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December 23, 2011

Open thread 168
Posted by Patrick at 07:29 AM *

The Chinese are eager to hear what foreigners think about them, as a nation and a people, to the point of helpfully suggesting essentialist pigeonholes the observer might want to put them into. One prevailing explanation for the countries’ different attitudes is that America has always had a dynamic culture, while China is more tradition-bound. This is a terrible explanation. A 30-year-old Chinese citizen has seen more disruption and change than a 60-year-old American has; a 60-year-old Chinese citizen has seen more than a 200-year-old American would have. It was routine business for the government to rewrite the entire holiday calendar, or outlaw a whole category of motor vehicles, or ban and un-ban particular enterprises or classes of merchandise or kinds of information.
—Tom Scocca, “What Chinese People Are Like

Also, like all civilized people I know that 168 is the next number in the sequence whose previous two numbers are 59, 125 and 145, but how did it escape my notice that Wikipedia has an individual article about every New York City subway station? Of course it does. What was I thinking.

Continued from Open thread 167

Continued in Open Thread 169

Comments on Open thread 168:
#1 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 08:29 AM:

But have the Chinese been to every New York subway station?

#2 ::: Henry Wessells ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 08:34 AM:

But Patrick, that list of stations doesn’t mention “The Sixty-Third Street Station” by Avram Davidson (F&SF, March 1962). Perhaps just as well, as you or I wouldn’t want to end up there.

#3 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:07 AM:

The interesting new Paradise Lust by Brook Wilensky-Lanford includes a chapter on Tse Tsan Tai's hypothesis that the historical Garden of Eden was located in China, in Turkestan, and one on Edmund Landon West's argument in favor of Peebles, OH as the correct site. Not much about subways though.

#4 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:14 AM:

Not only does Wikipedia have articles on every subway station in NYC and DC and pretty much every where else that has a subway at all, it has Category:Disused railway stations in Pomeranian Voivodeship.

#5 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:17 AM:
  1. Previous three stations.
  2. I'm planning to immerse myself in those Wikipedia entries. Around the 2 appointments of the morning, that is. [geek on]
#6 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:19 AM:

"Also, like all civilized people I know that 168 is the next number in the sequence whose previous two numbers are 59, 125 and 145, but how did it escape my notice that Wikipedia has an individual article about every New York City subway station?"

D train riders might dissent from that being the next value in the sequence, of course.

"Elevators connecting the IND platforms and tracks to the mezzanine and the mezzanine to the street make that portion handicapped-accessible."

The "elevator(s) from the mezzanine to the street" is a rather recent addition, no?

#7 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:24 AM:


About to leave on a 13 hour train / plane / train journey from Portland to Long Island.

Twittering from my tablet 'long the way.

#8 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:55 AM:

Think of a prime number. Square it. Take away one (this is one way to 168): it's always divible by (or into, if you must choose 2 or 3) 24....

#9 ::: Jon Marcus ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:56 AM:
...the sequence whose previous two numbers are 59, 125 and 145...
From the comments above, I assume those are street numbers for subway stops. But is the "previous two numbers" referring to a three number list a minor mistake, or some very subtle NY joke that I'm missing?
#10 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 10:03 AM:
...the sequence whose previous two numbers are 59, 125 and 145.

Not British trains, because there's no such thing as a class 145

#11 ::: ma larkey ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 10:35 AM:

open threadiness.
I wrote this when someone said to me that it was hard to find silence in the city.

You can carry silence in the city. Dropping the calls from a bleating phone. Pausing to clasp it to you before you descend into a noisy bus.

You can carry silence in the city. Soft as a child would sleep trusting a shoulder. Fierce as a prisoner would keep his last secret freedom.

You can carry silence in the city. Tucked under your breastbone where you can breathe through it, infuse your veins with it, holding love.

You can carry silence in the city. Pressed to your tongue like a melting sweet. Stinging the throat as the wind winds itself around your legs.

You can carry silence in the city. Wrapped well under your breath. Even as we speak. Curling it between your fingers, flexible steel.
You can carry silence in the city. A hand on the small of your back. Your spine lengthening under the pressure of it, your head floating.
You can carry silence in the city. Swath of sky against your skin. Your hair barely ruffled by the familiar gesture. This particular spot.

You may not unseat this particular protest. No matter there is no voice. No matter that around your wrist, the charm against sadness.

#12 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:16 AM:

Good [insert daily sunlight-related chronological marker] to you. :)

Right now I am in between my old apt in Crystal City, VA and my new digs in Catonsville, MD. I lose the concierge, the garage, and the fancy tapas place across the street but I gain a significant reduction in rent, a return to my beloved home state, and freedom from Northern Virginia traffic.

As I put it elsewhere: "If I never see the intersection of Rt. 7, Rt. 50, Rt. 338, and Wilson Boulevard again, I will be a happy man."

#13 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:32 AM:

Okay, thanks. On a day when I have five million things to do, I just spent an hour and a half wandering through subway stations. This is like crack to a transplanted New Yorker. If the Christmas presents aren't wrapped, I will blame Wikipedia (which will confuse my family deeply).

#14 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:47 AM:

I like the new wider space on the left--makes the various particles easier to read _and_ less scrolling to get to recent comments!


#15 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:57 AM:

A bout a week back, a friend passed on the information that Google Maps could give a route from The Shire to Mordor.

Part-way along the route is Mornington Crescent underground station.

You are also warned that "This route has Tolls"

#16 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 12:02 PM:

*waves to Mad across the Bay* With all due respect, some of us transplanted New Yorkers breathed a sigh of relief when we got to California, and (almost) never look back. The February day I first watched the sunset from Ocean Beach, and realized I had truly found my home, was one of the happiest of my life. And even though California has, in the over forty years that I've lived here, revealed itself to be a dysfunctional and crazy place, I've never regretted the move. (Of course, I was living through my fifth Chicago winter at the time, which indubitably had something to do with the decision...)

This is as good place as any to say, 2011 was a tough year. Not as tough as some, but difficult. I'm glad to see its back. May 2012, despite the anticipated political insanity, be gentler.

Thank you to the community here, which has helped to mitigate the roughness of the last twelve months. I wish you all tidings of comfort and joy, peace on earth, good will, and angel voices when you most need to hear them. Peace be with you, and may your road be filled with light.

#17 ::: Sebastian ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 12:55 PM:

What I find more odd is that Wikipedia also has an article for every station on the Edmonton LRT line. New York, at least, has some global presence...

Antonia T Tiger @15: Trolls, surely.

#18 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 01:03 PM:

ma larkey @11 I like that.

I had to look back to see what thread I was reading; this connects for me to the discussion over on the (majorly topic-shifted) Regretsy & Paypal thread, where we'd been talking about the mystical in the everyday.

#19 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 01:11 PM:

GoDaddy backs SOPA; Internet supporters organize a boycott.

I'll be moving my domain registration later today, and letting them know why. December 29 be damned.

#20 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 01:13 PM:

A little too funny and generalized for Dysfunctional Family Day:

Coworker #1: You should try individual therapy before group therapy.
Coworker #2: Who needs to know about therapy? I'm the queen of therapy. I was in therapy my whole childhood.
Coworker #1: Dude...why were you in therapy your entire childhood? Were you killing kittens?
Coworker #2: You know how some people have parents who say, "I'm should put on a sweater"?

#21 ::: Chino Blanco ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 01:30 PM:

I'm confused. I assumed 168 ( 一六八 ) was referring to the Mandarin number combination that sounds like "eternal fortune" ... Anyway, there's a (terrible) all-you-can-eat buffet chain in Taiwan by the same name.

#22 ::: Marty In Boise ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 20; also, a charming link from that conversation, about Cats at Sea. Like the person who linked it originally, I loved the story of Oscar:

Oscar was rescued from the wreckage of the German battleship Bismarck by the HMS Cossack. They adopted him as their ship's cat, until, five months later, the Cossack too was sunk. Oscar survived, and was transferred to the HMS Ark Royal... which was sunk two weeks later. This time, Oscar was found clinging to a floating board 'angry, but quite unharmed.' He was renamed 'Unsinkable Sam', and retired to Belfast, where he eventually died, ten years after the end of the war, of old age.

The switch from "Oscar" to "Sam" strikes me as rather arbitrary, but since cats pay no attention to the names humans give them, it's probably OK.

#23 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 02:04 PM:

Antonia T Tiger 15:

Also check out the review of The Two Towers. In this context, it's hilarious, clearly the place is run by orcs.

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 02:22 PM:

We strain to hear the music of new light
within each heart; to tell the truth of strain
as we rebuild the castle once again
on land of hope with chances maybe slight.
Indifferent between horror and delight
in a swift race to beat the winter rain
and certain that the walls won't keep out pain
but may succeed at shelter from the night.
Our hope is simple: out there in the cold
no one survives, so if we can defend
against the dark some little may endure;
to do all this we must stay sharp and bold
from the harsh start right to the tawdry end
for the one golden gift we can secure.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 02:22 PM:

Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) #1: Perhaps they have.

#26 ::: Rob Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 03:18 PM:

Evidently you can use public transit to get from the Shire to Mordor. How much does it cost if you want to transfer over to the giant eagles?

#27 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 03:40 PM:

Lee #19: Seems they've backed down already (there's an update at your link). Up to you whether you want to match them....

Here's a PDF listing SOPA supporters (still including GoDaddy) from the Justice Department.

It's an interesting list: Besides the "obvious suspects" of content producers, sports leagues (which probably count as content producers), and a handful of likely lobbyist outfits, there are several law-enforcement groups and quite a few law firms.

#28 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 04:28 PM:

I was pleased to see that MLS wasn't listed, although at a guess that's probably got more to do with not being able to do much about it if they wanted to.

Madeleine Robins @13:
Just carry The Problem With Wikipedia with you....

#29 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 04:32 PM:


Got moved on the 19th, thanks to the same-day help of my next-door neighbor (both his help and that of the guy he hired to help me do the last of the packing), the neighbors behind me (who took my last load to storage...but who managed to wind up with almost all my liquor, not to mention a few other things that wound up in their driveway so it would be off the property I was vacating, thus allowing bank guy to give me my check), and bank guy himself. Who, of course, took one more opportunity to proselytize to me (and hand me a copy of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity as a parting gift). Egad.

But I got my check, and cashed it. And two of the cats have a new home. (Blog post (here) has been updated to reflect who's been adopted.) And there's more, of course, including rants and raves and tears and chuckles and hope.

Many thanks. Many many many thanks to you all.

May your holidays be absolutely wonderful. :)

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 05:10 PM:

I spent yesterday afternoon (and part of this morning) moving plants from LA to Fallbrook. I hope the plants are happy in their new home; some of them really need to be planted in the ground. (In a month or two, I think. Because I'll need a long weekend to do it in.)

#31 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 06:05 PM:

@29: Avocados or weed?

#32 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 06:20 PM:

Syd @ #28

Hurrah! May you have a wonderful Christmas and a vastly improved New Year.

#33 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 06:31 PM:

Congratulations, Syd! May the next part be much easier for you.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 06:36 PM:

Rhubarb. And a couple of cactus plants that want to be larger (one is still a baby at something over 20 years old). The rest are fine in their pots.

#35 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 06:52 PM:

Melissa Singer @14: I like the new wider space on the left--makes the various particles easier to read _and_ less scrolling to get to recent comments!

Huh. Didn't even notice when I bobbed up to the surface to check for new posts. Very nice! (I use a narrowed window to read ML, anyway, so this makes that easier, too.)

Lee @19: GoDaddy backs SOPA

Damn. I just signed on a five-year subscription with them. How does one move an account? Do I lose the money I've already paid them?

Syd, somewhat disguised @28: Yay! Having moved is a vast improvement over planning to move!

WRT cats: how are interested people to contact you? I'm notoriously dumb about these things, but I don't see an obvious contact on your web page.

I ask, because I contacted a friend of a friend in LA, and he said he's going to put a note on the LASFS facebook page and contact the club president to announce at the regular meeting.

#36 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 07:28 PM:

A little Christmas noir cheer for you all, with sub-titles for non-Abi types: The Bloody Olive.

#37 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 07:41 PM:

I'm constantly amazed by the, let's call it fine grain attention to detail one sometimes finds in Wikipedia. For instance, I recently found this exhaustive list of defunct auto makers and the cars they manufactured. It's a nice resource for someone writing, say, an alternate history novel and looking for some fine details to make it a little more alternate than just prematurely deceased dictators and fancy names for radio transmitters.

#38 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 07:44 PM:

At a Whole Foods—in New York, no less!

#39 ::: DanR ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 07:51 PM:

Stumbled on this quote today... seems like there's a jewel or two on every page with old Longhorn:

"The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I may have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two."

-- Twain, Roughing it

#40 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 08:12 PM:

Syd @28 So glad to hear it! All the best to you.

#41 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 08:48 PM:

Also, trying very hard not to lose my temper on another site, in a "commonly misspelled words" thread, where one guy is saying that he spells 'definitely' the way it sounds ("definately") and that that spelling is better anyway and he doesn't care who it "irks" to have him spell it that way.



#42 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:20 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue #37: Oy Gevalt! Well, I had my latkes this year....

Earlier this year, a Whole Foods opened up right next to my development. I still haven't set foot inside, and I'm not even boycotting them or anything....

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:32 PM:

Acquisitive "help" sucks... I hope you didn't lose anything too important.

The proselytizing bank dude is worth an eye-roll too, but hey, anything by C.S. Lewis is better than a random pamphlet, much less a "you must read the" Bible.

Here's hoping things go smoother from here on in....

#44 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:36 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @35, that was brilliant! Must go share ...

#45 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 09:40 PM:

Syd: glad to hear of the move and that the first of the cats have found new homes. may next year be much, much better.

Xopher: some people I know put matzo meal in their latkes (though only a little bit), and I for one eat matzo all year round, but yeah, Whole Foods doesn't quite get it.

#46 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 10:23 PM:

Is it January February yet?

After three weeks of variable discomfort both physical and psychological, I've scheduled the gallbladder surgery in January. I still have an enormous DO NOT WANT TO, but I've pulled up my big girl pants and got on with it.

I am getting bored with pretzels, pickles and raw fruit and veg, but at least I have found things to eat at holiday parties that don't make me sick.

Very frustrated with my MIL in ways that tie back to both the DFD thread and the Regretsy thread (personal agency and mother-in-law's utter lack of respect for - nay, total obliviousness to - same.)

#47 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:27 PM:

Me: I could've told him that.
Chris: Well, you go tell him that you could've told him that. Hey, wait. Every station? Including Bushwick and Aberdeen on the L?
Me: <click>, <click>
Chris: Yeah, OK, but how much of a---
Me: <click>
Chris: Holy mackarel, that's a lot more than I'd've expected. In two years of riding the L to school every day, I saw maybe half a dozen people on the platform.

Meanwhile, my current favorite Wikipedia page is this one.

#48 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2011, 11:34 PM:

btw, the Wikipedia entries on the subway stations closest to my home are correct.

the mta claims that one of the stations will be made ada-compliant by the installation of elevators, but projected completion is late 2013, which might as well be never . . . .

however, elevators would be v. cool there!

#49 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Thanks for that link to your favorite Wikipedia page, Avram. It's now my favorite as well.

#50 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:04 AM:

Thena @45: Good luck on the gall bladder! If it helps any, you're quite likely to get the laparoscopic version nowadays instead of the carve-you-open one; the former is where they poke a few small holes - five, in my case, nearly a decade back - and put small tubes in through those and do it all through the tubes. It makes it much easier and quicker to heal up afterwards. I was up and walking around within a couple days, though I did have this little squeeze-bulb hanging off my side for a week or two, collecting some sort of straw-colored fluid... and having the gallstones out, even if they were soft mushy ones, was MUCH BETTER than having them in there saying "You say OW now and fall to floor curled up, yes ok?".

Good luck with the MIL as well! (It sounds like you may want to, if at ALL possible, not have her anywhere near being one of your caregivers after the operation?)


#51 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 01:01 AM:

Xopher, #37: Doesn't surprise me. Whole Foods is based out of Austin, TX. It would be an exaggeration to say that what Texans know about Jews is summed up in the words "Kinky Friedman"... but not by much.

#52 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 01:29 AM:

Syd @ 28

That's fantastic! I'm so glad to hear that everything seems to have gone right!

#53 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:07 AM:

I think the thing which impresses me about Wikipedia is that it contains a list of all the railway stations in my capital city (Perth, Western Australia) including a rather comprehensive description of the station nearest to where I live (bus routes and all - about the only thing missing is a list of departure times for all relevant services).

Given Perth isn't that big a city (we come in 4th out of 8 possible capitals) with 1.7 million people or thereabouts I find it almost charming that we have individual articles about our railway stations. Including some of the closed stations.

#54 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:29 AM:

Aphorism for today: Do not put your trust in iPhoto, for the support forum is full of threads about 'how do I rebuild my library?'

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:29 AM:

Need something cool to look at?

How about: Hassan Massoudy

... or perhaps Julien Breton (speaking of Making Light)

#56 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:46 AM:

... or, go straight to the source

#57 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 03:22 AM:

(Transplanted sideways from DFD thread II)

My own instinctive reaction to the various "Christmas" songs which hit the shopping centre airwaves here in Australia from about mid-November through to about mid-January is to flinch. Of course, at least part of that is due to ten years of working retail (which means the songs themselves make my brain immediately dig up the memory of sore feet, sore lower legs, and generalised tiredness in the smile muscles). Another big part of it is because we've got a generalised import of US culture-specific stuff.

There's nothing quite like listening to "Frosty the Snowman", "Walking In A Winter Wonderland", "White Christmas", or "Jingle Bells" (to name a few of the more egregious offenders) all day while you're working, and then stepping out of the airconditioning into the physical slap of heat you get from a large area of unshaded tarmac which has been sitting in the full Australian sun all blinkin' day (it doesn't matter how mild the weather has been, that carpark is still going to be radiating something like an extra 10 - 15C worth of heat into the surrounding airspace). Really brings it home that you're living in the "wrong" hemisphere for the season...[1]

My revenge is having a lot of more sceptical Christmas songs in my personal mix:

* The St Stephen's Day Murders (Elvis Costello and the Chieftains)
* The Rebel Jesus (Jackson Browne)
* Jolly Old Christmas Time (Weddings Parties Anything)
* A Christmas Song (Jethro Tull)
* Fairytale of New York (Kirsty McColl and the Pogues)
* A Christmas Carol (Tom Lehrer)
* The Galaxy Song (Monty Python's Flying Circus crew)
* Home and Broken Hearted (Cold Chisel)

This is interspersed with the more traditional carols, and the occasional Australian carol, and never a mention of Frosty the Fscking Snowman, Winter Wonderlands, or one-horse Sleighs to be found.

I can't be the only person who does this, surely? What favourites do other folks have to remove at least some of the saccharine from the seasonal music overlay?

[1] Never mind that the vast majority of Australia doesn't see snow even in the coldest of winters (I saw it approximately twice in eight years of living in Canbrrra, and never before or since).

PS: Lyrics available for these on request.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:14 AM:

Wikipedia contains entries for every mass transit station in Atlanta as well.

#59 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 07:11 AM:

Megpie71 #56: I aways liked "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"...

#60 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 08:07 AM:

Hmm, on the Christmas music front:

Simon & Garfunkel's blend of Silent Night/Nine o'clock news.
Greg Lake's "I believe in Father Christmas". (The Emerson, Lake & Palmer rework is not as good IMO.)

And for the lovers of one horse open sleighs:


Anyone planning to dash through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, going over the fields and laughing all the way are advised that a Risk Assessment will be required addressing the safety of an open sleigh for members of the public. This assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly where there are multiple passengers.

Please note that permission must also be obtained in writing from landowners before their fields may be entered. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

Benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available for collection by any shepherds planning or required to watch their flocks at night. While provision has also been made for remote monitoring of flocks by CCTV cameras from a centrally heated shepherd observation hut, all users of this facility are reminded that an emergency response plan must be submitted to account for known risks to the flocks.

The angel of the Lord is additionally reminded that, prior to shining his/her glory all around, s/he must confirm that all shepherds are wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment to account for the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and the overwhelming effects of Glory.

Following last year’s well-publicised case, everyone is advised that Equal Opportunities legislation prohibits any comment with regard to the redness of any part of Mr R Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr R Reindeer from reindeer games will be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence.

While it is acknowledged that gift bearing is a common practice in various parts of the world, particularly the Orient, everyone is reminded that the bearing of gifts is subject to Hospitality Guidelines and all gifts must be registered. This applies regardless of the individual, even royal personages. It is particularly noted that direct gifts of currency or gold are specifically precluded, while caution is advised regarding other common gifts such as aromatic resins that may evoke allergic reactions.

Finally, in the recent instance of the infant found tucked up in a manger without any crib for a bed, Social Services have been advised and will be arriving shortly.

a) Per the case of Blake v DPP [1993] Crim LR 587 'God' is not a 'person' capable of giving permission or consent* - as such, despite being called 'the angel of the lord', he/she/it would remain solely accountable for any damage/destruction of property belonging to another caused by the effects of the aforementioned Glory and would likely be charged with criminal damage were any such damage/destruction to occur.

B) Should the operators of this vehicle wish the practise to continue beyond the sole event, perhaps on an annual basis, it is suggested that the correct formalities should be followed for the creation of a quasi-easement. Furthermore it is suggested that the landowner discharge the Common Duty of Care provided in the Occupiers' Liability Act 1957 by requiring and ensuring the provision of written notice by the sleigh-riders as to their willing acceptance of any risks posed by the land itself.

(Not original to this moose, of course.)

#61 ::: E. Liddell ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 08:30 AM:

Wikipedia has articles on some of the damndest and most pointless things, like highways that are essentially shortcuts through the middle of nowhere. (Note: the photography on that page shows much wider shoulders than I remember that road having when they raised the speed limit to its current level—they used to slope at such an angle that pulling over was likely to land you in the ditch.) I consider this part of Wikipedia's dubious charm.

As for Christmas carols . . . ick. Most of the popular secular carols are exactly the sort of sickly-sweet-upbeat music that makes me want to throw up. Oddly, the religious ones are less of a problem for me (even though I'm not religious), possibly because they don't seem to be trying so hard to push happiness on the listener. If I could erase "Frosty the Snowman" and its ilk from the world, I would do so with no regret.

#62 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 09:16 AM:

AKICIML: Can someone explain "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" to me--well, to my teenager, who does not understand how that is a "happy Christmas song"? Does everyone get that it's parody? Or is it sort of serious? My kid is just weirded out by that song, and the fact that there's an animated version adds to the creeps. I confess I don't fully understand it myself, so I'm askin'.

#63 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 09:50 AM:

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" must be one of those shibboleth things like the ability to curl your tongue or taste cilantro as soap. My ex loved it; I never understood the appeal. It just seemed pointlessly mean-spirited and not all that funny. In fact he bought a whole album of "Christmas" songs by the same artists. (And that may tell you everything you need to know right there.)

Here are two good somewhat non-traditional seasonal songs from my a capella collection: "Saturnalia Smile" by The House Jacks and the unexpectedly bouncy "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Rockapella. Jethro Tull's "Solstice Bells" gets a lot of play here this time of year, too.

#64 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 10:04 AM:

I don't understand the popularity of Christmas songs containing lots of snow, either. (Snow is nice to look at, terrible to travel in.) I think they're an invention of people homesick for the northeast in winter in the 19th century.
(Los Angeles in December might not be as hot as Australia, but it isn't usually seeing snow below 1500m either.)

#65 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 11:11 AM:

I've spoken of my feelings about Christmas music before. Megpie71, I heartily approve of your list, and would like to add the Kinks' "Father Christmas" to it, in addition to seconding the recommendation for Greg Lake's song.

I also have to declare myself baffled by upbeat versions of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." In my head, the only version is Judy Garland's, and her wistful delivery is so at odds with the lyrics that it adds a welcome sense of "I am singing this hoping that it will be true, but it's so very much NOT." Rather in line with the yearning in "Over the Rainbow." I appreciate that. Upbeat versions spoil that for me.

Don't mind me, I'll just be listening to Alison Moyet's performance of the Coventry Carol again. Ethereal and gloomy, just the way I like it.

#67 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 11:59 AM:

Melissa Singer #61: I think it's just the ridiculousness of taking the stories too literally, kind of like NORAD tracking the sleigh. Also the juxtaposition of the bouncy music with the bizarre/tragic scenario.

As for the animated special, some folks will try to milk anything for a buck. (So to speak....)

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:07 PM:

I heard a version of 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' last year, done with backing heavy on brass and percussion and a singer whose voice sounded like there'd been a lot of booze and cigarettes in its past. (For some reason, I was getting visions of elves in sequins and pasties....)

#69 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:09 PM:

I strongly dislike secular Christmas music: I very much like what I think of as "real" Christmas carols, (especially, I like to sing them), but the canned store music makes me want to flee the stores. Surely not the reaction they want.

This morning I listened to Byzantine Orthodox Vespers. Lovely.

Eating oatmeal with butter and honey. Oh, so good.

#70 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:10 PM:

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" is indelibly associated for me with several years when my husband and I drove from New Orleans, where we lived at the time, to Maryland for Christmas with family. It's about 24 hours of driving, and we did it straight through. (Much younger then.) So, mentally, I hear "Grandma" and "Randolph the Bow-legged Cowboy" on AM radio at about 4 in the morning while driving down the interstate in Tennessee. It's sufficiently surreal for the song to need no excuse or explanation.

I sang for the holidays this year with a women's barbershop chorus. Our repertoire did a pretty good job of mixing it up - a couple of religious-themed Christmas songs, a Channukah song, one called "Celebrate With Light" that mentions Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Channukah, a few secular Christmas like White Christmas and "All I Want for Christmas is You", a few seasonal things like Jingle Bells and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve". But I'll have to look at Janet Brennan Croft's a capella list. I'd love to hear our basses singing the Grinch.

#71 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:20 PM:

P J Evans @67:

Was it perchance the Bruce Springsteen version?

#72 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:23 PM:

P J Evans @63: I've been amidst writing a winter song about all the things winter is to ME, personally … I've worked up to a verse and a chorus, and there I am currently stuck. I could record a scratch track with the tune and scansion, if anyone's actually interested.

There are songs of winter's beauties
Jingle bells and country joys.
In the city, snow brings duties:
We get out tools instead of toys.
We go out and shovel sidewalks,
Wade to work through knee-deep slush;
No, I've never been on a snowy sleigh ride …
But who cares? I'm in no great rush!

Oh, city winters!
When the streets are white with salt and not with snow.
Oh, city winters!
Though the wind bites deep, I know I'll never go.

#73 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:24 PM:

Rikibeth, I don't know. It was on the radio and I didn't catch a name (I think they were playing strings of stuff).

#74 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:26 PM:

P J, that's why I linked a video, so you could listen and see if it sounded similar!

The Springsteen version is a rock-radio staple, so that's my guess, anyway. I kind of like it, in small doses.

#75 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Rikibeth @65: I'm visiting my in-laws in Florida for the holidays, and it's surreal enough to wear flip-flops to a farmer's market on Christmas Eve without encountering a man playing a rollicking "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on the steel drums.

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" always sounds like a knockoff to me because somehow what I heard first was the parody version about New Kids on the Block.

As for new Christmas favorites, I would highly recommend the soundtrack to Stephen Colbert's Christmas special, especially the surprisingly touching "There Are Much Worse Things to Believe In," about the conscious choice of faith (however implausible) over cynicism (however well founded).

For something classical, Daniel Pinkham's lovely and not saccharine Christmas Cantata.

#76 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 01:26 PM:

I'm a holiday music addict, but here are some of the less-traditional items in my holiday collections:

TSO's Wizards in Winter
I Believe In Father Christmas- Greg Lake
A Winter's Tale- David Essex
Mistletoe and Wine and Saviour's Day- Cliff Richards
A Spaceman Came Traveling- Chris deBurgh
Walking In The Air- Aled Jones
Stop The Cavalry- Jona Lewie
Ring Out Solstice Bells- Jethro Tull
Inkanyezi Nazai- Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Gaudette- Steeleye Span
The Marvelous Toy- Peter, Paul + Mary
Hanukkah Blessings- Barenaked Ladies
River- James Taylor
Thankful- Josh Groban
Spiritual Medley- Nnenna Frelon
Christmas Can-Can- Straight No Chaser

#77 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 01:36 PM:

Lylassandra @30 -- is it necessarily even an either-or thing?

#78 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 01:54 PM:

Re: Xmas/Holiday music--

My wife and I have been enjoying a couple compilations of traditional and modern holiday music, as done by dark wave/industrial musicians: A Dark Noel, vol. 1 and 2 and Excelsis (omitting links to Amazon, as I'm neither SPAM nor an add bot, really). Good stuff though.

#79 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:37 PM:

I'll second Melissa's recommendation for "Wizards In Winter". Just heard it for the first time a few days ago, and it's on my want list now.

#80 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:55 PM:

Melissa Mead -- I prefer Tom Paxton's original version of "The Marvelous Toy", myself. But then, I usually like the author's version of songs....

Megpie71 @56 -- nothing to add, but I really like the six (of eight) of those songs that I've heard. The WPA song is especially good (and I'm not even Australian!). (I don't feel I know them well enough to call them the Weddoes....)

#81 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:57 PM:

We've been listening to renditions of Spanish medieval and Renaissance music, recorded in those magnificent baroque 16th and 17th century cathedrals.

And Cuban boleros.

Himself is sick-O, i.e., he's crashed and burned from running-pushing-stressing so hard for so long, plus caught cold, so we're very lowkey this weekend, far more lowkey than we'd planned. But that's just fine. I just served him breakfast in bed ....

Love, C.

#82 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 02:59 PM:

Always have enjoyed singing"God Rest Ye Merry" when it has been my lot to do so.

#83 ::: little pink beast ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 04:52 PM:

Jethro Tull's already been mentioned, but the one I listen to around now is "Jack Frost and the Hoodie Crow".

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Not that version, anyway. Wasn't that style, that I can recall.

#85 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:03 PM:

For skeptical southern hemisphere Christmas songs, there's nothing better than Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun".

#86 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:18 PM:

Cadbury @59

I also have the Simon & Garfunkel "Silent Night/7 O'Clock News" fusion on my list.

E.Liddell @60

There are reasons why I resist going back into retail with every fibre of my being. Having never to work in an environment where I am required as a condition of my employment to smile at people through eight hours a day of saccharine US winter festival songs is one of them. I have no problems with the traditional Christmas carols because they're generally much more solemn and serious (if you stop and listen to the lyrics), and those which aren't about the birth of Christ (such as the Boar's Head Carol or the Gloucestershire Wassail) are about the serious business of celebrating and feasting.

Rikibeth @64

I'm another fan of the Judy Garland version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - that song loses a lot of the saccharine when it's actually sung in the appropriate context (in the musical "Meet Me In St Louis") and it turns out to be a very miserable and unhappy little song about enjoying the togetherness of this Christmas and hoping for the family reunion of next Christmas, because the minute the festive season is over, the family is going to be split up and moving across country due to Daddy having received a promotion.

Melissa Mead @75

"A Spaceman Came Travelling" is on my list too. I tend to count that as being more of a "traditional carol" style of song.

Tom Whitmore @79

My personal favourite of all of them is "The St Stephen's Day Murders". There's nothing quite like a happy little song about the joys of a family Christmas; "Jolly Old Christmas Time" is a strong second place as another version of same.

#87 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:27 PM:

I heard "White Wine in the Sun" for the first time last year. This year it was added to my "Best of Christmas" playlist, alongside other things both traditional and modern. I have a taste for early-music carols and instrumental versions. My favorite Christmas album would be a toss-up between the Roches' "We Three Kings", Golden Bough's "Winter's Dance", and a very odd one called "Christmas Strings" which is a small string orchestra playing arrangements of well-known carols in the styles of various classical composers. "O Tannenbaum" as if arranged by Johann Strauss, "Deck The Halls" as if arranged by Aaron Copland, that sort of thing.

The two songs I would love never to hear again are "Santa Baby" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside"; the former is skanky and the latter has IMO replaced "In The Summertime" as the all-time-worst date-rape song.

#88 ::: Syd, Somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:29 PM:

Jacque @ 34, in the body of the blog post, I suggest folks leave me their contact info in a comment; since I moderate them, I can pull the info without revealing it to the entire blogosphere.

Perhaps I should move that idea up into the updates at the beginning of the post...

#89 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:40 PM:

So it's half past midnight here, and I can rightfully wish a merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it, and a very peaceful and pleasant December 25th to all.

Now I have to go to bed -- the kids want their presents in the morning.

#90 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 06:48 PM:

Merry Christmas, abi! And all others of my Christian or otherwise-Christmas-celebrating friends.

#91 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 07:05 PM:

Merry Christmas, abi et al.

Happy Solstice a couple days late.

Happy 5th night of Hanukkah.

Happy last day of Pancha Ganapati.

Joyous day, to anybody I missed.

#92 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 07:16 PM:

Syd: Really glad to hear that the last part of the moving happened and that the bank guy didn't manage to find any reason not to give you the cheque. Also that the cat adoption process (since it is necessary in the circumstances) has begun.

Hoping this will lead to a better year ahead.

And Happy Chanukah / Merry Christmas / Joyous Winter Festival of your choice to you all!

#93 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 08:23 PM:

Melissa Singer @62, I just tried reviewing the lyrics to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" in my head, and discovered that they're inextricably entwined (entdraughted?) with those for "Gandalf Got Molested by a Balrog". ("...walking through the mines one summer's eve. You can say such things are only legend, but me and Master Frodo, we believe.")

#94 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 09:11 PM:

Since people are linking Christmas songs, here's a few more from Abney Park, link.

#95 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 09:16 PM:

I like the U2 version of "I Believe in Father Christmas" I found on Youtube. Also the Cory Band version of "Stop the Cavalry", even though the words did not quite make sense. There are a lot of lyrics out there that do not quite make sense. But I've always been all about the tunes.
I never much liked the one about Grandma being run over by a reindeer, as it smelled of the cultural tradition of wives being a ball-and-chain that husbands want to get rid of. I felt a bit better when the twisted-tunes people came out with "Osama Got Run Over By A Reindeer".
If the "In the Summertime" song that Lee refers to is the one by Mungo Jerry, I recall hearing that one in 1970 and thinking it should be "if her daddy's poor, take her out for a meal"--that is, seeing it as a classist rather than rapist scenario, but the intervening decades have not increased my fondness for that song.
My favorite radio station, a classical one, is keeping up its tradition of playing things new to me that I really like but which will probably turn out to be rare and/or out of print. Still, I wandered into a Half Price Books a while back and there was a disc I'd been hunting for 20 years, so who knows?
Syd--I am glad things seem to be looking up, and hope they continue to do so, for you and for all of us in the year[s] ahead.

#96 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 10:38 PM:

I can recommend "Christmas in Seattle" by Stan Boreson

#97 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 11:17 PM:

I'll offer Annie Lennox's take on one Christmas standard. It'll give you ever-after visuals that probably weren't the ones you originally had... (Yes, that does appear to be a thyrsus.)

Our barbershop chorus had its show a couple weeks ago, and it went very well. (Especially considering the amount of preparation we were able to put into it beforehand, both for us and for the Youth Chorus we shared it with.) Nobody fell off the risers, or onto one of the trees; none of the handbells got flung across the stage, the costume changes went well, and nobody who had lines forgot them... and the music was good too.

HLXmasMusic: For perhaps-obvious reasons, "Tender Tennessee Christmas" gets a lot of play around here. I mean a LOT. The reasons for the frequency of "Christmas Shoes" are less obvious to me, since it's apparently NOT a Dolly song.

A Merry Christmas to all; fear not... and wild and sweet the words repeat / of peace on earth, good will to men!


#98 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2011, 11:47 PM:

Lee@87, another big Yay! for the Roches' Christmas album; I think it's the only one I own.

For me, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" is square-dance music, but then, so are the Monty Python Galaxy Song, the German version of the Muppet Show music, Walk Like an Egyptian, and a range of other tunes.

#99 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 01:40 AM:

Megpie71 @86 -- I was reminded of Jonathan Colton's Chiron Beta Prime by some folks at dinner. It's one of the better alternative Christmas songs I've run across recently.

#100 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 02:50 AM:

Despite being generally allergic to retail-grade Xmas music and a lapsed Pagan besides, I nevertheless have fond memories of the album of Christmas music my parents had done by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. "Oh Holy Night" was a particular favorite.

#101 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 04:13 AM:

David DeLaney @ 96: Best Christmas video ever. Wow, that is some noble offering!

And a very Merry Christmas to one and all; whether it be the Christmas that is merry for you, or simply the new day itself. And equal good wishes for every other kindly festival and friendly gathering!

#102 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 09:59 AM:

Megpie71 @ #57:

For Australian carols, I have a soft spot for the North Wind carol:

The north wind is tossing the leaves
The red dust is over the town
The sparrows are under the eaves
And the grass in the paddock is brown...

Megpie again @ #86 & Rikibeth @ #65:

I also prefer the Judy Garland version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". I note that in my experience, the upbeat versions aren't just a matter of delivery: the lyrics are different, too. There's apparently a standard alternative version of the lyrics where the prospect of a merry Christmas is much more immediate and certain than it was for Judy.


I wish that the season may bring you comfort and joy, and that the new year may be an improvement on the old.

#103 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 10:23 AM:

Also, I was recently introduced to Spike Jones and His City Slickers' rendition of "Jingle Bells". It has a lot of verses that aren't in the original (one, since the subject's already been mentioned, concerns the lack of snow in California). For some reason, this verse particularly struck me:

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way
We've got no gas to run the car, so we'll hitch up the sleigh
Off we go to grandma's house, singing all the way
But grandma ain't at home: she's working swing-shift hours today

#104 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 12:17 PM:

Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating it, and best of the season to the rest of you.

#105 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 12:27 PM:

A Christmas song from Doctor Who.

Let's see. My favorite Christmas albums are John Denver & the Muppets, all of Trans-Siberian Orchestra (with a particular fondness for "What Is Christmas?"), instrumental versions like Gary Hoey's Ho Ho Hoey collection, classical albums, and the like. Vince Guaraldi (the Peanuts specials) is also good. I avoid many of the secular songs like the plague unless they're instrumental.

A number of years ago, I wrote a snarky Christmas song making fun of Christmas songs. It's deliberately in the same style that it's mocking. Since we're finally going to be able to set up a good recording studio next year, I might corral a bunch of my vocalist friends to record it. Some of the text is here.

#106 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 02:13 PM:

David DeLaney @ 96 -

That is a wonderful video! It's one of my favorites now.

And Merry Christmas and joyous holidays to everyone!

#107 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 11:10 PM:

I was just at a family gathering, with Christmas music on the player. I found myself revolted by the Three Tenners, or whatever (they were Three Somethings: ever since the Three Tenors, it has to be Three of something), and the shmaltz of overproduced Christmas stuff, where each and every traditional carol has to lead up to some kind of ultimate climax. I hid in the bathroom for a little while and contemplated a version of "Silent Night" with trumpet calls and gradually rising strings, voices, brasses, and percussion and wondered if people would know it as a reductio ad absurdam of the usual stuff, or if it would be added to the accretion. Hell, I was even antsy to be done listening to Nat King Cole. NAT KING COLE, man! When we left, I listened to Liszt's Totentanz. Twice. Just trying to get that out of my head.

As to what I like, I like carols that don't try to be operas. I like playing carols on the piano, and the ones I like best are "Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow," "O Holy Night," "The Birthday of a King," "In Dulci Jubilo," "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and others from Henry W. Simon's treasury of Christmas songs and carols — well chosen, nicely arranged, aptly illustrated, and with a paragraph or two on the origin of the piece.

What I really don't need are the "Baby, Baby" "hip" versions of carols and Christmas songs. They're just not to my taste, even though I don't mind hearing the same style of music in non-Christmas settings. For that matter, the ones that purport to be "in the style of" various classical composers also get pretty much left alone by me.

I watched myself today, now and then. Boy, what a sourpuss. But I couldn't stop.

#108 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 11:15 PM:

The sidelight by Adam Roberts was a good read. I read his parody of The Hobbit after finding a copy in England, however many years ago that was, and thought it was a bit better than it had to be. Instead of just a grubby parody that followed the story (like Bored of the Rings, which I persist in liking anyway), it had its own interesting ideas and concepts, which I wouldn't spoil for anybody. I ended up even thinking about it a bit afterward.

Naturally, I now dread the movie. It's one thing to treat LoTR as a massive epic, but doing the same to The Hobbit just seems wrong, and I'll bet that's what's going to happen. (On the other hand, I'm cautiously looking forward to the Tintin movie, even if I have to try not to think about the real Tintin when I'm watching it. I should watch the unofficial titles for that again — they always make me feel better.)

#109 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2011, 11:53 PM:

I know, I never call, I never write, and you never hear from me unless I have a question or something.

Sorry; you who are on my friends list know I'm pretty much like that with everyone these days.

Anyway, a small problem, which as it presented itself was automatically coupled with "people at Making Light will know." I received as a Christmas gift a copy of The Book of the Hamburgs: A brief treatise upon the mating, rearing, and management of the varieties of Hamburgs[1886] by L. Frank Baum , a slim and nastily bound thing from the Cornell University Library Digital Collections. I've handled the 1993 hardbound replica, lusted after it, and been unable to afford it; I do not want this object to fall to bits before I can in some rosy future day replace it with the real thing.

The paper and scanning are OK, but the glue spine is...not flat, and the shiny cardstock cover is neither properly seated nor big enough to protect the edge of the pages at all. Sort of building a tightly fitting box and never reading it, is there a way to manipulate this into an acceptable book and make it less likely to fall to bits? (Given exacto knives, bristol board, various clamps, other materials as instructed and some facility with those tools).

Because I will want to read it, frequently: it's Baum! It's Baum writing on a breed of chicken he loved in precisely the same authorial voice which described the contrivance and flight of the Gump. It's the chickens I love (and have joked about starting a religion around) with their history and quirks laid out as if they were Woozies or the Highly Educated Wogglebug TE. It's a bright little flame in a sorry cracked lantern, and I wish to keep it alive for a bit.

(People who bind books so badly don't seem to understand books at all).

#110 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 12:01 AM:

JESR @ 109 ...
The paper and scanning are OK, but the glue spine is...not flat, and the shiny cardstock cover is neither properly seated nor big enough to protect the edge of the pages at all. Sort of building a tightly fitting box and never reading it, is there a way to manipulate this into an acceptable book and make it less likely to fall to bits? (Given exacto knives, bristol board, various clamps, other materials as instructed and some facility with those tools).

It's not exactly lovely, but there's something to be said for the practicality of a binder with plastic sleeves...

#111 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 12:17 AM:

xeger, if driven to it- but I hate the feel of plastic, and binders, in general, don't do well on my shelves.

#112 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 03:02 AM:

And on the "gaaah" list, did I mention the _soft-rock_ version of Jingle Bell Rock I was subjected to in my workplace's bathroom last week? No? Oy.

--Dave, some things are Just Wrong

#113 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 04:53 AM:

Joists to the world
The ceiling fell
Put plastic sheets above!
And hope it doesn't snow
And hope it doesn't snow
Or else the house will flood
Or else the house will flood
And water will cover and rot your stuff.

Joists to the world,
And brace them well
Keep bearing walls intact!
And careful with the plaster
And careful with the plaster
And even out the seams
And even out the seams
And even, oh even out the seams!

Joists to the world,
And caulk all well
Don't let the air through cracks!
For daylight marks roof leaks
For daylight marks roof leaks
And mold and rot will come
And mold and rot will come
And mold and rot and rot will come.

Joists to the world,
It's frame up time.
And season noise retreats.
It's after Christmas Day
It's after Christmas Day
And now we have a stay,
And now we have stay
From seasonal song noise now goes away!

#114 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 06:14 AM:

JESR #109: I can't help with the bookbinding, but may I comment that until your penultimate paragraph, I was imagining this as a mocking history of a European Royal line? ("Dave, that's Hapsburgs." <THWACK> "Ouch." </Serge ;->)

And yeah, a POD outfit usually doesn't think of books as books... they're just merchandise, turned out on the cheap. In cases like this, you'd think they were secret partisans for E-books....

Paula #113: Eeek! Happy house-hacking... or house hunting!

#115 ::: :Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 07:45 AM:

#114 David

As far as I am aware the joists of my house are okay. It was the seasonal eeccchhh music overdaose that inspired "Joist to the world" -- I mentioned here in the past that one of my defense mechanisms against the banality blech barrage of commercial crap music was making up ignobly lyrics....

More typical are things like, "It's the most horrible time of the year..." and "I hate this song, I hate this song, I have this song and I wish it would go away" when assaulted with Felis Navidad. "Santa Baby" is so abominable, it's nearly resistant to hacking--have to use some other tune entirely for impedance and brain rinsing....

#116 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 07:49 AM:

JESR @109:

1. How many pages are we talking about here?
2. How deep is the gutter (the space between the inner edge of the printing and where the paper vanishes into Valley of Badly Applied Glue)?
3. How deeply attached to the current structure are you? (it doesn't sound like you're in love with it)

Badly perfect-bound books are rarely gracefully reparable. But a few more peripheral details will help me identify some options

#117 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 08:05 AM:

And on a more somber note... today is the 13th anniversary of my father's death, and also the 73rd of his birth.¹

In 1998, I was already in a vulnerable condition... several years into a major depressive episode (I've discussed the causes of that elsewhere), working at a seriously abusive company... and two weeks prior, my first pet of my own (the Vorpal Rabbit) had unexpectedly died. I'd finally been starting to get to know Dad better, and to understand how deeply our similarities ran.

When I arrived for his birthday party to find him gone... that broke me, for a long time. It wasn't long after that that I lost the job, and went on disability. In the ten years afterwards, I basically holed up in my apartment, with my cat and the Internet. A lot of what I "had been" rotted away... Among other things, I stopped considering myself a programmer, and abandoned my practices of paganism and shamanism. I did have strong support from my family and a few local friends, and my cat Gremlin was dependent on me; without those, I probably would have committed suicide.

Instead... time passed. Looking back, my first comments here seem to be in 2007. Reading through them, I can see that I was already beginning to rise from the ashes of myself. That process has continued; I'm still unsure of what I will become in time, but I'm starting to get a sense of being a complete person again. Still handicapped in various ways, but also empowered in new ways, and with far more self-knowledge and self-awareness than I had back in the '90s.

¹ In this case, it's really fortunate that I'm not Christian.... It would suck to have one of my holidays stomped on too.

#118 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 08:30 AM:

JESR, does the full text online help at all?

Something I did for a number of books of mine, back when I worked in a place with many letter-sized pieces of cardboard and much tape, was to fashion sleeves (closed on the end away from the spine) to fit books so that I could carry them in my backpack without pages coming open. For quite a number of mass-market paperbacks, the same function can be carried out by a VHS tape box.

Looks like there's two copies of the original on eBay for $60, but I don't suppose buying more will help that much.

#119 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:06 AM:

David Harmon @ #114, thank goodness! I thought it was just me. (And on your more somber 117, my condolences, and joy at your gradual return to the daylit world.)

I am also seized with the desire for an anthology of chicken writings by various authors better known for other things: Charles Darwin, E. B. White, and Bailey White come to mind without my even having to think about it. (Darwin didn't write an entire book on chickens, but there's a lot about them in The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication. Pigeons were his main enthusiasm, however. Well, those and barnacles.)

Kip W., thanks for the link! Having heard of the book I immediately wanted to read it.

#120 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:20 AM:

Despite being on West Coast time, I'm the first person to wake up in my sister's house in Westchester. They were making rather merry last night. Literally, just having fun, downing nothing more powerful than M&Ms.

Need to figure out how to get this pony back to Oregon without paying for an extra bag.

May everyone have a properly folded, securely fastened and clearly labeled Boxing Day!

#121 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:45 AM:

Christmas songs around here:

Moving on Song, by Ewan MacColl
Christmas in the Trenches, by John McCutcheon
Deck Us All with Boston Charlie, Good King Sauerkraut, and MacTruloff, all by Walt Kelly

Happy Kwanzaa/St Stephen's Day/four-past-December-Solstice, all!

#122 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:18 AM:

Paula Lieberman @113 and @115 Glad to hear I can enjoy that as a Defense Against the Dark Muzak and not be aghast at it as hyperlocal news.

#123 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:48 AM:

Paula Lieberman @113 and @115 Glad to hear I can enjoy that as a Defense Against the Dark Muzak and not be aghast at it as hyperlocal news.

#124 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:50 AM:

David Harmon @117:

I am sorry to hear that the wisdom and grace you've been displaying of late have grown from such a painful history. But I'm grateful for what you've been becoming.

#125 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:53 AM:

Bah, double post again. Sigh.

#126 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 11:06 AM:

David Harmon (114)/Lila (119): I thought that, too!

Lila (119): A Chicken Anthology would be a wonderful thing.

Stefan Jones (120): I intend to quote your Boxing Day wish.

#127 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 11:20 AM:

Add me to the list of people who briefly confused Hamburgs and Habsburgs.

I'd also like to second abi's comment to David Harmon.

#128 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 12:29 PM:

Must finish breakfast, feed chickens, run to Home depot, and then wish my son and his fiance godspeed as they head over the mountains to Ellensburg, so book answers will be in a couple of hours, but I wanted to voice to David Harmon some solidarity in having unexpectedly lost a parent on St. Stephen's day.

The house was full and warm and smelled of fir and tangerines. My mother fed dinner to a large gathering. My children, then eight and ten, played out in the yard in the brief sunny daylight. The boychild told his grandmother as we left her house "this was the best Christmas ever!" We all slept well, only to wake to an ice storm, power lines down, trees fallen over fences and cattle on the road, and the beautiful green-eyed center of our universe gone.

For months after, I felt the need to go to the ocean and look for her there; the use of the word "lost" to describe a death sets up traps. Ever since I keep having impulsive thoughts that if I learn (as I always think I have) everything possible from that death, well, then, it will be over, but one lesson is retaught: grief has no end, death is irrevocable, love one another while you can hear their voice.

#129 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 12:30 PM:

All right, enough of this. I need to tap the Hive Mind: those of you who are good at keeping up with your housekeeping, could you please tell me something about how you think about keeping house, managing chores, daily maintenance, that kind of thing.

1. How does keeping house fit into your overall daily life?
2. How do you feel about it?
3. What do you experience just before you set to work on your chores?
4. Anything else that comes to mind.

That kind of thing.

Please? :-)

#130 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 12:51 PM:

JESR @109: I know, I never call, I never write, and you never hear from me unless I have a question or something.

Hey, this is Making Light. For my money, "good input" is anything that starts an interesting conversation.

I wish to keep it alive for a bit.

Presuming financial capability, I would be very sorely tempted to build the aforementioned tight box, but then I would order a second copy, and request that they send it to you unbound, so that you can bind it, or have it bound, to your personal specifications.

David Harmon @117: Ave, David Harmon's dad. Well, I can say that I, for one, am grateful for your presence here. You have good things to say, and say them interestingly, and I very much appreciate your contributions to this community.

JESR @128: Ah, yes. Thoughts of beloved folks gone past, of whom I still think: Jeanne Robinson, my beloved Logan, Gerry Pearce. There are others, but those are the ones who most frequently visit my dreams.

#131 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 01:00 PM:

abi #124, TexAnne #127: Thank you for the compliments. I'm trying not to get a swelled head here! Especially as I know that my "wisdom and grace" will ebb and flow over time....

This community is rich in folk who seek to help others, and thereby make the world a better place. I'm happy to be included here -- but even happier to know that I here, I am just one among many.

PS: My stepmother just called, and told me my father would be proud of how I'd gotten to where I am. I hadn't been crying before that....

#132 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 01:34 PM:

JESR #128: My sympathies, to you and the rest of your family.

#133 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 01:35 PM:

Jacque @129: I'm a bit of a Martha Stewart (without the media empire and the excess income to invest in illegal stock tips, though) and have just spent the morning on post-Christmas-day household maintenance, so I'll take a whack at it.

1. How does keeping house fit into your overall daily life?
Cleaning up as I go along means I don't have a daunting, overwhelming set of chores to face on any one day. It becomes automatic to do the dishes after dinner, wipe down the bathroom faucet after I get ready for bed, and so on. And I have a tiny house, so the chores that are better done all rooms at once, like vacuuming, take very little time.

2. How do you feel about it?
The little-bit-every-day? Satisfied, at peace with my environment. When my environment is peaceful and tidy and uncluttered, I can relax and do other things. And having a small house and not too much stuff is a satisfying feeling, too. When I have less to take care of, it drains less of my energy.

3. What do you experience just before you set to work on your chores?
If I've let them lapse, I feel frustrated with myself and a bit more reluctant to start. (Today I had to pay a bunch of bills at once, for example, because I didn't have time to pay them the day they came in during the pre-Christmas rush. I had to fortify myself with a second cup of coffee and remind myself that my checkbook was freshly balanced and reconciled and my paycheck deposited early this month, so I shouldn't worry.)If I've kept up, I hardly even notice what I'm doing, until I sit down and look around with a sense of everything being in its proper place and ready for its next use. If it's something new I've suddenly decided to organize, I feel a sense of energy and pride when it's done.

