Mask that won’t fog eyeglasses

Genetically defective friends: just in time for attending all of the parties for the one-year anniversary of “14 days to flatten the curve”, I found a mask that doesn’t fog up my glasses. It is the Honeywell dual layer mask. It sits off your mouth, which makes it kind of like breathing into a paper bag for those who are hyperventilating due to excitement from anticipating the next round of science-informed executive orders from Uncle Joe and state governors.

For max virtue points, here are pictures of me using the mask on a deserted Hilton Head beach with the wind blowing at 12 knots.

Like other masks, it presents a near-field out-of-focus obstruction to visibility. So I can’t recommend it for drivers or pilots.

The new mask has been “authorized by FDA for emergency use.” Presumably the “emergency” referred to is coronapanic and not the climate change crisis or the systemic racism public health crisis. The package goes on to note that there is one pathogen that this new mask hasn’t been tested against… coronavirus (“Not Tested against COVID-19”).

Finally, can we figure out how rich/elite a person is simply by asking those who aren’t health care professionals “How many hours per day do you wear a mask?” For most of the folks I know who enjoy a comfortable income, the answer is just a few minutes per day (walking into a restaurant, zipping into CVS, etc.).

Also from Hilton Head, a “halfway house”:

On Facebook, I captioned the above with “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promised criminal justice reform. They’ve been our rulers for less than a week and look at the halfway house that is already set up and running. #MorningInAmerica”. It was not well-received.

Inside the halfway house:

Departing from Hilton Head to Gainesville:

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Best Super Bowl commercials?

What are folks’ favorite Super Bowl commercials so far? (with YouTube links if possible)

My favorite is this Jeep commercial in which Bruce Springsteen (arrested in November 2020 for “suspicion of driving while intoxicated”) says “As for freedom, it’s not the property of just the fortunate few, it belongs to us all, whoever you are, wherever you’re from.”

Residents of California and Maskachusetts certainly have the freedom to follow their respective governors’ orders to stay home, educate their children themselves (while paying taxes to fund still-closed schools), fill out mandatory travel forms telling friendly government officials where they’ve been, supply medical records to the government when asked (or pay a $7,000 per-person fine), etc. (See this ranking of states by coronapanic restrictions.)

Jeep also reminds us that these are the “ReUnited States” now that a single party controls Congress and the White House and can do whatever it wants to people who voted for the other party.

Could it be that Jeep is lobbying for a handout from the unifying Biden administration now that the Kia Telluride is on the Car and Driver 10Best list rather than a Jeep?

And what do football connoisseurs think of the game?

Some photos from Tampa… Bern’s Steakhouse (if you have a craving for an Impossible Burger within a week of eating at Bern’s, I will pay for your soy and coconut oil mishmash):

A billboard offering “wife insurance” next to an, um, gentleman’s club:

A Grumman Widgeon at Sun n Fun (April 2021, supposedly!) in nearby Lakeland (sacred to Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts):

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Social Justice Christmas Gifts

What Would Jesus Give this Christmas? Here are my ideas…

The GayBCs, a book for 4-8-year-olds.

A is for ALLY.
A friend who is there
to stand up for you
with strength, love, and care.

B is for BI.
You can shout it out loud:
“I like boys and girls,
and that makes me proud!”

C is for COMING OUT.
You’re ready to share
what you feel deep inside;
it’s okay to be scared.

Note to computer programmers: Nobody wants you to share what you feel deep inside.

The book gets 4.5 stars on Amazon.

(Should S be for Sashay if we are trying to teach away from stereotypes?)

How about this one…

H is for HATER

Who won’t buy the GayBCs

And don’t forget to “Queer Your Screen Time”. From a companion document:

What if you don’t have a 4-8-year-old who needs to learn about LGBTQIA+ terminology? From https://shop.ocasiocortez.com/ … dress like Goya Employee of the Month AOC in a $58 sweatshirt:

Miss your inexpensive and plentiful Ubers? Also from AOC, a $28 hat to demonstrate your advocacy of open borders for low-skill migrants:

You might also want this $30 T shirt from Ilhan Omar:

A $34 “Justice from Detroit to Gaza” T shirt from Rashida Tlaib:

Readers: What are your best ideas for social justice gifts?

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Geochron to liven up the dead wall space of a flat screen TV

Loyal readers (both of you?) may remember how upset I have been that the U.S. has filled up with flat-screen TVs and most of them sit dark and ugly most of the time. One dream that I’ve had for a long time is turning them into digital photo frames when not in use, but the crummy software on these TVs has so far made that impossible (I have yet to find a TV that can be programmed to turn itself on at 8:00 am every day, show slides, and turn itself off at 10 pm (functioning as a TV, of course, at some point in the middle if someone wants to watch something)).

