Category Archives: Uncategorized

Harvey is Coming.

Dawn on Galveston

Harvey is coming, and as usual, his arrival is full of hype and breathless reporting locally and nationally.   so far it is still just a depression and hasn’t formed into an official tropical storm. Yet.

A Hurricane Watch and Storm Surge Watch is posted for much of the coast of Texas, as Tropical Depression Harvey treks northwestwards at 9 mph over the Gulf of Mexico. An Air Force hurricane hunter plane found that Harvey had reorganized into a tropical cyclone on Wednesday morning, with a large, disorganized closed surface circulation and top winds to 35 mph. Harvey is expected to intensify into a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane that will bring dangerous flooding rains in excess of 10” to Texas late this week. This Hurricane Watch is the first for any part of Texas since Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Precipitation Prediction.

Landfall is expected to be near Corpus Christi. pretty far away.  The thing with this storm is that it is unorganised and expected to move very slowly.  It’s expected to drop a lot of rain. What it also means is that we don’t expect much in the way of hurricane force winds or an overwelming tidal surge. Just a lot of rain over 3 or 4 days. This isn’t going to be an Ike or a Rita at least in this area.

We have a personal policy of evacuation and doing it early under any serious threat. Harvey so far poses no such threat to us. Galveston is an Island flat and exposed to the Gulf of Mexico. Real tidal surges and hurricane force winds are dangerous to us, but we can handle lots of rain pretty well,   Rain will pretty much just run off into the Gulf.  The real threat is to the Mainland, Houston is flat and lots of poorly drained areas. 10 inches or more of rain and there will be flooding of highways and neighbourhoods.  There is no place for the water to go.

So how bad will it get in Galveston?  Mostly it’s gonna be wet and miserable. We plan on staying home unless there is a good break in the weather. If we do venture out it probably won’t be off Island. With this much rain we are likely to lose power, hopefully, it will be momentary.  The likely hood of us losing power isn’t so much a reflection on the severity of Harvey, but the unreliable power we have on the Island. As long as there aren’t any widespread power outages on the Mainland any power outages will be brief.  Long term power outages are awfully uncomfortable here.  Losing TV, lights and internet isn’t so bad, but not having air conditioning in Texas in August would be very uncomfortable.

Prepping:

We want to Sams club and picked up a few things. a case of 28 bottles of spring water. The same water we normally drink.  Some canned chicken meat mayo. beer and wine.  Got some eggs and cheese at the grocery stores.  Both cars are topped off just in case we decide later to evacuate. I have several flashlights and lamps that are rechargeable, and have them all topped off.  Download a couple of Kindle books.  I have a radio with new batteries. I think we are prepared pretty well, plenty of food.  I sometimes wish I had a generator though.

 

What I saw in Boerne, TX

While staying at Bourne, Equality and I were watching some deer through our window. The deer were jumping all over the place, We then noticed this giant cat stalking the deer between us and the deer.   The deer left quickly and the big cat took its time and went into cover behind a cedar tree.  The Texas wildlife and parks denies that any such cats exist. Although they have been spotted by quite a few people.  I don’t know what kind of cat this is, but its about 2 0r 3 ft tall body 4 to 5 feet one, with a long thick tail.  Weighs probably around 50 to 80 lbs.

Big Blac Cat Boerne TX
Big Black Cat Returning to thick cover

If anyone knows what this is please let me know.

Nostalgia

I remember Station Wagons.

I remember gas cheaper than a quarter a gallon, Filling up  for 4 Bucks.

I remember when 20mpg was considered great millage.

I remember long distance phone calls.

I remember when computers were the size of a house and cost as much as a new school.

I remember never wearing a seat belt

I remember my first new TV 19″ for $300, Today its a 30 inch HD flat screen for the same money.

I remember riding in the back of a pickup.

I remember people heating their homes with coal boilers.

I Remember when there were  4 Vitamins A, B, C and D

I remember when margarine was good for you and butter bad.

