It doesn't take much to make me happy, but then it doesn't take much to annoy me either.



Porch Camera12 NOV 2017 - I bought a security camera, the Reolink Argus, for the front porch. This is an image it captured of our cleaning service arriving yesterday. No, I'm not interested in spying on cleaning people - I just want to be notified when a package has been delivered. Here's my review of the camera on Amazon:

I bought this camera for a reason with a single purpose in mind.

The purpose was to notify us when a package was left on the porch - sometimes the person delivering would ring the doorbell and sometimes they would not. We've had a problem with package thieves, so I wanted something that would send us a message in case the delivery person just left one there. The camera works very well in this case - once setup properly we get immediate phone and email notifications along with a photo of the activity. A video clip is also available to review, but for the most part I'm happy with the notifications.

NOTE: If you have a lot of activity where the camera is setup, you will receive a lot of notifications and email messages. This could range from shrubbery blowing in the wind, or animals wandering by, or even normal foot traffic. You might be able to configure an email filter to manage this, but that also runs the risk of missing something important. It's a good/bad 2-edged sword kind of thing... we're lucky to have minimal activity on our front porch - most of the time we use the garage to come and go.

The camera attaches magnetically to a hemispheric ball, allowing you to rotate about a wide range of angles - this too can be used to isolate on what you want to view instead of capturing too much activity.Reolink Argus There's also a way to mount using screws instead of the magnet, since an outdoor setting will run the risk of a thief simply snatching the camera from the magnet base. But ours is mounted about 12' off the ground in a very inconspicuous place - minimal risk in my opinion.

The reason I bought this particular camera is because it could be setup without cables. No need for power or data cables since it runs on batteries and is wireless. It's connected to our wifi network and we can view activity on our phones - there's supposed to be a way to view on a PC also and I'm sure it can be done, but cell phones work best for us. Now that I think about it, it wouldn't be too hard to keep an old phone or tablet near the front door dedicated to viewing front door activity... gonna have to play with that idea.

Setup was a little tricky and it took a bit to figure out... if it doesn't work on the first few attempts, my best advice is to factory reset and start over using the things learned on your first try.

Batteries are not your standard sizes - it uses (qty 4) CR123A batteries, which are between an AA and C size battery. I was concerned about how long they would last. But it's been 2 weeks since installation with both warm (90 deg) and cool (40 deg) weather, and the battery indicator hasn't budged from 100%. And camera software has a utility that displays battery usage each day over the previous 4 weeks, along with tips for extending the life of the batteries. So far, the biggest drain happened during setup and testing of various functions. Other than that, it's been pretty minimal.

Amazon lists these batteries, both standard and rechargeable, for about $8 a set. Worst case, if I spend $30 a year on batteries it will be worthwhile considering I can mount the camera anywhere inside or outside, as long as my wifi signal will reach.

After dark images were pretty good. We don't have a need for that because the porch light is always on at night, but here's an image taken without the light on - like I said, not bad.

Overall I'm going to consider a few other places to use these. We live on a corner lot and there's quite a bit of street activity next to the house that is totally obscured from view. Until now.


11 NOV 2017 - I liked this one... explains why taxing the rich will only go so far. Eventually you need to take a look at what the money is being spent on.


04 NOV 2017 - This is for the geeks out there... I've been hearing for a long time that Adobe Flash should not be used, that it has major security flaws, and should be uninstalled from your computer.

But at the same time if you want to access content on major websites like mlb.com or nba.com, you're out of luck because they use Flash - what the heck? Here's the scoop... I found good explanations of not only why this is happening, but also how to manage the risks involved. Check out my Adobe Flash explanation.


Steak & Potatoes29 OCT 2017 - So we BBQ'd steaks yesterday and the steaks came out good, but I have also been working on a potato recipe and this was another attempt. It is pretty simple (it would have to be with my minimal cooking skills) using baked potatoes, bacon, butter & garlic, with a cream cheese sauce.

This is my third attempt, and what I have learned so far is the bacon needs to be fully cooked before placing it in the potato... apparently 30 minutes baking at 425° is not enough to finish half cooked bacon. I know that sounds somewhat unappealing, but the original recipe did not specify any pre-cooking of the bacon at all...

The other thing I want to try is to cut the cream cheese in half... I am using a full 8 ounce bar, and to me the sauce might be just a little thick. Steak is already a thick sort of food and I imagine a thick sauce on potatoes is not very complimentary with the steaks.

Sunshine helped me by slicing the potatoes (she is like a ninja when it comes to cutting veggies and things) and helped stuff bacon in the spuds. She makes life so much easier... :-)

Oh, and here is where I found the potato recipe .


Arms21 OCT 2017 - Here's a photo of 4 extra arms that go with the new couch we bought. How did we end up with 4 extra arms?

