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Saturday, 1 June 2024 Dereel Images for 1 June 2024
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Winter without heating
Topic: general Link here

Today's the first day of winter, an ideal time for the air conditioner to fail, and fail it did.

Well, it ran, sort of, but it barely heated. Once again I had the errors 30 (trip lock) and 6 (High Discharge Temperature). And after power cycling after an error 6, I briefly saw ridiculously high temperatures in the zone controller after the power-on sequence, up to 51°.

And that rings a bell. Isn't that the critical point of the refrigerant? Could it really be that it's getting too hot? And then again there's this strange 138° C value for error 6. Could it be that they confuse Fahrenheit and Celsius? 138° F is 58.9° C, high enough to be an issue and close enough to 51° to be plausible. It doesn't explain why the temperature appeared in the zone controller, which should have been showing the room temperature (round 17°), but I've seen something like that before under normal circumstances. 30.6° rings a bell.

Still, what does it all mean? Under what circumstances would the refrigerant get that hot? Apart from that, all points to lack of refrigerant. Hopefully I can get Tony to come quickly.


Another power issue
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

As a result of the air conditioner issues, I listened carefully to what it was doing. And then round 7:10 it just cut out, stopped dead.

That's unusual. Normally it gradually winds down. Damn, what is it this time? Into the office for some reason, where I saw the display on the ATA: only 2 LEDs on, out of 4. That's a reasonable first indication that we're off the net.

What does the NTD say? All looks normal, for once. But the display on hydra was funny: window manager gone. A look on eureka confirmed my worst suspicions: Boot:. Somehow it had restarted. Power issue? That sounds like eureka, and it would explain the air conditioner (which in the meantime had started limping on again).

The usual fun getting eureka up again, except that this time I couldn't get the web browser to connect. Squid wasn't running. Started it, getting an unexpected error in /var/log/squid/cache.log:

2024/06/01 07:28:31 kid1| cannot change current directory to /usr/local/squid/cache: (2) No such file or directory

Yes, the directory didn't exist. But that wasn't the first time the message appeared:

2024/01/24 08:40:26 kid1| cannot change current directory to /usr/local/squid/cache: (2) No such file or directory

And that's pretty much the last thing that squid had to say before today. It appears that it hasn't been running since January. The browsers on hydra don't use the proxy, and maybe the ones I have been using on eureka don't either; at one point I was using three different proxies depending on the display.

Yet another untidy end that requires more time than I want to invest.

And then, of course, tiwi had also restarted. And this time, once again, no display. Turned the TV on, rebooted, and all was well. My best guess now is that the display card can't identify the TV if it's not turned on. It doesn't explain, though, why this time I didn't see the boot messages.


Five years of phone smart
Topic: history, technology, general, opinion Link here

Five years ago today I grumbled about the same things that still annoy me with Android. Now I need a new phone just to be able to make calls. At the time I wrote:

I'm thinking of reverting to my old steam-driven mobile phone: at least I can always make calls and terminate them without scratching my head.

Of course, that's no longer a solution either. If my 3 year old phone can't make calls after the end of August, certainly no steam-driven phone will.

More searching. Maybe I should just buy a cheaper phone. About the only thing that irritates me about them is that it could be underpowered, like the Xiaomi Redmi 9A. Juha Kupiainen pointed me at JB HiFi, who have a couple of Xiaomi phones for sale. Maybe they've done their homework, and they're the best choice. It doesn't mean I have to buy them from them, of course.


Two years of core, over?
Topic: history, technology, opinion Link here

Two years ago today I became a member of the FreeBSD Core Team. It should now be over, but for reasons to which I wasn't privy (midnight teleconferences), it has been delayed. As I said at the time “Video meetings aren't going to work effectively. ”

So now we're hanging on to our power for another few days. The elections are almost over, and after several weeks, only 52% of developers have voted. Why? Apathy, I suspect. I certainly failed in one of my stated goals, to make the Core Team more visible. But it seems that I was the only one who wanted to do that. I certainly haven't nominated myself this time round. I belong to another generation, literally: the youngest member of the current core team is 47 years younger than I.


Porting enblend 4.1.4
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

House photo day again today, and I still haven't ported the last functional version of enblend to hydra. Tried again today, with limited success. For some reason it tried to refer to strerror_r() as returning a string, when in fact it returns an integer.

OK, not an issue, hack the source. Oh. The whole semantics are different. But it seems that the port had prepared for that, and it had alternative code for what proves to be the POSIX version (the other version is the GNU version; rms has something to answer for). But try as I might, I couldn't persuade it to accept my hacks.

OK, this is silly. The obvious thing is to use the FreeBSD Ports Collection framework, which I still have at /home/src.local-and-old/FreeBSD/svn/ports-rot0/graphics/enblend/. I wonder what horrors it has in store for me.


Sunday, 2 June 2024 Dereel
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More air conditioner pain
Topic: general Link here

I left the air conditioner off overnight. It was another cool night, and about the only effect of me leaving it running was that it would keep me awake wondering what was happening. Even when I turned it on, it didn't seem to make much difference: it didn't go beyond 20° until 13:00. Nothing for it: call Tony Nesci first thing tomorrow morning.


No mail!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Into the office this morning to discover that mail delivery had stopped during the night. Further investigation showed that the root file system on eureka was full.

