The Long And The Short Of It

When I moved here from the mainland, I didn’t ship a TV. I bought one and initially used the VCR I shipped along with a tremendous number of VCR tapes.

The last people in the house had cable TV and internet, but I only wanted internet at the time. When I hooked up the router to the cable, I also tried connecting the cable to the TV antenna connection on the TV and scanned for channels. I was surprised to find 20 or more channels. Because of the filtering they used on the cable, these were general low tier channels and many were noisy of dropped out. Still, there was enough to watch if I cared to.

The cable company is in the process of changing over to all digital, so these channels are disappearing.

I have multiple Roku devices and a TV with Roku built in. My viewing consists of a combination of free streaming channels and Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

My house is around the way from where I could pick up broadcast channels from Maui, so streaming it is.

Many decades ago I had a big satellite dish and had many channels for very little money. You could subscribe to ‘packages’ of channels, however you also could just pick and choose Ala-carte. For less than $400 a year I had HBO, Showtime, The Movie Channel, WTBS, WGN, the weather channel and so on totaling perhaps 30 channels. My signal came from the same satellites that the networks used, unlike Dish and others that take these same signals and redirect them back up to another satellite and back to viewers. You have no idea how clear the original signals were before people like Dish and the cable companies get hold of them and compress the signals.

So in any event, I recently lost a bunch of channels, but I’ll get by. 13 years of no cable TV bill was a great run.


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Putting The Cart Before The Horses Ass

Does any of this make sense to you? Is this what our country has become?

Note the following: 2 boys lift and toss a shopping cart over a railing and seriously injure a woman.

The court decides that the kids are 10% responsible, the security company 25% responsible and the mall 65% responsible.

So the security company should have foreseen that kids might drop a shopping car on unsuspecting people? Worse is that the mall should have foreseen that the company they hired for security should have procedures in place to ensure kids don’t drop shopping carts on people?

The kids should be in prison and 100% responsible.

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Remotely Possible

A neighbor has had problems with his garage door opener. The tech tried a new universal remote but it still doesn’t work. The inside door bell button does work to open and close the door, so that means that his control board is likely bad.They are not that cheap and depending upon when it was installed, a replacement may be difficult to find or very expensive.

So my solution for him is about $15 worth of technology in a box smaller than a ring box. I bought a remote controller from Wish.Com. It has a key fob for the car. It uses 12 volts (I used a small power adapter I had lying around. The unit is a learning type so I married it to the unit. It has 4 buttons, two large and two small, and I configured both large to do the same. When pushed, they close a normally open relay, the wires from those contacts go across the wall button contacts. So when you push the remote button it is the same as pushing the wall button in the garage.

The unit will mount near the garage door unit and the remote works about 150 feet away.

So this $15 solution saved perhaps hundreds of dollars.

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I just read ANOTHER story of someone getting fooled by a scam when they received a call from “Microsoft” telling them they have a virus on their computer.

THINK! How would Microsoft get your phone number?

Microsoft won’t call you.

Calls from people saying they represent Google, probably don’t.

Your utility will not call and require you to give them a credit card number right now.

No company is going to require you get a Green Dot or Itunes card to pay for some utility bill.

The IRS will not call you.

The gas company probably won’t come to see if you have a leak (unless you call them first). On guy will keep you busy outside (for your safety) while the other robs your house.

If you are “dating” someone on the Internet and have not met in person, you need to watch the TV show “Catfish”.

If a young relative calls you and says they are in jail, stuck overseas, etc and just need money wired to them and not to tell the parents, you are probably being scammed.

There is no one willing to give you millions of dollars.

You did not win anything if you are told you won but have to pay some fees up front to get the money.

Scams, scams, scams, etc, etc, etc.

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The beginning of May I was on the mainland. I was watching the news from home due to the volcanic activity on the east side. I live far from the actual lava flow so I was not very worried for myself.

When I got back I noticed that we had vog over the whole west side. Vog is a smoky haze, like smog, created by the volcano rather than car emissions. It caused various issues like coughing and mucus and headaches.

Visitors to this island know that we have a limited number of roads. Generally there is one road around the perimeter of the island and one that crosses the island. In many communities there is only one way in and out. The roads we have may not be the most efficient between two locations as it may not be the most direct route.

There are many issues in the communities effected by actual lava flows. Roads are being covered in lava or cracks are developing which shut down travel. That means that people can and are being cut off from escape routes.

Lava is also causing other issues. Because we live on a rock, many people do not bury their water lines, which may run long distances above ground. These plastic or PVC pipes are easy to break with movement or heat.

A more important issue is our tsunami sirens. Being an island in the Pacific, tsunamis are a concern, thus we have sirens (like other area might have civil defense or tornado sirens). These sirens may be solar powered or powered by solar. With lots of smoke in the air, the batteries may not charge well or they may lose electricity when power lines go down. Power has been lost in some areas already. Also, some cell phone towers have gone offline, causing many problems. Without the sirens or cellphone service, respondents have had to go door to door to have people evacuate. This is not easy as some areas need to evacuate with little or no notice. There are cases where you know lava is approaching and other cases where all of a sudden lava starts coming out of the ground with little prior notice.

