Morning walkies: weather a bit blustery, but OK. Trying out the new shoes; they're fine for the first couple of miles, but after that it becomes apparent that I need to fiddle with the lacing, as the tops of my feet start hurting where the laces are tightest.
Back home, and set out on the first errand of the day: taking the poor old Jeep to the mechanic. It's overdue for an oil change, and also it's recently started emitting hot oil fumes from the engine compartment. And it's behaving somewhat oddly in other ways. I'm hoping it's just some malfunction of, e.g., the PCV system or some such, leading to oil-fume leakage and vacuum issues. Unrelated to any of this (and not worth fixing), the rear bumper recently got visibly mashed when it was rear-ended by, apparently, a distracted driver who was driving himself to the hospital with a compound fracture, which could, I think, be a mite distracting.
So, the Jeep is in the hands of the mechanic. Rain is expected shortly. And... the cats have a vet appointment this afternoon. All three of them. Rain could make that expedition even more of an adventure.
Oh, and getting work done? Not much so far. There's much to accomplish this week, but many distractions. Wednesday morning, dental appointment. Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, a trade show. Given the parking situation near the convention center, I probably want to do the trade show on a not-rainy afternoon.
Update 1: Just got the paperwork from an update to my homeowner's insurance. All appears in order, except that I notice that the work number on record is, um. Well, first of all, that employer went under just about 16 years ago. Also, the area code shown is 415, and I think it got changed to 650 somewhere along the line (while the company was still in business, and still in Palo Alto, so before spring of 2000).
Guess I should update that sometime. Maybe when move out of the area and need to find a new insurance company. They do have the correct and current home number.
Anyway, it's time to move the cat carriers to the bedroom in preparation for the Great Cat Roundup.
Update 2: The vet trip went fairly smoothly, though Southmoon was (as usual) a challenge to round up and apparently growled at the vet tech. Now they're all current on their vaccinations.
Update 3: So the mechanic called....
Tran$mi$$ion problem. Torque converter pump front $eal i$ leaking. It'll have to go to a tran$mi$$ion $hop, but mechanic'$ gue$$ i$ around $2300.
She gave twenty years of service, boys, then met her sorry end
A bit over 27, actually. This takes some ponderin'. Around these parts, any basic usable used car (that's working well enough to pass its smog check so it can be transferred) is going to cost about that much. Resale value of the Jeep, even if the transmission problem were fixed (but not the other, non-critical problems) is basically zilch; the plan was to scrap it in spring. Between now and spring, though, Joy needs some means of locomotion, and sharing one car for that long promises to be awkward. Taxi rides are expensive. The bus system, last I checked, was next to useless for anyone wanting to get from one particular place to another particular place on any kind of schedule (but perhaps matters have improved). Leasing a practically-new car for a few months? Upwards of $750/month from Hertz, so that adds up in a hurry; at the 3-month mark, it's enough to cover the transmission repair, or maybe the cost of acquisition of a beater.
Another factor here is that we'll occasionally be needing some local hauling capability; the Jeep, even limping, may serve the purpose. Or, pickup trucks can be rented by the day as needed.
Update 4: One of the nearby used-car lots shows a few maybe-plausible cars for around $2500; with some searching of Craigslist, something that'll last for a few months might be had for perhaps $1500. The assumption here is that the Jeep, fixed or not, gets scrapped as part of Operation Bug Out (the accumulation of problems other than the current critical one makes it not worth paying to have it fixed up, though I suppose a hobbyist might want to take it on), and that a cheaper-than-transmission-repairs replacement also won't be worth trying to take along. Post-move, I'll be needing a good pickup truck (probably used-but-not-too-much-so), and I figure the Prius has a few years left on it. Barring another global economic meltdown in the meantime, the real-estate downsizing ought to free up plenty of cash for things like a used truck.
Update 5: The Jeep is still, technically, running. I seem to recall the gummint has occasionally offered me some sort of incentive to retire it (but not enough to entice me, while there was still some use to be had from it). Might just check that out.
