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This week in Rad Helicopter News

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Kenny Loggins - Danger Zone

Witness the power of this fully operational Lattice of Convenience.

As some people know, I've become relatively intense when it comes to hoarding archiving media of all kinds, and recently that means '70s and '80s TV shows, cleaning out all the box sets I can find from Goodwill and antique stores and ripping them. For some time Natalie and I have been toying with the idea of taking a day from a random '80s TV Guide and watching that day in TV shows.

In the last few weeks, we've also started to listen to Ken Reid's excellent TV Guidance Councillor podcast, and have decided there's no time like the present. And in fact, driven by Reid's format, we decided to do a whole week. We pretty much pre-planned the whole week, though in some cases I wasn't able to get the exact episode of a show, so we had to make due with something else from the series. We also decided to stick to the 3 major networks, since that's all either of us knew, living in the sticks and all.

We started with Saturday, January 7, 1984, with TJ Hooker, The Love Boat with Charo, and Fantasy Island with Vic Tayback, Katherine Helmand and Richard Hatch. Natalie decided she likes TJ Hooker, and so we'll hunt down more of those even though I killed the show because I tend to immediately ID "The Guy". Whoops. We just chose a Charo episode of Love Boat because I couldn't get the one from the day, and Charo is delightful at all times. We need more Charo.

On Sunday, we stuck largely with sitcoms, since we've seen things like the Knight Rider episode from that day. So it was Ripley's Believe it or Not, Alice, One Day at a time, and the Jeffersons. Ripley's and Alice were both harder to find than I would have thought. We had to settle for like the second episode of Alice, and just any Ripley's I could find.

Monday was a mix, starting with That's Incredible, then Newhart and Emerald Point N.A.S. Emerald Point /should/ have been an awesome show. Within the first 3 minutes you've got: MacGyver O'Neill. Crashing an F-14. Into a Cuban. How can that fail? By making it a soap opera, that's how.

Tuesday NBC took it all. A-Team, Riptide, Remington Steele. Natalie does like a good crime-fighting buddy-show, so there really wasn't any contest. I couldn't get excited about a late-season Three's Company or Happy Days.

Wednesday got us to hit ABC for The Fall Guy, then back to default NBC for a Very Special Facts of Life, Night Court and St. Elsewhere. As I remember, all Facts of Life were very special.

Thursday night was another NBC sweep. Gimme a Break!, Family Ties, Cheers, Buffalo Bill and Hill Street Blues.

Friday, ABC rounded it out with Benson and Blue Thunder, which we kind of loved. It was our second 'Copter-Based show after Riptide, and had me yelling at the TV most of the time.

We opted for Episode 1 of Blue Thunder, since the schedule had us watching Ep 2, and figured we'd start at the top. A maniac with a pre-Vietnam era light observation aircraft was flying over We-Can't-Call-This-LA shooting down police helicopters and even strafing the funeral of one of the pilots he killed. Obviously the answer to this isn't "send up two fighter jets immediately after the first incident to knock him out", it's "Regular LAPD cops need a stealth helicopter with a goddamn gatling gun mounted on it to fly silently around and light up bad guys". There was some confusion over organizational affiliation, since everything points to these guys being regular cops (right up to the annoyed Captain yelling "CHHHHEeeeneyyyyy!"), except Butkis or Bubba Smith were all "Freeze, Federal Agents". On the other hand, who cares, all I know is Darryl Gates would have given his right eye for one of these things in 1992.

So far, likes and dislikes:

As I mentioned, Natalie loves her some buddy-shows and dumb action and so she definitely wants more TJ Hooker, Hardcastle and McCormick and Remington Steele. Natalie also remembered how much she liked The Jeffersons and Newhart, though she was kind of "meh" on One Day at a Time. For that one, we watched both the "current" episode, and the first episode of the series, since this was the last season, and wasn't really "representative' in my mind. I think I'd get more Alice if we can. For as popular a show as it was, it seems pretty hard to find. Similarly, Benson and Webster, long running show, stupidly hard to get.

On the other hand though, Emerald Point Naval Air Station. Wow. Just. Jeez. I think Richard Dean Anderson had to do MacGyver and Stargate SG-1 just as penance for the existence of this show. I can't say for sure that the debt has been fully repaid.

Ripley's Believe it or Not and That's Incredible are kind of hard to find, and that's a shame, since we live in The Future and so it was fun to go look up the people on those shows for a "Where are they Now" running commentary between us.