Why? Lots of searching with find didn't find anything obvious. No new large files in the last 24 hours. But looking through the backup logs gave me a clue: it happened during backup. And then looking at eureka from tiwi gave me the clue:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/9) ~ 1 -> df
Filesystem          1048576-blocks      Used   Avail Capacity  Mounted on
eureka:/videobackup         39,662    31,535   4,954    86%    /videobackup
eureka:/photobackup         39,662    31,535   4,954    86%    /photobackup
eureka:/                    39,662    31,535   4,954    86%    /eureka
eureka:/home             3,705,520 2,667,836 741,242    78%    /eureka/home
eureka:/Photos           7,629,565 6,905,419 647,849    91%    /Photos
eureka:/dump                39,662    31,535   4,954    86%    /dump

That may look like 6 file systems, but in fact it's only 3. For reasons that I can no longer confirm, /videobackup, /photobackup and /dump all got mounted on the root file system. The insidious thing is that files in these directories aren't visible locally, only via NFS. And of course I've been there before; the last point in cold start reads “Check other FreeBSD computers for correctly mounted NFS file systems”.


Stones Road, ten years on
Topic: Stones Road house, history, photography, opinion Link here

We bought our current property in Stones Road, Dereel, some time in January 2014, though I didn't note the exact date of the transfer. I had started taking panorama photos even earlier, and last November I tried a comparison ten years later.

But that was a view that I hardly repeated. Ten years ago today I started on the weekly series that I have been keeping up ever since, with up to 520 views of the house from various perspectives. So now I have a comparison of the same view taken then, 5 years ago and yesterday.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20140602/big/house-from-entrance.jpeg
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The view of ten years ago is almost unrecognizable. The trees at the left and right edges of the photo are both gone, and other vegetation has taken its place. And then there's the difference in the photos themselves: that's only partially due to the processing. Ten years ago my widest lens was the Zuiko 9-18 mm rectilinear lens, but the other two were taken with the M.Zuiko ED 8 mm f/1.8 fisheye. Still, there are interesting differences between “then” and “now” that I can't completely explain.


Chicken with cashew nuts again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Chicken with cashew nuts for dinner again tonight. And of course some changes. The recipe called for 25 g of capsicum, something that we don't eat very often. What do we do with the rest? But by chance I had read an article “What to do with broccoli stems”, and we had some broccoli stems left over. So I put in a julienne of broccoli stems instead.

How was it? They're softer than I expected. They didn't taste bad, but I'm not convinced that that's the best thing for dish.

In passing: we ate 212 g of rice between us.


Monday, 3 June 2024 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel
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Air conditioner woes, continued
Topic: general Link here

Another cold night without the air conditioner, which wouldn't have contributed much to keep the place warm anyway. Up and called Tony Nesci. They're on holiday until 17 June! One of the issues that we have with a small company.

Google search for "Air conditioner repair Ballarat”, which brought many hits, many with tastefully truncated phone numbers, requiring me to follow the links to find the numbers. Got as far as these notes:

Celsius       5333 1267
G J Bradding       5330 2166
Mechtrol       0412 011 320
Buggzys       0400 007 441
Eeles       5333 2117
Waldron       5336 0000
SJS Servioces       0400 154 569
JZs       5332 0140

Waldron? They're the people who supplied the unit, and who were singularly unhelpful four years ago. Still, they could have changed. Called them up and spoke to Anne, who wanted to know details of when we purchased the unit and had great difficulty finding them. Then she put me on hold and came back to say that I should contact a Actron service person—just as 4 years ago. But this time she had a phone number: 0401 022 148, of Nathan Barnes of South West Electrical in Ballarat. That sounded lot better than the run-around I got last time.

Called up Nathan, and yes, he could come and take a look—on Wednesday. Two more days of shivering, but a whole lot better than the 23 days that it took last time.

But we can't continue like this. In the shed I found an electric convection heater, which made some difference, but we need more, so into Ballarat to buy a couple more. That helped a little, and we should be able to weather the next couple of days.

Why do these things always happen in extremes of weather?


Tuesday, 4 June 2024 Dereel Images for 4 June 2024
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More heating pain
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

There's no point running the air conditioner any more, so we're relying on the electric heaters, really boys sent out on a man's job. Gradually we're getting used to temperatures 2 to 3° lower than we like. I'm hoping that Nathan will be able to work a miracle when he comes tomorrow, though if it's really a refrigerant leak, finding it could take a lot of time.


Power fail!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

Heating with electricity uses a lot of power, of course, something that we don't have much of. In principle we have 11.5 kW available, but even that got exceeded just before breakfast:

tstamp                Pac       Status                 SOC     VBat    PacGrid  PacBat  PacPV   FromPV  W1
2024-06-04 10:42:16     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      255     NULL    0       0       0       13750
2024-06-04 10:42:17     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      255     NULL    0       0       0       13575
2024-06-04 10:42:19     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      255     NULL    0       0       0       13412
2024-06-04 10:42:20     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      255     NULL    0       0       0       13152
2024-06-04 10:42:21     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      255     NULL    0       0       0       13099
2024-06-04 10:42:22     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      256     NULL    0       0       0       13196
2024-06-04 10:42:24     0       Internal Bypass Closed  22      256     NULL    0       0       0       13182

The last column, W1, is the total power used in the house. In principle, both the PV system and the grid should only deliver 11.5 kW, and that's when the PV system gave up (“Internal Bypass Closed”). Fortunately the grid didn't, though the main switch is rated at 50 A.

But later a second failure occurred: at 11:39 the mains power failed, just as we were using 8.2 kW. The inverter can only deliver 6.5 kW for a short period, after which it drops back to 6 kW. What does it do? What can it do? It disconnected. Total power failure! And I received a gleeful SMS from Powercor telling me that they expected to restore power at 14:00.

