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Showing posts from 2019

A new radio: Retekess PR15 AM/FM/Weather Radio

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That's right - the radio bug bit again so I bought a Retekess PR15 AM/FM/Weather radio from eBay for the total price of $12.99. It took 5 days to arrive with a US return address but a Chinese customs tag attached so I assume it was shipped from China.

I first saw the radio in this video:


The radio takes 2 AAA batteries and has a DSP tuner. The combo volume control/power is on top. The tuning dial is on the right side.

I had been wanting a small radio I can keep in my bag for when I am sitting at the school waiting on my daughter to get out of various practices. My car radio turns off after a few minutes and I don't want to sit there with the car running just to listen to the radio. Having the weather band is a nice bonus although our weather forecasts are now as close as our phones.

The radio ended up being even smaller than I thought it would be.

It's not as wide as a playing car and just barely taller. The antenna is eight inches in length.
Reception is pretty good on FM…

A few subtle changes and a couple of videos

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Just a few changes to report on this Friday that has finally arrived. What a long week it seems like it has been even though it's been no longer than any other week, of course.
I deleted my Anchor.fm account so Up In This Brain! Lite is no more. I don't need two podcasts. I barely have enough ideas for one. It was an interesting experiment that is now over. I will move forward sharing all of my pointless thoughts in one podcast and right here as I did before.I've changed up the name of this site. I really didn't like "Word Hut" and I couldn't think of anything better than what I ended up with. The site address stayed the same so your feeds and whatnot are all good and will be forevermore.I've decided not to do Camp NaNoWriMo this year. I just had a change of heart on that. There are other things I need to focus my time on, rest being one of them, and having an appointment set with writing every day for 30 days feels sort of pointless. I've been wri…

Music? There's an algorithm for that!

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I was reading the latest "issue" or "edition" or whatever you would call the latest the collected ahp newsletter and this part got stuck in my head and relates a bit to what I talked about on the latest episode of Up In This Brain.
I’ve written before about spending more time hanging out with your own mind, and this was a perfect mix of that and just listening to music without distraction, which is something I’ve found myself doing less and less — a product of the rise of podcasts, I think, and the decline of “organized” music ownership. (Infinite music, it turns out, somehow doesn’t encourage infinite listening). Bam! This is exactly what I have been thinking about lately and it is what prompted me last week to pack my laptop backpack not with a laptop but with my Sony cassette player and my case of cassettes.

 I bet there's a laptop in there!
Nope!
This is the case I had in my car in high school and college. It's been pretty much unchanged since 1994 and I…

Stubbornness drives me forward

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When the readership numbers here are abysmal but I post something anyway or when I feel like I really have nothing to say on the podcast but record anyway, I wonder, albeit only briefly, why am I doing this?

The only answer I can come up with is stubbornness. I'm just too stubborn to quit.

It's not spite. Spite would mean I am writing or recording because I am angry or I want to actually inflect pain on someone. Come to think of it, sometimes I think there are certain podcasters who are indeed recording out of spite and they probably enjoy the thought of the listeners being tortured by listening.

Remember when Jerry returned his pants out of spite?



I will stick with being stubborn as my fuel to create and with being unwilling to quit even if no one hears what I say or reads my words.

I will continue forth, tossing my ideas into this abyss known as internet.

Gearing up for Camp NaNoWriMo

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I've done NaNoWriMo a few times over the years (and even "won" in 2018) but I've never participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. I've always been curious about it as I've watched it come and go. But this year, this year is going to be different!


