Friday, July 3, 2015

This is very old-fashioned of me.

This is very old-fashioned of me.  Deal with it.

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  I visited a dentist yesterday, for the first time since moving up here.  Like just about every other “first” experience, this was a good one.  My appointment was for 1 pm, with Dr. Lance Gunnell.  Figuring there would be paperwork, I showed up at 12:30.  In fact, there was a thick wad of paperwork to fill out, and I sat down with a clipboard loaded with forms with tiny little boxes to fill out.  Partway through the first of these pages, a young lady came out and called my name – and at 12:40 I was seated in the examining chair.  Just before I finished the paperwork (between a tech's taking X-rays), at 12:46, Dr. Gunnell showed up. 

He'd already reviewed my X-rays, and launched into a detailed explanation (complete with diagrams he drew as he was talking) of exactly what was wrong with my tooth – an infected root, on a tooth with a porcelain crown.  There's also the possibility of a different root on the same tooth being cracked.  Recommendation: he'd drill through my crown, trying to preserve it, then clean out the accessible infection in my tooth.  He'd then pack it with antibiotics, stuff it with gutta-percha, put a temporary plug in the hole, and send me to an endodontics specialist for the actual root canal.  By 1:20 pm he had actually completed all this (with the aid of two assistants and impressive organization) and I was out the door.  Next stop: Reed's Pharmacy, for the antibiotics and pain meds that would sustain me until my appointment next week.  Dr. Gunnell told me there was a 50/50 chance that the antibiotic would knock the infection down to the point where there was no pain, and it looks like I won the bet: I haven't needed any pain medication since last night.  Woo hoo!

This morning I mowed our lawn and blew the driveway clean, at which point the heat plus my mostly sleepless night caused me to call it a day...

City governments are worried...

City governments are worried...  Because driverless (automated) cars will not run stop signs or red lights, or speed – and city revenues from ticket sales fines will plummet.  The progressive reflex will be to ban driverless cars.  Then after deeper thought, they'll realize it's a new tax opportunity...

Just put this country out of its misery, huh? Part III...

Just put this country out of its misery, huh?  Part III...  This is not The Onion – it's an official Health and Human Services Administration web page:
You should be prepared when Aunt Janine says something like, “Obamacare hasn’t helped anyone!” So here are a few points to remember during this long holiday weekend:

Situation: Uncle Ted claims Obamacare is a train wreck and has cost jobs.

You say: Uncle Ted, you’ve gotten ahold of some old talking points. With greater access to affordable, quality health insurance, the Affordable Care Act is helping individuals and strengthening our economy!

Since the main components of the law went into effect, we’ve reduced the number of uninsured by 16.4 million, the largest increase in the insured in decades. Before the ACA, the U.S. economy faced rapidly growing health costs that put enormous pressure on businesses and consumers. We paid more than any country without better health results, and millions of Americans were one illness away from bankruptcy. Today, we’ve seen the slowest growth in health costs in half a century, improved patient safety has saved an estimated 50,000 lives and $12 billion, and employer premiums for family coverage grew just 3 percent in 2014, tied with 2010 for the lowest on record back to 1999.

Meanwhile, since the ACA was signed, the private sector has added 12.8 million jobs over 64 straight months of job growth, extending the longest streak on record. The increase in employment over that period is due almost entirely to higher full-time employment. The number of people working part-time who would prefer to be full-time has fallen by 2.6 million from March 2010 through May 2015, including a decline of 1.1 million since December 2013.

Now, would you like more corn?
Speechless, I am, at the squandering of even more of my tax dollars.  I'm afraid to know how much of my money was spent creating this garbage...

Just put this country out of its misery, huh? Part II...

Just put this country out of its misery, huh?  Part II...  Crying, I am...

“Just put this country out of its misery now, huh?”

“Just put this country out of its misery now, huh?”  So says Ace, and it's easy to see why...

Unemployment is down...

Unemployment is down...  At least, the official number is.  But if you look at labor force participation (a much more useful measure, in my view), it's down to 62.6% – a number last seen in 1977.  For those of you who are less ancient than I am, let me remind you that 1977 was Jimmy Carter's first year in office.  The country was suffering from a terrible recession, partly driven by skyrocketing oil prices.  In that context, consider that our labor force participation rate has just declined to a level matching those parlous economic times.  Yeah, that's how good our economy is doing!

