Mon. Sept. 2, 2019 – life’s a beach

Cooler I hope, but probably maxed humidity…

Don’t know how much time I’ll have in the morning so I’m writing this Sunday night. Despite all good sense to the contrary, I’ll be going with the family, and a couple of extra 10 year old girls to the beach. Yep. Avoid crowds. Not me. I’m going to join 10s of thousands of others at the beach, on the last holiday of summer. ‘cuz reasons.  Oh, and while a hurricane is pummeling beaches just a bit to the east…

I’ll be able to test the site’s new features from my phone, so I guess that’ll be a plus.

I do get to bring some kites. With wind predicted to be 10-15 knots, I should be able to get a couple of the new big ones up. The breeze is pretty steady on a normal day, and we should be seeing some weather from Dorian, I’d think.

I’ll leave it to others to pontificate on the significance and history of Labor Day, and just note that “Under socialism, every day is labor day for you, comrade.”

Stay safe today if you venture out, keep you eyes open and your faculties about you…


Author: Nick Flandrey

Mid 50s, stay at home dad, with two elementary school age girls. Love my family and my life.

42 thoughts on “Mon. Sept. 2, 2019 – life’s a beach”

  1. Rick, the site changes will take me some getting used to. The layout is different on my phone, and will take getting familiar. It is not better or worse. The comment box is working much better so far.

    My top complaint is that the typeface is much harder to read on my phone, and this is after adjusting the size to get it down to where it was. First, it is the dreaded grey on white, so low contrast, yuck. Second, and just as important, it is “lighter” in a typographic sense, which means the strokes are narrower. I am sensitive to that. The old face was much heavier.

    Finally, that blasted up arrow is now visible all the time. I hit it accidently while typing this. For me, it used to only appear when scrolled to the bottom of the page, which was fine. Banish it!

    I do appreciate your efforts, but this site used to be one of the most readable on the web. Now, it is like so many others.

  2. links no longer change color once visited

    The links change color on my browser (Chrome).

    In my worthless opinion what was there before worked. I see no reason to get fancy or change things. Sites that are used for content don’t need to be embellished with glitz. Function over fancy in my opinion.

    Biggest change would be to change to a SANS-Serif font. The strokes on this stuff is too narrow, even on my desktop monitor.

    Trying changes to see what works is good, see what sticks to the wall. If you don’t try you don’t know. Thus I appreciate the efforts and the attempts.

  3. Links don’t change color on my iDevices. Text doesn’t word wrap, that would help a lot on phones.

    I’m with Ray. Worthless opinion, that is, mine, not Ray’s, Ray’s a good good guy, I like Ray, Hi Ray.

  4. @Rick, the new style for the site is a lot easier to read for these old failing eyes. I don’t view the site on my phone or tablet so I have no comments on that.

    I am usually an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I do like what you have done.

    While this is Labor Day I intend to do no labor.

  5. FWIW I like the new site appearance – the text seems more readable. That said, it has made almost zero functional difference on the browsers that I use – both mobile and desktop.

    – – – – –

    We’ve been intensively specifying final details on the new house. Windows were ordered today, after one last-minute change.

    Nick’s prepping heart would like to know that we picked the rainwater storage tank. 2000 liters (so about 500 gallons). Extensible, if we later decide that we want more. In daily life, it’s for my wife’s garden.

    The last big things left are electrical plans and bath/kitchen fixtures. We have a pretty good idea what we want, but right now we’re looking at prices. Switzerland is what you call in German a “high price island”, with often massively higher prices than in the surrounding countries.

    For bath and kitchen fixtures it seems to be especially extreme: Swiss prices are 2-4 times what they are just across the border in Germany. It makes no sense, none at all, because there is absolutely nothing stopping us from ordering in Germany. We have long since organized a Germany delivery address, and so have gazillions of other Swiss. Annoying, but there it is…

  6. Just returned from the big anime show in San Antonio. Interesting people watching.

    The Bird scooters are out of control downtown. Things seem much worse than last year. The city seems to have stopped trying on a few things since Nirenberg won reelection.

