J.P.

Letters.

Since moving to Tucson I have received a couple of letters a year from neighbors I do not know. Their return address indicates they live in the general area; they’re not just around the block or anything. The letters are always enclosed with a pamphlet leading me to the website of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m always amazed at the penmanship used in crafting the letter.

I used to get concerned about this sort of thing. As I get older I just figure someone out there is wishing me well in their own way. The scriptures and the like mentioned in the pamphlet and in the letters are an interesting read. I’m very solid in my own spirituality, so I tend to just accept this sort of thing in the spirit in which it was intended.

They didn’t write about damnation or any cross words at all for that matter. So I shall not wish them anything but positivity in their own spiritual paths. I’ll leave it at that.

Tanque Verde Ridge Trail Hike.

I’m finding my groove with my hiking videos and the approach I’m taking to video editing and design in general. Not only am I enjoy the hikes, I’m also really enjoying sharing my experiences in this way.

In this age of Constant Chaos, especially in too many areas of the Internet, I feel a positive contribution like this helps keep things at least approach some sort of equilibrium. I hope you enjoy this latest venture with me. Photos follow the video in this post.

Caturday.

Truman has been very interested in what’s been going on in the back yard and around the gazebo. The activity can be attributed to the birds in the area. They’ve really piqued his interest this year.

A brown and white cat stands on its hind legs, looking out of a window. The window offers a view of lush greenery and distant hills. Sunlight filters through the palm fronds visible outside, casting soft shadows on the interior walls. The cat appears curious or attentive, pawing gently at the window. Nearby, a colorful geometric-patterned pillow rests against the wall on a dark wood floor.

Staying Chatty.

I can’t remember if the first web-based search engine I used was Lycos, Excite, or AltaVista. Prior to web-based search engines I remember using things like Gopher (which wasn’t really a search utility, per se) and Archie. But that was back in the day when one was looking for text and text-based files. Ads were still on television and billboard. The good ol’ days.

I know that of the three (Lycos, Excite, AltaVista), AltaVista was my favorite and I hoped it would continue to give search engine goodness for a long, long time. Yahoo! was dancing around with the concept back then but then Google came along and became a verb. This was before the company that pledged to “Do No Evil” started getting greedy and crazy with monetary goals.

These days I don’t really trust Google’s search results. If I search for anything, the top result is likely to hit our bank account. Even if I’m looking for a recipe for baked beans or something, the top result in a Google search is going to either be an ad for pre-made baked beans, take me to a link that is splattered with a tedious number of ads touting botox or something, or a dissertation on why I should talk about baked beans in a YouTube video.

I don’t like Google’s ad based model.

I’ve been running with DuckDuckGo but it doesn’t feel like it’s giving me the results it could be giving me. Granted, DuckDuckGo is respecting my privacy and not trying to monetize the fact that I enjoy baked beans, but I still get strange results like photos of baked beans and links to videos on people making baked beans, eeking out each step in between ads for things like soap on a rope.

I’m a Gen-Xer, I want a list that I can read and a step-by-step guide I can follow.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I have been giving ChatGPT a whirl. It’s nowhere near “intelligent”, artificially or otherwise, but it does give me lists to follow and, after a month of focusing on the service, the conversational interface feels much more natural than typing keywords in a search box. It’s a shame it isn’t powered by Majel Barrett-Roddensberry’s voice.

My husband has been messing around with ChatGPT as well and he is enjoying the experience. He knows to double check the facts, but he really likes the other parts such as the aforementioned conversational style, the ability to discuss submitted, photos, etc.

Perhaps tech is finally on to something again.

Break.

I’m sitting at the table in (on?) our gazebo enjoying the desert breezes typical at this time of year in the afternoon. It’s actually more than a breeze, it’s windy, and I love the sound of the wind passing through our landscaping. Blissful.

It’s nice to be able to sit out here after a mentally exhausting day at work. Mental exhaustion does not mean it was a bad day; quite the contrary, I got a lot done at work today. I just had to think a lot and I am tired from too much thinking. I usually start feeling this way at this point in the work week.

I’m using my Linux laptop for this little endeavor, as I want to make sure it’s running well. I’m probably going to bring it along on the storm chasing trip at the end of next week. It has a good sized hard drive and at the very minimum, I’ll have another place to store video files if I run out of room on my primary hard drives. Hopefully there will be a good number of storms to grab on video and enjoy in general.

I’ve received several compliments on my last hiking video; most folks like the new format and the production in general. It’s the direction I want to go with my videos. I’m considering this past hiking video as “episode 1” of a second season of my shenanigans. I’m planning on hiking on Saturday, albeit rather early in the morning. This will probably be my last hike in Arizona for a few months as the summer heat settles into the Sonoran Desert. I haven’t picked a trail yet but I’m leaning toward the more familiar trails in the area, just going higher up the terrain than I have in the past.

