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LJ and evil laws of Russia

LiveJournal is now a Russian-owned company and has been for a while. Recently a new "user agreement" has been put into place, subjecting LJ users to onerously vile Russian laws in some circumstances. This post sums it up rather well:


For the same reasons, I cannot see posting new material on LJ if that will make it and me subject to such evil or potential evil. If you care to follow my posts, I suggest you have a look at:

http://vakkotaur.insanejournal.com/ instead.

Or, where I might be more active:


At most I might post pointers to such here.

It does sadden and annoy me that LJ is not merely fading away, but is being killed. I once paid for the "lifetime" membership for the utility of things and the ease of not having to fiddle with an ongoing subscription. That money seems a sad waste now.

Am I overreacting? I hope so. But better safe than sorry.
Voting with my virtual hooves.
See you... elsewhere.

Life Goes On... For Some

Sometime yesterday (Monday, March 27 2017) a cleaner called the neighbor, Dan Sweet, and got no answer and no return call within the usual time. Another call was made to have someone check on the fellow. He was found, sitting in his chair, dead. There were, I am told, no signs of any flailing or anything. He just stopped.

He was in poor health for years. Severely overweight (he weighed at least twice what I do), if not a chain smoker close enough (after each time I was in his place I had to do laundry and take a shower to avoid a smoke-induced headache), and drank quite a bit. I knew he drank, and more than a drink or two a day, but evidently it was around a quart of the hard stuff daily. Yikes!

jmaynard was about to go back to work after lunch and saw a car almost blocking the driveway and other vehicles about and then found out most of what was said above and relayed that to me before leaving - not bothering with asking anyone to move that car. I walked to the nearby Shell station as another neighbor works there, but we just missed each other. After the gal then taking care of the station was finished with a phone call and a few customers, I asked if she knew.. the puzzled look said, "No." and I explained. And then the gal there made a phone call to her boss (my other neighbor) and relayed the news of the day. On my walk to Shell, a hearse drove by. On my walk back from Shell a Sheriff's car drove by. When I got home, there was the hearse, a squad car, two sheriff's cars, and a bunch of other vehicles.

Now I wonder what will happen to/with the house. Dan had been getting the place in order enough for his mother to move in - and she did for a while, but had to move out again as she couldn't deal with Dan all the time. I understand if she would rather not move in, but I hope she does as that would mean a good neighbor. I also wonder what will happen to Dan's dog - a dog I felt sorry for as it needed to run or at least walk a long time and never got the chance.

Between that news and the weather finally not being rainy and damp and miserable, I went for a walk... about an hour overall. More than I'd been expecting, but it won't hurt anything. And I found a chisel lying in the street and removed the tire hazard from the thoroughfare.


Decades late now, but due to my experience, I am at absolute best reluctant if not outright rejecting the idea of purchasing an Alinco product. It’s not their products, as such. It’s the treatment I had about one.

Many long years ago I dreamed of having a nice dual-band handheld trasceiver (Handi-Talkie or “HT”) and I saw that this new-to-me company had one at a slightly lower price than the Big Three of the day (Kenwood, Icom, Yaesu) and the ad said it had everything I wanted. It had decent power, which mattered as I did not reside in the city and low power meant “will not be heard.” It covered the 2 meter and 70 centimeter bands. It scanned, so the ad said. Since I was then in area that did have multiple frequencies in common use, this was something quite desirable.

So I worked, saved up, and ordered. And when it arrived, it had power to be heard even out in the sticks. It had coverage of both bands. And it did NOT scan. I re-read the manual a good many times, figuring I must have missed something. I finally called Alinco USA and asked about this – and I was told they were working on a module or such to add that feature, could I wait a little while? Well, that seemed reasonable. I should have boxed up the radio and returned it right then and save up a bit more for an Icom like everyone else, but… youth and hope.

I could get it to ‘scan’ in a crude way that involved a wedge on the channel up button and a rubber band, but that would not stop the ‘scan’ if the channel was active. It was a crude hack I should not have had to resort to.

Some time later, I’d heard nothing and so called again. Same story. Well, in all the time I had the thing, there was never a scanning module. Nor was there ever one (I kept looking for some time after I’d given up, sold the thing, and went with Icom – who lived up to their claims). So, even if Alinco products are good now, even if they do everything claimed, I am more likely to go with just about anyone else.


Alinco lied to me.

This has never been made right in any way – not even a simple apology. After all this time, I do not expect it to be made right. And on the way to me right now is a radio made by Baofeng. I’ve heard that it’s ‘cheap junk’ and maybe it is. I don’t care: Baofeng hasn’t lied to me.


I have used, perhaps sparingly, the soapbox.
I have been in, if only briefly, the jury box.
I have used the ballot box.
And I have used that one to avoid using that other box.

I hope it's enough. I really do.


Tired of being lied to, being lied about.

