Sunday, April 26, 2020

Sunday. COVID-19 Lockdown day 34.

Today. Now.  How have I been doing this week?

About the same as usual.  My give a s**t level is at its usual low ebb. Tireder than usual. Perhaps due to less exercise.  Haven't gotten out for a good walk in a couple of days.  It's been cold and rainy.  Today is nice out, but my motivation is missing.  My attitude comes and goes throughout the day.  Good mood, motivated for a while, apathetic for a while.  Fortunately, the lows aren't as low as pre-COVID; having an existential threat seems to have kicked the crippling depression to the curb.

How's the city and the environment?  Slowly settling into this new normal.  Stock levels at stores are coming up.  Grocery pickup times have gone from 5 days out to same-day if you get your order in early enough.  Police activity is still high, and still higher levels of idiocy.  Car theft and high-speed chase yesterday.  Multiple location shooting a mile West of here early last week.  Spring has sprung and the lawns are growing, people are out mowing every day, flowers blooming and trees budding.  Wildlife is coming out - we had a healthy well-fed fox come into the back yard this morning about 6:30AM.  Fortunately, we scared him off - RandomTheCat was outside under the deck doing his catly business.  Also, fortunately, I've been keeping the camera out and ready to grab for any interesting wildlife in the back yard.

Early Morning Fox in the back yard.

Otherwise, the routine continues.  Saturday grocery pickup at Hy-Vee.  A weekly grocery run for mom.  Order hard to find things (cat food, for some reason) off of Amazon.  Online meetings for work.  Online meetings for Scouts. The oldest son is stressed and depressed for a 6-page research paper that's due, along with a large scale 3D design project.  The design project is complete, now he just has to crack out a research paper in a couple of days.  Hours have been cut, again for the kids at the sandwich shop. The daughter is down to 2 hours a week.  She's going to be in a hard place when it comes time to pay for classes in the fall unless she picks up another job to put some income together.

So, all is nominal here. I need to get more exercise or ride a motorcycle or something.

With that, we'll close out this weeks head check and status update.

Your humble scribe,

Will England

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Making Disinfectant Solution against COVID-19

Most off the shelf disinfectants (Lysol etc.) are sold out and have been sold out for weeks.  But you can make your own assuming you have some laundry bleach and a good spray bottle.

First - the bleach - it should be the basic generic sodium hypochlorite 5% laundry bleach, no scents or color boosters.  The cheapest bottle you can get.

Next - the sprayer - in a pinch, a water sprayer from the health and beauty aisle works, but hopefully, you have a spare or running empty 409 or Tilex bottle in your house.  As you use that up, KEEP THE BOTTLE.  Why?  They have a spray head that's designed for harsh chemicals.  And the bottle is designed to pull solution from the bottom through a molded-in tube; not a central dangly tube that leaves the last dregs in the bottle.

Now, the solution.

For cleaning the worst bloodborne pathogens (Ebola, for example), the CDC recommends a 0.5% bleach solution - they have a nice printable PDF about making that concentration with simple ratios to follow.  However, that's a ton of solution they're making, and more concentrated than we need.  Note the CDC flyer says to discard unused solution every day; unless you are disinfecting on a large scale, you're not going to need gallons of this; it doesn't keep.  We'll work on making an 8oz solution.  You can use it for a couple of days but it will lose potency if stored longer than that.  You'll need to re-make it periodically.

According to a survey of various papers, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) can remain infectious for 2 hours up to 9 days.  Also in the same paper, it notes what kills SARS-CoV-2 properly.  Isopropyl Alcohol at 70% works in 1 minute; 0.1% sodium hypochlorite  (bleach) solution also works in 1 minute.  As we noted above, we're going to make a solution a bit stouter than 0.1%, just because the measurements are easier.

The process to make the Disinfectant solution for COVID-19

To make the CDC 0.5% bleach solution you need to mix one part bleach with 9 parts water - on a small scale, that's 1 ounce bleach to 9 ounces water.  Not terribly hard, but not convenient units of measure.  Lets scale that back a bit - 1 tablespoon of bleach (0.62 oz) to 8 oz (one cup) of water. Easy, eh?  Add a single tablespoon of 5% bleach to a 1 cup measuring cup, fill with water to the 8oz line.  Pour, carefully, into your empty Tilex or 409 bottle. Shake, prime and you're good to go with a sanitizing or disinfecting spray.

In bullet form:
  1. Add 1 tablespoon bleach to a one-cup measuring cup.
  2. Add water to the 8-ounce line
  3. Pour the solution into spray bottle.
  4. Replace every day or three 

How To Video Making the Disinfectant Spray

(To see more videos, visit my Youtube Channel and subscribe)


  1. ObDisclaimer - I am not a medical, health, or chemical professional.  Take this advice as a friendly suggestion, not a prescription for action.
  2. Health and Safety: You're working with bleach.  It burns skin and eyes.  And ruins clothes.  Use some common sense - eye protection, gloves, don't wear your best concert T-Shirt while you're making this.
  3. The final product is still bleach.  Do not spray on anything that will fade (clothing) or be damaged by bleach.  Do not spray on people, and keep it out of your eyes, mouth, ears and other body parts.  It burns.  

References for the COVID-19 time to live and best disinfectants for it:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Black Box Debugging

Black Box debugging - finding a bug when you have no visibility into the source code.  Identifying what's going wrong by the outputs of the system when presented with various inputs.  Love it.  Most of the time you don't have access to the source code; either it's long since gone, or it's in the hands of a different team.  So - you provide a variety of inputs in a variety of patterns and observe.

