Republicans Are Crazy

6 May 2021

If you are a Trump-following Republican, you are an idiot.

I’m looking hard at the Sedition Caucus here: Lankford, Cole, Inhofe, Hern, Mullin, Lucas, and Bice.

Ignorance, rejection of fact, lies, rejection of science, and worst of all, repeatedly spitting on and violating the Constitution of the United States are the crimes here.

Some Justice for George Floyd

20 April 2021

We just listened to the verdict for the murderer of George Floyd.

I’m still saddened for him, and his family and friends. A murderer is going to jail, and that is fully justified. But George Floyd is still gone. And in the time since Floyd was murdered, any number of Black people have been killed, tasered, tear gassed, and terrorized for no reason.

We still have a problem with race in America. The problem is generally with White people. Those of us who are White are not all able to treat everyone equally. I don’t know how to fix that, except to keep showing that equality for all, and let the racists die off eventually.

Data Download Comparison

15 April 2021

My wife and I recently upgraded our phones, after many years. I have used a Samsung S6 since 2015, and I have been very happy with it. I’ve had a few problems starting to crop up, including a very annoying behavior where I would receive a call, and the phone would reboot as the call connected. Raegan had an S7 that was about a year younger than my phone, but she runs two online games simultaneously that absolutely sap the S7 CPU. The games also demand a great deal of storage.

I basically only looked at the Pixel 5 and the Samsung S21 devices, and quickly settled on the S21. Rather, S21 Ultra 5G. Rather, S21 Ultra 5G 256GB devices. Yep, we splurged just a bit. These phones have more memory than my company laptops hard drive. The cameras in these devices are Freaking Amazing. They are fast, the battery lasts a long time, beautiful displays. Also, according to AT&T, Oklahoma City is a 5G city (see note below). I was very interested in the data capabilities, so I did some download tests in different areas.

Here are the results:

Here’s what you are looking at. I tested my S2 tablet against the S21 in three environments.

First, I was in a hotel in Dallas, and I connected the tablet and the S21 to the hotel WiFi. I hit the AT&T speed test site (I’m an AT&T subscriber). Both devices clocked in at about 14Mbps. OK, so that is an as-expected test. The hotel WiFi was an 802g system, and the nearly identical times show that the two devices at a floor.

Next, I turned off WiFi on both. Still in Dallas. The tablet showed 4GLTE and the S21 5G, both max bars (I could see a cell tower a couple blocks away). I ran both through the speed test again. Quite a difference; the tablet showed about 36Mbps and the phone nearly 70Mbps.

Finally, a pair of tests in OKC. AT&T claims to have 5G in OKC, but I haven’t seen it anywhere in the area yet. So I ran the speed tests from my house; five bars of 4GLTE service. You can see that the S21 had about 4x the download speed.

One other test, that’s not on the graph. I connected both of the devices to my house WiFi. I have Gb capability with my house network end to end, connected to Cox as my ISP. We have 300Mbps service. The tablet managed to get 115Mbps, about 30% of the bandwidth available; while the S21 clocked in at 278Mbps. I attribute this to the WiFi router that I have in the house, which is an AC1200 unit; the S21 can talk that waveform, and the five+ year old tablet doesn’t.

In summary, the S21 is bitchin’ fast, especially on 5G.

A note on 5G. AT&T claims that all of Oklahoma City is 5G, per their coverage maps. I call BS. I haven’t seen 5G anywhere in the city, including downtown. Even in the DFW area, we had 5G coverage in some areas down there, but certainly not all.

Getting Out Of Afghanistan, FINALLY

14 April 2021

I’m glad that President Biden announced today that America is getting our troops out of Afghanistan after 20 years.

I think we went in there in the first place, based on a lie. We’ve lost almost as many service members there as were killed in the WTC attack. It’s not been a good trade. We’ve reportedly spent almost a billion dollars, and disrupted the lives of hundreds of thousands of service members families.

It’s their country; let them defend it. We have no strategic or tactical interest there.

COVID, Masks, and Fools

30 March 2021

COVID is spread by breathing. Anything that slows down or blocks exhalations will help reduce the spread. Masks work.

And yet there are so many fools that won’t use them. Elected officials who can’t act fast enough to eliminate mask mandates or crowding rules. Here in OKC there are two city council members who are trying to remove the mask mandate more than a month early, and the council in Edmond let theirs expire.

If you are an anti-masker, you are stupid.

Get your COVID vaccination, people. If you are an anti-vaxxer, you are a fool and a freeloader.

The Minimum Wage Is Not Enough

26 February 2021

I am not enough of an economist to know exactly what the minimum wage should be.

I do know that people who are working full time jobs should be paid enough to live on. By that, to afford housing, food, basic living needs like clothing, and sufficient transportation to get around. I don’t have a problem with people who are working professional jobs like engineering or doctors being paid a higher wage than the person who is a server at a restaurant.

All people should know what their “means” are, and should be expected to live within them. A person who works at Wal Mart as a stocker does not deserve a 4000 sq foot house, but should be able to not only afford an apartment or rent house, but should have enough to be able to go to a movie or go bowling, or similar recreation. Those folks also deserve the ability to be able to save some to enable them to work towards that house.

Republicans generally howl that raising the minimum wage would cost xx number of jobs at small businesses, and for all I know that may be true. But what they never talk about is how that higher wage will be paid out by people who are able to afford more stuff, which means more business, which means more hiring, which means more employment. It may be that some of the cash that’s sitting in business bank accounts now will be reduced, but I don’t think that’s a huge impact. It may be that some CEOs who make 100 times what their workers make may have to scrape by on 50 times what their employees make, and that’s OK too.

The main culprit here is “trickle-down”, which is a national-level fraud. Reverse it, and increase the minimum wage to something livable, and the United States as a whole will be a better country for it. The rising tide will lift the life-boats of every one of the workers who have minimum wage, and provide increased opportunity for all workers, which is what this country is all about.

Trump Is Guilty, and Was The First Time As Well

15 February 2021

A majority of the Senate voted to convict, which was proper. Trump was clearly guilty of the incitement. He is not only the worst President ever, he is also likely the only President to actually incite an insurrection in this country. Why anyone could support him is beyond my understanding; what the hell is wrong with those people? For something is wrong with them, in their denial of facts.

The Sedition Caucus deserves to be removed from office. Bice, Hern, Cole, Mullin, Lucas, Inhoff, and Lankford will go down in history as supporters and enablers of a white supremacist worse than a Confederate. They are the worst of America, because they support the worst of America.

Republicans and False Equivalence, AGAIN

24 January 2021

This morning, on ABCs This Week program, we had a good example of just why the Republican Party needs to be completely burned down.

Chris Christie, who cannot decide whether he is an American or a Republican, tried very, very hard to compare the insurrectionist attack on the US Capitol with BLM protests over the summer. Yes, he said, the insurrectionists were not right, but he spent far, far more time talking about “cities and neighborhoods” being destroyed, and why, he wondered, didn’t Democrats condemn that.

First, every major Democrat figure and organization I know decried that violence. So, Mr. Christie, BULLSHIT on your claim. Also, not a single neighborhood, or a city, was destroyed in the protests. Yes, there were damaged and destroyed buildings, and the odd Confederate monument. But in the spirit of Republicanism, which based on lies, you just have to equate a building with an entire city. Facts matter, fella.

Let’s also talk about the various BLM protests with stats that really matter: lives. Only right-wing people killed others during the protests. The kid with the long rifle that murdered and shot people? The white supremacist that ran over and killed a person? I guess that property is more important that people to you, Christie, and to Republicans like you.

And let’s look at the reason for the protests. On the one hand, you have protests against police violence against people of color (and against people, in general). On the other hand, you had a mod whipped up by a President based on the biggest lie in modern times, attack the seat of our democratic legislative branch, and assault and kill the police officers guarding the place.

So no, there’s zero equivalence between the BLM protests and the attack on the Capitol. Trump is impeached for this, deservedly so, and he deserves to be convicted regardless of whether he is in office or not, because the crime took place while he was in office, and even corrupt Presidents deserve accountability.

Congratulations, President Biden

20 January 2021

And congratulations to Vice President Harris.

I am very proud of our country for the second time in a couple months. The elections, first, and the inauguration, second.

Biden gave a speech outlining some of the challenges we face as a country. I was especially struck by the line that we must make friends of our enemies. I’m already down with that, but I’m concerned as always that even though we can reach out, it takes two to dialog. We are also hamstrung by having a large part of the country who cannot accept basic facts.

Regardless, America has once again accomplished a peaceful transfer of power, both in the Executive and Legislative branches, despite an attempt to violently stop the process by Trump supporters. I hope the country can now find common ground to move forward, in particular in getting the coronavirus under control.

A Truth Divide in the USA

8 January 2021

It’s clear that there is a huge difference of opinion in the United States. The liberal and conservative wings. To be up front, I largely am liberal.

That being said, there’s also a huge divide in the country that mostly overlaps the liberal/conservative divide: what is Truth?

An online definition that works for me:

Truth is that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.

A useful and recent example is the election results, but that is necessarily a more complex example. 50 states ran independent elections. The 50 states used a variety of voting methods, some electronic, some paper, some a combination of paper and electronic. Each of the states had various controls in place to ensure fairness. Some states have Republicans that control the voting process completely, some states have Democrats that control the voting process completely, and some states have a mixture. I believe that the actual running of the elections in each state required that poll workers be split between the political parties, and that access to voting ballots and machines be restricted such that one party can’t access ballots or machines without having people from the other parties present. This extends to testing the machines before the election, and auditing machines after the voting as concluded. Voters are verified by ID or signature to help ensure that one ballot is voted for each voter. And to repeat, this is 50 groups of people spread out all over the country. It’s simply not reasonable that there could be a conspiracy that large. As such, it’s not reasonable to expect that fraud in such a large, decentralized system of systems to be undetectable (1).

So, given all that, it’s reasonable to accept that the 2020 election results are valid and that Joe Biden was in fact elected President of the United States, and was elected handily both in the Electoral College and the popular vote.

But here’s the rub: Many, many people do NOT accept the results of the vote. Starting with President Trump, who has a legal team that came up with a number of complaints in states that Trump lost. Those complaints have been examined by a reported number of more than 50 courts, each of which has rejected every single complaint that was characterized as voter fraud (although a couple courts determined that the people filing the lawsuit didn’t have standing to file in the first place).

And yet Trump, who is a documented serial liar, continues to claim, without presenting a single piece of accepted, actual evidence, that he won several states that were in fact won by Biden. I can understand one guy with a lot to lose spewing untrue things. I can even understand Trumps political allies echoing his BS so that they can keep his favor. But that is a couple people only. Trump is probably in a position to know that fraud hasn’t in fact occurred, since he has political operatives in each of the 50 states.

But his followers only have his word for it that there was a stolen election. On the other hand, they have the words of each of the 50 state elections agencies saying that their election was free and fair, some of those agencies are run by Republicans and some by Democrats.

And yet, vast majorities of Trump supporters believe him over any objective examination of the facts. There are many other examples of this. The supposed Benghazi incident, which was investigated to death by Republicans who found no wrongdoing, is still widely accepted by Republicans as an indictment of Hillary Clinton. The fact of Trump suborning election help from Ukraine, the fact of the effects of COVID-19 on the United States, and similar big, big lies, are believed by a large number of Republicans. The claim that BLM protests were run by antifa is yet another example. Democrats are socialists. His claims to his followers immediately before they trotted down the street to the Capitol yesterday are yet another. This stretches back several administrations. although Trump is the worst instigator, and includes many Republicans who have made it a point to exclude any political compromise with Democrats.

It is made worse by Republican leadership (I use that term loosely), who have disparaged media outlets other than Fox News for years, undermining one of our Constitutional institutions, while encouraging Fox News to spread the lies and misrepresentations of the Republicans.

And that is why it is difficult to even engage in political discussion with Republicans – many of them do not have a common frame of reference to discuss policy, when they cannot accept basic facts. I have friends who today questioned the results of the election, ranging from claims that the entire process was fraudulent (if it results in Biden winning), to claims that none of the votes have been verified or that fraud occurred but is not being prosecuted, or that they think fraud occurred and that investigations need to be done before Biden is seated (this is the argument the despicable Ted Cruz used).

I don’t know how you can convince a person of the truth of something like election results, or anything that is a related large-scale process. Part of the problem is that this cohort has been consistently lied to for at least 25 years, and part of that is that in addition to untruths, these people have been fed the line that liberals are unfit to hold office or participate in the political process (see “The Hastert Rule” for an example).

Republican leaders over the years bear a great deal of responsibility for this situation, and it may be that those leaders need to be disposed of and replaced by leaders that are able to speak truth. We may have to essentially write off many of them. The Republican Party that we have now is probably incapable of being “fixed”, and any replacement that may come along will take years to prove itself, so I am afraid we are stuck for some time.

I just hope that the crazed, fact-free mob that stormed the Capitol yesterday isn’t repeated, or worse.

(1) It should be noted that in many elections, fraud attempts have been detected and prosecuted. A case in NJ in 2016 resulted in the non-seating of a state representative, and re-voting. In the 2020 election, a number of cases of potential fraud have been noted, but for example, in Georgia, the general election had something like 50 potential cases of fraud, out of something like 5M votes cast, which yields an error rate of 0.001%, which could in no way affect the outcome of the race.

The Worst Day Since 9/11

7 January 2021

Of Trump’s 20,000+ lies, and his attacks on fundamental Constitutional value, the worst has to be his constant lies that the election process is fraudulent.

If you believe that the election is fraudulent, then you are deluded and a fool.

Even now, Trump is still encouraging the rioters who invaded the Capitol. The processes of the 25th Amendment must be invoked immediately and Trump removed from office.

This is the worst day in our country since 11 September 2001.

I’ve already seen people try to deflect the blame for this insurrection by claiming on no evidence that it was antifa, or some other group. People like Markwayne Mullin tried to deflect his responsibility by his repeating the baseless lies in an attempt to suck up to Trump (he should be ejected from Congress for inciting the riot).

Conservatism and the Republican Party are now a stain on the United States. The Party needs to die off soonest.

Trump Pardons War Criminals

23 December 2020

I’m surprised that I’m surprised that Trump pardoned the Blackwater murderers who committed a war crime in killing 14 civilians.

There’s apparently no low that he won’t stoop to.

Anyone who supports him, you really need to question your basic humanity.

Might Have To Politically Write Off Half The Country

16 December 2020

I’ve written before about both the increasing density of lies promulgated by the Republican Party. Trump had logged 20,000 lies just by himself through October, and I gather that his pace just increased as the election neared, and then in the post election period (Google “false claims about who won the 2020 Presidential election). Trump was joined in this effort by most of the national Republican Party, to include most Republican US Senators and Representatives (I’m looking at you, Inhofe, Lankford, and most of the Oklahoma representatives (and I use that term loosely).

I’ve also written before about the tendency for Republican voters to believe those lies. I’m increasingly disturbed by the deepening incidence of those Republican voters to accept and repeat that firehose of horsecrap being spewed by the Republican Party.

Over the past couple days, I’ve seen a meme that talks about how the US Congress will in fact overturn the election. It starts like this:

From President Trump’s Lawyer Jenna Ellis… Today, the electoral college votes will be sealed and sent by special carrier to Washington where they will remain sealed until January 6th when the House and Senate will come into a joint session to open the votes. The media is going to make you believe that it’s all over and Joe Biden is now officially president…On January 6th, Nancy Pelosi will sit down with the rest of the House members as she has no special power or authority over the hearing… Vice President Mike Pence will have all the authority as president of the Senate for that day and will accept or reject motions to decide the next steps by the assembly.Remember… Mike Pence is in full authority that day as written in the Constitution. [meme goes on for a while, you can Google it if you want]

This particular meme confuses two situations. It mixes up what happens in the event of an Electoral College tie (which is laid out in the Constitution), and what happens when Congress is counting EC votes (which is laid out in the US Code). A number of people I know believe that the EC votes of several states will be challenged and thrown out, enabling Trump to get a majority of EC votes and thereby get re-elected. I doubt this will happen, BTW.

So some conservatives actually believe that the scenario described in the meme will happen, and the problem I see here is that (1) they don’t understand the Constitution or election law enough to know better, and (2) they don’t believe the facts when they are shown them.

This to me is indicative of the larger problem that half of the country has somewhere between zero and very little ability to perform a reasonable, dispassionate analysis of a moderately complex situation, even though that situation, being the election of the President of the United States, has serious, direct bearing on their everyday life.

This is made worse by the constant attacks on being factual by Trump and the Republicans, and the attacks on fundamental institutions of this country, to include the press (while actual purveyors of false news and information, Fox News, is hailed as truthful, along with wannabes like Newsmax and OAN).

I’ve long known that roughly half of the country is conservative to some degree. But what I am disturbed by is that it looks to me like most of that half of the country is also unable to tell the difference between fact and falsehood (or rather, rejects fact they do not agree with, and does not question falsehood they think is cool). Since most of those people are past school age, there is little that can be done to educate them, which would be how to critically examine things that are being told by Republican leaders and the conservative-leaning media.

I firmly believe that we are one America, and that in the process of adapting and moving forward we should expect to be lurching both to the left and to the right (metaphorically speaking). But that belief is based on the assumption that most of the people in the country are able to perform a valid critical assessment of other ideas, and that includes an acceptance of the idea that others (people and their political parties), being Americans, are qualified to run the country. Given the state of the Republican Party, I’m not sure they as a Party meet those criteria.

I’m afraid that we are two generations away, maybe three, to get these unthinking, easily lied-to people out of our politics. The Republican Party, especially as taken over by and embracing Trumpism, is not just “the opposition”, but actively dangerous to our country.

Ron DeSantis and His Stormtroopers Are Thugs

12 December 2020

So a researcher in Florida has been putting out analysis of the effects of COVID.

The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, sent in armed state thugs who did the preferred method of dictators everywhere, an armed raid on the house of the researcher.

The thugs, who are apparently supporters of “Only Blue Lives Matter, and Fuck The Rest of You”, pointed guns at the pre-teen kids of the researcher after not letting their mother be with them.

