Friday, 29 September 2017

08:54 – It was 57.3 (13C) when I took Colin out at 0715, partly cloudy. Barbara is off to the gym and store this morning.

Our weather is starting to get a lot more autumn-like. Most of the leaves are still green, but a lot of them are falling. Our forecast highs over the next week or so are in the 60’s, with lows in the 40’s and high 30’s.

Science kit sales are starting to taper off, as is typical for late September into October. This month’s revenues are just short of last September’s. We’ll probably end up selling only three or four fewer kits this month than a year ago. But this August was considerably bigger than August 2016, so on balance we’re actually doing better than last year.


Embarrassing prepper moment. I called Blue Ridge Co-op a couple days ago and asked them to come out and top off our propane tank. We last had that done back in April, I think, and I was curious to find out how much propane we’d used from our 330-gallon tank to run the cooktop in the intervening five months or so.

As it turned out, the answer was a massive 0.0 gallons. The guy pulled the hose down, but when he checked the overflow valve there was still liquid propane shooting out. So there was no point to even connecting up the filler hose.

I speculate that when they filled the tank in April, the temperatures were enough lower that simple thermal expansion of the liquid propane has accounted for all our usage. With the current higher temperatures, the liquid propane expanded to fill the available volume.

The good news is that my original calculations were apparently correct, although I questioned them at the time as being intuitively ridiculous. I calculated that that 300 gallon tank was sufficient to run our cooktop even under heavy use for between 10 and 14 years. Turns out that was probably a good estimate. So from now on I’ll have it topped off only every year or two.


Colin and I were surprised yesterday morning when we saw Al’s pickup pull into the drive. I guess he was short of things to do, so he drove up here to thin our turnips. He stuck around for an hour or so, thinned the turnips, and then turned around and drove back to Winston.

Our first attempt at turnips, planted this spring, failed miserably. They looked happy enough, but when Barbara pulled the first one it was full of worms. Same for the second, the third, and on and on. We’re hoping this autumn batch will do better.

Speaking of agricultural fails, here it is almost October and we have no apple crop to speak of. Nor any black walnuts. Last year, we had bushels of both. Next year may be a big year or a repeat of this year or something in between. Raising food crops is always a crap shoot.

I’m always puzzled when I hear from preppers who intend to raise their own food in a SHTF situation, but have never actually attempted to grow anything. Folks, that’s not how it works. If you’re counting on growing something, you’d better try it BEFORE you really need it. And even then there’s no guarantee that what works this time will work every time.

I’m also often puzzled by their choices of crops. It sounds like many of them are planning to eat mostly salads. I mean, stuff like lettuce and celery and peppers are fine as minor parts of the harvest, but they aren’t very calorie- and nutrient-dense. The bulk of your crop should be roots/tubers, legumes, and grain crops. Stuff like potatoes, yams, turnips, beets, parsnips, beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, wheat, oats, barley, amaranth, and so on. Stuff that produces large amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and oils. And, most importantly, bulk calories. You can starve to death on celery.

We maintain only a small garden patch. That, and pots on the back deck. Last year and this year have been experimental, finding out what works and what doesn’t. We now know that some crops just don’t work here, notably broccoli. But some flourish, including several types of squash, green beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Tomatoes, onions, and peas do okay. Beets, not so much.

But the point is that we’re finding out what works for us, with our climate and our soil. In a real long-term emergency, we could expand our garden to 100 times or more the size that it is now. There would very likely be scaling issues, but at least we’d have some experience that would allow us to deal with those.

But if you’re a prepper who’s bought a supply of heirloom seeds and just stuck them on the shelf, you’re fooling yourself. You’re not much better off than someone who hasn’t even bought seeds. Thinking and planning is NOT the same as doing.

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71 Responses to Friday, 29 September 2017

  1. ech says:

    But the point is that we’re finding out what works for us, with our climate and our soil.

    Have you talked to the county agriculture extension people? They seem to have good data on what does well in local communities.

  2. ech says:

    When it absolutely, positively has to be there in under an hour. Anywhere on the Earth.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqE-ultsWt0

  3. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Have you talked to the county agriculture extension people? They seem to have good data on what does well in local communities.”

    Yes, and to local gardeners as well. The latter are an excellent source. When we first tried broccoli and failed miserably, I mentioned it to Lori. She said broccoli was famous for not doing very well up here.

  4. SteveF says:

    She said broccoli was famous for not doing very well up here.

    But only since Trump became President, right? Everything bad is his fault. I heard it somewhere, so it must be true.

  5. ech says:

    The broccoli is the fault of George Bush. Under Trump, veggies will be huge and great again!

  6. OFD says:

    Tomatoes did OK for a couple of years here, really great last year, and not so good this year. We think we know how we messed up, though, and will try again next year. Rhubarb has done well so fah. Pumpkins and squash a bust last time we tried them. I’ll be planting garlic soon, and next spring will try to start seedlings early with grow lights.

    I’ll also try to get some root crops going here but am not optimistic, given the lack of space and regular sunlight, so yeah, most of our stuff thus fah is salad- and herb-oriented. We’d have to store bulk foods in the cellar for the time being and also, in a darker future, work something out locally and within walking distance for community gardens, leased garden space, barter, etc.

    And autumn is icumen in…

  7. Harold says:

    RE: Preparing for SHTF survival gardening

    When I was a “survivalist” back in the 70’s we planted about 1/4 acre in corn, beans, potatoes, and other stuff. This was in Oklahoma so regular watering and weeding was a time consuming daily chore. I was in my early 20’s and just keeping that little bit going was WORK. I learned that small subsistence farming without mechanical aid is HARD. Now I am in my 60’s and I know I don’t have the stamina to create and maintain such a garden. It’s one thing to have the seeds and the know-how but if you don’t have the strength it’s not going to work. That’s why the small community approach to prepping is the sensible approach. Us experienced (old) folk can provide the tools and direction to the younger, more physically capable, members.

