all posted, for now

Feb. 11th, 2019 02:18 am
syntonic_comma: 4-legged Floppy Duck Plush Toy (syntonic)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Mon Feb 11 02:18:35 EST 2019
Garfield minus Garfield: With my new journal, I can keep track of all the exciting things that happen to me! (by Dan Walsh/Jim Davis)
Dan Walsh/Jim Davis

I've just posted 45 entries from napping (2018/12/14) to reunions (2019/02/04).

Tuesday 00:01

I'm now caught up, with winter is not all WINTER (2019/02/04) through Andrew Yang? (2019/02/10), 9 more postings.

Andrew Yang?

Feb. 10th, 2019 02:56 pm
syntonic_comma: vote!!! or else they win (politics)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sun Feb 10 14:56:00 EST 2019

Why Is This Man Running for President?
The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math.
– Andrew Yang, candidate for President 2020
I had a wakeup call, a reckoning as you said. But then when Donald Trump became president in 2016 I was convinced that the reason why he won the presidency is that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri. And we're about to triple down on that by blasting away millions of retail jobs, call-center jobs, fast-food jobs, truck-driving jobs.
Donald Trump is a terrible president because he's a terrible president. He's not necessarily a terrible president because he was not steeped in our government for decades. And genuine entrepreneurs like myself regard Donald Trump as a bullshit marketing charlatan. So he gives us all a bad name. And the goal is to show what real builders and entrepreneurs would do to solve some problems.
(That first quotation was near the end of the radio broadcast, but isn't in the podcast transcript.)
The show was focused on domestic economic policy ideas. I'm assuming the rest of his policies are the standard Democratic policies.
I just want to solve problems, man. I don't really care about the seating chart. And someone said to me, "Hey, what if Joe Biden takes all your ideas?" I would say that's fan-freaking-tastic. I'm not some freaking crazy person who has been measuring the drapes since I was 16 or any of that jazz. I just want to keep this country together for your kids and mine.

Message clipped

Feb. 7th, 2019 01:03 pm
syntonic_comma: a tiger (disapprove)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Thu Feb 7 13:03:08 EST 2019

I received a copy of the Salvation Army Alaska Quarterly Newsletter. This is another one of those I-don't-know-my-own-email-address subscriptions. I was looking for the unsubscribe link but at the bottom of the screen was
... [Message clipped] View entire message
I clicked to view the entire message, and the only thing that had been "clipped" was
Copyright © 2019 The Salvation Army, All rights reserved.
Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.
I can understand wanting to limit the amount displayed, but I don't understand chopping off absurdly small amounts of content.

I've seen content-clipped notices that took as much space as the truncated content – the output could have been complete in the same amount of space. What kind of non-thinking person (specs or) writes code that does this?

Do the people who subscribe other people's addresses even notice they're not getting the emails?
If so, do they have any idea why they don't get them?
And I don't suppose there's anything they can do to "correct" (i.e. stop) email going to someone else's address, if they did realize what they'd done.

a demon on wheels

Feb. 6th, 2019 04:06 am
syntonic_comma: toy xylophone (music)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Wed Feb 6 04:06:04 EST 2019

A fun thing about having a poor memory is discovering things more than once.
Yesterday I realized that the "Speed Racer" theme song is a pentatonic tune.
(The TV cartoon, although I expect the movie would use the same song.)
Thinking about it later, I must have noticed that before.
(I probably haven't heard the song for 40+ years.)

search me....

Feb. 5th, 2019 08:28 pm
syntonic_comma: MicroAce computer (Sinclair ZX80 clone kit) (computers)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue Feb 5 20:28:17 EST 2019

So how come I can do a search for
map canada time zones
and get maps that don't show Canada, or don't show time zones?
Or maps of the USA without Canada, or maps of Brazil, or maps of Europe, or maps of Africa, or maps of Asia, or maps of Australia?


Feb. 4th, 2019 06:51 pm
syntonic_comma: MicroAce computer (Sinclair ZX80 clone kit) (computers)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Mon Feb 4 18:51 EST 2019
Canada's largest online exchange, QuadrigaCX ... held an estimated $250 million Canadian dollars in cryptocurrency.