For the government to claim that unemployment is falling sounds like Orwellian doublethink, no?

Race vs. violent crime in the U.S...

Race vs. violent crime in the U.S...  Some interesting data here, with more confirmations than surprises.  Violent crime is disproportionately committed by blacks, including (perhaps especially) blacks on blacks.  Black on white crime, as I'd expect, is far lower than perceived by whites...

Lunch for a hot summer day...

Lunch for a hot summer day...  I just cubed a tomato, an avocado, a roasted red pepper, and a thick slice of ham.  Tossed it all with a tablespoon or so of Duke's mayonnaise.  Ate it with a glass of ice cold apple juice.  Oh, yum!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

With two numbers and a single arithmetic operation...

With two numbers and a single arithmetic operation ... generate the Fibonacci sequence up to 24 digit results.  How could you possibly do this?  Here's how: divide 1 by 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,998,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999!

Who thinks of these things?!?!

Is this really funny?

Is this really funny?  A “joke” sent along by my brother Scott:
Hillary Clinton goes to a gifted-student primary school in New York to talk about the world. After her talk she offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand.  Hillary asks him what his name is.
"Kenneth," he answers.

"And what is your question, Kenneth?"

"I have three questions: First - whatever happened in Benghazi? Second - why would you run for President after your husband shamed the office? And, Third - “whatever happened to the missing 6 billion dollars while you were Secretary of State?"

Just then the bell rings for recess. Hillary Clinton informs the kiddies they will continue after recess.

When they resume Hillary says, "Okay where were we? Oh, that's right, question time. Who has a question?"

A different boy puts his hand up; Hillary points to him and asks him what his name is.

"Johnny," he answers.

"And what is your question, Johnny?"

"I have five questions: First - whatever happened in Benghazi? Second - why would you run for President after your husband shamed the office? Third- whatever happened to the missing 6 billion dollars while you were Secretary of State? Fourth - why did the recess bell go off 20 minutes early? And, Fifth - where's Kenneth?"
This reminds me, strongly, of the dark Russian humor of the Soviet era.  My first reaction was ... that it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that this was a true story.  My second reaction was ... the story actually is implausible – but only because Hillary doesn't answer unscripted questions.  My last reaction was ... this isn't funny, though I know it's supposed to be a joke.

Sad about my country, I am...

Ricochet's Daily Shot...

Ricochet's Daily Shot...  I've blogged about Ricochet on several occasions.  It's one of my favorite sites, and it's part of my morning reading routine.  I love their commenting Code of Conduct, which keeps the comment threads civil.  The writers and commenters are top drawer.  One of the features of that web site is a daily email called the Daily Shot, and it's something I look forward to reading every morning.  It's a free subscription even if you don't join Ricochet; just go to their home page, look on the upper right, and sign up.  Highly recommended!  I'd pay for Ricochet membership just to get that email :)

Here's a sample from this morning's Daily Shot:
Want to Understand Greece? Take This and Extrapolate it Across a Whole Economy

Greece is in quite a pickle. It has defaulted on its debt payments to the IMF, it’s cut off (for the time being) from a European bailout, and its prime minister ... is a piece of work. Alexis Tsipras seems to be in over his head.

First, he left bailout negotiations, insisting on a public referendum on the conditions Greece’s creditors were demanding. Then he let his nation go into default on its debt payments. Then, he suddenly realized how bad an idea that was, so he wrote a letter late Tuesday to other European leaders and the IMF, accepting the terms of their bailout. Then he started telling his voters to reject the measure.

On Wednesday, finance ministers from Eurozone countries held a conference call to collectively facepalm ... and then to talk about Tsipras. They decided that, rather than jump in and help, they’re going to wait for the outcome of Sunday’s referendum. You know, rather than rely on the whims of the prime minister/hormonal teenager. Many of Greece’s creditors also have serious doubts that, even if bailed out, Tsipras’s left-wing government would make the necessary reforms.

