Archive for the 'notions' Category

Going Viral

microbes.jpgFor the past week, I have been nursing a sore throat. Yesterday, it finally got uncomfortable enough for me to seek medical help at the local hospital in the urgent care wing. I saw a doctor who examined me and concluded that I had either a bacterial or viral infection in the left pharynx area where my tonsils used to be.

The diagnosis settled on bacterial pharyngitis (possibly strep) and the doctor prescribed an antibiotic. After thirty-six hours, however, the soreness is still with me. I can eat and drink OK, but it is still a bit painful to swallow. Perhaps I have a virus infection which will simply have to run its course since the antibiotics won’t have any effect other than to wreak havoc with my digestive system since it kills the helpful digestive bacteria.

I guess that I will stay on the prescribed meds for tomorrow, but if I don’t see any significant improvement, then my discharge paperwork tells me to go back to the doctor. I will make that call tomorrow.

Animated Color Satellite Images from GOES East


When monsoon season is upon us here in the desert, it’s a good idea (and is our practice) to keep an eye on the weather. From the internet, we use both radar and satellite imagery to assess the probability and intensity of thunderstorms in our area.

We recently made the discovery that the GOES East weather satellite imagery is available in animated sequences of several regions at the GOES East Imagery website. We downloaded the image above from the Southern Rockies region in color.The GIF animation above was captured early this afternoon and shows two hours of imagery taken at five minute intervals.

As you can see, at the time, Arizona is mostly under cloud cover. You can watch as cumulus clouds form over the Rockies and other mountains. You can also see the general circulation of air masses during the sampling period.

All the information we glean from the several weather sites on-line help us to adjust the timing of our routine activities (shopping, dog-walking, etc.).

What’s for Independence Day Dinner?

Holiday Dinner

The Better Half and I enjoyed Beef Tenderloin Steaks (hers medium, mine medium rare) with Potato Salad and BBQ Beans for our Independence Day dinner this afternoon. I grilled the steaks outdoors today and didn’t mind the 103° temperature and a slight warmish breeze as I cooked them to order. I had a patriotic and ice cold bottle of Samuel Adams Summer Ale to help me cope with the desert heat.

TBH made the potato salad yesterday and had it marinating for 24 hours in the fridge. The beans, nothing extraordinary, were from a can, but quite tasty as were all the items seen in the (clickable) image above. The dogs (Scratch ‘n’ Sniff) were the happy and eager beneficiaries when we found that neither of us could eat all of our steak.

The town will be shooting off fireworks down at Sunset Park (5 miles west of us) this evening. TBH and I will watch from the courtyard and should be able to observe some of the higher rockets exploding as we have done for previous holidays.

We wish you a safe and happy Independence Day.

First 2018 Monsoons

Thunderhead Remnant

With the resumption of Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone activity, bands of moisture are now crossing into the north such as to combine with the Sonoran heated desert to produce thunderstorms. We weren’t directly under any of today’s activity, but it’s just a matter of time until we are.

The dissipating thunderhead in the (clickable) image above was east of us over the mountains. Looking at NWS Doppler radar earlier, we could see some heavy echoes but no warnings or advisories. I had a dental appointment today and was worried that the storm might catch me out and about, but that didn’t happen.

The second tropical storm in the Pacific (TS Bud) is due to send more moisture our way by the weekend. We’re ready for it and could use the rain.

Curses! We’re Credit Card Fraud Victims! Again!

curses.pngSome low-life SOBs hijacked one of the credit cards probably sometime on our return trip from K-stan. I got a call from the credit union “robot” on Sunday advising me that it was concerned about unusual charges to the card.

Sure enough, there was a fraudulent charge of about $85 on a fuel purchase from a Shell station in Las Vegas, which in one city that we give a wide berth to when passing through Nevada, due to the congestion, high crime rate and traffic. We haven’t been through there in several years.