From there, you take your observations and either work out a linear process of what's happening or if you are an intuitive thinker, you'll 'see' the inner workings of the code and what it's doing right - or wrong.
Screenshots are good. Even if it's just the console.

Even for the intuitive thinker, you'll need to double down and create a linear description of the issue, in each case you can create the issue, ideally with screenshots or console dumps, to provide to the developers to resolve.  That's the hard bit, at least for me.

And that was my 'Now' moment for today.  Friday, 2PM, black box debug a set of Javascript calls on a website.  No, I don't know Javascript beyond how to spell it.  No, I've never seen this website before; at least not this new section of it.  No, I didn't have access to the source code.  Nor did I have access to a developer, only a developer liaison who could give occasional garbled tips through his Apple Airpods.

(Side note - Apple Airpods do not work well with computer-based phone/video calls. Get a Plantronics UC earpiece or a Jabra 75 Headset).

Was I successful?  Yes. And an improved version of a website was made available to the customers, making wireless suck just that much less.

How was your Friday?

Your Humble Scribe,

Will England

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Setup OBS for DLive Streaming seems to be the latest thing for people to broadcast and earn virtual money with far less restrtions that YouTube.

So, how do you set it up on a Mac - I'm using a 2015 MacBook Pro and this is what I did.

Setup OBS for Streaming with Background Music.

First, download OBS:

Read this (older but useful) tutorial after the automatic setup goes through:

Now, fiddle with the settings a bit and stream.

Want to add background music?
In OBS, add a media source and pick an MP3 file to play; ideally one in the public domain or licensed via Creative Commons.

Better background music?  Add a VLC Media Container to OBS that has a playlist of songs you want running in the background.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Sunday. Today. Lockdown day 27.

I start these posts early in the day.
By the end of the day, I neglect to come back and publish them.
So, dates / days are all hosed up. C'est la vie.

Saturday Recap 

Picked up grocery order at the store.  They got most of it right.  I even got the specific tissues my mom wanted.
Did the unload, sanitize, put away routine.  Noticed my heart rate was hanging out about 100 the whole time.  Yes, I'm somewhere between 20 and 40 pounds overweight right now, but dang, 100bpm heart rate for carrying in groceries?  Ow.  Possibly a side effect of 35 days without much activity.

So, after lunch, I took SamTheDog out to visit mom and deliver her tissues.  He hasn't been out for a walk other than to the vet in a couple of years.  He quite enjoyed it.  Then walked to the post office to mail her bills, and got off track and wandered around the edge of Downtown Overland Park, checked out the work they're doing on the old Santa Fe Commons Park.  Just a bit too late to get a second lunch at The Snack Shack.  Ah well.  All told - walked about 2 miles. 6600 steps.

Decent ramble on a nice day.

Saturday evening I re-learned how to put text on a shape in Photoshop Elements; the wife was asking.  I think she's working on a logo for a live streaming service she wants to start.

Speaking of videos, I went through the WxExW archive and created two new playlists:
  • Environmental - Videos capturing the natural and ambient environmental images and sound, mostly here in Overland Park, and
  • How-To and Instructional - Videos that teach something.  Some cross-postings from the phone demo videos, along with karate (very old).  
A goal is to build more environmental videos to capture what the world in suburban KC is like in the 2020s; HowTo is more aspirational.  Those tend to take a lot more time, thought and effort.  But we'll see what comes to pass.

Today, Sunday, 19-April, Now. 

Up at 0500 AM; back is sore - not surprised from hauling around a 40-pound lump of fat over my belt for 2 miles yesterday - and the brain really wanted some coffee.
Today, I plan to walk down to the grocery for a specific vitamin mom is looking for and get the motorcycle out and head down to Costco to look for allergy meds, canned chicken and other small items they usually have.  Also, check the price on desktop computers; see what they are selling the Dell XPS Desktop PC for.

In other news, Heilung has a new video out for the song, Norupo.  Amazing visuals. Amplified history.  It's a sung version of the Norwegian Rune Poem. The Rune Poems were a recitation of the names and kennings (associations) of the runes.  The English translation

State of the County

Johnson County Kansas has a Tableau infographic based on their COVID-19 data breaking infections down by zip code,  hospital utilization, and ambulance dispatch.  As of today, we're still under capacity on hospitals and below average on ambulance dispatches.  We can assume fewer people driving, fewer accidents; fewer people stressed at work, fewer medical issues; fewer people at hazardous jobs, less work-related accidents. Social distancing and state lockdown seems to be having the desired effect of reducing the infection rate. 369 confirmed cases, 22 deaths from COVID-19 as of today, Sunday, April 19. 

Closing Bits for Sunday

Took a walk to Price Chopper - 2.1 miles by Google Maps, about 5,000 steps more or less.  I got a specific brand and type of vitamins for my mom, walked back a different route and saw some amazing Sycamore trees just starting to bud out.
Today's Walk

Sycamores over freshly mown lawns

Earlier in the morning (10:30 AM or so), I spotted this possum trotting across the neighbors back yard; I was able to get a good shot of him with the Sigma 18-300 lens.  Hopefully, he'll eat all the ticks that seem to like living back there. 
Possum in the 'back 40'

While I was outside photographing the possum, RandomTheCat idled out to see what I was doing; perhaps getting food ready for him?  No - but he did pose for a nice closeup photo:
The walk, and getting a couple of nice photos, were the highlight of the day.  Clear, cool weather. Nothing much else going on here.  Tomorrow - annual physical with the doctor, then remote work until I get the job done.

