daily Archive

Not Arguing on the Internet

The impulse to argue online, or just to share knowledge, is a strange thing. It’s a thankless thing to do these days, when so many people are just waiting to be triggered by anything.

This morning, on a forum about a completely different topic, someone brought up pit bulls. There was the usual nature/nurture argument between “it’s the owners turning them mean” and “it’s the breed.” I quickly knocked out a couple hundred words about how it’s both: the breed was designed over many generations to be an aggressive fighter, but now it draws people who want to encourage that behavior. It was a well-written, fair explanation, and as I proofread it, I thought, “Why do this?” It was sure to get me downvoted and attacked, probably by people on both sides. Some of them might have even read it, but most wouldn’t. The odds of changing anyone’s mind with one post is slim to none. I don’t know any of these people, so why do I care what they think about pit bulls anyway?

So I canceled it without posting. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, writing something and then trashing it. When you know about things, there’s an impulse to share, and that’s generally not a bad thing. Internet forums probably aren’t the best place to do it, though. The other day, someone mentioned finding my reddit account. It was a weird feeling, because I’m not ashamed of anything I post there, but you don’t write the same in the middle of conversations as you would if you expected someone to read all your posts in one sitting. I even wonder about this blog sometimes. I stand behind everything I write here, but the “Dear Reader” in my mind when I’m writing is someone who knows me, so I don’t have to lard posts up with disclaimers. Someone who drops in here cold wouldn’t have that context and could take away all sorts of impressions. I’m too old to care about that, but if I were more fragile, I’d have to.

At least the blog has another purpose, as a place to collect links to my content that might actually produce some value. More on that coming soon. In the meantime, I think I’m going to stop all other online commenting that can be tied to my name, and do less of it in general. I should satisfy the impulse on more useful, lasting writing anyway.

Staying Warm & Bashing

Once I start burning wood for heat in the winter, I like to keep the fire going, because that’s easier than starting a fresh fire every day. The down side is, even a small fire in the furnace means you’re getting some heat, whether you need it or not. So these sunny, 50-something days get up to 80 in the house, and you have to start cracking windows. It’s almost nice when the weather settles into winter temperatures, so it feels good to keep it toasty all the time.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be too accurate. For years now, I’ve had “Unix shell programming” on my resume along with other programming languages. I said “shell” because there are lots of Unix shells, from the basic sh to its descendant ksh and then to bash and zsh, just to list one branch of the family tree. All the shells that descend from sh are programmed basically the same, plus features that each one adds; but if you program for sh, it’ll run in all of them. I mostly use mksh on my systems, but also bash and sh on a regular basis. So I just said “shell” rather than limit myself to a few or list them all, and I’ve never really gotten calls for doing it.

The other day I was talking to a friend in the business who said he runs into a lot of companies who need “bash programming,” and they think of it as just “bash,” not shell, so that’s what they look for. Bash is the default GNU/Linux shell, so people whose only Unix-type experience has been with Linux in the past 20 years think of it as the only one. Some distros are now moving to dash, another ksh successor, but bash is still dominant. Had I said I do “bash scripting,” I might have gotten calls for it, and 99% of the time it wouldn’t matter what shell they actually use.

I guess the lesson is: if you’re trying to market a skill or product, don’t choose the terms that make the most sense or are the most correct. Find out what the people who need it will call it, right or wrong, and use those.

Collecting Bones

Guy’s second annual Deer Drag has begun. He found another deer carcass, probably one the neighbors dumped behind their place, and is bringing it home piece by piece like last year. First there was a chunk of meat, then a leg, then a couple nights ago the whole spine and ribs. He hadn’t showed up for a while at night, so I went looking for him, and he was working on it in the neighbors' front yard. I went and dragged it the rest of the way so he wouldn’t get hit while pulling it across the road.

I haven’t had to fill his dog food bowl in over a week, so that’s nice.

Collecting Bones

Guy’s second annual Deer Drag has begun. He found another deer carcass, probably one the neighbors dumped behind their place, and is bringing it home piece by piece like last year. First there was a chunk of meat, then a leg, then a couple nights ago the whole spine and ribs. He hadn’t showed up for a while at night, so I went looking for him, and he was working on it in the neighbors' front yard. I went and dragged it the rest of the way so he wouldn’t get hit while pulling it across the road.

I haven’t had to fill his dog food bowl in over a week, so that’s nice.

Kittens and Spring Pictures

I’ll be darned.

The two older momma cats had kittens about a month ago. I normally don’t interfere in animal birthing unless there’s an obvious problem, because their instincts usually know best. One had hers in a sensible location, a shelf in the basement inside sort of a frame that kept them from falling off. The other one didn’t. She picked a small shelf over the basement stairs, so the kittens could immediately fall about 8 feet.

I found two of them after it was already too late for them, but she had one nursing. Then that one disappeared, so I thought she’d moved it to a safer place. After a while, though, I noticed she was following me around and acting out of sorts. She seemed to be making a nest in an old blanket on the porch, but there were no kittens there. Then I found the missing kitten where he must have fallen to the basement floor and crawled behind a box. He must have been there for at least a day.

He barely showed any signs of life, but I went and got his mama and made her smell him. She didn’t seem interested. So I took him to her nest on the porch, and then she started licking him. A day later he was gone again, so I thought he probably died. Then I noticed a couple times when I was in the basement, she came down the stairs, and I followed her back to a hole in the wall to the space under the bathtub. She’d moved him in there.

He mewled under there once in a while at first, but I hadn’t heard him in a long time, so again I thought he’d died. Yesterday I opened the basement door, and there were kitten and cat poking their heads out of the hole. It looked like she wanted to bring him out of there, but couldn’t make the jump to the stairs while carrying him. So I got a box and put some paper in it, and stuck them in the box next to the stairs.

Then he disappeared again, and I found him on the stairs going out of the basement. She must have been trying to take him outside somewhere and lost him along the way. Back to the box. In my mind, he’s already used up half his lives, but if he manages to survive this quality of mothering, he’s going to be one tough cat.

Here’s the other litter waiting for Momma to come back. Free kittens in T-minus two months, give or take. I haven’t counted boys and girls yet, because I respect their privacy (what’s that from?). As usual, I can’t take a decent picture indoors.

This was 2-3 weeks ago when we had that three inches of snow out of nowhere. It didn’t last long, but long enough to get a picture of the first asparagus sticking up through it.

The chickens like to be near some cover most of the time. Fear of hawks, I guess. So lately they’ve been hanging out near the pile I’ve been stacking up for a cookout.

I’ve been trying to decide where to put the new chicks this year, and time is running short to get them. I’ve had them in the basement before, and that worked okay, but I took down that pen to stack firewood there, and I didn’t want to have to put it back up. Wherever they go has to be cat-tight on top of coon-tight, which makes it tough. I thought about building a pen in the barn and running an extension cord out there for the heat lamps, but then I’d be up a couple times a night to make sure they stayed on.

Then I thought of this little chicken house I built a dozen years ago. I never expected it to last this long, and it’s been settling into the ground where it was sitting unused for eight years now. But I figured if I could drag it up near the house and make it tight, I could run an extension cord to it and have it close enough that I could look out from the house to check on it at night.

The bicycle wheels were so I could move it around the yard with a portable pen and keep the chickens from killing out one patch of grass. It’s heavy enough that it wasn’t easy to move, but it worked back then. There was no chance of moving it by hand this time, though. So I pried it up enough to get a rope under the front corners and around the back, and started pulling. Once it came loose from the ground, it actually went pretty well. The bottom is a 3/4-inch piece of plywood, and it hasn’t fallen apart yet. Now I just need to make sure everything is secure, and it’ll be ready for chicks.

A Dog Story with a Happy Ending

Guy gave me a bit of a scare last week. He woke me up about 3am having some kind of spasms, and couldn’t settle down. It got worse over the next hour and he started panting hard too. I was looking up the symptoms to see what it might be, and the two main things seemed to be poison or a seizure. Vomiting usually went along with them, so I let him outside to see if he needed to do that. He wouldn’t leave my side and could barely stay on his feet, so I went back in to put my shoes on to walk him out into the yard. Then he ran off into the dark. And the rain. Great.

I got the spotlight and started circling around the place looking for him, but had no luck. By the time the sun came up, I was really just looking for a motionless white form. Then I spotted him tangled up in some brush on a slope. He couldn’t get his feet under him to get out of it, so he looked pretty pitiful, but he was still kicking.

I carried him up to the house and put him on some blankets to wait for the vet to be in. His shaking had subsided a lot, but whether from improvement or exhaustion I didn’t know. By business hours, though, he had stopped shaking almost completely and was able to stumble around a bit, so I decided to wait and see, since that’s what the vet likely would have said anyway. By evening, he was willing to eat a small piece of hot dog so I could put a pain pill in it, and then he crashed for the night. The next day all the trembling was gone, but he was still shaky on his feet, and would only eat small bits of chicken.

It took three days before he was back to normal drinking and eating a little dog food, but on the fourth day he was running in the woods while we hunted mushrooms, running every rabbit and deer track and collecting a couple dozen ticks. That’s the good thing about dogs: once they get over something, they’re over it.

Poisoning seems the most likely culprit. Some new neighbors down the road have been cleaning a bunch of junk out of a shed, including some old vehicles, so he could have gotten into a puddle of antifreeze, or someone could have something out for coons or rats. Hard to say, but I’m keeping a closer eye on him to keep him from wandering off for a while. Here he is while I was mowing yesterday. For some reason he likes to stay close for that, so he has to keep getting up and moving every time I come around.

Big Guy

I was sorting through some old images and ran across this one. Looks like it’s from a little over two years ago, so I’d guess he’s about two and a half now. Doesn’t he look harmless?

He’s not a puppy anymore, though he’s still just as ornery. Today he was digging up mole runs. The moles must have been busy under the snow, because there are a bunch of hills and runs around. He’ll probably have this whole area dug up in a couple days. Don’t mind, as long as he gets them.

This is just fun, and well made, with a great song. And I learned something: when it sounds like they’re saying “Bruce” and the video has fun with all the Bruces, it’s actually a made-up word, “Grooss.” Whaddaya know.

Springtime Chickens

The chickens are definitely ready for spring. They’ve been coming outside for a few weeks now, even a little in the snow, but they couldn’t have been finding much to eat in the frozen ground. Now they’re on the roam all day. They especially like the spot where firewood was stacked last year, so they couldn’t get to it until now.

I don’t know why the picture quality in this video is so bad. I guess I need to acquire either some better camera skills, or a better camera that can make up for my lack of them.

Do Not Want

Interesting article here on America’s continued rejection of the metric system. I didn’t know it was pushed by the French Revolution, but I’m not surprised. The same people are still pushing it today. One of my earliest school memories is of watching a filmstrip about the metric system. It had a scene where a driver got a speeding ticket because he saw a sign that said 95 kilometers per hour and assumed it meant 95 miles per hour. We were told we’d better get with the program and learn to love metric, because it was inevitable.

Well, forty years on, there’s less metric in our lives than there was then, as far as I can tell. I run into metric sizes on vehicles and power equipment less often than I did 20 years ago. It’s still on labels for things like food, probably forced by those pro-metric laws from the 1970s, but it’s in parentheses, as if to say (and by the way, we had to add this).

Metric is useful in the lab where measurements are arbitrary, and that’s about it. It’s not good for measuring things in real life. It’s definitely not helpful for working with computers, since its base-10 nature is a pain where everything is done in base-2 or an exponent of that. Computer users adopted some of the prefixes like kilo and mega, but they’re only approximations. A real kilobyte is 1024 bytes and a real megabyte is 1,048,576. That leads to confusion, because some companies that sell things like hard drives started using them to mean literally a thousand, a million, a billion, etc. At the larger sizes, that makes a big difference in how much space you’re actually getting, since a true gigabyte is 7.4% larger than a marketing gigabyte.

So we’re not doing it. See also: soccer. That was the other thing they told us we’d better get used to, because soccer would outpace all our other sports someday. Well, lots of parents use soccer as exercise for their kids and a social event for themselves, but no one actually cares about the sport itself. And that’s fine. They never told us we had to learn cricket because it’s huge in India, or Go because it’s big in China. Just soccer, for some reason. But after decades of trying to make us care, we remain indifferent.

At least there are a few things we’re united on as Americans.

Feeling Spring Fever

This always seems to me like the time of year when you’re just trying to get through. The sun is getting higher in the sky and the days are longer, so it feels like you should be outside doing things. But it’s 26 degrees. That’s not brutal or anything, but it means the ground is still frozen. Too soon to start working the soil, or digging up plants to move, or anything like that. There are some things to do, though. Sharpen hoes and shovels so they’re ready for action. Haul composted bedding out of the chicken house and spread it on the gardens. Pick up the sticks that are still scattered across the garden where I dropped the tree. Plenty to do, just not the fun springtime stuff yet.

There was some hedge in the last batch of firewood I cut, small limbs that got knocked down by the bigger tree I was cutting. Too small to keep if it were anything else, but hedge (Osage Orange to some) is amazing stuff. It’s like the sap is flammable. You can toss hedge in the furnace completely green, and it’ll burn hotter than anything else. It burns so hot that you have to be careful with it, because a full load of it can warp some furnaces. I just throw one stick in with a load of other stuff, and when I come back later, I can tell where it was because those coals are white-hotter than the rest. Need to cut some hedge posts this summer, for a fence and the firewood that comes with them.

The programming videos are going great. They still have a small audience, but it’s growing. I wasn’t sure at first that I’d be able to produce one a week, but they’ve been coming easier than I expected, so it’s been about double that lately. It helps that I’ve gotten kind of a process down for converting the raw file, offsetting the time on my voice, and getting it ready to upload. Now it’s usually a one-shot thing, instead of having to redo it a few times to get it right.

The next big project is going to be a Stardew Valley-type game for the 128. That’s way too ambitious, since there’s no way to replicate most of that game with 80s technology, but I think it’ll be interesting to see how much can be done. It might be a year-long project or more, I don’t really know. Should be fun.

