BlathrWayne Lorentz

Blathring in July, 2022.

Watching a storm >$brew.sh

Sunday, July 31st, 2022 Alive18,723days

An error message from the National Weather Serviceʼs web site

The National Weather Service has a budget of $1.2 billion. If it canʼt keep a web site from drowning, what chance do I have?

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Lazybones

Sunday, July 31st, 2022 Alive18,723days

The Sears Tele-Games version of Atariʼs Flag Capture, which was known as simply Capture

People forget how primitive video games were in the early years. For a very long time, the only way to start a game was to press the Restart button on the console. It would be years before anyone dreamed up the idea of starting or restarting a game by pressing a button on the controller thatʼs right there in the playerʼs hand. Itʼs so elementary that people today take for granted that itʼs always been that way.

In the early years of video games, there was no such thing as sitting back and relaxing while playing a game, unless it was something with no end, like the free draw mode in Surround. You had to reach out and touch the console every few minutes when the game ended.

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Smells like a white linnen sheet flapping in the breeze atop a grassy hill

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive18,722days

My debit card, after a million tumbles in the dryer

I lost my debit card a month ago. I found it today, wedged under one of the fins in the dryer. That means it not only went through the washing machine, it went through about 30 dryer cycles.

The card still works. The chip is fine, and the mag stripe works OK on newer machines.

Do that with your fancy device with Apple Pay, or whatever Google is calling its wallet this week, and you know what happens? You walk home.

I see people on the internet all the time claiming that plastic cards and cash are things of the past, and no longer needed. Thatʼs only true if you never go anywhere interesting, never eat anywhere unusual, and never do laundry.

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Connection over sneakernet

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive18,722days

The Chase United Guide to benefits

Iʼm supposed to have super-duper awesome benefits with United Airlines because I have a Chase credit card. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to see what those benefits are. Naturally, the link on the Chase web site was broken. It just looped though a login screen over and over.

Since Iʼm a paying customer, I moaned about it to Chaseʼs customer service.

I ended up booking my ticket on another airline, and forgot all about it until I got this in the the mail today. I guess someone at Chase figured it would be faster to mail me a book about the benefits than to fix the link.

I guess this ends up being a story about good customer service, because not only do I have the book, but I just checked, and the link is fixed, too.

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Sweating the details

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive18,722days

A bottle of real Pocari Sweat (left) and a bottle of American Pocari Sweat (right)

Pocari Sweat is an interesting thing. Japanese people love it because itʼs a great hydration drink. Americans who like to cosplay Japanese, but will never go there and know of Japan only what they read on the internet, like Pocari Sweat because of its quirky, to American ears, use of the word “Sweat.”

When recovering from a sunburn or the flu, Pocari Sweat is my go-to drink. It used to be rare and exotic, but now it's available in Japanese-themed stores across America, and guzzled down by people who know nothing about Japanese culture other than comic books and a vision of Akihabara that is 30 years out of date.

Most of them don't know that the Sweat theyʼre sucking isn't the real thing.

In this photo above, a bottle of real Pocari Sweat is on the left. On the right is the American version, which an internet search shows is actually bottled by the Crystal Geyser Water Company at its co-packing facilities in Bakersfield, California.

Is there a difference between Japanese Pocari Sweat and Bakersfield Pocari Sweat? But hereʼs what's in each:

Ingredients

Real Pocari Sweat

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Salt
  • Citric acid
  • Artificial flavor
  • Potassium chloride
  • Calcium acetate
  • Amino acid
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) as a preservative

American Pocari Sweat

  • Purified water
  • Cane sugar
  • Less than 1% of:
    • Citric acid
    • Natural and artificial flavors
    • Sodium citrate
    • Grapefruit juice concentrate
    • Salt
    • Potassium chloride
    • Malic acid
    • Calcium lactate
    • Glucono delta-lactone
    • Monosodium glutamate [MSG]
    • Magnesium carbonate
    • Ascorbic acid (to help protect flavor)

Another interesting difference is the serving size. The suggested serving size for the American Pocari Sweat is one full bottle — 500 milliliters, giving you 130 calories.

The suggested serving size of the Japanese Pocari Sweat is 100 milliliters — a fifth of a bottle, giving you 25 calories. If you decided to drink the entire Japanese bottle anyway, thatʼs 125 calories.