Until next time,
your humble scribe,

Will England

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Now. Today. Lockdown day 25. COVID Lockdown.

While the state, regional or national lockdown has only been in place for 25 days, I've been at home for 35 days now.  I took some PTO over Spring Break before thee lockdown orders came from the KC Metro area, then the State of Kansas, then the Federal advisory.  Kansas has extended this another 16 days, until 3-May-2020.  51 days home for me.  I think that's a record; at least in the last few years on this new team that emphasizes time in office.  Even before this team, when I was working as a business analyst or on the Social / Community team, I'd go in to the office 1 or 2 days a week for a few hours.  I haven't seen my desk since March 13th.

So, how am I holding up right here, right now?  Fair.  Touchier than usual.  Trying to learn how to be pleasant to people. Relatively low ebb - lots to do, merger completed, no idea who the new teams are.  Focusing on building up my workspace here at the house; upgrading computers, getting a big monitor, etc.  Keeping the same schedule - 8 to 9PM bedtime with an hour of reading or so, 6 to 7AM getup with the dog.  SamTheDog seems to know when the alarm is going to go off and *whuffs* outside my door about 5 minutes before the alarm.  Nice way to start the day.
SamTheDog wondering when I'll get off the computer and take him outside!

Stats break:

  • This is the most I've updated and published to this blog, in, well, ever.
  • I have 1,026 published posts since 2005.
  • Yes, this blog has been going for 15 years.
  • I have over 141,000 pageviews.
  • I have two followers.
  • Most traffic comes from Google searches.
  • The most popular post is how to unwedge your Plantronics Headset.
  • The most recent popular post is how to unwedge your Asus RT-AC68U WiFi Router.

Site Updates:

  • I just added a subscribe by email to get notified of new posts.
  • I also added an RSS block at the bottom of the page.
  • And I updated the header text shown on every page. 
At least I have plenty of time to tweak this.

Health and Wellness:

Yeah, I should have been updating this bit.  Physically - OK.  Tired, vaguely achy, frequent headaches. Stress, allergies and being very sedentary can certainly account for that.  We found on the County website there are 6 to 8 confirmed cases in our zipcode of COVID-19.  Not a huge threat to speak of, and hopefully, they are quarantining themselves well.  Mentally?  Low tide.  Lots to do for work, unsure of priorities, team structure, etc.  Lots to do at home, but it's bitter cold out right now, so outside projects have to wait.  Inside, everyone but me is living on a 3rd shift schedule (bed by 4AM, up my 4PM.)  So it's a quiet time in the house all day, every day. Minor depression; if I start moving more that should resolve.  Minor anxiety.  Significant movement (bicycling, long walks, motorcycle rides) would help with that, but again, bitter cold out today.

Enough for now. Work call at 10AM and 11AM. Need to be sure I have the work rig set up and connected.

(Never got back to this to publish it. So, 6:30 Saturday Sunday morning we're going to wrap Friday's blog post.)

- Will England

Friday, April 17, 2020

Bluetooth Headphones Microphone Comparison

I have a few Bluetooth Headphones with microphones, designed to listen to music, take calls and some have active noise cancellation.  Two have the microphone on the earcup; one, the Jabra, has the microphone on a boom. But how good are they at picking up your voice for a call, video meeting,  voice chat, or to use for voiceover recording on a video?  I thought I'd try and find out.  Will any of these work well enough for voice that I can skip getting a dedicated voiceover microphone? 


Jabra Evolve 75 NC


As a test, I recorded reading the same passage on each one, connected via Bluetooth to my Macbook using Audacity.  Each recording was normalized to match sound levels, and inserted into this Youtube video. The sound was left 'dry' - no further processing done beyond normalizing levels.

I tested the AKG Y50BT, Jabra 75 NC, and  AKG N60NC headphones - here are the results:

You can hear for yourself, the Jabra has the best sound of the three; it's designed as an office communication headset, so we'd expect it to work the best, and it does.

Just a tech note on these long socially isolated days . . .

Will England

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day 24, COVID-19 Lockdown

Here in flyover country, it's not particularly dramatic during the lockdown.  Not much to write about day to day, so going to a more occasional journal/blog post.  Yesterday was basically boring.

Oh yes, yesterday was Wednesday, April 15th.  Today is Thursday, April 16th.  Need to put that there so I remember. 

I worked, tested apps, completed technical specifications, presented to teams, etc.  In the evening I moved the cars around and took the pickup for a spin around the block to shake the rainwater out of the bed and warm it up a bit. 

Biggest accomplishment yesterday?  Tested out the three Bluetooth headphones for voice pickup quality, and made it into a video.  So - follows are the AKG Y50BT, Jabra 75 NC, and  AKG N60NC headphones as I read the same passage.  And I got to use my Phillips Color TV Test Card for a background.  Perhaps today I'll try several wired gaming headsets to compare the voice quality.

