Mon. Jan. 25, 2021 – I think Covid 19 will be here until Social Security is solvent…

Cool and damp again, some chance of showers.

Sunday was cool and saturated.  Light mist at various points in the day.  Some light spatter of rain in the late afternoon.  Overcast all day.

I got some stuff organized.   I set up a shelf in my storage unit and took a bunch of stuff to my secondary.   As long as I have space there, there is no reason to be stacking stuff long term in the storage unit.

My wife started the carpentry badge with her Girl Scouts.  I supplied a bunch of small hammers and some other manual tools.  None of the kids, and even the other mom, had ever used a handsaw.  They had fun, and there are at least one and maybe two more sessions to get the badge requirements finished.  That’s despite the badge requirements being both simple and baffling.

GS cookie season will be starting soon.  Support your local girls.  It helps the girls and their troops.  If you don’t eat cookies, they have a program to donate the boxes you buy to first responders, and you can usually just give them cash.

I’m still slowly relocating my radios and cleaning my desk.  I’ve got the 2 all band all mode radios moved to the file cabinet drawer, and the mobile quad bander fits too.  Now that I know the concept is good, I’ll get the power and antenna lines moved so they enter the drawer.   I had the radios on a little 6U rack shelf system, and that worked, but I decided I needed them off the desktop so I had room for some organizers for my other hobby stuff.

To say my workspace is cluttered is a MASSIVE understatement.

One of the drivers for the cleanup is the amount of dust that I can’t clean because of too much stuff everywhere.   If I sit here all day, I start coughing.  Not good.  Spring is coming anyway so it’s a good time for it.

Today I have to head over to my client’s house.  He’s having some networking issues with his control system.  Stuff is dying by degrees due to the lightning strikes and pure age in some cases.  Hopefully I can get him back up quickly.

Then it’s all the normal things that need doing.

Use this relatively quiet time to get your stuff in one bag…

Keep improving your position, and keep stacking.

 

n

 

(nope, no more to be said about the post title.)

Author: Nick Flandrey

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

80 thoughts on “Mon. Jan. 25, 2021 – I think Covid 19 will be here until Social Security is solvent…”

  1. Dust. Yeah, that stuff.

    Our new house was really dusty when we moved in, despite a thorough, professional cleaning after the builders were done. We thought it was coming in on the wind. And maybe some of it was.

    But the robot vacuum cleaners continue to suck up a surprising amount of dust – this despite several feet of snow outside, so there’s no dust outside. My current theory is that this has something to do with the rough-surfaced ceramic tiles we chose throughout the house. Perhaps the rough texture is a source of dust? Whatever – it is decreasing slowly…

    – – – – –

    The crazy neighbors continue to be crazy. They wrote another long missive to the canton (state) offices, claiming that we lied here and there and everywhere. Fortunately, we have documents that prove their accusations are false – i.e., that they are the ones inventing their own reality. So we have to put together a suitable reply.

    At some point, this will become harassment. If they continue, there will come a time when the idiots cross a line, and we can take definitive action against them. Maybe a nice restraining order, one that would prevent them from building and moving in next to us. Hey, I can dream, right?

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  2. Wanted to overpay as the fees for underpaying are ridiculous.

    My aunt got stuck many years ago. Not her fault, so to speak. Some law firm of leaches convinced her to create a trust with her money. Paid her a a couple hundred a month for life, then me a couple hundred a month for life, after that any remaining money went to the firm. The money paid each month was less than the interest earned each month. In creating this the firm cashed in all her stocks at significant gains. The IRS was not pleased with the lack of withholding and stuck her with fines for not withholding. Had to pay estimated taxes the next year even though all of that money was refunded. The firm charged her $8K for doing this change. Her bank and her accountant both called me and told me something funny was going on with her money. I was livid. Got the trust revoked but the $8K was gone. I filed charges with the state but never heard anything.

    the robot vacuum cleaners continue to suck up a surprising amount of dust

    And will continue to do so. I have had a robot vacuum in the finished basement, only I use the area, and the vacuum continues to pick up dust after four years. A lot of the dust is dead skin cells and particles from clothing. We also have a dog and dog hair seems to be always collected. I continue to be amazed at the amount of dust picked up by both vacuums (upstairs and downstairs). I highly recommend them. Along with vacuuming with a bigger vacuum at least once a month (down from once a week).

    We’re waiting for 燊火網絡科技有限公司’s response

    I have a problem with an order I made. From China. Did not get what I ordered. Yes, I got scammed [hang head in shame]. Not a lot of money. Basically I did not get what I ordered and was instead sent a cheap wallet worth $0.89. Shipping was more than the wallet is worth. I used PayPal for some level of protection. Contacted the seller and his/her response was not satisfactory. So I am using PayPal dispute process. Such process not being very helpful. So far the process has been going on for a month. Lesson learned.

  3. Update on my CoViD jab: Still nothing of significance. There’s some soreness at the injection site, but no more than I’ve had with other inoculations. So, still a nothingburger.

    I could wish that HMG hadn’t decided to lengthen the gap between the 2 shots, they say, “To improve availability of the first dose for more people.”

    G.

  4. I have a problem with an order I made. From China. Did not get what I ordered. Yes, I got scammed [hang head in shame]. Not a lot of money. Basically I did not get what I ordered and was instead sent a cheap wallet worth $0.89. Shipping was more than the wallet is worth. I used PayPal for some level of protection. Contacted the seller and his/her response was not satisfactory. So I am using PayPal dispute process. Such process not being very helpful. So far the process has been going on for a month. Lesson learned.

    I exercised PayPal’s dispute process several times back when EBay’s figurative customer service pendulum had swung back in the direction of protecting sellers and I received outright junk stuffed in a box, in one case smelling like cat pee.

    The protection isn’t on the level of American Express, but it works. I’m glad EBay and PayPal are separate companies.


  5. GS cookie season will be starting soon. Support your local girls. It helps the girls and their troops. If you don’t eat cookies, they have a program to donate the boxes you buy to first responders, and you can usually just give them cash.