4. Anything else that comes to mind.
An excellent quote that I ran across in a book on organizing, that can really change how you think about household maintenance:

"The purpose of order in my life is my own ease and convenience -- not domination by some impractical ideal." (Stephanie Winston, in Getting Organized)

If you remind yourself that you are doing this to make your own life easier, not to please your mother-in-law or your nosy neighbor, etc., you can approach it quite differently. By cleaning your tools and checking them for maintenance issues and putting them away, they are ready for their next use the minute you want them. Your dishes, cookbooks, clothes, linens, books and DVDs, craft supplies, spice rack, etc., are all tools for living and should be treated with the respect good tools, tools which make your life easier and worth living, deserve.

And then there's the William Morris quote -- "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or think to be beautiful." The tl;dr version of all of the above is: If it's draining your energy, toss it out.

#134 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 02:25 PM:

Jacque, I read a fair amount of Hanne Blank, and she writes about housekeeping some. Her chapbook/collection (I don't know what the definition is for chapbook, really) is sadly sold out, but it has a wonderful essay on housekeeping. To summarize what I remember from it, taking care of yourself and your things is your job because you're an adult, and she's kind of like a foodie for it: it's not fuel or a chore, it's something you do gracefully. It's living deliberately, paying attention to what you do.

It doesn't make me any more likely to scrub the floor, but I like it.

#135 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 02:35 PM:

Apparently my spousal tech support has managed to block "stay logged on" for this platform, which is another small burden.

Thanks to everyone especially Dave Harmon; the great difference between your experience and mine is how very not alone, not isolated, and not purposeless I was after Mom's death: I had young children, a husband who shared a birthdate and many jokes and tricks of mind with her, my sister, and my part (much larger then than now) of running the farm. (I was forty-four then; I will turn sixty in 2012: perhaps, if the ensuing fifteen years had not included so very many full-body planetary collisions, I'd be a more useful person).

What was similar was the way writing was part of how we worked things through, I think? That and the depression, which predated events and persists.

Anyway, abi's questions:
1. How many pages are we talking about here?
2. How deep is the gutter (the space between the inner edge of the printing and where the paper vanishes into Valley of Badly Applied Glue)?
3. How deeply attached to the current structure are you? (it doesn't sound like you're in love with it)

First, I need to say that this isn't, as I first thought, a simply glued/perfect bound book, but is rather gathered in four books that are stitched straight through at about 1 cm intervals, .25 cm or so from tyhe spine, single thread. It looks as if the big problem with the way the cover sits is that it's hot-glued over the spine with insufficient pressure, temperature, and/or time, although it would still be too small and extremely boring (although if I were writing a detective story I'd choose the glazed cardstock as a means of capturing fingerprints).

1. It's about eighty pages (forty leaves?) including blank pages front and back.

2. The gutter is 1cm- 3/4in min/max. It would help if I had a ruler but they ran away last week after my scissors started reappearing. The page format is typical of an American farm pamphlet of the era, and has been preserved in the replica. (Interestingly, the bookplate is from the Albert R. Mann Library of the New York State Colleges of Agriculture and Home Economics at Cornell University, which I cannot read without the echo of tin-eared oratory as Keith Olbermann and Ann Coulter quarrel over what's really Cornell).

3. I'm attached to the structure only in the degree that I am attatched to books qua books, and the way in which this book calls to mind that better object which I will, I trust, purchase when the day comes that I can jam it into the budget. Ideally, I want the object to survive being dropped in my purse to read on the bus, and I need it not to offend my tactile senses, nor act as a trap for free-floating purse crap, which is a problem with binders.

The online copy linked by Kip W. at 118 is worth a look if you are a fan of Baum or chickens or late-Victorian popular nonfiction, as the mere words are an evocative example of all those things. I'm greedy; I want a book.

(I meant to say, to add to the list of authors writing as amatuers of poultry, Alice Walker published The Chicken Chronicles in 2011. I've heard her interviewed all over NPR, but am too much of a farmer to be enthralled).

{all discontinuities and irrationalities of logic and construction are put down to being interrupted several times while writing this on top of a lingering case of the seasonal crud}

#136 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 03:31 PM:

@Jacque, #129--

Since, in my household, housekeeping has suddenly become much, much less burdensome, I only totally loathe, hate and detest doing it still. But it is easier to do.

My children have all left the nest. O frabjous day! Callou! Callay! (I was never a good parent, but despite that, they all turned into functioning adults who have their own abodes. One definition of successful parenting.)

Since my husband and I tidy up after ourselves kind of automatically, when I clean, I only have to clean.

My children are not tidy people and no amount of threats, bribery, intimidation, allowance withholding, ever made them so. So before the nest emptied, I had to tidy their things up first, then clean. Skipping that hour of scooping up messes is a real delight.

Fitting it into my life--I try to do a load of laundry every day. Then I don't have to spend an entire day doing laundry.

I try to keep things looking superficially clean enough to prevent guilt from forcing me into a real cleaning spree.

Vacuum twice a week--six four-legged fur bearing critters can really trash the light colored carpets my husband loves.

Alack, I dust only when I have a sneezing attack when I enter the room. I hate dusting. Such a waste of time. Just shifting the dust from one surface to another. I'll have to figure out a way to enjoy dusting.

My son just came home from college for winter break and commented that the house looked like nobody lived here anymore. No, son, this is what tidy looks like.

Remember, housework expands to fill all available time, so make sure your available time is limited.

#137 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 03:44 PM:

David D., #112: I consider the original version of "Jingle Bell Rock" to be very nearly soft-rock. That's just a function of how the medium has evolved; nothing from that era has much zing by my standards.

Stefan, #120: If you're talking about a figurative rather than a literal pony, I strongly suggest FedEx Ground. I routinely ship boxes back and forth when I have to fly somewhere, because I'm paranoid about some TSA goon rifling a checked bag (which I am no longer allowed to lock) and deciding they want something in it.

David H., #131: Thirding abi and TexAnne. You are high on my list of "want to meet FTF" people.

Janet, #133: That's an extremely useful set of thoughts. Sadly, I have enough both of The Lazy and The Packrat that I rarely manage to do much in the way of keeping things current.

My touchstone, when I need to tackle one of the Immense Piles Of Stuff, is the "ten things" method: if I can sort, process, and put away or discard 10 things from this area, then I can go do something else for a while. Lather, rinse, repeat -- or do several different areas. It's surprising how much of a difference that makes, and how quickly.

#138 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 03:53 PM:

Paula (#113) -- Thank you for that rousing carol! We live in that house; we've been living in it for years, because we are so slow to complete projects. We had the "water will come in and rot your stuff" event several years ago, when, against my better judgment, I did not tarp over an open roof. And we expect many more foolish mishaps as we blunder our way to a completely finished house.

We'll post your words, and sing them from time to time.

#139 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 04:56 PM:

#137: Only joking about the pony! I think all of my gifts (mostly candy, plus a silicone baking sheet and a pair of slippers) will fit in my roller bag.

In the past, I've used Priority Mail flat-rate boxes to ship heavy / weirdly shaped gifts. Like the cast iron wolf statue.

A couple of years ago I lost, to the TSA, three jars of wonderful locally packed jam & preserves. I'm pretty sure that the current crop of goodies won't qualify as a jell.

#140 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 06:03 PM:

Jacque @129:

I am not good at keeping up with the housekeeping, but I'm getting better. These are the things that are helping me:

1. I can clean up more than I had realized while I wait for my tea to steep. So, instead of sitting at the computer while waiting for steepage, I sweep the floor or put away ten things or something. That's only three or four minutes spent not doing something I'd rather do, so it doesn't feel like wasted time. And given that I drink multiple cups of tea a day, I can get a surprising number of things done.
2. I've always had a tendency when things spill or are untidy to think, "I should clean this up but I want to do this other thing instead." I am getting better at cutting off the thought after "I should clean this up."
3. If all else fails, I'll consider a day a success if the house is even barely cleaner when I go to bed than when I got up. If I can tell myself to put away "just one piece of paper," then sometimes one piece of paper will become five pieces.
4. I'm trying to get better at carrying things at least to the room where they belong. That is, if I'm in the living room and have an errand in the bedroom, I'll try to look around and see if there's something in the living room that belongs in the bedroom.
5. I'm trying to focus more on "clean enough" instead of "all clean". If the living room is messy such that I could spend twenty minutes tidying it and have friends over without embarrassment, then it's clean enough.

#141 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 07:07 PM:

those of you who are good at keeping up with your housekeeping, could you please tell me something about how you think about keeping house, managing chores, daily maintenance, that kind of thing.

tl;dr = "Your inner Tom Sawyer needs to figure out how to convince you that whitewashing the fence is fun."

I make no claims to being "good" at housekeeping, but I do confess that -- like pretty much everything else in my life, I analyze how I do it rather over-much. My natural, default state is to be a manic-depressive housekeeper: clutter accumulates and then I decide the entire place needs to be cleaned top to bottom, whereupon I start in one corner, clean until I'm exhausted or run out of time, and then stop until I once again feel the urge.

During the various life-reorganization activities I implemented during the run-up to my 50th birthday, I decided this pattern needed to change. One thing I did was to do a number of projects to Get Rid Of Stuff, such that my Stuff better fit my Organizational Space. It's amazing how much easier it is to clean when you can get at the things you're trying to clean.

The second big thing I did was to unleash my inner process-geek on the whole question of housecleaning. As with changing my eating habits, I found if I could distract myself by turning the task into a Method rather than an Endpoint, then I got payoff instantly rather than in a delayed fashion. So I drew up an excessively-detailed task list of regular housecleaning chores for each room, estimated a relative frequency need, adjusted the frequency cycles to complement each other and distributed them across the calendar so that there was a relatively constant task-volume per day, and determined that I could maintain the completion of the regular rotating task-list with 0.5 hours or less of work per day. And these tasks were independent of the existing cleanliness state of the house. That is, it was ok if the room in question didn't end up clean as long as I put in my half hour of work. I kept that cycle up for a couple of years, I think, until I fell of the wagon. I haven't set up a similar system for my new house -- I need to re-do the task-list analysis and the last half year has been more about getting things put away the first time than maintaining.

But on to the specific questions.

1. How does keeping house fit into your overall daily life?

When I have a Program, it's intended to be no more than half an hour of work per day. (This includes laundry but does not include moving things into and out of the dishwasher, which is in a separate category.) The Program works best when the work is front-loaded into my routine -- that is, I do it immediately when I get home from work before I ever sit down or look at the computer. (If dinner is something that has an unattended cooking time, it gets started first, but if not, then dinner doesn't get started until the cleaning is done.) The Program applies only to weekdays -- weekends are for non-regular home projects and yard care.

2. How do you feel about it?

I like having a clean and tidy house. I would be much happier if I could have a clean and tidy house without having to do the work myself.

3. What do you experience just before you set to work on your chores?

Usually the thought of, "Gee, I'd really rather just plop down in the recliner with the laptop and dinner, but if I don't get this done first, it won't get done tonight."

4. Anything else that comes to mind.

Hmm ... see preamble above.

I have this theory that the secret to making behavioral changes in one's life is figuring out how to geek out on some aspect of it that drags the rest of your life along for the ride. For me, process analysis and data tracking is my secret superpower. So if I can figure out some way to do structural analysis and data trending for a behavior, I can trick myself into treating the results as the irrelevant side-effect of a fun game.

For example, for me changing my eating habits by obsessively measuring and cataloging everything I ate was ideal because it fulfilled my numbers geek. For someone who is allergic to math, the same approach wouldn't work at all.

I have friends who can go gangbusters on housework as long as it's a social, team effort but can't get started if they're by themselves. Wouldn't work for me.

Oh, yeah, another part of My Geek is that I've discovered I'm an extreme creature of habit. Once I create a repeating habit in my life, it requires very little mental energy to keep it up. But something that I do at irregular intervals tends to fall off the radar entirely.

#142 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 07:40 PM:

I can't figure out from the Chicon 2012 Worldcon website when pre-reg ends. Does anybody know? I can't fit it into my budget right now, and it would be nice to know when "can't fit it into my budget yet" turns into "sorry, you can't go".

#143 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:45 PM:

I'm still listening to Christmas music--it's all I have this trip--and the discussion on this thread spurred me to sort my feelings about it. My primary conclusion: While some religious Christmas music is very beautiful, I much prefer secular holiday music.

Many of the CDs I have are single-artist mixtures of religious and secular music, and that's where the comparison is sharpest. Loretta Lynn just does not sound as convincing with "The First Noel" as in "Country Christmas" or "The Gift of the Blues":

I especially like "Country Christmas". It's interesting to compare to Johnny Cash's "Christmas as I Knew It". One happy and the other sad, both about country folks, about family and togetherness, with a scoop of charity from Johnny Cash:

Charity is a religious value, but a fleshy one. Sure, there are significant non-material ways to be charitable, but sometimes only food and warmth and light matter. The modern Christmas celebrates all sorts of charity, but the physical plays a great part.

Overly commercialized Christmas bothers me, but to celebrate with gifts and feasting, some disinterested charity, some manifestation of a particular love, is great and wonderful and, for me, where the spirituality* emerges.

So to me, it's a tendentious reading to make "Baby, It's Cold Outside" into a date-rape song, given this charming story:

[Frank] Loesser** wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Lynn considered it "their song," and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM.

(via Wikipedia) Okay, the very last clause isn't so charming, but it does show how she felt about the song and about performing it. It didn't surprise me to learn Frank Loesser also wrote "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"

I don't particularly like "Santa Baby", but I do like the lesser-known (to me, at least) "Five Pound Box of Money" a whole lot:

Joan Osborne's CD got a lot of play from me this year, too, and in the same vein, her "What Do Bad Girls Get?" is especially fine:

What is comes down to is this, I think: I like the modern Christmas, centered on charity and goodwill and family and conviviality and love, downplaying the Christian myth, which is so sad and depressing.

It's a recent invention, as I understand it, a nineteenth-century effort of liberal Christianity, an improvement over what, again, as I understand, preceded it, and certainly a great improvement over the religiosity becoming the new American default***.

Part of that change is a celebration of the worldly and fleshy pleasures, whether a family gathering (as in "Country Christmas"), a party (as in "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"), or a private coupling (as in "Baby, It's Cold Outside").

So I'm in favor of more wonderful secular holiday music, especially about romance, and more opportunities to sing it.

*While I'm in metaphysical sympathy with "Axial Tilt--The Reason for the Season", my lived reality is very different.

**As the Heinlein Corollary to Godwin's Law predicts, I would like to note that Frank Loesser wrote "The Ballad of Roger Young".

So it's a good place to note this, also via Wikipedia:

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" is mentioned in a key passage from The America I Have Seen, a 1951 book by the influential Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb. He described the scene as a record of the song was played at a church dance in the town of Greeley, Colorado: "The dance hall convulsed to the tunes on the gramophone and was full of bounding feet and seductive legs ... Arms circled waists, lips met lips, chests met chests, and the atmosphere was full of passion."

***This is like my fifth-grade teacher explained the sin against the Holy Ghost: If you're worried about it, you haven't done it.

#144 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:45 PM:

Just gnomed for using LOTS of URLs.

#145 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:51 PM:

I'm having a Willie Nelson moment inspired by my previous post's soon-to-be (or already!) resolved predicament:

Gnomed again
It's great to be back and gnomed again
Getting near the internet's end
Making light with all my friends
Man, it's great to be back and gnomed again

#146 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 09:59 PM:

Oh, and my cranky addendum to the long post above: I am annoyed by Dar Williams' "The Christians and The Pagans". I used to be annoyed by Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" so possibly this will pass too, but probably not.

#147 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:22 PM:

Let me join you in your annoyance with Dar Williams' The Christians and the Pagans, (a song of which I had been blissfully unaware until just this minute).

When you mentioned the title I thought it might be to the tune of "The Holly and the Ivy." Or, perhaps, "The Farmer and the Cowman" (from Oklahoma!). But no. The lyrics are poorly written (Bad poetry! Bad! Get down off the table!), while the tune can be called that only by courtesy.


#148 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:24 PM:

Jacque @129: I don't know if this would be helpful for your purposes or motivational style, but I've been enjoying Unfuck Your Habitat. Mini-challenges, good-natured yelling, and many amusing GIFs combine to take the dread out of housework. (I should disclose that I haven't yet applied any unfucking strategies to my utterly disgraceful habitat, since I stumbled on the site just before leaving to visit my in-laws for Christmas and I'm not home yet. But the site's general "Quit making such a big deal out of this and just do it without thinking about it" philosophy is a kind that tends to work for me.)

#149 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:25 PM:

I was reading a post elsewhere where they had a youtube of it (which I didn't watch) and the lyrics (which I did read). If it reads better than it sounds, I think I came out ahead.

#150 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 10:59 PM:

I once sang "The Christians and the Pagans" for a high school talent show.

It's one of those memories that, whenever it resurfaces, I stuff down firmly.

#151 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2011, 11:48 PM:

Along with my collection of Most Depressing Songs of Christmas (now up to 12), I include Ballad of the Harp Weaver, here recited by Johnny Cash.

I've often considered hauling out my harp and learning this, but it's always been too depressing.

#152 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 12:31 AM:

Naomi Parkhurst @140 said to Jacque's 129: 4. I'm trying to get better at carrying things at least to the room where they belong. That is, if I'm in the living room and have an errand in the bedroom, I'll try to look around and see if there's something in the living room that belongs in the bedroom.

Corollary to this that works for me: if there is a 'zone' issue in your house (in our house, if I'm doing stuff upstairs for a while I get really reluctant to troop ALL THE WAY down there to put ONE DISH away, if you get my mental block's put-upon tone of 'voice'), find a shelf or basket or corner near the interface of the zones as a drop-box.

In our case, there's one particular place near the top of the stairs, and a similar one on the FIRST floor near the base of the stairs, where I can stick stuff that needs to be trooped up or down. So if I'm going from the bedroom to my computer area (both upstairs) and I see a discarded cup of my daughter's on the floor of her room, I can scoop it up and toss it in the Going Downstairs Pile without losing much track of what I was in the middle of REALLY doing.

Then, when I'm between tasks and suddenly notice the Going Downstairs Pile has six or seven things in it, I can make it an actual task of its own to scoop them up neatly, go downstairs, and put the dishes in the sink and the etc etc etc whatever else. Similarly, if I'm headed from zone to zone on a purpose, I can grab the Going-There pile in passing.

The trick is to make it be somewhere you can easily see it, and somewhere that feels trivially simple to detour to while doing intra-zone tasks.

And now I'm going to bed without catching up with the thread, since I'm in Texas and tomorrow involves Many Exciting In-Law Socialization Opportunities. Joy.

#153 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 12:31 AM:

What's most annoying about "The Christians and The Pagans" is that it's supposedly a song about meeting on equal terms but actually a song where one side looks a lot better. Poor writing or wrong intent? Damned if I know, or care very much.

Tracie @ 151: Do you have the Dwight Yoakum Christmas CD? If not, you can pretty much double your list by acquiring it.

Or you can put some Drive-By Truckers in your stocking and cheer the hell up laughing at someone else's problems. I list it because you may find it depressing as well.

#154 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 12:34 PM:

For those still looking for something secular but lovely, check out the Fleet Foxes' White Winter Hymnal, about the murderous thoughts one has after trekking too long through the snow.

#155 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 01:13 PM:

Tying together, belatedly, the threads of Christmas and China:

When I lived in China (2007-2008) the consumer culture had picked up the Christmas tradition. Like you do. People mostly didn't care about it that much, sort of celebrated it as "someone else's holiday", and so the shops started very suddenly - blessedly there was no two-month-long leadup.

Blessedly, I say, because the leadup there was began about a week ahead, and it consisted of lots and lots of sinofied glossy paper decorations, a single table of Christmas-themed stuff in each department store, and the same Christmas carol being played over and over on repeat.

I think it was Jingle Bells or something. I don't remember now, only that grocery shopping became surreal and maddening for a little while. "...I'm going to go sit over here now and be a bitter expat (tm)."

#156 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 01:21 PM:

Pertaining to the link Jim posted to Plants vs. Zombies:

I'm fascinated with that game. It's a goofy, commercialized tower defense game, more or less like any other tower defense game, not inherently all that special. And yet, what fascinates me is the ideology of it.

The undead are attacking! We will defeat them by gardening!

There's just something lovely and subversive about that - taking a video game genre that's based on violence and making it sort of pacifistic at the roots. The constructs you're killing are defined as dead already; the things you're killing them with are garden plants, in league with the forces of Life, growing greenness and sustainability.

As a game... it's sort of middlingly fun, a decent timewaster. As a cultural phenomenon, I inherently approve of it.

#157 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 01:35 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 156:

I took the game theme as being one of "Vegetables vs. Vegetables" in the sense that zombies are equivalent to brain-dead humans.

#158 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 03:28 PM:

Jacque @ 129:

I don't feel especially good about my housekeeping (I think I maintain reasonable standards), but I get comments like "This is the most organized garage I've ever seen," and "Wow, I've never been in an attic this clean" so I must be doing something right.

1. How does keeping house fit into your overall daily life?

Normally, in convenient little bits, spontaneously occurring before or after or during other, more regularly scheduled, things. (Right after getting home from work, before leaving to meet friends, while toast is toasting.)

Just lately I have been unpredictably low-energy in a way that's meant I haven't been doing as much, but I am starting to figure out how to work around that.

2. How do you feel about it?

Sometimes I feel pleased that I have been productive and have a nice clean [whatever I've just cleaned]. Sometimes I feel grumpy that other people in the household haven't been cleaning in general, or haven't been cleaning a specific thing (e.g. I don't like being the only person who ever dusts, even if everything else is clean, or I'll be annoyed that I can't clean the living room / kitchen counter / whatever properly because it is full of Other People's Things).

3. What do you experience just before you set to work on your chores?

Something like either "Hm, there's a thing that can be done now," (especially for emptying the dishwasher or doing laundry) or "Ew, that's getting a bit gross. Better clean it." We have a system in which each person is supposed to do 10 chores each week, so I sometimes find myself looking around for things that could be usefully cleaned later in the week, if I haven't hit 10 yet.

4. Anything else that comes to mind.

I prefer doing one or two things at a time, most days of the week. I get tired of doing chores very quickly, so I don't like to do more than that unless I have to (like if we're having a party and have gotten behind on things). Other members of my household prefer the one-day marathon. I don't understand it, but it seems to work for them. Most advice is aimed at encouraging the little-bit-at-a-time approach, because it has a lot of advantages, but if scheduling a longer weekly block of cleaning time actually works for you, don't feel obligated to follow someone else's rules. (I wouldn't suggest marathoning monthly, though; things get too grotty if you leave them that long.)

Similarly, some people respond well to very rigid schedules (clean X on Monday, Y on Tuesday, Z on Wednesday; every first and third Thursday do A and every second and fourth Thursday do B), but I prefer a more fluid "do whatever is bothering me at the time" approach. I suggest trying each and seeing which you like better.

General observations:

The more often you clean something, the less effort each cleaning is. (If you wipe off the stove daily, it's just wiping. If you let it build up crusty stuff and drips and burnt things, it takes a lot more effort to get clean.) Most things have a sweet spot somewhere that minimizes the total amount of effort, but where that sweet spot is varies by person. Some people find that wiping down the sink daily is the point of least total effort; I find weekly-ish simpler.

The purpose of cleaning is to support your other activities. If your stuff is clean and ready for use, you don't have to waste time cleaning or finding or repairing it when you need it, and can get right down to the using part immediately. (I also find that a clean and uncluttered environment is more restful and pleasant to be in, but this isn't true for everybody.) If cleaning is interfering with things you'd rather be doing, then something is wrong somewhere. It's not a moral issue, despite the tone of some advice-givers.

Successfully dividing housekeeping among multiple people is really hard. There are lots of different approaches, some of which will work better than others for any given configuration of people.

It is usually easier to keep things clean starting from clean than to make things clean starting from an accumulated mess. If you've got an accumulated mess that seems overwhelming or dispiriting, try having friends over to help or hiring someone to return it to basically clean quickly, so that you can just keep on with maintenance.

Some things are really hard to clean. It can be worth looking for easier-care versions of those things, rather than trying to figure out a better system for cleaning something that's just really hard to clean. (Animal habitats, particularly, are sometimes just badly designed for cleaning.)

#159 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 03:49 PM:

First, I hope everyone enjoyed/is enjoying a Happy Merry Christmahannukwaanzikah (unsure of spelling at this point) and has wonderful plans in store for New Year's Eve/Day.

My apologies for not keeping up with the various threads the past week. It's been...weird. The cats are settling in, I'm settling in, my roommate and the kids and I are all getting used to each other. Still not sure how long it will be viable, what with the storage spaces and porting my land line into a cell phone I can use for Internet tethering, but it works for now.

Speaking of the cats, for those still trying to help me with the great re-homing, I've got a post up with just their photos and bios (getting to the meat of it sooner, on the suggestion of someone who does dog rescues). Please let folks know I'm in LA (county, not state) and that they can leave contact info in a moderated comment.

In other news, one of my friends said one of her friends is buying some new apartment buildings and may well need apartment managers, and suggested I call on it. I have, of course, never managed an apartment building, and at this point I'm in rather a large amount of confusion as to whether I can make even a minor decision that's right. But for free or tiny tiny rent, it might be a worthwhile challenge for me. Of course, if anyone with experience in such an endeavor has any suggestions, I'd greatly appreciate it.

#160 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 04:39 PM:

Immensely huge Wall-O-Text of responses and contemplations:

Janet Brennan Croft @133: Oh, this is very, very good. Especially the "stuff as tools" idea.

If I've let them lapse, I feel frustrated with myself and a bit more reluctant to start.

Ah! Hearing somebody else say this helps a lot.

How do you allocate time/energy/motivation for tasks that don't really fit easily into a regular schedule?

Diatryma @134: taking care of yourself and your things is your job because you're an adult

Oh my: I have big, fat, hairy, wart-covered, DFD-grade Issues around being an "adult." This may be part of my issue. Thank you!

Throwmearope @136: Remember, housework expands to fill all available time, so make sure your available time is limited.

My dad, bless his heart, would say, "Look around. See what needs to be done, and just do it." Can you say: "instant black hole"?

Naomi Parkhurst @140: I can clean up more than I had realized while I wait for my tea to steep.

YES! This works for me. Maybe I can do more of this....

Heather Rose Jones @141: clean until I'm exhausted or run out of time, and then stop until I once again feel the urge.

I've finally realized that this approach has conditioned me to think of housework as Exhausting, Overwhelming, and Hopeless.

easier it is to clean when you can get at the things you're trying to clean.

Yes! I was particularly conscious of this a lot last night. Little stupid stuff gets in the way.

unleash my inner process-geek ... I drew up an excessively-detailed task list of regular housecleaning chores for each room, estimated a relative frequency need, adjusted the frequency cycles to complement each other and distributed them across the calendar so that there was a relatively constant task-volume per day

::falls over laughing:: I love it. I just love it!

How long does/did it take you to work out your Program? How do you prevent it from becoming an Immensely Huge Project in its own right? Or do you?

I have to watch out: my energy dynamic is very strongly biased in favor of continuing to do whatever I'm doing. Getting up to actually do housework after spending time "programming" is a really tough shift to make, and I can wind up burning the whole weekend on a scheduling spreadsheet. ... which echoes back to your first point above. Hmmmm....

Anybody else here run into that? How do you handle it? For those who can easily shift from one task to the next, how do you do it? (I've actually wondered if this is a health/energy issue. I'm too tired to move, so I just keep doing what I'm doing.)

When I have a Program, it's intended to be no more than half an hour of work per day. ... The Program applies only to weekdays ... includes laundry but does not include moving things into and out of the dishwasher, which is in a separate category.

Besides laundry, what else goes into that half-hour?

The Program works best when the work is front-loaded into my routine

Yes! This works well for me when I get up on weekends. The catch is that any little obstacle or distraction can throw me completely off and kill my momentum. After work I'm often exhausted and blood-sugar-crashed. Do you come home rarin' to go, or do you have to recharge before you can launch in?

Anybody: what tricks do you have for getting back on track if something throws you out of kilter?

I would be much happier if I could have a clean and tidy house without having to do the work myself.

Minions, yeah, that's the ticket! </Miles Vorkosigan>

geek out on some aspect of it that drags the rest of your life along for the ride. ... fulfilled my numbers geek.

This is a very NLPish approach. I'm trying to figure out how to map my compulsion to Do Art over onto housework. The challenge is that housework tends to be very regular and predictable, unlike the artwork that I find most compelling, which is open ended and unpredictable. Hm.

something that I do at irregular intervals tends to fall off the radar entirely.

Yes, I very much struggle with this. Your "cycles to complement each other and distributed them across the calendar" can simulate regularity just enough to keep that slot in the time-budget open, but this is a sweet-spot for disruption.

JM @148: Unfuck Your Habitat

I love this site. (I love little tips and tricks like this.) And the guy's a complete snot.

(BTW, one contribution I can make to this thread is the book Speed Cleaning. Finally killed the "Okay, now I've washed out the bathroom sink, but it takes forever to wash out the sponge because the sink takes forever to drain" problem, among other things.

Elliott Mason @152: find a shelf or basket or corner near the interface of the zones as a drop-box.

Knock on wood, I seem to be somewhat compulsive about this, at least when things have places. Dishes never linger in the living room after I'm done with them; it makes my teeth itch. Where I run into trouble is when the item is near where it belongs, but there's some stupid little obstacle in the way. That makes just enough of a speedbump to make me go, "Oh, I'll do it later." And before long, they start to pile up.

The places where this fails, I'm increasingly noticing, are places where there's a physical obstruction between the thing and its proper place. (Obvious solution: invest a little extra time, and remove the obstuction.)

Many Exciting In-Law Socialization Opportunities. Joy.

Good luck, and May The Force Be With You.

Wow. Good tips, all! Thank you!

#161 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 04:50 PM:

John 153: What's most annoying about "The Christians and The Pagans" is that it's supposedly a song about meeting on equal terms but actually a song where one side looks a lot better. Poor writing or wrong intent? Damned if I know, or care very much.

It's pretty clear that the Pagans come off as more open and friendly in that song. But I think Dar Williams, who wrote it, is a Christian (she was a Religion major in college and says she "believes in God," which is not something most Pagans would say, at least in those terms).

I first heard it performed by a Pagan singer, and I assumed it was an instructional song about how we really should try to get along with Christians; the hesitancy of the Christian parents (not the child!) in the song I took as "here's how to handle it if you run into this," with the answer mostly being "don't react."

That year, the YMCA camp we had festival at had just been taken over by a group that, shall we say, emphasized the C more than the previous management. They seemed pretty uncomfortable with us a lot of the time. I mentioned that song to one of the (very) Christian staff, and commented that most of us feel that way, that is, that we should be able to get along with Christians perfectly well, and have no animosity toward them. He said he entirely agreed, and had heard that same song performed at Christian concerts to the great delight of the audience!

So it may not be the greatest song in the world (and aren't MOST pop song lyrics pretty bad poetry?). But I think it's causing some good things to happen, so I approve of it.

#162 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 05:13 PM:

Jacque -- a couple of non-organized thoughts and tips.

Sometimes I think about what I'm doing, and try to focus on it explicitly to see if I can come up with a better/faster way to do it -- peel potatoes, fold clothes, whatever. But in a non-judgmental way that's just a game or experiment.

But sometimes I don't think about what I'm doing (it's routine, it's autopilot), so I think about something more urgent or rewarding. Sometimes creative solutions even come out of it.

Oddly enough, puttering around and doing little things (no big jobs) can be kind of relaxing after work. Doing stuff inside or outside, I suspect it can help break down some stress hormones. That's my personal explanation, anyway.

When it comes to irregular sorts of things like windows, I let things niggle at me for awhile, and then I make a List. A real physical one, but not too overwhelming, and I really do check things off. Seeing that visually is a helpful reward.

In general, try different things, find out how they fit. Look at it like a big experiment. And you're the one who gets to decide what's successful or not.

#163 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 05:33 PM:

Tiger Spot @158: convenient little bits, spontaneously occurring before or after or during other, more regularly scheduled, things.

Ah. I think we're beginning to see some patterns here: sand in between the rocks seems to be most effective.

"Hm, there's a thing that can be done now,"

How is this more compelling for you than, say, going off and spending that time doing a fun thing? What goes through your mind in making that choice?

I prefer doing one or two things at a time

This echoes Heather Rose Jones's "half hour a day."

How do you keep this from "being nibbled to death by ducks?" I.e., how do you know when to stop, and feel good about it?

This has me thinking about Naomi Parkhurst's "clean enough" instead of "all clean".

I suspect that using this metric is something I should put off until my baseline is more satisfactory, given how weak my momentum currently is.

if scheduling a longer weekly block of cleaning time actually works for you, don't feel obligated to follow someone else's rules.

This has been the approach I've been trying to use over the last few years. It, um, doesn't work for me. My ideal case would be to wake up first morning of the weekend with a big load of steam, zip about the house and get stuff handled (Best-case calculations make it a day, day and a half to get everything done.) and be done with it. Problem is, that's so overwhelming, and I'm usually so blasted after the work week that that never happens, and I'm back to the mad scramble on Sunday night to get the minimum (if I'm lucky) done.

If cleaning is interfering with things you'd rather be doing, then something is wrong somewhere.

I think my struggle is two-fold: I seem to have suboptimal energy levels. Artwork is sufficiently involving, interesting, and satisfying, and it's easy to override fatigue. Housework: not so much. My ears pricked up at Janet Brennan Croft's "Satisfied, at peace with my environment. When my environment is peaceful and tidy and uncluttered, I can relax and do other things." because I've had that feeling, and I can see it being a predictable consequence of keeping up with stuff. (I expect I need to put more conscious attention into experiencing that feeling.)

Tiger Spot: Just lately I have been unpredictably low-energy in a way that's meant I haven't been doing as much, but I am starting to figure out how to work around that.

Say more about this, please. I'm beginning to think my general energy level is a big part of my issue.

Successfully dividing housekeeping among multiple people is really hard.

This is not something I have to deal with, living alone. The up side is that I obviously don't have to deal with other people's mess. The downside is that I think I would benefit from social housecleaning time. Never had a chance to try it, though, so that's hypothetical.

Animal habitats, particularly, are sometimes just badly designed for cleaning.)

Heh: I only have myself to blame, since I designed and built all the pig's houses. They're as smooth to clean as I could figure out how to make them. Each individually is a breeze; collectively, somewhat less so. However, they're my grandkids, and I'm in for the long haul, so there you are. (Life would be easier if they had thumbs. But then they'd learn to use the phone, and find the credit cards, so okay, maybe not.) :-)

Debbie @162: Oddly enough, puttering around and doing little things (no big jobs) can be kind of relaxing after work.

Yeah, I used to do this, and got great satisfaction out of it. I'm wondering where I lost it, (I suspect it was somewhere about the time when I Decided I was going to become a Good Housekeeper.) Interestingly, it was a great stress reliever during those times when I needed to feel some control in my life. I'd let the bathroom (say) get really nasty, and then Clean It, and would feel tremendous relief.

try different things, find out how they fit.

This thread has already given me a bunch of good ideas. Also, good questions, which are at least as important.

#164 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 05:36 PM:

Syd: I'm so happy to see you safe and settled. Don't get complacent, obviously, but do take time to relax and recover. You've been through a lot in the last month, and have earned some peace.

WRT apartment managing, my impression from the managers I've encountered is that the most important thing is good personal and interpersonal management skills (if you've ever done any form of retail, you've probably got that covered), and the ability to identify and manage householding issues.

I don't think it takes any particularly special skillset.

#165 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 05:57 PM:

Syd: Yay, you made it to interim digs! My impression of apartment managing is about the same as Jacque's -- basically, a fairly easy gig if you can deal well with people.

#166 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 06:05 PM:

First of all, this is for everyone, especially for my brethren and sistern in the Dysfunctional Families thread (hi!). Just heard it on an in-store holiday music track, and whoever programmed it seems to have a clue.

How to tell when to stop housework? Set a timer for 15 minutes. Do things until it dings. Do things in any order -- this is my ADD method for cleaning or packing -- because it has to be done eventually, and the order you do it in probably doesn't matter very often. If you're on a roll when the timer dings, set it for another 15 minutes. You may be dead tired after 13 minutes, but you know it's only another 2 minutes and you can do it. If not, just stop -- it's only 2 minutes. Music helps. I do my best cleaning to Corelli. One violin concerto for a short cleaning sprint, 6 to 12 concertos for a marathon.

The first time I made a recording with a real producer, he told me that one of the most important functions of a producer was to tell us when to stop (for the day, the track, the project) to keep us from endless sessions of perfection seeking. There are times when it is good, it is good enough (not in the belittling sense) , or it can be made good enough at a later time, often with the help of someone else Often I wish for a producer for my life. In the mean time, I'll just have to settle for the little voice that reminds me, "Do not permit the perfect to become the enemy of the good."*

*Attributed in various forms to various people.

#167 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 06:10 PM:

Actually THIS is for you.

#168 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 06:41 PM:

On carols - I have a special playlist that goes into my isolation device on First Advent (before then, I have to admit I just pass along and seethe). When I have to go into Retailland, I can blank out what they think is safely-innocuous Seasonal Music with either:

- good renditions of good carols, or
- anti-social "carols".

I recognise a lot of what's been said here, but include the album of punk carols I ran into a while back and The Night Santa went Crazy..

This year, This Sceptered Isle took over (as it has all my listening for a while. Amazing what 60 hours of 13-minute chunks of history will do).

I will admit, some of the Christian-privilege things happening this year (specifically, WASPy) have irritated me more than 'twas - maybe the Pagan girlfriend or the "holiday tree" BS is triggering it, or maybe I'm just getting nuanced. And maybe I just don't get it up here the way it seems to happen down in Some of The States - I've never heard "Merry *christ*mas" in that tone to anything. I'd probably reply with "Good Yule" and let them go away thinking I agreed with them.

But it's been a rough end-of-year for me, so maybe I'm just being irritable. I wish all here a better next year than this, no matter how good this year was for them (and knowing that for most of us, given That Day in November, it likely won't be).

#169 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 07:00 PM:

Jacque @ 164, complacency is definitely the wrong route at this point, I know it. I also know that giving myself time to decompress, process, etc., is a good thing, as long as I avoid letting it turn into complacency or procrastination. Truth be told, though, the cats are just now getting settled enough that they'll let me sleep more than two hours at a time before starting up the Catolympics (to which I am hypersensitive due to the suspicious landlord living immediately upstairs)--I've pretty much been a zombie for several days on that account.

Still, progress all around is a good thing. On the other hand, one of the kitties who was re-homed doesn't seem to be adjusting all that well and may need to come back, but I think the person who took her will take another instead--so still 2 re-homed, 8 to go. This week. Egad. ***trying to remember to breathe***

Re: Jacque and David Harmon, I'm waiting for a call back from the person with the apartment buildings. She sounds nice, at any rate, so we'll talk and see what happens. I'm pretty sure I have the interpersonal skills--if nothing else, my time on the front desk at the clinic, and the nice things the clients said about me, make me feel a bit better about that part of my personality.

It's the evaluating people as far as being good service providers--or tenants--that I'm feeling unsure about. But maybe it would be good to actually have the conversation with the owner before I assume what I'll have to do, or to what extent I'll have to do it. She might have a list of plumbers, electricians, etc., with whom she already works, for example...

#170 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 07:31 PM:

HLN: Area man and Amazing Girlfriend are packing up respective apartments to move in together on Friday. Area Man wants packing to be done (Area Man can't stand packing, but turns out to be fairly good at it, having done it frequently in college and after).

The good news is that the new apartment is awesome... and the local weather prediction is for benign weather on Friday. We're moving around the corner from my apartment (I can see our new building by looking out the window as I type), and we're not renting a truck or anything. Good weather is kind of critical.

#171 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 07:44 PM:

Jacque - I hope this isn't hlepy, but for me, the number of spoons I have for dealing with what seem like really small cleaning chores is related to my thyroid levels. Not saying your thyroid levels are low, but maybe there's something physical going on that you're not aware of? Also not saying that it's only thyroid levels that affect my motivation for doing things (I've always been disinclined to do housework), but "I seem to have suboptimal energy levels. Artwork is sufficiently involving, interesting, and satisfying, and it's easy to override fatigue" matches up with my experience when my thyroid is low (except with knitting/spinning/weaving/crochet instead of artwork).

#172 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 07:59 PM:

Tracie, #166: one of the most important functions of a producer was to tell us when to stop (for the day, the track, the project) to keep us from endless sessions of perfection seeking

ObSF: There is a Vulcan proverb to the effect that a masterpiece requires two people -- an artist to create it, and someone to hit the artist over the head with a rock when it's obviously time to stop! (paraphrased from Diane Duane's The Empty Chair)

#173 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 08:09 PM:

Jacque @160, I try to schedule as much as possible, but just move the item forward if conditions aren't right. For example, if "put the Christmas decorations back in the attic" pops up in my reminders or to-do-list, and it's 20 below and howling wind outside where the attic entrance is, that can get moved forward a few days.

Currently, everything that could possibly be a scheduled task is scheduled in Outlook, and there's a scribbled to-do list with other things next to the computer. Long ago, I had a manual system I learned somewhere involving index cards in a file box divided by month, with the current month divided by week and the current week divided by day; at the beginning of the week, you spread that week's tasks out across the days, and when you did that task, you moved it to the next week or month or year as appropriate for the needed frequency of the task. So you had some leeway as to exact date, but knew the time period in which it needed to occur. (Sometimes I think that had advantages over the Outlook version...if my handwriting wasn't so atrocious I might go back to it.)

Allocating time and energy for something that's NOT in the regular rotation actually can be invigorating, because it's a break in the routine and therefore, if not FUN!, at least different. Like planting all the trees I just got from Arbor Day. I had a limited time window, and I knew it was going to be very hard work, but it was a break, and now I can look forward to obsessing over signs of life in the spring.

#174 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 08:15 PM:

Jacque @163:

(I note, up at the top here, that I can talk about this stuff for hours, and apparently have, so do not feel obliged to respond, or to read, or any of that! Also I love advice with a fierce fierce love, so sometimes it just sort of leaks out even when I am trying to be more observational.)

"Hm, there's a thing that can be done now,"

How is this more compelling for you than, say, going off and spending that time doing a fun thing? What goes through your mind in making that choice?

Well, it's less effort. If I'm standing in front of the dishwasher, say, having noticed that it has finished running and is full of nice clean dishes, putting them away is something I can do right then that will give me a little zot of productivity-satisfaction. If I want to go play a game instead, I have to walk away from the dishwasher and talk other people into playing and decide on a specific game and go get it out and probably clean off the table beforehand, and then at some point walk back to the dishwasher... so it's easier to put the dishes away first, while I'm standing there, and then go play.

I think the productivity-satisfaction is probably key here; I will be much happier, in a very practical way, after putting away dishes for three minutes than after playing a game for three minutes. I probably won't be happier during the chore than during the game, but after lasts longer.

Also relevant is that I don't usually detour to do chores on my way to a fun thing, if I'm already planning to do a fun thing. Chores come up when I've just finished doing something and am looking around for the next thing to do. They're not generally in competition with fun unless I've got a really big chore, like cleaning out the chicken coop, which takes long enough that it needs to be scheduled and therefore doesn't get done as often as it would in an ideal world.

I prefer doing one or two things at a time

This echoes Heather Rose Jones's "half hour a day."

How do you keep this from "being nibbled to death by ducks?" I.e., how do you know when to stop, and feel good about it?

I do one previously-defined chore, and then feel good about having completed it. Maybe I do another one after that, and then feel good about that. (And occasionally so on, but usually two is about when I want to go do something else for a while.) If I've finished my 10 for the week and it's not the weekend yet, I feel Virtuous and Superior (and I clean more things anyway, if they annoy me). We have a chart that lives on the pantry door to keep track of who's done what in a given week, so it lists things like "empty dishwasher," "dust one room," "pick up 10 things," "bathe dog," or "clean mirrors in bathroom." Each of those things counts as one chore. Some of them, like emptying all the little trashcans, could be treated as separate smaller chores. Some could be lumped together into bigger chores (it's easy to sweep lots of floors at once, so I usually do several while I've got the broom out). But what's on the chart, and therefore what I think of as "one chore," are defined, roughly equivalent "chore units". The chart is great for multiple people, but if you, like me, are the sort that likes keeping track of things, you might try sitting down to create one just for you. The idea is to break things down into pieces that are about the same size, so that rather than one chore that takes 30 seconds and is easy and not gross and one chore that takes two hours and is disgusting hard labor, each thing on the chart is roughly equivalent. (Sometimes that's not possible; cleaning out the rat cage, when we had rats, counted as 2 chores to account for the fact that it was way more of a pain than anything else on the chart but couldn't in practice be broken into smaller jobs. Cleaning out the chicken coop sometimes counts as up to 4, depending on how irritated I am when I finish....)

We've figured out through experimentation that 10 chore units from each of us a week keeps things in a generally pleasant and functional state; we can get away with less for a while, but then weird stuff starts to build up in the corners and the lawn gets horribly overgrown and so forth, so it's better to keep up. I like to decide what specific chores to do based on the very simple metric of what's annoying me most at the time, rather than keeping to a rigid weekly/monthly schedule, but specific schedules seem fairly popular too.

Some people do really well with timers; if you haven't tried that then cleaning for 15 minutes at a time might be a more natural sort of unit for you than my "chore units."

This has me thinking about Naomi Parkhurst's "clean enough" instead of "all clean".

Yes, clean enough is a very important concept. If I wanted everything to be clean at once I would be sad all the time except when we're about to have a party.

There's a sort of slow drift down through the categories Clean Like New --> Pretty Clean --> Could Use A Cleaning --> Ew --> Emergency! Clean This Now! As long as everything I'm using is above Ew, and the things that are at Could Use A Cleaning are neither particularly urgent (I don't like to leave the kitchen counters at Could Use A Cleaning, but I don't mind if the bathroom mirrors hang out in that state for a while) nor a large fraction of the total, I'm happy. (Exception: I tend to let tubs, toilets, and bathroom floors be Ew for a while to see if someone else will clean them first, because I hate cleaning those, and glory be usually someone else does that pretty fast so I don't have to live with it long. If I lived alone I might hire those chores out instead.)

I suspect that using this metric is something I should put off until my baseline is more satisfactory, given how weak my momentum currently is.

I'm not sure which metric you mean, but I think doing something, even a very little thing, regularly, is a much better habit to get into than feeling like you have to keep going until you're done. Because then you want to be done for a while, and the trouble with housekeeping is that there will be something else, just a little something, but something, to do the next day, so you aren't ever Done the way you are done with an art project. Maybe thinking of it as exercise would help -- you want to start small so you don't wear yourself out, and get into a habit. Once you've got the habit installed, convincing yourself to do it takes less effort and you can start extending the time or increasing the challenge level.

My ideal case would be to wake up first morning of the weekend with a big load of steam, zip about the house and get stuff handled (Best-case calculations make it a day, day and a half to get everything done.) and be done with it. Problem is, that's so overwhelming, and I'm usually so blasted after the work week that that never happens, and I'm back to the mad scramble on Sunday night to get the minimum (if I'm lucky) done.

Yep. When do you have steam? Not a big load at once, necessarily, but considering the times of day/week that you tend to have steam availability might present some scheduling possibilities. I like doing most of my cleaning during the workweek, because then my days off are days off.

Tiger Spot: Just lately I have been unpredictably low-energy in a way that's meant I haven't been doing as much, but I am starting to figure out how to work around that.

Say more about this, please. I'm beginning to think my general energy level is a big part of my issue.

Well, usually I prefer to get home from work, walk the dog or make dinner (these aren't included in our chore system because they have to happen every day), then do a chore or two after dinner. But lately I have not always had the capacity to make dinner (or do chores) after I get home, so then my schedule's off for the rest of the night. I am very much a creature of habit, so any schedule disruption tends to derail a number of different things. I also like to plan, so it would in some ways be easier for me if I knew that I just wasn't going to be able to make dinner or do chores from 7:00 to 9:00 on Thursdays for the foreseeable future ever, because then I could plan around it, but sometimes I can and I don't know in advance. Partly I have been figuring out things I can do that make it more likely that I'll have the capacity (avoiding certain foods, mainly -- it's rough, because they are foods that are usually a very large part of my diet, and I haven't figured out what all has negative effects yet because this is a new -- and thank goodness probably temporary -- issue), and partly I am starting to figure out some other places in my day that I can fit things. Mainly I am trying to be a little more conscious of when I have energy at times in my schedule that aren't normally doing-things times -- it's 10:00 p.m. and I feel pretty good? Well, I can clean the stove now, before I go to bed! Usually I wouldn't clean the stove at that time, because if it needed done I would have done it earlier in the day, before cooking or after cleaning up the dinner dishes. But if I wasn't up for those things at the time they happened then it's worth having the thought later.

The downside is that I think I would benefit from social housecleaning time. Never had a chance to try it, though, so that's hypothetical.

Have you tried having friends over? Especially for big jobs, people are often surprisingly happy to pitch in. Or if you've got a bunch of things to sort through it can be nice to just have someone to chat to while you go through the box of stuff or the files full of old papers.

Interestingly, it was a great stress reliever during those times when I needed to feel some control in my life.

Yes, I find that Getting Some Stuff Done is a great way to stop feeling overwhelmed, no matter what it is I'm feeling overwhelmed by, and cleaning is great stuff to get done because it doesn't involve getting information from other people or waiting for a store to open or anything! You can just do it whenever.

#175 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 09:09 PM:

If the owner doesn't already have a list of plumbers etc, they'd certainly know which ones to avoid.

From my time living in apartments, the interpersonal parts are important, and the better tenants will help you figure out who's a problem.

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 09:10 PM:

I've been told that one of the hardest things for engineers to learn is when to say 'it's good enough: ship it'.

#177 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 10:39 PM:

HLN: Area woman, visiting Northern Virginia for the holidays, discovers two credit cards, but nothing else, missing from her wallet, approximately two hours after she last saw them. While talking to the sympathetic lost card reporting people, she is told that attempts to use them at local drug store and supermarket were thwarted, but Office Depot allowed a man to charge almost $700 of merchandise because he said the card was his wife's. Cards have been cancelled and replacements arranged. Disputation of the charge is scheduled for tomorrow.

"I think this is the work of a professional," opined the woman. "I never left my purse unattended, yet the wallet was removed and replaced, and only the cards were taken. They even left a couple hundred in cash!"

Upon concluding her conversations with the nice card loss people, local woman went to likely Office Depot, where two nice sales clerks reported that they remembered the man and could describe him. Manager on duty printed off the transaction and left it and a note for the senior store manager while local woman made a non-emergency police report. Police officials agreed that this is likely a professional job and have promised to call back within 24 hours. "Good luck with that," said the manager.

Upon reflection, local woman suspects that the sales clerk very likely did not follow proprr store procedure for credit/debit card transactions, and hopes she will not be fired. At least not before she describes the guy to the police.

#178 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 11:13 PM:

Jacque @ 160 (continuing the conversation):

How long does/did it take you to work out your Program? How do you prevent it from becoming an Immensely Huge Project in its own right? Or do you?

The original process analysis was a one-time thing (although it got tweaked a few times as I worked through it). I don't really recall how long it took to set it up the first time, but after that it was all implementation. (I tend to do this sort of analysis in the margins of my meeting agendas at work, so it's hard to track.) I don't mind the initial analysis/set-up being an Immensely Huge Project -- getting to do a fun process analysis is the front-loaded payoff for me that gets me excited about the implementation phase. Like I said: not for everyone.

Anybody else here run into that? How do you handle it? For those who can easily shift from one task to the next, how do you do it? (I've actually wondered if this is a health/energy issue. I'm too tired to move, so I just keep doing what I'm doing.)

I'm dreadfully prone to inertia, so for me it's very important to order my daily activities from least-fun/most-active to most-fun/least-active. This is where habit takes over. When I'm in the habit groove, I simply don't allow my brain to entertain the notion that I could do anything other than Work The Program. It becomes as inconceivable to deviate as it would be to walk out the door in my pajamas. (Let's not talk about the time I drove over to a friend's house in my slippers because I forgot to change to shoes.)

When I have a Program, it's intended to be no more than half an hour of work per day. ... The Program applies only to weekdays ... includes laundry but does not include moving things into and out of the dishwasher, which is in a separate category.

Besides laundry, what else goes into that half-hour?

Ok, here's a sample representing Week 1 of the 8-week cycle. (The Program at that time consisted of an 8-week cycle with different categories of tasks on 1-, 2-, 4-, or 8-week rotations. This is for my old house so it's no longer operative.) There's a set of tasks to be done during the week, but the specific tasks-per-day could vary as long as they all got done. Generally I'd either pick a couple rooms each day and do everything in them, or in some cases pick a task-type (e.g., "vacuum") and do it in all the relevant rooms.

Empty trash (if any) in Kitchen, Bath, Bed 1, Bed 2, Laundry, Office, Living
Dust surfaces in same list plus stairs
Sweep & wash non-carpeted floors: Kitchen, Bath, Laundry, Living, Stair landing, Deck (summer only)
Do laundry
Pick up clutter (all rooms)
Shelve books: Bed 1, Office, Living
Put away sewing projects/supplies: Living
Change filter in cat's water fountain

It looks like a lot, but many of these are prompts to check for circumstances that may not need any work (e.g., "shelve books"). There were 8 separate rooms (with very different levels of work), but a typical day would be something like "do the tasks for the kitchen & laundry", so: In the kitchen, put away anything sitting out, dust surfaces, sweep the floor and run a damp mop over it, then take the garbage out to the can. (The kitchen generally was scheduled for the day before garbage pickup.) Change the filter in the cat's fountain (one of the 8-week tasks). In the laundry, start the washing then check for clutter, dust, sweep, damp-mop, remove any garbage.

