Everything’s a Trade Off

The whole of my domain is leafy and green
As monochrome a world as I’ve ever seen
Sometime next month, though you don’t need to be told
We’ll start to see splashes of scarlet and gold
It happens gradually here, taking months to complete
As each single tree concedes annual defeat
If you didn’t pay attention the leaves might all fall
Without your ever knowing it happened at all.
I’ll see neighbors’ houses emerge from the greenery
As the intervening woods become less screenery
The sound of passing traffic grows ever more clear
Remind me, why is fall my favorite time of year?

Limit Lifted, a Little

My limited De-Googlization just became a tiny bit less limited, thanks to a new bug (they consider it a feature) in the Google search app for Android.

It appears no longer possible to open search results in any web browser; instead they open in something called “custom tabs” — there’s no apparent way to turn this linkjacking behavior off.

Now, I’m using what looks like a custom tab in Chrome to replace the FUBAR Contacts app, and it works great — but I chose to do this.

What Borgle has done with its search results bug, however, is deprive me of my choice, and that’s a hostile act by a vendor against a customer (I do, in fact, pay for certain Google services).

So now when I want to search the web from my phone I’ll open Firefox, on which I’ve made Metacrawler my search default. It searches Borgle, but also Bing and Yahoo.

Quoth Me

Thanky to Charles of Dustbury for pointing me to a plugin that can show quotes in the sidebar. At the moment only one in the collection isn’t a self-quote (those attributed to “John Wolf” or “Caleb Scruggins” are from one sample or another of my fiction), but that is sure to change sooner or later.

Limited De-Googlization

As the Chromebook post from yesterday suggests, my disentanglement from Google is never going to be total, even if I wanted it to be.

For starters, the alternatives to an Android phone are the iPhone (been there, chucked that) and a Windows phone. So, Android it is.

And even though I now have my domain email back, it and all my other email addresses are going through Gmail, because the only thing Gmail lacks that I could ever want is a sort function, and I’ve lived without that for years. Gmail’s spam filter may well be the most advanced AI on the planet, and probably already controls the military, air-traffic control, and the stoplights in L.A.

If it ever decides to go Skynet on us it’ll start by letting all that spam through. We’ll be begging for the killer robots to wipe us all out.

Nor is Gmail the only service where Google leaves Microsoft and Apple in the dust. I’ve looked. I’ve tried to find a cloud-based contact manager half as good as Google’s; I’ve looked for a cloud storage option with the same capacity and live-sync capabilities that doesn’t cost more; I’ve been looking at mobile phone service options since going with Project Fi because I’m pretty sure it won’t work so well once we’ve finally gotten out of metro Atlanta for the cowboy’s promised land.

There are plenty of Google properties I dislike enough to stop using: Blogger; Google Sites; G Suite; Hangouts. Some of those I quit using before Goolag-gate, others I’ve only dumped recently and at some additional expense to myself, but I can’t really say for sure whether I wouldn’t have dumped them eventually regardless.

I think I hit Peak Boycott after the Brendan Eich affair — but Chrome proved to be one of those Google things I don’t like well enough to use unless the alternatives, such as Firefox Mobile, are substantially worse. Meanwhile I did eventually resume using Firefox on my laptop and phone.

Is there anything Google can do that would make me quit using them altogether? Well, if you’ve been reading between the lines you’ve figured out that I don’t decide what to use based on the political opinions of the corporate pukes who produce it. As long as it does what I need it to do, better and cheaper than the other guys’ stuff, I’m going to use it.

We conservatives reject the idea that everything has to be politicized. I believe in a government so small that no one ever needs to obsess about politics in their daily lives.

Trust me, it’s a much more pleasant existence.

To Be Fair, It IS Only 15 Months Away


There’s a Wikipedia page for next year’s Georgia gubernatorial election, and two of the declared names on the Republican side — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp — are pretty well known to me.

Of the two, I lean toward Kemp, because I haven’t seen him acting like a tyrant the way Cagle has done at least once in the nearly 11 years he’s been the state’s #2 constitutional officer. Cagle is the first Republican lieutenant-governor since the office was created in the late 1940s.

Kemp is only the second Republican to serve as secretary of state here since Reconstruction — the first was Karen Handel, who previously sought the governorship and is now in Congress after this year’s special election.