According to court documents Gerald Cotten, chief executive officer of QuadrigaCX, died Dec. 9 in India due to complications from Crohn's disease.

QuadrigaCX claims the only way to access much of the cash was lost when the company's founder, Gerald Cotten, died in India in December. He was apparently the only person with the recovery code to access the currency....

There are [unfounded] conspiracy theories that he's not dead....

There is no oversight [of cryptocurrency].

winter is not all WINTER

Feb. 4th, 2019 04:11 pm
syntonic_comma: riding Grasshopper fx home from work past 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, DC (by Steve Chong) (bike)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Mon Feb 4 16:11 EST 2019

For those of you who thought biking to work in the winter is impossible (or insane) after my report last week, arriving home at 10°F/-12.2°C with 21mph (33.8km/h) headwinds gusting 26mph (41.8km/h) (plus the ground speed of the bike), keep in mind that last week (with the polar vortex) is not representative of the whole winter. Today it was 61°F/16.1°C when I arrived at the office. 60°F/15.6°C is comfortable for a T-shirt and shorts. After the winter, it feels warm and balmy; after the summer it feels cool. It is not at all hardship weather on a bike.

Your situation will vary with latitude and altitude, but if cycling is an option, not a necessity, it may be quite practical for much of the winter.

And the days that are bad for cycling aren't much fun for transit, either. The thought of standing outdoors at a bus stop 20-50 minutes in 20°F/-6.7°C temperatures (with tall buildings channelling and amplifying the wind) is much less appealing to me than being on a bike. I'm not likely to be taking transit unless there's rain/sleet/hail in the forecast. (I just make those work-from-home days now.) I'll bike in snow, since that doesn't get me as wet as rain does. Visibility (to other traffic) is the main issue, although handling will be a problem if there's a significant accumulation. But when the forecast looks like the roads will be unsafe, they generally tell us to work from home.

Tuesday 16:00

It was 73°F/22.8°C at the end of my commute in – T-shirt and shorts; fingerless gloves. A light jacket coming home. We're expecting warm (for February) weather through Friday.
There's rain in the forecast today, and I'll have to time my rides around that.


Feb. 3rd, 2019 10:56 am
syntonic_comma: vote!!! or else they win (politics)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sun Feb 3 10:56:08 EST 2019

My first-initial/last-name email addresses often get subscribed to things by other people, people who presumably have my same first initial and last name. I've been getting constituent emails for "Billy" from Republican Congressman Lloyd Smucker, "Representing Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District" (which includes Landcaster, Red Lion, and York County). (I don't live in Pennsylvania.) I just noticed that one of the links in the email includes the subscriber's name and (physical) address:[mylastname][MyLastName]%250150%2bWater%2bSt%253cbr%253e%250d%250aFelton%252c%2bPA%2b17322-9037%2501
That's enough to throw into a search engine. Billy Joe is 54, his wife Denna has a typing business, and his brother died after an ATV accident in 2007.
And Billy doesn't know his own email address. But I guess he votes. Republican.

From Lloyd's latest weekly update:
Last week our partial government shutdown ended. I am glad the 800,000 furloughed workers will receive their paychecks and get back to work.
I wonder how many contractors were furloughed? I haven't seen any numbers on that. And they won't get that missed pay. The whole point of hiring contractors is to hide the size of the "federal" workforce – politicians can claim they've reduced the number of federal workers, but they haven't reduced the number of workers. Contractors don't have union protection; they get paid less, and they're easier to fire. So the government saves some money there – at the expense of their larger workforce.

want a cold?

Jan. 29th, 2019 08:00 pm
syntonic_comma: Elementi di anatomia fisiologica applicata alle belle arti figurative (by Francesco Bertinatti [anat] and Mecco Leone [artist]) (health)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue Jan 29 20:00:00 EST 2019

Do you catch colds every winter? Are they inconvenient? Would you like to get sick on your own schedule?
For $80 (each) you can buy tissues infected with the common cold virus. Vaev Tissue is the company selling these things – but they're sold out.
... doctors say these tissues are trash. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona, explains ... that there are more than 200 varieties of rhinoviruses, which is why there has never been a vaccine for the common cold. You'll be protected from whatever version of it is on this tissue, but that still leaves you susceptible to the other 199.

too much mess

Jan. 26th, 2019 09:31 pm
syntonic_comma: our house from the on-line listing (home)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sat Jan 26 21:31:47 EST 2019

I was going through old mail, trying to clean up the house. I found some missing tools (under the mail) and battery chargers.

