It’s Only Snow

If you listened to the news yesterday, you’d think New England was getting ready for The Big One or something. Blizzard Warning! Winter Storm Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!!. (Well, maybe not the last one). And then you listen to the forecast, and you realize, for most of the area… it’s not a big deal. (I will grant that on the South Shore, it was a medium big deal).

First off, we knew yesterday that the snow was going to be light and fluffy. I’ll take a foot of fluff over six inches of heavy stuff any day. Second, for most areas, the forecast was 6-10 inches. Around here, six inches of snow is not a big deal. This is not the South. We have plows and snowblowers and shovels and know how to use them. Here, we wound up with 10 inches of fluff, and even that wasn’t a hard to get rid of.

This is New England. This storm was not a disaster. It was a nuisance, and I wish the media would learn to distinguish between nuisance storms and more serious ones.

I did take the train to work yesterday, but this morning I drove, because there’s no train between 7:40 and 10:16. Route I-95 was mostly clear, but somewhat slush covered. Gary LaPierre once stated that “Snow causes brain damage,” but driving in the snow isn’t really all that hard:

  • Keep the speed down
  • Maintain a lot of space between you and other cars if you can. Don’t tailgate, and don’t let others tailgate you.
  • Avoid sudden movements. Keep turns gentle and gradual if you can, and avoid hard braking.
  • Avoid it if you can. If we’re expecting dirty weather, I’ll take the train if I can.

So I left an hour later than I normally do, and it took slightly longer than normal. No big deal. It’s only snow.

News Alerts

I have both the WCVB app on my iPad and the app on my iPhone. Both are way too chatty when it comes to news alerts.

I’ve allowed these apps to send me notifications, because I do want to get a notification when something major happens. The trouble is, neither one has much sense of proportion about what’s important enough to interrupt the user for. The most recent example was this evening when the app sent an alert to let me know that the Duck Dynasty guy was going to stay on television. Really?!? Who the heck gives a crap? Was it worth interrupting me? Emphatically NO. And they’re not quiet little banners, either. The WCVB app plays their jingle, and the app vibrates the phone and seems, at first impression, to be an incoming text.

I don’t care if the Celtics won or lost their game. I don’t care if the latest unemployment stats have come out. I don’t care if the Patriots are in the playoffs. I don’t need to know right away if another witness is appearing in the Whitey Bulger trial. I don’t need to be interrupted with additional details about the Target data breach. I will find all these things out in due course when I go to check the news, on my own schedule.

The rule of thumb I would apply is, “Would this be worth interrupting a prime time tv show for?” If so, by all means, send the alert. I do want to be notified about something like the Boston bombing, or the Newtown shooting, or some major figure dying, or some immediately pressing weather threat. So a tornado warning for the next half hour? By all means. A winter weather warning for tomorrow?  I’ll find out about it in good time.

To be fair to the developers, I don’t know whether the iOS notification frameworks allow messages to be sent with differing levels of urgency. It might help if they could send a notification about the winner of the presidential election with top priority, and the winner of a baseball game with lowest priority.  At the current time, I suspect the best that could be done would be to have a user create an account with the organization, and tell them what kind of notifications are desired. But who wants to create another account?

For now, though, I’d settle for a little more discretion in sending notifications.


Like a Native

I picked up a new slide scanner the other day. I was looking at some of the old family pictures a couple of weeks ago, which rekindled a desire to get at least my Dad’s slides scanned, so I can share them with the rest of the family. I’ve been dissatisfied with the scans I’ve had done by one of the local camera shops, so I’ve been wanting more control over the process. This scanner came highly reviewed, with the caveat that there was a steep learning curve, and so far, I’ve been struggling with it. I’ll have more to say about it once I’ve figured it out, but I’ve already encountered one big pet peeve: the SilverFast software is very obviously a cross-platform product which feels very much out of place on my Mac. Continue reading

Wascally Wabbits

I’m feeling rather like Elmer Fudd lately. Critters have been eating the bejesus out of my flower garden. And they don’t just eat a few leaves. They leave NOTHING. The morning glories…stripped down to bare stems. My brand new lupines…only a few leaves left. The zinnias….gone.

I’m not sure exactly who the perpetrator is. We saw a woodchuck last year, and this year we’ve seen a small rabbit lurking around the garden. The rabbit is small and cute, but quite brazen.

I decided to try animal repellents. The first one was a pepper based one…no good. Then, last week I picked up one that contained dried fox urine, and sprinkled that around, and put in some replacement zinnias. When I came home last night, the zinnias were nearly gone, and the garden still stank. Great.

I think part of the problem is that there aren’t as many cats around as there used to be. Our cat Mugsy is long gone, and the neighbor across the street who had cats died a couple of years ago, and her cat isn’t there anymore. I first noticed the problem late last year, but now it’s out of hand.

I’m not sure what do do now. I like having flowers in the garden, but I’m restricted to what the animals won’t eat. So far, they haven’t cared for the impatiens, portulaca, roses, or snapdragons. For some reason, of course, they don’t seem to like weeds. I guess I need to decide if I want to care how things look, and then see if I can find some more plants the animals don’t like, or just throw in the towel.