They stole all of her tech, and I would guess they intend to destroy the researchers data. DeSantis is a coward, and the state-armed thugs are stormtroopers (“just following orders”, I wouldn’t doubt).

He’s a Republican, of course, and a massive suck-up to Trump.

Playing With ADS-B

28 November 2020

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a radio system for airplanes to tell everyone around them where they are. I guess all airplanes in the US are required to use ADS-B when flying.

Several years ago, I borrowed a scanner and connected the audio output to my computers sound card, and wrote some Digital Signal Processing (DSP) code to convert the ADS-B tones to data and decode the information. It wasn’t very reliable, so I gave the scanner back.

I remained mildly interested. I’m an avid plane watcher, and if I see a four-engine jet overhead I usually pull out the binocs I carry in the car and try to identify the aircraft. I’ve seen E-4Bs and E-6Bs many times, and one of the VC-25s a couple times.

In my news feed a couple weeks ago, I saw an article from a guy who talked about using a Raspberry Pi to decode ADS-B. I thought I would be reading about a software-based approach, but no, this was using a radio USB stick and 1GHz antenna, with the USB stick doing the decoding and putting the data into the Pi.

The stick and antenna were $11 on Amazon. That’s all. I ordered them, they came in a couple days later, I broke out one of my Pi computers and set the whole thing up in about 40 minutes, including the time to download a Pi image from FlightAware (the stick maker).

It all set up nicely and seemed to work, but no flight data. I had other things to do so I didn’t look at it often, but the next day, I did some research and found that the antenna needed to be outside or right in a window. I moved the setup from the center of my den to the window, and less than a minute after powering up, I had airplane tracks.

It’s been about a week now, and I’ve seen some interesting stuff. An airplane took off from Will Rogers, flew to the SE of Tinker AFB, and flew about to racetracks, then flew NE of the base and flew about 20 tight circles. I speculate that the aircraft was evaluating or calibrating approach sensors.

I’ve noticed that most of the incessant E-3 traffic over the house (we live very near the centerline of the main runway at Tinker) doesn’t use ADS-B, or leaves the data blank. However, two E-3s I’ve seen had SNTRYxx names, and one of those flew all the way to the US/Canada border, the other to the US/Mexico borders, and then flew racetracks for several hours. I speculate they were doing border watch.

There is far more UPS and FedEx cargo traffic than I would have imagined. For example, right now at 2300 Central, there are a pair of planes, one from FedEx and one from UPS, over the OKC metro area. Both are coming out of PHX, and are almost parallel as they head to their respective hubs.

So this will be fun to play with. I’m not planning on sitting on the aircraft display 24/7, but if I’m sitting in the den watching TV or doing work from home I will likely have the display up on a secondary monitor.

A Sports Note

22 November 2020

I’m an alum of Oklahoma State. So is my wife, my son, and my daughter. OSU has superior programs in engineering, education, agriculture, and much more. They also have a huge sports program, and have many, many conference and national championships. I’ve enjoying watching a lot of OSU sporting evenings, including baseball, golf, tennis, and football.

The football program at OSU has a bazillion of Boone Pickens dollars, and has in fact bought a huge chunk of what was student housing to build a massive sports complex and practice fields.

But the point of this post: Mike Gundy should be fired and replaced with a coach that can deliver victory over teams like OU and Texas. He makes millions. He has the best facilities in the country. He has prime talent. But while it’s undoubtedly fun for fans to see 50 point victories over some juco, that investment in facilities and coaches is not worth it if you can’t even beat the Sooners.

So why is he still there? He’s had years, and maybe one conference championship, and limited victories over Top 10 opponents. No performance, no job.

Fire Gundy.

Deluded Republicans

18 November 2020

What causes an entire class of Republicans to stick their heads in the sand, or up their butts, in denial of election results.

I’m especially looking at you, “Senators” Lankford and Inhofe.

There is no evidence of fraud in the elections. Although the media seems to want to state over and over no “widespread” or “significant” fraud, there is NO fraud.

And the fool in the White House can’t look at reality, and lies constantly, and his Republican enablers just sit there with their thumbs up whatever orifice is most convenient for them, and ignore it, or spout stupid and unproven BS about election results.

It’s yet another sign that the Republican Party needs to be swept completely away.

Our Long National Nightmare…

9 November 2020

… may have a chance to be mitigated.

The election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is a wonderful start to getting our nation back onto a track that’s not, well, crazy. It’s not a panacea.

The good first. Kamala Harris is the brightest spot. She reflects the real America, as a woman of mixed ancestry. She is smart and decisive. I hope that Biden makes her into an effective co-President, since there is so much to do. Biden is also a deal-maker, and can build coalitions. I hope that some of the non-Trumpian people in the Senate will vote as Americans and not just Republicans,. and Biden still has friends there.

The bad. A huge amount of Americans were ok voting for a racist, bigoted, liar asshole. That’s really the worst thing I can think of. Biden has pledged to reach out to and represent these folks also. I hope they will accept that hand and bring ideas to the table.

The first thing that needs to be addressed, NOW! is COVID-19. It’s spiking all over the damn place. People will die who did not have to die. Biden will need to put into place some sort of guidance to bring the infection rate down, and work with Congress to get some economic package in place to minimize the economic impact to the nation. I know that getting COVID under control will impact the country economically, but we need to minimize the cost in lives as well. There’s supposed to be a vaccine coming, but who knows if it will be effective.

Biden must start getting our national economic policy changing course to ensure that wealth and opportunity circulate mainly among working people. His plan to increase taxes on people making more than $400K (which, I note for the record, affects exactly zero people I know) is a bare start. It’s only a start since even if he can get through Congress in 2021, I’m guessing it won’t take effect until 2022, and the impacts won’t start until 2023. He needs to ensure that everyone, to focus on black and brown Americans, have opportunity across the job spectrum. This will likely include changing the minimum wage to a living wage.

There’s a lot more, to include immigration, criminal justice, and other reform. Biden has laid out policies to address much of this, but I think they may need to go farther.

And as to our friends on the right, particularly in office, please put aside the Party-first blinder and get back to being Americans first. As John McCain said, we need to get back to what he called “regular order”, and I interpret that as being in a continuing evolution instead of a revolution. It may be slow most of the time, but a deliberate, thoughtful progress is that the country demands. Our changing demographics will force this over time, but we need to anticipate it and be prepared to adapt to it, instead of after-the-fact, or worse, fighting it.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 20.04

3 November 2020

I’ve been running Ubuntu as my main OS for many years. I completely dumped Windows with 14,04. I usually wait a bit after major releases to let them shake out a bit, and a couple days ago I decided it was time.

Over the weekend, I backup up my working directories. It was straightforward. The upgrade process was smooth. I had two instances where the installer halted the installation to ask me a question, so during that time I was away from the machine, and that added an hour+ to the time.

The machine rebooted. All of my data was still in place, and it looks like the apps that are important to me are still functioning.

There was one kind of buglet. I rely heavily on Google Calendar, and have hundreds of events and reminders. The machine started reminding me of stuff that had already been taken care of; hundreds of reminders popped up. I eventually found a Dismiss All and saved myself a lot of clicks.

I run Chrome as my browser. The 15ish tabs I had open when I started the upgrade restored immediately. Several sites (Facebook and Washington Post, so far) exhibit a weird behavior in that pictures that are inline with text will stretch out as they are scrolled by. If I stop the scroll and wait about five seconds, they might format correctly, and sometimes not. It’s not annoying enough to worry about now.

So far, it’s working fast and fine.

03 November 2020 update: A quick bit of research fixed my issue with Chrome. I turned off hardware acceleration, and all issues were resolved.

Open Message To A Scumbag

2 November 2020

This is to the person or persons who abandoned a house-broken, healthy but undernourished young pit bull.

You are a heartless, coward, scum of the earth.

Last evening, we went to run some errands, When coming back home, we drove down north Air Depot road between Hefner Road and 122nd here in Oklahoma City. At the most remote part of the road, there was this pup, sitting next to a sack of dog food that had a slit cut in the top. She was scared and shaking. She had been abandoned by whoever the scum was that abandoned her. She may have been pregnant recently. And you dropped her like trash. Well, fuck you.

We are giving her food and water, and most importantly, love and caring. This morning, she went right to the door, went out and did her business, and then came right back to the house. She’s still scared, and uncertain, and there’s not been a tail wag yet, but she’s accepting our help.

You, whoever abandoned her, are worthless.

I’m Voting For Joe Biden For President

21 October 2020

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog.

Joe Biden earned my vote by having thoughtful, reality-based policies. He is a decent, caring human being who has integrity and honesty. His policies address all Americans, and he will treat all people equally. He respects the Constitution, including freedom of the press, a critical part of our checks and balances. He will bring with him a team that will work to restore the executive branch to enable it to work to solve the issues we face now, including keeping our air and water, and the environment in general, clean and sustainable. His selection of Kamala Harris is a great start to that process. He will work fairly with people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and all of the people who make up this great country.

Is he perfect? No, of course not. There are some policies of his that I hope will move a little farther left. But he has a huge job ahead to repair the damage to the country that has been done by Republicans. Biden will not make common cause with the worst of the country, such as racists and white supremacists. Biden will support increasing access to voting for the entire country.

He will listen. He will not exhibit boorish behavior, and will be a steady representative of the United States to the rest of the world. He will work to re-establish the trust that we have lost from our foreign allies. He will work with Congress, and will protect Americans access to health insurance, and therefore, health care. Science will be a factor in policy.

We’ve a long ways to go to get back to where we need to be. COVID-19 will be a major impact on that. and the damage caused to our fundamental institutions from the past four years. But Joe Biden is the best choice for getting us there; he’s the best choice for America.

Right-Wing Disturbed, Again

9 October 2020

I listened to a report by Katie Tur on MSNBC a bit ago. She headed over to Staten Island, NY, and talked to a number of people who were Republicans about “issues” and what they believed. All of the people who were interviewed denied that COVID was an issue, masks were infringements on their civil rights, Biden was a puppet of [Pelosi | Democrats | Clintons | etc|, etc.

I would have been interested for Ms. Tur’s report to address how many people they interviewed for the report.

But, those attitudes reflect what I see in posts by people I know who are conservative. I’ve addressed this in previous posts, but it’s still a problem.

Just the past couple days, I’ve seen people state as fact that Kamala Harris had more talking time than Pence, that Biden wore a receiver to get answers fed to him, that Democrats support open borders, all protesters are burning down entire cities, masks cause COVID (or other dread disease), and dozens of other things that have zero basis in fact.

We have a significant number of people in this country who will believe just about anything, if the alleged thing is pointed at Democrats (or the ever-popular “liberals”).

We clearly have a problem with needing a large number of people requiring an upgrade to their critical thinking skills.

Right-Wing Crazy, Again

8 October 2020

I’m beyond astounded at the news that some right-wing “militias” were planning to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Whitmer. This is the type of Tim McVeigh plot that has no place here in the United States.

I lay the blame squarely on Trump and the Republicans. They have been preaching total horsecrap for years, and easily led “conservative” acolytes have eaten it up with no questioning of the veracity of what is being put out.

Hooray for the FBI for finding out about some these activities and then starting an investigation that lead to the plotters being arrested.

Some of these crazies got their precious little gunz, did some camo cosplay, and stormed the Michigan state capitol a month or so back. One of their primary complaints was that they were being required to wear a mask due to COVID, and somehow, in their addled little half-brains, their rights were being violated.

Those people were disturbed at best.

VP Debate, and the SCOTUS

8 October 2020

The VP debate last night was, to me, a draw. First, Pence modeled Trump in completely flouting the rules regarding time limits, and talking over Harris and the moderator. Boorish, classless behavior, but I wouldn’t expect anything more from Pence.

Harris missed a lot of opportunities. On the question of succession, I think a good answer would have been “Yes, we have, and we will follow the Constitution, unlike the clowns in there right now”, or something to that effect.

Regardless, I don’t know that it will move the needle much, and that’s OK. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will sweep the infection in the White House out in November.

Presidential Debate #1

1 October 2020

Donald Trump is an asshole.

He demonstrated yet again precisely why he is unfit to hold any office, much less that of POTUS. I just looked back over my recent posts, and Trump hit the liar, racist, contempt, and infantile topics, repeatedly.

Yesterday, he claimed not to know who the “Proud Boys” are. I’m certain that’s BS.

The worst thing in all this, so far, is his failure to denounce the racist white supremacists who are in the United States. I posted about this on FB, and had some friends say that yes, he had denounced white supremacists back in 2017, wasn’t that enough?

I disagree with that. All true Americans would denounce white supremacists at every opportunity. Be clear about it! Trump wouldn’t at the debate, and he wouldn’t yesterday when asked twice by the media. He wants votes from racists, so he is a racist.

His constant interruptions were his plan to look strong and decisive, I guess. He is actually worthless and weak.

Leatherman Tool Replacement

28 September 2020

Something like 20 years ago, I had lost my most recent Swiss Army Knife somehow. My kids bought me a Leatherman Wave multi-tool. At first, I was a bit annoyed at the need to carry the Wave in a belt holder, instead of carrying a pocket knife. But as time moved along, I grew to be used to doing the belt clip thing as I loaded up my pockets to go out the door, or before I went out to the garage to work on something.

The Wave was an amazingly useful tool. I used it at least once or twice a day. Either cutting something open, sawing small wood on a campout, unscrewing something or screwing it in tighter. And as time passed, I did stuff with it that resulting in breaking things. The last straw was having the main part of the cutting blade break off (after losing the tip of the same blade about three years ago). The only blade in the tool was the file.

Now, all of the damage was my fault. I misused the tool, got away with it most of the time, but occasionally not. The missing main blade tip was caused when I was attempting to open a locked classroom at St. John’s a couple years ago, and I was too lazy to walk back upstairs and get the key I had forgotten.

So I was at the point a couple weeks ago where I needed the Wave repaired. I got on the Leatherman site, read the warranty, printed the form, and then mailed it off to Oregon with a letter stating that I had broken the tool parts off in every case by misuse, and I was more than willing to pay for the repair.

I had zero comm from Leatherman for about four days. Then, I got an email that said they had received the tool, and an hour later I got an email that said my warranty repair was on the way. Three days after that, an envelope arrived, with a brand-new Leatherman Wave PLUS. No charge, even though I had broken the tool due to misuse.

So I’m a Leatherman customer for life now. Those are on my gift list for fellow tool-using friends, and if I ever buy another one for me.

Thanks to the Leatherman company. Highly recommended.

A Huge Reason To Vote Every Republican Out

21 September 2020

(1) Mitch McConnell straight-up stole the SCOTUS nomination that was for President Obama. He took a dump on the Constitution, just for Republican political power. He said that since an election was underway, the next President should have the pick.

(2) McConnell now says that since an election is underway, FUCK YOU AMERICA, and he wants to give Trump the pick.

Democrats and independents, this is what lawless facism looks like. Vote the entire Republican Party out at every level. Multiple Republican Senators in 2016 said that they would support passing the pick to the next President was fair and would be done even if was a Republican in office (only one, to my knowledge, still says that).

The Republican Party has no honor, is lawless, and spits on the United States Constitution.

I say, remove the filibuster, and pack the damn SCOTUS to at least bring it back into the balance from 2016. Impeach Gorsuch since his elevation to the court was not legal per the Constitution.

I’m to the point of SCREW THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Toss them, and let some other sane party come in to replace them!

Yet Another Reason To Vote Trump Out: Attacks on Media

18 September 2020

Trump: the press is “truly the enemy of the people”, Apr 5, 2019, and other times.

Wikipedia link to various uses of “enemy of the people”.

Note from the Wikipedia article the fine company Trump is in: Nazi German, the USSR, China.

The attacks by Trump on media serve a couple purposes for him. His easily duped and led followers grunt out “hell yeahs”. because they don’t much like facts any more than Trump does, and the media generally reports facts. He wants to cause the easily fooled followers to not believe facts.

The worst problem is that the media (which has expanded from the literal press of the newspaper or flier to include video and internet-based sources) is enshrined in the United States Constitution, and is as important as individual free speech and guns.

And yet Trump seeks to undermine it. I’m pretty sure that low-information and low-fact supporters of his choose to not believe facts as reported, and for reasons unknown turn to politically based falsehoods, or weird conspiracies, instead.

Sure, there is media that is fact-averse. Think Rush Limbaugh, or most of Fox News. They are the outliers in fact.

So this attack on the fundamental, Constitutionally protected function by Trump and his butt-kissing acolytes is a great reason to not vote for him, or for that matter, any of his political supporters.

Biden and Science, Redux

16 September 2020

I addressed this in a recent post, but it bears repeating.

Joe Biden deserves our vote because he is not willing to risk the lives of people just to rush a COVID-19 vaccine to market. Trump does not deserve our vote, because he is willing and has shown that he is not just willing, but IS risking lives.

Trump wanted to rush Hydroxychloroquine use for people as a supposed cure for COVID. And he wanted to inject UV light into people, and he wanted people to drink or inject bleach. He says the virus will just go away. None of this is true. TRUMP IS ANTI-SCIENCE.

Biden said exactly what needs to be said, and I think he is sincere: “I trust vaccines, and I trust science”. He knows that Trump has corrupted and polluted the vaccine approval process, which is meant to ensure that vaccines (and other medicines) are safe and effective. He has called for a panel of independent scientists to review any vaccine approval by NIH/CDC. He called for total transparency.

That’s what a real, caring, and truthful POTUS would do. Vote Biden for President.

No, We Don’t Hate Our Country

15 September 2020

James Inhofe is a harmful snake. He claims that progressives are not Oklahomans, and by extension, Americans. Given that he spit on the Constitution (along with Lankford) by giving Trump a pass for clearly impeachable acts, well, screw him.

So, just for sake of speaking truth:

We want equal rights for all people. That does not mean we hate the United States. We want the country to live up to the ideals of the entire Constitution.

We want economic opportunity for all people. That does not mean we hate capitalism, it just needs to be tuned to spread money around.

We do not want religion driving the country. People can be religious in any way they want, but we want all people to choose how, or if, they worship. That does not mean we hate any deity. It is usually needed to remind everyone that the Constitution of the United States is in fact a secular document, and that our law is based on secular principles.

I could go on in this vein for a while. But the bottom line is that it’s simpleminded to fall back on “you hate [whatever]” just because it happens to be something you believe in.

