Tag: Technology

The Ex Post Facto Study

  • As humans, we really like passing new laws, creating processes and procedures, and establishing new rules to solve the problems we’re experiencing. What we don’t do a very good job of is any sort of analysis of our newly created bureaucracy to see if it actually did anything useful. Laws and processes, once created, tend to stick around forever. For example at the start of the pandemic that shall not be named for fear of woke xenophobia, my hospital started a screening process for anyone entering. They purchased fancy stand alone scanners that let me scan my badge and take my temperature. I never use it because I have to log into it the night before (a software system the hospital had to purchase), answer the same stupid four questions, and then the next morning my temperature never registers with the automated machine because I just walked across the parking lot in 40 degree temps. The backup to the automated station is an employee who asks the questions, manually checks my temp (which still fails), and then gives me a sticker to put on my badge to “prove” I’ve been screened that day. When the ‘rona started everyone was panicking and I’m sure this process seemed reasonable at the time. It’s been in place for quite awhile now, so a retrospective study seems appropriate. Has this system actually “caught” any cases of Corona? I doubt it. How many people with 104 degree temps and difficulty breathing actually go to work or randomly show up to visit aunt Sally in the hospital? Or, they are asymptomatic and would have passed the screening anyway. Naturally the in-person screeners are only going through the motions at this point. I walk up say “no changes”, they try to scan my temp for 0.2 seconds, I grab my sticker and go. So in retrospective, is it worth continuing this? What made me think of this was something Grandpa Joe said during his weird state of the union speech last night. He dredged up the standard we need more gun laws rhetoric, saying we need to ban ghost guns and pass universal background checks. Ignoring what drivel that is for the moment, this seems like a prime opportunity for a retrospective study. We have tons of historical data in the form of crimes committed with guns. If we looked backwards and applied the new proposed laws, how many of those crimes would have been prevented? e.g. how many shootings have occurred with “ghost guns”? How many people went through some sort of firearm purchase at a flea market or gun show, bypassed a background check, and then went on to commit a crime? It seems pretty simple to look backwards to see if something would work moving forward. But that assumes you actually want the answer.
  • Spell check is a wonderous thing. Without it my writing would look like a five year old’s. Spell check elevates it to at least sixth or seventh grade. But the problem with spell check is you have to be roughly in the ballpark for it to give a suggestion. Take for example “bureaucracy”. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it right first time. Unfortunately I never even get close enough for spell check to offer a helpful hint. I end up Googling things to stumble across the right spelling. Which brings me to my new phone. I like using the “swype” keyboard rather than entering in individual letters. The default swype implementation on the old Pixel phone was marvelous. I only had to get semi-close to the actual letters and it somehow knew what I was trying to type. It often had the correct contextual suggestions for the next word and the next word… magical. Samsung’s implementation on the other hand is very disappointing and more often than not I have to go back and type everything out. Sigh. I know you can download other swype keyboards, but that would take actual effort.
  • I violated my newly vowed rule to simply pay a professional to install things rather than me spending 10x the amount of time to do the same thing. I got some parts for the new ginormous motorcycle but the idea of waiting for an appointment and then paying someone $75 an hour to do what I should be able to do just killed me. And sure enough… two and a half full afternoons, many expletives, phone calls to customer support, and two new one-time use tools and everything is installed. But at least I feel good about my manliness. Cue Tim the toolman grunt.
  • This past weekend was very rainy and outdoor stuff wasn’t an option. I was bored and decided to conduct research and do an actual experiment. I’ve been needing a navigation solution (long story) for the backcountry while on the motorcycle. I wanted to use my phone rather than purchase a $600+ GPS device. I ended up spending the better part of a day researching options, downloading software, creating routes and maps, and really learning the systems. And the pièce de résistance, I created three custom routes and then went out and drove them to see which system performed the best. An actual experiment. I am a dork of huge proportions. But, at the end of the day I think I have a system that’s going to work.
  • I don’t think there’s much to say about the weird state of the union last night. Grandpa Joe is not a gifted orator. For all his flaws and ignoring content, Obama could deliver a good speech (as long as the teleprompter was working). Clinton too. For speechmaking ability I’d rank the presidents in the following order: Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, Bush 41, Biden. As far as content goes, all SOTU speeches are stupid. They’re long whish lists of crap that never gets done. If you’re a fan of everything big government, you loved Biden’s speech. If you’re a minimalist government type, it was abhorrent. I don’t think there was much in the middle for this one.
  • I’m going to ride the ginormous motorcycle a fair number of hours north today, then come back on Saturday. Sort of a pre-travel trial run. I’m waiting for my soft luggage panniers to arrive and then all the pieces will be in place to hit the road! Interesting how much effort, planning, and research it’s taken to be able to experience the “freedom” of the road. LOL.

