13 April 2018

TYWKIWDBI is down - again (updated) [returning Friday, see Addendum]

Yesterday when my iMac started up, the usual "susumi" sound was absent and the screen opened up dark instead of grey.  The Apple logo appeared, along with the expected progress bar.

The progress bar evolved way too slowly, then stopped.  After an hour it was still frozen at about 95% complete.  I restarted while zapping the parameter RAM; that accomplished nothing.  And rebooting in the Safe mode (shift key down) didn't help.

So I went to my old Mac to look for help online.  When I rebooted in Recovery mode (command-R), I at least got a response:

I had already been to multiple other help sites, several of which suggested that the frozen progress bar at the end of the startup process probably indicated a problem with "permissions," which should be fixable using Disk Utility.  So I opened it...

... and clicked on the First Aid logo...

... and ran First Aid, hoping to repair permissions.  First Aid ran successfully...

... but after clicking "Done" the iMac still wouldn't complete the rebooting process.

On my old Mac (the one I'm using right now to access the blog) (running OSX Yosemite 10.10.5), the First Aid program presents the  option of repairing permissions:

But this new, crashed, iMac running OSX 10.13.something doesn't seem to offer that option.  ???

Of course, his may not be a permissions problem at all.  Does anyone know what might be causing this?

Of possible note, I did try to option of seeking help online at Apple, and the frozen computer did connect me, so much of its guts, including web access, appears to be functional, but I just can't access stored material.

My next option is to restore using a Time Machine backup.  Here's where I have to offer a "mea culpa" and admit that I don't keep the Time Machine constantly attached to the Mac because my desk is so full of gadgets (printers/scanners, digital microscope, USB extender, lamp, SAD light etc.  So my last complete backup was in mid-February.  I can restore from there, losing a couple months of bookmarks for the blog (many hundreds of them) and various Word documents and uploaded photos.

More importantly, restoring to February status will lose my entire Turbotax tax return, which I had joyfully completed yesterday.  Today was to be the day to file online and submit payment.  I don't know if I can retrieve the entered data from Turbotax online on this old computer or whether it's only stored on the crashed hard disk.

So I am frantically looking for some way to revive the Mac with the frozen progress bar.  I'll be seeking help from Apple online and perhaps over the phone.  In the meantime I'm seeking help from readers who might have any suggestions for me.

This isn't the end of Life As We Know It, but absent a satisfactory recovery, especially of my tax data, I'm just not going to have time to blog for at least several weeks.

Nighttime Addendum:

You learn something every day.  Reader Charlie has introduced me to rebooting in Verbose mode (command-V).  I just did so, and the screen lit up with line after line of TMI-for-an-English-major:

Eventually it settled in to a mantra of "too many corpses" -

That continued past the 300th iteration before I finally had mercy on it and powered it down for the night.

Charlie, there may be a clarification of what's going on earlier in the readout, but I couldn't find a way to scroll up to get closeup photos.  Tomorrow after the Mac and I both get some rest, I'll try another Verbose boot with camera in hand.

If I ever start a band, "Too Many Corpses" might be an interesting name.  I've appended it to the title of this post for now...

Addendum #2

Excellent information at Robin Monks for any reader experiencing the same problem.

Addendum #3
Oh joy !!!

It looks like we are back in business, boys and girls.  TLDR: I reinstalled the operating system.  I don't THINK I lost anything, but I'm not touching anything right now until Time Machine is finished making a complete backup of whatever's there.

I'll leave some notes in the comment thread for those interested in the technical aspect of the problem and its solution.

Best case scenario I'll still be busy tonight and tomorrow with taxes and eBay and stuff.  TYWKIWDBI should reanimate Wednesday or Thursday.

Addendum #4: problem recurs

Gloom returns the next morning -

When I pushed the start button and heard no susumi chime and the screen started to open black instead of grey I had a sinking feeling.  The progress bar has been frozen at 99% for half an hour.

Thankfully I did get my taxes finished and e-filed just before midnight last night.

Now to resume troubleshooting.  Apparently reinstalling the OS was a workaround rather than a fix.  Whatever gremlin is doing this is still in there.  I'll be rebooting in various modes and probably ordering a USB-to-Thunderbolt or Firewire-to-Thunderbolt connector from Amazon, or else I'll just haul the iMac over to the Apple store.

So, no blogging for a while.  *sigh*

Addendum #5: problem gone (for the moment)

The sequence of events is getting a bit fragmented between the text of this post itself and the ever-enlarging Comment thread below.  I don't have time to "optimize" the narrative, but I'll summarize with another addendum -

When the frozen progress bar first appeared, rebooting in Safe mode (space bar) didn't help.  After I used the Recovery mode reboot (R) to reinstall the operating system (which incidentally also updated from OSX 10.13.3 to 10.13.4) I was able to access the desktop.

