All posts by Rolf

Short shelf report

I stopped in at a Fred Meyer (PNW chain) to pick up a few things on the way home from my sister’s place Sunday afternoon. Paper products and cleaning supplies had a lot of empty shelf space, but they were not totally out of TP. They were pretty low on some staples like eggs and milk. LOADS (numerous pallets filled in the display aisle places) of bottled water. Parking lot was less full than I expected. They had a Purel wipe dispenser by the shopping carts so you could wipe it down before use – it’s possible that it isn’t a new item and is just getting a lot more notice and use these days, it’s not a specific store I normally visit. Corona Beer was on sale. People were generally keeping reasonable distances apart.

One thing I noticed on the drive was that a lot of places were still open, contrary to expectations. Car dealerships. Espresso stands. Marijuana shops. I expected gas stations and grocery stores and restaurants (to-go only), but not an auto-parts store or oil-change place. Be interesting to know what percentage of business are claiming to be “critical infrastructure” and just being “really careful.”

“With” versus “from”

One of the puzzling things about Covid-19 has been filtering through the reporting of various reports -economic, medical, political, etc.- trying to get a proper understanding of what the risks really are. But even evaluating the actual medical risks based on reported death rates has been nearly impossible to make sense of until I came across an article that reminded me of a common complicating factor in understanding gun/murder stats. Continue reading “With” versus “from”

A swiftly shifting world

I expected a lot of blame throwing and politicizing of events, but the brazenness of some of it is surprising. Everywhere that has government-run healthcare (like CHINA) shortages and inefficiencies are the norm, yet when we are not at shortages YET people are already saying that it is TRUMP’S response that will result in death panels, and a government take-over of healthcare is going to be required to stave off the worst effects. When he imposed travel bans he was called racist, now that we have dead they say he could have done more (but they never really say WHAT, given the information and political reality at the time). They accuse him of being a fascists (like it’s a bad thing) while demanding the Federal government require all manufacturers to build ventilators and medical equipment, and require all healthcare facilities to have a stockpile of such things on hand (like that would be a good thing)… which is a centrally run/planed privately-owned economy… which IS FASCISM, economically-speaking! Man, the lack of self-awareness and critical thinking by some people is staggering. Continue reading A swiftly shifting world

Working from home

It’s a small change, in some ways. Big in others.  I work at a small private school, and as it turns out it’s not very hard to teach a class remotely. We have had the capability to use Google Hangout or Meet to conduct classes with students who are absent because of sickness or while they are traveling, as long as they have a web connection and a web-cam (which most laptops do these days). So, most of us can carry on as before, but from home. Clean up a bit of space to use as an office background for our own webcam connection, and avoid the commute. No possible chance of contagion if they are in their home and I’m in my home office space. Every meeting can be recorded (a variety of benefits to that), and you avoid the commute (which is pretty mellow now). Labs are a bit harder, but the curriculum has dry-lab data that can be used, and some are quite possible to do in any reasonable home setting. Continue reading Working from home

Plague Year, 02

Most retail sources are out of anything even remotely useful to a bio-weapon / plague outbreak. Protective masks and tyvek suits, replacement filters, sanitizers and “roll-your-own” ingredients such as alcohol, etc., are sold out. Scalpers / arbitrage agents who bought a huge quantity hoping to resell it at a major markup are being (rightly or wrongly) shut down and pilloried in the media. Continue reading Plague Year, 02

Komenagen (and general book) question

A quick couple of questions:

How much more likely are you to listen to an audio book than read an ebook or paper book? That is, how much demand is there really? In a recent conversation with a publisher he said that he saw several times more audio book sales for a title than ebook, and physical was nearly nonexistent. I don’t do audio books beyond lectures from The Learning Company’s “Great Courses” series, and am interested to know if I need to pursue that hard, or not, for my particular readership.

Secondly: How important would illustrations for a YA title like Komenagen: Slog be? Illustrations are expensive, but they definitely add to the charm of a physical book, particularly ones aimed at a younger market segment. Would it be enough to chip in a few bucks ahead of time to get it done?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Computer build

Now for something totally different. A computer build for the gamer-kid and I. He’d like better game-play, I’ve found that attempting to do video-editing on an older machine is, er, rather painful. Getting OpenShot to smoothly play even a small sample vid was choppy, and a 3-minute clip might take 5 to save as a final version to look at, and then another 5 in Handbrake to compress it to a reasonable size. A 15-min piece? Time enough to go make dinner. So, with that two-part goal in mind, I started shopping at and Amazon, while reading various articles and watching many videos and comparing features and possibilities at and Passmark. It took a little while. Continue reading Computer build