I haven't done the analysis for the new house yet. One of the big differences is that all the "public" rooms are a single continuous "great room", so it makes no sense to divvy up things like "sweep floor" by the four conceptual areas. It will require an entirely new analysis approach. (Yay!)

Do you come home rarin' to go, or do you have to recharge before you can launch in?

Back at the old house, when I was in the groove, I'd come home rarin' to go and feel all accomplished and self-satisfied after I'd put my time in. The new house is going to be different because now I have an hour's commute and I need to figure out how that will affect my momentum. But really, it's more about habit than day-to-day state of mind.

Anybody: what tricks do you have for getting back on track if something throws you out of kilter?

It has to be the same as when I've gotten into old eating habits (well, not all the way into old eating habits, but falling into the trap of turning special treats into everyday defaults). I have to make a conscious rededication to The Project and make a strong push to do something every day, even if it's just a token. It helps to schedule the rededication for a week when I know there won't be any unusual disruptions.

something that I do at irregular intervals tends to fall off the radar entirely.

Yes, I very much struggle with this. Your "cycles to complement each other and distributed them across the calendar" can simulate regularity just enough to keep that slot in the time-budget open, but this is a sweet-spot for disruption.

In so many areas of my life I live and die by the regular habit. Getting to the gym has to be the assumed default. Housework gets done when I have a daily program. Writing gets done when I pledge myself to writing something every day, come hell or high water. (Every November I rededicate myself to writing fiction every day. The habit usually lasts into January. I even kept it up every day the November when my mother died. There is the power of habit.) I have one close friend where the glue that keeps us involved in each others' lives is a commitment to seeing each other in person at least once every calendar month. I keep meaning to set up a similar program to commit to holding at least one dinner party and one other social gathering every calendar month. It can feel awfully contrived, but I can't argue with success. I used to think of myself as a very spontaneous free spirit ... and then took a long, hard look at what actually works for me.

It occurs to me that I failed to mention one very relevant aspect of my housework which is that I live alone, so I neither have to worry about living up to, or putting up with someone else's housekeeping standards.

#179 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 11:33 PM:

On housework:

It is part of my life to do dishes as soon after cooking as reasonably possible, because if you don't, pretty soon you can't cook. For years, I did laundry Sunday morning, because the laundromat was deserted then. And I gave parties a few times a year to force myself to clean everything. For most of my 20's and 30's, I moved every year or so, which meant I had to clean.

Keeping a food diary has been somewhat successful, and keeping an exercise diary has been very successful, so I started keeping a cleaning diary. I'm getting a better idea of what I need to do and how often, and that some days I get a lot done, others, not so much.

I also realized that there are some chores I can no longer do, like cleaning the bathtub. Finding help and being willing to accept help is a Good Thing. Having someone else do the things I keep putting off helps me to do the rest of it. I feel kind of odd, but I am giving a friend money she needs, and I am getting help I need.

#180 ::: Jon Baker ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2011, 11:40 PM:

The way my mother puts it, "what comes next in the series 86 91 96 103? Cathedral Parkway."

Does this mean there's going to be a round of Mornington Crescent?

#181 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 12:06 AM:

My stupid brain tricks for housework: do it the second I walk in the door, before checking email even.
When the kitchen gets really dirty and I'm out of dishes, bake something. In the oven with the twitchy thermostat and no timer, so I have to stay anchored in the kitchen. I may as well wash the mixing bowl and beaters, and that means emptying the sink, and that means washing the rest of the dishes is pretty easy now that they're not all in the way....
Walk through clean areas thinking about how satisfied I am and how great an achievement this is.
Have something else to do I don't want to do more.

#182 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 12:55 AM:

Rusty Hevelin, science fiction fan, has passed away.

Gay Haldeman sent an e-mail a couple of hours ago; here's a Locus report.

First Fandom is now smaller. So is the rest of fandom.

#183 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:01 AM:

I'd heard he was in hospice, and I mourn his passing. A wonderful, kind, interesting man.

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 02:31 AM:

Bill, #182: Damn. Not that I'm surprised, because he was getting on when last I saw him, and that was several years ago. But sometimes I really hate this time of year.

Open threadiness of a cheerier sort: I've been reading thru some of the Yuletide stories* at An Archive Of Our Own, and stumbled across an interstitial tale set between These Old Shades and Devil's Cub. The author has Heyer's authorial style, and the voices of the characters, down to a turn. Several of the scenes are somewhat rougher than Heyer would ever have been able to portray in a published work, and I have my suspicions as to who the writer might have been, but I will respect their desire to be anonymous.

* These are not Christmas stories, but stories of any type written in response to a request, as a Christmas present for the requester.

#185 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 04:13 AM:

You were all dying for an Ardala veterinary update, weren't you?

So the timeline til now was Oct and part of Nov spent with several crap diagnoses, overmedication and floor peeing. Late Nov led to second opinion, decent treatment and recovery. (the pain the led to the frantic running around and whining at all hours? probably from the MASSIVE UTI and not musculo-skeletal pain) Early December saw a knee-blowout scare, which was frankly ridiculous in a dog with Ardala's activity level - slightly above the activity level of a particularly apathetic sloth.

Tonight? Two days after Xmas and three days before the rent is due? Full on cruciate ligament tear, on her good back leg (the other already gimpy from spondylosis-related neuropathy) so into surgery she goes tomorrow, pending orthopedic surgeon consult. The good news? I qualify for the standard CareCredit no-interest-for-6-months, but after that we repossess your dog and break your kneecaps deal. Which I can actually afford to pay off in 6 mos, provided I leave my charge card alone.

So, not going to the UK next year as planned. Amex in the freezer in a block of ice.

I love Ardala, I really do. Dogs are such a miracle of co-evolution, but I really, really wish the roommate weren't allergic to much cheaper cats.

#186 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 07:20 AM:

Aarghing here.

Every three or four years, in the midst of a political discussion, one of my family members says, basically, "But we don't take you seriously on these issues, because you hate America and think Europe is better in everything."

I push back every time, and every time, they back down, but I know they're thinking it anyway.

So I can't let my hair down about my fears for America and where it's going with my family. And I have to live with the fact that, basically, they ignore my views and think less of me for leaving.

Pretty much every expat and migrant I know goes through this. It's a standard trope, but man it gets tiresome. It makes me want to say unforgivable and burn some bridges rather than be accused of that kind of betrayal again.

#187 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 09:22 AM:

abi @ 186:

I don't imagine it's any comfort, but I suspect some of that attitude is not because you're an expat, but because you're being assigned the role of Cassandra. Anyone who expresses that level of concern about the future of the US gets that treatment to some degree from anyone who doesn't want to believe that things could really be this bad, which means most everyone. In your case, being an expat may be another argument to be used in denial rather than the primary reason for not believing you.

It's down to being one of the frogs who can sense small changes in temperature of the water in the pot we're in. We all get yelled at by the rest of the frogs; you get yelled at more because you were able to jump out.

#188 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 10:10 AM:

(Delurking. I rush to read ML daily - have for several years, actually - because I love the conversations and the community here, but I've been shy about posting despite having learned so much from you all. Hello everyone!)

JM @148: Thank you for the link to UFYH! Housekeeping is not my forte, nor that of any member of my household, and keeping our abode in a livable state (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 much stuff) is an ongoing struggle. I've looked at Flylady before, but while I get her approach, I don't relate to the overall tone. UFYH, however, speaks my language, so I think I will try the daily challenges over the hols and try to engage my spouse and offspring.

#189 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 10:10 AM:

Bruce @ 187: Frogs in a pot or crabs in a bucket?

#190 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 10:34 AM:

Jon Baker @#108: Only if we're using the 1938 rules. After that it just gets silly.

#191 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 10:46 AM:

Diatryma @181 re: housecleaning motivation

Have something else to do I don't want to do more.

Yes. This. It used to be that come income tax time my house would get the cleanest it would be all year.

Then I moved to Turbo Tax and now doing income taxes is a video game and gets done as soon as the data is all in. (See my comments about applying my personal geeks to tasks.)

#192 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 11:21 AM:

Hello, Ellen. Welcome!

#193 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 11:22 AM:

I have an Open Thread question.

A lot of people in the publishing profession hang out here. Do any of you happen to know who's really writing the so far three books attributed to "Richard Castle"? (Heat Wave, Naked Heat, Heat Rising)

I think it'd be hilarious if it were actually Nathan Fillion, but I suspect that's unlikely.

#194 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 11:47 AM:

Diatryma #181, Heather Rose Jones #191:

That reminds me of the Buchwald Method. Given 10 tasks, use each as the means to stall another one... you'll at least get 9 of them done.... (Apologies to Art Buchwald, who made it much funnier than I can manage.)

(Written between shots at the Pile O' Papers....)

#195 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 11:53 AM:

Welcome Ellen the delurking @188

I have a family calendar on Google calendar shared with my husband and teenage kids. Apparently there was something funky about the time zone setting. It asked me if I wanted to switch time zone to Eastern, where I'm located, and I said yes ... and now every event on the calendar has had its time offset by 5 hours. I can't find an undo. As far as I can find in the Google forums, people have been complaining about the time zone features for years and Google keeps telling them why it's supposed to work this stupid way. I do not want software automatically adjusting times I have entered. If I'm going to have to reenter everything, as it appears I am, it will not be in Google.

First, does anyone know a workaround in Google calendar to ignore time zone issues altogether?

Or, can anyone recommend a freeware or inexpensive shareware shared-calendar program?

#196 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 12:00 PM:

OtterB, could you set the time zone back to where it was? I don't use Google calendar, but if it screwed up your event times in one direction, maybe it'll reverse it.

#197 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 12:09 PM:

HLN: After being in a mad rush in November to weather-proof the backyard pond, there has been only 2 days where part of the pond has been frozen.

It's nice to see that the combo of the birdbath* pond de-icer and the airstone/pump do the job, but I still would like to see how well it works in really cold weather.

(I've probably doomed Central Ohio to a blizzard with that last wish...)

*The de-icer has a sunken section that allows the water to rise into it making in a drinking/bathing source for the birds.

#198 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 12:10 PM:

Steve C, actually, I've done that, and events are okay for the next few months ... and then off by an hour beginning at the end of March, presumably because of daylight savings time. So I'd really like to turn the time zone management off altogether, as I'm finding it extremely hlepy. But not sure if that's possible.

#199 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:00 PM:

abi at 186: sympathies. What a silly comment for otherwise intelligent people to make!

#200 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:09 PM:

On the BBC News blogsite, filmmaker Adam Curtis describes and discusses via the enduringly famous Ghost Watch (1992):

[ "Here is a ghost story for Christmas - it is a brief history of the appearance of ghosts and poltergeists and other spirits on television. Not fictional ghosts - but real ones, or the reports of their appearances, that you find in various news and documentary programmes.

But as so often when one looks at material in the archives, it turns out that it tells you less about the subjects of the programmes - the ghosts - than about the strange medium that possesses modern society - television." ]

The story he tells reminds one inevitably of the Cottingley Fairies and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

[ "A few years ago Stephen Volk wrote a fantastic essay about the making of Ghostwatch. It was published by the Fortean Times. And you can find the whole thing here.

[ "In it Volk describes his underlying aim - to make people look at what was happening to reality on television:

Ghostwatch was, of course, also about television." ]

Some of you here might find this as interesting as I do.

Love, C.

#201 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:14 PM:

OtterB, it looks like you're currently "in" UTC. It's really annoying that there isn't a "correct everything I've entered" button, but I can see why Google's default would be "change the time zones, keep the *absolute* time of the appointment."

For instance, when I went to Seattle, I moved everything into PST. I'm really glad that my note for "meeting with X" didn't move from 1200 Mountain to 1200 Pacific.

Having said that, I'm not sure what to do about it. Eastern Time Zone is UTC-5 in the winter, UTC-4 during the Bush II Memorial Daylight Savings Time.

Most of the grumbling is with people who travel frequently, but wish to put all their appointments in in "local time" - rather than your case, which is the wrong default time zone to start with (and one that doesn't do DST, so you can't just fake it).

#202 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:31 PM:

Elliott Mason @152: I've started doing a variation of that: if it needs to go up- or downstairs, put it near the bottom/top of the stairs. Then when you're going up/down anyway and have a hand free, take the item(s) with you. We did a lot of sorting prior to having my in-laws over for Christmas Day, but I still need to tackle my home office.

Presently feeling demotivated because I got a Jury Summons - arrived Christmas Eve, ruining my vacation time - so I'm looking at a period of at least* two weeks out of my work - which means 80+ hours to catch up by working extra** unofficial, unpaid overtime once the jury service has finished (because I have deadlines to meet, and if I don't do the work it doesn't get done).

*could be longer, even much longer if I'm unlucky and get put onto a complicated case.

** I usually work 9 - 10 hours a day anyway.

#203 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 01:39 PM:

Syd @159/169: Glad you're at least temporarily settled. Good luck with the cat rehoming and with the aprtment building managing - hope that works out.

abi @186: Sympathies.

#204 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 02:00 PM:

The various housework bits are reminding me of Structured Procrastination.

#205 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 02:21 PM:

Carrie S @ #193:

There's some speculation on fan fora that the writer may be Tom Straw.

* There is a reference to Tow Straw in Castle's "bio" (winner of Nom DePlume Society's Tom Straw Award for Mystery Literature).

* The producers of the show have acknowledged that the real author of the Castle books has appeared on the show.

* Tom Straw appeared in the launch party episode and was seen speaking to Castle.

#206 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 03:22 PM:

AACK! Make it stop!!

Since my comment yesterday I have: put away the clean laundry from two weeks ago, tidied out the refrigerator, done three loads of guinea pig laundry, cleaned out half of my Kraft Korner, done my yoga, cleaned my bathroom, emptied the dishwasher and done the Tuesday dishes, tidied and consolidated my paints.

Now my head hurts and I ache all over. And I should probably eat something. Except that there's the other half of the Kraft Korner. And the desk. And....

"If anything is worth doing, it's worth overdoing."
—Lazarus Long

"But I don't want to fall over in a heap and be unable to move for a week."

Yes, moderation is definitely an issue here.

#207 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 04:28 PM:

My sympathies, abi. The history of my family-by-marriage is such that if I had an expat relative in your position, I'd say, "I hope you're wrong. But if you're right, I'm so glad that at least some of us (you, Martin and the kids) will be well out of it when it goes to hell."

For God's sake, doesn't it occur to people that in order to compare/contrast two different places, YOU HAVE TO KNOW THEM BOTH? Which, let me see now, you do and they don't?

#208 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 05:34 PM:

Random Dog Update: Gracie seems to have an upset stomach, so on the vet's advice (I phoned) she's on cottage cheese and bread for a day or two. I'm a little worried she'll turn up her nose at the Science Diet afterwards, but then she kinda was already (which was why I called the vet).

While walking her just now, we twice heard faraway dogs barking. The thing I found interesting was that the distant dogs were rapid-barking ("Yayayaya"), but Gracie responded very differently -- with a series of separate barks, a about one second apart or a bit more. The one time I did hear her rapid-barking was the other morning when we were out early and she saw a stag across the field. (She does not seem to like deer....)

#209 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 05:40 PM:

Jacque #206: guinea pig laundry

<blinks> Costumes for cavys?

Seriously, getting stuff done is good, but that should definitely include feeding yourself!

#210 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 06:08 PM:

Apropos of the housekeeping/cleaning thread: I've found the second biggest threat to my housekeeping after procrastination (For which the "Just pick up 5 things" rule helps, except with dusting) is the Invisibility Effect. Which is to say, that if a mess has been there long enough, it becomes part of the background, essentially invisible to the dweller until something (Guests over, for instance, or starting a marathon cleaning spree) brings it back to attention. And different people have different limits: some people can't let any mess turn invisible. For me, things that are messy but not outright dirty (piles of papers are particularly bad) do this all the time -- my desk is a disgrace -- until and unless I want to dust (I *notice* dust, but I procrastinate because there are so many things to move to get at it all). My husband, on the other hand, can tune out empty drink cans, chip bags, and dirty dishes in the living/dining room, unless the latter are actually smelly. (Yet, to be fair, he does the handwashing of dishes much more often than I; he cooks, so the mess in the kitchen is drawn to his attention and cannot actually trigger invisibility effects.)

Breaking this effect and seeing a stack of paper as something to clean up, not to clean around, is one thing I'm struggling with for my own housekeeping.

Jacque: That's part of why the "pick up 5 things" trick works (Ir the "clean while waiting for the tea to steep", which I've done but never thought of before as an actual cleaning technique) ; you start, and next thing you know, you've been cleaning for half an hour or an hour (And the tea is COLD...). But yes, stop before you make yourself collapse. Sounds like you've done lots.

#211 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 06:26 PM:

The Sidelight sidebar item that Patrick calls "Awesome Bordertown/Richard Thompson crossover songfic" also references "She's Leaving Home" from Sgt. Pepper, so perhaps it should be referred to as "Awesome Bordertown/Richard Thompson/Beatles crossover songfic"

#213 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 06:37 PM:

WRT housecleaning, one time my sister-in-law got some prednisone to treat a case of poison ivy. I said that I heard some people feel really super on the initial dose, and she confirmed it. She said she became a house cleaning demon for most of the day, just going gangbusters.

#214 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 06:50 PM:

Leonora Rose #210:

The Invisibility Effect is also (at least to me) known as Original Dirt. Works like Original Sin.

#215 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 07:24 PM:

In re DFD-relevant holiday songs, I really really like Jonathan Coulton's Christmas Is Interesting. I could tell just by listening to it that he's a child of divorce, too. :->
tl;dr (or didn't click, as the case may be): We have some really, really messed up stories tagged as 'traditional family heartwarming holiday fare', if you really look at them.

That's a video of Stephen Torrance signing it, because you can still hear the words (if you can hear to start with, that is), and I really love Stephen's 'covers' in general. The only concert videos of Mr. Coulton performing it live I could find were really dark and kind of odd, so I like this better.

#216 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 07:45 PM:

joann @214, Leonora Rose @210: I call that Peril-Tinted Sunglasses, with nod towards the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe. Partly because, in my mind, there are an entire class of happenings, people, behaviors, and facts that cause me to feel like I'm a mouse being stared at disapprovingly by an angry AND hungry hawk, and piled mess is one of them, and 'Things I Have Neglected That Are Worse And It Is My Fault' is another.

The good thing about having a history and childhood that have trained me to dissociate quickly and thoroughly is that I can take a step back (usually) from situations that are triggering me, take a breath, and see if I can find a habit or tool to help resolve them.

The bad thing about same is that I have a really dark pair of Peril-Tinted Sunglasses on an instant, guillotine-like snap-down reflex that try really hard to keep me from seeing some of the things that trigger me. Bad if I'm actually seeking to houseclean ...

Chore Theory and Meta-Analysis Metaphors
My method to avoid being sucked into endless cleaning until I'm exhausted (when all I WANT to do is a quickie while [insert dead-time here: my bagel is toasting, the noodle-water is boiling, the kid is taking a nap, the laundry is doing a cycle, etc]) is to deliberately choose quantum tasks, not continuous-variation tasks.

"Clean all the hand-wash-needing huge pots" is a quantum task, because it has a packet size and then there is no more.

"Tidy up the kid's loose toys" is a continuous task, unless I artificially limit it ("... in this one room," for example).

"Scrub the toilet" is a quantum packet of housework, clearly defined and with visible edges. Once I've done the few specific motions it involves, and flushed, and rinsed the brush and put it away, it is clear even to my brain that that particular task is over.

"Sort all the laundry into their proper loads" is a much longer, but still quantum, task, and has the added advantage that it facilitates another future task ("Take one load of laundry downstairs and turn the crank on 'laundry' by putting the dry, if any, into a hamper, moving wet to dryer, and putting new load in washer"). Tasks that facilitate future tasks are worth bonus points in my head, because they have a force-multiplier effect, meaning I get more total tasks done that day through pre-paying to discount the spoon cost of the later task. If that made any sense. Moving on ...

"Go outside and weed" is, to all intents and purposes, an endless task. "Weed around the tree out front" or "weed one bed" is a better way of chunking it; if you have an extended chores timeslot, you can, after completing the first, take another weeding 'task' while you're out there. That way you feel like you finished three quanta, rather than hitting yourself with the failure stick for ONLY doing, say, 2/5 of the available weeding area in the entire yard.

It took me a while to train myself to hit the end of a quantum and STOP. I'm much worse at it when I'm tired, which is why one night a couple of weeks ago I went downstairs to procure a pre-bed snack and found myself having spent 2 hours cleaning the kitchen. Admittedly, the kitchen was awesomely cleaner and more usable (instead of having various things piled everywhere getting in the way of, well, cooking and eating), but it meant it was 3:30AM and I still wasn't in bed. :->

Having people present to keep me company and distract the portions of my brain I'm not using for the meniality of the task is a massive force-multiplier for me, even if they're not actively helping clean (though they often do).

I also trick myself into prioritizing cleaning by scheduling regular "3-10 people come over for An Activity" parties (housefilks, game nights, cookie-baking bees, etc). When I know The Hordes Are Descending on a particular day, and there better be clear floor/chairs to sit in/a path into the kitchen/clean dishes/countertop available, it helps me actually do it. If it's just for my own convenience and the use of my family, my hindbrain tends to let it slip a lot longer. I find it a lot easier to clean 'for' others than for myself, which is messed up, but I'm not ashamed of using it to my advantage now and then.

#217 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 09:02 PM:

Lenora Rose @210 - I'm already in the habit of using a timer for steeping my tea because otherwise it goes cold while I read a book or knit or futz around on the computer, so I've already got a bit of built-in limitation on not overdoing the cleaning. :D

Jacque - glad to hear you're making progress, though please don't overdo it!

I had an unexpected benefit to housecleaning today: I went outside to beat a rug and saw a beautiful redtail hawk soaring against the blue sky.

#218 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 09:13 PM:

I'm reading the housekeeping subthread with a quirked eyebrow and deeply ingrained wariness.

Mostly because I tend to find tidiness vastly overrated.

I am quite probably taking advantage of a spouse whose clutter tolerance threshold is much, much lower than mine, as a result of which he's ended up being primarily responsible for things like vacuuming the cat hair, cleaning the bathroom, and similar life maintenance tasks.

I imagine that I am doing well to keep up with my own laundry, and note that the rule in our double-income-no-kids kitchen is that one cooks dinner and the other one generally washes up (unless racing off to a meeting or curled up sick, in which case the dishes will get washed tomorrow.)

I have a vague sense of guilt that I should be doing more housework, but I have too many doable things that are far more interesting than sorting through a pile of random stuff that's sitting on the sideboard not hurting anything, just looking disorderly and unfinished.

(I think the christmas bowl has been out there since last year. I suppose I should put it away soon.)

#219 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 09:23 PM:

Housework is a combinatorics problem it seems-- If the ideal is "a place for everything and everything in its place" as some say, the amount of possible disorder is a function of the number of things you have.

#220 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2011, 10:40 PM:

That's enough reading about housework for me; it's time to do the washing up.

Well, strictly speaking, it was time to do the washing up two hours ago...

#221 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:49 AM:

Jacque @ 206

Yes, my biggest threat to productivity is that I tend to get involved in doing things, and neglect self-care until I find myself at the point where I'm not really able to do anything else until I restabilize myself.

I've been trying to be better about being on a schedule -- I know it doesn't work for everyone, but when I can make myself adhere to three scheduled, predictable meals and a routine bedtime, somehow many other things get done. It's just that when I'm trying to get back in that habit, I have to retrain myself from thinking of self-care as a distraction that takes time away from things that need doing.

Getting on top of chores always has to start with re-establishing solid self-care routines for me. Then I can slot housekeeping in as another form of self-care and a modification of my existing habits, in a proportional way that increases gradually as I get more caught up and can take on more new things. It fits into much the same mind-space as taking a new medication, or exercising -- something I need to do to maintain my (mental) health and stability.

Otherwise, it takes up a guilt slot until I binge-clean, ruin myself, and then it piles up horrifically until I recover enough to binge-clean again. I try to avoid that.

#222 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:55 AM:

Oh, one of my mother's general summer things turned into something of a tip:

Pretend to be Cinderella. My mother does a lot of garden work in the summer-- she's a teacher-- by walking around, plucking whatever weeds she finds. The idea of 'weeding' isn't one I've grown up with; she's pretty much continuously pulling them up as she does her flower walks. A decent amount of the time, she pretends she's the lady of the manor, or the daughter, or anything like that. She also pretends that no one can see her in our corner-lot backyard; she told the new neighbors on that side that sometimes she won't say hi because she likes to think no one's there, and now they say things like, "I didn't wave to you yesterday! You looked like you were having such a good time being alone!"

But really, being Cinderella kind of works.

I really second Elliott's quantized tasks, too. I stopped putting continuous things on my to-do list because I realized I could never make myself cross them off. 'Clean the living room' isn't nearly as good as 'Tidy the table*, straighten the couch, blankets, and pillows, tidy the other table, move your things to your room, dust the surfaces, sweep, and vacuum, then empty the vacuum in the kitchen garbage.' Why would I want to cross off one item rather than ten?

*'tidy' is shorthand for 'everything except the yarn goes where it goes'.

#223 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 02:16 AM:

Woot product writeups have always been good, but every once in a while you get something that looks like it should win a flash fic competition.

#224 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 03:07 AM:

Erik, #219: If the ideal is "a place for everything and everything in its place" as some say, the amount of possible disorder is a function of the number of things you have.

And not just any function, either -- a factorial function.

#225 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 04:31 AM:

At least it's not Ackermann's function.

#226 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:00 AM:

Abi @ 186... It makes me want to say unforgivable and burn some bridges

I was sorely tempted to do that during the meal with my wife's family during Christmas. Not that my conservative father-in-law questionned my love for America, but some of the things he said brought me very close to questionning his love for what America is supposed to stand for.

#227 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:03 AM:

geekosaur, what's the string of code you use to pop directly to a previous comment?

#228 ::: TexAnne sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:07 AM:

I'd be far more impressed by that "Spot the Saint" particle if the writer hadn't confused croziers and miters. (OTOH, the Aquinas vita is really good.)

#229 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:40 AM:

TexAnne @ 228... Time to launch the crozier missels?

#230 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:06 AM:

TexAnne #228: You see spam all the time?

It's tough wearing a crozier on your head.

Serge Broom #229: Would those be guided or heat-seeking missals?

#231 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:23 AM:

Fragano, 228: Aw, dammit--borrowed computers require different sets of muscle memory. :-P

#232 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:29 AM:

TexAnne #231: I teach a unit on Aquinas in my autumn semester political theory class. I point out to the students that Aquinas was a university instructor (at the time a new profession), and say that obviously he died at 49 because dealing with students sent him to an early grave.

#233 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:03 PM:

geekosaur @ 225 ...
At least it's not Ackermann's function.

Are we sure it's not a dysfunction?

#234 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:07 PM:

I am constantly amused at what people consider nerdy. From abi's excellent parhelion "Fantasy armor and lady bits", the author's bio:

Ryan is an engineering graduate student at the University of Waterloo and is attempting to improve the science of Mountain Bikes. His hobbies are myriad: camping, video games, fencing, painting, juggling, acting, armor smithing, D&D (yeah that nerdy), drumming and anything else that wanders along. His skeptical bent is understanding how humans learn and how they come to believe. [my emphasis]

This, from an armor smith.

#235 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:09 PM:

Well -- the finish line is in sight. Today is my last day as a Federal employee. Tomorrow I'll be on leave. And the official retirement date is 12/31/2011 as far as payroll is concerned.

It was really strange shipping off all the timekeeping and training records -- they went back to Chicago at the beginning of this pay period. I've spent the last few days cleaning out my desk and shredding the items that needed to be disposed of, plus making sure that my local duties got handed off to one of the auditors.

Saturday, I'll be posting from my home computer or maybe from the Kindle Fire I purchased with the horde of Amazon gift cards my coworkers showered me with at my retirement lunch. I was and am stunned by their overwhelming generosity.

I'm feeling a little melancholy here -- while I can't say I always loved my job, there are many people I am going to miss, even if I do have their email addresses.

Next time I post I'll have to figure out how to link the new email address to the old posts...

#236 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:18 PM:

HLN: Area woman suspects she has broken or sprained toe next to pinky toe on left foot. Swollen, discolored, stiff, hard/painful to bend. Painful, generally. Been icing.

Not happy. Was planning museum trip tomorrow . . . .

#237 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:20 PM:

The technique I've seen before is to post two successive messages in the open thread, one with the old address saying "This is the end of this see-all-by, but not the end of my contributions; see the next post in this open thread for a link to the rest" and one with the new address saying "This is the beginning of this see-all-by, but not the beginning of my contributions; see the previous post in this open thread for a link to the rest".

#238 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:43 PM:

Bill Higgins @182: Rusty Hevelin

I only crossed paths with him once or twice, but he seemed like a nice guy. :-(

#239 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 12:53 PM:

@225: Ackerman's function? Does that represent the amount of fannish clutter one possesses?

#240 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 01:22 PM:

Carol, 227: This is how I do it.
1) Right-click on the date-and-time posting info of the comment you want to reference.
2) On the menu box that pops up, click "Copy Link Location".
3) Paste the saved link into an HREF statement just as you would any other URL link.

I have no idea whether or not it works the same way on a Mac.

#241 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 02:00 PM:

HLN: My girlfriend and I got an email from our landlady this morning saying we can get into the new apartment earlier than we were expecting - which means we don't have to carry all of her stuff up two flights of stairs into my apartment! And we can do a walkthrough before we go into crazy-moving-mode tomorrow (with a bunch of our friends).

Life is awesome!

...and the housekeeping subthread is timely, since we've both been cleaning like mad to insure that we get our respective deposits back.

#242 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 02:26 PM:

nerdycellist @185: I love Ardala, I really do. Dogs are such a miracle of co-evolution, but I really, really wish the roommate weren't allergic to much cheaper cats.

You may want to confer with David Harmon about that. :-)

My beloved Gustav crossed the $2K mark a while ago. That's on the order of a thousand dollars a pound.

abi @186: basically, they ignore my views and think less of me for leaving.

No help, I'm sure, but I'm on the flip side: "If abi is smart enough to leave...." makes me wonder if I should, too. ::gulp::

Ellen @188: Hello everyone!

Hello, yourself! I've been enjoying UFYH, too.

#243 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 02:32 PM:

re 239: ... which you get rid of using a Forry-er Transform ...

#244 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 03:07 PM:

Lee@240: The Mac equivalent is "Copy Link", but otherwise it's basically the same. Note that only the comment number (with "#" prepended) is actually necessary, but your method is easier.

#245 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 03:18 PM:

In the ongoing tragicomedy about being on-so-moderately screwed by the telcos, there's this example of suckitude:

Verizon charges extra to pay online

I haven't used Verizon is a while, but I guarantee this kind of thing isn't likely to make me want to switch back.

#246 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 04:32 PM:

Re my 105 on looking for an alternative to Google calendar for shared family scheduling. I have found Cozi which has a free option and a low-cost paid option and looks like it's going to be exactly what I needed. Besides the calendar, it also has options for shared to-do lists, grocery lists, meal plans, etc.

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 05:50 PM:

nerdycellist #185: Amex in the freezer in a block of ice.

OK, that's hardcore!

and with Jacque #242: Oh, I've no doubt cats are cheaper, and certainly Gremlin's biggest expenses were at the end of her life. but I haven't had time for much beyond startup-costs for Gracie. I got handed Gremlin when I was barely out of college; I always expected to "work up to" a dog eventually, but as it turned out, was never in a situation (finance×space×spoons) where I could have dealt with both the cat and a dog. (And when I originally got Gremlin, I also had a rabbit! Upkeep, cheap. Property damage, not so much.)

#248 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 06:20 PM:

Fragano @ 230... Luckily the Nave-ee is patrolling the Holy Waters.

#249 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 06:40 PM:

Serge Broom #248: I thought you'd soutane this particular subthread.

#250 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 06:52 PM:

Holiday closing typo of the day, redirecting from a closed coffee bar at the fish market: "Our brassiere is open to serve you"

#251 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 06:55 PM:

Well, we wound up spending around $1200 all told to get the correct diagnosis and treatment for Ardala's UTI/Pain issue. The dx for the torn CCL cost $300, and the TPLO surgery is $4085. The Amex is in the freezer because it's a charge which has to be paid off each month. The short-term no-interest loan I took out will be taking up all my "credit card" money. On the plus side I guess is that paying that one off in 6 months ought to continue to improve my credit and maybe even get me a lower interest rate when I buy a car in the second half of the year.

We were considering taking her to fancy physical therapy for her spondylosis/leg lameness when she finally blew out her CCL - due mostly to her overcompensating for so long on the other hind leg. We first noticed her beginning to limp about a year and a half ago. When we brought it up to our (ex)vet, it was suggested that like many aging dogs, she maybe had some arthritis in her hip. They prescribed an NSAID "as needed". You know what the crazy thing is? A dog can't tell you when "as needed" is. She had in fact probably been in pain for some time before she started limping.

If I got to start all over again, I would have asked the vet how much Xrays were and saved up for them - back, specifically, since she's long-backed. Then maybe the pain and inflammation from the spondylosis could have been caught in time to mitigate the favoring of the one leg. But I guess it was just easier to take the (cheap) expert's advice and assume "Yeah, old dog. Gimpy. Normal."

I'm picking her up tonight, have ordered a lifting harness for overnight delivery by tomorrow. It would certainly be easier to rehabilitate her if she had full use of the other back leg. I'd love to start her on PT Saturday, but I'm not sure how the Care Credit works when I haven't been issued the card yet. I know her vet's office took my account # as payment for part of the surgery (roommate is getting the remainder) but I'm not sure if the PT place can do the same. Roommate is too panicky about money (despite making more than I do) to contemplate the cost of the PT, so that will have to fall to me as well.

On the plus side, everyone in the vet's office just loves Ardala, so it's good to know that even with no working back legs, she can still wag her tail like a pro!

#252 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 07:18 PM:

Melissa Singer at 236
I had exactly the same deal, broken toe next to littlest. What helped was taping it gently but firmly to the next one. This is called the "buddy toe" system by medical professionals.

Thank you, Lee at 240 and David Goldfarb at 244. I have a PC and Firefox, only capturing the date/time code works. But it works!

#253 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 07:19 PM:

So much for spotting and deleting the extra line of code on preview.

#254 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 07:22 PM:

Fragano @ 249... Well, I do have this bad habit.

#255 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 07:52 PM:

Carol Kimball @227:
I wrote up some AppleScript to do it for me; in practice I triple-click on one of the triple colons (which selects the entire line) and pick "Making Light reply" from the Services menu, and it stuffs a formatted comment header into the pasteboard for me to paste into the entry box. :) Doing it manually, as noted, is copying the date-and-time link.

(Automator workflow for the above service, for the curious. Unzip in ~/Library/Services, which you may need to create beforehand; if not on Lion you probably need to open and re-save in Automator. Error reporting expects you to have growlnotify installed, due to bugs in early Growl 1.3 releases.)

#256 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 08:22 PM:

Carry on with the excellent puns, I just have a side comment:

There has been a lot of very depressing news lately on both the macro and micro scales.

This made me feel better.

Maybe it could make someone else feel better too.

Playing For Change's version of Gimme Shelter.

#257 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 08:26 PM:

Carol Kimball @253: reputable medical sites online are pretty evenly divided on the virtues of taping vs. non-taping. went most of the day without, largely due to not having tape, but now have tape. toe feels slightly better. I'm now leaning toward break rather than sprain--toe quite swollen. Bends, though, so maybe not.

#258 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 08:52 PM:

Reading deeper about it, apparently what they're charging for is single-time payment by plastic, rather than automagic payment. (I write them a check. I don't trust automagic payments.)

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 09:25 PM:

C. Wingate, #243: 88888888888888888888888888888888888
(peanuts thrown at the punster)

Steve, #245: Well. That would explain why we got a very insistent sales call today from Verizon, trying to convince us to go back on contract (we've been month-to-month for quite a while now) -- they want to lock us in so that we can't jump ship when they start doing this.

What they've probably convinced us to do instead is go over to Credo for our cellphone service.

#260 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 09:28 PM:

Melissa, about toes: I found that a small cheesecloth pad between the broken toe and the healthy one was much more comfortable than plain tape.

#261 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 09:53 PM:

Open-thready end-of-year thankfulness: I've just finished transcribing all the scribbled-down quotes I accumulated this year into my little commonplace book. It's illuminating how many of them are from people right here on Making Light (yes, I see what I did there). Thank you all for another year of community and inspiration!

And I'll leave you with this one: "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else." --Charles Dickens

#262 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:03 PM:

TexAnne: the teen-in-residence, having had an actual, diagnosed-by-a-professional broken toe last summer, already yelled at me for not putting anything between the toes. I'll be untaping at bedtime, and retaping in the morning, with some kind of separator. Though I might retape to sleep--not sure if I'll "bang" my foot when turning over.

And from continual re-use, my frozen peas are no longer quite frozen enough.

General annoyances abound. I am wondering if a broken toe is enough of a hindrance to get use of a wheelchair at the museum tomorrow. I would feel weird about it, but suspect I won't be able to walk enough to enjoy myself.

#263 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:10 PM:

Melissa Singer @463 -- about the wheelchair at the Museum: ask them (the museum staff). Not asking (politely) is like rejecting your own story (rather than letting an editor do hir job). If it would make things better for you, why not give them a chance to do their job gracefully?

#264 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:28 PM:

I'm pleased to see Corey Robin's The Revolutionary Mind appear in the Sidelights. I've been reading it and finding that, while much of what he says is not a very strenuous challenge to what I've come to think over the years, it does manage to explain a few things that I've long found terribly confusing, for example A) the strange affinity between dominionists, producerists and militarists, and B) the severity of the blind spot that conservatives seem to have when it comes to making common cause with the Left when their interests would otherwise be very well served by it.

#265 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 10:42 PM:

Tom: It's that whole not wanting to be a burden/problem thing. Someone would have to push, kwim? And it would mean having to find/use elevators instead of just tromping around as per usual. And what I want to see is part of the permanent collection (new Islamic art galleries). So not like there's a rush.

Plus, it might freak out the the teen, who is already a little freaked ("what would happen if I wasn't home?" . . . pretty much the same thing that happened today, because you weren't home, lol).

#266 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:11 PM:

I completely understand the "not wanting to be a problem" thing, Melissa -- I'm very guilty of it myself. And the question I'm trying to get myself to ask by recommending this is: would it be more of a problem in the long run to learn to ask now, or to wait until I completely and utterly *need* something and have no experience with asking? As with so many such answers, it's much more about trying to talk myself into being willing to consider such approaches than insisting that you should do so. And I do know that you are quite capable of making such a decision when it's necessary.

#267 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:18 PM:

Tom: It's easier to ask for myself but for others. I'm great as asking for stuff for my kid, or even for me if it benefits my kid. Everything from tiny stuff to "can my daughter stay with you while I'm out of town for a weekend?"

But for myself, yeah, still tough. And it will inconvenience a bunch of folks tomorrow, if only because I will be s-l-o-w.


Bed is calling.

#268 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2011, 11:40 PM:

Yup, Melissa. Very similar here.

#269 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 12:36 AM:

Melissa Singer @265: My mom, who generally uses a cane, gets a wheelchair at the museum and when we're not pushing she pushes it herself, using it to lean on. Then when she gets to something she wants to look at, she sits down in the chair to look at it. This works pretty well for keeping the group together without anyone getting worn out.

#270 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 12:48 AM:

@#251 ::: nerdycellist
Don't the little buggers break your heart. Just a hint from experience - if your pup has trouble with stairs, using a folded towel as a sling under the hind end can help you boost her up as she regains use of her back legs. Down the stairs is still an issue, but for up, I've used this method on mine. This has also helped my mom with her dog, Freddy, who currently has as many diagnoses for her back as my 70 year old dad. Freddy's a standard schnauzer who looks akin to a whippet due to her spine issues.

My little sh*t is a mini schnauzer* with diabetes, atypical Cushing's that morphed into more typical Cushing's, blindness etc. She'll turn 11 next month, and we've beat the odds for her as dogs with diabetes and Cushing's don't typically make it a year past diagnosis. Yes, her monthly meds and vet checks are way more costly than my car payment. Pepper is a whole lot cuter than the car and snuggles much better.

*Hmmm. I put this up there next to my dog's breed, but entirely forgot what I might want to indicate. Well, let's just assume it was something witty and pithy, and leave it there.

#271 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 01:25 AM:

Thanks, Trish B. Ardala's home now and sleeping really hard. She's a corgi mix and relatively low to the ground, so I've ordered a special harness to do what the towel would do as far as supporting her hind end. It comes with a long strap so that her aging servant monkeys don't have to stoop over so much. Since we've got a choice of stairs or an incline, neither of which are recommended for the first month or so of recovery, we've purchased a "potty patch" for our balcony. I hope she figures out what it's for, because having to pick her up and haul her to the elevator, through the garage and up the driveway will eventually have some serious repercussions for my own spine.

As tired as she is, she's still spitting out pills like a f*ing ninja. Doc says she shouldn't start any kind of physical therapy for at least 8 weeks, so we'll follow her advice. Thank god we've got a 4 day weekend to figure some of this stuff out!

#272 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 02:07 AM:

Melissa Singer@236ff - Ouch, sorry to hear about your toe. I've broken a few over the years, usually from colliding with immovable objects, had medical attention the first time or two and learned how to tape them (and learned that they're not going to do anything more than tape and ibuprofen unless it's really badly broken.) I found that a cane helps a lot, though if the museum has the kind of wheelchair you can roll yourself, that might be a good idea.

A few years ago, I'd broken two toes within a few months, and my doctor suggested a bone density test. The local YMCA was having a scanning clinic, and I was the youngest person there by about 20 years, and they found that my bone density was a lot lower than it should be. A couple years of taking calcium pills and it's back to normal, but it's worth checking out if it happens again.

#273 ::: TrishB ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 02:39 AM:

#271 ::: nerdycellist
Gotchya. Very glad to hear that Ardala is home now. Low to the ground makes everything very different. My sister had an aging and ill Dandie Dinmont terrier who passed recently. Watching a Dandie “run” is an exercise in frustration, as there seems to be more sideways than forward movement happening at any given moment.

Pills – find Pill Pockets if you can. Yes, they are stupidly expensive, but you don’t need to use them as directed. Get the larger ones for capsules. Pinch the tiniest bit to coat the pill. In my experience, the dogs scarf them down – to the point I dosed my wrong dog with melatonin last night. My vet sells a different version that are much more crumbly and far less stinky. The ones I’m talking about are made by Greenies, smell like three day old diaper and make all dogs want to take pills.

#274 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 05:39 AM:

I am unsure what to say about Rusty Hevelin's death.

I will say this: During That Hideous Summer (there are people here who will know what I am referring to), when Good Guys were few and far between, Rusty Hevelin was one of the Good Guys.

I have never understood the level of animosity that small group of people suddenly developed toward Rusty Hevelin, or why Getting Rid Of Rusty Hevelin became the most important thing in the world to them, so important that they would throw away their principles, their reputations, their friendships with anyone and everyone outside that small group to accomplish it.

It seemed like insanity. That's not a joke, not an exaggeration, not just putting Bad Labels on people. That small group of people really, actually seemed to have lost their minds. That wasn't just my opinion or pereption; it was shared by a lot of people.

I have never understood it. I have never understood it. I have never understood it.

(This topic is still an emotional hot potato to many of the people involved, and generally avoided, even decades later. And several of the people involved participate here. So even this much may have been too much to write.)

#275 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 07:13 AM:

Serge Broom #254: Isn't that too much of a hassock?

#276 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 08:55 AM:

I didn't know until last night that Grand Central Station has rats. Bronze rats

#277 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 10:07 AM:

Slightly better photo of the rats here, a little more than halfway down the page:

Decided to pass on museum trip. Foot achy, head achy (slept badly). Bruise extends onto foot for about the width of my thumb. Toe still swollen.

I tend to swing my legs out a little when I walk (I guess I waddle?), so it's not uncommon for me to bang my feet onto stuff if the path is narrow or something else (like a cat) is trying to pass me. In this case, I whacked my foot in the same spot twice w/in 12 hours--once on the side of a plastic milk crate full of books and once on the case of the two-volume The Completely Mad Don Martin that I bought myself as a gift and is too heavy to shelve.

Hit right above the pinky toe (my pinky toes are very short) on the neighboring toe. The angle was slightly from above as well as from the side.

#278 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 10:17 AM:

Serge @ 248: Will they be demon-strating their Hellfires?

#279 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 11:00 AM:

Do No Taunt Laser Eye Cat.

I hope the mice in that store evolve ablative coats ASAP.

#280 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 02:39 PM:

Would you believe Ardala hates pill pockets? Last month we dosed her with anitbiotics wrapped in lunch meat or tucked in chicken breast. This morning we successfully pilled her, but she wasn't happy. Also, because she's in a little pain (the lowered her NSAID dose slightly because she has a pain patch and they don't want her thinking she feels better enough to be too active) she's not hungry. She had a few pieces of her treat roll, and hopefully that will be enough to buffer the metacam and cephaloxin before we can get some chicken into her. I tried to explain that she won't feel better if she doesn't eat, but frustratingly enough, she never learned English despite living with us for over 5 years. Lazy thing.

#281 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 03:03 PM:

nerdycellist @ 280: I've also heard of people putting pills in pats of butter. My Boston terrier preferred chicken skin over the breast meat, or (even better!) bacon. However, towards the end she got really good at eating the wrapping and then spitting the pill back out on the kitchen tile with a look of confused disgust, so YMMV.

#282 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 03:08 PM:

nerdycellist @280:

One of our dogs gets a special diet that includes canned wet food; I give both of them their medications wrapped in a bit of the wet food, and they gobble it up. At times, when the pills were large or numerous, I've put them in a bit of cream cheese. I have yet to see a dog refuse that, and the stickiness makes it difficult for them to spit the pills out without losing the treat (though they occasionally succeed at that).

#283 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 03:16 PM:

Oh, the cream cheese worked really well for her last course of antibiotics! But right now she feels so miserable she doesn't want to eat anything. Tried feeding her cream cheese, turkey dog, beef jerky treat, chicken baby food... she's just cranky and probably in a bit of pain right now and refusing most food, pill-laden or no.

She's also discovered a whole new range of pathetic vocalizations - ranging from cow noises, to the sound an AT-AT makes when it falls down. I suspect she may be playing us.

#284 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 05:08 PM:

Creamy peanut butter worked sometimes when our late lamented Tigger the Pointer needed pills.

#285 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 06:53 PM:

Bruce, #274: I knew something about your comment was sounding unhappily apropos. When I went back and looked at it again, the similarity popped up:

I have never understood the level of animosity that small group of people suddenly developed toward [Barack Obama], or why Getting Rid Of [Barack Obama] became the most important thing in the world to them, so important that they would throw away their principles, their reputations, their friendships with anyone and everyone outside that small group to accomplish it... It seemed like insanity. That's not a joke, not an exaggeration, not just putting Bad Labels on people. That small group of people really, actually seemed to have lost their minds.

Congressional Republicans as fan-feud. Ye ghods, it would explain so much.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 09:01 PM:

My mother broke one of her toes by accidentally kicking a leg on a step-stool. It was several days before she took it to the doctor, and I don't think they even taped it, although they did say that there's not much that can be done for broken toes.

#287 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 09:42 PM:

Re: Broken Toes

I broke my toe once (bare foot vs oak chair at low velocity). Total medical treatment was lots of ibuprofen, and the doctor looking at it and saying "Yep. You broke it".

It was the big toe, so taping it wasn't considered to be an option, though I did ask about it. Healed completely in about five weeks.

#288 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 30, 2011, 10:55 PM:

Many thanks for toe anecdotes!

Didn't tape today, but also went nowhere other than in apartment, so was barefoot all day (and was mostly on couch anyway). Boring day for daughter, who also decided to skip museum trip (nice kid).

Tomorrow, must do laundry, which I expect will be ouchy. Will not be able to wear usual comfy slippers (they have heels), so will need to wear closed shoes and tape toe.

Also need to do food shopping tomorrow or Sunday. Even if teen does much of the carrying, I will need to walk outside.

I figure on at least a month for healing, given past adventures, and am now hoping it does not snow within that timeframe.

#289 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 12:05 AM:

Nerdycellist @283: Bella sez to tell Ardala that liverwurst is yummy! Also peanut butter and cheese, as mentioned by others, and bits of frankfurters (don't call than h*t d*gs). Get better soon.

#290 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 12:27 AM:

Ooh. Snow with hurt toe sounds like Not Fun.

#291 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 12:36 AM:

I just finished mainlining all seven Mageworlds books, and they're just as good as I remembered. No, wait...they're better, because this time I was able to see all the plot strands gathered together like glowing silver threads.* If you haven't read these books, you're missing out.

*yes, Dr. Doyle, I saw what u did thar.

#292 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 12:50 AM:

Toes hurt like the blazes when broken, but in my case the experience didn't seem to have a lasting effect. I broke one once playing basketball barefoot on a cement court. Ten years later I broke another one, also playing basketball on a cement court.

Slow learner.

The second time around I just taped it myself, since that's all the student health center did the first time.

#293 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 01:34 AM:

Just a very quick update - the Amazing Girlfriend and I have successfully moved into the New Apartment together (after two days of absolutely exhausting labor, today with the help of good friends and cars). We're about to collapse into bed, utterly exhausted after moving, cleaning and unpacking.


#294 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 03:23 AM:

nerdycellist @ 283: The best dog-pilling product we ever found was two pieces of "better cheddar" sausage. This does, of course, rely on the dog having some appetite.

Cut a sausage into short pieces, and pop them into a ziplock bag to use as needed. The soft cheese in the sausage makes it easy to push in a pill. Hold up the 2nd (pill-free piece), and give the first one. The dog gulps down the first, eyes fixed on the second. Second one goes down, and there's no nonsense about identifying and spitting out the pill.

I'm a sort-of vegetarian myself, and found this product quite revolting. The only pill-hiding product that both my dog and I found esthetically pleasing was a soft cheese like brie, but that's rather spendy!

#295 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 04:03 AM:

Ginger @ 278... their HellFires

...and a torture that involves a surplice of bad jokes.

#296 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 08:56 AM:

The Skiffy Channel's traditional "Twilight Zone" marathon is about to begin, and the 2nd episode will be "In Praise of Pip", with a very young Bill Mumy and the wonderful Jack Klugman.

#297 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 11:30 AM:

Re broken toes, agreed that taping and painkillers seem to be all the doctors will do -- it's what they did for a friend of mine when a desk fell on his toe (cheap grad-student particleboard computer desk that got wet during a move and later collapsed), so when I suspected I had a broken toe a few years later I didn't bother to go in for an X-ray; just taped it myself. Fortunately it was during the summer so I could wear sandals.

#298 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 11:59 AM:

More on broken, or otherwise injured and therefore swole-up toes: Arnica gel is the bee's knees for bringing down the swelling. Only problem is you have to touch the affected area to rub it in.

(I banged an index toe against a small plastic step last week, and applied arnica as soon as the "I've got to just stay immobile here a minute and suck the pain in" phase had stopped. Pure magic--not even swelling the next day, much less discoloration.)

#299 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 12:25 PM:

Verizon blinked.

Also, AOL does the right thing and gets slammed anyhow. Apparently refusing to play host for a huge conflict of interest is now a "dumb business move".

#300 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 02:20 PM:

Lee @ 299 -

What always sourly amuses me about this sort of thing is that these corporations employ really smart guys. They plan it, spreadsheet it, scope it, PowerPoint it, hash it out, staff it, and then announce it. And then they go, "Oh. We screwed up." and thousands of hours of labor is disposed of.

There's some kind of Dilbertian principle at work here. When so many people spend so long on a project, it acquires a cloak of pseudo-intelligence. After all, this thing must be smart, otherwise so many smart people wouldn't be devoting their time to it. It's a lot like sunk costs.

#301 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 03:06 PM:

Another useful thing on any sort of swelling -- keep it above your heart as much as possible. With toes, that means sleep with it elevated. The old RICE mnemonic is helpful here: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. The wrapping provides both compression and stabilization (a good thing). The other bits are worth paying attention to, when possible. Ice is the one with the biggest potential problems: freezing parts of one's body is a bad idea, so do it frequently for short periods (ca. 15 min 4 times per day or more) and if something gets numb, stop icing. And consult a doctor if it gets worse or persists.... IANAD, so don't consult me.

#302 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 03:30 PM:

I think they told me "no ice" for the broken toe.

#303 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 04:07 PM:

I'd be interested to know why no ice -- it is relatively easy to over-cool peripheral digits, and maybe they were afraid of that.

#304 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 04:56 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @293: Well done! May you live there together happily.

Melissa Singer: Sympathies for the toe and hope it heals quickly.

#305 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 04:58 PM:

HLN: Local woman completes first 24-mile run as her last run of 2011. Legs amazingly not feeling too bad. training towards 50 K (31 mile) race continues...

#306 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 04:58 PM:

A couple of provisos--

Home care for toe fractures which consists of buddy taping the broken toe to the next one over (with something in between to prevent maceration, er, chafing) is okay 95% of the time. Lamb's wool is the best, I've been told. We use small chunks of cotton balls in the office, not having any sheep handy. Paper tape doesn't hold well, but the others tend to rip off skin when removed.

