Tuesday, June 23, 2020

My Favorite Sayings ...

I've collected these few gems over the years ...

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Ralph Waldo Emerson said: 

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and lived well.”

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God grant me … 
the strength to change the things that I can change,
the tolerance to accept the things that I cannot change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

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From the Persian poet Rumi, 

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

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Remember this when trying to teach someone who won't listen or learn:
It's like trying to teach a pig to sing ...It wastes your time and it irritates the pig.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

99% to 70% Alcohol

Standard 70% rubbing alcohol is in short supply right now ... I most recently checked Walgreens, CVS, and Wal-Mart, and all were out.  So I stopped in at the distillery down the street from me as they are making hand sanitizer (like many are right now) and I thought I'd buy some (didn't need it, but thought I should make sure I have some).  

While chatting, I told them that 70% isopropyl is in short supply and they volunteered that they buy 99% isopropyl as part of their production process ... so they sold me a gallon.  But 99% pure isn't all that valuable "as is" as it doesn't kill bacteria very well (lots of articles about why, so I won't go into detail).  

So I wanted to reduce it to 70% and re-fill the 3 partial bottles I have of 70%.  So the formula (without getting into all the math) is:

4 parts water, then 9.7 parts 99% isopropyl gives you 70% isopropyl.  If you want easy math, then:
4 parts water, then 10 parts 99% isopropyl gives you 70.7% isopropyl ... but weaker is probably best, so ...
4 parts water, then 9 parts 99% isopropyl gives you 68.5% isopropyl

And yet another way ... you want a quart of 70% isopropyl, then it's 9.34 ounces of water and 22.65 ounces of 99% gives you a quart of 70% isopropyl.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How to Win on eBay ...

DISCLAIMER:  I HAVE NO FINANCIAL INTERESTS IN ANY WEB SITE MENTIONED HERE.

We've all had it happen ... you find something you want on eBay and then lose it in the last few seconds of "open bidding".  While frustrating, it's easily fixed.

eBay veterans call it "sniping" ... you wait until the last 3 seconds of the "open bidding" window and put your bid in just as it closes.  This way, you "sneak in" under the wire and take it from someone who isn't right there at their computer.

You can, however, buy software that will do that for you on your computer.  I used to use that, but it's a maintenance hassle.  No now I've found a BETTER way ... it's an on line service that does it for you ... called MYBIDDER.COM.  


You setup an account and it verifies that the name and password are correct.  Then, you simply put in the item number and max bid, and within a set number of seconds before it closes, the software puts in your bid to steel it away from others.  I won't say it's 100%, but my win rate has gone WAY up.






Thursday, April 30, 2020

Website wants to show notifications ... ALLOW or BLOCK

Seems that everytime you go to a web site, it ways "such and such website wants to show notifications" and you get to ALLOW or BLOCK.  I find that so irritating ... and even if you tell them BLOCK on Monday, by Wednesday, they are asking yet again.


To solve that, there is a plug-in called "No Thanks" that blocks this annoying feature.  And the owner will even do "specials" for you (for example, I download some torrents and the search engine I use always pops up an advertisement for their VPN service.  For 10 Euro's, he stopped it.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I HAVE NO FINANCIAL INTEREST OR OBLIGATION TO THE OWNER OR SERVICE.  I'm just a happy customer.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Why we Love Larry Hogan

You've probably heard of "the Metro" ... the subway system that serves DC, Maryland, and Virginia (the DMV).  Each line has a color assigned, and every budget item needs to be approved by the leaders of the DMV.  Well, Gov. Hogan earned my respect when he said he'd veto the Metro Expansion for the Purple Line ... said it was too expensive and we could not afford it.  So what happened ???  The steering committee cut back on a few stops to make it "affordable" ... so then Hogan approved it, saying "now THAT we can afford". 

Then when he disagreed with Ass-Hat Trump, well, couldn't love him more.

He's been very public with his cancer battles ... In 2015, Hogan revealed he’d been fighting skin cancer and appeared in public with his white mane gone and bandages on his face. “Before you get into speculation about what the other guy looked like, I wanted to tell you about it,” he joked.