    This. If I recall correctly, the local troop only gets like 35¢ to 50¢ of each box sold (depending on how much the troop sells). So, rather than spend $5/box on a few boxes of cookies I really don’t want I’d rather just give the troop $20. That the equivalent of them selling me 40 to 60 boxes of cookies except I don’t have cookies I don’t want and they’re not taking up space in some volunteer’s garage. Though, I am a sucker for any kid in uniform knocking on my door to sell me something for scouting. It’s so rare to see them in uniform and even rarer that they’re going door to door rather than just setting up a table at Walmart. I can’t help but buy from them.

    I’ve always thought the Girl Scouts have a bit of a PR problem with people who have never been involved in any way with Girl Scouts. You ask the “Average Joe” about what Girl Scouts does and what it’s about and other than saying “they sell cookies” they probably couldn’t tell you. Boy Scouts isn’t as bad off, but still, most people would tell you all they do is camp. As far as much of the world is concerned Girl Scouts might as well be named Cookie Scouts. They should do something about that.

    Around here they also have this sneaky way of guilting parents into being troop leaders. They go out to schools and setup a table during open house at the beginning of the year and get a bunch of names of interested girls. The girls get all excited thinking they just joined Girl Scouts. The problem is that there’s frequently no active troop for those girls to join. So, they call the parents and basically say, “I see so-and-so is interested in Girl Scouts. Great! Unfortunately, unless a parent steps forward and volunteers to be a troop leader there won’t be a troop.” It’s the scouting equivalent of dropping a puppy in a kids lap, letting them fall in love with it, and then telling the parents what it costs. I never understood why they think every single elementary school needs its own troop. Apparently, they prefer a dozen troops of 5 or 6 girls with a dozen parent leaders to one troop of 30 girls with a couple of dedicated leaders. Odd. Boy Scouts tends to have one troop per town in smaller towns or one troop per zip code in larger cities. Pool the kids. Pool the volunteers. Everyone has more fun and it’s a lot less stress.

  6. I could wish that HMG hadn’t decided to lengthen the gap between the 2 shots, they say, “To improve availability of the first dose for more people.”

    Lengthening the gap also opens up the opportunities for mischief with people using money and influence to jump the line. We’ve already seen that here in the US now that the preliminary evidence suggests the shots may well be safe for most patients.

    Infrastructure requirements for distribution may well be the one thing preventing full-blown arbitrage of the supply in the US … like PlayStation 5. Even a well appointed concierge practice is not going to have the refrigeration capability and biotech product handling knowledge of a large hospital.


  7. Apparently, they prefer a dozen troops of 5 or 6 girls with a dozen parent leaders to one troop of 30 girls with a couple of dedicated leaders. Odd. Boy Scouts tends to have one troop per town in smaller towns or one troop per zip code in larger cities. Pool the kids. Pool the volunteers. Everyone has more fun and it’s a lot less stress.

    –it takes my wife and another mom to run a meeting with 6 girls. Doing anything meaningful takes a lot of supervision. IDK what the council mandated ratio is, but adults are never alone with kids.

    Boy Scouts are gone. Scouting BSA has replaced it, along with the religious based scouting programs. To many gay men. I’m sure they have ratio rules in place now too, but only having girls, I don’t have direct experience.

    I will say that typically they only have troop leaders while the leader has a kid in the program at the same level. That leads to a lot of churn, and it’s hard to get people to volunteer their time. The easiest way is to grab them instead of letting them sit in their car waiting for their kid to finish.

    n

  8. I will say that typically they only have troop leaders while the leader has a kid in the program at the same level. That leads to a lot of churn, and it’s hard to get people to volunteer their time. The easiest way is to grab them instead of letting them sit in their car waiting for their kid to finish.

    With the Girl Scout troops around here, the parent and leadership focus as been way too centered on moving cookies and the “Fall products” so my daughter lost interest in continuing this year, her freshman year of high school.

  9. Wanted to overpay as the fees for underpaying are ridiculous.

    Not unless something drastic has changed in the past couple of years. This is almost a free loan in my experience, and one of the best kept tax “secrets.” Just make sure withholding plus estimated payments cover 80% of the tax due at filing, and there is no interest or penalty. Also, if there is a significant unusual income, estimated taxes are due that quarter, or interest can accrue. That one trips some people.

    I used to have a CPA tax preparer who was brilliant, but afraid of under withholding. I have paid quarterly estimated taxes for decades, because my taxable income fluctuates. I try to arrange to owe a small amount with filing. Overpaying is a free loan to the evil IRS, and was more significant when interest rates were high. One year, I made some serious mistake, and dropped below 80% by a significant dollar amount. The tax guy was surprised to find how little interest and penalty I owed. IIRC, it was only about 2% APR, and then for only a few months.

    I am not a tax lawyer, so check for yourself. There ARE high interest rates and penalties for other money owed. Don’t get caught in those.

  10. Got my Pfizer shot yesterday via Fort Bend county. The arm is a bit sore. The Good Doctor got the Modena shot about 10 days ago, her arm was sore for a bit. Both of us have appointments for followup shots.

    We live in a 55+ community (Bonterra at Cross Creek Ranch) and one of the residents had a contact at county health. We supplied her with our name, phone number, and email address. A link for us to sign up was provided, and we registered there. After a bit, an email arrived with a link to a site with health and other screening questions. I filled it out, got approved, printed the “check mark” paper with my data. The form included signing a hold harmless waiver for the county and the people giving the shots.

    I went to my appointment at the county fairgrounds. The line was very long, as they got started behind schedule in the morning and it was still lunch time for some of the staff. THey had a staffer with a 4 wheeler to assist people in getting to and from their cars to the line if they needed assistance and wheelchairs were available. I waited an hour to get to to the initial screening area – they looked over my paperwork, did an ID check, took a picture of my ID and Medicare card, had me fill out the consent form, and I was then sent to get my shot. At several steps, I had my temperature taken by a remote sensor on a pole. (I’ve seen these at a few businesses at the entrance.) I waited 30 minutes in the line for the shot. They had about 20 stations set up with chairs, a privacy screen, and three people. At each, they had a green flag to signal that they were ready for a patient and a red one to signal that they needed vaccine. I handed over my paperwork, verified my identity, answered the health questions again. A person arrived with a cart with two portable refrigerators (battery powered, it looked like), took out a filled syringe and paperwork, and gave them to the staff. I was given the shot and my official COVID vaccine card. The staff at my station was a supervising registered nurse and two nursing students from the University of Houston.

