Saturday, October 8, 2011


Whew! I've been a whirlwind of activity today, and I'm bushed. The weather turned nice as promised today. The last of the snow melted and the warm-up continues apace.

Two baseball playoff series were decided today...both outcomes were satisfying.

In Japan, the Formula One cars are turning laps in anger in preperation for tomorrow's Japanese Grand Prix.

Although it 's warmed considerably since last night at this time, it's still good to snuggle up under my comforter with my big pile of pillows.

Good night, I've got a busy day ahead!

Friday, October 7, 2011


I declare tonight to be the first winter night of the 2011/2012 season.

I woke up this morning to almost four inches of snow on the front porch of the DaveCave. The few straggler flakes soon turned to drizzle. The sky started to show some blue around the noon hour, and I got out and shoveled about 2PM.

The clouds continued to lift, and by 3PM, I had the car and the pickup swept free of snow, and the driveway cleared. I even made a dash downtown for a sack of groceries.

I caught up with the cleaning...bathroom, dishes, laundry and set about making another okra dish for dinner.

I made cornbread from scratch and sauteed pork chops with okra, roasted corn, and tomatoes. I could see some fine peach and coral color in the sky through the window behind the kitchen sink. There's a lot to like about okra. The cornbread was great too...maybe it was just that little bit sweeter because the Yankees lost!

So, now I'm all cozy in the DaveCave...all the windows are closed save for one slightly ajar for some's so quiet, and I'm so comfy under the comforter with my mountain of pillows. The 11 O'Clock News promised morning temps in the 20s, the clouds have moved on so it's gonna be frigid out.

The forecast says the storm has moved on and the warming begins in the morning. There's still the matter of Indian Summer...let's hope La Niña doesn't intervene.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

That Old Familiar Tune

The alarm went off at 0600...I tuned in the Armstrong&Getty Show on the radio and promptly drifted back to sleep only to wake up for real at 0830. As I began to resolve my surroundings, I began to hear that old familiar sound of tire chain shod tires whirring down the Interstate. That warm rhythmic tune is comforting to me when there's no loose links beating on fenders or suspension parts.

I tuned in the Train Wreck News and snow levels had fallen as forecast overnight. The News was preoccupied with a workplace shooting and manhunt from the Silicon Valley, so I muted the sound and got up to take a look-see.

It was barely snowing, a few flakes were floating down, but Tuesday's rain had soaked everything thoroughly, so there wasn't much accumulation yet.

I fell back into bed, pulled up the comforter and luxuriated in the first winter snow...such as it was. Around 11AM, I noticed the silence coming from the freeway and clicked on CalTrans' chain control site...chain controls lifted. I clicked on some webcams and saw about 10 inches at the base of My Mountain!

The phone rang, it was the Boss. We caught up and he said they had 11 inches of Sierra Cement at the base level. He said our new snowcat would be delivered in November, and that they wouldn't start snowmaking until November 1st. My Old Faithful BR350 is staying for one more season, too. Everything is on course for a good season, nobody quit over the Summer, and the whole crew is returning.

We're getting together in two weeks...time for a haircut I guess...

I looked at the Reno AFD. It's gonna be showers and possible thunder showers until Thursday, and then it warms up and dries out again. We still have to tally Indian Summer before Daylight Savings Time ends!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thoughts on the Passing Scene

It's 2:18PM PDT. I just lit the pilot light on the heater. NWS Reno has issued a Winter Storm Warning for tonight into Wednesday afternoon. Snow level lowering to DaveCave level by morning.

My brief brush with our dystopian digital future has turned into a trend.  I ran into Reno Friday to pick up some specialty mechanic's tools, and provisions. On my way down the Truckee River canyon, I noticed CalTrans was busy trying to wrap up their paving project on Westbound I-80 before the rain arrives. There was a two mile long backup in the Work Zone, and I made a mental note that I might want to go home via the Mt Rose Highway.

