I last wrote about Innherred Renovasjon (IR), just after the Utøy Recycling Station opened on 2018-09-18. This station serves all of Inderøy, and is located 7.3 km east-north-east of Cliff Cottage, on Hwy 755, our usual road to Straumen, the municipal centre, 12.3 km away.
This post looks at what happens to the various categories of waste, that is either picked up by truck, or received at a recycling station. It was started on 2018-10-21 at 14:43 to give an overview of regional recycling. For over four years this post has been gestating. This is a polite way of saying that it has been ignored most of this time, apart from short periodic bouts of guilt, encouraging sufficient enthusiasm for me to look at the post, before procrastination, once again, takes the upper hand.
Owned by and operating in nine of Trøndelag County’s 38 municipalities, IR, describes itself as an inter-municipal waste recycling company. As of 2022-01-01, it serves a population of 90 479 people, who occupy an area of 7 580 square kilometers, with 36 212 household subscribers and 12 138 cottage/ leisure subscribers.
There is considerable difference between the quality of service being offered by the various companies providing recycling services in Norway. IR has a good reputation, nationally, despite its relatively small size.
Of IR’s 106 employees, 21 of these work for its subsidiary, Retura IR AS. The managing director and four operations managers are responsible for four departments: Upstream operations (collection); downstream operations (reception and processing); administration; and human resources and communications.
IR is also responsible for emptying sludge (septic tanks) in all member municipalities, apart from Stjørdal. All properties with a toilet connected to a sludge system, must be emptied at regular intervals that depend on the size of the tank. In total, IR clears approx. 30 000 m³ of sludge from 6 000 septic tanks annually.
When Skarnsund bridge was under construction, from 1988 to 1991, temporary housing for bridge builders was provided in pre-fabricated buildings in a field across from Cliff Cottage. The bridge construction company was required to install a sewage system. Sixty local property owners used the opportunity to form Vangbekken kloakklag SA = Vang creek sewage cooperative, to serve local residents and the bridge builders. It was a profitable venture.
In 2022 the residents at Cliff Cottage paid NOK 500 (CAD 70/ USD 50) for sewage. Some years we pay nothing because the cost is covered by a new property owner joining the cooperative. A single connection fee pays all maintenance costs for at least a couple of years.
IR’s core values are to be open, efficient and committed. Their vision is: Itjnå e søppel! = Nothing is garbage, written in the local Trønder dialect, rather than proper Norwegian.
IR’s business concept is to offer residents efficient waste disposal with a high level of service. They use forward-looking technology, expertise and an environmental focus, to solve owner municipalities’ waste treatment, recycling and reuse tasks.
IR has the following performance targets set for 2025.
Customer satisfaction: 80% of citizens should feel like active contributors to the circular economy by supporting IR’s schemes. IR will develop the current level of service with a focus on providing the greatest benefits for the least cost.
80% of the citizens should feel like active contributors to the circular economy by supporting IR’s programs.
Sustainable Environment: 55% material recycling of collected waste; a transition to fossil-free fuel.
IR will utilize technology and infrastructure to reach the future’s material recycling and climate goals.
Employees, owner-operators and others who work for IR: Will have a maximum of 2% short-term absence, and a maximum of 5% long-term absence,
IR must be an attractive workplace with competent and motivated employees who represent the values of the company
Fee development: fee development must be among the 2 best in Central Norway, by offering competitive solutions for household waste and sewage sludge.
Innovation: IR must be an attractive partner for regional and national development in the industry. As an example of this, the company is frequently the first in the country to offer various forms of service.
For example, IR was the first company to supply every household with four wheelie bins: blue lid, green lid, brown lid and green with a smaller orange hatch lid. Blue is for paper; brown is for organic waste, green for residual waste; green with orange is for glass and household metal, e.g. tin cans. Plastic is picked up separately, with large clear plastic bags provided for the purpose. Indoor containers are also provided, a black bucket for collecting organic material, and a blue box for paper. At local food stores households can pick up bags for organic waste as well as for plastic, without charge.
Other solutions involve underground storage of waste. A video shows how this waste is collected.
For us at Cliff Cottage, organic waste is picked up every other week, along with either residual waste or paper. There are other schedules for plastic and metal/ glass waste. There are Android and iPhone apps, and information sources accessible with a web browser, to advise people about their specific collection dates.
People can also deliver waste to a recycling centre, without charge. This is because recycling fees are added on to the purchase price of products to cover their return to a recycling centre. Note: this is not the situation with all recycling centres in Norway.
Residual waste Residual waste is sent to combustion at Heimdal Central Heat, near Trondheim. The energy is used for heating households (district heating) through Statkraft Heating.
Cardboard and paper Cardboard, paper and cardboard are sent together to Retura TRV in Trondheim, which sort out the different types for further recycling. Cardboard is delivered to the Ranheim paper and board factory, and is used as raw material in the production of new cardboard products. Paper is delivered to Norske Skog på Skogn to become newsprint. Beverage carton is sent to Fiskeby Board in Norrköping, Sweden, and is made into pizza and cornflakes packaging.
Food waste Food waste is used as raw material for the production of biogas and fertilizer at Ecopro in Verdal. Biogas is converted into fuel and electricity, while fertilizer is distributed in agriculture. Ecopro is a high-tech biogas plant that processes food waste in an environmentally-friendly and forward-looking method. The plant removes the risk of infection, reduces odor and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel is sold to and distributed via the company Ecogas.
Household cost of IR
To use the recycling stations, and to have garbage collected regularly, a household pays about NOK 4 000 (CAD 550/ USD 410) a year. There are legitimate and acceptable ways to reduce this cost, or to pay more to receive additional services.
Note: This weblog post was updated on 2023-01-01 to make some corrections, mostly spelling, and to eliminate what one reader found to be extraneous content about financing.
The Norwegian renovasjon has nothing to do with renovation, as in refurbishment, but with the collection and processing of waste/ garbage/ trash. It is related to renhold which is a general term for cleaning.
Innherred is a term for the areas around the inner part of the Trondheimsfjord, including the municipalities of Levanger, Frosta, Verdal, Inderøy, and Steinkjer. Steinkjer has its own recycling service. Malvik, Stjørdal, Meråker, Selbu and Tydal are not included in Innherred, geographically.
In my retirement career as a writer of weblog posts, I try to maintain a balance between using words that almost every adult understands and some more unusual, but appropriate, words that can enhance people’s appreciation of a topic. There is no point in using hyfalutin English, if nobody understands what it means.
Rather than choosing just a single new word, I wanted to select groups of relevant words, related in different ways to each other. Many of these words refer to social justice, or at least the social situation society finds itself in towards the end of a pandemic, with a war waging in Ukraine, and with Iranian women (and many others) protesting their denied basic human rights.
Social justice entered the English vocabulary, almost two hundred years ago, in 1824. Its emphasis has evolved. Earlier, it was concerned about social rights and roles. Then came the suffragette movement to extend the vote to women, and many others, emphasizing political rights. Currently, the emphasis is on social mobility and economic justice.
The term acronym was invented in 1943 by Bell Laboratories to refer to new words like RADAR = radio detection and ranging, that had been created from the initials of the words in phrases. Except, some people want to exclude RADAR and SONAR = sound navigation and ranging, because they do not regard them as real acronyms. Both RA- and SO- use two letters to refer to a single word, radio and sound, respectively. FONO has similar challenges.
On my daily to do list, I have managed to write two items: 1) painting (as in artwork), 2) walking. The list is actually titled, fun things to do without a computer, so writing weblog posts is excluded, as is playing a synth – which is nothing more than a computer musical instrument. But it is not the only thing left out. Leaving Cliff Cottage to socialize is just not worth the effort, much/ most of the time. HOGO = “hassle of going out” is used as an acronym, but probably inaccurately. A more honest acronym would be FOGO = “fear of going out.” Perhaps, HOGO is subsumed in FONO = “fear of normal” which has largely replaced FORO = “fear of running out,” common at the beginning of the pandemic, applied to toilet paper and other necessities, real or imagined. This replaced the pre-pandemic FOMO = “fear of missing out.”
There are lots of new terms related to influencers. Quantitatively, one website wants to use the following multipliers: nano influencers with 1K–10K people following; micro influencers with 10K–100K; macro influencers with 100K–1M; and, mega influencers with 1M+ followers. Apart from the last one, these defy convention. Purists believe there should be influencers (i) with 1 – 999 followers, kiloinfluencers (ki) with 1 000 to 999 999 followers, and megainfluences (Mi) with 1 000 000 or more followers. At every level there are also fake influencers, paying for followers and engagement, so they look more influential than they are.
Personally, I don’t even like the term influencer, despite its English origins in the 1660s. I continue to live in hope that others will refer to me as a doyen = a senior member, as in age, rank, or experience, of a group, class, profession, etc., a term with French origins, at almost exactly the same time. I prefer it to the more modern, maven = expert or connoisseur, with Yiddish and Hebrew origins.
A finfluencer is a social media influencer who focuses on financial and other money-related topics. Like other influences, their job is to encourage people to buy particular services.
A silvfluencer is a middle-aged or elderly person who encourages people, typically queenagers, to buy items such as clothing and make-up by recommending them on social media. A queenager is a middle aged or older woman, who leads a busy life, dresses stylishly and enjoys having fun. Sometimes these people are so old they are referred to as coastal grandmothers, who embody the simple, elegant style of rich, older women living by the sea on the east coast of the United States. Many of these are part of the elastic generation, between 50 and 70 who are well off and have a broad range of interests, seen by the advertising industry as consumers who are likely to spend a lot of money.
Planet placement involves conversations/ products/ services related to environmental issues, to raise the audience’s awareness of climate change/ environmental destruction. Presumably, this would include references to probiotic architecture = buildings that can host bacteria that help keep people healthy. If pets are involved, barkitecture may be part of the solution.
Readers are encouraged to start their own influencer careers, that involves only their families and friends. If that seems too massive, start off with just yourself, then gradually scale up to ten followers. A free, hosted weblog is an appropriate place to start. Set an achievable goal, such as an annual posting. Some people may prefer to post photos, or other graphic content, without any words. Others may prefer spoken words (as in podcasts) rather than written words. In the blogosphere there is a place for everyone.
When I first came across sponcon, I thought it referred to spontaneous content, rather than sponsored content. This is equivalent to one of my favourite phrases, native advertising. Wikipedia mentions its origins with Hallmark Hall of Fame, a television series that started in 1951. Native refers to the matching of product form and function with the platform upon which it appears. In other words, the product and content are merged. For example, an advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content, a portmanteau = blend, of the words advertisement and editorial. Product placement = embedded marketing, a precursor to native advertising, places the product itself within the content. Think of a frosted glass of root beer on the tray attached to a woodie station wagon with a surfboard, parked at an A & W drive-in in Everett, Washington.
Companies fail for different reasons, but a lack of focus on the product or service and target customers is a big part of the reason. Burning through cash is another challenge, indicating an inability to plan and prioritize.