  8. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “That’s why the small community approach to prepping is the sensible approach. Us experienced (old) folk can provide the tools and direction to the younger, more physically capable, members.”

    +1,000

    That’s my intention. I can be immensely valuable to any group, just not in the sense of doing physical labor. And a lot of my focus is on doing/learning things that make me even more valuable.

  9. Nightraker says:

    “When I was a “survivalist” back in the 70’s we planted about 1/4 acre …”

    Now that’s a serious garden, well worthy of family scale vittles. I’d visualize that as 30 rows by 100 feet. For us ol’ fogeys definitely more ambitious than workable. Still, there are chickens, rabbits, bees and high value herbs that might be more suitable for the less ambitious or just plain less flexible. Plus, compost management or ownership of a walk behind tiller or the supplies to set up aquaculture installs are tradeable skills for a share of the food production where someone else provides the labor.

    But none of that negates the original point that learning and practising the skill(s) now is a jim dandy idea.

  10. OFD says:

    Chickens here maybe if the whole situation continues to deteriorate and no one likely to complain about them in this ‘hood. Beehives also a possibility. And medicinal herbs. I’m also working on the state’s Master Composter certification and after that, Master Gardener.

    Other skillz on the burners involve mesh networking, packet radio, basic gun maintenance and repairs, and counseling those with mental health issues, primarily addictions, which can be at least as destructive as physical impairments. Considering that more may need this help as times get tougher and more of our children and grandchildren arrive home from various wars and/or emergency services activities.

    I’m pretty dahn limited right now in what I can do out there in our yard but intend to make the best of it for now as we ready ourselves for the cold weather ahead, even if I have to sit to do most of it. Such as dumping compost and soil into each raised bed and grow bag and container, assembling more firewood racks, and alternating sitting and standing to finish the rear perimeter fence and load firewood into the cart and onto the racks. Doesn’t take much now, though, to wear me out. I’d stupidly thought I had another ten to twenty years ahead w/o being hobbled like this. Goes to show…

    …but we’ll see what else I can do to improve things. Already lost 40 pounds; could stand to lose another 20, I guess.

  11. lynn says:

    “Readers share before and after Harvey photos”
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-weather/hurricaneharvey/article/Readers-share-before-and-after-Harvey-photos-12239481.php

    And it could have been worse if Harvey went north of Houston instead of south of Houston.

  12. Greg Norton says:

    @RickH:

    All of the pieces arrived yesterday for my home server upgrade. Everything went together without too much trouble, and, after one minor problem corrected by re-seating the RAM, the system booted cleanly into the existing Fedora installed on the hard disk.

    The previous server board was an early Atom, and, with the swap, I got a nice boost in performance without a huge increase in heat, power consumption, or noise. We’ll see if the CPU/board/memory survive the “burn in” time, but I’m very happy with the combination so far.

    What I bought:

    – A6-9500E AMD “Bristol Ridge” APU. $45 from Amazon.
    – ASRock AB350M Pro4. $75 from Newegg
    – 4GB DDR4 2400 memory. $42 from Kingston

    You could probably shave a bit more off the cost by going with a cheaper motherboard. I wanted the expansion options and capability to go to 64 GB RAM if I ever felt the need (probably not, but we all thought 640kB was big memory at one time). Lots of SATA ports on the backplate of the motherboard and a header for at least one more off the board.

  13. RickH says:

    @Greg

    Thanks for the info. Filed for further cogitation.

    Regarding Jerry’s site: no guidance from the family yet, but the site will stick around. Domain name is good until June 2018; hosting is paid to June 2019.

    I may re-do the home page a bit to include Jerry’s picture. Lot of remembrances from fans and friends on the Well-Wishing page: https://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/well-wishing/

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Domain name is good until June 2018;”

    At one point, ISTR that I was tech contact on all of Jerry’s domains (as RT121, a holdover from InterNIC days back around 1991). I think at this point I’m TC only on lucifershammer.org and feathersnake.com, both of which have or soon will expire and which Jerry indicated he had no interest in renewing. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. Remind me when it’s closer to time for his hosting to expire. At that point, if no one else has stepped in, I can host Jerry’s domains on my own host.

  15. Minnesota Dave says:

    Northern Minnesota next to Lake Superior low 42 F last night high 65 F and cloudy today. Fall colors showing red maples, yellow oak, aspen , and other hardwoods. Raised bed tomato, broccoli, lettuce, kale, carrots, zucchini, tomatillo , beans, cilantro, basil all good, garlic ++, several others I can’t remember. Squash , cucumber poor cause had to replant 4 weeks late. Fruits: strawberry, raspberry, blue berry, cherry and plums ++. One good apple tree four poor, fair honey berry. Experiment to grow potato in containers worked OK, got 5 to 6 pounds each container. Was told the soil was too well fertilized, cause plants were 4 feet tall. It’s a good year overall, lots of work. Made jam, canned apple sauce, froze tomatos, beans, and apples for pies and crisps, canning tomatillo green sauce and salsa in a couple
    weeks. If hard freeze holds off for a couple weeks will get a second crop of raspberry and ripen more squash and tomatos. I’m satisfied with results this year.

    It’s going on two years watching the U.S. play idiot politics, I’m tired of it and I’d rather garden!

    You all appear to be the sane people even if Flashlights get mentioned.