Is one better than the other? Perhaps if you have strong opinions about high fructose corn syrup, or grapefruit juice. But taste-wise, I canʼt detect a difference. The Japanese drink has about 4% fewer calories, assuming you drink the entire bottle. And like many Americans, I am a firm believer that 1 container = 1 serving.

Still, itʼs useful to know the difference, if you hang out in places that attract fake Nihonjin. To sort out the posers, just look at the label on the bottle. Real Pocari Sweat sold in America will have a paper nutrition label pasted over the original Japanese label.

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Scruffy delivery

Saturday, July 30th, 2022 Alive18,722days

A sign for Yamato Transport at a Japanese bodega

I think that Yamato Transport has one of the best corporate logos on the plant. The delivery company uses a stylized mother cat carrying a kitten by the scruff of its neck.

Relatable content with bold colors. Itʼs my understanding that people in Japan just call the company “Black Cat.”

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Can't get there from here

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive18,721days

Me: “Hey, Siri, stop the music.”

Siri: “Sorry, Wayne. I'm unable to stop.”

Really? It's only R.E.M. It's not like you can dance to it.

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Tools of the trade

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive18,721days

Scrappy tech startup in 1972:

Two guys in the basement of a college science building, working all night with tubes, relays, and transistors.

Scrappy tech startup in 1982:

Two guys in a garage, working all night wire-wrapping circuits.

Scrappy tech startup in 1992:

Two guys in a college dorm, working all night optimizing cross-platform compiler routines.

Scrappy tech startup in 2002:

Two guys in an anonymous strip mall, trying to cram their big idea through a 56 kilobit ASDL connection.

Scrappy tech startup in 2012:

Two guys in loft over a Thai restaurant in a hip arts district, cobbling together other people's JavaScript modules on local government grant money.

Scrappy tech startup in 2022:

Two guys on the 43rd floor of a bank building, bluffing their way through a PowerPoint in front of a bunch of V.C.'s.

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“Try to look like you're on skag”

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive18,721days

Have you ever noticed that if you search for “doctor patient vaccine” in Adobe Stock, 90% of the fake doctors injecting their fake patients are using the same technique that a junkie uses to mainline skag? Have these photographers never received any kind of vaccine ever in their lives?

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The stack, she has overflowed

Friday, July 29th, 2022 Alive18,721days

Screenshot of Stackoverflow error message 'The service is unavailable.'

Stackoverflow is broken. Silicon Valley grinds to a halt.

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Electrifying

Monday, July 25th, 2022 Alive18,717days

The roof of a Houston Metro light rail train

Have you ever wondered what the top of a light rail train looks like?

Youʼre welcome.

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Laser focused

Sunday, July 24th, 2022 Alive18,716days

Antoinette staring directly into your soul

I thought I was being all clever, using my phoneʼs camera flash to see what was making that noise in the dark.

It turns out, I donʼt want to know.

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Speak directly into the horn

Saturday, July 23rd, 2022 Alive18,715days

Me (to the HomePod three feet in front of me): “Hey, Siri, is it going to rain today?”

A different HomePod (three rooms away): “-mumble- -mumble- -mumble- -something- -mumble-

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Do what?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 Alive18,712days

Street signs embedded into various sidewalk corners in Midtown Houston — poorly

When I lived in Houston the first time, there were many streets in Midtown that still had their historic tile mosaic street signs intact. In the decades I was away, the streets of Midtown were rebuilt, and the old curb signs removed so that the sidewalks could meet A.D.A. standards. Fortunately, the City of Houston decided that instead of throwing away the historic mosaics, it would embed them into the face of the sidewalks to preserve them.

The results is bad. Really bad. What you see above is the result of two things I've observed:

  1. There is a very common attitude of “good enough” in the greater Houston area, where people will do a half-ass job and if it's good enough, consider it the same thing as done well.
  2. You canʼt tell someone to arrange tiles in a “checkerboard” pattern because a surprising number of people have never played checkers, and donʼt know what a checker board is.

The first point I've learned from actual people. Iʼve met a number of people with this “good enough” attitude, and lack of pride in the things they do. One guy who thought this way bought his wife a used iron from eBay because he thought it was a “good enough” anniversary present.

The second point, I discovered while trying to explain the situation with mining rights on the checkerboard sections of the Navajo Nation. The person I was speaking with had no concept of what I was saying until I showed her what it looked like on a map. Until then, she had no reference for “checkers” or “checkerboard.”