I have not kept up on current counts but believe that less than 100 buildings / homes have been destroyed. The last I heard, 2,000 people had been evacuated and are staying in shelters. Residents have been donating items for those displaced. I recently made a Costco run and donated $100 worth of items such as soap, batteries, supplies and food items. Many groups have gotten together to help or donate time or goods. My own Kona Coffee Farmers Association group gathered donated Kona Coffee and sweet rolls and items which they are taking over there to serve this weekend.

It should be noted that all of this lava activity is in a small area of a large island. We are talking about 10 or 20 square miles on an island the size of Connecticut. We also have about 150,000 residents on the island (and lately our visitor counts are less than normal as people stay away). Some of the cruise ships have stopped their weekly or periodic visits.

We have noticed that some areas are having vegetation issues. Lack of sunlight or contaminants in the air are affecting leaves and growth.

Still, on most of the island, except for some smoke in the air, life goes on.

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Circles of Life

Recent events have reminded me of the circle of life.

Lyrics of the Burt Bacharach song used in Lost Horizon:

The world is a circle without a beginning
And nobody knows where it really ends
Everything depends on where you
Are in the circle that never begins
Nobody knows where the circle ends

I recently visited the mainland and reunited with friends. One had a daughter who was born while I was there decades ago and now is about to have her own child.

At my high school reunion I was reminded of Veterans who gave their lives for our freedom. I also saw some educators who were there in the 60’s but now retired.

I also found that a classmate of mine from those times, just passed away suddenly this week, well before his time.

As all this was happening, my island was undergoing its own circle of life. Kilauea Volcano was active, rumbling like thunder and seeping lava from cracks in the earth. At least 30 buildings were destroyed and about 2,000 people are currently displaced  as lava flowed near their houses.

Some may wonder why live near an active volcano? We wonder why people live in tornado alley or on an eroding cliff-side at the beach?

In the case of Madam Pele the volcano Goddess, she does what she will. It is not her fault that there are homes and people in the way. This particular island is comprised of 5 volcanoes and this is the currently active one. Had it not been for all of the lava, our island would not exist. It is 4,000 square miles and extends from the sea floor, 20,000 feet up just to sea level and then another 14,000 feet to the top.

Madam Pele is only active in one small area on one edge of this island. She is destroying homes as she adds more acres to her home.
The circle of life…
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Why They Stopped Calling On Me

I used to work for a large computer company in the I.T. department. Our computer room was very large (like a football field).

We once had a combined meeting of programmers, support persons and so on, both male and female. I was in the back with fellow workers.

Before the meeting started, I had been talking about a maid service I had read about.

During the meeting, my bosses’ boss mentioned that we needed to keep the computer room clean and I made a snide comment to a co-worker. My bosses’ boss saw that I was being inattentive and cracking a joke and called me out. “Mark, do you have something you would like to share?” to which I said “No, I’m sorry”.

Apparently irritated and wanting to make a point, he asked again and I apologized. “No, come on, share with the group”. I replied that the comment was not appropriate and he again said “We are waiting” to which I finally thought, well he really wants to know…

“I just joked that we should hire the topless maid service that was on the news today.”

I still remember the burning look from him when he realized that pushing me to share this with the group, was not his best decision.

I was never asked to share with the group again.

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Sorry that I have not been posting as much lately.

The big news is that my neighbor is coming back to the Big Island and I have been trying to mage it and my farm at the same time. Well, I negotiated a deal for him with his farm and it should help quite a bit. His farm is about 5 acres and has a lot of old coffee trees on it (old it  good thing). Unlike corn or wheat, coffee is planted and if cared for, will last decades before the trees need to be replanted.

As we have gotten older, we find it is more difficult to do manual labor. Due to the lease we hold, we must farm on our land and coffee can be labor intensive.

So the deal I set up is that for the next 4 years, a guy and his team will weed whack, prune, spray, fertilize and pick all of the coffee on the neighbors farm, in trade for all the coffee. If he wants to sell his own coffee, he can buy it back and market price and would make a profit on that after the sale. However, what that means is that he has no out-of-pocket expenses for 4 years, his property will look great and he has no worries. All of the coffee cherry his farm produces will be listed as his (for the lessors documentation) even though he won’t keep it. So essentially, the team does all the work and he pays them with the coffee cherry.

The team may include woofers, which are people who work on organic farms in swap for a place to stay ( He may host some of these workers on his farm or perhaps I will. The rest of the team are local workers.

Besides managing his farm, I have been working with another neighbor to replace his back door and check brakes and transmission on a truck.

I am still working a temporary I.T. position for a large farm and managing websites for about a dozen sites.

Lately, I am streaming some series I missed over the years like Andromeda, Episodes and a few others. Recent series and shows include Green Wing, The I.T. Crowd, The Good Doctor, Shameless, Beyond, Heartland, Workaholics and The Ranch.

The dogs want out so I have another task at the moment.