    Minnesota Dave.

  16. RickH says:

    Jerry was letting some of the domains expire. He wanted to keep only jerrypournelle.com and chaosmanorreviews.com . Those are set to auto-renew, with his credit card. The expiration dates are far enough in the future that there is no urgency.

    I can do hosting on my my JustHost accounts, if it comes to that. But there is the ‘ownership’ of the content … the content belongs to Jerry and therefore his family. I’m willing to do the technical process as long as the family desires. Haven’t gotten any direction from them yet, but I suspect that there are tons of details involved in resolving/maintaining all of Jerry’s ‘stuff’.

  17. lynn says:

    It’s going on two years watching the U.S. play idiot politics, I’m tired of it and I’d rather garden!

    I am rather enjoying the show. People’s true characters are coming out in the light of day and I am getting surprised. I thought that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain were good guys. Nope, just up there for the limelight. And the bucks !

    And the animosity of the Republican Party for Trump has been breathtaking. A lot of the redumplicans thought that they were in line for the Presidency and are mad as all get out that they lost out. Surprise, we really need someone who can lead and we got him. I’m not quite sure where he is leading us but he going somewhere.

  18. Greg Norton says:

    I thought that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and John McCain were good guys. Nope, just up there for the limelight. And the bucks !

    I’ve always viewed McConnell and McCain as weasels. Ryan was a bit of a surprise, but the view from the Speaker’s office is reputed to be spectacular.

  19. lynn says:

    And it is time for the annual healthcare insurance increase. We got notified last week by BCBS that our health insurance policy for the employees of my business is going up 25.1% on Dec 1. That is another $2,000 out of my pocket each month to cover 13 people. Our agent says that one of his customers got hit with a 40% increase and to be happy.

    The health insurance cost fiasco is not sustainable. I’m not at all sure that Medicare for All ™ will solve this problem either. But, I am willing to give it a try. Yes, I know all about Venezuela and their socialization issues that bankrupted the country.

    At a minimum, we need to bring back private catastrophic health insurance. I should be able to go to my agent and buy the bare minimum for all 13 people on our plan for at least half off what I am paying now without having to move to an HMO (we are a PPO now).

  20. Ray Thompson says:

    We got notified last week by BCBS that our health insurance policy for the employees of my business is going up 25.1% on Dec 1

    My wife is on Obuttwadcare. I have been informed that my current provider, Humana who covered very little, will not be renewing in my area of TN. Our new provider will be BCBST (Blue Cross Blue Shield of TN), who was the provider the year before Humana. BCBST pulled out because they were losing money.

    Now BCBST is back in and guess what? The rate my wife pays will be going from $450 a month to just a little over $800. $4,000 deductible and $8,500 maximum out of pocket. The only real advantage to having insurance is that you get better rates at the doctor or hospital. Also most of these places require you to pay up front before any services. Only emergency will not require up front payment.

    So am now going to be paying almost $10,000 a year for insurance that is by most standards really crappy. My wife may have $3,000 in medical bills which is normal for a year. But you cannot do without insurance because of the looming prospect of something unforeseen or major. Some major event may get you slammed for $200K and no insurance discount.

    The health insurance cost fiasco is not sustainable.

    Agreed. Cost are out of control. Between staff that need to required paperwork, costs of supplies from suppliers that are ripping everyone off (Epipen!), and lawyers that are looking for anyway possible to sue a medical professional for anything thus causing outrageous malpractice insurance premiums.

    And I am also paying for the leaches who are shacking up with some jerk that makes good money. They don’t want to get married as they can claim poverty thus getting food stamps, welfare, and paying nothing for health insurance or prescriptions. Three or four kids all drawing money to pay for milk, school lunches which in reality go in the parents pockets to pay for beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets. Yeh, I know a few of them.

    I think I will just blow through all my money in the next year and go on the government dole. Seems to be a reasonable career path, or in my case, a second career.

  21. Dave Hardy says:

    @Minnesota Dave; Congratulations, sir; you seem to have done very well, and looking at your list gives me encouragement for our own small-scale gardening experiments here at roughly the same latitude and also near a large lake (nowhere near as large as Superior, though). Mrs. OFD has traveled to various places in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota for her job and loves the landscape and people there, but then again, she seems to love the people everywhere.

    “It’s going on two years watching the U.S. play idiot politics, I’m tired of it and I’d rather garden!”

    I hear ya loud and clear. I’m also fed up, but like Mr. Lynn, it’s hard to tear my eyes and ears away from the ongoing freak show spectacle. I fear that I have learned to loathe and despise the shitweasels of the Stupid Half of the Party, for all their betrayals, mainly, over the last few decades. At least the commies tell us straight out that they hate us and wish us dead or in chains.

    Wife and I both sorta keep up; she with her FaceBerg and MSM and me with all my Nazi stormtrooper and KKK sites. But she’d rather be working on her jewelry and I’d rather be doing the same with the firearms and radios. And we are both biblioholics and read tons of books every month.

    “You all appear to be the sane people even if Flashlights get mentioned.”

    It’s come to a pretty pass when the folks here, including me, can be considered “sane” by comparison to the rest of the country. But there it is.

    Wife called just now; don’t bother coming to get her tonight. United once again has delays (last time a pilot called in sick and they to find another one). So instead of 8:30 she won’t be in VT until 01:30, five hours later. I’ll go get her at her mom’s tomorrow after I get our RAV4 out of the shop (routine but overdue maintenance). And we gotta get her Saab to the shop this coming week. And order more firewood. Yikes.

