Mark Your Stuff: White Electrical Tape

Did you know they made electrical tape in white? It takes Sharpie like a boss and sticks to everything. So get a roll and start marking your stuff.

Get the best tape because it is only $6 and will last a long time. I use Scotch Vinyl Electrical Tape 35.

White tape 3M crop

Let’s mark some antennas, because all the rubber duckies look the same and they are all designed for different bands.

White tape antennas

Let’s mark my awesome insulated coffee container, a gift from my son.

White tape coffee crop

And let’s mark the very nice thermos I got at work.

White tape thermos

If you want to know the details about this tape, like being good to 105º C or having 10**6 megaohms resistance (that is a teraohm, right?), check the data sheet.

Also, if your Apple cords are getting frayed, this is a stylish way to fix them. So get some tape and mark your stuff.

Within the Context of No Context

I first read this as an essay in the New Yorker in 1980, then read the book. I’m not at all sure that I have absorbed the wisdom. From the first page: “The most powerful men were those who most effectively used the power of adult competence to enforce childish agreements.”

That is a really creepy observation from 37 years ago when applied to Donald Trump in 2017.

The New Yorker has the first page of the original essay on their website. Check it out: “Within the Context of No Context“.

This book might not be for you. It is written in a strange, oracular style. But for “television” read “the Internet” and you see this.

[The Internet] is the force of no-history, and it holds the archives of the history of no-history. […] The trivial is raised up to the place where this scale has its home; the powerful is lowered there. In the place where this scale has its home, childish agreements can be arrived at and enforced effectively—childish agreements, and agreements wearing the mask of childhood.

If that doesn’t work for you, then you can skip the book. But if it makes you want to read one more paragraph, then go for it. And dang it, it makes me want to read the whole crazy thing again.

His critique of celebrity is unsurpassed. He contrasts the various “grids” (I would say “networks”) of social connections, with gradation from close friends to people you read about in the news. Only celebrities exist in the smallest and largest grids. We make celebrities part of our close friend groups, whether they be Oprah, Ellen, Beyonce, or Tomi Lahren.

The middle distance fell away…Two grids remained. The grid of two hundred million and the grid of intimacy.

The book has been described as “Baffling, cranky, elusive, brilliant.” Not sure I could be more precise than that.

Start with Goodreads and you can get to Amazon or libraries to find Within the Context of No Context.

Guy Shopping

A guy fashion crisis is when they stop making the shoes I’ve been wearing for the last 12 years. That is because “guy shopping” is buying the same thing in the same size as quickly as possible. But sometimes, I get wild.

My L.L. Bean field watch finally died after the most recent battery replacement. It had a good 15 or 20 years, not quite sure how long. I’ve been wearing earlier versions of the watch for decades. This one lasted longer because it had a flat mineral crystal. I’m pretty good at banging my watch against things and breaking the crystal.

This time, I decided to level up, but it took a while to find a watch that I really liked. This radical departure is a Seiko Kinetic Field Watch with a 5M82 movement. It was surprisingly hard to figure out if it had the features I wanted, like stopping the second hand (hacking), and not replacing the battery (Seiko Kinetic uses a spinning weight to charge a capacitor).

Watches

Oh, yes, I replaced the strap with a G10 NATO strap. And surprise, there is a dedicated tool for dealing with the spring bars (instead of using a screwdriver and scratching the watch case like I’ve done forever).

Apple vs. Google or Apple with Google?

I just read a very good article that takes too long to get to the point. The “tl;dr” version is that Google and Apple were competing head to head for a while, but might be evolving to complementary areas, Apple with personal experience (ResearchKit, CareKit) and Google with big data analysis (diagnosing diabetic retinopathy).

Best quote: “Throw incomprehensible amounts of information at an enormous amount of computing power and basically brute-force a treatment protocol that functions better than humans ever could.”

Of course, this doesn’t work for Kevin’s genetic syndrome. He’s the only one with that particular mutation. A single case is not exactly “incomprehensible amounts of information”. We will still need the amazing inductive instrument inside our heads.

