Category: Miscellaneous

Medina County: Finding Survey, Deed, and Permit Info

I had downloaded some PDF files of the county survey books after we first bought our house. We wanted a little more info, but were completely unable to find where I’d gotten the survey book pages. Fortunately, a very helpful individual at the County Recorders office knew what I had and exactly how to get there. Figured I’d write it down for the next time we want to pull up survey information. The trick is to not use the new Medina County GIS website.

From http://engineer.medinaco.org, select “Traditional” from the GIS menu. This will bring you to the old county GIS interface at http://engineer.medinaco.org/cgi-bin/mchequery.cgi

From the drop-down menu hidden between the red bar and an text input and select a search type (Parcel Number, Address, Owner Last Name)

Click Query/Refresh

You will now see information about the searched parcel and a map. Scroll down.

From here, you can access a bunch of different information – for the survey books, select “Scans”.

There’s a lot of information available. In the Surveys, there’s a cool feature — the top part of the page contains a portion of the document and a light gray outline showing the searched parcel — when you cannot figure out why a particular page shows up when your parcel isn’t involved — look for a tiny portion of your parcel that’s technically on the page. In this example, a few feet of our lot appear under the information block. There are a few pages where the little section of land on the public right-of-way appear somewhere along the bottom portion of a scan. I expect they’ve got the corners of each page tagged with geographic information & your scan query retrieves anything where any of your lot falls within those bounds. Survey and tax map go back over a hundred years, and it’s neat to see how the property lines have changed (and not changed). Plus, I now know Bellus Rd was named after the family that owned the farm across the street from us.

 

Since I’m writing down where I’ve found important documentation … I’ll add:

Building permits are available through the Medina County Building Department at https://medina.onlama.com/Default.aspx

Deed transfers, mortgage instruments, etc are available through the Medina County Recorder at http://recordersearch.co.medina.oh.us/OHMedina/AvaWeb/#!/search

 

Statistics and Mortality

I question the logic behind the “the worst is past, and it wasn’t as bad as we thought” faction that’s drove the Memorial Day partying and is gearing up for the 4th of July celebrations. The decrease we see in the NYC metro is impacting nationally aggregated data. NY and NJ have significantly reduced infection rates (and have since late April/early May). MA as well. Most other states have seen increases. Since the NYC metro had an oversized representation of cases (some 6% of the national population had, in late March, some half of the national infections), the reduction in cases there has had an oversized impact on nationwide data. Break the infection rates out by state, though? There are a lot of lines heading up, and steeply.
Hospitalization rates are already heading up outside of the NE corridor. Again, the drop-off in the “New England” and “Mid-Atlantic” buckets hide increases in aggregate. Death rates don’t have such a clear upward trend. Yet. Infection is a leading indicator, followed by hospitalization rates (it’s not like you are in the hospital on day one. Most people I’ve seen interviewed say they felt sick for a week or two), *then* death rates a month or two after hospitalization. We’ve seen infection rates on the increase since June. We’re starting to see hospitalization rates increase. I don’t doubt we’ll see death rates increasing toward the end of July. I don’t know if this misrepresentation of aggregate over partitioned data is a deliberate attempt to obfuscate the current risk level or a more easily comprehended visualization (my chart with 50 lines is a lot more difficult to read that the single-line national infection count graph). But the impact on public perception and public policy is dangerous.
What bothers me, though, is that … even if someone believes the mortality rate dropping significantly as more young/healthy people get infected or we “get better at treating it” or whatever their mental excuse for partying and venturing out without any type of protection, the hospitalization numbers *are* going up. It’s certainly better to go into the hospital for a month or two and emerge alive than to die alone in the COVID ward. Personally? I want to avoid a month or two on a ventilator. It’s a rather unpleasant experience. Not to mention the personal and national economic impact from millions of people out of work – the lucky ones have insurance that covers something like 80% of their normal salary, the less ones need SSDI, and the really unlucky ones have nothing. Even if hospitalization was a fun holiday experience? At some point, health care resources are maxed out; then resource constraint impacts mortality rate.
Risk mitigation isn’t about taking extraordinary action to avoid black swan events. When I worked in Arkansas, there would be an ice storm that shut down travel for a few days. The first year I moved there, it was a serious storm that shut down most of the state for a week or two. Access to the company network was via dial-up. We had some number of PRI’s — maybe ten, which would be 230 dial-in lines. Normal operation, we had fifty or so lines free. Ice storm? They were maxed out constantly. After that first week-long ice storm, the company executives demanded IT figure something out because they were unable to get on network. The company had 20k employees, which would require 800+ PRIs (a reasonable analysis was about 10k employees who could work remotely, so ‘only’ 400 PRIs) and the dial-in gear so those lines went somewhere. For the low, low price of a few million, we could ensure everyone could dial into the company network simultaneously. Of course, no one wanted to fund that initiative. What we did implement was a dedicated executive dial-in access number. One PRI, with one small modem bank, provided access for the 20 people who were special enough to get the number (yes, there was an authorization group preventing access by the unwashed masses who had the number). And the three IT people who supported those executives. It cost more than nothing, sure. But it was a reasonable expense to address the most critical part of the issue. In the subsequent ice storms? Lower-level employees would complain about busy signals on the VPN, their complaint would work its way up the chain, and the executives would pull out my multi-million dollar proposal to fix a problem that averaged two days a year. Technology advanced, and IP-based VPN became a thing. It has functionality beyond Arkansas ice days, and the company invested in it. Now everyone can connect to the network during the ice storm. A fairly reasonable cost that has utility 24/7.
For some reason, people are treating masks like the multi-million dollar VPN project. They’re not. It’s a cheap thing that most people can don safely. No, it’s not comfortable to sit in a warm room to attend the Township meetings wearing masks. I’m happy to head back to the car and cool off. But the hard plastic chair isn’t a big cushy couch. Their building is drafty and, while I am certain the space is conditioned, the ambient temperature isn’t as comfy as my house. There are lots of ways in which the environment isn’t comfortable. Masks are generally available — back in March, I wondered why more people didn’t just wrap a scarf around their face a few times.
People argue the efficacy of masks — most of which seems to stem from early recommendations against mask wearing that was partially driven by the reality of product availability and partially driven by the unknown of aerosol v/s large particle transmission. And, for large particle transmission, just staying physically distant from others minimizes risk. But the reality is people don’t maintain an acceptable physical distance from others. Our Township meetings have board members sitting at the far side of 6′ tables … but they move their chairs around and end up four feet apart and yelling at each other. There are people walking right next to us in the grocery store, people queuing up a foot behind me at the liquor store, people standing next to us in the aisle at Home Depot.
Even if a mask only prevents 50% of exhaled viruses from escaping and and prevents 50% of virus particles from being inhaled — that’s a huge reduction in risk. Even at 5% reduction, you’re reducing virus particles by a non-trivial amount.
I’m waiting for the lawsuits to start — it would be difficult to prove causality on a micro level (i.e. no one can sue Home Depot for failing to require customers wear masks), but at a macro level? Streets and businesses don’t altruistically have wheelchair accessible entrances. They have to. There’s a long legal history behind the requirement. Why shouldn’t businesses and government offices have to ensure access for those with compromised immune systems by requiring everyone wear a mask?