Equality for all, dammit.

Another Reason to Vote Trump Out: Rid Ourselves of Infantilism

15 September 2020

Trump is the worst lowbrow we’ve ever had in office.

“They have some sleazebag reporter from a third-rate magazine…”; “Sleepy Joe”; “Loser”

These are just a small part of the schoolchild-level “discourse” of Donald Trump. He likes to use the word “disgrace” a lot for other people, but he’s the disgraceful one.

No one who stoops to the level of a six-year-old is deserving to be President of the United States. Vote him out, and restore some intelligence to the office.

Another Reason To Elect Biden: Clean Energy

15 September 2020

Republicans are stuck in fossil fuels, like, well, dinosaurs stuck in tar pits.

The country needs to move ahead on wind and solar, which are much cleaner than oil or coal, and are renewable.

Biden will encourage training to get people employed making and servicing clean energy equipment. It’s good for the country, and good for people.

Another Reason To Vote Republicans Out: Citizens United

13 September 2020

“Corporations are people, my friend.”: Mitt Romney.

“No, they are not, you doofus.”: Bill Hensley

Republicans by and large support moving huge amounts of wealth to companies, which then distribute part of that to wealthy people. The Citizens United SCOTUS decision was meant to ensure that keeps happening in perpetuity.

But this miscarriage of law can be corrected by the United States Congress. The Republican Party will never let it happen. Toss them out, give the majority to the Democrats, and let them fix the problem. It will still take years to correct overall.

But one thing that will be corrected immediately: the spending of huge amounts of money for what are overall false political advertising during election campaigns. These supposed super-PACs will immediately cease to exist. It will fall to humans to make ads, and to be accountable for those ads, and we will know who is funding those ads. Keeping our elections clean from secret money is a good thing.

Another Reason to Elect Biden and Democrats: Voting Rights

11 September 2020

This one is simple. Joe Biden and the Democrats will not impede voting.

They will work to restore the Voting Rights Act (gutted by Republicans), they will challenge racial restrictions to voting, they will work to mitigate foreign attacks on our voting infrastructure.

Voting is our fundamental way to manage our country. Everyone should have the opportunity, and everyone should take advantage. No political party should oppose getting more of the country to the polls, period.

Booing At The KC-Texans Game Last Night

11 September 2020

Last night, the NFL season kicked off (see what I did there? 🙂 ).

Kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality (or, remaining in the locker room during the anthem) is still being bitched about by so-called conservatives who would just rather look the other way instead of doing something about that problem.

Last night, the two teams linked arms at midfield before kickoff in a show of solidarity. Good for them, I approve, it’s a simple way to show they care.

But fans in the stands booed. Apparently, standing in solidarity is also disapproved of. Too bad the small-minded fans couldn’t stand that small thing.

Open Message to Jim Inhofe: You’re Not An Oklahoman

11 September 2020

James Inhofe is running a campaign ad here. It’s pure symbolism and part insult.

Inhofe, you’re a conservative first, and an American and Oklahoman way, way down the list. So I hope you get tossed in the election.

Your campaign ad says that progressives and liberals are not Oklahomans. Well, for your information, Inhofe, we are every bit true Oklahomans, even if YOU decide not to represent us. I know you don’t give a damn about trying to help the country deal with the many problems we have, including the economy, COVID, and race relations. You and your buddy Lankford even helped Trump take a crap right on the Constitution. He broke the highest law we have, laughed about it, and you let him get away with it. So don’t try to tell us who are true Americans and Oklahomans.

Trump likes to use the term disgrace as lot. It truly applies to you. I hope you get your safe seat voted right out from under you. You haven’t deserved the privilege to represent this state in years.

Another Reason to Not Elect Trump, Or Republicans: Contempt for Ordinary People

10 September 2020

The Coronavirus situation obviously caused a lot of impact, in particular with income earners not being able to work in a lot of cases.

It must be noted that the lack of savings that would have allowed most people to weather this storm is a direct result of Republican trickle-down policies that were enacted in the 80s, that sucked wealth out of the majority of the country to the super rich.

Back to the subject of this post. The Congress came up with a stimulus to help the country through the situation. I do not know the full scope of where the money went, some went to people, some to corporations.

But here’s what Republicans really think about ordinary citizens. I have personally seen video of three people, Mitch McConnell, James Inhofe, and Kevin Stitt, saying that the benefits of extra unemployment insurance provided by the stimulus package was TOO MUCH, because it incentivized people to not work! Note that no second bill has been passed since March, while the country has suffered.

Democrats in the House passed a second bill in April. It sat in the Senate as McConnell blocked it from even being considered. The Senate refused to pass a bill and then go to conference committee with House, as McConnell was too much of a coward to even try.

But the utter contempt of Republicans for ordinary Americans is sickening. They do not deserve to be in power anywhere in the country.

Vote them out in a blue tsunami. Consign this corrupt party to the dustbin.

Repairing The Country After Trump

9 September 2020

I sincerely hope that Trump is removed from office in this election.

If he is, there are a number of things that we are going to have to do to repair the damage to the country.  Some are going to take a long time.

First, COVID-19. The patchwork approach has to go.  We need some sort of consistent response.  It may require removal of “leaders” like Stitt here in Oklahoma that apparently do not even acknowledge that COVID is a problem.  Maybe universal masking is a good start.

Repairing trust in government is another.  Trump put in place government managers that by and large were unqualified at best, and hostile to the mission of their agencies at worst.  Maybe government is too big in some ways, and maybe there is some regulatory over-reach.  That’s a conversation to have.  But the people in charge at the various agencies MUST be qualified in the mission areas of the agency.

Impeach and remove Neil Gorsuch.  He’s probably a nice guy, but the seat he occupies was a Democrat seat to appoint, and Mitch McConnell not only spit on Constitution by stealing that appointment from Obama, he took a political shit on the document.  Impeach Gorsuch and give Biden the appointment to get things back to balance.

Enhance the Affordable Care Act.  Health insurance should be available to EVERY PERSON in the country that wants to have it.

Condemn all white supremacist organizations.  This one should be easy.  There are far too many people in the country who apparently believe that people of color are not the full equal of anyone else in the country.  I don’t know of any magic bullet or incantation that can make a person (especially an adult) to not be racist. It may be that they just have to die off, and hopefully not pass along that characteristic to their kids.

This one is the most difficult.  We have to restructure the national economy to eliminate every trace of trickle-down.  Most of the money that is paid must be allowed to circulate between ordinary people instead of being redirected to the top couple percent. This is a multi-decade problem that will take multiple decades to fix.  The majority of wealth should be held in the middle of the population.

There are other things that need to be done, but that’s enough for several years of work.

Another Reason to Elect Biden: Health Insurance

9 September 2020
Joe Biden was one of the reasons that Obamacare was passed in the first place. To quote him at the time: “It’s a big f*cking deal!”. And it was. Biden will at the very least protect what’s left of Obamacare after years of Republican predation on it. Hopefully, he will be able to expand it and maintain protections for people with pre-existing conditions, who suffer at the hands of uncaring health insurance companies. Trump and the Republicans are still going to court to try and eviscerate and kill Obamacare, that’s reason enough to not vote for any of them.

Another Reason to Not Elect Trump: He’s a LIAR

8 September 2020

The easy thing here is to point out that Trump is over 20,000 verifiable lies.

No person who is such a prolific liar is qualified to be President of the United States.

Enough said. If you can’t trust what the President says, he doesn’t deserve to be in office.

If you are going to vote for Trump, but he’s a serial liar, what does that say about you?

One Reason To Elect Biden: Science

4 September 2020

Republicans have been at war with actual science for years. Climate change, environmental protections, and the COVID-19 crises are examples of Republicans denigrating science and scientists.

Joe Biden got my vote with one statement: He will rely on science and scientists to craft a response to COVID. Mask mandates and similar policies that are documented as to being effective to reduce the spread of disease will be implemented.

More importantly, Biden will sweep out the sycophants that Trump has installed in places like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental PROTECTION Agency (emphasis mine). This will be needed to start rebuilding the trust of the public in those and other agencies.

Make America Science Again, instead of being stupid.

One Reason To Remove Trump: He’s a Racist

1 September 2020

If you voted for Trump in 2016, you might be forgiven because somehow you thought he was not a white supremacist racist.

But, if you vote for him again in 2020, you are knowingly voting for a white supremacist racist.

So, what are you?

You may claim you are not a racist.  But you are OK with voting for one?

Trump has NEVER condemned racists and their behavior.  When asked directly, he said he didn’t know who David Duke was, and he would not say that he didn’t want the votes of Duke and other white supremacists.

TRUMP IS EITHER A MORON OR A WHITE SUPREMACIST.

My thought is, he’s both.  He’s completely unfit to lead this great nation, which will be greater when every single person in this country has the same rights and opportunities.

And if you vote for him, what are you?

Protests and Pro Sports and Ultra-Sensitivity

18 August 2020

Here in Oklahoma, former OU and current NFL quarterback Baker Mayfield is very popular, until, maybe, now.

Mayfield announced that he was planning on protesting police violence against our Black community by taking a knee during the national anthem before games.

Before anybody makes a fool of themselves, the protest of taking a knee during the anthem is not disrespectful of the military.  That was ginned up by people who want to ignore the problem of unequal treatment of people of color by police, who unfortunately get away with murder too often.

So the announcement by Mayfield generated a lot of comments on Facebook and local news outlets.  Most of the comments were along the lines of “well, I was a fan of pro sports, but now I’m not”.

So…  pro athletes of all ancestries want to protest unequal treatment of black and brown people.  They kneel during the minute or so of the anthem, then play, say, a football game that goes three hours plus.  That 0.5% of time causes these objectors to miss the entire game, or rather an entire sport.

Now, I like to watch a good, close, exciting football game.  I’m not a fan of any one player or team.  Same for baseball.  The players are black, brown, white, religious, atheist, left, right, etc.  None of that seems to matter to these anti-take-a-knee types.

If you just do not like seeing people protest, but the reason for the protest does not bother you, then you are part of the problem of bad race relations in the United States.  You have to give a damn about other people, in particular the ones who do not present the same pigmentation as you, and harrumphing about the protesters taking a knee just shows your lack of caring about how our fellow humans are treated.

Why should we have to tell you that you need to care about others?

Biden-Harris 2020. !

13 August 2020

Nope, the exclamation point in the title is on purpose.

One of my top choices for President was Kamala Harris.  I also like Joe Biden.  Most of the Democrats who were running for President would be better than Trump.

So I was happy when Biden said that he would choose a woman as VP.  I thought that Harris would be the best choice, and so I’m glad that he selected her.  I think they make a nicely balanced ticket.  Harris is smart, and has worked in some form of public service for most of her life.  She has integrity, and she will be honest (a quality sorely lacking with the entire Trump administration and most of the Republicans in Congress).

Our government should reflect the population as a whole.  There is no reason why a woman could not be President.

I wish the Biden-Harris ticket is victorious, in a landslide sort of way.  Then they can start repairing the damage to the country caused by Trump and Republican enablers and toadies.

Trump Is Deranged

15 July 2020

Vote BLUE all the way up and down ballot this election cycle.

We need a BLUE tsunami to wash away the filth of Trump and his Republican suckups.

I’m looking at Lankford, Inhoff, and McConnell especially.

Good Movement on Confederate Monuments

11 June 2020

One (of many) good offshoots of Black Lives Matter is some action being taken on various monuments to the sick, violent, racist, traitorous Confederacy.  Various displays of the so-called battle flag, and numerous statues and other monuments have been in place far too long.  There’s nothing about “heritage” to these monuments, their only purpose is to shoot the finger at the Constitution and, in particular, our black sisters and brothers, fellow citizens who deserve completely equal rights and privileges of being citizens.

In some cases, political action is being taken.  In others, more direct action is being taken to physically take them down.  Regardless to how they come down, they need to stay down.  I do not buy the argument that the statues and such serve some sort of educational purpose.  Amazingly enough, the actions of the traitors in the Civil War are documented in books and museums.  A 40 ft tall statue of Lee provides zero education value.

There may eventually be some movement to get US military installations that are named for traitors renamed.  Meghan McCain, on The View this morning, noted that in Arizona, offensively named buildings were renamed for actual heroes.  I would be perfectly OK with renaming those bases to honor actual military heroes.

There has been some extension of these efforts to remove statues that I find sad.  At least one statue of Sir Robert Baden Powell was taken down (in England, I believe) because of his homophobic views and his support for Hitler.  Chris Columbus has also been affected, with several statues damaged or taken down.

I’ve stated before, slavery is the worst thing that America has done.  The Confederacy was founded to support slavery, and there was no honor in that action.  There should be no honor for the traitors exhibited now, and that includes statues, or having military bases named for them.

Defunding or Restructuring Police?

8 June 2020

I’ve read several articles about a couple cities that are thinking about taking police departments apart.  While several of the articles howl “Too radical” or “Just not possible”, I think that it’s possible that significant reform can be accomplished without getting too radical.

We have to look at policing process first.  What exactly are police to do, and how do they do it?  It would be simple-minded to just say that police write tickets, patrol around, and eat donuts.  I do not claim to know everything about policing.  I have noted in the past that there seem to be more and more police around.  Here in Oklahoma County, something like 95% of the country landmass is within some city limits, and yet there is a huge sheriff patrol that helps run the city/county jail, but they also patrol the interstates (along with the city cops and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol), and they roam around the city, and there are a lot of Oklahoma City, Edmond, Warr Acres, Midwest City, etc. police as well.

Do police prevent crime?  My initial guess would be no, for the most part.  There are a lot of police, but they are not on every corner.  Porch pirates are a good example of thieves that seem to be rarely caught, even with video doorbell and similar evidence. I reported a theft of a phone and tablet at St. John’s, gave the police the name and a photograph of the criminal, and nothing was done about it.  No police even came to the building to take the report, it was done over the phone.

Police do a lot of traffic accident work, although I think they are only required to respond to injury accidents (I may be wrong about that). They write tickets for speeders and other traffic infractions, which seem to raise a hell of a lot of revenue as the tickets are very expensive.  For the record, that’s not a direct complaint about a ticket I’ve received, but I’ve seen a recent ticket that was over $200 for a fender bender.  They have very expensive motorcycles that I’ve never seen anywhere but the interstates, and occasionally at public events.

Police are very militarized; I know I don’t like that.  At one of the protests last week, a “thrown object” caused a line of armored and armed police to fire on the crowd with shotguns and tear gas.  The shotguns were supposedly firing non-lethal ammo, but it bothered me that there was video of police firing their shotguns at the backs of retreating protesters.

Police kill a lot of people, the last stats I have looked at showed something like a 10+ to 1 kill ratio.  They do kill black and brown people at a higher rate also (see “Black Lives Matter”).

Police enforce insurance rules for the insurance companies. They also do a lot of anti-drug work. I personally know of exactly one example of a drug maker, he burned my Mom’s house partially down, and he did not go to jail for it, even though he had multiple felonies stretching back years.  Just for the record, he was white. The DA told me that he was going to ensure the guy went to prison for 20 years, and in the end, he got probation.  No restitution, either.

The anti-drug work the police do seem to lead to a lot of no-knock door takedowns, and innocent people get property destroyed, or worse, they get shot and killed (see Breonna Taylor). There seems to be very little accountability for police in cases like this.  Homes get ransacked and property damage done by police, but the police departments and cities involved do not pay to repair the damage they cause.  Things and money that are taken also seem to be held as well even if there are no charges filed or a conviction obtained (this just seems ripe for corruption).

Not just the anti-drug work, but police interactions kill a lot of people when it seems that there was little risk to the officers involved.  One that really bothers me is Tamir Rice, who was killed by cops that came screaming into the playground he was at, and shot dead seconds later.  There was ZERO reason for the police to come screaming up and just start shooting.  Too many victims are shot in the back by police.  One guy (see Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams) were killed by hundreds of shots (they were unarmed), including point-blank shots through their windshield at close range by a cop who had jump on the hood of their car.  He later claimed he “feared for his life”, which sounds like so much horseshit to me.

So there are investigative things done by police.  Occasionally (including here in OKC), there have been corrupt forensics people.  Several reports nationwide recently have addressed police falsehoods in search warrants and affidavits.

I’ve personally watched videos where police straight-up lie to people they are trying to intimidate.  I’ve seen videos recently showing (again) heavily armored and armed police committing what are clearly assaults on journalists and citizens (striking people in the back and on the head with batons, even when the people are retreating).

All of this would seem to indicate a need for significant reform.  Regardless of what reform is put in place, there needs to be independent review of police actions that can lead to immediate consequences for bad activity by police.  Body camera review (and universal body cam and car cam use) needs to be performed (they are audit trails, and need to be treated as such).

I can imagine that it’s hard to be a cop.  But since police have the ability to exact killing people, they must be held to a higher standard.  They cannot violate the law to enforce the law.

Phone Is Back Up!

3 June 2020

A couple weeks ago, my Galaxy S6 started having issues. Basically, there were long delays when opening some apps, and then the phone had a big problem in that it would constantly reboot.

I figured out that if I was really quick, I could catch the phone in the early stage of reboot and have the phone power off.  The rebooting problem was persistent.

Off I went to the hive mind, and it was really no help.  Safe Mode didn’t work.  One clue was that the phone didn’t see the AT&T network at all.  I turned off the cell (airplane mode), no diff, then Bluetooth, no diff, then WiFi, DIFF!  The phone stayed up.  I turned Bluetooth on, OK, then cell, OK.  The cell signal was one bar out of five, while my wife’s S7 showed five out of five.  I did a number of these sequences, and it became clear that having WiFi on was the problem.  More research, no real help, and wasted time with AT&T. I came to the conclusion that a factory reset was the solution.

I spent several days getting the non-WiFi phone backed up. Google did some degree of backing up.  Samsung had a tool for backing up devices (Smart Switch), but it was Windows only (DAMMIT, seriously Samsung?).  I dug up an older W10 laptop, it still powered up, and after about 20 rounds of Windoze Update, I was able to download and run SmartSwitch.

SmartSwitch seemed to work OK, it claimed 10K+ messages saved, etc.  After backing up the phone, I used it to back up my wife’s phone and our tablets as well.