Founders and investors should acknowledge the existence of unicorpses = failed billion dollar startups, and spend less time and energy fantasizing about unicorns. What the world needs now are businesses that are sustainable.
According to a weblog post by Chris Joyce, a J-Score, with its 10 criteria, each subjectively rated from 0 to 10 points, can be used to distinguish unicorpses from unicorns. Unicorns earn 95 points or more.
These are, in summary: 1) There must be multiple barriers to entry other than money and marketing. 2) The product must be differentiated in several ways. 3) The product must not be a copy or newer version of an existing product. 4) The product must offer some form of controversy. 5) In order to be successful in a mature industry, a product must be fundamentally different from that offered by existing companies. 6) The product must not be a commodity, a standardized, universally distributed type of product. 7) The product must actually work/ function. It cannot just be a proof of concept/ prototype/ minimum viable product (MVP). 8) The product must not be ahead of its time. 9) The product must be salable. 10) The product must provide extreme value to purchasers.
April: Exhausted majority
More in Common, is an organization that comments on American society. They have concluded that as many as three quarters of Americans are exhausted from the tribal actions of political leaders and the media, and – especially – from having to navigate the ever-changing landscape of political correctness. This majority of Americans are the Exhausted Majority!
Today’s battleground for the exhausted majority is the office. After two years of thriving without it, and even increasing productivity, workers feel no need to return. In fact, if they do show up, it is likely to be a lonely place. The challenge facing businesses is demographic. There are fewer children being born to replace retiring workers. People in many countries express their opposition to immigration, not willing to admit that if fertility rates fall below 2.1, as they have in most developed countries, immigration is regarded as the only alternative to maintaining a workforce. A few countries, allergic to immigration, wish that robots could be a viable approach.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) provides the following fertility rates for 2022. Niger is at the top with 6.7 births per woman. Iran has about 1.7 according to PRB, but other sources state 2.1, almost exactly the same as the replacement rate. In Europe, Italy is one of several countries that has a fertility rate of about 1.3. Other sources state that the average age for first-time mothers in Italy is 31 years old, the highest in Europe. In Norway, PRB says the fertility rate is 1.6, but other sources indicate that it is back up to just under 1.8 after falling to under 1.5 in 2019. Other PRB figures: India = 2.1; USA = 1.7; Russia = 1.5; Canada = 1.4; China = 1.2; Ukraine = 1.0. South Korea, Macau and Hong Kong have the lowest fertility rates in the world, at 0.8 births per woman.
In an attempt to find other phrases containing majority, I came across the blind majority who, apparently, drink the kool-Aid. This usually refers to a person who believes in a dangerous idea because of perceived potential high rewards. The phrase originates with Tom Wolfe’s (1930-2018) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), about Ken Kesey (1935 – 2001) and his band, the Merry Pranksters, in 1964. The term also references the 1978 revolutionary suicide of 900 members of the People’s Temple, in Jonestown, Guyana, drinking Flavor-Aid mixed with cyanide. Yet, whenever I hear the phrase, the blind majority, I start reflecting on wilful blindness, as described by Margaret Heffernan (1955 – ), in her book Wilful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril (2011), and more generally a legal term about a situation in which a person seeks to avoid civil/ criminal liability by intentionally keeping themselves unaware of facts.
Other phrases include the non-majority, the minority, who are bucking a trend; those who are following the crowd, conforming to majority beliefs, opinions or practices; and crowd-pleasers, saying something the majority wants to hear.
May: Ruscism & more
At one level Ruscism/ Rusism/ Russism can be regarded as a form of ethnic discrimination applied to Russians, and people of Russian ancestry, especially since the start of Putin’s special military operation on 2022-02-24, that everyone else refers to as a war. Like all forms of ethnic, religious and cultural discrimination, it is not something to be condoned.
Since this Russian invasion of Ukraine has had so many implications, some related variations will be examined.
Russism (русизм) was popularized, described and extensively used in 1995 by President of the unrecognised Chechen state, Ichkeria, by Dzhokhar Dudayev (1944 – 1996), who saw the military action by Russia in Chechnya as a manifestation of the rising far-right ideology. He described it as: “a variety of hatred ideology which is based on Great Russian chauvinism, spiritlessness and immorality. It differs from other forms of fascism, racism, and nationalism by a more extreme cruelty, both to man and to nature. It is based on the destruction of everything and everyone, the tactics of scorched earth. Ruscism is a schizophrenic variety of the world domination complex. This is a distinct version of slave psychology, it grows like a parasite on the fabricated history, occupied territories and oppressed peoples.”
The variant рашизм = rashism/ rashyzm, has its origins in the 2008 Russian-Georgian war. It became popular in Ukraine after the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. It refers to Russian fascism generally, and is often used specifically to refer to Russian military forces occupying parts of sovereign Ukraine. In both Ukrainian and Russian it is written the same way, but romanized as rashism in Russian, and rashyzm in Ukrainian.
On 2022-04-23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated: “This country will have a word in our history textbooks that no one has invented, which everyone is repeating in Ukraine and in Europe – ‘Ruscism’. It’s not just random that everyone is saying that this is Ruscism. The word is new, but the actions are the same as they were 80 years ago in Europe. Because for all of these 80 years, if you analyse our continent, there has been no barbarism like this. So Ruscism is a concept that will go into the history books, it will be in Wikipedia, it will be [studied] in classes. And small children around the world will stand up and answer their teachers when they ask when Ruscism began, in what land, and who won the fight for freedom against this terrible concept.”
A leat is an artificial watercourse dug into the ground, especially to supply water to a watermill or its mill pond. Paul and Rebecca Whitewick used the term in a video describing the Hereford and Gloucester abandoned canal tunnels.
This prompted me to reflect on the use of other archaic water terms, where the acre-foot is the most problematic. An acre is traditionally defined as the area of one chain by one furlong = 10 square chains = 22 x 220 yards =4 840 square yards = 66 x 660 feet = 43 560 square feet. By international agreement an acre is exactly 4 046.856 422 4 m2. When a surface area of one acre is covered by one foot of water, the result is 1 613.333 cubic yards = 43 560 cubic feet = 325 851 American gallons = 1 233.48 m3. This forms a cube approximately 35 feet 2 inches = 10.72 m in all three directions, to the closest inch or cm, respectively.
Note #1: Videos about canals, trains and buses are entertaining! One of videos we watch repeatedly is All Aboard! The Country Bus which is a two-hour journey through the Swaledale valley in North Yorkshire, first shown in 2016.
Note #2: Thankfully, the length of a chain has been standardized at 66 feet. Before 1834, a Scots chain was about 74 feet and an Irish chain 84 feet, adding even more confusion.
Note #3: When we have to translate acres into something understandable, we use these approximate values. For larger areas: 1 km2 = 250 acres, while 1 000 acres = 4 km2; For smaller areas: 1 000 m2 = 0.25 acres, while 1 acre = 4 000 m2.
There is an group of emerging nations, known as the BRICS, from the names of member nations. In alphabetic order these are: Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa. Except, now they appear to have admitted two new members, Argentina and Iran. To help these nations find a collective name for themselves, I have used an anagram solver. The one name that attracted my attention was cibarsi, an Italian word meaning to feed on, or to eat. Since Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria and Türkiye have also expressed an interest in joining, I am encouraging everyone to find an inclusive name or phrase for this extended group.
A totally unrelated group of states is DACH, majority German-speaking states of Central Europe (except Liechtenstein). From Deutschland in German for Germany, Austria in Latin for Austria and Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin for Switzerland. Dach means roof in German. The term DACH+ is sometimes used to include Liechtenstein. DACHS = badger in German, includes German-speaking South Tyrol in Italy.
Since American families typically have long and convoluted histories of immigration, one creative activity is to invent an inclusive name that includes much of that geography as possible. Here is the anagram solver that could be helpful.
Prindel, possibly spelt prndl, is the mechanism on a car, used to select: park-reverse-neutral-drive-low. Before, people called them a gear selector or, possibly incorrectly, gear lever. This appeared on an episode of Munro Live, with Carl Crittenden talking about the Nimbus One electric vehicle (EV), a tadpole = reverse trike = three-wheeled vehicle with two wheels up front and one in the back. The prototype was being tested at Kettering University, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2021-03-01 Nimbus stated the price of a Nimbus Halo would be US$ 6 420, with deliveries expected worldwide in mid to late 2022. By 2022-09-01, the name had been changed to Nimbus One, the price to US$ 9 980, and the delivery date to late 2024.
On 2022-08-17, Stellantis presented an Dodge Charger Daytona SRT electric concept vehicle, expected to enter production in 2024, and displacing the current ICE versions. While Stellantis stated that the reason for this vehicle is performance (read: burning rubber), another motivation is saving US$ 609 million in civil penalties for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) fines arising from missed emission targets.
The Charger EV is probably the antithesis of other EVs in other ways, especially because of three features:
R-Wing: intended to increase aerodynamic efficiency while maintaining the Charger’s characteristic bulky front-end.
eRupt transmission: a multi-speed electro-mechanical transmission with distinct shift-points (jerks), rather than a smooth transitions from one gear to the next.
Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust: a fake exhaust note made so that the EV sounds just like an ICE vehicle. While this may appeal to muscle car enthusiasts, it will offend everyone else.
Fratzog is a Dodge term and logo that was used between 1962 and 1976 (some say 1981), especially on high-performance Dodge models. The logo contains a fractured deltoid composed of three arrowhead shapes that form a three-pointed star. Elwood Engel (1917 – 1986) was Chrysler’s chief designer, but for me it is unknown who came up with the meaningless Fratzog name for the logo, when pressed. It stuck, and was incorporated into assorted badges/emblems and integrated into the design of such parts as steering wheel center hubs and road wheel covers.
Prior to this, Chrysler’s chief designer, Virgil Exner (1909 – 1973), had introduced a radical Forward Look redesign of Chrysler’s vehicles that was the design language for the 1955 – 1962 model years, that featured a Flookerang logo, with two overlapped boomerang shapes, representing space-age rocket-propelled motion.
A fictosexual is a human being sexually attracted to a fictional character. I am not a member of this clan, especially if I restrict myself to fictional book characters. In Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons universe, there are, admittedly, three potential objects of attraction: Susan Walker, Ruth (Nancy) Blackett and Margaret (Peggy) Blackett. Television opens up some greater possibilities with The Avengers, whose characters include Cathy Gale, portrayed by Honor Blackman (1925 – 2020), Emma Peel, portrayed by Diana Rigg (1938 – 2020), and Tara King, portrayed by Linda Thorson (1947 – ), a Canadian. So that I do not completely offend American male readers, I will also mention Honey West, with the title character portrayed by Anne Francis (1930 – 2011).