Marketing Fail

I find it ironic that the Republican, who brought us marketing campaigns such as the “Death Tax” which would cause Paris Hilton to pay taxes on her hypothetical inheritance but didn’t mean jack to 80% of the country seems unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to effectively market pandemic response.
 
Social distancing is a horrible phrase that speaks to isolation. OK, you don’t congregate in one big lump of humanity at the beach or discotheque. Why isn’t figuring out innovative ways to interact a national pursuit? Physically distanced social interactions — either online or in person. A few decades ago, I had friends who would all get on a call to watch a movie or TV show together. Start writing letters again (help out the post office, too). Back in March, when the lock-downs started, I surprised a lady at the grocery store by helping her look for her parent’s preferred type of coffee as I stood on the checkout queue. She didn’t have to get near me, I didn’t have to get near her, but the “social distancing” campaign had her thinking “head down, don’t talk to anyone”. We’ve got patio chairs set up under the big maple tree in our front yard. Two families sitting 10′ apart can easily converse, hang out, enjoy nature, etc. Putting chairs on either side of the fire pit is about 8′ apart too.
 
Then there are the masks. Social trends have convinced people to wear all manner of wild kit. There’s no way it couldn’t have been presented as some awesome fashion trend. I’m curious if it’s *masks* or *orders* that the non-mask wearing public finds so objectionable. Like, would they be down with wearing a confederate flag mask? What about helmets — we can dress up like astronauts, scuba divers, motorcycle riders. I introduced my daughter to pandemic safety by calling it the zombie apocalypse. It’s fun to get the masks and gloves on to take the recycling down the the drop-off point where she stands guard in the car watching for zombies. Or get a superhero cape and mask, adopt a secret identity. Not something I recommend when it’s 95 degrees … but when it cools off again, pretend you’re a less murder-y version of the invisible man with the head wrapping and sun shades.
 
The Republican promotion of preventative actions reminds me of the court-ordered PSA commercials that tobacco companies air. They have technically said what the court has ordered them to say, but there has been no attempt to engage the audience. Or attract attention. White screen, black text, monotone voice-over repeating what the text says.

School’s Out For …

I want to know what schools are going to do in September/November after what they did in August proves to be foolishly optimistic (either ‘the virus will disappear’ or ‘one person will be able to ensure twenty six-year-old kids wear masks and stay 6 feet apart, plus we can have a janitor in each restroom sanitizing after each use’) and they’ve failed to use the intervening 4-5 months to develop a decent online teaching approach.

Ohio Public Health Warning Level

Ohio now has a per-county public health alert level rating that reminds me of the terror alert color-coded system we had after 9/11.