They lied: power was restored after only 9 minutes, but the damage was done. All machines down except for lagoon, which managed on its UPS. I should really put UPSs on the others, but previous experience has shown them particularly sensitive to power surges.

Bringing the machines up had some surprises. I know that eureka is special about coming up, but hydra proved even worse: it stayed powered down. And eureka had strange problems with the USB disks: it didn't recognize the third one when I connected it. Lots of playing around didn't help, and when I tried to reboot it hung before loading the FreeBSD loader.

Oh. eureka is over 10 years old. It has done good service, but is it on the way out? I certainly need a backup strategy in case it fails. But fortunately, after power cycling and leaving the USB disks connected, it booted and recognized all the disks. This is the first time I recall booting with the USB disks powered off. Is there an issue there? Certainly the backup strategy is something to consider.

And hydra? Powered it on. Nothing. What's wrong there? While I was scratching my head, it came up as if nothing had happened. After an estimated 5 minutes. That's presumably something to do with the tuning that it needs for fast memory, but it's yet another reason to ensure that it doesn't lose power.

And after everything came up, start firefox. Which profile? I no longer knew. I couldn't find anything that matched what I had been running before, and it took me over half an hour before

And tiwi? It rebooted normally and was hanging on NFS mounts—and though the TV was off, I had a vty display. All wonderful, and not what I expected.

But when I came back later, after switching the TV off and then on again, I had no display! Reboot, no vty display, but after the normal time (which seems double as long in these circumstances), it came back with a normal X display. What went wrong? I don't know. It turned out that the (wireless) keyboard needed new batteries, but surely I used the mouse, which was working fine.

What a day!


RIP Mike Karels
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Shock news today: Mike Karels, one of the original BSD troop, died yesterday of a heart attack on his way back from BSDCan. It was completely unexpected, and we're still trying to come to terms with the news.


Wednesday, 5 June 2024 Dereel Images for 5 June 2024
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Air conditioner: the verdict
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

Nathan Barnes of South West Electrical along this morning to take a look at the air conditioner. As we suspected, low refrigerant. Well, almost no refrigerant at all. And he showed how the distribution pipes iced up almost immediately, apparently another sign of low refrigerant. Yes, he could top it up, but it would take 6 kg at $80 a kilogram, and who knows how long it would stay in there. He checked the inside unit for obvious leaks, but didn't find anything, so he separated the piping to the inside unit from the outside unit and filled the inside to 400 psi (about 2.75 MPa in sane units), and the outside unit to 280 psi (about 1.9 MPa) with nitrogen. Why not the same pressure? He ran out of nitrogen. And now it'll have to stay like that for a week!

The unit is now 9 years old, and it's been used more than most. He assures me that it's worth repairing, but it's also on the cards that we'll have more fun like this. So, back to the Tandem philosophy: we need a backup. After some discussion we decided on a Mitsubishi Electric MSZ-AP60VG(D), 6 kW cooling and 6.8 kW heating, which he'll install in the lounge room next week. That won't help much in the offices and bedrooms, but they're relatively easy to heat with the electric heaters, and it's only as a backup measure.

In passing, I was happy to find that Nathan was part of a big company, South West Electrical. One of my concerns with Tony Nesci at Atmos was that he was by himself, and if he wasn't available (like now) there's nobody to cover for him. But that proved to be misleading: the South West Electrical that I found is in Queensland, and it has nothing to do with Nathan. Nathan is South West Electrical, though he does have an apprentice.


Oven fail
Topic: food and drink, general Link here

Nathan's an electrician, and one of the things that we need done is to change the switch for the oven, which failed in January:


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Yes, he can do that next week with the other work. But he touched the switch! Never mind, it still worked.

Until I tried to bake today's batch of bread. It started heating, but when I came out again a few minutes later, it no longer had power. Nothing that I could do kept it running. My guess is that the current fried the last remnants of contact.

What to do? I have bread waiting to be baked, already threatening to escape from the form:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240605/big/Bread-1.jpeg
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Nothing for it: take the wires out of the switch and join them with a terminal block. Simple? Well, first of all Jim Lannen, my all-time favourite sparky, came up with a late greeting: the frame that should have held the switch in place was not anchored in the wall, so when I removed the screws, it fell down in the space behind. No way to replace the switch in the wall. Nathan will have to do it next week.

And then joining the oven wires? I couldn't find a terminal block! I know I had plenty when I didn't need them, but all I could find after a considerable search was another worn-out switch. But it had a connection that was large enough to take both wires, so I put them in there.

It works! Ship it!


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It's a good thing that it's only for a week.


Thursday, 6 June 2024 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 6 June 2024
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New glasses
Topic: health, opinion Link here

My new prescription glasses are ready. Into town to pick them up. Reading glasses +2.25 dioptres! I had specifically asked for 1.5.

Oh, that's right. My prescription was +0.75 dioptres spherical in each eye, from which 0.75 (left) or 1.0 (right) cylindrical are subtracted. That means that the focus in my left eye is really between 0 and +0.75 dioptres, and in the right eye between -0.25 and +0.75 dioptres. So the reading glasses are correct, as I was able to confirm when I got home.

It's funny wearing progressive (multifocal) lenses again. It has been less than 3 months since I stopped wearing them, but that's enough to forget the strangenesses. In addition, they weren't as well adjusted to my head as I thought: there's some discomfort behind the right ear, and it looks like I'll have to go and get them adjusted again.