Today - gas station for the truck, it seems to be out of gas. And pharmacy for a prescription. And bring the trash cans in.  And possibly troubleshoot the static in the audio on the old TV.  If I can't get the static sorted out it may be time to retire the old beast - 1998 vintage Toshiba 32" glass tube TV.  The picture has been flickering slightly too.  Realistically I'd bet it is the cable box / DVR flaking out; they seem to die every 4 or 5 years.  (Nope - something on the internal amp on the TV is throwing static.  Does it even with every input unplugged so it's not a bad connection or wire on the outside.)

Starting to rain here - should have gone out in the morning for my errands.  Sigh. Oh well.  Call coming up in 20 minutes; going to go get some testing sorted out.

Got the errands done.  Still seems to be the normal amount of traffic out. I'm still touchy and easily frustrated. Getting some dinner and off to bed at the normal time.

Until the next episode,

Your Humble Scribe,

Will England

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Day 22, COVID-19 Lockdown

And good morning to all!  Woke up to SamTheDog at the usual time; woke up to below freezing temperatures.  Woke up to over 300 COVID-19 cases (tested anyway - we can assume an order of magnitude untested and asymptomatic) in the county.  One of the CD's ordered yesterday is winging its way over from Germany; we'll see if we win the bid on the other one in a few hours.  Ah, the things we do for fun while on mandatory stay-home orders.

Tuesday.  Tuesday, April 14.  Workday.  Normally the day before income tax returns are due, but that's been pushed out for state and federal filing to summer.  Filed and paid mine early in the year before this COVID-19 thing became a 24-hour news cycle.  Even dual F5 tornados only make a blip in the news cycle about COVID-19.  19 dead in Mississippi and surrounding Southern states from a pair off F5 tornados training one behind the other.

Time to get half dressed for my first meeting of the day, discussing how we parse and store data from the handset app in our Adobe Analytics system.

In other news, I won the auction for the CD-R promo of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Relax!

The afternoon had a good meeting at work. Got outside and reset the cars for the lawn service (two down the center of the driveway, two on the street - so he can get the commercial mower along the edges of the drive).  Weeded the back yard for a bit - "earthing" if you're into that kind of thing. I was mostly into shoveling out broadleaf weeds down to the bottom of their root line and pulling Silver Maple seedlings out of the fence line.  Hostas on the back fence are coming back nicely even after the freeze / thaw / freeze we've been having:
With that - time to sign off for this Tuesday evening and catch part of the first episode of the season of Deadliest Catch on TV. 

Your humble scribe,
Will England

Day 21, COVID-19 Lockdown

Monday.  13th of April.  21st day of stay-home orders.  Another three-quarter of an inch of rain yesterday afternoon; an inch and a half of rain for Easter Sunday.
Rain totals for Sunday, April 12, 2020
Starting out cold and sunny today, 29 and bright! SamTheDog woke the wife and I up at 4:30 this morning - not to warn of a threat, but so he could go potty.  I was able to get back to sleep, but not the wife, so she made coffee this morning.  A nice treat to wake up with the alarm, and smell freshly brewed coffee.

One of my unusual hobbies is collecting every mix and edition of the song, 'Relax', by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.  Currently, I have 30 mixes; a couple may be mistitled duplicates.  The record label was bad about calling different mixes the same name, and the only way you can tell for sure is by looking at the original vinyl.  I don't have the original vinyl for these; most came on CD or other means and are collected up in my digital audio collection.  Today, the wife brought it up again and I went and checked  I found a new mix (Relax (Warp Mix)) - but it's unobtanium. I found a 2009 UK remix release with one copy available as a radio promo Cd-R and bid on it.  And I found a limited edition German CD-single with Relax (MCMXCIII).  Put a purchase request in on that CD.  If I get both of those discs in that will take my collection to 41 or 42 versions of 'Relax'.
All 30 mixes of 'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood I have.
German CD Single I put in to purchase:
And UK promo disc I put a (rather unfortunately high) bid on.  I will need to sell more motorcycle spares to cover this.

The seller of the German CD contacted me and we arranged payment and shipping. Impressive.  The Internet makes the world small.  I used Google Translate to (hopefully) clearly communicate with them.

(7AM,  Tuesday) Forgot to close this out last night; so, 

Warm Regards,
Your Scribe,
Will England

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter Sunday - Day 20, COVID-19 Lockdown

He Is Risen!

Today, Christians around the world celebrate the miracle of Jesus Christ rising from the dead giving hope for a new life and rebirth for all of us.  Hope is something we all need, regardless of your religious beliefs.  We know of 283 cases of COVID-19 here in Johnson County, with 12 people already passed from the disease. We are only testing those highly symptomatic, so it's quite likely to be an order of magnitude higher.

Today, I awoke at a reasonable hour - 7AM.  I have The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection tuned in on the computer to attend their 7:30 Easter service.  I would like to hear some good news today.  I actually moved yesterday, with over a mile of walking and stomping up and downstairs to set up the workspace in the bedroom.  It helps to get some sleep that way.  I'll need to find an excuse to get out today.  Photo hike perhaps?'

Overcast this morning, nothing photo-worthy.  About 3/4" rain overnight, mostly after I was long asleep.

Shortly later, the sun came out:
The wife and I watched Easter service with The Church of the Ressurection on TV, then the weather turned.  Ended up getting some pea-sized hail, and the temperature is dropping quickly!

Leaning towards a quiet afternoon reading or watching a TV series on the new monitor. Need to sort out how to use the monitor for work, without having the laptop pointing back into the absurdly messed-up side of the bedroom.

Well, we will sort that out in the fulless of time.