    After the shot, you have to wait to check for an allergic reaction. I was given a red “30 minutes” card with the time I was to leave. I had to wait 30 minutes instead of the usual 15 because I have a specific drug allergy, which is unlikely to cause a problem, but they want to be sure. There was a holding area with chairs laid out in a grid. I sat and read, then went to turn in my card and get my second shot appointment. I was there 2 hours.

    All in all, well run. When I go back, I will bring a folding chair, though. Most of the staff were volunteers, according to their badges and I thanked them at every step.

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  11. @ech:
    My experience was similar. The bureaucracy is different (the appointment is made on line, upon being notified that jabs are available for your cohort (we’re still at the senior citizen, with health problems, stage)

    You attend at the appointed time, identify yourself, and wait to be called. No temperature checks. After a short catechism, you get your shot, and are requested to wait for 15 minutes (I have no allergies)

    Then you are free to leave. 2nd shot appointments are made when the NHS calls you – and by HMG fiat, that’s about 10-12 weeks.

    As you, I had no problems, barring a sore arm.

    G.

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  12. @Jenny – How did the “Ferris Bueller” screening go?

    It is too bad that, given the age of your kids, that you couldn’t make it a double feature with “The Freshman”. That movie has some of the best “Ferris Bueller” lines not in a movie with the words “Ferris Bueller” in the title, and Marlon Brando is awesome riffing on his most memorable character.

    Depending on how you feel about “Honeymoon in Vegas”, “The Freshman” could, arguably, be the last great script from Andrew Bergman we’ll see, but who knows.

  13. @Greg
    I haven’t seen The Freshman, I’ll add it to my list – thanks for the suggestion.

    FBDO was fantastic. Twelve of us in theater, those with higher health risks / exposures sat farther apart.
    Movie plus concessions was $150. We could have had eight more attend.

    I arrived early, signed their “I was here” Covid form. Nobody checked to see if it was legible. They scanned my barcode and printed off twenty tickets with the suggestion I could text pics of the tickets to folks if I didn’t want to wait for them to arrive.
    When I ordered the tickets I had the option to preorder concessions- I didn’t. As folks arrived I got their snack order and sent them on to get seated. Took maybe 10 minutes to get popcorn and drinks for everyone. The concessions gal grabbed a cart of her own initiative and helped me get things to the theater.

    I’ve seen the movie multiple times on tv but never on the big screen. What a delight. Couple folks had never seen it – we filled the theater with laughter. A very fine time.

    This was through a Cinemark theater. Every so often they change what movies are available. A mix of old school and current releases, maybe a dozen options. They can’t possibly have made any money off us, not sustainable, but was a pretty relaxed experience.

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  14. ” so my daughter lost interest in continuing this year, her freshman year of high school.” Not much new I think, my wife dropped the Girl Scouts and went to 4-H in the 1950s just so she could actually learn something.

  15. It’s no surprise that girls want to do boy scout things. If they are interested in that stuff, it would be a very unusual GS troop that did any of it. The badges are very lightweight as are their normal activities. Camps are fun (according to the girls and mom) but the subject based camps are very lightweight too.

    n

  16. @Jenny, that sounds like such a fun event. And a great idea for an age when it can be a challenge to come up with good party ideas. We’ve attended private screenings before, but in the church auditorium. I bet the theater will generate some more events from your guests and the word of mouth!

    Once upon a time I kept books for a movie theater. While box office gross was a big deal even back then, the number of tickets sold was just as important, so your theater will be able to claim 20 people. At that time, theaters liked to do off-hours events screening old movies to keep the excitement of the theater going, and the movie companies loved getting their classics back in circulation. “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was always reliable (this was in the late 1980s). And during football season, our theater had a deal with the coach to do a Friday afternoon matinee for the football team every game day. I remember the coach asking for a war movie or Red Dawn, so the boys would be pumped up for the game a couple hours later.

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  17. This was through a Cinemark theater. Every so often they change what movies are available. A mix of old school and current releases, maybe a dozen options. They can’t possibly have made any money off us, not sustainable, but was a pretty relaxed experience.

    Never turn down an opportunity to see some films on a big screen.

    Next year will be the “Lawrence of Arabia” 60th anniversary. If you see a showtime in 70mm for your theater, find a sitter and go.

  18. All in all, well run. When I go back, I will bring a folding chair, though. Most of the staff were volunteers, according to their badges and I thanked them at every step.

    Take a rolling walker with big offroad wheels. My daughter uses the model that pulls up in the middle for narrow doorways. Ah, finally found it with the strap in the middle for easy pullup.
    https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Medical-Nitro-Rollator-Walker/dp/B009SOC9PI/

    And if you have dizzy spells, my daughter is continuously dizzy, the brakes are very nice.

  19. No jab for me yet, and I will be surprised if it happens before May. July is more likely. My MIL (82, living in an assisted care home) just got here first dose. They are prioritizing care-givers and older folks, particularly those in homes. Like the US, the Canadian federal government is all over acquiring vaccines (some 50 million plus full doses for 38 million people has been purchased, but not delivered) but is having logistical problems. In the end, logistics are local – provincial and regional/county level. It is the local organizations that are actually scheduling and performing the jab. You can expect a range of behaviors here from brilliant to dismal. It won’t be perfect and the critique will be how many could have been saved if it was perfect, which is not a useful critique.

  20. Next year will be the “Lawrence of Arabia” 60th anniversary. If you see a showtime in 70mm for your theater, find a sitter and go.

    Do many movie houses have film capability any more? Maybe in big city old line theaters, but in our town the eight screen movie house went all digital a few years ago. I saw their old projectors sitting in crates in a hallway for a few months. Wonder what happened to them? I think they were 35mm.