I searched fictional male character women find most attractive, in order to find a suitable result for women readers. The first result was disappointing. If I selected a random romantic novel depicting the Regency period, Duke would probably emerge. The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains is about an unnamed ranch hand, working at the Sunk Creek Ranch, located outside of Medicine Bow, Wyoming. The novel was written by Owen Wister (1860-1938) in 1902, but set in the 1880s. For those who prefer a more graphic approach, Classics Illustrated #150 is available. Numerous film and television versions, have been made.
We learn that the word is lox, which is probably Proto-Indo-European, was pronounced the same then as it is now in modern English. Then, it meant salmon, and now it specifically means smoked salmon. With the exception of delicatessen owners, and their patrons, I am not sure how much the term is actually used in English. It probably entered English through Yiddish, a West Germanic language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. However, variations of lox = salmon, abound. The Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in German is Lachse; in Icelandic and Swedish it is lax; in Danish and Norwegian it is laks. In Finnish, it is Lohi. In many slavic languages it is losos. Further west and south there are salmo variations, such as the English salmon, the Dutch zalm, the French saumon, the Spanish salmón, the Portuguese salmão, and even salmo, in Esperanto. The Interlingua-English dictionary, confirms that salmon in Interlingua refers to the English noun salmon: 1. Salmo salar, the fish salmon; as well as 2. the color salmon. This is to be expected in a constructed language based on Romance languages.
Uptober is another word found the same day. This apparently refers to the month where bitcoin is going to turn around and increase in value. In 2013-10, one bitcoin was worth about US$ 192. This rose to a peak of over US$ 65 000 in 2021-11. Since then it has generally fallen in value. On 2022-11-10, the price was US$ 15 742.44.
Other -tober references encountered during the month include: inktober, for people interested in pen and ink drawings. On Halloween, cobwebs and dust loose their status as dirt, and become decorations. Then, as midnight approaches, it is Oct-over.
Watching a BBC video, The Surprising Story of Kid’s TV, the surprising part of it was that children’s television included hosts who were a little different. It might be a northern English dialect, an origin in the Caribbean, Down syndrome, the absence of an arm or (for teen programs) a non-binary sexual orientation. Sometimes, it might even involve children. At the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the BBC showed Belfast children laughing and having fun, and children from dysfunctional families. The surprise I wanted to investigate more, related to deafness, and the use of signing.
With the internet, one is always being led on to the next exciting topic.
First there was Deaf View/Image Art (De’VIA), visual art that represents the Deaf experience and Deaf culture. The term was first defined and recognized as an art genre in 1989. The De’VIA manifesto outlines criteria for De’VIA works: representative of Deaf experiences; use of specific artistic strategies such as color contrast and centralized focus; visual fine arts and alternative media; not exclusive to Deaf artists and not inclusive of all Deaf artists.
This led to: Arnaud Balard (1971 – ), who was born deaf, but who became increasingly blind. He is best known for his Surdism manifesto. Surdism as an artistic, philosophical and cultural movement offers an affirmation of Deaf culture. Surd (English) = sourd (French), which remains the principal word for deaf. In appeared in French as a noun from 1540s. It arrived in English about the same time, 1545–55. It is derived from the Latin surdus = muted, deaf.
Balard also created the Sign Union flag. Wikipedia tells us: After studying flags around the world and vexillology principles for two years, Balard revealed the design of the flag, featuring the stylized outline of a hand. The three colors which make up the flag design are representative of Deafhood and humanity (dark blue), sign language (turquoise), and enlightenment and hope (yellow). Balard intended the flag to be an international symbol which welcomes deaf people.
Note: Here at Cliff Cottage, hearing can be a challenge. Trish has used hearing aids since her early forties, while I have had tinnitus since my early fifties.
A hogamadog is a snowball used to start a snowman – by rolling it through a snowfield, so it gradually becomes increasingly bigger. More generally, it is something that increases in size as it spirals outwards from a central core. According to Paul Anthony Jones, who found it in the English Dialect Dictionary, as a word that began life as a local name for the shell of a snail.
Other dialect words mentioned in the article are: adullamite = someone dissatisfied with the current political outlook; barleyhood (Tudor) = crapulence (defined by Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) as sickness by intemperance) = hangover; boun = to decorate a home with evergreen branches; bull week = the week leading up to Christmas Day, when workers had to tie up all their loose ends ahead of the holidays; flapdoodler = a dissembling political speaker, in 19th-century slang; fyole = a dusting of snow; grantism = political cronyism and nepotism, after President Ulysses S. Grant (1822 – 1885) awarded more than 30 of his friends and relatives high-profile positions in the early 1870s; kirsmas-glass = a toast to a house given at Christmas; present-silver = money given in place of a gift, used since the 1300s; propine = pourboire (originally French) = Trinkgeld (originally German) = money to be spent on drink; roorback = a rumour circulated for political gain; sonrock = a cosy fireside chair; toe-cover = an inexpensive but pointless gift; whullup = a gift given to curry favour; yuleshard (a corruption of yule’s jade) = a festive fool, someone who leaves work unfinished on Christmas Eve.
Special mention: -flation
Throughout 2022, there have been many new -flation terms circulating, especially with the onset of supply-side inflation, since the pandemic. From the 1960s, until now, most inflation has been demand-side, where consumers have too much money to spend, and the price of products and services increases. The common cure is to increase interest rates, so that people are discouraged from borrowing, and encouraged to save. Supply-side inflation is due to production issues. Increasing interest rates does not alleviate the problem. Both price controls and rationing have been used to restore order.
Greedflation uses inflation as an excuse to increase prices more than necessary in order to make as much money as possible. Greenflation results in a similar price increase, but it is caused by moving to more environmentally friendly options. Ripflation arises when companies use inflation as an excuse to increase their prices more than necessary in a way that rips off (= cheats) their customers. Skimpflation involves a situation where the price of a product or service stays the same but the quality becomes worse. Cash stuffing = saving cash in a different envelope for each type of purchase, is a financial strategy that involves saving cash instead of investing it, in order to beat inflation. Cash? The only cash I have is one (1) 10-krone coin, shared with Patricia and kept in our car, used to release a shopping cart, and to ensure that the cart is returned to a designated collection point before leaving the shopping centre.
A Norwegian language article on the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation website about the price of eggs, provides some numbers for discussion. In 2022-06, 18 Eldorado brand eggs cost NOK 32.90. On 2022-07-01, the price of eggs was increased to NOK 37.40. In 2022-09 the price increased yet again to NOK 37.90. But, at the same time, the number of eggs was reduced from 18 to 12. The price per egg had increased from NOK 1.82 to NOK 3.16, a price increase of 74%. This was termed krympflasjon = crimpflation = shrinkflation. In marketing, this psychological trick is referred to as barely noticeable differences. Marketers hope that customers won’t notice the difference.
On 2022-12-14, at 06:36 the Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) announced that krympflasjon is the Word of the Year 2022. Council director Åse Wetås said: [It] summarizes 2022 in an striking way. There are many who experience difficult times because of the price trend we has seen so far.
Word to avoid in 2022 (and beyond): Metaverse
Metaverse is a word that has been nipping at my heels the entire year. It was actually the word of the month for January, until it was replaced. It also resulted in an emphasis on social justice.
Metaverses are found in two flavours. 1. In the beginning there was a science fiction concept, of a shared, realistic, and immersive computer simulation of the real world or other possible worlds, in which people participate as digital avatars. 2. This diverged into a networked online space inhabited by people in digital environments who interact and experience a shared virtual space with virtual reality, augmented reality, game consoles, mobile devices and/ or conventional computers.
In 2022-04, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel (1990 – ) told the Guardian that Snap avoids using the term because it’s pretty ambiguous and hypothetical.
This was followed in 2022-05, with Amazon senior vice president, devices & services, David Limp stating if he asked a few hundred people what they thought the metaverse was, he’d get 205 different answers with no common definition.
By 2022-07, Mark Zuckerberg (1984 – ) had commented that he believes Apple and Meta are in a very deep, philosophical competition to build the metaverse: “This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that they build a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”
Then in 2022-10, Tim Cook (1960 – ) responded: “I always think it’s important that people understand what something is…. I’m really not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is.”
Looking at other social media products, in the week after Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, on 2022-10-27, there have been several controversial developments at Twitter: Senior management are fleeing; ordinary workers have been threatened with mass firing; hate content has multiplied; advertisers are pausing their spending; veryifying an account will cost a monthly fee. In response, users are terminating accounts.
Colin Harrison, emeritus professor of literacy studies, University of Nottingham, writes in a letter: I’ve spent much of the last 10 years researching how best to educate young people into becoming safe, confident internet users, but this becomes more difficult every day. Academics and teachers need to let Musk know that his thoughtless and dangerous behaviour does not broaden democracy. Instead, it supports the view, already held by tens of millions of Americans, that if you don’t like the world that democracy has given you, you simply use money and violence (amplified by social media) to eliminate it.
On 2022-11-02, Tik-Tok admitted that: [W]e allow certain employees within our corporate group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, remote access to TikTok European user data.
Oxford Languages has awarded goblin mode their 2022 Word of the Year, best reflected the ethos and mood of the past 12 months. The slang term is defined as a: type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations. The term first appeared on Twitter in 2009, and went viral in 2022. Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Languages, stated: It captured the prevailing mood of individuals who rejected the idea of returning to ‘normal life’, or rebelled against the increasingly unattainable aesthetic standards and unsustainable lifestyles exhibited on social media. People are embracing their inner goblin.
While Word of the Year is typically based on analyzing language data on the popularity of emerging words, in 2022 Oxford Languages held a public vote with over 300 000 people participating. About 93% favored goblin mode, against metaverse and #IStandWith.
There will be no discussion of gaslighting, Merriam-Webster’s word of the year, 2022. Instead, people will be advised to investigate this and other such words in an appropriate Wikipedia article.
Other word of the month contenders, that didn’t make the grade in 2022 include: Clerihew = 4 line poem; Psychotronic = paranormal.
Word of the Year: Necessory
Necessory is a noun that combines necessity with accessory. It is not to be confused with the adjective, necessary. A necessory is an appurtenance that one can not live without. Personally, I regard a Pilot V-ball 0.5 mm pen with blue ink, a necessory when awake and dressed; a 5 meter tape measure, with millimeter markings is a necessory in the workshop; a hand-held device aka a cell phone or mobile phone, is a necessory most 21st century people cannot leave home without. I would like to thank my dear wife, Trish, for inventing this word.
For those who avoid using appurtenance on a daily basis, it is often defined as something associated with another, more important thing. In other words, it is an accessory. The plural, appurtenances, refers to equipment: clothing/ tools/ instruments, used for a specific purpose. In other words, gear.
In 2022 social justice has involved opposition to a war in Ukraine. Thus, many military terms have entered people’s vocabularies since 2022-02-24, when the world was forced by Russian attrocities to remember the words of Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831), [Vom Krieg (1832)] On War (1984): War is a mere continuation of policy with other means (Chapter 1, title of section 24).