I did not want to sign up to write another novel and that's ok because Camp NaNoWriMo lets you bring any project to the writing table so I have chosen as my April 2019 project to write right here on this very site, at least one post each day of the month at a minimum of 250 words. The word count is being kept fairly low (in fact, I might lower it a bit more than 250 words a day) on purpose because my main goal is just to come here and post daily. 
About what? Who knows! I'm not planning to do a lot of prep. I'm just going to sit down at the laptop at some point every day and post something (anything).
I have also committed to not "cheat" by writing "All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy" ov…

My latest radio purchase: Eton Executive Satellit

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A couple of weeks ago, I opened up Facebook Marketplace, which I do from time to time although I had never bought anything on it and one of the suggested items surprised me. In hindsight, it shouldn't have because Facebook obviously knows more about me than I know about myself. It was a shortwave radio and I do love radios. This particular radio is one I had been curious about for a while and the price was insanely low and the seller was just about sixty miles away.

The radio, which I picked up last weekend, is an Eton Executive Satellit. It was being sold as new in box for the insanely low price of $25. That's right, a radio that typically sells for around $110 new, for $25. It seemed too good to be true.

The pictures were of the radio in the box. I asked if it had been tested. It had. The seller had multiple good reviews. I went for it.

And, I'm glad I did. It ended up being exactly as described.


I did place a piece of Dim It Light Dimming Sheet over the display because …

Sweater repair

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I finally had to repair the pockets of my cardigan sweater. The pockets had slowly separated from the sweater and had begun to resemble loose flaps. This was quite unsightly and bordered on embarrassing.

This particular sweater, one of two that I bought on clearance at the local outlet mall, probably in 2003, hangs over the chair in my home office and never leaves the house. I use it on chilly days when I don't want to turn on the heat and on warmer days when the air conditioning is going full blast but I don't want to turn it down because the sun bakes the side of the house where the home office is later in the afternoons.

I've worn it many times and I probably don't wash it often enough but it serves me well and has a nice Perry Como vibe to it.

Here it is, folded back, right before the repair procedure commenced. I used a wonderful product called Liquid Stitch and glued those pockets nicely back in place and then I placed stacks of books on each pocket to apply pres…

Ploink ploink ploink

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It is still raining here and I am sitting at the kitchen table, typing this out on my newly-fixed and back in service Asus Transformer (more on that in a bit) and I am listening to the rain coming down. I can hear it hitting the panes of glass on the window beside me and also, I guess, colliding with the deck that is right on the other side. Or maybe that is the sound of the rain making contact with the gutter that runs along just to the upper right of where I sit.

Ploink ploink ploink.

It has been raining for what seems like weeks. We've probably had a foot of rain here this month and dark, gloominess and flooding are our constant companions now. School is out today because they didn't want to risk getting students out of their homes only to have no way to get them back if this is just enough rain to push the creeks and streams into the roads. So far, so good but the heavier rain is still on the way.


Ploink ploink ploink.

I normally don't hear the sound the raindrops make…

Dim

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It's gloomy here today. In fact, it is so dark at times that I nearly need to turn on the lights and it's not even 1PM yet.


I resist turning on the lights because I am not a big fan of artificial lighting and I will do as much as I can with as little natural light as is available before giving in and turning on either the drafting lamp attached to my work desk or the small lamp that sits on a dresser directly behind me.

I especially don't like overhead lighting but I'm not exactly sure why.

Maybe it has to do with my wearing glasses for the last four decades and how much brightness and glare seems to bother me more with each passing year.

Maybe I am carrying on a trait of my great-grandmother who would often sit in her chair until it was totally dark, seeing no need to get up and turn on a lamp, which could be quite creepy because I would come home and turn on the light and there she would be, in what was a few seconds before a completely dark room.

Maybe less light ju…

A tale of two tweets

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I opened Twitter this morning and found that Frozen 2 was trending. Yep, they released a teaser trailer for Frozen 2 and Twitter went nuts.

Well, kind of nuts. Frozen 2 and other Frozen 2 related words like Elsa and Olaf are trending but only in the thousands of tweets.

Maybe Twitter is losing it's mojo.

Anyway, I thought of something I felt was mildly funny (barely) and tweeted it as follows:
If this was the 80's, they would have called it Frozen Again: Back in the Deep Freeze.

Ha Ha Ha! Right?