Image result for larry hogan bandages

Man's got a sense of humor !!!

But what impressed me most, I think, is when in early March, he announced that he was signing over all duties of governor to his Lt. Governor because "running the state is easy when compared to fighting a pandemic, and as of today, that will be my only job".

Taken from NBC's web site 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/maryland-gov-larry-hogan-emerges-leader-early-action-coronavirus-n1164256

By Corky Siemaszko

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan emerges as a leader in early action on coronavirus

The GOP governor took action while Trump was still calling the pandemic a ''hoax."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan went before the cameras last week and broke some bad news to his constituents — the state had recorded its first death from the coronavirus.

“We pray for his family,” Hogan said of the victim, a man in his 60s with an underlying condition. “Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and while this is the first death in Maryland it will not be the last.”

Hogan also noted that a 5-year-old girl was among the confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, a development all the more alarming because the vast majority of infected people have been older.

“This fight against pandemic is a race against time and we must take action now,” Hogan said. “We cannot afford to delay.”

That has been Hogan’s mantra from the start of the crisis. The Republican governor took steps to protect Marylanders on Feb. 27, when he first inked parts of emergency legislation to increase funds for the fight, cancelling out-of-state travel for state workers, establishing a help-line for the public and meeting regularly with his coronavirus response team. In comparison, on the following day, Trump called the coronavirus “new hoax” drummed-up by Democrats to damage him and his administration.

Hogan also declared a state of emergency in Maryland on March 5 — more than a week before President Trump made a nationwide emergency declaration.

The end result is that Hogan and fellow governor Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, have at times eclipsed Trump as a national leaders in the battle against the deadly pandemic. And the steps Hogan has taken in Maryland to combat the coronavirus have been as aggressive as those taken by other take-charge governors in hard-hit states like Mike DeWine of Ohio, who is also a Republican, and Jay Inslee of Washington and J.B. Pritzker in Illinois, both Democrats.

Hogan hasn't been shy about criticizing the Trump administration’s slow response in the first days of the crisis or its inability to say for sure when badly needed supplies like masks, ventilators and test kits will be available.

“I can tell you that there's quite a bit of frustration on the part of all of the governors that we don't have answers to those questions,” Hogan said earlier in the week. “And the first answer is no, we don't have enough test kits and neither does any other state, and no, the federal government does not have an answer.”

Hogan’s frustration comes from a deeply personal place — he is a 63-year-old cancer survivor, putting him in one of highest risk categories for coronavirus complications. So his life depends on this.

But the fact that Hogan has been willing to criticize the Trump administration does not come as a surprise for people who have followed the career of a Republican who was first elected governor in 2014 and was re-elected four years later in a deep blue state.

Hogan, who is only the second Republican to be re-elected in the state’s history, was “never a fan” of Trump and made that clear even before he won the GOP nomination in 2016, said Todd Eberly, associate professor of political science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

“What set Hogan apart from other Trump critics, however, is that most of those critics eventually fell in line behind Trump or left office,” Eberly said. “Hogan governs in a different manner and has rarely hesitated to criticize or disagree with Trump — sometimes forcefully and sometimes more subtly.”

Last July, when Trump lashed out against revered Baltimore congressman Elijah Cummings, a Democrat, and called his Baltimore district “dangerous” and “disgusting,” Hogan fired back via his spokeswoman saying “Baltimore City is truly the very head of our state.”

When it comes to Hogan's aggressive approach to the coronavirus crisis, none of the academics and journalists interviewed by NBC News found fault. "I haven't heard a whiff of serious criticism," said Josh Kurtz, editor of the Maryland Matters news site, who has covered Hogan for years.

"Gov. Hogan has been way ahead of the federal government in addressing and responding to the coronavirus,” Kurtz added. “He's been proactive and open with Marylanders. In his role as chairman of the National Governors Association, he's been involved in some of the earliest federal briefings on the virus and has been good about relaying that information to his team and to his constituents."