  21. Next year will be the “Lawrence of Arabia” 60th anniversary. If you see a showtime in 70mm for your theater, find a sitter and go.

    Do many movie houses have film capability any more? Maybe in big city old line theaters, but in our town the eight screen movie house went all digital a few years ago. I saw their old projectors sitting in crates in a hallway for a few months. Wonder what happened to them? I think they were 35mm.

    About the same thing that happened to most broadcast quality turntables and LP cutting equipment when CDs came in. Check the local scrap-yard. (Of course, then the music files went digital distribution as well, so same destination for the CD players).

  22. Note to self, install a 20 KW natural gas generator that runs on natural gas piped to the house with auto start. Lengthy blackouts will become common in Biden’s America.

    Uh, weren’t you the one who said that the gas grid was switched from self powered to electric grid powered a couple decades ago? Also, around here if there is a widespread disaster such as a wildfire or flood, the gas is shut off as a precaution. AFAIK, we can no longer rely on nat gas in extreme conditions.

    We don’t have gas of any kind at our home. If I wanted a large generator, I would get a big propane tank. A friend has a 1000 gallon tank that he uses mostly for vehicles. He probably has enough PV solar and batteries to keep going indefinitely. He used to design and provide off grid power systems to remote sites, and designed his home to take advantage of his leftovers. Decades ago this was generators and batteries, but by the time he retired it became PV solar and batteries. These were “small” systems, none bigger than ~50 kW. There are many remote sites in these parts, in fact, we ARE remote. 😉

  23. My wife and the Neurologist’s nurse have gotten our 33 year old disabled daughter back on BCBSTX (Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas) as my dependent. And they backdated it to Dec 1, 2020 when they dropped her and sent out the letter that arrived Dec 17, 2020. Scumbags ! They did not give us any time period to find her a new health insurance provider. Turns out that BCBSTX changed the annual disability form by adding a back side to it and neither the nurse nor my wife noticed that.

    Just in time too. The neurologist ordered another MRI last fall which we are just going to pay the $700 fee at MRIs Are Us. And he ordered another iron transfusion at the Cancer Clinic of Sugar Land (number three). The prescription iron pills have stopped working and her blood iron is at 8.0. He wants her at 11.0. With BCBSTX, the iron transfusion costs us $1,100 out of pocket, without … shudder.

    America’s healthcare is awesome, best in the world without question in my mind. Paying for it is a disaster, just too complicated.

    We are trying to get the daughter on Social Security Disability (SSI). They turned her down based on the paperwork from us and the doctor since the wife and I are both still alive (yes, they said that). Now we have to hire a lawyer and sue Social Security. And once we get SSI for her, she will be enrolled in Medicare, not Medicaid, automatically.

  24. About the same thing that happened to most broadcast quality turntables and LP cutting equipment when CDs came in. Check the local scrap-yard.

    Probably. I worked in broadcasting, and the turntables we had were designed to be quick-start, rugged, and decent sound quality, in that order. Most of them were beat up. They did sound pretty good, mostly because they had good tone arms, cartridges, and needles. I hated records, but liked tape. Now, all of that is obsolete.

    I was reading for my amusement, and television (my former field) is now all digital, with database driven server farms. Wow, that must be great. I remember struggling with 2″ quad scan tape. A half hour reel probably weighed ten pounds, and took a while to mount and get ready for playback. Everything was expensive, big, and high quality. Cost a lot, too. We have come a long way since the 1960s. Wonder what will happen next?

  25. Note to self, install a 20 KW natural gas generator that runs on natural gas piped to the house with auto start. Lengthy blackouts will become common in Biden’s America.

    Uh, weren’t you the one who said that the gas grid was switched from self powered to electric grid powered a couple decades ago? Also, around here if there is a widespread disaster such as a wildfire or flood, the gas is shut off as a precaution. AFAIK, we can no longer rely on nat gas in extreme conditions.

    We don’t have gas of any kind at our home. If I wanted a large generator, I would get a big propane tank. A friend has a 1000 gallon tank that he uses mostly for vehicles. He probably has enough PV solar and batteries to keep going indefinitely. He used to design and provide off grid power systems to remote sites, and designed his home to take advantage of his leftovers. Decades ago this was generators and batteries, but by the time he retired it became PV solar and batteries. These were “small” systems, none bigger than ~50 kW. There are many remote sites in these parts, in fact, we ARE remote.

    Yes, the natural gas compressors in the nine county non-attainment region (EPA) around Houston were built with electric motors starting in 1995. Huge motors, 35,000 hp to 60,000 hp each. Texas now knows where the natural gas compressor motors are and will not blackout them if at all possible due to the subsequent failure of the natural gas power plants in the area. I have 2,000 MW of natural gas power plants and 2,000 MW of coal power plants just five miles down the road from us. Plus there is a another natural gas combined cycle plant right next to it. When they blacked out west Houston back in 1999 during the massive Labor Day heat wave (113 F right here), they ran all of the natural gas power plants out of fuel. The steam units require 80 psig and the combined cycle units require 400 psig of natural gas at the gas yard.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WA_Parish_Generating_Station

    The problem with propane is that my HOA does not like them. My neighbor has a 500 gallon propane tank for his generator and he has bushes all around it. And it is difficult to keep that tank full. I am not sure what the run rate on his 16 KW generator is but I would not be surprised at a couple of gallons per hour. That mounts up quickly.

    We did not lose natural gas during the last three hurricanes in Texas in our area: Allison, Ike, and Harvey. But we lost electric power for three days at my house in Ike and many people lost power for weeks in the outlying areas. I would like to have enough fuel to run a 20 KW generator for a month. Propane is not going to do that.

  26. Lynn, I have been meaning to comment on your daughter’s health for some time. I really feel for you guys, and wish things could be a lot better. This is a good example of a situation that can happen to anybody through no fault of their own, whose health suddenly takes a nosedive, with terrible consequences. I hope her situation improves. Meanwhile, as you say, we have the best health care in the world. Too bad the government is trying to mess it up. It is good that she has loving parents, who can at least afford to care for her.