Ukrainian geography is better understood. Increasingly, some people can even place the Donbas = Donets basin, on a map, along with Mariupol, the Sea of Azov, and the Carpathian mountains. Odes(s)a has been Vancouver’s sister city since 1944. Crimea is no longer just known for its 1853 – 1856 war. Kyiv has effectively replaced Kiev as the spelling of Ukraine’s capital. KyivNotKiev is StratCom Ukraine =the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) online campaign for strategic communications, that started 2018-10-02 had a goal to persuade English-language media to use Kyiv (Ukrainian Київ) instead of Kiev (Russian Киев).
In Snidanok. Online, Oleksandr Avramenko (1971 – ) encourages writing russia in all lower-case letters, and states this is a Ukrainian language rule since Soviet times, but not codified in the current Ukrainian orthography, allowing/ encouraging the names of disparaged people, such as hitler (1889 – 1945) or putin (1952 – ) to be written this way.
The expression I appreciate best is Затридні = Inthreedays = In three days, which refers to Russian statements that it would take Kyiv in three days, at the beginning of its special military operation, a euphemism for war. It now describes any strongly believed, but unrealistic plan. Завести трактор = Start the tractor, refers to: the use of unusual methods / tools, specifically tractors to drag abandoned tanks.
At the beginning of the war there was Saint Javelin, a mime created by Toronto broadcaster Christian Borys (1986 – ), which has now raised over US$ 1 million in funding for children in Ukraine. Soon javelin, stinger, NLAW = next generation light anti-tank weapon, manpad = man-portable air defense system, referring to guided surface-to-air missiles, were part of a common vocabulary. APC referred to an armoured personnel carrier. Similarly, T-64, T-72, T-80 and T-90 were commonly understood to refer to Russian designed battle tanks. Then there is the high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) and the Patriot surface-to-air missile system.
The term drone was used as early as World War I to refer to towed aircraft used in target practice. One of the first descriptions of a drone as an unmanned aerial vehicle, appeared in a Popular Mechanics article in 1940-12. Lee de Forest (1873 – 1961) and U. A. Sandabria (1906 – 1969) were described as working on a robot television bomber, effectively a drone. Today, people are more specific, distinguishing a Shahed-136 kamikaze unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from a Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).
Some military terms are more psychological than others. There are six situational awareness centres in Ukraine. Ukrainian infowarriors = programmers, at these centres are responsible for Delta = a dynamic battlefield map/ software package showing battlefield positions/ movements. Its purpose is to predict enemy moves so they can be struck faster and more accurately.
These centres have an informal feel, They use Agile techniques = short cycle creation: code, test, launch, repeat. Ukraine has a younger, less hierarchical political culture, where there are more and better horizontal links between units, military and civilian. There is an absence of military uniforms, and the presence of a drone workshop with engineers perfecting a light activated bomb release mechanism on an off-the-shelf quadcopter, fitted with 3D printed parts. Aеророзвідка (aerorozvidka) = aerial reconnaissance, involves drone operators and programmers. One cannot function, without the other.
Then there is the open source intelligence (Osint) department, where date and location data is extracted from social media posts written by Russian recruits, along with satellite imagery supplied by Nato partners, drone footage, photos and information supplied by informers behind Russian lines. These are all fed into the Delta battlefield map, which is accessible to military users through Starlink satellite communications. Delta’s integration of battlefield information is an essential part of a competition Ukraine has to win to survive, with computers as weapons, and data as bullets.
To gain a better understanding of war, I watch a weekly video made by Perun, an Australian military-industry analyst. To gain a better understanding of the Ukrainian language, I study Ukrainian with Duolingo four days a week (M-Tu-Th-F), the other three days are devoted to Dutch (Sa-Su-W).
The war has also influenced our purchasing behaviour. Whereas before, Russian radios and Chinese cars might have been considered for purchase, both amateur radio operators in our family have acquired American made radios, and our upcoming electric car originates in Europe. Acquiring products has become more difficult, because globalization with outsourcing and just-in-time inventory policies are not working for the benefit of ordinary people.
Soon, it will be 2023, and the focus of words for the year will change from social justice to environmental justice.
When this post was first envisioned, when writing Made Without Repression, in 2019, I was mainly concerned about developments in Hong Kong. Since then, the situation in other countries has revealed a greater need for insights into the challenge of censorship. It is easier to prepare for censorship before it happens, than after. That said, it is probably time for everyone, everywhere to prepare themselves for internet censorship.
Various organizations, with assorted mandates and disparate reasons, make lists of countries engaging in internet censorship and surveillance. Some of the counties currently on their Countries under surveillance list by Reporters sans frontières, (RSF) = Reporters without borders, include: Australia, France, South Korea, and Norway – the last one with a proviso that states that this only applies to metadata on traffic that crosses the Norwegian border. A more serious RFS list, introduced in 2006 and last updated in 2014, Enemies of the internet, is more important because: all of these countries mark themselves out not just for their capacity to censor news and information online but also for their almost systematic repression of Internet users. Of the twenty countries on this list at its 2014 update are: China, India, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States.
On 2013-12-13, RSF published a Special report on Internet Surveillance, with two new lists: 1) State Enemies of the Internet, countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights = Bahrain, China, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam. 2) Corporate Enemies of the Internet, companies that sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information = Amesys (France), Blue Coat Systems (U.S.), Gamma (UK and Germany), Hacking Team (Italy), and Trovicor (Germany).
Of course, not all people, organizations or companies exhorting free speech are sincere. Recently, the current CEO of Twitter has been encouraging free speech, at least for himself and a former president of the United States, but not necessarily for anyone else, especially those who express opposing views.
Thus, everyone should be preparing their own plan for managing an internet censorship situation. In addition, they may want to consider how they can help others already caught in one, such as people living in countries listed on the Enemies of the Internet, list.
There are many approaches to dealing with internet censorship, but an easy one is to become acquainted with Psiphon, an open-source Internet censorship circumvention tool, originally developed by the Citizen Lab in 2006.
The Citizen Lab, was founded in 2001, at the University of Toronto, Canada. It studies information controls that impact internet openness and security that threaten human rights. Computer-generated interrogation, data mining and analysis are combined with intensive field research, qualitative social science, and legal and policy analysis methods.
In 2007, Psiphon, Inc. was established as a Canadian corporation independent of the Citizen Lab and the University of Toronto. It uses a social network of trust model, to provide tools that offer internet access to people who live in censored countries. Psiphonode is server software that is easy to install, while psiphonite is client software, that is even easier. These products give ordinary people the opportunity to circumvent internet controls. The key is that the people involved have to trust each other.
Psiphon is currently engaged in developing/ maintaining two related projects: A cloud-based run-time tunneling system, and a cloud-based secure proxy system. Their original home-based server software is no longer supported. This software has been in development since 2006, initally with psiphonites from all over the world, including central Asia and the Middle East, accessing a test psiphonode server.
While the risk to psiphon users is never zero, if appropriate measures are taken, it is much safer than using any other method to visit a censored site. A psiphonite must connect to a unique, and traceable, IP address. Psiphon has been built to run as a private network connecting to home computers, where the connection information is never publicly disclosed. Encrypted psiphon messages are buried inside other commercial traffic.
The software uses a combination of secure communication and obfuscation technologies, including virtual private networks (VPN), secure shell protocol (SSH) = cryptographic network protocol for operating network services securely over an unsecured network. and a web proxy = an intermediary between a client requesting a service, and a server providing it. It is designed to protect the client, Psiphon is both centrally managed yet geographically diverse. It is a network of thousands of proxy servers, using a performance-oriented, single- and multi-hop routing architecture.
With Psiphon effectively out-sourced, the Citizen Lab has been able to concentrate on investigating situations where internet openness and security are restricted, and human rights are threatened. Notable reports include:
Tracking GhostNet (2009) documented a cyber espionage network of over 1 295 infected hosts in 103 countries between 2007 and 2009, with many high-value targets, including ministries of foreign affairs/ embassies/ international organizations/ news media/ NGOs.
Shadows in the Cloud (2010), documented an ecosystem of cyber espionage that compromised computer network systems for government/ business/ academia at the United Nations, as well as in India and other countries.
Million Dollar Dissident (2016), documented the tracking of Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights defender in the United Arab Emirates, with Pegasus software, developed by Israeli NSO Group.
My views are influenced by La Crise d’Octobre (1970-10-05 – 1970-12-28) that started when members of the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) kidnapped the Quebec Labour Minister Pierre Laporte and British diplomat James Cross. Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau then invoked the War Measures Act for the first time in Canadian history during peacetime. This limited civil liberties and granted the police far-reaching powers. There were 3 000 searches, and 497 arrests. Everyone arrested was denied due process. Habeascorpus = an individual’s right to have a judge confirm that they have been lawfully detained, was suspended. The Government of Quebec also requested military aid to support the civil authorities, with Canadian Forces being deployed throughout Quebec. Canadian historian Desmond Morton (1937 – 2019) later wrote: “It was unprecedented. On the basis of facts then and revealed later, it was unjustified. It was also a brilliant success. Shock was the best safeguard against bloodshed.”
In the United States, four coordinated suicide terroristattacks carried out by 19 al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, 2001-09-11. The attacks killed nearly 3 000 people and instigated the Global War on Terrorism. Criticism of this war has focused on its morality, efficiency and cost. A 2021 Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs study concluded that the several post-9/11 wars have displaced at least 38 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. It estimated these wars caused about 900 000 deaths and cost $8 trillion. Despite the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law prohibiting the use of torture, this became common practice.
More recently, on 2020-01-06, following Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, a mob of his supporters attacked the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., seeking to keep Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from counting the electoral college votes to formalize the victory of Joe Biden. This was the seventh and last part of a plan by Trump to overturn the election.
These events show that democracy is not guaranteed anywhere, and that people have to be vigilant.
A Plan to prevent Internet Censorship
One of the first tasks a person can engage in, is to visit the Psiphon website. It claims that: Where other VPNs can not connect, Psiphon will find a way. These connections are free, built on leading edge, research driven security and network technologies. These services are designed to keep people connected. They provide everything from social media, to games, to voice over internet protocol (VOIP) = a telephone service based on the internet, Psiphon is designed to help people access online content and services they appreciate, even if they are blocked by the authorities.
Once these internet connections are in place, it is much easier to provide content to people. My intention is that in 2023, I will set up a website, possibly mist.mclellan.no, but more likely an equivalent website with a more neutral name, that will be able to house courses/ lectures/ labs on technical subjects that will be freely available to people anywhere in the world. I specifically think about political hotspots of the world, currently: Hong Kong, Iran, Ukraine. It is not something I can do alone, since I have no knowledge of Cantonese or Farsi. My knowledge of Ukrainian is so elementary that it is of no practical use. Thus, I hope content can be translated by others, potentially learners who have a good understanding of English.
It would be interesting to know what other people feel they can contribute. They can send me an email at first name @ last name.no, where the first and last names are found as the name of this weblog.