I suspect what happened to the sidewalks of Midtown was a combination of a lack of pride in one's work, combined with a lack of basic knowledge. The result is that it makes the City of Houston, and its people, look stupid to anyone who uses a sidewalk in Midtown.

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They should call it ToiletTime

Sunday, July 17th, 2022 Alive18,709days

Screen time screenshot

Today, Siri informed me that I use my phone an average of 19 hours and 22 minutes per day. Either Siri is wrong, or I really need to eat more fiber.

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Tubes for noobs

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive18,708days

Photograph of my TV

I finally got around to fixing up the over-the-air antenna hooked up to my TV. I re-scanned and found 121 channels.

Not all of the channels are great. But that's no different than the DirecTV service I have in my apartment, for which I am obligated to pay $80 a month. Except that the majority of the dross over the air is shopping channels and infomercials, while DirecTV seems to be 90% pornography, sports, and also shopping.

The important thing is that with the over-the-air antenna, I get The! Movies! Network!, and MeTV+. I've also discovered a channel that is mostly British and Australian DIY and lifestyle shows, like Escape to the Country, of which Darcie and have long been fans. Going to have to rev that $20 ATSC DVR into high gear for a while.

Here's a table of what I found, mostly for my own reference, and subject to change with a shift in the wind.

If you're viewing this on a mobile phone, you won't be able to see the table until you hold your phone horizontally. That's because tables look like absolute pants on phones.