  22. ech says:

    Thinking about doing some programming again. Two possible paths:
    – learn Arduino programming, buy a starter kit.
    – learn Python, but which version? 2.7 or 3.x? (Can Python process Excel files and/or Access databases?)

  23. MrAtoz says:

    We got notified last week by BCBS that our health insurance policy for the employees of my business is going up 25.1% on Dec 1.

    But, but, but OdooshCare will keep costs down!

  24. MrAtoz says:

    My BIL is a RN and has worked ER, hospitals and home health care. He’s staying with us for an extended time for his own health. He’s been telling me stories of horrible accidents and even more horrible ripping off the taxpayers with the home health care racket. He worked all around southern Tejas, but mainly Laredo and San Antonio. He worked at about a dozen home health care agencies and quit or was fired from all of them. The corruption is rampant with even small agencies raking in millions of $$, breaking the rules and just plain lying. He gave up on them and went back to ER and hospital work.

    He started out as a diver on nuclear subs (Hi, Mr. DadCooks), paramedic and finally RN.

  25. lynn says:

    But you cannot do without insurance because of the looming prospect of something unforeseen or major.

    Yup. A catastrophic event such as getting run over by an illegal alien. Or cancer. Or a heart attack.

    Some major event may get you slammed for $200K and no insurance discount.

    Some major event may get you slammed for $1,000K and no insurance discount. My first heart attack was $60K just about eight years ago. I paid $4K out of pocket if I remember right.

    FTFY.

  26. medium wave says:

    Thinking about doing some programming again. Two possible paths:
    – learn Arduino programming, buy a starter kit.
    – learn Python, but which version? 2.7 or 3.x? (Can Python process Excel files and/or Access databases?)

    Learn anything but Python!!! The syntax is just different enough from every other programming language to drive you batshit crazy. In addition, IMHO structuring code via indentation is just plain dangerous and a real deal-breaker.

    If you do go the Arduino route, learn C if you don’t already know it. It is after all the native language of Unix/Linux.

    If you really want/have to work with Access and Excel, Microsoft provides a free “community” version of its .Net IDE.

  27. pcb_duffer says:

    Re: hospital pricing & insurance (I’ve posted this same story before). My older sister died four years ago. I took her to the ER on a Tuesday morning, and she died after being unplugged on Thursday evening. As personal representative of her estate, I got all the bills, estate duties, et cetera. One of the first bills, of course, was from the hospital. The grand total of all charges was $82,112.00 . The next line on the statement was contractual adjustment of $72,308.62 , leaving a balance owed of 9,803.38 . Blue Cross then paid another 8,803.38 , leaving us with a personal responsibility of $1,000.00 . Had she not had insurance, I am absolutely confident that the parent corporation of the hospital would have come after her estate for the full $82,111 , and that any negotiated discount would have been shown on their books as a charitable discount.
    I understand that there are a lot of sub rosa machinations and negotiations between hospitals and insurance carriers, but I would suggest that a discount of ~88% suggests that the bill was fraudulent on its face. Our gracious host can certainly get a discount by purchasing various kit components in bulk, but at least he can see the price of any widget beforehand. The system is broken, but anyone who thinks that throwing government at a problem will help solve it hasn’t been paying attention for the last 80+ years in the US.

  28. Dave Hardy says:

    ” The system is broken, but anyone who thinks that throwing government at a problem will help solve it hasn’t been paying attention for the last 80+ years in the US.”

    Quote of the month. And innernet winner for today! Congrats!

  29. Ray Thompson says:

    I would suggest that a discount of ~88% suggests that the bill was fraudulent on its face

    I have had blood work done, basically by a lab. The bill to the insurance company was $500.00. Insurance discount $450.00 thus leaving me $50.00 to pay. Had I not had insurance I would have been stuck with the full $500.00. I agree, that is fraud. If the lab is making money at $50.00 by their contract with the insurance company then charging others $500.00 is criminal.

  30. lynn says:

    One of the first bills, of course, was from the hospital. The grand total of all charges was $82,112.00 . The next line on the statement was contractual adjustment of $72,308.62 , leaving a balance owed of 9,803.38 . Blue Cross then paid another 8,803.38 , leaving us with a personal responsibility of $1,000.00 . Had she not had insurance, I am absolutely confident that the parent corporation of the hospital would have come after her estate for the full $82,111 , and that any negotiated discount would have been shown on their books as a charitable discount.

    Here is the new problem as of about two years ago. Methodist Hospital here in Houston, TX has leased their ERs to a new ER company. The new ER company does not have an agreement with BCBSTX. So, if you go to a Methodist ER in Houston, you might end up with the “reasonable and customary” from BCBSTX and a 100% bill from the new ER company. I know somebody that this happened to at Sugar Land Methodist and the new ER company wants $15K over what BCBSTX paid them for their 28 hour stay in the ER. The person is paying them off at $500/month or something like that.

    I think that the Methodist ERs take Medicare and Medicaid but, I am not sure at all.

  31. lynn says:

    The system is broken, but anyone who thinks that throwing government at a problem will help solve it hasn’t been paying attention for the last 80+ years in the US.

    Are you saying that Medicare does not work ? The stats I managed to find a couple of years ago computed to Medicare covering 15% of the people in the USA and paying 25% of the medical bills in the USA. That makes Medicare the largest health insurance company in the USA. I know that Medicare underpays the going rate but at least they pay their bills. Sounds like a working solution to me.

    Funding Medicare for All will be tough. The 1.45% payroll tax on both the employer and the employee will have to change to at least 6% for each. Maybe 8% for each. And that is on the first dollar of income all the way to the last dollar of income. Some people call that a flat tax. And the self employed will take a hit in the shorts.