When NBC News reached out to Senate President Bill Ferguson, a Democrat who has sparred with Hogan in the past on various issues, Ferguson's spokesman gave an assessment of Hogan that could pass for praise in these politically fraught times: "We have nothing negative to contribute at this point," said Yaakov Weissmann in an email.

Hogan, unlike Trump, was quick to recognize the coronavirus threat and quick to mobilize the other U.S. governors, Eberly said.

“As chair of the National Governors Association, Hogan was already in a leadership role and I think he used that role quite wisely to get people to understand just how serious the situation was,” Eberly said.

How has Hogan managed to thrive in a blue state like Maryland during a period of intense political polarization?

Part of it is Marylanders just like Hogan, the experts said. He is married father of three, grandfather of four, and his wife Yumi Hogan is the "first Korean-American first lady in United States history," according to his official biography.

“He exudes competence and confidence,” said Stella Rouse, associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland.

And Hogan’s not afraid to tell off his constituents when he sees them straying from the rules that have been set in place to protect them.

“Despite our warnings, despite rapid escalation of virus, some people are treating this like vacation with parties and large gatherings,” Hogan said during his Thursday update. “If you are engaged in this type of activity, you are in violation of state law and are endangering lives of fellow Marylanders.”

Another reason Hogan thrives, Kurtz said, is that “Maryland isn't as liberal as people assume it is.”

“Hogan has found the sweet spot where a lot of the voters are,” Kurtz said. “He's held the line on taxes and a lot of people like that. He's a pretty unassuming guy, and handled a cancer diagnosis early in his tenure with good humor, grace and grit.”

In 2015, Hogan revealed he’d been fighting skin cancer and appeared in public with his white mane gone and bandages on his face. “Before you get into speculation about what the other guy looked like, I wanted to tell you about it,” he joked.

Rouse said Hogan is more a pragmatist and less of an ideologue, which is a rarity in the national Republican Party these days.

“The result is he has a lot of political capital in a state that is 2 to 1 Democratic,” Rouse said.

Eberly agreed.

“He made clear when he ran for governor that abortion and marriage equality were settled law and he had no desire to re-litigate them,” Eberly said. “On gun control, he made no mention of dialing back what Democrats had accomplished.”

Now, Eberly said, Hogan maintains a statewide approval rating that “seems to defy gravity.”

Kurtz said there is already talk of Hogan running for Senate in 2022 when his term ends, but what might dissuade him is that he would have to take on Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who is a Democrat.

“Van Hollen is pretty popular, and a Republican hasn't won a Senate race in Maryland since 1980,” Kurtz said.

Hogan could also, conceivably, run for president in four years.

“Hogan likes to describe himself as a John McCain/George H.W. Bush kind of a Republican,” Kurtz said. “If that kind of a Republican ever comes back in fashion, he could be a serious contender.”

--------------------------------

28 June 2020 Update ... his last press release continues to be the man I want as president ... compare this to Arizona, Texas, and Florida:

“While yesterday the United States saw a record number of COVID-19 cases, in Maryland, our key health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction. Our daily positivity rate reached a new low of 4.38%, and our seven-day positivity rate fell to 5.05%. Our total current hospitalizations have dropped to 511, their lowest level in 83 days. We have now conducted more than 600,000 tests, and have nearly 200 testing sites available across the state.
“As we continue to safely reopen, it is important to remember that this crisis is still not behind us. More than 65,000 Marylanders have been infected, and more than 3,000 Marylanders have now lost their lives to this deadly virus. We mourn each and every loss.
“Because of our early and aggressive actions, Maryland is better positioned for an economic comeback than nearly every other state in America. Our unemployment rate is more than one-third better than the national average. We have led, and will continue to lead, on the road to economic recovery.
“Now more than ever, as we begin to come into contact with more people, we must all continue to remain vigilant. Our health and economic recovery depends on all of us continuing to exercise personal responsibility in order to keep ourselves, our family members, our neighbors, and our coworkers safe. We encourage all Marylanders to get tested, wear a mask, and practice physical distancing.