My car is a 1991 Mazda. There were a couple of letters about car maintenance:
Our records indicate that you have not contacted us to have the vehicle service contract for your vehicle uploaded.
I don't even know the name of your company. Why would I have contacted you?
You are receiving this notice to ensure no lapse in warranty coverage.
Too late for that!
Warranty expiration is based on the mileage and age of your vehicle.
Which you don't seem to know.
Call now to update your coverage.
By neglecting to replace your coverage, you will be at risk of being financially liable for any and all repairs after your factory warranty expires.
Isn't that the normal course for everything we own?
However, you still have time left to activate your service contract on your vehicle before it's too late.
That's clearly not correct.
No vehicle inspection will be required.
More fool you....
Your file on this vehicle will be deleted and you may no longer be eligible for this offer regarding service coverage after 11/11/2018.
Why do you even have a "file" on my vehicle if you don't know what kind it is and when it was built? I got a couple of these notices (and a call on my work cell phone, possibly related), so your cut-off date is not real.
One from Kokomo, Indiana:
You might be asking why you received this.
People who don't know you have prayed of this and are praying for you now.
It's addressed to "Local Postal Customer". Praying for me is kind of vague if you don't have a name, or even an address. I don't want to stop people from trying to do good, but how do you pray for people when you don't know their needs?

We bought this house in 1998; we are still getting mail for the previous owners, like another "last chance" offer from Verizon for phone/Internet/TV service. It just confirms that a lot of Big Data's data is crap. I wonder why so many places with mailing lists don't sort them on the address to find name duplicates and conflicts. Yes, some addresses can have multiple names, but if you're already providing service to this address, (1) you should know this is a single-family house (because you installed service when the house was built (and since then you've made multiple service calls to a 20-year customer name and you've been in the house)), and (2) you should know some of the multiple other last names in your mailings to this address can't be right, and (3) you shouldn't be trying to find new customers at an address where you're already providing service.

And a house builder says
Tear Down & Rebuild!
Don't Move. Skip the Reno.
If we tear down and rebuild, don't we have to move twice?

if you love your kids...

Jan. 24th, 2019 01:38 pm
syntonic_comma: a tiger (disapprove)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Thu Jan 24 13:38:23 EST 2019

... you don't throw acid on them.
Worcester acid attack
The six men and one woman are charged with conspiring to commit grievous bodily harm.
The boy's face and arm were burned when he was squirted with sulphuric acid at Home Bargains in the Tallow Hill area of the city.
The boy's mother also said his father had threatened to kill her and her children.
After they eventually divorced, the father was allowed to see his children once a fortnight in a supervised contact centre, the court was told.
2nd story
Custody battle father 'plotted acid attack on own son'
A father locked in a custody row plotted an acid attack on his three-year-old son to try to paint the boy's mother as "unfit", a court has heard.
Prosecutors at Worcester Crown Court said his father, 40, enlisted others in a bid to "manufacture" evidence to discredit his estranged wife.

[Jonathan Rees QC, prosecuting] said the case concerned a "cowardly attack on a defenceless three-year-old in which he was squirted with a solution of sulphuric acid."
"It was over almost in the blink of the eye and may have gone undetected were it not for the fact it was captured on the shop's internal CCTV system."
"Thankfully, due to the quick actions of a member of staff, the seriousness of the injuries was limited... although it is too early to say whether or not there will be any residual marking."
Mr Rees said the defendant was seeking greater access of the couple's three children, but his wife opposed the application. "In an effort to ensure his application was successful he was willing to manufacture evidence of injuries to his children in an attempt to show that his wife was unable properly to care for them, in other words she was an unfit mother."

govt shutdown

Jan. 23rd, 2019 12:28 pm
syntonic_comma: vote!!! or else they win (politics)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Wed Jan 23 12:28:59 EST 2019

It's easy to see how people would have trouble working without pay.

