Monday, July 24, 2017

Pine tar, 34 years ago today

If you've been living in a cave, here's the story.

Airbrushing Climate History

This day in 1935 say the peak of the "Dust Bowl" years, at least as far as temperature was concerned. Chicago and Milwaukee set temperature records that have not been surpassed in the intervening 82 years.

Of course, all you read in the daily fish wrap is that each year is the HOTTEST EVER!  How does this happen?  Adjustments are made to the historical temperature databases:
There are two parts to the GHCN data: the raw temperature readings, and adjustments to the readings. The raw numbers are easy - they're just the instrument reported temperature for the weather station. Look outside your house at your thermometer - that's the raw data. Here Chez Borepatch, my thermometer says that it's 39°.

Adjustments are modifications to the readings, to "remove inhomogeneities" in the raw data. You (like me) may look at that and say Whiskey Tango Foxtrot are inhomogeneities? CRU helpfully provides an answer:
Most long-term climate stations have undergone changes that make a time series of their observations inhomogeneous. There are many causes for the discontinuities, including changes in instruments, shelters, the environment around the shelter, the location of the station, the time of observation, and the method used to calculate mean temperature. Often several of these occur at the same time, as is often the case with the introduction of automatic weather stations that is occurring in many parts of the world. Before one can reliably use such climate data for analysis of longterm climate change, adjustments are needed to compensate for the nonclimatic discontinuities.
OK, we don't want a jump in the historical record if you move a station or replace a thermometer with a better one.

But. All the Climatologists in the world will look at this data. How much do the adjustments change the results?

We don't know, but people are starting to look. They're starting to find that adjustments change the data a lot. They change the data so much that they show that the earth is warming when the raw data may show that it's cooling.

Let me say that again: Thermometers may be showing that the Earth is cooling, but adjustments to this data show a rapid temperature rise.
What don't get changed are the records.  Consider these:
Chicago - 1934
Milwaukee - 1934
New York State - 1926
Boston - 1911
St. Louis - 1954
USA lower 48 states - 1913
In fact, with all of this year after year of the HOTTEST YEAR EVER, no state has set a highest temperature record is more than 20 years.  In fact, most (39 out of 50) state highest temperature records were set quite long ago - over 50 years ago, sometimes as long ago as 1888 (!).

Stop and think about that - if the science were as settled as people say, wouldn't there be at least one state that set an all time high record recently?  What a strange warming that raises average temperatures but not record high temperatures.

In any case, if you look at unadjusted temperatures, the 1930s were considerably hotter than today.

Good overview of Net Neutrality

"Net Neutrality" is an orwellian term coined by Netflix and Youtube (the top two users of Internet bandwidth) for a proposed government regulation that prevents Internet Service Providers from providing different classes of service for both high-bandwidth and low-bandwidth services.

Basically, Net Neutrality subsidizes video companies at the expense of everyone else:
Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent is likewise clearly in the customer interest. Until the FCC stopped them, BitTorrent users were allowed unlimited downloads. Afterwards, Comcast imposed a 300-gigabyte/month bandwidth cap.

Internet access is a series of tradeoffs. BitTorrent causes congestion during prime time (6pm to 10pm). Comcast has to solve it somehow -- not solving it wasn't an option. Their options were:
  • Charge all customers more, so that the 99% not using BitTorrent subsidizes the 1% who do.
  • Impose a bandwidth cap, preventing heavy BitTorrent usage.
  • Throttle BitTorrent packets during prime-time hours when the network is congested.
Option 3 is clearly the best. BitTorrent downloads take hours, days, and sometimes weeks. BitTorrent users don't mind throttling during prime-time congested hours. That's preferable to the other option, bandwidth caps.
Throttling high-bandwidth services preserves all the other low-bandwidth ones (like email, Facebook, etc).  Here's an example:
Take GoGoInflight's internet service for airplanes. They block access to video sites like NetFlix. That's because they often have as little as 1-mbps for the entire plane, which is enough to support many people checking email and browsing Facebook, but a single person trying to watch video will overload the internet connection for everyone. Therefore, their Internet service won't work unless they filter video sites.

GoGoInflight breaks a lot of other NetNeutrality rules, such as providing free access to or promotion deals where users of a particular phone get free Internet access that everyone else pays for. And all this is allowed by FCC, allowing GoGoInflight to break NetNeutrality rules because it's clearly in the customer interest.
If you've never thought much about Net Neutrality, this is a great introduction.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Evening Musings - A Brigid Guest Post

Thank you, everyone, that helped me put yesterday's troll into perspective and gave me the encouragement to ignore him/her. I write for me and those I consider family/friends, not for the masses, so even words to an empty room are still my words.

For tonight - a little memory that wasn't in any of the books.


When I was out at Dad's on the last visit we went through some paperwork in his safety deposit box, as he's readying his affairs, realizing he probably won't be with us much longer.  Most of everything is in a trust for my late brother's children, as he just left them a lot of debt when he died.  With Dad's expenses, there's not much remaining, though, just a small house and some memories, those remembrances for which we are so grateful.  One of the items he gave me was the original of my birth certificate, sent to them a year after I was actually born, the names on it, his and Mom's, as they had just adopted me. Their only child deceased, they adopted my brother and me and gave us their name, the four of us joined together in a bond that obliterated a painful past in which we had only been a small, unwilling participant.

There is much history in that piece of paper. For I was born to an unwed mother prior to such generation in which raising a child as single woman, was not something to be ashamed of.  
So, through timing, fate, or circumstance - however you look at it, I am the product of adoption, as is my child.  This is our story, this may be yours.
You're almost Sixteen,  soon to have a license to freedom in your pocket, the chrome polished chariot to your future sitting in the driveway in the form of an ancient Volkswagen Beetle. Sixteen, a mile marker for some, for you anyway, old enough to drive, time stolen through pale fences that line the roads as you rush towards your future. 

