Yo y el primero de Julio

A lot of emotion, confusion and, at least one Oxford coma.

Its been raining. The weeds must be thriving out there in the damp. The First day of July and winter is just around the corner. I always feel we’re coasting from this point. That’s Maine weather, seasonal to perfection. It will get hot and cool off. If we are lucky the late Summer and Fall are perfect outside. Temps moderate, everything moderate. Maybe even the ticks. Better to respect nature, love? ya, with reservations. Don’t have much choice. This thin band of air wrapped around the Earth is it. A biosphere rife with creatures and little bugs to attack them. Dwelling on the littlest members of the complement on board spaceship Earth? Yes, Me ah culpa. That senior shopper hour the local WalMart has, is that so they can zero in on us, the most vulnerable? Get us all in one herd and send the nasty little droplets our way. Why aren’t these people wearing masks! It is difficult to draw cartoon people with masks on. Expression poses enough difficulty to the drawing challenged, como yo, without covering the face. Is that why Donald refuses to wear his mask in public? If we can’t see his mouth moving how would we know he was spouting bilge? Next time I go somewhere I need to wear a mask, I’m adding a rubber band. Something to pull the two loops together at the back of my head. Its just a theory now but with testing I think the mask will hold its position better. Its got to face the onslaught of little droplets of spittle spewing from all the people waiting their opportunity to get me!

As in many science fiction movies you can’t tell who the zombies are you have to assume its anyone…..

I bet we will laugh about this later….We’ll get a real chuckle at how silly we were to get shook up by this. Oh my, just another false alarm. A fantasy put into our minds by the media. War of the Worlds with a modern twist. But hey, in that story the virus was the hero! Ya, it was the virus that killed all the Martians. But you didn’t know that. Doesn’t matter it was fiction written more than a century ago. Want me to be serious?…no you don’t. I don’t want to. OK, maybe a little….this is going to get much worse. What is the point of being serious beyond joining the dooms day folks. Not in their shelter, you’ll get buck-shot in the butt if you try getting into their luxurious underground shelter. No its time to make a more modest shelter. Could be worse, could be fall out. Maybe there will be. I have prepped for that. Well at least to the extent of building Geiger counters. The CV19 detector is what we really need. We will have them some day. An app and cheap tiny bit of hardware. Not now though. We enter the pandemic with the tools we have not the ones we need. I’ve been thinking in my delirium about the research being done. The research that will be done, to rid us of this natural enemy. Double edged sword isn’t it. Learning to sequence and synthesize and then design complex organics can and no doubt will take two paths. One to save lives and one, as a weapon to kill people. That always seems to happen with man’s science, both paths are taken. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Too many bad actors are seeing what this natural virus is doing and they’re impressed. The conspiracy crowd say this is a Chinese weapon. I doubt that – not like plagues out of Asia are anything new. That part of the world has been the source from way back in human history. So its always been just a matter of when. You invest in a bio lab or a cascade of centrifuges. Why does human genius take destructive paths? Good luck to all.

Equilibrium Fractured

Interesting times eh?

May you live in interesting times” well, we got our wish. My instinct somehow is to think its one crisis at a time. It isn’t of course. The crises don’t have a coordinating committee assigning different pains in the ass at different times to different creatures. No, they pile on. Can’t blame the virus for social instability, we know it was there. The equilibrium which included institutional racism is fractured. But it is the majority society that has failed to insist on a less military style of police. But its all one system. Society and the police are not isolated. The society has ask, is asking, for the police they have. The alternative will be armed citizens committees, vigilantes, gangs to put it bluntly. Society wants and will get something for their fear. Defund the police? How are you going to rebuild a force from the raw material of a violent society? Change the society? Might take a while. So its fix this police mind set or deal with thousands of vigilante groups. Fixing what we got is a better way to go. Is society going to suddenly get warm and fuzzy because the cops are nicer? No, they’re a violent bunch… and that’s the law abiding citizen. There is a huge criminal class, its business as usual for them. Corrupt as the cops can be its nothing to policing by gangs and the bribes they’d get. Don’t re invent the wheel. More numbness I’m sorry to say. The goal of social justice is noble and overdue. But care is needed in tactics. Think ahead a little. Now, back to the virus (which is already in progress). There is another virus. In China and in pigs. We used to say, big deal, it’ll never come here. Don’t say that anymore. The various little bugs bugging us like the nomad existence just as we do. They like to see the world and meet new hosts. Hello, I’m a novel virus, I’ve just arrived and I’d like to take over lots of cells in your body so I can copy myself. An airBnB guest of the worst kind. They fly the same jets we do to their overseas destinations….but they never go home. They move in and make us their home. I just suspect there is a third form of disaster heading this way. Remember the three horsemen of the Apocalypse? Three plus a spare. So whats the third bit of bad news. Rock from space? or, or that star that is flickering like its about to nova. Its a big one. Maybe too far away to do much to us. Bright light in sky is emblematic for big changes coming. It’s in the book. Reality doesn’t need to follow scripts but if I was advising I’d say, throw in the meteor or comet or let Betelgeuse shoot X-Rays at us. I’d advise the movie’s director to do that. Its not over the top!, I’d say, the public has been nursed on disaster movies for half a century, they expect it. Or we could turn this into a religious flick, like the ten commandments, Bright light in the sky, Plague, rumors of war, actual war, rioting in the streets, and a toilet paper shortage. I had no idea that in 1973 when a gas shortage hit the USA there was a “run” on toilet paper ! Just like in March. Nobody’s figured out why this happens! Where are the conspiracy people? There must be interests manipulating things to sell TP but their secret is being well kept…I haven’t heard a thing about that….mysterious! Que the Theremin.