    San Antonio delayed the annual draining of the Riverwalk waterway this year. I’ll bet they’re worried about how many Bird scooters are down there with batteries leaking into the river. God only knows what else is lurking in the water.

  7. San Antonio delayed the annual draining of the Riverwalk waterway this year. I’ll bet they’re worried about how many Bird scooters are down there with batteries leaking into the river. God only knows what else is lurking in the water.

    New Orleans has experienced a series of “rain events” resulting in parts of the city flooding that have never flooded before. Now local officials think they might have a handle on the cause: Abandoned car pulled from underground New Orleans canal likely had been there for years.

    The car had been submerged in the canal for twelve years! Keep in mind that NO was 80% flooded by Katrina. You’d think that keeping the drainage system in tip-top condition would be a priority. Apparently not.

  8. I just read an article about the scooters. It pointed out something obvious: you are not allowed to store your stuff in a public space. Scooters are stuff, belonging to a private company. If the city is willing, it would be perfectly legal to:

    1. Authorize private companies to impound them. Just like tow companies that haul off illegally parked cars.

    2. Declare scooters outside designated areas to be abandoned. Collect them and sell them off to the highest bidder.

    3. Fine the companies directly for creating a public nuisance.

    All it takes is a bit of fortitude.

  9. All it takes is a bit of fortitude.

    What I call the A**hat Quotient is awfully high in San Antonio. Not as high as Austin or other tech hubs, but still high, especially in the tourist areas.

    I’m guessing the money people behind Mayor Nirenberg’s reelection have money in Bird and the other scooter companies. He’s a rising Prog star in the region, having supplanted the Castro brothers this year.

  10. Scooter rentals are new in my northern midwestern city and a fairly rare sight. A pedestrian co-worker used one to get to work at $2 for his perpetually late arrival from 8-ish blocks away. There are 3 companies involved, although I only see 1 branding, “Lime”. There is consternation and public discussion regarding this new form of transport due to sidewalk riders and some out of towners going on the freeway. We do have bike lanes on many streets, and as a matter of fact, rental electric (?) bicycles, too. Though I’ve never seen any of those in use. The scooters are most visible, in my experience, on the main drags leading to an urban university campus and other downtown venues.

    As a motorist, I’ve creeped along behind scooter riders twice as passing them did not make sense on a no bike lane street. I’m told the scooters here have been de-rated to a top speed of 15 mph vs the machine’s designed top end of 25 (!) mph.

    I wonder what the arrival of Winter will do to the business model.

    Woot had a daily deal to own a new one at $360, down from $600 a coupla weeks ago. Made me think of Lynn’s stage 2 emergency fold up bicycle option for his truck. For that purpose, a fold up, non motorized Xooter has been on my radar for a long time, but, like skateboards, I’ve not seen any such thing used for personal transport ever.

    EDIT: I did yield to a sidewalk riding bicyclist halfway thru a left turn on a parked car choked side street during a morning commute recently. I didn’t like leaving my car’s backside hanging in traffic.

  11. I wonder why some eBay sellers mark your purchase as “Private”. I can sort of see the point for a cell phone. The step rails for the truck cost more so it’s not a money thing.

    But for a pair of “RAM 1500” door emblems? Yeah, $42 for both sides. The bushings that the tail lights snap into? A box of 25 for $15? Other sellers have 2 for $8. The local dealer said it would take a week but he didn’t know the price. The $15 defrost thermostat for a Whirlpool fridge? All marked “Private” by the seller.

    I suppose if you stole it from work …. Oh. I may have answered my question.

    Well. I see Vent Visor knock-offs are now going for $20 and up for my truck. Beats $120 plus a couple of years ago.

    New site layout looks nice. Not that the old layout was bad… except on my phone and I’m blaming that on Firefox and Android 8 not playing well together. It was fine on my old phone with Android 5 or 6.