<crickets>

I was looking at that tweet and I clicked on the little "View Tweet Activity" and in 30 minutes, I had a very paltry 14 impressions. Of course, I had no hashtags and was doing nothing at all to try to break through the noise of Twitter to viral goodness.

That's when I decided to retool my tweet. I copied it, deleted it, pasted it back and added the official Disney hashtag for the movie and mentioned "Frozen 2" in the tweet. I also made a minor ch…

Is it social media or is it just a website?

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I was reading something this morning (that I sadly did not bookmark for later and apparently wasn't memorable enough to remember aside from what I am about to write about) which mentioned what the writer thought was the "Facebook killer" we've all been waiting for when we all know there is no such thing.

This is one I haven't heard of before and I'm not going to share it here because I don't want to be responsible for anyone joining it out of the misguided thought that it is different from any other social media website no matter what they say in their mission statement or whatever they call it.


Unlike Ello, this one is free to start but has charges as you go on. Need more gigs of space than they allow you? You go from free to $5 a month. If I'm paying for space, it's really like I'm paying for a website. When does it stop being social media and start being a website. Couldn't I just create a site like this one right here or buy one over a…

Experiments in podcasting

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I have had an Anchor account since late last year. I had played around with it thinking their app might be a bossjock replacement but luckily, we have Backpack Studio now so there has been no need to use it.

I remembered the account just yesterday because Spotify bought Anchor and Gimlet Media and I downloaded the app again and looked at it but thought, will I ever have a use for this?

Well, this morning, I am on the Discord and told the group that I was on the way to McDonald's and Doug suggested I record that trip so I ended up with a short audio file that I guess I could have made a part of an Up In This Brain episode but I decided to take the opportunity to finally use that languishing Anchor account so here we are - the birth of yet another podcast!


The clips don't blend together as well as I would have liked. I recorded my audio on my iPhone with Voice Memo and imported that clip along with the intro and outro into the Anchor app. I probably could have edited it a bit. I…

Peeking over the fence

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I peek out over the fence into the vast internet as I type this out.

This blog post is my "Helllllllllooooooooo, ooooouuuttttt tttttthhhhheeeeerrrrreeee!?"


I keep retreating back to the blog and away from social media because I am really trying to limit my exposure to all of the noise. And by noise, I mean all of the things I don't want to see and the things I don't want presented to me via angry/uninformed/half-informed/biased social media but instead via a respectable news source, reported on by people with (hopefully) as little bias as possible.

Alan Jacobs wrote about this recently, explaining that he does not have Facebook nor Twitter nor does he watch the news but instead reads the news once a week so he completely bypasses the online outrage over certain events.

I'm too scared to go that long without the news. I find myself having to check in on the news at least a few times a day because I have no news apps on my phone so nothing would automatically notify…

Finally February

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The gloomiest month, the big letdown after Christmas month, is finally over.

It's February and the F might as well stand for fool as I am trying to fool my mind into thinking that we're on the way to spring while trying not to think about how we're not even half-way through winter. Maybe, just maybe, it won't be a terribly cold and snowy February no matter what the rodent does tomorrow.

It seems like it's been chilly since October but I think a lot of it has to do with all of the rain we've had since the end of September. In fact, after tomorrow, rain is in the forecast for all of next week starting Monday. Blurgh!

Whatever happens, I'm ready to get out of the house a bit more than I have over the last few days (Thanks, Polar Vortex. Please don't come back.)

The forecast the weekend is:

So, this computer is going to be off (actually, as soon as I hit publish on this post) and I'm going to get out and enjoy this little taste of spring while I can. I …

Blogfading and podfading and what comes next

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One of the blogs I follow in Feedly appears to have wrapped it up today and that makes me wonder yet again if this format, this medium (an appropriate word if we are treating this as a creative outlet or art), is slowly fading away.

You could argue that the blog concept has been ruined by marketers that use the term blog to promote their products or their lifestyles or products that support their lifestyles and that might be true. When I think of the word blog in 2019, even I think of ending up on a site where the first thing that happens is a pop-up pleading for my email address appears and I can close it out only to have it pop back up before I can even read half of the article I am there to read.