    BTW, Medicare does not cover just people 65 and older in the USA. If you are on Social Security Disability then you are automatically covered by Medicare also.

  32. SteveF says:

    For getting back into programming, Arduino or RPi is a good way to go. There’s something to be said for having physical lights light up or motors turn once you’ve gotten the wiring and the program correct. Generally I’d recommend going with RPi. It’s a more capable device, can be programmed in a wider variety of languages, and can be repurposed as a server if you stop playing with it as a fun programming toy. There are a couple things Arduino does better or differently, like handling interrupts, and Arduino is better for building an embedded device. Arduino is slightly cheaper, too. If those aren’t concerns, go with RPi.

    Python is a perfectly good language. Ignore what Medium Wave says. He’s probably a pAntifa infiltrator, trying to sow dissent and spread misinformation. Yes, Python is much different than practically every other language. That’s not a bad thing, and I have faith in your brain being large enough to handle multiple paradigms and syntaxes. Python also has quite a few useful libraries, if you’re trying to accomplish something in particular rather than simply “get back into programming”. Generally I suggest going with 3.x, with 2.x being mainly for maintaining old code or using libraries which haven’t been updated.

  33. SteveF says:

    The system is broken, but anyone who thinks that throwing government at a problem will help solve it hasn’t been paying attention for the last 80+ years in the US.

    Yes, quote of the day.

    Lynn keeps bringing up Medicare for All, admits himself that they underpay, occasionally acknowledges points that others bring up about Medicare fraud or about doctors refusing Medicare patients because they can’t make a living at what the government pays … and then goes right back to pushing Medicare for All. I’ll do him the courtesy of assuming that his meds are messing with his memory.

  34. medium wave says:

    Python is a perfectly good language. Ignore what Medium Wave says. He’s probably a pAntifa infiltrator, trying to sow dissent and spread misinformation.

    Oooo, a flame war! 🙂

    Python is in fact no better or worse than most of today’s PLs–until something messes up your formatting.

    Think it’ll never happen? What about when you switch editors or IDEs?

  35. Dave Hardy says:

    I will watch any programming flame wars from the ignorant sidelines; let me know when you get into the dead language flame wars, though. I mean actual human languages.

    And from the What Are You Doing For November 4th Department:

    http://conservative-headlines.org/antifa-plans-civil-war-to-overthrow-the-government-on-november-4th/#more-59139

    Probably gonna be a bust, but it could blow up into something bigger. Wait, watch and listen, comrades….

  36. SteveF says:

    until something messes up your formatting.

    Think it’ll never happen? What about when you switch editors or IDEs?

    Yah, I’ve seen it. IIRC one guy was using a GUI IDE and the other was using a plain text editor and the version control software converting tabs to spaces. Something like that.

    On the other hand, copy-pasting code in bracketed languages causes trouble daily.

    On the other other hand, it could be worse. Someone years ago proposed getting rid of all this legacy text file nonsense for coding. Instead, the IDE should store the program in some kind of database, where versioning can be done automatically and code blocks can be reused as simply as copying a pointer to them and everything would be wonderful in Developerland. His idea was laughed at where it wasn’t just ignored — everything from vendor lock-in to a single bad bit destroying your entire program, including your automatically-created versioning.

  37. Dave Hardy says:

    Shit, I think I’ll stick with Egyptian hieroglyphics and Etruscan.

  38. Nick Flandrey says:

    10 a=”hello world”
    20 print a, ” ”
    30 goto 10

    See, all we ever needed right there! And you can refactor it to

    10 print “hello world ”
    20 goto 10

    None of this (void) nonsense….

    OOOOHHH, and go sub!
    10 a=”hello world ”
    15 print a
    20 gosub 40
    30 goto 15
    40 a=”world hello ”
    50 return

    Simple!

    n

    (of course I had to edit, adding 15 and then correct my print statement…. and no one will really notice on a screen full of text that the first line is different than what you’d expect.)

  39. Nick Flandrey says:

    Sleepy time

    n

  40. Greg Norton says:

    Thinking about doing some programming again. Two possible paths:
    – learn Arduino programming, buy a starter kit.
    – learn Python, but which version? 2.7 or 3.x? (Can Python process Excel files and/or Access databases?)

    Of the two paths, I’d say learn Python. Start with 3.x to avoid confusion. If you find that you make a lot of formatting mistakes, use Pip to install Pylint.

    Two things I learned well in CS grad school: LaTeX document processing and Python.

  41. lynn says:

    Lynn keeps bringing up Medicare for All, admits himself that they underpay, occasionally acknowledges points that others bring up about Medicare fraud or about doctors refusing Medicare patients because they can’t make a living at what the government pays … and then goes right back to pushing Medicare for All. I’ll do him the courtesy of assuming that his meds are messing with his memory.

    Unfortunately, we are living in a healthcare financial dystopia already. Obolocare just doubled down on the financial problems. And the redumplicans are obviously not going to repeal Obolacare. And their replacement for Obolacare looks to be even more horrible than Obolacare to me.

    I am part of the group that believes that Obolocare was passed to force the nation into Medicare for All ™. Well, it has succeeded. Things are certainly heading to a pinch point. Just wait until your healthcare deductible grows to $10,000.

    However, I cannot totally complain. My flu shot at Walgreens the other day was free, courtesy of BCBS. And my Rythmol retail price is now $530/month and my copay is only $10/month. I walked out of Walgreens the other day with 90 days of Rythmol and felt like I needed an armed guard.