We bought a couch on Amazon, nothing special but it needed some assembly. When we put it together we found it came with 2 left arms. So we contacted the seller and they agreed to send our missing right arm. Except they sent another left arm. We contacted them again, they apologized and sent us another left arm - this time the wrong color.

At this point I wrote up a critical review and posted it on Amazon. The couch was okay I wrote, but beware of the seller. The review was promptly rejected by Amazon - apparently you cannot be critical of sellers on Amazon reviews, only the product. If you have a problem with the seller you're supposed to contact them directly... which we had done and was why, at this point, we had 2 extra left side arms.

We contacted the seller again, this time they apologized profusely and promised a 10% refund along with our missing right arm. And promptly sent us our 3rd extra left arm.

At this point it was comical. Sunshine contacted the seller again and suggested getting a refund and sending the couch back. The person replying to our email expressed condolences and was understanding, but asked for one more chance. This time they were going to go down to the warehouse and have them send both a right and a left arm. We agreed to one more try and waited to see what would happen, even reminding them of the correct color just in case that became an issue again.

Lo and behold, we received both arms with the correct color. The missing right arm was assembled while the extra left arm was added to the pile. We now have a couch with 4 extra left arms.

Oh, and there's a littl  e story about the final delivery as well. We got home from work on Friday and as we're pulling up to the house we notice a large packaghen opens the front door to get the package and immediately sees a man walking up our driveway to the porch. As soon as he sees her he gets this guilty look on his face and asks if "John is here". She says nobody lives here by that name, and without saying anything else he turns around and gets back into the car that is waiting for him and it drives off. 'Effing package thief - if she hadn't gone to get the package when she did we'd be missing our damn right arm to the couch!

14 OCT 2017 - Cognitive bias appears to be the experts latest attempt to solve the problems of the world. Here's an article about it in the Washington Post. Wikipedia defines it as "...the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion." Essentially it is using your past experiences to judge something. Some would say this results in good decisions, some would say it results in bad.

My comments:

Cognitive biasYeah, this whole "cognitive bias" thing doesn't pass the smell test.

First of all, "bias" is a word that is too politically loaded to be useful. It automatically generates a negative impression when in fact, sometimes a bias is good. An employer wants to have a bias for hiring good employees. Students practice to develop a bias for choosing the correct answer on tests. If you are biased towards making good decisions, you will have a better chance at being successful in life.

Second, the complexity of life is not something that can be easily written down in a formula. Maybe the best way to say that is some people appear to have wisdom (the ability to correctly deploy knowledge) and some people don't. If the issues of life were as simple as writing an if/then statement, then we'd all be millionaires living on our own private islands.

I get that people have preferences and sometimes those preferences result in bad decisions. But that's because people are people, and "being human" means making mistakes. So how are government people, who would be writing the rules for this cognitive bias correction, any better at not making mistakes than non-government people? Same goes for academics. Same goes for any famous person that feels the need to lecture everyone else about what they think we should all be thinking/saying/doing.

This whole cognitive bias thing sounds like "the expert's" next big thing to solve the problems of the world. Because after 10,000 years of civilization, they stumbled upon that one simple trick that will make everything perfect.


14 OCT 2017 - My October workouts... trying to be more consistent and think that if I post this online it might motivate me to achieve my goal. Which is to workout at least 5 days a week. Right now I'm doing P90 videos, but after several consistent weeks I want to make the jump to P90X.

EDIT: This entry is dated 10/14/2017 but the image below has been updated because it's a link to my Workout page.

EDIT 2: Since it's the end of October and I'll be archiving this page, I captured this image of my final October 2017 workouts.



11 OCT 2017 - So working in Palo Alto and going into the office this morning and it smelled like a campfire. I didn't think too much about it because I don't pay attention to the news, even though I'd seen headlines about the fire in Napa. But the news always exaggerates everything so I didn't think much of it.

But leaving to go home at the end of the day it really hit me - the smoke from the Napa fires had inundated everything. Anything more than a mile away was covered with haze.

It's still to early to say what started the fire, or rather fires, as there are actually a half dozen separate fires in the Napa area. From what I've been able to gather so far, the biggest reason for so much damage is most of them started around 10pm on Sunday evening. People were caught unaware and had little time to prepare to fight the fire or even try to save their homes.

High winds and dry fuel are another factor. October is a bad time of year for fire in California since there's an abundance of dry grass from the hot summer, and it's too early for the winter rains. And the windborne embers spread the fire at a rapid pace across fields and neighborhoods.

Napa is 80 miles away from us here in south San Jose, and yet the sky is extremely hazy and the air has a strong odor of burnt wood. With the fire is less than 10% contained you can bet things will be worse over the next few days. But that's nothing compared to the people that have lost their homes. My family living in the Napa area reported in safe, but they know of many others that lost it all.

Not good.


01 OCT 2017 - Updated items...



23 SEP 2017 - One of the world's most spoiled animals... Mino the Dog, lying on not one, but two pillows, while under a blanket to keep him warm on a cool September morning.