There's a boy in the Cello section of the orchestra that you like, but he's always hovering around the delicate, blond flowers of the flute section. You are part of the posse of math and science geeks that occupy the wind and brass section that plays with the orchestra one day a week. But there, you are with friends, armed only with overbites, wit and lung capacity, as you sit outside of the strings and the flutes, moving clumsily around like bespectacled bumblebees among the flowers.

There's a dance coming up, a Sadie Hawkins one, in which the girls ask the boys. Your Dad will have to drive you but it's almost like a real date.  With hopeful eyes, you bumble over and ask him to go with you. The blond next to him looks at you with a withering giggle. He says "uh. . I'll call you later" with an expression that is not so much a smile as a dismissal. But you are too young and naive to see anything but the smile.

You rush home, anticipation lingering around you, waiting to be breathed in and let loose in a sudden exhale as you rush to your room to wait. You will sit there in your room in silence for hours as the family eats without you, as dinner dishes are put away, and the room grows cold, your breath vaporizing in the growing dark.

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You're 18, in college, trying to be grown up, as you took your first summer class there at age 14, when you were still a child. But you are a child who is now carrying a child. The older guy who swept you off your feet and took what can't be replaced was gone with that call from the doctor. Everyone says it's your body, your choice. You may have been naive, but you are grown up enough to know that your choice was when you gave yourself to someone outside of marriage.  THAT was your choice, not the taking of this innocent life.

You remember the night she was born, ten pounds, six ounces, after 34 hours in labor, her head crowning, her body bursting forth onto the sweat and blood soaked sheet. You remember only getting to hold her once, for just a moment before she is handed over, in your pain, to her adoptive parents, incredulous of her soft hair, perfect fingers, smelling of the womb, of warmth, of love. She looked at you with a peripheral glance, while you uttered the name you would give her and the words you were not able to say again for years, for in fear of their utterance, the object of those words would be lost to you. I love you, don't forget me. 

You bring nothing home from the hospital, even as you left something there, not a baby, but something you could have lived your entire life with, without ever having known it was inside of you.
It's an open adoption, you know where she is, and with who, but your word is your honor and you promised not to get close. She has the option to contact you if she wishes when she turns of age, but if she doesn't? That, as they say, is that. You gave your word, you will respect. There is nothing to do now but back to your life and try not and notice that when you stop to think if she is safe from harm, your breath catches as if there is no air, and you are going to have to learn to either not worry about her every moment or live without breathing.

So it is as if she fixed in that moment, forever an infant, the walls of that hospital, the door to that room, fleeing away, leaving just her image, immobilized within a tear, inviolate in innocence, forever safe from harm and alteration.

It's the only way you can sleep at night, as for the next 18 years you wait for that phone to ring.
You get through, as best you can, with family, and a dog. A rescue, a runaway, soon to break your heart, that Husky. He was fiercely independent, living the life that philosophers and knights are known to do. You are pretty certain he was purebred, an incredibly beautiful dog, one that probably set someone back a few dollars. But all that mattered was he was lost, no tag, and you tried your best to give him a home.

But huskies are born to run, and with them, they will take your heart. But you are determined to ensure he wouldn't be lost again; getting him vaccinated and tagged, with good food to eat, and a warm bed to sleep in. He spent the next month trying the escape the prison that he viewed his home and your ministrations. Even with long bike rides, and a big yard, he was determined to escape.  He'd dig under the fence, climb over it.  He was good with family, he behaved well inside the house but he was forever a compass between the far horizon and your affection, both implacable.

You try the big pet store dog training, you tried pleading and tears, which works neither on men or dogs, and for good reason.  You tried walking him morning, noon and night. Finally, one day, he got out past your legs at the front door and ran and ran, not looking back. All you could do was put up fliers and worry.

Waiting for that phone to ring

He was found and returned safely.  You would have asked him why if you could, were you not a good "Mom"?  Was as he searching for the home he was lost from? All you got back was an inarticulate gaze, behind which could be either sadness or yearning, though he never let either show.  You'd give him all the exercise you could so he wouldn't run away.  But it wasn't as if he was exhausted. He simply surrendered, as if he'd given over and released completely that grip upon the horizon that called, if only for now. It was a relinquishment that in some souls would mean death, but for this dog, was simply a deep, soft sigh and a longing gaze out of a window as he rests his head on your arm.

You do what you can to keep him happy and safe the rest of his life, but tell yourself you're not going to get another rescue dog after he's gone.  Or any dog, you can do all right all by yourself
You're in your late 30's, happily playing kerosene warrior, loading up a transport plane, simply getting ready for your responsibilities that night, the four bars on your shoulders a reminder of your duties. You don't know if it was pain or illusion that drove you to the skies, leaving broken hearth and home for that greed of adventures that flutters out there somewhere beyond. You don't look inward too closely, being more focused on what is outside, for what is there behind the darkness is more final than simply the loss of one's illusions.

You're all aware of it and one night, while waiting for the fuel guy when we get word a plane is down, Isn't that the one that John? . . .

You pause for the rest of the words, there in that moment before the sun plunges into the edge of the earth, the shapes and forms of aircraft fixed by that already fading explosion. But you can't stop what we're doing, each of you has one ear tuned to the task, men moving and working, shadows on the wall, not of flesh and blood, which is so fragile, but shadows of enduring hope and will, quiet as the murmur of  your breath as you work, one ear still listening.