Elevation is great. Prolonged use of ice is not so good on things that stick out from the body (TM).* Ears, nose, fingers, toes, and male parts f'rinstance.

However, if it is an open fracture--i.e. you rip off a toenail or cut open the skin over the fracture site, that should be evaluated. Nobody wants an infection in a bone, trust me.

If the most tender part of the toe aligns to a joint, you are more likely to develop arthritis, so that might be worth a look. The great toe is harder to fracture, but we usually put folks in a cast shoe for support if you manage to pull that one off.

If there's a fracture-dislocation--part of your toe is at an odd angle, say 90 degrees, from the rest of the toe, you need to be seen, sooner rather than later.**

Jim's standard disclaimer***, slightly revised: I am doctor, but this is general knowledge type stuff and I have no intention of practicing medicine on line because Colorado gives folks long prison sentences for that kind of thing. There is no substitute in my life for actually being able to examine the patient. You'd be amazed at what I can find sometimes. I know I am.

*Some people have over-reactive arteries in the digits which clamp down too enthusiastically with cold exposure--called Raynaud's phenomenon.

**Although most of my patients have just grabbed the dislocated toe and straightened it out themselves. They usually do a decent job of getting back into position, too. Still not recommended.

***I was waiting for Jim to post about this, it would have been better written.

#307 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:02 PM:

My sympathies to Ardala -- wishing her a speedy recovery. My dogs are enjoying having me home. I'm wondering how they'll react when I don't go off to work next week...

#308 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:21 PM:

Melissa: OUCH -- healing vibes headed your way. I've never managed to break any bones, my specialty seems to be soft tissue damage. I'll second the recommmendation on arnica gel, the stuff is marvelous.

(I'm tired of hearing x-ray techs say, "Gee we coulda done more for you if you'd broken it!")

#309 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:30 PM:

Tom@303, I think it was concern about the cold damaging soft tissues that need to be healing after the break, while for sprains and stuff the cold relaxes the muscles so they can go healing better. But it's been a while, and memory often gets rusty.

#310 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:33 PM:

Happy Extra-Early New Year to Samoa and Tokelau, which decided to jump into the future by moving the International Date Line so they're on the Australian side instead of the American side! (Apparently the IDL is kind of like a stretchy clothesline, so you can push it around if you want..)

#311 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:48 PM:

Bill Stewart @ #310, It's even more impressive. The IDL remained in the same place; they moved the islands!

#312 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 05:52 PM:

Toe hurts less, so I'm assuming things are progressing correctly rather than incorrectly.

Swelling's gone down quite a bit and toe bends and flexes in correct directions without making me yelp (ouch ouch ouch is not yelping). No visible misalignment; no broken skin (either would have had me off to urgent care).

Bruise, otoh, larger and starting to look unpleasant in color.

I did ice--helped with the pain--and elevate, though not above heart. Took Tylenol yesterday because of headache more than footache; took Tylenol today because I had to walk.

Did not tape yesterday, but taped today, with a little stuffed-animal stuffing wrapped in "tender tape" between the toes ("tender tape" also wrapped around toes, so no skin will be sacrificed), again because I had to put a shoe on and walk outside.

Shoe semi-comfortable, walking less comfortable as time went on, and tiring. Expect to use walking stick for a few days--serves as marker for others that I'm not 100% and will help (along with greying hair) to get seat on subway.

#313 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 06:38 PM:

Well, it's 2012 in Europe. In the Netherlands, that means it's loud and smells like gunpowder.

A very happy new year to everyone on Making Light, as it comes to you all.

#314 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 06:38 PM:


dates in this article

#315 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 06:46 PM:

Happy New Year, Abi! I was always astonished at the number of fireworks shot off in my neighborhood when I was living in Germany -and glad everyone had tile roofs. Here in Kansas I expect to just hear a couple of firecrackers, which simply doesn't compare.

#316 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 06:52 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 309 -- cold stimulates, rather than relaxing the muscles; heat relaxes it (within non-damaging parameters, of course). Heat tends to dilate blood vessels, increasing blood flow, increasing swelling; cold does the opposite, at least the way I was taught. Personal experience: if cold is right for me, it *feels* right; if it's wrong, it feels terrible. Warm (as opposed to hot!) is not as predictable, for me.

#317 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 07:12 PM:

Open threadiness:

Jim Macdonald, thank you for your post on ICS way back when. It was a pebble that started other pebbles rolling. I finished my first ICS course today; did CDLS last month and will be doing BDLS and ADLS in March.

(Now if only my local CERT team would update its freaking webpage....)

Happy New Year, all. Stay safe!

#318 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 07:55 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe #293: Congratulations!
Melissa Singer: Commiserations!

Still 4 hours from 2012 here.... I'm bagging on the local First Night celebrations, as I'm already a bit short on sleep, and generally can't be arsed.

#319 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 08:37 PM:

I'm planning to stay off the net for about 24 hours, so Happy New Year! Enjoy your celebration, stay safe, avoid drunks and freeways, and may 2012 be a better year than 2011.

#320 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 08:57 PM:

Honolulu has a new fireworks law which says, among other things:

1. Possession and use of consumer fireworks, including fountains and sparklers, is against the law.

2. The exception is specifically for those who obtain a permit from the Honolulu Fire Department to use firecrackers on New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year, Fourth of July, and other cultural events. Permits cost $25 for each 5000 firecrackers.

I'm still puzzled why sparklers were banned. It's going to be very interesting to see/hear what tonight's like relative to prior horrors. Eight hours till midnight here.

Hauoli Makahiki Hou to those who've already seen in the New Year and those who are about to.

#321 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 10:58 PM:

Linkmeister—sparklers are banned in California, too. I think it's because they're omnidirectional, throwing sparks back at the person. Like most kids who had sparklers growing up, I got little micro-burns on my hands from sparklers, so I think that's the reason.

Pity they've done a blanket ban, though. Despite the risk, I think fireworks are a thing of joy.

Oh, and Happy New Year to those of you staying up late enough to witness it.

#322 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2011, 11:12 PM:

Happy New Year, all!

#323 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 12:09 AM:

Indeed -- Happy New Year!

#324 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 12:20 AM:

Happy 2012! Let's make it 17% better than 2011!

(Modest goals.)

#325 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 01:11 AM:

geekosaur @255: Downloaded and unzipped! It seems to work -- I used it for this post.

(I'd have done it earlier, if the gnomes hadn't caught it. I made a mental note that there was something I meant to check on when it got degnomed...and then forgot what the something was. Then your post to the Facebook thread jogged my memory.)

#326 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 01:30 AM:

Happy 2012 everybody, and don't write the wrong year on checks.

#327 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 01:36 AM:

Happy 2012. May it be better than 2011.

#328 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 02:16 AM:

My wish for all of you during this coming year.

(And if anybody knows where I might be able to snag an mp3 of this, I'd be very grateful for the information.)

#329 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 02:28 AM:

Happy 2012 to all!

B Durbin @321 -- my younger brother burned down half my parents' house by playing with a sparkler in the house (in California, in 1968), so that may be part of the reason as well. I fortunately had a perfect alibi -- I was out of the country at the time!

#330 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 02:31 AM:

Lee @ #328:

That's a good song. I made a note of it last time you linked it here, and I've been spreading it around a bit this year.

Bill Stewart @ #310, Linkmeister @ #311:

I'm reminded of the foreword to Arthur C. Clarke's novel The Last Theorem, which has a bit that goes something like this: "When I wrote The Fountains of Paradise, I moved Sri Lanka south to the equator so that I could build a space elevator on it. This time, for variety, I have left Sri Lanka where it is and moved the equator north."

#331 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 02:53 AM:

Thanks for that, Lee. I'm going to share that around too. I teared up, but then I'm tired...and also a sentimental old fool.

#332 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 10:11 AM:

Lee: thanks.

Xopher: sentimental old fools of all generations are the hope of the world. Happy new year!

#333 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Lee, look into FetchMP3. You may find it handy. Of course the mp3 you get won't be better in quality than the YouTube video you get it from, but some items are rare enough that you won't find them anywhere else. It's handy for 78s that aren't at, for instance.

#334 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 10:31 AM:

re: Erik Nelson -
[...] and don't write the wrong year on checks.

Write "2012" at the end of the date line on each check in your current pad. By the time you're ready for a new one, you'll be getting the year right.

#335 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 10:34 AM:

By the way, I was looking for the portable app that gives me most of the text from Wikipedia even when I'm offline, and it seems to be a PC program. Is there a way for a technologically addled sap like myself to have this on a Mac laptop?

#336 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 11:03 AM:

Kip W @335:
WINE can run many PC/Windows programs on OS X (and Linux); googling for offline Wikipedia applications got me WikiTaxi, which is listed as being "platinum supported" meaning it was reported as working perfectly under WINE. The main drawback is that WINE can be somewhat difficult to figure out.

The easier but more expensive solutions are commercial programs like VMware Fusion or Parallels, which also require you to buy a copy of Windows. (WINE is actually a Windows program loader and a set of Windows compatibility libraries; it doesn't require a copy of Windows, but does require you check for program compatibility because it doesn't yet emulate a full Windows installation. This is also why it can be difficult to figure out; you generally need to set up path translations between Windows-style paths and Unix/Mac paths, and possibly device translations for printers and such.)

#337 ::: Ellen ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 11:05 AM:

Lee @328: Not sure how to download the track from the music player at Tom Cochrane's site but there is a cleaner audio version there.

#338 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Lee @ #184: I have my suspicions as to who the writer might have been, but I will respect their desire to be anonymous.

So, now that the guessing period has passed, and the unveiling has happened: were your suspicions right?

#339 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 12:37 PM:

Kip & Ellen: Thanks! I'll check those out.

Paul, #338: Actually, I have no idea; it's under a nom-de-fic.

#340 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 01:06 PM:

Happy New Year, and happy Public Domain Day! (Here are some posts on what it means in Europe, from Communia, and on what it means in the US, from me.)

#341 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 02:56 PM:

Somewhat belated (I inadvertently took the day off the Internet yesterday), Happy New Year to the Fluorosphere, and I'd like to share Neil Gaiman's wish for the new year.

#342 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 07:25 PM:

GOOD HEAVENS. Am I the only one who just found out this existed?

#343 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2012, 08:29 PM:

Well, you beat me to it, Xopher. Thank you most sincerely, and I've shared it.

#344 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 05:09 AM:

I have now seen the latest episode of Sherlock on the BBC, and I can assure you that it is full of the usual goodness. The core of A Scandal in Belgravia is there, and Holmes meets The Woman. More, you get a feeling for just why he reacts as he does. There are all sorts of little references to other stories.

I do have some doubts about the big reveal towards the end, the driving force in events. It feels more like a certain sort of bad Hollywood action movie. It feels a wacky contrivance, even as we realise that Holmes has been on the fringe of seeing it all the way through. And the final tie-up ending, I'm in two minds about.

But Holmes and Watson are still Holmes and Watson. And Mrs. Hudson should not be lightly dismissed.

I don't think I would like having a brother such as Mycroft.

#345 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 05:33 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#346 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 08:13 AM:

Dave Bell at #344: I loved Sherlock until the last few minutes, and then, well, I just got linked to this on Twitter and it says it all for me: How to butcher a brilliant woman character.

This got all the way through writing and production and nobody pointed out, "Hey, this is a damn sight more sexist than the original, Victorian version"? Yay, modern media.

#347 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 09:22 AM:

Jen, 346: I haven't seen it--but Roz Kaveney's interpretation is what I'll be thinking of when I do.

#348 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 11:08 AM:


If I'm not still annoyed when it's repeated, and I watch it again, I'll try and have that interpretation in mind as well! (The Yellow Peril episode last series does make me apt to consider the "fail" explanation, though.)

#349 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 01:27 PM:

Xopher@ 342: I did, but I have some truly dedicated Whovian friends (including the guy who started the "Rory Williams is the New Chuck Norris" meme.) Have you also seen the end-of-an-era video set to the Proclaimers' "Five Hundred Miles"?

#350 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 06:31 PM:

I liked the Tintin movie, on the whole, with some grumps here and there. It was exciting in the action bits, funny in the comedy bits, and the first face we saw was M. Georges Remi. It's a step up from previous CG attempts at realistic animation.

That said, I was outrageously happy to find this and this at YouTube.

(For those who, like myself, dislike blind links, they are TINTIN AND THE GOLDEN FLEECE and TINTIN AND THE BLUE ORANGES, the two 1960s live-action Tintin movies, complete, with English subtitles.)

#351 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 06:43 PM:

Happy birthday to Patrick, and have many more. Happy ones, too.

#352 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 07:02 PM:

HBTY, PNH! (Anyone keeping a birthday list of regular Fluorospherians?)

#353 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 07:10 PM:

Tom, 352: Why, no--because we're all *special* Fluorospherians!

#354 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Hau`oli Lā Hānau, Patrick!

#355 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 07:34 PM:


Local Man discovers that his employer, Ivy League University, has decided that the benefit elections he made when he was hired were only for 2011 and his failure to enter elections during the open enrollment period (aka the week he was hired, aka before he had access to the benefits management system, because getting access to any system at Ivy League College requires five different phone calls and the performance of the proper obeisances and rituals) means that Local Man has waived his health and other insurance for 2012. (Though oddly enough, not his long-term disability. Local Man puzzled by why that election stuck.) Ivy League University helpfully notified Local Man of this by sending him a letter postmarked Dec. 23rd asking for a response with any needed corrections postmarked by Dec. 31st. (aka the week that local man and half of the rest of the country was out of town visiting relatives and therefore not receiving mail.)

tl;dr: ARGH!!!

Local Man really hopes he doesn't have to call the union in on this. Although, in good news, Local Man has a union to call in on this.

(Also of note: Local Man signs union card, feels inexplicable urge to march up and down the halls of his office singing "Solidarity Forever." He resists, although he suspects his bosses would be more amused than alarmed.)

#356 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 07:43 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick

Chris W @ 355. How frustrating. I hope it can be sorted out without too much (more) stress.

#357 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Mild despair.

Ardala had TPLO surgery to repair her legs after rupturing her cruciate ligament. She came home on Thursday. We were given specific instructions about how little exercise she should be getting (only out to potty and then right back in!) and the ways in which she might keep weight off her leg. Of course, Ardala's non-surgical leg is at about 30% efficiency anyway.

So, knowing there's a bit of space between our front door and the closest patch of grass, we got a potty patch for her patio use, and also the requisite pheremones to indicate PEE HERE! Alas, it is really quite a bit to expect a meticulously housebroken dog to pee on her own patio within 3 days of being expected. We went and bought a couple of flats of groundcover - it not being sod season, apparantly, and the clover being a fairly good grass analogue. Still no go.

So we got a wagon on Saturday. We've added a make-shift seatbelt to keep her from leaping out, but she still has to be lifted in and out.

We were also given the helpful advice to "use a towel" as a support. Knowing that stooping down to support a short, stocky dog was untenable, I found a support harness I thought would work. I ordered based on measurements and wound up with a way-too-big harness. Found one locally that was one size down and it's slightly too small. Pressing on, we used half of the smaller harness (the back end support) along with an existing harness. Hooray! It works! Except... the f-ing hallways in this apartment building are slick. At the pet store today I saw some little rubber non-skid booties, but like the potty patch, I suspect that by the time she was acclimated to wearing and walking on them, she will no longer need them anyway.

So. What to do then? The Roommate and I are each taking half the remaining week off work, but next week she will need a dog walker. I cannot ask our dog walker to lift up my surprisingly dense dog. I don't have a car, so I cannot come home during lunch. The roommate does have a car, but often works on a remote lot that would put her at a greater-than-an-hour round-trip, and so make a lunch time break un-possible.

If I had to do it all again? Besides the x-ray stuff I mentioned up-thread, I would have done as our first trainer suggested and trained her to Pee on command.

#358 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 09:00 PM:

I can report that the new Mission: Impossible is a good deal of fun, with some supercool scenes in Dubai and other locations, and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I really liked that the cool spy tech didn't always work up to spec, and that the super-competent agents actually demonstrated moments of doubt.

Brad Bird, who up to this time directed animated films like The Incredibles, hemmed this installment, and he brought a knowing, witty sensibility to the series.

#359 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#360 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 09:57 PM:

nerdycellist #357: Sympathies on your dog's troubles.

I would have done as our first trainer suggested and trained her to Pee on command.

Any pointers to just how this is done? While my Gracie is in good health, I'd really like to be able to manage a quick walk when human scheduling makes this necessary....

Speaking of which, we took her over to introduce her to her dog-sitter's¹ home, where she promptly peed on the carpet (happily, adjacent to the bathroom, so after a quick heave, most of it went on the tile. Fortunately, the dog-sitter took that in good humor, being more-or-less used to such accidents.

At least Gracie got along with the resident mini-dachshund, despite some cranky growling from the latter). Not a surprise given prior experience, but good to have confirmed.

¹ Otherwise, and indeed immediately previously, my monthly housecleaner. A very sweet woman; noting that she hadn't raised her rates since I moved here 5+ years ago, I gave her an unprompted (and permanent) raise for Christmas/New Years.

#361 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2012, 11:00 PM:

nerdycellist @ 357... Sorry to hear about your dog. My girl Freya ripped her cruciate ligament last year, and the doc who operated on her said the last time he'd last seen such severe damage had been 25 years before. Luckily her other limbs were fully functional. She's getting old and creaky now though, and she needs painkillers.

#362 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 12:01 AM:

Happy Birthday Patrick, and Happy New Year to everyone else.

#363 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 12:22 AM:

Re: cleaning subthread - I am a social cleaner. I do a lot better at the cleaning thing when there is someone else around to talk to me through it. Unfortunately, living alone means that I don't get that opportunity very often, and when I do have people over, I want to spend time with them, rather than cleaning. I also have an extraordinarily variable schedule, so HRJ's method can't really work for me - some days I work from home, some days I leave at 8 and get home at 9 or 10p...and I may not know it's going to be one of those days until noon.

Part of my problem is that I need to keep the language processing track of my brain mostly occupied at all times. This can be textual or auditory, but it has to happen for me to be functional. If I know I need to get projects done, I have to have someone talking and the brain engaged with that in order to be able to focus on anything else (ah, the joys of ADD hacks). OTOH, I can't just sit and listen...So if I need to clean the kitchen, I turn on the radio. An hour of Morning Edition gets me through the dishes, finding the counters, trash, recycling, sweeping, mopping, and putting the dishes away. When NPR changes to a new program, I get to decide if I'm going to move on to the next room for the next hour, or if I'm going to quit. I find that having a defined time limit really helps. It's rare that I have Saturday morning free, but Car Talk is even better than Morning Edition. ;)

This last paint/move/clean involved the motivator of listening to How Firm a Foundation. I could not turn on the book unless I was working on something moving related. A Mighty Fortress occasioned a top-to-bottom house cleaning for the last third (the previous 2/3rds having been road trip. It really didn't take me 30 hrs to clean my house!). I use audio books checked out from my local library for the really large projects or in my studio so that both my language processing center and my hands are occupied at any one time.

Re: AKICIML - I am in need of audio book recommendations. I need engaging though not absorbing and a decent narrator*. I also need new series and/or authors that I'm not already engaged in. Fantasy or SF, and I'm mostly looking for things without a lot of depth. (However, will take recommendations on anything and load the heavier stuff on the ereader).

*I loved Name of the Wind, but the narrator was *awful*, to the point that I couldn't get through the first chapter and decided to try a print version.

#364 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 12:40 AM:

Sisuile @363: I am quite fond of the Dresden Files audiobooks as narrated by James Marsters.

#365 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 01:00 AM:

David Harmon @360 -

I believe training a pee-on-command is a matter of capturing the behavior and rewarding it. Go outside, when your dog starts the earnest sniffing, give a command like "Go Potty!" and then once the peeing has been completed, praise and reward. Keep doing this with fewer commands, lesser rewards, and eventually your dog will just do it. Most of Ardala's training has been a matter of shaping and rewarding, although judging by the other dogs in our class, it was maybe a little tougher to capture and reward behaviors in a herding mix; she doesn't always make the connections we'd like her to.

I think we'll probably shift schedules for a couple of weeks, until she gets her sutures out on the 11th. At that point we'll get to talk face to face with the surgeon who did the work, who is also the head of the practice. Maybe he can give us some tips on using the helper-harness on semi-slick surfaces.

#366 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 01:04 AM:

Sisuile, I've heard good things about Tamora Pierce's audiobooks. She wrote Melting Stones as an audiobook; the print version came out later. I also really like Charles Stross' IT-and-Cthulhu books, starting with The Atrocity Archive, and the narrator for those almost made me start listening to audiobooks (boyfriend listened, I listened when I was at his house). How are you for short fiction?

#367 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 01:39 AM:

Sisule, the Terry Pratchett audio books I've heard were quite wonderful. I also really love listening to Neil Gaiman's voice on his audiobooks; he's got a wonderful sense of drama and style, and his timing is impeccable. Jim Dale on the Harry Potter audiobooks does a very nice job as well.

#368 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:05 AM:

Diatryma @ 366 - I loved Melting Stones. I keep hoping the next one in that series will come out. And that's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for - light, funny, essentially happy fantasy. YA is perfectly acceptable, and in some ways preferred. The field has exploded so much that finding good books that are neither distopias or vampire has become a challenge. I'm seriously tempted to go find a children's librarian and say "I like Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Diane Duane, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L'Engle, Tanith Lee, Pat Wrede, and Jane Yolen. What do you recommend that is less than 10 yrs old?"

I have processing issues with Harry Potter, Dresden, and Discworld as audiobooks - all those characters have very distinct voices in my head, and I run into the LOTR problem of overlays. Not to say they aren't good suggestions - I happily have read them all! I just have a serious problem mixing my media.

I became wary of Gaiman audiobooks after picking up Snow Glass Apples. He does horror so well, I had nightmares for weeks. Paper books are easier for me to gain enough distance, and I don't do much horror. Like distopia, I'll read them if it's a favorite author or I have a specific reason to, but avoid the subgenre as much as possible.

#369 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:47 AM:

Sisuile, #368: I don't do audiobooks much, but I did enjoy the audiobook version of Diane Duane's Dark Mirror, voiced by John DeLancie. He gets all the male character voices pretty well spot-on, though he has a bit of trouble with Troi and Crusher. I was a bit disappointed with whoever did the abridging, which seemed to consist mostly of cutting out my favorite funny lines (I'd already read the book in hardcover), but it was still engaging enough that being in the thick of the action while negotiating an unfamiliar city caused me to miss a freeway split and have to double back. :-)

#370 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 03:14 AM:

Ooh! You should listen to the Parasol Protectorate audiobooks. Gail Carriger is the author, and the books are delightful.

#371 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 07:41 AM:


Local man realizes that the pole attachment to local man's vacuum cleaner has a button that allows it to be further extended. Local man is somewhat irritated at himself for not discovering this much sooner, as local man has owned this vacuum for months.

#372 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 08:49 AM:


Does anyone have experience with or advice for helping a cat deal with the death of another cat? Our elder cat has taken a sudden and rapid decline after being diagnosed with cancer, and probably only has a couple days left. The young (and rather stupid) cat clearly knows something is wrong, but I'm very worried how he will react to her disappearance.

#373 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 08:51 AM:

Sisuile, 363: I just read and adored Merrie Haskell's _The Princess Curse_. I don't know whether it's an audiobook--but even if it isn't, you should read it. I think if I'd read it when I was 10 or so, it would have gone into my bones the way McKinley did.

#374 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 08:52 AM:

nerdycellist: I'm trying that, but it's complicated by two issues: (1) Gracie spends most of her time outdoors sniffing, often investigating things more closely (in fact, I need to keep a sharp eye for if she's found something she wants to eat :-( ). For potty,I basically have to respond to when she squats. (2) She doesn't take treats when outdoors... not sure why.

#375 ::: David Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 08:53 AM:

I dunno why the gnomes do these things... no links, even.

[Reason for gnomulation: No space between two comma-delimited phrases; often a sign of madlib-style random-phrase comment spam. --JDM]

#376 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 08:57 AM:

lorax #372: I only know one non-obvious tip:

Assuming you intend to take the sick cat in to be put down, bring a towel or something for the cat to be on, or wrapped, in during the process. Then bring the towel home and let the other cat smell it. That will basically get the news across....

#377 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 09:08 AM:

sisuile @363: This might be too engaging, but I loved the audiobook of Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys -- read not by Neil but by British comedian Lenny Henry. I thought *Neil* was a good reader...

There's always the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio series, which now includes all 5 parts.

Ellen Kushner has been talking about a new audio version of Swordspoint. Haven' tlistened, but reviews are highly favourable, and it's on my want list.

#378 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 10:27 AM:

lorax @372: the towel is a good idea. Also, be prepared to acquire another cat. Most of my cats haven't noticed when companions have departed, but one went into deep mourning and began to not eat. After a couple of weeks a new kitten was added to the household and the other cat quickly regained her normal personality (and appetite). The cat and kitten did not bond particularly well but at least were companions for each other.

#379 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 10:47 AM:

I can heartily recommend the audiobook for Swordspoint. Mostly it's Ellen reading, but in crowded scenes there are actors, and the voices of Richard and of the Duchess of Tremontaine are especially good. There are also sound effects and whatnot.

I am normally not a good audience for these things, as my auditory processing is a lot less competent than my visual processing, but as I've nearly memorized Swordspoint, I found listening to it rewarding. Although I couldn't listen in the car on Sunday; I had a story of my own cooking in my brain, and the audiobook words were competing with the words of my story, and I had to switch over to music. Couldn't tell you why song lyrics didn't upset the story dialogue in the way that audiobook narrative did, but there it was.

#380 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 10:53 AM:

lorax @ 372 ...
Does anyone have experience with or advice for helping a cat deal with the death of another cat? Our elder cat has taken a sudden and rapid decline after being diagnosed with cancer, and probably only has a couple days left. The young (and rather stupid) cat clearly knows something is wrong, but I'm very worried how he will react to her disappearance.

Something else to consider -- many (most?) vets will make a house call to euthanize a pet, which is another way of avoiding the sudden disappearance :(

#381 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:08 AM:

Rikibeth, I'm the same way about audiobooks. There isn't enough there to hold my attention, and they're the kind of thing I'm supposed to pay attention to-- it's okay if I zone out and miss a dozen songs on the radio, but there's a lot of action in some chapters of an audiobook. I don't do a lot of background media in general, actually; if I'm not interested in it, I don't start it, and if I am interested in it, I don't want to split my attention.

#382 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:17 AM:

Shadowsong @ 370 The next one is due out the end of Feb. I am grateful for her pace of writing, because those books are like crack. This will require a trip to the book store.

TexAnne @ 373 Well, that's certainly a recommendation. I just put it in my library request queue.

#383 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:40 AM:

OT part of the why do women look like that in comics discussion:

read the followup too

#384 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:48 AM:

I don't know if there's anything you can do to prepare a cat for the loss of their fellow housecat. When Beulah was euthanized on the operating table, we brought her home and showed Tosh, who sniffed politely and then suddenly seemed to take alarm and left the room.

Soon after Beulah was buried, Tosh got outside somehow. I went out and found her walking quickly, sniffing the periphery of the house between the den and the garage, making little calling sounds. I took it to mean she was trying to find Beulah.

It still makes me sad. My interpretation of the event is not universally shared, but I was there.

#385 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:54 AM:

Sisuile @363

I also have an extraordinarily variable schedule, so HRJ's method can't really work for me - some days I work from home, some days I leave at 8 and get home at 9 or 10p...and I may not know it's going to be one of those days until noon.

Well, on the one hand, an important part of my method is that it's my method and was designed to work for my quirks and not necessarily anyone else's. But there are also a few aspects I didn't cover in the previous description. For example, while it helps me to get in the habit of doing particular rooms on particular days, the basic system is "here's a checklist of the tasks to be done in this rotation; when they're all completed, start the next rotation". Another aspect of this is that it isn't necessarily intended to be a calendar-based rotation but simply a sequential one. (Some things do tend to get anchored to particular days, e.g., emptying the kitchen garbage on the day I put the trash out for collection. But if the rotation gets de-synched from the calendar, those tasks tend to get done on their own hook rather than as part of the program.)

Another feature that I think I didn't mention is that the task-list is intended to be limiting as well as goal-setting. If "vacuum" isn't on the current rotation, I'm under no obligation to think I have to do it anyway -- in fact, I'm under a disobligation to do it, because That Way Lies Madness.

As it happens, I took the excuse of the New Year to kick-start my housecleaning program for the new house. Drew up a new set of task-lists, figured out a tentative distribution across the rotations, and then ran through the entire task-list to get things started (a feat which is forbidden under normal operations of the program). So, in fact, I have a rather good notion of how much time it takes to do a complete cleaning: approximately 1.5 Phantoms of the Opera. (It would probably have gotten closer to 2.0 if it had been daylight, because then I'd have washed the outsides of the windows, cleaned the garage, and been able to tackle the 2nd bedroom ... which doesn't actually have a light in it at the moment.)

#386 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 12:11 PM:

lorax @ 372: When I euthanized Kedgie last year, I brought her body to the other two cats. The older male, who had lived with her all his life, came up and sniffed her once, then immediately walked away. The kitten kept sniffing her, as if trying to figure out what was going on.

I've always allowed the other pets to sniff the body; it seems to provide some information that they process. Whenever possible, I maintain a group of cats, so that I have younger ones overlapping with older ones. Cinder is alone now, and prefers it that way (and at almost 19, she deserves to be by herself). Brady has the younger cat, Cleo, to keep him company after losing Kedgie, and it's helped him.

Years ago, after losing Rusty-cat to cancer, Stripey got very depressed. I was able to comfort him through some of it, but having another cat that he liked would have been helpful. Unfortunately, at that time, Cinder was his antagonist, BT didn't do much with him, and Buzz wasn't quite up to the challenge.

#387 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 12:34 PM:

Sisuile # 363, Patrick Tull's reading of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin series is EXCELLENT. Also there are 20 of them.

Two others I'd recommend are Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and Bailey White's Quite a Year for Plums, read by their respective authors. YMMV about White's voice--it's breathy and scratchy and makes her sound much older than she is--but I quite like it.

#388 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 01:49 PM:

lorax @372, seconding what Ginger said -- if you can, letting the other cat sniff the body can help. When I had many dogs and cats, we always gave all the other animals a chance to examine the body and watch us bury it if they wanted to. It actually seemed to help, if your situation allows.

#389 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 01:58 PM:

Thanks for the advice, everyone. This is hard enough without worrying about how the surviving kitty will handle it.

#390 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:04 PM:

Does anybody know when this year's worldcon will open up for hotel reservations? Their site says January 2012, but a bit more precision would be appreciated.

#391 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:11 PM:

HLN: local woman slowly scrambles back onto the planet after having fallen off over holidays.

Patrick: Happy belated birthday!

nerdycellist: best wishes for stabilizing Ardala's input-output. And I sympathize on the scheduling issues. I've run into that with conflicts between guinea pig care and work. My vet charges a very manageable $30/day for "hospitalization," which I've used for "daycare." (Though with Gustav, this is uncharacteristically easy, as their office is where she was born, and spent much of her first two weeks.)

Melissa Singer: Sympathies on the munged toe. For icing: I've heard that a frozen bag of rice is also a good option: mashable, and doesn't become unusable as food after multiple freeze-thaw cycles. My vague understanding of the role of icing an injury is that it supresses inflamation and swelling, and is therefore most effective right after the injury. This may be more than you need, but a number of coworkers have been using knee carts to handle foot injuries.

Sisuile: Not audiobooks (or, not entirely), but Spider Robinson has free podcasts, many of which contain fiction.

Cleaning subthread: Well, I managed to get mostly caught up on most of my basic chores over the holiday (Yay!). I seem to have a hard-wired urge to Combobulate between Christmas and New Years, which I haven't been able to accomodate as much as I'd like, the last few years. Got both my desk and my Kraft Korner excavated, which is a wonder and a blessing.

Heather Rose Jones's half-hour a day seems to have been especially effective help. We'll see how things go as I return to a regular work schedule. Thanks and gratitude to everyone else who has contributed suggestions and thoughts; at the very least, the discussion got my jets burning hot, so I got more done last week than I would have otherwise.

Elliott Mason @216: It took me a while to train myself to hit the end of a quantum and STOP.

Please: How!? I'm concluding that this is one of my major issues, and not just with housekeeping.

#392 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:24 PM:

Jacque: the bag of peas I use for icing is dedicated to the purpose (and is not as heavy as and more flexible than a similarly-sized bag of rice would be). It's been "boo-boo peas" for 10 years or so, lol, and generally lives in the back of the freezer.

Foot feels better today, though not entirely happy to be shod. Walking is tiring and sweaty. It's been nearly a week, so I would expect pain to be less, overall, and so it is. Uphill hurts worse than flat or downhill, though downhill hurts worse than flat. Steps also not my friend. Otoh, navigating escalators with walking stick seems to have (temporarily?) disabled my escalator OCD (going down only . . . I count steps and get on the 3rd. If I miss the 3rd, must count again).

So, improvement. No Tylenol since Friday!

(I know it's a minor bother. But it's _my_ minor bother, lol.)

#393 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 02:37 PM:

My workplace experience in 2011 ended with a bang, and similarly began with a bang in 2012.

The Wednesday morning before New Year's, one of the electrical panels in the basement level of the parking garage where the Security office is located... exploded. A loud... LOUD!!! ... bang, followed by power going off, then the emergency lights coming on. My first thought had been that two of the many cars that z-z-z-zoom up and down the parking ramps had finally had the head-on I've been expecting since the place opened. But the lights going out led me to go downstairs toward the electical room, and to call in "Umm, we have smoke in the basement level."

[many details omitted. Short version: a royal mess. If we didn't have two parking structures on the property, it would have been an even bigger mess.]

And during Sunday night's shift, at about two AM, about half a dozen large guys in hoodies and ski masks -- one of them carrying a large rock the size of my head -- jumped out of a car that had screeched to a stop by the Apple Store, smashed in the glass front door with the rock, ran in, grabbed everything they could and ran out again. I have to say it was very professional; when I watched the video footage later, it was less than a minute and a half from entering the property to leaving.

But, since our dispatch guy watching the monitor screens caught it happening at the very beginning, we were able to quickly notify police and give enough description of the vehicle that the vehicle and half the gang were caught shortly thereafter.

We don't often have that much excitement that close together. Which is fine, thanks.

#394 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2012, 11:32 PM:

Bruce—many years ago, Evil Rob was working at a music store. Said store was burglarized one night by someone so fast that he barely made it on the store photographs. However, he was dumb enough to try to sell the instruments to the local university music department—who of course had the serial numbers on file, since music stores send them around after a break-in.

#395 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:05 AM:

I had been following the links (though only the first time they were posted) and discussion on this thread, so am dismayed by this.

#396 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 01:27 AM:

Carol, it does strike me as rather abrupt.

On the other hand, I am well aware that we are going to get politics for the rest of the year, and it isn't a prospect which fills me with glee.

#397 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 01:27 AM:

Carol, it does strike me as rather abrupt.

On the other hand, I am well aware that we are going to get politics for the rest of the year, and it isn't a prospect which fills me with glee.

#398 ::: Dave Bell sees error message ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 01:31 AM:

The above double post was associated with the following error message:

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Please correct the error in the form below, then press POST to post your comment.

#400 ::: abi is on the spam case ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 05:02 AM:

I'll clean it up. It may take a bit of time; the back end is kinda slow these days.

#401 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 07:27 AM:

Serge #390: I'd like to know that too.

#402 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 09:03 AM:

I've been thinking about something since giving a talk at the local Occupation about lessons from the Civil Rights Movement for Occupy, and this is, I think, the place I have to share it.

There were three great rights movements in America with material causes stemming from World War II: the human rights of Blacks, women, and gays and lesbians. There's a working consensus, ranging from a huge majority to a bare one, for equal rights for those classes in principle; in practice there's still a fight, but now it's about how to get what's right, not what is right.

At the same time, the relative prosperity of the post-war labor truce allowed a more comfortable living for more Americans. Eventually, that truce broke down and economic inequality began its rise.

During this period, those rights movements were still able to make progress, but this progress came at a price. More and more, some of us found ourselves defending the rights of people to enter, on a non-discriminatory basis, an economic and social elite which we considered illegitimate in the first place. Is it progress when Empire is furthered by Colin Powell or Hillary Clinton?

The logic of equal rights under an unfair system means exactly that. I personally find the end result distasteful, but then, that's how I felt about the result of the N*z*s marching at Skokie. Human rights are absolutes. If defending that principle means some people who benefit from it do bad things with those rights? That's on their conscience and a new addition to my fix-it list.

Defending those human rights comes at a personal and political cost, and I've been happy to pay it over the years, especially during the ones when it seemed nothing would end plutocracy and war.

Now, right now, there is suddenly, for whatever reason, a resurgence of unrest which has broken the frame of market fundamentalism. Through that break, other things than an awareness of economic inequality have come through. Some of them are just plain bad, some are trivial, and a few are fundamental. Civil liberties in a broad sense is one and ending the endless war is another.

Right now, those appear to be possibilities, items on the agenda, that haven't been there for some time. Those three biggies--economic inequality, civil liberties, endless war--are no less important to me than the rights movements (for which I will also continue to fight) and no less important to others. I want those on whose side I've put myself, for good, in this with me.

This is a time to take risks.

There is no one piece of progress, I think, so precious that it may not be risked for any other.

The historical example making that point in my talk was the Birmingham civil rights battle of 1963, where a depleted leadership sent children onto marches and into attack dogs, fire hoses, beatings, and jail. It was a terrible thing to risk, and taking that risk was the right decision, both tactically and morally. It has become one of my touchstones when I am troubled.

I would ask those of you who focus yourselves on various worthy causes you and I both support to consider what changes you might be willing to risk at this remarkable time in history.

#403 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 11:48 AM:

FRagano @ 401... The worldcon's hotel reservation will open on Monday, January 16, I was told elsewhere. Does this mean you and I will finally meet?

#404 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:16 PM:

What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success

Education, economics; it's always cast as excellence versus equality when the evidence keeps showing that equality is what leads to excellence.

#405 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:27 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @402:

I think that the times when the most progress was made on human rights was when all the issues were confronted at once. The 1960's was such a time; it's not merely rhetoric that led the movement to be called "Peace and Freedom", and Martin Luther King, Jr. was explicit in his pleas for freedom that it must include economic equality and the end of imperialism.

One of the objections to Occupy has been that it lacks focus, that it must find some one issue and concentrate on that to the exclusion of anything else in order to be successful. I think that not only is that a veiled attempt to derail the movement, as we've discussed here, but that it's fundamentally wrong. All those issues of rights, equality, and peace are tangled together1, and trying to deal with just one or two at a time has often meant that we lose ground on the remaining ones.

1. Some of the reasons I believe this will sound like conspiracy theories, so I don't want to get into that discussion just now. Suffice to say that activism in these areas attacks the privilege of a relatively small group, and that the group is approximately the same for all the issues.

#406 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:31 PM:

Serge #403: I sincerely hope so.

#407 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:34 PM:

Finally two of the bastards who killed Stephen Lawrence are going to prison for the crime. Neither of the whoresons showed any remorse.

#408 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 12:41 PM:

Karen forwarded this from a local list, and Sarah Goodman pointed out to me that it belongs here:

Important Grammar Advice:
"In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I've noticed that more and more people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the art of using capital letters.
For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of the following statement: "Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."

#409 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Tip for the day: when soldering electronics, do not be tempted to use plumber's flux. That stuff conducts.

#410 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 03:03 PM:

FRagano @ 407... Neither of the whoresons showed any remorse

Like the article said, one can hope that this lack of remorse willl make a Parole Board think twice before releasing them.

#411 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Bruce Cohen, 399: That was our robbery. We saw the taxi driver follow the getaway vehicle off-property on our cameras, but I wasn't aware he'd been able to give police that much information before being shot at and backing off his pursuit.

(The shots being fired make me just a little *koff* bit glad I didn't get to the scene -- I'd been doing an interior patrol of a neighboring building when the dispatcher radioed me about the break-in -- until a few seconds after the robbers had driven off the property.)

#412 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 07:18 PM:

Things that restore one's faith in the future: Dear Customer who stuck up for his little brother. That's one kid who isn't going to grow up feeling like he has nowhere to turn for help.

#413 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 07:21 PM:

Serge #410: They're going to be out in 15-16 years. Less time in prison than their victim lived. That doesn't seem just.

#414 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 08:01 PM:

Fragano @ 413... It most definitely is not fair.

#415 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 08:21 PM:

Lee @412, thanks for that.

#416 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 08:22 PM:

To Jacque @391, on how to train oneself to STOP when a task ends, instead of iterating forever …

There are moods when I cannot, I should fess up right now. In fact, that's one of my symptoms/tells for "I am not firing on all cylinders right now, start suspecting my instincts" (another is being too tired to read, and a third is being unable to SHUT UP and turn off my motor mouthing tendencies to let the other person have a turn).

That said, when I'm doing well enough to do it at all, how I remind myself to do it involves repeating to myself mentally, all through the task, what exactly I am doing and *what comes next*. If I have something 'scheduled' after, it's easier to tear myself away, because I can utilize my overactive guilt sensors to nudge me in the direction I initially intended to go (before my unreliable brain chemistry tried to change things).

So, e.g.: "Ok, I am going to empty the dishwasher, and then I am going to clear off the top of the stove [which has rinsed-but-not-washed Big Non-Dishwashery Items stacked on all the burners]. I am emptying the dishwasher. These are plates [do plate thing]. This is the silverware bin, I am going to lift it out intact and empty it into the drawer. Ok, now the bin goes back. What's next? I am emptying the dishwasher, and THEN I am going to hand wash the pots so I have room to start making dinner. There are three more glasses, and some kid-cup parts, ok, those go away. [Turning back from that task, eye falls on Mug Full of Soaking Dirty Silverware] I should put those in the dishwasher, it won't take long. Oh, but I haven't quite emptied it yet. I should empty the dishwasher and then put the silverware in the bucket. Actually, I could lift the silverware bin out and load it now and leave it in the sink, before I finish … waaaaaait. No. I am emptying the dishwasher, and then I AM WASHING THE POTS. Right. Ok. [finishes dishwasher-emptying] I am washing the pots and then I am making dinner …"

I talk to myself a lot. I can't not do it, really, so the trick is to keep the subject of conversation on things that make me more productive, not things that make me less productive, i.e. planning out long-future projects or telling myself how much I suck for not having cleaned all this up two days ago.

This is not to say (that there are plums in your icebox!) that I never modify my task-tree, I've just learned to be exceptionally skeptical about the URGE to modify my task-tree. Sometimes, amidst Task B (of A-F), I notice that I'm pre-loading a task that will take 30 seconds to complete, so I calmly rework my internal monologue list to include it. But if it will seriously derail me from the other things I was queued to do, I strongly strongly suspect my internal motives for adding it, just because it's SHINY and OSSIM, because, as you put it, that way lies madness.

I have found it useful in the past to make a big list of 'stuff I really ought to do this week' and post it to my livejournal, editing the post to strikethrough accomplished items (and putting done-but-not-initially-queued items on in bold or something). It helps when I literally cannot even remember what needed to get done, because the Peril-Tinted Sunglasses are turned up so high everything is sort of charcoal grey and I want to hide in corners.

Listmaking works for me, except when it doesn't, you see. YMMV.

I am very tempted and intrigued to try to figure out a way to make a master list of "all the stuff that needs to get done at least once a week" and graphic-design it into a check-offable list of chores (where the person who did 'em can put their initials in the box or something) for posting on a wall. I just can't decide if the urge to do this is itself catwaxing, or if it would genuinely enhance productivity.

#417 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 09:24 PM:

I could use that weekly master list, because otherwise Stuff Doesn't Get Done.

#418 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 09:35 PM:

PJ Evans @416: A key part of the technique for me was to try really REALLY hard not to get judgemental on myself for transferring items from Week 1's list to Week 2's (or even onward to Week 5's, once you got there, if it was still un-done). It is intended to be a productivity-enhancement tool, not a "Do All These Or Else YOU SUCK" bludgeon.

#419 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 10:18 PM:

Spoke with vet and got permission to take Ardala out on one of her four potty walks on her special harness rather than strapped into her wagon all Hannibal Lecter-like. Dog walker may be continued! Huzzah!

#420 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2012, 11:02 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 416 ...
I am very tempted and intrigued to try to figure out a way to make a master list of "all the stuff that needs to get done at least once a week" and graphic-design it into a check-offable list of chores (where the person who did 'em can put their initials in the box or something) for posting on a wall. I just can't decide if the urge to do this is itself catwaxing, or if it would genuinely enhance productivity.

Heh. I recently had a conversation about the difference between catwaxing and yak shaving [0], with a side order of discussing what colour to paint the bikeshed ...

[0] Determinedly different, but clearly related. Then again, being clawed and trampled are clearly not the same thing, but both leave you feeling decidedly not quite the thing.

#421 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 02:03 AM:

Death to PayPal.

Death, and nothing but death. Nothing else will do. There's no fixing this kind of problem. PayPal is evil and must be destroyed.*

*By publishing their sins, I mean, so that their reputation matches their actual behavior, so that no one uses them any more and they go out of business.

#422 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 02:21 AM:

In lighter news, I admit I hadn't known that the Borg had visited Victorian England.

#423 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 04:27 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Man realizes he needs a new less-flat pillow.

#424 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 04:43 AM:

nerdycellist @ 419... got permission to take Ardala out on one of her four potty walks on her special harness rather than strapped into her wagon

Do you also have a dog called Twiki?

#425 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 08:48 AM:

Serge Broom @ 423 ...
Hyperlocal news... Man realizes he needs a new less-flat pillow.

Heh. I've got the pillow thing sorted out, but I'm just starting to look at new mattress options ...

#426 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:02 AM:

HLN: We have had a very mild winter here in Central Ohio, only a handful of days where the temps were under freezing. So, imagine local woman's amazement when her non-gardening partner points out that the winter-blooming apricot is "fuzzy."

The tree is in full bud, and the warm spell may actually bring it into bloom in the next few days. Local women cut a few branches to bring inside to force, and they bloomed within 48 hours!

AND...the snowdrops are up in the south-facing flower bed. Maybe this year they'll bloom for Imbolc?

#427 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:11 AM:

xeger @ 425... I'm just starting to look at new mattress options

Ours is what's called a memory-foam mattress. Quite comfy.

#428 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:52 AM:

Elliott Mason @416 on How To STOP:

Oh, that's very interesting! Thank you! And not at all what I would have expected (leaving aside that I didn't know what to expect).

I'm so visual-kinesthetic that I totally forget that there's an audio channel available. This is interesting; as I think about this, I realize that, during those times when fatigue-induced inertia leaves me prone to (for example) stay up indefinitely watching TV, actually saying to myself, "Turn the tv OFF, Jacque" actually works.

Hm. I'm going to have to play with this!

As to talking to oneself, my dad used to say, "Talking to yourself is fine, as long as you get an intelligent answer." :->

I am very tempted and intrigued to try to figure out a way to make a master list of "all the stuff that needs to get done at least once a week" and graphic-design it into a check-offable list of chores

I've done this; it is most assuredly catwaxing, but it can also be useful. Two keys make it most useful: having one picture that includes all the things I need to do in a span of time, and guestimating (and then recording actual) the time necessary for each task.

What I haven't figured out how to do is to represent how many spoons a task consumes. (And, in fact, I've only become consciously aware of this axis very recently.) I'd be curious if anyone else has come up a formal accounting method for this?

#429 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 12:13 PM:

Jacque @428: On tasks where there isn't a clear quantum, but you really really want to limit your timespan, having a big bold "STOP NOW" timer of some kind is a good thing.

Eggtimers work for some people; I like playing a podcast, because my iPod doesn't autoplay another one. So if I hook it to the speakers and line up one that's the length I want (5min, 20min, an hour, etc), I just have to repeat to myself "When it stops, YOU STOP, no 'next thing,' no 'just one more and I'll start another podcast,' STOP."

Works for breaks/catwaxing sessions, too. Well, sometimes. "Ok, you're shaky and unfocussed, watch onnnnne episode of [insert here], and then do [single task]."

#430 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 01:14 PM:

I tried once to brainstorm a Big List of all chores that need to be done, so that I could organize them into a doable task list.

This is a link to the resulting Big List, as I handwrote it.

I panicked and froze up. The "daily" sub-list alone feels to me like it would be a good couple of hours of work -- and trying to ignore the mounting anxiety and think logically about it, that estimate isn't too far off.

That said, I have been doing fairly well at decluttering a tiny bit at a time for the past week or so.

It sped up a lot this week, when I finally set up a desktop filing thingy (it was $20 at Costco) to deal with the mail. Mail is my biggest problem. There's just so much of it, and some of it needs a response, some of it needs to be filed, some of it needs to be shredded, some of it is just there, and some of it isn't mine to deal with. I got some nice brightly colored expandable file folders, and a little desktop shredder set up next to it, and I put the whole setup right where the Pile O' Mail usually lands. I've been slowly going through the Piles O' Mail that have spread through the public areas of the house. (I discovered we won four passes to see Tintin … on December 10. Thanks, ADD.)

We do have a proper filing cabinet -- but it's in the back corner of the back corner office, and requires wading through all the rest of the junk in the office and clearing out a patch of table to go through the mail and file it properly. Not something easy to do every day. Having some smaller files and the shredder right out in the open, right where I put the mail down anyway -- that's easy to do.

Three weeks ago I also deep-cleaned the kitchen. It had gotten to ZOMG! levels of dirty, so I just snapped. I spent four hours doing it. (I had a lot of energy that day. More than I've had in a couple of weeks.) Dishes, countertops, sink, floor, cabinets, refrigerator, microwave, stove, oven. Since then it has been relatively doable to keep it reasonably clean -- countertops that are already fairly clear can be wiped down very quickly. Entropy has been gaining ground though.

#431 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 02:45 PM:

Utterly delightful Dr. Seuss style take on the Occupy movement:

#432 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 03:26 PM:

Elliott Mason: Oh, that might be part of 'clean kitchen while baking' works! Thing goes in oven, has to come out sometime. And then cake!

#433 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 03:37 PM:

Jacque @ #428, I long ago modified your father's phrase "Talking to yourself is fine, as long as you get an intelligent answer" to "Talking to yourself is fine as it ensures you'll get an intelligent answer."

Too much ego? ;)

#434 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 03:40 PM:

My comment is being chewed upon by gnomes (it included two URLs), but it was a bit of a ramble about how I get overwhelmed when I try to make a big list of housecleaning tasks to organize into a chart. The list of daily tasks feels like way too much to handle, much less when I try to add one or two weekly tasks per day. (One of the links was to a scan of my handwritten big list.)

Those of you who have successfully made big lists, have you experienced this? How did you get past it?

#435 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 03:41 PM:

I'm far from an ideal housemaker, but one way I do get myself to do chores is to do them in stages. I tell myself, well, I'll just load the dishwasher now. From there, I may do more, or I may stop with that as I first planned. Often, I fool myself into doing two or three complete chores in all their stages. Stopping partway sometimes makes it easier to fool myself the next time, because self remembers that time when I stopped after just loading the dishes. It's fairly effective in that I at least get some chores done.

Self deception can be wonderful. Sometimes I'm a magician whose only trick is to fool myself.

#436 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 03:43 PM:

Linkmeister @432:
Too much ego?

"In one thing you have not changed, dear friend," said Aragorn: "You still speak in riddles."

"What? In riddles?" said Gandalf. "No! For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: They choose the wisest person present to speak to; the long explanations needed by the young are wearying."

#437 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 04:02 PM:

I think there was an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show where TV anchor Ted Baxter has just finished giving the news, and Lou Grant asks him what the news were, and Ted responds "I don't know, I wasn't listening".

#438 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 04:35 PM:

Elliott Mason @429: having a big bold "STOP NOW" timer ... Eggtimers work for some people; I like playing a podcast,

I've just recently caught myself tripping up on the inverse of this: I'm drawing along, thinking, "Okay, I need to stop at 10pm, put the boys to bed, and feed everybody." But it's 9pm, and my music queue has 2.5 hrs to go. 10pm comes along, but I'm in the middle of [really great song] which has me rockin' along in the Zone ... oops! I'm hoping that setting out at 7:30, with 2.5 hours of music, with the intention of stopping at 10pm may be a little more effective. :-)

Linkmeister @432: ensures you'll get an intelligent answer." ... Too much ego? ;)

Depends! =:o)

Caroline @433: Those of you who have successfully made big lists, have you experienced this? How did you get past it?

When I make a list with associated time estimates, I make a box on the list proportionate to the amount of time a task will take. That makes it very clear to my lizard-brain how much of the morning a task will eat. Makes it more obvious when (during or between tasks) I should plan on taking a break. Also makes it much more obvious if I'm trying to do twenty hours of work in a ten-hour window.

Doesn't help at all when the bottom line is that I Just Have Too Much To Do, though.

Serge Broom @436: "I don't know, I wasn't listening".

During an interview last winter, Dick Cavett and Charlie Rose compared the odd phenomenon of getting home from an evening of work and being asked who was the guest on their show (an hour prior)—and drawing a complete blank.

#439 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Caroline @ 433

The list of daily tasks feels like way too much to handle, much less when I try to add one or two weekly tasks per day. ... Those of you who have successfully made big lists, have you experienced this? How did you get past it?