I should have it so good...


91111 SEP 2017 - Never forget.

I think it's a shame this photo has been buried by cowards in the media that feel more safe judging their own culture than judging those responsible for this act of war.

Hiding the truth of what happened that day is a disgrace to those who lost their lives, whether as innocents going about their usual morning at the office, or as rescuers attempting the impossible. It's a disgrace to everyone that lost a loved one. It's a disgrace to every good thing this country stands for, from economic opportunities to individual freedoms, that came under attack by people who are also cowards. Tearing something down is a cheap-ass move compared to building something up.

I grabbed this picture from Instapundit, where comments on the article recount the horror of bodies hitting the ground and how even conservative estimates guess that at least 200 lost their lives this way.

I have family in NYC, several of whom worked either in the towers or in buildings nearby. They made it out, even walking the distance from Manhattan to Brooklyn because the subways were closed. They mentioned the bodies hitting the ground, but they also don't like to talk much about that day. I don't blame them.

Never forget.


07 SEP 2017 - ChipotleI donated blood yesterday and as a gesture of appreciation, the Stanford Blood Center was giving out complimentary buy-one-get-one-free cards at Chipotle. I immediately was stuck by the irony... so I guess the idea is first you donate blood, then you eat at Chipotle, and then you get sick and go to the hospital where you need a blood transfusion. Circle of life!

Sorry - couldn't resist.



03 SEP 2017Heat - Yeah, it's been a little warm around here lately. Since getting back from vacation we've had three consecutive days of triple digit temperatures, with today expected to hit 103°. The AC and fans are running constantly. Last night I enjoyed my evening whiskey and cigar at midnight to the tune of 95° with no breeze whatsoever... that's a warm night.

We were also treated to an Emergency Alert that a Heat Advisory had been issued. Everyone's cell phone started blaring with notifications from the county government to let us all know that it was hot outside (yeah, I know - Captain Obvious lives) and that a website had been setup with tips on heat safety and staying cool.

I'm sure they filled a gap that a simple web search would have overlooked. Oh, and I'm counting down the days until global warming is cited as the reason it's so hot. Never mind the historical records indicating this is pretty normal.


Hawaii01 SEP 2017 - Made it to Hawaii for a six day vacation. Me 'n Her and kids and several of her sisters were at the Maui Westin resort. Photos here, thoughts and inspirations here - but it's good to be back home, which by the way has a forecast high of 106° today. Yeah, Hawaii was hot but not that hot.



Eclipse 21 AUG 2017 - Well that was a little disappointing. At work, everyone gathered outside with special sunglasses to watch the eclipse. I didn't bother with sunglasses because if I wanted to see it that way I'd just find an image, or even video, on the Internet. What I was curious about was what it would look like without sunglasses. Would it be darker? Would you be able to see anything different just by glancing at the sun? Would anything be different?

Yeah, none of that happened... even though 75% of the sun was blocked. In fact, it was getting darker as peak eclipse approached, then we realized it was just cloud cover. Suddenly the clouds disappeared and it was a mostly normal sunny morning. Except for all the people looking at the sun with funny glasses on.

So I took this photo with my phone - no fancy filters, no funny sunglasses, and nobody was blinded.



20 AUG 2017 - SunIn honor of the eclipse tomorrow, I took a picture of the sun today. Now mind you, taking a picture of the sun is far more dangerous than taking one of an eclipse. The full sun, obviously, has a lot more light and that makes it painful to look at beyond a passing glance. The pain is sort of like a built in feature of the sun that prevents most people from ruining their eyesight by looking at it.

An eclipse, though, is dangerous primarily because there isn't as much light, causing unknowing people to think that because it doesn't hurt, it's okay to look at... big mistake. The sunlight that leaks thru just before and just following a total eclipse is more than enough to do some damage. So be careful - treat it like you would if you were looking at the sun on a normal day.

Anyway, I plan to take a photo of the eclipse tomorrow, just like I took this picture today. I'll report back with the results.



19 AUG 2017 - So I decided to start over with the website and see if I could leverage a software package that made it easier update things. I think I found it in Microsoft Expression Web 4.0. This is my second attempt at using MS Expression - the first attempt was not only expensive, but after a year or two of struggling I gave up and decided to just learn straight HTML. That worked for a while, but it also became a burden to maintain. In the end, I neglected the site for a couple of years before this current effort to get things in order.

My hobbies are listed on the left. I'll update the pages in time - it'll be a lot easier now with MS Expression. The biggest challenge will be replicating the photos from the old website. But I'll get there... it just takes a little time.

Santa Clara ValleySpeaking of photos, no website is complete without a picture. Here's one of Santa Clara Valley taken in 2008 while on a hike at Fremont Older Open Space Preserve. Green oak trees contrasting with rolling hillsides of golden meadows... this is the summertime beauty of Northern California that I've known since childhood.




 ©  Copyright 2019                    Permanent Link