Taking METRO to work would cost me $41/week, off peak. You'd probably have a FareCard with some money on it, but if your budget's tight that won't last long.
Metro Trip Planner
[If Itinerary #1 leaves earlier, arrives later, takes longer (obviously), and costs more than Itinerary #2, why is it even under consideration?]
Parking would cost $50/week if I drove, plus gas, and the costs of car ownership (insurance, maintenance, etc). I note that we still have a parking attendant working – essential/critical staff? It's not really a security issue, since you need a staff badge to open the garage doors. But I've been seeing only one attendant, so the other is furloughed. The agency has only a skeleton crew still working, so we don't need multiple attendants. (Why don't they just automate the parking billing based on the badge access? Bicycles and motorcycles complicate that, since we park for free. Bikes are simple because we use a different badge reader.)

Taking the bike is free, but there will be ongoing maintenance costs. (And the bike itself wasn't free.)

Working from home is also an option, but I find it much harder to be productive at home. And the remote connection often has problems that eat a lot of time.

If you're not getting paid, how can you pay for daycare? And without daycare, how can you go to work? (So the day-care workers are also collateral victims.) There is day care at our office, but since it's closed, what happens for people who are still required to work?

What happens to your health care when your employer, the US Govt (or your contracting company), isn't paying your premiums? What happens to all the health-care providers when they stop receiving your premiums?

not a quick response

Jan. 20th, 2019 08:41 pm
syntonic_comma: a tiger (disapprove)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sun Jan 20 20:41:33 EST 2019

Wow, I just got an email from Halfords Customer Service, taking me off their email lists.
Thanks for your message asking to unsubscribe from our emails.

We're sorry to see you go, but hope that our paths cross again in the future.
In the meantime, your request has been processed, and you will no longer receive marketing e-mails from Halfords Retail (it may take 7 days for this to take effect).
I sent the request in June 2016. I guess another 7 days doesn't matter after 19 months.

Halfords sent me an "eReceipt" for a £109 order: Nextbase InCarCam 312GW, SatNav dash mountingdisc, Halfords Cleaning Cloths, FLASH DASH AERS 500ML; paid by VisaDebit. Whoever placed the order wasn't getting order acknowledgements nor shipping notices.

Most of you won't find Halfords a familiar name, because we're in the US and they're in the UK. But my last name is more common in the UK/NZ/Australia, and many of the bogus first-initial-last-name accounts created with my GMail address are done by people overseas. And most companies still don't require a validating response to subscribe an address. (All the vendors need to do is refuse to process orders until the customer confirms receiving an email at the address. Do you want a customer you can't contact? Do you want a customer too dumb/careless to get his/her address correct?)


Jan. 20th, 2019 03:55 pm
syntonic_comma: a tiger (disapprove)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sun Jan 20 15:55:32 EST 2019

Maybe it's just winter. I don't feel like posting. I don't feel like commenting publicly on others' posts. I do have things to say, but I'm not feeling like sharing with the world.

RadioLab re-aired the Weights and Measures episode, and the measures aspect included a story on Facebook's experimenting on its users. When I'm on Facebook (which isn't often, and isn't long) I constantly feel like I'm being manipulated – primarily with the objective of keeping me on the site as long as possible (to keep showing me ads (which are blocked)). I can't understand why so many people spend so much time on and share so much personal information with a site that's all about collecting marketable data on us.


Jan. 16th, 2019 07:09 pm
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Wed 1/16/2019 19:09
COWIN Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Microphone, Hi-Fi Deep Bass, Supersoft Protein EarpadsApple iPhone 6
So if I'm listening to streaming audio on the iPhone with a Bluetooth headset, and I get a phone call, why doesn't the phone assume I want to take the call on the headset? The phone interrupted the stream, which is already an assumption that I want to answer the call.

I'm also wondering why the caller (a coworker) called the cell number instead of my desk phone, but that's not the iPhone's fault.

winter continues

Jan. 15th, 2019 08:15 pm
syntonic_comma: Wake Me Up When Winter Ends woot! T-shirt (by Tobe Fonseca) (seasonal)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue 1/15/2019 8:15 PM

Yesterday I worked from home; Federal worksites were closed by the weather.

