Thur. Oct. 29, 2020 – getting so close I can taste the candy

Cold.  Damp.  Winter in Houston.

Tuesday it was high 40s most of the day, with overcast and misty drizzle.  The sun did come out briefly in the late afternoon.

I turned on the heat for the first time last night.  It was still 74F inside at 7pm, but by 11pm it had fallen to 72F.  That’s too cold for everyone here.  My hands get really stiff when it’s cold.  I know it is winter coming because the skin at the end of my thumbs and side of my first finger gets thick and starts to crack.  My dad’s fingers did the same thing.  I’ll probably have cracks for the next couple of months, most of the time.  Sealing them with superglue can help, as can packing them with AB gel overnight.

I had a fairly productive day, although mostly on a personal level.  I got some more stuff moved and organized in the garage.  Dug out some more stuff for ebay and auctions.  Tested a couple of things.  Got the basic shape cut out for my daughter’s COVID costume (she’s going as the virus, wife will be in yellow tyvek, daughter one will have her ‘I’m smart’ glasses, a lab coat, metal clipboard, and stethoscope.  I don’t dress up, but I might throw on some tyvek and my new chainsaw hardhat and face shield…

I got my candy dispenser working.  It’s a 5 foot long by one foot wide conveyor belt.  It started life as some sort of UV curing tunnel, but the UV light was missing.  It sat in my storage for years, waiting for me to use the motor and controller for something… so I’m using it as a conveyor belt.  Whodathunkit?  I need to dress it up a bit so it looks like a fantasy candy maker.  I’ve got a little tiny fog machine, some blinking lights, a plasma ball, and if I have time, I’ll do some sort of moving thing on top.  I’ll sit behind it and feed candy into it, which will then be conveyed to the kids…Fun!  I hope the rain stops before Halloween.

I’ve got a couple of other things I want to add this year too, but that will be dependent on time…

And all the normal life things don’t stop while I’m making Halloween decor…

Like disasters, fortunately not happening to me, but unfortunate for Louisiana and Mississippi.  Cat 2 hurricane, historic number of storms, 3rd in a row for New Orleans, aaannnndddd….. WAY down the page on news sites.    I miss the 3 days of breathless modeling and speculation.  Anyone here who is affected, reach out to us.

What a year when a Cat 2 hurricane barely rates a mention.

Keep stacking.  If this is normal, think about what ‘worse’ looks like.




Wed. Aug. 26, 2020 – well, better get ready

Hot and humid.  Sweaty like a fat guy’s thighs.

I did move some stuff from the house to storage yesterday.  Not enough.  Not nearly enough.  I’ve got so much loose stuff laying around that I can only hope we don’t actually get high winds, or whale oil beef hooked.

Both of my auction contacts pushed me off on taking them loads of stuff.  Jeez.  I can’t get rid of this stuff.

I did spend some time in meatspace chatting with my buddy and his wife at the gu–  toy store.   He’s gonna consign a couple of things for me.  He’s still doing a brisk business in transfers, but what happens when ALL the inventory is gone and no one can buy anything that needs transferring, and there is no new inventory?  Other people have commented elsewhere that in the short and medium run, gu— toy stores are in economic trouble, despite high demand and prices.

There was a steady stream of people looking for ammo, and not finding it.  I’ll drop a small box by today if I get a chance to sweeten the deal on one of my items.

School is cancelled for today and tomorrow, with Friday still up in the air.  It all depends on Laura, and what she leaves in her wake here in Texas.  I’m hoping for a non-event.  Prepping for a big one, but hoping for small.

And I’m watching the insurgency spread.

At some point in the not too distance past, the move toward ‘officer safety’ started.  Cops began training to avoid going ‘hands on’ to prevent them from being injured*.  At the same time, someone decided that it didn’t look good for cops to be hitting The Usual Suspects(tm) with their fists or ESPECIALLY with sticks.   So someone made a change to policy, and the end state of that is cops are trained to shoot rather than grapple or fight.  Guns are stand off weapons.  Nightsticks, batons, etc, are close in weapons.  The cops can now keep their distance, but changes in doctrine let to changes in tactics.   Policy changes led to us being where we are today.  The same people that don’t want to see a cop with a stick hitting a suspect now cry out when the cop uses the tools and tactics he’s been trained to use, and shoots instead of strikes.  How’s that working out?  Ripples turning into waves….

