Tag: random

Pressure Washer

We got a pressure washer a few days ago. I don’t like using herbicides on the patio (well, I don’t like using them in general), but keeping the brick free of weeds is an inundating task. We’ve got some vinyl that needs to be cleaned anyway, and found a really good deal on a 2000 psi Ryobi pressure washer.

Tested it out to see if it works well and to see how clean ‘stuff’ gets with just water. Wow! I don’t know if the patio bricks have ever been cleaned. I thought they were a darker colour, but it turns out they were just REALLY grubby. It’s a messy and time consuming process – I’m planning to wear my safety glasses when I finish it up because even low velocity sand in the eyeball … not fun. But it’s a lot of fun too (tiring and ironically dehydrating, but fun). Especially when Anya wants to play in the ricocheting water like it is a sprinkler.

Here’s the difference between clean and uncleaned brick — weeds get blasted right out, dirt is cleared off the stones and from between the bricks (certainly need to get sand, between the bricks is washed clean), and nothing was used but water. We were worried about damaging the stones, but 2000 psi didn’t break anything. There was lot of mud piling up as I moved across the patio. I ended up taking a snow shovel and moving the mud off of the patio – otherwise I’d get to a point where the splash-back was making the already cleaned bits filthy again.

Once the patio is cleaned, I want to try it out on the siding and railing vinyl. Hopefully we can clean off the green stuff without detergent too.


Amazon Acquisition Of Whole Foods

I don’t know why everyone is talking about Amazon Fresh expanding to a radius around every Whole Foods store. There’s not a lot of cost savings or synergy there. Amazon will use their own logistics solution to move thousands of orders to a Whole Foods distribution center and those orders ride on trucks already headed out to the Whole Foods stores. You will stop in after work / on the weekend and pick them up. Saves the expensive last-mile shipping bit (where Amazon currently has to pay money to Fedex or UPS to get a package from their distribution centre to your doorstep). And may increase Whole Foods grocery market share … if you are going there anyway to pick up your stuff, saves time getting your groceries too.

Bad Sales Strategy

Shortly after exacerbating tensions between Qatar and its neighboring countries, the US is selling twelve billion dollars worth of F15’s to Qatar and a hundred ten billion dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia?!? Please tell me that provoking tense geopolitical relationships is not going to be a sales strategy. Great, you keep Boeing’s assembly line open … but this is too much like privatized prisons needing a constant increase in incarcerations to increase their profits.

The Great Negotiator

Hopefully the mythos of Trump as some superior negotiator will be dispelled by, well … let’s just say he reminds me of an employee with a grotesquely inflated resume. Sure, they get the job. At some point they show up for work and display their real qualifications.

A halfway decent negotiator understands the other party’s motivations – that would take some study and some awareness of something outside of yourself. More importantly, though, a good negotiator understands the strengths and weaknesses of their position. Knows what leverage they have – which isn’t to say you cannot negotiate a good deal when you lack leverage. That’s the point of bluffing. But if you are completely unaware of your standing, you don’t have the good sense to bluff.

Let’s be honest here — someone who didn’t think health care would be so complicated, who didn’t realize China didn’t have a whole bunch of sway over North Korea (nor the impetus to use their influence to benefit the US) certainly doesn’t understand what leverage he’s got in negotiating either. And someone whose big experience with taxes is managing to lose an incredible amount of money (probably park the debt somewhere that it won’t be collected) and turn that into a tax-free decade probably isn’t going to enter into the tax reform negotiating with a whole heap of power either.

The Peril Of Hosting Your Own Services

I love hosting my own services — home automation, file shares, backups, e-mail, web servers, DNS … bit of paranoia, a bit of control freak, and a bit of pride. But every now and again, hosting my own services causes problems because, well, vendors don’t develop processes around someone with servers in their house.

We got a new cable modem. Scott went to a web page (happened to be Google) and got redirected to the TWC activation page. Went through whatever, ended up calling into support, and finally our account was sorted. Woohoo! Everything works … umm, except I cannot search Google.

Turns out TWC manages their activation redirection by serving up bogus DNS info — their server IP instead of the real one. Which then got cached on our DNS server. No idea what TTL TWC set on their bogus data, but it was more than a minute or two. Had to clear the DNS server cache before we were able to hit Google sites again.

Irony, Thy Name Is Trump

Yesterday, Trump bemoaned how terribly he is treated as President. From a man who has never encountered a superlative he didn’t incorporate into everyday speech … not surprising. But I keep thinking about how Trump is treated in comparison to Obama. Fundamentally different stories, and one narrative has yet to be proven true or false. But even if Trump’s campaign literally had nothing to do with Russian influence in the election – simply had overly-trusting people trying to do the “right thing” and ended up speaking with the wrong people (I had eight calls from the dude, the last one ten minutes long because I was telling them to STOP CALLING ME). Even if we ignore abuses of power relating to the investigation into the nothing that really happened (you get charged with a crime you didn’t commit, try intimidating witnesses because the charges scare you or the bad publicity scares you … the intimidation itself IS a crime). The basic premise behind how Republicans treated Obama is that policies he advocates are so terrible that we’d rather literally accomplish nothing in the next four years. And any cycle you spend hosting a beer summit after making a completely fair assessment of public bias and police actions (seriously, would some old white professor have the cops called if he got locked out of his fancy brownstone?) or discussing birth certificates (hey, Trump, that would be yours) is a cycle not spent advancing odious positions. Agree or disagree with the positions, it’s a decent strategy that the Republicans cultivated there. Positions switch, and beyond play acting … are you really surprised to see the opposition using the same strategy?

Difference is that Obama had a halfway decent approach to dissent — Trump makes a dramatic reality show with a cliffhanger each week (and a bit like “how did you not expect to be red herring’d out of effectiveness” … voters, how did you not expect the reality show star to create, well, THIS!?).

Russia Returns

Russia has a decent play at undermining the American government without actually colluding with Trump’s campaign. Do something that benefits any part and there is suspicion. Do something that benefits someone who has been suspected of shady dealings with your country (money laundering, loans to someone American banks consider too risky) and the suspicion is even deeper. Someone who has used obstruction and intimidation routinely in business using the same tactics in their political misadventure … not exactly shocking.

Trump’s administration seems hopelessly unable to do anything but help the Russians undermine our government. Firing Comey looks bad no matter what happened during the election. Sharing code-word classified information with the same country suspected of interfering with the election … outright silly.

An “independent” investigation or one run by the House / Senate / FBI led by whomever Trump puts in charge – there’s no good outcome.

The investigation finds nothing illegal – half the country things the investigation was tainted, but we continue down this path. Allies withhold intel because they cannot trust Trump not to use the latest intercepts to brag about how great his intel briefings are. Reasonable policies are overturned along with the unreasonable because the Executive branch leadership doesn’t understand the “benefit” part of cost/benefit analysis. Taxes are lowered and deficits explode.

The investigation finds something – half the country thinks it’s fake evidence to go along with their fake news. But something has to be done. It isn’t like there’s a do-over election clause in the Constitution (even if there were, half of the country objects to the do-over election). Trump is impeached and Pence takes over – Democrats object – we’d have almost been better off with the ignorant guy who didn’t heap religious fundamentalism on top of his deregulation, tax cuts, and environmental destruction. Trump voters who are not traditional Republicans object — they didn’t vote for Pence’s policies either. Trump is impeached and Pence goes down too — Ryan takes over. See previous.


Hack The Vote

There is a component to the ongoing story of Russian involvement in the 2016 election that seems to have gone missing from public discourse. The RNC was hacked too. Information from DNC hacks were released – embarrassing information that questioned the legitimacy of Clinton’s primary victory and that substantiated the worst view people have of her (and politicians in general). What was released from the RNC hack? Zilch.

One possibility is that the RNC hack yielded nothing embarrassing or subversive to release. But do you really think the RNC wasn’t trying to undermine Trump the same way the DNC undermined Sanders? Do you really think the entirety of the RNC is completely upfront about every facet of political discourse?

Immediately after the election, Russians were said to have a kompromat dossier on Trump. Whatever was gathered from the RNC hack is good insurance should Russia’s choice of American leaders backfire on them in some way. Personally damaging information on Trump and RNC information that compromises the integrity of the party.

Middle East Peace And Avoiding The Civil War

Donald Trump thinks the Civil War could have been avoided — well, yeah it could have been. If slave owners had voluntarily ceeded their economic advantage (i.e. capitulated to the abolitionists position)  or if the nation had continue granting individual states the “right” to allow their citizens to enslave other humans … voila, no war. But there’s no middle ground between “I can subjugate and exploit other people based on some aesthetic aspect” and “humans are humans”. His ignorant musings worry me – if for no other reason than a great deal of study has been done into the proximal and distal causes of the Civil War (i.e. the exact opposite of “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War?”).

It is simply terrifying when the same individual is willing to “do anything” to broker a peace deal in the Middle East. I guess he’ll be learning that (just like health care, free trade, and South East Asian affairs) Middle Eastern discord is harder than he thought.