  12. Well, I was wrong. The beaches are almost empty. Big breeze! Too big for my new tri-plane kite.

    Waves are 2 to 4 feet. Wind is at least 15 knots. Temp isn’t horrible.

    On my phone pinch zoom doesn’t reflow, it just zooms. But the column of text is readable without zooming.

    We’re about to wrap up and head home. I better get the kites down.


  13. @nick:

    A ‘pinch-zoom’ isn’t resizing the window, it’s just ‘zooming’. Like a magnifying glass. That’s normal behavior.

    And the intended result of all of this is to allow the content to be readable on any size screen without the need to pinch-zoom or scroll or turn sideways. (Although turning sideways will change the ‘display-port’ size – which may cause a reflow, because it is a change to the display-port size.)

  14. But for a pair of “RAM 1500” door emblems? Yeah, $42 for both sides. The bushings that the tail lights snap into? A box of 25 for $15? Other sellers have 2 for $8. The local dealer said it would take a week but he didn’t know the price.

    The 1500 Classic is the reason Government Motors slipped to #3 in truck sales and GMC pickups are rolling off the line in Arlington to end up sold into the Texas rental fleet. The Dodge is politically incorrect. 🙂

  15. Some design changes so far:

    – font color is now black (was a lighter shade of black). Should be black on all devices, according to my quick tests.
    – reduced some vertical spacing at the top of the page
    – changed the size of the article heading (a bit smaller than before)
    – article/comment headings are now green text, not black, as is the blog title, and the name of the commenter in the comments section

    The font is currently ‘Merriweather’ , a serif font with a full set of weights and sizes. Serif fonts are generally easier to read (for many) in print because the serifs help the eye move along the text line. But it’s generally accepted that sans-serif fonts are better for computer display screens. (See ).

    So, I may poke around and change the base font to a sans-serif font, instead of the serif font currently used. Don’t be alarmed as I test things (although I try to test changes without affecting current visitors).

    I’m also intending to put the ‘next/previous’ links at the top of the page, just above the current article title. This is in addition to the links at the bottom of each article page. I find that useful as I catch up on the comments: I generally click on the comment link above the latest red-colored link (because that is the last one that I visited). Sometimes that gets me to yesterday’s comments. Then I use the up arrow to go to the top to click to the next day’s article. So putting the new/previous at the top is helpful to me. (And, it’s all about me …. 🙂

    That change is a bit more than making CSS styling changes. And will need to be tested thoroughly at all screen resolutions.

  16. The green is a bit jarring vs the blue and white… was that so the blue links show up better?

    Keep poking at it. I agree that next/ prev belong at the top.


  17. I don’t find a ‘Merriweather’ font on my system. No problem, plain old Times New Roman or whatever is fine.

    The green is nice. You can change to orange for Halloween, some shade of golden brown for Thanksgiving, red for Christmas, etc. 🙂

    Scratch the Vent Visor thing. There are two version. One sticks to the paint. I don’t want to do that.

    The other is “in-channel” which seems to add a flange with the tape on the other side from the surface mount version. And then it glues to the inside of the fuzzy weatherstripping channel the glass goes into. So while it looks a bit nicer, your window now seals against fuzzy felt stuff on the interior side and slick plastic on the exterior. Sounds like a good way to ruin your weatherstripping and scratch the glass. And maybe trash the power window motor as it grunts the glass up that last half inch.

    Well, if it was a really big deal, it would be a factory option.

    Edit: I don’t have a problem with taking a door apart to fix the power windows or locks. I’ve done plenty of that starting with a ’75 Cordoba. Then there was the ’74 Imperial. And a couple more. Trips to the junkyard to get a power window motor because all I need was the graphite looking break aways in the gear box. (There’s a real name, I can’t think of it.) Plus swapping all the power window and lock wiring harness from the ’75 Cordoba to a ’76. Ah, one drops the steering column and rolls the dash down. It was a good time. Because of course, the power window and locks wiring is the very first thing installed.