On Tuesday I voted. I did not for, I voted against. I voted against an existential threat. I was not, am not, happy with what that required. I fear I gave a vote to someone who will turn out to be another LBJ (that is NOT a compliment). Unfortunately the alternative was far worse. Did I mention existential threat? Yes, really. No, not overstating it. And I also fear that we didn't avoid the threat, but delayed it - slightly.


I am goddamn tired of being told I and anyone like me is racist.

I am goddamn tired of being told I and anyone like me is sexist.

I am goddamn tired of being told I and anyone like me is homophobic.

I am goddamn tired of being told I and anyone like me is xenophobic.

I am goddamn tired of being told I and anyone like me is uneducated.

I am goddamn tired of all those damned lies, and good many more.

So, yes, I am going to bloody well enjoy a sound message of "FUCK YOU" to damn fools saying such things. I know it won't solve a damn thing, but it's all I have left. And no, I will NOT kiss your ass and make up. I've heard this message, in various forms, for years if not decades now, and e-freaking-nough. You want civility? Try offering some for a change.


The State of Solid State (Lighting)

...is a mix of "That's pretty cool" and "Why can't they get it right?"

I recently replaced the last regular incandescent lights in/on the house with LED bulbs. 60W equivalent, on sale for 99 cents each. These are on the front porch and don't see a lot of use, but at 99 cents why not be done and then likely never change those bulbs again? And the yellowish 3000K color temperature doesn't much matter there. Meanwhile back of the garage is an enclosed area that had a CFL but on older LED has replaced that. It's more so that in the Winter, the light comes on rather than glows dimly for a while, which annoys me. Again, the color temperature (the truly atrocious yellow 2700K) isn't very important there. Pretty cool. Well, not too bad.

A few weeks back the office lights were changed. They had been nice 4000K bulbs, but alas they were truly junk electronics (the cheapest Chinese stuff there was, it seems. Not inexpensive, cheap.) and so were replaced by a set of Sylvania bulbs. These are slightly more yellow, but at a tolerable near-white 3500K. And these are 75W equivalent and have fuller emission pattern - the room is brighter and not just in spots, but all over, as it should be. Pretty cool.

The old Wal-mart small LED bulbs in the downstairs bathroom have been swapped out for a couple LED filament-alike tubular bulbs (the fixture was made for a pair of tubulars). The room is yellow anyway, so the color isn't critical, but is brighter and the bulbs look right. And the bulb at the top of the stair well is a four-level thing that can be switch-controlled to select from 60W equivalent down to nightlight (that uses a whopping 0.3 Watts). Pretty cool.

And then there's the vanity in the upstairs bathroom which use six bulbs. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, they will be the old small 70 lumen Wal-mart bulbs rather than big G25 globes that really would look better there. Sure, I can get G25 globes - if I want more than 25W equivalent (SIX bulbs - I neither need nor want anything brighter) or would settle for the atrocious 2700K (or less, ouch). 4000K would be ideal. 3500K would be alright. I might even settle for 3000K if the brand was good and the price was right. Why can't they get it right?

The only incandescent lamps left in the house are appliance and indicator bulbs. There are also a few fluorescent tubes (two linear, one circline) still in service.


So I bought a French Press...


Egad, are we turning into coffee snobs?

There is a Caribou Coffee kiosk at a local store, and I stop there often enough that I have their "perks" card (nothing to do with percolators) and a week or two ago it offered a 25% discount on Caribou merchandise. One item I had been considering, but was put off by the price, was a French Press. I'd heard such a thing was good for cold brew, which I was interested in. So I bought - and got a better deal than expected as it'd already been marked down some.

After trying it both hot and cold, jmaynard and I were sold on the system. The result is a very smooth, even creamy, brew that needs no sweetener and no creamer at all. It's wonderfully smooth and complex black. Jay even said it might have spoiled him for regular coffee the way that good beer has spoiled him for macrobrew lager.

Recently I had been looking into dietary changes based on biochemistry ("That stuff grandma said would make you fat? It makes you fat. Here's why...") and one thing was that ANY sweet - even artificial - taste would trigger an insulin release and insulin aids in decrease of blood sugar by triggering its conversion to fat. So I had been cutting out any sweeteners where I could, with rare exception. That meant I switched to coffee (with cream if anything) and tea (with lemon if anything). I'm not sure how much my example had any influence, but I'd been feeling fuller on less and dropped a few pounds with no real effort.

But while that might have generated some interest in having more tea, the French Press needed no dietary argument. The taste spoke for itself. How loudly? Loud enough that Jay bought a small press for at work, and a burr grinder now sits on our counter. The slow cooker that had been there is now stowed - the grinder will see much more use.

We also tried cold brew by another method, but between a non-ideal container and a limited filtering arrangement I utterly refuse to duplicate that experiment without serious modification. It was a heinous painus in the anus. I can see getting a big press for that, but the price is also big. Perhaps that might be our Christmas present to ourselves or something. We shall see. One interesting thing is that while the cold brew doesn't need cream, it stands up to the addition of Irish Cream. The Irish Cream is there alright, but the flavor of coffee is also there and not swamped.