  42. lynn says:

    My Z-nation tv show on syfy is back ! The zombie show that is so bad that it is good !
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z_Nation

    Zombie balls rule !
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqCFOj9VVok
    and
    https://twitter.com/znation/status/779491041565081600

  43. Ray Thompson says:

    My flu shot at Walgreens the other day was free, courtesy of BCBS

    Most insurances will cover preventative stuff at zero cost to the recipient. The insurance companies don’t want you to come down with a more expensive condition for which they would have to pay. The insurance companies are not being noble, just cheapskates.

    I was told I need a Prevnar 13 injection by my doctor. His office did not do the injection. So I went to my local VA clinic. VA did not cover the cost of about $125.00 and if I wanted to the VA to do the injection I would have to travel about 120 miles to a facility that did do the injection.

    So I went to Walmart to see if Walmart would do the injection and if Medicare covered the injection. Walmart did do the injection and Medicare covered 100%. I suppose I should now pursue getting a flue shot although they have never done me much good.

  44. Greg Norton says:

    My Z-nation tv show on syfy is back ! The zombie show that is so bad that it is good !

    Syfy has a lot of attempts at “so bad it is good”, but, unfortunately, the shows that work are few and far between.

    Dig back into the “Sharknado” series and find “Sharknado 2”. No one under 40 is gonna get the cameo of the pilot or the name of the airline on the side of the plane, but everyone in the room over 40 will at least say, “Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?”

    My wife and I got the gag right away. “Where has he been?”

    “Conservative.”

  45. pcb_duffer says:

    [snip] Are you saying that Medicare does not work ? The stats I managed to find a couple of years ago computed to Medicare covering 15% of the people in the USA and paying 25% of the medical bills in the USA. … Medicare does not cover just people 65 and older in the USA. If you are on Social Security Disability then you are automatically covered by Medicare also. [snip]

    If I were going to pick two groups of people who are more likely to have higher than average medical costs, it would be (a) the elderly and (b) the disabled. Saying that Medicare spends a lot of money to insure them is as predictable as orbital mechanics predicting that day follows night. The problem is that Medicare’s reimbursement rates are disconnected from reality. I saw my mother’s bills from the last few years she was alive – paying her nephrologist $14 per visit *might* cover the practice’s direct cost, but it certainly didn’t help pay the overhead or actually profit the doctors involved.

    Your flu shot was in no way, shape, or form, free; it just didn’t directly remove any dollars from your wallet at that point. As Ray points out, the insurance carriers understand that preventative care is much less expensive in the long run that more advanced forms of treatment, but insisting that it be called “free” is like calling the Wermacht “docile”, it just ain’t so. And prescription drugs aren’t priced like a gallon of gas at your neighborhood station, a very very small % of people actually pay the price posted in big numbers out by the street. That, of course, makes it really difficult for a rational consumer to compare prices.

  46. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Which is yet another reason why I advocate all drugs other than antibiotics be available without prescription and over the counter. Completely uncontrolled.

  47. ech says:

    Most insurances will cover preventative stuff at zero cost to the recipient.

    IIRC, most vaccinations are required to be done at $0 copay by Obamacare.

  48. Ray Thompson says:

    Your flu shot was in no way, shape, or form, free

    I am guilty of stating things are free when I do know they are not. Someone, somewhere, paid for that “free” item. I tend to look at it from my perspective and not from the entire picture. Yes, it was free to me, but that is just my cost. I get on people on welfare all the time bragging about their food, rent, utilities, cable, etc. claiming what they are getting is free. I should start changing my statements to “at no cost to me” instead of “free”.

  49. SteveF says:

    No way, Ray. Why should you have to change the way you speak just to suit others’ delicate sensitivities. What are they, delicate, special snowflakes? They should be thanking you for exposing them to other ways of thought and other ways of expressing oneself. Not that the snowflakes will, of course. You should write an essay on this topic. Bonus points if you can work the word “intersectionality” in more than once.

  50. Dave Hardy says:

    Hahaha….reminds me of a story one of our vets tells occasionally; he was getting med care at some VA facility and had the temerity to complain about something and the nurse admonished him that he was getting free treatment. The doc overheard that and ripped her a new one: “Get this through your head: this man PAID IN FULL for his treatment!” The man in question was Marine infantry and had a pretty miserably evil tour of it and got whacked more than once by shrapnel, courtesy of Victor Charles and his northern buddies. He then came home and got loaded on dope for decades, including prison sentences and six wives. He was pals with the Allman Brothers back in the day, too.

    Told us another story: Greg Allman got busted down in Georgia for something or other, probably drunk and disorderly, and when he got to the county jail he told the sheriff he wanted a TV in his cell. The sheriff laughed and said that wouldn’t be fair as he’d have to put one in all the cells. Greg wrote him a check on the spot and had him do it within the hour. So all the cells got color tee-vees that night.

    So our treatment ain’t free; of course it comes from our tax dollars, including the dollars paid by us on active duty and after that duty. We get to pay more or less continuously; for the basic training and any other training, the uniforms, gear, weapons, ammo, transportation around the world, housing, food, med care, etc., etc, and then again later when we come home all effed up. It’s quite a racket.

    I followed the logic out one time when I kept finding that our various enemies were/are often using American weapons and ammo to kill us. So we and our parents basically pay for the means to kill us. As I say, quite a racket.

  51. DadCooks says:

    Dad is going to avoid going into a rant about medical care, the fact is that what you are getting today is going to be better than what you are going to get tomorrow. Soon 100% of any money you make above the table will be going to taxes and all of your assets and retirement will become property of the state.

    tRump’s tax plan is pie in the sky and just like the attempt to repeal Obutt-wad-no-care it will go down in flames.

    The oligarchs are ensuring that the USofA will become an example of how bad a third-world country can be.