Song of the day: Sugar Ray Fly 1997

You’re A Horrible Person

  • I don’t know you, but you are an awful human being. You’re killing the environment. You spew CO2, use plastic, and consume fossil fuels without a care in the world. The earth is dying. We have less than ten years to change course and you clearly don’t care. You’re a racist, entitled, SOB who continually marginalizes the emotions and the past and current lived experiences of people who look different than you. You’re clearly happy that racist cops are mowing people of color down in the street for sport. You earn an unfair amount of money and happily repress people less fortunate because it makes it easier to step on them as you rise higher on the privilege ladder. Clearly you don’t care that people are dying on the border because they don’t look like you. Schools have been teaching outdated historical concepts rooted in systemic racism and oppression. Hiring practices, university admissions, and promotions based upon merit are racist and it doesn’t bother you in the slightest that it’s hurtful and discriminatory. This country is an awful place and it needs to change now. Every single thing about this country is terrible and needs be overturned. The evil, racist, fascist, Nazi, oppressors that occupy this country are done. The constitution is an ancient document written by elite slave owners. The system will be overthrown and clearly violence is the only thing you listen to. If you object, it only proves you’re part of the problem. Get woke, or we’re coming for you. You’ll be doxed, outed, lose your job, and treated like the closet racist you probably are. You will be chased out of restaurants, harassed while in your car, and we will get in your face on the street. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll bend the knee to the church of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity if you expect to survive in the new and improved America.

    This is the daily onslaught that bombards our brains. It’s an avalanche of nonstop outrages being rammed into our consciousnesses by the news, media, social media, your workplace, and huckster politicians 24×7. Outrage sells. Voters turn out for outrage, not library bond issues. Is it any wonder that everyone is angry at everyone else? It’s nationwide confirmation bias. People are prone to believe what they want to believe. Keep feeding them the right cues and of course they’ll believe the latest and greatest outrage. We’re sheep being led by politicians and corporations to a brand new, reimagined country. Will it be an improvement over what we had? I’m skeptical. Is it too late? I’m reminded of the story of the frog in a pot of slowly boiling water. It’s happening by mob rule, public shaming, intimidation, and violence. Any significant pushback will be ugly and I don’t see the nation going down the road of civil war again. Hopefully I’m wrong. But I don’t think so.
  • I needed to get away from the avalanche of negativity so I took the ginormous motorcycle out for a ride yesterday. It was probably the best ride I’ve had on it so far. Snow has cleared on the roads in the high mountain passes, so I spent a good chunk of the day on twisty roads alongside rivers flowing with new snowmelt, and gazing at spectacular snow covered mountain peaks. It was the middle of the week so I only saw a handful of people all day. It was a much needed mental vacation. And the best news? The new phone solved the navigation problems! We’re back in business.
  • Continuing with the motorcycle theme, Mrs Troutdog’s new bike finally arrived. I’ve done a brief ride on it and I think it will be just the right bike for a new rider to get comfortable with longer distance touring. It makes me happy when we have hobbies we can do together.
  • I purchased a wireless charger for the new phone off of Amazon. Pulled it out of the box and it was DOA. I had little expectation of any sort of help and assumed I’d just have to buy another one. To my surprise the company asked for a video showing what it the unit was doing and then a new one showed up on my doorstep two days later. It works as advertised. I’m not sure what it says when I’m surprised by good customer service.
  • I had a very strange YouTube experience the other day. There’s a couple who’s channel I’ve been following for a while. They sold everything, bought motorcycles and were planning an around the world type trip. I followed them as they figured out gear and practiced with the new bikes getting ready for their trip. They started out on the TET (Trans Euro Trail). Unfortunately several days into the trip the boyfriend had a bizarre, freak accident that left him severely injured. I followed for a few more episodes as they chronicled his hospital stay and recovery, then the episodes trailed off and I forgot about them. Then the other day a new, strangely titled, episode popped up in my feed. I wasn’t going to watch it as I was bored with the hospital/recovery theme. Eventually I clicked on it. Sadly it was the boyfriend announcing that the girlfriend unexpectedly committed suicide. Just awful. It was such a weird feeling. Obviously you feel terrible for them. But, I don’t know them. It’s a random YouTube channel I occasionally follow. It’s not like they were well known celebrities. I guess it’s a reminder that what you see on the screen isn’t real. Meaning, images of happiness, fantastic places, and amazing travels may be manufactured. Of course enjoy the escapism, but don’t try to compare your life to what you see. An apparent amazing life on the screen may not capture the reality behind the scenes. Don’t fall into feelings of inadequacy or fear of missing out based upon what you see on social media.