Neither of the names shown on Wikipedia as declared for the Democrats is familiar to me, though state Rep. Stacey Abrams has the endorsement of NARAL.

What’s most interesting is the roster of declined candidates in both major parties. My Republican former congressman Lynn Westmoreland, for example; and perhaps the most formidable Democrat in Georgia right now, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who is instead seeking a third term in his current job. Perhaps he, unlike Abrams, understands how some of his non-mayoral political stances would play with the statewide electorate.

I’m just hoping by the time next year’s winner is seeking re-election I’ll be voting in another state.

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

So, now that I’ve signed up again for legitimate domain hosting, I’m finding that my desire to have the Tally Book retain its mcg.ak4mc.us URL is no longer feasible. Blogspot won’t honor a permanent redirect (though it is respecting the Wildcard setting, so that links to individual entries using either URL will still work), and WordPress.com doesn’t even offer the option of trying to set one up.

Which means I either have to live with the Blogspot URL here, or install WordPress on my domain host and mess with databases and all that crap. Right now it’s a tossup which is the least palatable choice — though obviously my preference for less hassle makes Blogspot the odds-on favorite in the long run.

On the other hand, since I’ve lost all of my prior content forever, except for what’s here right now, messing with a database wouldn’t be but so stressful. “Oops. I have to start over from scratch again? Ain’t the first time, doubt it’ll be the last.”

The templates available at WordPress.com are unimpressive anyway, so that was a never-starter.

What’s that? Some old geezer who remembers my blogging heyday is suggesting bringing back Expression Engine? Where’s my shotgun?

Temporary Interruptions Are Temporary

…and I’m causing them. Please bear with us.

Update: I’ve resumed using a conventional domain host for perfectly frivolous reasons, primarily for SMTP server access. It took a while for the hosting change to propagate in Google’s DNS, and it may take a longer while in yours. Nothing else has actually moved.

‘Nother update: Maybe not so frivolous. Google’s giving itself an utterly unnecessary black eye by letting its virulent political monoculture become more than merely an object of suspicion. A lot of people there need to be slapped down. If they can fire a guy for wanting more ideological diversity, they can sure as hell punish those who actively suppress said diversity.

Blessed Are the Mechanically Capable

…for they get all kinds of free stuff.

The defunct ZTR mower has found a new home, having been saved from being left in the woods to rust by a handy fellow who has been fixing mechanical equipment like mowers since he was a young’un.

He got a real good idea of what needs to be done to fix it, after having attempted to tow it onto his trailer with his big Exmark ZTR and popping wheelies on the trailer ramp. The Exmark is too big for many parts of his property so he also had a little Snapper riding mower nearly as old as him, but it conked out on him so…

Anyway, whereas I thought maybe the trouble with our ZTR could have just been a drive belt somewhere, apparently the hydraulics on one side are seized up. He’ll have a fair amount of work to do before his narrow spots can be mowed again, but at least it’ll get a few more years of use.

There’s no way I would have gotten it on our trailer to take in for repair without another machine to help. He ended up having to get behind the patient and push it up with the Exmark, me tugging sideways on the front end to keep it moving straight.

Next time I see him, probably in a few months, I’ll ask after his new pet.

Artificial Mortality

Previously known as planned obsolescence, which has been a feature of mobile devices since the TI-1200. My tablet, a Google Pixel C, got dropped in the vicinity of our brick hearth, and when I find out who dropped it I’ll send him to bed without his nightly wee dram.

It’s not as catastrophic as what happened to my Nexus 4 phone — I’m writing this post using the tablet — but there are visible cracks in the touchscreen and they’ll never get smaller.

So I guess in this case it’s not so much planned as anticipated, like the eventual outcome of an incurable disease. I’m not contemplating buying a replacement and the last time I had a touchscreen replaced (did I mention the Nexus 4?) the operation was not a success. I still have my Nexus 9, which is slower and has less storage, but can resume some measure of its former duties if the Pixel C goes Technology Up before I win the Powerball.

But yeah, if I ever do buy another tablet it’s getting a case, just like nearly every one of my phones since the Nexus 4.

