Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hurricane Ian

Buckle up buttercup. This one looks bad for Florida. It’s going to hit Florida as a major hurricane. The west coast of Florida and the Panhandle may take the brunt of it. That’s a lot of Florida. It will be a major rain maker over a much larger area. That’s a real problem in a part of the country where elevation is measured in inches, not feet.

I know the west coast of Florida fairly well. My lovely wife and I sailed small boats up and down the west coast. The coast is pretty low and wide open in a lot of areas. There’s not much to provide any protection. We love the Gulf side of Florida. It a bit more laid back than the east coast. 

Tampa Bay is going to be a problem. That area hasn’t been hit by a major storm in some time. It’s been built up a lot since. No matter where the storm makes landfall, the sea rise and rainfall will cause major problems. 

People in the potential path of the storm should have really assessed their situation by now. Personally I’d already be on my way to western Kentucky. If you wait until the last minute there’s a much greater chance of things going wrong. Fuel could run out. Traffic jams and accidents cause delays. If your vehicle has a mechanical problem you need time to fix it or find other options. 

Once this passes through Florida the danger won’t be over. All that energy has to go somewhere. There will be flooding over a good part of the Southeast and probably into the Mid-Atlantic coast. It’s too early to predict how that will sort out so people in those areas best stay informed.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Up on the mountain

Over the weekend I visited a friend who lives in a neighboring state. While I live out in the woods, he really lives out in the woods. At least I get some basic services. He’s so far out in the woods that the only traffic is from hikers. 

Many years ago I helped set him set up his first solar electric system. It was tiny, but since his only other electric power came from a 1000 watt generator, it was a help. Now he has a much upgraded solar  electric system and a more powerful backup generator. 

There is no cell phone service. To communicate to the outside world he has a Hugesnet satellite system with their phone option. It’s a big power draw on his off-grid power so he’s looking into Starlink. In the past he just remained isolated, but now has responsibilities. People need to get in touch with him. 

The cabin has gravity fed spring water and wood heat. He put in a fairly large propane refrigerator. His partner likes to freeze a lot of berries and they needed the freezer space. 

Gardening is a problem. There are so many wild animals that it’s a real struggle to keep them from eating everything. They harvest a lot of berries and apples, but that because they produce so heavily that even the bears can’t eat everything. 

It was good to get together, hang out around the campfire, and eat some burgers. It was nice to see what they’ve done with the place. 


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Useless upgrades

One of my banks just “upgraded” their mobile banking system. I tremble in fear when then do. 

The first issue is that the new software always takes longer to install than they allow for. That’s followed up with a protracted debugging period. 

This upgrade was extensive enough that they required a whole new banking app. Here’s the thing, I rely on mobile banking when traveling. It also came in handy during the covid lockdown. The worse thing that can happen is being far from home and locked out of my accounts. That happened a few years back and it was a mess. It never was straightened out until I came home some months later. If I’m physically camping out in their office they tend to focus much better on finding solutions. 

Good thing I have backup plans for travel money. Nothing worse than being far from home and without access to funds. 

The big snafu this time is their mobile check deposit. The old system, once they got the bugs out, worked really well. The new software is difficult to use. Worse yet, it will credit the deposit for a few days then reject it for being out of focus or some such thing. The error kicked the check out last Friday. Now I have to wait until Monday to see if the new deposit went in. 

Fortunately I’m home right now and can always go into the bank to sort things out. 


Saturday, September 24, 2022

Not all reservists are equal

People hear that Russia is mobilizing 300,000 reservists and it sounds impressive. It’s a lot of people, but how good are Russian reservists? In short, not very. They were probably not very well trained when they were active duty. After their active duty time they’ve done no further training. The Russian logistics have been terrible. How they are going to outfit another 300,000 is anyone’s guess. 

Contrast that with the United States National Guard. They actually train and keep their skills sharp. In 2020  The Guard had 58 field artillery battalions. That’s 57% if the Army’s field artillery. They could be activated and be effective from day one. The Army counts on them to be ready so makes sure they are.