It was a lovely day in Reno...90°F of nice desert-dry heat. I filled up at COSTCO but demurred on the warehouse visit (I don't do COSTCO on Fri/Sat/Sun) I heard a traffic bulletin about the slow going on WB 80 as I wrapped up my errands and turned south towards the Mt Rose Highway.

The desiduous trees were beginning to show their autumn color as I reached the summit. There was a heavy haze in the air (It's prescribed burn time in the Tahoe Basin) There was lots of fellow motorists up there on the mountain...that traffic bulletin I guessed. Even obscured by smoky haze, there isn't a better vista than Lake Tahoe looking south from high above Incline Village. I reached Lakeshore Drive, and headed towards Kings Beach...where I ran into another road construction project. I wasn't following close enough, so the flagger twirled the SLOW/STOP semaphore to STOP as I arrived.

I watched the eastbound traffic go by for 7:00 minutes...on the radio the news of Bank of America's new $5/month Debit Card Fee was breaking...I payed it no mind and gazed instead at the lake views and fancy boats playing on the glassy water.

Hours later I tried to logon to BofA's site to balance my checkbook, and it was unavailable. A few minutes later the website's troubles were a story on the 11 O'clock News. It was Sunday before I could do my online banking. Millions of BofA customers were logging on to file complaints about the new $60/year fees, slowing the website to a crawl. I washed my hands of the whole thing...I want perfect performance, without any drama or glitches when I'm banking online!

Tuesday I ran up against crashing websites everywhere again! About 10AM PDT Tuesday morning, I (and millions of iPhone Fans around the world) hit various tech websites to find out about Apple's latest whiz-bang gizmo. Rumor Central said the iPhone5 was going to be the greatest thing since sliced Blackberries...

Now none of these websites were streaming live video of Apple's presentation, these were LiveBlogs, where geek journalists type a sentence or two every minute or two, that are posted to the various websites for visitors to read. Very low bandwidth compared to video, and still these websites were driven to the brink...several lockups, drop-outs, and 404, my... the power of Apple's marketing is really something!

I gather the Apple Fanbois are a little crestfallen since the iPhone 5 didn't make it's long lusted for debut. Apple followed their usual MO and introduced the iPhone 4S. A new faster, dual core processor, new camera and 1080p HD video, an new operating system with 200 new features and voice control, all in cahoots with iCloud, Apple's move to cloud storage and computing.

So, what was I doing...paying attention to the iPhone hoopla? I don't need a smartphone. Well I was hoping some of the new goodies would show up in the Generation 5 iPod Touch...especially the fullHD video and the upgraded camera. No such luck...

My iPod is now two years old. It's a Gen3 without the cameras. I've got a month and a half to follow along with the early adopters who upgrade to the new iOS5 before deciding to get one on Black Friday, the only day of the year to get Apple products on sale. I've never upgraded to iOS4 because so many Apple iPod owners had tons of trouble with their upgrades...specifically their battery life dropped by thanks.

I have all the capability of the 5th Gen iPod between my 3rd Gen iPod and pocket digicam now, except for Apple's FaceTime and iCloud. I fancy FaceTime the iOS Video Chat/telephony app, but I can wait until next October in case the iPhone4S' chips, cameras, and video capabilities trickle down to the Gen6 iPod.

Ten hours later, all the Geek Websites are firing on all cylinders. I'm happy to soldier on with my bag of digital goodies until there's a pocket-sized quantum leap in Gadgetville. Technology never sleeps.

As I get ready to call it a day, I can hear the rain pelting the front door. I might be shoveling snow in the morning...that's OK...the weather is supposed to warm back up by the weekend.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Again With the Digital Ephemera...

A month ago I wrote about the perishable nature of our digital data. Maybe it's just me, but it seems like Historical Erosion has always been on the Fast Track in America...Oh sure, Citizen Preservationists are curating bits and pieces of our history from coast to coast, but American Culture hit the ground running sometime after that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, and has been running away from the history we make like it's a house on fire.