Still, things are much better. Now I can really use smaller fonts on my computer, and I can read the text on the TV much better. The only issue with the TV is that the vertical field of view is larger than the fixed focus part of the lenses, so I have to move my head. Maybe it would be an idea to have Yet Another pair of glasses for TV.

So it's done! Only a little over 9 months since the first diagnosis of cataract. And yes, things are much better.


Google Maps pain
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Coming home was a pain. In principle I know the way, but I let Google Maps guide me anyway, though the instructions are a bit vague round the south of Ballarat. Going down the extension of Humffray Street I saw warnings of road works up ahead, so I turned towards Barkly Street. But Google Maps wanted to take me in the wrong direction!

Finally got to the end and found significant road works that encompassed Barkly Street too. After waiting for ever for the traffic lights and not getting through when they did turn green, turned off for another alternative. Oh. Road closed.

Finally along Brittain Street through a part of town that I have never seen before, past the Ballarat Gold Mine, finally ending up at the junction of Victoria and Albert Streets in Sebastopol.

Damn Google! Why didn't they tell me? Oh. They did. They wanted to take me along a sub-optimal way back to the main Midland Highway, but the instructions were so vague that I didn't understand. That at least explains why they wanted to take me the wrong way down Barkly Street. I need to examine these things more carefully. The mobile phone format doesn't help.


Another power fail
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

On the way home, got a frantic call from Yvonne: she had plugged an electric heater into one of the power strips on the desk in her office, despite my warnings to only use the wall outlets: they were connected to the UPS for her computer, lagoon, rated at 350 W. Bang! Goodbye to the last system that didn't go down on Tuesday. But the worst thing about it was that, even after she disconnected the heater, the power didn't come back, and the UPS screamed continuously.

Nothing for it, she had to wait until I got home, 20 minutes later. The UPS is one of the ones that I bought at Officeworks last February, not my favourite choice. And it seems that it would have continued to scream until its power ran out. To turn it off required a long press on the power button, and turning it on also required a long press. Barely acceptable if you know, but panic-inspiring if you don't.


Mona: I love you
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Mona is still not overly affectionate, though things are improving. But after I got home, she was all over me, purring and rubbing up against me. Why? Our guess is that it was a “my saviour” moment after I got back and stopped the screaming from the UPS. The animals had all reacted badly to the noise, going into hiding.


Friday, 7 June 2024 Dereel Images for 7 June 2024
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More system upgrades
Topic: technology Link here

An interesting thing about solid-state disks is that, though they're generally more expensive than rotating disks, that doesn't apply to smaller sizes. There seems to be a lower price limit for old-style disks, round about $70, but “small” SSDs can be much cheaper. Last week I bought 4 128 GB disks for $19.31 each, including postage. My intention is to use them as system disks for machines like tiwi (which currently has 17 TB of spinning disks) and lagoon (again with considerable image data on line).

Don't I have enough to do to finally complete the migration to hydra? Yes, of course I do. But I have significant performance issues with tiwi, which is no longer a match for firefox's memory hunger, and it's swapping its heart out. I should start the migration while I can still return the disks if there's anything wrong with them. So today I dragged up the remnants of dereel, once my test machine, and put one of the new disks in it as a secondary. Copy tiwi's root file system (40 GB) and partition the new disk accordingly. It's refreshing to see how I was able to run fsck on the resuscitated image and see the soft update journal get applied.

And now? Bring dereel up to date, I suppose. Then switch disks and run the tiwi root system as teevee, update it and test before putting it in the lounge room.

Oh, and it's not solid-state disk, it's solid-state drive, because clearly they have a drive motor. That's almost worse than this silly term “hard drive”.


Where are my lenses?
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Last week I bought two genuine Leitz Wetzlar lenses: a 13.5 cm f/4.5 Hektor number 855598 (which, according to this site, means that it was made in 1951) and a 20 cm f/4.5 Telyt, number (I think; it's hard to read) 1367108 (made in 1956). Leica lenses, even old ones, command ridiculous prices. There's currently a 35 mm f/3.5 Elmar, admittedly serial number 182023 (1933) on offer for $3,400. But I got both of these lenses together for only $112.50.

But where are they? As usual I'm trying to track with Australia Post, which tells me:

 
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And I took these screen shots at the same time, today at 11:37. The first tells me that it hasn't been posted yet, the second tells me SUCCESS: received on Wednesday, now (after 2 days storage) on its way to Melbourne airport . And for all that, it'll be between another 6 and 11 days before it gets here! I don't believe a word of it, of course, but how can they be that inaccurate?

And what's this SUCCESS? Nothing to do with their performance. It's the location of the post office, a suburb of Perth.


Mona thaws
Topic: animals, opinion Link here

Why was Mona so affectionate yesterday? Was it really because she had identified me as the solution to the UPS alarm noise yesterday? I wish I understood how cats think. Still, she's much friendlier now, and she spent a lot of time on my lap while I was watching TV.


Saturday, 8 June 2024 Dereel Images for 8 June 2024
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Leg pain?
Topic: health, history, opinion Link here

Woke up in the middle of the night with mild pain in my lower left leg. Nothing serious, but...

That's a symptom of a slipped disk! Surely that's over and done with. As it happens, it was a year ago today that I had the issue. But it healed up, and I have had no symptoms for six months. Surely it's not coming back? What can I do?


dereel upgrade, completed
Topic: technology Link here

Brought dereel up to date today. It's a much slower machine than hydra, and the build took nearly 4 hours. Somehow clang is an exercise in navel contemplation: it seems to take longer than the rest of the build together. Next is to revive tiwi as teevee and bring it up to the latest stable release. Mañana.


