Friday, September 30, 2016

Rainy Days and Longevity

So roofer came by to do his inspection. Definitely need new roofing all around.

Now to wait to see what the estimate is and whether it all fits within my rainy-day savings or if I have to finance. If I have to finance, I'll probably look to see how much bigger the loan would have to be to accommodate a solar install.

Was kind of funny - if a bit sobering: the estimator had forgotten to leave us with the swatch-book of shingles. When he came back by to correct that oversight, he was showing me the different categories and says to me, "I personally wouldn't splurge on the 'premium' shingles," to which I replied, "my goal, in all of this, is to not have to worry about putting another roof on this house till I'm eligible to collect full social security: I'll be 47 this January". He responded back that I definitely wouldn't need the premium shingles/roofing materials since everything was guaranteed for well longer than 20 years.

One of the funny things about being in the back half of my 40s: I need to start weighing so many more decisions against actuarial likelihoods:

  • Will this roof repair last me at least as long as I plan to be working
  • Is it likely that this new doctor/dentist/etc.will still be in practice for as long as I need their services
  • Does it make sense to buy this new appliance now, or wait "X" years so that its likely end of life will be sometime after I've retired and moved away
And it all ties back to the realization that, even if I live to be 90, I've got less years ahead of me than I do behind me. Right now, for the more ahead than behind to happen, I'd need to live to be 93 or so. In which case, even if I've planned my savings appropriately for a typical lifespan, I'll likely have outlived those savings-plans.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I Didn't Mean It Literally

2" of rain early Monday morning. Another couple inches last night. Forecast is calling for another 2-5" of rain each of the next several days.

Open door, yesterday, and get dripped on as I'm passing through the door frame. Rainwater is dripping from the (rain-swollen) interior-trim around my door frame.

Today, during one of the not-actively-raining periods (and while light enough to still see well), I get out a ladder and try to sort out how the water's getting in. Find that the moisture's coming from the roof-line. Step out into the yard to look at the roof over our foyer. Looks like the roof is ever so slightly sagging in one spot. Roof is 14+ years old (we moved in in 2002). I guess it's not unexpected that it might have age-related sagging. Unfortunately, the slight sagging looks like it might be allowing some capillary action up under the shingles and then between the backing plywood (at least when it's raining so heavily that the rain sheets on the roof).

I have rainy-day savings ...but this is a little too literal requirement for their use.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dammit, Jerry's

I am not ordering every week - least of all the same thing every week - just so I can shortcut my order by using "recent orders".

Just keep my overall order-history and let me pull from that. If you have to prune, set some kind of multi-month expiry-horizon (or even better: a one-year horizon).

If I'm ordering fast food for delivery, it's because I'm LAZY (and full of self-loathing, but nevermind that): don't make me have to apply effort just to re-order something a couple months later.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Views from the Fence

Down side to being on the centrist side in your group of friends:
  • Conservative friends/acquaintances/etc. are screaming bloody murder about Comey's gutlessness
  • The HRC-at-any-cost friends/acquaintances/etc are of the blindered mind-set "see: she didn't do anything wrong!"

As per usual, the truth lay somewhere in the middle ...and you're not going to get it just from reading the headlines.
  • To my more conservative friends/etc: no, Comey isn't rewriting laws and ignoring the seriousness of HRC's actions.
  • To my more HRC-oriented friends/etc: no, Comey didn't say that HRC did nothing sanction-worthy - as much as most of the media outlets might like to make true by allusion.
To both groups, I'd say, "read the full text of Comey's statement". Read the whole thing. Pay attention to the level of detail. Then, if that is not enough, pay attention to the fourth-to-last paragraph:
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
That's not Comey saying "there was no crime here". That's not Comey rewriting laws to let HRC off scot-free.That's Comey going to the very edge of what's generally allowed in these types of statements. He's going to that edge to say "if this were a less-privileged offender, there would be real sanctions" and that "there was wrong-doing, but, the expense of prosecuting it versus the likelihood of achieving a meaningful outcome means that I can't recommend undertaking those expenses" (where "expense" is measured both in financial terms and in political-capital).