I got in touch with the 24/7 credit card hot line and had them suspend the card. A new one is probably on the way, reaching the PO Box sometime next week. This has happened before and may happen again. It seems in the past when we’re on the road that’s the time the cards get compromised.

I filed the necessary paperwork to dispute the fraudulent charge with the credit union. It usually takes a week to get the charge removed and they will credit my account with the disputed charge sometime soon. Meanwhile, no credit card available which is no big deal since we have other ways to pay for things.

I did a little research on the topic of how to avoid being victimized in the future and found out several ways that the cards can be compromised.

  • lost cards
  • stolen cards
  • skimmed cards
  • unscrupulous employees at the point-of-sale

Using care, we can discount the first two bullets. Shame on us if we lose or allow a card to be stolen.

However, the third bullet is something for which we can watch. “Skimmers” are appliances that can be overlaid on top of card readers. There are several types out there and we’re going to be on the lookout for them henceforth. Do a web search on “credit card skimmers” to see the variety of illicit devices out there.

As for the last bullet, there isn’t much that can be done about a jerk who is willing to sell your info to fellow jerks. We will just have to use our intestinal sensitization to make judgement as to whom we entrust our private information as best as we can.

Neighboring Project Progress

Neighboring Project

The graders, bulldozers, backhoes and water trucks have all finished preparing the pads for new houses to be built on the property adjacent to ours. In the (clickable) image above, you can see the two nearest pads along with the original house on the six acre property. It is on the third lot over from us (out of ten lots total).

We still have not contacted the contractor regarding our concerns over monsoons having a possible devastating effect on what now is bare, unstabilized dirt. Since we are about fifty feet lower than the closest lot pad and the roadway fill in front of that, the runoff has nowhere to go but down to us.

I looked on the internet for solutions that will stabilize slopes like those created up there and found only a couple that might work:

  1. Plant the hillside with various native vegetation
  2. Apply shotcrete to the hillsides

The first alternative would take years to grow enough to stabilize the hillsides. The second would apply concrete through a pressure hose to coat the hillsides enough that the dirt would not run down. While both methods are expensive, the second would cost them a lot more. We will probably contact the contractor after the holiday weekend with our concerns.

Dumping Norton Antivirus

norton.pngOur subscription for Norton (Symantec) Antivirus Protection will expire in 30 days or so. Today, I saw a charge on our credit card initiated by Norton for automatic renewal of our antivirus protection package.

We have been Norton customers forever, but due to their recent rejection of the NRA, we previously decided to seek internet cyber-protection elsewhere. Besides, the renewal rate was twice what we paid for it the last time we renewed.

I got on their website with my sign-in credentials and requested a refund of the credit card charge. Of course, it wasn’t going to be that simple. They required me to engage in a “chat” with one of their operatives to process the request.

Follows an excerpt of the chat:

Rahul: May I ask why you would like a refund of your Norton product?
Minstrel: I no longer wish to do business with Norton.
Rahul: Could you please tell me the issue. So that I can solve that. We do not want to lose customers like you.
Minstrel: Norton cut its ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) of which I am a member. I will not do business with anyone who is against my right to self defense.
Rahul: I am sorry for the hassle caused to you. We are still in discussion with NRA team, so if you want to continue, you can still continue with Norton. I can definitely refund your order; however, if you like I can also offer you a 50% refund of the automatic renewal price, and you can continue to use your Norton Product for the next year. Is this something you might be interested in?
Minstrel: No I want to immediately discontinue my subscription.

The bottom line is that they will still charge my credit card for the automatic renewal but will issue a refund for the charge in 7-10 days. Good riddance to bad garbage.

We still have some other issues to resolve with companies that have shown their anti-2A bias. Again, I won’t hesitate to let them know why they are losing our business. I hope y’all are doing the same.

Who, other than Norton, provides good internet security for our Windows 7 and 10 machines? Any suggestions will be helpful.

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