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You're all grown now, still logging those miles on the road, still checking in with your Dad when you arrive at your hotel when you travel, for though you're grown up, he's seen his 94th birthday and he worries, especially now that his days grow short. The phone lays silent on the seat of the car as you head out, the thump of the tires on the pavement tapping out a Morse code that is unheard, the wheels pulling you further away from everything you have counted on and closer towards the unknown.

The thump of the tires takes you back to those days on the back of a motorcycle, riding with your brother. You think of him, his arms strong in command of that bike, his hands calloused but delicate as he tended to your father all these years. You think back to your last night together, sitting out on the deck, birds twittering above as they built nests for their young, their sounds that of the chirp of a clock, counting off each and every second of Spring. You could not imagine him so sick, even as you can't imagine him not being here now, talking to you each night, the cell phone silent in your pocket.
The house is so empty now, with him gone, your furry best friend gone as well, the two of them quitting this earth just a few weeks of each other. No regrets for that dog, that time, for you realized how alone you really were and added a purebred lab puppy to your life. You ponder a puppy again, a clean slate start with a new friend, fresh starts, no scars, no history. But you also ponder adoption, a rescue animal, one that needs sheltering as much as your heart does, one that will take more work, more trust. You said you never would, but hitting five oh, you realized that life is a risk, never a possession. You fill out all of the paperwork and you wait, there with a picture of a fuzzy older black lab mix saved to your computer, wondering if she was already adopted, praying they would call.

But it was time for other thoughts as you're nearing your destination, the blue and read lights guiding you to where you are called. For now, you can't think of the future, you can only drive through avatars that mark the accumulation of tears

Waiting for that phone to ring.
You are there, that moment, now, laying in bed. You shut your eyes, laying your hands flat against the cool sheets, trying to will yourself to sleep so early, going on call at midnight. You remember what your martial arts instructor told you about breathing, how you enter the true home of your spirit with each intake of breath, each exhalation, actions as old as time, a rhythm that is both life and death.

On the nightstand are two phones, your personal one and the one that tethers you to duty. You never know when that one will ring, a call signaling the exorbitant burden that is nature, fate or someone's personal jihad.  Tonight, you somehow expect it to go off, thinking of swinging out of bed and grabbing the bag, jumping into the truck. Gear in the back, teetering as if to fall, you accelerate too fast, the high beams blinding more than illuminating as they cut through fog that coils in the lows in the road like a snake.

You do this, as the world sleeps, in that state of blessed forgetfulness in which the most fragile of senses can slumber, free from the godless dark intents of man and nature. You go because it is what you do, as much as who you are.
But that night, the thought of that drive already exhausts you, even as you can't get to sleep. You look to the clock, wondering what time it is where your Partner is at, a mission for him that's as much a part of the love of what one does, as duty, something you so understand. You wish he wasn't flying right now, burying the worry under the Kevlar exterior, but it's what he does, as much as who he is.

He'll call when he gets into his hotel, so you know he's safe. You will smile, and you will both laugh, happy to be connected again. Till then, you lay in the embrace of the sheets, all the thoughts of what is going on in the world tickling your senses like electricity, a flicker of current before darkness.
On a shelf are photos, a boy, and a little girl in the lap of the man that chose to be their Dad, having a snack of apples as he reads to them.  There's another picture of those children, in motorcycle leathers, years later, in front of a couple of Valkyries in his driveway. There's an old picture of a group of pilots, all friends, all intact, even after a scare or two.  There's a photo of someone holding a musical instrument, not the silly high school crush, but a person of substance and honor, who, through time and the tears that come from suspect choices, was always there for you, softly touching your scars while bearing your history.

Among the photos on the nightstand is one of a little girl, with eyes the color of a storm-tossed sea, shaped just like yours and just like her mothers.  There's photo after photo of a young redheaded girl, all of those many years that you missed, a dance outfit, a soccer game, a graduation, there in scraps of memory you can now safely hold and breathe in. All you have is the photo to show for those years you simply waited in silence, in stone.
Below that is a photo of a senior black rescue dog, taken by her Foster Mom. Abby is her name and you've completed the paperwork.  It is a Spring day in 2014  and you hope to adopt her. You glance at all of the pictures and smile, breathing deep as you drift off to sleep.

Somewhere out there trouble may stir, shadows may rouse themselves from sleep. But somewhere far above and far away, someone slumbers aloft, their breath, in and out, a rhythm which not the mind, but the heart, marks and calls the measure for. Somewhere far away, your child and her children sleep safely in their beds, as safe as a scared teenager, turned protector of those that have no voice, could make them.

The clock ticks off one more notch of breath as you lay in that big bed in a quiet room, a too-long empty dog bed lying in the corner.

Waiting for the phone to ring.

The dangers of the metric system

Canada went onto the metric system around the early 1980s, and so everyone in the country suddenly found that they didn't know how to measure anything.  This caused a lot of excitement 34 years ago today, when an Air Canada 767 ran out of fuel half way between Montreal and Edmonton.

You see, people got confused about the whole litres vs. gallons thing, and didn't gas it up enough.

Fortunately, the pilot was a glider ace, and the co-pilot realized that they were within gliding distance of a decommissioned RCAF base that he had been stationed at.  They brought the bird in safely, even though there was a car race on the old runway.

And so the moral of the Gimli Glider incident is to make very sure that change isn't just being made because it's a popular change.

Carlos Paredes - "Coimbra e o Mondego"

Sometimes it seems like listening to Classical Music is like visiting a history museum: everything is old, a legacy of people long dead.  Guitar is not like that - there is still a thriving classical guitar scene in Spain and Portugal.  Carlos Paredes was a master, active pretty much right up to his death not so very long ago.