And it is pathetic to record that the foreign tradition was then represented by two of the ablest men of that age, Frederick of Prussia and Pitt; while what was really the old English tradition was represented by two of the stupidest men that mankind ever tolerated in any age, George III. and Lord Bute. Bute was the figurehead of a group of Tories who set about fulfilling the fine if fanciful scheme for a democratic monarchy sketched by Bolingbroke in "The Patriot King." It was bent in all sincerity on bringing men's minds back to what are called domestic affairs, affairs as domestic as George III.
It's not all that uncommon for me to assign voices to well-developed characters; the wizards of Unseen University have very definite voices, defining the BBC actors who (in my mind) ought to play them, apart from the inconvenience of some of them being dead. But having the narrator suddenly acquire a definite voice is unusual.
Go on, try reading a bit of that book. Try not to hear it in Blackadder's voice. I dare you.
No, I'm not going to go back and rewrite this post in George's voice.
Does not apply when doing business with the Government.
Seriously, how is this even remotely legal? The government pays retention or re-enlistment bonuses to soldiers, who accept them in good faith and carry out their side of the deal, and then comes back many years later and demands the money back?
Any private business that tried to get money back from its employees long after the fact because, in retrospect, it had made payments in error would have to go through the courts, where it would surely be told to bugger off... right?
Yup. The laws don't apply to the institutions charged with upholding them.
Whatsoever, for any cause, Seeketh to take or give, Power above or beyond the Laws, Suffer it not to live!
Additional: Couple more quotes to keep in mind when dealing with governments in any way:
I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.
What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?
(No, I'm not going to do the "hot potato" dance. That's for actors. Also, I think there's a different ritual when someone's quoted from the play, as opposed to saying "Macbeth".)
And furthermore: Imagine if you will a future with government-run single-payer health care. An audit of the system reveals that, years ago, you received an expensive treatment without proper approval. Think the bureaucrats who made the mistake will be punished? Ha! No, you'll be expected to pay the money back, with interest. And if it was your late grandmother who received the incorrectly authorized treatment? Despite the longstanding principle that debts are not inherited, expect the government to demand payment from Granny's estate, meaning her heirs, meaning you.
Somebody's gotta pay, and it ain't gonna be one of us! Quick, find some peasant to go after!
Plumber's snake and garden hose Unclog the pipe that guides the rain! - But all my efforts be in vain.
When we had the recent rain, I noticed that the downspout by the porch wasn't draining properly; the water mostly seemed to be coming out at the top. Doubleplusungood!
So, this afternoon was time to Deal With It. Obvious cause: sundry plant debris clogging the top of the main pipe. There does seem to be such crud present. So, give it a poke with a cheap plastic sink-drain unclogger. That pokes through the crud. Give it a blast with the hose: much crud burbles up. Also, all the water comes out at the top of the main pipe, not the bottom.
Fetch hither the snake! Feed the snake down as far as I can get it to go, which is pretty far. Water still won't go down.
Attack the other end, with the hose. Eventually feed the hose in until... oh. Did I mention that the bottom of the downspout connects to a pipe through a lunk of concrete on the side of the porch? Consider it mentioned. Anyway, I blast out mud, slugs, and assorted ick, plus the obligatory itsy-bitsy spider. The hose reaches what seems to be the back of the concrete thing, where it should be connecting to the actual downspout. At this point, the water is coming out clear.
So I send some more water up to the roof... and it comes out at the top.
Looks like I need to dismount the whole fargin' downspout, find the clog, clear it out, and remount it. Then repaint, too.
Well, next rain isn't for a while. Good thing, too; using that snake while standing rather too far up a stepladder on uneven ground was very tiring indeed.
I think I'll go do something relaxing, like bashing on some Verilog code.