Update: Well, pieces of glass are starting to come off now. I think I’ll just try doing without a tablet.

‘Nother update, Sunday: I would have expected tablet withdrawal pains by now, but not so much.

Doooh Doooh Doooh, Lookin’ Out Her Screen Door

Kitty Houdini is pondering how to effect her next escape now that the screen doors have been blocked. I’m less than confident the grilles will hold up if she gets serious about it, but as long as it’s rainy outside I don’t think she’ll give it much of a try.

Next week though, the sun will be out — and if she can, so will Kitty Houdini.

We’ll just have to see.

In other news, the phone clamp I ordered arrived today and I think I’ve got it set up in a workable spot. The charging cable arrives tomorrow.

Before the clamp arrived I tried another excursion, this time using the Google music player instead of Amazon. I also ran the navigator app as I’d done the other day. Mobile data usage appears to still be an issue but I think this is from using navigation. I’ll have to see if offline mode is an option.

Also, I’ve found that if the music player app is already open when I get in the car, I don’t need to do anything with my phone when I’m driving, Auto or no Auto. I don’t know if that’s a recent innovation or something I just never bothered to try before.

Update, Friday: offline maps will only save me mobile data charges if I set the maps app to wifi only, and if I go beyond where my saved maps extend, I’m out of luck.

Oh, well. I really only use navigation when I’m going someplace I’m not sure how to get to. On those rare occasions I can certainly justify a higher than normal phone bill.

‘Nother update, July 2: I now declare the containment of Kitty Houdini a success. Now if we could just string together a few days without rain in the forecast I still have a bunch of chores and projects I’ve been wanting to get at.

Not on a Submarine, but About as Funny

Now that our dog is no longer around to patrol the back yard around the screened-in, covered downstairs patio where Mrs. McG’s late mother’s cats get their fresh air, we need to upgrade the security of said patio against foxes, coyotes, raccoons, dingoes, bobcats, orangutans and pamphleteers.

This means the cheap wooden screen doors that were installed when the patio was screened in, won’t do. One of the cats loosened a corner of the soft, fabric screen and has tended to spend most of her day lounging in the back yard (after having indulged her curiosity about the front yard and I suppose some of the nearer woods).

What I’d prefer is to replace these doors with something that has a solid bottom panel so the screen’s edges aren’t so accessible, and actual metal screen material that would withstand the determined efforts of Kitty Houdini for more than a minute or two once she discovers the edges don’t come loose.

Are these specifications readily available at some home improvement store? Not that I’ve found, unless I want to spend around $700 for the project. I may have to.

If it’s going to be that expensive though, I might as well just install storm doors and be done with it.

Update, Tuesday: Good things happen when you ask questions. Since I was going to have to consult on possible installation anyway, I went in to Home Depot to ask preliminary questions, and walked out with a couple of these instead.

They mount with itty-bitty screws, but if Kitty Houdini looks to be getting the better of them I’ll drill itty-bitty holes through the doors and use itty-bitty machine screws and nuts and wide washers to better secure the grilles.

With a Rebel Yell

I cried, “Mow, mow, mow!”

The other day I was all set to have some more tractor time, but when I turned the key nothing happened. So now I can report that the new battery charger I bought a few months back, works.

While I was mowing the field today, a man came along on a big county tractor towing a huge mowing sledge and got the part of the field that is county right-of-way. If he had come by a half hour sooner he could have saved me a little work on one side of the driveway, but I hadn’t done the area near the mailbox where I put the trash barrels for pickup, so I was still glad to see him. Tipped my sweaty old cowboy hat and he waved back.

This tractor’s front wheels aren’t as big as the rear wheels, but they’re bigger than the front wheels on the ZTR, which makes the holes — we suspect armadilloes — less of a hazard. I still have to be careful, but the tire size, horsepower, and weight distribution mean I have a much better chance of backing out if I can’t continue forward.

There’s a feature I have yet to try that means I can keep the cutting deck operating in reverse, but I’d settle for having the deck restart automatically when I start forward again. Instead I have to push-and-pull the deck engage to restart. It’s still simpler than I think the cut-in-reverse feature sounds. I’ll have to try it out eventually though.

Now I’m going to go look at the product of my morning’s toil, and feel self-satisfied.