Since I've been talking about the use of task-lists, I'll jump in. Keep in mind that the biggest rule of my approach to getting things done is "Figure out what your geek is (i.e., what gives you irrational emotional payoff) and then figure out how to re-design or re-vision your goals in terms of feeding your geek." So I would say that if facing big lists is an anti-payoff for you, then see if you can find some other approach.

For me, breaking the overall job down into individual tasks creates an irrational payoff because I get a charge out of each box that gets ticked off. So if, instead of "clean the bathroom" I have a list of 10 individual tasks involved in cleaning the bathroom, not only does it help guide me through the steps even when my brain isn't up to interpreting "clean the bathroom", but I get 10 times the checkbox payoff. Futhermore, if for any reason I don't want to complete the entire group "clean the bathroom", I still get the payoff of having completed some number of whole activities.

But another way I avoid list-overload is by only generating a hard-copy of the subset due in the current rotation. (Playing with spreadsheets is another one of my geek payoffs, so setting something up where I can filter only on "rotation #3, Day 4" is part of the fun.)

#440 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 05:32 PM:

Jacque @ 437... Sometimes my wife will ask what I worked on that day at the office and I can't remember. That tells you how challenging my own tasks have become when they don't involve keeping the newbies from blowing up our equivalent of the warp core.

#441 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Caroline @433:

The list of daily tasks feels like way too much to handle, much less when I try to add one or two weekly tasks per day.

Is it that it feels like unmanageably much data to process, or unmanageably much work to do?

***Everything after this line is advice! Skip it if you are not in the mood!***

My chore list is about a page long in Excel, landscape-oriented, with lots of spaces between groups of lines. It doesn't include daily things, or rare tasks like washing windows (the blank space is for writing in rare tasks), so it covers everything from near-daily (emptying the dishwasher, laundry) to about bimonthly (bathing the dog, cleaning the fridge).

The things that I do daily are:
* personal care and picking up after self (toothbrushing, showering, putting clothes in hamper, eating breakfast, putting plate in dishwasher after breakfast)
* feeding the chickens (includes cleaning up the coop a bit)

The things that somebody, which may or may not be me, does daily are:
* making dinner / cleaning up after dinner (this is on a schedule such that each person either cooks or cleans on a given day; we are about to completely mess up the schedule because it turns out that I can't deal with cooking odors right now, which is going to be all kinds of not-fun)
* walking the dog (this is partly scheduled but not as clearly as who's cooking; weekend mornings in particular are a bit random)

So I suspect that if you're having a data problem, you might be trying to break things down into excessively small pieces.

If the problem is that you're looking at a great big overwhelming pile of things to do, I have different advice depending on whether you usually get most of these things done, and are looking to be more organized about it, or whether you are trying to start a lot of new habits.

For the "I know I do most of this already, why does it look like a giant pile when I list it all out?" case, you could try lumping things (e.g. "tidy for 10 minutes" instead of "pick up clothes in bedroom," "put books away," "take all dirty dishes to kitchen," "clear off dining table," etc.) This is about the same as having a data-management problem, except that the problem with the data is that it looks like more to do than it is really.

You could also try leaving the list somewhere and marking off which tasks get done each day for a week or two, as a test. Maybe some of them don't need to be daily tasks; every other day or twice a week could be often enough to keep you happy.

If you've got a lot of things that you really want to be doing daily but aren't now, then you're looking at trying to start a lot of new habits at once, which sounds overwhelming no matter what they are. If that's the case, I would try adding one daily task each week, or maybe a little more often if they're very small tasks. So week 1, you clear off the dining table every day. Week 2, clear off the dining table and wash all the dishes in the sink each day. Week 3, clear off the dining table, wash all the dishes in the sink, and wipe down the kitchen counters every day. Building slowly will help get each habit more firmly established, although depending on how long the list is the time it takes before you get to doing everything on it could be frustrating. (I think Flylady does something rather like this starting out.)

#442 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 07:09 PM:

I find when I don't want to deal with doing things, that can be a good time to do the laundry. It's a solid accomplishment but if you need to you can spend a lot of time resting while the machine runs, so it's a good compromise between doing something that needs to be done and doing nothing.

#443 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 07:15 PM:

rota nuthr pome, dactylish flouting of rhyme in flavr of patterns:


time to keep beating the
tar out of Entropy
one Pyrrhic victory
won at a time

keep to the beat of the
music of Euterpe:
wonderful euphony
pays for our keep

be timely: tardiness
rarely is understood
by those who pettishly
call you "deadbeat"

Entropy, timeless in
rugose realities
cannot be pandered to.
qvr, Ragebcl!

#444 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 07:38 PM:

I've just discovered that geekosaur's "Making Light reply" shows up in the right-click menu. That's even easier than Safari | Services | ML reply.

#445 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 07:43 PM:

Looking at abi's latest Parhelion, I see that I live just about exactly at the intersection of 5500th Ave and S. 23,412th St.

#446 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 08:37 PM:

I think I managed to crash the "extend New York" interactive map by going to the North Pole.

#447 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 09:00 PM:

"Extend New York": I apparently live on South 5,837 Street, off (West) 831st Avenue (the block to 830 Ave. is split by the Meadowcreek).

Also, if you zoom out far enough, the world map starts repeating, and the grid converges on Uzbekistan (around 126,000-odd Street, Avenue range depends on whether you approach it from east or west).

#448 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 09:06 PM:

David Harmon @ 447... This reminds of a story by JG Ballard.

#449 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 09:06 PM:

Caroline at # 430: a desktop filing thingy (it was $20 at Costco) to deal with the mail.

I like that idea, but I tend to go too far with it. I pick up things like this when I can get them free or cheap—better living through office supplies! So when packing to move last year I threw out lots of letter trays and a carton of unused looseleaf binders. Sometimes a tool is a useful tool, and sometimes it's just an occasion for more cat-vacuuming.

#450 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 10:54 PM:

Jacque @ 428 - If you find a way to quantify spoons, let me know? It's winter, and I am perpetually short. (also, moving/rehabbing a house, which consumes an unholy number of spoons)

When I need a timer, I use the teapot. I have a rough idea of how much time it takes to have it boil at various quantities of water and at various temp levels...And the whistle jolts me out of whatever task I'm working on and must be dealt with. It tends to work really well for things like "clean the cat box" and "clear the counters," esp that subset of clear the counters that involves "figure out where the groceries go, and what you're making for dinner."

Caroline @ 433 - Oh, lordy, do I hear you on this one. I cannot make myself a giant list of all the chores, or I start to shut down in panic and overwhelmedness*. Moving to the new house has made this somewhat better, as this house is a lot smaller and more manageable for one person, but I figured out that some habits have carried over - I sweep on Sunday afternoons, when I get home from church, before open houses. In order to sweep, I have to pick up the things that have been deposited on the floor over the course of the week. Sorting the stuff, corralling the shoes, and pulling a broom through the three main rooms takes about the hour I have between, with enough time in there to throw lunch in the microwave. Tasks that depend on other, unstated tasks work for me without making me feel overwhelmed. I'm just "sweeping".

*my mother is the exact opposite. She's not happy until all the things on are the list, so she can cross them off. This causes some friction on joint projects...

#451 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:15 PM:


I'm pretty good at keeping clutter and litter and stains and dust at bay. I scrape dog hair off of the carpet every few days in shedding season, and vacuum every week or so.

What I'm less regular about is deep-down scrubbing, mopping, and de-gunking. Some things, like baseboard cleaning, I hardly ever do.

#452 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:25 PM:

Sisuile @450: I haven't worked out the quantum factors to a fine granularity, but I can definitely tell you that for me, chores sort out into clear terraces of 'how hard is it to get myself to do them.'

I started by noticing what -- when I am spent and things are getting neglected -- was the first chore to be avoided and what still seemed to keep getting done regardless. The first chore that falls off your 'I can do this' radar is the one that takes the most spoons to handle (whether because its actual performance is de-spooning, or because things leading up to it are disheartening or actively spoon-consuming, so that it never gets done because its prepwork is never done). The thing you can do even when you've hit bottom clearly is the easiest, least-despooning task.

For me, sorting loads of laundry into baskets, upstairs, is much much much 'easier' than putting away a huge, randomly mixed load of tiny kid clothes. Those two microtasks define the edges of the 'spoon-burning range' of the laundry chores, for me.

My idiosyncratic hierarchy of all the laundry tasks I can think of, from easiest to hardest, runs roughly thus:
- Sort random assortment of clothes into well-organized loads, contained in baskets.
- Fold, sort by owner, and put away adult trousers.
- Shake out and stack underwear ready for drawer-ination.
- Put adult shirts on hangers.
- Take a load down to the basement and rotate it through the machines (dry to basket, wet to dry, new load into washer).
- Shake out and fold adult t-shirts.
- Sort through a mixed load to make piles of like things (t-shirts, hanger shirts, socks, underwear, baby clothes, etc)
- Pair and ball socks. (Except when I'm feeling OCDish, when some sock-sorting is just what I need)
- Organize, de-collate, and fold baby clothing. (Note: baby socks are for some reason 'harder' than normal socks)

Unfortunately, we have a finite number of baskets, such that all extant ones can be full of clean, un-put-away laundry when I need to start sorting the dirty to wash it. Sigh.

#453 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 05, 2012, 11:29 PM:

Argh. Two ohnoseconds after hitting post, I realized I had a postscript to my @452:

If certain tasks that have to happen early in a chain (to enable later tasks) are very, very 'difficult' tasks, you might be able to get someone else to bootstrap you by doing things easy for them, but hard for you. For example, on my low-spoon days, I will sometimes sort very many loads, and get my better half to do the 'bring dirty downstairs, cycle machines, bring clean upstairs' task so I can go straight to cherry-picking out the easy-to-fold stuff.

#454 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:20 AM:

On housecleaning:

Recently, my parents went on holiday to the seaside for a couple of days. Meanwhile, those of their children who were able to make it went on holiday to our home town for a couple of days, which we spent cleaning our parents' kitchen, lounge room, and the room where stuff gets put because there's no room in the kitchen or the lounge room (officially a spare bedroom, but I can't remember the last time there was room for a bed in there). All three rooms are now much cleaner, easier to move around in, and contain significantly less in the way of cockroaches, redback spiders, and mouse and ferret droppings. (My sister was particularly impressed when she identified the ferret droppings; nobody in this family's owned a ferret in many years.) In the kitchen, particularly, much decluttering was made possible by the discovery that once one got deep enough the clutter started to repeat itself; when a thing had been buried long enough, buying a new one had seemed easier than figuring out where it was and excavating it.

Final tally: 4 adults, 2 days, 3 trips to the rubbish dump and 1 to the op shop, as well as at least one car-load worth of "Hey, that's mine! I wondered where it had ended up!"

(The room-where-stuff-gets-put is the same one I mentioned here four holiday seasons ago as requiring a team of sherpas to retrieve stuff from. I think I have all my books out now. I'd been wondering where Time of the Ghost and Rout of the Ollafubs had got to.)

#455 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:57 AM:

when a thing had been buried long enough, buying a new one had seemed easier than figuring out where it was and excavating it

Sometimes literally - when we were moving my father's workshop equipment out, the table saw had a glass-cutter buried in the shavings underneath. And there were two more glass-cutters in his tools, one still unopened.

#456 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 01:31 AM:

Per abi's NY grid, I'm at 31,608th Avenue and S. 21,261st Street.

As good as the USPS is, I suspect that won't get my mail to me.

#457 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:09 AM:

I wonder if Extend New York could be extended even further to the moon and Mars. Not necessary to make it 3 dimensional, just attach the maps to somewhere on the earth's map. Hmm, what projection is that map using, I wonder.

#458 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:19 AM:

Bruce Cohen (STM) @457:

Actually, it occurs to me that if we have a rough idea of the standard floor height in Manhattan buildings (allowing for a taller ground floor, the average presence of mezzanines, etc), we could very easily add a third dimension. Might want to factor in Manhattan's height above sea level as well for added precision (because this is clearly about getting it just right, yes?).

#459 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 07:27 AM:

I see that I'm on 2,064th Ave and S. 14,070th St. Given that I used to live at 114th St at Broadway and then Academy St at Broadway, this seems a trifle distant from Broadway.

Oddly, when I came to Atlanta, I lived for years just off Peachtree. Fate?

#460 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 08:39 AM:

We remember literal music videos, right? Where somebody would take a music video (say, Russell Mulcahy's famously surreal video for "Total Eclipse of the Heart") and replace the soundtrack with new words that fit what was happening on screen?

Now, somebody has taken it to the next level: Take a literal video and replace the visual with a sequence of related images that fit the description on the soundtrack. Thus: Literal Eclipse of the Hearts

#461 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 10:29 AM:

General notes about cleaning and decluttering: I have been doing both since the Ex moved out, which will be two years at the end of this month. (My, how time flies! Like a banana, I know, but I digress.)

First I cleaned up her mess, of which there was a lot under the bed (which she took), along any flat surface like a dresser, and so on. The guest room was stuffed with her papers from -- and I am not exaggerating -- as far back as twenty years ago. At first I organized her Stuff into neat piles, maintained it while fostering the ten kittens and Catma in that room, and then gradually eliminated it.

My secret? I start in one spot, with a bag for the garbage, a bag or box for the recycle, and a spot for the "Stuff I'll Keep". My early days generated mostly garbage and recycle, and I whittled it all down to a manageable few boxen that I moved downstairs. I suspect I'll be able to throw them out this year, but it depends on how things end up.

That was more decluttering, I suppose. The regular cleaning and laundry is done in daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Cat litter boxes are daily, vacuuming and sweeping is weekly, and rearranging rooms is monthly. Once I'm done with all the decluttering (and I haven't even started on the basement), then I'll be able to settle in to a quiet routine of keeping things clean.

Socks, though...I don't watch television much anymore, and that was my prime sock-matching time. Now I have way too many unmatched socks, sitting in big piles, looking at me.

#462 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 10:39 AM:

Ginger @ 461... We'd better get you watching TV again, otherwise it'll be the Asockalypse.

#463 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 10:55 AM:

P J Evans @ 455 ...
Sometimes literally - when we were moving my father's workshop equipment out, the table saw had a glass-cutter buried in the shavings underneath. And there were two more glass-cutters in his tools, one still unopened.

One of my ongoing projects on the cleaning and de-cluttering front is trying to condense categories of things (eg: woodworking tools, wool) into a single location in the house, instead of being scattered throughout. This makes it substantially easier to weed through and sort things out to be kept/disposed of, as well as making it easier to find stuff when I need it.

On the tool front (and what reminded me of my ongoing collation project), I think I've found at least three glass-cutters[0] (although I've only kept two) -- unfortunately the cutters on both of them seem to be too worn to be useful[1].

[0] None of them were buried in sawdust
[1] ... but I'm a sucker for beautifully turned wood handles, and I can still use them to crack glass (justify, justify...)

#464 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 11:28 AM:

When I had lived here 19 years, the pipes under the bathroom sink developed a leak. I had the landlord come in to fix it and he found a butter knife that had been lodged in that pipe for 20+ years. When I was working, some coworkers got to clean out a business partner's factory and turned up a book on business practices that'd been checked out from the Seattle library 36 years back and never returned. I took it back to the library and the person I checked it into didn't bat an eye.
No glass cutters, though. [I might have one stashed away in one of my toolboxes.]

#465 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 11:36 AM:

Paul A @454 when a thing had been buried long enough, buying a new one had seemed easier than figuring out where it was and excavating it.

Years ago, I remember an article from the Chicago Tribune about a family that was coming back from a dysfunctional state. (As I recall, alcohol or drugs were involved, not just clutter.) Things were improving when the article was written, but at a low point the family of 4 or 5 were sleeping on mattresses in the living room because the rest of the house was pretty much inaccessible due to clutter. Nobody knew, because they managed to get to work and get the kids to school in clean clothing and were, on the surface, doing okay.

Anyway, the specific point I remember was the phones. They'd lose the cordless phone, be unable to find it, and so just buy another. As they decluttered the house, they found 7 of them. That's become one of our family jokes: "I can't find the X" "It's over there, next to the cordless phone"

I must admit, I have bought a replacement copy of a favorite book even though I'm almost certain the original is somewhere in the house (not, e.g., loaned to someone who didn't return it).

#466 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:04 PM:

OtterB @ 465:

There seems to be a Principle of Later Discovery, which states that when you give up looking for an item and buy a replacement, you will rediscover the original within the next week.

This is especially annoying with books. A few months ago I decided I wanted to re-read Charlie Sttross' Singularity Sky, which I consider one of the funniest SF books I've ever read (the deadpan parody of a David Weber space battle still makes me smile after several re-readings). After searching through all my books I couldn't find my copy, so, assuming I'd resold or given it away, I went down to Powell's and bought another. Three days later, while packing up the books shelved in my office in preparation for the Great Floor Renewal (q.v.), I found the original copy. Oh, well, I had to buy a new copy because they didn't have any used, so Charlie will get a few cents in royalty sometime in the next 5 or 10 years as the mills of the accountants slowly grind.

And tools? The thing I kept duplicating was tape measures. When I finally broke down and bought a rolling tool cabinet 5 or 6 years ago, after 40 years of keeping tools in an assortment of toolboxes and cardboard boxes, I found 4 tape measures of various lengths from 8 feet to 50 feet.

#467 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:16 PM:

I think seam rippers are kin to odd socks. I know I have purchased and brought home at least 12 of the buggers; at most one is findable at any given time.

Then there's the time I went to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston specifically to buy a seam ripper and came home with all the makings for my marvelous cloak ... I was headed down the hallway towards the section I wanted, and a bolt of really lovely plaid wool (darkest blue, off-black, and deep purply red; very woad/walnut/madder looking) was sticking out of the array on the wall.

"No problem," thought I, "It'll be ridiculously expensive and I will have no problem avoiding buying it." Um. $5/yard. And I did rather need a piece of warm outerwear for SCA purposes that was not, y'know, mundane.

"Well," I reassured myself, "I bet a cloak takes eighteen butt-tons of fabric, so even at $5/yard it'll add UP to enough that I'll know I can't have it." Off to the Simplicity racks (Which, to add insult to injury, were on $.75 sale) to find a cloak pattern I thought I could sew that would look decent. Less than 3 yards. Dammit.

"So I need a lining, this is too scratchy to wear right at my neck. I bet THAT'S expensive!" Nope, the black cotton flannel was $1.20/yard.

So I went to the store for a seam ripper and ended up with a cloak. I still use it, and get compliments every time -- at my first event, people asked me if I dyed and wove it myself, which was lovely egoboo for a newbie SCAdian.

#468 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:24 PM:

When I and the sherpas liberated most of my books from the room with the stuff a few years back, and I was able to put everything in one place in proper order, I found that I had quite a few duplicates - the record, if memory serves, being four separate copies of James Clavell's Tai-Pan. Each time I bought a copy, it would disappear into the clutter, then I'd see another copy going cheap and remember that I'd been meaning to read that when I had a copy to hand...

#469 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:38 PM:

When my wife is looking for something of hers without success, I say "Is there a stack of books or papers somewhere?" If so, I then suggest that she look under the stack.

#470 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 12:42 PM:

When I do laundry, socks get hung up with a sock-width gap between them, unless it's mate to a sock that's already been hung, in which case it goes in the appropriate gap. Pairs get folded together as they come off the line. Odd socks are, in my experience, mostly a thing that happens to other people.

(This, of course, assumes the use of a clothes line. If there's an equivalent procedure that works with a tumble dryer, it's not coming to mind.)

#471 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 01:12 PM:

My parents were accumulators, and so were theirs. So I've got all sorts of odd stuff (a Boston city register from the 1850s when my grandfather was registrar; the letter from my father's mother to her mother about her meeting my father; some silver pieces from my father's father's father's wedding in 1832; an Italian newspaper from WWII that an artist sent my grandmother). I've added some bits o my own (lots of old letters, a Boston newspaper from 1803). But the oddest bit to come through was a diary that one of my father's cousins wrapped up in wax paper and sent him in a Jiffy bag.

The first entry was "Dec 25 1776. Valley Forge. Cold today."

That one went off to a major historical collection....

#472 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 01:16 PM:

Hyperlocal news... Man discovers that, on the week he was born, the Number One Song was Mitch Miller's "Yellow Rose of Texas". Luckily, the song that was most played on jukeboxes that week was "Rock Around The Clock".

#473 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 01:26 PM:

Serge @469 "Is there a stack of books or papers somewhere?"

Snort. In our house, the question is unfortunately "Is there a flat surface without a stack of books or papers?" We make dark jokes about suspending cargo nets from the ceiling.

Bruce Cohen @466 on the Principle of Later Discovery. Our equivalent is the Principle of Unlooked-for Items. You most often find something only when searching for something else. ("I can't find the X, but here's the Y you were looking for the other day.")

We have major basement decluttering in progress with a collateral goal of consolidating most of the household books in one reasonably well-organized location. The initial stages have turned up at least one book I had looked for assiduously (but had looked on bookshelves and in stacks of books, not in a box of miscellaneous stuff of unknown provenance). On the other hand, I replaced Hellspark more than a year ago and the original still hasn't surfaced. I still think it's here somewhere, though.

#474 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 01:51 PM:

Serge Broom #469: In some households, it is also necessary to look under the (or each) cat...

#475 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:00 PM:

My 15-yo daughter and I wear the same size socks, so we mostly don't pair or divide them, just throw them all in a big pile at the bottom of the clean laundry bag and dig through until we find two we want.

The exception are her colorful ankle-highs, which go in a separate stack. But she's never felt that it was necessary to wear two of the same pattern at the same time and seems to pair them up according to however she feels that morning. Sometimes she'll wear two of the same style (two sushi, two monsters) but rarely an actual pair.

#476 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:03 PM:

re: odd socks

I used to buy at least half a dozen pair of the same color, which meant grabbing any two gave a pair. Then I began knitting myself knee socks, and discovered these handy gadgets. They go immediately from the clean pair I will wear to bed to the ones coming off.

Search for sock clips.

#477 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:06 PM:

David Harmon @ 474... Or under the three dogs.

#478 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 02:37 PM:

Serge @ 477:

And it's always under the last dog.

#479 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 03:10 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 478... And the last dog is the grumpy one who gets grumpier as it sees what all the dogs are going thru.

#480 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 03:24 PM:

Heather Rose Jones @ 439: "Figure out what your geek is (i.e., what gives you irrational emotional payoff) and then figure out how to re-design or re-vision your goals in terms of feeding your geek."

Oooooh. I knew that -- not just that it was your approach, but also that I succeed when I use that approach -- but I kept feeling like "But I like data! Listing and sorting tasks should work for me!"

Well, I do like data, but that isn't the operating principle in this arena. Here, my geek is instant gratification -- seeing the real-world results of what I've done, and seeing them quickly.

This is why I find these tasks oddly fun:
-Putting clothes into the washing machine
-Cleaning toilets, bathtubs, and bathroom sinks
-Washing one dish

and find these tasks to be incredibly painful:
-Sorting mail
-Folding clean laundry
-General tidying/decluttering surfaces
-Washing a lot of dishes

There are others in both lists, but the principle is clear. I like to do things that let me, in one motion (or maybe two), accomplish something obvious and tangible. (I also seem to like things that involve water, but I think that's because the effects of water are usually immediate and tangible.)

When I've swiped a dusty shelf with the microfiber duster, the difference is obvious. Yay! Clean! I want to make more things clean!

But when I've sorted one piece of mail, there are still ten more sitting there. When I've folded one piece of laundry, there's still a pile. It feels like I haven't accomplished anything at all.

I don't yet have a good idea about how to leverage instant gratification to get those tasks done. It suggests a Getting Things Done approach, breaking the tasks down into their tiniest components to try and get a sense of accomplishment out of each individual piece. But getting that sense of accomplishment is the hard part. I think the secret lies somewhere in the difference between "washing one dish" and "washing dishes." I get a kick out of washing one dirty wine glass and making it clean and shiny and sparkly. But when that wine glass is the first of a whole counter full of dishes, the kick is replaced by mentally multiplying the effort to wash that wine glass by the number of dishes left to wash, and a feeling of "This is going to take forever."

With intangible large projects, breaking them down into smaller, tangible tasks helps me. Like "Research X topic" turns into "Launch Firefox. Go to library website. Type search terms into box and click search. Write down call numbers of interesting results. Walk to library. Go to third floor and pick up book. Go to circulation desk." Each of those tasks has a tangible, immediate payoff.

But when the large project is itself tangible, like "Fold all of this laundry," and when the task breakdown is "Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold…" -- then the payoff from each individual task disappears for me.

Actually, I just thought of something. For folding laundry, I actually have fun when I use a novel folding method, like this one. I find that method inherently fun to do -- it's one motion, and it's just awesome to pick up a t-shirt at two points and suddenly it's folded. That gives me back a payoff for each individual "Fold" task.

And shredding mail is inherently fun for me. Bzzzzzz.

So there's a principle there: Find a way to do repetitive small tasks so that each repetition gives you some kick. I'll have to think about how to implement it.

#481 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 04:14 PM:

OtterB (473): We make dark jokes about suspending cargo nets from the ceiling.

My mother's line, when we were wondering where on Earth we would put something, was always, "Hang it from the chandelier*!"

*Our house didn't have chandeliers.

#482 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 05:08 PM:

Caroline @ 480 -

When I've swiped a dusty shelf with the microfiber duster, the difference is obvious. Yay! Clean! I want to make more things clean!

I know the feeling. The urge to see progress is important.

Some years back, Linda and I moved from one house to another. We had the rental moving truck out front, and I had spent a couple of hot, sweaty hours loading it up, but all I could see were the godawful number of remaining boxes in the house that needed to be loaded.

So I mowed the lawn. It needed it, but more importantly, it looked like I had done something. Progress!

#483 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 07:29 PM:


I wear white socks about 90% of the time, and all but 1-2 pairs are the SAME EXACT MODEL from Costco.

I'm home sick today. After spending three hours on the couch under a blanket I got up to drink some fizzy cold medicine. I decided to conquor scrubbing the sink -- the right one, under the drain board, which had gotten filthy -- while the kettle was heating up. Looks really good now.

#484 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 07:29 PM:

DAMNATION. I just discovered that my local cable provider DOES include BBC America—it's just not listed on the @#$%^*$@%# TV Guide website for some unbelievably stupid reason!

I could have been watching Doctor Who this whole time!

Also, my microwave is burnt out. Not having a good day.

#485 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 07:54 PM:

Looks like I may be partly offline for a while... My main computer is choking up and possibly dying. (Display failure, sometimes both keyboards fail instead.). I've,e also seen a spurious UPS warning (no signal or red light on the UPS box).

My wireless router is still working, so I'm sending is from the iPad.

#486 ::: Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 07:57 PM:


#487 ::: Harmon has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 08:00 PM:


#488 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 08:34 PM:

OtterB @ 465: I must admit, I have bought a replacement copy of a favorite book even though I'm almost certain the original is somewhere in the house (not, e.g., loaned to someone who didn't return it).

One of my books cataloged on LibraryThing now has the comment "dropped behind the white bookcase under the south window". Should I ever want to re-read it, I'll know that I have the option of buying another copy, or unloading and moving the bookcase and putting all the books back. Decisions, decisions.

#489 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 09:05 PM:

Yes, I bought a replacement book just last month for one I'd mislaid, and the original has turned up. I expected it to happen.

#490 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 09:11 PM:

@Xopher: If it makes you feel better:

Comcast added BBC America to my Standard Cable lineup a couple of months ago.

I added it to my DVR's channel map, and started recording episodes. They were in odd order, but I finally hit the jackpot: A Christmas Season marathon of the new season, plus the last two Christmas specials AND a bunch of other specials about the Doctor, villains, and companions.

I got home from holiday visits to find that everything had recorded.

Then I tried watching. I'd recorded dozens of hours of COPS and assorted infomercials. Something went wonky and the wrong cable channel number was entered for BBCA.


Well, it looks like the new Xmas special is going to repeat soon.

#491 ::: Tracie ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 09:18 PM:

Socks, socks and more socks. In another life I worked as a civilian in the Defense Department, and moved around like I was active duty. Only once did I have more than 2 weeks notice (I knew I was going to move, just not quite when), and only once was it not between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, these were separate moves. Fortunately my employer paid for the move; unfortunately, I never had enough notice to do other than say "Pack everything," and remember to take out the garbage.

On the 1 month notice move, my daughter and I gathered up every sock in the house and threw them into 3 piles -- white, black/dark and colored -- and washed them all. Then we laid them out on the floor in a spectrum, with black, white, brown and gray to one side, and started matching. We ended up with (no exaggeration) well over 100 pairs of socks. And some singletons too. This is the only time I've had fun while moving.

#492 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 09:43 PM:

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky are doing their annual State of the World chewing-on-the-future thing:

#493 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Stefan 489: Well, it looks like the new Xmas special is going to repeat soon.

Yeah, tomorrow at 3:00, at least here.

#494 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2012, 11:02 PM:

I live right near the corner of 15730 Avenue and 3521 Street.

A subway stop nearby would be wonderful.

Hmmm. If I had the time and ambition . . . imagine a mock-up NYC subway entry. Railings, realistically worn and stained stairs, colored lamp globes, signage. Installed by digging a hole, laying in stairs and the landing and a bricked-up entrance.

#495 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 01:04 AM:

Stefan Jones @ #493, JK Rowling did that for King's Cross Station. You'd be accused of plagiarism.

#496 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 01:42 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 493:

I'd like to see one of the artists linked to from abi's Parhelion on "Street Art Utopia" do a trompe-l'œil subway station entrance.

Incidentally, if you follow abi's link, be sure to continue following links from that as well. I've got several tabs open on various pages of pictures of that art, and each is more fascinating than the last.

#498 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 08:36 AM:

HLN: Local woman returns to internet after gallbladder surgery, attempts to catch up on Making Light (two days, three threads) during the interval between "last pain pill wore off" and "next pain pill takes effect," almost succeeds.

I'll be back in about 7 hours when it's time for another pill.

#499 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 08:58 AM:

Thena... Ow.

#500 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 09:00 AM:

Tracie @ 490... my daughter and I gathered up every sock in the house

Coming soon, "The Search for Sock"...

#501 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 09:24 AM:

Thena Welcome back, and hope for a quick recovery.

#502 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 11:16 AM:

Thena: Ow. May your recovery be swift and uneventful.

#503 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 03:10 PM:

Serious Open Threadness:

Jamaica's voter mandated by landslide new Prime Minister says it's time to "detach" Jamaica from the Queen. That is big news, at least in some of our quarters!

Love, C.

#504 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 03:40 PM:

Open threadiness of the slippery slope variety:

It has been common for many years for judges to sentence people to some kind of mandatory drivers ed, alcohol ed, drug ed, efc., as part of their sentence or as a way to reduce their sentence. I'm sure sometimes, people have pointed out that this same power could be used to demand that, say, political protesters attend classes to teach them that they're not really supposed to protest like that.

But of course, that's silly, and nothing like that could ever happen

#505 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 03:53 PM:

The PayPal/violin story has been picked up by the media: Guardian, Fairfax NZ.

#506 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 05:07 PM:

Bruce cohen #466 - the most expensive late discovery I've had so far was buying a new small digital camera since I couldn't find the old one. Which then turned up two weeks later.
Although since it was an opportunity to upgrade (not entirely successful mind you) it wasn't really wasted.

I like reading people's stories of their decluttering, it helps give me ideas for justifying to myself the decluttering I need to do. (2nd bedroom floor was home to 3 piles of old magazines and notes from my last university degree, now I have binned some stuff and tidied others away onto shelves. There is lots more to do though)

Elliot Mason # 467 - and how many bags or boxes of offcuts, spare scraps and little bits that might possibly be suitable for stuffing something at some point do you have? I finally realised my aunt who does patchwork quilts might find some of my medium sized pieces of cloth of varous colours some use, so she has a bagful now, hopefully she'll want more.

#507 ::: Brenda.Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 05:38 PM:

Open-threadiness: I had high hopes for some old SF to be online when I discovered that
Project Gutenberg put online most issues of Astounding for 1930. I hastily looked for more issues and also for issues of Amazing Stories. No more! Someone just uploaded the one year. Of course, that wasn't the year I wanted.

Sigh. For years I've been wanting to read the original magazine versions of the Skylark and Lensman series. What I'm looking for, per Wikipedia, is

Amazing Stories  Aug-Sept 1928  Skylark
                 Aug-Oct  1930  Skylark III

Astounding Aug 1934-Feb 1935 S. of Valeron
Sept 1937-Feb 1938 Gal. Patrol
Oct 1939-Jan 1940 Gray Lensman
Nov 1941-Feb 1942 2nd Stage L.
Nov 1947-Feb 1948 Children of L.

Does anyone have any ideas about online sources for these?

#508 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 05:39 PM:

Thena: Welcome back, glad it went well, take the meds as needed, and feel better.

#509 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 06:38 PM:

Hamster-powered submarine. That is all.

#510 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 07:21 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 508... Oh my... Created by Captain Nemouse?

#511 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 07:26 PM:

Jacque @ 428

Brief kinesthetic-visual spin on the talking to oneself:

I maintain a whiteboard for similar purposes. It has the thing I am working on at the top. Then, if I think of distracting other things I want to do, they go below it. Clears out my mind-clutter, and when I find myself standing there trying to remember what I was doing, I can easily remind myself by reading the first line on the whiteboard. Minor deviations are permitted, but anything where I will have forgotten what I was working on by the time I'm done with it either displaces my first list-item, or gets written down below it. Doesn't stop me muttering to myself, but it does put it into a form I can process a little more easily.

#512 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2012, 10:55 PM:

Re the "Kung Fu Anti-Popes" sidebar item:

If there is an anti-Pope, is his name Maledict?

#513 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 01:44 AM:

Brenda at 507

The Smith stories are tricky, copyrightwise. Some had their copyrights renewed, and others didn't. And there's a note in the Old Earth Book edition that the Lensman books had their copyrights renewed, though a search for those renewals has come up empty.

Anything that was published before 1923 is automatically in the public domain, but, of course, Smith was writing after that.

I've asked a Project Gutenberg volunteer who submits a lot of copyright clearance requests, and he says, first of all, that "Rule 6" copyright clearances are on indefinite hold, so any post-1922 pre-1964 titles that aren't already in the ebook creating pipeline won't get into it until they re-start doing those clearances. It seems that some authors renewed copyright under a different title, and a couple of books had to be withdrawn from PG, so they're revising their procedures.

That said, The Skylark of Space and Skylark Three can both be found at Project Gutenberg. Skylark of Valeron has no known renewals at this time, but has been caught by the Rule 6 hold.

He'd like to do some Lensman stories that he has prepped, but again, they're caught by the Rule 6 hold and that indication of possible copyright renewal. My asking him has prompted him to see if that can be sped along any.

So, long story short: try searching Project Gutenberg.

You might also try searching the Internet Archive.
I'm told there are scans there of at least some Amazing Stories magazines.

#514 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 03:10 AM:

Me @498 & passim -

Thanks everybody! I'm feeling much better than I expected to at this point. I also think the generic-vicodin has a lot to do with this: it's good for a six hour nap.

It's probably a good thing it makes me sleep so much. Don't have enough attention span to play video games, running out of stuff to read on the internet.

Might have to start knitting, if I can find an Unfinished Object that doesn't require counting higher than three. I don't think I'm up for anything complicated...

#515 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 04:03 AM:

It's one of those slightly worrying occasions.

I am down for cataract surgery, eventually both eyes, the first operation being on the 15th March. The need isn't desperate, but I'm seeing the glare effects.

I am not eagerly anticipating the occasion, even though this is one of those operations where the chance of anything going wrong is down there at the medical noise level. I'm not sure you can properly talk about Sigma for one end of the range of results, and I rather doubt the distribution is normal. But, as I said to the surgeon, compared to what has happened over the last three years, this is minor.

Anyway, I know a few people who have had the surgery.

#516 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 07:06 AM:

Open-Thready: After a white-knuckle moment at the keyboard last night, I'd like to commend a fairly new utility to any other UNIX geeks out there: extundelete, which (despite what the ext3 FAQ says) can undelete files and even directories from ext3 and ext4 partitions.

Caveats: As usual, you want to unmount the partition ASAP after you realized you screwed up, and you need another filesystem big enough to hold the recovery results. You will also need to compile the program yourself, which will require the e2fs library. If you want to use a date/time filter, you'll need to convert the date to a UNIX timestamp using e.g., 'date -d "Jan 7 20:00" +%s' .

Get it at sourceforge: (info page) (project and download)

#517 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 07:23 AM:

Caroline @480: "So there's a principle there: Find a way to do repetitive small tasks so that each repetition gives you some kick. I'll have to think about how to implement it."

"For every job that must be done, there is an element of fun; / you find the fun, and *snap*! The job's a game!"

On rebuying books - I don't do that any more, since I started maintaining a Notepad file of what books I actually _own_ (multiple files, in fact, covering humor/cartoon books, RPG/gaming books, and Everything Else) many years back. And more recently purchased a little dark-blue EEE netbook so I could have the files WITH me in the bookstore, instead of a scribbled-in notebook of 'books to buy' with some lines crossed out. This solution may be too OCD, or too something else, for some people, I know.

But ... I will admit to recently having gone to the library and checked out the Riddle-Master trilogy because I figured out that my copy was in a box, under two other boxes, in a corner. (Read, re-enjoyed, returned; thinking about Amber or the Belgariad next, which are in similar situations.)


#518 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 08:23 AM:

I played my recent hospitalization close to the vest this time (last time, I Facebooked things like fever temperatures) because it started out with a fairly embarrassing medical condition that got complicated. I was able to maintain connections to the outside world via hospital wi-fi and my Nook Color.

#519 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 09:09 AM:

Hyperlocal news... Greg Bear will be at Albuquerque's Page One this coming Monday evening.

#520 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 09:30 AM:

David 517:

This almost sounds like some kind of complicated financial transaction--like you have an illiquid asset, and so you use it as collateral to borrow money, and use that to do some short term speculation in the same illiquid asset....

#521 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 10:09 AM:

Cally @513

Thanks for the info. That leads to Kalt's corollary to Murphy's Law: Interesting things tend to devolve into "That's complicated."

But I will pursue the Skylark titles.

Thanks again!

#522 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 10:33 AM:

Dave Bell (515): May all go well.

Thena (514): I'm glad to hear you're recovering smoothly. Thanks for keeping us posted.

Earl Cooley III (518): May you also have a smooth recovery.

#523 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 11:07 AM:

Open thready: I am in a production of Pirates of Penzance. Pirates have been very popular of late, with group after group following the herd. The primary cultural touchstone is, of course, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

So I got to thinking, what would a skull & crossbones look like for the cultured Victorian set? Here's what I came up with. Note that this is not, in fact, an actual poster at this point; our theatrical group is rather conservative in that fashion. If I *do* get approval for using this I will be pleased and surprised.

#524 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 11:25 AM:

B Durbin @ 523... Ooooh... I like it.

#525 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 11:43 AM:

The skull looks very elegant and cultured.

#526 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 11:52 AM:

Dave Bell @ 515:

Good luck with the surgery. I've had cataract surgery on both eyes, and the operations were quick, recovery was rapid, and there were no complications or unexpected consequences. In fact, the most complicated part was arranging for someone to drive me to and from the doctor's office, and the most uncomfortable part was wearing an eye patch for a few days afterwards (though wearing the plastic parrot Eva gave me on my shoulder helped to make up for the latter).

#527 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 12:20 PM:

Open-thready rumination:

Audience expectation can be a funny thing sometimes. If you see a movie where a group of characters set out to verify an event that might have been an alien encounter, there's a chance that it really is aliens and the world is going to be changed forever. That chance becomes significantly less if it's not a stand-alone story but a story arc from an ongoing series, because ongoing series like the world to stay the way it was. If it's a story arc from a third of the way through a long-running crime/espionage series, the characters may keep an open mind - they don't know what genre they're in - but the reader is likely to assume it's some kind of trick from the word go.

(The story that prompts this rumination is "Take Me To Your Leader", a Modesty Blaise story from 1974. Despite assuming it was some kind of trick from the word go, I didn't figure out how the trick was being done before Modesty did, but I'm not too shamed about that: as Modesty says when she puts it together, the truth is the one possibility that's arguably even less likely than "It really is aliens".)

#528 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 02:39 PM:

B. Durbin @ 523: Love the dapper skull!

Earl Cooley III @518: I played my recent hospitalization close to the vest...
Glad you're doing well. After watching a series of FB posts from a friend (What are the symptoms of appendicitis? Going to the ER... Wow there's a long wait... Looks like I'll have surgery...), I vowed never to do the same. When I had appendicitis a year ago, my first online status about it was something like "Had an appendectomy yesterday. All is well." I prefer suspense in fiction.

#529 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 02:57 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ #526: "the most uncomfortable part was wearing an eye patch"

Have you seen this DirectTV ad?

#530 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 06:00 PM:


Thanks, I hadn't seen that. Just for the record that's the reason I have Directv. The cable company made me angry when their equipment would break and they wouldn't send someone out to fix it. This made be blow off steam. But unlike my son, who's a psychologist, and gets angry, I get angry and break things. It felt very good to cut the cable back 10 feet from my house and throw the cut length out.

#531 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 06:07 PM:


I wonder if I can get an eyepatch with the Apple logo.

#532 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 06:33 PM:

B. Durbin @ 523


My eyes perceive a problem in a poster's inspiration
I could point out certain features in a lengthy explanation.
Which have no need to mention my defective optic senses
But I'd rather not provoke the moderation consequences.
Now I do not want to perish by the pun or disemvoweller,
And this effort might draw plaudits from a Simon Cowell, or
A better verse with compliments my vanity would flatter,
But it's getting close to midnight, so it really doesn't matter!
So it really doesn't matter
So it really doesn't matter
So it really doesn't matter, matter, matter, matter, matter!

#533 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 06:36 PM:

Dave @ #531: Personally, I'd go for one with an embroidered gold dragon, like the villain in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, who utters my absolute favorite line in movie history:

"Set the timer. And put it on nuclear!"

#534 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 06:54 PM:

From the Facebook page of a friend of a friend:

"Gross! I google Santorum and get info about this vile candidate."

#535 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 07:24 PM:

Dave Bell, good luck with that. Most everyone I know who has had cataract surgery has been very happy with the result. (It's in my future, so I pay attention.) The one person I know who did not have a good outcome, (which I'm told is extremely rare), ended up in no worse situation.

#536 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 09:08 PM:

John A., that darn near justifies the existence of Facebook all by itself. Thanks.

#537 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 10:05 PM:

My current earworm. You may find it less catchy. We're singing this in choir (not as well), so that's another reason for it to be on high rotation in my brain.

#538 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 10:19 PM:

Blog of likely interest to ML readers:

The Kissed Mouth

By the author of a biography of Fanny Cornforth, the blog ranges over all sorts of Pre-Raphaelite subjects.

#539 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 08, 2012, 11:50 PM:

My father had cataract surgery-- he didn't want it, he avoided it, he lost his night driving license, he developed a lot of coping strategies to minimize how much it showed, and then detached retina number four happened and they had to do the cataract to get to the retina, and he loved it so much he went and had the other eye done. That one wasn't as textbook perfect, but you know, he's had seven surgeries on his eyes (counting cataract and retina as one) so anything that doesn't include them falling out is a success.

#540 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 12:17 AM:

Lila@533 - There was a Hong Kong action movie my wife and I went to purely on the strength of one line quoted in the newspaper review - "Only deus ex machina can save you now!", followed, of course, by deus ex machina floating down from the ceiling and saving Our Hero from the Evil Bad Guys. It was a cheesy a movie as we'd expected, and highly worthwhile.

#541 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 08:48 AM:

Bill Stewart @ 540... Where Hong Kong cheese is concerned, my favorite example is "The Seven Golden Vampires", a co-production with Hammer Films, according to which the Cross won't repell Asian vampires, but small statues of Buddha will do the trick.

#542 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:25 AM:

Does anybody know how much the shuttle between Chicago's airport and the city itself costs? I'm researching whether it'd be cheaper for my wife and I to fly or drive to the worldcon, so I'm looking up the various expenses.

#543 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:33 AM:

Xopher @537: Earwormed for me now too, not that I mind! We sang that in high school choir, and it's just gorgeous.

#544 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:49 AM:

Serge @542: If you take the subway (Blue Line from O'Hare; Orange Line from Midway) it's $2.25/person. Of course, you carry all your own bags. The Hyatt Regency is reasonably close to both subway lines. Of course, if you can make it downtown on the train, you can get a short cab ride from the subway station to the hotel proper, if you don't feel like humping bags on the last leg (probably less than $10).

I don't know what 'shuttles' cost, but there are flat rates from each airport to a range of destinations, if you take an airport taxi from the authorized cabstand.

#545 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 11:11 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 544... Thanks. I didn't know that there is now a subway line. Then again, my last trip to Chicago was 30 years ago.

#546 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 11:28 AM:

HLN: Huge thunderstorm slams into Houston area. Water a foot deep in street by curb, one-quarter of the way up the driveway. Garbage cans pushed down the street by the water.

Area man tries to retrieve garbage can, gives up.

#547 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 11:31 AM:

Serge, some hotels may also maintain a shuttle of their own to the airport for their guests. The hotel's own site may have information on that.

For those wanting details on public transportation: Chicago Transit Authority.

#548 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 11:36 AM:

Am I the only one who expected that last link (in 547) to be musical?

#549 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 11:40 AM:

Tom, I thought that as well.

So, Chicago

#550 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 12:14 PM:

It was only a matter of time. :)

Apple Water

#551 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 01:13 PM:

Query: Over 90% of the time, if someone mentions Australia around Americans, somebody will say "G'day, mate! Throw another shrimp on the barbie!" or something very close to it. If somebody says Ireland, it's "Always after me Lucky Charms! Manly, yes; but I like it too!"

So, what's the kneejerk reflex in other lands when somebody says "USA"? "Gimme a hamburger wit' no lettuce"? "Hey, Moitle!"? "Back it outa here"? Inquiring Yank wants to know. Unless it's something from Jersey Shore. That would be too depressing.

#552 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 01:31 PM:

Hi, all. Things are rather quiet in the aftermath of the big move-out. I've cried some, although not as much as I expected--which may be a good thing, or may be a bad thing, I haven't decided yet. Of the 10 cats in need of new homes, 2 have been placed and seem to be doing well in their new situation (a friend of a friend took them both). But that leaves 8, and I had promised the person I'm renting a room from that they'd be re-homed by the first of the year. I don't think I counted on (a) people having their minds on other things during the holidays and (b) my own slacking off on the "job" due, very probably, to needing them around as my holiday emotional support system.

But the holidays are over, and I have to keep my promise, however much it hurts. So if y'all can send your SoCal friends to my blog post on the subject, I'd really appreciate it.

On other topics, sending the healing mojo to all in need of it, along with good wishes for successful surgery and/or quick and easy healing from same, as appropriate.

Also, I spent some time, while waiting for my brakes to be repaired, sketching out the first few sections of my book about surviving the foreclosure process. Fingers are crossed that I can actually pull it off, rather than half-starting and then letting it die on the vine like every other literary effort I've started...

#553 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 01:49 PM:

Kip W @551 asks 'what's the kneejerk reflex in other lands when somebody says "USA"?'

1. Mission Accomplished!
2. You're fired!
3. Would you like fries with that?

#554 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 03:30 PM:

Earl Cooley @ #553:

4. Leeeeerooooooyyy Jennnnnkins!!

#555 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 03:59 PM:

Steve C. @546: That was one hell of a thunderstorm, no doubt. At any rate, we need the rain.

#556 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 04:10 PM:

I salvaged a nice drafting table left out by the dumpsters. Adjustable height and tilt. Sturdy and clean.

I am deeply conflicted about what to do with it.

I could easily donate it, or freecycle it, or maybe even sell it.

On the other hand . . . a drafting table! I could sketch out RPG maps on it, work on model airplanes on it.

On the other, other hand . . . it takes up room. The legs don't collapse flat. I'd probably have to ditch the crummy foam futon-thing in my spare room.

#557 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 05:05 PM:

tl;dr—I'm brain-dead today and don't have the intelligence to pare this down.

Okay, reporting in after my second weekend after this whole housecleaning conversation got started, and I can report surprising and gratifying success. I did wind up putting off most "major" weekend chores until Sunday, as is my wont, but even so, my baseline was good enough that I actually got all but one of the crucial items handled, and in excellent time, as well.

The suggestions that have been the most helpful:

Doing little stuff along the way, instead of letting it accumulate into a big thing, then standing back and feeling satisfaction at the tidy result. Prime example: I not only managed to hit the weekend with the dishes clean and put away, but hit Monday likewise. Yay!! I find myself becoming less tolerant of random clutter bits, which is comfortably reinforcing the habit. Mentally budgeting a half-hour a day for maintenance tasks also reinforces this nicely.

"Clean enough" is more plausible now, since I have more confidence I will get around to handling it thoroughly in due course. Interestingly, my spoons budget seems to have increased slightly as a result of the above. (Only a tentative assessment; I was also on the upside of the bipolar cycle this weekend.)

Other people pointing out the "save it up / work until you drop" pitfall was also helpful. I'd been aware somewhat subliminally of this problem, but it always help make it real to hear somebody else talk about it.

I finally broke down and just recycled the phone books. I've only ever used them for the white pages anyway, and nowadays it seems that any book only has, like, half of all listings in it, and it's innevitably not the half I need. So: feh.

Elliott Mason @452: sorting loads of laundry into baskets, upstairs, is much much much 'easier' than putting away a huge, randomly mixed load of tiny kid clothes.

Ah! Perfect application for a trick I ran across over on UFYH: buy enough lingerie bags for all your categories of "little stuff" (in my case, at the moment, socks and underwear). Deploy them, so that the dirty items go into the appropriate bag instead of into the hamper. (In my case, I made a fancy, multi-hook hanger, so the bags hang by their loops right next to the hamper.) Then, when it's time for laundry, just zip or cinch shut the bags, and heave them in with the rest of the load. Run laundry as usual. The small items come out pre-sorted!

I tried this for the first time yesterday, and it works like gangbusters. I just hang the shirts, fold the towels, unzip the bags and pour the contents into the appropriate portion of the dresser drawer. (Fold underwear? Sorry, that's definitely a life-is-too-short issue. ;-> ) Cut total landry-folding time by about 75%, with no increased management overhead. Completely eliminates any sorting time on the input side. This might also serve as a virtual increase to your finite hamper supply.

@453: If certain tasks that have to happen early in a chain

One of the disadvantages of living alone: the guinea pigs are great at making dirty laundry; cleaning, not so much.

I've actually discovered that an effective obstacle to getting stuff done is to get anal about conditional tasks. "I should sort newspaper before I clean the pigs. But I should sweep the floor before I sort the newspaper. Oh, but I wait to take the trash out so it can go out with the newspaper...."

All of a sudden, a five-spoon task turns into a thirty-five spoon task, and none of it gets done. I've learned to just do the smaller tasks independently, even if would be more "efficient" to do them in a certain sequence.

Ginger @461: Now I have way too many unmatched socks

I borrowed my dad's hack for that: all of my socks are identical black knee-socks. Which is also why I can get away with just dumping the contents of the sock bag into the drawer.

(That was one advantage of living with ferrets; you always know where to look for lost socks.)

Caroline @480: "Fold all of this laundry," and when the task breakdown is "Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold. Fold…" -- then the payoff from each individual task disappears for me.

I deal with this by making the folding of the whole batch into one, long, rhythmic motion. Getting momentum and the rhythm of it is important. Then I just turn my visual attention off and listen to music or something while I'm doing the "dance." Then, when I get to the end of the task, I turn my eyes back on and: "Shiny! Clean!" Debbie's 162 comes in very useful here. I find that once I turn my hands loose to operate on their own, I will often spontaneously find a more efficient method of doing [X], just because the motion feels nicer.

Thena @498: Hope you feel better soon!

Dave Bell @515: In his last podcast, Spider Robinson reported that he'd gone through that surgery on one eye, had the other scheduled for later in the year. Yay! Vision!

#558 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 05:10 PM:

Okay, that was so successful, I want to run another question past you guys:

If you a night person, how the hell do you reliably get up on time to go to work?

I'm supposed to be in the office by 8, and it's a brutal struggle. All the literature suggests getting up regularly on the weekends at the time you want to get up during the week, but I haven't been able to make that work for me.


#559 ::: JM ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Jacque @558: I have no advice for you but will be watching replies with interest. This semester, which began today for us, I begin teaching at 7:30, which means catching the 6:30 bus, which is a rude shock after last semester's afternoon classes and three weeks of winter break.

#560 ::: vee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 06:07 PM:

Jacque @558: I've always been a night person, mostly because I preferred the quiet hours of everyone having gone to bed to get stuff done. With the company of other night owls, of course.

Then I started getting up at 5:30 AM, to get to work at 7 AM. "Brutal" sounds awfully familiar.

My best trick so far has been to shut the computer down, which helps shut my brain down, and starts me on my nighttime routine. This needs to get done a full 90 minutes ahead of the time at which I need to be asleep, which means it includes the time I need to fall asleep. Having gotten enough sleep helps make the waking-up go more smoothly. As does my husband's trick of having a bare bulb RIGHT NEXT TO OUR HEADS turn itself on at 5 AM.

Also, not to be discouraging, but getting up at 5:30 AM hasn't changed the fact that my best hours for getting work done are from the hours of about 6-10pm....

#561 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 06:32 PM:

Jacque @ 558:

You may want to look up Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. If talking to a doctor is a possibility for you, then you might want to discuss your sleep patterns with him or her.

