Really irritating

I can’t find any way to update my blogroll, a widget in the sidebar. I can figure out how to edit some of its properties, but not line-by-line.

I was trying to add a blogroll to my other blog and got strange results. It was easy to add the widget itself to the sidebar, but the contents were some bizarre auto-generated stuff that was nonsense for me (how can a blog I’ve never even visited be one of my favorites).

I suppose I shouldn’t complain, after all I get this blog space for free, but the new editor for wordpress.com SUCKS big time. I’ve hated it since they introduced it but now I can’t even get done what I need to do (not just inconvenient or hard to use, impossible).

More and more, of course, I find this on software. I do date back from pioneering dates of software development and if I may say so I was rather good at it (I have the paychecks to prove that). But I suppose I got too used to having to do thinks “manually”. So this dumbed-down UI in WordPress, for the current kiddies who grew up with phones, is absurdly hard to use – it’s basically their way or the highway. It’s a little bit like people who stick like manual transmission (both my cars are automatic and clever, but there are always so things they don’t do right that I could do with manual override) or like real cameras (to me phones are convenient but they’ll never replace my Nikon).

And so now WordPress is trying to “help” but making it either utterly impossible or bizarrely obscure how to modify my content. Thanks a lot.

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Utterly don’t care

It’s been a long time since I made a post. I actually regret not writing more but somehow writing never rises to the top of my priorities, which is a joke, as my priorities, retired and with little to do, are almost empty.

But here it is, another New Year. I’m not sure whether I’ve had 74 or 75 of these, but in my memory there are not so many. But once upon a time I might have cared, have somehow thought there was some significance. But then, of course, I thought there was significance to lots of things that today seem almost irrelevant.

So what to say, about the new 2022, 76 years since my birth. Well, I forecast nothing that big will happen. We’re all just waiting for Trump to take over again in 2024 and eliminate the great American experiment, an end to democracy, which many never thought would even last this long. Big surprise, but in detail, amazing that evangelical xtians of ridiculous perversion of anything approximately Christianity would be willing to destroy, not just the USA, but also their faith, just for power. But of course we know how much xtians loved the Spanish Inquisition. Power, especially gruesome torture of others is fundamental to their mythology.

But then to at last we saw the total hypocrisy of the rich, the so-called “job creators”. Sheesh, you’d think that people who are rich wouldn’t mind spending a tiny bit on taxes, but then, to them, taxes are evil and should be avoided at all costs. Those with money are superior to the rest of us and should never be brought down into the mud with us.

What a horrible world we have. Every now and then there are bright lights, all on the side of enlightenment and truth, certainly not the mainstream of humanity, which is dark and evil and greedy and petty. Of course the rich love to proclaim the wonderfulness of some others, but that’s only their bought-and-paid-for lackeys.

So climate change will get worse, authoritarian ideas will steadily overcome the optimistic notions of democracy, and a new dark ages will descend.

So what’s to be happy about that it’s a New Year.

And for me, since all politics is local, sheesh, did anything, anything at all, get better in 2021, or any time since coming here. I have few memories of other New Year’s Eve, but I do remember the big one, turning to 2000. Alone, in a self-imposed exile in a cell in my basement, cutting apart novels with my hunting knife of long ago when I used it for backpacking, while you know who was out celebrating with you know who. How stupid.

So in 2021 geodashing ended. It makes sense, but like losing all the members of my family and now an orphan it’s just one more thing that ended. Early in my life, options expanded. Once freed of the dependency of a child and able to make decisions, lots of things were possible – try this or that. Not everything worked out, but there were always new options to try. Now, of course, as my life comes to an end, options decline.

As a strange xmas present I was given a GoPro camera. It is an amazing piece of technology, but so what! When I first had a real job and some real income my first luxury purchase was a Nikon F. I even got the black body so I could pretend I was a big time photographer. I had a dark room, kinda (a mess in my bathroom, later in my apartment’s sauna) but the tiny camera I just got is amazing. I looked, recently, at a professional grade Nikon, since it’s getting hard to find real cameras (due to the crap from phones) and it was about $5000. Strangely, even though that sounds like a lot, that’s about what I paid for my first Nikon. But cameras are partly physics (the actual optics) and now the digital processing. Most of my life I was a champion of the digital stuff, but somehow I now find it disappointing. The GoPro (or my newest phone’s camera) are amazing – the physics is inferior, but the digital part is through the roof, even hard to imagine these capabilities back in 1968. But this camera is strangely no longer something that makes sense to me. No, it’s not I’m an old fart who can’t understand technology – I dreamed of these ideas for decades before they became real. NO, it’s what the GoPro (or phone cameras) are for – to proclaim one’s wonderfulness, skiing or surfing, or whatever other SELF preoccupation might be hot on social media. I wanted to take photos as art, yes, to be popular, and therefore an act of ego, BUT, this nonsense of SELF, that whatever one can post to social media defines oneself.

But, then, of course, what am I doing here. Why am I writing this, not just privately, but nominally in a public forum where a few people might read the first bit (sorry, Dr. Reader, to anyone who makes it this far, I apologize to you, since I know most readers who will just take a glance, read for only 10-30 seconds, and I’m way past that here).

So, yes, here is 2022. So what!

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Three Quarters of a Century

I’m mostly just doing this post to keep up some activity in this blog so WordPress doesn’t think it’s been abandoned and then they’d delete it. I’ve always wondered how long this blog will last, or perhaps how long wordpress.com will last. I’m discovering more and more things just disappear one day.

So why this title? Well, it’s how long I’ve been breathing air. Yet another birthday, nothing terribly significant about this one. And certainly no big deal. Didn’t even do the usual of going out to dinner because mi esposa didn’t want to be exposed to COVID, even though we’re both vaccinated.

We did just return from a short and bit strange trip to visit my brother-in-law, now three years after my sister died and so he’s turning into a hermit (even his dog died so he’s really alone). Too much death and mine will be next as the last survivor of my family.

Gloomy, huh! But not to worry. Maybe tomorrow my appointment with a new cardiologist might reveal a successful treatment for my recently acquired very high blood pressure which thus far is resistant to the first line treatments.

If anyone reading this also read much earlier posts you’ll recall many boring posts about my weight loss plan. Unfortunately the worry about Trump’s coup and COVID turned me into a couch potato and so most of the flab is back and that is undoubtedly the cause of the elevated BP (had it before weight loss, but the loss fixed all my need for meds and I stopped treatment, then didn’t see my regular doc for two years (combination of COVID, he only took emergencies) and then his retirement). Anyway while I don’t mind dying I don’t want a stroke and turning into a vegetable who can’t take of myself.

Hopefully all the bad news of the past five years will dissipate and something more positive will come my way.

I certainly hope I don’t follow my mom’s example and make it to a century. Seeing the last ten years of her life I know how much I’d hate that, plus 15 years from now a lot of things are going to be much worse (the continuing Republican coup will have succeeded and millions will be dying when they bankrupt the US to avoid having to pay back the actual cash they stole from Medicare and Social Security trust funds, plus smoke inhalation from all the fires resulting from climate change will be tough on old lungs, plus the insane anti-rationality (so far beyond just anti-science) will be killing us with yet more plagues.

Oh joy, never thought it would end like this.

Posted in the end | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Google Maps Photos – revisited

As I mentioned in this post I did get seduced into seeking obscure Internet fame by uploading 136 of photos I had to tie to locations on Google Maps. And I obsessed about this a while trying to understand why some get lots of views and others don’t.

The most views of a recent picture, under map search term “Sunken Gardens, Lincoln, NE” has 2655 views in just over three days of being online. It’s weird too because this location has a ton of other photos, some almost the same as mine, so why all the views?

And then another, initially off to a slow start, under search term “Wabash Trace Nature Trail, Iowa” has 1681, but three others under same location have: 62, 102, 91, 236. The photos are all about the same so why is one getting so many more views? And there are a lot of photos here.

Right after my first set of about 30 photos uploaded, two jumped up quickly: under search “Honky Tonk Central, Nashville” on a Friday night it was collecting views like crazy, which I eventually decided was just a night time crowd searching for a bar to go to and stumbling on my photo, but then under search term “Great Wall of China” four of my photos collected almost a thousand hits in two days and almost no more since then. And, duh, Great Wall of China has a ton of photos uploaded, so why do mine get noticed (my hypothesis is maybe Google randomizes which photos it shows where there are a lot and it’s easy to imagine such a well known site as the Great Wall gets a ton of traffic, so even just a tiny portion is flowing to me.

But, I learned that my long-time photo with the most views, 237,205 owes that to a simple thing. This is under “Del’s Garden Center, Spencer Iowa” and there are very few photos so my photo was the first, and now appears on the initial search result page (you don’t even have to look at photos to see it). So, really I’m guessing that’s about 40,000 people/year just searching for nearby garden centers and all of them see my photo (it’s quite ordinary, just a shot of the front of the building).

So I developed two assumptions: 1) upload photos to popular location where lots of people will be searching and you’ll get some fraction of that traffic, or, 2) upload to some location where there are few, or even better, no photos, and then your photo will become the one for that location.

So I searched around and found such a location, search term “Cowboy Pass Wabash Trace Iowa”. I’ve walked on that rails-to-trail conversion (popular with lots of people) and stopped at a new bench with a view of the Keg Creek valley and had a photo (the bench is just before going through Cowboy Pass, a deep cut for the old-timer train that went through there). So if you try, the search result will show my photo (blah, but nicer IRL) or clicking on photos will, so even though this is a obscure place, I “own” it and now, in just three days has 49 views (hard to imagine what people are searching for that this is one of the results). I have the same photo under the Wabash Trace Nature Trail (uploaded about a week earlier) and that photo has 62 views (the least of the five photos I put there, remember the most viewed has 1681).

And so as yesterday we headed off to get a dashpoint (our adventure described in this post) the dashpoint was located in a relatively unknown Nebraska State Recreation Area, so search term “Stagecoach Lake Nebraska” (Nebraska is needed as a similarly named lake in Colorado comes up first in search results). I uploaded two photos (note, the second one, not the first one that I wanted, became the photo for the location), so again you get my (blah, again) photo and now I’ve gotten 233 (for one returned in search) and 212 (for one you’d have to click photos to see). That’s fairly amazing, for such an obscure location, in just two days (maybe people are searching for “fishing near Lincoln” which produces a lot more hits than searching for this particular lake).

So, I’d suggest there is a new fun thing you could try. There are a lot of POIs (points of interest, named locations) you can find on Google Maps (just look anywhere and zoom in and lots will show up) and I found a lot of these don’t have any photos at all. So therefore take a photo (like while doing something silly looking for random GPS locations, otherwise known as geodashing) and take some quick photos and upload them on Google Maps. It appears even highly unknown locations get views (and the unknown ones you’ll get to “claim” with your photos if it’s first).

In trying to figure out how all this works I read a story that popped up in my searches, that someone in South Korea got the first photo posted for a popular amusement park and so had gotten 33,000,000 views! How many centuries of blogging would that take.

And while it’s a pain to get the data (have to get counts for every photos individually, my recent uploads, and sum the counts) my estimate is that I somewhere in the range of 6-8000 in just the 8 days since I discovered this little time-waster.

So I’ll show you one of my favorites, which has 862 views at Google and you can try to guess where you might find it (hint, somewhere in North Dakota)

Little Missouri River
Posted in comment, dailyphoto, musing | 1 Comment

Never assume you don’t need your map

Once while geodashing, I set out about 2 miles overland in rugged country in Wyoming with ONLY my handheld GPS, no map, no compass. When I used to backpack, way before GPS even existed, I was always careful to “stay found” (IOW, don’t get lost). Not hard, just have to pay attention. Naturally in that Wyoming geodash, despite my outdoor experience, I totally trusted technology and might have paid for that mistake with my life. I even knew my handheld GPS had some intermittent failures. Sure enough, after paying no attention to my surrounding my handheld failed and no amount of coaxing was enough to bring it back to life.

At first I panicked a bit and almost started running back toward where I thought my car might be. Then reason got to me: a) I’m at least 8000′ and clearly having some trouble breathing, b) I’m old enough unusual exertion could cause heart attack, and, c) panic running is unlikely to get me back. So I sat down, slowed my breathing, checked what few things I had in my backpack, but mostly tried to recall anything to use as landmarks to get back. I’m in fairly heavy woods so there is no major geological feature to use as point of reference and I hadn’t been following any water feature, IOW, pretty nondescript area. But I had noticed some areas of fallen trees (mostly to carefully cross than and not fall and get gored by a snag).

So I managed to get most of the way back, but where I thought I should have reached a crude double-track, nothing. Kinda in desperation I got out my GPS and banged it enough (as much from anger as thinking this fixes electronics) and fortunately it worked again, albeit only briefly, but enough to get oriented. I’d made to within about 300m of my car, but in the woods I didn’t actually see the car until literally I almost stumbled into it.

So lesson learned. A couple of years later in the same national forest I’m once again going overland to find a dashpoint. This time, plenty of survival stuff in my backpack, two spare GPS, spare batteries, a real compass. Plus at the time I didn’t have phone (useless in wilderness anyway) I did have my iPod. So I did an old backpacking trip, every ten minutes or so (or if you changed direction or terrain) look backwards (things always look different returning than going) and make some notes (used to be pencil and pad, here I trusted taking photos with the iPod). So this trip, no problem, didn’t get lost. However I had forgotten about altitude (now I’m well over 8000′ and this is my first night since leaving 1200′ at home). Oops, altitude sickness got me and while I knew exactly where to go and how far it was I literally thought I’d have to crawl. I was taking 10 steps and resting a minute to have the strength to keep going.

But once again made it.

So, yesterday, with far less risk, we went to get an easy dashpoint near Lincoln. We’ve only driven to Lincoln about 50 times on about every route you can use to get there. Not likely to get lost. During this whole COVID time we haven’t made any overnight trips and so our geodashing has diminished to about 1.3 DPs/month and so yesterday was our nominal nearest and “easy” DP. Nonetheless I’d done some map study and knew it was impossible to approach from the north or south (around here there is some kind of road on a one-mile square grid BUT some roads are abandoned (and in mud not suitable even for our AWD) or bridges washed out); in this case the man-made lake of a state recreation area had flooded out the section line roads north and south. But it looked simple to approach from the east.

Not very far south in Lincoln we hit our first trouble, some obnoxious traffic combined with minor road construction slowing us down. Of course our dashboard GPS insisted on going directions we knew were bad, so we made some ground-truth alterations to the route. Later, it got worse, complete road closures. Not to worry, just go over on a parallel section line road, mostly likely gravel (or worse, just dirt, impassable yesterday). BUT, not all roads go through very far. So soon we’re wandering way off course, with the dashpoint GPS still giving us useless directions.

Finally after all that we’re where we need to be to approach the DP from the east. Well, and good, except the big gap in the road where it had flooded out (we’d already ignored several road closed signs, local traffic only, and declared ourselves to be local). So about another twenty minutes of trying each section line road, being blocked, finally get far enough south, and then west to approach our needed location from the west. Once again, on the last possible way to get where we’re going we encounter road closed sign, local only, which again we took and, at last found our way.

Getting back to Lincoln to use the food gift cards at a particular restaurant was another thrill as we hit yet more closed roads. Without a map we didn’t realize we’d gotten far enough west we were only two miles from a major highway that we’d been on many times and could have to Lincoln much quicker than the route we choose.

So, once again, not having a map, AND trusting technology, numerous difficulties came our way. Dashboard GPS’s (or far worse any phone maps, which wouldn’t even work out of signal range where we were) are too simple. Their directions are fine — UNTIL they aren’t. Even phone maps often don’t deal with road closures properly, but at least they have some real-time data. And despite our familiarity with the Lincoln area, even out in dirt road farm country, our expectation of a simple road grid was false.

Before we left home we debated bringing our laptop we’ve used for years, with Delorme Street Atlas software and the Delorme GPS. Unfortunately Garmin bought Delorme and discontinued the product. Not having annual map updates is only a minor problem out here where new roads are rare, but while we can use the 2011 version of the maps, we’ve broken two of the GPS (poorly designed for car usage, the connectors were poorly stress-relieved and easy to break, we’re down to our last up-to-date one and then go to a really old (without WAAS, or fast startup). Someday we won’t have that kind of mapping.

Now there are a ton of reasons why Delorme on a laptop is so much better than a dashboard Garmin or an Android phone. First, just sheer screen size and Delorme had much smarter zoom, so it’s possible to use old fashioned paper map reading skills to get a “big picture” view of where you are, where you want to be and possible ways to get there. Second, you can override the automatic routing when you know something (like closed roads) the dumbed-down GPS devices don’t know and thus get a new routing instead of having to guess with the GPS telling you you’re going the wrong way. And, third, sometimes algorithmic routing just doesn’t work and the totally old-fashioned Mark IV eyeball plus some common sense is the way to go.

So while yesterday’s adventure wasn’t potentially life threatening, as my two trips to Wyoming were, we wasted a lot of time and had anything gone wrong with the car (known to happen) would have had a lot of difficulty ever getting things straightened out (BTW, long ago we learned geodashing goes too far off the territory where AAA will rescue you, or that you can even call them given a lot of area out here still has no reception).

Technology is great, but you have to use it wisely.

Posted in musing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

No haré mi tarea y tú no puedes obligarme

In case your Spanish is even worse than mine, I hope this means: I’m not going to do my homework and you can’t make me. The ‘you’ in this case is actually me, not you, Dear Reader.

As you can see from my recent burst of posts after a long spell of very few is something has triggered me to return to other activities. This is due to my rebelling against the regimentation I’ve imposed on myself to almost entirely do just one thing, i.e. study Spanish.

Long ago I learned, to discipline myself, to keep a lot of data about any activity I’m doing and create all sorts of little goals as an incentive. I really started this while I was training for a triathlon (tinman, never dreamed of doing IronMan), where I couldn’t even swim and hated running. No one, with about a year to train, was I going to make it without real discipline and a steady improvement in my strength. So I had data and I had charts and graphs and I’d find some obscure statistic (hit peak laps n days in a row) that I could improve.

All this worked and I did my triathlon (also same tactic for doing century bikeride) and if any of you have followed my posts way back, about six years, I did same thing for losing weight and doing a “virtual” Camino de Santiago and so forth.

Without keeping data I fall into laziness and soon abandon my efforts altogether so this has been useful in my entire life for accomplishing (to me) difficult goals that require a sustained effort over a long period.

But now it has become drudgery, and, as I say, I’m rebelling against it.

I actually had no intention of learning Spanish. I’d tried before and failed. I’m not good at languages. And, frankly, while they say it’s easy to learn languages when your young (there appears to be sound science supporting that idea), conversely it’s fairly hard to learn a language when you’re old.

But I was fascinated with the idea of building a translation tool for menus in Spain. Now that Google Translate exists, plus some excellent online Spanish dictionaries, plus the ability to search for obscure terms that aren’t even in dictionaries, I found decoding menus just a fun puzzle to solve. Each decoded menu became part of a corpus I could then feed to an analysis program (still not written) mirroring the technique Google uses to train its translators.

All this was going well and I have another blog with lots of posts decoding menus in Spain, also now inactive for quite some time. But I let my sister, who was also trying to learn Spanish convince me I had to learn the language before I’d be able to read menus. She’s wrong for various reasons I’ll explain in some future post.

But I bought into it and just happened to stumble onto Duolingo where I now have a 882 streak. At first Duo was just fun (some actual progress in learning simple Spanish) but then, of course, I spoiled it, by turning it into a project. These days, as I do lessons, I have two applications I wrote, two spreadsheets and three documents I update. IOW, I spend more time collecting data about my study than doing my study.

But this helps. On days I feel like doing something else, I look at my graphs, and, go, oh no, I’ll fall behind. All this regimentation of my study HAS worked to keep it going. If this doesn’t make much sense perhaps these graphs will explain it:

This is my main graph. Each little gold dot is each day’s data and the green line is a 9 day moving average of those (smooths out the minor variations so trends are easier to spot). For a while what is now a red curve it was a linear regression line, that depressingly showed what an eyeball glance shows, that my daily study was declining. Note, I said I had a 882 streak in Duo, so this graph only covers the most recent 680 days after I started keeping all this data. I converted the regression line to a 2nd order polynomial because when I hit bottom (around 550) I kicked myself to work harder (also changed my study technique a bit) and so I began to rebound from a slump. This is clear demonstration of the benefit of this approach, the graph gets really disappointing and I gain a new burst of determination to do better.

