Since it is Sunday, and I have already had my marathon on the bike, then upgraded this computer to Debian 13 (Trixie), now it is time to tempt fate with a little god-ish story.
God woke up with an unholy hangover.
He was rubbing His temples as one of His angels knocked gently on the door.
“Enter if you must!” God shouted.
"Sorry to disturb You, Sir," the angel said hesitantly. "But I wanted to congratulate you on yesterday's creations. For the most part, they were spectacular!"
"What…?" God mumbled blearily. The angel held up a clipboard.
"This majestic creature you named ferret! It's as if a rodent became a dog!" The angel manifested one for the Lord to behold. "So cute!”
The angel disintegrated the ferret and hastily flipped the page.
"And this one was graced with the name 'kangaroo,” said the angel. “Anf look here! You put a little pocket on its belly so it could hold its baby on the outside!"
God grunted and snatched the clipboard, flipping several pages before stopping suddenly, frozen in shock.
“And what in My name do We have here...?"
The angel glanced over his shoulder. "Oh, um...."
He shuffled uncomfortably. "This was just before You passed out, and we were worried You'd be upset about its creation. But You seemed to like it! You were very adamant about naming it--"
"I WASN'T NAMING IT!" God bellowed in disgust. "I saw a beaver mating a duck and I told it to stop!!"
The angel's eyes widened. "OHH, that makes much more sense now," he said, glancing at the clipboard. "All You kept shouting was “Pulloutapuss! Pulloutapuss!”
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Since it is Sunday, and I have already had my marathon on the bike, then upgraded this computer to Debian 13 (Trixie), now it is time to tempt fate with a little god-ish story.
Saturday, October 28, 2023
Since I got my Jeep back, and since the conversation "How is Bill?" "Hungry" is pretty accurate...
A wife was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her husband.
Suddenly, her husband burst into the kitchen. "Careful," he said, "CAREFUL! Put in some more butter! Oh my gosh! You're cooking too many at once.
TOO MANY! Turn them!
TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter.
Oh my gosh!
WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER?
They're going to STICK!
Careful. CAREFUL! I said be CAREFUL!
You NEVER listen to me when you're cooking!
Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you CRAZY?
Have you LOST your mind?
Don't forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the! Salt.
USE THE SALT! THE SALT!"
The wife stared at him. "What in the world is wrong with you? You think I don't know how to fry a couple of eggs?"
The husband calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm driving."
If you don't like how that sounds, just flip around the pronouns! ;-)
Wednesday, October 25, 2023
Every time I walk out of the front door, after I gather myself and the rest together, I step into the front yard. Oh yes, we all do I suppose.
Onto the grass, look up. What do we see?
The first walk it is still decidedly dark so I look for "My" stars. There are two that I am following across the sky. They come in with the moon and work their way up high from over the beach to over the Mango tree and then to rest. I have been wondering if I am not just staring up at a constellation of satellites, but it has kept me entertained at 5:30 in the morning.
The second walk is right around sunrise. If it is timed right, it can be spectacular. This particular morning was burnished in color. Step out onto the driveway and turn toward the distantly rising sun. It was currently out in the Atlantic, maybe over the Bahamas, Mon.
Rack was raring to go for his walk, but I pulled rank so that I could frame the picture. I have others that are perfect for framing inside the house. I'm not sure if it will ever get there, but that is the intent.
On the other hand, there is my Involuntary Palm Tree. That particular tree, front and center in my garden island, was a "weed" tree that got started in a pot in back by the pool. By the time I got ready to pull the thing, it refused to be pulled. It was also about waist high, so I decided to let it stay. It's now over 20 feet tall.
It also framed the sunrise quite nicely. Along with the yard's candle on the lamppost, I spent a bit of time being chided by my faithful sidekick, Rack, The McNab SuperDog (TM) to get on our way.
Just another picture and I got what I wanted. A bit of a commune with the sunrise and we went on our way for our mile.
The other two walks are at dinner when everyone is out and about, and the final walk of the day where I get to see an occasional shooting star coming in hot from the ocean.
Don't forget to make a wish.