Relying on digital devices
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

How accurate are digital devices, in this case thermometers? I asked myself that question when I used the Dallas 1820 twenty years ago. I came to the conclusion that the inaccuracies were negligible in comparison with random temperature fluctuations in the object I was messing. And I've stayed of that opinion, though I admit to not wanting to challenge it.

Lately I've been measuring temperatures frequently to adjust the electric heaters we're using. And yes, there have been significant differences between the fixed displays and the infrared thermometer that I carry around with me. But then, the fixed thermometers have significant hysteresis, so I accepted that.

But today I found that the temperature in the lounge room was radically different. The thermometer on the indoor unit of the weather station showed 19.5°, but the (blue) infrared thermometer showed only 16°. And it did it with the other two thermometers in the house too. Yvonne thought that it was because I had been using it too much, but that makes no sense.

What about another thermometer? Found an old (orange) infrared thermometer and compared. Round 3° difference. Why? The blue thermometer showed low battery. OK, that shouldn't make a difference, but let's change the batteries anyway. It showed the correct (well, plausible) temperature again! It should be ashamed of itself showing incorrect values when the battery is low.

But it didn't stay that way. Once again it started showing incorrect temperatures. Is Yvonne right, maybe, that it's because it's being used so much? What could cause that? Overheating inside the device? I'm baffled.


A new display card?
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

tiwi.lemis.com, my current TV driver computer, has a display card with an nvidia GeForce GT 730 chip set. I get the feeling that it's sometimes not fast enough. What do I buy? How much do I want to pay? The sky's the limit.

I have a number of other nVidia cards lying around, two of them with the necessary HDMI output. One is a GeForce GT 210, the other a GeForce GT 710, both weaker. But I'm replacing the machine with a more powerful one. Would they work well enough? And then there's one in distress, a Microsoft box. What is it? How can I tell? With FreeBSD it's simple:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/5) ~ 13 -> pciconf -vl
vgapci0@pci0:1:0:0:     class=0x030000 rev=0xa1 hdr=0x00 vendor=0x10de device=0x0f02 subvendor=0x10de subdevice=0x0000
    vendor     = 'NVIDIA Corporation'
    device     = 'GF108 [GeForce GT 730]'
    class      = display
    subclass   = VGA

Spent some time searching the system menus, but there was nothing there that mentioned display cards. Finally asked Gemini, which came up with this surprising answer: select “Performance” from the Task Manager and then “GPU 0” (no idea why it thinks there's only one). And that will show details of the display card. It's a GeForce GT 710, and I have another already, so there's no need to remove it from the machine.

Gemini does come up with another “solution” with the System Information pages, but it didn't work for me.

What a system! But I'm finding Gemini more and more useful.


Israel: Horror without end
Topic: politics, history, opinion Link here

I'm absolutely amazed and horrified that nobody has taken concrete steps to end the current Israeli genocide in Gaza. But when it came out today that they'll be on the United Nations list of violators of children's rights, Israel was horrified. It's not going to help much: today they liberated 4 of the hostages, at a cost of about 210 dead and 600 wounded, later updated to 274 dead and 700 wounded, a total of nearly 1000! That's a success! Who cares about the non-Jews?

But that's nothing new. While looking back through my diary, I saw this, from 17 November 1989:

A Texan finds oil in his back yard and goes to Dallas to find how to invest the money. They send him home and tell him to come back in a week. Then they told him: buy a jet bomber for $50,000,000, bombs for $4,000,000, hire a pilot for $1,000,000. When he asked why, he was told: "If the Jews do it, it must be a good investment". Even Grog understood after a while.

Somehow there's a disconnect. The Israelis really seem to believe that they're doing the right thing: Gilad Erdan posted “our army is the most moral in the world”. And somehow that's the general consensus in Israel: they seem to be living in a parallel universe.

Back to my question above: “Who cares about the non-Jews?”. I thought that might be a little harsh. But no, it really seems to be the Israeli view. The Washington Post article above includes the quote:

Gantz cited Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, as saying “it matter not what say the goyim, what is important is what do the Jews.”

Sunday, 9 June 2024 Dereel Images for 9 June 2024
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teevee progress
Topic: technology Link here

Next step with teevee: put the disk in the spare machine on top of hydra. That was a non-starter, literally: it didn't make it through the power-on self test. I recall a machine being defective, and that must be the one. But it had 32 GB of memory in it, so I took half and increased the other machine to 22 GB, which should be more than enough. The other 16 GB can go into the new lagoon.

Then upgraded teevee from FreeBSD 13.1-STABLE to 14.1-STABLE, which went surprisingly smoothly once I found enough space for /usr/obj: it now takes up nearly 17 GB! Rebooting was another matter:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240609/big/teevee-boot-fail-1.jpeg
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What went wrong there? Tried rebooting, and it hung at this point:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240609/big/teevee-boot-fail-3.jpeg
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“module kernel exists but with wrong version”. What does that mean? Ah, it's nvidia's inimitable way of saying “the running kernel is not what I expect”. Yes, that's to be expected after an upgrade, but the module should just refuse to load. Fortunately I was able to boot single-user and remove the /boot/loader.conf file, after which things worked.