Then the problem recurred.  But this time (with new operating system in place) I was able to access the desktop via a Safe mode reboot.  I read (or one of the readers told me) that if the problem can be bypassed by a Safe mode reboot, then the problem probably lies in the login or startup files because the Safe mode deactivates login items.

So I restarted Safe mode, got to the desktop and went to System Preferences > Users and Groups to see what my "Login items" are. There were 6 of them: System Events, iAntiVirus, Microsoft AU Daemon, Adobe Resource Synchronizer, Dropbox, and SMART reporter.

I started looking some of them up to see what I could maybe do without.  Never did find exactly was "System Events" was.  The Microsoft "AU Daemon" is an AutoUpdater for Microsoft Office.  Dropbox and SMART reporter I remember as being add-ons that I never have used directly.

I couldn't find a way to "turn them off and back on" so it was late in the evening and I said (literally) WTF I'm just going to delete them.  Did so, pulled down the Restart command - and the iMac opened to the desktop !!  I was so happy I went directly to Civilization V and finished my Genghis Khan campaign.

This morning was the acid test.  Would I need a Safe Mode reboot?  Nope.  Started up fine.f

I don't know if the problem is fixed or dormant.  I could have an occult malignancy somewhere in the computer, but I'm guessing (it's only that) that one of the startup items caused a conflict with some other item that had been updated, or it became corrupted/went insane.  It would be ironic if the glitch that I was calling a "gremlin" turns out to be Microsoft's "Daemon."

If this problem stays fixed with this relatively simple intervention that can be performed by any elderly English major, I should probably revise the title of this post with some keywords that would be useful to others searching the same problem.

So, things are working and I have a current TimeMachine backup.  I also have dozens of new links for the blog that I bookmarked on my old iMac.  Eventually I should probably run some diagnostics.  But first, real life calls.  We're getting yet another snowstorm and I have some paperwork to attend to.

Barring surprises, I should be able to resume blogging on Friday.

12 April 2018

An example of "Troxler fading"

Fix your gaze on the center of this image (the black pixel) and stare at it for about 20 seconds.  The colors will disappear.
Troxler's fading has been attributed to the adaptation of neurons vital for perceiving stimuli in the visual system. It is part of the general principle in sensory systems that unvarying stimuli soon disappear from our awareness. For example, if a small piece of paper is dropped on the inside of one's forearm, it is felt for a short period of time. Soon, however, the sensation fades away.
An even more dramatic example is in the video at Digg.

This is a "bulbous bow"

An interesting article at Hakai Magazine entitled "The Secret Language of Ships" explains and illustrates many of the interesting features of ships.  This bow shape is designed to reduce drag.  I found more information at Wikipedia:
A conventionally shaped bow causes a bow wave. A bulb alone forces the water to flow up and over it forming a trough. Thus, if a bulb is added to a conventional bow at the proper position, the bulb trough coincides with the crest of the bow wave, and the two cancel out, reducing the vessel's wake. While inducing another wave stream saps energy from the ship, canceling out the second wave stream at the bow changes the pressure distribution along the hull, thereby reducing wave resistance.


The Onion doesn't pull punches.  Also on the same page "Jealous Paul Ryan Asks Legislator With 37% Approval Rating What His Secret Is."

Some would call this "political theater"

A Guardian videographer captured this surreal moment when 28 photographers zoom in on Mark Zuckerberg. 

I also like this reverse angle which captured the absence of most Congressmen, who were apparently called away to urgent fundraising activities.

11 April 2018

Paul Ryan is retiring. This man wants to take his seat in the House.

Paul Ryan currently represents Wisconsin's 1st congressional district (the Milwaukee area).   The Republican who wants to take his place is Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist.  Paul Ryan does not endorse him:
“There are many qualified conservatives who would be effective representatives for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, and Paul Nehlen isn’t one of them,” said Kevin Seifert, the head of Ryan’s political operation. “His bigoted rhetoric and his reprehensible statements should disqualify him from holding any public office and we are confident voters in Southern Wisconsin feel the same way.”
There are currently three other candidates - one Republican and two Democrats (links with information about each at Ballotpedia).

To me, the most interesting one is Randy Bryce. who was featured in a recent article at Vox:
Bryce is a union ironworker and Army veteran. He was a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016, serving as a Sanders delegate from Wisconsin during the Democratic National Convention. He’s proud of his working-class roots — unlike a lot of other candidates, it’s typical to see Bryce standing on a construction site with a hard hat on in his campaign ads, rather than wearing a suit...