The impulse to write seems to be coming back lately. Maybe it’s part of spring approaching. Or it might be that I was listening to a lot of podcasts, but got burned out and dropped most of them. You can’t really write and listen to someone talk at the same time, not on different topics. Same part of the brain, I guess. I’ll stick to music for a while and see what happens.

One podcast I’m not dropping is 372 Pages, which only comes out every week or two. It’s Mike Nelson of MST3K and one of his friends from Rifftrax, doing to bad books what they’ve been doing with bad movies. They started with Ready Player One, but they’ve also tackled Tekwar and some self-published books. That’s been another inspiration to get back to writing: there is some really bad writing out there, so nothing can be worse.

That also reminded me of this. In one of the first podcasts, they were talking about Meatloaf (both the food and the big sweaty guy), and one of them described this song as starting slow and then building and backing off and building some more until it feels like there are cannons firing off the stage. That’s pretty much it. I’m not usually a fan of live versions of songs I already like, and the original album version of this song is excellent. But it’s worth watching him sing it live for the first time in decades. He always looks like he’s about to scream his last breath into a song, and this is no exception. Every time you think he’s winding down, he’s just taking a breath.

Fixing a Monitor with an Identity Crisis

After today, I’m about ready for an old-man rant about the evils of modern technology. Instead I’ll write up the problem and solution I had today in case others come looking for it.

I happened to brush against my computer today and the static caused it to freeze up. Okay, that’s annoying, but not the end of the world. Reboot and start things back up. But monitor #2 came back up in a weird resolution. It’s normally 1680x1050, and it was 1280x1024 for some reason. Not just smaller, but stretched out horizontally.

Investigation found that the monitor, which is a Westinghouse LCM-22w3, started telling the video card it’s actually an Acer AL1714. It’s suddenly a trans-monitor. Next thing I know it’ll demand I call it Catelyn.

Back in the old days, you had to configure the X Window display for your monitor by hand, filling in modelines with horizontal and vertical sync values from the specs, which could be kind of a pain. Nowadays, monitors have something called EDID, which is a block of data held on a chip which is sent to the video card to tell it what the monitor is capable of. That’s very handy if it works. But suddenly mine’s EDID block says it’s an Acer with completely different specs. Other people online reported the same thing, so it must not be uncommon.

I figured there would be a database somewhere of correct EDID blocks for different monitors, the way we used to have databases of modelines. Couldn’t find one for it. So I couldn’t just override the monitor’s EDID block with a file. I tried tinkering with the Xorg config in various ways, none of which worked. Sometimes one monitor would work, sometimes the other, sometimes they’d both work and both have wrong resolutions.

One suggestion said to use xrandr to force the right mode, but that gave me a BadMatch error. It turned out that because the NVidia card was getting the bad EDID block, it thought the monitor couldn’t handle the mode I was trying to force. So the first part of the solution ended up being to add this line to the “Monitor” section for the Westinghouse in my xorg.conf (actually my /usr/local/etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/driver-nvidia.conf, but the location of yours may vary):

Option   "UseEDID"  "FALSE"

On starting X, both monitors were active (progress!) but with the wrong resolution, since the video card couldn’t use EDID to ask what it should be. So then I had to run these commands:

xrandr --newmode "1680x1050_60.00"  146.25  1680 1784 1960 2240  1050 1053 1059 1089 -hsync +vsync
xrandr --addmode DVI-D-0 1680x1050_60.00
xrandr --output VGA-0 --mode 1280x1024
xrandr --output DVI-D-0 --mode 1680x1050_60.00

My setup has a 1280x1024 Samsung connected via VGA on the left, and the 1680x1050 Westinghouse connected via DVI on the right. So the first line there adds the new mode the Westinghouse needs, using values I got from running cvt 1680 1050. The second line adds that new mode to the right-hand monitor, and the third and fourth lines set the correct resolution for each monitor. All is well now.

Now I’ll just add those four xrandr lines to my ~/.xinitrc, so they run each time I start up X with startx. Depending on how X starts on your system, you may need to put them somewhere else.

Hunkering Down for Colder Cold

My 6502 video series might be taking off. I had been getting a new YouTube subscriber every couple weeks, but last week there was about one per day, and then suddenly there were 11 on Sunday. Comments are increasing too. Don’t know yet if it’s a fluke or if it’ll keep climbing, but it’s cool either way. I was going to keep doing the series in any case, but it’s nice to know someone’s getting some use from it.

This will be me the next few days, but with firewood. We’re getting a little reprieve in the weather this morning, popping above freezing for several hours before diving back down to 3° tonight. Maybe it’ll at least melt off the ice we’ve been shuffling around on for the last week [note from the future: it didn’t]. Then we’re supposed to have about 40 hours straight where it never gets over -4°. Pretty cold for around here.

It’s a good thing I did my 6502 video a couple days early, because I was beat last night. Cutting firewood isn’t really that strenuous, but packing it a hundred yards through snow out of the timber is. I wanted to take down some dry, dead trees, and that’s as close as I could drive to them. It’ll be worth it to have a blazing fire going through this cold spell. Currently sitting at a toasty 76 degrees!

I’m typing this with one eye closed because it’s still watering and hurts a little from getting sawdust in it yesterday. I might have to start wearing eye protection while cutting wood. I’ve always hated any kind of goggles, because it feels like they cut off your vision, and that’s not good when I’m dropping a tree and watching for the first sign that it’s cracking. It’s probably worse to be blinking sawdust out of your eyes at that moment, though.

I’ve been forgetting to put my “playcast” videos up as blog posts lately, but I have done a few. Rather than make a bunch of posts after-the-fact for them, here are links to them:

I’ll be continuing with both, but the first Autoduel session ended when the game locked up, so I had to start over and replay back to a similar point in the game.

Morning Wood Splitting

I was splitting wood this morning, and realized that has to be in the top ten of things that are completely unrealistic in movies and on TV. When you see someone splitting wood on screen, it usually looks like the beginning of this scene from Star Trek Generations: nice small, straight pieces of wood that split easy, a sturdy flat stump to set them on so they’re at the perfect angle, and no brush or snow or ice around your feet to trip on.

The reality often looks more like this: big knotty pieces with grain running three different directions, too big to go in the furnace as-is even if you cut them thin like this. Get any angle you want, and you’ll still be hacking at them for a while to crack them. The brush frozen into the snowy ground around your feet adds a bit more challenge.

It’s a good workout, though. Nothing like sweating through your shirt, sweater, and jacket when it’s 20 degrees outside.

In case anyone wonders: yes, that’s actually a maul, not an ax. A narrower splitting ax goes through lighter stuff better, but it tends to get stuck in wood like this. This 6-pound maul delivers a better blow when you’re really trying to crack it more than split it. That’s how it seems to me, anyway.

Consummatum Est

Translation: It is finished. Aaaaand there’s one piece missing, on the bottom edge there. Usually I throw away puzzles if they’re missing pieces, but I hate to do that with this one, since it’s my only 3000-piecer. So I took it apart into sections and put it back in the box ready to re-assemble. Maybe I’ll find the missing piece under some furniture or somewhere. I wouldn’t mind gluing this one to a board, if it were whole.

It was kind of an annoying puzzle, because some of the same shapes were used repeatedly. I’d put a piece in somewhere and then later realize it fit, but wasn’t exactly the right color. I don’t know why my picture of it is so bad. I just used my phone, so maybe there wasn’t enough light.

Now on to the 1000-piece chicken puzzle I got for Christmas. It looks to be much easier, which will be a nice break after this bear.

Let It Snow

Looks like I jinxed us, talking about sunny weather and garden planning a couple days ago. I took an “after” picture to go with Thursday’s “before” picture, after most of the snow today.

As snowstorms go, it wasn’t bad. Lots of snow, but it came down easy, and we can use the added groundwater. Might get a little more overnight. Maybe tomorrow I’ll see if I can fashion a sled out of something and give the hill a try.

I don’t know how much we got, because it drifted around a bit, but the average seemed around 9 inches the last time we went for a walk today. That matched what I measured here with my hand, downwind of the house so it could pile up.

And the always-great view from the porch. I really should get rid of that satellite dish. It’s an eyesore and there’s no chance it’ll ever be useful again. It’s currently one end of the clothesline, though, so….

Birds & Blue Skies

A bald eagle flew overhead this morning while Guy and I were on patrol. By the time I got my gloves off, phone out, and camera on, it was nearly past, but I managed to get this one shot of it. They’ve been hanging around here a bit this last week. Shape-wise they look just like a turkey vulture, so that’s what I figured they were at first, but when they get close enough you can see the white head and tail.

We also saw a few bluebirds, but I couldn’t get close enough for a picture, so here’s a good one from someone else.

Between the birds and the blue skies, it’s starting to feel like spring is coming, even though it’s still a ways off. I even saw a dandelion yesterday, that must have been tricked into blooming by the warm weather. Might be time to break out the seed catalogs and start sorting through last year’s leftover seed. Need to figure out how much and what to plant this year, and how much garden to try to have in the first place. Three full plots was really too much to keep up with last year, so I might need to cut back. That’s hard to do in the spring, though, because the weather is nice and planting is easy.

Going Puzzling

When I was done wrapping Christmas presents, the kitchen table was completely clear for the first time in a long time, so I decided to start a puzzle that needs a lot of space. This is the biggest one I have, at 3000 pieces, so it should take a while. As it turns out, I also got a new puzzle for Christmas (1000 pieces with chickens on it, very cool), so now I have to finish this one so I can do that one.

A puzzle like this definitely requires the reading glasses at this point. And plenty of light.

One weird thing about puzzles that take a long time: when I walk away for hours or days and come back, I’ll usually find the place for some pieces right away, even if I couldn’t place them the last time I was working on it. The same thing happens with killer sudoku puzzles. There’s something about stepping away and coming back with fresh eyes that makes things suddenly fall into place.

There was a power surge here today that knocked down my UPS, thus powering off my workstation. Pretty annoying, but that’s better than having the surge come through and burn something out. It gave me an excuse to open the system up and blow out a couple years' worth of dust. I also stuck in a spare hard drive I had lying around and made it all swap space, so now my system has almost 80GB of swap. That’s ridiculous, but at least I know it won’t ever run out of RAM/swap when it’s building a big package like Iridium (Chrome) anymore.

And it booted right back up, which is the main thing. I always hold my breath after any power outage like that, until things are back to normal.

I did some of my Christmas shopping at the calendar store at the mall, which has a lot of board games and puzzles. I only go to the mall once a year, so I don’t know if it’s permanent or a seasonal thing. I noticed they carried a reproduction of Mattel Electronic Football. I was tempted to buy one for nostalgia’s sake, although I didn’t have it as a kid. Some friends did, so I got to play theirs a few times. I suppose that was my first experience with a “computer” of sorts.

It’s amazing to see now how simple it was – just blips on a 3x9 grid, and you tried to move your flashing blip past the other blips. And we would play it for hours. Nowadays they pour millions of dollars into fancy 3D graphics and modeling, and don’t always end up with a game more enjoyable than blips on an LED screen were then. There might be a lesson in that.

Merry Christmas Miscellaneous

Some thoughts I’ve jotted down over the last few days before Christmas:

I bought eggs this weekend for the first time this winter. It sucks to do that when you have chickens, but that’s how it goes. For those who don’t know: chickens usually stop laying for a month or two in the winter while they molt (gradually shed their feathers and grow a new set). Young ones don’t always do it their first winter, but after that they generally do. You can fool them by putting a light on a timer for 14 hours a day, because it’s the length of daylight that triggers the shutdown, but I don’t do that. I figure it’s probably healthier for them to have their natural break and then come on strong in the spring.

I’m still getting 2-3 a day from the younger ones, but that’s not as many as I normally use, so I figured I might as well pick some up on sale. Maybe next time I have a glut of them in the summer, instead of eating a dozen a day and giving a bunch away, I should freeze enough to use through the winter.

Speaking of seasons and the shortness of the daylight, at least the days are getting longer now. Always glad to get past that. The next couple of months may be colder, but it’s good to see the sun coming up earlier each morning.

I’m getting closer to getting a landline phone. I had another call a couple days ago where I struggled to hear the person. Actually, it was the second call, because the first time she called I couldn’t hear anything and the connection died after a few seconds. I realize the call quality is affected by both ends, so the other end could still be crap no matter what I do, but cell-to-cell just seems to keep getting worse.

I’ve had three (make that four) conversations in the last month with people who say it’s hard to find techs who know Linux. That really surprised me. I assumed most people who do “computer stuff” would have tinkered with Linux over the last 20-some years, but it doesn’t seem that way. So I’m kicking around the idea of doing some kind of Linux/Unix training, and what that would need to look like. More on that in a podcast soon.

Guy’s collecting habit is getting out of hand. He dragged the item below up last week. He could only pull it a few feet at a time before he had to stop and get a new grip, so it must have taken him quite a while to get it home. I’ve had to kick it out of the driveway a few times, because apparently that’s where he thinks he should keep it, right in the middle of things.

If it sounds like the yard is littered with bones at this point, well, not really. But a little bit. I’ll try to leave some space before the picture, so people who don’t want to see skeletal remains can stop here and not scroll down. Merry Christmas!







More Snow, Stardew, and Snookered

It’s snowing again this morning. The last snow just melted off a few days ago, and now things are white again. Seems like we’ve already had more snowy days than the last couple years. Don’t know if this one will be enough to sled on. There’s a pretty good long hill out back, but I didn’t get around to trying it last time.

A Dollar General just sprouted in Payson. That’s how it seems, anyway. I drive by there most weekends, and I just noticed the construction a couple weeks ago, and it’s already open. It’s not really any closer than Quincy from here, but it’s a better drive, and it’s good to see businesses opening in a small town like that. Payson might have more businesses now than it has since I was a kid.

Funny timing: I complained here a few days ago about playing newer games in VirtualBox, and yesterday I ran across instructions for how to run Stardew Valley natively on FreeBSD. It works great; no more graphics glitches or hammering half my CPUs to play it. I haven’t dug into how it does it, but I guess it’s because the game is built on a cross-platform framework called Mono, so it’s fairly easy to make it work anywhere that Mono runs, which includes FreeBSD.

