Ramble Log

This is my ramble about various topics. You will see them listed in reverse order that I write them so that the newest entries are on top.

NOTE: These are whatever I feel like writing. The content frequently expresses my own opinions and nothing should be considered an absolute fact. It's up to YOU to verify the validity of any thing said here.

Note also that I won't intentionally lie to you. I will always give this my best effort to be factual. If you have any questions about anything here drop me an email at: - I am NOT looking for rants, critiques, or corrections. You can expect me to ignore any of these.


Getting Back to 'Normal' - Jun 2, 2020

With restaurants and other businesses (I got a haircut!) opening back up it's now time to decide how much I really want to participate.

The pandemic is still with us and controlling it's spread is still the only way to keep it from swamping our health care system. I do think that control is possible.

Although the lockdown process in Ohio might have been more extreme than necessary it has gotten everyone's attention. Most importantly it has educated the people who are most vulnerable about what extra precautions they need to take. It has also given us all time to think about how we will deal with life when restrictions are gradually lifted. My own philosophy, currently, looks like this:

  • I'm still mostly staying at home. I have been going out more (mall walking).
  • I'm getting together, on a limited basis, with trusted friends.
  • I'm thinking about doing an occasional restaurant visit. I'm not sure about this one yet though.
  • I'm very aware about people around me and am paying close attention to how they are respecting my social distancing. If they are being stupid about it, I walk away from them.
  • I do wear a mask into any business I visit. The mask is not about protecting me, it's about protecting others. It's a sign of respect.
I expect to revise this list as time goes on and I see real movement in the statistics.

Of course the game changes dramatically if we have a solid treatment system (that keeps people from dying) and/or a viable vaccine.

There is still so much we don't know about this virus and won't come out for perhaps years down the road. One thing for sure, there will be a high demand for maternity services come December and January!


The Mall - Closed for Looting? Not Really! - Jun 2, 2020

I went to the mall today to do some walking and was confronted with a 'Closed Until Further Notice' sign. Bummer.

Looking at their website it says that they are closed because of looting - which all of the news sources and the Akron police are reporting as a theft, not a looting.

It would appear that this is a crime of opportunity and unrelated to other recent events.

In my opinion (everything on this site is my opinion!) this has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic or the events in Minneapolis. It would seem to be some 'pent up demand' of a group of thugs and criminals who have been shut in by the coronavirus related restrictions.

Note that there is NOTHING on their Facebook page about this. It's only on their website - which is odd because their website is frequently way behind with timely information.

By the way, the store that was robbed is not what I would really call a jewelry store - it's a second (or third) tier seller of less than high end jewelry. With any luck the thieves got junk jewelry and will be laughed at by any fence they try to unload the stuff on.

The only real jewelry store that was in the mall was in the process of closing when the mall closed in March. It was completely closed up when the mall opened back up in May.


Reality of ALL Manufactured Things - May 17, 2020

Although my original thoughts on this subject right now are on coronavirus testing systems, this applies to pretty much anything that needs built. There will be, almost universally, three factors in development. For example, coronavirus testing needs:

  1. Accuracy (most important)
  2. Speed
  3. Low cost
For any system, no matter what it is, you can only pick TWO from the list of three. You cannot get all three. That means there are three possibilities. For our coronavirus example you can get:
  1. Accuracy and speed (high cost)
  2. Accuracy and low cost (but slow)
  3. Speed and low cost (with poor accuracy)
Which do you choose? Any choice without accuracy is useless. In my mind the best choice here is accuracy and low cost - particularly if I have to pay for it. I'll wait a while for the results.


The Mall Two Days Later - May 16, 2020

I went mall walking today but there were zero other mall walkers today. It is a Saturday so the mall walkers are expected to be fewer. Some actual shoppers started to show up.

Their attitude did not make me feel comfortable. The security guard for the day was NOT wearing a mask (as is required) and at least one vendor was not wearing a mask (also required) either. After only one round I decided to bail out and go home.