“Throughout this crisis, Marylanders have been strong, resilient, and they have never lost hope. And now, while we still have miles to go on our road to recovery, I have no doubt that the people of our great state will continue setting an example for the rest of the nation.”

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Obtaining a Handgun Qualification License (HQL) in Maryland

It's pretty straight forward ... and I applaud the process ... I am all for ownership rights, but also all for keeping guns out of the hands of assholes.

Bought a handgun from grabagun.com ... good price and reviews gave the gun I choose good marks for the price.  They cannot ship you the weapon (either handgun or long gun) ... it has to go to an Federal Firearms Licensed dealer in your area.  Grab A Gun has a good link to ones in your area, so use their list.  The FFL will receive the gun and you go in with your HQL and Drivers License to get it handed over.  The FFL I choose charges $50 for a long gun handover and $100 for a handgun.

Anyway, the process is straight forward ... get your training on handgun safety ... you can find places that can do the process here.  I did not need to do this as I am ex-military, so I used my DD214 to get it waived.

Then, go here to get the process moving with the Maryland State Police (you need to setup an account).  Only thing to note is that the web site is not very intuitive ... just note the menu system on the left of the page and you won't have any issues.  I found one person / site that said you needed to use Microsofts browser, but I use Chrome and had no issues.

You'll need to input your DD214 or Training Certificate information while filling out the application.  Once that's gone as far as you can, you need to get finger printed via the "LiveScan" system ... you can find all the people who can do it here.  You can also use Google Maps, bring up your area, and search for "Live Scan" ... you'll find tons of groups that do it in your area.  They all should charge around $50, and some require appointments, but for myself, I found one in a small town and was able to walk in ... zero wait time.  You get a receipt that has your file number.

NOTE:  That file is only available to the Maryland State Police for a few days, so don't delay (at least that's what I was told).

Now, go back to your application site here to continue ... input your fingerprinting receipt number, answer 20 questions (like "am I nuts" ... yes / no) and then you can PAY FEEs ... $50.  Careful on the questions ... you get into the habit of answering NO, then at the end it asks "are you a US citizen" and "is everything the truth" so I'd advise switching over to YES for those two (but that's just me).

Wait up to 30 days and the license arrives (assuming you did everything right).  But, your not yet done.

You now need to complete your form 77R at the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal.  So yet another web site here ... and there you input pretty much the same information, except now you need to input your Handgun Qualification License number.  Within an hour, you will get an email with your PIN number.  Take that PIN number to the FFL where your handgun is located (or about to be bought) and you AND they fill out a form to submit (and pay the transfer fee).  From there, you wait 7 days and THEN you can take your gun.  Note that 7 days is not 7 FULL days, but 7 days, so if, like me, you fill out your paperwork on a Tuesday at 3 PM, you wait thru:
Day 1:  The Tuesday you completed the form.
Day 2:  Wednesday
Day 3:  Thursday
Day 4:  Friday
Day 5:  Saturday
Day 6:  Sunday
Day 7:  Monday
So on the following Tuesday, you can pick up the gun.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Hacking Digital Signatures in PDFs

The following is done on a Windows 10 machine.

The new W4 statements [Form W-4 (2020)] you have to fill out were created with digital signatures, so when you look at permissions, you find:
      Changing the Document:  Not Allowed
      Document Assembly:  Not Allowed

So I wondered ... how do you unlock "signed PDF" files ... you can only input where they allow you to input ... pre-set form fields!  Personally, I find this un-acceptable ... I have my signature in a pre-scanned TRANSPARENT PNG file so that (since I have Acrobat), I can drop in that signature so the form is complete.

In the past I just printed it to a PDF, but digital signatures retain the security of "NOT ALLOWED" ... sigh.  Well, it took me a few hours to figure this out, and "technically" your not unlocking it ... but instead "re-creating it" (which, if I'm being honest, that is what I do when I PRINT to a PDF and then put in graphics and text boxes. 