Paredes is a great example of how Portuguese guitar differs from Spanish guitar.  It has more of an eastern influence, perhaps from Portugal's moorish past, and delights in sad, minor keys - an echo of the Fado songs that have been the Portuguese equivalent of the blues.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

There's no Terminex for Trolls

I thought in coming over here to post they'd go away.

Apparently not. They've followed me over here.

Today, my third and latest book, a winner of a major literary award and a best seller here and in the UK got an Amazon one-star review by someone that obviously didn't read it as they talked about using "too much data", to the point they couldn't read it. (to which a retired school teacher called them on that in the comments which was funny).  It's a lyrical, poetic female coming of age story. Data?

The only other review they posted, within 60 seconds of posting MY one-star review and the only books they have ever reviewed was a book written by a good friend, also a gun blogger and conservative Christian. They also gave that book one star saying said that it was written so that they couldn't  be interested in it without providing any real details as to why.

So Virginia - Can we say troll?

But in the four weeks prior to it being possibly selected for another literary award, this seriously dumped its ratings numbers.

I'm open to honest and constructive critique and what I go  with my first two books was valuable in growing as a writer. But this was just a personal attack by someone who uses a fake name and who has never, ever reviewed a book and hit my friend and I a minute apart on Amazon.  I think I'm going to go hide in my cave for a while. For those of you who have read and liked it enough to review, thank you.

Flags and automobiles

There's not just an etiquette involved, there are laws about what you can and can't do.  I hadn't known this, and it seems that the VFW doesn't either.

Now, I'm not arguing that the VFW should get cited, but c'mon.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Summer of the Blade

We returned to the dojo from the annual summer camp in June. All the buildup and preparation for testing is over for a while. It’s vacation time and even the regulars are taking weeks off to travel. Classes are small and often consist of an instructor and two or three yudansha.

Shihan has capitalized on this opportunity. It can start with a non-traditional attack, sometimes a series of yokomen-uchi , shomen-uchi, and mune-tsuki attacks that can only be greeted with parries and blending movements.

Start with empty hand. Hook punches, straight punches, kicks. Get the pattern of attacks and responses you will be working with engrained in nage and uke.

Move to the bokken. Perhaps now it is yokomen-uchis and thrusts.

And then onto the knife. Multiple attacks with a training blade, trying to study not just what the attacker’s next move is, but the move after that, seeking a disarm and an Aikido technique at the finish.

Even the training blade changes the energy of a class. Nage’s focus is the blade. Uke’s focus is the blade. The world outside is forgotten. The universe shrinks down to you and your partner. Over and over, taking turns, it is the blade.

There is no air conditioning. The fans blur any noise from outside.

Shihan watches, stops the practice, makes corrections, demonstrates again, and you resume.

“Parry it this way.”
“Here’s that disarm, lay the flat of the blade on your forearm and strip it.”
“Turn and open your hips, take their balance and control the weapon, then throw.”

It is the summer of the blade.

Terry "Harmonica" Bean - Catfish Blues


Proof that professional environmentalists don't care about the environment

Lead shot kills a handful of eagles each year and so it must be banned.  Windmills kill hundreds a year but must be subsidized:
When worked at Interior, a quarter century ago, I was told that bird deaths due to wind farms were massive, but orders were to do and say nothing, because wind power was fashionable.
General Electric and T. Boone Pickens make money off of windmills, and donate generously to political campaigns.  Eagles do neither.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Fireman's Carnival

The village nestled in the shadow of Castle Borepatch has a volunteer fire department. This week is the annual fund raiser carnival. Infield rides, bingo, and carnival food. It has a delightful small town feel to it.

The band was way better than you'd expect - not one but TWO quite credible guitarists.

Last year I won a big stuffed thing for the Queen Of The World at the shooting gallery. Alas, no infield for us as she's hobbling around on crutches.

But it sure is fun to come out to the local carnival. Fireworks is next.

I'd drink that


Seriously, I'd totally drink that.

The slow death of the carrier Air Wing

An Aircraft Carrier is a delivery platform, it's Air Wing is what it delivers.  The last 25 years has seen a big reduction in the capabilities of the Air Wing:
Carrier aircraft during this time were capable of very long-range missions even when relying only on the fuel they carried. The A-6E could fly 1,000 nautical miles from the carrier without being refueled while carrying up to 18,000 pounds of ordnance, and the F-14 could loiter on a combat air patrol almost 800 miles from the carrier. The S-3 could operate for nearly six hours before needing fuel, as it patrolled the waters surrounding the carrier battle group, identifying surface contacts and searching for submarines.


For the carrier air wing the Hornet was an opportunity to replace the aging A-7 with a more modern, less maintenance intensive aircraft. However, the more modern Hornet would prove during testing that it could not match up with the 608 nautical mile combat range of the A-7, being able to only fly 370 nautical miles with the same weapons load before having to turn back to return to the carrier.

Navy test pilots recognized the Hornet’s short range for what it was: a significant decrease in the ability of the air wing to conduct long-range missions while keeping the carrier far enough away from potential threats.
This is a pretty in-depth article that discusses what happens when shorter range, lack of air tanker capability, and longer range (1000 mile) anti-ship weaponry collide.  Given that a complete carrier Battle Group costs around $20B, this is a big problem.

The Queen Of The World would have gotten around more

But she took an arrow to the knee* had knee surgery and is on crutches for the next few weeks.  Blogging will continue to be off an on.

* For those of you who aren't hip to what the youngsters are up to, the reference is to this.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ten Years of blogging

Not me, but T-Bolt has taken his blog around the sun ten times.  Go leave him some commenty congratulations.