Speaking of that, John Wilder throws out a number in his recent post, saying ” the dollar losing 7% of its value in three months”.   Without knowing where he got it, I was caught off guard because it was the first time I saw it put so starkly.   It’s what you’d expect when .gov makes the money printers go “brrrrrrr”.  It’s what you see when you’re paying more for everything, especially metals like gold and silver.  But upon reflection 7% seems way too small.  TP is almost double.  Gold went from $1500/oz to almost $2000.  Silver went from $17 to 26 (with higher spots in the last week).  Ammo and gun prices are sky high.  Granted that a lot of the increase in consumer goods pricing is due to scarcity, the metal pricing is more purely inflation for monetary reasons.  Either way, it looks like the dollar is buying a LOT LESS than 93% of what it did in March or June.  Taking a step back, that ripple looks like it could be a really big wave if it gets going.   Ask yourself why it isn’t front page news.  And why no one is framing that decline in purchasing power in terms of inflation.  Venezuela here we come.  Everyone will be shocked when they realize we’re suddenly there “without warning”.  Consider this (and the last couple of years) your fair warning. **

Everything’s better with bacon.  And butter.  And a full pantry.  Keep stacking.



* also about the same time, physical fitness standards were relaxed, and the recruiting pool was broadened.  A whole lot of cops were produced that couldn’t go hands on if they wanted to.

**I’m no financial guru and nothing I say is “financial advice” but I’m certainly taking a hard look at what my condition would be if all my cash and cash equivalents bought me half as much stuff, or one quarter as much, next year.   It might be a good idea to turn some of that cash into something that holds value a bit better, especially if there are bargains to be had.  Assuming I had any cash tucked away…


Sat. June 13, 2020 -Friday the 13th falls on a Saturday this month

Warm moving to hot, decent moving to ‘too humid to breathe’.

Yesterday was a bit cooler than average and a bit drier too.  The shade with a breeze was quite comfortable.

Swim team eats up my mornings.  Falling asleep at my desk after lunch ate my afternoon.  I got very little done besides two loads of laundry and making dinner.

Dinner was lamb roast with potatoes, onion, carrots, garlic, and rosemary in the dish.  A shelf stable loaf of sourdough went in the oven too, since it was on…  I cooked the whole 4 pound roast and was grateful that it hadn’t spoiled with my refrigerator issue.  Chicken and milk did spoil, and I figured it out after the garbage pickup, so my trash is going to be horrific this week…

My non-prepping hobby club will be meeting today.  Normally we meet in a conference room or break room at one of the member’s manufacturing facility.  It’s pretty cramped.  Today the meeting will be in the big community room of a local church.  I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I’ve decided not to go.  I miss the guys and have stuff for show and tell, but I’ve been coughing for 3 days, and even if there is more room and a high ceiling, it’s still an enclosed space.  If I’m avoiding the grocery store, I can’t justify attending my club meeting.  Especially with cases trending up in town and almost every other member being older than me to boot.

I’m going to do my auction pickups and then start pulling back on that again.  I need to narrow my focus back down.  I’d hoped that I was wrong about  wuflu part 2, but it doesn’t look that way.  On top of that, people are working pretty hard at getting CivilWarII started.  More like Civil War, the low intensity conflict version ™ probably, but still gonna suck.

I’ve seen more references to Qanon and the term ‘boogaloo’*  in the press in the last week than, well, ever.  Internet talk is spilling over into Real Life.  From their point of view, you have to familiarize people with the ideas before you can use those ideas to condemn individuals and groups.  That’s beginning.  Divemedic posted some material for thought, namely the US policy analysis and instruction books for insurgency.  He’s raised some convincing points about where we are along that path.   I’ll link in comments because he’s also beginning to sterilize his online presence and I generally try to avoid external links in the post of the day, so they don’t break later.

Things will likely get worse before better.  Plan for it.  Keep stacking.




*not the racial slur, the same idea as “spicy time” or “when things get ‘sporty'”.


Fri. June 1, 2018 – summer and hurricane season are here…

A bit warmer today, with 79F and 87%RH this morning. Clear blue skies and sunny. Ah, summer.

Hurricane season is kicking off here in the Gulf Region (I know, RBT, I know), so it’s time to ramp up the seasonal preps. As I do, I’ll mention it here…. 😉

As an example of the continuing degradation of the public sphere, can anyone here imagine, in your wildest dreams, that someone would call the daughter of the President and a Whitehouse staffer, a “feckless c#nt” on a national TV show?