Biking to work today was a challenge. I expect the Canal towpath has a lot of snow and mud. And that's National Park Service, so they're furloughed – not that they plow the towpath nor the Capital Crescent Trail.

The sidewalks along Old Dominion Drive were partially cleared, but many stretches were unrideable. The street itself is busy and has no shoulders. After 3/4 mile (1.2km) there's a bike lane, but it wasn't entirely cleared. The Custis Trail has been plowed, but it had many spots that I expect will be ice patches tonight. And where the trail had bridges over or along I-66 there was rough, compacted, unrideable snow.

The trail approaching Roosevelt Island was unexpectedly clear. Roosevelt Island is NPS again, and they don't plow. But this was somehow passable today. Beyond the parking lot the trail was mostly snow, and unrideable up to the bridge. Things were better on the bridge itself; the sections in the sun were wet slush. This may also freeze into rough, unrideable ice after sunset. Off the bridge, approaching the Kennedy Center, there was more rough snow on the sidewalk, and at the end of the "chute" the people who cleared the Kennedy Center sidewalks left a pile of snow blocking access to the bridge. What kind of people pile the plowed snow where it blocks a thoroughfare?

The rest of the ride to work was better. The DC streets were all fine. Bike lanes were not as good. The "protected" bike lane I saw was unusable; it was protected from any possibility of plowing.

The places I had to walk the bike added about 15-20 minutes to the trip. The temperature, up to 40°F/4.4°C, no notable wind, was pleasant. I'm planning to take less trail and more street for the ride home tonight.

I expect Key Bridge (into Georgetown) had clear sidewalks, and has no isolated approaches. Key Bridge has a lot of foot traffic; there are always pedestrians during the day, and usually a few at night (if I come home that way). Seeing other cyclists is not unusual. (Chain Bridge and the Roosevelt Bridge have little walking traffic, and rarely at night. It's mostly a function of what's at each end of the bridges.) But I'm not fond of biking M Street through Georgetown – heavy traffic, and awful pavement.

Tuesday 22:00

I took Key Bridge coming home. Its sidewalks were plowed – not completely, but with enough room for cyclists to overtake pedestrians. And there was still pedestrian traffic, even at night. No long, snow-covered approaches to get to the bridge. Near the White House there's a (double-wide) 2-way protected bike lane on 15th Street; this has been plowed, although there's still snow/ice berms that make getting into/out of the bike lane at intersections a challenge. And in Virginia, after the Custis Trail crosses I-66, I took Lee Highway – 3 lanes each way, and a bike lane westbound (but not eastbound, why?). The bike lane wasn't entirely clear, but this stretch of road has little traffic at night and there was no reason I needed to be in a bike lane.

Wednesday 16:00

I took Lee Highway and the Key Bridge in to work today. It was much clearer/easier going than the Custis Trail along I-66 and the Roosevelt Bridge.

As I passed the Executive Office Building (next to the White House) someone took my picture. He looked like he knew what he was doing, so I looped around and asked if he could send me a copy if it looked OK. He asked me to make another pass. He was trying out a new flash. It was a sunny afternoon, but the sun was behind me and that is very much an appropriate situation for using a flash. He was also interested in the recumbent – but not interested enough to sit on it and see how it felt.

Wednesday 22:00

40°F/4.4°C felt quite pleasant; no appreciable wind. A month ago 40° was the point where the commute became challenging. Acclimating.

In Arlington I can see that some streets have already been treated again for more snow.

Thursday 13:00

They've forecast more snow tonight and tomorrow morning. Possibly an inch (2.5cm).

Thursday 16:00

People along Old Dominion Drive still haven't all cleared their sidewalks, so there's still places where I have to walk the bike. (The road is clear, but it's a busy road, one lane each way, and I go up that 0.75mi (1.2km) hill at 8-9mph (12.8-14.5 kmph); drivers would not be happy.)

