Monday, April 24, 2017

Did You Know...?

The National Park Service maintains a live video feed of Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The viewing wasn't fantastic just now during the latest eruption, but since the people standing in the cold and (what looked like) snow paid good money for it while I sat in my easy chair in my comfy home watching it on my laptop, I have no complaints.

As I post this, a twenty-minute predicted viewing window has just closed, according to the feed page; I look in occasionally at a static webcam of the geyser and saw people standing watching, so I knew it was getting close to time.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ever Wonder How Rich People Stay That Way?

Not by spending almost 100 G's for one car.

Talking Back to Pop Tunes, 3

If you'd listened to me when I told you not to give her your house key and ATM card, lover boy, you wouldn't need to keep asking her to turn you loose.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Canine Longevity

This morning I decided to repost some old dog-related entries from my long-offline archives, in light of Lucy's age which, as it happens, we may have been underestimating.

I'd been estimating her age as "pushing 15," but I found a post from almost 13 years ago with a vet estimate that she was 2½ back then -- which means she must be at least 15 now. Of course, back then I'd been guessing she was much older, but that turned out to be a health thing that we saw her through.

Anyway, no sooner had I finished reposting all of those entries than I heard what has become a familiar sound of late: Lucy whining because she wants to get up from her bed and can't, or she has fallen and can't get up. When that happens I go down (as I did minutes ago) to the basement shop where she shelters, and help her to her feet and steady her until she can get outside.

It doesn't happen every day, but often enough. She's on prescriptions for her arthritis and it seems likely the best her vet will be able to do for her is up her dosage. The thing is, once she's on her feet and moving she toddles right outside to take laps around her rather large enclosure. I think her difficulty, when she experiences it, is from not having done any walking around overnight.

Her appetite is still good -- I'll worry when that stops -- but 15 is well past the typical expected lifespan for a dog her size.

Contrary to the speculations in the old posts, we eventually learned from a DNA test that her parents appear to have been a purebred Jack Russell terrier (hence her youthful energy and excitability back then) and a Canaan dog (hence her size). We hope for her mother's sake that the terrier was her father.

We currently have ten critters under our care: Lucy, our own three cats, and six inherited from Mrs. McG's late mother a year and a half ago. The age range of the inherited cats spans maybe a bit more than a year, and the youngest of them is about the same age as our current oldest. We're about to enter a period of mass attrition over the next few years; Suzie Q was the first of what will be a rather large graduating class.

Friday, April 14, 2017

If You're Sober, Drive Like It

That, my only-half-joking advice to local drivers who may or may not be texting while driving or farding in their cars, has a more serious corollary:

If you're at war, fight like it.

Clearly, President Trump grasps this as Obama did not. Dropping the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (a.k.a. "Mother Of All Bombs") on ISIS in Afghanistan achieved more in one earth-shattering kaboom than all of Obama's sternly-worded hashtags and invisible-ink "red lines" throughout his eight years in office.

Leftist academics who think they know more about smart diplomacy than Theodore Roosevelt did, would have been the death of civilization if we had let them have their way for much longer.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Mmmmm.... Bacon....

But no, that's not what the headline means.

Back when I quit Twitter, I anticipated withdrawal pains -- and I believed I might still need to follow certain accounts for severe weather information, etc. So I didn't go cold turkey.

I didn't follow anyone who would know me, and I plainly stated in my profile that followers would be blocked. I changed my handle and avatar a couple of times. Eventually I found that without interaction Twitter held no interest for me, and Twitter being the way it is no one needs an account to check the weather or emergency services accounts. In fact I had already deleted the withdrawal account by the time of last week's tornado warning.

And I just realized today, more so even than last week, that I don't even miss it. Twitter truly is now as dead to me as Facebook has been for lo these many years.

I do still regret that Pitchengine Streams has gone belly up, the last post to be found there is ten days old. I hope it wasn't my Zuckerberg lawsuit joke...

Monday, April 10, 2017

There's No Need to Feel Down

Mrs. McG was disappointed to discover that the hospital's cardiac rehab program's hours are too limited for her to participate, so we've joined the local YMCA.

They have a program called "Coach Approach" that promises to offer direction and monitoring in the workout center that, we hope, will approximate what the hospital program would involve. I imagine she'll need to consult with her cardiologist too, so he can monitor what she's doing and provide advice along the way as she gets stronger.

As for why I joined too? Well, my daily regimen of chairobics doesn't seem to be the fitness breakthrough I hoped it would be.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Talking Back to Pop-Culture Idiom, 1

I know you think you're just venting your anger and/or hatred at the people you're telling us all to do that to, but didn't your parents ever tell you where babies come from?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thoughts My Brain Made Today, 8

I'm not sure which surprises me more about the Barry Manilow news: that people are surprised, or that people care.


What ultimately serves to keep me off social media turns out mainly to be the omnipresence of scolds.

My block list when I was on Twitter was never less than twice as long as the list of people I allowed to follow me. Way too many of the blocked accounts struck me as devoting too much energy to nagging people into opinion conformity. If it wasn't liberals peeved at the idea heath care is a transaction, not a right, it was Trumpers accusing anyone not slobbering over Trump of slobbering over Hillary instead (I'm neither a toddler nor senile, so I choose not to slobber at all).