  18. @paul (CSS geeky stuff follows)

    This statement in the current theme’s CSS defines the font to be used when viewed by the visitor:

    font-family: Merriweather, Georgia, serif;

    If the Merriweather font is not available in your browser, then the ‘Georgia’ font will be used. If that is not found, then the default ‘serif’ font of your browser will be used.

    Note that the font is supplied by your browser, not your computer, although the browser may ‘call upon’ fonts that are installed in your computer/device.

    But I suspect in your case that your device, not finding the Merriweather font, is ‘falling back’ to the Georgia font, or maybe even whatever ‘serif’ font available on your device.

    I think.

    Now, all of this could be corrected on any device by adding the CSS command to download the Merriweather font from the googles (or other places that have that font), or by storing the font files on the server here, and then loading from there. Either way would work, but an external load is just another request to handle. Don’t think that external request would slow things down by more than a few tenths of seconds, though.

  19. And speaking of power windows, I need to work on that stupid Ford Freestar van.

    It’s the passenger window. It sticks closed. Mom and Dad took it to the dealer when the van was new. “No problem”. I’ve fixed it a few times by grabbing and jerking the glass down while someone is working the switch. Once, slamming the door shut, hard, fixed it.

    Thing is, unlike the old Chrysler’s I use to work with, where the glass had no frame and you had almost a half inch in the slotted mounting holes, the van has no adjustment for how the mechanism fits. You have 1/4 inch holes for a slightly smaller bolt. I’m going to fix that little flaw and file the mounting holes into slots for the window lift guts.

    I might not be smart enough to make the power locks work 100%. That is either a wire from the driver door to the jamb or a non replaceable relay on the fuse panel under the dash. Ok, it is a replaceable relay… but you replace the entire fuse panel.

    I’m going to fix that stupid window.

  20. I do have Georgia. Firefox defaults to Times New Roman.

    I don’t know if I’m actually reading with Georgia. But whatever I’m seeing is a nice clean font. Works for me.

    CSS is a road to madness. With much despair along the way.

    Oh, hey, when you change the green to orange for Halloween, go for Comic Sans. Because. Splody heads and all that. 🙂

  21. IIRC Jerry Pournelle used to force his browser to use Georgia, as the most readable font… I think I had mine set that way for a while.

    This font, whatever I’m seeing is easy to read. (has serifs)

    Kids claimed that they had sunscreen on but didn’t. They got burned. Now they are complaining about the heat and pain. I guess that it’s time they learned those lessons… there’s a reason I hide from the sun with a 50 sunblock, big hat, t shirt in the water, and canopy on land. Sunburn hurts. Skin cancer sucks.


  22. Kids claimed that they had sunscreen on but didn’t. They got burned. Now they are complaining about the heat and pain. I guess that it’s time they learned those lessons… there’s a reason I hide from the sun with a 50 sunblock, big hat, t shirt in the water, and canopy on land. Sunburn hurts. Skin cancer sucks.

    The kids don’t have rashguards?

    I have a couple, and my son has a few. We get sunburned if we look at a picture of a beach.

    It wasn’t a hard sell with my son because all the surfer dudes on TV have rashguards.

  23. Skin cancer sucks.

    Yup. My wife has already had a stage 1 melanoma removed at age 48, 13 years ago. Then she had to get clear margins. Big long scar on her top of her left forearm. Half Cherokee, who would have thought ? But her English side gave her fair skin and strawberry blond hair.

  24. I copied a chunk of text from here and pasted into my email writer.
    It showed up as Georgia there.
    Showed up as Merriweather in word processor (with fall-back to
    Georgia, looks like).
    I guess this is the way to check a font?

    I tried to switch to sans-serif Verdana font long ago, I think on
    advice that it is most readable and that it’s generally installed.

  25. I had to look up ‘rashguard’. All the girls were wearing two piece suits today. Normally they are very good about sunscreen but today, maybe having their friends along led them to skip it.