Now I just need to figure out how to accomplish the same trick with FTL, and I can leave VirtualBox/Linux turned off except for work-related testing.

It’s been a long day, trying to fix an email problem that’s not really an email problem so much as a “client keeps getting their password stolen” problem, and trying to find a solution anyway rather than just telling them they have to keep changing their password every couple days because they must have a compromised system that’s letting it get out.

I should be doing my next 6502 Assembly lesson, but I’m beat. Maybe I’ll relax with some Hee Haw videos instead.

Guy's Prize

Guy found a prize a few days ago. Someone must have dressed out a deer not far away, so he showed up with part of a leg and a lot of dirt on his nose. Now every time we go outside, he has to go check on it and chase away any cats. A few nights ago, he tried to bring it inside. When I told him no, he stayed out on the porch guarding it for a couple hours until he got cold enough to come in without it.

I bought a pair of rubber boots yesterday, and had to get 14s to get a pair that slipped on easily as the 12s I bought a few years ago. Either my feet have been growing, or boot sizes are shrinking. I don’t think it’s my feet.

I’ve been having writer’s block lately, or at least blogger’s block. I did knock out about a thousand words for the intro of my Farscape series the other day, but that’s a different thing. I could try to plow through by writing about having writer’s block, but that would surely be even more boring to read than it would be to write about.

So how about a technical topic.

I’ve run FreeBSD on my workstation since about 2000, when I started using it on servers. I just prefer it to Linux, for a variety of reasons that I think I’ve written about before. There’s one area where it suffers, though: commercial games. Most open source games are available in the ports tree, but on commercial games we’re out in the cold where Linux was 20 years ago. Many commercial games come for Linux now, but not for FreeBSD.

So I get around that by running Linux or Windows in a virtual machine using VirtualBox. That works fine for older games that aren’t too demanding. It’s not great for newer games that really need hardware 3D, though. VirtualBox only supports OpenGL 2.1 for 3D graphics; and Stardew Valley, for instance, requires 3.0. So the only way to play Stardew is to turn off hardware 3D and let it use software rendering. That mostly works, but once in a while the framerate drops and gets really choppy for several seconds, then comes out of it. FTL does something similar, bogging down on certain screens with a lot of moving parts in the background. I tried pushing more CPUs at it, but that didn’t seem to make a difference.

I can’t complain, because it’s amazing that we can run virtual systems on systems in the first place. The ideal solution would probably be to get a second PC for gaming and run Linux on it. I can’t see doing that to make a couple games work better, though, when most of the games I play work fine as-is. All my old Commodore 64 games play great.

I get a kick out of this one. There’s some interesting symbolism in it (notice which two run together the whole time), but who knows whether that’s intentional. Mostly it’s just fun, and a good song.

Auction Haul

I went to an auction last weekend. The two main things I went for were a garden push plow (pictured below) and a chainsaw. I got both, plus about $20 in “choice boxes,” so it was a good day. Choice box is when they’re selling a bunch of stuff in boxes, usually on a wagon, and they don’t want to go box by box because that would take all day and some wouldn’t get bids. So they take “choice” bids on a bunch of boxes, and then whoever gets the high bid takes however many boxes he wants for that amount each, and then if there are any left, they go again.

Usually, they don’t shift to choice box until they’ve cleared some of the more valuable things off a wagon, and that gives you some time to eyeball what’s left. In this case, the auctioneer caught us by surprise, going straight to it on the first wagon, and the bid only went to $2, which was also his minimum bid. So right away he said, “Anyone else want a box off this wagon for $2?” I’d seen one box with hats and another with new pairs of gloves, both of which I needed, so I grabbed both of those. Ended up with more than two dozen hats, including a couple that weren’t even advertisements, so that was a bonus.

That’s how a lot of the day went. It was cold, under 40 degrees with a pretty good wind coming across the wet field so it felt colder. It was a big enough auction that they ran two rings most of the day, and I think they just wanted to get done. So I got several $2 boxes, one full of light bulbs, a couple with dishes and pots and pans, and some with tools and hardware. Also a small power sander and sabre saw together for $3.

It’s kinda funny, because at $1 or $2, it’s almost impossible for a box of stuff to be worth less than that. Even shop rags cost more than that if you buy them at a store. But when you’re at an auction, you can’t buy every box of stuff, so you hold back and look for great deals or things you really need.

The push plow was my real prize. A new one is $100 or so. I got mine for $18, and it’s probably made of stronger stuff than a new one. That’s going to save a lot of hoeing next year. The chainsaw is more questionable. I paid $10 for it, and it needs a new starter pulley. It has good compression, so I’m hopeful that it’ll run once I get that. Sometimes you take a chance.

Late that night, I went to get a drink in the dark and forgot all my choice boxes were still on the living room floor waiting to be sorted through. While falling, I had images of a box full of broken dishes stabbing me in the gut, so I managed to catch myself with my face and one free hand on the other side. My split lip is healed up, but it feels like there might be a small bone in my hand that’s cracked and will take longer.

This 5-1/2 pound cabbage got made into cole slaw for Thanksgiving. Actually, half of it did, because that was a big enough batch. I picked the rest of the cabbages this week, and this one was the biggest. There are still some cauliflowers out there, but I’ll leave them until after this warm spell, to give them a chance to pick up more size.

Got a picture of the cat I call Two-Face. Yes, that’s a horrible name for a cat, but I’m bad at names. This was as close as I can get when she’s not eating. I should learn how to take decent pictures. Cameras keep getting more pixels, and my pictures continue to be blurry. Everything but the cat seems to be in focus.

Something might be up with my Facebook account. Usually when I share a blog post there, it gets a few hits from that direction. The last few have gotten one or none. It might be because I’ve been using Bitchute for my videos. Bitchute was deplatformed the other day by Paypal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if their Big Tech allies are suppressing links to it. Its decentralized design is a real threat to the centralized systems like YouTube and Facebook, even if you ignore the political angle (which they don’t).

I’m going to keep using Bitchute because it’s a good thing and we need more choices like it. If that means Facebook suppresses my posts, well, I expected that eventually anyway.

It’s also possible my articles just suck lately so people stopped reading. Can’t rule that out.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

More Old Blog Posts: Latin Mass

Here are some more posts copied from my old blog, all on the Latin Mass. These are almost exactly ten years old, from when it was just getting started at St. Rose. So this is sort of an anniversary post.

They are unedited, except for taking out broken links to images. If I start editing them, I’ll end up completely rewriting them, because I’d nitpick over my writing, and I’d probably think some of the opinions naive, since I was just starting to learn about the Mass then. I might have even gotten some things wrong. That’s okay, they are what they are, and it is what it is.

Seed Catalogs and Smart Phones

The first seed catalog arrived today, from Pinetree. I like them a lot, and will be buying from them again next year. But this is really too soon to get seed catalogs. Next year’s garden is still next year. They used to start showing up around New Year’s. That works well because January is a good time to plan and think about warmer things. Right now, when we’re still harvesting things like cabbage and cauliflower, it just seems early. I’m not ready to plan for a garden five months away.

Then again, one of my neighbors has had Christmas lights up for a couple weeks. So maybe I’m the only one not anxious to get on with winter.

Guy doesn’t really love it either. He will go out in it, but doesn’t stay long if I’m not out there with him. Pepper had that double layer of fur from her wolf heritage, so she thrived in the cold and snow, but Guy not so much. He’s glad to go running in it if there’s something to hunt, though.

When I bought my phone, it was my first smartphone, so I bought the cheapest one they had, for $30 (then the same phone was $1 for new customers a couple weeks later, but oh well). They all looked the same for my purposes. They all ran the same version of Android, a.k.a. crippled Linux. Some had nicer cameras, but I didn’t care much about that. I just wanted one that could make calls and texts and maybe run a few apps, and it looked like they could all do that.

And my $30 LG K8 does it all fine. There’s just been one problem: it only has 8GB of RAM. That would be plenty on an ordinary Linux system, because I could strip it down to essentials, but the Android OS is larded up with lots of Google crap I don’t need that can’t be deleted. It also has a manufacturer’s “feature” in that it will only let you use an added SDRAM card for certain things. It can’t just be mounted as part of the main filesystem. Most apps can’t be moved to it, including all the built-in Google apps. I put a 32GB card in it to store things like video, but most apps are still locked into that internal 8GB.

When I first had it, the built-in stuff took up maybe 6.9GB, so I still had a GB or more free to work with. That was about three years ago, though, and apparently apps have been creeping up in size. Now I can only pare it down to about 7.5GB, even after getting rid of some apps like Facebook and Twitter altogether.

So it looks like I need to upgrade to at least a 16 GB system. Kinda crazy, but there it is. Hmm, they have a new 16GB version of the same model for $20. What are the odds that I get that one and it has a newer version of the OS that takes up 15GB? Guess it’s worth a try. I’ve been happy with it other than the memory idiocy. The battery life is noticeably shorter too, so it’s about time.

Ideally, I’d toss the thing and get a landline phone that hangs on the wall and doesn’t follow me anywhere, but that’s not an option for now.

Here’s a sleepy hour of Stardew Valley to follow up on the other night’s. I didn’t have much in the way of podcast topics to talk about, so this is mainly just me playing the game. Maybe a couple funny bits.

Low-Carb Ice Cream

Good low-carb ice cream isn’t easy to make. Ice cream fluffs up and stays soft because it’s an emulsification of the fat in the cream with the sugar, so if you use a different sweetener that doesn’t have the structure of sugar, it doesn’t emulsify, and you end up with a bunch of ice freezing to the sides of the container.

Sugar alcohols can work, but they seem kind of hit-and-miss as to whether people lose weight with them, plus they have a laxative effect. So I thought I’d try something using gelatin, because I’ve read about using that to thicken gravy without carbs. I made a batch with:

  • 2-3 eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 box sugar-free Jello
  • 1 shot vodka

I use 2 eggs if they’re huge, 3 otherwise. Whisk those up, then whisk in the rest.

It worked out well as far as the freezing went. The gelatin helped it fluff up, and the vodka lowers the freezing temperature so it doesn’t freeze on the sides as fast. The only downside was that some of the gelatin was still a little grainy, like it hadn’t dissolved fully. Dissolving it in hot water isn’t an option, since everything needs to go in cold for this kind of ice cream maker to work. I could let it sit in the milk for a while first, though, before stirring it all together.

To be more natural and get away from the aspartame in the Jello, you could use a packet of plain gelatin, a better sweetener like stevia, and a flavoring like vanilla or chocolate. The Jello was just a convenient way to try those already mixed in the right ratio. Might have to experiment with that. Carb-wise, it’s something like 8 per serving, so it’s not bad as long as you stick to one.

This is a screencast/podcast where I play Stardew Valley and talk about various things: playing the game, giving away more cats, making good-quality videos is hard, reading glasses, waking up to a cold house in winter, social media, and others. This is kind of a test of a different way to distribute things through IPFS, so it may not be that interesting in itself. But feel free to listen or watch if the links work.

Stardew Podcast Nov. 10, 2018 - Audio Only MP3

UPDATE: Okay, that works fine for the MP3, but not for the video. It seems using the HTML5 video tag makes your browser download the whole video (or a lot of it) before starting to play it. That’s not acceptable with a 600MB video, which people might want to bail on after the first couple minutes. Moving it to bitchute instead, and I’ll have to experiment more with that.

Goodbye, Little One

Sad news today. Little One, the black cat who was in my last garden video, passed away. Ironic, since I said then that he was healthy and even fat after almost starving as a kitten. I noticed him seeming out of sorts the other day, but couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Then he didn’t show up for food, and later I found him already gone. He might have gotten hit on the road; I don’t really know what else it could have been. It’s a real shame; he was a nice cat. I’ll miss him getting underfoot.

No one offered me an “I voted” sticker when I went Tuesday. Not in 2016 either. How am I supposed to show off my civic responsibility without a sticker? Maybe I just don’t look like the sticker type.

You can’t see it very well because I was too slow getting my phone out for a picture, but a decent-sized plane (jet?) just went nearly overhead. I don’t think I’ve seen that here before. The emergency helicopter from Blessing goes over a lot, so I think the house is right on the line between two hospitals, but this is the first time I’ve seen a plane that size come through here that low.

I’m going to start copying articles from my old abandoned blog to this site, so I can repurpose that domain for something else. At least the articles that seem worth the trouble, anyway. I don’t even remember what all is there, so I’m sure there’s plenty of junk. I want to preserve the publication dates on the articles, so they won’t show up on top here, so I’ll link to them if they still seem interesting. Here’s the one that always got the most traffic.

How to Treat Your Introvert

Latin Book Incoming

New return address labels came from the insurance company today. They send so many free ones that I find myself wondering if I could use them for some kind of craft. Like maybe I could use them as wallpaper to redecorate a room.

Trick-or-treaters usually don’t come out here in the country, but I did pick up one bag of peanut-butter cups, just in case. I probably should have gotten a candy I don’t like, because now I won’t be sad when no one comes and I have to eat them myself.

I hate these Google captchas that some sites use, where you have to click on the pictures of things like cars and buses. They raise so many questions. Are the walk/don’t-walk signs part of the traffic light? Does “bicycles” include the bicyclist, or just the frame? Do trucks count as cars? It’s annoying to have to help train their AI just to use some sites, so I try to make sure and get at least one square wrong each time. I can usually do that without it catching it and making me do another set. Screw Google.

I went through my non-work projects-to-do file yesterday. Turned up a couple I’d forgotten about, so it’s good that I write ideas down. I picked out a few to work on this winter, so I’ll be writing about them here. One is the 6502 programming video series, which I’ve talked about already. I’ll be doing at least one video on that each week.

Another is my Latin book. I made up 30-some Latin lessons back when I was teaching it at St. Rose, and had them online for a while. A few years ago I thought they’d make a decent textbook for beginners, so I started working it into e-book format. I got about 90% of that done before I got sidetracked into other projects, so I just need to clean up some issues with it, like images not working right. Then I’m going to make a video to go with each lesson, which I started today. I’m not sure how to monetize it yet, but I’m thinking sell the book and put the videos out there for free. Then I might need to stream an hour a week or so to answer questions live. I haven’t done any teaching for a while, so I kinda miss it and am looking forward to completing this.