Tonight, I did the factory reset.  It took about 10 minutes. But when the phone came back up, and started going through the setup process, it connected to WiFi, and the cell network bars matched her S7.  I let it sit for a while, carried it out to a restaurant, and a couple hours passed.  Then I fired up Smart Switch again, did a restore, and amazingly enough, everything was back, except one thing:  the tabs I had open in Chrome didn’t get restored.  To fix that, I went to Settings, History, tabs, and I tapped and restored the eight tabs thanks to Google remembering them.

So far, so good.  I will watch closely over the next several days to see if the phone stays up, but it’s been on two WiFi nets so far, and bandwidth seems fast as always.

One thing, for Samsung.  The Smart Switch client is written for Android.  Since Android is Linux, maybe you could rehost the Smart Switch server to run on Linux also.  That way I could use my Ubuntu desktop to keep our Samsung devices backed up, instead of a creaky W10 laptop with a broken screen.

Black Lives DO Matter, Violence Is Not The Answer

1 June 2020

I’m proud of the people here in OKC, and nationwide, who are starting to rise up and protest and agitate in support of equal rights and opportunity for all people. My daughter and her girlfriend, along with a number of people I know, have been at the rallies that have have taken place here and elsewhere.

I’m more than a little disturbed about some of the things I’ve seen and heard from other people, advocating for hurting or killing people who were protesting. It’s disgusting, and an ultimate expression of white privilege and arrogance. Maybe those people are not overtly racist, but maybe even worse, they are just too comfortable in their nice, protected white bubble.

The people who are committing violence, or who vandalize things, are not protesting, they are just being criminal.

Here in OKC, while I feel that there were a few too many armored vehicles and automatic weapons in evidence with the police, they as a group showed low-key restraint in the face of the protesters downtown last night.  My Facebook comment was to the effect of “the cops really look bored”, and I think that was the right attitude to project, to keep from escalating the situation.  Maybe during future things like this, the cops could have keep the heavy weapons crews hidden unless they were actually needed.

Even with the pandemic, maybe we as a country can finally get what I feel is the majority of people worked up enough to call out the casual and overt racism that exists, and start shaming it into the little, dank, dark corner that racism deserves. Part of that will be to reverse the disastrous economic policies enacted in the 1980s that vacuumed so much wealth from the (then) much larger middle class to the already-rich (who are subsequently much richer).  That will provide the rising tide that will lift all of us, with equal and better distributed opportunity.

AT&T Website is Useless POS

25 May 2020

My Galaxy S6 is having problems, it’s rebooting cyclically. I need to call AT&T for some support, so I decided to use my tablet, which has a phone number and everything.

AT&T, to be “helpful” put a non-working POC app called Number Sync that blocks me making calls unless I set it up.  IDC about Number Sync.  The AT&T website (att.com) has a number of tutorial pages that say how to disable Number Sync, but NONE of them match the actual AT&T account website.  There’s also no human you can contact.

Number Sync – CRAP software I don’t work that won’t allow me to make a phone call.

ATT.COM – Crap website that doesn’t match the AT&T documentation.

FORUMS.ATT.COM – Supposedly has answer, but all attempts to read get a “This page isn’t working” 431 error.  Crap website.

AT&T – you suck at support.

Update at 2200:  After being on with three different AT&T humans this afternoon, my opinion did not get enhanced.

First, the AT&T website specifically describes how to get a Samsung Galaxy S2 tablet to work as a phone.  The techs said that wasn’t true.  I sent them the link to the website page(s) that discussed, they said “hmmm”.

I continued to play with the phone.  I eventually turned off everything (WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC), and the phone started working again.  Turning stuff back on revealed that when WiFi was on, the phone would work for a couple minutes then start the reboot cycle again.  I repeated this a couple times, it was consistent, and now the phone has been on with no issues for about five hours.  So something is apparently weird with WiFi.

I did two full backups.  Both backups, Samsung Cloud and Google Drive, complained that I was on cell data, but I have unlimited data so the roughly 1.2 GB backups were no issue.

I did some Googling, and saw a couple specific references to similar behavior by S6s with WiFi, and both reported at the system restore fixed it.  So once I verify that I’ve got the phone backed up for sure, I will try that, and ensure WiFi is working, then restore the phone and see if it is still working after that.

Masks and Freedom

16 May 2020

If you don’t wear a mask in public during the coronavirus crisis, let me be very clear:  you are a clueless, anti-science, selfish boor.

You are not, on the other hand, exercising your freedom.  You do not really have a clue as to what being an American is about.

If you want to breath germs, go right ahead.  But don’t spread them, nitwit.

Trump Might Be No Better Than China

8 May 2020

Trump has been dragging down efforts to increase testing for COVID-19.  He then makes the statement, “So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad”.

But he also says that China is bad because that totalitarian government has hidden the number of actual cases of COVID-19.

And we also have reporting today that Trump (and Republican governors) are hiding information about COVID-19, including models that predict infection rates.  Arizona is one of those states. Trump and company also came up with a model that they hid from scrutiny.

So Trump and his toady governors really are not much better than China.  There’s nothing that makes any of the predictions about the pandemic secret.  Trying to hide the results of modeling will result in more sickness and death.  But the rush to “re-open” the country is probably being done despite the model results, which means that more people will get sick, and some will die, so that some people can go a bar or the beach.

This “lockdown” has really not be terribly impactful.  We’ve been able to get food to cook at home, and we’ve been able to get food for takeaway, and we’ve been able to run those errands that need to be done.  I think that those governors (including the vile and repugnant Stitt here in Oklahoma) who are rushing to re-open should pay the price for their devotion to commerce over citizens.

Anti-Science Conservatives are Dangerous

4 May 2020

I’m quite bothered by the number of so-called conservatives that seem to reject the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic is an actual activity.

The run-of-the-mill conservative bullcrap is sad and pathetic. But the fringe anti-science conservatives, which usually focuses on the environment and climate change, with a smaller subset that are anti-vaccine, have expanded to the crazy idea that the pandemic, and the “lockdowns” (which I place in quotes as there are few places in the country that are completely actually locked down) have some of the these nuts completely off the rails.  Bill Gates, for some reason, really invokes the ire of some of these people, they seem to think he is trying to depopulate the planet and had a hand in developing the COVID-19 virus.  Not a shred of evidence, of course, just a weird fantasy.

And since these are “conservatives” we talk about, they have to come out with their Big Gunz, and threaten people.  If people of color had done this, there would be arrests and investigations, but white privilege is still in effect and so the gun nut crowd gets away with it.

Make America Think Again.  This means getting rid of the Republican Party at the next election.

Time To Start Evicting Trump

9 April 2020

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders dropped his bid for the Democrat nomination for POTUS.  He hasn’t endorsed Biden yet, and I hope he does.

Now the battle to get rid of the dumpster fire that is Donald Trump can begin.

Trump won in a fluke of the Electoral College.  It was a combination of things that I think can each be overcome.

A number of Bernie supporters either didn’t vote for Clinton, or worse, voted for Trump.  Some number of those are still around, but Sanders can help the cause by being stronger in his support and endorsement of Biden.

The number of votes that gave Trump victory in MI, WI, and PA was 71,000 more or less.  In 2018, the three states vote totals were 10x greater, in favor of Democrats.  So that’s a very positive sign, and shows the importance of voter registration, and getting those voters out to the polls.  Trump helped with that by being an incompetent asshole.

Some number of voters stayed home in 2016 because they were certain that Clinton had it wrapped up.  That’s related to the previous point.  It’s clear that Trump will not get any more competent, and I’m pretty sure he won’t be less of an asshole, so he may help hasten his defeat.  The Democrats should be brutal in using his own words to show how un-American and incompetent he is, not to mention the constant lies and cluelessness.

I think it is unlikely there are very many Democrat or independent voters that are going to vote for Trump.  And there’s a floor of hardcore Trump supporters that isn’t growing.  I do worry that some of them will go nuts when he loses, with potentially fatal consequences for innocent people.

In the battle of policy, Biden will win.  The best bet is contrasting Republican racism and xenophobia against American values.  SCOTUS conservative packing vs. the Constitution.  A vicious sociopath versus a thoughtful, caring leader.

One of the worst things about Trump is his complete disregard for Constitutional oversight by Congress.  He should have been removed from office through impeachment, as his contempt for oversight is clearly impeachable.  But Congressional Republicans, in particular in the Senate, abetted his un-Constitutional conduct, and for that, they all deserve to lose their seats.  Inhofe and Lankford, I’m looking at you here. But I’m also looking at the Oklahoma House delegation as well, except for my Representative Kendra Horn, who voted to impeach, as she should have.

I’m cautiously optimistic that we will be able to vote Trump out.  I hope he goes quietly, and I hope that some thought is already being given to ensuring that he leaves when ordered to by the electorate.

 

Finally, Something A Trump Toady Says I Can Agree With

3 April 2020

Jared Kushner at a coronavirus briefing: “What a lot of the voters are seeing now is that when you elect somebody … think about who will be a competent manager during the time of crisis.”

It just so happens that his father-in-law should be brought to mind right now – an incompetent crisis manager.

I don’t have to worry much that Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders will fall into this category.  Trump has brought only disruptors into his service, not people who can plan, mitigate, and minimize impacts from disasters.

In fact, the biggest disaster is Trump himself.

COVID-19

30 March 2020

We are entering our second full week of “social distancing” for the COVID-19 situation.  We have been out to get food (restaurants and groceries), taken supplies and food to Raegans Mom in Moore, and that’s about it.  We’ve also visited a kitty that we take care of at St. John’s, which of course is shut down.

My work load is way down, as travel and most meetings are canceled.

This virus threat is fairly unique, of course, but I think it already has generated some lessons learned.

First, stockpiles.  The numbers of some critical items are obviously far too low.  PPE for medical workers (and also some of the essential people in the food chain) is clearly insufficient.  I think that when this crisis is over, or even almost over, the amount of stockpiled PPE needs to be at least the amount needed during the COVID-19 outbreak, and maybe even at the 150% level.  Since a lot of these items are marked with expiration dates, we need to take a hard look at the actual expiration of the efficacy of the PPE, and maybe levy some additional storage requirements to increase the effective date of use.

It’s tempting to say the same about durable gear, in particular ventilators.  The problem is, the next virus might not cause the same issues with our lungs.  What might be a better idea is to develop a ventilator that can be deployed and used for the medium or short term, but built damn fast.  Then store the manufacturing gear at a number of locations across the country so that production can be ramped up the next time.  And then, look hard at what other durable equipment might fall into this category, and plan accordingly.

The pandemic response team at the White House needs to be reinstated.  The Trump administration decision to disband the office was shortsighted, to say the least.

A pandemic is, by definition, a worldwide issue, and so therefore it should be handled at the national level.  Distributions should be made on the (non-political) ranking of the worst impact levels by career civil servants, not directed by political appointees.

Greenworks Power Tools

3 March 2020

I’m preternaturally overconfident about tools.  I have little issue with using them for fixing or building stuff, and lack of experience isn’t really a place to stop.  Except welding: I suck at welding.

That being said, I apparently have an issue with chainsaws.  I have purchased chainsaws over the years, and inherited one from my Dad.  When I went through a huge garage cleaning a couple months ago, I found that I had no less than four (yes, 4) chainsaws, all gas powered, none of which actually work.

Well….

I have been cutting logs and limbs and trees with my 120VAC Sawzall using a  12″ rough cutting wood blade.  Works for most stuff.  But about three years ago, I was doing a hell of a lot of tree clearing at the house, and some was beyond the reach of my collection of extension cords.  I thought about taking one or more of the chainsaws to a shop, but I was in Lowes, and they had battery-powered chainsaws on sale.  I did some research, and ended up buying a 60VDC Greenworks Pro 16″ chainsaw, with a spare battery, for $120, which was less than the cost of a comparable gas model.  It uses regular bar oil, and regular chains, and served me well for the past couple years. I can get about four hours of continuous cutting out of the saw before changing the battery, which takes about four hours to charge.  I like it enough that I bought a Greenworks string trimmer last Fall, it uses the same 60VDC battery, so I have three of them now.

I took the saw on a campout in January, and coming back, a large piece of wood fell on and broke the chain brake.  It’s a fairly substantial plastic part, that pivots on the left side of the saw, and is attached to the brake on the right (which is the side that broke).  I figured I could buy a replacement.

So I entered customer support purgatory with Greenworks.  Per their website, I sent an email with the saw information, what was broken, a photo of the damage, and the fact that the break was my fault (i.e. not a bad part).  The cycle time for a response was usually four days.  First, I got a response asking what the issue was (apparently, they don’t read the first email).  I filled in the blanks.  This time I got a person who essentially asked for the same info again.  Then I got a response asking for a photo of the damage.  Then I got asked for proof of purchase, which I had already stated I didn’t have, but I had sent (and resent) a photo of the plate on the saw.

Final answer:  a new saw is being shipped to you.  Not the broken part.  I immediately went back stating I just needed the part.  A couple days later, the response was that the individual part wasn’t repairable, so the entire tool was being replaced. I asked how I would send the broken one back, the reply was to trash it. [Insert jaw drop emoticon here. 🙂 ]

A couple days later, there was a new chainsaw on the front porch.  It wasn’t the full retail package, in that there wasn’t a battery, or the little starter can of bar oil, but there was a new chain on the saw, and the chain and bar sheath.  I filled it up with oil, popped in the battery, and it fired right up.

So while it took a while in the back-and-forth, Greenworks did more than right by me.  I imagine that their legal people don’t want anything like a chainsaw fixed by the consumer, and I further speculate they don’t have repair people employed, and it’s just less expensive to send a new saw.

So in general, if you need a chainsaw, and you don’t use it professionally, it’s a great value.  Greenworks also stands behind their product.

And it starts EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Backpacking Permit Adventures

1 March 2020

Raegan and I are taking our first backpacking trip together this August.  I picked the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) long ago for this.  Now that she has had both knees replaced, and will be nine months post-second-knee, we thought it would be a good trip, and make it an easy one. So I want her to see Big Meadow and Granite Falls in RMNP.

The last couple times I went there, you had to call the park to make backcountry reservations.  One time, I started calling at 0800, and literally called 175 times until I got through a couple hours later. A bit of a pain, but when it was done I had my permit in (virtual) hand.

This year, they are doing it differently, using a site called pay.gov.  You use the site to make the permit request, and then hopefully in a couple days you find out if you actually get your permit.  I started at 0900, and finished at 0911.  It was not the best process.

I started at exactly 0900.  The site was blank for a full minute, and I did a refresh.  Another minute+ went by.  I had Wireshark up this time, and I could see that I had a connection to the pay.gov site, and data was slooooooowly trickling in, so I didn’t refresh.  Then…  I HAD A PAGE!  This one told me I was making reservations for a permit at RMNP, and had a page of legal BS.  At the bottom, a link to continue.  This quickly gave me a second page of BS and another link to continue.

Now on the third page, it talked about the reservation process, and was a form with a lot of info about me.  Chrome auto-filled most of it automagically.  At the bottom, a link to review campsite availability.  I clicked Continue, it complained that I Was Required to review the campsite availability page.  I right-clicked to open that in a new tab.  Then clicked Continue and it let me go on.

A note:  the campsite availability page took to to the NPS RMNP site, it was 404 Not Available.  *Sigh*

Now I was able to finally put in the dates of the trip and an alternate itinerary.  That worked OK.  Clicked Continue, got a This Browser is Not Supported page (!). I use Chrome for Linux, WTH?  Did a back, all of the data was still there except one campsite, I put it in, and this time the browser was apparently supported, yea!

Now I was at a page wanting payment information.  That all worked ok, and finally, the process was complete.  Now I wait a couple days to see if my requests are honored.

But it was all quite flaky, I think.  Several thousand people backcountry camp at RMNP each year, and I imagine quite a few were trying to score coveted permits, but it’s not like millions of people trying to, say, get tickets for My Chemical Romance.

There is also a site I use all the time called recreation.gov; it is solid and reliable at getting you a reservation for a campsite at thousands of places nationwide; it probably should have been used here as well.

One more thing.  The pay.gov site did this without me being required to complete an account first, which I find kind of surprising.  But after I looked at it, I thought I might go ahead and create an account.  It was pretty easy, except it freaked out about my password for some reason, twice.  The password requirement was pretty standard, eight+ characters, one upper, lower, number, and special.  So something is jacked up there, I will try it again later.

Ignorance As A Way Of Life

29 February 2020

I was unhappy with the 2016 Presidential election.  Trump was never qualified to be President (or even dogcatcher).  When I saw how slim the election victory was, and that it was Electoral College only, with Clinton winning 3M more votes, I settled down a bit.  I figured the next election would cure the cancer of Trump.  I still think that will happen.

But one thing that I am still amazed and saddened at, is the willful ignorance that is exhibited by so many people that I personally know.

It’s not just rejection of science.  That’s not so much of a bother for me, I know plenty of intelligent people who are religious, and have no problem distinguishing between their faith, and public policy that is based on not just science, but the fact that the country is secular.

So many people are just willfully ignorant.  Trump is a part of the problem. His “alternative facts”, his constant calling stuff hoaxes, and so many lies, encourage people (I guess the current term of art is “embolden”) to just blindly ignore facts.  Most of those ignorant people are conservative.  I know some people will find that offensive, but I’m sorry about that, it’s my long-time experience.  I see that reinforced every day.  It’s passing along memes that have no basis in fact, it’s making statements about entire classes of other people, and it’s supporting candidates like Trump based on some fantasy instead of the facts.

I don’t hate the people that exhibit this. I feel sorry for them.  So many are being led on, and don’t even realize it. There needs to be an increase in critical thinking in this country.  While a majority have at least some of those skills, we need an overwhelming majority, and we are a long ways from that.

Indigo Girls Concert

27 February 2020

Raegan has been a fan of the Indigo Girls for many years.  I’ve heard a couple of their songs that I really like.  I’ve been keeping an eye on their concert tour schedule a couple of years, and when we found out they were going to be here, naturally we wanted to go.

The show started at 2000 with singer Lucy Wainwright Roche, who has a decent voice and is pretty funny.  She got up there and basically did something like seven songs in a row.