Personal bloggers like myself are becoming extinct. And, personal bloggers that became personal podcasters also appear to be heading in that same direction.

I'm intrigued by newsletters. I've toyed with that idea before but never got it off the ground. I subscribe to a few and I…

Blergh Monday

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Every time I got close to doing something even slightly creative today, I got stopped.

There seemed to be no end to to-do’s today.

Chores.

Paperwork.

Phone calls.

Even one place still in the dark ages where I had to choose between mailing and faxing papers.

Email? Nope, they can’t accept emails. So much for the technological revolution.

And it appears we’re going to miss out on the snow which is a shame because my hopes were up for a lot of things I have to do getting cancelled this week. I was looking forward to spending that free time reading.

Now I get two nights of pipe watch instead.

Blergh.

I guess this post counts as something creative, kinda, sorta.

Twitter is putting raisins in the salad

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Twitter is about to force out the annoying Home/Recent Tweets toggle out to the browser interface. It's already on my iPad and iPhone and it's frustrating as all get out, especially when I am opening Twitter to see weather information via the various sources I follow and the timeline has switched itself back to Home so it's all out of order.


Sadly, there is no good alternative (yet) to Twitter. Instagram suffers from an algorithm that seems to be even worse and Facebook is a steaming pile of crap.

I wonder why Facebook stinks so much? Maybe it's because the people we are "friends" with are or were real former friends or they are relatives or acquaintances and we're more reluctant to unfriend them so their trash posts seep through while we can be a bit more selective on Twitter. I don't know.

Back to the new Twitter deal, at the moment, I think I still tweet about as much as I ever did but I find myself only opening the app when I have something to sha…

What's my mission?

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I have no defined, guiding mission for this site.


Same with the podcast.

Should it be light, entertaining fluff and a diversion from the ups and downs of your day?

Or should it be a real-life snapshot of what's on my mind during the moment that I press record?

Episode 415 of the podcast, coming out later today, is a bit of a departure (as was last week's episode) because in the past I have leaned towards the light, entertaining fluff and that has resulted in many deleted recordings or moments when I considered recording but I just didn't and then I felt resentment when eventually recording and posting light, entertaining fluff.

Episode 415 is filled with real-life snapshots of what has been on my mind. There is no light, entertaining fluff. It's me and my frustrations with our government and our society and myself and my inaction, etc. etc.

Episode 415 will have some of you scratching your heads. If you want me to be a far-left liberal, you'll be disappointed. If y…

The reluctant shopper

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I am doing my best in 2019 to avoid shopping and I won't say that it's going great but it is going OK. There is improvement!

I'm staying away from stores as much as I can but I still have to go to Walmart where I am always tempted to go down the clearance aisle and I got unfortunately validated by this by finding a pair of shoes in my size for half off after blowing out my poor old Sketchers during the last marching band season loading and unloading the truck.

But then, in a light bulb moment, I searched for the exact same shoes I had just tossed that were so very comfortable and bam! I found them on eBay from a liquidator for $20 NEW shipped while they cost $70 in the store. BUY IT NOW! They are currently on my feet.


So, I have two new pairs of shoes, both at bargain prices.

Still, I'm trying to get out of the habit of just going to Amazon and eBay at the slightest whim but I needed something so THE SEARCH WAS ON and I found what I needed on Amazon at what seems like …

Winter break comes to an end

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Everyone is back to work and school today and I am holding fort here at the house in the home office with the three dogs. It's oddly quiet around here today and I typically find that silence hard to get used to at first but not this time. I think I have been ready to get back into the normal routine. I can turn off the radio or podcasts I am listening to and there is silence - GLORIOUS SILENCE!

Another winter afternoon on the deck with the radios

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It was even warmer today (around 65 degrees) so I decided to spend a bit of time out on the deck with just the shortwave radios, the Tecsun PL-660 and the Tecsun PL-606 and this time I did remember to use the extended antenna on the PL-606 so the results were much better.


