The classics never get old

Submitted by John on Sat, 04/18/2020 - 16:13

Scene: It's a brisk spring day and I go outside to grab my cup out of the yard where I left it earlier.  Two children were playing basketball a few moments earlier, but now the younger child is crying.

"Daaaad! James kicked me in the face!"

I look at the older child. I see the look in his eyes; I know what he is thinking. After a pause, he replies.

"Well, yah, that's because his face was too close to my foot!"


Good Friday

Submitted by John on Sun, 04/12/2020 - 21:33

Last Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) our pastor mentioned something about communion "next week". Since we're doing church over Zoom, he said to make sure we have some bread and juice at the ready.

Friday (Good Friday), I had forgotten about the service, so suddenly I looked up at the clock and it's 7:15 oh no run upstairs, start the Zoom, okay, we're listening to a prayer, great.

The pastor says okay now get out your bread.

Oh no. I assumed we'd be doing communion on Sunday. Our church always does the communion on Sunday. I had bread and juice coming via delivery on Saturday, so I thought I was good to go. But I had forgotten that in the actual narrative of The Last Supper, that's when the communion is done, and of course it is on Good Friday.

I know there is no bread in the house but I rush to the kitchen. No bread, but we had Dominos delivered earlier today. I grab a pizza crust. The body of Jesus, broken for you.

I know there is no juice. Or milk. Or anything that is not water, but I opened the fridge door, and there is a little bit of Gatorade. The blood of Jesus, shed for the remission of your sins.

Forgive me Father.

I broke the bread, and passed the cup among my family. And that's how Good Friday went this year.

Ya, we probably got coronavirus

Submitted by John on Wed, 04/08/2020 - 21:08

Phew. It's been a ride. I don't really want to talk about it because I've been talking about it, with friends, and family, and coworkers, and it's been quite the rollercoaster for the past two weeks. Also, it makes me nervous saying "oh, yeah, I had it and blah blah blah," when I have not gotten a test, and I cannot even get a test in my state.

Whatever sort of mystery virus I had, it was horrible (and still is horrible.) The weakness and sudden onset of symptoms was as fast as 15, sometimes even 5 minutes, no warning, just BAM suddenly I can't get out of bed. Or I went for a whole two days feeling like I was breathing through glass.

Here are the things that helped me:

  • Spending a minimal amount of time laying on my back. I didn't know this at first, and discovered (after a friend suggested spending time on my stomach) that spending time resting on my back was aggravating my symptoms.
  • Aggressively rest. My best days were the days when I rested when I was feeling well, and rested when I was feeling the slightest bit out of sorts, and resting all the time. No running. No heavy lifting. No going up and down stairs.
  • Doing deep breathing exercises. I avoided these because they hurt so much. As a friend put it "If you break your ankle, and have to go do physical therapy, it's going to hurt. Do the PT anyway. These deep breathing exercises are like physical therapy for your lungs."
  • Melatonin in the evening to help me sleep, Zinc and Vitamin C in the day.


None of the above is medical advice! Unfortunately, the medical establishment has been quite unhelpful when it comes to helping folks with mild to moderate coronavirus infections, riding it out at home. I tried to contact my doctor and it was impossible. I got a telemedicine thing going with the hospital system, and, after they lost my first attempt at telemedicine entirely, they said, "stay home, you probably have it, go to the hospital if you can't breathe" which was what I was doing anyway.

Unfortunately, when I rested aggressively, this meant that I was feeling the best when I was feeling most useless. I'd be laying in bed thinking, is this really it? Is this really the coronavirus? I am SO BORED. I should be GETTING THINGS DONE. But then some days I would feel absolutely fine in bed but if I got up, dizzy and weak.

Then, after I had a couple good days and I was feeling mostly back to normal, I got up, I did a mildly active day, and at the end of the day I just crashed, crashed hard, in 15 minutes or less, and just kept crashing and crashing no matter how much I rested.

I crashed like that twice, about a week apart, the second time was very bad, and in the middle of one night I came to the realization that if I didn't stop this downward trajectory I was on, I was going to have to go to the hospital immediately. Or die. Dying felt like a real option, and I was more annoyed that I had a lot of stuff I wanted to do first and I wasn't going to get to it.

In fact, its hard to explain the state of mind that I was in, because I found that when I was crashing hard, my whole brain didn't work right. In a way that is not easy to quantify. I have a lot of "missing hours" or even, I'd say, whole missing days where I don't even remember what happened when.

Anyway, this is where I'm at right now, I'm trying to take it moderately easy. Still avoiding any hard physical activity. I'm back to work, and sleeping on my stomach.

Not sure what to post about but I guess it’s going to be the Coronavirus

Submitted by John on Mon, 03/09/2020 - 23:56

I’ve wanted to post for a while now but all I’m reading about is the Coronavirus. The Coronavirus is a boring subject for me to write about because the facts are simple, yet the outlook is very uncertain and I have little control over the final outcome.