But lots of places were clearer than yesterday, so I decided to have another go at the Roosevelt Bridge. The sidewalks were clear, until the boardwalk and the bridge. It looked like they had been plowed – except NPS doesn't do that to begin with, and they're on furlough. The gates to Roosevelt Island itself were closed. (It's an island, so access is by a footbridge.) Then came the boardwalk – lots of snow, packed lumpy by traffic, unrideable. I think the difference is heat from the ground under the asphalt (and its black surface, adding to the heat for the ground to retain before the snow cover), and ambient air under the boardwalk. Other possible explanations? No plowing on the boardwalk because the metal plows would damage the boards. Or the boardwalk isn't rated for the load of a truck? (I know it can handle a SUV, because I helped someone lost drive backward on it. The hill up to the bridge was better (asphalt), and then the VA end of the bridge was unrideable. It curved a bit to the main portion of the bridge, and was mostly clear, and rideable. At the DC end it curved more and cleared more – maybe this was being back over dirt, or lining up for more sun. And then there was still that pile of snow at the end left by the nimrods who plowed the Kennedy Center sidewalks.
1st level garage parking during the partial government shutdown
There was a lot of salt on Pennsylvania Ave. The lane with the most traffic had blown most of it away, but the other lanes looked ridiculous.

With the shutdown and furloughs I've been getting my favorite parking space every day. (There's no cars in this photo, either.)

Thursday 23:00

It started snowing earlier than I expected, so I decided to not leave early, with hopes that my normal schedule would match a gap in the weather. The snow was tiny flakes when I left, and it tapered off by the time I got to Georgetown. The roads were wet, but there was no accumulation. (I'd seen a lot of salt on Pennsylvania Ave this afternoon.) There was more snow in Virginia, a little sticking on the trail, but nothing on the roads. At home I'd say there was a new half inch (1.25cm) in the yard.
demolition of the old salt tank|Arlington, VAOn my commute to work, passing the Executive Office Building|on the bollarded plaza known as Pennsylvania Ave. | Photo taken by Tom Mullins.
I saw lots of plow/dump trucks waiting for salt (where that new structure was put up, replacing the rusted (and now demolished) salt tank). There were trucks staged and waiting in DC, too.

I found an email from an unfamiliar sender. It turned out to be a photo of me, taken on my way in yesterday. Cool!
Hmmm, EXIF suggests it's been Photoshopped.

Friday 01:42

I just sent a comment to the Kennedy Center about piling snow blocking the bridge access. If their comment page had allowed more room I would have told them I've seen theatre patrons arrive that way, walking across the river on the bridge. I don't know whether they lived in Rosslyn, or parked (free) at Roosevelt Island to save money. The river view on that walk is quite nice.

Friday 16:00

There's been more melting since yesterday. Last night's snow is already gone. The Old Dominion sidewalk is mostly rideable.

There was an anti-abortion march/rally today. When I was about 5 blocks from the Capitol traffic suddenly got congested. Looking around the truck in front of me, I could see brake lights most of the rest of the way to work. If I'd been driving a car (and been able to see that far) I'd have considered it futile. (Some drivers were making U-turns.) On a bike – tedious. Failing that, we can walk our bikes on the sidewalk, and still make progress.

Another couple of blocks (much faster biking than driving), and the congestion became gridlock. The (unprotected) bike lanes are mostly melted clear – and generally not wide enough to be useful for cars – so they let bikes (and scooters) get through this mess. My office is next to Union Station, but that's only about 3 blocks from the Capitol.

They were setting up hundreds a lot of porta-potties outside Union Station last night – in the (light) snow – which also caused congestion problems trying to get away from the office. I was wondering why they were doing it last night. I was aware of the Women's March this weekend, but I hadn't heard anything about the March for Life. (I hadn't heard anything about this same march last year, 2018/Jan/19, also noted for congestion in my bike log.)

Sunday 01:14

What news I've heard of the Women's March has been uneventful. The day here was overcast, but I think they were done before the rain. But there was another story from Friday, Students in 'MAGA' hats mock Native American after rally. [Later: That story took enough turns that I'm glad I have a posting lag.]

There's a major storm coming through, but it's 40°F/4.4°C and it's not going to get much colder tonight (a 4°F/2°C drop?), so it's rain, and it won't be snow. Farther north, places are expecting as much as 2' (60cm) of snow. The next 2 nights are going to be very cold, forecast of 13°F/-10.5°C, but dry. Rain again Wednesday, but going up to 50°F/10°C, not snow.