    When the next revolution eventually occurs, the destruction and carnage of the original revolution and the war of northern aggression will look like a flag football game.

    Stop tolerating the intolerant.

  52. Lynn says:

    We are experiencing a twofold problem in the USA right now.

    1. The population is rapidly aging. The last of the baby boomers will be in Medicare in a decade. Medicare’s costs are booming and will probably double before then. Maybe triple.

    2. The other problem is that the medical community has done an awesome job of extending life. The cost of extending life grows rapidly at each stage. The first stage is simple drugs like penicillin and beta blockers. Cheap. Unfortunately, each stages cost are probably logrithmic.

    The fact that Medicare under pays is secondary to the question of how to cover the population of the USA. We have already decided that everyone will have medical care, we are just now deciding how to pay for it.

  53. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “We have already decided that everyone will have medical care, we are just now deciding how to pay for it.”

    Speak for yourself, kemosabe. I think people are entitled to as much medical care as they are able and willing to pay for themselves, and no more.

  54. lynn says:

    Your flu shot was in no way, shape, or form, free; it just didn’t directly remove any dollars from your wallet at that point.

    Oh, I paid for the flu shot that I got for “free”. My business, me and my three partners, pays $750/month for my BCBS health insurance. Actually, my business pays for the health insurance and gives me a 1099 at the end of the year which I can currently deduct off my taxes against the 1099. A stupid zero sum game with lots of paperwork.

    And the shingles shot that I got two months ago was also “free”. Same thing. If I did not have the $750/month health insurance, the cost would have been $265. Check or Mastercard please ?

  55. lynn says:

    “We have already decided that everyone will have medical care, we are just now deciding how to pay for it.”

    Speak for yourself, kemosabe. I think people are entitled to as much medical care as they are able and willing to pay for themselves, and no more.

    Yup, that was the collective we. Many do not agree with the federal law that if someone stumbles into an ER, they must be treated until they are stable. But, the law is the law until it is changed. Or the USA government falls.

  56. lynn says:

    Dad is going to avoid going into a rant about medical care, the fact is that what you are getting today is going to be better than what you are going to get tomorrow.

    I hope not but am worried that you are correct. Triage and Death Panels may become routine for any medical care beyond stage 1 (cheap drugs).

    Soon 100% of any money you make above the table will be going to taxes and all of your assets and retirement will become property of the state.

    I sincerely doubt 100% taxation of income. I do see seizure of IRAs, 401Ks, pensions, and anything else not nailed down to be “invested” in governmental tbills. I doubt that direct real property will be seized though. Or bank accounts. After all, we are not Cyprus, right ?

  57. DadCooks says:

    We have no “real” property. Try not paying your property taxes or in my area irrigation assessment. Your “real” property will be sold on the courthouse steps.

    Just because medicine “can” extend life does not mean that it should. There is no concern shown for quality of life. My advance directive, simplified, to my medical care givers that of I cannot wipe my butt I do not want my life prolonged. I will allow hydration and nutrition, but I am DNR (d0 not resuscitate), in fact I am seriously considering getting a DNR tattoo on my chest (my wife has seen these during her days as a surgical RN).

    I know people who have endured years of debilitating chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer. Very low quality, essentially no, quality of life during and then only 6-months of a greatly reduced quality of life.

    My Daughter’s medical expenses (fortunately paid for by good insurance for now) have never been less than $100,000.00/year for the past 15-years (several years $250,000.00). Her current insurance has a $5-million lifetime limit. I doubt with the direction of insurance that she will reach that $5-million limit before her ability to continue to be insured disappears.

    As I have mentioned before, my Daughter is a certified and accredited medical coder and auditor. She has seen it all and is as pessimistic as I am about the future of private insurance and private medical care.

  58. Ray Thompson says:

    No way, Ray.

    I just call, and will continue to call, them leaches, losers, scum. I was referring as to how I reference my *earned* benefits.

    Bonus points if you can work the word “intersectionality” in more than once.

    Oh hell no. That would tangle my fingers if I were to type that.

  59. lynn says:

    We have no “real” property. Try not paying your property taxes or in my area irrigation assessment. Your “real” property will be sold on the courthouse steps.

    Yup, I know this well. I have to pay $27,000 in property taxes by the year end for my personal and commercial properties. I have been saving almost all year. And then I have to pay about $10,000 in property insurance for both properties, also at the end of the year. Anyone who says that Texas is low taxes, I have a bone to pick with them.

    Just because medicine “can” extend life does not mean that it should. There is no concern shown for quality of life.

    Yes, I tried to say this in my second concern but failed miserably. Just because you can does not mean that you should. My maternal grandmother developed lung cancer at age 88 and did not want treatment. My mother talked her into radiation treatments. My grandmother got burned on day 20 and called me to tell my mother to stop it.

    But, my dad is a survivor of lymphoma four times and bladder cancer, courtesy of the lymphoma radiation treatment. He had heart valve replacement 20 years ago. He would do it all over again.

    So, each situation is different. I just hope that we can continue the option of treatment beyond stage 1 (cheap drugs) for ordinary people.

  60. SteveF says:

    That would tangle my fingers if I were to type that.

    Let autocorrect take care of it.

    In fact, someone should type a liberal arts paper on a phone and let autocorrect have its way with it. The results should be hilarious.

  61. lynn says:

    As I have mentioned before, my Daughter is a certified and accredited medical coder and auditor. She has seen it all and is as pessimistic as I am about the future of private insurance and private medical care.

    Private insurance is definitely on its deathbed. With all of the mandatory coverage options from Obolacare, the expense is incredible and rising rapidly. And Trump is determined to get rid of the government subsidies. Which, I believe are not even Constitutional since Congress did not allocate the money.