First, I ran an ETM scan across the shortwave bands and looked up each of the ten stations it put into the ETM memory. Then, I went up both the 31 meter and 49 meter bands with the PL-660 to see if it pulled in anything that the PL-606 did not.

Here are the results:
The usual suspects (high power locals) were back again today - WRMI in Miami, WINB in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, WTWW (which is only a few miles from my house) and Radio Martí but the Cuban jamming was not making it up here hardly at all today. Radio Exterior de España made an appearance today on 9690, transmitting from Nobejas, Spain at a distance of 4,339 miles. That was the furthest away catch on the PL-606.The Cuban numbers station was whirring away with …

A Winter afternoon on the deck with the radios

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It was a beautiful day here today with a high way up around 60 degrees and sunshine and I had nothing planned so I grabbed an Americano from Starbucks, my notepad and pencils and my radios and spent about an hour and a half out on the deck tuning around the shortwave and medium wave (AM) bands.


I started off with an ETM scan of the shortwave bands on my Tecsun PL-606. If you're not familiar with ETM (Easy Tuning Method), ETM scans the selected band and puts decently strong signals into temporary memory so you can quickly tune through what it found.

Unfortunately, I forgot to attach the antenna extender that came with the PL-606 so it did not pick up a whole lot but that's ok. I normally scan the bands quickly with the PL-606 and then slowly tune up and down the bands with the PL-660 which is quite fantastic on shortwave.

Some of the interesting catches I found on shortwave on my Tecsun radios today included:
Radio Martí on 9565 and 11930 and both frequencies were being jammed q…

Welcome to the Word Hut

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I finally got around to completing my template tweaks for this site for 2019. I had a few ideas in mind and I've managed to get back to a template that looks fairly uniform across phones, tablets and laptops. Blogger does you no favors in this regard - there are not many choices template-wise and customizing things is a bit of a pain.

But, the price of Blogger can't be beat. To have a Wordpress site with a custom url would cost about $100 a year plus the price of the domain. Here at Blogger, I can post for nothing! And that's about what these posts are worth so it all comes out even.

Since I went to using a subdomain, I also now have the freedom to change the title of the blog regardless of the url and picking a name was probably the most difficult thing about the whole process. I finally ended up with Jason's Word Hut because I'm Jason, of course, and there are words here, not to be confused with the podcast, and hut is reminiscent of Pizza Hut which was a fun pla…

Communication breakdown

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I can't think of anything that frustrates me more than lack of communication. I think a lot of folks live in their own little worlds where they are the star of their own show and they don't think any of their plans or needs impact anyone else. So, they forget to or just don't bother to:
Put their events on the calendarAdd what they need to the grocery listTell anyone what they are doing until the very last secondEtc. etc. etc.

What I do and what I need to do and what I need to have bought for me (if I am not the one suffering through the weekly shopping and it's quite rare that I get a pass on that suffering) impacts the other people in my house. Of course, communication breakdowns can happen at work or in other parts of our lives also and the results are the same.
A little planning goes a long way to reduce confusion and avoid frustration, at least for me. 
I do everything I can to clearly communicate with everyone around me, often asking questions and repeating inform…

Refuse the muse

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As I stated on the latest Garbagecast when talking about resolutions, there were several times over the last week that I had an idea for something to write here and I resisted the urge, fulfilling my declared vacation from this site and from the podcast from Christmas Eve until, well, today.


It's tough for me to refuse the muse because I know there will be droughts in the creative life from time to time that can last days or longer so I always feel like I should give in to the creative urges when they come because there is no guarantee that those urges will come again anytime soon.

But I also know that breaks are needed and I haven't been all that great at committing to breaks in the past and eventually I have suffered the consequences by really hitting the creative wall after exhausting myself to the point of frustration.

I certainly wasn't productive at all during my break which was exactly the point. I put a few of the ideas I had in Todoist so not all was lost and here…