Monday 02:30

I forgot about the (super blood wolf) total lunar eclipse. It was nearly over when they mentioned it on the BBC, sad that cloudy London didn't get a good view of it. The last quarter or so of the partial shading was left. It's also seriously cold here – 17°F/-8.3°C – so standing around outside is a bit severe. The skies are partly cloudy, and the moon is high in our sky, so there is a view.

circles of heck

Jan. 15th, 2019 05:13 pm
syntonic_comma: Aztec calendar (holidays)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue 1/15/2019 5:13 PM

Someone's on hold for support, and his phone is on speaker at very low volume.

The music on hold is Xmas music (Sleigh Ride, very jazzy). On January 15th.

I'm usually tired of Xmas music long before Dec 25th. This is unconscionable.

Tuesday 18:00

I suppose it's not actually Xmas music, but winter music.
Trying to cheer me up with music on hold? You're not likely to find the right music for me.

15 years?

Jan. 15th, 2019 11:57 am
syntonic_comma: MicroAce computer (Sinclair ZX80 clone kit) (computers)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue Jan 15 11:57:26 EST 2019

Wow, I've had a web site 15 years – well, in a couple more days. It started out as a Comcast "personal Web Page", which didn't give it much space. It has some content for the Ad Hoc Singers, which eventually became a separate site, hosted by another choir member who ran a web-hosting service for small businesses and non-profits. Then Comcast dropped their PWPs; they said they would have some kind of replacement, but never gave any more info there. ☹

I eventually bought my own domain, so I wouldn't have to worry about any future changes to links to my content. Hosting services cost more than I was willing to spend for a vanity site, and 95% of the hosting industry appears to be scummy/dubious – and identifying the good services is difficult. (The business model of the crummy sites is to buy out the good sites and gut them while they ride their (previously-good) reputations into the dirt – so even if you find a good hosting service, it may not stay good.) I've set up my own web server on an old laptop. I have control over the server performance and the available space. My data transfer is limited by using just a home-to-ISP connection. But I don't expect a lot of traffic. Not that many people are going to care to see my site.

The Ad-Hoc site later moved to GoDaddy hosting (we lost the choir member who was hosting us gratis), and then moved to my own webserver a couple of months ago to save the costs of GoDaddy. The choir has been inactive since 2014, and never really had a budget. (GoDaddy was paid for by another choir member who had several other small sites there.) Again, a site that's not expecting much traffic.


Jan. 15th, 2019 09:12 am
syntonic_comma: MicroAce computer (Sinclair ZX80 clone kit) (computers)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Tue Jan 15 09:12:29 EST 2019
PBS News Hour: 3 reasons Pi Day is a sham (by Kay Sweet)
Kay Sweet

Here's an interesting idea for a cipher – throw in extra, random characters, in some pseudo-random manner. The number of valid characters could match the digits of pi, and then a bogus character. The number of extra characters could also be varied by some other pseudo-random rule.


Jan. 13th, 2019 02:59 am
syntonic_comma: Wake Me Up When Winter Ends woot! T-shirt (by Tobe Fonseca) (seasonal)
[personal profile] syntonic_comma
Sun Jan 13 02:59:09 EST 2019

I don't know how much snow we've got so far, but it's been snowing since mid-afternoon, and it's still coming down pretty good. And it's probably going to keep coming for a while, through the day Sunday, and then off-and-on in the evening to the wee hours.

Our corner is a state highway and a county snow route, but I haven't been hearing any plowing. The streets (and bike trails) were pre-treated Thursday.

Sunday 11:30

The forecast is now saying snowing through 20:00, and flurries through 02:00.
I'm thinking of going out to shovel soon (hoping there hasn't been much foot traffic yet), and then making a 2nd pass later.

Sunday 14:00

I went out to shovel the snow. A neighbor(? I'd never seen before) was approaching from farther up the block with a snow blower. I don't know whether he had planned to go this far, but when you see someone else out with a shovel you're kind of guilted into continuing down his sidewalk too. I think he must have ended up going around the whole block, since he never came back. (A return pass to widen the path would have been nice, but it wasn't necessary.)