Song of the day: Matisyahu – One Day (Official Video)

Give Me A Call

  • The year was 2017. The number one song on the Billboard 100 was Slide by Calvin Harris. The best picture that year was Moonlight. The bad orange man was sworn in to office. And Google (don’t be evil) released the Pixel 2. That was a different decade and I was determined not to get sucked into the iPhone cult, so I switched from my crank operated flip phone to the Pixel. Actually, my only reason for going with the Google phone was the camera. I’m all about the Instagram selfies. I’ve been pretty happy with it (the phone, not the selfies). I’ve had zero issues other than a loose USB-C port that’s been the source of some charging and connectivity problems. But, technology marches on and it’s time to upgrade. Well, I don’t want to upgrade but I have to solve the navigation problems with the ginormous motorcycle and this is step one. So which phone? I pulled up a comparison list of specs for the top sellers and after 30 seconds my eyes glazed over. I don’t care about specs. I’m not in the corporate world any more, so I’m not trying to do Zoom meetings on my mobile. I only do a few things with my phone. I send text messages so I don’t have to actually speak to humans. I take pictures. I attempt to use navigation/maps. I look up random facts on the internet while waiting for the coffee to brew. Oh, and once every month or so I actually make a phone call. That’s it. I don’t need a 1.21 Jiggawatt processor to send text messages. So, which phone to buy? Between the latest Samsung, Pixel, and iPhone models the cameras seem roughly equal. I’m not taking pics for museum quality prints… I don’t need an f 1.7, wide angle, super view, dark mode, lidar enhanced, espresso capable, quad lens. I take pictures of the dog for Instagram (he’s very popular). Mrs Troutdog is a faithful citizen of the Apple ecosystem and has been putting out some heavy pressure to switch over. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed, but I’m a Microsoft guy and I’m just not ready to switch to iCloud to try and get cross-device syncing to work. So it’s between the Samsung s21 and the Pixel 5. Samsung’s camera is probably a touch better, but I’m not a fan of how they over sharpen their images. I’d rather ruin images by over saturating them myself. Besides, I’d have to sell off some Bitcoin to afford the latest Samsung. Looks like I’m staying with team Pixel. I’m heading to the store this afternoon so stay tuned. I’m extremely gullible and susceptible to salespeople, so who knows what I’ll actually come home with. I might be sporting a fancy new Xiaomi Redmi, featuring background data sync with China’s office of state telecom security cloud service. Free cloud storage!
  • If you haven’t been following along, the Chauvin trial doesn’t appear to be going well for the state. The possibility of a finding other than murder is looking more likely. And as I’ve said before, Minneapolis will burn if that happens. I wouldn’t schedule a vacation trip to catch a Minnesota Twins game anytime soon.
  • 60 Minutes was once the pillar of investigative journalism. After their hit piece on Florida gov DeSantis, it’ll be hard to trust anything they publish moving forward. If you haven’t seen it, here’s what 60 Minutes aired vs what his full answer to the question was. I don’t care if you like the governor or not, you can’t watch that and still say it was unbiased reporting.
  • A baby elephant trying to be fierce. Because who doesn’t like baby elephants?
  • Today is the official end of winter. Well, for me. I had fully intended to get a couple of last days of skiing in this week before the resort and ski trails close this weekend. Life got in the way and I’m not able to go. So that’s it. Done. Winter 20/21 is over. Now starts the countdown to full snow melt and summer activities. Around these parts it’s known as “mud season”. I’m not a fan. Guess I’ll just have to ride the motorcycle for the next month.

Song of the day: Bush – Swallowed – 7/23/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage

I Got Lost

It was supposed to be a simple, short, day trip (Gilligan’s Island, a three hour tour plays in the background). If you haven’t been following along, I’ve declared this year as my “summer of George”. The plan is to travel, mostly by motorcycle, and visit as many off the beaten track sights as I can. Phase one was changing my work hours to make this possible, and purchasing the right motorcycle. With that done, it’s now time to start the actual adventures. I have a handful of rides on the new bike under my belt, so I felt ready to do a mini-adventure to test things out before I hit the road on a multi-day trip.

The plan was to ride to a quirky museum I’d found on-line called Cleo’s Ferry Museum on the banks of the Snake river. It was about an hour and a half away, traveling entirely on backcountry farm roads – no interstate travel. I also wanted to experiment with how to document the trip (and future adventures). Do I want to make YouTube videos or just photography? I’ve seen plenty of YouTube motorcycle travel videos and it looks pretty simple. A couple of GoPro cameras, chat about the scenery as you cruise through the countryside, then give insightful commentary once you arrive at your destination. I got the GoPro’s all set up and loaded up my tank bag with extra batteries, memory cards, various accessories, and my regular camera. Time to ride!

The ride out to farmland went great. I was busy chatting away to the camera and enjoying the first real warm day of spring. Discovery number one was that turning on/off cameras one handed while riding a motorcycle and wearing leather gloves is challenging. It’s impossible to see if they’re recording or not. I had multiple instances where I was babbling away like an idiot only to realize the cameras never started recording because I didn’t fully push the button. Or that I’d thought I’d turned them off and ended up recording another 15 minutes of nothing, draining the batteries. You think texting and driving is bad? I can easily see myself riding into a ditch as I stare intently at the GoPro and fumble with the on/off button with gloved fingers.

Discovery number two was a known issue that I thought I was prepared for, but failed miserably. As I’ve chronicled previously, I’ve had an issue with the USB connection on my phone, Android Auto, and the navigation display on the motorcycle. It’s been randomly shutting off leaving me without a map. I’m 90% certain the USB C connection on my phone is the problem as it connects/disconnects if I wiggle the cable around. No biggie, I’d looked at my route on the computer pretty carefully and felt like even if it cut out a few times I still had a good sense of where I was going. Almost on cue, as soon as I hit the winding backcountry roads the navigation display started cutting out. In person these roads looked nothing like they did on the computer. Remote, no signs or landmarks, and all kinds of random unmarked side roads everywhere. Pretty soon I’d made multiple turns and had zero idea where I was.