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  27. We have come a long way since the 1960s. Wonder what will happen next?

    Terrestrial broadcast TV and radio frequencies get auctioned off to the wireless carriers.

  28. I would like to have enough fuel to run a 20 KW generator for a month. Propane is not going to do that.

    Our needs here are very different. I always wanted a generator system like you describe, but made do with smaller setups. Since some equipment changes, our nuisance power outages (a few seconds to a few minutes max) have greatly diminished. Now, I only have to plan for days or indefinite outages in SHTF situations.

    As PV solar becomes more affordable, that is what I will be doing. I will spec a modest PV system with a small battery and off-grid capability, with a grid-tie option. Sounds complicated, but not really. It IS more expensive than a solely grid-tied system, but I am not doing it solely to save utility bills. Like Rick, we can run our household summer and winter for modest power needs, probably 10 kWh per day, but I will have to do a more careful analysis.

    My biggest challenge will be water, but that is an entirely different subject.

    Oh, and about TX nat gas distribution, what you describe seems a good design. I doubt CA is as good, and that is why I have decided not to try to hook up to gas here.

  29. @jimb:
    As a (retired) broadcast TV engineer, I have had experience of telecine and videotape from Cintel, and Ampex from Quad onwards. I was originally a telecine man, but when I took a post at BBC Enterprises (Auntie’s programme sales arm) I was introduced to C format, and very soon thereafter Quad, and B format (did you ever see that?)

    Thereafter Betacam SP, DigiBeta and HDCAM SR (with a side excursion into D3) before moving to servers, and editing in Final Cut 7 and Adobe Premiere on Mac (My then-employer passed on FCP X, in favour of Adobe)

    G.

  30. “If We Can Now Impeach Former Presidents Why Don’t We Start with Obama?”
    https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/01/can-now-impeach-former-presidents-dont-start-obama/

    “The Democrats in the Senate want to hold an impeachment hearing of former President Donald Trump because he complained that his stolen election was stolen. Now that his opponent was installed in his place, the Democrats want to impeach President Trump. This is the very definition of a Banana Republic.”

    “According to Democrat constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz, however, you can’t impeach a former president:”

    Why not go ahead and impeach Obama ?

    And a caller to the Rush Limbaugh show this morning noted that they are talking about throwing Trump out of his office back to the start date of his presidency in 2017. That would be … interesting.

  31. “Are You Ready For The ‘FANGMAN’? — What To Know About The New Acronym On The Block”
    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ready-fangman-know-acronym-block-201204798.html

    “For instance, the S&P 500 Index ended 2020 at a record high and in the process generated a return of 16.2% for the year. The FANGMAN stocks played a big role int that as they outperformed the broader gauge:
    Facebook: 33%
    Amazon: 76.3%
    Netflix: 67.1%
    Alphabet: 30.9%
    Microsoft: 42.5%
    Apple: 82.3%
    Nvidia: 129.3%”

    Wow !

  32. “Morgan Stanley: A new cycle begins for global gas, LNG”
    https://www.ogj.com/general-interest/economics-markets/article/14196125/morgan-stanley-a-new-cycle-begins-for-global-gas-lng

    “After hitting historic lows mid-2020, global gas prices staged a rally, up 4-10 times. Elevated spot prices should moderate, but Morgan Stanley reiterates its call for a multiyear LNG recovery with a supply shortfall by 2023.”

    Please, please, please. I promise we won’t spend it all this time.


  33. I admit I haven’t read the article, because I HATE reading on my phone, but I wonder as to the data. I know that in the UK “Vaccine Deaths” include ANYONE who dies shortly following vaccination. So if you die of a stroke or heart attack following the jab, you are counted as a vaccine fatality. In one case I read of a woman who died in a car accident on the way home from the jab was counted as a vaccine death.

    The data in the VAERS system the article cited is intended to include ALL reactions, injuries, and deaths from vaccines. They want unfiltered data so as to be able to spot trends. The article scarily points out that less than 1% of vaccine events aren’t reported. Right – I had reactions to the shingles vaccine that I had last year. After the first injection, my arm was sore. After the second, I felt lethargic and achy. Neither were reported – because they are known side effects of vaccines. With the exception of the fetal death, the deaths called out were of seriously ill nursing home cases. Given the number of people given the vaccine, it’s simply statistics that a number will die after being given the shot.

    The site is an anti-vaxx site and should be viewed with application of a BS detector with extreme prejudice.

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  34. “According to Democrat constitutional attorney Alan Dershowitz, however, you can’t impeach a former president:”

    For every Constitutional attorney who says “you can’t” you can find one that says “you can.” From what I understand the point of dispute is the punishment if convicted. The proscribed punishment is removal from office but since Trump’s term expired five days ago, then what? (And yes, there is the prevention of holding office in the future but that is based on a separate Senate vote.) I presume, if raised by Trump’s attorney, this would need to be settled by the SCOTUS.

  35. And a caller to the Rush Limbaugh show this morning noted that they are talking about throwing Trump out of his office back to the start date of his presidency in 2017. That would be … interesting.

    Interesting but it buys them nothing. Pence and the cabinet never once hinted at the 25th Amendment over any EO or bill Trump signed into law.

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  36. I would like to have enough fuel to run a 20 KW generator for a month. Propane is not going to do that.

    Our needs here are very different. I always wanted a generator system like you describe, but made do with smaller setups. Since some equipment changes, our nuisance power outages (a few seconds to a few minutes max) have greatly diminished. Now, I only have to plan for days or indefinite outages in SHTF situations.

    As PV solar becomes more affordable, that is what I will be doing. I will spec a modest PV system with a small battery and off-grid capability, with a grid-tie option. Sounds complicated, but not really. It IS more expensive than a solely grid-tied system, but I am not doing it solely to save utility bills. Like Rick, we can run our household summer and winter for modest power needs, probably 10 kWh per day, but I will have to do a more careful analysis.