I made a real count today instead of figuring the losses against the count from back in January. The count from two days ago is definitely wrong. Of the 62 storefronts available, 17 (27%) at least appear to be occupied. Only 6 (10%) appear to be actually open. Some might be opening later in the day but I doubt it. A couple of these stores have signage posted that says when they are reopening.

A couple of the kiosks have closed down. Only one of the two food vendors appears to be open. I would expect both of them to be open on a Saturday.

As stores open (or disappear) I'll post updates.


As The Restrictions Ease Up ... - May 15, 2020

Restrictions on businesses and activities is starting to be eased up in Ohio. There are some restrictions. There are some recommendations. It's up to YOU to decide what you will do.

I'm still a bit uneasy. I'm not worried for the most part but I am worried about what some idiot will do that endangers everybody around them. I am ready to just walk away from what looks like a dangerous situation.

I was going to go into a store yesterday and decided against it because there were so many vehicles parked in front of the store. No bargain is worth exposing yourself to infection.

Some simple guidance:

  1. Decide what YOU are going to do to curtail the spread. That should be when and where you are going to go out as well as what actions you will take. Do you only go out early to avoid the crowds? Do you only go out one or two times a week? Are you always going to wear a mask?
  2. Determine what level of interaction you want to tolerate. I'm personally avoiding any large crowd (too much opportunity for stupidity) which means I'm usually going places early or at least in off hours. That's not really any different from what I was doing before but I'm now more thoughtful about it.
  3. Make a plan for handling certain situations:
    • What you do when someone approaches you and wants to shake hands?
    • At what point do you just walk (or run) away from a crowded situation?
    • What do you say to a friend who wants to invade your 2 meter (6 foot) social distancing space?
    • How do you handle a store employee who is not practicing the required precautions?
So many things to think about. It's important to think about them ahead of time and be prepared to do what you know is safe for YOU.


The Mall - Open Again (updated) - May 14, 2020

Chapel Hill Mall opened back up on Tuesday and I finally got there today to get a look at what has changed. Somewhat surprisingly, not much.

There were two stores in the process of closing when the mall closed. One is for sure is gone and the other one appears to be in that process. There's still stuff in the store but not much. It may just be a matter of someone coming in and cleaning it out.

One more store, T-Mobile, appears to be gone. There's still some miscellaneous stuff in there but nothing of any real value. I'd say they're gone considering they have another store fairly close by.

Penney's looks pretty much the same as they did before the shutdown. They were planning on ending things near the end of April so they may actually be done. There is still some merchandise in the store though.

I would not have been surprised if other stores had closed up before the mall reopened. Some stores have not yet re-opened but appear to be active. Some have re-opened. Time will tell which will really still be there.

(Incorrect) That leaves 19 main concourse stores still open of 62 storefronts. That's just above 30%.

I'm planning on going back to mall walking - which no longer starts early. Since the mall doesn't open until 11 that shifts the walking time to 2 hours later than usual.


It's been a while - May 4, 2020

Half a month since the last update. Definitely overdue.

For those of you reading this at a much later date or those of you who have been living under a rock, this is all about the Coronavirus that is still spreading throughout the state, country, and world.

Not much has changed really. I'm still mostly staying home and trying to find something to keep occupied with. It's not there isn't plenty to do - it's a matter of finding something that I WANT to do. It's sometimes hard to get motivated after six weeks of being cooped up.

But ... Ohio is now in this 'Responsible Restart' phase. It appears to be a reasonable approach - slow and cautious. It's a matter of if it can STAY slow and cautious. There is plenty of pressure from special interest groups to use the 'damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' approach. Hopefully we will be guided by common sense (which some people seem to lack) and going at reopening things in a controlled manner. When it comes down to it though it will be up to the individual what to do.