Right after Lucy finished, they did a quick stage reconfigure, and the Indigo Girls came out at 2030.  After that, it was 2.75 hours straight of music. No pauses or intermissions, just a minute or so between songs for the Girls to switch instruments.  The vast majority of the songs were acoustic, and I think there were two songs where one of the Girls had an electric guitar.  They also used a mandolin and a banjo.  Lucy came back out for backing vocals, and they had a dynamite violin player who also did backing vocals.  Other than that, a guy hidden off stage right with a keyboard made up the crew.  No bullcrap, just playing songs to an enthusiastic audience that sang along with most of the songs.

I have to admit, I didn’t recognize a single song.  I’ve listened to a couple of their albums over the years, but not enough to memorize more than two songs, neither of which they played.  But, and this is important to me, I could recognize the words to the songs for the most part, and so I could figure out what the songs were about.  The technical execution wasn’t bad.  The first song had some distortion from one microphone, but it got corrected very quickly, so the sound people were on the ball. They had very simple lighting that wasn’t distracting.

The venue, Jones Assembly, sucked (see previous post). I can’t think of an act where I would go back unless they change and get some damn chairs to sit in.

So a good show was put on, the way it should be.  I hope we cross paths with the Indigo Girls again at some point, I’d happily see them again.

Jones Assembly, Oklahoma City

27 February 2020

Last evening Raegan and I checked out Jones Assembly in OKC, for an Indigo Girls concert (see next post).

In short, the venue is terrible.

We got there (amazing for us) at 1815, before the doors actually opened at 1830.  We were wanded by a security guy, who sent the people ahead of us out of the line for a small pocket knife, and totally missed the large knife-laden multitool I had on my belt,

Now, there’s stuff on their website about while they sell all tickets at general admission and standing room only, there is adequate seating.

When we got in, we found the truth.  There are two areas.  One, with the stage in front, is truly standing only.  The other area is separated by a tall brick wall, with two garage doors, which were not opened.  The second area has a food ordering window, and some tables and chairs.  This area is open to the sky, and so last night was cold as hell (air temp was around 34F).

So basically, from the time we got there until we left, we were on our feet for 4.5 hours.  Raegan, who is still in rehab for her second knee replacement, was quite miserable and in pain after about an hour.

So I say don’t go to Jones Assembly.  I’m going to inquire if they are ADA compliant. Chairs are not that expensive, so what kind of nut sets up a venue that way?

Sanders, and Castro

26 February 2020

The comments by Bernie Sanders with respect to Fidel Castro, and the uproar they caused, I really find non-relevant.

Sanders would not be my first choice as the Democrat Presidential nominee.  But he, or any of the current Democrat candidates, beat the hell out of another four years of the dumpster fire that IS Donald Trump.

Sanders says things, but he has been consistent.  He tells the truth.  We don’t have that from the Republicans, or in particular the Liar-In-Chief Trump.

So Democrats are a hot mess right now.  Not surprising, given that they are in the middle of a hotly contested nomination. My only worry is the people (like many Sanders supporters in 2016) staying home because their candidate wasn’t the nominee.

I’m voting for the Democrat candidate regardless.  Even Sanders; so he praised something Fidel Castro did 30 years ago.  I don’t have to worry that he, or any of the others, would place Russia over the United States, like Trump has done repeatedly.  I don’t worry that any of the Democrats will spit on the Constitution, like McConnell.

Voting Blue, no matter who.

Wal-Mart Pickup

12 February 2020

I had my second experience with the Wal-Mart grocery pickup service.  I’m amazingly happy with it.

A couple months ago, Raegan and I were getting food for our Girl Scout troop campout.  We were feeding about 10 people, and we decided to try the online ordering and pickup service.  While there was one substitution we were not entirely happy about, it was acceptable.  The best part was pulling up to Wal-Mart on a very busy day, and then heading out again 15 minutes later with all that food.

It was even so last weekend.  For our Scouts BSA troop camp, I decided that the adults would do the cooking and cleanup to get the boys off to the shooting event as quickly as possible.  I was buying food for 25 people, and was in the Dallas area through Friday morning, and the camp started Friday evening.  So that Thursday evening, I placed two orders from my tablet; one was the breakfast order, and the other lunch.

One cool thing, I saw the totals for the food in real time, so I could ensure I was within the budget for each meal.  It only took about 15 minutes to build and place the orders.  There were texts the next day as the pickup time approached, and the orders were ready when I pulled in.  The employees loaded one order into the passengers seats, and the other into the back of my Sorento (that was a help when my Scouts loaded the two sets of food into two ice checks and dry boxes to transport to camp; I didn’t to spend time rooting through the boxes looking just for breakfast). Again on a busy afternoon, I was out of there in about 10 minutes.

So overall, it was a big help.  I did specify several things that I didn’t want substituted, for example, I wanted Pace picante sauce, not some off-brand.  The only substitute was for one type of cookies; the package size I specified wasn’t available, so they went one larger at no cost increase.

I think we may look at this for our personal shopping as well.

Impeachment Trial is a Coverup

21 January 2020

It’s clear that few (if any) Republicans have the courage to admit what is clear:

  1. Trump committed impeachable offenses.
  2. There is evidence, and there are witnesses to his conduct.
  3. There is a coverup going on that involves Members of Congress and executive branch officials.

The rot and corruption in the Republican Party has a long and sordid history.  The Party needs to die and some other political party replace it in order for the country to move forward.

UMC Split

3 January 2020

I read in the Washington Post today that the United Methodist Church is formally spinning off into two parts, one based on bigotry and the other based on Christianity. The bigoted part is opposed to marriage equality, and also opposed to ordination of gay people.

It’s too bad.  I’m not a Methodist, but many relatives and friends are.

I have a sense of amazement that this should even be an issue.  I get that there are still bigots around, but I can’t fathom why, of all the prohibitions in the various bibles, that the fact that there are people who are gay should be the thing to focus on.  C’mon, bigots, where are your hateful feelings about your sinner friends and relations that eat shellfish, or who are divorced?

It’s stupid and shortsighted.

Thoughts On The New Girl Scout Outdoors Badges

2 January 2020

I’m a long-time Girl Scout leader (and Boy Scout leader as well), and I’m quite wrapped up in the outdoors programs of both organizations.  Readers may recall that I have a low opinion of the Girl Scout outdoors program.

So when GS-USA announced that new outdoors badges would be made available, I was hopeful.  Here are my thoughts on some of these badges, in no particular order.

Trail Adventure (Senior):  Girls can do trail running or backpacking.  The first requirement is to do some research about the sports, then do some planning.  OK. The planning part is arguably the most important thing about backpacking in particular, but this requirement is at the 30,000 foot level of detail. I don’t think the average 14 year old can learn something like backpacking in a vacuum, and that’s how these requirements feel to me.  The suggestion to take a day hike with an experienced trail runner or backpacker is a good start, but it really should guide the girl in the expectation department (stop and pitch a tent, cooking, etc.).

Step 5 is to go on the adventure.  And here is where I have a big issue – there is no mastery of the sport required.  No mileages, or number of overnights, or anything concrete.

Eco Trekker (Senior):  Learn about conservation, water in particular.  Then go out, and either mark a trail map for durable surfaces (an LNT requirement), or collect water and test it, or build a mound fire.  Again, do one thing that is low-effort.

Adventure Camper (Senior): The usual planning (with more detail than Trail Adventurer), but again, a single camp, which again would not build any mastery.

Survival Camper (Ambassador):  This one has potential.  It’s essentially the backpacking badge above, but you build a shelter instead of taking a tent.

Troop Camping—Primitive Camping (Cadettes):  This is essentially a single plan and take a backpacking trip (but the dishes cleaning method using three wash basins is a little weird for backpacking).

So overall, my judgement is that these outdoors badges are superficial.  For an organization that talks a lot about getting girls outside, these are skim-the-surface activities.  I would argue that you shouldn’t get a badge for an activity that’s fairly complex and demanding unless you show some proficiency in the activity, and these don’t have any goals for girls to strive for.

A Sad Day For America

19 December 2019

The impeachment of Donald Trump is a sad day for America.

While he is certainly responsible for the consequences of his actions, the real blame lies with the Republican Party.  It is beyond me how a major political party could allow itself to be subsumed in fealty to such a person.

Trump is a jerk, classless and arrogant.  He uses race as a weapon.  Regardless of all that, he was elected.

The Republican Party is enabling his behavior, as the culmination of a long history of increasingly un-American behavior that is attempting, in effect, one-party rule of the country.  Trump may have felt that he did not have to answer information demands from the House of Representatives due to the fact that Democrats controlled the chamber.  However, the Constitution does not allow a party, or a President, to define when they give information to Congress.  Even in the face of obnoxious or even baseless requests, the information must be provided.  Note that the Obama administration complied with each request from the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

As to the abuse of power, I feel that the “impeachability” of Trumps’ actions are subject to debate.  He may not have even realized that the actions he was taking were unethical or not legal.  Regardless, there are so many parts of that situation that still need to be wrung out.  The obstruction charges are directly related to this.  If Trump did nothing wrong, why did he restrict many players on his staff from giving testimony?  None of the defenders have gone on the record under oath.  There’s certainly smoke there, and there may be fire.

I wonder how this will play out in the end.  Regardless, if Trump lasts to 2020 (I’m not ruling out him just saying “eff it” and resigning in a fit of pique), I hope that he is voted out by a huge, undeniable margin.

Then the Republican Party can complete its slow decline in integrity and policy.

Impeachment and Biden

6 October 2019

Trump has admitted to committing impeachable acts. Good for him.

But he has been frothing at the mouth to try and get Joe Biden and/or Hunter Biden investigated for some reason.  So maybe Hunter Biden was getting big bucks to sit on the board of a Ukrainian company for little work.  So what actual impact might an investigation have?  Joe Biden has been the leading candidate for the Democrat nomination, while Sanders and Warren have been slowly catching up.  Biden, in the worst case, may receive enough damage that his support drops to form a three-way race.

And that’s OK.  I like Biden, he would make a fine President.  However, if Warren was nominated, that would be fine as well (and that includes several other of the Democrat candidates).

Bottom line, most of the top Democrats can beat the dumpster fire that is Trump.  Any of them would be a better President.

Trump can froth and rant all he wants, he is still despicable. Obama is a far better person, and was a far better President. The next Democrat will be both as well.

Good Riddance, John Bolton

11 September 2019

Bolton was far too anxious to start wars, particularly in the Middle East.

I’m glad he is gone, and I hope he never disgraces the American political scene again.

Driving A Hybrid Ford Fusion

26 August 2019

For a business trip to Omaha, I rented a car to make the drive from OKC, as I do about half the time.  Avis gave me a newish Ford Fusion, which is the same kind of car I drove OKC-Dallas and back a couple weeks ago, except this one was a hybrid.

Hybrids, for those who don’t know, are powered by an electric drive. While the electric drive use significant batteries, the car has a gasoline engine (smaller than the non-hybrid) that fires up to charge the batteries when they start getting too low.  The batteries also are charged as the car slows down, through coupling the braking action with generators that charge the batteries.  As we all know, perfect efficiency in using and producing electricity is impossible, so every once in a while, the motor has to fire up to keep the batteries charged.

So my DFW conventional Fusion got about 28mpg.  The Omaha hybrid Fusion got north of 48mpg. So not bad there.

The user part of the car (the cabin) was unchanged, but the trunk lost about a third of the luggage space.  Raegan and I travel with a rolling bag apiece and two backpacks.  The conventional Fusion handled those with no issue, and space to spare.  The hybrid had to be crunched in, and no room to spare.

This car had the radar integrated in with the cruise control, and it worked really well.  Numerous times I would be going along at 80 on the interstate, a car would pull in front of me, and the car would automagically slow down and maintain about 75 ft between the two cars.  Once the car in front moved over, the car would quickly accelerate back to 80.  Braking was very smooth.

This car also had a drive alert.  If the car though that I was weaving or drifting, it would ding-ding-ding and show a red alert indicator that had a steaming cup of coffee on it.

The Fusion had smart high-beams!  Cruising at night, if there was no oncoming traffic, the brights would kick on.  With any indication of traffic in the other lanes, they would go back down very quickly.  I was not able to experiment with traffic in my lane, but in at least one instance the brights were on when there was traffic in front of me about a quarter-mile.  You can turn the brights off manually.

The car had collision avoidance that I managed to test twice in slow-moving traffic.

The car didn’t have a lot of pep.  I understand all-electric cars like the Volt essentially put the motors next to the wheels, directly connected to the batteries.  I think that the Fusion probably has a conventional drive that it shares with gas models, and loss in that transmission (coupled with a single electric motor, maybe?), slows it down some.  This hybrid was certainly less peppy than the conventional.

The car had a much smaller gas tank than the conventional, which makes sense as we rarely heard the motor actually running.

The only weird thing was getting in and pushing the Start button.  After a couple seconds, an indicator would show up on the dash – “Ready To Drive”.  Put it in gear, push the accelerator, and off you go.  It’s kinda odd to hear tire noise on the ground only.

So my first hybrid was a nice ride, comfortable, and a good learning experience.

Paper Junk Mail Hell

25 August 2019

A curse on the numerous companies that do not allow opt out of paper junk mail.

I just spent about two hours sorting though and then destroying a huge amount of junk mail that comes to the house, almost every day.  At least once a month I have to do this.

A special hex on USAA!  Even though our lives are tied up with the insurance and banking giant, and despite the fact that they claim to have opt-out for every type of account, I still get paper statements EVERY SINGLE MONTH from them.  Every one of these I have to rip open, extract the info from the plain paper, and then feed them through my shredder.  USAA:  We love your service, but your tree-killing insistence on sending me stuff is dumb.

Then there are the f@#king credit card offers from so many companies.  Notice to each of them:  I’m not getting your card.  Bugger off.

There are quite a few financial “service” offers.  I can only image, and I’m not taking a single one.

And to the State Farm agent here in OKC that’s been sending me mail every couple weeks for the past 20 years, NO NO NO NO NO EVER!

My wall of shame:

  • USAA
  • American Airlines
  • Chase Bank
  • Capital One
  • Hilton Honors
  • AARP
  • JP Morgan

KNOCK IT OFF, willya.

Some places are better.  Anthem/Blue Cross used to send a fat envelop every time they had a claim.  They set up a decent site online to look at all that stuff, and hooray to all my utility companies for doing the same (City of OKC, OG&E, etc.).  We still get stuff from the Anthem Slime Sub Meridian Resource, but those just get shredded without even a review.

Several of my magazines have gone digital, and for those I am grateful.

Tomorrow I will take three sacks of paper out to the recycle bin.  While a lot of it is magazines, to much is shredded paper.  I want that flow to slow down, a lot.

Using the Garmin InReach Explorer+

12 August 2019

I carried a SPOT device from 2012 until 2016; it worked well for letting my wife know my position when I was in the backcountry.  I also carried a GPS (most recently a GPSMap62s).  The combination worked for me.

I gave my SPOT to my son when he drove to Alaska, and I started looking for a replacement.  I looked at a number of devices.  I was particularly intrigued by the devices that offered two-way comms.

I ended up settling on the Garmin InReach Explorer+.  It had the following advantages:

  • Using the InReach replaced both a SPOT and my GPS. I lost about nine ounces from my pack weight, from the two devices and one set of spare batteries apiece (of course, one used AAA and the other AA).
  • The monthly charge for the InReach was comparable to the SPOT.
  • The InReach had better maps, and free updates.
  • The InReach sent messages two-way.
  • The InReach charges from a micro USB.  My headlamp does also.  This means I can either charge both from a power brick, or from a solar panel.

In the general category, the InReach can be used with a smart phone acting as the message interface.  While the scroll-and-click by the letter works OK, the phone interface is much faster.  The phone also makes reading maps much faster.  The battery on the InReach so far has lasted without needing recharge on a six-day trip.  The monthly cost for the service is comparable to the cost to run a SPOT also.

There was one disadvantage:

  • It cost $450.

Now, if I were buying both a decent GPS and a SPOT, the two of them would be about the same, so that may work for some people.

InReach

So far, the InReach has not missed sending or receiving a message either in town or in the backcountry.  I’ve used the maps, tracking, and odometer functions the most (like, 99% of the time).  I also have used the sun and moon schedules every once in a while.

There is one fairly useful function – you can send a message and get a fairly detailed hour-by-hour weather forecast for the location you are at.  I wonder if this could be updated to add receiving a current radar image?

I’ve only had one real glitch with the InReach.  On my last backpacking trip, we were going from the trailhead 5.1 miles to the first nights camp.  I had the route loaded into the device, and the current location marker was right on the route.  The distance on the odometer, however, was about 2x the actual distance.  So at the end of the trail, the device showed 12 miles of progress. Accurate, not so much.  The downloaded track, however, showed the correct mileage.

During a backpacking or hiking trip, I will occasionally download a route into the device. My go-to service for this is CalTopo.

During the hike, I will have the InReach capture my hike.  In previous backpacking GPS units I’ve had, once you turn the device on, it starts tracking you.  Not so with the InReach.  After it turns on and establishes where it is, I go into the Trip Info menu and clear that, then go into the Tracking menu and clear it, then right before we get started, I go back into the Tracking menu and clear any existing track data.  One thing here is to set the tracking interval; if you are going fairly straight, a 30-second or 1-minute track interval is fine.  If you are hitting switchbacks that are 30 feet long, or on a really windy trail, you might decrease the interval.  The trade off is shorter intervals means more memory used, and more computing, which affects battery life.  Once into camp, I usually turn off tracking. I also reset the odometer, so for a multi-day trip I can tell how far the entire trip has been, and also how far we’ve gone that day.

Garmin makes money off the InReach sending stuff out, so they have a “want to share your location” when you turn on tracking; if you do that, you will send your location to somewhere, and that means they will charge you for that.

All that being said, there’s also after-trip stuff to be done.  For me, I always export the track(s) of the hike so I can plot the actual hike on a map (I’m often astounded at how often actual tracks differ from map tracks), and I like to see the altitude plots (note, if you do this also, I find it useful to export GPX tracks to Excel, and then I convert the lat/long points to absolute distances (i.e. feet), and then plot the altitude against that.  It gives you a non-exaggerated view of how far you walk and climb/descend.