Anyway, to do this, do a PRINT to your standard printer, and you:
1) in the PRINT dialog, click ADVANCED
2) click the boxes PRINT TO FILE and PRINT AS IMAGE ... I choose 600 DPI
3) OK it and print it ... and it prints to a PRN file.
4) PRN is Post Script, so change the extension to .PS

Now, go to the web site:  www.ps2pdf.com ... you don't need to install anything (but I was so impressed, I did install the CHROME extension) and you upload the PS file ... and in about 1 minute, I was able to download a PDF. 

Once downloaded, open in Adobe Acrobat and do the RECOGNIZE TEXT function to turn it into something that you can more easily use.  Once done, you can insert or edit away.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Wendy's Breakfast Sucks ...

as of 3 March 2020 ...

First shot try got both sandwiches wrong ... and found shell in the egg.

Second try got us soggy bacon, and "cheese" seems to be put on with a paint brush.  I find the sausage patty too spicy and my last bite of sandwich (only could stomach half) found under cooked egg.

Fries/Potatoes under-whelming.

I will say, however, that I do like the Honey Chicken Biscuit ... that was good ... you can actually smell the honey when your un-wrapping it.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Free Faxing

You can pretty much do free faxing if your willing to use 2 sites.  The only limitation is that "free" on the sending means 1 page.  Please note that I have NO FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENT WITH EITHER SITE.  This information is based on using them over the past year.

SENDING:

For sending, I use "gotfreefax.com".  The "free" means you need to send only 1 page, which I have found FITS just fine ... just be careful and clear.  Just about all my needs fit on 1 page.

You can send PDFs, Docs, and JPGs.  Never used JPGs, but DOCs and PDFs work just fine.

If you use the FREE approach (red circle in picture), you get 3 emails from them ...
1:  Verify your email address (I have never gotten SPAM from them).
2:  It's in process
3:  It's done.

However, if you need to send multiple pages, you can buy blocks of pages ... see the black circled item ... 100 pages for $10, so 10 cents/page.  I bought a block over a year ago and I'm still using them whenever the FREE doesn't fit my needs.


RECEIVING:

For receiving faxes, I use "faxburner.com" ... the only limitation is that the phone number you give to people is only good for 24 hours.  If you pay them, they will give you a permanent number, but for my needs, 24 hours is just fine:




Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Bio-Advanced Moss & Algae Killer & Cleaner ... and using your own garden sprayer

I tried the Bio-Advanced 2-in-1 Moss & Algae Killer & Cleaner on the front half of my Cape Cod style house (I live in Southern Maryland).  I killed all the algae, turning it all yellow.  However, to get up to the top of the roof (which is really needed on the back of the roof), I needed a jet spray attachment ... and that is where Bio-Advanced said NO.  Their position is that you must use it with the hose end sprayer it comes with.  Now, I respect that, but it's too dangerous for me to get up on the pitched roof (I'm approaching 70 !!).




So, I decided to do some experimentation.  I cut open the original containers to get the sprayer off, and save the chemical.



You need to cut up high as the container is very full with chemical.  To the right of the Moss Killer is my test tube.  I measured out 25 ml (you can use anything really ... a shot glass even !!) and connected the sprayer up.  It took 10.01 seconds to empty the 25 ml.

So then, I repeated the experiment with my Ortho Sprayer.


Of course, I had the sprayer off the original Ortho base ... and dipped the hose into the solution (same 25 ml) and timed it.  Found that the 4 ounce setting got the same time ... 10.03 seconds.

So I sprayed the roof, and as assumed, it took about the same amount of time as when I did the front part.

The algae on the front and back died, so then I had a "roof cleaner" come out and sweep off the roof and spray their own chemical ... it wasn't needed, but that was the agreement.

Anyway, I then decided to spray my driveway where I needed to walk it without a hose available (it's 600 feet long), so I used the same Bio-Advanced Moss & Algae Killer & Cleaner, sprayed it into a large container then poured the resulting chemical into a hand pump sprayer and walked my entire driveway killing algae ... worked like a charm.








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