No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

So, now that I’ve signed up again for legitimate domain hosting, I’m finding that my desire to have the Tally Book retain its mcg.ak4mc.us URL is no longer feasible. Blogspot won’t honor a permanent redirect (though it is respecting the Wildcard setting, so that links to individual entries using either URL will still work), and WordPress.com doesn’t even offer the option of trying to set one up.

Which means I either have to live with the Blogspot URL here, or install WordPress on my domain host and mess with databases and all that crap. Right now it’s a tossup which is the least palatable choice — though obviously my preference for less hassle makes Blogspot the odds-on favorite in the long run.

On the other hand, since I’ve lost all of my prior content forever, except for what’s here right now, messing with a database wouldn’t be but so stressful. “Oops. I have to start over from scratch again? Ain’t the first time, doubt it’ll be the last.”

The templates available at WordPress.com are unimpressive anyway, so that was a never-starter.

What’s that? Some old geezer who remembers my blogging heyday is suggesting bringing back Expression Engine? Where’s my shotgun?

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And After All That, What If It Rains?

It does rain sometimes in Wyoming. It may rain there on August 21. Or another forest fire could be sending dense smoke across the state (assuming the ones doing it now have even been put out by then).

I can certainly understand why people are going to Wyoming to view the eclipse — totality will pass directly over the part of the state where Mrs. McG and I want to move to when she retires. It’s a high desert and the presumption is that the sun’s always shining in the desert.

Well, not exactly. Even if it isn’t raining, the sky can be obscured by clouds. The anvil of a thunderstorm dumping on a mountain range 40 miles away can put a town in the valley in the shade; in fact, the town may get nothing from that storm but shade, and a spate of gusty wind as it collapses.

And then there’s the remoteness. Gawkers by the tens of thousands seem to be assuming because it’s far from big cities it must be too difficult for other people to get there. Well, you do kind of have to be wanting to go there to wind up there — but a total solar eclipse is a strong motivation, and the whole world knows it’s coming.

Places in the path of this celestial-yet-man-caused disaster have been planning for months, if not years, to deal with the once-in-a-lifetime influx of crowds, expecting to find themselves up to their armpits in people who think a flying visit to Wyoming should be no more challenging than a drive to the playground.

It’s a mercy that this eclipse will be visible across the entire width of the country; I’d hate to imagine the trouble if it were only happening in Wyoming. While I do find myself wishing we were already living there so we could see the show from our front porch, lately I’m kind of relieved we don’t. Trying to stock up ahead of the invasion would be like shopping here in the South when there’s snow in the forecast.

Furthermore, if we had land of any amount we’d need to worry about trespassers — or set up at the gates and take people’s money. If we didn’t already have a landline, we’d better get one. As it is, my idea of observing the eclipse online from here by looking in on webcams? Might not work.

Update, August 19: It’s just occurred to me that, as rough as it’s going to be for residents in many of these small towns — not only in Wyoming but across the country — it could be worse. It could be an annual event lasting a week and a half

Temporary Interruptions Are Temporary

…and I’m causing them. Please bear with us.

Update: I’ve resumed using a conventional domain host for perfectly frivolous reasons, primarily for SMTP server access. It took a while for the hosting change to propagate in Google’s DNS, and it may take a longer while in yours. Nothing else has actually moved.

‘Nother update: Maybe not so frivolous. Google’s giving itself an utterly unnecessary black eye by letting its virulent political monoculture become more than merely an object of suspicion. A lot of people there need to be slapped down. If they can fire a guy for wanting more ideological diversity, they can sure as hell punish those who actively suppress said diversity.

Opinions Are Like…

The old saying comparing opinions to a body part is wrong. It isn’t that everybody has one, it’s that everybody has an endless supply.

So, opinions are not like that body part, they’re like what comes out of it.

Making that realization, however, can suck all the gratuitous drama out of life. If you like gratuitous drama.

De Augustibus

They call this part of summer “dog days”
I wouldn’t treat a dog this way
It gets hot, muggy and miserable
People get angry and irritable
Traffic is noisy, loud and slow
Like Christmas shoppin’ season, but more so
No one wants to get anythin’ done
At least I don’t, a majority of one
Storm clouds rise high in the sky
Then say, “hell with it”, give up and die
Dogs are smart though, they’ve got it made
Sprawled out, pantin’, in the shade

Caveat Viewor

I only took nine weeks of Latin, in seventh grade…

Anyway, if you’re planning to get yourself into the path of this month’s New Moon and gawk at the dark spot where the sun was just a minute ago, you might want to double-check your eye protection. Seems some unscrupulous people are looking to cause an epidemic of eclipse-related blindness.

How can you tell if your “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers are safe? It is no longer sufficient to look for the logo of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and a label indicating that the product meets the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for filters for direct viewing of the Sun’s bright face. Why not? Because it now appears that some companies are printing the ISO logo and certification label on fake eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers made with materials that do not block enough of the Sun’s ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation to make them truly safe. Some sellers are even displaying fake test results on their websites to support their bogus claim of compliance with the ISO safety standard.