I still had to do enough of the driveway to get the car out, and the walk to the front door has a couple of flights of stairs, so no snow blower there.

Sunday 17:59

We're expecting 25°F/-3.9°C overnight, and 35°F/1.7°C for the high tomorrow. Depending on what the roads look like tomorrow, I may work from home instead of trying to bike to work. The Roosevelt Island parking area won't be plowed (NPS – shutdown, plus they don't plow anyway), so that bridge is out. And there could be lots of snow on the canal towpath and the Capital Crescent Trail, so Chain Bridge is out too. That leaves Key Bridge and going through Georgetown.

I don't think they'll call (what's left of) the government closed for weather, since they've had the weekend to plow the streets.

Sunday 23:23

It wasn't my plan for the day, but someone in the Pennsic Known World Choir Facebook group asked whether anyone had recordings of our concert. And I do have a recording, but it's a .wav file and almost a gigabyte – it's going to take a long time to download, and I'm not sure my network connection is fast enough outbound for anyone to listen in real time. If a lot of people in the group are interested, multiple streams might be too much.

So before I replied, I decided to (finally) make .mp3 files. As it turns out, there were 106 .wav files – not all from Pennsics – to convert. It took some web searching, and some scripting, and simply some time to run through all those files. But all the recordings were cut at least 90%, some 95%. And then the index page needed updating, since there are now 2 versions (wav and mp3) of most of the recordings. And the new files needed to be copied to the webserver.

But I think at least a few people will be happy to hear us again – and hear us from the audience "perspective", which is not what you hear on the stage in the group. And they will be surprised by the recordings from past years. And the "official" recordings are made at the dress rehearsal, earlier in the day. Most of my recordings are the concert; we don't get re-dos for mistakes or external noise.

The original filenames are The 2018 file names appear to be about 4 hours off. (The clock on the recorder was wrong.) At one point I was thinking it might be GMT vs EDT, but it's 4 hours in the wrong direction. I'll rename all the files at some point (master copies and website) and change the index page to match. (And the web crawlers will think they're 18 new files, and copy the 3.8GB again. ☹ Google has already been copying the new mp3 files.)

Monday 01:30

It has almost stopped snowing. I've done a 2nd pass of shoveling. There's 8.5" (22cm) in the back yard, and the path I cleared across the deck earlier had another 4.5" (11cm). I also dug a path across the yard for the bike. I haven't heard anything yet about whether Federal offices are open in DC tomorrow; Arlington County government/schools are closed.

The state highway at my corner is clear, but probably has berms in the shoulders, which means a bicycle will be impeding traffic; I can't expect people will have their sidewalks cleared (although mine are). (The first 3/4 mile (1.2km) from my house are uphill with no shoulder, and I do that on the sidewalk.) Haphazard clearing with ice patches isn't fun to deal with, either. The cross street, a snow route, is slushy. I don't know whether the bike trail I'd be on has been plowed. It was pre-treated, but that won't be enough. (And a preferred connecting trail definitely won't have had any attention.)

Monday 02:04

Just heard (NPR) that 200,000 people in NC and VA lost power from this snowstorm, and many flights were cancelled at Dulles airport. (Farther west this storm has caused deaths.)

Monday 11:51

There was an email around 21:00 last night saying government offices are closed today, but I got only one copy, in my work email account. I normally get a couple more, delivered to accounts I see on my own (non-work) laptop. I guess those alternate sources are shut down by the partial shutdown?

Offices closed means we still work – remotely.

Monday 12:50

Shortly after a work meeting ended the work laptop lost the outside world. It still claims to be connected to the WiFi router, but it can't see anything outside. This laptop is not having any problem getting out. I'm rebooting the work laptop. (Shutting down is taking a very long time, considering the laptop was running only a browser and the VPN software (which was already disconnected).)

Brian tells me that OPM (the Office of Personnel Management) is out for the shutdown. They're the people who announce the weather closures. Their website was updated, eventually.

Tuesday 01:26

Ha ha – the White House chefs are furloughed by the shutdown. Take-out for the first family every night?
(Not funny for the chefs, of course.)

Is the cleaning crew out too?

Federal offices are open Tuesday with a 2-hour delay – the ones that are not closed by the shutdown....
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