Enter the Geochron Atlas 4K. For $450, it paints a flat-screen TV to look like the 1970s Masters of the Universe dream mechanical Geochron (still available for about $3,000). This is a great Christmas gift for the brother/sister/binary resister who has everything. The 4K Geochron (which I verified does work on our old Panasonic 1080p plasma TV). has a bunch of data overlays, e.g., weather and satellite tracks, that you would never be able to get on a mechanical Geochron.

The Atlas 4K is about the size of a stack of 5 iPhones (imagine the delight!). It has an RJ45 jack on one side for wired Internet and an HDMI male plug on the other for the image output. Power is via USB.

The remote control seems to be RF-based (at least I was able to control it through a closet door and around a corner). It would be a lot nicer if one could connect to this from a smartphone on the same WiFi network, but there is no app or provision for this. Configuration via the remote control is the most tedious part and the little remote can always be lost, run out of battery power, etc.

The company seems to be keeping up with current American obsessions. For example, the July 21, 2020 software (automatically downloaded via WiFi; see changelog) will optionally show a COVID-19 plague status overlay. (We should ask for a virtue layer, in which countries with maximum mask compliance and shutdown are highlighted in green while Sweden and South Dakota are bright red for heresy.)

Our kids went nuts for this and asked a lot of questions, so we’ve already gotten $400+ in value out of it. (It is actually $399 through December 17 with “HOL2020” according to a marketing email that I recently received.)

The world is a detailed place. If this is mounted somewhere that people can walk up to it, might we have found a great use case for an 8K tv (now only about $2,400 for 65″)?

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The ideal Christmas gift: 29 hours of Barack Obama

From a recent Costco excursion, a 29-hour 28-CD audiobook by Barack Obama:

It is impossible to imagine a better Christmas gift for your friends, who can wrap themselves in 29 hours of bliss and comfort every time something upsetting is said by Donald Trump or those Republicans who remain unkilled by COVID-19.

(What if you have neglected to defriend all Republicans? This is an even better gift for a Deplorable because Deplorables need to hear these healing messages more than the righteous.)

Separately, in terms of page count, this is the same length as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined. Homer’s epics were almost the sole basis for education for centuries. Perhaps we could design a public school curriculum where A Promised Land was the only book studied from K through 12?

An Amazon review:

Obama’s autobiography is very wordy, slow and much of it boring. And I like the guy and loved his first book. There is no real news in this autobiography which is mostly about politics and how moderate he was as president. Too long, too. Too much about his time in the Illinois legislature and the U.S Senate. The book should have been edited down. Volume One is 752 pages and ends with the killing of Osama bin Laden. Volume Two likely will be equally long.

Hallelujah! There will be four Iliads worth of content soon enough.

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What case for the iPhone 12 Pro Max and what is MagSafe useful for?

After an agonizing two-day post-order wait, an iPhone 12 Pro Max has arrived from Verizon. My main interest in this new phone is the purportedly improved camera (the super wide “0.5x” camera on the iPhone 11 Pro Max was especially bad, with terrible corner and edge sharpness).

Do any of the early adopters have a case recommendation? I’m interested in (a) protecting the camera lenses from being scratched while in my pocket, and (b) making it more secure to grip the camera (a slightly soft silicone case would therefore be good).

Finally, what is MagSafe useful for? It is supposedly a “wireless charging” system that requires connecting the phone to a wire? This could be considered an innovation in the English language, but how is it a useful innovation technologically? If I have to attach a wire with a magnetic connector to the back of the phone, can’t I just as easily attach a Lightning cable to what we would have called the “female” connector in the phone back in the pre-LGBTQIA+ days?

(I don’t have Apple DouchePods nor an Apple Watch, which I understand both interact somehow with MagSafe.)

From Union Square, last week, a toilet for the homeless with a billboard for the new $1,000+ phones in the background. Social Justice, California-style:

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KitchenAid tries to burn our house down a second time

From 2016: High-end KitchenAid range with burner stuck on.

It happened again! The burner controls fail such that the gas is stuck on. Fortunately the burner happened to be lit so the house didn’t fill up with unburned gas and explode. It is a challenge pulling the range away from the wall while the burner burns and then turning the shutoff valve. An elderly, frail, or small person would never be able to do this.

After three calls and more than 2 hours on hold, I was able to reach someone at KitchenAid customer service. They would be able to come out and begin the diagnosis process… in 17 days. Would they pay for a new gas valve? “Your range was made in 2013. It’s out of warranty.” Did they think it might be worth looking at the engineering design of the gas valve, e.g., so that it would fail in the “gas off” position rather than the “gas on” position? Wouldn’t that make it less likely to burn houses down? “Did your house actually burn down, sir?”

(If they can’t engineer gas valves that don’t fail after 3-7 years in the ON position, they could put a consumer-accessible gas shutoff valve on the front, just before all of the valves. That would be a huge safety enhancement.)

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Alexa and Google Home have proved that home automation is useless?