    BTW, alternatively, I would like to buy a Ford pickup that can generate and store power for me that I can power my home with. Their recent patent on a range extender in the bed for a total electric pickup looks interesting. Very interesting.
    https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a34277725/ford-f-150-range-extender-ev-pickup-patent/

    Are you thinking of rolling your own battery system or using the Tesla Powerwall ?

    BTW2, in the summer time, we use 70 to 80 kwh/day at the house. In the winter time below 50 F, we use 20 to 30 kwh/day at the house. Winter is almost over here in South Texas as we had the air conditioning on at both the house and office starting Saturday since the day time temperatures were about 75 F with 90% humidity.


  37. Winter is almost over here in South Texas as we had the air conditioning on

    Meanwhile, it’s been cold enough in upstate NY that the heater’s been running quite a lot of the time and I felt cold outside this morning. I, who haven’t worn long pants in 10 1/2 months and haven’t worn a jacket in, well, 20 years or so, and sometimes shovel snow barefoot, felt the cold. (While it’s not a jacket, I do usually wear a hooded sweatshirt when I go outside. 3F isn’t t-shirt weather if you’re going to be out in it for more than a few minutes, not when the wind’s blowing.)

  38. Uh, Senator Leahy will preside over tRump’s trial, not SCOTUS Roberts. I guess the Dumbocrats will be judge, jury and executioner. Surely this is wrong. How can it be fair. I hope the Dumbo shoot themselves in the foot just like Dirty Harry Reid did.

    And Bishop Mittens is squawking about voting for conviction. I hope the tRump Patriot Party goes after Mittens first.

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  39. @MrAtoz:

    I hope the tRump Patriot Party goes after Mittens first.

    I suspect that all the old style Republicans are not-so-secretly happy that Trump left of his own will, but under a cloud. I don’t believe that they trust him, all protestations notwithstanding, because he “isn’t one of us.”

    Which seems to me to be exactly why he had, and seemingly still has, such grassroots popularity.

    But what do I know, UKian that I am, and almost fanatical non-follower of politics, even at home, to boot.

    G.

  40. And Bishop Mittens is squawking about voting for conviction. I hope the tRump Patriot Party goes after Mittens first.

    Mittens is still steamed about having to vote for Touchdown Jesus to get a Supreme Court seat.

    Plus the payola from the Payola Seat went to Pence, and it won’t come up again for 30-40 years.

    He’ll be under more pressure from the Elders to vote ‘no’ when the Roe Seat comes up after Breyer retires and the Dems try to put a hard left candidate in the chair.

    Here’s a question for Mittens — How much SolarWinds IPO money is in your bank account, Senator?

    Trump knows.

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  41. Well, according to several news reports:

    The Constitution says the chief justice presides when the person facing trial is the current president of the United States, but senators preside in other cases

    So, not one of the Supreme’s jobs to preside in this case.

  42. “This is my shocked face”
    https://areaocho.com/this-is-my-shocked-face/

    “FBI and DOJ say that they are not going to press charges against SOME rioters from Capitol
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/justice-department-fbi-debate-not-charging-some-of-the-capitol-rioters/ar-BB1d1Upf
    incursion. I’m not surprised. In fact, I think I can tell you which ones will not be prosecuted.”
    https://nypost.com/2021/01/07/known-antifa-members-posed-as-pro-trump-to-infiltrate-capitol-riot-sources/

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  43. So, not one of the Supreme’s jobs to preside in this case.

    It doesn’t say zir can’t.

    And Dumbos, in an act of heeling, pick a Dumbo. Set the precedent, Dumbos. Kangaroo court much.


  44. Surely this is wrong. How can it be fair.

    Never let a good opportunity to make things more partisan go to waste.

  45. As a (retired) broadcast TV engineer, I have had experience of telecine and videotape…

    Geoff, I rarely meet anyone who worked in that field. You had an interesting career that covered a lot.

    I was a summer employee for WXYZ-TV Detroit (Southfield, MI was the actual location) in 1964-65. As such, with a First Class Radiotelephone license (still have it, because the FCC eliminated the requirement to use it actively,) I could do everything a permanent employee could do, including operate the transmitter. This one of the five (max allowed at the time) ABC owned stations in the US. There were about 60 broadcast engineers employed there, and about a hundred total employees. Also under the same roof was AM and FM radio. The station had a square mile of land, and all facilities including the 1000’ antenna and transmitter were on site, very convenient.

    Once I proved myself, I asked management to allow me to become proficient on everything, and please consider me for as much overtime as available, because I was working my way through university. I made very good money, and the work was some of the most enjoyable I have ever done. I even considered going back after graduating as an electrical engineer, but didn’t want to stay in the area. Thus ended my TV experience.

    We used only quad scan VTRs in the studio at the time, two Ampex and one RCA. We also bought one of the early helical scan Ampex “portable” units that used 1” tape. It weighed a lot, and needed two strong guys to carry it. It was used for remote production, and was considered almost broadcast quality. What a beast. That is all my video tape exposure. Oh, we also did limited editing by splicing on those quad units, using a microscope setup. We did a lot of commercial production, and all of it was shot to tape. On site news footage was still shot on 16mm film, an operation unto itself. I still marvel at how much work there used to be just to make a half hour news show.

    Because of union jurisdictions, I was not able to do any telecine or slide work; that was the purview of the projectionists. They were a friendly bunch, but their room was walled off from the rest of us for dust control. No one was allowed in there unless they worked there. All working film was stored in there.

    There were also stagehand, lighting, and production unions. Everything else was the realm of the engineers. Surprisingly in spite of the seeming union complexity, everyone got along very well. Unlike the other local stations, we did not have technicians; all were engineers, and had at least a Second Class FCC license, a barrier to entry. There were three other summer employees. I was allowed to operate cameras, audio, video, VTR, and the transmitter. Only a senior engineer was allowed to be a technical director, and switch video. I was actually interested in becoming a line director, but never pursued it. Some jobs, including director, had very few openings, and it was normal to have to wait in another job for several years until someone retired.

    I have always had a lot of respect for the BBC, although I am not acquainted with their internal operation. They were, and probably still are, highly regarded for their production standards. What was it like to work there?