This is a good song, but I’m posting the video because it has tractors. One is an Allis-Chalmers D-21, which is something like the D-17 I drove a ton as a kid, just a bit bigger. Cool.


It looks like they’re getting ready to inject manure in the fields around here today. For those who don’t know how it works, this might be interesting. They unroll about a mile of this big hose that Guy is inspecting in the picture below, stretching from the dairy down the road to the far side of the field. Then they start pumping liquid manure (enough water is added to make it a slurry) through the hose, which is attached to a plow with injectors that’s pulled by a tractor. The plow slices the soil open, injects the manure in, and then lets the soil fall back.

It works pretty well. We’ll smell it around here for a couple days, but it’s nothing like the smell you’d get if they spread it on top like they used to. They don’t have to use as much chemical fertilizer, if any at all. It also reduces the amount that runs off if it rains. It’ll put an end to picking up downed ears of corn, though.

The hose is probably 8 or 10 inches across. Basically a fire hose. It gets pulled back and forth across the field as they work their way from the far side this way. It seems like it would be too heavy, full of slurry, to drag that much hose that far, but it works.

I picked twelve pounds of green and red bell peppers on that first day of frost. I was going to dry them all, but that would give me way more than I need, so I decided to pickle some. This is a recipe from the Stocking Up book, which uses half peppers and half onions. I went about 5 parts peppers and 3 parts onions, since I was trying to use up peppers. Add vinegar and sugar, cook down, and process in pints. I’m thinking of using them as Christmas presents, if I can think of anyone who would like such a thing. I’m hoping it serves as a sort of relish for sausage, that kind of thing.

Part #3 of my assembly language video series has over 1000 views, which is way more than any others I’ve done. So I’m going to put in some more time on that in the coming weeks. It’d be cool if I could turn it into a real project that pays for itself, maybe with a Patreon kind of thing. There are some people doing that, like the guy making Handmade Hero, a game written in C, who does all the work on stream and puts the videos up to watch.

I think I’ll do a couple more entries in the series and see how it goes. Maybe I can get some feedback on the idea. I’d need to decide what kind of project to do first. One possibility would be an operating system. Not that the Commodore 64 or 128 needs another operating system, but that would cover all the ways the 6502 interfaces with other hardware, which could be useful for people programming it on other platforms.

I bought a Sansa Clip MP3 player many years ago. Still have it, actually, though the headphone jack got bad, so now I just use it to take dictation. It came with two songs pre-installed on it. I don’t remember the other, but this one was good enough that I tracked down a lot of other songs by the same guy, Andrew Paul Woodworth. Seems like he’s mostly a regional performer in the Seattle region. Too bad, I’d go to see him if he came around here.

I, Nationalist

Like President Trump, I am a nationalist. Not a white nationalist (“white” is not a nationality and can’t be), or a national socialist, but a nationalist. This should be obvious and uncontroversial. A nationalist is someone who loves his nation, takes pride in her, and puts her interests above those of other nations, though he respects that the people of those nations will do the same. A nationalist wants his nation to be open to temporary alliances and trade deals with other nations when they are clearly in the national interest, but to avoid foreign entanglements in general, as George Washington recommended in his Farewell Address.

This should be a no-brainer. It used to be. We said the Pledge in school and stood when the flag went by at parades, so we were nationalists whether we knew the word or not. Why wouldn’t we be? But the globalists have been on the rise for decades now, and they’ve twisted simple national devotion into something scary, as if putting America first means you want to subjugate all others.

The president is currently putting the insanity and violence of the globalist left on display. It’s not pretty, but it has to be done. The media can’t continue to whitewash their actions, turning violent mobs into “peaceful protesters” and aggressive invaders into “poor refugees.” The six globalist companies that own all US media (yes, including Fox News) won’t get away with it anymore.

So every day is a new Triggering. Today “I am a nationalist,” yesterday saying a person’s sex at birth is the one that counts for interactions with the government like Title IX (you know, the way it was for all of human history until Obama’s executive order a few years ago). Wonder what it’ll be tomorrow. Each time the left is triggered, they show off another uglier side, and in the meantime they’re doing nothing to prepare for the midterms that they thought were in the bag a month ago. The Kavanaugh hoax turned the Blue Wave into a Red Wave, and now it’s becoming a Red Tsunami, as districts around the nation report higher Republican early-voting turnout, despite the fact that Democrats normally lead that.

Now the media are starting to complain about it, as if we’re all in danger if their filters can’t keep up. They like to use their megaphone to create false narratives, but that takes time, because you have to build them on partial truths and then create buzz around them so they seem organic. They can’t do that at this pace. All the facts are still out there, but you have to find them for yourself in raw form and decide for yourself what to think about them. They can give you a pre-thought-out package anymore, not on every topic.

And we still have two more weeks of Triggering to go. It’s exhausting, but necessary. Then the greatest salt harvest ever.

Twitter Tomfoolery & NPCs

The big social media companies are increasingly being exposed for their anti-competitive and fraudulent practices. Twitter was the latest this week as a bit of a joke campaign turned up an interesting reaction from supposed “users” on Twitter and then from the service itself. I thought I’d do a quick rundown as a screencast/podcast, talking over some posts from the jokesters.

Audio only here: Twitter Tomfoolery MP3

Cat Scratch Fever

I was trying to give away four cats last night. By the time we were done, one cat was transferred successfully, three had escaped into the night, the back porch was trashed, and I had blood dripping from one hand. I’m going to need a better strategy than just “grab them and hand them to strangers.”

I used to wonder how items shipped from China on Ebay could be so cheap. Sometimes the item plus shipping is cheaper than shipping alone from a US location. You have to wait longer, but there’s a huge price difference. Turns out it was just another one of those “free trade” treaties our government signed that was screwing us, giving Chinese importers a direct advantage on shipping costs over American businesses.

Thanks in advance, Mr. President.

I’m no lawyer, but this sounds like straight-up fraud to me. Basically, Facebook lied to content producers and told them videos got about 9 times the views they actually get. Many web sites changed their whole model to shift from written articles to more videos, firing writers and expanding their video departments. Some even went to all-video.

When one of the sports news sites (Yahoo, I think) announced they were going all-video, sports radio guy Steve Czaban was skeptical. He figured, who wants to sit through a 15-second ad and watch a video to get the gist of last night’s game, when you can skim through a text article and get it in a few seconds? Turns out he was right, and it was all based on a scam.

Libertarians like to say just don’t use companies like Facebook if you don’t like how they do business. That’s not really an option if you want to provide content online, because they control the audience. Hell, even my stupid little blog gets five times the traffic for the posts I share to Facebook. That’s why when Facebook said “Jump,” all these companies said “How high?” You have to follow their rules even if you don’t use them.

I’ve been saying the Big Data companies are in trouble for anti-trust activities, and this isn’t even that. But this is very bad in itself. These companies really do think they’re above the law.

This is just a cool song and video. When the art kicks in at around 1:30, it puts me in mind of a cross between Heavy Metal and Meaning of Life.

Frosty Morning

Just a note to say that if you want to be notified whenever I post to this blog, click this link for my RSS feed. Your browser or app or whatever should know what to do with it. I try to share the more interesting ones on Facebook for my friends there, but I forget sometimes since I don’t use it anymore. The RSS feed will have them all.

Oof. I think the non-hardy garden season came to an abrupt end last night. I knew there was a chance of the temperature getting down to 32, so I thought things might get singed, but this looks pretty heavy. There are a ton of beans still hanging on those plants, but I just didn’t have time to pick and can them. Guess I should have found someone who wanted them to come pick them for free. Have to remember that for next year.

Better get these peppers in the bottom part of the picture picked and chopped up for the freezer today. That’s what I had planned for them anyway, so that will be fine even if the frost killed them. All the brassicas – cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower, kale – and other hardy crops will keep growing. The main summer crops I had left were the beans, peppers, and squash.

Later in the day: Yep, the frost killed all the non-hardy stuff. The bush beans and pepper plants were pretty much melted by evening. The pole beans on the trellis seem like they might have survived, being further from the ground, but I’ll see over the next couple days. Harvested 12 pounds of green peppers, which should be about a 10-year supply.

It seems like the frost snuck up on us, but October 15th is the average first frost date around here, so it really didn’t. I suppose that’s just because the nights only started getting below 50 a couple weeks ago.

It feels like time to start remembering how some names and events we learned about last year connect together, so I’ll start posting some as they seem relevant. None of these investigations went away or were resolved; they just seemed to stall. This one looks like it might be moving again. By the way, the Christopher Steele mentioned here was a British intelligence agent. That’s one reason this stuff is so sticky. Turns out there may have been foreign agencies interfering in the election for real. Just not Russia, at least not the way they’ve been saying.

Fun with Chromosomes and Math

Let’s talk about chromosomes and heritage, and see how much I can remember from biology class a couple years ago.

Humans have 46 chromosomes, which are in 23 pairs, normally numbered from 1 to 23. When you were conceived, you got 23 from your father and 23 from your mother. Which ones you get is random, but you get one from each pair from each parent. So you end up with two #1 chromosomes making up your #1 chromosome pair, and so on down to #23. There’s also something called crossover when the gametes are being created, so the chromosomes a parent passes down are spliced together chunks of the two halves of a pair rather than copies of whole chromosomes, but that doesn’t change the math here.

This is all true for each generation. Your dad’s #1 pair has a chromosome from his father and one from his mother. So on average you’ll get 11.5 chromosomes from your paternal grandfather and 11.5 from your paternal grandmother. The ratio could lean one direction or the other, but it’ll add up to 23. Same thing on your maternal side.

Continuing back, you will average 5.75 chromosomes from each great-grandparent, 2.875 from each great-great-grandparent, 1.4375 from each before that, and 0.71875 from the generation before that. By the time you get back to your great-great-great-great-great grandparents, you have less than a 50% chance of having even a single chromosome’s worth of genes from a particular ancestor. When you go much further back, everyone in the same general racial/ethnic pool (haplogroup) basically has the same gene pool to draw on.

That’s why American Indian groups generally require 1/8 or 1/16 Indian heritage for membership. If you go back further than that, everyone might or might not have a little. It’s why dairy cows that are 7/8 one breed are considered purebred. That other 1/8 of something else just doesn’t affect much.

And it’s why it doesn’t matter whether Elizabeth Warren has zero or one American Indian ancestors out of 256. The reason the Pocahontas nickname burns her so much that she keeps fighting it is that she built a career on the claim that having American Indian blood gave her special moral authority to lead Americans that she wouldn’t have had without it. That’s pretty gross, really. Whether she was right about her DNA doesn’t change that. “You should vote for me because I have such-and-such blood” is supposed to be an unacceptable argument in 2018, whether you’re lying about the blood or not.

Line of the day from anon: “You have to look so far back that her ancestor may actually be Pocahontas.”

I got trips today, which is always fun. I predicted it here three weeks ago, and articles about it started showing up this weekend. It’s still #HerTurn if she’s still walking around in 2020.

Kanye Goes to Washington

(I don’t suppose I’m the first to use that clever title.) So Kanye West had a meeting with President Trump today, and the media had a collective spaz attack.

It’s kind of amazing to see the same people who would normally scold you for any negative comments about a racial minority, slinging around terms like “house negro” and saying that a black man must be off his meds because he disagrees with them and doesn’t talk educated like they do. It’s pretty clear that the talking points have gone out to say he’s crazy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to get his family to have him committed soon to shut this down. They’re terrified of the effect he could have.

Celebrities constantly tell us what to think about a whole range of political and social issues, both within their shows and outside them. But one popular man comes out with a different message, and they freak out. If they lose the media/Hollywood/academia grip on the narrative, the left is screwed. (See also the way they reacted to USA Today allowing an opinion piece by the president. Cracks are appearing.)

The treatment Kanye is getting, though focused, feels familiar. Regular Americans are used to being told that our opinions aren’t wanted if they aren’t the right ones. They laugh at us too, for the way we talk and the things we say sometimes. Especially those of us who “cling to our guns and God.” We’re supposed to watch TV and consume, and leave policy up to the self-appointed policy-makers. You know, the people who decided we should have American troops in 70 other nations, and would push that number higher if our current president weren’t balking.

I don’t know Kanye’s politics. I’ve barely heard his music, other than a remix of a Daft Punk song I like. But I don’t care. We should have more “off their meds” Americans getting a word in once in a while to compete with the Beltway elites, not fewer. We don’t need CNN or other blue checkmarks deciding who gets to talk and who doesn’t. If Americans who speak up have crazy ideas sometimes, so what? It’s just a conversation. Take the good and leave the rest.

That’s it for today. I watched a video that was going to go here, but it disappeared off YouTube. Guess it was too good. Maybe I’ll upload it elsewhere so I can post it tomorrow.

Free Corn

A few years ago I picked up several buckets of ears of corn in the field after they finished combining it. (Actually, I sat inside and drank and watched videos while kids picked them up, but it’s the thought that counts.) They don’t have the field fenced, so they can’t run cattle or hogs to clean it up, so any downed ears will just lie there and sprout in the spring until they’re killed by Roundup. So it’s free chicken feed for the picking up.

I went out last week to do the same, and only found about a dozen ears in the same area. I noticed the older farmer who lives next door was the one driving the combine this year. It looks like he did a better job of staying on the rows than whoever did it last time. Oh well, just have to range farther to fill the buckets.

Pardon the foul language in the rest of this post, but it’s unavoidable. The president has talked about the extreme language and violence of the left in response to the Supreme Court confirmation. Antifa is taking over the streets in Portland and mailing death threats to Republican voters. Yet the mainstream media is trying to pass off the president’s comments as a hoax or shit-stirring. And Hillary Clinton has this to offer. She’s actually right as far as she goes, but you’ll notice she doesn’t say which party she’s talking about. She’s going to let the media help you infer that part – she’s a Democrat, so the “destroyers” must be the Republicans, right? But to see a real call for destruction, check out the tweet below her quote.

