Thursday, March 23, 2017

Workmate renewed

This gem was given to me by my parents sometime in the late 70s I would say. 

It's a Black & Decker Workmate, fairly early model thought probably not the first generation.  It folds up neatly and has a metal frame that one can lean on for small or medium cuts.  Larger ones I'd want saw horses.

The top was pressed sawdust or something and while it lasted decades, wasn't as durable as the steel frame, threaded rods, and plastic handles (though one of those died at the very end of the rejuventation when I turned it wrongway up.

I bought slices of red oak and proceded to mostly duplicate the original top in dimensions and utility.

Happy to have it workable again, and thanks to Mom and Dad!

2 2

2 2

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Bengies Top Ten Movies for 2016

Bengies Top 10 2016

 The Bengies Drive-In Theatre closed out their 2016 regular season with a great post-Halloween weekend trippple feature and I started reviewing movies I'd see there this year for another "Top 10" list.  Before I could get this published, an announcement came out asking what movies people might want to see during a December Saturday-only show night.  If I make it to that show, and if my opinions on the top 10 changes, I may update this blog.  But I'm going to finish it in November and push it out so it's done. For now.

  Below, somewhere, are links to my prior year posts on the best movies I saw at the Bengies that year, going back to when I was posting this list on the Netflix site.  This will be the 16th consecutive list.  And despite travels and not-the-best-year for great releases, there are gems here.

  I'll depart from the old David Letterman style of just ticking these off from 10 to 1, or 1 to 10, and go narrative.  The fifth annual Bengies Boy Scout Drive-In Camp-In was another success, thanks to the generosity of the management and crew on September 10.  They showed:

  The Secret Life of Pets
  Star Trek (Beyond)

  Every year the choices for the Scout weekend are a source of great interest, and small controversy.  I have learned, maybe the hard way, you can't please everyone.  All of these fit into my Top Ten for 2016.  Some reviews panned Sully--I thought it the perfect real life hero movie for Scouts. Pets was hilarious, and I've yet to dislike a Star Trek film (some I like better than others of course).

  For us, the closing November weekend included two of the three shows on the bill:

  The first one was cute enough, but as a sequel a pale imitation of the original.  Which was long enough ago that the succession seems quite forced.  I would say Doc Strange had the best visual effects of the year (for me).  Not that others like Star Trek weren't as advanced, just that these fit well into the story as opposed to "blowed up real good" takes.

  My spouse and I squirmed through The Girl On The Train in October.  Worth watching, and definitely in the top ten.

  For the all night show Labor Day weekend, Kubo and the Two Strings was my favorite.  I'm still a 2-D animation fan.

  The Jason Bourne series has started to run together for me, maybe due to the continuous chases, intermingled with explosions, and how many double crosses can we include in the plot to keep the characters and audience off kilter.  It;s an enjoyable big-screen adventure as long as it more than just loud noises and flashing bombs.

  For the all night show Memorial Day weekend, we enjoyed (somewhat):

  Marvel Comics with their intramural rivalries are passable, and the cameos of Stan Lee are the modern equivalent of Hitchcock showing up in his own shots.
  And, that's Ten.  Here are two more, for good measure:

Finally, at the bottom of the pictures below, is an image of the worst movie of 2016.  We have no idea why someone thought this universe needed two superheroes trying to rough each other up.  It was so dark and depressing to imagine the depths of despair reached to produce this lemon I can only hope one day it will appear as the target for my favorite spin doctors, the crew behind Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Until next year: "See you at the movies!"

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 - 2001


Monday, October 10, 2016

Lodgemaster 3.x.y Service Hour Reporting by Chapter

Since I cannot find a Chapter level year-to-date service hour report in LodgeMaster, this is how I managed to produce the numbers the Chapter Adviser wanted.

First, go to the Event Manager.  You don't need to pick an event; that is just where Service Hour reports are on the menus.

Click on "Yearly By Member".  Yearly Detail returns similar data though more detail, requiring more work at the end for totals.

Generally, pick the current year as shown.  If you need to look at last year, change that field.  Then Submit.

After the report appears, click on the "Save" icon (the old school floppy disk icon).  You can choose XLS, XLSX or CSV to create a file for a spreadsheet.

The next menu with CSV Export Options can be left with those that appear (click OK).

I like to include a date in the Year-Month-Day style in the name of the file for easier identification later.

Once you have the file on your hard drive (or cloud drive or wherever) you can load it into Excel or another spreadsheet programs.  The red oval above shows the first four lines that include heading information.  In an Excel format (XLS or XLSX) the first line has a graphic OA logo.  Either in the CSV file or in the spreasdheet program, remove these first few lines, leaving Name/Chapter/Hours at the top.

After that, it's a matter of sorting by the Chapter column and either removing those outside your area, or just summing the hours for your Chapter.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Cal Hob

Calendar demo

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bengies Top Ten for 2015, In My Eye

Bengies Top 10.  An Annual Tradition. For me, dating back to 2001 (see: lists), with single lists each year - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  Now for 2015.

First, the top "exceptions" to the year's list are movies that were filmed in previous years, and when shown on the giant outdoor screen are a fine an experience as I can have.  With the season ending with Mel Brook's classic Young Frankenstein, these are ultimate events!

  1. Young Frankenstein
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. E.T.

Another exception was the Fourth Annual Bengies Drive-In Boy Scout Camp in, in September.  These all were crowd favorites:
  1. Minions
  2. Pixels
  3. Jurassic World

I was hoping for Inside Out, which didn't make the cut, though I did catch it on two other weekends.