But you can see it didn’t last. As I was climbing for all-time low to a reasonable level (about day 650) I was getting really tired of this. Then, as usual, stuff came up in my life that triggered a few bad daily results and the curve (green line) peaked and began to decline. And once a decline sets in it’s easy to make excuses the next day not to worry about, either maintaining the planned pace or really hard to make up for lost recent lessons. So a slump gets worse.

Recently I just couldn’t avoid it. As we emerge from the COVID cocoon there are other things to do. Doing Spanish (and little else, as my hours per day of exercise also slumped) was fine during COVID confinement, but now, esp. in spring, it’s hard to keep up such a limited life.

But I admit two other issues: 1) I’ve fairly definitely convinced myself learning Spanish is only a bit helpful for reading menus in Spain (talking to the waiter, yes, that’s good), and, 2) the prospect of a trip to a hispanohablante country is shrinking. Eventually I not only realized that doing the Camino at 75YO is almost impossible for me, I also did a lot of research, reading many peoples’ logs of their journey, and, deciding, nope, I’m too lazy and spoiled by decent overnight accommodations to want to sleep in bunkhouses and eat mostly bad food.

So then I decided Ecuador would be cool. I’ve never been south of the equator and there I could stand with one foot on either side. Then I did my usual map and streetview study, deciding Quito rivals San Francisco for steep hills, BUT, it’s also above 7000′ and my too many years of smoking, despite maintaining decent leg strength, would make miles of walking there dubious. Plus then they got hit by COVID and literally overwhelmed had some bodies in the street. But my in-person Spanish class became Zoom and my delightful teacher was in Cuernavaca Mexico and so I decided, at least getting away from the border (the only bit of Mexico I’ve experienced and it wasn’t great, mostly just tourist trap), which might now be feasible since I could stumble through Spanish in some small town (like those I visit in USA via geodashing) and maybe get by. Nonetheless it’s still a bit scary and despite discovering that flights to Mexico from Omaha are fast and convenient: a) too many bad Americans are flooding Mexico and flaunting health safety rules and quickly getting a lot of hostility from locals, esp. in Oaxaca, and, b) despite being fully vaccinated I’d still have to get a swab shoved off my nose to return to US.

So, bottom line, unlikely I’ll leave the country to visit any Hispanic on any continent.

SO, what’s the point of continuing to learn Spanish?

Well, I do have an answer. And that is, because I set out to do it. Yes, it’s taking far longer than training for a triathlon and by my projection, from all the data and my analysis, actually I think it will take me at least another five years to be relatively fluent (and that’s just reading, I’ll never be able to speak well, and with my bad hearing, even understand spoken Spanish very well, but at least I can read signs and find the bathroom). I’ve studied two other languages but never advanced past beginner (at least for European languages there is now a fairly well-defined standard (CERF) for beginner (A1/A2, technically I’ve passed A2, but only in reading), intermediate (B1/B2, where I’m at now in Duolingo) and C (my goal).

And I have a simple goal. While I can “read” study books in what is known as “extensive reading” (just read, don’t worry if you don’t understand 100%, don’t look up words) and I’ve even found I can read public Spanish (I looked everywhere for public health announcements in USA as we realized it would be a good idea to communicate with the largest ESL population about their health too) I still can’t read, dah-ta-dah, EL PAÍS, a great newspaper from Spain with an edition for the Americas.

BTW, to any estadounidenses reading this (that is citizens of US) a whole lot a Latinos (and, yes, they don’t like LatinX either) kinda resent us calling ourselves americanos, since that is a geographical distinction shared by everyone in the western hemisphere, not something we can appropriate (but usually do). While estadounidenses is a bit tough to pronounce LEARN it (also los Estados Unidos, not America).