He’s indicated he’s a different kind of Democrat, and has also been cautious when talking about whether he would support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi if she were to run for speaker if Democrats can retake the majority in 2018...

Bryce is a supporter of Medicare-for-all and has said he would sign on to the bill that is currently proposed in the House. He’s running on a platform that focuses mostly on jobs and the economy and has made infrastructure a huge focus of his campaign...
I've embedded his first campaign video above.  It's very effective.

10 April 2018

Epidemic of "zombie-like" raccoons in Ohio attributed to distemper

Coggeshall thought something was wrong with the raccoon, since it was out in broad daylight. What came next confirmed that. As Coggeshall left his garage to try to shoo the animal away, the raccoon stood up on its hind feet and flashed its sharp, white teeth and pink gums. Saliva dripped from its mouth.

Suddenly, it collapsed into a comatose-like state, Coggeshall said. It soon awoke from its lethargy, walked around for a bit, then got back up on its hind feet again.

“It was kind of startling,” Coggeshall told The Washington Post. “And it kept coming back to the house. It was at my door about two or three times.”
Over a dozen cases reported in the past week.  Details and a video news report at The Washington Post.  Photo credit Robert Coggeshall.

A mechanical model of Cardano's Hypocycloid

I've seen animations of hypocycloids before, but not a working model.  Most interesting.

Found at The Awesomer, via Neatorama.

TYWKIWDBI supports The Guardian

The Guardian does not have a paywall.  Instead, they simply (and politely) request that visitors make a contribution - which I occasionally do.

I'm not asking readers of TYWKIWDBI to support the Guardian, but I do strongly suggest that when you find an interesting and useful website, that you make a donation - however small - both as a simple "thank you" and as an investment in our collective future.

"Glitter beer" contains titanium and mica

Glitter beer has become the “what will they think of next?” beer story of this spring, part of the larger trend of sparkly foods from doughnuts to pizza and cupcakes. Many news outlets have run stories of local breweries jumping into the fad...

Eichelberger said the German-made glitter he’s using does not affect flavor. It contains titanium
dioxide — a white compound that’s used as a pigment in paint and sunscreen — and tiny flakes of mica, a pearlescent mineral that’s the same stuff found in kids’ craft projects and teenagers’ hair.
All of that sounds not super great to put in your body, but if the Food and Drug Administration says it’s safe (it does), let’s have a glitter beer party! (Really, though, titanium dioxide is commonly used as a food coloring, and mica flakes have been in toothpaste for years.)...

Glitter beer has incited many eye rolls and much hand-wringing from purists, especially on beer Twitter. But appearance has always been a part of beer evaluation, and rather serious beer writer Jeff Alworth noted on his “Beervana” podcast that glitter allows a drinker to follow the usually hidden convection cycle of a beer as it is agitated while pouring and drinking.
More information at the Wisconsin State Journal.

Astronaut demonstrates rotational inertia

"The effect shown in this clip is true for any object that has three different moments of inertia, e.g. as shown here for a prism. If you try to spin the object along two of its axes, it will spin in a smooth stable way, as shown here. In particular, these axes are the ones that have the highest and lowest moment of inertia. On the other hand, if you try to spin it around the axis with the intermediate moment of inertia, things get a bit chaotic. The reason is that any small perturbation (e.g. if you didn't throw it perfectly or if a whiff of wind blows) in the motion will cause the object to try to rotate about another axis of rotation as well. The net result is that you get the tumbling you see in the GIF. This effect is called the intermediate axis theorem, or the tennis racket theorem. In case you are interested in a more technical explanation, I posted a longer write-up here a while back."
More discussion at the Wikipedia entry on the Tennis Racket Theorem and at the Educational GIFs subreddit source.

Relevant re Congress' questioning of Zuckerberg

They may be pelting him with softballs:
Members of the House and Senate committees that will question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about user privacy protection next week are also some of the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from Facebook employees directly and the political action committee funded by employees.

The congressional panel that got the most Facebook contributions is the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which announced Wednesday morning it would question Zuckerberg... Members of the committee, whose jurisdiction gives it regulatory power over Internet companies, received nearly $381,000 in contributions tied to Facebook since 2007, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The center is a non-partisan, non-profit group that compiles and analyzes disclosures made to the Federal Election Commission.

The second-highest total, $369,000, went to members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which announced later that it would have a joint hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee to question Zuckerberg on Tuesday. Judiciary Committee members have received $235,000 in Facebook contributions...