Closed out the night with a re-broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC, then Music from the Hearts of Space on the radio.  A good way to wrap the day.

Your humble scribe,
Will England

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Day 19, COVID-19 Lockdown

Day 19.  COVID 19.  Saturday.  The weekend.  Ah, no getting up early.  Staying home all day.  Unlike the rest of the week, where we stayed home all day.  And it's currently 5:40 AM on Saturday.  I went to bed at 8PM last night, up early; shortly after the wife went to sleep. Get coffee.  Feed dog. Feed cat. Update blog.  Check-in with Mom and see what she needs for shopping today. Supposed to clear off and be sunny mid-day.

What am I feeling?  Bored. Rundown. But, let's get some coffee and see what is next.

(9am): Back up, getting another cup of coffee.  Made some homemade disinfectant spray - 1 tablespoon bleach to 8 ounces of water in an empty Tilex bottle.  Making in small quantities means you have to re-make it every day or so, which is good; at hospitals, the recommendation is to dump out the remaining sanitizer and remake it every day.  Don't think we need to go hospital-level clean, but having a spray for the touch surfaces is nice, and you can spray down a cleaning towel and wipe off handles, knobs, other things you don't want to directly spray bleach on.

Next up - a post office run to mail a bill and an eBay sale; been using this downtime to sort and clear out excess motorcycle gear and such. Post new stuff for sale each week, make a Saturday or Monday post office run to ship.

Done with groceries for Mom and post office to ship the motorcycle gear off. I've noticed I'm a bit more prone to anger - stress possible, not eating breakfast possible too. But I made it to all of my various stops without wadding up the Subaru or losing my cool.  Even got a photo of mom's cat:

You can't have a day (or a post) on the Internet without a photo of a cat, now can you?

Got my new 4K Ultrasharp monitor in and set up a workstation/office in the bedroom.  Well, tea tables for now.  But it's tested working on all the laptops, except the Mac.  I did find the cable for the mac (Thunderbolt 2 (Mini Display Port) to Display Port), which will also work with the Dell E7450 mini laptop too surprisingly.  And with the monster monitor and 6-core super laptop in the 'office', here I sit on my ancient Mac editing a video (environmental audio really) of the thunderstorm tonight.  Sigh.  I'll get smart one of these days.
For the video (processing now) I set the stereo separation to the max for best effect in headphones; boosted the bass below 80hz about 6db to give more of an impression of the impact of the thunder.  Unfortunately, one of the thunderclaps was so loud it set off the Subaru car alarm!  I had to run inside quickly to grab the key fob and shut off the alarm on the Subaru.  Edited out that awful noise. Now we wait for the Youtube upload to complete.

And the results:

No complaints here.  9:30, time to wind down, get some reading in and off to sleep.  Be well, faithful readers, and enjoy Easter Sunday!

Your humble scribe,
Will England

Day 18, COVID-19 Lockdown

Friday.  Today is Friday, 10th of April, 2020.

I fortunately still have a job - able to work remotely - and have to present on two new projects this morning, so little updates while I get the banalities of the presentation prepared.  More later perhaps.  But first, a sunrise:

Presented my projects.  Bought some used CD's and a new Ozzy album from Vinyl Rennesaince in Downtown Overland Park.  Ripped the CD's to iTunes and FLAC.  Got bonus from Sprint. Paid off debt, set back money for emergencies / repairs. Now - dinner.

Dinner was followed by bed.  Tired.  Lack of energy.  Even forgot to login here and hit publish last night.

So, published at 0:dark early the next day,
Your scribe,

Will England

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Day 17, COVID-19 Lockdown

Thursday.  Thursday 9-April-2020.

Closed out yesterday with a headache.  I started today off with a migraine.  Hit the heavy-duty meds at 0400.  Mostly better now.  Coffee on board. Two tech specs to write today for review today. Grocery pickup this afternoon. Basically, a normal day, although the temp dropped through the floor; freeze warning tonight.  But the sun is out; obligatory morning photo:
COVID-19 reports are slowing; it's quite possible social separation is working to flatten the curve. 244 cases in Johnson County, KS as of yesterday; 10 deaths.  1046 cases state wide with 38 deaths. not good, but less damage than, say, motorcycle riding. 

Pause here while I get my morning obligations done.

Work all of a sudden got busy; had half of my open stories addressed by DEV all at once. So now I have testing to do tomorrow on old  tickets while working to develop new stories for upcoming projects.  Feast or famine!

Sunny but cool day. Had to make two runs to HyVee to get the grocery order. No complaints; got out of the house.  75% of what we ordered was in stock - good deal.  Stores are starting to return to nromal.

SamTheDog was enjoying the sun in the back yard this evening. We'll close today off with a happy photo of a happy dog.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Day 16, COVID-19 Lockdown

Wednesday.  Today is Wednesday, April 8th.  I went to bed just after midnight - spent way too much time playing with video last night - and got up shortly before 7AM.  Woke up at 0400 as usual, but managed to stay in bed and doze until just before the alarm went off.  So I'm up, got a nice shot of pre-sunrise.  Red skies at morn, Shephard take warn.  While no storms today, the winds will be up, and storms and a cold front are on their way tomorrow.  Meanwhile - the photo:

*Hot* today; 88 by the neighbor's weather sensor.  Waiting to go out till the sun drops some. I need to go up and move my mom's trash cans to the curb; get our cars re-stacked and out of the way and our trash cans put out, and I think I have a prescription waiting for me at the drugstore.  That'll wait until tomorrow morning. Social Distancing works better first thing in the morning.