Not an issue except that every time the navigation cut out I’d have to stop the motorcycle, dig out my phone from the tank bag and wiggle the cord until the display came back. Stopping on a motorcycle is not the same as a car. You need a reasonably flat surface and many of these country roads have no shoulder, just a steep ditch on either side. By the time I’d stopped a half dozen times I was getting frustrated. I’d pull out the phone, try and memorize the next few turns, wiggle the cord, put everything back in the tank bag, put my gloves back on, then take off. Two minutes later the navigation would cut out, I’d forget the name of the next road and have stop and start the process all over. Multiple times I’d find myself on a dead end road and have to backtrack. My carefree ride was quickly losing the enjoyment factor.

After several hours of this I finally found my destination. I pulled into the gravel parking lot, found a shady spot and shut the bike down. I was tired and dripping with sweat. Fully armored riding gear is great when there’s airflow. The last several hours of stopping/starting in the increasing spring heat left me soaking wet. No matter, I was here and it was time to capture some fun video and pictures of my destination! Discovery number three – a motorcycle is not like a car. You can’t just take off your jacket and lock it in the vehicle. I have an expensive helmet and jacket I can’t just leave sitting on the bike. So even though it was getting ridiculously hot I kept the jacket on and lugged the helmet, a GoPro camera and my regular camera with me as I set off to explore the museum.

Turns out, the museum wasn’t really a museum and there weren’t any ferries to see. It was a mile and a half “nature” walk with some old buildings and an eclectic and bizarre collection of hundreds of lawn gnomes, sculptures, and wandering peacocks. I’m sure someone like Mike Rowe could have made an interesting video segment about this place, but I was hot and tired. I was fumbling with the GoPro, the heavy helmet, and my regular camera was hanging on its strap around my neck and bouncing around. Somehow in that jostling a button got pushed and the camera’s display turned off. Standing in the hot sun in a heavy motorcycle jacket, sweat running down my back, I couldn’t figure out how to get the camera display back on so I had to abandon taking any pictures. At this point I’d had enough of Cleo’s Ferry Museum and trudged back to the bike.

The batteries on the GoPro were all dead, so at this point I was ready to just get back home. I packed everything up, mounted the bike and headed out on the most direct route back. I hadn’t eaten anything since early morning and had no water. The prudent thing to do would have been to find a café or something and grab a bite to eat and some water. I didn’t want to deal with the navigation again and rationalized it was only an hour ride going the direct route home. I am not the sharpest crayon in the box sometimes and should have known that this trip was destined to not go well.

I hit construction zones that detoured me in circles. I got stuck in traffic that had the bike nearly overheating. I got briefly lost again navigating a downtown I’d only been in once before. I pulled into my garage just before dinner, tired, hot, hungry, and with an aching back and dull headache from dehydration. My several hour adventure turned had turned into an all day affair without food or water. Virtually nothing had gone as planned.

Clearly my path to YouTube stardom will be harder than I thought. On the bright side, I know what I need to address before my next adventure. Better to find out now I suppose. All in all, I still love the idea of what I’m doing. And I have to laugh at my level of ineptness sometimes. I’m sure this won’t be my last epic failure. But I’m looking forward to whatever ridiculousness comes my way on these future travels. Life is too short not to have these experiences.

A Technological Disaster

Why can’t things just be easy? When it comes to technology, things have a way of becoming unnecessarily complicated for me. Which is slightly ironic since I was a tech guy back in the stone age. The issue isn’t that I can’t figure out how to fix things, it’s why do they happen to me in the first place? I had a planned motorcycle ride yesterday (the fifth or sixth on the new ginormous bike) and wanted to make a video and practice some navigation stuff. I shall now entertain you with a list of my technological failures:

  • I couldn’t get the audio on the helmet to GoPro working. It worked before, now it wasn’t. I ended up pulling out all the wires and reconnecting everything which didn’t fix it. After some internet search time I found a GoPro setting that somehow got changed. Audio now working. Time spent, 45 minutes.
  • Camera mount on the handlebars suddenly won’t hold up the camera in the wind. It worked on the previous bike, but not now.
  • I managed to yank out the audio cable for the camera while opening up my visor at the gas station. In a fit of frustration I decided to abandon filming the ride and stuck the camera gear in the tank bag. I decided to focus on learning to use Android Auto with the bikes built in display unit.
  • Ten minutes down the road, Android Auto disconnects. I pull over and wiggle the connection to the phone and it reconnects. My phone is old and the USB C connection is loose. It’s a known issue, but I’ve been reluctant to get a new phone since I’ve spent a truckload of money already this year. I came prepared for this and used some rubber bands to keep the connection tight.
  • Twenty minutes later, Android Auto disconnects again. Pull over and this time my Bluetooth headset powered off for some unknown reason. Turn it back on and reconnect.
  • Another disconnect. Pull over and the rubber bands both broke. Wiggle the connection and back in business.
  • Another disconnect. This time the phone overheated and powered off. Turns out the tank bag has a clear plastic top where the phone sits. That clear plastic acts like a magnifying glass and the phone was burning hot.