Sunday, October 22, 2023
Was looking at a couple of pictures of some things that "We Used To Do Back In The Day" and saw a picture of someone setting out a plate of hot dogs using white bread for the rolls. First, only if "Mom Didn't Go Shopping". And Second... toast the damn things!
Oh and they had better be Kosher Hot dogs. Those are the bomb! I don't feel so bad about eating floor sweepings if they're made with pride.
I can think of about 49 people this applies to. Give or take...
There was a gaming addict, a senator, and a show-off standing in front of the gates of heaven
The three of them then entered through the gate, following the signs, and arrived at a room where many people were queuing up. Suddenly, God appeared out of nowhere and said, 'Heaven is now overcrowded, so in order to be able to enter here, you will have to speak your true thoughts about yourselves in front of the magic mirror inside this room. If you speak the truth, you will be allowed inside. But if you lie, you will go to hell.'
After a long wait in line, the three of them finally took their turn. The gaming addict went in first and told the mirror that he believed he had truly overcome his addiction to games. Poof! The gaming addict was sent to hell. He was actually just trying to suppress his desire for gaming but hadn't really overcome it.
The senator entered next, with a smug expression on his face, and said, 'I think I'm very handsome and I do my job well.' Poof! The senator went to hell just like the gaming addict. He did a lot, but everything is so terrible.
Lastly, only the show-off remained. Without any nervousness, he walked in and shouted, 'I think...'
Poof! The show-off went straight to hell.
He had never truly known what thinking was.
Saturday, October 21, 2023
I must have had too many close calls on the bike this week when I was setting aside these little pearls. Judge? Cop Stop? Cop on Break? Maybe so. The roads are for the brave!
As a judge I was sentencing criminal defendants when I saw a vaguely familiar face. I reviewed his record and found that the man was a career criminal, except for a five-year period in which there were no convictions.
"Milton," I asked, puzzled, "how is it you were able to stay out of trouble for those five years?"
"I was in prison," he answered. "You should know that—you were the one who sent me there."
"That's not possible," I said. "I wasn't even a judge then."
"No, you weren't the judge," the defendant countered, smiling mischievously. "You were my lawyer."
A cop stops a motorist. "Sir, you were playing a trombone while driving. Do you know how dangerous that is?!"
"No, but if you hum a few bars, I'll fake it."
Two policemen go to a restaurant for lunch
Suddenly, one of the two takes his meal, crosses the street and sits down on the ground next to the road.
The other one is puzzled, but very hungry, so he finishes his lunch.
Later in the car, the curiosity gets the better of him and he asks: “Why did you cross the road and sit on the ground to eat your lunch?”
“Oh, you know I was at the dentist just this morning. I have this tooth that really hurts right here and when I asked the doctor, he said that I should eat on the other side.”
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
This really is not a story about workouts but I will admit it, I am aggressive with them.
After all, I do like the buzz of the runner's high.
Off to the big park I am going every other day. One lap is about 4.5 miles, 5 makes a good workout, 6 makes a marathon. That 5 laps around the park is 22.24 miles, at least it was today.
I stop at the car for a water stop after 3 laps. 13.33 miles, give or take a few feet. A wee bit more than a half marathon. I'll sit on the bumper of my old soldier, my 2002 Jeep Wrangler X and sip water and eat 200 calories of cookies. Up again until I am done.
But that "X" was important. It denoted that I have a manual transmission.
Except today that manual transmission quit. Rather, what happened is that the clutch went to the floor and did not engage. You need a clutch. It must engage, Number One!
Just about 2 miles south of the park is a Jeep dealer. I had to drive past it on the way home. Or rather I will finish the drive after they repair it because it got that far and I had to start the car in gear with the key.
I know. Terrible for the starter.
As I was talking to service advisor, I was asked how would I get home. I pointed to the back of the car and shrugged. "On that bike?" "Yes, it's only 6 miles. Ten Km".
They thought I was riding up Everest, or reacted like that. I had seen the course and I can do 6 miles in a half hour on a bad day.
I got the bike off the car and started riding once I got all my timers and cameras going.
You see here's the rub. It's an American City. In fact I started in Pompano Beach, Florida and drove through Fort Lauderdale, Florida to get home and both cities have won the "All American City Award" at one time or another.