    And I have two numbers which are not credible but I cannot find any better numbers. Private medical insurance reputedly pays out 65% of its income in benefits. Medicare reputedly pays out 97% of its “income” in benefits. Like I said, the numbers are crazy and I am sure that I am wrong. But if private insurance is that “inefficient” then the system cannot stand that inefficiency in a $4 trillion system.

    I sure do hope that private medical care stays around. I have seen the VA up close by taking my father-in-law in for treatment. The VA does great in a crisis and poorly otherwise. I would like to think that we can do better. Or, maybe the VA is our future.

  62. DadCooks says:

    @lynn, I agree each situation is different. Unfortunately it is very hard for a person to make a truly informed decision. Very few doctors have the experience, ability, and time to properly communicate with their patients.

    I am a doctors worst nightmare, an honestly truthfully informed patient. Fortunately our family doctor goes above and beyond and allows use to discuss our treatment. He readily admits that the interests of Big Pharma, Big Hospital, Big Insurance, Big Anything are geared towards their profits and bafflement of the patient.

    Because of Medi-don’t-care I recently had to attend 4-weeks of 2 hours/week diabetes and nutrition classes so my Doctor could continue me on my medicine regimen that I have been on for nearly 20-years. If not he would have had to start treating me as if I was a new diabetes patient and roll back my medications to types and doses that did not work. And if I had not been an established patient with my Doctor’s particular practice these classes would not have “qualified” me to continue on a working plan. Of the 7 others who were in the class, none had doctor with whom they had had a long term relationship. For them this class was just step one of restarting their diabetes treatment regimen. Talk about an F’d-up system. Even sadder, us “students” knew more than the instructor who was reading everything out of the the lesson plan. We had to use our smartphones to look things up when we had a question.

  63. lynn says:

    Because of Medi-don’t-care I recently had to attend 4-weeks of 2 hours/week diabetes and nutrition classes so my Doctor could continue me on my medicine regimen that I have been on for nearly 20-years. If not he would have had to start treating me as if I was a new diabetes patient and roll back my medications to types and doses that did not work. And if I had not been an established patient with my Doctor’s particular practice these classes would not have “qualified” me to continue on a working plan.

    And this is the kind of story that scares the hound out of me …

  64. SteveF says:

    More government = more bureaucracy, almost by definition.
    More bureaucracy = more senseless rules, not quite inevitably, but I don’t know of a single exception.

    Sure, Lynn, let’s have Medicare for all. What’s the worst that could happen?

  65. ech says:

    Private medical insurance reputedly pays out 65% of its income in benefits.

    Nope. If a company pays out less than 85%, they have to rebate to the customers. Health insurance companies make about a 5% profit, spend 10% on overhead.

    There are some companies that had higher payouts, up to 90%+.

  66. ech says:

    Found some data on Medicare’s 97% payout. It’s true if you don’t count the cost of the IRS collecting taxes, the SS agency collecting the premiums, HHS pays for their offices and auditing, and Medicare doesn’t pay state excise taxes on the premiums. When adjusted to a per-insured cost, in 2005 Medicare paid $509 per beneficiary on administration and private insurance paid $453.

    See https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2011/06/30/the-myth-of-medicares-low-administrative-costs/#702f333b140d

  67. lynn says:

    Sure, Lynn, let’s have Medicare for all. What’s the worst that could happen?

    The VA for All ™.

  68. SteveF says:

    Oops. Thanks, ech. I’d meant to lambaste Lynn over those numbers he vomited forth, but I forgot.

    Yah, if any agency, public or private, claims only 3% overhead, they’re lying.

    Case in point, the Medicare administrators are telling the same lie that many not-for-profits do. They outsource their fundraising, ignore the 50% slice that the actual fundraisers claim, and then claim only a 5% overhead. In fact, it’s even worse with Medicaid than it is with not-for-profits because the “donors” to Medicaid are forced to pay for administrative overhead themselves to make their “donations” and to be ready to prove that they paid the correct amount.

  69. lynn says:

    Found some data on Medicare’s 97% payout. It’s true if you don’t count the cost of the IRS collecting taxes, the SS agency collecting the premiums, HHS pays for their offices and auditing, and Medicare doesn’t pay state excise taxes on the premiums. When adjusted to a per-insured cost, in 2005 Medicare paid $509 per beneficiary on administration and private insurance paid $453.

    Thanks ! I had not realized that Medicare is mostly an Accounts Payable organization. Of course, they do have overhead for people signing up for Parts A, B, C, D, and whatever else that they sell. Plus they regulate the supplemental insurance market to some extent.

  70. ech says:

    Medicare doesn’t do their AP. They contract it out on a regional basis. One other overhead that they don’t have that private insurers do: negotiating fees. Medicare uses a formula to set fees across the US. There is some negotiation with physician’s groups and provider associations, but it’s done on a national basis. Private insurance has to work with each provider to set the fee schedule for that provider. In many cases, it’s “here is our fee schedule for our area if you want to be in network, take it or leave it.” But if you are a major hospital or physician’s group it’s negotiated.

    With Medicare, it’s as if the food stamp program told Kroger, Safeway, etc. exactly how much they would pay for milk, eggs, etc. for the entire year. And that price was 30-50% of what cash customers paid.

  71. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “With Medicare, it’s as if the food stamp program told Kroger, Safeway, etc. exactly how much they would pay for milk, eggs, etc. for the entire year. And that price was 30-50% of what cash customers paid.”

    Bingo. Which is why many medical practices no longer accept Medicare patients.

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