This kid had a pretty decent career at one point.

This week of TV really does show how much we just wanted to be entertained in the '80s, versus everything having to be Real and Gritty as it is now. Sure there was Hill Street Blues, but there was also Magnum, Riptide and Hardcastle and McCormick. We weren't weighed down with SVU type bummers every week. I saw an analyst who chalks this up to Vietnam. In the same way that Magnum, coming back from Vietnam didn't want to process it, and chose instead to live as a large child for a little while, so the US chose to amuse ourselves with dumb escapism.

I can't say I disagree with that theory, since I'm basically doing just that right now. I'll take my Cylons toaster-headed and shelve the HD Edward James Olmos version until happier times.

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Go Mighty Corolla

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WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Stay tuned and wait. for. it.

Ok, so I had just gotten off of 128, and I wasn't going a thousand miles an hour, and there was no Stop 'n Shop, but there was a Wegman's. I threw RoadRunner on, because it's the very best song to finally break the 300,000 mile barrier on this rustbucket. Aaaaand, it didn't do it. Why yes, I am a sysadmin, why do you ask?

Just a bit further toward home though, I found a real Plymouth RoadRunner Superbird in a parking lot:

Natalie and I think it's this one right here.

So yeah apparently the odometer thing's A Thing with Toyotas from the mid-2000s. And they don't see it as a "design flaw" that every inspected car becomes illegal at 299,999 miles. It's like $500 to fix, apparently, which means it's still worth it to keep it on the road, but it is the second-costliest and absolutely the most pervasive and 100% predictable non-recall inspection-failing repair in this car's 14 year history.

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Lindstrom, Minnesota

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We're currently on a week-long road trip between Milwaukee and Minneapolis. Before we left, we mentioned our trip to Kari Lindstrom, proprietor of our favorite vintage and antique shop The Melamine Cup in Jaffrey, NH, and she mentioned there was a Lindstrom, Minnesota, so we decided we'd head up and see what's what.

So it was that at the end of a long day of Paisley Park, then the World's Largest Ball of Twine (as built by one man), we made our way for Little Sweden and made up there by around 4:00. Even still, we found a great antique store and got some fantastic handmade raised sugar and raspberry jelly donuts that took me straight back to when I was 4-5 years old getting donuts with my parents from a local bakery.

I did try really hard to get to The Sweet Swede to get something sweet for the sweetest Swede we know, but apparently it's not really a thing anymore. Fudge.

Natalie got some great pictures of this adorable vacation town:











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Stereo Slide Viewer Hack Proof of Concept

Music: 

Peaches - The Inch

Wherein there's some history, and a major pet project.

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Today In Donuts Annoying Me News

Music: 

Blur - Coffee and TV

For a couple years now, I've been telling Natalie that if I had a couple bucks and an inclination to build a thing or interact with people, I'd Do It Right. I'd make fresh donuts daily. If I worked at Red Arrow, I'd make the case that the absurd Milford, NH third shift should dedicate themselves to making bread for the rest of the day. Instead, they recently discontinued that shift.

So in that vein... I have a lot of music videos. To go with them, I've downloaded a bunch of '80s commercials for Nostalgia's Sake. Things like cereal, BMX bikes, Underoos, Schoolhouse Rock, and since you can guess I'm from the Boston market, Spags and Dunkin' Donuts.

At Spags, they'll save you money:

These old commercials, pre and post Fred, all tout the freshness of their product. It's the "Freshest you can buy". Then they stopped making donuts on site. There is no longer a fryer in the building at this point. I guess they nuke or salamander their croissant, bagel or muffin sandwich and formed eggs, I dunno they do something to make them hot, but none of this stuff could be mistaken for "fresh".

Sadly, I imagine that by and large, they were right. They /are/ the freshest donuts most people can get. Their 1980, Pre-Fred accusations that "most super markets donuts are made by machine" actually came about in my store in around 1994 or 1995. The day the woman* who fried and filled and decorated the donuts every day moved to Heath and Beauty Aids, which was coincidentally the day before /I/ learned to "make" donuts and muffins.