In order, the remaining 10 top features:

  1. Inside Out
  2. The Martian
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Shaun The Sheep
  5. Spectre
  6. The Peanuts Movie
  7. Mission Impossible 5
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Spongebob
  10. Tomorrowland
  11. Insurgent
  12. Man From UNCLE
I had to put in a couple that were close to the top ten, despite having all great picks in other years, there just didn't seem to be much more to choose from.  I definitely was disappointed in the Man From U.N.C.L.E., partly because it wasn't a series that demanded resurfacing.  Similar failures might include I Spy, Get Smart, or even The Avengers (the 1998 try, of course, not the unrelated Marvel fantasies).  Mission Impossible is the exception to that rule.  Maybe not my favorite ongoing spy/thriller series.  Lots of competition in that genre for sure.

Pixar still has it going.  I would not call Inside Out my favorite (hard to top WALL-E, Up, et al). Such a cast is par for the course.  Mad Max - up there due to the Creative Alliance Marquee Ball (Baltimore icon).

Insurgent and Tomorrowland are low; others would think of them more highly.  The Peanuts movie surprise me.  It could easily have been very bad.

The late season showing of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. as a single Sunday early evening show was stupendous, not least because the weather cooperated.

This year's "NAH": Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

That is all, folks!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Austin Junior Code Inspector Rant

Call me Deputy.

First, this post is about a civic web site.  The circumstances of me filing a "311" report while a tourist in Austin are unusual, perhaps, though I have dealt with governmental data since college when I studied emergency response trends (fire calls) for a public facility siting project.  My home town recently fired their "CityStat" data czar after lack of progress, perceived or actual.

We shopped in downtown Austin during our vacation; I won't include specific location or observations as they aren't relevant to the post.  I'm expecting the City of Austin to follow up on my report; afterwards I will attempt to communicate my reaction to their web site.  I noticed what could be a dangerous situation inside a private business, recorded images, and made a mental note to alert the appropriate authorities.

Saturday, when Austin had their Pride Festival, my wife and I watched a slide show on LBGT history, including details on what was described as the worst arson attack in New Orleans history.  There's a recent film about it called Upstairs Inferno.  That catalyzed my decision to report what I saw. Also, serendipitously, the festival included a booth for Austin's Code Compliance agency (where I picked up the souvenir "Junior Inspector" sticker). I considered myself deputized.

I went with the online web entry instead of phoning it in as it was the weekend.  What follows is a critique of the process.  I found the proper site easily (Googled "austin code compliance", go to ) and filled in relevant information.  Name, address, phone number, basic stuff.  Thinking through what the professional code inspector might need, I debated which of several email addresses I might supply.  This led to one major error.

Exhibit A

There was not a specific service choice that met the situation I was reporting, though there were a lot of choices.  I ended up picking "Request Code Officer" as that seemed to be the best catch-all for "none of the above."  The site I eneded up on, by the way, is - quite a mouthful, and not an easy URL to communicate to the general public.  Maybe would work as a shortcut?

Exhibit B

The site pre-filled Texas in the location field.  I had to google the address I was reporting, which fortunately I had remembered. So far, so good.

Exhibit C

This is the fourth screen I had to navigate through, and though I could not tell, I was not near the end.  The web designers presumably chose to break all of the required data into parts so that individual entries could be verified piecemeal instead of en masse.  Not a horrid experience, but correcting something on an earlier screen if more difficult as more steps are completed.

I entered "Yes" for "Is this an apartment or commercial building".  I figured I was done, but I will come back to this question.

Below that was an exhaustive and exhausting list of choices.  As an IT professional, I could guess these are check box fields that might be tricky to expand or modify after creation.  There are most likely had-coded field names to go with these in the underlying database.

My actual concern, sadly, was none of those fields, forcing me to choose "Accessibility issues" as the closest I could get.  People unfamiliar with English, or with less governmental exposure, would probably give up before getting past here.

Points off for spell check failure on "Fence Height or Sceening".

Exhibit D

This page asked if I had complained about this issue before.
Didn't need this the first time through the process, but I did on the second, and third.

Exhibit E

While I had already answered this is a commercial establishment, this screen pushed me backwards to provide more detail.  The red lettering imply it's my fault for not filling them in earlier, yet the entry box did not appear until after I went forward. 

Exhibit F (or Intake SR Step 3)

Because I neglected to provide an email address on an earlier screen (IT WAS NOT MANDATORY), I had to start my entry process from the beginning (see Exhibit H).

How many times? 1 is what I entered. 

Exhibit G

Upon "next" I got an error saying:

Please enter a number between -99999999999999999999999999999 and 999999999999999999999999999999

thus triggering this rant ( as well as an excellent throwback from erstwhile colleague Nigel James)


Please enter a number between -99999999999999999999999999999 and 999999999999999999999999999999

Who would ever enter a number zero, or less, to the question, how many times?

And "Complete Participant Information Section".  Wouldn't "tell us about yourself" be simpler?   And where is that to be found anyway?

Exhibit H

A "valid email address" is required.  Which I forgot to include (see above).

But "to lookup status"? Hm.  Lookup is not a verb.  So says the web site As Maury Allen said, "you could look it up." Or was it Thurber?

Bottom line - typos, poor navigation, and a road-block value check made this experience not so easy for me.  Hopefully, there's a newer version under development, and more testing and checking will be done.

My credentials: