Sheath Your Blades!

Trigger warning: gore.

A week ago I milled a stack of cursor blanks, then engraved a test hairline on a scrap cursor to make sure everything was ready:

Cursor V-bit setup
Cursor V-bit setup

After raising the spindle a few inches, I reached across the table, peeled the tape, and, as I pulled my hand back with the finished cursor, snagged the back of my left index finger on the V bit.

So. Much. Blood.

Urgent Care PA: “You may have nicked the tendon. Get thee hence to the Hospital Trauma Center.”

Trauma Center MD: “See that white fiber down in there? That’s the extensor ligament. Looks OK and should heal fine.”

Me: “Urp.”

Trauma Center MD: “Unless you’re one of the 20% who get an infection.”

Me: “Unless I’m one of the few who contract an MRSA infection, then just up and die.”

Trauma Center MD: “Well, yes, there’s that. If the wound swells or smells bad, come back here quickly.”

Dutchess County is now on the trailing edge of the Omicron wave, but the Trauma Center is attached to the Emergency Room and had a steady stream of customers arriving by ambulance. While being entirely content to not be their most urgent case, I had plenty of time to examine the wide variety of instruments parked in the room with me:

Nameless Hospital Cart
Nameless Hospital Cart

I’m on a ten-day regimen of surprisingly inexpensive Amoxicillin + Clavulanate Potassium capsules, which is apparently what it takes to knock down a potential infection these days.

Five days later, it looks like I should pull through:

Lacerated Left Index Finger
Lacerated Left Index Finger

So I hereby swear a mighty oath on the bones of my ancestors to always sheath my blades. You should, too.

But we all knew that last week, didn’t we?

Blog Summary: 2021

The overall page view count may be down, but people have been replacing water heater anode rods at an increasing pace:

Home page / Archives23775
Water Heater Anode Rod Access Done Right8432
CNC 3018-Pro: GRBL Configuration5301
G-Code and M-Code Grand Master List5049
Why You Need a 6-Point Socket to Remove a Water Heater Anode Rod4300
American Standard Elite Kitchen Faucet Disassembly2621
Toyota Sienna: ABS Trouble Codes2531
Raspberry Pi: Forcing VNC Display Resolution2011
CNC 3018-ProXL: Y-axis Extension1641
Subaru Forester Fuse Boxes1276
Broom Handle Screw Thread: Replacement Plug1239
Removing a Water Heater Anode Rod1221
Auto-V.I.N Gauge Scam1029
Low Budget Bench Power Supply984
CNC 3018-Pro: DRV8825 Hack for 1:8 Microstep Mode980
Kensington Expert Mouse Trackball: Scroll Ring Troubles929
Whirlpool Water Heater “Lifetime” Warranty: The Good and the Bad917
Digital Tattoo Power Supply: Polarity Doesn’t Matter912
Bed Bugs: Thermal Kill908
Review Phreesia Authorization834
Huion H610Pro (V2) Tablet vs. Ubuntu 18.04821
Kenmore 158.17032 Handwheel Clutch Disassembly799
Shimano SPD Pedals: Creaking Resolved788
2000 Toyota Sienna: Replacing the Bank 1 Sensor 2 Oxygen Sensor753
Schwab / Symantec VIP Access vs. Yubikey751
Toyota Sienna: Rear ABS / Speed Sensor Failure729
HP-48GX Calculator Disassembly: Case Rivets688
Reversible Belt Buckle: Post Restaking683
Kensington Expert Mouse Scroll Ring Fix629
Makerbot-style Endstop Power Adapter for Protoneer Arduino CNC Shield616
Displaying Variables in Gnuplot614
Kohl’s Guest WiFi Terms & Conditions: The Short Version613
Replacing Phil Wood Hub Bearings595
Magnesium Water Heater Anode Rod: Seven Years Later576
Adding a Device to LTSpiceIV564
Philips Sonicare Essence 5000: Battery Replacement550
Browning Hi-Power Magazine Dimensions545
MPCNC: Emergency Stop / Feed Hold / Resume Pendant544
Raspberry Pi Interrupts vs. Rotary Encoder538
CNC 3018-Pro: Home Switches534
Resistance Soldering: Transformer510
Adafruit Touch-screen TFT LCD Rotation489
Quick-and-easy IR-passing / Visible-blocking Optical Filter476
Dis-arming a Steelcase Leap Chair471
Icecast and Ezstream Configuration470
Why You Shouldn’t Use Heat Pumps in the Northeast US465
Baofeng UV-5R Squelch Settings460
Mini-Lathe Tailstock: Alignment449
Homebrew Magnetizer-Demagnetizer446
Arduino Serial Optical Isolator444
Mysterious Noise in Toyota Sienna Minivan: Fixed!444
Baofeng UV-5: Squelch Pop Suppression434
bCNC Probe Camera Calibration432
Demolition Card GTA 5-10-9431
Multimeter Range Switch Contacts: Whoops!425
Realigning Tweezer Tips421
Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Michelin Protek vs. Glass Chip418
Kenmore Model 158 Speed Control: Carbon Disk Replacement417
Kenmore Electric Dryer: Power Resistor Replacement416
Old Kenmore Sewing Machine Foot Control Repair414
Closing the Dmesg Audit Firehose400
Blog Page Views