My first thought, based on my own experience, was to experiment with waking up at a more optimal point in your sleep cycle. Your alarm might be consistently hitting at a time when you're deeply asleep. If you can shift it to a time when you're only lightly asleep -- which might be just a few minutes earlier or later -- then waking up might be easier.

There is an iPhone app called Sleep Cycle (non-iTunes link) which uses the accelerometer to estimate how much you're moving around during the night, and from that data, extrapolates what stage of sleep you're in. You give it the latest time you can get up, and it awakens you at your "most awake" point within 30 minutes before your set time. I've tried it; its accuracy is variable (and its calibration seemed to be confused by having two people plus cats sleeping in the same bed). But it also only costs 99 cents, so it might be worth a shot if you have an iDevice.

A similar app exists for Android phones, I think.

On the more expensive side, I was given a Zeo system for Christmas. That system doesn't rely on detecting your motion, but uses a headband with three metallic-thread electrodes to measure your brain waves. Not only can you use it to have your alarm go off during a lighter stage of sleep, but you also get gobs and gobs of recorded sleep-stage data, which you can graph and correlate with various factors (like caffeine, alcohol, exercise, looking at a bright screen before bed, etc.) I am a giant nerd so I love it. It does cost $Real Money though ($150 last I checked), so the barriers to experimentation are higher.

My second thought was to try and shift your circadian rhythm a little bit, by using a light panel of the kind generally used to treat SAD. I have a small one (the brand is Zadro Sunlight 365) that was under $50. (Most such light panels are up closer to $100-$200+.) I have tried setting my alarm for an hour or a half-hour before I need to get up, then turning on the light panel to its brightest setting and just letting it shine at my closed eyes. For SAD-treatment purposes your eyes are supposed to be open, but for purposes of just convincing my brain that it's actually morning, the light filtering through closed eyelids seems to work fairly well.

Good luck. It's something I'm still figuring out myself, obviously.

#562 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 06:46 PM:

Jacque at 558:
I am a believer in the snooze button, I set my alarm way early and wake up gradually that way.

#563 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 07:30 PM:

My wife does the same thing, which is really annoying for me when I get to bed late enough that her alarm cycle starts up before I've fallen asleep.

#564 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 07:43 PM:

Kip W @551 said: So, what's the kneejerk reflex in other lands when somebody says "USA"?

I don't know, but when I was in Edinburgh for a family wedding and I told people I was from Chicago, the two responses I got (about coequally often) were, "Oh, Michael Jordan!" and "Al Capone!" That latter sometimes with a two-handed gatling-gun sort of gesture and rat-a-tat-tats. It's a fair cop, I suppose. Bootlegging (Al and his buddies and enemies) really is woven through the fabric of the stories of the city, or at least the parts of it that were around then, and MJ was apparently a global phenomenon. My grandfather (who had international business contacts and traveled to China every several years) was relieved when MJ added himself to the rotation, because "Al Capone!" over and over gets old, especially when you grew up in Atlantic City as he did. :->

Jacque @557 suggested getting myriad 'lingerie' bags to put small small rings into before laundering, so they come out collated neatly. That seems very attractive to me, but attractive in a way I have trained myself to be suspicious of -- "If only I bought X, I could be REALLY ORGANIZED!" has led me down garden paths before. I do think it's a good idea, I just need to find a nice cheap 5-pack of lingerie bags or something at a price I can justify, because it'll take several -- one for Grownup Underwear, one for kid underwear-and-socks, one for grownup socks, at minimum, plus maybe some to subdivide the kid laundry by garment type -- and they need to be big enough to take a week's [or 1.5, or 2 weeks] worth of their category. Color me fascinated, though.

Jacque @558 asked: If you a night person, how the hell do you reliably get up on time to go to work? I'm supposed to be in the office by 8, and it's a brutal struggle.

My advice should perhaps be regarded with pinches of salt, because, although I didn't USE to be a morning person, having a summer job where I had to be there at 5AM 3-5 times a week kind of made me one and reset my most-productive-time-of-day. Which doesn't mean I don't stay up way too late anyway, it just means I now have an inbuilt 'pop awake' earlyish, which was reinforced strongly by the kid screaming me out of bed no later than 8:30 for over 2 years. I find it very difficult to sleep late on purpose, anymore; I have to get up, eat, do something, and go back for a nap if I'm tired after all that.

SO, that was a long disclaimer. :-> How I manage to do it is, in general terms, gradually tell my hindbrain that it needs to START waking up an experimentally-determined time before it really NEEDS to be up. In my case, I have a clock-radio with two 'alarm' settings, and I have the first one set to about 45min before I need to get up, to our local NPR station, at a reasonable quiet-listening volume. This means there are (virtual) people in the room talking about interesting things that engage me, which gradually teases my curiosity into starting my wakeup bootstrap. Then I set the BEEP BEEP BEEP alarm for 10min before I need to get my body vertical, and by the time it goes off, I've been 'primed', so to speak. Additionally, since starting to suspect I'm seasonally affected, I have a spotlight lamp aimed at my pillow that turns on at 'sunrise,' which is a constant 5:30AM (value arrived at by experimentation to find one that produces the desired physiological/psychological results in me), which has a similar bootstrapping effect on my wake cycle.

Some days, when I'm well-rested (HAH LIKE THAT HAPPENS ANYMORE, oh hai toddler), I actually wake up somewhere in the NPR-playing-but-no-alarm-yet period and listen to the radio; most of the time the words just sneak into my dreams in ways that are either amusing or disturbing after the fact.

I don't know whether a visual, auditory, scent (I have a friend who has their automated coffeemaker brew itself at a given time and the smell helps wake her up), or other signal would be best for you, but it will hopefully at least be a fruitful area of experimentation. I had to try for a while to find a signal and a time-delay that worked best for me (music really doesn't do it, in my case, it helps me sleep; and starting it either 'too late' or 'too early' are both counterproductive).

When I was waking up for my be-there-at-5AM job, I also had a little just-before-sleep routine of lying in bed, carefully relaxing every muscle I could find (with a meditation thing I was taught in grade school by a counselor), and firmly telling myself over and over, "It is bedtime. I am going to go to sleep, sleep deeply and well, and get up at [time] ready to face the day." Placebo, probably, but it appeared to help at the time.

#565 ::: Throwmearope ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 08:45 PM:

@Jacque #558.

Easy answer this time. Breakfast on the porch. At 7 am every am. EVERY am. Sunlight on the retina, but don't stare at the sun, just be out in it. Will help reset the pineal gland and turn you into a morning person.

Downside--you're a morning person. Upside--you get to keep your job.

#566 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 09:07 PM:

Jacque @ 558

I'm in much the same boat, but a couple things I have noticed:

1. If I'm trying to get up because it's virtuous to do so, I will fail. If I have to get up because I need to do something else before I go to work, it's much easier to drag myself out of bed at hell o'suck in the morning. So basically, I can be on time for the second important scheduled thing each morning....

2. I do much better at getting up in summer, when the sun is shining in my windows. If I have to be up early, I make it a point to watch the sunrise, or go outside for a few minutes. Also, the lights in my bathroom are appallingly overbright. (Similar to the idea of light panels, they do have sunrise alarm clocks, which I have been generally coveting but have not purchased, as the effective ones seem to be outside my budget.)

For myself, I find that general sleep hygiene stuff is helpful, but doesn't replace the simple habit of just consistently waking up early, at the same time, without fail.

#567 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 09:34 PM:

KayTei @566: In an attempt to see if I needed a sunrise alarm clock (i.e. would it even help), I got a small halogen spotlight reading lamp from IKEA and plugged it into a light-timer to go on at 5:30 and off at 10AM.

Works a charm, and I still haven't bought anything more 'purpose-built' than that.

#568 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:32 PM:

If you have trouble getting sleepy enough to go to bed, a small free thing that might help is f.lux. It changes the color temperature of your monitor from blue-toned to amber-toned at sunset, as a corollary of the theory that blue light helps you wake up. I haven't noticed much difference in sleep pattern, but then I never had much trouble falling asleep. I have found, however, that I now get fewer headaches and eye-aches, and generally feel less cranky in the evening.

#569 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:40 PM:

Home safely from GAFilk, where I had a wonderful time. There was significant chatting with Fragano and his lovely wife, and with Patrick & Teresa & Elise, who were there as guests of the con. And I won the auction for the one-of-a-kind CD of their concert, and got it autographed! (gloat, gloat)

Elliott, #564: Jacque made a nice artistic multi-hook hanger for her sorting-bags. For those less artistically inclined, a multi-hook hanger of the sort intended for holding neckties or scarves would probably work well.

#570 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 09, 2012, 10:55 PM:

Throwmearope @565: If only.

Sunrise: 8:38
Sunset: 16:49

(best part of current commute - I'm *not* travelling into the sun for 15 minutes a day each way for two months. Also, I can thank Mr. Bush for one thing - now the sun has time to go completely down at commute time before going ahead an hour, so I don't have "ah, I can see" for two days and then it's right in eye level for another three weeks)

I have, however, invested in "daylight" CFLs that go in "places when I'm awake" lights. Including my bedroom main light, but *not* my "go to bed reading" lights.

Alarm goes off, get up (it's deliberately too far away to reach without actually getting out of bed), hit snooze, flip on "day" light. Go back to bed - it still helps.

Very important - do not turn on said light after about 1900.

#571 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 12:58 AM:

Jacque @ 558:

1. Cup of green or white tea next to the first alarm, where the tea is pleasantly drinkable*. The 2nd alarm is set for 25 minutes later, before which the caffeine and hydration has usually kicked in, pushing me awake and towards the...

2. inexpensive massage chair/cushion in the other room, with charged cellphone & reading glasses next to it, inviting me to sit down and read some headlines. It has a built-in timer of 15 minutes, and being upright for that long helps me shake off sleepiness and ease into thinking about the day.

* green or white doesn't get tannically bitter overnight.

#572 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 01:06 AM:

Locally, one thing that gets me out of bed is hearing the littlest one go downstairs and open the fridge. The next sound is likely to be a large yogurt container being removed and possibly dropped.

(or, he ignores the fridge, finds the ipad, and I hear ang birdies, or more surreally one morning, arlo guthrie singing the motorsicle song)

Overall, I don't recommend kids as a way to sleep better. 7 years on, and I'm still in sleep deprivation mode.

#573 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:34 AM:

Kathryn @571 has reminded me of another, low-down-dirty way I've ensured my early awakening when I desperately need to (and know I'll have trouble) -- drink a large tumbler of water right before laying me down to sleep.

I may not be very FUNCTIONAL, but I find I get myself to the bathroom to let it back out again quite consistently, and can attempt to shove myself further awake when I'm sitting in there taking care of it.

Rule 1: Do not go back to the nice warm bed, it is a lying tarpit of oversleeping-ness.

#574 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 08:48 AM:

Total vet visit fail this morning.

Two cats, Ada and June. Ada does not mind getting into her carrier (in fact, she's asleep in it now), and is pretty good at the vet (yowls dramatically but does not fight), but panicks in the car to the point of losing bowel control and vomiting. June handles the car with a minimum of trouble, but goes into kill-or-be-killed mode when at the vet.

Today I discovered that June now also goes into kill-or-be-killed mode when I try to put her in the carrier. Like, completely uncontrollable, flailing biting clearly terrified for her life mode.

She isn't holding a grudge -- she's in my lap now -- but the carrier is Not Happening.

I called the vet. They recommended letting her chill out and trying again, or possibly rescheduling.

I'm seriously considering calling a local house-call vet. Our vet is great, and I hate to go elsewhere, but this is so much stress for the kitties.

And for me. I'm still shaky an hour later.

#575 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 10:32 AM:

Elliott @ 567

Thanks. It's useful to be reminded that simple solutions also work.

When I was single (and young, and less concerned about things like vision and hearing loss), I used to set my alarm to ear-shattering levels and flick on a bright light as soon as it went off; between the adrenaline rush from the sudden burst of noise, and the sudden brightness of the room, I could pretty reliably get up when I needed to.

It's been a bit harder for me to find considerate, safe ways to wake up, now that I have a partner who sleeps in later than I can, and a baby down the hallway who is all too eager to wake up as early as possible. I had been thinking that a silent alarm, especially one with a gradual onslaught, would be more considerate of my husband, but I just realized that he has an industrial strength eyemask he can use to ignore it, so it doesn't matter how suddenly the light comes on. (In retrospect, obviously just turning on the light isn't the same as my prior shock and awe strategy... Ah, my little brain, how funny you are.)

#576 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 11:45 AM:

Jacque @558 -- you might find the circadian rhythm questionnaire and resulting information interesting and/or useful.

#577 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Caroline @ 574 ...
Two cats, Ada and June. Ada does not mind getting into her carrier (in fact, she's asleep in it now), and is pretty good at the vet (yowls dramatically but does not fight), but panicks in the car to the point of losing bowel control and vomiting. June handles the car with a minimum of trouble, but goes into kill-or-be-killed mode when at the vet.

One of my cats howls miserably from when he's first put into the carrier until he's let out of it. It's not bad in a car or cab, but it's a guarantee of a lot of suspicious and/or annoyed looks on public transit, and a desire to sink through the floor or turn invisible.

Today I discovered that June now also goes into kill-or-be-killed mode when I try to put her in the carrier. Like, completely uncontrollable, flailing biting clearly terrified for her life mode.

Do you have any idea why June's suddenly gotten the terrors about her carrier? Any chance that it's some sort of unfortunate smell, or that maybe adding something you've been wearing for comfort smell might help?

This sort of thing would be why the next carrier that I get will have both a front and a top opening -- while I have done the "envelop cat in several layers of toweling and deposit into carrier while carrier is stood on end", it always feels regrettably like trying to stuff a dormouse in a teapot.

At least via the top opening, there's a lot more space to get the cat into the carrier, much as they may hate the carrier -- and there's definitely less stress involved in putting them into a larger opening.

#578 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 12:00 PM:

Idle open-threaded thought this morning while downing my bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast at the local Waffle House....what if part of the reason for the obesity epidemic in this country is simply that there's a lot less smoking? I think that the percentage of Americans who smoke has gone down by nearly half since 1965.

I'm not saying that's the only reason; clearly a more sedentary populace, larger portion sizes, and other factors play a role. But I think the large decline in smoking could be a factor.
It's long been known that nicotine suppresses appetite.

Not that I'm advocating lighting up, of course.

#579 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 12:21 PM:

Caroline, my sympathy.

The first time Cathy and I had to move with a cat, our vet sold us a cardboard carrier and some tranqs. She was getting agitated as we packed stuff up, and when we have her the meds, all they did was make her hyper. It took her all of twenty minutes to tear her way out of the carrier, so for the rest of the trip from Statesboro to Houston we let her come down from the pills and do whatever she wanted. She mostly stayed put, but paraded across the dashboard a few times.

We kept the leash on her, which is good because every time we made a rest stop, she tried to go become part of the shrubbery. When we finally got to my cousin's house in Houston, we were rather tired, and left her in the truck while we decompressed for a while.

On our return, she was gone. She went out the 'wing' window, miraculously not hooking the handle of the leash over the latch. We started going up and down the block, calling and looking for her. My cousin's roommate came along and asked what was up. We said we were looking for a black and white cat about so big and resumed the search. When we came back, the roommate had somehow gotten at least three cats that fit the sketchy description we gave him. "Any of these yours?" They weren't, but I was very impressed.

Finally, it occurred to me that there were shrubs not ten feet away from the truck. Thus I found the leash, and Gretel was on the other end of it. Big relief all around, and much rejoicing that the cat didn't have to be a martyr to our stupidity.

#580 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 12:40 PM:

I am a morning person; I often get up at or even before sunrise. However, even for me, it is noticeably harder to do this in the winter. On Tuesdays I teach a martial arts class at 7 am, so I have to be up at 5:30 am. Some tricks I use to keep to my early schedule:

GO TO BED by 10 pm.
Turn off the computer at least an hour before bedtime; read or (rarely) watch TV before going to sleep.
Make sure the bed is warm. (I have an electric mattress pad.) My house is cold; a warm bed helps me fall asleep swiftly. YMMV.
If I stayed up past 10 pm, and think I may have trouble rising, I set an unpleasant beeping alarm and place it on the other side of my bedroom from my bed, so that to turn it off I have to get out of bed and cross the room.

On housekeeping: there are chores I just have trouble with; for example, I sometimes procrastinate about vacuuming the living room, where I have an area rug. I have discovered a way to make myself do it. I have a dog who sheds copiously. When I use the Furminator to brush him, which I must do often, I do it in the living room, not outside in the back yard. This forces me to vacuum immediately!!

#581 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Caroline, #574: Will she let you pill her? My second cat, Mina, absolutely freaked out about going to the vet, so what I used to do was take Genevieve for her appointment and pick up a kitty trank, then schedule Mina's appointment for the next convenient time. Getting the trank down Mina an hour or so beforehand was challenging but not impossible, and it made going to the vet much less of an ordeal for everyone.

Steve C., #528: Unfortunately for your hypothesis, smokers have never been a majority population in America. Correlation is not causation. :-)

#582 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 01:58 PM:

re: getting up early

(This may be a duplicate post if the first one with the error message was still in transit when I checked the site.)

I'm not sure I count as a non-morning person since I do seem to gravitate towards mornings as long as there's no technology around to mess me up. But after I moved and started taking an early train that required me to be out of bed at 6am I did start strategizing ways to make it less painful. The one that helps most (but is hardest to stick to) is an absolute rule that I must be in (or at least go to) bed at 10pm sharp. To this end, my computer has an automatic sleep command scheduled for 10pm, so I have to actively override it to keep working.

The other most useful thing isn't so much a "getting up" strategy as a "sleeping as long as possible" strategy. Before bedtime (ideally, well before bedtime) I have my work bag packed and ready to go (including fresh gym clothes) and my clothing laid out. In a pinch, I can get from sound asleep to walking out the door in less than 10 minutes.

I've been thinking of getting one of those timed daylight-lamps to see if it will help as well, but I haven't found one I like yet.

#583 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:06 PM:

HLN: Area household gets first request for a showing on their (old, for-sale) house in over a year on the market; and there was much rejoicing; also, the unemployed half of the marriage just got a line on a starts-very-part-time job that has the potential to get bigger if everyone involved finds it to work out. Cue MOAR REJOICING, I think.

Current plan involves moving substantially to 'new' house by end of this month; wish us luck. For more details and flailing on exactly what's up at Maison Mason lately, see my blogpost of today.

#584 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:26 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 583... When are you planning to eat Sir Robin's minstrels?

#585 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:26 PM:

xeger @ 557: Do you have any idea why June's suddenly gotten the terrors about her carrier?

It doesn't seem to be the carrier itself, but being put into it. She didn't panic until I tried to stick her inside.

I suspect she's flashing back to how panicked she was at the last vet visit. It was just a routine checkup, but clearly that was traumatic enough for her. She was shaking the whole time and fought like she genuinely believed she was going to die if she didn't get away.

She seems to be a very high-anxiety cat in general, and the anxiety seems to be getting worse with age. Poor little girlcat. As a person with anxiety disorder, I sympathize.

At least one carrier usually lives out in the living room (Ada will hang out in there, but June generally won't). They're mesh-sided cat duffel bags that zip open in the front and on the top. They have removable carpet floors. I put folded-up old towels on top of the carpet. So they should smell reasonably familiar.

Once I gave up trying to put June in the carrier this morning, and after a few minutes of soothing lap time and petting, she sniffed thoroughly around both carriers and even tentatively walked halfway in on her own. She was clearly tensed to fight or run (and I'd already called the vet to say "This ain't happening") so I didn't press my advantage.

I inquired about tranquilizers on the phone with the vet. They said using any this morning would likely not help, since she's already panicked. Maybe used pre-emptively on another day, it would work.

I still feel like now might be a good time to try out a vet that comes to us, though.

#586 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:45 PM:

vee @560 getting up at 5:30 AM hasn't changed the fact that my best hours for getting work done are from the hours of about 6-10pm....

Sing it, sibling! My mind shakes itself awake and starts looking for projects to start right around 10pm, right about the time I'm supposed to go to bed. I feel like I'm leaving the party just as it's starting to get good. This is deeply and profoundly frustrating. My optimal sleep cycle generally runs 4am to noon. Far more civilized, IMHO. A lot of my identity is tied into being a night person, unfortunately, and a lot of my fight is against being "forced" to "comply" with "society." (I've worked a couple of second-shift jobs, and that was a lot easier on my system. Not an option in my current situation, however.)

Couple of clarifications:

I don't actually use an alarm, because I can generally wake up when I need to just by deciding to. (On the occassions when I do use one, it innevitably hits me in the wrong part of my sleep cycle.) The Sleep Cycle iPhone app Caroline @561 mentions sounds really interesting, except that I can't afford an iPhone. I tried a Sunrise Clock some years ago; didn't help noticeably. The Zeo system sounds really interesting, too, and possibly more affordable.

I tried a cd-player-alarm, on the theory that waking up to music chosen be me would by more pleasant. Basically, being woken up by any noise (the spin-up of the CD, frex) is incredibly painful, and results in a KILL IT! KILL IT! KILL IT! reaction. So I wake up right before the CD is scheduled to turn on. (Or never really fall asleep in the first place.) And then turn the alarm off. And then roll over for "five more minutes." (Similar issues with using a timer to turn on a lamp; the click of the timer switching is like getting jabbed in the ribs with an ice-pick, so that basically works once, and then I rip it out of the wall.)

The struggle then is to actually drag my carcass out of bed at that point; "pulling teeth" is an apt metaphor. Without anesthesia. Basically, the anxiety of being (too) late to work has to overcome the discomfort of waking up.

I do slightly less badly, getting up in the summer, when the sun is already up. But two things degrade light as an effective signal: As a teenager, and then for a long time as a young adult, I would doze off in exhaustion in the evening with the room light on, and then drag myself up somewhile later to turn it off. (I finally got a bed-side lamp within easy reach, so finally defeated that tendancy.)

Also, my optimal sleeping period is 4am-Noon, and I sleep most soundly starting at about 8am. Daylight not Zathras wake-up signal.

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

I'm almost certain this one applies to me, although I have issues with it being characterized as a "disorder." Also, a quick Google suggests that the DSPS phase-shift is 2 hours. In my case, it's more like 6.

Elliott Mason @564 "If only I bought X, I could be REALLY ORGANIZED!"

Mwa-ha. :-)

I don't know whether a visual, auditory, scent (I have a friend who has their automated coffeemaker brew itself at a given time and the smell helps wake her up), or other signal would be best for you, but it will hopefully at least be a fruitful area of experimentation.

I was just thinking about this on the way in this morning. My dad actually invented the timer-activated coffee pot, back in the '60s or '70s. Rejiggered an alarm clock to drive the switch on the power cord for an old perk-style electric coffee pot. I now suspect I got my night-owl tendencies from him. I remember walking past his bedroom door in the morning, looking in to see him sitting on the edge of the bed, sipping coffee. You could almost hear the gears grinding as his brain struggled to start up. (Too bad he didn't think to patent it; I'd be an heiress, and would be properly above all this getting-up-on-time nonsense.)

KayTei @566: If I have to get up because I need to do something else before I go to work, it's much easier to drag myself out of bed at hell o'suck in the morning.

Years ago, I actually found an introductory Tai Chi class (Social! Exercise! Outside!) at the right time to do before work, and that was very effective. Unfortunately, it was only a two-week intro class, and I haven't found a replacement for it. (Also, I'm poor these days, so I doubt I could afford one even if I found it.)

general sleep hygiene stuff is helpful, but doesn't replace the simple habit of just consistently waking up early, at the same time, without fail.

In all the research I've done, this is the one consistent recommendation. I've been trying (and failing utterly) to implement this for about three years now, so I seem to be missing some crucial piece that has to go in first.

shadowsong @568: If you have trouble getting sleepy enough to go to bed, a small free thing that might help is f.lux.

This might be worth looking into. "Getting sleepy enough" isn't really the issue; marching my carcass off to bed is. :-)

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @571: inexpensive massage chair/cushion in the other room, with charged cellphone & reading glasses next to it, inviting me to sit down and read some headlines.

Oh, now, this has potential. I've been wanting to re-implement my morning pages practice for a while now, but getting out into the living room and excavating the journal out from under the pastels boxes has proven to be too steep a speed bump. And besides which, if I show my person, I am then required (in the most strenuous terms) to minister to the guinea pigs.

If I put a back-jack next to my futon, with a little table containing a coffee maker charged with tea, with maybe a wee nosh, plus a bedside lamp, and have the journal right there to pick up and write in ... and I've got everything but the coffee maker. Oh, this definitely looks promising. And that might be smooth enough to do every day. I could easily see my brain becoming conditioned to Start Thinking (it already does that to a large extent) About Journalling at the same time every day.

On days when I want to sleep in, maybe do the get-up-and-journal routine, followed by piggy breakfast, and then go back to bed. Oh! New toy! Thank you!

Elliott Mason @ 573: drink a large tumbler of water right before laying me down to sleep.

Heh. I learned about this one from the time Bart Simpson wanted to get up at oh-dark-thirty to commit some nefarious prank.

Lizzy L @580: Make sure the bed is warm. (I have an electric mattress pad.) My house is cold; a warm bed helps me fall asleep swiftly. YMMV.

Ah yes! You know, I keep meaning to get one of these. Added to the list. And I have a timer (unless it comes with one), so bed will be ready and warmed by 10pm.

Heather Rose Jones @582: The one that helps most (but is hardest to stick to) is an absolute rule that I must be in (or at least go to) bed at 10pm sharp.

Yeah, I keep shooting myself in the foot with this one. For one thing, it seems to be impossible for me to correctly callibrate spin-down time, what with getting the pigs fed, me brushed-and-flossed, and generally combobulated. I aim for 10, and finally go down at 11:30 or 12. ::sigh:: And if I make the mistake of looking at a piece of artwork during that time.... ::SIGH::

Elliott Mason @583: Cue MOAR REJOICING

Yay!! Congrats on both points!

#587 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 02:49 PM:

Lee #581, Steve C #578: The temporal correlation is right, but the spatial correlation is wrong: increases in obesity are mostly smaller in places like the West Coast, where smoking rates fell earlier and further. That's true on a county level as well (at least, within Florida it is) and on an individual level: people who are obese are more likely to be smokers.

There is an appetite/smoking link, but it's not strong enough to explain the population trends.

#588 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 03:04 PM:

SteveC, Lee, thomas:

It also totally does not explain childhood obesity.

#589 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 03:13 PM:

Oh, I'm not saying that the decline in smoking is the primary factor, or even a major one. It would be hard to tease out in studies, but I do think it's possible that it contributes.

#590 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Debbie @576: circadian rhythm questionnaire

Freakin' perfect: "This questionnaire is not designed for people with your type of sleep cycle."

::SIGH:: :-)

#591 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 03:33 PM:

Jacque @586:
If you have issues with random noises while asleep, the noise of a drip coffeepot is something you are likely to absolutely hate.

WRT DSPS, 2 hours is common but far from the only possibility. Also, there can be interactions with other sleep syndromes.

#592 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Desperation time in SydWorld (and oh how I wish I wasn't in that mode every time I post here...I'm getting tired of it, as no doubt many of the rest of you are as well):

Cat Friendly Friend of Friend has let me know that my unofficial grace period for re-homing the majority of my cats is about to run out (January 19, to be exact; it was to have been the first of the year, but CFFoF didn't push the issue, realizing I needed time to decompress from the move and assuming--correctly, I think--that having the cats through the holiday season would be of help in that regard).

This, coupled with my finding out yesterday that I'm out of unemployment benefits and therefore don't qualify for any kind of extension, made yesterday almost as much fun as moving day was. 0_o

So, dear Fluorospherians who may be local to Los Angeles, or have friends etc. who are, please pass along the link to my blog with kitteh pix and bios for adoption consideration. If I have to take them to a regular shelter or the pound...well, I'd rather not think about the possible outcome of that.

Thank you for being here, and for still letting me hang around.

#593 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Syd @592, wish I could offer more tangible assistance than best wishes, but I'm on the wrong coast. You have the wishes, anyway.

#594 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 04:08 PM:

Thank you, OtterB--I'll take all the help I can get. :)

#595 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 04:10 PM:

Jacque @590 -- Congratulations, you're unique? Sari :(

#596 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 04:48 PM:

Jacque, you could probably get around the click of a timer plug with a sufficiently long extension cord. I don't wake to small noises-- we have two cats and live by the train tracks, plus there's that 'we'-- but I do train myself to wake to significant ones pretty quickly. My cell phone alarm was set to vibrate, for example, and I used to wake up at the click of my old-fashioned alarm clock, which would otherwise RINGGGGG. These days, I usually wake up a bit before six-thirty, roll over and snooze... and relish Saturdays, when I can sleep in until decadent nine.

#597 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Syd, posted on my Fb page yesterday. No takers so far--everyone has enough/too many cats already, or is allergic.

But I'm trying.

Will add a note of urgency to encourage others to post along.

#598 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 05:23 PM:


Sympathies. Thinking of you. Wish I could magic up some new kitty owners.

#599 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 05:31 PM:

My niece found this.

The English and how she is spoke

If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world.

#600 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 05:58 PM:

According to whose definition of "correctly"?

#601 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 06:01 PM:

Syd: appears to be headquartered in LA, and specializes in pet owners dealing with foreclosure, and has a shelter search feature. has a list of shelters in California. The Google search string los angeles cat rescue groups produces useful-looking results.

Good luck. I'm praying for you.

geekosaur @591: If you have issues with random noises while asleep, the noise of a drip coffeepot is something you are likely to absolutely hate.

Probably. But maybe the prospect of fresh hot tea within easy reach will mitigate this? Maybe?

#602 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 06:02 PM:

Caroline at 585: I don't use a vet who comes to the house now, but some decades ago, when I had no car and no way to get the cat to the vet, I did. It was expensive, but worth doing, and the particular vet I chose was terrific. Just luck. But it made me feel better about the whole thing.

#603 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 08:28 PM:

Interesting info from a 1979 American parenting text; a blogger listed a checklist of twelve items to see if your kid was ready for full-day first grade (getting 10 or so 'yes'es was considered a pass).

The two items that surprised me as being radically different from today's 'readiness' standards are:

1. Will your child be six years, six months or older when he begins first grade and starts receiving reading instruction?

In Chicago at the moment, the current hard age rule (meaning it's a massive pain to appeal it, and you will likely be turned down) is that the kid has to turn six by mid-November of the school year in question, meaning a lot of kids are five on the first day.

8. Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend's home?

I'm seriously free-range in philosophy, but I can tell you in a lot of places in the US allowing your 6-year-old to go four blocks from your house unattended can lead to them being brought back by a policeman, and possibly with the parents being reported to Child Protective Services.

I, personally, wish it were not so, and intend to give my (currently not-quite-three) daughter all the freedom she can safely handle, but I do fully expect to have to argue with authority figures over my right to do so.

Also, the closest the list comes to any academic qualification (by today's standards) is: 12. Does your child try to write or copy letters or numbers?

#604 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 08:50 PM:

Melissa Singer @ 597 and Syd @ 598, thank you. Everything helps, even good wishes!

Jacque @ 601, thanks for those suggestions--all my searches never turned up either of the main websites you mentioned, probably because it never occurred to me to link "foreclosure" with "pets". Silly me. I've put up a post on the second one, and the first returned some sites I hadn't found on, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

One of these days, I hope to visit ML and have nothing but good stuff to report. :)

#605 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 09:06 PM:

Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room, if you can, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. At which point you're up and more-or-less awake.

#606 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 10:04 PM:

Jacque @ 586

Me: general sleep hygiene stuff is helpful, but doesn't replace the simple habit of just consistently waking up early, at the same time, without fail.

You: In all the research I've done, this is the one consistent recommendation. I've been trying (and failing utterly) to implement this for about three years now, so I seem to be missing some crucial piece that has to go in first.

Sadly, the only real way I've been able to make this work is by having something more important to do that requires me to be awake that early. Of the two times I've really had this under control, the first was because I had to care for my seriously ill mom before leaving for work, and the second time because my baby daughter decided that 4:30 am was a consistently delicious time to demand breakfast. I can't really recommend either one as a desirable solution to awkward sleep habits.

#607 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 10:20 PM:

...which works great unless you also have non-24-hour sleep disorder :/

#608 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 10:26 PM:

Elliot@603: In Chicago at the moment, the current hard age rule (meaning it's a massive pain to appeal it, and you will likely be turned down) is that the kid has to turn six by mid-November of the school year in question, meaning a lot of kids are five on the first day.

In Florida when I was starting first grade (considerably longer ago than 1979), the rule was that you had to be 6 years old by the end of December. Both my brother and I were 5 years old for almost half our first school year.

#609 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Elliott Mason @603: School systems have been juggling the start "age" for Kindy for quite some time now, which is part of what has led to what's known as "red-shirting," or holding some children (usually boys) back so that they are in fact 6 when they start K. (I also know several children who repeated K.)

That's an interesting list, though. Some are checks for gross motor control and some for fine, while others are about personality, and I can't figure out how teeth figure in . . . .

My dd would only have passed 6 out of the 12.

I'm very free-range, but at 5 or 6, she went _nowhere_ alone. I don't think I did either, actually, growing up in NYC.

That said, I did let her start going places "by herself" earlier than a lot of other parents. People liked to attribute that to my being a single mother, but I liked to think it was because I was teaching her not to be afraid of her world and to think for herself. Sometimes I'd walk her partway to a location, if it was one she knew well, and let her go the rest of the way by herself (starting around 9). She started taking the public bus to school by herself in 4th grade and in 5th I stopped walking her to the bus stop, though I was at that point still crossing The Boulevard of Death with her (12 lanes wide, though divided).

It's all one step at a time and very much depends on your child and the area you live in, as well as what other parents are doing with their kids. It doesn't do your child much good to be allowed to walk to the playground by herself if there are no other kids there to play with.

#610 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 11:36 PM:

Melissa Singer @609: I was 5 for almost all my 1st-grade year, because my mom raised hell in the appeals process to get me in 'early'. My birthday's in March. I was already reading Judy Blume. She saw no reason to keep me stuck in kindergarten for another entire year when I could be moving on ... and then I skipped 8th grade, but that's a whole other weird story. See also 'why I was younger than anyone in my grade for all of high school, whee.'

#611 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2012, 11:55 PM:

KayTei @606, Jacque @586, et al

On the subject of getting up at the right time:

I've tried everything in the book, and it just doesn't work. I'm starting to think that this is because I have an actual sleep disorder. I'm kind of irritated at how much society tries to convince people who can't wake up properly that they're just "doing it wrong," (I'm not saying that's happening in this thread, but it's something I've been told my whole life) and I believe it probably contributes to a significant under-reporting of many sleep-related disorders.

Recently, I discovered delayed sleep-phase syndrome. I don't have a formal diagnosis, but a friend sent me an article about it a few months ago, and I almost laughed at loud at how aptly it described me and my problem.

From Wikipedia:

Attempting to force oneself onto daytime society's schedule with DSPS has been compared to constantly living with 6 hours of jet lag; the disorder has, in fact, been referred to as "social jet lag". Often, sufferers manage only a few hours sleep a night during the working week, then compensate by sleeping until the afternoon on weekends. Sleeping in on weekends, and/or taking long naps during the day, may give people with the disorder relief from daytime sleepiness but may also perpetuate the late sleep phase.

People with DSPS can be called extreme night owls. They feel most alert and say they function best and are most creative in the evening and at night. DSPS patients cannot simply force themselves to sleep early. They may toss and turn for hours in bed, and sometimes not sleep at all, before reporting to work or school. Less extreme and more flexible night owls, and indeed morning larks, are within the normal chronotype spectrum.

By the time DSPS patients seek medical help, they usually have tried many times to change their sleeping schedule. Failed tactics to sleep at earlier times may include maintaining proper sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques, early bedtimes, hypnosis, alcohol, sleeping pills, dull reading, and home remedies. DSPS patients who have tried using sedatives at night often report that the medication makes them feel tired or relaxed, but that it fails to induce sleep. They often have asked family members to help wake them in the morning, or they have used several alarm clocks. As the syndrome occurs in childhood and is most common in adolescence, it is often the patient's parents who initiate seeking help, after great difficulty waking their child in time for school.

The above is exactly how I used to describe my sleep schedule to people, before I even knew such a disorder existed.

When left to my own devices, I end up developing a consistent schedule, falling asleep sometime between 3 and 5 am, and waking 8 hours later, feeling rested and awesome. The most rested I've ever felt in my life was when I was working a 9pm to 6am shift at a company that provided 24 hour customer service. I would be tired at 6am (about as tired as, say, a normal person up an hour or so past their bedtime), but the eight hours of sleep I would get were the most satisfying of my life. Sadly, the jobs you can get that are compatible with that sleep schedule are extremely limited. I wish I could just work my normal job and come in at eleven, or noon, or one.

I need to get a sleep study done one of these days, and I mean to do it soon. If you have tried all the most serious techniques without result, I encourage you to do the same. DSPS and the other circadian rhythm sleep disorders are a real thing, and at the very least it may help you feel less guilty about the fact that you just can't seem to get this "waking up early" thing down.

Hopefully, if enough people get diagnosed, we'll raise awareness of this disability, and companies will go to greater lengths to make accommodations for those who have slightly different schedules.

#612 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 01:05 AM:

Melissa, #609: I grew up in a middle-class suburb of Detroit, and we lived in one particular house for roughly the years I was 5-7, which makes a convenient memory marker. I was allowed to walk to and from my school (less than half a mile away, but across a very busy major intersection -- there were crossing guards), and to visit friends and ride my bike within a 3- or 4-block radius. I don't think I was allowed to go to the library (on the way to my school, but across one of those busy streets) by myself until we had moved to the house after that one (although I might have done so on the way home from school), but I could go as far as the near side of the busy street, which was only a couple of blocks away.

Leah, #611: I think I qualify as one of those "less extreme and more flexible night owls"; although I do exhibit several of the symptoms, they're relatively mild and can be overridden by necessity. When I had a regular day job, I did manage to develop a pretty good "it's morning, wake up dammit!" reflex for a long time. Then I got laid off and spent nearly a year working a 3rd-shift temp job, and it played all kinds of hell with my sleep cycles -- there's a significant difference between going to sleep at 4 or 5 AM (when it's still dark) and doing so at 8 AM, plus I spent most of the winter literally never seeing the sun. I think I actually had a case of SAD that winter, although normally that isn't a problem for me, and I still remember how the first week after I left that job felt like coming out of a fog.

#613 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 01:28 AM:

Open threadiness: My partner and I got to see the Addams Family musical tonight (a Yulegift to us from his daughter). If you have a chance to see it, I recommend it highly. The libretto is very true to the spirit of the TV show, and includes some lovely current-issues snark* as well, which gives it a bit of a G&S feel. There are 3 different story lines, and each of them has a happy ending. Lurch has been updated -- instead of being a Frankenstein-type monster, he's now a zombie -- and Wednesday is a teenager now, which drives the plot; she's fallen in love and is bringing her intended and his parents home to meet the family. Also, there are some very nice stage effects, including appearances by Thing and Cousin Itt. And there is one absolutely ghodawful pun near the end, which I will not spoil for those who haven't seen it yet. Altogether a delightful evening, well worth dressing up in homage to Morticia for.

* For example:
Alice: "That one thing that everybody needs and so few people have..."
Morticia: "Health care?"

#614 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:45 AM:

me @var: wrt circadian rhythm: Or, I could just, you know, not sleep. At all.


#615 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:47 AM:

Surfing on from abi's Miniature Liquid Worlds produces Aqueous Fluoreau. Which go well with sound sculptures.

#616 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:58 AM:

Lizzy L @602: It was expensive, but worth doing, and the particular vet I chose was terrific. Just luck.

My (also terrific) vet practice will do housecalls for an extra fee. I made use of this service when it was time for Mr. Junior to pass. He was actually remarkably copacetic about going to the vet. But this way, he was able to spend his last moments in pursuit of his beloved girls.

#617 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:58 AM:

Elliott Mason @610: My mom was the opposite of yours, because my mom was _you_--she was skipped twice by 10th grade. She flat-out refused to have her children skipped, even if we were ahead, in elementary school, which I think was a good decision--I was so socially awkward as it was, I can't imagine how bad it would have been if I'd been even _younger_.

However, when most people take 6 years to complete middle school and high school, I only took 5; 7th-9th grades were sort of smushed together into two years at my school. So I turned 17 during college orientation and was a very young 17 at that.

So I hear you. Loud and clear.

Lee @612: I suspect that part of the reason many children in my area were not allowed to go many places on their own is that our neighborhood has several major streets, including one widely known for many years as "The Boulevard of Death" (for good reason--it's anywhere from 12 to 14 lanes wide, with 3 islands). And there were, in those days, nowhere near enough traffic lights.

In fact, a street popularly used at higher-than-permitted speeds only got slowed down about a decade ago, when the city finally put in a traffic light on just about every corner. It was nice not to have to cross at a run with the baby carriage!

#618 ::: SarahS ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 08:50 AM:

re: Kindergarten

We faced this conundrum with my older daughter who is in public school Kindergarten this year. Her birthday is in late September, so the quandary was--start her when she'll be almost 6 or start her when she's not quite 5?

We elected to do the later start for a variety of reasons. 1) She was already in full-day daycare and could do their Kindergarten program and then "repeat" Kindergarten at her new school. (We're lucky to have her in an excellent magnet school where she's sufficiently challenged to make the repeating things not boring for her. 2) We know she's going to be very short, and while being the short, smart, young kid isn't so bad in Kindergarten we worried about it in the Jr. High years. 3) Her pediatrician assured us that everyone in her practice who had kids in the same position was going for a late rather than an early start. (Often, she says, this is because parents around here want their kids to have an "advantage" when it comes to sports.)

I was talking all this over with my Mom, and asked her what she did with my brother who was in the same situation. She said, "Well, you guys were at home with me all day, every day. Of *course* I sent him to school early. He was driving me nuts!!"

So perhaps the later starts we're seeing are because kids are often already in full day day-care and the rush to get them exposed to more kids and more information and all that lovely learning isn't quite as pressing.

#619 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:01 AM:

Elliott Mason @603: 1. Will your child be six years, six months or older when he begins first grade and starts receiving reading instruction?

In Outliers, Malcom Gladwell makes the point that students who excel are consistently the older kids in their age cohort. I was born on Labor Day weekend, so I was as young as you could be for a give grade. I did okay academically, but I really wonder how much this influenced my piss-poor performance in PE.

P J Evans @605: Put the alarm clock on the other side of the room, if you can, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. At which point you're up and more-or-less awake.

Heh. This only works if you're willing to turn the alarm on in the first place. :)

KayTei @606: Sadly, the only real way I've been able to make this work is by having something more important to do that requires me to be awake that early.

I have seriously considered hiring some gentleman with a melifluous voice to phone me at the appropriate hour and chat. (a) Time-bound and (b) social! and (c) hormones! (It's amazing how much inertia can be overcome with hormones!)

geekosaur @607: non-24-hour sleep disorder :/

I've heard that a 25 hour sleep-cycle is pretty common among humans. (E.g., that's what they devolve to if disconnected from terrestrial day/night cycles.) "Normal" people's internal clocks are reset by morning light. This is why jet-lag is generally less pronounced traveling west, and shift-work is less damaging if you work successively later shifts. I've noticed that, left to my own devices, I tend to get up an hour later every day, slowly working my way around the clock.

Leah Miller @611: I'm kind of irritated at how much society tries to convince people who can't wake up properly that they're just "doing it wrong,"

I've been contending for some time now that this needs to be a formally recognized equity issue. The growing recognition that there are different, physiologically-based sleep patterns is at least one step in the right direction. I am grateful to the autism spectrumites who are blazing this trail for us.

Leah Miller @611: Yup. 'Zactly. The section you quote is actually an astonishingly good description of my situation.

I wish I could just work my normal job and come in at eleven, or noon, or one.

I can cope if I can arrive at work even as late as 10am. Particularly in my line of work, I've never understood why this is a problem. ("But what if we need you?" Even when I manage to be consistently on time, people actually come looking for me before ten maybe six times a year. ::GROWL::)

When I was working 2nd shift back in the day, it was isolating, because I had to miss prime-time TV, and it was hard to get to the grocery store during open hours. Also, a nighttime schedule tended to make my colitis kick up. (I've now identified vitamin D deficiency as the culprit.) But nowadays, with teh T00bz, TV and social contact can happen at arbitrarily-chosen times, and 24-hour markets are much more common and, hey! Vitamin pills!

As previously mentioned, I haven't slept worth crap this week. I've arranged to have today off, but at the price of losing one day of my upcoming long weekend. The more I think about this whole business, the more steamed I'm getting.

I have a physical coming up; I'm going to run this question past my doctor. Who knows? Maybe she'll back me up in a pitch to HR to make them let me come in at 10. Or at least freakin' 9, for Ghu's sake. (I had that arrangement in place the first year I worked there; somewhere along the line, it just got presupposed away.)

My only quibble with your recommendation is that I disagree that it's a "disability," any more than homosexuality is. (And the likely result of a sleep study—at least, one done in a sleep lab—is to prove that "Jacque doesn't sleep." Although maybe they've got something like the Zeo system mentioned above that can be used in the subject's home.) But for the purposes of seeking legal recourse, I suppose I could live with being "disabled."

Lee @613: well worth dressing up in homage to Morticia for.

As long as you have a strapping young companion to carry you over puddles and high curbs. Kara Dalkey did a very effective Morticia for a Minn-StF Halloween party one year. Mobility was a signficant issue, given that the dress allows a stride of about six inches.

Guh. It is now 7am local, the sun isn't quite up yet, and I really really want to go crash. Ghoddammit.

Well, at the very least, ya'll have let me know I'm not alone, which helps. Thank you!

#620 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:15 AM:

The DSPS stuff sounds about right for me too. I wonder if there is a preponderance of that type of person in second shift work situations.

#621 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 10:28 AM:

I too have a strong tendency toward alternate sleep scheduling and being off work this week due to the GB surgery I'm having a good fight trying to keep getting up in the morning (so I can be functional when I go back to work next week) instead of letting my body do what it wants to, which is stay up for about 18-19 hours then sleep for 9-10 hours, lather, rinse, repeat. Basic arithmetic indicates that this cycle, while perfectly normal as far as I'm concerned, does not correspond very well to the solar-and-social convention of a twenty-four hour day.

The stretch of time back in 03 when I was both single and long-term-unemployed gave me leeway for sleep cycle experimentation. I apparently function just fine on a cycle where a week is made up of six 28-hour days. But good luck getting my husband and job to accommodate that.

(Current methods of accommodation include bright light and caffeine in the morning, benadryl in the evening, and refraining from doing anything interesting after 8 pm, which really cuts into my creative pursuits...)

#622 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 11:04 AM:

Syd @604: That was me (dcb) briefly disguised as "Syd" @598! - Abi has now fixed that for me before the confusion propagates too far.

I do hope you get good homes for your cats. Glad that Jacques's post got you some new leads.

And hang in there Syd; one of these days you will have only good stuff to report.

#623 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 12:06 PM:

Jacque @619:
There are two circadian rhythms involved; without synchronization, one runs about 24 1/2 to 25 1/2 hours and the other averages about 31 hours (IIRC).

My body's ability to recognize or process the synchronization appears to be defective. :/ This leads to my sleep schedule drifting a lot, and every so often the two cycles collude in such a way that I end up doing wake/sleep to the other rhythm for 2-3 cycles. This appears to be relatively common among people with sleep disorders, as is the tendency to refer to the latter as "Martian time" (even though it's not. Also common among certain groups is to notice the correspondence between actual Martian time and the unsynchronized primary circadian and build odd hypotheses around it...).

Earl Cooley III @620:
Yep. And then there's shift work sleep disorder, which is what happens when someone with a normal sun-synchronized circadian works out of sync with the sun on a regular basis.

#624 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 12:24 PM:

Jacque @619 -- I'm convinced that the reason I think I'm basically a small person (which I also know is Not True) is that I skipped first grade, so I was always one of the smallest in my class. And definitely it affected me for PE. This could lead to an interesting discussion of "What Is School Actually For?" which could look at the different goals of socialization, education, training to obey irrational orders, and the like.

#625 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 12:25 PM:

Lee @ 612... Jacque @ 619...

"The three of you together. Now that's a picture only Charles Addams could draw."

- Cary Grant to James Mason, Eva Marie Saint & Martin Landau in "North by Northwest"

#626 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 12:55 PM:

On School Starting Age:

My brother, the educational statistician, tells me that there is a known, and testable, developmental stage which is necessary to benefit from school and classroom learning. And, for most kids, that point comes around the age of five to six.

He was grumpy about the tendency of British politicans to push for an earlier start to school. He had found, a long time ago, that age withing the cohort was a statistical indicator of academic performance. Later research had picked out this as one of the reasons: the older you were, the more likely you were to be switched on.

It's one of these things which looks a bit like astrology works. A little digging finds that the pattern shifts with the date the school year starts. And then you find something a psychologist can test for and a few years later you have the statistical smoking gun.

It doesn't exclude the problem of being the youngest in the class.

#627 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 12:59 PM:

Jacque, #619: Well, I did say "homage". My dress stretches, being knitted lace; while it doesn't allow me quite a full stride, neither do the shoes I was wearing with it, so it all works out. Also, I'm used to picking up long skirts when climbing stairs after years in the SCA.

Since Morticia has to dance in the stage production, her dress wasn't that tight either -- it was slit up to there and (to quote Gomez) cut down to Venezuela in front.

#628 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 04:07 PM:

Dave Bell @626: My daughter is now the oldest (by 3 months at least) child in her [nominally 2yo-3yo) daycare classroom. This is because of a confluence of factors.

Firstly, the room had a big clump of summer-birthday kids, for no reason except the chaotic nature of the age distribution in the original population (there are only two 2-3yo classrooms at this center, so you get put in whichever one has an opening, and you get clusters).

Second, and because of #1, this summer we had half the class 'age out' and transition upwards within a 3-week span, meaning we got a crop of 8 (total class size: 15) brand-new 24-month-old kids.

Before The Shift, there were 5 kids older than Beka (with birthdays ranging from October to January; she's in February) in the class, some of whom were almost totally in underwear and toilet-trained. The peer pressure of watching them successfully put all their waste straight into the potty with no diapers involved was very motivating for her.

Because I see primarily her at-home behavior and don't spend much time in her classroom, I didn't know about the mass aging-out until suddenly noticing that in a 1-2 week span, she quit showing any interest whatsoever in sitting on the toilet at home, even when asked. By the time I realized it was a phase shift on her part and not just a transient thing, it turned out that every set of parents with a kid older than Beka had petitioned to transfer their kids upwards early, in a horror that they might 'regress' because of the influence of the new younger kids.

Though her room is nominally 24-36months, you can't upshift until you're solidly in underwear (say, 1-2 containment failures in any given week, max). Apparently you can petition to go early if your kid is ALREADY in underwear.

Unfortunately, that means she's had since October of being by far the oldest kid in the class, and has had very, very little interest in toilet use. We've gotten much more proactive about it on our end, because the school pointed out to us that she can't switch rooms on her birthday if she's not diaperless yet ... ARGH.

In daycare, Beka's had a massively positive result from being in the 'younger' half of her classrooms -- she aspires to what the big kids are doing, and makes leaps and bounds jumps in ability because of it. During her stint as 'oldest,' she hasn't exactly regressed (aside from toileting), and she's still learning and doing new things constantly, but "I'm a little baby" and "I can't X, I'm too little!" and so on have become annoyingly common conversational gambits on her part.

When I had a chance to talk to one of the parents of the kids who fled the Infant Invasion, they couched it all in terms that totally assumed that any blip at all in development (I'm sure the kids would have settled back to being thoroughly diaperless in at most a month after Invasion, if they'd been left in the room to resettle themselves) was horrifically damaging and might singlehandedly ruin the kid's chance of getting into Harvard 15 years from now.

I really felt like (but didn't) saying to their face, "Yeah, and because you were selfish and skipped your kid four months early, my kid is going to have to change rooms 2-3 months LATE because without your kid to aspire to, mine is disinterested in toileting. Thanks for smearing your entitlement and achievement-obsession all over my kid's learning environment."

#629 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 04:32 PM:

Elliott Mason #628: Personally, I think the year-by-year crosswise slicing of the population with our school system is a structural problem in our society that will be sneered at a century or two down the line. ( Especially in the younger grades, it really undercuts exactly the sort of leadership and social modeling that you describe.

#630 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 04:55 PM:

Gracie has for the first time balked at going out for a walk. I don't particularly blame her, as it's pouring rain. I'll try again in an hour or so, in hopes that it will have eased up a bit, also I will deploy the her ill-fitting coat. (I need to work on this. Gracie is very narrow-bodied, this coat seems to have its assumptions violated.) She also needs a hat, and probably a outfit more rain-resistant. I am wondering where I shall put all of this. I need to sell some stuff just so I have places to put stuff! A baby step: I just threw out a book. (Damaged -- my boss at the bookstore would have done the same had I brought it in.)

#631 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:01 PM:

geekosaur @623: "Martian time"

I'm firmly convinced that there are far more misincarnated aliens wandering this planet than anyone has recognized. (It's been grossly obvious to me that I'm from Somewhere Else since I was in second grade.)

Dave Bell @626: My brother, the educational statistician, tells me that there is a known, and testable, developmental stage which is necessary to benefit from school and classroom learning.

I've been given to understand that one of the key features of the Montessori school model is that children have to reach a certain physiological stage (with fairly precise behavioral and physical markers) before they're admitted.