  46. I admit I haven’t read the article, because I HATE reading on my phone…

    I read for one to maybe three or four hours a day on my Android phone. I sometimes prefer it to a desktop screen. I wonder if you have explored all the various settings? I have text set larger, and several other things adjusted to be easy on my eyes. My screen is the same resolution as my desktop monitor, 1920×1080. Since it is only 5.7”, the pixels are very small and sharp. It takes a pretty powerful magnifying glass to see them. Just a suggestion.

    I have kinda wanted a tablet, but I really prefer my phone. It fits in my shirt pocket, and is always with me. My wife wanted a notebook, and until I got her one, I would not consider a tablet. I tried to interest her in a tablet, but no go. To each his own. I hate notebooks. Small screens, lousy keyboards; too much sacrificed for portability, which I don’t need.

  47. “Alleged intruder shot by mom left a trail of blood, making it easy for Sugar Land police to find him
    Sugar Land police say a woman at home with her 8-year-old child opened fire on a home invasion suspect early Friday.”
    https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/sugar-land-shooting-sugar-mill-shadow-wood-mother-shoots-man-back-door/285-3dc551c7-a6d3-43e8-b7a5-c131dcf6fc96

    Another one of my neighbors has had to shoot a home invader in the middle of the night. And this one was carrying. They are getting bolder and/or more desperate !

    The husband was out at their ranch on the other side of San Antonio. The US Law Shield lawyer got to their home before he did. Makes one wonder if one needs to join US Law Shield.
    https://www.uslawshield.com/

  48. Based on their involvement in the fraudulent Russian accusations and first impeachment of President Trump, articles of impeachment need to be filed against Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Clinton at a minimum.

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  49. I like US Law Shield, locally in the form of TX Law Shield. If you carry or have defensive guns at home you need something like it. You need a lawyer who is very familiar with the issues. There was an eye opening piece on why you might NOT want to claim self defense, for example.

    Additionally, TX Law Shield sponsors local range nights and gunshot first aid classes.

    Seem like good folks and not ambulance chasers.

    n

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  50. I like US Law Shield, locally in the form of TX Law Shield. If you carry or have defensive guns at home you need something like it. You need a lawyer who is very familiar with the issues. There was an eye opening piece on why you might NOT want to claim self defense, for example.

    Additionally, TX Law Shield sponsors local range nights and gunshot first aid classes.

    Seem like good folks and not ambulance chasers.

    n

    I’ve been to one of their seminars at Bass Pro Shops where the Houston Detective explained the difference between Officer Friendly and Officer Scared. He was very good in explaining what you need to do if you shoot somebody. He told of one scene he got to as the ambulance pulled up. He had no idea what had happened and who was good guy and who was bad guy. He said the guy standing had already put his gun on the ground. He asked him did he know he was bleeding from the gut ? The guy had no idea that he was bleeding and collapsed to the ground.

  51. Based on their involvement in the fraudulent Russian accusations and first impeachment of President Trump, articles of impeachment need to be filed against Obama, Biden, Pelosi, and Clinton at a minimum.

    Which Clinton ? I would be ok with both.

    The Senate has already ruled that members of the House and Senate cannot be impeached since their own bodies have rules for throwing members out.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment_in_the_United_States#Who_can_be_impeached


  52. Which Clinton ? I would be ok with both.

    Throw all three in jail, including Hubbell’s kid.

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  53. Very cloudy and damp early this morning but it cleared and I was able burn the trees limbs, etc., I stacked yesterday. Ready for the contractor to build the pad for the slab.
    Confirmed a stick built shop would be more expensive as wood prices have really increased. Getting one more local quote for the steel before I write a deposit check.

    My prostate MRI results were bad. My doctor wants to do a fusion biopsy now. No date yet.
    Made an appointment to interview a electrical contractor Thursday.

    Got 25 KN96 masks in the mail today. They have been on back order for weeks. Took them to my son since they won’t get their vaccine shots for some time.

    Finished “Strangers in the Universe” by Clifford D. Simak, a short story collection from the early ’50s. (Three books in progress, eleventy-dozen lined up all clamoring to be next.)

  54. It’s so sad.

    My dad subscribed to Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Mechanix Illustrated for decades. I don’t know how old I was when I started reading them. By 8 for sure. I grew up with Smokey Yunick, Tom McCahill, Rosario Capotosto, and a slew of others. I read them for their technical expertise, not for what they could distort through their own biases.

    I added Scientific American at some point, reading it at the library, then started spending more time browsing in the periodical room. Nature, Science, Science Digest, and a bunch of others got regular looks.

    It’s long past the point when I gave them up. We parted company twenty years ago when I dug into global warming and failed to find science. (Dr. Pournelle got me started with a comment) They’re even more prog and woke now. Coated paper makes lousy substitute for toilet paper, otherwise they’d be a substitute for the old Sears catalog.

    (Back in 1968 PS did a multi-part series on building an off-the-grid retreat. Updating it fifty years later would be a great idea. I’m sure they’re too busy pivoting from opposing everything the Trump did or said to lapping Biden’s nether parts.)

    I subscribed to Wired for many years, but they wore me off their subscriber list with too much viewpoint before objectivity.

    If I could have just one back, it would be Byte and Computing at Chaos Manor.

  55. Hillary was the one directly involved in the Russia hoax.

    “The Senate has already ruled that members of the House and Senate cannot be impeached since their own bodies have rules for throwing members out.”

    I must have missed that in the Constitution.

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  56. My prostate MRI results were bad. My doctor wants to do a fusion biopsy now. No date yet.

    Sorry to hear that. Both of my grandfathers had their prostates removed. One was 85, the other was 59. Both removals were late with diapers required afterwards. I plan to remove mine if needed as several of my friends have done so. My dad still has his at 82 but has really cut his liquids intake so he does not have to pee every thirty minutes.

  57. I really liked Popular Science and subscribed from the time time I was 10 until I was 40. Seemed to become too liberal and was no longer science but liberal talking points.