What that means is bicycle trails are an after thought. The speed limit was 45 MPH/72KPH. There really is no way that 185 pound me on a 50 pound bike with all the accoutrements would be safe on the on again-off again bike trail that is on that road. I was much safer plodding along on the sidewalk. The few times I dropped to the bike lane I felt very exposed and very threatened.
I am asked by the Chief of Police here what I would do to make the roads safer for cycling. That is the point, it can't be the way it is here. I can't see how anyone would consider riding that road in anything but an emergency like it was for me today. Sure the distance was trivial, I could ride from my house to the park, do laps, ride home. The point would be that it is questionable whether I would survive more than a few trips.
Being on a 6 lane highway with high speeds would require physically separating the bike lane off. Use a curb to stop cars from going onto that lane. Upgrade sidewalks to take up that bike lane, and mark it so that you could be safe with rumble strips on the traffic side. Then perhaps lower the speed from 45 to 35.
None of that will happen. Political will is not really there for that. Widening sidewalks to sacrifice traffic lanes would be a massive fight. Distances here are way too large to say today we will live like we are in London, Manhattan, or Hong Kong. There aren't dedicated buses and bus lanes to take up the slack. The major North-South route here, Interstate 95, is a nightmare to drive. In fact one of the things you learn as a local is to avoid I-95 at all costs, and use US-1/Federal Highway and other surface routes to get to where you are going.
The very same road I used to get back from the car dealer.
So the idea of turning to that road to commute on a bike is simply put, madness. South Florida was not designed for bicycles. There are some roads that are better than others, but converting a major highway over where ingress and egress of cars is paramount is just not practice-able. There may be better places for a bike lane but commuting on US1 is probably best left to a car, even one with a bad clutch master cylinder.
My own day ended with a calculated 28.32 miles. 45.58 KM ("in new money" as the Brits might call it). A Hyper Marathon. I got home and we will leave it at that. We can improve but until I see some major improvements, I'll simply hold my tongue and hope for the best. Besides, I have to get my car back and that is another 10K up that same Federal Highway that freaked me out
If you are visiting South Florida, and need a place to cycle, this map will help. It's from the county, and has markings all over it to show you where to go. I suggest Pompano Airpark - no Gators, plenty of trail-hogs to yell at, and very few car crossings. For inline skating, try Mills Pond - much lower use road and plenty of facilities.
Keep Right Except to Pass!
On yer left!
Sunday, October 15, 2023
The Human Cannonball act will not be returning to the circus. They can’t find a man of the right caliber.
Ok, so I escaped real early today. Before dawn. Biked a marathon and now I'm back, baby! And I guess I am channeling my inner Bender too!
The loan officer
Once there was a loan officer named Patty Mack who worked at a large bank. One day, a frog hopped into the bank and asked to borrow some money. Ms. Mack thought she could get rid of him by asking for collateral.
The frog left, then a few hours later, hopped back in with a plastic figurine of Mick Jagger. "Will this work?" he asked. "It's a statue of my dad."
Ms. Mack wasn't sure what to make of this, so she brought the bank president over. "Is this sufficient for collateral?" she asked. "What is it, anyway?"
The bank president said, "it's a knick-knack, Patty Mack. Give the frog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone!"
Saturday, October 14, 2023
As a 6' 4" person alot of people would ask "wow! You're tall! Do you play basketball?" At some point I started to reply "wow... your short, do you play miniature golf?"
This kind of thing happens in IT all the time. Names can be a bit tough, and trying to force everyone into a one size fits all can lead to "hilarious" results.
A middle manager was called into HR for a harmless ice breaker.
"Do you know why you've been sent here? One of your new employees, Gina, has levied sexual harassment allegations against you". The stern HR rep asserted.
"What!? Gina!? Oh god, no this must be a mistake! I've only known her for a few days!" The manager replied perplexed and shocked.
"Well, I have her complaint right here. She says that you had her and your other new employees engage in an ice breaker that she said was inappropriate and that you made her feel uncomfortable by pressuring her to partake in it." The rep coldly continued.