  • This thing is FAR from being over. It is NOT safe out there yet. Until we at least have a proven treatment that keeps people from dying It's not over. A vaccine would be best but that is likely not going to happen until sometime next year - no matter what you hear.
  • Practice social distancing and wear a mask. It's not so much for your protection but to show everyone else you care about THEIR health too. Don't be like our vice president and be the only person in the hospital WITHOUT a mask!
  • Don't go out unless you have to. I've been trying to keep my shopping to a single day each week and minimizing the number of places I visit. I also go early to avoid the crowds.
  • Do NOT be pushed into relaxing your standards just because you hear 'everybody else is' kind of arguments. It's your choice.
  • I know some of you have to work and will need to go back to your jobs. All I can say is Be Careful. Follow the company's instructions and if you don't feel they're good enough discuss it with the appropriate people. That might be your local health department if all else fails.
  • I confess to an 'eating out' episode last week. I went to Swenson's and picked up lunch. It's the first time I've eaten anything that I didn't fix myself in six weeks. I want MORE but I'll wait until I feel it's safer.
  • I REALLY need a haircut. I'll survive though. At my last haircut I thought about getting it cut very short. In hindsight that would have been a good idea.
  • And last but certainly not least - Thank You to all of our health care, police, fire, EMS, grocery and pharmacy workers (and other's I have unintentionally missed). Your efforts are keeping us all going.
I think enough rambling for now. Everyone Stay Safe and stay the course.


Coronavirus in Ohio - A Disturbing Trend - Apr 18, 2020

Just when it looked like things were starting to calm down in Ohio - they're not.

On April 14th there were 272 new confirmed cases. That's the lowest it's been since March 29th. It looked like it was turning the corner. Then, on April 15th through the 18th the new cases were 475, 611, 619, and 1,081 - all new records.

What is happening? Are we just testing better? Are we reporting better? Are we just slacking off and letting our grasp on taming this thing slip through our fingers?

I'm staying home for the next 2 weeks (except for walks) if I can.


General Observaions - Nothing Special - Apr 7, 2020

It's been a week since my last entry. Nothing much is happening so it's just the 'stay at home' routine.

And I've been slacking off - getting up when I felt like it and walking when I felt like it. I have been trying to definitely get out and walk if the weather permits but today was a day that I decided ahead of time NOT to go since it was going to rain. Well, by the time I realized it WASN'T going to rain it was too late. Tomorrow is another day.

I was grilling burgers yesterday when I realized that the birds seemed unusually noisy this year. It wasn't the birds though as I figured out by muting my hearing aids. Without the hearing aids I could not hear any of the birds. Another benefit of being able to hear properly.

It looks like Ohio is turning the corner with the virus. It's still early but the rate of growth seems to be slowing down. Time will tell of course. This might be mostly finished off by the end of the month but I expect the 'stay at home' will last longer to be sure it doesn't reassert itself.

For those of you thinking of getting together over the internet - AVOID the Zoom platform - it's got serious security issues and the developers don't seem to have any enthusiasm to fixing the shortcomings. There are other choices out there. I haven't used any of them so I can't do any recommendations.

I have enough supplies to get me through at least the end of April so no issues there. The only thing I really should go out for is the post office to check on the radio club's post office box. It's a good excuse to get the car out once a week.


An Amusing and Informative Comic - Mar 31, 2020

I've been following XKCD for a few years now. It's always been entertaining and now it's on a coronavirus thread:

https://xkcd.com/2284/

This is the first one in the series, click 'Next' for more. I'm sure there will be more.


Settling In for the Long Haul - Mar 31, 2020

It's going to be a while. Schools are closed through the end of April and I'm sure that the rest of the closings will soon follow. I know that it's for the best though.

There will be complainers out there that think that this is enough. It's not. I'm not listening to them. I'm doing what  I  think is right and staying home as much as possible. I plan on trying for 2 weeks between grocery runs. I've got food so that's not a problem. I've got plenty of toilet paper.

I do miss real contact with people. I miss eating out. I'll survive.

The TWO real reasons to STAY HOME are:

  1. I don't want to catch this virus from someone. I don't know how I would react to it and I really don't want to find out.
  2. I don't want to give this virus to someone. I'm pretty sure I don't have it so that probably wouldn't happen anyway. I certainly don't want to give it to someone and then figure out later that  I  was the one who made them sick or worse.


I also need to put a little more structure in my life for the next month. Warmer temperatures outside would help so I could walk more often. I really hate the cold so It's easy to just skip the walks.

Until next time ...


As the days go on - Mar 27, 2020

I just realized that is really getting to be rambling.