And I was even able to upgrade all ports, with nothing more than espeak being removed, though pkg showed itself from its amusing side:

=== root@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /usr/src 6 -> Log pkg bootstrap -f
===== Sun 9 Jun 2024 13:26:10 AEST on teevee.lemis.com: pkg bootstrap -f
pkg: Warning: Major OS version upgrade detected.  Running "pkg bootstrap -f" recommended
pkg(8) is already installed. Forcing reinstallation through pkg(7).
The package management tool is not yet installed on your system.
Do you want to fetch and install it now? [y/N]: y
Installing pkg-1.21.3...
package pkg is already installed, forced install
Extracting pkg-1.21.3: .......... done
Bootstrapping pkg from pkg+http://pkg.FreeBSD.org/FreeBSD:14:amd64/quarterly, please wait...
Verifying signature with trusted certificate pkg.freebsd.org.2013102301... done

Only the display card was an issue: the computer chose it, and I didn't have anything connected. But on the whole things look quite positive.


Understanding Bluetooth
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

While reading through old diary entries, came across this article, which includes information about using my Bluetooth headphones. I had recently tried to use them, but I couldn't get them to pair, and I had assumed that they were defective. But no, not really, just Bluetooth. Tried the instructions there, and they worked. How I hate Bluetooth! If something goes wrong, there's almost no way to diagnose the problem. Time for a HOWTO page.


Hugin loses to one-liner
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Jari Kirma is playing with panorama software. Problem: Hugin doesn't run on his Apple machine. So he wrote what he claims is a one-liner in Mathematica that creates panoramas. The result isn't too bad:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240608/big/tapiola-kirma.jpeg
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How much better could Hugin do? I asked him for the component images and stitched them. Oh:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240608/big/tapiola.jpeg
Image title: tapiola          Dimensions:          9810 x 1381, 1844 kB Display location on map
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Even “Perfectly Clear“ didn't help much:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240608/big/tapiola-optimized.jpeg
Image title: tapiola optimized          Dimensions:          9810 x 1381, 5057 kB Display location on map
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What went wrong there? Another problem with Enblend 4.2? Tried it with version 4.1.4 on eureka, but the results were the same.

What can it be? The photos were taken with a mobile phone (Google Pixel 8 Pro), and presumably the exposures differed from one image to the next. My best bet is that my standard settings don't account for exposure differences. Do I want to investigate further?


Lena stumbles
Topic: animals Link here

While walking the dogs, Elena tripped and fell on the ground and appeared unable to get up. We've seen that before, and at the time we were relatively sure that it was a snake bite. But here there was no snake to be seen. She got up and walked on as if nothing had happened. Is it maybe just an issue that Borzois have more issues with balance than other dogs?


Acclimatizing Mona
Topic: animals Link here

Mona still hasn't come to terms with the dogs. She's no longer as afraid, but she's far from seeing them as harmless, let alone friends.

We've been discussing what to do. We had a cage in Yvonne's bedroom, in which Bruno spent the nights until about a week ago. Now he and Mona have the run of the house. Yvonne wanted to put Mona in the cage in the bedroom, but that's the domain of the dogs. So: bring the cage into the lounge room and let her get used to it. Then we can let the dogs in and see what happens. Here's the current situation:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240609/big/Mona-cage-1-detail.jpeg
Image title: Mona cage 1 detail          Dimensions:          2310 x 1585, 1254 kB
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Image title: Mona cage 1          Dimensions:          4719 x 3456, 4797 kB
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hydra: Watchdog timeouts
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Seen after some work with despise, the Microsoft VM running on hydra:

Jun  8 09:00:16 hydra kernel: re0: watchdog timeout
Jun  8 09:00:16 hydra syslogd: sendto: No route to host
Jun  8 09:00:16 hydra kernel: re0: link state changed to DOWN
Jun  8 09:00:16 hydra syslogd: sendto: No route to host
Jun  8 09:00:21 hydra kernel: re0: link state changed to UP

That's presumably associated with the hangs that I have been seeing.


Monday, 10 June 2024 Dereel Images for 10 June 2024
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Beijing sauce noodles again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Two weeks ago I cooked a first attempt at Beijing “fried sauce” noodles (炸酱面). The results were interesting, but there were issues.

In principle they're surprisingly similar to a noodle dish from another national capital, Kuala Lumpur. They're both noodles in a dark sauce. The difference that I saw were: the Beijing noodles use different aromatics, notably star anise, sichuan pepper and cinnamon. They also use beans instead of soya sauce and caramel, and the noodles are different. Also, the Kuala Lumpur noodles use squid and prawns, while the Beijing ones (at least my base recipe) don't.

Today I thought of making a hybrid, but in the end I came out with a modified version of the Beijing noodles. Add squid, prawns and choi sam, use the same aromatics, double the sauce ingredients. The result looked pretty much the same, but it was much more substantial:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240610/big/Beijing-noodles-8.jpeg
Image title: Beijing noodles 8          Dimensions:          4608 x 3456, 3464 kB
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And how was it? OK, but there's still a way to go. I forgot the raw garlic. And I think my choice of Shanxi planed noodles (not in the original recipe) was suboptimal: they taste too floury. Possibly things would be better with more sauce.


A new mobile phone
Topic: technology, language, opinion Link here

After considerable investigation, I have decided on a new mobile phone, a Xiaomi Redmi Note 13 with 5G coverage to maximize its useful life, though the 5G versions cost significantly more . Why that one? Fatigue, mostly. There are so many phones to choose from, and there's little to distinguish them. This one was one of the relatively few on sale from JB Hi-Fi at a price that I was prepared to pay ($479, discounted from $549). Why JB Hi-Fi? They're the only shop in town, they have relatively few models, and they have presumably chosen the most usable models. And a comparison with my current phone shows it to be better in all respects.