That’s the kind of thing Twitter has been full of, but the media won’t show it, and of course that tweet has been deleted. Dave Hogue is not some weirdo in his mom’s basement. He’s a Google executive, one of the people who makes decisions for a company that sees itself as a supra-national organization above mere national governments. A company that recently admitted that a “security vulnerability” allowed a half million of its users' data to be vulnerable for years. A company that will soon be in trouble for violating anti-trust law as I’ve mentioned before, and probably for breaking laws in dealings with China. Just the sort of people we want trying to run the world. It’s not just the fact that he thought that in a moment of anger, but that he has so little self-control he thought it would be a good idea to say it in public.

Now, I can certainly find vitriol like that from right-wingers. There are crazy people in every group. But I would have to go well off the beaten path to find it, because those people aren’t allowed on mainstream services like Twitter, or they have no followers in the first place. These deranged leftists, on the other hand, feel completely comfortable in sharing their murder and assassination desires right there in the open on social media, because they’ve always been able to count on media cover. And they get likes and retweets when they do it.

More in the montage below, which is just a small sample. This is what the president is talking about, and what the media wants to blame on “uncivil” behavior by Republicans. Sorry, but Lindsey Graham calling the Democrats liars doesn’t justify calls for murder (or actual attempts with ricin), no matter how uncivil it might be.

Also, note the Planned Parenthood tweet at the bottom, which tells Republicans “we’re coming for you.” In a vacuum, they can say that’s innocent, that they only mean with funding and votes. In the context of all those other tweets swirling around, it would be naive to think they would mind if their followers take it as marching orders for something more direct.

Fortunately, the Internet never forgets, and CNN and the other Dead Media can only control the narrative for the shrinking fraction of the public that lets them. These will never go away.

Lindsey's a Bad Mutha–Shut Yo Mouth

Be the captain of a youth basketball team. You get stuck with Ralphie, an unathletic boy who can’t play. His parents made him sign up because they think he needs exercise and new friends, but he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to try and screw up and be embarrassed. You know if you give him the ball, he’s more likely to give it away to the other team than do anything good with it.

But if you do. If the other team stops guarding him because they know he sucks, and you spot him all alone under the basket and throw it to him because time is running out, and he catches it and gets it through the rim….damn that’s huge for him. He will remember that shot and the high-fives you give him for the rest of his life.

That doesn’t mean you suddenly try to make him your star and feed him the ball every play. He still sucks at basketball. But maybe he has a different perspective now. Maybe now he doesn’t hate being there anymore, and he’d like to get better. Maybe he starts wanting to try other things he thought he couldn’t do, and discovers he can, and that he likes it.

That’s kind of how I see Lindsey Graham. He’s been one of those liberal/moderate Republicans for his whole career, frequently crossing the aisle to vote against conservative measures and piss off his party. When the Democrats said boo, he jumped. He was so dedicated to getting along and maintaining gentility that he’s never even helped another Republican run for Senate. He didn’t think it would be nice. There can’t have been much fun in that.

But the Democrats pushed too far this time, trying to destroy a man Lindsey knew was innocent – and he knew they knew it too, and were doing it out of pure partisan gain. So he went off and dunked on them. If you didn’t see it live, watch the short video below, because it’s awesome. His speech, along with Kavanaugh’s passionate self-defense and the fact that no-one believed Blasey Ford, won the day. It caught the Democrats totally by surprise, and they never recovered from being called out so honestly from a direction they never expected.

Yeah, next week he’ll probably be praising an amnesty idea or something, just like Ralphie will probably dribble the ball off his foot the next time you pass it to him. But not this week. This week you high-five him, because he damn well deserves it. And next week, who knows, maybe he will surprise you again. There were lots of surprises from Republican leaders in this deal, standing tall in ways they didn’t used to. It’d be great to see that continue. They can start by subpoenaing the documents that Ford’s lawyers refused to submit, which she claimed would back up her story.

Aaaaand it looks like a Democratic Senator was involved in hiring the “cybersecurity” companies that produced the claims that a Trump email server was communicating with nefarious forces in Russia. Seems like I wrote about that last summer. Maybe not on this blog. That might have just been on Facebook, where it would be a pain to track down. Or maybe it was a podcast. Great organization, huh?

Anyway, I explained then why it was nonsense, and how they were mixing up the jargon to make it seem like something it wasn’t. But it appears that turned out to be one of the things they used as justification for moar surveillance on the Trump campaign. Once again we see familiar names like Soros and Fusion GPS. Man, wiretaps, dossiers, moles, Russians requesting bait-and-switch interviews – they were all over that campaign. And yet they couldn’t come up with any crimes or get anyone to bite on any shady offers. Can’t wait to find out which Senator it was. This month just keeps getting better. Let’s get some declassification going!

If Only You Knew

I picked up my first reading glasses the other day. I’m not used to having them yet, so I keep forgetting to grab them and catch myself squinting instead. The computer monitor is too far away for them, but I need them for anything closer, so that’s convenient. I tried peering over them at the screen, but that doesn’t work at all. At least I can read a book comfortably again. I don’t quite understand what happens when your close-up vision goes bad, but I’m glad there’s a $5 fix.

I used to do some tutoring, so I had kids showing up most mornings, and Guy would wait outside for them. I stopped that back in the spring, but I’ve noticed him sitting in the driveway watching the road again lately. He didn’t do that in the summer, so I guess either the season or the school buses going by triggered his memory. I think there are still three of them every day, between the two school districts that meet on this road.

For my daily bowl of green beans today, I was out of butter, so I used a little cream cheese. Not bad, actually. No substitute for butter, though. They’re still coming from the garden faster than I can eat them.

Good day in politics today, but it’s just another step. Still hoping for a couple more votes to hit my prediction of 53 for Kavanaugh tomorrow, but I’ll take 51. This whole month should be a fun ride. Behold a rare original meme to honor the occasion, sticking together a classic one with a brand new one.

Morning Rundown Oct. 5, 2018

Another morning rundown, to keep track of all this for future reference. Lots of little things going on, not sure which will become important when.

Yesterday’s DoJ press conference was about the arrest of nine Russian spies. Probably should be bigger news, but it can’t compete. More important was the news that they’ve identified a Clinton/DNC lawyer who was involved with the FBI/Fusion in the FISA wiretapping case. As I said yesterday, we’ve known the basic shape about that for a while, but now they’re filling in the details. When Sessions brings people to court for it, there won’t be any I’s left un-dotted.

Feinstein looked like she ate a bug coming out of Schumer’s office yesterday. Or like she found out she could be charged with witness and evidence tampering. Ford’s buddy McLean keeps getting more interesting. She was presented as just a “beach friend,” but it turns out she left the FBI during the Trump transition, where she worked for a man involved in the aforementioned FISA crimes, and her lawyer’s name comes up many times in the Strzok/Page communications. Every time you turn over a rock in the Swamp, these same people keep turning up. Why do you need a highly connected, very expensive lawyer anyway, when you’re supposedly just a friend of the accuser who came along to offer some support and a character reference? And now one of Ford’s friends says McLean pressured her to change her story about not remembering the party Ford said she was at.

Grassley’s not letting go of this. The polygraph was the closest thing Ford had to any evidence. But if they won’t turn over the polygraph documentation, it’s less than worthless. Polygraphs aren’t allowed as evidence in court for a reason: they’re far too easy to manipulate in both directions. But if you’re going to present one in another context, you have to at least include the recording and documentation that shows you did it right. Otherwise it’s just your word: “Oh, and I took a polygraph and it totally said I’m telling the truth. Trust me!”

They were so sure the Republicans would back down and let them turn this into another endless investigation like Mueller’s. Now it’s turned into an investigation of them, and they’re having trouble calling it off because their deranged followers are outside protesting and demanding more of it. The media is now reduced to gaslighting Republicans with silly claims like a Republican might not vote because he has a wedding to go to.

Expecting more fun along those lines today.

Morning Rundown Oct. 4, 2018

Yesterday was interesting, with Republicans continuing to signal that they’re sitting on a nut straight. The amount of spine in these guys all of a sudden is shocking. On the other side, Feinstein refuses to turn the polygraph documentation over to the Senate Judiciary, saying they will give it to the FBI if interviewed. But the FBI has no jurisdiction to subpoena it, and that would lead into more delays that are the Democrats' whole goal in the first place. So that’s a desperate bit of tap dancing.

Today could be more interesting. There’s suddenly a DoJ press conference with Rosenstein this morning, and Sessions has been subpoenaed to deliver materials to Congress at noon. There are hints that the DNC/FBI/Fusion/FISA wiretapping collusion case that we’ve known the basic shape of for at least a year might finally be coming out officially. Names and people who faded from view back in January are suddenly popping back up in various places. It feels like we’re coming out of a 9-month stall, and the possible happenings from before are still on the table. I’m cautiously optimistic, because I don’t know the reason for the stall. But it feels like things are moving again. And if there was ever a time to spring a new angle of attack while the Swamp is distracted and disorganized, this is it.

Keeping a corner of an eye on today: Sessions, Comey, McLean (Ford’s FBI polygraph helper), Schumer. The Kavanaugh stuff is over except the Senate procedures which require a certain number of hours delay. Then the salt harvest. We’ll have enough salt to last forever (what’s that from?).

Comfy in the Briar Patch

To add to yesterday’s article: it came out overnight that a couple of the people involved in Ford’s polygraph testimony are former FBI. The woman she coached on how to take a polygraph – which she lied and said she’s never done – left the FBI when Trump took office, after working close to some people involved in the illegal FISA warrant. Ford’s brother is also connected to Fusion GPS, the Russian-founded company that helped fake the warrants and tried to get informants inside the Trump campaign.

So in addition to the other motives I listed, it appears this may have been another “insurance policy” put together by corrupt elements at the FBI. With Strzok, McCabe, and other dominoes beginning to fall, they’re desperate to stop Trump and Sessions before all their corruption can be exposed.

Grassley has the scent (which he probably got before this started) and is demanding the polygraph documentation, and Feinstein is now stalling. The investigation changed direction yesterday, though the media isn’t admitting it yet. We should see more cracks in the narrative today.

Today’s rundown:

Peak Leftardism

I’d like to say we’ve reached peak leftist insanity, now that people are sending ricin to Republicans in the mail. But we haven’t. The leaders of the globalist left have pushed their followers to within an inch of their emotional limits, and there’s no handy off switch. If you follow many of them on social media or forums, you’ve seen them send public streams of profanity at politicians – sometimes politicians they liked in the past. You’ve seen them openly call for assassination, or for the rape of the president’s wife and children. Those are things that normal people with jobs and friends don’t allow themselves to do in public, but they pat each other on the back for them. They’ve been pushed past the point of reasonable self-control.

Even if their leaders could pull them back from the cliff, they won’t. Here’s how I see the situation, as I wrote it a few days ago, which hasn’t changed. The primary goal of Feinstein’s bunch was delay. Blocking Kavanaugh was secondary. See, Kavanaugh is actually fairly middle-of-the-road as a judge, conservative on some things, less so on others. The kind of choice about which Democrats would normally shrug and think, “Well, could have been worse, and maybe we can pull him left like we did O’Connor and Kennedy.” So it wasn’t about him.

It was about delaying the vote until the midterms, so they could use it to drive their base to the polls, which is normally hard for Democrats to do in the midterms. That’s why they waited until the confirmation to come forward with the letter Feinstein had in July. That’s why they lied to Dr. Ford and said she had to come to D.C., when the Committee had already offered to meet her in her home city. That’s why they had a few other “accusers” lined up to present later, instead of introducing them in time for the hearing. Everything they could do to stall the confirmation and drag out an investigation for about a month and a half until the midterms.

But it blew up in their faces. Ford’s story barely contained an accusation, and no claims for an investigation even to follow up on. Accuser #2 in the New Yorker fell apart before the ink was dry on the article, and accuser #3 admitted today that she didn’t see Kavanaugh do anything except stand near a punch bowl at a party. Plus she glows in the dark worse than Ford, and another letter dropped today explains why the Democrats never wanted her answering questions. And Republicans like Grassley and McConnell suddenly discovered they like fighting and winning and wouldn’t give them the open-ended witch-hunt investigation they wanted, so they’re still a month short.

Now they’ve made sure that every Republican who was thinking of sitting out the election because he’s kinda disappointed with the lack of Wall and Democrats in orange jumpsuits, will damn sure be voting next month. They turned their imagined blue wave into a red storm, so now they stand to lose the election and see Kavanaugh seated on the Court after they tried to destroy his life. So they’re desperate to claw back a victory on one of those, to either kill the nomination or stretch it. Stretching it looks impossible now, and since it’s clear that Trump and Kavanaugh aren’t backing down, the only way to kill it is to scare a few Senate Republicans into bailing on him. On top of all that, now they are being investigated for criminal activities in this, and the only way to stop that is to win it all.

So they’ve painted themselves into a corner where it seems like their only choice left is to double down, and that’s what they do best anyway. So the accusations will get more and more over-the-top and silly (he threw ice one time!), the threats will get more violent and widespread, and unfortunately, some deranged idiot is going to blow himself up trying to take a couple senators with him because the people he follows on TV and social media told him they were evil. Or maybe he’ll just go next door and kill his neighbors because they had a Trump sign in the yard two years ago.

That’s where we’re headed, if we’re not there already. I’d like to wrap this article up with the solution, but I don’t see one. These people have been indoctrinated and gas-lit for their entire lives. They’ve been told that their political side has all the answers and could make life great for everyone, so every setback they have is the fault of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” When you think every bad thing comes from a shadowy group that you can’t see or locate, it’s easy to dehumanize that group and think that eliminating that group would solve everyone’s problems. That kind of belief can’t be undone overnight, especially not when mass media reinforces it by the hour.