“Powerful interests provide lots of money to the committees that have jurisdiction over them, and they do it to gain influence with those members of Congress,” Wertheimer said. “It’s a fundamental problem that exists throughout the system and throughout the committee structure, and it undermines public confidence that the members are going to make decisions in the best interests of the American people.”

Overall, Facebook has contributed $1.1 million to House members, split almost evenly between the parties...
More at USA Today.  We all know how this bullshit system works.  If candidate A is running against candidate B, instead of giving $20,000 to candidate A, a company gives $10,000 to A and $10,000 to B.  Then, whichever one wins feels beholden to the corporation for its "support," which wasn't in fact support.  It stinks to high heaven.  

"Plus, nearly 30 members of Congress own Facebook stock, according to a story in Roll Call, including two Democratic members of the committee who will question Zuckerberg next week."

09 April 2018

06 April 2018

Looks like phocomelia ("T. rex arms")...

... but it's just an optical illusion.  The mother has normal arms.  Look closely.



Car with dashcam left at the dealership..

There are lots of stories about cars being taken on joy rides by service technicians, but this customer left his dashcam on and was able to document not just the frivolous "test drive" but the failure to provide service.
"Paid Over $700 for transmission service and it wasn’t even done! Car was on the Hoist for 11 minutes! And charges for Over 90 minutes labour!! "

'Qui ouvre une école, ferme une prison.'

The title is a quote from Victor Hugo: "Each time you open a new school, you shut down a prison."

Photo cropped for size and emphasis and brightened from the original here.


Jingtai County, Baiyin City, Gansu Province, China.  This is a section of mountain road leading to the Yellow Stone Forest.
Looks ever-so-much like the garter snakes we used to have in our yard when I was growing up in Minnesota.  They seem to be less common these days.

The photo is from a remarkable gallery posted at The Atlantic of winning entries in the Sony World Photography competition.

Credit © Li Wang, China, Commended, Open, Travel (Open competition), 2018 Sony World Photography Awards.

Cars in the movies

Adult cured of sickle-cell disease by stem cell transplant

The recipient was fortunate to have an HLA-perfect-match donor:
An Edmonton woman who received donor stem cells from her sister during a procedure in Calgary last year has been declared cured of her sickle-cell disease and health officials believe Revée Agyepong is the first adult in Canada to be cured of the disease through this method...

“When Revée approached us, we had coincidentally been thinking about adult stem cell transplant for sickle-cell disease based on the remarkably good outcomes that Alberta Children’s Hospital has been seeing with transplants in the pediatric population,” explained Dr. Daly in a released statement. “She met all the necessary criteria in terms of being able to tolerate a transplant but, most important, she had a sibling who was a 100 per cent match.”

The procedure proved successful but there are concerns as her immune system will remain compromised as a result of the anti-rejection drugs. The side-effects are expected to persist for another year.

On Tuesday, blood tests confirmed the 26-year-old was sickle-cell disease free.

"Over the past few months, what we've seen is that Revée's sister's bone marrow has taken over the production of Revée's red blood cells," said Dr. Daly. "The amount of sickle-cell hemoglobin in her bloodstream has decreased almost to zero."
Anyone who has ever seen a sickler in crisis, with excruciating pain in every bone in their body from no fault of their own, will appreciate what an absolutely awesome event this is.  I have a family member who received stem cells to treat scleroderma, and spoke this week to a woman whose son received intraarticular stem cells to try to reverse degenerative arthritis.  Macular degeneration, ALS, and other "incurable" diseases are being studied.  Amazing.


I lived in Texas for ten years, but never got to the Hill Country region while the bluebonnets were in bloom.  This photo is too highly saturated for my taste, but there can be no doubt about the beauty and impressiveness of the spectacle.   Years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Kew when the bluebells were blooming in profusion, and always loved the woodlands of central Kentucky carpeted with Blue-Eyed-Marys in the spring.


The furthest-from-earth non-supernova star was discovered incidentally because its light emissions were lensed around a cluster of galaxies.
MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star-1, also known as Icarus, is a blue supergiant observed through a gravitational lens and the most distant individual star detected, at 9 billion light-years from Earth... Light from the star was emitted 4.4 billion years after the Big Bang.  According to co-discoverer Patrick Kelly, the star is at least a hundred times more distant than the next-farthest non-supernova star observed, and is the first magnified individual star seen.
More at the link.  I find it curiously difficult to think about this star using verbs in the present tense, since everything we know about it (position, size, wavelengths) describe it nine billion years ago.

Related (with some discussion of gravitational lensing): The first "multiple-image gravitationally-lensed supernova."