Now, how you do that after-trip stuff is, to use a kind word, jacked up.  Every GPS I’ve ever had used a serial interface to transfer data into and out of the GPS.  The InReach has a USB port that is used for charging, and NOTHING else.  Unlike my GPSMap60 and GPSMap62s, which mount like an SD card with most any computer, then you can transfer a GPX route into it, or transfer a GPX track of of it.  The InReach will not do that.

Garman:  that’s a dumb decision.

The InReach has a Bluetooth interface, and that’s the only way to transfer stuff into and out of it.  When you buy an InReach, you get a full license to the Garmin-owned Earthmate app.  You are also allowed to create an account on the Inreach website (which you use to set up service plans as a start). So you download Earthmate to your phone, Bluetooth link it to the InReach, and then you use to phone/Earthmate combo to launder stuff between the InReach website, and the device.  It’s not the most reliable link.  I had to do a transfer from my hike yesterday something like five times to get the track from the InReach to the website.  Once the track is on the website, you can name it, color-code it, and it is stored there for some time.

Earthmate has decent maps, and you can update them for free anytime.  If your InReach is tracking you, the Earthmate app will show you your location on that decent map as you hike along.  Now, your phone has to have Bluetooth enabled for this, and that means some extra power is being consumed by your phone.  Also, I have had two instances of the Earthmate app going rogue on my phone and sucking the phone power-dry in a couple hours (I had to go into Apps and KILL it; I think that losing the Bluetooth connection to the InReach caused the issue). There is also the enhanced message interface that may work in your favor.

One other note:  updating the device firmware.  You HAVE to have Windows 10 to update firmware.  There is no way at all to do that from Linux. Garmin, you really should have some way to update the InReach without having to have Windows 10.  It’s not hard, dudes.

One other thing.  The InReach website will allow you to upload routes, and then use the phone/Earthmate combo to launder those to the InReach, and it will download tracks via the laundering method. You can view those on a decent set of maps.  That’s about all the website is good for. You can’t even look at an altitude plot for a track. There are many ways to send messages, and track where an InReach is, but that’s all $$$ for Garmin.  I routinely export my latest track to GPS (a buglet – the InReach website will try so hard to export Every. Single. Track. And. Waypoint into a single HUGE file), then I will import the track into CalTopo to review the track and look at altitude.

If you are not aware, Garmin used to have a tool called MapSource that would perform all of the tasks I needed, and more.  It also stored your trip info on your computer instead of in the InReach cloud. I’ve ended up exporting three MapSource instances to a single set of GPX files on my computer (and backed up, since I have tracks back to 2003).

In summary, the InReach is pretty cool.  There are a bunch of functions on it I haven’t even looked at, but for what it need it for, it’s very reliable.  Being able to do two-way comms gives my wife some peace of mind when I’m in the backcountry.  It’s light, and stays powered a long time, and can be recharged from common power bricks, and solar panels. The monthly cost isn’t unreasonable.  There are some things I wish Garmin would de-glitch, but overall I can overcome those. The InReach is a winner for me.

Racism In America, And More

1 August 2019

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson had this to say during the recent Democrat debate:

This is part of the dark underbelly of American society. The racism, the bigotry, and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight. If you think any of this wonkiness is is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.

Regardless of how she does during the campaign, she has identified the basic problem that still needs to be solved in America.  We have too many bigots and racists in the country.

I’ve had a number of interactions recently with friends and others where race and bigotry have had too much of an impact.  For what may be the first time in my life, I have written a person off, someone I’ve known for more than 10 years, for his being a bigoted, homophobic, misogynist, racist.  After one interaction with my son, who told me about extremely offensive language being used, I simply reached my limit and that person is written off as far as I’m concerned.

There have been other interactions with others online that I find similarly disturbing.  Defense of Trump supposedly not being racist. Too many memes that denigrate people of color, impugn the character of entire groups of people.  Some of these people are relatives of mine, some are people I’ve known more than 40 years.

Back before the Trump campaign, I had written several times that I thought and hoped that the last racist cohort would be dying off during this period.  Unfortunately, it seems now, with the election of Trump and the “emboldening” of racists and bigots, we may have another generation or two more.

I think that most of our younger citizens are mainly not racists or bigots; they seem to wear their hearts on their sleeves and I rarely see evidence of racist or bigoted behavior.

Every person in this country deserves, and is guaranteed by the Constitution, equal opportunity. Racists and bigots tend to suppress those opportunities.  The faster they are gone, the faster we can work to get rid of their legacies that have been left in our law and customs.

The Right-Wing SCOTUS Boots It On Gerrymandering

28 June 2019

In yet another example of the adage “Stolen SCOTUS seats have consequences”, the SCOTUS completely showed the conservative stripes that were bought by Mitch McConnell stealing the nomination that was rightfully President Obamas.

Gerrymandering is a way for incumbents to keep themselves in power by voter block suppression.  It should be illegal, no matter which party practices it.  Districts should be subject to judicial checks and balances.  The Roberts SCOTUS ignored it.

I note for the record that in the past several cycles, only Republicans have pushed wide-spread, significant voter suppression and manipulation, including having the Republican  Georgia candidate for Governor being in charge of clearing the voter rolls of… Democrat registrations.

I’ve written before that districts should be drawn in a strict mechanical process for every state.  That keeps politicians from trying to write their own districts.

But the gerrymandering Republicans, the SCOTUS, and McConnell should be ashamed.  I’m sure they are not.

2020 Election Heating Up

26 June 2019

I’m undecided on who to support in 2020, except for one thing:  ANY Democrat is better than the dumpster fire that is Trump.

I just saw a headline from Politico regarding Biden:  “He keeps stepping in it, and it doesn’t matter to voters”.  I think that’s true because at his heart, Biden is a decent, caring man who does his best for the country.  People realize that.

I could vote for Biden.  He did a very good job in the Senate and as Vice President.

There are other Democrat contenders that have good policy, and good character; I could vote for most of them as well.

We need the rest of the blue wave in 2020 to sweep the obstructionist, racist Republicans out of the Senate and the White House.

A Test Post

2 June 2019

These are hikes I’ve taken.

I hope this displays correctly.

Linux and SmartBoards

6 February 2017

Regular readers may recall that one of my major activities is helping keep the technology going at St. John’s Episcopal School and Church.

We have four SmartBoards in the building.  A full SmartBoard installation requires the board (essentially a large touchscreen), a computer, and projector that projects the computer display on the SmartBoard.  Software on the computer interfaces to the SmartBoard, and interprets touches (as mouse clicks) and swipes (as various line draws, highlights, etc.).  The swipes are usually overlayed on whatever the computer is displaying.

The computers we have driving the SmartBoards are very old, 2004-vintage, and running XP.  I did an XP install from scratch on one, and it sped up a little, but it still would not play videos, and the SmartBoard drawing was very sluggish.

A buddy of mine from the Omaha area (thanks, Stan!) donated one of his computers to St. John’s.  It’s a dual-core 3GHz machine with 8GB of memory.  I decided to replace one of the SmartBoard computers with this one.  The license tag was for Vista.  I decided that since SmartBoard supported Linux, that’s the route I would go.

The requirements stated by Smart was a 1.2GHz machine with 1GB of RAM, and Ubuntu 14.04. I had the most recent Ubuntu 16.04 on a USB stick, so that’s what I used.  The install and setup were smooth, as expected, as this was the eighth computer I have installed 16.04 on.  Then I noticed in some fine print on the installation errata that the SmartBoard drivers would only work on a 32bit (386) architecture.  Well, crap, the install I just did was for a 64bit architecture.  So off I went and downloaded a 32bit version of Ubuntu 16.04.  That install was very smooth as well.

I had to go through a lot of gyrations with Smart to get a product key to allow me to download the Smart Notebook software.  I had registered one SmartBoard with them back when I first installed it, and while I registered the other three in the process, only that first registration got me an authorized product key (although, the terms for that key stated that the software could be installed any where in the building.  Whatever.).

I unpacked the Smart Notebook software and drivers, and started reading the installation instructions.  The files were in .deb archives, which are usually very straightforward to install.  There were a lot of instructions from Smart about setting up PGP, running scripts with their key and my key to sign the archives prior to installation, and the first time I followed their instructions to the letter, the process immediately failed with NO explanation except “signing failed”.  Hmmmm…

After about two seconds of thought, I said THWI, and started installing the .deb files as they were unzipped.  I did try to do this in a reasonable order (the common files first, etc.).  All reported installed successfully. Usually after this, I would try to start the service that would be installed, but I didn’t see anything like that in top, so I just restarted the whole computer.  When I logged in again, the status light on the board was and solid, which indicated that the board and computer were communicating.  I did some pokes at the board, and darned if the thing wasn’t working.  I aligned it, and all was well.

I fired up the Smart Notebook software, and got a splash screen, but nothing else.  It sat for a while, still nothing.  I went to the terminal I had open, and any command reported no child processes spawned, which is usually an indicator that all resources are sucked dry.  I restarted again (at least graceful restart was still there), got on terminal and saw the usual stuff I would expect (along with SmartBoard drivers, very cool), and then fired up Notebook again.  This time, ps -x showed more new processes spawned that I could keep up with.  When they got up to 20,000+, the machine basically threw up its hands.

I went off to research.  While I found the same question on a number of forums, the answer was on the very bottom of the errata sheet for Notebook 11:  Notebook will not work with Unity, which is the default desktop of Ubuntu (and was for 14.04, which is the baseline for Ubuntu for SmartBoards).  I installed a Gnome desktop, restarted with that one, and fired up Notebook, which ran perfectly.

I would say that Notebook running wild under Unity is a major bug that should be addressed by Smart.  I don’t think they will; the latest Notebook for Linux is 11, and the Windows version is 16.

Regardless, my favorite teacher likes the new computer, is comfortable with Linux, and likes that the new machine can run SmartBoard programs, annotate documents, and all the other cool stuff that SmartBoards can do.  She can also play YouTube videos and stream PBS and news programs for her kids to watch thanks to the zippy new computer.

So I’m calling Linux on SmartBoards a win overall.  Next, I will deploy Linux on the curernt machine on another SmartBoard (a GX270) and see if performance is better than the XP that’s currently on that one.

Kinda Sad Observation

4 December 2016

I have some long-time friends that are nice to have around, most of the time.

Then there are the times they are just jerks.

It used to be for very short times, but the durations are getting longer.

Sigh.

I actually feel sorry for them.

Post-Election Not Quite What I Hoped For

15 November 2016

I’m frankly horrified by the outcome of the election.

The worst thing to me is the continuing level of vitriol directed at liberals, the Clintons, and the Obamas by Trump supporters.

One thing about the election:  it has shown me who the worst in America are.  Unfortunately, I know a lot of these people personally. The basket of deplorables are basket cases.

Looking Ahead To Post-Election

3 November 2016

I posted this as my Facebook status a while ago:

Oklahoma voting starts today!

I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. She has policies that I like across the board. She will appoint progressive Supreme Court justices that are pro-people instead of pro-business. She has the proven ability to work in a bipartisan way. She lets science guide policy. She is inclusive to people of all walks of life, including our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. She has the experience to keep our military strong. She is a champion of women and children. She will not work to keep our brothers and sisters of color from participating in the country and having their voices heard. She is not obnoxious. does not fear monger, and lives in a world that is reality-based. In spite of the avalanche of BS constantly thrown her way, she has kept to the high road with grace and dignity. She is uniquely qualified, and will do a fine job as President for all Americans.

There were some comments, pro and anti, not unexpected.  You will note that what I wrote above is all pretty much pro-Clinton, as opposed to anti-Trump, and that’s quite deliberate (I could write at least as much anti-Trump, if I wanted to).

One of my friends posted this as a response, both to my post and another friends comment:

America will survive whoever gets elected. The landscape may change, but we will survive and hopefully do a better job in selecting candidates next election.

I generally agree with this, in particular the first sentence and most of the second.  But I’m less sanguine about what the state of the country will be in the (hoped-for!) Clinton Administration.

In the past couple months, and weeks, I’ve seen a level of vitriol directed against Clinton that I would never have imagined.  One of the worst things I’ve seen is playing up that Bill Clinton has an african-american child by a mistress.  Another is the claim that the election of Clinton is a coup d’etat.  Another claimed that a list of ISIS members who donated to the Clinton campaign was found.  So many small facts have been overblown into supposed major crimes (think the after-the-fact classification of a few emails).  And all of this is on top of many, many made-up posts released for the low-information types to pass around.  A few lawmakers have been talking impeachment already (of course, no grounds for anything like that have been discussed).  And other people in Congress have already started talking about endless investigations, never confirming any SCOTUS appointments, and more obstructive inaction.

All of this I find really bothersome.  It’s a rejection of the Constitution by conservatives. It is continued attempts to de-legitimize any Democrat office holder. It’s cowardly.

I am generally all for a multi-party system of government.  But right now, I hope that not only does Clinton win the White House, but at least Democrats take the Senate, and for good measure, the House as well. Getting the do-nothing Republicans out of there will at least let some progress be made on solving or mitigating the problems this country has, which the Republicans have no plan to even address, much less solve.

I’m Tired Of Hearing About Clinton’s Emails, Also

29 October 2016

So that’s something else I share with Bernie Sanders.

As I’ve said many times, the Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, had no policy to compete against Hillary Clinton.  They have been desperately searching for something that looks like dirt on her to try to salvage the Presidential election.

So she ran a private email server, while she was SecState.  Various investigations show no violation of the law.

At some point, the FBI found more emails on a computer used by one of her aides.

That set off howls of outrage among the low-information set that is devoted to Trump and the sickly remains of the Republican Party.  In less than a couple hours, I’ve seen memes fed to those low-info types that howl that the “missing 30,000 emails were found” and “there was classified information that is a danger to the country”.  Pence got on Chris Matthews show and was allowed to run at the mouth for almost five minutes, bitching about how bad the emails were, and being given the opportunity to spout mindless talking points.  The same on CNN and Fox, a bunch of free advertising.

But little intelligent discussion about the actual effect.  What is most likely is that the emails in question are copies of some or most of the emails already looked at, since the computer in question has already been identified at getting messages from the server in questions.

The FBI (the Director, I would guess) seriously screwed up by stirring up the situation without having any indication of any new information.

Regardless, it all comes down to the fact that Trump and the Republicans still don’t have policy to run on.  Unless one of the magic emails is found to have a true national security impact, Clinton will be elected.

Republicans need to grow up to be a real party again, or they will be gone in a couple years.

Backpacking from Mt. Magazine to Cove Lake, AR, 21-23 Oct 2016

25 October 2016

The High Adventure Team (HAT) of Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma had a really nice beginner/intermediate backpacking trip between Mount Magazine and Cove Lake, AR, last weekend.

Photos from the trip are here on my Google+ site.

Summary, 10.8 miles over two days, with about 1400 ft of altitude loss, and short gains, with mostly contouring.

We headed out from OKC around 1630 and got to Cove Lake around 1930.  It was dark, but the Scouts got tents and hammocks up very quickly.  We sat around talking for a while, and looked at the beautiful dark sky with the Milky Way perfectly clear.  Off to the east, we watched the Pleiades, followed by Sirius, and there was a glow on the horizon that was the Moon about to peek over. We saw a couple satellites.  One thing, there was some sort of bio-luminescent critter in the lake that glowed like a firefly.

The next morning, we got up, had breakfast, and packed up.  We drove up to the Corley trailhead to do a water recon and see if there was a good campsite around the halfway point of the trail, but didn’t really see either.  We decided on a clearing that had been recently cut near a natural gas facility.

A note on those.  We saw three others just like the one I reference above.  A natural gas pipe facility, and very nearby, an acre or more of trees are just bulldozed down with a rough road cut.  I figured they were for parking heavy machinery somehow used by the gas company.

Regardless, after our recon we drove up to Mt. Magazine, visited the visitor center, and went to the trailhead.  We had one vehicle shuttle to do, and we hit the trail.

Two things about this five-mile hike.  It’s a long way down (more than 1200 ft), and there is no water along the way, except in one pond we hiked next to.  There were several nice campsites (I waypointed them on my GPS, and you can see them on the terrain plot on the Google+ site).  Note that the campsites, except the one that was near the pond, had NO water nearby.  There were a number of streambeds that we crossed, but dry.

As we got closer to the five-mile halfway point, we noticed a number of good campsites. There was a decent one about 200 yards south of a point where the trailed joined up with a road for a short distance.  Gutter Rock Creek is a decent-sized streambed several hundred yards SW along that road, but again, it was dry.  Our campsite was in a stand of pine trees, and the trunks were perfect for our hammock hangers, and the copious pine needles were a thick and very comfortable bed for our tenters.  There were lots of rocks to sit on and cook on.

The next morning, we got up and had breakfast and headed out earlier than the previous day.  We had about another five miles to go to get back to Cove Lake. Once you get on the short stretch of gravel road, you find a new trail, with both the road and new trail heading steadily but not steeply up.  You level out at the Corley trailhead.  There is a sign there that points down the road, but the actual trail is west of the trailhead; exit the trailhead to the NW, and a short spur leads you to the trailhead near the bluff.

As you hike along to the north, you shortly come to the best view on the trail, that looks back at Mt. Magazine to the south.

The remainder of the trail contours or gently slopes down.  About a half mile from the Cove Lake trailhead, we crossed one stream with decent water in it, and then Cove Creek, with a LOT of water in it.  There were lots of campsites along the bluff with the good view, or in the forest as you get near Cove Lake, but most of them are dry.

This was a nice backpack, easy on our newbies, with decent views to reward our effort. 90% of the hike was in shade.

mtmagazine_terrainmtmagazine_altitude

Two More Bad Things About Conservatives and the 2016 Election

18 October 2016

First, there is far too much talk about the election being “rigged” by Mr. Trump.  He is deservedly far behind, and getting further behind, and good for that.  But to call the election system, spread across 50 states + DC + the territories, as subject to widespread fraud, is just not true.

To keep saying that there is widespread fraud (which Republicans have been using as an excuse for several years as a voter suppression tool) is antithetical to the values this country is built on.