Well, it is getting kind of boring. I've been trying to still get some walking in and have been mostly successful. Yesterday it was 1.51 miles and that's about right for me over the not so flat neighborhood area.

I also did some shopping yesterday and was pleased to see that the shortages of a week ago are gone. Everything seemed to be well stocked (that I checked on) and at least for now was reasonably priced. I only went to Marc's where I got a good head of lettuce for 99 cents so I'm happy.

I got to try out my door pull hook that I designed and printed and it worked great. It's not a very polished project but it does work and is available at: http://www.ak8b.us/3d/DoorPullHook2.stl for anyone who wants it. I printed it at 0.2mm layer height with 30% infill using the gyroid pattern. It's in PLA and should last for the duration if you don't abuse it.

That's all for now. Just waiting around for 2:00 PM so I can post up the latest numbers on my chart.


And Now for Something Completely the Same - Mar 24, 2020

I know. Continued situation of very little variety in life.

It's better that than picking up some undesired virus or worse yet spreading it around. I do not expect this to end in early April. I expect it to continue THROUGH April. But I'd rather do my time inside and away from the bug than to be out and have us go into a rapid ramp up of cases that our hospitals can't cope with.

As one of my daily things to do I've been checking the statistics in Ohio every day at 2:00 PM and recording them in a spreadsheet. I then 'print' the spreadsheet to a PDF file and post it on my main web page at: http://www.ak8b.us/OHCOVID-19Statistics.pdf. I try to update it before 3:00 PM but I may slip sometimes. Today I had it updated before 2:10 but I fiddled with the graph for a while and had it 'finalized' by about 2:30.

No walk today or yesterday - too cold. I kind of thought it was a good excuse anyway. Tomorrow I'll have to get out.

I should only have to go out for groceries once a week - maybe not even that often. I'm pretty well stocked so I won't starve. It won't hurt for me to eat a bit less anyway. Maybe I can slim down just a bit.


Stay-At-Home order issued for Ohio - Mar 22, 2020

Starting on Tuesday (at midnight) all Ohio residents will be required to stay at home unless they have a real need to go out. There is a long list of those needs and of course a list of exceptions to this rule but basically you should stay home unless you really need to go out.

The order is scheduled to last for two weeks unless the order is rescinded or modified. That means it could end early - or it could be extended to a later date.

You can still take walks, get groceries, go to the doctor, and a few other specified activities.

You can find the text of the order here: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/public-health-orders/directors-order-to-stay-at-home

I'm planning on staying put until this all blows over although I may do a fling on Monday.


Another day another ... - Mar 21, 2020

It's Saturday. The weather is too cold for me to want to go walking so I'm staying inside.

I have been getting out and walking most days though. I don't yet have a settled route but I am trying a few. I'm taking my GPS (a real one - Garmin GPSMAP 64csx) so I can fairly measure how far I've gone. The step counter app in the phone worked OK in the mall where it was all flat and my stride distance was pretty even but when you're walking outside where there are hills it doesn't really work that well.

Watching the way this is all ramping up I've decided to stay put as much as possible and not go shopping unless I have to. I should be able to stay put for at least a week with what I have. It's the fresh food things that I'll have to buy. I have plenty of staples (even the kind that go in staplers) so I should be set.


Voiting Postponed, Changing Routine - Mar 17, 2020

Kind of a bummer, no voting.

Usually I have been walking in the morning - at the Mall. Not this morning though. I did some neighborhood walking and that worked OK. The weather was cool and cloudy but no rain. I can keep doing this while there is no rain (or snow) for a while at least. My efforts to walk the neighborhood have failed in the past as it's too easy to just put it off until the afternoon and then skip it. It worked well to have to go somewhere to do the walking.

A trip to the grocery yielded only one item of the three I went for and that wasn't exactly the item I had in mind (but close enough).


Ohio Voting is On or Off? - Mar 16, 2020

Back and forth ...

Check the news in the morning to find out whether we vote or not.


Let's Squash This Thing NOW - Mar 16, 2020

It's time to squash this bug before it gets out of hand.