The solution for individuals: cut the media cord. Don’t watch it, don’t follow it, don’t follow the people who make a living commentating on it. (No, I didn’t get any of the above directly from any of those sources.) As Raz0rfist said in a recent video, you don’t have to replace the mainstream media with some sort of alternative or right-wing media. Just cutting out the MSM for a while allows common sense to reassert itself and to process the reality around you without interference. Cutting out that mind infection makes a huge difference, but I’ll write more about that soon.

Oh, also: 53-47 for Kavanaugh.

October 2nd, a Day That Shall….Happen

I have a good feeling about today. Which probably means nothing will happen until tomorrow. But it feels like several different events in motion are coming to a point at the same time. It feels like happenings which seemed imminent in January and then stalled are now back in the mix. LARPs that don’t quite feel like LARPs. Deadlines for seemingly disconnected events that are lining up on the same short stretch of days. Republicans acting like wolves and media acting mildly objective in odd ways. Now the chans under attack. Something’s happening.

Still Got It

It feels good when you’re pushing 50 and you’re hefting boars up for the knife and a healthy 16-year-old boy has to run the chalk marker because he can’t handle your job. Although I have to admit my shoulders were sore the next day. And the day after that. But it felt good at the time.

Sun tea is a scam, right? I mean, it works. If you put tea bags in water and sit it in the sun, it makes tea. I like doing it in the summer rather than heating up the kitchen with boiling water. But it’ll do that if you don’t put it in the sun, just more slowly. By “scam” I mean the idea that making it in the sun makes it better somehow. As far as I know, making tea means getting particles from the tea leaves to dissolve in water, and dissolving happens faster if the water is hotter. I don’t think the sun actually adds anything except temperature. Unless you’re using different tea leaves, it’s the same thing.

Or maybe I just don’t have sensitive enough taste buds to pick up the sun flavor. I just drink a lot of plain tea and want the simplest way to make it.

I’m going to go on record here: Kavanaugh will be confirmed, most likely this week, and the smear campaign against him will be fully exposed. Feinstein should and may be perp-walked for illegal and unethical activities, though that may take time to develop. I’ll write more about this farce soon, but I wanted to put that down now so I can explain why I did later.

A Letter from Onions-1

I had to screencap that because it made me laugh. The context was a discussion of a potential urban-versus-rural civil war, and the left-wing fantasy that they will use the military and police to quickly dominate the rural areas, confiscate all the guns, and lock up or shoot the hicks. Yes, they really believe this. They speculate about it constantly; you just won’t see it in the mainstream media.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons that’s stupid here. But one point that always comes up is food. They know the cities only have enough food to last a few days, and they know there’s food out there in the rural areas, so they assume the city hordes will eat as they go. They see food like a resource in a computer game, little crates all labeled “FOOD” on the side, that they can just pick up along the way. No problem.

Except that’s not true. Oh sure, there’s loads of food here. But it’s mostly not food yet. Where I sit, I can see about 100 acres of field corn. That’s at least a million pounds of corn. But it’s not edible. Not really. First you have to shell the kernels off the ears. It’s kinda fun to shell a few ears by hand. By the end of the day, trying to shell enough to feed your horde, your hands will be bleeding. Then you have to get it into an edible form. It doesn’t just turn into tortillas. Gotta grind it, or soak it and mash it. Then you’ll have food, sort of, and while you’re doing this, you’re not sweeping across the land taking down your enemies.

And that corn isn’t always there. In fact, they started combining yesterday, so in a couple days it will be gone. Until next summer, those fields will be as empty of food as any urban grocery store after a week-long riot.

Now, there is some edible food in my garden. Not enough to feed a horde, but maybe the horde’s scouts. Assuming I don’t stop them, a few people could eat for a few days on that. But again, that’s only true for about half the year. There’s also food in storage, canned and frozen, and the chickens, but then that takes us back to their fantasy that the U.S. military will storm homes and disarm Americans and hand over the food to people who could neither grow it themselves nor take it by force themselves. It also assumes that they can do things like wipe out all resistance in an area without killing the electrical power that keeps frozen food good. Again, little crates marked FOOD, dotting the landscape.

Well, that was exciting today. I won’t write about it right now; maybe after he’s confirmed. Got a laugh from this, though. I saved it two days ago, so pretty good prediction by someone.

Pol Is Always Right Again

Guy didn’t eat anything for the first week after his accident, except a few bits of chicken I gave him with pills. Then the second week he seemed to eat pretty much normal. Now he’s eating like a horse, and drinking water like one too, so I’m filling his bowl a couple times a day instead of a couple times a week. I guess that means he’s all healed up and putting weight back on. He did get kind of bony there for a few days.

I’ve been lucky in that both of my dogs have regulated their own weight so I didn’t have to. Guy is still young, so maybe he’ll get fat when he gets older, but I doubt it. I think he’s the wrong mix of breeds for that. I hear about people having to ration out food for their dogs, which sounds like a pain. I just fill the food dish when I see it’s empty, and let them self-feed. Seems to work.

The bad thing about eating green beans 1-2 meals a day is they really don’t have many calories. I had a big bowl of them (about 1.25 pounds) with butter, and was hungry within a couple hours. I went to check the database, and that was only 360 calories: about 260 for the beans and 100 for the butter. It’s fine as far as carbs go, but I’d have to eat them about 6 times a day to keep from starving. It’s great to eat whatever is piling up from the garden, but that’s not really practical.

“Vegetarian” is really a misnomer when you think about it. They should be called no-meat-ians. If I eat two pieces of bacon and four pounds of vegetables today, I won’t be a vegetarian. But someone who has a bagel for breakfast, pasta salad for lunch, and a tofu pizza for supper can call himself one. Kinda silly, but I guess it’s a marketing term, not a scientific one.

Interesting day today on the interwebs. So there’s this Creepy Porn Lawyer (may that be his title from this day henceforth) who claims to have a client or clients who were sexually assaulted by Supreme Court appointee Kavanaugh. However, he’s been stalling about having them come forward, offering one excuse after another, and there have been no sworn statements, just his word about things. The obvious goal is to delay the nomination until after the midterm elections so the Democrats can use the struggle over that seat to bring out their base.

Senator Grassley, who has more steel in his spine than most Republicans despite being an Iowa gentleman and about 100 years old, invited the accuser to testify and even brought in a woman prosecutor who handles sexual assault cases. In other words, she would be questioned by a woman who is normally on the side of women like her, not by a bunch of mean old men.

That took away all of CPL’s excuses for delay, and the deadline is Thursday, so he’s been ramping up the outrageousness of his claims instead, tweeting some real whoppers. It seems CPL fancies himself as a presidential candidate in 2020 for some reason. It seems many Democrats actually think that makes sense, for reasons I can’t fathom. A bunch of them even attacked transgender activist and computer programmer Brianna Wu on Twitter today for daring to mildly criticize CPL’s tactics. It was a shocking hate crime, really.

Now /pol/ are claiming that they made up and fed CPL the third client he’s claiming to have, plus some of the more bizarre bits of evidence he’s been tweeting about. I don’t know if that’s true, but it is just the kind of stuff they would make up, and it wouldn’t be the first time. At this point the more mainstream Democrats are trying to distance themselves from him, so the media is jumping on the idea. When his bluff collapses around him, they’d rather hang it all on him being suckered by a bunch of nerds on a Mongolian basket-weaving forum than admit they all got taken by a shyster they’ve been calling a potential presidential candidate. Under pressure from his media allies and trolls having fun with him, CPL locked his Twitter account. That’s called running scared.

My take: CPL thought if he made a scandalous enough accusation, enough Republican senators would fold, and Kavanaugh would do the “honorable” thing by asking for his nomination to be withdrawn. Trump would have to start over, nothing could be done before the midterms, and CPL would be a hero to the Left. Maybe he would have jumped into a possible 2020 nomination (except it’s still #HerTurn). Big bluff, but he got called. Thursday should tell the tale one way or the other.

Test Results and More

I’ve only been streaming for a few days, but some results are in. On the days I streamed a couple hours, I used 5GB/day. About 1GB or so of that was probably other traffic. Maybe more, since I’ve been doing some IPFS stuff and other moving data around. But the numbers show that the bulk of it was streaming.

So if it takes 2GB/hour, I definitely can’t do it a couple hours every night and stay under my 50GB/month limit. I could get away with an hour, though. Or, if I do an online class, I could do a live classroom for a couple hours twice a week. Something like that should be doable. Some more testing is in order, but no more two-hour sessions for this month, or I’ll cross my limit with a week of month left.

Vox takes another whack at the evolutionary pseudoscience pinata today. I was initially skeptical of evolution because it was pushed by the same people who pushed a lot of other nonsense through the schools: that men and women are the same, that socialism is the best, that we shouldn’t eat animals, that we should switch to the metric system.

Then a couple years ago I went through a biology course. The shift in presentation when I got to the evolution section was striking. Up to that point, everything had been presented clearly and logically, fact A building on fact B and leading to conclusion C. On evolution, that was replaced with handwaving and appeals to authority. The book made very confident claims about how the evidence for evolution is overwhelming – so overwhelming, apparently, that they couldn’t decide which bits to choose to put in the book.

On the other hand, the sections on the structure of a single living cell and all its moving parts, and the function of DNA and how much goes into the production of a single protein molecule that’s needed for some function of the body, just made me laugh that anyone could study this and think it just happened. It’s easy for them to wave their hands at schoolchildren and say, “And then a mutation produced feathers,” as if one little change could do that. But at the genetic and cellular level, so many changes would have to happen simultaneously in support of each other to make that happen that the idea is laughable.

I was playing Sentinel the other day. It’s an old C64 game that I could swear I’ve done a video on before, but now I can’t find it. Guess I’ll put that on my todo list. It occurred to me that I should put my list of level keys online, since it’s up to about 450 of the 10,000 total levels, and I couldn’t find a list online that has more than a few dozen. So here’s my list of Sentinel level codes, now linked for posterity.

Hearing the sports news this morning, it occurred to me that the NFL has gone past parity and reached randomness (“We’ve gone to plaid!"). People often praise “parity” in the NFL, meaning that any team can “get good” and compete fairly quickly with some smart/lucky draft picks and signings, good coaching, and hard work. But this isn’t that. This is randomness, where a team that does everything right can get pounded by a team that does everything wrong, and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I don’t think that’s what sports fans want. Maybe it’s what non-sports fans want, because it’s cheap, reality-TV-style drama.

But it’s not sports drama. Pick any sports movie, and there’s a progression to it. Usually it starts with a benchwarmer or a plucky team of losers, and through a lot of hard work and overcoming setbacks, they make it to the top and achieve greatness. They don’t just screw around, lose games they should win, back into the playoffs because other teams screwed up, and then win the championship on other teams' mistakes. (Unless Rian Johnson made a sports movie that I don’t know about.) If my team sucks, I want to root for them to get better and win. I don’t really want to root for them to get lucky in inexplicable ways.

Back in 2016, CNN decided it didn’t like the way people were increasingly turning to word-of-mouth and alternative news sites for their news. So they came up with their “Fake News” campaign, where they would run ads showing people getting bad info from sketchy sources, and recommend that everyone stick with brand-name, major-network, establishment-approved news.

Some people on the Internet quickly said, “Oh, really, you are calling out Fake News? That is rich.” The memes began to flow and CNN’s Fake News was called out every time they lied, which was most of the time. At some point Donald Trump picked up on it and started using it during the campaign, and there was much rejoicing.

Sometime last year I said CNN was dead. Unfortunately, like the guy on the cart in Holy Grail, it’s not completely dead yet. It’s dying, but still gasping and flailing about like a chicken with its throat only half-cut. But the end is coming, and there will be more rejoicing.

Ready for Fall

Cripes, 93 degrees. No wonder it seemed hot today. It was. Be glad when it breaks for good and fall is here.

It turns out you can cut beets into pieces small enough to fit in a steamer and cook them that way. It also turns out you really shouldn’t, though, because they still lose a lot of juice and flavor. Oh well. The other option for cooking that big thing was the roaster, which seemed like overkill. It was still good with butter, and a chance of pace from green beans for a day.

My streaming experiments continue. The results are still kind of blurry, so I’m still trying to find the best settings. It might be okay for most games, but if I’m going to use it for teaching programming or Latin, people need to be able to read the text.

This is just a nice song and video. It’s not a rare find or anything, but the funny thing is I found it through the band A Great Big World, because several years ago a friend recommended an Irish band called Great Big Sea. I think the similarity in names caused this one to pop up for me, and I didn’t realize it was someone else at first. The Pentatonix cover might even be better.

Memory Hole

Huh. I just noticed yesterday that my video on the 6502 assembly instruction set has nearly 1000 views, more than 4 times as many as any other video I’ve made, even though it’s one of the newer ones. Someone must have linked to it from somewhere a lot more popular than my own site. Cool! I guess that means I should get on with more in that series.

The beets didn’t come up very well this year because the seed was old, but the ones that germinated did well, and this one went crazy. Now I just have to figure out what to cook it in. By the way, the variety is Cylindra. They have more of a carrot shape than the usual round beet shape, which makes them easier to work with.

Something weird I’ve noticed about online typos is that people always type the longer thing when they make mistakes, especially adding apostrophes instead of leaving them out.

what they mean what they type
led lead
its it’s
their they’re
were where

Seems like if they’re guessing, simple laziness would produce the mistake with the least typing, but it goes the other way. Weird.

Memory is a strange thing. Back in the mid-2000s, what seems like a lifetime ago, I went to a rock concert out at the racetrack. Yes, really. For the last few years, I’ve been unable to remember the name of the band. Every once in a while, something would remind me of it, and the band’s name would be on the tip of my tongue, but not quite there. Usually when that happens, it’ll come to me later, but not in this case. So it’s been aggravating me sporadically for a while, like a tiny mental gnat. I was sure the name was one six-letter word, maybe as many as eight letters, starting with N or H. Not Hanson or Nelson, but still couldn’t think of it with all those clues.

The other day I remembered that I couldn’t remember, so I set out to find the name. Started searching lists of band names starting with N, and then H. I went through a few lists, but finally found it: Hinder.