"I've done this ice breaker with all my new employees for over 15 years!" The manager proclaimed.
"Why don't you tell me how this ice breaker works." The rep suggested.
"Gladly! I want all my new hires to get an idea where everyone came from. So, I have people make little nicknames for themselves; they say the abbreviation of the state they grew up in followed by their name. So, for example, I grew up in from Connecticut, so I started us off as CT-Bob!" The manager stammers as he explains to the unsatisfied HR rep.
"There was NY-Adam, NJ-Rosa, CA-Devon; you get the idea. We went around the room until we got to Gina. She said she didn't want to play and I thought she was just being shy, so I kept insisting she did. I eventually let her skip after she kept refusing, but I had no idea Gina felt uncomfortable let alone sexually harassed!" The manager desperately plead.
The HR rep looked down at the complaint again, cracked a smile, and said "Well, Bob, maybe it's because Gina grew up in Virginia."
Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Background. I'm a dual sport athlete. I use a trail camera extensively. It runs about 90 minutes on a charge and in that short time, it generates 15 GB of .MOV video. I can't really justify keeping that much data so I need a way to transcode from one format into .MKV using .h265
Note: The levels that are set by flags produce a file that "sounds good to me" without overmodulation or lowering in quality. My hearing is not perfect. Judge for yourself. The software I wrote works for me.
- Linux. Windows people this isn't for you. Mac, I don't know.
- ffmpeg. The workhorse that does the conversion. (line 16)
- mplayer. Command line mp3 player for when file is done. (line 17)
- One mp3 file. I am sure you have one somewhere.
- bash. This is where the magic happens under terminal.
- video file for conversion.
Copy this script and save it in your home directory as normalizeit.sh .
# flags in ffmpeg from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/58742765/convert-videos-from-264-to-265-hevc-with-ffmpeg;
# and https://superuser.com/questions/323119/how-can-i-normalize-audio-using-ffmpeg
# tweaks to quality and normalization are in https://ffmpeg.org/ffmpeg-filters.html#dynaudnorm
declare BEGIN=$( date '+%F_%H:%M:%S' )
echo "Input File: >"$VAR1"<";
echo "Output File: >"$VAR2"<";
echo "started at " $BEGIN;
ffmpeg -avoid_negative_ts make_zero -i "$VAR1" -filter:a "dynaudnorm=p=0.85:s=0" -c:v libx265 -vf scale=1920:1080 -vtag hvc1 "$VAR2";
mplayer play /home/bill/Bike-ring-bell.mp3;
echo "Converted " $VAR1 " to " $VAR2;
declare END=$( date '+%F_%H:%M:%S' )
echo "started at " $BEGIN;
echo " ended at " $END;
Make the script executable by graphical means or "chmod 775 ~/normalizeit.sh"
Open terminal in the directory you wish to do your work.
~/normalizeit.sh "path to the file to be converted"
Run Time Process:
The script will report back the following info:
- Input File name that normalizeit.sh is working with.
- Start time and date.
- Pause for a second.
- A lot of info that ffmpeg puts out with what it is doing to your file.
- DURATION: has the length of time your input file is in Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Fraction
- A Running Time Count will show until finished.
- The MP3 file you asked to be played in the script when done will sound off.
- Output file will be created in the directory you ran normalizeit.sh
- Converted message telling you input and output file names.
- Start and end time for the conversion.
- normalizeit.sh can be added to another bash script for added flexibility.
- Since my trail cam puts out 4 large files per workout, I simply added all four commands to a file with line 1 being #! /bin/bash to invoke the interpreter.
- It plays an MP3 file at the end of each individual conversion.
- If you are going to create a batch file to run multiple files, you can add a line to play a different file to let you know that your conversion job has ended.
- Or not. A # character in column 1 in each line will comment out the line.