At this point I gave up. Fortunately I knew where I was going, so just concentrated on enjoying the ride. But why does everything have to be so difficult? Is it just me or does everyone face these challenges? On top of these things, it turns out that neither Android Auto or Apple Carplay are able to utilize a custom route. This is important since they navigate based upon the fastest route. Great for commuting, but I don’t want to take the fastest route, I want to enjoy the backroads and roads less traveled. Otherwise, how am I going to find the worlds largest ball of string? Very frustrating since I don’t want to have to buy a separate GPS. I suppose that’s the purpose of these shakedown rides – to get everything dialed in before I go somewhere unknown to me. But would it be too much to ask for something to just work, first time?

  • Yosemite National Park to Install Auto Belay System on El Capitan. Bravo Climbing.com. For a minute you had me. First day of April and all.
  • We started re-watching the Sopranos from season 1. We watched in real time when it originally came out and I hadn’t seen it since. What a fantastic series. I honestly don’t think you could make that series today. Someone would get all butt-hurt about something and protest.
  • Facebook and Instagram have taken down Trump’s interview with daughter-in-law Lara. FB told Lara Trump that “content posted in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking) and will be removed”. Think about that for a minute. One of the largest media platforms on the planet decided they will censor a former sitting president. If you had told me that a few years ago I would have laughed. What’s frightening is how many people get most of their news from FB. No bias there. I suppose it’s ok. Words are scary. He might incite the bugaloo bois to jump out of the bushes and, you know, do some insurrection or something.
  • Ya’ll have a great weekend. I’m off for a three day work stent, so I’ll be tired and grumpy. Fingers crossed for warm weather and no wind next week.

Song of the day: Alabama 3 Woke up This Morning (The Sopranos Mix)

My Little Town Has Changed

  • When we first moved to our little town the population was 242,000. Not small, not too big. Just the right size to have some culture; a university, theater, museums, great restaurants, and a few larger employers. Not so big that we had traffic, crowds, and all the other blight that comes with bigger towns. Today our population has grown to 455,000 and much of that in just the last few years. People are fleeing the big cities in droves looking for a better quality of life. I can’t blame them. As cities grow the small problems become big ones and quickly become unsolvable. And that’s exactly what we’re facing here. I can’t blame people for wanting to move here, as that’s what we did. But the common refrain you hear from us longer term residents is “don’t bring your California attitudes”. And sadly, that seems to be what’s happening. Although I don’t know if it’s specifically due to California, but more likely just a facet of increased population. Traffic has increased dramatically. Just in the last year or so I now have to check what time it before getting on the road so I don’t get caught in commute traffic. People used to happily let you merge and it wasn’t uncommon to see a tractor driving on the road. Now it’s road rage time. Nobody lets you merge and frustrated tailgating is common. I’m starting to see graffiti pop up all around town. The homeless problem and panhandling is now noticeable. Property taxes are skyrocketing and there are now bidding wars on any houses that go up for sale. We’ve talked about downsizing, but we couldn’t afford to buy even a smaller house or condo now. There was no such thing as a lift line at our local ski resort, and now it looks like some of the Tahoe crowds on the weekend. It gets hard to find parking at local trailheads and the number of clueless people on the trails is discouraging. We used to be able to walk downtown on a Friday or Saturday night and go to just about any restaurant. Now, reservations are mandatory and parking is a challenge. Crime is becoming an issue. Just last night there was a shooting at the university, something that would be unheard of when we first moved here. I’m honestly not complaining, I understand it’s the nature of an ever swelling US/world population. That growth isn’t going to stop and all those people will continue to look for something better. With the current push (and ability) to work from home, the exodus from big cities will only increase. It just makes me a little sad. It’s hard to see your town change. Maybe someday we’ll escape and go find a new small town, but I doubt it. The older you get the harder change becomes. Meanwhile I’ll look back fondly at that brief moment in time when our town was just the perfect size. Oh my god, I’ve become one of those people – “I remember when…”
  • I may or may not have solved the Android Auto issue with the ginormous motorcycle. I decided the other day that the problem was the USB connection on the phone. It’s always been a little loose (it’s a really old phone) and I think what’s been happening is that the connection comes loose with the vibration from the motorcycle and then Android Auto disconnects. This is a pain because on a motorcycle you have to pull over and fiddle with your tank bag to reconnect the phone. I started the research into a new phone and then stumbled on a new bug being reported with the latest release of Android Auto. When the charging reaches 100%, Android Auto disconnects from the head unit. It’s a known and well documented issue. Well… I never bothered to look at what my charging level was when I pulled over to reconnect. Sigh. Apparently more research is needed. How did people even travel without smartphones?
  • Suddenly ski season is reaching a close. We’re down to just a handful of weeks left. This is point at which I panic and wish I’d done more skiing this season. I shall now commence to ignore most responsibilities for the next few weeks so I can ski. It’s not my fault… I need to maximize my ski passes. Every additional day I go reduces the cost per day from what I paid for the pass. We’d be losing money if I don’t ski!
  • Speaking of changing seasons, I put shorts on the other day to go to the driving range. It’s time to start chasing that silly white ball around the course again. I don’t know how it happened, but my shorts somehow shrunk. I could barely get the top button fastened. Dammit. Operation senior fitness needs to really kick into gear soon.
  • While on the subject of eating, I committed a blasphemy. I cooked baby back ribs in the oven. Gasp! The barbeque gods may smite me down. Anyway, they turned out pretty darn good. Not smoker good, but decent. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not opposed to doing them that way again.
  • I wonder if Biden has recovered enough from his teleprompter speech to come out of his room yet? Still no sign of an actual press conference or state of the union. Nah, that’s not strange at all. Meanwhile, gas prices are skyrocketing, the crisis on the border is getting worse by the day, and the administration is starting to talk about tax increases. Yeah, didn’t see any of this coming. The longer we go without an appearance, the more the press will become restless and less amenable to keeping their questions to what flavor of ice cream the president prefers. I honestly don’t know if Biden has the ability to field non-scripted questions for any length of time without committing a serious gaffe or becoming hostile. It’s hard to decide which is better, a puppet being run by an unseen group, or a President Harris? Y’all could have had Tulsi. Just saying.