So now it’s in the lap of the gods and the hands of Greek voters. (You know, the folks who elected Tsipras to begin with). Well, at least until Tsipras changes his mind six more times tomorrow.

Friends, we should applaud the man. It takes an extra level of ineptness of make even Barack Obama look like a decisive leader.
Love that last paragraph :)

Morning in Paradise...

Morning in Paradise...  Two of the dogs (Miki and Race) and I took a brisk morning walk just after 5 am this morning.  Mo'i can only walk about a half mile before he starts getting tired, but without him we did just over a mile (each way) this morning.

It was a beautiful morning, cool and crisp.  A full moon hung over the Wellsville Mountains to our west, with wispy little clouds occasionally scudding across its orb.  When we set out, the first hints of dawn showed over the Wasatch Mountains to our east.  By the time we came back, we had a gorgeous sunrise behind us, which I kept stopping to spin about and look at.  We passed barley fields that in the space of a single day had their crowns turn from green to brown.  In another day or two, the entire plants will be brown, and it will be time to harvest it.

We also passed a very active striped skunk in a recently mowed alfalfa field just south of the road we were walking on.  Though the skunk got to within about 20' of us, the two dogs never saw it.  It was downwind, so they couldn't smell it either.  That skunk was moving faster than I've ever seen a skunk move before, foraging for bugs and whatever else that skunks eat.  It was headed straight for us, and showed no signs of hesitating – so I hurried the mutts along to get out of its way.  Sure enough, just 30 seconds or so after we zoomed by it, it crossed the road behind us. 

Photos taken along the way:


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Doctors on strike...

Doctors on strike...  Via reader Simi L.:

Face-off!

Face-off!  What a cool photo!!

Rosetta looks at...

Rosetta looks at ... Comet 67P, yesterday...

Curiosity is looking...

Curiosity is looking ... at some interesting Martian geology again...

Morning in Paradise...

Morning in Paradise...  The dogs and I went for a walk just before dawn.  It was beautiful...


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eriogonum kennedyi...

Eriogonum kennedyi...  This is a variety of wild buckwheat, one of many that are common in southern California.  Via BPOD, of course...

Bomb-sniffing rats...

Bomb-sniffing rats...  Reader Simi L. sent this along.  When I first started reading, I thought it was some kind of joke – but it's for real!  More detail here...

Progress in Paradise...

Progress in Paradise...  Debbie continues her steady improvement.  She no longer looks like I beat her :)  She still hasn't graduated to the walker yet, though.  I cut her a little bouquet this morning, from flowers around our yard – very cheerful blue, red, and orange!

I didn't have to move pipes this morning, so I spent the (relatively) cool part of the day doing some organizing and cleanup in the barn so that I could move the air compressor into place.  Then I actually moved it, making extensive use of the tractor to do it as the beast weighs 650 pounds.  At right is the beast in all its glory, sitting in the correct spot.  Now all I have to do is hook up 240V, 120V (yes, both!), an air intake, two drains, and the air output (which will be piped all over the shop).  By the time I finished with this, I was drenched in sweat.  The air conditioned house felt might good at that point!

I've got a toothache, I think under a crown that was installed a few years ago.  I called to make an appointment with the dentist I met a couple months ago at Hyrum Tire, Dr. Lance Gunnell.  I'm seeing him on Thursday, when he's in his Hyrum office, just four miles away.

Last year a crew from Questar Gas came out to re-route a gas line that the previous owner of this property had built an outbuilding over.  I mentioned to the crew that I intended to knock that building down, and one of them said he'd like to take it.  He'd saw it into pieces with a sawzall, and then put it back together on posts to make a boathouse for his wife.  Not only would he put it to good use, he'd do all the work of taking it down.  Of course I said “yes” to that!  Well, I lost track of this fellow's name and number, and I wanted to get that process started – as we want to put a backup generator on the slab.  What to do?  I called a different Questar Gas employee, another guy who had been out here.  I explained my dilemma to him, and he said he'd ask around the office for me while I held on the line.  About 30 seconds later, another guy got on the phone and said he knew exactly who I mean, a guy named Steve M., and he'd have Steve call me right away.  Another minute or so, and Steve called me – and now we have arranged for that building to be removed next week.  The people here are so helpful, and the community so small, that things like this happen routinely.  This would almost certainly not have been the case when we were living down in California...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Email I received today...