BUT, even though here I’m announcing my dedication (maybe rededication) to achieving Spanish fluency (at least high school level) I do plan to do something else in my life, which includes more frequent blog posts here (when I feel like), pursuing something that catches my fancy even if that blows my study data (e.g. putting lots of photos in Google and yesterday learning who Rosalía is and listening to her music for hours) AND a return to doing menu analysis post.

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Why are cryptocurrencies rapidly on their way to becoming worthless?

Because THEY ARE.

Anything that takes mystery and Elon Musk blabbing about them is worthless. Anything invented out of thin air and then fed through the ether like all the other conspiracy theories is inherently worthless.

It’s tulips bulbs, deja vu!

The great fool theory, ever heard of it, you hipsters.

So it’s ups and down, based on tweets and fame and glory and who’s-who, just like ratings of celebrities.

Come on you Randian idiots, you really think that is money!

I can’t say anymore without repeating myself – this is a massive Ponzi scheme, only slightly more inventive than the original Ponzi’s scheme, just updated to include algorithms instead of stamps and processing power of GPU instead of street pedlars.

Can’t you idiots spot a swindle?

You think because Musk runs a con on Tesla and then maybe builds real rockets and then blows that credibility on humans colonizing Mars that this means Elon is going to rescue some inherently worthless string of binary digits.

Oh, and don’t get me started on NFT’s, which make bitcoin look sane.

Somehow, in the Trumpian post-truth world, way past Colbert’s truthiness world, total insanity has a price tag. All you idiots investing in this shit (other than to finance criminal activity) are the suckers.

I heard, in my MBA days, a saying, probably not true, that JFK’s dad, a savvy con artist if there ever was one, once decided to sell (before the crash and I think this part has to be true because the Kennedy family emerged from the crash not busted, enough, to arm twist FDR into an ambassadorial appointment, then to promote Hitler), that Joe Sr. said, when his bootblack (an amusing term in today’s PC world) said, “can you give me some tips” and Joe Sr. said, to his rich buddy, “time to sell, the fools are all in”.

Ponzi’s schemes (or any pyramid scheme) collapse when there are no more fools at the bottom to buy in. Most “sophisticated” (meaning MIT finance, like me) people knew it was a bubble in 2008, worthless securities created with models with too much math for the BBAs that were basketball stars, now managing pension funds, to understand. But all those derivative gimmicks (my gawd, CDO squared, who fell for that shit? answer, us taxpayers who bailed out all the losers on those “investments”).

So now it’s bitcoin and its friends. Sheesh, how stupid are we! If CDO’s were really dumb, cryptocurrency makes those look brilliant.

Really?

How long before the Fed has to buy out trillions of this garbage or else the financial world fails?

Why do tulip bulb bubbles keep happening?

Stupid public who listen to showmen lie Musk and waste their hard earned money to try to get the quick buck.

Just stick with the lottery, you idiots.

Or create a derivative of the lottery, hey, what an idea? (Already done, it was MBAs).

Then create a derivative of that, hey done that was done with Index tracking?

What’s old is new, the scam of yesterday gets rebranded, now, of course, with the “magic” of algorithms (my life’s work, actually creating algorithms that do something).

Hello Charles [Ponzi}, welcome to trillions of fake investments!

Posted in prediction, rant | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Amazing how scale works

I posted this photo here (beautiful, isn’t it, but I wish I were there now):

and I got four views, which doesn’t make any sense as there are twelve likes (I guess it must be possible to like without viewing).

But that’s not the point. Somehow (it was a long time ago) I got this photo on Google Maps. It was geo-tagged (the Cottonwood campground in Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota) and so it shows up when you search for Cottonwood Campground and then click to get the pictures.

Guess how many times it has been viewed there?

Over 100,000 as Google loves to send me emails reporting this.

Amazingly I have another, even more ordinary picture associated with the search term, Del’s Garden Center, Spencer Iowa and that was has over 220,000 views!

All together, just a handfull of my photos have over 500,000 views.

Guess what, despite this blog being wonderfully popular and followed by nearly all human beings on the planet it, well, uh, doesn’t have that many hits.

No wonder everyone wants Google to find them.