I still use the Keurig as it's fast and every cup is "the first out of the pot." But it's obviously a trade-off for speed and I add cream.

Poll: Presidential Election 2016

Poll #2050945 A Tuesday in August?

If the United States presidential election were held today, I would vote for:

Darrell Castle
Donald Trump
Hillary Clinton
Jill Stein
Gary Johnson
Jubilation T. Cornpone
Someone else
Can't vote in that election
Won't to vote in that race.

Runaway Oven

Last Thursday I was home and had decided on fish for lunch, so oven was heated to temperature, the fish put in to bake, and a timer set. Well before the timer was to go off, I heard a series of beeps. They then repeated. Uh oh. Something wasn't right. I went to investigate and the oven's display showed an error code rather than a time. I stopped the timer, and pulled the fish from the oven - the edges of the coating were already charred. And the hot-pad stuck a bit to the pan. Things were smoky, too. The oven was much hotter than it should have been. How hot? No idea. I aimed an IR thermometer at the open oven and it simply read 'HI' - too high for it give me a number.

And I tried to turn it off. Nothing. The controls seemed not to work. And the smoke detector (which is not in the kitchen, to avoid excessive alarms from milder cooking issues) went off. So I had that to deal with. I pulled the battery from the detector so it wouldn't annoy me or wake Jay as I dealt with things. I wound up turning the oven off by flipping the breaker. We suspect it might have gone into the cleaning cycle temperature regime, though thankfully without locking the oven door.

Then, with just-barely salvaged lunch, I looked up error codes. Crud. It was "replace logic board" - if it didn't go away. A while later Jay woke up and wondered about the smoky smell. I explained what had happened, and he looked at the paperwork in a bag taped to the rear of the oven (up by the controls, so fairly cool). The code also indicated a runaway condition and the recommendation was: Turn the oven off by cutting power, letting it sit a while, and turning it on again. If the code reappeared, it would time to call for service. If not, then things should be OK.

When I reapplied power, the code didn't show up. I set the clock, and later ran the oven up to the temperature I had set for the fish, and set the timer again. And I stayed in the kitchen to monitor things. The oven stayed at the right temperature, the timer went off, and I shut the oven off. All seemed well, but I am still a bit leery. If something happens once, it can happen again.

We've used it a few times since, and things have gone as they should. Still, I'm a bit leery.


The Appeal of Old Technologies

Steampunk. Vinyl. Tubes.

All have some popularity, but why do they? Sure steampunk has a neat style - the time setting of it had few if any synthetics, which limited materials, but that seems to come across as classic style. There is no doubt that had there been synthetic materials available they would have been used. We know this because that's precisely what happened in our history. Cellophane, as one example, was a big enough deal it got written into songs:

You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.

("You're The Top" - Cole Porter)

But people go to steam (and antique gasoline) shows. And there are records - and even tape - in use. Vacuum tube equipment is rarely seen now, but it's there and some new stuff (kits, generally) is still being made. What's the appeal? It's not just historical fascination.

But it is a fascination, an attraction of interest. And that interest? Sure, some is historical. And some will claim that vinyl records and vacuum tube amplifiers sound better than digital recordings and transistors. But there is something more. Many youtube videos of old tunes don't need to be 'videos' as such and could be a title card or lyrics, but show the phonograph. And that, for me, is a hint. You can see it working, and with only a little knowledge have an idea of how it works. Vibrations made a needle move, that made grooves in a disk (or cylinder) and now a copy of that disk is making a needle move and reproducing the vibrations. It's 19th century technology at its core. A similar idea with movies, at least on film. There are frames. Photos. Rapidly sequenced. And a flip-book can do something close enough to give an "Oh, I get it." feeling.

Tape is more complicated, but you see a medium moving and have encountered magnets, so there is or can be an idea of how it works. Granted, records and (reel to reel) tape might just fun to watch in certain moods or states of mind. For tubes, well, it's not nearly as easy, but it's the idea that this collection of relatively small number of discrete parts is doing that, that you at least have a chance of understanding it.

Compare the modern mp3 player (which for many is now a subset of all the functions of their phones). It's a literal 'black box' that sound comes out of. Other than earphone diaphragms and perhaps pushbuttons there are no moving parts. It might as well be magic, even for those who do have a good idea of how it all works. It's nice, yes, but there might be this vague unease of, well, what else is going on? I wonder how much of the nutty conspiracy type nonsense is fueled or enabled by the unease of being surround by things one doesn't necessarily understand.

The 'magic' is wonderful and modern life wouldn't be modern life without it, but the older technology is comfortable and comforting in a way. To use the terms of Harry Potter, we enjoy having the powers of wizards, but are nervous that overall, we are really muggles.

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