Given that we're working from home full time now I broke down and ordered a very small desk (they call them 'occasional tables' that's just the right size and depth to put under the window in the bedroom, beside the bed.  I also ordered a 27" 4K monitor (Dell Ultrasharp).  They should be here in the next couple of weeks.  Let's hope I'm healthy enough to get some use out of them.

The health experts are predicting the worst of COVID-19 will be in the next two weeks; the statistics show that we'll just be hitting the 1% point; an exponential growth rate has 90% of the growth happen in the last 1% of time. So either we'll be at the tipping point in 2 weeks, or in the midst of unimaginable infection rates.  I can guaran-damn-tee you I won't be going into the office before June just on general principles. We'll just leave that there.

Currently still enjoying a headache from the weather change. 

Ignored the headache long enough to get out and use up two spindles of weed eater wire cutting proper edges into the front lawn.  I haven't had a chance to do that in a couple of years.  Very nice out; the sun was setting cool breeze picked up.  I had a good time digging in the dirt.  I came back in and went through PC Parts Picker to work up a wicked PC build using the newest 12-core AMD chip and PCIE-4 video card. Couple grand, plus sort out the KVM switching between the desktop machine and at least one laptop.

Did some more self-training on Davinci Resolve - the wife found an 8-year-old cell phone video, absurdly shakey, of the oldest daughter playing Just Dance.  Went through all the stabilization algorithms, finally had to do some minimal stabilization, crop the video to clean up where the edges showed from the stabilization, then zoom the video back to normal size so we didn't have black bars top, bottom, left and right.  Not going to post it here as it's just a family video.  Sure could have used those 12 cores though!

Now - off to get some dinner (at 10PM at night) and watch an episode of Picard.

Till tomorrow,
Your faithful scribe,

Will England

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Day 15, COVID-19 Lockdown

Tuesday.  Day 15 of the Johnson County stay at home order.  Good coffee in the coffee pot.  Overcast skies this morning, clearing and warming up to 80.  Today should be a good day. Either running some errands for mom today or bringing her along to get her out of the house.  Not getting out of the car - drive-through pharmacy, drive-through banking.   SamTheDog says 'Good Morning' on our badly in need of staining deck:
The oldest son has to work a 10-hour shift today at the sandwich shop. Minimal contact with people though.  Hoping he stays healthy.

Homelife has been about the same as always.  Given all of us continue to expose ourselves to the public for work or essential runs, we keep ourselves essentially quarantined.  Kids stay in their rooms on their computers, wife and I keep 6 or 8 feet separated, everything we touch is sanitized at least once a day.  So, it's a small, peaceful, quiet existence.  No complaints really. Wouldn't mind having a bigger flat panel TV now, but such is the way of the world.  I need to get out to the garage and freshen up the bicycle for some mandatory outside time in the morning and evening.  Physical exercise generates positive brain chemicals as well as helping to reduce stress, weight gain (ugh), and alleviate boredom.

(Whups - published too soon.  Afternoon and evening thoughts to follow.)

Random Facebook post I saw encouraged me to find the old Ravioli at Lightspeed text file from an MIT mailing list.  Bit rot had occurred, but I was able to retrieve the original from a 2009 back up at the Wayback machine.  Therefore, I present to you, 'Ravioli At Lightspeed'!  A good funny read about what happens when you accelerate a can of ravioli to near relativistic velocities.

Other news - stabilized and fixed a video from Saturday of a noisy bird and got it published.  Enjoy 24 seconds of Overland Park environmental sounds:

I did that to remember how to stabilize video, as I walked down to the end of the block to take some photos of the full moon, and stuck the Canon 90D on the tripod and vlogged the walk up and back.  That is some shaky footage; we'll see what Davinci Resolve can do with it shortly.  I did get a great shot of the moon, and more.  

Well, that took some new skills.  Photos came out fine; the video blog needed to be stabilized and then I worked with LUT's and the color wheels and curves in Resolve to punch out something visible in the clip - video in essentially pitch black does not look very good.  

Video is currently rendering then needs to be uploaded to YouTube; so while we wait I'll post the three best photos I got this evening:

I swear I'm going to get something faster; but even the latest $4000 precision workstation laptops still only have 6 cores, like my gaming laptop.  Guess I'll just get a true color monitor and hook up the gaming laptop for video editing.  I need to build a short desk for that.  Tomorrow...  Anyway, that was quite fun to do while the wife is participating in some sort of echo chamber of COVID-19 discussions that can't be posted on Youtube.  We'll just leave that there, as I'd rather not clutter up the internet with my opinions of other people.  Me?  I'm having a great time.  Busy day tomorrow with meetings and such, the temperature in the upper 80s but windy.  May still have to get the bike out for a Costco run first thing in the morning.  Canned food would be good, and I've got ROK straps in case I can score a case of paper goods.

Ah - the video is complete.  Take a look, first time doing a walk and talk video blog!

