which will itch for days. And, make of this what you will, each year it seems as though there are fewer of them. When we moved here almost five years ago, they were dense. I would wear a bandana sprayed with Deet around my neck and spray my hat and my legs and arms. They'd still harass me. Nowadays you'll get one or two as you pass beneath certain trees. Some of them are very slow, and if you notice them landing on you, you can kill them. I got three the other morning.

But when I'm carrying a camera, I only have my non-dominant hand available, so it's more challenging. Fairer for the flies, I guess.

Anyway, I wanted to get out before they were bad, relative though that may be, so I didn't shoot the last quarter moon first thing this morning.

I was surprised the handheld high-res shot worked as well as it did. I often get failures with this phase of the moon. Perhaps not enough features for the camera to be happy with the alignment. Since it was essentially almost daylight by the time I shot this, I de-saturated the image for a gray-scale result.

Then the fun began.

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