- Output file name can be tailored in line 7 to not have the .h265.mkv extension if needed.
ffmpeg (line 16):
- -avoid_negative_ts - will smooth over input file problems
- make_zero - will correct the errors found to a zero in the time count in the video
- -i "$VAR1" - use input file as stored in $VAR1
- -filter a: - tells ffmpeg to process using the following filters
- dynaudnorm - Normalize sound volume
- p=0.85 - Maximum volume will be 85% to avoid distortion
- s=0 - maintain audio quality as input file and do not compress
- -c:v libx265 - create output file using h265
- -vf scale=1920:1080 - scale to a maximum video of 1920 x 1080
- vtag hvc1 "$VAR2" - create the output file named in $VAR2
Sunday, October 8, 2023
I used to have a pet cigarette because I couldn’t afford a dog. Every night I would take her out for a drag.
Cigarettes are one of the more pointless drugs if you ask me. They accelerate your heart through your life, addict you, then give you cancer.
I'll stay off the soap box here.
As an athlete, I tend to be very aware of the effects of foods and drugs on performance. I tell people that the world is not ready for me on caffeine, it will enhance my own performance on inline skates by up to a MEASURED 10%.
On that note, I'm going to the park today if I can get the cars moved around in the driveway. I have a tankard of rather excellent half-caff to burn off.
A man went to the doctor.
He said, "Doc, you gotta check my leg. Something's wrong. Just put your ear up to my thigh, you'll hear it!"
The doctor cautiously placed his ear to the man's thigh only to hear, "Gimme 20 bucks, I really need 20 bucks."
"I've never seen or heard anything like this before, how long has this been going on?" The doctor asked.
"That's nothing Doc. put your ear to my knee." The doctor put his ear to the man's knee and heard it say "Man, I really need 10 bucks, just lend me 10 bucks!!"
"Sir, I really don't know what to tell you. I've never seen anything like this." The doctor was dumbfounded.
"Wait Doc, that's not it. There's more, just put your ear up to my ankle," the man urged him.
The doctor did as the man said and was blown away to hear his ankle plead, "Please, I just need 5 bucks. Lend me 5 bucks please if you can."
"I have no idea what to tell you," the doctor said.
"There's nothing about it in my books," he said as he frantically searched all his medical reference books.
"I can make a well educated guess though. Based on life and all my previous experience I can tell you that your leg appears to be broke in three places."
Saturday, October 7, 2023
If it weren't for the Navajo Code Talkers during the Second World War, the results might be different. Navajo language is complex and not known widely outside of the Navajo community, so during the war there were soldiers from the tribe who worked in radio rooms through out to pass information. Since the Germans didn't speak Navajo, the aid of the Navajo nation was highly valuable to our efforts.
When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, they did some astronaut training on a Navajo Indian reservation.
One day, a Navajo elder and his son were herding sheep and came across the space crew. The old man, who only spoke Navajo, asked a question, which the son translated, “What are the guys in the big suits doing?”
A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon. The old man got really excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts.
Recognizing a promotional opportunity for the spin-doctors, the NASA folks found a tape recorder.
After the old man recorded his message, they asked the son to translate. He refused. So the NASA reps brought the tape to the reservation, where the rest of the tribe listened and laughed, but refused to translate the elder’s message to the moon.
Finally, NASA called in an official government translator. He reported that the moon message said: “Watch out for these guys; they’ve come to steal your land.”
Wednesday, October 4, 2023
See I have been doing endurance workouts for so long that I tell people I never get out of the "Runner's High". This morning was a 20.13 mile bike ride. Duckduckgo.com says it's 32.4 km.
When I first started working out, it was in college. My parents did not really understand why I started at all, but I did. I would get tired walking up a three block hill to the dorms. Tired was a code word for Asthma.
To this day I am convinced that my asthma was from sitting on the couch and never really exercising my lungs as well as having allergies from dust to cats to who knows what else.
Making it a point to cut out of the diet anything that was perceived to be unhealthy, I eventually got things to a science. That includes finding out what I needed to eat and drink to lose weight. 75 pounds during the four years I was at campus. Having the gym was a god send, I was able to work through some severe injuries and by the time I graduated and moved out, I was able to run 10km 3 times a week at Valley Forge National Park near my home in Pennsylvania.
If you are familiar with the place, there is this one hill I was proud of being able to run up. The trail has a 30% grade. All this from a kid who was picked last for any sport in school, and pretty much rightfully so. The Any Size Fits All approach to public education in Cherry Hill NJ meant you did what the meat of the bell curve would do whether you could do it or not.