The Internet being what it is, I soon reacquainted myself with their work and what they’ve been up to, pulling most of it from Youtube. They were kind of a standard rock band of the time, post-hair-band, pre-hipster. Some success, but probably not A-list. Seems like a lot of their music was about doing drugs, so that probably didn’t help on the radio. They must have played in Quincy right before their 2005 album went platinum. And I was there, but I didn’t get the t-shirt.

I'll Try Streaming, That's a Good Trick

(Title shamelessly stolen from MauLer, a British guy who reviews games and movies.)

I’d like to try using Twitch for some live online classes, but I thought before I dive into anything real, I should test it for a while first. So I’m going to be streaming games when I get a chance, starting with bridge. I figure I need to do a dozen or so sessions, and then I can analyze how much of my precious bandwidth it uses, how reliable it is over my connection, and things like that. Then if it looks viable, I’ll see about starting some classes.

Here’s my channel. I don’t have a schedule or anything yet, but if you use Twitch and you’re interested, I think you can follow me and it’ll alert you when I start. It’ll probably be in the evening, though I could try it on a lunch break. Their interface is pretty dense, so I haven’t figured it all out yet. We’ll see how it goes. My first session of playing bridge is below, and it looks like the resolution at 480p was too low, so I’m going to try the next one at 720p. There are several settings to tinker with, so it may take a few tries to find the best ones.

I did a very short intro to the game in the first video, and I guess I’ll keep explaining my bids as I play, unless I think of something more interesting to talk about.

Office Linebacker

Looks like I won’t be watching football again this year. I’m not protesting the protesters exactly, at least not primarily. I’ve just been watching less in recent years as it became more and more obvious that the NFL doesn’t want me as a viewer, and I keep finding better things to do on a Sunday afternoon. The anthem thing is just a part of that, which I’ll write more on another time.

The bigger problem is the way they’ve been changing the game to appeal more to people who don’t actually like football, but who like big, obvious plays so they can cheer with their friends and check their fantasy team on their phone. The NFL has drawn in an audience that doesn’t want to see a team grind out a 17-play drive four yards at a time, because that’s boring and they don’t understand what those guys in the middle pushing on each other are doing anyway. They’ve introduced replay refereeing, which turns it into a reality show where the drama isn’t in the play on the field, but in the wait afterwards to see how someone in New York rules on it. And now they’ve added a “squishing the quarterback” penalty, so flags hanging from the QB’s belt can’t be far off. It’s a mess, and they won’t even admit there’s a problem with the ratings dropping, let alone do anything to fix it.

Anyway, though I won’t be watching, I do still kinda miss the game. Maybe I should catch a couple local college or high school games. Hmm, QU games are $9/seat for the nosebleed section, which means about 12 rows up. No bad seats in a D2 stadium, and I’ll bet beer is less than $10 a cup. In the meantime, something reminded me of the old Terry Tate Office Linebacker spots, so I watched some of those. They’re still as funny, maybe funnier, now that all these hits would be flagged for unnecessary roughness and then flagged again for taunting.

Plug for Country View Veterinary Service

I want to give a plug to Country View Veterinary Service in Barry and Payson in Illinois. Short version: they were very nice with Guy, and the price was right, so I highly recommend them. If you’re in Quincy, Payson is only 15 minutes away, so it’s worth the short drive. Now the long version.

When I decided to take Guy to the vet to make sure he was okay, I wasn’t sure where to go. The last time I needed a vet was when Pepper had to be put down. I’m not going to say where I went, because they were nice people and handled it very well. But I almost lost my cool when they handed me the bill. I know they have to make a living like everyone else, but $130 for a 10 minute exam and explaining to me what I already know but didn’t want to hear, plus a shot, seemed extreme. That’s enough that some people would have to question whether to pay it or let their animal suffer longer, which is unfortunate.

So I did a little phone probing and got the strong feeling they would want to go straight to x-rays, which would easily push the visit up over $200 and more. Too much for just a second opinion and some reassurance. Then I thought of Lohnes’s in Barry, which it turns out is now called Country View. My folks have used them for years for livestock work. I called and found out an exam would be $30, half the price of the place in Quincy, and they were less inclined to x-rays. It’s a 45-minute drive, but I figured it would be worth it. They he mentioned that they had a place in Payson, less than 10 minutes from my place. Sold!

I took Guy over there, and Dr. Brittany Meyer checked him out and made sure all his parts were still in the right place. The exam plus painkillers plus a flea pill (the retail stuff for fleas is worthless, but that’s another article) cost as much as the exam alone would have in Quincy. In fact, he’s due for another painkiller now, so I’d better go take care of that. He’s definitely feeling better, but he’s still traumatized. He barely wants to go outside, and he sits leaning against me as much as possible. Guess he won’t be running out into the road again for a while, so there’s that.

Better News on Guy

Well, it looks like Guy’s going to make it. The nice lady vet says he doesn’t seem to have any major breaks or spinal injury, so he’s probably just really sore. Of course, he let her probe and pull at him without any of the whining or growling he was giving me. Now he’s relaxing under the influence of painkillers. I should probably relax with some potato-based liquid painkiller myself.

Nursing a Hurt Dog

Blogging might be light this week. Guy got hit on the road Saturday, so I’m nursing him. At least I think that must be what happened. I saw him go across the road, and then a couple minutes later he showed up limping with scratches on a few extremities. He doesn’t seem to have anything broken, but he’s clearly in some pain, so I think he got bounced around. I think he’s just spooked, too, because he hasn’t drank any water since, but I just got him to drink some chicken broth. So it’s not that he can’t drink, and he ate some meat.

Dogs are funny, because even when they’re hurt, they stick to their habits. Guy still jumped up into his usual bed, even though he could barely get there and it clearly hurts to jump down if I don’t notice and help him down first. On the other hand, their instincts take better care of them than we probably can, so I’m trying not to force-feed him or anything.

Someone Else's Computer

A conversation at Vox’s about trusting the cloud today reminded me I’ve been wanting to write about that. “The Cloud” is mainly a marketing term that’s been misused in some confusing ways, so let’s define some terms.

Up until a decade or so ago, if you wanted to have a computer at some remote location – usually to provide it with a high-speed, redundant Internet connection – you had a couple of choices. You could do a “colocated” server, where you own the computer yourself, and pay a company to provide electricity and a high-quality Internet connection to it. Or you could get a “dedicated” server, where you lease the computer from the company along with the network access. The main difference is that with colocation, you’re responsible for replacing any failed hardware yourself, but your monthly cost is much lower. But in both cases, the computer you’re using is a specific one, like machine #3 in rack #15 in room D12.

Then computers with multiple processors became cheaper and virtualization became a thing, and companies started selling virtual private servers (VPS). In this case, you’re renting a subset of the resources on one computer instead of the whole thing. A server with 8 CPUs might be divided up into four 2-CPU VPSs for four different customers, for instance. Each VPS only sees the resources that were assigned to it. So if you buy a 2-CPU VPS, you can’t see what else is on the physical machine. You just see what your VPS has been given, as if it was on a physical machine with those limits.

Companies that were selling a lot of VPSs gradually developed tools that made it easy to spin these virtual servers up quickly, or knock them down on one machine and spin them back up on another within seconds. They called this a “cloud” because of the idea that you didn’t see them as individual machines anymore, but as a pool of resources to draw on. Any particular VPS could be on any particular physical machine, and it wouldn’t matter. Since servers could be moved around the cloud with so little effort, it would be easy to do upgrades and handle hardware failures with little disruption.

Another advantage is that, since you can spin servers up and down so quickly and they’re normally charged by the hour, you don’t have to keep a whole room of computers running if you only need to do heavy computation once in a while. If there’s some huge monthly task that needs a hundred servers to get done in less than a day, you can spin them up, run it, and knock them down when they’re done, only paying for the day.

So that’s what the cloud is. The first thing to note from that is that there isn’t one “The Cloud” the way it sounds in commercials. Microsoft has a cloud, so does Amazon, so does Google, so does Apple, and so do lots of other companies. Some companies rent out servers in their cloud; others only use it to offer other services. For instance, my LG phone will do automated backups. Those probably go to a cloud, but whether LG has its own cloud or rents cloud storage from someone like Amazon, I have no idea.

Device and app makers like to put your files “in the cloud.” That allows them to make your device seem like it has more space than it does, because your files are actually somewhere else except when you’re using them. It also has the advantage that if you drop your device in a lake, your files aren’t lost.

However, that means those pictures and videos you think you have on your phone aren’t necessarily really there. They may be stored in the cloud, and only pulled down when you need them. You’re completely dependent on the cloud provider and their software not to lose your files in the meantime. And odds are, if they do, you have no recourse except complaining to someone who barely speaks English. So trusting your files to long-term cloud storage may not be the best idea.

One option is to have your own cloud server at home. The funny thing is, this isn’t a “cloud” at all, since there’s no pool of resources. It’s one computer, working only for you. But it will have cloud-type services running on it, so it will let your mobile apps treat it like a cloud server, allowing you to take advantage of those features without trusting someone else to keep them safe. They’ve been called “personal cloud servers” for that reason.

You can even use both: keep everything backed up to your own personal server in your home or office, and also back files up to cloud storage somewhere. That way you still have remote storage in case your house burns down, but you aren’t counting on the cloud as your only storage for anything.

Storage is so cheap at this point that there’s really no reason to skimp on it. My own workstation has three hard drives mirrored, so two of the three could fail at once and I still wouldn’t lose anything. And I do remote backups to another server in case of a catastrophic loss like fire. I lost files in The Great RAID Disaster Of 2002; that’s not going to happen again.

Sacrificing Everything?

So Nike hired Colin Kaepernick to head up their new ad campaign, featuring his face under the slogan “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Oooookay, let’s unpack that a little.

Some on sports radio are debating whether this will sell more products for Nike, whether the gain in woke Kaepernick fans will outdo the loss to anthem supporters. It won’t, because SJWs mostly don’t play sports. But that’s not what this is about for Nike anyway, not directly.

Nike is a global corporation, not an American one. Their profits are highly dependent on cheap foreign labor and free trade policies. President Trump’s America First-style trade policies threaten that. So this is a way to take a swipe at him with the midterm elections coming up, in hopes of keeping him from getting votes he needs.

That makes sense, considering their business model. Still, it’s hard to believe they were tone-deaf enough to pick that slogan, considering that the whole Kaepernick/anthem controversy comes from the fact that millions of Americans think his kneeling was disrespectful to veterans who literally did sacrifice everything. As it turns out, Kaepernick sacrificed a chance to be a backup QB in the NFL making something not far from the league minimum, in exchange for a paying job with Nike that doesn’t require him to get tackled on Sundays. That doesn’t quite compare to a soldier sacrificing his legs or his life, does it.

Nike’s going to get hammered for that own-goal. Someone there really should have seen that coming. The president did. The cordial tone of his tweeted response showed he knows they set themselves up. But TDS is a terrible affliction; it makes even well-paid corporate shills do stupid things.

Looks like Joe Bob Briggs is coming back, on something called Shudder. He’s going to do a couple of specials around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then have a regular show next year. If you watched bad/old movies in the 90s, you might remember Joe Bob from Monstervision or Joe Bob’s Drive-in Theater. He would introduce movies and share trivia about them during the commercial breaks. Someone put together a collection of clips from his shows that’s up to 321 videos at this point. Here’s one of the few that doesn’t look like you’re watching it through an aquarium. The audio/video quality on shows people taped back then tends to be pretty awful.

Maybe Try Something Else

A few telemarketers have found a way to spoof their phone number as if they’re calling from your own local exchange. I get a call that starts with 217-617, so it looks like it could be from a neighbor or something, but it’s not. I don’t know how they do that – or why they aren’t all doing it – but it makes spam blockers like Mr. Number worthless, since the number usually belongs to an ordinary person in the area. So we’re back to letting calls go to voice mail, at least local calls in the same exchange. Aggravating.

Someone posted this in r/c_programming today, looking for help with his studies:

Hi. I’ve been studying hard on loops lately and I really don’t get it. […] I dont get the logic behind it and how it should work and the difference between the 3 (well I have read the definitions of each loop but I still dont get it! I suck at really comprehending logic like these.)

My best answer (which I didn’t post because it would get downvoted there for being “mean”) would have been, “Why the hell are you studying to be a programmer if you’re terrible at logic?” That’s like studying to be an interior decorator if you’re color blind. Computers are logic machines, and a lower-level language like C doesn’t even attempt to hide that.

I suspect many non-programmers can get the gist of something like this without training:

FOR I IN 1 TO 10

I think many people could guess that prints the numbers 1-10, looping through values for I. I wrote that in BASIC because it’s more English-like than C’s syntax, but the logic is the logic. If that’s still not clear after having it explained in class and reviewing it multiple times in the textbook, then programming probably isn’t your bag. I would say to this questioner: No offense, but we already have enough bad programmers asking for homework help because they’re being pushed through four-week “college” courses before being unleashed on unsuspecting clients. Do yourself a favor and find a different field.

But I would say it more nicely to a real student.

Too bad the sound quality isn’t better on this one, but it’s always cool when people find ways to get more out of an instrument than it was designed for. Makes me feel like when I couldn’t find the trowel, so I used a big screwdriver to dig carrots. It’s like that.


I didn’t decide in advance whether to blog over the weekends or not. Turns out the answer was no. Too much to do, and it’s good to get away from the keyboard. Anyway, I realized titling these things the same with the date every day was stupid since they’re already dated, so I’m going to start titling them with the main topic(s).

I’ve been reading and thinking lately about sincerity, or the lack of it in this era. That’s the best word I’ve found for it, anyway. It’s like we’re all allergic to anything that’s expressed sincerely. You see it in modern movies, where every dramatic scene has to be undercut with a joke of some sort. Nothing can be too serious for too long.

Compare to an 80s action movie like Predator. It’s completely cheesy and unrealistic, and yet it’s completely sincere. The movie never winks at you and says, “Ha, isn’t this cheesy? Don’t take it seriously.” Within the universe of the movie, and on the level of communication between the movie and the viewer, it plays it completely straight. Even an outright parody like Spaceballs is sincere. It’s nothing but jokes and references, but it’s sincerely trying to be funny. It never winks at you and says, “Don’t worry, we know some of these jokes aren’t funny.”

