A winter day in Fallbrook

I took a walk yesterday with the Fuji camera and the new 135mm prime lens. I only came away with 2-3 pictures I liked much. Combination of bad light and still learning with the lens. I find that my closeup vision isn’t as sharp as it once was, so focusing a shot with delicate depth of field isn’t easy.

But here’s a nice, very detailed macro-ish shot. The detail on the sycamore ball is pretty great. Shot from about 10-12 feet away, ISO 640 at 1/2000 second. And I like the bokeh.

And here’s a still life of grapevines in winter. Nice colors, in spite of the sun being high and in front of me. This one’s at ISO 3200 and 1/2000.

Sooner or later I’ll graduate to wildlife shots and some portraiture with this lens. I do enjoy shooting on manual again. Shooting full auto for so many years, you don’t really think about the shot the way you do in manual mode. I’m more in the moment this way.

Your tax dollars at work, vammit!

From MIT Technology Review, What went wrong with America’s $44 million vaccine data system?

God, when will governments learn that throwing millions of taxpayer dollars at a consulting firm in a crisis to build a bespoke information system always, I repeat always, results in a complete loss. They may as well take the millions and burn it in a wondrous campfire. At least then we’d have s’mores.

The CDC awarded two multi-million dollar contracts to Deloitte with no competition. None. Just “Here, take this money and come up with something useful.” Heads should roll. From the article:

Her frustration is echoed by millions of Americans who have struggled to get vaccines through various chaotic systems. But unlike others in some states, she wasn’t encountering these problems with a third-party consumer service like Eventbrite, or even through an antiquated government system. She was on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s brand-new, $44 million website called VAMS—the Vaccine Administration Management System, built by the consulting firm Deloitte.

Unless you’re in one of the few states using it, you may not have heard of VAMS. But it was supposed to be a one-stop shop where employers, state officials, clinics, and individuals could manage scheduling, inventory, and reporting for covid shots—and free for anyone to use. 

The Biden administration has inherited a web of tech systems and policies that it must navigate to meet its goal of administering 100 million doses in the first 100 days.

Instead, “VAMS has become a cuss word,” Marshall Taylor, head of South Carolina’s health department, told state lawmakers in January. He went on to describe how the system has badly hurt their immunization efforts so far. Faced with a string of problems and bugs, several states, including South Carolina, are choosing to hack together their own solutions, or pay for private systems instead.

Clinic workers in Connecticut, Virginia, and other states say the system is notorious for randomly canceled appointments, unreliable registration, and problems that lock staff out of the dashboard they’re supposed to use to log records. The CDC acknowledges there are multiple flaws it’s working to fix, although it attributes some of the problems to user error.

This is what gives “big government” a bad name. Waste, fraud and abuse.

As long as I’m on the subject of government outrages, this person needs to go. She’s a serious candidate for “Worst Person in the World” now that Twitler has left the stage. Another belligerent, arrogant, narcissistic person in public office, this time a female. What is it about this personality type that public office attracts?

Underachiever

In a recent post I mentioned that I like Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds. So I decided I would probably like his books, and I started with his most recent, Wanderers. And holy shit, what a book. I’m only a third of the way through it and I love it.

A third of the way through isn’t a small sample. Wendig’s book is 800 pages long and 280,000 words. And he wrote it in six months! That makes me feel…inadequate. Lazy. Underachieving. So thanks, Chuck.

Wanderers is about a plague infecting the world during a Presidential election between a normal, rational President and a crazy-evil candidate. He wrote it in 2019. Prophecy much, Chuck?

So a lot of today will be spent soaking up Wendig’s book, instead of being outside in the sun or writing my own puny book. But it’s OK. Reading a good book, maybe a great one (jury’s still out; I’ll let you know) makes me happy. And these days a happy day is worth a lot.