The American Astronomical Society offers a list of manufacturers it has verified as complying with the safety standard.

Even if your goggles’ manufacturer isn’t on the list though, they may still be safe.

You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the Sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the Sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal, or the filament of a bare incandescent light bulb. If you can see ordinary household light fixtures through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, it’s no good. Safe solar filters produce a view of the Sun that is comfortably bright (like the full Moon), in focus, and surrounded by dark sky. If you glance at the Sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus, and surrounded by a murky haze, it’s no good. You should contact the seller and demand a refund or credit for return of the product, then obtain a replacement from one of the sources listed on the AAS’s reputable-vendors page.

Be safe. The eclipse should be awe-inspiring, not vision-impairing. This is one case where “The goggles do nothing!” isn’t funny.

Blessed Are the Mechanically Capable

…for they get all kinds of free stuff.

The defunct ZTR mower has found a new home, having been saved from being left in the woods to rust by a handy fellow who has been fixing mechanical equipment like mowers since he was a young’un.

He got a real good idea of what needs to be done to fix it, after having attempted to tow it onto his trailer with his big Exmark ZTR and popping wheelies on the trailer ramp. The Exmark is too big for many parts of his property so he also had a little Snapper riding mower nearly as old as him, but it conked out on him so…

Anyway, whereas I thought maybe the trouble with our ZTR could have just been a drive belt somewhere, apparently the hydraulics on one side are seized up. He’ll have a fair amount of work to do before his narrow spots can be mowed again, but at least it’ll get a few more years of use.

There’s no way I would have gotten it on our trailer to take in for repair without another machine to help. He ended up having to get behind the patient and push it up with the Exmark, me tugging sideways on the front end to keep it moving straight.

Next time I see him, probably in a few months, I’ll ask after his new pet.

TAXI!

Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote this:

Those annoying little drones are about to change the way aircraft are designed and built.

Multi-rotor drones are more stable because the lift footprint (if there’s such a phrase) is wider, and when the rotors are distributed around the edges, the body interferes less with the air’s downward motion, which means the rotors provide more actual thrust.

By not wasting thrust you get more lift with shorter rotors, which require less power to rotate faster, amplifying the benefit of more rotors.

Processing power used in miniature drones allows the thrust on each rotor to be adjusted more responsively to changing conditions.

While I’m not big on the idea of pilotless passenger drones, I can see these innovations making the piloting of small aircraft simpler with computer-assist (as most of us already have to some extent in our cars), which could finally put personal VTOL flight within reach.

Today, via Drudge, I saw this:

German automobile firm Daimler and other investors have invested more than $29 million dollars (25 million euro) in aviation start-up Volocopter.

Volocopter plans to use the money to invest in further developing its electrically powered, autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft and ‘conquer’ the market for flying air taxis.

Volocopter’s ‘Volocopter 2X’ is a fully electric VTOL with 18 quiet rotors and a maximum airspeed of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour – and it can transport two passengers without a pilot.

<Heather O’Rourke> They’re here. </Heather O’Rourke>

The Volocopter is all-electric, and therefore has the same limitations as an electric car — range, and recharge time — but you have to start somewhere.

The Great Crash of 2017

Summertime in Georgia at Mustache World Headquarters
Is high time for mowin’
‘Cause the grass sure likes growin’
The field ain’t level nor flat and it’s peppered with holes
And there’s always a threat
Of thunder and wet
Tall trees tower over the edges of the open space
So when morning or evening shadows fall
It can seem like I’m hitting a wall
You’d think with so much rain I’d never have to worry about dust
But with every turn it’ll rise
Covering my hat, whiskers and eyes

Well, so between all the dust and the shadows and sun I wove
Up and down and across the field I drove
Turning a wild weed pasture into something closer to a golf course fairway
I’d turn my head when I had to go through the red clay haboob
And slow down a touch when over toward the trees I moved
There’s no regular grid on this patch, I go here, there and thataway

If you’ve never mowed grass
Here in Georgia, take a pass
If you’re squeamish about wildlife surprises
You need to let your senses do
‘Cause there’s a lot to pay attention to
But none are as important as your eyes is
More than once these last few years
I’ve often had to swerve and veer
As summer’s cycle goes through its flow and ebb
But when you’re shade and dust cloud blind
It’s hard not to accidentally find
Your face plastered with a giant spider web

It could have been a mighty crash
I could only use one hand to thrash
And fend off the critter with my spittin’, slappin’ and blowin’
It just goes to prove with real aplomb
How true is that ol’ rule of thumb
Keep your mind on what you’re doin’, and look where you’re goin’

Some parts of this narrative may be fiction. Sort of.

Memo to Self: Next time work out a rhyming scheme before you start writing the poem.