And Yet Storms Brew Again

Where do I start? We are wrapping up May. Five months of 2020 are shortly going to be in the can. This year still has seven months of crazy in store.

In June I start monitoring Hurricane Watch Net which covers the Atlantic basin monitoring for ground truth data. Folks without appropriate operator licenses can listen in using Broadcastify when the net is active. The current cyclone season in the Atlantic has already been unusually active and we might see a third cyclone before the official start to the season on June 1st as the sea state analysis showed Thursday night. It does appear prudent to start monitoring at least NMG for radiofax charts since broadband is getting bad locally.

There is an EchoLink counterpart to the Hurricane Watch Net. I may check in on Saturday just to get a chance to contact WX4NHC. Getting set up on 30 meter APRS remains a goal.

Churches are having difficulties with COVID-19. I sat on a webinar Thursday with folks from CDC and learned very little. Apparently congregational singing is a bit iffy in terms of safety. In a Church of Christ setting taking congregational singing out of the mix makes for not much of a service at all.

In terms of crazy things I have noticed in the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network lately:

With all the push towards creating oral histories of the lockdown I recognize that I could create a typeset version of something. There are a couple ways to do so. If I wanted to create a hardbound book I would go with the suftesi class in LuaLaTeX in conjunction with the markdown package and then accept a collection of markdown-formatted submissions. Submitters would not need to know LaTeX to submit. I could edit submissions as appropriate and glom them together into a coherent whole for printing. In theory the markdown package could also be used with the novel class if I wanted to put things together in that form. It all depends upon motivation if I actually ended up doing anything. If I did anything it would likely be something about West Avenue Church of Christ with a view to getting it deposited at Disciples of Christ Historical Society.

You take a breath. Then you take another breath. The 100 is a show with many things to say. It really resonates in the current climate, I fear.

May 2020 Miscellany

In no particular order:

DANCE!

On A Slightly Happier Note

It appears that the Andover Public Library in the southern reaches of Ashtabula County is collecting stories of surviving lockdown. Details can be found at http://www.andover.lib.oh.us/live/coronavirus-story/. I intend to write up something to submit about the difficulties of carrying out the work of the church.

Starting Another Week

In no particular order:

  • Drive-in church happened. There were logistics mishaps. That was expected. Unless there is a radical change in the state’s stance over the next few days we’ll be doing things the same way on May 10th.
  • The mass media infrastructure is not healthy in our country. FOX is turning into just celebrity watch parties. One of the big four television networks has devolved into Twitch right before our eyes.
  • It would be a neat idea to look into starting a combo drive-in theater/single screen indoor theater in Ashtabula County. At the rate we are going on keeping businesses closed we will need to start something new. There is plenty of excess commercial real estate but is any of it fit for purpose?
  • Apparently meat shortages are starting. What a stupid time to be alive.
  • I need to start writing a story. There needs to be a continuation of the space force story with the moon base and all. I can add to the todo list, it seems.
  • I need beefier hardware for video editing. I never really wanted to go into doing video. Unfortunately Erie Looking Productions has to adapt to the current bizarre market.
  • Staying just a print and audio shop seems to not be in the cards at this time…
Ending April

In no particular order:

  • We’re reassembling the congregation at West Avenue Church of Christ on May 3, 2020. Service will be “drive-in”. This is to stay within the mandates of the Ashtabula City Health Department. Dad and I spent time packaging communion for individual distribution to attendees. It will be an interesting question as to who shows up.
  • One of my favorite dramas, All Rise, will be back on Monday with a new episode reflecting the current COVID-19 unpleasantness. This could be interesting. The main character to the show is supposed to be the character Judge Lola Carmichael but Jessica Camacho has most definitely stolen the show playing the plucky young public defender that so many plot lines center around. I enjoy the show thoroughly.
  • I am going batty with the lockdown restrictions. Having to contact the Alliance Defending Freedom for help in dealing with the uncertainties out of the state capital is a new one. Their lawyer that talked to me today was a huge help. I am very thankful for them and, if you have them time, donate a dollar or two to them.
  • Telehealth continues. Why? Although Governor Mike DeWine’s easing of restrictions initially looks like medical matters go back to normal they have a nasty buried codicil that telehealth should be preferred as much as possible still. I’ll have to check in to see if I will be making the trek to Beachwood on May 15th or not. I will find out Friday if counseling will return to face-to-face or not though the current contours of the Governor’s order make that look unlikely.
  • Gyms remain closed in Ohio. I am not liking this.
  • We are at risk of losing our last movie theater in Ashtabula County. AMC theatres stopped paying rent on all their properties. The latest owner of the Ashtabula mall complex is a financial mess. AMC might get evicted. I’ve been working on planning out how to fire up an arthouse theater locally and what that would entail. With all the excess commercial real estate that we have locally I should be able to seek out technical support from the Cleveland Institute of Art and be able to round up a couple folks to help raise capital. We accept too much failure locally.
  • I need to remember to write to my state rep and state senator about the November election imploring them to make a firm decision one way or another by August. If we don’t there is going to be chaos.
  • Our local radio stations need shaking up. Unfortunately they mostly have institutional religious owners. Yes, we can have too much Christian radio. Unfortunately there aren’t enough open channel slots to start new stations in competition. Moving to the Internet to compete has not materialized as a working strategy after twenty years of people trying. Making an online television station might be possible but I’m not sure how the captioning would be handled. Unfortunately the work by King Leo shows how many millions it takes to run even a small operation compared to when CNET was independent of ViacomCBS.
  • The Red and White Thunderbirds operation remains on pause.
  • Any White Pine County operations remain notional in planning stages at this time.
Posted
License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Notes From Damage Control Central