Can you tell I hated what passed for "Gym Class" in school? Colossal waste of time for me. I asked for weightlifting, I was told to run around outside. Give up.
It really isn't "Why can't Johnny learn" it is more like "Why can't teacher teach".
So taking life into my own hands I have had a lifetime of sports that I can do "all my life". Biking was today, but I am within 500 miles of Inline Skating once around the world at the equator worth of distance. Lifetime goal of 25,000 miles.
To paraphrase Peter Griffin on Family Guy "Left Foot, Right Foot, Eventually you get somewhere".
As I was riding around town in large 4 mile circles, of course my mind drifted through all that. "On Yer Left!" I announced more than once as I rode past people and it wasn't even sunrise yet.
A beautiful experience, riding a bike through your chosen city as the sun comes up. The clouds shifting from black to grey, through the rainbow, to white. The sun painting the skies blue, the trees sway in the breezes, the parrots chattering in the trees.
Eventually people woke and went about their day and I continued riding around in large lazy circles. Pausing for a cookie on the seats in front of City Hall, I met with others. I acted like a fool dressed in technicolor polyester. Cooling down for that break, I get back out for two more large lazy circles.
You would think that you get tired but there's a dissociative aspect to being on an endurance workout. I was on the bike actively for more than an hour and a half. I knew that the body needed a rest, but I did not feel the pain or discomfort. It was more like I was observing it from the outside. When I am on the skates and get into this zone, I call it "Skate: The Movie". Literally you disconnect and watch that body of yours roll through its paces. Sure you are tired, but you don't "Feel Tired".
But you do slow down. I try to keep the speed at a good pace. The little man who announces in the headphones tells me my heart rate, and I am aware of good bad or indifferent. I perform well over what a doctor thinks is where my heart should be at for someone of "My Age". That average has been as high as 160, within the last week, when I am at the better trail, around town I have to slow down and the average today was down to 145.
Like a speedometer in traffic I guess.
While all that is going on I am thinking "What will I write" "Do I have any pictures?" and other things completely disconnected from the task at hand.
I figure that Hibiscus picture is new, I'll use that. It's pretty and I like it.
Riding through the traffic I notice that the high school drop offs have stopped, and it is late. I get a text that recycling was picked up, which is a shame since I didn't put it out.
But all said and done, it's a good day to get your butt off the couch and burn 1500 calories. A bit light, if it were on skates that would be 2100 calories - biking is easier than skating is due to mechanical advantages.
Biking is good for cross training. Inline skating will overbuild your outside fibers of your legs, biking will balance that out by building the center fibers. They do work well together, and had I known that while competitively riding 100 miles per week, I would have been better at my sport.
Oh well, Live and Learn. When all is said and done, it's time for more coffee and more flower pictures.
Sunday, October 1, 2023
Been a busy day here. I found I need some more rubber hoses for the Jeep. That "Old Car Whack A Mole" Problem. If your car is over 5 years old, check your hoses to see if they're loose or cracked.
A man with a winking problem is applying for a position as a sales representative for a large firm.
The interviewer looks over his papers and says, "This is phenomenal. You've graduated from the best schools, your recommendations are wonderful, and your experience is unparalleled. Normally, we'd hire you without a second thought. However, a sales representative has a highly visible position, and we're afraid that your constant winking will scare off potential customers. I'm sorry.... we can't hire you."
"But wait," the man says. "If I take two aspirin, I'll stop winking!"
"Really? Great! Show me!"
So the applicant reaches into his jacket pocket and begins pulling out all sorts of condoms: red condoms, blue condoms, ribbed condoms, flavored condoms; finally, at the bottom, he finds a packet of aspirin. He tears it open, swallows the pills, and stops winking.
"Well," said the interviewer, "that's all well and good, but this is a respectable company, and we will not have our employees womanizing all over the country!"
"Womanizing? What do you mean? I'm a happily married man!"
"Well then, how do you explain all these condoms?"
"Oh, that," he sighed.
"Have you ever walked into a pharmacy, winking, and asked for aspirin?"