#632 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:05 PM:

David Harmon @629: There is good evidence (from Montessori schools, towns too small to age-separate their grades, etc) in educational and psychological studies that having wide ranges of kids interacting socially and academically on a daily basis is good (socially AND academically) for all of the kids involved.

Unfortunately, the current wisdom in 'how to run US schools' is to separate aggressively, putting grades 1-5 in a building marked 'elementary,' grades 6-8 in a building marked 'middle school' or 'junior high', and 9-13 separated as 'high school'. It gets worse, though; the high school my baby sister just graduated from was having an overcrowding (too many kids for the building space) problem, so they split the school -- frosh and sophomores in one building and juniors/seniors in another! I would have thought it would be easier to just split the district into two pull-pools (as it were, have an 'east school' and a 'west school'), but there you are. Apparently they had to run busses back and forth regularly, because kids of various ages were involved in extracurriculars that only had facilities in one building (the pool, certain kinds of athletic fields, auditorium/theatrical stuff, etc).

It is my strong preference to put Beka into a K-8 institution when the time comes, but that may be difficult; k-8 schools are now well under half of the available choices for 1st grade in the Chicago public school system, even ignoring 'is it close enough to get to' and 'are they insanely selective about admissions'.

#633 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:08 PM:

David Harmon @630: If you know anyone who sews, you might be able to barter for a custom dog-coat. They're not difficult to make (very few seams, mostly straight), though patterning one might be an imaginative challenge to someone who usually only clothes plains apes. I would offer, but I'm not near enough to go do the fittings. :-> I know I can buy all the needed materials for a fuzzy-inside, water-repellent-outside dog coat for a largish dog for well under $20.

#634 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:08 PM:

Jacque @631:
Interstellar cuckoos?

#635 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:19 PM:

Re Martian time and out-of-phase sleep. I'm pretty sure somewhere in "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" he talks about a person at the research lab who lived on a 25-hour clock and slowly cycled in and out of phase with the rest of the researchers. He went on to say - the phrase that's in our family lexicon - "This was strange, even for the theoretical division."

#636 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 05:39 PM:

OtterB @635: I know someone through the filk community who works programming the Mars rovers. He wears two watches -- one ordinary, set to whatever timezone he's in, and one Martian, set to show local time for the rover on the Martian surface (I forget which one his office set as 'primary' timezone, with the other a small adjustment offset), so he and everyone else on his team can know instantly whether the sun was up on their project or not.

For particularly significant mission segments, the whole team slept on literally a Martian clock, so they were awake and in the office or on call for all hours of sunlight on their rover (well, offset again by the speed-of-light transit time for transmissions).

He found this kind of convenient when -- during times critical enough to keep him on Martian time but uncritical enough he could get a weekend off to do a filk convention -- it meant he could sleep most of the morning/early afternoon and be awake and quite fresh for all the late-night circles.

#637 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 06:17 PM:

David Harmon -

I feel your pain. Ardala is long bodied, deep chested and short-legged. In order to get her raincoat to cover her torso, it drags on the ground. It's also complicated by the fact that she won't wear anything on her head (plus the hood covers her eyes). The sewing machine has been cleaned and repaired. As soon as I have a sewing corner back I'm going to be working on some simple custom dog coats, ones without "sleeves" that she has to be manipulated into.

She hates the rain, but she also hates her raincoat. Last year we just started taking her out with no coat on. She actually peed a little faster instead of just kind of standing there despondently wondering why we were torturing her with the banana costume.

#638 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 06:38 PM:

My dog hates rain and won't go out in anything more than a slight drizzle. We bought him a raincoat, but he hated it worse than rain. He wouldn't even move with the coat on. So we don't have a raincoat anymore. (I'm not sure why he hated it so much. He loves his harness, and it didn't look like the functional parts were all that different.)

Fortunately he is really good at holding it, so just waiting for the rain to lighten up is an acceptable option for everyone involved.

#639 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:40 PM:

I'm much more against splitting up schools by which part of town you live in than by age. This might be because I assume that everyone is split up by age-- I grew up k-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12-- and the situations where I see people split up by geography turn unpleasant, if bearable, fairly quickly. My hometown turned the 5-6 and 7-8 schools into two 5-8 schools, for example, and wouldn't you know, the boundary runs straight down the money and race divide. Likewise, in Iowa City, parents are ready to stab each other's kids to make sure their own go to *this* nationally-ranked school instead of *that* nationally ranked school. I think that getting everyone together into the same school, even if it's divided by age, serves the kids better in terms of getting them to see that other kids exist.

#640 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:45 PM:

I was in one of those small schools for primary school - years 1/2, 3/4/5 and 5/6/7 (plus pre-primary). It worked for the younger years, though having siblings 2 years separate in age in the same class didn't always go down well. With the older years - especially the year 5/6/7 class - it didn't work so well. I was doing the same work in year 5, then in year 6, then... I basically stopped doing work because there was no difference and no challenge, and I took that habit right through high school. I passed fine. I was even still accused of being smart. But I utterly loathed it.

In some ways I was an exception. Other people in the class had no problems with it. But I don’t think being an exception because I wanted to actually learn is necessarily a bad thing. And I know for the younger people it did work as people have mentioned – those in year 5 got to compete with the older folk (and siblings in this case probably made it all the better) and thrived on it. But for the older ones...

The school also, being small, had lots of all-student activities. Maybe they worked? I don’t know. I didn’t really care by that stage. So the school wasn’t a terribly good school to begin with, and maybe as half the fault was with me, mixing it up works better elsewhere.

Sorry, that’s a bit ramble-y and probably doesn’t say what I meant. Hi!

#641 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 07:56 PM:

My irrational objection (as opposed to evidence-based ones) to tiny balkanized-by-age mini-schools is that when one changes schools, one has a tendency to lose large swathes of one's peer group (because they went to a different one). The idea of having to go through that disjunction every other year (rather than 3 times in your academic life -- preschool/K, 8/9, 12/college) gives me the screaming meemies.

Yes, I have abandonment issues. :->

#642 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 08:58 PM:

The one I got was something like 5 years 9 months at the beginning of December.

#643 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:04 PM:

anywhere from 12 to 14 lanes wide, with 3 islands

I'd say that requires pedestrian overpasses. It's way too many lanes to cross on foot - even 6 lanes are a lot for most people to cross.

#644 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:08 PM:

An awe-inspiring video of a unique instrument being played: the Octobass, which lives at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, AZ. The lowest note on it plays at 16Hz, which is outside the usually-accepted range of human hearing (down to 20Hz). It's 12 feet tall.

If I have any reason to be in Phoenix for a weekend, I'm definitely putting the MIM on my mental list of "GO THERE!"

#645 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:17 PM:

Agreeing that the totally drug resistant TB is pretty darned scary. Do you think they'll find a new class of drugs to deal with it?

#646 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 09:17 PM:

The school district I grew up in used geographical location, but because it had (at that time) three junior highs and two high schools, the junior high I went to (and maybe one of the others) had its population split on leaving. It wasn't as traumatic as it might have been, because there had been a smaller split on moving into junior high (at that time, limited to 7th and 8th grades).
(It means that I know people from both schools, though. I hope that at some point we'll have a joint reunion....)

#647 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 10:21 PM:

Tom Whitmore @645.

There's a couple of new classes of drugs currently in clinical trials, that work by new mechanisms and haven't shown any sign of cross-resistance with existing drugs at least in lab studies. No-one's tried them on TDR-TB yet, so we don't know if they will work there.

I assume there are labs looking at this already.

#648 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 10:51 PM:

P J Evans #643:

No room for overpasses. When my daughter had outgrown the stroller but wasn't yet swift enough to make it across in one shot and was afraid to stand on the skinnier islands (they are scary), we'd use the subway stations to cross. And when she first started to cross on her own, she went underground.

I grew up 2 blocks from the 16-lane intersection cited in the Wikipedia article.

Regarding schools: how many people attended your (or your children's) elementary, middle, and high schools?

I don't know how big my elementary school was, but Hunter College High School (which is actually a middle school and a high school combined) was 1,000 students. My class was just under 200 students.

My daughter's elementary and middle schools were all in the 700 student range. Her high school is at about 800, working toward 1,000. Her class is about 125. The local high school we are zoned for has about 3,600 students in a building designed for less than 2,000.

#649 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 10:58 PM:

Martian time is measured in xats and xodes.

#650 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 11:13 PM:

Courtesy Bruce Sterling, a link to a cool story about crowd-sourcing analysis of the TB bacterium:

Which could be a really neat way of speeding up the development of a drug which can whack the new variety.

#651 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 11:17 PM:

Melissa, #648: My school district was large. I don't have exact numbers for my elementary and junior high schools, but I'm guessing the former at 500 or so and the latter at around 1,000. My high school (the new one, built when the original high school just couldn't handle the load any more*) had something like 3,000 students -- my class alone was close to 1,000. Then we moved at the end of my sophomore year, and I ended up in a school with only 300 students in 9-12. Talk about culture shock! My parents wanted me to go to a small (800-person) college, and I flatly refused; I dislike small schools in the same way, and for the same reasons, that I dislike small towns.

* It was a "feeder" system; each elementary school fed into one of 3 junior highs, and originally those had all fed into the same high school. When they built the new school, there was a geographical split; they allowed the rising senior class to all continue on at the old school, but the lower classes got split between the two. My freshman class was the first 4-year graduating class from the new school.

#652 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 11:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 645: Agreeing that the totally drug resistant TB is pretty darned scary. Do you think they'll find a new class of drugs to deal with it?

I certainly hope so. My father was born in 1920, and I recall the look on his face when he told me that he knew entire families that died of TB.

#653 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 11, 2012, 11:51 PM:

Lee (and others): most of NYC is set up in a feeder system, where a bunch of local elementaries feed into a couple of middle schools that feed into a single high school. Districts are small geographically but pack in a lot of kids. In my neighborhood, there are at least 5 elementaries, plus an early childhood center, plus a new K-8. Three middle schools. Two high schools, one of which is only 2 years old.

School choice is dismantling the feeder system. While my daughter only had real choice for high school (there were a couple of middle schools we could have applied to but they were very far away), there's now choice on the middle school level. Elementaries still tend to be your zoned school though lottery schools and charters (some of which are also lottery) are offering more variety.

#654 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 12:00 AM:

Lee @651 said: My parents wanted me to go to a small (800-person) college

My youngest sister (the one who was going to go into the Marines, but didn't; the other one is in her fourth year at Annapolis and will graduate this May) is now enrolled at Shimer College, which is a tiny 'Great Books' school. By tiny, I mean 150 total students, including the grad students. They rent space from IIT, rather than owning property of their own.

That said, you kind of have to respect a college founded by a pair of freethinking lesbians ... in 1843.

#655 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 01:18 AM:

#556 Stefan Jones: If it's like our tables, the legs have to be pulled around and turned backwards to collapse flat. A bit annoying if you want to get it out and put it away a lot, but there's a good chance yours is the same design.

In regards to education, my mother disliked the practice of skipping grades for just the social reasons cited above. She fought hard to get me into accelerated programs and I think that did me good.

Lee, I have almost the opposite reaction to you in terms of school size—my high school was under 400 students, my college under 4000. But then, in terms of peer groups, I'd already determined that I didn't much care about the in-group or the out-group or whatever, and the end result is that though I wasn't "in" any group at my high school—an all girls' school, no less—neither was I barred from any group. I was just sort of everywhere, the geek with the video camera, or the art project, or the random enthusiasm, and a book. So small worked well for me, and I feel as though I would get lost at a large institution.

#656 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 01:38 AM:

Jacque @ 619

Re: melifluous awakenings

That's delightful. If you ever go through with it, be sure to let us know how it works out, please!

#657 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:09 AM:

Stefan Jones @ 556:

If you can post a photo, or mail one to bruce cohen pdx at gmail dot com, I might be interested in buying it from you. I'm in the process of setting up my office again, and having a surface to draw on and photograph documents and such on might be useful.

#658 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:44 AM:


I've been a night person all my life, which is why I'm so late responding to you question. But for a number of years I had to rise very early (5:30, no fun at all in a place where sunrise around the winter solstice is about 7:50 AM) in order to run with my dog, have a shower and breakfast, and then drive to work.

I found several things that helped:

  • Using a noise machine helped my sleep soundly rather than dozing and waking through the night. The one I have and still use is a white/pink noise generator; wave sounds or wind sounds might work better for you.

  • I found an alarm that has a light on the top. Shortly before alarm time the light comes on dimly and increases slowly in brightness until the alarm goes off. This results in a slow awakening rather than the sudden impulse to sit up bolt upright muttering "HUH!" and flailing around.

  • And as P J Evans said, put the alarm off switch outside your reach from the bed.

  • Have a set routine when you get up; this allows you to be not quite awake for the first few minutes while you're operating on autopilot. Depending on the order in which you do things this might keep you from putting shampoo in your coffee.

  • Some sort of exercise will help to get you up and moving, As I said I used to run with my border collie. That took a while because we had to drive up to Washington Park, in the hills west of Portland where there are a lot trails to run on, then run for an hour or so, and then drive back. But if you can just walk for a few minutes, or so some bends and stretches, that will probably help quite a bit.

#659 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:59 AM:

It is reported that the world is going to end, this year. And many of the usual predictions agree on a date.

Oh dear.

But December 21st is a very obvious date for such things.

And they're none of them really new as predictions.

#660 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 06:50 AM:

Happy Birthday, Bill Heterodyne... I mean... Bill Higgins!!!

#661 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 09:43 AM:

Melissa Singer (648): My high school had between 850-1000 students while I was there (it varied from year to year), the smallest in the county. My class graduated 154, but we lost some along the way; it was about 200 when we started. My elementary school** was somewhere around 600 students, judging by class sizes and classes per grade.

*grades 8-12
**grades 1-7; no public kindergarten in those days, and no middle schools/junior highs in my district

#662 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 11:51 AM:

Dave Bell @659: A friend has a Sunday Doonesbury posted about the most recent post-rapture.

I'm not ambitious enough to try to find it online, so here is a rot13'd recreation of the dialog (as best as I can remember):

Crefbanr Qenzngvf: Mbaxre, Purfgre.

P: Url Mbaxre, gung Zreprqrf V tnir lbh ... V'z tbvat gb arrq vg onpx.

M: Bs pbhefr Purfgre. V jnf bayl xrrcvat vg sbe lbh.

P: Abg trggvat encgherq unf orra n uhtr frgonpx. V qvqa'g unir n cyna O.
     V'ir fbyq zl ubhfr, tvira njnl nyy zl zbarl, zl jvsr unf yrsg zr.
     V'z tbvat gb unir gb yvir va zl pne hagvy V pna trg zl yvsr onpx.

M: Purre hc Purfgre. Vg'f abg gur raq bs gur jbeyq.

P: V xabj! Vg'f fhpu n qvfnccbvagzrag!

Being an average Doonesbury, the visual description can be summarized as 'a pair of talking heads'.

#663 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 12:59 PM:

KayTei @656: melifluous awakenings

Heh. Ah, if only. Hm. Just occurred to me: a possible source of candidates: local drama school. :)

One of the Fluorospherian Marks was a good candidate, but his voice is so low that apparently it's outside of the range of a lot of phone technology! (Haven't seen his byline around for a while (I think; I get the Marks mixed up.); hope he's doing okay.)

Well, made it in to work ten minutes early this morning (or 23:50hrs late?). Not sure whether to count this one or not; slept yesterday from 8am to 3pm, then again from 6pm to 9pm. Got to bed around midnight, slept reasonably soundly until 3am. Tossed and turned until 5:30. Started the coffee maker at 5:45.

Bad news: the coffee maker I wound up with doesn't have an onboard timer. I bought a digital timer with the intent of plugging the coffee maker into it with the switch set to "on." Well, that doesn't work, because the switch resets if the power is off. ::sigh:: So I plugged the light into the timer. Wound up turning that on manually anyway. So: technology still needs work; I think I may see if I can get a programmable kettle, or at least one with a hard-wired switch that can be started from the timer. (The resetting switch is, I'm sure, a very intelligent safety feature. Annoying and not useful for my purposes, however.) The only programmable coffee maker they had was a 12-cup one, which is way over capacity for what I need. May wind up with one anyway, just because.

Meanwhile, I was, in fact, up at 6. Got in three Morning Pages, plus yoga, and a shower. Got out the door barely on time, and was thwarted by the icy streets, but actually made it to the bus stop on time. So: Yay! Qualified success. And I don't feel particularly trashed, for which I'm grateful.

We'll See How It Goes.

Bruce Cohen @658: this might keep you from putting shampoo in your coffee.

OTOH, doing so would probably result in IMMEDIATE WAKEFULNESS after the first sip! Whee!! %-)

Have a set routine when you get up

This is something I tend to do anyway, just because it uses less RAM.

Some sort of exercise will help

I am particularly pleased that I got my yoga in this morning. Would be really cool if this became routine. (I'm so horrifically out of shape that sleeping is often painful.) Shower also full of win: "One shower equals three hours sleep." –Miles Vorkosigan. I'm really looking forward to getting back on my bike once the ice retreats; that's a balm for a miriad of ills. (A balm for miriad ills?)

#664 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 01:45 PM:

Open Threadness: re Sidelights Cordelia Chase, female anti-heroes --

The author oddly does not mention the greatest anti-hero, male or female, since Ian Richardson's Francis Uruqart in the House of Cards series, Glenn Close's Patricia Hewes in Damages and her protegee-mentee in damaging, Ellen Parsons.

Love, C.

#665 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Bruce #657:

My vice-manager is going to have his wife look at the photos I made of the table. If she's not interested, I'll send you photos. No charge if you're willing to pick it up.

#666 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:35 PM:

Jacque @ 663:

One shower equals three hours sleep." –Miles Vorkosigan.

This from a notorious hyperkinetic and adrenaline junkie.

#667 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:44 PM:

HYperlocal news... Man gets new digital camera and proceeds to first test it on his dogs.

#668 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:46 PM:

Rob Rusick @662: A friend has a Sunday Doonesbury posted [..] I'm not ambitious enough to try to find it online

To clarify, the comic was cut out of the paper and taped to a post by the checkout cash register; not 'posted' on a blog.

#669 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 02:48 PM:

Serge @ 667 -

Coincidentally, I got my new digital camera Tuesday and tested it on my cat. He insisted.

Test Subject Number One

#670 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 03:41 PM:

Steve C @ 669... He insisted

Are you sure that's a cat and not an alien shapeshifter spying on humankind?

#671 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 03:46 PM:

Serge @ 670 -

Are you sure that's a cat and not an alien shapeshifter spying on humankind?

I made a mistake .... I forgot that Pepper is a she.

If she is an alien shapeshifter, she's carrying off the cat thing pretty well, considering the amount of Fancy Feast we go through.

#672 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 04:01 PM:

Steve C @ 671... Fancy Feast obviously is why 'they' are here.

#673 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 04:44 PM:

OT-ness -- Welcome to the post-racist society in the US.

#674 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 05:15 PM:

HLN, or possibly not H: Chicago is having a seriously legit blizzardy snowstorm, our first of the year. Yesterday it was 50 and sunny. Welcome to the Midwest amidst Global Weirding ...

#675 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 05:29 PM:

HLN: After much wrangling with advisers and assorted Vogons in university bureaucracy, area woman receives diploma in today's mail. Diploma even notes the college woman took her courses through, rather than the college the program is now offered through.

Also, area woman adds "Vogons" to Firefox's spillchucker.

#676 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 06:19 PM:

Seeing mention of splitting age groups up and preventing interaction makes me wonder what effect it has on childrens culture? Here in Scotland I'm pretty sure that stories and rhymes and games have been passed down from year to year in the playground, and separating them all would leave little chance for that to happen. Which would presumably leave them more vulnerable to big centralised media ideas, games and themes.

#677 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 07:06 PM:

Singing Wren #675: I've spent many years dealing with university bureaucrats. Indeed, I am sort of one myself some of the time. I had no idea until now that part of being one involved writing execrable poetry.

#678 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 07:28 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @677:
I don't think this is quite what you meant... then again....

#679 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 07:29 PM:

On school sizes: my primary school was 60 odd people (K-7), my high school (different town, years 8-10) was 180 odd. I did senior high school (years 11/12) in yet another town (it was years 8-12 all up). No idea what that size that was - bigger! It had all the people from the surrounding towns as well.

In my year 7, there were five people. Two girls (I was one of them) and three boys.

#680 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 09:03 PM:

On school sizes: my junior high had about 200 each in 7th and 8th grades (6 sections of about 30, plus a special class). My high school had somewhere around 1700 students, give or take a couple of hundred. Anything that wanted everyone at once was in the boys' gym; the auditorium needed two sessions to handle the crowd.

#681 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 09:07 PM:

Singing Wren: Congratulations!

#682 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 12, 2012, 11:38 PM:

Tom, #673: WTFIDE! I notice she's trying to deploy the "historical" card, like the people who say "heritage not hate" about displaying the Confederate flag. I don't believe her any more than I do them.

#683 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 12:18 AM:

HLN: Area Man Appears in Real Newspaper Two Weeks Running

"It's not because of anything I did, particularly," he told our reporter. "The theatre club has started to advertise its productions for this year, and I've been shopped to the local rag as a human interest story: local boy who's been on and off stage for twenty years now turns his hand to directing. Last week was a brief mention in an article about the club, this week was the human interest profile thingy.

"Being interviewed for the profile thingy was kind of interesting," he added. "Everything I said got translated into The Way People Talk In Human Interest Profile Thingies as it was written down. And if I couldn't think of what to say, I was offered a selection of Things People Say In These Circumstances so I could pick one to be reported as having said.

"The factual bits of the profile are accurate, more or less, but the bits about what I said and did during the interview happened more in the interviewer's head than in the interview room. There's a lesson in that, probably."

Area Man's directorial debut will be part of the season of one-act plays in September. Area Theatre Club's main production for 2012 will be 'Chicago'. "I haven't decided if I'm going to audition yet. I've done quite a few musicals in recent years - that became 'admitted to a particular liking for musicals' in the profile, which isn't right, because usually by closing night I'm worn out and swearing never to do one ever again. On the other hand, well, it is 'Chicago'."

#684 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 01:22 AM:

Paul A.: I think it depend on the company. Light Opera Theatre of Sacramento is a community theater that understands that people have lives, with the end result of a long pre-production and only a couple of rehearsals each week. We're doing Pirates of Penzance again, because to stay solvent we have to do one of the Big Three (Pirates, Pinafore, and Mikado) every other year.

Yes, we know that there are light operas other than Gilbert & Sullivan. But we *like* G&S.

#685 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 06:41 AM:

Anyone know the origin of the exclamation, "Scio cur summae inter se dissentiant! Numeris Romanis utor!"? I found it unexplained in a fantastic comic by Jason Hernandez. Google turns up a lot of unattributed instances of the phrase on Latin dictionary sites.

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 08:09 AM:

S, I'm off to the last gasp of my holiday season, my family's belated Hannukah gathering. Presents stowed, I'm waiting for pickup now. We're all going up to CT by train. Looks like a windy weekend up there; I passed on the down coat, but have a double-layered coat and lots of layering for backup. Gracie is being dogsat by my housekeeper.

#687 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 08:10 AM:

Tom Whitmore #673: Sometimes one is driven to despair.

#688 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 09:25 AM:

Singing Wren @ 675:


Sheepskins are a wonderful thing!

"It is my, my diploma" -- Gollum's brother Vellum

#689 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 09:50 AM:

A question for Navy Historians... Can you give an example of a Captain - fictional or real - who has delusions of competence, but who'd send his ship into reefs if not for his crew's senior member?

#690 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 09:57 AM:

Ahh public education, U.S. style.

As a teached who's worked in two states, let me tell you, there is no "US Style," because each state does it their own way.

Tom Whitmore @ 624 This could lead to an interesting discussion of "What Is School Actually For?" which could look at the different goals of socialization, education, training to obey irrational orders, and the like. Yeah. And there's no consensus, or desire to discuss it. This is one of the biggest problems with both school training and school reform: What should it do? and What are teachers for? And what is the typical response? >cricket noisesElliott Mason @ 628: Re: splitting school and overcrowding.
Some of this isn't so much "wisdom" as "practicality." Schools are perpetually underfunded, and can't usually afford much in expansion, much less new schools. In one of the states I've worked, local town gets to vote an approval on the school budget every year, meaning even less funding than usual. Practice in that state was to build an extension, because that was always cheaper than starting over. The other state has a cap approval: the town can vote on the total budget, if it comes in at more than 2.5% over last year's. (Which obviously is great in years and decades where there is inflation of 3+% better than half the time ...). In that state the practice was to sell old buildings and build a new school on new grounds, or to raze and re-build. But in order to get state and federal funds, you have to build for the size of the current population, you can't build for expected population increase because that's not guaranteed, and wastes taxpayer money.
In both these cases it is easier and cheaper to deal with several smaller facilities than one gargantuan one. It also is needful on account of traffic, scheduling logistics (especially for lunch and facilities), and crowd control.
Also, while larger age blocking is better for learning, some studies have claimed having more than 5-7 years between kids can encourage -- or even lead to --fear, intimidation, and bullying.

guthrie @ 676 Seeing mention of splitting age groups up and preventing interaction makes me wonder what effect it has on childrens culture? Here in Scotland I'm pretty sure that stories and rhymes and games have been passed down from year to year in the playground, and separating them all would leave little chance for that to happen.
Overall, the effect on word-of-mouth stories and games isn't that different. Most schools have common lunch/recess periods and common bus rides, so K-5,6,7 kids eat and play together and ride buses together. The "kids' culture" stuff gets passed along then.
[As winess my 1st grader coming home last week to say she'd learned a new bad word, "the "F-word," which fortunately, is ALL she'd learned. The kids only knew the abbreviation!]

#692 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 10:04 AM:


IANA Navy Historian, but isn't that kind of the story of Bligh? Not necessarily in navigation, but in, um, personnell management?
Also, Army, not Navy, but Twain's short story "Luck" has a celebrated General whose success came from receiving an order to retreat left and instead accidentally charged right, resulting is the rout of the enemy who figured he'd have to be a sizable force to try it ...

Also, my Dad was Coast Guard. He told me a story once -- no names though -- of a captain who, during a storm, was ordered by a bunch of Navy brass to ferry them out to their ship. He objected, but was ordered to go. End result, his small ship was rammed into the underside of the overhanging deck (a carrier? IDR), pretty much destroying the ship. He was courtmartialed. Why? A captain is always final authority on deck of his own ship. He would have been within rights to ignore orders of the Admiral if he felt it to dangerous.

#693 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 10:41 AM:

Paul A.: Cool!

#694 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 10:46 AM:

pedantic peasant @ 692... The Captain may officially have final authority, even over an Admiral, but I bet that reality is another matter.

As for my original question... I thought of Bligh too, but, at least based on the movies, he was competent where it came to sailing, but his managerial skills were somehow... ah... lacking. Captain Queeg would be closer to what I have in mind. By the way, my father-in-law recently told me that, when he was on the Coral Sea, the captain was as bad as Queeg. The man apparently had been a highly decorated pilot during the war, but that obviously didn't qualify him to be promoted to carrier's captain. The Navy realized its mistake, it seems, because he never made it from carrier's captain to admiral.

#695 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 11:02 AM:

Serge Broom @ 694:

Regarding the Captain/Admiral, this was a "true story," according to my dad. I know my reaction was the same as yours, but not so much the board of inquiry. I suspect this is one of those military catch-22s. Your choice is to do the unwise or disobey orders. You will be charged either way. Kind of like the "You can't handle the truth" movie, A Few Good Men, I think.

Yeah, I saw the discrep with Bligh. and remembered Queeg, but couldn't recall the name, book title, or author.

And your coral sea story seems to illustrate the Peter Principle quite well.

#696 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 11:34 AM:

An amazingly awesome photoshoot where a fannish woman with some serious dance background and good flexibility attempts to reproduce female -- and male! -- poses from the covers of current fantasy novels. Snark, hilarity, and back pain ensue.

Jim Hines started it by being a wonderful sport and shooting some ridiculous things straightfaced; his post is also a thing of snarktastic beauty.

#697 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 11:50 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 696... I rather like the covers for Seanan McGuire's "October Daye" novels. No bare midriff. No skirts. No woman posing in a way that makes you wonder if those are the joints of a human. Mind you, October is not human - not fully so, anyway.

#698 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 12:43 PM:

Serge @697 -- I (who am unfamiliar with McGuire) misread that as "October Dave" and was thinking that was a good name for a character...

#699 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Modesto Kid @685: Anyone know the origin of the exclamation, "Scio cur summae inter se dissentiant! Numeris Romanis utor!"?

Google Books' sole hit is from from Henry Beard's Latin for All Occasions, dated to 2004. This is probably a reprint, as I have a 1990 copy of the same book where the same quote appears on page 36, under the header "Things to say to the IRS agent". (Translation: "I know why the numbers don't agree! I use Roman numerals!")

#700 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 01:57 PM:

Addendum-- a semi-belated check of the coyright page of Google's Latin for All Occasions shows that it's a 2004 compendium of my 1990 book with the same title plus a 1991 sequel, Latin for Even More Occasions. However, afaik the 1990 origin date should still stand.

#701 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 02:16 PM:

#660 Serge

And Seth's and mine... I'm a few hours older than Seth. Not sure if I'm older or younger than Bill....

#702 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 02:24 PM:

Julie L. -- did they use Roman numerals for those copyright dates?

#703 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 701... A belated Happy Birthday!

#705 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 02:48 PM:

Reginald Hill, who mostly wrote very literate mysteries but had a few sf/f titles, has apparently died at age 75.

#706 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 03:24 PM:

I have a spam-spotting post on an old thread being held by the gnomes. I suspect I used a word of power.

#707 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 04:20 PM:

I'm at Arisia, and will be all weekend.

#708 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 04:23 PM:

Mary Aileen @704: Undeleted spam

I suspect that those got left in place to provide context for Teresa's subsequent telephonic piñata-whacking.

#709 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 04:51 PM:

Jacque (708): You may be correct; disemvowelment would serve 'em right, however.

#710 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 06:29 PM:

Checking in from festivities, appetizer phase. Everyone but one cousin-in-law (apparently trailing the present cousin) is here, including two dogs. (The elder, sadly, has a degenerative condition described as "MS for dogs". The other is a new arrival.)

#711 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 06:49 PM:

re Abi particle: Tico Tico

#712 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 07:46 PM:

Modesto Kid @ 698... I (who am unfamiliar with McGuire) misread that as "October Dave"

Seanan McGuire isn't that well known yet although I expect that state changed a bit during the worldcon masquerade, while judges were away to deliberate. The crowd's entertainment didn't consist of the Flying Brothers Karamazov juggling bowling balls, but of something as much fun: Paul Cornell ("Doctor Who" writer) was the emcee of the con's version of British gameshow "Just A Minute" and McGuire, one of the contestants, won partly because she called her mom on her cell phone to prove to us all that, when she was growing up, she REALLY tortured her kid sister by using garbage bags to dress her up like a "Space: 1999" monster.

#713 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 09:23 PM:

On way home last night, I saw a private-car train going into L.A. Union Station. Was very surprised this morning to find same at my station, locomotive actually turned off, with a police officer taking an accident report, complete with photos. It reportedly hit an unattended vehicle of some weight.

#714 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 09:50 PM:

HLN: Having been in new house six months, area woman considers painting one wall of living room. Looks forward to seeing selected paint chips taped to wall in actual daylight tomorrow. Has spent far too much time playing with the Sherwin-Williams "see how your room will look in THIS color" toy, and is still vacillating between shades of olive, mustard, and paprika. (Other walls hardly worth painting as are covered in bookshelves.)

#715 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 10:26 PM:

New terms:

Legacy Friend: Someone you probably wouldn't become friends with today (usually because you probably wouldn't even meet), but with whom you maintain a friendship because you're glad you did become friends years ago.

Fossil Friend: Someone you became friends with years ago, and are still friends with more or less out of inertia, and would drop if they piss you off good and hard just one more time...maybe two.

I have lots of legacy friends, and very few fossil friends.

#716 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 13, 2012, 10:28 PM:

Serge #712:

Seanan's a friend of mine and an excellent writer. Which is why we missed her at BayCon this year; she was GOH somewhere else that weekend.

I see here that Deadline, the second book in her Newsflesh series (25 years post zombie apocalypse) is up for the Philip K Dick award this year.

The Space 1999 thing is, let's say, a typical Seanan story.
And I have no idea what possessed her to join in tilting at the windmill that is a Westercon bid for Phoenix, but my life is better for her having done so.

#717 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 12:09 AM:

Jo Walton did an interview tonight at the University Bookstore, interviewed by Nancy Pearl (celebrity librarian). Lots of fun, a good turnout, and it looked like it sold lots of books. I seldom go to author events, but this one was a total win all around. She's currently touring to various West Coast cities by train, so look for her if you're on the West Coast!

#718 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 12:36 AM:

Serge, I saved the link to that halftime show because I enjoyed it so much. It's worth the hour, and is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

Incidentally, I had predicted to the person sitting next to me that Ms. McGuire would win, based on the sole panel I'd seen her speak at. Her speech is facile in the secondary meaning of the word, clear and flowing without pause. In short, it's exactly the style of speaking that works well for that kind of game, and almost nobody has it. Heck, I have apart-time job in radio working the board and *I* don't know any of the "talents" with that skill.

#719 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 12:37 AM:

A. Part.

A part-time job apart from the kids. Yes. That is what I meant.

#720 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 01:05 AM:

What's that you say? An apartheid job?

I thought they got rid of that...

#721 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 02:04 AM:

I can't resist pointing out that Avram's Phosphene about the universe gaining mass features a photo of Dr. Richard Steiner and the "watt balance" at NIST. He has long been a participant in the struggle to create a new standard for the kilogram, though since the article was written, he has moved on to other projects.

I am always tickled to see Dick Steiner appear in the press, for he was my lab partner in physics classes at Notre Dame. Hooray for old friends making good. Maybe reading about him will inspire some kid to dream about making fanatically meticulous measurements someday.

As Principal Seymour Skinner once said, "Ah, there's nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention.. Science has it all!"

#722 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 03:42 AM:

HLN: yr. humble correspondent has just endured a half hour of an social incompetent extolling the virtues of something called "fulvic acid" to a sufferer of Bell's Palsy. In this case, the nerve damage can be considered permanent.

"fulvic acid", from what I find on the net, is one of those vague chemical wotsits with all the attached marketing characteristics of snake-oil.

I mean. if there was anything to it you'd find some traces of the science. The Helicobacter Pylori business didn't come out of nowhere. People had been using anti-bacterials for years.

The idiots, alas will always be with us.

#723 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 07:13 AM:

Julie L. @699/700 -- Thanks -- makes sense now.

#724 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 08:33 AM:

B Durbin @ 718... I am so saving that link. I'll also see if I can grab the actual clip out of Internet Exploder's temporary files once I've played the whole thing.

#725 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 08:41 AM:

Patrick Connors @ 716... I've only recently begun following Seanan McGuire thru her LiveJournal, so I didn't know why she wasn't at 2011's BayCon. (I also just found out that she lives in the same East Bay town where my wife's parents live. I wonder if she misses the local Tower Bookstore as much as I do.) I wish I could come to this year's affair, but the trip to Chcon will most likely have to be the one big trip we can afford. As for WesterCon in Phoenix... What year would that be?

#726 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 08:59 AM:

Bill Higgins @ 721... Hooray for old friends making good.

Sure, but can THEY say they were turned into comic-book characters?

#727 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 11:23 AM:

Tom Whitmore (717): Nancy Pearl is indeed a celebrity librarian (she's even an action figure!), but 'celebrity librarian' sounds like an oxymoron all the same.

--Mary Aileen, non-celebrity librarian

#728 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 727... But are you like these two Librarians?

#729 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 11:54 AM:

#725 Serge:

Oh, sorry, I should have said:

Seanan helped out on unsuccessful Westercon bids.

Selling folks on coming to Phoenix in July is hard work. The last couple Westercons in Phoenix were, if I recall correctly, unopposed bids. I've quit running conventions since then, so details are hazy.

#730 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 12:26 PM:

Patrick Connors @ 729... Selling folks on coming to Phoenix in July is hard work.

I can't figure out why.

#731 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 12:39 PM:

Meanwhile, fangy monster knees.

#732 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 01:58 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger @722 -- permanent Bell's Palsy? Ouch and triple ouch, and my sympathies. That's a log of No Fun.

Mary Aileen @727 -- she also seems just incredibly nice, and very genuinely excited about books. We swapped some obscure favorites (like Mitchison's Travel Light and Peter Dickinson).

#733 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 02:21 PM:

For abi and C. Wingate: I was going to give a YouTube link to a performance of PDQ Bach's Sonata for Viola Four-Hands, but then I listened to it. Let it suffice to say that the piece exists.

#734 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 02:28 PM:

Serge (728): No, I'm not like them. One of them is better looking than I am, and the other has more hair.

(Note: kidding)

#735 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 02:58 PM:

I'm also reminded of this, though it's more of a teaching situation than a duet. From the city library in Wuxi, China.

#736 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 03:25 PM:

Antonia T. Tiger: I hadn't even heard of fulvic acid (which turns out to be a subset of humic acid, available in your local garden), but it certainly exhibits all the signs of snake-oil. The website at is a masterpiece of the genre, with American Indian medicine men, nanotechnology, DNA, anti-oxidants, colloidal silver, vital substances not present in modern foods, free radicals, and cures for everything. The only thing they are missing is quantum.

I rather liked Just recently, discoveries were made on how to nanoize matter into a state so small it opens up a vast realm of possibilities, such as pants that never wrinkle or stain, rooms that never become dirty"

And This product performs like a gas with the power and performance of 2,000 ppm. However, it's best processed (manufactured) at 1.7 to 10 ppm which is stated on our label. (pesky advertising laws, we hates them, precious)

#737 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 03:43 PM:

Argh, nanotech, the new snake oil. (I know what they're referencing with the self-cleaning jeans, at least.)

#738 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 04:21 PM:

thomas @ 736: Also, a "Medicine Man" who lives in "Northern, Arizona." Ah, the great city of Northern.

And these absolutely beautiful sentences: Note: If you nanoized a human hair, it would become 1,000 times smaller than its original size. Thus you would need an expensive electron microscope just to see it.

Furthermore -- it's got electrolytes! Fulvic Acid is the finest electrolyte known to man. Its electrolytes are able to restore vitality in all life forms. When our electrolytic potential (aka our "Zeta potential") fades away, so do our energy and our health. In fact, this loss of electrolyte potential is the main reason why we “age.”

Actually, if the transmembrane potential in your heart, muscle, and nerve cells goes to zero and stays there, it means you're dead.

I just … I keep trying to explain all the problems here and it keeps turning into an entire lecture on electrophysiology, because this just is wrong in so many ways I can't even.

This is really fantastic woo.

#739 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 04:49 PM:

HLN: Local woman complete first (training) run over marathon distance (26.66 if she's calculated correctly). Decides training is fairly well on track for first, 50 K (31 mile) Ultra race in February.

#740 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 05:04 PM:

Geekosaur: the self-cleaning pants could be very useful in combination with a product that's basically powdered peat or brown coal.

It appears that here in NZ, humates are just sold as soil conditioners, which must be less lucrative.

#741 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 05:13 PM:

The people they're probably aiming at don't know from electrophysiology. This is the kind of ad that shows up on the back page of a tabloid, or of some magazines, right in there with the bracelets with magnets that will help your arthritis. And the apple-cider cures, and the grapefruit diets.

#742 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 05:52 PM:

The fulvic acid nonsense reminds me I haven't heard anything about the power of crystals lately.

#743 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:03 PM:

Bring back pyramid power! (...NOT)

#744 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:07 PM:

geekosaur, you reminded me of this sendup of that particular fad.

#745 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:13 PM:

Pedantic peasant #690 - I find it amusing that they only learnt the euphemism rather than the word itself.

#746 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:38 PM:

thomas @ 736:

such as pants that never wrinkle or stain, rooms that never become dirty

See, they even admit that it's pants!

#747 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Xopher @ #744, someone besides me listened to the Alan Parsons Project???? (annnnd now I have an earworm....)

#748 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 06:58 PM:

Lila (747): I'm another Alan Parsons Project fan.

#749 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 07:26 PM:

Chalk up another one for Alan Parsons. I remember noticing, when I was ripping my Parsons CDs to mp3, that there was almost no filler on any of them -- every song, even the non-hits, was worth listening to. I regret the passing of AOR radio.

#750 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 07:58 PM:

An urgent bleg: In The Final Encyclopedia (or maybe, possibly The Chantry Guild), one of Hal Mayne's tutors says Hal has abandoned his armor to navigate a strait passageway.

I need that quote, the books aren't at hand, and Google Books is not being fully responsive.

Oh, yes, by nine or so tomorrow morning.

That is way too much to ask, so I will simply state my need and hope you infer my meaning.

#751 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 08:45 PM:

And another Alan Parsons aficionado, though not an extreme fan. Liked what I heard, didn't buy everything.

#752 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 09:09 PM:

Alan Parsons Project = (not for such a long time, and clumsily because I was just learning how to be a fan) my first fandom, in 7th grade.

#753 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 09:29 PM:

Most of the Alan Parsons Project's work was before my time, but the director of one of my favourite movies was a fan, and hired them to do the soundtrack. Which is a bit disconcerting, watching it now, because it's a medieval fantasy, but I have to admit I didn't notice anything odd when I first watched it back in the Eighties.

Also, one of my favourite characters in one of my favourite comic books uses "Sirius" as an earworm/firewall whenever he's around telepaths.

#754 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 09:40 PM:

I just heard from a friend that someone he knows calls Monday MLC day. You can guess what the C stands for.

I commented that he was a racist asshole. Then realized that that phrase is a good example of redundancy for clarity.

#755 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 09:58 PM:

Paul A. (753): Ladyhawke, right? I thought the music worked a lot better than I had feared it would.

I should watch that again. It's been a long time.

#756 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 10:06 PM:

Went to see "The Adventures of Tintin" this morning. Fun, exciting, gorgeous, and oddly forgettable. I hope there are more.

Bonus: The theater ran the trailer for "The Hobbit" TWICE. Which was kind of cruel, in a way.

#757 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 14, 2012, 10:29 PM:

Paul A.@753: Hey, nice to see another PS 238 fan!

(Link now provided. Anyone reading this who doesn't hate superhero comics should check it out.)

#758 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 02:25 AM:

I have several Alan Parsons albums ... on cassettes! I really should replace them with downloads (though that's true for a lot of my music, unfortunately now that I'm on a fixed income). Every once in awhile I get earwormed by "Eye in the Sky".

And I love "Ladyhawke"; I have it on DVD and take it out to watch every couple of years. It's funny, when I first saw it in the theater I really disliked Matthew Broderick's asides to the camera, but I loved the rest of the movie and especially the casting of Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer opposite (quite literally) each other. But then I bought the DVD and watched it a couple more times and Broderick's character grew on me.

#759 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 04:37 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 742: The only reason you haven't heard anything about the crystals is that they've been dissolved in magnetically energized water, and marketed in homeopathic concentrations as a free-from, nanoenhanced, eubiotic aura equilibration supplement.

Via - naturally - pyramid selling...

#760 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 10:10 AM:

I work once a week at a radio station and Sunday morning is infomercial time*. So thus far this morning, I've heard the benefits of enzymes, antioxidants, hylaronic acid, and CoQ10. I just keep keying in on the fact that they're selling the idea that you'll look and feel younger, with the implication that you'll be younger, with the further implication that you won't get old and die.

So I keep wanting to say to them, "You're going to die. Yes, you. One day you are going to die in spite of everything you do to prevent it. GET OVER IT ALREADY."

P.S. Note that they always say there are no ill effects and no side effects. In other words, they don't have anything in their products that does anything, because there's always an overdose risk if there's an effective ingredient.

*At least until real programming starts at 7:30. And after the first one, we get the gardening show! Yay for honestly useful information purveyed by a snarky host!

#761 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 10:19 AM:

B. Durbin, would the snarky garden-show host be Mike McGrath, by any chance? I loved his work as editor of "Organic Gardening"* before it turned to the spa side of the force. (He had worked for Marvel Comics previously, as well as doing some science journalism. Both showed.)

*For example, one April the 'Pest of the Month' was Mothra. The following month brought a letter from a reader who was disappointed that the cited control measures did not include the song sung by Mothra's tiny twin guardians. And the letter writer quoted the song in full.

#762 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 10:56 AM:

My cousin's new (debut) book, not SF but YA, just got a very nice review at Kirkus... Bit of an interview too.

#763 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 11:07 AM:

Xopher, I could "hear" the link before I clicked on it -- and yes, I'm another Alan Parsons Project fan. I'm slowly replacing everything I had on cassette with CDs (or MP3s).

#764 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Re: The crystal craze continues -- it's gone underground lately,* but you can find plenty of Newage suppliers on the Web.

I've collected gemstone crystals since I was in 4th grade, and the crystal fad meant that most of the things I longed for in grade school became available not long after I left college.

Now that I'm retired I plan on going on collecting trips -- I've always wanted to dig my own, especially my favorites -- Herkimer Diamonds.

*My apologies, I could not resist the pun...

#765 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 12:55 PM:

Bill Higgins... I recently read on the blog of writer Mary Robinette Kowal that 'Skeffington' can be abbreviated to 'Skiffy'.

#766 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Lori, #764: If you decide to go crystal-digging in Arkansas, you'll want to read my descriptions here. (Note: it's a long post, mostly about other stuff; the crystal-digging trip is near the end.)

#767 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Gray Woodland #759: Presumably also available online, at farmers' markets, and from people with names taken from astronomical and avian phenomena.

#768 ::: john ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 03:14 PM:

Serge at #765: As in Clotworthy Skeffington?

#769 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 03:27 PM:

Serge at #765:

But I'd really rather it weren't.

W. Skeffington Higgins

(At the age of 55 I was startled to realize that my parents had given me a Steampunk Name at my christening.)

#770 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 03:35 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 769... my parents had given me a Steampunk Name at my christening

They must have been precogs.

#771 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 03:41 PM:

Bill Higgins @ 769... By the way, did you know that, during the Regency, there was a Lord Craven?
(I'm beginning to think that the Foglio Dynasty is in charge of Reality.)

#772 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 03:51 PM:

If anyone would like to be read to: I posted a reading of a story I'm working on translating. Really liking the sound of it, thinking it is just about ready to submit. "Tescucho, Italy" by Slavko Zupcic

#773 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 04:27 PM:

For anyone who needs a day-brightener: Hat Cat.
(Not to be confused with The Cat in the Hat.)

#774 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 05:18 PM:

Serge #771: Indeed, Serge, I was aware of that. There's a brand of cigarette named after a successor of his.

#775 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 06:50 PM:

Fragano @ 774... According to what I just read, the cigarette Craven A was not named after the Earl of Craven whose mistress told us about in her memoirs, but after a descendant of his. Either way, if we used that name in a story, eyes would be rolling.

Speaking of craven characters and other disreputable types... I once heard of a gardening center that ran an ad on Father's Day suggestiing that they rid themselves of the old rake.

#776 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 07:06 PM:

Earl of Craven somehow sounds like a character from Blackadder.

#777 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 07:16 PM:

Sherlock, third episode, The Reichenbach Fall, and we all know what that means.

OK, it's The Final Problem, and I feel like I have been abused. Vg qbrfa'g znggre jung pyrire fghag Fureybpx zvtug chyy (V pna guvax bs bar), abobql jbhyq jnag uvz gb pbzr onpx. Zbevnegl xvyyf Ubyzrf ol xvyyvat uvf erchgngvba.

#778 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Or a bad Regency romance. Probably one where the Mary Sue character heroine is named Brandi or Candy or something else non-period.

#779 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 10:32 PM:

Lila: I'm out of Sacramento, so it's Farmer Fred. I'm not sure how much snark actually makes it onto the radio, but his attempts to teach people that you can't grow tomatoes eleven months out of the year are always amusing. And I'm no longer classed as one of the "apartment-dwelling horticultural heathens" at the station, so I get heirloom tomato and pepper plant starters. ("How many do you need?" "I can fit half a dozen." "Here's twelve!")

Lori Coulson: The only crystal place I've been to is the typically-named Crystal Peak, which is just on the California side of the California-Nevada border off of I-80, though the access is from the Nevada side. I'm told it was a WWII radio crystal mine that they dynamited at the end of the war, so there's crystals all over the place. I know more places to look for rocks* but that's the only crystal one.

*Let's see, agate beach near Fort Bragg, glass beach near same, carnelians at Rodeo Beach in Marin, petrified wood near Berlin Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada... hmm. The only other thing that's springing to mind is sand dollars at Ocean Beach in San Francisco in October, and that's not rocks.

#780 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 10:44 PM:

Myself @772: Made some revisions (and redid the reading-aloud recording, new url) and submitted the story! I have high hopes for it.

#781 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 15, 2012, 11:21 PM:

Because people may be interested:

The Alpha Young Writer's Workshop is having a fundraiser for the 2012 workshop. The workshop does what it can to keep costs down, but we rely on donations for a lot. This fundraiser is entirely alumni-run-- the people who put this together did so because the workshop helped them and they want to pass it on.

Here is the link. Please bid or donate-- it's a great opportunity for young writers, and I want more of them to be able to go.

#782 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 08:47 AM:

"A Batcave."
"Yeah... It is TOTALLY a Batcave."

- Competing geeks Hardison & Mason in last night's season finale of 'Leverage'

#783 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 09:36 AM:

Room reservations for Chicon 7 are now open.
I just made ours.
Click HERE.

#784 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 12:13 PM:

I'm home, as of last night. So is Gracie as of a few minutes ago... pretty tired from the gathering and the trip just now.

#785 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 02:05 PM:

Re: Sherlock

What pissed me off and therefore undercut everything that happened after it was a breathtakingly stupid bit of plotting/writing.

V pnaabg va nal jnl oryvrir gung guvf Zlpebsg vf fghcvq rabhtu gb unir gbyq Zbevnegl fb znal gehr guvatf nobhg uvf oebgure, rfcrpvnyyl fvapr ur xabjf Zbevnegl vf Fureybpx'f fjbea rarzl.

#786 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 02:31 PM:

Just finished watching the first of the new Sherlock, and I have to agree with Dave Bell's assessment somewhere way up-thread.

Verar Nqyre arrqvat gb or erfphrq ol Fureybpx Ubyzrf? Ab. Whfg ab.

#787 ::: Zlpebsg J ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 03:57 PM:

785 Melissa: wait, what?

#788 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 05:37 PM:

Serge #783: Ours made too. This is getting real.

#789 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 05:51 PM:

Wbua tbrf gb Zlpebsg gb npphfr uvz bs gryyvat Zbevnegl nobhg Fureybpx, fvapr gur vasbezngvba Zbevnegl hfrq ntnvafg Fureybpx unf gb unir pbzr sebz fbzrbar jub xarj Fureybpx jryy, naq Zbevnegl fnlf ur genqrq Zbevnegl vasb nobhg Fureybpx va rkpunatr sbe Zbevnegl' frpergf. Ohg Zlpebsg qvqa'g ernyyl trg nalguvat hfrshy sebz Zbevnegl, ur nqzvgf, naq zrnajuvyr tnir Zbevnegl rabhtu vasb gb nyybj uvz gb ernyyl trg vagb Fureybpx'f urnq naq qrfgebl uvz.

#790 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 06:21 PM:

Thanks for the explanation, Melissa; it's actually useful. I would be as annoyed as you over that. However, that wasn't where I was going with it. Sorry about that.

I was a bit concerned I was being too subtle with my joke, and it looks like I was. I should have put a point in to the "name" section (which looks a little odd, at least in #787) explicitly.

I have a little soft spot for Mr. Holmes more sedentary brother, as you might guess.

#791 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 06:37 PM:

Fragano @ 788... Bravo! See you at the worldcon!

#792 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 08:56 PM:

Re crystals" I read a Newage piece awhile back saying that digging up crystals is wrong wrong wrong, because Gaea put them where she needed their power.

That argument is perfectly fine by me, if it discourages needless mining.

#793 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 10:30 PM:

Mycroft: Actually, I did get the name thing, but my most persistent Asperger's tendency is not quite always being sure when people are joking or not. So I figured I'd explain.

My dd has converted to Holmes from Who, which has made for an interesting and intense few weeks. She is now actually reading Conan Doyle, and I plan to introduce her to Jeremy Brett's Holmes, but I'll have to wait a bit until she is out of mourning.

#794 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 10:51 PM:

Those of us waiting for BBC America to (finally!) broadcast the second season of Sherlock several months* from now express our heartfelt thanks to everyone for their use of rot13.

*I don't think it's payback for 1776, but I can't think of any logical reason for the delay. Miss all the hype on the internet and reduce ratings? Encourage pirated copies? Harumph.

#795 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 11:14 PM:

I actually think it's because of their deal with PBS. If they broadcast it here now, there would be no reason for PBS to have given them money for it.

#796 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2012, 11:54 PM:

Melissa Singer @ 719: But why doesn't PBS broadcast it before May? Eeejits.

#798 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:34 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz #797: I got 18 right.

#799 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:10 AM:

janetl @794: Presumably for the same reason the BBC doesn't allow (random example) me to pay for an overseas no-physical-tv BBC tv license, thereby allowing me access to iPlayer streaming content at the same time as Brits get it.