Display channel Station ID Network Primary language Content
2-1KPRC-TV/HoustonKPRC-HDNBCEnglishVariety
2-2KPRC-TV/HoustonStartTVStartTVEnglishVariety
2-3KPRC-TV/HoustonH&IHeroes and IconsEnglishVariety
2-4KPRC-TV/HoustonDABLDablEnglishLifestyle
2-5KPRC-TV/HoustonGetTVGetTVEnglishVariety
3-1KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-DTCBSEnglishVariety
3-2KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-CWThe CWEnglishVariety
3-3KBTX-TV/BryanKBTX-™TelemundoSpanishVariety
3-4KBTX-TV/BryanGrioTheGrioEnglishVariety
11-4KHOU/HoustonTwistTwistEnglishLifestyle
11-11KHOU/HoustonKHOU-HDCBSEnglishVariety
13-1KTRK-TV/HoustonKTRK-HDABCEnglishVariety
13-2KTRK-TV/HoustonLOCALishLocalishEnglishLifestyle
13-3KTRK-TV/HoustonKTRK-D3This TVEnglishVariety
13-4KTRK-TV/HoustonQVCQVCEnglishShopping
14-1KETH-TV/HoustonTBN HDTrinity Broadcasting NetworkEnglishReligion
14-2KETH-TV/HoustoninspireTBN InspireEnglishReligion
14-3KETH-TV/HoustonSMILESmileEnglishReligion
14-4KETH-TV/HoustonEnlaceEnlaceSpanishReligion
20-1KTXH/HoustonKTXH DTMyNetworkTVEnglishVariety
20-2KTXH/HoustonMovies!Movies!EnglishMovies
20-3KTXH/HoustonTheGrioTheGrioEnglishVariety
20-4KTXH/HoustonBUZZRBuzzrEnglishGame shows
21-1KVQT-LD/HoustonNewsmx2Newsmax TVEnglishSpecialty
21-2KVQT-LD/HoustonRetroRetro TVEnglishVariety
21-3KVQT-LD/HoustonElohimElohimSpanishReligion
21-4KVQT-LD/HoustonClassicClassic Reruns TVEnglishVariety
21-5KVQT-LD/HoustonCristoCristo TVSpanishReligion
21-6KVQT-LD/HoustonH-landHeartlandEnglishLifestyle
21-7KVQT-LD/HoustonLife-VVidaVision NetworkSpanishReligion
21-8KVQT-LD/HoustonINTVEnglish
21-9KVQT-LD/HoustonBiz-TVBiz TelevisionEnglishTalk shows
21-10KVQT-LD/HoustonNowMTVNowMedia TVEnglish and SpanishVariety
21-11KVQT-LD/HoustonACEAmerican Classic EntertainmentEnglishVariety
21-12KVQT-LD/HoustonABTVABTVVietnameseVariety
21-13KVQT-LD/HoustonMBCMillennium Broadcasting ChannelEnglishAfrican
21-14KVQT-LD/HoustonLaTeleLaTeleSpanishMovies
21-15KVQT-LD/HoustonKVQT-15nonenonenone
22-1KLTJ/GalvestonKLTJ-DTDaystarEnglishReligion
22-2KLTJ/GalvestonKLTJ-ESDaystar EspañolSpanishReligion
26-1KRIV/HoustonKRIV DTFoxEnglishVariety
26-2KRIV/HoustonDecadesDecadesEnglishVariety
26-3KRIV/HoustonFOX WXFox WeatherEnglishWeather
27-1KQHO-LD/HoustonVietSkyVietSkyVietnameseShopping
27-2KQHO-LD/HoustonS.E.TSaigon Broadcasting Television NetworkVietnameseVariety
27-3KQHO-LD/HoustonFodd&FUFood and Fun TVVietnameseVariety
27-4KQHO-LD/HoustonVNBCVNBCVietnameseShopping
27-5KQHO-LD/HoustonVietmedVietmediaVietnameseVariety
27-6KQHO-LD/HoustonIVTVVTVVietnameseVariety
27-7KQHO-LD/HoustonAvailabVietnameseVariety
27-8KQHO-LD/HoustontheVGlobal Mall TVVietnameseShopping
27-9KQHO-LD/HoustonAWMAWM TVVietnameseVariety
27-10KQHO-LD/HoustonPeace and Happiness TelevisionVietnameseLifestyle
28-1KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDNovelisimaSpanishVariety
28-2KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-3KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDShop LCEnglishShopping
28-4KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
28-5KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-6KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
28-7KUGB-CD/HoustonKUGB-CDClassic Reruns TVEnglishVariety
32-1KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDEnglishVariety
32-2KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDnonenonenone
32-3KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDnoneEnglishInfomercials
32-4KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
32-5KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDStadiumEnglishSports
32-6KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDShop LCEnglishShopping
32-7KEHO-LD/HoustonKEHO-LDEnglishVariety
34-1KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDLATVSpanish and EnglishVariety
34-2KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDEnglishVariety
34-3KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
34-4KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDnoneEnglishInfomercials
34-5KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDMagnificent Movies NetworkEnglishMovies
34-6KUVM-CD/HoustonKUVM-CDEnglishVariety
39-1KIAH/HoustonKIAH-DTThe CWEnglishVariety
39-5KIAH/HoustonCourtTVCourt TVEnglishLifestyle
45-1KXLN-DT/RosenbergKXLN-DTUnivisionSpanishVariety
45-2KXLN-DT/RosenbergUnimasUniMásSpanishVariety
45-3KXLN-DT/RosenbergMysteryIon MysteryEnglishLifestyle
45-4KXLN-DT/RosenbergNTDNew Tang Dynasty TelevisionChineseVariety
45-5KXLN-DT/RosenbergDIGI-TVDigi-TVEnglishVariety
46-1KBPX-LD/HoustonNuestraNuestra VisiónSpanishMovies
46-3KBPX-LD/HoustonNuduNu DuMont TelevisionEnglishVariety
46-4KBPX-LD/HoustonHeartlaHeartlandEnglishLifestyle
46-5KBPX-LD/HoustonGEBGEB NetworkEnglishReligion
47-1KTMD/GalvestonKTMD-HDTelemundoSpanishVariety
47-2KTMD/GalvestonEXITOSTeleXitosSpanishVariety
47-3KTMD/GalvestonNBCLXLXEnglishVariety
47-4KTMD/GalvestonCOZICozi TVEnglishVariety
47-5KTMD/GalvestonOXYGENOxygenEnglishLifestyle
49-1KPXB-TV/ConroeIONIon TelevisionEnglishVariety
49-2KPXB-TV/ConroeBounceBounceEnglishVariety
49-3KPXB-TV/ConroeCourtTVCourt TVEnglishLifestyle
49-4KPXB-TV/ConroeDefy TVDefy TVEnglishVariety
49-5KPXB-TV/ConroeLaffLaffEnglishComedy
49-6KPXB-TV/ConroeTruRealTrueRealEnglishVariety
49-7KPXB-TV/ConroeNEWSYNewsyEnglishNews
49-8KPXB-TV/ConroeHSNHome Shopping NetworkEnglishShopping
51-1KYAZ/KatyMeTVMeTVEnglishVariety
51-2KYAZ/KatyMeTV+MeTV+EnglishVariety
51-3KYAZ/KatyAztecaAzteca AméricaSpanishVariety
51-4KYAZ/KatyStoryStory TelevisionEnglishHistory
55-1KTBU/ConroeQuestQuestEnglishVariety
55-3KTBU/ConroeNacionNación TVSpanishReligion
57-1KUBE-TV/BaytownKUBE-TVShopHQEnglishShopping
57-2KUBE-TV/BaytownnonenoneEnglishplaceholder
57-3KUBE-TV/BaytownSBNSonLife Broadcasting NetworkEnglishReligion
57-4KUBE-TV/BaytownChargeCharge!EnglishVariety
57-5KUBE-TV/BaytownnoneEnglishInfomercials
57-6KUBE-TV/BaytownMi Raza TVMi Raza TVSpanishInfomercials
57-7KUBE-TV/BaytownCRTVnoneEnglishInfomercials
57-8KUBE-TV/BaytownJTVJewelry TelevisionEnglishShopping
57-9KUBE-TV/BaytownUChurchSpanishReligion
57-10KUBE-TV/BaytownAChurchThree Angels Broadcast NetworkSpanishReligion
57-11KUBE-TV/BaytownVieTVVieTVVietnameseVariety
61-1KZJL/HoustonEstrella TVSpanishVariety
61-2KZJL/HoustonKZJL-2Estrella NewsSpanishNews
61-3KZJL/HoustonEstrella DeportesSpanishSports
61-4KZJL/HoustonShopLCShop LCEnglishShopping
61-5KZJL/HoustonPOSI-TVPositivEnglishMovies
61-6KZJL/HoustonQVCQVCEnglishShopping
67-1KFTH-DT/AlvinKFTH-DTUniMásSpanishVariety
67-2KZJL/HoustonGetTVgetTVEnglishVariety
67-3KZJL/HoustonGRITGritEnglishWesterns
67-4KZJL/HoustonHSNHome Shopping NetworkEnglishShopping
67-5KZJL/HoustonKXLN-HDUnivisionSpanishVariety
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Memories of life in Seattle