Of course there will be people in red or purple counties heading out to neighboring counties to shop/eat/socialize/party because those neighboring counties are only in orange so they don’t need to wear a mask there. I don’t get why I’ve got to get my car e-checked because my county borders Cuyahoga but we wouldn’t have to wear a mask for the same reason … but it’s a step in the right direction deeming masks mandatory *somewhere* based on *something*.

Knowing the Law

We had some chap in the back yard on Saturday afternoon. Memorial Day weekend Saturday. He’s a surveyor, and the pins on the property he’s trying to survey aren’t there. So he’s getting other pins for reference. But he didn’t want to provide his name or the name of his company. Which … yeah, dodgy. Scott ended up calling the police out, and they claim that surveyors can just wander on your property whenever they want. But the chap said he didn’t actually need to be on our property and took off.

Turns out he actually does work for a survey/engineering company. The prospective buyer who engaged the survey company stopped by to chat a bit. It’s amazing what a little customer service knowledge would get you — providing your name, license number (you know, something we could look up), and a business card with your company’s info is a lot less suspect than “no, I don’t need to give you my name or the company’s name. I can just wander around your property any time I want”. Honey v/s vinegar. At that, why in the world would the company’s policy not be driving up to the neighboring property, ringing the bell, and asking first?! That’s just polite.

Funniest part of the whole thing, though? We looked up the actual laws for Ohio. ORC 163.03yes, a surveyor can wander onto your property. 48 hours after they notify you of their intention. They are not, however, allowed to randomly decide to wander around your property on Saturday afternoon with no notice. And, if you want to be a real jerk about it, you could still deny them access and adjudicate whether the pins in question are ‘necessary or proper for the purpose of the agency’.

Just because a law enforcement officer tells you something is the law doesn’t mean it’s the law.

Chili Seasoning Blend

Chili Seasoning Blend

Recipe by LisaCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chili spice

  • 1 tsp roasted garlic powder

  • 1 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tsp oregano

  • 1 Tbsp salt

  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper

Method

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until powered.

Notes

  • I use this blend in my chili recipe and as the spice for taco/burrito fillings.

Pants?

A friend pointed out that pants offer a little protection for me, but they are a lot of protection for you … So we can all stop wearing pants now, right? And protesting stores that require customers to wear pants! Freedom! Liberty!

Ink Chromatography Experiment

Materials:

  • Glass vessels – glass cup, graduated cylinder, etc
  • Coffee filter
  • Scissors
  • Shish kabob skewers
  • Water
  • Colored markers – ideally include a few black markers from different companies

Process

  1. Cut the coffee filter into strips
  2. About 1” from the bottom of the strip, put a dot using one of the markers
  3. Skewer the strip at the top and hang over a glass of water
  4. Hang the strip over the glass
  5. Carefully fill the glass with water until it just touches the bottom of the coffee filter strip.
  6. It will take a few minutes for the water to move up the strip. Once the water has finished moving up the strip, take the skewer and strip off the glass. Empty the glass of water, then place the strip and skewer back on the glass to dry.
  7. Notice how different inks are made of different color combinations. Notice different inks carry different distances up the filter strip.

 

Biosecurity and a return to normal

I’ve been hearing a lot, lately, about the “return to normal” — what do you most want to do when we return to normal, when do you think we’ll be returning to normal, what changes do you think they’ll need to make before we can return to normal. And the questions strike me as wrong-footed. Especially as Trump and Pompeo talk about SARS-CoV-2 coming from a lab. Now “came from a lab” doesn’t necessitate malicious intent. The fundamental, longstanding problem I’ve had with gain of function research (the reason I wasn’t at all upset when the Obama administration put thought into the cost and benefits of this research and subsequently dropped government funding for this research and I didn’t think it was a stellar idea to resume funding) is that biosecurity is so difficult. And the spread of this virus highlights how vulnerable we were.

Sure, nation-states have forsworn biological warfare … but that’s not everyone. This release was probably accidental. I don’t say that because of any insider knowledge, but if I wanted to release an infectious disease … I’d have done a better job of infecting people. Get some infectious people at the Super Bowl – eating and drinking downtown, riding the public transit system, walking around the stadium. Or send people to ride mass transit in a few major cities – spend a day riding trains through Waterloo station, a day milling around Grand Central. If there are suicide bombers willing to literally blow themselves up for the cause … it seems like they’d be equally willing to inject themselves with some infectious disease. And the border agents can search whatever they want — the easiest thing in the world to ‘smuggle’ into a country is your own bloodstream. No explosive or drug sniffing dog is going to notice, no aeroport scanner will see anything because there’s basically nothing to find. Unless this is malicious intent with the forethought to make it look accidental (or a different actor framing the ‘obvious’ culprit) … it’s accidental.

The fact no one has done it yet is rather amazing. We’ve demonstrated our susceptibility to biological attack. We’re in the middle of demonstrating our unwillingness to take actions to prevent the spread of a disease. I absolutely believe this is an attack vector that will be exploited in the future. So why would we want to return to the previous “normal”?!