Quote of the Day, Progressives and Trump edition

Great question:
Have the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States and Trump’s first few months in office altered your priors about concentrating power in the federal government?  Do you believe that the only, or the only sensible, response to Trump’s ascendancy is to work harder to ensure that the like of Trump is never again elected to high political office – that is, to work harder to ensure that power is forevermore in the hands only of ‘good’ people?  Or are you now more open to proposals to reduce the reach and the power of at least the national government?  If not the latter, why not?

Narcotics legalization: Comparisons to Gun Control

This is food for thought.  The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago):

But in Portugal, the numbers paint a different story. The prevalence of past-year and past-month drug use among young adults has fallen since 2001, according to statistics compiled by the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, which advocates on behalf of ending the war on drugs. Overall adult use is down slightly too. And new HIV cases among drug users are way down.
Now, numbers just released from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction paint an even more vivid picture of life under decriminalization: drug overdose deaths in Portugal are the second-lowest in the European Union.
This data are stark.  We have a policy in this Republic that has clearly and utterly failed - the data do not lie.  We have powerful incentives for Government to try ever more controls (the Attorney General's idiotic plan to ramp up civil asset forfeiture is offered as Exhibit A only due to the fact that it is the most recent example).  The people advocating for more control have no new ideas that can plausibly work, and so fall back on "do it again, only harder!"

The comparison to gun control is more than a little uncomfortable: target something that people don't like (drug use/gun possession), make a bunch of ineffective laws that empower the State at the expense of the people without "solving" the "problem", repeat the stupidity for 30 or 40 years.

When you consider the vast amount of money flowing to drug gangs, when you consider Attorney General Sessions - the highest Law Enforcement official in the land, for crying out loud - advocating seizing citizens' property without charge or trial or conviction, when you consider the body count from gang turf battles over drug sales, and when you consider the lack of any sort of effective detox programs (like Portugal seems to run), we're left with the conclusion that the War On Drugs is simply evil.  I don't see how any other word fits.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Time Travel

From one point of view I am scanning old slides.

The reality is that I am time traveling. The pictures take me there. Sometimes I can remember the day, the events surrounding the moment I took the shot, with some others, I see the picture and had no memory of it until that moment, but it comes flooding back. So image by image, I go back to my 20s and 30s, back to the Corps, to the births of the children, to the events that seemed important enough to get a camera and record it, holidays, beach trips and so on.

The ones that seem to really catch me are the pictures taken on ordinary days. Something is there that takes me back vividly to who we were and what our life was.

We didn't have any money at the end of the month but we were in love and full of hope and had a trust in the universe that things would work out.

The Gales of Remember - A Brigid Guest Post

October 17, 2015.

There was a lot of stuff at the crash pad packed away in boxes from when I sold the big sprawling home that was Range #1 as well as things I'd shipped back from Dad's after my brother passed away. I finally had a chance to go through it as it found a new home in the Bungalow with my new husband where space is limited and only things most precious are on display.

There was a storm brewing that night, the wind fierce off of the Great Lake, stirring things in the trees, stirring things in me.

In the bottom of one trunk, I found something among things gleaned from my brother's belongings that I had not had much time to go though. And it brought me to tears - because of this photo which is always on display.  Look carefully to the left and right of my brother to the two little creatures, dressed for the winter.
My Mom was 1/2 Swede and 1/2 Norwegian, so although I think they are actually Danish in origin, we always had trolls around.  In the picture, we're playing out in the snow, and Mom had actually made little coats for the trolls to protect their felt clothing.

How little we knew that one day that well-worn photo would be held by a magnet on an ancient refrigerator, there as the snow fell down like the gift of grace on the frozen ground, there in the days of honor and play, before we knew anything of selfishness, greed and the uncaring faces of forgetful men.
There were just our toys of childhood, the toy soldiers, our trains, our collection of matchbook cars and hot wheels.  And the trolls.

We played with them in quiet solitude, not because we thought others would make fun of us for "playing with dolls" but because they were an outlet for imagination.  They weren't "dolls" - they were Vikings, bigger than all of our other toys, even G.I. Joe standing down in their presence.  Their hair was tangled with the imagined salt of the sea, their countenance a grin in the face of any adversity. They were born, not of a woman or the earth, but by magic and myth. Others might not have understood, so they were our solitude, that was also our saving as Mom grew sicker and the waters grew colder.
I wondered what had happened to them, more than once. They were our companions on bike rides deep into the trails that formed as more subdivisions were built, they were the silent watch on deck as we drifted off to sleep at night, the moon outside bending low into our window as if to look onto our face as we dream of fast ships and high seas.

My brother and I were perhaps unusual compared to many siblings as he was genuinely my best friend, and not just my older brother. We'd play in the yard, in the woods, and even better, at the coast where we had a small cabin, running out by the waves until the sun sank round and blazing into the crest of waves as if they eroded that luminous circle with their power, until only darkness and the sound of the ocean remained. When we weren't playing together we were playing with Craig - his best friend for life, who lived next door to us, a brother not in blood, but in spirit.

He and I  rarely squabbled.  He held me on those rare occasions I cried and he protected me from any neighborhood bully, who knew better to invoke the wrath of a tall redhead who would grow up to be a giant of a man, a gentle giant who handled those things he loved as if made of glass.
We played hard and well, even if in adulthood it was sometimes just a game of pool and a beer, laughing as much as we did as children, throwing fates to the wind and taking no prisoners, even if we had a designated driver. On, or in, my dresser is the matchbox cars, rocks. shells, and other things of childhood.