In no particular order:

  • Systems continue crashing around me. Rare error messages have been commonplace instead. I have been taxing surviving hardware to the limit as field expedients to keep things working. There is an endpoint to how far I can take field expedients before they fail too. I have to figure out what I am going to upgrade/replace in short order.
  • The conduct of recorded church services continues. People are watching what’s posted. I suppose that’s okay?
  • I did do-release-upgrade -d to take the install of Ubuntu MATE on the Raspberry Pi 3B+ to Focal Fossa (soon to be 20.04 on Thursday if all goes well). It functions rather nicely. It is also my main desktop machine at the moment.
  • One of the previously paying clients is looking to resume operations if Governor Mike DeWine proceeds with loosening up lockdown as of May 1st. In the realm of governmental actions, 11 days might as well be an eternity where outcomes can potentially change endlessly. I’m still trying to see what to do to anticipate their needs which is either going to be looking for logistics gear to facilitate changes in how they conduct business or ways to set up video streaming gear that are grunt proof.
  • I sent the draft proposals to city council on how it might break its impasse relative to fixing the budget shortfall. They’ve had some spectacular media coverage of them not being able to work together. Lockdown gives me way too much time to think and I kinda like having fire and police protection so offering help seems like a good idea.
  • Tinkering in LaTeX2e continues.
  • With luck I should be better available for the G cycle.
Abbreviated Easter 2020 Service

An abbreviated service for Easter 2020 was posted to the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/easter_20200412. We had significant technological failures in trying to get this accomplished. Recovery from these tech failures is hindered during the COVID-19 crisis.

Looking to the Passion Week

“You don’t have to win every fight. You don’t have to fight every fight. But you DO have to stand for something.” — US Senator Ted Cruz

In no particular order:

  • Lockdown continues. Technically it will intensify as of April 6th. The next review point is May 1st. May 1st is not a termination point for this.
  • Tech-wise my laptop is falling down the curve further to total failure. I’ve got everything I can migrated off it. While it is somewhat usable for the moment the USB chassis is seemingly toast. I can hook up a stick, try to copy data to it, and get intermittent errors that increase the longer the laptop is running. The fans also run up to maximum quite a bit more easily at the moment. If anybody can procure me a pi-top 3 I can slap a Raspberry Pi 3B+ into it and have a working replacement until the end of the crisis.
  • The media scene is imploding. Gannet is closing newspapers in both their print and online formats. Lee Enterprises is closing newspapers in both their print and online formats. Beasley Broadcasting is staffing radio stations at a skeletal level. Entercom is staffing radio stations at a skeletal level preparatory to throwing some on automation. There is an “all podcast” format launched by iHeartMedia which is essentially complete automation which they did to one of their stations in Erie. Prior to COVID-19 iHeart already did a massive round of cuts and reductions moving stations in several markets nation-wide to skeletal staffing. Radio stations are closing in several markets if not owned by one of the medium to large conglomerates. Every TV station that has their newscast dispersed with most if not all anchors at home is likely canning technical staff that they might not ever hire back. Traditional news media is going to die if this stretches on all that much longer as advertising revenue is going to crater.
  • The movie known as Alpha Gateway in the STIRR on-demand Sci-Fi selection needs nomination for handling by RiffTrax. It wasn’t bad but is an Australian take on Sliders.
  • If you aren’t watching STIRR, why not?
  • Although Erie Looking Productions was apparently eligible to apply for bailout funds under the CARES Act I am saying no to that. There are ways to proceed and that isn’t it.
  • A goal this week is to build a mount adapter to be able to put my smartphone on a tripod. We are going to try to film something for Easter. Watching church services from Central Christian Church in Henderson just isn’t the same.
  • The Pawmunkey action is delayed.
  • The Red & White Thunderbirds action is delayed.
  • Broadband keeps crashing here to where telehealth has difficulty functioning. That will have consequences.
Posted
License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Trying To Help