Song of the day: Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – 7/24/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage (Official)

How Does One Percent Sound?

  • 0.5%. That’s a pretty small percentage. If you didn’t see it, the CDC just released their study of mask mandates and Covid case and death rate growth. Since masks are the universal cure-all for Covid, you’d think this study’s results would be touted far and wide across the media. I would have expected at least a 5-15% reduction, maybe 20%. You probably didn’t see it though. Why? The results showed a 0.5% reduction in case rates during the first 20 days. A 1.5% reduction after 80 days. These numbers fall within the margin of error, which means that just about anything could have accounted for the reduction they saw. The study lists a whole host of things that they did not control for that may have impacted the results such as physical distancing, business closures, ventilation, etc… So, the accepted authority on masking still can’t point to any actual data that shows masks have any impact whatsoever. No matter though. The high priest of Covid, Fauci, stated that data and evidence don’t matter. When Fauci, was asked “what’s the science” for denying vaccinated Americans a return to travel, he replied: “When you don’t have the data and you don’t have the actual evidence, you’ve got to make a judgment call.” Yo, science bro.
  • Speaking of science, Dr Atlas was universally hammered, mocked, and cancelled during his tenure as an advisor to the president. Worth reading his thoughts.
  • We have a leak. As I sit here there are multiple high powered fans attempting to dry out walls, ceilings, and floors. It’s like sitting in a hurricane. I can’t hear myself think and the dog hasn’t come out from his bed in two days. It’s truly frightening how fast a little bit of water can do a tremendous amount of damage. We’ve never had to navigate the bureaucracy of homeowners insurance claims before, so this should be interesting. I’m cynical and the only thing that comes to mind is the Seinfeld episode about car rental reservations. I have a feeling the insurance companies are very good at collecting your payment… paying out however? We’ll see.
  • The Pentagon has extended the national guard in DC for another two months. Those insurrectionists are tricky folks. They could pop up out of the bushes at any moment. Gotta be ready. I imagine the rioters have secret storage facilities where they’re passing out buffalo hats and zip ties as we speak. Boogaloo bois coming over the wire any time now.
  • Today they’ll pass another $2 trillion in spending. I don’t think much of it has anything to do with Covid, but who cares? I did see the unions will be happy. $86 billion to bail out failing pensions. You can argue if that’s a good or bad thing, but shouldn’t something like that be argued as it’s own entity? We don’t have any of this money, we have to borrow it from other nations. I heard something the other day that put it in perspective. It was in relation to foreign aid, but the principle is the same. Every time we give aid to a foreign nation, we first have to borrow it from another foreign nation, so we can turn around and distribute it to a different foreign nation. Crazy if you think about it that way. Since we’re already printing money, maybe we can print a few extra dollars so I can fix my leak.
  • I took the ginormous motorcycle out for it’s third official outing and made a little video that didn’t turn out too well. I have two technological challenges to overcome before I can begin my “summer of George”. The first is getting Android Auto working. I found the right cable and it works intermittently. The process is to sync the Bluetooth headset in my helmet to the bike, then plug in my phone and the motorcycle then launches Android Auto. It works briefly then shuts off. Twice the headset stopped pairing, and twice the phone was no longer connected. I am navigationally challenged, so getting this working is key. This is slightly ironic since I once taught a class on UTM and land navigation, but that’s a story for another day. The second issue is that while trying to record my travel the audio from my mic stops working. How am I going to become a huge YouTube star with no audio? Such first world problems.