At some point in their lives, many people admit to being collectors. They use this term because it is neutral: less pious than saver, which would suggest an ethical motivation; less compulsive than hoarder, which would admit to an addiction.
The pronunciation of these terms provides insights into the mind set of listeners. Sometimes, I deliberately mispronounce saver as savior. No one has ever misunderstood or commented on this mispronunciation. I do this when I am trying to represent saving as a religious mission, perhaps even regarding collected stuff as an environmentally sustainable alternative to buying new things. One can also feel the greater intensity of negative impressions, when the term hoarder is pronounced almost normally, but with increased emphasis on the first syllable.
In this weblog post, there will be no attempt to prevent anyone from living in their own fantasy world. The actual thing collected/ saved/ hoarded varies. The economic elite might engage in ostentatiously collecting Renaissance art or incunabula = books printed before 1501. Members of a middle-class might collect hard-covered books, stamps or coins. Sports enthusiasts might collect baseball cards. My mother collected representations of birds, one from each of her trips.
In the 1960s, pennants were popular with children, and we at Cliff Cottage still have remnants of a pennant collection. Many of these were subsequently displayed on bedroom walls. The attached photo of a pennant of Hope, is for a location that represents a boundary, separating polite, sustainable, environmentally conscious Cascadia from the wild, ruinous, environmentally indifferent interior of British Columbia. Hope is on the banks of the Fraser River, about 110 km eastwards/ upstream from New Westminster, and 70 km southwards/ downstream of Hell’s Gate. While five species of Pacific salmon can be found there, with one depicted on the pennant, I am more interested in the declining number of White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), found south of Hell’s Gate. Sometimes I try to impress some people by mentioning that the area was used as the location for the film Rambo – First Blood (1982). Others are more impressed when I mention that the Othello tunnels, part of Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, take their names from the works of Shakespeare.
Some insights into collecting will be offered by looking at how others approach the acquisition of things. As this paragraph is being written, our teletype replacement reports that over half of newly baked Norwegian fathers have bought something used on Finn, the Norwegian equivalent of Craigslist. This is a change of attitude. In contrast after 42 years in Norway, we have bought our first new sofas. Previously, we have only had used sofas. Before that, it was covered mattresses on the floor.
Unfortunately, the art of buying used equipment online requires diligence. On one occasion, I bough a computer with a hard drive that contradicted the product description. Since I intended to upgrade it anyway, I ignored it. On a second occasion, stage clips were missing from a stereo microscope, both in the product description provided by the seller, as well as in the sending, but not in the photo used as part of the product description.
A large number of former male colleagues acquire vehicles with personality, when their economy allows it. The vehicles vary. I know some who have bought: (former) military trucks/ motorcycles/ muscle cars/ sports cars/ vans.
One colleague specialized in buying Land Rovers. He confided that he told his wife that he owned eight, because that was the number of vehicles that were registered. I believe the real number was fourteen. Some of these may have just been kept for their parts. Soon the number was reduced to thirteen as he gave one to his daughter, at the time one of my students. I suspect this was in order to buy her silence about the real number of vehicles involved. She admitted to me that she had obtained the very best of the vehicles in his collection.
I had noted that a disproportionate number of male workers in what can be regarded as female-dominated professions, such as teaching and nursing, own uber-masculine vehicles, such as large trucks and muscle cars.
To test this hypothesis, I have watched documentary/ reality programs to see if these stereotypes are common. Not only are the results inconclusive, they seem to point to the opposite conclusion, at least in three series involving vehicle collectors.
Marshal Chapman, was a professor of geology who lived on Isle au Haut, population 70, in Maine, when he appeared in the fifth episode of the documentary, The US East Coast (2014), starting at 33:08. He has a relaxed and modest approach to collecting his two functioning older vehicles, a 1924 Ford Model T coupe, and a 1930 (?) Ford Model A flatbed truck. Among the characteristics he appreciates about his Model A is its high ground clearance and low top speed (33 mph = ca. 50 km/h) allowing him to see more of the landscape as he drives through it. He claims he has no problems obtaining spare parts, with old restorers dying off, and their widows wanting these obsolete vehicles out of their lives. He also claims that once there is one vintage car in a barn, it starts to reproduce so one ends up with four or five vehicles. He is unsure how this happens, just that it does. He also allows his vehicles to take a day off, if they need it, accepting that old cars have quirks. These are internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, but Chapman’s approach to collecting involves several ethical principles that are needed if the world is to successfully transition to a greener future.
Mike Hall, appears in Rust Valley Restorers, a reality series set in Tappen, British Columbia on Shuswap Lake. I know the area well. For most of my childhood, our family stayed for a week at a waterfront cottage at Blind Bay, 15 km from Tappen. Hall is the opposite of Chapman. When the series started, he claimed to own 400 vehicles from the 1950s – 1970s, rusting away in what he describes as a field of dreams. Towards the end of the series, he gives up on his dream, and auctions most of them away, because he is unable to restore them. Hall is a hoarder, and his collecting habits are an obsession and probably an addiction.
Mark Towle, from Gotham Garage, appears in Car Masters: Rust to Riches, another reality series that looks at car revitalization, so far in 32 episodes, from 2018 to 2022. Gotham Garage uses two workshops located in Temecula, a city in Riverside County, California, with a 2020 population of about 110 000. While there has been some discussion about the authenticity of the program, the important point here is that Towle and Gotham Garage are portrayed, not as collectors, but as distributors/ dispensers/ vendors of enhanced/ customized one-off vehicles, built on an existing chassis/ body. Despite claims to the contrary, these are not usually restorations. Rather, vehicles are rebuilt to incorporates the dreams of typically wealthy clients into their newly reconstructed vehicles.
I am still in a state of denial with respect to my collector status about tools. Starting about 2016, I built up a woodworking workshop to assist in the restoration of Cliff Cottage. I soon learned that it can be economically advantageous to buy specialty tools even for a single specific task. Hiring a worker is usually more expensive, and here in rural Norway, there is no option of renting unusual tools. Thus, the perpetual question asked is, what quality should that tool be?
To begin with, I often bought cheaper house brand tools that, while capable of performing assigned tasks, are less effective than better quality tools. I regret some of these earlier purchases.
I have replaced a Scheppach table saw (that suddenly stopped working), with a Bosch table saw, that continues to operate. The one tool that I have been most disappointed with is a Ryobi compound mitre saw. I should have opted for a Bosch model, even though it is three times more expensive. The Ryobi is the one tool in my collection that I refuse to allow anyone to inherit. I have left clear instructions that it is to be recycled!
I own several Meec battery electric tools, because they use the same standard battery, of which I have four. These tools are gudenuf! Many people regard DeWalt as the highest quality woodworking tool brand commonly available in Norway. When I look at their prices, I accept that Bosch has a quality that meets my needs. Most of these woodworking tools have been so little used that they will last not just my lifetime, but the lifetime of the next generation of user that inherits them, and possibly the generation after that.
Computers & Peripherals
I hope to apply what I have learned about woodworking tools, to computers and peripherals. My attitude to collecting computing equipment is that while the quantities exceed basic needs, they are still manageable.
I still recall one day, when indulgence took the overhand. I contacted a Norwegian company whose mission is to sell used computing equipment. I asked specifically about its holding of older Asus EEE PCs and netbooks. A white Asus EEE PC 702 from 2007 is arguably the first netbook. With a profusion of good will, one can almost regard this device as a PDA = personal digital assistant! Almost!!
I then mentioned that I might be interested in acquiring an Asus tablet. Originally launched in 2010 as an EEEpad, its name was later changed to ZenPad. Fortunately, they had neither. This obsession with an ancient EEE equipment is totally irrational. Despite having no need for obsolete kit, I am still attracted to the EEE netbooks, writing about them in 2016 and 2018. They are totally useless in this modern era.
Asus (which takes its name from the mythical winged horse, Pegasus) is a Taiwanese multinational computer company, the sixth largest in the world by unit sales. It was founded in 1989. I often claim that Asus is my go-to brand of computer, but if I consult my records, it turns out that Acer is bought almost as often. Acer is another Taiwanese mulitinational computer company, ranked as the fifth largest in the world by unit sales. It was founded in 1976. I think the main difference between the two brands is that Asus is pushing performance limits, which results in thermal = heat issues. Acer accepts that its products will be less powerful, but without thermal issues.
I also have a collection of Logitech products. Logitech is a Swiss-American multinational manufacturer of computer peripherals and related software, with headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland and Newark, California. It was founded in 1981.
My fascination with particular items of computing equipment can be found in earlier weblog posts, including: here, here, here and here. My main challenge is that I tend to treat each device as an individual, with its own personality. This attitude can be expensive.
Saved/ Collected/ Hoarded Equipment:
The easiest way to recover from excessive collecting, is to transition from collector to dispenser. Product enthusiasts may want to systematize their behaviour, establishing criteria for the acquisition, use and disposal of equipment.
Before acquiring any item, its life expectancy should be determined. This allows the user to count down to a disposal date. Use the term, it helps reduce attachment to an item. For computers of various types, the useful life has not crept up significantly over the years, since we first acquired a computer in 1986. Because of its expense, our first machine was kept five years. Many of the subsequent ones also lasted about that time, but with exceptions – especially after laptops became the norm. The next step is to determine how to get rid of that item, when it has reached the end of its operational life. A typical answer involves recycling. This is often a machine’s fate if it has failed in some way, shortening its expected life. For me, the most common cause involves chronic overheating, because I am always buying equipment that is too powerful, relative to its components, and too cheap, relative to its power.
Another situation arises if some temptress of machine becomes too alluring, encouraging one to acquire a new machine before the expected end of life. My rule is that I have to find someone who could take over that older machine, and give it away to them. With one exception, that I regret to this day, I have never sold a computer, keyboard or rodent. They are either recycled or given away. That means that few machines end up being stored at the end of their life.
Yet, I often feel compelled to give a plausible, rational explanation for my desktop machines. I tell them that sometimes, I need to work with multiple documents. Here having a large screen is the most sensible approach. If the person looks skeptical, I add that age, and the increasing weakness of my body (eyes and hands especially) encourage the use of ergonomic equipment (keyboards, rodent and screen) and the use of desktop machines. I conveniently forget to mention that docking stations are available for laptop computers. The truth of the matters is that I am impressed with miniturization, and how much computing power that can be fitted into a litre of space. My PN machines occupies just over half a litre. My hand-held device, just under 0.1 litre. Much of the time, I simply prefer using a desktop machine. Yet, at other times I prefer the convenience of a portable machine. Then again, nothing beats a hand-held device, for photography and telephony.
One way to look at costs is to compare amortized costs = costs per time period (day, week, month, year). I have selected monthly costs for comparative purposes. Capital costs are the one time expense of acquiring an asset. For cars and related products, operating costs are significant, so that the costs of insurance, registration and fuel should be included. For computing equipment, operating costs, such as the cost of electricity to run a machine, are difficult to take into consideration, with any degree of accuracy.
A Disciplined Collector
Disciplined collectors maintain control over the objects they are collecting, and are not controlled by them. They set physical limits on the size of their collection, and the amount of money invested.
Collecting an object is not a life-time commitment to that object. The size of a collection can be up-sized or down-sized. Newer objects can replace older objects. Regardless, there should be a plan, and this plan should be revised regularly.
The collection lifecycle involves several stages. Stage 0: A plan is worked out in advance for the life cycle of an object, involving a further 7 stages. Stage 1: Investigation. The characteristics that an object needs to meet are determined. Stage 2: Acquisition. One determines suitable specifications and price, enters the marketplace, and buys, or in some other way, acquires an object. Stage 3: Enthusiasm. The object is used with passion and joy, because it meets specified needs. Stage 4: Satisfaction. The object is used, but without enthusiasm, because one observes that other objects perform better or faster. Stage 5: Disappointment. The object is used, but its failings dominate its use. At this stage, the collection process for a new and better object starts at stage 1. Stage 6: Replacement. The new item reaches stage 2, and there is a transition in usage between the old and new object. At the end of this stage the old object is no longer in use. Stage 7. Disposal. The old object is sold/ given away/ recycled.
The US East Coast (2014), mentioned above, is a series I watch repeatedly. It is not so much the video content that attracts me, but more the incidental music by Gianluca Cerchiello!
When I mentioned the topic of this weblog post to Trish, she told me that I should write about my video collecting habits. The short version is that from 1998 , a large number of DVDs have been acquired. Starting in about 2000, their content has been transferred onto assorted hard drives. So I believe the question she really wants answered is: Why are these DVDs still kept? Except, that question is too kind. It should probably be rephrased: Why I am unable to discard these useless DVDs? Yes, I would like to know that myself, because they could be given to others to enjoy. I don’t have an answer, except to say, I am a hoarder!
The purpose of this weblog post is to introduce the concept of a database primary key, Without it, a database will not work because data conflicts will arise. A primary key is a single attribute or group of attributes that can uniquely identify an individual record. Part of the challenge of database design, is determining what to use as a primary key.
Often, the solution is simply to generate a number in sequence. In many cases this is effective. In other cases, it might be more expedient to use an existing code, that can access more information, when that is needed. In many cases, geographical information is wanted, that is not contained in a database. such as the name of a mayor of a city, or a chronological list of mayors.
Geoscheme is my way of organizing geographical data. The land area of the Earth is divided into 26 different regions, labelled A to Z. Each region is populated by countries that can be further sub-divided. This process can continue into smaller and smaller units.
When a data set about a geographic area is being assembled for inclusion in a database, it is important to assess existing keys to see if one distinguishes itself from others. For geographical jurisdictions, this can be an agreed upon international code, for subdivisions of countries national or other codes may be appropriate.
I have used Geoscheme for so many years, that its origins are lost in the depths of time. Needless to say, the map with regions did not originate with me. I have simply appropriated it for my own purposes. The alphabetic coding, on the other hand, is something I recall creating.
Africa: [A] Southern Africa; [B] Eastern Africa; [C] Middle Africa; [D] Western Africa; [E] Northern Africa. Europe: [F] Southern Europe; [G] Western Europe; [H] Northern Europe; [I] Eastern Europe + North Asia. Asia: [J] Western Asia; [K] Central Asia; [L] Southern Asia; [M] Eastern Asia; [N] South-Eastern Asia. Oceania: [O] Australia and New Zealand; [P] Melanesia; [Q] Micronesia; [R] Polynesia. Americas: [S] Northern America; [T] Caribbean; [U] Central America; [V] South America. Other: [W] Antarctica; [X] Atlantic Ocean; [Y] Pacific Ocean; [Z] Indian Ocean.
My current work with Geoscheme is the collection of outline maps and flags for most countries, often using Fortnight Insider as a source of black on white maps. It provides answers to the Worldle game, that I lost interest in playing, that offer white on black maps.
ISO 3166-1 alpha-3 codes are currently used in Geoscheme as a primary key for countries. These three-letter country codes are defined in the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to represent countries, dependent territories, and special areas of geographical interest. There is also a two-letter coding system, referred to as ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 codes. The 3 letter codes give a better visual association between the codes and the country names than the two-letter codes. There is also a purely numeric code that offers no visual association. ISO 3166 became a standard in 1974. It is updated at irregular intervals. Some of the codes used are: CAN (Canada); MUS (Mauritius); NOR (Norway); TWN (Taiwan); UKA (Ukraine); URY (Uruguay); USA (United States of America).
Since ISO does not allow duplicate 3166 codes to be used, there are no issues using them as primary keys.
As noted, it is possible to expand these areas to use codes to define areas that are smaller than an unit with a 3-letter code. ISO 3166-2 defines codes for identifying the principal subdivisions. These use two-letter country codes, as well as two-character subdivisions. Thus, the province of British Columbia in Canada is CA-BC; The Moka district in Mauritius is MU-MO; Trøndelag county in Norway is NO-50. It was the result of an amalgamation of North (-17) and South (-16 ) Trøndelag on 2018-01-01; the state of Michigan in the United States is US-MI.
This approach can also work at lower levels. Inderøy municipality has its own municipality number. These representations are not written in stone. Municipality numbers were first introduced with the Norwegian census of 1946. Even municipalities that had dissolved before then, were given municipality numbers, that could be used for statistical purposes. Municipality numbers use four digits, with the first two being the county number.
Inderøy municipality was officially founded in 1837. The municipalities of Hustad and Røra were established on 1907-01-01 when the old municipality of Inderøy was divided into three municipalities: Røra (population: 866) with municipality number 1730, in the southeast, Hustad (population: 732) with municipality number 1728, in the north, and Inderøy (population: 2 976) with municipality number 1730, in the west. In 1912, Hustad changed its name to Sandvollan, but retained municipality number 1728. During the 1960s, there were many municipal mergers across Norway. On 1962-01-01, the three neighboring municipalities of Røra (population: 1003), Sandvollan (population: 750), and Inderøy (population: 3 194) to form a new, larger municipality of Inderøy.
Mosvik and Verran formed a municipality in 1867 that lasted until 1901, when Verran (population: 1 456) became its own municipality. Mosvik (population: 969) had retained the old municipality number, 1723. Adding to the confusion, 1968, the Framverran area on the south side of the Verrasundet strait (population: 395) was transferred from Verran municipality to Mosvik municipality. When Mosvik (population: 811) joined Inderøy in 2012, this newest iteration of Inderøy were assigned municipality number 1756. This lasted until 2018, when it became municipality number 5053.
These amalgamations, splits and transfers are mentioned in detail, because this is the reality of geography in the world. Situations change, and people interested in geographic realities have to be aware of the changes and their consequences. One cannot assume that boundaries are fixed.
Since primary keys are generally confined to database operations, there is no problem making artificial constructs as keys. One example is combining a 3-letter country code with a 2-letter subdivision code, even if this is not an acceptable international standard.
Geographical information about a country/ sub-division can contain a variety of information, that have to be formatted correctly. A jurisdiction name, or the name of its capital are generally a sequence of letters. Its population and its area in square kilometers are often integers. Typically when information about a country is assembled it occupies a single row in a table, but where every column will be formatted to accommodate the data collected.
Some people ask, why not just use longitude and latitude as a primary key? In such a system, the prime meridian and the equator dividing the world into four Eurocentric mathematical quadrants. So that: lines of longitude north of the equator are positive (+) from 0 at the equator to 90° at the north pole, while those south of the equator are negative (-) from 0 at the equator to 90° at the south pole; lines of latitude east of the prime meridian are positive (+) from 0 to 180° in the middle of the Pacific ocean , while those west of it are negative (-) from 0 to 180°at that same position in the middle of the Pacific ocean. One of the major problems with a geographical jurisdiction, is that it occupies an area not a point. So point data is uninteresting, and difficult to specify.
Another approach is to codify a small area. Because of radio interference issues, amateur radio operators are less interested in precision than a short code that gives an approximate position that is gudenuf. John Morris G4ANB originally devised such a system and it was adopted at a meeting of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Very High Frequency (VHF) Working Group in Maidenhead, England, in 1980. The Maidenhead locator has an interesting historical development. A sub-square can be described using two letters, then two digits, ending with two more letters. Two points within the same Maidenhead sub-square are always less than 10.4 km (6.5 mi) apart, which means a Maidenhead locator can give adequate precision from only six easily transmissible characters. There is no guarantee that a Maidenhead sub-square will be located in the same country. EN82lh is such an example. In the north of this map, one finds Detroit, Michigan, USA while the south of the map is in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Another approach is to use what3words, which has given every 3m square (9 m2) in the world a unique 3 word address. The words are randomly assigned, but will always remain the same.
Cliff Cottage is located at 63° 50′ 31.596” N and 11° 5′ 26.178” E which converts to 63.8421098 N and 11.0906046 E in decimal format. It occupies Maidenhead sub-square JP53nu. Its What3words are casual.year.messaging (in the middle of the living room), conqueror.lawn.consented (in the middle of the kitchen), popular.feuds.positives (in Trish’s work room) and hides.lake.proclaims (in my work area). The multiplicity of codes for a single dwelling creates its own problems.
While a well designed database-engine can ease the workload of creating data-structures and algorithms, and running a database, database administrators study the types of data that are needed. Some of the most difficult decisions involve finding ways to structure the database content so that a collection of data values, relationships between them, and operations/ manipulations/ functions that can be applied to them, work for the benefit of users. Once that is done, users can concentrate their time on adding/ editing/ deleting data that can go inside a database, and transforming data into valuable information.
Mountain Day, has its origins at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College), founded by Mary Lyon (1797 – 1849), and opened 1837-11-08, in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Every year in early fall, since 1838, its students participate in Mountain Day. On a random autumn morning, at the sound of ringing bells from Abbey Chapel, all classes are cancelled and students hike to the summit of Mount Holyoke.
There are two approaches to mountain views. One is a view of a mountain from a distant point in the lowlands. Another is a view from a mountain top. Here the artist can concentrate on that particular mountain’s characteristics. This is seen in the above work, Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848): View from Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, after a Thunderstorm—The Oxbow (1836).
Mount Holyoke, like much of the Metacomet Ridge, is composed of basalt. The mountain formed near the end of the Triassic Period, from about 250 – 50 million years ago, with the rifting apart of the North American continent from Africa and Eurasia. Mount Holyoke’s summit is 285 m high. It offers a variety of micro-climates, including hot, dry upper slopes; cool, moist ravines; mineral-rich ledges of basalt talus. These produce microclimate ecosystems on the mountain that support plant and animal species uncommon in the area.
Since then, many other American educational institutions have initiated their own mountain days.
The United Nations has celebrated International Mountain Day since 2003, The twentieth celebration is being held on Sunday, 2022-12-11. This year’s theme is, Women Move Mountains!