After [some] public outcry and [some] advertisers bailed, she said ” It was inappropriate and inexcusable. I crossed a line, and I deeply regret it.”

What she means is “I MOVED a line, and next time it will be worse.”

Again, I know I’m ‘doom and gloom’ but think about what it means for our society that stuff like this is happening. Think about the ‘frog boiling’ aspects of it. I can’t see it ending up anywhere nice, and I can’t see it taking very much longer to get there.

Remember, she thought she would be REWARDED by people for what she said. Her staff full of writers did too. As did her Producers.


Monday, 10 November 2014

09:11 – The mainstream media are finally starting to notice what I’ve been talking about for 20 years. Ten million jobs at risk from advancing technology: Up to 35pc of Britain’s jobs will be eliminated by new computing and robotics technology over the next 20 years, say experts

What they don’t mention is that the vast and fast-increasing majority of the remaining 65% of jobs aren’t really jobs at all, but government payrolls, regulatory-compliance, and other make-work “jobs” that contribute little or nothing to the economy. The truth is that 70% or more of the adult population is already useless in an economic sense and that percentage will continue to increase as automation continues to take over the economically useful tasks.

Monday, 25 June 2012

07:49 – The Roku box is happy with its new hard-wired Ethernet connection, and our Netflix streaming is working again. It’ll be interesting to see if the wired Ethernet connection prevents the occasional drops that occurred with the wireless connection. Our WiFi environment is pretty cluttered anyway.

We continue to build kit inventory for the rush that commences in August. My goal is to have at least 60 each of the biology, chemistry, and forensics kits assembled and ready to ship in August, with the components for 60 to 90 more of each kit queued up.

13:16 – Wow. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me when the MSM gets something completely, utterly wrong, but this one did. I saw the headline first: Prominent atheist blogger converts to Catholicism

I knew it wasn’t me. I’m certainly an atheist blogger, but few people would call me “prominent”. So I wondered, who could it be? Not PZ, surely? Not Richard Dawkins or Jerry Coyne or Hemant Mehta or Greta Christina or ZOMGitsCriss, or any of the dozens of other Gnu Atheist bloggers I know. Who could it possibly be? So I clicked to read the article. I would certainly recognize the names of the top 100 atheist bloggers, and probably nearly all of the top 1,000.

As it turns out, this “prominent” atheist blogger is a woman named Leah Libresco. I had never heard of her until that moment. She has been blogging for only two years. She has, as far as I know, written no books about atheism, nor been a speaker at any atheist/secularist/skeptic convention, nor been an officer or spokesperson for any atheist/secular/skeptic organization. I’d guess her blog probably gets fewer visitors than my current blog, and certainly fewer than my old blog got back in the days when I commonly got 10,000 visitors on a good day. Nothing against Ms. Libresco. I don’t know her and have never read anything she’s written. But to call her “prominent” goes beyond exaggeration.

Obviously, the only significant thing about this is that someone somewhere has given up atheism to become religious. No surprise there. Religious people become atheists and vice versa. No one denies that. The only significant thing about this is that atheists convert to being religious believers much less frequently than the converse, probably by 1000 to 1. But the MSM makes it seem as though there’s some significance in the decision of an obscure atheist blogger to join the RC church.

Monday, 4 June 2012

08:00 – We made up 120 packets each of various OTC medications for the forensics kits yesterday. Things like acetaminophen, aspirin, diphenhydramine, and so on. They’re used as proxies for illegal drugs in the forensic drug testing lab sessions.

I almost choked when I started designing the labels for these. Here’s an example of the safety warnings for one of the drugs, 25 mg diphenhydramine tablets, AKA Benedryl.

Health: 3 (serious)
Fire: 1 (slight)
Reactivity: 0 (minimal)

WARNING! Extremely hazardous (eye contact). Very hazardous (ingestion, inhalation). Hazardous (skin contact).

Wear gloves and splash goggles.

This is for a Benedryl tablet! Talk about the boy crying wolf. If a Benedryl tablet presents a “serious” health hazard, why would anyone take seriously the same level of hazard specified for another chemical that actually is hazardous, such as concentrated hydrochloric acid? (Yes, both concentrated hydrochloric acid and diphenhydramine tablets are assigned a 3 (serious) for Health.) In reality, these tablets should be listed as non-hazardous, as any reasonable person would expect.