Muffins were from mix, + any other stuff like frozen blueberries, cinnamon apple chunks or cranberries or whatever else we'd mix in. Muffins were easy, but donuts were even easier. They came in frozen now, so all we did was heat 'em up, glaze them and put them out. We still glazed, filled, sugared, dipped them by hand, and the "baking" process wasn't that bad, they tasted fine, i guess. I never really ate them much. You tend not to want to eat muffins if you're covered in muffin mix for 5 hours every day. Now that I think of it, even though we were frying donuts daily, there's no way that wasn't just frozen dough that we bought in. Don't get the impression these were scratch-made, just rolled and fried on site. When I stopped making donuts and muffins, we had transitioned away form even making the muffins from mix, they now came in as frozen batter in muffin cups and plastic trays. We'd just move them to metal trays, bake 'em and serve 'em up. That was probably '95 or so at the latest.

The couple of times I've gone into Dunkin's (as it's now trying to rebrand itself officially) in the last 2 decades, I've come away with the impression that they don't even do that much anymore. I don't see that there's even room for a table to glaze and decorate anymore. Do donuts just come in all pre-filled and room temperature ready to put out? Like the Krispy Kremes at the convenience store?

There is still a good donut place in our town, but I imagine even they aren't actually scratch-making anything. It's just fresher than Dunkin's. Meanwhile I'm pretty sure the baker my parents went to in the '70s and '80s hand-made everything in his shop from scratch from donuts to birthday cakes.

* - Hey Millennials, here's some trivia: I remember the woman who made the donuts was about 23 or 24, and that she and her husband, who drove forklift as I recall, and with whom she owned a house, had managed to save enough in their water jug full of change to go on vacation in the Caribbean. Just sayin'.

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Antique Desk And Its Dazor Task Lamp

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This just made me unreasonably happy today, so I am gonna have to share it.

A couple of years ago we found an antique drafting table for pretty cheap money at a local shop, I think we maybe paid $200 or so for it. It had been used and taken very good care of for...80 years? Maybe more? It had a Kilroy on it. So we snatched it and replaced Natalie's less beautiful portable drafting table with it. It's a real monster, like 48" x 36", and great shape, well built, though it does have quite a twist to it. It'll last Natalie forever.

Since then, one problem she's had was getting an adequate task light. She had a plastic fluorescent arm-light, but it was nowhere near long enough to cover the new desk. And, you know face it, it looked like junk.

So the other day we were in another local consignment shop and I spotted a monster arm-light for $25. Natalie didn't like the look of the fact that it was fluorescent (will we be able to get bulbs...) and wasn't sure about the mount, since it didn't clamp, it looked like it screws to the desk. As is my way, I needled her for a couple days and let it work on her that she needed to check it out. No one's gonna stop making fluorescent bulbs, and even if they do, so we get an LED adapter, or just rewire it all the way to the plug for LED. Today she went back and grabbed it, and score, it was on sale, now $18.

We hadn't really looked at it, but turns out it's a Dazor from 1950. As we were trying to figure out how this was supposed to attach (none of the hardware was there), I figured we could get a couple of set screws with wingnuts and big ass washers, drill the desk (Natalie was not a fan), and just bolt it in.

So she started measuring up the distance between the screws, and found that they exactly matched the existing holes someone had already drilled in the desk. We were just re-uniting the drafting table with it's long-lost lamp!

The table top had to be turned around so the holes were at the back, so that was an hour well spent, but it all lined up and she dropped right in. Now it's at that point that I thought it was too cool and started writing this post. However, interesting bit of trivia, Dazor was founded by Harry Dazey, of the Dazey Churn and Manufacturing company in St. Louis. We happen to have a good-size collection of Dazey ice crushers, a can opener, and one of what's probably a small handful of portable stands that are left in existence. This makes Natalie super happy, because we've completed the Dazey set finally.

So here we are, desk, lamp, and ice crusher:

The thing that impresses me the most about this is that in the spare parts section on Dazor's site they list all the various switches and ballasts so you can repair your lamps. Not only are ours still fully in stock, but they've only got 7 listed switches and 5 ballasts, which I'm sure cover virtually every product they've ever made. Simplicity and rugged construction = happy customers forever.

Not only were these lamps built to outlive your granddad, and they did, obviously, but you can still get parts for 'em if they ever do let the magic smoke out! Right from the manufacturer. Try that with literally any other product, especially now. Man. I mean, I get that if you make a lamp, and that lamp lasts forever, then you never sell another one to that customer, and your company dies. But the other side of that coin is that you end up the standard in task lighting, forever, with multi-generational product loyalty.

We'll probably end up buying brand new Dazor lamps for spaces like our office workbench once it's built, and I fully expect them to last just as well as this one clearly has.