That adds up to 200 k page views from 122 k visitors, for an average of 1.6 pages / visitor, down slightly from last year. For a variety of reasons, I wrote only 242 posts over the course of the year, so more folks read only the single post matching their search terms.

To give you an idea of how awful online advertising has become, WordPress shoveled 817 k ads at those readers, slightly more than four ads per view. Given the toxicity of online advertising, I just started paying $50/year for a “personal” plan to get a few more gigabytes of media storage, which also let me turn off the ads. Most of you won’t notice, as you already run ad blockers, but it will calm the results for everybody else.

Fortunately, losing the $250 / year income from those ads won’t significantly affect my standard of living.

Christmas Bonus

An email arrived yesterday:

Subject: [redacted] review blog invitation about bluetooth programmer

Message: Hi dear,

Thanks for taking time to read this email.

I am Colleen from [redacted] brand, we sell two way radio on Amazon. I learned that you have wrote two way radio review blog before and I think your blog was written well.

Now we have a product named bluetooth programmer that need to be reviewed. […] We would like to invite you to write a review blog about it.

Your can earn $2 from each product sold! We promise it. Just put the link we provided you in your blog and the Amazon backstage will count the data. And we will pay you $2 for per product sold by your link through PayPal on the 30th of every month. (Please provide your PayPal account)

If you are willing to help us write a blog, please tell us if you have a radio and your address we will send you the product for free to review.

You can view more detailed information through this link:

[redacted]

Perhaps this “review” caught their eye:

Baofeng UV-5RE radio - overview
Baofeng UV-5RE radio – overview

Or maybe it was my opinion of the Baofeng intermod problem?

Most likely, it’s just the result of an ordinary web search.

You might think everybody would know about Amazon’s crackdown on out-of-band review kickback scams, but either word hasn’t gotten around or the rewards still exceed the penalties. I think the latter applies, particularly when the offender (or its parent company) can spin up another randomly named Amazon seller with no loss of continuity.

“Earning” two bucks on a few purchases during the course of a year won’t move my Quality of Life needle, so I reported them to Amazon and that might be that.

For future reference, the chat with Amazon’s Customer Support rep produced a deep-ish link to their otherwise un-discoverable “Report Something Suspicious” page; the randomly named nodeld is a nice touch.

Speaking of randomly named sellers, it’s highly likely any Brand Name you remember from the Good Old Days has been disconnected from the tool / hardware / service you remember. Perusing a snapshot of the who-owns-who tool landscape as of a few years ago may be edifying: I didn’t know Fluke and Tektronix now have the same corporate parent.

Enjoy unwrapping your presents and playing with your toys …

Lyme Disease

For reasons that made sense at the time, two weeks ago I ventured outside the house. A few days later, this appeared:

Lyme Disease - arm rash
Lyme Disease – arm rash

The pallid skin over on the left comes from a bike glove. The central bump is one of those annoying sebaceous hyperplasias appearing after a Certain Age and not relevant here.

Having been around this particular block a few times, Mary recognized the diffuse red rash, sleeping 30 of 36 consecutive hours, and a day-long 103 °F fever as Lyme disease. I’m currently taking 100 mg of doxycycline twice a day and (after a week) feeling better, while sleeping a lot more than usual at random intervals during the day.

We’re both highly aware of Lyme disease: Mary routinely dresses in a complete overlayer of permethrin-sprayed clothing and I generally strip-and-shower immediately after any yard work in similarly sprayed, albeit less enclosing, attire. In this case, we think a tiny Deer Tick nymph affixed itself to the outboard side of my wrist, where I could neither see nor feel it, and (because I didn’t take a shower after being outside for only a few minutes) remained attached long enough to infect me.

