Time to Write

Damn it, it’s time to start writing again, before I get too old and feeble and forget how.

Sorry, still no comments. Last time I had them, it didn’t end well. Hopefully discussions on Facebook and Twitter will be sufficient.

Or the new WT.Social, from Wikipedia’s own Jimmy Wales. I’m ambivalent about it, but if you want to check it out, sign up, and friend me, you can do ALL of this for the low, one-time only price of clicking this link!

Finding Truth

According to Dictionary.com, triangulation is:

The location of an unknown point, as in navigation, by the formation of a triangle having the unknown point and two known points as the vertices.

When I studied history in college I had a professor tell me that the only way to discover the truth behind an event is to read three completely different interpretations of the same event. Somewhere in the middle of all these interpretations, you’ll find the truth.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to only listen to one viewpoint, one interpretation.  Listening to those who are like-minded and speak with one voice is less disruptive than seeking the truth.

DoS Attacks on Servers

flooded back yard

Linode, the company that provides the server I use for my sites has been under constant DoS (Denial-of-Service) attacks for days. Right at this moment, I can access my site and the Linode manager, but the London servers are supposedly all down. Tomorrow, the Dallas servers may get hit, again.

We haven’t heard why there’s such a persistent attack against Linode. The company maintains status updates, but isn’t providing any details.

I’m not leaving Linode. That would be like giving assholes a win. However, access to my sites may be erratic for a bit.

In other news…we didn’t get flooded because of the Missouri rains, though we did lose access to our plumbing capability for a few days. Our back yard was a wet and soggy mess, and our personal river and waterfall, River des Powers, was flowing freely. We were very lucky compared to many surrounding areas, where homes were flooded and freeways and roads shut down. House Member’s co-workers had commutes that hit 3 hours, one-way, last night.

Right now plumbing works, ground is dry, floods are receding, and I can write to my site again. Not a bad way to end 2015.

Happy New Year!

New Incarnation

flowers

I always make major site changes during the Christmas holiday. Traffic to my sites is at its lowest, and it just seems a good end-of-year task.

I wasn’t quite expecting that the Linode server where my site lives would crash right in the middle of the upgrade, but life isn’t exciting without the little challenges.

I decided to switch from Drupal to WordPress about the time when I decided I no longer had time to pursue PHP and CMS software tweaking, since my tech interests are focused on JavaScript, Node, Internet-of-Things (IoT), mobile, and DIY (microcomputers and microcontrollers). WordPress requires less time when all you want is a site where you can publish your writings.

30 Years Ago: Mount St. Helens

Thirty years ago I was living at my Dad’s in Yakima, going to college. That Sunday was a beautiful day, and Dad was outside in the garden as I was getting ready to go to work. I worked for a photographer, who had a studio in the Yakima Mall. I liked working Sundays. Sundays were always quiet, especially when the weather was nice.

I heard a loud boom but didn’t think much of it. Yakima was right next to a military training center, and it wasn’t too unusual to have a hot dog pilot break the sound barrier. Some minutes later, my Dad yelled for me to come outside. I ran out and saw this ugly dark brown/black cloud rolling towards the town. We knew that Mount St. Helen’s had erupted.

We ran inside and quickly shut everything up, as fast as we could. My boss called to jokingly tell me that I didn’t have to go into work. Little did we both know that the Mall didn’t shut down the air intake system quickly enough, and when we were able to get into the studio three days later, all of my employer’s cameras would be ruined.

The day suddenly begins to turn into night. The ash started falling all around us. It was quiet, except for the ash, which made a slight hissing sound when it fell—like a snake who is only going through the motions. We turned the TV on, finding it interesting to see our quiet little town being the top story for most of the major networks. The President flew by. We waved.

My cat was still outside. Well, I say “my” cat, but Bonzo was really Dad’s cat—a case of love at first sight between those two. I thought he would come back when he saw the cloud, but evidently, the ash must have panicked him. I told my Dad I had to go find him. Dad was torn between wanting to keep me inside, and being worried about Bonzo. Go find him, Baby Doll, he said, But don’t stay out too long.

Yes, he called me Baby Doll. Dad’s been dead a few years now—I don’t mind telling you he used to call me Baby Doll.

I put on a plastic raincoat I bought on a lark, once, and never wore. It ended up being a perfect cover for the ash fall. I wet a handkerchief to wrap around my nose and mouth, though it didn’t work as well as I hoped.

Walking through the streets, looking for my cat, was like walking on the moon. The ash was very fine but so persistent. It covered everything, though it slithered off the plastic of my coat. After about half an hour, I couldn’t handle the ash anymore and came home— hoping Bonzo would be smart enough to find cover.

During the day, the ash cloud would sometimes thin out, leading us to hope the worst was over. Then the ash would thicken, the day darken again. I must admit to being more than a little worried about how long the ash would fall. Would we be evacuated if it fell for days?

Were we in danger?

Towards evening, we heard a faint meow at the back door. I opened it, and there on the step was a mound of ash with two brilliantly blue, and really pissed off eyes. Bonzo had made it home.

The ash fell throughout the day and into the evening. The darkness was oppressive, the acrid smell overwhelming at times. Sometime during the night, though, it finally stopped. When we woke the next day, we woke to another world. Ash covered everything.

I used to smoke in those days. I had run out of cigarettes, and we also needed milk and some other odds and ends. We couldn’t drive because of the ash, but there was a neighborhood store a couple of blocks away. I knew the store would be open—you’d have to bury that store under lava for it not to open—so I again donned my plastic coat and set off.

If the walk during the ash fall was unnerving, the walk the next day was surreal. You could see tracks of animals, including that of a bee that had become so weighted down, all it could do was squiggle along the sidewalk. Bird tracks, cat tracks, other small critters—no people though.

People were out and about, primarily shoveling ash off roofs, because the weight was enough to cause some real concerns. Others, seemingly indifferent to the effects of mixing ash and engine, were out driving, and their cars would send up clouds of acrid dust. Some of our more enterprising neighbors built a speed bump of ash mixed with water, which worked pretty good until the street crews knocked it down.

For the next three months, we cleaned up ash. In the beginning, we wore a lot of masks, and some folks took off for ashless climes. Silly, really, because bad stuff happens everywhere. If you’re going to leave a place, you leave it before the bad stuff happens. Otherwise, you’re just moving from bad stuff to bad stuff, like a ball in a pinball machine.

My Dad used some of the ash from around our place to mix into cement for a new sidewalk. Other people created souvenir statues from the ash. I bought a t-shirt that said something about the mountain and Yakima, but I can’t remember the words now. Probably something that seemed clever then, but would be stupid, now.

A day by day account at the Yakima Herald Republic.

St. Louis Today photo gallery.