For me, this goes back to the "trust" issue that even HRC acknowledged (granted, in a way that indicated that she felt it was a problem with voters rather than her own conduct). It goes back to the shadiness - supposedly ghosts of the past - that was evidenced in Bill Clinton's recent decision to pop-in on Lynch's airplane at Sky Harbor. I don't consider myself particularly right- or left- on the political spectrum - I just believe that laws and regulations should apply equally (whether you're a politician, a cop or "little people"). When people act - probably rightly - that rules (in particular the associated consequences) aren't for everyone, it destroys my ability to trust them.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Noisy Passage

Witnessed an amusing spectacle, as I was leaving work, today.

I'm walking down the long, tiled hallway that leads to the lobby of the office I frequently work in. Behind me, I start to hear, "PLAP! PLAP! PLAP! PLAP! PLAP!". Eventually, a late twenty-something comes "running" past me.

Note: I put running in quotes because he wasn't traveling significantly faster than me, just much more loudly.

As he passes by, I notice that the cause of the "PLAP!" sound is that he is attempting to run in leather-soled business shoes. His lack of speed - for all his clamor - is due to a combination of the shoes not being well-suited to any form of running and the fact that the tile floor gave his leather soles little in the way of meaningful purchase with which to propel himself.

Making matters worse, he was wearing a backpack while running. By itself, the wearing of the backpack would have been of little note. However, it was so loosely secured that with each bounding-stride (seriously: dude had more vertical travel than forward), that it was bouncing and flopping all over the place. As it flopped and bounced, it contributed a fwipping nylon and buckles sound to the rest of his noisy run.

The thing to complete this picture was that he was wearing a poorly-tailored suit. The suit was so loosely-fit that it, too, was bouncing around much like his backpack. I imagine that, had there not been so much other noise in his passage, that the rustling of the suit's synthetic fabrics would have been making their own din.

It was nearly 15:00 and traffic leaving our business campus becomes horrible not much after. I was similarly inclined to get out as quickly as I could (I usually leave at 14:00) to avoid the trial of incipient rush-hour traffic. So, in his defense, I could understand the rush to get out of the building. Still, for all the sound and fury, the effective pace meant he wasn't likely to be avoiding a meaningful amount of traffic.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Why I tell anyone wanting to mail me something "don't send it via USPS"

Wife ordered a box of gothery from some online shop (overseas, I think). Instead of sending it via FedEx or UPS, they sent it via registered mail. Wife got notification that the item was out for delivery, today.

Wife waits all afternoon for the postie to show up. He does, but, "no package." She asks him if he had any packages waiting in his truck and is informed that there was a package that had a bad code on it that was back at the substation - that she could go down and check to see if that was her package.
Wife walks down to the substation. Upon asking where her package was, they informed her that it had been delivered around 14:00. Wife had been sitting out on her sun-chair on the front porch from about 13:30 to nearly 16:00. No package had been delivered. So, she asks _where_ it was delivered to and who signed for the supposed delivery. She's informed that they won't be able to know until the carrier gets back to the station.

As it stands, Amazon already has it in their records to not use any shipping methods that leverage USPS. Thus, no USPS-direct nor things like FedEx SmartPost. They agreed to this notation after the third so-shipped multi-$100 order disappeared without a trace.
All of my bills and important documents are either delivered via email or are sent in concert with an email notification of pending delivery.

Simply put, if things are sent via USPS, there's about a 70% chance that they'll arrive ...or, at least, arrive on time. Usually, when they arrive late, it's because they were mis-delivered and the recipient was nice enough to bring it over or was nice enough to give it back to the postie on his next trip. But mostly, they just disappear, never to be seen again.