July’s leading edge

I don’t really have a graphics tablet, just an old school paper clip board and scanner

Haven’t posted anything here for a week plus. My mood shifts in normal times. I might feel like putting together content one day and not the next. I have other activities so its not like I am fetal lining in a spider hole. That’s too much like being inturd, a shitty feeling… but do we have much choice?. I wrote my daughter that this was just the beginning. She is in Florida where the government gave Trump’s magical thinking a trial. They opened up and surprise surprise, the virus spread. Less testing Trump says, would lower the number. He goes to the heart of the problem with that. Number too high, re-election in jeopardy, reduce testing, problem solved. If this were a baseball game the USA would be in the first half of the first inning. They go nine innings (for you in another country). Will I ever get over my astonishment at how NUMB so many of fellow citizens are? Never never never submitting to reality! The spread of a novel virus in a herd of humans is like gravity, part of the natural world. Falling from a thousand feet up is easy….in the first few seconds. In that time you can convince yourself falling is over rated as a danger. Newton called in to testify about the effects of gravity and how it works gets booed off the stage. False physics. Things will be fine….the falling will slow and end….its all a plot to make the president look bad. Then it will be Newton’s fault, he created the universal law of gravitation, blame him. We are still falling. Well, blame the Italians! that’s where the leaning tower is. That’s where they dropped unequal masses and observed them reaching the ground at the same time. Later it was done on the moon with a feather and something denser. They hit the dust together. Meanwhile we are still falling, accelerating in fact. No parachute. Don’t believe in them. Anyway Obama’s fault, he took all the parachutes when he left the WH. The ground is still a long ways down. Plenty of time to place the blame and twaddle as our acceleration grows. Thud…..we landed. Now the survey says if a vacine were available people here would not be inoculated in sufficient numbers to confer herd immunity. The antivax people would campaign against it. Too damn many people in the world, thats the root of the problem…solution under way.

WHO gnu there would be another flu? I thought it would be a meteor or comet or super nova nearby

There is a time when its appropriate to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater. The admonition against doing so assumes there really isn’t a fire. There is a fire. TOO DAMN many humans on the planet! I will do my part in reducing the population by entering the big sleep in the not too distant future…not just now, if it can be avoided, but in a couple of years. But seriously folks, epidemics are nature’s way of saying…there are too damn many of you creatures. It has worked in managing things for a billion years plus. I imagine these viral particles are very ancient. Good luck to everyone.

Juneteenth+1 in Tulsa

What could go wrong?

The idiot in chief says he made Juneteenth famous. He did put a spot light on it. We’ve seen enough of his clown act to know there are several angles on what he does. He claims ignorance of the significance of the 19th of June for black citizens. Declaring his ignorance, which I guess we are expected to translate to “innocence”, is one of his defense strategies. Considering the level of racism in his base setting the 19th in Tulsa was not a coincidence. Having tossed a bone to his supporters he delayed his rally a day. In normal times this would have been plenty. But, these are not normal times….or maybe they are. Peace, love and brotherhood are abnormal. So into the mix goes the virus. Its not a political beast, the virus. Its just “bad news in a protein package”. It doesn’t vote. But when something challenges Donald the clown, it becomes political to him, and his highly suggestible followers. Masks will be available in the venue but not required. Social distance? not mandated, not expected. Why would a true believer hurl an insult at the great one by wearing a mask. Even a maga mask (do they exist?). Refraining from breathing in another’s exhalation borders on treason. The Catholics have transubstantiation and the Trumpistas have their bit of magic too. Hindus in India believe the River Ganges, an open sewer, is pure and even medicinal. Ah, the power of faith. Blind faith, unquestioned belief, that’s what Donald hopes will give him a second term. It might. Voting for the lesser evil objectively would put Biden in office. But like the three monkeys, Trumpistas hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil…regarding Trump anyway. When he looses it will because enough of them just stayed home. They’ll need an excuse, Trumpistas can’t change their minds about Donald. Its unthinkable, its an admission of error. Don sets a fine example of never taking responsibility and never never admitting error. The supply of others to blame is too great to ever need admitting error in one’s self. Even the virus, by way of the Democrats, can shoulder blame.