But I  had forgotten what became of those two trolls, there in that photo.   Not long after those days, as we left childhood, I never saw them again.  Like many things of childhood, they just disappeared. The earth takes some - toy soldiers buried in the yard with full honors.  Others are simply cast off as young adults, not yet realizing how precious those little things are until we reach an age where the earth calls its account for all things we hold dear, taking them away before we are ready.
I lift them out of the box, plucking a strand of dust from the hair of the female troll, blinking in the hazy light.  With them is a smaller troll - one my brother gave me when he went off to sea as a submariner. They rest on a piece of wood cut more than a hundred years ago, the same shade of that gate that Dad built some 60 years ago, in the house that my brother and I grew up in.

They were not Vikings or adventurers, they were simply toys from which our adventures sprung forth, daring days of glory in the heat and the cold.  But rather than be tossed out with the rest of the toys, my brother had carefully put them away for me to find someday among his things that were left to me on his passage.

As I gathered the box to place them back into safekeeping, I blink in the diffused light, as shadows ebb and flow outside the window.  I look out to the East, to the lake and in my mind's eye see a shadowed vessel manned by a redheaded shade, there beyond the horizon, who sends me a wave of greeting as he disappears into a soundless gale.
Someday I will join him, when the splash of the ocean bites into the Sun, when the end of all things earthly comes without furor or whisper, that moment we release ourself to the water and our hearts cease to beat as if an engine stilled.  In that moment, in that perfect moment of immobility, there will be a new adventure awaiting in glory.

But not for now, now is for living and remembering.

The trolls almost seemed to stir there in the play of light, as if remembering all of those days of joy and freedom.  So many memories there - the laughter of a young girl, and the brave shout of a boy, running his plastic warrior up to the top of the hill, where we are stronger than the oceans, Vikings rule, and imagination never dies.

I  carefully put them away, as I raise my hand into the gales of the east and wave goodbye.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Explaining the security in the "Internet of Things"

But hey, there's a gate, amirite?

The Scanner

A couple of comments asked what I was using to scan my pictures and slides. A good question because it is a fairly new purchase and I am very happy with it.

It's a Epson V600. Cost about $200.00 online. This is the first scanner I've owned that managed slides in any usable way. This is doing a much better job than my previous scanner and here's an example. The top image is a scan I did in 2009, the bottom image is one I did this weekend. It is the same slide. Even on the older one, the full image doesn't look that bad, but when I zoomed in, you can see the posterization and muddiness in the older image.

It does an equally nice job on prints and significantly faster because I am scanning the prints at 600 dpi. They require a bit more attention because there is no set size or tray to put them in like the slides.

One of the things I like about it is the software package. Used in the pro mode, it provides a great deal of flexibility. It comes with a backlight in the lid and a tray for slides and negatives. I am scanning the slides at 3200 dpi and having them saved automatically in a temp folder. This lets me do other things and then every five minutes or so I can put in 4 more and hit the button.

I could not justify a dedicated slide scanner for this size project. If I had 20,000 slides or more, I might have spent the money for a auto feeding slide scanner that I could have put 50 slides at a time in and walked away.

And just in case, here's a disclaimer. I bought the scanner. Paid on-line retail price. Epson doesn't know me, doesn't care about me, and has not compensated me in any way for saying nice things about their product.

What do you get when it's the "Hottest Year Ever"?

Skiing in the middle of summer:
Summer Shredding
With over 600″ of snowfall this winter the 2016/2017 ski season is still going strong and we’ll be skiing and riding into August.
That's some righteous Global Warming, right there.  Skiing until August in California.

So: when it's hot, that's a sign of Global Warming.  When there are record snowfalls, what is that a sign of?  And if there's no possibility of an incorrect prediction, can we even call it "science"?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

One Carousel

Looking down on my desk right now. The scanner does 4 at a time, with the setting I am doing it takes about 5 minutes.


So what do you do with a couple of thousand slides? Thousands of prints? It's tempting to decide that no one will ever look at them and have a bonfire.

It absolutely true that in 2017 no one is going to drag out an old manual Sawyer projector and spend hours looking at slides. But maybe, someday, if I only keep the good ones, the kids would look at the digital images. Maybe.

So I realized something a couple of weeks ago. I took them as a hobby. I can scan and organize them as a hobby. I'm no longer doing for anyone but myself. This is the last time I will handle these slides. Scanned or rejected, all of them will be tossed when I finish. It is a trip down memory lane to a life I lived.

There's everything, my pictures from Japan and the Philippines, births, birthdays, beach trips, playing in the yard. I'm about 500 slides in, maybe 1500 to go. Then I will finish the prints and make a digital archive for the family.

And yes, it's backed up. More than once. Off-site. I would never do this twice.

Here's a few I scanned this week. The first two are only edited to remove dust and age issues.The last one I edited in Gimp to force it into a silhouette.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The very first Internet Security song?

On the Book of Faces, the Queen Of The World found this:

Good advice, actually.  The humor might help people remember the lesson.  And if humor is what you want, this is obligatory:

Grooming at Gitmo?

The World wonders.

Goldilocks and the Three Berettas - A Brigid Guest Post

Goldilocks goes to the gun store to select a pistol for self-defense.  The sales representative shows her several models in different sizes to look at.

"This gun is too big!" she exclaimed.
So she picked up the second gun
"This gun is too big, too!"  she whined.
So she tried the last and smallest gun
"Ahhh, this gun is just right," she sighed.

But when confronted later by the angry bear, the tiny round only pissed it off, and the bear ate Goldilocks.

MORAL OF THE STORY, for primary self-defense, bigger is better.