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization , who coordinates events, writes about this year’s theme:
“Women play a key role in environmental protection and social and economic development in mountain areas. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture and experts in traditional medicine.
Increasing climate variability, coupled with a lack of investment in mountain agriculture and rural development, has often pushed men to migrate elsewhere in search of alternative livelihoods. Women have therefore taken on many tasks formerly done by men, yet mountain women are often invisible due to a lack of decision-making power and unequal access to resources.
As farmers, market sellers, businesswomen, artisans, entrepreneurs and community leaders, mountain women and girls, in particular in rural areas, have the potential to be major agents of change. When rural women have access to resources, services and opportunities, they become a driving force against hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty and are active in the development of mountain economies.
To trigger real change towards sustainable development, it is important to engage in gender transformative change.
International Mountain Day 2022 is an opportunity raise awareness about the need to empower mountain women so they can participate more effectively in decision-making processes and have more control over productive resources. By sharing excellence, opportunities and capacity development in mountains, the Day can promote gender equality and therefore contribute to improve social justice, livelihoods and resilience.”
For an overview about the use of mountains, see: Martin F. Price (1957- ), Mountains: A Very Short Introduction (2015). Both Trish and I have read this book, and found it informative and entertaining.
According to Price, for a place to be defined as mountainous, the altitude had to vary by at least 300 metres over a radius of 7 kilometres.
Japan has held it own Mountain Day national holiday since 2016, based on 2014 legislation, that states that the holiday is to provide opportunities to get familiar with mountains and appreciate blessings from mountains. It is celebrated in August (the 8th month), not December (the 12th month). It is often speculated that the specific date was chosen because the kanji for the number eight “八” looks like a mountain. With eight being August in the calendar and the date 11 looking somewhat like two trees.
Tittinghalla, the highest point on the Inderøy peninsula, with a height of 268 m, is located 1 850 m north of Cliff Cottage. It is below the treeline, and is regarded as a hill. Tittinghalla Round is an annual walk (for some, race) that was first held in 1966. The track is 13.5 kilometers long. It is mostly by road, but with some forest path down from the trail’s highest point, Ørdalen, with a view over Skarnsund, that patriots call spectacular.
Cliff Cottage is on a cliff overlooking this sound, 35 m above sea level. Mosvik, across the sound, was its own independent municipality until 2012-01-01, when it merged with Inderøy. In the old Mosvik there are several forested landforms with peaks above the treeline. The highest peaks here are Storknuken (502 m, 16 km south-west of Cliff Cottage) and Bjørnakammen (414 m, 10 km west of Cliff Cottage).
Having seen real mountains, I call this area hilly, rather than mountainous. Terminology can cause people to have different world views. Thus, today’s Norwegian lesson tries to define concepts related to mountains. At times it can be hard to distinguish between a hill and a mountain.
Ås = hill, a land form that is characterized by being higher than the surrounding terrain, which is usually covered with trees or forest.
Fjell = fell, in some northern English dialects = mountain, is traditionally defined in Norwegian as a landform that sticks above the treeline. Treelines in Norway range from about 1 200 m in the south, to sea-level in the north. The treeline where Cliff Cottage is located, is about 380 meters above sea level. Some countries require a mountain to be a certain minimum height. This is not the case in Norway. In the United Kingdom it is 600 m = ca. 2 000 feet.
Vidde = plateau or plain or open area that is generally higher than the treeline. Because it is above the treeline, this term is sometimes translated as mountain.
Further comments on Mount Holyoke College and Mary Lyon.
It was a unique institution, founded by people of modest means and serving their daughters, rather than the children of the rich. Mary Lyon, a pioneer in education for women, was especially influenced by Joseph Emerson’s (1777 – 1833), Female Education: A Discourse (1822) that advocated for women to be trained as teachers, rather than as companions to please the other sex. Further information on Emerson, can be found here. Note: Originally, the wrong Joseph Emerson was cited as the author of a book about female information. This and the book title have now been corrected. A copy of the book can be downloaded from here.
In keeping with Lyon’s social vision, tuition fees were low, but required students to perform domestic tasks, such as preparing meals and washing floors and windows. Students were required to walk one mile = 1.6 km after breakfast, or for 45 minutes during the winter.
A comprehensive, rigorous, and innovative education was provided, with particular emphasis on the sciences where students learned science through: laboratory experiments which they performed themselves; field trips on where they collected rocks, plants, and specimens for lab work, and inspected geological formations and recently discovered dinosaur tracks.
Originally serving 200 students, in 2021 there were 2220 undergraduates and 122 post graduates. It has been ranked #1 in the list of the Top 20 Best Schools for Making an Impact. It remains an institution for women.
On 2022-12-11, Trish and I watched a National Geographic program in the 2019 series Wild Nordic. Kingdom in the Sky, the second episode, was about the Scandinavian mountain range, often referred to as the Keel/ Kjølen/ Kölen, in English/ Norwegian/ Swedish, respectively. Wikipedia reminds us, that the names Kjølen and Kölen are often preferentially used for the northern part, where the mountains form a narrow range near the border region of Norway and Sweden. In south Norway there is a broad scatter of mountain regions with individual names, such as Dovrefjell, Hardangervidda, Jotunheimen and Rondane.
In 2013, The Norwegian Trekking Association, and The Norwegian Geological Society, held a competition to find a new, but unofficial, name for the range. This was Nordryggen = North Back, sometimes translated as North Ridge.
The range is about 1 700 km long and 300 km wide. Examining the range from north to south, it starts in northern Norway, then forms a border area with Finland, before becoming part of the border area with Sweden. Sweden’s highest mountains are part of it: 2 104 m high Kebnekaise, with its glacier peak, and 500 m away 2 097 m high, Kebnekaise Nordtoppen which could become the highest point, if glacial melt continues.
Further south, the peaks are lower until one reaches Trøndelag, where they are only about 400 – 500 m, the low point for the range. South of Trondheim, and heading towards Stavanger, the mean altitude exceeds 1 000 m, with numerous peaks over 1 300 m. Here, one encounters Norway’s ten highest peaks, all 2 348 m or higher, with Galdhøpiggen the highest, at 2469 m. Ten of the thirty highest waterfalls in the world are found here.
In a recent weblog post, Classification, I wrote about Geoscheme, my approach to dividing up the geography of the world. Eleven days before this, 2022-09-16, Mahsa Amini (2000-2022), died in a hospital in Tehran, Iran, with a broken skull after being arrested by the Guidance Patrol = the Iranian government’s religious morality police, for not wearing a hijab. A photograph of Amini illustrates this weblog post.
Since then, Iranian women and men, girls and boys have protested daily. They have been joined by others throughout the world. Writer, comedian, and former president of Humanist UK, Shaparak Khorsandi (1971 – ), who fled Iran to Britain with her family following the 1979 revolution, wrote: The Iranian regime kills women for trying to live freely. This is not just Iran’s problem, it is the world’s problem. Do not look away. This denial of basic human rights is an affront to human dignity. Mahsa Amini cannot speak up any more. The world should act in solidarity and amplify her voice and the voices of all Iranian women who dare to speak up for choice and democracy.
On 2022-11-30, I decided that I could amplify Amini’s voice by using some of my working hours on a personal Women, Life, Freedom project to: 1) transform Geoscheme into a database, and 2) use that database as an example to teach the basics of database development. The example will use an open-source database, and the teaching materials will be freely available under a copy-left licence. A third step has yet to be worked out, which involves the translation of the materials into Persian, with the help of a local Iranian refugee, preferably one with little or no understanding of the workings of databases.
Later, while I was wondering what else could be built into a database as dinner approached, my housekeeper, Trish, was telling me that she was re-organizing her recipes. It then struck me, that many Iranian women probably knew a lot about cooking, and that combining this existing knowledge with databases, could help improve an understanding of them.
Since food is generally made from ingredients, such a database could also be expanded to include inventories for raw materials, goods in process, and finished products. It also could allow some accounting basics to be explored. In other words, this example offered greater scope.
Another point that could be made is that there is an opportunity for small-scale software-as-a-service (sssaas). No one says a cloud has to be huge and multi-national. In a previous post, titled Clouds & Puddles, I used the Xample family with mother Ada, father Bob, cat Cat and daughter Deb, as an example to explain cloud-based computing. I am sure more Persian sounding names could be found.
Geoscheme data will be discussed in another post, to be published 2022-12-11. The remainder of this post will discuss database choices. It provides a short and incomplete history of the evolution of relational databases.
Rather than using the overworked term, cloud, to describe sssaas, I propose to call it Mist computing. This topic will be explored in yet another post to be published 2022-12-18.
My own interest in databases has nothing to do with either Geoscheme or cooking, but digital asset management (DAM), a system to store and access different types of content, such as texts, photos, videos, audio (including music), so that they can be edited and otherwise combined to produce new content. While such a framework is most often called a DAM, at other times it is referred to as a content management system.
In the beginning there was a bit, the most basic unit of information that expresses either 0 or 1. It first appeared in Claude Shannon’s (1916 – 2001) paper A Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948), but he attributed its origin to John Tukey (1915 – 2000), who in a Bell Labs memo of 1947-01-09 contracted binary information digit to bit. Eight bits form a byte, which can take one of 264 values. The term byte was coined by Werner Buchholz (1922 – 2019) in 1956-06.
The total amount of data created, captured, copied and consumed globally was about 64 zettabytes in 2020. By 2025, this could increase to 180 zettabytes. 1 zetabyte = 1021 = 1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 bytes = 1 sextillion bytes.
Data storage has always been problematic. In 1951 magnetic disks as well as magnetic tape was developed for data storage. To begin with, there were flat files, often they came with programming languages, with data stored within the program. Then, in the 1960s, hierarchical and network database models appeared and flourished. These early database implementations were imperfect. Some would call them messy, overly large and difficult to use.
Structuring data begins with Edgar Frank “Ted” Codd (1923 – 2003) and his A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks (1970). Codd’s model structures data in tables, with columns and rows, where one column holds unique keys. models were unable to use this model, as computer hardware only became powerful enough to deploy it in the mid-1980s. Within a few years (early 1990s), relational databases dominated, and continue to dominate in 2021.
Codd worked for IBM, but it was a mismatch. IBM failed to understand the importance of Codd’s work, and the need for data storage to have a theoretical basis, that ultimately resulted in a need for relational databases. Codd’s twelve rules, from 0 to 12 making 13 altogether, are important for anyone wanting to understand databases. The most important concept is that relational databases store information without unnecessary redundancy.
Initially, tables formed a basic unit for structuring data. These need storage space for data, and programming capabilities to create (insert), modify (update) and remove (delete) content.
Data is useless unless it can be retrieved = accessed in a form that is directly usable or can be further processing by other applications, that make it usable. The retrieved data may be made available in a form basically the same as it is stored in the database or in a new form obtained by altering or combining existing data from the database.