Caught and treated early, Lyme disease generally does not progress into “post-treatment Lyme disease”, an ailment rife with what can charitably be described as serious woo, despite some evidence of actual disease.

Some of Mary’s Master Gardener cronies have endured co-infections of Babesia microti and we’ll be watching for those symptoms after doxycycline tamps down the obvious problem.

I’ll be puttering very carefully around heavy machinery and posting irregularly for a few weeks …

Memo to Self: the Basement Shop has a lot to recommend it!

Clearing the Noto Font Clutter: Again

Installing Atkinson Hyperlegible reminded me to clear out the Noto font clutter in this (relatively nerecentw) Manjaro installation. Of course fonts now appear in slightly different locations with slightly different names, so this remains just a serving suggestion:

cd /usr/share/fonts/noto
sudo chmod a-w NotoSans-*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSansMono*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSansDisplay*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSansMath*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSansSymbol*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSerif-*
sudo chmod a-w NotoSerifDisplay*
sudo chmod a-w NotoMusic*
sudo chmod a-w NotoMath*
sudo find . -perm /u=w -name \*ttf -delete

Get rid of some other clutter:

cd ../TTF
sudo chmod a-w DejaVu*
sudo chmod a-w Inconsolata-*
sudo find . -perm /u=w -name \*ttf -delete
cd ../droid
sudo chmod a-w DroidSans-Bold.ttf 
sudo chmod a-w DroidSans.ttf 
sudo chmod a-w DroidSansFallback*
sudo chmod a-w DroidSansMono.ttf 
sudo chmod a-w DroidSerif-*
cd ../adobe-source-han-sans
sudo rm *otf

For unknown reasons, we now have two font cache updaters:

sudo fc-cache -v -f
sudo fc-cache-32 -v -f

Now font selection in, say, LibreOffice doesn’t involve paging through a myriad fonts in languages I cannot recognize, let alone read. Admittedly, Inconsolata does have more variations than I’ll ever use.

Guten Tag, Deutchland!

Mostly, this blog ticks along with 400 to 500 page views per day, with 300-ish visitors looking at a page or two each.

This week, something happened:

Blog Stats - 2021-08-28
Blog Stats – 2021-08-28

Both of those spikes came from Germany:

Blog Countries - 2021-08-28
Blog Countries – 2021-08-28

Traffic spikes generally come from a single post getting fifteen minutes of Reddit fame, with a zillion visitors hitting a specific page.

In this case, a German “visitor” read nearly all of my 4461 posts on two days: 822 + 3561 = 4383. I’m reasonably sure no human finds my writing that interesting, so it’s likely a scraper capturing my text for the purposes of spinning it into a blog-like site with “unique content” for the purposes of SEO.

Perhaps the first traffic spike was a targeting run?

I’ll never know the rest of the story, but if you happen to stumble across a blog with an uncanny resemblance to this one, written by something with a wide vocabulary and no techie knowledge, let me know.

Defensive Driving Course

This year was my turn to take an online Defensive Driving Course to knock a few percent off our automobile insurance premium. It’s admittedly difficult to make traffic law interesting, but this was the worst-written, poorest-edited, and most factually incorrect course I have ever had the misfortune to waste eight hours of my life taking.

For example:

Emergency signals, also called emergency flashers or hazard warning devices, are flashing red lights found on the front and rear of the vehicle

No, they’re amber on both ends of the vehicle. Flashing red on the front is reserved for vehicles with police and firefighters inside.

… material used to block the sun from coming into a vehicle through the windshield and windows must have a luminous transmittance of less than 70%. That means the material must allow at least 30% of the light to pass through it

No, lower transmittance means less light passing through the glass.

I think the author and editors live in a part of the world once colonized by the British Empire:

Driving class - mirror-image roadway crossing
Driving class – mirror-image roadway crossing

Here in New York State, we drive on the right.

Update: scruss recalls the image in an old UK driving manual. It describes a type of pedestrian crossing unknown in the US.

The sign recognition lesson claimed this sign marks a section of road with two-lane traffic:

Driving class - 2-lane traffic
Driving class – 2-lane traffic

NYS DMV says it actually indicates two-way traffic on an undivided road.

The course says this sign marks the point where the two-lane section ends:

Driving class - lane reductIon
Driving class – lane reductIon

It really means a divided highway ends and two-way traffic begins.

The course definitely offered amusing incorrect answers:

Driving class - slippery area
Driving class – slippery area

The sign really means slippery when wet, but I suppose that’s in the nature of fine tuning.

The closing page of the course told me I could take a survey, but, somehow, the survey never appeared.