Email I received today...  From Apple:
Dear iMac owner,

Apple has determined that certain 3TB hard drives used in 27-inch iMac systems may fail. These systems were sold between December 2012 and September 2013.

Our records show that you have an iMac with an affected 3TB hard drive. Apple will replace your hard drive with a new one, free of charge.
 
Please visit the iMac (27-inch) 3TB Hard Drive Replacement Program page to learn more about the replacement process.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

iMac serial number: (redacted)

Sincerely,

Apple Inc.
This is not a response to any complaint we raised.  It is a program just announced by Apple.  According to some news sources, Apple noticed the trend in their service data, and took action unilaterally.

I located an authorized service location 10 miles from our home.  I called them, and they knew all about the program.  They said to just bring the computer in, and they would do the replacement.  No charge.  No hassle.  Twenty four hour turnaround.

I cannot recall the maker of any other computer, peripheral, or component that I've ever owned proactively reaching out to me to offer mitigation for a service trend showing a problem.

My service experience to date with Apple computers (8 years now) is quite limited, simply because very little has ever gone wrong.  I've had two problems that I resolved in just minutes with searches of Apple's knowledge base, one hardware problem (a keyboard with a drink spilled on it) that they fixed under warranty in an Apple store, and now this.  Every time, the problem is solved, quickly, and at no cost to me.  By contrast, I used Dell computers for quite a few years.  Initially their service was quite good, but it deteriorated over the years to the point where I would rather buy a new computer than call their service number.

I'm no Apple fan-boy, but I will happily pay a premium for excellent hardware and software backed by excellent service!

A morning in Paradise...

A morning in Paradise...  The dogs and I got out on our walk well before sunrise this morning.  We walked by a sprinkler on a recently mowed alfalfa field shooting water in front of the red sunrise.  It was cool and pleasant at that hour; as I write this (at 8:30 am) it's already in the high 80s and headed for 98° this afternoon.  The dogs flushed a weasel along the road, which as you might imagine got all three of them very excited – especially when the curious weasel came toward them.  It got to within three feet or so before it decided that fleeing was a better option :)

After sunrise, I went out and gathered up Tim D.'s hand line.  I had some help – as I was carrying the first pipe, two of another neighbor's kids (Nick and Abby S.) came out to help.  We made short work of it!  Then I moved the sprinklers in my yard, and got a picture at left of a flower (unknown to me) in our back yard...

What happens when...


What happens when ... a 7 year old kid is playing in a park, within sight of her mom?  Why, you call the cops, take the kid to the police station, and charge the mom with child endangerment, of course!

I have several reactions...
  • My parents were serial child endangerers.  Under these rules, they probably would have been executed.
  • This happened Westbrook, Maine (on the outskirts of Portland).  What the hell happened to Maine since the '50s and '60s, when I visited so many times?  
  • If the same rules were applied here in Northern Utah, every parent I know would be charged with child endangerment – free range kids are the rule here.
I wonder what country will take over the U.S.'s position as the leader of the free world? At the rate we're going, we're likely to be conquered by Mexico...

White-faced ibis update...

White-faced ibis update...  Yesterday afternoon I got a close, front-lit view of the birds that I had previously speculated were white-faced ibis.  With yesterday's better view, I'm going to call that confirmed: they were white-faced ibis.  The one I saw looked very much like the one at right (not my photo)...

“Not payable.”

“Not payable.”  So says the governor of Puerto Rico, about the island's $72B in debt.  The threat of a default looms.  The governor is actively looking for creditors to accede to restructuring, including deferrals and write-downs.  He's also looking for a (U.S.) taxpayer-funded bailout, which isn't likely.

Puerto Rico – as many have predicted it would – has run out of other people's money.  The socialists have ruined another economy.  There are quite a few parallels to the current Greek crisis, but this one is much closer to home.  Though many Americans don't know it, Puerto Rico is actually part of the United States.  It's a Commonwealth, not a state, though there is rising support in Puerto Rico to become a state.

It will be interesting, and instructive, to see what the Obama administration's reaction to this is...