Update: Returning to the battle Sunday afternoon, I found that the two straps holding the downspout in place were well and truly affixed to the house (which I guess is a good sign; if the siding had rotted, they'd come right out). Out with the metal-cutting shears! The straps having been severed, and nasty sharp rugged ends left, I could... um. This thing still doesn't want to come loose. Also, it's heavy. Which, what with it being full of water all the way to the top, isn't all that surprising.
Time to perform an emergency downspoutotomy. Fetch the (cordless!) drill, and make a modest-sized hole in the area formerly covered by the lower strap, about four inches above the concrete. A most impressive spew of mucky water emerges under pressure (4 PSI or something). Muck gets all over the drill, my hands, my feet, and various other things.
The downspout having been lightened, I have another go at shifting it. No soap: the bottom is anchored in the concrete, and, if there ever was a come-apart section, it's painted solidly together now. (I have the feeling this is the original, sixty-some-year-old downspout, with as much accretion of paint as one would expect.)
Ah, well. For now, enlarge the hole to ½", and confirm that (after a bit of flushing) it'll handle all the flow I'd expect from a heavy rain on the small section of roof serviced by that particular drain. In the process, I get quite wet while operating the rain simulator, but it's a fairly warm afternoon.
This is maybe a job for a handier handyman, now that the urgent business of making it drain somewhere near the bottom, and away from the house, is dealt with.
Or... hm. I need to take some measurements and make a hardware-store run, and see what they have in the way of downspout fittings. Maybe the solution is to break out the sozzle, cut the thing off neatly both above and below where I put the hole, clean the clog out of the bottom bit, remove the strap-ends and nails while the pipe isn't in the way, and splice the pipe back in place. (Install new straps, re-paint, all that stuff: yeah, that too.) A whole replacement downspout would be a job for someone with the right tools & skills, as this particular one has some odd bends in it, to fit the contours of the house at that location.
Or, now that I know the nature and location of the clog, I might just have another go with the snake. Which, should it succeed, would just leave the details of patching the hole, extricating the strap remnants while the pipe is still in the way, and the rest of the tidy-up details. Which is also a pain. Plus, I'd really like to get some fresh paint behind where the pipe runs. Think I'll make a Home Despot run, and see what the options are for splicing.
Update 2: Gronk. Good thing I measured first. Downspouts on this house are 1⅞" by 2⅛", as measured across the outside of several layers of paint. Modern downspouts are (a) vinyl, and (b) 2" by 3", possibly inside dimensions. Ergo, the big-box stores have no fittings (nor replacement straps) suited to my needs. Straps are readily fabricated at home; fittings, not so much.
Further efforts at unblocking the existing installation are fruitless. I suppose I might try something radical, like splicing a 1/4" hose onto the end of the garden hose and threading it into the recently-added perforation.
I guess what's left to do, soon, is to remove the rest of the strap ends and their associated nails - I did manage to remove one of the four - and slap at least a coat of primer on any and all exposed wood.
Fixing it properly may become one of those "wait until it's time to summon the professionals" things.
'Tis getting on toward winter, and time that Five Fingerses and river shoes just aren't right for the weather. I need something appropriate for moderate rain and mud - and for keeping my feet dry! - and for those times when there's actually ice on the ground and I feel the need for actual shoes and socks to keep my feet warm.
So, off to a Real Shoe Store: Beck's, in Sunnyvale. Last time I bought shoes there was, er, upwards of twenty years back. They're still there. But...
They have insoles that seem to address my rolling-foot issue by stabilizing the heels: good. Trouble is, the nearest thing they have to light trail shoes is the Merrill hiking shoes, and those are just too stiff; they don't let my feet flex as they need to.
And so I was referred to the New Balance store in Santa Clara. I go in and explain what I'm looking for, and we quickly narrow it down. I try on three styles, one of them optionally equipped with fancy insoles.