Song of the day: Elle King – Ex’s & Oh’s (Official Video)

Chapters In A Book

  • Have you read many really good books with only one chapter? Probably not. Those chapters serve the same purpose as scene changes in a good movie. Some are longer or shorter than others, but at some point the scene needs to change or your mind wanders and you get bored. It takes extraordinary skill to keep a long running movie scene with lots of dialog interesting. Quentin Tarantino comes to mind. Get it right and it’s brilliant. Get it wrong and it’s a 40% on rotten tomatoes. Life is pretty much like that. Hopefully you get to the end with many interesting chapters. What amazes me is how many people are afraid to turn to the next chapter. They cling to the current chapter, trying to prolong it, hoping it will remain just as good as when it started. I think the trick to being content with your life is knowing when to turn the page. Remember way back in junior high and high school? Every new event in your life was hyper exaggerated. Your clique no longer wanting to eat at the same lunch table, or having to change schools was earth shatteringly devastating. I think in part it was because at that young age you couldn’t fathom that your life will be filled with many chapters, so you desperately tried to hold on to a particular moment and pray it wouldn’t change. It’s funny how some people never evolve past that. They cling to their current chapter, prolonging the page turn until long after the dialog and scene becomes stale. Of course you don’t want to go too far the other way – life is not a race to the end. Speed reading may get you there faster, but did you really appreciate what you read? As you get older and wiser, hopefully you learn to appreciate the good and bad chapters in your life, but not dwell on them. There’s always another chapter, as long as you’re willing to turn the page.
  • Sticking with the same theme, one of my three regular readers wrote some wise words the other day about our working lives. Essentially there are three milestones in your career; the first job; course changes; and the best – ending it. Permanent summer vacation! Worth reading the full comment.
  • Last year when about 220,000 people had died from COVID-19, Joe Biden said that “anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” He also said that they would have a plan ready on day one to combat the virus. Well, there’s been 100,000+ deaths since he took office. Let’s see if I’m doing this right – Joe Biden is now responsible for one fifth of all Covid deaths. Sigh. The political gotcha game is tiring.
  • Speaking of political narratives, Trump said in an interview yesterday, “I said, I think you should 10,000… I definitely gave the number of 10,000 national guardsmen. I think you should have 10,000 of the national guard ready. They took that number, from what I understand, and they gave it to the people at the Capitol – which is controlled by Pelosi – and I heard they rejected it because it didn’t look good.” So if true, and Trump actually requested the national guard and Pelosi rejected it, that should be a pretty damming blow to the speaker. Unfortunately the press won’t pursue it, so there’s really no point. It’s very disheartening to constantly see how one-sided the public narrative is. For example, the same press that spent the last year fawning over their media darling Cuomo, are now being very reluctantly dragged into exposing him for the asshat he really is. The sad reality about the media is that they are only pursuing it because they have no choice after championing the #MeToo movement. Sucks when one of your own gets caught up in it. CNN posted about halfway down their home page “Cuomo says he’s ‘sorry’ for comments and agrees to independent attorney to review accusations”. Wow. There’s a blistering condemnation.
  • I’m very frustrated with technology. It’s looking like neither Android Auto or Apple Car Play support following a custom route. For example, with Google Maps or Bing Maps I can create a custom route with waypoints, markers, etc… save it as .gpx file and download it to a GPS or simply follow it via Google maps. Android Auto and Car Play only allow you to navigate to a single destination – which will always try to route you the shortest distance. This does me no good since I want to travel via byways primarily. Travel by Interstate and you’ll miss the worlds largest ball of string, the Emu museum, and all the cool ghost towns. It’s like they’ve designed navigation solely for people commuting and Uber drivers. My search for the right navigation system continues…
  • This is a hilarious HP ad from 2015. Pre Covid, working from home, Zoom meetings, custom backgrounds, etc… Could you imaging going back and telling them just how prescient they were? I’m not sure even they’d believe you.

Song of the day: Alesso – Nillionaire (Original Mix)