This month the euro chickens are coming home to roost. Even the eurocrats have stopped pretending that the euro can be saved. They are now talking openly about the collapse of the euro and the EMU. Spain is beyond salvage, and will be forced to seek a bailout. The problem is, Spain needs more than half a trillion dollars to carry it through the next 12 to 18 months, and the bailout cupboard is bare. Cyprus has collapsed, Spain is next, and Italy isn’t far behind.

12:58 – Here’s an interesting article from Business Insider: Don’t Mean To Be Alarmist, But The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse. The author compares the newspaper business–which as little as a decade ago was still fat, dumb, and happy–with the television business, which doesn’t seem to realize that it’s in the same desperate straits now as the newspaper industry was then. At the turn of the century, the newspaper industry had its all-time highest advertising sales revenues, about $63 billion a year. Then newspaper advertising fell off a cliff, declining by two-thirds to about $20 billion last year. Meanwhile TV executives are currently enjoying record ad revenues, and seem not to realize that those revenues are about to fall off the same cliff.

Barbara and I were early adopters and early cable cutters, but now it seems that an increasingly large percentage of cable TV and satellite TV subscribers are following our lead. We haven’t watched even one network TV episode in a decade, other than on Netflix streaming or on DVD. Barbara watches golf on weekends, and sometimes ACC basketball in season. We’ll sometimes watch the local cable news/weather channel for a few minutes. That’s it. Nothing else we watch has commercials, and we watch nothing else live.

And it’s not just us. Nearly everyone we know would immediately give up cable TV if only they could get live sports otherwise. One has to wonder how much longer the NFL, NBA, and MLB will continue to in effect subsidize TV networks by selling them their programming. Each of those leagues is fully capable of going it alone, selling season subscriptions directly to their fan bases, for delivery via broadband. And there’s no question that they could make more money doing it that way. Sports fans would love it. Rather than getting whatever game the network decided to broadcast, they could pick and choose among several or many feeds and follow their favorite teams every week. Smaller sports like golf, tennis, and auto racing could make arrangements with companies like Netflix (Sportsflix?) to use their delivery infrastructure. Everyone except the TV networks would be better off.

Figures lie and liars figure

Most of us frequently read mainstream media “science news” articles that make startling assertions about this or that. And, with very few exceptions, the assertions made in those articles are not supported by data included in the article, nor even by a link to the original paper.

For example, I read an article the other day that claimed that sitting for 6 hours or more per day greatly increased the likelihood that one would die young. Furthermore, said the article, exercising regularly did not offset the harmful effect of sitting for 6 hours or more per day. Presumably, one could run 10 miles before work and 10 miles after work, but that six hours of sitting in the middle renders all of that exercise worthless.

And the figures were pretty startling. Men who sat for 6 hours per day or more experienced 20% higher mortality over the course of the study than men who were less chair-bound. For women, it was even worse, with 40% increased mortality.

The obvious lesson here is that everyone who wants to live to a ripe old age should flee screaming from their chairs. Offices should scrap their desks wholesale and replace them with standing desks. Everyone should get rid of the sofas and easy chairs in their dens and watch TV standing up. Restaurants should get rid of their tables and booths and replace them with bars where one stands to dine. Sporting stadiums should rip out those rows of benches and chairs and require sports fans to stand while they watch a game. Schools and universities should remodel their classrooms to require students to stand during lectures.

I haven’t even looked at the original paper, but I still call bullshit. In the first place, this study, like all such studies, depends on self-reported behavior, which is notoriously unreliable. In the second place, although I might believe that it’s harmful to sit for 6 hours straight every day, week after week, year after year, not many people actually do that. Even the most chairborne office worker takes bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, smoke breaks, and so on.

I’m probably pretty typical in that respect. Even when I’m writing heads-down, I seldom sit still for more than an hour, and usually much less. I get up to use the bathroom. I get up to walk into the kitchen for more Coke or a snack. I take the dog for a short walk. (Right now, with a four-month-old puppy, that happens literally 20 times a day or more.) I get up when the mail arrives or the UPS guy delivers a package. Do I sit 6 hours during the course of a day? Sure, every day. I sit at my desk during the day, and on the sofa in the evenings. But I think the last time I sat for 6 hours straight was … never.