I quickly rule out the fancy insoles with the arch support: they feel way too lumpy. The first shoe style seems to work well (based on pacing rapidly around the store), but, well, they look like modern sneakers. At least they're light gray, not fluorescent pink'n'purple. Second and third styles look more presentable (at least, before they get trail mud on them), but my heels slip. A change of lacing pattern, and the third style works (so far as I can tell in the store) perfectly. Decently light, moderately cushioned, and they're not trying to wear holes in my heels.
And said third style, the basic walking shoe, turns out to be the cheapest thing in the store. Which isn't exactly cheap, mind you, but if they keep my feet happy through winter, 'tis money well spent.
Now I have to learn the difference between a runner's loop and a jeweler's loupe. Apparently this is important.
And, sooner or later, I'll have to figure out how to get real boots working again. Probably later. Could just be a matter of not trying to wear them when I already have an ankle problem. Or maybe I need to find a cobbler, and have custom boots made. Or make my own, even.
Hm. Seems satnav - the article says GPS, with no mention of ГЛОНАСС, but maybe the writer just doesn't realize there's more than one system, and lumps it all under "GPS" - gives wildly erroneous readings in the vicinity of the centuries-old fortress complex that's the center of the Russian government.
Such a mystery!
There's speculation that it's some sort of drone repellent.
Hm, yeah. Maybe it's meant to keep toy aircraft away. Or toy aircraft carrying high-def video cameras. Or toy aircraft carrying grenades or bottles of [list of suggested chemicals omitted].
Or it could be intended to make life more difficult for attackers using homebrew precision-guided munitions: get within [radius, possibly varying] of the target, and you need to go ballistic, or switch to much-trickier inertial navigation (or FPV, which is easily jammed if spotted, and what do the WiFi bands already look like around the Kremlin?).
I assume U.S. cruise missiles have good inertial navigation systems for terminal guidance (and dealing with GPS anomalies, assuming they use GPS at all). ICBMs are, well, ballistic.
So we may speculate that the Russians are worried about non-state actors and rabid-poodle states, and perhaps also are trying to make life more difficult for spies and inquisitive teenagers.
I kind of wanted to watch something on Amazon Video. It's free with my Prime subscription! There's a PLAY button! OK....
It doesn't like Firefox ESR 45.4.0 on Linux, and suggests Chrome. OK....
Under Chrome, I get an error involving "Widevine Content Decryption Module", which seems to be installed and enabled, but with no way to update it. Hm?
Well, this is an outdated version of Chrome. I try replacing it with the latest. It doesn't install, because I don't have the latest libstdc++ installed (and it's not available for this rather dated Linux installation). Well... dpkg says it didn't install correctly, but it seems to run, for a first approximation, and shows the latest version number... but Amazon still gives the same ferschlugginer Widevine error. Foo.
So! Fire up a virtual machine with a recent version of Linux Mint. Update everything (except that one of the configured Ubuntu archives isn't working). Install Chromium, from the repository, and Chrome, as downloaded. Neither of them works: a window comes up, but it shows random corruption and bleed-through from the host's display. Something strange with the VirtualBox support?
Maybe I'll try to sort this out later, perchance after the delayed dist-upgrade of this system. Meanwhile, launch the Win7 VM, Firefox under Windows, Amazon... it wants Silverlight. So I install that. I get a message that Firefox 47 or later would support HTML5 playback, and a Silverlight playback window that has no video and no sound. Grrr.
I seem to be running Firefox 35 or so. As I check, it's downloading an update. It asks permission to restart. OK. Gee, now it's version 38 or something, and updating. Rinse, repeat, how many times?
Download the Firefox installer. Run it. It upgrades my installation to the latest (49 or something). Now, at last, Amazon works, using the HTML5 playback.
This stuff is never as easy as one might expect.
Oh, and now it's past my bedtime, and much too late to start watching a movie.
Update: The HTML5 player, like so many others, occasionally receives a wedgie. It seems particularly sensitive to being put on pause for a while, being told to back up a minute, etc. The wedgie having happened, it's necessary to reload the page and relaunch the player.