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Roadside America

Music: 

Natalie and I are on a kind of meta-road trip. We're not actually going to see The Thing, but we're seeing the roadside attractions which have sprung up around The Thing to amuse and draw in visitors.

Today we went to Roadside America, which is a massive O gauge model railroad layout. 6000 feet, assembled over 60 years of one Laurence Gieringer's life, from when he was 9 until he died.

Natalie took tons of photos, but I put up 3 short videos covering about 15% or so, along one short edge:

Mine, mountains, farms:

The zoo:

Midcentury Downtown:

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Geoguessr World Tour - Albino Reindeer?

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It's still the holiday week, so here's one I found today, if you want to see it yourself, it's right here. I don't know if white reindeer are a thing, but this one actually does look albino, it's pretty pink:







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Geoguessr World Tour - The Blurry Faced Man

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I'm with you, blurry faced man of Bloomsbury Square:

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My Life Is Going To Suck Without Net Neutrality

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There are so many things I do which are likely to suffer with Net Neutrality's loss.

I run my own mail, web and cloud sharing services on a VPS that I maintain. Owncloud syncs all my devices, I use IMAP and webmail. I also run lots of "consumer" stuff for myself. I own 2500 CDs which I've ripped and share for my own personal use. I have playlists. I can connect with DAAP from my phone, and listen to my own CD collection, music I have paid for, Spotify style. I know people are saying "Spotify will work just fine", but what if I don't want to use Spotify?

This is all encrypted, personal connections. Nothing illegal is happening here. I'm not filesharing or streaming Torrents or any other grey-area services. It's just all my personal stuff, owned and manually copied myself, sharing to myself. No one gets ripped off here.

I can plug my Amazon Fire stick or Raspberry Pi into any TV and use Kodi to stream my own MP3s or movies, etc. I can use it to watch Amazon Prime or Netflix as well. Kodi also has a wealth of plugins to watch content from sources such as the PBS website. We all can watch Nova, or Julia Child, or even Antiques Roadshow over the Internet, for free, legally. This may all suffer when backbone providers and local ISPs can both decide which packets have priority over other traffic. PBS could be QOS'd out of the budgets of millions.

(Note *)I don't own a Nest or any other IOT garbage, but I have toyed with the idea of building my own, running on infrastructure I build. I don't want Google to know what temperature my house is right now. And I don't want some mass hack of 500 Million Nest users or idiot IOT Lightbulbs to let some Romanian turn my furnace off in the middle of February either.

So yeah, losing Net Neutrality could effectively disable all of this. Small hosts like me could be QoS'd off of the Internet entirely, unless we pay extra /at both ends/. Pay my hosting provider to pay their backbone providers to QoS my address at a decent speed. Then pay my consumer ISP to QoS my traffic so I can reach "The Good Internet", like they have do in Portugal.

This is going to cut my lifeline to my own data, hosted by me on my own machines. Am I going to have to pay an additional "Get Decent Internet Access Beyond Google, Spotify, Facebook and Twitter" fee to the Hampton Inn just so we don't get QoS'd away from our own stuff? It's bad enough that the individual hotel can effectively do this already today, but the hotels are at least limited by the fact that they're in competition with each other and if they have ridiculously shitty Internet that you can't check your mail over, well people would notice that. Backbone providers pretty much have no such direct consumer accountability. No one's going to say "well, fuck that I'm not going to route over AT&T anymore", they might say "Hilton has shitty Internet, I'm going to Marriott".

Some of the most demoralizing part of this is that the rule-makers just don't get it. I already know they don't care, but former FCC Chair Michael Powell's statement, which boils down to "You can still use Facebook, (Amazon) Alexa, Google and Instagram, just like you can now" is missing the point either deliberately or purposefully. That most "consumers" will be fine isn't the point. The point is that everyone be equal, and all traffic be routed equally.

* The risk to my information is proportional to the value an attacker places on the information. Could a state actor target my email server and read my mail? Yeah, the Equation Group or Fancy Bear or some Eastern European ID theft ring could probably exploit some flaw in whatever software serves my VPS, or flat out order the ISP to give them access to my stuff, but why? What does the NSA gain by ransacking my mail server? Not much. How about criminal attackers? However they /would/ expose 1.5 Billion Yahoo accounts all at once, and have that entire corpus of mail to search against, plus passwords they could use to try and attack everyone's bank account all at once.

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