Quarter past 10 here, hours past my bedtime, but I've been having too much fun editing and blogging.  Till tomorrow,

Your humble scribe,
Will England

Monday, April 06, 2020

Day 14 - stay home orders

A grey, slow day.  Back to work virtually today. Caught up with a couple old friends via email and Facebook. No photos.  No videos. Didn't get out to pick up prescriptions or get essentials.  Tomorrow.  Should be sunshine out tomorrow. And 80 degrees.  This 'new reality' is just about like the old reality, except for being required to work from home.  No complaints from me on that. As there's nothing to report, this is

Your Scribe,
Will England
signing off for Monday.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Day 13, COVID-19 Lockdown, USA, Kansas, JoCo

Late night last night; after the yard work and pet dander vacuuming, I neglected to take enough allergy meds.  I could not get to sleep until I got up, hot shower, Benadryl. Finally down about 4AM.  SamTheDog was very patient and allowed me to sleep until 8:30 AM. Not going to be the most productive day today.

Getting spring gardening supplies lined out - rose food, weed killer, rose bush anti-fungal spray, etc. Need light fixtures and bulbs for the garage as well, and wood, screws, glue and a drill bit to flush fit screws to build a 48" x 16" shelf / desk for a home office. Hoping to get into Microcenter and grab their last Dell 4K Ultrasharp 27" monitor from 2019.  The new 2020 monitors are far more expensive - they may be marginally better quality, but I'm not doing anything that requires calibrated color; just want relatively accurate color.

Currently logged in and watching The United Methodist Church of the Ressurection online. It's important to refill the spirit and heart with good news, good words and positive thoughts, especially in this time of fear.

Pretty much a down day; staying up too late last night with allergies took the energy right out of today.  No photos, no videos.   Never made it to Ace Hardware or Microcenter for parts and pieces.  Such is the way of the world. Just feeling numb at the moment.  Early to bed tonight, so I can get up early tomorrow to prep for work meetings, planning a new shopping cart in the Sprint app, presenting about new tracking methods to our wider team.

So, till tomorrow,

your scribe,
Will England

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Day 12, COVID-19 Lockdown, USA, Kansas, JoCo

Saturday. Day 11 of the Johnson County stay at home order.  3 weeks since I've been to the office.  Or much of anywhere but the grocery and post office.  I got a delivery slot from HyVee this morning.  A full page of 'out of stock', so off to the local grocery for anything I can fill in.  CDC put out an advisory yesterday suggesting we wear masks at all times in public locations.  Granted, I was only in the car and had little human interaction, but I did want to try out the RZ Mask.
Fit under ray-ban style acrylic framed glasses is a bit dodgy.  Only of real importance if you are wearing bifocals, as it pushes the glasses up, moving your close focus area up. Yes, it's large enough to seal around the beard.

Cold - still at freezing - although supposed to warm up later.  Just another day hanging out. Perhaps I'll get some detail work done in the garage later. Or rake up the spiky balls and add them to the pit in the back yard.  For now? Lunch.

The sun has come out and it's time to enjoy some outdoor activity - or just sit on the deck and soak up some rays.
So, what did I do with the sunshine?  I raked spiky gumballs up and dumped them into the pit in the back yard.  Trash haulers are no longer picking up paper bags of compost due to the risk of contamination with COVID-19, so we have to compost our own stuff, or drive it to the dump on our own nickel.  Well, we still have a divot in the southeast corner of the yard from 2003, where the previous owner had a koi pond.  Good enough place for the spiky balls.  They don't degrade well, but they do hold air and water, so a decent base under the topsoil, once we get to that point.  I think once I rake the half-ton of sand from the winter weight in the truck and the spikey balls, we'll have a relatively level surface ready for 2 or 3 yards of topsoil, perennial plants, mulch, and a border.

Once that was done, I got the 'office' space in the bedroom (a 4' by 2' space beside the bed) detail vacuumed, and vacuumed the dog hair out of the corners of the hallway, bedroom, and vacuumed SamTheDog's bed. Got some movement in without breaking shelter in place rules.

Sunset was nice - please enjoy this cellphone photo of the sunset.
 Tonight we finally got word from youngest son what he wants for his birthday - besides socks.  (and I've gotten him all kids of cool socks, from wool to performance to basic cotton, all in his size.) He wanted a medium-duty fishing rod and reel.  Found the exact one on the Cabelas website, ordered it in.  If the lockdown is over before his birthday, we'll wrap it and give it to him then; otherwise, we'll take it down to the UPS store and have it boxed and shipped.

A good Saturday at home, getting things done.

Till tomorrow,

Your scribe,

Will England

Friday, April 03, 2020

Day 11, COVID-19 Lockdown, USA, Kansas, JoCo

Overcast and cold this morning.  The temperature took at 30-degree drop overnight and will continue to drop throughout the day.  Puts a crimp in my 'get outside and move' plans.  That, and the 6 hours of video conference meetings today.  Good day for a second cup of coffee.

No morning photo - we've all seen the backyard in the gray light of day. Nothing particularly inspirational there. The video of the thunderstorm yesterday missed all the thunder. Deleted, unused. Find something inside to shoot a 2-minute documentary on, just for fun.  Have to see if the Jabra BT headset will work for voiceover on Resolve; or use Audacity to record, then splice it in as a VO track on Resolve.   (*oh bother - now there's another thunderstorm. See if we can get anything from this one. Already raining so we have to point the camera out the open door*)

While we're letting the camera record, we made a voiceover test using the Jabra Evolve 75 headset. Take a listen:

Very sore yesterday - unsure why; joint aches, leg aches.  Most likely from the lack of activity, aging, and weather change.  Finally got to sleep around midnight.  Finished the second episode of Star Trek: Picard last night.  Rationing myself on one episode a day, since it will be a good while until the next season is out.  I do have two full seasons of Doctor Who to watch, so that's a bonus. And hundreds of books on the Kindle.  And if I skipped the sedentary activities and went straight to housework, I could get that movement in, get the place cleaned, organized, simplified and much more pleasant to be in.  Once the living room is cleared, perhaps a new big TV.  Once the bedroom / office is cleared, build a custom desk and get a 4K monitor for the laptops. Plans.  The small challenge is the donation collection sites are requesting no donations as they are on reduced staff and most of the stuff could be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  Could put the stuff with some value up on eBay and move it along that way.  Plans.  Now?  Another coffee.