The only actual cases of election rigging in the past couple decades were wrought by REPUBLICANS in state legislatures that used gerrymandering.  Not so coincidentally, those were largely the same legislatures that promulgated voter suppression laws requiring voters to have an ID, restricting early voting, and eliminating same-day voter registration, among other tactics.

Second, Senator John McCain, announced (although he supposedly walked it back) that he would not allow a vote on ANY SCOTUS nominees put forward by President Hillary Clinton.  How the principled have chucked off those principles.  Mr. McCain has been on a downward slide of peeling off his integrity since the last election.  In exactly the same vein as Donald Trump, Mr. McCain decided that for political expediency, he would just say “f*k it all” with regards to the Constitution.

Trump and McCain share one pitiful thread here:  complete disregard for the Constitution of this country.

Just for the record, I hope they both lose, and in a landslide.

What Really Frightens Me About The 2016 Presidential Election

10 October 2016

I have been saying for some time that it would be very difficult for Hillary Clinton to lose the Presidential election this time around.  It was clear to me that her policies and temperament were far superior to those Republicans that were running.  I was far more worried about Marco Rubio than any of the rest.

So now, here we are after the second Presidential debate.  FiveThirtyEight.com has Clinton with an 83.5% change of winning, and that’s before the second debate results are known. Clinton is on the rise, and Trump not.  It’s likely the effect of the second debate will accelerate that.

I’m not worried about Clinton being President.

But something else does worry me greatly.  In the past, we’ve had right-wing and left-wing kooks, people who take it too far.  We’ve had the militia groups that were convinced that some sort of apocalypse was coming, and we’ve had environmental groups that wanted to stop lumber cutting or development.  But those types of people were always a small part of the population; a very small part.  I’ve seen numbers that say there are 10,000-50,000 militia members in the country, but that’s 0.015% of the total population.  Even if the numbers were 100 times greater, it’s less than 2%.  A small number of people.  The lefties are even smaller in number, I would guess.

So, from 1992, you have had the Republican Party, at the national level, moving from campaigns based on just patriotism (Bush 41), to fear (Bush 43), to minimal policy (Romney), to no-policy (Trump), with increasing mendacity starting with Romney.

That leads us to now.  Trump issues lies and less-than-truths at a rate not seen yet.  He has two main policy concepts:  controlling immigration and immigrants to keep them from murdering/raping/robbing US citizens; and tax cuts, specified as being significant.

Now, you can argue the merits of these to for a long time (well, not really a long time), and after that you can look at the rest of Trump:  mostly, attacks against policies that Clinton proposes or has otherwise laid out.  Much of what Trump attacks isn’t those policies (as it is abundantly clear that if you are going to argue policy, you need policy of your own to counter with). Trump instead takes the route of attacking stuff that he (or people he talks to) perceive to be bad.  For example, Clinton’s emails.  He wants to see a bunch of deleted emails labeled by Clinton as personal, and the fact they are missing is clearly a smoking gun for something is an article of faith for conservatives.  On the other hand, Trump hasn’t released any emails (or his tax returns, for that matter).

Which brings me to what bothers me.  Throughout the end of the primary campaign to now, Trump has had a voting block of roughly 40% of voters no matter what.  Applying that to the voter population translates out to between 50M – 87M people supporting Trump (the numbers are somewhat amorphous, as do you count actual voters, registered voters, or eligible voters?).

That, to me, means millions of people who support a candidate who is a serial liar, abuser of women, will not come straight with what he wants to do with/to the country in large part, and perhaps worst of all, has no interest in longstanding policy and history in the country of two-party rule.  People he, and his allies, have deliberately scared for months, and furthermore these are people who have little apparent interest in finding out the truth about either their candidate, or Clinton (think about the chants of “lock her up”, when the question “for what” isn’t even raised).

What are those people going to do when he loses?  They obviously have a lot of pent-up rage.  How will it be expressed?  What will Republicans, who created Trump with their do-nothing policy, do if that group turns physically against the country?

When Obama was elected, the number of militia groups, which had ticked up when Bill Clinton was President, then down during Bush 43, rose again.  The reasons were simple, that fear of losing guns or religion, and loss of white control.

I’m concerned we will see more terrorism.  The roots are there:  people driven by base fears, stoked by perceived leaders like Trump, or the Breitbart people, or Hannity, will react the way other uneducated people have done in the Middle East and elsewhere.

And those people will never question why they are scared in the first place.

The Whole Republican Problem in One Sentence

9 October 2016

I was watching Meet The Press this morning, and the feckless Mike Lee was being interviewed by Chuck Todd.  Lee is one of the problems with the Republican Party.

He made a statement that sums up why Republicans can’t go away fast enough:

“That’s what unites us more than anything else as Republicans is the fact that the Washington political establishment is broken and Hillary Clinton needs to be defeated.” – Mike Lee

The Republican Party is not united by any common policy, or support for the middle class, or anything else like that.

Take a closer look at the first part (the second part is just stupid and not worth consideration):  The fact (questionable) that the Washington political establishment is broken is an indictment of all national level politicians, including Republicans.  I think that the vast majority of the cause of the breakage is Republicans, starting with Gingrich in the early 90s, to the policy of total obstruction by Boehner/McConnell now (Lee is a large part of that, as well).

The entire Republican Party at the national level is based on cowardice.  The playing to the fear of low-information voters is part of that cowardice.

Backpacking and Hiking Glacier National Park, MT, 16-23 September 2016

2 October 2016

Summary

50+ miles walking in Glacier National Park, MT, with an early departure due to lousy weather to see the Park.  Massive views otherwise, a lot of critters and critter signs, amazing lakes.

The photos for the trek are on Google+ here.

Want to go back already!

Getting There

I’ve been putting in for backcountry permits at Glacier for the past couple years, and this year we finally hit one in the lottery, with an itinerary Clark had submitted.  I quickly found out that United or Delta were my only choices for flying into Kalispell, MT, which was the closest airport to the Park.  $550 later, I was ready to go.

The team had decided to get to the Park a couple days early and dayhike, so we all came in for Friday.  Chuck and I headed out from OKC way early, and in Denver we had a delay due to an airplane problem after we launched for Kalispell.  The flight between DEN-FCA was stunning, we flew over East Yellowstone.  I will put up a separate blog post for that.  We got in about 1115, picked up Clark and Jason in Kalispell and had lunch, then headed to the Park.

Jason had found a very nice house that would sleep us all at Glacier Guides.  We dropped out stuff there on the way to the Park.

Dayhiking

We had a total of 17.58 miles dayhiking over three days.

First, we headed up to Avalanche Lake.  We were amazed that in late September, the trailhead parking was full, and then some.  There was construction going on the boardwalk part of the trail.  The trail up to the Lake was pretty easy, and there were a TON of people going up there.  We were on the trail from 1415 to 1700.  The trail starts on the Trail Of The Cedars, which is a loop boardwalk trail.  At several points you are treated to small cascades on Avalanche Creek.  Once at the Lake, you immediately transition from woods to a majestic wall around the south end of the Lake that had three ribbon waterfalls coming down a couple thousand feet. Photos were taken in quantity.  We hiked along the lakeshore, alternating between river rock and bigger rock hopping.  We got about halfway along the shore when we decided that it was getting dark, so we headed back.  We found a trail to the main trail; if we had realized that trail was there we would have made better time and more progress to the head of the Lake.

This hike was 5.86 miles roundtrip, and about 650 ft of altitude gain.  Highly recommended.

avalanche_lake

Saturday, we started the day by hiking a loop trail that ran by Sacred Dancing Cascade and McDonald Falls.  This was a pretty flat trail for the most part, except the part that goes by John’s Lake, where you get a little up.  The woods on the north side of McDonald Creek were deep and dark.  The Falls were very pretty, I climbed down about 30 ft to get near the surface of the creek.

This hike was 3.03 miles, and had a total of 500 ft of altitude gain, mostly on the south side of Going To The Sun Road to climb up to the Lake.

waterfalls_and_johns_lake

After the loop hike, we headed back into town to pick up Dave, then get lunch, then back into the Park for some more hiking.

This was not so much happy.  We had decided to drive up Going To The Sun Road for the views, and to hike to Hidden Lake.  On the way up, it started to rain, and the wind started to blow, and as we went up, the clouds came down, and in short order we were in a low-visibility situation.  We ended up at the Visitor Center at Logan Pass, looked around a couple minutes, then hitched up our rain gear and headed out.  It was raining, sleeting, and blowing hard enough that a couple times you had to push pretty hard.  The first part of the hike was over tundra, and was on a long boardwalk with occasional trail.  There are some pretty waterfalls to the north.  We got out to the overlook, and looked over a bunch of clouds below us.  We decided that the Lake would not be seen today, and headed back down.

The hike to the Hidden Lake overlook was 2.98 miles, with about 550 ft of up, and then 550 ft of down.

hidden_lake_overlook

We headed back to the house and met up with Lance and Luke, then headed into Columbia Falls for dinner and a grocery run.

The third day, we drove into Whitefish to do a bit of shopping for gear, then headed back into the Park for lunch and another hike.  For this one, we decided to hike up to Fish Lake.  I really wanted to see a moose, and figured that an alpine lake would increase the odds.  This hike was a very straightforward out and back off of GTTS Road, and it had a bit of a climb.  We crossed several streams along the way and back, and had some nice views of Lake McDonald from the trail.

This days hike was 5.65 miles round trip, with a gain and loss of about 1,200 ft.

fish_lake

After our hike, we returned to the house for some home-cooked spaghetti and meat sauce with garlic bread, and final packing for departure the next morning.

We had been checking the weather.  The next two days were nice, with rain predicted for Wednesday afternoon, and snow Thursday and Friday.  Snow was predicted for the southeast side of the park, which is very high.  We went into the Backcountry Office and talked with them about routing, and made a change to reflect a route I had tried for the previous two years, modified to a different camp site for Thursday evening.

Backpacking

Day 1

We had a really good breakfast before leaving, and got out of the house around 0900.  It was steadily raining (the forecast notwithstanding), and the drive on GTTS Road had not really improved view-wise.  On the other side, we broke out in sunshine (mostly), and turned north at Babb for the trailhead, near Chief Mountain very near the Canadian border.

We managed to hit the trail around 1030 after the drive in.  It was a perfect day to hike, with temps in the 60s, with the only downer a very stiff wind blowing into our faces.  We hiked along until around 1300, when we found a place that was both in the sun and in the lee of the wind behind some trees.  Lunch was very good!

The trail was well worn along here, although a bit narrow, and after a good descent from the trailhead, mostly flat.  We passed a Ranger station with about seven horses that watched us pass.  At this point, we started back into trees, and bounced up and down quite a bit.  We crossed the Belly River on a suspension bridge, ran into and talked to a Ranger, and hike along in pretty good shape.  We had the threat of rain but never really got any.

An unexpected surprise was a beautiful waterfall along the way.  Dawn Mist Falls is about 100ft high and was thundering and stunning.  If you miss the turnoff for the foot of the Falls, you get a good view from an overlook.

We motored into camp at the bottom of Elizabeth Lake around 1645.

We had secured food storage boxes at Elizabeth Lake, and an outhouse.  After storing our food bags in the boxes, we set up camp, and came back for dinner.

Glacier is sorta different in the food area.  There is a food area, and you are required to do all cooking and eating there.  The food area is very nice, with logs to sit on, and upended logs to use for tables.

I had Backpackers Pantry Santa Fe Chicken and Rice for dinner, with a couple cups of chicken noodle soup, and it was great.

It was around 50F when we got into camp, and in the mid-40s at bed time.

Our day was 10.3 miles.  Once you lose about 770 ft from the trailhead, you have a net gain of around 300 ft of climb by the time you get to camp, but the actual gain is probably 1000 ft by the time you factor in a number of intermediate bump ups (and downs).

Day 2

It was 38F when we got up.  Rather, it was 38F when *I* got up :).  The rest of the crew was up around 0700, I struggled out at 0830.  Oh well, I didn’t hold the group up, I got my tent down and stuff packed up when everyone else was ready, and I used a bit of existing hot water to make some hot chocolate.  I ate my breakfast (a bag of Frosted Flakes and a package of blueberry Pop Tarts) as we hiked along.

We headed down the trail towards Helen Lake.  The trail follows the north side of Elizabeth Lake, and contours up and down quite a bit below a cliff that feeds a number of small waterfalls.  There were a lot of sheep and goats up there.

We got to the head of Elizabeth Lake and took a break at the camp there.  The trail continued on towards Helen Lake, climbing steadily but gently.  We found a very pretty waterfall and decided to stop there and have lunch under a beautiful blue sky, with all that mountain around us.  After lunch, we continued up the trail, going another 150 grueling yards until we found the Helen Lake campsite :).  This site had a tall bar installed for hanging food bags.  We did so, set up tents, and relaxed.  We had this site to ourselves.  It was 5 miles and a net gain of just over 200 ft altitude at this point.

One of the highlights of the hike to Helen as seeing the dramatic Old Sun Glacier and a large Yosemite-class waterfall off to the north.

After a bit of resting, we went off on a dayhike.  There were trails heading south of the camp that looked promising, right up to the point that we were in an impenetrable network of brush.  There were lots of berries in there, and we wondered if bears were also.  We retreated and tried the shoreline, but no luck there.  So we headed to the north side.  We tried low first, then went a little higher and found a way through.  We contoured steadily up, and as Sun was starting to get close to Ahern Mountain to the west, we stopped and admired the lake below us, the snowfields to the west, the waterfalls across the lake, and Ahern Glacier above.  We headed back after a bit.  This hike was 2 miles total, and got us about 1/3 of the way along the lake shore.  We also had another 200 ft of altitude gain to get us above the lake.  If I get back there, I will make it a point to get up the lake farther.

Dinner for me was Mountain House Chili Mac, and it was very good.

Our total for the day was 7 miles, and about 400 ft of altitude gain.

Day 3

We awoke to a very overcast sky.  I had oatmeal and hot tea for breakfast.  The temp was 43F.  We couldn’t see any of the mountains around us, the clouds were only a couple hundred feet over our heads.  We headed out at 0830, back towards the tail end of Lake Elizabeth.  Again, it was a nice walk to get there.  It rained on us several times on the way.  We got into camp just afternoon, unpacked the food, set up the tents, and had lunch.  It continued to rain on and off, and the last temperature I checked, it was 45F.

We knew the trail we were taking Thursday started right out of camp on a suspension bridge over the Belly River, and we had been told by the Backcountry Office the bridge would be removed at some point this week.  A couple of us walked over there after lunch, and sure enough, the bridge was gone.  The suspension cables were there, but the deck was stacked up nearby.  A trail crew was busy building a new bridge approach.  They pointed us a bit upstream at a horse ford that was about three feet deep as a place to cross the next morning.  I note that I measured the water temp a bit later at 53F.

We also got a weather update from the trail crew.  The weather was deteriorating, with heavy rain expected were we were, starting later that afternoon, and several inches of sleet and snow higher.  Well…  The next day, we were headed 2000ft higher.  Most importantly, the clouds were going to stay right where they were, and the highs the next couple days were in the mid 30s where we were, and so quite colder 2000ft higher.

We kicked it around as a team.  One option was wading the stream, and taking an intermediate trail that went through Ptarmigan Tunnel, then into Many Glacier.  It was only a 1200 ft climb, but we would end up five miles from our shuttle car.  We could also just escape out the way we came.  We settled on that option.  Then it was noted that it was 1415, and we really couldn’t hike anywhere else, and it was a long time until sunset. So we modified the option, packed up, and headed out about 1515.

There isn’t a lot to say about this day.  The trail was a muddy, disgusting slog due to all the rain.  We had just eaten a good lunch and had a good rest after the five mile walk into camp, and it was mostly down, so we burned along.  We saw a lot of tracks, and a live moose, which was very cool.  Near dusk, we got to the last hill that climbed up to the parking lot.  We all slowed down some on that climb, and we got into the parking lot at 1930, just after full dark.  We had some tired legs.  In all, we walked 10 miles in 5 hr 30 min, which is 1.8 mph sustained, with backpacks.  Not bad.

In all, we hiked 14.8 miles that last day, with 600 ft of altitude loss over the first 13 miles, with an 800 ft gain over the last 1.8 miles.

As you might expect, the decision to abort the second backpacking trip due to weather while on the trail really bugged me.  It was the right decision, given that we had a likelihood of having trouble finding the trail on a high ridge, socked in, with a couple inches of snow.  The overriding thing was not being able to see mountains, which was the entire point of being up there.

The trail:  it was a muddy, disgusting mess.  All of our boots, and our rain pants, and some of our jackets, were covered in mud.  It really made the hike a lot harder, due to slipping around.

Regardless, we got to the parking lot, loaded up in the Suburban, and drove to East Glacier, where some good staff support work by Gayle found the team some very nice (overheated!) rooms at a local place, where we could spread out our wet tents and stuff to dry overnight.

We were so sweaty and wet, that not only did every window in the car fog up, the plastic covering the dash instruments fogged up also.

Critters

We saw quite a lot of wildlife, and signs of others.  We saw deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, fox, moose, a number of ducks and waterbirds, and elk while out on the trail.  We saw paw and hoof prints from elk and moose, bear, lynx, and cougar.  There was quite a lot of bear scat seen.  I would like to see a brown bear in the wild, maybe next time.

Water

We had no issues with water.  Even when we were not walking by lakes or camping by lakes, there were plenty of streams crossing the trail, and most of them could be pumped from.

Altitude

Glacier is a lot lower than Rocky Mountain NP, or some of the stuff we have hiked in New Mexico.  This is a plot of the altitudes of the various walks we did.  Note that when I moved the GPS track data over to LibreOffice, I swapped the order of the John’s Lake and Hidden Lake plots.

glacier-hikes-altitude

Getting Home

While we were at breakfast Thursday morning, we all checked on flights, and decided that a departure that afternoon would work.  We drove around the south end of the Park, looking at the clouds covering up the mountains. We drove into Whitefish and walked around downtown for a while after lunch, then headed to FCA.  We had some issues with incoming flights at FCA, which caused all five of us to miss our connections, which were the last ones of the evening, so we were all put up in hotels overnight.  Friday morning (after seeing one of the longest security lines I’ve ever seen), we all got out and home.

