99%(!) of Entergy Texas’ customers are apparently without power right now. I wish they’d actually put some effort into preparing the lines for severe weather and streamlining the repairs, instead of letting the whole thing fall apart and then getting the state legislature to approve yet another “Hurricane Cost Recovery Charge” to be added to everyone’s bills to pay to return everything to the same “ready to fail at the next batch of severe weather” state…How do I get in on this deal?
Being without air conditioning in southeast Texas this time of year is almost intolerable. If they manage to restore service quickly despite my cynicism, I’ll probably feel a lot less cranky…
On the upside, it appears there should be some scenic carnage visible out on the lake if I manage to get some time to get out and paddle around a while between bouts of moving bits of broken tree around the yard. Here’s a sample shot taken from the shore of Lake Conroe earlier today:
Continue reading I WANT MY FRIGGIN’ ELECTRICITY!
There’s some indication that Ike may be starting to curve more quickly towards the East, which would be a good thing. If Ike passes to our East, we should be in the lowest wind/fewest tornadoes part of the storm.
By the way, am I the only one wondering why the news reports feel compelled to make their weather reported stand there on location in the middle of the hurricane? “I’m standing here in the middle of the street a few miles from Galveston, and as you can see on your screen, hurricanes are windy. Also, wet. Back to you, Fred…”
I’m wondering what happens if the storm floods the sewers and they have to report on that. “I’m standing here hip deep in filth…”
Other than a couple of flickers, power is currently still on and internet it still live. Hopefully it’ll keep up. If we’re lucky and Ike ends up crawling past far enough to the east, we might, maybe, escape without serious power outages…
I’ll probably post again “tomorrow” (well, after sunrise today anyway…) if internet and power are still up when I get up.
(Click image for Wunderground.com’s interactive “Wundermap”…)
Actually, looking more closely at the picture there I think we may be slightly further west than it indicates, but it’s still very likely we’ll end up losing power for a while sometime tonight, but I still am going to try to get a post up for the Giant’s Shoulders blog carnival – I’ve got the paper picked out and read, I just need to do a write-up before I go to bed tonight. Currently it looks like the winds shouldn’t get TOO bad until late tonight/early-tomorrow-morning so we ought to have power long enough…
Yes, there’s a disturbingly severe hurricane “Comin’ right for us!” and I’m worrying about posting about a classic scientific paper before the blog-carnival deadline while I still have power. How’s THAT for dedication?
First we need to move stuff inside, though. I don’t want The Ascospore getting blown away…
Today’s batch of blog-based Stir-Fried Random includes another interactive map of a lake-spanking expedition, a very brief musing on search engines, and a return to “intentional food microbiology” discussion. To preview: you can get pizza without ever getting out of the water on Lake Conroe, “spanking” is amusingly popular for search engines, and no, there is not normally any yeast in ice cream, but perhaps there could be. Read on, please…
Continue reading Aqua-pedestrianism and Ice Cream Yeast
Lake Conroe has been persistently naughty. Since nobody else seemed to be taking responsibility for its misbehavior, we took matters into our own hands yesterday and gave it a good spanking. I paddled it until I got blisters.
I think this will need to be done much more often, since I don’t think the lake has learned its lesson yet. On the other hand, I learned a few – interactive photo-map and details below…
Continue reading Lake-spanking map and pictures
Sorry about having another brief bout of blogstipation. We’ve finally managed to close on a house and now we’re probationary Texans (y’all). I’ve been spending the last week+ driving back to SE Idaho (by way of Best Friends, since we now have room to hire a second dog to hopefully keep Cornelia the Laser Dog company. I’ve got to lug 3 cats (and one goldfish in a small fish tank) a distance of 1600 miles or so starting in about 6-8 hours. Wish me (good) luck.
After the weekend, I should have some time to get back to the real posts. The Mountain Dew Wine was virtually unfermented when I returned, even after sitting there 10 days, but since I’ve gotten back it’s started going. Still slowly – the bubbler spits out 3-5 bubbles ever 40 seconds or so – but it’s going. It’ll be interesting to see what I end up with. I wanted to do 2-3 posts on the effects of benzoic acid on yeasts (that’s the preservative in Mountain Dew®), and I would swear I had one or two others in mind. Oh, yes, and an update on getting a Magellan GPS replacement that can actually be used – they seem to have located a slightly lower-end model eXplorist that they can send me. I sent them back their “walled garden”-based Triton 500, so the replacement unit ought to show up next week, I think. Their service has been pretty good, at least.
Well, the good news is that after calling their support line and trying the three-button-reset ritual that I hadn’t known about, my Magellan eXplorist 600 is still completely dead. They did not give me any hassle about replacing the unit, they just gave me an RMA number. My dead eXplorist was sent to their “Repair” center in Fort Worth, TX this afternoon. A replacement should arrive in about a week to a week-and-a-half.