Someday, I should make a proper list. Maybe even make an actual doomsday file.
The thought came up a few years ago, in connection with a small business which was organized as a C corporation but run as a one-man shop with occasional added staff; when the one man died, no one (including his family) had the information needed to get at the business records, bank accounts, or any of those other things needed either to keep the business going or to wind it down in an orderly fashion.
So, a doomsday file: everyone with responsibilities should have one. Think sealed envelope, maybe in a locked desk drawer or moderate-security safe, containing account numbers, passwords, contact information for important people (including the lawyer who has a copy of your will), combination to the vault, override codes for the destruct sequence, and anything else your heirs and successors might need in a hurry if you unexpectedly step in front of a bus. Make sure they know where it is, and in general terms what's in it and why. Also, make sure at least one of them - who doesn't travel with you - has signature authority as appropriate.
And, in case you (or your ex's family) may associate with a questionable crowd, here's another suggestion: a draft suicide note. Make sure you chose the means of your self-inflicted demise, and describe it in sufficient detail that a "suicide" arranged by someone who hasn't seen the note will be very unlikely to match the description. Also, make it clear that it's strictly a draft, but that the method is firmly chosen. Your family and a detective may yet end up thanking you, albeit posthumously.
Yes, this is brought on by the tinfoil-hat political material that's making the rounds again. It's highly unlikely that anyone would bump me off, let alone be all clever about it. For a lot of semi-public figures, though, having something like this squirreled away might just be a good idea.
Andrea Mitchell has conceded that the 1960 Presidential election was stolen from Nixon.
This is at odds with the Standard Narrative that has Nixon getting the U.S. involved in Vietnam, as widely held by the "forever 1968" crowd. This narrative requires that it was Nixon who stole the 1960 election and started the war, so that in 1968 he could be running for a third term with his claimed Secret Plan to End the War.
"Those who forget the past are not my monkeys." - Ancient Golubrian proverb
Free trade is, in principle, a good thing. Basic economics, that.
But! Not all countries play by the same rules. Free trade with a country that has slave labor? Not cool, and not fair to your own labor-intensive industries.
And, you can nobble your own businesses. Environmental protection and workplace safety are important; free trade with a country which has no standards (or which fails to enforce them) gives that country an advantage, until things get so bad there that the peasants revolt. And, having decided that these things are important, making compliance any more expensive than necessary makes your own businesses uncompetitive, and provides a powerful motive for offshoring, harming your own workers*.
So, sure, let's implement the corporatist Democrats' dream of "a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders" while imposing a $15/hour minimum wage and vast regulatory burdens on domestic businesses great and small. We'll see soon enough how much that benefits the working classes.
* Offshoring ain't so good for the Company, neither; employing a factory full of furriners with their own ideas about language, work hours, holidays, and so on opens a whole new can of troubles. But maybe it's less trouble than trying to run a factory in Ohio, never mind California.
And not the 1-900 type. This type. As used by newspapers since forever.
In the on-line era, two things have changed. Well, a lot more than that, but two come to mind that relate to the topic at hand.
Firstly, on-line editions of local papers now potentially have a global audience, so the Fulton County Weekly may be read by someone in, say, Denmark, who has not the slightest clue which Fulton County is meant. The expansion is temporal as well as spatial; the reader may be several years in the future, so a reference to "last Tuesday" is less than enlightening.
And, secondly, the whole concept of a dateline seems to be getting lost; articles are routinely published without any clear indication of where and when.
This gets confusing! I was just looking at a story datelined PILSEN, which apparently is part of Chicago, and not in Czechia as I'd initially thought.
So, folks? How about including a complete dateline, for the readers who are outside the area and possibly not looking at the current week's edition?
And how about including complete geographic information in the masthead (or nameplate, as I'm informed we Yanks call it)? Again, readers may not be local, and may have not the slightest clue where your city or county is located, especially if it shares its name with another location or several.