Now if I could just remember how to upload pictures to Google Maps (I was a subscriber to some service that disappeared). I’ve got a few thousand photo, with geo-tagging (probably ten thousand but with unknown geolocation) so I could waste a couple of weeks and upload all those and be in the millions of views, soon.

Ah, the ridiculous pursuit of Internet fame.

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How Time Goes By

My first post that got any attention, even chosen by WordPress as Freshly Pressed, was about the Curiosity Rover on Mars, almost nine years ago. Today I saw that a satellite circling Mars just snapped a photo of it still climbing Mt. Sharp. Its wheels are getting worn out but otherwise it’s still going. Since the point of my post was that robots are superior to humans, imagine what the chances would be (or how much it would cost) to have a human still exploring Mars.

And now Curiosity is joined by Perseverance, and even plucky little Ingenuity, a marvel that perhaps no one expected at the time of my original post. And the Chinese landed a rover, on the first try. Mars is getting crowded.

Meanwhile Trump has come and, fortunately, gone, after the Repugs and Trump staged a coup against the United States that now they want to call an ordinary tourist visit. The attack on democracy itself, still ongoing, would have been unthinkable. By the time Perseverance stops rolling will the US still exist as a democracy? the odds are against it.

More than 588,000 Americans have died of disease that didn’t even exist when Curiosity landed and I got two doses of vaccine for that disease using a vaccine technology that didn’t exist then and in fact this is the first use.

And to my great sadness both my mother and my sister have died, now leaving me an orphan with no living immediate family. Facing my own aging (not being dead, not afraid of that) is something I face alone, now having gone through it with three family members.

And I’ve spent nearly three years studying Spanish, plus taking online classes with Zoom, which didn’t exist. The primitive teleconferencing software I had used for my job would not have predicted a free service that connected me with my teacher in Mexico.

Meanwhile all the boring posts I made about my weight loss, and then my likely, but incorrectly diagnosed death, just means that lethargy and the horrible despair of COVID and Trump contributed to my rebound in poundage and now I face some, but less than I thought, need medical issues, having now also outlived my doctor (and my oncologist’s retirement) and so having to start over just recently.

To my surprise I own property in Oklahoma and now get paid to produce green energy (yeah, wind turbines on my land) and dirty energy (fracked oil and gas) as well as grass to feed a bunch of cattle. Never thought I’d ever have any connection to that farm, my parents’ ancestral heritage but not mine.

So that’s nine years and while I could add items to the list there aren’t any more big or unexpected ones, but if I could time travel and talk to the me that wrote the first Curiosity post, that me would never believe this me.

So future me, from 2030, come back and tell me whether there is any ice left anywhere. I have no doubt that one-party authoritarian state will exist which will be trying to default on its obligations to me, payments I made out of paychecks for over 40 years of working, but now given to the rich and Dubya’s unfunded wars, that finally are about over, despite more new wars starting up in the ever so wonderfully unstable Middle East.

And bread, the main hits I get these days, in the absence of new posts, I rarely made it during the same time it became popular due to stay-at-home COVID restrictions. Now, sadly, we, when we rarely eat bread, buy pre-baked loafs to heat in a small oven. So sad.

But there are a few blessings: 1) no major pains, and, 2) still not in financial distress (now have two houses) unlike so many who were blasted by COVID, and, 3) at least with the temporary return of the US to sanity with the fortunate election of Biden and Harris, remarkable just to see competence return. Even Dubya and his crowd, while not my policy preferences, mostly manage to actually make government work, instead of being the freak show of the past four years.

So I guess I’d say, good for you Curiosity, with your tired wheels and frozen body – you not only got there you keep plugging away.

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And usually I just talk about bread

Yes, I’ll get back to that. I even have a photo and a story about strange yeast.

But the horror of the attempt Repug coup has overwhelmed me. I couldn’t imagine my country would even think for a second a fascist coup. But TV and worse Twitter has allowed the most creative (the only complement I’ll give) demagogue to brainwash a lot of people. Destroying the world’s greatest democracy just to serve the ego of this insane person kinda overwhelms ordinary things like baking bread or learning Spanish.

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