Coping: Redundancy, Redundancy

If this morning’s column turns out to be a bit shorter than usual – and missing a dandy feature like an incredible Wujo story which I had planned for this morning (damn!) it’s all because we had a power outage out here at the end of the string last night which took out the power supply in the main server.  I can restore from backups, or just write this morning’s column, so I picked the latter.  You’ll have to come back Thursday for the good stuff.

Normally, when something like this happens, it’s no more than a half-hour worth of nuisance because that’s about how long it takes to tear open the box, toss in the power supply, and reboot.  However, I didn’t have a spare power supply sitting on the shelf and…after three years of non-stop work, this one finally gave out.

Keen lesson in here:  Usually I have a space 600-650 watt supply on hand…but the last one hadn’t hit the “time to buy one of those” order (they’re not free).  So instead of our usual operating post, this morning’s column is coming from the Win 8.1 laptop and it seems to be working just fine, although we won’t known until this is actually published.

Message:  If you’re a serious computer user, a spare power supply is something (besides some plugin  hard drives) to keep on hand.

I know it may sound absurd to have a laptop in a metal garbage can (which is where this one lives) but in the event of something really bad – like an EMP attack on the US – odds are fair that a lot of cars will keep working.  But it will be the “hidden electronics” – the stuff which really glues modern life together (routers, power supplies and such) — that you may need some stock of.

Of course, the logical question is WHY would you want a computer at the End of the World?  Well, lots of people who prep have all kinds of stuff on hard drives which they really need to have printed out.  Without the hard copy, you’re “electron dependent” and that means when the power goes out, you could be cut off from your library.

Which then gets us to the matter of printers.  I just ordered a Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex for about a hundred bucks.  Since I have hundreds of manuals on everything under the Sun, I thought it would be useful to print everything off and have backups on paper.

The wireless is a no-brainer.  But the duplex printing is really key.  Duplex (meaning prints both sides) cuts the paper use in half, which seems like it ought to pay for itself in short order.  Plus, the current Brother printer I have has been blazingly fast and still seems to work OK…it’s just I don’t want to manually flip pages.    Elaine has an older ink jet which takes 31-hours per page in draft mode.  She wins a new printer.

Weighing on the Weather

Our consulting war gamer did a fine analysis of correlations between the lack of hurricanes this year and cold winters.  But not much, if anything to be gleaned there.  1904 and 1913 (*if memory serves) were the only ones.  The original email is on the dead server which I need to operate on this morning.

And then came a dispatch from our Jakarta Bureau Chief

Hiya chief!

Weighing in on the weather:

For many years, I have (had) noted that everytime a TS or hurricane came through Houston, the following winter featured snow.  In ’72, we got back-to-back storms in July or August, as I recall.  The following January/February,we had feet of snow lasting a couple of weeks.  If you know Houston, you know that’s about as rare as down on frogs.  But the pattern holds up.  Snow after Katrina/Rita, snow after Carla, snow after Alicia, etc.

As for the feller writing in about the trees not turning, it’s called Indian Summer, though the term is no longer permissible and so most folks have forgetting about it.  Comes around every five years or so.  Never much of a worry down in Houston, where everything stays green until mid-December, when the leaves all die at once and fall off in clumps.  But always heard my northern cousins (Dallas area) talking about it.

For what it’s worth.  Could be worse.  Could be hot and humid all year ’round.  Enjoy what’cha got!

The Indonesian Bureau Managing Editor,

Bernard Grover

Hmmm…a thought provoking point there on Indian summers, which means I shall henceforth be referring to them as Zombie Summers…zombies being the modern catch-all for what we no longer dare speak which is nuts, but that’s ‘Merrica for you…

Oh and here’s an email on that point from reader Joe K…


I’m an urbansurvival freebie blog reader for a couple of years now, reading from central Argentina.  This is my first email to you, in response to Saturday’s post.  Very intriguing to see those thought processes develop in you.

Good call on the evolution of “the Others,” now being represented by zombies.  But I still find your dismissing of this evolution as being about PoliticalCorrectness to be incomplete: the zombie Others represent our fear of being compromised into a life of stupidity and drudgery, and of those who have already succumbed. 
Wheres the noble savages were slaughtered in support of modernity – out with the old and in the with new –  killing zombies questions modernity and what it produces.

Thanks for your work!


Yet another sage observation.  I know there’s a billion dollar business in there somewhere.  I have to come up with a way to monetize zombies.

Look,  if the humane societies can raise millions in support of dogs that bite people and promote the cult of picking up warm, steamy lumps of poop with plastic bags in foul weather, people will buy damn near anything.  Yet, we let these cult members vote! Is this a great country or what? 

I wonder if Adopt a Zombie has potential? Or…GreenZee?

Not Much Work to Flying

Assuming the planned sequential miracles happen today:  I find a power supply, get it in, finish up consulting deadlines, finish the Peoplenomics report for tomorrow, and get packed and preflight the old Beechcrate, we’ll be off tomorrow for Branson, MO and our annual sit-down with Robin Landry to look at longer-term economic cycles.

I know that sounds exciting to some, what getting an an airplane of your own and flying hither and thither depending on weather, but it’s really dirt simple, at least on the way up with perfect weather and fall colors.  If flying was difficult, would I do it?

All you need to be able to do is pull back on a yoke (twice) and make six turns.

  • Take-off on runway heading by pulling back yoke after firewalling engine
  • Turn 1  (gentle right) to Fort Smith, AR  Contact ATC, have Elaine wake me up in 2 hours
  • Turn 2 to KPLK (Branson downtown) Snooze another half hour.
  • Turn 3 to enter Branson pattern on a 45  (barely discernable turn if I do it right)
  • Turn 4 to downwind
  • Turn 5 to base leg
  • Turn 6 to final approach
  • Reduce power, pull back on the yoke for a second time for nice full stall landing.

imageThe Traffic Pattern is pretty simple.  You take off and land into the wind.

OK, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but not much.  the hardest part was learning to use the Little John – Portable Urinal for Men on long flights with too much coffee.  Even that, once mastered, is a skill that has other applications, like when you get the flu or have a bad gout attack and getting out of bed hurts worse than death.  The older men get, the more practical we become, I’ve concluded, if you don’t mind a bit too much information…

There’s no better time of the year than Fall to go flying – and if you’ve never done it, you can show up at almost any general aviation airport in the country with  $100 bill and get a one hour introduction to flying with little notice.

Flying will not fix all that ails you.  It will give you an incentive to keep the weight off, no drugs, one drink a day max, and maintain something of a mental edge.  It’s not free, but a suitable airplane costs less than a decked out mid-range SUV.  they go a lot faster and no tickets for speeding.  Just keep it under 250 knots below 10,000 feet, which is easy because our wings would blow off at 200.

Not that I’m trying to line up work for flight instructors, but it’s a viable alternative to standing in the grope line for a commercial ride.  And it’s fun to make your own schedule.

OK… back to reality…off in my quest for a power supply…  Redundancy, I tell you, Redundancy I tell you…

Write when you break even