    I’ve had worse burns but they might actually peel from this one.

    We generally treat sunburn with food grade aloe vera gel. It’s pure aloe, no preservatives or anything else. I’ve been using it exclusively since I lived in Phoenix and used to rock climb and ride my motorcycle in a t-shirt. It smells like veg, and is a bit sticky and tight when dry, but it heals.


  26. That “rashguard” thing looks a lot like some of the high SPF “fishing” T shirts, often on sale at Walmart. These are more like camo than surfer colors.
    I’d think that white or something would be best in the sun, though.
    Hanes “Beefy T” shirts are supposed to be high SPF, possibly more comfortable (mostly cotton) for you old guys.

  27. After Katrina it was suggested you put an ax in your attic if you were in a flood zone.

    Some of the pix from the Bahamas are shocking.


  28. @lynn, both my parents had stuff removed from their skin. I’d like to avoid that if possible, but living in AZ for 4 years and being heavily tanned for that time might end differently.

    Despite the 50spf and the hat and staying under the shelter and clothed, I’m still feeling a bit of tightness in my neck and face.

    A normal white cotton t shirt has a 5 spf rating, iirc. I wear a white T in one of the climacool fabrics, with a light colored shirt over it. I stayed out of the water today, but did get some short time with my face in the sun while flying my kites.


  29. UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) is apparently the more useful ticket.
    Hanes Beefy-T provides UPF of 39, even when wet.
    [Somebody please confirm my quick research.]
    These shirts are thick and heavy, though, so the heat might kill ya.

  30. Rick, Just now looking at the site with my desktop computer. Looks nice. The latest font change is especially welcome. I don’t have time right now to look much, but that’s OK. You are still making changes, AND some of these things need time and use for my feeble brain to absorb.

    I read this site about 90% of the time on my phone, an ancient Note 3 using Chrome. The new Comment box works much better. I think your earliest change made the text reflow when I zoomed the window, but it doesn’t now. No problem. I did have to use the settings to make the text smaller, but that didn’t mess up most other sites. Just Wikipedia, but I will figure that out later. I hate having to go through the menus to change that setting.

    I have always been impressed that living on such a small screen is even possible. When I am away from home, which can be a few days a month, I use that phone exclusively for everything. I learned by immersion, and get along well for everything except a few things. And, of course, some things just need a bigger screen and appropriate software. One of these days, I will get a new phone, but the change is always disruptive. I admit I tend to keep things too long.

  31. @rick, there used to be a subtle ‘speckled’ background pattern too, right? Or am I losing my mind?


    (I don’t miss it, if it’s gone.)

  32. Sitting in the train with a horde of 8-9 year olds, on some sort of a school trip. One of them was fiddling with his pocket knife, the girl next to him said “look what my pocket knife can do!”. And so it continues – dunno how many of the kids have pocket knives, but probably a lot.

    Do I assume correctly that US schools would have a total freak-out?

  33. Most US schools have a no weapons policy, zero tolerance. Don’t know how they’d deal in TX, probably better than Illinois. In MA or RI? Kid would be in detention, parents called, suspension, special school for bad kids, etc.

    It’s the same for medicine, girls can’t even carry aspirin for menstrual cramps.


  34. Re this site. I use feedly to read comments, then “visit website” to comment. I note immediately that the site is now responsive and readable. If it were not for the read tracking of feedly, I might consider the main site. We’ll done, Rick.

    Re:weapons. I recall going hunting with a friend before school, him dropping me off, and storing my. 22lr in the schools gun cabinet. Pocket knives in every pocket. And I was in a city/prep school. I weep for what it has become.

  35. Rifles and bows were kept in student cars in High School where I lived. I carried a pocket knife everywhere until 9/11. Now my multi-tool has to be in checked luggage when I fly, easy prey for TSA thugs. “I’m your worst nightmare. A Ni**er with a badge.” Know where that line came from?

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