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A Different Time, A Different Place

I grew up in a different time, in a different place.
Many of you know that I attended military school in the 60’s. We were taught to respect firearms and in the high school years, I had and carried a rifle, like all cadets. We also had swords or sabres. I spent time at the rifle range and acquired proficiency awards.
We started and ended our days surrounding the flagpole while the flag was raised or lowered. We were taught (actually required) to salute the flag and to respect what it stands for. During parades we passed in review and we would face the stadium and see alumni and visitors salute or place their hand over their heart areas the colors passed, It was something we did.
We were taught respect for others. We did not talk back to teachers or administrators. We had discipline. We learned that there were consequences. If someone misbehaved, they were ‘allowed’ the opportunity to take their rifle and march back and forth for hours while their peers passed by on their way to activities or headed to home for the weekend. When we had demerits we were confined to the campus. We learned quickly to follow the rules and behave.
We were required to study and get good grades. It was fairly easy to do that because of the way classes were held. We took one subject for 8 weeks and then had that final before the next class. We did not have those 50 minute mini classes with a 10 minute free for all in the halls which public schools seem to think is ‘education’. Kids spend 10 minutes settling down, 10 minutes getting ready for the end of class and so on. This can explain why most if not all of our alumni went off to college.
We were required to march and follow instructions. We had some athletic requirements, yet most students joined one of the many teams or activities. We also had hobby clubs (my favorite was radio among others). We attended chapel every weekday and Sunday. Some cadets were allowed off campus to attend their specific religious institution. We were also encouraged to help our community.
We respected other athletic teams and schools who came to participate in events on our turf. W also had away games and were instructed to behave and represent our school with pride.
Many of the sports-related alumni from my school went on to the NFL among other places including the Olympics. You would know many of their names. I daresay they they would not take a knee or hide in the shadows during the Nation Anthem.
When I attended in the 60’s we had something like 23 countries represented. That has not changed over the years, rather has probably increased.
At the end of each day, the bugler played taps. It was a reminder that people died to keep our freedom. Our school has a memorial to those cadets who gave up their life protecting the freedom of others.
Even though it was a military school and some went on to serve in the armed forces, many did not. It was not a requirement, however many did serve and with honor, including the time I attended during the Vietnam War.
I think what has changed is that people became more permissive. We have parents, politicians and judges who are afraid to hold people responsible for their actions. If someone was caught smoking without permission or talked back, we marched for hours. Yet in today’s society a person can riot and steal from a store and has no consequences (they were upset). A child can be a drunk driver who kills people but gets probation because his parents never taught him the link between behavior and consequences.
I have seen parents who believe that everyone is a winner just for showing up for a sport. While that sounds great to them, it does not teach the children that in life they can excel or fail and that by failing they learn lessons to help them deal with life. When there are no consequences, there is no learning and therefor the child will continue along the same path.
I am glad that I attended a military school. I had no desire to join the military upon graduation, however, I can assure you that the discipline I learned and the understanding of consequences has stayed with since.
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Waiting For The Missile

I had been through the 1971 scare that all radio and TV stations broadcast, so I knew it *might* be a mistake. Back then it was a Saturday morning when we expected a test to come down the wires, instead, it was a warning.

In this case, it might be a mistake, however we have already been testing air raid sirens because of North Korea. I really don’t think N. Korea would be crazy enough to attack because I feel they would be wiped off the map.

Still… So I tried to gather the dogs but they knew something was up. The more I tried to sternly tell them to come to me, they wouldn’t. I had to open the gate to get them out of the pen and into the basement room but they thought it was time to run up the property for their morning run. Finally I got them into the enclosed room and tried checking news outlets via cellphone.

The local station was talking about trash collecting, but I could not tell if there was a text scroll on the screen or not. I tried CNN and Reuters but was having troubles with the dogs jumping around and trying to see the tiny screen.

I called a neighbor who didn’t answer the phone and texted him. I called a friend on the mainland and got no answer. I left a message that we *might* be under attack but that it also could be a mistake. I called my younger sister, could not get her and sent a text. About this time I thought that if we were under attack, I might still have time to get dog food and my medicine, but opted to stay put.

The wind blows from my island towards Honolulu and thus generally if a bomb goes off pretty much anywhere in the islands, fallout would be headed away from me. I would be able to make a run upstairs later. I comforted the dogs and waited. It had been more than 15 minutes which is the amount of warning they think we would have. Certainly we would have fired rockets to intercept and we have a missile base in the islands and we have been expecting a possible strike, so we would have been ready.

When the all clear message came out, I let the dogs loose in their run and went inside to watch the news on the big screen. I will set up some supplies downstairs soon, although I still don’t think they will be needed, however we also get hurricanes in the islands and so on, so I still will be better prepared.

Even though I was reasonably sure it was a mistake, I was still nervous for hours. I had been loaded up on caffeine and my blood pressure meds had not kicked in yet to slow me down a bit (they make me tired), so the adrenaline was going full steam for quite some time.

Over the past few years I have had two major operations (one being a quadruple bypass) and flipped a truck over. I think they all rated about the same for excitement.

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