October 22, 2014

Something or high water


It's been raining pretty hard today, and now the runoff is overtopping the entire culvert.

It's not supposed to be like this; there are two big concrete pipes under the culvert which are supposed to carry the water, but they've been completely clogged up for years. Unfortunately, fixing them would either require scuba gear or a back hoe.

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October 17, 2014

Phone Phollies

The main function of my phone (HTC Droid DNA) is to solve the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" problem. (And the "I've had another stroke" problem.) I'm proud to say that since my stroke I haven't lost my balance enough to fall, not even once. But I've come close a couple of times, and it's a genuine fear, especially as I'm gradually losing control over my left leg. So I keep my phone with me as I move around the apartment, to make sure that when something bad happens, then if I'm seriously hurt I can call for help. It's always within arm's reach. (Even in bed -- my stroke happened while I was asleep and another one could do the same.)

The only apps on the phone I use are the timer app (when I'm cooking) and Accuweather, neither of which are particularly power hungry. Accuweather is only supposed to phone home when I invoke it, for instance, and when it does it doesn't actually say much. The phone has a healthy battery, and I'm used to having it go from 100% charged to about 90% in one day.

Starting a couple of weeks ago, it began to drop a lot more than that. The phone is nearly two years old and maybe the battery is losing the ability to hold a charge? Well, that wouldn't change so radically so fast. So I looked at the power consumption tracking info frames, and it showed my wifi being a big power consumer, and wifi running when the phone was off. Oh, dear; have I become infected with an Android virus? Am I now part of a botnet?

Yesterday I found out the real answer: the phone popped up and said, "I've downloaded a patch; wanna install it?" I let it, so now I'm up to date, and now the power consumption is back to what I'm used to.

This is the fourth patch since I got the phone, and the other three times it asked permission before downloading, which happened immediately and only took about 20 minutes. (Then it asked permission to install, which took maybe ten more minutes.) I'm not sure why it did the download surreptitiously this time.

So now I'm running Android 4.4.2 and the latest HTC stuff, maybe. I'm grateful that Verizon is still putting out patches for my phone because I read somewhere that Verizon doesn't sell HTC phones any more. Kind of a shame.

UPDATE: I just looked at Verizon's web page, and I'm wrong. They are still selling HTC phones. What I read was that all "Droid" phones are now Motorola, and I overinterpreted that. (And anyway, Motorola Mobility, the phone group, now belongs to Google.)

So what distinguishes a "Droid" from any other kind of phone?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 07:19 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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October 15, 2014



This is Safeway's house brand of mozarella sticks. They're really good, too; 7 minutes in a 450 degree oven, and they're great!

But I like the name. Not too many house brands (or any other product, really) are willing to pun like this.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 07:27 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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October 08, 2014

Nightmare of nightmares

I was being interviewed on TV about alternate energy source...

moan, whimper... It was worse than a no-pants dream.

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October 04, 2014

Return of the beavers?


I noticed this a couple of days ago: the creek is as high as I think I've ever seen. It's not as if we've had a storm, either; it's been clear and blue for the last week

The only conclusion I can come to is that we've been recolonized by beavers, and they've built, or repaired, one of the dams.

(I'd go out and see, except that I can't any more.)

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July 03, 2014

boom bang pop-pop-pop

The neighborhood pyros are at it again, like every year. It's a day early, but who cares about that?

There's an Indian reservation about a hundred miles from here, and US26 goes right there from Portland, so there's never any problem getting fireworks if anyone really wants to.

The other side of the creek gets overgrown and by this time the grass has dried out, and it's perfect tinder for a huge blaze, so I'm always a bit afraid that someone is going to burn the neighborhood down. The complex hires someone a couple times every summer to clear it all out, and this year they did it about three weeks ago, so it's not a firetrap over there, thank goodness. Still, I'll be worried until the national celebration is finished, probably Monday.

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May 16, 2014


I guess "Selfies" are all the rage right now, and as ever I'm on the trailing edge of the fad. Below the fold are night-mare inducing pictures of me. (Gad.) more...

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May 14, 2014

Bachelor Chef -- cheddar cheese french fries


These "steak fries" come frozen in a bag. You bake them in a blazingly hot oven for 18 minutes spread out on a cookie sheet and they aren't half-bad. So afterwards, put them on the plate and spread grated cheddar cheese all over, then microwave for about a minute. Serve with Bachelor Dipping Sauce (½ ketchup, ½ mayonnaise).

They're greasy as all hell, so I eat them with a knife and fork. Yum! Probably about 9000 calories. (Like I care.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 07:51 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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May 01, 2014

Droid update

Verizon just rolled out another firmware update for my HTC Droid DNA. This is the third since I got the phone in 12/2012.

It was huge. In fact, they divided it into two pieces. The first one downloaded without my noticing and when I turned my phone on I got told the update was ready, and that it was the first of two. So I let it install, and then I downloaded the other one (which took about ten minutes through my wifi) and installed it, too, which took a hell of a long time, probably another ten minutes.

One thing that changed is that it upgraded us from Android verson 4.2.2 to version 4.4.2, which (according to Wikipedia) is the latest release.

The feature list there says "security enhancements", so I wonder if 4.2.2 had the Heartbleed bug? (Wikipedia says it was in 4.1.1.)

They also changed the user interface again, but not very radically. (Not like last time, which changed how everything looked.)

It's nice to know that HTC and Verizon still care about us, even though they don't sell this phone any more. (And I hear HTC isn't doing well these days.)

UPDATE: Oh, also the installation process ran my battery down from 99% to 93%. I guess it rewrote nearly all the firmware.

UPDATE: Verizon spearphishing! Twice now I've received text messages informing me that: "Your Verizon Wireless account has been updated. A discount will be applied to eligible lines. Please visit http://tr.im/garbage".

I followed those URLS (different each time) and it went to www.forumbeta.in to a page that looked like the Verizon login. Uh, yeah, sure I'll give you my Verizon login and password. (".in" is India.)

The first message was from "952" and the second one from "256". Right.

But I bet a lot of people have fallen for it.

I wonder why Verizon hasn't blocked that address in its firewall?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 02:47 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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April 22, 2014

From the nightmare file

I got groceries delivered today, and one thing I included was a package of bear claws. (One per breakfast along with my scrambled eggs and potatoes.)

I was looking at the ingredients and one of the last things was "locust bean gum". When I read it, though, at first it looked like "locust beam gun".

I tell you, there's the making of a B-movie horror feature there. A swarm of locusts armed with beam guns? Yikes!

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 02:30 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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