Yes, we will all be inconvenienced. We will all have to make sacrifices. Hopefully you are already prepared for a long siege and don't have to battle the crowds and shortages in the stores.

In Ohio, schools are closed for at least 3 weeks. Most social gatherings are curtailed, restaurants and bars are closed. Much of your social interactions are going to suffer.

You should already have supplies for 2-4 weeks:

  • Food. Some foods that keep well are not a bad idea.
  • Liquids. Bottled water is OK but unless your local tap water is really awful you should use that instead. Save the bottled water for the situation when your local water supply is interrupted for some reason.
  • Consumable supplies. This is where the toilet paper comes in.
  • Medications for the next month (at all times).
  • Treatment for if you get the disease. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fever control is probably the best. Generics work fine. A 2 week supply is probably sufficient.
  • Something to keep busy with.
If you don't have the above list covered, do so NOW. Expect shortages and crowds in the stores. This is not a good situation and picking a time (probably early) can help.

Keep in touch with someone on a daily basis. This may be a long siege and regular contact with a few people is a good idea.

Good luck to you all and I'll see you on the other side.


My Thoughts and Observations on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) - March 2020

I thought for quite a while about whether I really wanted to write this or not. What convinced me was the wealth of misinformation that I have seen. I hope that I can inspire at least one person to do some research of their own to get the facts.

For us in the United States the best source of true information is the Center for Disease Control or CDC. They have all of the best information that is updated often, frequently daily. Every other news source is either second hand news or worse. Get your information straight from the source.

My thoughts and observations:

  • If you are reasonably healthy this shouldn't be any real risk for you.
  • If you have respiratory problems or other risk factors that make you more susceptible to getting sick you should be more vigilant and avoid large groups where you might contract the disease. Everyone should take precautions that can reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease such as frequent hand washing and avoiding contact of your hands and face.
  • If you are experiencing the symptoms you should contact your doctor or medical provider to discuss your condition. Symptoms include:
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Respiratory issues (trouble breathing)
  • DO NOT just go to your doctor or medical facility UNTIL you call to discuss your symptoms. The one exception I would make to this advice is if you are in respiratory distress. Not being able to breathe is serious!
  • Face masks are NOT really useful unless YOU are sick and trying to help keep others from getting sick. This virus, or any other virus, will easily pass through any face mask you can buy. If you are wearing it and you sneeze or cough there is usually some moisture going along with it and the face mask can capture this.
  • One of the different things about this virus is that you can pass it on to someone else before you know you have it. This is probably the most scary trait of this disease's spread.
  • This may pass without really affecting us in the area... but it may not. With our very mobile society it would not be unexpected to see areas of infection pop up all over.
  • If you do get sick your health care professional may tell you to shelter in place - that means STAY HOME!
  • Be prepared! Do not expect that you can run out to the store and buy supplies when you need them. For one thing, you're probably already sick and shouldn't be going out anyway. Second is that if you're sick there may be several others who are also sick and trying to buy needed supplies. Stock up on what you need NOW. Supplies should include:
    • A method to measure your temperature. Get it now if you don't already have something.
    • Something to control your fever. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil) work well.
    • Food and drink for at least two weeks. You may not need as much because you probably won't be all that active. Buy at least some things that have a long life.
    • A plan to keep you from going stir crazy. Books, TV, old magazines, etc.
    • Think about who would be worried about you and make plans to keep in contact.
  • Make a plan to stay in contact with someone on at least a daily basis. Choose whatever method you like – phone call, text message, email, carrier pigeon...
And again, go research things at the Center for Disease Control website. Satisfy yourself that you are well informed and ready if this virus affects you.


VOTE!

March 17th (of 2020) is Ohio's primary election day. Yes, it's 'only' a primary election and not as important as the one in November but you should STILL get out there and vote - it's your right and duty.

I'm not going to tell you how to vote. That's up to you.

Selecting how to vote will require some effort on your part. Ideally you should research each candidate and issue on the ballot. That will take some work on your part.

Is all that worth it? Of course it is. You will learn a lot just with your research. You will find some uncontested positions on the ballot. Your vote won't really make any difference there. When there is a choice is where you can make a difference - or at least express your opinion.