Gear Notes

My fully loaded pack, for five days, was 29 lbs.  My Helium 55 held all my gear internally (but it was tight!), and the pack rode well.

Food was good.  I almost forgot to get soup, but found some at our last stop before the trailhead.  Raegan had helped me by taking my two-person dinners and cutting them by half for the trail.

I needed to have replaced my water pump filter before heading out on this trip.  A new one is on the way right now.

My clothing was a good mix.  I would get into camp, put up the tent, and immediately put on my base layer and other long sleeved stuff, and I was warm enough.  I took a fleece jacket that I wore under my Frog Togg rain jacket.

Looking Ahead

I still have not walked on a glacier.  After hiking and backpacking on this trip, I think that I will aim at the trail in the Gunsight Pass area to try to get to Jackson or Sperry Glacier, or focus on dayhiking out of Many Glacier.

Trump Supporters and Scurrilous BS

1 October 2016

So I have posted before about the mystery of why Trump supporters like the guy, when he is a serial liar and has no policy.

But I’ve also been noting a raft of memes that Trump supporters just mindlessly repost.

While in Montana, and then again last night here in Oklahoma, the NRA is running an ad that claims that Clinton wants to take away the ability of Americans to own a handgun. They illustrate this with a woman (white, of course) hearing a noise, leaping out of bed, calling 911, then while she is opening a locked gun safe to get a pistol, the safe and pistol disappear while the ominous narrator states that Hillary Clinton wants to take away the ability of people to have self defense.  It’s bullshit, of course, but I guess the NRA knows the easily scared will believe it.

Another meme (several, actually) purport to convince people that Clinton has had people killed.  I saw another one of those this evening on Facebook.

Several posts today ask why Lester Holt didn’t ask Clinton about several topics, including Benghazi.  I would wonder why Trump didn’t bring that up if he thought it was important, but given that even the Gowdy Witch Hunt Committee finally admitted there wasn’t anything there, maybe news people realize that questions about Benghazi are no longer newsworthy.

Another one claims that the Director of the FBI asked for immunity with regards to the Clinton email investigation; I would have thought that would be explosive, but more likely it’s just crap, and so some conservative somewhere once again made stuff up out of whole cloth, and some people just fell for it.  If you have to make stuff up, your party is not worth a damn.

Another easily debunked post purports to show Hillary Clinton with Osama Bin Laden. Again, if your party has to do stuff like that, your party sucks.

I just don’t get it.  Republicans have drained money to the wealthy, and the easily scared have let them do it, while being led around by fear. The demographics of the country are inexorably changing, and at some point in the next cycles they will lose all relevancy.  I just hope the damage they cause will be minimized.

Trump and Being Thin-Skinned

30 September 2016

I listened to the first debate between Clinton and Trump, and it pretty much affirmed what I have been thinking, and why I will vote for Clinton.  For the most part, Clinton talked about policy, and Trump about generalities, while he lied flat-out many times, compared to Clinton on a couple occasions using weasel words.

But one thing thing I am fairly amazed by.  When Clinton pulled out the accusation involving Alicia Machado, I thought it was a great example of a debater laying in wait with a very strong example to prove a point (and Trump asking the completely non-relevant “where did you find her” was a very poor response on his part).  But now, days later, Trump is just on a tear, on constant attack about Ms. Machado.

I presume that the Clinton campaign was smart enough to vet the accusations made by Ms. Machado.  I have read numerous articles quoting Trump saying more uncomplimentary things about her weight, her personality, and how somehow he was able to persuade the pageant organization to not fire her.  But he has also attacked her for being in a “sex tape” (which does not exist, according to snopes.com).

It makes me wonder just how insecure he is to do that.  I would have thought that he/his campaign would have refuted the claims if possible.  After all, his opponent in the race is Hillary Clinton, not Ms. Machado.  Or maybe he could have tried to claim that Clinton dug up old stuff, and he could trot out some examples of women saying how nice he is.

And to make it worse, at the very least he appears to be lying (again) while attacking (the “sex tape”).

I continue to be astounded that so many people support this very poor candidate. Republicans have been dumping policy in favor of symbolism since the 1990s, and it has naturally devolved into scaring the easily led.

Trump is a new low in mendacity, but it really does not seem to dissuade his followers.

Some Good Android Connectivity

28 September 2016

Last week, I was in Glacier National Park. I had traveled up there pretty light electronics-wise. I had my Galaxy Tab S2 and my S6 phone with me, and that was about it.

It occurred to me that I had checked the memory use of the phone, and it had about 18GB of pictures on it, out of 32GB. The tablet had about 4GB used of the internal 32GB, and another 16GB unused in an SD card. I didn’t want to run out of space, so I really wanted to transfer the photos from the phone to the tablet. I didn’t have any cables, but I remembered that both had Bluetooth, and that Bluetooth could be used to transfer files.

I talked to Jason, who told me that once the devices were connected, there was a Share With… option. I turned on BT for both, paired them, then fired up the Gallery picture file app on the phone, and there was a Share option, which when pressed came up with the tablet. I highlighted all of the photos and started the share. The first time failed to transfer anything for some reason, but I tried again, and both the phone and the tablet put up status banners “Sharing xxx file of xxx via Bluetooth”.

It took about two hours to transfer the 1500 photos from the phone to the tablet (a little slower than I thought it would be). I just let the devices sit overnight. The next morning, I turned off Bluetooth on both, then looked around on the tablet, and after a bit of looking sure enough there were the photos.

I deleted the photos on the phone (always a bit nerve-inducing), and went off tot he trail knowing I wouldn’t run out of space for photos.

I just looked at a couple discussions of file transfer rates:

Bluetooth: 2Mbps
USB 2: 480Mbps
WiFi (N): varies 7 – 72Mbps

It’s apparent that USB would be the way to go, if you have cables. I may have to experiment a bit, since I’ve got a lot of pictures on the phone again :).

Getting A New Passport

9 September 2016

I’m getting close to heading to a life-list backpacking trip to Glacier National Park. One of the things the crew decided to do was go up into Waterton, Canada, for a day.

My passport expired more than 10 years ago, so I would have to get it renewed. A quick perusal of the Department of State website told me I was right on the edge of being able to get the passport in time for the trip. I was frankly dreading the process. I downloaded the application, filled it out, and used the website to find out that post offices were able to accept the applications. I also noted that a FedEx Kinkos near work would take the photos. I called the post office to find out if I needed to go anywhere in particular, and was told no, just the main line. I mentioned I would head that way after I got my photo, and the guy said come on down, they take them right there in the post office.

So I headed downtown, fully expecting a hellish experience.

I walked in, and walked out 15 minutes later, done. Hellish, not so much. The post office people looked at the departure date on the application, and suggested overnighting the app to the State Department, and overnighting it back. It added about $40 to the cost. They took the photo (with a handheld camera), printed two copies of the photo, checked my ID and birth certificate, packaged it all up and off it went. The only weird thing, the State Department only wants a money order for their fee, but the post office people printed a money order right there using my debit card (why not a credit card, who knows?).

I did this on a Friday, 26 August, and it was accepted by the DoS in New York on Saturday.

So a week passed, and we took a trip over Labor Day weekend to Arkansas. We got in late Saturday, and checked the mail, and there was the passport, one week and one day turnaround.

So that’s pretty darn efficient. I am surprised and pleased by how well both the Post Office and DoS handled this.

Now, I’m just waiting for being off to Montana, then Canada.

Emily’s Restaurant, Pinellas Park, FL

9 September 2016

Emily's Family Restaurant III Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had breakfast at Emily’s this morning. Again, I got there about 0720 and it was empty.

I thought I would have another skillet. This one was PERFECT. Again, ham and sausage and cheese (grated, this time). The potatoes were thin sliced (like I would get in a potato casserole in Omaha), and they were cooked up just right. This one had a layer of sausage gravy between the meats and the eggs, and the combination of flavors was fantastic! This thing was right on the edge of eat-it-until-I-explode territory, it was that good.

The meal came with an excellent biscuit that hosted strawberry jam. The iced tea was great, service was extraordinarily friendly, and my check was $10.60. That may have been the best skillet meal I’ve had, anywhere. Great stuff, highly recommended.

Peter’s Family Restaurant, Largo, FL

9 September 2016

Peters Family Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I had breakfast at Peter’s Wednesday morning. I got there about 0730 and it was pretty much empty. It’s another in the plethora of family restaurants in the area.

I had a country skillet. Now, I like skillet meals as they are usually just a mess of flavors, and that’s a Good Thing. 🙂 This one was advertised as having green peppers, but I asked for them to be not there, and they weren’t. The rest of the meal was some home fries, ham, onion, sausage, and cheese, with a couple eggs (over easy). Two things that were kind of odd, the cheese was a couple slices of American laid on top of the mound of other stuff, right under the eggs, and the sausage was basically links that had been cut up. I’m a bit particular, but I like my sausage as ground up and cooked in with the meal, and I prefer shredded cheese. Beyond my whining about that, it was a pretty good skillet. As is my custom, I cut up the eggies so that the yolks ran down into the mess of food. It was very good.

The meal came with some wheat toast, that hosted some grape jelly. I had some decent iced tea to drink. Service was very friendly. The place was uncrowded (more like mostly empty), so I had time to digest the USA Today while I ate. My check was $9.31. I would happily go back.

Kristina’s Cafe, St. Petersburg, FL

8 September 2016

Kristina's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I’ve mentioned before that the Tampa area is filled with small family restaurants that resemble east coast diners in that they have a huge menu. I visited three of them on this trip, the first one being Kristina’s.

I had the pot roast. It wasn’t what I expected. It was presented as a slab of roast beast, lying on a bed of egg noodles, and with a red sauce with carrots and onions spooned over it. Although it’s not what I expected, it was pretty good.

I had a small bowl of rice pudding for dessert.

Service was very fast and friendly, and the iced tea was good. My check was $10.49. I’d have no problem going back.

Red Mesa Cantina, St. Petersburg, FL

8 September 2016

Red Mesa Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Continuing my current business trip, I had dinner with a group of work friends at Red Mesa. There were 11 of us, and I figured that it would be hours, but I have to say up front that the server was outstanding. I never ran out of iced tea, and stuff got to the table in good time.

That being said, this is not a true Mexican place. It’s more Tex-Mex and stuffy. Regardless, it was good.

I got the table a couple bowls each of refried beans and queso con carne to dip our chips in. The beans needed some salsa added, but the queso was great stuff.

I had a beef burrito, it was filled with shredded barbacoa, cheese, and the like. I gutted it to eat it, and the filling was great stuff, just the right amount of heat, and wonderful flavor.

The iced tea was very good, and kept refilled in spite of the size of our group. Our server, as I mentioned, was very attentive, and we had our orders taken, food dispensed, and checks taken care of very efficiently, and he was a very friendly guy. My check was $47.20, but bear in mind that my meal was actually about $12; the rest of it was the appetizers, and a $6.80 forced gratuity (that I significantly sweeted, I will add, the guy busted his tail). I would go back again. The place was only a couple blocks from my hotel in downtown St. Pete.

Longhorn Steakhouse, Tampa, FL (Westshore)

8 September 2016

LongHorn Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So I am in Florida this week on business, and I had a couple really good meals.

I’m starting with Longhorn. I can count on Longhorn for a decent steak when I don’t want to take a chance. It was even so here.

I had my standby ribeye. It came a perfect medium, and was very tender and flavorful. I had most of a baker with bacon, cheese, and butter. The soup was a bit of a disappointment. I always get the baked potato, but I received some chowder. The correct soup came right before the steak, and the flavor was off. Didn’t really matter, the steak made up for it.

Service was OK. The iced tea was GREAT as always. My check was $23.32. Reliable.

B’s Restaurant, Chandler, OK

8 September 2016

B's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As we headed out of OKC last Friday, we needed dinner, and Chandler was just up the road. B’s is in a hotel right off I-44, nice and close.

Erin had a cheeseburger that seemed to have decent flavor, but it was overcooked a bit and charred. Raegan had catfish, and while she enjoyed it, it was a huge amount of food that she couldn’t finish. I had a ribeye steak that was outstanding. That steak was about 3/4″ thick, perfectly cooked medium, and was darn near fork tender. It was seasoned a bit (they say right on the menu that they love to season), but the seasoning didn’t overwhelm the beef.

Sides were OK. The iced tea was very good, and service was OK overall. Our check was $58.29, that included the very good pecan pie that Raegan had to go, mostly right there in the place :).

Granny’s Kitchen, Huntsville, AR

8 September 2016

Grannys Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

This wasn’t the only restaurant in town (in fact, there are a couple others that look worth checking), but it’s good.

We cruised through Huntsville on the way to the Ozarks last Saturday on our NW Arkansas drive. There’s a creek right below the place that I really liked.

I had chicken fried steak. It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was FAR from the worst. I rated the CFS a 9 out of 10, mainly because a 10 is 100% fork tender and just bursting with flavor. There were a couple tougher places on this one. I had a cup of chili also, it was OK. The green beans and mashers with gravy were OK.

But… Raegan and Erin got pulled pork sandwiches. Oh my gosh, that was the best pulled port I’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, I got to eat about a third of Erins sammich. Wow, that stuff was tender and had amazing flavor. I liked the fries as well.

The iced tea was excellent, and the service was very friendly. Our check was $41.56. Good stuff.

Roma Italian Restaurant, Harrison, AR

8 September 2016

Hot dang, I’m at TPA early, and they have desks with power and good WiFi, so I’m going to play catch-up on some restaurant posts!

Roma Italian Ristorante & Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Raegan and Erin and I did some very relaxed driving through Northwest Arkansas last weekend, and we had a good dinner the second night in Harrison. The front desk person recommended Roma (not Roma’s), it was a good recommendation.

First of all, Roma is one of the Stealthy Chain Of Italian Restaurants That Is Not A Chain. The giveaway Spaghetti The Works was on the menu.

We got there about 1840 and the place was not even close to crowded.  I had Spaghetti the Works.  Aside from the fact that the marinara was a little more orange than I’ve experienced at the other places, it was perfect, a big pile of noodles and a ton of meat sauce, mushrooms, and a very good meatball.  Raegan had manicotti and Erin had chicken fettuccine al fredo.  All were outstanding.  We had the usual table bread, and some of that outstanding al fredo to dip the bread in, and it was just great.

Service was friendly and just right.  Our check was $50.30.  You probably can’t do better for Italian, or much better for anything else in Harrison.

Where I Stand On the 2016 Oklahoma State Questions

31 August 2016

These are the initiatives currently on the ballot, along with how I will vote on each, and why.  I took the text describing each initiative from Balletpedia.

If any others are added, I will endeavor to add them here.

State Question 776 was designed to assert that all methods of execution shall be constitutionally allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution, and designated statutorily by the legislature.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  I have been a capital punishment supporter pretty much all my life.  OTOH, I have changed my opinion over the past couple years, with the large number of people freed from death sentences following DNA testing and other advances in crime science, along with the appalling race bias in the courts.  I am of the opinion that the standard for capital punishment should change from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “proven”, given that capital punishment is something that can’t be recovered from once it is applied.  Until then, I oppose any loosening of the ability for states to ease execution.  The disgraceful rush to kill exhibited in Oklahoma over the past couple years is a good enough reason to keep the brakes on.

State Question 777 was designed to establish a constitutional guarantee for farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  This looks to extend extra protections to farmers that would essentially make them unregulated or less able to be regulated.  Since unregulated farming has made huge messes (think chicken farms in Arkansas or hog farms in Oklahoma), they clearly need the scrutiny.

State Question 779 was designed to increase the state sales tax by one percent to generate revenue for education funding.

My take:  I will vote YES on this, under protest.  The protest is that this is yet another state question that is required because the Oklahoma State Legislature will not do the job the Legislators swore they would do.  Specifically, fund education.  One difference is that this measure is not on the ballot by the Legislature, but in spite of it.

State Question 780 was designed to reclassify certain property offenses and simple drug possession misdemeanor crimes.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  I do wish that the felony limits on theft of personal property were left at $500 instead of $1000, but overall, this looks like better use of prison resources.

State Question 781 was designed to use money saved by reclassifying certain property and drug crimes as misdemeanors outlined in State Question 780 to fund rehabilitative programs.

My take:  I will vote YES on this as well.

State Question 790 was designed to repeal Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which prohibits public money from being spent for religious purposes.

My take:  I will vote NO on this.  If they had a way, I would vote HELL NO ( 🙂 ).  This is an attempt by the Legislator and Governor (all Republican controlled, it should be noted) to pander to Christians and try to get a monument to Deuteronomy 5:4–21 placed back on the state capitol grounds, Establishment Clause be damned.  We’ve had too much in the way of enshrining religious practice in law in the country, and this state, and I hope this is not approved.  I do think that if it is, it will be found un-Constitutional in Federal court.

State Question 792 was designed to allow grocery stores and convenience stores to sell full-strength beer and wine.

My take:  I will vote YES on this.  There isn’t any good reason for alcohol drinks to only be sold in liquor stores.  Sounds like a chance for good, healthy competition to me.  Next, lets’s open it up to all booze, and let’s see it sold on Sunday (and Election Day, if that’s still not legal).  It’s done that way in numerous states, and they haven’t seen any moral collapse.

El Sombrero Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK (N. May)

31 August 2016

El Sombrero Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I noticed this restaurant a couple months ago but haven’t had a chance to try it until this past evening. There have been a number of these in the OKC area over the past couple years, in particular one in Midwest City that I liked a lot, but that location closed unexpectedly. I’ve also eaten in a location near Britton and May.

It was very good. Five of us from St. John’s had dinner there last evening. I noted two references on the menu to steak and shrimp guisado dishes. I’m not a huge fan of shrimp, so I asked if they had any non-shrimp guiso and she told me that the Guisado Dinner was beef and potatoes in a green sauce. Sounded pretty good, and it was! The beef was diced up, tender, and the potatoes and guiso mix was the perfect spice level for me. Just outstanding flavor. The meal came with beans and rice, and not a bit was left. Erin reported her enchilada dinner as very good, and Reagan had a chimi in lunch size that she said was OK.

The iced tea was very good and kept refilled. Service was fast and friendly. Our check for three was $35.17. I will happily return for another meal.