Someone who visited this site told me they thought it was a bit, political….WTF does that mean. Its in bad taste to comment I guess. Having an opinion. Expressing it. Putting forward a thought. This trend in society has greased the path for the clown’s first term. What will they tell their great grand children about this time? “I was good and didn’t say anything bad about anyone, I didn’t criticize, I talked about something else” How polite.

Or, if the pendulum of socially acceptable behavior shifts in that direction in 30 years we might hear. “Oh, I was on the ramparts, I manned the barricades, I was a medic in a flying squad” They in fact did none of that but if it becomes the fashion to have done it, the are IN. Just a little revision of history. Enough already.

Micro code as therapy

A small package with a tiny silicon chip and enough complexity to occupy a senior nerd

Not yet being compost my grey matter likes exercise. The website offers some. There’s the drawing. The writing, both prose and the other stuff. Projects in the back yard. I finally put that kiwi plant into weed Valhalla. My resolve to build the tiny house weakens, flickers then flares up again. As the old saying goes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is almost three quarters of a century old. Then there is the microcomputer, A tiny chip of silicon mounted to a little metal frame and molded into a small plastic package. There are eight connections, power takes two, the inputs and outputs use the other six. That part is pretty simple. The complexity, the challenge to understanding, is etched in the thin bit of Monocrystalline silicon. Not pure silicon, rather a perfectly controlled impure form, a semiconductor. Even in small quantity the microcomputer costs about a dollar. For that buck one gets a machine that can execute a couple million instructions per second. There are thirty odd instructions to learn, not that many. In fact this type of machine is known for not having too many instructions. Some microcomputers have a hundred, several hundred with possible all possible variations.

This is where the microcode meets the physical world. Where lights blink and resistors resist.

Being retro by nature I of course use a computer language so dated I doubt its taught anymore, except as an ancient artifact, like Latin among human language. The list of discarded computer languages is long and growing. This language is called Assembly. It scripts what I want the machine to do. The script is called a source file. A program called, the “Assembler”, assembles the source file into a form that can be “flashed” into the microcomputer’s memory. Same sort of flash memory in a thumb drive, but far fewer bytes. Thousands of vs billions. It might take me an hour to write a section of code that will run in a millisecond. The Assembler’s biggest job is pointing out my errors. There is a saying, “no code has no error”, true of released code, code out in the world. It is especially true of fresh code. So writing software code even at this simple “bit banging” level involves finding and fixing errors in the script. Compared to human language assembly is very simple. Some really smart people are working to write software that can parse human written text and find errors. But, human language though finite, is orders of magnitude more involved. Not finding any errors doesn’t mean microcode will do what was intended. As with a page of text in English, it might be grammatically correct with nothing misspelled – yet be pure meaningless drivel. My favorite in Assembly is goto $. It means, goto the address you are at now and execute the instruction you find there. That instruction is the one it just carried out. The little computer doesn’t get frustrated even though it is chasing its own tail. But this line of code is useful as a safety device, a trap. Areas of memory that should never be accessed can be filled with such traps. If the machine gets confused and points to a trap, like an errant fly on sticky paper, its held there, it can’t stumble elsewhere and do damage.

Its just another crossword puzzle, solitary card game, collection of mugs or stamps or butterflies. Its something to do. Even before the Corona thing eliminated my useless trips as diversion, I messed with the microcomputers. Distraction. Solutions to a high class problem, not needing to struggle to survive.