Seriously: how fucking hard is it to deliver mail. Is it really so fucking hard to read the entire goddamned address?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

They Just Don't Get It (Or: Magical-Thinking Strikes Again)

Earlier this week, I wrote to my state Senators to express my disapproval of the forthcoming Burr-Feinstein encryption bill. Today, I got back a form response ...not that I was expecting a personal response - it's not like I'm a million-dollar donor:
Dear Mr. Jones,
     Thank you for contacting me regarding digital security and encryption policy. I appreciate hearing your views on this complex subject, which involves multiple competing security interests.

     While the debate over government access to encrypted communications has long been a contentious subject, the issue has received increased attention and scrutiny in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino and, more recently, the ongoing legal battle between Apple Inc. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over access to the iPhone of one of the alleged perpetrators of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. As these attacks showed us, terrorists have become increasingly sophisticated in their use of technology. Social media platforms have become prominent tools for recruitment and radicalization. And when individuals show interest in terrorists' cause, they move their communications to encrypted applications and other secure platforms to evade detection. This presents an extraordinary security challenge for the United States and our allies, leading to warnings by law enforcement officials that conventional tools to track and apprehend these criminals have become increasingly ineffective.

     Frustratingly, there are no easy answers. The same tools that terrorists and criminals are using to hide their nefarious activities are those that everyday Americans rely on to safely shop online, communicate with friends and family, and run their businesses. On top of that, technological innovation changes rapidly and, frequently, beyond the reach of U.S. law. Thousands of new apps are submitted to mobile apps stores daily, most of them utilizing some level of encryption, and a majority of them are developed overseas. Moreover, the fundamental architecture of the Internet is a decentralized and resilient one.

     In order to better understand the issues we're facing and explore potential solutions, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and I introduced S.2604/H.R. 4651, the Digital Security Commission Act of 2016 on February 29, 2016. This legislation would create a national commission on security and technology challenges in the digital age. The Commission would convene a body of experts representing all of the interests at stake so we can evaluate and improve America's security posture as technology — and our adversaries — evolve.

     Our proposal will convene the brightest minds from the technology sector, the legal world, computer science and cryptography, academia, civil liberties and privacy advocates, law enforcement and intelligence to collaboratively explore the intersection of technology and security.

     This would not be a group of politicians debating one another. Nor would the commission be like other blue-ribbon panels, quickly established but soon forgotten. Rather, it would be charged with generating much-needed data and developing a range of actionable recommendations that can protect privacy and public safety. That is why this commission has been endorsed by a wide range of stakeholders – from the technology sector, to respected academic and legal experts, and distinguished national security figures.

     The threats we face with regards to digital security are real. They will not be met easily or dispensed with quickly. But I have no doubt that we are capable of overcoming these challenges if we convene the brightest minds in our country and work together.

     Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at

United States Senator
So, while the form-mail isn't saying "I plan to vote for this (Burr-Feinstein) important bill", the text really isn't any less disturbing.

The "best minds" thing, by itself is disturbing. The "best minds" have already very publicly told you that what's being asked for isn't possible. Or, more specifically/technically-correct - it's not possible to both make encrypted data accessible to law enforcement without also making it as easily accessible to entities seeking illegal access. But never mind that, they're apparently just not trying hard enough! Technology is fucking magic and if one bit of magic is possible, any given bit of magic is possible if we just wish hard enough.

Even better is the farce of "we'll get a group of all the stakeholders together to work on this." There have been many such "gatherings of stakeholders to solve a difficult problem" exercises. Usually, the way it works out is that the differences between the stakeholders are irreconcilable. Then, the process either completely falls apart or the stakeholders who just aren't trying hard enough are dropped from the process or otherwise ignored. Only one outcome is acceptable - soundness of that outcome be damned.

So, with all due respect, Mr. Warner (or whichever drone you had compose this steaming pile of response), you're a completely clueless fucking tool. You are not worthy of being in a position to make decisions that affect the security of my personal data. You are not worthy of being voted for.