I remember when eggs were good for you before they were bad ior you before they were good for you.

I remember mobs of black people rioting in the the streets.

I remember people spitting on on soldiers cause they didn’t like violence.

I remember when the VFW didn’t accept Vietnam Veterans, because they weren’t real Veterans.

I remember when All beer came from massive factories.

I remember when the only good wine came from Europe.  California wines were cheap and unsophisticated.

I remember 10 cent cokes from a machine.

I remember penny candy.

I remember “No Blacks Allowed”  signs.

I remember when Campbell’s Chicken noodle soup and a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich was a hearty healthy lunch.

I remember when Volkswagon bugs got more mileage out of their tires than they did the engines.

I remember Studebakers and Ramblers.

I remember when games with the family would involve a deck of playing cards.

I remember no shopping on Sunday.

I remember when the telephone company owned all the phones.

I remember when marijauna was for parties, and not for curing people.

I remember when Chrsitopher Columbus was a hero.

I remember the Sears catalog.

 

Thunderbird

One of the benefits of retiring is that I am no longer required to use Microsoft Outlook. At home I have never used Outlook, except to check my work account from home.

I’ve been using Thunderbird now for at least 7 or 8 Years, maybe longer. It did the trick and is free.  It supports POP3 as well as IMAP in fact during setup Thunderbird is usually going to be smart enough to figure out what you need,   and has been incredibly smart at setting up different email accounts automatically.  Junk filters work well with prebuilt filters built into services such as Gmail,  and the use of intuitive standard shortcut key navigation.

Some of the kewl things about Thunderbird has to do with its extensions. the two that I have set up are Enigmail, and  Lightning.  Enigma is an extension that seamlessly allows one to use gpg seamlessly into a message.. I like the ability to digitally sign messages.. although the encryption decryption capabilities are particularly useful.

Lightning does all the Calendar Tasks and Events stuff that we used to do with our Frankiin Planners. and does it better than Outlook which always seemed clunky to me.

Folks that have mutiple web mail accounts should probably look into using Thunderbird.  It is a quick fast way of monitoring email accounts and is a lot faster than logging into the websites …

 

 

Visitors to the Patio

I had some visitors yesterday, they stopped they drank and dined.  They graciously thanked me when they flitted off. They were humingbirds.

I was sitting out on my patio, listing to traffic on my amateur radio, reading a kindle book, and creating voluminous  clouds of smoke from a fresh Macanudo when I noticed  a hummingbird flitting around the empty feeder hanging on edge of my patio roof. He didn’y hang around long.  The feeder has been empty for months, I had been meaning to fill it, but it was just one of those task I hadn’t gotten around to yet.

Equality and I had some errands to run, so we left the casa did some shopping, and had lunch in Texas City, not a bad way to spend a rainy stormy Sunday morning. When we got home several hours later. I decided to fill the humming bird feeder. This was, after all, a task that I had put off long enough.   I filled the feeder,  sat back in my chair turned up the radioset. and relit the big Mac.  Within 20 minutes I was rewarded with visit to the feeder by a brave little hummer.  I say brave cause after the little fella had drank his fill he came up close to me. Eyeball to eyeball he hovered. Within arms reach. he darted around and took a sip. left for a few minutes and came back and repeated his act. I assume it was the same bird, but I really don’t know. Eventually two birds visited at the same time, and after a while I even had three feeding at once.   Every time they came to feed one of them would do the same thing, up to me, within three feet,  eye level to eye  level look at me and then flyoff.

I don’t know  a lot about birds or humming birds in particular.  But it seems as though there is something going on in their tiny brains. Did they understand that I put up the feeder for their benefit?  Were they trying to thank me?  Make friends?  I don’t know  it just seemed so strange to me.

Hopefully within the next couple of weeks I’ll get some pictures of these guys.