Now contrast those Russian reservists with the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainians are battle hardened, highly motivated, well led and well equipped. 

My advice to Russian reservists is make sure you have a nice clean white T-shirt. Your best bet of battlefield survival is to make that T-shirt into a white flag and surrender. 


Friday, September 23, 2022

Made my choice

Last Monday I got the new covid booster. You do what you want. I used to argue vaccines with people but I don’t anymore. Some of the people I argued with are now dead so I guess I won that argument? Don’t feel good about it though. 

There people who have very valid reasons for not getting the vaccines so there’s no need to shame anybody. You do what you want.

My reaction to the new vaccine was a bit worse than the previous versions. Got the shot on Monday and my arm was a bit sore at the injection site, but not sore enough to take anything for it. Tuesday I felt a bit under the weather. It was like the way you feel when you are just starting to get a cold but aren’t really sick yet. Wednesday most of that feeling was gone. By Thursday I was 100%. Previous shots just gave me a powerful need to take naps. 

Here’s the thing, I’m not normally big on getting vaccines. I don’t get the flu shot. However, I’m in enough high risk categories that it made sense to me to take a chance on the covid vaccines. When I actually caught covid while in Texas felt like five days with a mild cold. Beats the heck out of dying. 


Thursday, September 22, 2022

Putin’s Nuclear War

Nuclear War (and this time I really really mean it.)

Putin appears to be desperate. At the rate their victories are happening the Ukrainians will be in Sevastopol in no time. His decision to call up reservists is very unpopular in Russia. Mothers don’t want to send their sons off to die. 300,000 out of shape, barely trained and totally unmotivated troops won’t turn the tide. That’s even if they can be outfitted with anything better than Mosin Nagants. 

He’s doubling down by the shame votes to incorporate the conquered territories into Russia. That way an attack on them will be an attack on Russia itself. The West isn’t buying it. Not only that, why should Ukraine limit themselves to fighting on their own territory? There are transportation and communication hubs in Russia proper that are perfectly valid military targets. 

Russia doesn’t have what it needs to win this war. What it does have is nuclear weapons. The problem is that they are not the weapon for the job. Even tactical nukes don’t make much military sense. Ukrainians are very good at dispersing their troops and only bringing them together when needed for an assault. When that happens they are too close to Russian troops to safely use nukes. 

Use of strategic nukes is a suicide pill. Maybe Putin is suicidal, but I doubt the rest of the Russian government is. I don’t expect this conflict to go nuclear. If the major European capitals go up in radioactive flames I’ll be terribly embarrassed.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Electric Car Future

Tesla Megapacks are giant lithium ion batteries used in power plants for backup. One recently caught fire at a California power plant and a shelter in place order was issued. Burning lithium batteries are pretty darn toxic. There’s some serious downsides to lithium ion batteries.

Fortunately they don’t catch fire everyday. Then again, almost all electric cars on the road use some version of lithium batteries. The thing about cars is that there are lot of them on the road and on any given day a significant number of them crash. The thought of electric cars on fire sounds pretty scary. To me they are no more scary than gasoline cars.  People don’t realize how dangerous gasoline actually is and we manage to deal with gasoline car crashes. 

Right now there are some serious issues with lithium powered cars. Two big ones are the rising price of lithium and the limited supply. One would think that would put the brakes on transportation electrification. 

In the long run it won’t. Lithium is a big deal now, but it won’t be forever. There are plenty of potential alternatives. Many of them use cheaper and more common elements in their construction. It’s only a matter of time before the better ones get commercialized. 

It won’t be that hard to transition to better batteries. Electric cars and trucks will become more common. Personally, I won’t buy one until they are available fairly cheaply on the used market, but that’s just how I roll. Normally I prefer someone else to take the depreciation. Not only that, by then we’ll have a pretty good idea which batter technology will go the distance.