As mentioned, I leave on my storm chasing/hiking trip next Friday after work. I’m really looking forward to that adventure and have been counting down the days for a long while. The weather looks mostly promising, so that’s good. At the very least it looks much more promising than what I encountered last year when a high pressure dome settled over the area and I encountered just a few severe weather events. I won’t know the direction of travel until next Wednesday when the Storm Prediction Center starts shading the appropriate areas of the country in varying hues of green.

Eh Pad.

There’s a running joke in our family that my name is Cole Slaw. Usually, when folks of the gay community are looking through photos or approaching us out in public, they’re all about the rest of the family and their beards and beefy appearances and the what not. Occasionally I get a “and who’s this?” with a finger waggled in my direction. I tell the waggler that I’m the cole slaw and that I’m included with the main dish whether you like it or not.

I watched Apple’s event (after the fact) when they announced “their best iPad lineup yet”. I long for the day when Apple decides to take a left turn and NOT announce their best iPad lineup yet but instead just say, “here’s a bunch of iPads we thought of” just so everyone in the tech press can clutch their pearls, gasp, and then go on and on about how Apple is failing again.

So there’s new iPad Airs and iPad Pros that have all sorts of spec bumps and size bumps and new accessories and more importantly, thickness reductions that will allow you to bend the iPad like the Six Million Dollar Man or The Bionic Woman (depending on how you identify).

And while I’m talking about bending iPads, what was with the commercial at the beginning of the Apple Event where they crushed everything like so much garbage in a landfill, complete with something’s eyes bulging out as it gasped for its last breath. I mean, they were crushing guitars and televisions and all sorts of things and, perhaps it’s because of my brain chemistry, but I found the intro to be really off-putting and so unlike Apple.

Anywho, we have the new iPad Air and the new iPad Pro lineup. I was really hoping for something, anything, to be upgraded on the iPad Mini, but Tim barely mentioned its existence like so much cole slaw next to the main dish.

I can relate. And it looks like I’ll continue to use my rapidly aging iPad Mini for flying until something, anything happens to that particular model.

Camera Test.

Earl and I went for a sunset walk in Saguaro National Park East. I decided to bring the new GoPro MAX camera along to see how well and efficiently I could capture footage, enjoy the moment, upload the footage when I got home, and put together a quick little video. Here’s the results. The brand new selfie stick didn’t survive the ordeal. I’ll be repairing that later this week.

Games.

I have used the same “starter word” in Wordle since I started playing the game too long ago. My husband and I try to solve the Wordle puzzle every morning during our daily routine and we text the results to each other. It’s a fun little diversion.

There’s little chance this word will come up again but I’m going to continue to use it as my starter word because routine = structure to me, structure = stability for me, and most importantly, old habits die hard.

I have made a change with another game in my daily life and that’s deleting Solitaire from my iPad. For a couple of years I have played Solitaire on a daily basis, trying to solve four goals every day. That is, unless the one of the goals is “Complete a multiplayer game”, because I’ve never understood why Solitaire would be played in a multiplayer scenario but that’s something else to ponder at a later date.

While I was enjoying strategizing over my daily Solitaire sessions, it was becoming slightly obsessive for me. If I didn’t complete the goals of the day it would bother me and in this day and age I don’t need that added stress to my life. Also, I was noticing patterns in card distribution. Computers have no ability to be actually random, and that plays out when you’re playing games involving card decks and the like. They’re a bit more random than they were back in the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64 days, but I could still see patterns in card distribution and that was a little bit frustrating to me as well, so I stepped away from Solitaire.

One other thing I’ve always been curious about is, what data are these companies deriving from my game play of Solitaire or Wordle? I mean, they must know a little bit about how my brain works as I work my way through these puzzles, but I don’t see anything that would think they could compel me to buying a certain brand of shaving cream or something.

Hiking Photos.

Yesterday’s hike along Sycamore Reservoir Trail near Mt. Lemmon in Coronado National Forest was a lot of fun. It’s getting to that time of year where it’s going to just be too hot for hiking, but I think I can squeeze in one more hike before the storm chasing trip.

Here’s some photos from yesterday’s hike. Full resolution downloads are also available on Flickr. Full video is available in the previous post and/or on my YouTube channel.

Video: Sycamore Reservoir Trail

Here’s a video recap of my recent hike along the Sycamore Reservoir Trail in Coronado National Forest east of Tucson, Arizona.

Film date:
2024-05-04

Equipment Used:
GoPro Hero 9
GoPro MAX
iPhone 13 Pro
Apple Mac mini M2 Pro
Final Cut Pro