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive18,708days

A package of Starbucks Veranda coffee

The coffee of the day is Starbucks Veranda roast. I got this bag for free with my wife's Starbucks points/stars/thumbs/whatever. It's very hard for free coffee to be bad, so it must be good.

My memory is that Starbucks used to have a Veranda coffee, and a Blonde coffee. This is labeled both. I know that blonde is a type of roast, so I'm a little corn-fused here. Maybe Starbucks comnbined the two products into one to cut down on SKUs.

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Food for thought

Friday, July 15th, 2022 Alive18,707days

An H.E.B. error message

HEB made $31,000,000,000 last year. If it can't make a web site work, what chance do I have?

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It's not even Christmas yet

Wednesday, July 13th, 2022 Alive18,705days

A pile of packages

Thanks, Amazon. Ooh! Paper towels!

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High flyers

Sunday, July 10th, 2022 Alive18,702days

A flock of birds captured in an aerial photo on Apple Maps

Sometimes if I canʼt sleep, I like to scroll through Apple Maps and see what can be seen. On this particular night, I found a flock of birds near NASA. They look like egrets or something similar to me.

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You are about to be eaten by a grue

Sunday, July 3rd, 2022 Alive18,695days

Some people like to measure a computerʼs ability to asking if it can run Linux. Some ask if it can run Doom. I ask, ”Can it run Zork?” The answer for my TRS-80 Model 100 is “Yes, with a little help.”

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Boy, howdy

Saturday, July 2nd, 2022 Alive18,694days

A wet wipe dispenser sponsored by Energy Texas

If your electric company promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you might be in Texas.

And if you trust something as important as electricity to a company that promotes itself with the slogan “Giddy Up!” you get what you deserve.

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Timeless

Friday, July 1st, 2022 Alive18,693days

macOS Montgomery installing very slowly

My headless M1 Mac Mini crashed hard, so I had to hook up a monitor and re-install macOS Monterrey, which after 30 minutes helpfully tells me, “About a minute remaining.”

And by “About a minute” it meant a little under three hours.

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Rain-dappled?

Friday, July 1st, 2022 Alive18,693days

A rain-dappled leaf in my garden

It rained last night, so this morning, I can be an artsy-fartsy photographer in the garden.

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