Category Archives: notebook

EFF member 2014

2014 members circle

I joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation this year. I agree with their mission, to protect the Internet against encroachment on the rights of free speech, fair use, innovation, PRIVACY, and transparency. Continue reading

Captured Lightning (Lichtenberg Figure) Sculptures – Gallery 1

I’m a nerd at heart, and I love interesting and unusual representations of the world that we live in. Thanks to a Facebook friend, I discovered the first piece of art that I actively want to own. These “Captured Lightning®” sculptures are exactly what it sounds like: Lightning “frozen” in acrylic, and they are amazingly beautiful.

I would love to have one of these some day.

Captured Lightning (Lichtenberg Figure) Sculptures – Gallery 1:

(Via Marc Bailey on Facebook.)

Why do we keep doing this?

Stupid leadership

Random thoughts


Over the past several weeks, I’ve been noticing some darker coloration on my toe where I had that nasty infection a few months back. I had initially thought that it was just random bruising from being on my feet at work. I spend a LOT of time on my feet these days.

Then, a couple of days ago, I stumbled across a picture that we had taken to document my foot as it got worse, and I realized that the discoloration was definitely not bruising. While my feet hurt all the time (dead shoes and overweight, combined with tile-over-concrete floors at work), the discoloration doesn’t have any particular discomfort to it. Rather, it pretty much outlines the worst of where the infection had formed the abscess, and runs down along the incision scar. I guess I have some permanent (at least, long-term) skin changes in that area. At least it doesn’t hurt like it did!


I am being thwarted in my attempts to get hired on with a local ambulance company. Unfortunately, it’s a saturated market, and a small one at that. I may need to start looking beyond Rockford, further out in the county, or even over in Boone County/Belvedere area. And that frustrates me.


I think that I’ve come up with an adequate backup solution for the home network. I don’t need anything for my computer, since I have an “older” Time Capsule, so that takes one full computer our of the need analysis. However, there are still four (five?) other people in the house who pretty much need some sort of backup: Erik, Kristen, Kirk, Tori (and Katie, who doesn’t have her own computer at the moment).

I’ve been looking for something that has cloud access (yeah, yeah, I know. Cloud security/privacy is questionable at best) and large capacity, for everybody, with relatively low cost. I think that the answer I’m looking for is the PogoPlug Office. The PogoPlug device acts as something like a NAS server, and is expandable to whatever you can get your hands on for drives. With two USB 3.0 ports, one 2.5 SATA/USM port, one USB 2.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port, there is plenty of room to expand.

I picked up a new/never used/in original packaging on eBay USB 3.0 drive (1.5 TB) for about $75. The PogoPlug Office allows for quasi-cloud storage (i.e the “cloud” is your own storage media, and is accessible either locally through the client software, or through the Internet and your home broadband router for sharing and access to backed up files, etc) for up to five separate user accounts. The device has an MSRP of about $150, but Rakuten/ has it available for just over $100.

I will be picking up one of these little gadgets when we get our tax return back, I think.

After further consideration…

The other day, I posted a question on a couple of related LinkedIn groups that I belong to. The question was, essentially, “where are the entry level Emergency Management jobs?” which came from the fact that most of the jobs that I see call for several years’ experience in the emergency management realm.

I got a number of insightful responses that talked about a variety of possible options, including volunteer work with the likes of Red Cross and working with local Emergency Medical System organizations.  I was also pointed to a University of Washington website article that talked about “Suggested Career Tips for Emergency Management”.

I may find it useful to go back and get an EMT ticket again, and do some volunteering that way. And I need to get my ham license upgraded, I think.

Product review: iStudiez Pro

A couple of years ago, I downloaded the iStudiez Lite app for my iPad in the hopes that I could use it to keep track of my schoolwork. At that time, I was using a Windows computer, and I don’t recall there being a desktop application for the Mac. I could be wrong, but I wasn’t a Mac user at that time. I discovered that the, while the data entry was a little tedious with the virtual keyboard, it worked well enough that I bought the iStudiez Pro app for a couple of bucks. 

iStudiez is geared to real classroom studies, as opposed to the virtual/online courses that I take. You can set up class/lecture meeting times, test/quiz/exam schedules and the entire set of assignments provided in your college syllabus very easily. They set up on a calendar in the application, but those schedules don’t propagate to the main calendar app on either the iPad or on my Mac. This is my biggest complaint about the application: I would like to see my assignments on my default calendar. There are a couple of other, minor things (sorting options, grouping options, “help” improvements, default data entry selections) that I would like to see, but none of these is a deal breaker by a long shot.

What really shines, though, is the iStudiez Pro desktop application. Yes, it’s “just” a desktop version of the iPad application, but it is much easier to navigate around with a mouse and keyboard. I leave it open and sitting in my Dock so that it keeps track of the number of items pending for the upcoming week. This is by far the best thing that I have used it for, since I have a moderately busy life between work, family,  external activities, and school. The iStudiez desktop app calendar can be set to show the events that are in iCal (the Mac desktop calendar app) so that you can see what all is happening on a given day. As I said, I would like to see this all on the iCal listing, but it’s something workable.

Once you set up the class profile with instructor info, assignment info, and test/quiz/exam schedule data, you can set the desktop to sync to the iStudiez cloud, and then with your portable device via Internet connection. This goes both ways, too. You can change data on the portable device and sync it to the cloud and onto the desktop application.

When setting up your classwork information, you can give it a weight and iStudiez can automatically track your score for you. You have to manually enter the weight, of course, but this is very simple to do.

I continue to learn new and more effective ways to use iStudiez as I take more classes. Part of this is because I didn’t read the guide that the creators put up online, and part of that is because several of the components of the application just aren’t quite intended for my online-only education.

All in all, between the desktop app and the portable app, I paid less that $10.00 for the works, and I’ve been well served by the tracking functions. I think that my grades have been improved because I haven’t missed assignments, thanks to the pending count on the Dock icon. iStudiez is not a perfect app, and it needs some more work, but it is VERY serviceable as it is, and I would highly recommend it for any student looking for a way to keep track of their classes, classwork, and grades. 

Planning on potatoes

Today’s goal is to develop a plan to grow somewhere around 60 – 80 pounds of potatoes in a staged or staggered harvest.

The idea is to start three or four groups of potatoes with a week or two between each, so that they have a chance to mature in sequence and we don’t get a too-large harvest all at one time. Since the spuds can take a lot of space, I won’t be planting them in the prepared beds, but rather in some sort of potato tower or (new) trash barrel container.

At this time, I’m thinking that I’ll be doing three or four stages of growing, so I’ll need at least the same amount of barrels or towers.

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