(and bears who live on porridge are going to be hungry).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Well played

Now that's good marketing.

Bravo, Connecticut

The first state to ban civil asset forfeiture without a criminal conviction:
Civil forfeiture remains a controversial issue in America since it’s “a process by which the government can take and sell your property without ever convicting, or even charging, you with a crime.” The procedures are civil, which means defendants do not receive the same protections given to criminal defendants. 
Connecticut has put an end to this procedure when the legislature passed a law that bans civil forfeiture without a criminal conviction.
The bill passed in both houses of the Legislature without a single "no" vote.

[stands] [clap] [clap] [clap]

More like this, please.

It's time to get rid of Flash

Adobe's Flash is what first powered Internet video (like Youtube).  But it's old, bloated, and a favorite target of hackers.  Adobe has a critical security update for Flash available, but it's time for you to consider just disabling Flash entirely.

Security writer Brian Krebs did a "Month without Flash" a couple years back, and said it works:
In almost 30 days, I only ran into just two instances where I encountered a site hosting a video that I absolutely needed to watch and that required Flash (an instructional video for a home gym that I could find nowhere else, and a live-streamed legislative hearing). For these, I opted to cheat and load the content into a Flash-enabled browser inside of a Linux virtual machine I have running inside of VirtualBox. In hindsight, it probably would have been easier simply to temporarily re-enable Flash in Chrome, and then disable it again until the need arose.
Today almost all video is delivered in more modern (and more secure) methods, like HTML 5.

Disabling Flash on Chrome: Go to chrome://plugins/ and select Disable for Adobe Flash Player.

Disabling Flash on Internet Explorer:

  1. Click the Gear icon in the top righthand corner of the browser window
  2. Select Internet Options -> Programs -> Manage
  3. Select Shockwave Flash Client
  4. Select Disable
Disabling Flash on Firefox:
  1. Click on the Main Menu icon (the 3 stacked bars icon in the upper right corner)
  2. Click "Add Ons"
  3. Click "Plugins" from the left hand column
  4. Find the drop down menu next to Flash
  5. Select "Never Activate"
Disabling Flash on Safari:
  1. Click the "Safari" top menu (next to the Apple logo)
  2. Select Preferences -> Security -> Manage Website Settings
  3. Select Flash
  4. Click Block

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Boy, they really follow instructions

New Zealand: Center of Space Exploration?


I had no idea that there was so much launch activity going on there.  However, I can see the advantages of having a launch location in the middle of the ocean, where you can launch in pretty much any direction and still be over water for an emergency abort.

And the new rocket design sounds very interesting:
So a low cost 3D printed engine, big battery driving an electric high pressure pump, low pressure tank of kerosene at ambient temperature and one tank of cryo LOX. Wrapped and stacked. Then launch it. Maybe add a few R.Pi (power equivalent, hardened) boards for control and telemetry and a few electric actuators on control surfaces and you are “good to go”.
I think the era of cheap frequent access to space has finally started. In New Zealand… 

Former Spy Chief: Encryption Backdoors are a bad idea

This seems important:
Former GCHQ director Robert Hannigan has spoken out against building backdoors into end-to-end encryption (e2) schemes as a means to intercept communications by terrorists and other ne'er do wells. 
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has criticised mobile messaging services such as WhatsApp, that offer end-to-end encryption in the wake of recent terror outages, such as the Westminster Bridge attack, arguing that there should be no place for terrorists to hide. 
Hannigan, who led GCHQ between November 2014 and January 2017, struck a different tone in an interview with BBC Radio 4 flagship news programme Today on Monday morning, arguing there's no simple answer on the national security challenges posed by encryption.
GCHQ is the UK's NSA, so Mr. Hannigan is pretty well positioned to know what he's talking about.  It's an interesting story - Hannigan says that he started his tenure wanting to be able to break encryption and changed his mind after a year or so.

It' a little depressing that this keeps coming up.  The Spy agencies want their super secret backdoors so they can read anything, but promise that only they will ever have access.  It seems that they've learned nothing from the Snowden affair about the ability to keep high value secrets secret.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cats and dogs, living together

Microsoft finally confirmed that Hell has indeed frozen over – Ubuntu is at long last available from the Windows Store. 
Canonical's Linux distro is now available for installation on Windows Store on Insider build 16215 and higher. Windows 10 already supports Ubuntu via the Windows Subsystem for Linux, rolled out in the Creators Update earlier this year
Microsoft says the advantages of installing the Windows Store version of Ubuntu are more reliable and faster downloads as well as support for installing and running different distros side by side. For example, if you already have a legacy Ubuntu distro installed, your Windows Store downloaded version will run "alongside but isolated" from it.
I'm pretty sure that this is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Helpful cooking instructions

No need to thank me.  It's all part of running a full-service blog.

On Time - A Brigid Guest Post

When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered -

“Man.  Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.”

In the soft dirt of the front flowerb, the bold steps of the predator, some the almost openly meek meanderings of a creature not yet aware it was prey.  There are the sure steps of deer, another set of small fairy-like paw prints that simply end, perhaps with a shadow and a mouth set in the "O" of pain that bespoke owl.

If you look closely enough you will see the narrative variants of the cessation of life, a tuft of rabbit fur, blood speckled grass.  Further on, a scattering of feathers, the type designed for speed, intermingled with the downy innocence of plumage which had been designed for failed hiding, lying in a tiny crater of green

It seemed like only yesterday thatthis ground was covered with snow, animals hunkered down in the cold.  Now I walk on back to the house, darkness approaching before even dinner, a family dog, there at the door, the movement of her tail, a tick against the time she waited for me.