Also related: List of star extremes (nearest, oldest, brightest, hottest, least massive, fastest moving...)

03 April 2018

Fishing nets

I didn't know what they were either, until I read a caption.  Still don't know how they work...

Credit Yen Sin Wong/ Travel (Open competition) /2018 Sony World Photography Awards, via.

The first American tea

Excerpts from an article at the always-amazing Atlas Obscura:
Cassina, or black drink, the caffeinated beverage of choice for indigenous North Americans, was brewed from a species of holly native to coastal areas from the Tidewater region of Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was a valuable pre-Columbian commodity and widely traded. Recent analyses of residue left in shell cups from Cahokia, the monumental pre-Columbian city just outside modern-day St. Louis and far outside of cassina’s native range, indicate that it was being drunk there. The Spanish, French, and English all documented American Indians drinking cassina throughout the American South, and some early colonists drank it on a daily basis. They even exported it to Europe...

Upon export to Europe, cassina was marketed in England under the names “Carolina tea” and “South Sea tea,” and in France as “appalachina,” likely a reference to the Appalachee people.This confusing array of names emphasizes the practicality of the Linnaean classification system, which was still in its infancy when Europeans learned of cassina. William Aiton, an eminent British botanist and horticulturist, director of Kew Gardens, and “Gardener to His Majesty,” is credited with giving cassina the scientific name it bears to this day: Ilex vomitoria. Ilex is the genus commonly known as holly. Vomitoria roughly translates to “makes you vomit.”...

In the earliest days of the Southern colonies—when plantations were being carved out of woodland and luxury imports were rare—cassina drinking was widespread from slaves to plantation owners. But as plantations became larger and more profitable, the nouveau riche demonstrated their wealth by drinking expensive imported tea.
For further discussion of the NON-emetic properties of the tea, see Atlas Obscura.


One of these is a Peregrine falcon.  The other is a B-2 bomber.
The peregrine falcon reaches faster speeds than any other animal on the planet when performing the stoop, which involves soaring to a great height and then diving steeply at speeds of over 320 km/h (200 mph), hitting one wing of its prey so as not to harm itself on impact. The air pressure from such a dive could possibly damage a bird's lungs, but small bony tubercles on a falcon's nostrils are theorized to guide the powerful airflow away from the nostrils, enabling the bird to breathe more easily while diving by reducing the change in air pressure. To protect their eyes, the falcons use their nictitating membranes (third eyelids) to spread tears and clear debris from their eyes while maintaining vision. A study testing the flight physics of an "ideal falcon" found a theoretical speed limit at 400 km/h (250 mph) for low-altitude flight and 625 km/h (388 mph) for high-altitude flight. In 2005, Ken Franklin recorded a falcon stooping at a top speed of 389 km/h (242 mph).
Discussion of biomimetics/biomimicry hereVia.

White House intern diversity

Where's Waldo?

Photo credit Shealah Craighead/White House.


Best comment from the discussion thread:
"Alternating between upper and lower case and style...like a good ransom note."

The efficacy of sugar in wound healing

This is not new information, but the BBC has a nice brief review:
As a child growing up in poverty in the rural Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe, Moses Murandu was used to having salt literally rubbed in his wounds when he fell and cut himself. On lucky days, though, his father had enough money to buy something which stung the boy much less than salt: sugar...

To treat a wound with sugar, all you do, Murandu says, is pour the sugar on the wound and apply a bandage on top. The granules soak up any moisture that allows bacteria to thrive. Without the bacteria, the wound heals more quickly...

The sugar Murandu uses is the plain, granulated type you might use to sweeten your tea... he found that it worked for diabetics without sending their glucose levels soaring. “Sugar is sucrose – you need the enzyme sucrase to convert that into glucose,” he says. As sucrase is found within the body, it is only when the sugar is absorbed that it is converted. Applying it to the outside of the wound isn’t going to affect it in the same way...

McMichael, who works at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, first started using both sugar and honey on pets back in 2002. She said it was a combination of the simplicity of the method and the low cost that attracted her – especially for pet owners who couldn’t afford the usual methods of bringing the animal to the hospital and using sedation.

McMichael says that they keep both sugar and honey in their surgery and often used it on dogs and cats (and occasionally on farm animals). Honey has similar healing properties to sugar (one study found it to be even more effective at inhibiting bacterial growth), though it is more expensive...

As well as being cheaper, sugar has another upside: as more and more antibiotics are used, we are becoming resistant to them.
Anyone who doubts that wounds can be difficult to treat has never seen a sacral decubitus ulcer that has burrowed down to the level of the vertebral bodies.  I do hope that more attention is paid to non-antibiotic interventions.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...