Now that American Culture increasingly happens in (or, at the least is chronicled in) the Digital Realms, and given that the pace of change multiplies exponentially in the Digital World, I found some calming hope this week in our Digital World.

Here's the back story. Back around the Fourth of July, my 16 month old DELL laptop began exhibiting some overheating symptoms. By July 11th, a file in the Master Boot Record became corrupted and the machine would log me on top a "Temporary Profile"...Not good. As sole user and administrator of this machine this would never do. Under a Temp Profile, I was denied access to all files associated with me, and any changes I made would magically disappear the next time the computer started. As the only user, ALL the files are associated with me...or rather were associated with me!

The first Temp Profile warning occurred right after I downloaded some photos from my digital camera. I freaked out and shut it down to deal with it later when I was fully rested and had nothing on the docket. The next time I fired it up, I could see those photos being uploaded to Carbonite, the online backup service. I couldn't actually see the photos, but I could see their file names on the Carbonite Dashboard as they uploaded to Carbonite's servers

I retreated to my seven year old COMPAC laptop for day to day use, and started researching a solution to get my privileges back on my own computer. Even at Microsoft's Knowledge Base, I found several close but no cigar "solutions". I waited, and continued my quest for knowledge...Like clockwork, I began to receive an email every Sunday from Carbonite, warning me that my computer HAL2010 had not contacted Carbonite's Backup Servers in a week...and some helpful hints to make it easier to restore my files.

Last Sunday, no Carbonite email. A cold chill ran down my back, and I resigned myself to my fate...I would have to reinstall Windows7 and all the drivers and programs and restore my files via Carbonite. The DELL Support FAQs advised me that I was looking at 2+ hours to start.

Two plus hours later, I was chatting online with a DELL Technical Support guy. I was once again in charge, but now I was in charge of a less than cooperative computer. 45 minutes of polite chat later, I fell back to Plan B...I started over...

Finally, I got things up and running with one exception...the computer can't find the Wireless Adapter (which is necessary to connect by WiFi to my networks at the DaveCave and the Ancestral Digs)

OK, that I can deal with. I ran an ethernet cable, and was in business.. Windows Update downloaded and installed a hundred or so Critical Updates, and restarted several times. The fan was kicking on too much for my taste so I shut 'er down, pulled the power cord and the battery pack and using a COSTCO-sized can of Dust Remover blew enough dust and lint out of the machine to grow a potato plant in!

Now that she was  running cool, I downloaded antivirus software, and the newest Mozilla Firefox browser. I surfed to, logged onto my account and began a Total Restore. I reset the power profile so the display wouldn't shut off after inactivity. The progress bar advised me that I had "Several Days" to go until I was back in the pink.

Long story short? In a little over two days time, all my files are back on my hard drive. As it turns out, I restored via the Carbonite Info Center before I reinstalled Firefox, so I had to manually reinstall my Firefox Bookmarks. Piece of cake, they're all there, all organized just the way I had 'em.

Words fail me. I haven't been so relieved and happy since I don't remember when!

So from my vantage point 24 hours removed, I can see that barring some EMP Pulse attack on the West's Digital Infrastructure, most of our Digital History Files will be fine as long as someone is looking after them. Storage hardware will evolve, operating systems will go in and out of favor, but as long as a human eye is cast towards the digital libraries, we should stay ahead of any catastrophic incompatibility losses. The $55/year I pay Carbonite is the best $55 I've ever spent.

At the risk of spraining my elbow, I'm patting myself on the back for buying the DELL from, too. COSTCO doubles the warranty when you by via their website, and I saved almost $400 in the deal. Sometime in the next week, DELL will send a geek to my place to get me all fixed up. I've got something like 120 days of warranty left, and my blood pressure is once again. low, low, low...