OK, what do they really cost? On eBay they start at $464.59, not that much cheaper than JB Hi-Fi. But there are discounts (“extra 70% off with coupon”, “extra 12% off with coupon”) from the same seller, depending on colour! But they lie: the 70% off is limited to $25, which is less than 12%. And the 12% applies only to white phones.

So: do I pay $408.84 for a white phone, or $439.59 for a black or green one that is otherwise identical? I'm not a dedicated follower of fashion. The white one it is, though I can understand why it's cheaper.

So what do I call it? Apart from other considerations, hirse.lemis.com is still going to be useful for everything except phone calls, so I need a new name. albo.lemis.com? Asked Gemini, which made a number of suggestions, including (in draft 2) alba, clearly an indication of lack of understanding of grammatical gender. So until proof of the contrary, albo it is.


Hugin fail
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

I was really unhappy with yesterday's results with Jari Kirma's panorama. Spent some more time looking at it today. There are 30 component images, and they have an exposure range of EV 11.4 to 9.8 (at 15/12.8° ISO!), which seems to be appropriate. Here the unretouched first and last image:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240608/big/PXL_20240608_180517602.jpeg
Image title: PXL_20240608_180517602          Dimensions:          6144 x 8160, 13524 kB Display location on map
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240608/big/PXL_20240608_181007744.jpeg
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DxO PhotoLab has no trouble with the images. Here the thumbnails:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240610/big/Tapiola-DxO.png
Image title: Tapiola DxO          Dimensions:          3782 x 476, 973 kB
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But Hugin makes a complete mess of the exposures:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240610/big/Tapiola-Hugin.png
Image title: Tapiola Hugin          Dimensions:          3782 x 225, 1062 kB
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Things were so bad that the out-of-box Hugin wasn't even able to align the images. What's wrong here? The source images are available at Day/20240610/tapiola-panorama-photos.zip.


Tapiola sinfonietta?
Topic: music Link here

One of the relatively well-known Finnish musical ensembles is the Tapiola Sinfonietta. I had never known where Tapiola is, and so the title to Jari Kirma's panorama came as a surprise. It proves to be part of Espoo, where Jari lives, and in fact it seems that he, too, is in Tapiola, only 260 m from the Tapiola Hall, officially Espoo Cultural Centre.


Tuesday, 11 June 2024 Dereel Images for 11 June 2024
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More teevee progress
Topic: technology, multimedia, opinion Link here

The only thing missing with teevee was the display card, and I put that in the “too hard” basket on Sunday. Today I got round to doing it. Yes, connect it to the monitor via HDMI and it comes up normally, without the dead display issues that I have had so often on tiwi.

Starting X was a different matter, of course. I need drivers, and that's the usual horror with the Nvidia site. But now we have artificial intelligence. What does Gemini say? Once again something helpful: install the nvidia-driver-470 package. And yes, that worked! Gemini seems to be more and more useful, though I'm sure I'll soon run into limitations.

But I still need a mouse, and while trying to find a combination of mouse and dongle (which ultimately failed) I ran into a panic!

panic: ffs_blkfree_cg: freeing free block
cpuid = 1
time = 1718080794
KDB: stack backtrace:
#0 0xffffffff80b7fa6d at kdb_backtrace+0x5d
#1 0xffffffff80b32691 at vpanic+0x131
#2 0xffffffff80b32553 at panic+0x43
#3 0xffffffff80e4d5c0 at ffs_freefile+0
#4 0xffffffff80e4a08a at ffs_blkfree+0x9a
#5 0xffffffff80e7454c at freework_freeblock+0x5fc
#6 0xffffffff80e67178 at handle_workitem_freeblocks+0x168
#7 0xffffffff80e602cd at process_worklist_item+0x24d
#8 0xffffffff80e5aa3d at softdep_process_worklist+0xed
#9 0xffffffff80e5e81f at softdep_flush+0x11f
#10 0xffffffff80aeca7f at fork_exit+0x7f

What's that? The file system was clean. Or at least fsck said so. Reboot and run fsck -f, bypassing soft updates. And how about that, it found a whole lot of inconsistencies. Moral: after copying a file system with dd, don't rely on soft updates to still be consistent.


Mona accepts cage
Topic: animals Link here

We've had the cage in the lounge room for a couple of days now, but so far Mona hasn't shown much interest. But today she did:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240611/big/Mona-in-cage-7.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240611/big/Mona-in-cage-5.jpeg
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There are also some indications that she's finally coming to terms with the dogs. Today Larissa came within 40 cm of her while she (Mona) was sitting on the rocking chair, and Mona didn't run away. She wasn't very happy either, but there is some progress.


More dead elephants
Topic: general, animals Link here

Big crash from the lounge room later. What I found was:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240611/big/Crashed-elephants.jpeg
Image title: Crashed elephants          Dimensions:          4609 x 3456, 4571 kB
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That must have been Bruno's work. Fortunately nothing was damaged. A good thing that he's finally calming down a bit.


Understanding infrared thermometers
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Found yet another old infrared thermometer in my office today. Put in some batteries and tried it out. It worked, sort of, but showed completely random temperatures up to 10° apart. I recall problems with it 7 years ago, and at the time I thought it was due to moisture. But clearly there's more to the accuracy of infrared thermometers than meets the eye.


Wednesday, 12 June 2024 Dereel Images for 12 June 2024
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Installing another air conditioner
Topic: Stones Road house, general, technology, opinion Link here

Nathan Barnes and his apprentice Justin along this morning at 8:00 to install a Mitsubishi MSZ-AP-60VG2 air conditioner. As if the early hour wasn't bad enough, the remote controlled front gate had got jammed, not for the first time, and I had to go out into the freezing cold and dark with only a dressing gown to un-jam it.