    Used to be a column called something…something Circuit Cellar. Would have useful projects. Some a printed circuit board could be ordered. I built several of the projects. Good stuff.

    I wrote an article for Byte Magazine on programming calculators. The HP-67 to do calculations to optimize reads and writes for spinning disk drives. Making certain the read/write head was a millisecond or two from the point needed and optimizing buffer space for the activity. Got paid a pittance.

    Eventually wrote articles for Burroughs World, which became Unisys World. Pay was much better. Did 26 articles over the years as I did not do a monthly article.

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  58. Finished “Strangers in the Universe” by Clifford D. Simak, a short story collection from the early ’50s. (Three books in progress, eleventy-dozen lined up all clamoring to be next.)

    I read Simak’s “The Werewolf Principal” five years ago that my daughter bought for me at Half Price Books. Recommended.
    https://www.amazon.com/Werewolf-Principle-Clifford-D-Simak/dp/0879977086/?tag=ttgnet-20

    I have about 400 books in my SBR (strategic book reserve) and am adding way too many “new” books to it. The wife has noticed and is complaining. Hopefully she will not start auditing me. I am rereading three old series at the moment and two new series. The order is intensely random.

  59. @Bob Sprowl
    Heinlein and Asimov both held Simak in high esteem. I know I read every one of his novels (tops for me was Way Station), but the new “Complete Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak” is being published by Dave Wixon, his long-time friend and literary executor, and is twelve volumes, with some previously unpublished stories and commentary by Wixon.

    Alas, no dead tree version–KIndle only.


  60. prostate MRI results

    It is good that the doctor wants better information before proceeding, and is not going straight to a “blind” biopsy.

    Prostate cancer is usually pretty slow. You have time to research before deciding how you want to proceed. Don’t rush.

    I am currently going through my second set of chemotherapy sessions for prostate cancer. I was diagnosed late, and my confirming biopsy was of an easily accessible swollen lymph node rather than the prostate itself, so I don’t have any direct experience of what you are going through, but if you would like I could send you links to some of the resources I have found along the way.

    My email address is my handle here append lunkett at You Always Have Other Options

  61. If I could have just one back, it would be Byte and Computing at Chaos Manor.

    Me too. I have replaced Byte with “Maximum PC” that just talks about building cheap PCs to liquid nitrogen cooled PCs. And games, hardware, and a lot of open source software. Three good recommended PC builds (budget $700, mid-range $1,300, and turbo $2,500) each month with available parts and cost. I am about eight months behind on it.
    https://www.zinio.com/maximum-pc-m6879
    and
    http://mos.futureplc.com/Maximum_pc_landing_page_updated.html

  62. @Ray Thompson
    Steve Ciarcia wrote the Circuit Cellar column in Byte in the 70’s/80’s.

    @Lynn
    Werewolf Principle and Goblin Reservation are the rest of my Simak top three.

  63. HPB puts a lot of older science fiction in bags and prices them at $2. Good place to look for illustrator covers.

    BTW, the Simak short story series does have a dead tree edition–paperback only. No HC. I wonder if there is a library binding edition?

  64. Had my prostrate finger poked and determined to be “slightly swollen” which was confirmed with imaging. That was back in Feb or Mar? Verdict was ‘nothing of concern.’ My neighbor across the street is dying from his. The cancer spread I think. He had proton therapy and then some chemo. He looks like hell and barely gets around. Wife’s uncle wears a diaper. His comment was “I got to see my daughter get married, and I got grandkids.” So, worth it. He’s actually not much older than I am. Get the data, make a decision. Living with it until something else kills you might be an option.

    n

    (and best of luck for a good outcome)


  65. Clifford D. Simak

    I’ve read quite a number of short stories from him in Galaxy Magazine. I liked them all. One of the best to get published there.

  66. I wrote several articles for Kilobaud Magazine in the late 70s. Kilobaud was a Byte wannabe but had good technical articles and paid OK for a rookie. I really miss those wild and wooly days when you could buy an amazing 8k S100 memory card or a 300 baud modem. I recall a scandal when a company that was running flashy multi page adds for exciting S100 boards at ridiculous prices was exposed as a fraud that took millions in excited hobbyists cash and dissapeared without delivering a thing.

  67. @jimb:
    Yes, it was interesting. 46 years in the business, first at Auntie – 19 years there. Straight out of university, with a Joint Honours in Physics and Electronic Engineering.

    It was a friendly place – first name terms for everyone I routinely encountered. I wouldn’t have presumed to address the Director-General by his first name, of course! There were unions, but no “closed shop” – i.e. membership not required. I was a member of the Association of Broadcasting Staff – ABS. My branch, known as TV2, got a little cheesed off by being always used as the point of the ABS’s spear – industrial action by us was the most immediately visible. That’s where I got introduced to videotape, after starting off maintaining film euipment, before moving to telecine. Always Cintel, always flying-spot, no cameras pointed at projectors.

    Then, after Auntie made me redundant, I moved to Rupert Murdoch’s $ky TV for 18 months. I left there after I was passed over for promotion. In retrospect, that was a good thing – I wouldn’t have been happy flying a desk.

    And finally, 16 years at an oversea satellite TV company, transmitting to their home nations from the UK – there was a reason for this, relating to laws about advertising. That’s where I encountered BetaCam SP, Digital BetaCam and HDCAM SR, seriatim, before server-based transmission and Final Cut/Premiere.

    So that’s my career, in a nutshell. Along the way, I managed to get married, and have 3 daughters. It’s been a good life, and I like to think I’ve done well by the world.

    G.

  68. @geoff, that’s quite a career. I’m a bit surprised by the number of former ‘vidiots’ here! My video engineering was almost all on the projection side, mainly in live events, and playback. I have a degree in theater arts and had to take continuing education at the local community college to learn about studio lighting. It’s very different once cameras and engineering get involved. We had a pretty well equipped studio for those classes and I learned a lot.

    The concert industry went from some little bit of projection to video being the dominant lighting effect in the course of my career. I am barely aware of what I don’t know anymore, just from looking at the ads in trade mags.

    It is a fun and rewarding career.

    n

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