Ken Olsen, the founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, a pioneer in minicomputers, disparaged microprocessors for controlling houses back in 1977:

In 1977, referring to computers used in home automation at the dawn of the home computer era, Olsen is quoted as saying “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.” Olsen admitted to making the remark, even though he says his words were taken out of context and he was referring to computers set up to control houses, not PCs. According to Snopes.com, “the out-of-context misinterpretation of Olsen’s comments is considered much more amusing and entertaining than what he really meant, so that is the version that has been promulgated for decades now”.

We’ve had 43 years of progress since then. The functions that he said were useless to accomplish by touching a switch are now useless to accomplish with our voices (are we truly so fat and lazy that we can’t get off the sofa to flick a light switch and need to ask Alexa to activate a light?).

I’m still kind of an enthusiast for a computer-controlled home, especially if we could have electrochromic windows and skylights everywhere around the house and/or motorized shades and brise soleil. But even in technologically advanced societies, such as Korea and Taiwan, the typical component of a house continues to be dumb, right?

Bonus… a picture of Ken Olsen’s former house, past peak foliage:

For folks who believe in the magic of American real estate as an investment: the Zillow link above says that the house was sold in 2007 for $1.9 million and is now worth $2 million, 13 years later. Up 5 percent, right? (actually 0 percent if it costs 5 percent in real estate commissions to sell) But let’s not forget that it is attracting $28,832 per year in property tax even before the ground has been broken on the nation’s most expensive (per student) school ever constructed.) The S&P 500, by contrast, was at 1,455 at the time of the sale. On October 26, 2020 it was 3,465 (up 138 percent). Instead of requiring the payment of property tax, the S&P 500 has been paying a dividend every year during this period.

What if we adjust for inflation? The house cost $2.4 million in today’s mini dollars. So it has actually lost more than 20 percent in value when you consider the broker fees that will need to be paid to unload it. (Adding insult to injury: U.S. capital gains tax does not adjust for inflation, so the unlucky owner might have to pay capital gains tax on the increase in nominal value despite the fact that there was a loss. in real (inflation-adjusted) terms.)

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What’s a good (and slim) 55-inch TV for Chromecast?

The Samsung UN55ES8000 that was state of the art in November 2012 ($2500) has failed after perhaps 2 hours per month of use. When it can be turned on at all, the screen is filled with a random pattern. One thing that was awesome about this was the depth: just 1.2 inches. The TV is mounted in a fairly small room where one has to walk past it.

I assume that the $2500 TV is now 1080p junk and not worth repairing.

What’s a good 55-inch flat screen TV replacement? This won’t be hooked up to cable. It would be nice to have a TV with built-in Google Chromecast since that seems to be the most convenient way to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus (Hamilton every night 4-Ever!).

I am reluctant to spend big $$ again given that this thing failed after not too many hours of use.

(Should I perhaps also give a shout-out to Panasonic? A 50-inch plasma TV purchased 12 years ago and used far more than this dead Samsung is still working perfectly! It is rather thick and only 1080p resolution, but it shows no sign of flaking out. Panasonic quit the U.S. TV market in 2016.)

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Landline cordless phones with call blocking?

Given that the U.S. phone system has been taken over by spammers (unintended consequence of what we expected to be the boon of free unlimited calls), you’d think that the core feature of any landline cordless phone system would be intelligent call screening and call blocking.

Panasonic has always been my favorite brand of phone (e.g., this five-handset system), but their call blocking system seems to rely on ringing the phone, having the owner answer, and then having the user press the “Call Block” button (plus some additional keys, I think) to store the caller ID in a small local database. When spammers can generate any caller ID that they want (thank you, American phone system engineers for ignoring 40 years of public-key cryptography!), including the phone number for the local public school, what is the value in this?

Given the low cost of computing hardware, why wouldn’t cordless phones (a) connect to WiFi and then communicate amongst themselves a known list of spam caller IDs that don’t correspond to real numbers, (b) do a “hello, may I help you?” interaction with callers whose IDs are not in the contacts directory?

“AT&T” brand phones (are these actually from AT&T or is it like “GE Appliances” that are run by Haier in China?) seem to have a partial solution, which they call “Smart Call Blocking”. From the manual:

If the call is not in the directory, essentially, the caller is prompted to speak a name and type #. One issue with this is that automated calls from organizations that don’t use email, e.g., pharmacies and hospitals, won’t get through. But maybe the solution there is to always provide one’s mobile phone number to these enterprises.

Presumably it is necessary for sanity to purchase a “Connect to Cell” AT&T model so that the directory can be preloaded from one’s mobile phone instead of manually populated. Bizarrely, though, there seems to be only one AT&T model that has both the cell phone connection and the smart call blocker: DL72310 (the three-handset version).

Given that Americans have been going crazy for years being bothered by these calls, how is it possible that there are so few home defense solutions?

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