To a certain extent I want to be as helpful as I can to the members of the congregation of West Avenue Church of Christ. Originally this was going to be a circular letter that was going to be mailed. Since electronic means have become available the letter will be dispensed with and this post is essentially directed to them.

Members of the congregation wishing to vote in the primary election that was moved from March 17th to April 28th need to take specific steps. Except in extreme circumstances this is a vote-by-mail only election. Members who have not already cast a ballot and who are eligible to vote should go to the board of elections voter registration lookup, search their name, then click “Print Absentee Request”. The website will fill in most of the blanks for you and you need to only fill in a few yourself on the resulting form. When done follow the directions to print your completed request then sign and mail it to the board of elections. Their facility is closed to the public until April 6th so nobody can drop off a request for you nor can they pick up a ballot for you. There is an extremely narrow set of exceptions for voting in-person on April 28th but most members of the congregation do not meet any of those exceptions. If you are unable to print a form please let me know and I will help you take care of the matter.

Federal, state, and municipal income taxes are not due until July 15th now.

All the public libraries are closed with no estimated recovery dates. They do have services available for checking out ebooks as well as movies/TV shows. Ashtabula County District Library has its digital library offering, Harbor-Topky Memorial Library lists their offerings, Kingsville Public Library announced a very aggressive set of online offerings including a YouTube channel with storytime, and Madison Public Library has a wide range of electronic services too. Don’t feel as if you need to spend lots of money on ordering from Amazon or Barnes & Noble as you’ve already paid for quite a lot of electronic stuff at your libraries through your property taxes already.

The Christian Chronicle has a list posted of live streams of services for across the country. They likewise have a list of podcasts by fellow church members in addition to blogs by fellow church members and YouTube channels maintained by fellow church members. There is a wide world of resources out there.

There is going to be life on the other side of this crisis. We just have to remember that this is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Considering Demobilization

In a disaster situation, the process of demobilization relates to coming back to a normal steady state. Some disasters are relatively short-term events such as a multiple car crash on a roadway. The current pandemic is one of the longer term events.

I end up looking at things from a bit of a narrow angle when it comes to economic impact right now. In part this comes from my present isolation. Of course, this isolation is expected to be extended for an unknown period per Ohio’s Governor.

Newspapers and radio stations across the country are collapsing financially right now. Big chains like Lee Enterprises and Gannett are laying off personnel to the point that their newspapers are unable to function. In Gannett’s case they could conceivably swap customers of their local titles over to receiving USA Today for the duration of the emergency but Lee Enterprises doesn’t have such a readily apparent fall-back. Radio stations have been applying to the Federal Communications Commission for “special temporary authority” to go silent due to advertising disappearing and some are going out of business entirely such as WTME and related stations in Maine.

Why on Earth does this matter for somewhere like Planet Ubuntu? In this time of crisis while so many are confined inside it means everything. We’re not going to be moving to a streaming-only world as we are finding just how much throughput the world’s networks happen to be able to handle. Radio New Zealand reported that New Zealand measured 2.82 terabytes of data transferred per second on the first day of their lockdown.

Today’s infrastructure has trouble handling capacity surges. Those aren’t going away any time soon. We have to plan for what we want our world to look like on the other side of this crisis. Building up things undergirding Ubuntu Studio would be great as we’ll likely need ways to reboot newspapers and radio stations or create new ones. There is at least one random list of station automation software out there that I found to evaluate for packaging. Prior to the current unpleasantness packaging such software would’ve been thought of as an exercise for setting up a streaming audio service but with the number of broadcast radio stations going dark there is a market niche possibly opening up.

None of us knows how this crisis is going to play out. It is never too soon to plan for life on the other side of it. As my streaming television services end up buffering even on the ads and downgrading video to unintelligible messes I can only hope regular mass media survives in some form. The constant COVID-19 PSAs across all platforms are driving me batty…

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BOFH excuse #378:

Operators killed by year 2000 bug bite.