(later) Freezing rain most of the day.  Deck and deck chairs are dripping ice.  A photo or 5 for your enjoyment.

(1,500 photos remaining to back up to Flickr.)
(and done!)
After work, while Flickr was uploading, I cleared the side of the bedroom.  I found a couple of pieces to sell on eBay and a small bag of trash.  I also identified that I can fit a 48" by 16" 'desk' in that spot to place laptops, monitors, keyboards, etc upon. May get around to that this weekend, but not likely - bitterly cold out (again), which will put a crimp in doing any outdoor work (sawing, gluing, screwing and so forth).

Off to eBay to sell things I cannot use and others may have use for.

Impressive what you can get done when you've been stuck at home the past 10 days.

Tomorrow I go for a grocery pickup (touch-free) - we'll see what they have in stock.  Scheduled it early so hopefully, I will get good pickings from the overnight delivery.

Until tomorrow - I'll publish this and have a good night!

- Will England

Day 10, COVID-19 Lockdown, USA, Kansas, JoCo

Good Morning!

Same today as it was yesterday. Up before the sun, logged into work.  Logged into Blogger.  T-Mobile completed the purchase of Sprint.  Sprint is no more, long live Sprint!  (Well, it'll be 18 months to three years to wind everything down on the Sprint brand, and we won't be re-badged until 2021, but...)

Today is Thursday. Today is April Two.  Today is day Ten.  Today I have Thirteen Thousand photos left to upload to Flickr.  A day of 'T's.  Alliteration is fun. Holding until I can get a sunrise photo.  Today I am still tired.  Need to move more.

Started raining here - tried to get a video (audio) of the thunder; it seemed like I set the camera up a minute too late.  I'll have to review the video to see if there's anything worth clipping out.  But the thunderstorm mostly fizzled out.  Currently a lot of chatter this morning, so putting on sound blocking 'cans isn't going to work.  Perhaps later . . .

On our cat - RandomTheCat - for years he was the cool cat.  Terrain.  Geography.  And he'd catch the odd bird in mid-flight with his jump.  He'd wander the neighborhood, coming back when he felt like it.  Did that for some 15 years.  He developed (we assume) feline diabetes last year and his kidneys are on the way out, blood sugars shot.  It's unfortunately affected his behavior as well; now he is just a regular cat, constantly fussing for food and underfoot.  Rarely does he go out, except to sit under the eaves and watch a rainstorm.  He's had a good run though, so we'll keep feeding him the premium wet food until his time comes.

Dinner tonight?  Hamburger Helper.  Haven't fixed that in about 9 months, and we have quite the stockpile to go through. Used to be a regular fixture here, so we always had 8 or 10 boxes on hand.

8,000 photos to upload to Flickr. Turns out it auto-detects albums created in Mac Photos, re-recreates the same albums on Flickr and sets them to public.  Will have to review that in the net few days.

(Published Friday AM - forgot to hit Publish last night)

- Will England

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Day 9, COVID-19 Lockdown, USA, Kansas, JoCo

6 AM.  Dog wants out.  Normal continues.  Works out fine here.  Was flat worn out yesterday, went to bed early.  So I get up early. 1-April-2000.  Day Zero of the Sprint / T-Mobile merger.  Biggest regret?  I bought a super bright T-Mobile Magenta hat to wear to the office today. No go. Working from home. Too early for a sunrise photo, so here's a photo of that hat.

(25,000 photos to upload to Flickr still.)

For work, we concluded the Sprint era and began the New T-Mobile with an all-hands remote video presentation from our leadership.  We should have New T-Mobile leaders presenting to us later in the day.  With New T-Mobile comes new tools and logins.  Slack, WebEx, etc.  Things to figure out in the future.

Today, being the first of the month brings the monthly tornado siren test.  I got lucky and captured it on the Canon.  Enjoy this video of the song of our people - the Kansas Tornado Siren:
 That concludes my lunch break - back to work to see what more new and exciting changes we have!

Enjoyed making that video - camera was cattywampus as  I  didn't grab the tripod.  Learned how to rotate and zoom in Resolve.  May start shooting 4k just to have more room to cut down to a 1080p screen.

Another all-hands meeting.  I used the time to listen to it while I got my laundry folded and put away. That was my accomplishment of the day.  Oh - and finishing Star Trek: Insurrection.  Not sure if I'm tired from lack of exercise, depressed, or feeling the initial onslaught of allergies. 

Started low-intensity workout; rail pushups.  Tomorrow, need some essentials; going to find the 20-liter pack and (hopefully) walk to the local store to get the few things we need.  Get more movement in.  Increase good brain chemicals, push out the bad ones.  I need to check the work schedule though.

Tonight?  Signing off, from day 9 of the US / Kansas / Johnson County KS lockdown.

- Will England