The author misses that humans decide the target for that incomprehensible/enormous tool.

Also, don’t use “incomprehensible” about information around me. I can comprehend extremely large amounts of information. I’m OK with “number of atoms in the universe”. Yes, I took two years of philosophy, so I know about the ontological argument. Personally, I’m with Tillich and process theology.

How I Pack

I feel more relaxed at the trailhead when I pack in a methodical fashion. I use our bed. The pack goes at the head, empty, and everything that will go into it is laid out in front of it.

IMG 7717

This gives me an overview of what I’m taking and lets me run through the whole checklist.

This is also the time for a last-minute weather forecast check, eyeballing the amount of food, and one more thought about the goals for the trip. Do I take the big camera? Are we teaching plant and animal identification.

Today’s overnighter includes a fancier meal than usual, so I need two pots. I chose my ancient Evernew set. It is soft aluminum, but it is a lot lighter than the Sigg cookset. It is plenty big enough to make mushroom spaghetti for two. I’m also packing the crew-sized first aid kit, which weighs two pounds. I need to make a smaller first aid kit.

This is my first trip with my Gossamer Gear Mariposa, and Tina is taking my old Six Moon Designs Starlite. It is also the first trip with the Big Agnes Slater UL2+.

I’m pretty happy with the pack weights. Including extra pots, the heavier tent, the bit first aid kit, and with all the food packed (no water), my pack is 20 pounds and Tina’s is 15.

Save KTRU

This is my letter about the pending sale of KTRU to the University of Houston. Friends of KTRU will forward it to the FCC as an out-of-area comment.

The Rice University administration says that an internet radio station would serve the same purpose as KTRU, but something important would be lost — students volunteering their time to operate a station that meets FCC regulations. An internet station cannot provide that. It is the difference between playing sports in a refereed league that enforces penalties and a pickup game on the quad. This is the same as dropping a varsity sport and pretending that intramural sports are the same thing. No one fines you $7000 per swear word on the internet and you don’t stay up all night adjusting the transmitter to meet FCC regulations.

Taking on real responsibility outside of class should be available to every undergraduate at Rice. I was on the Will Rice College government, The Rice Thresher newspaper, and a a DJ and engineer at KTRU. I learned different things at each of them. When Rice gives up one of those opportunities, the undergrads lose out. You cannot measure the undergraduate experience with Arbitron.

Rice University does not offer degrees or even courses in Journalism or Broadcast Media. KTRU is the only broadcast educational experience available to Rice students.

wunder

KTRU is Dead

I just received an e-mail from Rice President David Leebron explaining the sale of KTRU’s spectrum, transmitter, and antenna to the University of Houston. This will give KUHF two powerful transmitters for their NPR and classical music snoozefest, replacing the eclectic voice of Rice. Leebron pointed out that KTRU’s Arbitron numbers were invisible, that the $9.5 million from the sale would help fund the new East Servery (kitchen), and that the station would continue on the Internet at ktru.org.

I was a KTRU DJ from 1979 to 1981 and I helped install the new antenna on top of Sid Rich that finally got the signal beyond the hedges.

I sent him this reply.

Something important has been lost—students volunteering their time to operate a station that meets FCC regulations. An internet station cannot provide that. It is the difference between playing sports in a refereed league that enforces penalties and a pickup game on the quad. This is the same as dropping a varsity sport and pretending that intramural sports are the same thing. No one fines you $7000 per swear word on the internet.

Taking on real responsibility outside of class should be available to every undergraduate at Rice. I was on the Will Rice Diet, The Thresher, and at KTRU and I learned different things at each of them. When Rice gives up one of those opportunities, the undergrads lose out. You cannot measure the undergraduate experience with Arbitron.

I’m glad that my efforts to make KTRU successful have been so profitable for Rice, because I’m not inclined to donate again. I hope my college mates at Will Rice enjoy the new 91.7 Memorial Servery.

wunder
Walter Underwood
Will Rice 1981