An afternoon at Laite Beach

Digital OIL scene of Laite Beach in Maine, USA

Invisible cats ran over the water
Visible dogs ran across the sand
The cats left cat’s paw dimpled water
The dogs left sandy divots on the strand

Elbows to picnic table, binoculars to eye.
A sailor in sailboat long hauling home I spy
Profligate jib and mainsail full and spilling air  
That’s a wealthy sailor, one having wind to spare

The day suddenly cooling, moms gather families
Tugging at moorings boats napping in a breeze
And from a spot above them I form lines of poetry
A poem made of boats, a harbor, and the open sea

The beach face empty now, the hill I sit on nearly so
But I can’t leave just yet, with two more lines to go
Oh well, there may be other days to visit Laite Beach
Before my boat rides a pale horse on life’s longest reach

Lost in a blue wood

Walking in the blue wood in a blue mood

The blue is a mood. The woods are their greenest at this time of year. Its raining now. The plants drinking their fill of this freshest of water. I too collect rain. Two barrels hold between them a hundred gallons. Today’s sprinkle will top them off. We pull water from underground for domestic use. The rain barrels are reserves, they water the domestic plants. Most of the green on the property is wild, un-managed and natural. Its rain collection system predates mine by half a billion years, or so I’m told.

The past winter and spring were my first in the north in a decade. For ten years I managed to avoid winter. This due to a snowbird phase I passed thru. In truth I would return to southern Ecuador this fall…if I could. CV-19 needs to run most of its course before that’s possible. By good fortune, last year, I managed to sell everything I’d accumulated in Ecuador. No real estate, I always rented. I was ahead of the curve in hauling anchor, leaving the valley of longevity. When I flew north a year ago June I’d lost a tether. I can’t travel now, but that’s good. Last year I’d decided it was time to sit in one spot for a while.

A view across a cane field between my rented house and the river. Vilcabamba is south, over the first ridge.

It is inconvenient to be nostalgic. Maybe the year I’ve been away is enough for the memories to play a lament. The refrain for a lost moment. All life is moments impossible to retrieve. Spent in one place they seem constant, they’re not. We change. The seasons come and go. It feels better to imagine constancy in our surroundings and our relationships. To try and stretch them between the horizons of past and future.

The town of Vilcabamba, nestled in the valley of Longevity, the sacred valley under Mandango

I keep up with the news. My friends down there email now and then. The virus has disrupted life in Ecuador as it has everywhere. The horrid headlines are from Guayaquil and other large cities. I am told the capital of the province of Loja (low hah) which is also called Loja, is opening up. Its been really tough on the poor in the urban areas. They have in the past made enough to get by, just. In the country the bounty of the land means all can eat. Keeping a roof over one’s head isn’t difficult. The weather is mild, a continuous spring. Most of the expats, the retired and the adventurers, stay isolated in their valleys and on their mountain sides. This lock down doesn’t affect them much. For the contingent of alcoholics that used to drape themselves over chairs on the sidewalk there’s a big change. The bars are closed. I’m sure they still drink. There are small stills here and there so no development can force sobriety. The bar/restaurant I hung out at is getting hassled by the local authorities. They objected most to the professional drinkers. Though never great in number, they were conspicuous. I’d sit in with the various groups but I wasn’t even a potential “borrocho”. Its a calling. I would nurse a beer as I drew the scene. Great place for sketching and photography. Tourists from everywhere appeared daily. They would climb Mandango and frequent the same watering holes we did. After a week they’d be off to Machu Picchu or the Galapagos. I imagine they are now sitting at home remembering all that, as I am. We wonder when things will be again as they were. But, things can never be the same can they?

Will the tourists come?

The harbor of the town of Camden, Maine, USA

Whats the difference between a busy harbor and a “tight” harbor? The old timer remembers a harbor busy with lobster and fishing boats. With small freighters carrying all manner of commerce. This beautiful and picturesque harbor is at the center of the town of Camden in the state of Maine. In recent decades, instead of busy, the harbor has been tight with the mega yachts and lesser craft (those under $5 million) of the rich. Its packed but not with commerce. The well healed visitors ladle plenty of money into the regional economy. The boats might need work. The galleys need provisioning. Has this all been upended by the Corona virus? Will the rich and not so rich be visiting this year?Some will, no doubt. But everyone who depends on this trade is holding their breath, waiting to see. Hotels and motels and restaurants are still shut. The folks with mega yachts don’t need a hotel but in years past they dined well and left big tips. The day trippers and weekenders from “away” have been the major source of the annual summer flood of income. Many college students came up to Maine in the summer to work their butts off. They could earn quite a nest egg toward tuition in just three months. Will a slow down keep them away. News suggests the pandemic is growing severe in much of the world. Famine induced by lock-down gives a hobson’s choice to people and governments. Die from a virus or from starvation. Here in the better off USA we stumble toward herd immunity the hard way, the ancient and traditional way, by crowding together. Anyone left standing (we fervently hope) is immune. I will not be entering that lottery. My appointment with the grim reaper is way off…I hope.