They will not take my money, not even at full price. What the hell? You're a *subscription-based* service, effectively, why not allow a widening of your subscriber base?

#800 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 10:27 AM:

We've been pirating Sherlock, actually, since we don't have cable. Shame on us, I know, but the teenager has become an incredibly rabid fan and since she vowed she was going to pirate, well, I couldn't _not_ watch.

She found another teenager who was livestreaming it to a limited number of people (about 50), and they met online the past 3 Sundays to watch together. They're all trading their blog/tumbler/AIM info and chatting at other times as well, and most of them seem to be between the ages of 13 and 21. They are from all over the world (Sydney, London, NYC, etc.). It'll be interesting to see if they stay "friends" now that the series is over.

The other really amusing thing is that dd wrote a song parody/tribute after ep. 3 and posted it on tumblr, where a friend of hers saw it and linked it to my daughter's Fb page as something my teen would like . . . without knowing that my daughter wrote it in the first place.

#801 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:00 AM:

Thanks for the dig sites. Not sure when I'll be traveling, but now I at least have a list of targets.

I know about the emeralds in North Carolina, and IIRC sapphires in Utah, as well as quartz and diamonds(!) in Arkansas.

At the moment, I'm beginning a quest for a new computer -- and I can't decide if I want to stick with a regular PC or go with a Mac instead. I'm getting really tired of jumping through hoops to prevent virus attacks.

And on the domestic side, I'm looking at replacing a 1950's vintage Kitchen Aid (which new model should I choose?) and a wheezing cannister vacuum with a Dyson. Has anyone here tried the Dyson cannister?

#802 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:14 AM:

I got 9 right. For most of them I was guessing randomly, after I realized I couldn't actually tell. Spoilerish: V jbhyq unir qbar orggre ol thrffvat "pbc" jurarire V jnf hafher.

This is appalling. While some skills are transferable, the difference should be OBVIOUS to anyone looking. I could see exceptions for situations requiring camouflage...but I don't think police should be deployed in such situations. Otherwise police should be clearly labeled as such.

#803 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:12 PM:

I got 13 right, and the reasons why I was wrong are scary. I looked at three things in the pictures: weapons and equipment, the expressions on the faces and their grooming, and the surroundings they were in. In the case of weapons, I assumed that cops would not be using squad-level or crew-served weapons like machine guns, or rocket launchers. In a couple of those pictures they were: one shows a cop on the back of a truck with what looks like an M-279 machine gun and several large containers of ammunition. That's not a weapon that should be used in a police operation of any kind.

#804 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:16 PM:

Tea Party Idiot Tim Scott Says Christians Are Greatest Minority Under Assault Today

Yeah. Let's see some stats that show that a) Christians are a minority; b) that Christians are being assaulted for being Christians; c) if you can even find any cases of Christians qua Christians being assaulted in the United States, that they're happening in greater proportion than to other minorities, like, say, gays. I'll wait.

*grows old and dies waiting*

OK, maybe this asshole meant 'assault' figuratively, but the utter cluelessness of not realizing that some people are actually PHYSICALLY assaulted for their minority group implausible, in fact, in an African-American. So he's a lying sack of shit, not just a fucking moron.

#805 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 12:53 PM:

Area man wakes up to fluffy snow falling and reports of downed power lines further up in the hills. Area man decides not to try to drive the dogs to the park at 1100 feet; instead takes them to the backyard, which confuses them, but not enough to prevent doing their duties.

#806 ::: Joseph M. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:17 PM:

Lori@801: Oddly enough, I have tried the Dyson canister vacuum--it was one of our wedding gifts. We find it to be pretty darn good; the best example I can give is that it generally deals well with the copious amounts of fur our cat leaves everywhere.

So, I'd recommend it, but it is kind of pricey.

I'd like to offer feedback on our mixer, but all I can tell you right now is its color (stainless) and if it works (yes).

#807 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:32 PM:

Xopher: TP Xians have to resort to hyperbole, or else they fall short on their martyrbation quota.

#808 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Lori Coulson @801:
Keep in mind that Macs are only "virus free" because nobody's bothering to write viruses for them as yet; as they become more popular, that will change. In fact, it already seems to be starting; there've been at least two significant viruses found in the past couple months.

#809 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 01:52 PM:

Lori, 801: AAUI, modern KitchenAids aren't nearly as good, as durable, or as easily fixed as the vintage kind. If you've got a 1950s one, hang on to it! (or, you know, give it to me.)

#810 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 02:29 PM:

HLN: Area woman was laid off unexpectedly last week, is still somewhat stunned.

#811 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:10 PM:

lori #801, geekosaur #808:

The main reason I've had for not switching is the quantity of software I'd have to replace; some of it, no longer supported, goes back to 1998.

#812 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:32 PM:

My All In One printer/fax/scanner is out of service and needs to be replaced. Does anyone have a machine they particularly like?

#813 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 03:54 PM:

HLN: Local woman amazed at how "AIUI" became "AAUI" between brain and keyboard.

#814 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:31 PM:

TexAnne, the AAUI is simple: you show up for meetings, try to abstain, listen to others, keep their names secret...easy to use.

#815 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 04:52 PM:

Vicki @ 810 ...
HLN: Area woman was laid off unexpectedly last week, is still somewhat stunned.

Ouch! That always hurts :(

#816 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Sorry to hear, Vicki...

#817 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:24 PM:

re 803: I got 18 out of 21, and the reasons I got so many right (there was one case where I had to guess, and two where I overrode my own criteria to get the wrong answer) are perhaps more disturbing. I ignored equipment per se entirely and looked for discrepancies in uniform wearing and in paint, so that most of the time I was judging entirely on whether they were wearing regulation uniforms and whether the vehicles had milspec paint. Therefore, for instance, the APC was a cop car because it didn't match US military paint, and of the two otherwise identical helicopters, the glossy green one was the cops. And the first image I got wrong, I misinterpreted by ignoring the non-spec black helmet one of the figures was wearing; otherwise they were in spec ACUs. Weapons I completely ignored.

#818 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:26 PM:

753/755: I didn't care for the soundtrack, but I want the horse.

#819 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:33 PM:

I found my next ride.

#820 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:44 PM:

Steve C., #819: That is COOL! What is it, besides "round and green"?

#821 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 05:49 PM:

Lee # 820 -

Looks like the Pea Car was developed for advertising frozen veggies:


#822 ::: Paul Duncanson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 06:08 PM:

A cake. Not much more to say really. The pictures speak for themselves.

#823 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:47 PM:

Vicki #810: Sorry to hear that. Luck be with you.

#824 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 07:49 PM:

re 819: I predict rollover problems.

#825 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 08:24 PM:

Vicki: sorry to hear that.

#826 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 09:31 PM:

Xopher at # 804: Their Kind of Christian™ actually is a minority, although they are shifty about acknowledging this. Sometimes they slip and explicitly admit that they don't acknowledge the Catholics, Mormons, and mainline Protestants to be Real True Christians. Other times they are happy to claim all of the liberal, moderate, and moderately conservative Christians when needed to run up the numbers. My favorite extreme case of this was the wingnut who maintained that the founders meant America to be a Christian nation because Thomas Jefferson published a Bible (link not good on January 18).

Of course everything else the writer said is a crock. And the way he used the term minority probably has nothing to do with my analysis. He's probably just innumerate.

#827 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:09 PM:

Steve C@812: anti recommendation for the low end HP machines. I've got a B210, and it's got most of the problems that I can imagine with an all in one. It sucks ink, it doesn't stay on the network as an aitsomethingoroth printer, the scanner software is awful, and just about every action through the touchscreen involves accepting the terms of service, again.

It's far more reliable stuck on my Ubuntu box as a USB printer than over the wifi. This after bing sold from the apple store, with a new Mac.

Otoh, the cheap brother laser printer is nice, but it's not an all in one.

#828 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:15 PM:

Re: a bad day at sea-

This image, from my inlaw's nearest big paper, has been all over my wife's Facebook today from her friends back home.

#829 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:26 PM:

FWIW I picked up a Lexmark X5650 on sale at Target back in July; its multifunction software for Mac is still not entirely compatible with Lion, but is apparently up to date for Windows and works as a USB printer from Linux. (The scanner was not supported by SANE when I last looked, but they were starting to work on it.) This one is USB-only; the X6650 has WiFi also.

#830 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:37 PM:

Eric @ 827 - thanks!

#831 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2012, 11:45 PM:

I generally come at the printer/scanner question from a different angle - doing photography as a serious hobby means that I own fairly big, dedicated printers for photos and separate printers for papers. If you need an all in one, I'd look at either Epson's (the cartridges are small, but the drivers are usually good, at least on Macs), or at HP's laserjet all in ones. HP's scanner software is generally bad, but their printer drivers are generally good. I'd avoid their inkjet all in ones; the cartridges are tiny and they're junky. Lexmark leaves a bad taste in my mouth (they made Dell's printers - in fact, I think they still do - and I spent too much time my first year of grad school trying to make a Lexmark/Dell color laser work).

My approach to the whole question, although it does take up rather more space, is to get a good inkjet (HP makes a nice business inkjet - their business printers are vastly superior and cheaper to feed than their consumer ones), and get an Epson scanner. That said, get what works for you.

#832 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 12:40 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @ 831 - Thank you.

#833 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 01:30 AM:

I bought an all-in-one Brother MFC-J615W on clearance two months ago. So far so good. It makes good copies, scans really really well, and prints decently too. The scanning software is Nuance's PaperPort, which I'd never used before but am reasonably pleased with.

#834 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 08:32 AM:

Open Thread:

I have a friend who has just moved to London, has time on her hands, and is looking to help out in a bird sanctuary or otherwise volunteer with birds (which she has experience of). I recall some posts from dcb that gave me the impresison she would know about this area (which is why I'm asking here). So dcb if you're reading, do you have any advice on where to start? Of course if anyone else can help please do :D Thanks!

#835 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 11:15 PM:

PSA: Apparently's customer database got hacked. If you have ever bought shoes (etc.) from them, consider yourself affected. Your name, email, billing/shipping addresses, phone number(s), the last four digits of your credit card number (but not the whole thing), and your encrypted password should be considered to have been exposed.

Fun times. /sarcasm

#836 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 11:44 PM:

Yeah, the Zappos thing cost me some time. I had never ordered with them, but my email and password were there, so I had to go and change other passwords at other sites.

Dammit, where's the retinal ID scanner we've been promised?

#837 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2012, 11:55 PM:

I got a chance today to take the Canon EOS 7D out to shoot some video, and I'm pleased with the result.

Oyster Creek Park

I had memories of over forty years ago, when Super 8 was the (silent) video capture medium. 150 seconds of film in a cartridge, sent away via Fotomat, and then the small reel watched over and over again. My friends and I were into model rocketry at the time, and we shot several minutes of launches. We would watch those silent moments of model glory over and over again.

It all felt so futuristic back then.

#838 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:19 AM:

Pretty good video, Steve C., but I can't help noticing that you got the date wrong right at the beginning.

#839 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:29 AM:

#837: Do you still have that rocket launch footage, Steve? Or any other cool old memorabilia? There are websites that would love that stuff.

* * *
While I'm at it . . . my model rocketeer origin story:

The Making of a Maker: A Tribute to the 1970 Estes Model Rocket Catalog

#840 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:37 AM:

David Goldfarb @ 838 -

Pretty good video, Steve C., but I can't help noticing that you got the date wrong right at the beginning.

Damn. Time machine screwed up again.

Stefan Jones @ 839 -

#837: Do you still have that rocket launch footage, Steve? Or any other cool old memorabilia? There are websites that would love that stuff.

Those movies are long gone, I'm afraid. I still have the slide rule I received for my 17th birthday, though.

#841 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:09 AM:

Kodak have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Kodak had always been in the camera business, and they used to make the digital sensors for Leica cameras. But they sold that particular business a few months ago. They sold other high-tech bits of the company that were still making money. They're selling their patents.

It's a pattern that usually signals disaster for the company. Kodak seems to have gone into zombie mode.

I guess this says it all.

#842 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 06:52 AM:

Following on from the SOPA business, it seems that Elsevier and others want to get a complete lock onto the science publishing business in the USA via another piece of legislation:
I understand concerns have been around for a while now about it, but this is the first I have heard of it.

#843 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 08:55 AM:

Jacque--my brother has just added a guinea pig to his family! 5-week old female. His 7-yo daughter has been wanting a pet "forever" but my brother is allergic to most things with fur, so I'm guessing this is the result of some negotiation.

So far he reports that she is very cuddly and quite verbal. Her latest trick is to whistle at people when they walk away from her after interacting.

#844 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:19 AM:

I see that I have recently become a civilised person*. A month ago I'd not have known the answer, I'd have had to look it up.

*removes tongue from cheek

#845 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:21 AM:

Thanks for the info, folks. I've got a little extra money coming from the Feds (retirement/tax refund) and I'm looking to make my chores a little easier.

I'll probably buy the Dyson Cannister Animal. With several long haired dogs (the Chihuahua, the Shelties and the Chin) and several cats, it's mostly hair I'm dealing with here. Both the Shelties and the Chin blow coat a couple of times a year.

TexAnne, the vintage Kitchen Aid has never been able to handle bread dough and it's having trouble handling the fruitcake too, which is why I'm looking for a new one. I've noticed several places are carrying the "Pro" -- biggest ouch is that it's at least $200 than the Artisan.

The Cuisinart works for one loaf recipes, but most of my favorites makes two. It's a real pain to do half at a time.

Hmm, re: Mac vs PC -- maybe I'm better off with the devil I know. Well I was planning on doing some window shopping first.

#846 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 11:25 AM:

Darn, I hate to see Kodak go under. Not least because they're sort of an anchor of Rochester, NY, the city next door to me. But also because Eastman was a pioneer, and Kodak even (if I heard right) patented the first digital camera. Such a game changer — they couldn't use the old sales model of getting rich off the film after selling the camera for a pittance. I hope this doesn't keep Rochester from making a comeback, because it's really a lovely place and deserves better.

re Poetry particle: Where's the Beast?

#847 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:36 PM:

An interesting article on Amazon's attack on traditional publishing at -- for some reason trying to link to this isn't working. I doubt this will be Amazon's last territorial demand.

#848 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:37 PM:

gnomed comment....

[Gnomed due to lack of apostrophe in a common contraction. Many of the spam Mad-lib style comment generators apparently use lists of phrases delimited by apostrophes; lack of apostrophes where they'd otherwise be expected is a symptom of those posts. -- JDM]

#849 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:57 PM:

Melissa Singer @843: my brother has just added a guinea pig to his family! 5-week old female.

Pix! Pix! What's her name?

Her latest trick is to whistle at people when they walk away from her after interacting.

"Wait! Where are you going!? You're abandoninginginging me!!!" There's a reason they're called "whistle pigs."

If they have a store-bought cage, it is almost certainly much too small (though it won't seem like it now). Two websites that will give lots of useful information: supplies instructions for making cheap, capacious housing. has lots of generalized care information.

And, of course, they are invited to contact moi for any reason at all. (Note: I haven't un-blacked my site yet today. Sorry 'bout that.)

#850 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Oh, gnome is me....

[Gnomed due to link to .info site. Generally, any .info link comes in through spam. I resisted adding that filter for a long time, due to on the One Virtuous Man theory, but eventually gave up. -- JDM]

#851 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:07 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 845
The key feature in a Kitchen-Aid is all steel gears; if you don't mind buying used, it is fairly easy to hear the difference between a steel-geared and a nylon-geared Kitchen-Aid.

Also, the spiral dough hook works much better than the straight one. After suing a friend's mixer, i'm seriously considering buying just the dough hook for mine.

#852 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:15 PM:

Using, not suing; I rather liked the mixer and it performed very well--why would I sue it?

I will just note that I don't find "under assault" for "systematically and intentionally targeted for legal harassment and defunding" to be an unjustifiable or uncommon use of the term.

#853 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:28 PM:

To boldly squeeze where no one has squeezed before.

#854 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:38 PM:

Jacque @849: Alas, the only pic I've seen is on Fb and my brother's page is private. Her name's Boo Boo and she's sleek looking. Mostly dark brown with light brown muzzle/nose and blaze up between her eyes right to the top of her head; another light brown stripe/ring at the shoulders and one at the haunches; the one at the shoulders becomes broader and white over the top of her body.

He says my niece is designing a guinea pig amusement park already, lol.

I'll pass along the advice about the cage, and the websites, including yours, for which, much thanks.

#855 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:46 PM:

Today I have to make the calls I've been putting off: the ones to see if any of the local rescues can take any or all of the eight cats in need of new homes. I kept hoping some connections could be made that would let me re-home them myself, but that just hasn't panned out, and now I'm up against my deadline to have them out of the apartment. I should have been making these calls for weeks...but I just kept hoping I wouldn't have to.

Please keep your fingers crossed for my kitties.

#856 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Good luck, Syd!

Hugs and prayers with you.

#857 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 02:48 PM:

HLN: Great news! Come February 2nd, I'll be unemployed!

Not being sarcastic, there. If you've followed my posts here, some of them have made it pretty clear that I've been very frustrated and unhappy about some of the practices and policies at my current workplace.

What's happening is: The actual security company I work for has had a contract for the past several years to provide security for the office/shopping development where I work. The development's parent company has been saying for almost as long that they're going to change over to provide their own in-house security "in a few months".

Much to almost everyone's surprise, the changeover is finally going to really take place, on February 5th. (But my last scheduled workday is the 2nd.)

Most of the current security people working there are being offered the opportunity to switch employers and stay at the development, but a hefty number (including me) are taking a pass on the offer.

I've already spoken to the Assistant Director at the other property where I worked previous to being assigned to my current location, and I've got enough time with the company that I'll probably be able to go back to work as soon as a slot becomes available either there or at one of the other properties around town where we provide security. So I don't expect to actually BE unemployed for too long. And I may put in a few resumes with other companies or locations that offer higher pay and/or shorter commutes.

(Though, y'know, I wouldn't mind a few weeks off. The closest thing I've had to a real vacation the last three-plus years was those two months in 2010 recuperating from rotator cuff surgery.)

#858 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 03:42 PM:

Lori Coulson @ #845, if your interest in the stand mixer is to aid in breadmaking, why not just look for a bread machine instead*? There are good brand-name varieties for under $100 new, and used ones show up on Craigslist, eBay and at swap meets/yard sales regularly. Almost all have settings for dough-only to allow you to shape loaves yourself, too.

*I got one a year ago and have been baking bread with it about twice a month ever since, so I'm partial to them.

#859 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 03:44 PM:

Did I mention the Alpha fundraiser auction? Oh, did I did I did I? Because it ends tomorrow, and there's good stuff in there.

#860 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:18 PM:

Kodak trivia:

In H.G. Well's The Time Machine, the Time Traveler is described as packing "a Kodak" for his second trip to the future.

Product placement, 1895 style . . .

#861 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 04:54 PM:

HLN: Area man declines job offer; then receives several phone calls asking why. Area man wants to hang tough, but has accepted offer of lunch tomorrow from the potential employer who has promised a "hard sell".

#862 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 05:26 PM:

Steve, #861: Good luck! If he wants you that badly, be a hard sell -- make sure that whatever issues caused you to decline are solidly addressed before you agree.

#863 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 05:58 PM:

HLN: Local woman hears thumps, pitter-pattering feet, scratchy claws, and squeaks coming from her bedroom ceiling. Exterminator diagnoses squirrels. Live traps deployed. Point of squirrel-entry remains a mystery at this time.

#864 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 06:09 PM:

#863: My college apartment had squirrels behind the bedroom walls.

After a few weeks I found myself fantasizing about shotguns, flamethrowers, and "live traps" slowly lowered into piranha tanks.

#865 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 06:11 PM:

On the Kitchenaid discussion; I'm fond of the one I bought a few years ago as a refurbished model from Amazon - a Heavy Duty lift model (5qt). If memory serves, it ran me something like $150 in 2007, but I don't know what they run now.

I've used the Artisan series (my folks have one), and I vastly prefer mine - mine is a 5qt rather than a 6qt, but I've stalled the 6qt out, and never managed to make mine even annoyed.

#866 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 06:58 PM:

HLN: Local woman officially putting viruses On Notice. Local woman laid low by GI virus for first half of week; upon recovering from that, local woman immediately laid low by head cold. Harrumph. And local woman was just getting back into the swing of things, and had planned to be productive and go to gym this week.

At times like this, I always think of the Reading Rainbow episode "Germs Make Me Sick!" And of course, the internet provides.

Local woman would like to advise everyone to wash their hands, properly, with soap and warm water. Good handwashing really cuts down on transmission of these nasties.

I definitely plan to take up mild exercise once recovered enough, because apparently my immune system is not doing so hot lately, and exercise would be good for it. Have had all manner of colds this winter.

#867 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 07:06 PM:

Lee @ 862 -

Thanks. I'll certainly check things out...

#868 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 07:32 PM:

Mention of Kodak reminds me that I'm exceedingly fond of Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss, an almost horror novel with a lot of photography geeking.

A sequel, Available Dark is coming out in a month, and it's about Scandinavian death metal rock-- should be fun.

And as for Kodak, an account of how Kodak floundered while Fujifilm is still doing fine. The tone isn't nasty-- the point is that Fujifilm succeeded at something very difficult that very few companies have managed.

#869 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 08:20 PM:

Mary Aileen and Stefan Jones: the solution to our squirrel infestation involved my impatient BF peeling back a corner of the carpet and taking a bandsaw to the bedroom floor in order to get at their nest and scare them out.

I trust the professional exterminator will have a more nuanced strategy than my boyfriend did.

#870 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 09:04 PM:

I inherited my mother's KitchenAid (model K5A). It's old enough - it's from the 1970s - that a lot of the current accessories won't work with it. Doesn't have the spiral dough hook, but that might possibly fit ... if I actually had space in my kitchen for the thing.

#871 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:17 PM:

Just watched the first episode of The Fades on BBC America.

I'm hoping his abusive sister becomes one of the title characters in the second episode.

#872 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:40 PM:

Re: stand mixer discussion:

For breadmaking, I prefer my KitchenAid food processor. I lusted after a stand mixer for a while -- but once I got a 12-cup food processor (refurbished on, for reference), it turned out that was what I really wanted. I make sandwich-bread dough and pizza dough in it at least once a week. It is really ridiculously easy -- put in dry ingredients with steel blade in processor, turn on to mix, mix together wet ingredients in separate bowl, drizzle into food processor while it's running, wait about 30 seconds, bam. You have dough.

For breadmaking you need one of the higher-end food processors (KitchenAid and Cuisinart are the two big names), you need a nice strong motor, and you really do need a 12-cup bowl. I paid about $130 for my refurbed one (which is really in like-new condition); they're more like $250 new. This is the one I got, for reference.

I also make a bunch of other stuff for which a food processor is useful -- hummus, falafel, beet soup (for which you have to grate beets), potato pancakes, pizza with sliced roasted potatoes, etc. So my food processor sees a lot of use in my kitchen even if I'm not making bread. If you make more stuff for which a stand mixer is useful, then that might be the more multi-purpose appliance for you.

#873 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2012, 10:48 PM:

(P.S. Every time I make falafel, Keith makes Bill O'Reilly jokes. Text at that link may be NSFW, and will definitely require brain bleach.)

#874 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 12:08 AM:

I've seen that model recommended by professionals. I'll put it on my list - I think I can fit it in my kitchen. Somehow.

#875 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 12:26 AM:

I downloaded Google Sketchup because I wanted to do some playing around with floor plans for a house. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it seems to assume that you already know how to use whatever class of software it represents, and I can't even figure out how to get started. Can anybody point me at an online manual for this thing? Or is there one hidden in the software that I just didn't see?

#876 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 12:49 AM:

Lori Coulson, in Mac vs. PC I have the following to relate. My computer at home is a Mac, circa 2005. Last generation of the PowerPC architecture. So it's pretty old. I have two part-time jobs (by choice); both use Winboxen. They aren't the latest and greatest either.

I yell at the computers at work. A lot. Generally over not letting me shut down a program that has locked up, though the computers at the photography studio do occasionally do gems like randomly rewriting keyboard shortcuts or opening up infinite help windows. Do not underestimate the value of being able to shut down a program when you want to.

I don't yell at my computer at home, though I am very sad that I can no longer use Flash. (Not supported in the newer versions; no internet games for me.) When I use Photoshop at home I have to remind myself to save because I'll get into a file for several hours and suddenly realize that saving would be prudent. (I don't have to remind myself at work because I don't have to work on any one file for more than a quarter-hour unless it's extra-weird, at which point I save all the time because of the stupid network.)

Just my experience, but a doddering Mac causes me less grief than its elderly but still younger counterparts. Viruses are not an issue at any of the three locations so far as I have seen.

#877 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 01:30 AM:

Lee @ #875, try here for video tutorials:

#878 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:46 AM:

Did Harvard fire all its librarians?

Summary: Librarians say they were all given pink slips and references to a resume-polishing site, and told they would have to reapply for their jobs. Management says this characterization is "inaccurate". Notice that they didn't say it was false.

Cynical!me suspects that the librarians are going to be allowed to reapply as independent contractors, possibly thru a third-party employer, and that their benefits will either disappear or be greatly reduced while they do essentially the same work.

#879 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 06:49 AM:

Lee, 878: If so, Harvard has opened itself to sanctions from the AAUP--academic librarians are on the tenure system. Sadly, most of the people who work in academic libraries are not academic librarians.

#880 ::: Susie ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 09:02 AM:

Lee, 878, and TexAnne, 879: Via my alma mater's listserv, a non-Harvard librarian makes some sense of all the tweets, with clarifications and approving comments from some Harvard library folk.

#881 ::: The Modesto Kid ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 10:16 AM:

Hm. Editor likes the story but does not see a place for it in his magazine. Time to find another place to submit it...

#882 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 11:15 AM:

We have a bread machine -- my partner got it because she doesn't do yeast-based doughs.

The food processor is good for breads that don't have any delicate items in them, but it tears up any fruit in a holiday bread, and most of my holiday bread recipes are laden with dried fruit.

All I want is something that will do the heavy lifting. I'm beginning to suspect I want a Pro model. And I just found another candidate...a Viking?

#883 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 12:44 PM:

Benjamin Wolfe @831:
That's interesting; we went all-Lexmark/Dell because of all the problems we had with HP kit,. Just shows to go that one size doesn't fit all, I guess.

#884 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Susie #880: About what I had guessed. Typical reorg, but Do they really need to make a "tradition" of being insensitive?

#885 ::: Chris W. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 01:21 PM:

Re: Harvard Libraries

(Disclaimer: I have no direct knowledge of the current situation or the inner workings of the Harvard libraries, but I have been an occasional user and I have some knowledge of Harvard as an institution)

First of all, Lee's scenario (converting full time workers into contractors without benefits) strikes me as highly unlikely. Harvard has a fairly strong union for clerical and technical workers which it is currently in contract negotiations with. One of the things that the union has come down quite hard on is this type of contract work to avoid paying full time staff. Not to mention the fact that Romneycare also makes it more difficult to do this sort of thing.

Secondly, centuries of an "every tub on its own bottom" philosophy has resulting in an astonishing proliferation of libraries at Harvard, many more than at other similar institutions. Sure, at other places each school has its own library, but at Harvard it often seems that each department has its own library, with its own catalog, its own physical space and its own staff. Recent developments have made that thicket of libraries easier to navigate for the user, but the fact remains that Harvard maintains a lot more distinct collections than most places.

So it looks like the administration has badly bungled explaining this restructuring, and the restructuring may well do serious damage to research at Harvard. And it sucks that people are going to lose their jobs. But it's not at all obvious that the restructuring is unneeded or definitely will damage the libraries.

#886 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:06 PM:

Lori @ #882, I made some holiday bread with fruit in my bread machine. I titled it "fruitcake" but it's more like fruitloaf. ;)

#887 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:15 PM:

geekosaur @ 883:

My experience over the last 10 years or so has been that HP makes pretty good hardware, and truly lousy software and drivers. I have an HP multipurpose printer/scanner/fax that I use for household jobs and photo-printing, because the printer is pretty good, and the scanning is good enough for some tasks. The hardware has worked fine (though I agree it does use a lot of ink) for 6 or 7 years now. But for about a year there the drivers were badly broken such that trying to connect it to my network via ethernet cable from my wireless router meant that it would drop connection in the middle of a job at least half the time. They finally fixed that, but they still haven't made their scanning software work very well.

#888 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:30 PM:

geekosaur @ 883 My experience is that HP's printers fall into two major strata - there's the consumer stuff (you know, the ones that are free or nearly free after rebate with a computer) and there's the business stuff (somewhat more expensive, but you're paying for much better build quality and much larger ink cartridges [and a proportionally lower volumetric cost]). The inkjets I've used for photo work have been, respectively, a wide-format business inkjet and, as of a couple of years ago, a dedicated wide format photo printer. I wound up selling the business inkjet to my graduate adviser a couple years ago, when I got the new one - it's still going strong in the lab, and we still use it.

On the other hand, HP's consumer inkjet stuff is complete junk - terrible drivers, terrible build quality and tiny, expensive cartridges - but that seems to be a theme across all printer manufacturers. Printers are very much a case of you get what you pay for.

#889 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:33 PM:

HLN - for the first time, area woman required - with help of the dear hubby - to administer an enema to the geriatric cat.

No one took any hit points, although an internet punster insisted on describing the result as us having survived the tale...

Crazy(and alas still waiting for ... uhm... an outcome)Soph

#890 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:36 PM:

I should mention that I'm talking about my previous job, on a college campus; we had few consumer-grade printers and no inkjets, and didn't use the HP or Lexmark drivers (the master print server being Linux with lprNG and, later, CUPS).

#891 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Oh, also I should note that our biggest problem with the HP printers was perfectly normal jobs constantly eliciting FE errors (that is, internal "should never happen, call a field engineer" error codes). Sometimes HP's Windows drivers were involved, but often not.

#892 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 03:39 PM:

#886: Hmmm. Interesting synchronicity.

I was planning, this weekend, to try making fruitcake. I even bought rum to douse is with. (Or souse it with.)

I'm wondering if I could also try to make a panetone type fruitcake / break.

#893 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 04:17 PM:

HLN: It is really seriously snowing in Chicago right now. Area homeowner spent ~20min shovelling back walks, clearing car on parking pad, and clearing alley in front of swinging car-exiting gates ... and on return trip to back porch, found nearly 1/2" of new accumulation on the steps there.

Homeowner moved car to parking spot in front of house so as not to have to shovel the alley again in ~1.5 hrs when family members have to leave to go to dinner.

#894 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 04:31 PM:

HLN update: Two squirrels have just been removed from my attic in live traps. But I heard the pitter patter of more little feet, so there's a fresh trap up there.

I'm tired of apartment living and have been wishing to buy a house--not that I can afford one, sigh--but at least I don't have to hire my own exterminator. (Or shovel my own walk, mow my own grass, fix my own roof, hire my own plumber...Why do I want to buy a house, again?)

#895 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 04:53 PM:

After talking with exterminators about squirrels and other furry non-rent-paying interlopers, I learned that a squirrel can get through any hole he can fit his head in.

#896 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 05:14 PM:

Stefan Jones @ #892, that loaf does more closely represent a panettone than a fruitcake, partly because it was baked in the bread machine's pan and took on its shape rather than baked in a loaf pan in the oven, but also because its texture and density is far more bread-like than cake-like.

#897 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 05:23 PM:

Followup to my #857: Sent out my first job application today, in anticipation of the current job's end in a few weeks.

I've been told I'll probably be offered a position at a different property (the company I work for has security contracts with about a dozen properties in the area), but it may be a while before one comes open. But I figure I can also use the opportunity to try and find something with better pay and/or hours and/or shorter commute and/or a better work environment. (The job I applied for today would meet all four items on that wish-list.)

#898 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 05:55 PM:

Steve C #895: Yeah. In general, furry burrower-types make and use holes (in houses) about half the diameter you'd expect "to look at them". I suspect they tend towards larger burrows in the field. I'm not sure how well this applies for snakes and such.

#899 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 06:26 PM:

David Harmon @ 898... furry burrower-types make and use holes (in houses)

Unlike the ones who look like Ian Holm?

#900 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 06:30 PM:

Steve C. (895): In this case, we can't tell how the squirrels would be getting *to* any notional hole. The nearby tree was cut down recently to discourage raccoons from getting on the roof and pulling up shingles.

#901 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 06:54 PM:

Mary Aileen, #894: When I was first looking to buy, I found that a condo was a decent compromise. You still have to take care of exterminating and plumbing on your own, but they mow the grass and shovel the snow. And IIRC, they also handled things like roof repair -- the boundary was "outside, theirs; inside, ours". I do remember getting mildly annoyed with the maintenance people for allowing tree branches to droop over the sidewalks, but a couple of lops with pruning shears took care of that.

#902 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 07:42 PM:

Lee @ 875 ...
I downloaded Google Sketchup because I wanted to do some playing around with floor plans for a house. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, it seems to assume that you already know how to use whatever class of software it represents, and I can't even figure out how to get started. Can anybody point me at an online manual for this thing? Or is there one hidden in the software that I just didn't see?

Sketchup has a serious learning wall[0] -- and counterintuitively, if you try to bring up 'Help' for the program, it'll ship you off to the online manuals/tutorials/yada.

[0] A learning curve suggests something that you haven't just slammed into with painful abruptness, and aren't about to spend a substantial amount of time trying to clamber over...

#903 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 07:45 PM:

I'm sorely tempted to buy a townhouse, if only to have a garage to have a shop in. And houses are fairly cheap now, meaning they *might* be a good investment. (Might.)

What holds me back: Getting stuck with awful neighbors. Concerns that such a big investment (in money and emotion) would tie me down if I need to find a new job.

#904 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 08:23 PM:

Lee (901): Yes, a townhouse-style condo* would be the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ones around here are even more expensive than the similarly sized houses.

*most of the condos in this area are big apartment buildings

#905 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 09:36 PM:

Well, I just have to squee somewhere! My daughter got a real grown-up job. Yippee! (She'll even be working in the same building as me.)

#906 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 09:37 PM:

Thought I had posted this but maybe only previewed, or maybe the gnomes got it. I'm spending the night in the hospital with my husband, who has some brand-new Weird Cardiac (?) Shit going on. Kind thoughts, prayers, good mana, moral or immoral support all appreciated. Will update if/when we learn anything from tomorrow's crop of tests and labs. God, I'm tired. Uncertainty is exhausting.

#907 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 09:50 PM:

Lila @906 -- good thoughts sent in the direction of both of you.

#908 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 10:40 PM:

Mary Aileen @900: If squirrels are still getting to your roof, I'll guess they're using some sort of wire that runs to your house.

#909 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 11:09 PM:

Kip W... If Mary Aileen also saw a moose on the roof, it's easy to guess how the squirrel got there.

#910 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 11:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @900: Squirrels can make up to 6' sideways leaps, and have no trouble shinnying up wires.

I know this because of the documentation that comes with birdhouses (about how you make them squirrel-resistant in how you hang them).

#911 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2012, 11:53 PM:

Mary Aileen @ 894: I'm tired of apartment living and have been wishing to buy a house--not that I can afford one, sigh--but at least I don't have to hire my own exterminator. (Or shovel my own walk, mow my own grass, fix my own roof, hire my own plumber...Why do I want to buy a house, again?)

As someone who had a section of foundation wall collapse, and got to pay to have it pulled out and replaced, and fix the damage to the plaster walls in the room above it, I am seriously unhappy with home ownership. Enjoy renting!

#912 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:15 AM:

#861 ::: Steve C.

That reminds me of Heinlein's "It's Great to Be Back", which I'm pretty sure mentioned the Saturday Evening Post, a magazine which I thought was gone forever.

It turns out that it's been revived, though what's left looks pretty insipid.

#913 ::: Syd, somewhat disguised ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:23 AM:

I ran out of time. Or, rather, afraid that I would be out of time, since none of my or my friends' last-ditch efforts on behalf of my cats have panned out and fearing I'd be left with a completely unknown alternative, I called the Pasadena Humane Society/SPCA. The very nice woman on the phone told me, in answer to my barely understandable questions (barely understandable because I kept crying), that there was no surrender fee and that they currently had fewer cats than normal, so mine would have a better chance to get adopted. So this afternoon, I took Bastet, Scooter, Jules and Shadow.

And cried most of the way there. And found out there should indeed be a surrender fee, but they waived it because I'd been told otherwise. And I filled out the surrender form, and it said, after the part where I relinquished ownership (cry), something about euthanasia if necessary, and I cried some more, and they transferred my cats--mine, MY cats, gods dammit--from my carriers to their carrying cages and took photos while I was filling out the profile sheets and I didn't get to say goodbye.

And I have to take Patch, Blaze, Damon and Runyon in tomorrow.

On the plus side, there are cats on the PHS website who've been there since November, which gives me hope that mine will have a decent chance. I've also been in touch with the Kris Kelly Foundation, and the PHS is one of their partners, and the gal I've been emailing with asked me to make sure to get the cats' ID numbers, which at least implies she'll put them up on their website, so that might help, too.

I hope it helps.

Ye gods, I hate this. I hate it so much.

#914 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 01:13 AM:

HLN. Area TV shows film The Seeker. Area man, while channel surfing, is attracted by similarities to Susan Cooper plot-coupon classic The Dark is Rising. Area man is subsequently horribly disappointed, concludes "Will Stanton can't convincingly be translated into a 21st century teenager."

#916 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 01:39 AM:

Oh, Syd. You did what you could. All we can do is our best, and sometimes that sucks.

#917 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 02:47 AM:

HLN and home ownership woes:

The snow a couple of days ago turned into rain, and then yesterday into torrential rains, high winds, and flooding. As happens whenever we have really heavy rains (about once every couple of years) the sewer outlet backed up into the shower in the downstairs bathroom and flooded that room and the adjacent laundry room. The good news is that we've just finished replacing the floor everywhere but the bathroom with stained concrete, which not only looks good, but is also covered with a waterproof polyurethane coating, and that the bathroom already has ceramic tile, so it's protected. The bad news is that we had to mop out and lay down ratty old towels (of which we have a lot, since we have dogs) to sop up the water.

So far, all but one plumber who's looked at the problem couldn't even figure out what was wrong (you should hear some of the theories), and no one has been able to give us a solution short of "throw money at it". Unfortunately we have other things to throw money at just now, so since we're not going to get any permanent damage from the water as long as it doesn't get too deep, we'll just have to wait it out.

#918 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 03:28 AM:

Syd @913:

How very painful. I'm sorry you had to do it.

#919 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 05:10 AM:

Bruce Cohen @917: I don't know the structure of your shower drain, but if you can remove a grate to leave an open pipe-like place, and can then find out what its interior diameter is, you might make use of my mother's main mitigating-sewer-backups trick: a standpipe.

Purchase a waist-to-chest-high (3-4 feet?) length of PVC piping with an exterior diameter as close as you can get it to the interior diameter of the drain that backs up. Insert it into the drain (with a judicious whap or two from a halfbrick is how we did it -- friction fit) whenever drain is not in use -- voila, the sewer water will only CONTINUE to back up if it can manage to push several feet of pressure upwards and spurt out the top of the pipe, at which point my mom figured it deserved the chance.

For extra geek points, get a clear plastic pipe instead of a white one and you can instantly see the 'flood stage' you're at.

Drawbacks: You have to buy the pipe, and you have to walk around it sticking out of the drain -- I'm not sure how often you use that shower, but it could be a pain if the answer is 'lots'.

Advantages: It's really cheap to implement, and surprisingly effective, depending on the source of the sewer-backwash (and how pressurized it is).

#920 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 05:38 AM:

Lee @875 -- I wouldn't recommend Sketchup for this purpose. It's reasonably good for modelling the exterior of houses, but for any interior work it truly sucks.

I'd suggest getting a copy of IMSI FloorPlan, which is a much more beginner-friendly package, as well as being designed specifically for the application you want it for, so is generally faster and more effective at doing it. You should probably try to get one of the older versions if you can -- recent ones have added too many features that you're unlikely to need, and they've made the interface harder to use -- but if you can't, a new one will do what you want.

#921 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 07:08 AM:

Syd #913: I'm sorry for you, Syd. The SPCA is probably the best chance they've got, and it is a decent chance. I assume you know all the problems faced (and caused) by feral cats; yours will at least escape that, and have a decent chance of ending up in human homes.

#922 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 08:12 AM:

Local weather report, C-ville VA: slow but accumulating ice storm. Last dog-walk was starting to get interesting; seriously considering traction coils for next walk.

#923 ::: Janet K ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 08:14 AM:

Syd @913. That's really hard and I'm crying with you. But I think the cats will have a good chance at finding new homes. My impression is that your cats are young, heathy, and well-socialized.

There are many good public Humane Society shelters and the people who run them do their best. Yes, some cats are euthanized but, if possible, they try to limit that final choice to essentially unadoptable cats, such those with serious health issues or behavioral problems (such as vicious biting).

If it's not too painful for you, you could visit the cats once they have been made available for adoption. Tell the staff/volunteers in the cat room about your cats, so they can pass on anything special that might help visitors make their decision about which cat to adopt. For example, people often want to adopt two cats so knowing they get along with each other is a plus.

I volunteer at a shelter here in Washington DC. It's a private shelter so it isn't under the constraints faced by public shelters. Even the cats that don't "show" well find homes. Some people come in just to adopt a shy cat that has been overlooked by everybody else. Some people just fall in love with a cat and can't explain why.

#924 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 08:17 AM:

Lee #875, Jules #920: Hmm, I'm starting to look around for tools to do an annotated map of my bookstore, preferably making good use of my iPad (despite running Ubuntu at home). Anyone have suggestions?

#925 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 09:54 AM:

HLN: Local woman and husband have fairly quiet night in hospital. Cardiac enzymes negative, echocardiogram and carotid doppler look good. EKG results not back yet. No further episodes last night or this morning.

#926 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:15 AM:

Lila... Let's hope the EKG results turn up ok.

#927 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:21 AM:

Janet K @ 923 ...
I volunteer at a shelter here in Washington DC. It's a private shelter so it isn't under the constraints faced by public shelters. Even the cats that don't "show" well find homes. Some people come in just to adopt a shy cat that has been overlooked by everybody else. Some people just fall in love with a cat and can't explain why.

The first cat that we adopted "showed" terribly -- it turned out that she was horribly afraid of other cats, and once out of the shelter, was lovely, loving, friendly, and (as it turns out) an excellent mouser. Cats that are happy, healthy and friendly already are bound to do well!

#928 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:45 AM:

Kip W (908): It's an apartment building, with firewalls between each apartment's attic. There are no wires leading directly to my section of the building. The squirrels could be coming across the roof, but unless there's a hole in the actual roof, they'd have a dickens of a time getting in. For one thing, the eaves stick out quite a bit.

Elliott Mason (910): But there's nowhere for them to leap *from*! Seriously. It's a mystery.

janetl (911): Enjoy renting!

I'm rapidly coming to that conclusion.

#929 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:47 AM:

Syd, my sympathies. If you'll accept virtual hugs, consider yourself hugged. (If not, not. :)

Lila, I'm continuing to think good thoughts.

#930 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Syd, I'm sorry for the hurt and uncertainty. I think you are doing what's best. Your heart is good, and that's why it's so painful. Our cat came from a shelter, so there can be happy outcomes. We can wish it didn't hurt, but the hurt is what shows that you're human, in the best sense of the word. Good luck.

#931 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:30 AM:

Mary Aileen, it's possible that somebody who wants to invent an interdimensional portal should just observe squirrels closely. We're all reduced to blue-skying hypotheticals and hoping something hits.

#932 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker To Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 11:32 AM:

Elliot Mason @ 919:
That sounds like an excellent idea, but might be a problem in this particular case: one, it's a rather small shower enclosure, just big enough to fit one person with almost no room to move around1, and two, the bathroom is well below ground level; in fact, the waste outlet is several feet above the drain, so the standpipe would have to go almost to the ceiling. Ultimately we may have to put a pump in the outlet.

1. We re-designed both bathrooms when we remodeled; the original designs were horribly inefficient of space. But both bathrooms are very narrow in one dimension, so we spent quite a while moving puzzle pieces around to find the optimum layout. One of the tradeoffs was a small shower enclosure in trade for having the toilet on the same wall and still being able to open the door all the way.

#933 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:09 PM:

OK, laundry experts -

My roommate dropped a mason jar full of homemade Polish dill pickles. Our kitchen towels are now full of delicious dill-pickley vinegar goodness. What should I use to deodorize them in the wash? I'll do a separate load, but I'd still rather they come out of the dryer not smelling of pickles.

#934 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:17 PM:

nerdycellist @933 -- the two things I'd try are baking soda and borax, for that particular problem. Both are relatively cheap.

#935 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:17 PM:

Syd -

I'm so sorry you had to take your cats to the shelter. Small comfort though it may be, Pasadena Humane is one of the best shelters I've ever seen. They do a very thorough check when someone adopts an animal, and the staff and volunteers do loads to keep them socialized and happy. They have a behaviorist on staff and have tons of aftercare and training opportunities for new owners. We got our dog there and try to give them a little money every year.

#936 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:32 PM:

I'd recommend the pump, as soon as you can afford it, but I suspect the problem is that in wet weather, the main line, out in the street, is filled to the point where it's backing up into your sewer line.

#937 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:35 PM:

I'm so sorry, Syd. May this be the last of the awfulness!

#938 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 12:59 PM:

P J Evans @936: That's what it is in Chicago; the storm sewer system overflows into the sewage pipes (it overfills the sewage system without having sewage backwash into the storm system and then flowing untreated out into the lake, that's Milwaukee *cough*) and suddenly Waters Iz Rizin'.

Two major initiatives Chicago's sort of lackadaisically working at (to avoid provoking liberterian/NIMBY "You can't tell me what to do on my proppity!" complaints, they offer 'incentives' for coming into compliance rather than inspecting neighborhoods and passing out citations) are:

(a) publicizing that it is no longer legal to have your downspouts plumbed directly into the storm sewer lines, which an awful lot of the pre-1950 housing stock has. Each property is now, in theory, responsible for grounding its own footprint of storm runoff, through French drains, gravel wells, water-hungry plantings, and good grading, instead of dumping it into the storm or waste-water pipes or flowing it down over the front lawn into the street (and THEN into the storm sewer system).
(b) installing 'flow limiters' on the storm-sewer intakes in the street, so that the input to the system canNOT exceed the ability of the pipes further downstream to carry it away. This means the stormwater backs up in the streets (called 'street ponding,' which I think is rather quaint) and not generally in basements, unless someone's lawn is fairly low and they have basement windows on that side ... oops. Still, that's fixable on a property-by-property basis, and possibly also by getting your alderman to raise the curbs the next time they repave the street.

#939 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 01:01 PM:

In the interests of completeness, I've switched over to a new email address, in the main. Here is my ML activity under the new address.

#940 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 01:03 PM:

Hello, people of the future. I used to post on ML using a different email address. If you want to see what I did back in the depths of the Naughty Oughties, click the link.

#941 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 01:10 PM:

HLN: local woman's husband is being discharged from the hospital, still with more questions than answers (EKG is clear, no thryoid results yet). Will get event monitor and stress test in the coming week.

#942 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 03:45 PM:

Janet @923:

Even the cats that don't "show" well find homes. Some people come in just to adopt a shy cat that has been overlooked by everybody else.

That's how we got our first cat. Many of the people at the Humane Society that day walked in, saw there were no kittens that day (they were out on a mobile-adoption van at a PetSmart), and walked out; we looked at every cat there, and found a sweet little tabby huddled in the back of her cage. When we opened the cage to take a look at her she almost leapt out, dug her claws into my wife's sweater, and started purring. She remained just as sweet and just as fiercely loyal to us until she died of cancer just two weeks ago. Our current surviving cat's also a shelter cat, adopted through an agency that brings them in from high-kill rural areas in Virginia and West Virginia to the DC area where there are fewer cats in need of homes.

Syd, I'm very sorry that you weren't able to directly re-home your kitties -- for what small comfort it may bring, I do know that a lot of people will look at "regular" shelters for pets first, figuring that those cats may have a limited time, before they go to no-kill shelters. This time of year is probably also a good time for adoptable cats, without the glut of kitten season in the spring.

#943 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 04:57 PM:

We've got a shelter kitty as well, who's gone through a period of being a rather vicious biter when we didn't do what she wants. She's learning different behaviors with some fairly simple behavior modification techniques (she rejected the idea of prozac, even when dissolved in fish oil, and we're just as glad -- the two days she took it, she was definitely Not Herself). She's one of four, and has had a more traumatic life than the others. She needs stability (and to know that she doesn't have to be in charge). Well, she does occasionally have to remind us to give her better food than the crunchies....

And she definitely picked us out. Small, black, smart, and neat -- a classic Bombay.

#944 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 06:57 PM:

Syd, sympathies and best wishes for good new homes for the cats and healing for you.

Lila, hoping for good news on the cardiac front. Uncertainty is definitely scary.

Janet Brennan Croft, congrats to the newly employed offspring.

And Bruce Arthurs, hope the desired job comes through.

HLN, family returns from week in Florida (mostly sunny, low to mid-70s) to DC area (30s, wintry mix). "Bleah," they opined. Obligations of work and school keep them from turning around and going back, but just barely.

Also, re vacation, does anyone else play "Where would we put the bookshelves?" when renting a house or condo while on vacation?

#945 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 07:44 PM:

OtterB @944: My in-laws have acquired the habit of renting a furnished apartment for a week when they come see us for grandchild-enjoyment several times a year (they prefer it to hotels, because they can camp out in the kitchen and have breakfasts the way they want them, it's quieter, and they're usually in closer neighborhoods to where we live than hotels are).

The last one was very much Their Kind Of Thing, and came with a foot or two of books distributed loosely on each of two wide-shelved sideboards in the house. It was the most random assortment of weirdness I have seen in a LONG time; either the owner grabbed handfuls at a thrift store and said "Right, books, that's sorted," or a very eclectic mix of people have been renting and participating in a 'take a book/leave a book' program. I was glancing over them while waiting for the kid to finish a nap (because I can't sit next to a pile of books and NOT snoop), and was so amazed I had to draw my father-in-law's eye; he agreed it was fascinating.

Everything from the frou-frou-iest of New Age stuff (way out past Deepak Chopra on the 'respectability' line) to a couple of fascinating linguistics texts and a work of recreational Latin. Plus some best-selling novels, but I expected that.

#946 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 08:36 PM:

Syd, if it's any consolation, the first place I went to when I wanted cats was my local shelter. 3 of our 4 came from there (the fourth adopted my boyfriend in his backyard). And my friends who have cats do the same thing.

You and the cats will be in my thoughts.

#947 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 08:39 PM:

Syd: so, so sorry. My heart hurts for you.

Adding to anecdotes, my current cat is an adult shelter adoption. We wanted an adult cat, not a kitten--didn't even go into the kitten room. He reached a paw out of his cage and grabbed my daughter's pantleg when she went by. She dropped down to talk to him while I got a staffer to open the cage. Once out of the cage, he rubbed himself all over us, purring like mad, head-butted us repeatedly, and clearly indicated that we were to get him Out Of There Immediately.

We obeyed. That was about 6.5 years ago and he's still going strong.

We were not the only people leaving with adult cats that day, either.

#948 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 09:20 PM:

More anecdata for Syd -- I specifically wanted a grown-up spayed female cat when I looked at the local shelter, not a kitten. And I looked online and picked a few likely ones to meet from their website before I even went in. There WILL be people looking for cats just like yours.

#949 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2012, 10:03 PM:

There appears to be a new open thread.

#950 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2012, 04:02 AM:

Syd, I'm so sorry to hear it. Holding out good thoughts for you and your kitties.

#951 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 03:38 PM:

Melissa Singer @168/854: my niece is designing a guinea pig amusement park already, lol.

Coupla pointers: baby pigs love to run around things.* Tunnels are all well and good, though (evolutionarily speaking) they're also a good place to get trapped (and therefore eaten). High-value guinea pig locations are: routes around things, and little covered spots to hide under. Routes-around-things that are inside of covered-spots-to-hide-under are double-plus fun. (Stools or toy tables with towels draped over them make excellent covered spots.)

A large play area wherein fun objects can be moved around into different configurations can offer days and days of fun.

For the convenience of the human, I suggest leaving a small cage in the play area, in the same location every day. When it's time for piggy to go in, place some yummy treat in the small cage, and say "[Pig's name], come get a treat!" Repeat this phrase, the pig will eventually connect treat/location/phrase, and be much easier to collect at the end of the day. Chasing the pig around the play area is a mug's game, especially a young pig. Trust me on this.


* I've concluded that, evolutionarily, what they're doing is rehearsing escape routes, so that when that predator does attack, the nearest escape route is already well loaded into muscle-memory. The down side is that they don't actually use their vision to navigate when they spook, so if a new obstacle is placed in a familiar escape route, a startled (which doesn't take much) pig will run *smack* into it at full speed.

#952 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2012, 03:41 PM:

me @951: Above comment mistakenly posted to this thread; reposted to OT169.

#953 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2012, 10:55 PM:

Manatee particle: Is "serenity" a pun?

#954 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: September 15, 2012, 07:08 AM:

The Diffraction link "Zippo Tricks" is broken (needs http://).

While I'm here, do any secret webmasters of Tor know the trick of unsubscribing from the Tor newsletter? All I get from the unsubscribe link in each email is this deeply unhelpful page, which not only fails to offer an unsubscribe option but asserts that There Is No Newsletter available for "subscribtion".

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