It goes beyond entertainment. The other day, Vox posted a prediction about something that went pretty far out on a limb. Some of his readers said he was embarrassing himself, and his answer was, “So?” Good answer. We’ve become way too concerned about how we look, especially about not looking stupid or foolish. So everything gets wrapped in Daily Show-style snark, as if to say, “Whatever I’m saying right now, I’m not that serious about it.” The only sincerity that’s allowed is sincere hate (as long as it’s politically correct). Sincere love, sincere patriotism, sincere faith, sincere admiration, sincere heroism, sincere friendship – those we cringe away from, and wrap in irony to make sure we don’t look lame.

I’m probably as bad as anyone about it, but it’s gotten tiresome, having everything that matters wrapped in self-aware mockery – the more it matters, the more mockery. If it’s generational, it looks like a trait of Gen X, my generation. We tend to be pretty cynical, so maybe that is part of it. Maybe it’s an overreaction to the way Boomers treated everything like Serious Business, as if even listening to the right music and wearing the right T-shirt slogan was going to change the world. It might afflict Millennials too, though. I’m not sure about that. It seems to have grown since a decade or so ago, but I don’t know whether it was a response to anything in particular. Whatever the reason, it sucks, and it’s time to cut it out.

More to come on this, I’m sure.

Daily Musings of August 29, 2018

I want to do a plug for Selby Implement in Quincy, specifically their parts department. The first thing I bought from them was a kitchen stove about 20 years ago, when they still carried appliances along with their main lines of farm machinery and power equipment. I called the other day to get a carburetor for my new-to-me lawnmower, and the guy said their supplier had it marked as discontinued. So I started looking around online to see if I could find it still in stock somewhere, or a used one. I found a couple that were probably right based on the numbers, but they didn’t have a picture to compare. While I was searching, my phone rang, and it was the parts guy. Good thing for caller ID. He’d looked around in their inventory and found one he thought matched, so I took mine in to compare, and it did. I’ve always been happy with their service, but I really appreciated his going the extra mile like that.


(That reddit thread has a no-politics rule, so I can’t post this there, even though you can’t really talk about what’s wrong with the new Star Wars movies without getting into the politics.)

It’s fun to watch fans argue that there isn’t politics in the Disney Star Wars movies. Come on. The creators aren’t shy about their political views or how they see their movies as vehicles for social education. One writer talked about how the Empire represents “white supremacists” (because Stormtroopers wear white, I guess). Kathleen Kennedy had freaking t-shirts made to declare one of her political goals for the series. Politics is all through the films. You can agree or disagree with it. You can say it can be ignored and doesn’t spoil the movies. But saying it’s not in there just makes you look disingenuous or ignorant.

Of course, movies have always had political messages inserted into them, usually of the left-wing variety since that’s how Hollywood rolls. They used to be more subtle, though. A team of writers in 1975 might have come up with the idea of a horny SJW robot, had a laugh about it, and then said, “Okay, back to work,” and slipped a little of those concepts into a scene somewhere. In 2018, they just do it.

I hate cell phones. I was talking to a client the other day and we got cut off three times in about 15 minutes. No idea which end was the problem. This client also likes using the speaker phone, so that adds another layer of audio cutting out and talking over each other. So pleasant.

So I went looking to see what it would cost to get an old-fashioned landline with a phone stuck on the wall. It took some digging to find, because AT&T had nothing about landlines on their home page or the services page that came up for my zip code. I had to do a search that jumped me into a section of their site that wasn’t linked from the main menu. Anyway, $20/month for the stripped-down, no long distance, no frills, possible extra fees for “local toll calls” landline. Probably closer to $30 by the time you add taxes and various fees.

Ouch. I get it: the cost of maintaining copper in the ground hasn’t gone down just because other communications technology has improved, so there’s no reason for landline service to have gotten cheaper over the past 20 years. That’s a lot to pay for a second phone I only use for incoming client calls, though. Too bad.

Watch this and guess what part of the country these guys are from, then scroll down below the video to see the answer.

It was a trick question. They’re from Finland.

Daily Musings of August 31, 2018

I like this new blogging method so far. It’s working so well that I’m now writing this from yesterday, to give me an idea for tomorrow (er…). Slapping down thoughts 100-200 words at a time works better for me than long-form articles or short tweet-style grunts. I don’t know whether the results are any good, but at least it got me writing. I’ll worry about quality later.

Good grief. I was just updating the St. Rose calendar, which I do by taking the same entries from last year and editing them for this year. And I see one says “First Firday.” The feast of pine trees? Guess I wasn’t using a spellchecker on that one.

Some nerds on reddit were talking about why Disney Star Wars went back to the same old Rebels-versus-Empire idea of the original trilogy, without even giving a decent explanation why. The reason is pretty simple. The people who now run Disney and Lucasfilm still think of themselves as the counter-culture. They’re Boomers, so that’s part of their generational identity. It’s always 1968, and they’re always fighting against The Man, with no self-awareness that they are The Man now.

Someone suggested that they should have had the New Republic turn lazy and corrupt over the 30-some years between movies, and then the heroes could have been some rebels within that banding together with elements of the old Empire to revolt against it. While that’s a great idea, think about how it would look from the creators' perspective.

The heroes in which they see themselves won the day in the original series, but then they became so corrupt that other heroes rose up to fight and defeat them, including some of the enemies they thought they’d wiped out the first time. Now look at them in real life: they rebelled and won in the 60s/70s, taking over major corporations like Disney as well as academia and much of government, then they became lazy and corrupt, and 30-odd years later heroes rose up to overthrow them…. Who are the heroes in this scenario, and who is their leader?

Yeah, that’s not a movie they would make. It’s not a movie they could even think of.

Someday soon I’m going to start a series of reviews of Farscape, the best TV show ever made. It starts out with a guy going into orbit to do nerdy science stuff, and 88 episodes later we’re getting scenes like this one. It’s a show made of puppets and leather and bodily fluids that turns into an exploration of the human mind and the nature of reality (and unreality). But now I’m getting into it, so I’ll save the rest for the reviews. Just have to get the DVDs first.

IPFS key for this video: QmV21rwU3Ldy6BKKYfKxT5YWgDopPZibrdbpQVSaWaH63M

Daily Musings of August 30, 2018

I started using Quora a while back when it notified me that a couple of friends had started following me on there. I’d created an account years ago, but hadn’t used it. The idea was that it would be good for getting freelance business. If you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s a site where people ask questions and anyone can answer them, and then answers are voted up or down. You’re allowed (encouraged) to advertise yourself through it, so it’s a chance to show off your expertise.

That’s the theory, anyway. Now that I installed the app and get a notification about some questions in my fields every day, I’ve noticed something odd. Many of the questions don’t really feel like honest questions. They feel like leading questions designed to promote something. A lot of them are like, “Why do so many system administrators prefer Linux over BSD?” Or, “Why is Microsoft Outlook the best email program?” Even in cases where the products named aren’t for sale, so there isn’t an obvious profit motive, it feels like someone’s selling something. Maybe people who want to answer those questions to sell their own services are posting them with a sockpuppet. I dunno.

So I haven’t really gotten into it, and now I’m not looking for freelance work. I wouldn’t mind answering real questions, but it’s hard to find them among the fluff. Also, the app sucks. Apps suck in general, but this one sucks worse than most. So it’s not something I’m likely to do while I’m having a beer under the shade tree in the evening. I’ll keep half an eye on its notifications, though, and answer the occasional interesting one that comes through.

I might be writing some stuff about Star Wars, Star Trek, and movies in general for a while. I’m not a super-fan or anything, but they are a part of our culture, some of the stories we use to talk about and understand ourselves. That idea gets derided, but there’s nothing wrong with it. Shakespeare and Homer were the popular culture of their day, but we call them classics because they’re old and have stood the test of time. We don’t know yet how much of our entertainment will stand that test (I think we can make some good guesses, and I will), but we do know how influential it is now. These stories, being made as they are by corporations with global aspirations, have ideological aspects that matter. So I’ll be diving into some aspects of that as they come to me here, and maybe assemble them into something longer and more coherent later. Case in point, next:

Someone at reddit was comparing Boba Fett and Captain Phasma, saying basically that Captain Phasma is just another Boba Fett – a character that does nothing except look cool – implying that you can’t blast her if you liked him.

I’m old enough that some of my grade school classmates had the OT action figures. One kid had shelves of them (and black lights in his room! Very cool), so I’m sure he had Boba Fett, maybe an army of Fetts. The thing I remember is that that was all pretty organic. People started buying the heck out of the main figures, so they made more from the secondary characters, and people gobbled those up, and pretty soon they were making one of that guy you see in two frames in the back of the cantina.

And as someone said, Boba Fett was one of the cooler-looking ones, so kids imagined a character and stories for him, and eventually that became fan-fic and books and a whole fandom. It grew from the bottom-up. I don’t think Boba Fett’s actor ever did interviews before the movies to tell people how important he was.

Long story short, the fans decided Boba Fett was cool – then later, Lucas ham-handedly inserted him into scenes in the special editions in response to that. In contrast, Lucasfilm declared Phasma was cool in advance, and dared anyone to disagree by calling those who did “misogynist man-children” (good band name). That’s why it feels so different, even though at a glance they’re both cool-looking action figure characters that do almost nothing in the movie.

This one’s kind of an inside joke, so I can’t explain the whole reason it’s a favorite around here (1:30). But I get a kick out of these that match music with unrelated video when it meshes this well. Plus the clothes and dancing of the 70s are just amazing. Past eras had so much style. Some of the style was terrible, but at least they had it.

Daily Musings of August 28, 2018

One somewhat longer one today, then a fun one. I think I’ll keep wrapping up with a fun item each day, for balance.


It’s Buzzfeed, so you have to read between the lines, but this is the kind of thing I was alluding to yesterday in my video on fixing the Internet. The Big Social companies got a rude awakening in 2016. They found out if they allowed everyone to use their platforms freely – which was a big part of how they became popular in the first place – smart people on the other side of the political aisle could use those platforms to beat them in elections. When they say “manipulation,” they really mean “the other side playing by our rules.” When they say “election protection,” they mean “making sure our platforms help our side win.”

It’s not about “Russian troll farms,” which do exist, but can be hired by both sides, and aren’t effective anyway. It’s about Americans on the Right organizing and passing effective memes and ideas around on social media. These companies and their CEOs are pouring millions into the campaigns of open-borders globalist candidates. They see no reason to let their own systems be used to oppose them. The only reason they didn’t shut down all dissenters on November 9, 2016, is that their business model depends on keeping a critical mass of users, so they can sell that data. There’s no point in being on Facebook (or Twitter, Google+, etc.) if your friends and people you want to follow aren’t on it. If they openly turn their platforms into left-wing echo chambers, they’ll be setting themselves up to be replaced the way Facebook replaced MySpace.

They know that, but at the same time, they’re already billionaires, so some of them may figure they can afford to lose some money for the cause. And they’re very angry at Americans for voting for President Trump, to the point where some of them aren’t really thinking straight. So they’re trying to shut down dissent anyway, but piecemeal, picking away first at “extremists” like InfoWars before moving on to more moderate dissenting voices.

When a handful of companies control an entire industry and collude to decide what products will be allowed in their marketplace, they run up against anti-trust law. When they do so to manipulate elections, you can add election law to that. Their butthurt over 2016 is going to get them in big trouble if they don’t wise up. Some of the CEOs seem to realize that, but they’ve surrounded themselves with a SJW workforce that doesn’t. Looks like they’re headed for the cliff.

One thing you can say for the Internet: it’s made it easier than ever for artists to produce work and get paid for it. I’m not some kind of hipster, searching for obscure music you probably never heard of, but there’s just a ton of good, inventive stuff out there to stumble over. Of course, half the time I’m probably “discovering” someone that everyone else already saw on a reality TV show three years ago. Oh well, it’s new to me. Here’s a good one.

Daily Musings of August 27, 2018

I’m going to try something new for the blog. By “new” I mean something I’ve done before, but I’m trying it again a little differently. I do some blog commenting and forum posting here and there, but it’s always seemed like there should be a better way. A response isn’t always worth writing a full blog post of my own. But often the thought I have is kinda long for a comment, or it goes off-topic, so it’s not really appropriate for a comment. I could tweet them, but Twitter sucks, and it doesn’t seem like any of the alternatives are ready yet.

So I’m just going to put them here, with links to the article I’m commenting on, along with other thoughts that pop into my head – basically anything that might be worth expanding into an article later. Then I’ll try to remember to publish it at the end of the day. The comments may not make much sense out of context, so if you don’t want to go read the original articles, feel free to skip these. This is borderline experimental.


Next to Shapiro, no one’s been pushed harder on the chans as someone to follow than Peterson. So one day I thought I’d watch a video he did on philosophy that was highly recommended. It didn’t make much sense to me, which is usually a sign that I should check my wallet. I barely know who Jung and Kant are, though, so it’s possible I just wasn’t educated enough to get it. But here’s the thing: neither is that target audience. They aren’t responding to him because he made a profound point about Jungian archetypes, so they’re following him because something he said hit them in the feels.


I have to disagree with Fred Reed on one point here:

Americans no longer have a shared identity, a common culture to hold them together. In 1950 America was overwhelmingly white, European, and Christian. How deeply one believed was not the point. Christianity was a matrix binding all

It did matter how deeply it was believed. Sure, there were people in 1950 who didn’t really believe and just went along to get along, but they were the minority. When Christianity was no longer believed by the majority, and became just a shared set of cultural norms, it didn’t take long to discard those in favor of individual freedom and diversity. Now even some atheists realize our society would be better off if we all still went to church on Sundays and tried to have kids in wedlock, but you can’t get a population to follow rules like that unless the people believe the religion that sets them.

And Fred probably shouldn’t look too closely at the Catholicism of his adopted culture, lest he see how skin-deep it is too.

On a lighter note, I found this the other day. I’m not sure what it is, but it’s pretty great.