Administrative tasks include registering and monitoring users, enforcing data security, monitoring performance, maintaining data integrity, dealing with concurrency control, and recovering information that has been corrupted by some event such as an unexpected system failure.
The Alpha language was defined in Codd’s A Data Base Sublanguage Founded on the Relational Calculus (1971). It was never implemented, but influenced the design of QUEL, that was implemented by Michael Stonebraker (1943 – ) in 1976. This was part of the University of California, Berkeley project Ingres (Interactive Graphics and Retrieval System), used to demonstrate a practical and efficient implementation of the relational model. QUEL was supplanted by Structured Query Language (SQL, pronounced sequel, by some), based on Codd’s relational algebra defined in Relational Completeness of Data Base Sublanguages (1970).
SQL was (and is) available in several different flavours. It can be housed in the cloud (someone else’s server), one’s own server, a desktop machine, or a laptop. Handheld devices, such as smartphones, are less suitable.
SQL was implemented by Donald Chamberlin (1944 – ) and Raymond Boyce (1946 – 1974), based on an earlier language SQUARE (Specifying Queries As Relational Expressions).
By 1980, relational databases had became mature enough to enter the world of business. A number of startups such as Britton Lee, Relational Technology and Sybase were founded by people actively involved in the Ingres project at Berkeley. These were often implemented on cheap mini-computers, such as VAX machines made by Digital Equipment, rather than on larger, more expensive mainframes, such as System/ 370 machines made by IBM.
Postgres, was a successor project to Ingres, at Berkeley. Its goals were to make evolutionary improvements, including support for more complex data types, and improved performance. Most people exposed to Postgres, praised its extensible nature, allowing it to add new features, as required. This allowed databases to be used in new areas, such as support for geographical data as in geographical information systems (GIS) using a geolocation engine, and/ or time-series. Currently Timescale DB, launched in 2018 as an open-source product, offers the best possibilities for extending PostgreSQL in this area.
In the 1990s, the project drifted closer to SQL, so that by 1996 it was renamed PostgreSQL to reflect this support for SQL. There are many database practitioners who regard PostgreSQL as the standard database system to use, unless something dictates otherwise.
For me, no discussion of databases is complete without a mention of the closed-source Microsoft Office and its Access relational database system. It was promoted as a database for everyone, that provided a graphical user interface and the Access Connectivity Engine (ACE) that I originally knew as Joint Engine Technology (JET). The Norwegian Department of Education, in its wisdom, decided that computer science at the senior secondary school level would be taught with the help of this software. This approach to teaching, was a mistake.
Fortunately, not all Norwegian school programs were using Windows software. The Media and Communications program, that I transitioned to, used Apple equipment, notably iMac G4 machines with flatscreens, and software that included ProTools, to create a digital audio workstation, along with Adobe Creative Suite, and Claris FileMaker database system.
FileMaker is superior, and Access inferior everywhere one looks. FileMaker had more extensive capabilities but, more importantly, it just works. My experience with Access was that it was impossible to make coding changes with it. It was more time-efficient to just scrap an existing database, and to write a new one.
Thus, when it comes to other databases designed for everybody, I take this experience with me. Base, the LibreOffice/ OpenOffice equivalent of Access, performs equally badly. One reviewer noted: It [Base] doesn’t support Insert, Delete, and Update statements [all fundamental to any database] through its query designer, and the SQL tool [is not standard, because it] doesn’t parse [= analyse symbols that are written in] ANSI [American National Standards Institute] compliant SQL. There are no easy solutions.
The next database problem child is MySQL, originally developed by MySQL AB, a Swedish company founded in 1995 by Michael Widenius (1962 – ) who programmed the database system – and named developed products after his children: My, Max and Maria; David Axmark (1962 – ); and Allan Larsson (? – ). It offered dual licence database software. A Gnu General Public Licence (GPL) version was offered free of charge, but the database system was also sold under other licences. This closed-source version included additional components that improved the operation of the database. In 2008, MySQL AB was acquired by Sun Microsystems. In 2010, Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle Corporation.
MariaDB is a forked = branched version of MySQL, also developed by the same Michael Widenius, starting in 2009. MariaDB maintains high compatibility with MySQL, allowing it to function as a drop-in replacement for MySQL. However, new features diverged. MariaDB includes new storage engines. While MariaDB was originally entirely open source and non-commercial, a merger with SkySQL in 2013, resulted in a more commercial profile, especially the emergence of software-as-a-service (SAAS) activities on Google Cloud Platform.
Avoiding redundancy is not just a matter of saving space. It is a means of avoiding data conflicts. If, for example, a person’s address is only saved in one place, if that address changes, that change only has to be recorded once. It should be noted that redundancy has nothing to do with backup which, at a minimum should follow the 3-2-1 rule: 3) Create one primary backup and two copies of data. 2) Save backups on two different types of media. 1) Keep at least one backup file offsite.
Relational databases use an ACID test to monitor the suitability of a database. ACID involves atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability properties that guarantee data validity despite errors, power outages, and more. This has to operate at the transaction level. Other types of databases find this test impractical to implement, and accept data loss to a varying degree.
DB-Engines ranks the most popular databases. In 2022-12, the top five ranked databases were, in order: Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL server, PostgreSQL and Mongo DB. Microsoft Access is #9, Maria DB is #13, FileMaker is #22. Base uses the FirebirdSQL DB-engine, which is ranked #32.
So far, one would get the impression that all modern databases are relational, and in some way related to SQL. This is not the case, and is exemplified by Mongo DB in the above list. It is a document database, often described as NoSQL. There are a large and increasing number of NoSQL databases, a 21st century term variously translated as not SQL, not only SQL and not a relational database.
Document databases typically store archived records, then use their database engines to extract metadata. It is a more complex arrangement, and is not the place to begin when teaching database techniques.
It is my intention to encourage everyone to use open-source databases, where these are appropriate. This includes, especially, oppressed women wanting software solutions in a country experiencing sanctions, such as Iran. Even profitable corporations, such as Google, have found it appropriate to develop and support open-source software.
The conclusion of this post is that I will begin to use PostgreSQL to implement a Geoscheme database, with the aim of making it a example to be used for teaching basic database management techniques. After that, everything is open.
When this weblog post was being planned, it was hard to decide if the focus should be on Swiss engineer Uli Behringer (1961 – ), or on the audio equipment company he founded. Currently the company is privately owned by his holding company, based in the Philippines, but with production facilities in Zhongshan, China. It will be both.
Did Uli Behringer have any options in life apart from becoming the founder of an audio electronics company? Much of his family were professional musicians. He started to learn piano at age four. At age five he assisted his father to built an organ with over 1000 pipes and integrated them into the family house. At age sixteen, he built his first synthesizer, the UB1.
Behringer, the company, was started in Germany in 1989. By 1990, it had moved to China, with products being made by subcontractors to reduce production costs. In 1997, Behringer himself moved to Hong Kong, in an effort to improve product quality. In 2002, the company completed a 110 000 m2 manufacturing complex in Zhongshan. Here, ten separate production locations form a vertically integrated, eight-building facility where 2.5 million products, including assorted electronic units, speakers, guitars and digital pianos are produced annually.
Synthesizers have been produced by Behringer since 2016. In Norway, there are 18 distinct Behringer desktop synthesizer models available, some with keyboards, some without. These are analogue instruments, meaning that they will produce sound through a headphone or speaker, without the use of additional equipment. Many of these are clones of earlier synthesizer products, whose intellectual properties (such as patents) have expired. There are also 63 different Eurorack components available.
The first synths produced were a twelve voice Deepmind 12, a six voice Deepmind 6 that effectively imitate a Roland Juno-106. The Deepmind 12D is a simpler desktop version. In 2022, these cost about NOK 7 800, 5 500 and 6 850, respectively. While these models offer relatively good value for money, they are expensive as a first synthesizer, where a user will want to experiment in order to find something that suits her/his soul. Others disagree.
The next synth, the Neutron, provides a 56 point mini-jack patch bay. This is ideal for enthusiasts addicted to patch cables. For others, the appeal of the Neutron is its low price, currently NOK 3 355, and the fact that it is equipped with a clone of the synth on a chip technology used in the Curtis CEM3396 integrated circuit (IC). This IC was responsible for the main voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) used in many synths from the 1970s and 1980s including: the Oberheim OB-Xa, OB-Sx & OB-8; the Voyetra 8; the Roland SH-101, MC-202, Jupiter-6, and early model MKS-80; the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 Rev 3, Prophet-10, Prophet-600, Pro-One, and Prophet T8; Moog Memorymoog; Banana Polysynth; Crumar Spirit; Digisound 80 VCO modules; the Synton Syrinx; Steiner Parker EVI; and, Doepfer A-111-1 High End VCO. This allows the Neutron to recreate the sound of many of these former synths. Here is a video that shows the operational characteristics of the Behringer Neutron.
Electronic Dream Plant (EDP), an Oxfordshire, England based synth manufacturer, was started in 1977 by Adrian Wagner, a synthesist, and Chris Huggett (1949 – 2020), an electronics engineer. Huggett designed the Wasp, and EDP started selling it in 1978. In 2019, Behringer made a clone of the original Wasp, the Wasp Deluxe. The Wasp will appeal to those wanting to avoid patch cables. Once again, it includes a clone of the Curtis CEM3396 IC. It is also ideal as a starter synth. Here is a video that shows the operational characteristics of the Behringer Wasp Deluxe. When it first came out, the its price was NOK 3 400. Now it is a little over NOK 2 300.
In most situations an open-source software/ app synth on a computer is a suitable substitute for an analogue synth, saving space and money. The challenge is the lack of a musical keyboard for input. On 2022-04-01, I took home a Behringer MS-1 RD in red, as my first analogue synth, their cheapest keyboard synth with 32 semi-weighted, full size keys. It cost NOK 3 600. Another characteristic of this synth, was that it was one of only two MS-1 synths available anywhere in Norway, the only other one was a MS-1 BU in blue, not my favourite colour. The purported reason for this was, once again, a chip shortage.
The other synth under consideration was a Behringer Odyssey, previously mentioned. It increases the number of keys to 37, is duophonic, but occupies considerably more desk real estate. It also costs almost NOK 5 000. While marginally more capable than a MS-1, the Odyssey would not be a stopping point, should my skills develop sufficiently.
At some point in the future, I might be tempted to supplement/ replace the MS-1 with a polyphonic synth with more keys and aftertouch = the ability of a keyboard to change tone (or other sound qualities) in response to velocity, pressure or other playing variations. The Behringer Deepmind 12, previously mentioned, offers more synth at a cheaper price than most other polyphonic analogue synths available. However, the design is dated and it is not on any future shopping list. The main reason is a three letter word, fan = a device that moves air, usually for cooling purposes. It also produces unwanted noise.
My current conclusion is that I have bought my first (and last) Behringer synth. However, they offer good value for money for any individual wanting to buy a first synth.