The bad news is that Magellan has discontinued the $350 eXplorist 600 (and the rest of the eXplorist line) and insists that they can only offer their newer $250 Triton 500 as a replacement. I’ll withhold judgement on whether to be ticked off at the $100 of retail value that is being lost here until I see the specifications. It looks at first glance that the basic capabilities really are pretty much the same, so it may turn out okay…except for the most important feature by far, which I originally chose the eXplorist for in the first place: documented data formats.
The Triton series GPS’s appear to use a bizarre, undocumented file format, completely different from the documented format of the Meridian and eXplorist models. This means that as of right now, a Magellan Triton owner is not permitted to work with their OWN DATA without going through a proprietary, Microsoft-Windows-only GUI package, which ironically apparently uses GPSBabel to do file conversion. GPSBabel doesn’t support the Triton formats since there is no information available on how to read and write them yet. Since I have no Microsoft Windows machines anywhere, this means the shiny new Triton 500 (which I – seriously – can’t stop thinking of now as the “Magellan Vista”) will be nothing more than a highway map that requires batteries unless their proprietary “VantagePoint” software will run under WINE.
I’m hoping that they’ve merely been busy and will soon get around to adding this units specifications to their “Interface Solutions” information. This is where the openly-published file format (and communication protocol) specifications which were highly (and rightfully) praised by the GPSBabel project are made available for the now-abandoned Meridian and eXplorist units. If the GPS data I work so hard to obtain remains locked inside the proprietary format, only accessible at the whims of Magellan and Microsoft, I’m going to be extremely peeved. If, on the other hand, GPSBabel soon gets the information necessary to add support for the Magellan Triton line, the only serious complaint I have with all this will go away. Honestly, if I can at least get enough documentation to write my own simple waypoint, track, and route reader for their Triton files I’ll be happy.
I think a real, old-fashioned letter, printed on dead tree and everything, mailed to their corporate HQ is called for…
Anybody out there have any experience dealing with Magellan corporation? I’d like to think they want to do the right thing…
A couple of months ago I traded up from my Garmen etrex Legend to a Magellan eXplorist 600. I wanted to get away from Garmin due to a couple of irritating limitations that they seem to cling to (like losing your timestamps if you save an individual track, lack of SD card support, and dropping NMEA data support “to support [their] software” [see the review in Make #1]). So far, I’ve been pretty pleased with the shiny new Magellan. Though their software (as usual) only works on Microsoft Windows, I didn’t buy it for the software, and GPSBabel handles the data conversion of the files just fine.
So, naturally, now that I’ve just started blogging with the track data I’ve been recording with it, it has died on me. Yesterday – worked fine. Today – won’t turn on or respond in any way.
The good news is that I DID register the thing online at Magellan corporation’s website, and it’s supposed to have a 1-year warranty. Support’s only available Monday-Friday, though, so I’ll have to wait until Monday to see a response to my support query. Wish me luck. I’ll post updates in case anyone is interested in how Magellan responds.
In other news, “BigC” followed up on my previous queries about digital microscopes and Linux, saying that the manufacturer is now offering a Linux-compatible version of their AM311S model (the Linux-compatible one is the “AMU311S”) by special-order. Only goes up to 200X magnification, though, so it’s not real useful for my microbiological purposes. I can’t say the manufacturer of these digital scopes is impressing me much, but BigC certainly seems to be going out of their way to give good service.
There’ll be at least one other post later today – I wanted to get some more “classic” microbiology papers blogged before the day was up. Kirby-Bauer or Schaeffer-Fulton?…
Time to take the special-needs kitty to the vet for boarding and gas up Flagella (yes, I named my car Flagella) and hit the road. By popular (i.e. more than zero people) demand, here’s my route (again, RSS readers will need to come to the website to see the map). Wish me (good) luck.
ID to TX [height=480;width=560]
No single topics to dominate a post today. I’m in a hurry (as usual lately) and have very little time. Tomorrow morning I’m back on the 1600-mile route back to Southeast Texas, hopefully to sign the closing paperwork on the house we’re trying to buy.
My Mountain Dew® Wine appears to be still sitting there after several hours. Either the benzoic acid is still inhibiting the fermentation (in which case it’ll go REALLY slowly) or the yeast is just in shock or something. We’ll see how it looks in the morning. I’ll leave it for a week or so anyway to see how it does. Meanwhile I’ll refrigerate the other batch of yeast culture until I get back. If I have to develop my own strain of “Mountain Dew Yeast” I will, dagnabbit!
I did get a chance to go for a quick walk in the Big Room on the way back from some errands yesterday, so it gives me an excuse to play with the wordpress map plugin again (RSS feed readers: the map doesn’t get inserted there. Please check out the interactive map at the blog’s website here.) Comments on the map (or anything else, really – I DID say “Open Thread” after all) are encouraged – what do you think? I’d like to do some audio content for points on a map at some point, too. Maybe some video.
Lava Rock Walk [height=560;width=560]
If anyone’s bored enough to want to see how I get from Southeast Idaho to Southeast Texas, I can post a map of that tomorrow, too…