If you think your tiny single vote won't make a difference you are partially right - but you are also wrong. If everyone thinks that way then your vote truly is useless. But your single vote, multiplied by however many people decide to express their opinion anyway, can be a powerful force. Besides, if you don't vote than you have ZERO credibility when you complain that you didn't like the way things turned out.


The Mall - February 2020

I've been walking in the mall (Chapel Hill) for a few years now. I do this for some consistent exercise and I do it most days except Sundays. It's not the most exciting place to walk but it is a sheltered environment (not too hot or too cold) and the terrain is flat with nothing to trip over.

As you may know, the mall has been falling on some hard times. I occasionally counted occupied stores (and empty ones) and kept a record of the counts starting in September 2018. I only counted storefronts on the concourse which excludes kiosks, anchor stores, and the food court. There are 62 store fronts total in this group. Here's my count of open stores:

  • Sep 2018 - 27
  • Oct 2018 - 27
  • Nov 2018 - 28 ?
  • Jan 2019 - 25
  • Mar 2019 - 24
  • Jul 2019 - 22 ?
  • Oct 2019 - 23
  • Jan 2020 - 21
Since the last count above one store has closed and two more stores are closing soon ('Everything Must Go!' sales) as I write this so the number will be going down some more at the next count.

JC Penney has announced that they will be closing in late April so you expect the exodus to accelerate. I'm now playing the game of predicting which store will be next to leave.


Hearing Aids - February 2020

Yes, I now have them. They are WONDERFUL devices and I now hear things that I have missed, and didn't know I was missing, for several years. They are also not cheap and most insurance plans (including mine) do not pay for them. If you consider the number of years that they are expected to last it's not all that bad.

Let's back up a bit and talk about my hearing. I'm old (on Medicare) so my hearing has been deteriorating over the years. It's a gradual process and you don't really notice it in your everyday life. You do little things to compensate (turn up the TV) and that masks that a significant hearing loss is happening.

I also have a more serious problem in my right ear that causes what I do hear to be highly distorted and not really useful - except to get a sense of what direction the sound is coming from. I can make out some things, particularly if I have a little time to 'process' what I hear. My reaction is usually to turn toward the source so I can hear it in both ears and that helps. This condition is being monitored and there has been no progression of the situation in several years but they order an MRI every couple of years to check.

I've had the hearing aids for about a month now and I am really appreciating sounds that I wasn't hearing before. Are there problems with them? Of course there are:

  • They can sometimes be too loud. It's easy to turn them down temporarily though.
  • My ears, particularly the right one, are still adjusting to the physical presence. They will conform eventually.
  • They are not earmuff friendly. I can't wear the earmuffs for long periods of time now. My big Heil headphones seem to be just fine though.
  • Switching glasses is more of a challenge. It's a task now best accomplished with two hands. I can live with it.
  • Sometimes, particularly with a glasses swap, the behind-the-ear part sometimes pops out of position and just kind of hangs there with the in-the-ear part still stuck in the ear. It no doubt looks weird but it doesn't take long to correct either.
  • They were EXPENSIVE! It's also county tax time so things are a bit tight at the moment. I can deal with it though.
None of these things are a terrible hardship. I can work out solutions that are at least acceptable and most of the time just a minor change in the way I do things.

About the Hearing Aids: After some issues with my first choice of brand, we (my Audiologist and I) settled on Oticon. There are a variety of models, all have Bluetooth connection with my phone and they talk to each other so if I lower the volume on one the other does it too. From the phone app I can control them individually. Mine also have rechargeable batteries which easily last all day. I just drop them in the charger (they work pretty much like the Apple AirPods) every night and they're ready to go in an hour or so. Much less trouble than changing out disposable batteries. I have not come close to running them down yet. The phone app will show you how much battery life you have left and it's not gotten below 50% yet.

About the Audiologist: I can't say enough about how happy I am with the service I've gotten from Akron General ENT out in Fairlawn. They are one of the best experiences I have had anywhere. I highly recommend them.

That's all for now. I'll see if I can remember to post an update some time in the future.