Innovation And The Road Trip

  • On a recent two day road trip, it dawned on me just how behind the technology curve the automobile industry is. With the notable exception of Tesla, the interior of the modern vehicle hasn’t changed in a decade. For the most part every car still uses the same knobs, buttons, and analog gages they’ve always used. The most aggravating lack of progress has been around the phone. The modern smart phone has been in existence for 14 years. The smartphone controls everything in your life – navigation, music, your wallet, contacts, and communication. It’s a required piece of equipment for virtually every human being in the modern world. And what have today’s vehicles done to integrate this vital piece of hardware everyone uses? Nothing. They’ve added a USB port. Ever single driver today is using their phone for directions and communicating while driving. And you still have to go buy a third party plastic phone holder of some sort with a suction cup to mount somewhere. Cities are still having to pass “hands free” laws because making a phone call still isn’t nicely integrated into the vehicle. How hard could it possibly be to design a phone holder and charger that’s a seamless part of the dash? And as Tesla has so capably proven, there is zero reason why vehicles can’t have a smart screen display showing every possible bit of data about your car as well as, gasp, interfacing with your phone. Ignoring the electric part, Tesla continues to highlight what dinosaurs the auto industry have become.
  • Speaking of electric, I started the series “Long Way Up” with Ewan McGregor. It’s a continuation of the classic Long Way Round and Long Way Down series of long distance motorcycle trips. The twist this time is that they are on all electric motorcycles traveling from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. I’m only on episode three, but spoiler alert, it’s not going very well. Let’s just put it this way… they have a giant truck following them with a massive diesel generator to keep them charged. As I said in a previous post, we have a ways to go with electric charging infrastructure.
  • And while on the subject of motorcycles and phones, I have a decision to make. My new motorcycle has Apple Car Play integrated into it’s touch screen dash (which is more modern than most vehicles produced today). The problem is that I have never entered the Apple ecosystem. For whatever reason Honda chose not to support Android Auto. So for me to fully utilize all the fancy wiz-bang features on the motorcycle, I have to switch to an iPhone. Except, breaking news, literally just a day ago Honda announced support for Android Auto starting in Europe. So, do I hold out for eventual integration or switch over to Apple today? Sigh, why can’t everything just work?
  • Who knew you can order completely customizable Oreo cookies?
  • A violent BLM protest/riot injured two police officers in NYC yesterday. The mob also attacked and injured a journalist because the crowd started shouting “he’s a cop”. I’m not clear on the state of things now – do we still care about riots, or is that not a thing anymore?
  • The recall Gavin Newsom has obtained enough signatures to require a recall vote. This should be interesting.
  • We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far, with nothing but a bit of rain. I was super excited to get the new motorcycle out for it’s first ride. And… we’ve gotten 3+ inches of snow the last few days. I suppose I’ll have to spend my day planning out trips for this summer. I think the goal is to see how many quirky roadside attractions I can visit.

Song of the day: Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Live)

Which Movie Are You Watching?

  • Scott Adams had the perfect phrase to describe the situation in our country right now. “One screen, two movies”. Two people see the same event and have completely opposite interpretations. How you see something largely depends on the things that have shaped your perspective. Here’s what I find so interesting, sad, and ironic. We live in a time in which the entirety of human knowledge is instantly available. Video, transcripts, and research of virtually everything is available at your fingertips. Yet, we rarely seek them out. We pick a few sources of information that conform to whatever group we’ve identified with and we stick to them. It becomes an echo chamber that continually reinforces whatever your perspective is. This is the human condition and has been from time beginning. The media and tech empires know this and capitalize on it. Everything is framed as “breaking news alerts” with the most extreme clickbait titles to generate angst and rage against the other side. Why? Because it generates channel loyalty, screen time, pageviews, click-throughs, and ad revenue. Nothing is done by accident. Remember the old adage, if you’re not paying for a product – you are the product. Again, nothing new with this. What is different is the complete bombardment on our senses at all times. We’re inundated non-stop with information. We have screens in our faces virtually 24/7 screaming at us with whatever echo chamber you’ve chosen. With the growing power of the tech oligarchs and our increasing desire to be plugged into the matrix at all times… the power to unintentionally spark an actual civil war seems increasingly possible. Strange times.
  • Speaking of strange times, I find myself applauding Tulsi Gabbard. She’s turned out to be an actual adult voice in the room. I find myself generally agreeing with only about half of her positions on issues, yet would have happily voted for her. It’s hard to find an actual sane voice these days. It still baffles me that the democratic party selected an 80 year old establishment guy who can barely get a sentence out, over someone like her. She destroyed Kamala’s run and scared Hillary enough that they came out with crazy Russian conspiracy accusations against her (what is it with the left’s everything Russia obsession?). I hope she stays in the public eye.
  • I’ve developed tinnitus. I can’t say exactly when I first noticed it, but it’s fairly recent. Last six months or so maybe? It’s a buzzing in the background like the faint hum of a florescent light. I only notice it early in the morning when it’s quiet or sometimes when I lay down to sleep. Not bothering me (yet), just odd. Getting old sucks. Must have been all that damn high volume rock n roll in my youth.
  • I got yelled at over the phone for quite a long time yesterday by a patient’s parent. The patient was in their late twenties and had made some particularly bad life choices, resulting in a hospital stay. The patient was medically cleared and deemed competent to make their own decisions by the neuro-psychiatrist. There was no doubt the patient was going to head straight back to the same scenario that caused the situation in the first place, but what can you do? I understood the parent’s frustration that we were just letting the patient go, but we can’t force someone to make good decisions. The parent yelled at me and accused me of not caring about people, we just wanted the room so we could make more money, and she wanted a laundry list of hospital administrators to get involved. The concept that we can’t hold someone against their will was lost on the parent. The patient was an adult, and as adults we are free to make bad decisions. I know, I’ve made my fair share of ’em. My victory of the day was having enough restraint to not simply hang up. I’m not quite jaded enough to do that. Yet.
  • As I’m stuck inside on a bad weather day my goal is to gather a large list of local, and not so local, “worlds largest ball of mud” attractions. Kooky little museums, sights, and attractions to visit that aren’t the typical “go see Yellowstone” tourist destinations. This is my mission for the year. Suggestions are welcome.

Song of the day: Evanescence – Bring Me To Life (Live)