 

Digital Photography

I keep running into people who want to move up in imaging from their cell phones.  Others can’t understand why anyone would own a camera because a cell phone can do it all.  My response is always the same, “the right tools for the right job”. Yes, it can be useful to take a picture and immediately text or email a photo,  but even the best of phones still can take only mediocre pictures.

In the old days of film we were at the mercy  of the development and print labs.  I had more than one roll of film with a line going across several negatives and prints because some one carelessly dragged something across the delicate emulsion. Today using Photoshop or GIMP today’s user has complete control over the final product.  While GIMP is free Photoshop usage is free after the initial purchase.  While a lot of people never run their pictures through a photoediting program, There aren’t many pictures that can’t use a touchup.  Pixels and diskspace are cheap.  One is better off taking the pictures  at the fullest resolution.  The pixels can always be tossed away later.

Hamming things Up

I’ve been playing with my radios this weekend, tweeking some settings, adding frequencies and deleting others.  All the while trying to keep some consistency between the three different radios.  I also set the FT-8800 to work as a cross band repeater.  This will allow me to walk around freely with a handheld, and  still use the power of a more powerful radio. Pretty kewl !!

I made some changes to my ham page I included a list of local repeaters with the settings. This might prove useful to a new ham or someone new or visiting the area.

 

The Great Fisking!

In a great fisking Walmart takes on the New York Times.  It becomes obvious that Timothy Egan of the Times didn’t have a clue about what he was writing about. There are certain Institutions and Corporations the the leftist rally against.  It seems as if there is something they don’y like about the entity, every thing about them must be under attack.

The Great Fisking

Walmart didn’t address the comparison of Walmart with Costco.

What could change Walmart is growing public disdain for the company. A new poll by Lake Research Partners found that 28 percent of consumers surveyed have an unfavorable view of Walmart — almost five times the negative sentiment felt for Costco. Poor treatment of workers was cited most often as the reason not to shop there.

I seems as though It would have been fairer to compare Walmart’s Sam’s opertion to Costco rather than the whole of Walmart. But the New York times isn’t about being fair is it?

The same types of attacks are made against the Koch brothers .  Most are completely off the wall because:

  • They aren’t right wing extremist. They are Libertarians.
  • They have no more influence on elections than George Soros , the Kenedys or George Clooney.
  • They give money to organizations such as PBS’ NOVA and United Negro College Fund

Scrambling the email pathways.

Email providers are now locking down and securing our emails from prying eyes.  Google’s Gmail is taking the lead, Today much of the email mail traffic is sent using secure encryption between servers. The problem is that the emails stored on the servers and on the end users computers themselves is not encrypted.

In an analysis released this week, Google said 65 percent of the messages sent by Gmail users are encrypted when delivered, meaning the recipient’s provider also supports the encryption needed to establish a secure connection for transmission of the message. (Establishing a secure communication channel requires both e-mail providers to exchange encryption keys beforehand. Even if an e-mail provider tries to encrypt messages by default, messages will be sent in the clear to providers that do not support encryption.) Gmail has more than 425 million accounts worldwide and was an early adopter of e-mail encryption.

Only 50 percent of incoming messages are encrypted, Google says, but that’s up from 27 percent on December 11, 2013. And the numbers could get even better as more providers offer encryption by default to their customers. Charlie Davis, a Comcast spokesman, says the Internet service provider is working on it and plans to “gradually ramp up encryption with Gmail in the coming weeks.”

The question one might ask is who are the providers encrypting from? These transfers could not be observed by the typical hacker, The data on the transmitting or receiving servers themselves isn’t encrypted (yet ), and would make an easier target.  The only reason for intercepting these communication is for a very broad sweep of information such as in the NSA/Snowden exposé, and the only people that they are hiding the info from is the US government.

Google is moving ahead with its end-to-end program which will support encryption GPG type services as  a Chrome extension  from the browser.I suppose its better than nothing, but using Javvascript and storing keyes in memory won’t make thisthe most secure system.  I use Thunderbird and open GPG tools.

This is my public key.if anyone is interested.