Nor has the end of the 2016 campaign led to abatement of the problem. Since non-protected Twitter timelines are available to people without accounts I can still look in once in a while, and even people I like are prone to letting the scold rear its ugly head now and then.

Bossy third-graders ceased appealing to me for social interaction when fourth grade was still months away.

August 1969

It's commonplace to marvel at how toxic American politics are in the second decade of the 21st century. Yet there was at the original Woodstock music festival nearly 48 years ago a performer named Jeffrey Shurtleff who, in introducing a duet he was about to sing with Joan Baez, dedicated a song to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of California.

The song was "Drugstore Truck Drivin' Man," and the second line was "He's the head of the Ku Klux Klan."

When I first heard this song -- after my brother received the album in 1970 -- I was no fan of Reagan, who was still in his first term as governor. But even then I couldn't see how the man in the song resembled him in any way.

I was eight years old.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Answer, My Friends

I knew there was bad weather in the cards today, so hearing the county warning siren at about a quarter after eight this morning wasn't so much a surprise as an incongruity -- I'd only ever heard them being tested before, and it took a moment to understand that this couldn't possibly be a test.

None of the weather apps on my phone showed a tornado warning. A glance at the official Twitter timelines didn't turn up anything either, at least initially. The better part of valor was to get to the most tornado-proof room in the house, but we really don't have one.

While I considered, I finally found the tornado warning both on Twitter and the weather apps, and the radar app showed an approaching storm with a pronounced tailhook shape. What's more, the home acres were smack in the middle of the warning polygon

The vast majority of tornadoes, as it happens, don't level homes, so the biggest danger in our case would be from falling trees. I could be safer downstairs, even with windows in almost every room, and heavy appliances overhead of the sole exception. So, hoping the odds would hold, I went into the finished basement to wait out the warning.

Over time the storm's hook faded out, reappeared, and re-dissipated, all before it got here. Mrs. McG was at work, where she was well able to track the big picture, but I texted her a more home-centric series of updates, including a wry observation that the train sound I was hearing was from an actual train. In the end, I came back upstairs as the warning ended, not with a roar, but with a whisper.

It's possible we may have to go through this all again later today, but I'd rather not, thanks.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sync or Swim

I still remember when being able to sync files with a cloud service such as Dropbox, live, to your Mac or your Windows PC, was a huge deal. Now of course pretty much every cloud storage service has a live-sync app for the Applesoft duopoly, and there are good Linux apps for Google Drive and Dropbox.

They, along with Microsoft's OneDrive, also have third-party-created almost-live sync apps for Android devices, if you've shelled out, as I have, for the models with more storage.

Having more storage means the 1,300-plus tracks I now maintain in my primary listening rotation can all live on both my phone and my tablet without crowding the system files, apps and other user files I keep on them. Using Google's cloud-centered services like Gmail, Docs, and Keep, among others, helps too.

But today I discovered that Google's Play Music app wasn't finding and indexing all of the MP3s I have in my Music folder tree. I tried Amazon's counterpart and found exactly the same problem, leading me to wonder if Amazon merely licensed the guts of Google's app to power theirs. So now I'm using VLC, which also happens to be the standard music player on my Linux Mint laptop. Since it's not wedded to a cloud music stream, it can easily understand and deal with an entirely local music library -- ignoring ring- and notification tones, for example, unlike Play Music.

Yeah. Google's app wouldn't serve up all of my actual music, but it did insist on little now-for-a-word-from-our-sponsor interludes of Carme and Callisto.

Apparently VLC can access streaming services, but I haven't played with that. I don't pay either Google or Amazon to force-stream me music I can't stand, so I wouldn't get but so much out of it. Google won't accept certain tracks I bought with a different Google account, and the utility I used the last time that issue came up isn't available for Linux -- neither is the uploader for Amazon's music storage service -- so even using VLC to stream only my own music library isn't an option.

Yet. Looking back up at the first paragraph, I have to invoke the Y word.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Imagine a Surprise Party...

...where instead of friends and family surprising the guest of honor, he surprises them.

Atlantans already suffered through the fourth-worst traffic in America and the ninth worst in the world, Inrix, a global transportation research firm, reported last year.

And I had to drive in that for a week and a half. Both ways!

Okay, lots of people around here do that for years, but we already knew they were insane.

It isn't just that people here have lousy driving habits -- I actually came to regard most people I was sharing the freeway with as merely responding as rationally as possible to a freeway system designed by Tweedledum and Tweedledee's stupider brother. The real problem is, well, the freeway system was designed by Tweedledum and Tweedledee's stupider brother.

Anyway, the investigation of how the fire started and why it caused such damage has only begun, and will surely be bagged to protect the Bushes and Halliburton. Clearly this was 9/11 all over again -- just ask Rosie O'Donnell.

Trump Declares War on Fellow Republicans

Hey, uh, 2016? When exactly were you planning on getting gone?