They got stuck into it pretty quickly. About the only issue was that we had to briefly take house power down, so nearly all the computers had to be powered down. Once again lagoon survived on the UPS, but the other machines didn't have one. I took the opportunity to put them in circuit, only for the main machines.

By 15:30 they were done and gone, and the air conditioner was working:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240612/big/Installing-air-conditioner-17.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240612/big/Installing-air-conditioner-18.jpeg
Image title: Installing air conditioner 18          Dimensions:          5386 x 3888, 10252 kB
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240612/big/Installing-air-conditioner-19.jpeg
Image title: Installing air conditioner 19          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 7871 kB
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Nathan also continued his investigation of the Actron Air unit. The inside part of the circuit had lost more than half its pressure over the last week, and he found that the coil of the inside unit was once again clogged with gunk, but also had a massive leak. It'll need to be replaced, and for that I'm looking at round $3,000, roughly what we paid to have the new unit installed.

Why? Like Tony Nesci before him, he had never seen anything like it before, and he, too, thought that the material was dog hair until he looked at it more carefully. It's almost certainly spider's webs. Are the two issues related? On the face of it, no: one is dirt, the other is damage to the piping. But we should really look at stopping either happening again. Mice chewing up the duct between return air and inside unit? Maybe, but the clogging doesn't look like mice. In any case, he can't do it this month: he let a lot of other stuff lie to do our installation, and now it's his other customers' turn. July? August? At least we have a stop-gap, even if it's not exactly a replacement for the Actron unit.


Google: You have violated our policy
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Sent a message about the Tapiola panoramas to the Hugin mailing list today. The response was swift and unexpected:

We're letting you know that we've permanently removed the content at https://groups.google.com/d/msg/hugin-ptx/6cIfYhbkz74/yG2lQnBmBgAJ

Why did this happen?

An external report flagged the content for illegal content or policy violations. As a result, our legal content and policy standards team removed the content for the following reason: unwanted content.

Learn more

You can learn more about our content policies and enforcement at our help center.

What you can do next

You may have the option to pursue your claims in court. If you have legal questions or wish to examine legal options that may be available to you, you may want to consult with your own legal counsel.

What an arrogant, inaccurate and stupid response! What “external report”? What inappropriate content? Why a URL when they have deleted it? And my only recourse is proving my claims in court. Google, I have found you obnoxious for some time, but this is extremely insulting. “Don't be evil”, indeed!

What was their bot objecting to? I guessed, without much evidence, that it was the number of image URLs that I put in the message. Rewrote it without those URLs and it was accepted. What a pain!


New photo toys
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I've been taking photos now for 60 years. This unremarkable photo was taken at the Bath Festival on 11 June 1964:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/19640611/big/Bath-festival-1.jpeg
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The camera was a Voss Diaxette, a particularly primitive camera with no light meter. How did I get the exposure right? It wasn't just this image: all the photos I took looked relatively well exposed.

But recently I was reminded: I had a Zeiss Icon Ikophot exposure meter, and recently I found one on eBay for a price I could afford. It arrived today:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240613/big/Ikophot-1.jpeg
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It's really quite a pretty thing. Interesting to note the shutter speeds in the old series 1/25 to 1/125, and that when I received it the thing was set to 40 ASA. Or was it? It also shows 18° DIN, which is now 50 ASA. On the other hand, the sensitivity range is from 3 (!) to 800 ASA or 30° DIN.


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240613/big/Ikophot-1-detail.jpeg
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So is the dial slightly off-centre? You wouldn't think so for a device of this quality.

It's surprising how little reliable information there is on the device. This Camerapedia page gives a feeling:

The first Ikonophot [sic] 1328/1 light meter was manufactured in Dresden by Zeiss-Ikon A. G. in 1339.

But wait, there's more! An Ernst Leitz Wetzlar GmbH [German, no English version available] Hektor 13.5 cm f/4.5 and a 20 cm f/4.5 Telyt:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240613/big/Hektor-1.jpeg
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https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240613/big/Telyt-2.jpeg
Image title: Telyt 2          Dimensions:          4338 x 2365, 2757 kB
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According to this serial number list, the Hektor was made in 1951, and the Telyt was made in 1956. That makes the Hektor the oldest lens that I have, now 73 years old. Last week I found another site which gives me the same years.

What can I do them? Both of them fit my FED 1, but that won't help with the Telyt, which, as I only discovered later, is designed for a Visoflex and thus requires 62.5 mm distance from the camera flange.

One of the reasons for this purchase is that my FED has a film in it, and potentially there are interesting images on it. The lens for the FED is 50 mm f/3.5 Fed lens with no apparent serial number. It appears to be an Elmar copy, and the diaphragm is jammed at f/4. So if there are any exposures left on the film, I'll take them with the Hektor.

What do I do with the Telyt? I could theoretically mount it on my (Pentax) bellows, which compress to 45 mm, and use it on my Olympus cameras. I have an adapter from M42 to Micro Four Thirds, but I'd also need an adapter from M39 to M42. Is it worth it? Surprisingly it appears to be the widest aperture lens that I have at that focal length.


Mini hamburger bun
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of these silly things that we can't find in Australia are sensible hamburger buns. The ones we do find are far too soft. Today Yvonne brought some “mini sourgdough” buns, so we ate hamburgers again. Mini? We couldn't get our teeth round them, and Yvonne left half of hers for breakfast:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20240612/big/Massive-hamburger.jpeg
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Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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