We've set our clocks back, we've stop saving our daylight. We'll stop saving time. My day here, late evening, lies under a blanket of night that began to thicken and bunch up about six, where just for a moment, light hovered in an orb over the pond, a UFO of brightness, that with a blink, vanished up into the heavens, leaving just black exhaust in its wake.

It comes back, in the early mornings, when the light creeps in too early when I still want to sleep, bringing with it the alarm of things to do.  Food to be prepped for family, dog to be walked, laundry to be done, phone calls to be made, Dad's doctors to talk to.
Winter was here, and now it is gone. Time passing much too quickly.  On the wall, an anniversary clock of Mom and Dad's ticks, the evening light only illuminating its face, so it appears to hang suspended in space. A ticking clock, holding in its hidden depths the regimented chaos of this world I've inherited, its ordered cadence, the sound that moves me onward at a dizzying speed into a future still unperceived.

Two hundred years ago, the days had their own slow cycle, full and round, curved as a woman's breast. No one could have imagined today's electronic dislocation, when on advent of the Industrial age, time was taken from us and slaved to a time clock. Time suddenly belonged to someone else. Time changed from that of a fellow worker to a disciplinarian, a nun's whack on the back of the hand, doctrinal and unyielding.

Off in the distance, I see a log train,  stopped, yet with that sense of imminent departure that trains just seem to possess.  People no longer traveled much by train, we went in cars, faster and faster, as roads got longer and days got shorter, driving to the market for our dinner, instead of walking the land in search of game. The game itself has moved further inward, as had we.

In the dimming light, I look through some photos. A lifetime in those photos, many of the people in them already gone. The photos lay there on the table now, expended laughter and corporeal touch; the spent ghosts of voluptuous movements and temporal hearts, captured in a moment of time. Pictures of my Mom and Dad. Pictures of my brother and I as youngsters, out with our pup tent behind the house. We'd sometimes "camp" out overnight, laying between the speaker sound of crickets, long after the lights in the house had gone dark.  We'd  trace the stars with the beam of our flashlight, not as a point in space, but a point in time, the pinnacle of childhood where morning and night and summer are one, the sleight of hand of fate and blood that would later shape us both, so far distant as to not be conceived.

Years, later, another tent, taking Dad to a duck Camp in Arkansas. My Dad was in his 70's, yet he took to the event like a young lad, a gun swinging by his side as we worked our way out into the woods. Walking through measures of wild land that remain as unchanged as it had been 200 years ago. Wilderness as he remembered it, tangled brush and clear sky, tremendous soarings of oak and ash, which knew no axe but the occasional hunter.

We were out all day, heading in, not by any clock, but by the rhythmic cadence of breath and the measure of bone and muscle. The dog was reluctant to come in, one more, one more!, he seemed to speak to us. But our stomachs signaled dinner and with a whistle we called him in, panting and trembling with the excitement of the day, up the bank, to unraised voice and gentle hand, seeking his pack.

Back to the camp, we settled to clean our birds and prepare our supper, hot coals lighting our work. Dad said grace to the communion of a small glass of whiskey and water, giving thanks for slightly burnt roast meat, a can of beans and some bread that once actually resembled bread, smashed flat in my backpack and tasting of the outdoors. It was the best meal we all could remember eating in a long time, tasting of our labor and tinged with the smoke of our wildness.

The dog settled into sleep by the dying fire, as in the darkness we prepared our bedding, underneath an ancient sky.  The world would slowly wind down, stars beginning to spin their stories in space, as we talked. We talked of the world and its beauty, its love, and its sin, where the words are our history, not others peoples words which are not their history but only the empty gaps of their days. My father told tales of hunting as a boy in Montana,as we lay quiet as a children, listening to bedtime stories that knew no age limit, looking up at the quiet belly of canvas, hearing not a clock, but only the measured breath of content as sleep brushed up the remaining crumbs of the day.

When was the last time you spent a day like that? With no clock, no schedule, just time with those that mean the most to you? Now, too often, we rush and we scurry and we do not take the time to stop and think of the times we gave up, the times spent rushing after something we didn't really want or something demanded of us, wasted minutes, wasted days.
Until suddenly, years have passed; the second hand poised in mid second as the phone rings. A call in the late hours of the night, as you ponder time, the number that of your family out far away. With a call at that time of the night, the moment comes to a complete stop. And in that instant, all you register is the sound of breath and heartbeat, the tone of the phone held away from your ear, outside, the rush of the wind, and the bark of your dog, awoken in another room. One bark, short and syncopated. Then a couple more. Then nothing. Simply the sound of your heart beating  as you get the news and go to call your brother.

It rings, you don't expect him to answer, he never picks up, not being a slave to either phone or computer now that he no longer works.  But this time he does.

You talk as if you always did as if nothing has changed but as you listen to him, you hear something else. The proverbial clock in your pocket,  and it's still ticking, slower, with a sound you never noticed before. Then with the moonlight reflecting off a tear that's forming, when you least expect it when the sound of emptiness is all you expect, you hear the bark again. Faint but insistent. The quiet sound of one who watches over you from a long distance. And you breathe in deep as that sound fills the world with bright articulate tone, dreaming of life slowed down, time ticking in your pocket. The time you both still have.

You can not take time back, like conjured memory. But you can look around and listen carefully to the slow precious ticks of what you have left. Take it and hold on to it, saving it til it's full and dense and strong, like a house around you. A structure that will shelter you and your heart, strengthened with mortar and wood, steel and love. For no matter what the change of clocks may bring, the stolen minutes of warmth, the hours of distance, the chime of mortality, you'll still have it, for you've saved it for just this day. Time measured out and savored, not as a future memory, but as now.