This is everything I know about the Coronavirus:

  • it’s a bat virus that has made its way to humans. So we have no natural immunity to it
  • very transmissible between humans
  • people are contagious for days before they show symptoms
  • this tells me that we’re all going to get it sooner, rather than later
  • some percentage of people will die from an associated respiratory syndrome, COVID-19
  • we (in the United States) do not have nearly enough hospital beds or ventilators to treat the likely victims all at once
  • so our best bet is to self quarantine and reduce social contact so we can prolong how long it takes for the infection to work it’s way through the population, thereby reducing the impact on the medical system over time
  • currently the number of known cases is doubling every three days. If that trend doesn’t stop soon it will be too late to manage this thing.

Amazingly, some folks dispute all of these facts, and they are dismissive of the whole situation. This boggles my brain.

The reason I am most bored, however, is that you, dear reader, already know more about the ending of this story than I do. Should I panic? I’ve done plenty of that. Sit back and relax until this whole thing blows over? I’ve thought of that too.

Happy Hand Washing!

Fixed a few things

Submitted by John on Thu, 03/05/2020 - 23:46

A few things have been bothering me, mostly related to the D8 migration, so I dug in and fixed them recently.

  • I now have a favicon. I plan on updating the favicon from time to time, unless I forget, in which case I won't.
  • I fixed the tags on the weblog posts. I can now create new tags whenever I am entering a new weblog entry, instead of having to navigate all the way over to the taxonomy page.
  • I restricted the Stella Amp menu to the Stella Amp pages (and got rid of the defunct "Buy it!" menu item.)
  • I changed the title of the weblog in the RSS feed, so RSS subscribers will now see the correct title for the feed (Hello RSS subscribers!)
  • I removed some extra "display titles" on various parts of the site


It's much cleaner, but now I want to fix:

  • CSS of menus and the top nav bar, on desktop but especially mobile
  • I'd like some other form of sidebar, not sure what, not sure why, not sure how, but it needs some sort of vertical design element.


The TSA responds with guidance on flying with large format sheet film

Submitted by John on Sat, 02/01/2020 - 11:39

A few days ago, I posted an article about some new CT scanners that are showing up in airports. These new scanners have more powerful X-rays and are more damaging to analog film.

The article mentioned roll film, but I was curious about sheet film.

So I reached out to the TSA and asked them for guidance about flying with sheet film. I don't have my list of original questions handy (I'll post it later when I come across it) but I did get a response back from the TSA. Here are the latest guidelines on traveling with large format sheet film, as of February 2020:

Thank you for contacting the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center.

Most x-ray machines used to screen carry-on bags should not damage undeveloped film under ASA\ISO 800.  There are a limited number of screening checkpoints that use x-ray equipment that may damage undeveloped film.  These airports will have signage in front of the x-ray stating that the x-ray may damage undeveloped film.

If you are traveling with the following types of film, please pack it in a clear plastic bag, remove it from your carry-on bag at the checkpoint, and ask for a hand inspection:

  • Film with an ASA\ISO 800 or higher
  • Highly sensitive x-ray or scientific films
  • Film that is or will be underexposed
  • Film that you intend to “push process”
  • Sheet film
  • Large format film
  • Medical film
  • Scientific film
  • Motion picture film
  • Professional grade film 
  • Film of any speed that is subjected to x-ray screening more than five times

In most cases, the x-ray equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage undeveloped film; therefore, please place undeveloped film in carry-on bags.


Don't send your analog film through the carry on baggage scanners!

Submitted by John on Thu, 01/30/2020 - 12:34

Kodak wants you to know that the TSA has some new CT scanners for screening carry on luggage that appear to be more destructive to analog film than the earlier X-ray based scanners were. This new article from dpreview has the details:

Kodak describes the results as 'not good,' saying: 'Just 1 scan shows significant film fogging, leading to smoky blacks and loss of shadow detail. This will be more significant for higher speed films. Although it’s possible that a roll of 100 speed film would show less degradation, we strongly recommend against putting any unexposed or exposed but unprocessed film through a CT Scanner.'


In order to avoid this, Kodak tells photographers to keep their film products in a carry-on bag and to request that TSA agents hand-check the film rather than sending it through the CT scanner. The TSA confirmed to Kodak that its agents are trained in hand-checking movie film, roll film and single-use film cameras.

So, I read this and thought, the TSA has trained their agents to hand check roll film, great. But what about sheet film!

First I tried to look up and find anything on the TSA website itself. Nothing. Then I did a google search or two and still didn't find much. There is a post on Michael E. Gordon's blog about flying with large format sheet film that has a horror story and some advice about what Michael does when he flys with the TSA. But that article was from 2012 so it doesn't deal with the new scanners. Also some of the resources he links to in that article are missing from the TSA site.

So I reached out to the TSA today to see if they have any recent guidance on traveling with sheet film. I'll let you know when/if I get a response. (UPDATE: They responded!)

(If you are curious about Kodak's previous research on flying with film and the effects of airport baggage scanners on film, both print film and movie film, check out their 2003 Technical Information Bulletin Baggage X-ray Scanning Effects on Film)


Submitted by John on Mon, 12/16/2019 - 22:23
A cupcake with sprinkles.